"You got to be fucking kiddin' me." These are the first words spoken as a reaction at Vicky's appearance near the fence. Daryl already runs inside again after speaking these words, probably to grab his crossbow.
Rick grabs Daniel by his shoulders, and pulls him away from the fence. He has already put a hand on his gun.
"Go, inside! Take your brother with you."
I run towards Rick, and come to stand in front of him. It seems the only way to get his full attention.
"Rick, wait!" I begin, but I see I'm not worth his attention. "Rick, don't do this, please. Wait for her to come her, see what she has to say."
"We've been trying to talk to her for too long" he responds, reloading his gun. "It's over, Carol."
"No, it's not."
I look at the red-haired teenager again, and my heart skips a beat. "Look at her! Look at all that blood! She's injured!"
"Doesn't change the fact that she's a psycho" Daryl suddenly says, coming back from the cellblock. With his crossbow.
Vicky is nearing the gate, trying to stay away from the arms of the walkers. She's in shooting distance now.
"Daryl, come on. This is madness!"
Daryl snorts. "We've been over this. I'm sorry, but she ain't getting' in here again."
"She could've killed us any time she wanted to. But she didn't."
"She did use me as a shield to escape" Rick says back. He's done reloading, and his face is all concentration.
Vicky is now running towards the gate, the walkers following her like a small herd.
"Please! Let me in, please!"
Rick lifts his eyebrows. "What the hell?"
Daryl puts his crossbow up, aiming. "It's a trick. She jus' trying to-"
"No, she's not!" I say. "She's begging us to let her in! Don't you see? She needs help!"
"I don' think so" Daryl says, even though he lowers his crossbow. "I think she's getting her wish. She wanted to get eaten by walkers. Well, here she goes…"
I see Rick is lowering his gun too, and it shocks me. "Is this how heartless we became, uh? Are we letting people die out there?"
"She ain't the kind of people you mean" Daryl says, already turning around, as he sees a walker grabs Vicky's t-shirt. She's slowed down, but doesn't give up. She pulls through, her t-shirt being ripped apart.
I turn to Rick, begging him to open the gate. But he shakes his head, and walks after Daryl. I look at the poor girl, and back to my group. This is insane. This is not how I want to live.
So I know what I have to do. I wait for Rick and Daryl to be almost away from the courtyard, so that they can't stop me. I wait for Vicky to almost reach the gate, so that she doesn't bring any walkers with her.
Then I run. I take a crowbar with me, just in case. With my light feet, I almost don't make any sound. The first signs of me opening the gate, is the peeping of the hinges. Both the heads of Daryl and Rick turn around, as I'm already pulling at the ropes.
"No!" Rick shouts, but the gate is already opened. I manage to hold it for about five seconds, and in those seconds, Vicky manages to run in. I let go of the ropes, and the gate falls back in its place. A hand is squeezed between them, the fingers still moving. They fall on the ground, still trying to find some flesh. Vicky steps away from it, terrified.
I frown, as I stomp the hand with my boot. Vicky has put her hands over her eyes, and is softly wining.
I feel sorry for her, and walk towards her for comfort. I softly grab her hands, and pull them away from her face.
"Vicky? It's OK. You're home now. Everything's gonna be fine."
She eyes me with eyes full of fear. As if she's looking into a world she doesn't know.
"Carol" Rick suddenly says. I turn my head towards the sound of his voice. Both Daryl and Rick are standing just a few feet away from us, both holding up their weapons, ready to shoot.
"Step away from her" he coldly says. I shake my head, and instead, I push Vicky behind me, so that I protect her with my own body.
"No" I say. Daryl narrows his eyes.
"Jus' do as he says, Carol. Yah can't save her."
I bite my lips. He liked Vicky. Or at least, it seemed like he did. They didn't get along at first, but in the end, they were a pretty good team. Why was he doing this to her?
"Rick, think about it" I say, because talking to Daryl won't help. "You let Merle, a man who tortured our friends, killed dozens of people and belonged to the Governor's group, stay in our home, but not a girl who helped us out more than we can count, who opened her home to us, and saved our lives?"
Rick eyes me, still holding up his gun, his finger on the trigger. Vicky is still hiding behind me, as if she's too shy. She keeps sobbing softly, and I'm starting to think she's delusional.
Rick looks over his shoulder to Daryl, and they seem to have a silent conversation, like they always do when Rick has to decide something.
After a while, he turns back towards me, and that's when I hear a soft thud behind me. When I turn around, Vicky is lying on the ground, unconscious.
