The Darkest Storm
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
In fact, it was only when she allowed herself to replay what happened at the restaurant only twenty minutes ago, or hear the piercing sirens that repeatedly pass by on her road, does the blinding and overwhelming wave of terror rush back to her. She ruffled her long hair out of her work bun and lets it fall over her shoulders. She sat with her elbow leaning on the arm of the chair, her fingers covering her mouth as her breath hitched with every memory.
Darcy bolted up out of the chair just as the front door flung open. Her Uncle was screaming for her and there were shouts from outside, lots of loud, deep voices barking things through the neighborhood. She looked up wide-eyed as he rushed over to her and wrenched her towards the stairs. Penny stood behind her father in terror.
“We’ve got to get out of here.” He hissed, already charging up the stairs, gripping onto her wrist tightly unconsciously. They raced to the stop of the stairs as the power goes out and they stand in total darkness both terrified and disoriented.
This was really happening. All of this was really happening. Her Uncle feels her trembling wrist the he still was clutching and he quickly pulls away noticing the marks he left when he did.
Uncle Phillip had never been aggressive or harsh towards any members of his family unless necessary. He and Darcy had a strong relationship, especially after his wife’s fatal accident only months before the outbreak. With the death of her parents, which was his own sister, she could relate to him and connect with him that most others couldn’t. He had taught her the basics in life, what her aunt didn’t or couldn’t because of her death, along with the better things, more useful things that would now come in handy.
Darcy finds her cool and looks to him for directions. “Pack light, pack smart.” She nodded, and disappeared in to her room. Seconds later, she was changed out of her work clothes and carried a small backpack over her shoulder. Racing down the stairs, she almost bumped into him again. He too carried something in his right hand.
“Remember how to use this?” He breathed heavily and handed the bow to her. She gave a simple nod. “Good, ‘cause you’re gonna need it. Let’s go.”
The sound of a door slamming in occurrence with her dream jolts her body forward. It’s the slight tingle in her neck wakes her up, and the slightest sound of her name being called. It’s sore, numb, maybe. She can’t really tell nor tried to.
Her eyelids are heavy and as she gives a weak attempt to open them, she can’t see a thing. It’s nothing but a hazy fog on the other side of her lenses. Her neck continues to hang limply. She’s never felt so helpless and fragile.
Is this even real?
Her name rings throughout her mind. She sniffs the liquid dripping from her nose. It’s thick, copper smelling. Her cheekbone begins to throb something awful. She opens her jaw wide and it cracks back into place. She wriggles her wrists; the shock of how raw they are has her breath caught in her throat.
God, has she had a habit of getting herself into bad situations.
Reality begins to sink in. Or maybe it’s the continuous waves of terror that crawl beneath her skin. Flickering her eyes open, she relives her worst nightmare. Allen was here, the widower. Succumbed by the influence of the Governor and holding a grudge against Darcy that got him kicked out of the prison with the others, he was more than willing to get the job done with a smile.
Images flash through her mind of his scared knuckles, her blood on his hands, the anger that burned in his eyes. Everything was so messed up, Darcy finally lets her head back and cries out into the empty room, tugging on her wrists tied to the arms of the chair she sits on.
She stops, breath hurried and she whips her head back and forth looking for the sound. At first, she believed the voice calling her name was her own imagination playing tricks on her, but she hears it clearly now.
Blood has collected on the edges of her hairline. Her locks have swayed tangled into her face. Her breath is so sharp and harsh it pushes the strands out and away with every exhale.
Her voice cracks, “Andrea?”
“You know, Merle never did nothing like that in his whole life.”
“He gave us a chance.” Carol says. “Darcy, too.”
“That woman…” Daryl mutters. He sits behind his bike, staring at the loose stitching on his poncho, the same and only one that Darcy has given him. “…Gets herself into more ‘n more dumb shit every damn day.”
“She’s made it through much worse before.” Carol gives him a hopeful smile, “She’ll come out of this, too.”
“I ain’ so sure this time.” Daryl looks up from his daze and bites his lip. Beneath his eyes are visibly heavy bags of exhaustion and woe. In a low growl, he looks back to the fabric in his hands.
“That girl is either gonna tare herself out of there, or we’re gonna make it to her just in time. He’s not winning this.” Carol tells him.
“Can’t imagine what she’s going through.” Daryl sighs and stands up, the anger rises from his bones. “And what he’s doing to her.”
