Maggie's Nightmare: Chapter Twenty-Five
Hey y'all :-D
I know it's been a while since I last posted ... so Happy Holidays, Happy New Years!
Many of you have been asking and wondering if the story was on hiatus ... I am happy to say it is not ;)
However, over the holidays ... my muse decided to take a vacation on me ... but thankfully she finally returned ;)
Since its been a couple of weeks, I wrote an extra extra long chapter for ya to make up for it ... I hope you like it ;-)
As always, thank you to everyone who has continued to read and follow this story ... I really do appreciate it.
Of course, I would like to send a Special Thank you to alice_weekes, TheUndeadDixon, Char_Gray, EG458561, and SaraBee84 for commenting on the last chapter - you all seriously rock! I love you all!
** By special request from one of the readers, this chapter will feature a guest starring POV from Lt. James **
Thank you for your patience ... Now, let's finally get back to our story ...
James' POV –
I walked up the hospital steps, with my head hung low. I wasn't happy to be here. I wasn't happy to be takin' part in this game The Governor was playin'. But, I knew he'd make good on his threats and he'd give this poor girl to the men … just to prove a point.
He was a sadistic bastard sometimes. That was one thing I never could stomach; his penchant for takin' pleasure in the pain and discomfort of others, especially, if the other person did somethin' to disobey him.
He's real control freak, I figured.
He always had to have his way ... his way or the highway ...
And, I really I didn't want any harm to come to his girl, so I agreed to his terms. She was "mine" now; whatever the hell that was gonna mean.
I pushed my threw the front doors of the hospital and was met by Merrick, Doc Montgomery's assistant.
He looked up at me with a blank stare on his face; then saluted.
"At ease, Merrick."
I paused and scratched the back of my head and cleared my throat.
"I'm here for Beth."
He looked deflated; his eyes lowered and his shoulder slunk forward.
"Sure. Right this way."
Merrick led me to one of the back rooms where Miss Greene had been recovering.
"She's in here."
Merrick reached to open the door for me, but then paused with his hand still on the doorknob.
"She's a real sweet girl, Lt. James. Real nice. I'd hate to see anythin' happen to her."
I could see Merrick was obviously very concerned for her well-being. I tried my best to reassure him.
"Ain't nothin' gonna happen to her, Merrick. I'm gonna look out for her now … alright?"
I nodded, with my eyebrows raised and a slight smile; I tried to communicate that I had no malice or bad intentions with the young woman.
Merrick nodded and smiled back. "Of course …" And, then he opened the door to the room.
I walked into the room and immediately saw the striking young blonde woman who was currently cowering in the hospital bed – Beth. She was just a tiny little thing; her hands still restrained with leather straps. And, from the look in her eyes, I could tell she was terrified … of me.
I felt awful. I knew bringin' her and her sister back here was for the greater good, but it still affected me to see this young woman so scared.
It had to be done, I thought to myself.
And, then looked over at Merrick who held out a clip board with a bunch of documents.
"Sign here, Lt. James."
Beth's voice was nothin' more than a whimper.
"Please … please tell me … what's goin' on …?"
I looked up at her over the clipboard; I could see she was tearin' up.
Merrick nudged me and pointed to the corner of the room.
"There's a wheelchair over there; you can use that to get her out to your vehicle."
I nodded and handed the clipboard back to Merrick.
"She's all yours …" Merrick mumbled.
I shot him a disapproving look.
"Jesus, man …!"
I grumbled under my breath. "Give me a break, Merrick …"
Merrick left the room; left me and Beth alone. I could hear her breathing quicken with every step I took closer to the bed. I reached down to undo the straps on her wrists and she flinched.
"Please … don't …"
She was so fearful … I hoped I wasn't already too late. There's a few men around here that definitely woulda hurt her if they were given the chance.
I hope none of those assholes were able to get their hands on her yet …
"I ain't gonna hurt ya …" I gently pulled the straps off of her. She immediately started to rub her wrists with her hands. No doubt they were raw from being restrained for the last the couple of days. "Beth …? … I'm James."
She looked up at me and bit her bottom lip, then looked down at her hands that were now restin' on her stomach.
"I know … who ya are." Her eyes darted up to meet mine; just for a moment. "Nick told me bout ya."
"Did he …?"
She nodded her head. "Uh, huh …" She paused. "He told me that … The Governor … umm … "gave" me to you …?"
She couldn't even look at me in the face at this point.
I exhaled deeply. "Well ... that's what The Governor is callin' it. That ain't what I'm callin' it." I paused. "I'd say … I'm more like your guardian here ... alright?"
Beth looked up at me; her eyes filled with tears.
"What? What d'ya mean …?"
I reached over and picked her up outta the bed; I could feel her body tremble in my arms.
"Means, I ain't gonna hurt ya."
Then, I set her down gently in the wheelchair Merrick had left in the corner of her room.
"And … I ain't gonna let no one else hurt ya either." I smiled at her; tryin' to reassure her that I meant her no harm.
She smiled back and politely replied. "Thank you ... James."
I wheeled her out and picked her up and put her in my truck.
"We're headin' to my place. Alright? You'll be stayin' there with me."
Beth just nodded and looked out the window.
As we drove off, I couldn't help but think about the whole situation this young woman and I found ourselves in …
This was just the most awkward thing I'd ever experienced. I was pissed at The Governor for makin' me do this, but I also knew he was probably right. If the men knew she was here and there was no one to claim her … there could be trouble.
So, for now … Beth is mine.
