Alex didn’t reveal where they were going until they were half-way there. He sat in the back seat of the car, with Barb in front as Amy drove. “You know the rest of the way to David’s house,” he said.

“Your cousin?” she asked, surprised.

“Yes. He might have some ideas about what’s happening.”

Barb turned to look at him. “Are you serious? The whole government’s probably got it figured out by now.”

Amy saw him smile in the rear view mirror. “Have you noticed that there aren’t any patrol cars on the road?”

“Yeah!” Barb said. “They’re probably getting their orders, like you should.”

“Maybe, or maybe not.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“A big part of my job is to find my own answers,” he said patiently.

“But what about your partner?”

“It’s a partnership of convenience, obviously.”

“Why do you think there aren’t any patrol cars?” Amy asked him, wondering what his original point was.

“The attackers might be setting a trap.”

What?” Amy and Barb asked simultaneously.

"In the military, the most important thing I learned in order to stay alive was to anticipate and be prepared for worst case situations."

Amy thought about that in light of her own recent experience. “You didn’t expect Mark to leave,” she said. “That’s very unusual, isn’t it?”

“Yes. He was also scared. That’s unusual too.”

Barb said, “So you lied before.”

“No. I’m talking about the first time, at the table, when I mentioned my experience. I think it changed how Mark thought about the situation. Leaving me behind could have been his choice, for tactical reasons.”

Amy recalled his advice in the coffee shop. “It would be easier to contact people if they headed downtown. You told them to go home because that might not be safe.”

He smiled approvingly at her through the mirror. “They would be an easier target there, that’s right.”

“Oh, my God,” she gasped. “Derek!”

“I wouldn’t worry about your brother,” Alex said. “He’s probably hanging out with David.”

They were quiet for the rest of the way, with Barb staring ahead, rigid with fear. Amy wanted to comfort her, but couldn’t imagine how to do it.



© 2018 Bradley Jarvis