A/N: Oh, it feels good to be back! I know that everyone is expecting big updates on my current stories and the series', but while I was in rehab I sat down and started playing the Walking Dead and became hooked almost instantly. The story was compelling, the characters were well rounded and the suspense, horror and thrills behind it all really dragged out the good qualities.
Not to mention the shock value at the end of each episode that dragged you farther and farther into the story and keeping your interest to the very end.
I couldn't help but start writing an OC adaptation to the franchise and now I'm using its creation to bring me back into the world of fanfiction. So sit back, grab a drink, and enjoy the ride! (By the way, Major Spoilers for those that haven't played or heard about the game.)
Disclaimer: I still own jack shit!
The cool, crisp breeze of autumn air slowly swept over the landscape. Kicking up leaves and twigs, sending them lazily through the air amongst the field of tall-yellow grass. Dusk had begun to fall over the landscape, painting the skies a collection of orange, purple and red hues as the sun slowly began to set over the horizon.
Steel-toed sneakers crunched the dried grass and loose gravel softly as the one wearing them walked through the field. A young male, 5'11'' in height wearing jeans with the knees ripped open, a black long-sleeve thermal shirt underneath a worn, denim jacket that had the sleeves torn off long ago.
He had dirty blonde hair that was matted to his head from sweat and a long period of not being washed, an angular and handsome face with a pair of piercing, ice-blue eyes that stared out at the hills head of him. His gaze reflecting that he had seen an experienced things that he would never forget in this lifetime or the next.
Looking down in his arms, the little girl he was carrying shifted a little before settling down again. Her face pressed into the crook of his neck, baseball cap pulled down over her eyes while she slept soundly. The red Brooklyn hoodie she was wearing over her tan dress was covered in black, rotten blood similar to what was stained on his own clothes, the smell still lingering but his senses having already grown used to it.
The two of them had been through a lot together...been through hell and then some. But through it all they had endured, they had thrived, but most of all they had survived. They'd made friends, lost friends, and took everything that this horrifying world had thrown at them and still managed to make it through.
His heart went out to the ones they had lost, each one of them brave in their own ways and would forever be remembered by the two of them. But they had to push on, keep moving forward, and stay one step ahead of the never ending plague that surrounded them on all sides.
It wasn't personal, it was about survival. And making sure that he and his charge made it through all this horror was his only priority.
"Jason...?" He looked down to see a pair of bright, hazel eyes looking up at him from under the baseball cap she wore.
"Yeah, sweetheart?" he asked giving her a gentle smile.
The little girl bit her lip in thought before speaking again, "We're gonna make it...right?" she asked timidly. After everything they had gone through she had every right to be more than a bit unsure given their situation.
He stopped by a lone standing tree, the leaves long since blown off with the changing season, settling down on a downed log and adjusting the girl in his lap so that she was more comfortable. "We'll be fine, Clem." he replied. "We just gotta keep moving, remember what I taught you after we first met?"
She nodded, " 'Movement equals survival'." she recited perfectly even after all this time. Another breeze blew through the air and she curled into him more for warmth, his grip on her tightened a little to help ward it off for her sake. "Do you think the others made it?" she asked after a few moments.
"I'm sure they did, we can't give up hope sweetheart. That's pretty much all we have left in the world, without that...we have nothing." Jason said as he looked out at the horizon and watched the sun slowly continue its descent behind the hills. He felt the girl start to shutter and looked down to see her crying, large tears cascading down her tan-colored cheeks as she attempted to keep her sobs inside.
"Clementine? Sweetheart?" he asked gently raising her face to look at him. What he saw broke his heart, the innocence that he had seen when they first met had dimmed so much that it was barely there anymore. She had seen and experienced things that no child should ever have, a part of him hated himself for not being able to shield her from such things. But in the end it couldn't be helped, keeping her ignorant to what was happening wouldn't have done any good for her and she needed to know how to protect herself if something should ever happen and he wasn't there.
Jason held her close, her little arms gone around his neck as she sobbed into his chest. "I'm so sorry, baby-girl." he whispered while resting his head on top of hers.
Clementine leaned back, fixing her watery gaze on his. "I...I don't wanna lose you too. Like...Like my..." she clenched her eyes and began crying again as she was pulled back into her guardian's embrace.
"You won't." he said with conviction. "No matter what happens, no matter what it takes, I won't leave you alone. I know I can't replace..." he paused, being sure not to say something to hurt her even more. "I know I can't replace them, Clem. But I will be there for you for as long as you need me. Despite everything we've been through, we're a family. And nothing will take that away from us."
The girl tightened her grip on him, "Promise?" she asked hopefully.
"I promise." came the reply. They sat there in silence, watching the sunset and taking a well deserved break, they would start moving again soon, hopefully finding shelter before nightfall when things were at their most dangerous.
All the while Jason thought back to when all this had started, how he had wound up in the situation that he was in now. Ripped from a life where he had no real purpose, to a whole new existence filled with terror and danger around every corner where he needed to be resourceful and a quick thinker.
