It's silent in the car. I assume that everybody's still shocked about Daryl leaving all of the sudden. I am. I can't stop thinking about the dangers and the threats out there, things he can't face on his own, especially not with such a traitorous brother like Merle. I'm not saying Merle is going to betray him, I'm just saying it's possible.
Miriam hasn't said a word since she entered the car. Before, all she said was 'Thank you! Thank you so much!" but after that, she stayed quiet. Calvin, her son, is sitting on her lap, looking through the car window with big, curious, eyes. First, he was analysing everyone in the car. He started with Maggie, and told her he thought she was pretty. Maggie smiled at him, but didn't respond. Calvin shrugged at that, and looked at the other side of Maggie, where Glenn sat. Vinnie widened his eyes at the red and purple face of the tortured young man. I guess he was too scared to ask about it, but I know he wanted to. He kept staring at Glenn, till he turned around. Vinnie then quickly investigated his fingers, playing innocent. After Glenn, he started analysing Michonne. Michonne had a weird glance on her face, and a lot of anger. She had a few cuts on her face, and blood on her clothes. She hadn't told us yet what she was doing while she was gone. Whatever it was, it didn't make her happy.
Vinnie wasn't very interested in Michonne. I saw him looking at Michonne through the front mirror, and he just looked bored. He then, at last, looked at me. He already knew me as the husband of the friend of his mother. But he did ask me about my beard. I tried to tell him was doing Movember, but was a little late this year. He didn't buy it.
Now, it's silent again. In about half an hour, we'll reach the prison. Carl will be surprised to see we not only brought Glenn and Maggie back, but also two old friends. Carol will be shocked to hear Daryl left us, especially her. And I know that everyone will be asking questions about Vicky.
I look through the front mirror again. Miriam looks at me, with no emotion on her face. She looks at me, as if she's waiting for something. Her eyes ask me, beg me, to ask her something. As if she's too scared to start a conversation by herself.
I clear my throat, and see Glenn sit up, ready for action. But I keep looking at Miriam, with sometimes a quick look at the road.
"What happened to Al?" I ask. I see her swallow a lump, before answering.
"He got bit." I don't know what I was expecting to hear. I've heard so many insane stories, but still, the bite is one of the worst. I nod.
"I'm sorry. And…Dan? How is he?" I now ask for her son, and see her look down. As if she's ashamed.
"I… He was….he was one of the Governor's soldiers. They captured him, held him prisoner, because he once helped a girl that saved his life…." She closes her mouth, looking out the window. "He was there, in the arena. He was next to your friend. I tried to help him, but a walker got between us…and I tried to get a hold of him, but I let him slip through my fingers…"
"Stop" I interrupt her calmly. She's now fighting back tears, because I asked her about her son. "You don't need to tell me, if you don't want to."
She looks at me through the rear view mirror. "It's OK. It's good to talk about the ones we've lost."
I look away, back at the road, with a weird feeling in my stomach. Vicky once said something like that too. I disagreed with her, but hearing it from an old friend…it suddenly makes sense to me.
I can already see one of the watch towers of the prison, just above the trees. We're almost there.
Vinnie sighs, with a hand on his tummy. "Gosh, I'm hungry. Do you have food where you live, mister Grimes?"
I chuckle. "Oh, yes we do. All kinds of canned flavours…."
"Cans?!" he yells. "Oh, man! I hate canned food! It sucks!"
"Calvin! Language, please!" his mother says angrily to him.
I open my eyes. Holy shit…where the hell have I ended up this time?
I'm lying on the ground, in the dust, and something big is above me. It looks stair, like some kind of tribune by a football field. I look at where I see light. Sunlight.
I crawl towards it. My head feels heavy, and I feel a wound burning on my forehead. I try not to blink my eyes too much, it hurts every time. It takes little time for my muscles to start up, and they feel sore, as if I have slept in some weird position.
When I reach the light, I drag myself from under the tribune, and sit down. The sun feels good on my skin, and I feel more awake then before.
