Chapter 1 - Time Waits For No One
My heartbeat wildly in my chest as I ran through the streets. Glenn was right behind me. I could smell the putrid flesh that was literally falling off their bones as I passed them. Their gnarled hands reaching out for my fresh tanned skin. The rifle held tightly in my hands but I couldn't use it. The noise drew them like rabid dogs. My eyes were set on the building in front of us where a walker was moving slowly towards us dragging its right leg. I glanced behind my shoulder to see Glenn a wide eyed look on his face as the walkers closed in behind us.
I grinned as I gripped the paper bag tightly in my hands. I adjusted the strap of the bag on my shoulder when I spotted the familiar car. I bit my lip lightly when I made out the two people sitting in the car. I took a deep breath before walking up to the police car knocking on the driver's side window. Through blue-green eyes I watched as both men jumped before whipping around to face the source of the noise. My grin got bigger as both men relaxed realizing what was happening. I tilted my head to the side as I held up the bag of food when the window was rolled down.
"Now to what do we owe the pleasure?" His southern drawl was a common sound around these parts.
"Well I figured, you two must be very hungry and I just so happened to pass by the deli on my way to work and figured..."
"You figured right!" the passenger grinned as he reached past his partner grabbing the bag from my hands.
"Damn, Shane," I muttered glaring at the passenger.
"Thank you, Mel," The driver stated a large grin on his face as we watched Shane attack the bag like a carnivorous animal. A grin on his face as he tore into the bag like he hadn't seen food in weeks.
"You're welcome Rick," I smiled turning my gaze back to his face. "Where's Lori?"
"Yeah, where's she at?" Shane asked nudging Rick but the condescending tone had me thinking otherwise.
"Knock it off, Shane," I rolled my eyes looking back to Rick. "Just let her know I'll stop by tonight. I still have her dishes from the barbecue."
"I'll let her know," Rick nodded.
"You boys enjoy your day." I pushed my body away from the car.
"I thought you had the day off?" Shane called out through Rick's still open window.
"Short staffed at general so I got called in," I responded opening my jacket to show him the scrubs.
"Be careful!" Shane called out.
"It's a trauma ward, Shane not a battlefield!" I laughed before walking down the sidewalk.
"Melody, they're coming!" Glenn shouted.
"I can see that, Glenn," I growled as I took the butt of the shotgun and slammed it across the walker's face. The bottom of the walker's jaw ripped away from its mouth sending the lower mandible flying across the alleyway. I had to stop myself from gagging as blood poured from the wounds. I took the gun cocking it before letting a buckshot into the walker's head putting it down.
"MEL!" Glenn yelled after the echo of the shot faded. I looked to the end of the alley my eyes widening seeing what I had done. Glenn was frozen to his spot as the moaning and groaning got closer and closer. I reached forward and grabbed the sleeve of his jacket, pulling him along towards the building. I pulled open the door shoving Glenn in first before pulling the door closed behind me, the door shuttering from the force.
"That guy is still out there!" Glenn stated as he tried catching his breath. I quickly locked the door before whipping around to face the young Asian. I'm sure I had a look that could kill on my face.
"I almost got eaten because you wanted to save one guy?" I growled my grip on the gun tightening. Glenn took a step back putting his hands up in defense. "Where is he?"
"Follow me," Glenn said hurriedly before bolting up the stairs. I looked back at the bolted door before hurrying up the stairs after him.
I moved around the beds in the ward making sure everything was good with their vitals and that their charts were up to date. I came to a stop seeing a young girl laying in the bed moaning holding her stomach. She was running a high fever so there were ice bags laying on her arms, legs, and chest. I checked her charts and noticed the fever was only growing worse. She had an abnormal bite mark on her left arm she had sustained from one of our local homeless men. I sighed placing more ice on her skin before moving to the next patient when my pager went off.
There was an incoming trauma. I quickly headed to the trauma bay pulling on a pair of gloves as I did. I noticed another nurse and a doctor as well as a few other waiting patiently for the ambulance to pull up. I could feel my heart start beating faster as the wailing ambulance pulled into the bay. My heart dropped as I noticed the police car following right behind with it lights on. The doors to the ambulance swung open as two medics jumped out pulling the gurney out behind them. I looked to the police car and watched as Shane stepped out of the cruiser alone. My gaze went back to the gurney.
"Rick?" the words left my lips in a whisper as I stared at the man his chest and shoulder covered in blood. I found myself frozen to the spot as the gurney came rushing past me. I pulled the gloves off my hands realizing I couldn't be in the room with them. It was personal and that was a big stipulation. No personal cases. I lowered my head as they rushed Rick past me, the lead nurse pressing on the bag allowing air through the intubation tube in his throat.
