Chapter 37

Lily smiled as she watched Daryl help Mason with his target practice. It took a few tries before her son even grazed the empty can serving as his objective, but Daryl was patient with him and guided him until eventually there were too many bullet holes leaving it beyond recognition.

The can itself was more than a target to him. His mind went back to when he followed Carl to the woods. They had actually gone further than where his mother found them.

They thought the walker couldn't get away seeing as it was stuck in the mud, but it did. Carl didn't shoot the walker despite Mason telling him to do so.

"Carl please just shoot it!"

"Wait," Carl said. "It's fine, see?"

Carl stepped closer to the walker then raised the gun up to its head. Before he could pull the trigger the walker whipped around and knocked the gun out of his hand. The walker reached out to the boy causing him to stumble and causing one of the walker's feet to spring loose from the mud it was stuck in. Quickly Mason ran down and helped Carl by kicking at the walker. When the foul corpse was dazed for a few seconds Mason picked up the gun and the two boys ran off.

They thought they heard something coming from behind them so they turned back towards the forest. Mason raised the gun ready to shoot should the walker step out from behind a tree and that's when Lily found them.

He remembered the feeling he had after realizing that the same walker killed Dale. Carl blamed himself, but Mason felt partially to blame. He should've killed the walker before taking off.

"Rick!" Someone shouted harshly.

"What was that?" Mason asked lowering the gun.

"It sounded like Shane," Lily said.

"I'll go check it out," Daryl said picking up his crossbow and taking off.

"C'mon Mason," Lily said taking his hand and following after Daryl.

"He just clocked me in tha face and took off!" Shane shouted.

"We'll find him," Rick said.

"What the hell happened?" Lily asked as she walked up to the group surrounding Shane. His face was bloodied and she was sure his nose was broken from the looks of it.

"Randall took off," Rick explained. "I want everyone to go inside the house and stay put. Me, Shane, Daryl, and Glenn are gonna go find him."

"Let's go Carl," Lori said as she ushered her son towards the house.

Daryl turned to Lily. "Stay in tha house alright?" He said.

She nodded then kissed him. "Be careful," she replied before walking to the house with Mason following her.

Anxiety filled the room as everyone sat in the living room. Patricia had gone to the kitchen to make some tea. Lily supposed it was to calm everyone, but then again maybe it was also to let Patricia have something to do to calm herself. Hershel had excused himself from the room and Andrea was seated with her arms crossed. Mason and Carl were sitting in the middle of the room playing some made up game involving cowboys and aliens.

Lily herself was watching the two boys, but her gaze said that her mind was somewhere else. So many things just didn't seem right. On her way inside the house she had cast the departing group one last glance and her gaze landed on the door to the shed where Randall was kept.

The door was locked from the outside.

How could Randall have escaped if the door was locked? Did Shane let him out and if so then why? She had not been blind to Shane's changing mental state, but she avoided it enough.

It would be a lie if she told herself she was content with sitting inside the house. She wanted to go out there and help them, but Andrea was example enough of how bad of an idea that would be. She also couldn't just leave Mason in the hands of someone who couldn't even keep an eye on her own kid. No, it was best to stay put.

Lily had stepped outside now. It was getting dark and no one had returned yet. She looked over her shoulder to see Hershel step out. "You should be inside," he said.

She sighed. "I know," she replied. "I'm just worried."

"We all are."

He stood beside her looking out in the distance for any sign that they were on their way back.

"I haven't heard anything," Lily commented. "It's just been so quiet."

"That should be a good thing. At least we know nothing has gone wrong so far."

"I guess."

"They'll be fine, don't worry."

At this Lily nodded, accepting his words as consolation to her nerves.

"Now c'mon inside," Hershel said turning to the door. Lily moved to follow but stopped when she heard approaching footsteps.

She turned and saw Daryl and Glenn walk up.

"You're back!" She said more to Daryl than Glenn. "Is everything alright?"

"We found Randall," Glenn said.

"Where is he?" Hershel asked.

"He's dead," Daryl stated. "Where's Rick an' Shane?"

"They aren't back yet. Come inside an' we'll wait for them," Hershel said.

Inside Daryl and Glenn explained what they saw. None of it made any sense to them. Randall had turned without being bit and Rick and Shane weren't back yet.

It wasn't long before a shot rang out.

Everyone rushed outside to find the source of it but were met with darkness.

"What was that?" Andrea asked.

