Disclaimer: I don't own AMC's The Walking Dead or any of its characters. Wishful thinking aside.
Authors Note #1: Continuing on my crusade to write a fiction about each of the characters, this is my Merle one shot. I really wanted to get into his mind in the moments after his last scene in Season 1. What were his thoughts as he cut off his hand? How did he deal with it? How did he get off the roof? Etc? Look at this as a character study of a scene/s if you will. *Rated for "Dixon language," glory imagery, allusions to Merle's racism, allusions to drug use.
Authors Note #2: Please read and review. I am excited to see what you all think. I am open to comments, advice, and constructive criticism.
He sawed in three sets of five at a time. Prison had been good at that, at giving him numbers. Structure. It was one of the only things he had kept from those long, fifteen months. And now he used those same numbers to count it through. Fifteen movements, fifteen strokes. His hands tightened around the metal handle as he forced the tool back across the sparking nerve endings. Splitting the skin and digging downwards, grating against the rawness of pale ivory as he counted out the strokes in his head.
There were four hundred and fifty days in fifteen months. He knew that because he had counted. And he had sworn at the end of each and every one, that this would be the last time. That next time they wouldn't catch him alive…. He'd rather off himself then give the filthy pigs the god damned satisfaction. Because during those long fifteen months, he'd come to the realization that prison wasn't actually about rehabilitation or any of that cutesy, heart felt bullshit they give you on the six o'clock news. It was about stripping a man of everything he was, everything he cherished and held on to. It was about taking him back down to spare elements and fractured cells and creating a new man, a lesser man to stand in his place. A man they called better, a man they called cured. …It was a load of bloody horseshit and everyone knew it..
Back and forth…Back and forth…Back and-
He shook his head, not even noticing that the steady dribble of crimson had turned into a stream, spurting against the metal piping like water tumbling from a leaky faucet. Sweat dripped off the end of his nose, trickling down from his hair line in a low flowing river of uneven droplets that went airborne every time he brought the saw back into his chest. His scalp was already sore ridden and angry. Burnt lobster red by the unforgiving Georgian sun.. Didn't take much in this kind of heat.
Christ, he'd kill for a cold beer…hell a cold anything. Even his blood was hot, sizzling against the metal pipe as it speckled across the surface. Coloring the rusting metal with a new kind of finish. But he didn't stop. He couldn't.
'Close…So close.' A voice whispered, the wind picking up in time, ghosting across his ears like an intimate breath. Promising a type of closeness he'd never once felt in all his adult life. But he knew the truth about promises too. They were just empty things. Empty words. Promises didn't mean jack shit. Not like a strip of white powder and wallet full of crisp Franklins. At least the blow didn't lie. It simply was what it was, nothin' more, nothin' less.
The dead shrieked, groaning in the background as he worked, riled up by the scent of fresh blood and the sound of oxidizing metal as it scraped against jagged bone. ..Oh god..Oh.. They were pushing up against the door with a dry shuffle, the sound of that disgusting, paper thin skin brushing…echoing so loudly that he swore he was still tripping.
Fuck. He wished he was still tripping.
Because the dead were rattling the chains now, pushing and squirming, until the sound started to take on a life of its own. Folding in on itself and growing. It reminded him of the light, metallic shush of prison shackles. The sharp clink-clink–errt - clink-clink-errt as you short stepped your way in line. Hands cuffed to your chest, practically touching the man in front of you to keep from falling and taking the whole line down with you, going down like a set of god damned dominoes.
Christ, he hated that sound.
One of the fuckers growled in frustration, a meaty fist pounding against the metal door in like he could somehow punch a hole straight through it, the sound only growing as the others gradually joined the cacophonous chorus. Monkey see, monkey do. But he decided he didn't want to test that theory, so he sawed faster.
"Weakling!...Faster…Faster!." Another voice sneered. His eyes blurred. But he told himself it was just sweat. It had to be, Dixon's didn't-….
The phrases of a song he barely remembered flickered through his brain like the little headlines they used to have on those news programs. Streaming along the bottom of the screen with phrases like: "Thirty American soldiers killed in Kabul this week. Road side IED suspected." – "CDC reports the death toll from the unknown pandemic currently sweeping the globe has now reached thirty thousand. Estimates of hospitalizations due to this disease range anywhere from fifty to a hundred thousand in North America alone." – "Conflicting reports of symptoms cause mass panic and confusion amidst the medical community."
It was some pussy assed song he'd heard playing in Daryl's truck once. He'd been pissed off his gourd at the time, so he hadn't even thought to say something about it. Just grunting in affirmation when the kid had eventually switched the channel over to that old metal station he knew he liked. It was something by the Avett Brothers. Having something to do with someone getting murdered in a city, he couldn't quite remember. But he remembered enough of it to figure that at the very least, it was ironically appropriate. He hummed out the chorus thoughtlessly, sawing in time.
