“Hi, Daddy. I’m hungry,” Max said with a smile.
Tookes woke up with a start as a huge grin spread across his face. “Good morning Max!” He exclaimed. “I’m happy you’re awake! How do you feel?”
“I’m fine, my leg hurts, and these bugs are noisy. They talk and talk. Steve says sorry he scared you. He told me you were here all night watching me.”
Victor looked Max over and said, “I wouldn’t leave you when you were sick. I love you buddy, but what you did was very naughty! You should never leave the house without telling a grown up.”
“But I had to go. My bugs were dying, and I needed Steve’s bugs to make mine better. Jason gave all his to Steve, and then I told Steve to bring them all and give them to me.” Max held out his hand to his father, who took it in his own.
“You told Steve to bite you? Why would you do that?”
“Thats the only way to get his bugs into me, Dad. The bad men that took me from here gave me a shot. My bugs took the medicine they gave me to make me sleep. They said that because they did that, it was hurting them, but they needed me to be awake to escape.”
“Max, never do that again without talking to me.” Victor said, filing that bit of information away. “If you told me they were sick I would understand. I would try to help, but I was so afraid you were sick. I was very scared.”
“I’m sorry Dad. Can I have some food?”
“Sure buddy, I’ll go get you a cheese sandwich. Gramma made cheese last week, I bet she saved some for you.”
“Ok. Thanks, you’re the best Dad ever. Can you send Mr. John in here while you get my sandwich?”
“Sure thing, Maxmonster. You’re the best little boy ever.”
Victor walked out of the room and down the stairs towards the kitchen. In the small dining room John was sitting at the table surrounded by guns and gun parts, meticulously cleaning every speck of carbon and dirt off every part. He looked up at Victor when he entered the room. “How’s the boy, mate?”
“He’s awake finally. Said that he told Steve to bite him because he needed their bugs. He said that his bugs were dying because of something Frye gave him. Seemed like something we might be able to use, if it can make the parasites sick. Anyways, he asked for you while I go make him a sandwich.”
John wiped the film off his hands with towel and stood up. “I’ll go see to him. Glad he’s awake and feeling right.” John walked towards Victor to head upstairs as Victor turned right to go down into the kitchen.
At the top of the stairs, John turned left into Max’s room and said, “Heya Maximillion, how ya feeling bucko?” as he sat on the end of the bed. He kicked off his boots and stretched his toes.
“I am hungry Mr. John. It is important that you talk to your family. The bugs can feel how sad I am for you. ” Max made a sad face to mimic the feeling.
“Just call me John when no-one else is around mate. Tell ’em I said that they have no idea how sad,” John laid down along the bottom of the bed on his side facing Max
“They can hear you John, and they feel as we do now. Not like the bad bugs. The bugs say I have enough strength now to talk to Sean, would you like to talk to Mr. Sean?”
“Mate, there is nothing more I would like to talk to him, except maybe deck him.”
Max sat up and held John’s hand and the heat built up causing John’s palm to sweat.
“Mr. Sean, are you awake?” Talking through Max was so much more than when Tookes talked to him. Not only were the words more clear but you could see the thoughts, the path of the connection, and feel the emotion between minds. John was amazed that Max could handle the intensity of the connection.
“I am now kiddo, are you ok? I lost ya there for a while. Is your father ok? He is no longer on my grid mate. Where is that dic… err brother of mine?”
“Sean?” John said out aloud.
“Bloody hell John, don’t yell! You’re as bad as Victor, talk in your head mate. How you doing?”
“Yeah good mate. Holiday got extended, I think I’ve gone over my visa. Yaself?”
“Ya idiot. Good, Jo and the kids are here sleeping. We are safe here, well a lot safer now.” As Sean looked over to John’s family, John could see his wife, his kids, sleeping peacefully through waves of light blue. Then the vision dissapeared.
“Max, I told you to warn me before looking through my eyes mate. It hurts.” John felt Max apologise to Sean, but no words were spoken. John wondered how long Max and Sean had been talking “They probably didn’t know the connection” he thought.
“John, I can hear your thoughts when we’re connected like this mate. It took us a few months to register it, Max told me one day about two weeks ago that I sounded funny like his friend Mr. John. John, the locals are trying to claim back Australia with the help of some of us white fella’s, but we have one hell of a super zombie team here at the moment. Three zombies wiped out forty humans with powers in Western Australia last week. They didn’t stand a chance mate, I heard everything.
“Sean, settle down. I got a plan now that I can see into ya head. And stop swearing with Max here. How is Jo coping?” John imagined his plan as a computer file, and then imagined sending it to Sean like an attachment to an email.
