I walked the rest of the night, past the dawn, and into the morning. Spider was hungry. I was hungry. I shed tears for my parents, but could I hate him? Last night, he was so helpless—just an old man stumbling in the road. The air felt colder, inviting winter. The weather would work against us soon; we needed to find a spot to hold up for the long, dark months. I wove through rows of little houses—little bungalows tucked behind fading trees. Eventually I had to go back, and I was empty-handed.
Once I found the highway, I turned toward the park. Our world usually slept on Sunday mornings. A car flashed behind me, zipped past, but stopped abruptly just in front of me. I kept my head down as I walked beside the car.
“Jack?” Meghan’s voice shot from the car. “What are you doing out here?”
I shrugged. “Just walking.”
“Jack,” she said and her voice wavered, “have you seen Amanda?”
I bent to see inside the car. Her eyes looked dark, rimmed with red. “Your sister? No.” I shook my head, trying to shake out the thoughts that materialized inside.
“She ran away…Amanda was so upset, must’ve slipped out of bed in the dark, looking for Patches. She wasn’t home when we got up. I think she left early this morning.” Meghan leaned over and pushed the passenger door open. “Get in; I can take you home.”
My stomach flipped. “No thanks, really. I just want some air. I tell your sister to hurry home if I see her around.” I stepped to the car and slammed the door shut. “Thanks though.”
Meghan nodded, and with a quick growl the car was gone. I hesitated for a moment, frozen inside, but quickly ran toward the park, the old factory, and Spider.