Riece was rifling through the bear bag. “Our canteen is here, filled with water. The first aid kit,” he said and pulled it out and dropped it on the ground beside his leg. “Our phones are gone.”
Mason opened the first aid kit and took Riece’s arm. “It was a long shot that they’d leave our stuff alone.” He took alcohol wipes from the kit and tore them open. “They obviously found our camp and probably reasoned we’d go back there for supplies and communications.” Mason wiped the gash on Riece’s arm clean.
Riece sucked in a harsh breath and hissed, then bit down on his lip. Mason ran one hand through his hair and said softly, “Sorry.” He smoothed a Telfa pad over the wound and used some gauze wrapped around Riece’s arm to make sure it stayed there. “That’ll do for now and keep you from attracting a curious bear.” When Riece chuckled Mason looked at him and frowned. “That wasn’t a joke.”
“It still was kind of funny,” Riece said.
“Okay. Yeah, it was.” Mason gathered the wipes and packaging and stuffed it all back into the bear bag. Mason gave in to the urge to pull Riece into a tight hug for a moment. He reluctantly let go a few seconds later and took some deep breaths. “They want us out in the open. There are more caves on the other side of the hills and also a road another few miles beyond that. Tyler shortcuts down it a lot when he’s running late on his deliveries.”
Mason nodded. “I think so. If Tyler uses that road, it’s reasonable to think other people do as well.” He pulled two sealed bottles of water from the bear bag. “Looks like they left us a gift.” Mason handed one off to Riece. He cracked open the other and took a drink from it. The canteen was full, but that water he dumped out. When Riece raised his eyebrows, Mason explained, “Let’s not trust that they didn’t put something in here our purifiers won’t take care of.”
“Maybe. These are still sealed, and I’m guessing that was to encourage us to think the canteen wasn’t tampered with,” Mason said. He scooted closer to the entrance and peered out.
Riece moved behind him and gripped his arm, whispering, “See anyone?”
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