With the world the way it was now … at least I knew I could keep her safe for the time bein'. It would only be until we got the Woodbury residents back, then she'd be on her way … or at least that's what I kept tryin' to tell myself.
I carried Beth inside my apartment. "So, this is it …" I placed her on the couch. "I know it's not much, but … its home." I smiled at her and grabbed a pillow to put under her leg. "Here … Doc said to keep your leg elevated for the next couple of days."
"Thanks." She quietly replied.
"He also said that you shouldn't be walkin' around on it too much. Not for another couple of days, so … for the time bein' … I'll just carry ya."
She frowned a little.
Guess I can't expect her to be all smiles bout this whole thing …
"Anyways, I've got somethin' to eat for ya … I'll bring it out to ya?"
She didn't say anythin', so I went in the kitchen and grabbed a tray with our meals: two bowls of soup, two apples and … two glasses of water. Not much, but it would do. When I walked back into the living room, I could see Beth lookin' around the room.
Poor thing … looks like a lost puppy.
Her eyes darted all around the apartment; she looked like she didn't know where she was or what to do with herself. I set the tray down on the coffee table and pulled up a wood chair from the dining room.
I sighed. "Hey … it's all gonna be okay."
Beth just stared back at me blankly. Finally, she reached over and grabbed the glass of water.
"So, ya seem nice enough … how'd end up with that psychopath, anyways?"
"Ha!" I laughed. "Ya mean The Governor? Ahh … he ain't all bad."
Her mouth fell open.
"Are ya kiddin' me …?" She basically growled at me. "Ya can't be serious?"
"Sure … why not. He's accomplished a lot here."I cleared my throat. "Ahem … we call it The Commonwealth. We've established a secure base here; it's safe from the biters and we got plenty of supplies. We've got crops; livestock." I paused and took a bite of one of the apples.
"We're ready … to rebuild civilization."
I was proud of what we'd accomplished here, and I believed in our mission; our goal to preserve the human race.
I hope she can at least see that …
However, our list of accomplishments only seemed to rile up the little woman, who up until now had only answered me in whispers. She raised her voice as she continued.
"And, I guess it doesn't matter how ya go about gettin' it? Doesn't matter how many innocent people get hurt? Or, how many innocent people die?"
I sat back in my chair; feelin' a little defensive.
"Innocents, huh? How d'ya figure that? It was your group that's holdin' all those poor folk from Woodbury."
She glared back at me.
"Oh, yeah … The Governor told us all about it. How y'all chased him, Martinez and Shumpert outta town, killed a bunch of their soldiers and burned the town to the ground."
I took another bite from the apple. "And, the rest of em … well … ya got them as prisoners now. Ya call that innocent? I sure as hell don't …!"
"Now … listen here …" Tears started to overflow down her cheeks. "Not one of those people from Woodbury are prisoners! We took em in … after he killed the rest of em! He burned Woodbury to the ground! It was him!"
I shook my head. "Sorry little lady, that's not what The Governor said. Or, Martinez. Or, Shumpert. They told us all a bunch of stories bout what your group at the prison did."
I leaned forward in my chair, so that I was closer to her. She immediately leaned away.
"Your group sounds sick … twisted. And, we're gonna rescue those people. Bring em back here."
She started to laugh.
"They are not prisoners! And, they aren't gonna wanna come back here. They're afraid of The Governor. Like … I … said … he killed everyone! Karen was with the group from Woodbury; she said he killed about two dozen of em on the side of the road and just split. She barely made it out alive. He'd of killed her too if he'd of known she was still breathin'!"
"Ya know … you're one hell of liar." I paused. "For such a sweet face; you got one hell of mouth on ya. Those are some pretty wild accusations, but I'm not surprised. You'd probably say just about anythin' to get outta here or make The Governor look bad."
I crossed my arms over my chest; feelin' like I had her number.
She's just lyin' … tryin' to get me to sympathize with her …
"I am NOT a liar. He's the liar. He's a fuckin' monster …!" She screamed.
"Watch you're mouth! I know ya ain't feelin' well, but ya better remember whose house you're livin' in!"
She immediately scooted as far away from as she could on the couch.
"That's more like it … better understand … there's rules in this house, little lady. I don't care much for the word … fuck. So, don't say it."
She whimpered like a child that had been scolded. "Okay …"
"Now go on now … eat your food."
"I don't feel much like eatin' right now." She paused and looked over at me. "If that's okay with you."
"Fine by me; suit yourself."
I continued to eat my meal and we sat there in silence. Well, except for the whimpers and sniffles comin' from my new house guest; still weepin' on the couch next to me.
"Enough already …" I set my bowl down on the coffee table. "What's the matter with ya? Ya need some of those pain killers Doc sent home with ya?"
Beth shook her head no.
"Well then …?"
"Ya mean, besides the fact that I was shot and kidnapped? …What's not wrong …?" She wiped the tears from her face. "I don't even know if my sister's alive or dead. Ya know …? She's due any day now ..."
Beth started to cry loudly. "I can't believe this is happening ..."
"Well, I understand that you're upset about bein' taken from your group."
Beth's eyes narrowed. "Don't ya mean kidnapped?"
"We just need ya … for an exchange. You and you're sister … for the Woodbury prisoners. Got a meetin' set up for six days from today. All this should be cleared up by then. So …"
"He wants to "exchange" us for the people from Woodbury?" Beth paused. "I don't get it. They're not prisoners. We saved them!"
I laughed. "Uh, huh …"
"I'm tellin' ya … we took those people in. Fed them. Clothed them. Some of em are even on our Council now; their leaders in our group, for God's sake! They're not there against their will."
