Word Count: 1346
I didn’t know why I was opening up to Joe so much. I‘d lost the only person I’d ever trusted and here I was talking to Joe like I’d known him as long as Rayn. My head was just in such a massive tail spin that I didn’t think and all this shit came pouring out of me like some unstoppable torrent of words.
I didn’t know if I was coming or going anymore, and I definitely had no idea where we were supposed to be going now. The CDC was a bust, a waste of time, energy, gas and ammo. All I knew anymore was that I felt like shit. There was nothing left in this piece of shit world anymore, no hope, no people, no fucking nothing.
Rayn had said once that my grip on reality was shaky at best. Fuck, was he right. Part of me was convinced those fucking insane people from the military barracks were still after us. I didn’t have any idea how things were going to go when the drugs ran out now that Rayn was… yeah. And they were running out fast.
“Huh?” I wasn’t really listening to what Joe was saying. His voice was pulling me out of my own head, and I really hoped he had something to say that wasn’t anything to do with Rayn.
“I shot them,” he said.
“One of the soldiers,” he told me, “he was bitten but still… I killed him.” There was this frown on his face.
“Where?” I asked, my heart tripping over itself as the paranoia crept back in.
“Back there,” he replied, “there was only one.”
“They’re not still following us are they?” I glanced in the rear view mirror, trying to tell myself I was being stupid.
“No, I’m pretty sure they’re all dead now.” I tried to force myself to relax at his words. They were dead. They weren’t coming back. I wasn’t going to have to go back there. I wasn’t entirely sure I’d have the will power to fight back.
“Okay,” I breathed in deeply, trying to anchor myself in reality again. “Why did you shoot him?”
“It was a mercy killing. He was bitten.”
I was trying to understand why he would bother when he was already dying. He didn’t pose any threat at the time, from what I could tell. I didn’t understand the point. “But he was dying anyway.”
“He was alive before I shot him. I ended his life, I took it from him.”
I have to admit I was kind of sickly interested. “How did it feel?” It was something to keep my mind busy, at any rate, and anything would do right now.
Joe looked confused. “Horrible,” he said with a frown. Huh.
“I didn’t feel anything the first time I killed someone,” I said, thinking back to it.
“How come?” Well, there’s a whole list of reasons there, kid.
I shrugged, not sure how to answer. “I’m just that fucked up?” I figured that was an explanation for just about everything about me that normal people didn’t understand. “I guess I just wanted to find out what it feels like for a normal person. Just ignore me.” Joe didn’t look like he understood. I kind of got the feeling he thought that I enjoyed it, because he gave me this weird look. I glanced over at him, not wanting to freak him out. I don’t think I’d have done too well if he’d left me because he found out I was more of a psycho than he thought. Still, the route this conversation was taking, he was going to think the worst of me by the end of it. I tried to brace myself for it. “I didn’t enjoy it. I just didn’t feel… anything.”
“Who did you kill?” he asked bluntly.
Silence filled the air between us for a couple of minutes there. I wasn’t sure what to tell him. The truth? The only thing I had to lose anymore was him, and this could be what made me lose him. But he was the one that wanted me to be honest, right? He’d spent enough time trying to get me to open up about my past, and here it was for him.
“My parents,” I didn’t look at him. I didn’t need to. His shock was something I could feel. He’d only just lost his parents a week ago, I s’pose I could see why he wasn’t too impressed with the news, even if I couldn’t understand why. I tried to shrug it off, wishing I’d lied.
“They deserved it. I didn’t just wake up with these scars one day,” I said, half gesturing to the old, pale lines on my torso. My shirt was still in the back of the car, covered in blood. I shoved that thought aside quickly, trying to keep my head clear.
“Wow, um, I’m sorry,” Joe struggled for words. It didn’t matter. He was about as good as I was at comforting people.
“I had a problem, I fixed it. That’s all I ever saw it as,” I shrugged again.
“How did you do it?” I wasn’t too sure why he was asking so many questions about it. Trying not to question it so hard, I pushed that aside too.
“Cut the brake line on their car.”
“Creative,” he said, looking around at our surroundings. We were just kind of driving. There wasn’t anything special around, no towns, just highway surrounded by fields. Even they looked like they were suffering for the zombies. “Where are we even going?”
“I don’t know. Away from there,” I paused, my mind catching up. “Wait, you don’t care?”
“Care about where we’re going?” he asked.
“About the fact I murdered my parents,” I muttered.
He gave me this little shrug. “It’s not really my business.”
I was surprised. More than surprised. I was expecting him to react badly. “I guess.”
“Besides, it doesn’t exactly sound like they treated you right.”
Silence fell between us again and we just drove. I wasn’t sure where we were or where we were going. I s’pose a part of me was still convinced the mountains, maybe in Canada, would be better than down here in the middle of nowhere with no decent place to hide out.
After a while, I needed to break the silence again. I couldn’t be left to just sit and think. Driving was so second nature to me that I wasn’t having to put any effort into it, and that was leaving me with a lot of free time to just think. I didn’t want to think.
“I’m sorry, y’know,” I mumbled awkwardly. I wanted to talk, but apologizing isn’t my strong suit, “that the person you got stuck with for all this shit was me.”
Joe was kind of surprised by the fact I’d said sorry to him. He could stay surprised, he wasn’t going to get it out of me again anytime soon.
“Don’t apologize. We’ve lost a lot, everyone has. Anyway, you’ve saved my life countless times. I think we’re okay.” His words almost brought a smile to my face. Not quite, but knowing he wasn’t just going to vanish on me was… I guess you’d call it a comfort? Something like that.
I think my brain had disconnected from my brain, I just kept talking and I was going to end up saying something stupid. “You’re all I’ve got left now.” There it is. I looked over at him, hoping I hadn’t just said totally the wrong thing.
“I’m in the same position,” he said, looking miserable again. Oh, well done, Cancer. You do know how to fuck things up, don’t you?
“Sorry,” I said it so quietly I wasn’t sure he’d hear it. I just wanted him to not abandon me. I’d look after him. I hadn’t managed to look after Rayn, but I’d look after him. It would be what Rayn wanted, right? For us to stick together and all that shit. Right?