Dixons Don't Cry
I woke up, blinking the sleep out of my eyes. I groaned as my head ached from the growing hangover; did Jenner have some Advil or something? One of dad's prescription painkillers for his migraines would be awesome right now. Reluctantly, I sat up and rubbed my eyes, and all at once, the events of last night all came back.
My face flushed as I remembered awkward Glenn and our heated kiss. But what did this all mean? Did I even like Glenn, or was it mostly the wine fueled by hormones? I sighed and laid back on the bed for a second, covering my eyes. I'd talk to him, see what he felt. I smiled a bit and sat up once more, flinging myself out of the covers. I grabbed a change of clothes and took another shower, sighing each time the hot water new hit a spot on my body; I could get used to this.
I quickly got changed, reveling in the feeling of clean from my body and clothes. I let my hair hang down to air-dry, it already starting to curl naturally after I rung it out with a towel.
I made my way to the room we were in the night before eating, and it seems mostly everybody was up but me. "Eggs?" T-Dog asked and I eagerly nodded, taking the plate and sitting next to Glenn, who had his face planted on the table.
"Wha's up with Short Round?" I asked, poking Glenn's shoulder. I was going to talk to him, see where we wanted to take this. After all, it's the apocalypse, no time to waste.
He groaned and through his arms I heard him say muffled," I swore off drinking."
"Lightweight," I teased him, and I heard a couple chuckles. I felt my uncle squeeze my shoulder as he handed me a plate. I turned my head and kissed his cheek to greet him good morning, my good mood still on a high. He grunted in response and sat back down. I started eating my eggs when Glenn said the unthinkable.
"I can't even remember anything." I nearly choked on my eggs but kept it in. He didn't remember anything? Did he not remember our kiss? Our talk? That was all the wine?
"You don't remember anything?" I asked in a low voice, trying to keep the shaking down. I was so confused, and Glenn looked at me confused too. I ignored him and focused on my plate, even as Jenner entered and they started questioning him. Could we have a second of fucking peace?
"Follow me," Jenner sighed, standing up. Uncle Daryl nudged me out of my frozen state, and I stood and followed the group. He led us into the room we were in the night before.
"Give me a playback of TS-19," Jenner told Vi, and she confirmed. "Few people ever got a chance to see this, very few." The giant TV on the wall lit up suddenly, and it showed what looked like a high-tech x-ray of brains. I let out a breath of amazement. In high school, I wasn't the best at school, but science was my specialty. The human brain was fascinating; we were finally getting the answers we were looking for.
Carl spoke up, looking at the TV," Is that a brain?"
Jenner smiled lightly and told him," An extraordinary one. Not that it matters in the end. Take us in for E.I.V."
"Enhanced internal view," Vi said, and the camera changed to show a different angle. It changed to show the upper shoulders and head of TS-19. The screen went inwards and zoomed; it went inside the skull. It looked like it was lit up with bright blue energy balls all over the brain, but some were lighter and darker, that was brain activity and what was inside, memories. The picture zoomed in until the threads become closer and lights flashed through; the were brain waves.
"What are those lights?" Shane asked as he looked at the scan.
Jenner explained to everybody what I had known: they were memories, experiences, everything that makes the human brain your human brain.
"Don't 'chu make sense ever?" Uncle Daryl asked, and I spoke up without thinking about it.
"They're synapses," I said, and everybody looked to me. I caught Jenner's eye, and he nodded at me to continue. I felt a blush rising to me face, but I went on to explain what I knew. "They process the information for the brain. The dendrites take it in and pass it along and then the synapses make it happen," I explained, and everybody looked at me like I had too heads besides Jenner, who was looking at me curiously. Even Uncle Daryl was looking at me funny. I blushed and said," I did go to school, y'all. Wanted to be a scientist." I looked at Jenner at the last part, and a small smile tugged at his lips. He nodded at me.
"They determine everything that happens, from the moment you're born until you die," Jenner added.
Rick asked in response to Jenner," Death? That’s what this is, a vigil?"
He nodded. "Yes. Or rather the playback of the vigil."
Andrea asked Jenner," This person died? Who?"
Jenner replied in a low voice," Test subject 19. Someone who was bitten and infected… and volunteered to have us record the process. VI, Scan forward to the first event."
"Scanning to first event."
