The Witch Hunt
"Clear," Dominic hissed as they rounded the corner, nothing but cement and buildings in sight; no figures ahead. As the trio rounded the corner, nothing was heard except the pounding of their feets on the cold asphalt. With the Everett Drug Store in sight, Dominic moved with ease down the sidewalk, halting with his back towards the brick wall.
"Let's get this over with," Lee sighed, tightening his grip on his sniper rifle.
The entrance to the drug store was blocked off by debris, and a crashed helicopter burrowed it's way into the roof. It reminded Dominic of a scene from an apocalyptic movie, similar to the one he's been living in for three months. They walk slowly across the road towards the store, looking for a surprise attack with each silent step.
Exhaling a deep breath, Kenny whispered as he gawked at the helicopter staring from above, "Looks like this is our lucky day."
"Yeah," Lee agreed, hands unmoving, "This might actually go smoothly."
"I wouldn't count on it," Dominic chimed in, his signature knife already in hand, waiting for any sign of movement.
"Well," Kenny added, shrugging at Dominic's words, "We deserve it after last time." Dominic glanced at Kenny, a gleam of hope in his eyes, before walking closer to the drug store.
They continued to search the area, peeking into abandoned stores along the road and down alleyways. All of them empty and abandoned, some even seemed to have been ransacked before their arrival. As they approached the drug store, Kenny's gunshot wound throbbed in pain, making him wince.
"Fuck," Kenny griped, rubbing his side as the debris came into full view.
A few steps later, he asked Lee, "You made up your mind yet?"
Lee looked back and asked, "About what," his eyebrows raising.
"When it comes to gettin' the hell out of Macon," Kenny spat, the anger rising in his voice, "I bet you're in the 'let's stay put' camp, considerin' Dominic and I have been pushin' everyone to leave."
"We should go," Lee sighed, "the motel's run its course and it's not safe." He shrugged his shoulders as he said it, the reality has slowly been setting in since the confrontation with Dominic and Carley.
"Well if that's what you think you should probably fuckin' speak up!" Kenny glared at Lee as a frown etched across his face, "Lilly's dug in."
As they finally reached the Drug Store, Kenny added, "Okay, just like last time. Over the rig, into the pharmacy and scrape together whatever supplies are left."
"We didn't leave much in there," Lee interjected, his eyes gazing up at the broken down eighteen-wheeler trailer in front of them.
"Well, we're out of options. Somethin's better than nothin'," He battled as he grabbed onto the ladder attached to the end of the trailer, slowly climbing up. Hoisting himself up, he looked over the trailer, but with his last step, the ladder came loose, falling off one of its hinges.
"Shit," Kenny breathed, looking down at the minor wreckage, "Now what," he whispered.
"You okay?" Lee asked.
"The ladder's come loose. I'm not sure how many more trips she's got in her," Kenny answered, staring down at the two men.
"I'm not sure how many more trips we've got in US," Lee added, peering around at Dominic, who stood behind him.
"No kidding," Dominic deadpanned, taking a look at the broken ladder, "Well, looks like it's not going to support our weight. Perhaps we should use that army jeep instead?"
"Good idea," Lee agreed, taking steps towards the vehicle.
As they hooked the jeep's hook to the trailer, Kenny broke the silence, asking Lee, "Lilly's not doin' so good, huh?"
Lee sighed, a flashback of Kenny crushing Larry's head with a salt lick not even a week ago running through his mind, "It's not good. I'm worried."
"No shit," Kenny quipped, his eyebrows furrowing as he continued, "There's a lot to be worried about; she's gonna snap."
"And it'll be soon, with us pushing her to leave the motel so much," Dominic added as they tied the hook to the trailer, giving it one good tug to make sure it doesn't come loose.
The air went silent as Dominic walked back over to the jeep, flicking the switch for the hook; the rope winded itself back around as the car inched closer to the trailer before finally bumping against it.
"Clementine still upset with you for agreeing to take that stuff from the station wagon?" Kenny asked Lee as they hopped on top of the jeep's hood, his tone more casual.
"I think she understands," Lee thought, and winced as images of Clementine's upset face ran through his mind, with Dominic in the background lost in his own thoughts. The kid had come a long way since that night, mostly because of Clementine. Now, Dominic was mostly himself again, but Lee could tell when he had his own flashbacks; a blank stare arose from the dark-haired boy. He didn't move, just sat still, as if a voice or movie played in his conscience, and he listened to every word with fear and guilt.
"Hope so," Kenny replied as he frowned, "Not like we had much of a choice."
"Right, " Lee agreed as he grabbed Dominic and gave him a boost, the younger boy grabbing the ledge of the trailer as he pulled himself up, then reached back down for Lee.
As Dominic helped Lee up, Kenny spoke, a more concerned voice seeped through, "Duck was asking about that guy at Hershel's farm last night…"
"Really?" Lee grunted as he grabbed hold of the ledge and pulled himself up, "I wasn't sure it phased him."
"Of course it did," Kenny said, surprised.
"It was a scary situation for him; Shawn getting attacked by walkers, and us cutting his leg off," Lee conceded.
"Do we even know if that worked?" Kenny asked, sincerely curious.
"If we cut it off in time," Dominic added, "Then it worked."
"You're awfully confident about that," Kenny retorted, shooting a glare in Dominic's direction, "I'm still surprised you even suggested it."
Lee and Dominic exchanged a quick glance before Dominic replied, "I saw some serious shit before I got out of Atlanta, I was surprised too when I first saw it happen."
Kenny sighed as his shoulders visibly slumped, "I'm just worried that Duck'll always think it was his fault."
"Anyway," Dominic interrupted again, "Let's go get these supplies before-"
The trio covered their ears as a nightmarish scream pierced the air behind them, as if it followed them. They turned, a woman in tattered and bloodied clothing came running out of a department store, walkers surrounding her. She let out another blood-curdling scream; "HELP ME!" as if some unseen savior would jump out and save her, but all three men were frozen cold. "HELP ME!" she repeated, again and again.
"What the-" Kenny breathed, staring at the herd,"What the hell is that?! A walker?!"
