Word Count: 1,221
I hardly slept at all that night. Sleeping in a car was an improvement to a hard cold floor but it still wasn’t exactly the Ritz. My muscles cramped during the night and nightmares came to me vividly. Rayn was a frequent guest in my dreams. I was plagued with guilt at shooting him. He blamed me, I knew he did. He wasn’t really dead when I shot him, he was alive.
I knew of course this wasn’t true, but it’s what the darkest parts of my mind were trying to tell me. I was a murderer, even if it wasn’t Rayn. I had looked a human being in the eyes and pulled the trigger.
The guilt was trying to eat me alive, I could feel it tearing away at my insides and pulling me further into isolation. I tried to push it away but it was like the weight of it was too much and I was too weak to deal with it.
I don’t know how long I had been sleeping or how much time had passed before I heard the car door close quietly. I could have been asleep, or awake. The inside of the car was beginning to merge in with my unconsciousness. Reality blurred into dreams and vice versa.
I stirred and sat up. Cancer didn’t notice, he looked troubled and lost in dark thoughts. Had I dreamed him getting into the car? Wasn’t it locked?
‘Where did you go?’ my voice sounded impossibly loud in the silence.
Cancer jumped slightly, dragging himself back to reality. ‘Nowhere.’
I reached for my glasses and stretched, figuring it was early enough to get up properly. I tried opening the door before realizing we were locked in. How long were they going to keep us in here?
Cancer’s arm reached out to unlock the door. I hadn’t been dreaming then.
‘Is everyone still asleep?’ I asked, rather pointlessly.
The tents were all zipped shut although I could make out a couple of guys keeping watch with heavy guns. They glanced in our direction as we emerged from the car and I saw distaste in their eyes.
‘As far as I can tell. I don’t really care.’
I couldn’t help the worried glance I gave Cancer. He was slipping further into darkness. Who knows what’d happen when he was fully submerged?
I spotted Harley walking over to us. He looked tired; dishevelled black hair stuck out in tufts and his eyes looked heavy. He was wearing the same black zip up jacket from yesterday.
‘You two sleep well?’
‘As well as you can sleep in a car,’ I replied.
Cancer remained silent.
Some time passed uneventfully as we waited for others to wake up. For a long while it was just me Harley and Cancer. The guys with the guns never looked at us again and Harley was being friendly so it wasn’t an awful start to the day.
However, as the others started to rise I could feel the hostility from the previous day beginning to creep back in. The father of the maybe-racist family was poking around for something, obviously to no avail as he informed the rest of the group that we needed more supplies.
‘I thought that was what Harley was doing when we ran into him?’ Cancer said. His voice was gruff and flat.
‘Yeah, but then I got ambushed by those creeps,’ he shrugged sheepishly. ‘I didn’t get too much, only some medical supplies.’
Cancer rolled his eyes.
The father turned to speak to a couple of other people and they were casting glances our way, mainly at Cancer. I was slowly beginning to realize what direction this was going in and my stomach began to fill with dread. I wasn’t the only one though; Harley was looking anxious and Cancer was getting angrier.
‘The new guy should go,’ the father announced, saying out loud the words we all knew had been coming.
I scowled at him. ‘I’ll go too.’
There was no way he was going on his own, not after what had happened to Harley.
The guy from the older couple spoke up: ‘We can’t make a kid go. He can do it on his own; he’s a big boy.’
I frowned at being called a kid. ‘You can’t send him on his own, it’s not safe.’
Cancer stood up. ‘It’s fine Joe. I’ll go on my own.’ He walked back to the car, presumably to get ready.
‘No, look what happened to Harley. Someone else has got to go too.’
‘I’m happy to respect his choice to go alone.’
‘You’d be killing him!’ My temper was beginning to rise. How ruthless were these people that they’d send someone out into the open all for the sake of a few supplies?
‘I’ll be fine,’ Cancer repeated, tucking a gun into the waistband of his jeans. ‘I’m white trash, remember?’ his voice was dripping with venom and the look he shot the others could have frozen even the most callous of people.
I, however, was a little more stubborn. ‘You’re not going.’ I turned to face the others. ‘He isn’t going.’
They didn’t understand what state of mind Cancer was in right now, certainly no condition to carry out something as dangerous and life threatening as this. He wasn’t healthy and he wasn’t really coherent either. He had to stay in one place, out of harm’s way if he wanted to even begin to recover. Besides, if I lost him I really would be all on my own then.
One of the other guys raised his hand and smiled a little. ‘I’ll go with him, if you want.’
Cancer gritted his teeth. ‘I’m not going with a n-‘ he paused. ‘No.’
It was pretty obvious what he had been about to say and the tension right then was unbelievable. I felt a massive wave of anger towards Cancer. I thought we were done with the narrow-mindedness. I had no idea he was a racist too.
My mouth was still open in shock and I snapped it shut, rather loudly. ‘Fine. Be careful.’
‘I will,’ Cancer said, pulling a shirt on. I tried to control my look of disgust towards him. There was nothing I hated more than prejudice in the world.
The guy was calm enough to pretend he didn’t notice Cancer’s close slip-up and wandered off somewhere. I’d talk to him later about it, but for now we needed a list of things to get.
Harley was one step ahead of me and passed me a small sheet of paper. ‘Pass this on to your friend. Wish him luck for me.’
I took it over to Cancer.
He looked at it blankly, waiting.
‘Oh!’ I said suddenly, remembering his illiteracy. ‘See this is why it’s important to be able to read.’ I carried on before he could say anything. ‘Canned goods; vegetables and fruit mainly. Bottled water, toothpaste, feminine hygiene stuff and if you can spot any some batteries for the flashlight.’
He nodded once.
‘Would you like me to draw you some pictures?’
He snatched the paper from me and strode over to the car. I watched him rev it up and speed out of there, unsure if it was the last time I was going to see him.