When I think we are a safe distance from the disaster, I let the horse slow down to a trot. I look around. We are in a small town now. Town houses line the streets along with shops that have busted windows. I need somewhere safe, but there isn't room to be picky. The horses hooves clipity clop on the paved roads. The sun is setting now. I need to find shelter quick. I flick the reins and leave the town. Luckily I spot a barn with a house beside it. Judith is asleep as I open the barn door. It's big. Two stables line the walls. A ladder leads up the the loft which has a lot of hay.
The floor is dirt underneath my feet. I remember spotting a small grocery store in town, so that is my plan tomorrow in the morning. I lock the door behind us and lead the horse into a stable. I remove the saddle and place it in the corner. I pat its neck and murmur a thanks for getting us out alive today.
I look around and see some half rotten carrots sticking out of a burlap bag on a bench beside the door. I dump the carrots on the ground and climb into the loft. I flatten some hay close to the ladder and roll out my sleeping bag. I wake up Judith and feed her some mashed potatoes and bits of granola for dinner. I lay down beside her as she sleeps. I wonder where Carl is right now.
The birds are chirping as I open my eyes. I rub the sleep from my eyes and sit up. Judith is on her back, one tiny hand behind her head and snoring softly. I rub a circle on her stomach and pat it softly.
"Wake up kido. Time to eat breakfast." I tell her as she opens her eyes.
I fish around in my backpack and find another jar of mashed potatoes. I let her eat with her hands again since I didn't get any spoons for her. I get two granola bars out, only to put one back and eat one. As I watch her eat, I think of the things I have to do today.
Food, water, weapons. All in that order. Maybe shelter. The barn is okay, but not permenant. It couldn't stand an attack. Fall is coming soon and the barn won't protect against the cold. The house might be a bit better. Ok, look into the house today after I search for the other things. I slip on the sling and put Judith in it. I couldn't leave her here all alone. I pack everything up and carry it down with me. I drop the back pack on the ground and put judith on the bench beside the door. My gun is ready just in case a walker gets in. The horse ate all the carrots and sniffs me thinking I have more. It stands still while I hoist the saddle on and tie it down.
I lead her out by the door, grabbing my backpack and judith before opening the door and letting the horse out. I lock the door quietly and get on the horse. I flick the reins. The sky is already a soft teal, the sun low in the sky. The birds are louder and the moans are near. I spot a barn closer to town, only a couple roads from main street. I put the horse in the stable and lock the door. I look around. Only a few wonder around in the wilted fields that surround me. I adjust the sling and walk to town.
I walk to the grocery store sticking to alley ways. I finally reach the grocery store. The big display window has been busted. I step on glass and curse mentally. I spot a brick in the corner, that is probably what broke the window. I hear a moan from the back. The lighting in the shop is dim, but I see the outline of shelves and a counter in the back. Judith whimpers and I shush her quietly, slipping out. Instead of my gun, I get the military knife from the stash at the prison. I slide my backpack to the ground and adjust the sling so it's on my back. I hold the knife ready to strike. I find it behind the counter, arms out ready to eat me. Flashes of the walker Lizzie had makes me stumble back some. I blink the tears back to see a blade go through the walkers head.
"Carol?" I ask when I see the banished woman appear behind the counter with her own pack.
"Charlotte? What are you doing here?" she asks as she comes out from behind the counter.
"The prison was attacked, we are scattered. Hershel was killed by this man. I have Judith," I explain.
Judith babbles to my back. I turn her around to show Carol. Carol looks shocked.
"Do you a safe spot?" she asks.
"A barn not too far from here. I got the horse." I say.
I look around for anything that was on my list today. I find some cans, but sigh as I look at the date. It expired a year ago. I find a roll of toliet paper and a couple of hotel sized shampoo and conditioners. I run a hand over my hair and wince. So greasy. Some time in the next few days I need to wash up. The rest of the grocery is picked clean. I stuff them in my bag.
"Will you join me?" I ask.
"Yes. I have a set up not far from here, in a town house." she says, pointing left down the street.
"Is it big enough for a horse? There is a house beside the barn I'm at now." I say.
She shakes her head, "No, not big enough for a horse. Show me to the barn and house."
She wipes her dagger off and follows me to the barn where the horse was left. It neighs happily when it sees us. I climb on and carol gets on behind me. I give my bag to her before we set off. I check my phone, it's almost nine. I show her the barn first after we get off the horse and lock the barn door.
"What are you going to do when winter comes?" she asks as we climb the three steps to the small porch on the little brick house.
"Stay in here I guess. Stock up on supplies." I say, shrugging.
She nods in agreement. I peer inside. A living room with a couch and a lazy boy, both leather with a thick layer of dust. I try the front door. It's locked.
"Happen to know how to pick a lock?" I ask, stepping away from the door.
