"Sophie, would you give it up already? Power's out, you know…", Mark sighed, watching the girl rummage through the box offices with crossed arms.

She picked up another phone, hopefully listening for the low beep that indicated it worked. Again, no luck. Over the small, plastic walls that closed off each one, she looked back at him. "You never know right?"

Of course she knew. She just didn't want to face the fact that it was hopeless, and just how desperate she really was.

"Don't you young people carry cellphone's around everywhere nowadays?", Michelle asked without looking up, drumming her fingers on a desk she'd taken place at.

Sophie proceeded to the next office, pulling open the shelves and picking up the phone again. "Yeah, I do. Except the universe decided it'd be funny to have the apocalypse on the exact day I forget," Sophie responded, her tone laced with annoyance and frustration.

While moving to the next office, Mark grabbed her by the wrist. "It's not going to work," he said solemnly. She stared back at him, her expression turning sad. She knew he was right.

"Kinda makes you miss the payphone times, don't it?", Michelle broke the silence, getting up and heading towards the door, seeing the topic as over.

The thought only lingered in Sophie's head for a split-second. "That's it!", she shouted, hope raising in her again. "I pretty sure I passed one by getting out of Atlanta, I could use that one, right?"

"You're… pretty sure?", Mark remarked, believing it to be false hope. But, the feisty girl wasn't ready to give up just yet. "It wasn't even that far! I'm sure I'd make it on foot…"

Michelle had stopped dead in her tracks. "Now you listen to me. There is no way in hell, I'm letting you walk out of here just like that.", she started, walking towards her. "Trust me, you'd be signing your own death warranty," the taller woman promised, stopping right in front of Sophie, staring her down, in a serious, yet worried, way.

But, Sophie's stubbornness knew no bounds. She dared stare back at the woman, yet her voice was faltering. "I need to make sure the people I care about are alright."

Silence lingered in the room. Neither of the women said anything else. Michelle was fully aware of the feeling tugging at her, urging her to give in to the patch of hope and cling on to it. Her skeptical side told her it was a bad idea though. But… She wanted to know too…

"You're not going anywhere like this, either way," Mark interrupted her thoughts. Sophie turned her attention to him now, raising an eyebrow, but Michelle seemed indifferent. "You… Should learn how to shoot a gun first," he argued. "You were helpless when we found you."

Sophie stared at a black spot on one of the floor's tiles, thinking of the baseball bat lying on the floor in the lobby room now. She'd used it as a weapon, but if the three of them hadn't showed up, she would've been done for.

Looking up again, she nodded, admitting her defeat. For now. "I guess you're right… But, after tha-"

"After that," Michelle interrupted her, "we'll see."

Reluctantly, Sophie gave a nod.

"Let's go see if Alex had any luck at finding more weapons," Mark suggested, pulling Sophie along towards the door. "You can start training right away. I'm sure Michelle can teach you a thing or two."

Sophie let herself be dragged along, but looked back at Michelle who didn't move from her spot. "You coming?", she asked, tilting her head.

Michelle looked over her shoulder and shook her head. "You guys go ahead, I'll be there in a minute."

A moment later, she heard the sound of a door falling back into the lock. Without a word, she moved towards a desk. She moved some paper off of a white porcelain ashtray. Just as she'd left it, she picked up the five quarters that were in there. Just in case.

(-)

Michelle was a horrible teacher. There was absolutely no way around it.

Yet Sophie was dertermined not to give up. Even if the noise did attract any walkers, there was no way they'd get into the base undetected. At first Sophie had thought it was a big waste of ammo, but eventually Mark had persuaded her by telling her that Alex had found a big enough stash in the base to last them forever. Or at least quite some time.

So now, after Michelle had rejoined them, she was there, being trained to shoot a firearm. She watched Michelle first, waiting with the two guys. A cold shiver ran down her back, and she wished she wore warmer clothes. She placed her cold hands in her neck, underneath her red curled hair.

A shot rang out, quickly followed by a metallic ping coming from a tin can.

"And that's how you do it.", Michelle stated, pushing aside a stray strand of her short, dirty blonde hair, pleased at her own aim. Turning around, she handed Sophie the grey handgun. "Now you try it."

