Chapter 1: The Meaning of Family
Anwyn looked out over the rooftops. From up here, she could see almost all of Macon, and she was safe from the Meirw. That's what her mother had called them.
The sun would be rising soon, then it would be off to scrounge up supplies. Anwyn pulled off her backpack, a rather cute little thing, made of basic fabric but with colourful patches stitched on, and rummaged around inside. She ignored the family picture and instead reached for the last energy bar. Those things tasted awful and she dreamed every night of pizza and chips and pop, but they gave her enough energy to survive.
She ate it quickly and drank a mouthful of water to wash it down.
As golden light made it easier to look around the city, Anwyn looked along the streets for ideas of where to look. There wasn't much in the way of stores around here, mostly just houses, but about a quarter mile away Anwyn could make out a pharmacy. Medicine, food, water. Perfect.
Anwyn waited a couple more hours so it was bright and she felt completely awake. Checking the street below, Anwyn slid down a drain pipe to the ground and started walking slowly in the direction of the pharmacy. The streets were pretty quiet, any Meirw that Anwyn did see were wandering down alleyways or were sitting about in broken houses. She avoided them all very easily.
There was the pharmacy. The front windows and door were all broken, it looked like someone had been hiding there and the idiots got Meirw attention. Thankfully, it seemed to have been a while ago, because the place looked deserted now.
Anwyn crept up to the place and looked around inside from the doorway. The only thing inside was a single Meirw sat against the counter. Anwyn pulled out her knife and stabbed it through the creature's skull just as it tried to reach for her. Immediately she looked along the shelves. There were only a couple energy bars dotted around the place, but through a back door she saw where they kept medicines. She skirted around the side and perused the shelves as quick as she could. There was so much here. Painkillers, antiseptics, antibiotics, bandages, even the more useless things she wouldn't really take like hayfever pills and acid reflux tablets, along with more preserved food and water. As quickly as she could, she got as much of it into her backpack as it could hold. It weighed quite a bit now, but the weight was like a reassurance to her. Like her backpack was saying 'Don't worry, you're gonna survive a bit longer'.
Anwyn glanced around again. This place still had plenty of supplies. Perhaps it would be a good idea to move everything to the roof and live here for a while, she thought. But right now, she'd need to find a way to the roof. There was probably a ladder or something in the alleyway. She made her way around the backroom to the front to get to the alleyway.
But something was wrong. There were two people stood in the street. A man holding a rifle and a shorter woman with a pistol. They looked like they were about to enter the pharmacy. And were not expecting anyone.
Anwyn froze for a second in panic. People weren't the nicest these days. Adrenaline surged through her veins as she took off back inside the store, easily leaping over the counter and hiding behind it.
"Woah! Easy, kid!" the man shouted, loud enough for her to hear, but not so loud it would draw Meirw, "we don't wanna hurt you!"
"Leave me alone!" Anwyn shouted back.
"Where are your parents?" the woman said.
Anwyn remained silent.
"We have a group in a motor inn not too far away. We have food, water, and safety" the man said. He sounded like he had entered the store. Anwyn hadn't known safety for weeks, maybe a month. She dared a peek over the counter.
"And what will I have to do for safety, huh?" she growled at them, "I've seen plenty of people do sick shit"
"Nothing, honestly" they had both put their guns down and had their hands up, "you're just a kid, you should be someplace safe"
"How about we lead you to our place, you can look around, and if you don't like it, you can go? We wouldn't really be able to stop you" the woman offered.
Anwyn considered. She stood up. "Who are you?"
"I'm Lee, and this is Carley"
Anwyn stared at him, sizing him up and making a judgement on the danger of this. He certainly seemed friendly enough, as did the woman.
"Anwyn. Most call me Annie"
"We got other kids back at our place as well," Carley added, "when was the last time you saw someone your own age?"
"A month ago" Anwyn shook her head, "Okay. Yeah, show me this place of yours"
"We gotta get some supplies first, we won't be long" Lee smiled as he walked past the counter and towards the backroom. Carley remained behind.
"How old are you?"
"Ten, but I can take care of myself" Anwyn crossed her arms. Carley smirked.
"Yeah, you're a proper survivor out here" she said.
"Don't fucking patronise me like that" Anwyn growled, "Or I'll show you how I survived said sick shit"
Carley raised her hands in quick surrender, "Okay, yeah. Sorry"
"What happened to your family? If you don't mind me asking" Lee asked, glancing through the bars of the back room.
"What do you think happened? They're all dead" Anwyn retorted, crossing her arms as tight as she could and gritting her teeth, "They would've gotten me killed anyway. Fucking idiots"
She heard the sound a Meirw in the street. Nervously, she glanced out.
"You guys might wanna hurry up" she muttered over her shoulder, "where there's one Meirw there's always more"
"Hurrying up" Lee said through the bars.
More of them were starting to appear along the street. Perhaps attracted to the noise, perhaps just bad luck.
"Seriously! Hurry the fuck up!" Anwyn growled. Lee appeared from the backroom, throwing his bag over his shoulder.
"We can come back for more later" he said as he ran to the front of the store and looked down the street, "How are we gonna get out of here? The back alley was full of them"
Anwyn raised her hands to silence them. She pointed at the brick building across the street, "I can get up there easy, and I'm assuming neither of you two can?"
"How the hell would you even get up there?" Carley whispered.
"You'll see. I can draw the Meirw to that side of the street so you two can made a break for it. Go around to the other side of those buildings and I'll climb down to rendezvous" Anwyn planned, "got it?"
"You sure you can do this?" Lee asked, drawing out his rifle.
"Yes, and for fuck's sake, don't use that thing" she glared at the gun, "later dorks"
Anwyn slipped through the double doors and sprinted at the buildings across the street. The Meirw noticed and started coming towards her. There were at least fifteen of them, some quite slow, a couple crawling, and quite a few were fast enough to get close. Anwyn ignored them and used the inertia from the run up to jump high up the brick wall, using the bricks that stuck out as temporary footholds to propel her upwards enough to grab onto a second story windowsill. Using the better support, she pulled herself up and easily reached the rooftop. She looked back down. The Meirw were all crowded around the base of the building, and across the street, Lee and Carley were staring at her in awe. Anywn glared back.
"What are you doing? Fucking go!" she shouted. That snapped them out of it. They ran out the pharmacy and along the empty street, slipping into a back alley that would take them to the other side of the building Anwyn was stood on. She shook her head in annoyance as she walked to the other side and checked the street. It was empty, save for a couple Meirw sat against a house at the end, but they wouldn't be a bother.
Anwyn latched onto a drain pipe and slid down to ground level. Lee and Carley ran up to her, both out of breath.
"Holy shit, that was amazing" Lee said between deep breaths.
"You can pat me on the back later, right now we gotta get outta here" Anwyn replied, although she felt a little proud of herself at the compliment, "which way?"
The adults started off down the street. Anwyn followed behind them, not too close, but not too far. She kept her hand on her knife for comfort.
Lee hadn't been lying. There was a group living in an old motor inn. The car park at the front was walled off with barbed wire, wooden boards, dumpsters, anything to make it safer. A man with a 5 o'clock shadow and square glasses was sat on top of an RV with another rifle. He waved when he saw Lee and Carley, and showed a look of intrigue at the sight of Anwyn. Lee pulled a dumpster out, creating an entrance, which he and Carley went through. Anwyn hung back a little, studying the inn and the people in it.
"C'mon. It's perfectly safe" Lee encouraged her, "Why don't you come meet Clementine and Duck?"
Anwyn hesitated before stepping inside. There was quite a group here. Including Lee and Carley, there were four men, three women, and two kids. The kids were coming around from behind the RV, clearly interested in what was going on.
"Everyone, this is Anwyn" Lee introduced to the group.
"Damn, a little kid on her own? Can't imagine what she's been through" a guy who, honestly, screamed 'Florida' said to Lee. He came over to her "Hey kiddo. I'm Kenny, there's my wife Katjaa, and my son, Kenny Jr, but we all call him Duck" he pointed to a larger woman with blonde hair and the boy.
"Over there is Lilly, and her dad, Larry" Lee pointed over to a woman with long brown hair and a large guy with a greying beard. Anwyn didn't like the way either of them were looking at her, like she was a burden, taking up space. "That's Mark up on the RV, and this is Clementine"
The little girl, wearing an off-white dress and a white and blue hat with a cursive D on it, came over with a look of complete intrigue.
The woman, Lilly, came over as well, but with a very angry expression on her face.
"What the hell? We already have to ration the food, and you bring a goddamn useless kid to feed as well?" she shouted, getting right into Lee's face. Anwyn felt very hurt at this woman's presumption. She'd gone through tough times on her own, losing her entire family, and she thought Anwyn would be useless? It made her angry, it was an insult to survival.
"Hey fuck you shitbird!" Anwyn shouted back, "I've been on my own for a month, I ain't fucking useless! And for your information-!" she took off her backpack and unzipped it, throwing it at her. The supplies spilled out into her hands and the ground. "I got more than Lee and Carley combined and I got their asses out of Macon in one piece! So fuck you!"
Lilly stared at her, speechless.
"Seriously Lilly, lay off! Like we could leave a ten year old girl on her own in a city full of those things" Carley argued, filling the silence.
Clementine ran over and took Anwyn's hand.
"C'mon, come see what me and Duck are doing" she tugged at her arm, but Anwyn didn't move. She glared at Lilly, refusing to break eye contact and her entire body bristling with anger. Clementine got in between them, looking at Anwyn with a look that meant 'walk away from this'.
"Pff, whatever. Since you so kindly said I was a burden, I'll keep my supplies to myself and give them to people I want to" Anwyn said to Lilly as she picked up her bag, pushing the contents back inside, "Maybe be nice to people when they have the stuff you need to survive. Just a piece of advice"
Anwyn followed Clementine towards the back of the RV. There was a huge wooden board with doodles all over it. Pieces of different coloured chalk were littered about as well. More shouting came from the front of the inn, making Anwyn become tense again, but Clementine just sat her down between herself and Duck.
"I'm Clementine" she introduced.
"Yes, I.. know" Anwyn replied, "... I'm Anwyn, but my friends call me Annie"
"That's a weird name"
"Well I'm from Wales. In Britain. Me and my mum were visiting my aunts when all this happened" she gestured around casually, "My family was all about heritage and shit"
"Swear" Clementine replied immediately.
"God, you sound like my cousin" Anwyn shook her head, "she was only eight"
"I'm eight too"
Anwyn stared at the wooden board, taking deep breaths. She couldn't appear weak, so she fought back the tears forming. "Yeah, good for you. I'm ten"
Clementine offered her a piece of blue chalk, "you wanna draw something? It makes me feel better when I feel sad"
Anwyn shrugged, taking the chalk and leaning over to doodle something to take her mind off it. Clementine smiled as she picked up pink chalk and started drawing little pictures of happy people. Anwyn drew a picture of a bird, flying high above any danger. She dearly wished she could fly. Up so high and safe from everything below.
She got bored quickly and leant back, pulling out her survival knife to sharpen it. It had a serrated back and wooden handle. Clementine watched her for a while before noticing the carved writing in the handle.
"What's that?" she asked finally.
"What? The writing?" Anwyn flicked the knife to one side to see it better. Clementine nodded in response. "It's Welsh. You read it like 'aros in faru' but it's spelt like this"
She showed the writing so Clementine could read it easier. Spelt out, it read 'aros yn farw'.
"It means 'stay dead'. My cousin Ash made a joke about a Meirw staying dead, and my mother said that. It sorta became our little thing" she shrugged.
"May-roo?" Clementine said it slowly, "Is that what you call Walkers?"
"Pff" Anwyn snorted, "walkers? Alright. Yeah. I call them Meirw. It just means 'dead'"
"Is it spelt weird, like your knife?" Clementine asked.
Anwyn grabbed the chalk and spelt it.
"Welcome to Welsh, where every vowel is actually something else" Anwyn dropped the chalk, "Well. I've imparted my shitty knowledge of my meant-to-be native tongue, and I'm bored" Anwyn stood up, "I'm gonna go do something"
"Do you wanna get settled in a room?" Clementine asked, standing up as well.
"I guess you got plenty to spare" Anwyn shrugged. She followed Clementine back out to the front, where everyone had calmed down and were doing their own thing. Clementine led her over to Lee.
"Hey, you girls doin' okay?" he asked with a smile, easing himself to one knee to get to their height.
"I was talking to Annie, she seems really nice" Clementine smiled, "but she needs a room"
"Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me Clem" he stood back up, "Are you okay with being on your own? You can share with Clem if it makes you less stressed"
Anwyn crossed her arms again, tapping her fingers rhythmically on one arm. Being alone probably wasn't a good idea for her right now, but sharing with an adult would just keep her from relaxing, so sharing with the kid was the best of both worlds. She nodded, "Yeah, I think I'd.. prefer it"
Clementine smiled as she ran over towards one of the rooms behind the RV. Inside were two double beds, a small couch, and table with a few chairs. There was an en-suite bathroom in the back that probably didn't work. A pink bag with flower badges was resting on the table next to other bits and pieces to entertain the kid.
Anwyn put her bag on the table and sat down to sort through it. She upended the bag and started sorting it into medicine, food, water, and personal items. Clementine picked up the photo.
"This was your family?" she asked, "they look happy"
Anwyn looked up with a half-smile, "Yeah. There was a lot of drama between my aunts and my dad, so dad stayed back home. I don't know if Britain is okay or not" she shrugged, "I'd like to think it is. All my friends and my dad are okay. But he'll be really worried"
"I bet my parents are worried about me. They went to Savannah before everything happened and left me with a babysitter" Clementine sat down next to her, setting the picture on the table.
"How do you know they're not dead then?"
"I don't know, I just have a... feeling"
Anwyn shrugged her shoulders again, "Look, don't get your hopes up Clem. If we're lucky, maybe the both of us will survive, at least to adulthood, but I wouldn't pin many hopes on everyone you love living to see it"
Clementine didn't say anything, just flicked a pencil around the table, "Well I think they're alive. And Lee said that if we ever go near Savannah we'll go look for them"
Anwyn sighed and shook her head, "That'll get you killed. Please Clementine. If you do ever go there for some reason, don't go out looking for them. Keep your eye out or something, but searching around a city full of Meirw is dangerous. Promise me you won't get killed?"
"Of course I'll try not to get killed"
"Good. I couldn't stand another kid dying because of something stupid"
Anwyn sorted everything out properly and put her personal belongings back in the backpack.
"What are you all going to do anyway?" she asked, "this place isn't that safe. It won't hold for long"
"Kenny still thinks the military will come through eventually"
Anwyn snorted out a laugh, "Seriously? He thinks that's gonna happen?"
"Yeah, even I don't believe that"
"What's his backup plan then?"
"He sometimes talks about going to the coast and getting a boat"
Anwyn tapped her chin with one hand, "That could work, but you'd have to come back eventually. And most boats would probably be gone by now" she paused, in thought, "You'd have to get lucky, find a big enough boat with either plenty of fuel or renewable stuff, like solar or something, and you'd have to have a place in mind"
"I don't think Kenny has that"
Anwyn rubbed her temples, "Oi vey. Okay, at least Lee seems to have some sense. We should be safe enough with him for a while"
"You're not going to leave are you?" Clementine asked with a worried expression.
"No. No, this place is safer than what I was doing in the long run" Anwyn replied, "No, I'm staying"
Clementine relaxed, "Oh good. Duck is boring to play with"
Anwyn giggled, "You say my name's weird"
Clementine laughed as well, "Yeah. He's always blaming me for stuff, it's really annoying"
"Like what? Do explain, I still love gossip"
"He said I put a bug on his pillow"
"But did you put a bug on his pillow?"
Clementine couldn't keep a straight face. A smile spread across her face as she muttered, "Yes"
Anwyn burst out laughing, and Clementine started laughing as well.
Chapter 2: When the Food Runs Out
~~~~Two Months Later~~~~
Anwyn slipped out of bed in the early hours of the morning. Clementine was still asleep, as was Lee, although he was in the other bed, the sun was still to break the horizon. She quietly went to the table to gather as much as she could and fitted it in her backpack. These people were turning out like her family. And Anwyn simply couldn't stick around and watch. She turned around, about to go for the door, but stopped in her tracks. Clementine was stood in between Anwyn and the door.
"Where are you going?" Clementine whispered, disbelief laced with disappointment, "are you leaving?"
Anwyn couldn't meet her eyes, but she nodded, "I have to. We're starving here, and I am not going to die the way my mother did"
"But you can't leave!" Clementine said, a little louder, "please don't leave Annie"
"Clem, come with me" Anwyn put her backpack down, "the rest of these guys can starve, but out there, I can look after us and make sure we have food"
Clementine just looked at her, "But it isn't safe out there!"
Anwyn gripped her backpack. She slung it onto her back and made for the door.
"I can't stay Clem. I'm sorry" she shook her head before slipping out the door. Lilly was sat on top of the RV, looking out towards the road. Anwyn kept close to the wall as she slipped behind the building and jumped over the back wall. She made a beeline for Macon, staying among the trees for cover from other people.
By the time Anwyn made it to Macon, the sun had risen. She decided to go back to the pharmacy. There should still be plenty of stuff, it was a good place to start. She slipped through the streets like she used to, weaving between back alleys and across rooftops. In no time at all, she reached the pharmacy. The back room had a proper stash of supplies that made Anwyn much happier about her odds, but even with a full and heavy backpack, she didn't feel good.
She watched the sun climb higher into the sky as she thought. Clementine had reminded her of before the Meirw. Her friends back home, her cousins. Despite everything, she was still quite positive, still a kid. Like Anwyn was. Clementine actually was helping Anwyn feel like a kid again. They played pranks on the other group members, they drew on the ground with chalk, they played stupid games together, and they stayed up well into the night talking about stupid shit until Lee started telling them to go to sleep and throwing scrunched up balls of paper at them when they didn't listen.
Anwyn looked at her full backpack. There was so much food in there. And she knew the Inn needed food, Lilly was rationing it heavily.
She felt the charm around her neck. It was silver raven resting on a pentagram. It had been her mother's, and having been raised Celtic Pagan, she inherited it. It comforted her, and right now, all she could hear was her mother, telling her to always look out for family, and how family wasn't just blood.
"God damn it" Anwyn muttered. She slung her pack onto her back and slid down a nearby drain pipe. "When Cernunnos comes to lead me to the afterlife, bitch better be taking me somewhere real nice and there better be cake"
She grumbled the entire way back to the Motor Inn.
As she approached the front walls, Mark was busy working, hammering more boards up, but he was the first to see her.
"Holy shit" he said aloud. Carley was on watch, and immediately stood up, rifle at the ready and made the 'hide' whistle.
She was still a bit tense as Mark pulled back the dumpster entrance, but relaxed when she saw Anwyn. Clementine peeked out from behind the RV.
"Annie!" she ran over to her, hugging her tight as if she'd been away years.
"Hey Clem" Anwyn hugged her back.
"You came back!"
"Yeah. I'm sorry for leaving" Anwyn whispered, "You guys are my family now, and family look out for each other"
"Where the hell were you? Clementine told us you'd left" Lee came over, a look of concerned anger on his face.
"I did. But I had a good amount of food and my stupid conscience told me to come back" Anwyn dropped the bag, "You're my family now, and family look out for each other" she shrugged.
Larry approached from one of the rooms with a scowl on his face, "Oh good, the pissy kid is back. At least you brought something with you" he grabbed the bag and took it back to the supply room. Anwyn crossed her arms and glared at him the entire time.
"I fucking hate Larry. And Lilly"
"Swear" Clementine retorted, making Anwyn smile.
"At least you and Lee get something else to eat" Anwyn shrugged, "C'mon, let's go hide Duck's pencils and tell him they ran out days ago"
Clementine giggled as she ran after Anwyn, "You have the best pranks"
Anwyn turned back to her and grinned.
~~~A Week Later~~~
Lee and Mark had gone off hunting, checking traps and hopefully scrounging up enough to eat for at least a few more days. Clementine had found a football not that long ago, so to kill time, she and Anwyn were kicking it at a group of barrels.
"You still not find your hat?" Anwyn asked quietly, not looking away from the ball.
"No" Clementine sighed, "I have no clue where it is"
"Neither do I. And I looked for that thing for fucking ages"
Anwyn sighed, "I swear to god, if I lost my mother's charm, I'd look forever" she shook her head, "I'll find that hat if it's the last thing I do"
The motel remained in silence for ages. Clementine and Anwyn kept kicking the ball back and forth, unfortunately, they were still bored.
"Do you want me to teach you parkour?"
"Huh?" Clementine looked over, missing the ball as it bounced back. She went over to get it.
"It's a good survival skill, plus it's something kind of interesting to do" Anwyn leaned against the RV as she waited for Clementine to return with the ball.
"But I'm really hungry, won't it just make me hungrier?"
Anwyn shrugged, "Yeah, but it's something to do and it's fun and it could save your ass- er, life one day"
"I guess, but what would we practice on? I don't wanna go jumping on the roof"
Anwyn laughed, "No, that's more advanced stuff. Parkour is just moving about the stuff around you. Y'know, jumping over fences or walls and stuff" she went over to the barrels, "we could start with this"
Clementine came over, dropping the football to one side.
"Okay, stand here" Anwyn pointed next to herself, "make sure you've got a steady place to put your weight on. When you're doing the fast paced stuff, you just gotta know your centre of gravity and junk, but we're just starting so, don't worry about it yet"
Clementine did as Anwyn demonstrated, placing her hands shoulder length apart and making sure the surface was steady.
"Good, good, yeah. Which one is your writing hand? It's right yeah?"
"Put your weight on it and use it to lean on when you jump over"
"I can't jump over that! It's almost as big as me!" Clementine protested.
"You can! I've been able to scale the sides of buildings, you can jump over some barrels" Anwyn went around to the other side of the barrels, "If it's easier, just try to get on top of them. We can work up to a running start and properly jumping over"
Clementine looked at the barrels a little nervously.
"C'mon, you can do it" Anwyn encouraged. She put one hand on a barrel and jumped on top like it was nothing and slid back to the floor. "Just like that"
Clementine took a quick step back before jumping up. She didn't quite make it, the lower part of her left leg catching on the side of the barrel. As her front half started falling, Anwyn quickly caught her and steadied her.
"That was great! Better than my first jump. I fell over and fractured my arm"
"Now you tell me" Clementine muttered as she slid back to the ground.
"Don't worry, I wouldn't have let that happen" Anwyn waved one hand, "let's practice that a bit, then we'll try a running start and clearing the barrels"
Clementine eyed the barrels a little nervously, but at her previous accomplishment, she was feeling slightly better. They practiced for a while. Larry started working on fortifying the fence and Lilly watched the street from the top of the RV.
Anwyn drew an X on the top of a barrel with the blue chalk and instructed Clementine to run at the barrels. Once she got to them, she would aim her right hand for the blue X and use the inertia to carry her over.
"What if my foot catches, like before?"
"Try and land on the back of your shoulder. It's easier to roll back to your feet. Better to roll than land on your feet"
Clementine took a deep breath and a few steps back.
"I'll be right here to catch you if something bad happens" Anwyn reassured her.
Clementine sprinted forward, following Anwyn's instruction, she cleared the barrels just fine and landed lightly on her feet on the other side. She grinned at Anwyn, who high fived her.
"I doubt we'll get on to scaling buildings today, but that was awesome" she smiled.
Lilly made a whistle from the top of the RV, the whistle that meant 'hide'. Immediately, Anwyn crouched and pushed Clementine behind the barrel so they could hide. There was a long, tense moment of uncertainty. Clementine looked at Anwyn with mild terror, which Anwyn tried to reply to with a look of reassurance, but her own fear crept into her expression. Meirw were predictable, slow, and easy to avoid, but people were complicated, fast, and had an array of weapons at their disposal to harm her from a distance. Clementine noticed Anwyn's own fear and held her arm, something she had done with her mother when something bad happened. It gave them both reassurance.
"Get the gates open! We've got wounded!" Lee's voice was something of a relief, but his words were not. Everyone leaped into action, running to open the gate and congregate in the car park.
Lee ran inside with Mark alongside him. They were dragging a bearded man with an amputated leg and a kid, in his late teens most likely, was running after them. Lee pushed the gate closed behind them and everyone started talking over each other.
"Where should I put him?"
"Who the hell are these people?!"
