Hello Lovely people. This one shot was suppose to be my entry to a challenge but I went over the word limit by about 1,100 words so I don't know if I can use it. But I didn't write it for nothing so I'm posting it anyway. The challenge was to write about something scary. I thought of a totally cliché idea and had to write it. It was extremely fun and even if I can't enter it, I hope you enjoy the read! Thank you for giving it a shot! =)
The fog had come out of nowhere, thick and seeming very alive as it engulfed the truck Daryl was driving. It was weird, to say the least. When they had left the town they had ran to for supplies the night had been clear with a full moon and more stars than he had seen in a while. Now he couldn't see five feet in front of the truck. Carol and Merle were the only two with him and he knew Merle would be the one to say something. Carol leaned a little closer into his arm but he couldn't blame her. This was serious shit. If he couldn't see then they couldn't either and they could run right into a herd.
"What the hell is this?" Merle grumbled as he leaned forward in his seat. Daryl slowed the truck to a crawl, unsure if he should stop or try to drive out of the mist. He knew the others would be worried about the three of them.
"No idea. It just came outta nowhere," Daryl said, his anxiety clear in his voice.
He didn't have to make the decision to stop because suddenly the truck died.
"Tell me you just killed the engine yourself," Merle groaned. "Just tell me that the truck didn't die in this goddamn mess."
If he wasn't more than a little creeped out himself Daryl would have laughed at the panic in Merle's voice. See, the thing about Merle Dixon was that he was pretty much fearless. Even in the beginning, the walkers didn't scare him. Nothing scared him. So hearing that little twinge of fear in his voice just then was slightly amusing and confusing at the same time. "It just died. You sure you checked everything before we left?"
Merle snorted. "Yeah, numb nuts! You think I'm gonna not check every damn inch of the truck we're about to take on a sixty mile run?"
"Well, you must have missed somethin' or we wouldn't be sitting here in a dead truck with a bed full of supplies," Daryl snapped.
He could feel Merle glaring at him but he kept his eyes on the windshield. The headlights went off then, like the battery just died. He cursed under his breath and watched as the full moon caused the eerie fog to almost glow as it poured over the glass. He heard Carol swallow loudly and when he glanced down he saw her staring straight ahead, eyes wide with her bottom lip caught between her teeth.
He wished then that Merle wasn't with them. He could have at least tried to comfort her if they were alone, not that he would be very good at it. But he didn't dare say anything with his big mouth brother in the truck. Instead he nudged her in the ribs with his elbow, which was pretty easy since she was so damn close. When she looked at him he offered her a slight smile. "We can either stay in the truck or we can just wait it out outside. What do you two think?"
Merle sighed. "We're likely dead either way if a herd comes through."
Daryl rolled his eyes. "Real nice Merle. You always gotta make shit worse."
Merle gave him a heavy look and then his eyes flicked to Carol. Daryl knew that Merle was about to say something that would make him want to punch him in the throat but there was nothing he could do to stop him. Sure enough, Merle didn't disappoint. "You know, darlin'. If you're nervous, and there's a good chance we're dead anyway, I got a few ideas up my sleeve that's a sure fire way to loosen you up. Hell, I've watched my share of uh... movies that start out just like this. What'cha say? A double dose of Dixon to kill some time?"
Daryl felt his face heat up all the way to the tips of his ears. Goddamn Merle! Like things weren't weird enough out here, he had to go and make it worse. And leave it to Carol to have a quick counter right there for the asshole.
"Actually Merle, I could go for a double dose of Dixon, but it'd be rude for us to make you stand outside while your brother does me twice."
"Oh for fucks sake!" Daryl groaned. "You two can stop now. This is serious shit!" Not to mention he was about to have some sort of stroke brought on by the blood rushing to his face. God, of all the assholes in the world he had to get stuck with the two that clearly loved to use him as the stick to poke one another with.
Carol huffed and looked forwards again. Her eyes widened and he quickly followed her gaze, blinking in surprise.
"What the fuck?" Merle whispered, not sounding very cocky anymore.
