The residents of Selah Ranch gathered in the main common room to share information after a fitful night of sleep. The hot fires from the corpses burned throughout the night and were now down to cleansed embers in the bottom of the pit. The faint smell of smoke drifted everywhere, even in the main house. August listened to their stories, of the infected rats and of the visit to New Pueblo and its leader Tomás. His face darkened as they mentioned Jason and the other ex-residents of Selah Ranch in the zombie attack, but he said nothing. Then he told the story of Fort Collins and the werewolf virus. "And that's what I know." August looked around the room. He pointed at Ted. "The virus made you immune to the original Z Virus, but you should be none the worse for it, according to Holden and his people." August looked at Shelly. "It looks like you have the whole werewolf thing going on. Without the serum I injected you with, you'd be running around the forest now."
Claire looked at Shelly and August. "I'll radio Fort Collins and talk more to Frank. I want to make sure I can synthesize the werewolf serum. And they might have more information now that they've had time to study Hemanth."
"In the meantime, it's prudent if we restrict your movements and keep an eye on how you're doing," August said to Shelly.
"But if you do go all hound-dog on us, we'll hunt you down and cure you again." Nancy looked around the small group as they nodded. "Just makin' sure we can do that."
Ted spoke up, his voice weak. "I need a t-shirt that says 'I survived the zombies and all I got was this lousy virus.' How's that sound?"
"I'll take one, Ted." Nancy reached over and patted his hand, grimacing as her ribs shifted.
"Watch those ribs, Nancy. At least two ribs are broken, and a few more are cracked. Take it easy for a few weeks."
Ted smiled at Nancy. "I guess we'll skip the t-shirts. Maybe we can watch some videos."
August looked at Claire. "So what's with Jed? You said he was sick."
Claire shrugged. "I don't know, August. I'm hoping Lone Wolf can figure it out when he catches up with him."
"The four-wheeler can go about eighty miles, but the gas cans are missing, too. If Jed took them, that will double his distance. If they went straight to Vegas over the mountains, and the roads are clear, it might take Lone Wolf a few days on horseback to catch him."
Claire's eyebrows furrowed. "I hope he lasts that long, August. Honestly, he looked pretty bad."
"Jed's tough. Always was." August sat back in his chair. "I can head to Vegas to get Maddie back. With the new motorcycle, I can travel during the dark and let it charge for a few hours each morning as I catch some sleep. I can be in Vegas in two days. I'll be a day behind Sam and Maddie."
"Lone Wolf mentioned that Vegas is a bad place for you, August," said Claire, concern written on her face.
August took a deep breath and exhaled. "Perhaps, but that doesn't matter. Someone has to go, and I'm the logical choice."
"Why?" asked Claire. "Because you're a man and I'm a woman?"
August laughed and grinned at her. "No, because you're the doctor and I'm not. You're needed here."
"Oh. Well, that makes sense," said Claire, mollified.
"I can go, too. Your cycle isn't huge, but it would carry me, if I went, right?" Everyone turned to look at Fae. "I don't weigh much. And I owe Sam for the virus that killed Momma Linda." Fae's eyes glinted as she said Sam's name.
August looked at Fae, opening his mouth to object, but Claire's small shake of her head stopped him. "Yes, it would carry us both. That's a good idea. I don't know what we'll run into in Vegas, but I doubt it will be good."
Nancy coughed and looked at the group with tears in her eyes. "We have time for a funeral for Linda, right?" She looked at everyone. "She deserves it. She saved my life. She saved me from my own husband and daughters. She was a sister to me."
Fae spoke up. "And she was a mother to me." She smiled tenderly at Nancy. "So are you, Momma Nancy." She looked at August, her chin held high. "I already dug the grave, on the hillside, under a sycamore. She can see the river from there."
"We bury our own," August said solemnly. He looked around the room. "We can have the funeral and leave right after that. Does that work?"
August looked at Fae. "Bring your weapons. You'll need them."