"The Fall" (complete) - A little fanfic made by yours truly

edited July 2014 in Forum Games
Hello there and thank you for clicking this topic. Here, have a seat and feel like at home my dear guest. A few words of explanation at first. I know I'm not exactly who you call an active forum member, I prefer sticking to the shadows where I play my mind games on unsuspecting victi... err... colleagues. BUT there was a certain thread where I posted that I like reading and writing stuff. Sadly after a while I kinda got bored waiting for the creepy pasta, so I started browsing the forums, and after stumbling upon this topic:

http ://www.telltalegames.com/community/discussion/comment/1214748#Comment_1214748

and reading some interesting stuff here:

http ://www.telltalegames.com/community/discussion/60600/start-a-story-be-your-own-fable-create-a-fable-thread

I told myself why the hell not and decided to make a story of my own, set in the world of The Walking Dead. Which isn't exactly my own... Anyway. If people will like it I will bathe in the glory of being a self proclaimed Shakespeare of the 21st century, and if not... The worst that can happen is people starting throwing vegetables at me. Either way PROFIT!

First of all I need to underline that I am not an English native so there will probably be some grammar issues, and unclear descriptions but hopefully I'll get most of it corrected for your reading pleasure. Second, I do not promise to make regular updates, but I'll try not to keep you waiting too long for the chapters. Then again my life can disagree. Thirdly yes the item you're staring at is a singing trout and I like it, please don't touch. And finally my plan is to make 5 chapters that will complete the story I want to publish here. Funny that's the first time I'm not doing that in my own language. Anyway, as soon as I figure how to copy and paste this here text I wrote, I will post it. I also suggest listening to the soundtrack of "The Fog" (1980) for a deeper experience.

Have a pleasant reading. Oh and any constructive criticism is more than welcome.

Well it seems I messed up a bit because I was pointed out that in American English, as opposed to British English, dialogues are supposed to be marked with quotation marks and not apostrophes. I will leave them the way they are to avoid further confusion.

Umm I'm terribly sorry for double postings but it seems I'm running out of space every time I'm trying to paste the entire chapter into a single post.

Edit 3:
Thought that it would be best to inform everyone that chapter 4 and 5 will obviously have some medium spoilers as they tend to connect with the ending of The Walking Dead Season 1. If you haven't finished the game, you might do so.

Edit 4:
Well I guess this is it, the final chapter finally done. It was a nice writing practice and I certainly had a blast doing it. The only thing that keeps bugging me is that I utterly failed at keeping it short, but then again screw that, it was fun writing it all. Also, I didn't know if I should put a link to the music I'd like to use as my "credits", so I posted the lyrics instead. The song "At my door" by BRMC is certainly on youtube.

Well, have a good reading and leave a comment if you like it. If you don't like it, every bit of constructive criticism is more than welcome as I mentioned earlier.

Graphomaniac, err... me... signing off.

I'd like to thank my friend Razzy for withstanding all my whining, and for him correcting a couple... some... most of my mistakes. He loves pointing them out though.


  • edited June 2014
    Chapter 1 - Bastards in Arms

    West River Street

    It was a quiet dawn over Savannah. He was standing right next to the pier, facing the sun with his eyes closed and a cold breeze was blowing at his face. It was his moment of silence and solitude that he dreamed about for a long time. He didn't have to worry now, he was safe. Away from the walkers, away from all the other people, nothing but him, the air and the sound of the flowing water. It felt a bit like back home. He was at peace and nothing bothered him at the moment. Neither the apocalypse nor the primal face of humanity he witnessed so many times by now, not even his scavenger partner.

    'Are you going to stand there all day Ramon?' He didn't answer, he was enjoying the moment. 'Hey, help me with this battery, will you? Why am I the one doing the bulk of the work here?'

    Ramon put on his baseball cap backwards, stretched his arms and adjusted his vest. He turned towards Michael, or Mickey, as people used to call him, who was sitting inside a crashed boat working on a battery.

    'Because it's me who has to save your skinny white ass, Mickey. If anything happens, I have to be in a tip top shape, because you have the privilege of being the brain of this operation. Besides, you need to work on them muscles, man, with the state this world is right now, you might need that and pretty soon I reckon.'

    Mickey snickered. It's not that he liked being the workhorse or being mistreated, by that time he‘s gotten used to other people pushing him around. He was a slim guy, barely into his 20's, but he was a quick learner and if things were normal, his parents would probably have him in Oxford by now. He knew others needed him, if not for the company then for his wits. Ramon wasn't much of a friend to him, Mickey figured him a loner and a prick, but not a bully. Even though one could clearly see that Ramon indulged himself in a narcissistic fashion and even during the apocalypse he cared about being in shape all the time. Although, he probably was helping himself with steroids before everything went to hell.

    'Ramon, can I ask you a question?'

    Ramon turned around to face the sunlight again.

    'You already did...'

    Mickey looked at Ramon and sighed.

    'I’ll take it as a yes then. How come you're not speaking with an accent? I mean, I can see you're a Latino type, but you never really said anything about yourself. Hell, you've been patiently listening to whatever bullshit I had to say: my folks disliking my idea of studying in the US instead of England, my love of the road and exotic places. All the would-be girlfriends I almost had...'

    Ramon pulled his machete out of the holster, slowly turned around towards Mickey and pointed his weapon at Mickey's head.

    'I don't have much of a choice, ‘cause you hardly ever shut the fuck up. So what if my folks were from Cuba! It doesn't mean I have to talk with the accent. I can call you a pendejo if that'd make you happy, MENG.'

    Mickey shrugged. Ramon lowered his weapon and walked a couple of steps toward the boat. He shuddered and set his eyesight toward the multi-storey buildings in the distance.

    'I thought you considered yourself a Scarface-type badass.'

    'You know Mickey? Sometimes I wonder why I haven't punched you in the face yet. I struggle, believe me. And his accent was shitty.'

    Mickey wanted to answer, but Ramon put his left finger on his lips. Ramon started looking around slowly and carefully.

    'It's too quiet... Time to split, Mickey.'

    Ramon approached the half-sunken boat and grabbed Mickey by the collar of his sweater, swiftly pulling him out of the wreckage.

    'Hey!' Mickey barely regained his balance. 'Walkers?'

    Ramon scanned the surroundings again.

    'Not sure. No time to waste, though, give me that battery. I bet that I can run faster even with that thing in my backpack.'

    'You're on, Ramon.'



    Nate was lying on a rundown rooftop of an abandoned building, looking through the scope of his silenced M40a3 sniper rifle. Securing that building as silently as possible wasn't really a hard thing to do for him; it was always the aperitif before the hunt, although the dead were hardly a worthy prey. But there he was, observing the living from a distance, being in total control of someone else's life and death without them even knowing about it. Just like for the last 20 years. His mind was clear, analyzing the subtle signs he was given. Moving as little as possible, trying to blend in, becoming one with the surroundings. It was never just looking at a target for him. He always paid attention to the air, it was his closest ally in times like these - it always carried a warning about the presence of others. Just like now. He knew someone was creeping up on him, slowly, trying to be as silent as possible. Walkers don't do that, and if he could hear that this certain someone was trying his or hers best to stay quiet, it meant that this person was within the line of sight. Probably directly behind him. Nate quickly thought about precautions he made. Not a single trap has been activated, that meant it was someone who knew his methods. Suddenly, there was silence, followed by a quiet sound of a bow being drawn.

    'I specifically told you to stay, Diana.'

    Silence made way to a quiet sigh, followed by the sound of putting a bow away and then a couple of footsteps.

    'I'm not your daughter, Nate! I can make my own decisions!'

    Diana sat down quietly beside Nate. She tried to see where he was aiming his rifle. She hated him for being so fatherly towards her. Then again, it was nice to have someone who actually gave a damn about her well-being. Even if he was wearing a ridiculous Hogan moustache.

    'Like getting yourself killed during a mission?'

    She didn't hesitate with an answer.

    'I can take care of myself, Nate...'

    At least, she thought so. Being in a group reminded her of the abruptly-ended childhood. There was never a truly "alone" moment with eight of her siblings around, and there was always a struggle for parental attention.

    'No doubt, Diana. But that does not mean that I will allow you to get yourself in harm's way just to prove a point.'

    Even though Nate wasn't her father and she didn't exactly want to be friends with a sixteen year old like Abigail, his daughter, she enjoyed the company of this grayish, soon-to-suffer-through-an-extreme-midlife-crisis-during-the-zombie-apocalypse guy. Abigail was lucky to have a dad like him just for herself.

    'Nate, how did you know I was there?'

    He stopped looking through the scope of his rifle and turned his head toward Diana with a serious look on his face.

    'If you want to point that bow at a living person, it needs to be completely silent. Or shoot from a larger distance. Plus, you need to choose the surface you walk on more carefully. Sand gave you away long before you drew.'

    Nate returned to scanning the area through the scope of his rifle. Diana crouched next to him.

    'So, what were you doing, Nate?'

    'Just watching those two guys near the boat. Lost the sight of them, though.'

    Diana sat on the rooftop, leaning her back on a chimney, and hugged her knees. She was concerned about the others. With the world as it was, random groups of people were the closest thing to a family she could get. And even then there usually was no depth to those relationships. People she knew were always into that Darwinian struggle of survival of the fittest, yet still in the end the dead were always the ones to remain "alive".

    'So, what are we going to do?'

    Nate stood up and holstered his rifle. He’s been given an assignment he couldn't refuse, but he wanted it done as thoroughly and safely as possible in the current conditions.

    'We wait until nightfall. If no one shows up, we go back home. We are long overdue and running low on supplies. Besides, I want to get back to Abigail, I cannot imagine what she is going though right now. Probably thinks I am lurker food by now, or worse.'

    Diana smiled. She couldn't resist feeling happy in company of someone so devoted to protecting someone else. She never experienced anything similar happening to her. No one showed her that kind of affection ever before.

    'It's not your fault that you were chosen for this run. I'm glad you're with us.'

    Wright Square

    Shizuko has always been a quiet woman. Her parents gave her that name because she didn't make a sound when she was born. They were always overprotective and thought she was very fragile, but it was nothing of the sort. At least to her. She’s always wondered if they believed in something like fate. If not for the apocalypse, her career would have sky rocketed by now, proving she was capable of reaching her goals one way or another. Weird. How can a person who rarely spoke up, even when necessary, do so well at helping others? Her mom was always saying that she had inherited the golden touch of her grandmother, whatever it meant. Maybe that was the case. But even the greatest gift is nothing without the motivation to use it and Shizuko just couldn't bear the sight of people in the need of a transplant surgery. Especially children. However, she knew that, thanks to her skills, they had a chance, at least before the apocalypse. Now it was even tougher to know that there were almost no places left where people could receive any real medical attention. That's why they had all those precautions in place. If someone was going out, he or she was always supposed to do it in pairs, helping each other by being and working together, just like one hand cooperating with the other during medical procedures. And hers was just severed by David. She knew Philip had been badly injured, but they had all the necessary equipment at home. Phillip COULD have survived. She knew she had the skills to put him back together. And how on earth was Dave capable of smashing someone's head with a sledgehammer, just like that? You don't just murder a man, even when someone tells you to put him out of his misery! Yet, here they were walking together down the street, as if nothing had happened. She tried to see through him, but David always had that sad pensive look on his dark brown face. Shizuko heard from someone that Dave had supposedly suffered much before the world spiraled out of control, but if he really had paralyzed another football player during the playoffs, shouldn't he value human life more? Tony was no better. This slightly overweight man thought himself to be a well educated biologist of some sort, who apparently severed all his connections to native american culture and yet he always carried his grandfathers tomahawk... "The most practical thing he ever inherited from his ancestors". With that attitude it was no wonder that he started to turn into more of a politician than a man of science. Right now he was trying to put together a walkie-talkie Phillip dropped when he was ran over.

    'It's no use, it's completely broken...'

    Tony threw the walkie-talkie away. Shizuko stopped in the middle of the street and looked at it, then at Tony.

    'You just told David to kill one of our own and all you can think of is this?'

    Tony stopped as well and looked at the ground, avoiding eye contact. He didn't want to dwell on it. Surely not now, if ever.

    'It was mercy... We will find the guy responsible for this, Shizuko...'

    'Watch out!'

    David screamed as he slammed his body into a walker creeping up on Shizuko. The walker hit the wall of a building. Punch to its face. Another one and the rotten mandible came clean off. And a knee kick to the groin for good measure.

    'Let's drop the hammer.'

    David said to himself as he reached for his sledgehammer. His heavy breathing was followed by a roar. A quick swing and the walker's head just caved in, its brain squished. The lifeless corpse slowly fell to the ground. Another heavy blow. Again. And again AND AGAIN. Shizuko was frightened with David's behavior.


    Blood splattered all over Dave's football gear and onto his blue jersey underneath it. Time and time again. All that armor made him look even more athletic than he already was. And the blood on it was a sign not to mess with him.


    Dave froze, blood still dripping from his hammer. He took a couple of deep breaths and looked at her. The rage inside him appeared to be gone. At least for the moment.

    'Sorry... I got angry. I didn't want it to hurt you.'

    Tony took off his glasses, walked up to David and looked straight into his eyes.

    'You have a death wish, punching it in the face like that?'

    Dave put his hammer back into the holster on his back, then started rubbing his gloves, wiping off the blood.

    'I don't wear these just for good looks, Anthon.'

    To him, they were a constant reminder. He didn't have to explain. Not like anyone would listen or care anyway. Shizuko approached him and put a hand on his shoulder with a sad look on her face. She moved her hand to his cheek. Dave put his hand on her palm and returned the sad look. He gently took her arm and moved it away. He noticed a group of lurkers coming toward them from the end of the street. Shizuko turned around and saw the incoming monsters. Dave looked at Tony

    'Anthon, how far is the gathering point?'

    'Not too far now, but I suggest we pick up the pace before more biters show up. Can't wait to hold Anna in my arms again.'

  • edited June 2014
    Corner of Martin Luther King Jr. blvd and W Bay street.

    The apartment looked run down, but it still was one of the nicest safe houses at their disposal. Secured both from the inside and the outside, with good roof access and an escape route across the rooftops, it really made Diana feel safe from the walkers. She sat in one of the armchairs and closed her eyes, imagining that everything was back to normal. That it wasn't survival of the fittest anymore. Suddenly, the door opened and Nate entered the room.

    'Hopefully, we won't have to wait much longer. I could see Shizuko, David and Anthony. Phillip is not with them, though.'

    Diana opened her eyes and looked at Nate with concern.

    'You think something happened to him?'

    Nate put his rifle on the table, unholstered his 45 longslide and sat in another armchair, the one not standing directly behind the door. He had a habit of watching it when waiting for someone. Just another precaution he learned during his service years.

    'We have to assume he didn't make it, Diana.'


    'No. If we hear he's trapped somewhere we might try to rescue him, but only after we know for sure that he's alive. Discipline is what keeps us alive. If we start making irrational decisions, we’ll be putting ourselves in danger. I can't allow that. I WON'T allow that. All I care about is the safety of my daughter. Having qualified people that you can depend on outside the gates is an essential part of keeping her alive. That means no unnecessary risks.'

    It was rather harsh, but Diana understood what he meant. All she could do at the moment was look at the floor and nod, because he was right.

    'Sorry, sir...'

    Nate looked at Diana when she lowered her head, drifting away into her own thoughts. Abby would probably need to become similar to Diana if she was to face the walkers. But that wasn't his only concern. Was his daughter really prepared to kill? Not only the dead monsters, but the living ones as well? Especially after all she's been through?

    'Diana, can you tell me something? I know Abigail hates when I leave her doing all the housework back at the camp, and I know she looks up to you and wants to be like you. Strong, independent... Does she hate me for protecting her like that?'

    Diana raised her head instantly and looked at Nate. He turned his head toward the door at the same moment. She scratched her head in confusion and opened her mouth, but she didn’t know how to answer his question.

    'Umm... Wow... I dunno... She doesn't hate you, Nate. Every time she mentions you I can feel that she thinks the opposite. I think she's just worried that you might get hurt.'

    A smile appeared on Nate's face, but he didn't turn his head away from the door again. Someone was coming. Judging by the footsteps, probably 3 people. Nate stood up and silently approached the door. He was listening to the closing sound of confident thumping of boots. It had to be David.

    'I think it's [...]'

    And yes it was. Nate opened the door before Dave could finish his sentence. Nate quickly scanned the area behind the three of them and, when it looked safe, he raised his gun.

    'What happened to Phillip?'

    Nate holstered the pistol and gently dragged Dave inside the room. Shizuko and Tony soon followed. None of them wanted to answer the question and the room filled with overwhelming silence. Diana brushed away her blonde hair and said, without raising her sight from the floor.

    'He didn't make it, did he?'

    Tony quickly glanced at Shizuko and David.

    'He got hit by a station wagon. There was nothing we could do.'

    Shizuko crossed her hands and squinted her eyes.

    'That's not true. He was still alive.'

    Tony pointed at Shizuko and made a step toward her in an intimidating manner.

    'Yes, but he could have turned if we dragged him all the way here and then back!'

    Nate placed his palm on his forehead, as he couldn't believe what he just heard.

    'How was he hit by a car?'

    Dave grabbed his head at that point.

    'We heard it closing, but we couldn't tell from where. Then it came around the corner and nearly hit me. Philip tried to dodge but the guy was aiming for him. I think he was going somewhere towards the Marsh House. Wish I could’ve saved Philip...'

    Nate turned around and supported his chin with a thumb, then took a couple of deep breaths.

    'First we need to deliver these supplies. Only after that can we check the guy out and eliminate him if necessary. If he’s a threat to the community, he cannot be left alive.'

    Ramon stopped in the middle of the corridor, noticing noises coming from one of the rooms in the distance. He stopped Mickey and then placed a finger on his lips. Ramon reached for one of his throwing knives and started creeping up on the half opened doors at the end of the hallway. He started to hear the conversation more clearly. It had to be the leader speaking at that moment. Just a couple more steps and he was able to touch the door. He focused for a while, then peeked around the doors to see the position of people in the room. A couple of deeper breaths and he pushed the doors.

    'Because, like it or not, it is not only our lives that depend on these supplies.'

    A throwing knife stuck to a wall right next to Nate's head. His '45 was aimed at Ramon's head on impulse almost instantly. Despite all that Ramon still had a smirk on his face. He stood there proudly.

    'Gotcha off guard this time, copper.'

    Nate gave Ramon a stone cold look.

    'If not for that cap and my trigger discipline, you would’ve been dead.'

    'If not for me missing on purpose, you would've been. But I'm still here, Nate.'

    Nate lowered his pistol and put it into the holster. He watched as Ramon entered the room and approached the wall that the knife was still stuck into, right next to Nate's head. Mickey shyly looked through the opened doors.

    'Can I come in now?'

    'Ramon, all those times you provoked me, hoping I’d get mad... What is your point?'

    Ramon snickered. He pulled the knife out of the wall and pointed it at Nate's face, then slowly lowered it and pressed it right where Nate heart was beating in the same steady pace as usual.

    'I saw cops in action before. Your kind is not to be trusted, old man. Ever.'

    Nate grabbed Ramon's hand and tightened his fist so that Ramon could feel the increasing pain of the cold dull metal grip of the knife sinking into his palm. Ramon clenched his teeth but he chose not to show any reaction towards Nate, he refused to give him the satisfaction of knowing it hurt.

    'I know myself better than you know yourself, Ramon. See, special forces do psychological profiles to make sure the right people are working together; here it is the complete opposite. I know that, yet I do not need you to like me or respect me, but if you will not give me your obedience when you are being told to, you might as well go to hell. We do not need useless people.'

    Despite the pain, Ramon still had that smirk on his face.

    'You're proving my point.'

    Diana stepped in between them and pushed them both away from each other. Nate crossed his hands on his chest as Ramon put his throwing knife back into its place in his vest.

    'Stop it! Both of you! As soon as we get back you two can avoid each other till the end of time, but right now we are a TEAM. And, as for you, Ramon, Philip is dead! Don't you care?'

    Ramon shrugged as he was giving an answer.

    'Never liked him anyway. Should I be crying myself to sleep thinking about him instead?'

    Ramon wanted to back off, but he nearly bumped into Tony, who stopped him and then put a hand on Ramon's shoulder.

    'You keep behaving like that and you will end up alone, with nobody caring whether you live or die.'

    'I can take care of myself. You're simply afraid of being by yourselves.'

    Ramon walked off, hitting Tony with the shoulder.

    'We do not need another quarrel. Just grab your supplies and let’s head back. I miss Abigail and have had just about enough of his attitude.'


    East Broad Street.

    With every step one could feel the increasing feel of relief among the group. They were really fed up with Ramon's antics. Still, Tony didn't want the group to turn onto each other more than they already did. As they were walking toward the camp, Tony approached Ramon, but he heard the answer even before he opened his mouth.

    'I don't need a lecture, chief.'

    'Not planning to give one. Do you really think being on your own is the best idea right now?'

    Ramon gave Tony a quick glance. What did he know? H‘s always been an idealist looking for the good side of every person. It never really came to his mind that there just might not be one to be found.

    'Tony, after all the things we did, do you really think that living the life like we used to and pretending that everything is going to be okay is really the way to go? For all we know this plague may never end and people are dying so fast that by the time you know them, they are no more.'

    'So, is turning your back on everyone the answer?'

    'Didn't say that, chief. Like Diana said, I don't need to be friends with that asshole Nate.'

    Dave looked at Ramon with disgust. He felt Nate was a harsh leader, but he really had the best interest of literally everyone under his command on his mind. He met quite a few people who were giving orders, but they usually had an agenda of their own.

    'Ramon? Shut up.'

    Ramon flipped Dave in an instant.

    'Big words from an upcoming never was that already has been, Mr. almost NFL.'

    'I swear, if I'll ever end up locked with you, I'll kick your sorry ass.'

    Tony felt like he needed to cut this conversation off before they really jump at each other's throats.

    'No need to get violent, gentlemen. Soon, we can all just take a break and relax enjoying the sunlight.'

    The entire group came to a halt after they approached the front gate that had been left opened. There were no guards patrolling the yard and there was no one else to be seen around. The place seemed deserted at first. Nate reached for his sniper rifle and looked through the scope. He started walking toward the main building very slowly, observing, analyzing. There were no people in sight. Only walkers. And they had the most familiar faces. The dead inside the camp were the inhabitants, their friends and family members. Nate lowered his sniper rifle. Shizuko witnessed as his expression turned from self confidence to shock and, finally, to horror. Nate leaned himself on the wall and covered his face. One could hear a couple of quiet sobs coming from him. Diana reached her hands out to Nate and wanted to approach him, but Ramon grabbed her collar and didn't let her. She looked at Ramon, only to see him slowly shaking his head. She covered her mouth as tears began to flow from her eyes. Their home was no more, for Crawford has fallen.
  • edited June 2014

    Chapter 2 - Point of no return

    Crawford headquarters
    The first floor of Crawford was filled with reanimated dead. Nate, Dave and Ramon were on point and Shizuko, Tony, Mickey and Diana were holding the front door. The dead outside were gathering before the main entrance quicker than they had anticipated and the ones inside were getting restless. Walkers knew there were living people in the building. The staircase leading to the upper floor was at the far end of the corridor filled with roaming lurkers. Nate fired a couple of shots, killing some of them, to make room for the boys to play.

    'Dave, Ramon!' Nate screamed.

    Putting their mutual dislike aside, the two of them started their bloody dance with the dead. Standing back to back, they were aiming for the heads. Dave slammed the first one with the hammer, quickly raised the weapon again and kicked the corpse, pushing it against another one that was closing in. Ramon's machete slashed through the rotten neck effortlessly, sending the half-eaten head flying away. He instantly stuck a knife into another walker's temple. The lifeless monster got hit by another body that got already hit by David's sledgehammer in the head. Then, a walker pounced on Ramon from behind, forcing him to the ground. While lying, Ramon turned around and stabbed the thing trying to bite him. Dave froze for a moment. He clenched his teeth and then pulled away the body Ramon was under. Just as Ramon got up on his knee while trying to stand up, he swung his machete, chopping off the leg of yet another walker creeping up on Dave. It fell to the ground, hard. Ramon stabbed its head with the long blade. He then stood up and gave David a scowling look as he was pulling his weapon out.

    'Now we're even, Dave.' Dave only grunted. It was far from over as the walkers that remained on the floor were closing in.

    Mickey wasn't a fighter like the others. He was guarding the front door with Tony and the ladies, while the boys were playing with zombies. But, even though most of the dead were going after Dave and Ramon, some were still going toward the entrance, where he was standing. He couldn't take it calmly. He rushed in.

    'Mickey, no!' Shizuko screamed.

    The terrified Mickey didn't listen to her warning, as he was too excited hitting the head of a deadite with a crowbar he was holding. He didn't hurt it much. It pounced him. As it was about to take a bite of his neck, Diana's arrow hit the walker right in the forehead. The lifeless corpse fell on Mickey, knocking him flat. More dead were closing in to take a bite out of him. Diana instantly rushed toward him and, as she grabbed his collar, she started pulling him away from the incoming walkers. Shizuko aimed her Sig Sauer and fired at the other zombies coming closer and closer. The ones outside started banging on the door. By now there were many bodies trying to force their way inside the building. Even though entrance was sturdy, it would give in eventually. Shizuko turned her head toward Diana and Mickey as she shouted.

