The Darkest Storm
Loss remains a devastating word. It holds within a simple phrase that conjures up the power of the ultimate type of destruction; to be completely severed – cut off entirely – from what could or should have been.
Correlating with specific and intimate memories and emotions, loss can ultimately succumb a human being to their worst – shrinking back into the dark folds of their mind and into those remnants of time, now appearing only as a dry riverbed of meaningless events. A charade for the world’s own amusement.
So, needless to say, it does not come as a shock to Darcy when she finds almost the entire prison destroyed when she wakes from her sudden and unwelcomed slumber.
Dazed and confused, the light streams around her shine bright, and hazy. She lifts her head and squints at the immediate pain she feels throbbing throughout her body. Blood drips from the fresh gash in her forehead. New cuts and bruises line the frame of her fragile body.
Once she is able to successfully pick her head up and dig her palms deep into the cobble beneath her, she notices she can hear nothing. Everything around her has suddenly fallen silent, and a new wave of brightness overtakes her as she forces open her heavy eyelids and looks into the flames engulfing the prison; her home.
Growing dizzy as she tries to pull herself forward, she knows she can’t stay here – not now, not in the open where walkers roam about ruthlessly. She has to get back over to Daryl; he can get them both out of here. But once she’s on her feet, Darcy realizes her escape may not be so simple.
Where Daryl once was is now completely vacant. In her mind, the explosion had only happened a few moments ago. But the more she starts to have her senses return back to her, the more she grasps the feeling of true reality; everyone is gone.
“Daryl?” She calls out.
Darcy takes a few steps and somehow winds up on her hands and knees again. She falls disoriented to the ground and senses her body only faintly. She bangs her head, stubs her toes, and scrapes her knees. She doesn’t know where her arms and legs are without looking thanks to the blow. Even her sense of smell, taste, and touch, fade.
She waits for a few seconds to let it pass, but in reality, she just doesn’t have that kind of time. Walkers are beginning to rush the gates and fields and if she doesn’t act soon, she won’t make it out alive.
The last standing guard tower then crumbles just as she’s made it to the spot among the fence-line where she left Daryl. It’s still empty, and without any other sign of where he went or if he even got out, panic begins to set in.
Darcy’s lips part slightly and her heartbeat quickens. She can feel her pulse inside her throat as it begins to thicken. She doesn’t know where to look, or even go. She’s unable to articulate her own scrambling thoughts or even get a good grip on the fences to hold her up.
The crackling throat of a walker nearby snaps Darcy back to focus. She sees it; just there next to the tank, bending over and digging it’s skinless hands into a man’s stomach. She recognizes the fallen as people’s she’s fought – and people she’s lived with.
As she suddenly becomes aware of her struggling breath hitching out from her lungs, she takes another glance at the war zone. Her eyes graze over the dozens of bodies scattered throughout the inner courtyard and fields of the prison.
This will forever be one of those memories seared into Darcy’s mind, and those of the fallen will be lost forever. Many of their memories will no longer exist, and stay trapped in their bodies and spirits too far gone to envision those times of love, happiness, and even loss, again.
It was no great secret that most of them could never survive out there on the road, just as Darcy was once again forced to do alone for however long she can carry herself forward. The old, the sick, the very young; it was a fact that she feels most knew, and that is why they fought so hard to keep the prison they called home.
But as she flees towards the woods Darcy is now faced with the complete and utter torment of reality: everyone is dead. She is alone.
They say you die twice. Once when you pass, and the second when your name is said for the last time. She regrets the chances that passed her by to meet each and every one of them. Instead, she carried on with her core group from the beginning, not really bothering to know the stranger’s names and stories. And now, she bites her lip and draws blood at the desperate attempt to even say one name so they could not die.
It is because of the enemy, the enemy of time, walkers, that people have turned inhumane and against each other for simple luxuries and necessities in order to survive in this kind of world. There are simply not enough resources to care for all the physical and psychological troubles they face anymore. It is until a person is desperate enough to want to take it from another that makes the change. Or, maybe, the threat on the extinction of mankind just illuminated what was already inside each and every one of them. She sees it now, as hard as it was to accept and fulfill, Darcy sees it.
