The air was quite.
Not one bird was chirping, not even the slightest breeze wafted through the air, and not even the softest moan of a Walker could be heard.
A broken down house was in the midst of a small, forested neighborhood. It was weathered and worn, old and stiff, and it stood lonely among the trees. Hasty footsteps suddenly erupted through the stale air, rushing towards the front door as if they had nothing to lose. Clambering up the steps, the front doors to the house lunged open and the footsteps stopped for only a second.
Rick raised his gun quickly and shot down the Walker turned to challenge him, T-Dog rushing in behind him and stabbing its undead partner in the face with an iron stoke. Daryl quickly entered the house behind him, crossbow raised as he shoved the door the rest of the way open with his foot.
Not far behind Daryl, was Harli with her bow raised straight and an arrow docked on the bowstring. Her boots thudded across the wood floor as she moved about the hallway, her arm ready to draw back and plunge an arrow in a Walker's brain at any moment.
Finding the stairs, she quickly moved up them and stopped, slowing to calmer and quieter footsteps. Moving through the hallway, she clicked on the flashlight she had taped to the sights of the bow when the darkness finally claimed her eyesight, the window at the end of the hall covered with boards of wood.
Hearing soft footsteps, she drew back her arrow and stopped in a doorway, peeking in through the crack of the door. A lone Walker stood with its head bowed to the floor, hissing and twitching with a few steps here and there. Harli kicked open the door and let the bowstring go, the arrow flinging and sinking into the brain of the female Walker. With a loud thud, the corpse crashed to the floor.
Harli retrieved her wooden arrow and wiped off whatever blood she could, tossing it back into the quiver on her back. She walked out of the room and saw Daryl stepping out from another, a large feathered being in his hand. Hearing her footsteps, he turned his head and saw her approaching; raising the feathered bird to show her the prize he had claimed.
Harli rolled her eyes and shook her head with a small smile, seeing that he was gripping the carcass of an owl with pride.
Following her downstairs like a loyal dog, Daryl sat down and began to pluck away the owl feathers and Harli sat down across from him, watching the light feathers fall to the floor without care. Her stomach growled greedily and Daryl glanced up upon hearing it, Harli turning her face away to avoid his oceanic gaze with a bit of embarrassment.
One by one, the survivors entered the living quarters, their anguish and fatigue washing over their faces as they set down their gear. Harli glanced over at Lori as she slowly sat down on the ground, her stomach bulging from under her shirt.
Closing her eyes, Harli leaned her head back, waiting, just waiting for someone to say a word.
Carl quickly ran in with two cans of unidentifiable food items in his hands. Sitting down and rummaging through a bag, he pulled out a can opener and popped off the top. Everyone stared, their eyes hungry and pleading. Rick walked up and grabbed the can before Carl had any chance to try and consume it. While staring at the canned dog food, Rick growled and turned, chucking it into the fire place in an angry turmoil. Startled, everyone looked to him and he only stared at the ground, irately huffing as he backed up.
Harli's head flicked over at T-Dog instantly when she heard his whistle, seeing that he had grabbed his stoke and stood up, signaling more Walkers were in the midst. Getting to their feet quickly, the survivors grabbed their gear and Harli led them to the back door.
The green eyed girl yanked an arrow from her quiver and docked it, peeling the bowstring back and letting the arrow free, a Walker falling to the dying grass below its feet as the rest of the group rushed behind her to get to the vehicles. She wheeled around on her heel and sprinted towards the large Dodge Ram and jumped into the driver's seat, pulling the keys from her pocket and starting the truck. T-Dog jumped in the passenger seat and Carol, in the back behind T-Dog. Quickly putting the truck in gear, she slammed on the gas and the tires spun in the dirt as they desperately tried to cling to the ground below them.
Finally gripping what the tires could, the Dodge followed Daryl's bikes trail with the Chevy and Hyundai close behind them with their oh-so too familiar acquaintance: the highway.
Harli pressed softly on the brakes as the caravan gradually came to a stop. She stepped out of the Dodge and grabbed her bow from the back seat, slinging the quiver over her shoulder and shutting the door. T-Dog followed after and the two walked up to the Hyundai, Maggie spreading the map out while Hershel, Daryl, and Rick crowded around,
"We got nowhere else to go." Maggie's finger pointed about the map, "When this herd meets up with us it'll be our cut off. We'll never make it south." Glenn and Carol walked up and Daryl leaned on the windshield as he stared at Glenn,
"What'd you say? There bout a hundred and fifty head?"