"What's going on?"
"I don't have time to explain" Lee interrupted them.
"Lee, are you okay?" Clementine asked, running over with Anwyn close behind.
Katjaa directed Mark and the legless guy towards the back of the pickup truck parked to one side. The teenager followed them, helping carry the guy over.
"Kat, can you fix him?" Kenny ran over, standing beside Katjaa and watching as she looked over the guy.
"Jesus, Ken! I...I don't know!" Katjaa stammered, not taking her eyes off her patient.
Anwyn kept back, staying beside Lee and Clementine and avoiding the pick up. She'd seen something similar before, and it wouldn't work.
"Lee! What the hell?! You can't just be bringing new people here! What are you thinking?!" Lilly shouted, "You already brought a kid, now you're bringing two more?"
"Hey, you wanna calm down for a fucking minute?" Kenny got in between them.
"Hey, watch your mouth!" Larry retorted.
"No, I don't!" Lilly shouted back at Kenny, "I want to know why you thought bringing more mouths to feed was a good idea?!"
"He would've died if we left him!" Lee explained.
"So what?" Larry shot a glare at the guy lying in the back of the pickup.
"God Larry, you're such a dick" Anwyn retorted, "Maybe we should leave you out there"
"I'd be fine out there, as would my daughter!"
"Prove it" she pointed towards the gate, "gate's over there, in case you forgot. I would say old people forget a lot, but I can guarantee I'll forget you within about a week when you kick it in what, a month?"
"Come on, Lilly. These are people! People trying to survive, just like us. We've gotta stick together to survive!" Mark tried to bring the conversation back to the previous argument.
"The only reason you're here is because you had food. Enough for ALL of us. But that food is almost gone, we've got maybe a week's worth left," Lilly retorted, "and I don't suppose you guys are carrying any groceries, are you?" she glared at the teenager, who was stood awkwardly to one side.
"Um, no" he muttered.
"Fine. You guys fight it out, then" Mark turned to go inside, "Welcome to the family, kid" he shot at the teenager as he passed him. Clementine intervened a little, grabbing the teenager's sleeve.
"Come over here and see what I drew" she said, giving the same look of 'just walk away' she gave Anwyn on her first day.
"What? No, I-"
"Dude, seriously, just leave them to argue it out" Anwyn said. Clementine led Ben back to the RV.
He sat down next to the pages of drawings, just looking at the ground. Clementine sat and started drawing again, and Anwyn sat between her and the teenager.
"What's your name then?" Anwyn asked the teenager.
"Uh, Ben" he replied.
"I'm Anwyn. That's Clementine and Duck" Anwyn pointed to the other two, "I'm sure the others will introduce themselves later"
Ben didn't say anything, instead just went back to staring at the ground.
"Annie, can you help me with this?" Clementine said, drawing Anwyn's attention away.
"You do it. There's today's food rations, but there's not enough for everyone. Good luck" Lilly's voice rang across the motel. Everyone looked over. She had handed Lee an apple, a piece of beef jerky, and two packages of crackers. He looked over at everyone staring at him.
Anwyn huffed as she turned back around. She'd been on almost a hundred supply runs back to Macon, but the Meirw there were getting more and more of a pain in the ass and the supplies were dwindling. She had proposed going deeper into the city, gladly volunteered herself to do it, but the only ones who supported it were Larry and Lilly. Out of respect for everyone else (mostly just Clementine) she had not done it.
Lee approached the RV and knelt beside Clementine and Anwyn.
"Hey girls, how ya doing?" he smiled as they both looked up.
"We're okay" Clementine shrugged.
"Where's your hat Clem?"
"I don't know. Can you help me find it?"
"Sure. When did you lose it?"
"I had it a couple days ago"
"I'm helping her look for it too, but I can't find it either" Anwyn shook her head, "If I'm honest I think Duck took it"
"Did not!" Duck spoke up from the other side of the board.
"Shit, I forgot he was there for a second"
"Yeah, yeah" Anwyn replied absent mindedly to Clementine's protest.
"You two both need something to eat" Lee muttered. He took out a pack of crackers and a half apple and held them out to the kids. Clementine took the apple and Anwyn took the crackers.
"Um- thanks" Anwyn said awkwardly.
"I love apples. Thank you. Are there more?" Clementine smiled as she bit into it.
"No. That was the last one"
"Oh, um..." Clementine stopped chewing in a moment of uncomfortable silence.
"Enjoy it. You deserve it" Lee reassured her, "You two'll be okay over here?"
"We'll be fine" Clementine replied as Lee stood up. He went over to Duck and knelt beside him.
"Hey, Duck, how about a little food?" he said, getting Duck's attention. He looked up with a really dumb grin on his face.
"Here" Lee gave him a piece of jerky.
"Yeah! Oh, man, I'm so hungry!" Duck devoured it quickly. Lee got back up and went back around the front to deal out the last piece of food.
Anwyn opened the packet and tried to eat the crackers slowly, savouring the bland, dry flavour. It didn't even take the edge off her hunger.
"Clem, I think I'm gonna have to start going deeper into Macon"
Clementine looked over with a look of concern, "But it's super dangerous in the city. What if you get hurt?"
"If we leave it any longer, I'll be too weak to go out anymore. Aren't you starving?"
"Yeah, but you're still just a kid. Just one Walker could get you really easy" Clementine argued, "they can sneak up you and you'd be too small to do much about it"
"Dying of starvation is not exactly a fun option" Anwyn retorted, "I should have left when I did. Stayed gone" she muttered.
Clementine looked at her with disappointment before turning back to the paper. Anwyn sighed.
"But I guess I'd probably be dead by now. You're right about the Meirw"
"So you won't go too far into Macon?"
"No. For now. But if this gets any worse, I won't have a choice"
"Goddamn it! I'm getting sick of this shit!" Kenny's shout came from the other side of the RV. He threw something at the RV, making Anwyn wince before he stormed off. Anwyn went to the side of the RV to see what was going on, Clementine following behind her, her own curiosity piqued. They kept out of sight so they could overhear everything.
"Ken, come back, there's nothing..." Katjaa tried to call after him, but Kenny just kept walking.
"Let him go Katjaa" Lee said.
"He just needs time. It's been a rough morning" Lee reassured her as he shook his head a little.
"That man you brought... I tried, but he was never going to survive"
"Well, at least he's not our problem anymore"
"I guess he didn't make it" Anwyn whispered to Clementine.
"That's sad" she muttered back.
"What about the other kid?" Katjaa continued, drawing the kid's attention back to the adult's conversation.
The legless guy sat up and lunged for Katjaa. He was a Meirw now. It roared and grabbed Katjaa's shoulder and face, dragging her backwards towards its gnashing teeth.
Katjaa screamed bloody murder as it happened.
"Shit! Katjaa!" Lee shouted. He shoved the Meirw away from her and whirled around towards Mark and Larry over by the wall. "The axe! Hurry!"
The Meirw grabbed Lee and yanked him onto the truckbed.
"LEE!" Clementine and Anwyn shouted together as they ran towards him.
Lee grappled with the thing, trying to smash its head against the side of the truck to stop it, but it just kept coming. Mark ran over with the axe raised.
Lee shoved the walker back with one foot, making it smack the back of its head against the window. Just as Mark swung, the Meirw slumped down, making his swing hit the window and shatter the glass, keeping the axe in place.
"SHIT! It's stuck!" Mark shouted, yanking the axe as hard as he could, but it didn't budge. The Meirw lunged at Lee again. He kicked it back and crawled backwards, away from the thing. He fell off the edge of the truckbed, smacking into the ground with a thud. The Meirw didn't give up, instead jumping onto him. Lee held it's head at arm's length.
Anwyn pulled her knife out and grabbed the Meirw's collar, yanking it off Lee and closer to her. She thrust the knife into its skull over and over. It made gross gurgling sounds as it went limp and finally collapsed to the floor, blood covering Anwyn and dripping from her hands to the growing pool on the concrete.
"Aros yn farw" she growled, "You okay?" she turned to Lee as he stood up.
"Yeah. Yeah, thanks" Lee replied, checking himself for injuries.
"Why'd you bring him here in the first place, asshole?!" Larry shouted, storming over.
"Shut up! Just shut up!" Anwyn retorted, "I am SO FUCKING SICK of listening to you"
"You're just a goddamn kid!" he shouted at her, "So shut your goddamn mouth! And you!" he turned back to Lee, "You're gonna get us ALL killed!"
Anwyn opened her mouth to say something else, but Clementine grabbed her hand and shook her head. Anwyn sighed and remained silent, crossing her arms and shifting her weight instead.
Mark gave Lee the axe back and Larry walked away, closely followed by Lilly. Kenny hugged Katjaa, but when he caught sight of Ben approaching, he shot him daggers.
"You said he wasn't bitten!" Kenny shouted.
"What?" Ben stuttered, looking increasingly like he was ready to just leave.
"We asked you, point blank, 'Was he bitten?' and you said 'No'"
"Well, your 'not-bitten' friend here came back to life and tried to kill my wife!"
"What?! Wait, you all don't know?" Ben looked around the entire group with a confused expression.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Kenny retorted.
"It's not the bite that does it!" Ben said. Everyone came closer, completely attentive, "You come back no matter how you die. If you don't destroy the brain, that's just what happens. It's gonna happen to ALL of us"
Everyone was silent for a few seconds. Anwyn thought back to her family. Her mother, her elder cousin. They would be Meirw. All the way back at their house. It made her sick. She covered her mouth with one hand to stop anything and turned away from Ben. She'd left them to that fate.
"We're all infected? Everyone?" Lee muttered.
"I--I guess so. I don't know... All I know is that I've seen people turn who I KNOW were never bitten" Ben tried to explain, "When I first saw it happen, we were all hiding out in a gym and everybody thought we were finally safe. But one of the girls, Jenny Pitcher, I think, I guess she couldn't take it. She took some pills. A lot of them. Someone went in the girls' room the next morning, and... God..." he shuddered.
Anwyn couldn't take it. Awful thoughts spilled into her head. Ever since the start, she'd been mildly comforted by the thought that her family, although dead, were in the Summerland, a better place. But her mother, her own mother, and her elder cousin who was only thirteen, they were trapped here. She stifled her emotions, at least enough to stop them being shown, and turned back around. Clementine was holding her arm for comfort and giving her a worried look.
"Back off!" Carley shouted, pointing her gun out toward the street. Two men stood there. Two strangers.
Chapter 3: The St. John Dairy
"Back off!" Carley shouted towards the road, her gun at the ready. The two men stood outside the gate lifted their hands in a surrender pose and Anwyn noticed one held a gas canister.
"Whoa, lady, relax! Me and my brother, we...we just wanna know if y'all can help us out" one of the men said back.
"I said back off!" Carley shouted again. Anwyn gripped her knife tighter.
"Carley..." Lilly muttered.
"We don't want any trouble" Lee said. His body language showed his nervousness, but his voice was confident.
"Of course. Neither do we. I'm Andy St. John. This here's my brother Danny. We're just out looking for gasoline. Looks like you folks got the motel locked down, which is fine, but if you could spare any gas we'd be much obliged" the same brother explained calmly.
"Why do you need gas?" Carley asked, gun still at the ready.
"Our place is protected by an electric fence. Generators provide the electricity..." the other brother, Danny, answered.
"Our generators run on gas. Look, we own a dairy farm a few miles up the road. If y'all be willing to lower your guns, we can talk about some kinda trade" Andy continued.
"How y'all doing on food? We got plenty at the dairy" Danny took over again.
"Lee, why don't you and Mark check the place out? See if it's legit" Lilly said to Lee as Carley put her gun away at last. Anwyn shifted nervously.
Lee thought for second, looking at the brothers. Anwyn knew that look. He was sizing them up, measuring the risks.
"You've got a deal. We'll bring SOME gas to your dairy. In exchange, you give us some food to bring back. We'll see how it goes from there" Lee replied at last.
"Sounds fair. A couple of gallons should power one of our generators for a while" Andy smiled.
Mark, Ben, Carley, and Lee grouped together and readied their weapons. The brothers were completely out of Anwyn's sight, so she had no clue what they looked like, but if Lee was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, then Anwyn would too.
"I won't be long girls, don't worry" Lee knelt down in front of Clementine and Anwyn, "Annie, keep an eye on her. I think you've more than proved you could take on anyone in a fight"
"Don't get killed" Anwyn replied, "Or I'll reverse haunt you"
Lee smiled and got to his feet, "I'll try my best" he followed the others into the forest.
"Be safe Lee" Clementine waved.
"C'mon Clem, let's go play a game or something. Take our minds off the hunger" Anwyn took her hand and got her back to the safety of the other side of the RV.
~~~A couple hours later~~~
While they waited for someone to return, Anwyn pulled out the football and held it up.
Clementine shook her head, "No, I'm too hungry"
Anwyn put the ball down and sat next to her. "You worried about Lee?"
"Yeah. I hate it when you or him go out there, it makes me feel like this every time"
"He'll be fine Clem, I promise"
"But you can't promise that"
Anwyn fell silent. She really didn't know what to say, she was worried too. Anwyn really wished there was someone there to tell her everything would be alright, and usually it was Lee, but right now, Clementine needed her to be that person. So she was.
Anwyn took a piece of pink chalk and started drawing little Welsh dragons on the pavement. They looked pretty shit, since the actual design was a bit beyond the capability of a ten year old, but it distracted Anwyn for a while at least.
"Those look... nice" Lilly said from the RV.
"Uh...thanks" Anwyn replied, "it's the dragon from my home's flag"
"It's pretty cool they have that on the flag" Clementine smiled, looking up from her own drawings.
"Yeah. Beats the British flag and the stars and stripes any day. Er.. No offence"
"Hey! We're back!" Carley's voice came from the other side of the wall. Clementine and Anwyn ran over to help pull the dumpster gates open. Carley and Ben slipped through, Carley holding a basket of what smelt like freshly baked bread rolls.
"Is that..?" Anwyn looked down at the basket and back up at Carley. She nodded.
"The place is legit, and it's locked down tight. You kids get first pick" she handed the basket to Anwyn who turned back around to Clementine and Duck. They all took one and ate it as quick as they could. It tasted like the gods themselves had descended from the Summerland itself and blessed her with a divine feast.
She grabbed another one and just tore into it. She couldn't stop herself.
There were three left. She had to hold her own arm back, digging her nails in to not just take another. Kenny came over
"Slow down there Annie" he smiled, "Leave some for the rest of us"
"Sorry. I'm just.. so hungry. And starving to death isn't fun to go through" Anwyn replied, shifting her weight awkwardly.
"It's fine. Honestly, I think you kids should have them"
Anwyn gripped her arm tighter. That's what her mother had said all the time. Always giving her food instead of eating herself. It ate Anwyn up inside sometimes, if she had just been stronger, made out like she was fine...
"This just means the place is legit" Kenny went on, "the rest of us can eat when we get there, but y'all are growing kids"
Anwyn shook her head, "Nah, I'm good for now. You should at least eat something Kenny. Or take it to Katjaa or something"
"Hey! What about me, huh?" Larry said, approaching them, "What about keeping up my strength?"
"Are you fucking serious? I'm a goddamn ten year old and I'm toughing out a bit of hunger without complaint. Fuck, I'm insisting I go hungry for a bit longer so someone else can eat, and you're still going the fuck on? Grow the fuck up" Anwyn growled back, crossing her arms. Larry scowled back, but Kenny got in between them.
"Lay off the kid, man" he said, "let's just go to the dairy"
Lilly jumped down from the RV. "If this is legit, we should all head out now"
"Someone should stay here though" Larry replied, "Make sure nothing gets stolen" he glared at Kenny and Anwyn.
"Me and Ben will stay" Carley said quickly, "we did eat a few of those things on our way back. Seems only fair we stay behind for a bit"
Larry grumbled a little, but everyone agreed and followed Kenny and Lilly out the gates and into the forest.
As they made their way towards the farm, Anwyn kept beside Clementine.
"Excited for some real food, Clem?" she said.
"Yeah! That bread didn't help much"
"Same here" Anwyn shook her head, "I think you should've taken the last one. You are the youngest"
"Just because I'm little doesn't mean I can't tough it out for a couple hours" Clementine retorted.
Anwyn smiled, "Hopefully you won't be little forever. I'm gonna make sure you at least get to adulthood and enjoy that for a while. My cousin Ash was just starting the whole puberty thing and she said it sucked royally"
Clementine grimaced, "Yeah, my friend's older sister said that too"
"I just hope I'm not the kind to go boy crazy or nothing"
"Boys are gross"
"Amen" Anwyn laughed, "My mum always used to say 'one day you'll meet a boy you like'. I always used to think, 'well it ain't today, so, ew boys'"
"My mom said stuff like that too"
"Actually, my cousin said maybe I'd like girls instead. Or as well as boys. I dunno yet. That'll totally not be a nightmare in a world with a severe lack of people our age"
"Is everyone in Wales sarcastic all the time?" Clementine smirked.
"Every British person, from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, all have sarcasm in our genes. Our instinctive reaction to everything is sarcasm" Anwyn grinned, "You should've met my dad, he was sarcastic about everything" Anwyn gave a half laugh before looking away, "Shit. I wonder if he's still alive"
"Maybe. Maybe he'll try to come here to find you?"
"I doubt it. He was in the Air Force, a pilot. He probably got called up to do military stuff"
"What did your mom do?"
Anwyn looked back forward with a bit of a smile, "She was an apothecary, y'know, a healer with plants and stuff. At least one kid in every generation was taught the craft, it was a family tradition. She was starting to teach me, and I watched her treat loads of people, so I know a bit about herbal stuff. Well, basics I guess"
"That's super helpful now though" Clementine said, "'Cause you wouldn't have to go into the cities for medicine"
"For the simple stuff, yeah. I know a few painkillers and the antiseptic things, but that's about it. If I could find anything on herbs, a book or a pamphlet or something, it'd refresh my memory and I'd know way more to be really helpful" she shrugged, "Maybe we can find a bookstore, I dunno. Crazy shit happens, maybe that'll happen"
Anwyn laughed, "You're never gonna let me swear, are you?"
"You do anyway, not like I stop you"
"Yeah, well, I've been doing it slightly less. Sort of. Who's gonna break first? Me not swearing, or am I gonna corrupt you into not giving a fuck?"
"Swear!" Clementine smiled, "I refuse to let you win!"
"I shall never give up swearing!" Anwyn grinned, putting on an overly confident voice, "Neva!"
"Alright you two" Kenny slowed down a little and looked back at them with a smile, "Try not to be too loud"
"Right, sorry" Anwyn crossed her arms.
"Nah, it's fine kiddo. Once we get to the dairy, y'all can be as loud and silly as ya like. We shouldn't be far now, the trees end there" he pointed at the break in the trees. Though them, Anwyn could see a vast open field with a large house at the back of it. Next to the house looked like a barn.
"Finally! I wonder when they'll give us more food" Anwyn grinned.
"Yeah, I can't wait" Clementine added.
The group walked along the path, and it felt like forever until they actually started approaching the main iron gate. Lee and Mark were stood on the other side along with Andy and Danny, and some woman was walking down the path from the house.
"Hey y'all!" Kenny waved. Mark turned slightly to look at them, revealing an arrow sticking out of his upper back.
"Mark! Oh, my god, what happened?!" Katjaa shouted in surprise, running ahead to help.
"He got shot with an arrow" Lee explained quickly.
"Yeah, I think we can see that" Anwyn replied, running behind Katjaa to give her a hand.
"Christ! Are you gonna be okay?" Lilly said, concern strewn all over her face.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I should just...pull it out..." Mark gripped his shoulder with the opposite hand, breathing heavily.
"Oh, no, honey, c'mon, Brenda's got you" the woman from the house came over quickly "C'mon inside now. We'll have you all sorted out" she ushered him towards the house followed by Katjaa. Anwyn stopped and watched them go, there really wasn't anything she could do that Katjaa couldn't do ten times better and far more professionally. Her knowledge was pretty much emergency survival in the wild stuff.
"What kind of shit is this?" Larry shouted, making Anwyn grimace.
"We ran into some people on the way up here...bandits, I guess. I think it was them that attacked us" Lee came closer to the group to explain. Anwyn jogged over to actually hear the conversation.
"They gave us a lot of problems in the beginning, killed a bunch of our farmhands. We were able to get 'em to stop by makin' a deal" Andy said.
"You KNEW about these people?" Kenny growled, a really pissed off look on his face.
"Food for protection. Not like we had much of a choice, but they did stop hasslin' us" Danny tried to explain.
"Goddamn it!" Larry shouted again. At least he wasn't pointing fingers at the group this time. "Carley said this place was locked down tight!"
"Maybe it isn't as safe here as we thought" Lee muttered, glancing at Clementine and Anwyn.
"We're sorry! We've never had them screw with us like this! Not since we started givin' 'em food!" Andy said quickly, "Listen, we may have had an agreement with those people, but we will NOT stand for this shit"
"Ain't no way we're gonna let those sons o' bitches get away with this!" Danny added, fists clenched.
"You know where these assholes are?" Kenny asked.
"They're hard to pin down, but I think I know where at least ONE of their camps are" Danny turned to Lee, "When you're ready to go scope out that bandit camp, come find us" the brothers walked back over to the house.
"Bandits? Are you serious? This place isn't safe, we can't stay here" Lilly said, gripping her rifle.
"Not safe?!" Kenny retorted, "This place is a hell of a lot safer than that Motor Inn! I think all of us and our guns can handle a couple of punks with bows and arrows! What we need to do is find a way to get our whole group out here to stay. Take this place over if we have to"
"How about we get a read on these people before we think about starting a mutiny? They seem pretty friendly, how would we have liked it if Ben and that teacher had 'taken over' the Motor Inn after we helped them?" Anwyn crossed her arms.
"For once, I agree with the kid" Larry said, "These are nice people. Let's not do anything to get us thrown out before we eat!"
"I'm gonna head out and help Dan deal with these bandits. You guys should try to make friends with Andy and Brenda while I'm gone" Lee said to the group.
"Well, that's easy. I got charm coming outta my ass" Larry smirked. Anwyn rolled her eyes at Clementine, making her giggle.
"Yeah, that's...real charming, Dad" Lilly said with a shake of her head.
"Where's Ben and Carley?"
"Since Carley and Ben ate some of the food on the way to get us, she volunteered to stay behind and watch the motor inn until we get back"
Andy came back over and pointed towards a tree over to one side of the yard, "Hey, I remembered seeing kids in your group, so I went ahead and fixed that swing while you were out" he looked over at the kids, "Hope you kids like swings!"
"A swing! I love swings! Just like at my treehouse! Come on, Annie!" Clementine grinned, running over to the swing. Anwyn followed close behind, and Duck ran after them. "Don't forget me!"
Kenny followed to keep an eye on them.
"Get on Clem, I'll push ya" Annie said, standing behind the swing. Clementine sat on the board and Anwyn did what she'd promised. "You think this place is safe?"
"Yeah, there is the electric fence and those bad guys only have bows and arrows" Clem shrugged, "and Lee is going to scare them off"
Anwyn chuckled, "Hopefully, yeah. But the fence still runs on gas, and my dad told me it has an expiration date, so it won't work forever"
"I guess, but the field is really big. We'd be able to see things coming to us"
"Unless they come from the back of the house"
"We can set traps or something"
"I guess that could work" Anwyn muttered, "Y'know, back home, most of the country is countryside like this. Or valleys"
"I've never been there, is it pretty?"
"Very. Some of the towns are built into such deep valleys that driving can be a nightmare" Anwyn laughed, "Whenever my dad drove to my grandma's I'd learn all the swears I currently know"
"And I'm gonna get you to stop" Clementine looked back at her with a smile.
"Fuck no!" Anywn grinned back.
"Alright girls, let's let Duck have a go" Kenny said. Anwyn stopped Clementine's swing and helped her jump off so Duck could get on. Kenny started pushing him as Clementine sat on a tree stump and Anwyn sat on the ground next to her. She stretched her arms above her head and fell to her back, lying on the grass.
"It's nice to be able to relax for five fucking minutes and not have something trying to kill you"
"Swear" Clementine replied immediately, "but I agree"
Anwyn couldn't fall into a nap, she was simply too hungry, but it felt nice to just listen to the sound of the swing, the birds, the rustling leaves and the wind, and to soak in the sun.
