Chapter 42 - Red
Alan and I stood at the bottom of a hill in a copse of trees. Apoc lay in the dried leaves, next to a small stash of supplies. Alan had just run up a few minutes ago. He’d sent the ATV to the bottom of a ravine 2 miles away and then run back.
“Ok. You two wait here I’m gonna go make the introductions to Red. When I whistle, you come over”, he motioned to the Winnebago under the trees. With that he snuck across the clearing tree to tree keeping the cover overhead.
I watched his progress. Apoc was still fast asleep. I was beginning to get jealous, my head had started pounding a couple hours ago and the racket was just getting louder and louder, like I’d been listening to my Ipod with the volume up too high on the earbuds.
I think that I may have dozed for a moment. The next thing I remember was a whistle. For a moment I looked around for the dog. Oh yeah, that’s supposed to be me.
I got to my feet and followed the same pattern that Alan had traversed keeping under the cover of the trees till I got to the Winnebago. A dog on the other side of the RV began to bark it’s fool head off, he must have caught my scent.
The RV had seen better days and now looked like a permanent fixture of the forest. The moss and dirt seemed to have taken root on the fiberglass and metal siding providing it’s own camouflage. A collection of random broken items strewn about really brought up the redneck quotient. I rounded the rig to come face to face with hunched over old man with a blondish comb-over, bright blue eyes, bow legs and face like a weathered crab apple with three slits. Two for eyes and one for teeth. A pair of reading glasses hung over his dirty flannel shirt. The dog was a Rottweiler with spiked necklace, but he shut up the moment I rounded the corner.
“Now she’s an ugly cur, ain’t cha’? Scared the bark outta’ Tank over there. Tank, you’re a pussy - all bark and no balls. Well, you have my attention and you say she can speak English?”
“No she can understand it. She says that she’s human and that they did some sorta DNA modification to her.” Alan corrected.
“Can they undo it? She doesn’t look like any breed I’ve ever seen.”
“Just ask her a question.”
“So, how long you known Alan here? Five? Five what? H... R...? Five hours? Bullshit. This is bullshit you’re giving her commands. Stand over there Alan behind her so’s she can’t see you.”
“Are you a puppet or a robot?” Red continued.
I shook my head.
“Is Alan a fool who thinks he can fool me? Take your hands out of your pockets Alan. Keep ’em where I can see ’em.”
“What kinda answer is that?”
“I think it’s her version of ‘I don’t know’” Alan said.
“Ok, you can clam up now Alan. Is Alan an idiot? No, no, don’t look at him, just answer the question. And answer carefully.”
I drew in the dirt.
“Sometimes, but not usually. Interesting. Evasive. Not sure how you’re doing it. If I catch you giving signals, I’m going to break your arm, deal?”
Alan sucked in a breath. “Ok.”
Red eyed Alan for a minute trying to shake his barely contained nervous calm. Then he motioned me over to a small card table with graph paper and pencils. “C’mere. You stay there Alan.” Red eyed his quiet dog Tank who stood at the far edge of his chains reach.
I climbed up on one of the metal deck chairs and faced the table. Red was making crossword puzzles.