    'We can't stay here, they'll overwhelm us!'

    'Uupsttaairs' Mickey raised his shaking hand as he was struggling to stand up from the floor. 'Aaanother dddoorr. Sssafer...'

    Tony tried to help Mickey come to his senses.

    'Let's find a secure room and take a rest. We can't fight like that forever.'

    Dave placed his hammer on his shoulder and took a couple of breaths.

    'Sure. We just need to rest a while. Where did you learn those moves, Ramon?'

    'I could ask you the same. Why do you care, anyway?'

    'Pff... fine...' He then muttered 'Asshole.'

    In the meantime, Diana tried to pull the arrow out of the walker's head. For some reason, she had thought it was way easier when she saw people doing it on TV. Then again, she was fit and far from being helpless or physically weak. Does that mean the movies she saw were lying? And then it struck her. Why was she thinking about TV shows rather than the situation at hand. She should think about what was happening around her and the people she was with. Speaking of...

    'Where's Nate?' Diana asked, looking at the group.

    Nate didn't stop for nobody. He saw a walker, he crouched, aimed and shot. No waiting, no philosophy, plenty of blood around him. He made every bullet count, every shot meant another blooming skull. When a walker caught him by surprise, he just pushed it away and reached for his baton. With a hard enough blow, the skull shattered like glass, sprouting brain matter. It made the baton slippery, but Nate didn't care. He had to reach the room where he and Abigail were living. He wanted it to be extra safe, secured by strong doors and traps, a kind of a bunker, if things were ever to get this messy. Just a couple more steps. Another walker. Another blow to the head. Nate kept hitting it as its lifeless corpse fell to the floor. He knew that person well, but it wasn't her no more. As he kept smashing the skull, he was thinking how he wanted to erase her face from his memory. Enough of those were already in there.

    'Who's out there?'

    Nate heard a dull and quiet voice coming out of his room. He walked toward the door. He grabbed a nearby chair standing in the corridor and blocked the door handle. Just as a precaution, for now.

    'Is there anyone there?' Nate didn't answer the call. He tried to figure out who was inside his room.

    'Is it you, Patrick? What happened to my daughter...?' Nate asked coldly.

    'Yeah... I don't know, she wasn't here when I was locking myself in.'

    Nate's eyes opened widely at that point.

    'You did what?'

    'Nate, I can't seem to open this door now...'

    Nate raised his voice a little. He wanted to hear some answers and he wanted to have them now.

    'I need you to focus, Patrick, what happened here?'

    'I thought I heard shooting and screaming; someone opened the main entrance, the dead started flooding inside and, as others were trying to close the doors and kill the walkers that got in, I locked myself in here. Guess they didn't kill all of them...'

    Nate put his rifle in the holster on his back. He tightened his fists as he was listening to the details revealed by someone who had no right to deny his daughter a place of safety.

    'Patrick, I'm not mad at you, but I need to know where Abigail is.'

    'I don't know, I swear! She didn't make it here, everything happened so fast.'

    As Nate heard the answer, he knew that Abigail was probably dead by now. He was certain of it. But he didn't want his intensifying anger to get the better of him. All that Patrick wanted was a place of safety. And safety he should receive.

    'Do not worry, take your time. You are safe inside now. You can think about what you have done to my daughter and me until your very last breath. And, just so you know. I will never forgive you.'

    'Whaa...? No, please! You can't lock me in here like that! Nathan! You can't do this, YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT US! LET ME OUT, PLEASE!!!'

    At that point Nate just turned himself off. He didn't care for the insults or the banging or the desperate screaming coming from inside the room. But it did seem to get the attention of another walker. It was Abigail. Nate couldn't believe his eyes. Her long blond hair was stained with dried up bloodstains. She had bites all over her arms, legs, half of her face’s skin was hanging about, exposing the bone and muscle and blood. He knew how much effort was needed to kill a person and he knew those wounds were not fatal. She suffered as she was struggling for her life. A lot. And he wasn't there to protect her. His little girl had been tormented and then gutted and he had been away...

    'I am so sorry honey...So sorry...'

    Tears started flowing as Nate reached for his pistol. Abigail was slowly approaching him with raised arms, hissing as she got closer. He aimed the pistol with a trembling hand. This was the first time in his life he could not control his body. His arm was shaking, his breath was uneven, his heart was racing. He looked away, closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. It wasn't a walker. No. It was his little girl that he taught riding a bicycle not so long ago. Now she was all but a memory. The final face to haunt him in his nightmares, till his last breath. He stood still for a while, motionless. He was alone. He had no more business being in Crawford. Everything was so blurry for him at that point. But there were still people counting on him... Abigail would not let him surrender. He had to lead them to safety. For Abby, for Diana...

    At the same time, one floor above, Tony and Ramon were holding the door to one of the classrooms. The dead inside of it were gathering on the other side of the door, pushing and roaring.


    Dave shouted as he pressed a plank against the door. Tony and Ramon moved away, still pressing the door as they struggled to keep them closed. One swift hammer blow to the nail and one side of the plank was in its place. Another blow and the entrance to the room was boarded. Just as the dead started banging on the door.

    'Dave, a couple more!' Tony screamed.

    Soon after Crawford had been founded and Nate became the head of security there, he used to tell them never to take any chances, so Dave quickly nailed a couple more boards, just like Tony told him to, securing the classroom filled with the dead. Soon after Crawford had separated itself from the outside world, Nate knew that sooner or later there would be time they had to defend themselves from the walkers. He made sure they were prepared. The boards with pre-pounded nails, emergency routes, ammunition stored in various places - they had all those things. Shame that they were actually the only ones having to use them in practice. Of course, Ramon had to say something with a sarcastic sigh of relief.

    'After today I'm not touching any fucking doors!'

    Tony looked at him, then at David, then back at Ramon again and gave another task that had to be done.

    'Well, you can help by removing all those bodies lying around instead.'

    Ramon looked at Tony at first, then at David. Dave snickered as Ramon's face showed disgust after hearing what Tony said. But they knew they could not leave dead bodies lying around. Not because it was one of the Crawford's rules, but because it was easier to prevent contagion spreading onto the living than curing diseases and using up precious medicine. They didn't know when or if they were to go at all. All they knew for certain was that the rules kept them alive so far.

    'Listen, guys, I'm going to check on the others, if anything comes up, we'll be in the classroom, thinking what to do next.'

    Tony walked away, leaving Dave and Ramon alone with the dead corpses lying on the ground. They looked at each other for a while. Dave was the first to break the silence.

    'Just keep the door open until we get rid of the bodies.'

    'Dave, Sunshine, what if stragglers come along, lured by the noise of a fucking corpse being thrown from the second floor?'

    'We killed most of them, Ramon. If any of them come, just drop the fucking bodies on them.'

    'Since when did you start giving orders, Dave?'

    'Got any better idea, Ramon?'


    '… One that doesn’t involve me getting seriously hurt or dying?'

    '… Nevermind then.'

    As they were talking, Nate passed them without a word, pale, making slow and small steps and with his gun sitting firmly in his hand. During the whole time spent in Crawford, Dave has never seen Nate like that. He was always confident, walking tall and looking straight into the eyes of people around him. Now he was looking at the floor as he moved, stooping a bit, and didn't even bother with what was happening around him.


    'Leave him, Dave'

    David clenched his teeth again,wanting to tell Ramon to shut up, but then he saw his face. Ramon looked at Dave with a dead serious expression on his face.

    'You know what happened to him as well as I do, Dave. Let's just take care of the bodies.'

    In the meantime, the rest of the group was resting in the classroom. Shizuko and Mickey were watching a small herd of walkers roaming outside through the window. They were chatting about this and that and Mickey was doing most of the talking. Tony was watching the city map drawn on the blackboard in search for inspiration, or an answer, or a hint, or anything at all. He didn't even know what to think at this point. Diana, on the other hand, was sitting on the carpet in the middle of the room, hugging her knees and rocking back and forth. Tony noticed as Nate entered the room slowly.

    'Nathan, we were worried sick.'

    Nate just raised his opened hand at Tony. He didn't want to talk. Not now, ESPECIALLY not now. Diana stood up and approached Nate, who sat in the corner of the room.

    'My God, Nate, what happened to you?'

    Mickey and Shizuko decided not to interrupt him. He was obviously in a bad shape now. Nate just kept staring at the floor, then raised his 45 long slide and looked at muttering single word.


    Diana covered her mouth in shock.

    'Oh no...'

    Diana moved back to the middle of the room and sat on the carpet, hugging her knees again. This time, she was trembling.

    'They are all dead... Miss Richards... Mr and Mrs Abrams... Erica... John... My God...' Diana started trembling more as she recognized the faces. 'It was so very different when they were anonymous... But these are people we know! I'm gonna be sick.'

    She grabbed her stomach and started coughing. Tony quickly approached her, placing his hand on her back.

    'Easy there. You can't think of them like that, they are not the people we used to know. Not anymore.'

    Diana looked him straight in the eyes with a serious yet tear-filled gaze.

    'The girl I hit in the forehead? Jessica, I was talking with her about her dream wedding not a couple of days ago! I'm trying to think about something hopeful, but then it hits me again and comes back twice as strong...'

    Not thinking too long, Tony decided to give her a parental hug.

    'We can't think they are ALL dead. I'm hoping that some people have escaped, maybe even Anna. We might find them and we all know where to look for them, Diana. Until we see a walker with their face, there is still hope.'

    Dave and Ramon entered the room. As soon as Dave saw Diana crying on the floor, he walked right to her to try and comfort her. Ramon decided to approach Mickey and Shizu, who were still observing the movement of the horde gathering outside.

    'From a safe haven into a hellhole, just great. Staying here seems more and more dangerous with every minute. How many of those things are out there?' Ramon asked.

    Shizuko gave him a quick glance and then started looking outside the window again. Her concern was growing as she knew that with every walker their chances of getting out of Crawford alive were diminishing.

    'Plenty, and it seems their numbers are growing, Ramon.'

    'All we have to do is push through, we can do this! Like we already did downstairs.'

    Shizuko gave him a scowling look. Right now he had her complete attention.

    'That's suicide.'

    'We got plenty of ammo. You and Copper can kill us a way out and me and Dave can finish the ones that will get close. It will work!'

    Was he really losing it? The thought surely crossed Shizu's mind, or maybe he was showing symptoms of exhaustion. Either way it was one of the stupidest plans she’s heard up to date.

    'Listen to yourself. Gunshots will just bring more of them and you and David shouldn't strain yourselves any more than you already have. You're tired, your muscles won't respond the way you want them to and we’ll have another unnecessary close call. Like the ones downstairs.'

    Mickey didn't want to sit there just listening, maybe he blew it earlier, but he knew he could make up for it and soon.

    'Ease up bro, please. We’llfind a way.'

    Ramon gave Mickey a dead serious look as he squinted his eyes and pointed his finger at Mickey's face.

    'You are NOT my brother, Mickey. You better remember that.' Ramon turned around and left them without saying another word.

    Mickey was stupefied by Ramon's behavior.

    'The fuck is his problem?'

    Shizuko watched Ramon as he walked away and leaned on the wall with his arms crossed. She didn't like him before and being forced into having him around even more wasn't exactly a perspective she was looking forward to.

    'I'm not a psychologist... Dated one once, though. Was boring as hell. All I know is that Ramon might turn against us at some point and then we’ll have a problem.'

    'Come on, Shiz, he doesn't snap like Dave.'

    'And that's what I'm afraid of, Mickey.'

    After all that time spent around Ramon, Mickey wasn't exactly sure what to think. Ramon had the qualities that Mickey was longing for: confidence, self-respect, independence. But, then again, Mickey was never openly aggressive to everybody around him.

    'Why keep him around, then?'

    Shizuko looked him straight in the eyes when she was giving him an answer.

    'He's a type of person who will make it on his own, will you?'

    Dave was sitting on the floor right next to Diana. She stopped crying and seemed to be slowly getting a grip on herself. He knew she was tough. She had to be, but that didn't mean it was any easier to face the reality.

    'How are you holding up, Diana?'

    Dave asked, concerned. He thought he got used to seeing other people falling apart, but it was never that easy. There was a well of hidden feeling of satisfaction deep within him that he wasn't ambivalent toward other people’ suffering.

    'I'm okay. I'm gonna be okay' Dianna nodded. 'I just need some time. Thanks, David.' she gave him a gentle, yet still tear-filled smile.

    Dave returned the smile and then looked at Tony. He wasn't the only one who wanted to know why a secure place like Crawford had been overrun.

    'Tony, do you think all this was caused by our mystery driver?'

    Tony started stroking his chin. Not sure... Maybe. But what would be the reason?' Ramon looked at Tony and quickly answered.


    'Resources!' Dave shouted.

    Mickey approached them as he expressed his doubt.

    'Very unlikely. See, an entire community cannot fall apart just by accident. It had to be a quick and intense action, a squad would’ve been more fit to execute it. Killing people by shoting them in the body, so that they can reanimate and attack other living people. In the confusion, everyone is so focused on running away or killing roaming walkers that nobody realizes that the front doors are open. There, the perfect budget plan for disposing of a community. But, if they were after the resources, they would have to face the dead they created, making it twice as difficult. If you want to steal, you go in quiet.'

    Tony looked at him with a bit of distrust at that point. He made too much sense.

    'Not to sound weird Mickey, but, with all due respect, how can you know that?'

    Mickey shrugged helplessly.

    'I love playing strategy games.'

    Nate stood up, wiping his eyes. It seemed that without him they had no clear vision on how to deal with critical decisions. In Nate's head, survival was all about making the most beneficial choice possible in the shortest time given.

    'First thing we need to do is to get out of here. This place isn't safe anymore and those rinky-dink barricades can give in if the dead grow more restless. We need to reach the nearest safe house... There, I will let my sorrows out...'

    Tony smiled as he saw the glimpse of the old Nate under the tragedy-struck man he was looking at that very moment. Nate was right, he usually was. Even if they didn't always see eye to eye, he believed in Nate's good intentions.

  • edited June 2014

    'Yeah, we need to think it over. Let's ditch the car parts, take the fuel, grab anything useful, like meds, food and ammo and then we should go. Chances are the survivors are gathering up there. We need to move, though, daylight is burning up and we have just a couple of hours to reach safety while it's still light. Nate, where was the key to Logan's post?'

    Suddenly, there was a dull thump followed promptly by a loud and clear crack coming from inside the corridor, accompanied by a trail of dust that snaked in through the openings in the door. Not long after came the moaning of walkers. Dave rushed to the door and looked outside to see the source of the noise. All he saw was walkers that somehow filled the corridor. He quickly closed the door behind him.

    'We need to get out, NOW.'

    Everybody instantly gathered in the middle of the classroom, readying their weapons. Nate ran toward the armory doors and opened them with a firm pull.

    'Through the armory!'

    Nate grabbed the key they kept hanging on the wall in case they had to lock themselves in the bell tower. This was one of the emergency routes in case things got nasty.

    'Come on!'

    Everyone rushed through and Nate slammed the armory door closed behind the last person, firmly locking them and separating the group from the walkers that caught their scent.

    'Arm yourselves and go up! We're leaving through the roof!'

    Not so long ago, the armory had been stocked with weapons and ammunition, but there wasn't much left to take now. The weapons probably never left Crawford, but instead were scattered all over the complex as people fought the dead. At least that was what Nate thought at that point. Shizu took more clips for her Sig Sauer, Tony grabbed a shotgun and some spare ammunition. Mickey and Dave picked up a couple of berrettas and ammo, while Ramon was the one to carry additional arrows for Diana. They were prepared to leave on a short notice. Just in time, it seemed, as the walkers started to bang on the armory door. The group stormed up the staircase, but there were a couple of walkers on the top floor. Diana shot one in the head and, as soon as she grabbed another arrow, Tony yelled at her.

    'No, wait! Dave, get the rope!'

    Dave raised his eyebrow, but then quickly ran downstairs without questioning. Meanwhile, Tony hit the walker in the back of the knee with the shotgun. After if fell to the floor, Tony sat on its back, immobilizing it. When Dave got back up, he threw the rope at Tony.

    'Whatever you're doing, do it fast. The door is giving in.'

    Tony caught the rope and quickly tied it into a lasso.

    'Let's see if I still got it.'

    Tony began to spin the lasso. As soon as he was ready, he threw it at the bell clapper. When the rope tightened around it, Tony quickly glanced at Nate.

    'If we lure them here, we'll make ourselves some room in the streets.'

    Nate and David grabbed the walker and put it on its feet. Tony quickly tied the rope around the lurker's neck. As soon as Tony moved away, Nate and David pushed the living corpse off the ledge. The restless dead started swaying back and forth and the loud bell came to life. They knew their time was short. Nate stopped right next to the window and readied his sniper rifle.


    The group moved through the window. Nate made sure no walkers were going after them and left as well. Once out on the roof, they proceeded to run down the rooftops. Mickey stopped for a moment and looked at the sea of dead gathering below them and then gazed up at the ringing bell tower.

    'For whom the bell tolls...'

    Nate dropped down on the rooftop and, while passing by Mickey, grabbed one of his sleeves, forcing him to run along.

    'Shut up and start running.'

    They were moving fast as the moaning was getting more and more intense. At the same time the ringing seemed to cease. As they reached the final rooftop, they used the emergency staircase to safely reach the street level. Diana looked back to see Crawford one last time. It was filling up with dozens of walkers, hundreds were probably gathering around the complex at that point.

    'This used to be our home...'

    She turned around toward Nate and gave him a sad look.

    'What do we do now?'

    The whole group stopped in the middle of the now-cleared street. They looked up to Nate to lead them somewhere safe. He turned around as they waited for him to answer. He memorized most of the safe locations, again, he wanted to be prepared. The only difference was that it was supposed to be him and Abigail... But what happened, happened, Nate took a deep breath and laid out a plan.

    'First, we need to get to the safe house. We move towards Colonial park. There is a police station in there, we might find some medical supplies or riot gear there and, if everything else fails, there used to be an Italian restaurant on the corner of Oglethorpe Ave and Abercorn Street. The building looked defendable and there might still be some food there. Now, come on, we are burning daylight.'

    Safe House.

    One could feel the excitement in the air. They were exhausted, eager to rest and each step brought another bit of badly needed relief. Almost allowing the mind to forget, at least for a moment. Dave had enough of walking, fighting, and Ramon at that point.

    'First thing tomorrow we have to find food, hate being forced to sleep hungry'

    Ramon snickered. By now he got so used to the hardships of the apocalypse he couldn't bear another almost grown man whining.

    'Pfff... Wimp.'

    David squinted his eyes as he looked at Ramon. He wasn't about to let others call him names. Especially not HIM.

    'Shut up, Ramon.'

    Ramon stepped closer, pointing his finger at David's chin. They were ready to go at each other's throats.

    'Hey, fuck you, Davey.'

    Foreseeing what would happen next, Diana decided to step between them, grabbing them by their shoulders.

    'Boys, relax, we're SAFE. Let's enjoy this. I swear, you're acting worse than my brothers, and they were pretty horrible at times...'

    "Finally" she thought, even if they start fighting, chances were that at least for now they'd ease up a bit and just rest, preferably away from each other. One could tell that Shizuko wasn't exactly happy about their behavior. She was likely going to have to waste what little was left of the field kits curing their cuts and bruises. She felt relaxed as they were marching through the last corridor leading to the hideout. Tony dropped the shotgun as soon as he walked into the safe room on the last floor of the building. There she was, Anna, the closest person to a wife he had these days. She was okay. Scared, shaky, but alive and unharmed by the walkers. Tony jumped at Anna and hugged her, nearly picking her up. He wanted this moment to last forever and he didn't want to let go. He started kissing her passionately and talking.

    'Anna... Oh my God... I knew you were alive! I felt it deep in my heart!'

    After a really long day, this was the much needed moment of relief for everybody. At least one person survived. That meant there could be others, scattered around the city, but ALIVE. Nate looked at them and cracked a painful smile. Diana hugged David. Others were smiling and Ramon looked away, seemingly indifferent. Anna couldn't believe it either. The father of her child was with her.

    'Tony! Oh my God, I was so afraid that I... that something might have happened to you.'

    Tony held her firmly in his arms again, convincing her that everything was alright, and despite losing the place they lived in, there was still a chance for survival. When Nate heard Anna, he flinched. There was something odd about the way she said it, yet he couldn't exactly say what.

    'It's okay, Anna, we were away when it all happened.'

    Anna took a couple of deep breaths, then gently pushed Tony away and made a couple of steps backwards. She glimpsed at Nate, then back at Tony and whispered.

    'Tony, we're going to have a baby!'

    Tony hugged her again, this time lifting her up in joy. He couldn't help himself, he had to say it out loud.

    'You're going to be a wonderful mother, Anna!'

    Nate tightened his eyes, as if his body was struck by lightning. All pregnancies were to be terminated by Logan. At this point they couldn't afford to let Crawford's inhabitants breed. Raising children was very resource consuming, not to mention the noise they were making. He knew how complicated it could be before the apocalypse, now it was next to impossible. That's why he was the one to suggest that rule. And she broke it! He tightened his fists and turned to face Anna instantly.

    'Anna, how exactly did you get out of Crawford?'

    Anna flinched as she heard the question.

    'Well, I grabbed a pistol and just ran away, defending myself from anything that tried to hurt me.'

    Nate started squinting his eyes as he looked directly at hers. He took a couple of steps toward her.

    'If you knew you were pregnant, why didn't you ask to leave Crawford?'

    Tony stepped in front of her and pointed his palm at Nate.

    'Now hold on a minute, Nate.'

    Nate pointed his finger at Tony's face at an instant.

    'If she was pregnant and wanted to have that baby, she should have talked to ME and she should have LEFT! One more question. What did Logan have to say about your pregnancy?'

    Anna's eyes widened for a moment when she heard the question.

    'I... I can't remember. Stop accusing me, it wasn’t my fault!'

    'I wasn’t accusing you of anything, Anna.'

    'I, I…'

    'Anna…' Nate looked down at the pistol sticking out of her jeans. 'Where did you get Logan’s pistol?'

    Blood rushed away from Anna’s face as she opened her mouth to say something, but Nate placed a finger on his lips, turning away instantly.

    'Shh! I think I hear a walker'

    Tony turned away, trying to figure out where the supposed sound of a coming walker was coming from.



    Nate drew his 45 long slide and took a shot. A blood splashed on the wall behind Anna. She looked at him and then at her wound. She fell to the floor almost immediately after. Tony screamed and fell down to his knees, picking her up and placing her head on his tights as he grabbed her hand. Nate rushed outside the door. Dave ran after him, screaming.


    Tears started flowing down Tony's cheeks. Anna squeezed his arm, struggling to speak.

    'I'm so sorry, Anton.'

    'Shh... Annie, save your strength.' Tony looked helplessly at Shizuko. 'Please help her.'

    Shizuko was already beside Anne, rolling up her sleeves.

    'I need a knife!'

    Ramon quickly gave her the survival knife he always had with him.

    'And bandages!'

    Mickey was struggling with one of his sleeves so Ramon grabbed it with one hand and slashed it with the machete he was holding in the other hand, ripping the sleeve off with a swift movement. Meanwhile, Shizuko was cutting through Anna's blouse. It didn’t look good. Her wound was bleeding heavily and there was blood spreading on the floor, coming from under her. This was hopeless. Nate knew where to aim, the bullet went right into the liver, probably shattering it. Diana couldn't stand the sight and decided to run after Nate. Mickey stood beside them, watching helplessly as Shizuko tried to apply pressure to the wound. Ramon placed his hand on Mickey's shoulder and, as soon as Mickey looked at him back, the Cuban shook his head twice, slowly. They knew she wasn't going to make it. Mickey frowned at Ramon as he spoke.


    Mickey moved away from Ramon's grip and crouched next to Shizuko, asking what he could do to help.

    'Apply pressure here.'

    Ramon turned away and sat in the corner with his arms crossed. He closed his eyes when Tony started screaming.

    'Please, no! Breathe, sweetie! Breathe!'

    Diana followed Nate up to the rooftop. He was standing on the ledge, firmly holding the rifle right next to his leg, looking at the walkers roaming the street. He didn't move as she shut the roof access door behind her. The sun was long gone and the magic hour was coming to an end, leaving only glimpses of color on the dark-blue sky. Diana walked very slowly towards Nate. David was lying right next to Nate's feet. When she was halfway there, he started talking in a calm manner.

    'She was kidnapped once, before Crawford. I found the camp she was being held at a day later. God knows what they did to her back then. I killed them. Every last one of them. When I found the leader, I woke him up and then cut his throat. I let him turn and then left with Abigail.'

    Diana stopped a couple of meters away from him. She checked on David, he was alive, but unconscious,with a large bruise on his left cheek. She raised her sight slowly, observing what Nate was doing, but he was simply standing still.


    'All I wanted was for Abigail to be safe. Because of her safety, others were safe. I never asked for anything in return. Yet, I was rewarded with treason... This wasn't a murder. It was justice.'

    Nate turned toward Diana and looked her in the eyes as he gave his speech.

    'I kept you safe in Crawford and led you to safety after it fell. I gave a chance to the worthy and punished the guilty. There's nothing more for me here. Goodbye, Diana.'

