The bushes thrashed back and forth. A figure ran through the forestry from the mouths of death. Five of the infected chased her trail of blood. She felt as if she were a wounded animal running from a hunter. She was scared for her life. There were only two bullets left in her pistol and she had to make them count in such a dire situation. Her shotgun was out of ammo and taking on the five corpses with a knife was not an option.
She heard the infected creeping up on her, keeping in pace. Looking back at the decrepit faces of the walking dead, she saw their silver eyes staring at her with undying lust. She drew her gun and turned, aiming at the closest head in her sights. With the pull of her shaky trigger finger, the bullet pierced the infected brain just above the right eye of the body. The corpse dropped and the others continued to follow, not stopping for their fallen comrade in its dying moments. Their eyes continued to target her soft and warm flesh, making their mouths water at every instance.
Harli jumped over logs and rocks in the way of her fast travels, her long legs bounding as quickly as they could. The infected were keeping their pace with her and panicked even more as she started to lose her stamina. She had been running for miles trying to get away from the crowded, abandoned city. The very corpses that were chasing her had spotted Harli just outside the perimeter and had been following her since. Every time she would stop for a breather, they would catch up in absolutely no time. She had copious amounts of lacerations on her skin, both deep and shallow, that allowed the sweet scent of her blood waft through the air. She had no way of getting out of the jaws of death as the dinner bell continued to ring.
A stray root caught her foot and she gasped upon tumbling down a steep hill that suddenly appeared before her.
Harli crashed against the rough dirt and slid into a small puddle, coming to an abrupt halt. Pain riddled through her body and just as she tried to move her arms to get up, she had immediately fallen face first into the ground. Letting out a loud cry, Harli's hand grazed over the culprit of her pain, feeling, and eventually seeing, a thick stick lodged into her shoulder. She gritted her teeth and sucked in the pain, crawling out of the puddle and across the hot, warm dirt; the sun beating down on her skin through the veil of tree leaves above her. Loud snarls and hisses erupted behind her and she looked over her shoulder, seeing them all pursuing after her. But with their lust came incredible dilemma as their stumbling legs had a hard time stepping down the steep hill. Some fell and rolled to the bottom with a very slow recovery time.
The pain in Harli's legs from being slammed and scraped against the ground in her tragic descent from the hill made her crawl slowly. She groaned as she grabbed at tree roots, rocks, and moss under her hands to try and gain leverage. With a deep breath, she muscled out as much strength as she could and continued to crawl. The stick lodged in her shoulder drug across the ground as she, making the pain almost unbearable as it dug its way deeper into her muscles. Gasps and deep moans slipped out of her lips in the agony, every surge of pain making her slower and slower. Her skin crawled as she heard the dragging footsteps of the undead behind her and turned, seeing one of the corpse's only feet from her. It hissed and clawed at Harli as it closed in, waddling faster as the black decay of drool slipped from its yellow teeth. Sliding her hand into the holster on her leg, she drew her gun one last time, with one last bullet, and fired.
The corpse dropped to the ground, and once again, its death didn't stop the last three that were continuing her. Harli's eyes softened and she swallowed a stubborn lump down her throat, laying her head back on the soft ground. Her bright green eyes narrowed up at the carefree sky above her. The snarls made her shiver with guilt and fear as she knew the undead were closing in on her fast. But she didn't care anymore; she was tired of running. Harli was alone in the world and she would die alone. No family, no friends, and no life, once more. Her stomach lurched at a violent surge of pain in her chest, her vision growing blurry as the shock began to claim her conscious state. Harli had wished that she saved that last bullet in chamber of her gun to spare herself anymore unwanted agony. She felt tears well up in her eyes and the muscles in her neck tense up, one of the infected letting out a triumphant cry upon gripping Harli's leg with cold fingers.
As her mind fell, she heard a faint gun shot and a pair of unfamiliar voices crowd around her.
"Glenn! Go see if she's alright!"
A man shouted while running up with his gun blazing, the undead drawing closer the Harli lying on the ground. With their heads in his sights, he fired consecutively and blew out their brains, only missing one lucky corpse. Glenn rose his shotguns barrel and pulled the heavy trigger, the thick spray of numerous hot beads of lead piercing the corpses face and knocking it to the ground. Glenn knelt down next to Harli, observing her pain riddled demeanor,
"She got any bite marks?" Glenn looked over to see his group member, Rick, kneeling down next to her on the opposite side. Glenn shook his head,
"No, not that I can see. She's got this nasty wound in her shoulder though. It's bleeding pretty badly."