Awareness flickered as he slumped against the pipe, ignoring the burn as he reeled against the length of it, balance and perception going arse over tit as he blinked into the glare. There had been a radio playing in the back of his mind since he had run out of things to talk to himself about. But now it buzzed off into a storm of static that grated his eardrums. One of the voices went silent. Dying. But it didn't matter, because three more rose up to take its place. There were always more. They never seemed to leave him alone anymore. Not since…
They'd pay for this. Even that blond haired bitch. ..When he was done with her at least… Then she'd get what was coming to her..
This was their fault. All of it. Hell, he wagered it was probably even a god damned conspiracy. The others hadn't liked him from the start. He wouldn't put it past them if they'd come up here just to off him. After all, who wouldn't believe the story they would tell, especially these days? He half wondered if Daryl would buy it though. His little brother had always been a smart son of a bitch.
"…They had it all planned. Should'a seen it coming…" Another voice agreed. Its tone smug and practically dripping with consternation as it cut through the growing madness, pushing back the hysteria that was threatening to overwhelm him like a hot knife gliding through butter. It was the exact same tone that Daryl used to sass him with whenever he caught him taking a pinch. …Christ, his baby brother could be a real square sometimes. A god damned goody-two shoes.
The voices split. Someone nearby was whimpering.
A cracker jack. That's what his brother was. A parody of the Dixon name, the Dixon blood. Papa had taught him good, sure. But that hadn't changed facts. Daryl had always been the odd one out. The one that didn't fit. He was too much like their Mama, all kind hearted and sullen smarts. Thinking about higher things then he was worth until he'd seen fit to beat some sense into him. He'd done his kid brother a favor really. Dixon's weren't meant to mix. Not like that.
'…What's the hold up Dixon? Gotta go man. Gotta go.' The voices chorused. Rhythm, he needed a rhythm. He needed a track. He need that back and forth motion. Back and forth, back and for-…Goddamn. His muse was a mother fucking seesaw!
"Faster." The voices howled, tones pitching together in a hair raising chill. "…Faster!"
The bone was snapping now. Snap, crackle, pop! Wasn't that how the commercial had gone? But he got distracted when the agony flared again. The geeks bared their teeth and hissed, smacking their split lips at the sound. If he had still had feeling in his free hand, he would have given the dirty fuckers the finger.
That right assholes! No Merle Dixon on the menu tonight!
He left his hand on the roof, letting the hand cuffs free fall, clinking against the rusted connectors with barely a second thought. He couldn't bring himself to pick it up. He wondered if he would regret that later. Not much he could do with it these days though... He stumbled down a set of stairs, leaving the roof, the geeks, and everything else that came with it behind him. He went through the first unlocked door he found. Climbing up a set of wall bolted stairs and jumping across the small gaps between roof tops, lurching through one door, and then another, taking down a few deadheads along the way. Fuckers.
Should'a known better then to mess with a Dixon.
What did he need again? His head reeled. Spitting up bad ideas like blood curdling in the back of his throat. Hawking it to the pavement in a gluttonous mass of red flecked phlegm and a whole mess of other junk he couldn't be bothered to be concerned about.
'Something to stop the bleeding you stupid fuck.' One of the voice hissed. Sounding so suspiciously similar to Daryl that he actually whirled in place, feeling the distant crackle as the fingers on one of the geek he'd offed, snapped under the heel of his blood stained boot. Somehow he wouldn't have been surprised if it had. Daryl was always telling him to get his head on straight. Little brother always did have quite the set of balls on him.
Hand protected in the curve of his chest, he started down yet another abandoned corridor. The carpeting pockmarked with bits of garbage and overturned trays of long rotted food. Now that was more like it. He moved forward; wavering against the wall as the world shifted, vision blurring as he wiped an angry hand across his sopping face. Nails digging into the grit he found there like he was coming down from one cluster fuck of a nasty high. Hell, maybe he was. It was hard to tell these days. Reality was a slippery thing.
He grinned into the muted light as he was hit with the muted scent of old grease. It was the kind of smell that never really faded; it worked its way into the paint and the grooves in the floor, thick and pervasive. Grease…Yeah. He could work with that. Everything was going to be fine. Just fine. He would fix this. Make it better. ..Make it whole.
He'd show them.
It was only when he had the temperature up, flames licking up out of the grates in the grill that he started thinking about something other then the life draining out his wrist. Things like his kin, the only family he had left in this entire fucked up world. Because he wasn't going back, wouldn't, couldn't… Fuck the rest of them. He didn't even know if he could trust junior. After all, it hadn't escaped his attention that his kid brother had been conspicuously out hunting when the call for volunteers to go to Atlanta had come about.
A few of the voices snarled in disagreement. But he shook them off. Either way, Daryl would manage. His baby brother always did. Pretty boy. He'd always been mother's favorite. But baby brother didn't know. He didn't know how hard life really was. And he wouldn't, not unless he ever did time in the slam. Fuck everything. The kid didn't know nothin'. And all for some rich pricks front teeth. God it had been worth it though. Sweet Mother Mary's dripping left tit, it had been worth it.
It had to be.