"Melody!" Shane's voice broke through the dull buzzing in my ears. I whipped around to see Shane coming towards me a torn look on his face.
"What happened?" I asked as the sounds of the hospital came back.
"We got a call about two men, armed...There was a third guy, Mel. Someone screwed up and Rick-" Shane cut himself off as he put his hand to his head. "I didn't see him in time."
"Does Lori know?" I asked choking back the emotion as it rose in my chest.I had to keep calm especially since Shane looked like he would fall apart at any moment. He shook his head. "Shane you have to tell her."
"What am I supposed to tell her?" He asked shaking his head.
Glenn handed the binoculars to me as we stood up on the rooftop. I took them and put them up to my eyes before looking in the direction Glenn had pointed out. They were like ants, the walkers were. They were climbing over one another as they feasted on something very large. A horse according to Glenn. I shook my head as I turned the binoculars to the large tank several walkers were clawing at.
"He's in the tank?"
"How the hell did he manage to get in there?" I asked, pushing the binoculars into Glenn's chest glaring down at the walkers. Glenn shrugged his shoulders putting the binoculars to his eyes as I pulled the walkie from his belt. He whipped around to face me a confused look on his face. "You found him...go get him." I pressed the radio to his chest before turning and stalking away from him.
"What?" Glenn asked his voice reaching me across the roof.
"You heard me tough guy," I responded as I reached the door to head down into the building. "You found him. You go and get him."
"But the geeks-!"
"I'm sure you'll figure something out, Glenn," I replied. "If you really don't wanna do it then leave him out there to die. It's your choice!"
I pushed the door open and descended into the darkness of the stairwell. I pulled out my flashlight and carefully made my way down the stairs, my gun out ready to fire if I needed to. I wasn't worried about the noise at this point because the walkers had all converged outside our store anyways. The moron trapped in the army tank was to thank for that one. I finally reach the bottom landing when my body was slammed against the wall causing my gun to fall from my hands and hit the ground with an echoing clatter.
"Sh, just me sweet cheeks," Merle's hot breath was near my ear as I struggled.
"You pig," I growled, pushing him away from me pointing my flashlight at him before reaching over and picking up my gun. "Now is not the time Merle. Should have left you at camp."
"You'll fuck my brother but you won't give me a second glance?" Merle slammed his hand into the wall blocking my exit.
"There's a difference between you and Daryl," I stated my eyes boring into his. "He's actually attractive."
Merle's lips curled up but before he could say anything several loud gunshots rang out. I pushed his arm out of the way before I started running towards where the others were waiting. I could feel Merle right behind me, his leering gaze I'm sure was on my ass but I didn't have time to think about that. Glenn and I were supposed to lead these people into the city for more supplies and now everything had gone to hell. The walkers were swarming there thanks to the cowboy in the tank. The walkie on my hip began to crackle as Glenn's voice came through the speaker.
"I'm back, plus four geeks in the alley!"
I whipped around to say something to Merle only to find he wasn't behind me anymore. I shook my head before running out to the main part of the store, jumping back when I saw all the walkers at the glass doors trying to break in. There had to be close to a hundred or more crowding around trying to get in. They all looked gruesome in their own way their groans and growling the only thing really that made me shudder.
"Mel!" Andrea's voice cut through the growls of the walkers. I turned quickly on my heel my gun raised as Morales came out of the back first talking to someone about surviving.
I could feel my jaw dropping as my eyes went wide. My grip on the gun loosened as Morales, T-Dog, Andrea, and Jacqui walked in...but they weren't alone. In front of them stood Rick Grimes. I could feel my heart beating quickly as I stared into his familiar set of blue eyes. I could see the shock and relief cross his face as he recognized who I was. I quickly walked forward the gun hanging limply at my side before I threw my arms around Rick's neck pulling him close. I felt his arms wrap around me in a tight embrace pulling me close. I felt his hand on the back of my head as we stood there.
"I thought you were dead," I whispered softly as I buried my face in his neck.
"So did I," Rick whispered as he pulled back slightly looking down at me. "Are they-?" he asked.
"Alive, last time I saw 'em," I whispered knowing who he was talking about.
"Look I'm all for a big reunion here, but we have bigger fish to fry," Andrea snapped pointing to the doors.
Both Rick and I whipped around to face the doors holding the walkers out. It almost seemed like they were pressing their bodies into the glass while one raised a rock above its head, smashing it into the glass. The glass cracked causing Andrea and Jacqui to scream. Rick grabbed my arm before pulling me back towards him. Usually I would have commented on the chauvinistic move but now felt like the wrong time to say anything like that, especially to Rick.
