Long Road Ahead
Blood of the Covenant
I peeked in and saw him sitting in his chair like usual, only this time he was hunched over and rubbing his face. He looked worn out and much, much older than he had a half-hour ago.
He looked up at me briefly, but only for a moment before his gaze returned to the floor
"I'm sorry," I said quietly.
"You don't need to be the one sayin' sorry," he replied, his voice gruff and cracked.
I took a few steps closer to him and wrapped my arms around his neck in an awkward hug. He hugged back weakly and looked up at me after I let go, rubbing his eyes.
"The last thing I wanna do... is hit my own kid," he mumbled weakly, tears streaming from his eyes again.
"It's okay," I said on impulse.
"It's not okay," he replied. "It's not okay."
Of course I knew it wasn't okay. And I didn't really forgive him, either. But it wasn't any different from any other time to me, and it never really hurt. The only thing that was physically painful was my dry throat and runny nose.
Despite all his actions, he was my dad. Despite being the epitome of nearly everything I hated in a person... he was my dad. I admitted to myself on multiple occasions that if we weren't kin, I'd probably hate him and never want anything to do with someone like him. But he was my dad and as much as I fully believed it shouldn't, that made all the difference. As much as I believed that the blood of the covenant was thicker than the water of the womb, I still loved him solely because he was my dad.
I didn't want things to be this way between us. I wanted us to be happy and get along.
"Look, just-- just get away from me when I start getting angry like that, okay?" he pleaded. "I just get mad and I lose control of myself so the best thing to do is just get away. Don't fight."
I couldn't really do that, but I nodded anyways. The genes he gave me were the reason I fought back. I wasn't able to just sit by quietly when I knew injustice had been dealt upon me. I had to voice it, even if it meant I would receive consequences.
"You've just gotta keep trying," I said, with my hand on his shoulder.
"Sometimes I don't even want to anymore."
"Do you hear that?" Carley whispered. "Outside."
I didn't respond, only looked towards the entrance, then at Glenn. He shrugged his shoulders and crossed his arms on the countertop. "All I can hear is that old man bickering," he mumbled, jabbing his thumb in Larry's direction.
Glenn and I hadn't had the best time in the drugstore so far, and Lilly's father, Larry, was least hospitable of all. He spent most of his time griping about us, or his back being sore, or the situation as a whole. Really, he just bitched and moaned at all times unless he was sleeping. I didn't want to dislike him for it, considering his situation and possible health problems due to age, but he was making it really difficult for me to like him. Thankfully, he hardly spoke directly to me.
We had been here a little longer than planned, Glenn and I, due to a herd of the monsters suddenly passing through Macon. Two days by my count. The atmosphere hadn't improved much, but Carley and Doug were both nice people, so we got along alright.
I liked Doug especially; he seemed a little weird at first, but I found out that he wasn't so different from me. We shared a few common interests, and he was very smart to compensate for his awkward exterior.
"Listen," Carley started again. "I think someone's out there."
She quickly made her way across the room towards Doug, who was keeping lookout. He squinted through the crack in the door and turned towards her.
"Let me have a look," she said, gently pushing him aside to peek out the door. Glenn turned his gaze towards her, listening for her report.
"There's a group outside," she said quietly, without tearing her eyes from the street.
I saw Lilly squint her eyes and scowl in disapproval. "Don't get any ideas."
Carley kept on staring out the door, holding her gun close to her side. Glenn's curiosity seemed to get the better of him, and he stepped forward to get a closer look too. I stayed put, having no desire to feel Lilly's wrath if it came to that.
Lilly wasn't as outright unkind as her father, but she was a hard woman, determined first and foremost to protect her father. With goals and an attitude like hers, I was never sure why she declared herself the group leader. I guess alongside a weak-willed Doug, Carley just never found any reason to stand up to her.
Until now, anyways.
Carley shot out the door and was through the gates in a matter of seconds, her gun drawn and pointing to something I couldn't see. Glenn rushed out after her and onto the street. I jumped from my seat by the counter and rushed towards the doorway, surveying the scene alongside Doug.
I heard gunshots and saw new faces, some alive, some dead; it was all a blur.
"Run!" Glenn shouted.
Several people were rushed inside in a matter of seconds and once they were all in, Glenn shut the gate and locked it securely.
Turning around, the first thing I heard was Lilly's voice. "We can't take risks like this!"
"We can't just let people die, either!" Carley shouted back in her face.
"When I say that door stays shut no matter what, I FUCKING mean it," Lilly's voice was hushed but angry. "We don't know who these people are; they could be dangerous!"
"They could have led them right to us," Larry said, regarding the monsters outside.
"They would've died out there!" Carley replied.
One of the men from the new group spoke up then. He was a black man with a kind face who looked to be the leader of their group. "We have kids with us."
"I see one little girl," Larry pointed a finger at a girl standing next to the other man. Turning back towards the counter, I could plainly see a small boy being cleaned up by (presumably) his mother. He looked shaken up and dirty.
