|And Hell Followed With Them
Author: xxOrganizedInsanityxx PM
Connor and Murphy are only three weeks into their prison sentence when the dead start to rise. Boston is soon completely overwhelmed and the brothers have no choice but to run; their one slim hope lying in the possibility of a refugee camp in Atlanta.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Horror - Connor M. & Daryl D. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 72,106 - Reviews: 181 - Favs: 101 - Follows: 180 - Updated: 04-20-13 - Published: 06-27-12 - id: 8261872
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It had been around five hours since they'd left Boston and at least over two hours since they'd seen another car. But then again, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. After everything that had happened in Boston, it seemed like the best plan of action was to stay as far away from civilization as possible. Once they'd turned off of Highway 95, they'd made sure to stick to the quieter, lesser used roads to avoid running into any more potential psychopaths.
They'd thought it best if they each took a turn driving the car, so they could keep moving constantly. The sooner they got to Atlanta, the better. Connor had agreed to drive for the first couple of hours or so; a decision he was starting to severely regret now. The days events were quickly starting to catch up on him and the fact that he had barely had any sleep over the past twenty four hours wasn't helping either. At times he was finding it difficult to even keep his eyes open.
In the passenger seat beside him, Murphy sat with his head facing towards the window. Whether he was asleep or not, Connor couldn't tell. He turned his attention back to the road ahead of him, trying to stay focused. More then once he found his eyelids drooping, and at one point his hand slipped on the wheel; causing the car to jerk violently to the left. They would have skidded right off the road and crashed into the ditch beyond, if Connor hadn't managed to gain control again.
"The fuck're y'playin' at, Connor?" Murphy snapped, his voice groggy from sleep. He seemed more than a little irritated; most likely because of his rude awakening when his head had been slammed into the window after the unexpected turn.
"For Christ's sake, stop the fuckin' car. Yer gonna kill us!"
"No m'not. M'fine." Connor mumbled.
"Yer not fine; y'almost fell asleep at t'fuckin' wheel. Pull over; I'll drive for a bit."
"Y'don't have to. I said m'fine."
"An' I said, stop the fuckin' car!" Murphy said fiercely.
Not in the mood to argue, Connor quickly complied. After the younger twin had grudgingly gotten into the drivers seat and they had started moving again, he soon found his head nodding and within around ten minutes he had dropped off completely.
He was woken up again, he didn't know how many hours later, feeling completely disorientated. He blinked and turned his head away from the blinding light of the sun, struggling to remember where he was. After a few minutes, the memory of the horrors that had taken place the following night came back to him, and with them, a cold feeling of dread. His gaze abruptly fell on the small clock to his left, that was set into the dashboard of the car. If the thing was set right, it had just gone past eight in the morning. Almost twelve hours had past since they'd left Boston.
His head reeling from this realization, he turned his attention to the road ahead, which was partly obscured by what looked like a thick fog. It took him a moment to grasp that the car wasn't actually moving and he turned to his brother, to demand what was going on.
Only to find that the seat next to him was empty.
At first, he could only stare at the vacant space where Murphy was supposed to be, unable to process the fact that his brother was gone. All of a sudden a thousand gruesome scenarios of what could have happened to his twin ran through his mind and he was gripped with an uncontrollable panic that had him scrambling to get out of the car. He practically fell out of the vehicle on to the road, scraping his knees on the concrete as he clambered upright and drew in a breath, almost choking on the foul smell hanging in the air. It was then that he abruptly realized that the haze hanging over the road wasn't actually fog.
It was smoke.
He was hit with the overpowering stench of burning metal and starting coughing violently as the sour air burned his throat.
"Murph!" he yelled, though it came out sounding more like a croak. He tried again, his voice a little louder this time. "Murph! Where are you?"
There was the faint sound of his brothers voice from somewhere behind him and he turned towards the sound, almost tripping over his own feet in his haste to reach his twin. He scrambled down the shallow ditch by the side of the road, reaching a small fence which he easily climbed over; finding himself in what he guessed was a field. It was difficult to tell, really, since the smoke had gotten gradually thicker making it difficult for him to see anything more than a few feet in front of him. He covered his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt, yelling out again. There was no reply this time.
He whirled round, desperate to catch some glimpse of his brother. He spotted a figure standing in the smoke and he broke into a run, relief flooding through him when he recognised it was Murphy.
"The fuck're y'doing Murph?" he yelled as soon as he got close enough, giving him a shove. "Y'nearly gave me a fuckin' heart attack; dissapearin' like tha'!"
