Born To Die
Aria felt her weightless body swaying from side to side with every step Daryl took, she felt the heat radiating from his sweaty body which oddly felt relaxing to her; it warmed her cheek which was rested against his shoulder as he carried her in his arms. The rough material from his brown sleeveless shirt rubbed against her temple with every step he took, Aria felt the irritating material rubbing against the gash on her head, she felt a small amount of blood trickling from the wound on her head and seeping into his shirt. Daryl’s presence next to her was bizarrely soothing; this was the first time she had felt slightly safe in a long time; and it was being carried in a stranger’s arms who had attacked her just hours before. Daryl’s scent was also relaxing; it was a musty concoction of cigarette smoke, whiskey and sweat, she could also smell the familiar odour of rotting blood on his shirt which had become a well-known smell to her now. After some time Aria slowly opened her eyes to the first daylight, she could feel the dry blood around the corners of her eyes which made them uncomfortable to open. Her head was rested against Daryl’s shoulder when she looked up to see him squinting his eyes in the sun as he walked; she took a few minutes to examine his face closely before she spoke. Daryl’s hair was a dark chocolate colour which was slightly long and matted, it hung in-between his shadowy green eyes. His thin lips curled down slightly at the corner of his mouth which made his expression forever look harsh, small patches of dirt covered his sharp features which made his cheeks look gaunt. But under all these tough characteristics she found him strangely appealing.
“Hey” she whispered startling him slightly, he glanced down at her filthy face nestled into his shoulder before awkwardly averting his eyes away from her and staring back in front to where Rick was walking ahead “thank you”
“For what?” Daryl grunted.
“For saving me from the dead” his eyes softened at her surprising appreciation.
“S’fine” he hissed which was all she got out of him; she could tell Daryl was a very stubborn man who probably hated her for what she had done to him earlier. She scowled at him while he continued to try and ignore her gaze.
“I think I’ll be able to walk now” Aria sighed but without a word Daryl dropped her legs causing them to swing down swiftly and buckle beneath her. Aria gripped tightly onto Daryl’s shirt to stop herself from falling to the ground, but he still surprisingly held her tightly around the shoulders while she tried to control her jelly like legs. Daryl scoffed at her weakness which he clearly found comical so she threw him an agitated glance, she tried once more to stand on her sore legs but they weren’t working to her advantage; Daryl watched her struggle further before losing his temper at her obvious lack of strength.
“Jesus Christ” Daryl said crouching down and quickly scooping up her legs and pulling her back up into his arms. Aria wrapped her arm around Daryl’s neck while still gripping onto his shirt with the other, she could feel his strong arms wrapped under her legs as he pulled her further into his warm chest. She was truly grateful for Daryl’s help as without him now she’d be lying on the ground somewhere being dinner to a bunch of ravenous beasts but his terrible attitude irritated her, why was he so rude to her.
“Sorry I must have used the last of my energy knocking you down earlier” he scoffed a small amused chuckle then narrowed his eyes at her.
“Well that didn’t go too well for you did it Darlin”
“I don’t know, I am currently being carried to a safe place in the arms of a handsome stranger. So yeah, I do think it worked out well for me” Aria grinned speaking in a mocking tone, Daryl grunted with an agitated expression now glued to his dark features but Aria just smiled to herself, she leant her head back against his shoulder and watched the sun peering through the leaves of the trees above them as they walked along.
“Our camps just a while longer, when we get there you can rest and get cleaned up” Rick called behind him as he led a couple of meters in front of them.
“Thank you” Aria sound loud enough for Rick to hear “for everything you’ve done for me today, I really appreciate it” she head Daryl murmur comment under his breath “not grateful enough to walk” - but she just ignored him and pinched his chest while tightening her grip on his shirt, he made a small sound of pain and shot her a filthy look which she ignored trying to keep her smile at bay.
“You’re welcome. We couldn’t have left you behind, it wouldn’t have been right” Rick called back to her, Aria appreciated their help but she knew it was only Rick’s decision to bring her back to their camp, she could vaguely remember hearing Daryl’s irritated voice telling Rick to leave her behind for the Walkers.
