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

Safe Zone

“I’m so stupid,” she mumbled to no one but herself. “What was I thinking?”

Zoey drove back to the hotel after a few hours of mindlessly riding around to try and calm her rollercoaster of nerves. Nothing was able to coax the tears that streamed down her face. Her anger at her father had not dissipated completely. She gripped the steering wheel in utter frustration at her father’s unwillingness to change his attitude, to try for her and to make things right. The final meeting with him was overwhelming, to say the least. Zoey didn’t go into that diner with high hopes, so what did she really have to lose and expect from Merle Dixon? She could not be as disappointed as she was the first time she met him. She was beginning to believe her father had a way of dashing people’s hopes and dreams. They always thought little of him, and now Zoey was thinking the same thing.

Still, she was hurt by the outcome, but at the same time relieved that it was over and she could get back to normal life. Her father was never going to change, which was obvious from the beginning. Zoey had put forth the effort to meet him and be a part of his life. No one could say she did not try.

As soon as she entered the hotel room, she noticed Glenn pacing around the room. Once he noticed the woman, he threw his hands in the air in relief at the sight of her walking in. “Where the hell were you? I called twenty times.” The man was never one to get angry at Zoey, but she knew he was worried sick about her, considering the dozens of missed calls and texts that lined her phone screen. He stayed concerned about her 100% of the time, which the woman admired about him.

“I went to talk to Merle...again.”

“I know, I read your note. Are you serious?” Glenn asked incredulously. “After what happened the first time, I would think you wouldn’t wanna see his face, much less hash things out with him again.”

“Yeah, I needed to say what was on my mind. Sorry, I was gone longer than I expected. I just had to be alone, to cool down before I came back. I rode around for awhile before finally coming here. I did not mean to worry you. I should have called you to update you so you wouldn’t be worried.”

“Or took me with you,” Glenn said with a frown while crossing his arms.

“I know, I know, but I had to do this alone - this time. I appreciate you being there for me through all of this, but I needed to do this one thing by myself. I hope you understand.”

“I know and I understand, Zoe, but I was so worried about you. I kept watching the clock and you weren’t back. I jumped to the conclusion something bad had happened, especially when you didn’t answer your phone. I’m glad you’re alright.”

“Glenn, I appreciate your concern, but I am a big girl. I can take care of myself.”

“I know, but I worry about you sometimes.”

Zoey smiled, a warm sensation taking over at Glenn’s concern for her well-being. He was so sweet, she thought.

“You know, I always carry for a reason.” After being a roadie for a few months, Zoey found herself getting a concealed weapons permit. The bands that hired her in the beginning played at small venues and seedy bars. Numerous musicians she traveled with had been robbed or threatened.

Zoey’s grandfather was a veteran and survival expert so she had always been familiar with guns and how to use them. Luckily, she had not been put into a situation where she had to resort to shooting someone. She supposed in a way that was a blessing.

Glenn shook his head with a small laugh. “Please don't tell me you have it on you right now?” The man had always been apprehensive of guns.

“I was tempted to bring it along but I settled for pepper spray and my taser.”

“You wanna talk about it?” Changing the subject, Glenn asked as he began to pack his suitcase. It was nearly noon meaning that the pair had to get checked out and back on the road.

He paused in his packing when Zoey didn’t reply and glanced up at his best friend with concern clearly written in his eyes. He hated seeing Zoey like this, hurting, even if she wouldn’t come right out and say it herself. Zoey was the type who liked to burying her feelings deep down inside, let them bottle up until they came bursting out. His best friend did not need to say anything for him to know she was upset, even if she tried covering it up. Glenn could tell by the puffiness and redness of her eyes that she had been crying on the way back from the car ride. He wished he could do more for her, but that seemed virtually impossible. He couldn’t make a deadbeat dad step up and be there for his daughter. Merle Dixon had to do that himself, which looked like he never was going to do from the moment Glenn had met him. Zoey deserved so much better.

Zoey shook her head finally. “I’d rather not. Let’s get our shit and we’ll stop for some lunch. I know you’re probably hungry,” she stated as she began to load up her own suitcase with her belongs.

