The Road To Savannah
Author's Notes: Spoiler alert: This is a long ass chapter. It was a wild ride writing this one xD
"You're such a dork," Lee heard Clementine giggle as he entered the lone boxcar, slowly closing the door behind him. Dominic and Clementine dangled their feet out of the boxcar as if they were sitting in the bed of a truck, feeling the rush of the wind against their legs as they sped down the track.
"Well, someone's gotta think about this stuff," Dominic shrugged and laughed, his eyes focused on the little girl beside him, "It's the best theory I've got so far."
"What are you two talking about?" Lee's voice rang from the shadows as he sat down next to them, immediately admiring the passing landscape.
"I told her the secret," Dominic chirped in a cheerful tone, "I've been trying to figure it all out."
Lee raised an eyebrow as he looked over the cheerful stranger beside him. Even his expression appeared different, as if this wasn't the same man he knew hours earlier. He was laughing, smiling, and joking with Clementine.. Two people had died not that long ago, and it seemed as if the boy had already moved on. Taking a deep breath, Lee hesitated, "Well? What's your theory then?"
"Well, I've got two potential theories," Dominic spoke, counting them off with his fingers as they formed in his mind. "One: There's some sort of crack in the universe, acting as a hole between my world and yours. Or two: I'm some sort of interdimensional time-traveler."
Lee stared at the boy in awe before noting in a neutral tone, "Those both sound pretty far-fetched."
"Well, this whole thing is pretty far-fetched when you think about it. Very Doctor Who." Dominic shrugged as his eyes returned to the passing trees and fields. "There's no way to know for sure, but how cool would it be? Being able to go anywhere, anytime, thanks to some dimensional crack or some unknown ability."
Silence split between the trio as Lee continued to stare at the young boy before chuckling. "Clem's right, you are a dork."
Dominic smiled deviously, looking at the older man, "and proud of it."
Silence continued to spread as Lee pondered this moment. Dominic is managing all that's happened well… too well. What if he's ignoring it? Bottling it up? . Lee turned and gave Clementine a small smile before gazing over the trees again, still seeing the current situation in his mind. What if he's filling the gap? Instead of mourning: science fiction? The same boy that broke down in front of him hours earlier, was now here thinking up theories on how he got here, instead of remembering Katjaa and Duck.
"What happened?" Lee found himself asking suddenly to Dominic, whose eyebrows rose in response.
"What do you mean?" Dominic questioned, startled by Lee's abrupt curiosity..
"A few hours ago, you were on the verge of tears, just like everyone else, now you seem, well, normal." Lee clarified, glancing again at the boy next to him.
"I'm still upset, Lee," Dominic sighed as his expression flipped like a switch from happiness to guilt, "Everyone has to move on eventually…. and this isn't any different. When Mark and Larry died… I ceased to function. I murdered. I let my emotions get the better of me…" He kicked his feet back and forth as he spoke, his eyes now fixed on the tracks running beneath their feet, instead seeing the bodies of all whom had perished in the last few months because of his arrogance. Their imaginary headstones filled his vision. "For the longest time, I thought that death didn't affect me. When family died, I didn't cry, or get sad. I felt numb, just, completely numb from it all. Hell, even when my grandmother died when I was twelve, it didn't really affect me. Now, things are different. Death is different. Instead of a family member simply passing away, I get to see people I care about, people I've spent months trying to protect, die. And then I realize, it's all my damn fault. I knew Mark and Larry were going to die, and despite my best efforts, I couldn't save them. Then Duck got bit, and Katjaa…" He glanced at Clementine, a tear running down his cheek as he watched his words, "Well, you get the point, Lee. I've let grief overwhelm me before, but I can't afford to anymore. Not if I want to keep Clem and everyone else safe. So if I seem a little bit overjoyed, I'm really not."
Lee heard himself sigh as he patted the boy on the back, "Dominic, you've become the strongest man I've ever known. When I first met you, back in that backyard, I thought you were just some immature kid who'd barely last a day in the real world… You've proved me wrong." He gave younger man a small smile. "You've become something more. Your parents would be proud."
Dominic smiled back shyly. "Thanks Lee, that means a lot. I just... wish I could go back and fix everything, all the mistakes I've made."
"You wouldn't be you if you could," Lee replied, "Mistakes are what shape men into who they are. Without them, you'd be nothing."
Dominic shrugged, "I guess you're right. Things have just gotten out of hand these past few days." He let out a soft sigh before returning his gaze to the little girl beside him, who stared at the two men in amazement. "Now all we've got is a motley crew of depressed survivors, some of whom that don't share my optimism."
"Like who?" Lee asked.
"Well, Chuck for one. I walked in on him saying to Clementine that the same thing that happened to Duck, would happen to her. I wasn't particularly happy about that."
"What? The fuck he did." Lee cursed, both of their faces face twisting with anger.
From the other side of Dominic, Clementine little voice whispered, "Swear!"
He turned to look at her, saying "Sorry…" before turning back to Dominic, "I'm gonna go talk some sense into him."
"Go easy on him, Lee," Dominic insisted as he watched the older man stand up, "He's been on his own for God knows how long, so he may come off as a bit rude, but he does mean well."
"I know," Lee seethed, turning towards the door, "Stay here with Clem, I'll be right back."
Nothing quite compared to the feeling of the wind blowing past you, brushing every part of you as it rushed onward, to it's new destination. It was something Chuck loved whole-heartedly, perhaps more than anything else. Before the apocalypse, he simply enjoyed driving, the destination never mattered. It was the journey that made the trip, even the pit stops along the way filled his heart with joy. Now, despite all of the horrible events happening around him, Chuck embraced the wind once again, leaning against the railing on the front of the train, watching the world fly by. Nothing was more peaceful.
But peaceful moments always come and go in the blink of an eye. The harsh tone emanating from beside him proved that. "Hey!"
Chuck spun around to see Lee, who crossed his arms at the sight of the older man. Chuck greeted the younger man in a casual tone, "How ya doin'?"
"I don't care what reasons you had for doing it," Lee started, his tone growing more enraged with each passing syllable, "But there's NO reason to go and tell my girl she's gonna end up dead!"
Ah, that is what this is about. Chuck sighed, returning his gaze to the train tracks ahead of them, answering Lee's accusation flatly, "'Cause she is…" He looked back at the younger man, his usual smile falling into a deep frown, "I don't know much about you folks, but I can tell you, sure as the sun gon' come up tomorrow, that ya'll keep going on like this and that girl ain't gonna make it."
Lee threw his hands into the air as he resisted every urge to punch this old man in the face. His eyes towered over the older man, shooting daggers, "What do you know?"
"I know that you don't have a goddamn plan." He gazed at the younger man standing next to him as if he was just some naive child. "We get to Savannah and then what?" He stared over the younger man, his eyes remaining smooth as the tension twisted in the air.
"We find a boat," Lee spoke simply, relaxing his fingers once again.
