Word Count: 811
When I woke up I found my entire body ached from spending the night on such an uncomfortable sofa and I was grumpy due to lack of sleep.
I didn't think that Cancer would take me up on my offer of helping him to read so when he agreed I was a little thrown. I wasn't entirely sure how to teach a grown man; I had no experience of it.
'Let me just go get my glasses,' I wandered back into the room and grabbed my glasses from the cabinet. To my dismay, I noticed a small crack in the lense, spread out like a spider’s web. It must have been from when Cancer had hit me; I hadn't even noticed it before. I shrugged my shoulders and put them on anyway; my eyesight wasn't sorely affected by the damage.
When I went back in to see Cancer, he was pulling something burnt out the oven. It looked like a baguette of some kind, at least, it might have been. The edges were black and charred and the smell wafted up my nostrils. It wasn't particularly appealing but beggars can't be choosers. There were sausages too which looked like they had fared a little better.
‘Where do you want to start then?’ I asked Cancer as he was serving up. ‘How much do you know?’
‘Urm, I know the word motel for a start. I know police, live rounds, blank rounds…’
‘Sounds about right.’ I wasn’t overly sure what to do so I suggested starting from the very beginning with the basics.
‘When you’ve learnt how to clean a gun, you can start teaching me. This is more important,’ Cancer gestured to the gun laying in pieces on the floor. I wrinkled my nose up. It looked too complicated for my liking.
‘The sooner you learn, the quicker you’ll pick it up,’ I pointed out.
‘I’ve always managed to get by without learning to read. I’ll live. You, on the other hand, might not if you don’t learn what you need to about firearms.’
I could see that Cancer was determined.
‘Fine but you’re just putting it off, it has to be done.’
‘Why?’ Cancer asked as though the answer wasn’t plain obvious. ‘Surely now the world has gone to shit reading’s even less important than it used to be?’
‘Reading has and always will be important. What happens if you’re handed an important document like you were at the hospital and nobody’s around to read it for you? What if you see a sign that somewhere is crawling with the undead and entry is highly not recommended?’ I was getting a little defensive by this point; reading had always been a big part of my life. It provided me with many hours of some form of escape from harsh reality. It soothed me during high school.
‘I’ll figure it out for myself, I usually do. I managed to get out of that hospital just fine.’
I sighed, exasperated. ‘Doesn’t it bother you a little to know that you’re a grown man who can’t read?’ I realized how harsh the words sounded as soon as they left my mouth but I couldn’t take them back.
‘Only when people rub it in,’ he scowled at me.
‘Okay, it’s your choice,’ I replied, feeling guilty.
It wasn’t really any of my business if Cancer didn’t want to learn straightaway and he was right; learning to use a gun was important. It was strange how learning to use a firearm had surpassed literature in the world we were now living in. Maybe literature would never be as important anymore. Maybe it would eventually be forgotten and all anyone knew was survival; how to kill things and stay quiet.
I eyed my meal a little dubiously. ‘This burnt baguette looks delicious.’
‘Nothing wrong with it being a bit burnt,’ Cancer replied, looking happy enough as he tucked into his.
‘Is Rayn up yet?’ I asked, picking a bit of the black bit off my food.
‘Probably not. He doesn’t get to sleep so long usually, so I figured I’d just leave him to it.’
‘Well, we’ve got a bit of a long journey ahead of us, shouldn’t we carry on?’
Cancer gave me a look that told me not to push it. ‘Leave the guy be. He’s usually up by five in the morning.’
I couldn’t help but think how unfair it was that when I was learning to shoot we were suddenly in a massive rush to move on but when Rayn needed a bit of sleep, we suddenly had all the time in the world. I knew it wasn’t worth voicing my annoyance though; I could easily imagine what the reply would be. Besides, I didn’t really want to wake Rayn by myself; the guy did need his rest.
We ate in silence.