I look around, and wish I never did that. Well, if I had a choice. Which I don't have. Around me, lays a circle of bodies, biters and humans. They're all dead. All of them have been shot in the head, or the skull has been broken.
I look at the ground, trying not to throw up. Breathe, Daniel, breathe. I try to ignore the horrible smell, but cannot abandon the horrible images.
"Think about something else" I mumble to myself, just to hear a voice talking to me. Kind of sad, if you think about it. I can only calm down by hearing a voice, doesn't matter from who. And since I don't have any real friends or family around to do that, I can only talk to myself.
I try to dig through my memories, thinking about something nice. It's hard, when you've been living in a world as crazy like this for the past nine months. No, wait, almost nine months. It's been 8 months and four week since the outbreak. Not a full nine months.
I close my eyes, trying to think about my childhood. When I was eight, I went fishing with my dad. It's a nice memory. I fell into the water when I tried to grab the fish I was about to catch. Dad jumped after me, and that's how I was taught to swim. 'Cause dad couldn't either, so I had to drag him back to our boat. It was one of my scariest moments of my life, too.
I laugh silently, and open my eyes. Ignoring the horrible things around me, I stand up. Trying not to look too much at the ground, I try to find a way out of here. There are no people here, dead or undead, but that doesn't mean they're not in Woodbury itself. At daytime, there is nobody in the arena.
My eyes catch the warehouse, with the cages the biters were being held. I can't see them fully, so I take a few steps closer. When I do so, I notice a shadow. A shadow of what looks like a long person.
I slowly walk towards one of the other buildings, with my back against the wall. I keep the shadow in my sight at all times, knowing whoever it is, is waiting for me to come out.
I stop breathing, fully focusing on my hearing. I don't hear him/her breathing, or move. It's only a shadow I see.
I stay with my back against the wall as I step closer. My hearts beating in my ears, and I try to keep the fishing trip with my dad in the back of my head, preventing myself from running away like a coward.
When I come at the edge of the wall, I don't know what to do. Show myself, and die? Or run away, with a chance I will die? Do nothing, wait him out, and die?
Well, not many options. The shadow hasn't moved yet, and I'm starting to think I maybe am hallucinating. A thousand thoughts run through my mind, and the fishing trip is only one on the background. Images of my mom and Vinnie running away from me, Vicky with a wound on her leg, Merle and his brother fighting, walkers coming out of nowhere, smoke rising from the ground…
I follow my instinct, and run. I run. Away from the shadow. I don't know where to go. I stand back in the middle of the arena again, and look for a place to hide. Well, I started under the tribune, why not end there?
I take a slide, and crawl the rest. I guess it would've looked pretty cool in a movie, co-starring Jason Statham, my favourite movie-actor. But in reality; it hurts like a bitch.
I push my body against the ground, hoping whomevers here won't notice me. Maybe there is nobody here, and I'm just going crazy. Crazy…I somehow think of Vicky. Sweet, weird, crazy Vicky. I miss her. I hope she's alright, wherever she may be. I hope she's still alive. I hope….
I hear footsteps. I freeze. Don't move, Dan, don't move. I put my hand over my own mouth, scared that the person can hear me breathe. First, I see a shadow. But it's not the big one I saw earlier. This one is smaller. The footsteps don't sound like a tall man I pictured in my head.
First, I see two dirty sneakers, standing at the spot I sat earlier. The sneakers are full of blood and dirt, and so are the jeans. Two skinny legs are put in them, and I now know this absolutely isn't a man.
"You can come outta there," a voice says, sounding really amused. I don't know what to do, and decide to stay where I am. The figure sighs, and sits on her knees. "Seriously, dude, I don't got all day."
I almost don't recognize her. Her face is swollen on one side, her clothes almost ripped apart, and it looks like someone cut some of her red hair off.
I quickly crawl away from under the tribune. She holds out her hand to me, and I grab it. She pulls me up, and I still am amazed by the power in those small arms.
Without thinking, I put my arms around her, and hold her tight. "I missed you."