He found himself planting his head into his hand as he shouted out, "You think that's a new idea? You got even the foggiest idea 'bout where you're gonna find one of those?" He sighed, exhausting breaths filling his palms before looking back at Lee, "Look, sit down with the girl and that boy and hash it out. Find a map for Christ's sake; I'd give you one if I had it. And if something were to happen to you…"
Lee's eyes narrowed, "It won't."
"If it were, you gotta prepare the girl. Teach her to use a weapon, and for criminy, cut that hair!" Chuck suggested, moving his gaze out into the forests.
"Like a gun? Are you kidding me?!" Lee stared at the man, exasperated. Is he serious?
"What? She's too young to handle one?" Chuck sighed, "There ain't too young, not anymore. You gotta consider her a living person. That's it. You're either living or you're not. You ain't little, you ain't a girl, you ain't a boy, you ain't strong or smart. You're alive." He paused for a brief moment, taking in the rumbling of the train around him, "Listen, I know you're close to that boy, but do you honestly believe that he could protect her in your absence? He's just a kid." He turned again to look at Lee, watching his reactions thoroughly.
"You're wrong." Lee shook his head as his voice pierced the peaceful rumbling of the train. "I trust Dominic with my life, and hers," He half-shouted, defending his friend.
"I hope for her sake, you're trusting the right boy," Chuck let out one final sigh, "But, just look at her hair. Find some scissors in my pack and take care of that hair before a walker does it for you. And then show her how to use a gun, because like it or not, that's what saves your life from here on out." After a few seconds passed, the wheels clacking onward was the only sound filling the atmosphere. Chuck sighed and added in a hushed whisper, stepping closer to Lee, "I don't mean to tell you how to do your job, but too many people have died already…" A painful gleam beat his worn eyes as he turned around one final time.
Lee's eyes fell as his thoughts filed through everyone they've lost so far; Mark and Larry at the St. John farm, Katjaa and Duck, their own families. Visions of meaningful bodies filled his mind as he whispered, "They have."
"And seein' another little girl die might… just do me in." Chuck whispered, his voice cracking as he turned away from Lee, his gaze panning through the trees.
"I hear you," Lee sighed, joining the man leaning against the railing, finally noticing the golden fields rushing past them. "A plan, a haircut and a gun. It's good advice." Maybe there's finally a future to look forward to.
Chuck shrugged, "It's something."
The lone boxcar filled the air with little squeaks and creases as the two shuffled about. Their feet continued to dangle loosely over the edge, the wind kissing their legs and the occasional debris brushing their ankles. As they traveled, the fields grew far and wide, to few and far between. Their favorite part was the sky; as the day went on, the clouds formed up above, from a deep yellowish tint to bright white. Beneath their hands, the wooden floor felt smooth on their skin, with tiny cracks scratching at the tips of their fingers. Rough stains filled the boxcar walls; rotting material, dried mold, and other unidentifiable stains. The place reeked of unimaginable horrors, only to be completely ignored with the group's current situation.
Dominic and Clementine sat on the edge, speaking and laughing, as if they had escaped the Hell they had grown accustomed knowing; almost nothing mattered as Dominic raised another question.
"Sooo… interdimensional time-traveler, or crack in the universe?" The young man laughed at his own ridiculous question as he gazed at the little girl for an answer.
Clementine let out a fake scoff, "You're making me choose?" Her eyes momentarily grew as she pondered the possibilities.
The smile said it all as he chuckled, "Yes."
"Uh…" She thought it over, trying to decide which one she'd want to have more, "time-traveler of course! It's more fun to control it!"
"'Atta girl," Dominic laughed as they heard the boxcar door creak open, revealing a calmer Lee stepping into the room.
"At it again, are we?" Lee asked as he sat with them again, resting his back against the cold wood.
"Maybe," Dominic shrugged with a mischievous smile.
"Did you talk to him?" Clementine asked from the other side of Dominic, wondering how Lee's conversation with Chuck had gone.
"I did, he had some, uh…" His voice trailed off as he scooted closer to the two, looking past Dominic and straight at Clementine, carefully phrasing his next sentence. "He explained himself and made some good points. Look, we're not going to let anything bad happen to you. But there are some precautions we have to take." He gave Dominic a serious gleam before returning his gaze towards the little girl.
Clementine nodded in simple understanding. "Okay, yeah, that makes sense."
"Don't worry, sweetheart," Lee soothed, hoping he didn't scare her as he patted her cap softly.
She smiled before asking, "Okay, what should we do?" She looked around quickly, as if the answer would appear out of thin air.
As she finished her sentence, Dominic slowly pushed himself to his feet. "I'm, uh, gonna go talk to Ben and Carley," He added before turning towards the door, laughing on his way out, "You guys have fun."
"Anyway," Lee sighed after Dominic closed the door behind him. He knows what I'm about to do, doesn't he? He sighed softly. Of course he does. "We're going to figure out a plan for when we get to Savannah, teach you how to protect yourself, and, uh, tidy you up a little so you can't get grabbed so easily." He hesitated as he spoke, silently praying she wouldn't be offended by his upcoming requests.
She smiled again, her eyes now beaming towards him. "I'd like that."
"Good." He sighed, looking out into the passing trees as if it was just a photo, virtually untouchable. "What a crappy day." His eyes focused on the little patches of brown plants that struggled to bloom in the wind, barely noticeable without constant effort as one passed by.
"The crappiest," Clementine agreed, giggling at her own choice of words.
He turned to look at her, his voice barely a whisper, "If three months ago, I'd have known what you'd be seein'... I don't know if I would've taken you with us."
"I probably would've run out of food," her face fell as the thought of her left alone in her treehouse surfaced in her mind.
"You damn near starved with me." He chuckled.
"I'm glad I came with you two," she admitted, forcing Lee's mouth to twitch up into a smile.
"Well, what do you think about Chuck?" He asked her, abruptly changing the subject.
"I don't know," She started; she didn't know much about the older man, but he was nice to her, despite what he said earlier, and he gave her candy. She liked Chuck, but she didn't know him well enough to trust him.
"Me neither," Lee conceded, his eyes glancing towards the boxcar door, knowing he stood feet away from the handles. "He might be an okay guy, though." He shrugged as the last few words eased from his mouth.
She gazed up at him, curious. "You think?"
"We'll keep an open mind about him; he's probably had it pretty rough."
He grabbed onto the boxcar as he hoisted himself up, taking a moment to collect himself before turning back towards Clementine. "You need to know how to protect yourself."
"Like hiding or running away? Got it." She chirped cheerfully as she stood next to him.
He took out his pistol and held it in front of her, letting her examine it closely. No sugarcoating today, damn you, Chuck. "I mean with one of these." He held it out to her, "First, don't be afraid of it. It's just a thing. Take it."She stared in awe at the big piece of metal in front of her. People die with these…
"But know where your finger is all the time," He continued as he cocked the pistol, the click piercing the air as if it were a megaphone, with the ability to break his heart at the same time. "And don't put it on the trigger unless you want to hurt somebody."
