Word Count: 1199
Coming back with so much stuff seemed to take the wind out of their sails but I was still mostly ignored, even by Joe. He was too busy talking to the others, and since they were avoiding me, he just went along with it.
I ate in the car, a joint in hand to keep me calm. When I had the time to sit and be by myself, the cravings for a hit were stronger. It was easy to fight through the withdrawals when I was pumped full of adrenaline. But now that was gone and it was replaced with the dizziness. I took a mouthful of water, forcing myself to keep it down.
I closed my eyes, breathing deeply, one hand on the steering wheel. I was hanging onto it like it was the only thing keeping me down where I was. It probably was.
“Cancer." I opened my eyes. “Cancer,” it was less than a whisper. My brain was tripping over itself trying to figure out if it was real or not.
“I really need a hit,” I said out loud. I just wanted to hear a fucking voice. I’d been sat in the car for what felt like hours. I flicked the butt of the joint out of the window, turning to drag Rayn’s bag out from under a pile of canned peaches. He had to have a few needles in here, clean or not. Wouldn’t fucking matter.
I tipped it out into my lap, holding my breath as I chucked his clothes onto the passenger seat. I almost missed it as I threw a pair of dirty boxers to the side. The needle dropped out of them, clipping the stick shift before coming to a rest by my foot. I paused, not sure I’d seen it, not wanting to get my hopes up. I moved my leg to the side and the metal of the needle shone up at me like a fucking star. I grabbed at it, pushing all the air from my lungs as I bent to reach it.
“Thank fuck,” I muttered, wiping the needle on my shirt. I tested it with a squirt of water and was treated to the sight of it shooting smoothly out of the syringe. My hands trembled, half with anticipation, as I cleaned out the spoon and cooked up a fresh hit.
I rolled up the leg of my jeans and looked for a vein that wasn’t on the verge of collapsing to inject in. I let out a relieved groan as I found one and stuck the needle in. My eyes rolled back and I slumped into the seat as the pain drained out of me. The rush was bliss. When you use junk the way I did before this, it was easy to forget why you started taking it in the first place because you’re doing it just to feel normal. And this was why. Having it less often was bringing me back to somewhere close to what I used to feel when I shot up.
Minutes crawled by in a stupor of smack induced happiness and the sound of my own shallow breathing. At some point those minutes turned into hours. It was quiet, peaceful.
Well it was until that one guy that had decided I was going to be his target for his own anger opened the door sticking his face in.
“You’ve been very quiet,” he said, his voice strangely accusing.
“I thought you wanted me to be,” I slurred, trying to make my mouth cooperate. I didn’t see why he had a problem with me sat in the car.
“You’re high,” he snapped angrily.
“Oh, fuck off,” I groaned, trying to push him out, “I’m not hurting anyone, you dumbass faggot.”
“I won’t have you in this state in the camp. There are children here. Did you make Joe put up with this?”
“He was welcome to leave if it bothered him,” I would’ve punched him already if I was capable of it.
“Robert, leave him alone,” I heard a woman saying somewhere off in the distance.
“No, I won’t stand for it. If he wants to do this shit, he can do it away from the camp.” He looked back at me, “get out of here. Don’t come back til you’re sober.” He slammed the car door, catching my arm with it. I rubbed it, sulking. The warmth in my veins was fading fast now. It still felt like moving was impossible, but somehow I forced myself to start the engine and drive away from the camp into the woods. I saw Joe in the wing mirror, standing up, shouting something, but I couldn’t hear him.
The light from the camp fire disappeared quickly behind the trees as I rolled the car slowly away from it. I stopped next to a massive tree, hoping like fuck nothing would take interest in me sat out here on my own.
That was the last thought that crossed my mind before I fell asleep. The calm silence of the woods had thrown water on the dim anger I’d felt at being pushed out and helped me drift off. It was the best sleep I’d had in a long time.
“Cancer,” the whisper woke me up. I rubbed my eyes. “You awake now?”
“What’s going on?” I asked stupidly, blinking in the bright morning light.
“You were having a nightmare,” Rayn told me, ruffling my hair. I looked around at him. He was sat in the driver’s seat with one hand on the steering wheel. Countryside was flying past us, blurring in a mix of dead brown fields and flickering fences.
“I was?” he nodded.
“Both hands on the steering wheel please, Rayn,” Joe’s concerned voice said behind me. Rayn tutted, but put his hand back on it anyway.
“Is this the right reality?” I pushed myself up in my seat, hiding the quick pinch I gave myself. I certainly felt it like it was real.
“Yeah,” Rayn frowned, “was it really that bad?”
“You… yeah it was that bad,” I mumbled.
“Do you remember what happened yesterday?”
I stared at the fields for a few long moments. “No.”
“We went to the CDC, found it was a wreck and then those crazy people from the military base caught up with us. I got shot in the arm,” he lifted his other arm, showing off the bandage around it, dark with dried blood. It made him wince, but he did it just to show me, to try and make me remember. “We took them out, you me and Joe. We make a good team,” he grinned, “and Joe found some stuff from a drug store to sort out my arm. I probably would’ve bled out if it weren’t for you two. You stayed with me and stopped the bleeding.” He flashed me this look that I think was grateful, smiling.
“That doesn’t sound anything like the dream I had,” I shuddered at the thought. There weren’t words to describe how fucking thankful I was that it was all in my head that he’d ever died. I’d never take his life for granted again.