The Darkest Storm
Days have passed. This time, Darcy isn’t able to sleep though it so easily.
She knows. She knows that Daryl is, or rather, was alive according to Beth’s knowledge. Being in a similar position about Maggie, Beth struggles in her own state of exuberance yet uncertainty as well. Now, they just needed to get out of here.
A day ago, Beth and Noah tried to make their escape. Being that Darcy has neither heard nor seen the two of them, she hopes they’ve made it out. And since her door has been permanently locked since that time, she’s very certain that the Officer’s have noticed and are taking extra precaution.
The plan was if Beth could even find a hint of their old group, maybe – just maybe – they could rally to get them back to her in time. They have a location at least – judging by Maggie’s blood written signage back by the railroad – it was whatever this so called "Terminus” held. Darcy just hopes with whatever fire was left inside of her that the place was what it claimed to be on the tracks.
What she doesn’t know is that only Noah has made it out of their so-called “refuge.” She doesn’t know that Noah isn’t the only living thing roaming about in the city as she sits in the silence. Darcy only sits unknowingly, hearing only the metal wheels of carts topped with a limp body strolling down the halls.
But behind the noise and the unknowing, there is something interminable and unvarying. Liberation and promise lie just outside, in a white van dangling by its back wheels over a bridge. And they too, are unknowing to what dwells inside the stained covered walls of the building.
Back to the present, Darcy watches helplessly as the day drags on and on. Only to be confined by the quiet and loneliness of what she looks out onto – the claustrophobic alleys, foul air, and suffocation by the bodies far down below her window – she can’t watch them for very long at one time. It eventually becomes an enormous source of anxiety, making her sick in anticipation with the sliver of hope that Daryl and the others, possibly, were out there.
To avoid this restlessness inside of her, she stares at her hands.
They rest in her lap; long and thin, knuckles scathed and cut. The tiny follicles of blonde hair are covered in dirt and grime. Her nails are chipped. God knows what is stuck underneath them. One has a blood blister resting just below the cuticle line.
She used to get her nails done. She remembers the fun colors like light bubblegum, tangerine, and mint. She remembers sitting in the soft chairs and getting them clipped and filed. But now it’s all different. She’s different.
She bites her lip, and becomes saddened. Her right palm now faces her; the once smooth, soft skin is now coarse and calloused. She used to put on lotion. She used to take care of herself. But now, she’s not sure if she even wants too.
The door clicks open across the room. Darcy lifts her head from the window overlooking the city. Dawn appears carrying a tray of food. The sight of something as simple as an apple flips her concentration. Her stomach feels dry, empty. Her mouth waters.
The officer steps inside the room. She doesn’t bring up her eyes to meet the woman she’s locked in here for days. Closing the door softly behind her, Dawn sets the tray down on the counter.
Before she turns around, Darcy looks back out to the city. “Starving yourself won’t make anything better.”
“If I die it will.” Darcy mumbles.
“Don’t be so dramatic.” Dawn nods towards the food. “No strings. Promise.”
Darcy doesn’t budge but leans her head just enough so she could see the Officer. “What do you want?”
“To give you the chance to repay your debt.”
“Talk about being dramatic.” Darcy rolls her eyes and looks outwards again.
“I’m serious.” Dawn leans her back against the counter and crosses her arms. “One job. That’s all you’ll have to do. And I’ll let you go.”
Darcy narrows her eyes and picks her head up off the glass. “Why?”
“Because I’m tired.” Dawn says matter-of-factly. Her eyes are sunken in, dark circles rest under her lids. “I’m tired of fighting you. I have other things to worry about. Like the safety of these wards, and my officers.”
Darcy moves to sit on the edge of the windowsill. Her hair falls over her shoulders as she does. She rests her hands on either side of her thighs, completely curious yet on-guard about whatever this woman was going to command of her to do.
“No tricks. Just one job.” Dawn repeats herself. “Are you in?”
“What do you want me to do?” Darcy asks solemnly.
“It’s simple. You find Noah, bring him back here, you can leave.” A sharp pain shoots through Darcy’s chest. “We know he’s still in the city and all we need is someone to lure him out. Someone who’s strong enough to fight if they get into trouble and someone he trusts.”
“What makes you think he trusts me?” Darcy asks, hiding her amusement for the situation. There was no way she’d hand over Noah.
“You’re from Beth’s old group.” Dawn says it like it’s obvious. “You’re friends with her, she’s friends with him. There’s a foundation there.”
Darcy takes a deep breath in and adverts her gaze to the tiles on the floor. “Did she make it out?”
Dawn shakes her head, “No. We caught her before she reached the gate. She’s replaced Noah as my ward for now.”
Darcy raises her eyebrows and purses her lips to make her mockery known. “Lucky her.”
“Look,” Dawn stands up from the counter. “This is a very fragile system that we’re trying to keep here. If I let Noah running away slide, consequences will follow. For everyone.”
“You’re scared.” Darcy brings her head up and meets the woman’s stare. “Of looking weak.”
Dawn’s face is etched in discern and flummox. Then, before a second has passed, she turns vex. “Do you want to leave, or not? Because this is your only chance.”
Darcy nods her head. “I’ll do it.”
“Good.” Dawn turns towards the door. “You’ll wait for my orders here.”
Breaths are sharply caught in throats. Stares are wide and unbelieving. The tall, completely shaken and in disbelief, boy wobbles. He’s once again succumbed to a higher authority just based on the pure instinct of survival. And they demanded answers.
“You know her?” Noah takes a wobbly step back and looks down quickly, mouth dropped when he realizes one more crucial factor. “Well, then, you know Darcy?”
Daryl lunges forward and catches Noah by his collar. “What did you just say?” His fist tightens. It’s far too close for comfort by Noah’s neck. “What did you just say?!”
Noah grasps at Daryl’s hold against him and struggles. “D-Darcy! They brought her in – they brought her in about a week ago!”
“Don’ you lie to me!”
As if in a drunken stupor, Daryl’s voice cracks and he stumbles with his step. A pained, yet elated expression covers his features but his bright blue eyes illuminate his well-given threat while begging for an answer as his grip on Noah becomes violent.
“I’m not!” Noah yells, grimacing. “She’s there! I swear!”
The bottom lip of the archer trembles. His hair covers his eyes but he looks to the woman across from him nonetheless. Carol’s mouth is dropped, her eyes carry a wide stare, and her grip on her rifle falters.
And suddenly, an odd sort of weight has been lifted from his shoulders. But his head begins to throb with the rapid beat of his heart. His hair stands on end and he feels as if lightning has just struck his body. He’s not sure if he should smile, give a sigh of relief, or run.
The fact of the matter is: Darcy was alive. His friend, his best friend, was alive. He would be able to see her, hear her, touch her again and the idea was simply too good to be true. He gives a solid nod, bringing his lip back firmly and clenching his jaw tightly.
I'm very excited for the next chapter - I can't even explain how ready I am. Hopefully, for everyone's sake, it will be up sooner rather than later. Thank you for all your comments and messages!! I can't say enough how much I appreciate them!
Let me know what you think!