Vinnie laughs when Rick stands on top of the table. Rick slightly grins at him, but then his face gets a serious expression.
"Daryl, Hershel and I will go and meet the Governor" he says, and there is tension in his voice. "We don't know how long this will take, and what will come out of it. What I ask you guys to do in the main time, is just stay put. If we do not return before sundown…"
He doesn't finish his sentence, because we all know what we have to do when they don't return; get the fuck out of here.
Vinnie grabs my hand, and buries his face into my arm. I look down at him, and rub his head.
"It's going to be OK, mate" I assure him, wishing it was true. But I can't say that for sure.
Rick puts both his feet were on the ground, and the rest of the group walks over to him and Daryl and Hershel to say goodbye. It could be the last time we would see them, or not. This Governor is a dangerous man, you never know if he'll keep his word or not.
I shake hands with Rick.
"Take good care of your brother" he says, and I nod. He then moves closer, and whispers something else. "And stay away from Vicky."
Before I can go against it, Carol puts her arms around Rick's neck and hugs him. I blink with my eyes, and step back. Vinnie gives Daryl a shy hand, and tells him something that makes the redneck lift his eyebrows. Vinnie giggles and runs away from him, back to me.
"What did you say?" I ask, and Vinnie smiles mysteriously.
"I told him that I thought he was not so mean as I thought he was."
"That's all?" I ask surprised. Daryl seems to think it's a huge deal. He leans against the car, and stares into nothing.
"Yup" Vinnie says. Rick and Hershel get into the car, and Carl runs to the gate to open it for them. They drive out, and disappear between the trees.
The remaining group members and us are all standing close to the fence, as the door to the cellblock opens. I look over my shoulder and smile. It's Vicky. Rick told me to stay away from her, but she's coming to us now…
"They're gone already?" she asks me. I nod.
"It's almost noon. You've kinda overslept."
"I guess so" she yawns. She scratches at the back of her neck, and I notice some small wounds on her knuckles.
"Did you hurt yourself?" I ask, stepping towards her. She quickly shakes her head, looking at the others who frown at her. Only Carol tries to grab her arm to take a look at her hand. She dodges the attempts, and shrugs.
"It's nothing, I feel on my knees, and scraped my hand over the wall. Nothing serious."
Maggie, Beth, and Glenn make their way back to the cellblock, and only me, Vinnie and Carol stand here. Merle is standing a little further in the shadow, and Michonne didn't come out this morning at all.
"C'mon, let me see" tries, but Vicky steps away from her, and shakes her head. I see she's uncomfortable with it, so I lay my hand on Carol's shoulder to stop her.
"If she says she's OK, she is" I say to the short haired woman, and Vicky smiles gratefully at me. That's what I'm doing it for. Carol looks at me, and glances quickly at Vicky.
"OK" she says slowly. "But if you need anything, you know where to find me."
She too leaves and only me, Vinnie and Vicky are still on the courtyard. Vicky looks at me from under her red hair.
"You're welcome" I say, "how are you feeling?"
"I'm fine" she says, hiding her hands behind her back. "I slept all night, with no nightmares or anything."
Vicky nods, but then turns her head slightly. "Why was I in the other cellblock? Is it because….you don't trust me."
"I do. I mean, I trust you. It's just that….well, you have a past here. And a name." I don't know how I'm supposed to say it nicely. I guess there's no other way.
Suddenly, Vinnie lets go of my hand, and steps forward. "Daryl said you used us as toys."
Vicky blinks with her eyes, shocked. "O my god…"
"Hey, man, that's rude" I say to my little brother, grabbing him by the shoulders. "Go inside, draw something or whatever."
"But it's true!" Vinnie tries, looking up at me. I look angrily at him, and he shuts his mouth.
"Do as I tell you, kay?"
He looks at the ground, and shakes his head. I give him a last pat on the shoulder, before he runs inside.
"I'm sorry about that" I say to Vicky, who's blinking her eye multiple times. I step closer, taking one her hands in mine. "Hey, you OK?"
She smiles, and sniffs her nose. "Yeah, it's just…I keep hearing what a terrible person I was before."
"Hey," I say, lifting her chin up. "You weren't a terrible person. You were just…trying a little too hard to make everyone happy."
She chuckles without humour. "And you see how that has worked out for me. I've been shot, amnesia and everyone hates me."
"I know, you don't" she cuts me off with a smile. She squeezes in my hand. "I swear, I would never use you as a… 'toy'. Not now, at least."
"Great" I say with a chuckle. "I'll tell Vinnie."
Vicky rubs in her eyes with her other hand, and sighs. "So, enough tears for the day. Are you…doing anything, this afternoon?"