"Okay, okay…" She panted as she grabbed a hold of the pistol, feeling it's weight in her hands. It was much heavier than she expected, feeling more like a large rifle than a small pistol.
Lee crossed his arms and silently laughed as he watched her handle the gun, his eyes following her every move; her fingers lacing the handle with both hands, fingers no where near the trigger or the safety. "See, it's not that scary."
"It's heavy!" She groaned, forcing it to stay in her tiny hands.
"You'll get stronger," He sighed as he knelt down next to her, "To aim, you look right down the top, through that notch." He looked around the room as he spoke, spotting an old beer bottle abandoned in a corner along with several boxes and other bottles. He picked up the empty bottle, and shifted one of the old wooden boxes until he'd set up a mini shooting range, the metal wall acting as a catch. He set the bottle down and returned to Clementine, who was still examining this new tool in her hands. Lee stood behind her, and placed a hand on her aiming shoulder, and another on her right arm.
"Line up the site at the end with your target," he whispered, watching her fingers as she raised the pistol straight out and away from her.
She turned to look at him, "Is there anything else I should know?"
"I know these are just bottles," Lee suggested, "But you have to aim for the head."
"I know," she shivered slightly at the thought, "Only the head."
"Unless it's not a walker, and it's someone trying to hurt you," Lee finished, looking at the pistol in silence, his face contorting at the thought of someone getting to Clementine.
"...and then?" She whispered, nerves filling her body as her hands shook violently.
"Head or body. Anywhere." He pursed.
She shivered again as the images of unknown assailants ran through her imagination, "I… I don't want to think about that." Her eyes grew wide as the bottles seemed to glow an unfriendly hue in the sunlight, taunting her.
Lee sighed, realizing his mistake, "You're right, it might be a lot for your first day." He patted her shoulder softly before moving on, "You ready?"
"Yeah, I'm ready." She raised the barrel, Lee's hands silently guiding her along.
"Hey guys," Dominic greeted casually to Ben and Carley as he closed the boxcar door behind him, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he joined them by the railing, "Having fun out here in the wind?"
"We were just talking," Carley announced, shrugging slightly, "about you." she turned away from the teenager and greeted Dominic with compassionate eyes.
"Good things, I hope," Dominic smiled as he leaned against the railing opposite them, noticing the cool breeze hitting him from the front and side simultaneously.
"You were awesome when you saved Carley," Ben complimented, "I was too busy being scared shitless to see it coming." Ben stared at the floor after he spoke, raising his head only to meet him halfway.
"Thank you, Ben. Compliment accepted," Dominic gazed at the boy with a grin. A replay of the motor inn flashed through his mind; a fearful Ben screaming, a smack resounding as his face was full of tears. I guess he's over that now… Dominic honestly thought that Ben would be angry, but it seems like the boy had forgiven him.
"If it wasn't for you, Carley would be dead, and probably me, too." Ben muttered, shrugging as he met the man's eyes.
"I know, I'm badass," Dominic joked, sighing as his face fell, "I did what I had to do, nothing more. Like you." He stared at Ben, as if telling the boy that he knew his secret with his eyes.
"You…" He stuttered, his voice changing pitch as his eyes shot open wide, trying to make sense of the older boy's words, "You know?" He gasped.
Dominic turned to Carley, asking nonchalantly, "I'm assuming he told you." She slowly nodded as he turned back to Ben, "Yeah, I know. It was kinda obvious, given the way you were acting the past few days." She shrugged, looking the boy over as if another "secret" would spill from his clothes before returning Dominic's gaze.
"But…" Ben fumbled for the right words, heart racing as he tried to control his breathing, but his short gasp was cut off by Dominic's next phrase.
"I don't blame you, Ben." He stared into the boy, soothing his words with polite clarity. "If a group of bandits threatened to kill me if I didn't give them any supplies, I'd do the same as you. Just like any other human being would. But…" His voice trailed off, turning into a suspenseful whisper as he glanced towards the boxcar door, "You should tell Lee, 'cause I'm not going to tell him for you." His eyes changed with the tone, going from polite to serious in a few syllables.
"What if he kicks me out of the group?" Ben asked, fear and guilt pouring out of the poor boy's raspy voice.
"Don't worry," Dominic assured with a smile, "he won't."
The trio turned and watched as Lee went back and forth between the boxcar and the cabin through the small glass window in the door, silently discussing with himself everything that's happened so far. At first, Dominic thought he was meditating, for his eyes would close as he paced; a finger placed on the center of his forehead, but as he watched, the muttering tone from behind the looking glass changed, a deep rumble from beyond the wall. Lee suddenly disappeared, only to return a few minutes later from the cabin, clutching a map in his hand.
"Hey Lee," Carley's voice rang out as he walked by.
"Hey," He greeted softly, eyes leaving the paper in his hands and going to her before locking eyes with the two boys behind her.
Dominic patted Ben's back before saying, "Ben's got something to tell you."
Lee raised an eyebrow as the younger boy's eyes darted between Carley and Dominic before stepping forward, shaking as he stared into Lee's curious eyes. "It.." he stuttered, his eyes darting back at Carley and Dominic before pushing the secret out into the open. "It was me."
"What?" Lee stared at the boy in shock. He didn't… did he?
Ben's face fell as he locked eyes with Lee, "I was the one giving the bandits supplies…" His voice hushed into a mere whisper as he fleshed it out.
"WHAT?" He shouted, his eyes glowing red as the crumpled map was crushed in his hands. This entire time he thought that it was just some stranger stealing their supplies, but now he stared at the real culprit in exasperation.
The culprit laid his head in his hands, whispering his next words into them as if they were a pillow, "It's all my fault." The faint whine erupted from the pillow, spilling out onto the floor.
"What for? Why the hell would you do this?!" Lee screamed, the trio taking an abrupt step back as the rage filled the air, reverberating into the forest.
"They said they had my friend," Ben whimpered, shrinking away from Lee, "that he was with them…By the time I realized that they didn't, it was too late… they said they'd kill me. Kill all of us. I'm sorry, Lee." He looked at the furious man, his eyes now puffy and bloodshot, shaking as the tension only grew.
"Sorry?!" Lee growled, ready to chew out the boy, but stopped in his tracks as Carley's hand gently appeared on his shoulder.
"Lee…" She whispered, suddenly bringing his vision back to clarity, "He messed up, I know, but he's just a boy…"
"Yeah, and people died," Lee countered, his voice nothing but a faint murmur as he gripped the parchment tighter, slowly raising his eyes to the boy.
"Don't pin all of that on him," Carley insisted, caressing Lee's cheek to calm him down, "You can't blame him for something he couldn't control. He fucked up; he won't do it again." She glanced at the shaken kid, hope passing her eyes.
