The Fall of Humanity
Bad Moon Rising
They were still far enough away from the camp that normal people would not have been able to hear either the screaming or the gunshots, but Buffy’s hearing had been extremely enhanced due to the power given to her when she was Chosen as the new Slayer. Her senses had only become more potent over the years as she grew even more powerful with age, experience, and the power boosts from that last year in Sunnydale. Buffy had hoped to get more time to prepare the group for the walker ambush she had seen in her Slayer Dream nearly a week before, but clearly that was not to be. She sighed quietly and turned to Daryl who was walking four paces behind her and to the left.
They had both been cautiously relaxed due to the successful hunt and the near lack of walkers they had encountered since they left early that morning. It appeared as though Murphy disagreed with their level of luck and now reality intruded to cause havoc again.
Throwing caution to the wind she said, “There’s an attack on the camp; dump the rabbits and the squirrels and start running.” And before he got the chance to do more than turn his head and stare at her in surprise she dropped the deer to the ground and took off at a speed no human could ever hope to match or even get near. Absently she heard him divest himself of the animal carcasses and start running far behind her as he cursed.
Buffy reached the campsite within ten minutes and ran into total chaos. There were walkers everywhere, the group was scattered all over, and only a few had managed to get into the various vehicles as far as she could see. She did a mental headcount; there had been 35 people in the camp when she and Daryl had gone hunting that morning, but it looked like that number would be seriously reduced tonight.
She called the Scythe to her hand and continued her run into the middle of the campsite and sliced the head of four walkers on the way. Andrea and Amy were standing in front of the FedEx van wielding the swords she had given them on the second day. There was no grace to their movements but there was a small and steadily growing pile of permanently dead corpses in front of them and to both sides, and that meant that the two women had managed to learn something in the last few days. Sophia and Carl were between them and the truck in relative safety, but none of them had noticed the crawlers beneath the big vehicle. Lori was on the other side of the camp between Rick and Shane who were all trying with increasing desperation to kill the walkers and get to Carl if their frantic looks around the campsite and their movements were any indication.
Miranda and her two children were inside their car while Morales and Glenn were outside shooting at anything that came towards them. T-Dog was shooting at anything that was moving and didn’t look alive as well. It was a disorganized mess, but the upside was that they were defending the weaker members of the group. If nothing else this should work to her advantage so she could finally get them onboard with her ideas to protect and arm the group her way.
Buffy took in everything in a second and went straight for the FedEx van, slicing and dicing all the walkers who dared to cross her path. When she made it there she threw the Scythe high into the air before she grabbed Sophia and then threw her onto the roof of the truck. Carl got the same treatment a few seconds later. Then she caught the Scythe on its downward arch and stabbed a walker in the eye. The children would probably have some bruises later due to the rough landing but they would be safer up there than down on the ground, at least as long as none of the walkers realized they could get to them by way of the hood of the car. As an afterthought she stabbed the two crawlers in the back of the head before they could reach her or the Harrison sisters.
To her great approval the two sisters were still chopping heads off of the walkers rather than gawking at her and what she was doing. All they’d done was turn enough to identify her and then they went straight back to what they’d been doing. Buffy joined them in their endeavour to get some answers.
“What happened here?”
“We were eating dinner. I had to go to the bathroom, and when I came back out of the RV I saw a walker right in front of me. Thankfully I brought the sword you gave me with me and managed to cut its arm off and then the head. I screamed to get everyone’s attention.” The reply came from Amy, who was now in between Buffy and her sister. Screaming in that kind of situation was both good and bad, but there was nothing to do about it now.
Andrea added, “We didn’t hear or see them before they were already on top of us, but they came from the forest.” That was off as neither she nor Daryl had seen any herds while hunting. A few had shambled around on their own, and in some cases two or three, but not a herd. How had she neither seen nor heard them? A large group of shuffling corpses made a lot of noise, even in a forest.
After severing another head Amy resumed her explanation, “Everyone began screaming and shouting, then shooting. Andrea got over to me and we got Carl and Sophia. And now you’re here.” She paused and looked behind Buffy. “Where’s Daryl?”
“We got a deer, some rabbits and some squirrels. He had to put them somewhere so I ran ahead.” She gave the camp another overview, before she tacked on, “Good job with the swords, both of you. Keep it up and remember to look out for crawlers.” She gave a short nod towards the downed walkers still mostly under the delivery truck. Then she gave them an encouraging smile before she moved on. She left it unsaid that they were to maintain their protective stance over the two kids. They had clearly come to that conclusion on their own.