"Walkers don't scream, do they?" Lee asked slowly, his eyes wide.
"Jesus," Kenny gasped, "I don't think so."
"They don't," Dominic interjected as his hand slipped down to the pistol in his pocket.
Raising up his rifle, Lee peered through the scope, "It's a girl. She's going to get us killed," he hissed.
"No shit…" Kenny's voice trailed off as a perfect plan formed in his mind, "actually…"
"Fuck, we gotta shoot her," Lee insisted, looking back at Kenny and Dominic, "Put her out of this misery."
Kenny shook his head in disbelief, "They don't know we're here!" He whispered.
"What do you mean?" Lee could hardly believe what this man was suggesting, "We could save her."
"It's a little late for that, Lee. She's already been bit," Dominic argued.
"I mean, we leave her alive and she draws them all to her, buying us time." Kenny interjected, both men ignoring Dominic's comment.
"Ken…" Lee started.
"Think about it!" Kenny insisted, "We're always worryin' about the ones we can't see. She stays alive and brings them all out of their holes!"
Lee hesitated as he looked from Kenny to Dominic, who added, "Leave her, Lee. We need to get these supplies."
"Of all the people I thought would try to save a girl's life…" Lee sighed, a tone of sarcasm rising in his voice.
"Some people can't be saved," Dominic whispered back, his eyes lowering as the thought of Larry and Mark passed through his already-guilty conscience, "It's best not to waste your time with them."
Rolling his eyes, Lee nodded, already regretting his decision as he stepped towards the edge.. They hopped off the trailer and rushed to the other side, the girl's screams could still be heard within the clamor behind them, making Lee's heart sink as each shriek pierced the trio ran towards the drug store's doors, distant screeches following them. A tiny tear threatened to drop from Lee's eyes as he opened the door, forcing himself to step inside. As the door closed, a gentle moan echoed, losing touch as the door finally shut. He just hoped that they made the right decision.
An hour later..
As they approached the motel, the men noticed Ben sitting casually in the lawn chair atop the RV, rifle in hand. To Dominic, it was almost comical; did the boy even know how to shoot a rifle? He inwardly shrugged at his own question.
Once they were inside the gates, Clementine stood up and ran to Lee and Dominic, walkie-talkie in hand, "You're back!" She held out the radio as if it was the best thing in the world, "Ben found some stickers in a drawer and I put 'em on my walkie!" Clementine jumped, bursting with excitement at this new discovery.
"Hey sweet pea," Lee chuckled, "That's neat, I'll find you in a minute." With that, he hugged Clementine. They continued to Lilly's room just beyond the RV, and knocked on the wall, a second later, she answered the door.
"Looks like we got the kid on watch again," Kenny deadpanned, glancing at Ben over his shoulder, then quickly returned his gaze to Lilly, who had leaned on the doorframe during his quick look.
Rolling her eyes at Kenny, she turned to Lee, "What'd you get," She eyed him, noticing the backpack in his hands.
Frowning, Kenny continued, "We might as well leave a sign that says 'the men are gone, come rape our women and children,'" throwing his hands up as he spoke, baffled by her naïvety.
"Ha," She breathed, taking the rifle from Lee and setting it down on an end table just within the room, "So, what did you get," still eying the backpack.
"A shitton of stuff," Dominic piped up, crossing his arms as Kenny handed Lilly the backpack of supplies.
"We're fine, by the way," Kenny retorted, gazing out towards the lot, noticing Katjaa and Duck not far off.
She perused through the backpack's contents before commenting, "Nice work, this'll keep us going," She walked back over to them and finished, "If we carry on like this, we'll get through the winter here." She glanced over the men, approving her set of hunters.
"The winter?!" Kenny growled, anger seething in his voice, "We'll freeze our asses off here!"
Her eyes narrowed, "Because piling into an RV with you, after what you you did to my dad, is so appealing." The way she said this was enough to make Dominic gulp. It was calm, yet threatening. He shifted uncomfortably as Kenny shrugged it off.
"Why wouldn't it be? You know I'll do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe," Kenny countered.
"Can you two stop fighting for fucking five minutes?" Dominic snapped, "I'm sick of this shit."
"That makes two of us," Lilly seethed, her eyes unmoving as she stared at Kenny.
Lee sighed as reality struck him, "We have to go eventually, Lilly." He lit the match, now he had to wait for everything to burn.
She turned to look at him, "I know, Lee. I know. Eventually is different," she sighed as she realized that the tide was turning against her.
"There is no difference," Dominic retorted as Katjaa and Carley approached the room, clearly seeing the huddle.
"At it again, are we?" Carley cooed.
"Can it Carley," Kenny snapped at her.
"Don't boss people around," Lilly shot at Kenny, her voice like ice, leaning forward with her fists clenched.
"Come on guys, we're strongest together," Lee voiced, trying to calm everyone down, then added as he glanced at Kenny, "I know you think I'm on her side, but there are no sides, dammit."
"What about the food situation? What about protection? What about when this place falls?" Kenny asked, getting tired of being on the losing side, "Somebody's gotta be thinking about this shit," looking around in desperation, wishing someone would listen to him for once.
"How has this not been working? We have everything we need!" Lilly spat, glaring at Kenny through cruel eyes..
"'Cause of me, Lilly," Kenny deadpanned.
"We deal with shit as it comes, just like we always do," Lee attempted to defuse the situation as he exchanged a glance with Carley and Dominic, looking at him in desperation.
"And when fifteen bandits hop over that wall in the middle of the night?" Kenny countered, "What then? You just gonna deal with that," he shouted, pointing towards the barricade as if someone was jumping it at that moment.
"Everything that happens to us is another excuse for you to pull this crap about leaving," Lilly quipped, placing her hand on her hip, "All I want is a week of peace; of not hearing it."
"Do you know how we got these supplies?" Kenny snarled, inching closer to Lilly, fists clenched.
"Don't you start," Dominic interrupted, stepping in between them, looking in their eyes with disappointment "Now's not the time for this shit."
Kenny ignored the boy, pressing on, "We got lucky and let a girl get eaten out there."
