A/N-Hi all! I wanted to assure everyone that I am not forgetting about my other stories! This is something that I decided I want to play with. The updates will NOT be regular! Let me know if this is something you guys like and if I should continues it! I'd also like to let everyone know that Ann is not some crazy super hero! As the story unfolds her story will as well. Thanks and happy reading!


Short axes were gripped tightly in each of her hands. She had to time this right. Ten of the shells had surrounded her. She knew she had to do this-she just wished she didn't. With a shout she swung her left axe impaling it on the head of what used to be a man. She could feel the axe hit the skull and then suddenly being sucked into the collapsed brain. With her one axe still embedded in the shells head she swiftly turned her body into it and then swung out neatly decapitating another before stomping hard on its head. She pulled her axe and shoe out of the shells heads simultaneously, ignoring the popping sound they made as they were freed, the blood and brain matter splattering her clothes and body. Underhanded she went straight up through the next ones jaw and into its brain kicking it hard in the chest to dislodge the axe. Twirling two more were decapitated and she rushed another making sure to stomp one of the heads on her way. She slashed diagonally at the arms reaching for her cutting the off at the forearm cleanly before kicking it on its back to be dealt with later. Running the opposite direction she stomped on the still snapping skull on the ground before twirling her body and swinging her arms up in an ark to come crashing sideways at two more landing neatly above their ears. With a giant yank her axes were freed and she spun around yet again landing both axes side by side in the armless ones head. Using her foot for leverage she pushed it to the ground quickly before swinging her right arm around slicing a particularly squishy skull clean in half. Drawing both arms in front of her chest she thrust the axes in front of her feeling them sink into either side of the shells face before the tension seemed to snap and the axes were pulled through the opposite sides of its head. She stood breathing heavily; blood, flesh, and decay covering her body and dripping from her axes and watched as the shell fell, its head cleaved from it body in two pieces, with a wet thunk.

A loud whistle pierced the air. "Well holy fuckin' shit Daryl! We found us a regular walker killer." A mans voice with a heavy southern accent jolted her back to reality as she quickly dropped the axes.

She ran throwing herself at the man sobbing "Thank god! You scared them off!" She looked up at him taking careful note of his eyes-the guy was high as a kite! She tucked that information away, it could come in handy later.

The man looked dumbfounded and exchanged a bewildered look with another man she had not noticed before and pushed her away. "Darlin' you smell like ass. What the hell you talkin' 'bout? Scared who away?"

"Those men!" She said with wide frightened eyes. "I mean look what they did to all those things!" She gave another loud sob. 'Good god I missed my calling.' She thought wryly to herself 'Woulda given that woman in Sophia's Choice a run for her money.'

"Don't you bullshit me girl. We saw ya hackin' away at them geeks."

"I know! They were making me cut the bodies up! Said they were going to use it as bait!" She sobbed hysterically. "Please don't make me go back there!" Honestly she had no plan-she just wasn't going to be someone's freak show and lying on her feet was the best way she could think to get out of this mess. She watched as the other man lowered his crossbow having had it aimed at her the whole time. 'Bing-o' She thought in a sing-song voice in her head. She threw herself at redneck again latching her arms around his waist (she couldn't reach the fuckers neck) and sobbed some more. Just as she felt him start to relax she kneed him as hard as she could in the balls and sprinted swiftly grabbing up her axes before the man had even fell. As the other one raised his crossbow she took off disappearing into the woods with the men's shouts at her back.

When she felt she had run long enough she stopped, gasping for breath, landing on her hands and knees. A branch cracked behind her, and she was off running again. Chancing a glance behind her she cursed to herself when she saw a small doe peeking through the trees. Thats what she had been running from? She was about to stop running when she felt herself lurch through the air. She fell landing on her back with a loud "Oomph" before rolling head over heels down a steep incline. She saw stars feeling the skin behind her ear crack open before bellyflopping hard into shallow water and then everything was black.

-some time later-

"Hey what'r you doin' over there Carl?"

Screams somewhere in the darkness and then a sharp poke in her side, a small presence shadowing over her.

"Carl! Put that stick down!"

"Mom! I think she's alive!" A boys voice.

"Shane! Walker!" A woman screams and the shadow is lurched away.

"Uuurrrrgggghhhh." She groaned trying to open her eyes.

