enough for now.” I grabbed the ammunition that lay in the same little box as the gun, and shoved it in my jacket pocket. The plan was simple. Hide in the closet until daylight. If something broke in and found us in the night, shoot it. It was as good a plan as any, I figured. And it was the only one I had.
* * *
Hank and I huddled in the closet at dusk. We sat way back, behind the clothes. The closet had apparently also served as a changing room. A mirror hung on one wall surrounded by press-on lights that you could press and have enough light to see how your outfit looked. I thought I could risk having one of the tiny lights on. In the moment it took me to press on the little circular light, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and almost shrank back, momentarily thinking the image was someone else in the closet with us. I didn’t recognize myself. I’d lost weight in the last three days. I doubted I even weighed a full hundred pounds anymore. Luka’s clothes hung off me, and my face looked hallowed and drawn. My blue eyes looked too large and round for my face, and my hair looked like a tangled mess. I dropped my gaze and moved back against the wall. If we lived through the night, I’d treat myself to a shower while there was still hot water. It had been three days since I’d had one, and the smell of my own sweat and fear was suffocating while we hid together, me sitting on the floor against the back wall of the closet, and Hank curled up beside me, with his head on my lap. I trembled as we waited, and tried to keep my breathing even. I kept the gun on the floor beside me, within easy reach. The night was silent as I strained my ears to hear any sounds that might be a threat. Every so often Hank lifted his head and his ears perked up, and my adrenalin would spike, my heart drumming against my ribcage. But then he’d lay his head back down again and I’d breathe a quiet sigh of relief. By the time we heard the birds chirping, signaling dawn, Hank and I were both shaken and exhausted. We crawled out of the closet on stiff and unsteady legs and I let him out. Daylight was bleeding into the sky, turning it from gray slowly to blue. He followed me to the other bedroom, not the one Larry ate his gun in, and we both settled onto the bed. After the night we’d had, I thought we deserved a nap on a real bed. “Just a few hours, Hank. Then we decide what to do next.” What to do next meant figuring out how to discover what was beneath the snow. Chances were that my sister was underground. There had to be a way to find out if she was still alive. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try. And all of those other girls and women --- what would I do if I found them alive? But my mind was as tired as my body was, and I could barely string two thoughts together. Just a little sleep, that’s all I needed. I closed my eyes and settled beneath the blankets with Larry’s gun tucked under the pillow.
When I woke up five hours later it was 11:15, and the sun was streaming through the thin strips through the blinds. I opened them enough to get more sunlight, but not enough for anything else to see inside. The morning was quiet, except for the occasional bird chirping. There was no movement. Feeling relatively safe, I refreshed Hank’s water and poured more dog pellets in to his bowl. I looked in the cupboards. There were five large cans of soft dog food. The date didn’t expire until the following fall. “You’re in luck, Hank. Look what I found. There must’ve been a dog around here at some point. Maybe one that visited from time to time?” Hank wagged his tail, then went back to chowing down. I found a can opener and added some of the soft food to his bowl. He ate the food with more enthusiasm than I’d seen him eat the dry pellets. “I’ll see if I can get you more soft food, bud. We have to enjoy our small comforts where we can now. Times have changed.