"This is the place?" Vicky asks as we walk into the office. I nod, a little proud of myself for cleaning this mess up.
Vicky runs with her fingers over the desk. "Doesn't look that bad."
I fake a little smile. Well, all that stress must've been for nothing. "So…what do you wanna do?"
Vicky sits down on top of the desk. "I…I need to talk to you. About something."
I close the door of the office with a thud, and lean with my back against the wall. "Is there something wrong?"
"No, I mean, yes, I mean no, maybe" she stutters, a little unsure of herself. She quickly apologizes, and takes a deep breath. "I want to leave this place."
"What?" I didn't see that one coming. "Why?"
Vicky scrapes her nails over the wood. "There's nothing left here for me. Everyone, except you and Carol, and the old man whom I forgot his name of, hates me. I'm not wanted here. This place was my home once, but now it's just another place I don't know. I have to find my own refuge somewhere else. I'll leave as soon as I've fully recovered."
I walk towards her and take her hands in mine. "Can't you wait a little longer? Till you've got your memory back? You just said it yourself, this place once was your home."
"We've already tried that" Vicky says with a sad smile. "And I ended up freaking out at the sight of…."
She doesn't finish her sentence, but bows her head. I try to look into her eyes. "The sight of what? What did you see when we were in our cellblock?"
"Nothing, it was nothing…"
I let go of her hands kneel down, so that I can look at her face, which is hiding under her red hair. "Tell me."
Vicky looks up the ceiling, and I see she's having trouble facing me. "Before I came here, I met another man. His name is Peter. He told me a bunch of lies, about you guys and about me. I believed him at first, but when I entered that cellblock….I saw something which told me the truth. I met that man the same evening, and I told him that I knew. I kicked him in his balls, gave him a fist in the face and told him his Nick Fury-costume was a failure…"
"Nick Fury?" I chuckle. "From the comics? With the eye patch?"
Vicky finally looks me in the eyes, and nods with a smile. "Yeah. Peter had an eye patch."
The smile I have on my face, slowly disappears, when I start realizing something. Vicky looks shocked at my face. "What's wrong?"
I stand up. "This… 'Peter'….did he happen to have…some sort of nickname?"
Vicky frowns, and slowly nods. "He does. People call him….the Mayor or something…"
"The Governor?" I ask, my voice trembling.
"Yes. You know him?"
I turn my face away from her, feeling very cold all the sudden. "O yes I do. He killed my mother."
I can only hear her gasp, and I can only feel her hands on my shoulders. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know…"
I nod. "How can you know? You can't even remember what colour your old shoes were."
The hands on my shoulders are being pulled back. Vicky's face shows hurt when I look at her, and I feel stupid. "I'm sorry. I don't want to be mean."
"You're just…upset. I get it." Vicky puts some of her red hair behind her ear, and bites her lip. "But what I wanted to talk to you about is….I wanted to ask you if you would want…to come…with me?"
Her voice goes softer and softer towards the end, but I still can feel the importance of the words. She's asking me a big thing. I blink with my eyes.
"Vicky, I…I don't know. Wait, I can't. I have Vinnie."
"But we can go after the Governor, together, and take revenge on him!" Vicky says, and I have to admit; it sounds tempting. But I shake my head after thinking it through.
"No, no, I can't. I can't leave him. I'm all the family he has…"
"But I need you" Vicky says, and she steps closer to me, looking me in the eyes. She has me caged. I can't look away. "You're my only friend."
"I'm sorry Vicky, but I…." I can't find any more words, still under the spell of her eyes. She moves her face a little closer to me, and before I know it, she has planted her lips on mine.
Energy is flowing through me by the soft touch of her lips, and for a moment, I'm frozen. A warm feeling crawls of my chest, and I can't stop it. Vicky lays her arms around my neck, and I lay my hands on her hips. The warm feeling is taking over everything. I try to resist, but in the end, I give up. I close my eyes, and just enjoy the moment.
I don't know how long it takes for a person to realize that what they are doing is wrong. Like when you're about to pump the gas pedal, when the light's already turning orange, and you still have a long way to go. When you're pretty much exploding, but still want another candy and decide to reach out with your obese arm to grab it. When you're kissing the girl of your dreams, when you know she's trying to seduce you to leave your family and friends to go with her.