"Every geek from miles around heard you popping off rounds," T-Dog stated gruffly.
"You just rang the dinner bell." Andrea nodded to the glass.
"Get the picture now." Morales sent me a look before glaring at Rick.
Rick's blue eyes were transfixed on the glass as the walkers growled and moaned banging their hands against the glass. The walker with the rock smashed it into the glass once more causing the top of the glass to begin caving in but not giving completely. Rick stood there is horror as the rest of the group darted further back into the department store. I grabbed Rick's arm tightly forcing him to look at me before pulling him along behind me and towards the others.
"What in the hell were you thinking? Going into Atlanta on your own?" I asked, looking up at my old friend.
"I was trying to flag the helicopter," Rick spoke loud enough for everyone to hear even though his eyes were fixed on me while answering my question.
"Helicopter? Man, that's crap," T-Dog spat causing both Rick and I to look at the dark skinned man. "There ain't no damn helicopter!"
"You were chasing a hallucination," Jacqui added, nodding her head quickly. "Imagining thing, it happens."
"I saw it!" Rick stated firmly, shaking his head at them.
I knew better than to question Rick's judgment. What worried me though was the last time I saw this man he was in a coma due to a gunshot wound to the shoulder. That was months ago. The world had gone to hell since then. Shane told us that Rick had died in the hospital when the walkers got through defenses. Lori, Carl, and I assumed that meant the walkers had gotten Rick...but apparently that was a lie.
"T-Dog, try the C.B. we may be able to get the others." I pointed to the radio on his belt.
"Others? The Refugee Center?" Rick's eyes were wide.
"Yeah, the refugee center," the sarcasm was thick in Jacqui's voice. "They've got biscuits waiting in the oven for us."
"Sarcasm is unnecessary," I snapped, shaking my head at her. "T-Dog?"
"Got no signal," he responded as he messed with the dials. "Maybe the roof."
I jumped as a loud gunshot rang out above us. I groaned before rolling my eyes knowing exactly what was going on. I heard Andrea ask if it was Dixon, but I didn't respond before I was running towards the stairwell. I could feel the anger and annoyance bubbling up as more gunshots rang out. I could hear the group coming up the stairs behind me as I burst through the door leading to the roof. Merle was standing there his rifle in hand shooting at the walkers below.
"ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?!" I roared as I stomped towards him.
"You won't fuck me, I gotta get my release somehow sweet cheeks," Merle winked at me before shooting at another walker.
"Dixon are you crazy?!" Morales shouted as he appeared behind me. Merle laughed as he let off another shot at a walker below.
"Damn it, Merle enough!" I yelled.
"Hey! Y'all be more polite to a man with a gun!" Merle grinned lecherously at me as he propped the weapon on his hip turning to face us. "Only common sense!" He grinned jumping down from the ledge he was on.
"Man you wasting bullets we ain't even got!" T-Dog yelled as he jumped off the walk way and rushed towards Merle. "And you're bringing even more of them down on our asses! Man, just chill!"
"Bad enough I got this taco-bender on my ass all day. Now I'm gonna take orders from you?" Merle walked towards T-Dog, the rifle gripped in his hand making me nervous. "I don't think so, bro. That'll be the day."
"'That'll be the day'?" T-Dog spat as he walked closer to Merle. " You got something you wanna tell me?"
"Will you two knock it off!" I snapped, walking closer to them. "We're not here to settle one of your racist arguments. Merle, I'm serious! Knock it off!" I pushed Merle back as he walked closer to T-Dog.
"You wanna know the day?" Merle asked. "The day I take orders from a nigger."
"Merle!" I yelled, turning to face him.
I didn't know T-Dog was rushing up behind me. In the scuffle I was pushed out of the way my body slamming into the metal pipes my head hitting one of the rivets. I hit the rooftop and instantly felt my head begin to pound as I lay there on my back. I could feel the blood running down the side of my face before Glenn appeared in my hazy vision. His lips were moving but I couldn't make out what he was saying before Andrea and Jacqui both appeared in my vision before it was just Jacqui.
I felt my body being lifted off the ground before my cheek was pressed into the chest of whoever's arms I was in. I wanted to fight back and push whoever it was away, but I couldn't move my limbs. I tried my best to focus on the shirt that was on the person carrying me and I saw the patch with the word 'Grimes' on it.
I looked around my eyes searching every crevice possible before moving onto the next room. I pushed open the closet door letting out a sigh before moving back to the living room. I could feel the annoyance building up as I looked around. With one shoe on the other had decided to disappear to keep me from leaving the house.
"You ready?!" Shane called out from the front door.
"No! I can't find my other heel!"
"Jesus Christ, Mel, we're already late!" Shane snapped as he entered the living room.