The girl's amber eyes widened slightly, but took the gun nonetheless. "How? Don't I get any more instruction?", she asked in disbelief.

"Just… Eh, aim and shoot?", Michelle said, not knowing how to instruct her any better.

Sophie glanced over to Mark and Alex, but they just shrugged, looking away. She sighed, and held the gun in both hands, lifting it up. A couple more tin cans were lined up, how hard could it be to hit at least one…? Right?

Aiming, yet not how it should be done, she tried making the shot. And missed by a mile.

"Ehh. Whoops?", Sophie muttered, smiling sheepishly, looking over to Michelle who gave her a soft smile. "Well, give it another go?", she suggested, her patience everlasting.

Sophie nodded, and shot again.

And again.

And a couple more times, until she had to reload. She still hadn't hit a single target. She sighed and trudged over to Michelle who'd set herself down on a half-wall next to a box of ammo. "Yeah. I can't make that shot," she admitted, sighing to herself.

"Well, maybe she's more of a melee type of person?", Alex suggested.

"I don't think so," Mark interfered, "she doesn't look that strong." He gestured to her lean figure.

"No offence," he added quickly. Sophie held up a hand, shaking her head softly. "None taken."

Sophie and Michelle shared a short look, but it said just enough. They realized they weren't the best teacher-pupil combination. Michelle looked away. "You guys try teaching her. My methods certainly don't seem to work."

"Alex, you used to hunt right? Didn't you say you taught your nephew once?", Mark asked. Alex reluctantly gave a nod, knowing exactly why he asked.

"Well, you teach her. In the meantime, Michelle, can I talk to you?" Michelle nodded, got up and followed Mark back inside. Sophie didn't know what they wanted to discuss, but watching them as they walked off, she felt as if it was going to be about her, and this whole situation.

Alex sighed, and got up. "Well, how hard could it be?", he questioned, more to himself than to her. She snapped out of her thoughts, and handed him the gun back when he asked for it.

"It's really not that hard… Just aim with this thingy here," he said, pointing to the notch on the pistol. "Line it up to your target, then shoot."

She nodded. That was already more of an explanation. She took the gun again, and tried aiming. She shot, but missed again. Though, it was less far off already.

The thing was, the silence between them was killing her. It felt cold, and she actually wanted to get along with the people who saved her. Even though he had argued to shoot her. "So… Eh, you taught your nephew? How old is he?", she attempted to start a conversation.

Alex nodded, and shrugged. "Let's say 'bout thirteen now? Not too sure, honestly. He was eight when I taught him though," he replied. He pointed at the gun. "You hold the gun too low for your eyesight. Line it up."

"I have a little niece back home. Haven't seen her in a year," Sophie said, reminded of the little girl. She wasn't all that good with kids, especially when they started crying or were just sad, but Suzie was always up to be taught something. Simple things Sophie was capable off, though. She remember teaching her how to blow bubbles, and she'd marveled at the colors.

Alex's memories, though more gruesome, reminded him of the same innocence. His sister's husband had ran out on her, and he'd taught the little boy things like hunting. The sparkle in the kid's eye, the small smiles he gave him, the happiness in his voice as he told his mother… He couldn't imagine him going through a world like this.

A shot rang out. A metallic ping followed.

For an instant, Alex and Sophie shared a look. He gave a meek smile. "Good shot."

"Thanks," she said. A moment of silence followed, and she dragged herself over to were Alex had sat himself down and took place next to him. "I miss home."

"Me too… A-and… I'm sorry for, well-eh, wanting to shoot you when we met," he said, guilt lacing his tone.

Sophie shrugged. "It's alright, I guess. You're kind of right to distrust strangers." She looked at him from the side. "But just don't judge too quickly next time."

"What, you gonna lecture me little lady? I thought I was supposed to teach you something here," he replied, smiling as he punched her in the arm playfully. "Now get up," he ordered.

She managed to give a weak laugh, before scrambling to her feet again. "It's not because you can make a shot once, that you're suddenly a pro. Keep practicing," he added, and she did as she was told, holding the gun up again.