"What…?" Katjaa gasped from behind the argument, looking up at her husband in horror.
Kenny looked back at his wife, sarcasm dripping like rain in his voice, "Yeah! Some girl came screaming out of an alley, had dead hanging all over her." He slowly turned his head back to Lilly, meeting her exasperated gaze, "she gave us enough time to get everything we could out of the drugstore."
"And you just let her suffer like, what? Like bait?! God, what is happening…" Lilly shook her head in disbelief. The fact that Kenny would do this, and that Lee and Dominic went along with it, just sickened her..
"We got what we needed," Dominic shrugged unapologetically. He wasn't going to sugarcoat it, "It was unavoidable."
"Dom's right," Lee supported, "I don't think we could've gotten everything we did if we killed her," he shrugged, needing her to grasp the events that had happened.
"We've been putting our lives on the line doing these runs into the city," Kenny growled before shouting, "You wouldn't believe the shit we see."
"We all appreciate it, Ken-" Katjaa shuddered, attempting to calm her husband down.
"You should be thanking Lee for not shooting that girl," Kenny yelled, eyes raging with fury at Lilly.
"It's not so easy for him," Lilly countered, her hand jittering, desperately wishing she could deck him in the face.
Kenny sighed, waiting a moment and chose his next words precisely, "Look, Macon and its people aren't savable. It's not a town. It's full of walkers and the people who were left are dying and wanderin' out onto the streets." He pointed, his finger aiming at the streets, but secretly aimed at the whole city, with them in the center of a herd, wanting nothing but their flesh, "It's hell on earth, and it's comin' this way."
"IT'S NOT GOING TO BE EASIER OUT ON THE ROAD!" Lilly screamed as she paced back into her room, the thought wildly crossing her mind to slam the door right in Kenny's arrogant face.
"How would you know?" Kenny hollered, following her.
"WHAT I KNOW?!" She scoffed, turning around to look at them once more, "I know you're not above murder! I know somebody has been stealing our supplies! That's right, STEALING, and I know the list of people I can trust here gets SMALLER EVERY DAY!" She pointed at them, every word jabbing at another soul, as if marking every one of them for suspicious activity.
She turned around once more, folding her arms, "Now everybody, GET OUT."
With the metaphorical door slammed in their face, the group find themselves back in the lot, each person frozen with the image of Lilly shrieking in their heads. Lee, however, broke the ice; "she's right, you know. Shit's just getting worse by the day."
"Whatever, Lee," Kenny sighed, wandering off, his anger subsiding into remorse "You've picked your sides," he whispered nearly out of earshot.
"Ken, that's not fair," Katjaa lectured.
"All I know is whenever this shit happens, I'm the fucking bad guy," Kenny growled, throwing his hands up into the air, "I'd like a thank you for once, for once!"
"Oof, things are coming to a head," Carley whispered once Kenny and Katjaa walked off, leaving Lee, Carley and Dominic alone.
"And it's only going to get worse," Dominic let out a sigh, turning towards them, "I'm going to go check up on Clementine, let me know if you need anything-"
His voice broke off, and with that, he strolled away, evidently shaken and thoughtful, leaving Carley and Lee alone. After a brief, and awkward silence, Carley spoke, "Well, I think you did good today," she shrugged, trying, but ultimately failing to force the atmosphere to change, "and I find myself thinking that most days." A thin smile arose on her lips as she gazed up at him.
Lee rubbed his arm, seeing how her eyes were looking at him, and he wasn't quite sure how to take it, "Thanks."
She held her hand up and examined Lee's face, making sure that he didn't get hurt while he was in town, "It's probably worth following up with Lilly about, what she was saying about missing supplies," she suggested after a brief moment, her hand going back down to her hips, "With her wound up the way she is, I don't want to see her paranoid." She stared at him, almost like a partner in crime.
"No question," He breathed, still feeling a bit awkward. For a brief second there, it almost felt as if she was…
"And I'd like to talk, when you've got a minute," She finished, blinking quickly as Lee nodded. Not waiting for a response, she walked off, heading up the stairs to the second floor of the motel, looking out at the faces below.
Lee sighed as he was left with the impossible task of finding out what the fuck is going on in the motel. Is someone really stealing supplies from them? Why didn't Dominic tell him about it? Was there more the boy was hiding? He said "The motel is going to fall, some time this week," is this what he meant? Lee shook his head as the hundreds of bodies, called anxiety, flew around his brain. He found himself at Lilly's door once again, knocking quietly before letting himself in.
Lilly sat on her bed, her head resting in her hands as she rubbed her temples, when Lee entered. Lilly looked up at him, her eyes suddenly puffy, whispering with a hint of guilt and a crack in her voice, "I'm sorry."
"You don't have to apologize," Lee exhaled, sitting down in a chair across from the bed.
She shifted her gaze, looking up at him, "Did you come in here to give me hell or to coddle me?" Her usual flat tone smoothing out the cracks.
"Well," He shrugged, "I wanted to follow up on what you said about stolen supplies."
Her eyes shifted from a look of guilt to one of hope as she started slowly, "Do you know what's going on?"
"I don't," Lee paused for a moment, "I just heard you mention it."
"Things are missing, and I could use your help," She pleaded, unsure who she could trust anymore, but Lee tried to help her dad, so she silently hoped that he could help now. "There's a traitor, somebody, one of us, out there," she spoke, her voice raising out of anger. "He or she or they have been taking things." She stood up, looking frantic as if her mind couldn't tell which way to pace as the eminent thought process kicked in.
He couldn't believe what she was saying; he would trust every single person in this group with his life, and he couldn't see one of them betraying the group so easily. He let out a deep sigh, waving his hand around as he countered, "Paranoia isn't going to help us," simply dismissing her suggestions, again.
Her gaze shifted to the floor, before finally stating, "I know what this sounds like, but I'm not paranoid. The count's off, and it's the good stuff: Antibiotics, oxy, fuck, anything with opium in it," her voice raising.
His eyes narrowed slightly as he thought; he has seen no evidence to support Lilly's accusations, "I see the count, and it's fine," Lee affirmed. He had gone over the supply count dozens of times, this was like any other.