It had happened so suddently...and he definitely didn't see it coming...
X Months Prior X
23-year-old Jason Harlow opened his eyes slowly, his vision slowly swimming back into focus as he yawned loudly before sitting up on the small couch of his one bedroom apartment. The tv had been left on and was currently showing the main menu of the latest season of The Walking Dead that he had bought the day before, his Xbox 360 humming loudly in the quiet living room.
Standing up, he bent back a bit until he felt his back pop in a few places, stretching his arms to the sides to wake them up. The clock on the wall above the entertainment center read that it was 9:33AM and reminded him that he had to be at work in another hour.
"Damn, last time I stay up all night catching up on the series." he muttered to himself, walking over to the game system and switching it off before heading into the bathroom to finish waking up and getting ready for the day.
His apartment was small, but comfortable for just him. He'd been living in Chicago for the last two years on his own after dropping out of college. An action that had caused a lot of friction between him and his family.
The Harlows were a very well off family, Jason was the middle child with an older brother who was in school to be a neurosurgeon and a little sister who would be graduating at the top of her class in high-school soon and had plans to become a lawyer. Their parents were well known in their community and kept themselves in what they believed to be the highest standards.
But that was something Jason didn't want to be a apart of. He was the black-sheep of the family, his grades in school weren't ever good enough, neither were his hobbies, friends or any plans for the future that he wanted for himself. His folks had plans for him and he didn't want any part of them.
When he refused to go into the profession that his dad wanted him to be in, he was threatened to be cut off from the family funds and would be left on his own. Jason just stared into his father's eyes a moment before turning on his heel, his dorm room was fully packed in an hour, loaded into his car and he was gone.
That had been the last time he had spoken to anyone in his family. He was sick of the mind games, the mental and emotional abuse, and the feeling of not leveling up to their standards. They wanted to cut him off? They failed to realize that he was very capable of standing on his own two feet without their money.
He found his current home not long after breaking away from everyone, finding a job at a local auto body shop that paid more than enough for his expenses while continuing his dream of being a fighter.
Even while in high-school, he frequented the gym for personal fitness sakes, but had found himself interested in Mixed Martial Arts and had taken to it like a duck to water. But knowing his folks and siblings would give him hell for it he kept it a secret, improving his skills and strengths whenever he could.
Now all these years later, he had been apart of several amature matches which had helped him catch the eye of several sponsors that would help him get into the professional circuit.
Stepping out of the shower, towel wrapped around his waist, he wiped at the fogged up mirror and got a good look at himself. The last two years had been good to him, his form a bit ripped from all the work and exercise he had put himself through which had caught the eyes of a lot of women that came through the shop were he worked and the gym down the street he went to twice a week.
Many would consider his life boring and mundane, but to him it was comfortable and had decided to live in the moment instead of stressing too much about the future. And despite his upbringing, he was instilled with a good moral compass and had a good heart because of it. Some would say he didn't have a real purpose in the world, but his reply would have been that he just hadn't found it yet.
After throwing on his steel-toed sneakers, a pair of jeans and a plain-black t-shirt, Jason went out to the kitchen and made himself a quick breakfast before leaving his apartment and heading down to the parking lot where his car was waiting.
"Hay Jase!" the blonde perked up and saw one of his neighbors/friends Mark outside his apartment smoking a cigarette. They became friends not too long after Jason had moved in along with Mark's girlfriend Abby. They'd all hang out once a week and just do whatever came to them at the time, the couple also went to all the matches the college dropout had taken part in.
"Headin' into work?" Mark asked taking another drag.
"Yeah, gotta weeks worth of vacation coming thankfully. I got that match two towns over and I need to be ready for it." he replied while taking out his car keys.
Mark smirked, "Me an Abby wouldn't miss it. You still coming by tonight? Mid-Season finally of Walking Dead's on."
Jason chuckled, ever since he was a kid he loved the concept of the 'zombie-apocalypse'. Watching movies and playing video games that depicted such events growing up, he held strongly to it even now. AMC's series based from the graphic novels was very compelling and he had been watching it since it first aired, he also heard about the game episodes on Xbox Live and had been considering downloading them during his time off work.
"I'll bring the beers, see ya later Mark." he said getting into his car and heading out for the day.
Back in his apartment, the young man's Xbox suddenly kicked on. The green power light located on the front of the device glowed brightly before it started blinking at one second intervals, a loud hum filling the room as it began working in overdrive.
It was around midnight when Jason dragged himself through the front door of his apartment. Work had been a bit rough, two cars with cracked engine blocks that needed to be repaired, another needed extensive frame repairs, and one poor bastard had cracked his rear-axel in half attempting to do off road tricks.
Luckily he had managed to get everything he needed to done, said his goodbyes to his friends at the shop before finally starting his vacation. Stopping at the store and grabbing a couple of six packs before meeting up with everyone at Matt and Abby's apartment.
The end of the mid-season finally was a one hell of a ride, and left a lot of them wondering what the hell was going to happen next. Jason personally wouldn't have minded squaring off against the Governor, give the one-eyed bastard a beat down he wouldn't forget before leaving him for the walkers to eat.