I feel her straighten her back and hold her breath. I ignore it, and rub her softly over her dirty hair.
"Uh, okay. Cool." With one quick move, she freed herself from my arms. "You done? You need to take a piss? 'Cause I'm not staying here much longer. I'm hungry as fuck, and if I don't get something to eat, I'm gonna make a muffin of you, and suck your brains out like whip."
I nod, breathing through my mouth, trying not to throw up. Again. I try to grab her hand. "Vicky, what happened to you?"
"Oh, nothing special. First, I chewed my way to freedom, but then there were a couple of guys trying to rape me, then they were going to execute me, but I released some walkers before that, and they interrupted everything and then there was smoke and gunshots, and I saw Rick, but he didn't see me, I tried to wave but he didn't wave back. I kicked Merle under his ass, and he didn't see me 'cause of all the smoke….It was fun!"
My jaw drops, and look at her ripped shirt. "They tried to rape you?! And what do you mean with 'chewed'?"
Vicky grabs my arm, and starts walking. "I can tell you that while we're baking."
"What? Baking? Why…" We walk towards the big shadow, and I suddenly feel scared. "What are you doing?"
"I'm making a muffin, or a pie, a present for the Governor. I'm sure he'll like it!"
The big shadow I saw earlier, is not what I expected at all. I'm staring at three huge piles of walkers. They're all dead-dead. The first pile are all complete bodies, the second is full of arms and legs, and the third full of eyes. The rest of the ground is full of other scattered body parts.
I turn away, cursing my own weak stomach. "What the hell?"
"I'm making it Walker-flavour. The brains are the muffin itself, filled with hearts, and a sauce of blood. As the bottom, I put a leg, and as topping a mix of eyes and fingers. I may be add some…."
I don't hear the rest. I bent over, and vomit.
"Please, be them" I mumble to nobody, as I hear the sound of a car nearing the front gate of the prison. I only felt this much relieve when I saw mom again, after the night we lost the prison. Seeing the green Hyundai appear between the trees, I let out a great amount of air. I kept it inside since they left, and I could now finally release it.
I run towards the gate, unlock it with the keys. Carol pulls it open, while I open the second lock. As the car nears the gate, a couple of walkers try to reach for it. We both ignore them.
My dad steps out of the car. I run towards him, and he kneels down. I try not to cry, but I feel I'm doing it a little.
"Thank God" dad says, as he hugs me. I feel so safe, in my dad arms. He's back, he's finally back. We're save. Everything will be alright. Dad knows what to do with Tyreese and the others. Everything will be alright.
Dad lets go of me, and looks me in the eyes. "We're gonna have a little talk, OK? I wanna know what happened here."
I know what he's talking about. Of course, what else could it be? Vicky escaping isn't something I forget.
"Daryl…Where's Daryl?" Carol asks, when she doesn't see him in the car. The green vehicle drives through, towards the main building. My dad stands up, and suddenly I feel something's not right.
"Daryl's OK. He's alive. He…He left. We ran into his brother, they took off."
Carol blinks with her eyes. "He…left? He's gone? Is…Is he coming back?"
My dad doesn't know what to say. Carol walks past him. "Gone?!"
Carol tries to fight back the tears, but it's not helping. I look at the ground. He left. He left us. He left with his stupid brother. He left us to go with his stupid brother.
I lock the gates, avoiding the walkers. "And…And Oscar?"
Dad looks at me, and shakes his head. I almost don't want to ask, but I have to. "Vicky?"
"Vicky is not our problem" he says. He and Carol walk towards over the big field, but I stop.
"What? Why?" I ask, shocked about the cold tone. "She's my friend!"
"We told Vicky to stay, and she didn't. She brought us and herself in danger. We couldn't wait for her."
He doesn't even look at me while saying this, and that makes me even more angry. "So you left her there?!"
He keeps on walking, with hand on Carol's shoulder. "It was our only option. She can take care of herself."
I look at Carol, who looks at the ground, grieving for Daryl. But that's not fair, because he's not dead.
