Joe: ChilledMature

Word Count: 1,010

I will be strong. I will be brave. I will fight. The words ‘I will’ seem to have more of an impact than ‘I can’. ‘Will’ implies that you have no other option. ‘Can’ suggests incapability. No more tears. No more messing around. This is the apocalypse and I’m living in it, right now. I can’t keep focussing on how things used to be, how normal and easy it was compared to what we endure now. I have to start living in the present and I have to start adapting pretty quick or there’s absolutely no way I’ll make it out alive.

 Cancer had pretty much insisted on not taking any breaks and if they were necessary then keeping them to a bare minimum. In seven hours’ worth of driving I think that we stopped off two times. It was a relief when he finally pulled up to an empty gas station and got out the car. I had absolutely no idea where we are but it felt like the other side of America. We had to be near Atlanta by now.

Rayn got out and started to wander around, looking a little better than I felt. I had never experienced a hangover before today and it was just now that I understood why people hated them so much. My stomach felt like it was going to send its contents back up and it felt like someone had stuck my head in a vice and started tightening. My mouth was as dry as sandpaper in a desert and I carried on gulping the water which helped a little.

‘Where are we?’ I decided to ask when it became apparent that no one else was going to.

Cancer pulled the map out of the car and started squinting at it. I wondered if he could read the names of the places or if he just knew where we were by process of elimination. ‘We’re in Texas.’

I wasn’t being thick, I just didn’t know much about America or where the states were in relation to one another.  ‘Is that near Atlanta?’

Rayn came over and pointed out where it was. My mouth fell open in shock. We had miles to go yet! Who's bright idea was it to go to Atlanta?

I heaved a sigh and went back to sit down in the car, still feeling like crap. I wanted to sleep, but I had done enough sleeping for one journey and when I slept my dreams were vivid. Rayn got into the driver’s seat this time and Cancer sat in the back beside me. I was clutching onto the water bottle like it was my life.

Rayn’s driving wasn’t much better than Cancer’s and all the speedy motions made my stomach curl uncomfortably. Cancer started to roll a joint and the image just made me feel really sick for some reason. I could feel it rising with each passing second and grabbed the door handle desperately.

‘I think I need to throw up.’

Rayn jerked the car to a stop and I practically fell out. I made my way over to the side of the road and tried taking deep breaths. I really hated being sick.

Rayn came over and started rubbing my back. In the end, the entire contents of my stomach came up.

‘I hate alcohol,’ I muttered, swirling my mouth out with water.

I could tell that Rayn was trying not to laugh. ‘Have you never been drunk before?’

I shook my head, a little sheepishly. ‘First time. That obvious?’

‘Mhm,’ he nodded.

‘Never again.’ I wandered back over to the car and got in, feeling a little better.

Cancer offered me his joint. ‘Try some of this. It’s my cure for hangovers.’

I looked at it a little uncertainly. Alcohol was one thing but drugs were on a whole other level for me. I couldn’t help but feel a little corrupted. I automatically thought about what my parents would say and the knowledge that I would never know started to overwhelm me, so I took the joint.

However, I was a little unsure of what to do.

‘You’ve never smoked before either, have you?’ Cancer chuckled. ‘Just suck it in like it’s through a straw and breathe it in.’

I did as he said, but it felt uncomfortable, maybe I hadn’t done it right. I immediately coughed it back up, spluttering frantically.

‘You okay?’ Rayn asked, through the rear view mirror.

I gave him the thumbs up. ‘I’m okay.’

Cancer let me take my time with it and I tried another time. I managed to breathe it in like he had said better this time and felt it fill me up. Nothing happened straightaway though and I was a little confused.

I gave it back to him.

‘Now what?’

He took a few more tokes. ‘You have more until you’re stoned.’

I did some more and felt it beginning to hit me. I didn’t really know what to expect but it seemed as though everything slowed down a great deal, even Rayn’s driving, and also like I wasn’t really there, like I was in a dream or something. I sagged back into the seat, loving the feel of the leather and smiled.

‘Feeling better?’ Cancer’s voice sounded distant.

I felt myself nod.

‘I hope we find a weed farm somewhere. That would be awesome.’ He started laughing to himself and I joined in suddenly finding the whole thing hilarious. The laughter bubbled right out from inside me and I couldn’t stop it. When it finally did die down, I didn’t last long before it started up again. My stomach ached from laughing so much and I tried to calm down. I was feeling too chilled out though and didn’t want to do anything.

‘Why didn’t I do this before? This is great.’

‘I dunno, cos your parents looked after you and kept you away from it.’

Even the mention of my parents had no effect on me. I carried on smiling, allowing myself to float along.

The End

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