The Darkest Storm
How the Ranks Was Won
Her hand encloses around the pale, cold fingers belonging to the still body in front of her. She sits casually at the foot of the bed, one leg still touching the floor, with a mop in her other hand’s clutch.
A weak, trembling forearm wipes the stray blonde hairs away from her face, the ones tickling her long eyelashes. The rough material of the cast compressing her wrist together scratchers her lightly. She winces, pulling it away and sighing heavily; she keeps forgetting it’s even there.
A whistle flows smoothly out from behind the door. The girl takes a quick glance over her right shoulder, her bright blue eyes matching the source. A young, tall, lanky boy bobs his head back down the hall with warning eyes. Someone is coming.
In an instant, the small girl hobbles to her feet and continues to mop the old tiles of the hospital, hearing fast pace, hard footsteps pass their room without so much as a glance in their direction.
Beth looks behind her, and then towards the body in the bed. The heart monitor continues at a slow and steady pace. The IV drips one to three times per minute. All seems well, even with the bandage wrapped around the forehead of the victim, a stitched up and equally bandaged shoulder, and small cuts lining the eyes.
Despite seeing her old friend there, Beth smiles. She can only think about the joy he would feel if he were there, the fulfillment of hope resonating on her shoulders. After all this time, here she was, one of their own.
Another whistle later, this time rushed, Beth knows she has to move on with her chores. Fifteen minutes in one room is too long. Dawn would suspect something soon. And if her and Noah were going to make it out of here with Darcy, she has to remain as uninterested as possible.
Beth places the mop in the bucket, and begins to wheel it out of the small room. When she makes it to the door, she takes one last glance over her shoulder.
“Darcy…” She begins. “You are one of the strongest people I have ever known. You can hold on for a little while longer. You have too. I know you can.”
A group of policemen walk by, and Beth awkwardly scoots the bucket on the other side of the door leading to the hallway.
“We’ll make it out of here. Together.”
Slowly, like embers on a dying fire, Darcy’s consciousness sparks and sputters. Under the seemingly obsidian waves, the darkness threatens to pull her back. The grey, hazy fold she finds herself in slowly dissipates.
The battery powered monitors come into view; the green static quickly scatters and exposes the ends of her trails of thoughts that are lost. At first, the sensory detail is overwhelming. After being tucked away inside herself for God knows how long, she has forgotten where she was and who she was for a split second.
A split second of a frame, of a memory, flickers in her mind:
GLENN GO TO TERMINUS.
MAGGIE. SASHA. BOB.
And then, the shadows consume her again.
Darcy’s eyes flutter to try to stay open. Her hand rushes to the back of her skull, feeling the intense tender area just at the base. Her eyes go wide, suddenly slapped with the realization that she was most likely not alone in here – wherever she was exactly.
Her right palm flies to her forehead, feeling the tight wrap around her head. She peels it off, hands shaking, hearing the monitors pick up in sync with her increased heartbeat. Her skin begins to sweat as she panics to rip out the IV taped to her arm.
She hears footsteps coming from the hallway and she jerks her head up at the sound. Flipping the sheets off of her, she leaps down from the bed, holding onto the opposite counter installed on the wall just beside her. She winces at the aches flowing throughout her body, desperate to try and get behind the door before whoever decides to come through.
Just as she leaps behind the door…it opens. The body on the other side stands in dubiety and honestly, blinking in amusement that he may in fact have the wrong room. But no, he’s sure.
“What the –“
Survival instincts kick in – as of right now, Darcy isn’t exactly sure if anything else exists. She waits for him to move into the room further, adjusting his glasses on his face, staring in ignorance to inspect the oddly, unsatisfying situation before him.
Spanning down, Darcy is twisting the wrap bandage from her head around her knuckles, crouching low behind and eying the man in the white lab coat, who’s fingers still linger on the handle behind him. With a sharp intake of breath, it all happens in a manner of seconds.
Darcy kicks the door to her right closed, jumping onto the man’s back while bringing her arms over his head, looping the bandage around his neck and pulling with whatever strength she might have recovered while asleep. He falters, reaching up to grab at the cloth choking him and slams Darcy back into the wall behind her.
“Dr. Edwards!” The handle jiggles. It’s locked.
The two fall to the floor, Darcy still tugging as the man falls with his back on top of her. Her feet are still wrapped around his mid-section, and she feels his struggling quickly starting to diminish. She closes her eyes – blocking all senses out of mind and out of sight – even the keys jingling in the door lock.
