I closed the door carefully behind me. Under usual circumstances, I would have cried at news as tragic as that, but the apocalypse had stripped me of sorrow almost completely. "I feel like Juno after she finds out that the adoptive parents are splitting up." Now was not the time to be making references to films. I could feel a reference to cyborgs coming on, so I occupied my mind with what I would do next.
Outside, the sun was nowhere to be seen. Darkness tinted red was the colour of the sky. During the daytime, there was no rest from the redness, instead only lightening the shade of heart attack maroon to a more cholesterol crimson. Lovely.
Now I was calmer, I could think through what I was going to do. Archie obviously wanted to be alone, but he was in no fit state at all. I knew the story he had told me was, no doubt, true, but breaking down like that meant he would have to have someone else to keep him sane. If anyone was going to survive the whole way through this, it was going to be me. Nobody knew how long this would last, whether it would never end, or even what caused it. As soon as people got the gist that there were zombies, they left. Most left stuff behind. Of course, I say most: most of the ones that survived the first wave.
I checked on Busker - he was fine and sound asleep. Quickly, I decided what to do. It was most likely the wrong decision, but it was what I was going to do.
Opening the door between the two rooms, I saw Archie standing as a silhouette in the window. He didn't stand like someone who could cope through this alone. He stood looking isolated, scared and needing someone else. As I was the only other person about, I saw it as my duty to be that other, stable person he needed. Face it, who else would have done anyway?
"Archie." I whispered. Suddenly, he stood upright. I had no doubt he was trying to give the impression that he wouldn't need me, but I had seen and heard enough. He needed someone.
"What are you doing back here? It isn't morning yet and there's nothing in here for you." he said cagily. There was no way I was letting him throw me off that quickly.
"Look. I know I should probably not be here. I know I should probably have stayed in my room until morning and then left. The thing is, I haven't. I know you need someone else,no matter how much you try to show you don't. Inside you're breaking down. Everyone does from time to time. The important thing is not to push everyone who tries to help away. I'm the only person who's trying to help, so don't push me away." He raised an eyebrow.
"What would you do if I just attacked you? Would that make you leave me alone? We both know you can't defend yourself against an opponent that's aware."
"Actually," I interjected, "I can. I've played rugby league since I was old enough to walk. I could do some damage, I just don't wish to. You're the first person I've seen in a while; since the start of the apocalypse. Do you really think after a few days of something vaguely normal, that I'd even consider going without it again?" I tried not to let the pain show through in my eyes, but I'm not sure how effective it was.
"So I'm stuck with you?" Archie said, sounding defeated.
"Yes." I replied. Then I did something I thought I would only do if things got worse rather than better. I stepped forward and gave him a hug. Lord knows he needed one.