I know it's silly to be nervous. I'm just bringing her lunch.
It's been a while since I've talked to her, and a lot has happened since then. She's a criminal now. OK, maybe not a criminal. But she's being treated like one.
My father doesn't agree with this at all, with Vicky being locked up in a cell. He convinced Rick, who has the keys, to let me bring her lunch today. Not that I asked for it. I know I should be grateful that I'm allowed to see my sort-of-friend. Who scares me a lot. What if she does something crazy again?
Rick did learn from it. From leaving Vicky alone like that. I think his heart still aches from when Carl had been 'kidnapped'. So my dad did tell him to send someone with me. Just in case. Oh, Lord.
So now I'm walking towards the distant cellblock along with my soon to be brother-in-law.
I can see Glenn's not totally OK either. He tries to act tough, but I can see he's afraid of this new Vicky too. He has his fists clinched, a gun hanging at his belt and a knife next to it.
We're both silent, and focused, as if Vicky is gonna jump from behind a corridor or something. I almost jump up when Glenn asks me something.
"What…?" I ask clumsy. Glenn laughs nervously, and scratches at the back of his neck.
"Do you want me to come with you? Inside the cellblock, I mean?"
I bite my lip. The thought of being alone with Vicky is already scary, but asking if I need someone who is capable of knocking her out in the same room makes it even worse. Now that I think about it; I'm not sure whether Glenn can knock Vicky out in her current state.
From what I've heard, she's been going crazy all day. I mean, really, really crazy. Like biting stuff crazy.
"No. I don't think that's necessary" I say, trying to sound brave. Glenn just nods, with a little guilt in his eyes. He's probably thinking what Maggie will do to him if something happens to me.
We stand in front of the entrance of the F-block. Newly secured. Glenn grabs the ring of keys from his pocket, and puts it in the lock. He eyes me.
I sigh. Is this really necessary? It's not like I'm going to play a game of soccer or something. "Yes. Open it."
Glenn nods again, and opens the door with a swing. The cellblock I enter is the same like any other, despite the blood splatters on the floor. From the previous inmates stationed her. It gives me the creeps.
With a plate and a glass I walk inside the cellblock. My hands tremble, and the water almost drops over the edge of the glass.
The cellblock is awfully silent. Glenn clears his throat.
"Just…tell me when you need something" he says carefully. I nod. Please, just…go.
Finally, Glenn closes the door. He's making me nervous with his scared pale face.
I look around the cells, hoping to spot the red haired girl. "Vicky?"
I hear some rumbling from upstairs. I walk towards the staircase, lifting an eyebrow. "Vicky? You up there?"
There is a yawn coming from one of the cells. I look around, and frown even more. All the upper cells are open. The bar gates are all pushed aside. I thought they'd locked her up…did she manage to escape…? …again?
Finally, a figure appears from one of the cells. Standing in the opening, Vicky wipes her hair out of her face. Her eyes look sleepy, but widen when she recognizes me. "Bethy! Hey!"
"Hi…" I respond with a little hesitation. Vicky quickly makes her way down the stairs, which surprises me. From what I've heard, she would jump down from the balcony, or at least make a hand stand before landing on her feet.
Vicky's ridiculous haircut, with one side of the front being shorter than the other, makes her face look even smaller, like she's been having a lack of food. She doesn't notice her lunch in my hands when she stands before me. She lays her hands on my shoulders and smiles. "How're you?"
I blink. "I'm…fine."
"Great!" Her eyes land on the plate and the glass in my hands. "Oh, you brought lunch? Let's sit down somewhere, so you can eat!"
Vicky runs into one of the cells and comes back with two pillows. "Sorry, no chairs in here." She lays the pillows on one of the steps of the staircase. "This'll do nicely, don't you think?"
"Yeah…" I answer, still trying to find out how she broke out of her cell. Vicky grabs my arm and forces me to sit down on one of the pillows. I guess that if I really wanna know, I'll just have to ask. "How did you…get out?"
She shrugs, scratching her hair. "First I tried squeezing through, but that didn't really work. Even after I stopped eating. I did get skinnier, though, but still too fat to fit between the bars."
