A HOPE IN HELL
Summary: After the Greene's farm was overrun with walkers, the survivors from Atlanta found another place. It came as a surprise, a very welcoming one for that matter, for it was a place that, with a little bit of joint effort, could be their safe place, their particular haven... but nothing surprised them more than what found them. Other survivors.
Pairings: Eventually, this is going to be a Daryl/OC fic. Other pairings to be added.
Author's Note: English isn't my first language and this fic is Un-Beta'ed so pardon me if there are way too many mistakes. I'm looking for a Beta tho. If it interests you, send me a message! Thank you very much! Also, rating might change.
"When a world ends, there's always something left over. A story, perhaps, or a vision, or a hope..."
Sandman #51, "A Tale of Two Cities"
It was just another cold, dark night in the state of Georgia.
The sky was completely pitch black; it was new moon's night, meaning there was no sign of the white globe to bring some light to that part of the world, and there were only a few stars creating tiny white holes on the inky black ceiling up above. Though, down there, the story was slightly different. There was a hole in the darkness. Two holes actually, created by the headlights of a silver Dodge Ram 2500 — the only vehicle crossing those deserted roads...
The person driving that rather big truck was a young woman who kept her eyes that seemed to be made out of two round pieces of coal glued to the road ahead, though every now and then, they drifted from the road for a couple of seconds and focused on the watch she had on her left wrist.
It was 3:47 a.m., not five minutes since the last time she checked the time, and damn, she was almost twice as tired.
She let her right hand slid from the steering wheel and turned up a little the volume of the radio. She'd been driving for the past twelve hours straight. And she'd been doing this alone.
Don't do it, she scolded herself as she rubbed her eyes in order to stay awake.
She didn't have time for that. She couldn't let her thoughts wander, because they would always drift to that one dark place that she just couldn't afford to visit. Not now. Not ever.
The whole world was gone.
Long ago, she couldn't even grasp how long it's been, the world she once knew had gone straight to hell, everyone she knew was probably dead or worse and she had just—
"I said don't, dammit!" This time, she hadn't just thought. No. Through gritted teeth, she said it as loud as she dared to.
She wanted to yell at the top of her lungs and curse the whole universe for throwing her in the middle of that crap right now but she couldn't. She couldn't afford losing her grip on the situation, she didn't have time to fall apart and she didn't have the luxury to freak out... not when there was another human being depending on her.
As soon as those words crossed her mind, she allowed her eyes to look elsewhere but the road for the first time in a very long while and she glanced at the backseat, where a small figure was soundly asleep, completely oblivious to the world.
Despite the hell that was going on outside their truck, the little girl was the image of heavenly peace. Locks of her platinum blonde hair were spread through the fluffy pillow, forming some sort of halo around her head; her eyes were shut, her mouth slightly open, her right hand was tucked under her head and the left one was holding tightly onto a plushy toy, a stuffed white and gray wolf, beneath the ivory wool blanket that she had on top of her... The five year old girl looked like an angel.
She felt her ragging emotions subside, quieting down a bit at the sight of such peacefulness. That until she felt hints of veiled jealousy taking over her body... She felt jealous of the fact that the child could lie down, close her eyes and sleep... It seemed like an eternity or two since she last had a decent night of sleep herself.
Thinking about that made her yawn and she forced herself to look straight ahead once again and pay attention to the roads. She couldn't mess up, so she tightened her grip on the steering wheel, locked her eyes back on the road ahead and tried to conjure a happy thought — or some less painful memory since she just couldn't remember what "happy" meant anymore... now, more than ever, happiness sounded like some foreign word which she didn't know the meaning.
It took her a few moments but she succeeded. She was able to shove all of her feelings and unwelcome thoughts aside and lock them all behind thick doors somewhere deep down. She didn't fool herself, believing that it would all go away like that because it wouldn't. In fact, if there was one thing she was sure of was... What was it that she heard once? All the bad things— they stay with you. They follow you everywhere you go. As much as you want to, as hard as you try to, you cannot escape them...