The fog was gone. They all turned their heads, trying to see what direction it went but it was just gone as though it had never been there to begin with. Daryl tried the truck but it was still dead. On the bright side, they could now see if anything was coming towards them. Daryl opened the door and slid out, reaching for his crossbow behind his seat with one hand and Carol with the other. He pulled her out and then shut the door quietly.
"Jesus," Carol whispered, pulling her sweater tighter around her. "When did it get so cold out here?"
Daryl shook his head, his eyes scanning the area. "No clue." He squinted as he noticed something about a quarter mile down the road. It was obvious what it was but he didn't remember seeing it before. Carol must have noticed the same thing because she pulled the rifle around and looked through the scope.
"Well, isn't that convenient," she muttered, handing him the rifle.
He looked through the high powered lens and sure enough, there was a house. A man noticed things like that now days and he could have sworn that it was miles in either direction before any houses should have came into view. They had just driven past where the house now stood and there hadn't been anything there but an empty field with a decrepit barn in the distance. "Did you notice that before?" He asked, handing the rifle back to her.
She shook her head just as Merle joined them.
"Might as well go check it out. Feels like it's dropped twenty degrees in the last thirty minutes," she said, rubbing her arms briskly.
Daryl moved so he was closer to her and she gave him a thankful look.
"The fuck is wrong with you, woman? Ain't you ever watched a horror movie?" Merle asked, sounding almost angry. "This ain't the time to get all curious."
Daryl and Carol shared a surprised look before they both looked at a grimacing Merle. Daryl spoke up before Carol could. "You don't think we've been livin' a damn horror movie for more than two years now? It's cold and we can check out the house and maybe get some sleep tonight. What the hell are you scared of?"
Merle balked at the insinuation. He shouldered his pack and glowered at both of them. "I ain't scared of a damn thing. I'm just more cautious than you two idiots is all. 'Scuse me if I ain't too keen on the idea of goin' into a house that we all know wasn't there fifteen fuckin' minutes ago after the truck dies for no reason." He stalked off ahead of them, leaving them there to stare after him before glancing at each other again.
Merle was a good ways ahead of them, which Daryl was grateful for. He leaned in closer to her, speaking low so Merle couldn't hear him. "You think he's right? Should we just try to get the truck started?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. Something tells me that the truck broke down for a reason. Isn't that strange?"
He slipped his hand into hers, squeezing quickly. "Yeah. This whole night has been pretty messed up."
She smiled leaning into him. Their strange relationship was like a tightly guarded secret from the others in the group, mostly because neither of them knew what the hell they were doing. They hadn't even kissed yet, but the small touch here and there, like feeling her hand in his now, was a huge comfort to him. To both of them, it seemed. It was too bad his ass of a brother had insisted on coming with them tonight.
Merle stopped, turning quickly. Daryl dropped her hand and stepped away from her. Merle threw his arms up. "Well are the two of you comin' or not?"
With a sigh they picked up their pace, joining him.
Daryl had to admit that the closer they got to the large looming structure, the more uneasy he became. He got a small amount of satisfaction to see that Merle was spooked but he was spooked himself and it didn't take a genius to figure out that Carol felt the same way. There was a driveway that had probably once been gravel but now it looked to be mostly dirt and overgrown grass. The building itself looked like the house Norman lived in with his dead mother on Bates Motel. The paint had long since peeled, the windows were boarded up and if it fell in on itself right now, Daryl wouldn't have been surprised.
"I swear to God if I die in this place I'm gonna haunt you two assholes so hard," Merle whispered, taking a step onto the dead grass. "Wait a minute..." He turned, glaring at Daryl. "You know what tonight probably is? We know that its near November just from the weather. I bet its Halloween. Makes sense."
Daryl was shocked that Merle was serious about any of this. Sure, it was pretty weird and it was scary on a different level than what he was used too but it was still just a house. "Let's just get inside and try to get some sleep. We'll figure out what the hell we're gonna do tomorrow."
Merle shook his head but followed them up the steps. The wooden porch creaked under their feet and although the windows were boarded up, the door was standing slightly ajar. When they were only a foot away, it creaked open a few more inches.
"Fuck you," Merle snapped, taking a step back. "Fuck you and fuck you and fuck this bullshit. I'm sleepin' in the goddamn truck."