"Hey girls, you like the swing?" Lee asked. Anwyn opened her eyes and sat up.
"Yeah! It's fun!" Clementine smiled as Anwyn nodded in agreement.
"Be sure to tell Andy 'thank you', okay?"
"We will" Clementine replied, "Annie hasn't had a turn yet, will you push her on it?"
"Sure" he smiled. He stood up and turned to Kenny, "Mind if Annie takes a turn?"
"Alright, Duck, let Annie have a try for a bit" Kenny let the swing stop and Duck hopped off. Anwyn got on and Clementine sat beside to keep close. Lee started pushing her.
"How you holding up?" he asked.
"I'm fine. Trying to keep Clem in one piece" Anwyn shrugged.
"Y'know you don't need to do that" Lee replied, "You're still a kid like her. You should focus more on being a kid"
"If I do that, and she gets hurt, I'll never forgive myself, because I know I can protect her"
"It isn't just you protecting her. You already know how to survive, so just relax, try and do normal kid stuff"
Anwyn fell silent, contemplating. She had been trying her best, but it was hard not to forget everything.
"Are you doing okay?" she shot back at him.
"Yeah. I'm just a little worried about Mark"
"Is Mark going to be okay?" Clementine asked.
"He got lucky out there. Could have been a lot worse"
"Are you going to find the people who hurt Mark?" Clementine continued.
"We have to make sure they don't hurt anyone else"
"Be careful. I want you to stay lucky, too"
"Ever since I've met you I've had good luck, so don't worry"
"Maybe I'll be lucky too then" Anwyn added, "since I'm, like, her best friend" she glanced at Clementine, "uh, right?"
Anwyn smiled back.
"You two don't need to worry, we're safe here" Lee said.
"As long as the bad people don't get us too, right?" Clementine replied.
"I won't let what happened to Mark happen to either of you"
"I think this place could do with more defenses. Clem thought of traps for the trees behind the house, and we could post guards and patrols around when the gas expires" Anwyn said, pointing around the house and grounds.
"That's actually not a bad idea" Lee nodded, "We can talk to the group about that"
"Clem, do you want a go?" Lee looked over at Clementine.
"Nah, I've already had a really long turn"
"Alright, Annie, that's enough for now. I have to go do some things"
"Okay Lee" Anwyn slipped off onto her feet, "All yours Duck"
"Yeah!" Duck shouted, running back over.
"Okay, Duck, don't pop a gasket" Kenny smiled, going back to push the swing.
Clementine and Anwyn went back over to the tree stump and relaxed a bit. Anwyn watched as Lee approached the brothers and talked to them for a while. After a while, Danny handed him a rifle and they walked down from the house, towards the outer gate. Clementine watched Lee as he walked away from the safety of the house.
"You think Lee will be okay?" Clementine asked, still watching him walk away.
"Yeah, he'll be fine" Anwyn reassured, telling herself that just as much as she was Clementine.
For a couple hours, Anwyn, Clementine, and Duck rotated turns on the swing. They all chatted about various things, and at one point all pitched in pushing Kenny on the swing. Katjaa came over from the barn with a smile.
"You four look like you're having fun" she said.
"How's that cow doing?" Kenny asked.
"She's doing fine. Do you kids wanna come see?"
"I've never seen a cow before" Clementine grinned, "C'mon Annie, let's go see"
Annie followed behind Clementine as they went over to the barn. There was a cow inside, lying to the left of the barn door. Andy was sat on one side of the cow and Katjaa sat on its other side, Kenny was stood towards the back. The inside of the barn was divided into sections for individual cattle, a large door was at the very back, and various medals and trophies decorated the place. A weird looking white block sat to one side and hay littered the place.
"What's that?" Duck asked Andy, pointing to the white block.
"That's a salt lick, kid. Cows gotta get it somehow" Andy replied.
Clementine wandered around a little, exploring, and Anwyn sat beside the cow.
"Can I.. pet it?" she asked Katjaa.
"Sure, go ahead"
Anwyn cautiously stroked the back of the cow's neck with one hand.
"Wild. I've seen loads of cows before, but I ain't touched one" Anwyn smiled. Clementine came over and sat down next to her with a grossed out look on her face.
Anwyn gave her a look of confusion before glancing over her shoulder at where Clementine had just been. She noticed the salt lick.
"Did you lick the salt thing?" she asked quietly with a hint of a smirk.
Clementine didn't look at her, rather staring to her right, "I don't know"
Anwyn shook her head, "What am I gonna do with you, you tiny weirdo?"
"I think Maybelle could have her baby tonight" Katjaa interjected, "it'll be nice to see a little calf running around"
"Yeah, that'll be cool!" Clementine smiled. She turned back to look at the house through the barn door. "I can't wait for dinner"
"The wait'll be worth it" Andy said, "Mama'll make a feast for y'all"
"That's just making me hungrier" Anwyn groaned, "It'll be nice to have a full stomach for once"
"Hey, I meant to ask, and I hope you don't mind" Andy turned to Anwyn, "Ya don't really sound like you're from 'round here"
"I'm from Britain. Was visiting family here when shit happened" Anwyn shrugged, "I've been trying to avoid British swears, considering some choice ones are taken way worse here"
"I can't think of any you've said" Clementine muttered.
"That means me avoiding them is going good. And there's been some close calls" she smirked, "I'm trying my best here"
"Hey kids, you're friend is back" Andy interrupted, motioning towards the barn door. Clementine and Anwyn got up and looked out. Andy was right, Lee was walking up to the house behind Danny. Clementine waved.
"See, told you he'd be fine" Anwyn nudged Clementine with one shoulder, "Now come sit back down, he'll probably come say hi in a bit"
Chapter 4: The Lengths People Go
This one is a bit shorter. I was going to do the rest of the episode in this chapter, but it just got super long, so I split it into two. Enjoy anyway :p
"Can I.. pet her?" Clementine asked quietly, looking up at Katjaa and Andy.
Anwyn looked up at the sound of the barn door being pulled open. Lee walked in and looked around.
"It's okay, Clementine, you can pet her" Katjaa replied softly, but Clementine still glanced back at Lee first.
"It's okay, go ahead"
Clementine nervously shifted closer to the cow and carefully stroked the back of its neck. The cow itself didn't react in the slightest, but Clementine looked like she was tripping out.
"Whoa.." she muttered, making Anwyn hide a laugh, "Katjaa says Maybelle could have her baby tonight!"
"We'll see, Clementine" Katjaa smiled.
"It'd be really cool though" Anwyn said, "Calves are super cute"
Lee looked around again and knelt beside the salt lick, "What's this thing?"
"Andy said it's called a salt lick" Duck shrugged, glancing over his shoulder at what Lee was looking at.
"Yeah, but don't lick it. It's gross" Clementine added, shaking her head.
"Did you lick it?"
Clementine didn't blink. "I don't know..."
Anwyn couldn't stop herself from laughing, which made Clementine scowl a tiny bit.
"Hey Clem" Lee got her attention as he knelt beside her, "look what I found" he pulled out her missing hat from his pocket.
"My hat! You found it!" Clementine grinned as she took it and fitted it back on her head, "I knew you'd find it! You said you would!"
"Where the fuck did you find it? I looked everywhere!" Anwyn glanced between the hat and Lee.
"Did either of you see any strangers around the Motor Inn who might have taken it?"
Anwyn and Clementine exchanged glances and shook their head.
"Lee, where did you find it?" Anwyn crossed her arms.
"Just... Just let me know if you ever see anyone near the Motor Inn"
Anwyn narrowed her eyes, but kept silent. It was his own choice to not trust them with where he had found it, and she could understand why he might not want to tell Clementine, but Anwyn felt like she'd proved she was mature beyond her age enough to know something that simple. Whatever.
"Okay, we will" Clementine nodded. Before Lee could stand up again, Clementine blurted out "Hey, Lee. Do you think you'll ever have kids?"
"I'd like to, someday. Maybe a little girl like you" he smiled.
"That's nice. You'd be a good dad"
"You'd be a awesome dad" Anwyn added.
"Thanks for finding my hat"
"You're welcome, Clem"
"Do you wanna pet the cow with us?"
"Nah, but you go on ahead with Annie" Lee stood up and went towards the back door with Kenny.
Anwyn shrugged and looked back at the cow.
Over the next hour or so, the sun started setting and Andy and Lee came and went, doing who knew what. Anwyn honestly didn't care, she was more focused on the coming dinner bell. It finally rang, shrill across the yard and into the barn. Duck jumped up with that stupid grin on his face.
"Mom! Dad! Dinner time! It's dinner time!" he sprinted, full on sprinted, out the barn and towards the house.
"Kenny? Come along, honey. Kenny, c'mon, don't make the children wait" Katjaa said to Kenny, who was stood at the back of the barn near Lee. Kenny turned back to Lee and said something quickly before following the kids out. Anwyn and Clementine raced to the house, both completely ecstatic at the prospect of food.
The table in the house had been properly set out with candles, and empty plates were in front of each place. Everyone was gathering around it, Danny sat at the head of the table while everyone else littered around the rest of it. Clementine went to sit opposite the door and Anwyn followed her, sitting right next to her.
"Brenda you are an angel!" Larry laughed.
"Biscuits, wow!" Duck exclaimed as Brenda quickly set down another little basket with round biscuits at the centre of the table.
Lee walked through the door with Andy, who sat on Clementine's other side, which made Anwyn a little nervous.
"Everybody sit down and I'll go get the meal! Ooh, this is a delight!" Brenda smiled as she headed to the kitchen.
"I could eat a horse" Kenny commented.
"Where's Mark?" Lee quickly asked Brenda before she disappeared.
"Now don't you worry about him. I've already brought some food up. You just let him rest"
"Mind if I wash my hands first?"
"Bathroom's right outside in the hall. And be sure to get under your nails, you've been muckin' around in the dirt all day"
Lee nodded and went back out into the hallway.
Brenda came back first with little baskets of bread rolls and set them out, "Make sure to leave plenty of room for our main course, now!" she smiled as she went back to get the rest of the plates. She came back again with some plates of vegetables and everyone put a few on their plates. Anwyn made sure Clementine had some as well.
"Eat your greens" Anwyn smiled.
"All right mom" Clementine rolled her eyes with a smirk.
"You are learning the ways of British sarcasm" Anwyn grinned, "You will become saltier than even me"
Brenda came in with the last plates, "Lee, did ya fall in?! Dinner's on the table and everyone's havin' at!" she hollered as she placed them on the table.
"Barbecue! Wow!" Duck exclaimed as everyone took a few slices.
Anwyn bit into it. It tasted like pork, maybe a bit more bitter than pork, which immediately set off alarm bells in Anwyn's head. This was a dairy farm and the brothers said this was hunted from the surrounding area. The only meat around here would be deer, bird, rabbits, other smaller creatures, but certainly not pigs. Cautiously, she took another bite, trying to determine what it actually was.
Lee suddenly burst through the door.
"Don't eat that!" he shouted, making her jump.
Clementine dropped her fork, only having had a few vegetables. Everyone else looked at him confused.
"Lee, Jesus, man! Did you find something?" Kenny asked.
"Sit your ass down, Lee. This lady has made you a meal" Larry retorted.
"Yeah, Lee, what's gotten into you?" Lilly piped up.
"Mark is upstairs with his fucking legs cut off! You're EATING him" Lee shouted, pointing one hand at the staircase.
Anwyn froze, staring at the plate.
"What the hell?"
"You're scaring the kids, Lee"
"Lee, what the hell is wrong with you?!" Lilly growled, standing up.
"Don't indulge him, Lilly. It's always something with this guy" Larry glared at Lee.
"You are okay with EATING a HUMAN BEING?!" Anwyn screeched, banging the table with both hands, "FUCKING SERIOUSLY?!"
"They're picking us off to trade as meat!" Lee said, "MARK is UPSTAIRS right now with NO LEGS. BRENDA, tell me he's NOT being eaten right now"
Everyone looked at Brenda, who glanced at her plate before returning their stares.
"Everything coulda turned out okay for you folks" Danny muttered as he took another bite.
Everyone suddenly pushed their plates away in complete disgust.
"He woulda died anyway! We gotta think about LIVIN'!" Andy shouted.
"Settle down, honey" Brenda said to Andy before looking to the rest of the group "Growin' up in rural Georgia, you're taught not to waste. It's how I was raised and how I raised my boys. Now, you got monsters roamin' around that do nothin' but eat people. And for what? To continue to rot 'til they eat some more. We think we can put that meat to better use"
"Ugh... I'm gonna puke" Lilly groaned, looking like she was about to do so. Anwyn was feeling very much the same.
"You're all sick...sick in the head" Lee glared at them, Brenda in particular.
"Lee, that's not a very nice thing to imply" Brenda glared back, her disturbingly relaxed demeanor disappearing into something that was actually much worse, "Andy is right; we go after folks who were gonna die anyways, one way or another"
"Like y'all" Danny slowly looked over at them, making Anwyn's blood run cold.
"Girls, run!" Lee shouted at Anwyn and Clementine, but Andy shot up and drew his gun.
"Nobody's going anywhere!" he ordered. Danny grabbed his rifle as well.
Clementine looked panic stricken and got as close to Anwyn as she could. Anwyn held onto her arm to relieve some of her own fear, but realistically, she didn't see a way out of this. She still had her knife, but that wouldn't do shit against a guy with a pistol and a guy with a rifle.
"We got lots of use for y'all right here" Danny muttered again, making Anwyn even more terrified.
"Put your guns down! We're walking out of here!"
"You don't go near my fucking family!"
"I don't wanna die... Mommy, what did I eat?"
The entire situation was spiraling so far out of control. No one was making a move, they were just shouting and swearing and Anwyn just froze.
"Lee! Lee...!" Clementine looked at Lee. There was a table between them, not to mention two guys with guns.
Andy grabbed Clementine's hair and yanked her out of Anwyn's grasp, making them both yelp. Anwyn pounced on him, trying to grab his gun, but he took a step back and tried to whirl it around to point it at her. A gunshot rang through the house and everyone stopped.
Pain shot through her right shoulder and blood ran down her shirt.
"ANNIE!" Clementine shouted. Anwyn fell back to her seat, trying to steady herself and gripping her shoulder tightly.
"You fucker! I'll tear you apart!" Lee went to run towards them, but Danny held the rifle right up to his chin, making him stop.
The sound of something big falling down the stairs made everyone fall silent and look towards the hallway. Something was being dragged across the floor.
"Pllleeease...someone" It was Mark. He was covered in blood and dragging himself across the floor. He got in full view. Lee was right. His legs were gone. Everyone gasped in horror, recoiling from the table in disgust. Lee turned back around to the girls.
"Clementi-" Lee tried to charge for them, but Danny smacked him with the butt of his rifle, knocking him out cold.
"Lee!" Clementine screamed, struggling against Andy's grip.
Anwyn gritted her teeth. She grabbed her knife and lunged at Andy while he was distracted by everything else. She stuck it into his gut as hard as she could. He shouted in pain, letting go of Clementine and grabbing Anwyn by her shirt collar. He shoved her into the wall so hard, stars blurred her vision. Trying her best to ignore it, she tried to get a grip on her knife again, but he yanked her out of reach. He smacked her against the wall again and she slipped into darkness.
Chapter 5: The Meaning of Safety
Anwyn came to in a small room. The walls were off white and boxes were littered around the wall opposite to a closed door. Larry was banging against the door, shouting and screaming. Lilly was throwing up in one corner, and Clementine and Lee were sat next to her.
"Annie!" Clementine said in surprise.
Lee helped Anwyn sit up, concern written all over his face.
"Are you okay? Clem said Andy knocked you out"
Anwyn shook her head to clear it, "Just gimme a sec, my head hurts" she tried to keep up on her own, but she gripped her shoulder quickly, "and my shoulder"
"It looks like the bullet went through, as long as we keep it clean, it'll be fine" Lee reassured her, "Why don't you and Clem rest here for a bit while we try to find a way out"
Clementine helped Anwyn drag herself to one side so she could lean against a wall.
"They tried to make us eat Mark" Clementine muttered, "And you.."
"And I actually ate it" she shivered, "I thought something was off. It tasted like pork, and there ain't exactly much in the way of pigs here. But I took some more to figure it out, like a fucking idiot"
"I'm scared" Clementine muttered.
"Did Andy hurt you?" Lee asked her.
Clementine shook her head, "No, I think Annie hurt him way worse"
Anwyn smirked, "I dunno, he did shoot me. And he's still got my knife"
"We'll get it back, Annie. I promise"
Anwyn watched Lee as he searched the place for a way out. He looked at the air conditioning unit that was screwed into the wall.
"I'll break the damn door down!" Larry shouted, which made Anwyn's headache even worse.
"Dad! You can't get-" Lilly started, but Larry turned around, groaning and clutching his chest. He collapsed to the ground.
"DAD!" Lilly shouted, rushing to his side, "No! Dad, come on! DAD! Oh, god, he's stopped breathing. I think he's had a heart attack!" she started doing chest compressions.
"Shit! Is he dead?" Kenny asked.
"He's not dead. Somebody help me!"
"Fuuuuuuuuck...if he's dead..."
"HE'S NOT DEAD!"
"You know what has to happen, Lee. Think about it. You saw that poor bastard at the motel. How fast he turned"
"What are you saying?"
"Lilly, I'm sorry. I truly, truly am. But in a few minutes, we're gonna be stuck in a locked room with a six-foot-four, three-hundred-pound, SERIOUSLY pissed-off dead guy!"
"FUCK YOU! We can bring him back! LEE!"
"We'll mourn him later. But right now, we have to keep him from comin' back"
"No!" Clementine turned away.
"Just look at me Clem. Cover your ears and focus on me" Anwyn said to her, putting Clementine's hands on her ears and making sure she was looking at her.
"Look, Kenny... Back at the drugstore when we all thought Duck was bitten... I gave him the benefit of the doubt... Maybe we should do the same now" Lee said to Kenny.
"That was different. Duck wasn't bitten. But, come on, we KNOW this guy's not gonna make it" Kenny retorted, "Remember what Ben said. Gotta destroy the brain..."
Lee looked between them, trying to weigh it up again, like he seemed to be doing a lot.
"You're right, Kenny. Let's get this over with" Lee said sorrowfully.
"You fucking monsters! Both of you!" Lilly shouted.
Clem squeaked. Anwyn pulled her closer, holding her tight and making sure she didn't see or hear what was about to happen.
"I'm sorry, Lilly. It's the only way"
"No, no, no. Get off me! Don't do this!"
Lee grabbed Lilly's shoulders and pulled her away. She struggled and lashed out.
"No...no, no, no! Let go of me!"
Lilly shoved Lee back and clung to Larry's body, but Lee grabbed her arm again. He pulled her back just as Kenny dropped a salt lick right on Larry's head. Blood went everywhere. It pooled on the floor and stained the walls. Anwyn gripped Clementine tighter.
"God help us" Kenny said, "I'm sorry, I know it-"
"Don't you fucking touch me!"
Lee knelt beside Anwyn, who was still holding Clementine.
"Clem..." he reached out for her, "You okay?"
"Why, Lee?! Lilly said he wasn't dead!" Clementine broke away from Anwyn and looked at him.
"I'm sorry. We couldn't take that chance. You understand why we had to do this, Clementine?"
"So he won't turn into one of those monsters?"
"Yeah, Clem" Anwyn whispered to her, "Lee didn't really have a choice"
"Annie's right" Lee muttered. Clementine hugged him, tears streaming down her face, "Shh... I know, I know. but you gotta be strong right now. I need you to be strong. Think about something else...something hopeful"
"Like what?" Anwyn crossed her arms, "nothing's hopeful anymore"
"Someplace safe, where no monsters can get you" Lee replied, "You're with your parents and each other, and you can just play and watch cartoons all day. Like it's a normal Saturday"
Anwyn fell silent. Most of her thoughts, when she was alone or at night, or just thinking too much, were so goddamn depressing. She really needed to think of something like that for a while.
"We're gonna get out, right? You found a way out?" Clementine asked Lee.
"I'm workin' on it" Lee reassured her before he stood up.
"C'mere Clem" Anwyn patted a spot next to her, "Just sit here and think about a safe place, like Lee said"
Clementine did just that. She leaned against Anwyn for reassurance, still sniffling a little. Anwyn put her arm around her.
"What was your favourite cartoon?" Anwyn muttered, "Like, if we were hanging out on a Saturday, what would you wanna watch?"
Clementine shrugged a little, "I liked.. Disco Broccoli"
"Fuck yeah! That shit was awesome"
"Swear. Twice" Clementine glanced at her, but at least she had stopped crying and looked a bit more at ease, "What about yours?"
"Adventure Time. That was my thing"
"I liked that show too. Marceline was my favourite"
"I bet everyone thought it'd be Princess Bubblegum"
"Yeah, but Marcy is really cool. I wish I could just fly away and not have to worry about finding food all the time"
"I wouldn't mind having her here to shape shift into a big bat monster and obliterate everything dangerous" Anwyn smirked, "But, a girl can dream"
"There oughta be an air duct behind this unit...maybe big enough for one of us to fit through..." Lee said, looking at the air conditioning unit again. Anwyn and Clementine looked up.
"I dunno, Lee...seems like a long shot" Kenny stood beside him. Clementine stood up and came over.
"Does the air conditioner come off?" she asked.
"I think I could take it off...if I had something to remove the screws... The multitool!" Lee quickly checked his pocket, but it was clearly empty "Of course they took it. Shit"
"Maybe there's something else we could us. I've got a rock" Clementine suggested, making Anwyn smirk.
"When were you picking up rocks?"
Clementine looked back at her and shrugged, "I was gonna show you and Duck but I got a bit distracted"
"A rock won't help...but a COIN might do the trick. Do you have a coin?" Lee asked them.
Clementine shook her head and Anwyn rustled around in one pocket.
"I have a 5p piece, but they're really small" she held it out. Lee took it and tried it on the screws beneath the unit, but he didn't have enough surface area to get a proper grip and put his strength into.
"Nah, it's too small. Thanks anyway Annie" he handed it back to her.
Lee looked around, thinking, until his gaze landed on Larry. He knelt beside Lilly. Anwyn knew this wouldn't end well, so she quickly ushered Clementine to come sit by her.
"This might get loud, so just stay here for a bit" Anwyn said.
Lee tried talking to her, but it really didn't go that well.
"In other words, my father's more useful to you dead than alive" Lilly's words were very cutting, and she put some tone behind them.
Lee calmed the situation enough to at least check Larry's pockets for coins. He seemed successful on his first try as he held out three coins of various sizes. Lee fitted one coin into a screw and used it to unscrew one half of the unit.
"You got it?" Kenny asked.
"Yeah. One more should do it" Lee replied as he started working on the other one. With the sound of it falling to the ground, Kenny and Lee pulled the unit off the wall, revealing a vent opening.
"Well, there's our way out, Lee" Kenny smiled, "Looks like it'll probably lead right into that back room..."
"It's too small for us to fit through"
"I can do it" Clementine approached them.
"No, I'm not that much bigger than Clem" Anwyn tried to pull herself up, but her head felt like it was swimming in syrup and she fell back down.
"You can't even stand Annie" Clementine shot back, "We need to get out of here now"
"You know you don't have to do this, right?" Lee knelt down beside them, "either of you"
"I know. I just wanna go home" Clementine replied, "Annie is hurt, she needs to get somewhere safe"
"This'll help us get back home to make sure she's okay" Kenny said.
Clementine nodded, "Okay"
Lee lifted her up gently to the opening. She slipped through the opening itself and got through to the wider vent on the other side. Before going on, she looked back.
"You're gonna be fine" Lee encouraged her.
"What do I do when I get out?"
"See if you can get to the other side of that door and open it"
"If there's anyone there, just keep yourself safe" Anwyn added, still trying to get up.
Clementine turned back forward, took a deep breath, and crawled through the vent. Everyone waited with baited breath as they listened to the subtle noises. Clementine's gasp made them freeze, tension strung amongst them all. Anwyn's heart was beating so quickly she thought even the douchebags at the house would hear it. The door swung open, Clementine stood on the other side.
"Are you okay?! Did anyone see you?" Lee asked quickly.
"No. But there's a man outside" she pointed through the slaughter room towards the barn's front door.
"Lilly. We gotta go"
"Leave me alone"
Anwyn tried to stand up again. Just as she was about to fall back, Clementine grabbed her hand and helped her stand. She let Anwyn lean on her a little, enough so she wouldn't fall whenever she lost her balance.
