Stranger (Carl Grimes)


I wake up and stretch. It's quiet in the room besides the steady breathing of the others. Carl fell asleep with the book on his chest, rising and falling as he breathes. I slip out of my bed roll with my bag, glasses, and gun.

I tiptoe to the bathroom and change into some clothes. I brush my hair back into a pony tail and push my glasses to the bridge of my nose. I lace up my combat boots and check for any loose strands of hair in the small cracked mirror hanging in the simple tan bathroom. I brush my teeth quickly and leave, sliding my gun in its holster on my belt.

I go back to the room and shake Carl awake.

"Mmm, what?" He murmurs, not opening his eyes as he turns over to me.

"I'm gonna go get the food. Wake up the other kids." I say in a quiet voice.

He sits up and rubs his eyes.

I race down the stairs and see the two bags of food. More sandwiches and water and cups. I snatch them up and rush back up the stairs.

The kids are sitting sleepily in their sleeping bags, yawning and blinking the sleep away. I pass out the food and water cups, then go to Beth, who had been up earlier to get the baby food. She smiles at me and I shoot one back before leaving her.

After I order the kids to go brush their teeth and hair, I settle down on my bed roll and begin to read. I get bored after a while.

"How about some music?" I suggest, nodding to the record player I brought up.

I set the needle on the dusty vinyl and crackles are heard along with soft music.

"There aren't any words." Luke says, nose scrunched.

I explain, "It's called instrumental. It is mostly used for ballroom dancing."

Molly echoes, "Ballroom dancing?"

I nod.

Luke asks, "What is ballroom dancing?"

I think, trying to find a way to explain it without getting them utterly confused.

"Carl! Stand up," I exclaim, standing up myself.

Without questioning me, he does what he is told.

"You know how to ballroom dance?" I ask, stepping closer to him.

"No, do you?" He asks.

I nod.

I beckon him to the middle of the room and instruct, "One hand on my back, the other hand holding mine."

A blush creeps up to his cheeks as I guide his hand to my upper back, right below my bra strap.

I inch closer and lay my hand gently on his shoulder. My hand holds his loosely. I can see freckles sprinkled on his cheeks, which stand out against the red blush.

"When I step back, you step forward. When I step forward, you step back. Focus on me, not your feet." I whisper to him below the surface of the music.

The song ends and a few seconds of static go by before a new song comes on.

"Focus on my eyes," I remind him firmly.

His ocean blue eyes catch my mixed green and blue ones. He catches on, and soon we are moving in a slow lazy circle.

We unconciously move closer to each other, our hands tightening as we laugh and smile at mistakes. Silence fills the air since it was the last song, but we don't notice. At least not until Beth clears her throat in the doorway with the baby who is red faced and tears coming out of her eyes.

The baby starts to wail at the top of her tiny lungs. I wince and let go of Carl's hand and shoulder as he does the same and takes the baby into the other room.

"Why were y'all dancing?" Beth asks.

"The kids asked what ballroom dancing was and what better way to explain then by demonstrating it?" I reply.

She brushes off the comment and leaves to the other room where I guess Carl went.

"Alright! Bathroom trip." I announce and walk out the door with the four kids in a line like a line of ducklings following the mother.

I send them back one by one. Lizzie came out last. She walked in front of me. She stops in front of me. Before I could ask what was wrong, Lizzie slams me up against a wall despite her being smaller and shorter than me. She pinned my arms to my side. I curse for not bringing my gun.

I hear a click, the switchblade.

"How did you get it back?" I ask, loudly stalling, hoping someone would hear and come to the rescue.

She clamps her clammy hand over my mouth.

"Don't be stupid, do you really think I would wait to get it back? I pickpocketed it after my Carl went back to sleep. This is the perfect moment," she says with a twisted gleam in her eye.

I was confused for a second before she plunged it in my side and ripping it back out. A strangled, short scream muffles behind her hand.

"That was a warning. Stay away from my carl or worse will come to you," she threatens, wiping her blade on her blue jean pants creating a dark bloody smear.

As soon as she lets go of me, I slump to the floor and apply pressure to the wound, which is bleeding heavily. It went deep.

I focus on my breathing, which is shaky as a leaf in a tornado. I stand on wobbly legs heavily leaning for support against the wall clutching the wound. My vision is slightly out of focus, like a camera. I push the door open and stumble in.