Jason shook his head and rubbed his temple, "Gotta lay off the zombie shit, now I'm thinking up non-realistic fantasies..." heading into the living room and dropping his keys on the table by the couch, he paused when he heard a soft, yet loud humming echoing around him. Looking toward the tv, he saw that his Xbox was on, the green light in the center glowing brightly and blinking every other second.
"What the hell? Didn't I shut you off?" he wondered, heading over to the console and finding the thing was almost burning to the touch from overworking. He pressed the power-button again only for the humming and blinking to persist. "Huh..." grabbing the remote, he switched the tv on and checked to see if something was malfunctioning.
The main home screen appeared, his avatar waving at him while standing on an invisible pedestal with all the different options surrounding it. A second later a window popped up covering everything. 'Download Complete' "Download? Must have been an update or something." Jason mumbled as he picked up a controller and canceled the screen, going into his hard drive menu to see what had been added.
After a few minutes he found it, in his Games section a new add-on had appeared. 'Walking Dead: Season One Episodes 1-5' was at the front of his selection.
Confused, Jason leaned back against the coffee table behind him as he tried to figure out how this was possible. He didn't pay for anything, his account funds were empty and he had no credit cards. "Okay...odd. Maybe I won some kind of online prize when I wasn't paying attention." deciding to just roll with it, he selected the game and started it up to see what it was all about.
Settling back and getting more comfortable, he perked up when another screen suddenly appeared. 'Warning: Malfunction Detected. Do you wish to continue? A: Yes, B: No'
Shrugging it off, he pushed the A button on his controller and making the screen vanish. His Xbox hummed even louder than before, so loud that it filled the whole room. Jason gripped the sides of his head, the device in his hands falling to the floor as a headache the likes of which he had never felt before ripped through his skull like a meat grinder.
Falling to his side, eyes clenched shut as the pain and the noise got worse, glowing cracks started to split open along the outer casing of the game system. The tv screen shook and sparked as one final window appeared. 'How will you survive?' The Xbox glowed brightly one final time before exploding in a large flash of green-white light, spreading throughout the whole room and making it too blinding to see anything.
Moments later, the light slowly faded. Revealing the smoldering husk of the gaming console, the tv above it cracked and no longer functioning with sparks coming out of it. The power all throughout the apartment complex had gone out plunging the whole building into total darkness and startling all of the residents.
Across the floor from the entertainment system was a blackened scorch mark in the carpet where the occupant of the one apartment once laid.
Jason Harlow had completely vanished without a trace.
Pain...that was the first conscientious thought that he could register as he came to. His brain felt several sizes too big for his skull and had the feeling of being crushed in a vise. Body feeling completely numb, making it hard to figure out where he was.
Opening his eyes slowly, his vision swam with various colors and shades before settling into focus. Jason blinked a couple of times as he tried to figure out just what the hell was happening.
Instead of looking up at the ceiling of his apartment in his living room, he found himself instead laying on his back in what looked to be a forest, a small canopy of trees several feet above his head blocking out what rays of sunlight that was streaming down on the grass he was now laying on.
"Wha...?" he mumbled as feeling started seeping back into his limbs. Flexing his fingers first, then his hands and feet, going through every motion to be sure that his whole body was still functioning properly before rolling on to his side and sat up slowly on his knees to get a better look around. "What the hell...happened? Where am I?" he muttered while gripping the side of his head, the pain from before still pounding strong before slowly fading away.
The songs of birds chirping in the branches above and the feeling of grass under his hands made him realize that he wasn't dreaming. Dreams weren't this vivid. With that in mind he tried to figure out how he had gotten here and where exactly here was.
Standing up slowly, Jason staggered a step forward and used a nearby tree for support as he got feeling back in his legs. "Christ...did someone slip me a roofie at Mark and Abby's last night?" Sweeping his glance along all of the foliage around him, he saw a small opening in the trees roughly ten meters away which probably led to a clearing, or hopefully civilization so he could find out where he was.
Finding his footing, Jason began picking his way along the uneven terrain toward the opening. "I swear, if the guys from the shop pulled some kind of fucking prank on me there will be hell to pay." he growled while climbing over a downed tree and continuing forward. He looked up and saw that the light had started fading already, from what he could tell the sun was starting to set somewhere in the distance.
"That doesn't make sense, it was midnight when I got home...have I been out for an entire day?" Jason wondered as he picked around a thorn bush. The snapping of a branch made him spin around and look back the way he had came, but there wasn't anything there.
However, the birds that had been chirping were now missing. In fact the whole forest seemed to be in a state of eery silence that had his instincts on high-alert all of a sudden.
"Hello?" he called out, looking everywhichway for anyone. When no one answered he turned back to the opening in the trees and pushed forward, his feet moving a little more quickly than before. Normally this kind of thing didn't bother him, he'd been hiking and mountain climbing before and knew all about how to be safe in the wild. But something about the situation didn't sit well with him, a forest shouldn't be this quiet, there weren't any animals, insects...nothing.