"Sure ..." I tried to brush her off. But, I couldn't help but wonder how she could be so convincing.
"You sure are one hell of an actress!"
'I'm not lyin' and I ain't actin' … it's the truth!" She paused; her pretty little face scrunched up in anger. "Whatever …"
We sat in silence for a moment, when I figured I'd give her a little bit of information that might make her feel better ... I didn't like the tension that was building in the room; ya could cut it with a knife.
"Ya mentioned your sister, Maggie, earlier." Beth looked up anxiously. "She's alive … and she's just fine. Just thought ya should know."
Beth sighed. "Thank God … thank God for that …"
She reached for some tissues I had on the end table and blew her nose; wiped some of the tears off her cheeks.
I figured it couldn't hurt to give her a little update on her sister. I know The Governor wanted them to have limited knowledge of one another, but maybe tellin' Beth her sister was okay would calm her down … make this whole temporary livin' situation go a little smoother.
"Yeah. She's fine. She still hasn't had the baby yet, but The Governor thinks she's due any day now. Personally, I'm hopin' that we can get this all resolved before she has to have the baby here but …" I paused and rubbed my chin. "She'll be fine either way. She's actually stayin' with The Governor, so ..."
Beth looked horrified.
"She's with him?! Like stayin' with him …?"
I nodded yes and Beth completely broke down.
"Oh, God! Oh, God no …!"
She put both her hands to her face.
"This is a nightmare! I can't believe he did this to her! This was his plan all a long! I get it …! I see what he's doin' …"
She was cryin' belligerently now - tears, snot ... she was a damn mess!
Great! Guess that wasn't a good idea; shoulda just kept my damn mouth shut!
"Whatcha worryin' bout? She's fine …"
"My sister …Maggie…" She sniffled. "The Governor kidnapped her and her husband, Glenn. And, he held them as prisoners at Woodbury …!"
The Governor had told me he knew Maggie from Woodbury; held her prisoner there So, this was old news to me.
She paused and blew her nose again.
"While they were there …" Beth sniffled; she could barely get the words out. "The Governor … he raped her. Tried to get her to tell him where the rest of us were."
"He what ...?"
I thought maybe I heard her wrong, but Beth looked up at me with her blood shot blue eyes and continued her story.
"He wanted my sister to tell him where the rest of were … so he could find us … and kill us all! She didn't ... so he raped her. He wanted her to talk ... and when she didn't ... he raped her. He beat her. " Beth sobbed. "And, now he's got her again!"
The Governor wouldn't do that. He wasn't that kind of man ... I think ...?
I sat there as Beth just cried her eyes out. I didn't respond; I couldn't respond ... I didn't really know what to say to all that.
"Oh, my God …!" She whimpered to herself.
Why the hell would she say somethin' like that …?! She was makin' this up ... she had to be ...!
"Listen ... He would never do that … you're wrong."
I paused and scratched the back of my head.
"The Governor doesn't do that! I mean … he would never rape a woman."
Beth lashed out.
"Well he did! He raped my sister! And, now he has her again …" She started to whimper. "He's so … evil …"
"No, no, no …!" I paused. "Beth … in all the months I've been with him … he's had plenty of opportunities to do somethin' like … that. And, he hasn't. He's not a rapist. He's not!"
Beth cried. "He is! He raped my sister!"
She paused and looked me dead in my eyes.
"Her … her baby …"
She shook her head and put her face in her hands.
I quietly asked her to continue.
"Yeah …? What about her baby …?"
Where was she goin' with all this …? Why was she tellin' me this …?
"He's the father! The baby is his … The Governor raped her and the baby is his."
Beth paused; a look of anguish on her face.
"He got her pregnant, that bastard!"
Beth wrapped her arms around herself, as if she was tryin' to comfort herself. Then, she quietly mumbled.
"Jesus! Poor Maggie … she must be terrified."
Beth looked up at me and sobbed.
"Ya don't know what he's capable of … ya don't know what he'll do to her. What he's already done to her…"
What? No! It can't be true! There's no way he did that! But … Beth looked so convinced.
"I don't believe ya, Beth ... I'm … I'm sorry …"
I couldn't believe her, was like it ...
My mind was racin' … I didn't know if she was tellin' the truth or not. Either way, she had me all twisted inside. I was feelin' confused. Mostly … cause part of me did know what he was capable of. There was a side to him that was ruthless and cold; I could feel it sometimes.
But, he couldn't be that cruel … that calculating … could he?
"Believe it. Don't believe it. I don't care! … It's the truth!"
She tried to calm herself down.
"Ask him yourself … and see who ya believe."
I looked over at Beth; she looked like all hell. This conversation had just upset her, and that's the last thing I wanted to do ... and its the last thing I wanted to deal with right now.
"Listen … it looks like ya got pretty worked up here." I stood up. "I got some work to do; I'll be in my office. Ya gonna be okay out here?"
Beth nodded. "I'll be fine."
"Alright then ... just yell if ya need anythin'."
"Jesus … that was heavy …!" I mumbled to myself.
The Governor had given me the go head to set up the meetin' with the prison group to arrange for the exchange of prisoners; however, I still needed to contact their leader, Rick, and finalize the day and location with him. So, I walked back to my office where I'd stashed the CB radio.
I sat down at my desk and pulled out the radio from the large bottom drawer and I just stared at it for a few minutes. I was thinkin' … thinkin' bout everythin' that Beth said.
We all couldn't have been that wrong bout him, could we …? Nah ... she was just messin' with my head ...
I rubbed my eyes and took a deep breath and fired up the radio. We had already decided on what channel to speak on … now I just needed to reach out and see if they were listenin' on the other end.
