I race back to the vault. I hear moans and gun shots. I slam the vault door down and lock it tight with the keys. I turn around and see the clothes I laid out for Carl are gone, and so is the duffle. Carl is also gone.
"No no, no no, no no." I murmur as I slide down the smooth wall beside the door.
My fingers grip my skull as my breathing shallows. I know I'm about to have a mental break down. Where is Carl? He wouldn't leave me. Maybe he ran off to find me? Chills race up my back as I think of something else. Someone could have taken him and the duffle. The others didn't know where we were at. So a stranger must have done it, taken our stuff, causing Carl to chase after the person.
"Calm down." I murmur to myself as groans overpower my mind, reminding me to eliminate the threat.
I get up with my dagger and take a deep breath. I tighten my grip on my dagger hilt, suddenly full of energy as I stab them quick. The bars were too thin to stick their arms through, so I didn't have to worry about them scratching me. What felt like forever and a day, I finally killed all the walkers. They had piled up at the bottom of the gate.
Before I opened the gate, I packed up some water bottles and all the food. With my gun in my holster and my dagger in my belt loop, I open the gate. I had tied up all the food and water in the blankets. I looked around and found a plain black backpack in the employee's locker room in the back. I roll up the blankets into tight rolls at the bottom, then carefully put everything else in it, zipping it up securely. I burst out of the bank and squint at the fading sun. I need to find somewhere quick to sleep in for the night.
I groan as I open my eyes. I'm on my side in a bed. I see the familiar green walls. I pat the space beside me for the familiar warmth of Charlotte. All I feel is cold and more sheets. Maybe she is downstairs already. I sit up and then it all comes rushing back. The bank, Daryl and Bob, being tackled and brough back here. Charlotte was left behind. Daryl said she was dead, but I know Charlotte. She's a tough girl, a survivor, and smart as a whip. She's alive I know it. I hear shouting downstairs. I get up with my hat and gun. I see everyone downstairs is rushing around quietly.
"What's going on?" I ask.
"We're leaving. Hurry, go pack up." dad says in a leather jacket and a clean shirt, his duffle on his shoulder.
I see a group of men outside, armed and close to the house. They don't know we are in here yet. I go upstairs and get my bag, along with judith's bag. I tug on a navy zip up before going back downstairs. Michonne has judith when we leave the house out the back.
We also leave the horse behind. As we walk, I hear laughter and shouts from inside. We should have stood our ground and protected our shelter, not let some assholes take it. Dad is scared. I wish charlotte was here. She would know what to do. I walk behind the group, cold and numb and isolated. God, if I could do anything to get Charlotte back, I would do it in a heartbeat.
I walk a couple blocks, my head down, following the multiple muddy footprints on the sidewalk. It's almost dark and I spot the familiar house. Something didn't seem right, so I peek into the window. I see an unfamiliar man on the couch, snoring loudly. I went around back and found the horse dead. I frown at the sight, but move on. I sneak in the other house and quickly snatch my pillow, but leave the bed roll. I go down the road and to the house on the corner, the one I slept in when I found out Carl had cheated on me with Lizzie and where I eliminated Lizzie at. Ah, the memories. As I was settling in my bed, the I was in last time I was here, I hear shuffling. Silently, I get up and make my way to the door. I take the chair away and listen for footsteps. I yank the door open and see a face, smudged with dirt. Brown eyes and dirty blonde hair.
"Todd?" I murmur, frozen.
"Chase!" I hear a female voice hiss from the end of the hallway.
Another face comes into the moonlight from the sky light in the hallway. Short blonde hair, green eyes, a girl around my age. She wraps her arm around her companion.
"Who the hell are you?" I ask, lowering my gun.
"I-I'm Grace. This is my little brother Chase." she says.
"Any other people?" I ask, in a daze at how much Chase looks like my Todd.
Grace shakes her head no.
"Got any supplies?" I ask, leaning in the doorframe.
They both relax some.
"Yes, some food and weapons." chase says.
"Alright. We can eat if you two alrea-" I'm cut off by gun shots and screaming.
The men at base, I think to myself.
"They aren't coming here." I reassure the frightened kids.