Daniel stands up again from the metal table, and walks around in circles. Vinnie looks up from his drawing, having no clue about the commotion outside.
In fact, nobody has. Beth is still happily feeding Judith her formula, Maggie is laying on her bed in her cell to rest, Glenn is playing with a knife in his hand, sitting with his back against the wall, Michonne is sharpening her knife with a stone, and Merle is feeling bored as always, flossing his teeth with a knife.
The only sound is the stone going over Michonne's sword. The rhythm keeps the tension in the cellblock calm. It stays this way, until Rick comes walking in. His face tells me that whatever they decided, it isn't good.
When I see Daryl coming after him, with a passed out Vicky in his arms, and Carol with a face full of worries, I know that I have to play a part again.
Daryl doesn't come into the cellblock, but stays at the entrance. Rick walks over to me, sitting in the stairs. He sighs, looking at me.
"Could you…" He points at Vicky. I nod, and pull myself on my feet. Foot.
"Put her on the table" I say. On my way towards the front, I pass Daniel, who's feet seemed to be glued to the ground. His face has gotten pale, and his eyes more blue than ever.
"Stay, boy" I say to him, before he can take a step. As I suspected, he doesn't argue about it, and does as I say.
Daryl puts Vicky on the table, and I immediately see the huge amount of blood on the girl's clothes.
Carol already comes running with a box full of medical supplies.
"Give me some space, please" I say as friendly as I am capable of right now. I grab the stethoscope, and search for a heartbeat on her chest. It's slow and weak but there is one. I can also hear her breathe very soft.
I open her eyes, shine with a light in them. No respond.
"Is this how she came in?" I ask, as I pull her shirt up.
"No, she was still standing, she even ran" Carol says. "She just fell on the ground."
"Could be an act…" Daryl mumbles. I glance at him, telling him to shut up. He backs away, so I can do my work.
I quickly inspect the wound, and I'm surprised.
"What is it?" Rick asks as he sees my shocked face.
"The bullet's still in there…"
"What does that mean?" Carol asks. I don't reply, but quickly grab the tweezers. The bullet hasn't damaged any internal organs, but she'll get an infection if it stays in there for too long. Knowing that the bullet was fired from not far away, and from the back, it must've gone towards the front, but not completely through. The muscle must've stopped it.
"I have to take it out while she's still out" I say, more to myself than to the others. "Carol, help me keep the skin flat. Daryl, if she moves, hold her down. Give her a fist if you think it's necessary."
"Oh, it sure is necessary" he grunts, but still comes forward. Carol quickly washes her hands, and runs back to the "operation"-table.
"Right here" I point. She puts her hand where I point at, and takes a deep breath. I give Daryl a glance, and see that he's holding both Vicky's shoulders down, as if she's some kind of wild animal.
"I'm going in" I say, as I prepare the tweezers. I can almost see the bullet, if done correctly, it could be pulled out instantly, without any other examining. She just needs to lay very still…
I hunch over so that my face is very close to the wound. I try not to make my hand shake while the tweezers go through the skin. Vicky doesn't respond to the cold aluminium, or the pain. Carol tries to keep her head in the game, but I can understand that being that close to an internal operation for the first time is still hard.
I've gone through most of the muscle, and the tweezers softly touch the bullet. Vicky has no idea how lucky she is; the bullet's still intact.
With a little turning and squeezing, I manage to get hold of the bullet. Now, in a slow and right move, pull it out.
The tweezers go back and back, until I hold the bullet in the air. Carol lets out a deep breath of relief, while Daryl simply snorts.
I put the bullet in a small bucket, with the blood still on it.
"I'll sew her up" Carol says, with a hand on my shoulder, basically saying 'You've done enough for the day'.
While giving her a grateful nod, I look at Rick. He's staring in the distance, as in an inner struggle.
Then, he looks up, as if he's made up his mind. He signs to Daryl, and they walk out of the cellblock.
"Hershel…" Carol suddenly calls. I turn back to the table. Carol is standing at Vicky's head, carefully stroking her hair. I walk over to her.
"What is it?"
Carol points at something on Vicky's head. Or rather, in her head. There's a wound on it, just a little to the front. It's not deep, but definitely needs to be stitched.
I wait till we are outside, before I start talking.
"What the hell was that?" I ask loudly. Daryl stays calm, as if he's not out of his mind, like I think he is. "The plan was to kill her off. I could do it right here. But you suddenly changed your mind?!"
Daryl still doesn't seem to care. Instead, he searches through the side pocket of his pants. He hands me a paper, and I unfold it.
"What's this?" I ask him. He nods towards it.