Almost as if something had scared them all off.
Shaking off the bad vibes he was getting, Jason walked through the treeline and found himself facing a more brightly lit section of the wooded area. More spaces in the canopy of trees above allowed more light to shine down revealing several ridges, hills and large stones. And off to the far left was a large slope that led up to a guard rail above.
A smirk lit up his face, a guard rail ment a road, and a road meant a way back home. He started moving around the trees and rocks while making his way toward the slope, rounding another wide trunk only to stop mid-stride.
At the base of the steep incline was the mangled wreck that had once been a police cruiser. The tail end of the vehicle was smashed into the dirt and crushed up toward the back window that was completely shattered, the roof was caved in and the driver's side door was barely hanging by twisted hinges.
Jason had seen a fair number of car wrecks similar to this to know what had happened, and the large grooves carved into the dirt all leading up to a torn opening in the guard rail at the top proved it. The driver must have lost control for one reason or another and went through it before rolling down the steep hill, coming to rest at the bottom.
Swallowing in an attempt to wet his dry throat, he approached the wreck and began looking around for the driver. It was even worse up close, the inside looked just as bad as the outside and there didn't appear to be any sign of the officer. However there was a couple of bloody handprints around the door and steering wheel.
Looking down to the ground, Jason found a small pool of blood in the grass. A 12-gauge shotgun laid next to it along with a stray shell that looked to have been dropped mid-load. "Looks like they were hurt...but why would they take out their weapon?" he wondered picking up the gun, the faint smell from the barrel telling him that it had been fired recently.
Going back to the car, the shotgun slipped from the young man's hands when he read 'Atlanta Police Department' along the side among the dirt painted on it. "What?" he brushed the dirt off the door to be sure that he wasn't seeing things and saw that it was still the same. He got to his feet in a second and approached the back and knelt down to where the license plate was located.
The tell tale white color and the image of a peach was easily seen amongst the identification number of the vehicle. And above that 'Georgia' could be easily seen in bold green letters. "Okay this isn't fucking funny!"he said standing back up and looking around, anger filling him along with confusion as to what was happening and why he seemed to be on the opposite side of the country.
A soft groan perked his ears up and he snapped his head to the side where it had come from. He saw a trail of blood that led from the car, a couple of meters away toward a tree that was surrounded by a small cluster of rocks.
And among the rocks was a man in a police uniform laying face down in the dirt.
"Oh shit!" Jason was moving before the words completely left his mouth, running over to the downed man and kneeling down next to him. The man had greying hair and was bald at the top of his head, his skin was ashen pale which was most likely caused by all the blood that he had lost.
"Officer? Hay officer!" he said shaking the prone man lightly to try and get a reaction. Jason pressed his fingers to the officer's neck in search of a pulse, feeling along the oddly wax-like texture of the man's skin hoping to find a heart beat.
After a few seconds of trying he pulled his hand away, feeling the blood drain from his face. "Fuck...he's dead." Jason muttered sitting back on his hunches, running his other hand down his face and taking a deep breath while he tried to figure out what to do now.
A groan from the downed man pulled him from his thoughts instantly. "Officer?" he asked touching the man's shoulder and leaning down to look at his face. The mans hand twitched and his head rose slowly-
He then lunged at the younger man, an animalistic growl coming from deep in his throat as he attempted to grab at Jason who threw himself back out of his reach.
"WHOA! WHAT THE FUCK!" he shouted, falling back on his ass and scrambling back as the officer raised himself on his arms. Half his face had been torn off revealing red-pink and still bleeding muscle underneath, a pair of eyes that were filmed over with a pale, blue-white color locked on to the young fighter as a rumbling groan filled with need and hunger rose from his throat.
"No..." Jason thought with his heart hammering in his chest and blood freezing in his veins. "No...their not real! This can't be real!" Bloodied teeth snapped viciously as the creature began crawling toward him. The fighter crawled back with everything he had, putting as much distance between him and it as much as he could.
Real or not, he didn't want to take the chance of the thing getting within grabbing, or biting, distance.
His back hit the side of the police cruiser leaving him with nowhere else to go, the creature continued to crawl after him, intestines from its torn stomach trailing behind it leaving another trail right next to the one from before. Jason looked everywhere for something, anything that he could use as a weapon, eyes landing on the shotgun he found before he wasted no time in picking it up, pressing the stock to his shoulder as he aimed at the officer.
"Stay the fuck away from me!" he shouted as the creature continued to draw closer. He pulled the trigger and was rewarded with a light click meaning the weapon was empty, "Shit!" he cursed before remembering the stray shotgun shell he saw laying nearby.
The undead officer was drawing ever closer, there was only a couple of feet between them as Jason searched hastily for the stray shell. Managing to find it on his opposite side, quickly jamming it into the chamber and racking the pump, he took aim at the creature as it reached out and grabbed his right foot.
