To Save a Life
"Hey, get up."
Dominic groaned as he was rudely awakened from his slumber. He half wanted to grumble 'buzz off' at the voice above him. His best friend knew better than to wake him up before noon.
"Come on, kid. You're burnin' daylight," The voice added sternly, sounding nothing like the best friend he thought the voice belonged to.
"Eugh," was all that he could say as he angrily opened his eyes, only to take in the sight of Clementine and Lee next to him, both yawning heavily. Oh, he was still here. He half-expected to wake up back in his bed in the real world, his roommate Josh forcing him up to play Xbox or something. Groaning, he finally sat up to look at the man who woke him. Dom recognized him immediately. Kenny.
To his left, he heard Clementine groan, "I'm itchy."
"Well you slept in a barn, little lady. Lucky you don't have spiders in your hair," The man joked, sending a smile in Clem's direction. She gasped and grasped at her hair, making sure there really wasn't any spiders there. Once she was satisfied, she looked back towards Lee, who had just gotten out of bed.
"But I bet your daddy scared 'em all away, huh?" This was directed at Lee, who silently groaned at the fact that everyone kept calling him Clementine's dad.
"I'm, uh, not her dad. Name's Lee. And he's Dominic," Lee pointed toward Dom, who was still hating the fact that he had to wake up.
"Nice to meet you both, I'm Kenny."
Everyone turned to the barn door as a younger boy ran around the corner, yelling at the top of his lungs, "Dad! We're going to build a fence! There's a tractor and everything!"
Dominic groaned again, it was bad enough he was rudely awakened, but now he had to deal with an excited little boy. It just gets better and better.
"We better get goin', or we won't hear the end of it," Kenny added, already used to his son's antics.
"Is he always so... excited?" Dominic asked, rubbing his eyes as he finally got to his feet.
"Pretty much. That's my boy, Ken Junior. We call him Duck, though."
"Duck?" Lee asked, surprised by the peculiar name. Kenny laughed before adding, "Yeah, nothin' bothers him. Like water off a duck's back, y'know?"
"That's a valuable trait lately," Lee replied, Clementine grabbing his hand as they walk towards the farmhouse.
"No kidding. But frankly, I think it's because he's dumb as a bag of hammers."
They paused at that, surprised by how Kenny describes his son. Dominic knew the full extent of how idiotic Kenny's son can be, but he was a good kid, nevertheless. And he surely wouldn't say anything bad about Duck to Kenny's face, as he would prefer not to be punched in the face.
The boy yelled for his dad again, Kenny adding with sarcasm, "But he makes up for it with enthusiasm."
Still yawning a little, Dominic stumbled off to find Shawn, not really wanting to stick around for the additional conversation. He was going to save Shawn. He didn't care if it puts himself at risk, or the entire timeline of this universe, he just wanted to save the boy from a needless death.
Shawn had been working on the fence for the past hour, silently hoping that all this work will pay off. Yet, as he heard someone approach from behind him, he sighed in frustration, "This damn fence is going to take forever."
"Need some help?" Dom offered, already admiring Shawn's handiwork on the fence. Dominic didn't really know much about building fences (or anything like it), but he knew a good barricade when he saw one.
Shawn smiled at the offer, "Yeah, if you can saw those two-bys to length, that would really help," Dominic nodded and walked over to where Shawn had already set up a plank of wood to be sawed. As he began to saw the wood, he heard Shawn mutter, "My dad really doesn't know just how bad it is out there."
"You'll make him understand," Dom added confidently as he began to saw the next board, "He needs to know that without walls and without firepower, this place will fall in an instant."
"I know, but… my Dad can be real stubborn sometimes. But with you and Lee backing me up, I think we have a real chance of making this place secure." His optimism was quite contagious, as it had even Dominic hoping that the future for the Greene family and its farm will be bright. This hope began to dwindle away as his thoughts dwelled on the events that will plague the family in the future. Shawn's death, Hershel's death… Beth's death. This family will know pain at its worst degree. Even if he somehow manages to save Shawn today, he won't be able to control what happens to Hershel and Beth in the future, when they are with Rick's group. A voice to his left forced him out of his thoughts, and he turned to see Lee approaching, carrying some more planks over to the two younger men.
"How's it coming?" Lee asked Shawn, who smiled brightly as he replied, "Oh, it's coming along great. A few more hours, and we should have this fence reinforced enough to handle anything coming our way."
