Luca: Happy Birthday, JoeMature

Word Count: 688


The dark was starting to set in when I started falling asleep. Driving is tiring. I forgot how exhausting road trips are – and that’s without all the drama and shit thrown in. Before I knew it, I was off in my own little world, having the best sleep anyone could have in the back of a car with a sick teenager and a maniac behind the wheel of a car so big he can’t see over the fucking dashboard.

The next thing I saw after watching a field of sand and dirt passing me by in the dark, was what looked like the sort of edges of a town. We weren’t moving as fast as before, but I suppose at least we were still moving.

My head felt like someone had left a jackhammer on inside of it all night and my insides were curling in on themselves. I needed a hit.

“Oh!” Joe’s voice pierced through my brain like a fucking fog horn, dragging me into some kind of reality. It wasn’t exactly a reality I wanted to be a part of. “Today’s the sixteenth of August,” he said like that was supposed to mean something to either of us. I figured he was just being Joe and spouting random crap because he could. I hadn’t been keeping track of the days, really. I never knew what the date was. I only ever paid attention when it started getting colder because that usually meant it was nearly Rayn’s birthday. Rayn glanced in the rear view mirror as I fumbled around through my things, pushing my hair out of my face, trying to mix up a hit in a moving vehicle. Easier said than done. I kept dropping the fucking foil.

“What’s that got to do with anything?” Rayn asked.

“It’s my sixteenth birthday,” Joe explained, his voice and face both getting sad.

“Why don’t we celebrate or something?” Rayn suggested brightly, like we could just throw him a party.


“No idea. We’ll find something, though.”

“Take him to a bowling alley or some shit like that,” I said through a mouth full of belt, trying to find a good vein. It was getting harder and harder to find one. Not that it had been easy for a long time now, but y’know. Just stupidly difficult. “There’s gotta be somewhere around here,” I mumbled, sliding the needle into a vein just below the belt.

Joe looked out of the window. He looked like he was thinking about things he shouldn’t be thinking about at all. I finished up with my gear and shoved it all back in the bag, feeling that comforting old wash of warmth flood through my body. My insides uncurled and the headache started to go away.

“Try not to think too much, eh?” I said, wishing he’d just relax. “Just focus on being happy. You’ve made it this far, it’s your birthday.” It wasn’t like it was perfect or anything, but we’d find something, I was sure of it. Rayn would sniff somewhere out – he had to be dying to be doing something fun.

“I’ll try not to,” Joe muttered. I wasn’t convinced.

“Have another joint or something. You’ll be fine.”

“I’ll be okay,” Joe insisted. I ignored him and drowsily rolled him a weak joint. It’d get him stoned, and that was all that was important. I couldn’t be dealing with him being miserable anymore, and if it meant wasting a little weed, I’d deal with that when I had to.

Sure enough, within half an hour, Rayn had found a bowling alley that looked at least relatively safe. It was a mess inside, but we scoured the place and found only bodies that were already definitely one hundred percent dead. I dragged them into a back room and shut the door so it just looked – as much as possible, anyway – like we’d just gotten the bowling alley to ourselves. Rayn found a generator and fired it up, powering the sound system and one lane.

Handing Joe a bowling ball, Rayn smiled up at him. “Happy birthday, Joe.”

The End

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