A New Day
Clementine looked blankly toward the boy she had only just met, silently going over the events that had transpired over the past couple of days in her mind, before finally replying, "Yeah. Thanks."
The scene ended, with Clementine staring down at AJ in her arms, and leaving a rather sad Dominic staring blankly at his computer screen. He could hardly believe his eyes. Kenny was one of his personal favorite characters in the Walking Dead game, but having to kill him, that left him speechless, and on the verge of tears. Thinking back to that moment, he wasn't sure whether he'd made the right decision to have Clementine forgive Jane and go back to Howe's Hardware, but he knew that Kenny had gone off the deep end, and he couldn't let him kill Jane, even if she hid the baby from them.
With the end credits finished, he exited the game and turned off his computer, heading for bed, gently tossing his glasses onto the end table. He had enough zombies and feelings for one night, which led to a minor case of insomnia as the events that had transpired played like a drawn out movie in his head. By the time it passed, he had fallen into a strange, deep sleep; dead to the world around him.
Dominic groaned as a peculiar, yet wretched smell brought him out of his slumber. He suddenly felt his back, scorching in pain. Dominic quickly jumped up, only to be met with the blinding sun. Shielding his eyes, he looked above, only to see a blurry blue sky. Blinking rapidly, he shook off his dizziness. Looking down, he noticed the blurry image of a police cruiser. What the hell? Why was he lying on top of a police car? His glasses were sitting next to him on the hood of the car, which he instantly picked up and put on. Standing up, he scanned his surroundings carefully. A deserted street lay in front of him; litter scattered the pavement. Abandoned cars stretched the road as far as Dominic could see through the piercing sun. From the other side of the road, he could already see the dust piling up on the old chairs and buildings with rust and mold silently spreading around the metal structures. He glanced toward the road itself as a wrinkled, barely legible MISSING poster flew between the wheels, and beyond the back of the cruiser. It looked as if everyone in town had decided to leave at the same time.
"Where the hell am I?" He muttered, as the blistering heat of the sun continued to beat down on him. It's got to be around 90 degrees. He mused. For as long as I've lived in Ohio, it has never been this hot. Feels more like… His thoughts trailed off as he noticed the license plate of the car in front of the cruiser. Georgia.
"What the fuck?" Dominic hopped down and examined the other cars around the lot, including the police car he awoke on top of: Georgia. All of them. "How did I somehow get to Georgia…?" He panicked. First he finds himself asleep on the top of a police car, now he's almost eight hundred miles away from home. His head was spinning, and felt as if he was placed into some sort of fucked up version of The Hangover. This has to be a dream. How did I get here? And what's with all these cars?
He got his answer when he heard a moaning from behind him, knowing it all too well.
With his heart racing, he turned, looking to see where the moaning was coming from, and there it was. It's eyes were a freaky white; the skin almost alien grey, with rotten, crimson red bites lining his body under the sunlight. The smell was enough to make Dominic want to hurl, reeking with the smell of molded urine and decayed flesh. Raw meat like an aroma fit for the mentally insane. It was absolutely hideous, far worse than anything he could've imagined. The Walking Dead could not have prepared him enough for the real thing.
"H-hey there, um… I'll be going now," He stammered, backing away from the zombie slowly as it began to growl at him. He yelped as he tripped, falling onto the burning asphalt, landing flat on his butt. His heart raced faster, hardly feeling the pain from falling as adrenaline took over. He was not about to die to a zombie.
"Please be a dream, please be a dream…" he pleaded as he struggled to get back on his feet and run away from the zombie. As soon as he found his footing, he booked it. Turns past him like waves of unnoticable scenery as yard after yard passed from both sides. As he rounded another corner, he stopped dead in his tracks. Two zombies were stumbling in his direction. Think…. Think…. He turned around, seeing a yard with a brown gate just high enough he could reach it. Tearing across the street, he hopped onto the fence, struggling to climb over. Turning back, the zombies were closing in, stepping off of the pavement, and onto the premises. Giving one hard jerk, he swung his legs over, falling hard onto the sweet grass. Checking the sturdiness, he made sure the zombies couldn't follow him in. They continued to growl at him and push against the gate with all of their might, but there was no way the duo could force their way through.