Shuffling feet in her direction before "Shane, wait!" A mans voice shouting. Muffled arguments and then a warm hand touching her forehead. "She's alive! She's not a walker!" The clank of metal hitting the gravel somewhere off to her right and then strong arms lifting her as the noises fade away into nothing.

The first thing she noticed when she came to was the soft fluffy pillow under her head. How long had it been since she had had one of those? She tried to sit up groaning with the effort it took before slumping sideways against the wall.

"Take it easy there." A mans voice spoke gently.

She cracked open an eye seeing an older man in a floppy hat and hawaiian t-shirt looking concernedly at her. "Didn't know that Gilligan's Island was filming out here." She mumbled attempting to arch an eyebrow.

He merely chuckled clasping a hand to her shoulder "I think you'll be just fine."

"Sure, dead walking around eating people, and I'll be a-ok." She snarked putting a hand up behind her ear, wincing at the sharp sting from the pressure. She quickly pulled her hand away "Dammit!" She snapped as the calluses on her fingers caught on the threads of some gauze yanking it away from the wound.

"Hey now! It took Glenn awhile to find all the stuff to patch you up, don't go wasting it!" The man said seriously glancing up at a young asian man she hadn't noticed, who smiled at her with a little wave.

"Didn't know it was there did I?" She mumbled under her breath before looking at the the two men "Thanks. For the help."

"Well I'm Dale. And this is Glenn" the old man said nodding to the asian. "Mind telling us your name?"

Ahh names, its funny how after being alone for so long you really don't have a use for them. "Ann Beck." She smiled at the two.

"So how'd you end up falling in the quarry?" Glenn asked.

She blushed "I was running from a deer."

Glenn and Dale looked at each other trying to hold back smiles. Glenn coughed failing to cover up a laugh. "A deer?"

"Well a doe. But to be fair I didn't know that's what it was! I heard noise and I ran...straight off a virtual cliff." Ann laughed good-naturedly, now that she was fine and away from dumb and dumber she could see the humor in the situation. "Just seeing if I could fly boys." She winked with a smile.

Glenn outright laughed while Dale chuckled before Dale asked "Do you think you're up for meeting the others?"

Others? As in more survivors?! "Hell yes!"

"Glad your enthusiastic." Smiled Dale as he stood leading the way out.

"Dale right?" He nodded at her. "Well Dale I've been on my own for so long you're even starting to look good and I don't think my psyche can handle that much of an older man." She laughed jokingly and Dale joined in. Glenn stood still for a moment sputtering and coughing and she looked back at him. "What? We may have to repopulate the human race. Haven't you ever thought of that?" She winked at the man laughing as she exited what she now realized was an RV. She was on cloud nine! Real people! She had always hated to be alone and that was reenforced heavily by just meeting two nice souls out in the middle of nowhere after having been alone since the outbreak.

As Glenn hurried to catch up with them Dale leaned over and whispered to her with a twinkle in his eye, "You're going to give that boy a stroke young lady."

Ann laughed in return "Dale, I'll be happy to give or receive a stroke just to prove we're still kicking."

He smiled largely at her "I think you just might be a breath of fresh air around here." He continued more serious, "Careful though there's some folks here either wont like your humor or that will happily take you up on your offers. Not everyone blushes easy as Glenn here."

"Hey!" Cried Glenn

"Oh Glenn!" Ann said in a happy voice "Don't worry, I'll let them all know that you're spoken for." She and Dale laughed as he did indeed blush. "I think I may have found all the entertainment I need Dale." She said smiling widely.

"Glad to see you up!" A large black man called over to the three grinning at Ann.

"T-dog," Said Dale in happy voice "This is Ann Beck. Ann this is T-dog."

The man named T-dog shook her hand. "Nice to meet you." He grinned at her. "You ok man?" He asked Glenn who was finally getting his blush under control.

Before Glenn could answer Ann winked at Dale "He's just peachy T-dog." Looking at Glenn she grinned "Don't you worry Glenn, you haven't been replaced. I just can't see screaming out T-dog in bed can you?" She teased the asian man who turned bright red again and spluttered.

T-dog gave a hearty laugh while Dale watched in amusement. "What now?" He asked her.

She smiled widely up at the man saying nonchalantly "I'm just assuring Glenn that if we have to repopulate the earth he's at the top of my list."

