Long Road Ahead
The railroad tracks across the road from my house continued on into the deep woods until they disappeared out of my line of sight on either side. I was shielded from the view of my own home by a line of trees, so I never ventured very far. I just didn't want to go home.
By this time I was at the age in which I no longer wondered whether or not it was normal to never want to go home. I was aware of my situation, though I never thought it was bad enough to do anything about it. I knew nothing would get done anyways, and it was too much of a burden on everyone else if I decided to raise a fuss about it after all this time. Just a few more years... and I wouldn't have to deal with it any more. I could finally take control of my own life.
Wanting to have total control but lacking ambition made for an interesting combination in a growing teenager. I never thought about college during my free time because it was shoved down my throat every other time, even though everyone was fully aware my college funds were nonexistent. I ignored it and pined for the day when I would struggle to survive on my own.
"What are you doing?" A voice came from the darkness, breaking me out of my trance.
I turned to face him and saw that Glenn stood awkwardly on the other side of the tracks with his hands in his pockets.
"Just waiting for everyone to go to bed," I answered.
He sat next to me, his gaze the dim light shining from the door of my house. He didn't need to ask why, because he knew.
"So, uh," Glenn mumbled quietly, "you doing alright?"
I glanced at him, barely making out his features in the dark confines of our hiding place. "Yeah," I whispered in reply. "Why?"
"Just... you know. I guess I was worried," he shifted awkwardly, "about how you're taking this whole situation. After we saw your dad die-- I mean I--"
"Hush," I said, abruptly silencing him. It wasn't necessarily that I didn't want to discuss the death of my father, but Glenn tended to want to fill up waiting periods with useless chatter, and now wasn't really the time to make any more noise than necessary.
I felt a little bad about cutting him off, though. He still had no idea what had become of his family. I guess it's a little morbid to be thankful that I only had one family member to lose, and now that he was gone I was at least left with some form of closure. But that's what it was, at least; I didn't have any blood tying me to this world anymore, and in my mind that numbed the pain a little bit.
I didn't know how long we had been waiting before I heard the soft shuffle of quiet footsteps outside, too quick and careful to be walkers. I reached towards the door, ready to open it and peek outside, but Glenn beat me to the punch and the idiot threw the entire door wide open and stuck his head out. Luckily for him, on the outside waited Lee and Carley.
"Guys!" he whispered. "Oh, thank God you're here."
"Jesus, Glenn," Carley mused, mimicking my thoughts well enough.
We both hopped over the brick wall that Lee and Carley were using to take cover. Glenn gazed at the other man with a determined look on his face, and immediately I knew what he was up to.
"Alright, that wasn't so hard," Lee breathed.
"Can we get out of here before any of these things notice us?" Carley asked. I found myself silently agreeing with her pretty often. I knew Glenn had other plans, though.
"Not yet," he whispered back. "There's a survivor trapped up there." And we all glanced towards the second floor, where distant sobbing could be heard past the door that was crowded by two walkers.
"No way! We gotta go, NOW." Carley shot him down immediately.
"Listen," Glenn pleaded. "We were out here looking for gas. And then, up there in the corner room, we heard crying coming from inside."
Glenn explained the situation further to Lee, how we spoke to the girl behind the door briefly, who insisted one of us was bitten, or something like that. I had kept my distance from the door during that time, trying to keep lookout, and most of her words were muffled. He finished recalling how several walkers appeared from the forest and forced us to hide in the-- ice machine. That was an ice machine? Sure didn't smell like one on the inside. I let my mind drift wondering what could be stored in there, and found myself checking the bottom of my shoes with concern.
"Lucky you," Carley spat. "Now let's go."
"We can't just leave her," Glenn begged again.
I absentmindedly picked at a foreign substance on the side of my shoe, expecting Glenn's rescue mission to be shot down once more. However, Lee's deep voice surprised me. "Damn right we can't," he said solidly. Knew that guy had to be too nice for his own good.
"You guys are suicidal, over a girl!" Carley pleaded now, her eyebrows drawn together.
"I'm saving her, with or without you!" Glenn shot back. Oh great, now we were really fucked.
"Think about if it was you," Lee turned his hardened gaze upon Carley, and suddenly I was glad I had decided to keep my opinion to myself.
Carley shook her head briefly before conceding. "Fine. Let's go save Glenn's damsel in distress." I wrinkled my nose briefly at this comment.
I glanced across the lot, picking out each individual walker while Lee relayed the plan. The room was boarded up, so there was no way to take out the walkers next to it and sneak inside quietly. Lee said we'd have to take out every walker in here, and at this, I heard Carley's gun click. "Quietly," Lee said to her. "Noise attracts these things. Now let's have a look around."
