70: Everything Was Beautiful And Nothing Hurt
I think people make life worth living. When I didn't have other people around it pushed everything away like nothing was real, like looking through a lens. Nothing could touch me because I wasn't really experiencing anything. Without other hearts to feel with, other people to laugh with, everything just becomes a slop pile of events. Things aren't important, nor unimportant. Things are just happening and that's all there is to it.
I have people now, a family that will be with me until the bitter end. Now everything means something.
I did not go into the day expecting it would be my last, far from it. I spent the time with Carl and Judith mainly, because I knew he wasn't feeling happy. I knew it was where I was needed.
Then it was time to go our separate ways, so we said goodbye like we always did. In both our minds we thought we'd see each other again. That's how it went with everyone. This wasn't the end; we'd be laughing together in just a few hours.
When the first explosion shook the ground I was perched on my tiptoes behind one of the exterior prison walls. I had one job to do today, my mission, and that was preventing them from escaping back to their fortress at Woodbury. Today was the day we'd end it all. That was the plan.
"They're inside," I heard the whisper over the walkie-talkie.
I clicked mine on to give the reply, "I'll get to work." I ran out into the field, crouching low as I made my way to one of the only vehicles still with viable tires.
I popped open the hood as quickly as I could and began to fiddle with the wires so we could ambush them. Surprise factor. That was what we needed. They had the numbers, but we would have the edge. I was about to yank a handful of the pieces out when I heard a door slam open, and then gunfire.
I closed the hood just as the invaders made their way around the corner.
"Shit shit shit shit," I whispered to myself as I jumped in back of the truck I'd just ruined and pulled a tarp over myself.
It wasn't until the metal vibrated by my ear that I knew I had failed. Whatever I'd done to that engine hadn't made a difference in how it ran. I felt as bodies piled in around me, and for the first time in a very long time I felt the sting of fear.
All I could do was lie there paralyzed. Surely I would be found. Then who knows what fresh horrors would happen.
I couldn't tell if it had been one minute of a hundred, but the truck came to a stop. I was still frozen; still so scared I couldn't make out the heated words being shared amongst my enemies. Just stay still; maybe they won't see you. You can get out of this.
Bang, Bang, Bang.
The popping of a semi-automatic whirled on the other side of the truck's bed, but I couldn't figure out what it meant. Did one of his own do it? Did they kill him for us? I still couldn't make out the words being said, so I slid out from my hiding spot to see what had happened.
Bodies. Everywhere. Some were still groaning from their wounds.
I can do this. Just him and me, I can manage that. Annie, you just have to move. You can't be afraid anymore. It will be over in a few seconds. Annie, get your gun. Just get your gun and we can do this. I carefully got onto the ground and pulled out my gun. For a second I thought I saw the gentleman in the nice suit, but I shook it from my mind. Focus. One shot and this will all be over. One shot and you can go back home.
As I jumped out from my hiding place behind the truck I took aim, and as I took aim a hand from one of the nearby bodies pulled me down. I still squeezed the trigger, still hoped that I could manage it.
There were two shots. One from my own gun, and the one from the Governors. Mine carried a bullet to his left arm, and his carried a bullet to the right of my chest cavity.
As I gurgled he walked over to me, laughing. The bastard was laughing as I bled out, slower than I would have anticipated, but still I knew. This would kill me. This would kill me. It didn't matter what I did. The wound was fatal.
"I could end you now," he leaned down towards me slightly, shaking his head, "You deserve to turn."
I blinked for a moment, and he was gone. Then I heard the car. They were leaving, leaving me here not just to die, but to become a monster. I felt as my closed eyes watered, but I didn't expect the footsteps. Footsteps coming towards me. When they stopped I could sense someone standing next me. Death, old friend. That would be him, come to take me to my family. I opened my eyes.
A woman was hunching over me, immediately putting pressure on the wound.
I wheezed as I looked to her, "Are you okay?"
She nodded, "We need to get you into the cab before they come back."
"He's," I could feel my heart racing as I thought of the Governor returning to finish the job, "He's coming back?"
"No, They'll come back." She lifted my hand to the fresh wound and helped me press down before dragging me towards the front seat of the car.
I kept quiet as she locked the doors and took her seat beside me, pushing down on the wound as I lay there. "The gun," as I choked out the words, along with some blood, she looked at me with fear. The same fear I had only minutes ago. "For when I come back."
She took the gun from hand and tucked it into her waist. "I won't need it," she forced a small smile as she looked at me, eyes darting to my bleeding chest for a split second, "Your people will come for you."
I gave a small nod. "I'm Annie," I feebly lifted my hand to shake hers, but only realized just how quickly my strength was leaving me.
"I'm Karen," she quickly shook my hand, and I realized just how kind she was being to me. Two hours ago I would have killed her. I could kill her right now if I felt like it, but I didn't. She was trying to keep me alive.
