Also by Leslie Claire Walker


Sally slicked back her icy, rain-soaked hair, cussing her memory. She’d forgotten her damned umbrella again. It had been March forever. In March it rained every other day, like God was washing away the town.

The plastic wrap between her shoulder blades felt caked on. She ached there, where Doc had laid down some fresh ink this morning. She’d been peering in her grandma’s windows for the last ten minutes and her holey red sweatshirt was soaked. Her sneakers squished.

She knocked on Grandma’s side door again, then brushed past the sharp red yucca to peer in the den window past Grandma’s empty recliner and that weird bronze Viking lamp. She could smell the ghost of meatloaf (with lots of ketchup and onions on top) baking through the cracks of the crappy window insulation.

A damn good memory—how many people remembered smells that sharp anymore?

She couldn’t think of the last time anyone cooked anything in this town. Or ate anything. There hadn’t been any food trucked in for God knew how long.

They didn’t seem to need eating or drinking. And nobody knew why.

Hunter wasn’t a live Texas town—it wasn’t exactly dead either. Disconnected—that was the word. Faded away from the outside world. All they had was buildings, a couple parks, and each other, population five thousand originals.

Sally caught scent of something else that made her stomach roil. She went around front of the house and rang the doorbell. No answer.

She let herself in, hoping Grandma’d be in the bathroom and they could both be embarrassed that she hadn’t heard all the commotion, what with the rain pounding on the roof and the siding.

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