Switched!

They were supposed to be at the play-offs. They were supposed to be standing, all squished up against each other, on the field, playing for their school. That was what was supposed to happen.

What wasn't supposed to happen was the dead just getting up and shambling around aimlessly again. They weren't supposed to be living every single second in fear of the monsters breaking in and chewing them to bits. They weren't supposed to be in this situation.

At this exact moment in time, in a crowded, musty drugstore, life just wasn't too great. With a pissy reporter lady giving him glares every two seconds, an angry technician who cared about literally nothing but technology and his daughter, an annoying "Little Leagues" coach tailing him every waking second, along with a little girl he needed to protect...

Ben Paul couldn't help but wish he could just punch his ticket, right here, right now.


AN: I decided to try my hand at writing TWDG fanfiction, aha! This really isn't... a canon fanfic. It's more like an AU that I first started brainstorming in like.. idk, May? The idea of the AU is that the roles of everyone but Clementine have been switched around. So, I don't know! You may be surprised at who your allies are in this AU, and who your enemies are. U v U Be aware that I'm literally being cOMPLETELY RANDOM about who has taken who's role, other then certain people, like the family that have taken the roles of Kenny, Katjaa and Duck! Except, rather then a family of 3, it's a family of 4.

I guess it'll be... kind of interactive? Like when it comes to big choices, like the Carley/Doug choice, I'll ask the readers about what to do, haha!

^ v ^ But anyway, I'll hope you enjoy this fic!


EPISODE 1: A NEW DAY: Part 1

What an unbearably hot day.

The beat up, sandy coloured bus cruised down the dusty road, bumping and bouncing along as the wheels made contact with unfortunately placed rocks. The unforgiving sun bore down relentlessly onto the vehicle, its rays of heat reflecting against the chipped paint. The heat waves managed to pass through the useless windows, and forced the passengers to be even more uncomfortable than before. It was already incredibly humid in there, considering how many people had been piled in.

In the back, a scruffy haired teenager reached his hands up and dragged them across his brow, trying to wipe off the beads of sweat that had formed there. He let out a heavy sigh, turning his head and glancing out the window in an attempt to get his mind off of the sultry weather. Watching countless trees and bushes speed past his vision, he shook his head. Man, what he wouldn't give for a ice cold glass of water right now.

Suddenly, he felt a sharp jab in his side. "Hey." Another poke made contact with his side. "Hey, Ben. Hey." Poke, poke, poke.

Ben instinctively covered up his side with his hands, and straightened up in his seat. Still defending his side, he cast a questioning -more like annoyed- gaze at the perpetrator, a boy with dark coloured hair. "What?"

"Do you, like, have an extra mouthpiece I could use?" The raven haired boy questioned, tilting his head. "I kind of.. forgot mine in the bathroom."

Ben stared at the other boy stupidly, not fully understanding the question. "Mouthpiece.. like... for the clarinet...?"

"Well, yeah, smartass!" The male retorted, crossing his arms. "What else do we play? The tuba?"

The shaggy looking teenager made an unhappy noise which sounded somewhat like, "Hmph..." He paused to ponder about his answer for a couple of seconds, before responding with, "No, sorry."

"Damn." The boy cursed.

"How did you even manage to forget it? In the bathroom, no less!" Ben inquired, puzzled at how this loss came to be. "I thought Mr. Parker checked the bathroom to make sure we didn't leave anything behind! I don't think he could have missed yours either, considering that there is a giant piece of tape with the name 'Travis' attached to it."

Travis shrugged, holding his hands up in the classic, "I-have-no-fucking-clue" fashion. "I dunno. Maybe it was in one of the stalls, on the toilet seat or something."

"What would it be doing on a TOILET seat?!"

"Aw, I don't fucking know!" Travis threw his arms up. "But it's gone and I'm here, mouthpieceless. What the fuck do I do now?"

"Hm.." The sandy haired boy cupped his chin with his hand, wondering to himself. "Well, I think you can tell Mr. Parker when we get off the bus. This has probably happened before, so they have to be prepared for it... I hope."

"You hope." The raven haired male repeated, rolling his eyes. Folding his arms and cushioning them against the back of his head, Travis leaned back. "Well, whatever. Even if I can't play, it's no big deal. I'll just sit on the benches and watch you screw up the whole band." He flashed a mischievous smirk at Ben, as if that was supposed to be funny and he was supposed to laugh.

"Come on! You still won't forget about the music festival?" The scruffy haired boy cried. "That was ages ago! And it was one time!"

"Correction. That was three months ago.." Travis paused for dramatic effect. ".. and you always mess up at least one note in every piece we play. I wait for it."

"Gh!" Ben made an embarrassing, unintelligible noise as he tried to brainstorm a good comeback. "... Well, sure, but no one's ever noticed me mess up!"

