Alright, here comes the epilogue!
Ben Paul was tired; so very, very, very tired. He was sick of walking around and really longed to have his mom's car again. The thing itself was a beaten up Ford pickup from the 80s, and he remembered that the air conditioning didn't work in it, but at least he'd be able to get somewhere.
Truth be told, he wasn't really even that scared of the walkers anymore. A week's worth of having to fend them off by yourself and just trying to stay alive changed him somewhat. But loneliness was something that was continuing to torment him.
Occasionally he wondered how the rest of them were doing. He wondered if they had managed to find Lee and Clementine, or if any of them were still alive. But then he'd try to convince himself that he didn't really give a damn anymore. Lilly and Carley sent him away, tossed him aside like the garbage they thought he was. He had no sympathy left for any of them now.
"Where the hell am I now?" he thought aloud, checking the map that Carley had given him before. It seemed that he had crossed the border into North Carolina some time ago, and was continuing to head north in search of… something. Anything that would keep him safe, and hopefully have a nice meal waiting for him. But that was a long shot.
Ben was getting even skinnier than he was before. The last thing he had eaten was a can of corn that he'd scrounged out of a department store yesterday, but he couldn't eat anything else because some scavengers were coming in to clear the place out.
So, the guy kept on walking. He'd only stop if he had to in order to rest or something, and so far his journey north wasn't going nearly as bad as he'd expected it to. Within the first few days after Lilly kicked him out, Ben thought for sure that he would've been monster food. That was his biggest fear of them all – becoming a snack for one of the walkers. Gradually though, he got used to his routine, and he was actually kind of proud of himself. Maybe surviving out here wouldn't be so bad after all.
And then he heard the voices.
"Alright, spread out, everyone! We need to comb through every inch of this area! We're running low on food, and I ain't letting that idiot Luke having the one-up on me!"
"You got it."
'Oh god, not more strangers…' Ben thought with a grimace. If they saw him hiding out here, would they think he was a spy? Would they just shoot him on sight? Would they kidnap him and force him to do their bidding?
"Well, hello there."
Ben put his hands out in front of him in mock surrender. "Please, I don't want any trouble. I'll just go… you really don't want me around anyway."
Standing in front of him was an older-looking man with a grizzly voice and a fur-lined coat. He was surrounded by three other people, all holding machine guns in their hands, and Ben thought he was going to die right then and there.
"Come on, we ain't gonna hurt you, son. We're just scouting out here. What's your name?"
"Ben… Ben Paul."
"Well it's nice to meet you Ben," he extended a hand, which Ben reluctantly shook, expecting a grenade or something that would kill him to come sliding out of his sleeve. Geez, maybe Ben was getting a little paranoid.
"What're you doing out here, kid?" asked a rather stern-looking man with a face that just screamed 'Don't fuck with me'. Yeah, he was a little intimidating.
"Come on, Troy. He looks like he's been through hell enough already. Obviously he's out looking for shelter or something. Am I right?"
Ben quickly nodded his head, relieved to see some normal people for a change.
"Well, I'll cut to the chase. We're set up that-a-way at an old hardware store. If you've got nowhere else to go, then why don't you tag along?"
"Oh, I don't know…" Ben stammered.
"Kid, no offense but you look like shit," Troy remarked, "When's the last time you ate?"
"Umm… not since yesterday."
"Well then, seems like you've got nothing to lose," the grizzly man stated, placing his hands on his hips. Ben figured that this guy must've been in charge of their little camp thing they had going on. "We've got beds, food and shelter, and frankly you look like you could use all three. So what do you say?"
This seemed too good to be true! After all this time of questioning whether or not he was even going to survive the next day, he might actually be able to live a life!
But something at the back of Ben's mind was screaming at him not to go. These people seemed friendly enough, but he couldn't shake the feeling that they weren't all that they seemed to be.
Honestly though, he was in dire need of a place to settle into.
"That'd be awesome, thanks man!"
"Alright then. After we finish up around here, we'll head back to the camp and introduce you to everyone. Think you can pull your own weight?"
"Yeah… no problem…" Ben replied a little solemnly. The last group he was with certainly didn't see him as useful. Perhaps things could be different here. This time he swore that he'd prove himself.
As he followed them back though, he realized something.
"Umm, sorry, but what's your name?"
The grizzled man chuckled slightly and responded in a low, deep voice, "My name's William Carver. Just call me Bill though."
Well, I hope you liked this story! I'll be sure to write the next part as soon as I can, so stay tuned for that. Reviews and suggestions are always appreciated!