Boom! The weapon kicked against his shoulder and the officer's head was blown open with a fountain of blood, bone and grey matter. Splattering gore across the ground behind him before the body collapsed with the top right half of the skull completely gone.
Breathing heavily, Jason tossed the spent shotgun aside out of his shaking hands as he looked down at the corpse. Dark blood oozing out of the destroyed head and spreading into a wide pool under it. "I...I'm dreaming..." he said to himself. "This has to be a dream. I fell asleep on my couch and I had too much walking dead on the brain and this is the outcome." He leaned forward and banged the back of his head against the car, wincing when he felt the impact but everything around him remained the same.
"God, what the hell is all this? How did I get here?" he asked himself for what felt like the eighth time.
While he looked at the now completely dead cop, Jason saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Looking up through the spaces amongst the trees, he saw a small form in the distance looking his way. "HAY! Get help! There's been a shooting!" he called out to the person as they turned around and disappeared out of sight.
The fighter pulled himself to his feet using the car as support, the sounds of shuffling feet and breaking twigs could be heard off to the right. Jason looked up and saw movement amongst the trees, a small group of forms moving into the light revealing several pale, rotting corpses staggering through the foliage. Arms raised and mouths agape as though they were looking for sustenance.
"Oh shit," He turned to the other side and saw three more monsters skulking out into the open, all of them drawn out from the gunshot and shouting that had happened. A pair of torn arms shot out of the shattered back window, handcuffs still binding the hands as they tried to grasp at the young fighter who stumbled back and tripped over the corpse he had shot earlier.
Adrenaline rushing through his system, Jason scrambled back to his feet before spinning on his heel and running full speed toward where he had saw the person in the distance. All around him more corpses were stumbling and shuffling their way toward him through the forest, hunger and the promise of fresh meat driving them while the fighter kept moving. Vaulting over rocks and a few downed trees as he kept a safe distance from the coming horde.
One corpse laid slumpt against one of the trees reached out to grab him as he ran past, one of its arms severed at the wrist with bones sticking out of the torn stump. Jason avoided it easily, but almost ran headfirst into another that had once been a woman. Its lower jaw ripped completely off and its right eye hanging from the sunken socket while it shuffled toward him.
The fighter snapped his foot up and kicked the corpse in the chest and sent it crashing to the ground, the back of its head cracking loudly against a stone and making it go still while giving him an opening to keep running. He reached the top of the hill and found himself facing a long fence with vines growing along the top.
With no other way of escape, the moans and shuffling feet of the undead behind him getting closer, Jason was low on options and decided to take his chances on what could have been waiting on the other side. Kicking another corpse that came up the hill after him and causing it to topple over three others that were behind it, he ran for the fence and leapt up, grabbing the top and throwing himself over on to the other side.
He landed with a grunt in the backyard of a two-story house and rolled away from the heavy wooden barrier just as the sounds of pounding hands could be heard on the side from multiple sources. Through the cracks between boards, Jason could make out the decaying faces that had been chasing him as they attempted to find a way through to get at him with more gathering by the second.
Just as the fence started creaking from all the abuse, several gunshots rang out in the distance catching the attention of all who could hear them. The corpses stopped their assault on the fence and looked off toward where the shots had come from before they began shuffling in that direction.
Jason watched from his position on the ground as the horde dissipated before getting back to his feet. "Okay, lets assess the situation." he thought running his hand through his dirty blonde hair while his heart rate slowly started going back to a normal level and keeping his eyes locked on the fence. "I somehow got knocked out and woke up somewhere close to Atlanta during a zombie outbreak. This is obviously not a dream...so what the FUCK is going on?!"
He racked his brain, thinking back to everything that had happened before he woke up in this place. Getting home after hanging out at his friend's place, seeing his Xbox on and reading about the malfunction...then there was a lot of pain and an explosion of light before everything went black.
"Could that have been the reason? It doesn't seem likely. A game system fries when it's overloaded, it doesn't explode and catapult people into zombie-hell." Jason blew out a slow breath before looking at his surroundings. The backyard he had fallen into looked to be apart of a suburban area, a covered pool was on his immediate right, a tree with a well-built treehouse on his left, and there was a couple of soccer balls and a red wagon scattered along the grass.
Turning to face the house itself, he saw all the windows dark and nothing seemed to be moving for the most part. "Alright Harlow, pull yourself together and worry about how you got here later. Gotta find shelter and a weapon, those walkers will come back eventually and you need to be ready if you get cornered." Shaking himself, he moved across the yard and stepped on to the back porch, approaching the glass sliding door and peering into the dark interior.
He could make out a couple of things; a small bar with stools separated the dining area from the kitchen, the living room was in clear view with the tv on showing nothing but static. All of the windows had the curtains drawn making it hard to see anything else that could have been inside.
"Hello?" he called out knocking on the thick glass. "Anyone home?" No response came after a couple of seconds. Taking a deep breath, Jason reached out and tried the handle and pulled it open with ease meaning it wasn't locked.
