I close the big book, and the sound echoes through the empty cellblock. It sounds almost unreal, not having people around now. At the moment, a lot of people are helping to build the big cafeteria on the courtyard. They're all working hard to make some sort of huge tent with a bar and tables. It's starting to look quite good, if I may say. And it's wonderful to see all the companionship between the two groups of people, and amazing to see new friendships being born and blossom up. And another good thing about this, is that I finally have some alone time to do my studies. Not for the Bible, nor medicine. My number one priority now, is to farm. We need to seed, and grow our own food. One day, we won't have the luxury of canned food anymore. We'll have to hunt down, create, grow our own food. I want to be prepared for that time as much as possible. For my girls.
As I am lost in my own thoughts, soft footsteps are entering the cellblock. First, I just hear them in the background, as a noise that doesn't really deserve my attention. Then, when they're getting closer, I sit up straight, and peek my head out of the cell. I widen my eyes.
"Well, hello, Vicky!" I say, and Vicky smiles. Her clothes are still clean, so she hasn't been out yet. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
She shrugs. "I was just…I don't know. It seemed quiet here, and I thought I could come here without being bothered by other people. No offence, though. I don't mind you. You're nice."
"As I try to be" I say, and point at the chair in my cell. "Would you like to sit?"
Vicky looks at the chair, as if she's hesitating. Perhaps she still is planning on going out. I look at her small face, with her skin pulled over the skull as a thin paper. Her eyes seem even bigger now, the dark circles around her eyes making a big contrast with the feverous blue.
I can't let her go out like this. Not again. She is slowly killing herself. I can't just sit here and do nothing.
"I'd like to talk with you about something" I say, before Vicky can deny my offer. "It's about the wedding. If you know what I'm-"
"Of course I do!" She almost jumps in the air, and sits down on the chair as if she dragged to it by a magnet. "Lemme guess; they need a wedding planner?"
"Well, yes. And since you've been so supportive of their relationship…I think you might be the perfect candidate for this job!"
Vicky nods, and taps her toes on the floor. "Yes! Yes I am! I know exactly what to do! And what we need! A dress, a crown, flowers, heels, jewellery, bridesmaids, a cake, a guy in a dress who talks a lot, a suit for the brome, winging men, rings, a dj, an amazing location, and a big afterparty!"
I grin, seeing her all excited. I hope she forgets about what she was planning on doing before. "I can hear that I've made the right choice by asking you."
"You sure did! I'd love to do this for you guys and make everything-" she then stops talking. Her voice stops abruptly, quitting her sentence in the middle. Her eyes become glassy, and her mouth shuts slowly. She folds her hands into fists, squeezing her fingers together. She bites her lip, as she stares at something in front of me. She is not looking at me. I know that for sure. It is something I can't see. Something that's laying on the ground that is so horrible only she can see it.
"What is it?" I ask, but Vicky doesn't answer. Her eyebrows make a surprised frown on her forehead, as a low grunting starts coming from down her throat. I softly touch her shoulder. Still no response. "Who is it? Who do you see?"
Vicky grunts again, but this time, I can hear tones and phrases. As if she's trying to say a name.
I take one of her fists in my hands. It feels very cold, as if she's holding a piece of ice in it. I look at her face, waiting patiently till it turns back to the sweet one that wants to help me. I wait for some time, but nothing happens.
"Vicky?" I try again. She blinks her eyes quickly, but the cloudy glance doesn't disappear. It stays there. Her mouth opens again, and she takes a soft breath. I rub my thumb over her fist. "Can you hear me?"
"Yes" she whispers, and then she clears her throat. She keeps staring at the ground, but her hands relax.
"Do you need something?" I ask. "Water? Something to eat?"
"No" she says clearly, in a monotone voice. "I have to leave now."
"What?" I ask, but she abruptly stands up, still looking at that one spot on the ground.
"I am very sorry, Hershel, but I am afraid I cannot help you in this matter" she says, pronouncing every word very clearly, as if she's talking to someone who doesn't speak proper English. "I will see you some other time."
She turns around, and walks away from the cell. I blink confused, and then grab my crutches. I stand up, hopping towards the exit of the cell. I peek my head around the corner, seeing her disappear out of the cellblock.
"Well, then" I mumble to myself, glancing at the book on my bed. "Back to studying."
It's sunny as I walk onto the courtyard. There are children playing by the fences, and elders taking a walk with youngers. There is talking everywhere, and if you imagine the prison not being the background of it all, you'd say this is a village on a normal day.
In all this happiness, there's one person not going along. He's sitting at one of the tables, a little further away from it all. He has his hands fold together, his arms forming a protective circle around a notebook which lays in the middle. Every now and then, he pushes his glasses a little further up his straight pointy nose, because it keeps sliding down. When he has done that, he also flattens his spencer, and checks the amount of pens in his chest pocket.
