When she was a little girl, she would run through the woods for hours, pretending to be a forest fairy, flitting about, singing, making friends with the animals.
The woods were her playground.
Now, she ran between the trees of her childhood, every nerve ending on fire with a panic spreading through her system that was right at the edge of making her freeze while telling her to keep sprinting. Keep surviving.
As sunlight filtered through the trees, she knew she'd outrun them, but she had no idea where she was. She'd never gotten this far out on her own before, or with anyone else for that matter. All she really knew was that she'd been heading northwest from the farm and she hadn't stopped moving for several hours.
The barn had burnt in the middle of the night, so she figured it had been a good six hours of continuous moving. Her lungs burned, and her legs had stopped aching and felt like lead weights. Still, she pushed on. There was no way she could survive outside on her own. She didn't know enough to protect herself or hunt for food.
If she didn't find her family again, she'd die.
She stopped and stumbled to lean against a tree before laughing deliriously at her weeks younger self. The one that was so traumatized by seeing her walker mother grab at her and try and eat her. The one that thought she'd hit rock bottom and wanted to die. If she'd have known then just how serious it was, and that one day, she'd see true devastation and that she'd really have to consider taking her own life at some point, she wouldn't have attempted it before. If she'd been serious, she'd have waited and went for a gun.
She sighed and slumped against the roots of the tree.
No telling where the others were. They had never decided on a meeting point, never thought that the farm would fall. Then all of a sudden it was too late for plans and walkers were on them. Every man for himself, or better yet, every family for themselves.
She wiped the sweat from her brow and leaned her head back against the tree. It was ridiculously humid for daybreak, and if she didn't get something to drink soon, she'd be in for it. Her daddy always told her, "three days without water, three weeks without food, three minutes without air." She had no idea if he was just repeating something he'd heard or if it was a fact. Usually, she took her father's word as law, and with the uncharacteristic fall heat, she figured she'd need water a whole lot quicker than three days if she wanted to keep functioning.
With that goal in mind, she picked herself back up, checked the small knife she'd grabbed on the way out of the house, then began walking.
To where, she didn't know.
This story is going to be a big departure from what I've written before. It's a ZA AU, starting after the S2 finale. Beth is seventeen in this story and has a bit of experience and fire that I always thought she had, but we didn't get to see. The big difference is Daryl. He's twenty-three in this story, and I have a very good reason for this.
I wanted to play with his character when he was still cocky. I think as he got older, he got run down and jaded. You can't have someone like Merle for a brother and not have some false bravado and ego. I think he just grew up and distant as the years went on. I know a lot of readers immediately hit 'x' when the age gap is reduced because they think the author is making the story more palatable to all audiences, but that's not the case here at all. This was done as a exercise in writing for myself.
So, anyway, here's the new story. I guess it could be labeled as OOC. I hope you like it. If it's not your cup of tea, I understand completely, and here's hoping you like the next one :)