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There's Us and the Dead - A Glenn Rhee Fanfiction

The Big Secret

Zoey Sharpe pulled the covers over her head as her cell phone alarm began beeping. The beeps grew louder causing the woman to grunt as she rolled over, nearly knocking the phone off the nightstand. "11:30...It's too early for this shit," she mumbled groggily as she stretched out on her bed, burying her face into her pillow. The woman let out a long, exaggerated groan wanting nothing more than to stay enveloped in the warmth and comfort of the blankets she was currently wrapped up in, but sadly, she couldn't. It was time to get a move on.

Life as a roadie had spoiled her into not waking up until well past noon. The only time she had been awake before then was if she was assigned a driving shift to get the band to the next venue. She missed being out on the road with the friends she had made over the past four years but family was always her top priority. The past week had been incredibly difficult. Not only did she have to see her mother pass from one life to the next, but a life altering secret had finally been revealed. With everything that had happened, she was just now beginning to process it all.

Zoey looked over the side of her bed at the boxes of her mother's things covering the bedroom floor. A depressing sigh escaped her lips when she thought about getting rid of some of the items. She had only begun to scratch the surface of packing up the house but it was already taking an emotional toll on the woman. Her eyes stung with the telltale signs of oncoming tears, but she blinked them back. She had to be strong. Zoey knew in her mind that the day would come but it was still terrifying. It was all so surreal that she was gone. She kept expecting to hear her mom calling her to the kitchen for breakfast, but nothing. An eerie, cold silence replaced her melodic voice.

Lillian Sharpe hadn't always been perfect, but she cleaned up her act before her daughter became a teenager. The mother finally realized how important it was to see her child growing up and actively being a part of her life rather than wasting her time on another bottle of booze. After she gave up drinking, her and Zoey's lives began changing for the better.

Suddenly, the phone began beeping again bringing the woman back to reality. Zoe rolled over onto her back in the queen-sized bed. She had slept in her old room last night, which hadn't changed a bit from the time she had last visited during the holidays. She always came back to the house whenever her job permitted it. The house had originally belonged to Brenda Sharpe, Zoey's grandmother, before being passed down to her mother. The plan was always to keep the quaint cottage in the Sharpe family but the youngest granddaughter had no use for it. She always thought it'd be nice to own her own place but what use would it have if she was always traveling? She hated the thought of selling the house but she had to do what was financially best for herself.

The woman checked the screen to see yet another text from her childhood friend, Glenn Rhee. Glenn and Zoey had been friends for as long as she could remember and were completely inseparable through elementary school all the way up to high school graduation. The pair's relationship was so strong that Glenn chose to pursue his college education in Georgia after the Sharpe's move to be closer to their family. When her mother was hospitalized during the last few months of her life, he spent most of his weekends by Zoey's side offering her support and comfort as well as going on fast food runs. She didn't know if she would have been able to make it through it all if it hadn't been for Glenn, who had been her rock in many a hard time. His friendship and support was a blessing and meant the world to her.

After the funeral, Zoey began ignoring his calls and texts. She had never been one to shut people out during times of troubles but this time she needed to handle things herself. Despite her attempts to ignore him, Glenn still texted her daily to tell her he was thinking about her and hoped she was doing okay.

She finally gave in and read the text he had sent: Hey! If you're still in town, we should hang tonight. We can grab take out and watch movies or something?

Zoey knew she couldn't ignore her best friend forever. The woman looked at the envelope sitting on the nightstand and back at her phone screen. If I'm really going to do this, I need him with me, she thought to herself before replying back to the text. I'll be over soon. Gotta shower and everything and then I'll be on the way. Text when I am on the way. See ya soon!:), she typed before getting up to officially start her day.





"Hey," Glenn threw his arms around the woman, embracing her tightly. "I've been worried about you. How are you?"

"I've been better." The man could tell by the haggard look on her face that this was an understatement. Her mother's death had taken a toll on her. There had been a lot of sleepless nights after her mother's passing, and he could tell it by the bags and dark circles under Zoey's eyes.

Last night had been one of those nights. After crying herself into exhaustion, Zoey had finally drifted off to sleep. That night she had dreamt of her mother, and it felt like Lillian Sharpe had been reaching out to her, to comfort her in her time of grief. And in some sense, it had worked. She felt slightly better than any of the other days she had been mourning her mother's death. Slowly but surely, she was going to move on and be okay.

"Why didn't you call me this week?"

"I knew you were busy with classes and you'd already done so much. I just kinda needed some time to myself."

"I understand," he nodded his head as he pivoted toward the kitchen. "So what kinda food are you feeling tonight?"