"Well excuse me, Mister 'I-Can't-Find-A-Tie!'. It's your fault we're late!"
Shane rolled his eyes and opened the closet door that was situated near the front door before reaching in and pulling out the other heel. He tossed it to me before walking out the front door leaving it hanging open behind him. I caught the shoe and slipped it on before hurrying after Shane.
I couldn't understand why he was in such a hurry. We were going to the only bar in town and we were only going because Rick needed some 'bro-time' as Shane liked to call it. As I was walking towards the car, The horn on the car suddenly blared making me jump. I flipped him off as he laughed hysterically. After climbing into the car, I leaned over and punched him on the arm before he put the car into drive and we were on our way.
The bar, Earl's, was a cozy little run-down bar past its glory days. The only reason it got the business it did was because no one wanted to drive to the next town for another bar. Earl's wasn't so bad. It wasn't an Atlanta club, but more of a southern comforts feel. The interior was a mixture of everything from the rebel days of the Confederacy to present day patriotic. It was definitely a homey mix with some damn proud heritage. The bar stretched along the far right wall taking up the entire wall. Tables and chairs were scattered throughout the small place, but there was enough room in the corner for a DJ booth and a little dance floor. The place was usually crowded with locals and a few tourists sprinkled in.
Shane and I walked in and I instantly felt at home. So many drunken nights had been spent in this bar. Most of them were with Shane and Rick. We were nearly inseparable. I immediately spotted the final member to our group as he sat facing the bar a glass in his hand. Shane was drawn to a young blonde that was standing near her friends while I bee-lined for the lonely man at the bar. I put a hand on his shoulder before sitting in the bar stool next to him.
"Can't say I see many handsome men sitting alone in this bar." I grinned at him as he looked at me out of the corner of his eyes.
"Just waiting for a pretty girl to come sweep me off my feet," He responded, his drawl making me smile. I stood up holding out my hand to him.
He laughed before putting his hand in mine. I pulled him up so he was standing. He stood a good foot taller than me. I pulled him over to the dance floor where a few other couples were dancing including Shane and the blonde he had spotted earlier. I pulled the cowboy hat off of Rick's head and set it down on my own head before I forced him to dance with me to the beat of the country song playing from the speakers. After a while I felt his hands on my hips as we swayed to the music. I grinned up at him as I put my hands up around his neck as the song progressed.
"I swear you two are worse than a couple of high schoolers!" Shane's voice echoed over the talking and the music. Rick and I looked at each other both of us ready to burst out laughing. "Fuck and get it over with already."
"I'm sorry, Rick, but our friends with benefits ends here, Shane knows..." I grinned up at him.
"Damn, it was just getting good too. Why you have to go a ruin a good thing Shane?" Rick played along. He smirked down at me before Shane looked between us eyes wide.
"I knew you two had a thing for each other!" he shouted pushing the blonde away before wrapping his arms around our shoulders separating us. "When's the wedding?"
Rick and I both rolled our eyes before pushing Shane away.
"You handcuffed him to the pipe?" I asked as Rick wiped away the blood trickling down my face. Rick stared down at me with those deep blue eyes of his and that was enough to silence me. He pulled away from me and rubbed his own hand in pain before he walked over to the side of the roof and stared out. I stood up holding the rag to my head as I passed by Merle who kicked his feet out trying to trip me, but didn't succeed.
"Whore," Merle spat at my feet. I rolled my eyes before making it over to Jacqui, Andrea, and T-Dog. T-Dog was pretty beat up resting against the wall while the two women looked over the side of the roof at the walkers below.
"God, it's like time-square down there."
"We'll get out of it somehow," I muttered, hearing the moaning and groaning of below. I tore my gaze from the horror below to see how T-Dog was doing. I checked him over making sure that his vitals and everything were okay with no sign of concussion before Rick and Morales walked over to us.
"How's that signal?" Morales asked.
"Like Dixon's brain - weak," T-Dog spat. Merle looked at us before sticking up his middle finger slowly.
"Keep trying," he sighed.
"Why? There's nothing they can do," Andrea spoke up looking over at Rick. "Not a damn thing."
"Maybe not, but we're not just going to sit here," I snapped, standing up and turning to look at the group. "I refuse to go down like this."
Rick turned away from the ledge his eyes meeting mine. "She's right. We ain't going down without a fight. It's up to us to find a way out."
"Good luck with that." Merle rolled his eyes before looking between me and Rick. "These streets ain't safe in this part of town from what I hear." Merle looked over at Andrea who was busy packing something into a bag. "Ain't that right sugar tits?"
"Knock it off, Merle," I spoke up causing Merle's gaze to stop on me. I rolled my eyes before coming to a stop next to Rick as he stared out at the walkers below. I looked down with him before Merle decided to break the moment.
