This story is not going to follow the show in any order or the comic in any order. This is a Author Universe Piece with the use of a few of the main characters. If you need help placing a setting this would occur between Hershel's farm and The Prison, without the death of Shane or the lose of Merle. I hope you enjoy! And comments are appreciated.
Stacey pressed herself against the brick wall, trying not to look down at the four story drop below her. She inched closer to the window to her left, fingers latching onto the edge. Climbing up the wall had been easy, but scaling to any entrance was proving to be more complicated. The drop wasn't too much but the lack of food and sleep was playing tricks on her head. Some of the ledge was missing as well, other parts of it breaking out from under her toes. Grumbling and muttering about pointless deaths she breathed out happily when her fingers finally crawled over the edge of the window frame. Counting to three and probably doing the stupidest thing ever, she closed her eyes and with a practiced swing she tumbled through the open window. She slammed to the floor, rolling once before acting.
Pulling out her pistols she scanned the room, prepared.
She let out the air she had been holding onto, tucking her pistols away in their holsters. Finding the room clear and the main door entrance closed, she rose, dusting off her backside. She scanned over the littered papers, small desks with flip up storage for kids, and giant chalkboard, before moving to the door and peering out into the abandoned hallway.
There were fixtures all over, shattered glass amongst the rubble on the ground. A giant hole protruded from the ceiling down the hall, the sun leaking in to provide a little light. She couldn't see bodies though, only empty spaces and a few music stands and locker doors open. Her mind painted images of children running up and down the halls, laughing, yelling, and having fun. Hands all over every locker, girls trying to catch boy's attention. The thought brought a smile to her face but soon the images were replaced with the bleak reality.
She turned the handle to the door, flinching when the squeak of the hinges rang louder than she would have liked. With just enough space to slip out Stacey moved forward, keeping her steps quiet.
She needed to get to the other side, where the older kids studied. She had been here a few times for teacher conferences and PTA meetings. Her father and his new wife were always too busy so she was called in to be the good sister. She made her way quickly down the halls, peeking into the classrooms as she went, spotting more empty rooms than not. When she found a walker she stepped into the room quickly, taking it out with a slam of the bat she kept tucked away in her backpack. As she rounded the corner up on her left, the room she was looking for just down the secluded hall, she turned on her heels and high tailed it back a few steps.
"Freeze!" His shaky voice called out to her in the darkness. Stacey sighed, stepping out slowly from behind the wall, her hands up. Her bat was sitting just a foot away, leaning on the wall, but she thought it best to leave it behind for this. She spotted him just a ways down the hall, the classroom she needed just on his left. "Are you armed?"
"That's a silly question to ask." Stacey pointed down to her hips where her pistols sat proudly, the double leather holsters fitting her perfectly. The older man she had run into just down the road had spotted her the guns, some bullets, and the pretty new belt. He was the owner of the gun shop that sat just down the highway from Atlanta, and a personal friend of her fathers.
"Drop your guns!" His hands shook as he pointed his hand pistol at her, his eyes dancing around her. He was unsteady, his attention diverted by fear.
"I'm sorry but I can't do that." She kept her voice soft and light, hoping not to scare him or attract any other walkers. He didn't come off as the type to shoot and ask questions later so when he frowned she wasn't too surprised. "I need to be able to protect myself if anything comes down these halls. We're making quite a bit of noise."
"I've cleaned out these halls."
"And yet I slipped by. Look, I just need into that one room on your left." She pointed it out and he turned his head to look, all the chances for her to knock him out open, but she refused the itching instinct. "I need to grab something and then I'll be on my way, like I wasn't even here."
"There's nothing of importance in there, I've already checked."
"Maybe not to you, but trust me, there is to me." He eyed her for a moment longer, stepping forward slowly. He lined the gun up closer to her face. Stacey watched as he thought it over, his lip deep between his teeth in thought. She wanted to grab her bat and catch him off guard, maybe knock him unconscious and grab what she needed. He would survive for a few minutes of aloneness; she'd lock him away in a classroom for precaution. She wasn't sure if he was alone though. Judging, she could tell he wasn't packed for long trips, but that didn't stop him from being alone. Maybe he was dumb.
"What is it you need from in there?"
"A doll." She watched his stare soften, his hands slackening and his aim getting closer to her throat and chest. "My little sisters." She began to inch her hands down, never moving her eyes from his as his gun slowly lowered completely.