Within fifteen minutes, I had Rick on the other end of the radio with me. We set the meeting for six days from today. Told him bout the meetin' location in La Grange; gave him the address and details about the estate The Governor and I surveyed earlier in the day.
Rick asked how Maggie and Beth were doin' and I told him they were fine.
"Both of the girls are healthy and doin' just fine ..."
I tried to reassure the man; let him know that we just wanted the Woodbury people back ... we had no intentions of hurtin' their women.
I could hear Rick sigh on the other end; he seemed extremely relieved. Then an older man got on the radio; he identified himself as Hershel …Maggie and Beth's father.
Damn ... wasn't expectin' that ...!
That was definitely a difficult conversation to have, but I let him know that both his girls were safe.
"I'm lookin' after Beth; she's stayin' with me ... and I ain't gonna let nothin' happen to her."
"Thank God ... bless you. Ya seem like a nice man, and I appreciate ya lookin' after my youngest. But ... how about Maggie? How's she doin'?"
I paused ... I wasn't lookin' forward to talkin' to him about Maggie.
I wonder if her Daddy is gonna have the same response as his daughter did when I told her where her sister was ...?
"Maggie's fine ... She's bein' looked after by ... The Governor."
"God almighty ..." The old man sighed; his voice seemed pained. "Not him … please no, not him!"
Yep ... like father, like daughter!
Sure as hell, Hershel had the same visceral response to that news.
I tried to reassure him that she was fine, but their old man didn't believe me.
"He's an animal. Oh, please get her outta his house if ya can. She ain't safe there."
Beth and Maggie's father was convincin'; he seemed like a kind soul. I felt bad for the guy, but I knew this was a necessary evil … we needed these girls so we could get the rest of those people released.
It would be worth it in the end; this was for the greater good.
I made sure to let Hershel know that his girls would be returned unharmed, just as long as the prison group followed through on their end and released the people of Woodbury to me … and The Governor.
Before we signed off, I let Rick's group know I'd be in touch with more details if need be, so they should keep the radio close by.
"I'm headin' out. Gotta finish up with some work. I'll be back in an hour or so."
Beth looked up at me; her eyes were puffy and swollen now. "Mmm, hmm."
"Now don't ya get up and start walkin' around and don't ya go pokin' around either. I was an Army Ranger. Anythin' ya can find in here, ain't gonna do ya no good against me … so please don't try anythin' stupid while I'm away."
I opened the door and as I closed it I looked over at her.
"And, don't even think about leavin' … ya can't. We're too high up for ya to jump and there's locks on the outside of the door here. Plus, I've got two armed guards posted in the hallway here … ya ain't goin' nowhere until that exchange. Alright …?"
I felt bad havin' to be so harsh, but the last thing I needed was for her to try somethin' stupid … she'd be the only one gettin' hurt.
Beth frowned and looked back down at her hands that were folded across her stomach. She just nodded yes.
"Just … be good, okay?"
I could see Beth roll her eyes. And, I couldn't really blame her. It was a shitty situation.
I closed and locked the door and gave instructions to the guards on duty.
"No one in and no one out, understood?"
I jumped in my truck and headed back over to The Governor's place. I wanted to talk to him; I suppose I needed to talk to him. I needed to let him know that the prison group had agreed to our meeting day and location and discuss some of the details of our exchange.
And … in the back of my head, I could hear Beth. I could hear everythin' she had just dumped on me.
I needed to ask him bout all that stuff; about Woodbury.
I guess I needed to hear it from his own lips that he didn't do anythin' to that girl.
I wasn't sure how I was gonna bring it up, but I needed to know if what she was sayin' was true. Because if it was … well … it could change some things … a lot of things.
Beth's POV –
Once I heard the locks on the door latch, I immediately started to scoot off the couch. My leg still hurt real bad but I had to get up; I had to get up and see if I could find a way outta here.
I know James said to stay outta trouble, but I wasn't about to just sit here and see if there was somethin' … anythin' that could help me.
I waited for a few minutes to insure he wasn't comin' right back. I was able to get myself up and used the chair he'd brought over next to the couch; kinda like a walker for old people. I hobbled around his apartment.
It was small but nice, I guess. I thought to myself. We've stayed in much worse places ...
First order of business – check the kitchen for weapons. Anythin' I might be able to use for a weapon. I figured it was unlikely; however, when I searched the drawers to my surprise I found silverware.
Forks, spoons…and knives …!
I immediately grabbed for one of the knives.
He wouldn't notice one was missin', would he …?
It wasn't anythin' too big; more like a steak knife, but I figured it was better than nothin'. I slowly made my way back to the couch and stuck it in between the cushions of the couch.
Then, I made my way down the hall. There were three doors of the hallway. I opened the first on the right, which was a bathroom. There's no more indoor plumbing, but it did have one of those hospital toilets already set up in it. Looked like he had the place outfitted; expectin' my arrival.
Thoughtful of him, I suppose …
I walked through the bathroom and into a bedroom. It was fairly large and had a queen size bed in it, which was skillfully made. All the corners tucked in tightly; like a maid had serviced the room. It was clean and sparsely decorated … just a long dresser with a mirror that faced the bed, nightstands, and a large painting on one of the walls.
I did my best to pilfer the entire room. Looked through the drawers and in the closet and all I found were clothes, shoes and some extra linens, towels and bedding.
I also found a Tupperware container filled with women's clothes; looked to be about my size. Tops, jeans, socks, underwear, pajamas …. Hell, there were even a few bras. I pulled them out and was happy to see they weren't anythin' fancy; sports bras really.
