Dixons Don't Cry
I had woken up that morning, feeling empty and tired. I had stayed up late on watch shift until Rick came to relieve me of duty, insisting I slept. Sleep did not come easy, as all I could think about was Sophia and her not being safe. Uncle Daryl was relieved of watch duty as well, and his presence made sleep come a lot easier. Uncle Daryl and I both crashed in the back of an abandoned truck bed, using our bags as pillows and our crossbows propped on the sides.
After waking and rubbing my eyes, noticing Uncle Daryl was already up and about, I dug through the bags he had collected, and grabbed some things before heading to the RV bathroom to change. I had changed into new black leggings that were a size too big but still nice, and a new green shirt with a weird grey mouse design that was a bit baggy, since it was a men's small; Uncle Daryl had found bags of clothes for me to sort through in his hunt. I liked the foresty color of the green and they grey mouse silhouette, and I liked that it let air through in the hot weather. I had shoved on my normal brown hunting boots and stepped out of the tent with a water bottle to brush my teeth. When I had finished, I tied my hair up in a ponytail, went back to grab my backpack and crossbow with the quiver, before heading to Rick and Shane and Uncle Daryl, who were going over the arsenal of melee weapons.
As I approached, Rick nodded at me, and I gave him a smile. "You look tired," Rick commented, placing a hand on my back as I stood in between him and Uncle Daryl.
I shrugged, and his hand dropped. "Been worse. When are we gonna start the search?" I asked him, reaching over to pick up a rather large knife and weighing it in my hand. I set my bow down on the side as I flipped the knife around in my hand.
I set it down as Shane answered," Soon as everyone gets over here, we're gonna be dividing weapons up, then we'll all head out." I nodded and looked to Uncle Daryl, squinting slightly with the sun. Shane left to go take care of Andrea since her and Dale's voices were getting raised.
"Carl found these," Rick told me as I picked up a hatchet.
"No kiddin'?" I asked with a smile. It was a hell of a find; he scavenged cars like I showed him.
"Wanted to carry a hatchet, but Lori told him no," Rick said. I nodded, biting my lip to contain a small smile. What Lori didn't know was about the swiss army knife I let him keep, but that was our little secret. I bet he wanted to hatchet to go with it.
I changed the subject off of that. "Are we gonna split up?" I asked Uncle Daryl. He shrugged and I nodded. He looked really tired, and if I looked as tired as him, then I probably looked like shit. He then told me," I got ya guns, you'll only carry one today, to make sure not everyone is firing off like crazy." I nodded in understanding.
"Only you, Daryl, Shane, and I will be carrying, not everybody else knows how to properly use one," Rick added, and I understood that one completely. We didn't need to risk shots that might not even hit the targets.
Shane came back and the group started to gather around. I saw Carol and Lori on my side, and I moved around Rick to get to Carol. She held her arms out, and I awkwardly went into her hug, feeling the sadness radiating off of her. I wasn't used to hugs from other women, or even anyone in general. I was used to giving my uncle and dad quick hugs or kisses on the cheeks, which they'd only sometimes reciprocate, and only because I was their girl. "Don't worry Carol, we'll find her today," I reassured her, and she squeezed me once before releasing me and giving me a soft smile.
"Alright, everybody grab a weapon!" Shane called. Uncle Daryl handed me one of my handguns in its holster, and I slipped it around my hips, resting it on my right.
"These aren't the kind of weapons we need. Where are the guns?" Andrea complained, and I rolled my eyes as I clipped the holster in place. Now I see why we needed the limited carrying rule. Well, there goes cool Andrea, and here comes bitchy Andrea. I'm pretty sure she was sore at Dale for saving her life (or her saving his, as she likes to say), and even though she did have a choice, I couldn't help but think she should be a little more grateful that somebody cared enough to almost die for her. Now she was taking her anger out on everybody else.
"Rick, Daryl, Tessa, and I are the only ones who'll be carrying. We can't have everyone getting trigger happy every time the wind rustles," Shane answered firmly, sporting his own 'I'm a cop voice,' much like Rick did the other day when I first met him. Wow, that was only about a week ago I think, was Dad already gone so long? My heart thumped, silently hoping that he made it out okay, that he might find my message, that only having one hand didn't end up killing him.