Travis snorted. "Yet. You better hope Mr. Parker doesn't hear your screw ups! Or else you'll probably get one of his 5000 year long lectures!" He chimed loudly, laughing at the miserable sounds Ben made.

"What?" Came a voice from the very front. The source craned his head back, and suspiciously peered back at them. "Did I just hear my name come from you boys?"

"No, Mr. Parker!" Ben replied quickly before Travis could get a word in. Their band director looked confused, but thankfully, all he did was scratch his beard and turn back to the front.

"You shoulda told him!" Chuckled the dark haired boy.

"No way!" The sandy haired boy shot back.

Ben's, "No way!" somehow managed to end the conversation, for whatever stupid reason. The two boys rotated back to the original direction they were facing, with Travis staring down the bus aisle and Ben gazing blindly outside the window once more.

The silence, however, was incredibly uncomfortable, and Ben softly muttered, "Damn, it's hot in here." in an attempt to break the quiet atmosphere.

"Well, then unbutton your jacket, dumbass." Travis grunted, not even bothering to turn his focus to Ben when stating that sentence.

The scruffy boy huffed, raised his hands to the first button on his jacket and began to undo them all, one by one.

Once that task was finished, he laid back against the leather seat. While unbuttoning his Stone Mountain uniform did relieve a bit of the stuffiness he felt, it was still burning inside the crowded bus. So, being Ben, he uselessly said, "It's still hot."

This time, before Travis could snap a sarcastic reply at the boy, Mr. Parker turned his head back to look at Ben. "Open a window, then!" He called from the front, gesturing to one of the many windows in the automobile.

"They don't open!" Travis butted in before Ben could answer. "Ours doesn't, at least!" The sandy haired boy cocked his head. They really didn't open? Rotating back to the window, he placed his hands on the bar of the window, and pulled down.

It didn't even budge. Travis was apparently right, then.

Disappointed at his failure to get somewhat of a breeze to enter the bus, Ben crossed his arms and leaned back. Staring up at the ceiling of his transportation, he let his mind drift off to other various subjects. Like, for instance, the play-offs. As much as he would deny it, Travis wasn't wrong about him screwing up something in every song, even if it was just a single note. Whether he played a G instead of an F, or held a note for too long, or played when he wasn't supposed to, he always managed to mess something up. Ben sighed inwardly, his decent mood slowly tumbling down the drain. Sticking a hand into his pocket, he tilted his head, thinking hard about what to do to prevent himself from making another mistake. Pay more attention to the music sheet? He already did that.

Well, at least it wasn't a basketball game they were headed all the way to Atlanta for. Ben was already pretty below average at band, but basketball... well, he wasn't great. Sure, he could throw and catch, and his height was perfect for the sport, but once he caught the ball, he couldn't move. He was literally stuck in the spot he was in, because if he tried to run, he would trip, he would fall, and he would let the opposing team get the ball. Not fun.

At least his coach was kind. Coach Jackson had allowed Ben to remain on the team, even after all his tripping and falling and other various incidents. Even if he himself had admitted the teenager wasn't that great. 'So what if yer' clumsy, son?! You sure can throw and catch! Jus' do that, and yer' plenty useful!" had been his words to him at the last practice. Ben had instantly brightened up at those sentences, and had departed in a good mood.

His band director, Mr. Parker, was cool too. Although, he was never too happy with Ben's constant mishaps with the piece they were playing, even if he never said anything. Maybe it wasn't good that he wasn't saying anything. Maybe he was secretly planning to kick Ben out of the band at the end of the year. Just say, "Ben, you suck, get outta-"

"Dude! Did you see that?!"

Travis's rambunctious yell sharply shot through Ben's ears, forming a high pitched ringing in the boy's head in the aftermath. Bringing a hand to the side of his head, Ben slowly craned his head, and realized that the dark haired boy had been shouting from right next to him. So that's why it had sounded unbearably loud.

"See what?" Ben asked in an annoyed tone, rubbing the side of his head to emphasize to Travis that it was not polite to holler straight into one's ear.

Travis, however, did not notice and he pointed over to a window where several students had bunched up, appearing to be looking for something outside. "Just now, there was this weirdo just stumbling around at the side of the highway!"

"...Wha?" Came Ben's very intelligent answer. "'Weirdo' how?"

"Like, he was all hunched over, and his hands were stretched out in front of him, and he was literally just walking around in circles! But really, really slowly." Travis bent over and attempted to hold his arms out in what little space they had, in order to imitate what he saw.

"...Wow." Ben replied smartly once more. "So like, did he have a sign or something? Maybe he was advertising a store..?"

"No, no sign." The ebony haired boy shrugged. "He looked like he was just doing that for fun! Maybe he was drunk? I dunno, but you know, he looked like a real zombie!"

"Zombie, huh?" Ben mumbled, shivering as memories of gory, violent zombie movies that he had viewed with Travis came flooding back to him.