"Hey, honeybunch," Merle called out. I turned around to look at him my arms crossed over my chest. "What say you get me out of these cuffs, we go off somewhere and bump uglies. Gonna die anyways."
"Least I'll be dying with some dignity left," I responded causing Andrea to grin at me. Jacqui shook her head in annoyance while T-Dog looked at Merle in a disgusted manner.
I turned back to the ledge and looked down. There were a hundred or more down there wandering around seeming lost. Some were dragging their limbs while others were just limping. Some had huge chunks of skin missing while others were simply missing body parts. It didn't matter how they looked though because they were all after one thing and one thing only...us. Their food. It had been 3 months since the first sighting of the disease.
"More reports today about the so called Zombie infection that seems to be sending terror through the intercity..."
I sat in the lounge with a cup of coffee in my hand as I watched the TV intently along with several other nurses and staff. It was unreal. There were people dying in hospitals who then came back to life. When they came back their eyes were different and they tried biting at anyone who they could get their hands on. When they did bite someone they tore the flesh from their bones and ate it. And it wasn't just happening in Atlanta...it was happening everywhere.
"Melody!" The shout echoed across the break room. My head whipped around to see a winded Shane standing there in his uniform. I quickly got up leaving my coffee sitting on the table as I pushed my way past people. Shane grabbed my arm before pulling me out into the hallway.
"We need to get out of here," He stated, his voice low as he looked around.
"What? What are you talking about?"
Shane looked around and grabbed my arm pulling me down the hallway before screams erupted in the direction we were heading. Both Shane and I came to a halt, staring wide-eyed at the other end of the hall. There were several patients limping and moaning as they made their way down the hallway. Their mouths were covered in blood as they growled viciously. I could feel my grip tighten on my brother's sleeve as I stared at the oncoming horror.
"Town's been overrun." Shane looked down at me as we began taking steps back and away from the oncoming people.
"What?!" I looked up at him as we turned and took off down the hall screams echoing from behind us.
"It only took a few hours," Shane explained as we rounded the corner.
I screamed as a hand wrapped around my wrist a vicious growling meeting my ears. I looked up to see a thing in a doctor's coat its mouth covered in blood as it tried to bite my arm. Shane quickly threw his fist out catching it in the cheek. It immediately released its grip on me causing me and Shane to stumble back as the skin seemed to fall from the bone where Shane had hit him. My jaw dropped as the thing turned its head back to us baring its teeth before quickly moving towards us.
"Run," Shane pulled my arm. "Run!"
"The streets ain't safe," Morales' voice pulled me out of the memory. I pulled my gaze from the walkers below and over to where Rick was talking to the Hispanic man. "Now there's an understatement."
I could see the idea cross Rick's face after hearing Morales. "What about under the streets, the sewers?"
An excited look crossed Morales' face hearing Rick say that. He quickly told Glenn to check the alleyway for manhole covers alerting the others that they were onto something. I looked up at Rick who glanced down at me his hand gently squeezing my arm before walking closer to the group. I stayed where I was and watched him for a moment while the group talked. Rick was in his uniform, his badge, and gun was all there. The only thing missing was his hat. He was just as tall as I remember, though he was a little leaner. Few weeks alone in a hospital with no food or water could do that to a person. The hospital. Shane said Rick didn't make it...
"Mel, you coming?" Rick's voice cut through my thoughts. I looked over to see he, Andrea, Jacqui, Morales, and Glenn were heading for the door while T-Dog and Merle stayed on the roof, cuffed. I nodded before quickly heading after the group following right behind Rick. We descended back down into the dark building.
"Melody," Glenn's voice came from the head of the group. His flashlight shining on my face causing me to blink rapidly to adjust to the new light.
"Glenn, get that thing off my face," I snapped causing him to lower the light.
"Sorry." He lowered the light so it was on my chest. "You remember that tunnel we found the last time we were here?"
"What about it?" I asked, pushing my way to the front of the group where Glenn was.
"Right or left?" He asked softly glancing both ways. So that's why we had stopped.
I smirked before moving to the left now I was leading the group with Glenn close behind me. The kid prided himself on knowing which way to go and when he couldn't remember it really grated on him. I grabbed the flashlight from him as we descended down towards the basement the light becoming scarce. The large generators in the corner were off, haven't been used since Atlanta fell to the walkers. On the other side of the large basement were some railings that blocked off a hole in the ground. I immediately made my way towards that Glenn on my heels before I shined the light down into the hole. Anyone who had a flashlight followed my movements before Morales looked up at me and Glenn.
"You sure this is it?"