Yeah. She hated those words and she hated whoever said them... because they were so stupidly true. It was true and she didn't need a goddamned apocalypse to happen for her to embrace it; hell no. She had her share of shit to keep her up all night, constantly haunting her wherever she went to...
"You're slipping," she reminded herself quietly as she ran a hand through her wavy dark hair. "Hold it together, girl. Hold your shit together for the sake of—"
Her thoughts were instantly interrupted by the low voice coming from the backseat. It was a soft and angelical voice, but at the same time, it was drenched in a heartbreaking pain.
The woman quickly turned her head to check on the little girl and, what she saw, made her heart drop to the pit of her stomach. The kid's angelical features were twisting and she was struggling with the blanket that was still on top of her.
The girl's voice kept rising and rising until she was almost screaming. That was enough for her.
Even though she knew the dangers that lurked in the night, how she shouldn't waste the already scarce gas that was left, even though she knew she shouldn't pull out in the middle of Lord knows where, she did it anyways. She brought her truck to the side of the road, kept the engine running and, making sure the doors were locked, she turned her full attention to the distressed girl on the back.
The little blonde still had her eyes shut tight and was still tossing and turning; God only knows how she didn't fell off the seat.
Turning her back to the road, the woman reached out a hand and placed it on the little girl's arm. "Annie," she called her, but she wasn't waking up. Instead, she flinched even harder and let out a low cry.
A sharp pain spread through her entire body; she could almost feel the kid's angst. "Annie, sweetie, wake up... Analeigh!"
The little girl, Analeigh, finally snapped her eyes open. "Mommy!"
The woman swallowed hard. She wasn't Analeigh's mommy. The two of them were not even slightly related but still, looking at the little girl on the verge of crying, she felt just as sad as she knew her mother would be, after all, they've been together for months now.
"Come here, sweetheart," she said when tears started to fall down the girl's cheeks like waterfalls.
Analeigh quickly kicked the blanket away and, still holding onto the stuffed wolf for dear life, she climbed her way to the dark-haired woman on the driver's seat and buried her head on the woman's chest, all curled up.
"I mi— I miss mo-mommy... Auntie Dee-dee, I m-miss my mo— my mommy..."
By now, the woman whom Analeigh referred to as Auntie Dee-dee had grew used to having little girl calling her like that. Her name was Addison, but she didn't mind the nickname. For all she knew, she was the only thing that little girl had in this fucked up world and, as of right now, Annie was one of the very few things that kept her going.
"I know you do, sweetie," Addison whispered softly. She wrapped her arms tightly onto the little girl's petite frame and, resting her cheek against the top of Analeigh's blonde head, she began to rock back and forth in order to try to soothe the girl that was crying her eyes out. Addison had also made sure to turn the truck's engine off in order to save some gas and not attract the undead's attention. "I know..."
"And Un-cle Ni—Nick..." A sob ripped through the girl's throat and, in all honesty, Addison felt as if someone had shoved a knife with a blind blade on her chest.
"I know, honey..."
Addison's voice was shaky. Why did Analeigh have to mention Nick? I was almost getting over it...
It was a lie. Addison was just fooling herself and she knew it. She knew she was nowhere near getting over anything, let alone the only thing that she had left from her prior life... but she needed to. She was determined to put it all behind the Great Wall of Addison and just move on. For the sake of everything and everyone...
Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Addison pushed back the image of Nick and whatever memories from a past that was not coming back that were circling her already messed up interior, brought one hand to the back of Analeigh's head and gently stroked it while trying to shush her down. Addison prayed to whoever was hearing for none of those creepy creatures find them there. She just couldn't deal with walking corpses right now...
Analeigh let out another strangled sob and Addison felt helpless. There was really nothing she could do to ease the girl's suffering right now... Hell, she was pretty miserable herself! But, even though she felt like she was carrying the weight of the whole world upon her shoulders, having a five year old sad girl in her arms made Addison forget about everything else and just focus on what really mattered.
No one would believe if they saw me... The heartless, lone wolf Addison Blanchard-Flannery getting on her motherly side... Talk about some plot twist!