"Are you remembering zombie movies?" Travis happened to ask, a smirk pulling at the corners of his lips. "I still remember when you screamed like a little girl when-"

"DUDE!" A voice suddenly boomed from the window that the band members were piling against. "I just saw another one!"

"What, really?" The freckled teenager whipped his head around, completely forgetting about embarrassing his friend for the millionth time. "Was he the same as the other one?"

"Yeah, man!" While the other boy continued to ramble on and on about the strange man he had glimpsed, Ben went back to facing the front, noticing that Mr. Parker was also subtly attempting to look out the window with the rest of them, his brow scrunched up in a puzzled manner. Even the bus driver had dangerously taken his eyes off of the concrete road and was craning his head back to sneak a peek.

While Ben reached into his pocket for an apple flavoured piece of gum, he noticed that there was a bizarre looking shadow right smack in the middle of the road. Popping the piece of gum into his mouth, the teenager put his hands on the seat in front of him and pushed himself onto his feet to get a better look. Squinting at the odd little silhouette, and watching as it grew bigger and bigger as the bus sped towards it, Ben was able to identify the thing with a jolt of horror.

It was a person.

In the middle of the road.

In the middle of their path.

And they weren't moving.

"HEY, HEY!" Ben cried, giving every passenger in the bus a great big fright, as they all twisted their heads back to look at him with dilated pupils. "The road, the ROAD!" He pointed desperately to the front of the bus, and the bus driver turned his attention back just a second too late. In a last ditch attempt to spare the person, he veered left, but it was futile. Not only did they hit the unfortunate fellow, but the bus spun out of control and smashed into a road rail. It snapped like a twig and the bus, including all of its students, went soaring straight off the edge.

The bus tumbled messily down the steep hill, sending passengers and various bits and pieces went flying everywhere, and knocking Ben out cold.


Pain.

Ben opened his eyes just a tiny bit, to see a once bright blue sky beginning to transform into a musty grey. Was it raining? Maybe it was raining. His head felt wet. Wait, wasn't he inside a bus? Why would his head be wet, if it really was raining? The teenager groaned, and closed his eyes again, drifting back into unconsciousness.


More pain.

This time, it was accompanied by irritating groaning noises.

Ben forced his eyes open, and could barely identify a few shadows that were languidly shuffling across his vision. Was that the source of the moaning? Not to mention, who the hell was screaming? There were repeated cries of agony coming from somewhere over there. Or maybe it was over there? The shrieking sounded familiar. He felt like he had heard it before. Travis? No, Travis doesn't have such a high pitched scream. Then again, he's never heard Travis scream before. Whatever. Ben wished they would just shut up, all their screeching was giving him a headache.

As the yelling began to quiet down, and the groaning began to overpower it, Ben allowed the inviting clutches of darkness to take him again.


... There's just so much pain.

Ben's eyelids cracked open, and he blinked a couple of times to get accustomed to the harsh light that invaded his vision. Shifting his vision back and forth, back and forth, he realized that he was lying in a very uncomfortable position. The top half of his body was loosely hanging down the bus seat he and Travis had been sitting on. His legs were the only support that were keeping him from tumbling completely onto the floor.

The sandy haired teenager groaned. Now that he was conscious, all the agony of his cuts and bruises were beginning to attack him full blast. His head throbbed, and when he raised a hand to his forehead, he felt sticky fluid. Bringing his fingers back down, he saw that his hand was stained with crimson.

Ben felt like he was going to be sick. He had never been good around blood.

"Ugh..." He moaned in pain. Bringing both his hands up and gripping the side of his seat and the side of the seat to the left of him, Ben managed to pull himself up off the ground. Now that he was sitting straight up, his head began to give him even more pain. Cursing softly, he shifted his legs and arms so that he could face the aisle in the bus.

The teenager was met with a horrifying sight.

Blood, blood everywhere. There was dark red staining the seats, splattered on the walls, covering the floor, everywhere. To make matters worse, that wasn't even it. There were cold, lifeless bodies of students littering the seats and floors. Their limbs were strewn messily across their corpses, Ben couldn't help but think that some of the poses weren't supposed to even exist, and their blue uniforms had been dyed crimson.

The teen felt bile rise to his throat as he realized that all their heads were smashed in. Some of them, only the side of their head had been crushed, and an eye had popped out of their socket. Others, their entire head had been violently destroyed, and there wasn't even enough... face to even identify them anymore. They were just headless bodies.

Ben gulped down the vile liquid in his throat, and looked away.

The scruffy haired boy shuffled back so he was facing the window again. How was he supposed to get out of here? He needed to escape from this gory bus, and call the police! What about Travis? Travis had a phone. He would just use Travis's. But where was Travis?

Ben stared at the tiny window in front of him. It was already cracked... Maybe he could shatter the glass, and climb out through there? Leaning closer to it, he came to a conclusion that there was simply no way he could fit through such a tiny hole.

