Disclaimer: I don't own AMC's The Walking Dead or any of its characters. Wishful thinking aside.
Warnings: Please keep in mind that this particular story is based on the current plot of the TV series, not the comic books. While I am aware of the general plot of the comics, I don't intend to follow them; I am simply building off where the first season finale left off. This story will contain spoilers if you haven't seen all six episodes, just so you are forewarned. Also, this story will eventually show indications of being pre-slash with a definite later focus on a Glenn/Daryl pairing. So, yes slash people. However, the first few chapters (hopefully) will have no easily definable pairing or slash basis and thus could potentially be read as general.
*There will be significant adult language and reference to drug use and drug slang used throughout this story.
Authors Note: Please read and review. I am excited to see what you all think. I am open to comments, advice, and constructive criticism. This is my second Walking Dead story so I am especially looking for feedback.
He had never been one to bemoan or carry on about what was said and done. The past was the past. Things had changed, and while they certainly weren't for the better, there was nothing much he could really do about it.
'Aint no use in moping and moaning about what you couldn't change. Made no sense And it didn't help you none either.'
Besides, he saw that as pussyfooting around reality. And that never did anyone any favours. A man had to face his problems head on, with fire and fight in his veins. And if necessary, spit in the face of fate herself in the attempt.
He had always been practical, if not slightly hot tempered, when confronted by a situation he couldn't change, and despite the impossible nature of the one they were all currently facing, that attitude certainly hadn't changed.
Reality was reality. Hell if anyone, least of all someone like him, could change that.
Instead his mind worked the options left to him. He was a Dixon after all, and the idea of certain death was not something they took lightly.
Besides, it would be a cold day in hell the day he, Daryl E. Dixon would face death charitably.
But even he had to admit that there were some things in this world that a man just shouldn't have to live without. Cigs, sex, and a few Mickey's of Tennessee Rye, Southern Comfort, and Yukon Jack come immediately to mind o' course.
But to be honest, if he had to name just one thing that he figured he had real cause to complain about, other then the obvious, was that he had damn well missed showering.
The feeling of being clean. The pleasure of being clean. He knew he would never take that feeling for granted ever again.
And this, thiswas the real thing.
Cranking the water up even hotter, he angled his face into the spray, breathing heavy and deliberate in the moisture laden air. Rolling his head from side to side in the spray, he let the rivulets of water stream unchecked down his face. And even as he bared his teeth at the feeling of the stinging heat, his hand moved blindly towards the dial again, turning it even farther to the left as the water pressure flickered momentarily, signalling that yet another of the others had succumbed to temptation.
Thiswas a real shower with hot water, water pressure, shampoo, soap, and even
those ridiculously large towels like they had in those fancy hotels on the television.
Gargling a warm mouthful of water consideringly, he turned, letting the powerful spray pummel against his chest for a full minute before he finally released it, spitting it out in one long stream as he ran his tongue over his teeth.
After nearly two months of lake water and barely luke warm wipe downs, this was like getting a taste of pure heaven.
He tested the various shampoos and shower gels until he settled on as few that smelled the least fruffy, letting himself wish for a moment for the brand new bar of Irish Springs he had left in the shower back at home as he glared through the spray and rising steam at the complex looking shampoo and soap dispensers.
And as he arched into the spray, seemingly unable to keep his limbs still throughout the barrage of exquisite heat and pressure, he rested his face against the callous roughened skin of his palms, letting the water beat down across the sore length of his back and shoulders; before he finally gave his mind its head, and let himself properly think about it…
To think about everything that had happened to him, to them, for the first time since the whole world had gone to hell.
As it had happened, he really hadn't had much time to think about it. Hell, he had barely had enough time to even react to it. It felt like he hadn't stopped moving, running, fighting, and pushing onwards since the deadheads first made tracks into his quiet, out of the way corner of the country.
In the end he had been forced to just switch off the internal soundtrack that was bleating like a gangly, newborn lamb in the back of his mind. It was a bloody, screaming chorus of panic stricken chants that insisted that this wasn't happening, that this wasn't the way his life was supposed to go. That this couldn't be happening..
And it had been as distracting as hell.. Mostly cause it was all true. How could something like this ever happen?
But he couldn't afford that weakness, so he had closed off. Sealing out of his subconscious mind with steel-like reserve, just so he could focus almost solely on the present, on what was right in front of him.
Except now he couldn't seem to hold it in anymore. Everything was tumbling out and spreading across his mind like marbles falling out from a bag. Feelings, emotions, memories…Everything he had seen and felt over the course of these past months. It was all there. And now, at long last, it was demanding to be properly dealt with.
