We quietly walk outside, and Ryan lets me on the bus first. I sit on the seat behind him, and he starts up the bus and pulls out of the parking lot. Quick. Easy.
The abandoned cars all through the roads scare me. Many of them are still running, like they are waiting for their owners to just sit back down and keep driving in a minute. But that's not going to happen.
Friendly's is just down the road from Wal-Mart, and we get out and just about dart into the restaurant. It seems Ryan is just as scared of being out in the open as I am.
As soon as we get inside, he's back to his crazy self. He throws a hand in the air and yells, "Waiter! Table for two!"
I smack his arm, almost playfully, "You really think we're going to find someone here? Or is it just hunger?"
He stops and thinks, "Mostly hunger," he grins, "Hey, as long as we're here, we might as well ransack the kitchen. Grab some butt-kick pancakes then take all the ice-cream we can hold."
"You are such a moron!" I yell. But he, once again, has a point. I'm hungry, too. Might as well eat the free food.
Ryan leads me to the kitchen and says, "Viola! Yum-yums! And no bananas, what a shame!"
We pick out fries and burgers, help ourselves to the soda fountain, and go sit at a booth. Ryan picks one that you can't see the windows from, and I'm grateful for that too. It feels better to pretend that the place is just empty rather than dead.
Then, as if nothing had happened in Wal-Mart, Ryan leans on his elbow and says all-smooth-pretty-boy-like, "So, baby, you come here often?"
I glare at him over the burger, "Shut up, Ryan."
He looks heartbroken, "Aw, don't be so mean! How's about coming to my place after you finish eating? Or do you have someplace better to be?"
Smart. He's using his jokes to cover up serious questions.
"I'd rather go to my house than yours. I don't want to know what creepy things you have stashed in your closet." Despite myself, I smile.
He smiles, too, "Great. Your parents gonna be home?"
I throw a french fry at him, "Shut up! That's just not right!" on so many dang levels...
He laughs, and I do too. For one glorious moment, the fear lifts from my shoulders. But it crashes back down again. The clock on the wall tells me it's starting to get late. Crap. Maybe if we just stayed out a few more hours the vampires would come out. If it's a full moon, the werewolves will.
"Ready to grab some ice-cream and blow this dump?" Ryan says, playing with his last fry.
"Ready as I'll ever be..."
We find the gigantic freezer in the back and start grabbing our favorite flavors. I take Forbidden Chocolate and another one that looks good, but the frost on the box makes it hard to read. I'm pretty sure it's Rocky Road or something.
And of course, I'm the smart one to find bags to put them all in, and we end up dragging eight bags outside and on the bus.
And as I sit down, I realize my smile is stuck to my face and I've got a strange high from all this.
Ryan gets back in the driver's seat and puts on a baseball cap, sideways, he probably swiped from somewhere when I wasn't looking, and says, "Welcome to Zombie World Bus Services. I'm your driver, and I hope you know where you're going because I don't."
I sigh and direct him through the ride to my house. We get all the ice-cream to the front door, and as I dig through my backpack I remember I'd given my house key to my sister.
Ryan sees my hand come out empty, and the smile fades. For once, he looks fearful.
"Are we locked out?" His voice shakes.
And it's my turn to laugh and seem immune to the scary things, "No worries. Stay here."
I go around to the back door and, as I'd hoped, it swings open. Normally, my dog would be tearing at the walls trying to eat Ryan. It's almost nerve-racking to hear nothing.
I slip through the dark, flipping on lights as I go. As I get to the front door and unlock it, it hits me.
I'm actually letting him into my house.