Andrea's snarky voice cut me out of my thoughts. " Why does she get a gun? She's a kid!" she sneered at me, eyeing the gun on my hip.
"I've been able to shoot since I was twelve!" I snapped at her. Who did she think she was? We've all lost somebody, where does she get off?
"Oh please, you're still a kid-"
"You wanna get another black eye? I'll play ball, bitch-" I started, moving forward, but Rick grabbed my shoulder and Shane grabbed Andrea's.
"Stop acting like this! We have more important things to worry about than who has a gun! A little girl is missing!" Rick scolded, and I instantly frowned, feeling a bit guilty. I slunk back and Rick released me from his grip. "Tess gets to carry because she knows how to shoot, no more questions," Rick finished, making Andrea huff and roll her eyes dramatically, and I glared her down.
"He's right. Let Rick and Shane handle the guns Andrea," Dale told her, and she just huffed again. Ugh.
"Say someone fires a gun at the wrong minute and a herd is passing through, see, then everybody dies. So you need to get over it," Shane told her, and she finally gave up. I laughed in my head and smirked. Looks like that time of good vibes between us was over.
"The plan is to take the creek bed up about five miles, then turn around and come back the other side. Chances are she'll be by the creek; it's her only landmark," Uncle Daryl told everybody, and we all nodded, understanding. Uncle Daryl started to walk, and I snatched up my crossbow to fall into step with him.
"Gettin' into it again, Tessa May?" Uncle Daryl asked, a slight tease in his tone.
I rolled my eyes. "Fuckin' bitch man. I coulda shot her between the eyes at fourteen without even looking!" I exaggerated just a bit, only on the not looking part. Uncle Daryl snorted.
Everyone had grabbed a weapon and followed behind, except for Dale and T-Dog, who had been cut really badly as Uncle Daryl told me. They'd be guarding the RV and trying to get it fixed so we could leave when we came back with Sophia. Rick told everybody to keep together and to stay sharp.
And our search began. Uncle Daryl and I led the group forward, moving down to the creek to start up the tracks. We kept our voices low and between each other, whispering and pointing at the tracks as we saw them. They were faint but still a bit visible, even more so now that we had more light. I tried not to focus on Sophia and how she may be fairing, but only focus on locating her. If I thought too much about her, it might make me unable to focus on the tracks.
Suddenly he stopped and pointed to a tent, and I stopped behind him and crouched down as well. I raised my crossbow up and kept it on the tent, ready for anything. "She could be in there," I whispered.
"Could be a buncha things in there," Uncle Daryl said back. He started to walk forward, and I stood, but still slightly crouched. Carol moved forward to follow him, but I stopped her by holding my arm out. "Let him make sure its safe first," I told her, and she nodded, worry on her features. I pushed the image of the little girl out of my head, not allowing it to make me unfocused. My heart was beating fast with anticipation as Rick, Shane, and I slowly moved forward while Uncle Daryl was trying to peek in the tent. I led the pack, my crossbow up with my head tilted, aiming. I was ready for anything to come out if Uncle Daryl couldn't handle it with the knife.
"Is she in there?" Carol asked.
"Don't know," I told her as Uncle Daryl shrugged, showing he couldn't see inside.
"Carol, come here," Rick said, and she moved forward with him, in front of me. "Call out softly, if she's in there, your voice is the first she should hear." Uncle Daryl stood at the ready on the side of the tent entrance, knife raised, just in case whatever could be in there was not our Soph. She nodded, and softly began calling out. My blood ran cold when there was no response, not even any sign of movement. She couldn't be in there, at least alive. Rick moved forward towards the tent, and Carol fell back to me, leaning into my side. I was a bit taller than her, so her head leaned on my shoulder comfortably. We watched as Rick had his gun at the ready and Uncle Daryl opened the tent flap, before walking in. Rick began coughing and sputtering, and my nose wrinkled, picking up the light scent of the tent from so far away.
"What is it?" I asked Rick softly.
He shook his head and told me," I don't know, the smell is horrible, whatever it is." I nodded and looked to the tent where Uncle Daryl still had not come out.