"One more thing," Sophie started, shooting the gun and hitting another can. "There's a plan I need to talk to you about."

(-)

"Well, what did'ya wanna talk about?", Michelle asked, sitting down in a single seat, supporting herself on her elbows.

"Everything, pretty much," Mark started, crossing his arms. "First of all, though. The whole payphone idea, I think it's terrible."

Michelle shifted a bit, leaning back and scoffed. "It's not that crazy…"

"Yes, it is. She's not even sure whether she actually saw the thing, let alone how far away it was," Mark said, starting to pace back and forth in the room. "Look, I get you're worried, and understandably so…"

Mark had seen the picture on Michelle's desk before. She had a family, three kids, if he could recall correctly. He looked at the woman seated in the couch, the one that was usually energetic enough to make her co-workers feel better, and he could barely recognize her.

"… But you can't let it take a hold of you. They might just be exaggerating this whole thing, it might get sorted out in a few days," he argued carefully.

"And what if it doesn't, Mark?", she retorted, looking up at the younger man now, frowning. "What if it's the only chance we get?", she asked him, her glassy eyes cold as her gaze was fixed on him.

"It's still too risky…", he muttered as he took a seat, holding his head in his hands. "What about the girl?", he asked, not looking up. "She stays with us, we keep an eye on her so she doesn't do anything stupid. No discussion," Michelle said in return.

"If it does last longer, we're going to need supplies, too," she added, changing the subject. He nodded, and looked up. "Where are we going to get those?", he asked.

"How about the commissary food?", Alex asked as the two of them entered the building at that moment.

Michelle looked up. "Those aren't ours to use. You know that," she retorted.

"They're not going to do any good to anyone else now. Besides, you got any better ideas?" Alex responded. To Mark and Sophie, it didn't seem like a bad idea.

"We don't really have anything else. Unless there's like a cafeteria here somewhere?" Sophie offered. Even though the commissary supplies sounded pretty good, Michelle had a point too.

"There's a kitchen, where the staff used to prepare lunch, there's probably some food there, too," Mark answered, and looked to Michelle. "We could use those first, if it makes you feel better."

Michelle shrugged. "It's better, at least." She clutched her stomach when it rumbled, blushing slightly. "Good thing too. I'm hungry as hell."

Sophie looked at Mark for a second, and smiled. "If you'll show me the way, I'd be happy to help you get the supplies we need," she offered. He nodded, gave a smile and got up.

"Can we have that gun, Alex? Might need it," he asked. Alex gave him the handgun from his seat in the couch. "Be careful, you two," Michelle said, sending them off.

They walked over the open square in between the buildings of the air force base. She looked over to the heavy metal gate by the entrance, and hoped it would hold off the dead on the loose. Briefly, she wondered why the base was empty, and decided to ask.

Mark looked at her while answering. "Well, we haven't checked all the buildings yet… There might be some where we can't see them. Aside from that… It's Saturday, it usually wasn't that crowded here during the weekends anyway." It wasn't exactly comforting. Mark nudged her when he noticed her uneasiness. "Hey, we'll be fine. Don't worry about it," he said, smiling at her comfortingly. She nodded, and attempted a brave smile. "Well, I hope you're right, Mark."

"So, you know how to shoot a gun now, huh?" he asked as they neared the building. She gave a nod, and smiled subconsciously. Was that even something to be proud of? She contemplated it as Mark handed her the gun. They were in front of the door now, which unlike the other, wasn't made of glass. "Then I trust you can cover me?", he asked, smiling at her. "Not that I expect anything though," he added before she gave a nod. "Of course. I'm a helluva good shot," she remarked half-sarcastically with a smug smile.

Mark pushed the door open, carefully as she held the gun up, ready for anything. At first sight, it seemed deserted, so they entered. She was just about to wander over to a counter, when he pulled her back. "Stay close, would ya?" She found it a bit overprotective, but nodded nonetheless.

They got behind the counter, and entered the kitchen. "Well… Seems clear in he-… Oh no…", Sophie muttered, walking around room. Until she found two bodies, fallen over one another. She pulled the gun, that she'd put in her pocket out again and looked back at Mark. "It might not be as safe as we thought, after all…"

He came over and stood next to her, briefly examining sight, before looking away. "They're… Not a threat to us now…", he said, voice hushed.