Zoey nervously ran her fingers through her short dark hair, not sure how to go about the subject. She, herself, was still in shock about the whole thing - the big secret. "I actually needed to talk to you about something."

"What?" Glenn's eyes widened in concern. "Is everything okay?"

"I'm fine, everything's fine. I finally-" she paused before changing her words, mauling them over in her mind before they passed through her lips. "I was going through my mom's will and I found an envelope with my name on it."

"Inheritance?"

"Yeah, I wish," the woman pulled the envelope out of her back pocket. "It's about my dad."

"What?!" Glenn glanced up at the woman incredulously, his mouth halfway ajar before he stammered out, "Is he still alive?"

He truly hadn't expected those words to come out of his best friend's mouth. For as long as he had known Zoey, she hadn't said anything about her real father and who he was exactly. He had always assumed the man was either dead or wasn't there much when Zoey was born. She always seemed guarded about discussing such a delicate subject, so he never asked or pressed her about it that much. He knew when she was ready, she would confide in him. Her telling him this now told Glenn that she was finally ready to do so.

Zoey nodded as she handed the letter over to him. "She has an address listed. It's not far from Fort Oglethorpe."

Glenn pulled the folded up slip of paper out of the envelope, and then proceeded to unfold it. His eyes scoured the sheet of paper. "Merle Dixon? He sounds like a peach," he shook his head as he analyzed the letter once more.

"I was actually thinking we could take a road trip this weekend?" Zoey asked tentatively, eyeing him with a pleading glint in her hazel eyes.

"Uh, well, I-" Glenn hesitated, glancing up from skimming the sheet of paper and locking eyes with her.

"Are you too busy?" she frowned, disappointed at the prospect of her best friend not being there for something this life changing.

"I've got a lot of papers to write and work on Sunday night." He gave her an apologetic look before shrugging his shoulders.

"You've always gotten homework done two weeks ahead of the deadline," Zoey laughed, "and I'll have you back by Sunday afternoon. I pinky promise you this!" She stuck out a hand, pinky out with a grin.

"I don't know, Zoe." Although the woman was a master at convincing, Glenn wasn't quite yet sold on the idea.

"C'mon. When's the last time you did something spontaneous? Did you even go anywhere for spring break?!"

"I was busy playing Portal and the new Bioshock."

"Glenn! Just do this!" She slapped him playfully on the back with her other hand that wasn't held out, with a wide grin spreading her lips. "Live a little! School and work will still be there when we get back. I could really use the support too," she fixed him with her best puppy dog face.

"Stop giving me that look. You know, I can't say 'no' when you make that face."

"Please, Glenn!" Zoey was practically begging him at this point. If he didn't come along for the ride, she didn't know if she would go through with meeting the man who was suppose to be her biological father. Glenn was her rock in hard times. She just couldn't do this without him.

Knowing he couldn't refuse her, Glenn let out a long exasperated sigh while shaking his head.
"Okay, Zoe, I'll go with you." He hooked his pinky with hers, sealing the deal.

Jumping up and down, she exclaimed, "Yes! Thank you so much, Glenn!" Her eyes sparkled with appreciation, and Zoey chose to show it by almost barreling her best friend over with a hug. "You won't regret doing this! I promise."

"I better not," Glenn mumbled to himself, but on the inside, he was truly happy to be spending some much needed time with his best friend.

After all, before her mother's death, Glenn had only kept in contact with Zoey through call or text. On a rare and random occasion, she would show up in person to surprise him when a band she was on the road with was playing a gig in Atlanta. She seldom had any time off or breaks, but whenever she did, she would always drop by for a visit with him.

In all honesty, Glenn Rhee was taking advantage of this opportunity, hoping to make up for lost time. He never knew what band she'd be touring with or where she'd end up next. It was always a mystery, just like her.

Ever since Zoey was younger, she had dreams of traveling the world. Much of these desires had been brought on by her grandfather's time in the military. When she was an infant, her mother had relocated from Georgia to a military base in New Mexico to be closer with her dad. Several moves later and the Sharpe clan found themselves in Michigan for a good portion of Zoe's life.

Glenn spent a lot of time imagining where she was and the amazing sights and food she was immersed in. He would give up almost everything to be by her side, soaking in those beautiful experiences with her. But for now, he'd have to settle for the long weekend. "Now, that that's figured out, how do you feel about Chinese food?"

"Sounds good to me," Zoey shrugged, taking a seat on the sofa in Glenn's apartment. "It's your turn to call it in. I'll pick out a movie for us to watch. What are you thinking, a cheesy comedy or a nice gore filled horror movie?" She raised her eyebrows with a smirk.