The fighter slowly stepped through the opening, body tense like a spring ready to snap in the off chance something jumped out at him. "I'm coming in, not here to cause trouble, just looking for help." he said into the seemingly empty house. Closing the door behind him, he got a better look around the homes interior seeing overturned furniture and various things thrown all over the place. The kitchen floor close to the bar had a large pool of blood with even more streaked along the wall.
"Christ, I think these folks need more help than I do." he thought with a slight shiver at the fate these people probably suffered from. Going farther inside, he decided to check the kitchen first. Stepping past the bar where a child's coloring book and crayons were scattered on the surface which made a feeling of dread fill his stomach, he approached the pool of blood finding it mostly dried with an array of foot and handprints along the tiled floor.
"Jesus," the fighter muttered as he skirted around it and entered the kitchen. All of the cabinets and drawers were pulled open, some of their contents spilled across the floor. He managed to find a butcher knife sticking out of the cutlery block on the counter, checking to see how sharp it was and being satisfied he slipped it through his belt at the small of his back before going through the drawers that hadn't been pulled open.
The place was almost completely ransacked, any food or other useful items had already been taken long ago. Sighing in frustration, Jason pulled open the last drawer and found a walkie-talkie at the bottom. Taking it out, he gave it a once over before switching it on, a small thrill going through him when it came on. "Now we might be getting somewhere." he said to himself while slipping the device on to his left hip. With nothing else to go over he made his way toward the living room just in time for a loud beep to echo through the first level of the house.
Turning to his immediate right, he saw a bright-red blinking light on the answering machine along with a number three displayed on the small screen by the play button. "Maybe this will give me a clue about something." he pressed the play button and started listening;
"Three new messages. Message one. Left at 5:43pm:"
"Hey Sandra, this is Diana. We're still in Savannah. Ed had a little 'incident' with some crazy guy near the hotel, so we had to get him back to the ER and have it checked out. Anyway, he's not feeling well enough to drive back tonight, so we're staying an extra day. Thanks so much for looking after Clementine, and I promise we'll be back in time before your spring break!"
Jason clenched his right hand a bit as the second message started playing.
"Message two. Left at 11:19pm:"
"Oh my God, finally! I don't know if you've tried to reach us; all the calls are getting dropped. They're not letting us leave and aren't telling us anything about Atlanta. Please, please, just leave the city and take Clementine with you back to Marietta. I've got to get back to the hospital. Please, let me know that you're safe."
The feeling in the pit of his stomach got a little heavier, hearing the desperation in the woman's voice shook him to the core and made him realize the severity of the situation. He waited as the last message began playing;
"Message three. Left at 6:51am:"
"Clementine? Baby, if you can hear this, call the police. That's 9-1-1. We love you...we love you...we love y-"
It was cut off mid-way, but it was painstakingly clear. Jason picked up the small picture that was laying next to the machine, a smiling family with a dad, mom and a little girl looked back at him and pulled at his heart-strings. He set the picture back down and turned toward the sliding door he had come through before.
The fighter almost jumped as he shot his gaze down to the walkie-talkie down on his hip where a child's voice had come from, a little girl's voice. He pulled it off and held it in front of him a moment before pressing the button on the side. "Hello?" he asked slowly.
"You need to be quiet." came the reply. He started looking around the home in search of where the person on the other end was hiding.
"I'm not one of those things." he said back as he looked through the living room and finding nothing.
"Good." said the child as he moved to the dining room.
"What's your name?" he asked still not finding her anywhere.
"Clementine. This is my house." Jason let out a sigh of relief that the girl he had seen in the photo was okay.
"Hi, Clementine. I'm Jason." the fighter said keeping up the search. "How old are you?" he asked, keeping her talking to prove that he didn't mean her no harm.
"And you're all alone?"
"Yes. I don't know where anybody is." she said in distress. She took a deep breath before speaking again, "How old are you?"
He smiled before answering, "I turned 23 not too long ago."
"Where are your parents?" Jason asked, already knowing the answer as he walked back into the kitchen.
"They took a trip and left me with Sandra. They're in Savannah, I think. Where the boats are." said Clementine.
The fighter looked out the window above the sink at the backyard, "Clementine, are you safe where you are?" he asked while his eyes scanned every inch of the yard.
"Yes. I'm outside in my treehouse. They can't get in." Jason smiled, "Smart kid." He saw the door on the outside of the treehouse open and a small, tan-skinned girl wearing a dirty sundress and a baseball cap covering long, curly hair could be seen through the small space that was available.
"See. Can you see me? I can see you through the window." she said holding another walkie to her mouth.
Jason waved at her, "I can see you just fine, sweetheart. Stay put and I'll come out to meet you in person, okay?." He could just barely see the girl smile...but it quickly vanished as she backed away from the opening.
A moment later she screamed, "Behind you!"
He barely had a moment to spin around before what had been lurking behind him grabbed his shoulders. The rotten, decaying face of a female walker lunged for him, blackened teeth snapping as it tried to latch on to his throat.