"Help." I gasp.

Carl rushes to me, his arm around my waist as he guides me to my bed roll.

"Beth!" he shouts.

She comes rushing in, "Oh lord. Hold on a minute. While I'm gone, get that shirt off so I can look at the wound."

I push embarrassment in the back of my mind as pain burns in my veins. I groan.

"Get these kids out." I hiss to Carl.

"Out! Now!" he barks at the frightened kids, well except Lizzie, who is evilly smirking at the sight of me.

She must be sadistic, one who pleasures in inflicting pain on others. Another wave of pain ripples through me. I scream, which quiets down into a agonized moan.

"You're gonna have to sit up." Carl says.

He has gone into serious mode, his eyes are dark blue, like the sea on a stormy day, instead of the light blue on a sunny day. I take two deep breaths and sit up quick. His hands were already holding the hem of my shirt as he tore it off quickly. I slump back down, groaning through gritted teeth. Sweat beads on my forehead.

Thankfully Carl focuses on either my injury or my eyes, never looking at my chest. I will have to thank him later. Beth comes in and shoos Carl away. He walks out, blushing like a tomato. I focus on breathing. In, out. In, out. Repeat.

Beth inspects it for a few seconds. Blood is smeared around the wound, which is still flowing. She pokes it gently which makes me tense up and grit my teeth.

"I need to get daddy. Carl! Get back in here!" She covers my chest with a blanket.

"Put pressure on the wound. If she screams calm her down." she instructs Carl.

Calm me down? How could he possibly calm me down? He nods and rushes over. He takes a cloth from the medical bag Beth brought in with her. It's white, gauze or something to stop the bleeding.

"I'm gonna clean up the blood around it ok?" he says.

I nod, tensing up. He wipes it off gently but still hurts, earning a moan from my dry lips. My heart is beating fast.

"All done. Now I'm gonna put a fresh one on to try and stop the bleeding."

I barely nod as my breathing is slowing down. Sleep sounds good right now.

"Hershel!" Carl yells when my eyes start to close. Santa comes in, limping with another bag.

"Santa?" I mutter before falling into sleep.

I wake up with sweat on my body, my clothes sticking to me. I see that I'm in my cell. I'm on the bottom bunk instead of the top. It's dark, meaning its either night or early morning. I try to sit up, but pain punches my side. I cry out in sudden surprise.

I pull myself up, biting back moans and cries. A few tears leak out of the corners of my eyes. I swing my legs over, which causes waves of pain. I have adjusted to it now, I grab my gun and slip my blue flannel over my bra and bandages around my torso. I button it up. I gather my hair in a low bun because raising my arms to make a high bun would cause more pain.

I limp downstairs with my tennis shoes slipped on my feet.

"Hello? Anyone down here?" I call out quietly.

I get silence in return. I make my way over to cell block C. The creak of the old prison door wakes someone up. It's Rick. He walks over to me and wraps his arm around my waist gently minding my sensitive wound. He looks tired as hell.

"What's wrong?" He asks.

His voice is raspy and deeper with sleep.

"I just woke up. How long have I been out and what has happened?" I ask in return.

"Earlier today Carol and I went for a supply run. We sent out a group to get medicine yesterday, we found a couple of survivors... they didn't make it," he looks away, zoned out for a few seconds before continuing, "Carol, she killed Karen and David. I couldn't let her back in, Tyreese would have killed her. I sent her with a car and supplies. She will survive I know she will. The medicine group hasn't come back yet."

I nod, taking it all in. I start to slowly blink meaning I'm about to fall asleep. Rick must know that and carries me to a vacant cell. I hear his slow stride and feel a scratchy blanket thrown on my body, along with the solid mass of a lumpy pillow.

"Night," I call quietly.

It echoes in the cell block.

"Night," I hear Rick repeat.

I wake up, yawning and slowly sitting up. Throwing the covers back and slipping my tennis shoes on, I grab my gun. I limp out to the dining area.

"Charlotte," I hear someone call behind me.

It's Maggie, Beth's older sister. I raise my eyebrows in attention.

"You are needed in the library," she reports, helping me get there.

The council is sitting around a table. It only Hershel, who I thought was Santa. Carol was banished, Sasha and Glenn are sick and Daryl is on the meds trip.

The library is set up like a small court room. Two chairs sit away from each other in front of the row of the three council members. I sit down on the right.