"Horror movie. Whatcha think?"

"Read my mind, Glenn."

An hour and a half later and the pair was sprawled out on the couch laughing at the movie. Glenn had been so grossed out a few times that he had to cover his eyes. The film itself had been extremely campy but they spared no expense for the gore.

"Well, that was a lame movie."

"I know," Zoey sighed. "I knew when the cannibals started pulling that guy's intestines through his mouth that it was going to be totally ridiculous. You did pay for a $2 b-movie...from a thrift store. We knew what we were getting into."

The two best friends sat in front of the television as the credits rolled on the screen. Although the movie was a bust, the pair still had fun laughing and criticizing it. Zoey stretched out on the couch before throwing away her empty take out box.

"Well, I should get going," she said as she reached for her purse. "I'm gonna start packing a few things tonight for the trip. I'll meet you back here at 9 in the morning. How does that sound?"

"Sounds good to me," Glenn said, standing up with the woman, and showing her to the door.

"And thanks again for doing this for me. I know, you're busy with your own life, but it seems like right now, you're the only person I can truly turn to, especially with something this big and life-altering. I know, I don't say it that much, but I truly appreciate you and everything you do for me. You've been the only thing keeping me afloat these past few weeks."

"Zoey, it's nothing. You would have done the same for me if our roles were reversed. What are best friends for?" Glenn pulled her into a one armed hug, squeezing her to his side. "All you have to do is turn to me whenever you need anything. I'll be here whenever you need me. I promise you. We'll find out who your real father is, and I'll be there every step of the way. All you need to do is lean on me."

"You're so cheesy, Glenn," Zoey giggled, but her demeanor turned earnest. "Thank you again. I mean it from the bottom of my heart." She embraced him, burying her face into his chest. She glanced up at him and smiled, "I don't think I could do this alone."

"You won't have to. I am right here for you, Zoe. Always."


Zoey awoke the next morning to her alarm blaring. Today was the day she would finally meet her biological father. Today, she would finally get all of her questions answered. Zoe just hoped this Merle character would cooperate. He was the only one that could help her now that her mother was gone.

The alarm sounded off once more, this time even louder than before. The woman turned it off and bounced out of bed. Her things were packed for the most part, but she double-checked everything before throwing the suitcase into her SUV. As she locked the door to her mother's house, she immediately felt sick. Zoey felt as if her stomach was winding itself into the tightest knots possible. "C'mon Sharpe, get it together," she told herself. After everything she had been through in the past week, she wasn't about to let her nerves get the best of her.

As she pulled into Glenn's apartment, she found Glenn waiting outside of his car. Before she could park the car, he was already grabbing her suitcase and throwing it into the backseat of his old car.

"Excited, aren't we?" Zoey smirked and giggled at her best friend. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen him so giddy.

"You know, you're right. I do need a vacation. Excited I get to spend it with you of all people."
"Don't get mushy on me, Rhee," the woman joked.

"Sassmaster Sharpe has arrived for the trip. How long is she going to be sassing with us?"

"Forever!"

"Well, I guess it's a good thing I got snacks to banish her," Glenn tossed the woman a plastic bag containing some chips, candy, and drinks.

"You got me sunflower seeds? You're seriously the best."

"I try. So, what's the plan?"

"I think we should go ahead and find my dad. If it's a bust, we still have the whole weekend to make up for it. Then we'll check into the hotel and get dinner. I figured tomorrow we could go hiking at Lookout Mountain. I found a really awesome laser tag place near the hotel. Maybe if we're not to tired tomorrow night, we can check it out."

"Let's do this," Glenn said as he started the car.

An hour into the drive and Zoey began flipping through the stations looking for something she could sing along with. The reception had been awful since they were traveling through the countryside. Anytime she found a snippet of a song, it was drowned out by static.

"Hey, stop," Glenn swatted her hand and scanned backwards to find the last station she had passed.

"All airports in the Los Angeles metro area have suspended flights in and out of the city. They are now the fifth city to take this precaution alongside New York City, Dallas, St. Louis, and Miami. There is still no known cause for the virus. CDC officials ask those who think they may have come in contact with the virus to report to hospitals immediately for treatment."

"Have you been hearing about all this stuff?"

"Bits and pieces." Zoey Sharpe had never cared to stay informed with the news. If it didn't affect her directly, then it wasn't a huge concern. "Kinda hard to keep up with the news when you spend half the day driving in the middle of nowhere with a van full of smelly dudes."