    Nate saluted, closed his eyes and placed the barrel of his sniper rifle under his chin. Diana jumped and tried to reach for his gun, screaming.

    'Nathan, no!'

    Nate pulled the trigger. Bloody mist shrouded his head as the bullet went through his skull. His lifeless body fell over the edge and hit the pavement with a loud thump. Walkers quickly took notice and started their feast on Crawford's second in command. The group had their leader no more.

    Sidewayz posted: »

    Chapter 2 - Point of no return Crawford headquarters The first floor of Crawford was filled with reanimated dead. Nate, Dave and Ram

  • edited June 2014

    Chapter 3 - Crossing the Styx

    Corner of Drayton and Liberty Street.

    It was another beautiful dawn over Savannah. Soft wind caressed Diana's face as she was sitting on the edge of the roof of the highest building in the neighborhood. It was an excellent vantage point, allowing her to take notes on where the herds of walkers were going. According to Mickey, their natural wandering patterns seemed to be influenced by whoever was ringing the bells around the city. That meant they were not alone in Savannah. There were others... The question was whether it was a good thing or not. During the last couple of weeks a lot has changed. Bloodstains on the floor were the reason they didn't want to stay in the Crawford safe house. Tony just couldn't bear it. He became more distant and distrusting. Without Nate to guide them, the group moved toward democracy, although it was Tony who was making critical decisions now, with Shizuko and Mickey being his advisors. Those two became inseparable, Shizuko became somewhat of a mother figure for Mickey, even more so after they tried to save Anna together. Seeing himself unfit for brawling, Mickey started learning what he could from "Shiz", as he started calling her, about treating injuries. He wanted to become more useful, so he started asking Shizuko endless sets of questions. That in turn made her more talkative and she started participating in the life of the group. Although she still had some issues with Tony and Dave, as if she was displeased with their company. How could she distrust someone as handsome and nice as Dave? He was caring and helpful and funny and... and... and that was why Shizuko wanted Diana to go on patrols with Ramon... "Because you would focus more on Dave's glutes than anything else." So what! Diana liked the way Dave moved his shapely behind when he was walking... Ramon, on the other hand... He was handsome, but cold and a loner. He didn't talk much to anyone, only if he absolutely had to or was asked directly. The only thing he was really interested in was keeping himself in shape and training his knife throwing skills. At least he stopped provoking and teasing her after they found a stockpile of cigars on the ground level of the hotel they were currently in. That place reminded her of the old days. All she had to do was close her eyes and she saw her bickering brothers and sisters again. Long time ago, during her Olympic archery days, she and her siblings were travelling across the USA, staying in classy hotels like this one. When her parents had the time to follow her career, they usually stayed in apartments located on the top floor so they could enjoy the view of wherever they were. Seeing such beautiful places in ruin brought the feelings of depression and helplessness, because for Diana this was a spitting image of what happened to the world. It became twisted and corrupted, bringing out the worst in humanity. All that sorrow around made her mentality stronger, more resilient and, in the end, made her tougher than she ever has ever been before the apocalypse. As she was enjoying the morning sunshine, she heard footsteps behind her. This situation was all too familiar for her.

    'Ramon, please stop getting on my nerves, that mysterious bad guy attitude doesn't turn me on.'

    'I'm afraid your boyfriend’s dead, sunshine.'

    As she heard an unknown gravely male voice, she promptly grabbed her bow and turned around. There were three men on the roof behind her. And two of them were aiming their pistols at her. They were in their mid 40's and looked roughened up, like if they have been in a fight recently. The one in the middle approached her.

    'We saw you sitting on this roof and thought we'd pay you a visit, darling. Oh, and I strongly suggest you drop that toy and get your hands up. SLOWLY. I like to watch.'

    There was no way she could have defended herself with a bow against two pistols. She knew it was risky, but she decided to take her chances and tag along, for now. She placed the bow on the ground slowly as the man came closer, then she raised her arms.
    'What did you do to Ramon?' Diana asked, observing the stranger’s movements.

    'Doesn't matter. All what matters is that we want to, so to speak, get ‘acquainted’ with you. Seeing such a lovely girl alone on the top of a building made us concerned about your… Well being, and we just couldn't leave without knowing if you're okay.'

    She squinted her eyes and raised one of her eyebrows as she listened to him speaking. And coming closer. Just within her reach now.

    'What a load of crap.'

    He came even closer and started stroking her right cheek with two of his fingers. A cloud of exhaled alcohol engulfed her face.

    'Now this ain't a way for a lady to talk. See, I enjoy the company of my beer buddies here, but there's something they cannot provide, and it's a bit difficult nowadays to get some... Action.'

    While speaking, he was looking her right in the eyes. His hand was coming down from her cheeks, following through her neck and ending up and staying on her chest. When he finished the sentence, he firmly grabbed her breast and broke eye contact. Diana tightened her fist and slammed it into his face with all she had. The blow stunned the bandit and, as he regained his senses, Diana's next punch hit his nose dead on, shattering the bone. Next came the roundhouse hammer punch to the side of his head. One of the goons fired at her, but it lodged itself in the shoulder of the guy whose nose she just broke. Diana barely avoided the second shot as it whizzed past her head. The firing goon came running in. Seeing that, Diana pulled the wounded assailant past herself, sending him over the roof’s edge. The guy that wanted to shoot her tried to grab his colleague, but failed. Following from the pull, Diana managed roundhouse kick the goon, hitting him in the back of the head, forcing him to lose balance and fall on the railing. Just as she was about to take care of the last guy, she felt an intense blow to the back of her head, stars popping into her view. Then came the intense pain, overwhelming and paralyzing. Her vision dimmed and her consciousness started slipping away. The last thing she felt was the hard surface of the roof slamming into her.
    After a while, as she began regaining her senses, she heard two male voices.

    'Holy shit! That's Diana Hale! Hell, my cousin was madly in love with her and followed her career. She even won a couple of junior tournaments! Don't you watch TV?!’

    ‘We’re in the middle of the walker apocalypse, you jackass, what DO you think?! … Just hold her damn hands, will you.'

    Diana felt as one of them sat on her knees and the other one stretched her arms up. Then came the slap to the face. Then another one. And another. The sudden pain pulled her back to reality. At this point, she didn't know if she really wanted to go back. She felt a hand grabbing her face and shaking her head. Diana opened her eyes and looked up at her captor.

    'We wanted to go easy on you, bitch, but for killing Steve... First, we we’ll fuck your brains out. Then, we'll kill you and leave you to fucking TURN.'

    Diana spat in his face. In return, the bandit backhanded her again. She could taste her own blood running down her lips.

    'Stop slapping her like a pussy and fucking hit her like a man. Punch that bite out of her.'

    The guy sitting on Diana's legs started laughing at the one holding her arms. The other one returned the laugh. Diana watched as her tormentor slowly raised his hand and tightened his palm into a fist. She felt as if time slowed down. Her eyes filled with tears as she decided not to watch, snapping them shut. She only heard their laughter. It wasn't the pain that made her cry, it was the feeling of helplessness and humiliation. She hoped this blow would knock her out again, ending the torment. Then she heard a hit and felt blood on her face, but no pain. She opened her eyes and saw the man sitting on her legs, his expression full of terror. He was holding the bleeding stump of his arm. It has been cut off cleanly. His blood was dripping on her in rhythmical spurts. The man holding her hands was in shock and seemed to not understand what was going on. Then he started screaming.

    'Jaime, behind-[...]'

    He didn't finish that sentence, his grip disappearing and his body falling lifelessly to the ground. The bandit still sitting on her now numb legs was lifted up and swiftly thrown away. All that Diana could see against the sun was a shadowy figure. It looked at her, then it turned away and walked toward the remaining oppressor. As the figure came out of the sun, she could see a familiar vest. It was Ramon. He turned the would-be rapist on his back and crouched beside him while admiring the bloodied machete.

    'A blade like this is pretty handy, wouldn’t you say.’ he said, giving the wounded man a fiendish smile. ‘Hey, are you a lefty by any chance?'

    Ramon stepped on the bandit's left remaining arm, raised his machete and made a powerful and accurate swing at the bandit's wrist, slashing through it cleanly.

    'Guess it doesn't matter no more.' He said, shrugging.

    The bandit started screaming, but soon passed out. Ramon didn't stop, though; he clearly didn't want him to pass out so soon and started slapping the guy's face time and time again. The half-conscious criminal-turned-victim finally came back to his senses.

    'Sorry about disarming you like that, pal. Here, let me give you a hand instead.'

    Ramon pulled the bandit up to his feet. This was the first time Diana could see the effects of a beating heart so directly, and that scared her. The bandit could barely stand and was losing a lot of blood at a steady and visible pace. But Ramon held him firmly and didn't let him to pass out again, as if he not only wanted to punish him, but also insult him some more.

    'Get a grip on yourself, man, you’re falling apart. Pull yourself together, wimp!'

    The rapist’s head slumped, but Ramon slapped him again and pointed his finger at the half-conscious man's face.

    'Pay attention! We're gonna play a little game. It's called “Miracle Mile". I kick you in the ass and you start running. If you don't bleed to death after a mile, IT'S A GOD DAMN MIRACLE!'

    Ramon turned the assailant toward the opposite edge of the roof and pushed him away. The now dazed bandit did a couple of steps, but Ramon wasn't satisfied. He placed his boot on the bandit's back and pushed him away, this time using plenty of his strength, sending the man stumbling at a slow pace. Diana couldn't stand any more of this, it was too cruel to bear. The numbness was fading away and when she could feel her legs again, she crawled toward her bow, passing the corpse of the other bandit, a throwing knife sticking out his forehead. She picked the bow up stood up, drawing it. She aimed at the rapist's head and fired an arrow. The arrows tip popped out through his eyeball and he fell to the ground, dead, his suffering at an end. She could hear Ramon’s displeasure in his voice.

    'Pity, he had a good start.'

    She was tired and hurting. She touched her lips with her fingers, checking if she was still bleeding, because she didn't know if it was her blood she could still taste. It wasn't. Still looking at the nearest corpse, she asked Ramon a rhetorical question.

    'Ramon... What the hell is wrong with you?'

    Ramon came closer. He looked into her eyes to check her pupils and then started inspecting her cheekbones and jaw. Diana hissed from the pain. She had a cut in the corner of her lips.

    'You're welcome, by the way. Doesn't look too serious, bones are okay. You should feel better in a couple of hours.'

    To avoid eye contact, Ramon took out their first aid kit, but as soon as he started cleaning her wounds with peroxide, Diana looked directly into his eyes again, and asked. She demanded an answer because even though he saved her life just now, and she was grateful, she didn't know if Ramon could be trusted.

    'Why did you torture him like that?'

    At first he ignored her, focusing on patching her up, but, after a moment of silence, she decided to grab his hand and moved it away from her face. She was still looking at him and waiting. Ramon looked away for a moment and then straight into her eyes.

    'What were you thinking about when we started rounding up every sick or old person back in Crawford?'

    Diana raised her eyebrow at the question. She remembered it as if it was yesterday, but didn't understand the relation.

    'It was different, most of them wouldn't survive anyway, and they would become a threat to the whole community if they suddenly died and turned...'

    Ramon pulled his arm out of her grip and returned to cleaning her wounds.

    'Most people are so scared of dying they will do anything to avoid it. That changes them, drives them. Those old and sick people wanted to live as much as we do. Yet, we showed them no mercy.'

    She was still tired and aching all over, but she felt that she was able to control the pain she was still feeling. Her thoughts were focusing on not giving up and not letting what just happened to control her behavior.

    'That doesn't give you the right to mutilate people!'

    A smirk crept onto Ramon's face.

    'You're hard as nails, Diana. I respect that. But you have a weakness: you feel sorry for them.'

    Her eyes widened and she gave him a dead serious yet somewhat frightened look in response.

    'I'm not an insensitive and heartless monster.'

    The smirk vanished off his face as he shut his lips tightly. He nodded in acceptance of what she just said. If she saw him like she just described, so be it. Ramon didn't need anyone's approval, nor was he interested in getting close to anyone. Then he shook his head, answering her.

    'No, you're not.' Then he gave her an askance look and added. 'Yet.'

    Zubley Street

    After Dave and Tony split off from from Diana and Ramon back at the hotel, they decided the best chance to find additional supplies was to visit the western part of the city that wasn't ransacked by Crawford as much. At least that is what Tony was hoping for. And wherever Tony went, Dave followed. But Dave's thoughts were revolving around Diana. He had a lot of girlfriends back in high school and he liked to brag about his achievements, but she wasn't so easily impressed. She had a similar life, one of the few differences being that he was an only child. She knew what the life of a sport-star was like backstage. Plenty of school jocks tried to impress her before, but it was Dave's caring nature that made her attracted to him. For the first time in his life Dave thought that it was something more than his typical fling. And knowing he couldn't impress her with his career made her an interesting challenge, and therefore even more exciting.

    'So, Dave, what do you think?'

    Dave quickly shook his head to go back to reality and looked at Tony.

    'Uhm... What? Sorry, Anthon, I zoned out...'

    Tony sighed.

    'Thinking about Diana again?' Tony smiled.

    'For sure, man, I think I'm in...' His smile disappeared as he realized what he was about to say. 'Oh shit... Sorry, Anthon...'

    Tony didn't react. He just kept walking down the street.

    'I thought that after seeing my family being eaten by walkers I'd be more accustomed to it... But seeing someone close to you murdered is… Different...'

    Dave stopped him and grabbed him by the shoulders. He looked Tony in eyes as he spoke.

    'I know it's hard, but you have to get over it. We need a leader.'

    Tony looked at Dave. He could see into his mind, Dave didn't mean the group, he meant himself. Tony stepped back, evading Dave's grip.

    'HA! Shizuko hates me, I seriously don't want to be nowhere near Ramon and Diana still misses that murderer Nate. For some odd reason all of you look up to me, but when it comes to a casual conversation, I feel left alone, as if I had been cursed the moment I told you to kill Phillip. I don't know. The more I think about Crawford, the more I wish I was never a part of it.'

    Tony started walking down the street again. Dave stopped for a moment, looking at the ground. Tony kept on walking until he passed near a two storey building, then proceeded inside. Dave followed. He felt sorry for Tony and thought he was probably suffering from depression. When they made their way up to the rooftop, Dave tried to cheer him up a bit.

    'You can't be like that, Anthon, you know that what you said ain't true.'

    Tony took off his backpack and took out the map of Savannah. He pointed his finger at the map and followed the route they came from.

    'It's ironic. All my life I struggled to be someone better despite the harsh circumstances, but then the world ended and I joined Crawford... Guess my grandfather was right, you can't escape the devils that haunt you. To free yourself you need to face them... But never mind my ramblings, nobody ever does anymore. We checked most of the buildings along this street, how about we take a look at Talmadge Memorial?'

    Dave unpacked his binoculars, since he was the one with the better eyesight.

    'Think there might still be some things in all those abandoned cars? Other than fuel, extinguishers and basic medical kits that is...'

    Dave put his binoculars against his eyes and proceeded to carefully scan the horizon. Tony was impressed that Dave actually paid attention to what he was saying back at the restaurant.

    'You finally did your homework, Dave... I don't think Crawford ever checked that far.'

    Dave stopped scanning the horizon and set his sight while adjusting the lenses on his binoculars.

    'Anthon, when was the last time we were patrolling this area?'

    Tony sat down on the rooftop and started scratching his head, he didn't remember exactly.

    'Couple of days ago, why?'

    'There's an abandoned locomotive at the rail yard. And there's a railcar attached to it too.'

    Dave's answer seemed kind of pointless to Tony, but if that caught his attention, there had to be something more to it.

    'Your point being?'

    Dave looked at Tony.

    'It wasn't there when we were here last time.'

    It seemed like bad news to Tony. It meant that someone had to drive it here, so that meant new people were around. People with that kind of equipment were usually the remnants of military or paramilitary organizations. Dave started scanning the area in search of anything that could answer the questions of "who" and "how many". A couple of silent minutes later he noticed a familiar figure making her way across the rooftops. She seemed to be going toward the nearby church.

    'What the-? Oh my God! Anthon, I think it's Molly!'

    Tony snickered sarcastically.

    'Guess there are more survivors that didn't want to remain a part of Crawford.'

    'She's entering the bell tower!!'

    One could hear the large bell inside that tower springing to life. Tony and Dave knew that this neighborhood would soon turn into a death zone. They had to retreat to a relatively safer location. They already had some supplies picked up, but it wasn't exactly enough to finish the patrol.

    'Dave, we need to tell the others. Let's take it cool and see what they think about it.'

    'You want to head back now?'

    'Yeah, let's take the scenic route and grab whatever we can find along the way.'

  • edited June 2014

    Corner of Oglethorpe Ave and Abercorn Street.

    For the last couple of weeks this three floor building was their home. First floor was actually an Italian restaurant that somehow didn't get fully ransacked yet. In the basement there were almost endless supplies of canned goods, more than enough to keep six people fed for a couple of months. Planning ahead, they stockpiled plenty of drinking water before the taps ran out completely. Shizuko and Mickey were in charge of keeping the building secure when others were patrolling the area looking for anything useful. Guess some of their Crawford habits stuck for good. Mickey hated sitting around doing nothing, so he started tinkering with anything he could get his hands on. Remembering how embarrassing his ineffective use of crowbar was, he made himself a spring blade fitted on a forearm grip. He was adding the finishing touches and praising himself about it.

    'Come on, Shiz, all those years and you've never seen any of the wolverine movies?'

    Meanwhile Shizuko was making an inventory of their supply of ammunition, taking notes as she was counting each bullet.

    'Was never a moviegoer, really. Come to think of it, my life was so... Boring... All I ever did was working at that hospital in Atlanta... Can't really say I prefer the excitement of an apocalypse over safe boredom of day-to-day routine, though...'

    Mickey smiled, remembering his parents and their constant whining about him wasting his time and not focusing on his scientific pursuits. He'd do anything for having things the way they used to be.

    'Think this hell will ever end?'

    Shizuko looked away, wondering. With her medical experience, she didn't hesitate on the answer.

    'I don't believe in magic or hellspawn, Mickey. All we know for sure is that you turn when you die, no matter what. Well, unless you got your head blown off or something. Nevertheless, when you get bitten, it causes a fever that basically kills your brain, making you a host, and, in the end, a walker. That makes me think that there are two strains of this virus or bacteria or whatever.'

    At his point Mickey just froze, staring at Shizuko as she was sinking deeper into her train of thoughts.

    'One transmitted by air, the other by saliva. So, if it is a kind of a disease, it technically has to end at some point. I mean, a dead body does not regenerate cells and rots at the same time. Heat speeds up the process. So, assuming that people don’t become immune to it at some point, and assuming this contagion never stops, and the dead never cease to rise, the few people that remain should outnumber the dead at some point. Unfortunately, it might even take years. Plenty of such cases in the history of mankind. Can't say anything for sure without a lab, though.'

    Picking his jaw from the floor took Mickey a while.

    'Okay, that was a bit too much of an answer... Something simpler, maybe... Got any boyfriend, husband?'

    'Was never really interested at first. On the other hand my coworker Simon, a rare mix of handsome, smart, and short... Became increasingly interested in me. I kept refusing, but he was... Persistent.'

    Shizuko smiled, but then her smile faded as she continued.

    'We so wanted to have a baby... We tried... I miscarried... My body couldn't handle another pregnancy... We started arguing about adoption, he got angry at me and I blamed him. We broke up eventually. When things went bad I came back to Savannah to look for my parents, but I was too late... Joined Crawford because they seemed to be the only ones with any medical equipment. You know the rest.'

    Mickey felt bad for accidentally dragging her past out like that. It wasn't his intention to make people feel depressed.

    'Oh... I'm sorry, Shiz...'

    Shizuko shook her head. She, on the other hand didn't want to overwhelm anyone with her past. She wasn't the type of person who bonded with others over a guilt trip.

    'Don't be. You couldn't have known. Doesn't really matter now.'

    Mickey smiled with a sigh of relief.

    'Anyway. Shiz, movies. Who do you think is more fit to survive an apocalypse at his prime: Schwarzenegger or Stallone?'

    'Kinda makes you wonder if any of the Hollywood celebrities made it, doesn't it? Imagine going through the countryside and suddenly meeting say... Norman Reedus.'

    Mickey squinted just as he was about to finish assembling his custom wrist blade and raised one of his eyebrows.

    'Bruce Campbell.'

    A smile appeared on Shizuko's face again as she started laughing.

    'You're not serious...'

    Mickey moved to the center of the room and puffed up his slim chest, doing the best impersonation he could.

    'Deep in my heart I believe that somehow, somewhere out there, Bruce Campbell is asskicking his way through the hordes of walkers, armed with his chainsaw of might + 1 and a 12 gauge of justice. Saving the world from the hordes of the dead. He will save us, Shiz. I know he will.'

    Mickey tightened his fist around his blade’s trigger and pressed the release handle. The weapon sprung to life with a swishing sound.


    Shizuko just gave him an eyeroll, still giggling.


    'Okay, okay, playtime's over, then.'

    Mickey began to operate a small handle that allowed the blade to retract back into its holster. As he was doing it the smile vanished from his face. He suddenly froze for a moment. Shizuko raised her eyebrow as well, concerned about the reason behind it.


    'Shh... Can’t you hear it? Church bells. New ones!'

    Shizuko froze, listening to the whispers carried by the wind.

    'Now that you mention it, yeah... That's First Bryan Baptist's. It's almost a mile away, west from here.'

    He jumped toward the table with the map of Savannah in an instant. Most of the bells they were hearing were located somewhere south. But this one was on the exact opposite side of town.

    'Look, this is where we are, and, if you're right, this is the bell that just went off.'

    He grabbed a pencil and a divider and marked the area around the church Shizuko mentioned.

    'There's a shitload of working bell towers in Savannah, right? And we can obviously hear that they are being used more frequently, drawing walkers from one neighborhood to another, making some room for exploration for whoever rings them. Now, with that new bell ringing, the deadites will be coming from the south eastern part of town.'

    Shizuko's eyes widened as she realized the path of the heard moving toward the newly rung bell.

    'We are right in the middle of a giant deathtrap...' She looked at Mickey with concern 'When?'

    One could hear the door on the upper floor being opened. Soon followed the sound of footsteps of two people coming through the back door.

    'Can't really say, Shiz. Too many factors. We already saw that their numbers are steadily increasing. They are probably wandering from the nearby rural areas, hearing dinner bells.'

    Shizuko readied her Sig Sauer while talking to Mickey.

    'Whatever we do, we can't stay in Savannah, we need to tell the others...'

    The door opened and revealed Ramon and Diana entering the restaurant's main room. Shizuko noticed that Diana was looking at the floor and avoiding any eye contact, so she quickly approached her to see what happened. When she saw a bruise on Diana's cheek and a cracked lip, her eyes widened.

    'My God... Diana... Who did this to you?'

    Diana said nothing, she just dropped her bow and hugged Shizu as she started sobbing, to which Shizuko returned the hug and started stroking Diana's head.

    'It's okay, no one will hurt you anymore.'

    Shizuko gave Ramon a look stating she demanded an answer, in response he started referring what happened.

    'There were six of them. I know the type. Guys thinking they can take whatever they want. They saw D sitting on the rooftop. Three of them went after her. The others were looking around. Killed the first with a throwing knife. I slit the throat on the guy who came investigating the sound of the falling body. The third one I stabbed in the heart while covering his mouth. Held him tight till his life faded away.'

    One could see terror on Mickey's face as Ramon described the details. He wasn't sure what scared him more: the fact that he did it, or the fact that the person who did it, stood next to him.


    'By the time I got to the roof they started toying with her.' An evil grin appeared on Ramon's face as he tightened his fist near his face. 'I made them pay.'

    Diana calmed down, but Shizuko was still concerned about her. Apocalypse brought out the worst in men and a traumatic incident like the one Ramon described could leave a young mind like Diana's scarred for life. Shiz wasn't a psychologist, but she wanted Diana to stay strong.

    'Come with me, Diana, let me check if everything is okay with you.'

    Shizuko escorted Diana to another room, leaving Mickey with Ramon. Ramon followed them with his sight and then turned to Mickey.

    'There was a big heard of walkers heading this way. Was it the bell?'

    'Ramon, you don't know the half of it.'

    Ramon didn't say anything more, he just took his ball cap off, rubbed his shaven head and dropped his backpack on the floor. He marked some punches in the air and started doing pushups. As he started counting he decided to make it more physically demanding by clapping when pushing up. Mickey sat on one of the leather couches and observed Ramon as he was training. When a layer of sweat appeared on Ramon's head and started dripping down on his face, he suddenly stopped. He stood up, panting. He then promptly started throwing knives at a dartboard hanging on the wall, shouting after each hit.

    'Hit! Hit! Twenty! Eight! Two! Miss! FUCK!'

    'The hell you are doing, Ramon?'

    Ramon was breathing heavily and was visibly displeased with the results. He looked at Mickey and pointed at the dartboard skewered with his knives.

    'See this? Hit the bull's eye twice. Shizu told me that, when exhausted, I won't be as accurate as I usually am. So I trained. Now my first throw never misses. NEVER. Do we have any plan for that herd?'

    Mickey watched Ramon pull the knives out of the dartboard and place them back in his vest.