He sighed in relief and turned to go deeper into the backyard, realizing quickly that he knew where he was. To his right was a garage, and to his left, a porch, leading up to a glass sliding door. Then the fence in the back, and finally… the treehouse. The treehouse especially caught his attention. It can't be. This is Clementine's backyard. From the video game. I've GOT to be dreaming. Dom fell to the ground (with a rather painful thud) as it all sunk in. Somehow, he has been transported into the world of The Walking Dead. And the worst part is, he has no idea how he got there, or if he could get back.
He slapped himself on the spot.
"Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" He shouted, a tear dripping off his cheek while red hand print slowly materialized over the wet skin.. Gunshots in the distance brought him out of his stupor, and he got back to his feet.
"HELP!" A voice called, making Dominic pause with his palm an inch from his face, ready for another wake up call. Oh my god… A man with a blue shirt came limping from the fence opposite the glass door, growls and snarls following his escape.
Dominic hit himself again, but he was still here. And now, his face hurt like hell. Looking down at the ground, he quickly considered what could be in store.
Dominic never saw himself being able to survive a zombie apocalypse if one ever occurred. He knew that he was too weak. He loved to eat, while having a slight belly, which could make living off canned beans and meat difficult for him. He felt like curling up in a ball, dying where he lay, knowing fully that either way, he would end up dead.
"HELP!" Lee cried again, forcing Dominic's eyes open again. This was his chance. Without a second thought, he sprung to his feet and raced to the fence, peering over to see Lee limping towards him, his eyes locking with Dominic's. With one last burst of energy, he leaped, grabbing a hold of the told of the fence, and pulling himself onto the edge, reaching out for Lee's hand..
"Grab my hand!" Dominic shouted to the older man, "I'll pull you over the fence!"
Lee did as he was told, and grabbed the younger man's hand, who, with a noticeable grunt, struggled to pull him onto the fence. In sync, they turned around and hopped off into the backyard. Lee nearly doubled over in pain as the wounds he received from the car crash shot up his leg.
He spent several seconds trying to catch his breath, before turning to the younger man that saved his life, and simply said, "Thanks."
"No problem," he muttered in awe, the boy sounded much younger than he looked, which made Lee to take a good look at his savior. Well, he certainly looked young, at least high school age. Short hair, which at that moment, was ruffled in different spots. A pair of glasses sat on his slightly large nose, and his blue eyes seem to smile back at him. The most peculiar thing about him, was his clothes. He wore a black T-Shirt, with what looked liked an old Police Box on it. Lee wasn't exactly a TV extraordinaire, but he would be an idiot if he didn't recognize the phone booth.. Then there was his pants, which were actually pajamas, and on top of that, he was barefoot. The kid looked like he literally just got out of bed.
"How'd you sleep?" Lee asked.
"What?" The kid replied, then looked down at his clothes, before laughing softly, "Oh, yeah. Pajamas. Sorry, it's been a really weird day. Let's just say, I was asleep when all of this began."
"Obviously," Lee replied, now even more curious about the stranger in front of him, "What's your name?"
"Dominic. What's yours?"
"My name's Lee, and judging by your accent; you aren't from around here, are you?"
"Hah. No. Born in Texas actually. But I've lived in Ohio for a few months now. Now... I'm down here in Georgia." Something about the way he said that made Lee raise an eyebrow. Why was this kid so far from home, in his pajamas?
"Do you have any idea what's going on?" Lee asked, glancing around at his surroundings, "People have been trying to eat me. And this police officer earlier was… just dead. But he came back and tried to bite me. Have you ever seen such a thing?"
Dominic froze slightly, trying to think of what to say that wouldn't give him away. Yup. He's here. If he really was in the game now, he shouldn't go around publicising that he doesn't belong there. Even if he did want to tell Lee what comes next.
"Looks like zombies," he said matter-of-factly, "You know. Like from the video games." Dominic looked up at Lee, as if he half expected him to agree excited towards his brilliant suggestion.
