Word Count: 804
I’d hoped. I knew, in the back of my mind what was happening. But I’d hoped.
I couldn’t help being angry at Joe. He didn’t have the right to do what he did. Rayn was my friend, my fucking brother. I knew it needed doing, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with the fact that Joe had just shot him in the head. There was a time that Joe wouldn’t have been able to do that – not even that long ago. It’s only been a week or so, I think, since I got out of that hospital.
The one I was more angry at, though, was myself. It was my fault I hadn’t been there to stop him getting bitten. I had always looked after him as much as I could.
It was humiliating, breaking down in front of Joe like that. I don’t think I’d ever felt so empty or miserable. There was more to it than that, but emotions had always been something that just confused me. I knew angry, happy and sad. All I recognized in what I was feeling was anger and sadness.
My head was totally empty but at the same time, too full up with a mess of noise. My first reaction to it was to get high. I didn’t know any other coping methods than that. I definitely didn’t know how to survive without Rayn around. We’d spent plenty of time apart over the years, but it was never going to be a permanent thing.
I lifted my head off the steering wheel, the cravings scratching at the inside of my skull as I wiped my eyes, starting the car again. I put on my poker face and mumbled something about finding somewhere to sleep for the night when Joe asked where we were going. I didn’t want to sleep, I just wanted to be left alone long enough to get high. Maybe I’d overdose. It’d be an accident, Joe wouldn’t know any better.
It was tempting.
But Joe would be left on his own. And I’d grudgingly made a promise to look after him. I wouldn’t be much use to him dead.
Joe opened his mouth like he was about to say something and changed his mind.
“It’ll be alright,” he said when he next opened his mouth.
“I wish I could believe that,” I said more coldly than I’d meant to. I just wanted to forget about everything, for the poker face to be more than just a mask. If I was going to be empty on the inside, I wanted to be completely empty.
“I don’t want to make room for it,” I gritted my teeth. It was too soon to be talking about Rayn like he was gone forever.
“It’ll consume you if you don’t,” he told me. He had no idea what to say to me, but it didn’t matter.
“Then fuck it,” I replied, pulling up outside a small convenience store. I’d barely noticed the highway disappearing from underneath us. We’d ended up in this tiny little town in the shit end of nowhere.
Joe got out of the car, grabbing a couple of weapons from the box in the back of the car. I didn’t even look – Rayn’s stuff was still in there.
I resisted the urge to just make a mad run in there and get myself killed. I watched Joe as he scouted the area without me. When he decided it was safe, he went inside, taking the lead. It was like watching a ginger version of myself. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at all. I sighed and followed him in, too fucking listless and drained to care if there was anything in here. I followed him to the doorway of the back room, mostly just in case he couldn’t handle it himself, but other than that I was more than happy to let him do all the work.
There was only one zombie in there, and Joe stabbed it in the head with ease.
“Place is safe,” he announced.
“You wouldn’t have been able to do that a few days ago,” I noted, feeling my eyebrows fold downwards in a small frown. If wasn’t feeling so fucked up, I might have been concerned about how Joe was changing. “I’ll go hide the car, anyway,” I left him there alone while I went to deal with the car. Once it was hidden, I cooked up a hit and hoped that Joe wouldn’t notice, or at least not care too much when I went back in that I was full of heroin. I was going to have to find a new safety net soon, but I didn’t want to have to think about that. I didn’t want to think about anything.