Lee's eyes locked with Dominic's, forcing the boy to mutter, "He won't do it again, I promise." Shock filled his face as the burning eyes found him.
Lee sighed and buried his head in his hands as he thought it all over. Can we really keep a traitor like Ben in the group? He'd just be a liability. "We…" he let out a deep breath before continuing, brushing his face off with his hands as he spoke. "We can't tell Kenny about it; he'd kill him."
As Ben's eyes grew wider, Dominic replied in a neutral tone, "He'll find out eventually, but I agree with you. We can't tell him about it, not just yet."
Ben slowly nodded in understanding as he realized his time might soon be up. Carley reached out to comfort him, embracing him in a hug. Dominic sighed, staring down at the folded piece of paper in Lee's hand, immediately wanting to change the subject. "Is that the map of Savannah then?"
"Yeah," Lee shrugged, giving it to Dominic to examine, "Looks like the train goes right through the city."
"If we can get this train into the city," Dominic countered, folding the map up and hopping over to the lone boxcar, "Let's get started then."
Dominic and Lee sat down with Clementine for what felt like the millionth time. The same old breeze and sunlight beamed off of their faces as their feet dangled in the wind. Admittedly, the train ride felt very peaceful to Dominic, but he was growing restless. All he's done since getting shot was sit around and talk as the group fell apart around him. Kenny has shrunk into himself, barely muttering a single word to anyone as baby pictures of a son that would never grow up, and family portraits of a wife he would never grow old with filled his conscience like venom. Chuck stared off into the distance, dreaming of better days when it was just him and the road. Ben was overcome by guilt and grief, huddled into a corner to mope while Carley comforted him, silently cursing Lilly for putting them into this mess in the first place. Then there was Dominic, Lee, and Clementine.
Lee tried his best to take control of the situation after Lilly's betrayal; Carley once told him that she prefered Lee to take over, yet he found himself wishing that he didn't. How could he keep all these people safe, with no home and no hope? This is what life has been reduced to: running every second of the day, hiding away in trains and motels, desperately trying to survive in a world overrun by the dead. It was Hell; nothing more, nothing less.
Clementine found herself wondering the same thing sometimes. She was only a little girl, what hope did she have of surviving if something happened to Dominic or Lee, or everyone else in her group? Could she take care of herself? She clung to the two men she first met three months ago because she was scared of the very idea of being alone. She spent several days by herself before they found her, she couldn't do it again. With the group going to ruin around her, she couldn't let them out of her sight, even if it came to her being in danger in the process.
Despite being happy on the outside, Dominic was dead on the inside. If a bullet wound wouldn't kill him, the guilt certainly will. One moment he was happy, the next, he'd break down and cry. He felt as if he was going insane. All of the weight he carried on his shoulders was finally crushing his spine and sanity. He had sown his mouth shut ever since he first stepped foot into this strange world. Yet, now the truth held between the seams tasted like bile and venom, slowly eating away at his heart and mind. Ultimately, everything that has happened was his fault alone, and everything that was to come The blood of four people were on his hands, and there was only going to be more. Some of it was simply expendable, but most of the crimson muck was personal. Dominic never liked Larry, but he had grown close to Mark before he died. Mark had given him his favorite knife on a hunting trip months ago, but it felt like years to Dominic. Now Dominic stared at that same knife in his hands, now riddled with cuts and knicks; blood stained the knife a barely visible crimson, a color he now knew by heart. This prized possession was his only connection to his old ally, but now only served a single purpose: to kill. Dominic wondered if this is all he was now: a murderer? A psychopath with two deadly weapons: a knife, and foreknowledge. He wasn't sure which one soaked him in more blood.
This world has turned him into nothing but a murderer; a self-righteous killer. All of the blood he spilt poured into his conscience, filling him with unbearable dread. It was enough for Dominic to want to die; enough for him to rid himself of the guilt and pain of what he has done. Yet, as he pictured the glorious weapon in his cold, rotted hands; he couldn't. No matter how badly he wanted to end this nightmare, he could never force himself to do it. He was weak, which disgusted him more than any walker could; it was a blessing and a curse.
Dominic, however, was unaware of the tears pouring down his face, or his white knuckles from clutching the knife in his fingers as if it was a lifeline, or the blood seeping out of the thin cut on his palm, or even how Lee gazed at him like an upset father.
"Guys," Dominic barely heard Lee's voice over his own internal monologue, "I want to talk about Savannah."
Clementine's voice forced him out of his stupor. "Me, too."
Dominic raised his bloodshot eyes as Lee spoke, brushing the crimson fluid off onto the wooden floor nonchalantly. "And what we're going to do when we get there," Lee continued, pulling out the map and placing it flat on the floor between him and Clementine, Dominic gazing at it over the girl's shoulder, "We don't know what to expect, the city could be bad or totally under control. The thing is…" He exchanged soft glances between the two younger survivors before continuing, "We're a team, you know? And a team needs a plan."
Dominic stared at the map as if it was some vile thing. Savannah was the final resting place for many of their group: Ben, Lee, Chuck (and Carley if he wasn't careful.) This was a city of the damned. His stomach ached as he realized the danger he was allowing to be set in motion. He gazed up at Lee, knowing that he wasn't going to be happy with Dominic's response.
"Lee, no offense," He stuttered, his voice cracking as if he was about to cry again, "The best plan is to not enter the city at all. I'm telling you now, that city's a death trap."
"But it is our only chance at finding a boat," Lee countered.
"We…" Dominic sighed as he realized just how fucked up the situation has become, "We should just escape into the countryside, Lee. Let Kenny try to find his goddamn boat, but I'm not risking your lives for a hopeless cause."
"You want to leave the group?!" Lee stared, his jaw dropping to the floor, "Who the hell are you?!" His eyes frantically searched the young man over, as if he'd see a switch to turn off his mad rambling for good.
"A boy trying to save the only people in this world he cares about!" Dominic shouted back, his heart beating faster as his breathing became shorter, the pores opening on his veins.
"We can't leave them, Dominic, you know that," Lee whispered, reaching out for the boy, who shrunk away from him, "Would you just let them die? Kenny, Chuck, Carley?"
"Then just bring her with us!" Dominic muttered, "Once we enter that damned city, it won't be easy to get everyone out alive. I just don't want anything to happen to you or Clem!" His lips quivered as the bodies of everyone piled in his head.
"There must be another way, Dominic! You know you don't want to abandon this group!" Lee begged, his eyes crossing from shock to a tender plea for help, but the boy's eyes fell to the ground, avoiding Lee's like a lost cause. Clementine stared at both of them wild-eyed, shrinking back into a small shell, too scared to speak.
"I don't know, Lee," Dominic breathed as he stared out into the dead forest, the old fields of grass and flowers now glistening with rotted roots and pale carcasses of greenery as the temperature dropped. "I don't know what I want anymore." His breath sank into a helpless whimper, reality biting his tongue.