I take a deep breath, and bite my lip. Should I really do this? I mean, I want to help Vicky, but is this the right way? A shrink? A psychiatrist?
Before I know it, I'm already walking towards the table. Will must've heard me coming, because he turns his head. His face is curled up in a nice smile. "Good morning, Carol. Or should I say…" He glances at his watch. "Oh my, afternoon, already. A good afternoon, then!"
He points at the other bench at the opposite of the table. I lift my eyebrow at his pulse, where a golden watch is ticking the time away. "You don't see that often. A watch that still works."
Will proudly rubs the glass of the small clock with his index finger. "I like to keep track of the time. Someday, it will come in handy."
Will nods. "Yes. The day when we will start the clocks again. I assume that most of the clocks around here have lost their power. They're not working properly. When this is all over, and we can go back to living the way we did, I will restart all the clocks, back to their original time zone."
I nod impressed. "That's an…ambitious idea. I mean, considering the world does go back to normal at once."
"Oh, it will" Will says, sounding very sure about it. "I may be a shrink, but I have a passion for history. These…'walkers', as you like to call them…this is just another plague. There has been a lot of these throughout time, and each time it seemed like it was the end of the world. But it wasn't. The earth kept spinning, and the ones who had enough patience, would see another turn of the seasons. Humanity always found a way to keep growing, to keep evolving. I believe that if we keep going, keep adapting, we'll always see the sun go up and down, each day. All you need, is a little patience."
I can't help but to smile at his words. It sounds so optimistic. It sounds so comforting, I almost believe it. I want to believe it. I want to believe that there will be a new time. But after all I've seen, all the cruelty, I don't know what to believe and what not.
"Patience" I say, repeating the main lesson. "Just a little patience. I wish it was that easy. Most people can't afford a little patience. They've given up hope."
Will nods sadly, pushing his glasses further up his nose again. "And that, dear Carol, is why I am here. I want to help these people. I know I can. And I know you want to. You still have hope, don't you?"
Folding my hands together on the table, I bow my head. "I don't know. I am willing to fight, but believing in an end to this…it sounds like a dream to me."
Will carefully takes my hand. His skin feels soft and clean, not like the most hands I felt nowadays. Those were rough and dirty from all the fighting and killing. Will's hands feel like a man with…patience.
"For now, it is. But believe me; one day, the walker-time will end." He softly pats on my hand, before putting them back on the table, close to his notebook. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to get to the business."
"Yes, of course" I say, straightening my back. Will opens his notebook, and takes one of the pens from his chest pocket. He goes to a page of the notebook that is titled 'Vicky'. There is a list of characteristics as full name, age, physical analysis, mental state, and a lot of words I have never heard of.
"OK" he says, his pen flying above the first gap. "Vicky's full name?"
"As far as I know, it's 'Victoria'. Don't know her last name."
"Seventeen, I think."
"Does she have any family?"
I sigh, and shake my head. "No. Her parents are both dead. Her mother died in a car accident a couple of years ago, and her father in the first days of the outbreak."
Will nods while writing. "Interesting….No siblings?"
"Not that I know of. She never mentioned having one."
"I see…" he mumbles, turning another page to write a small note to himself. "How long have you known her?"
"About…three or four months. I'm not sure. Time flies."
Will grins. "It sure does. What is the first word that comes to mind when you saw her for the first time?"
I think back to the moment Vicky stepped inside the cellblock, with a bag full of vegetables and canned food. "Vulnerable. Hospitality. Lonely."
Will nods again. "Good. OK, how was your first conversation with her?"
I lean with my chin on my hands, thinking back. I think the first time was when Vicky was brought to us wounded, and she woke up and told me she could see Sophia. The memory makes my heart ache, and a shiver runs down my spine. "It was…good. She helped me with a problem I was hoping to solve for a long time."
Will hesitates before writing anything down. "A problem?"
I then realize he wants to know what kind of problem, but I don't feel like telling him about Sophia. "It's sort of a girl-thing."
Will lifts an eyebrow, but it seems enough for him. "OK. Next; when did you realize her mental state wasn't the one of a normal person?"
I play with a loose nail at my finger, digging through my memories. I think it's when I first talked with her. Or the time she came over for dinner. She couldn't stop talking about leprechauns and princesses and all that…
I also remember the day remaining prisoner, Andrew, brought walkers inside the prison. Vicky dragged me and T-dog through the dark halls, singing a sweet song to keep us conscious. I was tired of running, and couldn't go any further. T-dog was gone, he sacrifices himself to save us. Vicky never talked about that, but I think it hurt her deeply.
