When I came to, I was lying on my back on some soft blankets. I rolled over and jolted to a sitting position, pushing the blankets off my bare torso. Sitting there, stunned, was one of the girls we had rescued from the van. I noticed for the first time the dark circles and bruises on her cheeks and forehead, which made her look like a member of the living dead.
Now all the motion caused my head to start pounding maniaically, like a sadistic carnival worker in my head playing whack a mole with seven jackhammers. I grimaced and my vision swam and I nearly passed out again right there if the girl hadn’t pressed an ice cold cloth to my head and pushed me back down onto my back. Embarrassed, I pulled the blankets back over me and managed to mumble,
“Its no big deal. I should’ve figured you’d freak out when you woke up next to someone you didn’t recognize. I’m Nicole, by the way.” she said cheerfully.
“I’m Austin, nice to meet you.” I slurred, my head still foggy. “And it’s not the first time I’ve woken up next to someone I didn’t recognize.” The last part wasn’t entirely true, but hey, details, details.
“I was in nursing school before… this happened, so you can relax. I’m pretty sure you have a concussion but it is hard to tell without the proper equipment.” she said with blithe, and I couldn’t help to think that it was just part of her medical training.
“Did Will give that to you?” I said, gesturing to her shirt which was mine.
“No, the uh… other guy… Tall,with glasses?” she said, avoiding his obvious difference from the rest of us. “Its lucky you’re so skinny. It fits nice.”
I winced internally, not for the first time wishing I had worked out a little more during high school.
“What? Token Chocolate Monkey Boy?” I said, and lauged.
She seemed a bit taken aback by that, so I stopped laughing and Taylor, who overheard me, rewarded me with a look that said, “if you weren’t hurt already I would punch you in the face.”
“Taylor is his name,” I said to Nicole, who only nodded and stood up and walked away.
Way to go, dumbass. The first attractive girl in0 miles and you creep her out. You are such a inept idiot. I said to myself.
Soon I grew bored of laying there, so I stood up and studied our environment. We were in a small gas station, which was bare of any regular gas station items, like cigarettes for example. It’s funny how I noticed the cigarettes were gone before I noticed the food. Nicotine junkie. For now, though, it was a secure location to hide, for the gated windows and front door served as a barrier if the living dead became aware of our location.
During my investigation, I noticed Will and Jack were missing. I strode over to Taylor, who was sitting on the floor with brown haired young man with a goatee.
“Hey man, where did Will and Jack run off to?” I asked him, and added toward the direction of the young man, “Hey, I don’t think we’ve met yet. I’m Austin, the resident jackass.”
I held out my hand and he looked quizzical for a moment, as if trying to decide if I were serious or not. I was. He shook my hand and replied,
“Michael’s the name and killin’ stuff is the game. Nice to meet you.” he said with a smile, apparently taking my earlier comment as a joke.
“Aw fuck. I just lost the game.” I said loudly, and several members of our group replied with equal volume with various “FUCK”s and “You bastard!”s. The rest of the group looked at me like I was a bit insane. I am.
“You see, when you think about the game, you lose the game. And when you lose, you have to announce that you lost. You can’t win, you can only bring others down with you. Its an old internet thing.” I said, addressing the confused faces.
They continued looking confused so I turned and went back to my bedroll on the floor. I dug through my bag and found my old iPod and wrap-around headphones and put them around my neck. I also found my Mare’s Leg, which was set up near the wall by my bedding and I put it in the leg holster and zipped up my jacket. I slung my bag over my shoulder and headed for the door,
Taylor and Eve (the older woman, I introduced myself before we left for Wal-Mart) stopped me with various protests which I batted down with a lazy wave of my hand.
“What are you doing?!” Eve shouted, “Are you daft? You have a concussion, you shouldn’t be going anywhere yet!”
“Well, here’s a thought, how about ‘fuck your opinion, I’m going to see my friends, make sure they’re alright.'” I started again for the door, and an small hand grabbed my arm.
“No. Absolutely not, I won’t allow it, as your nurse.” Nicole said.
I looked at her strangely, for I never noticed her approaching. I considered the possibility of her being a ninja but then I figured she wasn’t because she wasn’t Asian.
“Well, doc, sorry but I gotta confess I did a lot of drugs in high school and I’m not very healthy to begin with. So I gotta go preserve the health of others with my badassery.” I tried again to grab the handle for the door.
“I said no, now go sit the fuck down or I will tie you to the wall.”
“Well, sorry, but I’m not much into that kinda stuff, but I appreciate the offer.” Try number five for the door, or was it four?
“We don’t want to lose our leader, stay here.”
“What gave you the impression that I was the leader, and why do you care so much?” I said, a little too hotly than the situation required.
“Well, you are a human being. And you are the leader, right? You seem to be, at least.” she said submissively, like a child who was caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
I immediately cooled my voice and replied,
“I am no leader. I’ve never been good enough for that. Its a group collaboration and that’s the way it’ll stay. Goodbye. If I don’t make it back, tell my mother that I love her. Wait, crap. She hated me when I was alive and she tried to eat me. Fuck it, if I go out, then drink a cold one for me when you guys make it out of this shit.”
I finally made it out the door and into the brisk air outside, and I walked slowly over the bike and straddled it, and put the keys in the ignition. The dented bike roared to life and I sped down the street, out of sight, out of mind.
Fuck you’re stupid. I said to myself.