The tops of crags and cliffs, the air is thin

So we'll find a mountain path on down the hill

Eyes open. Eyes close. Open. Couldn't see. The light was too bright. Blinding. Painful to look at. Look away. Breathe. Trying to breathe but –

Meet me where the snow melt flows

It is there, my dear, where we'll begin again

Amelia stirred, consciousness coming back to her slowly, slowly. Creeping back into her, waking her up with a pounding head and tingling fingertips when she felt with every inch of her body that she'd rather stay down. Pulling her back to what she knew, even half-conscious, was a wretched, miserable excuse of a world that paled in comparison to her dreams, which had been much more pleasant. Empty. Void. But still miles better than the place she'd left when she fell asleep.

Was asleep the right word?

Try again. Breathe in-

Couldn't. Didn't know why.

Light from above let her see shapes in front of her, blurred beyond recognition without even colors to help her tell the blurs apart. She wondered briefly if it was because she couldn't see them or because there weren't any. Nothing moved. The room was silent. Wherever she was, she was alone. Try again. Her breath got caught, snared by something in her windpipe, something blocking the way. Something deep in her chest wouldn't allow air to pass in or out and she felt a sickening, painful twist roll up from the pit of her stomach –

She threw herself forward onto her knees – she didn't get far, she realized, because her right arm had been restrained – and retched. Something heavy and vile came out of her. It was the color of molasses, and just as thick. It gathered in a puddle that began to spread, soaking into the knees of her pants. Her cough was wet and stubborn. Something was in her lungs, her stomach, she didn't fucking know. She didn't know anything other than that it wouldn't get out. She was struck with a sudden fear that she'd never get it out, that she was going to die here-

-didn't she already do that?-

-on the floor, handcuffed to a radiator and suffocating with lungs full of tar.

She puked again. Acid burned a trail from her stomach to her throat, lighting her entire body on fire in its wake. She coughed again, so hard she started shaking. The sound she made was raw and desperate and with one final retch she threw up the last of what was inside of her and took a deep, shuddering breath, her gratitude for it bringing tears to her eyes. She shook, and cried, her breath violent and ragged. She felt empty, not just of the poison that had been inside her but of everything, period. She felt hollow. As close to nonexistent as she'd ever felt in her life. All she knew was pain, and confusion, and vague relief.

She rocked back on her heels, and immediately failed to keep her balance and fell back against the wall. Her muscles screamed with every move, louder and harder when she hit the wall. They burned, she realized. Like something volatile and searing-hot was running through her veins. A sharp pain in her head made her think that someone must have hit her with a blunt object, before she realized the pain was internal. A throbbing fist pounding on the inside of her skull while she numbly took in the empty room around her. A jewelry store, if she had to guess. Or what was left of one.

No. Asleep was not the right word.

Words came back to her, a frantic train of memories colliding with her damaged brain. Familiar faces and her own words all recurring in a bright and terrible flashbulb.

"-you have to go, Clem-"

"-no! Please come with me-"

"-keep that hair short-"

"-please don't be one of them-"

"-have to find Christa and-"

"-I love you…so much-"

"Don't be afraid."

Amelia sat up with enough force that her cuffed wrist jerked against the radiator. The clang echoed against the concrete floors as she audibly gasped, falling prey to the slow, cruel realization that she was far, far too late. She heard walkers and smelled blood that the pain in her side told her belonged to her, that she should do something about it but-

"Clem." Her heart had picked up, adrenaline making her jittery, anxious, irritable. Giving her too much energy and an irresistible urge – no, a need – to burn it off before it drove her insane. She said it again, louder and more pleading, as if sounding more desperate would do the trick. As if Clementine would come back through the door in the security booth, and give her a hug despite the muck all over her clothes, and tell her she had nothing to worry about, nothing to be afraid of because she never left. "Clem?"

But the world didn't work like that. Reality didn't respond to desperation like that, didn't take mercy on people with nothing left but instead took it as the perfect opportunity to finish them off.

She had to get out. Now.