The younger brother didn't even give any indication he had heard him. He just continued to stare blankly ahead, blue eyes wide with horror. Connor, feeling puzzled by his twin's strange behaviour looked up to see, what looked like large metal container lying on its side. There was a slight breeze which had blown away some of the smoke, but even then it still took him a moment to figure out that he was staring at.
It was only when he noticed the words 'American Airlines' printed in large blue letters on the side of the container, that he realized he was looking at the remains of what must have been a pretty horrific plane crash. He took a step back, glancing up to see the ruins of what looked like the wing of the aircraft. The jet engine that had been attached to the wing had been torn off and was half buried in the dirt near their feet. A little beyond that he could see flames licking at a large hole in the side of the craft, where the seats on the inside were visible. He spotted what looked like the figure of a woman, who was still strapped into her seat; blood running in rivulets down her face.
Connor stumbled back and bumped into Murphy, who still hadn't spoken a single word.
"Murph." He said quietly. "Murph, we-we have t'go. We have t'leave."
The younger twin didn't answer.
"Murph." He grabbed him by the shoulder, whirling him round to face him and giving him a rough shake. "Y'need t'listen to me. I know we've seen some fucked up shit but y'can't let it get t'you. Not now. The fire's gonna get to the fuel tanks of t'plane and the whole things gonna fuckin' explode and take us out with it if we don't leave right t'fuck now!"
Murphy blinked, quickly coming back to his sense. He seemed to take what Connor had said into consideration and nodded slowly. "Right..." he said slowly. "Yer right."
They turned their backs on the flaming wreckage of the jet and headed back across the field to the car; clambering over the fence and up the slope. Connor got back behind the wheel and they quickly pulled away from the side of the road, leaving the devastation of the crash behind them. For a long time after that Murphy still refused to talk and insisted on answering any of his brother's meagre attempts at conversation with stubborn silence. Eventually, Connor gave up and decided to leave him to his own devices. They drove on in uncomfortable silence for a whole thirty minutes before the younger twin finally decided to speak up.
"How t'fuck did all this happen?"
Connor glanced up, surprised at the suddenness of the question. He hesitated momentarily, unsure of how to answer.
"Well...what d'you mean exactly?" he said, a little tentatively. Murphy sighed.
"'Mean...how could God turn His back on us like this? How could he let all this shit happen? What could've possibly happened that'd make Him so angry at us?"
Connor scoffed. "C'mon, Murph. Y'really think God caused all of this?"
"Well what other fuckin' explanation is there?" the younger brother scowled, growing irritated. "If t'wasn't Him, then who fucking did all of this?"
"I don't fuckin' know, Murph." He snapped back, exasperated. "I don't know anymore than you do. I know this situation we're in is a fuckin' mess an' it seems like the whole world's gone t'shit but for Christ's sake, y'don't have to bite m'fuckin' head off!"
The younger twin seemed taken aback at that, falling silent again for a long moment.
"...M'sorry, Connor." He said eventually. "S'just...I don't fuckin' know what t'think anymore, y'know? 'Bout anything. Week ago we were worrying 'bout shit like...like breaking outta Hoag, but now? All tha' s'just meaningless. Stupid, really."
"Aye..." Connor agreed.
Murphy shook his head. "T'be honest, I'm more worried 'bout what's gonna happen t'us..." he said softly. "M'not sure we're gonna be able to survive this shit, Connor. Y'heard what they were sayin' on t'news; there's thousands, maybe even millions dead already from this...disease or whatever it is. What if something like that happens t'us?" His voice rose steadily with hysteria. "What if one of us ends up like those fuckin' things that we saw in-"
"Murph, fuckin' stop it alright?" Connor said sternly. "Last thing y'wanna do is start thinking like that. Yer not gonna do yourself any favours."
Murphy went quiet again, turning his vacant gaze to the road ahead.
"D'you think...Romeo made it out alright?" he asked after another awkward pause; causing Connor to freeze up momentarily. He found himself hit unexpectedly with an overwhelming feeling of guilt. With everything that had happened the last couple of days, he had completely forgotten about their Mexican friend.
"Oh, fuck..." he said.
"Y'forgot about him too, didn't you?" Murphy shook his head ruefully. "He was meant t'be our friend and we just...we fuckin' abandoned him."
"We didn't abandon him, for Christ's sake." Connor argued back furiously. "T'wasn't like that, Murph. You know it wasn't."