Lee's eyebrows shot up, not quite sure what the boy was talking about, then turned back towards house, "Well, let's see if anyone's home who can help," ignoring what Dominic said.
They made their way up the steps of the porch, and began knocking on the glass sliding door, which appeared to lead into the living room of the house. It looked empty, but Lee decided to knock on the glass anyway.
"Hello? Anybody home? We need a little help," Lee shouted through the looking glass.
"Try the door," Dominic added, from over Lee's shoulder, glancing back, checking for walkers. He didn't want to be outside any longer than he had to.
He looked back at the younger man, raising an eyebrow, "You sure that's a good idea? I don't exactly want to be shot today."
"If anyone is in there, they could use our help," Dominic reasoned, his mind jumping to Clementine. He had hadn't seen her enter or leave the area since he came into the backyard.
"Alright, alright," Lee sighed, trying the door. It was stuck at first, but he was able force it open with a pull. One last time before entering, he yelled, "We're coming in. Don't shoot, okay?"
They cautiously enter the house, Lee gasping as pain shot up his leg, "Ahh, shit," he muttered under his breath, "Hello? We're not intruders… or one of them."
Dominic gazed around the room, noticing the dried blood on the floor, whispering to Lee "These people might need more help than we do..."
"Take a look around, see if you can find anything useful," Lee replied, heading towards the phone on the table between the kitchen and the living room.
Dominic felt a tear well up in his eyes as he anticipated the voicemails Lee was about to start. He began to rummage through the kitchen drawers, looking for anything useful, and tried to ignore the messages that began to play on the answering machine.
"Three new messages," Dom heard the answering machine say from behind him, "Message one. Left at 5:43 PM.
He braced himself to hear Clementine's mother on the phone, half wanting to put his hands over his ears to prevent the pain it would bring, but couldn't. He couldn't let all of the emotions of his time playing The Walking Dead get to him. He is living it now, and that meant he had to be strong: at any cost.
"Hey, Sandra, this is Diana. We're still in Savannah. Ed had a little 'incident' with some crazy guy near the hotel, so we had to get him back to the ER and have it checked out. Anyway, he's not feeling well enough to drive back tonight, so we're staying an extra day. Thanks so much for looking after Clementine, and I promise we'll be back in time before your spring break!"
He continued to rummage through the kitchen, finding a few things here and there, but specifically tried to avoid the walkie-talkie in the drawer to the left of the oven, as he knew that would play a role later on.
"Message two. Left at 11:19 PM."
"Oh my God, finally! I don't know if you've tried to reach us; all the calls are getting dropped. They're not letting us leave and aren't telling us anything about Atlanta. Please, please, just leave the city and take Clementine with you back to Marietta. I-I've got to get back to the hospital. Please let me know that you're safe."
He sniffed, trying to keep the waterworks from coming, almost being blind as he rummaged of the drawers. Clementine was his favorite character from The Walking Dead; he always wanted to protect her from the horrors that she would experience. He knew just how much this will devastate her in the future.
"Message three. Left at 6:51 AM."
"Clementine? Baby, if you can hear this, call the police. That's 911. We love you… we love you… we love y-"
The message ended. Dominic quickly wiped his face, forcing himself to stare at the now hazy drawer. Dead silence filled the room as he sniffed, trying to cover up any hint he felt anything from the recording.
"That was painful to listen to," he croaked, breaking the silence. He turned to look at Lee, who was staring at him in utter bewilderment.
After a brief pause, Lee asked, "How old are you, kid," trying to figure out just who the enigmatic man in front of him was.
"Nineteen," Dominic gave bluntly, closing the drawers, not really wanting to talk about his age to someone who could easily be around his father's age.
"Daddy?" A little voice crackled from the kitchen. They both stopped cold, and looked back toward where the voice had come from. Dominic reached for the drawer by the oven, and opened it to find the walkie-talkie.
He picked it up and gazed over at Lee, before walking over to the sliding door, then held down the button on the radio. "Hello?"
"You need to be quiet."
The two men exchanged a wide-eyed glance, before Dominic added, "Who is this?" He rolled his eyes at his question. It felt absurd to pretend that he didn't know her.
