Born To Die
Aria found it hard to remember part of her old life, the memories were too hazy to grip onto. Even when she tried to recall what a normal day had felt like she just couldn’t, whether it was starvation settling in or something else entirely she tried her hardest to cling onto any fragment of the life she used to have. The world she tried to remember and the one she lived in how were so wildly different, nothing felt real to her anymore, it felt like one long terrifying nightmare which her imagination refused to wake her from.
Aria had been on her own for ninety-two days, just a ghost travelling the now forgotten roads of Georgia. It was getting dark and the faint wind blew through her tangled blonde wavy locks, she felt the breeze seeping through her ripped clothes and it was a welcomed breeze after suffering weeks of the blazing sun and its heat. She wasn’t used to this hot weather; back in her hometown in England it rained the majority of the year, oh how she missed the rain. Aria headed back to the house where she’d been sleeping in for the last few nights, she kept a careful eye on the forest which surrounded the secluded broken house. After taking her time to search the perimeter for any unwanted guests she finally disappeared past the threshold of someone else’s forgotten home. The house was dark and all seemed the same as she had left it, feeling somewhat satisfied with her checks she retired to an empty room where she had been sleeping in and collapsed into the corner of the darkened room. She threw her head back and sighed, she was beyond exhausted as she hadn’t eaten in a day or two and her willpower to keep going was beginning to dwindle. She had always thought of herself as a strong woman, she had fought all her life and survived against all odds but since the world had gone to utter hell Aria felt herself losing the on-going battle, her strength to carry on was rapidly fading. Her head was spinning wildly from exhaustion and her stomach ached, the agonizing pain of starvation grew every day and sooner or later she wouldn’t have the energy to continue. She needed to distract herself from the increasing agony by indulging herself in a rare moment of humanity. Indulging herself in emotions was exceedingly rare for Aria, she often blocked out her emotions as she didn’t like to let her weakness control her, she was detached from all parts in her mind which once made her feel human. She pulled a crumpled photo out of a pocket on her backpack and gazed longingly at the smiling faces of her family who were staring up at her, she felt her heart warm as she thought about her loving family; her mother Evelyn, her father Andrew, her twin brothers Isaac and Luca and lastly her baby sister Eleanor. She smiled looking at Eleanor’s cheeky grin as Aria had her arms wrapped around her in a playful embrace while Luca was pulling her hair jokingly as the rest of the family posed happily for the photo. Aria felt her smile widen feeling that small connection to her family even though she hadn’t heard from them since the dead started the walk the earth, she prayed that they were safe, and this mess hadn’t met that part of the world. She felt tears beading on her lashes before sliding down her filthy cheeks, she wiped her eyes on the back of her hand before kissing the photograph and sliding it back into her backpack.
“Come on” she muttered sadly to herself wiping her moist cheeks “pull yourself together”
Aria didn’t sleep much anymore, just drifted in and out of consciousness; living with flesh eating monstrosities roaming the earth didn't allow her much time for rest. Before closing her eyes she performed her ritual as she did every night, she pulled her gun out of her thigh holster and left it loose in her fingers next to her body. She slowly closed her eyes listening to the wind picking up outside, it soothed her listening to the wind intertwining with the grass and trees outside, it made her think of home and caused her to drift into a shallow slumber.
The sound of a shattering window threw her from her unconsciousness; her eyes bolted open to see the darkness which cloaked the small room, she leaped from the floor and silently dragged herself over to the window where she was a group of Walkers dragging themselves towards the house. Remaining as calm as possible she quickly shoved her belongings into a rucksack and was ready to run; she crept towards the stairs and could hear the breathing and gargling of the beasts trying to make their way into the house. Aria could feel her heart beating rapidly in her chest she could hear it pounding in her ears; she felt fear trying to consume her but she kept herself composed by steadying her breathing, breathing in through her nose and out from her mouth. She stepped down half the stairs when the front door was thrown open and two wrestling abominations fell through the doorway, one of their eyes immediately found Aria in the darkness of the staircase. It growled hungrily for her as it made its way towards the stairs and the other followed, she waited until they were a short distance away before kicking the nearest one in the chest sending it cascading down the stairs taking the other one with it. Aria sprinted down the stairs jumping over the fumbling bodies and bolted through the door only to come face to face with another rotting corpse. She charged into it shoving her knife deep into its hollow skull and ripping it back out causing blood to spurt from the wound, there were five others surrounding her and more swiftly joining them through the trees. Charging into the next jabbing it in the temple causing it to flop to the ground, the others were too close for her to take care of them with her knife so she raised her gun shooting the rest of them who were too close for comfort, she knew the gun fire would attract more of the beasts but she had been left with no choice. Aria sprinted towards the thick trees hoping she’d lose the remaining un-dead which were appearing all around, she weaved around the trees trying to lose her unwanted following which were all snarling with hunger as they persisted to follow her through the black forest. Her heart was now racing and her breath was running out, she could feel herself getting slower and their growls growing louder, she felt desperation and hopelessness begin to fill her. She knew she wouldn’t be able to survive this marathon if she didn’t try to take some of them down; she glanced over her shoulder as she leapt over a fallen branch and saw three which were alarmingly close to her, a great distance in front of the others. Making a decision she knew was incredibly risky she spun on her heels and fired two bullets taking two of them down, leaving one just meters away from her. She took a sharp breath trying to steady her hand before firing a shot at the last corpse missing its brain and scraping its eye socket which caused its eye to fall out the side of its face; it lunged at her grabbing her leg. She shrieked dropping her gun and knife as she fell to the ground, she thrashed her legs violently trying to throw the monster away but it gripped so tight of her ankle refusing to release its bony fingers from her flesh. Its gaping mouth snapped at her boots as she struggled to reach for her gun, she could hear the rest rapidly approaching, and the only thing that flooded her mind was the thought that this might be it for her; this was how she was finally going to wake up from this nightmare.