"We're not abandoning the group, Dominic," Lee finally stated, his tone forwarding from bewilderment to fatherly concern. "You may say you want to, but I know you don't. With your help, we can get everyone out of Savannah alive."
"God, I hope you're right, Lee," Dominic muttered before lowering his gaze to his dangling legs. Clementine stared at them both in shock, hardly believing the conversation she just witnessed.
Lee opened his mouth, searching for the right words to comfort Dominic's tortured soul, but stopped when the screeching of the brakes pierced the air, sending everyone's eyes to the pilot's cabin; Kenny's voice barely registered over the deafening screeches, "SHIT, HOLD ON EVERYBODY!" Lee grabbed Clementine's shoulder instinctively, supporting her against the sudden deceleration, while Dominic continued to stare at the ground, a broken mess.
"Do you hear that?" Omid asked his girlfriend as they stepped closer to the bridge, the brown railing of false security torn with a tanker dangling from the rails, hovering like a threatening disaster over the train tracks. Abandoned cars and littering debris surrounded the couple. A screeching noise rang out from below, growing in intensity with each passing second.
"Is that a train?" Christa questioned from beside him, stopping abruptly in their trot.
"God, I hope it's a train. How cool would that be? A working train!" Omid cheered as he ran forward, straight towards the bridge, Christa dragging in tow. Gravel crunched under their feet as the sun beat down on them with a mighty rein. The clear sky kissed their eyes as they dropped to the tracks. Below, a black train eased to a stop just a few feet from the tanker, seconds away from blowing the entire scene to smithereens.
They watched as a group hopped off the train, every single one of them staring at the dangling tanker in defeat. A man in a brown cap with a moustache screamed out, "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! FUCK! FUUUUUUCK!"
"Whoa," Omid whispered, exchanging a saddened glance with his girlfriend, "He's not happy."
"Obviously," Christa deadpanned, her eyes turning to snakes. "Come on, we should get moving, before they see us."
From below, they heard another voice call out, "Maybe we could walk?"
"That's fucking stupid, Ben," The man that had shouted earlier muttered.
"I'm just sayin'..." A defeated whisper ushered from the boy.
"Ben," Another boy sighed. "Please just shut up."
Omid turned to his girlfriend, a gleam of hope in his eyes, his voice just as jubilant, "Listen, we need to find a group, for when you have the baby."
"No, we don't," Christa argued, "We're fine by ourselves, and these guys don't sound that friendly." She peaked at the angry hick before returning Omid's gaze.
A deeper voice spoke beneath them, piquing Omid's interest, "I ain't got much experience with y'all's fortitude, but we could probably deal with that. We got a goddamn train!"
"That thing's not full of milk, Charles," The first man spat, "That's gas or diesel; something that's gonna explode."
"You gotta get ahold of yourself," the man named Charles spoke simply, "This is a crew here."
"This ain't shit!" came another shout.
Christa tugged on Omid's arm, bringing him back to her attention. "Come on, honey. We really should go…"
"We should help them," Omid suggested, ignoring his girlfriend's command, "Who knows, maybe they are nice."
As he approached the edge of the bridge, Christa hissed, "Omid!"
"Yo, you keep screaming like that and you're gonna get your face chewed off!" Omid called down to the strange group.
Christa sighed, realizing now she couldn't walk away anymore. She strolled to her boyfriend and yelled down, "Are you guys going to be trouble? Because we could've just kept walking."
"No, we're friendly!" A black man called out from beside the man in the cap, he turned to the man next to him as his hand raised, saying, "Put your hand down, Ken."
Christa shrugged, "That's what everybody says." She hollered.
"We know," The black man stated simply.
"Let's give these guys a break," Omid whispered to his girlfriend, watching the black man's movements.
"We'll see," She muttered in a neutral tone.
Omid turned back to the group below them, "You guys got a problem with your train?"
"Yeah," The baseball capped man muttered, "you're standing right in front of it." A smirk appearing on his face.
"Dude, it's a wreck," Omid added, gazing at the wrecked tanker beside him, "It's not so bad from up here. Send your buddy up to have a look."
The two men exchanged a few words before the black man walked towards a ladder attached to one of the bridge's supports.
"I don't know, Omid. They don't seem all that trustworthy," Christa whispered, her eyes jotting from the man with the cap to the guy with the overly messed up gray hair.
Omid shrugged, "you just don't want to be in a group again; they seem alright to me." His eyes pleaded with hers as he turned back towards the group.
They gazed down as the man reached the ladder, stopping shortly as he looked up and muttered under his breath. "If I come up there, you better not be murderers or thieves."
"I guess you'll have to find out," Christa deadpanned, a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"Come on Christa, a group of guys is what we need," Omid pleaded to Christa, an apology itching in his eyes.
"They're what you think we need," Christa shot back, staring at her lover. "We're doing fine."
"For now," Omid sighed, "What about when…?"
"Stop it," Christa lectured as the strange man reached the top of the ladder.
The man wore a tattered blue shirt, half unbuttoned at the top, revealing a white undershirt ridden with dirt and debris. His beige jeans looked well, yet noticeably worn. The older man's face looked sunken in, as if he hadn't eaten in a few days. His beard looked trimmed, but bushed when compared to the rest of his cheeks. He stood tall, confident yet humble before the younger ones. His arms varied of different bruises and cuts, his legs were no exception. He seemed alright, as alright as Christa could accept.
"Hey dude," her boyfriend greeted him, "I'm Omid." He stuck out his arm graciously, reaching for the older man's.
"Lee," The taller man sighed, reaching out to shake his hand.
"Christa," She added, her eyes darting to the black hunk of metal. "What's the deal with the train?"
Lee shrugged, "We're driving it." His hands itching the back of his neck as he spoke.
"Oh, man!" Omid shouted in glee, his eyes bulging with the excitement.
Lee's face fell as he let out a long breath, "Look, you want to help us out? We could use some able bodies and…" His voice trailed off as he realized the severity of his plea, "yeah, we really need some help." He stared into the two new faces; hope stood before him, as scrutiny pierced him with the other.
"What's in it-" Christa started before a movement caught her eye, a young girl peeked over the edge, clinging onto the ladder.
"Oh shit!" Omid cheered, "Goddamn, you guys have a kid!" Giggles erupted from his mouth as he inched closer to the ladder, ecstatic to meet the little person.
"What are you doing up here?" Lee asked the girl once she joined them on the road. The little girl hurried towards Lee, a white and blue ball cap covering her head, with little strips of curly black hair poked out in two tied bunches. She wore a large red hoodie, with the word 'Brooklyn' stenciled on the front. A black skirt fell underneath the hoodie's rim, going down past her knees. Her sneakers screamed worn as they stomped on the asphalt.
"Do you know how long it's been since I've seen a kid?!" Omid asked happily, gazing at the little girl as if she was the most interesting thing he's seen all week, "Shit! What's your name?"
The girl hid behind Lee, a smile soon sneaking onto her face as she mumbled in a soft voice, "Clementine."