So how could he leave?

The teenager glanced back over his shoulder at all the dead bodies and blood and aisle that lead to the door.

Ben made a small, hoarse whimper. He didn't want to walk through that aisle. He didn't want to walk right past the bodies of his fellow classmates, walk on their blood, maybe accidentally brush past a neck with nothing but a crimson mess attached to it.

But what other choice did he have?

So, rotating himself back to the direction of the aisle, Ben gulped, and pushed himself to his feet, wobbling slightly. He began to shamble his way across the bus, reluctantly using the leather seats as support. As much as he didn't want to touch the blood covered objects, he was having problems balancing himself on his feet. He sure didn't want to unintentionally fall, and maybe land on one of the corpses scattered all around the vehicle. That was number one on his 'Don't do' list.

As he neared the head of the yellow bus, he realized with an excited feeling bubbling in his chest that the door was open. Ben knew that the doors didn't just open and close whenever you felt like it, there was a certain button that restricted its movement. So, if it was open, then someone had to have been through here, right?!

Arriving at the front, Ben turned his vision to the left, and saw the bus driver lying motionlessly in his seat, his forehead violently crushed in.

The teenager shivered, quickly looking in the other direction. It definitely wasn't him that had opened the door. Wanting to get out of this death cave as soon as possible, Ben stumbled towards the door and stepped down onto the first of the two steps.

He slipped, fell off the steps and face first onto the chilly forest floor.

Ben released a squeaky yelp as he collided with the growth, not moving an inch for a couple of seconds because that tumble had reawakened all the pain of his wounds. Not to mention it had given them a new burst of energy towards them. Groaning, he propped himself up onto his elbows, pushed himself onto his knees, and finally heaved himself onto his feet. Glancing to the left, he noticed the bottom half of a body, as the bus obscured the rest of his vision.

The first thing that crossed Ben's mind was that this was yet another corpse. This one had been thrown out of the bus, and landed face flat onto the ground. But the teenager had seen that the front window had not been shattered? So how did they get out here? Why did they not look as injured as the rest of the poor souls inside the bus? Why was there a blood trail leading towards them?

A sickening feeling began to boil in Ben's stomach, as he clumsily wobbled over to the sight, using the bus as a support. No. No. No, it couldn't be. No, no, no. This person didn't look as bloodied up as the rest of the students still on the destroyed vehicle. It looked as if they had been trying to get out, to run, judging by the crimson path that the teenager was hobbling over. It looked as if he had been trying to drag himself somewhere, before finally checking out in the clearing at the front of the bus. But it couldn't be, right? "No, no way..." Ben muttered to himself, shaking his head in denial.

Oh, but it was. The dark hair colour said it all as the sandy haired teen finally rounded the bus.

It was Travis.

"Travis...?!" Ben cried in horror and disbelief. "I-Is that you?!" The student clumsily stumbled over to the unmoving body sprawled on the ground. The boy was lying on his left cheek, so only half of his appearance could be inspected, but the black hair and the freckles told Ben everything he needed to know.

"O-O-Oh, shit, man!" The teen panicked. "A-Are you okay?!" What kind of question was that? Of course he wasn't okay! Ben didn't even understand himself sometimes.

Leaning over the individual, he was unsure of what he should do. He needed medical equipment if he wished to help Travis himself, but where was he going to find that in the middle of the woods? He had a few band-aids in his jeans pocket, but what good would that do? How had Travis even gotten like this? Ben knew he shouldn't have been asking that question, considering the fact that most of his classmates had their heads crushed in and the freckled teenager was probably the one in the best condition at the moment. It could be worse.

Wait, didn't Travis have a phone? He could just use that, call the cops, and have them bring an ambulance over! At the same time, he could maybe get the police to investigate the gory scene that still remained in the bus. But first, he had to get the phone.

Ben stood there, hunched, and remained motionless for half a minute. Travis usually kept his phone in his back pocket. He would have to reach into Travis's pants pocket if he wanted to retrieve the phone. Reach into Travis's blood covered pocket. Just thinking about that scenario made the teen feel nauseous.

Ben shook his head in a frantic manner. Ugh, what was he doing? This wasn't some sort of dare game! This was real life! He didn't have any choice in this situation he was in! It was either get the phone, save himself, save Travis, and get an answer on your bloodied classmates, or not get the phone, let Travis die and starve to death himself. Thinking about the possible outcomes for a moment made this choice a no contest.

Ben gulped, and raised a hand. "U... Ugh..." He mumbled in a disgusted tone as he extended a hand towards the dark haired teen's back pockets. "Sorry..." The band student reached a hand into the right back pocket first, and when he felt something, instantly yanked his fingers out. A receipt, and a couple of gum wrappers. Oops, wrong pocket.

