"Dinner's ready!" Beth shouts from our improvised kitchen. Carl jumps up from the stairs, and runs passed me. I grin at the excited look in his face. I remember the time when he was so hungry he tried to eat dog food. Luckily, we weren't that desperate anymore.
Hershel's being helped by Maggie and Glenn, because he doesn't dare to try the crutches yet.
"Tomorrow, I'll do it tomorrow" he keeps saying. I guess he's just not used to the fact that he lost one foot, and now has to live as an invalid. I don't understand why it's better to be helped all the time instead of help yourself walk, but it's his choice.
Behind Hershel, comes Vicky. She looks a lot better than this afternoon. Her face is still pale, but the crazy look is back in her eyes. For some reason, it doesn't scare me anymore. Not as much in the beginning. She seems to be OK now, she's not going to hurt us. I think.
I pat Hershel on the shoulder as he passes by. He gives me a brave smile. He's a real fighter, and I'm happy he's still alive.
"What's on the menu?" Vicky asks. She then widens her eyes, and lets out a laughter. "Wow! That's just like a restaurant! Of course this isn't a real restaurant, but if you go eat somewhere where you don't have to cook, those that make that place a restaurant? Wow, that's so deep!"
I'm overwhelmed by the rush of words, and smile. She's not scary, she's very funny. "I guess it's something in between. Beth's cooking, does that make her the chef?"
"Well, if this isn't really a restaurant, than Beth's not really the chef" Vicky says, seriously thinking about it. "But it could make sense if this was a fake restaurant, than she's a fake chef."
"It smells good, though" I say, turning around. "Would you like to join us for dinner?"
She looks over my shoulder, and her smile fades away. It's not fear on her face, it's something else I can't place.
"He's gonna be there" I say, thinking she's thinking about Daryl. "We're all gonna be there. But Daryl's gonna be nice to you tonight."
My words seem to have no effect. She's still staring at something behind me. I turn around again, and try to follow her eyes. I see nothing. I only hear the rumbling of plates on the table, and shadows on the floor by the table around the corner. I look at the girl again.
"Vicky? Are you alright?" I softly touch her shoulder. She jumps up with big eyes, terrified. She steps back, and puts a hand on her chest.
"Sorry," she says, calming down. "I just saw something."
"Is it still there?"
She looks at the place again, and then shakes her head. "No, it's gone."
"Is it dangerous?" I ask, trying to understand her. Maybe she's hallucinating or something.
"I don't know. I'm scared." I see she's trembling all over her body. I feel sympathy for the girl. I lay a hand on her shoulder, and she looks at me.
"Don't be. There are a lot of people here who can protect you if that's necessary. You're safe with us."
Vicky lets out a sigh, and blinks with her eyes. She then looks at me, and the crazy look is back. "You are a sheriff, right?"
"What? No, well, I was a police officer. How can you tell?" It's weird to talk to somebody who keeps changing her mood.
"Somebody said something like that" she mumbles, with a quick look at the spot again.
"Vicky, come sit here!" I say as she nears the table with Rick. She gives me a smile, and sits down next to me, with Rick on her other side.
"How are you feeling?" I ask, when I put some of the bean plus tomato sauce on a plate.
"I'm good, thanks to your father" she answers, with a grateful look to my dad. "So, what's on the menu?"
"Beans, corn and tomato sauce. It's not much, but better than dog food."
"Dog food? Did you eat dog food? How does it taste?"
I giggle. "No, I haven't eaten any dog food. I mean that we were sometimes so desperately that we almost did."
"I wonder what it tastes like. Is it like steak, or really gross, like mud."
"Mud? Why mud?"
"'Cause I think it looks like mud. Or poo, but I didn't want to say that because we're about to eat."
Carl chuckles softly, and Daryl rolls with his eyes. Vicky ignores the last one, and after our short conversation, a silence falls down on our group. Most dinners are like this. Nobody talks, everybody looks at their plates, or pretends to do something else. The passed months, we kept looking behind our back, constantly aware of any danger from the dark. It is weird to be surrounded by secure walls, not having to worry about a sudden attack. Tonight, everybody was here. Nobody's keeping watch, we're all just here.