She nods and takes the tip of her dagger and sticking it in the lock, wiggling it until we hear a lock from the other side click open. We both smile. I swing the door open. Moans come from inside. We get out daggers prepared for striking. I whistle quietly and three walkers come out. Must have been a family. I take out the woman and toddler. Carol takes out the man. We drag them out.
The rotten blood stains the carpet in the main hallway. I had set Judith down on the couch so I could move better when I had to drag the corpses out. Once that was done, I close the door and lock it. I walk down the main hallway. Four doors. The kitchen is straight a head. There is a stone fireplace in the kitchen with a handle for a big pot, which is right beside it. A door that is not the pantry is right beside the fireplace. I turn the knob and see a set of stairs before me.
"I'm going to go check the basemnent out. If you hear a shot, come down and take Judith with you just in case walkers get in." I call to her quietly in the other room, where she was putting our backpacks on the couch.
She gives me a thumbs up and tosses me a flashlight. I creep down the stairs, high on alert for any walkers. Once I'm sure there aren't any down here, I shine my light around and spot a pilot and a small genorater. I grin, but realize how much noise a generater makes when it's on. I still turn on the pilot. I look around the corner and see cans of food. Two rows of various vegetables.
I spot a door between the two shelves. I walk up to it and see a broken lock and a pair of bolt cutters on the ground beside it. I get my gun out and open the door. No one. The hallway behind the door I just went in is made of stone, making it cool inside. A string of lights are above me. They are half screwed in just like they were in the prison. I screw them in as I go. About fifteen yards later and a right turn, there is a hatch door above me. I open it and see hay. An escape route from the house to the barn. Genius. I close the hatch and go back to carol.
"Find anything down there?" she asks, Judith in her arms with some baby food.
I grin, "Canned food, a generater, and a pilot for a hot shower."
She smiles, "Go on, you look like you want one."
I grab my backpack and head to the bathroom. I turn on the shower and strip, grabbing the shampoo and conditioner from my backpack. Right when I was about to rinse my hair of conditioner, I hear crying. I scramble out of the shower in my sports bra and pants, and no shoes on with my gun. Carol has Judith and her pack. I look at her in confusion.
"All I want is the horse. The horse, and no one is hurt." she says, backing to the door.
I follow her as she goes to the barn with her backpack and Judith. Just as she passes me on the horse, she hands Judith to me. I catch her and run back to the house. She is still crying. I slam the door and lock it, carrying my backpack downstairs and running into the escape route hallway. I locked the basement door and the door to the escape route. I rock her and try to calm her down. After ten minutes she is quiet, only an occasional whimper and tear. With judith in the sling, I sneak out of the hallway and check for walkers. None down in the basement. I check upstairs and see the door is closed. I still double check the other rooms and set up camp down in the basement. I don't go out anymore that day. I barely sleep after I make Judith some dinner when it got dark. While she slept, I thought of what I had to do the next day.
I get up earlier than yesterday. The sun isn't even up yet. I get up, eat breakfast, and feed Judith. My top priority is to get another mode of transportation. I need that above anything in order to get out of here. A car would be nice, except I have no clue how to drive. A horse is the best option now, even if it means traveling on foot for either options and risking Judith's life. But then, when am I not risking her life? I put her in the sling and leave the house. It was a really good house and barn. If I ever come back, I know where to go. I kiss Judith's head and begin walking in the morning heat. I walk back to the town. My morals are fogged, blurred if the word seems better. Because right now I see my horse outside a town house. To protect the ones I love, which right now is this little baby in the sling, I have to get my horse back. The horse's hooves would give us away. It is dim outside. The birds are up, but just now waking up. I have to sneak up and take her.
I approach the front door and slowly try the knob. Locked. I get out the dagger and pick the lock. I shift the sling so judith is behind my back. I see a set of narrow stairs in front of me. I slowly climb them, not wanting to give myself away. Only one door is on the landing at the top of the stairs. I take a deep breath and try the knob. It squeaks. I curse under my breath as I move to the side. The door opens and I take no time to slam the butt of my gun to Carol's nose. As she is winded, I race downstairs and get on the horse, going as fast as I can.
I slow down some to readjust the sling so judith is facing me now. I flick the reins and continue on my long journey. Right now, the sun is up, and I'm greeted by a red sunrise today. some of the leaves are starting to turn, which means fall is coming and bringing winter with it. I look for any walkers around. I pull on the right side of the rein and the horse goes to the edge of the road into the brown grass beside the road, muffling the hooves. I thought it would help not attract walkers from miles away. I dug my heels into it's sides, making it go a bit faster.
Soon it is noon and I come by a bar, which is empty. A line of deserted motorcyles on their sides are outside of the cabin themed bar. I walk to the green door and see a paper sign, 'No one under twenty-one allowed' I scoff and push open the door.