His brother (James), himself and four other people were travelling to Tejuas, hired as scouts to deliver tools, seeds and food. One of the travelling companions, Abraham, an older man, begins yelling at John for not controlling his steed well enough, and the next minute Abraham slips off his, Lizzy comes and helps him. He sustains a head injury but is fine. It makes the group wonder what has the horses so spooked.
The group carries on, and when all seems well, they are ambushed by slow mutants who send an avalanche down the mountain. The more experienced of the group were leading, so the avalanche hits them first. Only one member is killed (Ray), who is buried alive.
When the group reaches Eluria it is only James, John, Abraham and another man (the women are out of reach). The slow mutants come in the hundreds and attack them. James is killed first and knocked into the trough where Roland found him. Abraham, trying to kill the mutants with his bare hands dies next. John is then knocked out, sees the Little Sisters (in their vampiric forms) and wakes up in the infirmary.
John notices over the next few days in the infirmary that the Sisters heal everyone in his group using the bugs Roland saw earlier, but one by one the people would disappear. One night they came for John, but his pendant drives the Sisters away.
Roland passes out due to something in the soup, but before that happens John asks if Roland would bring his medallion to his family, should Roland see them. John knows both of them aren't making it out of the infirmary alive. In the middle of the night Sister Jenna comes and gives Roland some Nibble Heds and a note. When he wakes up he reads Jenna's Note and knows she wants to help him.