Carol grabbed Merle's arm before he could turn around. "Merle, if walkers show up you'll be dead in no time."
He snorted and pointed over her head towards the door. "That door just opened by itself. I don't play around with shit like that."
Carol shook her head. "Our weight probably shifted the house a little, that's all. I thought you weren't scared of anything?"
It was a childish thing to say, to question poor Merle's bravery like that, but Daryl was glad to see that it worked. He wasn't fond of the idea of sleeping in there either but it beat getting eaten by walkers. Merle looked like he was going to tell her to go to hell but he finally just huffed and walked past them and through the open door.
Daryl shifted into stealth mode then, unable to focus too much on the surreal situation they had found themselves in as he checked the house for any signs of walkers. The three of them checked each floor, all three of them. They found nothing amiss, and that was the strangest thing. The house was in pristine condition. The furniture was old, antique and gleamed. The walls were clean, with rich crown molding that seemed to glow from within.
"Okay. Are you two seeing the same thing I'm seeing?" Merle whispered once they all met in the large foyer. "This place... ain't fuckin' right."
Daryl, regardless of what Merle would have to say about it, wrapped an arm around Carol's waist, pulling her further into his side. Merle had a point. He really did. But what other choice did they have? "We can't just wait outside, Merle," he whispered.
"It's clean," Carol said quietly. "No walkers. We should just go to bed and get the truck back on the road in the morning."
Merle threw his hands up. "That's the problem. It's clean. Too damn clean. I'd have felt better if we would have found walkers here. We need to get the fuck away from this place. I'll walk back to the prison if I have to."
Daryl shook his head. "Merle, the prison is thirty miles away. We ain't got a choice but to stay here."
"He's right, Merle. I mean, is this really any more creepy than living in a prison with walkers trying to beat the fences down?"
Merle scowled but didn't argue. He insisted on sleeping downstairs near the front door. Since the windows were all boarded Daryl didn't see any problem with him and Carol going upstairs. He actually found her up there, standing in the long hallway with her arms wrapped around herself again. She was looking up at a large framed painting. The house was full of them but he hadn't paid much attention to them. The flashlight shook slightly in her hands.
"You okay?" He asked once he joined her. She didn't look away from the painting and now that he was closer he could see the terror in her eyes. He looked up at the painting and his breath caught in his throat. He grabbed her by the arm and hauled her away from the painting, taking the flashlight from her trembling fingers.
"Daryl, that was... That was Sophia."
She was right. The girl in the painting was the spitting image of Sophia Peletier. The face, anyway. The girl in the painting had longer hair, curled and pinned and she wore a long flowery dress. The features were the same, though he had never seen the little look so angry before. There was a slight smile on her lips but the smile seemed sinister and the eyes were accusing.
"It's a coincidence. That's all," he said, forcing his voice to sound more sure than he was.
She nodded and let him lead her towards the first door. All four rooms up here were bedrooms. They had already checked them. As he reached for the door the flashlight turned in his hand and for a second it illuminated another painting. Daryl dropped the flashlight and took a step back.
"Daryl..." Carol's voice came out as quiet as a breath and she gripped his arm hard.
There was a dark haired woman in the painting, her expression matched the one on the face of the girl. Forced smile, accusing look in her dark narrowed eyes. And she looked exactly like Lori Grimes. "Nah," he shook his head, refusing to believe what he was seeing. "Can't be."
He picked up the light, shining it on the other paintings hanging in the hall. Some of the faces he had never seen before it they seemed to resemble people Carol knew. He could tell by her gasps and the tightening of her hand on him. There were several that he did recognize though, all of them members of the group that hadn't made it. All of them dressed in outdated clothing. He paused and took a step away when the light landed on a picture of a man dressed as a Confederate soldier but who had the face of his father.
"What the fuck is this shit?" He growled, holding the flashlight down so they weren't looking at anymore of the paintings.
"I think maybe the three of us will be okay in the truck tonight," Carol said in a shaky voice.