The door slams open. A small, petite blonde appears over the shoulder of the man, shock ridden on her face as she steps forward to kneel down next to the now fading man.
“Beth?” Darcy manages to yell over the coughing of the Doctor she’s now released from a moment of tumult. She pushes herself across the floor backwards and up against the wall.
Darcy looks to the unexpected visitors. Two cops stand in the doorway, a woman with pulled back hair and bright blue eyes stares back. She sees her lips moving but Darcy is so caught up in a daze she can’t hear what she’s saying.
Darcy won’t at first. It’s not in her nature. She’s still head spinning in a never ending whirlwind of chaos and insanity that she just uses her right arm for support as she gets herself to stand, feeling as though she can just slip back into nothingness and wake up on the railroad tracks where she was supposed to be.
“You want another hole in your shoulder?” The policewoman in front of her asks. Darcy takes notice now of the pistol firmly aimed at her frame. “Get your hands up.”
Lightly, without showing much effort, Darcy raises her hands slightly, resulting in a more of an open-faced palm. The other officer moves forward, kicking Darcy’s bare feet apart and spinning her up against the wall with a hard force. Her hands are put in zip-ties tightly behind her back before being thrusted across the room away from the others.
“Well, well, already making trouble, huh?” The gruesome voice whispers in her ear, unnoticed to the others in the room who are still trying to help the Doctor to his feet.
When everything seems to have calmed down, the officer turns to Darcy with a scowl across her hard features. “Are you done?” She raises her voice. Darcy gives a small nod, eyes still glued to Beth across the room. The girl shakes her head pleadingly.
“Well it seems formalities are out of the question.” Officer Dawn gives her attention to the Doctor, hands rubbing his throat and eyes still wide. “Well?”
“We briefly met.” He smiles sarcastically while letting out one last cough. “I’m Doctor Steven Edwards. This is Officer Dawn, and behind you there is O’Donnell. You’ve suffered many injuries, including concussion –“
“Where the hell am I.” Darcy demands through clenched teeth.
Edwards sighs, he's been through this speech too many times, “You’re at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta –“
“Atlanta?! You have got to be fucking kidding me.” Darcy attempts to wrench her tied hands away from the man behind her, who’s hand has - unnoticed by the others in the room - started to graze a little far south on her backside.
“My officers found you, passed out on the road.” Dawn rolls her eyes and crosses her arms. “You were barely alive when they found you.”
Darcy scoffs. “Is that what you tell all the people you kidnap?”
“You had a concussion, multiple contusions, and with the laceration on your shoulder,” Edwards adjusts his glasses again. “I’m surprise you made it this far.”
Dawn raises her eyebrows. “We saved your life. You owe us.”
The feeling that lurched in Darcy’s heart was indescribable. She narrows her eyes after letting a moment of silence pass through them. “I don’t owe you shit.”
“If we hadn’t saved you, you would be one of them right now.” Dawn bobs her head out the window behind Darcy, displaying the rotten city that she once fought to get out of.
“You didn’t save me.” Darcy tries to take a step forward but is instantly pulled back. “You brought me back here, in a surrounded city –“
Dawn sighs exaggeratingly. “Listen, I don’t care what you think or what you believe. The fact is: we helped you.” She shrugs. “You’re healthy again. Well, as healthy as you can be after almost a week’s worth of treatment.”
Dawn uncrosses her arms and squares herself up against Darcy, taking a step forward while watching her eyes dash to the girl behind her just trying to make sense of it all.
“We did you a favor. And now it’s only fair that you return it.”
“And if I don’t?” Darcy questions.
“Then you stay here. For as long as you have too.” Dawn motions to cut Darcy loose and for the others to exit the room. “The longer you stay, the more you take.” Dawn turns to close the door behind her but looks back at the woman with proud eyes.
“And everything costs something.”
A pensive silence consumes her quarters. Darcy glances around, hopeless. She hears the keys in the lock and before she knows it, she’s bolted inside the small cubicle of a room.
Darcy turns her head, stunned at where she finds herself. Staring towards the window and outward at the city, she focuses on the location of the building. She’s familiar with the city, hell; she’s visited it more than once.
It was once dreamlike. But now as she scans the area and reveals more and more sections of the street below…she still sees them. More and more walkers traveling through – an ocean of them – it still hasn’t changed.
And she’s right smack in the middle of it.
Well, well, well...look who decided to show up (me).