As she laces her fingers through, the fences feel a little bit colder than she remembers. Her eyes peer the growing crowd, combing each and every body with her gaze, as she stands alone, hoping to see at least one person alive that she knew from before. But she drops her hands like they’re dead weight. And as the evening sun starts to set, it focuses on the blood dripping from her fingertips.
Blanketed with dirt, smoke, blood, and somewhat questionable ooze, Darcy steps back from the fences and disappears into the forest. There were too many out there to be safe. It’s amazing how quickly your world can be shred apart. They’ve all seen it before; they’ve all been through it. But it was different this time, much different. Everyone was gone.
The whole thing feels more like a dream than reality. They were supposed to make it – the ones who got off the farm. It’s all very surreal, and as she slowly and lightly grazes her fingertips alongside the tall brush beside her, she leaves a small trail of blood as she goes. Maybe it hasn’t quite hit her yet.
Walkers bring her head up from the ground, her hair matted to her face and the same crimson liquid trickles from her lip. She licks her cut, glaring and gritting her teeth soon after. She grips her axe tightly and swings, killing the first in an instant and swiftly turning right after to hit the second. It all feels so slow.
Darcy sets down her weapon by her hip, and breathes. Taking a look around, she is reminded of that day on the farm. The smoke weaving it’s way through the trees and into her lungs, being separated from the rest, running through the woods completely lost with only one direction to head in which was the highway. She was running for the others, towards Daryl…but there was nothing left to run to now.
The shock has finally worn off. Darcy’s breath hitches in her throat as everything finally catches up to her. The gunfire, the fences, the Governor…Hershel.
“Hershel…” She whimpers out, falling to her knees and steadying herself by the palms of her hands. Her eyes are rimmed with red and they start to grow hazy. And suddenly it happens; a constant run of the thoughts of Daryl, Rick, Maggie - all of them - through her head, playing all of their moments together like a film that she can’t push pause on. The tears start flowing, and she doubles over with sorrow.
The world seems to be spinning in slow, lopsided circles, and she wonders if she might black out again. She leans over on both hands, digging her palms into the earth and clutching the leaves beneath her. Darcy thinks there may have been a Cherokee rose underneath her hands, but now it’s reduced to crumples in her fist. She doesn’t even know she’s crushing it, but she guesses she has to hold onto something while her world veers out of control.
Darcy wipes her eyes with her wrist, smearing more dirt and blood over her features. This is what she’s been given; the consequence of loosing those she loved and cared for because she couldn’t do what needed to be done before everything else got out of hand. She was alone, forced to move on by herself until God knows what else came along.
She forces herself to stand, sit up at least. Darcy is trying so hard to accept everything that has happened, and what it has done to her, but she’s filled with so much sorrow and anger that she has to flush her face with hot tears, tiring herself out so she feels like she can sleep this chaos all away.
She stands shakily, tears clouding her eyes even though her whimpers are silent now, and faces the tree behind her. It’s good for climbing, good for a night’s shelter, and good for what was undoubtedly going to be a restless nights sleep. The only trouble was mustering up enough strength in her physically and emotionally strained body to get up there.
“C’mon.” She urges herself. “You’ve climbed trees before. C’mon.”
The rustling of leaves amongst the forest floor is heavy behind her that makes her fingers dig into the bark a little bit tighter. Her breath is shallow as she turns her head slowly, fearing the dead that lingers behind her is someone familiar…someone she knew from before.
But when she does turn around she sees that the faces of the small herd surrounding her have no skin left to put a face too. So she runs. Tripping over small roots that stick out from the soil, fumbling to catch her breath and just…run.
She’s still trembling, light-headed, and gasping for air while the ones trying to catch her cloud her thoughts entirely. Her boots beat hard against the ground, splaying a puddle of water up against the trees she passes, and up onto her face and neck.
She is breathing fast. Something keeps her moving forward, though. Maybe it’s her conscious will to survive. Or perhaps it’s something she’s used too, plain and simple. But she moves onward nonetheless, without even a spark of hope she’ll make it very far.
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