Word Count: 799
Dreams, as I had expected, came to me that night vividly. They were more like clips of my life, each no longer than thirty seconds or so but showing some of the most cherished memories I had of my parents. Various birthdays and holidays across the years. Christmases spent together unwrapping presents, stuffing ourselves with turkey and pudding and watching a film at the end of the night. I remembered the day that my parents had told me about the trip to America and how excited I had been. That clip flashed across my mind more so than the others, it stuck out more. I supposed this was because of one obvious reason: if we hadn't come to America my parents would still be alive. We'd still be sharing birthdays, Christmases and holidays together.
The last dream I had though shook me up. We were sat on the sofa, watching a film, my parents either side of me. It was a comedy film that I found funny but they weren't laughing. When I turned to ask them why, they stared at me with milky, accusing eyes. They opened their dark, rotted mouths to speak in unison. 'Joe. Why did you let us die? You could have saved us Joe.'
'I never meant for it to happen,' I tried hugging them both and they responded, wrapping their arms around me. Their grip was too tight though, they squeezed me and pain exploded across my body as their sunk their teeth into my flesh.
I woke with a start, sweat pouring down my face. I burst into a fresh set of tears, crying so loudly I startled the stranger who had been sitting in the corner of the room with a blanket wrapped around himself. Light had begun to pool on the carpet from the cracks in the window. The sun was just rising.
Powerful, racking sobs overtook me and I had no control over any of it.
'Hey kid,' The guy's voice was groggy. 'Calm down, it's okay.'
They had to be the worst comforting words I'd ever heard but for some reason my body listened. The sobs died down and my body shook with another bout of violent hiccups. I was cold and my bones ached from sleeping in such an awkward position.
'They're gone,' I rasped, clutching my stomach. 'Oh God they're really gone!'
The guy didn't know what to say, he watched me break down.
The pain was crippling, it tore a hole right where my heart was and every bone in my body seemed riddled with grief and guilt. I wanted to go back to the numb feeling. Anything was better than this. The realization that I would never, ever see my parents again hit me. I would never hear them speak, I would never hear them laugh. Would it come to the point where I would forget the sound of their voices?
The stranger handed me a tissue and I took it.
'It's gonna be alright kid.'
'How can you say that? You don't know!'
'Yes, I do.'
I swallowed hard, trying to force it all back down. 'Mikey what's going on with the world?'
The guy looked confused when I said Mikey. It took him several seconds to remember why I had called him that.
'Oh, my name isn't actually Mikey. It's Cancer.'
'I used a fake name in the casino.'
I stood up. 'You're a son of a bitch, you know that?'
'Hey, no need for that.' Cancer got to his feet.
'There's every need for it. You tricked my parents you bastard! You lied to them!' Rage overtook me and this time I welcomed it. I didn't care what happened to me, right now I just needed someone to unleash this ball of fury onto.
'Kid, I know you're grieving but back down. Things'll get nasty otherwise.'
I responded by shoving the guy hard in the chest. He was caught off guard and stumbled backwards. There was something wrong with him, his skin was sweating slightly and his eyes darted a little manically. Was he paranoid they were going to be overrun by walkers again? I didn't really care. Cancer didn't say anything, instead turning his manic gaze onto me. He seemed to actually growl and his hands twitched slightly, like he was itching to throw a punch.
'Step. Down.' He spoke through gritted teeth. By this point I was too riled up though and I aimed a punch straight at him. I was slow and sloppy though and he easily managed to block the attack, simultaneously pushing me backwards with enough force that I fell back into the sofa. I had no idea how to fight, but the anger controlled me and so I let my body do the talking.