The road back to the motel was dark and swampy. The rain had cleared up shortly after they left the farm, but the roads were a muddy mess, and with each step, more of the brown goop clung to their jeans like leeches on an animal. The wind had died down, but rustled through the trees every so often, making them shiver in their already soaked clothing. Morale was at an all time low, as if the night's events had drained them of their confidence. Less than a few hours have passed since Mark and Larry died and it weighed in their minds like a plague, and the brutal passing of the St. Johns eating away at their core; it left them hollow inside, stripping away everything except their sanity.
No one dared to look at Dominic. The boy hadn't uttered a single word since leaving the farm, alone in his own mind. Killing Andy St. John was killing his soul like a virus, eating away at his mind until nothing was left except an empty, heartless tomb. An eternal battle raged within him; one that he was destined to lose. Was it necessary to kill Andy St. John? Was it the right thing to do? So many questions burned within him and he had no answers, just guilt filling the cracks in his mind, expanding beyond logical reason. He murdered a human being. He's killed dozens of walkers before this, why was killing this one man making him feel like a monster? Andy was the monster, not him, yet deep inside he knew, he'd crossed the line, and there was no going back.
Not too far ahead of him, he heard Carley whisper, "Hey Lee, I'd say I'm sorry for leaving the motel unattended, but ya know…" She chuckled uncertainly, brushing her arm with insecurity.
"I'm glad you showed up when you did," He replied softly, his eyes blankly staring into the distance, "If you hadn't taken that shot at Andy, and Dominic hadn't…" his voice trailed off, leaving everyone in silence, only the wind making the slightest of sound.
"Were they really…" she paused for a moment, the events that have transpired playing through like some horror movie, "Killing people? For food?" Carley choked on that last word, filling her throat with bile.
"Yeah," He sighed, "And Clementine almost ate some…"
"But?" Her eyes grew wide as she stopped where she stood, looking past Lee at the horrible image crossing her mind: Clementine staring down at a plate filled with meat, human meat. She coughed down whatever fluid that started invading her mouth and looked back at Lee, who watched her.
"I stopped her," He stated with clarity, as if he had to prove it to her and himself, eyeing her for a few seconds, then slowly gazing at the ground between them, feeling angry at himself for not listening to Dominic back at the motel, "I can't leave her alone, Carley." His voice changed as a tear escaped his eye. "This fucking world now. It's hiding just, unspeakable shit at every turn," He dared to glance at Dominic, who followed the group lifelessly behind them, like a man who has given up, "I don't know how, or why, but if it wasn't for Dominic…. I don't know if we would've made it out of that mess."
"He had to damn near drag me out of the motel to come get you guys," Carley whispered, rubbing her arm awkwardly, "I thought he was just paranoid, but holy shit." She slowly glanced behind her at the young boy, whose head was bowed low and feet dragged through the mud, nearly slipping with every step.
"Yeah," He took one last glance at the boy before turning around to walk alongside Carley, whispering to her, "Once he's feeling better, we could ask him about it. Everything about him just isn't adding up, and I really want to know why."
"Me too," She said, looking up at him. She stared for a few seconds before quickly looking down and lowering her voice to a mere whisper, "He has to have a secret he's keeping close to his chest. He almost told me, before we came to get you." She shook her head in disbelief, previous events bogging her mind. "Probably would've too, if I didn't give up on arguing with him," She stopped as she remembered the camcorder Katjaa had given her, "Although," She lifted her head up, smirking at Lee. "Katjaa did manage to grab this while she was in the house, said it was with your stuff."
She pulled out the camcorder and held it out for Lee, who took it, "Yeah," he spoke, eyeing her as he examined the broken thing, "I found it while I was looking for the people who shot Mark," he looked back up at her, smiling, "Do you want it?"
"Why don't you keep it?" She said, punching him on the shoulder, "Sometimes it helps to have something you can document your thoughts on."
"Thanks," he remarked pocketing the camcorder and turning around to see Katjaa and Kenny over by a fence that ran alongside the road, the latter bent over in pain from his gunshot wound.