"That's gonna be a nasty infection if it goes untreated for too much longer." Rick observed the thick piece of lumber sticking out of her soft skin, his fingers shaking in anticipation to pull it out
"Hey, hey can you hear me?" Glenn asked as he gripped her uninjured shoulder, shaking her softly. She didn't open her eyes and her muscles didn't bother to flinch under his touch. He checked her pulse and looked up at Rick,
"She's still alive, but unconscious, probably from shock or something."
"Let's get that stick out of her shoulder and get her back to camp... we'll let the women take care of her for now."
Glenn hesitantly grabbed at the stick and pulled at it, hearing the slippery sound of it moving in her skin. It refused to come out without a fight. Rick huffed and took over, grabbing the stick and yanking it out with a hard pull. Glenn flinched at the grotesque sound of it exiting her skin and watched it hit the ground once Rick tossed it to the side. Rick grabbed one of Harli's arms and Glenn followed his lead grabbing the other and wrapping it around his neck.
The two pulled her up and dragged her along with them through the forest. They had trouble with her dead weight, but managed to make it through the shrubbery without too many problems. They hoisted her up a hill, over a couple logs, and across the deer trails they used to keep track of their whereabouts. They weren't too far from their camp and hearing the gunshots they fired off to save the woman probably made them uneasy.
"Finally..." Glenn sighed through his teeth as his shoulders began to ache. He saw the camp only a few yards away through the diminishing shrubbery, tents and small fire pits greeting them both as they exited the forest. Soon, the many eyes of the rest of their surviving group all fell upon them. Both curiosity and fear mixed together in their eyes at the sight of the unfamiliar woman being dragged into their camp.
"Are you two alright? We heard gunshots." Rick's wife, Lori, asked frantically as they two stopped next to the Winnebago. Her eyes searched for any type of wounds on her husband,
"Just fine, Lori. We need to get this girl in the Winnebago, somewhere more comfortable. She's wounded."
"Who is she?"
"We don't know. Glenn and I were out on our shift and found her unconscious with a bunch of Walkers after her." Rick stated, shifting Harli's arm around her shoulder as it began to slip on his sweaty neck. Lori stared at Harli with disbelief in her eyes,
"Walkers were after her? How do you know she's not bit and going to turn into one of those things!?" Shane, Rick's right hand man, walked up with obvious annoyance while pointing at Harli. He stared at Rick hard with anger and couldn't believe he had brought an outsider to their camp that had recently had contact with Walkers. Carol walked up with Andrea and Amy, putting her hand on Lori's shoulder,
"Let's take her and get her cleaned up. She doesn't deserve to be miserable like this." Lori nodded at Andrea, giving Rick once last glance. Andrea took Harli's arm from Rick and Glenn helped carry Harli's limp body into the Winnebago. They set her down on a laid out couch in the back, Lori and Carol retrieving their medical supplies.
Outside, Shane looked over at Rick with his hands on his hips, "What the hell do you think you're doin'? What if that's girls bit? You can't just walk around bringin' strays back to camp like little puppy dogs! We got too many people to protect as it is!"
"You think I don't know that? I couldn't just leave her out there... she was helpless! She doesn't have bites on her; me and Glenn looked her over and didn't see any." Rick defended with boring eyes and watched Shane stare at him with disappointment. The deputy only shook his head and walked away, not saying another word to Rick.
Harli felt warmth. Warmth around her body and a soothing feeling that there wasn't a care in the world. Moving her arms and hands, she felt a soft fabric lying over her body. Slowly, her eyes opened and for a moment all she could see was slight darkness. But it wasn't completely black around her. She saw flickering lights and moved her head up, seeing a warm orange in the window above her. Suddenly realizing she wasn't lying in the woods cold and miserable, she stared up at the ceiling of wherever she was in disbelief. Maybe she was dead?
As she jolted upwards, she gasped and grabbed onto her shoulder. Her teeth clenched together tightly and a groan slithered through them, her eyes managing to open to make a better vision of her new surroundings. Harli's eyes glazed over the small room, seeing a couch-like bed keeping her comfortable and new clothes keeping her warm. Pulling the collar of her shirt open, she noticed large bandages wrapping around her shoulder and stretching halfway down to her arm. A glass of water quickly caught her eye and her fingers grabbed it enviously, swigging the cold liquid down in three large gulps. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and looked out the window, seeing simultaneous fires and people crowding around the darkness. Her eyes widened in disbelief at the sight she beheld.