Smirking at her own thoughts (and frowning at them at the same time), Addison held little Analeigh until she could no longer hear the little girl's sobs or could feel her tears soaking the front of her white shirt.
As the dark sky started to turn into a slightly lighter blue, Rick Grimes took a deep breath and shifted in the same spot he'd been sitting for a damn long time now. He suspected it should be around four, perhaps five in the morning so he had spent the entire night at that place.
Well, at least he lived enough to see a new day...
His muscles were all sore from the tough night and a sharp pain shot through his entire body as he stood up and stretched out. Another day was starting and he and the remnants of the group that made it out of the Greene's Farm should start moving sooner rather than later if they wanted to stay alive...
Even though they had lost people when the farm was overrun by walkers, it had to be a miracle that that many survivors got out of there unharmed. How they managed to escape that hell and avoid being slaughtered, bitten or even scratched by that massive horde of walkers should have been a miracle — you know, in that apocalyptical sort of way but a miracle nonetheless.
Their great escape didn't come without a cost. Hell, no. There were losses. From the Greene's group, Patricia and Jimmy were gone. From Rick's people, they had no idea what happened to Andrea. Shane was also dead and, even though that was a whole different story, even though there was a lot more to that than anyone would ever understand, it was also a loss. Another survivor that fell while fighting that war that seemed to have erupted from the depths of hell. It was just... It was just unreal.
They were living through that, day after day for a quite long while now but it still felt so unreal. How their world turned into what resembled a Hollywood movie with the script of a horror slash zombie theme was just unimaginable. No one would ever think such thing was possible, until it happened. Everything collapsed, even the stability of that group of survivors.
That single word echoed in Rick's mind during the entire time in which he sat on the hard ground, with his back resting against a tree and nothing but darkness surrounding him. If he was honest enough, he'd have admitted that he felt that same darkness creeping up on him, embracing his thoughts and just adding more to the already heavy burden he'd been carrying.
What am I turning into?
The question resounded in his head for a very long time; Rick knew it would remain unanswered.
He remembered Dale's words. Right before he was killed by a walker, he spoke his mind and let it very clear that the world had changed, but whether they would change or not, it was up to them.
He didn't know if he agreed with it or if it just happened without him noticing, but Rick Grimes has changed. The man he was before the outbreak was gone. He was gone and gave place to someone that not even Rick could recognize anymore. He could be the same person on the outside, but on the inside...
The world has changed. The reality they were living now was a lot different. It was ugly, cruel, cold and harsh... Rick shivered when he acknowledged that those same adjectives would fit the description of something else. Himself.
Letting out a tired sigh, he shut his eyes closed and tilted his head backwards until it was also touching the hard wood. He was tired. Hell, he was exhausted. Every single cell of his body was hurting, aching, begging for some rest but Rick knew such thing wouldn't happen. He was sure that he wouldn't have any rest anytime soon.
Ain't no rest for the wicked, he thought to himself and as those words crossed his mind, he almost laughed out loud. Wicked.
Rick let out another sigh as he brought his head up again so he was looking directly at the small group of people that were gathered around a pit that once a fire burnt.
Looking at the people's figures, illuminated by the shy brightness of dawn, Rick tried to remember how life was before it all started, before the dead didn't stay dead... He couldn't really remember how it was. He tried really hard to bring back the memories but he felt like he was trying to remember a dream, and each time he tried to think of it, things just started to fade.
So he gave up. Ultimately, he gave up on trying remembering of something that wasn't coming back. Not right now, and he was starting to doubt if they ever would.
What if that was all that they had left? What if their entire life would be just like that from now on? Was it worth it? The pain and the suffering and the horror? Was it worth it?
Part of Rick's mind was telling him no. No, it's not worth it. What kind of life it is, where all they would do was to run and hide? That was no life... But the other part of Rick's mind was telling him yes. Yes, it was worth it. Because, despite everything, there was hope. There should be hope. Humans have been through all sorts of things and at some point, they all thought they wouldn't make it, but they did. We always do. Always.
The events of the last couple of nights were too fresh on everyone's mind so when Rick approached the group, the first thing he noticed was the thick atmosphere.