"I just gotta keep my eye on Vinnie, that's all. Why?"
Vicky shrugs mysteriously. "Thought we could hang out, or something. Like normal people our age would do."
I look at the ground, my cheeks feeling warm again. "Were do you wanna go? It's not like there are a lot of places to…. 'meet'."
"You know this place better than I do. There must be some office or something…"
"I'll figure something out."
Vicky bites her lip, and lets go of my hand. "Cool. See you later."
She then turns around, and leaves me at the courtyard, under her spell.
The first thing I notice when I walk into the building, is the cut above the Governor's good eye. Not to mention the huge bruise on his cheek, dark purple and blue. I stare at the man, the man who killed one of the best friends of my wife, who terrorised us. Here he is, standing in front of me, all beaten up.
I have my gun in my hand, and have already pulled the safety down. The Governor smiles, a terrifying fake smile. He holds up his hands, to show me he is unarmed, even though I can see a gun at his belt. When I don't respond to his smile, it fades away just as quickly as it came. He lowers his arms, and looks at me with his one good eye.
"We have a lot to talk about" he says, his voice sounding a lot different than I would think at first sight of him.
"No we don't" I say. I think it's best to get just straight to the point. "You attacked us. I think things are pretty clear."
The Governor just looks at me with no emotion showing. "I was trying to make things clear. I could've killed you all. I didn't."
"And here we are" I say, with a quick glance around. Did he really come alone?
He suddenly moves his hand to his belt, and I hold up my gun. I aim for his head as I walk forward. He holds up his arms and smiles amused.
"I'm just going to remove my belt" he says calmly. "If we're gonna negotiate, I expect you to do the same."
I slightly narrow my eyes, and he snorts.
"May I?" he asks dramatically. I remove my finger from the trigger, but keep my gun in the same place. The man removes his belt, and holds it in front of him, as if he wants to show me. He turns his back on me to hang it up at a pole, and I quickly glance around. I see Daryl standing at a window. He lifts his eyebrows questionably, and I slightly nod towards the back. He nods in return, and disappears.
The Governor turns to me again, and looks at the barrel of my gun. "Now you."
I slowly put my gun back in the holder at my belt, but nothing more. I would be an idiot to just put my weapon away. I'm sure he must have another somewhere in this place.
He shrugs at the sight. "Suit yourself. Now, let's talk."
He sits down at the table, making himself comfortable. He points at the other chair. I slowly sit down, not losing sight of the Governor.
"You've got something on your face" I say, pointing at my own cheek. The Governor softly touches his bruise, and smiles.
"Had some disagreements back there, in Woodbury" he waves it off. "Can't make everyone happy."
I return his fake smile, with a lot of hatred. "You don't have to play innocent. We know about your little spy."
The Governor keeps his smile up, and tries to act like he doesn't care. But I see a little change in his eyes. I mean eye. A sign that he needs to choose his words carefully.
"And, how's she been?"
I shrug, playing along. "Quite good, actually. We almost thought she went crazy for real this time, with making an alliance with you. Turns out she actually has amnesia."
The Governor ticks with his fingers on the table. "It's a strange world nowadays. One day you're happily walking around, waving your red hair all over the place, next thing you know, you've been shot by your own friends and fell off a cliff, and beg your enemy for help."
I snort, shaking my head. I don't believe any of this. "That's your version of the story. But I don't think Vicky just 'fell off' the cliff."
The Governor narrows his one eye. "What are you suggesting?"
"Oh, you know what I'm suggesting" I sneer, getting real sick of his innocent plays. The man only lifts his shoulders with a grin of lies.
"If you say so. You probably think I got something to do with the cliff-thing. But you know what I like to know? Who's the one who shot her? Was it you? Or one of your pals?"
I scrape my teeth over one another. I don't feel like telling this asshole my son shot one of our own. "She was a danger to our group. We didn't have a choice."
"Apparently she's not a danger anymore," the Governor smiles, scratching under his chin. "I mean, you've taken her in, and she's still alive…"
I let my hand lean on my belt, close to my gun. This is going to be a long day.
Everyone seems very angry. Maggie, Glenn and Beth look very serious. They're all busy with guns, and bullets. Dan says it's called ammo if there are more of them. Or something like that.
Michonne is here too, but it's not exceptional that she looks serious, because she always looks serious. I don't think I've ever seen her any different.
And Merle is here too. But he's not doing anything with the guns. All he does, is stand in the doorway, leaning with his good arm against it and watching. Me and him are the only ones not helping. I'm not helping because Dan doesn't allow me to touch such weapons, but I think Merle's not helping because he's lazy. Daryl is not like him very much.
