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Chapter 3

When everyone is awake and fed, I start to notice that their group has really settled in here. The campers have daily chores and a routine. Carol is working on laundry with Amy. Some of the guys are striping the red car that Glenn drove back for parts and gas. Poor Glenn looks destroyed. People are cleaning, cooking and going about their daily routines.

Jimmy sneaks up behind me as I’m cleaning out the dirt and leaves from our tent. His face is still covered with the imprint of his sleeve that must have doubled as a pillow cover. I smile at him warmly. We have been friends since the day my parents moved in next door. There has never been anything awkward or unrequited between us. We are truly just friends and it is comfortable.

"Hey stranger, how'd you sleep?" he asks.

"Better than any other night since we hit the road, you?" I lie as we walk over to the fire pits and sit down for a few minutes

"It was a nice night. I felt a little safer than usual." He shrugs. "So what do you think?" he gestures around to the camp

"It's nice to have people around. I mean real people. I love you guys and all but it's nice to be surrounded. Makes it feel like this whole nightmare could get better, ya know?" I answer.

"Yeah, I think that's called hope." I swat at him for the sarcasm.

A piercing scream brakes off our banter. It comes from the direction that Eli had walked with Carl and Sophia just a few minutes before. They burst back into camp clearly shaken up. A few of the men grab weapons and head off in the direction the kids had just come from. I run to my son and inspect him. He is clearly shaken but not hurt. He explains how they took a walk and came upon a deer that some Walker was feeding on. I take him back toward the RV and get him some water.

I hold my breath as I wait for the guys to return. I can hear voices growing as the group closes in on camp. Someone I don't recognize hits camp first.

"Merle!" He shouts. This must be Daryl. He's rugged and dirty. “MERLE! Come help me with these squirrels!”

I stand up with Eli and we stare at the man stomping through the camp. Shane follows Daryl and explains that Merle didn't return from the run. Daryl whips around looking at the campers; demanding to know if his brother is alive. When Shane can't confirm either way, Daryl is furious. We make eye contact and for a moment, I'm frozen. I'm not scared by him even though everything in my head is screaming I should be. I can't explain the feeling. I can't take my eyes away from his stare.

Rick steps in front of Daryl breaking off the angry man's gaze. Rick introduces himself and starts explaining what happened. Daryl doesn't want to hear it. He starts pacing furiously. Suddenly Daryl throws the dead squirrels he was holding at Rick and lunges. Shane and Rick jump on him to detain him. Rick wrestles Daryl's weapon away from him and Shane grabs him in some kind of hold.

"Choke holds illegal!" Daryl growls.

Shane and Rick tell Daryl, they want to discuss Merle calmly and when he seems to relax a little, they release him. They explain how Merle's behavior put them at risk and he was threatening members of their group. Daryl is livid. He jumps up from the ground and paces for a moment. He suddenly notices the other new faces. He walks over to where I’m standing with Eli.

"Who's this?" He asks abruptly. Eli steps in front of me protectively.

"Chill out kid. I ain't gonna hurt ya. I'm not the one who leaves people handcuffed to rooftops." He sneers in Rick's direction. "Just tell me where you left him, so's I can go get him."

"He'll show you." Lori says, "Right?"

Rick nods, "I'm going back."

Rick walks back to his tent to get ready for the trip back. Shane follows him, clearly agitated by this new development. Daryl picks up his squirrels and heads back to his own tent.

Mason rushes over to Eli and makes sure he’s ok. Mason walked up on the tail end of Daryl’s outburst. He sees the expression on my face and assumes I’m angry.

"Daryl had a reason to be mad. What if that was Thomas?" Mason tries to calm me down and at the mention of Thomas' name, I soften a bit. I wouldn't want my brother left for dead either. "You good?" Mason asks. Eli leaves us alone for a moment. "If you really feel we should take off, we will. I can't have you losing it here."

"Seriously? Losing it?” The anger that had subsided boils over. “Screw you Mason. I'm not some fragile chick that's going to break." I speak through gritted teeth not wanting to make a scene. I storm over to my Jeep. I lean against the side of the vehicle and take a deep breath. I start kicking the gravel at my feet. I close my eyes for a moment.

The sound of someone approaching lures me out of my moment. I watch as Daryl approaches the cube van, ready to go. His crossbow is slung across his shoulder. He opens the back door and sits on the truck bed. I watch him for a moment without a word. He is obviously pissed off that his brother is gone. I sigh and look back down at my feet. I get why he was mad. The silence is dense and uncomfortable.

"I din't mean to scare your kid, ya know?" He says, still looking the other way.

"He’s good, not the scariest thing he’s seen in a while." I reply quietly. I push myself off the vehicle and shift my weight.

He just nods in agreement. We go back to our silence which isn't as unsettling as before. In fact, it's almost safe and peaceful. After I'm calm, I head back to camp reluctantly. Mason’s watching my every move. I ignore him as I head over to sit by Eli and help him with some of the lessons Jimmy gave him. Rick and Shane are having a heated discussion. Shane doesn't want Rick risking the camp by taking people with him. He is losing his argument, no matter how valid. Rick mentions weapons that he had left in the city. They would be invaluable to the camp. He brings up the fact that they had extra hands on deck with our crew now. Shane is reluctant but nods.

Glenn and T-Dog join the search party. Daryl stands in the cargo area of the cube van as everyone piles in. I catch his eye before he closes the door and that unfamiliar safe feeling washes over me again


would love to read more.
LuLu LuLu
Thank you!!!
Khaotik Mined Khaotik Mined
Really like this!!! Can't wait to see where this goes :)
FictionisTrue12 FictionisTrue12