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2 HB 12 by Ray Printer Friendly

I could give a damn about the fat guy in the next room, and to me, that’s one of the weirdest things about this entire ordeal. Dig that: where there’s a mass murderer in the connecting motel room, and that’s at the bottom of your list of things to worry about.

What I’m worried about is getting the wood screwed to the wall—across the windows and doors so that nothing can break in on you when you’re asleep—getting the alarms rigged, getting the guns cleaned and ready. This is how you say goodnight in hell.

This cupcake guy? Fuck ‘im. I’ve already seen him die, and I have seen that I’m still alive. One less thing to worry about. It’s kind of too bad, though, because for a serial killer, he’s really a nice guy. Got some great jokes. Too British, though, and between him and McMurphy, it almost seems like you’re living in some sort of BBC comedy sketch.

Except for all the things trying to kill you, I mean.

Right now I don’t care about Cupcake, and I don’t care about McMurphy. Right now I have to worry about Sarah. Who woulda thunk it? In all those movies about post-apocalyptic earth, nobody has girl problems. They’re shooting bad guys, blowing shit up, humping like bunnies…nobody has fights about who started what, whose fault the thing at the gas station was, or why she caught you beating off the night before last.

Not that I beat off, but so what if I did? I mean, I can’t take a piss without worrying about some monstrosity killing me. If I’m relatively safe and want to relieve a little tension, where’s the harm in that? If she doesn’t like it, she should put out more.

Instead of doing something cool like putting out, she drinks too much, she screams too much, blah, blah, blah. Watching Sarah live is like watching Sarah die. She’s tumbling down the downward spiral with the speed of a trained stunt woman, but without safety.

Apparently, that’s what we’re fighting about right now. I haven’t been listening to her for the last ten minutes, though, and when she discovers that, she’s going to be even more pissed off.

“Are you even listening to me?” She screams.

“Yep.” I’m still not listening, though, and that seems funny to me. I start to laugh, because that’s how on edge I am right now.

“Are you serious? You’re laughing at me right now? Have you lost your mind?” Screaming, screaming, and screaming, how does she keep from gargling blood?

“Dead serious, Sarah. Dead. Serious. You’re worried about laughing? Did you see that thing at the gas station? It’s the end of the world, babe, and if you want to get pissy about am I listening or not, feel free. Loony bitch.”

Priorities, that’s the key. I should be in the next room, over there with McMurphy and Cupcake. We should be making plans, discussing whether there’s even a need to make plans. I shouldn’t be stuck here, in this room with this person, like some demonic version of Oprah.

“I don’t feel appreciated anymore,” she says. She’s pouting now, and pouting girls are obnoxious. She’s changed since the end of the world. I can’t believe that this is the same girl that I used to joke with, laugh with, be in love with. I can’t believe she’s turned into this horrible thing that would rather ride my ass than keep it covered.

The thing at the gas station, she’s been bitching at me non-stop about it. No matter that I was telling her to hurry up, no matter that I was keeping her covered right up until Cupcake walked out of the building. No matter that I stayed to die with her. She’s pissed because I screwed up. You know what was taking her so long? She couldn’t find Diet Coke! Diet Coke! And when I told her that there was a monster about to burst through the doors and kill us, she kept LOOKING!

But it’s my fault. Always my fault. She’s ranting about something else now, I don’t know what, and I don’t care. I reach into my backpack, and although I’m not even thinking about it, I suddenly realize that I’m reaching for a pistol.

I find this very peculiar. What am I doing? With an odd sort of detachment, I watch my hand as it roots around in the bag. I feel my fingers wrap around the handle, and a sudden calm washes over me. One less thing, just like Tom Hanks said in that movie. And then I feel something poke the back of my hand, the corner of an envelope.

I let go of the gun, pull out the envelope. It’s from my mother. I have tried several times to reach out with my mind, see if she’s still alive, some sort of communication, but she’s never there. She wasn’t really there even when we lived together, though, so it’s really no big deal. The envelopes she left for me, though, I haven’t even thought about them since the day she left, the day all of this horrible shit started happening.

I open the envelope, Sarah is still over there bitching so hard that she doesn’t even notice. I unfold the letter.