    'Well, I believe this whole neighborhood will be swarmed with the undead. Soon. And the clock is ticking. We need to leave this city for good. Dunno where to, though.'

    Ramon approached the counter and picked up a couple of cigars. He then placed one in his mouth and lit it.

    'Going south is a bad idea, Mickey. Been crawling up north from Miami since all that crap started. Florida? Forget it man...'

    Ramon blew a cloud of dense smoke in the air.

    'So, we will go north, then. Ummm... Do you really have to smoke here? You already reek of tobacco.'

    'Hey, if I have a choice in the matter, I prefer dying to lung cancer than THEM. Besides, it replaces the smell of unwashed clothes with a little bit of my home. Wanna try?'

    'I'll pass, Ramon...'

    'Pussy... I'm out.'

    'Try to get some shut eye. As soon as Tony and Dave are back, we should probably...'

    Ramon left the room before he could finish the sentence. Mickey wanted someone to finally follow his advice so he decided to close his eyes and unintentionally fell asleep. He was woken up by the rustling sounds of items being placed on a counter. Mickey almost jumped to his feet, but then he realized he was safe. His motions slowed down as he looked around the restaurant. Ramon was nowhere to be found and Tony was wandering across the room while hastily preparing his travelling equipment. He stopped for a moment when he noticed that Mickey was awake and stretching, but then he continued. Mickey wasn't really surprised.

    'Good thinking, Tony, we should be leaving soon. Yawn How long was I out?'

    'A couple of hours. Shizuko told me we should wait till Diana feels okay to go. After what happened to her, I see why she doesn't want to move. Oh, and say nothing to Dave, he doesn't know yet.'

    Ramon entered the room with a nearly burned out cigar.

    'Doesn't know about what?'

    Ramon lounged on one of the leather couches near a dining table. He kept on puffing smoke, finishing his cigar. Mickey, on the other head, started scratching his head in discomfort.

    'You know, the city herd[...]'

    Tony didn't let him finish the sentence. In the meantime, Shizuko entered the room.

    'Walkers are already here. We're swarmed. And, one more thing. There's an abandoned locomotive on the tracks.'

    Mickey, being still half asleep, answered in the most sensible way possible. Not every day you could see a train on the tracks, right?

    'Wow, Tony... A locomotive... On the tracks... No shit?'

    That sarcasm was a bit overwhelming for Tony but, nevertheless, he stayed cool and responded as calmly as he could at that moment.

    'No, you don't understand, it wasn't there the last time we were on a patrol. I'll ask Dave to come here and explain.'

    Tony picked up the backpack and left the room. In that very moment Shizuko realized something so obvious they didn't pay attention to it.

    'Someone had to drive it here...Trains are loud... Even with a single engine.'

    This time Mickey jumped to his feet as if he was struck by lightning. He quickly ran toward the locker and started throwing stuff out until he took out the map of Georgia. He hastily placed the map on the table and grabbed a pencil and pair of compasses. After checking the scale, he placed the calipers on the map and followed the railway, drawing a line of roughly half a mile wide, making the railway its center point. His eyes widened as he witnessed the lines reaching inside of every city along the train route. He instantly thought about the possibility of the train not only creating a herd of walkers, but also giving it a direction and Savannah as its destination.

    'Listen, if I'm correct, that train...'

    In the meantime, Dave entered the room. He wasn't paying attention to Mickey's terrified ramblings, he wanted to know when Diana will leave her room. Shizuko kept him away under the excuse of feminine matters, but he knew it was something else. He wasn't that stupid. Maybe a bit paranoid, but not stupid. Finally... Diana came out of her room and that immediately put a smile on Dave's face. She looked tired. Exhausted even. Weird. She was resting the whole time. She seemed anxious to know why everyone gathered in the restaurant, talking all the time.

    'What's with all the racket?'

    As she came closer, Dave noticed the bruises on her face. The smile disappeared from his face. He then immediately approached her and placed his hand on the healthy cheek. She gave him a sad look, to which David hugged her.

    'I wanted to tell you we saw Molly alive the moment we returned.'

    Smile appeared on Diana's face.

    'My gosh... Was she ok? Why didn't she come back with you?'

    'We didn't really have a chance to talk. What happened to you, Diana?'

    'During the patrol... Ramon...'

    If looks could kill, Ramon would be the one to die from the sheer intensity of Dave's glare.

    'You were supposed to protect her, Ramon!'

    Ramon calmly showed the finger to Dave and continued to enjoy his cohiba.

    'Fuck you, Dave, you know shit.'

    Diana grabbed Dave's hands because she knew that Dave had a temper.

    'It's nothing. Ramon saved me.'

    Dave was talking in a raised voice, seeing Diana like that was enraging him further and all of his hate was aimed at Ramon. He shouted as he pointed a finger at him.

    'Her well being was YOUR responsibility!'

    'No, we were supposed to help each other and that was what I WAS doing, Davey.'

    Ramon stood up and turned his back to Dave, wanting to leave the room. Venting off on the roof with yet another cigar was what he was thinking about now. But Dave had other plans.

    'Don't you dare walk away from me, asshole. HEY! I'M TALKING TO YOU!'

    Ramon didn't even bother to turn around. He just yelled without turning his head.

    'Fuck you, Davey.'

    Dave followed Ramon and, as he caught up to him, he grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled with all his strength, turning Ramon around. Dave couldn't help himself and hit Ramon's face with a tightened fist on impulse. Ramon was blown away for a second. He then touched his lips with a thumb. There was a drop of blood on it. Ramon slowly wiped his lips with the outside of his palm and slowly turned his head to Dave, tightening both of his fists while giving him a dead serious scowling glare through squinted eyes full of building rage. Dave didn't hit him on purpose and, at that very moment, he knew that he unleashed something he would have a problem stopping.

    'Look, I'm...'

    Dave didn't get to finish the sentence. Ramon grabbed him by the jersey and followed with a headbutt. He then forcefully pushed Dave away and hit him twice in the face. Dave landed on the glass counter. Ramon reached for his bowie knife and raised it, coming for Dave, who noticed Ramon just in time to dodge the stab. The knife went halfway into the wooden part of the counter. Ramon released the knife and directed the next blow at Dave's head. Dave rolled away quick enough for Ramon's fist to miss its target, going through the glass panel instead. Ramon pulled his now bleeding arm away, giving Dave time to get back to his feet. Dave rushed at Ramon and tackled him, sending the pissed off Cuban into a wall. Dave followed with a couple of powerful blows to the ribs, but Ramon started elbowing him to the neck. Once, twice, trice. Under the pummeling, Dave gave up, moving away. Ramon used that moment to kick him in the stomach, bending the football player in half. Dave felt Ramon grabbing the sides and back of his head and then saw stars as a knee slammed into his face. Dazed, he was dragged toward the broken glass on the counter. Before they got there, he recovered enough to aim a few strong punches at Ramon’s kidney, forcing him to release his head and allowing Dave to push him stumbling away. Just as Ramon recovered, bent a bit and holding his side, Dave slammed his clenched together fist down at his head with all he had. That was the first hit that actually stunned Ramon for a while. Dave used that moment to grab him by the neck and the belt, pulling him along and slamming the Cuban’s head right into the broken glass of the counter. Ramon started screaming and promptly pushed himself off the counter, forcing David away. He then turned toward David and sent his fist flying in an uppercut into Dave’s jaw, knocking him down to the floor. Before David could recover, Ramon dropped a knee on his chest, pinning him down and knocking the wind out of him. As the stunned quarterback tried to pull some air into his lungs, Ramon sat across his chest and let his fists fly, crashing his fists into the sides of his head, left and right, time after time.
    Then, after just a few punches, a powerful blow to the back of Ramon’s head ended the fight. The Cuban found himself splayed on the floor right next to Dave, struggling to get back as his mind tethered at the brink of unconsciousness. He managed to get up on one knee and saw Shizuko standing next to the both of them. She was holding a monkey wrench, its tip bloodied a bit. Ramon muttered in astonishment.


    Sidewayz posted: »

    Chapter 3 - Crossing the Styx Corner of Drayton and Liberty Street. It was another beautiful dawn over Savannah. Soft wind caressed Di

  • His mind finally gave up and he slipped into the void, falling on one of the dining tables, breaking it. He felt as if he was floating in blackness, numb, helpless, confused... As if he was at the bottom of an ocean, being carried by the currents. Slowly, he rose to the surface and felt his consciousness returning bit by bit. The sound of the waves in his head gradually gave way to the nigh-incomprehensible sounds of talking voices and the seething pain of being alive slowly made its way through the soothing numbness. The distant voices he heard gained clarity little by little. But all that was second fiddle to the enormous, crushing headache he was just starting to be aware of. He still felt the little details: his arms bound behind his back, wet drops flowing down his hurting temple. Was that his blood? The thought slipped away as he heard Shizuko speaking in the distance.

    'If you are right, we can't stay here any longer, but David is in no shape to move now... And with Tony vanishing like that...'

    Then came another voice. Mickey, no doubt.

    'What about Ramon?'

    After a brief silence, he could definitely hear Diana.

    'He probably saved my life today... But I don't trust him.'

    And then Shizuko again. Since when has she become so self-confident?

    'He's a liability...'

    Mickey again.

    'Well, he's a dick for sure...

    "Thank you for the vote of confidence, Mickey, I'll be sure to remember that" would be Ramon's answer, if he could talk.

    'He's waking up...'

    Ramon opened his eyes. His vision was a bit blurry, but it was clear enough to see Shizuko, Mickey and Diana standing somewhere in front of him. After a couple more seconds, Ramon's vision cleared enough to see Shizuko approaching him with the very knife he slammed into the counter while trying to stab David. The irony, he was tied like an animal, hurting and he was about to be stabbed with his own knife. He was ready for it. He felt it coming.

    'Do it.'

    Shizuko didn't say a word. She was standing in front of him with the bowie knife. Mickey decided to leave the room. Diana just looked away.

    'I know you can do it. I saw it in your eyes.'

    Shizuko sat beside Ramon. He looked her in the eyes and then looked away with his eyes half-closed. After a brief moment of silence, she swung the knife. Ramon heard a ripping sound and felt his arms being freed of their bonds.

    'Why tie me up, then?'

    Ramon stood up, massaging his wrists. Again, that type of pain wasn't a new one for him. At least it didn’t hurt as much as handcuffs. Shizuko stood up as well, but she decided to make a step backwards. Just to be safely out of his immediate reach.

    'What did you expect? We were screaming at you both and neither reacted. Diana wanted to separate you two, which would end up with her being injured even more. I put a stop to it. To think that all that energy could have been used for some good... Now we have to let you rest... We removed the shards from your palm, stitched your temple, kept it clean and cool to stop the bleeding.'


    'Me and Mickey. Dave on the other hand is still unconscious. Probably suffering from a mild concussion. Hopefully, you can walk. You'll feel some intense pain until your injuries heal.'

    Ramon gave her a cold look. What could she knew. Nothing.

    'You have no idea what pain I learned to live with.'

    Ramon grabbed another cigar from under the counter and left for the roof. Mickey was sitting there, listening to the endless moans of the restless dead. Ramon decided to stand beside him as he was lighting his cigar.

    'Am I badly scarred?'

    Mickey just kept looking into the distance. He felt bad about everything. Maybe even a little depressed.

    'You are lucky to still have your eye.'

    Ramon puffed the cigar.

    'Guess I'm no longer a wannabe, then.'

    Mickey looked at Ramon's stitched temple for a second, then proceeded to stare into the distance again.

    'You don't have a shitty accent.'

    Ramon cracked a smile despite the pain.

    'Look, I might not be smart, but I knew why you all wanted me around. I could have left... I stayed... Now I don't have a reason to.'

    Ramon placed the cigar back into his mouth as he started looking in the same direction as Mickey, who pointed his finger at the dead horde as he turned his head toward Ramon.

    'Yup, but I think you might reconsider.'

    One could see that there were clearly over twice many walkers there than before. Without Crawford clearing the streets from the dead for so long, Savannah ceased to be safe, and with the bell ringers actively baiting them from one neighborhood to another, more were being drawn in from the outskirts. There was no hope for this city and everyone in the group knew they would not survive for long hiding like they did until now. With only so very few of them remaining together, there was no more room for personal conflicts. If they were to ever find a safe place to survive, they had to move on, and soon. They knew their way to safety would lead through the sea of the dead and that the train they saw wasn't going to make things any easier. There were already hundreds of walkers wandering around their neighborhood, more of them were certainly on their way, and God only knew how many. Time was against them, but the only thing they could do now was to wait.

    Sidewayz posted: »

    Corner of Oglethorpe Ave and Abercorn Street. For the last couple of weeks this three floor building was their home. First floor was actu

  • edited July 2014

    Chapter 4 - At the Gates of Tartarus.

    Corner of Oglethorpe Ave and Abercorn Street.

    A long and difficult night was coming to an end. Tending to the unconscious Dave didn't leave Shizuko plenty of time to sleep well. Fortunately for him, he woke up and the rest of the group didn't have to decide whether to leave him behind or not. Despite receiving a solid beating from Ramon, he could walk. More or less. Ramon didn't come unscathed either, he had cuts on his right arm and on the right side of his face, but seemed to be indifferent about it, although he started preferring his left hand. Tough bastard, Shizuko thought. She, on the other hand, was used to sleep deprivation, but it seemed this would be one long day. They decided to leave the city, but she started having second thoughts. They still had plenty of food, bottled drinking water and some ammunition. The building they were hiding in was no Fort Knox, but, as long as they were quiet, walkers, despite their numbers, were ignoring it. Sadly remaining silent was the source of the problem. The constant thoughts that they weren't hiding in a refugee camp but that they were literally being held prisoners by the dead, and the presence of two alpha males struggling for dominance, left little room for relieving stress. Shizuko's mind was starving for intellectual entertainment and if she was feeling it, it meant that others did too. With nothing to do, boredom would certainly lead Dave and Ramon to bash their heads together until one of them died. And if not, the noise caused by their fights would be like a dinner bell for the walkers, turning the building into yet another restless gravesite. Shizuko and Mickey thought that right now their best chance was to escape from Savannah and hide in the countryside. There were two main advantages of this solution: they would have a goal, giving the group something to do, and they would hopefully find a safer location in the process. The main disadvantage was that they were risking their lives more than ever before. Leaving Crawford seemed like a walk in the park in comparison. She was pulled out of her reflections by Ramon picking his teeth while keeping a lookout through the opened window.

    'I think a couple of my teeth are loose.'

    Dave took a deep breath and held a hand out to Ramon.

    'Look... I'm sorry, Ramon.'

    Ramon didn't even turn his head toward Dave, he just kept staring into the distance.

    'When you hit someone in the face, you don't say you're fucking sorry. Grow a pair and be honest with yourself – you always wanted to do that.'

    Shizuko interrupted them because she couldn't stand any more of their rivalry.

    'You two alpha males were so focused on proving who has a bigger... issue... you forgot about your priorities. For criminy, it might take years before things get back to normal! And all you can think about is rivalry. Focus on getting out of here, then murder each other for all I care, please.'

    Ramon thought about it for a while as he was lighting his cigar. To him there was no conflict in here, if somebody put his hands on him, he WOULD be the one to put the bastard down. If someone was unable to control his anger and channel it into a purpose, they were useless.

    'Shizu... Don't talk to me about survival. I've come full circle. I saw people struggling and giving up, people fighting for nothing and people foolishly sacrificing themselves for the greater good. After all that time all I can say is: evil spelled backwards is live.'

    Shizuko just shook her head in disbelief.

    'You are SO wrong...'

    'Hate to break it to you, Shiz, but we're not the good guys, we never were.'

    'Even if it was true, Ramon, people have the power to redeem themselves; the only thing they need is the will to do it.'

    Dave kept on listening in silence. He disagreed.

    'The only bad guy here is you, Ramon.'

    Ramon pointed his 45 long slide at Dave and cocked the hammer without saying a word. Shizuko immediately reached for her gun, shouting. She kept her hand close to the holster, ready to use it.

    'Ramon, stop!'

    Ramon slowly turned his head to Shizuko, still keeping his pistol aimed at Dave.

    'He lays a finger on me one more time, he dies.' He said, giving a small nod.

    Shizuko saw the look on his face, he meant it.

    'Like I said, as soon as we leave the city, we can just split off. No need to stay together longer than necessary.'

    Ramon uncocked the gun, snapping the safety back on.

    'You sound so high and mighty, preparing to take a life defending him. But would you give it for someone else? For someone you hate or don't know at all?'

    Shizuko hesitated for a moment, then gave a firm answer.

    'I was a doctor. I swore an oath to protect life.'

    Ramon holstered the pistol and proceeded to massage his bandaged palm.

    'Well then, don't do it for me, ever. I don't want you on my conscience.'

    Mickey entered the room, carrying a big black bag with supplies, and saw the rest of the group in a crappy mood again. He looked around.

    'What did I miss?'

    Shizuko just rolled her eyes, to which Mickey just shrugged. He placed the bag on the ground and unzipped it. Inside was Nate's sniper rifle. It had been repaired and was ready to use, with some ammunition to spare.

    'Shiz... Thought you might use it. And a second machete with a holster for you, Ram.' Mickey threw the holstered blade and Ramon caught it in mid-air with his left hand.

    Shizuko picked the silenced M40A3 up. She reloaded it swiftly, placing it on the windowsill facing south. They knew a diversion was necessary, but Shizuko didn't approve of Diana volunteering to go. Unfortunately she was the only one with enough stamina to pull it off. And she was heading toward the bell tower located to the south. With her being alone out there, they could barely stand just waiting. For the first time nobody was there to pull her out of a bad situation, and when Diana would be on the way back, trouble would follow...

    Abercorn street

    It was still dark when Diana was running due south down the street. She was surrounded by walkers coming at her from all directions, but she wasn't afraid, no, not anymore. After what happened yesterday, she promised herself that she would get tougher. She would never falter, never give up, and whatever happens she would never be afraid. And any person who ever touched her... Would regret it. Her destination was the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, or, rather, its bell towers. Right now she was near Perry Lane, the building she stopped at was empty enough for her to take a quick break inside, just enough to continue the dash for her life, for there was a large group of walkers going after her. After a few deeper breaths, she started running to the main entrance of the cathedral and pulled at the main doors, but they were locked. Side entrance! She thought as she came running down Harris street. There was another large group of walkers between her and the her destination. No room for subtleties, she thought as she unholstered her Beretta. There had to be dozens of them around her, closing in. She stopped, exhaled sharply and aimed her pistol. Then came the shots and the reanimated bodies were put to rest again. A walker tried to grab her from behind, but, as it came close, she forcefully stuck the pistol in its mouth and fired. Click, that was the last bullet. Diana was now standing in the middle of a temporarily cleared out street, but more walkers were lured by all the noise she was making. She unloaded the empty clip as she ran to the door. These doors were locked as well. DAMMIT! She reached inside her pocket, grasped at another clip, a quick pull and she unwillingly pulled two of them out, one dropping on the stone steps.

    'Come on come on COME ON!'

    She shouted as she reloaded the gun. Clack! And the trusty pistol was ready to fire again, none too soon. Two more shots and she was safe for another couple of seconds. "Screw that" slipped through her mind as she aimed at the lock. Blam, blam, blam and the door knob became a memory. Still not opened?

    'Open! God damn it!'

    Were the words she screamed as she persuaded the stubborn side entrance with a "gentle" kick backed up by all the strength the adrenaline gave her. And another forceful blow, bashing the door into the wall beside it, sending the lock flying, landing on the floor with a screech somewhere near the middle aisle. She swiped the clip up from the steps while running inside and quickly slammed the door shut behind her, but, with the lock pretty much gone, they would be useless against the walkers. She glanced around and her eyes fell on the heavy stone holy water basin by the door. She jumped to it, grabbed its rim with both her hands and pulled hard, planting one boot on the wall to give herself more leverage. With a few cracking sounds, the basin tipped and then fell over, part of the rim breaking off. Its impact against the stone floor deafened her for moment and echoed across the interior. She shook her head, content with having made the walkers’ unlife just a little bit more difficult, and slowly approached the altar.

    A thought struck her: it was the first time since the beginning of the apocalypse that she was in a church. Alone... The first sunrays of the day just broke through the stained glass, playing cheerfully with the shadows illuminating the main hall. The hum of the wind outside, mixed with the undead moans, added to the already eerie atmosphere. She felt uneasy, but not afraid. No, it was just... Strange, and somewhat overwhelming. She decided to cross herself, just in case. Strangely, the decor inside remained intact, as if nothing had happened in the past four months. She came closer to the altar.

    'Why is this happening? Is it some kind of a test? You were supposed to be merciful, but there's so much undeserved suffering around...'

    Diana's voice echoed across the hall, but there was no answer. All there was, was the same creepy atmosphere. And the near-complete silence, unnerving after being around other people for so long… She jumped as she heard someone, no, something slamming against the now-blocked entryway. She had no time for this, she had to find it. Luckily, it wasn’t difficult, she soon arrived at the bottom of one of the towers, with a thick rope hanging all the way down from the distant bell at the top, framed in a square spiral staircase. After a moment of hesitation to take a deep breath, she grasped it with her hands and pulled on it, putting all her weight into it. The bell rung loudly, marking the beginning of a new day for a parish that could have very well been undead by now.

    Walkers started gathering outside the cathedral and the slams became louder, there was no chance for Diana to exit the same way she came in. In a risky gamble, she decided to leave through the main entrance, unlocking it first and then dashing for safety up Abercorn street. Whenever a walker got too close to her, she fired the gun. Time dragged on endlessly as she kept running, listening to her own heavy breathing, to her thumping heart. It did its job, kept her and her blood going, but damn if it didn’t sound ready to give up.

    Corner of Oglethorpe Ave and Abercorn Street.

    Shizuko noticed Diana running up the street. Finally, after God knows how long, she was heading to safety.

    'There she is! Get to the entrance!'

    Shizuko pressed the scope to her eye and started firing, clearing a path for Diana. Ramon and Dave ran downstairs, to the main entrance. When Diana got close, Ramon opened the door and Dave ran outside, killing any stubborn dead nearby. Diana ran inside and the doors were locked firmly behind her. She bent over, placing her hands on her knees and catching her breath. Her lungs burned, but she was alive and not bitten.

    'Damn, girl, you look like you sprinted all the way here!' Dave exclaimed, watching her in disbelief.

    'I… Kind of… Did…' she answered, her speech broken up by breathing.

    'Fuck me, I’d have choked to death half the way in.' Ramon said, a hint of respect in his voice. He then pulled the cigar out of his mouth, holding it out to her.

    'Want a puff?'

    'Ha-ha, very fun-oh god my lungs.' She laughed, then starting to cough. Dave cast Ramon an angry gaze, but then realized that it was just a joke and concentrated on Diana instead.

    'Your loss.' Ramon stuck the cigar back in between his teeth.

    Shizuko entered the restaurant, reloading the rifle. For the first time there a flash of anger in her eyes.

    'Grab your stuff and reload the guns. We need to move.'

    Dave looked to Shizuko, supporting Diana and patting her on the back lightly.

    'Give her a break, Shizuko... Can't you see that she's dead tired?' Dave asked.

    'Great choice of words there, pal.' Mickey chuckled, shaking his head. Dave blinked, then it dawned on him and he facepalmed with a slight groan, just getting a bottle of water, opening it and handing it over to Diana without a word.

    Ramon quickly put his backpack on and buckled it up. Then he grabbed his machetes by the handles and swiftly pulled them out, checking how long it took. After twirling the blades in front of himself a couple of times, he slid them back into their holsters in a single fluid movement. He answered with a firm voice while cracking his left hand’s knuckles.

    'The dead don't wait like they used to, Davey.'

    Dave narrowed his eyes, but he knew Ramon was right. He looked at Diana, then at the front doors of the restaurant. Not five minutes later the entire group was storming the streets outside, armed to the teeth. Most of the walkers were moving south, but some remained, lured by the gunfire. As the team started running down Oglethorpe Avenue, they noticed a large herd moving their way from the west.

    'We can avoid them, go north!' Shizuko screamed.

    As they turned toward where they came from, they noticed another herd of walkers closing in, following the scent of the living survivors. Trapped between the two groups and with no way out, they all raised their weapons. Dave noticed a metal door in a wall between two buildings.

    'Inside!' He screamed.

    The walkers were closing in. Ramon ran to the door and tried to open it, but it was locked. Two strong kicks later he deducted that it was pointless to kick metal door and that his foot hurt. Then, it struck his mind and he tried to pull them, but no such luck. At least he wouldn’t have to hate himself for not trying that earlier. Finally, he turned around, preparing to give a leg up.

    'Ladies first.'

    Diana and Shizuko nodded, Dave mimicked Ramon and stood opposite to him. The girls quickly reached the top of the wall, drawing their guns in case there was more trouble. Mickey stood there, terrified by just how many undead corpses were closing in.

    'MICKEY.' The two men by the door shouted in unison.

    Mickey woke up from his stupor and ran towards Dave. As he reached safety, Dave and Ramon looked at each other. Ramon was the first to speak, although with certain disgust.

    'You go first.' He said. Dave nodded and climbed up the wall with his help. 'Dickhead.' The Cuban muttered under his nose.

    'What?' Dave asked, reaching down to Ramon together with Diana.

    'Nothing, just pull!' Ramon shouted back, jumping up and grabbing their outstretched arms.