I notice Carol stares at Vicky all the time, and sometimes gives my father a strange look. My father answers it, and gets an asking look from Rick. My dad looks at his plate, and Rick looks at Carol. Carol ignores him, and looks at Daryl. Daryl stares at Vicky too. It's a silent debate, it seems. The only ones who aren't joining, is me, Maggie, Glenn, T-dog, Carl and Lori. For Lori, the silence is holding on for too long. She's uncomfortable with it, and tries to start a conversation.
"So, Vicky, where are you from?" she asks. Vicky takes a sip of water, and clears her throat.
"A bit at the edge of Atlanta, not a very good neighbourhood. I used to live there with my dad, but I'm originally from San Francisco."
"Then you've come a long way" Lori says, impressed.
"Yeah, I didn't like it at first. Now I hate it even more. I never liked the cities, but now they are like hell itself, if you know what I mean."
"Yeah, we know" Rick mumbles. He receives an sympathizing look from T-dog. I've never been in the city when the attack hit. I don't know what it was like in the city. I thought the farmlands were hit hard. The city must've been a terrible place to be.
"Do you have any family?" Carl suddenly asks. He gets poked by his mom in his chest. It's stupid to ask that in times like this. Everybody lost at least somebody they loved, and not everybody wanted to talk about it. But Vicky doesn't seem to have a problem with it.
"My mom died in a car accident, a couple of years ago" she says, talking like it's about the weather. "Since my parents were divorced, I had to go live with my dad in Atlanta. We never had a good relationship, but it still sucked when he died. His family is from Ireland, and I don't know them very well. They're probably in the same shit as we do."
Then, she lets out a laugh. "Do you think they have leprechaun-walkers there?"
Carl chuckles, and I giggle too. It's kinda a funny idea, and there seems to be a little tension relieved in the room. Almost everybody brightens a small smile on their face.
"What? Maybe it's possible. You never know" Vicky says, putting down her plate. "I mean, they probably got overrun very quickly, 'cause it's very hard to carry a bucket of gold around all day. And the rainbows don't appear every hour of the day. Poor leprechauns."
"Legends say the leprechauns hid their gold at the end of the rainbow, in a kettle" my father says.
"Yeah, it's basically the same" Vicky says, picking another bean of her plate. "I like to think the leprechauns go to a magic world and travel by the rainbow."
I blink with my eyes. I knew she was a little weird, but this is a little…I don't know, it almost seems childish. My father doesn't seem to bother.
"Maybe they do."
"I hope so. Do you think there's a magical leprechaun heaven?"
"Leprechauns are folklore, so they live forever."
"Does that meant they can't get bit?" This conversation is giving me a headache. I see my father's trying to figure it out, but he doesn't come to a conclusion. When Vicky doesn't get an answer, she starts talking herself again.
"You know what I always wondered? What happens when you get bit. I mean, what does it feel like? If I die, I want to die like that. It seems so….cool! An new adventure!"
It is then when it hits me. She really tried to kill herself today. She wanted to get bit, she wanted to die like that. I can't stop moving knowing this, and it gets me an questioning look of Rick. I nod towards the exit, and he memes 'later'.
"And you know what I also found interesting? How we end up if we're really dead!"
"How do you think we end up like?" Lori asks.
"Well, some of us just end up spooking around their loved ones, trying to tell them stuff. Others just disappear into nothing, just like air."
"Can we please talk about something else?" Carols voice sounds suddenly. I look at the short haired woman, and quickly look back. She's crying. Tears are rolling down her cheeks. I can't stand that face. It crushes my heart. I don't like her to cry. I don't like anyone to cry. It makes me feel sick.
Lori hunches over to her friend, and lays her hand on Carols. "I'm sorry."
"Why?" Vicky asks, and I know this isn't good. "Why can't we talk about it?"