"I'm Clementine. This is my house," the voice answered. Her voice sounded exactly like it did in the game, which freaked Dominic out a little. Lee's voice was actually a little bit deeper than it was in the game, now that he thought about it. I guess not everything can be spot on.
His lips perked up into a small smile, "Hello, Clementine. I'm Dominic."
"You're not my daddy," Came the reply, making Dominic snicker under his breath.
"No, I'm not," he laughed at the thought, "Although I am with a friend, his name's Lee."
"I heard you two talking outside," She piped.
Dominic turned back toward Lee, asking Clementine the next absurd question, "So, how old are you anyway?"
"And you're alone?" He asked, the absurdity slowly reaching maximum absurdness.
"Yes, I don't know where anybody is," she mumbled softly before asking, "How old are you?"
"I'm nineteen. And Lee here, he's.." Dominic glanced at Lee, hoping he would answer for him.
"I'm, uh, I'm thirty-seven," he added after taking the radio from the boy.
"Okay," She mumbled, her tone sounding fearful when she realized someone else was on the radio.
"Where are your parents?" Lee asked, looking around the living room before heading back into the kitchen, with Dom in tow.
"They took a trip and left me with Sandra. They're in Savannah, I think. Where the boats are."
"Are you safe?" Lee added, looking out the window above the sink. Dominic decided to continue rummaging through the kitchen, hoping to find something, a weapon of some sort. Awaiting his next cue.
"I'm outside in my treehouse. They can't get in."
"That's smart," Lee said, almost in envy of the girl's craftiness.
"See?" Lee and Dominic noticed the treehouse door open slightly through the window, a young girl looking back at them, "Can you see me. I can see you two through the window," she waved at them, they both waved back.
Suddenly, she screamed, and ducked her head back inside the treehouse. They both turned around to see a young women approaching them. A walker. She tried to grab Lee, but he pushed her back into the stove. Dominic hesitated, glancing from Lee to the walker, to Lee again. No, he can't die. Dominic rushed towards the walker, giving it a hesitant kick in the face, hoping that would be enough, but he had no idea how much force he'd have to put into it, jumping back as the walker fumbled back onto it's feet. It lunged, knocking Dominic down onto the ground with a painful thud. Lee attempted to force the walker off of Dominic, knocking both him and the walker off balance. He tried to choke it to no avail; it only gave him the challenge of avoiding its teeth. Lee kicked the walker away, retreating to the living room; his back to the sliding door. Dominic struggled to get up, his legs swimming with paralysis as he watched a life or death struggle before his eyes. He fought, but could only watch as the walker crawled on top of Lee, trying to bite him.
Lee saw a small figure by the sliding door; Clementine, shaking with fear, a hammer in hand, "Here!" She squealed.
Lee reached out and grabbed the hammer from her hands, turning around just in time to kick the walker off in the face, knocking it off him. He lunged, knocking it to the ground, and repeatedly smashed the walker's face in, until it stopped moving. He felt vomit rising in his throat as he gazed down at the walker's face, blood pouring out like water. Panting, he turned to look at the frightened Clementine, and the wild-eyed Dominic.
"Holy shit, dude…" The younger boy sighed.
"Swear," the girl said sternly to Dominic, which the boy giggled at.
"Thanks for the help," Lee told Clementine, reaching out his hand as Dominic helped him back onto his feet.
"Did… did you kill it?" She squeaked, looking down at the young women he just killed.
"I think something else killed her, before me," he guessed, barely hearing Dominic's mutter of "Fucking zombies…" behind him.
Ignoring his whispers, Clementine added, "I heard her scream two nights ago, maybe one of the monsters got her."
"Sure seems that way," Lee whispered before getting down on a knee, "You've been all by yourself through this?"
"Yeah. I want my parents to come home now." She mumbled, looking towards the ground
Lee and Dominic exchanged a glance before turning back to Clementine, the older man adding, "Yeah… I think that might be a little while, you know?."
Dominic knelt down beside Lee and put a hand on Clementine's shoulder while she continued to look down at her feet, "Look, we don't know what happened. But we'll look after you until then." He watched her eyes, silently wishing he had prepared for this moment before this.