There were people outside and they were people that were alive.
She wasn't dead.
As Harli stood to her feet, a sudden wave of vertigo made her body wobble and her hand grip onto a shabby wall. She shook her head and walked looked down, her toe bumping into a hard object on the ground. Her boots stared up at her from the side of the bed and she slipped her feet in them loosely, heading towards to the door while keeping herself steady with the walls around her. As she opened the door, she failed to notice that the steps down to the ground weren't set up for human traffic. Harli's foot fell out from under her and her body met with the hard ground, a huff escaping her mouth hastily. She groaned and struggled to pick herself up, almost freezing when she heard footsteps next to her. Looking up to see who was approaching, one man with a scruffy face knelt down next to her,
"Are you alright? You shouldn't be up and walking around yet." His kind, southern voice asked and Harli nodded, taking a much needed breath,
"Yeah... I'm fine…" Harli felt his hand grip her arm firmly, yet soft, as he helped lift her up to her feet. The two men walked her over and set up a chair, sitting her down next to the comfort of the fire. Her skin soaked into warmth of the low inferno and kept the cold night air at bay.
"So what's your name?" She traced the voice over to an Asiatic boy wearing a baseball cap and staring at her with a slight smile,
"Harli... Harli Waldgrave." Harli replied softly while rubbing her arms, slightly uncomfortable with all the eyes on her.
"Nice to meet you." He smiled heartily and her head suddenly began to throb with a mild headache. Rubbing her head as it began to pound, she could hear her stomach growl with annoyance at the hunger growing in her belly,
"How did I get here?" She asked and she stared around at the many characters of interesting looking people around the fire. Rick looked up from the fire and his blue eyes trailed over at her,
"Glenn and I found you unconscious in the woods. We saved you from the Walkers just in the nick of time." He voiced and Harli looked to Glenn, who smiled once again and softly waved his hand at her. Her eyes trailed back over to Rick,
"Thank you both..."
"Anything to help one of our own." Glenn said and Harli looked back down at the fire, hearing that for a first time in a while. Rick then broke the uncomfortable silence that brewed around their larger campsite,
"I bet you're wonderin' who all us folk are, all us strangers here. My name is Rick Grimes... this is my wife Lori, and my son, Carl." He motioned with his hand. Harli looked over to a dark haired woman with large, blue doe eyes staring at her. She smiled and nodded at Harli, Harli's looked to Rick's son, Carl, who sheepishly put his head against his mother.
"I'm Shane Walsh." The other man, who had come to her side after she had fallen out of the large RV, said while his shotgun lied loyally against his shoulder. A pair of blondes smiled at Harli welcomingly,
"My name's Andrea and this is my sister Amy," Amy smiled and waved at Harli. Harli took notice to Amy's appearance, quickly noting her young age. A friendly black male, with a shaved head, manned a shovel to keep the fire at bay,
"And I'm Dale." Harli looked into Dale's dark eyes, seeing the wise and untold secrets in them as they sparkled in the firelight. He was the oldest out of the bunch and a scraggly, white and grey beard occupied his face. She looked back at Shane, who began to speak,
"That over there is Ed, Carol... their daughter Sophia. Morales and his family are down at that campsite. And Daryl's out huntin'…" His voice trailed off as his hand returned to his lap, his head shaking slightly. Harli looked up and around the camp, eyeing the large empty space behind the Winnebago,
"So where are we, exactly?" Harli asked curiously, tossing a quick glance over her shoulder at the other campsites of people. Dale looked over at her,
"We're about eight miles outside Atlanta. We're resting right on top of a rock quarry at the moment." Harli nodded at him and her gaze fell back onto the fire,
"I just came from the city." She said, causing Glenn to look over at her,
"That place is a living nightmare. I'm surprised you made it out alive."
"Yeah, me too." Harli looked over at him, rubbing her hands together. Glenn stared at her with curiosity,
"But when we found you unconscious, what was it from?"
"I had been running from the city nonstop… the infected kept following my blood trail and scent. I just couldn't get away from them. They have noses like wolves."
"So you led them up here?" Shane asked accusingly with nothing but a defensive tone. She looked over at him, rubbing her head,
"No… I mean I it's not like I knew your group was up here… if I did I would've ran straight in a different direction."
