Word Count: 1,355
Another nightmare tore me back to reality and left me gasping and shaking on the sofa in which I had fallen asleep on. It was just like the previous dream, the one in which my parents had died and come back to life as the hideous creatures that had plagued humanity. I knew it was all I was going to be dreaming of from now on. Gone were the days of a peaceful slumber, where I dreamt of happier times.
'Holy shit,' I muttered.
Rayn, who appeared to be already awake by this point began looking around, obviously panicking that my cursing meant we had trouble. His eyes darted to any possible exits; the doors and the windows. Cancer had done a pretty good job of boarding up though.
'What's going on?' Rayn questioned.
I looked up and blinked at him, trying to calm myself down. 'Just a bad dream, that's all.'
'Oh, I get those. Wanna talk about it?'
'Not really. I just wanna forget it.' After some thought I added: 'Thanks, though.'
Rayn gave me a tiny smile. 'It's okay. I'm not like Cancer; I'm capable of talking about something other than surviving or whatever.'
I tried to replicate his smile but gave up halfway through. 'Where is he anyway?'
Rayn shrugged. 'Asleep somewhere. He never gets up in the morning.'
'What is the time?' I figured it must have been a little after one in the morning before we all got to sleep and my body felt heavy and sluggish, the way it did after a long, much needed sleep was cut dramatically short.
'No idea. My cell phone's died.'
A sudden thought occurred to me and I wandered over to my bag. 'I brought my charger.' I started rummaging through the contents, through clothes and other knick knacks I thought I might need, more out of desperation than anything else. I guess I just wanted a small part of my old life with me at all times. I found what I was looking for and connected it with my phone.
'I wonder how long we'll have electricity for?'
'I think we're relatively lucky in the sense that the apocalypse is in early days. We can't take it for granted though.' I thought briefly about calling for help, the emergency services or something, but I knew it'd be a wasted effort. No help would come. Even if it did, it'd be the wrong kind.
Rayn pulled his knees to his chest and stared at the floor. He looked incredibly small and vulnerable like this. 'How long do you think this will last?'
'Well in the movies, it doesn't go away. Humanity approaches extinction.' I shrugged feebly. 'Of course we're not in a movie so the answer to that question is I don't know.'
Rayn was quiet and his face was a mask of worry. 'I hope it's not like the movies, then.'
'You're not the only one.' The screen on my phone flashed and I frowned, my heart jumping. 'I have a text message.'
Speaking those words out loud seemed silly, like maybe I was hallucinating it. But sure enough, the words ONE NEW MESSAGE flashed continuously. My fingers fumbled with the buttons as I tried to open it. My phone was frozen though after being so close to running completely out of charge.
'Who from?' Rayn enquired.
When I saw the name on the screen I swear my stomach opened up and seemed to swallow itself. A heavy pang of pain shot through me and the grief threatened to tear me apart. The surprise was too much though.
Rayn shuffled over and tried to catch a glimpse of the text.
'It's my parents.' I swallowed, hard. 'A text that got resent.'
Rayn tilted his head in curiosity.
'It must not have gone through the first time. It's dated from their final moments in the hotel.' I exhaled slowly, trying to calm myself down.
'What's it say?' Rayn seemed to resign himself to the fact he wasn't going to be able to read the text himself.
'Joe, all is well downstairs. Stay in your room. Won't be long. Mum XX,' I paused. 'Well that's a lie.'
Rayn tried to hug me at that point; I think he just wanted to comfort me. I appreciated it but I was still angry at him. I patted him on the shoulder awkwardly, not one hundred percent sure on how to respond.
'Can I ask you a question?' I asked after Rayn had shuffled away once again. He nodded.
'I want you to answer me truthfully. Don't shrug it off or lie to me.' I took a deep breath. 'Why did you do it? At the casino?' I wondered if Rayn's answer would differ greatly to Cancer's. I hoped so. I just wanted, no needed to know. I needed to understand.
He sat cross legged in front of me and looked up. The guy had to be older than me; Cancer himself was twenty three, but in those moments he looked so much younger than me. I felt like the older one. 'Well we have to get our money somewhere. You've seen us, right? We're hardly nine to five material.' His lips tilted upwards in an attempt of a smile.
Surprisingly, I wasn't angry. I was curious more than anything. 'Doesn't it make you feel guilty?'
'Sometimes. I feel bad for what we did to you. It's different in Las Vegas though. People there have more money, they're assholes, or stupid. Or both.'
I did appreciate Rayn's honesty although I wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that he was trying to keep the peace between us.
'I dunno. I just feel like a fool, and the fact that my parents will never know about it...'
'I'm sorry, kid.' He looked remorseful.
'Forget about it, it's in the past.' I didn't really want to dwell on it anymore. 'We need to focus on the present and how the hell we're going to survive this thing.'
'Phil's only idea was to get to sea, but that one didn't work out so good. I said we should go to the CDC but he said that was stupid, and he's usually right.'
‘CDC, hmm. That might not actually be a bad idea.' Although it sounded like walking directly into the lion's den, it seemed like the only option at the minute. 'Cancer’s got this note, did he show you it?’
Rayn shook his head.
‘It basically says that he’s the closest thing they had to a cure. Maybe if we head to the CDC and show them? Or.. something. I don’t know. Maybe they’ll be able to work on a cure.’ I stood up and stretched out my muscles. ‘We should go wake him.'
'That would be a bad idea. He’ll try and stab you.'
‘I think this is a little more important than his beauty sleep.'
'It’s not that, he’s just so used to people trying to hurt him in his sleep that if someone wakes him up, he’ll just try to defend himself. I learnt the hard way.' Rayn pulled a sleeve of his shirt up to reveal a long, white scar on his arm. The skin was uneven and it glistened a little under the lighting. 'I don’t think we have time for you to learn the hard way too.'
‘That’s messed up. Who tried to hurt him?’ I was more than a little shocked. What would cause someone so much damage that they'd attack you almost in reflex?
'Plenty of people. He was never a popular boy.' Rayn laughed, like he was trying to tell me it was no big deal.
‘Well maybe the smell of bacon will wake him up.' I headed into the kitchen and began raiding the cupboards. Rayn followed me immediately.
‘I cooked him some scrambled eggs the other day,' I laughed a little realizing how silly this sounded. 'You may think it’s weird, but it’s important to keep our strength up, especially during these hard times.'
Mostly because you never knew what was right round the corner.