Erica placed the back of her hand on my forehead, much to my dismay. Robert had shoved a thermometer, which came from one of the first-aid kits, in my mouth under my tongue and it was the most uncomfortable feeling. I constantly moved it around, hoping to find a comfortable spot to set it in. Erica removed her hand, giving my forehead a break from the heat. She sighed and pushed herself up on her feet from her crouching position. I was wrapped in a billion blankets and a mountain of jackets which I'm pretty sure is something you're not supposed to do with someone that has the chills. Not that I cared. I was a tiny bit warmer than I was before and I'm not about to give that up. Erica didn't even have to say anything about my incredibly hot skin to the rest of the group. They simply understood by the look she gave them. I forced a cough to break the awkward silence, nearly dropping the thermometer out of my mouth. How embarrassing.
"Look, guys, it's just a fever." I said, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible while I removed the thermometer from my mouth. "A few Aspirins and I'll get through the day."
Honestly, what was so bad about taking a few pills? While the remainder of the group bickered on what they were going to do, I pushed the blankets up to my chin. Jed and Matt were gone again, hunting. Robert had elected to stay back just this once. I don't know why. He was acting weirder and weirder by the day. He had an itch for the trigger, always ready and happy to shoot anyone. I guess losing his dad really knocked a whole bunch of screws loose in his head. Robert honestly scared me. He could snap at any second and murder us all in our sleep. He was sick in the head, I knew that. Everyone knew it. We watched what we said around him, just in case.
As I lay on the ground, almost at the point of being suffocated by the blankets, I thought about what's happened in the past few days. We had made a name for ourselves; Wolverines. It was in honor of the mascot from Calumet High. We marked our won battles with Wolverines spray-painted on walls, trucks, tanks, and just plain everywhere. I honestly don't know why we did that. The guys had come up with the idea. I had gotten better with shooting a gun, and since I had played Softball, I was often given the hand grenades. I haven't shot an AK in weeks and was paired with a trusty Hunting Rifle, with a great scope. I hated it at first but soon got attached to it. Hitting someone with such a powerful bullet just felt so exhilarating. My heart pounded, my hands got clammy and I bit my lip so hard I ripped off a piece of skin. I didn't care at the time. I just felt so accomplished. I felt like I had avenged my family and everyone else's. Maybe I'm getting sick in the head, just like Robert, only it's taking me longer to realize it.
It was hard to believe that October was almost over. A month in the woods and I didn't even notice. It seemed so much shorter than a month. The blankets were over my head, shielding my face from the onslaught of wind blowing through. The group was still arguing. We only had one person who knew anything about medicine and that was me. What were we going to do without a "medic" on the field and someone got hurt? I could go and my cold wouldn't hinder my ability to shoot a gun or help someone. I wasn't that sick. Like I said, a few aspirins and I'll be okay. For a while, I didn't even bother thinking about it. By tomorrow afternoon, I'll be as healthy as a horse. I pulled the blankets off my body after it got too warm to even breathe. That's what colds do to you. They make you feel like you're in Antarctica one minute and then you feel like you're directly on the equator. It's crazy, I'm telling you.
"You're sure you'll be fine?" Aardvark asked.
I hissed when I stupidly touched the flaming hot pan over the fire. That's going to leave a mark. "No, I'm not going to be fine and I'll drop dead in the middle of reloading. Of course I'll be fine, it's nothing." My sarcasm was beginning to surface and you can thank my overexposure to Daryl for that. "A harmless cold can't kill me and you know that."
Was this meat taking too long to cook or am I just so bored of doing the same thing every day that time is moving slower? It was probably early afternoon, considering it was the hottest part of the day and the sun was in the middle of the sky. We were all situated to eat a good lunch and then go on with our daily activities. If it wasn't for the war going on, I would've thought I was at camp. A slightly demented and twisted camp but a camp, nonetheless. I stifled a laugh at the thought and brushed my hair back. Jed enforced a very strict law on tying my hair back when I was cooking. We had eaten deer, skunk, and squirrel meat. It was sometimes overcooked or undercooked and not once did anyone get food poisoning. Eating one little hair wouldn't hurt anyone.
"Sure," Robert butted into the conversation, like always. "If it gets worse, it'll definitely kill you." My semi-relaxed demeanor disappeared. "And what'll we do with the dead body?" He shrugged, chuckling sadistically.
He was scary when he got like that. Poor boy was out of his mind. I'd known Robert for a year and then some. He was such a good kid, always cracking jokes and keeping a good head on his shoulders. I guess I should mention that he loved his mom and dad more than anything. He would give up his own life and everyone else's to get them back. He was an only child, which had its perks and downfalls. He didn't have any siblings to help cushion his fall in a situation like this. I can't feel what he feels. I can't have empathy for him, only sympathy, and that just won't do anything. Maybe that's all he needs. Someone who understands what he's going through. Maybe that would make him the way he was before. Danny looked as frightened as I did at hearing Robert's rhetorical but disturbing question. Jed and Matt just exchanged looks, as if deeming our local sadist a psycho. I would have too if I didn't know him that well. Daryl, Erica and Toni had looks of disgust on their faces. I could understand why. Aardvark didn't talk again until after lunch. Because he was annoyed or scared was beyond my comprehension.
"I'll be fine," I said to what seemed like nobody but me. "I'll be fine and dandy."
November came too quickly, honestly. I didn't want to come simply because of the amount of snow that would fall. I always preferred the warmer climate of the summer and spring than the winter and fall. That was just me, though. Everyone else thought it was great for it to finally be snowing and even made mini snowmen. We had move from our camp, however, because of how elevated it was. We would be much warmer if we stayed at lower ground. We didn't move too much, and eventually decided on a great spot right beside the forest. We kept a fire going all day and all night to keep us warm. We also had a wardrobe change. I didn't like it but what was the point of complaining? I had taken my new clothes from a felled Cuban soldier. It was a difficult task washing all of the blood out but it was worth it. With these extreme conditions, we had kept as many layers on as possible. Besides, my old clothes were getting too dirty and ripped up to be wearable.
"It's too damn cold," I managed to breathe out from chattering teeth.
I sat by the fire, like always, trying to get as much heat as possible. Have you ever had a winter vacation in Calumet? If you haven't, here's my word of advice; don't. It's the coldest place you'll ever visit besides Canada and Antarctica. It wasn't even snowing yet and the wind already battered my bones.
"How the hell do people survive like this?" No matter how hard I tried to keep my jaw still, my teeth chattered louder than the birds chirping.
"They're usually prepared, you know," Danny said, adding more kindle to the fire. "They'd have thicker jackets, and more food, and less guns, and more supplies, and- "
"Shut up, Danny."