“Righto, that’s a good plan, John. You learn to quick sometimes, for a drongo!. Jo is great, she keeps quiet but she is as much as a deviant as you are. She’s sacrificed my life twice now. I woulda taken it to heart, except she’d have done the same to you, if it meant saving the kids. Apparently we are tougher to kill than you bastards in yankland. That’s why Laura is here at the moment. We killed off too many to quick, but after your last fight with all those supers, she may be going home sooner then expected.”
“John, I need to eat.” Max said aloud and John nodded in response.
“Sean get my family here, you are all welcome to come. Tell Frank I said thanks, tell the family I love them. and Sean, it kills me to say this, but I am proud of you little brother. Thanks mate, I love you.”
“Ditto bro, now let the kid rest and I’ll talk to you in a week.”
John sat up and put a hand on Max’s shoulder “Thanks bucko.”
“It’s okay. Mr. John, did you like where I showed your wife and kids?”
“I did, very much.” John sat back and his eyes welled up with the happiness of seeing his family and the good chance that he will see them again in a few weeks, when Victor walked back in.
“Is Mr. John telling sad stories?”
“No Daddy!! I was showing Mr. John a happy beginning!”
Tookes remembered Max eating an entire box of cereal bars after the first time he’d been bitten. This time he brought Max two fresh mozzarella cheese sandwiches, an apple, a pear, and a glass of milk. they all watched in amazement as he ate every bite, including the cores of the fruit before draining the glass of milk.
“I’m still hungry, Dad,” Max said, his belly distended.
“Let’s let that settle a little bit buddy. Then you can have anything you want in a few minutes. Your fever is still up, do you need to rest some more?”
“I’m sleepy,” said Max.
“Ya, mate, I’m sleepy too,” said John with a grin.
I kissed Max on the forehead, and pulled his blanket up over him. “Have a good sleep buddy. We’ll be here when you wake up.”
John and I walked out of the room, and down to the kitchen where we found the rest of the crew.
“Hey Mom. He woke up for a little bit, appears to be ok. He ate two sandwiches, an apple and a pear before downing a huge glass of milk. Last time he was bitten, he ate everything he could get his hands on for a day or two afterwards.”
“Oh, thank God,” Sharon said.
“Since we’re all here,” Victor continued. “I’d like to go into Charlottesville with Marshall today and see if we can work out getting a train running. We can scout around for tools and supplies that are already there, maybe we can find the steel and welding equipment to armor it up.”
“Vic, do you think you can really get to Renee?” Sharon had thought of nothing else since finding out her only daughter and two grand-daughters were alive.
“I’ll get her, and the kids. I promise,” Vic said, nodding his head slowly.
Marshall and Victor went into the kitchen followed by John and Leo. “We don’t like the idea of you two going in alone,” said Leo as she closed the door.
“I’d rather have you two with me too,” Tookes said, “But I can’t leave Max here alone, I need you two here in case Frye or the nutjobs try to get him again. I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to drive a train, and Marshall is the best welder of all of us. It makes the most sense for the two of us to go. Besides, the two of you are best equipped to fight humans. Your speed and John’s guns will make quick work of any humans that come our way. I’m really only good at one on one fights, and Marshall is good at breaking things. If I left Marshall here he’d probably throw the house at frye.” Tookes said with a big grin.
“What do you want us to do here then?” Asked John.
“Mostly, I want you to stay in the house and guard the boy. Let the fire teams on patrol handle anything they can. If anyone gets inside the house, kill them. If they get to Max’s room, Leo I want you to grab Max and get him as far away as you can go in one hop.”
“Speaking of that. What did you learn up in the national forest Leo?”
“Well. By myself, I can go about 15 miles,” she said. “If I’m carrying a 15 stone adult, It drops to about eight miles. If I’m carrying two adults, its only about one mile. I can move a rock the size of a small garden shed about five feet, but then I couldn’t even run for a few minutes. My power comes back pretty quickly, but it does appear to be finite. If I use it all in one shot, like when I moved that huge boulder, it took about five minutes before I could move it again. The last interesting thing I learned, the more different things I take with me, the harder it is. Carrying four humans is 100 times harder than two humans. I’m not sure what thats about, but I could move all of us plus Max maybe 100 yards,” she said.
“Can you teleport someone or something and not go with it?”
“I’ve never tried that, but I don’t think so. I think I have to be there to guide the re-entry.”
“Ok, anything else you learned?”
“I’d been in the same spot for about an hour when a zombie came stumbling out of the woods. I don’t know haw far he came from, but I moved the big boulder first. I think he’d been walking that whole hour. He felt me move it from as much as three or four miles away.”
“Thanks for doing all of that, I know it was dangerous work,” Victor said.
Max slept most of the afternoon. He woke up for about an hour to eat some more, and then went back to bed for the night. Marshall and Tookes spent the rest of the afternoon planning the next days visit to the train yard.