T-dog laughed again replying "I think I like you." Still chuckling he walked off climbing on top of the RV.

"Binoculars are by the chair." Dale called "Lookout." He answered her confused expression. "Ready to meet more?"

"Yes!" Ann answered happily.

Two blondes came running up and Dale's face softened, it was easy to see he had a soft spot for them. "This is Amy," he said motioning to the younger one. "And this is her sister Andrea. And this," he nodded back to her, "Is Ann."

"Nice to meet you." The one named Amy said politely giving her a hesitant smile.

"Nice to meet you to." She returned politely holding her jokes at bay. Ann knew from experience that women tended not to like her or her sense of humor; she tended to be too outrageous and raunchy. It was best to hold back until she saw what these two were like.

The older blonde nodded at her sticking out her hand "Gave us all a scare out there. Shane thought you were a walker."

Ann returned the handshake questioning "Walker?"

"Yeah you know-zombie, walking around eating live flesh." Andrea returned. "What do you call them?"

Ann blushed "Oh, um I was calling them shells."

"Shells?" Questioned the group around her almost in sync.

She shrugged "Every time I would say zombie I felt like I was in a video game. I figured they aren't people anymore even if they look like them. They're just shells holding no soul."

Andrea nodded thoughtfully "Makes sense." She smiled "There's a whole mess of people here just waiting to meet you. Think you're brave enough?"

Ann almost slumped with relief when Andrea smiled, and now with the teasing she was back in familiar territory. "Bring it on, but before I forget..." She smiled back a Glenn who once again started blushing and good-naturedly shook his head. "Glenn and I have this arrangement- if we do need to rebuild the world and up the non-dead humans I've already called him."

Andrea and Amy stared at her for a second before busting up laughing "Sorry Amy!" Andrea teased "Shoulda spoken up earlier!"

Amy pinked but took the teasing with stride "Don't you worry about me Andrea, T-dog and I have it all worked out." She laughed as Andreas jaw dropped.

The introductions took quite a bit of time with the amount of people there were. She had no idea how she was going to remember everyone's names. There was Carol, a quiet timid woman, her daughter Sophia who was also quiet and timid, and the husband Ed-who was neither quiet nor timid-she felt uncomfortable around him, and made a mental note to stay away. Another family introduction was Morales, his wife Miranda, and two children; Eliza and Louis. A kind black woman named Jacqui and a man named Jim were next. The last people she met were Shane, Lori, and Carl- they had this happy family thing going on and it made her smile. After introductions Glenn showed her around the camp.

"Hey Glenn?"

"Yeah?" He asked still a little embarrassed by her earlier antics.

"You know I'm just kidding with you right? About all the sex stuff?" Ann said hesitantly- she genuinely thought she could see Glenn as a good friend someday and didn't want to ruin it with her teasing.

He smiled widely at her "Sure," he said pretending to be unconvinced "Don't tell me you don't want me." He couldn't keep a straight face at this and laughed.

"Good to know." She breathed a little easier "So...on a more serious note, not to sound greedy or anything...but where should I sleep?"

He smacked his forehead with his hand. "Crap! I knew we had forgotten something." He looked at her apologetically "don't worry we'll figure it out."

He continued his tour telling her who's tent went to who, explaining watch on top the RV, and walking her down to the quarry. She smiled at the water-a bath! She could get clean and stay that way! As they walked back to the camp she saw a large tent off to the side that she hadn't noticed before.

"Hey Glenn?"


"If nobody's using that tent do you think I could?" She asked pointing.

Before he could answer her Shane called out "Thats the Dixon' boys tent. You best stay away from them," His voice lowered as he got closer. "They're no good."

"Ooookaaaay." Something about Shane didn't sit well with her-she just didn't know what. It was obvious that he loved Lori and Carl and a man that cared that much about family couldn't be that bad right? She swallowed her gut feeling back down. "Well Glenn was just about to show me the quarry so we'll see you later!" She blurted grabbing Glenn's arm and taking off.

As they got back down to the water for the second time Glenn looked at her "Care to tell me what that was all about?"

Ann shrugged, she didn't feel like throwing baseless accusations out there "I just felt like a little kid with their hand caught in the cookie jar. I don't do well with that."

Glenn raised an eyebrow but otherwise looked like he bought it. "Alright, but he's right you know."

