I suppose we passed out. Sugar crash, adrenaline crash, pain crash (note to self, Pain Crash good band name yes/no?) exhaustion, whatever you want to attribute it to, we went down. Maybe we were laughing so hard that we didn’t get enough oxygen to our brains. Doesn’t matter why we passed out in the end. Sometimes I think the same about waking up.
It rained at some point and that didn’t even rouse us. It rains all the damn time here and yet half the places we go are just dust and rocks. Explain that. Nutrient-deficient, acidic soils? Fine, you win this round Mr. Explainseverything. The rain didn’t wake up the guy we stabbed to death either but at least that makes sense, you don’t wake up when you’re dead. Usually. Just enough rain fell to make me wake up damp and uncomfortable, not enough to wash off the blood. I never knew how sticky blood was until I came to the future present. It seems like it should run off you like water but it’s more like simple syrup.
It’s so rare that I wake up before Martialla I thought that she might be dead. When I slithered over to shake her, I saw that she had one of her many knives clenched in her fist like a fat kid with a lollipop. It wasn’t a very shiny knife but I was able to see my reflection in it anyway. Lines. Radiating out from my eyes. Coming out from my mouth like demented cat whiskers. I was repulsed and obsessed at the same time. Who was that hideous old witch? Did Ela die a hundred years ago and this beast took her place? Is that what happened? Ela never looked like this, not even after doing shots and chain smoking all night, Ela is pretty. Oh, so very pretty. Everyone said so.
I stared at that reflection until the sun came up enough to obliterate it with bright light. I wanted to peel off my wet stinking socks but I couldn’t reach my arms out that far with a probably dislocated shoulder and I couldn’t curl my legs up that far with a probably whatever happens to knees knee. I hocked up and spat a sticky mass of something grey but somehow that action didn’t make my socks come off.
I thought it might be easier to grab Martialla’s knife and cut them off my feet but the problem there is that there are no more socks. If I destroy these ones, grey and filthy and dingy and wet as they were, that’s it. No more socks for me. What am I going to do, steal Martialla’s socks? What good would that do me? She has feet like Wylie Coyote. I’d have to wear them like stockings and here I am without a garter belt. Lesson learned, always carry an emergency garter belt in your purse in case of apocalypse.
I kicked at Martialla to wake her finally (or see if she was alive) “Hey, what happened to my purse?” She about stabbed me with her fist-knife so I kicked at her again “Hey, watch it, it’s me!”
“Me who?” Martialla’s voice was so ragged that she sounded like a different person. Her eyes were crusted shut so firmly she had to pry them apart with her fingers, nearly stabbing herself in the face with the knife still clenched in her man-hand at first attempt.
I snatched the blade away from her “Jesus, give me that before you put your eye out.”
She rolled over and slowly levered herself up to hands and knees, blinking blearily at the dead man, at whom she grunted “So that did happen, I thought that was a dream. Did anyone come looking for him?”
“We’re still alive so I guess not.”
“Weren’t you keeping watch?”
A noise came out of my throat that sounded like a cricket in a food processor – I guess that’s what it sounds like when a laugh is trapped in your esophagus by a mucus plug. We scuttled over to the corpse and painfully started stripping it to see if he had anything other than lice and a bad smell on him. Aside from the requisite Mad Max knife, he had a wooden thing (canteen? bottle?) filled with water which we drank too fast, and a flask made of resin filled with blue-sugar booze that we also drank too fast. In his god damn boot, not even on the side but in the bottom, he had a wrapped-up leaf full of something that looked like tobacco leaves and tasted like varnish. Even as hungry as I was, it took a while to force that down my gullet. I should have saved some of the water to wash it down with. I was considering standing up as Martialla was fiddling with the gun she found at the security station.
“Is that thing going to work?”
“I don’t know, I seem to have misplaced my firearms cleaning kit. You left your purse in the car.”
I frowned “Bullshit, that was a two-thousand-dollar Balencaiga bag, I wouldn’t have left it in the car.”
“You did though, I remember scolding you about leaving it , what if someone breaks into the car and steals it I said, your wallet is in there I said, you said you weren’t bringing it in because you didn’t want to get a chemical smell on it. It cost two thousand dollars you said.” She aimed her gun and pulled the trigger but nothing happened “Well, it’s pretty heavy, I can at least throw it at someone. How do you feel?”
“Bad. I feel bad.”
She waggled her eyebrows at me “Yes, but not as bad as you should feel, all things considered hmm? And why do you think that might be?”
I rolled my eyes “If you say anything about nanorobots, I will kick you in the cervix.”
She affected a Brooklyn accent “If you kick me in the ovaries in your dreams you better wake up and apologize.”
I turn away from her in shame “That is the worse Harvey Keitel impression I have ever heard. It’s too bad the world blew up, I heard there was an all-female reboot of Reservoir Dogs in the works. I would have made a great Mrs. Pink.”
“Wasn’t Mrs. Pink the name of your character in that softcore porn you did?”
“The Girl in Room Two Oh Eight is not softcore porn! It’s an action-adventure comedy! There’s less nudity per minute in Two Oh Eight than there is in To the Limit! Are you saying that To the Limit is softcore porn, Martialla? Martialla, is that what you’re saying?”