She looked around, feeling a little better, then asked, "What should we do now?"
Dominic turned to Lee, given that this was his forte, "I think we should go find some help before it gets dark," the older man replied.
"I agree, it's safer to move about while it's still daylight outside," Dominic stood up, peering out of the door and into the woods behind the house. The sounds of walkers moaning still surrounded them in the distance. He turned back to Lee, "The yard looks clear, perhaps we can escape the way I came in?"
"Sounds like a plan," Lee agreed, Clementine grabbing his hand, "Let's go."
Dominic shuddered as they walked; he was walking next to Lee and Clementine in the zombie apocalypse; the thought raced through his mind like an endless loop.. Even though he had to live in a perilous world, and a gut-wrenching one at that, he had two of his favorite characters to watch his back, and he would make sure to watch theirs'. Maybe he could save Lee from dying? Or Carley? He could change events, and make the world better, the thoughts and ideas were never ending.
But would saving Lee really make the world better? It's a very important lesson for Clem later on… But perhaps she could still become strong even if he survives? Dominic couldn't answer that. As the Doctor would say, Lee's death may be a fixed point in the timeline. He could try to change it all he wants, but it's likely he would die anyway, whether he saves Lee from getting bit or not.
They rounded the corner, and stopped when they saw two men trying to push a car out of the way. They didn't noticed the trio behind them, just within the gates of Clementine's yard. They stopped pushing for a moment, the taller one groaning, "Man, I ain't never gettin' home to mama at this rate."
Clementine tugged on Lee's hand, causing him to look back at her, "What's the matter?"
"Should I stay?" She asked him, looking down at the ground again shyly.
"I don't want to sleep in the treehouse tonight, but I don't know if I should leave. What if my parents come home?" She glanced at her house, certainly uncertain.
Dominic knelt down and patted her on the shoulder, adding softly, "We won't leave you alone."
She smiled, it was the first time he had seen her smile since they met her, "Let's go somewhere safe that's close, okay," she suggested.
"That's a good idea," Lee replied, standing up once again, and opened the gate that Dominic had jumped over when he first arrived, the walkers he'd originally found nowhere to be seen.
"Hey, man!" Lee called over to the two men pushing the cars, causing them to turn around and look at them.
"Holy shit! Don't eat us!" The taller one pleaded, waving his hands around, shaking.
"We're not going to hurt you," Dominic assured, trying to calm them down.
"Phew, thought for a second you two and the little one were all going to give us the chomp," the shorter man replied, chuckling and relieved.
"Do you know what the hell this is?!" Lee found himself asking, still trying to make sense of the situation, and hoping they had a logical reason.
"No idea. So you've seen them then?" The shorter man asked, raising an eyebrow.
"We've done more than just see them," Dominic chipped in quietly, folding his arms around his chest.
"Nice shirt," The shorter man complimented, which made Dominic smile in response.
"I'm Shawn, Shawn Greene," The short man introduced, walking over to the trio and shaking hands.
"I'm Lee. This is Dominic. And this one," Lee pointed to the little girl, "is Clementine."
The taller one gets down on one knee and waves at the little girl, smiling, "I'm Chet."
Clementine smiled before hiding behind Lee and Dominic, who puts a hand on her shoulder for comfort, hoping that the gesture would make her a little more outgoing with their new friends.
"We shouldn't be out in the open like this. How about you help us clear the way and we'll take you two and your daughter out of here, and down to my family's farm. It should be safer there," Shawn offered, glancing at the task at hand.
"I'm not her dad… we're… just some guys," Lee stuttered, trying to explain the situation as best he could, without revealing the fact he was in a police car not too long ago.
"Some guys?" Shawn echoed, his eyebrow raising, a frown etching across his face.
"Yeah," Dominic explained, "We're taking care of her until we can find her parents."
"Oh," Shawn said, looking down at the little girl with sadness in his eyes, "Let's get going. Staying put for too long is a mistake."
