Stranger (Carl Grimes)

Nineteen

I look out the window and smile. The heavy rain has let up to a light drizzle. I run around quietly to gather my things.

"What's the rush babe?" Carl asks as he sees me pace through the kitchen to get my shoes.

"The storm has let up to a light rain, which means we can go back to base." I say as I secure my holster to my belt which has my gun in it.

He looks outside for himself and grabs his things as well. We are both smiling at the chance to see everyone again. The light rain outside still drowns out some noise.

"I'm gonna miss this place." I say as I take a 360 turn to savour the mental image.

I feel carl wrap his arms around me from behind and nestle his chin on my shoulder.

"We might be able to come back. You never know." he gently says in my right ear.

I sigh and lean against his head, running my finger tips on his arms. I nod and untangle myself from him. I grab the black duffle that has peanuts, a few blankets, and some clothes.

"Ready?" I ask, my hand on the door knob in the sun room.

He nods, his grip on his gun tightening visibly. I yank open the door and see about three walkers cramming in.

"Run!" I scream as I stumble, shooting the walkers.

My step father had drilled this into me: You panic, you mess up, you die. Right now I was panicking, my aim was sloppy as I was taking shoulder hits as they plowed to me. The only thing that was keeping me alive was carl, in the door way to the kitchen with his gun. What was worse was that there were more waiting outside to replace the dead dead ones with the snap of your fingers.

I go into the other doorway, through the dining room and yell, "Head to the front door!"

I race to the front door and don't see Carl. I still hear shots in my ear. I yank open the front door and go to the kitchen. I take aim and fire. The walkers seem endless. I tug on Carl's arm so fast I might have yanked it out of the socket, but we can worry about that when we are safe at base. I push him out the door, glancing behind me as they chase us relentlessly. Oh shit. I look upon the small herd that was waiting for us in the front yard. As we run through the rain, scared as hell, my foggy mind replays a memory.

"Move it! If you stop running you die and turn! Keep moving! Go, go, go!" Kit drills to me like a sergeant.

I shudder in oxygen as water rolls down my skin through my soaking clothes. Kit decided a rainy day would be perfect to do some running. My other family members were still sleeping, I glance at my right wrist and read 5:07 AM. Kit likes to wake me up early as well. He has been training me since the last attack, which destroyed group number three. We barely made it out alive.

"I-Ican't. I'm out of breath." I blurt out as I rest my hands on my knees, wheezing slightly.

He sneers in my face, "That's no excuse to stop. You stop..." he trails off so I finish.

"You die." I deadpan.

I guess he expected that would suddenly give me a boost of energy, which was wrong.

"Kit. Please, I will practice later today, longer than yesterday. I need rest." I plead.

Rain beats down on us as silence fills between us. He sighs and nods, returning to the Kit I knew before shit hit the fan.

"I'm sorry. But one day, I won't be here and you will have to fend for yourself. I'm trying to mold you for survival. If I don't, I will be ashamed for the rest of my natural life." he says, a hand on my waist to help me back to the trailer we found in the early days.

I nod and understand, leaning against him lovingly.

"Let's go and dry off, kido." he says, ruffling my dripping, matted hair.

I can't help but smile and nod as he pulls the latch on the door.

I'm literally yanked out of the memory.

"Are we lost?" I ask as we continue to run.

I don't get an answer, so we keep running. We make random turns on random streets. I don't even recognize the houses or street signs.

"Arg!" Carl yelps as he lands on his ankle.

You stop, you die.

"Come on! Up, up, up, up!" I hiss urgently, scanning the area for walkers.

He leans on me as we half walk half jog to the nearest form of shelter, which happened to be a fancy bank. I don't even remember passing a bank on my way here from the farm town, this must've been on another route. I go through the french glass doors, our shoes squeaking on the marble. My eyes scan for walkers. I head to the vaults with the barred doors and three inch steel doors.

I lead Carl into one and run back out to grab something, anything useful. I find a flimsy wool blanket, a couple six pack of mini water bottles, a lantern, and a box of saltine crackers. I spot a ring of keys on one of the untouched desks in the main area. I snatch them off and hurry back to the vault. I pull down the door, which is like a garage door but with steel bars instead of a solid exterior. I lock it and turn to Carl. He is shivering and looks scared for once. The walkers beat on the bullet proof glass outside. I put a couple of brooms through the handle so it could buy us some time.