Before I can say anything, Rick turns towards the girl, with the look of the police officer who tries to calm everybody down.
"Carol lost her daughter not long ago" he explains. Vicky lifts her eyebrows.
"I know. So? That's not an excuse to think about death."
"Some of us are not comfortable with this subject" Hershel backs him up. Vicky then lifts her shoulders, but I see she's definitely not OK with it. I lay my hand on my belt, where I keep my knife. Just in case.
"Fine. Let's talk about how wonderful life is." The sarcasm irritates me. I promised Rick to play nice, but she's just asking for it.
"Please, shut up" I say, stepping forward. Vicky turns towards me, and I see nothing but disgust on her face. She opens her mouth to say something, but then shuts it. Instead, she wants to walk towards me, but gets stopped by Rick.
"OK, that's enough!" he says, standing in front of Vicky. "Let's not do this. Vicky, I think it's better if you leave now."
"Fine, I didn't want to stay here anyway" she says, turning around. On her way to the exit, she grabs her plate, and throws it against the wall. "Thanks for the food. It was delicious."
Beth is stunned, and gasps.
"Carol, I'm so, so sorry" I softly say, as I rub her back. "I wasn't thinking about you. I didn't think. I'm sorry."
Carol sniffs her nose. "That's OK."
"No, it's not!" Daryl shouts, kicking his foot against the wall. "I told yah this was a bad idea!"
Rick gives his friend an angry look. "What would you have me do now? Kill her? After all she's done for us?!"
"It don't matter what she did before! She's a crazy bitch, that's what matters!"
"Calm down, man! She's a freakin' teenager!" T-dog says, standing up. "You wanna do this shit again?"
Daryl grunts, like they had talked about this before. I look at Rick, and he quickly looks away. I had the feeling he had been staring at me for some reason.
"Rick, man, this ain't gonna work!" Daryl says, his head all red. Rick puts a hand over his eyes, and thinks it through. Then Glenn steps in.
"Daryl, just, listen" he says, holding his hand up, with the other around his waist. "You've only seen her like this. But trust me, there's a good side on her."
"You've been sayin' that all along, but I ain't seein' it!"
"It's true" Maggie says, standing up next to her boyfriend. "She saved my life. She helped us. She can be good."
"That's not an excuse to throw food across the room!" Beth suddenly says, eyeing her sister.
"Beth, you've talked with her" Hershel says, putting a hand on his daughter's. "You told me you liked her."
"Yes, but…that was before she came here for dinner."
"But you know there's a good side" Maggie says. Beth sighs, and looks at the left over on the wall, with the plate on the ground.
"Are y'all really that stupid?!" Daryl's really freaking out right now. "Are yah deaf or somethin'? She's a psycho! She's not healthy! She's…"
"Daryl, stop!" Carol shouts. Daryl turns towards her, and his face gets pale. Every head in the room turns towards the hurt mother. Her voice, full of emotion, crushes every heart. She looks at all of us, tears in her eyes. I put a hand over my mouth, overwhelmed by her. I never saw her like this. Of course, I've seen her crying, but this is different. She looks almost…strong. As if all the grieve made her stronger than before.
She looks at Daryl. "You're saying all these things, because you think she's bad. You think she hurt me, and you're right about that. But you know why she hurt my feelings? Because she was telling the truth!"
Daryl stands there, his hot head cooling down as he listens to the words. They're powerful, and seem to really get to him.
"Vicky is right" Carol continues. "We never talk about the ones we've lost. We all just…go on with our lives in the only way that's possible in this world. I almost cry my eyes out every time someone says her name….Sophia" she corrects herself. "But if I go on like that, I'll never get over it. We will never get passed it."
"Carol" I say, as I grab her hand. "The way you lost her…we lost her, that's a hard thing to overcome."
"Please, Lori, just say her name out loud!" she replies, almost irritated. "This is what she meant. This is how it goes with everybody. Amy, Jim, Dale, Andrea, Jimmy. Even Merle, for god's sake!"
