Pulling over on the highway, I jumped out of the jeep faster than it came to a stop. We were meeting at the spot where we left food for Sophia, and thankfully everyone seemed to have the same train of thought.
Running up to the bike, I saw that Mom one was carefully getting off of it. Thank god.
Throwing my arms around Daryl, I struggled to keep back tears. He stumbled off the bike slightly, but the wrapped his arms around me. I buried my face in his chest, fighting back my emotions.
"Ya okay?" He whispered. I actually heard something of care come from him. It nearly broke me down.
I nodded into his chest, trying to pull myself together. He was alive. So were all of the member of our group that could tell so far. We were blessed.
Pulling back, I quickly swiped at my eyes, sniffing slightly. "Alright, I'm good." I straightened my shirt and shrugged. "What's first?"
Daryl gave me a look, but just jerked his thumb towards Officer. "Ask him."
Nodding, I walked over to the group circle, pulling myself onto the hood. "What's first?" I repeated.
Officer ran his hand over his face gruffly.
Mom two got to it first. "Where's Shane?"
"He turned." Officer shook his head, looking distraught.
"I put him down…" The little boy whimpered out. Fuck.
"You what?" His mom wrapped him into a hug, comforting him.
"Well talk about it later." Officer growled out, shifting slightly.
Mom two looked horrified, and wrapped her arms around her son, pulling him towards the cars. Surely to listen and offer her opinion when needed.
"Did anyone manage to get anything from the house?" I asked, looking around. Everyone shook their heads no. Damn. "Alright, first thing that I think we do, find a place to hunker down. Some go into small towns along the way, gathering material." I now had everyone's attention. They were looking at me for what to do next.
"I'm sure that there will be some stores that haven't been completely scavenged, especially if we take back roads and go through small towns."
"And where do you suggest we go?" Black man.
"Anyone got a map?" Ball Cap walked forward, letting go of the woman he was holding on to, and passed me a paper.
"Come on, gather 'round." I jumped off the hood and smoothed the map in my place. "You see that?" I asked pointing to a box on the map, next to a blue line.
"What is it?" Mom one.
"If my memory's right, it's my cousin's school. Spring Valley High School. It's a small place. We should be able to lock it down in a day. Easy enough to protect, since it's on a hill. That line right there," I traced the line, "Is a river. Water to clean, drink if we boil, and bathe. There is probably still some food there, and I doubt many Walkers."
"There's gotta be Walkers." Daryl.
"Not necessarily. A few years back there were a mass amounts of bomb threats. The school got locked down to keep people from coming in and stealing while it was closed. Same with the H1N1 breakout. Anytime there is a situation where it is deemed unfit for the students to go to school, this place got locked up tight. And, I doubt anyone would break in after they closed it down. Everyone was told to go to Atlanta."
"Damn, what did you do before the world went to shit?" Daryl muttered, looking utterly in awe. Or confused. I couldn't tell.
"Was in college to be a pastry chef." Jaws dropped. "But I've been in the GIEP program since I was a child."
"GP what now?" Ball Cap.
"GIEP. Gifted individualized educational program. Basically, I grew up a nerd." Shrugging, I folded the map back up and handed it back to him. "Things like this just click in my mind. Problem solving especially."
"Well, it sounds like a pretty sound plan to me." McDonald shrugged, looking over to Mom two and her son. "What do you think."
"Sounds good." The boy mumbled, but he seemed to be so confused.
"We should head out then. Get as far as we can, pull over and sleep when we need." Officer moved over to his car, mostly talking to himself. He was loosing it, and it freaked me out.
Everyone moved back to their vehicles, and Mom one nodded towards Daryl. "I'm going to ride with Andrea." She moved over to the jeep, and I shifted from foot to foot.
Daryl threw his leg over his bike, and revved the engine. "Ya comin' or what?" He yelled over it, and my heart skipped a beat.
"Hell ya." I threw my leg over, biting on my lip to keep a wince from escaping. I felt better, but not 100%.
Wrapping my arms around his stomach, I pressed against him, preparing for the ride to the school. I felt his hand pat mine, giving me comfort, before he rode off. Maybe we could make it out of this alright after all.
There was a honk behind us, and Daryl pulled over. I felt uneasy, being left out in the dark, in the open.
Hopping off the bike, I looked towards the rest of the group. Officer got out of his car, shaking his head. "Running on fumes."