With Aria’s first impression of Rick he seemed to be a genuinely good guy, which seemed like the complete opposite to Daryl. Rick had short wavy dark hair with a few flicks of grey mixed in there; and was clean shaven. He wore a police uniform with a shiny sheriff’s badge pinned to the chest of the beige shirt, he was a cop which was probably the reason why he had a conscience unlike his uncouth acquaintance. His uniform looked relatively clean compared to how filthy Aria was, he only had small patches of dirt and blood on him rather her who was absolutely coated in filth and blood, there was barely a clean patch on her body. While Aria began to fill her head with thoughts of Rick and Daryl she hadn’t noticed that the trees had opened and they were walking into a huge field, her eyes searched the large open grounds when she spotted a house and a barn in the distance, this must have been a farm. Straining her tired eyes further she could see a small congregation of tents and cars on the outskirts of a field a great distance from the house, her breathing halted when she came to the realization that Rick and Daryl were not alone. After nearing closer to the camp until they were only a small distance away, she could see about ten people working and chatting around their tents, her chest tightened with fear as she hadn’t been around people for a long time. Even in Aria’s past life she rarely spent time with other people as she often preferred to be alone, she felt her body start to involuntary shiver with anxiety as she tightened her grip on Daryl’s shirt, she felt fear grip hold of her as the thought of spending time with other people scared her more than a walking corpse ever could. Daryl could feel her uneasiness radiating from her as he felt her small body shake with dread. Her mind fluttered with thoughts when a small voice broke her panic “Dad!” a young boy around ten years old called as he ran towards them, once he neared Rick he jumped into his arms and hugged him tightly as if he hadn’t seen him in years. When Rick finally let go of his son he looked back at Daryl and Aria with a surprised look on his face and said loudly.
“Who’s that?” she looked at the small dark haired boy when she suddenly felt everyone’s eyes turn to her, she felt increasingly uneasy as her mouth became dry and her neck began to perspire. Daryl carried her into the middle of the camp where a small fire was kept low; everyone’s eyes were still glued to her as she tried to avoid everyone’s gaze.
“Everyone this is Aria” Rick said walking a few steps behind Daryl “I want you all to make her to feel welcome as she’ll be staying with us for a couple of days, so she can recover from her injuries and build her strength backup” A few of them flashes her small polite smiles which made her nerves melt away until she noticed one or two wearing scowls which kept her on edge.
“Hi” was all Aria managed to muster as fear still gripped her; everyone looked slightly confused when they heard an unexpected accent so different to theirs leave her lips.
“Hershel isn’t going to like this Rick” a blonde woman who was probably in her mid-thirties said as she crossed her arms tightly across her chest while wearing a look of disapproval.
“I’ll talk to him, he’ll be fine” Rick spoke sternly to her while Daryl carried her over to a chair and dropped her in it carelessly.
“Offft” Aria made a noise of pain as her tender body landed in the chair “thanks” she frowned but he just walked away without even saying a word. She propped her arms on the side of the chair and felt her body melt into the wicker material supporting her. Aria’s head still spun dizzily but not as much as it once did, she pulled her fingers up to the wound on her head to feel how big it was. She ran her fingers along her hairline when she found the cut; it was bigger and deeper than she thought. As she touched it a sharp pain rippled through her skull, she knew she had made a mistake when her head started to throb and it began to drip blood again. She squeezed her eyes closed for a couple of minutes trying to block out the pain when someone interrupted her silence.
“How’d that happen?” a small voice asked, she opened her sore eyes to look up in the sun to see a small figure standing in front of her, she raised her hand to shield her eyes to reveal a tiny woman with short greying hair.
“Oh, I urh” Aria stuttered “I tripped running away from some Walkers” the lady just simply nodded in return
“Here” the lady said handing her a small bowl piled high with warm meat and some scrambled eggs, she took it eagerly and smiled at the contents. Her stomach ached for the small shreds of meat which smelt amazing to her starved body; her mouth salivated at the mountain of food in her hands. “I’m Carol” she said faintly before turning and walking back to the fire.
