Forever Between (Between Life and Death Book 2)
fat rabbit survive out here?” I ask.
    What I’m really thinking is whether or not we should stop and try to get another fat rabbit. I could really go for some fresh meat. I was turned off from it for a long time, but the body wants what it wants, and the sight of fresh protein on the move sends food cravings right to the top of my thoughts.
    It must do the same for Charlie, because he asks, “You think there’s more?” Then he shakes his head and says, “No, never mind. You’re right. How did a rabbit survive out here?”
    We roll to a stop and balance there a moment, both of us considering this wonder that is a rabbit. Suburban rabbits are a fact of life, like squirrels and trash-tipping raccoons. But they are not a fact of post-nanite life. They are a rarity on par with white tigers or black rhinos. Well, maybe not that rare—particularly not squirrels since they run up trees so fast—but rabbits are definitely not something one sees very often at all.
    “That’s suspicious,” Charlie says, eyeing the hangar, the landing gear, and their piles of deaders.
    “Uh, how? The deaders over there aren’t going to be able to chase down animals anymore. Maybe there aren’t any in-betweeners left on that side of the fence.”
    “Really? Does that even make sense to you? Think about it. If there are rabbits enough that they cross outside the fence for nibbles, then some of those deaders shouldn’t have changed into deaders at all. There should be in-betweeners out in that field if there are rabbits there,” he says, pointing to the tall grass that has no hint of human—or post-human—life in it.
    He’s right about that, but it could happen. Given time and the inability of in-betweeners to take care of themselves properly, descent into deader-hood is sort of a given at some point. And that grass is tall and would have been since that very first summer. Rabbits could have hidden in it successfully. And we don’t have a saying about “breeding like rabbits” for no reason. Re-population would have been fast.
    As we stand there, a dark-winged shape separates from the trees beyond the airstrip and flies over the other side of the field in a long, lazy arc. It’s a big shape and I know that flight. A bird of prey. A hawk.
    Charlie looks at me, and his look says that he told me so. “Well, something has been eating rabbits.”
    I nod. That’s something whoever set this scene missed. The deaders, so uniformly immobile and set at a location that makes sense, the disused look of the airstrip, the tall grass, all confirm what anyone familiar with the world now would expect of a place abandoned, but still dangerously occupied with deaders. But they couldn’t control the rabbits or the hawks. And that tells a very different story. My spirits lift and sink in equal measure.
    I have two voices in my head, and both are saying the same thing, Someone might be there! The only difference is that one voice sounds excited and happy, while the other has the low tones of doom.
    *****
    The military shopping complex is the very picture of an orderly shut-down. I have zero doubt that there is not a single scavengable thing left inside there. Concrete barriers form a snaking trail toward every approach amenable to a vehicle breech. There’s no easily pried off wood over the windows or doors here. Steel shutters that appear to be a part of the building have been lowered everywhere and on the lower floor, more metal—this time painted white—has been affixed to that.
    Places where there is no paint over the metal have their collection of deaders attached to the steel like leeches, but it all seems too precise. Just enough to seem dangerous to a passerby or someone in search of lootable material, but not so many that the building is covered.
    “Wait a second,” Charlie says, eyes on some deaders at the nearest corner of the building and his brows drawn together. “Just wait a dag-gone second.”
    He’s not talking to me, but

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