"We really scoped this place out the other times we were here," Glenn answered as he peered down into the opening. "It's the only thing in the building that goes down. But we've never gone down it. Who'd want to...right?"
After Glenn said that my gaze went from the hole to him. My gaze as well as everyone else's were glued onto Glenn's form as he tore his gaze away from the hole. A crestfallen look crossed his face when he realized why everyone was looking at him. I kinda felt bad for him, but he was better at sneaking around and scouting than the rest of us were. Well better than most of us.
"Oh...Great," he muttered. Glenn swallowed hard as his gaze was set down on the opening to the sewer.
"We'll be right behind you-"
"No you won't," Glenn snapped, cutting Andrea off. She looked offended as Glenn looked between us all. "Not you."
"Why not me? Think I can't?"
"Guys," I warned, glancing between Andrea and Glenn.
"I wasn't-" Glenn trailed off. Authority was never really his strong suit. Glenn was a quiet soul.
Rick placed his hand on Glenn's shoulder. "Speak your mind." Glenn sighed looking at me before averting his gaze to Andrea and the rest. I looked to the ground knowing exactly what was coming.
"Look, until now, Mel and I always came here by ourselves. In and out, grab a few things - no problem. The first time we bring a group - Everything goes to hell." He paused. "No offense. If you want me to go down this gnarly hole, fine. But only if we do it my way." I smiled watching Glenn take charge of the situation as he glanced between us and the hole. "It's tight down there. If I run into something and have to get out quick, I don't want you all jammed up behind me getting me killed. I'll take one person." Rick made a movement like he was going to volunteer. "Not you either. You've got Merle's gun and I've seen you shoot. I'd feel better if you were out in that store watching those doors and covering our ass." Glenn then pointed to Andrea. "You and Mel have the other guns so you two should go with him-"
"I need you out there, Mel," Glenn cut me off. I sighed shaking my head. "You're the best one to sneak in and out of places if anything ever happens to me. They'll need you." I sighed before nodding. Glenn than pointed to Morales, "You be my wingman. Jacqui stays here. If something happens, yell down to us. Get us back up here in a hurry."
"Okay," Rick put his hands on his hips as he looked at us all. "Everybody knows their jobs."
Rick patted Glenn on the shoulder before he turned away. Glenn went down the ladder first, sticking his flashlight in his mouth. We waited until he was halfway down before Morales climbed down after. Once Morales was down Rick put his hand on my shoulder and nodded towards the door. I sighed tapping my hand against the rails before following after Rick and Andrea.
"Mel, your gun's on the roof." Andrea stared at me wide eyed as we walked out into the main department store front. A slight smile fell onto my face before lifting up the back of my shirt and pulling out the gun I had tucked away in the waistband of my jeans.
"Smart enough to have a backup." I showed Andrea taking the safety off.
"That's my girl." Rick grinned, putting his arm around my shoulder before we broke apart.
Andrea walked further into the store, giving me and Rick a funny look before I turned my gaze to the door where the walkers were still trying to get in. I could feel Rick's eyes burning a hole into me, but I wasn't sure if I should face him again. He was going to ask about Lori and Carl, maybe even Shane. I didn't wanna lie to him, but I didn't wanna tell him the truth either. Lori was sleeping with Shane. I knew it the moment Lori came out of the woods glowing one day.
"Have you seen 'em?" Rick's voice broke through my thoughts. I slowly turned around to see him watching me for any indication of the worst.
"I saw 'em," I nodded looking around to see where Andrea was. She was over by the jewelry.
"Fine?" I asked turning my gaze back to Rick. "Yeah. Last time I saw 'em."
Rick let out a sigh, "They made it out."
"Shane too," I stated weakly. "We've been keeping an eye on 'em. Especially Carl."
I stood there in front of Rick my gun hanging in my hand at my side. Rick nodded listening to what I was saying nodding his head, but I could tell by his eyes his mind was somewhere else. A tight lipped smile crossed my face admitting that information to him knowing I should let him process the information before telling him they were in the group outside the city. I went to take a step back, but before I could make the move Rick had his arms wrapped around me pulling me into a tight hug.
"You have no idea how happy I am to see you," I whispered as my cheek was pressed to his shoulder, my head tucked in the crook of his neck.
"Same here, Melody, same here," He stated softly, his fingers running through my tangled hair.
We stood there holding onto each other, as I tried drowning out the sounds of the moans coming from the front doors. I closed my eyes, trying to remember the times where we were focused on paying the bills and having a good time rather than fighting for our lives. A time where marriages were failing, friends were what kept us going and the old bar in town...
"So how do you two know each other?" Andrea's voice cut through my thoughts. My eyes snapped open as I pulled away from Rick. I cleared my throat glancing up at Rick.
