I swear, right in that moment, I wanted to pull the trigger and wipe that smug look off Cancer’s face.
He lowered the end of my gun to the ground and said seriously ‘I'm not going to be the only one that wants to know why you're keeping secrets, Joe. Think about that.’ He turned and started to hobble off. He couldn’t get away very fast because of his crutches and I brought the gun back up, aimed it at his head. I could pull the trigger right now and he wouldn’t even know. He wasn’t taking me seriously; he thought I was still the scared little boy he saved from the hotel all those months ago. I wasn’t. I had changed.
My finger hovered over the trigger before realization set in. I wasn’t a murderer. I certainly wasn’t going to kill Cancer. He was a fucking asshole at the best of times, but the amount of times that he had saved my life hadn’t been forgotten. I heaved one long sigh and headed back to my building, recounting the events from hours before.
I had decided to accept Adam’s offer in the end. Robby hadn’t been too pleased about it but she understood that it was necessary. Riverton needed as much protection as it could have and if by doing my part meant joining the ranks so be it.
I knocked on Adam’s door and waited for him to call me in.
‘Joe,’ he smiled. ‘Have a seat.’
‘What can I do for you?’
‘I decided to accept.’
He smiled wider. ‘I knew you would. You’re doing the right thing.’
‘There are several things I need to debrief you on, but -’ he glanced at his watch. ‘We’re on a bit of a tight schedule so I’m going to have to just give you the quick version for now.’ He beckoned for me to follow him.
‘The group is going on a hunt, of sorts, further into the city.’ We walked down the narrow road towards one of the outbuildings that I had always been curious about, but never enough to ask, what it contained. People smiled as we walked by and I wondered how many people were trying to get in Adam’s good books. ‘We’ll get you kitted out in the proper gear. You’ll be joining a few others; we try to keep the group as small as we can.’ To avoid more deaths, I presumed.
I spotted a couple of guys standing guard by the entrance as we approached the building. One of them opened the doors for us and I saw what it was they were protecting.
Ammunition, and a hell of a lot of it.
Guns of all shapes and sizes lined the walls, small cases, large cases; boxes with the words ‘DANGEROUS’ scrawled across stacked upon one another almost touched the ceiling.
I let out a low whistle.
‘You can see why we keep this the most protected building now can’t you?’
‘I certainly can.’
‘No one can get inside here without my permission and we have a constant surveillance on it. We don’t want unnecessary riots.’ He flashed a grin at me.
About an hour later I was dressed head to toe in what they called ‘proper gear’. It was mostly padded stuff; a bulletproof vest, long sleeves, army boots, thick gloves, a flashlight, and of course a gun. I also had a knife strapped to my leg. I felt like a far cry from the Joe I used to be.
When Adam had told the others I would be joining them, a few of them gave me apprehensive looks and to be honest I didn’t blame them. I spotted David amongst them though and he seemed relatively glad to see me. It had been a while since we had spoken.
‘Where do they get all the army stuff from?’ I whispered to David as the others were loading up one of the trucks.
‘A group of guys who had been fighting the infection from the early stages came across Riverton and decided to make it a sanctuary. They had a bunch of army shit. I know a lot of them were killed off; Adam was one of the few survivors.’
‘What are we searching for again?’ I don’t know why I felt I had to double check; maybe it was the nerves setting in.
One of the guys overheard me and gave me the most patronizing look ever. ‘It’s okay kid. We’ll understand if you wanna stay behind.’
I glared at him. ‘I’m fine.’
‘Equipment, mostly. Medical equipment, you know like surgical and shit,’ David replied. ‘Survivors too.’
‘Uninfected survivors,’ the man said.
‘Duh.’ I rolled my eyes.
We loaded up onto the truck and set out for the unknown.
Harley was still up when I walked in. He sat up and smiled at me. ‘Good to see you man, not sure if you were zombie chow or not.’
‘Nah, I can take care of myself.’
‘What happened, is everyone alright?’
I nodded. ‘Everyone survived, no one was bit, equipment was collected.’
‘You okay?’ Harley looked a little more serious.
‘Yeah, I’m just tired,’ I threw a weary smile his way. ‘I’ll speak to you in the morning.’
‘Okay,’ he said, not looking overly convinced. I trotted upstairs. It felt as though I could sleep for a thousand years; every limb ached. I would wash the blood stains off in the morning.