I didn’t know what to say. Once I saw Cancer had returned it felt like all the anger and all the betrayal left my body and it was replaced with relief. Cancer and I were unlikely allies but I was beginning to develop a friendship with him, he had saved my life countless times and to have him disappear without a trace would have done a lot of damage. If everyone in my life were to die or leave I don’t think I could continue. I’d give in to death.
Eloise, Cancer and I were in one car and David, Carol, Richard and Alicia were in the other. Eloise was the only one that could stand being around Cancer at the minute, apart from myself, which was good. We couldn’t be total outcasts.
‘Should we think about stopping off for some petrol soon?’ I saw Cancer glance at me out of the corner of my eye, puzzled, just for a second before realizing that I meant gas. It was unusual, having to remember the American lingo.
‘Next place we see,’ Eloise nodded.
The journey passed uneventfully. We saw a handful of zombies scattered about the highway, with some upturned cars but it was surprisingly quiet. Maybe the apocalypse hadn’t hit this part so bad? I found myself flinching internally at my choice of words. Apocalypse had such negative connotations, it was when things were beyond fixing, and it was when the world had reached the end. But wasn’t that what was happening right now? It’s not like the army could swoop in and clean this up. The human population had suffered profusely and the zombie to human ratio had to be something drastic.
I shook my head, not wanting to think about it much longer. As I did so, I noticed a grey squat building just ahead with a roof hanging overhead some stands.
‘I see a petrol station.’
Cancer began to get all his weapons ready and Eloise drove us through the entrance. I turned round in my seat to signal to David, who was driving the car behind, to pull in. He was already ahead of me though.
As soon as the car stopped, Cancer got to work with the empty cans we had stored in the boot. I didn’t want to emerge from the car, but I knew that I should. Checking my gun was fully loaded, I got out and began scanning our surroundings, making sure we were alone. The air was so still and quiet you could have heard a pin drop. I don’t think anybody dared to breathe.
‘One of us should stay with the car in case we need to make a quick getaway,’ I whispered. Eloise gripped the steering wheel.
I spotted Richard pulling Alicia closer to him in the car and Carol looking absolutely terrified. They had no intention whatsoever of getting out. David began to fill the cans up immediately. I saw Cancer glance over at the other car and I wondered if he would tell the others to get their asses into gear, but he continued silently.
The place was absolutely desolate and I was honestly surprised there was any petrol left at all. There wasn’t a house for miles, not that I could see. It was just a long stretch of road with fields that loomed off into the distance either side. I saw some shambling figures in the distance but I figured we were far away enough that we’d be long gone by the time they reached the station. The sprinters were different though and that was what I was mainly looking out for. I looked back over at the building itself and its black windows. They had been painted black, recently maybe, but as long as the door stayed shut I didn’t care to analyse it.
As I swivelled to look in the opposite direction, something made me stop dead.
It was coming this way, and it was driving fast. I didn’t say anything straight away; I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t going bat shit crazy. Cancer saw it too though and reached for his gun. I whistled over to David and nodded in the direction of the car. His face paled and he hurried filling the cans and the cars up.
‘Are they coming this way?’ I asked.
‘I fucking hope not,’ Cancer grumbled, shoving cans in the boot of the car.
I seemed to get into action then, pulling my gun up and training it on the vehicle approaching. ‘Hurry the fuck up,’ I hissed to Cancer and David.
Eloise started the engine, but it wasn’t going to be enough, I knew it then. The car, a large black four-by-four sped up. It would reach us any second now.
We all braced ourselves then and I waited for a gunshot to ring out. Instead, the car pulled in just beside ours. The door opened and someone got out, a man. He was tall and slim, wore a black bandana around his head and had small gold hoops through both of his ears. When he spoke, it was gruff and deep.
Not the kind of thing we were expecting to hear and so naturally it made us all that more wary.
Cancer nodded, with his gun still trained on him. The guy held up both of his hands and laughed.
‘Whoa, we mean you guys no harm. We’re just here to fill up,’ he patted the bonnet of his car. It was a loud sound, ringing out in the tense atmosphere and it made me jump slightly. Someone else got out of the car, another man. He looked a little like the other guy, shorted and fatter, but there were some definite similarities. I figured they were brothers.
The guy with the bandana took a step towards us and Cancer pointed his gun at the guy’s head. ‘That’s close enough.’
Something passed through bandana guy’s eyes, just for a second, but it was enough to know that they were bad news.
‘I see you folks are filling up too,’ his tone was a little shorter, a little more impatient.
Cancer didn’t reply.
‘Well see now that’s gonna be a problem isn’t it?’ he laughed again. ‘Can’t have you taking all the supplies. How’s a man supposed to survive?’