    They both tried to pull him up, but Dave couldn't hold it and Ramon fell back down, hitting the ground with his back. The walkers were only a dozen feet away now. He looked up at Dave, his teeth clenched, and quickly got back up, looking around. He backed a couple of steps away and then ran at the wall. He jumped at it, managed to run two steps up and grabbed the top edge, pulling himself up to safety and leaving a red stain on the concrete. The group found itself somewhat safe in an alleyway between the two buildings. Knowing there was no heading back now, they kept moving down the alley. Mickey tried to cheer everybody up.

    'Yeah, I loved travelling before all that happened. Hehe, there was this one time I left a graffiti in the ladies room. It said "I wrote on a wall, take THAT society."'

    To no avail, the morale was still mediocre at best. Diana looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

    'What were you doing in a ladies room?!'

    Mickey didn't say a word, flashing a goofy smile instead and shrugging.

    'Can it.' Ramon interrupted. 'How far is the bridge, in a straight line?'

    '5 miles. Without them around it would’ve been a 20 minute trip.' Dave answered.

    'Dammit!' Ramon sighed. 'This will be a looong day.'

    They soon left the alley, fighting for every street corner, every resting break and every opportunity to move forward. If there were too many walkers to fight, they waited. Following York Lane, then Drayton Street up north, they kept on moving as time passed. When they reached the crossing with State Street, it was already past noon. Even though it wasn't too hot outside, the group decided not to move when the sun was at its finest. A well earned rest was what they needed, to reload, plan ahead, and secure a place if things went awry. Shizuko studied the map of Savannah very carefully, consulting their every move with Mickey, "the PC world strategist", a title given by Diana.

    'Okay, I think we're north enough, we need to start moving west. I think it would be better to follow Broughton Lane rather than Broughton Street, a narrower street means less of them to take out, right? Then we can use one of the back entrances and switch to the rooftops again. If the gap between the buildings gets too wide to cross, we can always fight our way through the street and get to the rooftops again. How are we doing with ammo?'

    'I guess we're running dry.' Diana answered. 'We might consider saving ammo from now on. I can still kill them with the bow though.'

    'Fine, you will go first, shoot at a close range. Boys, recover every arrow you can. We've been here long enough...'

    Mickey just nodded. It's not like anyone had a better idea, anyway. They had a fighting chance and they made the best of it so far. Plus, their current destination was not far away. Diana stepped out onto the street first, it seemed clear enough. Her bow was ready to shoot and she was ready to kill. They were close to Broughton lane, their current destination, but Drayton was still crowded with the remnants of the walkers they didn't kill earlier. Dave was following her, keeping a distance, behind him came Ramon, looking around and observing the walkers, finally Shizuko and Mickey at the end. Diana was cutting them a path through the walkers, taking them out one by one. Whenever her bow had been drawn, another undead body was being put to rest. But even the sound of falling bodies drew unnecessary attention from the nearby walkers. They were growing more and more restless, and the members of the group were more and more concerned. When the dead became rampant, it was time to start running. As they were trying to reach yet another safe point, Mickey tripped on one of the bodies killed by Diana and fell to the ground. The others just kept running, leaving him behind. It wasn't until a moment later that Shizuko realized someone was missing. She turned around and saw Mickey trying to pick himself up off the ground. Two walkers were reaching out to grab him. Shizu quickly raised her pistol and shot one of them in the head. It fell on Mickey, trapping him. The one that remained threw itself on Mickey, hissing and moaning for blood. Mickey struggled, but the reanimated corpse just wouldn’t give up and grabbed his calf. Next thing he felt was a fiery pain striking his leg. Terrified, Mickey rolled over and saw the walker that just grabbed him feasting on his bleeding limb.

  • edited July 2014

    Ramon turned around and saw all that, breaking into a run in order to help him. He kicked the biter’s head at full speed, sending it rolling back, breaking its hold on Mickey’s limb, and then dropped on one knee, stabbing a machete into the walker’s head, putting his entire weight behind the attack. The lurker spasmed and then stopped, dying for good. The Cuban stood back up, placed his boot on its head and pulled the blade out and wiped it clean on the walker’s clothing. He then turned back to Mickey and kicked the motionless deadite lying on top of him off. He narrowed his eyes when he saw the bloody gash in his leg and grabbed the other, clean machete, unholstering it and throwing his arm above his head as if in slow motion. The sharp metal shwing of the blade leaving its resting place brought horror to Mickey's face.

    'Please, no, NO! AIIIEEE!!!'

    Ramon ignored the plea and swung the blade down in a clean cut. Mickey felt as if he just dipped his leg knee deep into lava. It was too much for the kid and he unwittingly let out agonizing scream, alarming each and every biter in the area. He reached for his leg, but his hands didn’t find anything, until they travelled higher, touching the bleeding stump. He was in too much shock to scream again, just trying to process what just happened. Ramon reached for his belt, taking, almost tearing it off, and wrapped it tightly around the gushing thigh, tightening it with all his strength, unleashing another wave of unbearable pain. It was just too much and Mickey screamed shortly in agony before sinking into the darkness, losing consciousness.

    'No!!! Not HIM!!!' Shizuko screamed, then managing to get a hold of herself. 'We have to get him inside!' she shouted to Ramon.

    There was already a crowd of lurkers coming at them and blocking their retreat, lured by the screams and the smell of fresh blood on the pavement. Diana and Dave came running to help, firing their pistols at anything that got closer. Ramon holstered his bloodied machete and grabbed the unconscious Mickey, wrapping the kid’s arm over his back and grabbing his wrist with his right hand, then wrapping his other arm around Mickey’s back and grabbing his side with his hand. Supporting him like that and aided by Dave who did the same on the other side, they quickly moved to the crossing of Broughton and Drayton, where Shizuko and Diana started checking the doors, hoping to any open ones. When she grabbed yet another knob and found it locked, Shizuko lost her patience and broke the window, quickly jumping inside and unlocking the door to the house. Seeing that, Diana proceeded to clear out the walkers, cutting a path for Dave and Ramon to carry Mickey in. Once everyone was inside, Shizuko slammed the doors behind them, but they were still in danger. With walkers banging on the door, they couldn't do anything for Mickey yet.

    'Upstairs!' Diana shouted.

    Diana and Shizuko hastily blocked the door with furniture. Dave and Ramon carried Mickey up the stairs, leaving a trail of blood behind them, and the girls followed. The group found itself in a topmost room with rooftop access. Fortunately, there was an old couch inside, nothing fancy but good enough for Mickey to be placed on. Shizuko crouched beside him, inspecting the severed stump closely.

    'At least it's a good cut... Give me my med kit, I'll try to clean this up, make the best of him being out.'

    Dave passed her the items and she began tending to the wound.

    'Christ, these conditions are almost as bad as during the civil war... Would you do this to yourself, Ramon, if you had to?'

    Ramon looked at Shizuko closing the arteries and vessels. That wound was his doing and he didn't feel good about having to maim someone who didn't deserve it. But he also had no remorse, he was saving his life.

    'Hopefully, I'll never have to make that choice... How long until you’ve fixed him up, Shiz?'

    'Can't say.'

    'Well, patch him up and make it sturdy, we're not staying here long.'

    'Who made you the boss?' Dave asked, squinting his eyes.

    'We stay here, we die, so shut the fuck up, Davey.'

    Shizuko was surprised hearing that and nearly jumped up, but she didn't stop and her hands didn’t miss a beat, trying to stop the bleeding.

    'Wait, what?!'

    'You heard me, Shiz, we need to keep on moving, or all of us will end like him.'

    'Do you expect me to carry him?!'

    Ramon just shook his head.

    'No. We will.'

    Shizuko froze for a moment. She turned her head toward Ramon and nodded.

    'I'll work as fast as I can...'

    Rooftop on the corner of Bull Street and Broughton Street

    Mickey woke up shivering. He could see storm clouds gathering on the evening sky above him and he could feel some very uncomfortable makeshift bedding underneath him. When reaching under the blanket for his hurting leg, he felt it missing and something was stuck to the stump. He uncovered the blanket with growing terror and saw his now incomplete body. At the end of what was left of his leg was something that could be described as a makeshift field dressing composed of bandages and duct tape, holding it firmly in place. At least it looked durable... He then laid flat again. Next to him sat Shizuko, napping, further away Diana and David, snuggling. Next thing he noted was Ramon's head in his face, startling him.

    'Nice to see you too.' Said Ramon with a hint of snark in his voice, then continued before Mickey could answer. 'Nevermind, welcome to the land of the living.'

    'Dead...' Mickey added.

    'Welcome to the land of the living dead.' Ramon started, stroking his chin. 'Has a nice ring to it.'

    Ramon rose as Mickey sat up, keeping his leg under the blanket.

    'I can't believe it, you cut my bloody leg off! Speaking of which, thanks to you I'm going to die from blood loss...' he said with a heavy dosing of British sarcasm.

    'Pity it wasn't an arm, though, bet you could make a prosthesis with retractable blades and THAT would be fucking awesome. Ever seen Predator? Imagine that sweet swishing sound. Anyway, don't be a wimp, it's just a flesh wound.'

    Mickey looked at Ramon in disbelief.

    'JUST A FLESH WOUND?! I feel like I’m stepping on a leg that’s beaten to a pulp with a nailed hammer on hot coals and at the same time dipping my still burning calf in saltwater mixed with sulfuric acid and vinegar and my goddamn phantom foot itches!!'

    A devilish grin appeared on Ramon's face.

    'See? Nothing TOO serious.'

    Mickey hid his face in his hands and started speaking in a raised voice.

    'I'm probably lying on my death bed, a very UNCOMFORTABLE death bed I shall add, I'm scared shitless...' He raised his head. 'And you're cracking jokes... My god, you really ARE an asshole. Come closer so I can punch you.'

    Ramon moved his face closer to Mickey's, giving the kid a good scare with his serious face and dangerously narrowed eyes.

    'You know what happened to the last guy who called me an asshole before the apocalypse? He was necklaced.'

    Mickey moved a couple of inches away.


    'You know, had some rubber tires slapped on him, got a gas shower and was set on fire.'


    Ramon quickly looked around and a smile appeared on his face.

    'Don't worry, can't find any tires.'

    Mickey burst out laughing. Ramon had a sick sense of humor... At least he hoped it was just a joke...

    'You asshole!' But his smile quickly faded and a dead serious expression crept onto his pale face. 'I don't want to become one of them... Promise you won't let me to turn into a walker.'


    Mickey cast Ramon a shocked stare, his eyes wide-open.


    'You’re gonna make it, so shut the fuck up.'

    Ramon's suave way with words woke Shizuko up. She seemed happy to see Mickey recovering.

    'Good to have you back, you've been out a while. Seems the city isn't so dead after all. We saw some people running away from the walkers from time to time for a change.'

    Dave and Diana heard the conversation in the background and decided to join. Dave was visibly concerned.

    'He woke up...' Dave said it as if he was displeased with the fact that Mickey was still alive. 'Maybe we should leave him?'

    Shizuko just stared at him in disbelief for a moment, then stood up, her hand touching the grip of her gun.

    'What?! Some fucking TACT, Dave!'

    Everyone just stared at her, even Ramon. They never heard her so angered before. After a moment Dave just shrugged and took a deep breath.

    'We're almost out of ammo, our pace is at a standstill, we both know he won't make it... And we can't help him... just like with Phillip...'

    'He really slows us down...' Diana added.

    Mickey looked at their heartless expressions. They really meant it...

    'Oh Christ... Please, I beg you, don't leave me behind!'

    Mickey tried to stand up in desperation, despite missing a limb, but he just kept on tripping over. The more he tried to prove he was okay, the more his eyes filled with tears of sheer helplessness.


    Shizuko was further enraged by Dave mentioning Phillip, it was so easy for him just to follow yet another order back then, he didn't even hesitate thinking about taking another life now... No, he would NOT do it, Shizuko wouldn't allow anyone to hurt Mickey.

    'We're not abandoning him!' Shizuko said, tightening her fists.

    Mickey just gave up trying to stand up and started looking blankly at nothing.

    'Fuck it... I will endure all this subhuman driveling shit with a smile.'

    Diana suddenly started to sniff around, feeling a hint of something unpleasant. The smell quickly intensified, forcing Diana to pinch her nose.

    'Gosh... what is that horrible stench?!'

    Ramon looked past Shizuko, then pushed her aside without saying a word. Acting on impulse, he threw one of his knives with his right hand, feeling intense pain as he did it, instantly recalling why that was a bad idea. The spinning blade missed its target by mere inches, flying right past the head of a small figure. As Shizuko regained her balance, she turned around and saw a little girl, sobbing as she stumbled forward, staring at the ground with unseeing eyes and loosely holding a pistol in her hands. Her face was stained with blood mixed with tears. She just kept on walking, ignoring the knife that just missed her and slammed into the roof behind her. Shizuko approached her and kneeled down beside, stopping the obviously shocked kid.

    'My God... What happened to you, sweetie? What's your name? Where are your parents?'

    The girl didn't answer, but Shizuko noticed fresh tears flowing down her cheeks, followed by quiet sobbing. Shizuko turned her head towards Ramon.

    'Jesus Christ, Ramon! You nearly killed her!'

    Ramon stood there still. watching his wounded palm and clenching it into a fist and then back. He couldn't believe that one deeper cut was enough to ruin all that training practice. Deep within he didn't want to accept that the beating he received yesterday really got to him.

    'I missed... I was aiming for her head... It wasn't my intent to miss...'

    Diana approached Ramon. It started with just distrust, but right now she knew that she despised what Ramon represented. A cold blooded and ruthless being with no empathy. His body finally reflected his soul. Broken and scarred.

    'You animal!'

    Ramon turned toward Diana instantly. The anger within him was building up, he had enough of risking his life for the greater good of other people.

    'Worse. A HUMAN SURVIVOR!' Ramon pointed his palm at the girl. 'She's covered in blood from head to toe and smells like rotten meat! What do you expect me to do? Cuddle her?!'

    Shizuko started wiping all the blood and tears off the girl's face.

    'It's not her blood!' Shizuko turned toward the girl. 'Don't listen to them, honey. Are you okay?'

    The little girl raised her head and looked at Shizuko with distrust. As she came to her senses, she tightened the grip on her pistol.

    'I… I'm Clementine...'

    Shizuko placed her arms on Clementine's shoulders. She suddenly felt that it was her responsibility to lead this little girl out of this hell on earth, but there was one condition.

    'Clementine, I need to know... Were you bitten?'


    Shizuko smiled as she cleaned Clementine's face from all the remaining blood.

    'Hard to believe there's such a cute girl under all of this.'

    Ramon's personality chose this moment to made the already grim situation sound even worse.

    'Cute till you die trying to get her out of trouble.'

    Shizuko shook her head in disbelief. She saw Ramon just standing there, watching silently.

    'She's still a kid! How could you throw a knife at a kid?!'

    Ramon couldn't believe what she just said. All that time spent under Oberson's rigid rules, she’s always been so distant, or obeying... He wasn't speaking to the same woman she was a couple of months ago.

    'You've became so self-righteous it's disgusting. Why didn't you act like that when Oberson started introducing the rules? Removing everyone underage? Did you really forget the things we agreed to do to survive? Your hands are bloody too...'

    Shizuko stood up in front of Ramon firmly, keeping the girl behind her.

    'We're not in Crawford anymore, dammit!'

    The girl gasped and jumped back a bit, raising her gun defensively. She was scared, but she held the pistol firmly despite her small posture and she was ready to pull the trigger.

    'You're from Crawford!'

    Ramon ignored the gun, focusing on Shizuko instead, giving her one of his scowling looks.

    'You think I'm a monster, a dumb sadistic and heartless muscle that takes pleasure in hurting others, but I never fooled myself that I'm one of the good guys. When I joined I knew what Crawford was about. I accepted it. Like it or not, it will be a part of us until we die.'

    Ramon, still looking at Shizuko gravely, pointed his wounded arm at the girl, preparing to reach for the knives in his vest with the other one. His muscles were tensed and he was ready to kill.

    'Better put that gun down, kid, I won't tell you again.'

    Shizuko backed off and raised her sig sauer, aiming it at Ramon's forehead.

    'I won't let you hurt her.'

    Ramon snatched one of his throwing knives and was ready to throw it at Shizuko. He squinted his eyes and clenched his teeth.

    'I won't let you keep her. She joins us, you'll just end up dead trying to save her.'

    Shizuko's face flashed with anger, for the first time she was the one with the eyes of a killer, ready to act.

    'Bullets are faster than blades.'

    Ramon just smiled fiendishly.

    'Do you have what it takes to find out you're wrong?'

    A sharp click of the safety being flipped off was the first answer, then came hers.

    'Yes.' Her voice left no room for doubt.

    Diana placed herself next to both of them and reached for her bow.

    'If you really want to create more of them, fine.'

    David came closer, grabbing the bow and pushing it down.

    'Are you serious?'

    Diana just yanked it out of Dave's grip and raised her weapon again.

    'But I'm putting the winner down. If you're willing to kill each other over an argument, me and Dave can go on without you right now.'

    Seeing their reactions and realizing that she was the reason for all the commotion, Clementine lowered her gun and fixed her eyes on the ground again.

    'I'll just go... You won't have to see me ever again... Walkers won't bite when you're covered in this gross stuff...'

    Hearing Clementine, Shizuko looked at her, then lowered her weapon and slowly turned herself towards the girl, finally holstering the weapon slowly.

    'No, you won't. There are too many monsters out there.' She said, looking at Ramon.

    Clementine looked at Shizuko with hope.

    'I won't let anything bad happen to you.' Shizuko added.

    Clementine couldn't help it and just hugged Shizuko tightly. She was no longer alone in a city full of walkers.

    'Great, now we have a worthless kid in here as well... Our chances of getting through the streets alive are now nil... zero, NADA.' Dave said, rubbing his forehead.

    Clementine released Shizuko and looked at Dave.

    'You could use the sewers... My friend used them to get to our house, maybe we can use them to leave Savannah?'

    Dave just laughed noiselessly and looked at Shizuko.

    'Why don't you put HER in charge?!'

    Shizuko approached Dave, pointing a finger at him.

    'Dave, you better start dealing with it, because that little girl probably survived longer than us with no training, and I'm sick of all this bullshit.'

    Mickey, who’s been half-dozing all that time due to all the blood loss, snapped his eyes fully open and sat up, his mind suddenly clear. It was so obvious now...

    'All that time we were focusing on the high ground and we completely forgot about what’s right under our feet...'

    Shizuko looked around at all of them, hoping that someone would give her an answer.

    'Did Nate ever order anyone to check the sewers?'

    'I don't think so...' Diana answered gently, shaking her head.

    Dave approached the edge of the roof, looking down, trying to spot a visible lid. It wasn't an easy job because of all the walkers.

    'Well, I think I can see the sewer entrance out there. Too bad there's like a hundred walkers over it. No chance we get by undetected with bleeders... Who wants to volunteer?'

    Ramon stepped up without hesitation.

    'I'll go.'

    Which, frankly, surprised Dave.

    'Sudden change of heart, asshole?'

    Ramon just frowned, flexing his muscles.

    'Seeing as everyone wants me gone, I might as well deliver. Besides, you wimps wouldn't lift the cover anyway.' He gave Dave another one of his angered looks, then finished the sentence. '...dickhead. Come on, time's a wastin'.'

    Mickey took his wrist blade off and threw it to Ramon.

    'You'll need it more than I do.'

    Ramon caught Mickey's weapon in mid-air and placed it on his left arm, testing it. The blade sprung to life and seemed sturdy enough to hold a heavy object.

    'Get him ready to move, we're leaving this damn rooftop.' Ramon said, leaving through the rooftop hatch.

    'I can help! I know how to pull my own weight.' Clementine said, looking at Shizuko, who answered her with a smile.

    Ramon came to the ground level and looked outside at the street through the main door. The manhole was just a couple dozen feet away, but between him and the way out there were literally hundreds of walkers. He knew he was probably looking at his final destination, but he’d been ready for it for a while now. He leaned on the wall. Looked up and exhaled sharply.

    'God... I know we're not on speaking terms, but don't let it go to waste...'

    Others came down as well, grouping up next to the exit. Shizuko nodded, giving Ramon a nod of acceptance. He closed his eyes for a moment, made a couple of deeper breaths and reached for his machetes. The blades made a swishing sound when he pulled them out, to him it sounded like they hungered for blood, to be tested. The sound they made cutting through the air when twirled was a scream of insatiable lust that could only be appeased briefly with a sacrifice.

    'Get on with it!' came Dave’s voice, but Ramon’s only answer was a middle finger.

    He opened his eyes and looked outside again. He was ready.

    Sidewayz posted: »

    Chapter 4 - At the Gates of Tartarus. Corner of Oglethorpe Ave and Abercorn Street. A long and difficult night was coming to an end. T

  • edited July 2014

    As he started walking toward the cover, the dead immediately caught his scent, moaning... hissing... ENRAGING him further. They surrounded him, he let them. The first of the walkers that tried to reach out with its hand had it brutally severed. Ramon followed his slash by chopping off the head of that walker. And that was the moment when he let loose, slashing, chopping, cutting and hacking every walker in his sight. Loose limbs and sliced heads were pilling under his feet all the way to the sewer entrance. He managed to make just enough breathing room for Shizuko, Diana and Clementine to follow. Shizuko and Diana started firing their pistols, trying to secure the area further for Dave carrying Mickey.

    'Running low!' Diana screamed.

    Ramon dropped his weapons and stuck Mickey's wrist-blade into one of the holes in the manhole cover, using all of his strength to pick the hundred pound piece of metal. The wrist-blade proved to be too fragile and broke, causing the lid to fall on Ramon's other arm. He was trapped and the walkers were coming closer, one of them about to bite Ramon's exposed neck.

    'Behind you!' Clementine screamed, firing her pistol.

    Ramon saw the blood and fragments of rotten brain spurt from the walker’s head and he got so adrenaline pumped that he lifted the cover and then slammed its edge into another walker, crushing its head like a watermelon. He picked it up again and slammed it flat down on the same walker, stepping on it for good measure and crushing its rotten body into a disgusting mess.

    'GO!!! NOW!!!' Ramon screamed, grabbing two throwing knives with one hand. He swung his arm back, slamming a knife into the eye socket of another restless, then throwing the other knife with a return motion, depositing it right in the side of the neck of a lurker that was about to reach Dave and Mickey, who were almost at the manhole.

    The football player dropped the crippled Brit at the edge and Mickey quickly dropped down the opening, grabbing onto the ladder. It was slippery and he lost his footing, falling right on the recently treated stump. He started screaming from the paralyzing pain. Clementine followed and was the second person to come down, crouching by and trying to comfort Mickey somehow.

    'Dry!' Diana screamed.

    'Go!' Dave answered and started firing at the undead.

    Diana jumped in and landed next to Clementine.

    'I'm out!' Shizuko screamed and did the same, leaving David and Ramon topside.

    Ramon quickly glanced at Dave, who was firing the last of his ammunition at the walkers.

    'Fucking go, asshole!' Dave yelled.

    Ramon was surprised, but complied quickly, jumping inside. He landed on his legs, spraining his ankle. The sudden loss of balance made him use his wounded right hand to support himself. He felt the stitches snapping open and noticed his arm bleeding, soaking the bandages red. He clenched his teeth, for there was too much pain for him to control. Dave was the last one topside. There were too many walkers surrounding him and his pistol was now empty, so he blindly jumped inside the dark opening, landing right next to Ramon, who was still crouching on the ground. Dave exhaled and opened his eyes, then looking up. Some walkers were still trying to follow them and one of them was reaching inside the manhole. Dave grabbed Ramon and pulled him aside as hard as he could. Ramon quickly stood up with his left arm raised and fist clenched, ready to punch Dave, but then the greedy walker fell inside, crushing its head against sewer bottom, nearly in the exact same spot where Ramon was crouching just a second ago. Ramon looked at the more dead than usual biter, then at Dave, loosening his grip and giving him a small nod.


    The group was now inside the dimly lit sewer system. They could clearly hear moaning and hissing from above. Diana kept looking at the sewer entrance while hugging Dave. Mickey was slumped against the wall, holding the stump of his leg and Shizuko was checking up on him. It wasn't looking good, the bone went straight through the dressing and the reopened wound started bleeding profusely. The whole stump was marred with the sewer sludge that Shizuko was trying to remove fruitlessly. It was the end for him and he knew it. Ramon picked his machetes up and holstered them slowly in an uncoordinated manner, he then grabbed his bleeding palm and was about to start massaging it, but then remembered that the blood on his other hand wasn’t his, so he instead flexed the wounded hand itself, gritting his teeth a bit. He looked at Clementine and stomped over to her, the steps echoing in the dark, scaring her a little.

    'You saved my life even though I wanted to claim yours. Why? WHY?!'

    Clementine didn't answer, she was visibly frightened by his aggressive demeanor. She just quietly moved back, trying to get out of his sight, which proved itself to be difficult in the narrow tunnel.

    'Leave her alone.' Shizuko said.

    Ramon only grunted and sneered, looked at Mickey then at Shizuko. She just slowly shook her head. He sat right next to Mickey, leaning his back against the wall. Diana and Dave approached him as well. They all sat in silence for a while.

