Alice did not look well. Kat kept glancing back at the girl in her carseat. Sergio drove today, so Kat could check in regularly with the little girl. She didn’t like what she was seeing. Alice kept coughing and she had a runny nose. She definitely had some kind of cold.
Kat did all she could to keep the girl warm and well-fed, though Alice seemed to have lost her appetite as well. It was a little more than two months since they had left the police station with Simon, who had come to rescue them at Sergio’s request. He even had the guts to impersonate an officer to help them get free. Apparently, Simon had once been a “secret agent” after his time in Vietnam, so playing the part came easily to him.
Once they had left the station, Simon advised them to find a new vehicle. His truck would now be easily recognizable, especially if Invergence found out about their brief incarceration, which they almost certainly would. So at the first opportunity, they found a used car dealership and bought a small compact unit for a low price, though not as low as they would have liked. With Invergence on their tale, any large expenses paid all at once would attract attention. But once they had their new vehicle they immediately drove out of the city.
Since then, they zigzagged across the American West, going first into Colorado, then New Mexico and Arizona. They passed briefly in California but stayed away from any large cities to avoid exposure. Then they turned back around and came into Nevada. And that was where they drove now, headed for Las Vegas. They had no intention of going anywhere near the Strip. Too many security cameras. But they needed to pass through into Utah, where Sergio hoped they could keep a lower profile and maybe stay a month or so in some fancier hotels.
Kat’s thoughts turned back to her baby as the five-month-old began coughing again. Her cough turned to a cry, an exhausted cry.
“Sergio, I think we should find somewhere to stay for tonight while Alice gets some rest.”
Sergio nodded and began searching the interstate for signs of a hotel. “You know,” he said jovially, “It would really put my mind at ease if we could…you know.”
Kat rolled her eyes. Not this again. “We don’t need to baptize her, Sergio.”
“I’m just saying, it would really help me, you know?”
“No, I don’t know,” Kat shot back, “I don’t want her associated with any one faith from this age. I want her to make her own decisions when she’s older.”
“It’s not about which religion she joins, it’s about ensuring her safety after death. With all that’s going on, I want to make sure she’s okay in case…” he didn’t say the words. In case Invergence kills her.
“I just don’t see how pouring water on someone will save their soul. You’d think a God would have a more efficient system that wouldn’t require so much pomp and circumstance. You’d think he could save people just by willing it.”
Sergio let the matter drop, again. Of all the disagreements they had, this was one of the most pervasive. Sergio had grown up Catholic, and their teachings were ingrained in him. All children who died before baptism were damned. Kat, on the other hand, was atheist, or at least agnostic. She felt that, if there was a God, that he was far beyond their understanding. Besides, why would he let so much evil happen in the world. Evil that they experienced first hand, the reason that they ran.
They soon found an out-of-the-way motel and Sergio checked them in. Kat brought Alice inside, and the baby was still crying with discomfort from her cold. Kat did her best to comfort the girl, feeding and changing her. She still wasn’t eating much.
Sergio watched over Alice while Kat took a moment to shower and relax. She let the warm water wash over her, attempting but failing to control her anxiety levels. When she finished, she resumed tending to Alice while Sergio also cleaned himself up. After that, they were both quite tired, so they did their best to sleep. Throughout the night, both of them rose periodically to comfort Alice, who wasn’t sleeping well.
But eventually, Kat was finally able to let her exhaustion take her.
The next morning, Kat awoke to silence. Blessed silence. She looked over at Alice, who was sleeping in a small crib next to them, to see how the little girl was doing. She sat up straighter. Was that a hint of blue on the girl’s lips?
“Sergio,” she rocked him awake, “Sergio!”
Sergio woke, looking disoriented, “Wha–what is it?”
“It’s Alice, look at her!”
Sergio looked and sat bolt upright in bed. Then they both quickly threw off the covers. Kat picked up the little girl and rocked her, giving her a bottle to drink. But the girl wasn’t drinking. She was alive, but she seemed extremely tired. Too tired to even cry.
As worry threatened to overpower her, she began dressing. “Sergio, we have to get her to a hospital.”