Hershel asks, "Who stabbed you?"

"Lizzie," I state.

They all murmur and cast looks at eachother.

Hershel asks, "Do you know why?"

I purse my lips and say in a tight voice, "She was out of control. She was jealous of nothing. The night before she threatened me and I took her knife away. She got it back and stabbed me for a warning to stay away."

Hershel asks, "What was she jealous of?"

I start off, "She got jealous of how Carl and I were getting along. So jealous that she whipped out her blade and says, 'Try me' when we were alone. I disarmed her and told her she could have it back the next day. The next day we have another bathroom break and Lizzie slammed me against the wall, going on about how 'It was a warning and it would be worse next time.' and 'To stay away from her Carl.' "

Hershel processes the information.

He concludes, "Well, we are going to bring in Lizzie and let her tell her side of the story. You can leave now. Don't strain that wound or it will take longer to heal. Stay in bed as well."

I nod and get up limping towards the hallway. I feel an arm wrap around my waist and see Carl.

"Going back to your cell?" he asks.

"Yeah. How are the kids without me?" I ask in return as we face the stairs.

"Quieter. Lizzie keeps hitting on me. She's about a year or two younger than me, so it's weird," he says.

He turns to me, "Here, let me carry you so you won't hurt yourself."

I scoff, "I'm too heavy for you. Plus, I can do it just fine."

I push past the pain and run up the stairs. Bad mistake. I fall against the wall, clutching my side.

I groan as I catch my breath. I can feel my wound throb frantically in pain.

"See, now look what you did, you hurt yourself," Carl scolds at me.

I shut my eyes in pain.

"Fine. You can carry me." I give in.

I feel his arm wrap around my shoulder blades and his other arm slip under the crook of my knees. I hear him pant slightly as he hurries to cell block D. I open my eyes and see we are in cell block D.

"I can get to my cell just fine now. Thanks. By the way, how old are you?" I ask, stopping at the edge of the steps up to my cell.

"Fourteen two weeks ago. You?" he asks.

"Fifteen in early january. Again, thanks." I turn to the stairs and procede slowly.

He leaves and I ease myself on my bed roll. I hear the door downstairs squeak and see Carl's head pop through the curtain.

He explains, "Daryl wanted me to keep an eye on you just in case Lizzie tries to stab you again."

I prop myself on my pillow and point at the empty space at the end of the bed. An extra pillow on the top bunk is beside me.

I hand it to him and say, "Take off your shoes before putting your feet on my bed."

He slips them off and takes his hat off as well putting it on the top bunk.

"So where do you get the comics from? I don't see them in the library," I ask.

"Michonne gets them for me. If you want, I could ask her to find some books for you," he offers.

I list off a few books and he writes them down on a piece of paper from his pocket.

He nods and silence fills the room. We end up talking all afternoon, telling stories and discussing books, movies, music, and comic book characters. Carl goes to the bathroom and leaves.

Carl comes back. We talk more. We hear a bell chime three times.

"That means supper is ready," he explains to my confused experssion.

He grabs his hat and helps me up from the bunk.

It takes a while getting to the dining area, but we get there. It's bread and mixed vegetable soup fresh from the garden. As we eat we chat some. There isn't a lot to talk about; when the medicine group is coming back, the sick people, and I listen to how Rick escaped a hospital and eventually found his son and his late wife Lori with his late friend Shane.

Soon the sun is setting and we are still outside, sitting as we listen to the moans harmonizing with the nighttime noise. Then we hear gunshots in cell block A. The only people here are Maggie, Rick, Carl and I.

Rick says, "Carl you come with me. Maggie go to cell block A. Charlotte go to the Beth and the kids protect them."

I nod and limp as fast as I can to the offices. When I open the doors, I limp upstairs and walk through the door. The kids, minus Lizzie thankfully, are in the corner alerted.

"Don't say a thing. Gunshots in cell block A. Rick and Carl are going to fix the fences. Stay calm," I tell them.

They all nod. I limp beside them and crouch down slowly, reminded by the burning pain in my side. I groan as I hit the floor softly beside Molly. She looks frightened. I wrap an arm around her.

"It will be fine. Just think of something else," I whisper in her hair, rubbing her arm soothingly.

Her breathing calms down.

We all hear a car engine, the group has come back.

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