Jori pulled the van to a lurching stop, and the other vans did the same — off to the side of the road, out of habit, not because anyone else would be driving along. “Go back!” Thuy shouted. “We have to go back!” The sounds of the others in his van were a cacophony of discord; of course they could go back — but only if they were willing to face The Nameless, the hungry shades that moved through this world and another devouring eyes and hearts and leaving only emptiness in their wake, never finished, never sated.
“Addie,” Eli breathed, brushing her hair back from her face. “Addie, is he–“
Addie screamed, her back arching, and writhed in Eli’s arms, convulsing, screaming Cole’s name.
Eli screamed “DRIVE!” at the same time I screamed “GO BACK!” and Jori looked terrified to comply in either case.
“We can’t go back, Jason!” Eli shouted at me. “It’s suicide!”
“Yeah? If you get left behind, do you want us to leave you?”
Silence, suddenly, so I turned to Jori and pointed at him warningly. “Turn around. No one’s left behind. You turn the hell around, and you GO BACK, and We Will Get Cole because We do NOT leave anyone behind!”
“Guys?” Thuy called, as we turned the caravan around. “Are we really doing this? Lydia’s barely–“
When Jori floored it back toward the crossroad, Thuy must have dropped his radio; he went quiet, and instead, kept up. The middle van turned and followed us quickly; the people inside weren’t going to take sides so much as follow whoever seemed like they had the best ideas, and was the furthest from dying horribly at any given moment.
The bells of the church kept ringing as we drove past the gas station, the vet’s office, the closed Bike shop, the nursery, where windows stood shuttered like closed eyes, or broken, like blinded ones. Cole was no longer at the circle itself — either he’d run, and was hiding, or they’d already found him.
Addie finally went silent, closing her eyes and holding her head. She curled up, trembling, muttering to herself, and pulled away from Eli, who got up and jabbed a finger in my chest, saying, “If we lose ten people going back for one, don’t expect me not to say I told you so.”
“What about just now, when we went back for Addie, and lost Cole, Eli?” I snapped. I shoved him back, threw open the van door, and jumped out to start the hunt.