I quickly look at Daryl, but he keeps his mouth shut. Normally, he would've told her to 'not say a damn bad word about ma bro'. But not now.
Carol looks at everyone for one more time, before she turns around to leave. "Thanks for the dinner, Beth. It truly was delicious."
I asked Rick if I could take the first watch. He agreed. I guess he knew I needed some space to think. What happened today, was just too weird. I needed air, so now I'm up here again, in the watchtower.
I have my dear crossbow on my back, and six arrows with me. Six is my lucky number. I don't know why. It's just my favourite number. I always got lucky with six when I was younger.
I lean over the rail, looking at the moon. It's quiet outside, and it feels nice. I wish it could be like this inside. But of course, somebody had to be pregnant and had to lay in her bed groaning all night. Not a very nice back ground.
I'm not really tired. Not after what Carol said. It's haunting me. It's killing me. I feel guilty. I somehow care a lot about the woman. It's not like love, it's just…caring. I don't know, I just feel the need to protect her. I guess it's my instinct or something.
I sigh, and my hand goes to the back pocket of my pants. I feel the pages of the diary between my fingers. I hold it in front of me, staring at it.
"I'd like that back, please" an familiar voice says from the dark. I chuckle sarcastically, and turn around. On top of the roof of the watch room, the girl with the red hair sits, hanging over the edge. She extends her arm.
"I wondered where it went. Did you like my secrets?"
"Not really. Pretty boring." I do not give it back to her. Instead, I put it back in my back pocket. "I wonder what Rick's gonna do when I tell him 'bout you killin' us."
Vicky lets out a sarcastic laughter. "I wonder that too."
She stands up, and jumps down, not far away from. "Very nice, to invade someone's privacy."
"Ah, yah know, with this new world an'all, different rules."
"Oh really?" she says, crossing her arms over her chest. "I think you didn't quite understand it. You can't just steal things from people."
"Like I said; the rules are changed."
She looks at me, narrowing her eyes. "You know, I wanted to kill you tonight."
"Oh really?" I imitate her voice. "And why didn't you?"
"'Cuz of this stupid girl called Annabel who asked me not to."
My heart drops in my stomach by hearing that name. "What did you say?"
"You heard me. Annabel. Blonde, blue eyes, freckles."
I take a step towards her, but she stands at her place. "How do you know her?"
"Oh, what's that?" Vicky says, taking a step towards me. "Is it love that I see in those eyes? So poor redneck Daryl has a heart?"
I let out a growl as I grab her by her throat and push her against the wall. Her feet are hanging above the ground. She should be chocking by now, but al she does is laughing.
"Oh, it's beyond that! You would die for her. Guess it didn't work out so well!"
"How do you know her?! What do you know about her?!"
"Wow, slow it down, loverboy!" she grins, like she's having fun. I squeeze even harder, but she still doesn't bother.
"Tell me! Or I'll cut yer throat!"
"I think I'll be dead by then, but OK." She lays a hand on my hand, and gives a little pat on it. "I'm very sorry about your girlfriend, though."
"What do yah know?!"
"Remember what I told you, about some dead people who spook around?"
Then, it hits me. "So yah tellin' me yah saw her?"
"Very good! A+ for you!"
"You're lyin'!" As hard as I try to stay confident, the doubts are dripping off my voice. Vicky notices, and lifts her shoulders.
"Believe what you want" she says "doesn't change the fact that she loves peaches."
"What the…." What was that supposed to mean? "Yah truly are mad."
"Annabel's nice to talk to. Most of the others don't really do. Well, except for Sophia…"
I feel the grip around her neck get less violent, and she can finally put her toes on the ground again.
"I don' believe this shit" I grunt between my teeth.
"Whatever. She's still dead."
I finally release my hand from her neck, and step back. The skin is all red, and her eyes are full of tears by the lack of air, but she doesn't care. She holds up her arm, and in her hand, she has her diary.