Attempting again and slipping his hand into the left back pocket this time, he felt the familiar rectangular object, and extracted it. Flipping it over, he pressed the ON button and watched in silent relief as the screen lit up. 33% of the battery was still left... that should be enough, right? Unless he spent an hour talking on the phone to the cops, which he doubted. Sliding his fingers across the small screen and tampering with the buttons, he was guided to the dial pad. Being in a rush and due to the fact he was terrified, Ben forgot he wasn't in Stone Mountain anymore, and accidentally dialed the Stone Mountain Police Emergency number.

However, it's not like it would have mattered in the long run. Because before it even tried to contact the police, the phone cut off by itself. All that was seen on the screen was a sentence that simply stated, "NO SERVICE".

Ben froze, his grip on the cellphone tightening. No service...?! Travis's phone always had service! Or at least that's what he was told by Travis. But still, the black haired teen once called his family when they were out in the middle of an immense forest, similar to this one, and it had service then! He wasn't sure how, but it did! So why not now...? Blankly staring at the phone, all traces of any ideas were instantly wiped from his mind. No phone, no help. He was stuck here.

Ben was about to curse at the top of his lungs when he glimpsed a hint of movement coming from the corner of his vision. Turning his gaze, his eyes settled on Travis, still motionless. Did he jerk just now...? The student could have sworn he had seen something. Squinting at his unmoving friend, Ben moved a little bit nearer. He could have sworn...

"Uh, Travis?" He squeaked nervously.

That was when all hell broke loose. The moment when the supposedly 'unconscious' Travis had leaped off of the ground and tackled him.

Ben let out a sharp yell as the freckled teen effectively shoved him to the ground as he lunged for him. The student's hands instinctively threw his arms out in self defence, flailing and snatching up Travis's shoulders as the psychotic made a move for his face.

The band member kept a tight grip on the shoulders as the ebony haired teen repeatedly went for his face, jaws snapping ruthlessly. There was something wrong. Travis's skin looked positively green and rotted and simply gruesome, and his eyes were sunken into his skull. Ben could hardly see his pupils, they were a pale blue that seemed to glow. "G-Get off!" The teen cried, trying frantically to hold the other boy back away from his face. "Please!" Raising his right leg, he slipped it underneath the rotten teen's body and kicked his stomach harshly.

It worked. Sort of. The... thing was thrown off, but apparently Ben had shoved his foot into the other boy's stomach so hard, it had created a gaping hole in the body, and had also left many foul smelling guts stuck to his shoe. Ben released a terrified scream as Travis pushed himself up, unfazed, and began to crawl towards him. "Wh-What happened?!" He cried, frantically backing up against the bus. Travis was slow, sure, but he was still coming towards him. "Travis! Stop it!" He hollered uselessly. His 'friend' didn't appear to even acknowledge his pleas. He just kept going.

"Get b-back!" Ben yelped, attempting to push himself away even more, only to be met with the hard metal of the bus. What could he do, what could he do..! Desperately scrutinizing his surroundings, he noticed a stray black case lying at the side of the bus. Looking from it to Travis, then from Travis back to it, he forced himself up, almost falling back down, and made a break for the case.

Making it to the black box and almost tripping over it in the process, Ben unlatched the lock and kicked it open, dumping all the pieces out. A clarinet box. Travis's. It had probably been tossed out of the bus in the violent tumble they had, probably flew through one of the broken windows. His plan was stupid and careless, and it probably wouldn't work, but it was either try or get eaten by your best friend.

Seizing the case up and whipping back around to face Travis, he was horrified to see that the freckled teen had already made it to his feet, and he instinctively stumbled back. Raising the clarinet box above his head and launching it down straight onto Travis's head, he gagged as dark red fluid came spurting out of the gory teen. Almost losing his grip on the case as the slippery blood made it underneath his fingertips, he lifted it once more, and repeated the form of attack. This time, Travis was forced down, his chin colliding with the ground with a sickening crunch. Still he attempted to get back up, and Ben was forced to smash the case into his head once more.

Again and again, the case was brought down repeatedly, relentlessly striking the teen with the rigid plastic. Again and again, dark liquid burst from the thing's body, splattering the forest floor with a sickening hue of crimson. Again and again, Travis tried to push himself up, and crawl for Ben once more.

As Ben raised the black base above his head and prepared to swing it down, he noticed that Travis wasn't moving anymore.

He also noticed that Travis didn't even look like Travis anymore.

Letting out a shaky breath, and tossing the now useless clarinet case to the side, the band student pressed a hand to his forehead. "Oh my god... Oh my fucking god..." He muttered to himself confusedly, still in a daze from the brutal battle he had just participated in. He flicked his gaze downwards, eyes resting on the mauled corpse. "Holy shit.." He swore in terror. The teen hadn't even noticed in the ordeal, but he had completely demolished the dark haired teen's head. Now he bore an uncanny resemblance to the unfortunate souls still in the yellow vehicle.