My eyes widen, and I almost throw the plate with food at her. "Are you out of your mind?! Eat! You can't starve yourself like that!"
Vicky ignores me, and points at the plate. "This is for me? How nice of you!"
I shake my head. "You can't just…stop eating. It's not good for you."
"Don't worry. It's not the first time it happened…" Vicky takes a sip of the water. Before I can lecture her about taking care of herself, she asks something else. "So, how's the trial going?"
I sigh. "It's…chaos. Everybody's nervous. Rick asked a man who used to be in the army to be the judge, and they've been debating about how the trial should go. It's going to be slightly different, since we don't have any real lawyers around. We'll all hear about it tomorrow."
Vicky lifts an eyebrow. "Tomorrow? The trial's tomorrow?"
I nod slowly. "Yeah…I've been marking the days, and tomorrow's the trial."
Vicky's eyes widen. "Oh no! I have nothing to wear!"
Vicky puts down the plate, not having touched any of the food, and stands up. "I need to find some new clothes! If I'm going to be executed, I need to look good." She jumps down the stairs, and spins around. "Ah, damnit, I can't leave! Well, I guess I could, but…No, stupid idea. Or maybe….What if? Could I just sneak out? Of course I could. Nobody would notice if I came back in time…but Beth's already seen me out of my cell, so she'll tell the others…But what if I knock her out? And tie her up? She wouldn't be able to tell anyone if I did…"
I'm getting really nervous with Vicky talking to herself like that. Maybe I should call for Glenn.
Vicky sits down on the ground, her fingers scraping over the ground as she thinks. She says everything out loud.
"No, stupid idea! They'll come look for her, because the get worried when it takes too long to bring me food…and it wouldn't surprise me if they send a huge dude with a big-ass-gun with her. He's probably waiting outside, if something were to happen…And Rick's not that stupid that he'd leave me unguarded. But I made clear that being around me isn't safe for anyone…yet they send the babysitter to bring me lunch…what the hell is he up to? Maybe I should go and ask…what? No, that's stupid. Maybe I should just go. Away from the prison. Wait, no fair. I wanna see that trial of them. I wanna see what happens. They're all gonna die in the end anyway. Yeah, I'm staying. But if I go to that trial, I need to look good…"
She then stops talking, and lifts her head a little. She makes me think of a dog. A dog moves his head when he hears something. It always amazed me how they could hear something out of range for humans.
But Vicky…she turns her head to me, with a weird glare in her eyes. She smiles. "I think you should go. Glenn's about to piss his pants."
I quickly stand up. "You're right. I think he drank too much before we left."
I'm almost afraid of turning my back on her when walking to the exit. I do not reply when she yells goodbye at me. I don't care that she might escape again. I just have to trust her that she won't.
I nod, for the hundredth time. "I am sure."
Carol sighs disappointed. "OK, that means I'm alone in this." She stands up from the bench, ready to leave. But I'm not done.
"Wait, Carol" I say, knowing that these words will force her to sit down. It might seem tricky, but it's the only way. These two words have a lot of power because of the conversation we had before Carol stood up to leave. These two words give her the hope I maybe reconsider her offer. But that's not the case.
"I want to ask you something" I continue, and I see that the hope is already fading. Still, as kind as she is, Carol sits back down again.
"What is it?"
"Why are you doing this?" I ask. It's a simple question I've asked many of my patients, yet all the answers I got where so complicated. There was always a history behind the actions and the decisions they made. It always surprised me. And at some point it also amused me. I liked being surprised.
I know almost everything about the mind of a human. With a quick analysis I can guess how a person will react to sentences in particular and what emotions the guidelines form for a person.
But just by analysing you don't know a person. There's always a story behind everything. Yes, there's always the opportunity to guess someone's backstory. Like a broken heart that left scars, or losing someone precious to you.
Now is the last example a very common one nowadays. Since the virus broke out I haven't met a single person who hadn't lost a person they cared about.
Carol bites her lip, taking her time to think. From what I've seen from her, my guess is that she's been hurt by someone she once loved. And, of course, there is the scar of losing someone precious. With all her precautions surrounding the upcoming trial, my next guess is that there once was a person that formed a beacon of hope in her life. That person is gone now.