There was no need to explain that she ran too fast for Daryl to keep up. He would get there and hopefully not get killed by the stragglers. Daryl, unlike most of the adults in the group, had a skillset which was both beneficial and incredibly important for their survival. As time went on they would rely on this more and more as the canned and dried food was used up or out of reach for them. It was kinda horrifying to see that most of the group treated him like a worthless outcast, and completely ignoring that he was one of the few people who ensured they had fresh meat to eat. Amy got a point for worrying about the safety of the hunter, even if Buffy was relatively certain her concern was more because she had a crush on the man than because he was crucial to the group’s continued survival.
She looked around the camp again. Where was Rime? Her snow white hair was always easily recognizable in any crowd, and it usually made it an effortless task to spot her, especially at night. Buffy’s Scythe was in continuous motion; separating the top of the walkers head from the rest of their body, and stabbing others in the eye or the side of the head with the stake in the other end. It was quick and effective; a process she had perfected over the last decade on an entirely different kind of undead. Even if the stabbing was now aimed towards the head rather than the chest and an unbeating heart.
Slicing and stabbing her way across the camp she reached Rick, Shane, and Lori. By the time she got there they had managed to get themselves surrounded by about a dozen of the damn things. Another bout of slicing and dicing and she was beside Rick who was looking frantically around, no doubt looking for his missing son.
“Carl and Sophia are on top of the FedEx truck, and reasonably safe. For now.” The eyes of Rick, his wife, and his supposed best friend immediately flew to the top of the vehicle in question and the boy’s parents both let out a breath of relief. Shane appeared to be partly reassured and partly pissed. Buffy noted his reaction for later and moved on.
Then she got to the real reason she was over by them, as per her experiences the parents of missing children were rarely able to properly answer questions while the the fate of their offspring were unknown. Get the child, or at least point the child out to them, and they would calm down somewhat and most of the time be more willing to help as long as their own children were safe and unharmed. Well, in the new world order it was more as safe as anyone could be in the middle of a walker ambush, but the sentiment was still there.
“Have any of you seen Rime?” Rick and Shane had gone back to shooting the walkers closest to them as soon as Carl’s safety had been clarified, while Lori was simply holding her machete in an awkward, half-defensive grip. Buffy knew the woman could aim and kill walkers, had seen her do it a couple of times in the last few days when they’d met stray walkers in the forest, but she clearly expected her husband and Shane to protect her so she wouldn’t have to use the weapon. It was a bad habit that needed to be broken, quickly, if she intended to survive. Teamwork was great, but everyone needed to be willing and able to defend themselves if they ended up by themselves for whatever reason.
The three of them refocused their attention at the question and looked carefully around the encampment, trying to spot the ‘young’ woman. Given that all three of them were much taller than Buffy’s 5’2” their chances of spotting Rime was better than her own. Meanwhile Buffy cut half the head of another three walkers and stabbed another two.
“No, we’ve been too focused on finding Carl, and I can’t see her anywhere.” Lori replied, meeting Buffy’s eyes with a sympathetic look before her eyes slid back up to her son. The two men added their own negative replies in between taking shots.
Buffy nodded and moved on. Slice, chop, kick, stab, stab. The Slayer danced around the camp at a speed no one else could’ve matched. Cut, kick, kick, slice, stab, and she jumped over a pile of no longer moving bodies. Then she heard Rime’s voice and she focused on the sound, pinpointing the direction it was coming from.
A few seconds later she was by Dale’s RV, with the older man sitting wide-eyed inside along with a woman she didn’t remember the name of. Then she was around the other side of the vehicle and finally saw her friend. She and Jacqui were trying to calm down a hysterical woman Buffy recognized as Carol only because she was Sophia’s mother. Years of having to figure out which child belonged to which parents had its uses.
She repeated her words from the short meeting with the Grimes parents, “Sophia and Carl are on top of the FedEx truck, and safe from the walkers as long as they stay up there.” Then added, “Andrea and Amy are doing a great job guarding them.”
Much like Lori and Rick she gave a breath of relief, but it didn’t explain the continued tears. The little girl was alive, and as far as Buffy had seen both mother and daughter were unharmed. Then Carol ran around the RV without much thought so she could see her daughter with her own eyes, and Buffy reflexively yanked her back just in time to stop her from getting munched on by yet another corpse. Buffy stabbed it with Faith’s knife almost without thinking while maneuvering the elder woman so she was behind her.
“Be careful!” Buffy hissed in a low voice, trying not to attract any more of them to their little semi-peaceful zombie-free zone. As far as she could see Carol was armed with nothing more than a small knife. It was better than nothing at all, but she was not a fighter, as proven by her staying with an abusive husband, and that left close-up kills out of the question. Buffy made eye-contact with Rime, and she answered the unasked question.