"But we never even tried t'help him-"
"We never fuckin' got t'chance!" he snapped. "You know what it was like; the whole prison was fuckin' massacred, we barely even got out alive ourselves. There wasn't anytime t'worry about anyone else!"
Murphy scowled but didn't say anything more. The older twin sighed heavily and shook his head. "Look, we can't be held accountable for whatever happened t'Romeo. If anything has...Y'never know: he might've gotten out alright. He might be ok...He acts like a right fuckin' idiot sometimes, but he's not stupid. Not really. He might be alright..."
He trailed off, and out of the corner of his eye, he could see his brother watching him, his eyes narrowed in scrutiny. But rather than voice his obvious doubts, Murphy just turned his gaze back to the window; a frown still fixed on his face. Connor sighed inwardly, keeping his attention focused entirely on the empty road ahead.
It was plainly obvious that his twin didn't believe a word he had said. Not that he could blame him. He was finding it difficult to even convince himself...
Murphy stared with only half open eyes at the narrow country road ahead of him. After another twenty excruciating hours of travelling, they had finally reached the state of Georgia. But the younger brother was far from celebrating. He'd been driving for almost eight hours non-stop and was beyond exhausted, not to mention incredibly hungry. He'd hardly eaten anything the past few days, aside from a few packets of chips and cans of soda he'd managed to snatch from a convenience store by the roadside, when they'd stopped to hastily fill up the car. He had felt a little guilty about it, since it technically counted as stealing, but then again he hadn't really had any money on him to pay for what he'd stolen. Besides, judging from the state of the place, he hadn't been the first one to take something anyway.
There was a sudden loud beep from the dashboard, making him jump. The car swerved slightly to the left, but he managed to regain control with ease. He glanced down at the dash, his attention caught by the little red bulb beside the fuel gauge, which was flashing on and off. He read off the number displayed and swore loudly, slamming a fist on the steering wheel in frustration. The noise woke Connor, who had been asleep in the passenger seat.
"Murph? S'wrong?" he said blearily, rubbing at his eyes.
"We're outta fuel." Murphy replied tersely.
Connor blinked, sleep half asleep. "Wha'?"
"Said we're outta gas, Connor!" he snapped irately. "We're not gonna make it t'Atlanta."
There had been a few jerry cans packed into the trunk of the Chevy, but only one of them had actually contained any fuel. The rest, to their dismay, had been completely empty and what little gas they'd got hadn't been able to fill up the tank to more than halfway. Murphy had been close to kicking himself when they'd found this out. If only they had checked the trunk sooner, there might've been a chance they could've gotten enough fuel to get them to Atlanta; now it was probably too late.
The older brother sat up straighter, suddenly fully awake. "Fuckin' hell! Y'can't be serious? Y'sure yer reading the thing right?" he glanced over Murphy's shoulder, trying to catch a glimpse of the fuel gauge. He saw how low the dial was and fell back again, his heart sinking.
"How...how long y'been drivin' for?" He asked eventually, after a long uncomfortable pause.
"Too fuckin' long." Murphy sighed.
"This is Georgia now though, isn't it?" Connor carried on, a little more hopefully. "So...Atlanta shouldn't be too far away now, righ'? We might be able t'make it before we run out. We jus' need t'keep to the main roads an' we can get there faster. What Highway're we on righ' now anyway?" He glanced out of the window, frowning when he saw they were surrounded by vast dull yellow fields, that seemed to stretch out almost endlessly. "Where t'fuck are we?"
Murphy didn't answer.
"Murph...Where are we?"
He just shrugged, vaguely. Connor stared at his brother, hands trembling with sudden barely controlled rage. "Y'got no fuckin' idea, do you?"
"M'not fuckin' lost-"
"Y'are Murph!" Connor snapped. "Y'got us lost! Can't fuckin' believe you! We were meant t'stay on t'main roads once we got t'Georgia so we wouldn't get lost and then y'go and do the exact opposite! Y'never fuckin' listen t'me-"
"I did fuckin' listen!" Murphy replied sharply. "S'not my fault, aright? I had t'go off the Highway. I didn't have any other choice. There was a fuckin' pile up, took up the whole road."
The older twin hesitated, taken aback by this. "A pile up?" he repeated.
"Aye. Big eighteen wheeler truck got tipped over...on Highway 19, think it was. Whole thing went all the way across the fuckin' road; there was no way I could've gotten round it so I had t'go back."
