Note: So, this is the final chapter of 'I Walk the Line', hope you guys liked it.
I already wrote the first chapter of the 2nd installment which will be called 'Ring of Fire' (Yes, the titles are Johnny Cash songs). I want to write a few more chapters before uploading it, so it's probably going to come out in a week or two.
All characters (except for my OC's) belong to AMC's TWD and to Robert Kirkman.
Like they settled, at 7AM they left the RV park. There had been a few undead that stumbled in their area, but they hadn't noticed the three live occupants until they were already in the car.
Once on the interstate, they had encountered several more car jams, but other than that the road had been pretty clear. If it continued on like that, Rick estimated that they would arrive in Atlanta in about an hour. They passed the time in silence, neither having the motivation to speak after their discussion last night.
More than half an hour in their journey, they spot a farm house with stables near the side of the road. They were 10km away from Atlanta so when Rick saw the car parked in the driveway of the house, he decided that they should stop for a rest.
Searching the house, they found nothing but a few corpses in the living room. It looked like the previous occupants of the farm house had decided to opt out, the father administering the finishing blows. Rick had left the house once he saw the bodies, excusing himself to check the car's engine. Alistair followed, the decayed coppery scent of blood proving to be nauseating.
Samara stood in front of the macabre scene, an unlit cigarette dangling between her lips as her eyes inspected the writing on the wall with disinterest.
God forgive us.
She snorted. God stopped listening a long time ago.
She pitied these fools. It was simpler to take the easy way out in a bleak situation because fighting meant pain, it meant hardship. It was seeing every ugly thing about the world and yourself. Why do that when you could just close your eyes, deny everything and sleep eternally. But they had been together. They could have fought through it. If only one of them had been left alive then she would have understood the fatalistic action.
With one last look at the family, Samara went in search for anything useful. Some blankets and clothes, a few cans of peaches and jars filled with strawberry jam. She loaded it all in the Jeep and then looked around for the sheriff. He was nowhere in sight.
Unsheathing her machete, she cautiously walked towards the car where he and Alistair were supposed to be. The hood of the car was lifted. Something must have been wrong if the sheriff left it like that. Prowling the farm grounds, Samara let out a low whistle. A moment later she heard Alistair's bark coming from the stable. Approaching it, she froze when she heard a faint neigh.
Slowly walking towards the stables, she found a sight that broke something between a cough and a laugh out of her.
—There was the sheriff, sitting atop a brown horse.
"I see you've decided to complete the set." She leaned against the stable entrance with a smile that actually reached her eyes for once. "You have the badge, the hat, the gun and now the horse. All you need now is a handlebar moustache and you're a true southern sheriff."
Rick chuckled. He realized that he was quite a sight, but he needed transportation. Samara wasn't going to give him the car so when the deceased families beat up family truck didn't work, he found the horse.
"I need somethin' to get me to Atlanta. This is the only thing I could find last minute." He patted the mare's mane. "Unless you could spare the car…"
"The horse will do just fine." She sidestepped the mare. "I didn't see it when we drove here."
"I was tryin' to get the motor started when Alistair just ran off. Saw him approachin' her in the fields behind the house."
"Did he try to herd it?" She gave him a flat look.
Rick smiled. "Yeah, he started circlin' her and guidin' her towards me."
Samara shook her head. Damn dog.
"The owners must have let the horses loose before…" He left the sentence open, not needing to state the obvious. "She must have never left."
"Do you even know how to ride one?" Samara didn't approach the horse, knowing better from experience.
"Not really..." His gaze turned a bit uncertain. "But I guess it can't be that hard. You just steer by the reins."
Samara gave him a flat look. "Just pray this beast doesn't throw you off."
Rick let out an amused breath. "Not a horse person, I take it?"
"I have no problem with them as long as I'm not riding one. They're not dependable."
"She seems alright. Ain't you?" Rick addressed the mare and patted it on its neck. The horse shook its mane. "I'll take that as a yes." He smiled, giving her a few more pats.
Samara shrugged and turned to leave the stables. "It's your call."
Samara was driving the Cherokee with the sheriff riding the hazel mare alongside the car. If the world were still normal, they would have made quite a spectacle.
The woman let out an amused snort, finding the whole situation ridiculous. But the sheriff wanted the horse, so he got the horse. It was foolish in her opinion. If he was going to walk into a wendigo infested city, he should have waited until he found a working car. Horses don't offer protection and when they get spooked they tend to throw you off the saddle. But then again, Samara didn't give the sheriff too much hope that he would actually survive Atlanta, horse or not. It was the honest truth in her opinion. The sheriff was going to his death because that's what cities represented.
It was a shame. Grimes was capable of surviving this world. He would have been a good partner to have until one of them died.
Rick pulled the horse to a stop as his eyes remained glued to the sight before him.
There it was.
