There's a barn on the edge of Alexandria.
You can see it from your window, balancing on the edge of a bridge that extends from the walls of the town. A white cross is painted on the doors and someone indistinct stands on the other side of the chain link fences, baby formula and a ragged doll clutched in their arms.
You walk towards it, a trail of pecans and the smell of cigarettes and leather leading you down train tracks. There's a countdown clock ticking in the sky and the smoke around you isn't white yet. In your ears, the dull beeping of medical equipment mixes with a promise: Sanctuary. Community.
A prison bus full of cherokee roses follows you as you break into a run.
Don't look at them.
The answers are behind the doors, you know they have to be.
But the barn isn't getting any closer and the sounds of gunfire and laughter are taking over as you feel ghostly arms try and close around you. For a moment there's nothing but air that feels like home and safe and a thumb that strokes the back of your hand. Two kisses to the forehead and only two lives left.
A broken watch crunches under your foot and your knees buckle just steps from the doors. There are angels face down all over the ground, their wings tattered against the charred blackness of their flesh and you look up as a flare shoots into the sky.
Just hold on.
Everything aches but you force yourself the last few feet and when the doors of the barn suddenly burst open he's staring down at you, knife raised and adrenaline pumping.
The blue of his eyes is like drowning as he reaches out to touch your face.