Word Count: 728
Rayn was right there in front of me, giggling at something.
“Luca!” he grinned at me.
“You know I don’t like people calling me that,” I grumbled.
“I’m not people,” he chucked me under the chin, “smile.” I tried. He looked around him. We were sat in a tree. I was leaning against the trunk of it, avoiding looking down at the ground – he was opposite me at the end of the branch. “Why are we in a tree, Luca?”
“There were zombies. I walked a bit too far from the camp,” I mumbled, closing my eyes, “I can’t be bothered with them. They haven’t figured it out yet.”
“There’s nothing down there,” he said in that same tone little kids use when they don’t get something. I cracked open one eye to see him cocking his head to the side, looking at me expectantly.
“Maybe they went away.”
“Zombies don’t just go away. Maybe you were seeing things,” he suggested.
“Maybe I’m seeing things now and they’re still all down there, waiting for me.” Last time I checked, Rayn was dead. So seeing him could mean anything from wishful thinking to full blown hallucinations.
He was quiet for a minute. “I miss you,” he said sadly, looking down at his hands, twisting his fingers around each other.
“I miss you too. You haven’t got a fucking clue how much I miss you,” I admitted. The shaking was starting again and I couldn’t tell if it was all these unknown emotions I had when I wasn’t feeling numb, or the hunger from throwing up the only thing I’d eaten that day, or from the withdrawals. He shuffled forward so he was almost sat on top of me, stroking my hair and shushing me.
“Your hair’s getting long,” he smiled, pushing it back. I ran a hand through it, wondering when the last time I cut it was. It had to be a couple of months since I’d last seen a barber. “It kinda suits you. You’ve started getting a bit of muscle, too,” he prodded my arm, making me tense it involuntarily. “Looks like the apocalypse was built just for you. It’s done you some good.”
“I’d still rather just have our old life back.”
“I know,” his thumb brushed away a couple of tears before they could escape, a small smile still hanging on for dear life on his lips. He turned and sat so we were facing the same way, leaning into me. My arms slid around him protectively, like a fucking instinct.
When I woke up, I was alone again. The sun was just starting to rise. Glancing down at the ground, I hoped I really was alone. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths, feeling the branch underneath me. The rough bark scraped against my fingers and as I exhaled, I did my best to root myself in reality before going anywhere. I just had to hope that I was in the right one.
I wandered back slowly and carefully, following as many of the little landmarks I recognized as I could. I had no idea if I was going in the right direction, but it was something to do. If I got back before everyone woke up, I’d be able to pretend I never left. The only one that would know was that older guy that hit me. He could say what he liked, but he’d have no proof. I sneered at myself. What could he even do to me if I had been gone all night? Harley had said we were being left in the car because they didn’t trust us not to kill them all, and I’d hardly done that.
The camp came into sight soon enough. Thankfully, I’d made it in time – no one was awake yet. I slipped back into the car and locked the door, waiting for people to wake up and decide what was going to happen for the day. That was one thing about the apocalypse I hated. It was so boring. Just driving and killing and driving and arguing and driving and finding somewhere to sleep. Staying put in a camp had to be worse. At least with driving I felt like I was doing something useful, even when the CDC turned out to be a pile of smoking rubble.