"That was last week, could be twice that by now." Glenn shook his head with his hands on his hips. Maggie shrugged a shoulder,
"The weather could have delayed them. If we move fast we could shoot straight up through-"
"Yeah but this herd spills out with that one they could spill out this way." T-Dog pointed out and Harli stared down at the map,
"Well what if we cut through that small town and head back east? Weren't many Walkers the first time around we might get lucky?"
"Yeah but luck never seems to be on our side these days." Glenn added and Maggie sighed,
"So we're basically blocked."
"Seems like that's the concern." Harli rubbed her head while her eyes tried to decipher a safe path on the map. Seeing the many circles drawn over the different roadways to signal the herds of Walkers occupied those specific areas, her hope was beginning to dwindle along with the others. Rick pointed to the map,
"Only thing to do is double back to the twenty seven and swing back towards Greenbull."
"We picked through that already it's like we spent the winter going in circles!" T-Dog added while he rubbed his smooth head. Rick nodded and finally picked out a safe route on the map,
"Yeah I know, I know… at new noon then we'll push west. Haven't been through there yet. We can't keep goin' house to house… we gotta find somewhere to hold up for a few weeks." Rick stared off towards the Chevy where Lori was sitting quietly. Harli broke off the crowding around the hood of the SUV along with Glenn and Maggie,
"I'm gonna go try and find something to eat, you guys gonna go help T-Dog with the water?"
"I'm gonna try and figure out which route we need to take on the map to go west." Maggie said and Glenn looked over at Harli,
"I'll go with T-Dog; he's going to need the help."
"Alright." Harli turned towards Rick,
"Don't forget to let off one shot if there's trouble!" Glenn called and Harli looked over her shoulder with reassurance, her eyes moving back at Rick, and Daryl who soon joined him,
"Rick! Heading off for a hunt, just thought I'd let you know before I left."
"We're headin' off for huntin', too. Don't be goin' too far by yourself."
"Yeah, we don't need to be savin' any asses today." Daryl mocked and Harli raised an eyebrow,
"Excuse me? I'm pretty sure the last time we were in trouble I was the one to plant the arrow through the gnawing jaws of the Walker that tackled you to the ground."
"I know you two have fun poking at each other but right now we gotta get what we need to get done and start back on drivin' here shortly." Harli stole one last glance from an amused Daryl before looking back to Rick,
"Of course. Good luck with you guys." Harli walked past Daryl, playfully shoving her shoulder against his chest as she walked by. His brick-like stature barely moved as she moved past him and he smirked lightly with a huff, nodding at Rick as the three parted ways before disappearing in the forest.
Harli's boots lightly treaded across the mossy and dirty ground, her eyes scanning her surroundings like a hawk, waiting for some type of movement to escape the blur of the trees. She already had her arrow docked and ready to fire in the blink of an eye.
Breathing steadily, eyes scanning, and feet stepping lightly like a cat, her body moved up and over logs, rocks, and over the small creek. She stopped next to a large tree and stared about, the forest oddly faint and stale with only the sound of trickling water breaking the barrier of silence. Her head shot to the side quickly as she saw something flicker in the corner of her sight. Her green eyes narrowed and she leaned against the tree when she saw a light grey, furry being scratching at the ground and rustling leaves as it attempted to reach the dirt and grass below. Without a clear shot or even clear sight of the unknown creature, she squatted down and put her hands to the cold ground, crawling across the dirt like a stalking predator.
Stopping behind the log, she noticed the small, grey animal's head was up and alert upon hearing even her softest steps. Its large ears gave away its identity and it was, indeed, a rather healthy sized mountain rabbit. Not moving a muscle and watching quietly, Harli's muscled tightened as she kept her body still with no problem at all.
Over the past few months, she had developed the utmost strength and agility in order to become one of the most valuable members of the group, and perhaps, one of the deadliest.
The rabbit's ears elevated behind its head and its twitching nose returned to the ground below its large feet, its hungry lips attacking small blades of grass as it chewed violently. Harli sensed the only moment to move and slowly rose to her knees and pulled her arrow back, the bow moving up and over the small log she had hid behind. The large rabbit's head flicked up quickly, seeing her suddenly appearance and stared, trying to decipher if she had been there the entire time or not. Harli help her breath and didn't move a muscle, only staring through the sights of the bow as they eagerly flaunted the rabbit's vitals.