"So what do we do now?" Little boy asked, and I was shocked that more people turned towards me than to Officer.
"Hunker down for the night. Make a small fire. We split into shifts and get what sleep we can. Tomorrow we'll see if we can siphon any gas. If not, we'll pile into the running cars." I rattled off quickly, shocked at how easily it did.
"Becca, you're not the leader here." Officer growled out, shocking me.
"Never said I was. People looked to me, I answered."
"Shane was right. You're not part of this group. Your just a guest."
"Since when do you listen to Shane?" I asked, fighting the urge to step away from this man who has clearly jumped off the deep end.
"Speakin' of…" Daryl muttered, trying to break up the confrontation. "We found Randall. He turned, but ain't bit." That right, we never did get to ask Officer about that.
He gruffly ran his hand over his face, struggling with something. This wasn't going to be good. "There was something Jenner told me at the CDC."
I peeked at Daryl. Jenner…Jenner….the doc? I don't know, but everyone tensed. "And what was that?"
"We're all infected. If we die, we turn."
"What? Why didn't you tell us?" Mom two pushed her son behind her, fearing her own husband.
"I didn't want to say anything until I knew for sure."
I let out a slow breath, calming myself. In the end, this didn't really change anything. I just wish he would have told us sooner.
"What?" Everyone was in an uproar, making more noise than they should.
"Hey!" I called out, receiving everyone's attention. "We'll deal with this in the morning. Nothing changed. We still don't get bit, we still don't die. We do, get shot through the head. Nothings changed." Everyone seemed to settle slightly, swallowing their anger. "But if you keep yelling like this, then Walkers are going to show up."
They nodded, but several still had furry clear on their face. They didn't trust Officer anymore.
"Alright guys. I think it's too dark to do much. Go look in the cars to see if we can find any blankets, and we'll split into two groups for watch." Everyone nodded and started to sift through out cars.
Officer came up to me, glaring. "You aren't the leader of this group."
"Well, as of now, neither are you."
"This isn't a democracy anymore, Becca." He spat out my name. Boy, he better watch himself.
"I think you should get some sleep now. You might not want a democracy, but I still do."
"If you don't like how I run this, feel free to leave. The door's right there."
"We're in the middle of the woods, Officer. There aren't any damn doors. Now I suggest you go to sleep and we'll talk this over when you're less pissed."
I felt Daryl move up next to me, and Officer stepped back. He gave me one last look before going back to his car. I saw him slip in, followed by Mom two and the boy. Guess a family sticks together.
Black man, Daryl, and I took the first watch. Black man at on the hood of the car, Daryl leaned against the door, and I sat perched on top of the roof. "Anyone got an extra clip?"
Black man reached into his pocket and handed me a fresh magazine, which I quickly used to load my gun, putting the empty one in my back pocket.
I started to shake slightly, the chill in the air sinking down to my bones. Daryl looked at me, then reached into the bed of the pickup, tossing a sleeping bag at me.
"Thanks." I quickly wrapped it around myself, snuggling into the warmth.
"What should we do now?" Black man asked, looking up at me.
"Keep watch?" I didn't get his question.
"No. I mean with Rick. He seems to have gone off the deep end."
I shook my head, pulling my hair down, then back up into a pony before answering. "I don't know. I say we just stick to our plan. The sooner we get to the school, the better. I think we're probably two hours out still. We get there, maybe siphon gas along the way, then lock it down. Simple. Go from there."
He nodded. "You should be the leader, not that hot head."
"Please, I'm more of a hot head."
"But you don't keep secrets from us that could turn us into Walkers."
Shrugging, I sighed. "In my mind, there's no difference. We tried not to die before. We try not to die now."
My head started to dip slightly, and I felt a hand nudge my leg. "Come on, git ya to bed."
Nodding, I slid off the roof of the car, keeping the blanket wrapped around me. "Should we get the others?"
"T-Dog already is." Daryl led me towards the bed of the pickup.
I slid into the bed of the pickup, rearranging the bags to make a pillow. He grabbed some himself and started to move away. "Where the hell are you going?"
"Find some ground to sleep on." He shrugged, and I sat up.
"Shut up and come here."
He gave me a look, so I just rolled my eyes. Although he probably couldn't see it in the dark. "Your not sleeping on the damn ground."