He was about to agree but his eyes went to something at the end of the hall. A chill far colder than the arctic air around them climbed up his spine. At the end of the hall was a window, the full moon shining brightly against the glass, back lighting the dark slender shape of a woman. She wasn't a walker because walkers were never so motionless. Beside her was a kid. He couldn't tell if it was male or female.
A startled shriek left Carol's lips when she followed his gaze and saw the same thing. With a shaky hand he brought up the flashlight. And there was nothing there but their reflections in the solid pane of glass and then they were hit by a cold blast of air. That was too much. He turned and nearly dragged her towards the stairs. As soon as he hit the top step he saw Merle running towards them taking two stairs at a time.
"Go back," Daryl shouted as he tore down the stairs.
Merle stopped, shaking his head. "Fuck that shit! There's people here. They ain't walkers and they ain't... alive! But they're fucking everywhere!"
"Well, I think they're up there too," Daryl said, passing him with Carol in tow.
"I told you this was gonna happen. You sons of bitches dragged me into a haunted fuckin' house and now I'm gonna get my guts ripped out by some vengeful ass spirit!"
"Shut up, Merle," Carol gasped once they hit the bottom of the stairs. All three of them squinted as the lights came on. The chandelier above them was blinding and what sounded like distorted Jazz music filled the house.
"You shut up!" Merle howled over the music.
Other sounds could be heard over the music now, that seemed to be fading to a volume that wasn't hurting their ears. The distinct sound of voices. Many voices. The three of them hurried towards the door but stopped suddenly when they realized that the door wasn't where the door was suppose to be. It was just a wall now.
Daryl's heart was about to slam out of his chest and his palms were sweating but he kept a hard grip on Carol's hand. They backed into the wall, all three of them glancing frantically around the room. The floor shone brightly, reflecting the chandelier, the walls were papered in rich colors that seemed to sway to the sound of the music and the voices went on, like a million conversations going on at once.
He could see his breath with every frantic exhale and the temperature was dropping more with every agonizing minute that passed.
"We're gonna get offed by some goddamn ghost," Merle muttered angrily. He suddenly pushed himself away from the wall and stormed over to the center of the room. "Well get it over with you dumb fucks! No sense in draggin' it out till mornin'!"
Daryl gaped at him, at a loss for words.
"Come on you bunch of pussies!" Merle roared.
The lights went out, the music stopped and the voices faded away. It was just the three of them once more, standing there in the foyer. "What just happened?" Carol cried, pulling her hand out of his grip and taking a few steps towards Merle.
Merle turned, the flashlight so the beam shone on the walls. The paper was dingy and peeling, above them, nothing but dead wires hung from the water stained ceiling where the huge chandelier had hung just moments before. When he shined the light into the open doorway leading further into the house he cursed and backed away. There were people standing in the other room. Many people, but none of them had a distinct face. Only pale skin and dark hollow eyes could be seen. There had to have been thirty of them standing there, silent and still; watching.
Daryl turned around then and almost collapsed in relief. The door was there, hanging off of it's loose hinges. He yanked it open and didn't have a chance to even take a step before Merle ran past him like hell itself was on his heels. Carol grabbed Daryl's hand on her way past and they ran towards the road after his fleeing brother. None of them looked back as they made their way to the truck. Once they reached it they all paused, catching their breath. It was then that Merle finally turned.
"Good riddance," he panted as he tried to catch his breath.
Daryl and Carol both risked a look then and he had to do a double take. He shook his head in disbelief as he squinted, trying to make out the house but it was fruitless. The house wasn't there. The only thing he saw was the moon washed field.
Carol shook her head. "There is no way all of that was real."
Daryl threw open the drivers door and ushered her inside. "It wasn't. As far as I'm concerned, that never happened." He climbed in after her and shut the door. "I don't wanna talk about it. I don't wanna think about it. Far as I'm concerned, we all three took the brown acid and now the trip is through."
"Agreed," Merle said quickly, glancing out the side window. "Now lets get the hell away from here."
Daryl said a quick prayer and then tried the truck. The engine roared to life and he wasted no time throwing it in gear. He didn't look back as they tore off down the road and none of them said a word about the incident during the drive back to the prison. Daryl was sure that they agreed, he'd take a walker over a ghost any day.