“Thank you” Aria said weakly in return but Carol just turned her head and smiled. She began wolfing down the meat and eggs which satisfied her severe hunger almost immediately, she hadn’t felt so full in her life and it felt almost euphoric. Aria relaxed in the chair a little while longer while see finished off her food and tried to avoid people’s stares when someone called her name from behind her. She attempted to pull herself up from the chair, but her legs buckled from her weak muscles, she turned her head to see Rick jogging over to her before he knelt down in front of the chair to speak to her.
“Hershel wants to speak to you” Rick said looking up at her dirt and blood smothered face.
“Who’s Hershel?” she questioned.
“This is his land; our group might live here but we do at his say so, so he wants to speak to you” her stomach churned making the fresh food in her stomach feel uncomfortable. Thoughts shot through her mind as Rick pulled her to her feet; she thought this was Rick’s land, why would this man need to speak to her? Was he going to let her stay? Or was he going to send her away? Aria felt her nervousness come flooding back to her and Rick pulled her frail body into his and helped her walk towards the house which sat across a field, where a grey-haired man was waiting on the steps for them.
“So, you must be Aria?” The grey-haired man spoke in a serious tone which made Aria feel increasingly nervous “Come have a seat on the porch, we need to have a little talk” Rick walked her up the stairs and sat her in a sturdy white chair which was nailed to the floor. Hershel sat opposite Aria on a chair and Rick took a seat on the banister of the porch. She felt the uneasiness growing inside of her waiting for this man to speak. Hershel was a much older man, probably in his early seventies. His hair was short white and balding in the middle. He was clean shaven and wore fluorescently clean white shirt and black trousers; he looked like he wasn’t from this world, the world where they had to fight for survival every moment of their lives. But his land and home looked completely untouched by the horror which infested the rest of the world. It baffled Aria how surreal it all felt, it was a different existence here.
“So Aria” Hershel was the first to break the uncomfortable silence “Rick walked me through what happened this morning” her brows pulled together anxiously hoping that Rick hadn’t told him everything “he told you’ve been on your own since this all happened”
“You’re the first people I’ve come across since leaving the city”
“What about your family?”
“My family is back home in England”
“Hmm” Hershel sounded mulling her answer over “what were you doing here when this all happened then?”
“Working” Aria said abruptly which Hershel noticed. Aria wasn’t comfortable talking about what she had done for work, it was something she had always kept to herself, even her family were clueless to what she did for a living.
“How have you managed to survive so long on your own? Being such a young girl, it couldn’t have been easy”
“I’m a survivor; I know how to take care of myself” Aria said slightly irritated by Hershel’s accidental insinuation that being a young woman would affect her chance of survival. There was a brief silence were Hershel was thinking quietly to himself.
“Let me cut to the chase, shall I?” he said bluntly “You’ve been on your own since this all happened so I want to know if you’re able to be a part of the group. To trust you to live peacefully with everyone and not be a danger to others, including my family” Hershel’s dark honest eyes burnt into her, she thought hard and long about her answer before responding.
“I’ve been alone long before the world went to hell; I’ve always done better on my own as I don’t trust easily” Hershel frowned at her “I have no idea but to be part of a group, but I know if I want to survive I’m going to have to learn. If you give me the chance that is, but I promise I will try my best to make this work” she paused for a moment to think as he was still looking unimpressed.
“And what if this doesn’t work?”
“Then I’ll just have to leave”
“How do I know you won’t come back?” Hershel scrutinised
“Hershel she was passed out when he brought her here, she doesn’t know the way” Rick added to the conversation which made Aria suddenly realise she had absolutely no idea where she was.
“That’s fair enough then” Hershel thought hard for a few moments “you can stay with us for a while, but if there is any problems you’ll have to leave”
“Thank you” Aria beamed feeling very relieved and grateful knowing she had somewhere to stay while she healed but she didn’t have any intention for staying any longer than she had to. Aria had always preferred a lonely existence over the company of others, she found it very hard to trust the people around her, but she always knew how to play nice and pretend to be the friendly person she just wasn’t.