Aria felt her racing heart harden in her chest and her mind freeze with fear as she felt her weakness consume her in her last moments. In a previous encounter with death she had fought as hard as possible for her life but in this moment her body had felt like it was giving up on her. Before she could fully give in she felt a sudden surge of energy as she thought about her family, seeing their smiling faces and hearing their gleeful laughter somehow filling her ears. With an ear splitting yell she kicked the monsters hand from her and which her new found freedom she lunged for her gun her fingertips just reaching the trigger, the beast pounced on her falling down onto her body. Aria raised her free arm keeping the chomping jaws away from her neck, cold sticky blood dripped from the Walkers mouth onto her neck as its jagged teeth were only inches away. With one last scream she pulled up her gun and fired her last bullet into its white starving eyes, the bullet ruptured through the brain of the beast splattering blood and brains all over Aria completely covering her in its cold black blood. She threw the Walkers body from her and let out a huge sound of relief, but she knew she didn’t have time to compose herself as she looked up and saw the slower ones getting dangerously close. She leapt up to her feet grabbing her knife and began sprinting through the trees trying to lose the approaching dead, she didn’t know how long she would be running for but she had to keep going, even if it took her all night to lose them.
Her breath was getting shallow; her muscles were burning with every footstep she took. She didn’t know how long she’d been running for but she knew her time was running out once again, there were now about eight Walkers running after her now; more had joined them, just her luck. Aria’s heart beat in her ears loudly as the moans and groans of the Walkers behind her grew louder as she involuntary slowed her pace, she turned her head slightly to see the monsters approaching when she tripped and fell into the hard ground. She felt pain surge through her skull as her head struck hard against the ground; blood began trickling from the gaping wound which slid down her forehead and into her eyes blinding her. She attempted to push herself back to her feet but her tired knees gave way in defeat, after running throughout the night the sun was beginning to rise from over the trees which began to illuminate the dark sky. Aria faced down on the hard ground panting wildly as she fought to pull herself back up but her body was betraying her; she could hear the grunting of the Walkers behind her finally approaching. There was no hope now; she knew this was the end. She shut her eyes tightly and held her breath waiting for the ravaging to begin when she heard an unfamiliar rustling sound from the trees ahead of her, she didn’t know what overcame her but she opened her lips and began screaming into the ground beneath her “Help” she screamed as loud as her lungs would allow her “help me” her screeching echoed through the trees when she heard footsteps rushing towards her. The hungry growls from the dead were the only thing she could hear as she was fighting to keep her eyes open when her head began to spin wildly; she fought to stay conscious but was losing the battle, the last thing she remembered seeing was a corpse lying beside her with an arrow lodged in its skull before her vision went black and silence hit.
Aria couldn’t fully regain her consciousness; she just kept wavering in and out of the darkness that had a tight grip on her consciousness. Small amounts of chatter filled the air as she could feel her head pulsating with an agonising pain, she didn’t know whether the voices were reality or her mind playing a horrid trick on her.
“She aint nothin’ to us” a raspy southern accent hissed.
“We can’t just leave her out here” another voice protested.
“The Hell we can!”
“She’s passed out. I’m not leaving a defenceless girl out here for the Walkers”
“Ain’t our problem, jus leave her”
“What the hell is wrong with you? We can’t leave her out here, she’ll die” there was a small silence between the arguing voices.
“…What if she was bit?”
“We’ll have to check her”
“You gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me” the southern voice spat in protest.