"I suppose you can grab it." His smile was soft, goofy, and inviting as he tucked his pistol away in the elastic of his pants. Just as he opened his mouth to say something a walker stepped out from the room on the right. Stacey acted quickly, grabbing her bat and pushing the young man off to the side. The three foot tall child, jaw gone, skin flaking off, advanced towards her and she swung. The crack was something she had gotten used to, but the innocent face of a child all mangled and craving flesh was not.
"I… I cleared… I didn't… thank you." The young man fumbled with his words as he picked himself up from the ground and tried to regain his senses.
"She was little, probably didn't catch her in a cabinet or something." Stacey pulled out a cloth from her back pocket, whipping the blood from her wooden bat as she stared down at the mass of red curls pooling from the now deformed head of the child.
Lydia has red curls.
"Thank you all the same, the name's Glenn." Stacey turned to him, taking his open hand and shaking it. She watched as his goofy grin returned, his white teeth aligned perfectly in his mouth. He let go of her hand and stood there awkwardly with his hands on his hips, waiting. Stacey moved towards the classroom with a nod to Glenn, her eyes now set on the danger that could quiet possibly be in the room. Glenn followed on her heels slowly and she tensed up.
The door opened smoothly, the room seamlessly clear. She scanned from the left to the right before stepping in and whistling.
Lowering her bat and taking off her pack, Stacey tucked the bat back away in the side pocket she had jimmied for it. Glenn watched her carefully, eyes glued to the guns on her hips and the holster.
"I didn't catch your name."
"I didn't give it." Stacey felt it fine to leave her bag behind as she moved forward and reacquainted herself with her little sister's classroom. The desks hadn't been turned over like some of the other rooms. The carpet was blue, stained in places. She didn't want to know why. The shelves on the far right sat full of books, the cubbies next to them completely empty save for a few places on the top left. Each cubby, as did each desk, had a name plastered on it, and it was easy to find Lydia's.
Her pretty cursive handwriting stood out nicely around the other chicken scrawl. When Stacey had written her a letter Lydia had called up and informed her that she would be learning to write just like her. So when she got a letter in the mail a month later, the print was beautiful.
Flipping open the desk she found the doll in question, sitting pleasantly on the paperwork that would never be turned in. Looking up she spotted Glenn still watching her, his lips pursed and hands on his hips. Stacey chuckled, taking the doll back to her bag and tucking it away inside. When she picked up her bag to leave Glenn finally found the courage to speak.
"You seem to know this place well. Do you think you could point me to a nurse's office?"
"Got a hall pass?" Glenn stared at her confused as she chuckled at her own joke. "Yeah, I can show you, come on." She led him out of the room and to the right, heading back the way she had come from. Where she was light on her feet Glenn found every last piece of rubble to trip over, his face red from embarrassment as she had to stop and help him.
"Don't worry about it, the grounds not the worst of your enemies." Stacey hunched down and helped him up keeping her eyes on the new halls she hadn't gone through yet. With Glenn to his feet she pulled out her bat, turning around edges slowly. They made their way easily down a flight of stairs and towards the nurse's office. They only found a few walkers, thankfully adults, and Stacey dealt with them quietly.
"So many damn floors, what kind of elementary school is this?" Glenn huffed behind her, his air caught in his lungs from the stifling heat of the place. Sweat was dripping down his face, his hair mated to his face. Stacey's fingers absentmindedly brushed over the bandana she had on her head, all the sweat being caught by it.
"One that houses elementary, middle, impaired, and excelled students." Stacey peered out the now closed door to the nurse's office. Glenn had claimed scoping out the office for the dead, trying to prove himself. Stacey let him, chuckling to herself as he got into a growling fight with a walker before taking it out. He grabbed what he needed, tucking the pills away in his back pocket and nodding towards Stacey. She opened the door and they headed out, finding a window there on the third floor to climb out.
"Thanks, for helping." Glenn nodded towards her as they stood on the edge of the roof, only three stories below them and a fence a few feet out.
"No problem. Nice meeting you." Stacey went to jump but Glenn grabbed her arm, catching her off guard. She eyed up his fingers, waiting for him to lash out and hit her, steal her things, and leave her there, but he did none of that. He sighed deeply, in thought as he stared at his own grip.