"So, how old are you two?" I ask, taking their minds off the topic as they lead me into the kitchen.
I still have my backpack on. I'm amazed at how they have cooked a can of beans on the gas stove, then I figured, rich people have their own stuff. As I eat the baked beans with a few crackers, they tell me about how they got here. Their group had an infected member who stayed quiet about it right up until they turned. Their mom wasn't so lucky.
They knew others had survived, but haven't seen them since it happened, which was several months ago. Grace is fourteen and Chase is twelve. My birthday, which is january seventh, is coming up in a few months.
I wonder when Carl's birthday was? My heart clenches painfully at the emptiness of lost love. As we sit in the flickering light of a group of candles, shadows cast on Chase's face, making him appear like an outline of Todd. I miss my little brother more than anything. That night, I'm haunted by a swarm of stinging memories.
"Ready or not, here I come!" Todd shouts from the main level of the house.
I stifle chuckles as he cluelessly searches for places I'm not at. I'm hiding in the basement under the little room under the stairs. I locked it from the inside and am now sitting silently for todd to go somewhere else. Base is the living room mantle, which has pictures and a few trophies from little league sports.
Todd played football and I did softball. Our small trophies are flanking the wedding picture of Kit and mom. Mom looking beautiful in her long white dress, both of us holding flowers from her bouqet. She had lillies, which smelled so strong that every time I look at a picture of lillies I can still smell the flower.
"Lottie! I know you are in there!" Todd says, giggling and grunting as he pulls at the door.
"Ok! I surrender!" I say from the inside.
I unlock and open the door. He pokes my left shoulder just for good measures. I roll my eyes playfully and make a mad dash for the mantle anyways. I feel myself airborn, but strong arms around my waist.
"Come on kidos, we are going on a picnic." Kit says as he carries us to the kitchen.
"But it's raining!" Todd and I both exclaim, looking at the fat drops of water spat to the ground and brick patio at our house.
"Then we can set up camp under the park gazebo!" he compromises, setting us down on the bench. He hands us our black rain boots and our individual coats, a navy hoodie for me and a lime green rain coat with t-rexes on them. Todd is in love with the ancient creatures. He arms us with something, the basket for me and the checkered picnic blanket for todd. We hurry out to the car. Mom was already in the driver's seat. As we drive to the manicured park with a giant gazebo in the smack middle, lyrics float through the speakers.
'I can see you standing next to me,
In and out somewhere else right now.'
I feel the car stop. Through the blurred window in the backseat, I see the flock of geese waddling around freely. They usually don't come out because of people. Behind the gazebo is small pond, perfect for feeding the birds. We all get out and run after the geese, who were making their way to the pond. In a flutter of wings, they fly the short way and land into the murky water of the pond, honking quietly to one another.
Kit ran with the basket while todd still had the blanket. Under the gazebo's black roof, we spread the blanket flat and unpack our lunch. Creamy cucumber sandwiches or hot ham and cheese were the options with grapes or honey dew, ripe for a rainy summer day. We had capri suns while Kit and Mom had water. Desert was chocolate cake with raspberry filling, a family recipe from my mother's side. Kit reveals a zip block bag full of whole wheat bread, which is better for the geese he said. So there we were, throwing out pieces of bread to the flock of geese in the pond.
"Love you Lottie." I hear Todd whisper to me as we drive back to the house, tired as dogs while the rain and the windsheild wipers lull us to sleep, the radio humming in the background with the quiet chatter of the adults in the front.
"Love you Todd." I whisper back, his head on my shoudler as my eyes close.
I bolt upright on the couch. I automatically wipe the fresh tears from my face. That was my most fondest memory of us all, feeding the geese on a rainy day after we had a picnic.
"I miss you so much Todd." I whisper to the harsh silence.
The other two were in the master bedroom, which was right beside the blue bedroom. I lean back and plop my head back on my pillow. Rolling my head to the side, I take a deep breath in and smell the pine. I shudder a whimper and move my arms to clutch my pillow. I wish Carl was here. I feel empty and numb, cold and useless.
I finally choke on sobs, muffled by my pillow, a poor replacement for Carl. I will find Carl, so help me god.