Word Count: 1192
We cleared out a whole floor of the hospital – it wasn’t too big, really, it was just a little local hospital – and barricaded off every entrance and exit from that floor. I guess if we were staying much longer we’d clear out the rest at some point. Even if it was a hospital, we had a place to stay for a while, with showers and beds. Well. I didn’t want a fucking bed, I just dragged a mattress off a bed and dragged it into one of the staff rooms. My time here was gonna be bad enough without waking up every morning, certain I was there to be poked and prodded by a nurse.
The ache that was starting to set in was eased by the shower. Joe’s mood was lifted, at least for a while, as he whooped with joy at the sensation of hot water hitting his skin. I was just glad to have something to distract me from my own mind.
Rayn was in the shower cubicle next to mine, giggling and bouncing around. I think he was even happier to shower than Joe was. I don’t think I’d ever seen two people get so excited over a shower.
“This is so fucking good,” Rayn grinned at me upside down under the partition between us. I laughed, lathering up a flannel with a bar of soap I’d found in a store cupboard. He was in a ridiculous mood, trying to distract me from that nagging in the back of my head. He knew it was there; he knew me too well. Rayn had seen what felt like every high and low I’d ever had and he knew the signals before I did. Maybe that was why he’d suggested hiding out somewhere for a while. Maybe he’d realized I was running out of smack and knew we’d both be out of it too much to drive or fight.
I leant my head on the tiles, telling my brain to shut up. It was getting noisy in there as the cravings got stronger and the itch settled in. I just wanted to get high and forget that I was going to run out.
Eventually, the novelty of having a shower wore off and Joe left me and Rayn where we were, reminding us to hurry up because there was only so long the generator would last and we couldn’t waste that now, could we?
I turned off the shower once he was gone, sliding down the wall until I was sat with my knees up against my chest.
“Luca?” Rayn’s innocent, worried little voice said from the other side of the door. “Can I come in?” he poked his head through the gap and looked at me. I saw him, but I didn’t move, or say anything. I wasn’t too dope sick just yet, but I was panicking. How the fuck was I supposed to survive getting clean like this? I groaned into my knees, vaguely wondering if the withdrawals could kill me. Maybe they would, it’d save me from the fucking mess the world is in now. Joe would have Rayn to look after him, so it’s not like it’d matter. Rayn would be okay. “Luca?” He started forcing himself through the gap, wriggling around and scraping his belly on the door.
“What’re you doing?” I mumbled, watching him. He wrapped his arms and legs around me, not caring that his boxers were getting wet where he was sat on the floor with me.
“Don’t be sad. We’ll get through it, we always get through everything, you and me,” he smiled and squeezed me a little. I tried to smile back.
“I’m not sad. I’m okay, really.”
“This doesn’t look okay to me.”
“I just wanna get high, but I know that’ll be my last ever hit. I don’t wanna waste it.”
He leaned back and looked at me, his head cocked to one side. His eyes were searching my face, and he shook his head. “That’s a lie, isn’t it, Luca?” he tutted. I dropped my gaze to the floor between my feet, feeling his fingers twisting in my hair.
I let out an exhausted sigh, “I’m scared, okay? I’ve never been without. Not for like, eight years. The worst I’ve done is a day and a half. This is gonna kill me.”
“It won’t. We’ll do it together, okay?” he forced himself to smile for me. He was just as scared as I was. He’d done this before. One day he came back to our squat in Las Vegas, kicked everything in sight, shouting about how he was gonna go cold turkey and get clean, that he’d had enough. He made it four days before he caved. I guess it didn’t help that I was still doing it under the same roof as him, but he said it was bad anyway. He’d hurt constantly, didn’t eat or sleep, and sat there popping codeine pills to dull the ache in his bones. There was shaking and vomiting and rushed trips to the toilet, nightmares, anxiety, constant fucking sneezing. I’d done my best to look after him, but he just spent all his time crying and complaining. “C’mon, let’s get you dried off and dressed, and we can go to bed, yeah?”
“Has Joe fucked off again?” I asked as he helped me get up. He shrugged, handing me a towel.
“I don’t know. Probably. Want me to go find him?”
“Don’t worry about it. If he wants to go ahead and get himself killed wandering around on his own, he can be my fucking guest,” I grumbled, scratching at least one kind of itch with the rough towel. By the time I was done, my skin was red. I looked down at myself, disgusted by what I saw. All I could see was a skeleton with skin on it – skin covered in fucking scars and needle marks and tattoos I didn’t even remember getting anymore.
We found some clothes in one of the wards, in one of those little bedside cabinets. I say ‘we’, I mean Rayn got them while I stood in the corridor trying not to let the paranoia nagging in the back of my mind win.
We went to our mattresses in the staff room and settled down opposite each other. I wanted to go to bed, but I couldn’t think of anything other than getting high. I had to do it. Rayn watched me as I cooked up my hit, chewing his lip. If he shot up tonight with me it’d be his last hit too and then it would all be gone.
Deep breath. Find a vein. React. Push in. Deep breath. Sink into that familiar warmth.
It was fucking routine. Me and Rayn practically made every move at the same time. I was going to miss this so much. It was literally beyond me how I was gonna go without. My thoughts slipped away like sand through fingers until I was floating on this intense emptiness. My apathy outweighed my anxiety and for a few hours, I just didn’t give a shit.