Rick comes over with a hand on his holster. “We’re just about ready.” He gives a small smile to Carol, and she walks away from the two.
Daryl faces the wall, huffing air out harshly through his nostrils. “The hell we even waitin’ for?” Throwing his poncho down to the ground, he turns and makes eye contact with Rick. “This prick’s got one of our own - it’s us who should be goin’ after him.”
“Daryl, we’ve already talked about this –“ Rick holds out his hand out of habit to calm him down. “ – Our time is up to settle the deal. He’s on his way, just like he warned he would be. We’re gonna stick to the plan, play it safe for now –“
“Play it safe? Does anythin’ about this scream ‘safe’ to you?” Daryl waves his arm. “He’s killed Merle, was gonna kill all of ya’ll if we’d just shown up–“ Daryl clears his throat and takes a step back. “And now that sick son ‘a bitch...”
Daryl swallows the lump forming in the back of his throat. His breath is still erratic and grating. He can’t finish his sentence and instead gives a loud, threatening glare to the man standing before him.
“I know what it’s like, Daryl. I know. She’s important to you, I get that –“
“Maybe I should just go after her myself.” Daryl shrugs.
“Ain’t gonna loose more people, Rick.” Daryl mumbles. “Can’t. Not her.”
“I give you my word, we will go after her. She and your brother, they gave us a chance - showed us what we were really up against. We will go after her. But not until this is over.”
“Oh thank God.” Andrea, inside from the other room, rests her head back against what she can only call a dentist’s chair. Her mouth is agape from her heavy breathing, and as she rolls her neck to bring it up once more, she is reminded of her time that was quickly running out.
The Governor had placed him in there, mercilessly and numbingly to force him to choose a side. It was Milton; lying motionless against the metal sheets that made up this place they were all trapped in. Blood seeps through his chest, onto his clothes, and out to the floor around him. His skin was as gray as ash, and the veins around his face slowly blackened and protruded slightly.
Darcy coughs up her own blood, choking as she tries to catch any slight breath of air. She was in so much pain; this was the only time she’s ever preferred to be dead than alive in any moment.
“We don’t have much time.” Andrea hoarsely whispers through the cracks in the wall. She too is tied to a chair with no way out except for a pair of pliers on the floor that were just out of reach.
“Do you see anything? Anything that you can use to get yourself out?” Andrea calls out. Darcy looks around the room with her vision finally in focus, but the pain adverts her concentration. She thanks God for a small second that Allen had managed to miss both her eyes when beating her.
Impatient, Andrea calls out again. “We have to get out of here. Phillip is on his way to the prison! We have to warn them!”
Darcy clasps the edges of the armchair with just that thought. Her friends, her family, they were all in danger and here she was stuck in Woodbury almost beaten to a pulp because of her own instincts told her to put herself in a ridiculous situation.
Then, it happens. As if someone has actually hit her in the chest, an unnerving flash of Merle’s blood draining from his body under her watch sends her into panic again. The pain is so real Darcy has to sit herself up straight to catch a breath. She squeezes her eyes shut and she sees him, the older brother of her best and closest friend, who seemed to make himself be an ally to her in the last moments of his life. Merle, who she didn’t save. Who she watched as her own Uncle shot him in the chest and left him to become one of those things. Darcy pictures him, going cold under her trembling hands.
Darcy’s muscles begin to clench tight inside her body and she can’t bring herself to move. Instead of looking for a way out, she sits. She is as motionless as the chair beneath her. She unconsciously blocks out Andrea, still calling out her name for help.
Daryl stands in the shadows of the prison. The tombs are where they all lay low for now, impatiently awaiting their enemy’s arrival. He sighs, staring at the smoke grenade he holds in his hands. He tosses it around lightly, just trying to settle his nerves and angst to get out of here and over to Woodbury.
Daryl wonders what would have happened if Darcy hadn’t gone after Merle and Michonne. The same fate for his brother, most likely, but where would she be now, in this moment?
Would she be standing next to him like old times? Daryl can picture her leaning against the wall next to him with an assault rifle clutched tightly into her shoulder. He would sneak glances over to her like he always does, and she’d give him a small twitch of a smile to show she wasn’t going anywhere.
