When I first heard the sounds of a scuffle I should have known straightaway who’d be involved.
Adam had me with another guy, Sam, “patrolling”, which mostly involved making sure things were running smoothly and the guys working the perimeter didn’t need any more assistance or ammunition. Sam was one of the scarier ones; built like a tank with a fairly rough demeanour nobody ever gave him hassle and I looked like a twig next to him. He was fairly easy to talk to though; he had just started to tell me about his life pre-apocalypse when we heard a lot of cursing and some punches being thrown.
Fifty pounds it’s Cancer who’s involved, I made a mental bet with myself.
Sure enough as we rounded the corner I spotted Cancer’s straggly black hair, but for once he was the one getting the shit kicked out of him. I think I was actually frozen in shock for several seconds before forcing myself into action. Sam and I ran over and he wrestled the guy from Cancer, who was now on the floor, using his crutches as weapons. His face was bloody and bruised and he had the expression of an enraged animal. I recognized the other guy, his name was Daniel and he had a reputation for being a troublemaker. Adam had been wise enough to not stick Cancer and Daniel in the same area when they were working.
‘What the fuck are you doing Cancer?’ I yelled at him, not feeling any sympathy. I knew he was the one who started it. He always was.
Sam gave me a sideways glance but I paid him no heed; he hadn’t spent months on the road with Cancer. I had. I knew exactly what he was like. I had front row seats to his volatile temper.
‘I went for a walk,’ Cancer growled, spitting out blood. I had never seen him look so beaten.
Sam shoved Daniel hard in the back, away from Cancer. ‘You’re coming with me.’
Daniel retaliated by throwing Sam’s arm off his shoulder and trying to go for Cancer again. Sam restrained him. ‘You’re so full of shit! Fucking trailer trash!’ He spit in Cancer’s direction.
Sam shoved Daniel so hard he actually nearly fell to the floor. Sam grabbed his collar and hauled him upwards, lifting him as if he was a child, and pulled him away.
I was left on my own with Cancer.
I gave him my best glare. He really was going to fuck this up for himself.
‘Don’t fucking look at me like that,’ Cancer picked up his second crutch and did his best to storm off. I had never seen Cancer lose a fight before; it obviously affected him more than I thought it would. I couldn’t help but smirk at him as he stumbled off. It was about time someone put the bastard in his place.
I followed Sam and Daniel, the latter who had only mildly calmed down now that he wasn’t in the vicinity of Cancer. Sam was heading over to Adam’s building, but this didn’t faze Daniel in the slightest. He pushed Sam’s arm off him again and actually marched on ahead, seemingly fine with meeting his fate. I had to admit, I had absolutely no idea how Adam was going to react.
Sam knocked once on Adam’s door, waited for an invitation and pushed Daniel inside. I waited outside the block for what seemed like hours. I could hear a lot of shouting, some swearing and at one point I actually heard objects hitting walls inside.
When the door opened and Daniel emerged, I wasn’t overly surprised to see his face had taken a serious beating. One eye was swollen shut and a nasty bruise was beginning to form around his jaw. Sam had been instructed to take Daniel to “solitary confinement” which was literally an insulated shack with a bed, a toilet and a wash basin. It was how people were mostly kept in line; it acted as a sort of jail.
‘Joe?’ Adam came to stand outside next to me. ‘I know this is going to be a task in itself but I need you to bring Cancer here.’
He must have seen my dismayed expression because he nodded, almost understandingly. ‘I know. But I need to hear his side of things so I can assess the situation properly.’