“Towels! We need-” Static. “-bring them here?”
“Yeah, fine. Sure. I’ll bring you towels,” I said. Mae started to say something else, but the call dropped, which was just as well. I didn’t want to listen to the static anymore.
I had nothing better to do, so I went to the bathroom and gathered up a bunch of towels. I’m not sure how many they needed, so I just grabbed a lot. I thought about grabbing more stuff, like blankets and pillows, but Peter had already gotten a lot of stuff to make the place livable.
Since no one was around to stop me, I took the Lamborghini, but I parked it out of the way when I get to the bridge. A bright red sports car parked right by the underpass would stick out. Carrying a stack of towels down a slippery ravine proved more difficult than I had thought it would be, but I managed.
Peter had torn out more of the concrete, so the hole into the tunnel was much larger than it had been before. I could stand up and walk in, and there was still plenty of room around me.
Before I even got to the cavern where they were staying, I could hear Daisy’s voice echoing off the walls. She had a lovely singing voice, especially for a small child, but she was butchering the lyrics to “Hey Jude.”
I found her in the tunnel just outside of the entrance to the cavern. Her blond curls were tied back in a ribbon, and she crouched down on the concrete. A tub of fat sticks of colored chalk was spilled out next to her, and she scribbled furiously at a picture on the ground.
“Hey, Daisy,” I said, walking over to her. She appeared to be coloring a picture of a flying, purple hippo, but I could be wrong.
“Hi, Alice.” She glanced up at me, but her concentration was clearly on the picture.
“How are you doing?” I asked.
“Good. I got new chalk today cause I was bored. Mae says we can’t have music or Sesame Street down here. I hope we move soon.”
“Yeah, that’ll probably be good,” I agreed. “Is anyone else around here?”
“Peter’s inside.” Daisy pointed to the entrance. “Mae is gone, and I don’t know where that other guy went.”
“What other guy?” I asked, tensing up.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “The other guy that lives here.”
“Oh, Leif?” I had actually forgotten that he’d be staying here too, and my stomach twisted. I hadn’t talked to him since I found that picture of Milo and me. Then I remembered what Bobby had said about Leif being a killer, and that didn’t make me feel any better.
“That’s a silly name,” Daisy commented.
“It sure is. Well, I’ll let you get back to your coloring,” I said, and she just nodded.
The cavern looked much better than it did before, but you could only dress up a sewer so much. Mae had draped brightly colored curtains all over to add separations and to cover up the walls. In one corner, Daisy had a massive pile of toys and coloring books. Three mattresses had been made up and sat in different areas, and Peter laid on the one closest to the cliff, reading a book.
“Hey, Peter.” I walked over to him and dropped the towels by the bed. “I brought you some towels.”
“Oh. Thanks.” He set aside his book and sat up. “Mae didn’t think you heard her. She ran to Wal-Mart to pick up more supplies.”
“Why didn’t she send you?” I asked.
“Apparently, I forgot too much stuff the last time I went.”
“I see.” I looked around the cavern. “You’ve really dressed up the place.”
“It’s better, I guess,” Peter shrugged. “I was busy all day looking for somewhere to else to move.”
“Did you find anywhere?” I asked, sitting next to him on the mattress.
“Not yet. But we will soon.”
“That’s…” I leaned forward, resting my arms on my knees, and didn’t know what to say. It felt mean saying it was good that he was leaving soon. “Why are you leaving with them?” He gave me a look. “No, I mean, you can go anywhere. Why are you leaving with them? As opposed to anywhere else on earth.”
“Contrary to popular belief, I don’t want to wander the earth alone,” Peter said. “Mae and I were never as close as even she and Jack were, but I’ve always cared about her. I want both her and Daisy to be okay.
“And I’m doing it for Ezra too,” Peter went on. “Ezra’s done everything for me, for Mae. He’s been the rock that held together a lot of shit.” His voice went low as he thought of what they’d been through together. “But he can’t protect Mae from this, and I know it kills him. So I’ll go with her, I’ll take care of her, because he can’t.”
“How is Daisy doing? Is she better here?” I asked.
“Not really.” He glanced towards the tunnel, where Daisy had begun to sing the theme song to Sesame Street. “She wakes up screaming all the time because she’s in so much pain.”
“Pain?” I asked. “Her transformation is long over. She shouldn’t be in pain.”
“It’s not from that,” he shook his head. “She’s so hungry, all the time, and it leaves in her almost constant agony. A child’s body really isn’t meant to handle the change.”
“Oh my gosh.” I swallowed hard, listening to her sing. “What does Mae think about all of this?”
“I don’t know,” Peter sighed. “I think she’s just starting to realize exactly what’s she done to Daisy. Up until now, she’s been able to justify it that she saved Daisy, that the life she gave her would be better than death. But with Daisy being in so much pain, I don’t think Mae can say that anymore.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, unsure of what else to say.
“Not everything with Daisy is horrible, though,” he said. “Some of it’s just weird. She keeps trying to chase down rats and kill them, so I have to stop her from doing that.” He raised his eyebrows. “She eats cockroaches.”
“She catches them and eats them whole, and then she gets really sick and throws them up because she can’t digest a bug. That’s why we need the towels.” He ran a hand through his hair and exhaled. “Along with the bugs, she throws up blood, so we have to feed her two or three times a day to keep her to keep her hunger down and her pain at a tolerable level. We’re going through so much blood.”