“It’s how we know your brothers! You whine and bitch as much as each other,” Jet had once commented, I’d frowned and snapped at him but it was the truth. Not that he could really comment, he struggled with the bag as much as we did. It was Ghoul that would carry if for days on end, never complaining or bringing it up in conversation until one of us had to physically force the bag from his back in an effort for him to take a break. I smiled to myself, he was just too fucking nice! Thinking of the bag, I wondered who was now carrying it and turned behind me. Jet ran a few steps behind, his hair bobbing up and down as he ran but he was keeping up a good pace and he didn’t even seem to notice me turned towards him. Kobra was further back, I could only really make out his facial expression by squinting. He was as good a runner as the rest of us but he had to stop sometimes to be sick and not wanting to slow us down would always run faster to catch up with us afterwards. Neither of them had the bag so I squinted against the sun to try and spot Ghoul behind. I couldn’t so instead turned forward and spotted him, in front of me, I wasn’t at all surprised. I could only really see the top of his head over the good sized backpack and his legs going so fast underneath him you had to really concentrate to spot two short legs running along. Despite being short, he was also the best runner. Hell, what wasn’t he the best at?!
Sometimes I liked to watch him run. It was embarrassing to admit and once he had caught me looking at him and asked why I was. I had blushed red and just muttered something which was meant to sound like a denial, not meeting his eyes. I liked to watch him because concentrating on him was easier than the alternative, thinking. The worst thing you could do, let your mind wander. But other than watch the desert landscape pass you by; with the sand stretching out to the horizon on all sides, there wasn’t much else you could do. And when you thought, you thought of all the worst things. I thought of the dangers which lurked for us out there, the wild animals which could kill us while you slept. The other rebels which could think you enemy and kill you with your back turned. The enemy themselves, their masks turned towards the light, watching you from a distance and waiting for the perfect moment. The nightmares. These were the worst for me. Images of my friends lying dead on the ground. A recent one was Kobra, his legs sprawled on the floor and his head caved in from a sharp blow. His head lay in a pool of blood and the light in his eyes was gone. Flies gathered around the blood and one landed on his eyeball, which was still and staring, staring at me.
I turned around to see Jet who had stopped running and was walking towards me now, his face full of concern and looking a little nervous. I frowned at the image trying to wonder where I was. I had let my thoughts wander and mentally hit myself for being so stupid. I realised I had stopped running and was slowing everyone down. Kobra was a little way off and both he and Ghoul had stopped running. I turned to Ghoul but couldn’t see his facial expression from so far away.
“Are you okay?” Jet’s voice sounded in my ears, the concerned edge still in his voice.
I turned around to tell him I was fine and make a point of starting to run again when I saw the back of his hair and realised he wasn’t talking to me. I could see the form of Kobra sinking to the floor, his hands to his stomach. My eyes widened; had I heard a gunshot? I stopped myself thinking and just ran full throttle towards Kobra, passing Jet and not caring if I was stupidly putting myself in danger. Once I had reached my brother, I knelt down to his level and tried to raise his head to catch his expression. His complexion had greened and his eyes were screwed up in a painful way. He was sweating more than he should have been and as I lifted one shaking hand to his forehead, I felt the burning heat which he was giving off. Jet and Ghoul had reached us now and both stood behind me but I didn’t turn away from Kobra to look at them.
“Is he okay?” Ghoul asked, closer to me than I had first thought, his voice in my ear.
I pushed any selfish thoughts of Ghoul away and concentrated on Kobra, holding his head up to face the light so I could study it.
“He’s burning up!”
My voice shook and I was so scared for my brother. His eyes were now open and wide, his complexion still green making the whites of his eyes stand out oddly in his face.
That’s all I got a chance to say before Kobra opened his mouth and was violently sick all over me.