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(Benny Lightfield continued from The Funniest Joke in the World)

Benny had tried to keep the mood light on the way over. It was hard, as the realization that they were out in the middle of the desert had started to hit home over the hours that they had spent following the train tracks that stretched, curving almost imperceptibly, into the flat expanse in front of them. Somewhere in between processing the meaning of their predicament, absorbing the lessons of his instruction manual (although keeping the weapon in his backpack until he felt ready to handle it), and staring at the great unknown, conversation had dropped out almost entirely. There was simply too much to keep track of while maintaining idle chit-chat. He found the silence quite discomfiting, as he was not used to there being so much of it. He usually knew how to fill in the negative space, but the list of topics had run dry, or more accurately, kept circling around to truths he'd rather not face.

Benny had noticed the town on the horizon from quite a ways away, feeling the spring return to his step as they approached. His feet ached at this point, but that was entirely ignorable in the face of the possibility that they might meet some more classmates. They broke off from the tracks, walking directly into town. Patrick announced their arrival. "All right! We made it to town. So, I believe the thing to do now is to go searching for things, yeah?" Benny couldn't have agreed more with his attitude. He replied, "Yeah, let's do this!"

Soon enough, they had rounded a corner and seen a couple of their classmates. One of them was Pepper. Benny didn't know her that well, but she was always hanging around with Delilah, and as far as he was concerned, a friend of a friend was a friend. The other kid was Tito. Benny didn't know him that well either, simply because they didn't run in the same circles, but he seemed nice enough. Benny and Patrick took off towards then, with Ramona close behind.

When they got there, Tito looked suspicious of them. He was telling them to stay back. Benny wondered why - was she hurt? She might have been injured - she certainly looked like she was hurting in one aspect or another. Though he didn't think it was necessary for them to stay back, he was more confused when Ramona took offense. She told him what was what, and he admired that, but at the same time he realized it would be a very bad idea to have anybody angry - they were carrying weapons, after all. Benny threw his two cents in from afar, not wanting to get too close to potential conflict.

"Dudes, can we just like, chill out?" Having registered that he just sounded kind of like a hippie, he went with it, continuing, "We all wanna see if Pepper's doing okay, so let's not harsh her vibes, man." He wasn't sure if what he said meant exactly what he thought it did, but it was close enough.
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