"Oh, so he gets the swear?" Lee said sarcastically, repeating Dominic's words from three months ago as a smile erupted on his face.
"Well this is great!" Omid cheered, admiring the little girl and turning to his girlfriend, "See, things are looking up!"
She ignored his comment as she gazed at the two, "You're not her dad." Her menacing eyes roaming towards Lee. "He down there?"
"It's that obvious?" Lee inquired, bowing his head.
"To me," She stated, eyes still fixed on him.
"And no, he's not down there." He muttered.
"Hmm. What's your story?" Christa asked, her eyes cutting through him, searching for the truth within his guilty corpse.
"I came across Clementine alone the first day all of this happened," Lee started, patting the little girl's hat, "We've been together ever since." He sighed as he returned his eyes to the snake that interrogated him.
"And everybody down there," Christa pointed towards the group below, each wandering about, examining their surroundings. "They're cool?" Her eyebrows raised as she glanced at each one individually, criticizing each one meticulously; opinions confirmed.
"Well," Lee gazed at each member of the group, "We just met Chuck. He's okay. Ben, the teenager in the hoodie, well, he's young and stupid," he silently laughed at his own joke, moving on to the next teen. "Dominic was with me when we found Clementine. He's a good kid, but got shot yesterday by our last leader." The latter part of his phrase drowned as he remembered that fatal night. "Carley's… interesting." His lips curled as he described her. "She's been giving me advice since day one. And…" He swallowed the lump coalescing in his throat. "Kenny lost his wife and kid…"
"Ouch, how long ago?" Omid moaned, his tone instantly changing from glee to sadness.
"What time is it?" Lee mumbled, eyeing Omid thoughtfully..
"Uh, I don't know. Uh, four?" He guessed, dipping his hands into his pockets, as if he would suddenly have a watch spring out.
"Maybe two hours ago," Lee finished.
"Goddamn…" Christa whispered. She hung her head, as if in mourning of the passing mother and son she would never know. She imagined herself in Kenny's shoes; she couldn't. She would be lost without Omid, and devastated if her baby died after birth… That's so sad…
"We're sorry for anything that's happened to you guys," Omid apologized, a small lump evident in his throat. "That train is awesome, though." He eyed the pitch-black machine with excitement.
"That tank is your real problem," Christa added, her tone softer after the newfound knowledge had sunk in. "We'll help you with it, but if we see anything we don't like, we're moving on down the road. Alone." She glared at Lee, her eyes conveying her message.
"We'd appreciate the help," Lee credited, a genuine smile blossoming as he nodded at Christa..
"You can't just blast through it, I guess," Omid laughed, eyeing the tanker, fear and excitement combining in his heart.
"If you could get it down, the rest would probably be pretty easy," Christa stated, shrugging her shoulders as they all stared at the eighteen wheeler, Clementine still clutching to Lee's leg.
Lee nodded, "We'll start there."
Christa smiled, feeling that this group may just work out. "We'll come down and settle in, and see if we can help."
Just beyond the bridge, a building stood full of rots and cobwebs of the apocalypse; an abandoned train station. The tracks running past stood bare, the wood with pierced splinters, and cracks seeping into the metal bars. The building looked as if it belonged in a horror movie; blackened spots on the walls, mildew spilling over the paint. Worn out shingles littered the floor, given up on life. Most of the roof remained intact, with the red hue spread across the top. On the front side, an improvement was stamped over the restless edges in bold, white letters: "Survivors Inside". Dominic and Clementine inched towards the forgotten structure, Dominic leading the inspection. He confronted the various metal doors, each locked to the ground as if glued shut. Wooden planks were nailed to the windows, obstructing their view inside.
"Well, looks like we're not getting in this way," Dominic deadpanned as he hopped off the train platform.
"Maybe there's another way in?" Clementine suggested from behind him, her tiny steps patting onward.
Dominic smiled, "Yup."
They strolled around the corner of the station, passing a fence with trees surrounding the other side. Seconds later, the duo found another locked door with a thin glass window perched open just above it. Clementine reached out to open the door, but felt Dominic's hand grasp hers away. "Don't, we don't know what's in there, there could be nothing, but there could be walkers too." He looked down at her, a brotherly gleam striking her as he started his lecture.
"Oh, right," She muttered softly, looking at the ground in shame.
"It's alright, Clem," He patted her shoulder before staring at the door once again, a small chuckle erupting from his chest. "We'll find a way in."
Dominic already knew the way in, of course, and stared directly at the open window just above the door, his plan processing in his brain. "Hmm…" He turned to Clementine, asking in a casual tone, "You think you can peek through that gap to find a way to unlock the door?"
"I can try…" She returned simply, glancing at the small entrance.
This is gonna hurt. He picked her up and stood her on his shoulders, grunting as the wound below his shoulder shot pain down his spine, throwing him off balance. "Okay, I can see in," She declared as she examined the room within. There were a bunch of unmarked boxes, and a gated section just beyond. "What do I do now?"
"What do you see?" Dominic asked.
"Lots of crates and stuff."
"Is there anything you can unlock from there?" Dominic moaned, her weight becoming unbearable as the pain from his wound grew exponentially.
"I…" A clicking noise resounded from within the room, "I think I opened it!"
"Good job," Dominic grunted as he set her down. "Now," he sighed, the weight lifted from the hole in his back. "Let's get in there, and find us something to get that tanker down with."
As Dominic reached for the door, Clementine stated, "Let's go. Be careful!"
Dominic giggled, glancing at his tiny partner in crime, "I'm supposed to tell you that."
She smiled back at him as he opened the wooden door, creaking ensuing as they stepped in, the wood reverberating off of the plain, stained walls of age. Dominic couldn't see much except for dark silhouettes of wooden crates stacked around the room, with the knick-knacked shelves placed in corners, the dust tinging everything it touched a light brown. Without hesitation, he pulled out his knife and wedged it underneath the door to keep it open. With his knife no longer on him, Dominic drew and held the pistol Lee had given him just before they left for the station in his hands, already searching for the walkers that resided within.
"Clem, I-" Dominic stuttered, his thoughts suddenly going back to what he said on the train, and the stinging pain coming from his hand. "I think I owe you an apology," Dominic whispered to the little girl next to him, swallowing the imminent lump as he continued. "I just feel like I'm losing it… I'm sorry you had to hear that back on the train."
"It's okay," Clementine muttered softly, tugging at his arm, "You're only human."
Dominic laughed, blinking the tear out of his eye. "You're smart, you know that Clem?" She smiled at him as he gazed down at her. "Nice haircut by the way." He stared as he noticed all of the uneven knots concealed between the pigtails, falling down just short of her neck.