"I am super dizzy" Anwyn muttered, "And I think I'm gonna throw up"
"I think that's bad"
"You two stay here" Lee said, "Clem, take care of Lilly and Annie, okay?"
Clementine nodded. She helped Anwyn ease herself onto one of the boxes to sit for a moment.
"I dunno if I'll be able to walk home like this. I feel like shit" Anwyn held her head in one hand.
"I'll carry you" Clementine sat next to her.
"Oh really? I'm bigger than you"
"I could totally do it!"
Anwyn chuckled a little, another stab of pain in her head made her stop. "Ow"
"Are you gonna be okay?"
"I should be fine. I think it might be a concussion, I'll just need to rest for a couple days"
Sounds of a struggle and a gunshot came from the barn, making the two of them fall silent.
"Help me up, let's get outta here" Anwyn said. Clementine helped her stand and let her hold her arm in case she lost her balance again. Carefully, they followed Lilly out of the meat locker. Lee was stood over Danny, who had been caught in a red bear trap and was lying beside a pile of hay. Lee held a pitchfork at him, looking like he was about to kill him.
"You ain't gonna kill me, just like you didn't kill Jolene... You don't have what it takes! Fucking coward" Danny goaded him. Lee's face showed nothing but fury, Anwyn really thought he was going to kill him. He raised the pitchfork up and threw it with a lot of strength down.
It landed in the hay.
"This is NOT how the world works now. You won't make me kill you!" he shouted back.
Lilly looked down at Danny and back at Lee with a glare.
"Fuck you, Lee. You and Kenny MURDER my dad, but you leave THIS piece of shit alive?! You're a fucking asshole"
Clementine looked between them. Shouts from the house broke them out of it.
"That's Katjaa!" Lee glanced at the house, "Lilly, please, keep them safe!" he ran outside the barn. Anwyn glanced at Lilly as she picked up the rifle. This probably wasn't going to end well.
Now they were closer to the outside, Anwyn noticed a storm had blown in.
"At least the storm will help us escape easier" Anwyn said as Clementine helped her sit on a bale of hay by the door.
"The Walkers won't hear us as well, will they?" Clementine asked, not looking away from the open barn door.
"They shouldn't, right Lilly?" Anwyn glanced at her. Lilly didn't reply for a second, but she looked over at them at last.
"Yeah, the noise from the storm will be too loud" she replied, "don't worry"
They all waited, tense and cold and hurt, hoping that everything would be okay. Screams came from the house, half drowned out by the storm, but not enough for them not to hear.
"Was that Katjaa?" Clementine muttered.
"Hard to tell" Anwyn replied, focusing on the front of the house to see who leaves it. Andy appeared from the back, holding a rifle to Duck with Kenny shouting at him some distance away. Lee and Katjaa appeared from the house.
Everyone was shouting at each other, screaming over the storm. Kenny ran for Duck, but a gunshot sounded from the rifle and he fell to one side.
"Fuck!" Anwyn stared in disbelief, but Kenny struggled back up. He was alive at least.
"Who the fuck do you people think you are? Look at what you've done!" Anwyn heard Andy shout, loud enough to reach the barn, even with the storm.
"You brought this on yourself" Lee retorted, slowly edging closer.
"No! Uh-uh! YOU did this! All we wanted was a little gas to keep ourselves safe!"
Another gunshot rang through the place. Andy was clutching his left ear, lowering his rifle. Duck escaped his grasp and ran for his parents. Lee took the opportunity to charge at Andy, grabbing the rifle. They both grappled with it until Lee got a better hold and smacked the butt of it into Andy's face. Andy lost his footing and fell down the hill, dragging Lee with him. They both smashed through the awful picket fence and collapsed on the ground. Andy got up as quick as he could and kicked Lee in the head, forcing him back down. He switched on the generator in the spare few moments he had and went to grab Lee by his neck. Lee struggled as he was dragged towards the electric fence, pulling out Anwyn's knife, which he must have retrieved from the house for her, and tried to stab at Andy's hand. Andy grabbed his arms and forced them behind his back. He tried to shove Lee into the fence, face first. Lee struggled, keeping himself off long enough to notice the girls in the barn.
"Lilly!" Lee shouted. She did fuck all.
"Lilly, please!" Anwyn stared at her, "do something!"
Lee broke free, elbowing Andy in the face and knocking him to the ground. He punched him right in the face, keeping him down. He sat over him, and just kept punching him. Clementine helped Anwyn stand so they could follow Lilly as they rejoined the rest of the group.
Lee got up, panting heavily, and picked up Anwyn's knife.
"Is that all you got, Lee?" Andy stuttered, trying to get up, but failing "You ain't shit!"
"It's over!" Lee shouted.
"Fuck you. As soon as Dan and Mama get out here, you--you're all fucked!" Andy tried to get up again, but still couldn't do it.
"They're not coming"
Andy suddenly didn't look so confident, "What do you mean? Lee, what the fuck do you mean?"
Lee shook his head and turned back to the group, walking away.
"Don't you DARE walk away from me, Lee!" Andy roared, "Get back here and finish this, Lee!"
Lee ignored him and walked back to the group. He handed Anwyn her knife back, which she slid back into it's sheath.
"Get back here and fight me like a man, Lee! Lee!" Andy shouted again, his voice becoming quieter as he simply couldn't keep it up.
The whirring noise that came from the generator puttered out, smoke or steam rising from it as it finally died.
"They're getting in!" Clementine used her free hand to point at a group of Meirw that were approaching from the tree line. They easily broke through the bare barb fence and pushed it over, spilling into the grounds.
"Let's get outta here" Lee led the way through the main gate. Clementine helped Anwyn move as quick as she could to keep up with the others. Anwyn tried to ignore Andy still shouting for Lee and focus on moving forward.
Once they were safely off the farm, Anwyn felt herself begin to severely lag behind, even with Clementine trying to help.
"C'mon Annie, we're almost there" Clementine said, trying to pull her on.
"Yeah, yeah" Anwyn replied, unable to think of anything else.
Lee lagged behind when he noticed the girls coming to a stop.
"You two okay?" he asked.
"I can't keep going" Anwyn replied, out of breath.
Lee knelt down and turned away from them, "I'll carry you. Help her up Clem"
Clementine helped Anwyn put her arms around Lee's shoulders while he supported her legs with his arms as he stood up. Anwyn rested her head on his left shoulder, trying to stay awake. She was completely exhausted. As they walked on, Clementine stayed close.
"Lee? Are those bad people dead?" she asked.
"Yes. Walkers probably got 'em. They were very bad people and were punished for it"
"Good" Anwyn muttered, "I feel like shit"
"Will Annie be okay?" Clementine asked, a worried look on her face.
"Yeah, she should be fine, she's just tired. We can get Katjaa to take a look at her wound later to make sure it's okay"
"I'm pretty sure I have a concussion"
"We'll make sure you rest" Lee replied warmly.
"Hey, Dad, what's that noise?" Duck's voice came from the front of the group.
"Sounds like a car..." Kenny muttered, which Anwyn barely caught.
"Oh, god...not more strangers" Ben said.
The group kept quiet as they approached the origin of the sound, which turned out to be a station wagon.
"You stay there" Kenny told Lee, "I got this"
Kenny crept up on the car and checked it's seats. He took the keys out and waved for the others to come closer, signalling it was safe.
"It ain't got any gas, but check it out!" Kenny pointed to it's trunk as the group approached, "There's a shitload of food and supplies back here!"
"This food could save all of us" Katjaa muttered, staring at the boxes in awe.
"Not all of us" Lilly growled. Kenny sighed in contempt.
"Look, we don't know if these people are dead" Ben added.
"If they come back, then we're just monsters who came out of the woods and ruined their lives" Lilly continued, shifting her weight from one foot to the other and addressing everyone with her tone.
"This stuff isn't ours" Clementine said, glancing at Lee and Anwyn nervously.
"We're starving Clem, we need it or we'll die" Anwyn muttered.
"Dad, whose car is it?" Duck asked nervously.
"Don't worry about that, Duck, it's ours now"
"It's abandoned, Ducky, don't worry"
"What if it's not? What if it's not abandoned? What if it IS someone's?"
"Annie's right" Lee turned to Clementine, "We have to take this, Clementine. We need it to survive"
"Who said it's your decision to make?" Lilly challenged, her tone much more aggressive.
"Hey, we don't have time for this shit. Like it or not, we need this food" Kenny retorted, pulling out the key he got from the driver's seat and unlocking the trunk. Everyone came over, pitching in to carry a box.
"Don't worry Lee, you're carrying Annie, we got it" Kenny reassured him as he picked up another box.
"Thanks Kenny" Lee looked in anyway. Putting more of Anwyn's weight on one arm, he used the other to pick up a small red hoodie located next to one of the boxes that hadn't been taken yet.
"This hoodie looks to be about your size, Clem. Why don't you hold onto this, it might get cold" Lee held it out to her.
"It's not mine" she protested, refusing to take it.
"Well, think of it like you're holding onto it. You can give it back if we ever meet up with them. Okay?" Lee convinced her. She paused, looking at the hoodie before she nodded and took it.
As the rest of the supplies were divided up for everyone to carry, Clementine stood to one side with her arms crossed.
"Hey. There were some batteries in one of those boxes. I thought they might work in your camcorder" Carley held up a set of batteries. She handed a few over to Clementine as well, "Here, you can have some too...for your walkie-talkie"
"Batteries, huh? Think you can handle those?" Lee smirked.
"You're not gonna let me live that down, are you?" Carley shot back as she turned the camcorder on, "Oh, god. Lee. You're gonna wanna see this..."
Lee glanced at the camcorder before quickly turning away and setting Anwyn next to Clementine, "Just wait there, you don't need to see this" he looked back to watch the footage.
"I ain't a kid" Anwyn tried to protest, but it was ignored, "Pff, whatever"
"At least I have a working walkie-talkie now" Clementine smiled, holding it up, "I'll be able to talk to my parents now"
Anwyn hesitated, "Uh.. Clem.. Y'know the likelihood they're alive is... not that great"
"I know they're alive! I just know it!" Clementine retorted, "I'll find them one day"
Anwyn just looked away.
"I hope my dad is still alive"
"Maybe he is" Clementine reassured her, "maybe the UK is doing better than us"
"I doubt that, but he was in the air force, and he did have enough of a collection of equipment for someone to think he was a prepper" Anwyn smirked, "I hope he's okay"
"C'mon girls" Lee interrupted them, "Let's get back home"
Clementine helped Anwyn onto Lee's back like before, and they caught up to the rest of the group. Together, the group disappeared amongst the trees, back to the Motor Inn.
Chapter 6: Crime and Punishment
Anwyn had been feeling so much better as of late. Her shoulder was healing up very well, and her concussion had only lasted a couple days. In all honesty, she thought the scar she would get from the gunshot would be really cool and a fun story to tell other people.
Clementine had gotten her radio working properly a couple days after she got the new batteries, much to her delight. It hadn't been long after that, she'd become a bit more distant. Every so often, Clementine would disappear back into their room for ages, and if Anwyn went to talk to her, she'd go somewhere else or try to get rid of her. Anwyn had no idea why she was doing that. The only times she would get a chance to talk to her for longer than a few minutes was after a raid from the bandits, who had weirdly eased off about a week prior.
One morning, while Lee and Kenny had gone on a supply run (which they had refused to let Anwyn be a part of because of her still-healing wounds), Anwyn and Clementine were sat around a wooden pallet, doodling on paper in silence. Ben was on watch, sat on top of the RV, and everyone else was littered about the place, the lot of them looking rather depressed. The raids and awfulness of the dairy had everyone in bad spirits.
"So uh.." Anwyn broke the silence, "you sleep okay? I heard you muttering, and it sounded like you were having nightmares again"
"And you don't have nightmares?"
Anwyn shrugged, "Yeah, of course, but, I mean, it seemed to stop for a while"
"No, I was just staying up later than you" Clementine smirked, "I got to hear you sleep-talking"
"Fuck, what did I say?"
"Swear" Clementine retorted, as she always did, "You.. mostly just talk about someone named Ash and Cerri"
Anwyn looked back down at her shitty drawings, "They were my cousins. Cerridwen was about your age, but she.." Anwyn trailed off, "it doesn't matter. Best not to think about it"
Anwyn thought she heard static for a second, but Clementine started coughing.
"You alright?" Anwyn put down her pencil and reached out one hand. Clementine waved it away.
"I'm fine, I'm fine" she stood up, "I just need some space" she ran towards the metal stairs that led to the second floor.
Anwyn didn't follow her.
The sound of the gates being pushed open made her look back towards the entrance. Lee and Kenny had finally come back. Clementine ran over to Lee to greet him and returned over to Anwyn when he had to go drop off the stuff he'd gotten.
"It's not just me, but Lilly doesn't seem very.. stable, right?" Anwyn muttered to Clementine, watching as Lee knocked on Lilly's door with Kenny.
"She's still upset about her dad"
"Not that. She's not just sad, it's like" Anwyn searched for the right words, "Like she can't think properly anymore"
Clementine looked over at the group stood by Lilly's door, arguing.
"IT'S NOT GOING TO BE EASIER OUT ON THE ROAD!" Lilly's shouting rang across the entire motel.
"I'm worried about her" Anwyn continued, "people with nothing to lose do bad things"
"WHAT I KNOW? I know you're not above murder! I know somebody has been STEALING our supplies--that's right, STEALING--and I know the list of people I can trust here gets SMALLER EVERY DAY! Now everybody GET OUT" Lilly's shouts interrupted them.
"See what I mean? She's getting paranoid"
They fell back to silence, doodling pictures again. Lee was the only one actually walking around, clearly having things to do, but after a while, Anwyn noticed Duck was skulking around too. It really confused her as to what the hell either of them was doing until Lee finally came over to talk to them.
"Hey girls" he smiled, kneeling down to their level.
"Hey Lee" they both greeted.
"Now neither of you are in trouble, but did one of you accidentally break a flashlight?"
"Of course not! Did Duck say we did?" Anwyn exclaimed.
"No. Did Duck break the flashlight?"
"I don't think so. He's just always blaming us for stuff" Clementine added.
"Putting a bug on his pillow"
"Did you do that?" Lee tried to be stern, but he couldn't stop a smirk slipping through.
"...Yes" she grinned. Lee glanced back at Anwyn, who was hiding a smile
"Hey, don't look at me" she said, "Clem came up with that one"
"Do you two have any pink chalk?" Lee asked, changing the subject.
"No. It's gone somewhere" Clementine shook her head, "Do you want blue?"
"No, no. It's okay" Lee replied. He seemed to be searching for the right words.
"Everything alright?" Anwyn asked, leaning on the wooden pallet more.
"I need to talk to you two for a second about something important" he paused, searching. "The day Clem and I met, I was in a car accident" he started.
"I remember, your leg was bleeding" Clementine said.
"The car I was in was a police car and I was on my way to jail for committing a crime" Lee just explained, "I need to tell you now 'cause I don't want you to hear it any other way"
"Shit, what'd you do?" Anwyn asked, unable to keep the surprised look off her face.
"I uh.. I murdered someone"
"Did he deserve it?" Anwyn continued. In all honesty, she didn't think Lee was a bad person, and this guy he killed probably did, at least to Lee, but her priority was Clementine.
"Yes. He was a bad man. I don't think he deserved to die, now I look back, but it got out of hand" Lee explained gently, "I wouldn't ever kill someone I didn't have to now"
Anwyn nodded, "Okay. That's all I wanted to know" she shrugged, "I don't care. Do you, Clem?"
Clementine thought for a second, but shook her head, "Nuh-uh"
"Thanks" Lee smiled, "You can go on back to your things" he stood up and went off to do whatever he was doing.
"Well, that was.. unexpected" Anwyn said.
"I heard Carley talk about some of that to Lee when we were hiding at the drugstore, so I guess I already sorta knew" she shrugged, "but he didn't go out of his way to tell me or anything"
"My uncle got arrested once, on my dad's side" Anwyn smirked, "dad said he got caught with a joint in a squat back in high school"
"I think I understood some of those words"
Anwyn chuckled, "Right, yeah. I dunno which ones were just British slang or just 'mature topics'" she made air quotes, which made Clementine smile. "A joint is weed, y'know, marijuana. The drug"
"Yeah, I know what that is"
"Alright, alright. A squat is a house that a bunch of people who don't own the house live in. Most of the time they don't have permission either" Anwyn explained, "My dad and my uncle knew an abandoned place they used to mess around in. Guess I took after them"
"Did you do that?" Clementine had a half worried, half amused look on her face.
"Me and my friends knew a few abandoned places that we liked to explore. But no, we didn't smoke any weed" Anwyn smirked, "I doubt even drug dealers would sell ten year olds drugs"
"They might do"
"Probably some, but, like, really bad ones" Anwyn shrugged. She stretched her injured arm over her head, trying to keep it loose when it loved to feel sore. "Ah, fuck" she grimaced.
"I am gonna get you to stop fucking caring one of these days" Anwyn smirked, rotating her arm about as best she could. "Katjaa said my arm should be fine. Hopefully it'll get back to normal soon so I'm not totally useless"
"You're not useless!" Clementine protested, "You're my best friend!"
"Thanks Clem. But, if I'm your best friend, why are you always going off on your own and pretending to talk to your parents on your walkie?" Anwyn shot back, not angrily, "I get it's a comfort, but you do it all the time"
Clementine glanced away. She opened her mouth, about to speak, when she stopped dead. The look on her face changed to one of terror. Anwyn read it, and froze. The click of a gun from behind her made her slowly turn her head. A guy wearing a balaclava, along with a shit ton of other guys, were spilling silently over the walls and lining the others up. This one was pointing a pistol at Anwyn's head.
He flicked it towards where the others were being forced to kneel. "Move"
Anwyn stood up slowly. Clementine ran to her, hiding behind her and gripping her right arm. Anwyn felt for her knife.
"I see that shit you're doin'" the bandit pushed the gun closer, "Fuckin' touch it, and I won't fuckin' hesitate"
"Alright, yeah" Anwyn put her hands up in a surrender. She slowly led herself and Clementine to the line up and knelt down with her hands behind her head.
"A-Annie" Clementine stuttered, a look of terror on her face.
"It'll be okay Clem, just-"
"Shut up!" the bandit hit the back of her head with the butt of the gun, almost knocking her to the floor, but she steadied herself.
What looked to be the leader of this group came forward, his own gun raised, "YOU DON'T FUCKIN' STEAL FROM US!" he shouted, waving the gun around. "Y'ALL BETTER GET YOUR ASSES OUT HERE! WE AIN'T FUCKIN' AROUND!"
No one came out of the rooms. Anwyn knew Lee and Lilly were still inside, and she prayed to the gods that they were working on getting the rest of them out.
"YOU MADE THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF YOUR LIVES!" the bandit leader continued. Still, no one appeared. "Enough of this bullshit! Drew, start putting your boot to these doors"
Lee opened the door to one of the rooms and came out with his hands raised in a surrender.
"Hold it, assholes!" the leader aimed his gun at Lee.
"Take it easy..." Lee tried to calm the situation, "We have more supplies. We can keep the deal going"
"Too late, shithead! We ain't giving second chances!" the leader shouted back, not lowering the gun.
"It was a mix-up! We'll make it worth your while" Lee came a little closer, slowly of course.
"I'm listenin'" the leader slowly lowered the gun a little, allowing to Lee to come a bit closer again.
"We can split the supplies. Spread them around!" Lee tried to bargain, coming another inch closer.
"Or we could just kill you and take it ALL" the leader aimed the gun back at Lee.
"And what about when they run out? When you don't have us out there collecting them for you?"
"Well...I suppose we oughta hash out some terms, then!"
"I don't like no hash!" some other bandit shouted over him.
"MAN, SHUT UP OR I'LL-" the leader never finished his threat. A gunshot made everyone freeze in shock, and the leader's body fell to the ground with a bloody hole in his forehead.
It was a panic. The group made a run for cover as Carley, Lilly, and Lee started shooting at the bandits. Anwyn shoved Clementine behind the cover of a overturned table as the bullets started flying. Katjaa and Duck were beside them.
Carley ran out of ammo and was forced to take cover. Lee pulled out a pistol and started shooting so she could get out of there. Kenny suddenly stormed through one of the motel rooms with a rifle and ran to the RV.
"We gotta get out of here!" he shouted, tossing the rifle to Lee before getting in the RV and trying to get it started.
Lee shot at the bandits on the other side of the RV as they tried to push through the dumpster gates. They only got so far before Lee was able to shoot them, giving Ben and Carley enough time to make a dash for the RV.
"Lee!" Anwyn shouted, "Could use some help here!"
Lee ran to the other side of the RV, "Hang on!"
A bunch of bandits breached the walls, but one that was stood near the wall opening started screaming bloody murder as a Meirw tore out his throat. Lee shot at both the bandits and the intruding Meirw. Anwyn made a quick glance over the cover to see the last bandit get a bullet right to the face.
"Go Clem!" Anwyn grabbed her hand and sprinted for the RV.
"Girls! Get inside the RV! It's gonna be okay. Go!" Lee instructed.
"We've got it, cover Katjaa and Duck" Anwyn retorted, leading Clementine as quick as she could to the door of the RV. They got on and sat on the seat furthest away from the door, watching through the window.
The sounds of Katjaa screaming made them both tense as Kenny ran out the RV. Anwyn pulled out her knife and pushed Clementine behind her, so Anwyn was between her and the door. More gunshots mixed with sounds of Meirw encouraged her to grip the knife tighter.
"Lilly! Get in the RV!" Lee shouted.
Kenny shouted something to him, but amongst all the carnage, Anwyn couldn't tell what he was saying. More gunshots sounded from the other side of the RV, most likely Carley, trying to give Lilly a chance to run for the RV.
Kenny helped Katjaa and Duck into the RV, closely followed by Carley.
"Lilly! Last chance! Get down here!" Lee shouted again, getting into the RV but staying by the door.
Kenny started up the RV, revving the engine. Lilly barreled through the door just as Kenny took off, crushing a few Meirw and destroying the fence. Anwyn sheathed her knife with a shaking hand.
"Y'alright Clem?" she relaxed on the seat next to her.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine"
Ben was holding his head in his hands, just saying "Oh, shit, oh, shit" over and over again. He looked up, "I'm sorry"
"Everything's fine, Ben" Carley tried to reassure him, but Lilly was stood over the both of them menacingly.
"Everything's not fine. We need to figure out how this happened" she shouted, "We just lost everything"
"Well, we're lucky as shit to have this RV!" Kenny called from the front.
"And nobody died" Carley added.
"Kat's head is split open!"
"Somebody in here caused this" Lilly looked around at the group, glaring practically.
"Settle down back there; the bandits have had our number for weeks!" Kenny tried to calm it as best he could from the driver's seat.
"This is different. Somebody was working with them. Whoever it was was slipping them our meds. They didn't get their last package, so they attacked" Lilly explained. Anwyn looked around the group, a sneaking feeling of betrayal inside her. Maybe she'd come to trust these people too easily.
"Calm down back there! That's nuts!"
"Lee found a bag of supplies hidden outside the wall!"
"It's true" Lee said, a look of sadness on his face. Anwyn guessed perhaps he had similar feelings to her about this.
"So, Carley, is there something you wanna say?" Lilly accused, her voice becoming more terrifying as it went quieter.
"Please" Carley retorted with an eye roll.
"We have to get it out of you, then?"
"You're in no position to make demands"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, you're just pointing fingers"
"I didn't just come up with this, I've had my suspicions"
"Probably not the best time, Lilly!" Kenny shouted from the front again.
"If not now, when? Look at what just happened!"
"Carley's trustworthy. She's not a traitor, Lilly" Lee interrupted, trying to calm things down.
"Why Carley?" Anwyn spoke up from the back, "Why not anyone else?"
"She's always SO eager to see what supplies we found" Lilly glanced back at Anwyn and Clementine, "She never talks about her family. She could be related to those bastards, for all we know"
"Whoa, my family's not a bunch of meth-riddled forest people. They're fucking Lutheran!" Carley protested.
"Like, look, maybe we should, uh, vote or something like that" Ben tried his hand at calming things down, but it very clearly did not work.
