Word Count: 760
‘I want you to stay away from my sons, alright?’ The mother pulled her child closer to her and he shot me a smug look. I simply rolled my eyes and walked away. I obviously hadn’t gotten anything through that thick narrow-minded head of his. The entire family were bigots and I didn’t want to associate myself with people like that.
For the rest of the day I just wandered. Nobody tried talking to me, but they appeared friendly enough. It was only the family and the old woman that I steered clear of. A few smiled in my direction, others greeted me if I walked past. Harley was the only one who could hold any form of conversation with me.
‘It’s getting worse out there,’ he said quietly, making sure no one else could hear.
I nodded in agreement.
‘How did this whole thing even start?’
‘I’m not sure. We went to the CDC to try and ascertain whatever the hell was happening but that was a bust. The entire thing had been burnt to the ground.’
Harley’s mouth fell open. ‘All of it?’
‘Every last brick.’
‘You guys travelled from Nevada all the way to Atlanta?’ Harley seemed impressed.
‘Yeah, it was somewhere to go. Plus it gave us some hope.’ I shrugged my shoulders. ‘I’m not sure what we’re going to do now that that’s all gone.’
‘It’s hard to keep hope alive in a world like this, I know.’ Harley’s eyes clouded over with sadness.
‘Who did you lose?’
It was a rather blunt question and I hadn’t meant for it to come out so direct. Maybe my etiquette was disintegrating a little more each day. Soon we’d all be animals with no recollection of what humanity used to be like. We’d be living off our primal instinct to survive and it would become a vicious fight where only the fittest would survive.
Harley seemed a little taken aback for a second before he spoke. ‘My girlfriend. It was at the start, when this all happened.’ His features twisted in grief and I regretted asking.
‘I’m sorry. I know what it’s like to lose someone you love.’
‘We’ve all been through it; every single person in this camp has lost someone.’
‘That family seem pretty secure and together.’
‘Oh yeah, they’re the lucky ones. They lost the family dog but that’s it.’
I suppressed a snigger. I wasn’t heartless at all but losing a dog hardly seemed like the worst that could happen. They had gotten off lightly.
Hearing the sound of a car rolling up, I turned round to see Cancer pulling into the camp. He had a few bags of supplies and the camp seemed pretty surprised that he’d made it back alive. I felt relief that he hadn’t died but was still feeling a little pissed off with him from what he had said earlier. I wasn’t being petty in the slightest; at least I didn’t think I was. People needed to learn that it was us vs. them. Humans vs. the undead and if we were pit ourselves against one another because we were racist then we were not going to last long at all.
The supplies were distributed out among the group and the atmosphere seemed to lift slightly. People still ignored Cancer and I knew I shouldn’t have been, but I was one of them. He didn’t seem to care anyway; he was sat in the car getting high and eating the food. I thought about going over to him on several occasions, to see how he was but I never did. I left him to it.
‘Do you need any help?’ I asked the same guy that had nearly been the target of Cancer’s racism. He was now trying to set up another tent from one of the cars.
‘Please,’ he said.
I had no idea how to pitch a tent but I followed his instructions and two pairs of hands seemed better than one. Once it was all done, we stepped back and admired the handiwork.
There was a massive elephant in the room though, well, in the outdoors and I felt it needed addressing.
‘Hey,’ I said, sounding a little awkward. ‘About earlier…’
‘Don’t worry about it.’
‘He’s a good guy he just says the wrong things sometimes.’
‘I said don’t worry about it,’ he held up his hand, grinning. ‘I’m willing to let it slide. We’re all tired and hungry and say things we don’t mean.’
I smiled gratefully at him, thankful he was so understanding.