The Darkest Storm
Darcy flinches backwards when a loud thud bangs on the window beside her. They are surrounded by the undead, snarling and clawing the car in a weak but desperate attempt to reach the bodies inside. For a peace of mind, Darcy pushes down the lock knob slowly.
Daryl whips around and transitions the car in reverse. “Grab somethin’!”
Darcy pushes her palms into Michonne’s seat to hold herself steady. They all look around them at the walkers who fall and get nicked by the car just barely. Soon, the bumps grow larger and more frequent. They come to a halt with the back tires spinning out.
“Go to the left!” Michonne points.
Darcy spins in her seat and sees more approaching bodies. “It’s jammed up!”
“Alright make a run for the gaps right there!” Daryl points. “If you can run for the woods you don’ stop for nothin’ ya hear me?”
Darcy has one hand still pressed hard into the headrest in front of her, and the other on the silver doorknob to her right. Only for a moment, the passengers in the car stop and are quiet as they wait for their driver’s signal.
Her breaths are shallow and she grits her teeth to help hold herself steady against the rocking of the car. Darcy’s eyes unconsciously flicker towards Daryl and he is staring straight back at her.
He gives a nod, just a single nod, to tell her it’s okay and to make sure he is understood. But it’s also the nod that makes her fully aware of her surroundings now, as well as in the past. It’s the nod that sends a wave of remembrance of all their adventures and close calls, and it’s a nod that brings her senses out from her inner being and all she can smell, feel, and recognize is the past two years since their meeting in Atlanta.
And in a second, the familiarity and comfort is gone.
“Now!” Daryl pushes through the sunroof on the car just as Michonne opens her door and spears the first walker in sight.
“C’mon, c’mon let’s go Darcy!” Bob cries. Darcy fumbles with the lock, shaking trying to pluck the small knob from its position just as she hears Daryl’s impatient command to get moving.
Finally, she gets it unlocked and kicks the door open just as Daryl slides down the front of the car and runs around to the door. Petrified at the fact walkers are coming at her from all angles, she gets to her feet outside the car and has no time to figure out a pathway. But even if she did, there wasn’t one. There was no clear-cut trail to follow or aim for.
The distance to run is a lot longer than what she’s hoped for, and navigating the zigzag and erratic run she’d have to take takes a little more skill than running through an empty field, but when she swings her axe and cuts through the neck of a walker flawlessly, she ignores all the facts and decides to run for it just as she was told.
As she starts to run, her body seems oddly light and she cuts through the dead bodies lunging for her and the others with a little less skill than she though she needed, almost as if it were effortless. She ducks under arms, jumps over the fallen. The bodies were just spread out enough for them to maneuver through.
Then suddenly, as Darcy and the others reach the edge of the woods, the crowd has thinned out drastically. She raises her bow, warding off any on comers from the road as Bob joins them, but none of the walkers seem interested in pursing them.
Sure enough, Tyresse has jumped out of the car with a feeling of indifference and whatever self-loathing rests in his veins. He blindly raises his hammer up and down, beating on the dozens of skulls that enclose him in a tight circle, and Darcy knows there is no getting him out if the others sacrificed themselves first. They had to keep moving.
“Le’s go.” Daryl lightly touches Darcy’s arm. He still holds tight in his grasp his hunting knife, and she can feel the blood dripping from it onto the spot where it meets contact with her skin.
In the woods, it’s no different from the road. The dead come at them at all angles, bobbing on their weak heels and ankles, their joints barely holding them up anymore yet they proved to be still strong.
They suddenly stop within a random clearing at Daryl’s signal. It’s starting to rain, and already Darcy’s hair has clung to her skin mixed with her sweat. She sees Daryl load his bow as he faces the way they came, raising it up slowly and stepping towards the shuffling bushes and trees behind them. Darcy’s heart aches with wondering, nervousness, and she is ultimately preparing herself for anything that was about to step out from the edge.
Tyresse is the one who falters through the opening and drops to his knees. Covered in blood and splatters of flesh, he surprisingly doesn’t have one scratch on him. Darcy sighs with relief and hurriedness, running over to him and attempting to lift him up by herself before Daryl comes over to help her.
Michonne approaches them quick on her feet, “Gotta find someplace far enough from the road – this place is crawling with walkers. Maybe even some miles out, too.”
Darcy adjusts the placement and weight of Tyresse’s arm on her shoulder. “It’s mid-day now we’ll loose the light soon enough if we go on foot. We need to find a vehicle and quick.”
“Yeah, but for right now, Michonne’s right. Le’s focus on gettin’ somewhere safe.” Daryl nods, grunting as he pulls Tyresse forwards to walk. “Probably have to hunker down for the night, get our shit together.”
“We ain’t loosing the night!” Tyresse barks through harsh breaths.