In one swift movement, the arrow careened out of the arms of the bow, plunging its sharp point into the heart through the rabbit's side. Goosebumps rose on Harli's dirty skin as it let out a few blood curdling shrieks before its flailing body seized in all movement and quickly died.
Harli jumped over the log and jogged over to the rabbit's corpse, kneeling down and pulling the arrow from its side. She was a bit surprised at how large the rabbit was, seeing that it was almost the size of a medium sized dog. She smiled at her prize, grabbing its back legs and tying a rope around them, stringing the rope through a belt loop, securing it around her waist. Turning around, she began to follow the trail in which she had followed to her prey.
Through the trees as she neared the highway, she saw everyone crowding around and quickly loading up their supplies in the vehicles. Her eyebrow rose confusingly as her feet found the concrete once again. She wasn't gone that long, was she?
"What's going on?" She asked Glenn as she walked up, Maggie rolling up the map,
"Rick and Daryl came back. I guess Rick found a prison and he wants to go there." Harli narrowed her eyes and paused for a moment as her brain tried to put together the information,
"Wait… a prison?"
"Yeah it's just down the road at the turn off down there." Glenn turned around and pointed behind him, "It's kinda of sketchy, don't you think?" Glenn looked back at her, but before she could reply, the two young adults heard Rick's voice,
"Come on ya'll we gotta get goin'!" He called from the Chevy. Hearing Daryl's bike roar to life, Harli and Glenn quickly exchanged glances and Harli jogged to the Dodge, jumping in the driver's seat and starting it up.
Everyone quickly moved through the trees along with Rick, weapons drawn as they were approaching the tall fence the surrounded the prison's barrier.
Harli's eyes stared at the cement walls of the building as familiarity slowly began to cloud her mind.
"Harli, to your right!" She heard Maggie shout. Drawing her arrow back, she quickly turned to the approaching Walker and let the heavy string go, the Walker plummeting to the ground. The group stopped and Rick began to clip the wired fencing to make an entrance,
"Keep your eyes open!" Harli drew another arrow and docked it as she scanned around, seeing Walker's beginning to approach from a far distance,
"Watch the back!" T-Dog warned with the others on high alert. Glenn stabbed a Walker in the stomach, ramming it up against the fence while Maggie put it out of its misery with a claw hammer.
"Got it!" Rick yanked open the snapped fencing and everyone flooded in quickly. Daryl and Glenn jumped in and held it open,
"Come on Lori!" Harli took her arm and helped her in, carefully watching her belly to make sure she received no damage. Rick and T-Dog were last in jumping through the fence and Daryl gripped the two sides, pulling them as tightly together as his robust muscles could let him as Glenn weaved a wire back and forth through the loops, closing it up,
"Come on everyone let's get to the yard!" Rick called and began to jog down the corridor of metal.
Walkers upon Walker's slammed up against the fence, their snarling and growling making everyone uneasy as they ran by. Some were dressed as prisoners and some were dressed as guards and when their silver, dead eyes caught the movement of the group, their never ending hunger and lust drove them towards their potential meal.
Daryl ripped open a gate, his crossbow elevated as he made sure the coast was clear before the rest of the group entered the small courtyard. The tall fence door towered over them with miles of barbed wire stretching across its perimeters and the bottom of an overturned bus stared the desperate group in their faces. Harli stared up in recognition at the place that surrounded her. Never did she think that she would see this place again and never did she expect it to be a safe haven. She hated being at the prison after the incident with Reaper, but that fear slowly faded once she realized she was in the protection of her surviving group.
"It's perfect." Rick said as he stared out at the building, seeing the opening to the courtyard, "If we can shut that gate, no more can fill the yard and we can pick off these Walkers to take this field by the night!"
"So how do we shut the gate?" Hershel asked and Glenn didn't hesitate to nominate himself,
"I'll do it, you guys cover me."
"I'll go with you too and watch your back." Harli nodded at Glenn and Maggie looked to her, shaking her head,
"No, it's a suicide run."