"Probably Rick and Shane," Glenn offered.

"You think they ran into walkers?" Maggie asked him.

"I wouldn't doubt it," he said.

"But that shot could lead any nearby walkers to the area!" Beth shouted.

"Now wait," Lily said taking on a tone with some authority. "We don't know what it was, but I say we go back inside the house and-"

"Carl's gone."

Lily whipped her head to face Lori who was standing in the doorway.

"What?"

"Carl's gone!"

"Now he couldn't have gone off to far," Carol said. "I'll help you look again."

Lily rushed inside the house and found Mason still sitting on the floor. "Mason," she said as she knelt beside him. "Do you know where Carl went?"

He shrugged. "Said he would be right back then just left."

A bad feeling settled in the pit of her stomach and she told him to stay put. She ran out of the house ignoring Daryl's protests as she sprinted to their tent. Inside she gathered up whatever weapons she had. "What the hell are ya doin'?" He asked when he caught up to her.

"I'm just being prepared."

She packed up a few pistols and ammunition in a backpack then picked up her baseball bat before heading back to the house.

Daryl followed her inside to where Mason was. She unzipped the backpack and grabbed a pistol and loaded it before taking Mason's hand and giving it to him. Her son's eyes widened and he looked up at her confused.

"I need you to keep this with you in case anything goes wrong," she explained.

"What do you mean?" He asked, his voice slightly trembling.

"Just take it, remember what Daryl taught you, and be careful with it, alright?"

He nodded.

"Now-"

She was interrupted when she heard someone shout "Walkers!"

Lily stood up and looked out the window to see a horde walking straight towards the house.

"We have to get out of here!" Glenn said as he rushed in the house.

"I can't find Carl!" Lori shouted.

"He's here somewhere don't worry," Carol said trying to comfort her.

"Everyone c'mon! We gotta get outta here!" Rick commanded as he entered the house with Carl beside him.

"Carl!" Lori ran to him and wrapped her arms around him.

"I'm fine mom, but we gotta get out of here. There's walkers everywhere."

"Where's Shane?" Lori asked looking up at her husband.

"Not here," Rick replied emotionlessly. "Alright, listen we need to make a run for the cars and get outta here. Me, Daryl, Glenn, and T-Dog will provide some cover."

Everyone nodded. Rick turned to the three and led them out where they started holding off walkers while the others made their way to the vehicles.

But there were too many.

Eventually their ammo was spent and not even a dent was made in the horde.

"Fall back!" Rick shouted. "Get to the cars!"

Glenn ran over to Maggie who kicked a walker off of her before getting into a car.

"Hershel we gotta go!" Rick shouted to the old man still firing rounds.

"This is my farm, I'll die with it," he replied.

"Don't do this," Rick implored. "We need you, your daughters need you."

This seemed to put some sense into him and he nodded.

Lily, Mason, Andrea, Patricia, and Beth were making their way to one of the cars but were cut off by walkers.

"Go back!" Andrea shouted.

As soon as they turned around a walker had latched onto Patricia's arm.

Beth, who was holding her hand, tried to wrench her free from the determined walkers. Patricia's screams of agony made tears flow from Beth's eyes. She realized then that she had to let go. There was no saving her. She let go of her hand before a walker could sink its teeth into her outstretched arm.

Walkers surrounded them now and were closing in fast.

"Beth," Lily said. "Take Mason."

"What?" The girl asked not sure she heard correctly.

"Here," she said as she gave her son's hand to her. "Take him and I'll cover you."

"Mom!" Mason protested.

Lily knelt down and looked her son in the eye. "I love you," she said before kissing his forehead. She stood up and shouted, "Go!"

She got two of her pistols and began shooting down walkers to clear a path for the two. Beth wasted no time it taking off with Mason at her side. Andrea took a spot next to Lily and assisted in taking down the ones moving too close to the two. Once Lily saw Beth and Mason get inside a car she turned to Andrea and said, "This way!"

Daryl pulled up next to Carol and shouted at her to get on his bike. "Where's Lily?" He asked when she took a seat behind him.

"I think I saw Mason get in one of the cars," she replied as she put her arms around him.

This put his mind at ease for the moment, but he couldn't ask any further questions until they were away from the farm so he sped away before any walkers got too close for comfort.

Andrea and Lily were both running now. "This is getting us nowhere!" Andrea shouted as she willed her legs to keep moving.

