“Hardly,” I laughed hollowly.
“No, you are,” he insisted. “You’re better at everything than I am.”
“That’s probably true,” I said, and Lazlo laughed. I even smiled a little.
The sun started to rise above the horizon, and I felt a little better. I was just thinking that Lazlo might not be a total idiot when the SUV began decelerating. Based on the panicked expression on Lazlo’s face as he pounded the gas pedal, I knew he had no clue what was going on.
Then the SUV stopped moving entirely.
– 10 –
“What the hell happened?” I demanded.
Lazlo shook his head, fiddling around with the gauges on the car. A monitor mounted in the dash for GPS and satellite radio glowed blankly the way it always had. In some strange attempt to revive the car, Lazlo flicked on the dome light.
“What’s going on?” Blue asked groggily from the back.
“I don’t know. The car just stopped,” Lazlo managed to downplay the anxiety in his voice.
“Did you hit anything?” Blue leaned forward between the seats to investigate further.
Lazlo accidentally clicked on the stereo, causing Bon Jovi’s hit song “Wanted Dead or Alive” to come blasting out of the speakers, scaring the hell out of the three girls sleeping in the back.
“Sorry!” Lazlo fumbled, turning it off.
“What’s happening? Why aren’t we moving?” Lia asked frantically.
“I don’t know!” Lazlo snapped in frustrated. “It just stopped!”
“Whatever. I have to pee,” Harlow sighed and got out of the car, and Vega went with her.
I considered telling them to watch out for zombies, but the rising sun showed nothing around. Mountains were off in the distance, but the land around the highway was still fairly flat, with green shrubbery dotting it. Other than sparse vegetation, there was nothing.
We had traveled through a small town about an hour before, but it looked just as deserted as this. Zombies tended to only be a problem when there was an actual population, not a forgotten stretch of highway.
“Oh, I see.” Blue nodded. “We’re out of gas.”
“What do you mean we’re out of gas?” I glared at Lazlo.
“Oh,” Lazlo said as understanding hit him. “I didn’t even notice.”
“You didn’t notice?” I shouted incredulously, but he looked more exasperated than ashamed. “You’re a fricking idiot!”
I threw open the door and got out. Sitting there pissed me off too much, so I paced next to the car. My mind raced. Losing the vehicle would slow us down so much, and we’d be way more exposed to injury or death. All because Lazlo didn’t think to pay attention to the damn gas gauge.
“Maybe we can figure something out.” Blue got out of the car. He ran a hand through his sandy hair and looked around.
“Remy.” Lazlo had gotten out and walked around the front of the SUV. Based on his stupid sad expression, I suspected he got out to calm me down. “I’m sorry. I just didn’t think about it.”
“That’s right!” I reeled on him. “You never think! I have no idea how you ever survived this long!”
“Look, I’m sorry!” Lazlo looked hurt, but I didn’t care. “I haven’t driven a car in like a year, and the little red gas gauge light never went off.”
“Seriously?” I gaped at him. “God, Lazlo! I don’t care if you’d never driven a car ever! You should be able to tell when we’re running out of gas!”
“I’m an idiot! I screwed up!” Lazlo yelled back. “What do you want me to do about it?”
“I want you to-” I didn’t know what I wanted but I was so pissed, I couldn’t stand it. I pushed him, hard. He’d been standing close to the SUV, and he slammed back into it.
“Remy!” Blue took a step towards us.
I wanted to punch Lazlo, or punch anything really, but I just shook my head and took a step back.
“Maybe we should all calm down,” Lia said, sliding out of the car, but she really just meant me, since everyone else was irritatingly calm. “We can all eat and stretch our legs.”
“Stretch our legs?” I scoffed. “We’re gonna be walking for the next thousand miles!”
“Remy, we’ll find another town.” Blue looked at me, as if he could stare me into being reasonable. “We’ll figure something out. It’s not that bad.”
“I am really sorry,” Lazlo repeated, rubbing his shoulder. I had pushed him back into the car pretty hard, but he deserved it.
I nodded but didn’t say anything. I was too deflated to argue anymore, and it wouldn’t make the situation any better. Nothing I did seemed to make anything better.
Lia went around to the back of the SUV to see if she could find something to make for breakfast, and Lazlo went to help her. Ripley jumped out and stood in the middle of the road, sniffing the air and looking confused.
For breakfast we had SPAM and olives because they were heavier to carry, and we needed to lighten our loads. Things like beef jerky traveled easier. I didn’t eat much of anything, settling for warm water and pacing. Lia made everyone say grace before they ate, but I mumbled through it
Afterwards, I climbed in the back of the SUV and went through our stuff. Harlow helped sift through her clothes, and I picked out the bare essentials everyone could carry. This meant I’d have to leave behind the shotgun I’d stolen from Korech.
I hated leaving behind weapons, but we didn’t have any bullets for it, and we might never find any. We only had two guns, so I gave the handgun to Blue and kept the semi-automatic for myself.
With our bags packed as concisely as possible, I grudgingly said goodbye to the vehicle. We started down the road, going north. I downsized back to my overflowing messenger bag with the gun hooked to it, and everyone else had done roughly the same.
Harlow’s mood had strangely lightened since we started the long trek down the highway, and she and Lia had a banter that I found mildly irritating. They talked cheerfully about everything they saw on the side of the road and plunged into an intense game of “I Spy.”
“I spy with my little eye….” Lia chewed her lip, thinking of something good, which would inevitably be a tree or a stone or some other piece of vegetation, since there had been nothing of interest to look at for miles. “Something… green.”
“Um...” Harlow looked around, and I’m not sure if she was pretending to debate to build suspense, or she was actually that clueless.