Carol and I had spoken at the same time. I looked to the skinny, short-haired woman, who had worry etched upon her face. I imagine I looked about the same too. Only sleep deprived added to it. Finally Uncle Daryl emerged without anybody, shaking his head. "It ain't her." Carol let out a sharp breath and looked back to Lori, and then to me. I just looked down to the ground, shaking my head. Of course it wasn't her, we couldn't have good luck for once, huh?
"What's in there?" Andrea asked, now pushing past me and pissing me off with her presence again. Uncle Daryl looked back before grabbing his crossbow and making sure a bolt was in the chamber. I looked to mine as well, and check that my one was ready and two were loaded up.
"Some guy, did what Jenner said. 'Opted out', ain't that what he called it?" Uncle Daryl answered, throwing the strap of his bow over his shoulder. I shuddered, and there was a small silence except for Carol's whimpers as Lori held her. I couldn't imagine 'opting out'; it was just in my nature and how I was raised: to survive. I shook my head of thought and took a step forward, ready to go on with the search.
A loud, ringing bell rang through the woods, and all of our heads snapped to the direction it seemed to be coming from. Without any thought, I began running to the sound, and I could hear everybody start to follow. With subconscious thought, I ran and jumped over stray rocks and branches, going after the sound. We reached a small patch in the trees where the sound's direction was slightly indistinguishable. I turned in all directions, trying to hear the sound. "Where the fuck is it?" I asked, craning my ears.
"I think that way, I'm pretty sure," Rick said and pointed a direction as everybody else tried to find one.
Shane growled out," Damn it's hard to tell out here"
"If we hear them maybe Sophia does!" Carol said, her voice now more hopeful.
"Someone's rining those bells, maybe calling others?" Glenn suggested, trying to make everybody else feel positive. He came up next to me and gave a small smile, but I only nodded. Now was not the time to try and talk to me Glenn, the boy needed to learn damn timing.
Andrea's voice added," Or signaling they found her?"
"She could be ringing them herself, come on!" Rick took off again and we all followed. We finally broke through the brush, and I could tell we were getting close to being out of the woods by the way it started to thin. I threw my crossbow over my back as we ran, my breaths getting heavy along with the others. Glenn was coughing a bit from besides me. Finally we broke through the woods, and there in clear view was a tall, white church with a cemetery in front.
"That can't be it, there's no steeple, no bells!" Shane said, but I was still moving forward, pressing through the graves, and Rick ignored him too and followed after. He kept repeating himself, but we all ignored it as the group moved together, ready to check the church for Sophia. We reached the front and readied our weapons, and Rick slowly opened the door.
I saw a few figured sitting in the pews, and my heart thumped with hope. Maybe they had seen Soph? Those thoughts quickly vanished as the figures stood and their rotted features snapped at up. They were easy to take out as they didn't give to much effort, and Rick, Shane, and my uncle took them down. I started walking down the side and looked, searching for any place Sophia could be.
"Yo JC, you takin' any requests?" I heard Uncle Daryl say from near me, and I looked to see him looking at the Jesus crucifix. I shook my head and moved around him. Not the time for jokes about Jesus, Uncle Daryl.
"SOPHIA!" Rick shouted through the church.
"SOPH!" I called out too, running up into alter and looking for any places that the small girl could hide. She had to be here, she just had to be.
"I'm telling you Rick, it's the wrong church. There's no steeple!" Shane said loudly.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
The bells rang again, and we all ran outside to check for the noise, and my heart thumped loudly in my chest. She could be ringing them, she could be rining them. But as we rounded to the side of the church, and Glenn pulled out wires from a box that killed the bells, my heart sank. I let out small breaths and looked to the ground, my hope failing me. I looked back to Glenn and he looked at me with sympathy.
"A timer. It's on a timer," Uncle Daryl said in between breaths. I heard a sigh, and Carol's soft voice say," I'm gonna go inside for a bit."
I stood there as the others moved, just looking at Glenn. His expression was apologetic, and I knew that it was not only for the missing Soph. I nodded at him, forgiving him in that moment, because I knew that even if I wasn't sure about my feelings for Glenn anymore, that if he was lost or gone, I would be doing everything to find him and bring him back. He was at least my friend, my best friend even. The first one I've ever really had. Kaylee Turner, who I sometimes hung around with and went to parties or down to the cities with, was hardly a friend at all, just somebody to keep company because I couldn't make friends, and the feeling was mutual.