What was that? It had lunged for him, tried to take a giant chomp into his face, and had sickly looking blood with a disgusting aroma. Its eyes had been sunken in, pupils pale blue, and its skin was green and flaky. Ben attempted to take in a breath to calm himself down, but winded up choking on said breath.

Whatever Ben had just violently murdered, it hadn't been Travis.

The band member gave a jump of fright as he heard a rustle come from the trees behind him. In an attempt to whip around to face the intruder, his feet got tangled up, causing him to slip and fall onto the wet, blood covered grass. Clumsily propping himself up onto his elbows, Ben quickly glanced up and saw a silhouette, partially hidden by a tree. Squinting, he realized that it resembled a young girl.

There was another person here! If there was someone else here besides him, then he could get help! "Hey!" He called out, waving his arm around. "G-Get help! Uh..." He rapidly scanned his surroundings. What was he supposed to say to explain a gory, crimson coated crime scene, with a grotesque mess of a body? "Th-There's been a... murder?!" He shouted out the final word confusedly, unsure if whether or not that was the right word.

Apparently it hadn't been the right word after all, because once a heartbeat had passed, the little girl simply spun around and ran in the opposite direction, not looking back once.

Ben didn't even bother voicing his disappointment, because not even ten seconds after she had departed, he picked up the sound of more rustling coming from... all around him? Had the police been alerted to the bus crash?

Of course that was too good to be true.

Ben learned that quickly as a monster, similar to the thing just now, emerged from the trees and made a beeline for him.

The teenager briskly hopped back up, stepping away from the creature in fright. "Wh...Wha..." Where was the clarinet case? He had to get it. If it had worked against Travis, surely the same logic would apply on this being too?!

Hearing even more stirring resound from behind him, Ben twisted around, and realized with a jolt of horror that even more of those... things were spawning. Two, three, four, five... they just kept appearing. There was no way, no fucking way he could try to take all of these with one measly case.

So, he did the next best thing; he ran.

Feet carrying him as fast as they could go, Ben stumbled over a stray branch as he looked over his shoulder at the oncoming mob. Wherever he went, more of those things seemed to arise from the forest growth. He even saw one lying by a tree, extending its arm out to him and groaning hungrily. Run, just run. Run or get eaten. Run or get eaten.

It seemed that hope had abandoned him when, stuck straight in his path, was a large, brown picket fence. Catching a glimpse over his shoulder at the foul smelling monsters shambling towards him, he looked up to the top of the fence. It wasn't that big, and he was tall. He could climb it. So, stretching his arms up and tightly gripping the points of the posts, Ben managed to hoist himself over, using the fence as a support.

Colliding with the ground harshly, the student let out a pained groan as he laid a hand on his head. He lay there for a few moments, heart racing as he listened to the pounds of the creatures on the other side of the fence. Pushing himself onto his hands and knees, he glanced around at his fresh surroundings. There didn't seem to be anyone else here...? No humans, no monsters, nothing. He didn't know whether or not that was a relief.

Ben took a moment to take a look at the details of the area he had thrown himself into. There was a large house (Well, large to him. Maybe his house was just small.) and a tall tree, with a colourful looking tree house constructed in its branches. Standing up, the pain shooting through his body, he stumbled over to the tree house. There was a little tea set in front of it. Perhaps the owner of it had been having a tea party. "I'd like a tea party right now, if it meant I could get something to drink..." He muttered.

"Um, hey, anyone up there?!" The band member cried, staring up at the large tree house. He was met with silence. "... I guess not."

Choosing to abandon the tree house, Ben decided to head for the house. Maybe there was someone in there that could help him! Or at least someone. Limping over to the home, he nervously made his way up the steps onto the deck. Stopping in front of the sliding glass door, he peered in, trying to see if he could catch a glimpse of anyone else.

"Um... is anyone here...?"

Hearing no reply emerge from the house, Ben gulped. There was no one home... But, even so, he had to get a hold of a phone, or something. He was so thirsty, too. Maybe this house could have water..? Deciding to take his chances against the seemingly abandoned dwelling, he grasped the handle of the door and slid it open.

"I'm coming in, okay? Don't shoot, please!"

The house was a complete dump. It didn't look as if anyone had been here for ages. The couch pillows were overturned, the television had a giant crack through it, and the walls were covered in dirt and grime. Also, there was an unsettling patch of scarlet on the kitchen floor. The entire house smelled absolutely putrid.

What had happened here? Taking a few steps in, Ben gave a girlish shriek as an unnerving robotic voice spoke, "You have three new messages."

Three new messages? So no one had listened to them? The student saw a flash out of the corner of his eye, and looked to the source, noticing a small, flashing red light. That was probably the answering machine, then. Ben hated to be nosy and rummage through the belongings of other people, but there was no one here, and that stupid flat voice was simply going to repeat itself again if someone didn't listen to the messages soon.

