Word Count: 1223
The world where Rayn was still alive and the world where Rayn was dead were flickering and blurring at the edges. What was I doing? Going back to the camp was a stupid idea. My guts were telling me to stop and just let Joe go back on his own. It wasn’t fair to make him clean up my mess, but I had the sinking feeling that getting back there would flip the switch and send me back inside my own head again.
And if it didn’t flip the switch, there was no guarantee I wouldn’t just beat the crap out of him for treating me like shit anyway.
When we got back to the camp, I opened the door to get out, only for Joe to tell me off like a little kid and that I should stay in the car. I was still in the right reality as far as I could tell. The back seat was empty and Joe was still insisting I’d shot the old guy that hit me instead of a zombie. I didn’t know how long it was gonna last, though.
He took the keys from me, locking the doors, but he forgot once more that cars unlock from the inside. I watched through the window as he walked over to them slowly. While he was paying attention to them instead of me, I got out of the car and stood next to it, just in case. I wasn’t about to trap myself in a massive tin can if they decided the best thing to do was try and kill me.
There were a couple of the black guys and the old guy’s wife helping treat his leg where I’d shot him. Apparently my aim goes way off when I’m out of it like that. He should be fucking grateful. They looked up, angry faces all round. Even Harley didn’t look happy.
“Get out of here,” one of them said. Joe held up his hands and stopped.
“Wait, I’m unarmed.”
“You wouldn’t hurt a fly, son,” the old man’s wife said, “it’s your little friend over there we’re worried about,” she nodded over at me. I bristled. Little? Who the fuck was she calling little? “I don’t care what’s wrong with him, you just keep him away from us.”
“That old cunt over there is what’s wrong,” I shouted, ignoring the old woman that told me off before for saying ‘damn’ as she turned around, shocked. “He’s worse than any of the fuckers we’ve run into before. At least those guys are fucking honest.”
Joe turned around, not looking happy with me being out of the car. “You’re really not helping the situation, Cancer!”
“I kept my mouth shut. I did my best not to piss anyone off, but that guy still wanted to make my life miserable while we were here. I didn’t say anything for your sake, Joe, but you can fuck off if you think I’m staying here.”
Joe stalked over towards me, looking pretty angry for a little ginger nerd. “You shot the guy in the leg, I think you need to apologize.” I gritted my teeth. I know I said I was gonna try and apologize before, but now I was here… well you know how good I am at saying sorry.
“Yeah, and he beat me up and kicked me out while I was dope sick. I think we’re fucking even,” I snarled. A few of them looked at me like I was lying through my teeth, or like I’d gone insane. Maybe I had. I probably had. It didn’t matter though, because for once I was telling the truth.
“So what, you don’t wanna stay here anymore?” Joe asked stupidly. For a clever kid, he was kinda dumb sometimes.
“No, I don’t. You fucking can. You can do what you like. I looked after you like I promised I would, and now you have somewhere you can stay. So fucking stay here.”
“You’re not stable enough to be on your own,” Joe said, ignoring me.
“What does it matter? I’ve already lost everything,” I shouted, getting more and more frustrated with him.
Joe looked back at the camp. All of their eyes were on us. I shouldn’t have cared really, but for some reason it made me feel uneasy. I wanted to escape from them and the longer Joe argued with me over it, the more I wanted to hide inside my own head. I tried not to let those goddamn hallucinations back in, but they were just there tapping me on the shoulder, promising me a happier alternative to what was going on around me. His eyes flicked back to me as he made his decision.
“I’m not gonna leave you on your own,” he told me, walking over to where Harley was stood watching us. I wasn’t really listening to what was being said – I didn’t need to listen to know that he was saying his goodbyes.
“Just stay here, Joe.” Suddenly I was just feeling tired. I was exhausted, really, and it was beginning to catch up with me. I wanted to curl up under a rock and wait out the apocalypse on my own. Well, that’s a lie, I wanted to wait it out with Rayn, but…
Joe was ignoring me again, he was talking to Harley. “Thank you again for the hospitality. Sorry about… the shooting.”
“It wasn’t your fault, thanks again for saving my life,” he shook Joe’s hand. “Good luck out there.”
“What are you doing Joe?” I groaned. “Why can’t you just leave me alone and stay with the normal people?” I think they’re the kind of people that pass for ‘normal’ anyway. Mostly. We’ll just ignore the fact they weren’t all white, and probably weren’t all straight.
“Because let’s face it, you’re not going to last two seconds out there right now, not in the state you’re in,” he told me as he finished saying his goodbyes to them. He went to check he had his weapons before remembering he’d left them in the car, and climbed into the passenger seat, pulling them out of the glove compartment. I didn’t understand. Why didn’t he just stay here when that was clearly what he wanted to do?
“What if I don’t want to last two seconds? Did you not think about that Joe? Get out of the car,” I growled, trying to pull him out. He slammed his door on me and rolled down the window.
“No. Get in.”
I climbed into the driver’s seat, kneeling on it as I tried to pull him across and out that way instead. Given that he’d put his seatbelt on while I’d been walking around the other side of the car, it wasn’t going so well. I grappled with him to release it, but he wasn’t having any of it.
“You’re not gonna get rid of me, so you might as well drive ‘cause you’re causing a scene.”
I sat there for a moment, glancing up at the camp all staring at us still. It made my skin crawl. He handed me the keys and I snatched them from him, shoving them in the ignition.
“I don’t get it,” I muttered as I drove us out of there, “why d’you pick me over them?”