Disclaimer: I don't own The Walking Dead. This chapter is entirely original and takes place between the episodes When The Dead Come Knocking and Made To Suffer.
The Girl I Love
I loved my little sister. I loved her from the moment I first saw her. There wasn't anything I wouldn't have done for her and keep her safe in this gone to Heck and Hades world that we lived in now.
It wasn't her fault that mom died. She just came when she did. Besides, Beth had told me that mom thought she would die because of her pregnancy. It had to do with her having me. Things like that can happen. I should know. I was there when she died. When I killed her.
I'm the one who chose her name, Judith. It was the name of my third grade teacher, Judith Mueller. She was really nice and taught me a lot of stuff. I saw her all the time in the neighborhood when I was younger. Before she moved, she had lived four doors down the street from us. She was a good friend to my mom. That's why I chose the name.
Dad had already loaded the car with weapons, when he pulled me aside and told me to keep everyone else safe if he didn't make it back. That's when I told dad the name. "I think Judith's a fine name," dad said, smiling. I had wanted to go with them, but I understood the importance of keeping the group safe, especially Beth and Judith.
What I loved most about Judith was the way Beth took care of her. Almost as if she was her own. One time she even told me that she had always wanted a baby. No one had asked her to. She just did it naturally. Feeding her, rocking her to sleep, singing to her, holding her, all of it. Part of me giving Beth the Colt was because of Judith. It wasn't just about keeping Beth safe. If Beth was the one taking care of Judith, she had to be able to protect her.
That was one of the really great things about Beth. She was good. Maybe it was the being a Christian thing. I even let her read the Bible to me once or twice. I didn't really understand it but maybe I wasn't supposed to in the grand scheme of things. I was pretty sure there was no God. People evolved. Do you know who taught me that? Mrs. Mueller that's who.
Looking at Judith was like looking at a miniature version of me. Her little hands and her little feet, she was perfect. She didn't even cry that much. You could tell that we were related. The problem was of course, who was the dad? Her brown eyes were just like moms, and Shane's. They looked like Shane's eyes.
I knew what sex was even if I hadn't had it yet. Shane and my mom had had sex. It didn't take rocket science to figure that out. Looking back, I couldn't really blame my mom. It wasn't her fault. She thought my dad was dead. Shane lied and told us both that and we believed it. Then dad came back alive. That was what started the trouble. I wished I had been nicer to my mom and forgiven her when she was still alive, but now I couldn't.
At first, I was unsure of how dad would react to Judith because of the parental issue. Mom and dad had been really distant after the farm. If we were living in the old world, they would have gotten a divorce. I knew it wasn't mom's fault, Shane had lied and said dad was dead. Shane was okay at first, but later he went nuts. The same way dad was going crazy because of my mom's death. It's not good to watch someone lose it, but that was what was happening to dad. Hershel said it was from the stress.
Shane had been like a father figure to me. Without him, we wouldn't have survived the first few weeks. He showed me how to do stuff. Tying knots, fishing for frogs, how to use a knife without cutting myself, and of course, he taught me how to use a gun. The first gun he gave me was the Colt Police Special. I think he gave it to me because it was the smallest one. He taught me how to load and fire it. It was the one I gave to Beth, the one mom carried, the one mom swore the pact on. I glanced at her every now and then to make sure she still had it. She couldn't go unarmed again. It was too much of a risk. What happens if we get overrun again?
I waited until we were alone in the common room. "Hey Beth," I said. "You have your gun. How many bullets do you have on you?"
"Just the ones in the gun Carl," she replied chipper as all get out.
I had to work not to roll my eyes in exasperation. Beth was nice and all, but in some things she was a complete doofus. I said once to carry extra rounds with her and she wasn't doing it. Just like she hadn't listened to me earlier about carrying her gun with her at all times. Things like that can get you killed. Holding on to my temper with both hands, "You need to carry more bullets than just that. Here," I said holding a half-empty box of thirty-eight ammunition out to her. "I have some more, you should carry at least twelve extra." Then I paused and reached into my back pocket, "Oh and I found you a speed loader too." I said this casually not mentioning the three hours it took for me to finally find it underneath a car seat.
"Oh, thanks Carl!" Beth chirped brightly before continuing, "What's a speed loader?"
Beth! You idiot! If you could see what I was thinking, you wouldn't be smiling right now. Instead of getting mad I said, "A speed loader is a device that holds six bullets so you can reload your gun faster than putting in the bullets one at a time. Let me show you how to use it."
I set the speed loader and box of ammunition on the table and took Judith from Beth. I rocked her back and forth while I spoke, "Okay first dump all the bullets out of the gun." Beth tried and couldn't get the barrel to slide out. Sighing mentally I said, "Here let me show you. You push the lever down here to open it. The bullets fall out like this," I demonstrated as a stray round fell off the table. "You take the speed loader, align the bullets with the slots like so, and put it in. Then you slide off the speed loader like this and flip it shut. Now you're ready to shoot. To reload the speed loader you just insert more bullets like this," I said suiting action to words.
Beth and I went through it several times before she finally saw how to do it. "Now listen to me, you have to keep your gun on you at all times. Keep the loader where you can get to it quickly. Remember it takes a while to reload. If you fire your gun and nothing is happening, put in more bullets if you get the chance. Just remember the shells will be hot after you shoot so don't burn yourself. Lift them out with your fingernails."
"Okay, do I have to cock back the thing before I fire it?"
"You mean the hammer? No, just pull the trigger. You can cock the hammer before firing the gun, but you don't need to. Just remember to keep the gun, speed loader, and at least a dozen bullets on you at all times. Keep it near you when you sleep and don't go anywhere without it." Here I paused before continuing, "Do I make myself clear? Don't go anywhere without your gun. Oh and one more thing, you have to practice drawing it. You need to make it a part of you. Your life could depend on it. Do it in front of a mirror if you have to. "
Beth smiled nodding and I ended the lesson there. That night I walked by her cell to see where she had it. She was sleeping in her cell with Hershel in the bottom bed (he couldn't get onto the top) and Judith on the floor in her basket with Lil Ass Kicker written on the side. Her gun was lying on a shelf behind her. About three feet from her sleeping form. The speed loader and more bullets were next to it. Good, I nodded to myself, it was close enough to get to in case of an emergency but there was little chance of it going off by accident. That mattered as well, especially since Judith was staying in the same room with her.