Kadrey woke up in the tub clutching a half full bottle of Beam. The plastic bottle was near empty by the time he thought to check on Evan. He was face down between the two beds. Kadrey stood there watching for a minute, making sure his back rose at regular intervals; a habit he had picked up sharing a room with his brother for twelve years. 58.66 to sleep like bums.
A quick pat down told him he was out of cigarettes. He made as much noise as possible unlocking the door. Still there he was, outside by himself. He had no notion of the time, he'd smashed his watch in Virginia days ago. Weeks? No matter. Leaning on the second floor railing he could spot three live neon altars. He picked the one by the feeder.
At the gas station were a bunch of girls. Even wearing their make up like war paint, they still looked like high school. High school mean. High school stupid. High school treacherous. They crowded the entrance.
Kadrey stood a long time on the wrong side of the line between the station's bright lights and midnight's void. But waiting wasn't going to help. Kadrey would not be transmuted through the power of patience. The girls were not going anywhere; this was not a stop on the night's journey, it was the nest itself. Waiting was an affliction he wanted to be rid of. Actions then.
Of course they were mean. Of course they teased him and made the door an unlikely proposition. Kadrey wanted to prove that he wasn't a tourist. Desperately. Kadrey said the wrong thing. Repeatedly. The half jovial ribbing turned all black.
It was his first fight, and he couldn't help but notice how little pain was involved. Confusion, a lot of it, and some pain, but not much. Pretty soon, it seemed that he was only intermittently in command of his limbs. Vision went in and out. The girls had disappeared and were replaced by an adversarial entity. He was not going to "win".
There he is standing on the feeder. A truck's headlights envelops him. In his brain, the chemicals go crazy. Vision is extended past vision. Memories are palpable things. Above all there is the stony understanding that the shadow so quickly spreading at his feet will be his body's last alteration to this world.