Chapter 10: The Party

9/10

Man, smoking is putting some lines on my face. Now I'll never get a date.

I'm so stupid. I burned the damn motel down.

All my food is toast.

I can feel the heat from the road. Dallas is crying and backing up. Sh sh sh. It's just a building.

I thought I put that cigarette out.

Really shoulda grabbed my crutch on the way out.

I lost my change of clothes, my roadmap, and 14 Gideon bibles to the flames.

Guess we're sleeping in the maintenance shed.

I won't burn this one down.

9/11

What a charred wreck. Just a few walls left.

Hey, my crutch made it!

9/12

I hear an engine.

Was that just the wind? I'm really losing my mind.

It's a miracle! New people!

Dallas, we're gonna be ok. These two people came down the road in an old army jeep, a working jeep!

This old guy- Nick, and a young woman.

Her name- no joke: Leia. Yet apparently she barely likes Star Wars. Said "that's nice" to my r2d2 tattoo. Go figure.

Anyway, they saw the smoke from my huge fire and turned around on the highway.

Princess or not, Leia is an RN, so we're going somewhere so she can look at my leg. This is good.

So there's an actual medical clinic about an hour from my motel. Totally abandoned, but Nurse Leia will be able to fix me up.

The two of them are eyeing me resting and my wound and whispering. It's nice to be around concerned people again.

9/13

Did not know where I was when I woke, and if I was dreaming there were people. They're here.

Yeah I'd love some breakfast in bed. Just let me finish writing about you, old guy.

I guess 56 isn't old, apparently.

I am getting weird looks for writing all over surfaces with my sharpie.

We all had a sit down and told our life stories. Leia's Canadian. Nick's from America.. somewhere. I know they told me what they did.

I guess this old school jeep isn't electronic, so the Flash didn't affect it. Doesn't hurt to know car stuff.

9/15

Leia says since I didn't take care of my leg properly, it will be permanently damaged. If she tries to take it…

Damn. Nick took my gun while I was sleeping. I could still fight them off. Dallas will protect me.

Leia brought me a cooked meal for lunch. I thought she put something in it for a while, but then I got too hungry. Didn't pass out yet.

I bet Nick would hold me down while the nurse sawed. I can reach some glass bottles from here and break them. Not going without a fight

They haven't rushed me yet. Nick's outside working on the jeep. Leia is cooking again. Maybe I was tense all day for nothing.

I named that jeep Ex Machina. Cause, you know.

9/16

So Leia read my wall notes and quickly explained that she already bound up my leg, and now I just have to wait. No sawing. I don't buy it.

Fine, I buy it. Don't you have some other things to do?

9/17

Nick told some funny stories today. Seems alright. Leia seems stressed all the time, though. Maybe she's worried about her brother. And Yoda

(I'm writing this under the table so as to stop offending people. I have to get used to being around them again.)

(And if you're reading this, I hope you're not under here hiding from dogs or Flash mutants)

9/19

Hello, there. I'm from the Church of the Horsemen. Do you have a moment to talk about the after-afterlife?

9/20

Nick came north to avoid the blistering summer, just like I did. He thinks John is the best Beatle, too. Nobody's perfect.

I guess Nick and his jeep are heading in the opposite direction. He has family outside of Boston he needs to find. My ride…

Leia will not laugh at any joke. It can't be me that's not funny after a year alone.

9/22

Nick had a banjo in the trunk. Turns out he's not bad. It takes a world like the one I live in to appreciate a crap instrument like that.

I asked him if there were a lot of black banjo players. He replied "not anymore."

My dog is spending way more time with that chick Leia than with me. Listen, girl, I know I'm not a dog person, but I'm way cooler than her.

And we have a history. Seriously, she's gotta be the worst person that had the coolest parents.

So she changes my bandages and cooks for me. Wouldn't kill her to smile.

9/23

Nick found Yahtzee in the clinic break room. We played for hours, though I'd probably try candyland in exchange or social interaction.

9/24

Once it stops causing shooting pain, Nick's gonna teach me how to drive stick in Ex Machina.

My leg. The shooting pain.

9/25

I love that Nick takes a smoke break with me. Emotionally a very healthy thing.

9/26

End of the world cricket: Still can't figure it out

9/27

I've finally stopped feeling that phantom text vibration in my pocket.

Dallas keeps getting walked by Leia, and even got a bath. She's taking my dog.

My dog is not resisting, either. Put her in the Dallas liar's club.

9/29

I've survived a lot and lost everything this year, but the thing that keeps me awake is wondering if I've written the same joke twice.

If my mom was here, she'd never shut up about the filth and the bodies we still haven't cleaned up.

9/30

Nick is completely unwilling to drive west anymore. There's no way I can make it by myself either.

It's been almost a year since the Flash, and I'm still not closer to Sara. I just have to trust she's taking care of herself.

Maybe my mom's talked her into forgetting about me, anyway.

10/1

October already. Still warm.