After a few moments hesitation, he finally shrugged and laid down onto the bed of the pickup. I threw part of the blanket over him, and turned away. "I'll stay on my side if you stay on yours."
He grumbled, and I closed my eyes. His breathing evened out, and within minutes he was asleep. Even though we were out in the open, I felt safer knowing he was there. A smile pulled at my lips and I drifted off into sleep.
"Lucy, be careful." I whispered as she moved her way towards the blue van where the rest of the kids and women were. My mother followed slowly behind, but I staid put.
"You should go wit 'em." One of the men told me, giving me a look.
"All due respect, but I have some questions about the whole world gone to shit thing. Questions I need answered more than I need sleep."
The youngest man gave me a look, and sat down on the ground near the fire. "Got a mouth on you, don't you?"
I hadn't even realized I had cursed. My filter was gone. I had just killed my brother. I guess it made sense. "It's as new to me as it is to you."
The other men sat, some messing with their guns, one sifting through a bag. "Here." He tossed me something, which I thankfully caught in the dim light of the weak fire.
Holding it towards the flames, I read the label. Tuna. I gave him a nod of thanks and pulled the lid off and started to eat the food. It tasted fantastic to my food deprived stomach.
"So, what questions ya got?"
I took another bite of food, trying to gather my thoughts. I had so many questions. Where to start?
"What are those things?" Good enough start as any.
"We call em No Souls. Creatures from hell. You get bit, ya turn into one of those in a few hours. The fever hits ya first, burning you out. You loose your mind, then you die." He shook his head sorrowfully. "Then you come back as those things."
"It's not just if your bit." I took another mouthful of food, trying to push back thoughts of my lost family.
"What?" Everyone moved towards me, angered by this revelation.
"My uncle turned. He was only scratched."
"Well damn then. Guess we'll have to watch for that too." The men settled back into their seats. "Thanks friend."
Nodding, I started to nibble on my bottom lip. "Is there anything I should know about them?"
"Aim for the head. Keeps them down." Youngest boy answered. I nodded and added that to my growing knowledge of these creatures.
There was noise on the outside of the circle of cars, and everyone tensed. The man closest to the van ducked and walked over to it, shutting the door quietly, and then moving back over towards our group.
"What is that?" I whispered, gripping the gun in my shaking hands.
They looked at me, and cocked their guns. "Hell."
My eyes opened and I gasped in air. You're okay. You are still in the bed of the pickup truck. There aren't any Walkers around. You're fine.
Catching my breath, I sat up and stretched, the morning sun already beating down on me. Guess it was time to get up.
Looking over, I noticed Daryl was no longer next to me. Of course. Slipping out of the bed of the pickup, I shoved the bag into the back and lifted the tailgate.
Checking my weapons, I moved towards the commotion of the group. "There she is." Someone called, and everyone moved towards me.
"So, what's first?" Ball Cap asked, glancing over at Officer.
"First, I need to talk to you." I moved my attention towards Officer. He nodded, and we moved away from the group. "Alright, we need to get this straight. They are probably going to ask me for advice now that you completely lost it. So you can be pissy about it, or you can let it happen." Crossing my arms over my chest, I gave him a look. "Decide."
"It's my group."
"Bull." I shot back, narrowing my eyes.
"I'll let them choose."
Nodding, I dropped my arms. "Smart man." Turning on my heals, I walked back to the group. "Alright, do you want to hear my plan or Officer's?"
No one said a word, but everyone was turned towards me. Answering my question. "Alright. I think we should send some people to siphon gas. Small group going a short while ahead. Then come back, fill up the cars, and make our ways towards the school. Along the way, me and Daryl will go to into a small town. Gather small supplies from houses and stores. Just me and him, in and out quickly. Then go to the school."
Everyone nodded, although I saw that some people were skeptical. "Trust me, this will work. We'll gather food, locks, chains, tents. Everything we'll need. It will work."
People seemed to ease at this, and moved towards the cars. I grabbed a gas can from the bed of the pickup and looked around. "Ball Cap, Crossbow. You're with me. Let's go."
They followed closely behind me as we trudged towards the horizon. "Everyone else, stay put. Gather supplies, see if you find anything along the way. Be smart!" I called over my shoulder, then moved towards our next goal. God I hoped it would work.
Question of the day:
Favorite canned food?