"Then that means you could've just led-"
"Shane, knock it off." Rick warned and stared over at him. Shane looked back at his friend, his jaw clenched tightly with annoyance. Shane stood up and left the warmth of the fire, grabbing his gun and climbing the ladder to the top of the Winnebago.
"Sorry… he can be a bit misleading sometimes." Rick apologized for his partner and Harli shook her head,
"It's alright. My dad was a bit like him, so I'm used to it." There was a tense silence for a few moments among the large group of survivors. Andrea then took that as her cue to slap her hands on her legs, lifting herself from her chair,
"Well, me and Amy are gonna retire for the night." She looked down at Amy motherly and Amy rolled her eyes with a sigh, standing up as Andrea already began to walk away,
Everyone in the circle around the fire said their goodbyes as each began to retire for the night,
"Come on Carl, Rick, we should start getting to bed, too." Lori said, standing up and staring down at her husband and child. Carl stood up and began to walk to his tent and Lori's eyes moved over to Harli,
"Andrea and I put up an extra tent for you over next to the Winnebago." Harli looked up at her with a soft smile,
"Thank you for being so hospitable."
"Anything to help one of our own." Rick repeated once again as he got up and followed after Lori to their designated tent.
Harli sat over the fire and watched the flames flicker back and forth for a while, observing its dying flames diminish later into the night.
The next morning, Harli woke up feeling better than she had in days. She had stayed up almost four hours after everyone else had retired for the night. In a sense, she felt groggy but still felt refreshed. 'It feels nice… knowing that I can be safe for once…' She sat up and stretched her aching arms, flinching from the pain of her shoulder biting back at her. Finding her boots and tying them up, Harli put on a fresh pair of pants and a shirt. The tent door unzipped under the influence of her fingers and she stepped out into the fresh morning air, feeling a bit wobbly. The cool air bit at her skin and caused a shiver to roll down her spine. The other survivors were meandering around camp, performing the daily duties that needed to be done. Harli walked over by Carol, who took notice that she was up and moving,
"Good morning…" Carol said, folding clothes on a large table. Harli walked up and stood across from her, staring into Carol's meek blue eyes,
"Good morning…. Carol?" Carol nodded with a slight smile as Harli got her name right. She handed Harli a handful of clothes,
"Here you are… I washed them after we cleaned you up. I figured they could use a good washing. I got all the blood stains out." Harli took them and looked down at them, rubbing her fingers across the familiar clothes she had worn the day before. She then looked back up at Carol, who continued to fold clothes,
"Thank you very much… I appreciate your help, especially with patching me up." Carol seemed to hide her face slightly with the shake of her head,
"It… it was nothing I was just doing my job." Carol said and brushed off the friendly acknowledgment. Harli put her clothes down on the board and grabbed a shirt, beginning to fold it. Carol put her hand out and stopped Harli,
"N-no, no, no Harli it's-" Harli grabbed Carol's hand softly and slid Carol's hand off hers and back down on the clothing,
"It's ok. It's the least I can do for you helping me." Carol's lips drew into a thin line and she pulled her hand back, staring at the clothing. A small smile brewed on Harli's face,
"If I'm going to be allowed to stay… then I'm going to have to do my fair share of the work. Am I right?" She asked and Carol grabbed some pants, beginning to fold them,
Harli heard the engine of a vehicle getting louder and looked up to see Shane driving crazily up towards camp. He jumped out of his jeep and a few of the group members ran up to him. He smiled with a triumphant shout,
"Water's here ya'll!"
"You can go help with the water if you want; I'll stay here to finish this up." Carol said with a soft smile. Harli looked over at her questioningly,
"Are you sure?" Carol nodded at her as she finished folding a shirt. Harli left her clothing and Carol to her business while walking up to the jeep,
"Remember to boil before use." Shane said and Harli stopped next to his Jeep, seeing Shane looking at her a bit skeptical. The two stared in a silent showdown,
"I came to help." She offered and watched Shane study her features. He then handed her a bucket with a slight smirk,
"Thanks… just take that bucket over next to the fire so we can get it all boiled and such." Harli nodded and took the large and heavy bucket, handling its weight without a synch. She set the bucket down next to the fire and walked back to the Jeep to retrieve another bucket.
Her skin went numb and she stopped in her tracks when she heard Carl and Sophia screaming of in the forest. Harli dropped her bucket, ignoring the water splashing everywhere as she followed everyone to the scene. Lori and Carol screamed their children's names, their legs moving faster than everyone else's' as they tried to follow the desperate cries. Jaque, Carl, and Sophia came stumbling out of the bushes, Carol and Lori yanking their children into their arms and checking for bite marks. Harli noticed men running into the bushes with their weapons gripped tightly in their hands. She followed after them to find the culprit of the children's fear and then stopped in disbelief at the sight before her.