Carol looks up at me, with a brave look in her eyes. I can see that she's been through a lot of pain and has seen a lot of hurt of others, and that's what made her stronger.
"I want to prove you wrong" she says with a steady voice. Again, I am surprised. The human brain remains a mystery, and every day I discover something new.
"Prove me wrong? How so?"
Carol slightly smirks. "You told me that you didn't want to go to trial against Vicky. Now I am doing this for you. You know why?"
I narrow my eyes slightly, thinking everything I know about Carol herself and the relationship with Vicky. I'm starting to get a slight idea of what she's up to. Clever.
"I think I'm allowed to conclude that it is not your intention to win this trial, is it?"
Carol doesn't nod, nor shake her head. She keeps her mouth shut, knowing that I am able to figure the rest out myself.
Maybe my first analysis I made of Carol is wrong. I had pictured her as a hurt housewife, tagging along with anyone who's able to survive and keep her alive just a little longer. When I heard that she was a part of the 'Original Prison Group', I was surprised. But getting to know her little by little, I began to understand that this hurt housewife was more than she seems.
"Prove me wrong…now I get it." I grin. I am amused. Carol manages to surprise me again.
From the start, I had found it odd that Carol was the person to go against Vicky in my place. Carol had been one of the persons who cared deeply for Vicky. She's always believed in this girl. And she still does.
"I had once said that trying to save her was hopeless." Carol nods at my words.
"If you're intention is not to win this trial, then it must be to save her, because that is what you've been trying to do all along."
Carol nods again. "It can work for both the parties. The newcomers and Vicky herself. There will be a lot of witnesses and there will be lots of talking…people will start to realize that Vicky's not a bad person. And hopefully, she will realize that too."
"I see" I say. "I'm impressed. You've really been thinking this through, haven't you? A trial could be the perfect opportunity for all the new people around the prison to understand why Vicky is still here. Just trying to convince him during lunch won't do. A public trial might, where they don't realize they're watching some sort of propaganda."
I think it through. It might work for the crowd. The more people are in the same room, the less complicated the human brain gets. A person is more likely to follow the crowd than to think for himself. Since there are a lot of different persons with different personalities in this prison, not all of them will be convinced of the goodness in Vicky's heart. But a few will realize it, and that could be enough. But still, the changes of succeeding are minor.
"There are a lot of ways how this could not work out the way you want it to" I say truthfully to Carol. "But I am confident that it can help at least one party. Vicky…I'm not so sure about. She's a tough one to read. That's one of the main reasons I wanted to treat her. I realized too late that I went too far with pushing. Since I don't know much of her, I can't say that your plan will work for her. Perhaps she doesn't want to be helped. She made that clear."
Carol's eyes find the place on my chest where she had to put a bandage. It's already been removed, even though it still hurts.
"I know it's tricky, but…" Carol sighs. "Vicky's never given up on any of us. So I won't give up on her."
Dear, dear, dear, deer, deer, deer, moose, moose, moose.
Sorry about that.
Guess what? Turns out that trial-thing is tomorrow! Beth told me while she brought me lunch. She seemed a little off, as if she didn't want to be here. Perhaps she missed Judith. Or not. Maybe she was tired. Ah, man, I should've asked her to go with me. Because I went shopping!
Or something like that. Anyway; I have nothing to wear! I mean, hello? I don't know if they've ever seen a trial on TV or something, but all those criminals look horrible when they're coming back from jail.
As much as it sounds exciting; I'm not a criminal. I'm not wearing an orange overall. Even though the inmates in this prison wore blue ones. Which are just as ugly as the orange ones.
I'm not wearing that. I want to wear a dress. A princess dress. That would be awesome. Vicky the Muffin Queen the Criminal.
Meh, just keep the Muffin Queen-thing. The other name makes me sound so negative.
Anyway, I went looking for a dress, but then I realized that even though the prison is my palace, there are no princess dresses. All I found was an old suit. I thought of making the pants into a long skirt, but it looked like a blanket instead. So I tried on the jacket. It's way too big, and smells even more horrible than Daryl's jacket, but I think I keep it.