She interrupted him with a groan "Do I have to run away from you to?"

"Really Ann, " He looked at her seriously as they headed back to camp thankfully avoiding Shane. "Merle is a racist asshole and he and his brother are hot heads."

"So why are they here then?" She wondered curiously.

Glenn shrugged "They hunt. Dead useful. Daryl's not so bad...but...hey? Are you ok? Do you need to sit or something?

Ann felt the breath whoosh from her lungs like she'd been kicked in the gut. She heard the rednecks voice from earlier today in her head "Well holy fuckin' shit Daryl! We found us a regular walker killer!" Daryl? What were the fucking odds that there were two Daryl's running around with another man out in the woods this close to each other? Zill to fucking none she was ninety-nine percent sure but just to get to that full hundred..."Daryl huh? What's the other ones name? Where are they now?" Good god, cool and collected just flew out the damn window.

Glenn looked at her like he was trying to figure her out. "They went hunting this morning but they should be back soon, since its only an hour or so till dark. Why?"

"Just wondering." ESCAPE! Her brain screamed at her. But she really didn't want to leave all the people! Ann thought quickly, ok loud mouth was high-She could probably confuse him into thinking he didn't know what he saw-the other one Daryl-was a problem. But if the camp didn't think to highly of the two then maybe they wouldn't believe them? "Really though? Stay away? They from the wrong side of the tracks in the nineteen-sixties?" She tried to joke.

"Hey Ann!" Andreas voice called out as she ran across the campsite.

"Well hey there sugar-tits. Ya bring in a cunt that knows how ta put out?" A loud drawl interrupted whatever Ann was going to say.

"Fuck of Merle." Snapped Andrea.

The whole time Ann was standing frozen 'please don't see me please don't see me please do-' her pleads to higher powers went unanswered yet again as she was cut off with a roar.

"BITCH!" Merle yelled jumping at her.

Daryl rushed along with Shane to hold the rabid looking man away from her.

"Anytime either of you wants to let me know what's going on here that would be great." Shane ended with a slight 'oomph' as Merle elbowed him in the stomach.

"That bitch kicked me in the fuckin' nads! Had to stay fer-on the damn dirt! Fuckin' cunt- cryin'-lyin'-killin' walkers! Sobbin' like a damn baby! Then jus' as ole' Merle's gonna offer her back ta camp! SHE KICKED ME IN THE DAMN JEWELS! I'ma fuckin' kill 'er!"

His story was choppy and he was still quite strung out, but whoo boy he was mad. Dale clapped a hand on her arm as everyone stared at her dumbfounded. Even Shane who was doing his best to keep Merle away from her looked over to her like she was insane.

"Let's head on over to the Camper." Dale whispered in her ear.

She nodded and ran quickly to the RV shutting the door. She could hear Merle shouting "Get offa me ya damn pig!" And then "Yeah you bes' run girlie! I'ma make sure ya get what's commin' to ya' ya' little bitch!"

Dale turned from the window looking at her as she watched Merle shake Daryl's remaining hand off of him and storm to their tent.

"Mind telling me how you know those two?" Dale questioned looking slightly amused.

Ann sighed, a little sad to be lying to her new friends. "I had come across a couple of already dead walkers out in the woods. I started chopping them up so I could move them to burry them- no sense attracting more- and Merle came out of nowhere and started shouting. He scared me and I didn't know if I could trust him so I spun a ridiculous lie, waited for him to relax, and then kneed him where it apparently hurts a lot more than I thought it would and took off." She sighed "I kept running and heard something so I ran more. That turned out to be the deer and the rest you know."

Dale nodded at her before smiling gently "Even though I think everyone will agree he needed a good kick, let's try to keep it from happening again." He stood patting her on the knee. "I'm going to go let Shane know all of this. Stay away from the Dixon's Ann, and I don't think there will be any trouble."

The door to the RV swung shut behind him and she blew out a great breath she hadn't been aware of holding in. That was close.

Shane came and had his -I'm in charge so stay away from them boys- talk with her, and a few others came in to talk/commend/and or reprimand her as the hour till dinner slowly trickled by. Once dinner had been served she noticed Merle glaring at her and did her best not to look back. She could just picture him launching himself over the fire and strangling her. Ann watched with guilt growing as Merle and Daryl stood to leave and walked off, Merle obviously still tender as he was slightly bow-legged. She sighed to herself before walking over to Glenn.