Glenn nodded back at me with a small smile, and I knew he felt the same.
Slowly, we went back into the church, where I could hear Carol softly praying, and it broke my heart to hear her words. She and Lori sat back on a bench together, Rick was in the back of the room with Carl, and Uncle Daryl was standing at the side. It was silence in the hall.
I moved away from Glenn and walked down the aisle slowly, my eyes on the statue of Jesus. I broke past the pews and up to the middle of the altar. I set my crossbow down, and got on my knees in front of the alter, resting my elbows on the cushion and wrapping my hands together. I leaned my head on them, just thinking for a minute. Dad wasn't a very good man, but he did love God, and we would go to church together sometimes, though not often. Still, he did know the stories and verses, and he had passed those into me when we were alone and he was sober. Uncle Daryl probably didn't know about the times on rare Sundays when Daddy would have his Bible open and read things to me. It was something we did together, and though it didn't happen a lot, it still meant more to me now than ever.
"Forgive me Father," I whispered softly to myself, shutting my eyes tight. "I know I haven't been the best, but I've been enough. I've done good. You took my daddy away from me, and I know he wasn't good, but he loved you, and I don't know if you're trying to teach us something, but I don't see why taking away Sophia does any good." My voice was breaking up into tears now, and even though I was whispering, I felt like my words echoed through the room because of the silence. "She's my sister, please keep her safe. And keep Daddy safe, because running around with one hand during this isn't good; he's a man of God, ya know that. Uncle Daryl is all I have left, make sure he stays safe too. I don't care about me, but keep my family safe. That's all I want. Show me the way, give me what I need to survive." I knelt there for a few minutes, just softly breathing and holding back my tears, before slowly rising, picking up my crossbow as I stood.
I turned and walked down the aisle once more, and Lori and Carol followed behind me. Uncle Daryl was next to me as I hit the door, and he wrapped an arm around me, and I leaned into him for support. The group met outside, and when everyone was present, Shane spoke up," Alright y'all listen up. Y'all gotta follow the creek bed back, okay?" He looked to Uncle Daryl and told him," Daryl, you're in charge. Me and Rick are just gonna hang back to search this area another hour or so, just to be thorough."
Uncle Daryl's arm dropped from my shoulders, and his eyebrows furrowed. "Splittin' us up? Ya sure?"
"Yeah, we'll catch up with you later."
"I wanna stay too." Everybody looked to Carl, who was looking at his dad. "I'm her friend," he said with determination.
"I'll stay too. I'm not as good as Uncle Daryl, but I can track if we come across anything," I spoke up, stepping forward slightly. Rick smiled lightly and nodded to me. I looked to Lori and took another step. "I can keep an extra eye on him," I told her. Lori looked to me, and then to Rick, who was looking to her for permission, before agreeing with a small smile.
"Just be careful, okay?" She hugged Carl and Rick held out his gun to her.
"Here, take this, remember how to use it?"
"I'm not taking your gun and leaving you unarmed," Lori refused, but then Uncle Daryl handed her a gun he said was spare. I raised my eyebrows at that, since it didn't look like my other gun. Uncle Daryl turned back to me and I grabbed his shoulders and went on my tip-toes to give him a quick kiss on the cheek, before he left off for the forest. The rest of the group followed behind him except for Rick, Shane, Carl, and I.
"Give me a minute?" Rick asked before walking into the church. Shane moved on the steps and motioned for us to follow, and I gave Carl a light smile as we followed behind him. I moved closer and ruffled little Carl's hair, and he beamed up at me. "Thanks," he told me.
"For what, kid?"
"I don't think Mom would have let me go if you didn't say you were going," he told me.
I shrugged and shook my head. "She prolly would have, I only volunteered to help with Soph. We gotta make sure she's okay," I told him. He smiled again.
"She'll be okay, we'll find her, and then you can teach us how to look for stuff in the forest like you said at the quarry."
"Maybe I'll teach you two how to skin, that's something you gotta know." Carl dragged out the word 'cool' at that, and I laughed lightly, shaking my head. I looked up to Deputy Dipshit, and saw he was looking at me funny. I gave him a questioning look, and he just shook his head and looked behind me. Fucking weirdo.