"It sounds pretty bad, like epidemic bad." Glenn said, eyes still on the road ahead. They had taken Glenn's beat up car on their road trip. The same one he used for delivering pizzas at a local pizzeria in Atlanta, Georgia.

"They said the same thing about Avian Flu, whooping cough, and anytime something is contaminated with E. Coli. You know good and well that the media blows things out of proportion on a slow news day. They want people to keep watching and be afraid of everything so when they put out all these 'cures', the public will empty their pockets."

"But none of that was spreading like wildfire. Zoe, it just doesn't add up."

Zoey nodded her head. She knew debating with Glenn was a lost cause. He would always present the facts and the woman had no defense aside from her opinions and convictions. Maybe he was right, maybe this virus was a serious concern but all Zoe could think about was finding her dad. Nothing else mattered.

A few hours later and the pair had finally found the address. Zoey did a double take of the property to make sure they had come to the right place. 1011 Hornsborso Road, she read the mailbox confirming that this was, in fact, the right house.

"I guess this is it," she said as she opened the car door and looked out at the old, rickety trailer. The trailer itself looked as if it was abandoned. The yard was unkempt with grass reaching up to the woman's shins. Many old trucks and cars were scattered around the property as well as some random machine parts and tools. Zoey could feel the familiar knot growing in her stomach. What if she had come all this way for nothing? What if her dad had died a long time ago and she'd never get the chance to meet him?

Glenn could see the nervousness running through his friend. He placed his arm around her and pulled her closer to him. "Hey, you don't have to do this if you don't want to. We can go check into the hotel and have a really great weekend, just us."

Taking a deep breath, Zoey shook her head, and then exhaled. "I need to do this, Glenn," she said resolutely, knowing that there was no turning back now. She was here. Right in front of her biological father's home, and this close to meeting him. She wouldn't chicken out now.

The man nodded and followed Zoey up the porch stairs and to the entrance. He pulled back the screen door as the woman began knocking. A few moments went by with no answer. Zoe sighed and began knocking louder before trying to peek through the window adjacent to the door.

Still no answer.

She was about to give up altogether, and come back at a later time, but she was stopped by the door being opened. "What're you doin'?!" A gruff, irritated voiced asked her. The woman jumped backwards, almost knocking Glenn over in the process. She moved back to the front door that was now cracked. "You deaf or somethin'?"

"Uh," Zoe was at a loss for words as she looked at the man. He had short brown hair and striking blue eyes. She could see a few similarities in their facial features. Maybe this was him, the woman thought. Her mind wandered to the picture in her back pocket. Her dad had to be in his 50's according to what her mother's letter had said and the man standing in front only looked to be ten years older than her. "I'm looking for Merle Dixon. Does he live here?"

"You a cop?"

"Do I really look like a cop?" Zoe said sarcastically.

"I dunno. You might be undercover for all I know!" The man cut his eyes at them both.

Zoey anxiously ran her fingers through her hair, "I just need to ask him a few questions. It'll only take five minutes."

"About?"

"A mutual friend," she lied. If this man was her father, she didn't want to scare him off. She'd have to use her words carefully, which could be a trying task for her.

The man opened the door a little wider and looked at the pair. "He ain't here right now, but you and your Chinese friend can wait if ya want."

"He's Korean and thanks." She rolled her eyes. Some people, she thought, shaking her head. This was one of the reasons why she didn't miss living in Georgia. She always felt like she had reached a whole different world when she stepped outside of the Atlanta city limits. Good people seemed few and far between and racists and bigots seemed to be everywhere. The woman hoped her dad didn't fall into that category.

"Whatever," the man scoffed and led them into the kitchen. "Want a beer?"

"I don't drink," Zoey declined. After everything that had happened with her mother, she swore off alcohol completely. Most twenty-three year olds wouldn't be able to proudly say they'd never touched a drop of alcohol. She wanted to keep it that way until her last breath.

Glenn shook his head and declined. "Suit yourself," the man said. "We got tap water if y'all some kinda health nuts. Don't taste too good though. Got too much iron in it, I guess."

"That's okay. We'll be fine."

"Alright then. Well, Merle should be back soon. I'll be out back if ya need me. And don't touch nothing!" The man nodded and left the two alone, standing in the tiny living room of the trailer.

"'Cause this isn't creepy," Glenn said, breaking the awkward silence.

"Shut up."

"Guess we're playing the waiting game. Glad I got some new games on my phone.

Notes

I hope our readers have enjoyed our first chapter of There's Us and the Dead. Any comments, subscriptions and votes on our story are much appreciated!:) We enjoy hearing from our readers, so don't be afraid to send us feedback. We enjoy what we do for our readers!:)




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