She put me down softly, and basically locked me up. Whatever happened to her next…it changed her in some ways. It changed me too. There was this voice in the dark, and this warm air that made it feel like there was a person in there with me. The voice of the little girl helped me through it, because of her I stayed alive. I have been thinking about this almost every night. Every night, I tried to go back, and listen to her sweet voice again. But it never comes back. As if she just disappeared. My sweet Sophia…
"…Carol?" Will says my name. I blink, looking into the face of the shrink. He pushes his glasses a little further up his nose as he looks me in the eyes. "Are you alright?"
I nod quickly, and stand up abruptly. "I'm fine. I just need… a moment."
Will smiles a little disappointed. "I see. I think we've done enough for today. Thank you. I've learned a lot more about my new patient."
I smile and nod, not hearing a word he says. I start walking, ignoring every greeting and question being asked. I really need a moment. I go to a different part of the courtyard, a place in the shadows. It's near the broken walls, which makes this place not very crowded. People don't take the risk of running into a walker who might slid through the fences. Which is a ridiculous idea.
I lean with my back against the wall, throwing my head back in my neck. I take deep breaths, listening to my heartbeat.
I open my eyes again, when I hear footsteps. Vicky has her arms crossed over her chest, and her lips in a weird grin.
I quickly go through the notes I made. It's already giving me a better perspective of the strange girl I've been analysing. Carol is the first of many people I'd like to ask some questions. For example; Daryl, the crossbow man, or perhaps Rick. Maybe I can get the kid to talk too. Or the two brothers with the dark hair and light eyes. I saw the oldest one of the two talk to her this week.
I sigh, and stand up. It's still a lovely day, even though there's a cold breeze. Perhaps I could take a walk, before it starts raining. Yes, it will rain today. I can see the dark clouds already forming in the sky, and the smell of water in the air. We might have thirty minutes before the first drops will fall.
With my notebook clenched under my arm, I take a walk to the east side of the prison. There is one watchtower, which is still intact. The other had been set on fire by the Governor. In about fifty years, this prison will be a museum.
I nod politely to a couple of children, playing with a doll. They look up quickly, and smile, before going back to discussing what the princess-doll will do now. It's fascinating to see how children always try to find a way to amuse themselves in horrible times like these. Their minds are always set to keep themselves occupied, so they don't have to think about the things that happen around them.
I keep walking, nodding and greeting most of the people I cross. Here, everybody knows each other. It's almost like a real town. Civilisation still has a chance in this world.
The further I go, the less people I cross. The courtyard is getting smaller and smaller, which tells me I must be nearing the other side of the prison. Long shadows are covering most of the ground, making me rub my arms to stay warm. Perhaps I should go back.
Then, a hand is put on my arm. I turn my head to look whom I crossed paths with, as I feel a fist in my face. I stumble back, my notebook falling on the ground. Next, I feel pain in my stomach, causing me to collapse forward on the ground. A knee to my chin causes me to fall on my back. I cough, the taste of blood in my nose and mouth. I look up to see who my attacker is. I lift an eyebrow in surprise when I see a red haired girl.
She kneels down next to me, with a grin on her face. "That's right. It's Vicky herself. I've heard you've been spying on me, haven't you?"
I try to sit up, but she roughly pushes me back on the ground. "Well?"
I spit out some of the blood in my mouth, trying to clear my throat. "That is…correct. But I want to help you. See, I am a shrink. I help people."
Vicky chuckles. "Oh, I know who you are and what you do. And, if I wasn't clear enough…" she puts her hand around my throat "…I don't need, or want, your help."
She slams my head against the ground, causing my sight to get blurry for a second. I see her standing up, and take a step back. She lifts her foot, as if she's about to take a soccer penalty.
Then, two arms are put around her, dragging her away from me. She starts growling, and kicking, trying to free herself. The man behind her drags her with him, and pushes her against the wall. I recognize the man as Daryl.
"What the hell is wrong with you?!" he shouts at her, pushing her with both his arms against the wall. Vicky spits in his face, and tries to get back to me.
Someone else comes running towards me. At first, I can't see who it is. But when she hunches over me, I see it's Carol.
"O my god…."she gasps, helping me sit up. "O my god, o my god…she said she wanted to talk…"
I blink, and try to lift my arm to pat her on the shoulder. "It's not your fault. It's not…your fault."
Vicky struggles again, trying to free herself. She growls at Daryl, and then turns her head to his left arm. She plants her teeth in his lower arm.
"Ah, shit!" Daryl curses, surprised by the bite. It causes him to loosen his grip on Vicky, and she takes the time to free herself. Daryl manages to put his better arm around her waist before she can touch me. He almost throws her against the wall, and her head slams against the hard stone. Her unconscious body falls to the ground. Daryl looks at his arm, which has a moon shaped wound on it.
"Damn" he says, putting his other hand over it. He looks at Carol. "Get him to Hershel."
Carol nods, as she takes my arm and put it over her shoulders. I try to stand on my own feet, but my head hurts too much. I let Carol drag me into the prison, and I'm already out before my head hits the pillow.