So, shimmying over to the small machine, Ben searched for the "Listen" button, and pressed it down. "You have three new messages. Message one." Stated the answering machine.

"Hey, Sandra! It's Diana! We're... still in Savannah." A woman's voice began to play over the recording. "We were supposed to leave today, but Ed got into a scuffle with some crazy guy, and we had to take him to the hospital. So, we'll be stuck in Savannah for a while longer. But thank you so much for taking care of Clementine, and I promise we'll be back in time for your spring break!"

Clementine? Who was Clementine? Her name reminded the band student of citrus fruit, making his mouth water. Damn, could he go for some fruit right now.

"Message two." The voice mail system began again. "Oh my god, finally!" The same woman's voice was on the other end of the line again, this time sounding more frantic. "I-I haven't been able to get a single call through, this is the first one! We're still in Savannah, they're not letting us leave. They're not telling us anything... Look, we'll be trapped here for a bit longer, just take Clementine and get out of Atlanta."

Obviously, something had happened. Something bad. The woman had sounded panicked and worried, and the fact that the people refused to say anything about the problem just made it more of a problem.

"Message three." The answering machine droned, beginning the final message. "Clementine..?" The extreme desperation and anguish in the woman's voice made Ben's breath hitch. "Baby, if you can hear this, call the police. That's 9-1-1." The lady paused for a moment, sniffling. "We love you... We love you... We love y-"

The message cut off.

"End of messages." Never had a tiny voice mail machine been so ominous towards Ben. Taking a moment to break out of his trance, he shivered and shook his head. "So, this Clementine was probably with a babysitter, while her parents were in Savannah... I think?" The student cupped his chin with his hand thoughtfully. "Why didn't they take her too..?"

Wondering if 'Clementine' was still around, or if the worst had taken her, Ben shambled over to the kitchen, forgetting that there was a blood splatter staining the floor. Placing his foot on it, he slipped and fell flat on his backside. "Ugh!" He cried, resting a hand on his hip.

Reluctantly putting his hand on the sticky floor, he used it as a support to push himself back up, careful not to tumble again. Wobbling over to the sink, he was shocked to find a cup of water sitting on the windowsill. Snatching it up without even thinking of the possible consequences, he quickly downed it in one gulp. "Phew.." He sighed, feeling refreshed and overall better than before. Setting the glass back down, he began to wonder if there was any food hidden in the cupboards and drawers.

Ben sidled over to the nearest drawer, and yanked it open. There wasn't any food, unfortunately, but there was a radio for some strange reason. Extracting it from the drawer, he inspected it thoroughly. Unfortunately, it wasn't a radio, so he wouldn't be able to call for help on it. It was a simple, black walkie talkie, with a TALK and a LISTEN button, but what had it been doing in the drawer...?

"...Hello...?"

Ben jumped in fright as the machine suddenly buzzed and a voice rang through it. The voice sounded high pitched and young, so the source of it was probably a small child? The band member froze. Could this be...?

"Hello? Wh-Who is this?" Ben spoke into the talkie, finger shaking on the TALK button.

"I'm Clementine." The voice replied curtly. "This is my house." So this was Clementine! Nothing tragic had happened to her after all!

Quickly thinking up another response, the sandy haired boy hit the TALK button. "How old are you, Clementine?" He asked in the friendliest tone he could muster. He couldn't just straight up ask her where she was, that sounded intimidating. Though, asking her age probably wasn't much better.

"Um, I'm eight." The girl replied. "I'm gonna be turning nine soon. Um... how old are you?"

"Uh, I'm 17." Ben replied awkwardly. At least it wasn't that much of an age gap...

"Wow."

Stumbling over to kitchen window, he squinted out of the filthy glass. "Where are you, Clementine? I don't think I saw you when I was coming in.."

"I'm up in my tree house!" Clementine answered proudly. "They can't get me up there. Here," Up at the tree house, a small head donning a blue cap suddenly popped out of the wooden door, glancing around, before finally focusing on Ben. "Can you see me? I can see you!"

Amused by the little girl, the student chuckled, and gave a little wave at the girl to show that he could see her. The girl waved back, before her gaze suddenly morphed from a curious expression to one of terror. She rapidly dove back into her tree house.

Puzzled at first, Ben was briskly alerted as to why she had hid herself away when he whipped around, and came face to face with an ugly monster.

It threw its hands down on his shoulders, snarling and spitting at his face. Ben screamed, his hands shooting out and clutching its shoulders in reflex. Leaning back, trying to defend his face from getting chomped, the teenager was able to throw the thing to the side, before trying to flee for the sliding door. He was able to get as far as the hallway before the creature was back on its hands and knees, reaching out and snatching up his ankle in its grimy hands. Ben yelped, and dropped clumsily. Craning his head over his shoulder, he tried in vain to shake the beast off. "Let go, let go!" He cried, foot kicking at thin air.

