I want to go back and hug Gemme and tell her everything's gonna be fine. I keep walking. I want to hold her and kiss her and never let her down. I keep walking. I want to go find Alice's dad and make him take some responsibility for his own kid. I keep walking.
"We're gonna play a game now, beautiful," I mutter quietly, "we're gonna see who can go longest without saying anything. If you win, I'll get you some candy, ‘kay?" she nods silently and smiles and I manage to smile back at her. In truth, I just want an excuse to not have to talk anymore. Hungry, I take a detour and find a cheap diner. I go straight to the parent's toilet and sit Alice on the side while I wash most of the blood off me. After a couple of moments, the sink is a weird red-orange color and my skin slowly returns to its normal tan color.
I point at the toilet and look at Alice questioningly and she shakes her head, so I pick her back up and go back out into the diner, holding Alice with one arm and searching my pockets with the other. I usually keep a few dollars folded up in my pants pockets. I find a twenty dollar bill in one of the back pockets and half smile. I'd been planning to spend it on something less savory, but I s'pose spending it on food is as good as any way to spend it.
As we sit down I notice a couple of people giving me a nervous look and that's when I realize I've still got my knife attached to my arm. I take it off and lay it on the seat next to me, pushing a laminated menu towards Alice. While she's looking at it, the waitress comes over and I look up at her, tapping the coffee mug in front of me. She arches an eyebrow at us, sitting there in silence and I point at me and Alice then mime zipping up my lips and throwing away the key. I think she gets it.
"Okay..." she says slowly like we're nutters. Ah, whatever. "What can I get for you, then?" Alice holds up the menu and points to one of the things in the list and it makes me want to go hide. I'm being shown up by a five year old. I point at the picture of the cheese burger and tap the coffee mug again and the waitress nods, walking off.
Alice looks around at all the people around us, bored of the game, but not wanting to lose, and I just rest my head on my fist, staring at the other side of the booth. A few minutes later, the waitress comes back with my coffee and dumps my cheese burger in front of me and a plate of fries in front of Alice, wandering off again.
I eat my burger in record time and sit quietly, drinking my coffee a bit slower as Alice gets tomato sauce all over the place. I make one of her fries get up and hop off her plate across the table onto mine. She looks at me in mock surprise as I pick it up and eat it. I grin and she grins back, trying not to laugh.
"C'mon, eat up, before I eat them all," I say and she giggles.
"You lost the game!"
"Yeah, I did. Finish your fries and I'll find somewhere to get you some candy," I smile, stealing another fry. She speeds up eating and I end up taking her back into the bathroom. "You're a mucky pup," I grumble, wiping the tomato sauce from her face with some tissue. She just grins.
While Alice is washing her hands, I strap my knife around my leg, rolling my jeans down over it. I think a little way down the road there's some shops down there, so I tell her this and we go down there, Alice skipping ahead of me a bit, over to this little, rundown convenience store. I take her hand and we go inside and she drags me over to the candy, staring at the choices. Eventually, she chooses something chewy that looks like it shouldn't be edible and she starts eating it the moment we get out of the shop again.
At least it keeps her happy and quiet until the bus is in sight again.
No one is awake, but they're alive still. Well apart from the driver, that is. I tell Alice to sit downstairs while I figure out how to deal with a bed full of blood and a corpse. In the end, I carry him outside, hiding him just off the road. Not exactly dignified, but y'know. What else can I do?
I go back in, strip the bedding and hide it all under the bed, dragging another duvet over it to hide the stains on the mattress. I guess it'll do...
"C'mon, beautiful," I call, walking back down the stairs, "we should be asleep. Let's go to bed, huh?" she looks up at me as I hold out my hand for her to take and slides off her seat. We go back up the stairs and I tell her to get changed, turning away until she's done and then I tuck her into the bed furthest from the bloodstained one. "I'll be back in a minute, I just need to move the bus so that we're not in the middle of the road, okay?" she nods at me and I do exactly that - drive down the road a little further until we get to one of those places truckers stop. I pull in there, lock the door and go back up. Alice is already asleep, bless her, and I get changed into my joggers and a loose top, sitting on the bed with her. Tiredness tugs at me and I find myself laying down, putting an arm over her protectively, and falling asleep.