"But we're both the fastest." Glenn vouched and Rick shook his head to decline,
"No. You, Maggie, and Beth all draw them away. Pop them through the fence! Daryl, Harli, go back to the other tower and take them from there! Carol, you've become a pretty good shot, take your time, we don't have a lot of ammo to waste."
Harli was quick to the tower, Daryl not far behind her as Rick readied to leave the gate.
Harli yanked open the heavy door to the tower and all her ears caught were the hasty footsteps of both her and Daryl as they traveled to the top of the tower through the dark. Shoving open the door, Harli let out a gasp as a Walker grabbed her shoulder from behind and yanked her backwards.
With quick reflexes, Daryl whipped his knife out and shoved it through the decaying eye of the Walker, grabbing Harli's arm and towing her out onto the balcony, "After all I taught you, you still gung-ho bout everythin'." Daryl let her go and Harli rubbed her shoulder where the Walker's greedy hand had touched her,
"Well excuse me for hurrying to help out Rick."
"Just be more careful next time." Daryl was in all seriousness at this point and focused at the task at hand. Harli stepped to the corner of the balcony and loaded an arrow, hearing footsteps coming up the stairs behind them. Looking over her shoulder, Carol appeared,
"Where do you want me?"
"Over on the other corner there." Harli nodded her head to the opposite corner, seeing as Daryl was busy loading his crossbow.
Hearing shouting, Harli looked down to see the others yelling and flailing their arms, drawing away the closest Walkers to the gate as Lori's fingers gripped onto it. Rick nodded and Lori tore the gate open.
Like a racehorse breaking out of the stall, Rick began to run up the long pathway towards the prison yard, his silenced pistol raised as he put down Walkers with no hesitancy.
Following a small perimeter around Rick, Harli stared through her bow's sights with hawk-like precision. Walker's descended from the upper areas of the yard and all Harli's ears could pick up were the loud explosions of rifles and pistols from the neighboring towers and fencing below.
A Walker dove towards Rick from behind and Harli released her arrow, pinning it to the ground once the wooden projectile drove itself through its decaying brain. Rick looked up at Harli with a thankful glance and she nodded back while reaching over her shoulder and sliding another desperate arrow out of her quiver. Reaching her arm back, Harli took a deep breath and took aim at a distant Walker, the corpse usually being out of reach of her arrow at such a distance. But concentrating deeply, she took aim as it approached Rick without his knowing, firing once she let go of the bow string. The arrow slide through the dead flesh of the Walkers neck and it fell to the ground, flailing about.
Harli growled and bit her lip in discontent, "Dammit!" Rick noticed it beginning to get up once again and quickly fired his pistol, making sure it stayed down. Harli's head flicked when she heard Carol's gun go off, seeing an uprising of dirt around Rick's feet as he stared up at Carol,
"Sorry!" She called when almost shooting their leader. Daryl and Harli exchanged glances and then looked back to Rick, seeing he had reached the gates he was aiming for. Finally latching them together, he quickly made way to the tower and disappeared inside.
Reaching her hand over her shoulder for another arrow, she noticed that her supply was beginning to diminish. Throwing her bowstring over her head to rest on her shoulders, she yanked her pistol out from its holster in her belt loop,
"He did it!" Carol smiled and Daryl put his hand to his mouth,
"Light it up!" Everyone's gunshots became more frequent when they were in the clear. Raising her pistol, Harli carefully sighted the fading population of Walkers as one by one they began to fall to their demise. The recoil of her pistol bounced back through her hands violently, but she only ignored it to finish her objective.
With one last shot coming from Dale's rifle that Rick had become so accustomed to using, the last Walker fell to the ground slowly.
The three stared around for a few moments, glancing at each other, then back down to the prison yard. The reality of this safe zone had not yet hit them as they descended down the stairs to return to the sides of their other group members.
Slowly, smile's crept up on Harli's Daryl's and Carol's faces as they jogged around from behind the other tower, returning to the place where it all began.
"That was fantastic!" Carol laughed while meeting up with the others and Harli smiled while placing a hand on her hip, her hands shaking from her pistol's recoil,
"I can't believe we took them all down so quickly." They all headed towards the gate as Lori opened it up for everyone, a smile brewing on her face as well,
"Are you okay?"
"Haven't felt this good in weeks." Lori replied to Carol as she passed by.