There was a chorus of beeping before the screen had a message that said “Scanning Forward”. The brain changed, it had the lights still flickering in the outer areas but the center grew dark as if black roots were growing inside. It looked like a black hole slowly taking over, red dots flashing here and there, but very rarely.
"What is that?" Glenn asked from beside me, and I stiffened at his voice. I didn't know how I felt still, and by hiw close we were standing and how my hand was just hanging there, it seemed that he really didn't remember. I blinked back the hurt that grew in my eyes as Jenner started to explain that the infection spread like meningitis, everything slowly shutting down until death and everything that made you, you...
"Everything you ever were or ever will be…gone."
I heard little Sophia ask her mom," Is that what happened to Jim?" I grimaced at the thought of Jim, now probably up and walking around, possibly eating a person.
"Yes," Carol told her daughter, clutching her tight. Sophia looked confused and a bit frightened, and I knew that I would do whatever it took to keep her safe. I felt a strange connection with the little girl, and she needed protection. She had given my back my knife before we ate, and I left it in my room. Maybe she would like it, I could teach her to use it, teach to hunt for berries like I told her I would.
Andrea had been crying and Lori explained to Jenner why she was upset, and I looked down to the ground at the mention of Amy. We had started becoming friends, slowly, but started. I felt and hand on my shoulder and knew it was Glenn's, but I shook him off roughly, not looking at him. I didn't need his stupid comfort.
"Scanning to second event." The beeping happened again, and Jenner told us more.
"The resurrection times vary wildly. We had reports of it happening in as little as three minutes. The longest we heard of was eight hours. In the case of this patient, it was two hours, one minute… seven seconds." Amy's had gone through the night and into the morning, probably about eight hours, Jim had lasted only a few hours.
A bright red glow flickers at the base of the brain, but overall the whole thing stayed black. Random sparks went here and there, but again, everything was dark. I looked in awe at what I saw; I knew what was happening and it was awful.
Lori asked," It restarts the brain?"
"No," I whispered, horrible thoughts growing in my head. That was Amy, Jim... maybe even Dad. It could be me.
"Just the brain stem. Basically it gets them up and moving," Jenner said, his eye catching mine.
"But they’re not alive?" Rick questioned.
Jenner motioned to the monitor," You tell me."
Rick shook his head, and said," It’s nothing like before. Most of that brain is dark."
"Dark, lifeless, dead. The frontal lobe, the neocortex, the human part—that doesn’t come back. The you part. Just a shell driven by mindless instinct."
"All it knows it to eat, it doesn't remember a thing," I said, in the tone of a question, and Jenner nodded, a sad expression on his face. It wasn't a real person anymore, it just... ate.
Suddenly, the figure on the screen moved its mouth as it opened and closed. The head moves side to side, and the shoulders move as if the arms were being pulled up. I recognize the familiar shape of a gun, and it shot. When the bullet went through, it tore through the red. The brain goes completely dark for good, and TS-19 stops moving.
Carol asks," God. What was that?"
Andrea moved a bit and asked Jenner," He shot his patient in the head. Didn’t you?" It was obvious he did.
Instead of answering, Jenner powered everything down. Questions from everyone flew around, but we were out of answers. There was no cure, no way out of this. Communication was down. There was no hope. I ran my hands through my hair, tears pricking in my eyes. Nothing would be normal, we would never be safe, we'd all eventually die.
Uncle Daryl was pacing around and said," Man I'm gonna get shit-faced drunk again!"
"Me too," I groaned, rubbing my eyes. This was all too fucking much.
Then Dale asked Jenner a question," Dr. Jenner, I know this has been taxing for you and I hate to ask one more question, but…that clock—it’s counting down. What happens at zero?" I looked up and noticed the clock.
Jenner answered him, emotionless," The basement generators—they run out of fuel." Run out of fuel?
"And then?" Rick prodded. Jenner just walked out.
"VI, what happens when the power runs out?" Rick asked.
VI answered in her monotone voice," When the power runs out, facility-wide decontamination will occur."
Rick, Shane, T-Dog, and Glenn went to go check the generators, running out of the room. Decontamination, where had I heard that word?