"You said we don't kill the living" I almost shout at dad. He stops walking, which means I finally got his attention. "There's no difference between killing or leaving for dead."
"Maybe you should walk on, we'll catch up later" he says to Carol, and she nods. Dad than turns around to face me. "She went inside the town with us, and she lost us. It's not my fault."
"You think? What if it was me who got lost, is that not your fault too?"
He takes a step towards me. "Don't compare yourself to her!"
"Why not?! She's a part of our group too!"
"That's not true! She just happened to be here before us."
"After all she's done for us, this is how you treat her? Left her for dead?"
My dad sighs, with a hand over his eyes. "You weren't there. You don't know how it was like in there."
"Well, you just said Vicky can manage herself, so it doesn't sound so bad after all!"
"Carl Grimes!" He suddenly says loudly. His face is red, and his eyes spit fire. "Don't you talk back to me like that! You don't know what you're talkin' 'bout!"
I turn around, and walk away. This authority-thing he's trying to do, it's not working. I walk back towards the gate, with the keys in my hand.
"What are you doing?" my dad asks.
"I'm gonna look for her." I put the keys in the lock. Suddenly, dad stands next to me, and holds my arm.
"You are not going anywhere, you hear me?" he says with a soft voice full of anger. "You're not going out there on your own. I need you here, we need you here. If you go out there on your own, you'll die."
"Then I'll ask Carol to go with me" I say stubbornly.
"You really think Carol's in that mood right now?" I know he's right, but I stay where I am. I shrug. "Think it through, Carl. It's too dangerous."
"Then come with me" I say, looking at him, begging him. I don't know what I'm expecting he'll answer, but I wasn't expecting to see doubt in his eyes.
"I want to, Carl, I really do" he says, and he really means it. "I just have to get some rest. We'll go eventually, but there are a few things we need to take care of. But we'll find her again, I promise."
I look up at him from under my hat, and see regret and guilt cross his face. I wonder what he's thinking right now. The passed days, even my own dad has become a riddle for me. Everybody's acting strange.
I pull the keys out of the lock, and put them back at my belt. "OK. We'll go later."
Dad smiles sadly, and pats me on my shoulder. We start walking towards the main building again, till I realize something. "Dad…there's something you should know…"
"What is it?" he asks, alarmed.
"We…I found some people, wandering in the halls of the prison. I…I didn't know what to do…"
Summerday I don't fucking know.
Okay, I'm gonna be honest; Woodbury sucks. All these town people are motherfuckers straight from hell, and I'm gonna make them wanna die.
I found this random piece of paper in a book full of stripes, and a pencil, so I thought; why not write a journal? 'Cause my brain's exploding with words I have to write down. 'Cause Daniel is sick and doesn't wanna talk. He sits a few metres away from me. I gave him a glass of water, and I think he's doing better, but he only looks at the ground and mumbles to himself.
He'll be OK.
What I actually wanted to talk about, is the most genius idea I just came up with; I collected all the dead walkers in the crazy arena of the stupid Woodbury-people, removed several body parts and made piles of them. I'm gonna make this huge pie with Walker-flavour, and give it to the Governor. I can't wait to see his face!
Only problem I have, is that I don't have an oven. And I don't think it's going to make it any better if I put it in an oven. So it's gonna be raw.
I'm almost done. I'm now working on the topic with the eyeballs. It's looking really cool. If it was a real muffin, I would eat it myself. But I don't think walkers are nice to eat. And I'm sure Daniel doesn't like them either, 'cause he's sick.
I'm hungry, my clothes are dirty and ripped to shreds, and one of those stupid Woodbury-people cut some of my hair. Now one side is shorter than the other. I haven't looked in the mirror, 'cause they don't have one in this arena, but I'm sure it looks pretty cool. But I don't like what they did to my shirt. To make it even, I'm gonna steal one of theirs.
After I deliver the muffin at the Governor's place, I'm gonna go back to the prison with Daniel. We'll probably stop at a supermarket to get some food, and maybe a present for Beth, for saying sorry 'cause I made her run away like a baby. And maybe I'll find a stuffed animal of a squirrel, for Daryl. I can almost imagine his face when he sees it! He'll look at me, raise an eyebrow, and throw it back. Priceless.