She was slowly coming to her senses when she felt hands upon her, two pairs of hands roughly touching her arms and legs as she lay motionless on the ground now somehow lying on her back. She felt a pair of fingers coarsely slide underneath her shirt and lift the material from her stomach when her senses suddenly awoken, her eyes bolted open to see two indistinct figures leaning over her, Aria’s heart pounded with fear when her instincts possessed her. She quickly bolted up from the ground and swung her legs around knocking one of them to the ground beside her, the man made a sound of hurt as he hit the floor when she quickly grabbed her knife from her thigh holster and jumped on top of his body. Aria knelt on his arms pushing all her weight down on him as she held her knife to his neck; she sat on his chest panting heavily as the man struggled beneath her. She stared down at the man beneath her whose eyes were wide with shock which soon disappeared and was replaced with rage which burnt wildly in his dark emerald irises. Before Aria or the man could speak she felt a cold barrel of a gun being pressed into the back of her skull, it sent a violent chilling sensation rippling down her spine, it was an old sensation she hadn’t missed at all.
“Put the knife down” The man behind her growled firmly but she didn’t take her eyes of the man beneath her just gazed into his stormy eyes as he struggled against her. Aria panted violently still holding her knife tightly against the man’s throat as she scowled furiously at him; she refused to ease her knife away from his neck when he man behind her pushed his gun harder against her cranium.
“Put the knife down now. We aren’t going to hurt you” She sighed loudly inching her knife away from his throat when he suddenly jerked beneath her grabbing her waist and kicking her over his head. Aria flew to the ground re-hitting her head and dropping her knife, she felt the force of the blow reopen the wound on her head and ooze with fresh blood. Her head spun violently and so were her surroundings as she franticly searched for her knife in the grass, she struggled to pull herself to her knees as she desperately tried to focus her eyes as her surroundings all began to smudge together when she felt the Man grab hold of her hair and pull her to her feet. The man pulled on her matted blonde locks and dragged her over to the nearest tree; she struggled against his grip as she felt her hair tearing from her scalp. He threw Aria against the tree and pinned her limbs forcefully against the bark as he pushed her own knife to her throat, his face hovered close to hers as he breathed violently with rage and his dark green eyes danced with anger.
“Think ya so tough now bitch?” the southern man spat angrily, she felt the cold steel of her knife pressed against her jaw as she was shaking with disorientation. The man stared at her filth and blood covered face as her icy blue eyes penetrated his, she pushed against his body when she felt her skin ripping against the cold blade. She gritted her teeth and growled in anger and pain as she kept deep eye contact with the furious man who weighed down on her.
“Daryl” a stern voice sounded behind the man “Everyone just relax!” Aria considered fighting back as her eyes struggled on focus on the furious man pinning her down, he had her right wrist in a tight grasp pinned up against the tree, he secured both of her legs with his own pushing down on her hard which gave her zero chance of squirming free. Her mind raced trying to figure out a way of escaping, but she knew if she pushed herself too hard she would pass out again, and she didn’t want to be unconscious around these strange men. She panted desperately for breath as she stared into the eyes of the raging man, the man behind him spoke but his words became muffled as she felt her consciousness trying to slip away from her once again.
The violent tension calmed down after what seemed like an eternity; Aria felt her spinning head slowing down and her vision almost returning to normal as she fought against the pain that pulsated through her body, things were still hazy through her tired eyes, but she had to stay strong. Silence fell between them all as the only sound she could hear was the panicked deep breaths they all took; she could feel the warm breath of the mad man hitting her face as he still fiercely stared at her. Blood still trickled from her head which began dripping into her left eye blinding her but she still held her ferocious scowl as the man refused to back down. The man noticed her discomfort as the blood still dripped down her forehead into her eye, he raised his hand towards her face which she involuntary flinched at but to her surprise he didn’t hit her. He took his right palm and wiped the blood from her eye relieving her from her discomfort, she was surprised by his sudden act of kindness especially when his furious expression did not leave his harsh features.
“Daryl, let her go” the other man breathed calmly as he touched the man on the shoulder. He quickly shrugged the man’s hand of furiously, his gaze hardened as he hesitantly pulled the knife away from her neck, she exhaled deeply in relief as she felt the blade leaving her cut skin, she quickly jolted forward reaching for her knife when he quickly shoved her down into the tree and threw her to the ground. Aria landed hard on her bottom as she felt a small amount of pain vibrate through her tired limbs, she now knew she didn’t have the energy to fight back, she let her legs flop to the ground and rested her head back against the tree and sighed loudly in defeat.
“Don’t you even think about movin’ bitch” the southern man spat keeping his squinted eyes glued to her. Aria sighed raising her hands above her head signalling she had given up; she let off a small smirk even though she felt utterly hopeless but she didn’t want to show it. After a few minutes of them eagerly watching her in case she made another move she hesitantly opened her lips and spoke “W-what were you doing to me?” she breathed trying to sound stern but her voice betrayed her by breaking slightly. They both gave her a look of bewilderment as they heard the sweet British accent leave her lips; they glanced at each other suspiciously.
