Hollowland / Page 45

Page 45


“Huh,” Harlow said, summing up the awed shock we felt about that statement.

“Here you go.” Tatum stopped abruptly at a trailer.

It seemed almost at random, since the trailers were identical, except for varying shades between white, gray, and tan. Ours was gray, with black metal steps leading to the doorway. The numbers 1185 had been written on the door with black spray paint, and I guessed that was our address now.

“This is your unit. There is a mess hall in the center, by the main building.” Tatum gestured to the cement building to the left of our trailer. “That’s where all the meals and community activities take place. We have a garden you’ll be expected to work in, as well as various other tasks that will be assigned to you. Clothing will be appropriated to you. For now, just go inside, make yourselves comfortable, and Bishop will be along to help you get settled in.”

“Wait,” I said when he started to turn away. “When can I see my brother?”

“I was wondering how long it would take you to ask,” Tatum gave me a wry smile. “I’m not even sure that your brother is here. I’ll look into it and get back to you.”

“What about this Bishop person? Will he know?” I pressed.

“No. She doesn’t know anything about what goes on inside the building,” Tatum answered. “She just runs the day to day activities out here.” He nodded, then continued walking away.

“His name is Max King!” I called after Tatum. “He’s eight years old!”

I wanted to see Max, but I didn’t have the insistent panic I had come in with. I had time to see him, and I didn’t want to make enemies of the people who could help me. So I didn’t chase after Tatum like I wanted to.

“Come on,” Lazlo put his hand on the small of my back so he could usher me up the stairs. “Let’s go see our new home.” Harlow dashed up ahead of us, but I looked grimly at Lazlo.

“Where’s Blue?” My stomach tensed, fearing the worst.

“He went into the main building. He’s medical staff,” Lazlo assured me with a smile. “We all made it through.”

“We have lights!” Harlow squealed flicking on the light as soon as she walked inside.

The trailer reminded me of a camper I had stayed in when I was a kid. The door entered right into the kitchen, which was little more than a hallway with cupboards on either side. The countertops were a gray faux marble, the floor cheap off-white linoleum meant to look like tile, and the cupboards were fake blonde wood. A small fridge and stovetop were at one end, and a sink sat in the middle, underneath a small window.

Harlow ran immediately to the sink, truly thrilled by everything she saw, and turned it on. “We have water!”

With that affirmation, she dashed to the other end to explore the bedrooms. Off the kitchen to the right was a small living/dining room area. A beige and blue striped couch wrapped around the table, like a booth. A small recliner, the only chair in the place, sat next to the door, and a 13 inch TV sat across from it on a small stand.

To the left of the kitchen, a narrow hallway led down to the bedrooms. On one side of the hall were closets and storage space, on the other, a small bathroom with a shower.

The bedrooms were both incredibly small, but one was clearly meant to be the master. It had a full mattress with a narrow walkway on either side, a small closet, and cupboards hanging above the headboard.

Every window in the house had curtains, but the ones in the bedroom were particularly nice. They were white cotton with a flowery design embroidered in them in white thread.

I went over to touch them, feeling oddly sentimental about having curtains again. It’d been so long since I had stayed anywhere where there had been window treatments.

“I suppose you’ll take this room.” Harlow leaned against the doorway.

The bedrooms and bathroom had pocket doors that slid inside the wall, and she pulled absently at the door. I glanced back at Lazlo, who had taken a seat on the bed, running his hands along the beige bedspread.

“You’ll want a room to yourself, won’t you?” Lazlo asked with a lopsided smile.

“We can figure out sleeping arrangements later.” I didn’t want to get into it right now. I could feel Lazlo watching me, but I refused to look back. “Why don’t you go see if you can get anything on the TV?”

“You can’t get anything on TV.” Harlow rolled her eyes. “Everything in the world is down.”

I might’ve tried to convince her to go do something, but a knock at the front door interrupted me. Harlow looked back over her shoulder. I turned to Lazlo to see if he knew anything, but he just shrugged.

“Should I answer it?” Harlow asked, and I couldn’t tell if she was excited or nervous about the prospect of visitors.

“Hello?” a woman’s voice called, and the front door creaked open. “Is anyone here?”

“Um, yeah, we are,” I said and tried to push past Harlow.

As I squeezed by her, I smacked my injured hip on the narrow doorway. Wincing as discreetly as I could manage, I glanced down. The bite had already started bleeding through the tee shirt and sweats, and I didn’t want anybody to know about it. I didn’t know how to cover it up without anybody noticing, so I decided to lag behind, letting Harlow and Lazlo go ahead of me to greet our visitor.

“Oh, good,” the woman said brightly. “I was afraid they’d given me the wrong address again. It’s so hard to find a place when they all look alike here.” She gave a small, warm laugh after that, and it made me not dislike her.

I walked behind Lazlo, keeping my body angled so the blood on my clothes would face away from her. She looked about fifty-ish, with graying blond hair pulled back with a bandana around her head. Her pants were a durable Dickies type khaki, but she wore a weird flowy brown smock over them. She looked like a hippie flower child meets Rosie the Riveter.

“I’m Sara Bishop, but everyone just calls me Bishop. I’ll help you get settled in,” she smiled reassuringly at us. Harlow crossed her arms and tried to look skeptical, but Lazlo returned it with his 100 watt smile. “I know just about everything you need to know about this place.”

“Great,” Harlow said.

“Now, are you all a family?” Bishop asked, eyeing us.

“Not exactly,” I said, leaning my shoulder and side against wall in the hallway. It killed, pressing my open wound against the wall like that, but it kept it hidden.


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