The Darkest Storm
Every time she goes to that place, her feeling of self vanishes. She doesn’t know where to go or what to do. Her thoughts stagger in and twist them throughout her senses at Maggie’s words that vibrate to her on the wind. They told her to not be afraid, but to relax and let things unfold, as they have to; to not push the uncomfortable and unfamiliar ground Darcy now walks.
It was an uneasy place to be in, and it wasn’t just for Darcy’s state of well being, but for Daryl’s. The emotional unstableness that they both carry with them dampens on their efforts to sanction things further for each other and the people around them.
When Darcy transcends into her conscience, she has forgotten about the doomsday pandemonium that faces her on the other side of the palisade and is only looking forward to sleeping. But then, it was time for the end of the world to rear its ugly face again.
The bodies start to press further into the fences, bending the metal barriers in at awkward angles, as if the dead had finally figured out how to collaborate together and get to the other side.
Darcy fumbles with Maggie’s arm and pulls her back to notice the potential breach. In an instant she is scurrying on her feet to get her barring and runs towards the graves. Rick and Daryl are together; she knows they are supposed to stay away from each other but with all the bedlam events happening at once, she was a black hole of not-knowingness.
She slides on the dirt and rocks as she rounds the edge of the line, catching her breath from her quick sprint and screams, “DARYL!” She inhales, “RICK!”
Darcy’s cries catch more than just those two’s attention and she’s thankful. They had their faces turned towards the sun before each pair of eyes locked onto each other’s. They see the cluster immediately and suddenly; their surroundings seem to be going too slow for normalcy. As the two in her sight begin to run towards her, Darcy swiftly turns back around and hurries towards the contorted mess.
“The noises drawn ‘em out and now this part’s starting to give!” Maggie yells at them. Darcy picks up her rod she’s dropped and positions herself back next to her friend. She starts to desperately pick the skulls of the walkers boarding up against her.
It’s Glenn, Tyresse, and Sasha who reach their side first. They each press through the chain-links, an imperative force driving each of them to avoid the absolute worst. And only for a moment, they feel like it is under control.
Darcy raises a gloved hand to her forehead to block the sun’s rays. She sees the unnatural curve of the fence above her and realizes the heap of crowding walkers is only going to pile up more and more against it. The distraction sends her falling back away from the stockade with a loud grunt, landing on her elbow that digs into the sharp rocks under their feet.
As she pushes herself up she sees Daryl standing next to her, his feet bouncing as he shifts back and forth to go to her. He knows he shouldn’t be near her but can’t force the unwillingness to leave. His hand is outstretched towards her slightly, as if he will pull back at any moment. Darcy finally stands and shakes her head, wiping her face and also putting up a firm hand in return.
He watches her subtly out of the corner of his eye.
“Are you seeing this?” Sasha calls out, breaking his trance. She points to a small pile of chewed up rats with eyes wide. “Was someone feeding these things?”
Darcy jumps at the sound of the bending metal pipes. Everyone rushes towards the inner circle as it warps further and further into their safe haven, eyes bulging and pulses racing.
“It’s gonna give!” Rick rushes forward, pushing with his palms against the chain-link as the others follow. Darcy digs her heels into the dirt and winces at the weight, the walkers bodies are too heavy for them to hold. “It’s gonna give!”
“I can’t hold it!” Darcy feels the sweat dripping from her forehead as she looks down at her cut up hands. The marks from the fences are perfectly etched into her skin.
“Everyone back!” Daryl waves, “C’mon back, now!”
The group hastily back steps, out of answers and at a loss for solutions. “If the fence keeps bending in like that, those walkers are coming over it.” Sasha points, shaking her head in denial.
Breathless and full of hopelessness, the empathetic eyes of Darcy trickle to Rick, pleading internally for him to finally find his place when they needed him the most. She sees him turn towards the fields, rubbing his face and getting lost in his defying thoughts.
He looks up then, decided, and the whole air fades of worry and fear. “Daryl, Darcy, get the truck.” He nods as their posture becomes rapt, “I know what to do.”