She gave a nod as he walked off, towards the cupboards. She looked down at the corpses for a moment. Must've been his colleagues, judging by the look in his eyes…, she thought, looking back at Mark.

She kept staring at the ground, noticing a trail of bloodied footsteps next to the scene... Leading away. Behind her, Mark whistled, impressed. "There's lots of food here."

Sophie heard him rummage through it, but paid no mind. She started following the footsteps, holding the handgun close. It led up to a large, metal door, the footsteps looking more and more as if the person dragged their feet, barely standing up. Smeared hand prints were on the door, as she slowly reached for the handle. A one way door…

She entered the cold room, a big, freezer type place. Her fearful eyes searched the room, her hands trembling. Slowly, she walked forward, and rounded a corner… Until something grabbed her ankle. She yelped at the sudden contact, jumping back best she could. The walker's grip wasn't any good, and she easily pulled loose, backing up in the room. Horror was imminent on her face, watching the walker struggle to pull his half frozen body forward, towards her.

For a moment, she couldn't do anything. She wanted to scream, but her voice was gone. She wanted to run, to shoot it, or something, but her body wouldn't do anything. She was frozen in place, until it tried lunging forward. Suddenly, she jolted back to life, even though the thing failed miserably, unable to do more than pull itself forward a few inches.

She ran back to the solid metal door. A one way door. There wasn't a handle on the inside, she realized with panic. Oh no… Oh no, oh no, oh no… She banged on the door, but barely any sound went through at all. "Mark! Open the door!", she yelled helplessly, in hope that he would hear her.

She spun around again. The walker was slowly, but steadily closing in, faster than before. The cold of the metal in her hand finally made her realize, she had to shoot it. Only now did the weight of the gun seem so much more important… Light, for something that could kill. She lifted it up. Shooting tin cans was one thing…

A shot rang out. The sound died, and the body lay still.

Letting out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding, she sighed and slid down the door, pulling her knees up as realization struck. She'd just… Killed a person.

A small yelp escaped her as the door behind her opened and she fell backwards onto the tiled floor. Mark immediately crouched down beside her, looking worried. "Shit, Sophie, are you alright?", he asked pulling her up into a sitting position.

"I-I'm fine, Mark," she stuttered. She wanted to get up, she didn't want to be some pushover… But her heart raced in her chest as she clung onto Mark. "Holy crap, that was scary…" she muttered softly. At first, he wasn't sure what to do. This young woman had seemed pretty strong… And now she was on the verge of tears. Softly, he wrapped his arms around her. "Hey, it's okay. It's over now…" He managed to glance inside the room, spotting the dead walker. A clean bullet wound, right through the head. He bit the inside of his lip. She really was a good shot after all.

Sophie lifted her head up again, opening her mouth to say something, but closing it again, staring at him. She took another deep breath. "I'm fine," she said again, her voice more stable now, as she started clambering to her feet with Mark's help. She was still a bit shaky as he closed the freezer's door after grabbing two empty cardboard boxes from inside. "So, not going in there anymore, right?", he asked, giving her a soft smile. She barely managed to return the gesture, her meek smile being more of a grimace.

"I got the supplies we need. We can go back now," he said, bringing her over to the counter where he'd been first. Food was stacked there, and she helped as he started putting them in the boxes. He handed her the lightest one, but when she took it, he didn't let go immediately. "You sure you're okay? Not hurt or anything?", he questioned, looking at her with serious, yet worried eyes. She nodded. "No, no, I'm fine. Just… A bit shaken up, I guess," she replied, taking the box off his hands. "Let's just get back, okay?"

Mark nodded, and they headed back outside, into the cold.


Author's note: Okay. I really need to get more timely updates :/
Sorry about that, I've been pretty busy lately :d

Aside from that, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed and please leave a review! Tell me anything c:
Thanks to my reviewers and the people who added my story to their alerts c:

Quick disclaimer: I do not own anything from The Walking Dead Game, it belongs to TellTale Games. I guess my own character's are mine :)