Word Count: 864
See, because I knew Rayn was a hallucination by now – though I usually pretended he wasn’t for the sake of my own sanity – having convinced myself that Joe was dead, it seemed like the ginger teenager stood in front of me now was in the same reality as Rayn. Which made him, well, not fucking real.
Joe was saying something to the soldier guy, something about how it was too close and that they needed to stock up on ammo. When he’d caught his breath, he glanced over at me. I was stood at the back of the room, as far as I could get away from them, pressed up against the wall, wishing it’d swallow me up and hide me from the tricks my own mind was playing on me.
“Is he still hallucinating?” he asked Eloise.
She looked at me, not looking too sure about something. “Well, we went out to get him some codeine to take the edge off the pain and he seemed to think he saw something that’s convinced him you’re dead.”
“It’s really me, Cancer,” Joe turned to me, “you’re not imagining it this time.”
I shook my head. That’s basically what Rayn had said. I remembered it pretty fucking clearly – I’d asked if I was in the right reality and he said I was. “I don’t believe you. It was hard enough having to find out that Rayn wasn’t real, I’m not gonna do that to myself again.” It’d hurt bad enough once. There was no way I was going to let myself think he was really alive when I’d seen him dead with my own eyes.
“It’s nice to know you have so much faith in my survival skills,” Joe said with what sounded like an attempt at a laugh.
“I saw a zombie that looked just like you,” I said shakily, “you’re dead.” It wasn’t just my voice that was shaking, either. I was fucking trembling from head to toe, scared of just how little control I actually had over my own mind. What did that say about me that I was able to have a full conversation with someone that wasn’t there, eh?
“I didn’t die,” Joe insisted, “David and I made it out.” I didn’t even know who he was talking about for a minute. David? Who the fuck was David? I glanced up and saw the soldier I’d called a nigger and realized that must’ve been who he meant.
“It’s true, y’know,” he said, trying to back Joe up. Oh god. Why was I imagining him too? I was beginning to get the feeling that I was being haunted now. It was slowly growing and I felt like my own mind was trying to punish me. I shook my head, slowly edging my way around the room until I found the door to the restroom. I backed into it, spinning around to throw myself into the first stall.
Locking the door behind me, I sat down on the floor, leaning back on one wall and staring at the other. A long, rattling breath broke the temporary silence. If I was in here, no one else could get in, not even the hallucinations. I’d be safe in here.
“Cancer, you’re not hallucinating, I promise,” Joe’s voice from the other side of the stall door made me jump out of my fucking skin. My heart raced so fast it was tripping over itself, and I broke out into a panicked sweat. Fuck. They were definitely haunting me. How much of this could a person as fucked up as me survive? I’m sure a normal person would’ve had a way to go before they snapped, but I felt like I was on the edge already, standing right where anyone could push me off. I could push myself off, if I looked down often enough.
“I’m sorry!” I half shouted at him, willing him to stay on the other side of the stall door. The last thing I needed was to be made claustrophobic too. “I’m sorry you died. I’m sorry it’s my fault!” My chest was tightening. “I know I don’t deserve to have survived when you didn’t, I know that, but please just stop,” I could feel tears trying to escape and I was trying to make myself as small as I possibly could, like somehow they’d stop seeing me and go away. “Leave me alone.”
“Don’t talk like that,” Joe sighed, “listen, I’m sorry I shouted at you earlier. What I said about Rayn… that was out of order.” Why was he apologizing? I didn’t get it. I couldn’t think of anything to say to him. Too much of my brain was taken up with the panic attack that was slowly taking hold of me, and the rest was focusing on whispering ‘it’s not real’ to myself. “I don’t know how I can convince you that I’m not a hallucination.” I was trying to catch my breath long enough to reply with something, anything – even another apology – but by the time I’d stopped freaking out so fucking much, when I unlocked the door, there was no one there.