    'I guess you'll get what you wanted...' Mickey started. 'It's not like in the movies… When I was unconscious, there was nothing... Just an empty void...' he said, staring blankly into space.

    'I know... But at least you'll be with the ones you love...' Diana said, trying to comfort the terrified Mickey.

    'I can feel it coming... I'm cold and tired... So, so tired… God... Please, DO SOMETHING! I don't want to DIE!'

    Shizuko embraced the weeping youngster and started stroking his head.

    'Shhh... I'm with you... Think of home, of all the good times with your friends and parents.'

    Diana noticed Clementine's expression sadden when Shizu mentioned the word parents. She came closer and took the girls hand, smiling at her, to which Clementine responded by glancing at Mickey and then looking back at Diana.

    'I know...' Diana answered.

    Mickey placed his head on Shizuko's shoulder and closed his eyes.

    'So tired... so sleepy... yeah... I'll just take a quick nap and it will be over... God, dying sucks, I’m filling… a… … complaint…'

    Shizuko cracked a painful smile and felt Mickey's body slumping. Diana hugged Dave, tears flowing down her cheeks. Mickey was the one who deserved to die the least, joining up with the Crawford community because he was afraid of being left alone during the apocalypse.

    'Let's get out of this hell hole.' Shizuko said, standing up.

    'Just go, so the kid won't see.' Ramon answered, looking at the sad medic.

    He watched the remaining survivors walk down the tunnel and then looked at Mickey's body. There was one last thing left to do, but he was too exhausted to use a knife. He just pulled his 45 long slide out and aimed it at the corpse’s head.

    'Adios amigo.'

    Even though Clementine covered her ears, she could hear the shot echoing across the sewers. They tried to save her the trouble of witnessing the scene, but she visualized it in her mind. She shut her eyes real tight for a longer while.

    'He didn't want to become a walker... Right?'

    Shizuko embraced Clementine, trying to cheer her up. She could sense that this little girl obviously went through a lot.

    'Yes, honey. You understand why it had to be done?'

    Clementine dropped her head and answered silently.

    'Yes... It happened before...'

    Ramon quickly joined the rest and the group was together again, moving through the sewer maze, seemingly aimless. Above them a heavy storm was hitting Savannah with all it had and the drains were full of all the rainwater coming down on them like the flood, filling the sewers with the gurgle of flowing water, masking the moaning of the walkers. They were tired, exhausted even, but they kept on walking, following the compass in Ramon's survival knife. Always going in the same direction, West. After endless loops of corridors and countless dead ends, they reached a pair of rusted metal doors, closed shut.

    'Okay, so, what now? Should we turn back and try our best on the surface?' Dave asked rhetorically.

    'There's a grate here, I could try getting to the other side to unlock the doors, I've done it before.' Clementine said eagerly, wanting to be helpful again.

    Dave reached for his hammer and swung it at the grating, breaking it. He then pulled the hunk of metal out and Clementine went in, the air duct clattering under her weigh. Suddenly, the noise stopped and they heard a short and quiet gasp. Shizuko crouched by the grate quickly.

    'Are you all right, sweetie? Please say something.'

    There was nothing but silence for a while, making Shizuko even more nervous. Then, they heard a crack and the doors opened. Clementine was standing on the other side of the doorway, with a finger on her lips.

    'There's a lot of them inside.'

    They slowly and carefully entered the inside of what seemed to be a pump room of some sort, spacious and with gangways, with a metal stairway leading to a floor below filled with generators or pumps and, of course, walkers, roaming the little space available down there. Seeing them, Ramon punched the wall in sheer frustration.

    'Why can't those fucking things FUCK OFF FOR A FUCKING MINUTE! FUCK!!!'

    'Say fuck a couple more times and they might just go away.' Shizuko said, sneering and raising her eyebrow.

    'Why do you swear so much?' Clementine followed Shizuko's statement.

    'I swear I will-[...]' Ramon clenched his fingers around an imaginary throat.

    Diana interrupted him, preventing him from finishing the sentence.

    'What is this place?' she asked.

    'More importantly, why are there so many walkers in here?' Dave interjected.

    Shizuko kept observing the moaning herd, scarcely believing what was in front of her. Everywhere they went there were countless walkers just waiting for their next meal. With the entire day spent on running from them, Mickey's death, overwhelming exhaustion, and now the responsibility of taking care of a little girl, she started losing hope of ever leaving Savannah alive.

    'They were just people trying to hide... Hoping to survive in the sewers...'

    'FUCK!' Ramon shouted, finishing the long mumbling monologue that stretched all the way back to his last sentence and that everyone joyfully ignored.

    Clementine looked at him and said firmly, although with a bit of fright, squeezing her hand around Shizuko's palm.


    Shizuko looked at Ramon as well, perking a brow.

    '… Really?'

    'Well it was worth a try...' he shrugged, then reaching for his machetes and starting for the staircase leading down, limping.

    Diana grabbed him by the shoulder, stopping him.

    'Listen, I might distrust you, but I don't want you to become a martyr. You've done enough. Let me handle this.' She said, patting him on the back.

    Ramon raised an eyebrow, not knowing how to answer her. Dave, on the other hand, knew quite well what he wanted to do, although when said it sounded a bit awkward.

    'Diana...' He hesitated for a moment. 'I won't let you go alone. I think... I think I love you.' Then came the brief silence. 'Dammit... Did I say it out loud?'

    'Nice timing...' Shizuko said, shaking her head.

    Diana just smiled and kissed Dave, then leaning over and standing on her toes so that her lips almost touched his ear.

    'I'm gonna make you my bitch.' She whispered, still smiling and smacking one of his butt cheeks, then biting her lower lip.

    Watching this, Ramon just burst out laughing. He always knew there was something unique about Diana.

    'Oh shit, man, you're in trouble now.'

    'Swear...' Came a quiet remark from the back.

    Diana took her bow out and began walking down a gangway leading to what seemed to be a control room. It provided an excellent view of the entire chamber. Fortunately, there were no walkers along the way and the door was opened. Diana moved slowly, her bow at the ready, making no sound whatsoever. Dave followed behind her closely, with his hammer firmly in his grasp. The dead below seemed not to mind the small group of survivors sneaking above, into the control room, closing the door behind them for safety. Inside, the control room was a mess, complete with a blood trail leading to double doors with panes of reinforced glass. Diana checked them, but those were locked from the inside. Aside from consoles with various gauges and buttons, there was nothing useful in terms of equipment. An empty table seemed out of place and drew Shizuko's attention, a pen laid on the floor next to the blood stain. That was where the bloody trail stopped. Or started?

    'Well, I bet there was something here. Would a map of the sewers be a long shot?'

    'You're the best sharpshooter of us all, might as well follow up on it.' Dave said smiling.

    Diana shook her head at the pun. At least he has other good sides, she thought, glancing briefly at his behind. She shook her head again, concentrating on what was important. She glanced to the windowed doors again.

    'Dave, can you help me with that window?'


    A couple hammer swings later the window was on the floor on the other side of the door. Both of them noticed the intense smell coming from the opening.

    'Rotting flesh?'

    'More like gas, Dave...'

    They climbed in through the window and ended up in a corridor. The blood trail continued further. Diana turned to Shizuko, who was still inside the control room.

    'Keep an eye on the walkers, okay? We'll be right back.'

    Following the crimson trail, they found a body in a jumpsuit, pistol in one hand and a rolled piece of paper in the other. This guy definitely punched his own ticket before he could turn, but his body had bite marks all over it, as if it’s been gnawed on. Dave grabbed the gun and checked it for ammo. The clip was full, but the intense stench of gas meant there would be no shooting inside the corridor. Diana picked the piece of paper up and read it. There was an inscription on it: "To whoever finds this message: if you're reading this, congratulations, you weren't stupid enough to trigger my trap. I rigged the doors to spark when opened and punctured one of the methane pipes. My little vengeance if the creepers in the pump room decide to burst through and feast on my sweet ass. I always said I'd sooner die than share my ass with a freak. Guess I really died. I cheated on my wife and I regret nothing. Now piss off and leave me to rot. Ps, don't open the doors."

    'At least he was honest about himself... Dave, I think we got it! That's the map of the sewer system! Have a look yourself.'

    Dave took the map rolling it again.

    'Great, let's go before...'

    Just before Dave could finish the sentence, a hiss came from the deep end of the corridor. A walker took notice of them and started closing in, raising its arms in hope of another meal. Diana took careful aim with her bow and fired an arrow, hitting the walking corpse smack dab in the center of the forehead. The dead body twitched a bit and started tipping over, one of its hands hooking onto an electric cable. The next thing Diana heard was the gentle sound of an electrical spark. She only managed to mutter a short phrase.

    'Oh no...'

    Ramon stood near the doors leading to the gas-filled corridor, watching Shizuko bond with the girl they met on the roof, talking about this and that. Feelings, bah! There will be nothing left of Shizuko's recently developed mental strength and resistance when she finally sees that little girl torn apart by walkers. And if she became so willing to pull the trigger, maybe she'll just turn her gun on herself. One less problem to deal with, only to create another problem popping right in its place.

    The explosion shook the ground. Ramon looked in through the bashed in window, but, instead of the corridor, he saw a ball of flame coming his way.

    'GET DOWN!'

    It was the only thing he managed to scream at the top of his lungs before he had to dodge. The fire blasted its way through, ripping the doors off their hinges, tossing them down on the floor. Moments later, when the fiery inferno seemed to have passed, he started picking himself up from the ground, coming to his senses. Without a second thought he ran through the now-empty doorway, down the corridor. Shizuko released Clementine from her tight embrace. She didn't appear to be hurt.

    'Are you okay, honey?'

    As Shizuko released her, Clementine covered her ears, making a wry face.

    'My ears hurt...'

    'It'll pass, don't worry.'

    Walkers below took notice of the explosion and some of them managed to find their way onto the stairway leading up to the gangway. Meanwhile, Ramon kept running down the corridor. Everything inside not made of concrete or steel was on fire. Seeing three bodies lying on the ground, he just grabbed his head.

    'Fuck, fuck, fuck, FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!'

    He kept on screaming and clutching his head, not knowing what to do for maybe the first time in his life. Diana's body was still burning, her head framed in flames, and next to it was Dave's half-charred corpse. Suddenly, Ramon heard coughing. Dave was still alive, he raised his hand, holding a burned piece of paper.

    'Take this... Map of the sewers.

    Ramon took the map and hid it in his pocket.

    'I’ll pull you out.'

    Ramon grabbed Dave's arms and pulled. The skin on the football player’s arms came off and his legs were stuck to the floor.

    'OH GOD, STOP!!!'

    Dave screamed, seeing his body falling apart. Ramon stopped pulling, knowing that it made no sense. There was no moving him, it was the end of the line for Dave. Ramon crouched by him and looked him in the eye.

    'I can stop the pain.'

    Dave turned his burned face to Ramon, looking at him.

    'You'd love to do me in, asshole.'

    'Not like this... Dickhead.' Ramon answered, shaking his head.

    Dave just lied flat on the ground, not feeling any pain.

    'Funny... I had these gloves on when I made a guy a cripple... Had them on when his buddies tried to teach me a lesson... Had them on when I hit you... And will have them on while spilling my own blood... The only thing they saved is that stupid map... Hand me that pistol over there, I’ll make sure she doesn't come back... Wherever she is, I'll follow...'

    Ramon picked the gun off the ground, it was warm, but not hot enough to burn his hand. He handed it to Dave, who pointed it at Diana's head and fired. Then, he aimed it at his own head with a trembling hand. He closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. Ramon just kept staring in silence. That was too much. Too many deaths in one long and shitty day. He came to his senses when he heard Clementine screaming in the distance. Then came the gunshots. He quickly grabbed the gun and Dave's bloody hammer, then started running back to the girls, ignoring his sprained ankle.

    Walkers made their way to the control room. Clementine emptied her pistol and Shizuko was out of bullets. In a desperate attempt to protect Clementine, Shizuko decided to fight the walkers bare handed. Seeing this, Ramon acted on impulse and threw her the pistol.

    'Shiz!' He screamed, throwing the gun.

  • edited July 2014

    Shizu caught it in mid air and aimed at the closest walkers, making some room for them to cross the gangway. Ramon kept throwing his knives furiously, killing four walkers with the remaining six knives he had. He then switched to the hammer, swinging it at the walkers and crushing thir skulls with ease. They made it through the gangway and down the stairs to the double winged metal doors, but there was still a large group of wailing lurkers in the pump room, and they were coming after them. Shizuko aimed her gun and pulled the trigger, but it was empty. She noticed one more thing. She got bit. She looked at the terrified Clementine standing near Ramon, who was furiously smashing the padlock chaining the door handles together. There was no time to waste.

    'It's opened! MOVE IT!' Ramon screamed, opening the doors with a kick. The corridor behind them was empty.

    'Ramon, give me the hammer!' Shizuko called. Ramon passed the weapon to her. 'Now go!' She screamed.

    Ramon nodded and started going, Clementine did the same. A moment later, she stopped and turned around, knowing that something wasn't right. Shizuko was still standing on the other side of the doorway, inside the control room, her hand raised, a bite visible near the wrist.

    'Goodbye, Clem.'

    Clementine froze in shock, staring at her as Shizuko dropped her hand down and grabbed the doors by the handles. Ramon stopped running and turned around, dumbstruck at what he saw.

    'What the-?!'

    Shizuko raised her head, frowning when she did it.

    'Keep that girl safe!'

    She then pulled back with all she had and slammed the double doors shut, then promptly sticking hammer’s handle behind the handles, blocking the wings. She then turned around and saw the horde slowly approaching. Moaning. Hungry... "At least Clem's safe. She will be safe. He will protect her. He has to..." She thought, raising her head and closing her eyes.

    Ramon ran towards the door and started banging at them furiously, pulling at the handles.

    'NOT FOR ME!'

    Clementine stayed behind, still too shocked to move. Shizuko didn't answer. Ramon knew she wouldn't open the door. When he heard her screams, he knew it was already over. The doors clattered, walkers were tearing her body to shreds. Despite being stuck on the other side, Ramon saw Shizuko being torn apart by the walkers in his imagination, very well acquainted with the kinds of images by now. He hoped hard that she’d lose her consciousness when the pain became too much to bear. He made a couple of steps backwards, looking at the door and shaking his head.

    'Not for me!!!'

    He then realized something, slowly turning his head to Clementine, who looked back at him.

    'Not for me...'

    Sidewayz posted: »

    As he started walking toward the cover, the dead immediately caught his scent, moaning... hissing... ENRAGING him further. They surrounded h

  • edited July 2014

    Chapter 5 - The ascension


    The sewers were dark, cold, uncomfortably damp, and uninvitingly smelling of decay, unwelcoming from the very beginning, tearing away whatever they could from him. Just as if they were laughing at his misery around every corner. Ramon was still standing and looking at the rusted metal door, walkers banging on the other side, enjoying the remnants of their last meal, nearly choking on it. Why did she dump all that guilt and responsibility on him? Trying to ensure the safety of a little girl by sacrificing all she had left – her life. She saved Clementine and wanted him to protect her, but for him she was just a huge liability, and he didn’t have a penchant for martyrdom like Shizuko. Ramon kept looking at that little girl, she was terrified and tears filled her eyes. No, he won't be the one making critical choices here. He warned Shizuko that this would happen, she refused to listen. He looked at Clementine again, then turned away from the doors and started walking down the sewer corridor.

    'Where are you going?' He could hear an insecure voice coming from behind him. 'Wait!'

    Ramon just kept walking, keeping his healthy arm on the left thigh, helping the hurting leg move, his sprained ankle taking a turn for the worse. As he was unrolling the map of the sewer system, trying to find some safe place where he could improve his condition, or at least rest a bit, he kept hearing quiet little footsteps behind him. He quickly found out his current position on the map and that there was a maintenance room of some sort not far from where he was now. A necessary stop, he thought. He felt exhaustion creeping up on him, trying to lure him into obedience, inattention, into sleep. There was no room for that now. How long it had been, ten hours since his last nap? Fourteen? More? Not that you just could call couple hours of a lousy night's rest a deserved break. Being tied up and unconscious wasn't exactly considered a time of relaxation by anyone. Well, by most, including him. And so many hours of physical strain, controlling his pain and bleeding started to take their toll.

    'Please, wait!' That annoying kiddy voice again...

    Ramon just kept walking, finally not hearing any footsteps behind him. They were replaced by a raised voice:

    'Stop treating me like I'm not here! I can pull my own weight!'

    He folded the map and stopped, first slowly turning his head, then following with his torso. Finally, after turning his whole body towards her, he slowly approached, looking straight into her eyes, frowning, his teeth clenched, muscles tensed, eyes narrowed. Clementine made a couple of steps backwards, opening her eyes wider, unsure what he was about to do. Ramon kneeled right in front of her, maintaining eye contact at all times.

    'Do you fear me?' He asked in a calm voice, narrowing one of his eyes even more.

    'What?' Clementine remembered the way Larry used to talk to Lee... This time it was her being in Lee's spot.

    'I want an honest answer, I WILL know if you're lying. Now, do YOU... FEAR... me?' Ramon repeated, accenting each word with a pause, his gaze fixed on her eyes.

    Clementine made another step backwards.

    'A little...' She said in a trembling voice, to which he reacted by moving closer, his stare almost piercing her very soul.

    She stopped moving back and tightened her fists, raising her head and frowning a little.

    'I do.' Clementine answered in a firmer voice.

    'Good.' He said, standing up. 'It's the people you have to be afraid of, not THEM. Come on.' he said, waving at her to follow.

    Clementine stood motionlessly for a moment, stupefied. Then she followed him, no longer behind him, but walking right beside him.

    'Why did you do that?' She asked, still uncertain, a hint of anger audible in her voice.

    'I needed to know if you would panic. Walkers are nothing if you know how to behave around them.'

    'You could have asked... I know, we're smarter than all of them...' Her expression saddened.

    'You never know how you'll act in a situation until it actually happens. As for the walkers, they do not plot and can be avoided. It's the people that can harm you, when you fall for their lies.'

    'I know...'

    Clementine just walked with him in silence, watching. He seemed displeased with the company and knowing he was from Crawford didn't make it any more comforting. She knew they were bad people, he did throw a knife at her, barely missing. A normal person her age would probably be scared, gasping and running away, but all she felt was sadness and overwhelming loneliness. She still couldn't believe that she would never see her parents again and that all her friends were gone...

    'You have to admit the world's cruel sense of humor, kid, you had the worst luck, getting stuck with me of all the people in the world...'

    Clementine noticed he didn't even try to be friendly, he wasn't like the others she met up till this point. Kenny seemed to get angry from time to time, especially around Lilly, but Ramon was just scarier, especially with the cuts on the side of his face, he seemed like a monster in human form. Why was he mean all the time... If he was to hurt her, he wouldn't just ignore her like he did... Even if, she didn't care, everything was better than being alone with thousands of walkers outside. Just to hear a human voice. Not the constant hissing and moaning. Someone to talk to...

    'Listen, kid, I know you've probably been through a lot, but you HAVE to understand, I'm at war with the world and everyone in it, and if you stay around me, you're gonna get hurt.'

    Ramon stopped near a metal door, taking another look at the map, then wiping some dirt off its surface, uncovering a "Maintenance Room" plate. He grabbed the knob, but they were locked.

    'Of course...' He muttered to himself and looked up. There was a window above the doors, made of reinforced glass. He looked at Clementine.

    'I won't reach it by myself. I'm gonna give you a boost, check if you can open them.'

    Ramon picked Clementine up without waiting for her to give any kind of an answer, placing her on his shoulders. She pushed at the window with all her strength. After two attempts, the window finally budged.

    'Get inside and see if you can open it.' He ordered her.

    She just looked at him for a moment. He definitely didn't seem like a nice person, she thought when climbing through the window. There was no one inside the room and the doors could be easily opened. Clementine unlocked the door and let Ramon inside. As soon as he stepped inside, he reached for his 45 long slide, flipping the safety off.

    'Now stand back, kid. I'll make sure it's safe in here.'

    Ramon only had a couple of bullets left, and if there was trouble waiting for him, he didn't know if he could keep the gun steady enough. He struggled to lift a little girl a moment ago and he surely was in no shape to take down any walkers hand to hand. As he entered the room, he took a deeper breath and sharply exhaled. It was a mess, but also a dream come true; a small room with a bed, couple of lockers, and it seemed that it had a restroom too. The place was dirty and smelled of mustiness, but he didn't care. It had a bed, power and a lockable metal door. He slowly moved inside, listening to the sound of flowing water, probably coming from the storm still rolling above the ground. Inside the restroom there were showers and a sink. Under one of the showers there was a rotten body with a hole in its head. It had to be dragged out, he thought to himself, then looked outside, at Clementine.

    'Turn around.'

    'I...-' She tried to speak, letting him know this wasn't the first time she had seen a dead body.

    'Turn AROUND kid.' He repeated in a firmer voice.

    'Stop calling me a kid, I have a name, I'm Cle-' She said, angered a bit, but he didn't let her finish that sentence. Again...

    'Don't bother with the names, we won't be together long enough for me to care or remember.'

    Dragging the body felt like pulling an endless steel rope for all eternity, draining him of the little life essence he had remaining. He was exhausted and barely in any condition to do anything anymore. When he was done, Clementine sat down on a chair near a small table in the middle of the room, and when she did, Ramon closed the doors, securing them with the lock.

    'Hope there's water in here. Can't wait to get this gross stuff off my clothes.' Clementine said, looking at her gut-covered dress with disgust.
    'Don't! We're not out of the city yet. I can protect myself, if the worst thing happens, the restless will hopefully ignore you.'

    'I can take care of myself...' she said, turning her head away and looking at nothing.

    'Oh, I bet.' He answered mockingly.

    Ramon barricaded the door with the other chair. The room was secured for the time being. His backpack was heavy, he unbuckled it and let it hit the floor. The machete holsters were constraining his movements, he slowly took them off, metal clanging against metal when they hit the floor. Ramon leaned on the wall and closed his eyes, slowly sinking to the floor.

    'Safe... Finally safe...' He muttered to himself, finally letting exhaustion overcome him.

    He didn't know what or when happened, the next thing he felt was laying on a bed, covered with a blanket. The mattress seemed damp, but the blanket was somewhat warm. As he opened his eyes, his mind slowly startled assembling the surroundings from whatever his vision provided. He then realized he couldn't remember falling asleep in it. He got up nervously, trying to come to his senses, noticing Clementine sitting on the chair, resting her arms and head on the table, eyes half-open. Seems she rummaged through every single locker, placing everything she found on the table, medical supplies and other things. He couldn't believe that this little girl managed to drag 180 pounds of muscle onto this rickety bed by herself. Guess she really could pull more than her own weight... She must've been exhausted by now...

    'You... did this?...' Ramon asked, sitting up on the bed.

    Hearing Ramon's voice, Clementine raised her head and rubbed her eyes. She remained silent, giving only a small nod for an answer.

    'How long was I out?' He asked anxiously.

    'Couple of hours... maybe.' She answered, half asleep. She looked exhausted and sleepy.

    'How did you drag me here?!' His face showed astonishment.

    'I did this before... I was afraid that you wouldn't wake up...'

    'Get up, you're not gonna sit there all night.' He said, getting up.

    'No! You cannot tell me what to do!' She said, frowning.

    'Yes, I can. No discussions. When someone looks like death, he or SHE needs a rest. Hell, when was the last time you ate something, kid?'

    Clementine just shrugged, to which Ramon shook his head in disbelief, rubbing his head. She was in a bad shape, both physically and mentally, yet for some odd reason she still displayed selfless kindness and politeness he received from nobody else. As he made the bed for her, he noticed the poor state of the bandage on his arm. Bloodstained, filthy, an open wound with ripped stitches underneath. It had to be taken care of and soon.

    'The mattress might be a bit damp, but if you lie on the blanket you won't feel it.'

    He said, approaching his backpack. There wasn't much left inside, aside of two cans, one being baked beans the other Dinki-Di genuine meat. He pulled one of them out and reached for his bowie knife, opening it swiftly and placing it right in front of Clementine.

    'Supper of champions. Just a can of beans, but it's better than nothing, I suppose.'

    Clem didn't know what to make of this, but at least he stopped ignoring her.

    'Thank you.' She said and started eating.

    'Don't. If you want to follow me, you'll need to be in shape and that means you ARE going to sleep. Like I said, no discussions there.'

    Ramon checked for bandages, peroxide, needle and sutures among the supplies gathered inside, then grabbed his bowie knife again. He wiped the knife against the bandage and, with a swift and firm cut, he tore it off while heading toward the sink in the restroom, dropping the bloody dressing on the floor. After cleaning his forearm with tap water, he looked at the wound. It wasn't bad, but the stitches were loose and every movement was reopening the wound. He came back to the table and sat on the chair, grabbed the needle and threaded it, making it seem easy and effortless.

    'You may want to look away.' He said, placing his right arm on the table.

    Clementine stopped eating for a moment and looked at Ramon's arm. It grossed her out a bit.

    'I cut my finger once and it hurt, but those look a lot scarier. Are you okay?'

    Ramon grabbed the bottle of peroxide, pouring its contents on the outer side of his palm, wrist and forearm, foam sizzling ferociously.

    'I have a sprained ankle, sweat keeps getting into the wound on my temple, my arm is cut to shit-'

    'Swear.' Clementine said, interrupting him.