Good! Doesn't look like he's plannin' on dollin' me up or nothin' like that!
I have to admit, not finding any lingerie made me feel a little better.
One thing I did notice throughout the room, actually, throughout the entire house was all the candles and lanterns. Suppose it made sense though, this apartment wasn't open like the prison. Really only had a few small windows and not a lot of natural light. At least, that's what I hoped all the candles were for ... not for nothin' like settin' the mood or nothin' like that.
It's probably just gonna get dark in here real early, I tried to reassure myself.
In the bedroom, I made my way over to the one small windows and looked out. I could see that we were several stories up.
He was right; I'd never make it if I jumped …certainly not in my condition.
And, I realized just how big this place really was. From this vantage point, I could see it all. All the buildings, the supplies, the vehicles drivin' around … looked like the base was fully operational.
Probably looked like this before the world went to shit, I thought to myself.
Then, I noticed the men … so many men. And, all those guns … seemed like each and everyone of em had one of those automatic rifles. I cringed at the thought that the people I loved were gonna be meetin' with a bunch of these guys. They were heavily armed and there were just so many of em … and he would be with them.
I started to cry as I thought about The Governor, and Maggie … and all these men. I didn't care that James seemed to think this was gonna be some simple exchange ... he was wrong ... he just didn't know it yet.
This whole thing is a nightmare.
I knew the reality of it all now … our group, Me, Maggie … all of us … we were in serious danger. We were all probably gonna die at the hands of this maniac. And James … well he was gonna lead the attack.
And, in that realization ... I hated him too for takin' part in all of this.
As I felt the hopelessness threaten to take over me, I heard a sound comin' from one of the other rooms.
What the hell is that …?
I hobbled outta the bedroom and over to the one door on the other side of the hallway. I opened the door to his office. I waited for a few minutes ... and, it was quiet.
I started to walk out of the office ... and then I heard it again.
Static … from a radio …?
And, then I heard a voice on the other end ... I recognized it immediately.
I basically lunged towards the desk and reached for the radio on the desktop. I couldn't believe what I was hearin'!
In my excitement, I struggled to figure out how to work the damn thing. I could hear Rick … talkin' on the other end. Finally, I just grabbed the hand piece and attempted to talk into it.
Tears of joy streamed down my face.
"Rick …?! Rick? It's me … its Beth!"
"Can ya hear me?" I whispered. "Are ya there …?"
I waited a few moments and all I heard was static. And, then …
"Sweetheart, is that you …?"
I could barely talk I was so happy to hear his voice.
"Yeah, it's me, Bethy. Ya alright …?
I couldn't believe this was happening.
"I'm okay, Daddy." I had trouble talkin' through all the tears. "The … The Governor took me and Maggie. He's got us here at Fort Benning."
"We know, honey. We're tryin' to get you two outta there. He's set up a meetin' to discuss an exchange. You and your sister ... for the folk from Woodbury."
"I know. I heard. But, Daddy …?"
"There's so many of em. I can see em from my window here. There's gotta be hundreds of em. An they all got guns."
I tried my best to hold it together; to get Daddy, Rick and the rest of the group as much information as I could.
"And, The Governor … he's lied to em. Told em we did all these awful things. Told em …"
"We know, Bethy. We've got a plan, okay?" He paused. "Ya sure you're okay?"
I didn't want to upset my dad, but I told him anyways.
"I … I was shot, Daddy. In the leg, but … I'm okay ... I'll be fine."
"Oh, Bethy … I'm so sorry this is happenin' to you. I'm so sorry."
His voice trembled as he continued.
"And, your sister? How's Maggie doin'?"
"She's alive. But … The Governor … he has her. He's got her at his home here. And … I don't know if …"
"It's okay honey. You're sister is gonna be just fine. Don't worry bout that right now, okay? You're both gonna be just fine. Just stay focused on gettin' better and we'll be gettin' ya back. Don't ya worry honey, alright?"
"Alright, Daddy …"
I wiped some of the tears away from my cheeks.
" Can I talk to Daryl? Is he with you?"
"I'm sorry sweetheart. He's … he's not here right now."
My heart sank.
I really need to hear your voice, Daryl. God, why aren't ya there?
"Really…?" I squeaked out. "He's not there …? Where is he?"
"Don't worry bout that. He's … he's just fine."
I was crushed. I really needed to hear his voice. After everythin' … even just one word would've meant the world.
"Will he be back soon?"
"No, honey. I don't think so …"
"But, he's okay, right?"
"Yes. He's just fine. Don't worry bout Daryl right now. Ya know he can take care of himself. He
"I know. I just … I really miss him, is all." I cried. "And, I miss you. I miss you all."
I could hear my daddy's voice tremble; he was barely holdin' it together now ... I could tell.
"We miss you too. And, ya make sure to tell Maggie that if ya can. Okay? Ya just hold on, sweetheart. You stay strong ... for you and your little baby, okay?"
"Okay ... I will ..."
"I love ya, Bethy."
"I love ya too, Daddy."
I started to ask him about what plan they had in store, when I heard mumbling on the other side of the wall. People were in the hallway talkin'. I thought maybe James was home.
"Daddy, I think he's home. I gotta go. I love you!"
"I love ya too."
I hung up the radio and got the chair back behind the desk where I had found it. I stumbled outta the office with my makeshift walker and back towards the couch. I slowly sat down on the couch and pulled my leg back up onto the pillow.
And, just in time …
I heard the locks on the door start to unlock … James was back.
"Hey, how are ya feelin'?"