"When t'fuck did that happen?" Connor asked. "I don't remember that."
"Think y'were sleeping still." Murphy explained.
There was an uncomfortable pause, broken when the younger brother suddenly sighed heavily, turning his attention back to the vast empty road ahead of them.
"Never meant for this t'happen." He said. "I was thinkin' I'd just be able to find a side road to get m'round the pile up and back on the highway but...I must've taken a wrong turn and now I've got no fuckin' idea where I'm going." He ran a hand through his hair, clearly exasperated. "All these country roads look the same. Feel like I've been driving down the same fuckin' street over and over again for hours now." He glanced out the side window, abruptly perking up when he caught sight of something. "Though, actually...don't think I've seen this place before."
"What?" Connor leaned over , peering out of the windshield to see what it was his brother was talking about. He scanned up ahead and quickly spotted what looked like a little farm house nestled at the side of the road, half hidden by a small cluster of bare trees. As they drew closer he noticed a rust coloured pick up truck, that looked like it had seen better days, sitting in the dirt driveway, Murphy drew up alongside the building, bringing the car to a stop at the end of the drive and staring up at the house with an unreadable expression on his face.
"Y'think anyone's home?" he asked quietly.
Connor shrugged. "Dunno." His gaze fell again on the truck. "Maybe..."
"Should we go knock?"
"Y'really think that's a good idea? What if they're like tha' guy in Boston? Couple of screws loose an' all that?"
Murphy snorted. "Don't be so fuckin' dramatic. We'll be fine. We're a long way from all tha' shit now. Should be alrigh' here." He kicked open the door, grateful for the opportunity to stretch his stiff legs. "Sides, they might even let us borrow some food, if we're lucky." He added over his shoulder as he headed up the dirt track towards the house.
"Sounds like wishful thinking." The older brother muttered under his breath. He clambered reluctantly out of the car, glancing around apprehensively, before he followed after his twin. He was struck with a sudden sense of unease as he drew closer to the house; he couldn't put his finger on it, but something didn't seem quite right. Murphy, who obviously didn't share his feelings of discomfort, stood at the front entrance to the house, hammering away loudly at the door.
"Hello!" he called loudly. "S'anyone there?"
There was no reply.
After a few minutes of knocking with no answer, Murphy quickly gave up on the door; moving on to the window next to it. He leaned his forehead against the glass and peered into the gloomy interior, trying to catch a glimpse of movement within.
"Hello?" he called again.
"For Christ's sake, Murph!" Connor chided. "Don't go lookin' in t'fuckin' windows; yer gonna scare them!"
He frowned and straightened back up. "There's no one home." He twitched, glancing over his shoulder. "D'you hear that?"
"S'like...a buzzing noise. Flies or something. D'you not hear it?"
Connor shook his head. Murphy turned towards another window, pushing a small rocking chair out of his way so he could stoop down to see inside. The older McManus sighed inwardly, rolling his eyes at his brother.
"There's no point in wasting anymore time here, Murph." He told him. "There's no one here; we should just go. We need t'get back on the road t'Atlanta."
Murphy said nothing.
"Murph?" he repeated, turning round to face his brother, who stood completely frozen in place, leaning against the windowsill for support. There was a look of such absolute horror on his face that Connor felt his blood turn to ice in his veins. "Murph." He said again, frantically. "What is it? What's wrong?"
Instead of replying, his twin simply spun on his heel and stumbled away from the window, clambering down the porch steps and away across the drive, completely ignoring his twins calls. He only made it halfway to the car, before he abruptly doubled over and threw up in the bushes.
Connor turned to look at the window where Murphy had been standing just a few seconds before, a cold feeling of dread settling in his stomach. Reluctantly, he crossed the porch and steadied himself before he stooped down and peered inside the house. The first thing he noticed was the irritating buzz of flies that his brother had mention. Then, there was the faint, coppery smell of blood. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom inside he spotted the figure of a man crumpled in an armchair in the corner. Blood was splattered all over his farmers overalls and the collar of his shirt. A shotgun was clutched tightly in his hands, pointing up towards his chin. Connor felt his stomach turn over as his gaze fell on his head, where a good chunk of his skull had been completely blown away by the shotgun blast. On the wall behind him, in a messy, bloody scrawl, someone had written the words 'God Forgive Us.'
Fighting the sudden overwhelming urge to vomit, Connor quickly backed away from the window, gulping in deep breaths of fresh air. He glanced up to see Murphy still crouched in the driveway.
