Ogunquit, Maine

There were people up ahead.

Ray Garraty could hear them. Once his mother and Jan had died he'd had to get out of there. He'd traveled south, and now he was in Ogunquit and he heard voices. Hopefully this was less of a precursor to his impending insanity and more of a 'there are actually people here.' He sped up his motorcycle – he'd taken a day to learn to drive it once Jan died and had been riding it south – in hopes of catching up to them.

There were two of them, a boy and a girl. The boy looked to be about his age but heavier and with glasses and heavy acne. The girl looked like she was probably in college – nineteen or twenty, maybe? Twenty-one at the oldest. "Hey!" Ray yelled. The girl turned to face him and a smile lit up her face. She was pretty. Not quite as pretty as Jan, but pretty all the same. Ray parked and ran to meet them. "Thank God. I haven't seen someone for… well, a long time. I'm Ray Garraty."

He stuck out his hand, feeling mildly like an asshole. The girl took it but the boy just looked at him like he was a particularly mangy dog.

"I'm Fran Goldsmith," the girl said, smiling. "And this is Harold."

"Hi," Ray said. Suddenly he felt terribly awkward. "What are you guys planning on doing? I mean, with everyone dead and all."

"We were planning on heading up to the plague center in Vermont," Harold said, speaking at last. He had a voice that made Ray want to hit him. "If anyone knows what's going on, it's them."

"Mind if I tag along?" Ray asked. Harold's upper lip curled. "I mean, if you don't want me to, that's fine, I'll just keep going by myse-"

"No, you can come with us," Fran said. She smiled at him, and he smiled back. "It'll be nice to have another person around, won't it, Harold?"

Harold looked like he didn't think that it would be nice. He sucked in a breath and Ray was ready to leave. However, he let it out harmlessly and sighed. "I suppose," he said snappishly. "But he better not be a-"

"I'm sure he's a wonderful guy," Fran said, smiling at Ray and invoking butterflies. She was a lot like Jan. It was bad, to be getting a kid-crush on this Fran when Jan was barely cold in the grave. If she'd been buried at all – Ray didn't know. "Where are you from?"

"Up by Freeport," Ray said. Fran nodded, and Harold went on looking annoyed. "Have you seen anyone else since…"

Fran was shaking her head before he could finish the sentence, so he didn't even both. "Just us two," she said. She looked with some interest at his motorcycle. "Motorcycles. That's an interesting idea."

"It's easier to maneuver through the cars," Ray said, shrugging. "Can you drive one?"

Fran nodded, and Harold adjusted his glasses with an anger that Ray didn't know could be present while one was adjusting one's glasses.

"You can, too, right?" Ray asked, directing this question toward Harold, who turned red with what Ray supposed was anger.

"Of course," he said. Ray nodded, a bit skeptical. "Now, can we get going?"

"I'm not the one sulking," Ray said. He shrugged and put on a mock smile. "But if you insist."

Fran looked mildly amused, and Ray was glad he'd been able to make her smile. Even her name rhymed with Jan's. Fran and Jan. Pretty, intelligent Maine girls. Of course, Fran was stuck with Harold and, from what Ray'd seen – and he wasn't very observant, either – Harold also had a kid-crush on Fran. And he, presumably, had known her longer.

But Ray still thought he had more of a chance than Harold. Not much of a chance, considering her age, but if everyone else was dead…

Alright, Ray, you've got bigger things to worry about.

"So, should we get going?" Ray asked. "You know where you're going, right?"

Harold looked offended. This seemed to be a common expression on his face. "Of course," he said. "See, we go up-"

"You can just show us, alright, Harold?" Fran asked. She smiled at Harold, but it seemed sort of strained. Harold obviously didn't notice, or maybe he chose not to notice. Ray grinned and got off of the motorcycle.

"Any chance we could grab something to eat before we set off?" he asked. "Sorry to inconvenience you, but I haven't eaten since last night. Been riding all morning and forgot to grab something before I headed off."

"That's fine," Fran said. "We can get into the grocery on Main Street. C'mon, I'll show you."

"Sounds good," Ray said. He followed her down a couple of streets, turned a couple of times, and eventually they stood in front of a grocery store. It looked like it had already been looted, but there was still food. He opened the door for Fran, bringing out his gentlemanly tendencies. She laughed a little at this, but went with it and soon the two of them were picking through the shelves, finding cookies and boxes of crackers and sodas. Ray hadn't seen him following them, but Harold stood at the door of the store, looking angry and irritated.

Ray didn't pay attention to him. He was too busy having fun picking out what he wanted to eat. He eventually ended up with a Payday, A&W Root Beer, and a bag of potato chips. Maybe not the healthiest of meals, but, hey, it would work.

He met Fran at the front of the store. She was talking to Harold in a quiet, fast whisper. Ray was tempted to listen in, but decided against it. Fran had an armful of food – she was trying to give some to Harold, it appeared, though he was refusing adamantly. Ray wondered why. Maybe it was because he was so much thicker than Ray, to put it nicely.

"Ready to find someplace to eat?" Ray asked. Fran, who apparently was done arguing with Harold, shoved a bottle of water and a bag of chips into Harold's hands. She was also carrying a loaf of bread and some peanut butter, as well as some plastic knives. "Good thinking there."

She smiled at him and they headed off to a park. Once they got there, Fran got to work making peanut butter sandwiches. "Could I have some of your chips?" she asked, and Ray surrendered them as he sucked down his root beer. She was making peanut-butter-and-potato-chip sandwiches, it seemed like. It sounded good to Ray. He'd never had a peanut-butter-and-potato-chip sandwich before, but he knew from experience that basically anything would work in a peanut butter sandwich. "We should have grabbed some summer sausage. There's nothing as good as peanut-butter-and-summer-sausage sandwiches."

Ray had had those before. He agreed with her and took one of the sandwiches to try it out. Hm. It was decent.

Yeah, he thought he was going to like traveling with these guys. Even though Harold was less than desirable company.


ray garraty stop it you weren't supposed to have a crush on fran