Christopher and Bud stayed at the house until nightfall. Then they walked all night with Bud sleeping on his shoulders with Bud’s head resting on top of his. As day three dawned, Christopher had reached another abandoned house.
Christopher laid himself and Bud on a bed to get some rest before nightfall. Christopher lying on the bed looked at Bud. One side of his brain was telling him to leave Bud. Packing around a six-year-old child isn’t good evasive tactics when trying to escape. But the other side of his brain couldn’t let Bud suffer his fate. After six hours, Bud’s stirring woke Christopher.
He rose from bed and scanned area signs of Troop transports or troops on the ground with binoculars found in the field pack. Christopher’s plan was to stay clear of populated areas. Troop concentrations would be higher there, and so were the chances of being captured.
From previous collections, he knew they only collected from large populated areas and limited the collection to only 30 solar days. A question then popped into his head, “Why were there troops at Bud’s house? It was far away from large population centers. And why did they not comb the area if they thought he was close.?”
Christopher searched the field pack, and it’s lining for any tracking device. There were none. He then opened the radio, none there. Bud entered the kitchen where he was sitting, “I need to pee. Where is the bathroom?” Bud asked.
Christopher jumped up and showed Bud the bathroom. Afterwards he brought Bud back to the kitchen. “Are you hungry?” Christopher asked.
Bud nodded. He discovered this house had a food replicator, so they both had bacon and eggs along with Bud’s favorite cereal and coffee for himself.
After they ate, Christopher looked at Bud with a big smile, “Bud, let’s play a game. It’s called find the bump. Do you want to play?”
Bud’s eyes widen, “Sure, I like playing games. How do you play find the bump?”
“Let me show you first them you can start the game.”
Bud was bouncing in his chair, “OK. Show me how to play find the bump.”
Christopher, as he talked to Bud, telling him what he was doing, checked Bud’s head and neck and arms for unusual bumps that could show an implanted tracking device. He found none.
Christopher then turned his back to Bud, “Now it’s your turn to find the bump or bumps. There may be more than one. You ready?”
Bud stood up on his chair and started his search for bumps on Christopher. Bud imitated Christopher’s moves, starting at the top of the head, and worked his way to the ears.
“I found one.” Bud said.
“Keep looking. There may be more. You get extra points if you find more.” Christopher said.
As Bud probed his neck, when he reached the back of the lower neck, “I found another one I win I win.”
While Bud was celebrating his win, Christopher knowing of the bump put both hands behind his neck, pressing hard against the bump. There it was. He felt the top and the bottom of a cylindrical implant. Scare tissue had hidden the main body of the device, but not the ends.
When he found the device, he grabbed Bud and swung him around and around, then he set Bud back in his chair. “You won your first game of find the bump, but we need to clean ourselves. Do you shower or bathe?” He asked.
Bud frowned, “I take showers. I’m not a baby.
Christopher looked at Bud’s stern face, “I apologize. You are correct. You are a big boy. Can you shower in the bathroom where we were sleeping?”
Bud looked at Christopher sheepishly, “Can you turn the shower on? I can’t reach the knobs.”
“For the winner of the game, sure. Let get cleaned up.”
After he got Bud into the shower, he started his shower, then with his knife in silent pain cut the tracker from the base of his neck. Christopher then with bandages and tape from the bathroom cabinet cleaned and bandaged the cut. Then he dressed in the bathroom to keep Bud from asking his inquisitive questions. After he finished getting dressed, he got Bud out of the shower. Bud dressed himself and joined Christopher in the kitchen.
“We are going to walk again tonight. I’ll clean our clothes, then I am going to take a nap. How about you? If I take a nap, can you?”
Bud looked at him puzzled, “You take naps? But your grown-up. I didn’t think grown-ups took naps.”
“All the time. I take naps two or three times a week. Will you try to sleep?”
“Can I eat before the nap? I’m getting hungry, it’s lunchtime in three hours”
“Deal. Check your backpack. What you took out goes back in your backpack. When you’re done, bring it in here. After lunch, clean the dishes and put them back in the cabinets. A big boy never leaves a mess. While you do your job, I’ll clean our clothes and check outside to see if there is anything we need. OK?”
Bud nodded his head, “But lunch now, please.”
“Lunch is three hours away. A snack now, lunch later. Deal?” Christopher asked.
Bud reluctantly nodded his head.