Glenn nodded his head in agreement. He knew his best friend would eventually come around to telling him about what had transpired between her and her father, Merle Dixon the second time she had met up with him. Glenn wouldn’t press the matter until she was ready to confide in him.


---------------------------------------------------------

“I’m not ready to get back to the real world,” Glenn sighed as he dipped a fry into the oversized pile of ketchup. “At least I’ll have you around.” Zoey remained silent and stared down at her plate, neither agreeing or disagreeing with her best friend. Glenn could tell by the silence, there was something she wasn’t telling him right off. “I mean, you’re staying in town, right?”

With a heavy sigh, she said, “I didn’t want to tell you until we got back to the city. I wasn’t trying to ruin the vibe.”

“How long? A few weeks? Months?”

“Indefinitely.”

“What the hell, Zoey?! Where are you going?”

“Boulder, Colorado. I got a job offer I can’t refuse.”

“For what?”

“Productions manager for one of the larger venues in town.”

“So, something you could be doing in Atlanta.”

“Please, don’t be like this. This place is not my home. It’s never going to be home.”

“You’ve never tried to make it your home.” Glenn felt a pang of hurt in his heart at her last statement, even though, he knew she didn’t mean to inadvertently hurt his feelings. Still, it hurt coming from her. Did he not matter to her anymore?

“Ok, you’re not being fair.”

“I’m being honest. I moved here for college because I wanted to be closer to you.”

“I never told you to do that! I’m sorry but I have to look out for myself.”

“You don’t always have to fend for yourself all the time.” Glenn reached for Zoey’s hand across the table, placing his on top of her’s, trying desperately for the woman to see his side. He couldn’t lose her, not again. He barely got to see her as it was, and with the prospect of this new job offer, she would be gone indefinitely. Deep in his heart, he couldn’t live with that, with not having her in his life. “Why don’t you at least see what Atlanta has to offer? I have some friends that work at the Tabernacle. I think they’re hiring for some marketing and production positions.”

“Glenn, I’m not working in that venue or Atlanta. Stop trying to always take care of me.”

“I just don’t want you to disappear on me,” the man sighed as he frowned, squeezing her hand gently to get his point across. Zoey meant the world to him, and he knew she felt the same, but now, she had a funny way of showing it. Glenn felt like she was pushing him away without intending to. It seemed like after this whole biological father fiasco, that something had changed in his best friend. She didn’t have to do this alone or have to run away from her problems. He wanted to be there for her through thick and thin like they had always promised each other from a very young age. They could make it work where she could stay in Atlanta and they could be close to one another. Hell, she could move in with him and be his new roommate since the last one did not go so well.

She squeezed his hand back, looking him in the eyes. “I swear I’m not,” Zoey promised with a small smile on her face, looking on the bright side. “I’ll visit and you’ll come see me. It’ll work.”

Glenn let go of her hand all of sudden, clearly unconvinced while not dropping his glance from hers. She’s so damn stubborn sometimes. He wished he could get through to her, get her to stay with him.

Zoey knew she had hurt her best friend without meaning to. She glanced down at her half eaten BLT sandwich and fries, her appetite lost. Hurting Glenn was the last thing she wanted to do. She hated seeing him upset, and her being the cause was even worse. There was nothing she could say or do to make things right. The thought of losing him was disheartening and unfathomable to her. Glenn had always been by her side, even when they weren’t physically together. He would eventually have to see her side, even if he disagreed with her choice to leave Atlanta. He just had to, right?

The waitress stopped by the table to top off the drinks and leave the check. Glenn sat in silence as he finished his fries and left his part of the tip on the table. He grabbed his coat and made his way to the car. Zoey followed behind him desperately trying to get him to talk to her, feeling as if she were losing him.

“Are you seriously going to act like this?” She asked Glenn when she got out into the parking lot of the diner after paying for the bill. Glenn was waiting by his locked car, leaning on it.

“I’m not acting like anything. I’m just ready to get back to Atlanta.”