Harli stared at the large space when she entered, her mind not believing that this was really happening. She didn't have the words to express her feelings for the relief and pleasure she was experiencing at that moment. She heard an excited Carol, but ignored everyone's actions to reply to the messages her brain was receiving.
It was safe here.
She looked at all the ragged corpses she passed as she walked up the dirt pathway towards the prison, seeing arrows and bolts from her and Daryl's expert precision protruding from the Walkers broken skulls.
It was safe here.
She saw smiles and happiness in the faces of her comrades in which this was something she had yearned to see once again. It was the first time in days, weeks, and even months she had seen some sort of happiness in everyone, especially Rick. He was the reason they were all there, why they were still alive.
It was safe here.
Darkness descended upon the group quickly as they settled down for the night in the desolate prison yard. They crowded around the small fire in the cool grass and consumed bits and pieces of the large rabbit that Harli had killed earlier that day. There wasn't much the small animal could contribute for the large appetite of survivors, but for now, they had to deal with its sweet, yet sparse meats.
Picking off the rest of a bone, Glenn threw it off into the grass, "Mmm… just like mom used to make…" His sarcastic attitude made Maggie smile and look over at Harli,
"Good job on the rabbit. Best food we've had for a few days."
"I wish I could have found a deer… we could be eating like kings right now."
"Better than starving for the night." Hershel stated while looking over at Harli, who nodded. With some of her leftover meat, Harli placed it in a bowl and placed it in front of Lori,
"Here… you can have the rest of mine." She noticed Lori paid her no mind and she followed her gaze to Rick, who patrolled the fence line up above, making sure no Walkers could get in. before she could speak, she heard T-Dog,
"Tomorrow we'll pull the bodies together. Try to keep 'em away from that water, now if we can dig a canal under the fence we'll have plenty of fresh water."
"The soil is good… we can cultivate and grow some tomatoes, cucumbers, soy beans…" Hershel strained away from his sentence as he stared up at Rick as well, "That's his third time around. If there were any part of it compromised, I think he would've found it by now." Harli looked up over at Rick, seeing a few Walkers following him along the fence as he moved about slowly. She sighed to herself and looked up at Hershel, pulling a blanket up and over her shoulders,
"I think the reality of the safety of this place hasn't hit him yet. Like it's too good to be true." She looked around at everyone, "I think we all feel the same as well." She stared at the fire and heard Beth,
"This will be a good place to have the baby. Safe." Lori smiled and looked down at the fire,
"Thanks…" Hershel sighed as his blue eyes stared at the fire as if he were lost,
"Bethy… sing Patty Riley for me. I haven't heard that since… I think when your mother was still alive."
"Daddy, not that one, please." Maggie looked over at him, her face becoming a bit sad. Hershel sighed and thought for a moment,
"How bout… Partin' Glass?" He looked over at her and Beth looked a bit shy as she looked back over at Hershel,
"No one wants to hear…"
"Why not?" Glenn asked and Harli looked over at the humble girl,
"I'd like to hear it, too." Beth dipped her head between her shoulders and stared at them,
"Okay…" Hesitating for a moment, she looked down at the fire to gather up the courage, her lips parting and taking a deep inhale.
Her voice flowed fluently and beautifully as she sang the song lightly, not too loud, but not too quite. It was a very beautiful song and Harli knew that it was something that Beth's mother sang to her when she was little. It was an old country song, most likely sang and passed down through generations of the family.
Once the verse broke, Maggie joined in with a smile while they sang the chorus. Harli heard footsteps behind her and saw Daryl and Carol walking up and stopping, Daryl glancing down at Harli's green eyes.
The singing voices faded in Harli's ears and she looked back over at the sister's noticing that Rick had arrived as well, the music bringing him in just like it had Daryl and Carol.
"Beautiful…" Hershel said with a smile through his thick beard,
"I wish I could sing like that." Harli smirked and heard a low strain of chuckles coming from her friends.
"Let's all turn in for the night…" Everyone looked to Rick as he looked off towards the fence, "I'll take watch over there. We gotta big day tomorrow."
"What do you mean?" Glenn asked and Rick looked down, his plan brewing in his head,
"Look… I know we're all exhausted. This was a great win… we just gotta push a little more…" He paused for a moment before continuing, "Most of the Walkers are dressed up as prisoners and guards… it looks like this place fell a little early. All the supplies here may still be intact. They have an infirmary, commensary-"
"An armory?" Daryl's husky voice interrupted for a moment and Rick nodded,
"It'll be outside the prisoner's cells but not too far away. The Warden's office will have information on the location. We'll have weapons, food, medicine… this place could be a gold mine!"
