Word Count: 1,146
Sometime later Cancer came back into the camp, shaking slightly. His eyes were darting from left to right and his forehead had a slight sheen to it. I knew immediately it was the drugs. I was beginning to get used to it. I stood up to go over and help him when his eyes clapped on the old guy and twisted into something that resembled manic fear.
Other people began to notice him and a few murmurs went round the camp. People were growing uneasy and it wasn’t hard to see why; Cancer was pulling his knife out and started towards the man. He was set in determination and it didn’t take a genius to figure out what he was going to do.
‘Cancer!’ I shouted. ‘What the hell are you doing?’
He wasn’t listening. He was tripping big time.
The man didn’t seem to notice what was happening until the last possible moment when it was almost too late.
Cancer brought his knife high above his head and was about to end the man’s life when someone grabbed him round the waist and tackled him away. They scrabbled on the ground whilst Cancer managed to reach for his gun and aim it at his assailant’s head. The guy backed off with his hands held up.
‘Cancer!’ I said again.
He turned to face me. ‘Get the fuck over here you dumbass!’
‘You’re hallucinating, there are no threats here. Put your gun down Cancer.’
He looked at me with this intense confusion, like I was speaking another language. He was still waving his gun around and it looked like he really was going to shoot someone. If I didn’t do something soon, he’d get shot himself. I could see a couple of the others slowly making their way towards their weapons. Cancer noticed this too though and whirled round, pulling his trigger.
A loud gunshot filled the air and my heart stopped.
The bullet ricocheted from the ground, narrowly missing one of the camp members.
I had never seen him this bad before, he was completely manic and scared. I didn’t know how to stop him. If Rayn was here he’d know exactly what to say or what to do and once again I was useless.
He was firing bullets again; people were ducking for shelter and trying to fumble for their own weapons.
‘Put your gun down Cancer!’ I shouted.
‘No, get in the car. Rayn, get in the fucking car, we gotta go!’
My insides seemed to collapse into a tangled heap and my blood ran cold. It wasn’t just the zombies that he was hallucinating about; he was imagining that Rayn was still alive. What the fuck was I supposed to do? He was going to break down all over again when he realized that his best friend was dead. This was getting exhausting.
‘Rayn’s not here, Cancer,’ I said a little softer this time.
He ignored me and opened the car door, pulling me in. His gaze trailed over to the back seat, he must have been seeing Rayn get in the car as well.
He leaped into the driver’s seat and was about to pull away when we heard the cock of a gun. The old guy had managed to grab onto his weapon and was about to pull the trigger when Cancer beat him to it. Another gunshot rang out and I watched the old guy fall to the ground. For one long, horrifying second I thought he was dead but then he clutched his leg and let out an agonized wail.
Cancer slammed the door shut and tore out of the camp.
‘What the fuck are you doing?’ I stared at Cancer in horror.
‘What d’you wanna be eaten by a bunch of fucking zombies?’
I was getting frustrated and could feel my temper rising. ‘There are no zombies! Stop the car!’
‘Rayn make him shut up I’m trying to drive,’ he growled, his eyes skimmed the rear view mirror and I knew what he was seeing. I resisted the urge to slam my head against the glass in anger and instead a little light bulb seemed to flick on in my mind. It was a horrible, awful thought and I felt like the worst person in the world right then but I saw no other way to stop the god damn car.
‘He agrees that you should stop the car.’ I forced myself to look at the empty back seat. ‘Don’t you Rayn?’
Cancer finally pulled the car to a stop and turned round as well. ‘The fuck are you playing at?’
‘We’re out of danger,’ I said slowly, trying to force my expression to remain neutral. ‘There aren’t any zombies neaby.’
Cancer looked at our surroundings and took a deep breath.
‘We have to go back and help the person you shot.’
‘I didn’t shoot a person,’ he replied, confusion written across his features. ‘I shot a fucking zombie.’
‘Oh my god!’ I cried out, annoyed all over again. ‘For the last time, he wasn’t a zombie! He was a human being!’ I probably should have been doing more to help Cancer get back to sanity but it was hard work looking after a regular drug user who was grieving and angry at the world all the time. I wanted to go back to the safety we had at the camp, to mingle with other humans. I needed to know if the old guy was alright.
‘You’re going crazy. This apocalypse is really getting to you.’
Something inside of me shattered and I slapped Cancer round the face. ‘Snap out of it!’
I didn’t even have time to register what I had done, or the stinging sensation in the palm of my hand. Cancer was blinking at me and, to my relief, looking a little more stable.
‘The fuck was that for? Where are we?’
‘You’re hallucinating big time. Please tell me you’re sane again.’
He pinched himself a few times and realization dawned on him. ‘Fuck. What did I do?’
‘What didn’t you do?’ I retorted, looking behind us to see if any of the camp members had followed us. ‘You shot the old guy in his leg, went on a bit of a rampage and no doubt got us kicked out back onto the road. I don’t think they’ll let us stay after that.’ Almost as an afterthought, I tagged on: ‘Are you feeling normal now?’
I didn’t miss the crushing anguish that shadowed Cancer’s eyes for the briefest second as he looked into the backseat. He was grasping the fact that Rayn wasn’t alive after all and it was hitting him hard all over again. ‘I’m fine. I’ll go back and try not to shoot myself while I apologize to them.’
He steered the car round and drove back the way we had come.