Zoey rolled her eyes as she unlocked the car. In a way, she regretted telling Glenn so early. Honestly, no matter when he found out the news, he was going to be upset. It was inevitable. She wanted to wait until the last possible minute but the pressure of her secret had been weighing down on her. She could not lie to him about something of that magnitude. That seemed even worse than not telling him at all and letting him get his hopes up, only for them to be turned to ashes later.

The woman made several attempts to talk to her friend during the long car ride but his responses were incredibly brief. Zoey knew he was upset and the best thing to do was to leave him alone until he cooled off.

The pair was only an hour into their drive when traffic started to back up. Zoey nudged Glenn who popped up from his slumber, confused and bleary-eyed.

“What? What’d I miss?” He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, stifling a yawn.

“I guess there’s a bad wreck or something.” Zoey scanned the road ahead, but could not distinguish the source of the roadblock because of the traffic ahead. Whatever had been the cause must have been disastrous as traffic halted to a snail’s pace.

“Don’t drive so close to the car in front of you,” Glenn scolded, causing the woman to flip him off. “Go ahead and get into the right lane before you get stuck behind this tractor trailer.”

Zoey followed his orders and got into the right lane. The two friends sat for what felt like hours until the traffic slowly began moving again. The woman kept looking forward trying to figure out what was the cause of the congestion.

“Looks like a barricade up ahead,” Glenn pointed out the object blocking the road. Two men dressed in military attire stood in front of the blockade while another directed cars onto the nearby exit. “What do you think is going on?”

“I’m about to find out.” The woman followed the cars in front of her until she was finally at the barricade. She rolled down her window and waited for the military personnel to approach the car. “Excuse me, what exactly is going on?”

“An incident. You’re going to need to take the exit and a law enforcement officer will direct you from there.”

“An incident? Like a wreck?” The woman questioned. “Exactly how much of the interstate is closed?”

“I apologize, ma’am, but I have not been briefed with that information. Please move ahead to the exit.”

“This is weird,” Glenn stated as he leaned forward in his seat, a weird feeling washing over him. Something just wasn’t right.

“I’m sure it’s nothing. They’ll probably reroute us through some towns and onto Atlanta.”

The process from the exit to the secondary roads was tedious. Zoey hoped the constant brake checking would end. As soon as they were off the exit, the pair noticed most of the highway surrounding the interstate had been closed. The only traffic was comprised of those leaving the interstate. What are they doing? The woman thought as she noticed officers signaling people into hotel parking lots. She followed the other cars, hoping to get some answers on what was going on.

Glenn and Zoey got out of the car and walked over to the growing crowd. An officer with a megaphone began calling out instructions to the travelers. “All residents and travelers are being ordered to a mandatory quarantine for the night as a precaution. Rooms will be free of charge as well as food and any essentials you may need. If you have an allergy or a pre-existing medical condition, please note that on the surveys you will receive in your rooms. Staff will be coming around in a few hours to collect them.”

The crowd began shouting at the officer. Some angry for the delay and others fearful of the unknown. Another officer stepped in to calm the spectators. “We are happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.”

A gentleman in business attire raised his hand. The officer acknowledged him and asked him for his question. “Does this have anything to do with the infection?”

The officer looked to his colleague and nodded. “An infected civilian was found seven miles east. We have been instructed to quarantine all residents and travelers in the event another individual is a carrier of the virus.”

“I need to be in Atlanta by 8 tonight for a flight,” a random person in the crowd shouted out, irritation clear in their voice by the inconvenience.

“Sir, all flights to and from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta have been canceled. State borders have also been closed temporarily as the CDC is trying to quarantine the infected and find a cure. Please understand you are all being asked to stay here for not only your own safety but the safety of others around you. Once we are given the all clear, we should all be able to leave.”

Zoey looked over at Glenn and unconsciously took ahold of his hand, squeezing it in reassurance to make sure she was still here in the real world and not in a bad dream. Glenn returned the gesture, their disagreement forgotten for now. The realization was dawning on her that the situation was more serious than she had originally thought. At first, she had thought this whole situation was a joke, a hoax, but if the government and military forces were getting involved, it must be far worse than anyone could have possibly imagined. The woman tried to believe that the government would take care of this pandemic, but then again she had little faith in the system. Who knows how bad this supposed infection was or how fast it had or has already spread? It must have been pretty damn fast if flights into the state and several others were already delayed or completely canceled. At this thought, a shudder went through Zoey’s whole entire body. There were so many questions she had and no one seemed to have the answers.

