A Veil of Black and Gold
T-Dog had already been cooking when Daryl and Nicole got to the kitchen area. It was quite obvious that some of the group where feeling the after effects of last night’s alcohol consumption. Nicole went up to Glen, who was getting his shoulder’s rubbed by Jacqui, and shouted right next to his head.
“Good morning, Glen!” Lori, T-Dog, Carl, Sophia and Dale busted out laughing as Glen held his head in his hands.
“That was for the shower, wasn’t it?” He groaned, as he began to slowly fork eggs into his mouth.
“It sure was,” Nicole ruffled his hair as she went to rejoin Daryl. Jenner then walked in and everyone greeted him. Shane walked in a little bit after him and Nicole could’ve sworn she saw Lori tense up. She also noticed that Shane had a pretty crazy scratch on his face.
She wondered if something happened between the two of them last night. Just like the something that happened between her and her own brother. Right at that moment, Bubba and Rael walked into the kitchen area. Bubba was pulling Rael, who looked to be suffering from a very bad hangover.
She also got a full extent of what she did to his face; his left ear was ripped slightly, his eyes were red and he had scratches all over his face. She didn’t know what to think about her brother anymore. There had to be a logical explanation to why he tried to kill her last night.
Could it have just been the alcohol mixed with the stress of the world falling apart?
She didn’t know, and she just wanted to enjoy a nice breakfast with Daryl without thinking about anything like that.
She pulled her long hair into a high ponytail and thanked T-Dog as he handed her a plate.
“Damn girl, I didn’t know you were a freak!” T-Dog yelled out and she looked at him with a very confused look.
“What are you talking about?” She asked. Glen softly laughed and she turned to face him.
“Well, I told T-Dog about what I had a feeling was going on when I went to let you know that the shower was free.” Nicole still wasn’t catching on.
“Ok, so me and Daryl were having sex, what’s the big deal?”
“It looks like it was that rough sex,” T-Dog pointed to her neck. “You like that kind of stuff, don’t you?”
It finally clicked. Rael left bruises on her neck from last night.
She had to think fast, before Daryl claimed he didn’t know anything about that.
She reached under the table and squeezed Daryl’s hand.
“Yea, I enjoy a little rough housing every now and then, that’s not a crime. I also don’t recall asking permission for how I enjoy my sex life so you and Glen could mind your own business.” She smirked at T-Dog who raised his hands up.
“Hey, whatever works for you two, I’m not judging.” He continued to serve and Nicole turned to Daryl, who was able to see the fingertip bruises that covered her neck. He hid his initial shock but anger burned in his eyes. He couldn’t hide that from Nicole.
She leaned into kiss his cheek and she whispered in his ear.
“I have to tell you something, but not here, not now,” He sighed and gave her a slight nod, reassuringly squeezing her hand.
While she ate, he glared at her brother, his suspicions from last night seemed to buzz around in his head like angry killer bees.
Rael was the kind that would kill his sister; Nicole had confirmed that for Daryl without even saying a word.
Once everyone had finished eating, Andrea and Dale brought a very important matter to light: what was going on here?
The doctor led the group to the big room he first brought them to. He went on to explain that what they were about to see, very few people ever saw.
“Vi, give us a playback of TS-19.”
“PLAYBACK OF TS-19,” Vi responded and the big screen lit up and began showing what looked to be an MRI.
“Eww, what’s that, a brain?” Sophia called out as she held on tighter to Carol.
“That is correct,” Jenner answered. “This brain was very smart.” He got a faraway look in his eyes and shook his head slightly. “Go to enhanced internal view.”
“ENHANCED INTERNAL VIEW,” Vi called out and on the screen where the neurons and inner workings of the human brain. They were firing and all lit up like a blue Christmas tree.
“What’s up with all them lights?” Shane asked.
“You don’t know what those are?” Nicole asked. Shane looked at her and shook his head.
“I’m a cop, darling, not a brain surgeon.” He slightly chuckled as she rolled her eyes.
“Well, ‘them lights’,” She began, mocking his tone. “are synapses. Those things are what make Shane Walsh Shane Walsh. They make Rick what he is and Sophia what she is. They’re what make me good at math and Rael,” She looked over at her brother who was watching her with a familiar look. It was the look he had when she won a math award her senior year in high school. “good at foraging and scavenging supplies.” She walked closer to the screen, feeling as smart as Einstein. “Those little things in our heads are everything.”