I didn't dare look up. I was so excited to have talked to my daddy and Rick, but I was also nervous that this James character might've found out about me usin' his radio. Or, maybe he would find out. I was so nervous I started to feel sick.
I didn't know what he would do if he found out. I hoped and prayed that my actions had gone unnoticed.
I tried my best to try and see if I could figure James out ... see if he'd noticed the radio; see what his deal was.
I watched him as he puttered around the apartment for the next couple of hours. In and out of his office and with a constant stream of soldiers knocking at his door; to me it looked like James must've been pretty high up in whatever this military was that The Governor had organized.
From how he'd acted towards me so far … I thought he might actually be a nice guy. I couldn't be sure though, so I figured I'd keep my guard up … but, I couldn't get the words "I'll be your guardian" outta my head. He hadn't said anythin' cruel, or hostile or threatened my physically or sexually. So, the more and more I thought about it … the more and more I thought that James could be the key … our ticket outta this place.
James was sittin' in the loveseat beside me. He'd been reading the last half hour Sun Tzu's
"The Art of War."
A soldier through and through.
But not just that … he's smart and he's a leader. Every man that came to that door respected him; I could see it in their faces.
I finally got the courage to talk to him.
Maybe I could get him on my side …?
"So … looks like ya got a lot of responsibilities around here … what exactly is it that ya do here?"
James looked up; he seemed pleasantly surprised that I was speakin' to him.
"I'm the 2nd in command here, little lady."
"Really …? That sounds important." I paused. "So, what does that mean? What's your … "job" here?"
"Well … I'm 2nd in command behind The Governor. You could say ... I run the place, just with the expressed approval from The Governor."
"So, basically ... you're in charge …?"
"I don't have the final say, but for the most part … yes."
He was in charge … that made me really angry when I thought of the situation I was in. But, it also gave me a little hope that perhaps this guy wasn't a monster like The Governor and would come to his senses.
"How'd ya … hook up with … The Governor anyways? I mean, ya seem like you're more than capable of takin' care of yourself. Ya got soldiers ... lots of soldiers at your command. Why're ya with him?"
James smiled and set his book down; obviously gettin' ready to tell me a story. I maneuvered myself on the couch so that I could better see him.
"Well … I met up with The Governor months ago in Macon, GA. My men and I had been held up in a Wal-mart Super center for almost a week. A herd of biters had us trapped inside."
James laughed a little.
"Hell, we thought we were all gonna die there. But, then outta no where … The Governor and his militia arrived. It was like God heard my prayers and we were saved. I swear, I couldn't believe our luck."
James paused; looked like he was tryin' to remember somethin'.
"The Governor probably had … bout 150 men with him at the time, so they were able to clear the herd of biters easily. And, within a half hour … I was meetin' with The Governor. I explained who we were, where we were from … and where we were goin'. And, he let us join him … Matter-of-fact, he almost immediately appointed me as his 2nd in command to help him lead his forces."
"Why'd he do that? I mean … why'd he want you to lead his men?"
"Well, I'm the highest ranking officer in this army of ours ..."
James smiled outta the corner of his mouth; he almost look embarrassed to tell me bout his achievements.
I thought it was ironic how such a big muscular tough guy could be so quiet and sweet at the same time. It was unnerving and made it hard for me to tell if I should consider him a friend or and enemy. I mean, he was very muscular; looked like a freakin' body builder. If I never heard him speak; I would be very scared to be in a room alone with him.
As he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest; his arms continued his story.
"Before all this ... I was an Army Ranger and I've got the most real life battle experience outta any of his men ... or my men for that matter. Guess it just made sense for me to help organize and lead the army …"
I paused and waited for him to finish. When he didn't, I prompted him for more details.
"So … where were ya y'all comin' from? And, where was it that you and your men were goin'?"
"Oh! Well … I'd initially had a group of several hundred men with me. We were dispatched from US Army Fort Stewart, near Hinesville."
I nodded letting him know I was familiar with the area.
"Yeah, well … we were on our way to Fort Benning. I was gonna be bringin' my men up there … but … things just went to shit real fast. Before I knew it, half of my men were gone. And, within a few months we'd dwindled to just the 25 men that The Governor pulled outta that Walmart."
Somethin' didn't sound right … The Governor doesn't like outsiders. Especially, ones who could challenge his authority.
Why the hell would he take in James and his group of soldiers?
Michonne told us that The Governor had killed a whole bunch of soldiers, when her and Andrea first got to Woodbury. Somethin' just wasn't makin' any sense.
My head tilted with curiosity.
"I don't get it? Normally, The Governor woulda killed all of y'all. Why'd he spare you?"
Then, it hit me … Fort Benning. That was why …
"How long before ya joined the group did y'all end up here?"
James crossed his arms over his broad chest. "Why?"
"Just curious is all."
"I dunno … maybe a few weeks."
I nodded my head. It all made sense now. He didn't kill James and his men … because they had somethin' he wanted. Don't know if it was information, details about the base … whatever it was … it was about Fort Benning.
"Did you and you're men help? I mean ... did y'all help get this base secured?"
"Yeah, well, we had classified documents: schematics of the base and most importantly … details about where we could find any and all unused weapons and ammo. Helped a great deal in takin' the Fort back from the dead."
James looked at me and pursed his lips. He looked like he was tryin' to figure me out.
"You think he just let us live … cause we could help him get somethin' he wanted? Wasn't cause he's a decent human being, huh? He's just some calculating son of a bitch …?"
James laughed under his breath.
"Ya might be the most paranoid chick I've ever met. Those are some damn conspiracy theories if I ever heard em …!"