"I have a group not too far from here." He looked over his shoulder into the trees, a water tower just a half miles walk from the school. "We're right below that water tower, will be till tomorrow morning. If you're looking for someone to run with, we're open to help."
"Thanks, but I've got to go get my sister."
"I'll come with you. You can bring her too, where you held up?"
"Nowhere. Haven't picked her up yet." The worry on his face surprised her. Stacey wiggled her arm out of his hold and eyed the little alley between the building and the fence. He'd say what everyone told her. Don't go looking for what's not there. A twelve year old wouldn't survive this, why you looking? She wouldn't give up though, not when she was this close to Lydia's home.
"Be careful. Offer stays open." Glenn's smile was that of understanding and Stacey nodded, kicking back a few steps before taking a leap.
The neighborhood was a mess. She had only been there a few times to visit Lydia, as she regularly visited her back at her place. Cars blocked all entrances if not by foot, and the buildings looked worn. Picture perfect little upper class neighborhood was splattered with the dead and blood.
Stacey worked her way down the road through backyards. Her father's house was the fourth on the left, a little light blue number that reached up two stories. She jumped fences with ease, the weeks of working her way here training. There were only a few walkers that caught sight of her and she took care of them easily. As she jumped the last fence, and landed squarely in the grass of her father's yard her nerves flared up.
She didn't want to think about the words from others being truths, but she couldn't help it. If her sister was dead inside, a splattering mess of blood or worse one of them she didn't want to see it. But there was always that chance.
Stepping up to the back door, and peering in through the sliding frame Stacey eyed up the situation. The furniture from the living room had been shoved up against windows and doors, blocking sunlight and walkers. The TV in the corner was broken, screen shattered on the floor. She couldn't see anything moving though, so she reached out and pulled the door open. The smell tunneled out and she gagged, stepping back momentarily before regaining her senses and stepping in. If it was true, she had to see it.
She first saw blood, a pile of it off to the right. The kitchen was marked up with bloody hand prints and scratches, all the cabinets thrown open and bare. She lightly stepped around the pile of blood and raised her bat, leaning over the threshold for the stairs that led up. Lydia's room was the first door on the right.
She made her way up the wood stairs, the creeks and groans under her toes loud enough to wake the dead. Her heart hammered away in her chest, each movement a sin in her ears. The last step greeted her and she stepped up, looking to the left then to the right. Each door was closed, all of them clean and perfect. Nothing had been touched upstairs as much as she could see.
The sinking in her stomach drove deeper as she turned towards the right and moved towards the door in question. Her fingers fumbled on the handle out of fear. She felt the dry heave before it was there and she stepped back, her head spinning.
What if she's dead, what if she's one of them, what if she's…
She gasped, tears threatening to spill but she wouldn't let them. Easing herself forward she prepared for the worst, hand on the door knob. The door creaked open slowly, revealing the soft purples and blues of Lydia's room. Her stuffed animals at every corner, the bed made neatly in the center, window blinds drawn shut, curtains pulled closed. Sitting there, on the edge of the bed, a bag at her feet and a smile on her face was Lydia.
The little girl drove herself into Stacey's arms. Stacey took the force, buckling back and slipping to her knees as the tears spilled. She wrapped herself around the little girl, hands gliding through the red curls she thought she would never see again.
"I knew you would come!" Lydia's chirp voice broke the silence as she stepped back and smiled at her older sister. She whipped the tears away, untucking herself from Stacey's arms to head back to her bag and grab it. "Look! I have a pack and everything. Survival stuffs, a blanket, some green beans, I left the peas… ick peas, and I've got a flash light!" Lydia showed her animatedly, brushing her curls out of her face the best she could. "Can we go find dad now?"
"Slow down Lydia, slow down." Stacey stepped into the room and sank down onto the bed, groaning as she laid back on the mattress. It had been a while since she had slept in a bed let alone slept a decent amount, it felt good. Lydia watched her confused, finally taking in all the cuts and bruises, the dirt, and the attire.
"Stace, what happened?"
"A lot Lydia, a lot."
"Alright, I need you to be quiet ok. Hush hush, we're going to cut through these yards and head back towards the school." Lydia nodded, fear in her face as she tucked herself as close as she could to Stacey. Stacey had told her what she could. That something had worked its way into the humans and was turning them back. That they were out to hurt her, and she had to defend herself. She told her that the world was a lot different, that they couldn't drive and that food was hard to find. Her stomach flipped when Lydia asked about dad again, so she simply but that in the back of her head for a later date.