“I’m impressed,” Jenner told her. She shrugged her shoulders and went to stand next to Daryl.
“Wait, what did you just say?” He asked her. She choked back a laughed and just shook her head, grabbing a hold of his arm.
“Those lights also determine everything you will ever do in your life from the moment you are born, to the moment you die,” He got that far away look again and Rick pulled him out of it.
“Die? So this was an actual person?”
“Yes, it was.”
“Who?” Andrea asked. “Who was it?”
“Test subject 19, they were a person who came to us bitten and allowed us to record what happened, while it happened.” The group looked at the doctor and he once again spoke to the hidden computer woman. “Vi, scan to the first event.”
“SCANNING TO FIRST EVENT,” The images on the big screen zoomed by until finally it stopped. What appeared to be a big black tree was right in the middle of the formally blue and bright brain.
“Oh, dear God,” Dale exclaimed.
“What the hell is that?” Glen asked.
“It acts like the meningitis virus,” Jenner explained. “The fever sets in, the brain begins to shut down which in turn causes the rest of the bodies organs to follow suit.” The darkness took over the brain and TS-19 stopped moving. “Then, you die.” He got the faraway look for a third time and looked down at the floor. “You’re gone, and nothing can bring you back.”
Nicole tried very hard not to think about Ray at that moment. She was glad there was someone else that could relate.
“Poor Jim,” Sophia said softly. Andrea brought her hand slowly to her mouth and Jenner looked at her. She closed her eyes and let a single tear fall.
“Are you alright?” Jenner asked, and when she didn’t answer him Lori answered for her.
“She lost her sister a couple of days ago,” She went to Andrea and tried to comfort her. Jenner walked up to her and looked her in the eyes.
“You’re not the only one. I lost someone, too.” She looked up at the doctor for a second and looked back down. The doctor turned back to the big screen and cleared his throat. “Vi, scan ahead to the second event.”
“SCANNING TO SECOND EVENT,” The footage on screen once again fast forwarded.
“We have had reports of all sorts of reanimation times, some as little as a few minutes, others that took hours. This patient it only took two hours, one minute and seven seconds.” The dark brain on the screen suddenly showed a spark. It was just a little red spark in the center of the brain and it sent little red tendrils throughout.
“Does this disease restart your brain?” Lori asked, pulling her son a little closer to her.
“Not the brain itself, but the brainstem. It restarts it enough to get a person up and walking around.” Jenner explained.
“These people are dead, doc, aren’t they?” Shane asked as he walked a bit closer to the screen. Jenner just pointed up at the screen.
“You tell me,” He dropped his hand to the side and Rick walked up next to him.
“It doesn’t make sense. It’s not the same. There’s none of those little blue lights, just those red ones. The rest of it is dark and lifeless.”
“Dead,” Jenner said. “The part that Nicole explained, the frontal lobe of the brain, the part that makes you who you are doesn’t come back. You look like yourself on the outside, but on the inside,” He looked up at the screen once more. “your nothing but a monster driven by instinct with an insatiable hunger.” Nicole’s grip on Daryl’s arm tightened and she looked up at the screen, just in time to see something rip through TS-19’s head.
“What the fuck was that?” Nicole yelled out, grabbing onto Daryl.
“You shot them, didn’t you?” Andrea said, it was more of a statement than a question.
“Vi, shut down the big screen and the computers.”
“SHUTTING DOWN BIG SCREEN AND COMPUTERS.” The group looked at Jenner as he began to walk through the cubicles of computers.
“Answer me something, doc,” Rael finally spoke up. Jenner looked over at him. “Do have the slightest idea of what the fuck this is?”
“Daddy!” Bubba put one of his tiny hands over Rael’s mouth and Rael gently bit it, causing Bubba to scream and laugh at him.
“To be honest, it could be anything. I’d even go with God at this point,” Jenner continued walking until Rick grabbed his arm.
“What do you mean it could be anything? Surely you have some idea, you must have even a slight idea.” Rick looked at the doctor and he suddenly saw him, truly saw him. He looked tired, worn out and a bit depressed.
“Surely there is a different sector out there that’s still working to solve this, right?” Carol asked.
“This can’t be the only one.” Andrea added.
“There may be someone out there, still working, just like me. I wouldn’t know because I have had no contact with anyone in any of the other places for over a month now. Everything went down, you understand? Everything.”
“So you’re telling me, that there is no coming back from this? That this is happening everywhere?” Andrea questioned and Jenner just looked at her with that clearly stated, ‘What do you think?’