"Shit!" Jason grabbed the creature by the neck, pushing back to keep it from taking a chunk out of him as it tried to pull him to its waiting mouth. The rancid smell of rot washing over him and making his eyes water while he fought back against it.
For a walking corpse in the process of decomposing, it had a surprising amount of strength as he fought against it. Managing to keep the walker at arm's length, he brought his right hand back and punched it hard in the jaw with a resounding crack.
The walker's lower jaw hung unhinged, head snapping to the side from the blow and losing its grip just enough for him to bring his elbow down hard on the monsters forearm, shattering the bones in it and allowing him to shove it away from him.
Shaking off the feeling of disgust, the fighter reached back and drew the large knife he picked up earlier and held it before him while standing in at ready position. "Alright you undead bitch, come and get it." he growled as the walker got back up.
A animalistic growl came from its throat, arm hanging limply at its side, before it lunged at him. Jason dodged right, bringing his knee up had into the walkers chest and staggering it before bringing his clenched fist down hard on the back of its head sending it sprawling to the floor.
Kicking the creature over, he pressed his foot down on its chest keeping it pinned to the floor while he held the knife in both hands and raising it into the air. The walker clawed at his pant leg with its good arm, trying to get at his flesh just as he brought it down hard with all his strength. The blade piercing the walkers right eye socket and going straight through its skull into its brain making it go still.
Releasing the knife and shaking the blood from his hands, Jason stood back at his full height looking down at the corpse. The realization that he had killed three of these things within the last twenty or so minutes weighed on him a bit, but at this point he couldn't afford to hesitate. One bite from one of these things and it would be game over in a matter of hours.
He still couldn't understand how any of this was possible, and until he figured it all out he'd have to rely on his knowledge on how to deal with the living dead and his training in the MMA to keep from becoming a statistic in this world.
A soft gasp pulled him back into the here and now. Turning his head, he saw the little girl he had been talking to standing at the opening to the kitchen, a hammer clutched tightly in her hands as she looked down at the dead walker at his feet.
Her hazel colored eyes looked up and locked with his blue ones. "D-Did you kill it?" she asked, stepping out of the way as the pool of blood began tp spread in her direction.
"Pretty sure something got to her before I did. But yeah, I got it." he replied before approaching her, kneeling down to her height and taking the hammer from her gently while giving her a smile. "Are you Clementine?"
She nodded, "And...you're Jason, right?"
"That's right." he said nodding in return. "Have you really been all on your own through all of this?" he asked more than a little worried for her state of mind.
Clementine nodded, "Yeah. I want my parents to come home now." she said holding her hands together and looking to the floor. Missing the wince on Jason's face as he remembered the messages on the answering machine.
"That...could be a while, sweetheart." he said solumnly.
Her expression seemed to become more depressing from his words. "...oh." The fighter's heart went out to her, the possibility that her parents were dead was very high at this point if it was like this all over the place. And she had been alone thus far, who knew how much longer she would have lasted if he hadn't come along.
A thought crossed his mind at that point, it was crazy given his own situation, but he couldn't leave her to fend for herself. Someone her age and size wouldn't last very long against walkers, and deep in his heart he couldn't leave a little girl alone like this.
"Look, I don't really know what's happening or how it all started. But how about I look after you for a while, at least until we find your folks." he asked making the girl perk up a little.
"Really?" she asked a little hopeful.
"Of course, Jason said smiling, "I can't just leave you alone, it's not safe with these things wandering all over the place."
Clementine looked down at the dead walker again before going back to him, "What should we do?"
The fighter looked out the open sliding-door she had come through and saw the sun start to set, "We need to find help and a safe place to be before it gets dark. These things will be more dangerous at night." he picked up the walkie he had dropped in the struggle with the walker before, slipping the hammer into his belt and stepping out into the dining area, Clementine on at his side as they prepared to head out back into the yard.
"Hold on," he said before turning and heading toward the living room. The young girl watched him pick up the framed picture of her family and tamper with it a moment before pulling the image from the frame itself and coming back over. Holding the picture out for her to take. "Something you should hold on to until we find them." he said smiling down at her.
The girl smiled back as she accepted the photo, folding it in half and slipping it into a pocket of her dress before reaching out and taking his hand in hers. They stepped out on to the back porch, closing the door behind them before making their way to a gate that led to the driveway.
Approaching the gate, Jason saw the road beyond cluttered with abandoned cars. And among them were two men attempting to push a green sedan with its front end smashed in out of the way. "Maaaan...I ain't never gettin' home to mama at this rate." one of them groaned as they took a break.
"This sucks." said the other scratching back of his head.
Jason reached to open the gate when Clementine backed off a little. "Hay, what's the matter?" he asked crouching down to look her in the eye.
"Should I stay?" she asked timidly. "I don't want to sleep in my treehouse tonight, but I don't know if I should leave. What if my parents come home?"
The fighter reached out and tipped her hat up and making her look him in the eye, "I won't leave you alone." he promised. Clementine's face lit up and she nodded, "Let's go somewhere safe that's close, okay?"
