Word Count: 738
After we had all submitted to a blood test, we were free. Except for Cancer, of course, who was now holed up in his cell. They had found something in his blood from the scratch he had gotten at the motel and had contained him for ‘his safety.’ I wasn’t happy about this, but it was Rayn who had objected the most. He had kicked up a major fuss and was attracting the attention of any soldier in a nearby radius.
I tried calming him down, telling him to just go along with it and it would all be okay. My words lacked conviction though and he obviously picked up on this. In the end, I think just to make sure he wasn’t going to do any damage to anyone else or himself, they let him stay with Cancer.
I was left on my own to wander the survivor camp. It was pretty full already with tents dotted around the grounds and people huddled in small groups. Some were laughing, some were talking quietly and others were praying.
‘Are you new here?’ I heard a voice behind me and whirled round.
A girl, roughly my age, stared at me with wide blue eyes. I think she was trying to be friendly but all I felt was distrust.
‘You’ll get used to it,’ she smiled. ‘Have they locked your friends up?’
‘They’re not locked up,’ I said. ‘They can leave at any time.’
She didn’t look convinced, but said no more on the subject. She started to wander off but carried on talking so I assumed I was meant to follow her.
‘It’s a pretty neat place, isn’t it?’ She cast a glance back at me. I didn’t say anything. ‘It’s safer than out there. We have the army here.’
‘I can see that.’
‘Are you always this hostile?’ She turned round suddenly and faced me full on. I was a little taken aback.
I shrugged my shoulders, feeling like a rabbit caught in headlights.
She waited for an answer.
‘I’m not being hostile,’ I said slowly. ‘I don’t trust people I’ve just met. For obvious reasons.’
Her features softened slightly and she sighed, blowing a dark strand of hair out of her eyes. ‘I’m sorry. I guess I need to work on my people skills.’ She laughed lightly and I just stared at her like she was crazy. I didn’t want to be here right now, socializing with people I didn’t know. I wanted to know if Cancer and Rayn were safe or not and if I was honest I wanted to get on the road to Atlanta. Sure, it was a lot more dangerous out there than it was in here, but right now I was completely alone.
‘My name’s Robyn but everyone calls me Robby,’ she stuck her hand out and I shook it.
‘Hi Joe. Do you have anyone else here other than those people you were brought in with?’
‘No.’ I was a little confused how she knew who I was travelling with but didn’t say anything about it. Then, almost as if to be polite, I said: ‘Have you?’
‘Yeah, my sister.’ She gestured over to another girl; this one was older by a few years, sitting not too far away. ‘Her name is Riley. We lost both of our parents when this all started and have been on our own ever since.’ Her eyes became clouded with sadness.
‘I know how it feels,’ I replied, a little sympathetically.
‘It sucks, doesn’t it?’
‘Doesn’t even begin to describe it.’
She grew silent and went to sit over by her sister. I took this opportunity to explore the rest of my surroundings, just trying to pass the time. People kept to themselves when I passed, none as friendly as Robby was, and some even gave me wary expressions. I didn’t care much for these people. There was a section that had some drinks and I took a plastic cup of hot chocolate. It burnt my mouth but I swallowed it greedily, liking the way it warmed my insides and how the sugar felt against my tongue.
People were being generally optimistic; I could hear it in the laughter and the way they were conversing with one another. Their eyes were alight and they were smiling. I guessed it didn’t hurt to keep the atmosphere light in a place like this.