Word Count: 1301
What the fuck were they thinking? Did Joe not ask if anyone was bitten? Did it not cross his fucking mind at all? The thought of Joe sent a stab of grief and guilt through me. I pushed it away, trying to focus on the fact that this Tammy woman was lying on the floor, full of fever and halfway dead.
“Tammy, why didn’t you tell us?” Eloise asked, looking pretty upset. “Especially when there’s a six year old child with us!” I had my gun out, more than ready to shoot the bitch while she wasn’t a threat to any of us. I was just tired and angry and not in the mood for this shit. Eloise put a hand out, motioning for me to hold fire.
“I was scared,” Tammy whimpered, her lip wobbling. “I’m sorry.” Eloise knelt down next to her, taking a hold of her hand, trying to soothe her. It took about ten minutes for the fever to finish her off. When she went still and quiet, I asked probably the most insensitive question ever.
“Can I shoot her yet?”
Eloise looked up at me, not happy. I couldn’t tell whether it was unhappy at my blunt question or unhappy that Tammy had just died. I didn’t even care. She nodded after a minute, and I wasted no time in putting a bullet in her head.
I pushed past the others and left them to clean up the mess in the restroom. That kratom tea stuff that Eloise found me was really helping. I mean, it left me craving worse than ever, but it took the edge off the sickness. I didn’t feel good, and it was hardly a replacement like methadone was, but it was better than nothing. So, after that drama, I fixed myself another cup of it. I had no idea how strong it was gonna be, but I figured the stronger the better.
I could feel a pair of eyes on me as I stirred the uninviting brown sludge into the water and looked around. The little kid was sat with her dad on one of the sofas, staring at me. When I met her gaze, she huddled up against her dad, like she wanted to put as much distance between me and her as possible.
“What, is she scared of me or something?” I asked, grimacing at the bitterness of the tea.
“Can you blame her?” the kid’s dad asked me, pulling her closer like he thought I was going to snatch her up and throw her out in the corridor or something. I shrugged and leant back on the counter, needing the support behind me. The kid was still staring at me from behind her dad’s arm. I didn’t like it.
“You never taught her that staring is rude, then,” I nodded at the kid’s relentless staring, “even my parents managed to teach me that.”
“Well after the scene you just caused you can’t blame her for staring,” her dad said.
I rolled my eyes. “Staring’s rude,” I said to the kid, “cut that shit out.”
“Daddy,” the kid gasped, “he said a naughty word.” Oh, for fuck’s sake. I scowled.
“Could you watch your language, please? She’s six years old.” Most people would probably have apologized, but… well, I’m not most people am I?
“I didn’t hear you having a go at that other guy for swearing before,” I pointed out instead, willing myself to not lose my temper.
“Well you two were fighting like animals; I didn’t want to get in the middle of that,” he said. Oh god, he sounded just like the kinda guy that would’ve happily reported me to the police just for breathing the same air as him before all this shit. I wouldn’t have pissed on him if he was on fire. I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual.
“Are you calling me an animal?” I snapped, “you might wanna think about what you say before I stab you in the fucking face,” I threatened with a growl.
Eloise made her way over, noticing the situation was probably going to get out of control pretty wuickly if no one stepped in. “Easy, you two,” she said. Turning to me, she added on in this calmer, quieter voice that was put on just for my benefit, “Please, she’s six years old. The world is already bad enough for her she doesn’t need it to get worse.”
I wanted to hit her for being in the way. I wanted to rage at everything, I wanted to destroy everything these people had just because I didn’t have it too.
I was too exhausted to act on any of the things I saw in my head. I didn’t have the will power anymore.
“Daddy,” the kid’s voice broke through the tired, angry fog in my head, “is Tammy still sick?”
“Tammy’s gone, kiddo,” I answered before her dad could. I couldn’t punch anyone, but I could still piss him off.
“Heaven,” I said. I wasn’t especially religious, but who knows? And besides, it’s a better image for kids to have when they’re that sort of age. Or in Rayn’s case, for his whole life. We might’ve only been a year apart in age physically, but I’d always learnt things before he did. He’d had a pet hamster that’d died when he was five and even though I was only six, I already understood it wasn’t coming back. He kept prodding it and telling it to wake up and I’d had to explain it to him. Someone had already explained to me about how heaven was a place people were supposed to go when they died. I figured animals could go there too. So that was when Rayn learnt about heaven and death, and it stuck with him his whole life. He’d refuse to listen to any other theories about death, because that had to be where his mom was, and he’d always wanted to meet her, and apologize for being the reason she died.
The kid’s face just kind of crumpled and she looked like she was about to cry. “She was very sick,” I said, trying to find a way to say it that wouldn’t result in tears. “There wasn’t anything we could do to make her better.” There were the tears. Fuck’s sake. I heaved a sigh. The crying hurt my brain. I flopped down on the sofa where they were sat so the kid was between me and her dad.
Without bothering to ask, I put an arm around the kid, because frankly, I didn’t give a shit whether he minded or not. I just wanted her to shut the fuck up.
“It’s okay, though, she’ll be happy there, and everyone she loves will be there with her. She’ll miss you, I bet, but she’ll still be alright there.”
“She will?” the kid sniffed.
“Yep. She’ll miss all you guys, but she’ll miss you the most. But the important thing is that even though she’ll miss you and you’ll have to wait a long time to see her again, she’s gonna be happy. She’ll never hurt again, or be scared.” And with that, the tears were done. She leant her head on me and I let a long breath out, relieved that she was easier to calm down than Rayn was. I glanced over at the beds to see Rayn sat there smiling, and felt my lips twitch. I think I was trying to smile too, but my face wouldn’t cooperate. I just gave the kid a small squeeze and slumped down into the sofa, ignoring everything else around me. I was too tired to give a shit anymore; all I wanted to do now was sleep.