    Ramon gave her an askance look and then fixed his eyes on the task at hand again.

    '...and I feel as if I had a huge hangover.'

    'What's a hangover?' She asked, raising an eyebrow, still eating.

    Ramon shook his head a couple of times in silence, then took a deeper breath as he reached for the threaded needle.

    'If you drink too much of-' He looked up, realizing that he was still talking to a nine year old girl after all. 'A headache. Other than that, I'm fine.'

    Clementine kept watching as Ramon started piercing his skin time and time again, stitching the nasty cuts, frowning and clenching his teeth as he did it, but making no sound. She was still hungry at, but she seemed to lose her appetite a bit.

    'That looks painful.' She noted while clenching her teeth and squinting.

    He pulled the needle out, with the bloody suture following suit.

    'You can learn to control the pain. Takes practice, but after some time you can just learn to ignore it. Still hurts like a... Better hope you won't have to stitch yourself anytime soon. It sucks.' he said, nodding.

    'Is that why you're so mad all the time?'

    Ramon sighed as he continued stitching himself.

    'I'm not mad, I'm just... angry...'

    Clementine looked away for a second, then shrugged, failing to find a reason for it. Even after a fight with her mom she couldn't feel anger all the time, Kenny wasn't angry at Lilly all the time, even Larry seemed to ease off from time to time.

    'Why?' Clementine asked.

    'Doesn't matter. It's time for you to get some rest anyway.' He said, finishing the last stitch.

    'But I'm not...'

    'No discussions.' He cut her off, biting the suture loose and tying a nice knot.

    Her expression darkened, interest replaced with sadness.

    'Every time I close my eyes, I can see my parents... They're gone... It's so horrible... And then my friends...'

    Ramon looked at her and froze with his mouth partially opened. He had no idea what to do or say, he never really interacted with kids her age, and he preferred not to think about what he had done in Crawford. He double checked the tied sutures and, as he was about to reach for the bandages, spoke, fixing his sight on his forearm.

    'I know the feeling.'

    Clementine sensed a lie. From what she'd seen, he wasn't friendly towards anyone.

    'You're lying... You didn't even like the people around you and you don't want me being here...'

    Ramon exhaled sharply and grabbed the bandages. Not like she said something wrong, quite the contrary, it was very to the point. But she was wrong about one thing. It wasn't a lie.

    'Listen, I have no reason to hurt you, or scare you. But you must understand, I'm not like your friends. I did things, bad things, and I'm not sorry, I would do them again if I had to. If your people were here, they'd probably tell you to stay away from me.' He said, finishing bandaging his arm.

    'Lee would want me to be safe... Does that mean you hate everyone?'

    'I trust no one.' He answered, piercing her with his gaze.

    Clementine moved away from the table and laid down on the bed, placing her head on her hands. He was right, he wasn't like the others and he didn't seem to be the kind of a person who enjoys being around others. He did set off her alarm bells and she thought she should be careful around him.

    'Not even your parents?'

    Ramon took a deeper breath, gathering his thoughts.

    'I... I can't remember my mom, hated my father so much me and my younger brother Hector decided to run away from home together... We had no money, we were stealing to survive. One time we stole from the wrong people, but they gave us a chance. We gained a family. There were five of us at first. Me, Raul, Lombardo, Nestor and Rinaldo. "The five amigos". I tried my best to provide for my brother, trying to make him a better person than me. But he was all too eager to follow my footsteps. We became somebody, and soon, inseparable. Then came the heat, amigos started dying one by one. It felt horrible... At first... Then we got used to it... The last time we were on a job together, we ended up at gunpoint... People were shooting at us, I covered Hector in an attempt to save him. Then my back was on fire. Five shots. One bullet went through. One. I found out later it shattered Hector's spleen. I saw him dying in my arms right before I lost consciousness. He looked so scared... All I have left of him is that fucking ball cap. And...'

    Realizing he just swore, he sighed and waited for Clementine to point it out, but there was silence. He looked at her and there she was. Snoozing.

    'At least the story of my life was good for something...' He said to himself with a jaded smirk, crossing his arms and making himself comfortable in the chair.

    By the time he finished talking, she was long asleep, he didn't even notice when. She really had to be exhausted, just didn't show it. Then he realized something. He had no right to criticize her, or treat her like worthless luggage and a liability no more... The world already made him bitter, hateful and prone to violence, not caring about others, took away almost everything he had, his childhood, the brother he loved, friends, multiple homes, all feelings except for anger... Right now he felt so dead inside that he was surprised he didn't turn into a walker. But he wouldn't be here if not for the people that gave him a chance all those years ago, he'd have starved to death on the street before the apocalypse even began. Loneliness was HIS OWN choice, a decision he made not to suffer after losing someone he cared for again. That little girl, on the other hand, probably wasn't given any choice at all. What's worse, she was a human being, still capable of feeling. She felt empathy, compassion, however misguided, and overwhelming sadness. And she was about to face something ten times worse than his past, while still being a kid, alone. She was at the same point he was long ago, the only difference being that she was so much younger and the world around her was so much more brutal and unforgiving. With all that emotional baggage inside her, she was bound to be either broken, or forged anew. But she seemed tough, had a fire in her eyes. She deserved a chance. She would get one.

    Thinking about all of that, Ramon couldn't help but cover her with his vest to keep her warm in this accursed sewer. He instantly remembered the times he was comforting his brother after yet another beating. He missed Hector so much... Thinking of him tears started appearing in the corner of his eyes, one even rolling down his cheek. He didn't notice that Clementine wasn't as asleep as she seemed to appear. She raised her head, noticing his the tears.

    'Are you crying?' She asked in a quiet voice.

  • edited July 2014

    Ramon quickly shook his head a couple of times, coming back to his senses, noticing that Clementine was actually talking to him.

    'No, I just... had my eyes in a wet place.' He denied, quickly wiping his cheek. 'Try to get some rest.' He said, gently stroking her head, then moved the chair next to the bed, sat on it and crossed his arms. He sat on it as comfortably as he could, sliding the peak of his cap over his eyes, then crossing his arms and relaxing, soon napping as well.

    Clementine had no idea how much time had passed when she woke up, she kept her eyes shut, not wanting to get up just yet. She was rested, yet still sleepy, feeling warm and comfortable, the gentle warmth of the light falling on her face caressed her as if encouraging her to stay in bed some more, like during a lazy Sunday morning. She wasn't thinking about anything in particular, she didn't want to, focusing on capturing the moment instead. It felt good, so good she could feel a smile creeping up unwillingly on her face, making it easy to forget about everything.

    'I can't believe you're still asleep.' She heard, still half conscious.

    'I don't want to get up yet...' She answered, coming back to her senses.

    'Get up, sleepyhead!' The voice kept pressing her to wake up, it was followed by the noise of window shutters being lifted.

    Realizing it wasn't Ramon's voice, a shiver came down her spine. She opened her eyes, sitting up instantly, the bright light blinding her for a moment. It was too intense for Clementine to recognize her surroundings at first. The whole situation felt like being a goldfish freshly released into a brand new and sparklingly clean aquarium. She looked around, fully regaining her consciousness. She knew this place... And she knew the person talking to her.

    'M... Mom?...' She asked in a trembling voice, seeing her mother standing right next to the window in her room.

    'Yes?' Diane said, turning toward her.

    'Mom!' Clementine shouted, throwing herself out of her own bed. 'I had the worst nightmare ever!'

    Clementine ran towards her mother and threw herself into her arms, wrapping them tightly around her.

    'Don't worry, Clem, it's over now, it was nothing but a bad dream.' Diane said, caressing Clementine's long and curly hair.

    'You were gone and I came looking for you with a friend of mine... Had to cut my hair and looked like a boy... And then I found out... It was so horrible...' Saying it only made Clem squeeze her mother tighter.

    Her mom’s face showed concern as she crouched next to her, still holding her hand on Clementine's head.

    'Maybe you should ease off with those elaborate make-believe stories, hmm? Who knows, maybe you'll be the next Alice Walker some day... Anyway it's over now, you're home.' She said, fondly kissing her forehead.

    'But it felt so real...' She answered, wondering, looking into space. 'Does that mean my friend, Lee, was a dream too?' she said raising her head.

    'I'm afraid so...' Diane nodded, smiling, then the smile disappeared from her face. 'Clementine...' She took a deeper breath. 'I know it's not a good time, but I have some really bad news for you...'

    'Oh no...' Clem immediately looked into her mom's eyes with terror, palms clenched, her own eyes squinted in expectation of the unimaginable sorrow to follow.

    Her mom took a deeper breath, as if building up the courage to prepare Clementine for the worst.

    'Your hamster died...' Diane said, looking at Clementine.

    'What?' Clementine shook her head in surprise. After waking up from her horribly awful dream, she was expecting to hear something way more horrific.

    'I know it's hard on you, sweetie... She got out of the cage and went for the cookies when no one was looking... Dad tried to save her and got bit...'

    Clementine chuckled unwittingly, then fixed her eyes on the floor, embarrassed. Diane frowned lightly, Clementine was sure she that felt a bit awkward seeing her daughter acting like that.

    'Anyway, we're going to the hospital, it seems he'll need some stitches and we need to make sure the wound isn't infected.'

    Clementine's eyes opened widely when she heard the word "infected". She looked at her mom leaving her room and almost ran after her, grabbing her hand and pulling her towards the middle of the room.

    'Don't!' She demanded, forcing her mom inside.

    Diane just looked at her daughter, then at the door, and at her daughter again.

    'Honey...' She said with a sigh.

    Clementine felt she had to stop her mom from leaving by any means necessary. Especially after hearing about the bite. That could only mean trouble.

    'No, no, no, you don't understand, the only way to stop the infection from spreading is to cut the arm off! It's the only way!' Clementine said it in the most reasonable way she could.

    Diane just stared at her daughter, clearly frightened by her suggestion, probably seeing in her eyes that she was certain about it.

    'Clementine, please, stop this nonsense this instant. You don't amputate people's arms just because of a tiny bite. I know, I'm a doctor, sweetie...'

    'Please, don't go!' Clementine said in a calm and diminishing voice, letting her mom free and fixing her sight on the floor with a heavy sigh.

    'I'm afraid something bad will happen to you...' she added, raising her head and looking at her mom.

    Various feeling clashed on Diane’s face as she looked at her daughter being so sad. She came closer and hugged Clementine again, as if trying to transfer all of her positive energy to her. Everything to cheer up her little treasure.

    'Aww... Don't worry...' She said, kissing her head again. 'It will only be a couple of hours, besides, you won't be alone...' She added, looking at Clem's face, who was still saddened about them leaving. 'Okay, I promise, we'll be careful.' She smiled, looking at Clementine and stroking her cheek. 'You know I love you...'

    Clementine smiled for a moment, but, as soon as Diane stood up and approached the door, the smile faded. When the door closed behind her mother, Clem just fell to her knees in the middle of the room, staying motionless for a while, looking at the floor with unseeing eyes. After hearing the main door close, Clementine rushed downstairs. When she reached the window near the TV, her parents already closed the car doors. The engine started and she could see the car driving away.

    'They won't come back. Ever.' The eerie voice was calm, yet unnerving.

    Upon hearing the sudden yet familiar voice coming from behind her, Clem spun around instantly. She saw a girl standing in the middle of the room, right next to the table with fake fruits. The girl's face was obscured by the peak of her hat.

    'How do you know?' Clementine asked, diffident, slowly closing in on the shadowy figure.

    But there was no answer, the person just stood there with her eyes fixed on the floor. Clementine approached her, stopping more or less five feet away. She could see that the girl was a bit older than her, skinny, sad... And then she noticed.

    'That's my hat you're wearing...' she said insecurely.

    'No...' The girl raised her head. 'It's mine.'

    Clementine just stared at her older self for a longer while, the surreality of the meeting clashing with her resisting mind. Her alter ego seemed more confident, experienced, with small scars on her right cheek, chin and down her neck, yet she seemed awfully sad. It terrified her at first, but why should she be afraid of herself, she thought. Right after that very thought her older self looked at her and spoke.

    'It's been so long... ' Her older self lowered her head again. 'It was my fault... All of it...'

    Clementine didn't understand what she meant.

    'He wasn't perfect, but he did his best...' The older one continued. 'I miss him so much...'

    Clementine finally built up enough courage to speak to herself.

    'If you're an older me, you already know the questions I want to ask you...'

    The older Clem just shook her head and then looked into her younger incarnation’s eyes, sadness clearly visible on her face.

    'But you already know that I cannot answer any of them...' The older Clem said and turned around, walking away.

    'Wait!' Clementine said, reaching out with her hand.

    But her alter ego ignored it and kept walking, vanishing as she approached the door. Clementine followed, walking through the door. She ended up in an empty garage, the door behind her gone. She looked around, but there was no other exit, apart from the garage doors. They seemed locked. Seeing no other way out, she pushed the wooden doors. It seemed that they weren't locked, just jammed. Clementine pushed at the doors, but it was of no use. She backed up and tackled the doors, opening them a crack. She tackled them again, again and again, finally forcing them open, running right into Lee and knocking him over. She was surprised to see him and a wide smile appeared on her face as she threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. He embraced her, holding her in his arms as tight as he could.

    'Clementine... What did I tell you about wandering off like that?'

    She closed her eyes, leaning her head against his chest. She started accepting the truth that she knew since she “woke up” but refused to recognize... It wasn’t real. Her mind still refused to fully accept that truth and her eyes filled with tears as she realized that she could wake up any moment.

    'Don't go...' she said quietly, snugging up to him even more.

    'It's okay, Clem... It's okay...' He said, trying to comfort her.

    'I love you…' she said, closing her eyes even tighter, tears flowing down her cheeks. 'Dad.'

    'I love you too, sweet pea' Lee answered, kissing her head and vanishing into thin air.

    Clementine hit the ground. When she pushed herself up, she opened her eyes again, waking up in cold sweat. She realized that she was sitting on a bed, back inside the dim, damp room smelling of waste, in blood-stained clothing reeking of walker insides. She tried to deny the reality, wanting to go back, but it wasn't about to happen. She was by herself again... Alone... Her eyes filled with tears as she hugged her knees. It was no use trying to go back... You can't hide in a dream, she thought to herself, laying back down and weeping silently as she closed her eyes, tears flowing down her cheeks, this time for real. Maybe she'll dream of them again, she thought, consoling herself.

    Clementine felt a hand on her shoulder, shaking her violently to wake her up. Her eyes snapped open and she saw Ramon with a finger on his lips, whispering.

    'Stay absolutely still and play dead. Don't even think about moving a muscle. Understood?' He said, swiftly grabbing her hat and taking it away.

    'Give it back!' She tried to shout and get up, but Ramon covered her mouth with his palm and forced her to lie down.

    As he moved his hand away, he quickly covered her head with his vest. Clementine heard some noises coming from outside, distant footsteps echoing from afar. Next came the rustling, the sound of a gun being placed on the ground inside the maintenance room, then the sound of the restroom door being moved, finally just the distant footsteps and indistinct speech. Whoever was out there was closing in and the conversation became audible.

    '... if I ever do that thing again. Jesus, it's like a maze in here.'

    'Would you just stop whining already? Everything is better than being up top now. With so many of us dead... Remember Steve? I'm actually glad he's gone. That's what you get for thinking with your small head, you know what I'm saying? '

    Her heart started thumping faster, she was scared and didn't know what was happening around her. All she could hear were the three male voices coming from outside.

    'Guys, look! It’s a maintenance room!'

    Then she heard the doorknob being turned as somebody was trying to open the door. When it stopped, she could hear her own heartbeat in her ears, the rhythmical thumping becoming faster and faster.

    'Fuck! Probably closed...'

    'You don't say, genius... Here, let me try.'

    She knew the most important thing was not to panic. If she moved, they would definitely hear her, the bed tended to squeak and rattle with every move she made earlier. Then she heard somebody slamming his body against the door. By the time the second slam echoed in the sewers, Clementine felt the effects of adrenaline overwhelming her body. Her breathing became shallow and irregular. She felt as if she was choking, and she was desperately trying to keep it under control. Then came the pain in the throat, making it almost impossible to stay still, but she did.

    'There's a window here, stop being useless and give me a leg up, will ya?'

    They were about to look inside. Clem's teeth were clenched and she was paralyzed with fear, making it a bit easier to play dead. Trouble was, now she couldn't breathe at all.

    'Aw sheeeeeiiiit...'

    'What? Spit it out.'

    She fought against her instincts again, her lungs demanded oxygen and they didn't like being refused the privilege, so they started burning in response. It felt like the worst nightmare coming true, only this time she desperately wanted to wake up, but couldn't.

    'Almost too sad to talk about it.'

    'Oh for fucks sake, just spit it out, Jake.'

    'There are two bodies in here. A kid and her dad, I think. Poor shmuck. The girl is bloody all over her, probably bitten, the asshole couldn't stand it, blew her brains out, covered her face, then did himself in grief.'

    She was at the end of her endurance, any time now she’d have HAD to gasp for air. The craving was stronger than anything else.

    'Man, screw the corpses, is there anything worth taking in there?' At this point her diaphragm decided to act against her will.

    Then came a loud thump. With people busting in or not, she HAD to inhale, gasping for every bit of air her lungs could process, slowly returning life into her. The person looking inside was definitely no longer looking through that little window. If he was, he'd have noticed her breathing by now.

    'Doesn't seem that way... All the lockers were opened and they looked empty. You still want to force the door open to make sure?'

    'Aww fuck it, let's go, guys.'

    When she heard the footsteps echoing off the sewer walls, she felt her breathing calming down, heart rate slowing. She moved the vest off her face and froze. It felt as if someone took an enormous weight off her chest. This experience left her physically tired. She heard Ramon standing up and approaching her, taking his vest back. There were no emotions on his face. No fear, no compassion, no smile. Just a shadow of a human, putting his vest back on.

    'Good job, kid.' He said, giving her hat back.

    She looked at him with a certain level of distrust, then fixed her eyes on his face while putting her cap back on.

    'You did well. Partners?' He held his right hand out to Clementine.

    'Partners?' She repeated with surprise in her voice.

    'Let's just say you earned my respect, kiddo. You deserve it, very few people do.' he answered, still holding his right hand in front of her.

    She looked at his hand for a moment, then right back at his face.

    'But if I shake your hand, it'll hurt you.'

    After hearing that Ramon just face palmed. Here he was, opening himself up to the kid after a certainly stressful for her situation, trying to bring her into his world, and all she was concerned about was his hurting arm. How did she even survive that long thinking more about others than herself... His right hand just dropped.

    'Just... Just grab your stuff and let's go.' he said, turning away.

    Not ten minutes later they were following the sewer map again. Their destination was Oglethorpe Avenue, or at least an exit in its proximity. They were trying to keep a low profile, for it was obvious that they were not the only people using the sewer system as a hideout. It was more than certain that everyone who tried to make it on the surface up to this point was seeking shelter underground, hoping not to meet someone more dangerous. It seemed that luck was finally on their side, the exit wasn't far away. Ramon didn't seem like a talker, still, Clementine just wanted to hear a friendly voice. Well, as friendly as it could be with him. She sure missed talking to Lee at this point. She looked at Ramon's face, still walking right beside him, underlining that she didn't follow him, she was just going with him.

    'So you don't trust anyone...' Clementine said, seemingly half to herself, wondering.

    'Yup.' He answered, nodding and scanning the corridors in front of him, keeping a steady pace.

    'Is that why you don't want to make new friends?' She asked, looking at him.

    He stopped and turned his attention to her.

    'Argh, why do you...' Ramon sighed, rubbing his forehead then placing his hands on his hips. 'I'm angry because every time I made friends, I...'

    He hesitated to finish the sentence. He looked at Clem for a moment, remembering all the people he knew, people who died one way or another, before and during the apocalypse. Remembering that each and every consecutive death changed him, making him more heartless, more aggressive towards new people, less susceptible to pain of losing someone, up to the point of making him indifferent to the suffering of others altogether. If this girl was to stay around him, she'd want to become more like him in the end, and he knew what that path did to Hector.

    'What about me? You said we were partners.' She said, as if reading his mind. Her voice brought him back to reality.

    'Look, just because I respect you, doesn't mean we're anywhere close...' he raised his arm, as if trying to push her away.

    'I don't understand...' She said, tilting her head a bit.

    Ramon turned around, took his ball cap off, rubbed his head and placed the hat back on, the way he always wore it, peak facing backwards, preparing himself to answer to her.

    'Let's make this clear.' He said, turning toward her 'I'm not your dad, brother or friend.'

    'We could be friends...' She said, shrugging.

    'No, I’m a total stranger. I don't even like you.' He answered, pointing at her with his palm.

    Clementine just narrowed her eyes, answering him bitterly.

    'Then why didn't you just leave me behind!'

    'Wasn't my decision to tag along with you, was it?'

    Clementine opened her eyes wide for a moment, then looked at the ground again, letting go of her anger. She couldn't do it, being angry didn't felt like her... What's worse, he was right, despite what she was trying to do, it was still her following him... Not anymore... She turned away from him without a word and started walking. Ramon stood in the corridor for a while, rubbed his head, looking around, waiting for her to stop, but she didn't. She just kept on marching. It would be easier to simply let her go, he thought, following his own instincts again. Not having to think about anything but himself... But he told himself she would get a chance. She deserved it. Yet, it was against his rules. He clenched his teeth and punched thin air out of sheer frustration.

    'Fuck it...' He whispered to himself. 'Wait!' He shouted, reaching out to Clementine with his hand.

    He ran up to her and grabbed her by the shoulder. Clementine just shook his hand off, not saying a word.

    'Come on, don't be like that.' Ramon said, dropping his hands. She didn't answer.

    Ramon out-marched her and stopped in front of her. She didn't even want to look at him. In Ramon's eyes she resembled a burned out candle that just got put out. He kneeled in front of her and calmly placed his hand on her shoulder.

  • edited July 2014

    'Listen... I know how you might feel right now... At least I'm trying to understand... I don't know what you've been through already, and I know for sure you probably hate me, but from now on you'll have to get used to making hard choices and living with the consequences. Like following me.'

    Clementine raised her head, sadness still showing on her face.

    'I just didn't want to be alone...'

    'I know...' He answered her.

    Ramon looked at her for a moment, trying to read her mind, but couldn't. She was a puzzle to him and his poor social skills didn't make talking to her any easier.

    'And I'm...' He sighed, looking around, anywhere but at her, seeming to have trouble finding the right words to use, then taking a deeper breath. 'Sorry... for throwing that knife at you... I didn't deserve any help from you.'

    Clem looked at Ramon again.

    'It was the right thing to do...' She told him, looking away.

    'Figures...' He said, lowering his head and looking away. He took a deeper breath and looked at her again. 'I don't want to make new friends, because by the time I know them, they are gone.' He said, shaking his head.

    'I was alone for three days in my tree house... I'm glad Lee found me...' Thinking of Lee saddened her even more, making her set her unseeing eyes at the ground.

    'I bet you are...' He told her with sincerity in his voice.

    They stood there in silence for a moment.

    'I'm Ramon.'


    'I knew.' He responded, giving a barely noticeable nod.

    'I know.' She answered, cracking a small smile.

    They shared a smile for a while, then Clementine raised her head again, her expression changing to growing fear. Ramon instantly knew something was wrong and turned around, only to be kicked in the face. The force of it threw him to the ground. He instantly picked himself up off the ground, grabbing one of his machetes, then noticing a woman pointing her Glock at him.

    'How very touching, RAMON.'

    He tightened the grip on his machete.

    'DON'T.' was the woman's answer.

    Her head was shaven, face dirty, clothing bloodstained, and she looked like she meant business. Another survivor, Ramon thought, probably as capable as he was, the difference being that he was a wounded guy, and she was a woman who obviously could take care of herself. He dropped the blade on the ground.

    'Hands up. Lose everything you have, CALMLY.'

    Clementine raised her hands while Ramon only tightened his fists, bones cracking as he did it.

    'Don't worry, Clem, I got this.' He said, frowning.

    The woman just chuckled, her grin instantly changing into a serious stare. She was in control and she showed it. Clementine froze in place next to Ramon, they were exposed and in a tight corridor, with nowhere for her to hide, knowing that if she'd run, the woman would fire her gun.

    'On the contrary. Your things, zipper face. On the ground, now!' The woman said, no uncertainty in her voice, she knew that she was in control.

    Ramon didn't move, looking at her askance. He knew that now they were at an uneasy balance, fighting for domination, marking their territory with gestures, looks and tones of their voices. Both Ramon and the female robber knew that any time now blood would be spilled. And she had the upper hand.

    'Ever played "The Miracle Mile"?' He started, thinking about how to decrease the distance, maybe grab her throat, crushing it in his grip.

    Her answer was immediate, she lowered her gun, aiming at his crippled leg.

    'Ever played "bust a kneecap "? Her aim was steady, her sight fixed to the point of not blinking for ridiculously long periods of time.

    'Better have it fully loaded, lead makes me lose my temper.' was his answer, followed by flashbacks of the unbearable pain of getting shot. But this time there would be no help, no prison hospital to escape from. And he could read in her eyes that Clementine would be her next target.

    'Tough guy, huh? Think you can do everything just because you have balls? Fine.' She answered, aiming her pistol at Clementine. 'I'll start with her. Oh, but I won't simply put a bullet in the brat's head. Remember El Mariachi?'