The general tenor of his voice urges both hunters’ feet to move. They do not doubt nor question their leader, the two were the only ones who’ve never done so in all of their adventures and twists they’ve encountered. They steal sneaked looks at him in adoration with a slight smile on their faces, thinking things were meant to happen this way in order for Rick to turn back around and take his position once again.
Darcy takes ahold of the bar on the frame of the jeep and lifts herself over the door. Daryl jumps in as well, revving the engine and peeling out of the courtyard towards Rick. He stands with a wooden crate near the pig hutch.
They load it, and it’s inevitable what he’s thinking; luring the walkers away with fresh bait. Rick sits on the flat trailer, holding onto the box as they drive out into the open grassland.
He calls out to Darcy, “Keep on the look out.”
She shifts in her seat to face the back of the truck, watching and waiting as Daryl parks for only a moment as one by one, each walker focuses their empty eyes away from the gates and on the three of them. Rick stands, making his presence known, and leans over into the crate.
Daryl becomes antsy beside her, “Let’s go!” He yells at Rick.
The squeals of the first piglet fill the air, causing more and more walkers from the horde to lunge and twist their bodies towards the sound. He takes out his knife, slicing the hind-leg just above the hip, making it unable to run away.
Rick waves forward, and Darcy unconsciously taps Daryl’s shoulder, “Go, go, go.” She tells him. They lurch forward, her eyes locked on Rick and waiting for his next signal.
“Alright!” He waves. “Hold up!”
“Okay.” Darcy tells Daryl, causing the truck to come to a sudden halt. And like a trail of breadcrumbs, Rick lets off the piglets one by one, further and further away from the prison and out towards the woods.
They stop for the last send-off. The milieu has changed completely as the two watch Rick, sagacious in knowing the distraught of the loss of Rick’s built up mold. The piglet does not squirm this time; it rests in its care givers arms with trust and willingness, not knowing its fate.
The blade cuts deeper than the others, spewing splatters of blood against Rick’s face. Darcy heedlessly grabs at Daryl’s vest, subconsciously needing his presence and his closeness. She takes a sharp intake of breath once she’s realized what she’s done and pulls away before glancing over at Daryl, he’s already looking at her empathetically under his lowered lids. He hated it as much as she did.
They left after that. Darcy takes off her gloves and tosses them against the gates where they were rightfully placed, separating herself from the others and Daryl as they back up to the prison in the snug spring afternoon.
She is unaware that he falls behind the others just for the sole purpose of looking over his shoulder. Daryl watches her and lets out a heavy breath as he adjusts his bow across his frame. He knows they won’t be able to keep this up for long.
There was a place he has to visit. He has thought about it and has tried to avoid it for some time, daring not to go there, the place where they sit in comfort and ease. That knowledge was frightening in its absolute decision. He doesn’t want to face her alone, he himself isn’t sure if he can bare it. But in a way it all was easy to accept because it has already taken place.
Daryl enters the cell, their cell. It’s a place where he sees no corpses, no blood, no weapons, or traces of struggle. Instead, he finds a familiar place of peace with freshly washed clothes and lights strung along the walls, an unmade bed that looked more than inviting, and the scent of hers that is just enough for him to slip inside for a short while before he separates himself entirely into cellblock A.
“You’re definitely not making this easy.”
He turns around in alarm. Darcy walks into the cell with her hands on her hips and her stare focused on the concrete beneath their feet. The sight quiets him for a moment.
“Just came to get my stuff.” He shrugs subtly, almost without notice. He bites the inside of his lip as his eyes flicker up and over to her. She gives a curt nod. “Best if ya don’ get too close.”
Darcy scoffs and turns slightly, “Right.”
“Where’d ya go this mornin’?” He asks.
The memory is still fresh in her mind and she shudders at the thought. She makes sure to have a firm ground before she answers. “Couldn’t sleep.”
“’S that all?” He questions. He folds his lips inward and waits.
She nods after a moment, “Mhm.”
“Glenn told me.” Daryl says. His voice is lowered as if to ease the tension he feels is coming. “Found ya all shaken up ‘n lost.”
