(Liz Polanski continued from God's Unwanted Children)
Wake up. Breathe hard. Tell yourself it was only a dream. Feel the cement floor below you. Remember you're living in a different nightmare now...remember Garrett Hunter's raised fist, the fire under your hideaway tree, hands around your neck, kicking Chris Davidson's head from his body. Look at your own burnt hands, your own aching feet, your own falling-apart body in clothes not your own.
Liz woke, breathing concrete dirt from the ground, looking around silently. Trying not to make too many noises. There could be anyone here. People with guns. Funny how much fear Liz had learned in the last two days.
People made her nauseous. She needed water.
Unzipped her bag. Cyrille's canteens, water, food. Untouched. She unscrewed the cap to the canteen, put it to her mouth. Drunk. Drunk more. Water. When she stopped herself, she'd drunk most of the water.
Food. Food she would have to ration more carefully. Water she could take from pipes and streams, and its potability was of secondary importance when her lifespan was rapidly shortening anyway, but new food she could only get from looting. And the risks of looting were unpredictable.
She tore a piece off the baguette, ate it slowly. A slightly smaller piece next. Xeno's baguette. Food would help settle her burbling stomach.
Sit up. Nudge your bones until the aches and pains get to a level that doesn't make you gasp. Stop feeling like an old person. Stop craving the cheap, salty food you've eaten all your life, hot pockets and seven-eleven nachos with chili that comes from a machine. You have your carbs. Sneaking into the house to try and find seasoning is beyond stupid.
Liz took inventory. This garage was stacked with stuff. Gardening manuals, packets of foxglove, poppy, rose and evening glory seeds, water soluble fertilizer, ground-based fertilizer, tree stump remover, a garden sprayer, trowels and rakes hanging neatly from a tool rack (other tools conspicuously removed), tomato vine poles and tomato seeds. A black barbeque grill, half a bag of charcoal and a bottle of accelerant. Workman's gloves, an enormous pair and a much smaller one. Liz picked up the smaller ones and put them away for later. They probably even fit.
Three bicycles. Red, green, blue. Two large, one small. Chipped and used, with scrapes of rust under the paint.
Liz upended the trash can. It seemed like the sort of place careless terrorists might not look for a weapon. She had been hoping, maybe praying, so long for terrorist carelessness. Their game couldn't be airtight. Too many variables. But there was no proof of this, just her infinite faith in the stupidity of people. And her own faith that if she brute-forced a problem enough try try try again, something would come out of it.
Your faith is stupid
But there was nothing to it. She could not win like this. Even if she found a gun, she was burnt, aching, her feet were in no place for running, her body was falling apart, and at least two people on the island thought she was a sick killer. Maybe more, if Milo had followed her instructions.
Any way of breaking the rules, no matter how dangerous or fatal, was better than certain death.
The trash can spilled over, and forty or so Coca-Cola cans rolled around Liz's feet.
The cans were feather-light. Empty. Faintly sticky inside. Liz picked one up. Apparently, whoever these people were, they'd had a party before the terrorists routed them.
She started going through them, looking for any with a bit of liquid in them. She wasn't above going through trash cans, and a bit of caffeine and sugar would do wonders now.
Barring that, a cigarette.
She forced herself to sit up in the middle of the trash. Pulled the Camels out of her pocket, lit one, holding the match and cigarette between the alien fingers of the workmen's gloves. The smoke did her good. Nicotine relaxation.
She chain-smoked another. And another. Was there any need to conserve them now?
Assume there is.
She stubbed the last one out. Didn't light another.
There was no way to itch the back of her neck with the collars on. The metal was thin--perhaps if she tapped with her cracked nails, listened, there would be a way to tell what was packed with explosives and where the airier radio parts lay. Thin enough to cut with a wire cutter, where the radio ports broke the skin of the metal. On the surface.
They must have wires to stop people from snipping the collars like that. A sufficiently clever person could maybe forge this aluminum into cutters (aluminum melts at 660.32 degrees Centigrade). There must be a wire.
Hammy had melted aluminum sometimes. He had worked in a meth lab, before Liz knew him. He knew a grab-bag of chemistry. Liz had memorized most of it.
Don't think about Hammy now.
Maybe if she knew more about cell phone towers, she could McGyver it. She didn't know much about electronics. It had always been math, chemistry, physics. Simple. Easy. Pure.
Stupid Liz. Some smart kid you are. See where your preferences get you.
A soda can by her feet wobbled blindly. It was nearly a quarter full of liquid. She grabbed it hastily, downed the warm, flat sugar water. Some went into her lungs.
Coughing. Hacking coughing coughing ripping her to the floor and her hands rippled up to the radio ports and a burbling laughter within the cough and more coughing hacking but laughing now, the laughing of a crazy coughing hacking girl with a lightbulb over her head and relief in her lungs and I'll try it and if they think of it I'll just die and coughing hacking coughing and if that soda doesn't poison me first but mostly laughter because Liz had a plan Liz had an idea and it was so simple it might work.
So help me Occam's razor.
And Liz coughed and Liz laughed and Liz tried to spit the rest of the soda out and then Liz gathered the aluminum cans with both hands.
(Liz Polanski continued in Faraday's Cages)