Joe: NumbMature

Word Count: 1,063

For a long time, we walked. Just walked and survived, trying to find a safe place to stay. Every now and then we had to stop as I emptied the contents of my stomach. My body soon became numb though and my mind refused to process what had just happened. There were no more tears left in my system and there was nothing left to throw up. My body had become an empty vessel, and for that I was thankful. I could not deal with the grief straight away, not just yet.

I followed the stranger through the dark streets; he seemed to know where he was going. There was something strangely familiar about him, something I couldn't quite put my finger on but I did not care enough to work it out. My limbs moved mechanically, I put one foot in front of the other and pushed myself off the concrete with each step, forcing myself to keep up with this stranger's quick pace. When I rested, maybe then I'd allow myself to feel. This numbness seemed to suit me just fine for now.

I can honestly say in those few minutes as we darted from street to street I had absolutely no care in the world if we got caught. I welcome Death with open arms, I dared it to come after me, to take me to the place where my beautiful, loving parents were waiting for me. They were expecting me and I didn't want to be late.

'There's a place on the edge of town,' the stranger told me. I just carried on following him.
If we got too close to one of those...things, he's pop off another shot at them but would instantly pick up speed, choosing a small detour. I guess he didn't really want a repeat of the hotel, where they were all drawn to the sound of the gun. It's too bad he didn't have a silencer, that would have come in handy.

'Hold up,' I muttered, clutching at the wall. He watched me as I doubled over and retched again. My stomach was completely empty though; the muscles contracted and nothing came up. Tears stung at my eyes and I wiped them away furiously.

'Let's go,' I told him. He carried on wordlessly.

We walked for what must have been an hour or so. By the time we arrived, he had killed a handful of creatures and my legs were threatening to give way. I was so tired and I just wanted to rest. I knew that if I did though, the memories would come flooding to the surface and I'd have to deal with them. I was not looking forward to that. The emotions were going to hit me like a fucking train and I was going to be left crippled.

'We're here.' The guy led me to a small, nondescript house with bleak brickwork and dark windows. He produced a key from his pocket and stuck it in the door. It opened on the first try. It didn't even register to me then that he must have been here before. For all I knew it could have been his house.

The inside was just as dark as the outside and it was cold. I shivered, wondering if I may have been slightly warmer if I had packed my jacket. All my stuff was back at the hotel; my phone, my money, my clothes. I had no interest in going back for it though.

The stranger locked the door behind us and began to barricade it, dragging the table from the kitchen and propping it against the door.

'We don't use any light, you understand?'

I nodded.

He pulled the blinds at the window and moved the large chest of drawers over against the glass, piling a couple of chairs on top.

'What if he we need to leave in a hurry?' I croaked. My voice was as dry as sandpaper.

'We keep one exit available. This one is sealed off to us. There's a fire exit from the upstairs bedroom anyway. It leads out onto the alleyway behind this house.' He walked through the kitchen and into the living room and began boarding up the windows there with bits of furniture. I watched him, wondering when I could rest.

When he was satisfied everywhere was secure and after he'd scouted every room in the house and rendered it safe enough, he sat down. I followed his action. He began pulling things out of the bag he'd been carrying. I saw a few bags at the bottom with unknown substances inside and a load of guns. He handed me a small bottle of water and I took it automatically. The water was cool and soothed my burning throat. When he offered me something to eat I shook my head. I'd just throw it up again.

A few moments of silence passed before he spoke. 'I'm sorry about your parents kid.'

'Don't,' I shook my head. 'Please.'

He complied and I tried to tilt my lips upwards in what I hoped looked like a grateful smile. For the first time that night I looked at him properly and tried to figure out why he looked so familiar.

'The casino.' It suddenly clicked into place. The guy who had taught us to play Poker.

He looked up, surprised.

'You were at the casino.'

'Oh. Yeah.'

'Tell me something.'


'Did you cheat?' I had to know, it suddenly seemed so much more important to me now.


'Yes. Did you cheat?'

He shrugged. 'Gotta make a living somehow.'

I stared at him. He had cheated my parents out of thousands of dollars. They'd never, ever know.

I tried to be angry, I really did, but the exhaustion was too much. I'd yell at him when I woke up. I'd yell at him till my voice ran raw and till he regretted what he had done. For now though, I just wanted to shut my eyes.

Of course, as soon as they were closed, images flashed in front of me. My dad collapsing to the floor. The scared look on my mum's face when she realized he was dead. Her crying out.

Oh God.

I watched the events of that night unfold before me in my mind as I was carried off into a fitful sleep.

The End

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