"Just, look, Carley's a stand-up gal and maybe this was all just a mistake"
"We need to look at the facts. Let's calm down, we'll eat and we'll deal with it" Carley added.
"Yeah, let's do that" Ben nodded.
"Lilly, stop waving the finger at everybody. We know something's going on and we can get to the bottom of it if we keep our heads" Lee turned to Lilly.
"I know what we found"
"I know, Lilly. I know"
"Nobody was stealing ANYTHING!" Ben protested, his voice getting louder.
"Was it both of you?" Lilly got in his face.
"I've seen you two together. Was it both of you?!"
"Look, just let me out. I didn't do it, but I don't like this; I don't like where it's headed"
"Look me in the eyes and tell me you didn't have anything to do with it"
"Lilly, lay off of him" Carley intervened.
Ben started to speak, but the RV threw them all off balance as it ran right into a Meirw that got stuck underneath.
"Shit!" Kenny swore, pulling the RV to one side of the road.
"What's going on up there?" Lilly asked, annoyance clear on her face.
"I hit something, we gotta stop!" he replied, bringing the RV to a stop.
"Alright, well, we can deal with this now, then" Lilly bent over to get right to Ben and Carley's eyeline, "Everybody out"
Everyone got out the RV, standing just by the door in the dirt. Anwyn stood in the doorway, Clementine slightly behind her, holding onto her right arm for comfort.
Lilly appeared from checking out the front of the RV, "You know what, we shouldn't just kick you out, we should hear what everybody thinks" she glared at Carley and Ben.
"I think you should chill out" Ben said.
"I think you should stop pointing fucking fingers" Anwyn added, crossing her arms.
"And you're a fucking kid Annie" Lilly retorted, "You don't get to weigh in here"
"Fuck you Lilly"
"I'm not gonna take this. You can push Ben around but you can't push me around" Carley shouted.
"I'm really sorry you feel that way. I'm starting to think maybe it was both of you" Lilly retorted, her tone getting more and more aggressive.
"No!" Ben protested.
"Gah, this dumb-fuck walker!" Kenny exclaimed from the front, struggling to yank it out.
"You okay over there?" Lee asked.
"Yeah, yeah...son of a bitch"
"Ben, you have no other options here" Lilly shouted.
"Leave him alone" Carley tried getting in between them.
"You can tell me it was Carley and then everything will be right as rain" Lilly turned on her, "Don't you think so, Kenny?"
"There's no way it was Carley" Lee retorted, "It was somebody else. It could've even been someone sneaking into our camp"
"That's ridiculous. That's what you think?"
"Okay, fine, then. Kenny?"
"I don't know! Fuck! Just stop, would ya?!"
"Well, your vote counts for you and Katjaa"
"We don't need all these VOTES!" Ben suddenly shouted, panic written all over his face and voice "What do I have to do for you to TRUST me? I'll do ANYTHING! I'll--I'll do watches for months!"
"Ha, the HELL you will"
"I'll get more food, more medicine, anything, just-"
"Stop panicking. Seriously, Ben, you need to stop and just take a breath" Lee intervened.
"Do we need any more evidence than this?!" Lilly's voice broke into a shout.
"Fuck EVIDENCE! Stop treating him like this!" Carley shouted back.
"Shut up, Carley--ugh, I've heard enough out of you!" Lilly retorted before turning back to Kenny at the front, "Kenny! What's it gonna be?"
"Just gimme a damn minute!"
"Ben, you have until that walker is dealt with to tell me it was her and not you" Lilly's voice went back to be quiet and collected, which honestly made her seem more threatening than when she was shouting.
"Stop this. You're torturing him!" Carley said. All the shouting was making Anwyn's head spin.
"This is about trust, and I've never trusted you!"
"Lilly, lay off" Lee's voice was the calmest, making everyone chill out for a moment. Of course, Lilly ruined it.
"I can't, Lee. You know I can't!"
"Thank you, Lee. Please, listen to him" Carley tried to reason with her.
"Please don't kick me out of the group!"
"Tell me! Now!"
"THERE, I got 'im" Kenny exclaimed from the front as he yanked out the rotting body.
"Please, let's just get back in the RV" Ben pleaded.
"That's not happening" Lilly growled back.
"And you're the one to say so, huh?" Anwyn shouted, "You ain't our boss!"
"You think you're some tough bitch, don't you? Like nothing can hurt you, but you're just a scared little girl. Get the fuck over it. Take a page from Lee's book and try helping somebody for once" Carley ranted, keeping calm through the whole thing. Lilly looked more and more pissed off the longer it went on, making a shiver of fear run up Anwyn's spine. That was a look of 'I have nothing to lose. And I want to kill you'.
The sound of Kenny crushing the Meirw's head with his boot made everyone look over.
"Now, what the fuck's the problem?"
A gunshot startled them all. Lilly had shot Carley. Right in the head. She dropped to the floor, a look of surprise on her face. Lee grabbed Lilly by the wrist and slammed her against the side of the RV. Anwyn shoved Clementine back inside, away from Lilly.
"DROP IT!" Lee shouted. From the sound outside, Lilly had done so. Anwyn cautiously peeked around the corner to see what was going on.
"We're leaving this crazy bitch!" Kenny said, glaring at Lilly.
"She couldn't be trusted, Lee. I swear. Please"
Anwyn felt something for her. She didn't really know what to make of it at first, but it was pity. Lilly suddenly looked like all those sleepless nights, all those hard decisions, all the loss, had finally caught up to her. For once, she didn't know what to think.
"You're not coming with us" Lee said, very matter-of-fact.
"I'll die out here"
"I don't care"
"You're a murderer, Lilly. We can't have you with us" Kenny piped up.
"I'm a murderer?! You've had Lee with you this whole time!" Lilly's voice rose, starting to point at Lee.
"I don't care what he did before"
"Yeah, he told me. I don't give a shit. If we keep you with us, how long until you get ME?"
"Hey! That's unfair Kenny!" Anwyn said from the doorway.
"Go back inside, girls" Kenny replied, "you shouldn't be the ones making decisions like these yet"
"I was trying to protect all of us. I don't have anything left" Lilly muttered.
"Get in, Lee. Let's go, you guys" Kenny hopped on the RV, closely followed by Lee.
Anwyn went to sit down next to Clementine opposite the door, but as they drove off, she glanced out the back window. Lilly watched the RV drive away, getting smaller and smaller in the distance, until she ran off into the woods and disappeared. It crossed Anwyn's mind if she would ever see Lilly again. She doubted it, but it was a rather disturbing thought all the same.
Chapter 7: The Best Way to Travel
Anwyn sat close to Clementine. The RV was deathly silent. The raid, the fight, and Carley's death had exhausted everyone, completely for a while. Lee stood in the centre of the RV, not talking. Anwyn thought he was just processing everything. Anwyn wasn't exactly an expert on social situations, the opposite in fact, she hadn't been too good at it before, and after everything that happened, she was ten times worse, but even she could see Carley and Lee had something. And before that something could become something special, Carley was gone.
"Lee, a word, please?" Katjaa broke the silence.
Lee slowly approached the front of the RV.
Clementine stared at the door opposite, "Why did Lilly do that?" she muttered, glancing at Anwyn.
"I did say" Anwyn replied, "she was becoming unstable. She just lost too much"
Clementine fell silent, "I hope I never become like that"
"Me too" Anwyn muttered, "As long as you and Lee don't die, I think I'll be fine"
Lee came back from the front of the RV. Anwyn shifted away from Clementine so Lee could sit between them. Both of them leaned against his shoulders for comfort and he put his arms around them, like one would their kids.
"Duck is bitten" Lee muttered, "He got bit by a walker trying to escape the motel"
Anwyn glanced at the front of the RV. Of all people to be bitten, of course it had to be Duck. She suddenly had an intrusive feeling of guilt. She and Clementine had been really mean to Duck sometimes, usually because of Anwyn's dumb ideas.
"I don't feel good" Clementine said, "What about Carley?"
"Gone. But won't come back"
"At least it was quick" Anwyn added, "Even if it was completely pointless"
"That's right. It's horrible"
"I'm sorry Lee" Anwyn muttered, "I could tell you liked her"
"It's not your fault, sweet pea" Lee looked at her, "Don't even think you have to apologise"
The RV remained quiet for what felt like forever to Anwyn as the news really sunk in.
"I miss my parents" Lee said, very quietly.
"Me too" Anwyn muttered.
"But you don't know if your dad is actually dead" Clementine leaned forward a little to look at her.
"Doesn't mean I don't miss him" Anwyn retorted, "it makes it worse, because I still have that stupid hope he's alive and coming to find me"
"Yeah, me too" Clementine said.
"Y'know, my mom played the tuba" Lee intervened, "She was a really small lady. It was strange"
Anwyn smirked, "Must've been a sight to behold"
"Yeah, it kinda was" Lee chuckled, "This one time my brother thought it would be funny to fill her tuba full of flour on April Fool's Day. And that same day, she thought it'd be funny to wake me up for school by playing it right in my face"
"What happened?" Clementine looked up.
"Just about what you'd expect"
Both Clementine and Anwyn started chuckling, "That's funny"
"Wish I coulda seen it"
"Yeah. I don't know why I remembered that" Lee shook his head.
The RV fell silent again. Ben seemed to have nodded off in the back, and Anwyn was completely exhausted. She let her eyes droop and let the steady rock of the RV on the road lull her to sleep. The reassuring sense of Lee's arm around her, like her father whenever her mother was at work and he let her stay up and watch movies, helped her relax and finally drift off into an uneasy slumber.
Lee jumped awake, yanking Anwyn out of a strange dream about walking on a tightrope over a bottomless pit.
"Huh? What's going on?" she grumbled, rubbing the sleep from one eye.
"Sorry, sorry" Lee muttered, blinking heavily as he was coming back to grip with reality, "bad dream"
"We got something up ahead" Kenny said from the front.
Lee carefully stood up so to not wake up Clementine. Anwyn shifted over so Clementine could continue to sleep on her shoulder in place of Lee's as he went up front. The RV came to a bit of sudden stop, waking Clementine up.
"What's going on?" she yawned, glancing around in slight confusion.
"Something's blocked the road" Anwyn replied, getting up and stretching.
Lee, Kenny and Ben got out the RV, getting closer to inspect what was going on. Anwyn helped Clementine collect the few things they had on their person and throw them in their spare backpacks hidden in the cupboard. It only took a couple seconds before Anwyn carefully led the way out of the RV and into the street.
She stared at what was blocking the road. It was some freight train. The third car had had something collapse on it, completely jamming it in place. It looked utterly abandoned. A couple of logs sat nearby, perfect place for them to wait while Lee, Kenny, and Ben tried to get the train working. Well, Lee and Kenny at least.
Katjaa came out carrying Duck and went to sit on one of the logs. Anwyn quickly caught up to Clementine, who had gone to Lee's side.
"Why don't you and I go look around?" Ben said to Lee.
"Yeah, everyone else relax. Girls, stay close to Kenny and Kat, okay?" Lee turned to Clementine and Anwyn. They nodded and went to sit on one of the logs.
"Lee, if you come across anything to drink, if there's a dining car or something, I think Duck's a bit dehydrated" Katjaa said.
"It's a freighter, hon" Kenny muttered, a very grim look on his face "Be careful in there"
"What, you think there might be something dangerous inside of an abandoned locomotive?" Lee replied sarcastically "Hadn't crossed my mind"
Clementine and Anwyn set their backpacks beside the log and sat down next to each other.
"When's your birthday?" Clementine asked, right out of the blue.
"Huh? My birthday?" Anwyn glanced at her, "What makes you ask?"
"I dunno" she shrugged, "just started thinking of dumb stuff from before, I guess"
"Oh" Anwyn turned back around to keep watch on the forest. "16th of July. Don't mean much unless we keep track of the dates, but that's it"
"We can always try to do something in the Summer?"
"I'm not fussed" Anwyn shrugged, "When's yours?"
"Not for ages"
Anwyn had a sneaking suspicion that it was either coming up or had just been. It was weird she asked it out of nowhere and weirder she didn't specify. But Anwyn didn't press the subject. If Clementine didn't want to tell her, then she wouldn't force her to. Lee appeared from the train and approached Katjaa. He handed her a small packet of animal crackers and a bottle with some water in it.
"Here, I found something for Duck" he said.
"Thank you, that's very thoughtful" Katjaa took them with one hand, "He's allergic to bees" she added.
"Is that right?"
"It's all I can keep thinking about. Like somehow that matters"
"I know. Well, I don't. But you're probably right" Katjaa shook her head. The look she gave Duck made Anwyn feel even worse about how mean she had been to Duck in the last couple months.
"Hey, sweet peas. You okay out here?" Lee knelt beside Clementine and Anwyn.
"I don't think Duck feels good" Clementine replied, glancing at Duck.
"Me, neither" Lee shook his head, "I'm gonna go see if we can get the train to run"
"Can I help?" Anwyn stood up.
"Nah, you just chill here with Clem for a bit"
"Oh" Anwyn sat back down, "okay"
As Lee went back to check out the train, Anwyn rummaged in her backpack for something interesting. The only thing she could really find was a spare piece of paper and a pencil.
"Wanna play tic-tac-toe?" she asked as she drew out a small grid. Clementine nodded as she swung around to face her. As they started on their fifth game, the train made a hissing noise. Kenny immediately got up and jogged over to the cabin. After Ben had thrown some old body to one side, he went and sat beside the logs.
"They kick you off?" Anwyn asked.
"What? No. Lee and Kenny are working on the train, and I'm not gonna be any help" he shrugged.
Anwyn and Clementine went back to their game, trying to keep the boards small and close so they could play as many as they could. After Anwyn's third win in a row, Lee came back over and knelt beside them.
"There's a notepad on the train. Do you mind if I borrow your pencil for a second?" he asked.
Anwyn tossed it, making him have to fumble a little to catch it, "Go nuts, but please give it back. That's my last one"
"Can we have the notepad after your done? We've run out of paper" Clementine added.
"Sure thing" Lee smiled as he got up.
Once the girls ran out of room on their paper, Anwyn went back to checking on the forest and shrubbery for threats. After a short while, the train whirred to life. Everyone watched as it tried to start, but got pulled back by the collapsed second car.
"Why isn't it moving?" Clementine asked nervously.
"They just need to take the link thing off the second car. The one that's got all the stuff on it" Anwyn pointed.
"You mean the coupling, sweetheart" Katjaa added with a little smile.
"Yeah. Yeah, that" Anwyn shrugged as she sat back down and kept watch on the tree line again.
The bushed made a rustling noise, different than the wind, making Anwyn tense. She put her hand on her knife, ready to draw it if it turned out to be Meirw. An old guy with greying hair and a thick jacket appeared from the bushes with his hands raised.
"Woah there kiddo" he said, "I don't mean to startle y'all, but it seems you're tryna take my home"
Anwyn stared at him, eyes narrowing. Katjaa, Clementine, and Ben all were very tense, ready to run if this guy turned out to be trouble.
"Relax y'all" the guy continued, "I ain't looking for trouble. Name's Chuck" he kept one hand raised as he reached for his bag and threw it to the ground, "got some food in there I think you kids might like"
Anwyn drew her knife as she came a bit closer, "Take a fucking step back" she growled as she reached for the bag. When she opened it, a few chocolate bars fell out.
"Go on, take 'em" Chuck shrugged, "you kids could probably use 'em more than me"
Anwyn looked him up and down once more. The only other thing he had on him was a guitar. She sheathed the knife and grabbed the chocolate bars, looking through the bag as she did so. With a small nod, she tossed the bag back.
"Anwyn" she said, handing a bar to Katjaa and Clementine. Just as she sat down, she remembered Ben was sat to one side. "Hey Ben. Heads up" she tossed one to him.
"Nice to meet you Anwyn" Chuck smiled, sitting down on the far side of the log.
"I'm Clementine" she waved, "that's Katjaa and Duck. And you must've heard Annie call him Ben"
"I'm guessing you want a ride if we get the train going?" Anwyn said as she unwrapped the chocolate.
"Well I would prefer to stay with my home" he shrugged, "and y'all seem like nice people"
"I thought I'd never get to eat candy again" Clementine said through a mouthful of chocolate.
"Jeez, slow down Clem" Anwyn half laughed, "savour it. For all we know it could be the last"
"I should go introduce myself to them two on my train" Chuck said standing up, "I really wanna scare the pants off 'em, but I don't think I can do it" he shrugged as walked towards the box car. Over his shoulder, Anwyn noticed Lee looking around the car. She shook her head and took a bite of the chocolate.
"Damn" she said, "didn't realise how much I missed this shit"
"Swear" Clementine replied, "it's really really good, isn't it?"
"Well my mother always said 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'"
Despite Anwyn's own warnings, she couldn't stop herself from devouring the chocolate bar within seconds. Chuck eventually appeared again, Lee close behind him. Clementine hopped up and went to say hi, Anwyn close behind her.
"You met Chuck!" Clementine smiled.
"Yeah...I did" Lee cast a glance over to him. He was clearly still weary about him, as was Anwyn, but he seemed like a friendly enough homeless dude.
"It's so nice to meet someone normal for a change" Katjaa added.
"He gave us candy. Ben, too!" Clementine said. Anwyn chuckled at the guilty look Ben had as he looked up from his snack.
"I'm done with the notepad, you girls have it" Lee handed Clementine the notepad and pencil. Her and Anwyn returned to the log and started another game.
Lee approached Chuck and started talking to him, but Anwyn quickly got bored listening.
"I'm totally gonna win this one" she said as she drew out the grid.
"You say that before every game"
"And I'm totally gonna win!"
Clementine rolled her eyes as they started playing. Anwyn tried to completely focus on the game, but she couldn't get her mind off of anything else. Duck, Carley, Lilly, Mark. Even her mother and cousins were plaguing her thoughts. Thankfully, Lee interrupted their game to talk to them, interrupting her thoughts as well.
"Hey, sweet peas. That candy Chuck gave you...it taste okay?"
"It was really good" Clementine smiled.
"No funny aftertaste?"
"Not that I could tell" Anwyn replied.
"The train's cool, huh?" Lee cast a glance over to the train.
"I guess. Scary, kind of" Clementine said, but Anwyn nodded wholeheartedly.
"I love it!" she grinned, "I wish we could use it to travel everywhere"
Kenny trotted over from the front of the train, "We don't got much left, so just gather whatever you have. Let's go"
Anwyn shoved the notepad and pencil back in her backpack and walked over to the train carriage, jumping up. Clementine had hung back for a second, but Kenny sent her to the carriage with a stern look. Anwyn held her hand to help Clementine up, but she ignored it, scrambling up herself instead. She awkwardly pulled her hand back and went to sit next to her, but looked over when Kenny shouted.
"It's TALKED THROUGH. Get on, Kat. I'll be up front. I don't want to hear any nonsense until we get where we're goin'" Kenny stormed off to the front of the train, followed by Lee. Katjaa carried Duck up the steps to the carriage and rested by the front door. She looked utterly defeated. Anwyn shook her head and went to sit beside Clementine, their legs hanging out the other open door of the carriage.
The train slowly stuttered into life.
Chapter 8: Just Because You're Young, Doesn't Mean You're Safe
The train rocked back and forth, lulling Anwyn into a fall sense of security that made her uncomfortable. Clementine stared at the trees as they flew past. Every so often, Anwyn shot a glance over at Duck. He was almost completely limp in Katjaa's arms and his skin was pale as death. It looked like he hadn't eaten at all in weeks. She was equal parts sad and slightly terrified. In all honesty, she didn't want to have to deal with him if he turned now.
Duck started coughing violently, blood staining his clothes and chin.
"LEE! Lee. I need you. Right now. I need you to go get Ken" Katjaa called out, a look of panic mixed with helpless crossing her face.
Lee went over to give her a hand, but from the look on both their faces told Anwyn enough, and Lee exiting the carriage to the front just confirmed it.
It was time to deal with Duck.
Anwyn pulled out her knife and looked at it. It had been used to end only three lives, and it had saved her own life countless times. Yet, she thought, if it came down to it, she probably wouldn't be able to do what Kenny and Katjaa would have to do now. She hadn't been able to before.
She turned to look at Clementine. She was under no illusion, the reason she had gotten so easily attached to her was the emotional void left by the death of her family, especially her young cousin, but she thought about if it had been Clementine instead of Duck. Anwyn shook her head silently. If it was Clementine, she definitely wouldn't be able to do it. God forbid something happened to Lee too, and Anwyn would probably just ditch the group. Those two were the only ones she really trusted.
The train slowed, the wheels screeching against the metal track. Anwyn had to put all her weight on her right hand and placed her other on Clementine's shoulder to keep her from falling off or into her.
Katjaa settled Duck down on the floor of the carriage before sliding to the ground and Kenny followed Lee along the side of the train to the carriage. Chuck and Ben had jumped out as well, but Anwyn and Clementine stayed on the carriage, keeping some distance between them and Duck. Duck himself was breathing heavily, eyes half shut and unable to move.
"Ken. It's...I think it's time" Katjaa said, her voice shaking and slow and quiet.
"The boy's been bit. In case you haven't figured that out" Kenny shot at Chuck, daring him to say something, but Chuck crossed him arms and averted his gaze. "What are we gonna do?" he muttered.
"We can't allow him to become one of those things" Katjaa said.
"But what if... What if he doesn't?" Kenny stuttered, looking between Duck and Katjaa.
"Kenny, I love you very much. I love our son more than life itself" Katjaa glanced at Duck for a second before turning back to Kenny "I need you to hear me. What you are saying, that he may not turn, is foolish"
"There's...come on, Kat..."
"If you think of one, let me know" Katjaa shook her head. Kenny looked completely lost for words.
"Isn't there some sort of pill, or something we can just give him-" he said desperately.
"Stop it" Katjaa turned away.
"He can just drift off to sleep, right, hon? I mean, Jesus, this is our son" Kenny's voice rose a little.
"I KNOW. But we know it's..." she gestured to her temple "here. Or nothing"
"Well...fuck...just...who, then? You want me to?"
"I'll do it" Lee said, making them both look at him.
"No. It should be a parent" Katjaa retorted.
"No parent should have to do something like this"
"Lee's right, Kat. We can say our goodbyes and...just let that be it"
"I don't know... Lee, you'd be doing this family a great service. Why don't we take him into the forest? So the girls don't have to see" Katjaa glanced at Anwyn and Clementine on the train. Anwyn kept her emotions hidden behind a mask, careful to only show a cold look. She crossed her arms and leaned against the side of the carriage, looking away.
"Give us a moment to say goodbye?" Katjaa continued, looking back at Lee.
Katjaa picked Duck up and quietly followed Kenny past the tree line. Clementine watched them go, but Anwyn looked over her shoulder at the trees opposite.
"What's happening?" Clementine asked quietly.
"I'm going to.. take care of Duck" Lee said. Anwyn felt sick, so she returned to where she had been sat, away from everyone else.
She tried to focus on the sound of the trees, but a gunshot interrupted her thoughts.
"What the hell-?" Lee shouted.
Anwyn jumped up and bolted over to the other side of the carriage, hand on her sheathed knife.
"Clementine, get on the train with Annie" Lee pointed as he started towards the trees, "Go! It'll be fine!"
Anwyn helped pull Clementine up and they watched the treeline from the carriage.
"I hope that never happens to me" Clementine muttered. Before Anwyn could say anything, Chuck spoke up from behind them.
"The way y'all are going, it will" he said.
Clementine looked sick, which made Anwyn extra pissed.
"Fuck off. I can survive, so will she" Anwyn growled, clearly putting a hand on her knife handle.
"Sure kid" he shrugged as he walked towards the front of the train.
"Don't listen to that asshat Clem" Anwyn said, "I won't let anything happen"
"What if it happens to you?"
"Then my ghost will protect you"
"I'm being serious" Clementine shot back.
"I know, I just don't wanna think about it" Anwyn shook her head. "If I get killed, then I won't worry about it anymore"
Another gun shot came from beyond the treeline, making them both wince.
"That's that" Anwyn muttered, "poor Duck"
Lee and Kenny appeared from the forest.
"Where's Katjaa?" Clementine said.
"I think that.. that first shot was.." Anwyn tried to say, but it words stuck like glue in her throat. She shook her head, "C'mon. Let's just sit back down"
They hung their legs off the side of the train as it started off again, both of the mindless watching the trees fly by. Clementine placed her walkie-talkie beside her, glancing between it and Anwyn for a second, like she wanted to say something, but instead just went back to watching the trees. Lee eventually sat between them.