“Well, now that business has been taken care of” Hershel said rising from his chair “Let’s get you inside and cleaned up, I’ll stitch that nasty cut you’ve got there and have one of my daughters will show you to a shower and give you some clean clothes”
“I’d appreciate that” Aria smiled at him. Rick rose to help Aria stand but she managed to push herself up from the chair and stand on her very unsteady feet by herself. Hershel led Aria inside his home and sat her down at the dining room table where he stitched her head wound up. His home was beautiful; it looked just like Hershel, completely untouched by the mayhem of the new world they lived in. It didn’t take him long before he finished stitching Aria up and he had one of his daughter’s lead her to the bathroom upstairs, his daughters name was Beth. Beth was a pretty young girl with bright white hair which was neatly tied back and platted; her skin was almost translucent which made her enormous crystal blue eyes stand out. She was completely silent as she led Aria up the stairs and stopped outside the bathroom door, Beth stood examining Aria in her grimy clothes and her filthy face, the dirt was so thick on her face you could barely make out her beautiful features.
“Here” Beth spoke quietly as she handed Aria a pile of clean clothes and a towel.
“Thank you” Aria said politely taking the clothes while Beth still stared at her inquisitively.
“How old are you?” Beth blurted out trying to figure out her age.
“Twenty five” she replied causing Beth’s small mouth to stretch into a beaming smile.
“I’m eighteen. It’s gonna be great having a girl closer to my age in the house” she spoke happily “I don’t really have anyone to talk to other my sister Maggie and Jimmy, but that’s different” Beth paused “It’ll just be nice having another girl to talk to” Aria was taken back by Beth’s excitement about potentially having a friendship with her, she didn’t want to be rude so she replied as kindly as possible.
“Well, I’ll be here if you need me” Aria smiled weakly at Beth and she flashed another toothy grin before running of excitedly towards the stairs.
“Awesome!” Beth beamed “I’ll be outside waiting, I’ll help you back to the camp when you’re done in there. And just leave your dirty clothes on top of the laundry basket, we’ll wash them for you” Aria awkwardly smiled in return as she entered the bathroom and locked the door behind her, she hung her things on the back of the door and dragged herself over to the mirror; she was shocked at the reflection staring back at her. Aria wouldn’t have recognised herself a few months back; blood and dirt covered every inch of her face and body, this person staring back at her was a stranger. She hadn’t seen her own face in months, and it had changed radically in such a short amount of time, her once pale skin had tanned from the hideously strong Georgia sun, leaving her skin a glowing light brown colour. Her long wavy blond hair had bleached white from the sun and her face looked gaunter than she had ever seen it before, Aria didn’t like the person who she saw she was worn and tired looking, unlike her formal youthful looking self. She pulled the pink floral shower curtain back and turned the water on before she pealed her clothes off slowly exposing her battered and bruised body, only a handful of times she had seen herself so beaten and it flooded her mind with ghastly memories. She shook the haunting nightmares away as she stepped into the steaming water and closed the curtain.