10/2

I don't know what I'll be for Halloween yet.

Any crippled character will do. Tiny Tim, although I’d just look like an out of place caroler. Captain Ahab I'd have to lose the leg, so…

Don't know why my mind is only on Dickensian characters.

I told Nick he could dress as any Sam Jackson role. He laughed and said he'd start looking for a bunch of snakes.

I'll have to make Leia a custom pair of prop pants with a stick up her butt.

10/3

Nick said the sports store in town had some paintball guns, which is cool and all, but I've been playing with a real gun for months.

10/6

Been sick as a dog the past few days. My dog, however, is happy as a clam. Maybe those clams I had made me sick.

10/9

Leia stole my smokes while I was sleeping, but Nick slipped me one with breakfast. "She does that," he said.

Me and Leia got in a fight while Nick was getting supplies. We wanted the same food and she claimed dibs cause she "does all the work."

I destroyed my leg, ok? I can't be fussing around the building nervously if I can't walk.

And maybe when you were a nurse you had all the respect in the world, but things are different now. It's not all about you, Karen.

I mean Leia. Karen's my mom.

10/11

Nick's gonna take the weekend to pack the jeep, but after that he's driving back east, take it or leave it.

So I have a few days to make California sound amazing.

Nick's not a wine drinker or a surfer. I wish I knew more about Cali other than all the movie stars died there.

10/13

One last night around the fire with the banjo before we part ways in the morning.

10/14

Jeep is packed and ready to go. The only people I know are heading out after they go pee, for good.

Nick left me some food, a map, and a working walkie talkie in case I find someone heading my way.

He gave me a quick talk on driving stick and wrote some notes, in case I ever find another working car.

Leia simply gave me a cold handshake, but cuddled endlessly with Dallas. Bitch. Not you, dog. Don't look at me like that.

I can see them out the window- loading the last supplies.

Who am I kidding? I'll die without these guys. Guess I'm going back east. Sara- I'll come back as soon as I can.

Maybe we were destined to be an adventuring party. Leia's the medic, Nick's my engineer. Who knows what dungeons await?

Nick said he doesn't understand the Dungeons and Magic crap, and to stop writing on the car seats.

Sorry, that was the last one.

Sorry.

10/15

It's so nice to ride in a car again.

10/16

A year without rain. This will be the first Halloween without rain ever.

Every damn Halloween, it's sunny all day, then you put on a Peter Pan suit and step outside and it pours.

Dallas is not being a good backseat passenger. She's bruising my leg by walking on me.

10/18

WELCOME TO MINNESOTA USA! USA! USA!

Have yet to find a part of the country that isn't wrecked. Minnie looks just as bare as the rest.

I asked Nick if we'd make it to Boston in time for Halloween. "Not if someone has to pull over to paint every road sign on the way"

10/20

Road trip games get monotonous post-apocalypse. I spy a dead "b". I spy a wrecked "c" with a broken "w" shield.

10/21

Me and Dallas are working on an app to find all the people who are still alive. I'll need a programmer who knows all that stuff.

10/23

Almost out of Wisconsin. Takes way longer when we have to stop to move cars off the road. I guard the car while they move. Takes forever.

Coming up with an acapella playlist while Nick pumps gas. Something that everyone is sure to love for miles.

A weemoweck a weemoweck a weemoweck a weemoweck

10/24

Illinois diner. Me and Leia got in a huge fight. All I was doing was singing in the car when she lost her mind. Would not shut up.

I showed her my gun and told her to leave me alone. She started freaking out and made us pull over. Now I can hear her screaming at Nick.

She wants to leave me here. Hey, you invited me, remember? I was fine before.

Nick talked her out of her hysterical tree. But he made me give him my gun before I got back in the jeep. I can still reach my sword.

Let's drive moody for a couple hours.

10/25

I've got less than a week to get my Halloween costume. Totally forgot with all this road trip excitement. Maybe we can stop at a mall.

I talked to Nick about a group cosplay. "Cuz-what? Speak adult!" It's Halloween, man.

If we can't find costumes in time, we'll have to go as HAL, Siri, and the voice of Geico.

10/27

Leia never saw Hocus Pocus. What kind of bland, fun-free medical school did she go to?

I've just learned you don't go to medical school to be a nurse. And that 90's classics aren't on the syllabus for any medical education.

Pulp Fiction costumes, at least, guys. Me and Nick are Vincent and Jules. Leia as Mia. Throw a leash and black latex on the dog.

I was napping when we crossed the border into Indiana. One state farther from Sara.

10/28

Best day ever. Got a flat tire on the highway. Some jerkhole left broken car pieces on the road right after getting Flashed and dying.

Spare tire? Never had one in the first place!

NEXT SERVICE EXIT 16 mi We are Indiana boned.

I guess we're sleeping in the jeep. Next to this creepy dead cornfield.

10/29

No choice but to slowly drive on the rim. We have to at least crawl to a town.

