Word Count: 1,328
The words were pouring out my mouth, all the anger and frustration I felt towards Cancer and how useless he was being right now. He lay on his bed rather pathetically, shivering all over, his eyes darting manically to the spare mattress. I could tell from the expression on his face that Rayn wasn’t “there” right now.
‘You need to hear it, clear your head otherwise we’re both gonna die.’ It was true; I couldn’t keep going out on my own like I had done earlier.
‘I can’t do this on my own, Joe!’ he shouted.
‘You think I can?’ I asked, incredulous. This wasn’t the person I wanted to be; I’d give my arm for things to be the way they used to. ‘I need you living in this world. It’s not gonna be easy but you have to do it.’
He let out a frustrated groan, sinking his head into his hands and tugging on his hair. ‘No, I mean the withdrawals. I can’t do it. I need a hit.’
‘You don’t. You can manage without one, start breaking the habit.’ It seemed very simple to me: just stop doing it. I knew it was deeper than that though and it had become a psychological problem as well as a physical problem. Cancer felt like he had to rely on these drugs, that they’d get him through the day. It was all in his mind set and maybe if he could break that, he’d get on a little better.
‘I don’t think you understand, Joe. I feel like shit now but by the end of the day I’ll be climbing the fucking walls to try and find something to make me feel better. I need Rayn for this.’
I needed Rayn for this too. Rayn knew Cancer a lot better than I did and he’d know how to help him. The guy wasn’t really a stranger to me but I still didn’t know him.
‘I’ll help you; you don’t have to go through it alone. I’m not sure how much use I’ll be, but I’ll help.’
Cancer lifted his head and for a second looked like he wanted to break down. His eye twitched and his mouth crumpled slightly. ‘You could help by looking for some morphine.’
I sat back down on the mattress. ‘You don’t need the morphine.’ I was pretty sure that giving morphine to a drug addict would only make the situation a million times worse. If he wanted to break the habit he needed to start right now. Prolonging it would only make him think that he couldn’t do it.
‘It’s a painkiller. I’m in pain.’
‘And I wasn’t born yesterday. It’s not gonna do you any favours. It’s for your own good.’ I was stubborn. There wasn’t going to be anymore pissing around with drugs and alcohol and bowling. We needed to focus on survival and making it out of this hellhole alive.
Cancer started looking round the room, probably for his hallucinated friend. He obviously couldn’t find him as he curled up on his side in defeat, looking miserable and sick. I picked up the book I had been reading and continued on with it. Although I was trying to read what the words were, I was too busy keeping an eye on Cancer, giving him a couple of sidelong glances to make sure he wasn’t injecting himself with crap when I wasn’t looking. He stumbled off a couple of times and I heard the sound of retching coming from the bathroom. My nose scrunched up in disgust and I prayed the smell wouldn’t reach the room I was in.
‘Do you want some water?’ I asked after the third time.
‘I want the air to stop touching my skin, that’s what I want. Or a hit.’
‘Here.’ I handed him a bottle of water anyway.
He mumbled thanks and took a small sip. He really did look like shit; his face was pale and shadows were beginning to form underneath his eyes.
Some time passed in silence. I carried on reading and Cancer lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. Every now and then he’d turn his head in the direction of the other mattress and each time his expression would become crestfallen and each time I’d feel a stab of pity for him.
He rolled over onto his stomach and looked up at me. ‘What’s it like being normal?’
‘Nobody’s normal,’ I told him. I sure as hell didn’t feel normal. ‘Do you mean what’s it like not being addicted to drugs?’
‘Same thing really.’
I shrugged my shoulders. ‘I’ve never really known any different. I can’t imagine it’s too easy quitting them though.’
‘It’s not,’ he groaned. He covered his mouth with his hand suddenly. ‘I think I’m gonna be sick again.’
I pulled a face. ‘You know where the toilet is.’
He stumbled off his mattress and staggered over to the bathroom. I really needed some ear plugs or something if all I was going to hear was him vomiting his guts down the toilet. I wondered if he even had anything left to chuck up.
When he came back he was agitated. ‘Fuck this shit. There must be something more than codeine here.’ He started off in the direction of the door. I stood up suddenly.
‘I’ll go look for you.’ I didn’t want to give Cancer free reign of the hospital when it might be loaded with drugs he could use. I wasn’t sure if anyone had raided the hospital; it didn’t look much ransacked to me.
‘I’m fine, I’ll go look,’ he narrowed his eyes. He obviously knew I wouldn’t bring anything back for him. ‘Sitting around doing nothing is doing my head in anyway.’
‘Well you’re not going alone.’ I wasn’t sure how to stop him, given the past encounters we’d had when I had tried to do that. It had nearly always ended up with him punching me in the face or aiming a gun at my head. He didn’t look like he was in the right state to be fighting but he was kind of temperamental. Add that to the fact he was going cold turkey from the drugs and it made him thoroughly unpredictable.
‘Fine.’ He stalked off out through the doors. I grabbed my weapons and followed. This was the second time Cancer had gone out completely unarmed. It was a good job I was thinking straight. The same couldn’t be said for Cancer’s walking though; he was swaying all over the place. If we got ambushed by a massive horde, he’d be dead within minutes.
‘You don’t really look like you’re in the right state to be fighting,’ I whispered.
He was far from it but there wasn’t a great deal I could do. The hallways were dark and trashed. Papers smeared with blood littered the floor and someone had scrawled ‘HELP’ on the walls. Not that it’d do them much good, who’d see it?
‘You don’t look great; you should head back and leave it to me.’
‘I’m okay, I just need a minute.’ He leant against the wall, grimacing.
‘You’ll only slow us down,’ I said, a little more forceful this time.
He sagged against the wall and ended up collapsing on the floor. Great.
‘That’s it you’re heading back.’ I slid my arm underneath his and hoisted him up, helping him to stand. His legs were weak and he ended up nearly falling several more times before he got his muscles to work.
‘Please, Joe. I need something. Anything.’
‘I’ll look for you.’
By the time we got back to the room, I was out of breath and Cancer was shivering and hallucinating. He fell onto the mattress and I pulled the blanket over him. He probably wasn’t even aware I was there.
‘Get some rest.’
He shut his eyes.
I checked my gun was fully loaded before setting out again.