When we were almost at Shirahama, Ayako asked Alex to pull over. She hopped out, ran to the side of the road and started to pick flowers from a tree on the side of the road. Neither Taro nor Risa seemed surprised and didn’t say anything. I asked her about it  when she came back.

“I thought it would be nice to bring them to Shigeyuki’s (Taro’s brother) house,” she told me matter-of-factly. “Have a smell.” She handed me one of the flowers, and it was nice. I mean, it smelled like a flower to me. I wouldn’t go out of my way to do something like that, but maybe that’s just me. She also handed one to Risa who smiled and held it between her two small hands in front of her.

Before Alex started the car again, a white van came around the corner behind us, slowed down briefly as it passed and then sped up down the mountain. I couldn’t make out how many people had been in the car, but there were at least a few faces, possibly in their 20s or early 30s peering at us. We looked at each other, jaws agape. Alex quickly started the car and took off after them. Although we have seen parked or crashed cars around, we haven’t see other people for quite a while now.

“What are you doing? They obviously don’t want to talk with us,” I said as the vehicle lurched around a corner.

“We need information,” was Alex’s reply.

“You’re going to scare them though. They saw us and didn’t stop. Chasing them down is not going to help,” Taro said in Japanese.

“Yeah, Alex. I agree. Even if we catch up to them, we can’t force them to stop. They’ll probably end up crashing.”

Alex let out an exasperated sigh, but slowed the car. He was frustrated, but there was nothing he could say to justify a high speed pursuit. He wasn’t the only one though. We were all disappointed, and I can understand his feeling completely. That could have been such a good chance to talk with someone different and maybe learn something more about this horrible new world. With so few opportunities to meet people, it’s sad that people won’t even stop for a chat. Having said that though, I guess we don’t know what everyone has been though, and we’ve also seen the zombie movies where in the end it’s always fellow man that poses the biggest threat. I don’t think that’s really the case in real life. We just wanted to talk. We missed the chance today, so I am looking forward to meeting up with Taro’s family and anyone else we can meet.

We continued to drive in silence, as everyone thought about what we might have missed out on. At the very least we could have talked, but we could have helped each other, too. The numbers next to the road signs for Shirahama have been growing steadily smaller, and just now, we passed the last one saying, “Welcome to Shirahama” with a picture of a beach on it.


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