Kenny groaned as Lee walked over, Katjaa reaching out for her husband, "How are you doing?"
"I'll be fine," He griped, holding the wound,"I'm just, not as young as I used to be." He winced as he glanced over at Duck, who stood close to his mother, surprisingly quiet, also mulling over the events. He looked over at Lee, saying to his wife, "Hon, go on ahead and give me and Lee a second?"
She nodded and put her arm around Duck, pulling him ahead as the two men looked at each other with a look of anger and remorse. Kenny was the first to speak, "There's gonna be fallout."
"For killing Lilly's dad?" He replied, a harsh tone strengthening his words, "Yeah, I would imagine so." Lee rolled his eyes at his own brilliant sarcasm.
Kenny's eyes narrowed slightly before asking, "What do you think?"
"You murdered Larry," Lee spat, staring down the man he thought was his friend in the eye. Both men had stopped at this point, along with the rest of the group, except Dominic, who trotted right into Lilly's back, and was retorted with a hushed "watch it!"
"Fuck you man, you're alive because of me," Kenny's voice grew louder with each word, venom dripping like water, "Why didn't you have my back?"
"I saved your wife and kid!" Lee retorted, crossing his arms.
"No, I saved them!" The man was in Lee's face now, "By making sure Larry didn't kill US!"
Lee looked down at the ground in guilt, thinking back to that moment, then whispered,"I… I couldn't do it, Ken." Lee gasped.
Kenny clenched his fists, spitting angrily before marching off, "Well, maybe we should stay out of each other's way for a while."
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Clementine coming his way, sullenly telling her, "Come on Clementine… stay close."
She looked up at him fearfully, "Lee… are those bad people dead?" She asked, looking behind her, as if they may be following her in the dark.
"Well, we didn't kill Danny, so I don't know. He might've been able to get away from the walkers, but I'm sure he won't be coming after us. As for Andy…" He peered at the ground, not daring to meet her eyes as images of Andy's brutal death played in his head. Dominic getting on top of Andy St. John, his eyes full of rage…
"I know," she muttered sadly, looking over at Dominic as he passed them.
"Alright Clem, let's go."
The wind began to blow harder, sending chills down their spines, and turning the mud to frozen, brown clots on their jeans. The group tried to hurry back to the motel, when the familiar beeping of a car pierced the air...
Darkness surrounded Dominic; a cold chill sprinkling through his body. He couldn't see a thing, and he felt paralyzed. Fog suddenly rose slowly from beneath his feet, and grass started rising across his vision. Little needles fell from the never ending, never beginning sky, crashing at the touch of his skin. Clouds quickly formed above him, only able to tell by the varying shades of black in the sky. Dominic blinked repeatedly, as little sparks ignited the horizon.
"The fuck?" His voice sounded like a distant echo calling from deep in a valley. Dominic glanced ahead, structures appearing through the mist; a fence, a house, a barn. He looked at the ground, noticing his posture had changed; he was on his knees, and a ghastly figure formed under him. Everything was cold. The needles nearly blinding him as he watched in horror as the figure solidified, turning into a familiar face. His eyes narrowed as his heart went from fear to sudden hatred. His face going from a look of shock to disgust.
"Come on, do it!" Andy's voice was still distant, like a whisper in another room. His voice grew louder with each syllable as the older man spat, "STAB ME, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!"
"No," Dominic breathed. He couldn't, even if the man below him killed so many of his friends, he couldn't kill him.
"You know you want to," Andy giggled, drifting into insanity as he smiled, "Because if you don't, I'll kill you, and everyone you hold dear. Starting with that little girl. Clementine, was it?"
"No… shut up!" Dominic croaked, holding back tears.
"Or… how about Lee?" Andy giggled, "Kill the nigger! Slice him limb from limb! It's what he deserves after he murdered that senator!"
"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Dominic groaned, wiping a tear off of his cheek.
"How do you think I should kill her?" He laughed, his voice raising in excitement, "cut her into pieces and eat them for dinner?"
