A lone raindrop slid down the gentle curve of her face, leaving a cool path in its wake. It split in two, then continued to her neck. Beth reached up to wipe it off, peering at it in surprise. She couldn't recall the last time it had rained. Had it been before the farm was overrun? She wasn't sure, not in the least, because time didn't seem to hold much importance anymore. Beth looked up to the sky, hoping for another refreshing drop of water to soothe her sweating form. The sky was flushed pink, blurred by the tiny rain droplets piercing the air. It was pouring, and suddenly very cold. She wrapped her arms around herself to keep warm, something seeming very off. Her vision became distorted, seeing shapes moving in the distance. Another raindrop caressed her face.
Beth awoke, releasing a desperate, wheezing gasp. Her hand quickly clapped over her mouth, quieting her ragged breaths. She laid deathly still, fearful that she may have alerted someone or something of her presence. She took in her moonlit surroundings, remembering the previous night. The first shelter she come to –a farm house– had looked so comforting. It provided such a sense of familiarity that she couldn't bear to pass it by. Waves of nostalgia overcame Beth as she brushed her hand against the pleasantly smooth wooden floor, recognizing the cedar from her own home. She thought of all the nights that her Daddy spent polishing the wood, kneeling on the floor with a rag in his hand. As soon as she saw him, she would hurry to help, not being able to stand the thought of her aging father working so hard. He just looked so fragile. And he was Beth thought. The Governor proved that yesterday. She rubbed at her eyes before she could cry.
Her fingers touched something sticky, and wet. Just as she lifted her hand to inspect it, something dripped onto her cheek, landing with a resonating plunk. Beth fumbled around beside her in the darkness, searching for the flashlight she found yesterday. She clicked the button on and shined it onto her left hand. A loud cry slipped past her lips before she could stop it. Her unsteady arm dropped the flashlight, sending it rolling to the side. It spun around the floor, finally pointing in the direction of a long mirror leaning against the wall. Within a few seconds, she'd managed to calm her breathing, and had regained composure. She looked around. The eerie white glow of the room terrified her, so she sat up and reached for the flashlight.
She faced the mirror, seeing a small crouched figure staring back at her, covered in dried blood. Its hair was tangled and greasy, its body hollow and pale from so many months spent inside. Beth froze, backing away from the being, which mimicked her motions. A tear escaped her glossy eyes when she realized the figure was her.
She felt another drip land on her, trailing down her bare shoulder. She bent forward and grasped the flashlight, tilting it to the ceiling. A deep red stain was visible on the plaster above her. A red droplet clung to the ceiling, slowly increased in size, then fell to the ground at her feet. Her heart was pulsing in her chest as she realized. Something was bleeding out on the second story. Beth wasn't alone.
She padded into the kitchen with hopes of finding a better weapon than her meager Swiss army knife. She pulled a butcher's knife from a block on the counter, then pocketed her much smaller weapon. Her entire form shook as she shined the flashlight up the staircase, then began to delicately ease her weight onto the first step. It didn't made a sound so she decided to continue upwards, all the while considering making a run for it. If only it was daytime, Beth thought. Then I could leave.
She reached the top of the staircase and came to a hallway. There was a small bathroom to her right, which appeared empty. Beth took a step inside and scanned its entirety, even forcing herself to check behind the shower curtain. Her light passed over the counter, glinting off a piece of metal. She took a step closer, examining the bloodied dagger in front of her. The blood was still wet.
Beth backed out of the room, flinching as her sore body hit the staircase banister. There was a long, narrow hallway going in the other direction with a single crimson door at the end of it. She trembled as she walked down the foreboding hall, feeling as if she was being lead to a death row. Her breathing was heavy and loud as she came to the door, fingers gripping the doorknob. She turned her wrist and pushed. The flashlight's unsteady beam of light ended in the center of the room.
She gulped, looking at the bloodstained walker in front of her. It released a feral snarl as it tried to grab her, flailing savagely on the ground. Beth wondered why it hadn't come for her yet, then her eyes traveled to its abdomen. A thick blade pinned the creature to the floor, holding it there in its own puddle of blood. She took a step closer, gripping her knife tightly. The walker's filmy eyes glared at her lustfully in the moonlight as she neared it. It was half a foot away when she bent to stab it.
The creature grabbed her ankle roughly until she fell to the ground, her flashlight flew against the wall then went out. Beth desperately thrashed her feet to get away, her heart pounding deeply in her chest. The walker pulled her body against it, dead clammy hands all over her. It was so dark. She could only make out the shape of her attacker. She let out a short scream as she forced the knife into the being in front of her, realizing too late that she had only pierced the neck. Narrowly avoiding its open jaw, the terrified girl pushed her foot against the walker's face as she tore the knife from its flesh. She brought her weapon forward again, this time digging into the skull. Beth had to use all of her strength to puncture the thick human scalp, but the blade met its target. The walker's arms dropped from her leg as she cried out in pain. Her hand had slid down the handle of the knife and was sliced open by its sharp edge.
Beth pushed the limp body off of her, cringing away. Her thin fingers wrapped around the flashlight and flicked it back on, focusing the beam of light on her bleeding hand. A red gash marked her right hand across the length of her palm. She frowned as she tore a strip of fabric from her flimsy tank top, knowing that without careful watch, the cut would become infected. She used the fabric to bandage it tightly, then looked back to the dead walker. Or at least more dead than it was a minute ago, Beth thought dryly.
