"They're not coming."
It's the first time any of them has said anything in about thirty minutes, the majority of which Craig has spent mentally kicking himself for letting McCormick convince him to get off the Internet and go riding around with his dumb friends. McCormick's dumb friends, that is. Only McCormick would be friends with the starting quarterback, the Angry Video Game Jew, and Butters "I'm Grounded" Stotch.
"Let's go drive up the mountain," they said. "It will be fun," they said.
But then the bush happened.
McCormick swears it popped out of nowhere, but Craig reckons he's just too proud to admit he was trying to change the radio when he ran over it.
The sun's starting to make its way down, meaning they don't have much time for Cartman to get his fat ass over here to Bald Mountain with his mom's boyfriend's tow truck. They're about five feet away from a pretty steep dropoff, but there's a good view of the mountains to the west of them. At least that's what Broflovski had said. Craig isn't taking his chances with going to the other side of the truck and looking. He doesn't do heights.
He is, however, grateful he wore something with long sleeves today, despite it being the middle of June and hotter than forty Hells earlier this afternoon. It gets cold up here at night, and he's noticed the temperature gradually wane over the past hour.
"Fuck off, Craig," Broflovski mutters in his direction. "You don't know that."
Craig makes a noise between a scoff and a humorless laugh and looks up at Stotch, perched on the top of McCormick's ancient truck and rubbing his hands together in that annoyingly childish way he always does when he's nervous. "Hey, Butters, you said Testaburger's with him, right?" Cartman and Testaburger spend all their time together nowadays. Both of them swear it's not a relationship, but they're not really fooling anyone. Fucking Stevie Wonder can see through that bullshit.
"U-uh... yeah." Of course Stotch's old dinosaur phone was (and still is) the only one able to get a signal this far in the sticks, and of course Stotch forgot to charge the damned thing this morning, so Cartman was the only phone call they were able to make. One would think being at a relatively high elevation would increase the chance of their calls going through, but one would also think McCormick would be the one with the TracFone, what with him being "economically challenged" and all. But that isn't the case. McCormick has an iPhone along with everyone else (sans Stotch, obviously) though his is of a much older generation. Doesn't make it any less useless, though.
Fuck Sprint. Fuck them in the ass with a chainsaw on the moon.
"Welp, we're doomed, then," Craig deadpans. "May as well start firing up the barbecue and trying to find a stick we can fit Marsh on—"
"Hey, hey, why the hell's it gotta be me?" Marsh asks defensively.
"Nobody is going to be barbecued," Broflovski says through gritted teeth.
"They're coming, alright?" McCormick says irritably, though the look on his face doesn't exactly match up with the sudden newfound optimism of his words. "I just know it."
"Yeah, keep telling yourself that," Craig mumbles to himself.
"Well, what makes you so certain they aren't?" McCormick asks. "Without us, his life is meaningless. I mean, sure, he'd still have Wendy to rag on, but where's he gonna find another Kyle? Or another Butters? Or another me? Shit, without me, he's the poorest kid in town."
Craig shrugs. "Either way, we all know that right now they're either having an argument over something stupid or fucking each other's brains out in the middle of the woods—"
"Dude!" Marsh interjects. Craig isn't sure if it's because Marsh has unresolved jealousy about the Testaburger situation or if the thought of Cartman having sex is... oh, holy shit, now he feels nauseous.
"Nah, man. You'd think we would've... like..." McCormick makes a disgusted face at the thought. "Heard them or something—"
"Dude!" He and Marsh aren't facing each other, but Craig is sure that he's pinching the bridge of his nose and trying not to puke. "Gross."
"You know Eric and Wendy wouldn't forget about us." Stotch could always look at a literal pile of shit and find at least three things he likes about it, Craig thinks.
"Alright, alright, they wouldn't — intentionally forget, at least—"
"Not helping, Craig," McCormick interrupts.
"You do realize who you're talking about, right?" Craig's starting to get fed up with these assholes and their illogical positivity. Maybe he should have just kept his mouth closed and attempted to call Clyde for the billionth time, even though he knows for a fact that he wouldn't be able to get through. Even so, he continues talking. "This is the guy who used McCormick's muscular dystrophy to procure enough stem cells to clone a Shakey's."
"Well, yeah, but..." It's obvious Marsh is struggling to come up with a cohesive argument. "Kenny got over that! Y'know, like he always does..."
McCormick inexplicably snorts.
"Well, I'm still going with the 'Fucking In The Woods' theory, even if it is nauseating to really think about." Craig leans up against the passenger side door of the truck and puts his thumbs through his belt loops. "It's the only thing that could possibly keep Testaburger from reminding Cartman that he needs to go rescue the J-O-O and all his friends—"
"If you think for one second I consider you a friend, then," Kyle snorts derisively, "you are sadly mistaken."
"I was being facetious, Broflovski. Jeez. Lighten up." Craig puts both his hands in his pockets and mumbles, "Where're my cigarettes?"