"We're dangerously low on ammo… we'll run out before we even make it in." Hershel said and Rick stared at him for a moment,
"That's why we'll have to go in there… hand to hand. After all we've been through, we can handle it I know it… these assholes don't stand a chance."
With the last words of their leader, he stood up and began to walk towards the post he would be taking for the night. Everyone began to shuffle around to ready for slumber upon hearing Rick's demands of going into the prison the next afternoon and every minute of sleep would be viable for them to answer those demands. Harli stood up and walked over to her belongings where she had already promptly lied out her sleeping bag. She sat down and tucked her stray blanket back into her backpack, flinching when she felt a sharp pain in her shoulder.
She groaned and rubbed over the scar of her previous bullet wound, her fingers trailing up and over her collar bone to the old exit wound. She elevated her arm and twirled it up and around slowly, the soreness creeping about under her skin annoyingly. No longer could she ignore it anymore.
"That shoulder of yours still botherin' you?" She looked over, seeing Daryl lying down on his blanket, his poncho still wrapped around his shoulders. Harli let out a sharp sigh and lied down on her side,
"It's sore again." She mumbled softly with a bit of annoyance,
"It's that heavy drawback on that bow. I told you not to use it so much, it's only doin' more damage than good." Harli sighed and rubbed her sore shoulder, nodding slightly,
"I know… but I'd rather use it than my gun. This pain isn't anything close to what I've already experienced." She laughed to herself and Daryl grunted to himself,
"You're such a stubborn ass."
"Oh, go to sleep already Don Poncho." She smirked and laughed, turning over so she didn't have to face the wrath of the notorious Dixon death glare.
Her relationship with Daryl increasingly became steady and attached over the winter. As the season became more scarce for the survivors, members had to become more dependable, and even though most of the winter Harli was wounded, she wasn't going to let that stop her from being depended upon. Daryl stayed by her side most of the time, and eventually, he took her under his wing to teach her the way of the forest.
From hunting to tracking, she was taught everything to be an efficient predator. Daryl was surprised how fast she learned all he was teaching in a matter of weeks compared to when he had acquired the particular skills over a matter of years.
But the wound Harli had suffered from became severely infected months after she had inflicted it upon herself. It became so infected to the point where she became very sickly, barely being able to move and maintain her health properly. But out of the sheer will to live, and with incredible stubbornness, she managed to overcome to infection without any man made antibiotics and with the help of Daryl, who succeeded in finding natural herbs in which helped her regain her health.
Not once, but twice did she show up on deaths door.
Harli closed her eyes to deep slumber as she continued to remember when she awoke after coming so close to a hypothermic death.
The caravan of survivors speedily made their way through a small town; only a few Walkers were meandering about in alleyways and down the streets. A restaurant stood in ruins from a recent fire and the grey smoke of the ashy aftermath curled sadly into the air. The eyes of the fallen stared blindly at the ghost-like buildings as their vehicles sluggishly came to a stop.
Rick stepped out of the driver's seat of Hershel's old Chevy, staring around at the approaching Walkers, his machete in his hand,
"What're we goin' to do?" Glenn asked while walking up beside him, Hershel and Maggie in tow,
"Well… for now let's take down a few of these Walkers and scavenge around here for some supplies. We're gonna need all we can right now."
The approaching Walkers snarling began to get louder as they got closer. Rick turned his head once the decaying Walker reached out towards him and went to strike, but soon stopped when a bolt struck its skull and sent it crashing to the ground. Daryl walked up and the two men nodded, Rick turning back to see most of the group had crowded around them. Their exhausted faces and pleading eyes all stared through him,
"Once we're done scavenging, we'll take refuge in the general store and rest up for a while… I know we've been on the run for a couple days."