As its vacant eyes stared back at her, she realized that she couldn't stay here. There was too much blood.
She retrieved the kitchen knife from the body then made her way downstairs. Aside from a faux leather rucksack and a few water bottles, she hadn't found anything of use in the bedroom. Once in the kitchen, Beth stood on her toes to search the cabinets. Her eyes shone with unadulterated joy as she saw a pack of granola bars and a bag of beef jerky. She quickly wolfed down two chocolate-flavored bars then swept the rest into her bag, along with the jerky. The remaining cabinets were empty, with the exception of a small flask in the back of the last one. She reached in to grab it, then directed her flashlight at the label.
"Moonshine," Beth murmured, quirking a blonde eyebrow. She vaguely recalled Merle Dixon chugging this back at the prison.
"Can I have some of that?" Beth asked quietly. Merle snorted and pushed the bottle into her hand. She brought the bottle to her lips and tilted it up. Then her eyes met her Father's.
"Bethy! Put that down! You'll go blind!" Hershel exclaimed, a look of disappointment on his face. Her expression drooped slightly as she returned the bottle to Merle, receiving a glance of pity from the eldest Dixon. Cheeks bright with embarrassment, she walked back to her cell. Beth sat on her cot, thinking, until nearly everyone was asleep. She heard the Dixon brothers walk by as she began to drift off.
"You tryin' to get yerself kicked out, Merle? Givin' Moonshine to the preacher's daughter?" Daryl demanded, his words floating into her cell. There was a moment of silence, followed by a hushed string of defensive cursing from Merle. "People like her can't handle that kind of drink anyhow."
People like her.
She glared at the label once more, shrugged, then placed it in her bag. She swung the leather strap over her shoulder and walked out the front door, shutting it lightly. Her bandaged right hand clicked off the flashlight and stowed it away when she saw the sun peaking over the horizon. As she walked down the steps, Beth spotted a metal bat leaning against a thick tree. She trotted over, picking up the bat and holding it against her shoulder. She fondly remembered playing baseball with Maggie and Glenn, back on the farm. Beth tucked the good memories to the back of her mind and walked along the dirt road.
She forced herself to continue for three miles until she reached a small rural town. The location seemed familiar to her; perhaps she'd gone shopping there before. Nestled in between a laundromat and a barber's shop was an old fashioned pharmacy. A sign above the door labeled the building Everett Pharmacy. The entire front was covered in a lightly tinted glass, concealing whatever could be lingering inside. Beth considered the risk of going inside. If she made it, she could take care of the cut on her hand and stock up on supplies. If she didn't...then that would be it, she supposed. Don't think like that! she scolded herself. Just a quick in and out, it'll be easy.
After a prolonged scan of the area, she sprinted from the relative safety of the woods path towards the pharmacy. The only sound was her sneakers landing heavily on dirt-covered pavement while she crossed the road. Beth huffed for air as she came to the glass door of the pharmacy. She peered behind her to make sure nothing was following her, then tried the handle. It was locked, obviously.
Beth pressed her face against the window, with hopes of getting a glimpse inside. Amidst a mess of medicine and overturned shelves, her eyes caught on a pile of arrows. She furrowed her eyebrows, trying to rid herself of an aching familiarity. Beth distinctly remembered seeing those arrows near her cell block, and she was fairly certain of their owner.
Drawing the bat behind her head, she hit it against the window with as much force as she could muster. A crack ran up the side of the glass. She raised the bat and brought it down once again, but this time the glass shattered. She covered her eyes as the broken window scattered over the sidewalk, praying that she knew whoever lingered in pharmacy. After a glance behind her, Beth hesitantly stepped into the entrance, glass cracking beneath her sneakers. She noticed that the arrows were nowhere in sight and looked up, coming face to face with a crossbow. Slightly higher was a pair of familiar blue eyes.
"Daryl?" she exclaimed, moving forward. "Is that you?"
"Keep still!" he hollered from across the room. Beth stepped once more and abruptly found herself pulled into the air by a net under her feet. Daryl, who was standing along the edge of the net, dropped his crossbow as he was also heaved upwards. A second later, Beth was pressed against his chest, dangling from the high ceiling of Everett Pharmacy.
"You dumb or somethin'?" he growled into her ear, trying to push away from her. "Thought I told ya not to move." As woodsy scent drifted to her nose, she leaned her head as far back from Daryl as she could. Beth blushed a bright red in embarrassment, cursing herself for being so clumsy.
"I'm sorry," she rushed out in a hushed voice. "I wasn't thinking." He mumbled something incoherent, then looked over her shoulder as he heard glass breaking. She felt him tense against her, then slowly lean closer, his chin hovering beneath her ear.
"Don't you move," he said quietly. "An' this time I fuckin' mean it."
Welcome to Along the Road! I've been torn between writing a Daryl/Beth or a Rick/OC story for a while now, but as you can see I've finally chosen. I appreciate any and all reviews. If you have comments or suggestions, please let me know. Also, I do my best to proof read but there could potentially be spelling errors!