"I-uh...I was on my way to pick up some friends and I nearly ran Rick over with my car...well technically it was my brother's car."
Rick grinned hearing that. "Her brother, Shane, and I had been best friends since we were kids. Mel was living with her mother in Atlanta while Shane lived with his dad. She came back when Shane had just gotten his new car."
"I didn't have my license, but I really wanted to drive my brother's car. So I kinda went for a joy ride and ended up running into Rick...literally."
Rick smiled down at me shaking his head. "After I figured out who she was we got Shane's car home and cleaned it up so he never knew."
"Shane, huh?" Andrea looked at me her eyebrows raised. "You know there's-"
"WAY too much distracting goin' on here. I agree with Andrea." I nodded towards the door as I cut her off. "We really should be focusing on the walkers."
"You're right." Rick nodded as he turned his gaze to the glass.
I moved away from Andrea and Rick but made sure I was listening. I'm not sure why I didn't want Andrea telling him about Shane. Maybe because it meant I'd have to tell him Lori and Carl were with Shane...and that Lori and Shane were sleeping together. It wasn't hard to figure out what they were up to when one would sneak off after the other. I'm sure the others saw it as well. I tried to keep Carl occupied when his mother and Shane were out rendezvousing in the woods. When Carl started asking questions is when I felt bad about lying to him.
I moved through the clothes racks as Andrea changed subjects and started apologizing about shoving a gun in Rick's face. That did not surprise me in the least bit. Andrea was impulsive and emotional. She would make a decision when her emotions have taken over. That's just how she was. Her sister, Amy, was no better. Though in comparison to Amy, Andrea was the calmer of the two.
I thumbed my way through a rack of shirts as the two talked. A familiar tingling feeling erupted in my stomach. I completely froze hoping the sensation would pass, but the feeling turned into butterflies before it felt like my stomach was churning. I put a hand to my stomach before quickly darting past Rick and towards the hallway that led to the storage room. I put my hand to the wall to stabilize myself before what little I had in my stomach ended up on the floor at my feet. I stood there retching for a minute before I wiped my mouth with the sleeve of my shirt. I could feel the tears gathering in my eyes as I slowly turned and pressed my back to the wall. My arms wrapped around my stomach I slowly slid down the wall until I was resting on the floor. I pressed my forehead to my knees taking deep breaths. My head snapped up when I heard the sound of broken glass coming from the other room.
"Mel!" Rick's voice met my ear as the pounding of feet heading in my direction followed. Pulling out my gun, I quickly stood up and headed towards them to see Rick running in my direction with Glenn, Morales, Jacqui, and Andrea behind him.
"What happened?!" I asked as they approached me.
"No way out," Glenn called out.
"They broke through the first set of glass doors," Rick explained as the group reached me. "We gotta find another way out."
"The sewers?" I asked, looking over at Glenn.
He shook his head. "Geeks down there."
"Shit," I muttered.
The group moved past me quickly except for Rick who was staring down at the floor where I had been earlier. As the group moved further down the hall his gaze moved up to my face. I glanced back to see what he was looking at and saw the puke there on the floor. I'm sure my face was flushed and my eyes were red. Clear indications that something was wrong.
I shook my head, "Had to of been something I ate earlier. I'm fine Rick."
"That doesn't look like fine-"
"I said I'm fine!" I snapped, cutting him off. He took a step back like I had just hit him. I shook my head at him my anger getting the best of me. I turned on my heel turning my back to him before stalking down the hall after the others. I could hear his boots start to follow me after a moment, but I didn't speak to him on our way up to the roof.
Once I reached the roof I noticed everyone was lined up against the edge of the roof looking for a way out. Rick walked past me not giving me a second glance as Morales handed him some binoculars. I closed my eyes before sitting down on the side of the steps a little ways from where Merle was cuffed. I looked up towards the sky when the sound of thunder rumbling met my ears. There were some dark clouds above us and some to the east looking quite menacing.
"Looks like someone made it on Officer Dickweed's shit list," Merle grinned over at me.
"Dickweed?" I asked looking over at the man. "Really Merle?"
"Don't like that, sweetheart? Well, there's Officer Shithead, Officer Pinhead, Officer-"
"Okay, Merle, I get it...you don't like Rick," I muttered.
Merle and I's conversation was cut off by Rick mentioning something about the construction site down the block. I knew the one he was talking about, but there was no way he'd make it there with all the walkers out on the street. We were in the middle of a dead zone. Those walkers were drawn by the sound of Rick popping off all those rounds. We would be lucky if we made it out of here alive.
"Yeah, but they were feeding, they were distracted," Glenn explained.
