Camaraderie

BioTour Bus Desert.jpg
The dried up countryside came into view, and disappeared just as fast, as the images flashed for moments in the windows of the worn down bus. The sight a obstructed by the panes and the dust kicked up by the rumbling wheels underneath. The sound of horns playing an old world tune filled the road as Tony and his good ol Bus IX drove through the countryside on its loop through Columbus. Their destination set, the bus and its current occupants swiftly made their way to the Doses for All building in district _.


A small group in the front of the bus, all in torn work uniforms, chatted loudly, drowning out the horn song and all piece of mind left in the rest of the bus. Even if it was to help with the shortage of medicine the trip across Columbus was rarely a fun experience for those who had to make the long trek and every member made sure those around them knew about it. The other residents were trapped, their only solace the annoying song and occasional tapping of rocks slamming against the underside of the bus, the thumps a nice variant to the repeated “We like to party”. Those who sat at the back near the speakers sat with their ears covered, often by their hands, though some shoved cloth in to drown out the sound further.


Salem placed himself towards the back, unable to escape both terrible noises. Tapping his foot to the rhythm of the thumps of the poor roads, a solid base hitting as the bus would buck those riding into the air briefly every few minutes. His hands full looking through his most recent find, a very familiar pair of cards with pictures of various strong men and strange creatures in battle. Some seeming to overcome great wounds to become shining heroes with golden hair. His smile widened from ear to ear as he flipped through the musty smelling pair of cards.


Suddenly though a booming voice pierced from the front of the bus, “I can’t believe we have to go deal with that smokey old building for hours while these jerks get to just fool around without a care in the world!”. A horn filled silence came over the bus as the other passengers tried to avoid the judging eyes of the large man who stood up in the front of the bus. “You jerks wouldn't even be alive if it wasn’t for us hard working folk making your damn viles!” His weathered and tired face scanned around looking for wandering eyes until he locked onto his victim. “Like you over there, I’m not hearing a thank you!” He marched over to the back of the bus and reached his hand out to the man sitting in front of Salem. “Well? Where is it? You not too dumb to speak are ya?” he shoved the man into the window, knocking his hat to the ground. “Oh god, this one’s really bad, just look at all these goddamn boils on his ugly mug. You not taking your meds or something? Wasting my hard work, huh?” taking the man's hat and throwing it out the window before turning around.

The bus jerked flinging the angry man onto his butt. Salem letting out a sigh of relief after catching his cards before they fell to the ground. Turning at the sound the man was red with fury. “You happy bout something asshole?!” He leapt up and slammed the seat. “Like seeing me fall down because of that shit driver huh?” ripping the cards out of his hands, his eyes scanned the cards before tossing them onto the seat. “The hell is this crap, you believe in this stuff? Got time to collect these instead of working?” Salem was paralyzed grasping for words, when he was wrenched from his seat. “Must be nice being able to just sit on your ass all day huh? Maybe I’ll just break your leg so it’ll be easi-”, his eyes widened and face lost its red glow.

“Think you can move? You’re in the way.” A calm and soothing voice crept up from behind the man. “If not I could help you.” The cold barrel of her gun rest on the man’s neck freezing over his temper. As he turned to his mysterious captor he could see the beautiful face gazing at him with contempt. “S-sorry ma'am, I’ll move right away.” his grip faded from Salem's neck as he slowly edged around the woman before sprinting back to his seat. “Piece of crap, you alright there sir?” The once cold voice now directed at Salem. He struggled to find words as he squeaked a low “Y-yes thank you.”

Her eyes fixed down at the pile of cards on the seat between them. “Wait. Are those?” her eyes lit up as she reached down to grab the cards. “Oh Man! I haven’t seen these since I was living with my dad! Where’d you find these?” Beaming she kept flipping through before hearing a proper answer. “U-uh...” Salem fiddled with his tool box, his eyes darting on the floor and occasionally to the woman in front of him. “By the way I’m Mary, nice to meetcha.” her free hand reached out as her eyes remained glued to a particular card in the deck. “O-oh i’m Salem...umm...Walker”, he said as he meekly took her hand for a brief moment.

Within seconds she was sitting next to him ranting about the various cards and characters on them. Eventually with Salem even chiming in occasionally. Suddenly an uncontrollable cough came over her, her hands weakly dropped the cards to the ground as she clutched her chest and covered her mouth. “Are you alright?!” Salem jumped in a panic, head jolting left and right. “Is anyone a doctor? She’s not doing we-” Suddenly a grip, albeit weak, latched onto his wrist. “I’m *cough* f-fine.” She straightened up with a harsh exhale. “Sorry about that, it happens from time to time.” She smiled with red still covering the corner of her mouth, her hand painted with splats of blood. “Your hand...”, He stared intently at her hand which she swiftly covered with the other. “Don’t worry about it, this is nothing like others living with the plague. ‘Sides, they wouldn’t complain about it.” she grinned with her head held high.

“No, I think you’re the only one who wouldn’t with the plague, everyone else loses their heads or ends up like that guy from before.” His head sinking at the thought of those around them. “Not them.” She raised up one of the cards from the ground and pointed to them. “These guys.” His brows furrowed as his mouth remained open, caught off guard by the strange comment. “If they could fight off aliens even after getting all beat up, I’m sure I can handle a little plague right?”, The bus went quiet, even the speakers seemed to hush at the statement. “I feel the plague every day but hey at least i’m still standing right? If you don’t give up you’ll be just fine. That’s what heroes do at least.” Salem's face sank at the almost childlike conviction in the idea but he finally let out another sigh of relief. “I guess you’re right!” They laughed as they hadn’t been able to so far as the music picked up once again. “Hey can you tell me about this one?” He held one of the cards up with a smile. “Oh wow, that one will take a while, you need to know about the other ones that go with it. You got time?” “It’s a long way to Marvin’s so we have plenty of time.”