Oh man, I just got my wisdom teeth out and I could sure do without all this pain. This will just be a quick little drabble from Rick's perspective, set somewhere far away from season one.
Also, just a fun fact about me, I won my school's senior poll for most likely to survive the zombie apocalypse. Silly, but fun.
One last thing: The Doc Manager loves to remove some formatting and words, and it is often hard to catch every mistake. Fingers crossed this story is an exception, but please be aware that there is a slight chance one or two words might me out of place or just not in a sentence. Thanks!
There are good days and bad days, and the good days are few and far between. Even now, in this world, 'good' means nothing like it used to. The little things that once meant nothing can lift the spirits of the group, and fill them with just enough hope to carry on until tomorrow. In the hot Georgia summers, a cool afternoon mist to wash away the sweat and stench is a morale booster like no other. Or snagging a young buck, or finding untouched fruit trees to chase the hunger away. Or finding a board game to pass the time in a new house, or stealing new clothes from the shops they raided.
But those are few and far between, and never have enough substantial value to improve the group's sprits for more than a day.
It's the bad days that stick out, and when it rains it pours: running out of gas, running low on water, not having any food, empty snares, damaged gear, dull weapons, and everything in-between.
Just the little things snowball into a tepid and nihilistic mess. When things get bad, usually the group can tell, but they never say anything. Everyone has bad days, and everyone copes differently. These days, it's all too easy to be bitter and to snap and shout at a soft and caring voice urging to look at the bright side.
On those days, Rick just doesn't want to deal with anything. Not with this world, the problems within the group, the outsiders who threaten their safety, the godddamn humidity, the constant state of hunger his people feel, and the constant threat of walkers.
Rick, being the leader, knows he can't put himself in the position to have his group angry at him for harsh and insincere words directed to the people who genuinely care about him. So Rick lets it fester. He takes watch almost every night, knowing he won't be able to sleep anyway, and when Daryl or Glenn insist he sleeps, he turns away from the group so that they may not know he's awake, mind racing a mile a minute.
This negativity usually starts as something small and grows from there. In this case, it was a hole in his favorite boots. Nothing big, and certainly patchable, but the thought that someday he was going to have to search for a new pair was not something he needed to dwell on right now.
And it grew from there. Wasted ammo, moldy food, a twisted ankle, and a few wild dogs later, Rick needed a break. Was it so much to ask for just three days of peace? No walkers, no feral animals, and a place to lay his head?
Of course it was. The final straw to his growing pessimism was found within an acceptable looking Woman's Club building a safe distance away from a quiet sounding suburb.
The building was of very basic construction, but there were two floors and boarded windows on the first floor. The second floor windows were reinforced with duct tape. Not the most efficient protections, but a good start. Also, with this being a club building, there would be with almost perfect certainty a large, open meeting place and a kitchen. Perfect for a group, definitely what the people who came and built up protections thought when they moved in.
After checking the perimeter, no footsteps could be seen entering or exiting. Now the gamble was whether or not the place was abandoned or filled with the dead. For the most part, it sounded quiet, which at the end of the day mean very little unless the group were to investigate inside.
After pounding on the door, movement began to sound, not enough to be a threat, but enough to be cautious. Kicking down the door, the stench was the first thing that hit. Weapons were lowered as noses were instinctively covered. Carol and Michonne, who were standing second string behind Glenn and Rick, saw first the bodies swinging from the rafters.
In a common area no larger than a hotel lobby, the club's meeting room is decorated with the swinging bodies of walkers who dropped to their deaths. Most are in the advanced stages of decomposition, some withered away so much that the head and body broke off of more than a couple and now are lay on the floor.
Rick just does not want to deal with this. He doesn't want to get up day after day and fight for some scrap of comfort. Was it seriously so much to ask for an empty and abandoned shack?
Well, of course. He doesn't even humor himself.
He takes this frustration out on the hanging corpses, cutting them down and slicing the brain. The hangers are more of a threat than the number of dead who shot themselves on cots.
Rick hacks his way through the main room, with the help of Glenn, Daryl, Michonne, and Tyreese. Carol and Carl start looking for supplies, and Maggie takes watch out doors, please she doesn't have to rummage through the stinking building.
After Rick's group joins up with Carol and Carl, it is Carol's gasp and drop of her canned goods that startle everyone else.
Upon further inspection, she realizes that the people in the cots don't have weapons lying down around them. They were shot, likely in their sleep (because who would agree to that?), and the bodies had smaller frames, around four feet tall, which look longer laying down.
"They put down children." Carol's head swam. She has seen this before, obviously, but this time she was not prepared. She picked up her cans and stepped outside with Maggie.
Michonne and Carl began investigating, and the others just glanced.
It was Michonne who said what all but Rick were thinking.
"We can't stay here." Michonne's typically strong demeanor looked sunken and defeated.
Rick took a deep breath. He didn't see how this was any different than the prison, but he did not want to start any trouble when it is obvious the whole group agreed.
"What about one night? Just so we can make a plan and search this place. There's still a few hours of daylight; let's air this place out and get rid of the bodies. Sound alright?" Tyreese's wide-eyed nod set the group in motion. Sasha went to comfort Carol, was feeling better.
As the sun began to set, the rooms were cleaned out and the smell still lingered, but no so much as before. There was nothing of substance in the building, and so the group made camp upstairs, where they found no death that afternoon.
As the group dozes off into the usual fitful sleep, Rick lays back on his back and puts his hands behind his head, looking up to the ceiling. The usual thoughts of frustration and anger float through his head. He is not surprised at all once the nihilism returns.
After all that has happened, and after all these people have been through, it is hard to not be bitter towards the hanging bodies who quit. They had a good thing going for them, but just not the mental strength to stick it out, to fight, to survive, to endure. Now, building after building, potential safe havens, have been soiled, destroyed, and made useless.
So what's the point? What's the point of wandering around and around, only to find countless other scenarios like this? What will be more detrimental to morale: living in the woods in camps just asking to be overrun, or living in a mausoleum?
How much easier would everything have been if he never woke from that coma? If the dead came for him as he slept, not unlike the elders eliminated the young adults of this place, he would never have had to deal with any of this. Not fleeing Atlanta, the Governor, the inability to help people he met on the road, the constant hunger, the struggle for sleep, for one single moment of clarity.
It wouldn't matter what happened to anyone he knows now, since he would be dead. He wouldn't even know about the world outside the hospital. He likely wouldn't know what killed him. Would he have been bitten, and left to turn? Eaten entirely? Or put down by the military in the hospital?
Hell, he's surprised dehydration didn't get him first.
If he didn't make it out alive, he would never have had a need to put up with this world. He would never had to do the things he has done. He would have been able to skip it all, and just rest in death. Rick is tried. These bouts of pure defeat that plague him from formulating a real, honest-to-god plan that can keep his people secure, safe, and comfortable, but at the end of the day, Rick just doesn't have a clue what to do or where to go.
Is it worth leaving Georgia? Maybe. Probably. But maybe not, since anyplace worth settling is now just a tomb for the cowards who couldn't think about anything more than just their current sense of doom. Rick doesn't blame them for offing themselves all at once in a place that could be of use, but it is just all so frustrating.
Could they just pick a place not too different than this and settle? Of course, but this world is haunted, and the ghosts of the old world have no place among the living; the living that are doing what the ghosts could not: endure.
It's so hard to not be bitter.
There you go! Just a short little thing that I know for sure would piss me off if I was in that situation.
Yes, I understand that this is not too unlike the golf club Daryl and Beth found, but I really wanted to focus on Rick and how he deals with this sort of stress and hopelessness, now that he no longer sees Lori or hears things.