"O My Fucking God! Would you look at this?!" Vicky is screaming from somewhere in the back of the shop. Maggie rolls with her eyes, annoyed.
"Can't she be quiet for at least one minute?"
"Well, she probably hasn't spoken to anyone for almost half a year, so I think she's been quiet for too long."
Maggie turned around, lifting one eyebrow. "Are you standing up for her?"
"No, I'm just saying what I think." I search through some other shelves, and feel her eyes pinning in my back. "What?"
"Why do you think she was alone all the time, even with the prisoners?" Maggie puts the basket on the ground. "She certainly didn't know them before we discovered them."
"What are you saying?" I kinda have an idea where this is going.
"I think she's dangerous" she says, with real concern. "What if she killed all those before us?"
I stand up, holding a can of corn in my hand. I throw it in the basket. "What if nobody tried to take the prison before us?"
"This is SOOOO cool!" Vicky's voice sounds from far away. Maggie turns her head, with sudden fear dripping of her face. I walk towards her and grab her hands.
"I'm scared" she says.
"Don't be" I reply, pretending I'm not peeing my pants too. "I saved your life many times, I can protect you."
"Like when you protected me just outside the door, by tripping over your own feet?" The words feel like a knife in my heart. I open my mouth to say something, but it's just too overwhelming.
"I'm sorry" Maggie says, as she lets go of my hands. "I'm just…scared."
"Maggie, listen" I try a different approach. "If it wasn't for Vicky, we would be bit, or even worse. Yes, she is crazy and dangerous, but she can help us. Maybe, she'll be a part of our group someday."
Maggie takes a step back, scared by the words. "No! Never!"
She picks up the basket again, and walks past me, angrily. I sigh about my stupidity. Even after several months, I still say things that make her angry. I'm new to this, OK? Having a girlfriend wasn't really my thing, before.
Suddenly, Vicky pops up in front of me. She holds something dead and smelly in front of me. "Look what I just shot!"
It seems to be a dead bird, or something like that. I push her hand away from my face. "Great! Daryl really likes eating birds."
"Daryl?" Her face gets a strange shadow. "Daryl's not getting anything from me. The son of a bitch tried to kill me. If he tries anything like that again, I'll chop off his balls."
A threat like that may not seem so scary, but when Vicky says it, it's like your worst nightmare. I swallow, a bit uncomfortable. She seems to notice, and immediately she turns into the crazy, happy girl I first thought she was.
"Don't worry" she says with a sweet voice. "I like you, and Maggie is nice too. It won't be far to her to chop off your balls, since you're a couple and all."
She then turns away to runs back to where she came from. I stand still for a moment, confused, scared, shocked, all at the same time. But I somehow need to laugh too. Vicky is crazy as fuck, but very funny to talk with. Rick doesn't know what to do with her, Daryl wants her dead, Carl wants her to stay alive. If it was up to me, I would say she can stay, at least in a different cellblock. She could come over for dinner sometimes, like in the old days.
A sudden scream wakes me up from my own thoughts. It's a horrified scream from somewhere in the back of the store.
"Maggie!" I shout, as I start running. "Maggie! Maggie!"
Please, please, don't….no walkers, please! Not my Maggie, please! I can protect her, I can! When I get to the back of the store, I see one of the shelves lay on top of her, along with three or four walkers. I stand still, thinking of a plan. I grab my knife, which is obviously useless. I wave my arms in the air and shout to the walkers.
"Hey! You there!" The heads turn around. "I'm talking to you, ugly!"
Two walk towards me, but the other two stay on top of the shelf, trying to reach with their rotten arms towards my girlfriend.