Afterwards, when he let himself look back on it, he wouldn't remember the moments after he'd stuck that flat iron to the wound. But what he would remember was the silence. The blissful nothingness that roared its wake as conscious thought abruptly fled. And for a long time, even the voices fell silent. There were simply no words in the English language to do the feeling justice. In fact it wasn't until the burning stump seared. Pain colliding with his first conscious thoughts as the dying nerve endings curled, lighting off into darkness…That he came back to himself. He hissed into the high glare, star bursts dying behind his closed lids as his teeth pulled back in a silent roar.
Hail Mary full of FUCK!
His molars ground together. Grating against each other just like the bone saw. The one he'd left bloody and alone on the roof top beside his hand. An injustice and a victory left for the whole fucking world to see. Or what was left of it anyway.. He stumbled, flat iron clattering to the floor as the feeling in his good hand abruptly fled.
The voices coiled, tones melding together as awareness shuddered, holding on to consciousness by the skin of his teeth and he leaned into the coolness of the kitchen wall. Pulling the nearest, less nasty looking dish towel down with him as he slid slowly to the floor.
'Gotta go Dixon, gotta go…' A soft voice crooned, the pitch soothing and light as he wiped a filthy hand across his face, feeling the crusted edges of half dry blood splatter flake off and flutter down between his spread legs like rust colored rain drops. Another whimper echoed in his battered ears. But he pretended not to hear it.
It was better that way.
He had to hold back a yell as the crispy ends of his stump caught against the cloth. He couldn't scream. No need to advertise his position, even if the geeks were used to the billboard. Because could still hear them. Drifting. Sulking and shuffling just outside the walls. They were inside. They were-
He swung himself down from the fire escape, the muscles in his good arm burning sweetly. Screaming bloody murder as he finally let go, boots slamming against the blacktop with uneasy grace. It was shit like that that let you know you were still alive. He embraced it. The world might still be pitchin' him shit, but damn, did he know how to play ball.
He angled his feet towards the railroad tracks, belt fastened around the cloth covered stump that now hung useless and ginger at his side. And unbidden he turned his head towards the direction of the distant quarry. Lip curling as he spat to the side. As if the mere thought of the place was somehow viscerally repulsive.
They'd get there's. He'd make sure of that. Those sorry sons of bitches would rue the day.. He'd-…
The faint, slush-slush of the wind mirrored the rhythm of his footfalls as his boots scored an uneven course across the rough-shot gravel. Kicking at an over turned garbage can for good measure as he passed. But despite his ruckus, silence reined. Even the voices had gone quiet. Mute after the encompassing dark.
…All save for one.
It was one that he hadn't heard for a long, god damned time. One that was different from the others in a way that he couldn't quite explain. But he knew it. God, did he know it… Because it was his.
His. Right down to the low Georgian purr and flippant 'go fuck yourself' attitude. For the first time since the drugs, the alley juice and the county lock up, he realized that he was alone in his own head. The voices were gone. And the clarity of his situation was fucking blinding.
He stopped dead as a moving shape caught his eye. It was something that glinted dully, but undeniably metallic in the far distance. His stump twitched, pulse throbbing at his temple as he raised himself up. His back straightening with a worrisome crack as he moved forward. Because he knew what a single vehicle coming down the mountain…coming down that mountain meant.
…Oh this was just too good.
He grinned into the slowly darkening sky. Eyes flicking across the length of the horizon as the clouds rolled outwards, the skyline turning blood red and stained in the far distance. Looking carefully about him, he stepped backwards, fading into the rickety overhangs and back lit shadows of the old factory buildings that lined the out skirts of town. The city itself was already decaying. He could smell it, mouldering into quiet obscurity at his back as the jagged metropolis swallowed him whole. …Until there was nothing left to mark that he had ever been there at all.
The pull of his breathing went harsh as another, far darker thought suddenly occurred to him. He wondered if little D was with them. Then he wondered if his brother wasn't, and that they had come back to make sure that the black bastard had finished the job. Or maybe it was even worse. Maybe they had killed Daryl as he had dragged his catch back to camp. Figuring they'd go for a two for one deal and rid themselves of their Dixon problem entirely.. He certainly wouldn't put it past 'em. Not after...
…But either way he supposed it didn't much matter. He'd have his. If they'd offed his blood, well, that would just make his vengeance all the sweeter…
A high pitched chuckle got stuck, lodged somewhere high in his throat before it came whistling out from between his front teeth in a long, echoing rush. Sanity hanging on to the coat tails of his conscious thoughts as he pushed everything back but the feeling. The anger. The hate.
Because he knew what came next….
He knew what they deserved...
…After all, it was only fair….
A/N: Please let me know what you think? Reviews and constructive critiquing are love! I have noticed that the one shots don't seem to be as popular of late, so I am going to put this one out there. Do you want to see more one shots? Yes or no?
A/N #2: The song reference in the story is: "Murder in the City" by the Avett Brothers. Whenever I am in a particularly sappy mood it almost reminds me of episode three and four from season one and the play between Daryl and the small perceptions we get of Merle (both when he is present and when he isn't).
"Adversity introduces a man to himself." ~Author Unknown