Darcy grinds her teeth in frustration at his temper tantrum. “Are you kidding?” She scoffs and feels the sweat drip down her face. “You can barely walk let alone stand up by yourself.”
“Ya’ll didn’t even give me a chance!” He yells back.
Darcy suddenly lets go completely of Tyresse and has her half of him fall to his knees. Daryl can’t hold him up by himself and he halfway falls with him.
“Darcy, what the hell -“ Daryl huffs.
“Let him walk Daryl, if the man says he can.” She puts her hands on her hips. Tyresse’s face falls once he realizes she is right. He immediately struggles with his left leg and his breathing is still rapid.
Darcy steps close and kneels over to be face to face to him. “You are no use to Sasha or anybody else if you’re dead. You sat in that car and waited and that ain’t nobody else’s fault but your own.”
The others have the same look in their eyes as they watch Darcy unfold. The sudden anger seemed as if it was a bottle cap ready to explode and it was out of nowhere. They stand and watch, a delayed response to see how far she would take this and if they could see where it came from.
“You’re angry, I get that. We all lost people.” She looks back and forth between his eyes that held such sternness but didn’t waver her in the least. “But don’t you dare just sit there and wait for the world to pass when there are people back there that we can save, like Sasha. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and do something.”
“What?” Tyresse shrugs. Venom spits from his mouth. “Like you did when you ran off lookin’ for the Governor?”
Daryl sees Darcy narrow her eyes when she takes a step back. “Alright, le’s just calm down ‘n keep movin’ –“
“That’s not the same.” She shakes her head and pushes Daryl’s arm away as if he wasn’t even there.
“Can’t let it go can you?” Tyresse smiles tauntingly. “Had to run away from it all. You ran away trying to forget everything he did.”
“I remember what he did every damn day.” Darcy rolls her jaw and clenches her fists.
“Ty, quit it.” Michonne warns. After all, it wasn’t just Darcy who left looking for him.
Tyresse continues to taunt Darcy despite Michonne’s words. “You had people counting on you, too. Didn’ care who you hurt or who you left behind…”
He shakes his head without a care of his actions. “Like Carl. You say he’s like a lil’ brother to you and you didn’t even hesitate. At least Michonne brings back comics for the kid.”
Darcy places her hands on her hips with no retort and hangs her head.
“Alright, man, knock it off. It ain’t the time.” Bob waves his hand.
Tyresse continues to taunt her. “And like my boy here, Daryl.” Eyes shift and the two hunters meet with all focus on them. “Walking around like some, lost pup waiting for you to come back –“
The sensations that flow through Darcy’s veins at the sound of Daryl’s name and the guilt that was associated with it and Carl’s was too much for her to handle at this point. Her skin becomes flushed and her hands begin to shake. Her vision becomes cloudy, and from her rushed breathing her throat becomes dry even in the humid air.
Darcy lurches forward with her hand, rotating her fist until it has forcefully hit Tyresse in his already bruised cheekbone. The contact makes a sickly sweet sound against the soft tissue, and Tyresse falls to his hands immediately.
Darcy’s feet leave the ground and she spins as Daryl places her down a few feet away from Tyresse. She rips out of his grasp and pushes him away, rage still bringing fire to her eyes.
“Darcy - ” He puts up his hands and steps in front of her when she tries to get around him. Tyresse is holding his cheek, a bit of blood drips from the re-opened cut from Rick, and Michonne is next to him.
“Fuck you, Tyresse!” She points, pushing away Daryl’s arm again. She’s on the verge of tears. “You don’t know what he did. You can’t even begin to imagine the things he’s done.”
Tyresse looks up to her still holding his cheek. “He almost executed Maggie and Glenn. Set Daryl against his own brother. He attacked the prison. Killed Merle. Killed dozens of innocent people, including soldiers. Lied to them to stay in charge.”
Darcy takes a step away and turns around, but decides to face him again. “He kidnapped me. Tortured me. Threatened to kill everyone I love. And then your friend, the widower,” She shakes her head and forces a smile. ”He was sent in right after and beat me too.”
“Darcy, c’mon ya ain’t gotta prove –“ Daryl huffs and finally steps back when she pushes his hand away once again.
“I ran out looking for him because I needed to stop him. Not because I wanted to run away from it all and forget about it, because I can’t. And you can’t.” She breathes in deeply, suddenly feeling sorry for him and calms herself down.
“I’m sorry what happened to her, I really am. But we can still do something. We can get those meds to our people, save Sasha, Glenn, everyone. You just gotta let it go.”
Tyresse plants both palms on the ground and nods. For a moment, everyone is still and quiet. They wait for another blown up response or a futile attempt at breaking the other down first.
But instead, Tyresse sighs and looks up to her, “Let’s find a place for the night, then.”