Word Count: 610
For a long while, I stared at his body and at the blood as it slowly trickled from the neat round wound in his forehead.
He had been scared and dying. The infection had been tearing through him, changing his cells, ravaging his mind. It had been a mercy killing and nothing else. I wasn’t to feel guilty; any other decent human being would have done the same thing.
Was I a murderer?
No, I was Joe Hartness, a sixteen year old boy caught in a post-apocalyptic world, doing what he had to in order to survive.
I had killed a human being.
This wasn’t the first person I had killed. I shot that guy at the motel when we were ambushed. I hadn’t looked into his eyes while I pulled the trigger though.
I refused to think about it, not just yet and instead found myself wandering back the way I had come. I couldn’t leave Cancer, not after he had stuck with me throughout everything. He had promised to look after me and I couldn’t turn my back on him. What sort a person would that make me?
The journey back was completely uneventful. I didn’t get lost, I didn’t come across any other zombies and I didn’t kill any other people. My feet seemed to know where they were going and I let them take me back to the car. I didn’t expect it to still be there, not in the slightest. I had expected him to leave me in the forest and travel on alone. I wouldn’t blame him.
So you can imagine my surprise when I saw it stood there, waiting.
I climbed in, dumped my bags in the back seat and waited.
Cancer emerged minutes later looking terrible, covered in blood. He slipped into the driver’s seat and started the car.
‘How do you make room for this?’ he mumbled. ‘How the fuck is anyone supposed to deal with this shit? This world is fucked.’
I nodded in agreement.
We drove on, sometimes Cancer would say something either about Rayn or about the fucked up situation we were in. He’d curse the virus, the world and every other person. Then he’d say something about Rayn when he was younger. Then he’d go back to calling the scientists in the CDC every name under the sun. Then Rayn would come back into conversation and Cancer might attempt a smile at a memory.
It carried on like this for ages and I sat listening.
When you’re grieving, it’s important that you don’t bottle things up. Talking about it does help. Not only does it help you to cope with it but it also helps to keep that person’s memory alive. Rayn’s memory was never going to fade; it was like a constant bright light that burned through the night, eliminating any nightmares and providing comfort to those who needed it. He was a bubbly ball of energy and this certainly wasn’t going to change now that he was no longer with us.
It was going to continue, he just wouldn’t be present while it did.
My mind wandered back to the soldier, to the guy at the motel, to Harry Acker, to my parents. It took me over every shitty thing that had happened since this whole ordeal had started and made me relive every second of it. It wasn’t a very pleasant thing but I figured it was only natural.
I’m sorry mum and dad, for letting you die.
I'm sorry Rayn, for losing you to the zombies.
I’m sorry to the two people that I killed.
Harry Acker, you can still burn in hell.