Arner took up the questioning again. “Tell me more about the mutant aliens, son. Whatever you can think of.”
“Is that what they are?”
Carli said, “We think so.”
The boy snorted. “Like the Old Ones weren’t bad enough just being what they were.” He sounded way too adult to Carli’s ears. Her anger grew.
Jon took a deep breath. “They don’t drink blood like the regular aliens. They eat people instead, I guess ‘cause they have all those teeth instead of the siphons. And they don’t hate the sunlight. It doesn’t bother them a bit. That’s why I move around only at night.”
Arner gave him an approving pat on the shoulder. “That’s smart.”
Jon suddenly asked, “You got some food? All I’ve had is bugs. Those monsters keep the food stores guarded.”
Carli told him, “Probably because they know the survivors are going to be hungry. They’re hoping they’ll eventually get desperate enough to try for it.” She unslung her backpack and pulled out two ration meals.
The child gobbled them so fast she wasn’t sure he’d bothered to chew. He was starved, all right. The fact he continued to stay in Gander’s Gulch, hoping to find his parents, was all the more commendable and depressing.
After he swallowed the last, he asked, “Are you going to bring more help?”
Carli and Leo turned to Arner, letting his expertise run the show. He considered a few minutes before answering. “I think your plan to evacuate people, not just your parents, will be our best bet. Get everyone to Freetown.”
“Won’t the monsters follow us there? When they don’t have no one left here to eat, I mean.”
One side of Arner’s mouth lifted in a half smile. “You’re a smart kid, Jon. We’ve got some defenses at Freetown you don’t have here. Plus we got fair warning what was happening. They won’t be able to ambush us like they did you.” His grin grew to wolfish proportions. “And there will be a lot less of them to attack us by the time I’m through.”