He turned and approached the gated section of the room; bars enclosed them, replacing stain-covered walls. Looks a lot like a jail cell… Dominic glanced down to see a dry pool of blood stained on the floor just front of the door, a mirror replica of the prison bars. Well, this isn't ominous… He sighed as he tried to push open the door, but it didn't budge, "Yep, locked." He mumbled, his eyes gliding over the metal bars to the roof. Between the final railing of the door and the wooden ceiling, there was a small gap, allowing enough room for someone small to fit through.
"There's a gap up there, but not much," Dominic stated aloud.
"We're lucky I'm so little," Clementine joked, poking Dominic's leg.
Dominic laughed, "Yeah, we are, indeed."
He reached and lifted her up again, reliving the groaning pains of his gunshot wound long enough for the little girl slip through the gap and hop down to the other side.
"Quickly, get the keys," Dominic hissed, but his blood ran cold as the hairs on the back of his neck rose. Clementine stayed glued to the spot, her eyes growing wide. Fuck.
"Behind you!" She screamed as he turned around, raising the pistol to shoot the walker he had begrudgingly forgotten about. But another walker reached him first, fangs ready to bite down on his arm. Dominic kicked its leg, but the walker fell onto him, knocking them both to the ground. Dominic striked again, ready to shoot the undead thing in the forehead before realizing his pistol was gone. How the fuck did I forget two walkers?!
"Shit!" He yelled as he fought off the walker, kicking it away before crawling towards the exit. As he stumbled back to his feet, he sprinted to the door and yanked out the knife from underneath the door, turning around just in time to bury it inside the first walkers forehead. It's moans died as suddenly as it appeared, and dropped to the floor with a thud. Dominic pulled out the knife, grunting from the exertion, and kicked the second walker in the kneecap. The abomination fell flat on it's face, mindlessly trying to get back up; Dominic stabbed it in the back of the head before it could. Well, good thing I remember Jane's trick…
He let out several heavy breaths before turning back to Clementine, who aimed his missing pistol at the walkers, the gun wavering back and forth as she shook, her lips quivering in fear. "It's okay Clem, they're dead. Just… give me the gun." He sighed, striding towards the door. Before she could respond, another undead moan pierced the air, just within the gates of Hell.
Dominic sprinted to the door as fast as his legs could carry him, screaming to Clementine, "GET ME THE KEYS, NOW!"
She stared at him wild-eyed before turning around and grabbing the keys from a keyrack on the wall, throwing them to Dominic, who fumbled to unlock the door, wrists jumping as the moans grew closer. Clementine hid behind him as she shoved the gun in his palm. He clutched the pistol like a lifeline, aiming it at the walker.
The bullet pierced the walker's heart, sending it tumbling backwards, but it still breathed its demon air. His ears rang, the gunshot echoing within the confined space of the station. He fired again, this time aiming for the head. It's moans died on its lips as the bullet pierced its brain, splaying grey matter onto the walls and floor.
Dominic let out a sigh of relief, "That was close…"
"That didn't go so good," Clementine moaned, staring up at him wild-eyed.
"No, it didn't," Dominic sighed as he reached out for her, placing a hand on her cheek and sending him back to his fucked up reality. "But we're okay. Everything's okay."
With that, she smiled up at him once more, feeling reassured. Just outside, Christa's voice called out, "What's going on? I thought I heard gunshots!"
"We're fine!" Dominic called back, grabbing Clementine's hand as they approached the exit once more.
Christa opened the door and stared at the dead walkers littering the floor. "We found some walkers," Dominic deadpanned, looking back at the guts strewn about the station. Three more for me…
Her eyebrow shot up, "You and an eight year old versus three of them, huh?" She sighed, crossing her arms as she overlooked the undead corpses.
"We handled it," Dominic insisted, giving the little girl next to him a proud smile.
"Yeah, it looks like," Christa stated, a harsh tone evident in her voice, "What if you hadn't?" She sighed as she turned back towards the door, "I'm going to go make sure the noise didn't cause us any problems."
"That's a good idea," Clementine added happily.
Christa looked back and gave her a quick smile, then stared at Dominic, "God, I hope you and Lee know what you're doing with her."
He sighed as his movements became second nature, and the thoughts running through his mind appeared before him. Despite knowing everything he knew, sometimes he found himself in the position of questioning his ability to keep people alive. He usually didn't worry about Clementine, since he knew she'd be safe, but what if at some point, something he does changes that and she dies? He swallowed the poisonous entity with spite as he looked towards the unseen gravel. "Me too," He muttered.
"For her sake," Christa spat.
After she left the station, he turned back to Clementine, smiling at her as the next lecture formed in his mind, "So, what did we learn today?"
"That I'm not ready for a gun…" She whimpered.
"Well, yes," Dominic laughed, patting her on the shoulder. "But, we also learned not to be afraid." He knelt down before her, looking into her troubled eyes. "They should've got us, but we got them instead."
A small grin etched it's way across her face as this new lesson dawned on her, "Ohhh!" Her eyes beamed at this new revelation.
Dominic gave her a quick high five, his eyes darting across the room until they found their target. "Now, let's find us something to get that tanker down."
"I found a blowtorch in the station," Dominic called out, holding the heavy gas tank in his hand as they hurried back to the group. "Should work for getting that tank down!"
"Good work, Dominic," Lee patted the boy on the arm as he took the tank from him.
"Excellent," Omid smiled, turning to Lee, "I'll come up there with you to have a look."
Lee nodded, following the shorter man up the ladder. Once they were at the bridge again, he set down the blowtorch next to the tanker and turned it on, but no flames erupted out of the nozzle.
"Shit," Lee swore.
"What's up?" Omid asked, looking over Lee's shoulder for a peek.
"The hose has a leak in it," the older man stated, examining the blasted machine.
"Turn it off, dude! I don't want my eyebrows burned off!" The young boy exclaimed as he backed away from the blowtorch, as if it was going to explode. Lee spun the throttle around until the hissing of the gas ceased. After a moment, Omid continued, "Better plug that leak with something."
"Well, I did grab this from that truck over there," Lee shrugged, pulling out a roll of tape from his pocket.
"Perfect!" Omid cheered like an achieved youngster.
Lee took the tape, unraveling its sticky tongue and wrapping it around the leak, silently hoping that it'll hold. Finally, he twisted the nozzle again, adrenaline pumping through his veins as a flame bursted out, the heat covering his face as the fiery colors painted his eyes. He melted away at the metal holding the tank to the tanker, Omid shouting, "That's crazy, look at it go!"
"Just about got it!" Lee hissed as he gave the torch one final push.
Omid watched as the tanker slowly started to roll backwards, right towards Lee. He shot forward, gripping the older man's arm and pulling him back. Lee dropped the torch, and hurled backwards onto his spine.
"Whoa, thanks," Lee gasped as he pushed himself back to his feet.
"No sweat, man," Omid heaved.
"This thing is hanging by a thread, the smallest cut and it'll go," Lee sighed, trying to figure out some way he could get to the cut he had made. That's when the idea struck him.
He held out the blowtorch to Omid, the younger man staring at him indignantly. "Here. The weak portion of the coupling is out of my reach," Lee stated.
