Sam,” Astrid yelled. “Quick.”Sam thought he was too far gone to respond, but he somehow started his feet moving again and went up to where Little Pete was standing and Astrid kneeling.There was a girl lying in the dirt. Her clothing was a mess, her black hair ratty. She was Asian, pretty without being beautiful, and little more than skin and bones. But the first thing they noticed was that her forearms ended in a solid concrete block.Astrid made a quick sign of the cross and pressed two fingers against the girl’s neck. “Lana,” Astrid cried.Lana sized up the situation quickly. “I don’t see any injuries. I think maybe she’s starving or else sick in some other way.”“What’s she doing out here?” Edilio wondered. “Oh, man, what did someone do to her hands?”“I can’t heal hunger,” Lana said. “I tried it on myself when I was with the pack. Didn’t work.”Edilio untwisted the cap from his water bottle, knelt, and carefully drizzled water across the girl’s cheek so that a few drops curled into her mouth.“Look, she’s swallowing.”Edilio broke a tiny bite from one of the PowerBars and placed it gently into the girl’s mouth. After a second the girl’s mouth began to move, to chew.“There’s a road over there,” Sam said. “I think so, anyway. A dirt road, I think.”“Someone drove by and dumped her here,” Astrid agreed.Sam pointed at the dirt. “You can see how she dragged that block.”“Some sick stuff going on,” Edilio muttered angrily. “Who would do something like this?

~ Michael Grant