“Dear Lord,” Jacqui whispered.
“I think it’s time to down the rest of that alcohol.” Daryl said. “Come on, Nicole.”
“Doctor, I can’t imagine how hard this may be for you, but I don’t think asking one more question is going to hurt anything.” Dale stepped up to the doctor. “I noticed that that big clock is counting down and I would like to know, what happens when it reaches zero?”
Nicole and Daryl stopped in their tracks and looked at the doctor along with the rest of the group. Jenner didn’t answer right away, he hesitated and it made Nicole feel very uncomfortable.
“It’s just letting me know how much time is left before the basement generators run out of fuel.” He kept walking and didn’t stop.
“What happens when the fuel is gone?” Nicole asked as the doctor passed her and Nicole. He just walked on by and didn’t even acknowledge that she said anything. Rick was going to get an answer.
“Vi, what happens when the generators run out of fuel?”
“WHEN THE GENERATORS RUN OUT OF FUEL, FACILITY WIDE DECONTAMINATION WILL OCCUR.” Rick looked over to where Jenner had gone, but he had already disappeared. Daryl didn’t stay any longer. He grabbed Nicole’s hand and dragged her back to their room.
She had promised him an explanation and he was going to get one.
“Daryl, please slow down, you’re hurting my arm,” Nicole whined and Daryl let go, slowing his pace. “I know what you want and I’m going to give it to you.” She opened the door to their room and walked in ahead of Daryl. He shut the door a little hard and she jumped and turned around.
“What did he try to do, Nicole?”
“He tried to kill me Daryl, he had his hand around my neck and he just kept squeezing. He would’ve done it too, Daryl. He would’ve succeeded if I hadn’t slipped and loosened his hold on my hands. That’s when I was able to fuck his face up and get away.” Daryl just looked down at Nicole and she went and sat on the cot, enjoying the cool air conditioning as it brushed against her skin.
All of a sudden, Daryl punched the wall next to him. Nicole jumped off the cot and looked at him with a shocked expression.
“Who was the last person to take Bubba away from him?” Daryl asked her, ignoring her shock from his sudden outburst.
“What are you talking about?” She asked.
“Rael came in here last night looking for you while you were in the shower. He said he killed the last bitch to take his son from him and he wasn’t afraid to kill one more. Who was the last person to take Bubba away from him, Nicole?!” Nicole fell back onto the bed.
“Bubba’s mom, Rachel, won full custody of Bubba when he was born. The judge didn’t allow Rael any rights and ever since then he always had it out for Rachel. She took him from Rael.” Nicole closed her eyes as she finally realized why she wasn’t with Bubba and Rael when she found them. He had killed her.
“Rael thinks we’re trying to take Bubba from him, Nicole. He thinks me and you are going to steal him away. He’s going to try and kill us.” Nicole couldn’t believe that could be it. Why would Rael come to that state of mind?
“I can’t believe it,” Nicole whispered.
“You better believe it, baby. I know that’s your brother and all, but you better keep a close watch on him. I know damn well I will. He hurt you badly, and that can’t be forgiven.” Nicole jumped up and pulled Daryl into a huge hug. He held her back just as hard and tried his best to comfort her.
She slowly pushed him away and lay out on the cot. She grabbed her pirate novel and began reading. Daryl laid on top of her and rested his head on her chest, listening to the steady beat of her heart. She read for a while and while she read he held onto her, like if her where to let go, he would die.
While they embraced, neither of them notice that the air conditioning stopped.
Nicole was just about to stop reading when all of a sudden, the lights turned off.
“What the hell?” Daryl hopped off of Nicole and he helped her to her feet. They stumbled through the dark and finally reached the door. Nicole opened it quickly and saw that their room wasn’t the only one losing power.
Everyone was out in the hallway, confused as to what was going on.
“Lori, Carol, Carl and Sophia alright?” Nicole called out and they both nodded to her.
“How’s Bubba?” Lori asked. Nicole shrugged her shoulders. Rael wasn’t in the hallway and neither was Bubba.
“What in the world is going on?” Dale asked. Nicole shrugged her shoulders and turned to the kind old man.
“Dale, can you find my brother and Bubba for me, I’m worried sick about them. Bubba can be a little afraid of the dark sometimes.”
Dale took her hands into his and nodded.