Darcy runs a hand through her hair. “I wasn’t lost.” The air grew heavy, making it hard to breathe.
“Ya know what I mean.” He leans forward slightly, giving her the hint he knows something happened that spooked her. “What, are ya regretting stayin’ behind now?”
“What?” Darcy furrows her brow. “No, that’s not –“
“Daryl –“ The two turn towards the entrance of the cell. It’s Carol, breathing heavily from sprinting up the stairs. She looks towards Darcy with concern but ignores that they stand in close quarters. Instead, she gets an idea. “We need you. Both of you, actually. The more the better.”
“Everythin’ alright?” Daryl asks.
“What’s going on?” Darcy questions, following her with haste down the tombs with Daryl close behind. Her eyes trail to the floor. She’s walking in a trail path of dried blood leading outside.
Carol turns and looks over her shoulder before she reaches the door, “We’re not really sure anymore.”
The door is now pushed open and on the other side reveals the end of the trail. The blood is thicker, still wet, and leads to two bodies charred to nothing off to the side. The smell hits Darcy’s nostrils instantly and she covers her mouth from shock.
Daryl passes behind her and moves to hold her arms steady. “You stay over here ‘n away from us. Can only do so much.”
Rick stands opposite of Tyresse, both unmoving whilst they stare at the bodies. Daryl and Carol also move to try and make out who the victims are; but the trembling chin of Tyresse tells Darcy he already knows.
“You found them like this?” Rick’s voice is hoarse and he points lazily.
“I came to see Karen.” Tyresse motions with his hand at the path. “And I saw the blood on the floor. Then I smelled it…” He keeps replaying past events in order to understand what lead to this, but it only fuels the fire.
“Somebody dragged ‘em out here, and set them on fire!” His voice rises with each word. “They killed them and set ‘em on fire!”
Everyone is silent and unmoving, unsure in the slightest to know how to handle the situation. The tension rising in Tyresse’s blood hovers the group and Darcy knows the conditions in which they are about to enter have become a lot more hostile.
Tyresse bounces on his steps and faces Rick. The sudden rancor he presents sets off an alarm in Daryl’s brain. He sidesteps behind Tyresse just as Darcy takes a step forward from instinct.
“You a cop.” He growls. Tyresse’s thoughts scramble and his voice hardens. “You find out who did this and you bring them to me you understand? You bring them to me!”
“We’ll find out who –“ Tyresse pushes Daryl’s steady hand off of him and glares forward.
“I need to say it again?” Tyresse beckons.
“No, no.” Rick shakes his head. “I know what you’re feeling, I’ve been there. You saw me there. It’s dangerous –“
“Karen didn’t deserve this! David didn’t deserve it!” Tyresse ignores Rick’s attempts at calming him down. He is hell-bent on finding revenge. “Nobody does!”
In a more determined attempt, Daryl steps forward to try and pull Tyresse back. “Alright man, it’s pretty –“
“We ain’t goin’ nowhere until we find out who did this!” Tyresse whips around and strikes Daryl, pushing him forward into the cement wall with an arm against his throat. Darcy and the others run towards them to pull him off but Daryl waves them back.
He looks at Tyresse and purposely adopts a languid pose, “We’re on the same side, man.”
Rick lowers his voice to just above a whisper, “Hey look, I know what you’re going through. We’ve all lost someone.” Darcy paces slowly while she eyes Tyresse who can’t seem to break away from Daryl. “We know what you’re going through right now but you-you gotta calm down –“
Rick just taps Tyresse’s shoulder, thinking it would do much more than it did. It was then Tyresse switched persons, letting go of Daryl and throwing Rick away from him. “You better step the hell back!”
“Stop!” Darcy instinctively steps in between Rick and Tyresse. She holds out her hands shakily to both of them, knowing nothing would stop Tyresse from reacting the same against her as he did with Rick and Daryl.
He glares down at her threateningly, intimidating her with his tall and bulky mass filled with rage and pure hatred. “Step aside.”