Maybe it was the burn of that bottle Southern Comfort lining his gut, or the siren call of the rest of the potent Georgian liquor as it beckoned from the bed side table he had set it on before he had made for the washroom. But if he really let himself dwell on it, it was probably because, for the first time in a long time, he was actually doing something normal, something that reminded him of what he had lost.
The subconscious mind tended to b a bitch like that.
Bracing his arms against the tile he let the water beat down across the long, tired length of his back, revelling in the heat and rising stream. Already he could feel it, the feeling of caked dirt, gore, and layers upon layers of summer sweat breaking down, flecking and peeling off his skin to mar the pristine coral tiles at his feet.
God, that felt good.
The pounding water and the stinging heat was slowly reminding him what it felt like to be clean again. To feel human again. And for a long, ageless moment, as he stood slack jawed and half drowning admist the merciless spray, he was shocked to realize that he had almost forgotten what that felt like. He hadn't felt it; he hadn't felt clean since he had axed his first walker.
A person. A man. Someone who had meant something to somebody.
He had gotten over those types of thoughts pretty quick, but the stains had remained. Refusing to fade or even partially slough off no matter how many baths in the lake, or fire heated, luke warm rub downs he gave himself.
He had done what he knew was necessary. Necessary to survive. But that didn't mean that he had to like it.
At first he hadn't paid much mind to the TV and radio reports. The media was always over exaggerating and sensationalizing every god damned thing these days, no matter the situation or subject.
He had tuned it out for the most part, only vaguely acknowledging the few reports he did hear about the rumours of a new super bug, a virus that had all the doctors scratching their heads. In fact he had quickly deemed it as unimportant and of no concern of his, he had other responsibilities after all; the farm and animals wouldn't keep themselves. Not to mention Barry down at the 'Gas and Go Garage' kept pestering him with off the books repairs on vacationing city folk's cars.
It was good money for what it was, so he didn't complain much, and Barry generally left him to his own devices, alone in the garage surrounded by the sharp tang of mechanics grease and overheated engine parts while he tried to chase down his own twin boys, kicking the shit out of the long abandoned cars and rusted old tractor parts that lined his property when he realized that the two had gotten wise to their old man's temper a long time ago. Instead, they avoided their chores by haunting the vehicle graveyard behind the shop, preferring to page through old comics and stolen pages of Pent House and Playboy as their daddy worked himself up into a right and proper tantrum.
But the moment he knew shit was really getting serious was when he had flipped on the TV after work, dinner in hand, just in time for some CNN Special Report. It had only been a week or so after the first time he had heard about the virus in passing on the crappy radio in the shop, and despite the strangeness of the initial reports, he hadn't given the reports much thought since he had heard them.
Normally he would have just skipped past it and looked for some commercial ridden movie to compliment the half a six pack of MD he had chilling in the fridge just to pass the time with, but this time, the first few words out of the news host's ridiculously shiny looking lips immediately caught his attention.
"All Air Traffic grounded indefinitely across the continental US…"
"Health Care Centers are urging those between the ages of one to twelve years and adults fifty years or older to drop in their local clinic, now operating 24/7 across the country, to receive their free flu immunity boosters."
"The public is urged to take measures to limit their chances of infections to the virus by avoiding areas with high volumes of public traffic, including subways, ram and trail systems, bus and transit services, shopping centers, and other spots of public interest."
He watched for hours as the TV hosts and news reports came and went, as the computerized banners reeling in a circuit at the bottom of the screen, flew past with words like: "Infection." and "Virus." With flashing text that blared phrases such as "Extreme Contagion spreads through the eastern States. Avoid contact with the major cities along the Eastern Seaboard," across the screen like cries for help.
It happened only a few hours after he first started watching, interrupting a CNN report on the apparent riots growing in the Washington capital with a live broadcast from Los Angeles. The scene behind the reporter chick, who was looking tremendously out of place, all dressed up a black pinstripe power suit, high heels, and perfectly brushed hair, was pure chaos.
He remembered blinking pointedly at the screen, nearly upsetting the plate balanced on his lap as he sat up straighter, his surprised eyes taking in the burning buildings that dotted the background of the shot for as far as the camera lens could pan out, occasionally flickering back to the street, to cover a live shot of the commotion happening all around them. The downtown core seemed all but alive admist a roiling mass of running, screaming figures. There was literally a crush of people that seemed to have taken over the streets; jostling and knocking the News crew about even as the camera kept rolling.
But perhaps what was worse was that every couple of moments, the camera would pan out into the jumble of bodies, and focus on the faces in the crowd. And for a few moments all you could see was their faces lit up with horror, their mouths moving, twisting with words and yells that the audio couldn't quite pick up admist the roar of sound around them.
…But the thing was, you could tell that they were screaming.