I stab the first walker in the eye, and kick him away from me. The knife is stuck in the skull, and I have to let it go. The other undead approaches me. I walk back, looking around for a weapon. Nothing. I hear Maggie scream again, and it seems to trigger something inside me. I feel a strange feeling of madness coming up in my chest. I stop walking, squeeze my fingers inside my palms, and wait for the dead to attack me. It runs towards me, and I grab his head. With both my thumbs, I push the eyes inside the skull. Brown blood spatters on my face. The walker pushes me back, and we both move to the front of the store. His jaws try to get a bite of me, and before I lose my finger, I throw the skull at one of the shelves. The body collapses to the ground, and when the walker tries to get up, I jump on top of the skull. With a horrifying 'crack' the undead is dead.
I don't take any time to rest. I run immediately back to Maggie. But when I get there, I see she's gone. The two other walkers lay on the ground, their heads smashed till nothing but a slimy mess.
"Maggie?" I yell, panicking. "Maggie?!"
"I'm here" a voice from my right says. Maggie stands there, in the arms of Vicky. She's crying, holding on to the red haired girl. I walk towards her, and she instantly jumps into my arms. This time, Vicky doesn't roll with her eyes. Her look is sweet, like she's watching little kids play. It's not really the best expression for this moment, but the best she has.
Maggie wipes her tears of her cheeks. "I'm OK, I'm OK."
"Are you bit? Scratched?"
"Just a little traumatized, that's all" Vicky answers for her. "But don't worry, after a while, you'll get over it. And then you become like me. No, wait, that's not a good thing, is it?"
Maggie smiles through her tears. She then looks at me and gives me a little kiss.
"You got blood on your face."
"I know, I'll wash it off when we get back."
"Can we go back, like, now?" Vicky asks. "I'm kinda pissed, 'cause I lost my dinner for saving your girlfriend."
Maggie looks at me. "She could…..eat with us? As a little thank you?"
I lift my shoulders. "Sure, why not?"
"Thanks, but….I don't want to eat at your place. Not with wannabe-hunter around."
I remember she has a little thing with Daryl. "I'm sure he can put that aside for one hour."
"No thanks, I probably still got some beans somewhere."
She turns around, and walks to the entrance of the shop, with a little bag over her shoulder. I somehow feel sorry for her. I mean, she's crazy, but has this nice side that's deep down there. Today, we seem to have been digging it up a little, like a small treasure. We've just found some golden coins, and now we know there's a whole pile of gold further down.
Summerday 5, later that day
Going on a run with Glenn and Maggie was the best thing since I chopped of Hershel's leg! They really are a cute couple, but it sometimes get annoying. It was supposed to be the three of us going on an adventure, and it was boring when they were kissing and holding hands all the time.
I showed them around a little, but of course, the town's a little boring. But when we got to the shop, it was awesome! There were two creepers, and I killed them both at once! With one crowbar! It wasn't that hard as I thought, creeper skulls aren't very strong.
I also caught a bird, and was very happy about that. I was kinda sick of eating plants all the time, and was up for some meat. But then Maggie got into trouble, and I sacrificed my dinner to save her. She owes me one.
They then asked me to come eat with them, but I said no. I refuse to be in the same room as that Daryl guy. I really want him dead, and he probably thought the same way about me.
I didn't tell Maggie and Glenn I don't have any food. To be honest, the garden is empty, and I'm out of cans. I have already made the bags for tomorrow, for the prisoners and Rick's group, but I got nothing left. Oh well, I was on YOLO-mode all along, another night without dinner isn't gonna kill me. It isn't the first time. I sometimes just forget to eat, and at the moment I wake up on the floor, I remember the hollow feeling in my stomach. Pretty dumb, but whatever.
I didn't tell them about it, because I don't want them to pity me, let them think I'm so helpless. 'Cause I'm not. I can handle myself. I can take care of myself. I don't need them to help me, or look out for me.
I also don't want Daryl to know I'm not eating tonight. He probably thinks it's an opportunity to overrule me, 'cause I won't be on full strength. It may sound a little paranoid, but that's what people gotta be in times like this. You can't trust anybody, and it's better if you don't make close friends. Yeah, going on adventures with the new people is nice, but you can't get too close. I can't go and have dinner with them, 'cause then I will start to care about them. And that's not good. You can't care about people, because people die. And every time someone you care about dies, a new scrap is added to your heart. And at some point, your heart will be ripped apart.