"You think it'll be within mine?" The shorter man scoffed, staring at the hunk of metal before him.
Lee chuckled, "No, but I'm going to dangle you over that ledge."
"The hell you are!" Omid scoffed once more, but that didn't stop Lee from dangling him over the edge.
"God, you're a real son of a bitch, aren't you?!" Omid shouted as he stared down at the ground beneath him, using the blowtorch to cut away at the final strand of metal holding the tank to the truck.
Lee laughed, "Shut up and start cutting."
Ben stood atop the boxcar just below, staring off into the distance until something caught his eye. Several somethings. Oh my god. "Guys… there's something coming!" He shouted to the group behind him.
"WHAT THE WHAT!" Omid stuttered as he gazed over the tanker, witnessing a massive herd of walkers slowly walking towards them down the train track.
"There must be thousands…!" Lee gasped, tightening his grip on the man he had dangled over the ledge, his wrist turning pale.
"Lee, get that thing down! We need to move!" Dominic shouted from below, glancing between the Horde from Hell and the tanker awaiting to fall.
"Clem, get on the train!" Carley grabbed the little girl and pulled her into the lone boxcar, hiding the little girl behind her, making herself a human shield.
"We gotta go!" Ben screamed, running towards the front of the train, hopping inside.
"Fuck…" Lee breathed, "Omid! CUT! CUT!"
"I am!" He countered indignantly, and after a few more seconds, he shouted again, "It's going! Pull me up!"
There was a loud creaking noise as the tanker snapped off and fell to the ground. Lee pulled Omid out of the way as the tanker tore down the ladder they used to get up, leaving a thump in return, resonating throughout the surround brush. Shit.
"KENNY, GO!" Lee called out, hoping the Floridian could hear him below.
They watched as the train inched forward. Loud creaks and screeches pierced the air as the wheels groaned against the metal axles. Everyone hopped aboard as fast as they could, no one daring to look back at the massive herd behind them.
Meanwhile, gas poured out of the fallen tanker, covering the ground beneath them. That's when Lee's next idea dawned on him.
"Shit, what the hell do we do now?!" Omid shouted to Lee, who stared down at the still blowing blowtorch.
"Hope to God this works…" He whispered as he kicked the blowtorch off of the bridge, straight into the pool of gas below, igniting it instantly into a burning inferno.
"Holy crap!" Omid watched as it fell, the torch disappearing into a cloud of fire, scorching the ground beneath it. They turned around and ran to the opposite side of the bridge as the train passed beneath them, the wind brushing them forward.
"We gotta jump!" Lee yelled to Omid, the roaring rage of the train piercing their ears.
"What?! No way!" Omid refused as Lee hopped onto the other side of the barrier, gazing down at the moving train beneath them. Omid joined him, rather hesitantly.
"Fine," Lee hollered, "You stay here and we'll go with your lady!"
"The hell you will!" Omid shouted back as he jumped off, his legs connecting with the roof of the train before rolling off onto the ground below, inches away from the fuming pits of Hell.
"Shit!" Christa screamed out as she jumped off the train, running for her downed boyfriend.
Meanwhile, Lee jumped off of the bridge and landed atop the boxcar roof, unharmed. "Oof!"
Christa pulled Omid to his feet before they ran towards the train, Christa screaming in motivation, "Run!"
Lee swung himself into the boxcar, finding Dominic, Clementine, and Carley inside and unharmed. Dominic and Lee reached out for them, pulling them both in before they could fall behind.
"Thank you…" Christa gasped as they laid on the wooden floor, staring up at the metal ceiling.
"Holy shit," Dominic panted as he and Lee stared out the train and at the herd behind them.
A tiny voice mumbled behind him, invoking smiles from Dominic and Lee. "Swear…"
"That… was a lot… of them!" Omid breathed, staring out into the now burning wasteland.
"Are you hurt…?" Clementine asked Lee.
"No, we're okay…" Lee muttered.
"Speak for yourself!" Omid scoffed, staring down at his bruised ankle."My leg is fucked."
"We're fine Clementine, we're fine," Christa moaned for them.
"Jesus, guys, that was intense," Carley sighed, laying her head against the metal wall, soaking in the events that just surpassed. "Can't we just go back to a time when all we did was just sit around in a motel, doing nothing?"
Lee smiled and sat next to her, laying his head close to hers. "That'd be the day."
Everything was quiet once more. Lee stood behind Kenny in the cabin, as the city of Savannah finally came into view. We've made it, we've finally made it! Beside him, Carley sighed, "Thank God."
"It's been a long trip," Lee muttered, his thoughts dwelling on what Dominic told him earlier that day. "I really hope it's worth it."
"It will," Kenny muttered, smiling at his two compatriots. "Next stop, the Atlantic."
Lee gazed at Clementine's sleeping form on the other side of the cabin, her head leaning against the metal wall. He sighed, "We're gonna try finding Clementine's parents when we get there."
"I thought they were dead," Kenny whispered.
"Looking for them, then." He sighed, realizing what his Floridian comrade had said was most likely true.
"That's not the plan," Kenny spat.
"Kenny…" Carley started, but Lee interrupted her plea.
"Well, it's ours," Lee argued, exchanging a look with Carley, "I'm sure Dominic will support it."
He turned back to Kenny, putting a hand on the man's shoulder, "You'll be alright."
"I'll be alive, I guess," Kenny murmured, his eyes dropping to the floor as memories flashed through his brain. Katjaa greeting him when he got back from those long fishing trips. Duck's silly face when he was excited about something. And then, their tragic deaths. It sent him into a kind of Hell he never thought possible. "Blood in my heart, blood in my brain at least."
"We'll leave you to your thoughts," Carley consoled Kenny, before pulling Lee aside.
They peered down at the sleeping girl, as if she was their own child. Lee sighed, "She's out cold like I never seen."
"It's good that-" Carley's voice was cut off by a strange static noise emanating from Clementine's backpack.
Lee picked up the backpack, and searched through it, finding Clementine's busted radio within. Except, it wasn't as busted as he thought.
The static gave away to a voice, barely audible underneath it all, "Hellooo there?"
"What the…?" Lee stared down in awe at the radio, unable to believe his ears. The radio worked! But who the hell was on the other end?
"Can't wait for you to get to Savannah, Clementine. I've got your parents right here, and you be sure to find me, whether Lee and Dominic want you to or not. Now what I need-" The radio cut off, the voice that had resounded in the cabin replaced by unbearable silence.
"Holy shit…" Lee gasped.
"I thought that fucking thing was broken!" Kenny shouted.
"So did I," Lee muttered, turning back to Kenny and Carley.
"Who the fuck was that?" Carley asked, "If he's convinced Clem that he has her parents…" She stared again at the sleeping girl, fear filling her mind for the child.
Kenny stared at them, muttering in a hushed voice, "Ya'll might wanna rethink your plan…"