"I keep my own. That one's getting messed with," She pointed to the other side of the wall, groaning as the reality of the situation beared down on her, "I'm a fucking mess right now, but I'm not stupid. I know what happens if I start a witch hunt."
"So you want me to start one," Lee gasped, eyebrows raising as he considered what she was asking.. Who could the traitor even be? The only people Lee could think of that would do something against Lilly was Kenny, or… Dominic. No, couldn't be Dominic. Why would he steal from us? The kid's been protecting us from day one, it can't possibly be him. But… why didn't he mention this? Surely he would've known about the stolen supplies… He rubbed his temple as a headache flared. Paranoia won't get you anywhere, Lee.
"I just want you to poke around," Lilly suggested, bringing him back from the paranoia seeping in
Lee sighed one last time, shaking his head. This is idiotic. "Alright, what's there to go on?" Am I really getting into this?
She rummaged underneath the bed, pulling out a yellow flashlight, "I found this tossed into the garbage," she replied in an even tone, nearly shoving the flashlight into his stomach as she returned a gaze.
Lee examined the flashlight closely, noticing that the light bulb and glass were both busted. Someone must've dropped it. He looked up at Lilly as she continued, "We don't toss out equipment; we fix it. You'd only try to get rid of a flashlight if you were using it when you shouldn't," she stared up at him, silently hoping he had any leads.
"Okay," Lee replied, intrigued by the broken flashlight, "I'll poke around a little bit."
"Thank you," She huffed.
The warm October sun nestled over the motel as the flaring emotions settled as evening approached. The last few days seemed to surpass as if the motel were a grater, and it rubbed rough until what it sought was gone; their sanity. With the struggling decision of leaving and defending, and the new thief and traitor running about with supplies, the motel was down to its last inch, tugging away at every slice it could muster. Paranoia now freely reigned over the survivors, picking at the nerves like a disease waiting to strike its host dead, leaving the remains to rot. Welcome, to a new type of Hell.
Though, this was Hell, a few fallen angels raised from the ashes; Duck and Clementine. While the adults prowled around, looking for either food or each other, all the angels wanted to do was play. Duck enjoyed chasing Clementine, hollering a blissful "wait up," every now and then, the sun potentially blinding their eyes or short gusts of wind sending a chill around their arms. Clementine, more reserved, would slowly slum into a jog, or downright stop and wait on her new friend, and encourage other seemingly relaxed playthings, like talking on her talkie, or drawing. Whenever they weren't running around or babbling to their parents (or for Clementine, it was Lee), the kids would go their separate ways; Duck would sleep in his father's RV, or cling to his mother, either for protection or bonding. Clementine would return to her spot on the warm cement, and continue a drawing.
"So, uh, what are you working on there, Clem?" Dominic asked as he sat down next to her, admiring the pictures she had been working on since her and Duck had stopped playing..
"It's called a leaf rubbing," She replied with a childish grin, "My teacher Miss Moore showed us how to do 'em when we went to the Botanical Garden once," she picked up the drawing, and showed him the leaf, "See? It's the same! Umm, kind of," she frowned as her tiny fingers smeared the edges of the picture.
"That's pretty neat," Dominic complimented, smiling at her rough sketches.
Her smile grew wider as she added in a sing-song voice, "I'll make one for you, too," a gentle giggle erupting through the words.
Dominic's head spun around when a door shut behind him, he watched as Lee walked towards the stairs to the balcony, heading up to join Carley. The thought crossed his mind if they were ever going to get together. He wanted them to when he played the game, but then… He closed his eyes as images of Lilly shooting Carley in the head raced through his mind. No, he wasn't going to let that happen again. He wanted Lee to be able to be happy, and explore that relationship further, not have it taken away so suddenly like before.
He watched Clementine continue to work on her leaf rubbing, scrubbing with furious delight over the weathered paper, grinning from ear to ear (probably at the thought of Dominic's approval), before finally deciding to join Lee and Carley. He stood up, walking up the stairs just in time to overhear Lee blur out in surprise, "You really think people are ready to hear about me?"
"It's not a matter of ready or not," Carley corrected, "There's never going to be a good time, but there are going to be a lot of bad ones; right now doesn't seem like one of them." She leaned against the railing, gazing up at Lee with a look of hope surrounding her tanned face.
"She's right," Dominic chimed in as he approached, the duo quickly turning on him, "I would tell them, Lee. At least, some of them. No telling how everyone would react." Everyone stood in silence as Lee and Carley processed what Dominic was suggesting.
Lee sighed, leaning into the railing like Carley, leaving Dominic the only one standing upright. "Thanks for the advice, guys," he said after a while, looking towards Carley. "I'm gonna go look into this thing."
Carley nodded in understanding as he walked off, shaking hands and leaving Dominic to take his place next to Carley. They watched in silence as he began to talk to Clementine and Kenny, Dominic overhearing mumbled questions about the flashlight. When Lee walked off to the other side of the motel, Carley finally spoke up, breaking up the stalking game.
"I wanted to say that I'm sorry," she spoke, her words sounding forced, "for not believing you."
"It's alright," He accepted shyly, shrugging it off, "I wouldn't of believed me either."
"I just think I overreacted," She sighed, turning to look at him, "You didn't deserve that."
"It's fine, Carley. Really," He insisted, a small smile on his face, "Apology accepted."
She smiled back, a slight laugh sounding before a thought dashed through her mind, forcing the smile away, "Do you…" she choked, "do you know anything about the stolen supplies?" She hesitated, holding her breath, fearing the answer he'd give her.
"Right, the stolen medicine," He sighed, not really wanting to talk about it. Sometimes, Dominic and Ben didn't get along, but he didn't want to reveal what he did to the rest of the group yet. If it came from his lips, they would never forgive Ben, condemning him until his gruesome death. "I believe they're hidden in a vent just outside the walls," He mused, giving her an eye before he watched Lee push the dumpster they use as a gate for the barricade open. "He's going to find it in the next few minutes," he warned, taking a deep breath.