They moved slowly across the yard, the moans and groans heard over the chirps of the bugs. As much as Stacey could see the walkers were mainly on the road, which was promising. She looked over the fence first before hoisting Lydia up and dropping her on the other side, following afterword. They made their way over the fences quietly, Lydia shivering from her fear and the cold.
As Stacey dropped Lydia down on the other side of the last house fence, she went to throw herself over as well. She put too much weight down though, the wood buckled, the fence groaning and snapping out from under her. She couldn't stop the yell of surprise as wood shot into her hand, splinters bursting around her. She toppled over the fence, looking back to see one of the wood panels had snapped, leaving a hole.
"Stace are you ok?!" Lydia huddled next to her but all Stacey could focus on was the walkers as they leaked over the edge to see what the noise was. She rose to her feet quickly, grabbing Lydia's hand with her good one.
"We're gonna run ok Lydia? Rule number one is don't look back; number two is don't let those things touch you!" And they ran. The pavement in front of them was smooth as they dodged down the road towards the school. Each step, each pounding in the pavement pulled more attention towards them and Stacey felt her heart hammering. She disobeyed rule one, looking back to see the growing party of walkers on their tail. They wouldn't catch up any time soon but they wouldn't stop. Her had stung, the blood leaving a little trail behind her.
As they rounded the school the water tower seemed to shine in the setting sun provocatively. Stacey came to a halt, her lungs begging for a break. She bit back the noises as she took off her t-shirt, wrapping up her hand the best she could with the fabric. Lydia watched her transfixed, her lungs pushing hard as well, heart beating crazy.
"You see that tower?" Stacey pointed it out, trying her best to give Lydia a smile.
"That's where we're going. You just stick to me and we'll make it all the way there ok? We've got to lose some of these guys in the trees though." Stacey rocked to her feet, her head blurring as her eyes tried to roll back. She shook her head, denying the faint as she righted herself and took a hold of Lydia's hand. They pushed on, their pace slower than before. The road was easy, but in seconds time they were breaching tree's, shoving their way through over grown grass and bushes.
Lydia kept up easy enough, but Stacey was slowing. She could see the legs of the water tower ahead, her eyes squinting to find any sign of Glenn or his people. Lydia's feet carried her faster ahead and Stacey motioned for her to keep moving when she looked back. She watched as Lydia broke into a clearing, her little face turning towards Stacey who followed. And as she sank to her knees, gasping for air, Lydia trembling next to her, a gun was pressed to her temple.
"Don't move." The voice was a country man, that much she could decide. She kept her eyes shut, her air pumping away as she heaved for oxygen.
"She just came out of the trees?" Another male's voice, this one just as thick in accent but more worried. "What if she brought those ugly fuckers with her?"
"We'll be ready. Go get Rick." The barrel on her temple shifted as the man holding it moved, but it stayed firm to her head. Stacey finally opened her eyes, blinking away the sweat as she shuttered to breathe. Lydia was down on the ground beside her, crying profusely as she tried not to make any noise. Stacey gave her a smile, trying to tell her it would be ok with her eyes.
"What you got Merle?" Another new voice and Stacey was soon crowded. She looked up at the tall slender man that walked towards her. He had a sheriff's uniform on, his pistol in his belt, hat on top his head. She figured the man on his left was one of the two voices she had heard earlier.
"Just came out of the trees, her and the little girl. Runnin' for a while it looks." Merle stepped around her, gun still to her head as he backed up a few steps and stood in line with the other two. The tall man on the far left dropped down in front of Stacey, a solemn look on his face as he mulled over his options. He had a splattering of facial hair, his eyes dark and shifting between her and Lydia.
"What's your name?" Stacey stared. She didn't like giving out her name, not for any reason. It didn't make much sense to give strangers your name, not if you were going to stick with them. Her stubbornness was outweighing her reason as she looked down to the ground, trying to figure out what to say. Feet shuffled around her and the man's shadow left as he moved back to his people. She heard mutters, the voices blending together and too low for her to hear. As she looked up the man with the gun moved closer, the barrel level with her head.
"Wait!" Glenn came running from behind them, a big grin on his face as he moved forward and saw Stacey. She felt the reassurance pound through her as Glenn muttered something to Rick. It was all too late. Merle grinned down at her as he slammed the butt of the gun into her head.