"Think you could find me an ice pack?" She sighed at him.

"Yeah hold on." He disappeared quickly into the RV and out again panting slightly as he handed it to her. "You ok?"

"Yeah." Ann sighed again "It's not for me." She looked at the Dixon tent shaking her head. She looked back at Glenn as his eyes widened. "Think if no one can find me in the morning you can point your finger at that hick?" She asked only partly joking.

"Ann, Shane said-" Glenn started before she waved him off.

"I know, I know what almighty Shane says. All I'm saying is I feel bad-it was a bitch move, and he's obviously still hurting." Ann put her hand comfortingly on his arm "Call it a peace offering. I can't see the sense in looking over my shoulder all day every day waiting for him to snap, can you?"

"Just be careful." He sighed giving in. "Holler if he shoots you."

Ann mock saluted him "Will do."

Ann trudged slowly toward the now ominous looking tent. She really didn't want to do this- she just knew she should. As she approached she heard voices.

"Dammit Daryl! Why didn' ya' say anythin' ta Shane! You were there to!" Merle's voice snarled.

A sigh and then "I got there after ya' Merle. All I saw was the girl covered in blood an' the dead walkers. I know her stories shit; but I didn' see her kill 'em is all. 'Sides yer ass was all drugged up-don' lie ta' me." Said Daryl as Merle tried to deny it "An' I don' see how a itty thing like that coulda' taken that many walkers."

Merle grumbled to himself before piping up "Well, my fuckin' balls still hurt. Gotta get 'er back fer tha' at least."

'And there's my cue' Ann thought. "Knock knock." She called out almost laughing as stumbling could be heard from within the tent, before both Daryl and Merle stumbled out-although the latter was obviously still in pain.

"The fuck you doin' over here bitch. Didn' you get the talk from master Shane? We ain't suppose' ta' be aroun' each other." Spat Merle.

"Brought you something." She said as she held the ice out.

"Don't want whatever ya have ya' dumb cunt." He smarted off trying not to look at the ice.

She shrugged tossing it to Daryl who surprisingly caught it. "Take it. Use it or not I don't really care. Just wanted to say sorry, that was a real bitch move. That's all." She turned and started to walk away only getting a few steps before she heard Merle's voice.

"Hey now girlie! Wanna' hold this on here fer me?" He called out to her back.

She stopped and turned, yeah they were good now. "Nah, I was all up in that earlier and there's not much to work with, maybe just use a corner?" She smiled and with a short wave walked back to the RV hearing Daryl give a barking laugh, while Merle chuckled to himself.

"This ain't over sweetness!" Merle called still chuckling.

Glenn was waiting for her when she got back to the front of the RV. "Still breathing I see."

"Not quite like I will be when we get through with each other later baby." Ann replied in a suggestive tone.

Laughter rang out inside of the RV as she heard Andrea and Amy call out "Whoooo Glenn!" Leading the poor man to blush even harder.

"Come on out you eavesdroppers! Girl can't talk to the potential around here in peace or what?" Ann winked at Amy and Andrea as they exited the RV.

"Hey it's the only good gossip we've got!" Amy replied.

"Hey! You know it's not true! You spread that around its not gossip, its lying! And lying is wrong!" Laughed Glenn.

"Hey, lie exaggeration. It's all the same!" Andrea joined in the happy fray.

"Don't worry Glenn we'll paint you really nice in our "gossip"." Added Amy smiling bright.

Glenn shook his head. "I'll admit I might of expected this from you Andrea, but you Amy? I had thought better." He turned in mock anger to Ann "You've corrupted them!"

Ann batted her eyelashes "Day one seems complete." She grinned.

The carefree moment was broken when Shane barked from atop the RV. "Y'all need to get to bed! You don't want to draw in any geeks do you?"

A pathetic chorus of "No's" went into the night air as everyone headed off to bed. "Glenn!" Ann whispered grabbing his arm. "I don't know where I'm sleeping!"

"Oh damn! I'm sorry! They were talking about maybe the tables bench in the RV?"

She arched an eyebrow. "I have no ass Glenn, and what little I have barely fit on there." He looked so upset that she waved him off. "Don't worry sweetheart, I won't mess with your virtue tonight."

