Thursday 1st April 2027: Evan, Richie and Sarah

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"You know, Richie, I'm starting to wish I hadn't found that vodka. Or at least that I hadn't told you I'd found it." Sarah had precious little patience for the emotional untidiness of intoxicated people. As deeply as she cared for Richie—a comparatively sudden occurrence that she still couldn't entirely make sense of—and as much as she shared at least some of his pain, her tolerance for his drunken misery was waning. Rapidly.

"I'm glad you found it. I haven't been drunk since before all this stupid fucking mess happened and you know what? Being drunk is good. It means that I get to have all the feelings cause I don't usually have the feelings and I should. It's not healthy to bottle things up, you know." Richie hiccupped and looked for a moment like he was going to throw up. Thankfully, he didn't.

"It's not healthy to drink half a bottle of vodka. And I'm glad you're having all the feelings, but you would be better equipped to handle them if you were sober."

"I know, but this is all shit, isn't it? I like Evan. He's so beautiful and everything was perfect and then he nearly died and it scared the shit out of me and now everything's terrible and I'm so fucking sad." Richie lifted the bottle to his mouth again but Sarah reached out and gently lowered it.

"He didn't nearly die," she said. "He knocked himself out temporarily because he was reckless and stupid. He had a concussion and he's fine now, apart from a few staples in his head. And everything wasn't perfect. Whatever terrifyingly high percentage of the population of the world, or at least the parts of it we got to hear about while communications were still a thing, died. And then most of the people who hadn't already died started killing each other and blocking most of the main roads with piles of corpses and heads on sticks. I mean, who the hell is even doing that? And who's organising it? Just normal people? Or what's left of the army? Who the hell even knows? That's far from perfect."

"OK then, not perfect but alright. Sort of. Weren't they sort of alright, for us?"

"I guess so. Things were sort of alright for us. And I'm sad too, I really am. But I'm not good at being sad."

"You should drink. It makes being sad easier."

"No, I shouldn't. And it doesn't. I think you've probably had enough now. Why don't you give me the bottle and I'll put it somewhere safe and we can all enjoy it in moderation at some point in the future."

"But I like the bottle. It's good. I'm sad, Sarah. Have a drink."

"Richie, please give it to me."

"To drink?"

"To stop you drinking."

"OK, fine," said Richie, recognising when he was beaten. "You take it then. You're no fun at all."

"I know. But you'll thank me for this when you have slightly less of a blinding hangover than you otherwise would have had. And we should go inside. We can't sit in a field all day just because you decided to get drunk at lunchtime. Evan'll be wondering where we are. I guess no-one told the weather it was April, cause it's freezing out here. We'll get hypothermia."

"At least that would be a peaceful way to die."

"Oh Richie, don't, please."

"It would though."

"OK."

"Sarah?"

"What?"

"If you're there when I die, tell me it'll be beautiful. Tell me it'll feel like coming home."

Sarah crumpled, every reserve of mental strength suddenly empty, eyes burning with tears that had waited months to be shed. Tears for her family and friends, for Marj and Cleo, for everyone and everything. Even tears for herself and the life she had been planning that would never get to happen now. She swiped the bottle from Richie, took a deep swig, then another. "Fuck you for saying something lovely," she said, tears now falling in earnest, the chill in the air and the ground forgotten.

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