Dominic felt something growing inside him, a hot fuse fueling from his stomach as tears poured down his face, crying softly, "Shut up. Please, just… shut the fuck up…"
"How about I stab her in the heart, and let her turn into a walker?" Andy screeched.
The tears rolled as the fuse shortened to a nick, Dominic's face contorting from a childish sob, to a look of pure, ungodly hatred. "SHUT. THE. FUCK… UP." He warned, in a desperate, uninterrupted whisper.
"I can make the nigger watch too!" He sneered with utmost insanity, "tie the motherfucker up! Watch him squirm as I beat the little bitch before I cut her!"
The fuse sizzled down to the stub, the bomb inside of him primed. The tears stopped. Nothing was left inside of Dominic except for an empty, burning hate, "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! YOU EVIL LITTLE FUCK JUST SHUT. THE. FUCK. UUUUUPPPPPP!" Dominic roared, pounding his fists into the man's face.
Andy laughed, ignoring the young boy's outburst, looking up at him as if thinking it over, "Oh! I got it! I will torture her! And I'll make you watch as I ra-"
Dominic looked down at his fists, seeing red as his knife quickly formed between his fingers. His blade. He looked down upon the older man for the last time, blinded by rage, hatred, and grief.
"YOU SICK FUCKING BASTARD!" He roared as he thrusted the knife down as hard as he could into Andy's chest; closing his eyes as the blade sliced through his lungs, straight into the old man's heart.
Dominic sighed; the deed was done. He sat there motionless, the rain boring into his skin like tiny shards of glass. He did it, he saved Clementine, and Lee. His smile faded as a soft cry reached his ears.
His eyes flung open to a horrific scene: Clementine laid beneath him, his blade in her chest, blood seeping through her white clothes, slowly dripping onto the black grass.
"CLEM-" He choked, tears falling like a waterfall, scrambling off of her, "CLEMENTINE!"
"It… it hurts…" She moaned in agony, looking at Dominic with water-soaked eyes. "Why?"
"No… I…" He picked her up and held her in his arms, her hat falling into the blood-tainted grass.
"I-I didn't…. do this….." He mumbled, his voice cracking with every breath he heaved, her face a grey pale as her eyes searched for something far above.
"CLEMENTINE! Don't do this to me! Please!" He sobbed, holding her close. She slowly went limp in his arms, in too much pain to move.
"NO!" He screamed, pulling the blade from her chest and throwing it far out of reach, as if it was cursed. He watched as it disappeared into the darkness.
"Why...Dominic...why?" Clementine cried, tears rolling down her face as she gazed up at him, "You said you'd protect me…"
"I DIDNT DO THIS! I swear! I would never hurt you Clementine!" His voice was nothing more than a hoarse cry of pain.
"You're... a monster... Dominic..." She sighed as her eyes stopped searching. Her face ceased to feel pain. Her body went limp as he hugged the child he swore to protect. His face smeared with her blood.
He sobbed into her shoulder, screaming out for someone, anyone, to bring her back. She can't die…. she can't…
In the distance, he heard the ground crunch, and he lifted his gaze to see a figure standing in the mist. His mouth drooped into a frown as he realized who stood before him.
"What….. what have you done?" The figure spoke in a familiar voice, fear and guilt consuming him as he realizes what he's done.
Dominic's gaze shifted from pain to a boiling anger as he spat his next words, "We did this." He glared at past Dominic, his eyes glowing red with a furious rage.
"But…" The figure stuttered, trembling into full view as he saw the body lying in Dominic's arms. A black Doctor Who shirt stuck to his skin, black pajamas covering his legs. Specs hung over his eyes. It was Dominic, from the night before he entered this God-forsaken Hell. He moved closer, standing in front of Dominic and looked down upon Clementine's lifeless form. He looked back at his future self, who stared back with red, teary eyes.
"Why would we do something like this?" Past Dominic questioned himself, a tear escaping his eyes.
"I… lost control," future Dominic whispered, the anger slipping from his voice, "this is what we become, Dominic. Murderers."
