We were given a long and boring explanation of the rules and all that shit, along with a tour type thingy of the place. I didn’t fucking listen, my bad. I was too busy getting all distracted by the guy in charge while he was talking to us. That office was nice, y’know. I’d be willing to bet no one else had any nice shit like that lying around.
And then there was this Anthony guy. He was the one showing us round. The others were occupied with listening to him, but I was watching him. He was walking around like he owned the fucking place, and it seemed like the people going about their own lives just kinda parted in front of him. I imagined no one would even be outside if the guy in charge was out here with us.
No one looked like they wanted to be near Anthony, and if I’m honest, I didn’t really feel like being near him either. He just made me feel… uncomfortable. Maybe it was because it was clear I was just some lucky dumb shit from a trailer park. Maybe it was always going to be obvious I was trailer trash. Even if somehow the world recovered from all this shit, people would still avoid me.
Anyways, these guys made me feel weird. Bad weird. So did this fucking town. There were so many people, we went past at least thirty, and the guy said there were nearly three hundred and twenty people there already. I don’t think I’ve seen that many people in one place since Reno.
But it felt kind of empty. I didn’t feel safe being there at all. It felt like the walls were a lie. They weren’t doing anything to protect us. I glanced over at Joe and Eloise, and they looked happy enough to be there. Alicia was still clinging to my hand like it was a lifeline, and seeing her looking so lost and scared of everything just made me angry, if I’m honest. This little kid had just lost her dad, her last relative, and these people were expecting her to work like some fucking slave?
I was literally about to open my mouth to say something when Anthony turned around and announced that was all there was to show us – time for a blood test, just to be sure. Like they wouldn’t have noticed by now if one of us had been bit.
Aside from the rush of cravings when the needle slid through my skin, the blood test was nothing like what I was expecting. The nurse asked me if I knew of any illnesses I’d had before the world went to shit, or if I might have picked up any others since, took a couple vials of blood and fucked off somewhere with them. After that we were free to go. I gotta admit, I wasn’t totally happy being in this camp, but things could definitely have been worse.
Anthony dropped us off at the place where we could stay and told us to pick a room. Matresses and makeshift cots were crammed together into every available space, so me Joe and the others ended up in one room together. The others all kind of found somewhere to dump their stuff, putting the little they had left in a filing cabinet left for us as a chest of drawers.
“This is pretty neat, don’t you think?” Joe said as he put away his few belongings in the drawer the others had left for him – we were the only ones left in there, they’d wanted to go explore. I sat cross legged on the cot nearest the door, my bag beside me. I had nothing to put away – I’d only really carried weapons and drugs with me. With most of my stuff confiscated or used up weeks ago, all I had left in my bag was a shirt covered in Rayn’s blood.
I sat there watching Joe for a moment before shrugging. “Could be worse, I guess.” There was a silence. Joe paused what he was doing and slid the drawer shut. It clunked back into place quietly, but in that second it felt deafening.
“Cancer, please don’t fuck this up.”
I shot him a glare. “I’m not going to fuck this up. But don’t you fucking push me, Joe,” I could feel my temper rising already. My head felt hot with the irritation that he was instantly jumping to the worst scenario possible – and the fact that he just assumed I was gonna get them kicked out. Was that what he really thought of me? I guess I couldn’t blame him, but that was before. Mind you, neither of us really knew what I’d be like without the drugs to keep me on a level.
“I mean it,” Joe said looking straight at me. I met his gaze, quietly challenging him to tell me exactly what he fucking thought of me. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but when things are starting to go good… Well…” He trailed off, his eyes dropping to the floor as he tried to find the words. “Think about it. Harley’s camp. And then at the hospital. We don’t stay in one place for too long, do we?”
I gritted my teeth, instantly on the defensive. “Screw you, Joe. I didn’t fucking choose to fuck it up, did I?”
“You get paranoid when you don’t need to.”
I didn’t notice I was clenching my fist til I felt my nails digging into my palms. “You’re telling me this place don’t feel wrong, then?”
Joe shrugged, “it’s good to be on your guard, but I think we’re safe here. We don’t need to constantly run and hide anymore. It feels nice to just sit for a moment, isn’t it?”
I was quiet, forcing myself to lean back on the wall and hug my knees to my chest, just so I wouldn’t get up and kick the shit out of him for doubting me. “Don’t feel right to me,” I muttered. Joe shook his head and sighed. He’d had enough of me by then – he just fucked off and left me there with my thoughts. And honestly, the longer I thought about it, the quicker I wanted to get out of there. With or without the others.