“We were checking for bites” said the one holding the gun “we killed the Walkers chasing you” Walkers? That must be what they call the dead ones.
“Yeah, you’re welcome” the redneck spat sarcastically before Aria even had a chance to reply. She scowled at him before looking back to the seemingly more reasonable man. She pieced together their vague conversation she heard earlier in her semiconscious state and it seemed they were being truthful, Aria felt a small wave of ease brush over her knowing that these strange men weren’t trying to hurt her, because if they were they would have done it already.
“Well, thank you” she spoke sincerely. The reasonable man took a few steps closer to Aria and took one knee down in front of her but still keeping a safe distance; he looked at her with his hard blue eyes as he examined her filthy face for a moment before he spoke.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Aria Darling” she breathed her voice quivering slightly “yours?”
“Rick Grimes” he said extending his hand for her to shake, she hesitantly stared at it for a moment before cautiously outstretching her filthy hand and taking his firmly. Rick glanced at her grime covered limbs which looked like they hadn’t been washed in weeks and when his eyes trailed up to her clothes and face which were equally as filthy and covered in rotting burgundy blood. “And you’re already acquainted with Daryl” her chapped lips twitched into a small smile when Daryl grunted angrily behind him. Rick released his grasp around Aria’s fingers and her hand fell from his and flopped to the ground beside her like dead weight, his brows furrowed together concerned by how weak and exhausted she was; regardless of how hard she was trying to hide it from them.
“You got yourself a group Aria?” Rick questioned with the concerned look still glued to his heavy brow.
“No, I’m alone” her voice cracked in defeat “have been since this all started” Rick’s brows drew closer together in a crease between his eyes, like he was thinking something over. Daryl peered at her over Rick’s shoulder his curious eyes boring into her.
“When was the last time you ate?”
“Urh, maybe a couple of days” Aria said not entirely sure as she couldn’t remember the last time she had caught or found anything to eat. Rick looked away from her for a moment before pulling a bottle from the back of his belt and unscrewing the cap before handing it to her; she took the bottle from his hand and practically inhaled its contents, she took a deep breath after her last sip feeling an instant refreshing effect from the water which was dripping down her chin “thank you” she tiredly smiled handing him back his empty bottle, he faintly smiled in return while screwing the cap back on.
“Aria, how do you feel about coming back to our camp? Just to rest of a few days” before Aria even had processed what he had just asked Daryl suddenly exploded.
“You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me?! She fuckin’ attacked me and you’re inviting her back to camp? Are you crazy?” Daryl growled throwing his arms up in an anger filled rant “We don’t know this girl, she could be dangerous!” Rick turned to look at Daryl and flashed him a disappointed expression.
“She’s barely hanging in there, are you seriously considering leaving her out here to die” Rick asked giving him a judgemental look but Daryl just kept quiet “So what do you think?” Rick asked turning back to look at her, she thought hard as she stared into Rick’s worn but honest eyes. Her instincts told her to refuse his offer but she knew she would die without their help.
“How can I trust you?” She asked her eyes peering at Rick and scrutinising his expression as she spoke.
“You’re just going to have to” Rick honestly replied “Take a leap of faith” Aria frowned slightly weighing up her options.
“I honestly don’t think I can make it” she breathed feeling her eyes beginning to lose focus.
“It’s okay, we can help you” Rick said getting to his feet and picking up her belongings, including her weapons.
“I’m not helping that crazy bitch, she can drag her own sorry ass back to camp” Daryl scoffed.
“Just shut up and help me” Rick said struggling to pull her up from the ground and keep her heavy bag on his back. Daryl frowned at them both for a moment before letting off a low growl and grabbed her other arm. Aria was pulled to her feet but swayed forward on her feet as if to fall back down, Daryl caught her around the waist and let off a highly irritated growl.
“God damn it” Aria could feel her eyes closing and her surroundings turning black, her body melted against the tree behind her and her body began falling back to the side. Daryl’s gripped tightened around her when she felt her legs lift from the ground and her body pressed up against Daryl’s chest as he held onto her tightly not letting her slip “If she tries anything though I’m throwing her to the Walkers” Aria heard faintly as her eyes closed involuntary as she felt her legs swaying as they walked.
“Sounds like someone is afraid of getting knocked on their ass again” Aria whispered chuckling to herself, she felt a scoff leave Daryl’s chest.
“You got lucky little girl”
“Indeed I did” She smiled once more before finally letting her grip go on her consciousness and just enjoying the darkness it had given her.
I've rewritten this entire series, so will be posting maybe once or twice a week.