"Get what you needed?" Shane asked, and I turned my head to see Rick was now coming back.
"I guess I'll find out." He walked past us and we followed behind him. I put my crossbow over my shoulder, tired of carrying it.
I mostly stayed with Carl and talked to him, telling him stupid stories about times we went camping. He was laughing lightly with me as I went into detail about my tough as nails Dad getting spooked by a skunk. Branches snapped to our left and I held out my hand and stopped Carl from moving. But out into the clearing moved a small buck. Carl gasped in surprise and I let out a deep breath, thinking about how great that would be to eat. But those thoughts went away as Carl moved forward, pulling at my hand with him. He wanted to get closer. I smiled and looked to Rick and Shane, who were watching us in almost wonder. A real, wide smile broke across my face and I turned back to the deer. I pulled on Carl's hand and he looked up to me, and I put my index finger to my lips, telling him to be quiet. He nodded and we slowly moved forward, our hands clutched. It didn’t bother me anymore—the contact with the people of the camp, the kids especially. They were like little siblings I could have never had, that I got to teach. It seemed that Carl wasn’t afraid of me or thought I was weird. In this moment, moving slowly towards the deer, we were just together.
He let go of my hand and kept moving onward, extending his hand to the buck that was now looking in our direction. It was almost beautiful, how he looked, a little boy and the big deer, with the sun on them. He was wearing the new jacket Soph found him. The image was one that you just couldn't make up.
The image turned to one of horror when Carl froze for a second, and he and the deer both fell flat. I looked in shock to Carl, now lying on the floor, blood flooding his shirt. Rick and Shane rushed forward. I choked on my scream and moved forward too, trying to help. Tears were flooding out of my eyes at the small boy lying on the forest floor, who just a minute before was the image of perfection. Rick was shouting, and everything was a panic. Carl had been shot.
Finally the farm was in sight. My breathing was heavy as I ran forward, choking on my sobs. We had been running for some time, and I was at the head of the pack. I was to run forward first and find Hershel, and prepare him for Rick who was behind me and carrying the blood and shot Carl, and then Shane had Otis and my crossbow in the rear. I was way ahead since I had no load to carry, and I could see someone on the porch. I only had a little ways to go, so I pushed my screaming legs forward, waving my arms to get her attention. I got past the fence and was now on the last stretch of land.
She saw me and as I neared I could see her holding up binoculars. I finally reached the house and she lowered them. The woman was pretty with short hair, and she was looking at me with wariness. I was gasping for breath and leaned forward on my knees, trying to get the oxygen back into me. "Who are you? What's going on?" she demanded, but her voice had worry. I waved my hand over to the field I had just run through, trying to point her in that direction to look.
I finally caught my breath and looked up as she was grabbing them. "Your man shot him, he shot him! He said to look for Hershel!" I cried, the tears still flowing.
"Oh my God! DAD!" she screamed, dropping the binoculars to her side and running into the house. I looked out to the field and Rick was now past the fence, rushing over with the limp Carl in his arms. Out from the house came an old man, the brown haired woman, an older looking woman, and then two teenage kids, a boy who was holding a bat and a young blonde.
"He bit?” the old man shouted out to the now approaching Rick.
"Shot, by your man!"
"Otis?" the woman gasped.
“He said to find Hershel, is that you? Help me, help my boy!” Rick yelled, clutching the still-bleeding Carl in his arms. I calm my crying finally.
"Help him! He's dying!" I yelled, and Hershel told Rick to bring him in. Everybody rushed in. Hershel was calling out to his family for medical supplies.
“Patricia, I’ll need my full kit. Maggie, painkillers, coagulates—grab everything,” Hershel said as he led Rick into a spare room, and I followed behind trying to see if there was anything I could do. “ –Clean towels, sheets, alcohol.” Hershel made it to the bed and stripped off the sheets, and I started helping with the pillows and blankets while Rick laid him down. “In here,” Hershel said. “Pillowcase.”
I started grabbing it as he instructed and Rick asked in a dead voice,” He alive?”
“Pillowcase, quick.” I helped with the pillowcase and looked to Hershel as Rick asked again,” Is he alive?”