"Do you know who did it?" She asked, standing tall. She inched closer to Dominic, as if pressuring him for answers, her tone changed from curiosity to concern with every step.
Fuck. I can't just tell her; they'll kick out Ben…
"Dominic….." She pressed, now standing right beside him, glaring at him, her pupils turning to knives jabbing for this last, final clue.
Got it. He sighed, "No, I don't. Never found out." He lied, looking at Carley, forcing himself to meet her pestering gaze. Shit. He thought, his lie sounded unconvincing to him, but she nodded in surprised understanding.
"That's alright," Carley muttered, her tone switching like a blade from mettling back to calm with a single flick. Her posture relaxed, as Dominic felt her breath leave his neck; she stepped back. "I can't expect you to know everything." He felt her eyes roll feet away.
Sometimes I wish I didn't.
Lee gripped the bag of medicine in his hand as he pushed open Lilly's door, again. His heart was heavy as well as his eyes as the truth sank in;someone stabbed them in the back, and he had no idea who did it.
Lilly glanced at him as he came in, the bag unnoticed, "You haven't come up with anything, have you," she groaned, zoned into her palms, her shoulders weighing heavily as the world perched on top.
"I came up with this," he deadpanned as he tossed the bag into her hands, "It's got a bunch of meds in it. It was in a grate on the outside wall, and there's a sign on the other one." His tone shifted through hurt to pain, to disgust in one sentence, roughening as what happened set in.
Her eyes went wide as she perused through the stash, "Holy fuck," she gasped.
Anxiety and blood-fueled rage set in her mind as she tried to decide what to do. She frantically looked around the room, as if the answer was hidden on the walls. Lee was a blind spot in her blurry surreal mirror as the panic only incremented.. Who the fuck would do this to us? WHY the fuck would someone do this to us? "Okay," She murmured, slowly looking back at Lee, his face coming into focus. "We line everybody up. Everybody."
She shook her head as she pictured each person stealing supplies from them, "Somebody is killing us. Stealing from that supply is the same as slipping into your room at night and cutting your throat while you sleep." Her voice turned frantic as multiple scenarios popped in her mind. "You die. What is the difference? What if Clementine gets sick and we don't have what we need-"
Her voice trailed off as movement just outside the window caught her eye, "What the hell?"
A voice boomed outside, "YOU DON'T FUCKING STEAL FROM US!"
Lee jumped where he stood, "Who the fuck is that?!" He shrieked.
He gazed out the window, a man in white with a black ski-mask was walking towards the door. Behind him, Lee could barely see three figures hovering over a small group of people crouched on their knees. The first was similar to the first bandit; white, but with sunglasses and a hoodie over her head, and holding a crossbow. The third man had a trucker's hat and a worn green jacket, gripping a handgun to what seemed to be a woman's head. Behind the bandits, Lee gasped in horror as the dumpster closing the gate was tipped over, the contents strewn on the asphalt..
"What do we do?" Lee breathed as Lilly ran to her rifle at the back of the room, "Lilly?!" He hissed.
"They're gonna start kicking in doors any second," Lilly hollered, reaching out to open the back window, the masked man now looking towards his captives.
"Lilly what the hell are you doing?!" Lee hissed, rushing to the back window and gripped her arm firmly, pulling her back. "You're going to get us killed!"
She slapped his hand away as she turned to look at him, "Just, stall them."
"What?" He raised his eyebrows at the command.
"Just keep them talking," She snapped before slipping out the window, "Do whatever it takes to stop him from pulling the trigger," She gave him one last firm look before she sneaked to the balcony stairs, rifle in hand.
Behind him, he heard the bandit's voice boom again, "YOU MADE THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF YOUR LIVES!" Maniacal laughter followed.
Dominic held his hands hard against his head as he heard the bandit bark to one of his friends, "Enough of this bullshit! Drew, start putting your boot to these doors!"
How did he find himself in this situation? Carley and he had been talking on the balcony, overlooking the lot, when a loud boom had made them glance. Three bandits had gained entry to the motel's lot, all brandishing weapons. "C'mon," Carley hissed at Dominic. The two turned to run and corner the motel, out of sight, when a high pitched scream pierced his ears. Dominic turned just in time to see a man in a black ski-mask slap Clementine, and drag her to the center of the lot.
"Dominic!" Her voice was nothing more than a whisper in his head as he rushed down the steps, knife in hand. With an arm in the air, ready to strike, he stopped, cold.
"Not so fast, dipshit," The man in the ski-mask mask coined. Dominic stared, seeing red as a barrel pressed against his forehead, the cold metal of death and peace sent a shiver down his skull.
"Drop it," The man snapped. The knife clattered to the ground, the bandit in the white hoodie kicking it away.
"Over there," the bandit gestured, towards the center. Dominic slowly raised his arms, and gently walked, standing beside Clementine.
"Dom-" Clementine whispered, tears staining her face.
"Quiet!" The bandit roared, hitting her again. Dominic turned, landing his fist onto the black masked man, and kicking him in the kneecap, watching him crumble towards the ground. Dominic ran towards the hooded bandit, swiftly knocking her sideways, and taking jumps for his knife. He turned, ready to kill, when he suddenly saw black.
Oh shit. Carley watched as Dominic was hit over the head by the ski-masked man's gun, and dragged the boy back to the center. Carley crouched down to her knees, and crawled to the steps, watching in pain as her group was dragged, one by one, to the center of the lot. She stopped before descending, as Katjaa was thrown to the side, starting a line. Carley whined in agony as she realized what these murderers were planning; execution.
Carley strategically descended the steps, as she kept her eyes glued to the barrels that could just as quickly be pointed at her, then her friends. She glanced over towards the dumpster, seeing it tipped, bullet holes smeared on the other side. With a simple glance, she saw the bandits were distracted. She tiptoed towards the dumpster, seeking cover. Hugging the brick wall of the motel, she creeped past the ambush, and managed to see a clear headway to the dumpster. Heart pounding, she took one last look.
"RUN!" It was Kenny, mouthing the word, seeking desperate glances at her like a possible savior from his potential execution.