"You two want to talk?" he asked.
Both the girls shook their heads.
"You understand what happened?"
"It ain't hard to understand" Anwyn said.
"Okay. What are you thinking about?"
"What Chuck said" Clementine muttered.
"What'd Chuck say?"
"That what happened to Duck would happen to me"
"The fuck he did" Lee spat, glancing towards the door at the front of the carriage.
"I said something similar" Anwyn rested her head on one hand, leaning on her thigh.
"I'm gonna go talk some sense into him" Lee stood up and made for the door.
"Do you think I'll end up like Duck?" Clementine asked.
"Like, on your own? Or in general?"
"You'd do better if we trained you up a little, I could teach you more about parkour and close up fighting, maybe Lee or someone could teach you how to use a gun. Shit, maybe they could teach me how to use a gun" Anwyn shrugged, "then I'd be way more confident in your odds for survival"
"I don't think my parents will be crazy about me having a gun"
Anwyn sighed, "Clementine, you can't seriously still believe that they're still alive"
"You don't think you're dad is still alive?" she shot back.
"Of course I hope it, but realistically, he isn't. And even if he is, I'll never see him again" Anwyn shook her head, "I'm just saying, be realistic. Don't go getting yourself killed over it"
Clementine fell silent. "I just miss my parents" she muttered.
"Me too Clem"
Lee came back and sat between them again.
"Hey sweet peas"
"Did you talk to him?" Clementine asked.
"I did, he had some, uh...he explained himself and made some good points. Look, we're not going to let anything bad happen to you. Either of you. But there are some precautions we have to take"
"Is one of them teaching us to use a certain kind of long range weapon that is very noisy?" Anwyn leaned back on her hands a little.
"It is actually. Why don't we start with that?" he stood up, as did the two girls. He pulled his pistol out from its holster and held it in his palm, "Just remember, it's just a thing"
"A dangerous thing" Anwyn commented.
"Don't be afraid of it, just know where your finger is and don't put it on the trigger unless you want to shoot, okay?"
Clementine nodded as she picked it up, "It's heavy"
"You'll get stronger. To aim, you look right down the top, through that notch. Line up the sight at the end with your target"
"Is there anything else I should know?"
"When you're ready to shoot, make sure you're not breathing too hard, and then hold your breath right when you pull the trigger"
"I think my dad said something similar" Anwyn nodded a little.
"He teach you to shoot?"
"Nah, we lived in the UK. Y'know, with gun control. But he was in the military and he liked his crossbows so he knew what to do with them and he taught me"
"Well, we'll see if it paid off once Clem's had a try"
Lee took an empty glass bottle and placed it on top of a wooden box towards the back of the carriage. He returned and stood behind Clementine to give her more guidance. She aimed the pistol with her arms stretched out.
"Good. Don't lock your elbows" Lee pushed her elbows down a little so they were more relaxed, "Okay, let's take the first shot. Squeeze the trigger smoothly. Nice and easy" he covered her ears, pushing his own head into his right shoulder to cover one of his own ears.
Clementine fired the gun with a squeal, completely missing the target.
"My hands hurt. I don't like this" she complained, crossing her arms.
"Let's stick with it, okay?"
"Do I have to?"
"Yeah, you do"
Clementine aimed the gun again, Lee covering her ears as she did so.
"Okay, aim a little bit more to the left" he nodded, "a little higher"
She took another shot, shattering the glass.
"I got it!"
Lee set up another bottle and covered Clementine's ears for her again as she aimed. She shattered it with her first shot.
"I did it!" Clementine smiled, "I was holding my breath and the gun didn't shake so much"
"See? You did good" Lee nodded, "I bet you're a better shot than Annie"
"Oh, trying to make this a competition?" Anwyn smirked, crossing her arms.
"They're not walkers, though" Clementine commented, glancing at the broken glass shards.
"No, far from it. But you know how these things work now. We'll graduate you to walkers one day" Lee turned back to Anwyn, "Your turn Annie" Lee took the pistol from Clementine and held it out to Anwyn. She carefully took it.
"It's just a thing, yeah" she nodded as Lee set up another glass bottle. Once he was safely behind her, she aimed.
"Do you want me to cover your ears?" Lee asked. Anwyn shook her head and aimed for the glass bottle. "Nice and steady. Slowly squeeze the trigger"
Anwyn kept her elbows relaxed, like Lee showed earlier, and tried to get the glass in the sight of the notch. She squeezed the trigger. The gunshot made her jump a little, making the shot miss completely.
"I feel like I'm more suited to a bow and knife" Anwyn muttered, glancing at Lee.
"Maybe, but it's still best to know how to use a gun" Lee said.
"It has way more kickback" she added as she looked back at the glass bottle.
Anwyn put the bottle in her sights again, but this time, putting more strength behind her grip to fight the recoil. This time, the glass shattered.
"Alright" she smiled, lowering the gun.
"Well done" Lee said, "You understand how to use it?"
Anwyn nodded as he took the gun from her, "it ain't rocket science"
"I bet I'll be a better shot than you" Clementine said as she sat back down.
"Oh, so you're getting in on the competition now?" Anwyn sat next to her.
"Well you're better at fighting and parkour and stuff, I'll be better at long distance stuff"
"You two will be a proper team, a force to be reckoned with" Lee smiled as he sat in between them. "So, you're probably not gonna like this, Clem"
"Oh, no, what happened?" her smile dropped immediately.
"Nothing. We have to talk about your hair. It's not safe"
"That's not nice" she scowled, which Anwyn found rather humorous.
"Are you saying it smells?"
"Because it does, kinda"
"No, not that" Lee shook his head, "Do you remember when Andy St. John grabbed it? And I got mad?"
"Yeah, and Annie got hurt"
"Ugh, don't remind me" Anwyn grimaced.
"Well, that could happen again. And if it's a walker, well... We need to trim it, like Annie's" Lee ruffled Anwyn's hair, which didn't go past the nape of her neck.
"Not as short though..."
"Hey, you saying my hair looks bad?" Anwyn shot back.
"You make it look good, but I'd look really bad"
"Nice save" Anwyn pulled her legs up to the train and crossed them.
"Mind if we do this now?" Lee intervened, holding out a pair of scissors.
"I guess not"
"Don't mope. It's a good thing" Lee got to his knees to shift behind her.
"This is gonna be priceless" Anwyn tried to hide her smirk, which was much harder after Clementine shot her a scowl.
"Do you know how to do this?" Clementine asked as he started snipping away the hair.
"How hard can it be?"
"People went to school for this" Anwyn commented, making Clementine's face fall more.
"I'm going to look like a boy" she muttered.
There was some silence as Lee cut her hair shorter.
"So you did kill someone, before" Clementine finally said.
"I'm glad you finally told us"
Anwyn nodded in agreement, "You've killed lots of things now; it doesn't even matter" she added.
"No, it's different" Lee shook his head.
"But you do it now to protect yourself--and to protect us" Clementine said, trying not to move her head too much.
"I was sent to jail"
"Did people ever go to jail when they shouldn't?"
"Of course" Anwyn answered.
After another short silence, Lee nodded, "Okay, I think I'm about done. I can probably tie these pieces back with something"
Clementine reached in her pocket and held its contents out to Lee, "Here, I have some hair thingies. Lilly gave them to me for sleeping"
Lee tied her hair back into two small tufts that would be much harder to get a grip on. "There. All set"
Clementine felt her head to see how her hair looked as best she could. Clearly, she didn't like it, her pout was the biggest one Anwyn had seen yet.
"Does it look dumb?" she asked.
"You look adorable" Anwyn smiled, pushing her shoulder a little.
"And a lot harder to grab" Lee patted her head to reassure her and held out her hat. She took it and pulled it on her head.
"I want to talk about Savannah" Lee continued as he shifted back between the girls.
"Yeah, me too" Clementine nodded.
"Annie, why don't you sit over here" Lee tapped the space behind him and Clementine as he unfolded something on the floor between them. Anwyn scooted around behind Lee to get a better look at what it was. It turned out to be a map of Savannah.
"I want to talk about what we're gonna do when we get there. We don't know what to expect--the city could be bad or totally under control. The thing is, us three, we're a team, you know? And a team needs a plan. Aside from everyone else, when this train stops, we should know exactly what we're doing" Lee explained as he looked down at the map.
"A plan sounds good" Anwyn nodded, pulling her legs to a crossed position again.
"We need to help find a boat. It's our best bet at safety" Lee pointed at the river.
"Okay, but we'll be IN Savannah and my parents were in Savannah"
"Not this again" Anwyn shook her head.
"Shut up Annie, I don't care about safety. I care about finding them" she retorted, giving her a glare.
"Where would we even look?" Lee tried to calm things down quickly.
"I can remember where they were staying. Maybe they didn't go far"
"Clementine.." Lee started.
Lee sighed, "Alright. Let's figure that out on the map, but a boat is the ultimate plan"
"Yes. They can come with us, right?"
"Of course" Lee nodded, "We're gonna want to look for a boat here, I imagine. And from there, we've got all of Savannah to the southwest of us" Lee pointed to the river again, then to the southwest area of the town.
"They always stay in the same place when they go there. It's, uh...hmm"
"Hey. Don't worry, we'll figure it out. Have you ever been there?"
"Well, think about it--there are a lot of hotels on here, but read this map and maybe it will jog your memory"
"They've got really tasty desserts"
"They won't anymore" Anwyn commented in a mutter.
"I know. I think it's called the M...M something...Mar..."
"Is this it? The Marsh House?" Lee pointed to a hotel near the river.
"Yes, that's it" Clementine smiled.
"So we'll head there" Lee nodded, "You think we have a good plan?"
"I think it's a terrible idea" Anwyn shook her head, "Sure, let's go traipsing through a Meirw-filled city searching for two people who're probably dead"
"But what if they're alive?!" Clementine snapped back, "We can't just not look for them"
"We can at least look, Annie" Lee said, "closure, at least"
Anwyn sighed, "Yeah. Yeah. But it's not worth getting killed over"
"I think it's very good" Clementine nodded "Can I...tell my parents? You know"
"Sure, go ahead" Lee nodded, "Alright. How do you two feel?"
"Vaguely better, I guess" Anwyn shrugged.
"Well I feel much better" Clementine said, "I'm glad we have a plan"
"And you're a good little shot" Lee smiled, "With you on long distance and Annie on close up, no one will screw with you"
Anwyn smiled a little, "Thanks Lee"
"Yeah, thanks" Clementine nodded.
"I guess we should see how far-"
"OH, SHIT! HOLD ON, EVERYBODY!" Kenny's shouts interrupted Lee as the train jammed to a halt. Lee grabbed Clementine's shoulder to stop her from falling off the edge, and Anwyn quickly stopped herself from rolling over with her right arm.
As everyone jumped off to see what was going on, Anwyn stuck close to Clementine, one hand resting on her knife. There was an overpass directly in front of the train, and from it, a massive truck, a fuel truck, was half hanging over the edge, blocking their way. The train wouldn't be able to go on.
Chapter 9: Lies
"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! FUCK! FUUUUUUUUCK!" Kenny shouted, glaring at the truck and tossing his arms up in the air.
"Maybe we could walk?" Ben suggested.
"That's fucking stupid, Ben" Kenny replied, his voice and posture slumping into that of hopelessness.
"I'm just sayin'..."
"Hmm. I dunno; I ain't got much experience with y'all's fortitude but we could probably deal with that. We got a goddamn train" Chuck glanced at the vehicle beside him.
"That thing's not full of milk, Charles. That's gas or diesel; something that's going to explode"
"And it's only been three and a half months" Anwyn added, "it won't have expired yet"
"You two gotta get ahold of yourself. This a crew here" Chuck shot back.
Kenny glared back at him, "This ain't shit" he growled.
"Yo, you keep screaming like that and you're gonna get your face chewed off" a voice shouted from the top of the overpass. Anwyn instinctively put her hand on her knife and pushed herself carefully in front of Clementine.
"Are you guys gonna be trouble? Because we could've just kept walking" another person, a woman, shouted from beside the guy.
"No, we're friendly" Lee shouted back, motioning for Kenny to relax.
"That's what everybody says"
"You guys got a problem with your train?" the guy asked.
"Yeah, you're standing right in front of it" Kenny shot back, a glare still clear on his face.
"Dude, it's a wreck. It's not so bad from up here. Send your buddy up to have a look"
Kenny said something quietly to Lee before he grabbed hold of the ladder leaning against one of the supports.
"If I come up there, you better not be murderers or thieves" Lee shouted before he pulled himself up.
"I guess you'll have to find out" the woman shouted down before disappearing back across.
"Reassuring" Anwyn muttered as Clementine partially followed Lee to the ladder.
After a little while with only inaudible mumbling coming from the top, Clementine grabbed hold of the ladder.
"Hey, hey, where you going?" Anwyn said.
"C'mon" Clementine glanced back as she climbed up the ladder. Anwyn sighed before jumping up the ladder and climbing after her.
Anwyn heard the guy on the overpass say "Oh, shit! Goddamn, you guys have a kid!" as Clementine pulled herself up. Anwyn clambered up quickly after her. "Goddamn, you guys have two kids!"
"What are you two doing up here?" Lee looked back at the girls.
"Back up" Anwyn patted her knife.
"Do you know how long it's been since I've seen a kid? Shit! What's your name?" the guy continued, ignoring Anwyn's subtle threat.
"I'm Clementine, and that's Anwyn, but we call her Annie"
"Oh, so he gets to swear?" Lee muttered.
"You're not their dad. He down there?" the woman glanced at the girls.
"It's that obvious?" Lee said.
"No, he's not down there"
"Hmm. What's your story?"
"I came across Clementine alone the first day all of this happened, and I found Anwyn in the middle of Macon about a month in. We've been together ever since" Lee explained.
"By found, he means I saved his ass" Anwyn smirked, crossing her arms.
"And everybody down there, they're cool?" the woman looked down at the three stood by the train.
"Kenny lost his wife and kid" Lee said.
"Man. How long ago?" the man asked.
"What time is it?"
"I don't know. Uh, four?"
"Maybe two hours ago"
"Goddamn.." the man shook his head. Anwyn noticed Clementine shifting her weight nervously. "We're sorry for anything that's happened to you guys. That train is awesome, though"
"That tank is your real problem. We'll help you with it, but if we see anything we don't like, we're moving on down the road. Alone" the woman added, glancing at the truck, which was blocking the road.
"We'd appreciate the help"
"You can't just blast through it, I guess" the woman shrugged.
"If you could get it down, the rest would probably be pretty easy" she looked at the truck.
"We'll start there" Lee nodded.
"We'll come down and settle in, and see if we can help"
Lee looked around and noticed a smaller truck, a van, and opened the back doors. Inside was just a couple of neon orange traffic cones and a stop sign, nothing helpful, but he held up a thing of tape. He shrugged as he pocketed it.
Lee led the way down the ladder to join the rest of the group.
"Guys, this is Omid and Christa" Lee introduced, but none of the others responded, just looked at them and said nothing.
"Not big on welcomes..." Omid commented.
"Like I said, it's been a bit of a day"
"We just wanted to say hi and say that your train is pretty cool" Omid waved a little, trying to be friendly.
"But we're not looking for charity" Christa added quickly.
"The plan is to cut that tanker down and be on our way" Lee said, motioning towards the truck.
"Seems like plan enough to me" Kenny sighed. He looked like the fight in him was completely gone.
"You want to start in on that tanker?" Omid asked.
"I'll get to know the girls for a minute, if you don't mind" Christa said. Clementine and Anwyn sat on the ground to one side, out of the way, and Christa followed close behind.
"Where are you from then?" Anwyn asked.
"San Francisco. That idiot wanted a 'great American roadtrip' and we got trapped" Christa shook her head, shooting a glance at Omid, "What about you? You don't sound like you're from here"
"Nah, I'm from the UK. Was on a family visit and then dead people started getting the munchies" Anwyn shrugged.
"But you couldn't have been on your own for a whole month. Especially in a city"
"I was only alone for a couple weeks"
"I'll assume your family.."
"Yeah" Anwyn looked away, "what about yours?"
Christa shrugged, "I dunno. Alive, dead, something else"
"You been with any other people, like, in a group?" Clementine asked, leaning forward a little to see Christa better, past Anwyn.
"Nah, it's just been me and Omid. We avoid groups, but Omid really liked that train"
Lee approached the girls from talking to the guys on the train.
"You two interrogating this woman for us?" he asked, his tone taking any seriousness.
"Yeah" Clementine nodded.
"She set off any alarm bells?"
"They're very thorough" Christa added.
"That's what I like to hear" Lee nodded, "Careful, both of 'em are a crack shot now"
"You got these girls shooting guns?"
"Look, I don't need a lecture"
"You weren't getting one. It's good. They SHOULD be able to take care of themselves. And each other"
"I should go check out that train station" Lee motioned, turning to go. Clementine jumped up and ran after him, Anwyn scrabbling to follow.
"Can we follow you over there?" Clementine asked.
"You don't like the new girl?"
"I do. But...it's like we're a team. Like you said"
"Yeah, alright. Come on" Lee turned back to the group, "Me and the girls are checking out this train station, alright? Hustle over if you hear anything" he led the way away from the train and the overpass. Clementine and Anwyn stuck close beside him, on both sides.
It only took a minute or two to walk over to the station. Once they reached it, Clementine and Anwyn ran on ahead to check the place out. There wasn't much of interest outside, just old paint cans and rotting posters, but around one side of the station was a door.
"Think we can get inside?" Clementine asked as she tried to open it.
"Seems locked" Anwyn said as the handle refused to turn.
Lee rounded the corner, "You should wait for me before trying to open doors" he said, quickening his pace a little.
"Luckily it's locked. We'll get better at working together"
"Don't worry Lee, I'm right here to watch her back" Anwyn added.
"I know Annie, but you're still a kid too. I don't want you to feel you need to do that" Lee ruffled her hair a little. He looked over at the door, "We'll have to find a way in" after a few seconds of trying to open the door and looking for some way in, "The window's open up there"
"Maybe I could look in?" Clementine suggested.
"Just looking" Anwyn added, leaning against the wall.
"Why don't I put you on my shoulders and you can peek into that window up there?" Lee said to Clementine.
"Sounds good" Clementine nodded. Lee picked her up carefully, stood her on his shoulders, and moved slowly over to the window. "Okay, I can see in, what do I do now?"
"What do you see?"
"Lots of crates and stuff"
"Maybe we can find the key or figure out a way to knock this door down. Kenny'd probably have me pick the lock, which actually might-"
"Kenny thinks you can pick a lock?" Anwyn smirked.
Clementine pulled forward a tiny bit to reach in, "I think I opened it"
"For real?" Lee looked up.
"Go Clem" Anwyn smiled.
Lee set her down carefully and pulled the door open.
"Let's go. Be careful" Clementine said before the entered the place.
"I'm supposed to tell you that" Lee said, Anwyn stifling a chuckle. They carefully went inside. It was hard to see because it was so dark, but Anwyn could see the crates Clementine had seen earlier, and towards the back of the station was a small storage area that was locked behind metal bars.
"Goddamn, it's dark in here" Lee muttered.
"Maybe I can hold the door open?" Clementine glanced back at the door.
"I don't like that. I'll prop it open with something" Lee opened the door again and placed a metal wrench on the ground, keeping it from closing.
The three of them started looking around. Anwyn tried to open the door to the locked off area, but it wouldn't budge, and of course, the keys were hung up on the other side. She looked around the storage area for anything of use.
"Fuck" she growled, "there's a blowtorch in there. Just what we need"
"Great" Lee started to walk to the door.
"And the door's locked"
"Of course" he sighed, looking for a way in. "There's some space up there, but not much" he pointed to a small gap between the top of the bars and the ceiling.
"We're lucky I'm so little" Clementine said.
"You sure I won't fit?" Anwyn studied the gap.
"I'm okay going over"
"You sure?" Lee asked.
"Definitely" Clementine nodded. Lee picked her up and gave her a boost so she could scramble through the gap. She landed on her feet, which made Anwyn slightly proud.
"Looks like my awesome parkour lessons are paying off" she joked.
"I thought you said to not land on your feet?"
"And you're paying attention? Two points to me"
"Let's focus" Lee said, "Go on and grab the keys, Clem"
Clementine's amused expression changed to one of pure fear, "Behind you!"
Anwyn whirled around. A Meirw lurched at them from the darkness. Anwyn pulled out her knife and Lee pulled out his gun, but another Meirw pounced at him from behind the crates, knocking the gun from his hand. Lee shoved the two of the back, keeping Anwyn behind him.
"Get the wrench!" he shouted. Anwyn bolted for the door and picked up the wrench. The door closed as she tossed it over to Lee. He swung it at one, crushing it's head in like a soda can, but the other lunged at his outstretched hands. It grabbed his arm. Anwyn used the distraction to jump up and kill the thing with her knife. She kept good hold of the knife, so the weight of its falling body pulled the knife from its skull.
"Aros yn farw" she muttered. She glanced over at Clementine, who was holding Lee's gun and shakily pointing it at the Meirw Anwyn had killed.
"It's okay...it's okay...everything's fine" Lee said calmly, approaching the bars. The gurgling of a Meirw made Anwyn freeze. She slowly looked at the darkness. A pair of blank eyes glinted, from the other side of the bars. "KEYS! NOW!" Lee shouted.
As Clementine bolted for the keys, Anwyn ran along the bars, trying to distract the Meirw and give them some more time. But it had its sights set on Clementine. She handed the keys quickly to Lee, who unlocked the door and took the gun from her. Within a second, he shot it, Clementine holding onto him out of fear.
Once the Meirw had fallen, Anwyn dashed over to Clementine.
"You okay?" Anwyn asked quickly.
Clementine hugged her, "Nuh-uh, I'm fine" Anwyn hugged her back. "That didn't go so good" Clementine added as she glanced around the place.
"I should've gone over the bars" Anwyn shook her head.
"But we're okay. Everything's okay" Lee reassured them.
The sound of the door opening made Anwyn jump a little and raise her knife, but it was only Christa. "What's going on? I thought I heard a gunshot"
"We're fine" Lee replied. Christa looked around and noticed the dead Meirw lying about, and most likely Clementine's expression and Anwyn's nervousness.
"We found some walkers" Lee added.
"You and two kids versus three of them, huh?" Christa said, her tone shifting to a more serious one.
"It was stupid"
"What do you want me to say? I'm trying to teach them how to take care of themselves. We're getting used to working together"
"I'm gonna go make sure the noise didn't cause us any problems" Christa shook her head as she turned and opened the door.
"That's a good idea" Clementine spoke up. Christa smiled at her, then looked back at Lee with a frown.
"I hope you know what you're doing with them"
"We're still alive, aren't we?"
"Yeah, you are" Christa muttered as she left.
Lee sighed and turned back to pick up the blowtorch. Anwyn held the door open to shine some light in, Clementine standing near her.
"You sure you're okay?" Anwyn asked, glancing at her while she kept watch for anything outside.
"Yeah, just a bit shaky"
"Adrenaline. It'll pass" Anwyn nodded.
"What about you? You actually had to fight one"
"Pff. Average Tuesday"
"I think it might be a Friday actually.."
Anwyn smiled, "You know what I mean"
"We got it" Lee groaned as he hauled the blowtorch up to the door.
"Cool. Let's go" Anwyn said.
"Hang on a sec" Lee knelt down, "What did we learn?"
"I'm not ready for a gun" Clementine muttered.
"We learned not to be afraid. They shoulda got us, but we got them" Lee explained, glancing back at the dead Meirw.
"Yeah, you're right" Clementine nodded.
"Fear is the thing that will kill us, you understand?"
"Don't worry Clem" Anwyn said as they exited the station and started walking back to the train, "You'll be confident with using a gun one day. Survivor Team, right?"
"We've got a team name, now?" Lee replied in a joking tone.
"Swear" Clementine shoved Anwyn lightly, "I'll get you to stop"
"Hey I saw you not caring about Omid swearing, I think I'm winning this bet"
"Alright, alright" Lee said through heavy breaths as he carried the blowtorch, "We're almost there"
They reached the train slower with Lee dragging the blowtorch, but when they did, everyone poked their heads out.
