distance, remoteness, isolation
I grew up with the phrase 'once upon a time' starting my bedtime stories, which I'm sure was the same for many others. It started countless possibilities of every story imaginable; some filled with love, some filled with adventure, some filled with a different reality than our own that only belonged to the land of the dream world. By starting the story with 'once upon a time', the phrase 'and they all lived happily ever after' inevitably ended these twist-filled plots of fairy tales and dreamers. These two simple phrases gave me the sense of hope of my upending future; perhaps, one day, I'll grow up to live a life of fantasy and happiness. Perhaps one day, I will get my happily ever after too, just like all those characters in the stories.
Though what these two simple phrases didn't prepare me for was the ambiguity of reality and how the world I know can change within the shortest spaces of times, to something in nightmares. I never could have imagined what was left of the world now, back then, back when fairy tales were something of hope in my eyes. Back in what seemed like a different time now, the simple things like traffic and work schedules were the biggest stresses in life. The time before survival was the only thing that mattered - the balance between life and death hanging on a much less nimble thread.
We had been stripped down to mere beings, whose only bid now was to survive. Fighting to stay alive was a daily duty and something that had to be learned quick. There was no time for the weak. Times for hopes and dreams were gone now and all that was left was the bitterness and raw inevitability that was the extinction of the human race - that's what it seemed.
There was no happily ever afters any more and it seemed that world just had to deal with it.
Being away from her mother had always scared Sophia. Before the turn, simply losing her mother in the middle of Wall-Mart caused enough stress to the young girl, as did the few times she had found herself arriving home after school to find her mother not there. Being away from her mother was terrifying. Now, as the hordes of walkers passed by them on that graveyard of a highway, Sophia couldn't remember a time when she wanted her mother to hold her as much as then. She could see her. Merely a few cars away, tucked away with Mrs Grimes. Her new friend, Carl lay under a car nearby though Sophia felt no comfort in his closer presence. She wanted to hide with them, not away from them. She wanted the monsters to go away. She wanted her mother.
After a long time of clutching her Eliza doll close to her, Sophia began to finally see the numbers appearing to lessen and lessen and the pairs of feet that passed by reduced until eventually nothing came. Then silence. The groaning and moaning from the walkers seemed to die away as they staggered along, unbeknown of the missed opportunity to feed and with them, Sophia felt her fear die. This was it, Sophia could crawl out now and be with her mother again. They were safe and all she wanted to do was hold her mother and never let her go. So, impatient to get to her, Sophia stuck her head out from under the safety of the car; checking it was clear and ready to run into her mother's awaiting arms.
Though it was her impatience that cost her.
A snarl. A hand. A rotting face. Sophia screamed.
She rolled away from the clawing monster and did the only thing she knew to do, what her mother always told her to do when her father's rage came her way. She ran. Into the forest and away from the following walker. Away from the highway. Away from Carl and the others. Away from her mother.
There was a blunt crack as the bat connected with the side of the thing's head, the striking sound of bones splitting. Another sound followed; the dull thud as a dead weight dropped to the forest floor. With a strangled cry, I brought the club down a few more times onto its head to make sure it was truly dead, the sounds of its skull crunching filled my ears. All that was left when I was done was a mess of skull, blood and brain - a satisfying sight, as I knew it wouldn't be getting up to try rip me to shreds any time soon. I felt my chest heaving as I panted for breath, my limbs tired and weakened from the exertion of beating the dead man down. The rustle of leaves beside me drew my attention to my four-legged companion and I eyed the dog as he sniffed expertly at the mess of blood and bones. With an almost satisfied grunt, the animal rose his gaze to mine and I patted his head absently, glad of his apparent approval. A timid gasp however brought my gaze away from the body of the creature before us and looking away from my dog, I turned toward what the dead man was just hungrily chasing.
A little girl. No more than twelve years of age and who held a terrified expression on her innocent pale face. She was thin - desperately so - though the way she wore her clothes told me that this was not something that the turn had altered much. She appeared in a better condition than I, cleaner for starters, and completely weapon-free. How had she survived so long without a weapon? Surely such a young girl could not have survived so long out here, alone? Her eyes stared up at me with look I could only place as fear and I watched as her nimble fingers curled furiously around the rag doll she clutched close to her, as if it would protect her from the nightmares of this world.
I swallowed down hard and attempted to hide my bloodied weapon out of view, though kept it still in hand just in case. Raising my free hand to show her I meant no harm, I attempted a smile, hoping the blood that I was now freshly coated in wasn't too off-putting.
"It's alright." I said, softly. My voice made her flinch, so I paused for a moment to let her attempt to calm. "I won't hurt you." She didn't say anything, just stared up at me with those big doe eyes that almost broke my heart. "I'm Ruby. What's your name, sweetie?" The little girl's face seemed to soften slightly and her posture appeared to relax, if only an inch. I tried a weak smile, hoping that would calm her. Her fingers still remained holding onto the rag doll tightly, though she eyed me now with hesitation as she processed my words. I waited patiently for my answer and when she answered, I had to listen carefully as her voice was so quiet and timid;
Edited November 2014
(Author's Note): Thank you to all those who have ventured taking a look at this fic! Hopefully the start, however brief, is somewhat enjoyable and intriguing enough to read on! :)
This chapter is set sometime after Sophia is left alone by Rick and the story itself is compliment up to 2.01. I will state now that the rest of this story will be AU - majorly so in some cases, though I will take a lot of inspiration from the TV show's storylines and the comics. I did not want to write a story for this fandom by simply adding an OC into the show, following the same storylines with a few lines from my character here and there. I guess I wanted to try something different and a little more interesting - hopefully! My OC will have a back story too that will be explored throughout the next upcoming chapters, with the inclusion of a few familiar faces and some changes in the canon storyline, but hopefully people will enjoy my twist on these! Like I said, my story will be majorly AU in all regards, with inspiration from both the source canons.
Another note about this story, while it is a Daryl Dixon/OC fic, I'm afraid that the romance will be a slow-burner. Personally for me, I find that a slow build up is more satisfying and also more realistic. I think with Daryl's case also, romance is never going to come easy (look at his progress in the TV show!) so I wanted to try my hand at writing a story for him, exploring these difficulties. I guess this may be frustrating for some people, though I urge you to stick with it!
Please leave a comment, I'd love to know what you think of this so far.