A Walker hovered over a deer on the ground with a mouth full of intestines in its mouth. Rods in what seemed like arrows stuck out of the deer's body, showing that it wasn't the Walker who had most likely killed it. The Walker saw the ring of fresh food around it and stood up; its jaw gnawing for a fresh kill as it slowly began to get to its feet. It went after Rick first and Rick hit it across the face with the butt of his gun. It stumbled over towards Shane, who had rammed the end of his shotgun into the Walkers head. Rick, Shane, Glenn, T-Dog, Morales, and Dale all pitched in on beating it to death, the Walker lying on the ground and taking every hit to the body carelessly. Finally, Dale swung his axe up over his head and lopped off the Walkers head, everyone watching the dismembered limb rolling across the ground. The body went limp and crashed to the ground motionlessly; everything growing quiet.
"That's the first one we've had up here..." Dale said in disbelief while rubbing his head under the bottom of his hat. Glenn looked at everyone,
"They're running out of food in the city…"
"Wouldn't be the first, Harli did ring a dinner bell yesterday." Shane said gruffly and eyed Harli with an accusing stare. She drew back meekly and her ears caught an alarming sound to the side of her. Everyone turned at the rustling in the bushes and everyone readied their weapons for what was to come.
A burly man stepped out with a crossbow in his hands, ignoring everyone around him and only staring at the deer's ragged body. He had dirty brown hair and a pair of piercing blue eyes set symmetrically on his face. A scowl brewed on his lips as he took notice to the Walkers deceased body, his eyes now moving around the group that stood around and stared at him without a word. His eyes stopped on Harli briefly, his blue eyes narrowing at her unfamiliar face before looking back down at the deer, crawling out of the bushes the rest of the way, "Son of a bitch... this's my deer! Look at it, all gnawed on by this filthy," He began to kick the heartless corpse on the ground as hard as he could, everyone watching solemnly as he did so, "Diseased bearin, motherless…piece of shit!"
"Calm down son, that's not helping." Dale said as he stared at the man's barbaric behavior. He walked up to Dale,
"What do you know bout it old man!? Why don't you take that stupid hat off and go back to On Golden Pond?" He glared at Dale before returning to the shambles of what was left of his deer. He scratched the back of his head, circling the deer like a wolf, "Been tracking this deer for miles. I was hopin' to drag it back to camp, cook us up some venison." He then knelt down next to the deer, poking at the infected meat with his large, nine-inch knife, "Hey uh, do you think we can cut around that chewed up part right there?"
"I wouldn't risk it." Shane replied, staring down at the animal with his hands on his hips. The man sighed to himself,
"Damn shame..." He got back to his feet and stared at the circle of people around him while lifting up the cord of squirrels, "Well I got some squirrel. Bout a dozen or so… that'll have to do." A grotesque hiss wallowed through the air and everyone looked down to see the decapitated head of the Walker springing to life. The crossbow wielder snarled at the decapitated, "Oh, come on people, what th' hell!?" He lifted his crossbow, taking the Walkers head in his sights and firing with the pull of the silent trigger, striking the head in its dead brain. "Gotta shoot them in the brain. Don't y'all know nothin'?" He walked past Dale and Harli, heading back towards the camp. Harli watched his body move in an interesting strut and pulled her head over as she felt a hand on her shoulder,
"Let's the fireworks begin…"
"Wait... that's Daryl?" She asked curiously while looking at Dale.
"Yeah… so get ready for the rodeo…" He gave a nod and lazy clamped his fingers around the handle of his axe, following after everyone back towards the campsite. Harli sighed to herself and stepped through the bushes, quickening her pace to catch up with everyone. She could already hear Daryl yelling for his brother,
"Merle! Merle!" Daryl called as he hastily made his way back to camp, his eyes moving around the camp to find the familiar face of his kin. He set his crossbow down and took the string of squirrels off his shoulder, "Get your ass out here! Got us some squirrel!"
"Daryl… slow down a bit. We need to talk."