"The Walkers are coming." Maggie said and everyone began to look around, seeing as the corpses were beginning to move towards them, they silver eyes lustfully glaring at their skin. Rick quickly looked to everyone,
"Alright, Daryl, Glenn, T-Dog, come with me and let's get rid of these Walkers. Lori, you and the others get Harli's body and the rest of our supplies into the general store. Hershel and Maggie will protect you guys." Lori, Beth, Maggie, and Hershel all hurried back to the Chevy, Hershel popping open the back door and grabbing the gun bag. He pulled out a shotgun and handed Maggie a loaded pistol, Lori and Beth opening the other side of the door,
"I'm gonna go in and make sure the coast is clear. You girls start gettin' Harli out of the back,"
"Daddy!" Maggie stopped Hershel before he walked into the store, "Please be careful." Hershel nodded and quickly moved, opening the front door of the store, raising the barrel of the gun, and disappearing through the dark doors. Maggie opened to back doors to the Chevy, seeing Harli's serene face tilted towards her. Lori and Beth ran up next to Maggie,
"I'll get in and you guys pull her torso out first." Lori crawled into the back, crouching over Harli and grabbing under her arms,
"Don't strain yourself too much." Maggie said while grabbing under Harli's arms,
"I'll grab her waist," Beth slid her hands under the small of Harli's back and Lori grabbed her feet,
"Alright, be careful now." Lori jumped out of the vehicle and they walked towards the doors of the general store. Lori's eyes widened when she heard a raspy growl, looking over her shoulder, seeing a Walker clambering towards her,
"Go! Go, quick!" The three women's adrenaline began to pump upon the suddenly arrival of the Walker, it moving faster than they were. With a loud snarl, it lunged at Lori and she gasped, jumping at the sound of a gunshot as it exploded around her closer than comfort. Her wide eyes moved over to an open window, seeing the barrel of a shotgun peeking out under the glass.
Maggie led the other two in backwards through the door into the dimly lit building, Hershel turning around a small aisle, "You girls alright?"
"Yes, thank you."
"Is it clear in here?" Beth asked while her crystal blue eyes mirrored her fathers. Hershel nodded,
"There was only a couple in the back room. I think it'd be best if we put her in there for the time bein'. I want to check her over once more and make sure she's still with us."
"Alright." Without any more trouble, the three women took Harli's body into the back room and lied her down on the cleaned off office table softly. Lori wadded up a blanket and laid it under her head, stretching another over her body to keep it warm. Hershel bent down and opened the flap of Harli's jacket, examining the wound,
"I'm going to go finish getting everything out of the truck."
"I'll go with you." Maggie vouched and Lori smiled, standing up and walking back out the door, Maggie closely in tow.
"How is she daddy?" Beth asked while knelt down next to Harli's face. Hershel's mouth drew into a thin line,
"The rest of her color finally came back and her pulse is getting stronger. She's been asleep for almost two days now; I reckon she'll wake up any time. The only thing I'm truly concerned about is her wound here, it won't stop bleedin'. I fear the bullet may have struck an important blood vessel, and without any antibiotics, there's the chance she'll get a severe infection." The two Greene's heard the footsteps of their counterparts reentering the store and placing their supplies down on the old wooden floor. Hershel looked to Beth,
"Gather whatever medical supplies we have left, I'm going to redress this wound and then we'll leave her be for now." Beth didn't take long to retrieve the medical supplies for her father and Hershel began to work on her wound. Wrapping it up tightly, the white bandage clashed against her tan skin and Hershel stopped, staring down at her with cheerless eyes. With a sharp, discontent sigh, he wiped his hands of Harli's blood on a dirty towel, walking out and closing the door behind him.
The quiet, cold room harbored only the sound of Harli's struggled breathing, her eyes moving back and forth under her eye lids in a vivid dream. Her fingers began to twitch and those twitches began to travel under her skin to her shoulders, and eventually, her face. Her mouth gaped open and a sharp gasp escaped her rosy lips, her arms moving up.
With a shaking body, Harli's eyelids burst open and she lurched upwards, hunching over her legs while her eyes tried to acclimate. Her head began to flick back in forth in a frantic motion as her blurry eyes tried to grasp onto the objects in the room and her mind raced a million times back and forth every second. Her hands shook tremendously and she choked out, her hand instantly clawing to her shoulder as raging pain seemed to come out of nowhere. Her breathing became erratic while she whimpered to herself, and with a deep inhale, her head dipped back as she let out a piercing scream towards the ceiling.
Tears began to spill out of her eyes from the unbearable pain in her shoulder. Without her knowing exact whereabouts, it only added onto her hysteria. In a panic, her legs flailed about in attempts to try and step onto the ground, but her legs gave way and she slammed to the ground, letting out another loud cry of pain.