"Thanks for giving it back" she says with triumph in her voice. "I really need to write some stuff down."
"Good for you" I say, turning away from her. I need to swallow a few times, before I can finally breathe. Annabel. She talked to Annabel. And Sophia. Is she telling the truth? How else does she know about both of them? Or did she spy on us? Heard the names? No, I never talk about Annabel. Not to anyone. Not even to Carol. I haven't heard her name since…I don't even know. And she loved peaches. I sure didn't tell anyone about that.
When I turn around again, I see Vicky still stands there.
"Didn't you need to write?"
"Nah, I find you more interesting" she says, leaning against the rail.
"Fuck off" I mumble. She just chuckles, not impressed. I'm very used to people who would've pissed their panties by now, but she doesn't. It annoys me that she's not scared of me.
"You know, losing someone you love, seems really bad at first" she suddenly says. Her voice is strange. It's not the crazy voice about killing walkers, or the girly voice about leprechauns. "But once you overcome the pain, life's not so bad. OK, maybe it's not very cool if your dad shows up as a ghost and stares at you without doing anything, but the other things are pretty cool."
I stand there and listen. Her voice must've sounded this way before she turned crazy.
"Annabel told me she loved you. She still does. And she wants you to keep trying, keep yourself alive. She said some other stuff, but I forgot. I'll ask her later."
"Why are you tellin' me this?" I ask. I seriously am confused. One moment, we're killing each other, the second, we're in some kind of group therapy. I remember Glenn saying that there was still a good side of her. That the teenager she once was, is still trapped in there. I thought he was wrong, but now, I'm not so sure anymore.
"Thought you might need it" she says, and then turns around. "You're right, about the change of rules. The game's the same, life and death, but now it's in expert mode. Someone changed the rules, but what are those rules now? Who says we're playing the game the right way? I adapted to the world how it is right now; a crazy, mad, cruel one. Maybe I am the one playing the game right. Maybe you guys are the ones making a mess. You're so stubborn to stay the same, stay human like before. But what if that's not how it works?"
With that being her last words, she turns around on one foot, as a sort of ballerina thing. "Imma go to bed. See yah tomorrow."
Summerday whatever, evening.
So, though day. First, I woke up in the C-block, my stomach hurting as hell. Went to have dinner with Rick's group, got in an argument about life and death, threw food across the room, and talked to gohsts. My life's good.
About the gohst talk, I met another girl today. Her name's Annabel, and she's Daryl's girlfriend. Or, she was. Her being a gohst means she's dead. She didn't want to tell me how she died, not yet. First, she wanted me to message Daryl, talk him out of killing me and so, 'cause I'm her only link to him, and blablabla...
Beyond that love-thingie, she's pretty cool to talk to. She loves peaches. That's one thing.
I also met Sophia, who's appearently Carol's daughter. She's cute, she said she liked my drawings.
After the dinner thing, I went back to my cellblock, and noticed my diary was gone. I knew T-dog or Daryl took it. I first went to check on T-dog, who was snorting like a pig. He definately didn't have it. I searched for Daryl, couldn't find him. Went to the watchtower, and waited for somebody to come up. They seemed to keep that as a security system. Like that's gonna work, when it's all dark.
Daryl had my diary, and as you can see, I got it back. Had a little chat with Daryl about the meaning of life nowadays, nothing important. He's still fun to play with. You can really mess with his head once you get to him. The Annabel thing I told him was not all true, but his reaction to it was very funny. I liked seeing him fighting against himself.
Though I don't want to kill him. I mean, I really hate the guy, but you know what? Hate is one form of caring. It's born from the same feeling. If you hate someone, you care. When you see that person sad, griefing, you enjoy it, so you care. You care about what's going on with that person. Obviously, saying you care about someone, does sound different than 'I hate him'.
Tomorrow, we're gonna try out Hershel's crutches. Pretty sure they all hate me now, so they care, but I don't. I don't care about them, not anymore. I think. I hope. I don't know.