"Come on, you go get your stuff, I got a bad feelin'," Uncle Daryl said, pulling on my arm. He turned to everybody else," Come on, go get ya stuff!" We all went down to the hallways and back to the rooms, all of us packing our things. I clipped my holsters in all the right places and threw my hunting backpack over my shoulders along with my quiver. I nearly ran into Carol and Sophia as I exited. I grabbed the little girl and pulled her to my side, dropping the child's crossbow that I held in my left hand to my side. "You make sure you stay right by me and your momma, just in case, got it Soph?" She nodded, her expression reading scared. She clutched her ragdoll to herself.
The lights went out; power was shutting down. Carol came closer to me and Uncle Daryl returned. Our eyes met even in the slight darkness, and we nodded to each other. "Come on ladies," Uncle Daryl said, leading us, and I brought up the back.
We returned to the big room, and the power seemed to be shutting down, yet the clock ticked on, counting down. Uncle Daryl was already working on another bottle of whiskey next to me. I sat on the ground, dropping my crossbow next to me, and sighed, processing the information Jenner just told us, that and Glenn.
"Can I have a drink?" I asked Uncle Daryl, and he handed me the bottle wordlessly and sat down next to me against the computer desks. I tipped my head back and took three big gulps of the liquor, letting out a huge sigh after I did. Uncle Daryl took the bottle from my fingers and slid next to me.
"'lright?" he asked, and I shrugged. We passed the bottle back and forth, the whiskey slowly dulling my headache.
"Just... man, there is no hope, is there? We're all gonna die?" I asked and took a big swig.
Uncle Daryl grunted and took it from my hands. I looked at him questioningly, and he just had his stare on. "Again, you and I are gonna be jus' fine, ya here me? You, me, Merle, we all gonna be fine," he said. He didn't miss my glance over to Carol and, Sophia, both talking in hushed voices, Carol stroking her hair. He put a hand on my shoulder, and reassured me with a tight-lipped smile," And tha way ya goin', tha little girl will be safe too." I smiled a little and looked away, back to my hands.
"Glenn and I talked a bit last night," I half admitted to him, my voice uncharacteristically soft. He grunted, telling me to go on. I sighed and continued," Said he don't remember a thing, and I don't know wha' it means anymore."
"The way I see it," he started after a minute of silence," is tha' ya need ta think 'bout chu first, what'chu feel. May be tha end of tha world, but still needa think if he'd be tha type you woulda settled down with all befo'." I looked at my uncle curiously. That was the most serious advice he had ever given me, and it was relationship advice no less. I didn't answer, but to tell him I understood, I nodded, and took another swig of whiskey.
Jenner came back and Lori and Carol questioned them on the power, and Uncle Daryl stood to ask too, the bottle in his hand. I turned to watch as Jenner took the bottle from him, still walking.
"Energy is being prioritized," Jenner said.
"Air isn't a priority? And the lights?" Dale asked him in his usual tone.
Jenner took a swig from the whiskey bottle before answering," It's not up to me, Zone 5 is shutting itself down."
"Why is it shutting down?" I asked, concern lacing my voice. I started to stand up and get to my feet.
"Yeah, what the hell does that mean!" Uncle Daryl demanded.
Jenner is quiet, and we all followed him, expecting answers. The power was winding down more now, and I adjusted my backpack which I had thrown onto one shoulder in haste to follow Jenner with everybody else. I held my crossbow protectively in my arms.
"Hey, man, I’m talking to you. What do you mean it’s shutting itself down? How can a building do anything?" Uncle Daryl demanded again as Rick, Glenn, Shane, and T-Dog fell into stride again with us.
"You'd be surprised."
Rick asked Jenner what was happening, and I felt a small form grab my right arm. I looked down to little Sophia, who wasn't so little since she reached halfway to my arm. She looked up to me a bit worried, and I nodded with a small smile, trying to be reassuring.
"What's happening?" Carol asked me worriedly, and I shook my head, my own tension rising in me.
"I don't know, Jenner's saying the building is saving power," I told her, trying to get what he was saying.
"The system is dropping all the nonessential uses of power. It’s designed to keep the computers running to the last possible second. That started as we approached the half-hour mark. Right on schedule."
After Uncle Daryl took back his bottle of whiskey forcefully in his anger, Jenner went on to say that the French were the last to hold out, before suicides and the same thing happened there: decontamination. Everything was going to blow and destroy everything inside: diseases, smallpox, research, and--now that we were locked in-- us.
Jenner was yelling, everyone was yelling. Carol was clutching onto Sophia, both crying. We were locked in. Sophia was asking me what we were going to do, and the next thing I knew, Uncle Daryl and I were grunting and trying to break the door with axes, desperate to get out. Jenner was trying to say in all of this mess how it was better, how everything wouldn't even feel pain.
