‘Gee! Gee! Geeee!’
I was snapped out of my thoughts by Ray’s panicked voice. The sun was still low and I could still only make out the shapes of Ray and Mikey from the other side of yesterday’s fire. Ray sat up over Mikey, who I could hear moaning softly. I was quickly on my feet and kneeling beside Mikey. His brow was hot and his face flushed, his eyes screwed up. Ray gestured to Mikey’s arm, his sleeve now rolled up, to two small holes which punctured his skin. The skin around it was blackened and purple and Mikey hissed as Ray straightened his arm.
Mikey opened his eyes at the sound of my voice and his eyes were sad but he was holding back any tears. He gave me a sad smile. Ray was using one of his hands to brush Mikey’s hair from his face and was trying to catch my eye contact but I couldn’t stop looking at my poor brother.
“When did they happen?” I murmured softly, delicately tracing the wound that I was now sure was a bite mark.
He shrugged but after receiving a long stare from me, sighed before speaking.
“About a week ago, when we were out looking for Frank. I didn’t want you to be worried!”
I laughed stupidly as my brother’s comment. Ray raised his eyebrows at this but said nothing.
“Well, I’m a little worried now!” Mikey bit his lip and closed his eyes as another surge of pain came.
I reached for the supplies bag but Ray had already started to shake his head, telling me I wouldn’t find what I was looking for. I looked anyway, seeing only cans and bottles of liquid, no bandages or any medical supplies in sight. I reached for a canteen and opened it, moving it over the bite on Mikey’s arm. I glanced at Mikey, who had moved his other arm to his face so that he could bite down on his sleeve if the pain got too much. I gave his shoulder a small squeeze before pouring some water onto the wound so as to clean it. Mikey wriggled underneath the lukewarm water but stayed still. I gestured to Ray’s waist but he just looked back, his face crumpled to show he didn’t understand. I gestured again and this time he understood, removing his belt and unbuckling it. Mikey looked at me warily but didn’t remove the sleeve from his mouth. I carefully looped the belt just above the wound and began to tighten it. Mikey couldn’t contain the screams this time and Ray had to hold down his arm so that I could carry on. I felt tears on my face but ignored them, tears couldn’t help Mikey now.
I tightened it as much as it was able and held the belt in place with his sleeve, which I rolled back down to cover up the bite. Mikey’s face was wet with sweat and salty tears but there was no way I could stop his pain. Ray stroked Mikey’s face and I stroked his back, both of us needing to somehow comfort him. I waited until Mikey had calmed down a little before moving to pack up our bag and scatter the fire’s ashes. Ray nodded at me as I gestured to Mikey and we both seized an arm and pulled him to his feet. He whimpered and looked at me, almost pleadingly, but there was nothing I could do for Mikey now. We had to keep going.
Mikey just tipped his head, as a way of a nod and we set off walking.
“Here come the hallucinations,” Ray joked but it really wasn’t funny in the slightest.
We were having to stop regularly as with my leg, it was difficult to support myself and carry Mikey. We walked a few hours and then stopped for an hour, continuing the pattern until almost nightfall. It was nearly dark now but we had decided to wait until dark before stopping. At least the plan would have worked, if I hadn’t collapsed onto the ground. We had been trying to save water and while Mikey drank a lot, I insisted on it and Ray drank a little, I had been avoiding wasting any more supplies on myself. It would have worked but the dehydration finally got to me. Ray had scolded me jokily but it wasn’t until he came back shaking after looking into the supplies bag that we realised how bad the situation was. I had forgotten the canteens. After washing Mikey’s bite, I had left they all behind. We were at least twenty five miles from them by now and there was no question of going back for them. That left all of us without fluids, including me who was currently swaying from lack of water and Mikey who was currently sleeping off the effects of walking all day in the hot sun. We needed to think about our next move but I couldn’t think straight and my vision seemed to be growing worse by the second. Ray was looking worriedly at me and I knew I needed to speak to reassure him that I was okay but I didn’t think that I was okay; this really did look like the end. The end of all of us.
“What do we do?” Ray nibbled on his lip and looked at me with big eyes.
“How the fuck should I know?!” I muttered back, holding a hand to my head.
I didn’t need to apologise for being sharp with him because it was a stupid question. Yet as leader, I was expected to know, without Frank I had to take over properly for the first time since we had started running. And I was failing miserably. Not that it mattered; it seemed I was going to die at any moment anyway.
“I think we need to sleep on it!” I spoke, yawning loudly and lying down to show Ray my intentions.
“Gee, no! Don’t sleep! You might not wake up!” Ray jumped on top of me, making me wriggle a little but I didn’t have the strength to push him off.
He looked down at me, worriedly and sad. But I couldn’t concentrate on him. I just wanted to sleep and forget about the burning sensation of thirst in the back of my throat. My lids were heavy and I allowed them to close, smiling as I felt Ray try to desperately shake me awake. It didn’t matter anymore, nothing mattered but sleeping. A hand hit me hard in the face, making me crack open my eyes a little. Frank’s face was inches from my own, with tears staining his perfect face. He was crying on me and with a lot of effort, I managed to move a strand of hair from his face and stroke his cheek gently.
“Gee, please don’t go!” His voice sounded strange and distant but I silenced him by pushing the back of his head until he was so close I could feel his skin against my cheek and smell his gorgeous scent.
“I love you, Frank!” I muttered my voice hoarse and scratchy from lack of water and I pressed my lips to his forehead before closing my eyes and giving in to the darkness.