Joe: What theMature

Word Count: 952

I hadn’t meant to get upset all over again; I was trying so hard to avoid that emotion but it wasn’t going so well. It was true though, Cancer was the only person I had left and I was the only one he had left. How could it be that way? Only a few weeks ago I had my whole life ahead of me and Cancer had the only person he could trust with him by his side.

‘The road is unusually quiet. I thought we’d see more zombies.’ I noted that the entire highway or whatever it was called in America was practically deserted. Abandoned cars were our only obstacles but we weaved through them with ease.

‘I’m sure we’ll find them sooner or later,’ Cancer replied in a flat tone.

‘I’m not completely hopeless anymore,’ I grinned, trying to be positive and lighten the mood. ‘At least I’ll be able to help.’

Cancer nodded, oblivious to my inefficient efforts. ‘I’ll try not to be totally useless.’

‘We’ll be fine.’ I was repeating his words, the ones he had spoken when I was the one breaking down. I was toying with the idea of trying to say something about not giving up, giving him a little pep talk. A world like this can break down even the strongest human being but once that happened, we were as good as dead.

I didn’t want to die anymore; I wanted to carry on surviving.

‘Listen, I know that you feel like you want to give up. I’ve been there and believe me it isn’t pretty, but you can’t let this world beat you. You gotta keep fighting.’

Cancer pulled the car over to the side of the road and slumped in his seat. ‘I know. I just have enough trouble dealing with emotions as it is. I feel like someone’s ripped my insides out.’

I knew that feeling all too well. ‘I know, but that’s what being human is about. Grief is normal. It’s horrible, but it’s normal. The pain that you’re feeling now? Just let it remind you that you’re still alive in this world.’ I was trying to be helpful, the words were coming out of my mouth and I was thinking carefully about each one. I wasn’t sure if they were going to work or if Cancer was going to draw into himself even more than he already had.

‘I’ve never lived without Rayn before,’ he replied, glancing at me. ‘Like if we weren’t together, it wasn’t gonna be long before we were back with each other again.’

‘I know what it feels like, being dependent on someone for all of your life and to not have them around anymore. It makes you feel like you’re completely lost, or you’re drowning and you can’t get the air that you need; it’s the worst feeling in the world. But you can’t let it consume you, you have to carry on.’

He nodded and I could tell he was trying not to cry. He was trying to be brave and impassive but I could see right through him.

‘It’s okay to be upset. It doesn’t make you weak if you cry.’

For one second I thought he was going to break down again; his eyelid flickered and his mouth seemed to crumple slightly but then the mask was back and he took a deep, shaky breath. ‘I’m fine.’ He started driving again. ‘I’ll be fine.’

I was completely unconvinced but I didn’t push it any further. I’d let him deal with his grief in his own way and be there if he needed to talk about it. It made me feel guilty that I’d contemplated leaving him; I couldn’t ever tell him that. I think it’d just make him feel a lot worse.

We had been driving in complete silence for what felt like years. We must have travelled at least one hundred miles and I was fairly certain that Cancer was taking us north. We stopped off a couple of times for petrol and provisions but didn’t linger like we had done previously. Maybe it brought on too many memories of Rayn, Cancer and I lazing about in the supply store getting drunk and stoned.

We came across several zombies, but they couldn’t catch up with the car. Each time we passed some, the grip I held on my gun got a little tighter and my body tensed for attack. Maybe it’d happen often enough that it’d become a reflex, or an instinct.

We were approaching a place called Toccoa Falls when I spotted a shadow running past the car at full speed. It darted across out in our path and stopped suddenly and Cancer had to slam the brakes hard. I went flying forward in my seat, thankful I was wearing a seatbelt and Cancer swore loudly.

Before we could register what it was, the back door flung open and someone climbed in.

I turned my gun straight onto whatever the hell it was and was prepared to shoot when I saw scared blue eyes staring back at me. A hooded figure, a male, was panting and gasping for breath.

‘Drive!’ he urged.

I was confused. Luckily, Cancer seemed to get the gist of it a lot quicker than I did and accelerated forwards, kicking up dirt and gravel behind the wheels.

Something slammed into the back of the car and I jumped.

A quick glance in the rear view mirror told me we were being followed by dozens and dozens of zombies.

Where the hell had they all come from?!

‘Hold on,’ Cancer said and pressed the pedal right down.

I locked all of the doors and braced myself.

The End

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