"Jus' read it."
I read the first passage, and lift an eyebrow. "Is this hers?"
"Yup. Found it in a cottage, she must've rested there or somethin'."
I smirk. "And you believe this?"
"You've seen in what state she was, when arrivin' here. Couldn't let yah kill an innocent person."
I can't believe my ears. "Innocent? You call that psycho innocent?"
"I know, it's stupid, but the girl's not lyin'. I recognized the handwritin', I know she's telling the truth."
"How would you know her handwriting?" I ask surprised. Daryl scratches himself at the back of his neck.
"I had a little peek in some stories she wrote. They got crazier by the page. This handwriting is a little at the beginning, by the last stories, they're nothing more than just some curls and pointless figures."
"How is this not a trick?!" I question, while stepping towards him. "That girl is smarter than she looks. What if it's a trap?"
Daryl shrugs. "We'll have to find out when she wakes up."
I lay a hand over my eyes. "This is ridiculous. I could've solved it all, I could've done it right here."
Vicky had been laying on the ground, passed out. I had pushed Carol aside, and I had aimed my gun for her head. I had my finger on the trigger, ready to pull it, when Daryl called my name. He said that he didn't want to do this. But that was a whole different story the day before.
"You believe that this girl that is the most dangerous person alive, has lost her memories, doesn't know who we are or where she is or whatever happened? Listen to yourself, it's delusional."
Daryl shakes his head. "No, it's not. I know it's hard to believe. But there's another reason why I didn't want her dead yet."
I look up. "What? You want her to talk to ghosts again?"
"Merle and me found som' tracks, from a car. Vicky's footsteps led us to it, and disappeared with the tyre trails. She must've gone somewhere, or was taken. I wanna know where to."
I narrow my eyes. "You think this Governor is doing this? You think he got somethin' to do with it?"
Daryl shrugs. "I dunno. I wanted to talk to Merle about it, but I thought I'd let you know first. Maybe he wants us to be distracted, or something, like that he can attack when we let our guard down because of the Vicky-situation. "
I run with my hand through my sweaty hair. "Could be."
"There's another possibility" Daryl continues. "What if he's usin' her as a spy? If she's really gone, she doesn't know who he is. And if he took her, she'll probably trust him. He could've send her here to spy and report."
I nod. "And you think keeping her here is a good idea, then?"
"If we kill her off, he'll know we know. But if we don't…we'll beat him at his own game. We'll tell his little spy fake info, and she'll tell her new friend."
I'm impressed. Daryl really thought this through. "Good thinking. It's a long shot, but not impossible."
"So, you're in?"
"It's not like I can say no anymore."
I lean against the doorpost, and I can't believe my eyes. It's her. It's really her.
She looks very pale, has dark circles around her eyes and her hair is full of small branches, leafs and mud, but it's her.
Carol is softly patting Vicky's forehead with a wet cloth.
"It's a little creepy if you keep standing there" she says without looking up. I didn't even realize she knew I was there.
"I'm sorry, I was just…"
"Looking" Carol finishes my sentence for me with a smile. I feel really stupid.
"Yeah…" I eventually say. "How is she?"
Carol dips the cloth in a small tray filled with water. "She's stable, for now. Hershel will come check on her in an hour or so." She then turns her head to look me in the eyes. "She won't be waking up today, if that's what you want to ask."
"Oh, no, I just wanted to…" I try, but I know it won't get any less creepy.
Carol stands up. "Would you mind watching over her for a minute? I have to use the lady's room."
"Of course, go take a piss." Once again, I learn that my mouth is quicker than my brain. Carol lifts her eyebrows, and I just wish I could disappear into the ground for a minute or so. She exits the cell, leaving me alone with Vicky.
I carefully step towards the chair to sit next to the bed. Of course, I bump my knee against the bed, causing it to shake. I softly curse myself, and I hear Vicky groan a little. I freeze, and wait for her to fall into a deeper sleep again.
Then, I continue my way, and finally manage to sit down properly. It feels weird to be this close to her again, but I'm happy I am. Her eyebrows are pulled in a hurt scowl, as if she's still in pain.
I raise my hand, wanting to carefully put her hair away from her forehead, behind her ear, but of course, I stub my hand against the upper bed of the bunker bed. Nice.
Vicky groans again, and now blinks with her eyes. I freeze again, hoping that she'll think it's a dream and close her eyes again.
But instead, she gasps, sits up, lets out a soft yelp out of pain, then sees me, crawls away, yelps again, pulls the blanket over her knees, and hides behind it.