“Ed was killed by a walker inside their tent.” Right. He was one of the useless idiots in the camp who did nothing, except for drinking, smoking, and complain about everyone else, but thought they should get special treatment just for existing. He was no loss for the group, and both Carol and Sophia were better off without him in their lives.
She opened her mouth to comment but was interrupted by a loud “NO!” Buffy frowned, she was 99% certain that that was Daryl’s voice. Quickly moving back around to the front of the RV she got a full view of the middle of the campsite again, and what she saw made her heart clench a little. Daryl was kneeling by his brother who was clearly bleeding sluggishly from a bite in the upper part of the shoulder and, she was pretty certain, the lower part of his neck.
Buffy didn’t care about Merle, he had a serious attitude problem even if you ignored the racism and his blatant sexism, and he was an even bigger problem for the group as a whole, but none of that changed the fact that he was Daryl’s brother. And relatives were in short supply ever since the world as they had known it had ended. Unbidden memories of losing Dawn came to the forefront of her mind; Dawn’s bright blue eyes looking at her, trusting that her big sister would save her as she had always done in the past. Buffy forcefully pushed the memories back into the box she kept them in and shoved it to the back of her mind where they belonged.
Instead of running over to her distraught hunting partner she grabbed Carol and Jacqui and dragged them around to the right side of the RV, momentarily let go of Jacqui to get the door open, and then quickly shepherded the two women into the back of it. Behind them Rime dispatched several more of the corpses while covering their backs. After having secured the two non-fighters inside the RV she and Rime ran over to the two brothers, decapitating and stabbing a number of walkers on the way.
“Daryl?” She moved up beside him and quickly dispatched of the two walkers who had tried to sneak up behind him while he was distracted. She was silently cursing herself for not bringing her crossbow when they were hunting earlier, it would’ve made things easier for them. Killing the walkers from a distance made them less of a threat than when you had to make a close kill. It was something she had cursed herself for not doing several times even while they were out in the woods together, just the two of them.
Both she and Rime were politely not looking at the tears visible on Daryl’s face. Merle was still breathing, but all three of them knew it was only a matter of time before whatever it was that caused the dead people to reanimate would kill him. On Daryl’s other side Rime used a machete to stab yet another walker. Daryl hadn’t noticed any of it, all of his focus was on his dying brother.
Behind their little group Morales, T-Dog, and Glenn were firing into a small newly arrived herd who had just broken through the treeline. Rick, Lori, and Shane had made it over to the FedEx truck and were moving around it to the other side, presumably so the three of them plus Andrea and Amy could surround it to ensure the safety of the children.
Then out of nowhere, Daryl took his hunting knife out of its sheath and stabbed his own brother right between the eyes without hesitating. Afterwards he bowed his head while keeping his hand on the knife while it was still embedded into his brothers skull. Then he began whispering in a nearly inaudible voice, and Buffy suddenly felt like an intruder eavesdropping on something extremely private. Enhanced hearing was both a blessing and a curse, but in this instance at least she was the only one capable of hearing Daryl’s last words to his dead brother and she would never tell anyone.
Rime and Buffy made eye contact over the two brothers before they went back to shielding Daryl. The Dixon brothers hadn’t always gotten along as far as they had been able to discern from their behaviour, but they had cared about each other in their own messed up way. Since the outbreak had begun the last thing you could do for anyone was to stab them in the head before they reanimated, and apparently Daryl had caught onto this truth.
A few minutes later the soft words stopped and he got back up, removed the knife, and straight off began cleaning it on the piece of cloth from his back pocket before putting the small weapon back in its sheath. Buffy took one of her machetes, a kukri, out of its sheath and handed it to Daryl, handle first, without comment. She simply nodded respectfully and got one in return. This was not the time for talking.
Daryl was a predator, a different kind that her but still a predator, and the pointless death of his only living relative demanded an act of violence to properly take the edge off of the anger so he could grieve properly later. Using his crossbow or a gun would not suffice, and his bare fists were a bad idea all on its own. That left knives and swords. The machete was a long bladed knife. Long enough that he wouldn’t put himself at too much risk and short enough that he could get a close kill to vent his anger and grief into.
It was going to be a long night, but Buffy and Rime silently agreed to watch over and aid the distressed hunter.
This chapter takes place during the Walking Dead episode "Vatos" (01x04).
This is the expanded version of the 'Watch the Fall of Humanity' chapter 10 (Bad Moon Rising).
Thank you to all those who have left kudos, reviews, and/or followed this story.