"No! That's not us," past Dominic shrieked, denying the harsh reality in front of him, "That can't be us."
"Look at this! We killed her! Just like we killed Andy!" Future Dominic snapped, pointing at the body before them. Past Dominic took an uncertain step forward, staring at the body on the wet ground.
"No," he breathed, closing his eyes tightly, "I refuse to accept that."
"Like it or not, kid. This is who you become," future Dominic stated, the anger slowly surfacing.
"No…." past Dominic sniffed, before falling to his knees, "I can't do this. I couldn't do this to Clementine…" He groaned.
"NO!" He roared, the tears hitting him like emotional bricks to his chest. "I DIDN'T DO THIS!" Past Dominic wailed, unable to accept what was in front of his eyes.
Future Dominic's anger peaked as he witnessed himself fall apart. His grip tightened around his knife as he thrusted it into the despairing boy.
He fell to the ground with a gut-wrenching thud, motionless as everything faded to black.
"CLEMENTINE!" Dominic shrieked as his eyes flew open, jumping up into a sitting position. Wheezing, he gazed at his surroundings, relieved when he realized that he was in his room at the motel. The sheets were glued to his skin, sweat pouring out of his pores.. The room was dark, aside from the faint glow of the moon outside of his window.
"Just a dream," He whispered to himself as he crawled out of bed, grabbing his clothes from the chair he laid them on the night before. After getting dressed, he opened his door, pacing over to the RV in the cool morning air. The sun hadn't come up yet, but Dominic could feel the mist in the air, and after the nightmare he had, he needed that fresh air. The motel had an eerie feeling at night; no noise, no movement, just silence. The only sound Dominic could hear was his heartbeat; quick, but simmering down. The RV was like a picture; nothing moved, everything still. He blinked a couple times just to check: still there. Same position.
As he approached, he found the rifle leaning against the RV and picked it up. A few moments later, he was in his chair atop the RV, staring out into the distance. The dream rattled him to the very core. His arms shook as he pictured Clementine laying there. The blood. He gripped the rifle in his hands, regaining control while pushing the image out of his mind. Usually he doesn't have nightmares, but he knew that murdering Andy St. John had affected him greatly, which was surprising considering all the horrific things he's seen in movies and video games; murder, warfare. He's surprised by how shaken up he was about doing it himself. It felt different, real, visceral even. It was nothing like a movie or a game. I did it…
Hours passed as he stood guard atop the RV; the motel slowly came to life as the sun rose higher into the sky. At first, the pitch black atmosphere clung to the heavens as if it was scared to sleep itself, but after some time, the pinch of an orange horizon took it under its wing, guiding the darkness to safety. A pink hue dancing among the stars, singing them a lullaby, until the familiar yellow shape showed itself among the clouds. The birds sang a sweet tune, bringing the motel to life before Dominic's eyes. He watched in peace as the fluorescent ball of light rose higher into the sky, calling the animals to a new day; a fresh start. Senseless hours seemed to pass until he heard the signaling creek of a door, alerting him someone was awake; Katjaa. He eyed her as she avoided his eyes, silently trotting to the water hose on the other side of the motel to get a drink. He looked away, avoiding all eye contact as he slowly slipped back into deep thought. The gun…
Within another hour, the rest of the motel was up and rumbling around like a late night Motel 8. Dominic sat reluctantly. He didn't even say a word when Ben asked if he wanted a break. No one questioned him about being up so early; they knew. It wasn't until noon that Dominic heard the familiar clang of a chair being set down next to him, turning to see Clementine crawling into it. She looked up at him, concerned for her friend.
"Hi," She smiled reassuringly. He turned away, bluntly ignoring her welcome. She sat there, staring at him, her smile slowly gaining weight as it drooped into a blank, curious line across her face.
"Hey," She tried again, uncertainly tapping his leg with her fingers. She kept staring, trying to break his "depressed" mood act. Dominic unconsciously fought her gaze, looking past the now bright green trees and into the eyes of himself; so helpless. So scared.