    Damn that little girl, Ramon though. Softening him up, making him go against his rules, showing bits of emotions. He knew pain, lived with it for so long he could embrace it in any form, but Clementine... He imagined what a bullet could do to such a small palm. He slowly raised his arms in a silent act of compliance.

    'Your backpack. SLOWLY.' The female robber said, looking down the sights.

    Ramon unbuckled his backpack and held it in front of him with a firm hand. When he opened his palm, it fell on the ground with a thump. But he had a chance, a slim hope, trouble was he didn't have any throwing knives left.

    'Now back up.'

    He did as she told him to. Slowly, letting her at the backpack. His bowie knife was still in his back holster. The woman kept closing, watching him warily, approaching the backpack. When she was close enough, she crouched and grabbed it. When she broke eye contact, Ramon instantly reached for the bowie knife in his back holster. He put his entire strength and accuracy into the throw, the heavy blade spun in the air and struck the woman's forearm just under the wrist, piercing it, making her drop her gun. She screamed, doing her best to avoid falling into shock. Ramon rushed at her, but she stood up, throwing an uppercut. He dodged it, trying to hit her head with a fist, but she evaded him, swinging a roundhouse punch in the process. The knife in her wrist slashed Ramon's back, cutting through the vest. He tried elbowing her when turning around, but she swayed away, making him miss again. Punching for the third time, his blow connected with her jaw, to which she answered with a slant kick to his hurting ankle. She moved like a ballerina, evading his attacks, hitting him whenever she could. She then threw a furious kick that hit Ramon's kidneys, agonizing pain flashing throughout his entire body. Enraging him. He grabbed her leg and slammed her entire body against the sewer wall ferociously. The woman was dazed by the attack, freezing for a moment. It was long enough for Ramon to grab the knife handle and twist it, knowing it would cause her severe pain, making the female robber fall to her knees. Ramon grabbed her by the throat and slammed her body against the wall, forcing her up on her feet again. He still saw fight in the woman’s eyes, his gaze narrowing, and slammed his fist into her gut, hard, knocking the wind out of her. Clementine stared at the fight from the sidelines, growing more and more scared. And not of the bandit.

    The woman slipped down a bit, gasping for air, but Ramon didn’t stop, slamming the knee of his wounded leg into her abdomen will full force, compressing her torso against the wall in the process. The robber started slumping down to the floor, barely aware of what was happening when he threw another punch at the side of her head, immediately raising his fist again for another punch when he heard Clementine screaming.


    Ramon's fist stopped mere inches from the woman's face. He slowly turned his face toward Clementine, breathing heavily. Seeing the look on Ramon's face terrified her even further. It was the face of a lion looking at someone between him and his prey.

    'She's a bad person, Clem' He looked back at the woman. 'If she didn’t have to care about ammo, we’d be dead already.'

    'If you do that, you're no better than her...' Clementine stated, making a sad face.

    He stood there for a moment, motionless, observing the woman he just incapacitated. She was tough, nearly got the best of him with his knife still in her arm. She didn't make a sound, didn't beg for her life, didn't scream from pain. All she was doing was clenching her teeth with her eyes narrowed into slits, involuntary tears flowing down her cheeks.

    'I'm taking your gun as a trophy.' Ramon said, still fuming with rage.

    He pulled his knife out of the woman’s arm, the only thing stopping him from twisting it again to teach her a lesson being Clementine’s gaze. He holstered it and reached for the 45 long slide. As he released her, the woman slipped to the floor, still not making a sound, only holding her bleeding arm. As Ramon and Clem were about to leave, Ramon stopped, throwing a bandage at her feet.

    'Wear it with pride. You lived.' He said, sounding as if he was unsatisfied.

    As he was walking away from there, he kept cursing Clementine in his thoughts. Damn her, he kept thinking over and over. Meeting her was certainly atonement for him being a part of the Spanish inquisition in his former life.

    Following the map, they finally reached the right sewer exit, and with Ramon opening it up, they were finally away from the underground nightmare.

    Manhole on the corner of Fahm Street and Oglethorpe Avenue

    The lid moved slowly at first, not wanting to leave its resting place. Then, it was raised a little more, just enough to get a glimpse of the surroundings from under it. It was definitely still morning. Maybe ten o'clock. Seeing nothing dangerous around, Ramon raised it some more, then moved it away and reached the surface. It was a beautiful day, sun shining, deep blue sky above, not a single cloud for miles, last night's rain having had washed everything away, making the city look clean and beautiful. As he placed his feet on the asphalt, he closed his eyes, breathing in the fresh air while raising his arms, smiling unwittingly and enjoying the moment.

    'Ahh... Enjoy the sweet smell of FREEDOM!!!' He jumped up, punching the air and then felt his ankle disapprove vehemently.

    He turned toward the manhole, expecting Clementine to be there already, but he heard her climbing up the ladder and reached inside the manhole.

    'You're gonna love the view, Clem.'

    Clementine grabbed his hand and Ramon swiftly pulled her out to the surface, proving himself to finally be in good enough shape to go on.

    'I just wish others have made it...' Clem said, dusting herself off.

    'I guess.' Ramon answered shrugging. 'Do you know if anyone you know is alive?'

    'Not sure...' Sadness creeping up on her face again.

    'Anyway... There's still a long road ahead of us. Going south is a waste of time, so if any of your friends is alive, they are probably moving north. The National Wildlife Refuge might actually be a good idea. Mickey just couldn't shut up about it; thing is we don't know how many more people thought the same way. And then there's the wildlife...'

    Ramon quickly reached inside his backpack and placed a cigar in his mouth, then opened the lighter swiftly and, after a distinctive click, started puffing his beloved vice. When the smoke reached Clementine, she started coughing.

    'Those things stink...' She said, waving her hand in front of her face, trying to disperse the smoke. Ramon looked at her, perking a brow.

    '… Then move aside…?' he suggested. Clementine looked back at him, nonplussed, folding her arms and staying in place. He sighed and stepped to the side, so that she was no longer in the trail of smoke moved by the sparse wind. 'If I'm to be eaten alive, I prefer to taste as foul as I possibly can. At least I'll go as a pain in the aaa-neck. Reloaded that gun yet?'

    'Yes.' She nodded firmly.

    'Let's go, then. Daylight's burning.'

    They were following Oglethorpe Avenue, enjoying the morning walk, the absence of danger... Finally talking to each other about the usual things, like normal people for a change, being grateful for the moment of peace, taking it in with every part of their beings. The only thing Clementine regretted was seeing Ramon limping more and more, but she knew there was nothing she could do about it now. When they reached the gas station, Ramon stopped in the middle of the road.

    'I think I need a moment... The bitch got my ankle good...'

    Clementine shook her head in disapproval.


    Ramon placed his palm on his head and rubbed it some.

    'I received a solid beating, cut me some slack for fuck's sake.'

    Clementine just shrugged.


    Ramon grunted in sheer frustration. Seeing two walkers approaching them, he grabbed his pistol and fired it at one of them, hitting its chest. The restless corpse kept going as if nothing had happened. He fired again, this time hitting the neck, tearing some of its flesh, exposing the spine. As he heard a third shot coming from behind, he saw the other deadite dying for good. Ramon turned his head at Clementine, who was still holding the pistol in front of her. She looked back at him.

    'You have to aim for the head.' She said, lowering her weapon and shrugging.

    Ramon just clenched his teeth as he stood up. He approached the undead he tried to kill and slammed it in the face with the grip of his gun, forcing the walker to fall down. He stomped on its chest as it was reaching up with its arms and aimed his gun at the head, pulling the trigger and blowing the rotten head apart, firing the last bullet. He was about to discard the pistol when he thought better and holstered it. As he walked by, Clementine took a breath in, wanting to say something but he just pointed at her without turning his head.

    'Don’t. Say. A. Word.' To which she just frowned for a moment.

    Ramon just kept marching, limping as he did it, doing his best to not mind it, just following the route and moving forward, his still unbroken will being the only thing that kept him going. Clementine was walking right beside him, not a victim, but an ally.
    Talmadge Memorial Bridge stood in the distance, a silent and vigilant witness to what happened to its neighboring city. Countless wrecked cars littered it, blocking the path of whoever wanted to cross it, reminding of the initial days, when people were desperately trying to run away and reach safety. Some of them never made it and were still locked inside their cars. Clementine never got that, why were there so many dead in the cars? As if they all gave up together. It kind of creeped her out.

    When Indian street was directly below them, they stopped for a while, watching Savannah in silence. It was filled to the brim with the restless, streets crowded with the dead roaming around, drowning them in the never ending moans. It felt overwhelming and devastating for Clementine.

    'So many people...' She said, looking in the distance.

    Ramon looked at her for a moment. For him it was just the way things were now. He was coming full circle again, moving on as yet another city fell, the only difference being that he had company this time. He felt sorry for the girl, it wasn't hard to notice her attachment to the place. Somewhere out there was something she held dear, probably a thing or a person, or even an entire group. He tried to imagine what she was going through right now, but just couldn't feel it inside him anymore. He approached her and stopped right beside.

    'Letting it go is never easy the first time around.'

    Clementine just kept staring at the cityscape.

    'I'm trying to think of something better... Something hopeful... But my parents are still there... Lee is still there... It all started with us trying to find a boat... I thought I could also find my parents... I wanted to find them so bad... I ran away and Lee died because of me...'

    Ramon thought for a while, reaching for his last cigar. He placed it in his mouth firmly, then lit it up with his lighter, closing it and playing with it for a moment.

    'You can't change the past. Only thing you can do is plan for the future. That's what I do. But there's one thing that cannot be taken away from you, ever.' He said, puffing his cigar, then looking at Clementine. She looked back at him, waiting for an answer.

    'It's whatever good is still left here.' He continued, slowly tapping his healthy temple with two fingers.

    'I still miss them...' She lowered her head, looking down at the street below.

    'You always will...'

    'I know...' she answered, turning her head away and starting down the bridge. 'Let's go... I will let it all out once we're safe...'

    Ramon watched as Clementine started marching down the bridge with her head lowered. He looked one last time at Savannah, saying his goodbyes. Pity... There was a great stash of fine cigars there. Ramon looked at his chromed lighter, then at Clementine and soon followed her. She just kept walking at first, paying no attention to him, sinking into her train of thoughts. Ramon quickly adjusted his pace to match hers. He flipped the lighter for the last time and handed it to her.

    'Here, something to brighten up your future, Clem.'

    Clementine shook her head, as if being brought back down to earth, then noticed the lighter and looked at Ramon, perking a brow.

    'Not sharing my lung cancer with you, it's mine alone.' He added with a jaded smirk.

    'Won't you miss it?' She asked, raising an eyebrow.

    Ramon just shrugged, cracking a half-smile.

    'Nah... Keep it.'

    'Thanks.' She said, hiding the lighter in her pocket.

    They kept marching, passing by the car wrecks. The silence on the once busy highway created an unnerving feeling. With Clementine pestering him all the time up till now, Ramon felt awkward when hearing nothing but the quiet whispers of the wind.

    'So, what are you gonna do now?' He asked, breaking the overwhelming silence.

    'I dunno...' Clementine answered, shrugging, then raising her head and looking at Ramon.

    'Out of the question.' He answered, shaking his head.

    'Why? Can't I come with you?' Clementine stated hopefully.

    Ramon sighed heavily.

    'Come on, Clem... You saw how I am... A day of good influence doesn't change the lifetime of bad...'

    'You could at least help me find my friends...' She said with remorse in her voice.

    Ramon thought about it for a while in silence, then took a deeper breath and exhaled sharply.

    'Fine... But then I'm off, gonna hide in the woods of Virginia maybe.'

    'I hate the woods... I like the beach, though...' She answered, sighing.

    Hearing that, Ramon couldn't help it and just smiled unwittingly.

    'Ahhh... you, ma'am, are a lady of a fine taste. The morning breeze, feeling the warm sunrays on my face... Training at dawn... God, I miss home...'

    'Me too...' She sighed. 'Wish we never boarded that train...'

    Hearing the word train, Ramon snapped to attention instantly, stopping in the middle of the road.

    'Did you say "train"?'

    Clementine stopped as well and looked at him, not paying attention to why he stopped.

    'Our RV was blocked by it, but we managed to get that train moving. That's how we got to Savannah.'

    Ramon started walking in circles, rubbing his head and trying to come to his senses again. He felt the rage building up inside him, overtaking him bit by bit. He could have been smoking his lungs out, enjoying the morning sunlight making patrols and working out, not having to scavenge for food for the next couple of months, if it wasn't for those assholes she was with. THEY were the reason the whole city got hit by a second giant herd of walkers. Thinking about it infuriated him so much his hands started shaking, he had to vent off and one of those small foreign hybrid cars seemed the appropriate substitute for bashing someone's skull in. Ramon stopped in front of the car and started slamming his fists into the hood.

    'God dammit, God dammit! GOD DAMMIT!!!' He marked every word with an intense blow to the hood, bending it more with each blow, making the thin metal beg for mercy.

    'What's wrong?' Clementine ran to him, hoping for him to answer, maybe together they'd be capable of solving his problem.

    'Motherfuckers! MOTHERFUCKERS!!!' He shouted, hammering the hood with both of his fists together.

    'Please, stop it! You're scaring me!' She shouted, reaching out to him.

    Sidewayz posted: »

    Ramon quickly shook his head a couple of times, coming back to his senses, noticing that Clementine was actually talking to him. 'No, I j

  • edited July 2014

    Ramon didn't listen and kept pummeling the hood, sculpting it into an abstract landscape. His words transformed into pure roars and screams.

    'CALM DOWN! PLEASE!!!' Clementine came closer, trying to pat him.

    He answered, still slamming the hood ferociously, as if underlining every word with an intense blow, hitting harder with each one.

    'It's NOT... YOUR... FAULT!!!' As sweat kept flowing down his body, he managed to calm himself down. He knew that a little girl was incapable of operating a locomotive on her own. But the people she was with...

    'If I'd ever get to talk to someone driving that thing, the conversation would be VERY THOROUGH. What happened to this city is THEIR FAULT!!! FUCK!!!'

    In the act of breaking up his relationship with the car, Ramon decided to kick it one last time. Just for good measure. When he did, something inside snapped and the car alarm sprung to life. Ramon just closed his eyes and took a deeper breath, then moving his lips as if to say "Fuck" one more time. That security system marked the beginning of trouble. The sound drew the attention of every walker in the area, making the restless dead get up, try to leave the cars they were in, or start walking from afar to the new source of sound, with two people being right in the middle of it. Ramon and Clementine stood back to back, watching the dead bodies pop up everywhere around them. Ramon was terrified of what he had done. Clementine grabbed his hand and started pulling him.

    'We have to go!'

    He stood there for a second, trying to comprehend what was happening. He then realized Clementine was trying to get him away from trouble. He grabbed the half smoked cigar and threw it to the ground, then turned to the girl.

    'GO, GO, GO, GO!' He shouted at her while waving his hand and starting to run, ignoring the intensifying pain in his ankle.

    They both started running, Ramon behind Clem, making sure he's not leaving her behind. They were two miles away from safety. Two miles of car wrecks, walkers and debris lying around. Ramon now imagined how Diana must have felt when she was dashing to the house the group was hiding in. The difference being they now had no way of getting off the street and there was more junk blocking their path. They kept running, ignoring the walkers reaching their hands to get them, ignoring the ones that kept walking long after they ran away from their grasp. When a walker stood in front, Clementine just avoided it, letting Ramon occasionally punch a walker in the head. It reminded him of the one time they were running away from a group of painted clowns with baseball bats through the Oleta River State Park, too bad that walkers had more than nine representatives. Ramon was impressed that Clementine was actually outrunning him most of the time, or maybe he really should quit smoking, for his lungs were on fire, but when they passed a road sign stating that Hutchinson Island Convention Center was still half a mile away, he saw her giving up from exhaustion, her running turning into walking and then to a stop. She was breathing heavily and managed to say between the gasps.

    'I... can't... run... anymore... Still... got...a gun.' Clementine said, raising her pistol.

    Ramon stopped, panting heavily as well, supporting himself on his knees. He looked back, there were a lot of dead behind, enough to form a large heard, which was heading in their direction. He tried to answer, but all he managed to spit out was a lung or two. After a healthy dose of coughing, he finally uttered.

    'Don't wheeze bother cough more of them sputter than bullets.' He finished the sentence with a spit.

    'Gross!' he heard in response.

    'It'll... draw... them... here... oh God... My lungs...'

    Ramon looked at the heard again and thought there was no time. The dead felt no fatigue or pain and they wouldn't stop till they got their next meal. He and Clementine had to keep on moving, and by God or everything unholy Ramon wasn't about to let his stupidity kill that irritating little girl. He unbuckled his backpack and grabbed Clementine without a word.

    'What are you-?!' She tried to shout as she was almost getting tossed over his shoulder like an oversized travelling bag.

    He looked at the herd behind them one last time and started running with Clementine on his shoulder. She had to feel awkward being so literally objectified, but desperate times called for desperate measures. Even though Ramon's mind was willing, his body was giving up. Dashing turning into trotting, trotting into walking and walking into a halt. When they passed the quarter mile marker, he finally gave up and threw Clementine off his shoulder, falling to his knees afterwards, panting intensely from exhaustion.

    'Please don't do that again...' She said calmly, still feeling a bit awkward.

    'No... worry... Done... with... piggyback... rides...' He answered, almost falling flat on his face while still breathing and coughing heavily.

    Clementine looked at the bridge still filled with walkers following them.

    'They seem far away enough, they are still coming, though.'

    Ramon tipped back and fell on his back, still gasping for air, trying to calm his breathing down while grabbing his insanely aching ankle.

    'They won't stop.' his panting started easing up slowly.

    Clementine looked at the herd once again. It didn't seem that the walkers were moving very fast, but, indeed, the entire herd just kept on walking down the bridge, worrying her a bit.

    'Well, this is where we part ways, I guess.'

    Hearing him behind her, Clementine looked at him instantly, with terror in her eyes. He was struggling to pick himself up off the ground.

    'What?' She asked, not believing what she just heard.

    Ramon approached her, limping, and stopped right beside her.

    'That herd will just keep moving, it has to be stopped or turned around.' He said, pointing at the far side of the bridge.

    She kept shaking her head in denial, sadness creeping onto her face.

    'We can just go, we can make it together!'

    Ramon kneeled next to her and looked her in the eyes.

    'Think about it, they were capable of following a train long gone. If we make a camp and they keep on moving, we'd wake up surrounded.. This HAS to be done. It's my mess, I'm fixing it. Not your fault. No guilt.' He said, pointing at her.

    'No, no, no, you can't! I don't want to be alone again...' She said, shaking her head some more, her shoulders slumping some as she looked down.

    He pulled her chin up with his healthy hand and rubbed her head, giving her a smile.

    'You'll find them, Clem... I know you will...'

    Her eyes started to fill up with tears as she was angered and sad at the same time. She knew there was no chance of him making it through the herd alive. She just threw her arms around his neck, squeezing him as tight as she could.

    'Please don't... Don't die for me...'

    Ramon was at a loss of words. He got so used to being a lone wolf that he almost forgot how it felt to have someone so close to him. He was grateful and hateful at the same time, not knowing how to react, so he just answered her with a reluctant hug. For the first time in God knows how long he wanted to stay around another person, but he knew that if he stayed, she'd either turn dead like all the people around him, or she follow his footsteps, becoming more like him. There were no lies in her, no duplicity, she didn't consider him an enemy or a necessary evil, even if she just didn't have anyone else to choose as company. He knew she deserved better, even if it meant sacrificing all what he gained in her eyes up to this point. He had to do it. That awakened the old familiar feeling of rage, slowly building up, embracing him, giving him strength. He closed his eyes for a moment, took a deeper breath and gently pushed Clementine off.

    'Who says I'm doing it for you?'

    Ramon's facial expression turned to anger, he let hate overwhelm him. He slowly stood up and pushed her away harshly, making her stumble back and eventually fall over.

    'RUUUN!' Ramon screamed as loud as his lungs allowed him to.

    He watched her as she lay on the road, raising her head and looking at him, almost crying now, shocked that he almost literally threw her away like that. He didn't wait for her to stand up, as he turned away from her, he knew it was the last time he saw that brave little girl. Ramon knew she wasn't like him, she wasn't a person enjoying empty loneliness, no, she was better. He hated himself for forcing her to face the emotional void he knew all too well, but it was for the best, he thought. She could take care of herself, and this would make her stronger in the end, hopefully fueling her will to survive.

    And as he kept looking at the horde, he knew he was staring at his final destination. He was ready to face it a long time ago. Finally, a warrior’s death. There were dozens of them coming and he had to stop every single one of them. He tightened his fists, cracking his knuckles, turned the cap as his brother used to wear it, with the peak facing forward, and ripped his shirt off, throwing it away. He then reached for his machetes, slowly and firmly tightening his palms around the handles, pulling the blades out swiftly, at the same time, making a quick downward slash, air whistling as he did it. He placed the tip of one of them on his chest and began to cut the skin till it started bleeding, leaving a long and deep cut across his upper chest. He was more than ready, and the dead will pay dearly for a chance to chew on a piece of him, he thought, rushing at them.

    Clementine lay on the road for a while, her eyes filling with tears again. She watched as Ramon turned away from her, turning his hat and reaching for his machetes. There was no point in persuading him, he made up his mind and wouldn’t listen to reason. When he cut himself and started running at the horde, screaming like mad, she knew that was it. Yet another person gone from her life, just like that... She quietly picked herself up, turned away and started walking down the bridge. She was really alone now... Absolutely no one to talk to... No one to take care of her... Console her... She started walking faster. They were all gone... Sandra... Even though she was her babysitter, she liked staying with her... Doug... Mark... Larry... Sure, she didn't exactly like Larry and he argued with Lee at times, but there was always someone to talk to around... Carley... Lilly... Duck... Even though she sometimes teased him by placing bugs on his pillow, she really missed playing with him... Katjaa... almost like her favorite aunt, who never came back from the woods... She kept walking faster, tears flowing down her cheeks by now. Then it was Chuck... Who went missing after defending her from the herd... Ben... Kenny... Omid... Christa... who weren't there when Lee came to her rescue... Finally Mom... Dad... and... Lee... ALL OF THEM WERE REALLY GONE!!! She just started running down the road, letting it all out, crying and sobbing. She kept running as fast as she could, not looking back. The only thing coming to her mind was why had it all happened? Why did she believe the stranger? Why did he lie to her? Then came the wishes, she wished for her parents to be alive, for Lee be able to go with her, for all the people in her group to be still alive. And, finally the doubts... Where would she go? How would she survive on her own? Should she stay alone or seek shelter within a group? It was too much to take at once... When she reached the end of the bridge, she stopped for a while, looking back at the herd of walkers. It seemed to stop moving. Ramon might have still been alive... Fighting... Or overwhelmed and dead... He might have been okay, might have been bitten... It was hopeless... She then looked at the green fields of the Wildlife Refuge in front of her.

    'It's okay...' She said to herself, wiping the tears of her cheeks, letting a few more quiet sobs out. 'Everything is going to be okay.' Clementine took a deeper breath and started walking forward. She would deal with things as they came. She could do it. She knew she could do it.

    The End

    Cold wind wakes me from my

    Sleep I've waited for this

    Something for which I relied

    Darkness takes me to my

    Dreams I've waited for this

    Something from which I can't hide

    I'll never see it til it's at my door

    Til it's at my door, it will be ignored

    I'll never see it til it's at my door

    Til it's at my door, it will be ignored

    Nothing seems to ease my

    Conscience seems to be

    Unconscious, all I have realised

    Sorrow seems to eat my

    Being, only leaves me

    Seeing all I have is gone

    I'll never see it til it's at my door

    Til it's at my door, it will be ignored

    I'll never see it til it's at my door

    Til it's at my door, it will be ignored

    "At My Door" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

    It was a quiet dusk over Savannah, a gentle and warm wind was blowing. Ramon was standing right next to the same pier, near the same crashed boat he looted with Mickey almost a month ago, with the sun shining at his back. His eyes were closed. It was the moment of silence and solitude that he dreamed about for a long time. There was no point in being angry at the world anymore, because it finally deprived him of everything he held dear, including hope. He didn't have to worry about anything now. He didn't have to worry about the apocalypse uncovering the primal face of humanity he witnessed so many times by now, the fact that his brother's ball cap was gone, lost to the Savannah river, or the fact he was completely alone again. It didn't bother him. Now it was nothing but him, the air and the sound of the flowing water. It felt a bit like back home again. He was at peace and nothing was going to change it. He was wet, bloodied, beaten, scarred in more ways than one, and in a city filled with the walking dead. Ultimately defeated most would say... Yet still alive... His will still unbroken. He was too stubborn to give up, he thought to himself as he looked at the walker bites on his right hand. He wasn't going to give the world the satisfaction of defeating him so easily, not after all he's been through. It just made him clench his teeth tighter and squeeze the already firm grip on the handle of his machete harder.

    'No...' he said to himself, clenching his right palm into a fist. 'Fuck you… You’ll have to do better than… THAT!'

    The End (for real)

    Sidewayz posted: »

    'Listen... I know how you might feel right now... At least I'm trying to understand... I don't know what you've been through already, and I

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