My heart is dying, and I don't want to die. There is so much I still need to see before I die. Besides, dying of a broken heart is pretty dumb, when you can also die by being eaten by the undead, which is way more cooler.
"How did it go?" I immediately ask Glenn as he steps into the cellblock. He hand Maggie both carry two bags, filled with food. We had made a long list, and with the food of the cafeteria, this would help us out for at least two or three months.
Glenn puts one of the bags on the floor, wiping the sweat of his forehead. "It went….well. We had a few….situations."
The last word is pointed towards Maggie, and I notice her clothes are a little bloody and her cheeks have trails of tears.
"Are you alright?" I ask, feeling a little guilty for putting her out there, in such danger.
"I'm fine, thanks to….Vicky."
I look at Glenn, and he nods. "It's true, she kinda saved our asses, two times."
"Two walker attacks?"
"Yep. The town's getting more busy, they're now getting to the parts where it was quiet first."
"Next time we go on a run, we have to be well occupied." I immediately start making plans in my head. "We can't put ourselves in such danger again. If they're really heading this way, we gotta secure this place. Fix the fences, put out guards."
Glenn nods, and I notice something strange in his eyes. Like he wants to tell me something, get it of his chest. It reminds me of the time he had to live with the secret of walkers in the barn of the Greene family, and the unknown pregnancy of my wife. I try to catch his eyes, and point with my chin towards the stairs. He follows me, and we go upstairs.
"What's up?" I ask as we stand at the top. Glenn looks at the ground. It's almost like he's ashamed of something. "Is there something wrong? Something you wanna tell me?"
He doesn't reply. He swallows something away, like a rock is stuck in his throat. He seems to be having a hard time.
"It's just…..something happened today" he starts. He shuts his mouth, still not looking at me.
"What happened?" I ask, trying to help him out.
"Maggie almost got killed, 'cause I tripped over my own feet. If it wasn't for Vicky…."
He bites his lip, turning his head to the right, towards Maggie. I see the hate of himself in his eyes, but also the love for the girl. "I couldn't protect her, I can't. I promised Hershel to take good care of her, but I can't. I'm not…."
"It's not your fault" I say, grabbing his shoulder. He looks at me. I still see there's more to tell. I don't push him, I wait. I know Glenn, and I know that if there's more, it will just come out at the right time.
"There was another walker-issue" he answers the unsaid question. "It was trying to get to her, and I suddenly got so….angry. At myself, at the world, at everything. It was….pure rage. I smashed the skulls, I watched it bleed. I…"
"Glenn, it's OK" I say, seeing the scream for help in his eyes. "It's a normal thing. We're all angry at the world, at everything. We can't always control it, and it won't go away as long as the dead walk around. You won't get used to it, and you sometimes don't know it's there. But we all carry the same."
Glenn looks back at Maggie. His eyes soften, and he relaxes his jaw. He releases the tension in his shoulders, and the old Glenn is back.
I pat him on the shoulder. "Go downstairs, I'll meet you later."
"Yeah, sure" he replies, off world. I want to walk away, but he then calls me back.
"Rick, wait! I gotta say something." I turn around on my heels, awaiting. "About Vicky. What are we gonna do about her?"
I wasn't expecting this, so I don't have a good answer for it. "What do you think we should do?"
"I think she can stay" he says, confident. "I saw something today, a different side of her. She was comforting Maggie, and she was being nice. There was no crazy or creepy girl. She's not all that. I think she can change. Just a little. She's gone crazy because she was alone, but I think that if she comes with us, she will get normal again. She's a good fighter, and is able to grow a garden, in a prison. She could be valuable to us. She could be a part of our group."
I look at the ground, thinking about the words. It really is a tough decision. Glenn believes she can change, that we can help her. But I don't know. Maybe it's too late. Maybe she's too far gone.