"What you lookin' at?" The hooded bandit asked, kneeling down and pinching Kenny's shirt in her palms.
"What d'ya mean?" He stammered, daring not to turn his eyes from this woman. The bandit glanced back, seeing a figure dart for the dumpster.
I think I made it. Carley looked around the corner of the dumpster, seeing her friends, now in a line, with guns to their heads.
Shit. She leaned back, pressing her back to the cold metal frame of the dumpster. She attempted to control her breath, she closed her eyes. Weapon. She opened her eyes, looking feverishly around the asphalt. She reached into her pockets; nothing.
"Fuck!" She hissed, taking another glance. She froze, the wooden blade pressing against her temple.
"Didn't think ya'd get out of it that easy, did ya?" She cackled, the bandit pressing the arrow deeper into the girl's temple, then cocked the arrow into her crossbow.
A single tear slid down her cheek before everything went black.
Lee stood in front of the door, taking a deep breath, eyes closed.
God help me.
He opened the door, stumbling over each step, walking into danger; he walked into the fire.
"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" The masked man shouted, aiming the gun at the now whimpering Carley. He hustled closer to her, grabbing her face and forced her to look into his eyes.
"I said hush," his voice was rough, but soft. The mix that only called for murder. Today was Carley's judgement day. "Or I will blow your fucking brains out, and make her watch," he spat, pointing at Clementine in the back of the line.
"Leave her alone!" The bandit let go of Carley, laughing maniacally as Dominic raised himself up, staring at the older man.
"I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR BULLSHIT," he barked, leaving Carley to cry. He stood in front of Dominic, raising his pistol again.
"I think we've ALL had enough of you." The bandit in the black ski mask cocked the pistol, and placed the barrel against the back of Dominic's head.
"Wait," a hushed voice came from ahead of him. The bandit looked up, gun ready.
As Lee came into view, the ski-mask bandit pointed his gun at his head, barking, "Hold it asshole!"
Lee's hands slowly raised as he spoke in the calmest tone he could muster, "Take it easy…"
Dominic looked up at Lee, as their eyes met, Lee continued, "We have more supplies. We can keep the deal going."
The bandit shook his head, "Too late shithead! We ain't givin' second chances!"
"I-It was a mix-up! We'll make it worth your while!" Lee pressed, evoking looks from his group.
"I'm listenin'..." The bandit said, narrowing his eyes, his gun unwavering.
"We'll leave you everything," Lee offered, slowly moving towards the bandits, "Just let us walk out of here."
"So you can try to pay US a little visit later?" The bandit scoffed, laughing as his finger twitched against the trigger of his gun, "Fuck that!" The bandit glanced around at his partners, whom were laughing along.
His voice boomed once again, "All right, I've had enough of this shit!" The leader precised his aim, ready to pull the trigger. "Drew, take these motherf-" A deafening crack pierced the air as the leader of the bandits dropped to the ground, his gun sliding away from him. A pool of blood quickly emerged from his skull. A look of shock permanently etched on his face; the blood flowing onto the hot cement.
NOW! Carley and Dominic moved in sync. Carley reached forward and grabbed the bandit's discarded pistol and shot the bandit in the green jacket far off as Dominic grabbed a hold of the hooded one, wrestling for her crossbow. Seeing a weak point, he swung, striking with a solid punch, the hooded bandit was on the ground. Seeing it in the distance, he scrambled for his knife just a few feet away. Turning over just in time, he stabbed his knife into the bandit's chest. She screamed as blood poured down on Dominic, covering his face. He struggled and rolled on top of her, pulling the knife out of her chest and thrusted it into her forehead, more blood seeping through the grey hoodie; turning from grey to a dark crimson. As he stood up, he heard a rustling beyond the woods. He turned around just in time to see a horde of bandits rush out of the woods, coming straight to the motel.
Seeing the RV, he dashed out behind a pile of grey cinder blocks beside it. Pressing his back to the rough landscape, he saw Carley not far off. Ignoring the sounds of guns, he reached out, gesturing her to help. Carley took a few shots as she stood up from another dead bandit, and ran towards Dominic.
Dominic leaned out from the cinder blocks and threw rocks randomly into the forest. With luck, he was met by an array of cracks and whizzes as he screamed, pressing his back against the cold stone. Seconds later, crunching sounds came from behind him, he turned around and see Carley standing behind him.
"Are you okay?" Carley shouted over the bullets in the air.
"Yes," Dominic hollered, feeling air pressing hard on his left shoulder.
As bullets whizzed by, Carley began firing at the bandits from behind the cinder blocks. Over his shoulder, Dominic saw Ben run and cower beside him, "Shit, shit, shit, shit!"
"Calm down!" Dominic roared at the boy, peeking out to see Lee and Kenny hiding behind the RV.
"We gotta get out of here!" Kenny yelled, pressing hard against the RV's metal wall.
"No shit!" Lee hollered back, forgetting the bandits for a moment to give Kenny an agitated look.
"Get those bastards!" Kenny yelled as he gave Lee the rifle he was holding, and ran to get the RV started, "Cover our people and get them to the RV!"
Dominic still didn't have a gun, and as bandits poured into the motel like zombies, he had to rely on Lee to make an opening for them. Ben was hyperventilating, repeating madness over and over beside him like a frightened child; "I don't want to die, I don't want to die."
"Ben, for once," Dominic seethed, slapping the boy in the face, "Shut the fuck up and focus!" He glared at the terror-stricken boy as more bandits poured into the motel like rats, edging closer to the group.
The shocked look Ben gave him was priceless, almost enough to make Dominic laugh, but he did as he was told. Dominic sheathed his knife as he looked up and watched Lee take out bandit after bandit, waiting for Kenny to give some kind of "move it!" signal.
A moment later, the way was clear. Lee yelled for them, waving his arm at the group, "Now! Get over here! Hurry!"
Dominic has never run faster in his life. As the bullets whizzed past, he didn't even care. He didn't see a bullet, he didn't see a bandit, or a forest, or even an RV. All Dominic could see was a door. That fucking door means freedom. A brief second later, he was jumping inside the RV like an olympic champion, only faintly hearing Ben yell to Lee, "Man, you saved our asses!"