I wasn't going to be alone when I died. I was going to have someone kind beside me. I tried to keep my eyes open, but eventually it became too difficult. I'd catch a glimpse of Karen, pushing onto my wound, tears streaming down her face and landing on mine. "Thank you," I coughed again and more blood came. Then it was back to the darkness for a while.
"Do you hear that?" She said after an indeterminate amount of time.
"No," I attempted to lift my head from the seat but only managed a centimeter before I collapsed back down, "What - is - it?"
She was looking through the rearview mirrors frantically, "Sounds like a car." She took one of her hands, her hands stained in my blood, and grabbed mine that was lying limp on my stomach, "Might be your people?"
I felt my lips curve upwards in a sigh, "Good."
Soon she let go of my hand though, and used it to bang on the window. "It's got to be them," she was in hysterics how. Her door opened, "He shot everyone, we need to save her."
I heard another door open, the one at my feet. Then it was Rick's voice, "Annie?"
Next I heard Michonne, tone steady as ever, "Shit."
"I - got - his - arm," I tried to open my eyes, but I was too tired. Everything felt heavy; all I could do was breathe the words out. "But - he – got - me - back." I felt as hands pulled me out of the car and onto the grass. Grass. I remember that smell. We'd always roll around in the grass when we were kids, and Mama would scold us for ruining our clothes. We never cared. We just laughed.
This time it was Glenn who brought me back to reality, "There's so much blood."
"I've been putting pressure on it the best I could," I opened my eyes a sliver to find Karen's hands had been replaced my Daryl's.
Then I heard him, "What do we do?"
He was looking at me, looking at me like I'd have to answer. I'd be able to fix this one. That wasn't true, not this time. This time it was too much. The Governor's aim had been perfect, and now it was time to go. It was time and I couldn't stop myself from feeling happy. There was pain in my chest, yes, but there was also peace growing in me. I opened my eyes wide now, smile on my face as I looked around at the friends who had gathered around me. They were beautiful, the sky above me was so insanely blue. It was like I'd never seen any of it before, like I'd been blind my entire life and here I was at the end of it with a chance to really see. "We - do - nothing."
"We can fix it," he shook his head, "You just need to tell us how."
Glenn's eyes were still fixed on the growing red, "There's a lot of blood."
"So," I could hear the annoyance in Daryl's voice as he faced the others. There he is, that's him. "There's got to be something we can do for her."
I coughed again as I tried to nod, then their eyes turned to mine. Their burning eyes, filled with tears, looked at mine and I nodded again as a hand wiped the blood from my mouth. Now there was no pain. No pain at all as I spoke again, "Don't let me come back." I smiled again as I saw a figure approach from above my head. There he was. The man in the suit. My final friend. The void that had been his face bore a shape now, a visage of indescribably striking features, but I knew it was him.
I couldn't feel anything else, but I could hear Daryl yell at me, "Stop!"
So I looked back to him, still smiling. Companions at the end of the world. All of it had been near enough love for one lifetime. I let him, and the people who had joined him at that house in the woods into my heart. Even when I'd never expected to have done so. It had been exactly what I'd needed at the time, and now that time was up. I wasn't sad, or angry, or regretful; I was happy. Happy to have people with me here at the end.
As the darkness flooded the corners of my vision I took in one last look. One last look at the exquisiteness that was my life and I was not alone.
The sun was high in the sky as the white leather hit my hand. A baseball? I rolled it around for a while before I looked up to see where the thing had come from. Then I saw them; Joey was standing about twenty feet away smiling at me, and to the left there were our parents, laughing as they waved over to me. I looked down to the grass, it felt different than any other grass I'd stood on. It was as soft as fur, but it still had a coolness to it.
"There you are, Sis," Joey called out over to me with his signature smile.
I looked back to the ball, smiling as I threw it to him, "Here I am."
So first and foremost, THANK YOU FOR READING. It has been a wild ride, and I can't explain to you how great you, the readers, have been to me and how much you've made me believe in myself. You have a place in my heart forever.
Secondly, I had planned on an intimate relations scene before this chapter, but it just didn't feel right to me so I nixed it. Call it poetic license, or what have you, but it just was a call I had to make.
Third, it took me so long to get this to you because over the months of writing her I've grown to love Annie. I didn't want her to die, but I had this feeling that it was the right thing to do. Again, another call I had to make. Then I had to write her death, and all I could think was that I didn't want my time with her to be over just yet, so I put it off. Then there were papers to write, then I was mad at how the finale of TWD turned out, so I just kept putting it off. But here we are, and now she's happy so I'm happy (She's semi-real to me, I know I'm insane, but it's just the way I am).
Finally, I have to reiterate what I said first, THANK YOU READERS. I started writing this hoping that maybe fifty people might like it, but you've all given this thing a chance and I am forever happy/grateful. PM me anytime, and feel free to review this and check out my other stories. You've helped me grow as a writer, and I love each and every one of you.