"I found a blowtorch in the station. Should make quick work of the coupling up there" Lee said as he placed the blowtorch on the ground.
"Excellent, I'll come up there with you to have a look" Omid said as he jumped out the train. He followed Lee up the ladder to give him a hand.
Anwyn and Clementine sat back down beside Christa as they waited for Lee and Omid to get rid of the truck. While Clementine talked a bit more to Christa, Anwyn watched with mild amusement as Lee and Omid tried their best to cut through the coupling. After Lee had tried cutting through it, the back half of the truck crawled forward, so close to falling completely. Thankfully, Omid had yanked him back so he wouldn't go falling after it. Anwyn found it even more amusing when Lee dangled Omid over the edge to finish cutting it.
"Guys...there's something coming!" Ben shouted from the top of the train.
Anwyn jumped up and shielded her eyes from the sun to see better. Out of the distance, Meirw after Meirw appeared.
"WE GOTTA GO!" Ben screeched as he ran along the top of the train.
Anwyn grabbed Clementine by the hand, "Time to skedaddle!" she said as she shoved her towards the ladder on the train. The truck crashed to one side of the tracks, spilling its contents everywhere. As soon as it was out of the way, the train started moving. Anwyn watched as Lee and Omid jumped to the train from the overpass, but Omid bounced off, landing on the ground.
"Shit!" Christa shouted before jumping off the train to help him.
"C'mon" Anwyn said to Clementine as she led her to the carriage. Once there, they watched as Lee pulled Omid up onto the carriage.
"No! Her! NOT ME! CHRISTA, NO! FUCK!" Omid shouted, "You piece of shit! She's a woman! Don't you know-"
Christa easily caught up with the train and jumped on. Clementine scooted into the carriage behind Anwyn.
"That...was a LOT...of them" Omid said as he cast a glance at the horde of Meirw, a bunch of which had caught fire from the burning fuel.
"I do not like the look of that" Anwyn commented.
"Are you hurt...?" Clementine asked.
"No, we're okay" Lee replied, pulling himself up.
"Speak for yourself, my leg is fucked" Omid shot back.
"We're fine, Clementine. We're fine" Christa said.
"C'mon, why don't we go to the front of the train" Lee said to the girls as he made for the door.
"Yeah, I'm super tired" Clementine commented as she quickened her pace to keep up with Lee. Anwyn followed close behind.
Clementine had fallen asleep in the other seat in the cabin, her bag nestled beside her. Anwyn has lying on the floor, leaning against the wall. She wasn't that tired, but she was completely lost in thought. She snapped out of it with the sound of the cabin door closing shut as Kenny stepped inside.
"Next stop, the Atlantic" he said, gazing out the window.
"We have to find a boat. We just have to" Lee shook his head.
"We will" Kenny nodded reassuringly.
"It's gotten too bad, you know? You, me, nobody can take all this"
"But we have"
"What we're supposed to do isn't clear anymore. I'd give anything to go back to fighting over the motel"
"Me too" Kenny and Anwyn both sighed at the same time. Lee glanced at the both of them before kneeling beside Clementine with a warm smile.
"She's out cold like I've never seen"
"It's been a shitty day" Anwyn replied, looking at her with concern, "I just hope-"
She was cut off as Clementine's radio crackled with static, and a voice buzzed through. "Hell...o...oo...there....?"
Lee held out the radio, and all three of them were staring at it. The voice continued.
"Can't wait for you to get to Savannah, Clementine. I've got your parents right here, and you be sure to find me whether Lee and Anwyn want you to or not. Now, what I need-" the radio cut out.
"Holy shit" Anwyn muttered, "That's why she's been.." she lost her words.
"I thought that fucking thing was broken..." Kenny growled, not at anyone in particular.
"So did I" Lee and Anwyn said at the same time.
"Well, it sounds like somebody knows where we're headed"
"She.. she's been lying to me" Anwyn muttered.
"Hey now, don't blame Clem too much okay?" Lee said quickly, "she is still a little girl, and there are some very twisted people who know how to manipulate kids"
"No, it's not that. Just.." Anwyn shook her head, looking at Clementine, "She trusted a stranger on her radio more than me"
"If he's been telling her he has her parents, she's been trusting the false hope"
Anwyn took a deep breath, "Yeah. Yeah, it isn't her fault. We can talk to her later, set it straight. Yeah" Anwyn nodded as she turned away, leaning against the dashboard and watching the buildings of Savannah get closer and closer.
She had no idea what they were getting into, but she knew, this wasn't going to go well. As the train rocketed towards the city, she silently prayed to the Daghda for strength and protection, for her group as well as herself.
Chapter 10: Savannah
~~~About an hour later~~~
The group cautiously made their way through the empty, silent Savannah Streets. Clementine walked beside Lee, quietly muttering something to him, but Anwyn was walking too far behind them to hear. She tried to keep her focus on her surroundings, like she was used to back in Macon, but her focus was completely on her thoughts. They kept racing around her head, thoughts about where she placed her trust, what it meant, and the biggest thought of all; who this stranger was, and what he wanted with Clementine.
The entire group started talking, but Anwyn didn't listen to any of it. The words just didn't register.
A bell rung. A massive, loud church bell. Its rings echoed around the streets and snapped Anwyn out of her own head, but everything was suddenly overwhelming to her. The bell, the talking, she couldn't keep up.
"What the hell...?"
"Maybe this city's not so dead after all..."
"Keep moving. No one's ringing that bell, it's automatic, on a timer"
Lee's pause before his response was enough time for Anwyn to shake the thoughts from her head and come to the present.
"What kind of church bell goes off at twenty past the hour?" Lee asked as he glanced up at the church. "Someone's up there!" he shouted in surprise.
"What?!" Anwyn shouted in surprise, looking up.
"Are you sure? I don't see anything" Ben said, looking up to where Lee was pointing.
"I know what I saw. I'm telling you, there's someone up in that belltower! Someone alive!"
The radio crackled again, getting everyone's attention.
"If I were you, I'd get out of the street. Now" that same voice from before said, in a much more aggressive tone.
"I thought you said that thing didn't work!" Christa asked, half aggressively, half in dismay.
"Who the hell is this?! Hello? Hello? I said answer me!" Lee growled into the radio, anger radiating from every syllable.
"What the hell was that? Is someone trying to fuck with us?" Omid looked around in panic.
"I don't particularly want to find out right now" Anwyn said hurriedly, "How about we get the hell out of here?"
"Ask not for whom the bell tolls..." Chuck muttered. Everyone looked at him, but he was looking over his shoulder, "It tolls for thee..."
Down the street, a huge herd of Meirw, dozens, maybe more, were shambling towards them. Gurgles and groans getting louder and louder.
"Everybody, RUN!" Lee shouted.
Everyone sprinted in the opposite direction, dodging the Meirw that were that way as well. Anwyn kept pace behind Clementine to make sure nothing got hold of her. A Meirw lunged at her from a broken car, but Anwyn used the momentum from her own sprinting to tackle it away from Clementine and crush its skull against the pavement. Ben pulled ahead of them. They turned the corner, only to be met with more Meirw. The three of them skidded to a halt, ready to turn the other way, but more of them appeared behind them, forcing their backs to a high brick wall.
"No! Ben! Help them!" Lee shouted, staring at them in dismay.
Anwyn pushed Clementine behind her, holding her knife out, but she knew that she would never be able to fight all of these things. She looked at Ben, who was holding at gun, for support, but he glanced at them before bolting.
"Ben, you son of a bitch!" Anwyn shouted after him as Clementine started panicking.
Just as one Meirw got too close to them, a gunshot rang out and it dropped to the ground. Beyond the mass of Meirw, Lee was aiming his gun and firing shot after shot, trying to get the lot of them before they even came close to the girls. Any that came within close combat distance, Anwyn shoved back and killed with her knife. She only needed to tell two of them to stay dead before Chuck started doing a much better job with his shovel. It gave them enough of an opening to run. Anwyn grabbed Clementine's hand and dashed towards Lee. He hugged them both in relief.
"Get them the hell out of here! I'll catch up with ya!" Chuck shouted as he was forced to retreat.
Lee lead Anwyn and Clementine back to the group as they all sprinted down the street.
"Move your asses! River Street's right up ahead!" Kenny instructed, motioning forward.
"That's not all" Ben pointed. Even more Meirw were converging on them, seemingly ecstatic at finding a meal.
"Oh, gimme a fucking break!" Kenny spat.
"Wait, where the hell's Chuck?" Christa looked over the group.
"Shit! He's in trouble, we gotta help him!" Omid shouted as he looked back. Chuck was still killing Meirw after Meirw with his shovel, but he was being pushed back slowly by the sheer number of them.
"There's no time! We've gotta go, now!" Kenny pointed towards the Meirw ahead of them.
"I'll be fine! Just go!" Chuck shouted from behind them.
The group dodged the incoming herd by going down another street, then running through a driveway alongside a massive house. A towering iron gate stood between them and the safety of the fenced garden and boarded up house, but they easily got past it. The awful noises of the Meirw herd were still loud, but Anwyn hoped with all her might that they had lost them. In her experience, once a person was out of sight, they just had to stay that way to lose Meirw, so if the group got in the house, they should be fine.
"I'll get the door!" Kenny said as soon as he got past the gate. Omid collapsed, his leg giving out completely. Christa knelt next to him to look after him as Ben and Kenny went to the house to try and get it open.
"You okay?" Lee asked Omid, who dragged himself out of the way and into a sitting position.
"Ugh" he groaned, "yeah"
"You've opened up your wound, you're bleeding! Shit, that's gonna get infected" Christa muttered as she looked at Omid's leg "We've gotta get him inside, clean him up!" she said the rest of the group.
"Kenny? How's that door coming?" Lee asked.
"I'm working on it, I'm working on it!" Kenny shot back.
"Well, work faster, would you? Won't be long before those things outside figure out where we went. You know they can smell blood!" Christa growled, not taking her eyes off Omid's injury.
"Lady, I ain't the one who's bleeding"
"Jeez Kenny, calm the fuck down" Anwyn retorted, wiping her knife.
"Let me see if I can find us a way in" Lee raised his hands to calm everything down. After the group fell silent, Lee knelt by Clementine and Anwyn.
"Do you think the dead people saw us come back here? Are they going to find us?" Clementine asked quickly, glancing down the driveway.
"Nah, they won't have, we lost them around the corners" Anwyn reassured her, keeping lookout by the gate.
"Annie's right" Lee nodded, "We were too fast for them"
"I can still hear them out there. It sounds like they're getting closer" Clementine muttered fearfully.
"It's just your imagination"
"I'll feel safer when we're inside the house"
"You and me both" Anwyn nodded.
"I have to go have a word with Ben and get us inside the house" Lee commented as he stood up.
"Yeah, I want to... have a word as well" Anwyn said through gritted teeth. She followed Lee over to where Ben was stood. At that moment, he was trying to get through a boarded up window.
"Ben?" Lee got his attention so he turned around. "About what happened back there on the street..."
"I know. I don't know what happened. I just...froze up. Hasn't that ever happened to you?" Ben stuttered.
"Of course it has" Anwyn hissed, "but that's not what you should be worrying about" she got much closer to him, doing her best to be intimidating despite her short size, "let's just say that if anything happens to Clementine because of you, you'll have to answer to me and Lee. And I don't have as strong a moral compass as Lee"
"Trust me Annie, if something happened to Clementine, my moral compass wouldn't be as it is now" Lee added.
"I hear you" Ben nodded quickly, shifting his weight nervously, "won't happen again"
"It better not" Anwyn spat as she went back to keep lookout beside Clementine. She stayed silent as Lee and Kenny worked on getting inside.
"Annie, are you okay?" Clementine whispered so Christa and Omid wouldn't hear their conversation.
"I'm fine, Clem" Anwyn replied, not taking her eyes off the driveway.
"Are you sure? You got really angry with-"
"I said, I'm fine" Anwyn retorted, not loudly, but with an edge to her voice. She truly didn't blame Clementine for the radio, but it still stung.
Clementine didn't reply, just looked away.
"Who the hell ever heard of a locked doggy door?" Kenny said a little too loudly, enough for Anwyn to hear him.
"I have. My neighbor had one just like that. It's radio-controlled, the dog wears a collar with a chip in it so the door only opens when the dog gets close to it" Omid explained.
"Well, shit. Every day's a school day"
"Alright, so...where's the dog?" Ben asked, looking around the yard.
"I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and say in that small, dog sized grave by the dog house" Anwyn said, motioning over to the dog house before looking back out. She glanced back at the group every so often and saw Lee taking a shovel leaning against the massive shed in the opposite corner.
"Hey, be careful. Digging up dead things isn't what it used to be, you know what I mean?" Omid commented quickly before Lee started digging up the grave.
Everyone gathered around the grave as Lee dug it up.
"What's buried down there?" Clementine asked.
"Whatever it is, it's been here a while" Lee replied as he shoveled dirt up. Bits of flesh became visible.
"Ew, I can smell it from here. Gross!" Clementine coughed.
"I am so fucking sick of it" Anwyn choked before focusing her breath through her mouth instead of her nose.
"Clementine, honey, come sit with me and Omid, let Lee work" Christa beckoned Clementine over, motioning towards the space between herself and Anwyn.
Lee finished digging up the grave and Anwyn couldn't stop her curiosity overcoming her. She came a bit closer to see what was there. At the bottom of the open pit was a half-rotted dog. Bits of fur still covered its corpse, but most of it was blackened, rotting flesh and bone. In fact, most of the flesh had rotted away, so it was being held together by mere strings. It made Anwyn feel slightly ill. Strange, she thought, she believed she was used to it, but she supposed she hadn't seen anything that had rotted so much it didn't even look like what it was when it was alive.
"Oh, God, the smell" Ben choked, covering his face.
Lee carefully leaned forward and picked up the collar by pulling under it with one finger. The rest of the corpse was pulled along with it.
"Ugh... I can't get it off" Lee said. The dog's head came sliding off its spine, the rest of its body slumping back to the ground, but the collar remained in Lee's grasp. Everyone stepped back and made various sounds of disgust. Anwyn stared at it, horror laced with some strange intrigue. Her attention was broken when Christa leaned against the wall and vomited into the hedge.
"Are you okay?" Clementine asked, her voice rather worn.
"I'm fine, honey. It's just the smell" Christa replied, wiping her mouth.
"Are you sure you-"
"I said I'm fine, okay?" she cut Omid off. Anwyn glanced at Christa's lower torso in suspicion. Nausea could be the smell, but it could be something else, and Christa had said it had just been her and Omid. She remembered her mother saying that it could make that kind of reaction to all sorts of smells, like a catalyst. She wouldn't say anything, but she would keep a watch on it. Childbirth was a seriously deadly thing, especially now, and Anwyn had taken a bit of a liking to Christa, but a baby was a long-term issue.
Anwyn was kicked out of her thoughts by Clementine walking past her towards the front door of the house where Lee and Kenny were stood. She quickly followed after her, leaving her previous thoughts to the back burner for later.
Lee had opened the pet door and was lying on his front, looking inside.
"You see anything in there?" Ben asked.
"No. Looks like it's been empty a while" Lee replied, glancing over his shoulder.
Everyone suddenly became much more tense as the sound of Meirw became louder.
"Whatever you're gonna do, do it fast" Christa retorted, watching the driveway in Anwyn's place.
"Okay, lemme see if I can reach up in there..." Lee tried to reach the doorknob to unlock it, but after a few seconds of struggle, he sighed and pulled his arm back. "It's no good, I can't get it"
Ben stepped forward "Here, let me try. I think I can-"
He was cut off when Clementine suddenly disappeared through the pet door.
"Clem!" Anwyn said in surprise.
"Clem! Are you okay? Say something!" Lee asked, trying to keep his voice down but not so much Clementine wouldn't hear him.
After a few seconds, the door clicked and swung open. Clementine raised her hands in a show-off pose. "Ta-da!" Anwyn breathed a sigh of relief.
"Good work, Clem. But don't go shooting off like that without asking first, okay?" Lee warned her.
"Yeah, let me do stuff like that" Anwyn added, stepping forward, "I'm the one with the knife"
"I was just trying to help" Clementine muttered.
"I know. And you did good. You just had us worried there for a minute" Lee continued.
"Can we maybe have this conversation inside? My leg's starting to hurt like hell" Omid pulled himself up.
Kenny went through the door to check it out a little. "Looks okay from here, everybody in"
Anwyn followed Lee inside, Clementine behind her. She noticed as she walked in that Clementine was looking a little off; sad or frustrated or both. Christa helped Omid inside and onto a couch, where Anwyn and Clementine joined them to keep out the way. After Omid was settled, Christa went over to the kitchen to talk to Lee and Kenny.
Anwyn looked around the place. The inside was bigger than it looked outside. The living room they were currently sat in was open to a dining room, the kitchen, and the hallway, giving it the big feeling. Over a dead fireplace hung a big family portrait of a mother, father, son, and a small dog. A few more paintings were leaning against the wall next to it. The furniture wasn't really comfortable, more made to look nice than have a homey feel, and a grandfather clock stood to one side, dead and silent. A staircase in the hallway led up to the second floor, and Anwyn guessed there was probably another floor again. Whoever lived here clearly never worried about money.
"Are you mad at me?" Clementine asked Anwyn.
"Going through the door without saying was.. careless, but I'm not mad"
"Not about that" Clementine shook her head, "you seemed mad at me back at the gate. Is it the radio?"
Anwyn remained silent for a while, but nodded a little, "Yeah. I guess I'm kinda pissed at you. Lee says not to be, but I can't help it"
"Oh" Clementine looked away.
"I'm just... I'm mad you didn't say anything. You're my best friend, hell, you're pretty much my family now, and we're a team. But you just.. lied to me about that. For so long"
"I'm really sorry I didn't say, but he said you wouldn't like him"
"Y'know why he said that, right?" Anwyn crossed her arms.
"Because you wouldn't like him?"
"Because it's easier to manipulate someone on their own. Abusers do it all the time. Isolation is a strong tactic. If he'd have talked to both of us, I would have noticed stuff you wouldn't, and he would suddenly have no one to chat to"
"But he's not bad" Clementine retorted, "he just wants to help"
"Clementine" Anwyn looked at her, "he is most likely a pedo or a murderer or something. He says he's trying to help, then he tried to make you not trust us and gets you on your own. Doesn't that seem suspicious?"
Clementine remained silent. "He says he has my parents" she muttered.
Anwyn sighed, "Look, I'm not perfect either. If he said the right things to me, I'd probably be in the same situation, but please, trust me" Anwyn got off the end of the couch and crouched down slightly in front of her to get to her eye level, "he doesn't have your parents"
"How do you know that?"
"Have you talked to them?"
"Well... no" Clementine muttered, "but he says that it's just a coincidence, they're out getting supplies or asleep or something"
Anwyn shook her head, "Please tell me you don't believe that"
"Alright, fine" Kenny's voice carried from the kitchen "You and me'll take the upstairs--Lee, you've got down here. Make sure you check every door, understand?" Kenny's instructions interrupted them.
Clementine stood up and pushed past Anwyn.
"Is there anything I can do?" she asked Lee.
"Thanks, I got it. Hang out with Anwyn until I get back, okay?"
"Lee... I'm sorry"
"Going through the door like that, without checking first. I guess that was pretty dumb, huh?"
"Just ask me first, next time you're gonna outsmart all the grown-ups. Okay?" Lee tried to cheer her up with a smile.
"Okay" Clementine smiled back. As she returned to her spot on the armchair, now that Anwyn had gone back to the couch, Lee started checking out the closed rooms on the ground floor. Every so often he would shout an all-clear.
"Clementine" Christa turned from looking after Omid, "who is that man on the radio?"
Clementine looked at her nervously, glancing at Anwyn.
"We'd love an answer in this decade, Clem" Anwyn added.
"Jesus!" Lee's shout of surprise made her jump a little.
"What? What happened?"
"It's nothing. Just...nothing" Lee said as he closed the door to the other room and came back over to check on Christa, Omid, and the girls. "Well, the place ain't got much. We should be okay here for a while, at least until it quiets down outside"
"Good, thanks" Christa nodded.
"Is he okay?" Lee motioned to Omid, who was looking near exhaustion.
"Yeah, for now. But I'm really worried his leg might've gotten infected. Don't suppose you turned up any meds while you were poking around?"
"Nah, just dog food. And there's some whiskey in the back"
"I was just asking Clementine if she knows who the man on her radio is. It's okay, honey, you can tell us. Who is he? What does he want?" Christa and Lee turned their attention to Clementine, who just looked at them sheepishly.
"Go ahead, Clem. It's okay. You're not in any trouble" Lee reassured her, kneeling down.
"It's just a friend. I don't think he wants to hurt us" Clementine replied less nervously than she had with Anwyn.
"What did you talk about?" Anwyn asked, "Did you say anything about us? What did he say about himself?"
"I told him I was trying to find my parents, and that they were in Savannah. He really seems nice, I think he wants to help me find them"
Christa took a step forward, shaking her head a little "Clementine. Honey, trust me, that's not what he wants. He-"
"Lee!" Ben interrupted, running halfway down the stairs. "Lee, you need to get up here now!"
"What's wrong?" Lee jumped up and ran over to the stairs.
"It's Kenny" Ben said as Lee started taking the stairs up.
"Do you think he's okay?" Clementine asked nervously, glancing at the stairs.
"I'm sure he's fine, Clem" Christa replied, kneeling back down beside Omid again.
Anwyn pulled out her knife and the little sharpener block she had found a while back and started sharpening it. The sound of the metallic slicing was the only thing to fill the silence. Clementine glanced at Anwyn a few times, like she was trying to find something to say, but never said anything. Anwyn just ignored it. Right now, she just wanted to think.
After a while of the silence, the sound of Lee coming down the stairs made the three of them look over. He was carrying a body. It was very small, a child, and it was so thin, just skin and bone. He took it out to the back garden, the three girls following him. They watched as Lee placed the body in the dog's grave and started filling it in. Christa and Clementine went back inside, but Anwyn just kept watching. It really hit her how fragile life could be. That kid was probably around her age or slightly younger, and she couldn't shake the image of Clementine's body in the grave. It made her feel depressed and lost just thinking about it. Shaking her head, she went back to the living room and sat down on the floor beside the arm chair Clementine was in to give Christa and Omid a bit more room, and continued sharpening her knife.
"Y'know I'm only mad because I'm worried, right?" Anwyn muttered to Clementine, pausing her sharpening for a second, "I love you like family, and I'm really worried something bad will happen to you"
"Yeah, I know" Clementine replied quietly, "I just feel kinda bad that I lied"
Anwyn sighed, "Don't trust that guy, Clem"
"Hey. Hey!" Lee's shouts made everyone tense. Anwyn jumped to her feet, keeping her knife in her grasp and leading herself, Christa, and Ben to the garden. As they burst through the door, Lee shouted "You stay the hell away from us, you hear?" while gripping the bars of the back fence.
"What's going on? Y'alright?" Anwyn ran over to him.
"I saw someone standing there by the fence. Watching us" Lee explained, looking away from the fence, but not turning completely.
"A walker?" Ben asked nervously.
"No, too fast. Took off like a bat out of hell when I spotted him"
"Annie, why don't you go back inside?" Christa said quickly.
"Hell no" Anwyn retorted, "I wanna know what's going on and what the hell we're gonna do about it"
"Alright, I guess you are pretty mature for your age" Christa muttered "Was the guy a man or a woman?" she turned back around to look at Lee.
"Didn't get a good enough look" Lee shook his head.
"Urgh, I fucking hate this place" Anwyn growled, gripping her knife so tight her knuckles went white. "A fucking creepy twat watching us by the fence" she muttered.
"Woah, what kinda language is that?" Christa retorted, half looking at Lee.
"Don't blame Lee. It's not as bad a word in Britain and Clementine is still inside. Plus, I HATE being followed" Anwyn shot back, "Sooner we get out of this shit town, the better" she crossed her arms. The sound of the door opening drew their attention, but it was just Kenny.
"Kenny?" Lee asked in a concerned tone.
"I'm fine. Just...I'm fine. What's all the ruckus?"
"Lee saw someone" Anwyn slid the knife back in its place, "Someone watching us, on the other side of the fence"
"What? Who?" Kenny suddenly seemed much more awake.
"I can't be sure. They ran off before I could get a good look" Lee said, finally turning away from the fence.