"Kyle—" Marsh tries to calm him down because he's in love with him, and that's what people who are in unrequited love with their Super Best Friends do. Fucking idiots.
"No. No. We are stuck halfway up a fucking mountain with no food and you are telling me to 'lighten up?'"
"No, Stan! I'm not gonna fucking sit around and wait for Eric fucking Cartman!"
"Seriously, where're my cigarettes?"
"And all you're concerned about are your fucking CIGARETTES!"
"Kyle! Kyle. Dude." He walks up to Broflovski and puts his hands on his shoulders. "Deep breath. In through your nose—"
"NO!" Broflovski breaks free and hops back in the truck bed. "I COULD HAVE FUCKING WALKED TO BRECKENRIDGE AND BACK BY NOW, OR, LIKE, FOUND A SIGNAL AND CALLED AAA—"
"AAA won't come all the way up here," McCormick says flatly.
Craig rolls his eyes. "Normal, sane people won't come all the way up here—"
"Well, that says an awful lot about you then, doesn't it?" says a small voice.
They all look up and stare at Butters, who clasps his hands over his mouth and stutters, "Did— did I say that out loud?"
"Yes." Craig scowls. "Yes, you did. And FYI, Leopold, I was coerced into coming out here by a—" he motions towards McCormick, "—madman with a barely functional pickup—"
"Thanks, dude," McCormick says, voice laced with sarcasm. "That means so much, coming from you."
"I got a question." Broflovski has his arms crossed and paces around the bed of the truck, still fuming but somehow able to keep his voice calm and level. "Why do you hate us so much?"
"Kyle, don't start with this—" Marsh begins, but it's no use.
"No, no, seriously. What the fuck did we ever do to you to make you, like... act so fucking hostile towards us?"
It takes awhile for Craig to respond to what Broflovski asked him, mainly because he isn't sure where to begin. It's a combination of several things, really. Peru, the space whale bullshit, that stupid fucking gym incident in seventh grade... he could go on forever.
Then, after a good five minutes or so, it hits him: "Trent Boyett."
"Psh," says Marsh, confused. "What?"
"Remember him? Or do you guys just forget about all the people you frame and send to juvey?"
"Oh my God, we did, didn't we?" Marsh puts a hand on his forehead. "Fuck. But — look — that was fucking ages ago—"
"I was friends with him. Well, 'til you guys went and made him set Ms. Claridge on fire."
Broflovski stops pacing. "We didn't—"
"Don't pull the 'We Didn't Start the Fire' bullshit 'cause it's not gonna work." Craig sighs in exasperation and opens the passenger door to look for his cigarettes. "The only reason I didn't rat on you guys is, 'cause, well, that would've been hypocritical. Ah, there they are."
"What?" Butters looks around frantically. "I-I don't see 'em anywhere."
Craig holds his box of Marlboros up for Stotch to see. "These, you dumbass."
"Don't call Butters a dumbass," Marsh snaps.
"Ugh." He puts a cigarette in his mouth and slams the door shut with his foot. "But fuck you assholes, that was fucking stupid."
"Well, what about Kenny?" Broflovski says with enough condescension for Craig to seriously consider punching him. "You seem to be cool with him."
"Kenny sells me weed for cheap. Of course I'm gonna be cool with him."
"But it was his idea to set something on fire in the first place!" Marsh sputters out.
"Dude!" McCormick makes a cutthroat motion with his hand. "Ix-nay on the enny-Kay..."
Marsh shrugs. "It's the truth, though."
"Whoa... look at this!"
Out of the corner of his eye, Craig sees Broflovski pointing at what appears to be the sun setting behind the mountains. But he doesn't really give a shit. Sunsets aren't his thing, unlike a certain pair of gaywads he's stuck with until they're all rescued. Stotch is excluded because he seems to be more concerned with anyone not getting their ass kicked.
"Holy shit, dude," Marsh says, awestruck by the apparent magical glory of this fucking sunset. Or maybe it's because he can see Broflovski's ass. Or both.
Either way, it's not making Craig any less angry at McCormick for being responsible for the Boyett shitstorm. He doesn't show it, though, other than putting his hands in his pockets and giving him the evil eye. Besides, he'll let Boyett deal with them the next time he gets out of juvey. That is, if Cartman gets here before they freeze to death and/or someone pulls an Alferd Packer.
"A-are you gonna punch him, Craig?" Stotch asks, voice wavering in fear.
He looks up at him again. "What's the point? We're all gonna die out here, anyway."
"We're not gonna die..." Marsh says.
"Whatever." Craig looks at the mass of trees in front of him and comes up with a halfhearted idea. "Maybe I can start a forest fire — hey, that'll get some rescue crews out here—"
"Craig!" It was Stotch this time.
"Joke." He reaches inside his pockets again. "Fuck, where'd my lighter go?"
If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!