Word Count: 528
I’d love to tell you that having someone there for me again got me on the straight and narrow and helped me get my shit together.
Unfortunately, it only helped for a few hours. Eloise introduced me properly, warning me that I’d be on my own if I couldn’t hold back any bigoted comments. After having ‘bigoted’ explained to me, I joined the group and was bribed into eating something. If I kept it down for an hour, Eloise would go and get me some codeine or some kratom if she could find it. Apparently kratom is this tea stuff that helps ease the withdrawals. I’d never heard of it before, but I was willing to try anything.
“Oh god,” I couldn’t breathe. Eloise wasn’t sure what was wrong. I think she just thought I was tripping because I was out of the room I’d been stuck in for three days for the first time and there were zombies wandering around. It wasn’t that at all. She didn’t see it, but I had. “Joe. No. Not Joe.”
One of the zombies was Joe.
Up until just a handful of hours before, I might have been in a bad way, but I was somehow keeping it together. I was living in two different realities, sure, but I hadn’t broken down, and certainly not in front of anyone, especially a stranger.
But now Joe was dead too. That was my fault as well. I’d pissed him off so bad he’d left the safety of the staff room and now he was gone.
“Oh, fuck,” I shook violently, leaning back on a wall just to hold myself up. “No,” I smacked the wall with the palms of my hands, to upset to do anything else. Eloise saw the scream building up before I let it out. Her hand slapped across my mouth, just in time. The wordless, hopeless wail was muffled under her fingers clamped over my face. It echoed a little anyway and she tensed, ready for me to have drawn them all in.
But I didn’t care. Both Rayn and Joe were gone, and it was my fault on both counts.
Why the fuck was I alive still? I didn’t deserve to live, even like this. My mouth had disconnected from my brain and that thing that usually stops you saying stuff you don’t want to say was gone. It was a verbal free-for-all. I don’t remember much of it, but I was very vocal about how upset I was, for once.
What I do remember is Eloise dragging me past the exit they had broken on their way in and fixing it. I remember stumbling blindly along behind her like a lost little lamb. I remember being told to be quiet. I remember making our way back to the staff room and being handed a chipped mug of tea.
“It’ll make you feel better,” Eloise had promised. I doubted that, considering every time I ate or drank anything I was instantly ill. How could I feel better now anyway? It felt like a redundant point when the only people I’d ever given a shit about were both dead.