“Of course, Nicole.” He smiled reassuringly at her and took off down corridor. Five minutes later, Jenner walked by with a tense expression glued onto his face. He grabbed the last bottle that Daryl was drinking from and began taking big gulps.
“Doctor, what on earth is going on?” Nicole asked as she followed him. “Why is everything turning off?” At that moment, the lights in the hallway shut off and the group of survivors huddled closer together as they followed Jenner back to the big room.
“They’re shutting down because they’re not important.” He took another drink and continued walking.
“How is light and air in our rooms not important?” Lori asked as she held Carl’s and Sophia’s hands. Nicole turned and looked through the dark hallway for any sign of Dale, Rael or Bubba, there wasn’t one.
“Zone 5 doesn’t think we need them, so it’s shutting them down. It’s shutting itself down.” Jenner kept walking even when Nicole tried to grab his arm to slow him down.
“What does that mean? Why is the building shutting down? How the hell can a building even shut itself down?” Nicole yelled at the doctor but he headed toward a flight of stairs that lead to the big room.
“She’s talking to you, man!” Daryl yelled out, but Nicole just grabbed a hold of his arm. She knew he wasn’t going to tell them anything. Daryl however, wasn’t giving up. “You better start explaining, doc. How the hell can a building shut itself down? Buildings can’t do anything.”
“There’s a lot buildings can do, if you give them the power.” Right at that moment, Rick, Shane, T-Dog and Glen appeared under the flight of stairs the rest of the group was going down. Rick had a look on his face that made Nicole’s stomach sink to her feet.
“Jenner, tell us please, what is happening?” Rick asked the doctor as he reached the bottom of the stairs.
“This building has a design that’s meant to keep the computers running and only the computer until the time runs out. That’s why everything is turning off. We have thirty minutes left.” He pointed to the big digital timer that Dale pointed out.
Dale suddenly appeared with Rael and Bubba and Nicole felt joy radiate in her. Bubba was safe. She motioned them to stay by the door, she had a feeling they weren’t going to be staying long. Jenner looked over at Daryl and gave his alcohol back to him.
Daryl took it from Jenner and Nicole took it from Daryl. She took herself a big swallow of the burning alcohol.
“We weren’t the last to go down, it was the French,” Jenner said as he walked toward the center of the computers.
“What about the French?” Lori asked.
“They kept going until the end. You see, they didn’t take off or ‘check out early’. They kept working and working and they thought they were close to a solution, but,” Jenner stopped talking and shrugged his shoulders.
“But what?” Jacqui asked. It took Jenner a while to answer the group.
“They ran out of power,” He answered softly. Then he began to laugh a sort of maniacal sort of laugh. “We live in a world where irreplaceable coal and gasoline powers everything! It was only a matter of time before power all over the world went out!” He continued laughing and Shane rushed toward him, with a look that stated he wanted to punch the laugh out of this man’s throat.
Rick grabbed him and pushed him back.
“We’re getting out of here.” He told Shane, as he turned to the rest of the group. “Everyone, let’s go. We’re leaving this place RIGHT NOW!! Hurry up, let’s move!” Rick yelled out and soon everyone was heading for the door. Nicole looked toward her brother and saw the scared look on Bubba’s face. It turned into a look of pure fear when a screechy alarm began blaring throughout the CDC.
“RAEL, GET HIM OUT OF HERE!” She yelled out to her brother. Rael scooped up Bubba in his arms and grabbed a hold of Dale as they ran back into the hallway.
“What the hell is happening, Jenner?” Shane yelled at the doctor.
“THIRTY MINUTES TO DECONTAMINATION,” Vi yelled out over the alarm and nobody wasted anymore time in asking questions.
“Alright, let’s go, bud, you heard you dad. Let’s go!” Shane yelled and everybody ran to the door. Nicole saw Dale, Rael and Bubba waiting for them and just when she thought she was going to make it, the door slid up and sealed them inside the CDC with less than thirty minutes to go.
“NO!” Nicole screamed as she ran up to the silver door, punching and kicking it as hard as she could. “Let us out! You cock-sucking, son of a bitch, how the fuck could you lock us in here!” Daryl ran to her and grabbed a hold of her, pulling her away from the door so she wouldn’t hurt herself.
She looked up at Daryl, then over to Rick and Glen and T-Dog and all the faces she has grown used to. She thought about the other three on the other side of the door, the other three she honestly felt like she wasn’t ever going to see again.
This is the second to last chapter of Season 1! Let me know what you think and don't hesitate to send me a message!