That's when I open my eyes, and see her pretty face close to mine. I remove my hands from her hips, and tell them to push her away from me. Vicky stumbles back, blinking her eyes confused. I take a deep breath, and realize what I'm doing.
"Shit" is the first thing I manage to say. "Shit!"
"What's wrong?" Vicky asks, already stepping towards me again. I hold up my hand to stop her.
Vicky looks hurt. "I'm sorry, I thought you felt the same…"
"I do, but…." I quickly say, but I don't want to give her any false hope. "You're trying to convince me to come with you. But you know I can't . I told you."
Vicky smiles. God, she's pretty. "Than just see this as a goodbye-kiss."
I shake my head. "No, you don't understand. I don't understand."
I run with my hands through my hair. My mind is everywhere right now. I liked her kissing me, I liked to kiss her back. But I'm not kissing the girl I like. Wait, that doesn't make any sense. I'm in love with this girl, right? The last time I checked, I was. Very much. I'm supposed to be in love with her. But at the same time, I seem not to be.
I look up at her, into her eyes. Then, I know it.
"I fell in love with you, once. I was very much in love, I still am. But this girl I fell in love with, isn't here right now. I fell in love with a girl who had a different opinion about the world as it is right now. She always tried to do the things she liked, no matter what other people thought of her. She just went her own way. She wasn't scared of anything. She didn't feel the same about me, I think. She just saw me as a friend. She didn't fall in love with me because I was the only male person, beside Hershel, who was nice to her."
Vicky gets very pale all of the sudden. She opens her mouth, and shuts it, not knowing what to say. She steps back, and I finally drop my arm, which tried to stop her all this time. We look at each other, both confused and progressing the words just spoken.
From outside, we both hear the sound of a motorcycle, and the softer engine of the green Hyundai. Vicky is the first one to slightly move her head towards the window.
"They're back" she says softly, looking at the ground. I nod.
"Let's go check it out."
I turn my back on her as quickly as I can, and almost run through the hall, to the C-block, where Rick, Daryl and Hershel are just entering.
I give Carol a nod, letting her know I'm alright. She smiles relieved. There's this strange, but strong bond between us I can't really describe. Let's just say I think it would suck if she died.
The group's gathered around in half a circle around Rick, who's walking into a cell, and comes back with a rifle. Even Vicky dares to show up, still looking around with big scared eyes. I glance at Hershel. It sucks that we didn't find the diary.
Rick clears his throat, and all the pairs of eyes look worried at him. Even Hershel and me don't t know what happened in there. Rick's been all silent through the ride home.
Merle tries to sign to me, asking me what's the deal. I shrug saying 'I dunno'. Merle shakes his head disappointed, at looks at Rick, like he's some kind of priest about to say a prayer. OK, maybe a priest isn't really the best description, but whatever. Let's just say we all want to know what Rick has to say.
"So, I met this Governor" he starts, and I notice Daniel giving Vicky a quick look. "I sat down with him, for a quite a while."
"Just the two of yah?" Merle asks, and Rick nods. "Should've got 'm when you had the chance, bro."
Merle walks past Glenn and Maggie, who both throw him an angry look. I quietly pray Merle's not been a dick to them, like always. Seeing Glenn's face, tells me that's not the case. Well, shit.
"He wants the prison" Rick continues, making Merle turn around. "He wants us gone. Dead. He wants us dead."
I narrow my eyes. It looks as if he tries to correct himself. Carol looks at me, asking me if he's telling the truth. How would I know? I'm hearing this for the first time too.
"I won't let that happen. We're going to war." With that said, Rick walks past me, out of the cellblock. An uncomfortable silence follows, with everyone looking at each other for answers. What are we supposed to do now?
I find my brother's eyes. You in? I ask quietly. He nods. Sure, bro. Whatever.
Hershel looks at me, and points with his eyes to the direction Rick just left in. I nod, and we both start walking after him. On my way, Carol grabs my arm. When I turn to face her, I expect light eyes full of fear. But what I see, is bravery. She's not asking for my help, she's offering hers to mine.