"Maybe we can invite her to have dinner with us" I say. "See how that goes."
"We already did, but she didn't want to, 'cause of Daryl."
I lift my eyebrows. "Daryl? Is she afraid of him?"
"No, I don't think that's the case. I think they just don't like each other. Maybe even more than dislike."
"I'll talk to Daryl about it" I say, with a little sigh in my head. Daryl was still pissed at me for letting the girl live. But seriously, he could understand I don't want a Randall-situation again. I'm still not completely over that. And I don't want Daryl to turn into Shane 2.0. Not again. I can't take that. I killed 6 men in my life, and I'm not proud of it and I hope it's not getting bigger. Shane was an ass in the end, crazy, mad, but he still was my friend. He still is. He still is the brother I always wanted, who liked to prank, screw around, do stupid things. We all had gone through some changes during the whole end of the world thing, we created our own demons that took over sometimes. Shane couldn't handle his, and mine had to put an end to it.
I watch Glenn taking Maggie in his arms, whispering something in her ear. "I love you."
I don't hear them, I see them. I can see the form of his lips pronouncing the words. I sighed, and my eyes catch Lori's. She standing in the doorway of one of the cells. She holds her belly with one hand, and with the other she tries to keep her back straight. She's tired, and sad.
I look at the ground, before I start remembering why we don't talk anymore. I love my wife, but I somehow don't know what kind of love. I want to tell her, but I also don't. Why does it have to be so difficult all the time? Why can't it be easy, like with Glenn and Maggie? They love each other, they talk, they hug, they kiss. But I somehow can't do that anymore.
I wish there was another exit, but there isn't. Daryl's at the watchtower, which seems to be his favourite place to be, and for that, I have to go outside. And the only exit, is past Lori.
I sigh, thinking about how stupid this is. I've been through much more than walking past my pregnant wife.
Summerday 6, early morning.
OK, I had the best wake up, EVER! I lay in one of the cells, as usual but this time, I took one on the ground. I had put the lock on it, like I always do, and you know what happened? I woke up, and suddenly, there were two creepers in front of the bars! They were groaning and grumbling and doing other creeper stuff, and it was awesome!
I luckily still had a glass with water next to my bed. If I wasn't thirsty last night, I would still be stuck inside the cell. I was so stupid to leave my weapons in the other cell.
So I broke the glass, and put it right into their brains. And I almost got bit! Almost! If it was a game, I would totally got extra points for taking risks!
But like I said, it's too early to get bit. Especially now! Waking up with creepers every day is like the best thing ever!
A few minutes later.
I just figured out how they got in. They, or somebody else, smashed the lock. The door is practically wide open for everybody. I like the idea, it's a lot dangerously to live, but it also makes me think. Who did this? Who wants me dead? I seems to be an attack, or a warning, but from who? I kinda have an idea who it might be, but I don't get to any conclusions, yet. If one of Ricks group wanted to kill me, they would not do it like this. They would've put a bullet in my head. There are a lot of creepers around, why create more? Unless, the person didn't want to use a weapon. Or had.
It's clear to me I can't stay here. The halls are filled with undead. I can take five or six of them sneaking in, but twenty is too much. And seeing these halls, it might even be a hundred.
That means I gotta find another place. I'll have to clear another cellblock, and doing that on my own, it might take a couple of days. So I'll probably have to stay at one of my neighbours. O wait, hell no! I'll just pick one of the watchtowers. It's a lot saver. At this point, every living thing is a suspect in this case, so nobody can be trusted. I might have to talk about this with Rick. He seems to think I'm OK. At least he's not trying to kill me. I know he wouldn't, 'cause if he would, I was. The prisoner is the evidence that I'm still alive 'cause he wants me to.
I'm sitting on one of the tables, as the door to the halls opens. It scares me a little, and I jump in the air with a little scream. A girly giggle echoes through the halls, as a red-haired girl steps into the light.