I nodded subconsciously at Lee's reasoning. Quietly was just how I was used to working. Not only did I never learn how to shoot a gun, in my eyes they were only useful in emergencies when making too much noise meant risking death.
Lee reached around the side of the wall for something, but I couldn't quite see what. I heard Carley mutter, "Good luck smothering them to death." Then I guessed-- a pillow. Not for smothering, but maybe... maybe it would muffle the noise of a gunshot enough to keep them off our backs. But only if we got close.
We looked around a bit more, got our bearings, before sneaking towards a truck parked on the outskirts of the lot. We all crouched behind it, still hidden from the view of any walkers. I crouched next to Lee when he turned to me and whispered, "I wonder if there's anything in the pickup."
I looked inside and saw a weird screwdriver, or some kind of pick, on the seat. But the passenger door was locked, and there was no way for us to break the window without drawing attention. I informed Lee of my discovery, and he turned to glance at a walker slumped at the front side of a car a few feet away.
"Get out your gun," he said to Carley.
"But the noise--"
"Just follow my lead," he cut her off before taking hold of the pillow from before and skulking towards the walker. I watched as he covered its face and shoved it into the side of the car, then Carley shot into the pillow. Perhaps a shot in the dark, I thought, before it abruptly ceased movement and fell over onto its side.
"That was sick!" Glenn praised. I nodded in approval and shot a small smile towards Lee.
Lee opened the door of the car and looked around inside. I saw him unlock the gear shift and then turn to Glenn, exchanging a few words before he shut the door quietly. I made my way towards the front end of the car next to Carley, and as Lee stood and pushed the side of the car, I pushed it backward as well. It rolled across the lot, slowly gaining a bit of speed, before slamming into a male walker and trapping him against the wall at his middle. I caught sight of a fireaxe behind emergency glass next to him.
Back at the truck, Glenn took a small object from Lee that he must have picked up inside the car. A sparkplug. "The porcelain inside these things turns car windows to tissue paper," Glenn mused before he crushed the plug under his boot. He picked up the shards inside and grinned, handing them to Lee. I briefly rolled my eyes, however thankful that Glenn's seemingly useless bits of knowledge came in handy in times like these.
Lee tossed the porcelain at the window, and the sound of shattering glass caused the walkers by the door to glance in our direction, but it wasn't enough to draw them near us. I exhaled in relief as Lee reached in and pulled out whatever was inside -- an ice pick.
"That could scramble a brain pretty good," Glenn remarked.
"That's exactly what I was thinking," Lee said, his deep voice rumbling in my eardrums again.
We snuck back towards the wall while Lee went on ahead, coming up behind a female walker that was eating something in the middle of the lot. I didn't tear my eyes away from him as he quickly shoved the pick into the back of her head and yanked it right out in one swift motion. She fell to the ground, half-life gone from her body.
He continued on to the RV, Glenn behind him this time, and whistled quietly. This must've lured a walker on the other side, because I saw him jump forward, before reeling back with the pick in his outstretched hand.
The coast was now (mostly) clear, and Carley and I wandered out from behind the wall, following Lee and Glenn who were already on their way towards the walker trapped against the car. Lee walked towards him casually, as the thing wildly reached for him. He shoved the pick into his brain and didn't pull it back out this time, as the walker's lifeless body fell against the car. I was impressed, needless to say.
"Dude, where'd your weapon go?" Glenn asked as he came up beside Lee.
"Into that icepick-sized hole," the other man replied, earning a chuckle from me.
Glenn barked out a single laugh. "Haha! Holy shit." He glanced towards the fireaxe on the wall.
"It's cool. Now we've got this."
"Are you two done?" Carley rolled her eyes, and I just grinned at my shoes, appreciating their silly banter.
Lee grabbed the axe and glanced up towards the door. "Two more."
"That should help," Glenn said, still grinning.
Lee snuck towards the staircase and when we reached its base, turned back to us. "Why don't you guys lag behind, in case this goes to hell."
Glenn and I nodded in unison, while Carley assured him, "Okay. We'll be right behind you."
Lee was probably better going solo anyways, I thought to myself. He looked like he could take out a horde of walkers by himself.
I watched him put the axe into both of the walkers heads with ease, letting out a grunt as he decapitated one.
"Rad," I mumbled quietly.
We all walked up the stairs to join him and he knocked on the door. "Hello in there? We're here to help."
"Please, just go away!" the distraught voice inside replied.
"Let's go, guys," Carley groaned, her hand on her hip.
I glanced at her. "We've already come this far."
"In a minute," Lee said, mostly disregarding her attitude. He turned his attention back to the door. "If you open up we can take you somewhere safer. We've got a group in town."
I wrinkled my brow a bit at the thought of this, knowing full well that Lilly would disapprove.
"No no no! Please no," the voice shouted.