My eyes widened.
"I'm just sayin' if the shoe fits …"
I smiled half heartedly, but then I quietly continued.
"Ya know … ya don't really know him, James. Ya don't. Ya ain't seen what he really can do and I hope for you and your men's sake … ya don't find out the hard way."
My smile left my face.
"He's a monster. He ain't got no soul, I'm tellin' ya."
"Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say he ain't got no soul. He's one tough s.o.b., but he ain't evil."
"I'm goin' off of experience here. He's done some pretty sadistic stuff to our group; my family; my friends. I don't know what you've seen, but he's capable of …"
I started to cry at the thought of everythin' he'd done.
I was so damn emotional right now!
Might be those painkillers I'd just taken, but most likely it was my hormones … they'd really catch me off guard sometimes!
Now that I was four months pregnant and in my second trimester, I'd been so emotional. Not that I didn't have good reason to cry right now, it's just I couldn't control them even if I tried.
"What …? What is it …?"
James seemed genuinely concerned.
"Don't go gettin' yourself all worked up again, alright?"
I nodded. James handed over the box of tissues again.
"Uh, huh …"
James looked over at me and looked down at the ground; looked like he was a little upset bout somethin'.
"I … I … didn't get a chance to talk to The Governor yet. Ya know? Bout what ya said. But, I wanted to let ya know that I'm gonna."
"Really …? Ya believe me, then?"
"Now, I didn't say that." He paused. " I just said I was gonna talk to him. With all the things ya said, I don't think I could sleep at night without clearin' up a few things with him."
I knew James was a good guy … I just knew it!
I only nodded in response, but on the inside I was shouting for joy. I could feel the hope well up inside me. James was my guardian right now … and I was gonna help him see The Governor for who he really is … a monster.
A few minutes later, there was another knock at the door. James opened the front door and four soldiers were standin' outside.
"Sergeant? How can I help you?"
One of the men spoke quietly, but I could still hear him.
"Got another update … bout those missin' soldiers from guard post last night. We found em … another four dead bodies. Again, all of em … with the ears cut off."
Daryl …! I thought to myself.
The Sergeant continued.
"Lt. James, we got ourselves a goddamn serial killer out there …! We just keep findin' more and more dead soldiers."
"We gotta do somethin'!" One of the other men angrily interjected.
James continued. "How many of the men know about these most recent killings?"
"Just us and the other Lieutenants, Sir."
"I want ya to keep quiet bout this for right now. We got some things … some stuff comin' up … and I want the men to be focused."
The men all nodded in agreement.
"Go ahead cut back on all of the guard posts except for the main entrance for right now. Until we can hunt down this killer, let's keep men in the towers at the side entrances; safe within the walls of the Fort."
The Sergeant spoke up.
"But, Lt. James. …? The Governor said he wanted men on watch on all the incoming roads …"
James looked sternly at the younger man.
"The governor may be willing to risk more lives, but I'm not. So, just follow your orders. That'll be all."
I was probably glowing from the news because James caught me off guard when he asked me why I looked so happy all of a sudden.
"Ya look like you're feelin' better. Any reason …?"
I nodded no.
"Nope. No reason. My leg's just feelin' a bit better. Those painkillers are probably kickin' in…" I laughed. "Everythin' alright?
"Nothin' you gotta worry about."
James looked really upset. The news that Daryl had been killin' and mutilatin' soldiers had given me hope, but for James … these were his men, and it must've been painful for him to hear. In that moment, I felt bad for James. He had no idea who he was fightin' beside, and because of that … he'd found himself in a predicament too. He was losin' men, losin' friends.
James had gone out for a while earlier and when he returned he had brought home dinner along with some books and crossword puzzles. I ate my meal quickly and for the next couple of hours, we sat there in silence. I knew the news of his dead men had taken a toll on this man sittin' across from me, and I was startin' to feel a little guilty for bein' so happy bout it.
Eventually, night had fallen on Fort Benning and the small apartment only lit by candles and lanterns at this point.
The silence between was finally broken when James grunted as he stood up, tossed his book on the coffee table and looked down at me on the couch.
I looked up at him anxiously. I knew he'd been upset, but his eyes ... they looked ... so angry.
I started to feel very uncomfortable with the large man towering over me.
"James, is somethin' wrong ...?" I quietly asked him.
"I think it's finally time for us to go to bed, darlin'." He grumbled.
My heat sank.
"I'm gonna take ya to bed now."
James slowly walked towards me. We'd had such a pleasant conversation today; however, I was reconsidering how "nice" of a guy he was at this very moment.
"Come here …"
My mind started racing …
"Wait ... James! I thought ya said …"
And, before I could finish my sentence ... James scooped me up in his arms like I was nothin', and was carryin' me down the hallway to the bedroom.
"Stop, James. Please stop ..!"
I pleaded with him, tryin' to search his eyes for any sign of what he was plannin' on doin'.
Nothing! I couldn't see anythin' behind his eyes.
I was starting to completely freak out. James walked into the bedroom and set me down on the bed.
"James, please don't do this, please …!"
I started to whimper as he reached down and pulled his shirt off.
"Oh, my god …"
I cried quietly as I watched him walk over to one of the dressers.
Before I could get out another word, a set of pajamas flew out of James' hands and onto the bed.
"Calm down … I'm just gettin' ya somethin' to wear for bed."
"How can I be calm...? When you're gonna …"
"Gonna what …?"
James looked at me blankly.
"Well, I don't know what … but ya brought me into your bedroom …"
I started to get choked up.