"Hey," he whispered, eyes glancing down from the trees as he erased himself from his thoughts, letting Clementine win in the process. "Feels like some serious deja vu. Us sitting up here talking, the forest dead quiet. I'd rather this than what actually happened yesterday."
She looked up at him as he spoke, her eyes growing sadder with each word, "Are you okay?"
He looked down at the roof of the RV, unable to meet her eyes, "I'll be okay, just right now…" His voice trailed off as he fought back tears. My knife… Her chest…. He pushed the thought away again "Right now, I just need time," he spoke under his breath
"Okay," She whined, crawling back out of her seat, heading for the ladder.
"Hey, Clem," He called, adding when she turned around to look at him, "I'm sorry… for scaring you. I did what I did to protect you, please remember that. I don't want you to get hurt.." His voice trailed off again as his thoughts went back to the nightmare, "Please forgive me?"
"I…" She started, not quite sure what to say, "I forgive you." She watched him for a moment, wondering why he'd say such a thing.
His mouth perked up into a small smile, "Thanks, Clem."
He sat there for a few more hours before coming down for lunch. He'd been up for god knows how many hours now, and his stomach growled at him like a famished monster. Lilly was handing out the rations again, much to Lee's appreciation; he never wanted to have to do it again. With the supplies they raided from the abandoned station wagon, they had enough to go around for a few more weeks. After lunch, Lee and Carley pulled Dominic aside.
Lee smiled reassuringly to the younger boy, saying "I know you're in a rough spot right now, Dom, but…. We need to talk."
"I know I shouldn't of killed Andy. It was stupid of me, but it had to be done," Dominic defended, his voice slowly raising, a tear hinting behind his eyes.
"No, no. It's not about that," Lee clarified as they walked over to the makeshift table they had set up underneath the RV's fabric canopy. "It's about… well," he shrugged his shoulders, looking at Carley for backup, "about how you knew the St. Johns couldn't be trusted."
"Oh, um…" Dominic hesitated, taken aback by the boldness of their question.. They looked at him in interest, waiting to hear what he had to say, but he froze, afraid of what was coming next, "I… um… well," he stammered.
"It's alright, Dominic," Carley reassured, uncertainty flickering in her eyes.
"Okay. Well, this is going to sound a bit crazy, but just hear me out, okay?" They both nodded nervously, patiently waiting for him to go on, "Well, I knew about the St. Johns being cannibals, which is why I tried to stop you from going," He looked over at Lee, who continued to listen, "I was hoping that maybe if I stopped you from going, everything would be alright, and Mark and Larry would be fine. But, I couldn't stop you… Lee, I've seen the future, more or less. That's how I knew about you when we first met, and that's why I defended you at Hershel's farm." His face was going hot now, quickly trying to figure out a way to perfectly explain his situation without looking like a lunatic, or time traveler; but that's the thing: there WAS no way to explain this simply. He had to bite this Sci-Fi bullet right in the ass.
"You've… seen the future?" Lee asked, trying to wrap his head around what the boy was saying. It sounded insane, ludicrous even, but it actually made a little sense. Ever since he had met Dominic, the kid always seemed one step ahead of everyone else. He was the one that suggested cutting off Shawn's leg, ultimately saving his life; he knew who Lee was and what he'd done; and he knew that the St. Johns were not to be trusted, and guessed perfectly that they were cannibals. It was a little overwhelming, but deep down, Lee believed him.
"More or less... Yeah. My memory isn't perfect though, so there's some things I don't quite remember, but I know what's going to happen, for nearly two years from now," Dominic spoke as Carley stared at him, her eyes raising at every few words.
"Dominic... You're a good kid and all, but I find this hard to believe. Are you actually saying you're from the future?" Her tone was one of surprise and disbelief.
He shrugged, unsure how to answer the question, "Well, it depends. I have no idea what year it is. It was 2015 before I found myself here."
They both stared at him in shock and awe, as if Dominic's head was bursting with snakes, "Um, Dom..." Lee started, his eyes wide, "Last time I checked, the year was 2003."