“What about my children?” A panicked mother asked as she tried pushing her way to the front of the crowd. “They’re at home alone, except for the babysitter. I need to be there for them. I tried calling them, but there isn’t any service.”

At this, Zoey looked down at her phone, realizing the same thing. No service. “That’s awfully odd?” she mumbled. Beside her, Glenn did the same, he shook his head too. So it wasn’t just the concerned mother’s cellphone. Everyone was experiencing technical difficulties.

“I am truly sorry, ma'am, but there is nothing we can do about that. You can try calling them from inside the hotel. I am sure your children are safe and sound. We are doing everything we can to control the situation. As long as your children stay inside, they’ll be fine.”

This did nothing to pacify the mother’s fears, Zoey could tell this. She felt bad for the mother, who was separated from her children at a time like this. She could not imagine not knowing if they were okay and not being about to comfort them if they were frightened. Hopefully, all of this would end soon and they would all get to continue on with their normal lives.

The officer who was answering questions suddenly excused himself for what appeared to be an emergency. Someone must have told him something through his walkie talkie, that all police officers had secured on their utility belt. He turned away from the crowd and walked off. The crowd shouted after him, trying desperately to get his attention in an effort to get their questions answered.

“If you have any more questions, we will be setting up a tent where you can put in your inquiries and we will answer them to the best of our ability, but for now, if everyone would line up in single file manner, we’ll get you all hotel room keys.” The officer with the megaphone instructed the panicked and confused crowd as he pointed to the hotel doors.

Some people in the crowd still shouted their concerns, but the officer with the megaphone ignored them while others began to follow the law enforcement figure’s order to line up.

“Line up!” The officer commanded over the roar of the unrestful crowd.

“Let’s get in line,” Glenn advised, still holding Zoey’s hand. He pulled her along with him as the line began to grow longer. Their only option was to follow instructions and allow the police and military to do their part. Shouting their concerns at the officers or rebelling would get them nowhere.

“This is complete and utter bullshit!” A very familiar voice shouted as Glenn and Zoey made their way through the crowd. “I’ve got places to be, stuff and thangs to do!”

The woman glanced over Glenn’s shoulder to see her biological father, Merle, and her uncle, Daryl, standing among the crowd. He was the last person she wanted to see, especially at a time like this. She tried to duck out of his sight, but to her misfortune, he spotted her as she and her best friend walked by.

“Look who it is!” Merle chuckled with a grin on his face.

‘Oh, God, go away. Make him go away, please!’ Zoey closed her eyes in mortification. “Keep going, Glenn,” Zoey shouted anxiously, trying to no avail to gain some distance between her and her father.

“I can’t. This is the end of the line.” He turned his head to see what had got Zoey into a fit of panic and realized Merle Dixon was the culprit. He squeezed Zoey’s hand, pulling her closer to him by the hand he was still holding.

“Goddamn it,” Zoey cursed as her father closed the distance between them. “Don’t come over here, please. For the love of God.”

But her prayers were not received. “We’ve gotta stop meeting like this,” Merle said with a wicked laugh like Zoey had told a hilarious joke. He stared at her with a serious look in his eyes, “We really do. Stop following me, runt. I ain’t giving you shit. You got it? I mean nothing.”

Zoey opened her mouth to say something as her father and uncle got in line, but Glenn beat her to the punch. “Can you kindly leave her alone. I think you’re the last person she wants to see after the way you’ve mistreated her. She came all the damn away to see you, and you disrespect her. You have some nerve talking to her after the shit you’ve pulled.” Not once did Glenn drop his gaze from the man in front of him. He refused to let Merle intimidate him. He stood straight and tall, coming up to his full height of 5’9”, only one-inch shy difference than the man standing opposite of him. Zoey’s heart swelled with pride and admiration for Glenn in that moment.