"Get inside!" Lee roared back, ignoring the compliment and ran to the opposite side of the RV to help Katjaa, Duck, and Clementine get to the RV. It didn't matter; as he killed more bandits, walkers started eating the rest. Shit. He forgot; the dead returned. He shot quickly, only making sure the bullet would hit. One after another, the cocking and cracks in the air became a deadly rhythm, and he became the DJ. He shot and killed the rest of the bandits and waved for Clementine and the rest to run to him. Clementine sprinted towards him absent-minded, while Katjaa and Duck cowered in fear behind stone cold cover. Glancing only to see a blurred image of a figure waving for her attention, Kajaa grabbed Duck and began pushing him forward towards the RV, wanting to follow in tow. A step into the escape, she fell, her head meeting a wooden box beneath her. A walker crawled on top of them, teeth ready to bite.
"Shit, Katjaa!" Lee yelped as he lifted up the rifle again and shot the walker in the head. It's head thumped against Katjaa's as the bullet dug its way into its brain.
"Aw, Christ!" He heard Kenny yell as the man came running out of the RV to aid his wife and son.
Kenny jumped from the RV, running to his wife and son.
"Come on!" Kenny roared, deliberately pushing his kin through the bullets and smoke, feeling the bullets pierce the air around him. As they approached the RV, Lee reached and pulled Duck into the vehicle, following with Katjaa next. Kenny turned around after he jumped back into the RV, seeing flashes of gunshots on the balcony. Lee roared from the RV, "Lilly! Get in the RV!"
"Screw her!" Kenny yelled back, holding his wife as she wept, "let her stay!"
Now, a continuous stream of walkers were entering the motel. Carley got out to help Lee hold them off until Lilly could get there. As the area cleared out, Lee screamed to her again, "Lilly! Last chance, get down here!" He turned, looking towards the RV. He wanted to be there: get out.
As Carley and Lee jumped inside, Lilly jumped the steps and sprinted across the motel, just barely able to jump onboard before Kenny smashed his foot down on the gas. Closing the door, they said a silent goodbye to their home.
"Kat! Jesus, are you okay?!" Kenny yelled to his wife in the passenger seat, who held Duck in her arms.
"I'm fine," She croaked, "I'm fine!"
From the back, they could hear Ben gasping into his hands, "Oh shit oh shit oh-" He looked up, red eyed, to see Lilly scowling over him. "I'm sorry," he mumbled.
"Everything's fine, Ben," Carley soothed from beside him, wrapping her arms around him, trying to calm the boy down.
"Everything's NOT fine," Lilly spat as she stared at Carley, hatred empowering her face. "We need to figure out how this happened; we just lost EVERYTHING!"
"Well we're lucky as shit to have this RV!" Kenny called back from the driver's seat, getting involved.
"And nobody died," Carley countered.
"Kat's head is split open!" Kenny snapped, looking back at the group for a brief second before concentrating on the road. He checked the rear view mirror to see if anyone was following them as they sped off.
"I'm fine!" Katjaa whined, holding a cloth soaked with blood on her scalp..
Lilly continued to glare at Carley and Ben, whispering with a harsh tone, "Somebody in here caused this." She gazed around the room, mentally putting "guilty" tags over everyone's head.
"Settle down back there; the bandits have had our number for weeks!" Kenny called again, trying to make sense of the situation.
"Lilly, calm down," Dominic reasoned, looking up at Lilly from behind her. "We'll figure this out once we're safe."
"Don't tell me to calm down!" She roared at him, "Somebody was working with them! Whoever it was was slipping them our meds. They didn't get their last package, so they attacked!" Her face was red and her fists white as she clenched them as if she was choking a smurf.
"Seriously, calm down back there, that's nuts!" Kenny shouted over the arguing.
Lilly ignored Kenny's remarks and continued her fiery rampage, "Lee found a bag of supplies hidden outside the wall."
Lee sighed as he gazed at everyone, as if that would signify it as truth. "It's true."
Lilly's shot her attention towards Carley, starting her interrogation, "So, Carley, is there something you want to say?" Her eyes narrowed into slits as she crossed her arms.
"Please," She scoffed back.
"We have to get it out of you then?" Lilly insisted, knowing she's found the traitor. She did a quick sweep around the room; looking for either someone to back her up, or give evidence as to why she could kill Carley. Now.
"Lilly, seriously. Lay the fuck off. It's obvious that it wasn't Carley," Dominic spat, stepping in between the two, "So leave her the fuck alone."
"Thank you, Dom," Carley huffed, shooting metaphorical knives at Lilly with her eyes.
"She can fight her own battles, Dominic. Unless there's something going on here that implicates you both," Her eyes were now locked with Dominic's, who stared back in defiance.
"Don't be ridiculous," Carley scoffed once more.
"Like, look," Ben mumbled, looking between Lilly and Dominic, constantly averting his gaze towards the ground. "Maybe we should, uh, vote, or something like that."
"Shut the fuck up, Ben," Dominic snapped at the boy, who physically backed away from Dominic, deeper into his seat.
"Vote? What?" Lilly laughed.
"Just, look, Carley's a stand-up gal and... maybe... this was all just a... mistake," Ben stuttered as Dominic and Lilly both stared at him in disgust.
"Lilly, stop waving the finger at everybody," Lee interrupted, stepping into the hot room. "We know something's going on and we can get to the bottom of it if we keep our heads," He glared at her as he spoke.
Lilly's death glare now rested upon Lee, "I KNOW what we found." She threw her hands up before returning her hatred towards Ben and Carley.
"I know, Lilly. I know." He whispered.
Ben, who didn't know how to shut up when he was told, continued to babble, "Nobody was stealing ANYTHING!"
Lilly leaned in closer, whispering in such a menacing voice that would scare even the bravest of souls, "Was it both of you?"
His eyes went wide, "What?"
"I've seen you two together, was it BOTH of you?!" She switched her judgemental eyes upon Ben and Carley, proud of her abilities of deduction.