I can only nod, and she smiles as she lets go.
Hershel and I walk onto the courtyard, where Rick is standing near the fence. He's lost in his own thoughts, and I always hate to pull him out of there.
"Rick" Hershel says, after signing to let me to let him do the talking. Rick slowly looks up, and nods as a greeting.
Again, I have the feeling there is more to this whole conversation and ultimatum thing than that he's telling us. I look at Hershel, who tries to put this thought in words.
"We'd like to have a word" he starts off.
"Sure" Rick says, and I know he feels it coming.
"Daryl and I are both not convinced" Hershel says, "we'd like to know what you're not telling us."
Rick scrapes something of the ground with the tip of his shoe. Chewing gum or something. Just to not have to look us in the eyes. "He wants Michonne. Tomorrow, by noon."
Hershel and I look at each other. Being honest; I did not expect some sort of pervert behind the eye patch. Must be something stupid like revenge or such.
"You think this is the right thing to do?" Hershel asks, making it sound like it's the opposite, which we both think it is.
"It's the only way" Rick says, now looking us in the eyes. "No one else knows."
"Are you gonna tell them?" I ask.
"Not until after" he says, and I can see it's hard on him. "It has to be today, it has to be quiet."
"You got a plan?" I ask, receiving an angry look of Hershel.
"Tell her we need to talk, away from the others" Rick says, stepping closer. I can look at Hershel over his shoulder, and I see him shaking his head.
"It just ain't honest, man" I say to Rick.
"No, it isn't" Hershel says, walking, or hopping, away from us. I know he doesn't like it.
"If we do this" Rick says, trying to convince me, "we avoid a fight. No one has to die."
The thought of Carol passes my mind. Little Asskicker. Vinnie. Glenn. Maggie. Beth. Even Vicky, man.
"OK" I say, not happy with my choice. But Rick already nods approving.
"We'll need someone else" he says, and I realize he's talking about my brother. I nod. Merle, the judas of this prison, the right man to do the job.
"I'll go talk to him" I say, but he shakes his head.
"No, I'll do it."
"Then I'll go with you" I offer, knowing what a dick my brother can be.
"No, it has to be me."
Before I can say anything else, he's already turned his back on me and is walking away. I look at the ground, feeling stupid. I'm not good at this whole making the right decisions and all. That's why Rick's the leader, and not me. Thank god. I can't bare only Carol looking at me for answers. Can't imagine how tough Rick's life must be, with every little shit with teary eyes asking him what to do.
I lean with my back against the fence, searching through my pocket. I find the remaining pack of cigarettes, and the ugly lighter from a thousand years ago. Or something.
I light myself one, and inhale deeply. This shit is getting crazier and crazier every day.
For the first time in weeks, Carol is taking care of Judy again. Just for today. She found me in the toilet, shaking all over my body. I begged her not to tell anyone that I'm such a pussy, and she promised.
I just can't stand the thought of being…at war. My grandmother often told me stories about when she had to work in on the land, because all the farmers where at the front. And about the hunger, and about her father coming back with only one leg. About the hunger, and everything….
Maggie won't listen to me very much, since she's only hanging out with Glenn again. She told me they were engaged, and I was so happy I cried. I hugged her, and talked about dresses and everything. But after that, she left. Before I even got to tell her what I wanted to tell her.
And there's really no one else who listens to what I say. Except the person whom I was most scared of at first. But after she gave me advice on what to do with the whole fighting thing between Maggie, Glenn and Merle, I started to like her again.
Now, I'm all out here in these halls, just for her. I'd like to talk to Vicky. Or, to be completely honest with myself, just need someone to nod their head every once in a while when I tell my story.
I push the door of the cellblock open, and I hear footsteps coming closer.
"Who's there?" Vicky asks.
"It's me, Beth" I say, holding up my arms, just in case. Vicky smiles at the sight of me, and opens the gate of the cellblock for me.
"Coming to visit me? Well, you're always welcome here."
