seven: mixed emotions
We've been driving for two days, alternating between passenger and driver. We haven't talked, barely even looked at each other. What can you say to someone who lost everything in a matter of seconds? My tenth grade biology teacher - Mr. Porter - once told us that change can take millions and millions of years to occur and yet sometimes, in rare instances, changes came as quickly as the wind.
This was one of those rare times, I figured. It seems like my first day at school, a mere three days ago, was from another time, another era. It surely wasn't three days ago.
A cold wind creeps in as we drive north towards Houston. I reach back and grab my yellow cardigan and gently wrap it around my shoulders. The wind blows in from the busted window and gives me gooseflesh all over my arms. I look over at Felix; he looks so comfortable, resting lazily against his arm. I notice dried blood on the his sleeve. He's wearing his favourite Ozzy shirt.
"Ready to switch?" I ask him.
He nods and I slowly pull over on the side of the interstate. We don't speak. I climb out of the car and Felix takes his place behind the wheel as I find my comfort zone beside him. The green Mazda3 is slowly running out of gas, and the blinking light that just turned on was quick to remind us.
"What do we do?" Felix asks. It's weird to hear his voice. It's not at all the same as before. It's deeper and a certain sadness took over his once vivid speech. No, he's not the same.
"It's a new car, we must have a good way to go before it dies" I catch myself saying that last word. Dies. Everything dies. "Just drive, we'll think of something eventually" I add, making sure to avoid Felix's gaze. I hear the engine come to life and soon we're back on pavement.
The barren landscape zooms by in various shades of brown. Nothing lives here. Nothing reproduces here. Dead. Everything dead. All of what I am feeling inside comes rushing up and soon I am crying. Felix pulls over and he doesn't have to ask me what's wrong. He knows. He feels what I feel.
"Maybe we should talk about it," Felix says, and quickly adds "I heard it on some show."
I laugh and it's a hearty laugh, one that comes deep from within my gut. Felix doesn't react. Even now, in this situation, he's still afraid of being perceived as sensitive. I am now officially flushed and and I can feel the heat in my cheeks.
"Why did you stop talking to me, when we got to high school?" I ask him.
"I dunno" He shrugs, rests his arm against the wheel. He looks so sad. I can't help myself and wrap my arms around him and whisper:
"You did nothing wrong"
He jumps back and gives me one of those harsh looks. I feel his sadness and soon he is crying again. Annabelle. She's dead. She was coming at me. I know what happened afterwards. He didn't have to tell me.
Thinking of my family is simply too painful. I can't. I need to get to Houston.
"I'm going to drive, okay?"
Felix nods and again, we switch sides. Twenty minutes later I see a large sign for a town called Romero. I shake Felix, who fell asleep as soon as the sun went down. He yawns and his shaggy hair is glued to his face.
"We need to get access to a computer, maybe the internet is still working. It can't have spread that fast" I say, pulling over to the side, just in front of the offramp. There's something terribly eerie about being pulled over on of the busiest interstate in Texas. And then being the only car on it.
"What...what do you mean by spread? You know what is going on?" Felix asks and it hits me that he has no clue what happened. I go to say zombie but then think otherwise. I feel stupid just thinking about declaring zombies exist. Zombies exist. I can't wrap my thoughts around that.
"Felix, I think this may be a global event."
"And how would you know that?"
I don't like the tone in his voice.
"I don't for sure, hence the computer. But what happened to your sister, things like that are rarely isolated incidents. Felix, you saw Del Rio. In a matter of hours, the town was dead. Um, no, I take that back. I meant Walking Dead."
"Walking dead? As in zombies? It's some nuclear meltdown in Jefferson Heights, that's what it is. Zombies? Come on, Charlie. I thought you actually knew something" He finally laughs and it kind of pisses me off.
"Ohmygod, you're in denial."
I start the car again and head for Romero, Texas.
What a mistake.