“Fold it, make a pad,” Hershel ignored him and instructed me, and I listened, folding it and handing it to him. “Put pressure on the wound,” Hershel instructed, passing the duty off to Rick. I stepped back as Patricia—who was the older woman—and Maggie—I guessed was the one from the porch—entered the room with medical supplies. Hershel was handed a stethoscope and put it on, quickly going to check Carl’s heartbeat. I locked my eyes on his small face and placed a hand on his cheek, my breathing heavy as I looked at him; tears pricked in my eyes, afraid of the worst.
“I’ve got a heartbeat, it’s faint,” Hershel finally said, and Rick and I both let out breaths of relief, me laughing slightly as I let out my breath. He had a heartbeat, Carl was alive, he was okay. “I got it, step back,” Hershel told Rick and he removed his hands, and I backed from my side of the bed too. I moved around to get to Rick, and placed my hand on his arm. He subconsciously grabbed me and pulled me to his side, and I placed my hands on his side in a comforting gesture, both of us just looking for something to hold on to.
“We need some space,” Maggie told us, and we backed out of her way as she moved with the drip.
“Your names?” Hershel asked.
“Rick.” His voice was dead of emotion.
“I’m Rick,” he repeated, nodding. I gripped into his shirt, watching as the started working on Carl. Oh God, I felt sick.
“Tess,” I answered, my voice cracking. I looked away, biting my lip and trying to hold back a new wave of tears.
“Well, we’re going to do everything we can, okay? You need to give me some room. Now.”
“Come on Rick,” I said, tugging him back and making him give the family some room to work on Carl. Rick looked so distraught, and I knew I had to keep it in for him. While I cared for Carl and knew now after I saw him fall to the ground shot that I loved him, Rick was his dad, and I needed to keep it together for him. Rick dropped his arm from around me and looked out the window, where we heard Shane and the man—Otis—outside. Rick left the room, and I watched him walk out. I turned to the bed and walked a little closer where there was free space.
“Anything I can do? I can help,” I told him. The old man looked to me as he was trying to examine the bullet wound.
“You can help me get the IV up,” Maggie said, and I moved around Hershel to help her get the drip ready.
“Here, we’ll tie it to the lamp,” I said, and she nodded. She grabbed the IV bag and I started on untangling the rubber cord.
Rick came back in as Maggie and I finished our silent work in tying up the IV for Carl. Hershel asked him,” You know his blood type?”
“A Positive, same as mine,” Rick answered. I looked up as Hershel nodded slightly at him.
“That’s fortunate. Don’t wander far, I’m gonna need you.”
“I can give blood too,” I said, standing up now and moving back to Rick and out of the way.
“You’re A Positive too?”
“Nah, O, universal donor.”
“And you’re sure?”
“Blood drives at school, and gave my daddy blood when he got in an accident, too,” I reassured him. I wouldn’t risk it if I didn’t know for sure, but after all the fights my dad had gotten into, and the one awful motorcycle accident that nearly killed him, and then donating blood for the school blood drives, I knew my blood type. Plus, in AP Biology we did blood-typing, which was where I got my squeamishness from needles from after Johnny Altman accidently made blood shoot out of where he pricked his finger.
“Well,” Hershel said with a nod,” this boy is very lucky. I’ll need both of you, he’ll need a lot of blood.” He looked to Otis now and asked what happened. Otis told that he was tracking a buck and shot it, and the bullet went clean through. “The deer slowed the bullet down, which certainly saved his life. But it did not go through clean, it broke up into pieces.”
“Oh God,” I said, shaking my head. Rick’s arm went around me and I put my head into his side. Hershel was counting six pieces of bullet fragment in Carl’s wound. Rick then said that Lori didn’t know, and I finally remembered the woman I told that I would keep extra eyes on Carl. Shane came around to Rick’s other side and tried to get him to calm, but now Rick was crying. I let go as Shane led Rick out of the room.
“Is there anything I can do?” I asked, my voice sounding cracked from holding in my sobs.
“Come here, hold pressure while I get my sutures ready to remove fragments. Maggie, get the IV into him,” Hershel said. I moved to the opposite side of the bed next to Hershel and pressed down the pillowcase, holding pressure to help stop the bleeding. Hershel was getting his sutures sterilized as Maggie, on his other side, as getting the drip into Carl.