"Look, just let me out. I didn't do it, but I don't like this; I don't like where it's headed," Ben stuttered, frantically looking for a way to the door.
"Lilly, leave him alone!" Dominic snapped, forcing himself between Ben and Lilly once more.
She shoved him out of the way, and stared at Ben once more, "Look me in the eyes, and tell me you didn't have anything to do with it."
"Lilly, lay off of him," Carley chimed in.
"I-" Ben sputtered as the RV shook violently.
"Shit!" Kenny hollered as he struggled to remain in control of the RV.
"What's going on up there?!" Lilly screeched back.
"I hit something," Kenny called, turning to look at them, "We gotta stop!"
"All right," Lilly muttered as she stared at Ben once more, "Well, we can deal with this now, then."
The RV slowly came to a stop on the side of the road. Lee stood at the door and called out to Kenny, "Is it safe?"
"Should be," he grunted.
"Everybody out!" Lilly roared as she pushed Lee out of the way, opening the door.
"Lilly…" He gasped, but the threatening look she gave him stopped his sentence short.
She isn't going to…?
"OUT!" She shouted again.
The group got out, one by one, heads hanging in either fear or anger, possibly both. Lilly barked orders; the drill sergeant. They were ordered to stand in a circle outside the RV on the side of the road. She began marching up and down the row, pulling Kenny and Lee in their not-so respected positions. Every few seconds barking at anyone who dared speak. Dominic felt his stomach tie itself in knots as he realized where things were going. If I don't stop her, Carley is going to get shot. Dominic shuddered at the thought.
Lilly examined their surroundings to make sure they were alone before squatting down to look at what they ran over, "Kenny, the RV has some surface damage but there's a walker trapped underneath." Her voice was nothing but nails on wood.
Kenny left the line and bent down to see the walker moaning underneath the RV, "God dammit. Everyone, keep your eyes peeled." He glanced around the RV and up the road for any more walkers, spying none.
Lilly turned back to the group behind her, "You know what, we shouldn't just kick you out, we should hear what everybody thinks," she nodded at her own monarchy pulling itself into an ordered democracy by her own strings.
"I think you're overreacting," Dominic shot, "Stop treating them like they're already guilty, you don't even know WHO did this." He couldn't contain his shaking, but he didn't want this again.
Ben stood next to him, yelping, "I think you should chill out!"
Carley shook her head before screaming at the dictator, "I'm not going to take this! You can push Ben around but you can't push me around."
"There's no way it was Carley," Lee interjected, "It was somebody else. It could've even been someone sneaking into our camp." Lee wished Dominic would do something, just somehow stop the madness overcoming the group.
"That's ridiculous," Lilly scoffed, looking at him in shock, "That's what you think?" She stared him down, stepping closer to her rebellious minion.
He risked a look at Dominic and Carley before replying, "Yes."
"Okay, fine then," Lilly shrugged, turning away to look at Kenny, "Kenny?"
"I don't know! Fuck! Just, stop, would ya?!" He pleaded, attempting to rip away the walker's corpse from under the RV.
"Well your vote counts for you and Katjaa," she hollered, giving a smirk to the both of them.
"We don't need all these votes!" Ben shouted as tried to breathe. "What do I have to do for you to trust me? I'll do ANYTHING!" He looked around at the group, wishing someone, anyone, would fight this battle for him.
"Ha, the hell you will," She sneered.
"He's broken, Lilly," Lee whispered to her.
"I can see that," She muttered, looking at him, "Do we need any more evidence than this?!"
"Fuck evidence!" Carley shouted, "Stop treating him like this!"
"Shut up, Carley," Lilly groaned, "I've heard enough out of you!" She turned back to Kenny again, asking, "Kenny, what's it going to be?"
"Just give me a damn minute!" He shouted.
"Ben," She started again, staring at the boy, "You have until that walker is dealt with to tell me it was her and not you."
"Stop this, you're torturing him!" Carley screamed, a tear threatening her eye.
"Leave him alone, Lilly!" Dominic shouted, his fists clenched.
"No!" Ben yelped.
"BEN!" Lilly snapped, red hot.
"Lilly, stop!" Carley barked.
"This is about trust," Lilly seethed, looking from Carley to Ben, "and I've never trusted either of you."
"Lilly, lay off," Lee reasoned in as calm of a voice as he could, making Lilly look at him in disdain.
"I can't Lee, you know I can't," She whispered.
"Thank you, Lee," Carley said to him before turning back to Lilly, "Please, listen to him."
"Please don't kick me out of the group!" Ben begged, tears streaming.
"We won't!" Lee yelled in defense of the boy.
"Tell me, now!" Lilly screamed, getting into Ben's face.
Kenny pulled as hard as he could on the walker, the undead corpse ripping in half. He cheered, "There! I got 'em!" he waved the corpse in his hand before dropping it on the ground.
"Please, let's just get back in the RV," Ben pleaded, shaking violently and tears smothering his face.
"That's not happening!" Lilly snapped.
"You think you're some tough bitch, don't you?" Carley mocked, crossing her arms and took a step forward, "Like nothing can hurt you, but you're just a scared little girl," She paused for a second, "Get the fuck over it. Take a page from Lee's book and try helping somebody for once." She glared at Lilly, disgust and hatred filling her throat.
Lilly stared at her with the telltale look that Dominic knew immediately. This is it. As soon as he heard Kenny smash the walker's head, Lilly took out her gun. Time felt still as he pushed Carley out of the way, shouting, "NO!"
He reached out for the gun, attempting to grab it from her, but it backfired, and her finger pulled down on the trigger. A splitting crack deafened everyone's ears as Dominic slumped to the ground, blood pouring out of his shoulder. The earth went silent as he struggled to keep his eyes open. His mind was suddenly numb, and tiny specks pixelated his vision. Lilly's eyes went wide as she stared down at him, a gasp echoing into the air. Her face slipped from hatred to mortification as she stepped back. His eyes grew heavy as he blinked, seeing a blurred Lee tackle the familiar figure into the side of the RV. He blinked one last time, opening them to his room… Then they sealed shut; the neverending blackness engulfing him.