"Y'alright?" he called, when he'd managed to get his breath back. It seemed like a pretty stupid question to ask, considering what they'd both just seen, but he had no idea what else to say. Murphy raised his head, face pale, and gave him a thumbs up. Connor found himself laughing, even though there wasn't anything all that funny about their current situation.
"Think s'about time we leave?" He asked. "There's not much for us t'see here, I don't think."
Murphy nodded, getting a little unsteadily to his feet and heading back to the Chevy that was still parked at the end of the driveway. Before Connor could follow him, he caught sight of something a little further down the road, that made him pause. With all the time it had taken them to drive down to Georgia from Boston they'd seen very little in the way of cars. So it felt almost weird for him to see one now, sitting motionless right in the middle of the road.
"Hey, Murph!" he called to his brother. "Y'see that?"
"There's a fuckin' car down the road there."
"There is?" Murphy craned his neck, trying to see past the tree lines. "Is there someone in it?"
"Dunno. Don't think so. S'not moving. Must've been left."
"Either that, or there's a dead body in it." The younger brother remarked with a frown.
"We might be able t'get some gas from it." Connor countered as he made his way down the porch steps. "S'worth a look, right?"
Murphy didn't look like he agreed with him, but he never made any effort to voice his uncertainty.
"We can jus' walk." The older McManus continued. "Should only take five minutes."
"Wha' bout the Chevy?" Murphy asked.
"What about it?"
"Well we can't jus' leave it can we? Someone could take it."
Connor snorted, passing by his brother as he headed down the driveway. "There's no one around to take it." He called over his shoulder. "Don't be fuckin' stupid."
The younger twin muttered something irritably under his breath, following after his brother as they turned into the empty road and headed for the apparently abandoned car. It was eerily quiet; the only sound was the steadying thumping of their footsteps against he concrete underfoot. As they drew closer to the abandoned vehicle, Connor noticed the red and blue lights attached to the roof and the words 'Police' printed in bold on the side.
"Fuck, Connor. It's a police car!" Murphy said, suddenly excited.
"D'you think there's maybe guns?" he went on eagerly, peering in the back window. "We could use somethin' t'defend ourselves."
"Dunno." Connor reached cautiously for the door handle and tugged the door open. "Would've thought whoever had it would've taken that kinda stuff with them." He said.
"Less they were dead."
"S'pose." He collapsed into the drivers seat of the car, glancing around the dashboard for anything useful. He felt his hopes rise when he saw that the keys were still in the ignition but when he turned the engine on, it stuttered and coughed once, before dying completely.
Murphy reappeared at his side in an instant. "S'it working?" he asked hopefully.
Connor's gaze fell on the fuel gauge, where the dial was sitting firmly in the red. "Don't think so." He said. "Looks like this cop or whoever it was drivin' this thing had t'same problem we do."
"Shit...Hand over t'keys for a second. M'gonna see if I can get into the trunk; they might have something in there."
"Aye, sure." He handed them over and the younger brother disappeared round the back of the vehicle. The older twin turned his attention back to the dashboard, to see if there was anything there that could be useful. Above his head, the sun visor had been left flipped down and there were some important looking files attached to it with elastic. He considered taking them down and having a look at them, but decided against it. He tried checking the glove compartment but aside from an empty folder and a bottle of warm water it was pretty much empty.
Abruptly his gaze fell on the car's two-way radio console that was set into the car's dash. If he was able to get it to work, then there could be a chance he could maybe get in touch with the military camp in Atlanta. He wasn't sure how far their reach was, but it was probably worth a shot. He scanned over the various different brightly coloured buttons, his eye drawn to a large red one. Hesitated for only a moment, he reached down and pressed it and a second later there was a sudden burst of static as the radio came to life.
Carl sat with his chin in his hands, scuffing his toes in the dirt. He was feeling bored out of his mind and more than a little lonely, considering he didn't really have anyone to talk to since the others were all too busy with chores to come and see him. He sighed softly, jumping when he was startled by a sudden crackle from Dale's old radio. He leaned over, intrigued, and started fiddling with the various buttons, wondering what had caused the noise. After a few long seconds of silence, it appeared that the sudden noise was just a one off thing, and he sat back again, disappointed.
Someone called his name and he glanced up, his mouth pulling up into a grin when he spotted Sophia clambering up the slope towards him, breathless and smiling all over her face.