"Split up," Lily said almost inaudibly.

Andrea shot a glance at her. "What?" The girl was going to risk getting mobbed by flesh eating cadavers to let her run to safety. She never would've thought she'd suggest such an idea.

"I'll slow down while you keep running," Lily explained. "Then I'll take off the other way." She knew it was a longshot, but if they didn't do something then they'd both be killed.

"That's suicide!"

"And you're objecting to it?" She said with a half-hearted chuckle. "Trust me on this."

Telling Andrea to trust her about her plan made her want to laugh because she couldn't even guarantee she'd make it out alive. "I have to try," she thought.

"Now!"

At her command, Andrea began running faster while Lily slowed her pace just a bit. When the blonde was far enough ahead Lily made a sharp turn to the right veering them off of Andrea's trail. Most of the walkers had forgotten the one that got away and were now intently focused on Lily who ran as fast as she could now.

Night had fallen and everyone except two had met up on the side of the main road. Rick scanned the faces among him and noticed Andrea and Lily missing. It wasn't long before Daryl noticed too.

"Where's Lily?" he asked as he saw Beth and Mason sit with the others around a small fire.

"We don't know," Beth answered softly. "She told me to take Mason with me while she and Andrea fought off the walkers."

So many emotions flickered like flames in his eyes. He looked down at Mason who was sniffling.

"We don't know if she or Andrea made it," Beth added.

Turning on his heel, Daryl faced Rick and said, "We gotta go back."

"We can't," Rick said. "We have to stay put for now and come up with a plan."

Daryl scowled and started making his way to his bike.

"Daryl wait," Rick said. "You have any luck finding her in the dark alright? We can't lose any more people and right now we need to stick together. Besides there's something I think you all should know."

This made Daryl walk back towards the group.

"I don't know how else to put this," Rick started. "I think I've kept it from you long enough…we're all infected."

He was met with wide eyes, confused stares, and questioning looks.

"And you didn't tell us?" Lori asked angrily.

"I did it to keep ya'll safe and didn't want ya'll to panic," he replied diplomatically before stepping away from the group leaving them to their thoughts.

Lily had been running for what felt like an eternity. Sweat coated her skin and she was constantly wiping her brow with the back of her hand to prevent any from falling into her eyes. Her legs had been moving at a constant speed and now felt numb to the point that if she stopped she'd collapse onto the ground. She didn't shoot any for fear of attracting more walkers and she didn't want to waste time taking any down with her bat.

So she kept moving at a relentless pace, accelerating when she thought she could feel their wretched bloodied breath down her neck. She wanted to stop. She had to stop, but she didn't. She ran and just when she felt she couldn't run anymore she saw came across a small town. It wasn't much but a few buildings and a few walkers shambled about aimlessly, but this didn't stop her from sprinting at top speed towards the nearest establishment.

A hardware store was the nearest building. "God help me that there's somewhere I can hide in here," she thought to herself and almost laughed. She hadn't spoken to God in awhile, but now was not the time to dwell on that. Using the butt of her pistol she broke the glass door and entered. Walkers pushed and shoved to be the first one through the broken door which bought her some time to knock over some shelves to obstruct their path.

At the back of the store she found a door and kicked it open with all the strength her adrenaline offered her. She closed the door behind her and surveyed the area. There was nothing but another door down a small hallway in front of her and a dark sheet right to her left. She pulled back the sheet to reveal a set of stairs. Whoever ran the store must have resided upstairs. She wasted no time in running up the steps to find another door ajar. She went inside and closed the door behind her. Rapidly she locked it and bolted it shut with all the locks the door had. Only when she heard the soft disappointed moans of the walkers did she calm down. They thankfully didn't know where she was.

The thought hit her that neither did anyone else. She was alone.

Again.

AN: That's it. That's the end of this story. I originally would've made another chapter after this, but decided not to. i am probably now going to go back through the whole story and fix any errors in spelling or grammar.

Thank you for all of your support! Your reviews, favorites, and follows really helped to encourage me to continue. Many thanks to everyone who followed the story and saw it to the end. In case you're wondering I do intend to do a sequel. I cannot release the date it will be put up or a title, but I hope you all keep an eye out for it! Follow me as an author to see it as soon as it comes out. How is Lily going to cope on her own this time? What about Mason being left with the others? Will Lily run into the Governor or the prison? You'll just have to wait and see!

Thank you for reading!