O, maybe I can get something for baby-Grimes too! A mini gun, so she can protect herself!
Daniel's mumbling things about his family, saying he can't leave. I tell him he can't stay here, 'cause the Governor's a bitch. I'm promising myself right now that I'm gonna get Daniel out of here, make him better, find his family, kill the Governor and his bitches and live happily ever after at the prison. Sounds like a good plan to me!
I walk away. Away from my brother. My back's full of sweat, and my backpack sticks at it. He ripped my fucking shirt to shreds, so now I gotta walk with the bag scraping at my skin with every step. Another great thing about Merle-services.
I notice he's not coming after me. Good. I don't want to see him right now. I'm sure he'll catch up later, but I have to be alone for now.
I don't know how far it is to the prison. Looking up to the sky, I think I got about 5 hours of light left. That should be enough. First, I just gotta find the road. And that won't be easy, knowing we've been walking through the woods for at least three hours. We then reached that bridge, saved a couple of folks in trouble, had a fight, and walked it off. Life of the Dixons, everybody.
I don't care how much I gotta walk. If it gets me home, I'll walk a thousand miles. Besides, I got enough stuff to think about.
For example, Vicky. She's dead now. And that sucks, 'cause she was my only link to Annabel. OK, that's maybe a little heartless, but it's true. It sucks when you suddenly have a little hope to say something to your dead friend, and the only person who gives you that hope, is gone.
Of course, Vicky was someone we needed in the group. She was someone who would talk about stupid things, and make them very interesting. Like toothpaste. She had to keep an eye on the baby once, and was telling her a story about how toothpaste was made. Lil' Ass-Kicker was already asleep at the point when Vicky started telling about the great war between the dwarfs and the fairies, fighting over the magical stones where you could make toothpaste from.
Yeah, it sucks she's dead. It sucks she fucked everything up for herself.
I somehow think of Carol. I hope she's OK. I hope she's not too sad about me leaving. Of course not. She's a strong woman. She's survived more shit than just a motherfucker with a crossbow leaving his only friends in this world.
Carl, Carl's probably angry. It's not like we bonded so much, but when his ma died, I was the first one he talked to. I was probably the only person who could understand a little about what he was feeling at the moment.
Glenn, he's upset. He is very upset. But I guess he rather has me leaving with Merle, than having both of us in the prison. Glenn sacrifices everything, everyone, to keep the group save.
Maggie, Beth and Hershel. The old man's gonna hate it not to have me there. When I went on a run with Maggie a couple of days ago, he begged me to keep his daughter save. He doesn't know Merle, but if he did, he would think the same as Glenn.
Rick. The sheriff. The man who crowned himself as leader. And probably my best friend. We've been through so much shit together, we've done so many things. Every time he had to make a decision, he looked at me, and I would nod or shake my head. He always asked for my advice. He couldn't do all this shit without me. I bet he doesn't know what to do now, with me not being there.
I stop walking. I notice I've been walking on the road for a long time now. I try to locate where the fuck I am, with no success.
I hear footsteps behind me, and know that the heavy feet of Merle are following me. Good. I decide to wait for him.
Then, out of nowhere, I hear a gun shot. I grab my crossbow, ready an arrow, and kneel down at the side of the road. There's a silent first, then, a lot of other gun shots. I recognize the sound of a machine gun. It sounds not too far away.
"What's goin' on?" Merle says from behind me.
"Som' kinda fight, not far from here."
"That prison place? Can't be far now."
I suddenly feel cold. The prison. Fuck, no, not the prison.
"Better check it out" Merle says, stepping on the road. When I don't follow, he turns around. "What? Now yah suddenly pissin' yer pants?"
"They won' let yah in" I say, and he chuckles.
"Does that really matter right now, brother? Yer friends are under Governor-attack. I don'think-"
I already run past him, towards the sound of the gunshots.