It was Dominic's turn to look at them wild-eyed, "Um, well. That explains the fact there's not a single modern car around." He glanced around, finally understanding why there was an overwhelming amount of older cars in this universe.
"What do you mean by 'modern cars'? Do you mean that this shit will end?" Lee asked, exasperated.
"I don't know," Dominic wanted to explain this, but it seemed too difficult, "and I don't really know how to explain this. I guess, I'm not really from here."
"What do you mean you're not from here?" Lee asked, baffled by this young boy's ability to beat around a bush..
"It's really hard to explain, but… do you know of the multiverse theory?"
"Okay, before we go any further," Carley interrupted him, not wanting to hear this shit anymore, "How do we know you're actually telling us the truth? I mean, I trust you, Dominic. But this is serious, maybe you just dreamt all of this? We need proof." She looked around frantically, as if what she just said would cue the dropping of it automatically.
Dominic thought it over, trying to remember the events that will unfold soon, "Well, I can tell you this: things around here are going to get worse. Soon, bandits will start attacking us, looking for food and medicine. They don't have the St. Johns around to trade with anymore, and will need a new supplier. Of course, we don't have enough food and supplies for us, so they'll try to take it by force. Lilly and Kenny are going to get into even more fights, although you wouldn't need me to tell you that. Lastly…" His voice trailed off as he gazed at Lee and Carley, "The motel is going to fall, some time this week." He looked around, trying to guess what they would think of this. Lee stood there, sympathy in his eyes, though panic rose quickly; he believed him. Carley, on the other hand, her face screamed the word 'bullshit'. She almost looked as if she was disgusted at the young boy sitting in front of her.
Her nose raised as she said, "I can't fucking believe you."
"He's telling the truth," Lee defended him immediately, turning on Carley, "He's been right this entire time, don't discredit him so quickly."
"What?! Don't buy into his bullshit, Lee!" Carley snapped, in pure disbelief Lee would be so naïve.
"You don't have to believe me," Dominic shrugged, crossing his arms, "But you will once this week is over," He kept his eyes fixed on her.
"We'll see about that."
Six days later…
Shortly after coming back from the St. John farm, bandit raids became an everyday occurrence, leaving the survivors exhausted and the motel littered with arrows; the dumpsters protecting them covered in bullet holes. The group pushed on, defending their lot with everything they had, but the raiders kept coming, taking every drip of confidence they had with them. Kenny and Dominic were pushing for them to leave the motel, but Lilly refused, feeling her new home deserved to be defended. The survivors were low on food, ammo, meds, and everything in between, yet she wanted to stay. On another note, Lee wasn't sure who to side with; things were getting worse, and Dominic's predictions have been spot on; he found himself gravitating towards Kenny and Dominic's side, who were more than ready to drive out of there in the RV, but Lilly was the woman in charge. Everyone was on edge, waiting for the next bandit raid which never came, after three days of nonstop hell.. Since then, things have been unusually quiet, which set the group from determination to defend themselves, into revved up anxiety.. What were the bandits planning? Why have the attacks stopped?
For Ben, everything was going as planned. He grabbed the stash of meds he stole and headed out into the night, the crickets chirping in the distance, and the moon high in the sky. A cold breeze brushed the side of his face as he tipped towards the side of the motel, his feet lightly tapping the cement. Everyone had gone to bed nearly two hours earlier. He fumbled around and hastily clicked on his flashlight and cautiously walked, marking a sign on the wall for the bandits with pink chalk, a sign to let them know the stash wasn't on this side. As he began to walk back, the sound of a rat scurrying away made him jump, dropping the flashlight. It shattered, sending him into total darkness, and glass onto the pavement.
"Shit," He breathed and fumbled for the broken flashlight, inspecting it closely, noticing the light bulb had broken as well. "Fuck, Lilly's gonna kill me if she sees this…"
With no other options, he ran, forgetting about the glass, to the dumpster behind the motel and threw the shattered flashlight inside. Sighing with relief, he began sneaking back to the front, stashing the meds in a vent just outside the motel gates. With the deed done, he slipped back into his room, unaware of the chain of events he just set in motion.