My mind clears like steam from a mirror. Carl was hurt, we were both wet and cold, we are surrounding by walkers, we don't know where we are or if anyone is coming for us. My instincts kick in and I straighten up, taking in what we have. The black duffle, which has peanuts, a few blankets, and some clothes. The rest is a blanket, two guns, a dagger, crackers, water, an electric lantern, and a set of keys. Of course I would go back out, but not right now. Carl needed me right now.

"Clothes off. Now." I demand, walking over to where he was sitting at.

"W-why?" he stammers.

"You can get hypothermia from cold wet clothes." I say.

"You can as well." he retorts.

"Yes, I'm aware of that. But right now you need to get warm." I say.

I take off the hat and peel off his plaid shirt from his arms. The duffle is right behind me and I don't want it to get wet. I throw the shirt in the corner of the small vault. It's dim in here, so I turn on the lantern.

"Arms up." I say as I reach for the hem of his t-shirt.

He obeys and raises his arms up. I quickly skin his shirt from his flesh and throw it in the same corner as his other shirt.

"Are your socks wet?" I ask.

Mine were. He shakes his head. Good, at least he won't freeze his feet off. My feet are soaked. I open the duffle and hand him a fleece blanket.

"I will turn around so you can take the rest off." I say, and turn around, opening two bottles of water as I hear the zipper of his pants.

"Ok, you can turn around now." he says.

He is wrapped up in the blanket I gave him.

"You took your boxers off right?" I ask.

He shook his head.

"You need to. A lot of nerve endings down there." I say and turn around again.

I hear the thump of his wet boxers near his other clothes. I dig through the duffle and find a pair of boxers. I grab them and twist my arm behind me.

"Thanks." he murmurs.

I turn around and hand him the other water.

"You should get your off too. I won't look." he says, referring to my own cold clothes.

He turns around and I search through the bag. I find a red tank top and another pair of boxers, which are big. It's a good thing I grabbed this bag instead of the other one. I cringe as I take off my clothes, the air crisp and cold, making my skin errupt in goosebumps. I quickly pull on the tank top and the boxers after my clothes are with Carl's. The tank top fits perfectly.

I hurry over to carl with the flimsy wool blanket and my water bottle.

"Body heat. The only thing we have for warmth right now. Come here." I say, opening my blanket to him.

He gladly excepts and holds me in his arms. I can feel him shivering. What does someone need to eat for mild hypothermia? Hot drinks, which we don't have, and high energy foods. Peanuts seem high energy. I reach for the large can and open it.

"Stop drinking the water, it's cold. We need to eat the peanuts. It will help." I say, tilting the can to him.

He puts the bottle down and tightens his grip on me.

"What are we going to do now?" he asks suddenly.

"We wait until we get our temperature back up and rest. After that, we need to get out of here before they get in." I plan.

I feel him nod his head.

"So, what was life like before Daryl met you?" he asks.

I sigh and brace myself for opening this old painful wound.

THIRD PERSON'S POV

Maggie, returned from her successful trip from the bakery, watches out the window with a paper plate of pancakes. The others had chocolate chips in theirs, but she likes hers plain. Charlotte and Carl should have been here by now. She checks her watch, almost noon. Where are they? She turns from the window and sits on the couch beside Glenn, who is eating fast.

"Why the rush?" she asks.

"I really like pancakes. Haven't had them in a long time." he says between bites and sips of water.

She nods. The last time she had pancakes was when she was back at the farm. Her heart aches not only for her home, but for her family as well.

Rick is in the kitchen with Daryl.

"They should be back by now. What if they are in trouble? What if they're dead?" Rick says, fidgeting in his seat, itching to find his son.

"What houses did you send them to?" Daryl asks, getting up.

Rick reaches for the map he drew for Carl. He hands it to Daryl. Daryl scans it and nods.

"I'm gonna take Bob with me. You keep the fort down. I promise I will bring them back," Daryl says, clasping a hand on Rick's shoulder.

Rick smiles and nods. Daryl leaves the kitchen and gathers Bob.

Bob kisses Sasha goodbye and leaves with Daryl to find the two teens. It was a good treat today, pancakes on a rainy day. They stop at the first house.

"Carl? Charlotte?" Daryl yells into the house.

No response. They go to the next house. Bob takes out some walkers around the house. He finds a bag full of silver dining utensils, disposable razors, tooth paste and tooth brushes.

"They were here." Daryl says, motioning to the box of chocolate cereal and a pair of bowls left on the counter.

"I might be able to track them, the rain has let up." he murmurs.

Bob nods as they head out the front door. He hopes they are alright. The girl has been through a lot, he could tell, and he liked her as well. She was nice. Daryl keeps his eyes glued to the muddy ground while Bob keeps his on the area around them. Where could they be?


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