When he finished sterilizing after a minute, and Maggie got the drip prepared in another minute, Hershel tapped my arm and I removed the pillowcase, and got out of the way, going to the opposite side of the bed where nobody was. He loomed over and eyed the wound, before he started to go for the first piece. Carl awoke then, and started crying in pain before Hershel could get into it. Maggie stood to go get Rick, and my heart broke.
I climbed onto the other side of the bed, my tears falling now hearing his cries of pain.
That would never be a sound somebody could get used to hearing, or not think was heartbreaking. The sound of any child or any person screaming was not something you could ignore. I tried shushing him in a light tone, running my hand through his hair to comfort him, he still cried.
“He needs blood,” Hershel told Rick as he entered with Shane. To Shane and I he said,” You, hold him down. And you girl, try to keep him calm.” Shane moved next to me to hold him down, and I kept running my hand through his hair, saying ‘shhh’ as Hershel went to grab the piece. I started sobbing when his groans changed to screams for his dad.
“Almost there,” Hershel said as he worked.
“Carl, you’re okay kid,” I told him through my sobs. This was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever had to hear or witness. I couldn’t help but cry and say useless things to him, trying to calm the boy down, but he was in too much pain, and kept screaming as Hershel dug into the wound.
“STOP! YOU’RE KILLING HIM!” Rick screamed, the needle still not in him.
“Rick, do you want him to live?” Hershel yelled while still working.
“He needs blood!” Patricia told him.
“DO IT NOW!” Shane yelled.
“DAD!” Carl screamed again.
“You’re okay, buddy, you’ll be okay,” I said as I leaned closer, my hand on his face. His cries were quieter. “Tess, Tess,” he cried out, hearing my voice.
“You’re okay, buddy, you’re—“ Carl’s head lolled to the side and his screams stopped.
“Wait, wait, hey!” Shane started, his voice filling with strain.
“Carl, Carl?” I cried out. Oh God, oh God, was he dead?
Hershel told us,” He passed out.” I let out a choked breath of relief. Finally, Hershel held up the bullet fragment with the now bloody sutures. We all looked at it. “One down, five to go.”
We moved around to get the IV and drip into Carl, and Rick sat in the chair next to the bed. I sat on the bed next to Carl, just staring at him blankly. Maggie had given me a wet cloth to wipe the sweat from his forehead. Rick was insisting that he had to get Lori, that she needed to know. But we all knew that he couldn’t leave since Carl needed his blood. Even with me giving after Rick, we would still need more, and he couldn’t leave, nor could I. Rick stood and left the room with Shane to figure out what to do, and I stood from my spot. “Alright, Doc, get me hooked up,” I said, making my way around the bed to claim Rick’s seat.
Patricia cleaned the needle of Rick’s blood, and I held my arm out straight and leaned my head back and closing my eyes so I didn’t have to look. I felt the prick of the needle going into my arm and winced. Hershel started pumping, and I felt the blood start to steadily rush out of my arm and into the tube. I sighed and kept my head back. “I’ll be back. You keep that in and don’t move, he needs as much as he can get.” I nodded to Hershel, but did not move. He left the room then along with Patricia, and I could hear them start talking in the other room, though I couldn’t tell what they were saying.
I sighed and started talking to the passed out Carl. “You’ll be alright, I’ll make sure of it, buddy. When you get out of this bed, I promise I’ll teach you to skin just like I said, and when we find Sophia, maybe we can all share a tent for a night and I’ll show ya how to make hand shadows. I’ll tell ya some of the Native American stories Uncle Daryl taught me, maybe even have him tell ‘em, he’s better at tellin’ tha stories.”
I sighed and opened my eyes and looked as his sleeping figure. His chest was rising and falling with his drawn out breaths. It was then I realized that I not only loved Carl from getting to know him better these past few weeks, but that I would give as much as he needed to stay alive. I thought about the knife in his pocket, and I carefully moved closer, trying not to tug the IV. I reached over with my right arm and dug into his right pocket, and felt the swiss army knife. I took it out of his pocket and sat back down. I tucked it into my boot. I didn’t want him to get changed and them find the knife; he didn’t need the trouble.