Would Rick have her out in the woods with Carl and the others to protect Judith? No one had ever seen such anger and resentment from Carl after Rick’s decision. He would stay in the woods with Hershel and Beth. His place wasn’t in the prison. This wasn’t his fight.
Daryl can’t help but smirk. Darcy wouldn’t agree with Rick if he’d sent her into the woods either. Even though she has the most influence to rebel against the plan, to hunt down the Governor and strictly just want to end it all. Actually, they all had a reason to now. Her and Carl had more sibling-like attributes than they thought.
Swallowing hard, Daryl quells his fingers as they tremble with anxiousness. He frowns suddenly, and glances out into the vacant halls. The next second, a deep rumble seems to rip throughout the entire prison. The floors beneath his feet begin to shake violently and he steadies himself with his free hand against the walls.
The rumbling grew to a roar, and he hears Rick hoarsely whisper throughout the echoing tombs to get ready and stay quiet. And then the very next second, the world became still again. Daryl looks out towards the small inkling of light protruding from the window just across the way. The once tall standing guard tower that had stood gleaming in the crisp morning sunshine only hours before, has been reduced to a mess of rubble and awkwardly angled steel girders that jutted from the ground with sharp determination.
But it was not this that has sent Daryl’s heart pumping frantically inside his chest and his mind racing with thoughts that told him this may be a harder fight than he thought. It was the growling voice that begin to ring throughout cellblock C, the silhouette amongst the shadows that lingered and sauntered closer and closer to him, the rage the figure has lodged deep in it’s heart that proved to be contagious.
It all belonged to the one man that had made their life infinitely worse than the dead walking around. It was him, the Governor.
They tiptoed in hush for ambush attack, but little did they know the Governor’s army would suddenly be tricked into thinking the group was gone for good. The vehicles had been moved out of sight and out of mind. No trace but a Bible with a startling verse was left behind.
With every anticipating step they took into the tombs, Daryl’s heart raced faster and louder until he finally realized he might give away their position by the sound. With a twist of the latch and a light toss of his wrist, he throws the smoke grenade into the middle of the circle; the piercing alarm started to blare, and soon, it was a riot.
The large “army,” made up of widowers, children, and old-folk alike fled without a second thought, even with the Governor screaming over the now scattering bullets to stand their ground. It was until they ran outside they face the worst of it all. Maggie and Glenn were waiting, just waiting, for them to pass by.
The intention of this so called ‘fight’ was never to harm or kill anyone. It was to scare them off, drive them out. So when Woodbury made themselves reappear into the outer courtyard of the prison, Maggie and Glenn purposefully shot at the ground near their feet, scattering them more and making them run even quicker to avoid a slaughter.
And it worked. Soon, one by one the members of the Governor’s army fled without a second thought. They weren’t soldiers. They weren’t prepared for this, or even wanted to do this. Manipulated into defending themselves against terrorists got them here, and it was then and there they decided it wasn’t worth being killed. Not in this type of world they lived in now, not by people.
The trucks rev up and peel out of the prison yard. Running outside to see it for themselves, Rick, Carol, Michonne, and Daryl meet up with Glenn and Maggie at the gate. The sounds of the roaring engines fading with every second.
“We did it.” Rick panted. “We drove them out.”
“Let’s go.” Michonne said. “We head after them into Woodbury, finish it, and grab Darcy.”
“Sounds like a plan to me. “ Daryl nods.
Maggie is in protest. “We barely made it back last time.” She breathes heavily with wide-eyes.
“I don’ care.” Daryl tells her. His eyes are solid and there’s no telling him otherwise. He shakes his head and looks to Rick for the go-ahead. And he does with a simple nod.
Life was tragic, very tragic. In fact, tragic doesn’t even begin to cover it. Life was heart-rending, tear-jerking, and gut-wrenching. With a numb frown pulling on the bruised, blood stained lips; Darcy Shaw ticks off another day with a quivering jaw and clenched shut-eyes. In all honesty, she isn’t sure how much more of this she can take. She has been in and out of consciousness for hours.
With a glance towards the door just across from her, her throat tightens. Night was fast approaching and with it would come the end of everything she had worked and hoped for. Daryl was going to be dragged in there, put on his knees, and…God. She just can’t finish the thought.
He was her hero once. From the time of her fourth birthday party when he successfully managed to surprise her with a pony – just for her and her friends to ride around the small Georgian yard for the day – to the time when he helped move her into her Colorado home, he had been her hero. Whatever had gone wrong from the start of all this to now would forever allude her.