It had gotten dark by the time they hit the road. Dominic and Lee had to help their new friends push the car out of the way quickly when more walkers showed up to the scene. Now, Chet and Dominic sat quietly in the back of the pickup truck, watching the street lights go by. The trees passing by like statues, and acres filling in any landscape gaps.
"So how'd ya meet them two?" Chet asked, finally breaking the silence.
"Well, I saved Lee's life by helping him over the fence and into Clementine's backyard. He was being chased by a shit-ton of those things," Dominic started, replaying the events of the day in his head, "We met Clementine shortly after we tried finding help inside of her house. Her babysitter was dead, turned into one of them. Lee had to kill it to save everyone." Yup, that sums it up.
"Must'a been exciting. I'd rather stay the hell away from 'em if I can," Chet chuckled before offering Dominic a beer from a pack he had in the flatbed. Dominic accepted it without question. At least, in this new world, being nineteen didn't mean shit anymore, but after his first gulp from the can, he half-wanted to give Chet the drink back. It was warm, and tasted like shit.
"I forgot how terrible beer tastes. No offense," Dominic groaned between making disgusted faces. This made Chet roar in laughter at the younger man.
"It tastes like shit, but sure can make a bad day better!" The man roared happily. Out of the corner of their eyes, they saw a particular farmhouse surrounded by a fence, "Looks like we've made it to Shawn's place," Chet cheered.
Once they had parked the truck within the fence, everyone hopped out, the newcomers examining their surroundings carefully. Towards the edge of the property, a red barn stood in the evening light. In the center was a two story home covering the property. Grass stretched for acres, with a cow pen on the east side, followed by a tractor beside the fence.
"Hey, Shawn… I'm a' run on home. My mama's gonna be in a snit," Dominic overheard Chet say, but he didn't listen in on the conversation. He remembered this farm very well from both the game and the TV show. It almost brought back flashbacks from the show through his head, before he heard Lee behind him.
"Let's go inside, I really need to get this leg looked at." He grunted as he tried inspecting it on his own, but failed horribly as pain shot up his nerves.
"On that, we can agree," Dominic replied, concerned for his newfound friend. They both turned to look at the farmhouse as an older man stepped out, looking at his son with relief.
"Thank God, you're okay."
"I was worried it'd be bad here, too," Shawn admitted, hugging his father.
"Been quiet as usual the past couple days. Ol' Breckon down the way thinks his mare's gone lame but that ain't nothing new."
"I wouldn't have made it back without Chet," Shawn added softly, happy that he and his friend were able to get out of Atlanta alive.
"Well, I'm glad you took him with you then," his father said, before turning his attention to the three strangers now on his farm, eying them. "You've brought a couple guests."
"Your boy's a lifesaver," Lee injected.
"Glad he could be of help to somebody," the older man muttered, "So… it's just you two, and your daughter then?" The older man glanced between the two men and the young girl, raising his nose.
Shawn piped in, correcting his father, "Oh, not his daughter, they're… well… just some guys who found her alone."
The older man's eyebrow raised slightly before getting down on one knee and questioning Clementine, "Honey, do you know these men?"
Clementine hesitated. She didn't know much about these two, but she liked them, even if the younger one had a potty-mouth on him, "Yes," she squeaked.
"Okay, then," he stated, turning his attention back to the two men, finally noticing Lee's leg, "Well, looks like you hurt your leg pretty bad there," he deadpanned.
Lee nodded slightly, wincing, "Yeah… it's not doing so good."
The older man nodded in understanding, "I can help you out. Shawn, run on in and check on your sister. You," He looked back at Lee, "take a seat up on the porch and I'll go see what I have. And you," his eyes rested upon Dominic, "come with me. I'll need some help grabbing the supplies."
"Okay," Dominic agreed, following the man inside to the medicine cabinet. He stopped suddenly and turned around to look at the boy, narrowing his eyes, slowly looking over him from head to toe.
"How much do you know about that man?" He questioned, staring at Dominic like a scolding parent.
"We only met today. But he's a good man, if that's what you're asking." Dominic shifted his footing uncomfortably as he listened to the man.
"It's not. I don't know who he is or what he's done, but something about him just rubs me the wrong way," He admitted, glancing at the door before getting the supplies he needed to fix up Lee's leg.