I let out a small scream through my tears as I put more force to the door. I didn't want to die, I didn't want to give up. Uncle Daryl lost it and tried to go after Jenner, who just yelled to him," Your girl! Do you wanna see your little girl be eaten by those things? To die a death like that!" I heard Uncle Daryl try to attack Jenner again at the mention of me, but I didn't see as now T-Dog and I were trying to break the door. Even with all my strength, I couldn't do it. I dropped the axe and leaned against the wall next to the door, sobbing. Uncle Daryl came back, and he was smacking the door in my place, trying to free us. We were going to die, we were going to get blown up and not even have a choice.
And then the doors opened. I gasped in shock, and scrambled up. "Come on!" Uncle Daryl shouted, since the clock was slowly clicking down.
It was all a rush, and Jacqui wasn't moving as we all rushed to the doors. "Jacqui, come on!" I cried to her, and T-Dog tried to grab her, but her mind was made-up; she was staying. I hugged her quickly, and she rubbed my back once before looking at me. Her eyes showed all she couldn't say quick enough, that she cared, and I nodded to her.
"Stay by me," Carol told Sophia, and I went right to her side after tearing myself from Jacqui.
"And you stay by mine," I said, unclipping the knife sheath around my waist, crouching to her level to clip the belt around hers. "The knife Sophia, remember to go for the brain," I told her, and she nodded. Carol did not protest this time. I looked back and saw Dale and Andrea staying, but I didn't have time to say goodbye. Right now, I had to get out, and make sure everybody else did too.
We run and run and finally make it to the front, and everybody tried to break the glass desperately. There was no use, it wouldn't break. Sophia was crying next to me, and I crouched in front of her as Carol started rummaging through her purse for something. "Don't 'chu cry, you'll be fine," I told her forcefully just as my dad had told me so many times as a child, and she wiped her eyes with her right hand and nodded; her left hand was on the knife that now hung around her small waist.
"GET DOWN!" Shane and Uncle Daryl shouted shouted, and I grabbed Sophia's arm and we ran for cover. There was a loud explosion and the glass was shattered. We all started running like madmen out. I switched my crossbow for my handguns, and I started shooting at walkers with the others. I ran for Uncle Daryl's truck and the others ran for their vehicles. I opened the truck door and clambered in, crawling to the driver's seat and throwing the things off my back onto the seat, and started to crawl under to crouch below the steering wheel. Uncle Daryl ran in and shut the door, curling to duck into the seats.
In no time, there is a huge explosion, and all you could feel is heat. I screamed at the sound, terrified we weren't far away enough. But we were, and after a minute, all you could here was the burning and all you could feel was heat.
I removed my hands from my head, shaking a bit as I slowly looked up. Uncle Daryl was sitting up too, and I crawled from my crouched spot to look to the CDC, a giant fireball. We stared in shock, my heavy breaths the only sound besides the ones outside.
Uncle Daryl and I locked eyes, the tears streaming down my face all at once. I collapsed into him, and he held onto me for dear life. I clutched onto him, sobbing from all the fucking shit that had just happened. Lost hope, found hope and a place to stay, learned there was no cure, that there was no hope. We all would die.
After another minute, Uncle Daryl had scooped me up a bit to move me to the middle. He moved our things to the floorboard again, and sat in the driver's, starting the car. I curled my head into his lap again, and his hand went to my hair in comfort. It was spewed wildly since I hadn't put it up like normal.
"Andrea and Dale made it," he said lowly.
"Good," I said in between sniffles. I felt us start driving, and we stayed in silence for most of the driving we did, just reveling in each other's presence. We still had each other, and this group. We would all watch out for each other, we had to. But Uncle Daryl, he was here, and he was going to be. And I was going to be. We would be safe.
- Merle -
Moving, he kept moving. That's all he had been doing for the past few days, after being left up on the rooftop to die by those assholes. Wouldn't do that to a damn fucking animal, but that damn nigger T-Dog had dropped the key and left him to die on the hot rooftop. Panic and dehydration and coming off a bit of a high, he cut off his own damn hand and ran for it.