"She's in trouble," Glenn concluded.
Lee backed up from the door a bit. "Miss! We're coming in."
Then he brought his axe down upon the wood that had boarded the door. It was still locked, however, so he kicked the door once before the voice resounded again: "Stop, just stop! I'm coming out."
The door unlocked and opened slowly, and the girl's sillhouette came into our view. To our shock, she was drenched in blood-- presumably, her own.
"You're hurt," Lee breathed.
"Oh, God," Carley mumbled.
Glenn's face just scrunched up uncomfortably, while I kept my eyes on the girl's hand covering a wound at her side.
"I... I said stay away," she cried.
"We need to get you help," Glenn said hurridly, his arms a bit outstretched towards her.
"It's too late for that," the girl said, removing her hand from her wound. I knew instantly what fate had befallen her.
"Guys, she's been bitten," Carley said.
"What!?" Glenn jumped a little. I was surprised he couldn't already tell, given the appearance of the large gash on her side. Her features were sunken in as well, and if I had to take a guess, I would assume the fever had already set in. I'd only seen it up close once before, but I wouldn't take chances under these circumstances.
"I told you! I said go away!" the girl shouted at us, her voice breaking between every sentence.
"I'm bit! But you wouldn't just leave."
"Let's calm down," Lee tried to reason with her. "You could be fine."
"I won't be fine!" she shouted back. "My boyfriend was bitten. You get sick and you die, and you come back and you kill anything you can find!"
Glenn's gaze dropped to the floor. "You have a boyfriend?"
"GLENN," Carley and I spat at him in unison.
"I don't want that," the girl continued, pleading with us now. "It's not Christian. Please, just leave me, please go."
Lee squinted. "Come with us, and we'll find you some help."
I shook my head almost imperceptibly, knowing she was a lost cause already. Her gaze shifted down towards the object in Carley's hand. "You have a gun," she said calmly, and I knew what she was thinking.
"So?" Carley grimaced.
"Can I... borrow it?" The girl leaned forward a bit.
"What do you mean, 'borrow'?" Carley frowned deeper, and I wondered if she really didn't understand at this point or if she was simply prolonging the inevitable.
"Give it to me," the girl begged. "I can just, you know, end this and then - then there's no problem."
"Whoa whoa whoa," Lee's voice grew in volume.
"PLEASE," the girl practically screamed. "I don't want to be one of them! They're... theyre... satanic."
I caught myself rolling my eyes a little bit at her last statement, but immediately felt bad.
Lee's gaze hardened instantly, and he turned to Carley. "Give it to her."
"What? You can't be serious."
"Do it." His eyes narrowed.
"No!" Carley spat back and turned away from him a bit.
I placed my hand on Carley's shoulder lightly. "There's no happy ending to this," I said quietly. "It's her own life, to do with what she chooses. We have no right to take away her escape route."
Carley's wide-eyed gaze bored into mine for a long moment, and I thought, this is probably the most she's heard me speak in one setting. She closed her eyes briefly, and nodded. "Okay, fine." Her voice was quiet as she placed the gun on the floor in front of the dying girl. I guessed she still didn't have the heart to hand it directly to her.
The girl picked up the gun and her gaze shifted between Lee and I. "Thank you so much. I know how terrible this must be."
"We can't watch this," Glenn said, turning to me. "Let's go."
"We can't go yet," Carley told him.
"What? Why not?" he shouted back.
"Because somebody needs to pick up the gun," Lee said quietly.
"You guys go on," I said.
"What?" Glenn shouted, his voice even louder this time. "Aur, no. Someone else can do it."
I shook my head. "No, I will."
Glenn frowned, his gaze meeting mine. "You don't need to see this."
His eyes bored into mine, and I stared straight back. "It's my decision."
His face hardened, and his mouth set into a tight line. "Okay," was all he said, before he abruptly turned and headed back down the stairs. Carley followed, and Lee hung back, his eyes on me.
"You sure?" he asked, his voice almost a whisper.
I didn't look at him. "Yeah."
He followed the others down the steps, and I turned to the girl, staring directly into her eyes. I nodded to her, and smiled briefly, earning a small smile back from her. "I'm here with you," I whispered.
"You're a good woman," she said, and raised the gun to her temple. I closed my eyes and lowered my head until I heard a loud shot directly in front of me, and with a muffled crash her body went limp and slammed into the floor. I opened my eyes and saw her head at my feet, blood pooling into the space between my shoes and sticking to the grime on the sides.
I picked up the gun silently and headed on down the steps to rejoin the others.
woah! sorry for the long wait for this chapter. i hope it was worth it, leaving those two in a dirty ice machine for nearly a month. so aur has a pretty grim outlook on life and death, huh? anyway, hope you enjoy and please leave feedback =)