"Can we distract them again?" Rick asked, looking straight at Glenn.
"Right, listen to him. He's onto something." Merle's voice oozed sarcasm. "A diversion, like on "Hogan's Heroes"."
"God, give it a rest," Jacqui snapped, glaring over at Merle he hand on her hip.
"They're drawn by sound, right?" Rick asked.
I nodded from my spot. "Like dogs."
"They hear sound. They come," Glenn added onto my statement.
"Aside from they hear you?" Morales asked. "They see you, smell you, and if they catch you, they eat you."
"They can tell us by smell?" Rick's looked around at all of us, me included, in confusion.
"Can't you?" Glenn asked.
"They smell dead, we don't. It's pretty distinct," Andrea added.
Rick looked down to the ground for a moment. I could see the wheels turning in his head as he thought up a plan or an idea that would get them close to the construction site. It was always something about Rick that never changed, he was the problem solver. Shane was the brawn, Rick was the brains, and I was the little sister, the distraction.
"Then we need to smell like them. We need to smell dead."
"What?" I asked my gaze meeting his.
"We hack up a walker and cover ourselves in it and walk out there. Covered in blood they won't be able to tell."
Rick didn't give anyone the chance to argue before he was taking off like a bat out of hell towards the door that led back into the building. I shook my head as the others followed after their new fearless leader while I didn't move an inch. The sun was beating down causing the sweat to drip down one side of my face.
"I'm surprised you didn't follow after Officer Douche-bag."
"Hacking up walkers isn't my kind of thing," I muttered, not bothering to look over at Merle. I leaned back on my elbows letting the sun hit my face as I closed my eyes.
"That's a shame. Wouldn't mind seeing a pretty girl like you all covered in blood." Merle's antagonizing voice causing me to cringe. "What's that there on your sleeve?"
My eyes snapped open as I looked down to see what he was talking about. On my sleeve there was some of the puke left from when I wiped my mouth off. I quickly turned the sleeve so Merle couldn't see it anymore before leaning back again my back pressing into the metal grate.
"Well well, pretty's getting sick now huh?" Merle continued. I rolled my eyes while doing my best to ignore him. "Getting sick in the mornings, getting sick on missions...sounds like someone's coming down with something..."
"Lay off it, Merle," I growled, sitting up to glare at him.
"Snappy little thing too. No wonder my brother likes you." Merle grinned before I could see things clicking into place in his eyes, the realization crossing his face was inevitable. Merle wasn't as stupid as he acted. "NAH. Well I'll be DAMNED! We got a mini Dixon on the way don't we!?"
"I said lay off," I snapped as I quickly stood up and headed towards the ledge.
"Whoo weee," Merle laughed yanking at the cuff on his hands. "Daryl as a daddy. Never thought I'd see the day. I take it little bro don't know."
"No, he doesn't," I responded, turning around to face Merle. "And he's not gonna know. If keeping you quiet means killing you and leaving you on this roof then that's what I'll do. We're playing by my rules now, Merle."
The smile on his face was instantly gone at my words. His gaze narrowed at me like he was deciphering some kind of code. He looked me up and down before his eyes landed on my stomach. He shook his head and tightened his lips before looking away.
"Not so tough now are you?" I muttered. I turned back to look down at the walkers.
"I think we should name him Cannabis."
"Seriously, Merle?" I snapped, turning around to see the redneck with a huge grin on his face.
At this point responding would have done no good. I shook my head before turning back to look out at the street below. Rick was going to chop up a walker and wear it. That was the most vile thing I had ever heard of, but it was ingenious. The storm clouds ahead though made me nervous. Rain would wash away the blood and the walkers would be able to smell them again. I sighed as I carefully watched for any signs of abnormal walkers. My eyes darted around until I spotted them climbing out from under the bus blocking the alley. Rick had an axe in hand while Glenn had a crowbar. Just then the door leading to the building burst open and the group came barreling onto the rooftop. T-Dog instantly scrambled for the C.B. while the rest came over to where I was.
"You sent just the two of them out there?" I asked, my nerves getting the best of me.
"Anymore than that it will draw attention," Morales' out of breath answer came as he stared out with the binoculars. "There!" He pointed out Rick and Glenn.
"That asshole's out on the street with the handcuff keys?" There was rage creeping into Merle's voice. I glanced back to see T-Dog showing Merle the handcuff key that was now in his possession.
"Not so talkative now are you?" I asked, looking down at him.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing that is remotely related to The Walking Dead franchise. The only thing I own is Melody Walsh she is my own creation. I am submitting this as pure entertainment.
So I figured I'd try my hand in The Walking Dead. I absolutely love the show so I hope this lives up to it a little! Hope y'all liked it! More to come soon!