nine: out of gas
We're driving along highway 90, towards Houston. In the haste of things, I forgot the charger; without it, the laptop is completly useless. The sun is rising in the horizon, and soon the heat is unbearable. I remove my yellow cardigan and throw it in the back.
Just then Felix finally decides to break the silence. It's been nearly five hours since we left Romero.
"I'm ready. To explain, I mean." He still has trouble talking to me. Sure, we exchanged words like old buddies back in Romero but the situation beckoned it. Now he has to be vulnerable. And Felix Holloway doesn't open up easily.
"I'm all ears, Felix." I keep my eyes trained on the road. It stretches for ever.
He sighs and gathers his thoughts.
"I was listening music in my room, just after you left. I thought I had heard something in the hallway so I removed my earphones. You see, Steph and Anna... they like - liked - to argue alot. I ignored it at first but then I heard something; It sounded like someone falling..."
I listen as he relives every moment of that night. I hear hesitation when he talks about the actual symptoms that his sisters displayed, as if he can't come to terms with what is really happening. I know that he knows. He knows. He has to.
When he's done, he looks away from me. So now I know what happened to Grams. What Felix did. It's spreading.
"That's how you knew the kids were infected?" I ask.
"Their arms were covered in blisters. The little girl was just minutes away from... It happens fairly quickly." He turns to face me. "From what i've seen, anyways. What about you? What happened to you?"
I'm put on the spot. For the last three days it was like an unspoken rule: we just don't talk about it. I force tears back. If Felix could share what happened, I sure could. And so I tell him. About David's theory, my encounter with Victoria, how I figured everything out, and all the other things that led to my freaking out in the car. It feels like forever ago. As if I was a different person, in a different time. Everything changed so quickly. Zombies. I still can't grasp it.
He's playing with his shaggy blonde hair, running his hand through it. "Yeah"
"Do you believe it's zombies now?"
He's silent. Stops playing with his hair.
"I don't know..."
"I mean, everything adds up -"
He cuts me off. If I wasn't driving a hundred miles an hour, I would have smacked him.
"Zombies don't exist, Charlie. They just don't."
"So what the fuck did I kill back there, Felix? Tell me, what goddamn man tries to rip a chunk of flesh out of a girls neck?"
I stop the car, don't even bother to pull over in the emergency lane. I punch the steering wheel, driven by anger. Tears form and roll down my cheeks. Felix brushes my bushy hair aside and wipes my tears away.
"Just tell me i'm not crazy, Felix." I whisper
"You're not crazy." He answers, unfastening his seatbelt.
Out of nowhere he leans in and kisses me. I'm taken by surprise and push him off me. He gives me a look.
"What made you think I wanted that?" I say, somewhat angry by his boldness.
"I don't know..." He goes beet red and shifts in his seat.
I turn the key in the ignition but nothing happens. The Mazda3 doesn't roar to life. We're on a stretch of highway with nothing surrounding us but evergreens.
"Felix..." I say, turning to face him.
"Don't tell me..." He knows what i'm about to say
"We're out of gas."