“Darcy –“ Daryl calls out.
“No.” She shakes her head to disregard both of their commands. She keeps looking directly at Tyresse with pleading eyes to calm down and get his thoughts together. “We’re trying to help you. If you can just calm down –“
“Ain’t nobody need to tell me to calm down!” Tyresse advances her too close for comfort and she flinches when he yells in her face. “The way I see it your concern should be to find out who did this!”
Darcy grits her teeth as she feels his hitched breath strike against her cheek. “Are you gonna hit me too?” She challenges, her eyes pierce into his when she sees him falter for a quick second.
Tyresse nods his head, as if he’s not surprised at all at her stubbornness and strength of character. He regains his tall, intimidating stance as redness flowed into his cheeks. His anger still pounded through his veins as he stared down at the woman, eyes narrowed and chest rising up and down heavily.
“Stop, there’s no need for this.” Ricks stir behind her, “She wouldn’t want you actin’ like this.”
A spark went off, different from before. Darcy feels her feet leave the ground as she is pushed aside by the unstoppable force built up in Tyresse’s hands. She falls near Carol who’s stayed silent until now, reaching over and pulling Darcy up to her knees as they watch in horror Tyresse repeatedly hit Rick.
Daryl leaps over and pulls him back with all his strength. Darcy gains her footing and ignores the bruises on her shoulder as she lifts up Rick’s arm. His face is already blackening but it’s hard to tell from the crimson red that flows from his nose.
But he immediately stands up and something snaps. His fist flies at Tyresse so hard that it knocks him from Daryl’s hold and sends him to the ground. Rick walks over, standing above him and kicks him into his gut to turn him over on his back. Rick grabs Tyresse by the shoulders and smacks his back against the stonewall with a sickening crack before snatching a handful of hair and jolting his head backwards into the ground.
Tyresse yells out and slumps to the floor, a smear of blood remaining on the prison’s walls and matted against his hat. Another fist later, Rick hits Tyresse in the cheekbone that renders him defenseless for the rest of the fight just from the simple blow.
“Rick.” Daryl holds Darcy and Carol back with an arm. They all saw Rick wasn’t going to stop, so Daryl lurches forward and pulls him off of Tyresse who trembles on the ground.
“Let go of me!” Rick roars. “Let go of me!”
Daryl pushes Rick behind him and now stands in front of Tyresse. Darcy peers past the both of them at Tyresse, slumped against the wall, still barely conscious. Everyone would have thought otherwise if he hadn’t been gulping at the air in quivers.
“Jesus Christ.” She mutters, her voice barely above a whisper. Her eyes dart to Rick who is holding his hand, battered and bruised and at a crumpled angle. She walks over to him slowly.
“Let’s get you to Herschel.” She touches his shoulder and he flinches. “Rick, c’mon.” She beckons. Rick is disoriented from the flush of adrenaline tingling throughout his body.
“I’ll do it.” Daryl steps forward.
“No.” Darcy shakes her head then motions to Tyresse. Daryl nods and Rick lets Darcy lead him back into the tombs with ease. “We’ll be fine.”
Rick still holds his hands with a dazed stare, letting Darcy lead him into cellblock A where Herschel is already separated from the others. Technically, she wasn’t supposed to be there and they knew that, but these were demanding circumstances that needed to be dealt with.
Sasha comes out from the doorway, leaning heavily on her arms like her body was too much for her feet to handle. She sways and coughs to clear her throat when she sees them heading her way, and Darcy can see the flushed color overwhelming her features.
Darcy motions Rick to go find Herschel on his own then since they’ve reached the cellblock, and stands in front of Sasha. “We’re holding a –“ She coughs, “A Council meeting in the morning, first thing. I’m sure a lot of people would –“ She stops to catch her breath, “They would appreciate you being there. Just think about it.”
“Sasha –“ Darcy holds out her arms to her for support. She’s tripping over herself as she makes her way past Darcy and a coughing fit ensues.
“I know.” She nods, worry in her eyes. “I need to see Dr. S.”
Thoughts, questions, ideas?