Turning back to the gate, they pushed it open and approached the two men as they went back to trying to push the car. "Stay close to me, no matter what happens okay?" Jason whispered down at his charge while at the same time keeping her behind him a bit. "Hay, you two!" he called out making them jump.
"Holy shit!" the heavier looking one shouted, holding his hands up in defense. "Don't eat us!"
"Relax," Jason said holding his own hands up, "We're not trying to hurt anybody. Just looking for a bit of help."
Both of the men visibly relaxed, "Phew, thought for a second there you and the little one were both gonna give us the chomp." said the dark haired one. "Name's Shawn by the way, Shawn Greene. And this is Chet" he introduced.
Chet smiled and waved at Clementine who smiled back shyly and hid behind Jason's leg.
"Jason Harlow, and this is Clementine." the fighter replied. "Either of you know what the hell's going on around here?" he asked looking up the street and seeing it cluttered with cars, discarded luggage and a couple of downed walkers.
"No idea, you've seen them right? They just came out of nowhere not to long ago, before anyone knew what was happening folks started eating each other." Shawn said looking around, "We shouldn't be out in the open like this. How about you help us clear the way and we'll take you and your daughter out of here and down to my family's farm. It should be safe there."
Jason was a little thrown off by the accusation, "I'm not her dad. I'm...a friend of the family. Came down from Chicago to visit and found everything like this." he said after a second or two.
Clementine sent him a look out of the corner of her eye while Shawn nodded, "Bad time for a vaction, but I guess it can't be helped concidering all of this." He shot a glance farther up the street, "We better get going, staying put for too long is a mistake."
"Sounds like a plan to me," Jason said looking down at his charge, "What do you wanna do?". She looked back unsure, casting a glance toward the front of her family's home before Chet started shouting.
"Them monsters comin'! WE GOTTA GO!" A small group of walkers started stumbling in their direction around the derelict cars. Shawn and Jason shared a glance before throwing their weight into the car they had been trying to move before. The sedan creaked as it started rolling back inch by inch. The fighter bent his knees and pushed with every ounce of strength that he possessed while the undead began to close the distance between them.
Clementine ran up and started pushing as well, the combined effort moving the dead car out of the way and allowing safe passage for the old red truck that had been stopped next to it. "Com'mon! We gotta go!" Shawn shouted as he yanked open the driver's side door.
Chet threw himself into the empty bed while Jason got Clementine into the passenger's seat. She screamed as one of the walkers, this one wearing a torn and bloody police uniform reached out to grab the fighter from behind. But he had been quicker, grabbing the creature by the back of the head and smashing it off the side of the truck hard enough to cave its forehead in and dropping it to the ground.
Noticing the dead man's gunbelt and his sidearm still holstered in it, he quickly bent down and pulled the Glock 9mm out before jumping into the truck. Slamming the door as Shawn hit the gas, the trucks tires squealed on the pavement, bashing the side of the car they had moved as they sped off and safely got away from the horde.
Laying his head back against the seat behind him, Jason took a few deep breaths. Body sagging as he felt the adrenaline starting to wear off. Clementine was on her knees in the seat between him and Shawn looking out the back window back the way they had come, seeing her house disappear as they drove farther and farther away.
"You know, for a guy visiting from Chicago, you sure saved a lot of lives today." Shawn said turning off the suburban street and going down the main road toward the country.
Jason looked down at the pistol in his hand, popping the clip out and was grateful at finding it full. "Just wish I could have done more." he said back before snapping the magazine back in place and flipping the safety on, leaning his head back against the seat and closed his eyes
The whole situation was FUBAR right out of the gate, without knowing how he got into all of this or even if there was a way for him to get back he was pretty much fucked no matter how he looked at it. And it wasn't like many people would miss him. Being estranged from his family, a very small number of friends and naturally being a loner made it pretty clear on that fact.
"Way I see it, I have two options at this point." he thought to himself. "I can either make due of the situation, survive to the best of my ability and figure out how all this happened. Or, I can just sit around and get eaten and rot like everything else around here."
He felt Clementine sit down next to him, her head leaning against his shoulder as she got comfortable in the seat. It was then he realized that it wasn't just about him anymore, he made a promise to her and he'd be damned if he didn't do everything he could to keep her safe from the walkers and anything else that would want to hurt her.
"I can't let her down, it's not just about my survival anymore." Mind made up, Jason looked out the window at the passing landscape. The sun dropping lower and lower in the sky, nightfall just about upon them. But at the moment they were safe.
But in a world like this...how long would that last?"
A/N: And there is the beginning. Love it? Hate it? Tell me what you think. And I'm telling you now, the reason that it's in the crossover section with the tv series is that I'm planning on merging the two together later on in the future. But that will come about another time.
I have also heard about SOPA 2014 attempting to shut us down again. Fucking bullshit that tries to destroy our 1st Amendment Rights. Me and my pal Wraith002 have already thrown our hat into the ring and signed the petitions needed to help put an end to this, so if you haven't yet, get to it. It's our right, so FIGHT FOR IT!
This is DFX, signing off for now.