Kicking my foot against the barrel of water, I close my eyes. I wash the blood from my arm. The wound's not deep, but it will still make an ugly ass scar.
I quickly put a cloth over it. I'll let Hershel check it later. I sit down on the ground, leaning with my elbows on my knees. Not far away from me, lays a book. It's not fully written yet. The pages that are, are full of drabbles and handwriting which you can't read properly. Vicky had it with her all the time. I tried to look for it some time ago, hoping it will tell me what's up with her lately.
Now that I finally have it here, I'm almost scared to open it. We thought she was doing great. We thought the psychopath was gone. But what happened just now…
I sigh, and pick up the small book. I know the first pages, the readable ones. The further I go, the blurrier the handwriting gets. There are some passages where she had memory-loss. They're clearly written, and only telling me things I already know.
Then I get to the journals just after Merle's…'passing'. There are several drawings of princesses, princess dresses, walkers, walkers with princess dresses…She describes the days in the prison, but doesn't say anything about her going out in the woods. There's no reference to Carl, or what she might do to him. She does say something about Rick being overly worried, but that's it.
She says something about Will, the shrink she beat up.
If this is really what's been going on in her head, I don't understand shit. There's no hatred to nobody whatsoever. There is nothing about killing people, killing walkers, or anything.
I close the book, and stand up with a sigh. If this thing can't tell me shit, I'll have to ask her myself.
I look around quickly. It's dinner time, most of the folks are inside the prison. Since the cafeteria on the courtyard isn't finished yet, they don't really have a choice.
I sneak into the B-block, a not yet used-cellblock. In one of these cells, I've put Vicky. Temporarily.
When I walk in, she immediately knows it me. Somehow, she knows. Perhaps she smells it.
"Dary-doo! In here!" She has made a weird, creepy doll of her hand. With a pen, she's drawn two eyes on her index-finger. Her thumb forms the lower jaw, and while she talks, it moves up and down. "C'mon over here, and talk to my friend. You may know her, since you were the one who knocked her unconscious not long ago."
I snort, and shake my head. With my arms crossed over my chest, I approach the cell. I've locked the gate with the bars in front of it. Vicky leans with against it, with her arms through the bars, leaning with her chin on the metal.
I have her diary in my back pocket.
"So, wanna tell me what happened out there?" I ask, and she shrugs with a mysterious grin.
"Seems pretty clear to me. I beat the crap outta that dude. What's more to say?"
I narrow my eyes. "What happened to you?"
She chuckles, sounding light headed. "To me? I'm good. Pretty good. Never been better."
I lift an eyebrow. She sounds like she's frickin' stoned. "Really? To me, you look like a person in the middle of an emotional crisis."
Vicky shakes her head. "That is ridiculous. You're going wait too far with that."
She lift her creepy doll-hand, and moves her thumb as she talks in an octave higher than usual. "She's right, Dary-doo! She's doing fine, she's flawless, she's amazing."
Vicky looks at her hand. "Oh, thank you! You're too sweet!"
I sigh, and grab the bars of the gate. "Stop this right now. I'm trying to help here!"
Vicky's smile fades away, and she rolls with her eyes as she drops her arm. "Help, help, help. It's all that I hear these days. Everybody wants to help me. I never asked for help. I don't want it."
I frown at her. "Is that why you beat the crap outta that guy?"
Vicky tries to remove the eyes from her hand. "Manly, yeah." Then, she lifts her head to look at me. "And I'll do the same to the others who try to help me."
I smirk, and step back. "Is that supposed to scare me?"
Vicky turns back to her hand. "Just sayin'. If you try to help me, you're wasting time."
"What does that mean?"
Vicky shakes her head. "It means I'm a loss cost, Daryl. Nobody can help me. I tried to tell you guys, but I guess I hadn't made myself clear yet."
I grind my teeth, looking at the mess this girl is in right now. I hate people who give up. I hate them. I make fists of my hands, and kick against the gate. Vicky looks up spooked, and then giggles.
"That is bullshit!" I say, and I grab her stupid diary. "This thing tells a whole different story. You're not this person you pretend to be. That is fuckin' bullshit."
Vicky grins, her eyes barely open, as if she's suddenly tired. "You couldn't help yourself, could you?"
"Does it matter?!" I grunt, throwing the stupid thing on the ground. Vicky looks at it, not moving her head an inch, only her eyes.
"Vicky" I say, trying to get her attention, "you're not this person. That is bullshit. You've changed, we've all seen it. Yesterday, we had this huge vote about you. Almost everybody wanted you to stay. I voted for you too!"
Vicky's grin fades away, as she keeps staring at her diary. "You've made a huge mistake. I'm too far gone. There's nothing-"
"Shut up" I grunt, not wanting to hear the rest. I storm out of this ridiculous cellblock, my hands still made into fists.