He swallowed; surprised as always that his throat wasn’t raw from screaming their names. Wendy, George, Tom, and little baby Pam. But no, his echoing cries had only happened in the nightmare in which he’d run from abandoned room to abandoned room, where they had all once lived and nobody lived anymore.
His tears had long dried up, his eyes as arid as the desert he now called home. But the ache never left never ceased to remind him that he’d gotten home too late to save them. All the strings pulled, the bribes made, finally going AWOL to make the headlong dash from Africa to get back to Texas, all to no avail. He’d arrived too late.
His wife had been a smart, resourceful woman. Arner liked to imagine she’d gotten the kids out, had taken them somewhere safe and even now they were all together, all alive, getting through this. After all, there’d been no blood, no signs of struggle in the house. There was always hope.
Someone had once been stupid enough to calculate the odds of any one person surviving the first two years of the invasion. Then he’d been even dumber and told those odds to Arner. The number had been so astronomical as to be impossible. And the odds of a group consisting of one adult and three children, one still in her diapers?
Arner had been too busy beating the shit out of the mathematician to find that out.