"Thanks" I say, and I follow Vicky towards one of the cells. I must be honest, her cellblock is a mess. Rick decided to lock her in here at night, just so she won't do anything stupid. I don't know what she's been doing all this time, but it looks like there's been a beast in here. I don't think it's been full moon yet.
"Oh, I'm sorry for all the mess" Vicky says, coming out of the cell with her arms full stuff. She throws it in a corner and runs back.
"What are you doing?" I ask, when she comes back with a large bag.
"I'm packing things" she replies, collecting and putting the stuff in the bag. "Just a few more days, then I'm out of here. You won't have to be bothered by me ever again."
I bite my lip. I was just about to like this new version of her. She looks up at me, and sees my face.
"I'm sorry, Beth, but I'm a bad person. I don't belong here. I almost killed you once."
"But you won't do that now, would you?" I ask. "You said it yourself."
Vicky stands up, scratching behind her neck. "Yes, that's what I said. And I really think you all are good people, and I would hate it if something were to happen to you guys. That's why I have to leave."
I cross my arms over my chest. "The only danger around here, is the Governor. He's the only person that could hurt us right now. We need someone like you to fight against him."
Vicky shakes her head sadly. "The old me was good at fighting. This version of me, is just…useless. I have to find the old me back. As long as I haven't, I'm just…a piece of shit."
I snort at her words, but still feel sad. "I want to thank you for helping me today. I don't think I would've found a way to get my sister and the others quiet, if it wasn't for you."
Vicky shrugs. "Just trying to make up for my mistakes."
"Now, I want to help you" I continue, and Vicky looks up. "You know, when we met you, you were constantly writing in a diary. It was gone when you left, and we didn't find it anywhere. If you can find it, it can help you restore your memory."
Vicky nods slowly. "Yes, maybe…I hope so. But I don't think I'm like…a diary person."
"I thought the same about myself" I say with a wink. Vicky's eyes widen.
"You have a diary?"
"Well, I had" I say, speaking the truth. "But so many things happened, and I just couldn't write it all down. But now, when you're gone too, I probably have no one to talk to."
"So maybe you should start writing again" Vicky says, trying to complete my sentence. I nod.
"Thanks for telling me this" Vicky says, and she really means it. "You're one of the persons around here who truly has the right to hate me, but you're one of the nicest to me. You're a good person. Too good for this world."
I feel honoured, and look at the ground, my cheeks slowly turning red. Before I know it, Vicky has put her arms around my, pulling me into a hug. I freeze for a second, feeling uncomfortable. But after a few seconds, I relax. I feel her cheeks pull up in a smile.
"Merle!" I suddenly hear my brother shout.
"Shit" I mumble to myself, as I throw my stash in the back of the room. I'm in some kind of wood shop, with all kinds of stuff to fix. I've got a rifle and some other shit in the back.
"You down here?" Daryl shouts again. I quickly look around one last time, and try to find a pose that looks normal.
"Merle!" Daryl shouts even louder, before he enters the room. He has his ridiculous crossbow in front of him.
"Hey, little brother!" I say, trying to sound excited.
"What the hell?" he asks, sounding a little upset. He looks around anxiously. Don't know what he's been eating this morning.
"I was just about to run back at yah" I say. Daryl looks around again.
"Watcha doin' back here?"
"Just, uh…looking for some crystal meth" I say, as I move in front of the bag with stuff. Daryl snorts at my words. "Yeah, I know. Shit messed up my life, when everything's going so sweet."
"Have yah talked to Rick yet?" he asks, going back to business.
"O, yeah" I say, remembering my good talk with officer Friendly this afternoon. "I'm in."
Daryl nods approving, but I'm not done.
"But he ain't got the stomach for it" I say. He looks at me. "He's going buckle, you know that, right?"
Daryl simply shrugs. "If he does, he does."
"You want him to?" I ask, playing with his mind a little.
"Whatever he says, goes" baby brother says, sounding like the officer's bitch.
"Do you even have spare balls, little brother? Are they even attached?" I ask, and he avoids my eyes, like he always did as a kid. "Cause if they are, they belong to you."
He shakes his head, turning away from me.
"You used to call people like that sheep. What happened to you?"
"What happened to you?" he asks back, calmly. "With Glenn? Maggie?"
