Sleep didn’t come to me too often these days. Most nights I would just lie there, staring at the ceiling, whilst memories from my life flooded my mind. It was agonizing, pure torture, but there was no way to help it. Like a tsunami wave, it washed away any speck of happiness and filled me with dread and grief. I didn’t expect anything different though.
I found myself thinking back to just this night, the fight with Cancer and Daniel. Amongst the familiar sense of loathing I was beginning to develop for him, there was something nagging at me. The time I had spent on the road had taught me that when Cancer had a bad feeling he was usually right. My mind was telling me to follow up on what he had started, and that’s when the doubt starting to spread. Adam had never actually told me specifically what was with all the secrecy when we arrived back into camp. We had brought a few survivors with us, the only ones that we could locate but there was something more.
It may have just been my paranoia, my weary mind playing tricks on me, but why them specifically? There seemed to be a great deal of effort that had gone into rescuing them. The other men, David included, had known exactly where to go and they seemed to know who they were looking for.
Before I really knew what I was doing, I had pulled on my boots and jacket and I was outside in the night.
The streets were still and silent, as expected; except for the few men Adam had patrolling. I was going to follow my instinct and find out what was being kept a secret, mostly to shut my conscience up.
Adam’s block was in my line of sight, but I didn’t know if that’s where I needed to be heading. People went in and out of there every single day; if he was trying to keep something hidden, where would he hide it? The weapon shack? I was in there the other day though and couldn’t spot anything out of the ordinary. I was scanning the darkness, watching for figures, trying to find something.
Luck might have been on my side as I heard a door shutting in the distance and the unmistakable rattle of keys on a chain.
I started to head in that direction. There were no strict rules about being out after dark; people mainly did it because they weren’t idiots. Everyone knew the night time was worse than during the day. You could be staring death right in the eyes and you wouldn’t even know.
I passed Robby’s block and felt a pang shoot through my gut. I pressed onwards.
Rounding the corner, I spotted a figure standing by a doorway. I backed away, peering round the wall. I didn’t recognize who it was, but I was willing to bet that the secrets of Riverton hid behind those doors. I needed to get the person away somehow, or at least find another entrance.
A voice in the darkness made me jump with such ferocity, I grabbed for my knife.
Adam stood staring at me with cold eyes.
I sagged against the bricks.
‘What are you doing here Joe?’
‘I needed to stretch my legs.’ It was a piss poor excuse and spoken out loud it made me realize what a terrible liar I was. My voice was too shaky.
Adam nodded once and a trickle of fear crept up my spine. For once, I didn’t know how much trouble I was going to get in. His eyes remained distant, although his lips curled upwards in a smile. ‘I know how that is. Feels like you’re cramped in 24/7.’ His eyes trailed behind me, to the building I was looking around and something passed over his features, too quickly for me to identify.
‘Joe, I have a favour to ask of you.’
‘What is it?’ I spoke too quickly, feeling the sudden urge to not piss him off further.
He hesitated before speaking: ‘I need you to take some civilians out.’
His words didn’t register at first and I stood there staring at him, waiting for him to make some sense.
‘Take some people further in to the city.’
When I realized he was being serious, my mind flooded with speculations and questions and yet all I could utter was: ‘Me?’
‘We need more experience in the camp. If you take them out, show them what you and the other men do, how to properly search for supplies, how to face danger, everything that’s expected of them. I need to build a stronger defence, so eventually everybody will be equipped with the knowledge and experience in case we’re ever faced with an attack, like the one we had the other week.’
I nodded, dumbstruck. He patted my shoulder, smiled and turned to go.
‘Oh, and Joe?’
‘Take Robby with you.’ He smiled again before disappearing.