10/30

Rolled the jeep into this big old barn off the highway. Nick is going to ride a bike into town to find a spare tire.

It's just me, Leia, and Dallas, alone in a spooky old barn the day before Halloween.

Goood day suuunshine. Goood daay suuunshiine.

I guess we're going to wait in silence.

Still no Nick. Guess we're spending the night in the pitch black barn.

10/31

Dallas woke me up in the middle of the night barking. I thought Nick was back, but it must have been some witches flying by.

Halloween party starts now. Quick shot of whiskey before we start the costume contest, scary stories, and bobbing for water bottles.

Tried to start a Nightmare Before Christmas sing along, but I can't remember a word besides "what's this?"

Grabbed a blanket and a hanky from the jeep, so I'll be going as lady justice. Can't see a better costume.

Tried to tie bike handlebars to Dallas' head so she could be the dog from the Grinch. She's been avoiding me since.

Nick probably got jumped by a gang of Flash mutants. Probably lying in a ditch with his head clawed off and an acid hole in him.

Can't think of a good scary story.

It's getting darker earlier. And maybe a bit chilly. Bonfire time.

I've gotten so good at starting fires.

Dallas doesn't seem terrified of fire anymore. She getting sleepy next to me.

I tried to get Leia to tell a scary story, but all she wanted to talk about is when she saw her husband die during the Flash.

She was safe in a booth in a radiation lab. Nothing scary about surviving.

And we've all lost people, ok? Everyone's been lost but us.

It's getting windy and spooky. There could be mutants crawling in the cornfield, just a few feet away.

And Nick took my gun! It's just my sword and bum leg and we're surrounded.

And I've had too much holiday cheer to have enough balance. We'll be torn to shreds.

I'm freakin out about our imminent death from monsters and Leia's been swapping between crying and sulking since story time.

No candy, no guns, no movies, no Sara. This is the worst Halloween ever.

I hear something.

Oh my god. Rain. First time in a year. It's pouring.

Every Halloween. Every damn time.

11/1

Last night was... Interesting.

It poured all night. Like all the rain for the year had been saved up.

Me and Leia danced outside for an hour. She cheered up quite a bit. We drank a lot.

We started making out. A lot.

Stuff happened. She's not my type at all but- any port in a storm, right?

Now we're awkward and hung over. How's your day?

Mud everywhere.

I think Nick left us.

11/3

Nick still hasn't come back yet. If something happened to him, I don't know what I'll do. I can't lose anymore friends.

Found it impossible not to flirt with Leia a bit, but she insists that we "made a mistake" and it'll "never happen again."

Not if we were the last two people on earth?

We made a deal. If Nick's not back tomorrow, we go looking for him.

11/4

Leia left on the tractor to go find Nick. I begged her not to go. She's a bitch, but I can't lose every last person. I won't make it.

She promised she'd be back.

Don't you know any games besides fetch?

End of the world Duck Hunt: there are no ducks, but my dog still laughs at me when I miss things.

Leia came back, covered in dirt, with red eyes. Really, she looks like crap.

She showed me a note that Nick wrote. I guess he decided to head off on his own to Boston. Said we'd be better off without him.

What a jerk- bailing after all we've been through. Could at least say goodbye.

11/5

So now what? Ride a tractor to California?

That's twice today Leia just started crying. Nick will be fine.

11/7

We can't agree on anything. Which way to go next, who the dog likes better.

11/9

Should've bought more bitcoin.

11/12

I wonder how far Nick's made it on a bike. His butt must hurt.

So bored. Can't think of anything to do and Leia's been too depressed.

11/14

We walked to town to get me a bike. Reeeally missing my old school motorcycle.

11/15

Leia snapped at me for asking when lunch was. She's definitely having her monthly visit from Aunt Period.

11/17

Raining again. Can't get any sleep with it hammering on the barn roof. I don't care if crops can grow again.

11/18

What if there are a whole bunch of non English speakers that are on my trail and just can't tell what I'm saying.

It could just be cause there's no one else left, but Leia is looking kind of decent tonight. Time to turn on the charm.

So Leia found where I've been doodling and got super mad again for no reason. Back to the silent treatment.

11/22

Leia's just been cranky lately. I should have followed Nick. I can sorta ride a bike.

I survive the end of the world and I literally step on the end of a rake like in a cartoon.

11/24

We leave tomorrow. Leia's got nothing left but to come with me to Cali and make sure I don't get killed. Don't think Dallas had any plans.

We'll ride bikes until we find... better bikes. Not worth risking the tractor running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

I said burn the barn when we leave, maybe we'll meet two other people. Leia looked at me like I'm an idiot kid.

It's ok to be a kid out here, you know.

11/25

I've been told that if I hum another note of the Indiana Jones theme, I'll lose my good leg.

11/26

Got rained on again last night, forcing us to take shelter in a smaller, worse barn, with long-dead animals.

It's pretty muddy out. Makes the going slower.

Just realized tomorrow is the first anniversary of the Flash.