Howard walked into Brazil alone on dirt roads. He hadn't seen an invader or one of their drones since a few days after leaving the urban coast of Venezuela; he'd been in a truck, then, along with eight other people.
There was a town, with an airport, just south of the border: Pacaraima. He wouldn't risk a plane, not again, but maybe someone who had done so had left their car parked and the keys in it, knowing they'd never be back for it. It's what he would have done.
She would be in Rio, or São Paolo, depending on how far into the itinerary she'd gotten. Either way he still had a long way to go, and on foot it was a truly daunting prospect. Two thousand miles…
He'd come this far.
It was getting dark, and he'd walked all day from Santa Elena de Uairén; he settled under a tree to rest, just for a little while, just to give his feet time to stop burning and throbbing. From his pack he pulled out the magazine with her in it, opened it, unfolded her, looked at it. Just to remind himself what he was doing. He rested the magazine on his chest, closed his eyes for a moment.
He woke up at dawn, with a man standing over him, brown, broad-faced. "American?"
"American? You American?"
"You fight them off?" He made thumb-and-finger guns, pointed them at the sky. "Pew! Pew! You fight them off?"
Howard remembered Miami from the air. "Probably not."
A new voice, with a British accent. "All right, Mauro, enough, help him up." He was sitting behind the wheel of a jeep, and he looked like something out of Hemmingway: broad-brimmed hat, thick beard, vacation clothes, revolver stuck into waistband.
"I'm Howard Pruce. I'm going to Rio and São Paolo to look for my girlfriend."
Hemmingway shook his head. "I came from Rio, she's not there. No one's there. The sea's taken it, to fill in the crater. I haven't seen São Paolo, but it's probably the same."
"She may have gone inland with refugees?" It was a a statement, intoned as a question.
"Of course. Brazil's a big place. You'll be looking for years, assuming the Squids stay near the water and don't push inland. You have a picture?"
Howard held up the magazine.
"I mean of your girlfriend. To show people, ask if they've seen her?"
"She's in the magazine. She was Miss July, last year." He handed it over.
Hemmingway opened it, inspected her pictorial. Mauro grinned over his shoulder. "I can see why you're so intent on finding her. I wish you luck."
"Thanks. Where are you going?"
"Going? Nowhere. We're staying deep in the interior, my friend. Perhaps it'll be safe, for a while, anyhow." He handed the magazine back. "Come on, Mauro."
Howard watched them drive off. The jeep could have helped him, but Hemmingway had a gun, and he didn't.
It would be a long walk.