"He's a good man; saved my life, and the girl's. We wouldn't be here without him, and he probably wouldn't be here without me." Dominic thought, curious as to why Hershel was always judging Lee.
Nodding, the older man walked back outside to where Lee was sitting on a bench, gazing down at his hurt leg. He shook his head slightly at Clementine, who leaned against the railing and peered up at the sky, before finally tending to Lee.
"Let's have a look…" He sighed as he grabbed Lee's leg, examining the bloodied wound, "Yeah, this is swollen to hell."
"It hurts like hell," Lee groaned, holding back pained grunts from the older man's prodding of the wound.
"I bet it does," He chuckled before adding, "What'd you say your name was?"
"Nice to meet you, Lee," he said, keeping his eye on the wound, "I'm Hershel Greene."
As he bandaged up the leg, Hershel asked, "How'd this happen?" A concerned look etching over his face.
Lee exchanged a look with Dominic before stating, "Car accident."
"That so. Where were you headed? Before the car accident," Hershel prodded.
"I was getting out of Atlanta," Lee spoke, not really wanting to talk about it.
"The news says stay," he muttered, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah, well that's a mistake," Dominic chimed in, making Hershel look back at him.
"And what's your name, son," he barked.
"Dominic," the boy stated, crossing his arms.
"You don't sound like you're from around here," He added, gazing at the boy, "and you're in your pajamas. Where are you from," he charged, eying everything he could.
"Born in Texas. Been living in Ohio for the past couple of months now. Now I'm down here in Georgia, visiting family. I didn't really have time to change when this all started," He lied, not wanting to go into detail about how he actually got there. He didn't know how he actually got there in the first place.
"Uh huh," he muttered, before turning back to Lee.
"We hit a guy," Lee added, "One of those things you've been hearing about, on the road."
"Who were you with, the girl?" He pestered.
"No, I…" Lee's voice trailed off, trying to figure out what to say.
"He was with me. We met up in Atlanta when it all went down, I pulled his ass out of the car accident when we crashed. We were with my uncle, who died in the accident…" Dominic lied for him, hoping that Hershel was buying it.
He heard Clementine mutter "Swear," and instantly apologized, turning back to Hershel.
"Sorry to hear that," he muttered, staring at the boy, "but you left the city, in your PJ's?" Hershel questioned, suspicion seething in his voice.
"Like I said, I didn't exactly have a lot of time to change when it all went down," Dominic pressed, sarcasm seeping into his tone.
"Is that so?" Hershel sneered, "Anyway, house is full up with mine. We've got another displaced family of three sleeping in the barn. You three are welcome to rest there, when we're done here," He turned around to look at Clementine asked gently, "I didn't catch your name, darlin'."
"Clem… Clementine," she muttered shyly. She could tell that Dominic and Lee were lying about being together when it all started, but she didn't want to contradict what they were saying and cause trouble.
"Can't imagine what you've been through, Clementine," he said, pouting for her.
"More than any other eight year old has been through before," Dominic muttered to himself, barely audible to everyone else.
"We're looking after her until we find her parents," Lee added, reassuring Hershel that they had good intentions.
A second later, Shawn walked out the farmhouse door, cutting into their conversation, "Hey dad, so I'm thinking, first thing tomorrow, we gotta reinforce the fence around the farm."
Hershel shook his head, "That doesn't seem necessary," refusing to believe that whatever is happening would make its way to his farm.
"I don't know what you saw on TV, or heard on the radio, but there's some…" He glanced back at Clementine and Dominic before adding, "serious shit hitting the fan."
Clementine said nothing, which made Dominic scoff, "Oh, so he gets to swear."
"I don't think anyone knows how big it is yet," Shawn added, after Dominic's brief interruption.
"Your son's right. You're going to want to fortify this place," Lee concurred, trying to be helpful..
"And fortify it well, I doubt a simple fence will keep them out for long," Lee heard Dominic grumble.
"Stuff like that doesn't happen around here, Shawn," Hershel settled, shrugging off their comments.