Darcy winces at the sound of rushing footsteps, suddenly broken from her daydream. Her fingers curl tightly around the chair arm and drove her fingernails into the wood. Scratches from her previous attempts to break free left bloodied marks. Cheeks flushed, Darcy takes a deep breath to calm her wavering nerves and accept what was about to happen…but the footsteps never reach her.
Instead, she hears mumblings on the other side of the wall. It’s Andrea; it’s got to be. Her voice is quiet, soothing. It’s as if she finds herself in the company of friends and everything is at peace for the time being.
Darcy can’t hear anything she’s saying - that is most likely thanks to Allen; her right ear was stinging something awful – but she can sense the different tones of voices that speak. There are several, and she wonders if it’s just her mind again trying to play tricks on her when she hears her name.
The footsteps are rushed again, but there’s only a pair heading for her door. She wonders what awaits her – how should she act, if it was even worth playing hard at all. Mind tricks weren’t going to work with her state. It seems as if Darcy was on a one-way path to total self-destruction.
The door handle creaked open, but it wasn’t slow and tantalizing. It was quick, forceful, and desperate. Darcy hangs her head like a rag-doll and just waits for another blow or two to finally end this misery that never ceased. But it doesn’t happen; instead she hears a more than welcoming inner irritated growl from the person’s throat and a few quick strides they take to reach her.
Calloused hands grab the sides of her face and she is forced to look at them. When she sees the familiar stormy-blue eyes, her own amber-hues go wide in shock. Her mouth drops open and she cries out, burying herself into his shoulder when Daryl reaches up to hold her steady.
“I-I thought you were dead.” She weeps, her voice is dry and it cracks and shrieks unintentionally.
The binds are suddenly removed and she lets herself fall into Daryl. She brings her arms to wrap around his neck and pull him close. She knows this isn’t a dream when she smells the comforting sent of wood and cigarettes, when she brushes her cheek against his and feels the rough bristles of his stubble, when she feels the outline of the wings against his back.
“He was going to kill you – he told me he was going to kill you –“ Darcy continues to panic and cry, her voice has never been so unsteady and she herself has never been this shaken.
“Son ‘a bitch couldn’ even make it through the damn gate.” He mumbles in her ear closely, feeling the dried blood against his lips. She could just hear the faint trembles in his own voice.
“Then where is he?” She blinks repeatedly. “Where is he?”
“He’s gone.” Daryl tells her.
Darcy can’t calm herself down. Her voice still whimpers but it’s in a whisper she is so dehydrated and beaten. “I couldn’t – I couldn’t save him. I’m so sorry - I’m sorry, Daryl.”
Daryl instantly knows its Merle she’s talking about. He lowers his head but doesn’t let her go. “Ain’t your fault.”
“He saved me, Daryl. He made me go – he told me…”
“Told ya what?” Daryl sits back and pushes the tangled mess of hair out of her face. Darcy sniffles back her tears and looks to the ground. Her mouth is still agape and her eyes are red around the rims. “Darcy, what did my brother say?”
She hesitates. “It was all on him. Rick can’t take the blame. He said it was all on him.”
There were things Darcy wanted to tell Daryl what Merle had said. That Daryl loved her but wasn’t ready to admit it. That she was to look out for his baby brother, but he wouldn’t let her put herself in that position, or put anyone in that position. Merle knew the stubbornness of Daryl, and since Darcy didn’t say these things because she knew they would hurt him in a different way, Merle knew she was stubborn too. So for the time being she would bury them, and let them rest with her instead until the time was right.
“Let’s get ya home.” Daryl says, lifting one of Darcy’s arms to wrap it around his shoulders. He supports her weight as she walks. The grip he has on her wrist makes her yelp in pain, and soon Daryl swoops her up and carries her with ease out the door.
“Rick, grab my stuff I got my hands full.” Daryl calls out behind him.
“Wait.” Darcy peers her head weakly over his shoulder. “Andrea.”
“No, Darcy.” He shakes his head. “She’s gone too.”
First off, thank you for all the congratulations on the wedding! We are so excited we only have a month until the big day. Like I said, I'm going to try super hard to get as many chapters as I can up for you all, but it might be hard since all this last minute planning has snuck up on us. Hope you all enjoy - this was a toughy to write.