Daniel comes back from the cellblock, with even more guns. One of them was from my mom's.
"Here" he says to Glenn. "This is all we have. We'll do anything to help you guys out."
Glenn gives him a pat on his back and takes the guns. "Thanks."
They continue this sorting for a while, then Merle sighs. First, I thought he did that because he was tired. But then he starts complaining.
"What we should do, is load all these weapons into a truck, and pay the Governor a little visit." Everyone turns his head to him, and they all look even more angry. "We know where he is, right?"
"We told Rick and Daryl that we would stay put" Michonne says with her always serious face.
"I've changed my mind, sweetheart" Merle says.
"No" Glenn says, and he looks angry too. "We're not just going over there and kill him. There are a thousand things that can go wrong."
"And they will, if we don't do something." I suddenly get a little scared when Merle says that. The Governor is indeed a very mean man.
"We told my dad we would stay put" Carl says. He's been walking around the whole time, but I couldn't see if he was looking angry too because of his hat. But now I can see it, and he's not looking that angry. Just a little tired.
"I'm sorry, kid, but your dad's head could be on a spike real soon" Merle says, and I look at Daniel.
"He really does that?" I ask. Dan smiles at me and shakes his head.
"Of course not." While he says it, he glances angrily at Merle. Carl storms out of the cellblock without saying a word. Maggie looks angrily at Merle.
"Don't say that to him."
Merle shrugs, as if he doesn't care. Glenn looks at where Carl left, and then at Merle.
"We stay put. We're not going anywhere. It's final."
Then everyone is silent again, busy with the guns. I sit on one of the tables, and look at Merle. I really want to ask him more about the Governor, but I don't think Daniel allows me. I think he'll just get pissed at me for asking things ask.
"This is bullshit" I say, and I spit on the ground. I look at the puppets of the Governor, wishing I could just plant an arrow in both their heads.
"You'll get your time to cut their throats soon enough" Hershel says with a sigh. I lean with my elbow on the roof of the car, while the old man is still sitting behind the wheel, with the door opened. He has a bible on his lap, reading some passage. He must've found it in one of the cells.
Hershel probably feels that I'm looking at him, because he glances over his shoulder. "I wouldn't catch you for a reader, Daryl."
"Nah, jus' like to see the pictures" I say with a slight smile. Hershel chuckles.
"Well, I guess I brought the wrong edition." He closes the book, and puts it away. "Wasn't in the mood to read anyway."
"Yah don'…happen to come across some other books?" I ask. Hershel turns the end of his white moustache between the tips of this fingers.
"Looking for anything special?"
"Guess you could say that" I say with a glance at the other car. Can't let them out of my sight.
"I found some more books of God, but without illustrations, I'm afraid."
"That's not the kind of genre I'm into at the moment." I guess I'll have to explain the whole story, instead of being this mysterious. "I'm talking about a journal."
Hershel nods understandable. "You think he brought it with him?"
"Could be, could be not. If I was him, I probably would carry it around. Especially since it's got more value now. Can't take the risk of it being stolen back home."
Hershel glances over to the other car. "You think it's in there?"
"Only one way to find out. We just need to let them both let their guard done. And I think I know how."
I nod over to the building where Rick and the Governor are talking, and not long ago, Andrea joined them. Now, she's walking back. I see the guy with a spencer and glasses quickly sit up, as a dog who's seeing his boss again after being tied up to wait outside the supermarket.
They both sit down on a bench, with their backs turned to the car. I glance at Hershel. "That's one."
"What about the other?" Hershel asks. I step away from the car, holding my crossbow with both my hands.
"Leave that up to me" I say, while walking away from the cars, towards two large barrels. I thought I had seen some walkers wandering around here. I quickly look over my shoulder, then kneel down to grab a stone. I see a long shadow appear on the grass, and a second later a walker comes stumbling out. It hasn't noticed me yet, until I throw the stone against his head.
He turns around slowly, and growls. Others, attracted by the sound, make their way over here. With a soft whistle, one of my arrows plants itself in the skull.
I run over to the corpse to retrieve it, and I hear footsteps behind me. I grin. My plan is working. The other guy, the tougher one, smashes the skull of a walker with a baseball bat, and continues with another pair nearing.
I aim and another undead creep collapses.
"How the hell did they get here so fast?" baseball-guy asks.
"I dunno, saw a couple sneakin' around" I pretend to know of nothing. "Thought I'd better check it out."
We continue this mass killing, until there are about fifteen bodies around us. We both catch our breath, wiping the sweat of our faces. I then walk around the pile of corpses, pulling out the arrows I can still use.