"Dad, I'm serious. Guys, come on, tell him what you saw out there!" Shawn looked desperately at the two men, praying they'd save him from the embarrassment.
"I got chased by a couple of dead people," Lee added, trying to get Hershel to see the error of his ways.
"And I've nearly gotten eaten twice now," Dominic interjected, hating how stubborn Hershel could be; it would be the downfall of his farm.
Finally, he gave in.
"Well, do what you think you should. We've got plenty of chores as it is," Hershel declared, mentally throwing his hands up.
"These guys and those folks in the barn can help out in the morning. We gotta do it, really," Shawn insisted, eagerness filling his eyes..
"I already said okay," Hershel groaned, annoyed by his son's persistence, "Well, Lee. I'm all done here. It should start to feel better tomorrow." He patted the leg, either for good luck or to encourage irritation, Lee couldn't tell.
"Thanks," He mumbled.
"If your leg gets hot or the swelling doesn't go down; you're probably dealing with an infection," Hershel stated.
"I'm sure he'll be fine," Dominic muttered, knowing full well he will be.
"What do we do then? If I don't get better?" Lee asked, curious, as medicine was not exactly his forte.
"We'll probably just have to shoot you," Hershel cheered, which earned him a lot of scared looks from the guests.
He sighed, before adding, "We'll clean it, re-dress it, and you'll be fine."
"Okay, that'd be preferable," Lee settled.
"I don't know, man. I'd love to see him-" Dominic started, laughter breaking at his lips.
"Dominic…" Lee scolded.
"Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood here," Dominic defended, instantly regretting his previous joke.
"Anyway," Hershel interrupted, "There's blankets and such in the barn. We'll be seeing you bright and early. Come tomorrow, which way you think you're headed?"
"Towards Macon, I guess," Lee shrugged. He had no idea where to go really, but anywhere that wasn't Atlanta was preferable.
Hershel nodded in understanding and headed back into the house, giving Clementine a short nod before disappearing inside.
"I suppose we should go sleep now. I'm beat," Dominic finished, looking down at Clementine, "Let's go, Clem."
Dominic and Clementine trodded off, Lee shortly behind them. He still didn't understand why the boy tried to lie for him. He doesn't even know who Lee is, or what he did. Either the kid is extremely naive, or knew more about him than he lets on. He decided not to dwell on it too much as they reached the barn and stepped inside. Three blankets and pillows lay down on the barn floor, ready and waiting for the new arrivals.
Once they were in bed, Dominic heard Clementine mumble, "It smells like…"
"Manure," The two older men said at the same time, before looking at each other.
"Jinx, man," Dominic laughed.
"Manure? Like when a horse… plops?" Clementine asked.
"Just like that," Lee chuckled, closing his eyes. It had been a long day, and he was just glad to finally be getting some sleep.
"I miss my mom and dad," He heard her say from beside him, a wave of sadness coming across her like a storm over the sea.
"I bet, Clem," was all that he could say.
"Anyway guys, we should head off," Dominic finally added, laying on his side, looking over at Clementine and Lee beside him.
"Yeah, big day tomorrow," Lee agreed before closing his eyes again.
Dominic's thoughts resided with his old life as he tried to fall asleep. He missed it already; his best friends, his apartment, his mother. He missed that life so much. He found himself wondering if anyone would even notice he was gone. Images of missing person posters stamped throughout his city flew through his head; his mother's grieving face; his friends crying, thinking that he was dead. He stifled a cry as he rolled over on his side, only to be bombarded by more thoughts. A tear forced its way out and onto his face, before dropping onto the soft blanket he slept on.
His thoughts were interrupted when Lee let out a quiet, terrified "Gah!"
"Bad dream?" Dominic asked quietly, trying to avoid waking up Clementine.
Dominic decided not to comment on it, instead he found himself falling asleep quicker than he ever had before. A smile rested upon his face, because he knew that tomorrow is a new day, and he got to meet Clementine and Lee. Silently he found himself wishing that this really wasn't a dream; that he wouldn't just wake up again in his bed in Ohio. This was his chance to set things right in this new universe, and he wasn't going to waste it.