"And, you're gettin' undressed … I thought ya said ya weren't gonna hurt me…?"
James sighed and walked over to the bed.
"And, I'm not gonna, Beth. Jesus! I swear woman …"
He exhaled deeply and grabbed the pajamas off the comforter and handed them to me.
"Ya need help puttin' these on or not?"
I was shocked.
"So, you're not …"
James nodded no.
"No, I'm not gonna touch you. In fact … I'm not even sleepin' in here. I've got the couch while you're a guest here." He paused and looked at me and smiled a little. "Alright with you …?"
I didn't answer; I just nodded yes.
I feel bad for basically callin' him a rapist, but what the hell am I supposed to think when he just picks me up and takes me to his bedroom…?
"Well …" James gestured to the pajamas. "Ya need help or not?"
"I think I can manage."
"Okay then …"
James started to to walk outta the room.
"Hey James …?"
He turned and looked at me.
"Thank you … for everythin' today. For takin' care of me."
I smiled and laughed a little. "And, for the bed."
"Uh, huh …"
James closed the door to the bedroom where I laid in a little bit of disbelief for a few minutes.
Finally, I changed and got into bed. I couldn't help but start to think about how close Daryl might be right at this very moment.
Could he be right on the other side of these walls?
The thought of it made me smile.
I thought about how in the beginning, Daryl and I didn't really know each other all that well … back in the first days when the rest of the group arrived on the farm. But, one of the first things that I remembered about Daryl was when I heard about that whole walker ear necklace incident.
I didn't know all the details even now, but what I did know was the story that eventually went around; about how Daryl had gone off the deep end when he went out lookin' for Carol's daughter, Sophia. They said he'd put down a bunch of walkers, cut off their ears and wandered back severely wounded to the farm only to be shot by Andrea in the ear.
However, this was all things I heard after the fact. At the time, I only knew Daryl as a man recoverin' in our downstairs bedroom; him bein' all bandaged up in the bedroom, layin' in bed all quiet, barely talkin' to no one. He'd been shot clean through his stomach with one of his bolts and had a bad head injury. It was actually after all the commotion and after daddy had fixed him up, is when I first heard bout the necklace … the necklace that he'd brought back – the one made of walker ears.
Now, I love Daryl, but I never did get into it with him as to exactly how that whole thing came about … and how he thought to start takin' ears off the walkers. I thought it was pretty gross at the time, but now … hearin' that soldier talk about missin' ears … was like music to my own.
It meant Daryl was nearby ... he was close.
It also meant he wasn't doin' too well either, which had me a bit worried. But, I couldn't help the smile that found its way to my face as I thought about my man. He might be off the deep end again like he'd been in the woods lookin' for Sophia … but at least he was here, he was close, and he hadn't given up on me and our baby.
I knew Daryl would rather die than leave us here, I just really hoped that he was bein' careful out there. Cause … there weren't just gonna be walkers out there now … James and his men would be lookin' for their serial killer; they'd be lookin' for Daryl.
As I tried to go to sleep, I rested my hands on my belly; just thinkin' bout my little baby ... our little baby. I laid there hopin' and prayin' for a miracle. Prayin' that me, Maggie and our babies made it outta here safely; that Daryl was alright … and we would find our way back to our friends and family.
I need a miracle, God … are ya listenin' these days?
END OF CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE
So ... I know it was a long awaited chapter, I hope you enjoyed it ;)
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I wanted to get everyone caught up as to what was going on with Beth and Lt. James ... I had several people ask about how Beth was going, so I wanted to get everyone caught up as to how she was doing, what it was like when she was first given to James ... and Ii included a little more back story about Lt. James. I had one reader ask why James wasn't leading the group since he was obviously more qualified than The Governor. So, I wanted to help everyone understand where James was when he met The Governor, how desperate of a situation he found himself, and how he was actually only leading a few men at the time (in relation to The Governor's militia of about 150 men). So, hopefully, that clarifies things for everyone and gives you some insight as to why a man like Lt. James found himself 2nd in command and following orders from a man like The Governor.
QUESTIONS FOR MY READERS:
1. Now that you've heard a little more about Lt. James and seen him interact with Beth ... what are your thoughts on him?
2. Will Lt. James "see the light" when it comes to The Governor? Or, out of a sense of duty and honor, will he remain loyal to The Governor?
3. Is Lt. James the key to getting the girls out? Or, will he find himself standing in the way when push comes to shove?
I've got some big chapters coming up ... Maggie's Nightmare is starting to peak ... lots of "thangs and stuff" are gonna be happening. I can't wait for you to find out how this is all going to play out (insert evil laugh here) ;-P
As for this newest chapter, let me know what you think; like it, love it, hate it ... let me know your thoughts. If you've got a moment, please leave me a note or comment on your way out ... I'd love to hear from you all :-D
** Also, I have Chapter 26 started ... So, as soon as this chapter gets 7 reviews - I'll get started on finishing it up and getting it posted ASAP!
To all of you that consistently review … I just want to thank you for your continued support and thoughtful comments.
Please note ... This review challenge is really more of inspiration for me; every time I see a new one comment - it really does make me smile every time I see a new comment and let's me know that you guys are all enjoying the story as much as I enjoy writing it :-D
And, most importantly, it helps inspire me and keeps me writing even when my muse decides to leave me ... so if you're reading ... leave a note XD
Here's a Teaser Chapter 26-PART ONE: The Governor terrorizes Maggie and tells her about 'the meeting' he has set up with Glenn, Rick and the rest of her group; he tells her his real plans ... Maggie gets so upset that she goes into labor!