They were terrified, panicking, and running like they had a nightmare chasing at their heels.
He had craned his neck, straining his eyes into the looming darkness that seemed to permeate the background of the shot. And he remembered how he had struggled to see just what they were all running from.
This was the first time he knew of that they actually caught it, the reality of what they were facing on video. The first time in the Northern Hemisphere anyway.
The woman was struggling to be heard as car horns blared and the screaming in the distance reached a fever pitch. She was in the middle of reading a statement from the inundated LA Policing Force, who were reporting a city wide spread of mass hysteria, a rash of unprovoked violence and seemingly random attacks, when out of no where, almost faster then the camera could bring it into focus, she was attacked brutally from behind.
The microphone went flying, garbled before it even hit the ground with a stream of low base sounds. And it took a moment to recognize the sounds for what they were, a chorus of groans and moans that all by overwhelmed his crappy television speakers, growing and growing in volume until it cut out the sounds of the sirens blaring in the distance, punctuated only by her terrified screams, and the angry yells of her partner holding the camera as Los Angeles, the city of Angels, burned around them.
But the man didn't even have a chance to put down the camera and help, because he met the same fate only a few seconds later, with both of them going down in a gritty hail of flying limbs and kicked up gravel. It was all captured by another camera that had been erected on a tripod in front of where the cameraman had been filming, with the broadcast automatically switching feeds to that last remaining camera even as the large one the camera man had been holding hit the ground, immediately lost in a sea of bloody pant legs and gore encrusted shoes.
He had swallowed hard, tasting the traitorous tang of bile building in the back of his throat. What in the seven circles of hell..?
Even at the time, despite being startled and admitted somewhat glued to his seat, fascinated by what was happening on the screen much in the same strange way that people will often crane their necks to see the scene of a car accident, uncertain if this was just some sort of hoax or an angry mob gone wrong, he remembered thinking that there was something seriously not right here.
People…groups of people didn't act like that, virus or no virus. That just wasn't right. It looked more like watching a pack of rabid animals..
It wasn't until red starting flecking the camera lens, the tripod swinging jerkily and finally falling over completely, as more and more crazed people piled on top of those that had already completely covered the two screaming news reporters, that he realized what was actually happening.
They were fucking eating them.
He remembered how he had sprang from his chair, sending his plate piled with leftover pizza and hot wings flying, cursing a blue streak at the television in disgust and confusion. Not even noticing as the broadcast was abruptly cut off and the CNN host was back on the air, visible struggling to regain his composure as a chorus of angry conversation rose in the background of the studio.
What the bloody fuck was going on!
All those reports in the last few weeks, stories half shrouded in mistruths and uncertainties, only to be beaten down the next day by hearsay, for the first time suddenly rang true. Except now those impossible stories, those condemnations and rumours had begun to happen every single day. The TV, radio, internet, hell, even the damn CB's were alive and buzzing with activity.
And the words on everyone's lips were that whatever it was, it was spreading. Like a disease. Like a damn killer virus.
"US government officials report having lost contact with a growing number of embassies in the following overseas cities: Paris, France. Rome, Italy. Berlin, Germany, Athens, Greece, Wellington, New Zealand. Damascus, Syria. Tel Aviv, Israel. Kabul, Afghanistan. Nairobi, Kenya. Freetown, Sierra Leone. New Delhi, Hyderabaa. Kolkata, India. And Tokyo, Japan. Efforts are being made to establish contact. US Embassies in Canada, and Mexico remain in constant contact, and report slowly escalating problems with riots, and limited reports of incident or infection."
"Alaska reports first known instance of infection in the State, after a security breach in Anchorage International Airport. No further information has been broadcasted about this situation. Follow this continuing story tonight at seven as we cover the spread of this super virus nation wide."
It was the same shit that was getting repeated over and over again. Coming across on different medium and extremes, but it was coming in from all over the world now, as people struggled to come to grips with the sheer impossibility of what they were hearing. Of what they had been hearing whispered around the world for weeks now.
At first it had been only murmurs, a few words muttered in the night, spoken on the phone, or typed into an email, but soon, despite the absurdity of the claims, it grew. Spreading around the globe just like the infection had.
The only problem was that the disease had been faster. Much faster.
People were dying, and then getting back up...
..Only they were coming back WRONG.
"And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts
And I looked and behold, a pale horse
And it's name it said on him was Death
And Hell followed with him.."
Johnny Cash, "When the Man Comes around."
A/N: Let me know if you think I should continue!
Glossary: 'Yukon Jack' is a honey based Canadian whiskey advertised as the 'black sheep' of Canadian Liquors". It is a 100 proof (in USA) or 80 proof (in Canada) drink, and is known for its "macho image"