Word Count: 1,141
Everything was deathly silent in those moments that Cancer sped down that highway.
We were all immersed in our own thoughts, still processing what had just happened. I felt like we weren’t really being given a fair shot at this surviving thing if we had to deal with people like Harry and his group, plus the undead; we were going to be screwed. I didn’t really see any way in which this was going to end positively for us.
I don’t think that I had fully come to terms with what had happened near the back of the motel either. I had killed someone. I had shot them. I know that it was either me or them but I still couldn’t stop the indescribable grief from crawling its way into my conscience. I didn’t feel much remorse for leaving Harry behind but I found myself wishing that it was a quick death for him. So much had changed since this had all started. I had changed and I was fairly certain that Cancer and Rayn had changed. Even if they were used to violence no one can feel confident fighting it on this kind of level. You never know what's lurking round the corner, you never know if you're seconds away from death. You're constantly living life on the edge, living every moment in fear and suspense.
Something like this was enough to change a person. Before this I had been an introvert, insecure teenage boy whose hobbies mostly consisted of reading and curling up on the sofa with my parents. Now look at me; I'm holding a gun in my hands which are covered in blood.
I wondered if, wherever they were, my parents would approve of my last minute decision. Would they have wanted me to take that man's life, or would they have wanted me to find another way out?
Get realistic Joe, there was no other way out. You know that deep down, too.
I ignored what my mind was telling me.
I was staring out of the window, lost in my thoughts, when I noticed the figure at the side of the road. They were slumped on the floor, and it wasn't unusual to see bodies, not anymore, but this one was breathing. From the curve of her body I could tell she was a female.
'Stop the car,' I patted Cancer on the shoulder. Both he and Rayn turned to see what I was looking at. The car slowed down. Nobody made any move to get out though.
She rolled over suddenly, her arm stretching out towards us. Her eyes were wide and even though she was weak, her lips still moved. 'Help,' she mouthed.
I got out of the car, ignoring the protests, and ran over to her.
'Are you okay?' It was a fucking stupid question but I didn't know what else to say.
She shook her head, looking like she was going to be sick. Her hair clung to her forehead, sticky with blood. She didn't speak but she moved her hand to motion to her other arm which was completely limp. I leant over her and gently pushed the sleeve of her jumper back.
At that moment Rayn came up beside me.
'What is it?'
'She's been bitten.'
The words hung in the air. She stared up at us, terrified.
'How did you get that gash on your forehead?' I asked her.
She frowned slightly and winced. 'I fell against the floor when they attacked. I still don't know how I managed to get away, I think it was just luck.' She sat up slightly and pushed herself against the fence.
I stood up and pulled Rayn to one side.
'Can we save her, maybe?' he asked.
Can we? She's been bitten...'
'I don't know,' he chewed his lip. 'I don't know much about this thing. All I know is that you can't touch them or you'll get it.'
'We can't leave her here, should we take her back to the car?'
I was trying to be discreet about it but I knew that our quiet conversation was unnerving the girl.
'I'll ask Cancer,' Rayn skittered off back to the car. I saw Cancer look over in my direction.
I smiled at the girl, a little shakily. She tried to return it.
'Joe!' Cancer called. I went over to him. 'There's nothing we can do. Stop wasting daylight, let's go.'
I didn't want more blood on my hands though and this is why I was stubborn. 'But maybe we can help her?'
'We're going to Atlanta, maybe there's a cure there.'
'We're days away, she won't make it. You'd be kinder just putting her out of her misery.'
I knew that he was right, I had seen it happen before my eyes with my father but maybe that's why I didn't want to relive it. I wanted to keep hope alive.
'I don't want to do it,' I shook my head.
Cancer got out of the car and pulled his gun into view. He started making his way over to her.
'Wait, stop! She isn't dead yet, you can't kill her!'
'What do you want me to wait for this virus to kill her first?'
'She's still coherent, it'd be murder.'
Cancer went over to crouch beside the girl. He spoke bluntly: 'Hey, look, there isn't much we can do for you, but you still have a choice. Do you wanna sit here to die or do you want me to put a bullet in your brain and let you die a human?'
I scrunched my nose up at his choice of words.
The girl started crying hysterically, shaking her head.
I reached out for her hand and squeezed it tight. 'It's gonna be okay.'
What a fucking lie.
Rayn was stood around awkwardly, not sure what to do with himself. I was most surprised at Cancer though; he was being remarkably sympathetic and patient. 'It's up to you.'
'I don't want to die,' she said, still crying.
Understandable, I thought.
Cancer gave her a small hug. I nearly choked on my shock.
'Do you want us to wait with you or...' I trailed off. Or what? Or leave you here to die?
She nodded. 'Please.'
I thought that Cancer might object to this, that he might insist that we were wasting time, but instead he sat with her, one arm round her shoulders and the other holding onto his gun. Rayn still stood looking a little awkward and out of place and I still sat there holding her hand.
It was completely silent when she passed away. It hadn't taken long either, despite the fact that she was able to have a conversation just minutes before. It really did spread quickly.
When the time did come, it was Rayn who shot her.