"Sounds good," Lee replied, turning to Dominic, "Need any help with that?"
"Nah, I got it, but I'm sure Shawn would appreciate the help nailing the boards to the fence," Lee nodded and grabbed the spare hammer that Shawn handed to him.
After half an hour had past, and they were nearly done with the southern side of the farm. During this time, Lee and Dom had gotten to know Shawn a little better. Turns out Hershel was actually Shawn's step-father, contrary to what Lee and Dominic had thought. He wanted to protect his family with a passion, so he gave up all the things he wanted to become to help out around the farm, and be there for his little sister, Beth. Although, he was considering becoming a police officer some day, when Beth was older and Hershel didn't need his assistance as much around the farm.
"A police officer huh? You don't seem mean enough to be one," was Dominic's remark, only being half serious.
"Not all cops have to be douchebags," Shawn replied as he admired their work, "Though I've got to admit, I've met a lot of douchebags in Atlanta, more so after the outbreak," He began telling a story about how he saw a man shoot a child in Atlanta.
"Was the boy one of the walkers?" was Lee's response. He could hardly believe that someone would just mercilessly murder a kid, but these were strange times, and it made people go insane.
"I don't even know. He was either attacking the guy, or asking for help. He didn't even hesitate. He just turned, put the barrel between this kid's eyes, and pulled the trigger," Shawn looked down at the ground, trying to get the image of the boy's death out of his head. After a while, he turned back to his two new friends, "Thanks for the help guys, this place is going to be a fortress after we're done! Although, I think my dad wanted to talk to you. Should be in the barn."
Lee and Dominic exchanged a glance, they both knew what was coming. Saying goodbye to Shawn, they left for the barn, and found Hershel waiting for them. The look said it all.
"If y'all weren't leaving today, I would not stand for your lack of honesty last night."
"What do you mean?" Dominic asked casually, trying not to blow their cover. Though, at this point, he knew it had been blown for hours.
He turned to Dominic, adding "You're not a very good liar, son. You may be able to spin a tale, but the look on your face, and the way you carry yourself as you're speaking gives it all away. You lied for this man. I bet that you two had only just met when my son came across you," He turned back to Lee, finishing his lecture, "Look, I frankly don't care who you are, or what you did. But in this new world that we live in, you're going to have to depend on the honesty of strangers if you're going to make it. And having people lie for you, is just despicable. But, you're helping Shawn with the fence, and I do thank you for that."
Both Lee and Dominic were speechless. If there was any indication that they were not welcome to stay on the farm, it was that. As Lee tried to explain himself to the older man, there was a bloodcurdling scream from across the farm.
Shit. Shawn! Dominic ran outside, breathing heavily as he reached where they were working mere minutes ago. And there he was, trapped by the wheel of the tractor, walkers trying to grab him from the other side of the fence. He was so focused on saving Shawn, that he had almost forgot about Duck being there. But as Lee and Kenny came up behind him, he barked out his orders.
"Kenny, Lee, get Duck! Lee, after that, help me get Shawn free!"
They each sprang into action, Lee and Kenny pulling Duck away from the walkers as Dom pushed the tractor with all of his strength. He was able to move it by an inch, but not enough to get the wheel off of Shawn's leg. A second later, Lee was next to him, finally pushing the tractor off of the boy. They tried to drag him away from the fence, only for the fence to collapse under the weight of the walkers, one of them biting Shawn in the ankle. His screams hurt Dominic's ears as they continued to pull him away, while Hershel began to fire at the walkers with his rifle. Once all the walkers were taken care of, he looked over at them in concern.
"He's been bit!" Dominic yelled to him, cursing himself for being too slow. It all happened too fast, but at least Shawn was alive. They could still save him.
"What happens when you get bitten?" Lee asked, trying to figure out what to do. Though at this stage, he really had no idea. The only one that did, was Dominic.
"You turn into one of them," Dominic replied, standing up to face Hershel and Lee, "Listen, this is going to sound crazy, but hear me out." And here it is. Dominic thought to himself. The penny's about to drop, "We're… going to need to cut his leg off."
"WHAT?! ARE YOU INSANE?!"
"Give me a damn minute to explain, Hershel!" Dominic snapped back, trying to reign in the anger he felt boiling inside of him, "I've seen this before! If you get bit, you eventually burn up with a fever, and die. Then, come back as one of them! Whatever is in their bite has to travel through your body, and then to your brain. If we cut the leg off, it won't get the chance to leave the leg, and he gets to live!"