Daryl stopped in front of the Winnebago and looked over at Shane, narrowing his eyes at the deputy as he and Rick finally caught up to Daryl,
"It's bout Merle. There was a problem… in Atlanta." Shane put his hands on his hips and stared the backwoods countryman straight in the eyes. Daryl felt a slight twinge in his chest as he bit down on the inside of his cheek, looking at the ground,
"He dead?" Harli stopped next to Rick and stared at Daryl's blue eyes as they began to water for a mere moment,
"Not sure..." Shane said, looking around to avoid the malicious stair of Daryl's eyes. A nerve of Daryl's snapped and his voice turned angrier,
"Either he is or he ain't!"
"There's no easy way to say this so I'll just say it." Rick said while stepping forward to gain leverage on the situation. Daryl stared at Rick, unfamiliar to him, and leaned in towards him with both anger and slight confusion,
"Who the hell are you?"
"Rick Grimes…? There somethin' you wanna tell me!?" Daryl began to pace like an animal again, his hands shaking with anticipation. Everyone began to crowd around just in case Daryl was going to do something stupid.
"Your brother was a danger to us all. He was getting dangerous so I had no choice; I handcuffed him to a piece of pipe on a roof." Rick explained briefly and Harli watched as Daryl's jaw clenched tightly, his eyes turning deadly. He turned around, his blood beginning to boil under the fire of his heart,
"Hold on. Lemme process this…" Daryl paced more and more, back and forth, trying to grasp onto the situation. He huffed and looked back at Rick, "You're sayin…. You handcuffed my brother to a roof!? And you left him there!?"
"Yeah…" Rick nodded under Daryl's loud and incredibly angry shouts. Daryl's mind went blank and clear tears began to well up in his eyes more and more. The fury began to over-boil and it finally exploded in Daryl's chest. Daryl threw the line of squirrels at Rick and Rick dodged them easily, bracing himself to take on the young Dixon. Daryl lunged after Rick, but Shane quickly intervened and shoved Daryl to the dirty ground. Daryl growled and ripped his knife from its sheath, swinging it around towards Rick with nothing but deadly intent. As Rick distracted him, Shane tossed his shotgun to the ground and ran up behind Daryl, putting him in a headlock. Rick leaned in towards Daryl in whispered a few inaudible words to him, Daryl gripping at Shane's strong arm,
"Choke hold's illegal!" Daryl continued to thrash and struggle against Shane's arm, not being able to pry it from the hold around his throat, "You bastards let me go!"
"Just let him go, Shane. This isn't going to help the situation."
Harli attempted to mediate and to her surprise, it worked. Shane stared at her for a moment, as well as Daryl, and then finally let him go. Daryl sat down for a moment and panted to try to catch his breath, staring around at the group as they looked down on him. T-Dog stepped up,
"It's not Rick's fault…I had the key. I dropped it."
"Why the hell didn't you pick it up!?" Daryl asked with blatantly and T-Dog tried to avoid his Dixon stare in shame,
"I dropped it down a drain…" T-Dog briefly look at Daryl, who rubbed his face and growled while jumping to his feet.
"If that's supposed to make me feel better, it don't!" Daryl shouted as he stalked past T-Dog. T-Dog turned after him,
"I chained the door with a padlock so the geeks won't get at him!"
"That's at least gotta count for something…" Rick looked over at Daryl after trying to reason with him. Daryl turned while wiping the stray tears from his face with the back of his hand, hoping no one saw them. His voice cracked and he ignored Rick,
"The hell with all ya'll!" He tossed his arm out at them for effect and everyone looked away from him, feeling pity for the younger Daryl Dixon. He turned back to Rick,
"Tell me where he is! So I can go get 'em…" Rick seemed a bit timid for a moment at Daryl's request. Lori looked up at them,
"He'll show you." Everyone stared over at her in a bit of disbelief. Shane then walked up towards Rick and began to argue with him about saving Merle. Lori walked over to Harli with the children's hands in hers, whispering to her with her own request,
"Would you please take the kids away from here while they're doing all this talking?" Harli looked down at Carl and Sophia, who stared sheepishly up at her. Harli swallowed a hard lump and nodded,
"Yeah… sure. Come on you two."
She waved for them to follow and wheeled around on the heel of her boot. The two hesitated to follow after, but Lori gave them a reassuring smile and the two managed to catch up with Harli.
Once at a distance where they could barely hear the conversation taking place, Harli turned around and sat down at a table, the two sitting across from her. Harli hunched over and looked at them, "So do you guys know how to start a fire with two sticks?" Carl and Sophia shook their heads and watched as Harli twiddled her lips and grabbed a couple thick sticks. She handed them to Carl, "Here, I'll show you how just in case you guys ever need to start a fire for the grown-ups."