Gasping for air, her breathing strained and her crying becoming more frenzied. She stared around the unfamiliar room and her eyes came to a dead stop at the door. Wriggling her good arm underneath her, she tried to crawl towards the door but with another devilish swell of pain, she flipped over on her back and screamed out loud once again, this time moaning and crying, wishing her burning shoulder could be decapitated. Her fingernails dug into the bandages around the wound, still shaking from the uproar of adrenaline and shock.
She heard the door slam open, but paid no mind and only stared at the ceiling through the blur of tears in her eyes, seeing familiar faces crowding around in her peripheral vision. Not realizing that she was still shouting, she felt a hand clasp down on her mouth and stared up as her tears cleared, seeing familiar blue eyes staring down at her.
With a sudden wash of relief, she began to see Rick, Lori, Glenn, Hershel, and especially Daryl's face through her watery eyes. Daryl's hand was the one, whose hand softly gripped over her mouth, and her breathing calmed somewhat,
"Easy on her now, she's dazed and confused on where she's at. I can't imagine the pain she's in either." Hershel said while staring at Daryl, who returned his glance before looking back down at Harli,
"You keep quiet now before you start attractin' Walkers." He nodded towards her and her eyes softened, her teeth gritting under his hand. Daryl slowly removed his hand, and upon hearing no screaming response, he placed it on his knelt knee,
"Stand her up and get her back on the table." Hershel said and Rick and Daryl's hands moved under her arms, lifting her to her feet. She had a hard time standing, "How are you feelin' dear? You need to tell me what's going on."
Harli's green eyes stared through her bangs as she lifted her head, a cold sweat breaking over her forehead. She hissed in sudden pain and tore her arm from Rick's grasp, latching back onto her damaged shoulder. She felt Daryl's arm wrap around her waist tightly to keep her from falling to the floor once again, closing her eyes tightly and letting out a held breath, "It hurts… so much…"
"You need to sit down, try to gather yourself." Rick said and looked over to Glenn as Daryl helped her sit back down on the table, "Go get her some water Glenn."
"On it," He quickly left the room and Hershel approached Harli, pulling her jacket flap open again to look at the bandaging,
"You're startin' to bleed through again. I'm going to have to do some stitchin' to keep it from bleedin'." Harli looked up at Hershel, her face already fatigued and sickly,
"Do you have any pain medication? Antibiotics?" Hershel hesitated for a moment and sighed, shaking his head.
"You're going to have to bear through it." Flinching, she rubbed her shoulder to try and soothe the burning sensation. Hershel grabbed her hand and pulled it away,
"Try not to touch it; you'll only induce the bleedin'."
Daryl stood back, his arms crossed and his teeth clamping down on his thumbnail as he watched with unwanted nervousness. Glenn returned with a bottle of water and offered it to her. She looked up at him and shook her head, "I'm not thirsty."
"Come on you've been passed out for a couple days, you're dehydrated." Glenn said, shoving it towards her. Her teary green eyes stared at him and she finally took the bottle water, but only held it in her hand. She looked over at Rick,
"A couple of days? What…?" She tried her hardest to remember what exactly had happened and how the hell they managed to find her. Rick nodded,
"You were passed out when we found you and your skin was whiter than snow. We thought you were a gonner."
"We stopped at some stone ruins by the river and found your backpack." Glenn said while staring at his green eyed friend,
"We followed the riverbed up north a ways and found blood on the banks. Rick and I found you face down in the sand half dead." Daryl's raspy voice directed towards her and Harli rubbed her head, trying to ignore the searing pain in her body,
"Never did I expect I'd see you guys again…" She mumbled more for her ears other than everyone else's. No one really had anything to say to her and Hershel looked at everyone,
"We should let her rest somewhat and get back to settling ourselves in for the night." Rick nodded,
"You're right," He looked over to Harli, "Try to stay put here; we don't need you to escalate your injury more than it already is. If you need anything, we'll leave the door open."
Rick turned around, along with the others, and walked out the door to further dictate the group's actions. Daryl stared over at his injured flame and finally moved his legs, walking over to her. Harli noticed his presence and looked up at his confused face, her painful eyes staring.
Caught off guard, his strong arm wrapped softly around her neck as he pressed her face gently into his chest, "I'm glad you're alright."