“Shut it, China boy,” Merle spat, crossing his arms as Daryl stood silently behind him. Zoey’s uncle glanced up at her, giving her an apologetic look for the way his brother was acting.

Glenn let out an offended huff. “I’m Korean, not Chinese, you dumbass.”

“It’s all the same to me,” Zoey’s father shrugged with a cruel laugh. “Just another damn foreigner taking over my country.”

Merle’s daughter moved to be in front of her best friend, coming to his defense immediately. “Say one more disrespectful thing to Glenn. I fucking dare you!” Zoey challenged, getting up in the man’s face. The woman only came up to his chest as he had several inches of height on her shorter stature.

“You really are a spitfire. Just like that mother of yours. I guess that’s why we never got along.”

“Maybe it’s because you are an insufferable asshole.”

“Ouch, that hurt.” Merle placed a hand to his chest where his heart was. At this point, the woman was convinced he didn't have a heart or soul. He let out a long-winded laugh, throwing his head back for dramatic effect. Zoey just stood still staring a hole through her father’s forehead.

“The lines moving,” Glenn announced as he pulled Zoey away and placed her in front of him, shielding her from her father’s antics. Through all of this, their hands were still connected. Neither one of them paid it any attention, but Merle did.

“Look at ‘em holding hands like two lovebirds,” Zoey’s father teased with a laugh, pointing at the couple’s interconnected hands.

They both blushed, letting go of each other’s hands in embarrassment. Glenn scratched the back of his head while Zoey coughed uncomfortably. Neither of the pair realized they had been holding hands this entire time. Zoey felt even more mortified than she already was. Merle had come to some kind of conclusion that his daughter was dating her best friend, Glenn Rhee.

“Don’t stop holding hands on my account. I think it’s real cute. Don’t you think so, Daryl?” Merle elbowed his brother, who grunted in response, clearly annoyed with his older brother’s actions.

“Leave ‘em alone, Merle,” Daryl grumbled, moving in front of his brother. Zoey could tell he was trying to diffuse the situation the best he could.

“I’m just teasin’. Nothing to get all uptight about, brother. They don’t mind, do ya?”

“Yes, we mind,” Glenn mumbled, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms, clearly not taking any of Merle’s shit.

“Asshole,” Zoey said under her breath, pivoting to face front in the ever growing line.

“What was that, dearest daughter? Gotta speak louder. I can’t hear you.”

“I said, you’re an asshole, father!” Zoey shouted over the crowd, turning around to look at Merle over Daryl and Glenn’s shoulders. The woman noticed the attention she was drawing and refrained from any further comments.

Of all the places to show up at, it had to be here of all places. Now, Zoey and Glenn were stuck with Merle Dixon. Hopefully, they got a room far, far way from the deplorable man.

They didn’t.

After standing in line for what felt like a century, they got their room keys. To the woman’s dismay, their room was right across from the Dixon’s. At this point, she strongly considered sleeping in the car.

“Can this fucking day get any worse?” Zoey mumbled in utter frustration as Merle made kissy faces at her and Glenn from across the hallway. Glenn had the key and was desperately trying to unlock the door before they could endure any more humiliation from Zoey’s irritating father.

When the door finally opened, they rushed in, but not before Merle could get another jab in. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, lovebirds!”

From the other side of the door, the woman could hear her father whoop and holler with laughter. “Kill me,” Zoey moaned when the door was closed behind them and locked for good measure. “I am sorry you had to go through that.” She turned to Glenn, who was setting his suitcase down on the king sized bed. It wasn’t like they hadn’t slept in the same bed before, but after Merle’s teasing about the pair being an item, the woman could not feel more awkward in that moment.

“I guess, the front desk thought we were a couple,” Glenn said with an uneasy laugh and scratched the back of his head, a red tinge dusting his cheeks and nose.

“You don’t say?”

Notes

We are sorry for the long delay, but we are finally back with the next installment of this story. We got greatly inspired! We will try our best to update as often as we can. I hope this chapter was enjoyable because it was for us putting it together.

Comments, subscriptions, and votes are all much appreciated! We appreciate our readers and love receiving feedback whether it be positive or constructive criticism.

- dracovengeance and dixiewolf

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