"Yeah but the grown-ups use lighters and matches." Sophia expressed with a bit of doubt. Harli looked at her for a moment,
"But what if your parents don't have those things? Then they can rely on you for skills they don't have." Harli replied and watched Carl fiddled around with the sticks. He then smiled and looked up at Harli,
"Yeah, I guess you're right." Harli's face then struck realization and she stood to her feet,
"Wait right here, I'm going to go get something." Harli turned and jogged over to her tent, yanking open the door flap. She grabbed her backpack and pulled it out with her, walking back to Carl and Sophia. They watched her curiously as she rummaged through her backpack upon sitting back down with them. Harli looked up with a smile at their faces as she pulled out two lollipops in her hand. The two children's faces lit up as if the world was restored to normal. Harli handed them the suckers and they ripped off the wrappers greedily, putting them in their mouths. Harli smirked to herself; at least there was one way to deal with kids.
"So where do you come from, Harli?" Sophia asked a bit more open with Harli because of her treats. Harli looked over at her while trying to demonstrate starting a fire with two sticks,
"Well, I came from the other side of the city."
"Hey... I did, too." Carl said and Harli smiled with a nod. Carl seemed hesitant to ask the question, "Did… I mean do you have any family?" Harli stopped spinning the stick in her hand and looked at him, then smiled,
"I had a father, but I don't know what happened to him." To distract them from such a depressing subject, Harli noticed a spark and saw a small bit of smoke trickle from the edge of the stick. Carl and Sophia looked down and saw it, amazement spread across their faces,
"Whoa, how'd you do that!?" Carl asked with a smile. Harli smirked,
"Rub those sticks together as fast as you can." Carl heeded her words and began to spin the stick vigorously. The friction from the tip began to get hot and small bits of smoke began to curl out from under the edge. There was a small flicker and a small flame came to life, lighting some leaves on fire,
"No way! I did it!" Just as that happened, Lori walked up and sat down next to Carl. Carl smiled up at his mother, his sucker sticking out like a tumor in his cheek, "Look mom! I started a fire with just these sticks!" Lori smiled, rubbing his shoulder,
"Wow Carl, Good job honey! Did Harli teach you that?" Carl nodded. He turned to Sophia,
"Come on Sophia, you try it!"
Harli stood up and Lori looked at her. Harli smirked a bit and a pointed her thumb over her shoulder, "I'm gonna go see if any of them need help."
"Thank you for looking after them for a bit." Lori nodded, rubbing Carl's head. He was too preoccupied with trying to show Sophia how to start the fire to notice. Harli turned back towards the top of the camp and walked up, stopping next to Dale. He looked over at her,
"So what're they doing? What's the plan?"
"Well… Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Dog are goin to the city to get Merle and the bag of guns Rick dropped."
"I see…" Harli replied and Dale's face then struck realization. He turned around and grabbed something off the table, turning back to Harli and her eyebrows rose at the familiar object in his hands,
"Here. I cleaned it and everything for you. When the girls were cleanin' you up, I saw it and how dirty it was, thought you might want it back." Harli stared back at herself through the beautiful finish her familiar pistol. She grabbed both it and the leg holster from Dale's other hand, looking back up at him. Dale smiled,
"And your shotgun's in the Winnebago. I was bored and… cleaned that too…" He seemed a bit embarrassed by it. Harli smirked slightly as she strapped her leg holster back on, securing her pistol in it,
"Thanks Dale, I appreciate it."
"No problem. If you need anything at all, just ask me." He patted her shoulder. She nodded,
"And don't worry, you and the others will warm up to each other. I see how insecure you are around people and I know you seem like you don't know what to do with yourself." Harli nodded as Dale smirked and walked to the ladder, climbing to his post on top of the Winnebago. She didn't know how to take everything in. She never had anyone depend on her before and everyone was so nice, so hospitable. She was a lone wolf in a pre-apocalyptic era. No one liked her; everyone thought she was weird because she preferred to be on her own. That's how she was raised. But now, she had to make a new life for herself and she knew that it was up to her to make it right.
"Harli." Rick's voice knocked her out of her thoughts and Harli quickly looked over at him,
"Can you go grab Daryl real quick? I gotta finish up over here before we head out."
"Uh…. Yeah sure… where's he at?"