"Hey, Sophia!" he greeted his friend eagerly. "What's up?"
She paused for a second, taking a moment to get her breath back. "Me and Eliza..." she panted. "We just found...the grossest thing...ever!"
"What was it?"
She straightened up, smirking. "Guess!"
He shrugged. "I don't know. Tell me."
"It was a spider. A gigantic one. We saw it when we were coming back up from helping with the laundry and it was sitting on the tree and Eliza almost touched it!"
"Wow! How big was it?"
"Bigger than my hand." Sophia told him, stretching out her fingers to demonstrate.
"Really? That's so cool!"
"It wasn't cool! It was gross!"
"Spiders are cool." Carl insisted. "I wish I could've seen it..."
Sophia brushed off her hands on her skirt, frowning. "It might still be there." She said. "But I dunno if I'd be able to find where it was though..."
"It's alright...not that big of a deal." He reassured her, turning his attention back to the old radio. Sophia watched him, curious, as continued to fiddle with the buttons on the console.
"What're you doing?" she asked.
"Nothing. Just...I thought I heard something earlier. It made a weird noise..."
"Maybe its someone trying to get in touch with us?"
"Maybe. Though I didn't hear any voices."
Sophia fell silent, frowning thoughtfully. "I remember this one time, when I was younger; I saw this movie on TV...'bout this guy who could talk to dead people through this broken radio he had. I mean...I know it was just a movie and it's not real...but it was still pretty creepy." She shuddered. "I had nightmares for weeks after."
"Would be pretty cool if we could talk to ghosts though." He admitted as he picked up the microphone. "Hellooo?" he called into it. "Any ghosts out there? We have a message from the world of the living; please stay away from the light. I repeat: stay away from the light."
Sophia raised an eyebrow, shaking her head at him. "You are so weird." She said, before she broke down laughing and Carl soon joined in. But the smiles were quickly wiped off their faces as another burst of static erupted from the radio and in amongst the white noise, there was what sounded like a voice.
Carl glanced down at the radio, wide eyed. "Did you hear that?" he asked. She nodded, eyeing the device at his feet warily as if it were a bomb about to go off.
"H...Hello?" Carl spoke into the microphone tentatively. "Is somebody there?"
There was another few long moments of silence and for a fleeting moment he wondered if they'd both just imagined the voice. Abruptly, there was another crackle and then:
"...What t'fuck d'you think yer doin'?! Put it down!"
Carl very nearly jumped out of his skin at the sudden shout, dropping the microphone like it was red hot. He leapt up from his seat, bumping into Sophia and the two backed away from the radio as it continued to hurl abuse and expletives at them, in a loud, heavily accented voice.
"Y'fuckin' dumb shit! What're y'playin' at? Yer gonna break it...Fuckin' stop tha'!"
The boy leapt about a foot in the air, whirling round to see Amy, Andrea's younger sister, glowering down at him.
"Was that you just now?" she asked. "What would your Mom think if she heard you cussing like that?"
He could only stand and stare back at her, unsure of how to respond. "I...I uh..." he stammered.
Sophia stepped forward, taking it upon herself to come to her friends aid. "It wasn't him!" she protested. "It was the gh-" She caught herself before she managed to say the word 'ghost.' "-It was the man on the radio. We heard a voice and we-"
"What! You heard someone on the radio? Are you sure?"
Sophia nodded vigorously and Amy dropped the bundle of kindling she was holding and rushed over, kneeling down and snatching up the microphone from where it lay at Carls' feet.
"Hello? Hello! Is anyone there, over?" She said.
There was a pause, a crackle and then the voice came back stronger than ever.
"Wait, wait; did y'hear that? I fuckin' heard someone...Would y'shut t'fuck up for a second, Murph. Hello?"
Amy laughed outright, smiling triumphantly. "Yes, hello! I can hear you! Over."
"...Jesus fuckin' Christ how d'you work this thing...I can't-" A burst of white noise cut off the speaker momentarily. "Hello? Fuckin' piece of shit-"
There was a loud thud on the other line and then the voice was again lost amongst the static. Amy's face fell and she swore under her breath, hitting the radio on its side in frustration. Sophia and Carl glanced up as Dale approached them, looking down at the blonde girl crouched beside the radio with concern.
"You ok, Amy? There somethin' going on here?" he asked.
"There's someone on the radio. I can't...I think the signals lost. I can't get a hold of them again." She turned abruptly to Carl. "D'you think you could go get Shane for me? He knows how to work this thing better than I do."
