I wasn't sure why I was awake. I'd been dreaming about Rayn again, but that wasn't it. Those dreams were normal.
I rolled over and glanced at Lou. She looked like she was sleeping peacefully enough. I huffed irritably and sat up, fumbling for a crutch. On my way to the toilet, I hobbled into the kids' room as quietly as I could. A mess of blonde hair was all I could see of her. She'd pulled the comforter up over her face and curled up into a tiny ball. Hooking my finger under the edge of the comforter, I gently tugged it away from her face so she could breathe properly and did my best not to trip over all the crap they'd left all over the floor on my way out.
It wasn't til I was on my way back to bed that I realised why I'd woken up. I could hear engines running. It was such a fucking weird sound now that it was enough to wake me up.
I got my other crutch and let myself out of the house.
Stood in the shadows of an alleyway near the gates, I could see the vans idling. A couple of guys got out and went into Adam's house; the others moved on through the streets. I started off after them.
I didn't get very far.
Joe's voice stopped me: "Cancer?"
I stayed still, hoping I wouldn't be noticed if I was quiet. It wasn't like I could run off. I could barely walk with these fucking stupid crutches.
He shone a flashlight in my face, making me scrunch up my face irritably. I squinted at him. I couldn't really see him properly until he dropped the beam of light out of my eyes.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"I fancied a walk," I growled, hoping it didn't sound too sarcastic.
"I'm not an idiot," he replied, his voice clipped with growing anger.
"Well, that's news to me," I muttered, making an effort to move on and avoid a fight. I wasn't really in the mood, for once. Not with Joe, anyway.
"Stay away, Cancer, or there'll be trouble," he threatened. There was this really unfamiliar angry tone to his voice that I'd only heard maybe once or twice. I tried to hold back a laugh. Really? This boy was threatening me? Most people in this town avoided looking at me in case I flipped out. But here he was, all small and ginger, growling like a chihuahua at me. "I'm being serious," he told me. I looked at him and did my best to hide the grin on my face.
"Stay away from what, exactly? You know how fucking suspicious all this secretive middle of the night shit looks, right? How long d'you think it'll be before someone else wants to know the truth? How long before people start a fucking riot to know?" Everyone here would remember how shit being lied to by the authority was in spite of all the zombies. Everyone here had been through enough shit with the government before the apocalypse decided it was time to say hi.
"It's necessary," he said. "Go home." He said, looking like he expected me to just turn around and leave. Had he forgotten who I was?
"I dunno who the fuck you think you are, Joe, but being one of Adam's little soldiers doesn't make you special," I sneered, a little more bitterly than I'd meant to. It wasn't exactly jealousy, but... I don't fucking know. Maybe it was. Maybe it was just that the instant hatred for this place I'd had when we got here had never quite worn off.
Joe's hand slid down to his hip and came back up with a gun, gripped so tightly his knuckles were turning white. We said nothing. I had no way of defending myself against him. I didn't have a gun I could point back at him, or a knife I could bury in his stupid scrawny little neck. I just stared coldly at him, waiting for him to decide whether he really wanted to kill me or not.
His hand shook a little. Was he still a scared little boy? Or had I rubbed off on him more than I thought?
"This is the last time I am going to say this to you. Go home. Don’t come around here again, Cancer, understood?"
I put my hand over the end of his gun and forced it down to the floor. "I'm not going to be the only one that wants to know why you're keeping secrets, Joe. Think about that."