"Do you realize just how crazy that sounds? What if he dies from blood loss?" Lee added, hardly believing what this nineteen year old boy was suggesting.
Getting sick of them not believing him, Dominic roars, "IF WE DO NOT CUT OFF HIS LEG RIGHT NOW. HE WILL DIE!"
"Just do it, damn it! I don't want to die!" Shawn yelled at them, moaning in pain from the bite wound.
After a brief moment, Hershel replied, "Fine. Help me get him inside the house, we'll put him on the dining room table," Lee and Dominic helped Shawn to his feet, hobbling him inside. Hershel's family was freaking out, a younger girl hugging Shawn and sobbing. If Dominic remembered right, the girl was actually Beth.
"What's going on here?" Kenny's voice pierced through the air, barely heard over the frantic conversation going on in the room.
Lee was the one to explain, "Shawn's been bit. Dominic recommended cutting the leg off to save the boy."
"Holy shit. Would that even work?"
Hershel and Dominic cleared off the dining room table, and laid Shawn on top of it (who was still grunting from the pain). Hershel disappeared into a nearby room for a moment, coming out a minute later with a rather sharp saw.
"Son, this is going to hurt. Do you want me to put you under with anesthetic?" The boy shook his head, to the surprise of everyone in the room.
"Don't waste it on this. Just get it over with."
"Alright," Hershel replied, hovering the saw just below Shawn's knee. He hesitated, before finally cutting through the leg. If Shawn's screams earlier hurt Dominic's ears, this one deafened them. The boy's screams reverberated through the house, and into the farmland around them, before he passed out from the pain. A few seconds later, it was done. Hershel's family crying, Kenny, Lee, and Dominic half staring in awe, and half wanting to puke. Kenny was the first to speak.
"Holy shit, man."
It was that moment, that Dom noticed Clementine standing in the doorway, Katjaa and Duck right behind her. He instantly ran over to her and hugged her, murmuring, "Don't worry. He's going to be alright. We did what we had to do to save his life."
Now she was crying, "You cut his leg off… why?"
"He got bitten by them, Clem. It was the only way to save him from turning into one of them," He replied, standing up again, looking over at the worried Katjaa and Duck, "But, thanks to our fast response, he will survive."
Clementine seemed to accept this, but he knew what they had done had scared her. And for the next hour or so, found Hershel and Lee questioning whether or not Dom had been right. All Dominic questioned was whether or not they cut it off in time. He didn't want his one chance at saving Shawn to fail.
Later, Shawn regained consciousness, lying in his bed with Hershel, Lee, and Dominic each looking blankly around the room. A throb of pain shooting up him from where his leg used to be, causing all of them to turn back toward him.
"Thank God you're okay," Hershel told Shawn, putting a hand on the boy's arm.
"It hurts like hell," Shawn groaned back, looking down at the stump where his leg had once been.
"We've patched you up pretty good, and the bleeding seems to have stopped. I reckon you're going to make a full recovery," the older man replied, a small tear dropping from his eye, "And you've got him to thank for it." He pointed over at Dominic, who smiled shyly.
"Lee, Dominic. Thank you for saving my son. If you wouldn't of been here, he would've died right then and there." Dominic felt a warm feeling of pride wash over him. He had done it. He saved the unsaveable.
"I'm just glad he's gonna okay," Dom replied honestly, turning to his new friend, "Who knows, maybe you'll scare them away with your stump."
Shawn laughed, then grunted as another throb of pain shot up his leg, "Yeah. We'll show 'em."
Hershel stood up, walking over to where Dominic stood at the end of the bed, "Thank you for saving my boy. I thought you two were going to be nothing but trouble not two hours ago, but now, I'm almost sorry that you're leaving."
Dom exchanged a glance with Lee before adding, "Never was planning on staying for too long anyway, but thank you for having us. I'm just glad he's alive."
"Where do you reckon you'll be going after this?" Hershel asked Lee, the younger man scratching his head slightly at the question.
"Macon, probably. Kenny said something about going there earlier."
"Sounds like a plan," Dom added, turning back to Shawn and saying his goodbyes.
"Good luck out there. The world needs more people like you two," Hershel replied, shaking Lee's hand, before shaking Dom's.
After saying their goodbyes to the Greene family, Lee Clementine, and Dominic got in the flatbed of Kenny's truck. Taking one last look at the farm, before hitting the road to Macon.
And to those who will become their new group.