Apparently, Rick wasn't the only one who hadn't had any sleep that night. Everyone had this wary expression plastered in their faces and, judging by the looks he was receiving from a few people, the former Deputy Sheriff knew this was going to be a damn long day...
"T-Dog," Rick said, and the young African-American man looked at him with attentive eyes. "You take watch," he instructed. "I'll find Daryl and we'll search the woods for something to eat."
T-Dog simply nodded and grabbed his shotgun that was lying right next to him so he could take his place to watch their improvised camp site.
Daryl was just a few yards away from where the group was gathered. Like Rick, the younger Dixon had sat outside throughout the night, watching for any walkers - none showed up, thankfully.
The younger man noticed Rick before he joined him. His sharp senses heard footsteps and he peeked over his shoulder to find the other man walking towards him.
"Thinkin' 'bout hitting the road already?" Daryl asked as he resumed his task of watching the surroundings. His Southern accent kicking in and lingering in every word he uttered.
"Nah," Rick said once he stopped right beside him. "I was thinking we could go for some hunting."
Daryl furrowed an eyebrow, addressing a curious glance at Rick.
"You 'n I? Hunting?" That was something he most definitely was not expecting to hear.
"We haven't eaten anything for over a day," Rick said with a shrug. "What d'you say?"
Daryl studied Rick for a couple of seconds. There was logic in what the former Sheriff was saying. He was famished and he knew it wouldn't do good if they continued to wander around like that - they'd only be easier prays to those walkers. So he nodded.
Sliding his crossbow over his shoulder, Daryl looked at Rick and simply said, "I say let's do it."
The two men entered the woods and started their search for food. Rick was always a step behind Daryl because, truth be told, his tracking skills were minimal, pretty damn close to inexistent, so he stayed behind, covering Daryl's back whilst he did the job practically on his own.
Every now and then, Rick caught a glance of Daryl and he could see that he really knew what he was doing.
When they first met, Rick had thought the man was just another redneck, conflict-prone that was into starting fights or shit like that as his older brother, but he couldn't be more wrong. Sure there was that side of Daryl Dixon that was exactly what he thought at first, but there was more to the blonde guy than meets the eye. For starters, Daryl wasn't ignorant. He was hard to deal with, had quite a temper and an attitude that had some room for improvement but he was not ignorant. In fact, he was actually quite smart and, honestly, he was pretty important to the group.
So, since Daryl was the expert of the duo, Rick tried to enjoy the calm and beauty of the forest as much as he could; but the truth was there wasn't that much to enjoy. There were no birds singing, nor any other type of animal life except for him.
"I'm gonna check over there," Rick whispered to Daryl and indicated some point to their right. Just like he expected, his unexpected comment earned a weird look from Daryl. "Look for berries or something," he explained loosely. In all honesty, Rick just wanted to be alone for a while.
Daryl didn't seem to mind what Rick wanted to do or anything, so he just nodded and continued his way further into the forest with his crossbow at ready.
Now alone in the middle of nowhere, Rick kept a hand on his gun and the other on the knife he carried on his side. You never know when a walker is going to show up out of the blue. So he kept his attention on any sound that could break the deadly silence, prepared to attack. Nothing happened, though.
Slowly, he kept walking through the green forest, with his attention scattered everywhere else except where he placed his feet. With a strike of luck, he kept himself from going over a hill and possibly die if his head hit any of the boulders that threatened to fall - or worse, breaking a leg or something and getting caught by the living dead.
His eyes rose from the edge and what he saw caught him by surprise: just a few yards ahead of him, in the middle of nowhere, was a stone fortress rising from the ground with fences around, protecting the imposing building. There were towers in each corner of the field, vigilant guardians of what happened on the inside... and the outside.
What he supposed to be a prison suddenly seemed like the perfect shelter. It seemed as if no one could get inside those gates, but there was a voice inside him that urged him to try. That place was their best shot at surviving.
Resurgens: Atlanta's Motto; Latin for "rising again"
So, this is the first chapter; let me know what you think! Thanks for reading!