The warm droplets of water trickled down her flesh sending a surge of electricity throughout her slender body; she shuddered from the feeling of pure delight. The feeling was sensational; Aria felt pleasure pulsating through her body as she began massaging her skin and revelling in the feeling of pure delight. She let her ecstasy escape her lips with a small high pitched moan which made her shudder once more; the water ran black as it washed the filth from her skin, she slid her hands down her toned torso towards her thighs as she felt engulfed by pure pleasure. She lingered longer in the warm and wet moment of peace as she washed her body and hair before she felt the water begin to slow down, she opened her eyes to look up at the strength of the water growing weaker and weaker until it eventually stopped completely. Her little piece of heaven had disappeared with the water; disappointment filled her body once again, she reluctantly stepped out from the shower and slowly began to dry her moist flesh. She wiped the steam from the mirror looking at herself once more, she smiled slightly at her clean reflection before turning around and getting changed into some clean clothes. Still holding a small smile Aria examined the clothes Beth had given her earlier. She held up a pair of light blue jeans which she pulled up her legs and fastened gently, she also had been given a white vest. Aria lowered the vest past her shoulders and pulled it over her toned stomach, the vest was bigger than expected and hung off her small frame, the arm holes were lower than expected as she saw it flashed her black bra from the sides, but there wasn’t much she could do about that. Beth had also given her a dark blue denim shirt which she tied around her waist, and last of all which she was most excited about was a fresh pair of cotton socks; she pulled them on and wiggled her toes in the soft material which made her smile grow. She pulled on her boots and tied the laces and began to dry her hair, she dried it softly with a towel trying to avoid the five stitches along her hairline as she didn’t want her wound to bleed again. Once her hair was dry she looked into the mirror once again now smiling at what looked back at her, she swished around her long wavy locks happily when there was a heavy handed knock at the door.
“Hello? Anyone in there?” An unknown deep male voice called out behind the white wooden door. Aria moved away from the mirror and cautiously turned the lock and pulled the door open to reveal An unknown man stood tall in the doorway, he had dark shaven hair and big brown eyes to match which scanned her as she examined him, his nose was crooked which gave him a handsome rugged look, he had plump lips which were pouted into a charming half smile. He wore a blue police t-shirt which clung tightly to his chiselled chest, his biceps almost erupting from the shirt seems. The stranger looked Aria up and down with his mouth hanging open slightly before it turned into a crooked smile; he stared at her curves before her icy blue eyes caught his attention where he seemed lost for a few moments. He was a very attractive man, not enough to tempt her, but at least he was something nice to look at while she was here.
“Well hello there” the man smiled removing his eager eyes from hers and began trailing them over her body once more “I’m Shane” he extended his upturned palm for Aria to take.
“Aria” she breathed reluctantly taking his hand, his eyebrows raised at her foreign accent as he shook her hand lightly but refused to let it go once the handshake ended, he just held her hand gently skimming his thumb over her knuckles.
“Pleasure to meet you” he grinned. Aria could sense that he was a charmer by his body language, the way he spoke, she knew he was the kind of man that if he wanted something, he would get it.
“So where did you come from beautiful?” he questioned. Aria could sense there was an arrogant air about him; he was cocky and trying too hard to be charming but she knew she had to act friendly so just let it roll off her back. She smiled embarrassingly in return pulling her hand back from his grasp.
“Oh I urm” Aria hesitated “Rick and Daryl saved me from some dead ones, They said I could stay for a while” Shane just smiled at her happily “Well, urh, let me get out of your way” Aria smiled awkwardly. She said taking a few steps forward but her weak legs gave way and she fell into the door frame.
“Woah careful there” Shane said reaching out and grabbing her arm supporting her “you need a hand?” she didn’t particularly want to accept his offer as she felt somewhat uncomfortable with the thought of another stranger being so close to her, but she knew if she didn’t accept his help it would take her an awfully long time to get back to the campsite on her own.
“Please” she smiled politely as he helped her straighten up. Shane grabbed her hand and wrapped it over his large shoulders; he kept her hand there holding it in his. His hand slivered around her waist and grasped her tightly before pulling her into his muscular body. He smiled flirtatiously as he led her slowly down the stairs and out the front door.
“So what you doing in Georgia?” he asked making small talk as they began the long walk across the field towards the camp “as I can tell from your accent you aren’t from around here”
“I was in Atlanta for work”
“So what did you do?” he asked
“Does that really matter anymore” she said turning her face slightly towards his and smiling
“I suppose not” he chuckled looking directly at her lips and staring for a moment. Shane seemed nice enough, but he made her feel slightly uncomfortable, his looks lingered for far too long and his hands occasionally wandered lower on her hip. Aria was quickly beginning to realise how much of a flirt he was, she didn’t mind an occasional flirt, but he was being a too for forward for her liking, especially since she had only just met him. She sensed it was going to be a very long walk to the camp.