He was finally here. After a month and a half since waking up alone in the Cynthiana hospital, he finally made it to Atlanta. Only, he never imagined this. The city…it was almost in ruins. Buildings were charred, some half demolished, metal structures sticking out in every way possible. Half of the main road leading to Atlanta was blocked by an extended column of cars – the side exiting the city. The way into Atlanta was clear of any vehicles.
There was an uncanny stillness in the air. It was like a historical Civil War site he had once taken Carl to—the area frozen in time.
Samara had been right. The city was dead.
Dismay slowly overtook his heart.
Rick came to when the Cherokee's engine got cut off. Samara stepped out of the jeep with Alistair right on her tail and took off her sunglasses. It seemed the image disturbed her as well judging from her somber look.
Rick agreed full-heartedly. This was a depressing sight.
Samara climbed atop the Cherokee and brought the binoculars at her eyes. There were no wendigos ahead even among the abandoned vehicles. She could see some downed unmoving bodies, but that didn't say much.
You don't need binoculars to see that, Rick thought.
"This is the farthest I go, sheriff." She jumped off the hood and approached the horse.
Rick knew that there weren't going to be any heartfelt goodbyes between him and Samara. He wished there was, he didn't want to believe that the last person he will have any sort of interaction with if he dies today would be the cold marshal.
They both stared at each other, silently communicating what they couldn't—wouldn't—say. One in fear of losing courage, the other in fear of showing that she cared even a tiny bit.
It's suicide. You will die. You can still turn around. Your family is dead.
There's still hope. Understand I can't give up. My family is alive. I will find them.
Samara let out a deep sigh and shook her head. The determination in the sheriff left her frazzled and sick to the bone. Alistair joined her and watched their exchange with flat ears. Even he, in his primitive mind, understood that something significant was happening.
A faint smirk broke her sober mood. "I'll be truly amazed if you make it out of there in one piece, sheriff."
His lips curved slightly. "Care to bet on that?"
"How about a bottle of vodka?"
Rick let out a small chuckle. "I'll keep you up to that. Could you do me a favor? Take care of Alistair. Don't feed him to the undead or anythin' like that."
"I can't promise that." She chuckled wryly, although Alistair didn't seem to find that funny as he whined meekly.
Samara placed the round sunglasses back over her eyes. "One last piece of advice, sheriff. If you encounter any hostiles of the human kind, shoot them in the head. Trust me, you'll thank me for it."
Rick nodded, but he didn't think he would follow her up on that suggestion. What reason was there?
With one last look, Samara and Alistair headed back towards the Cherokee.
"Good luck, Rick Grimes." Her soft, husky voice was carried by the summer breeze.
Ricks brows shot up. His full name now? He didn't know if he should be glad or worried that she had said it only at the end of the line.
He gave the marshal one last look before nudging the mare towards his destination.
Good luck to you too, Samara.
Samara watched from inside the car the sheriff's form getting swallowed by the concrete and metal of Atlanta.
Her green eyes were distant, already passed mourning for the man. She had known from the moment he decided to head for Atlanta that this was how it was going to end. There was no sadness here, only a sense of inevitability.
But…there was a part of her that envied him. She saw it now at the end of their journey. It wasn't weakness of him to keep holding onto hope in this bleak situation. Samara had been of the mind that the sheriff was stupid and insane for still wanting to reach Atlanta. Grimes was, in truth, stronger than her. Simply because he hadn't given up when the odds were against him, because he hanged on to the faint glimmer of hope that his family was alive. That he will reach them. Whereas she, a former Army pilot and US Marshal who had been in cluster fuck situations, who not two nights ago took down six people, couldn't even have mustered up the strength to move one inch in search for her husband. Shame crawled into her being.
She gave a small prayer to the Holy People to watch over the sheriff. Samara believed that Grimes was probably one of the last few decent ones still living even though he got on her nerves at times. And truly, a world with people like her running around was not such an appealing thought. Right now, what was left of humanity needed people like Grimes to give hope and lead.
Alistair whined again. He had been doing that since the sheriff departed. He was already missing him.
Samara patted him on head. "Come on, let's go."
With a sigh, she started the engine. She was about to turn the car around when Alistair's ears suddenly perked up. He placed his front paws on the dashboard and looked out the windshield attentively.
Samara killed the engine and listened. There was a distant continuous beat breaking the quiet of Atlanta.
Her eyebrows shot up. She knew that thumping sound. Had been around it for the most part of eight years.
Samara watched as the familiar form of a helicopter appeared above them. Her eyes remained glued to it as it flew overhead and towards Atlanta.
I'll be damned.
Foot Note: As I've said reviews and constructive criticism is always welcomed. I would also like to know if Rick was in character and not OOC. I think I kept him in character, but I would like your opinion. I don't want to mess up future stories by portraying OOC official characters.
Finally, big love to the all those that faved and followed my story! It made my day.