I stand up, and step away from the bed. I hold my hands up, hoping I'll make an innocent appearance. "Hey, Vicky, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. It's OK. You're back in the prison. Or the palace, whatever you like to call it."
She blinks with her eyes, confused, but she seems to relax a little. "I'm really sorry, but I kinda forgot your name…?"
I frown. How could she forget my name? And what happened to her voice? It's very high and scared, not Vicky-alike at all.
"You…don't remember me?" I ask, pointing at myself. Vicky lowers the blanket, and slowly shakes her head.
"I'm sorry, I can't help it. I fell, and hurt my head."
She then widens her eyes, raises her hand and feels at the bandage on her head. She then pulls away the blanket and looks at the bandage at the side of her waist.
"Hershel helped you" I explain, then realising she probably also doesn't know who Hershel is. "The veterinarian."
"A vet? I'm not a cow!"
I chuckle. There's a little from the old Vicky. It almost gives me the hope that she still is the same person, but with different memories.
I think she's comfortable enough to let me sit down again. She pulls the blanket over herself again as she realizes she's not wearing pants. I decide not to say anything about it. This situation is awkward enough already.
"So, who are you again?" she asks.
"I'm Daniel, and, well…we were close friends. Are."
"How close?" she asks. I shrug.
"Well…we lived together in our own cellblock, searched for food ourselves, and basically did everything by ourselves. With my little brother too."
"But who are all those other people then?" she asks confused.
"You wanted some privacy, so you stayed in your own cellblock, and me and my little brother lived with you."
"Little brother? How little? Don't tell me we had a baby…"
"No, no" I say, trying not to laugh. "Vinnie's eight years old. He's smart, he kinda can handle himself. We were like the Three Musketeers."
Vicky pulls her knees up her chest, with a little pain, and lets her chin rest on them. "I'm sorry I don't remember. It sounds really cool."
"Don't worry about it" I assure her. "Maybe hanging around here a couple of days will help you. I'll show you our cellblock if you get out of bed."
She smiles, and it makes my heart beat faster. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Now, Daniel, talk about something else. "How did you hurt your head?"
Vicky sighs. "I don't know. I've been passing out and waking up in different places more than I can count. I think I just fell on a rock or something. And the strangest thing is; I've never been so tired in my life, but I can't sleep."
She shrugs. "I wish I knew. I think I'm just disorientated, and scared. It seemed to me I'm hated around here."
"I don't hate you" I say before I'm thinking what those words mean. Vicky smiles gratefully.
"Well, that's a relief."
After some more chatting with Daniel, I probably fell asleep. Now, waking up again, it's dark outside. It's still warm here, and I kick the blanket of me. The wound on my side still hurts, but I bite my lips so I don't scream.
I lay on my back, staring to the upper bed. This day was the weirdest one of my life. I'm miles away from home and my family, in a world where you get to come back when you die, but in the wrong way, and people live in prisons because they think it's save. This is giving me a headache.
I wonder where my dad is right now. Is he even alive? What if he became one of those things? What if he got bit? Wait, isn't that the same thing?
I wipe some of my hair out of my face. It smells so horrible. I should ask Daniel if there are showers in here. Or the woman with the short hair. She opened the gate for me, so she must've liked the person that looked like me very much. Peter told me I had to try to make them believe I am not the mad girl they hate, but someone else. But I think it's a better idea to pretend to be her, while I'm not actually her.
I got at least two people fooled. Daniel, and the short haired woman. Maybe the others think so too, because they didn't kill me yet.
I hear some weird echo, and sit up. I nearly have a heart attack when I see the silhouette of a man in the doorway. He lays his finger on his lips, telling me not to make a sound. He steps into the cell, and the light of the moon only shows parts of his face.
He hunches towards me, and I can see that he is holding a gun in one of his hands. His face is close to mine, I can feel his breath against my forehead.
"You might think everyone buys your story, but I don't" the deep, whispering voice says. My heart is beating in my throat, but I do not make a sound.
"Enjoy your stay while you can" he continues. "But try one to hurt one of us, and you're dead. I'll put a bullet in your head before you know it. Stay away from us."
The mystery man then steps away from me, and leaves. I keep staring at the doorway for a couple of seconds, not knowing what to do. Someone's just threatened to kill me.
I let myself fall back on the mattress, and take a deep breath. He's gone now. He's not here anymore. But don't talk to any of the persons here, don't touch them, don't do anything. Or you're dead.
Whoever this girl I pretend to be was, she seemed to be very nasty towards these people.
I haven't seen this man before, and I'm too scared to find out.