"Happy Halloween!" she says. I lift my eyebrows at the girl, who seems to be about my age. She's wearing a white shirt and a red skirt. Her hair dances around her head like strains of fire.
She sits down at the other side of the table, and puts a brown lunch bag in front of her. "OK. It's not really Halloween, but I thought it suited the situation."
I don't answer, but nervously look at the cellblock at my right. The others aren't awake yet, and that makes me feel a little helpless. The girl notices my state, and pushes the bag towards me.
"Sorry if I scared you" she says. "I don't think we've met, did we?"
I shake my head, slowly. She puts out her hand. "Vicky, nice to meet you!"
I slowly take the hand. The thin fingers seem so fragile in my hand, and I'm almost scared I break them while shaking. "Beth Greene."
"Greene? That sounds…Irish, right?" Vicky takes back her hand, and puts them both on the table. "My family's form Ireland too. My granddad had this hilarious accent. I almost wanted him to say something. Even if it was boring, like a newspaper or something, he still made me laugh till my tummy hurt."
I laugh at the silly story, and see her eyes twinkle. She doesn't seem so bad, I think. Almost as if Daryl lied about her attacking him…
"My family came to the U.S when great granddad was born" I say, trying to just start a conversation with this odd girl.
"Wow, that's like…..how long? I'm not really good at math." Vicky looks up to the ceiling, counting with her fingers.
"Me neither. I was the worst." The memories of school makes me feel comfortable, especially talking to someone who knows what I'm talking about. "Seriously, who thought of putting letters into it?"
Vicky bursts out laughing. "I know, right? My teacher always said it's because it makes it easier. Well, that's just fucking bullshit! Mister Hempsher was always a weird guy."
"My teacher, miss Rosswell, she always smelled like coffee" I laugh. "She would always come close to you to help you with some exercises, and then there was this huge smother blown into your face!"
Vicky nods and wipes the tears of her eyes. "I had this teacher for English, and he always bent over to grab a pencil from the ground, and his pants would just show off ass….."
I giggle with my hand for my mouth. I missed talking with someone about this. Maggie was always with Glenn, and the other women all talked about house things. I'm just a teenager, and a lone teenager is bored.
"Where did you go to school?" I ask. Vicky sighs, as if the word only bores her.
"North Atlanta High. Pretty boring."
"So you're from the city too?" I ask, understanding she doesn't want to continue talking about this subject. "Glenn's too."
"Really?" Her face brightens a little. "Small world. Where are you from?"
"O, small farm town" I answer. "Really old fashioned, but a nice community."
"Is Hershel your dad?" she asks, and I notice a strange glittering in her eyes. I don't know what it means, but keeping the stories about her in the back of my head, I carefully choose my words.
"Yes, he's my dad."
"How's he doing?" she asks, with concern.
"He's better. Lori and I want to take him outside tomorrow, so he can practice on walking with the crutches."
"You haven't tried yet?" Vicky asks, a little surprised. "I brought them to you two days ago."
"Yeah, well, he still had to rest, so…we waited." I analyse her face. There's still the weird twinkle, but nothing odd. "Do you want to come?"
"What? Tomorrow?" She gives me a bright smile. "I would love to! I wish I had a camera or something, to record it. Like a baby video."
"What?" I say, thinking it is a joke. I can't help but to laugh again.
"Taking his first steps, you know?" Vicky answers with a serious face.
"Knowing my dad, he would kill you if you tried to film him." I can already see his face turn and hear him scream. Get that thing away from me, right now!
"We'll see." She stands up. "I gotta go. It was nice talking to you. O, and if you see Rick, tell him I need to talk to him."
"You need to go already?" I say.
"Yeah, sorry. Some walking corpses broke into my cellblock, I gotta fix the door before more get in."
"What? How did that happen?" I immediately think of our own cellblock. What if the walkers could come into our cellblock too?
"Something, or someone, smashed the lock" she answers. She points at the bag on the table. "Happy Halloween."
She then turns around, and runs away, into the darkness of the halls.