Anna was talking. But I couldn't hear her. Or maybe it was that I didn't want to hear her? I was too buzzed - too busy riding the numb wake, enjoying the nothingness the numbing euphoria wrought for me.
So while she talked, I hummed. The Simpson's tune to be exact. Again and again. For almost an hour. After twenty minutes, my soggy thoughts sort of twisted the pace around and I just started repeating the beginning over and over.
And over and over.
Anna knew I wasn't listening. I think. She's not retarded. She must have known that in between the stupid smirk that adorned my face and my toneless hum and jive, that I was somewhere else. Far away. Miles and realities away.
And although I didn't catch much of what she was saying, a few words pierced my happy place's walls every once in a while. But they were bare fragments without thought. Simply things for me to stretch and squeeze as I hummed.
Anna probably needed to talk. Needed to get a few things off her chest. She's only human. Only human living in the fucking shambles of society. Fending off coarse death at night and caring for a useless sack of shit by day.
And in the numb happiness of the drugs, I was able to acknowledge myself as that: A useless sack of shit. Because that was the truth after all. I was a selfish, selfish bastard. Consuming our limited resources and burdening Anna with my care.
I popped another pill.
I assume a lot of the pill's effects were probably more akin to a placebo. Because in less time than it could possibly have taken for the white tablet to dissolve in my stomach and take effect, I was already riding a renewed rolling wave of I don't give a flying shit.
You expect the pill to fuck you up, and that's what you feel. Mind over matter or something. But I guess that really only goes to show how fucked up I am.
And teen's like The Simpsons. So I hummed the tune some more.
And almost ten minutes passed by before I realized Anna had stopped the deaf chatter. And all I could hear was the silence of time. That silence not really being a silence at all, but a stark ominous feeling. A dread. The disquieting sensation you felt when you heard nothing in a location that should have been buzzing with sounds. Like a downtown district. Or a crowded football field. Or a factory.
Or in the middle of the woods. When you're being hunted and you don't even know it.
I opened my eyes and saw Anna wipe at her eyes. Had she been crying? Should I have been comforting her?
I probably would have felt ashamed, maybe like a huge ass, if I could actually feel something that is. But presently I was a blank log and the only thing that occurred to me was to ask her to not stain the bed's covers. Thankfully, my retarded ass didn't speak.
I blinked and she was gone. I nodded my head in a jerking motion and realized I had dozed off again. Blanked out. A few had gone by. The stupid Simpsons tune was escaping my lips again.
The fact that Anna had wandered off again didn't worry me. She did that a lot. Had done it before she had tried talking to me. I didn't exactly know where she went, but I assumed she was scouting the area. Looking through the buildings, scrounging for supplies, trying to get acquainted with the area.
But she had left her weapon. I noticed, with a stupid grin stretching my features, that she had left her assault rifle behind, laying against the chair she had sat on. I clucked at her in a hushed disapproving tone. And in the voice of some forgotten southern Colonel, promised to reprimand her later. Write her up. To give her fifty! And eight laps around the track. No dinner to boot.
I saluted the air.
I didn't care. Or couldn't. But I should.
I really should, a deep part of me thought dazedly. It was dangerous for her to simply wander off without a weapon. All sorts of shit could happen if you didn't have a metal shooter on hand. She needed the rifle if she was gonna go bucking off and play adventurer. So what if it was day out. If she stumbled across the odd Freak that had chosen to spend the day in the hospital, she would be fucked. Like a Panda. Or a kite.
I suppose these thoughts came from the part of me that really liked Anna. Liked, as in that warm summer way. Only even that part was half fucked up on the pills.
Right ol' adventurer, ol' Sam? Or Ann? Anna?
So I got up from the bed. The pain was nominal. Bearable. I picked up her rifle with an easy sweep (part of me thought the bend would send my ass sprawling, but no roger, I got the bitch) and started toward the room's door.
Steady steps. That was the key here. Go too fast and down I would go. Go to slow and one of my legs might fall asleep. And down I would go. So instead, just go-go-go.
I stepped through the room door and found myself in what resembled a small doctor's office. Cramped by tables and transportable boards. A room in disarray. Pamphlets and papers littered the floor. In one corner there appeared to be a nurse's uniform and doctor's coat, yellowed, and crumbled. And alone.
I took it all in with a placid smile. My sight gliding across the room until I caught sight of the door on the other side. I proceeded with my careful shuffle, clutching at the rifle like some high school trophy.
And about halfway through the room, I spot one of those movable blackboards. And to my surprise (okay, maybe not surprise. More like curious bemusement) I found my name, ALEX, scrawled neatly in the middle of the board. Surrounded by the word useless, like some grammatical halo. It was scrawled out messily, and each one had a different capitalized letter.
uSless, UsLess, usLeS, useLESS, USEless, UselesS, USlESS, UsLeSs.
Eight different scrawling of the word jutted out from the center; from my name.
The date. And that struck, because I realized I had been here, for roughly eight days. Here at this hospital. Here and there. And there and here.
So for eight days, Anna had been scrawling this... this symbolic embrace. Adding another "useless" per day?
My thoughts turned unusually thick and I turned around. Back toward my room. Things were happening. I could feel it. But my state of mind didn't allow me to process it. I scuttled back to the bed, placed Anna's rifle against her chair and crawled into bed.
A cold sweat clung to my body as a rough headache started from the back oh my head. My side was paining me. Each breath burned slightly.
I retrieved two pills from the side of the bed. I held them for a few moments, debating whether to pop them or not. It didn't seem smart. To cloud my thoughts now. Now when I needed to think. To bring reason to the strange thing I had seen.
But another part of me craved the pill. Craved what it represented. And I guess that part was growing stronger and stronger because just when I decided to put the pills aside and face the growing pain, I swallowed them. I was surprised. Who wouldn't be? When you decide to do something and your body does a 180.
And as I sat there in bed, waiting for the inevitable wave to hit me, I think I agreed dumbly.
Moments before the sweet, sweet nothing appeared, I acknowledged that I was indeed useless.