Playing With Fire

Chapter Four

Merle

The next time I opened my eyes, the sun was rinsin' slowly and everything outside the car windows was set in a dull, yellow glow. I glanced down at my arm where it was still pressed up against my chest. The skin had started to turn a sickly lookin' pink around the edges. It looked swollen and still hurt like a bitch. I couldn't remember the last time I felt so shitty, so weak. As much as I wanted to stay where I was and wait it out, I knew I wouldn't be doin' myself any favors. I needed food at least, and water. Some god damn antibiotics would've been nice but that's not the way the fuckin' end of the world works.

Still tryin' to keep my movements as little as possible, I tried to start the car. The engine whined but wouldn't catch. You had to be fuckin' kiddin' me. I tried again. Same thing. Just a high pitched, pathetic whine. If I had it in me, I would've been beatin' down on the steerin' wheel. It was my own damn fault. Shouldn't have chosen this piece of shit. Should have held out for somethin' better. I pushed open the car door and practically fell out onto the pavement. I straightened myself up, swayin' as I tried to found my footin'. Everythin' still felt like it was tiltin' even though I was standin' still.

I slumped up against the open car door as I looked around me. I had left the highway pretty far behind me the day before and now I was on some long,windin' stretch of road that looked like it led straight to the middle of nowhere. I couldn't tell if it looked familiar or not. Last night I could have sworn I'd been headed in the direction of camp, but now I didn't have a single fuckin' clue. I felt too shitty to be annoyed or frustrated or anythin' really. On one side of me was forest. On the other side was field and two houses, about a half mile of road between them. I tried to judge which one would be the better pick. They both looked about the same, though. Two stories with boarded up windows and doors. I went for the one with the picket fence, though, thinkin' maybe it had a better chance of keepin' out the walkers.

I could feel a cold, damp sweat clingin' to my skin. Each step felt like I was wearin' concrete shoes. It took a lot longer than it should have to reach the farm house, holdin' on tight to the wooden railin' as I pulled myself up the rickety, rottin' stairs and began tuggin' the boards off the front door. It wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be. The wood crumbled in my hands. It was old and no doubt rain and weather had wore it down and until it was mildewy and soft. The smell of mold hit my hard when I finally got inside, swinging the door shut behind me. By the looks of it, the place had been abandoned a long time ago. Probably right at the start of the outbreak. I doubted I'd find water, but I hoped like fuckin' hell they had forgotten to clean out the entire kitchen.

I staggered past the moth eaten carpet in the livin' room, using the walls to hold myself up. The couch was saggin' in a corner and the television set had been knocked over at some point, lyin' face down on the floor surrounded by glass. I finally made it into the kitchen. Yellow flowery wallpaper was peelin' from the walls. An antique lookin' china cabinet had been shoved up against the glass slidin' door. I started throwin' open cabinets and cupboards. It looked like whoever had been here last didn't leave a damn thing behind. I was startin' to think if it would've been a good idea to try and get to the other house I had seen and try my luck there, when I tugged open the last cupboard and saw three gleamin' cans of spagettios sittin' on the shelf.

I grabbed all three, tuckin' 'em into the nook of my arm before movin' back into the livin' room. I so badly wanted to just collapse onto the couch, but the idea of layin' around out in the open for just anyone to walk in and find me put me on edge. I looked up at the stairs and knew that wasn't gonna happen. Walkin' from the car to the house had been hard enough, my lungs workin' much harder than they should've been. Instead, I forced open a door to my left and found myself in a small bathroom. Toilet, bathtub, sink.

I carefully set the cans down on the toilet lid before leanin' over the sink and wipin' the dirt and dust off the mirror with my hand. Man, I even looked like shit. My skin was a chalky white and my eyes looked they were slowly sinkin' into my skull. I looked like I was about a hop and a skip away from passin' as a walker. I slammed my fist into the mirror and it shattered into hundreds of tiny, silvery pieces, showerin' the sink and floor. My hand stung and drops of blood began to run down my palm and over my wrist. It was nothin', though, compared to what I was feelin' in the rest of me.

I stepped into the empty tub before sittin' down, leanin' back and stretchin' my legs out as much as I could. I'd rest here for a while, eat somethin' and then get back to what I had been doin' before. I'd be alright, it wasn't easy to take down Merle.



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