I swallow a lump down my throat. "I've done worse. Y'know, y'all people look at me, like I'm the devil. And now, you wanna do the same thing I did. Snatch somebody up, an' deliver it to the Governor. Yeah, I get it. People kill people to stay alive. Can't do anything 'bout it."
Daryl shakes his head. "You can't do anything without people anymore, man."
I snort at him. "Maybe you people need somebody like me 'round. To do their dirty work. The bad guy. That's it, right?"
Daryl glances at the ground, and then moves closer. "I just want my brother back."
I blink with my eyes, confused. "I'm here, man."
Daryl turns his back on me, and leaves. Shit, man. What the hell. What happened to him in here?
I randomly grab a telephone, and put it in the bag. I'm not thinking clearly. I can't. Daryl's turned into a woman. Seriously. Only women can get me this confused.
I sit down, with my back against the wall. I just want my brother back. That's what he said. That's bullshit. I'm here now. Got one hand less, but I'm alive.
Something tells me my baby brother is trying to tell me something else.
I look at my right, and see the sun through the window. Almost night. Gotta do what I gotta do. Tomorrow , at noon. Gotta make my preparations.
I stand up, knowing what to do. I'm gonna do this, kill that Governor, and get Daryl's brother back.
I hide the bag in one of the closets, and lock it. With the key in my pocket, I walk into one of the dark halls, towards the only proper cellblock that can be locked, other than the one of officer Friendly.
I quickly put out the crane. My bottle's full enough now.
I make my way back to my bag, but I'm stopped by the sight of a man near it. He's leaning against the wall, and one of his arms is really creepy. Reading fairy tales as a kid, he was supposed to have a hook on his hand, but his guy has some large knife at it.
"Cool, uh?" he says, moving it. I can't say anything, and just stand there. The guy laughs. "Yah probably don' remember me, but I'm Merle. An old friend."
I clear my throat, hoping my voice will come back. "I don't really have friends nowadays."
"Well, then I'll be you're first" Merle says, kicking my bag to the ground. "Going somewhere?"
I kneel down to put the water bottle in one of the side pockets. "I'm leaving in a few days. Not that it concerns you."
He chuckles. "No, I get it. You're not the only person they hate around here."
I look up, and I see that he's not joking. He's bloody serious.
"Yeah, Victoria. We share the same fate. Both did some shit before, and now we have to pay the price."
I look at him for a sec, then stand up. "What did you do?"
Merle shrugs. "Just, kidnapped two of them, abused the guy, almost killed another, was a dick in the past. You might say I've already been punished by being left on a rooftop in Atlanta by these people, but they think there's a lot more to do to me."
I lift my eyebrows, not understanding a word. He waves his knife arm around. "Never mind, long story. Anyway, what I wanted to tell you, is this; from all these people, I've known you the longest."
I cross my arms. "Are you from San Francisco?"
He chuckles again, and shakes his head. "No, still from the south, sweetheart. You've lived at your dad's for a while, in Atlanta. You bought some stuff from a friend, got into trouble once in a while, and we got to know each other."
I frown. "I don't really see a girl my age hang out with a guy like you."
He shrugs. "I don't really see dead people walking around….oh, wait."
I roll with my eyes, and Merle laughs at his own joke. "See what I'm gettin' at?"
"What do you want?" I ask, getting a little tired of him. Merle scrapes with his knife at the wall.
"I'm plannin' on savin' these fuckers, from a kind of evil called 'the Governor'" he says. "I suppose you're familiar with this person?"
I nod and sigh. "Just get to the point. You want to save them, how?"
His eyes twinkle. "So, you're in? Good. I want to save these people, by giving the Governor something he wants. Or rather, someone."
"And you need my help or something?" I ask, and he nods. "Why would you want my help? I can't do shit."
Merle steps away from the wall, and points his knife arm at me. "You can do more than you think. Once you know who you are, you can help me get rid of this man."
"Yeah, I don't really see that happening" I say, already turning my back on him. But a chuckle stops me, telling there is more.
"He has your diary, you know" he says, and I freeze. "I can help you get it back. And everyone will be happy and save and everything."