"Last time I saw him, he was headin towards his campsite." Rick turned and pointed Harli in the right direction. Her eyes followed the trail of his finger and nodded,
"Yeah… I'll bring him right up."
"Thanks." Harli nodded back at him as he turned away to help Glenn with the truck. Harli sighed and turned around, beginning her voyage out to the serpents nest. She walked down a small trail and saw Daryl cleaning the bolts of his crossbow from Walker blood. She stopped and sighed internally to herself, a queasy feeling coming up in her stomach. Mentally kicking herself in the ass, she finally stepped forward, stopping feet from him.
"What the hell do you wa-" Daryl stopped mid-sentence, narrowing his eyes in a bit of confusion as he turned halfway on the stump he sat on, "Who the hell are you?" He asked, taking in all of Harli's unfamiliar features. Harli took a breath and tucked some of her dark brown hair behind her ear, avoiding his gaze and feeling incredibly uncomfortable,
"I'm… my names Harli." She voiced with unease and he stared for a moment before speaking,
"Harli? Like the bike Harley?" He asked and she nodded as her green eyes stared over to him. He stood up,
"Where the hell you come from? I ain't seen you round here before and I was only gone for bout a day."
"I uh…. Rick and Glenn found me out in the woods yesterday… unconscious. Walkers were after me." He raised an eyebrow and scoffed,
"Unconscious? I don't see how you ain't dead if Walkers were after ya. But I see you ain't got no bite marks. You must've made them gunshots I was hearin' yesterday, scarin off my deer. Damn, people keep poppin' up round here like a bunch of rabbits. First Grimes, now you?" He said a bit annoyed and Harli crossed her arms, making brief contact with his blue eyes before looking away once again,
"Yeah…. That was me…"
"If you're gonna talk to me make eye contact! The trees sure as hell ain't talkin to ya!" He pointed at his face and raised his voice. Harli looked back over at Daryl, her green eyes began to darken at the sight of him. He sat back down, continuing to clean his arrows,
"So Harli, what the hell you come out here for? Couldn't have been for some friendly conversation." He looked back down at the crossbow bolt in his hand and Harli rubbed her arm,
"No. Actually Rick told me to come get you, said that he's almost ready to go. Glenn and T-Dog, too." Daryl threw his cloth against the side of his tent and stood back up, giving Harli a nasty glare,
"All them pricks can kiss my ass! I don't take orders from them." Daryl stated and grabbed his crossbow, placing the bolts back in their holster. He looked over at Harli, "Man, why you all quiet and such?" Harli shrugged her shoulders,
"I don't know. I guess I don't have much to say." Daryl huffed and shouldered the strap his crossbow, walking up to her,
"Kinda borin dontcha think?" He walked past her and waved his hand for her to follow, "Come on, I don't want you stealin' none of my stuff while I'm gone."
"Why would I want to steal your stuff?"
"I don't know you! You could try to steal my stuff while I'm gone."
"Yeah… stealing squirrels is going to ruin your life and give pleasure to mine." Harli rolled her eyes as she became a bit annoyed at the woodsmen. Daryl turned around, pointing a finger at her,
"Don't give me no lip. Just cuz you're a girl don't mean I gotta be nice to you." He warned and Harli stopped to only stared at him. She wasn't afraid of him, but he sure was rude.
"I wasn't expecting you too. If you're anything like your brother then I want nothing to do with you." Her tone was icy and bit at his ears. He gritted his teeth and raised his hand, making Harli flinch at his sudden actions. He stopped and his lip twitched, watching Harli close her eyes as if waiting for it. It happened many times in her childhood, and she wasn't afraid of another. She heard him scoff,
"Look at you… waitin' to be hit like a dog. If you weren't a girl, I would've just knocked you on your ass."
"Could've done it anyways, I wouldn't have cared. I'm used to it." She walked past him without another word and Daryl narrowed his eyes, watching her walk away from over his shoulder. She walked fast and moved farther and farther away from him with each step she took. Harli walked up to the Winnebago and stopped, crossing her arms. She was a bit irritated by Daryl and his actions but she'd rather just forget about it and move on. He brushed past her and jumped into the back of the van that waited to descend into the depths of the city. Harli looked over at Rick as he talked to Lori and Carl.
The loud horn of the van noisily echoed through the camp and Harli looked over to it, seeing Daryl waving his hand angrily for the rest to join, "Come on! We ain't got all day!"
Rick kissed Lori and Carl and then jumped into the passenger seat of the van. It soon departed, leaving everyone behind once again.