He looked extremely uncomfortable as he said "Well I-you can sleep 'next' to me if you want."

She snorted "Go on you prude. I'll sleep on the damn bench." Ann smiled trying to reassure him. "Go on I'll be fine."

"Well, if you're sure..."

"I'm sure."

"Ok then." And he was off like a fucking flash.

She shook her head ruefully at his retreating figure. These people don't owe you anything. It's your own stupid fault that you're on a stupid bench' She thought mentally banging her head on a wall. Try as she might she could not get comfortable on that damn bench. She tossed and turned as much as she could on the little spot before quietly leaving the RV.

"Who's out here." T-dog called from the top of the RV-he must have switched with Shane.

"Just me T." She whispered as quietly as she could. "Can't sleep."

"Alright." He muttered "Just be careful. Don't go out of sight."

"Thanks T." She said gratefully. Not that she cared for Ranger Shane but she didn't want to make life hard for everyone. She walked as quietly as she could to sit beside the mostly dead fire and spread out on a log. The next thing she knew she was on her face in gravel with Merle turning cherry red to keep his laughter in. Even the stoic Daryl cracked a smile.

"God dammit!" Ann tried to whisper quietly. "You're an ass!"

"Told you it weren't over darlin'." Merle sniggered quietly.

She stayed on her back and groaned "Well is it over now you heartless son of a bitch? I swear I just got to sleep and your grudge holding ass-"

"I knew ya were thinkin' 'bout my ass darlin'." Merle interrupted her.

She flipped him off and groaned again "You had your fun dick wad. Lemme go back to sleep." She muttered closing her eyes. As dark as it was out at midnight she was a little surprised when she saw a shadow over her through her closed eyelids. She cracked an eye open and then blinked a hand was about a foot away from her face. Blearily she reached for it and was practically launched off the ground she stumbled landing into a very firm chest. She tried to rub the sleep from her eyes and looked up before she blushed, although hopefully Daryl couldn't see that. Something told her she was never going to be that lucky. Ann took a step back.

"Sorry." She muttered again. "So what is it against the rules for me to sleep here?"

"Why'r you sleepin' out here in the firs' place?" Muttered Daryl crossing his arms and glowering at her.

"The bench for the table in the RV wasn't that comfortable." Ann snapped trying to keep her voice down. "Does it matter? It's not like I'm sleeping in the nude, I didn't think it'd be a problem." At the mention of sleeping in the nude Merle got a giant lecherous smile on his face.

"Well sugar, ya wanna cozy up with me in the nude I'm all yers." He said as Daryl rolled his eyes and then continued glaring at her.

"Merle, if that was you trying to be smooth I think you just failed." She said smiling wanly.

"Ya' hurt me sugar!" Said Merle dramatically clutching at his chest. "I promise yer virtue will remain intact-scouts honor."

At this she snorted "I highly doubt you were ever a Boy Scout Merle. And besides what virtue I may or may not have is definitely not ever going to be something you're going to have anything to do with."

"Fuckin' hell." Grumbled Daryl grabbing her arm and hauling her off to their tent.

"What the crap! I said no asshole!" Ann said with a squeak.

"'M tired. Yer sleepin' on my cot with me." Daryl said crossly.

"You're not a fucking caveman and I'm not sleeping with either of you!" Snapped Ann stumbling as Daryl pushed her to his cot and glaring at Merle who came up behind them smiling largely.

He caught her look and put his hands in the air in a mock surrender. "Ain't me draggin' yer ass in here." He supplied innocently.

"Look." Daryl cut across the bickering "He ain't gonna' let me sleep until you find a place to. I'm tired an' I wanna sleep. I ain't gonna fuck ya so calm down, shut up, an' sleep." With that he yanked his shirt over his head and sat on the edge of the cot next to her, pulling his boots off.

He stood again and started shimmying his pants down when she squeaked "What are you doing!"

"Goin' to sleep, the fuck it look like." He griped grabbing the sleeping bag and unzipping it. He undid it all the way and motioned for her to lay down.

She sighed giving in, after all it would be nice to sleep on a cot and not the log or a tiny ass bench. As soon as she was laying down he pulled the covers over both of them and grabbed her around the waist, not caring as she tensed, pulling her snugly into his body.

"Go ta sleep." Daryl mumbled into her hair as Merle chuckled in the darkness.