Carl nodded and turned on his heel, breaking into a run as he headed to the other end of the campsite. Sophia watched him go and then turned back to Amy who continued to struggle with the old radio.
"Hello? Hello? Are you still there, over?"
There was no response.
"God damn it." She hissed through her teeth. "Why won't this thing work."
"Take it easy." Dale said, trying to placate her. "Here's Shane coming now; sure he can do somethin' about it."
The blonde glanced up over her shoulder to see Carl hurtling back across the campsite towards them, the police officer hot on his heels. She stood and handed the microphone over to him as he knelt down beside the radio. He punched a few buttons and turned a dial, before thumbing the 'call' button.
"Hello, hello. S'the person who called still on the air?" he asked.
There was a pause, a crackle and then the distinct sound of laughter on the other line.
"See, Connor? Told you I could get it t'work..." A pause, then: "Thought y'said t'was a girl talkin' t'you? That's not a fuckin' girl!"
Shane smirked, catching Amy's eye before he again spoke into the microphone. "Hello? Are you receiving me, over?"
"Oh shit, s'he talkin' t'me?...I can't...I dunno how t'fuckin' work this thing. What button d'you press-"
There was another burst of static cutting of the voice. Shane scowled.
"Hello? Can I ask the unknown persons to please respond, over."
The voices remained quiet.
Shane sighed in frustration and thumbed the 'call' button again. "This is officer Shane Walsh broadcasting to persons unknown, could you please respond; I repeat, please respond, over."
There was no reply.
Connor stared down at the microphone in his hand, as if it were some rabid animal about to bite him. In the passenger seat beside him, Murphy shook his head in disbelief.
"Christ, Connor." He said softly. "He's a fuckin' cop."
"Aye, I heard him." His brother replied dryly.
Murphy turned round to face him fully. "What're we gonna do?"
"What d'you mean 'what're we gonna do'? What else is there for us t'do? This is t'first sign of life we've got since we left Boston; we might be able to get some information from these people."
"Bu' we can't tell them 'bout us. What if they know who we are. What if this cop...Welsh, are whatever his fuckin' name is; what if he recognises us? What're we gonna do then?"
"He's not gonna recognise us." Connor said firmly. "This is a completely different part of t'country from Boston; half the people down here probably haven't even heard f'us. Sides, case you haven't realized, I think there'll be more important things for him t'worry 'bout right now."
And before Murphy could protest further, he turned back to the radio, clicking the 'call' button on the console.
"We're still here." He said. "Over."
There was a pause, then a short laugh from the man on the other line.
"Thank God, for that. Thought I'd lost the transmission." He cleared his throat. "Can I ask who I'm talking to?"
The older McManus hesitated only a second before answering. "M'name's Connor." He said carefully. "M'brother's Murphy."
"How many are in your group? Is it just you two?"
"Aye. S'just us two."
Another crackle of static. "That's some accent, y'got there. Take it your not local t'Georgia?"
"Nah. We...we're both Irish. Though we've been livin' in Boston for a couple years now."
"Boston?" 'Shane' sounded puzzled. "That's a pretty long way from here. How'd you get this far South?"
"We drove. Borrowed a car from...from a friend but we're startin' to run low on gas an' I'm worried we're not gonna make it t'Atlanta."
There was an uncomfortable silence on the other line. "Trust me, man. You do not wanna go t'Atlanta."
Connor froze. Beside him, Murphy, who had been sitting languidly staring out the window, suddenly bolted upright, alert.
"What did he say?" he asked. "T'fuck's he talking about, Connor?"
Ignoring his brothers questioning looks, Connor turned back to the radio. "What d'you mean? Why won't we wanna go there?" he asked.
"Y'haven't heard? Atlanta's done. It got overrun."
"You can't go into the city. It ain't safe."
"But...tha' can't be right!" Connor protested. "They told us...we heard on t'radio there was a military camp here."
"Yeah, we were told that too. I was on my way into the city from Kentucky with...with some people an' I saw the place getting napalmed. There's nothing left there now."
Murphy, who had remained silent for the most part of this revelation, suddenly moved with lightening quick reactions and snatched the microphone from his brother.
"So yer sayin' tha' we drove over a thousand miles t'get to this fuckin' military camp only t'find that it doesn't fuckin' exist anymore? S'that what yer telling me?"
