Hey guys! Here's the first chapter of my new story! I already have most of chapter 2 written and I was going to wait until I finished it, but my internet has been acting up, and since I don't know when the next time I'll be able to, I just decided to post it tonight! Well, enjoy! And please tell me what you think! xx

I was never a fast runner. When I was a kid, I was it most of the times we played tag, and when we played hide and seek I could never make it to whatever was pronounced as 'base' during that game. I could never outrun whoever was chasing me, but I guess it's different when you're running for your life. I had reached the edge of town a few hours ago, and had been running through seemingly endless fields of grass until I laid my eyes upon an old gravel road that I was now sprinting down.

Did I have any idea where I was going? No. Did I care? Not really. Seeing a road like this out in the middle of nowhere had ignited a spark of hope somewhere in me, and I didn't care if I had to give a limb—although I'd rather it be an arm than a leg if it came down to it—but if there was a chance I could find people, and I mean real people, I was going to see where this thing went. Pausing to catch my breath, I looked behind me and noticed that whatever had been chasing me was gone so I took out a bottle of water that had now gone warm and began drinking it. That was when I saw the headlights.

They came from behind me, the way I had just come from, and it looked like an old, dirty red pickup truck. As far as I knew, the reanimated corpses had no knowledge of how to drive a car, so I was immediately filled with a rush of relief. My heart beat wildly in my chest, partly from sprinting for so long without break, and partly because the truck was now slowing to a stop next to me. It was dark, but I could just barely make out the faces of an nearly middle aged black man in the passenger seat, he was closest to me, a young girl (maybe Hispanic?) sitting in the middle, and a younger man, only looking a few years older than me, driving. There was also a larger man in the bed of the truck who looked a few years older than the driver. Not seeing any skin rotting off their bones, I quickly walked up to the vehicle.

"Do you need help?" The older man shouted over the roar of the engine. It sounded as if it'd been running for decades.

Before I could speak, the driver beat me to it. "We're heading back to my dad's farm," he said, then once he took a closer look at me he added, "Man, you don't look so good. Come on, hop in the back with Chet. I'll take you down to my dad's place with us. We can do the introductions there."

Every kid I've ever known was raised up to say no to strange men pulling up beside you in an old truck. Well… I guess I should have listened to my parents more often.

"Thank you!" I nearly shouted, overwhelmingly grateful for the chance to rest my legs, even if only for a second.

They waited until I was sitting safely to begin driving again, and I introduced myself to the man sitting across from me.

"Hi," I said almost shyly. "Chet was it?" I asked, getting a nod in return. "My name's Emily."

"Nice to meet you, Emily." He said with an accent, making me smile.

I pulled my knees up to my chest and rested my chin on them. "Do… do you know how this happened?"

For a moment he looked saddened, but quickly shook his head. "No idea. Me and Shawn were just drivin' through town when we ran into 'em." Sighing, he shook his head again. "I hope all o' this is over soon. Mama's not gonna be too happy when she finds out…"

I simply nodded, not knowing what to say. How could I tell a random stranger that my parents were dead? Not to mention both of my sisters, also. Shaking my head, I forced those thoughts away. If I thought about them now, I knew I would begin sobbing again and that would be mortifying in front of these people. I just hoped they would let me stay long enough to get a decent meal. It was only my first day in, and I was already beginning to grow tired of granola bars. And I only had about one left.

We began slowing down as we pulled into a makeshift driveway in front of an old, white, wooden house that appeared as if it were ready to crumble from years of service. After the driver, who I assumed was the one named Shawn, shut off the engine, Chet and I hopped out of the truck.

"Hey, Shawn… I'm a' run on home," he said, stretching his limbs. "Mama's gonna be in a snit."

"No sweat man, I'll catch you tomorrow night," the driver replied. So he was Shawn.

"It was nice to meet you all," Chet said, referring to me, the older man, and the little girl.

As Chet walked away, the girl grabbed onto the man's hand. Was she his daughter?

Before I could process any other thoughts, a man in around his sixties walked out of the door to say "Thank god you're okay."

