She hears them, the dead. And, really, that part comes as no surprise. The surprise is in the dead themselves, in the way they rise and walk and kill and feast. It defies all logic, and she's spent, literally, weeks trying to convince herself and the camp that there's a perfectly scientific, if not reasonable, reason that a zombie horde has wiped out most of Beacon Hills.
It doesn't matter though. Somewhere, deep down, she knows she isn't going to find a solution in a laboratory.
The cries are loud, punctuated by ripping flesh and gnashing teeth, but, right at this moment, she's the only one who can hear them.
Lydia keeps her back to the wall a second longer, focusing, then leans forward out of the shadow and quietly motions to the rooftop across from what was once her favorite grocery store. She raises two fingers, but not in a sign of peace. Two fingers mean 'just a few', a fist means 'no dead here', an open hand with fingers splayed means 'large group'. Oh, and a frantic waving hand, that means 'get out now, I just noticed something completely un-zombie-related'. The last signal was Stiles' idea.
Lydia rolls her eyes at the memory alone, but she's still paying attention enough to see the flash of Chris' mirror saying the message is received. It's not that their group has tossed out radios altogether, but after a few mistakes, they realized how loud they could be at exactly the wrong time. So, hand signals. And quiet whispers, when there are werewolves in the group. And there always are, at least one. It's a rule.
Which is why Lydia whispers, "Scott, there's a small group near the back of the store. Draw their attention, and we'll take them out from behind."
She doesn't need to wait for a response. She raises the spiked end of a baseball bat and hears movement behind her, quick, sure footsteps. Her partner's weapon of choice clicks, an arrow being notched. Lydia prefers her own, and only partly because, since their sporting goods raid, Stiles has spent way too much time making wicked looking bats for everyone. Actually, he spends way too much time doing anything but talking to the rest of them these days...But Lydia wants him to see his efforts are put to good use. She wants to smash open a few skulls and have an excuse to tell him how to improve the angle of the spikes. She wants...she wants Stiles tohave a reason to keep going.
"Ready?" Allison asks.
Lydia smirks, not an ounce of fear on her face. "Of course."
The crash and growl from inside is all the signal they need. They slip into battle like they were born for it.
Lydia Martin is an expert shopper. She calls it her secret talent when they make it back to camp with everything they needed and more. No one calls her out on the statement. No one ever brings up her real talent, because it's no secret that Lydia Martin went from predicting death to hearing the dead.
The first time it's brought up, days after the dead rise, when Peter says he's never heard of a Banshee being able to hear the undead like that, she asks him to think back to the last zombie epidemic he lived through. He shuts up. Wonders never cease.
Lydia hates it, hearing them. Hearing those moans day in and day out, louder when she's on a raid instead of tucked into their safe camp. She thinks she can hear them because they're not really dead. Not entirely. They're undead. In a constant state of dying. And even if the others don't hear the screaming, the crying, it's there, beneath the surface. It's the language of Hell, and she's the closest translator: hungry, hurts, rip, tear, eat, help...
Lydia hates hearing them, but it's a weapon she can use. And she does. Because if she can hear their screams, she can count them. She can find the dead before the dead find them.
Allison parks the SUV, and Lydia doesn't move for a few minutes. It's been a long day and the setting sun paints the sky a shade of coral the same color as her lips. There's still another good hour of daylight. Plenty of time for them to get back to camp, a few miles away, and enjoy their supper with the others.
"Thanks," Lydia says, suddenly.
Allison gives her a crooked smile. "I figured you needed it."
"I do," Lydia agrees, and reaches behind her, pulling free her favorite pillow. She gets out of the vehicle with it tucked beneath one arm and walks toward the trees. The creek isn't far, and the flat rock jutting out over the water is still clean from the last time they were here. Allison follows her, a crossbow lowered at her side, just in case they run into trouble; they've had a few reminders that not all their problems involve zombies.
Lydia crawls up onto the rock and hesitates only a second before laying down, back against the hard, lumpy surface, the pillow under her head. She feels Allison brush her leg as she sits down beside her, and waits.
Lydia closes her eyes and lets go.
She wakes to the sound of her own scream, echoing through the woods, drowning out the mellow movement of the creek. And when it finishes, her head sinks further into the pillow, even though her eyes are wide open, her breathing heavy. Allison is still wincing slightly and lowers her hands from her ears.
"Better?" Allison asks.
Lydia nods. "Much."
And it is. Some of the weight she was carrying has lifted. It's like breaching water and being able to breath again. Lydia tries not to think about who she's screaming for, because the answer is always different. So many dead. So many dying. So many.
She's learned to hold it in, that urge to cry out. Hold it in until she can get away from camp and release it.
Already she can hear the cries in the distance. The zombies attracted to the banshee's wail.
Allison stares down at her, as if there's something she wants to say. Or ask. Lydia knows what her friend probably would like to figure out. If this scream was intended for someone at the camp. Honestly, Lydia can't say for certain. These days, there were just too many omens...But she'd like to lie, at the very least, pretend she knew for certain it wasn't her friend's day to die. That she knew they were all going to make it out of this, somehow.
But both of the girls are quiet, letting the moment pass.
"Ready?" Allison finally asks.