Finally, he was able to make his mark. The monster took a blow to the face, and it released an angry howl, falling back. Ben flipped himself around and backed up against the sliding door, face twisted in fear as the thing got back up immediately and dragged itself towards him. Bringing his foot up, he smashed it into the creature's face, forcing it to lurch back for a few moments. As it launched itself again, he repeated the action.

Suddenly, he heard a rattle come from behind him, and then a cool breeze. Taking a quick glimpse up, he realized that the little girl had opened the sliding door and was now offering a hammer towards him. "H-Here!" She whimpered.

Wasting no time, Ben snatched up the hammer and landed one final slanted kick on the monster's left cheek. This time, it had enough force to knock it sideways, and it rolled onto its back, snarling all the way. The band student jumped to his feet, and raised the hammer above his head, bringing it down full power onto the thing's face.

Ben retched as dark, mushy fluid spurted out of its head, staining his clothes with it. Trying to ignore the sour stench, he pulled the hammer out of its face with a wet noise, and brought it down again, earning another howl and another stream of blood. He repeated this action so many times. Swing the hammer down, watch it scream and thrash, rinse and repeat.

Launching the hammer down one last time, Ben noticed that the being was no longer moving a muscle. Its face had been crushed in with the amount of force he had been using for the hammer, eyes bulging out, blood caking its hair. Staring at it for a moment longer, the student decided it was now dead for good, and tossed the hammer to the side, sighing. "Phew..." He huffed as he hunched over.

Looking up, he realized that Clementine was staring at him silently, her eyes large and confused. Staring back, the two simply locked gazes for a minute, before the little girl finally said, "Did you kill it?"

"Um..." Ben gave the corpse a second glance. "I think so. Or, I hope so, at least... "

There was an awkward pause. "Sometimes, they come back." Clementine replied finally, eyes wide in fear.

"Yeah, I know..." The student murmured, taking a closer look at the monster. Her entire face had been crushed in, surely that had destroyed her brain as well? If the brain was destroyed, there was no way you were alive anymore, right? "But I don't think this one will."

The little girl nodded. "I hope so."

Not bothering to answer her nervous whisper, Ben turned around completely so he could face her, and crouched down so that he was more or less her height. "Hey... Have you..." He paused. "Have you been by yourself this whole time?"

"Yeah.." Clementine confirmed, her voice tinged with sadness. Damn. If a little girl could remain calm in a situation like the one he was just in, what was he? "My parents were in Savannah for a trip, but... I really want them to come home now..."

Ben lowered his head in pity. Judging by the voice mail he had heard not 10 minutes ago on the answering machine, the possibility of her parents returning to her was little to none.

Still, he couldn't just leave her here to fend for herself. Sure, she may have survived on her own for a few days at most, but she most likely had supplies in the tree house. What would happen when she ran out?

"Hey, um.." The band member started, scratching the back of his head. "It's really not safe for you be here, you know?"

"Yeah, I know." Came Clementine's flat reply.

"So..." How was he supposed to word this without sounding like a creep? "I think we should stick together, okay? Two heads are better than one, after all." He tilted his head at her. "We can go look for somewhere that's safe. Or, safer."

"Um..." The little girl glanced back at her tree house. "Somewhere safer?" She repeated. "Will they still have those scary things...?"

"... I can't say." Ben admitted. "But where I'll take you, I'll try to find a place where's there's food, water, a place to sleep, and none of those monsters." He was promising a lot, and a lot of which he probably couldn't keep, but he had to convince her somehow.

"But... what if my parents come home and I'm not here...?" She whimpered, hands clutching at her white night dress. The scruffy haired teenager felt an ache in his chest. Poor girl still believed her parents were alright.

"Um, you have a walkie talkie, right?" Ben asked her. "Yeah... it's how my parents and I talked."

"Then you can use that!" He responded, forcing himself to sound peppy and enthusiastic. "That way, if they come home, they can call you on that! Then they can come look for us, and you can see them again!" Lie. Lie. Big fat lie.

"...Okay, sounds good." Clementine answered after a moment's hesitation. "So, I'll bring the talkie, and you promise that if they call, you'll take me to them?"

"Pinky swear!' Ben replied, holding up his pinky finger for emphasis. The young girl giggled, and held up her pinky finger as well. The two linked their fingers, and shook their hands. "Pinky swear!" They sang in unison.

Taking their hands back to their sides, Clementine tilted her head. "When do we leave...?"

"Right now." Ben said determinedly. "It'll be easier to get around if we can actually see in front of our face."

"Oh, okay." The girl agreed. "That makes sense." She paced over to his side, and looked up at him. She had to turn her head all the way up to see his face.

"Are you ready?" The student asked, glancing at her.

"...Ready." Clementine acknowledged, taking a glimpse of his hand, and hesitantly grasping it in her own.

"Don't wander off, okay?" Ben instructed firmly. "Stay close to me."