What I don't see, is a walker sneaking up behind the Governor's latino guy. I hear it coming, earlier than him. Before he can swing his scumbag baseball bat around, I throw a knife into the skull.
The guy turns around, and seems impressed. I shrug simply, kinda like a 'you're welcome'.
I kneel down near one of the corpses, because I see something sticking out of a pocket. "Look what he got on him."
I hold up some cigarettes, and offer him one. The guy shakes his head. "No, I'm good. Not my brand."
"Douchebag" I mumble, as I light myself a cigarette. I quickly glance between the large barrels, hoping I bought Hershel enough time.
I slowly swing Judy from the right to the left, hoping that she'll stop crying at some point. Nothing's working. No wonder, no one can stay calm if you keep on hearing a discussion over and over again. It's all the same; Merle wants to go to Woodbury, Glenn wants to stay put. Michonne first agreed with Glenn, but is now standing in between. Maggie, of course, goes along with Glenn. Merle's kinda on his own.
"Shh…I'm sure they'll stop soon" I whisper to Judy. I wish Carol was here. She's been keeping watch, along with Carl. Can't be too careful these days.
Suddenly, someone clears her throat. I look up, and see Vicky standing in the doorway of the cell. She looks nervous for some reason. "May I…come in?"
I blink with my eyes. I don't know what to do. I don't want to be mean, but I also don't want her here. I mean, she's dangerous. She almost killed me once. OK, maybe that was a little my fault, but still not nice of her. And she was a danger to the group, before she got amnesia. But now she's just a helpless girl.
I'm in this dilemma, and all the time I don't say anything. Vicky looks at the ground, and nods sadly. "OK, I understand."
Now I feel bad. I don't want her to think I hate her, which I don't. I just need to get used to her again, like in the beginning.
"Wait" I say, and she looks over her shoulder. I remove some clothes from the chair and point at it. "You can sit here if you want."
Her face brightens a little, and she sits down gratefully. "Thanks. I know this must be….strange. I mean, I don't know you, but you know me. Better than I know myself."
I try to focus on getting Judy to calm down, and not on the crazy girl sitting just a foot away from me. "Yeah, you did some crazy things back in the day."
Vicky pulls on of her knees up to her chest, and rests her chin on top. "Like…what?"
I lay Judy down on the bed, and give her a soft pat on the belly. "Well, you once put on a whole show for us. It was really….different. You did some playback-thing, like you pretend to sing."
"Oh God" Vicky sighs embarrassed. "Which song?"
I look at her, for the first time since she got back. She really looks different. She doesn't have that weird glance in her eyes that make you think she has the flu, or the terrifying smile on her face, and her voice doesn't sound like an eight-year-olds.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" I say, and she widens her eyes.
"The Queen-song?! Heavens….that must've been terrible for you!"
I rub Judy over her soft hair. "A little. But you tried to do the right thing."
I look her in the eyes again, and this time, I smile. "You tried to make us laugh. Didn't work out so well. Everyone was ….overwhelmed."
"That doesn't sound very good" Vicky says, while she softly touches the wound on her head. It seems to be healing very well. I'm secretly hoping her memory isn't healing like the wound. I'm starting to like this Vicky more than the first.
"How about this? You once tried to kill me."
"What?!" Vicky almost shouts, and jumps up from the chair. "I am so, so sorry for that. How can I make it up to you."
"Well, you kinda already did" I say, feeling a tough memory coming up. "After that show, you brought us to some room. It kinda looked like a gallery, for art. In that room, there were all kinds of drawings and sketches of the family we'd lost. I kinda was reunited with my boyfriend that day. None of us knew how you'd pulled it off, because you didn't even knew all of the people, but you still managed to make a portrait that looked like a picture."
Vicky sits down on the chair again, blinking her eyes. "I really did that? Wow…"
I take Judy on my lap again. She still softly sobbing, poor thing. The argument in the front is still going on. I glance towards the gate, and sigh angrily.
"Why won't they stop?"
Vicky follows my eyes. "Is that why the baby's crying?"
"I think it is."
"You should do something."
I frown. I said I started to like this Vicky, and I mean that. But I don't like it when people tell me what to do. When Vicky sees my face, she quickly apologizes.
"What I mean, is that they'll listen to you. I wish I could help, but they won't listen to me. I mean, I'm the dangerous psycho with amnesia. You're a real member of the group here. The brown haired girl is family of yours, right? You got the same eyes."
I smile, and nod. "Half-sister, to be exactly. Same dad. But what am I supposed to do? If I start shouting, Judy will only get more upset."
"You have to get their attention to make them stop" Vicky says, while she leans forward, as if we're planning an operation. "And you're right about shouting; that won't help. You need something louder, like….a gun."