I glanced towards the little girl who was squeezing her legs together anxiously.
"I'd go out there again in a second," Glenn spoke up, crossing his arms.
"Bet you would," I mumbled. It wasn't that I doubted him-- I knew he would. Glenn was fast and he knew his way around the city. So did I.
"They've got kids, Lilly," he pleaded.
She squinted at him angrily. "Those things outside don't care."
Another man, this one with a big mustache and a baseball cap sneered at her. "Maybe you should go join 'em then. You'd have somethin' in common."
"God damn it, Lilly," Larry groaned, flailing his hands around, "you have to control these people."
"Carley and Glenn just ran out there!" she retorted.
"I don't give a flying fuck!" Larry shouted. "We're in a warzone."
"She's the leader here," their leader grumbled, "but it looks like she's losing control of her people."
Lilly's anger flared. "If you were in my shoes you'd be th--"
"Holy shit," Larry cut her off, turning towards the boy and his mother. "Son of a bitch, one of them is bitten!"
"He wasn't bitten," the leader said quickly.
"Hell he wasn't!" Larry was pointing fingers again. It seemed he did that a lot. "We have to end this now."
He walked towards the boy and his mother before mustache man stepped in front of them. He was significantly shorter than Larry, but didn't look frightened in the slightest.
"Over my dead body."
"We'll dig one hole," Larry said, getting in the man's face.
"No!" the mother shouted. "I'm cleaning him up; there's no bite! He's fine!"
"Don't you fucking people get it?" Larry shouted. "We've already seen this happen! We let someone with a bite stay, and-and WE all end up bitten!"
"Shut up," mustache man said simply.
"We gotta throw him out!" Larry continued. "Or smash his head in!"
"KENNY! STOP HIM!" The mother was frantic now, and I assumed this mustache man was Kenny, her husband and the boy's father.
"Lee, what do we do about this guy?" Kenny said, glancing towards the leader.
Despite her own anger, Lilly pleaded with her father to calm down. It seemed she was against hurting the boy, and so was I. Just not enough to get directly involved in such a conflict. I stood back and surveyed the scene with Glenn.
"We kick his ass," Lee growled, crossing his arms.
"That's what I'm thinkin'," Kenny took a step closer to Larry.
"Everyone CHILL THE FUCK OUT!" Carley shouted, stepping in front of Glenn and I.
"Nobody is doing anything," Lilly pleaded.
"Shut up, Lilly!" Larry shouted, then turned towards Carley. "And you, shut the fuck up." He spun around to look at everyone. "They will find us and they will get in here, and none of this will fucking matter. But right now, we're about to be TRAPPED in here with one of those things."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Kenny asked.
"He's bitten!" Larry shouted, leaning in towards the other man's face. "That's how you TURN."
"He's not bitten!" the mother repeated. "Lee, stop this. It's upsetting him!"
"Oh, I'm upsetting him?" Larry looked around. "Upsetting is getting eaten alive!"
"Dad, we get it, it's a big deal," Lilly continued to try and quell her father's anger, to no avail. Silently I wondered to myself if all fathers tended to be angry and violent.
"It's Larry, right?" Lee crossed his arms again. "Man, this is his son."
"Look around, dumbass," Larry waved his arm around. "I got a daughter in here, you got a daughter in here. Get your head outta your ass, boy."
"We've all got people in here and we can figure this out without killing anybody! There's another way!"
"Yeah, with a shovel."
Kenny had had it now. "I'm gonna kill him, Kat! Just worry about Duck."
Lee's daughter called out to him, and I found it odd that she used his first name. Maybe Larry was mistaken? He told her where the key to the bathroom was... which was strange, because even I wasn't sure where it was kept. We hadn't been able to get in there this whole time.
"Hey, I'm not the bad guy here," Larry continued. "I'm just looking out for my daughter."
"No, you're just the guy arguing for killin' a kid," Kenny spat.
"He's covered in muck! She'll find the bite. Watch."
"And if she does?" Larry was leaning in close to Kenny's face now, and neither of them faltered. "The first thing he'll do is sink his teeth into his mom's face. Then, once she's dead, he'll probably pounce on your little girl," he said, turning towards Lee. "She'll turn fast, and then there'll be three."
"He's a little boy," Lee rationalized. "I think we can handle him."
"A little boy? He'll be an uncontrollable man-eater."
"It's not gonna happen!" Kenny shouted, getting close to his face again.
"It is, and we're tossing him out now!" Larry shouted.
Lee had had enough. He sneered and leaned towards Kenny. "Knock this guy out."
"Happily," Kenny said, and then he swung on Larry, nailing him right in the face. His victory was short-lived, however, when Larry immediately bounced back and decked him, seemingly knocking Kenny out cold.
Through the gasps of horror from the two groups, the piercing scream of one little girl echoed from the back end of the room.
yay cliffhangers! though, if you've played the game, you know what happens. if not, well, just hold out a few more chapters. hope you guys also enjoyed the angsty flashback in the beginning; i plan on including several of those to give some insight into aur's past.