I ripped some of the sleeves of, so it fits better. The office I found it in didn't have a mirror, though . Last time I saw myself in the mirror, my forehead was full of pimples. I don't really wanna know what it looks like now.
I was happy with the suit, but I wanted to go further and look for make-up. I thought that maybe there was a wing where there were female inmates. But all the prisoners I found were all dudes. And dead. But I did find shampoo. Time to wash my hair!
Sneaking out of the cellblock wasn't a good idea, and going to the public showers will only make things worse. So I went to the toilet.
Don't worry, I didn't wash my hair in the potty. Even though I thought about it. It's possible, you know. You can just hang your hair in the pot and flush the toilet. I stood before one of the stalls, considering it, but then thought of all the hairy buts that had been on top of that potty.
Imagine washing your hair in the same place Daryl took a dump…well, if he were a girl. Because I use the lady's room.
"Darlene" Merle said. That's bastard just won't stop. Even when I'm washing my hair. Seriously, give me some privacy!
So, not the potty. The sink it was!
I think I bumped the back of my head six time against the crane. That stupid thing is just in the way all the time. So I broke it off, before realizing that all the water would splash all over the place because I hadn't turned it off yet.
So I tried to put it back, but it didn't work. There was water all over the place, on the ground and the walls. Almost on my new jacket.
So I left the bathroom and closed the door. I was done washing my hair. I was already back in my cellblock, sneaking past the idiots Rick told to stand before the entrances to the other public cellblocks, when I realized I had left the shampoo in the bathroom, and I felt really stupid, like Carl, but I didn't feel like going back there again.
The whole corridor must be floating right now. Oh, well. Not my problem. I'd love to see Rick solve something like this. I don't remember a plumber around here…except Mario. But that's a game. And I don't think that will help. Even though his moustache is awesome. Way better than Rick's. Or Daryl's.
Still, no one beats Hershel, twin brother of Santa Claus.
So, back in my own place. Should probably go to bed now. Or, at least, lock myself up in one of the cells. Dinner hasn't been served yet, and I don't think Beth's gonna be the one who's waiting me.
I wish I had my turtle back.
Everyone always had a teddy bear. I had Turtle.
Turtle was the best. He would hug me when I was scared, he would look out for me. He was always waiting for me when I was gone. He was my best friend.
I sit up in bed. This is stupid.
I'm nine years old, and I miss my stuffed animal. Not only Turtle. I miss my own bed. I miss my own pencils and crayons. I miss my bicycle. I miss my friends. I miss my mom. I miss my dad. I miss my brother.
Danny's been gone all week. Not gone. He's in the prison, but not with me. He never tucks me in at night.
He's been talking to Vicky's cousin. She came here the same day Vicky came back. She's her niece. I haven't talked to her, but she seems a little weird.
Her hair is always over her eyes, and she sometimes carries a pointy stick with her. Mica says there used to be a huge lolly at the top. But I don't believe her. Because she started laughing with the others.
There are a few other children my age in the prison now. It's nice, because we can play together. Carl often calls us stupid, and I don't know why. I don't like it, because Carl was always nice to me. And now he isn't.
Today, Lizzie said that we should all meet at the burned watch tower after breakfast. She said that the grownups are going to do something and we're not allowed to be there. But Lizzie said that she knows how we can still see what they're going to do.
I don't know what's going to happen, but I think Danny knows it. If he were here, I'd ask him. But he's not here.
He's not here when I go to bed, and he's not here when I wake up. At first, I thought he might come in when I was asleep, and leave before I woke up. That's what dad told me when I asked him on vacation why I never saw him throughout the week.
"I go up earlier than you, and go to bed when you're already dreaming."
Maybe Danny's becoming like dad. Maybe I'm only gonna see him in the weekends, or on vacations. But we're not going on vacations anymore.
I'm really curious about tomorrow. I want to know what will happen. Lizzie said that we're not allowed to tell any grownups about what we're going to do, because it's top secret. Like with real spies. Or ninjas.
I yawn, and lay back. My bed feels empty without Turtle.