After a few minutes of silence, the blonde and brunette teenagers walked in. I looked to them, my eyes feeling tired as I looked to them. The blonde moved and sat on the edge of the bed while the boy stood by the window and looked out. “I’m Beth Greene,” the blonde introduced.
“Tessa Dixon,” I introduced back, my voice sounding weak and small with my exhaustion.
“Otis and your other man are going out to get medical supplies for Carl’s surgery, and then Maggie is going to get Rick’s wife and the rest of your group,” Beth told me. I nodded, and my eyes fell on the boy in the back. I know I’m not much older, but these two still looked younger. But hell, I’m sure that when I cleaned up, I looked younger too.
“Jimmy, I’m Beth’s boyfriend,” he told me, noticing how I raised my eyebrows at him since he didn’t say anything. I nodded and looked back to Carl.
Beth asked and scooted closer,” Is he your brother?”
I shook my head and looked back to the sweet looking girl. “Nah, just a member of my group. Like a brotha now though.” She nodded in understanding. She stood and told me she would go see if her dad was coming back soon, and the two left. She seemed nice, at least. I leaned my head back again and sighed. I was starting to feel a little bit dizzy from the blood I was giving, but I knew that I could give more. I always got dizzy even when I only gave a little bit of blood and not even the full pint.
Hershel came back in with Rick to check on Carl a minute later. “You look mighty pale, miss,” he commented as he checked the drip.
“Tess, please, sir,” I told him, not opening my eyes. “I always get like this, it’s fine.”
“Have you eaten today, Tess?” Rick asked.
I shook my head slightly, feeling even more lightheaded than a few minutes ago. I felt Hershel starting to pull my IV. My eyes shot open and I looked at the old man questioningly. “What tha hell?”
“Watch your language in my house, Tess. And I can’t have you giving blood when you haven’t ate; you two have already given enough to last for a while. Now, go into the kitchen and Patricia will get you something to eat, and then if you go upstairs, you can sleep in Beth’s bed if she allows.”
“I don’t need sleep, really—“
“You didn’t sleep until late last night, and only got a few hours Tess, I’ll be damned if I don’t watch you while Daryl isn’t here, now go,” Rick commanded. I didn’t feel like fighting with him so I stood up, and he caught me when I nearly collapsed. I guess I gave more blood than I thought I did. Rick led me to the kitchen and Patricia handed me some fruits and fresh bread to eat, and I started crying when I took a bite of the bread. I had thought I’d never have fresh bread again, or fresh fruits.
After eating a bit, Rick led me upstairs where Beth and Jimmy were hanging out. She gladly agreed to let me sleep in her bed, and Rick left me with them. Before I laid down though, Beth stopped me with a small smile. “I’ll let you borrow some clothes. You can shower and get cleaned up before ya sleep.” I almost started crying again when she led me to the bathroom and turned on the shower, explaining they had water from pumps.
I took a fifteen minute shower, crying as the water washed away the dirt and blood and guts and grimes from my body and hair. When I stepped out, clean and shaved thanks to Beth, I saw that she had laid out fresh towels and pajama clothes of hers to let me borrow. I slipped on the flannel pants that reminded me so much of mine back home, and the large t-shirt. We were about the same size, and it made me smile to think that she liked bigger shirts like me.
I walked back to her room and she greeted me with a smile. “You look better,” she commented, and I thanked her softly. I laid in her bed and she sat on the other side of where I was, giving me room. I rolled onto my stomach, tucking my arms under my chest. Her bed was soft and comfortable. I felt her throw a blanket over me, and her soft voice said to sleep well. And so I did.
NotesExtra long chapter, almost double my usual size--fifteen pages on word and over 7000 words! I could have broken it up into two chapters, but I decided to keep it as one. Hope you love it like I do. I love how Tess is starting to realize how much she loves the kids, and how she and Rick leaned on each other for comfort. Character development *whooshwhooshwhoosh* The next chapter is either going to skip ahead a few days, or it's going to start with a flashback from Merle's accident and then go on with the story a few days ahead. I can't wait for a particular scene, I'm super excited to bring in the next main character for this story ;) Review!
BTW I got my inspiration for Daryl knowing Native American stories from another fic about Daryl's daughter called 'Coming Undone' on fanfiction.net -- I highly recommend it, it was awesome!