He climbed down the fire escape and climbed though an open window, took down two asshole walkers one handed, cauterized his own fucking hand, and then escaped through a window, leaving behind his white shirt that was soaked in his blood from holding it to where his wrist would be. He passed out for a little bit in an abandoned building, and then after waking up, took off running. He found a small packaging truck just sitting there, and he took off with it, hell bent on finding his little brother and his daughter.
Tessa May; his heart ached for her as he had walked around the little quarry, the only trace left behind some broken branches and the outlines of tents dented into the grass, the smell of burnt bodies. Must have been an attack. The only place that looked untouched had been where their tent had been; they had been smart enough to cover tracks. Thas' ma girl.
But Merle was angry. They had left without him, and though the thought that maybe, just maybe, his baby brother and his little girl were out here looking for him crossed his mind, but he knew better. It was Daryl who probably took his girl, just like he had done all those years before, "to protect her." Before they left for the city, Daryl had known Merle had taken drugs and yelled at him off to the side, and on his high, Merle had argued back with him. Who the fuck was his baby brother to tell him that he was stupid? Tessa wouldn't find out, unless his asshole brother told on him like a fucking kid. He tried to blame Daryl in his mind, but deep down, he knew that if his daughter was mad, it would be Merle's fault, and his only.
But he hadn't returned with the group, and an ache in his gut told him that she knew, that she had gone off with Daryl and never wanted to see her ol' man again. Merle knew he was a shit dad, but he loved his little girl, and he knew that she looked up to Daryl more; hell, everybody did. Daryl was smart and he had a heart, Merle was not a man to change, and he had betrayed his little girl like he had been doing since he made the promise. Losing her now made him regret it, because he knew that if he hadn't snorted any, even that little bit to take some tension off his detox, he would have came back for her. Merle knew Daryl was just keeping their girl safe by putting her with the group if they did stay, but Merle would never truly admit it to himself: Daryl left him.
He stayed in the camp that night he went back to look for them, after taking care of his hand. It was grotesque and hurt like a bitch, but Merle wasn't a pussy. He could deal with a little pain. An infection though? He wasn't sure. After bandaging it, he laid in the truck bed, and allowed a few tears to slip since he was alone.
Please, I know I ain't good, I know I'm bad and prolly damned to Hell, but my girl, don't hurt her for wha' I've done. Keep 'er safe. Gimme a sign that she alrigh', 's all I need. Please Lord, Merle prayed in his head. He was a dumbass and ignorant, but he wasn't stupid, or atheist. God may seem gone now, but he had to believe to keep his girl alive. Hell, she had been brought to him and grew up alright, how could he not believe? Soon, he fell asleep in the daylight.
Merle woke up to the sound of a huge explosion; it sounded far away. It was nearing dark. He scrambled out of the back of the truck where he was sleeping and went to climb on top of the truck. It proved difficult with only hand, but repeating "Come on, ya pussy" help motivate him to pull himself up.
He made it to the top and looked out to see a huge fire in the city. His heart pounded quickly, knowing there sure as hell was a chance that his Tessa had heard it, maybe even gone towards it.
He drove, and drove to the burning, hoping that what he thought wasn't just a wild hope. Tess had to have heard, Daryl too. He reached the building's outskirts and saw a sign for the CDC and his heart dropped. The last hope was gone and surrounded by burning walkers.
Apparently, he wasn't the only person with the idea to check it out, because the next thing he knew, he was at gunpoint and ready to fight with these men. But one man revealed himself, and said that they had a town and came to the explosion to scout for other survivors. Food, weapons, everything, even a way to fix his stump hand, all in exchange for services. After Merle told them he was in the military, the devious looking man said he could help go on runs or scout areas for survivors. Merle pondered the thought, and maybe, just maybe, this was God sending him a way to find his family, so Merle agreed to go, to find his Tessa May, and his baby brother. Maybe they were already there, but Merle did not mention them; he would leave once he was done with these assholes.
The man smiled wickedly at him. "Well then, Merle, welcome to Woodbury."
NotesRIP Jacqui and a shred of Tessa's hope and possibly Glessa *ducks and hides*
I added the last bit to do a check-up on Merle, as we won't be seeing him again for a while. Had to show that he hadn't given up suddenly in finding his family--it's also not meant to be too detailed, mostly just a 'hey look, Merle joined Woodbury'
Feedback please, ily.
OH. And I have a Merle/OC story, pre-apocalypse. It's fun, please check it out and give it a try.