"I was worried it'd be bad here, too." Shawn said, hugging the man, so I assumed they were father and son.

"Been quiet as usual the past couple days," the old man said. "Ol' Breckon down the way thinks his mare's gone lame, but that ain't nothin' new."

"I wouldn't have made it back without Chet."

"Well I'm glad you took him with you, then," he said, then turned to the three of us. "You brought a couple guests!"

Shawn looked at us, as if remembering we were there. "Oh yeah, dad, this is Lee. Him and Clementine helped us get out of town back there. And this is…" he paused, looking at me. "Oh yeah, we never learned your name."

"It's Emily." I said, nervously scratching the back of my head.

"This is Emily," he repeated as though his father didn't hear. "We drove by when she was just wandering down the road all alone. We couldn't just not help, you know?"

"T-thanks again, by the way… If you guys hadn't found me I'd probably be a goner by now," I said, smiling at Shawn and the old man.

"Yeah, us too," Lee added. "Your boy's a life saver." I nodded in agreement.

"Glad he could be a help to somebody," the man replied, and I honestly couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic or not. Looking down at Lee's leg, he noticed a gash right above his knee. That was the first time I'd seen it, too, and my eyes grew wide. "Looks like you hurt your leg pretty bad there," he said, but I wasn't so calm about it.

"Oh my god, are you alright?" I asked, wondering how on earth he was still standing.

"Well," he said taking in a breath. "It's not doing so good."

"I can help you out," the man said, then turned to Shawn. "Shawn, run on in and check on your sister. You," he said, pointing to Lee. "Take a seat on the porch and I'll see what I have."

Lee and the older man, who I still don't know the name of, walked up to the porch, but the little girl (I think her name was Clementine?) hesitantly stayed behind.

She looked up at me. "Are you parents gone, too?" She asked in a weak voice.

I looked down at her, shocked and confused. "Huh?" was all I seemed to manage.

"My parents are in Savannah. They left me with a babysitter, but she turned into a monster and Lee killed it. Where are your parents?"

I was stunned. This little girl sure was something else. "U-um…" I didn't want to think about them, not now. That was when I noticed Shawn coming back out of the house. "W-why don't we go see how Lee's doing?"

"Okay," she said, but I had a feeling she wasn't going to drop it.

When we walked up to the porch, Shawn was talking to his dad about what's been happening when he looked at Lee. "Lee, come on, tell him what you saw out there!" Then he noticed Clementine and I standing there and put me on the spot. "What about you, Emily? You had to have seen something!"

"Y-yeah… there were dead people… coming back alive to eat the living. They were everywhere…"

"Well do what you think you should," the man said. "We've got plenty of chores as it is."

"Everyone can help out in the morning. We gotta do it, really."

"I already said okay."

When Shawn's dad (I should really learn his name) turned back to Lee to talk to him about his injured leg, Shawn looked over at me. "Can I get you anything?" he asked. "Something to drink?"

"I-I don't want to intrude…" I said, even though I was dying to have something cold to drink. Anything other than warm water or a granola bar.

"Nah, come on. You looked exhausted when we picked you up."

I walked up and was about to enter the doorway when he turned to Clementine. "What about you, sweetie? You want anything?" I couldn't help but smile at how well he spoke to her, and then I remembered his dad saying something about a sister. Maybe she was around Clementine's age?

She thought for a moment before widening her eyes and smiling. "Do you have any apples?" She asked with excitement.

He smiled back at her. "We sure do. I'll be back with the biggest one here in a minute, okay?"

Her grin spread across all the way across her face as Shawn and I stepped inside.

The kitchen was to an almost immediate right, just past the dining area, and I noticed how old-fashioned and, well… home -y everything looked.

"So what would you like?" he asked, his head in the fridge. "We have apples, oranges, bananas, corn—oh man, we have tons of corn…"

I laughed shortly before answering. "I'll just have an apple—oh, and do you have anything to drink other than really hot water? All I've been running on today is granola bars and water that feels and tastes like it's been left in the car all day."