"'Fraid so. I know this must be pretty difficult for you folks t'hear, but it ain't all bad. We got a group here at-"
Not wanting to hear anymore, Murphy threw down the microphone on to the dashboard with a loud crack and kicked open his door. Ignoring his brothers calls, he exited the vehicle and stomped off down the road, yelling and cursing as he did so. Unsure of how to deal with his twins sudden meltdown, Connor stayed put in the front seat of the police car; thinking it might be better to let him vent some of his anger out first. He turned his attention back to the radio, which was thankfully still working, and picked it back up.
"Hello? Connor? Murphy? You guys still with us?"
Connor took a deep breath to steady himself. "Aye. Aye, we are." He said. "Sorry 'bout Murph. He jus' sort of...he's got a bit of a temper on him an' we've...we've both been through a lot."
"S'understandable. I would probably react the same if I was in your situation." Shane said. "You've come a long way for nothin' and I understand why you'd be pissed off. But I'm willing to throw you guys a lifeline."
"Lifeline? What d'you mean?"
"Well, like I said before I was on my way into Atlanta when all this shit went down. We didn't have anywhere else to turn so we made ourselves our own little camp, just outside the city. There's about fifteen of us out here, all together. F'you like, you would be welcome to come down here and join us. Place is relatively safe; we don't get hardly any walkers out here."
"Walkers?" Connor frowned. "Are those what y'call those...things that go around eating people?"
"Ain't the official name, but...yeah, that's what we call 'em."
"Righ'...so then...where 'bout is this camp y'got?"
"It's a couple miles out from Atlanta. A place called Rockdale Quarry. Where are you guys at?"
"Uh..." he hesitated. "Not quite sure at t'moment."
"Aye. We're not local here, like y'said an' well...Murph's a bit of an idiot when it comes to directions. We were tryin' t'get to on to...Highway 20 I think t'was. Tha' was meant t'be a direct route t'Atlanta. But there was a pile up an' Murph had t'go around it and we kinda lost it a bit there..."
"Well that should work out pretty well. F'you get back on to the Highway, s'about a forty minute drive to Rockdale. Think your car could make it that far?"
"Aye, should hope so."
"Great. Should think that-"
There was a pause and a quiet crackle of static noise. From somewhere on the other line, there was the faint sound of shouting voices and Shane swore. "Look man, I'm sorry but I gotta go."
"Something happened?" Connor asked, suddenly concerned.
"Nah, s'just...We got a group that went out scavenging into the city and I think that's them back now. I wanna go make sure everything's alright with 'em."
"Thought you said it wasn't safe t'go into the city?"
"It ain't. But we still need t'get food for everyone and there ain't many other options for us." There was another pause. "I really gotta go, but hopefully see you and your brother soon, right?"
There was a crackle of static and then the radio fell silent. Connor replaced the microphone and, mentally preparing himself for a whole lot of abuse, opened the door and stepped out of the car. The road behind him was, surprisingly, empty. His gaze wandered over the road and surrounding field but Murphy was nowhere to be seen. He continued on down the road to the farmhouse and found his brother sitting on the hood of the Chevy, a thunderous expression on his face.
"Y'alright?" he asked, as soon as he got close enough.
The younger twin said nothing.
Connor stood for a moment, surveying him, before he sighed and gingerly, took a seat beside his brother. For a long few minutes the two sat in complete silence. Eventually, growing uneasy with the quiet, the older McManus decided to speak up again.
"The cop, Shane...he said they've got this little camp, a group of people on the outskirts of the city. Some place called Rockdale or somethin'."
"So?" Murphy said bitterly.
"So, I think that's gotta be our next stop." Connor said. "Mean let's face it, we've got nowhere else t'go now, do we? Atlanta's done. We don't know where we are. This Rockdale place's our best bet."
"An' what if they're wrong? What if s'not as safe as their making it out t'be?"
Connor shrugged. "Let's be real here, Murph. I don't think there's anywhere that's really safe anymore. Everything's different now. There are no safe places, not really. But, I'd like t'think we'd stand a better chance with a larger group, than just us two, y'know?"
"Don't think t'makes tha' much difference."
"Aye. But still, might as well try it, right? Y'never know. Might be nice to get t'see some new faces." Connor said. "'Specially since m'getting pretty fuckin' tired of being stuck with you all the time, y'miserable fuck."
"Fuckin' blow me." Murphy said sharply, but he was at least smiling a little now. Connor laughed and patted his twin's shoulder.
"C'mon," he said. "Let's get t'fuck outta here."