“Don’t kill her, Darlin’.” That’s all it says. I toss the note into the trash can, zip up my bag, and open the bottle of vodka I have been saving. Sarah's crying now, too.

“Could you not do that?” I ask her.

She stops sobbing and looks up at me. “What?”

“That crying shit—it’s like fingernails on a chalk board. If you want to talk about all this stupid shit, at least talk like a sensible human being.”

“You’re such an asshole!”

“Yeah. Here’s the thing, though: we are going to die. Horribly. Maybe even in a few minutes. Do you want to spend your last moments bitching about relationships or trying to blame me for shit that is probably your fault in the first place? Or do you want to try to take advantage of it? I mean, we should be living, Sarah!”

“I hate you,” she says. Wow. Not quite as much of an inspirational speaker as I fancied, myself, huh? Might as well try the direct approach.

“Can we just have some sex, then, and be done with it?”

The lamp is flying at my face before I finish the sentence, and it would have been a really great shot, except for that I’m psychic. I catch it out of the air and put it back on the nightstand. We’re done talking.

“I’m going in with McMurphy and that Cupcake guy to try to figure things out,” I say, walking to the connecting door. I hear the gun cock, and it’s much too close. Any time a gun is pointed at you and you hear it being cocked back, that means that you’re too close.

“You know,” Sarah says, “I woke up this morning hoping for a reason to kill you.” This has got to be one of the worst break-ups ever.

“Really? Wasn’t I still cuddling with you?”

“Yeah. And your breath smelled like ass.”

“Well, yeah, but that’s because last night you wanted me t-”

“Just shut up!” Her voice is so loud that it makes my ears ring. One thing you aren’t supposed to be in this world is loud. You generally try to keep on the move, always driving in shifts, only waking the other people up when you have to get gas or kill something. Once in a while, though, you just have to take a break.

You hole yourself up in a motel somewhere, you barricade yourself in, and you stay quiet, hoping that you can make it through the night without drawing any attention to yourself. Sarah, I guess she thinks that these rules don’t apply to her. And she used to be so cool.

The connecting door opens, and McMurphy peeks in, “What the fuck is going on in here?” He stage-whispers. “We’re to be quiet!”

“Tell her,” I tell him.

“I’m so sick of your shit!” Sarah screams. “All of you people! Blaming me for everything, always accusing me, alienating me, I hate you all!”

Yeah, she hates us all, but the fuckin’ gun is still pointed at me. “What are you talking about?” I ask her in a calm voice. I think I saw on some movie once that when someone is pointing a gun at you, you’re supposed to talk to them in a calm voice…or maybe that’s what gets you shot. Damn you, Hollywood, why did you have to be so vague? “When do we blame you?”

“You blame me for drawing attention to us!” She screams.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” McMurphy says, throwing his arms up. "Woun’t be like now, would it, lass? Like this afternoon, when you blew chunks all over the ride? Or like yesterday when you blew chunks? Heaven slaughters, my child, you always are drawing attention to us!”

Sweet, McMurphy: piss her off while she’s got a gun pointed at me. “Wait…did you just say ‘Heaven slaughters?’”

“Aye. It’s an old sayin’.”

“Scottish, Irish, whatever you are, man, your people are some weird folk.”

“I can take her out, if that’s what the situation calls for,” Cupcake says from behind McMurphy.

“Don’t kill her,” I tell him.

“Why not?”

“I, uh, don’t really know. It’s sort of a long story. My m-”

“You don’t really know?” Sarah screams. “He wants to kill me, and you don’t know why you should stop him?”

It’s weird how problems like this can make even the end of the world seem more miserable. She’s got the gun pressed right up against my left eye now, she’s so shaky that she’s probably going to end up shooting me on accident, and she’s so drunk that she might do it on purpose.

But I know I live until the Cupcake dies, and I don’t feel like waiting around. I pull the hunting knife out of the sheath on my hip, and slice Sarah across the cheek. In my head, time slows down.

I have eternity to think about what I just did. She’s either going to drop the gun, grab her face, and we all live to fight another day, or she’s going to jerk to the left, put one in Cupcake, and then correct and put one in my skull.

To say the moment is suspenseful is a bit of an understatement. I’m standing there with my slowed-down time, wondering if I get to live to see another sunrise, and I hear the windows shatter. Better than a gunshot, but still very distressing.


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