It was his turn to laugh, tossing me a bright red apple. "Yeah, sure… here." He took a bottle of water out of the fridge and as soon as my hand touched it, I could feel the cool condensation rubbing away onto my fingers. The second he let go of the bottle, I was unscrewing the cap so fast you'd think I'd been lost in the desert for months, not running across town for ten hours.

"Woah, easy there, girl. Don't wanna drown yourself."

I quickly swallowed a large gulp and blushed. "S-sorry… I've just been running from those things all day."

He chuckled. "I get it, I get it…" he went silent for a moment then turned to me again. "So how old are you?" He asked, and I even though I wasn't that surprised, it was still enough for me to nearly choke on my water. Good going, Em.

"Um fifteen," I answered after a few coughs.

His eyes widened. "Wow, really?"

"Yeah… I'll be sixteen next month, though."

"Wow," he said. "Don't think I'm weird for saying this, but you look a lot older."

I felt my face heat up, but tried not to think about it. "Nah, it's cool. People tell me that all the time. How old are you?"

"Twenty. I'll be twenty- one next March."

"Ah… Well shouldn't we be getting back out there? Clementine probably wants her apple." I said after a few moments of awkward silence.

"Oh, yeah."

Just as I predicted, Clementine was still waiting on the porch when we got back, but Lee and Shawn's dad were over in the barn. After a quick 'Thank you', the young girl ran off to join them.

I turned and looked at the man next to me. "Yeah, thank you. And not just for the apple, for picking me up back there, too. I know I've already said this, but I don't know where I would be right now if you hadn't."

"No problem," he said. "It was the least I could do."

"Well, I guess I'd better get to bed—er, barn…"

Shawn laughed. "Hey, it's not that bad, I've been out there plenty of times," I started to smile, but then he continued. "Just watch out for spiders."

Not being arachnophobic, I laughed. "Will do," I said and headed down to the barn with the others. I got down there just as the older man was walking out.

"I left an extra sleeping bag in there for ya'," he said with a kind smile, which I returned.

"Thanks."

As he began walking away, I quickly turned around, remembering something. "Uh, sir? I just remembered: I didn't catch your name earlier," I said, oblivious to the accent I was picking up on.

"The name's Hershel Greene, miss. Now go on, you're gonna be wakin' up bright and early in the mornin'." And with that, he turned and left.

When I entered the barn, Lee and Clementine were laying down their sleeping bags and I noticed the extra one next to them.

"Here," Lee said and he handed it to me.

"Thanks," I said with a shy smile. "And thanks again for picking me up back there."

"Hey, no problem. I'm just glad to see another living person."

I looked down to see Clementine already fast asleep behind him.

"Is she your daughter?" I asked, noticing how sweet and innocent she looked when she was sleeping. But then again, so did most people.

His eyebrows furrowed as he spoke. "No, I uh, was running away from those things when I ended up at her house. She was hiding up in her treehouse, but I guess the babysitter wasn't so lucky and she uh… you know…"

I nodded. I did know, she had told me something about that earlier.

"Where are her parents?" I asked, trying to remember what she had said about them.

"Savannah, I think," he said. We were almost whispering now. "I heard some messages on her answering machine, but by then I think it was too late…"

"O-oh…" I whispered once it fully dawned on me what he meant. He gave a slight, but grave nod.

"Well, I better get to sleep. You should, too. From what I hear we'll be waking up pretty early in the morning."

He nodded again, looking back down at Clementine. I laid out my blanket to the left of the barn door and turned back around. "Talk to you later."

"Yeah," he said, and we both laid down, but I knew neither of us got any sleep for a while.

Not matter how hard I tried, I couldn't avoid the thought of my parents. When my mom saw Mr. Baker, she probably walked up to have a nice, simple chat with him. Little did she know, all he wanted was a snack.

I turned over to my other side, already feeling the familiar warm salt water trickle down my cheeks. Even though I was happy to have my life, I still desperately hoped I would wake up in my bedroom tomorrow, wondering why I had such a strange dream.