"I don't like this one bit. Not one bit" Ben stuttered, looking like he was on the verge of a panic attack. Well, more so than usual.
"Me either. Walkers are one thing, but the thought of someone out there actually stalking us..." Christa shuddered.
"Alright, that's it. We've stuck around here long enough. It's time to get back on track, time to get down to the river and find ourselves a boat" Kenny said.
"I'm with Kenny" Anwyn nodded.
"I don't know if Omid's well enough to move yet" Christa replied, glancing at the door to the house.
"Well, he'd better get ready. Because I'm going down to River Street right now to find a boat, and as soon as she's ready to go we're moving out"
"I'm with Kenny and Annie, the sooner we get the hell out of here, the better" Lee said, coming closer to the group, away from the fence.
"Well, then, hell, what are we waiting for?"
"I'll go get my stuff" Ben made for the door.
"No. Ben, you'll only slow us down. Lee and I can go scout the river while the rest of you get ready to move out. You stay behind with Christa and Omid"
"Wait, can't I come? My mom and dad can't be far away now, maybe we can look for them on the way to the river" Clementine said from behind Anwyn, making her look behind her. Clementine had come out the house to see what was going on.
"Clem, honey. I think it'd be best if you stayed here with Ben. I need you to watch out for Omid and Christa, help them get ready to move out" Lee knelt down to her level.
"You said I'm supposed to always stay close to you" Clementine protested.
"I know. It's just this once. Sometimes we all have to put aside what we want for the good of the group" Lee tried to explain "Hey, don't worry. I'll be back before you know it. Okay?" he added as her face fell.
"Okay" Clementine nodded, but the sadness in her voice was obvious.
"Daylight's burning. Gonna go grab my gear, then we'll head out" Kenny said as he went back inside.
"Come on, Clem, let's go see if Omid needs anything" Christa said to Clementine as she headed for the door so she would follow her.
"So, you're just gonna leave me on the bench here?" Ben muttered, crossing his arms.
"After what you pulled back on the street? Be thankful you're alive and still have everything right now" Anwyn hissed, her own arms crossed as well and her hands gripping her arms.
"Just keep an eye on the people here, okay?" Lee tried to calm the situation.
"I can do that" Ben nodded, relaxing a little.
"Well, just so we're clear. While I'm gone, anything or anyone tries to get inside this house, you shoot them. Don't even think twice about it. Understand?"
"I got no problem shooting walkers"
"Did you even hear what he just said?" Anwyn spat.
"Anything or anyone" Lee added. Ben nodded again, a lot more nervously. "Good"
After Ben disappeared back in the house, Kenny appeared once again.
"Sweet, let's go" Anwyn tapped the handle of her knife rhythmically as she made for the gate.
"Uh, excuse me?" Lee asked, not moving.
Anwyn looked back at him a little confused, "Are you seriously not taking me with you?"
"No" Lee shook his head, "Look, I don't trust Ben after what he pulled, and Christa is focused on Omid, so I need you to look after Clem, okay?"
Anwyn rested her forehead in her right hand and sighed, but nodded, "Fine. Yeah, I can do that" As she made her way to the door, she added, "at least I don't care what I'm killing"
She glanced back at Lee and Kenny before heading back inside. Lee was looking back at her with this awful look of pity, but Anwyn just glared at the floor before closing the door behind her. In actuality, killing a person would probably be a lot harder for her than she let on, but if they were there to hurt Clementine, she would do it. And she was very good at seeing through people's bullshit.
Chapter 11: River Street Catastrophe
While Christa tended to Omid, Ben was sat on the stairs, whatever he was doing, Anwyn really didn't care; Clementine was sat back in the armchair, doodling nonsensical lines on a piece of paper with a pencil. Anwyn was sat across from her, leaning against the fireplace, spending the tense, yet bored silence sharpening her knife, completely lost in thought.
"How sharp are you trying to make that? You've been at it for almost half an hour" Christa snapped, shooting a glare at her.
Anwyn's usual instinct to snap back had just been sapped from her. It was a weird feeling of exhaustion that weighed her down.
"Sorry" she muttered, putting her knife back. Christa immediately softened her expression, slightly taken aback by Anwyn's lack of a sarcastic response.
"I'm.. I'm sorry, I snapped. I'm just tense" Christa stammered a little, "Are you okay?"
"I haven't been okay-okay in about three months, but I'll live"
"Do you mind if I ask what happened to your family?" Christa said, "Was it walkers or..?"
"A couple it was, the others starvation" Anwyn nodded, "I think my little cousin Cerri got the worst one. That's the one I always have nightmares about"
Christa and Clementine remained silent, waiting to see if she'd elaborate, but Anwyn just shook her head, "Doesn't matter. I'm fine"
"Uh, Clem, why don't you and Annie go explore the house?" Christa looked over at her, "Just stay inside and keep it down. Ben?" she called out, "can you keep an eye on them?"
"Yeah, sure" Ben said from the staircase.
"C'mon Annie" Clementine stood up and held her hand out to help Anwyn stand. She took it, but Clementine had a bit of a struggle getting her to her feet.
"We'll work on your strength" Anwyn tried to smile, "You'll be able to punch someone's lights out before you know it"
Clementine smiled back as they went up the stairs to look around. Ben stayed sitting on the lower part of the staircase, clearly thinking that just blocking the way out was enough of a 'keeping an eye on them' job.
Anwyn pushed open a double door made of glass that led to a study and started poking around. Clementine browsed the selection of books, picking out one or two every now and then and flicking through it. Anwyn rummaged through the drawers, but there was jack shit in the lot of them.
"Maybe we should continue on somewhere else?" Anwyn suggested, still holding an old paper file in one hand.
"What if we sneak out?" Clementine replied, pushing a book back to the shelf, "Follow Lee and Kenny?"
Anwyn looked at her, then smiled, "That's the Clementine I know"
"How will we get past Ben? He's right by the door" Clementine glanced towards the top of the stairs.
"We need to worry more about Christa. Ben is easy to give the slip to" Anwyn leaned against the desk.
"Ben! I need your help!" Christa shouted from the ground floor.
"Sounds like our distraction" Anwyn said as she led the way downstairs quickly. Ben and Christa were carefully picking Omid up and moving him towards the stairs. Anwyn and Clementine quickly moved out the way as they brought him upstairs.
As they rounded the corner to the bedroom, Anwyn nudged Clementine's shoulder and nodded towards the door. Quickly and quietly, they slipped out the door.
"River Street is just around the corner" Anwyn said as she pulled the gate open a little.
"What about the walkers?" Clementine muttered.
"They sound like they're moving on" Anwyn held up one hand as she looked out into the street. She was right, the herd was moving on, they were already disappearing down the other end of the street. She nodded. "C'mon"
The two girls walked as quickly as they could down the street. Anwyn made sure Clementine was right beside her, her knife in one hand, at the ready.
"Do you know how far it is to River Street?" Anwyn asked quietly, barely a whisper, "You've been here before"
"I don't really remember, but Kenny said it wasn't far"
Anwyn nodded. They turned down another street, this one was much more 'city' with closely packed brick buildings. Everything was very drab and grey, even the air felt heavy.
"This place is really starting to creep me out" Anwyn muttered.
"At least we haven't run into any walkers"
"That's what's creeping me out. This is a city, we should've run into loads, so where the hell are they?"
Anwyn shook her head. They turned another corner.
"There's the river!" Clementine pointed. She was right, at the end of this street was a very wide, slow moving river. A giant bridge came into view downriver and buildings sat on the opposite side of the river, rising out of the vague fog.
On the rightmost corner of where the street connected to the waterfront stood a kiosk, and in front of that, a person with a red and dark grey hoodie was stood over Lee with an ice pick raised.
"No!" Clementine shouted in surprise.
Anwyn immediately ran at the stranger and pounced on their back. She stabbed her knife into their shoulder as they struggled to get free. With the invigoration of being stabbed, they grabbed Anwyn by her shirt and used their back to throw her over their shoulder. She landed with a winding blow on the cobblestone. She didn't allow herself to be stopped by seeing stars, instantly rolling to her feet and facing the stranger, who she noticed was wearing a face mask, expecting an attack with the ice pick.
However, the stranger didn't attack, instead standing up straight in a non-aggressive pose, removing their hood and face mask. It was a woman with short blonde hair.
"Relax kid" she groaned as she pulled the knife from her shoulder, "shit, you got me good. I'm impressed"
Lee quickly got between Anwyn and the stranger, glancing at Anwyn without tunring away from the stranger.
"You alright Annie?"
"Yeah, fine. Just a bit winded and seeing stars a little, it'll pass" she shook her head, focusing on the ground for a second. Clementine ran to Anwyn as the stranger wrapped a bandage around the wound within seconds. Anwyn suddenly noticed a wall of bodies behind the stranger, a bunch of moving Meirw on spikes. She didn't show any alarm, but she felt extremely sickened by the sight.
"You lot aren't from Crawford" she said, tying the bandage and looking back at them.
"You're not the guy on the radio" Lee replied, with the same bland tone in his voice.
"I'm not a guy at all. Full marks for observation"
Anwyn hid a smirk. It was nice to hear some British-level sarcasm from someone. Kenny suddenly appeared from an alleyway behind the stranger, pointing a gun at her head.
"Kenny, no! It's not our guy!" Lee warned quickly. The stranger easily swept Kenny's leg, knocking him to the ground. His gun fell from his hand and went off, thankfully not hitting anyone, but riling up the Meirw on the spikes. The stranger kicked his gun away and went to attack him with the ice pick.
"No! He's with us!" Lee stopped her. The stranger halted herself and drew back up, allowing Kenny to stand. She looked back at Lee in confusion.
"Who the hell are you people?" she growled.
"I hate to interrupt this little chat, but that gunshot is gonna bring Meirw. Do we maybe wanna get the hell outta here?" Anwyn said, glancing down the street.
"We should be fine for a while, those things are at the bell, and they aren't exactly Usain Bolt" Molly reassured them, "Now I'll ask again, who the hell are you?"
"I asked you first" Lee shot back.
"The name's Molly"
"Molly, I'm Lee, that's Kenny, and this is Clementine and Anwyn. We're not looking for any trouble" Lee introduced, motioning to everyone.
"Hi" Clementine waved.
"Can I get my knife back?" Anwyn asked, slipping past Lee.
"You guys really aren't from Crawford, are you?" Molly commented as she handed the knife back.
"I don't even know what that is" Lee replied, motioning for Anwyn to keep close to him, which she did.
"Everything beyond that barricade" Molly looked over her shoulder towards the wall of dead and Meirw.
"What the hell happened here?" Lee asked, looking at the barricade as well.
"Whatever that is, that's... really fucked up" Anwyn muttered, grimacing.
"Yeah, it is. You sure you wanna know why it's there?" Molly said.
"When everything went to shit, some people got together and sealed off that whole neighborhood" Molly walked a bit closer to the barricade and looked up at the Meirw on the spikes "Folks willing to do anything to stay alive, stop the dead getting in. I try to avoid 'em"
"Why?" Kenny asked.
"Let's just say they have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who won't--or can't--live by their rules"
"So how'd you know we weren't them?"
"Because there are no children in Crawford. Not anymore"
"That is triple fucked up" Anwyn commented, shifting her weight uncomfortably.
"What do you mean, no children? Why not?" Lee asked.
"No children, no elderly, no one with an advanced medical condition. Basically no one who might be a burden on the community" Molly turned back to them "Crawford's all about the survival of the fittest. That's how they survived, while the rest of the world went to shit around them"
"Jesus Christ..." Kenny muttered, glaring at the barricade.
"Well, just the opposite, when you think about it"
"You're not saying they actually... I mean, kids?"
"No. The children, they just forced to leave, along with their parents. Left them to fend for themselves out here in the world"
"Fucking hell" Anwyn shook her head, "whoever ran the place was really sick, like, in the head"
"Yeah, he is" Molly nodded in agreement.
"How do you know all this?" Lee crossed his arms.
"Everyone in Savannah knew. What was going on inside Crawford got passed around like a ghost story. Except this one was true" Molly shrugged, but the expressionless look she gave, it was too much of a mask for Anwyn's liking. She knew she wasn't telling them everything, but Anwyn respected her, maybe even liked her a little, so she wasn't entirely fussed on that. Crawford hadn't bothered them yet, and if they only kicked out people from their own group, she couldn't care less.
"Do you know who's been ringing those bells all over town?" Lee asked, changing the subject.
"Yeah, that would be me"
" I knew it! Lee, I knew she was the one who's been following us, fucking with us!" Kenny pointed at her, getting right up in her face.
"Get that finger out of my face, grampa, before I jam it straight up your ass. I haven't been following you. I don't even know who the hell you people are" Molly shot back, looking between the four of them.
"Calm down, Kenny. The voice on the radio was a guy, remember?" Lee tried to calm the situation.
"Yeah, well, whoever you are, ringing those bells this morning nearly got us all killed, raised the dead all around us!" Kenny raised his voice again.
"That's the idea, genius. It's how I get around. I ring a bell in one neighborhood to attract the local geeks toward it, buys me some time to scavenge the ares they cleared out" Molly rolled her eyes.
"That's pretty cool" Anwyn smiled a little.
"Thanks" Molly shrugged, "Doesn't take much to outsmart the dead. Bunch of dumbasses. You just gotta move fast, get in and out before they start to wander back again"
"Noted" Anwyn muttered, keeping the idea in her head for later.
"Look, I'm gonna ask you people again: you're not from Crawford, so who the hell are you? What are you doing here?" Molly continued, looking back at Lee.
"We came down here looking for a boat, hoping to get our people out of here and find someplace safe" Lee explained.
"Yeah, good luck with that. Anyone with a boat took it out of here as soon as people started eating each other. Any that got left behind, Crawford stripped 'em for parts. Cars too"
"There's gotta be something" Kenny muttered, looking back at the river.
"Do you see anything? We're done here, we should just get the hell out of Savannah" Anwyn crossed her arms.
"Your kid is right, this whole place is picked clean. I'd advise you folks to go back to where you came from, before-"
She was cut off by the awful groaning sounds of Meirw. A herd of them, possibly hundreds, came shuffling down the street they came down.
"Great. Just great" Molly growled before she slipped past Kenny as he went to get a better look down the street.
"Isn't that the-"
"The way we came" Lee finished for him.
"Fuck! Gunshot must've brought 'em back"
"Isn't there another way back to the house?" Clementine asked, panic laced in her tone.
"Molly, is there-" Lee turned back to ask her, but she disappeared down the nearby alleyway. He ran after her, closely followed by the others. "Hey! You're just gonna leave us here?"
"Sorry, I must have missed that part of our conversation where you became my problem" Molly shouted back as she used the ice pick to climb up to a fire escape that sat well above the ground. Anwyn was impressed by the physical feat, but the part where she was abandoning them to become Meirw chow kind of took it away.
"Don't leave us here! Please?" Clementine pleaded.
Molly looked at her. She sighed before reaching down with one hand. "Come on! Make it fast!"
"Clem, you first" Anwyn pushed Clementine towards Lee, who boosted her up high enough to grab Molly's hand. Once she was safely above the danger, Lee grabbed Anwyn and hoisted her up to his shoulders. With the better height, she grabbed Molly's hand and easily got hauled up as well. When she looked back at the alleyway, Meirw were filling in from the entrance.
"Oh, fuck me..." Kenny shouted in surprise.
"Come on, come on, hurry!" Lee retorted.
Kenny ran closer. Lee put all his strength into hoisting Kenny up so Molly could grab his hand and pull him up.
"Lee! Come on!" Clementine encouraged as Kenny reached out his hand.
"Come on, man, one good jump!"
Lee leapt up and grabbed Kenny's hand, but he slipped through and fell back to the ground.
"Fuck! Lee!" Anwyn shouted.
Lee looked around the alleyway quickly and ran to the dumpster, trying to shove it out the way to open another exit. More Meirw came stumbling out of their holes, groaning and growling.
"C'mon, Lee, get your ass outta there!" Kenny shouted in panic.
"Thank you Captain Obvious!" Anwyn retorted, "Try the manhole cover!"
Lee nodded. He yanked at it, trying to free open the escape. "Gah! Can't get it open!" he growled.
"Here! Use that to pry it open!" Molly said from behind Anwyn, and she almost jumped at the suddenness of her ice pick flying past her and landing with a clatter on the ground. Lee grabbed it and got the manhole cover off in seconds. He jumped down just as Meirw converged on it.
"Lee!" Clementine shouted in dismay.
"I would suggest you guys get back to your place" Molly said.
"Yeah, C'mon" Anwyn grabbed Clementine by the hand to pull her away from the edge, "Lee's fine, he made it down. He'll meet us at the house"
Clementine stared at the crowded alleyway as Kenny followed Molly up the fire escape to the roof. Finally, she slowly turned away and followed them, Anwyn bringing up the rear. She caught herself looking back down at the alley through the gaps in the metal.
From the roof, they looked out over Savannah. In the distance sat the skyscrapers of the inner city, but the storage buildings around the dock melded into the houses into a field of rotting wood and brick. Anwyn caught sight of a couple churches and a hospital rising out of the houses, which she noted for later. Molly's use of the bells could actually be incredibly helpful to them later, so she made sure to keep the churches in mind.
Anwyn went to stand beside Molly and pointed at the house, which was right by one of the churches. "That's our place. I'm assuming you're coming with for now?"
"Gotta get Hilda back" Molly nodded, looking over the rooftops towards the house, probably triangulating how they'd get there.
"Don't judge" Molly shot back with a hint of a smirk.
"Trust me, I've seen cannibal dairy farmers and all sorts of horrifying ways to die, I don't care"
"Cannibal dairy farmers?" Molly gave her a 'seriously?' look.
"Yep. That whole thing was a nightmare, but me and Clem and Lee are still kicking so" Anwyn shrugged.
"C'mon, we should get back to the house as quick as we can" Kenny sighed. Anwyn looked back at him. He looked completely defeated, like he was ready to jump off the roof. Molly led the way to the next roof. Anwyn lagged behind a little to stick close to Clementine, who was slower purely on her size sapping any confidence she had in jumping across the gaps between the buildings.
"Don't worry Clem. You can do it" Anwyn reassured her, beckoning her to jump across the small gap between two rooftops.
Clementine jumped over quite easily and stood up straight to walk beside her, "That's not what I'm worried about"
"I'm worried too, but he can take care of himself, even without us watching his ass" Anwyn smiled reassuringly, making Clementine giggle a little.
"Fuck shit ass dick" Anwyn shot back, "I ain't stopping. Ever" she shook her head to hide laughter, "Don't worry about Lee. We'll get back to the house, and Lee will come back in a bit, and we'll take it easy for a bit"
"How long is a bit?"
"Not days, obviously, but maybe we can chill the rest of today and tonight. We can get going in the morning"
"What about my parents?"
Anwyn sighed, rubbing her temples, "Clementine..."
"Anwyn" Clementine retorted in the same tone, "what if my parents are out here and we just leave them to die here?"
"What if they're already dead and you, me or Lee get bit trying to find them?" Anwyn said, trying to dampen her tone a little, "We need to think about our safety first, it's what any of our parents would have wanted"
Clementine fell silent, but Anwyn could tell she hadn't convinced her. Great. Hopefully, all they had to worry about was Clementine being a bit of pain while they were leaving. One day, she'd realise how much of a wish finding her parents was and trust them again, and Anwyn would rather Clementine be alive and hate her, than dead or Meirw. I trust her, Anwyn thought, crazy. Haven't realised I trusted anyone like this in months. But I guess I trust her and Lee. Anwyn shrugged the thought away. Wasn't a particularly interesting or deeply personal epiphany, but it was a bit of realisation all the same. She jumped over another gap and rolled to her feet, holding her hand out to catch Clementine if she needed it.
Chapter 12: An Answered Prayer
The four of them made it back to the house in one piece. Kenny didn't say a word, just disappeared from view and reappeared a moment later with a bottle of whiskey. He collapsed on the couch, which is when Anwyn noticed Ben in the armchair. He looked at the girls and gave a sigh in relief, probably more relief from not needing to worry about death from a pissed off Lee.
Molly started rummaging through the kitchen, opening drawers and cupboards, ignoring the girls. Anwyn huffed a little as she went over to the living room.
"How's Omid?" she asked Ben, trying to keep her tone dry of any emotion.
"How should I know?" he shot back, "Alive"
Anwyn rolled her eyes. She turned back to Clementine, "I don't particularly want to be stuck inside with Douche Jr, drunk Kenny, and a possible Meirw. Wanna kill time outside?"
Clementine nodded, "Sure. We can explore that big shed"
Anwyn gave her a smile as she led the way out the door and back into the late afternoon sun. It wasn't quite orange yet, but it wouldn't be long before it was. She stopped to look up at the trees, which were gently swaying in a light breeze. The only thing she liked about all this; the quiet.
Clementine went ahead to the door of the shed. It was a huge double door, like an old wooden garage door, but it was overgrown with vines. She tried to pull it open, but it wouldn't budge more than an inch or two.
"Here, lemme try" Anwyn grabbed the handles and put all her strength into opening it. Unfortunately, she got the same result. "Fuck"
"Swear" Clementine said absent mindedly, "maybe we can cut the vines?"
"It isn't just the vines, but they aren't helping either" Anwyn muttered, glancing at the shed with a deductive look, trying to find a way inside. Clementine had a similar look, but she followed the shed around its sides.
"Annie! Over here" Clementine called her over, pointing to a vent grate hidden among the hedges.
"Nice find" Anwyn held her hand up for a high five, which Clementine did, of course. Anwyn knelt down by the grate and grabbed it awkwardly. It came off easily.
"I'll go first" she said over her shoulder before slipping through the opening, arching her back downwards like a cat. Keeping her knife in one hand, she looked around the inside of the shed. She gave a small gasp in surprise at what she found.
"What is it? Are you okay?" Clementine asked worriedly.
Anwyn quickly looked about for signs of Meirw or anything, but aside from what she found, and a toolbox, there wasn't anything.
"It's safe. Come see what we found" Anwyn replied, sheathing her knife. Clementine crawled through to see what she was talking about and gave a small gasp in shock as well.
"Is that a-?"
"Hell yes it is"
"We have a boat!" Clementine grinned, "We can still sail away to somewhere safe!"
"I wonder where we'll go" Anwyn scrambled onto the boat's deck and inspected it.
"Maybe we could go to the UK?" Clementine suggested as she started searching the rest of the shed, "Maybe we could find your dad and live somewhere hard to get to over there?"
"Well there's plenty of that" Anwyn smirked, "Wales has loads of steep valleys, and Scotland has hills and mountains and stuff. But it is also super far away, the flight was hours and hours"
"We could do it if we plan ahead"
"Maybe, but I sincerely doubt that's what we'll do" Anwyn shook her head, "I mean, why would the entire group risk a slow death at sea to try to find one random kid's dad?"
"I guess it would be a lot to ask" she shrugged, glancing over from the toolbox where she was rummaging around it.
"Honestly, I'm happy enough not knowing. Let's me have hope, y'know?" Anwyn stopped for a second, "Hang on, shush"
"What?" Clementine looked up from the toolbox, pausing her rummaging to keep it from making noise.
"I think I heard Lee" she slid off the side of the boat, "let's try to get the door open"
Anwyn pushed her entire weight against the door, but it barely moved an inch. Clementine ran over and shoved the door as well. Something was pulling on the other side, which was enough to crack through whatever was keeping the door stuck. It flung open, making Anwyn almost fall flat on her face and Clementine completely overshoot the door. After a second of recovery, they realised that Lee had been knocked back to the ground, he had been the one who tried to open the door.
"Lee!" they both grinned as they ran over and hugged him.
"What were you two doing in there?" he asked, keeping his tone neutral, but Anwyn could hear the underlying concern.
"Exploring. And look! Look what we found!" Clementine pointed at the barely open door. Anwyn quickly yanked the door open completely, revealing the boat.
"This was here the whole time?!" Lee half shouted in surprise.
"I know right? I'm losing my observation skills" Anwyn couldn't suppress a grin.
The sound of something a bit heavy hitting the grass made her look over. Kenny was stood a little ways behind them and had dropped the whiskey bottle, a small smile breaking out on his face.
"Can you get it running?" Lee asked him.
Kenny looked it over quickly, just from where he was stood, and gave a slight nod, "Have to check it out properly, but it looks in pretty good shape"
"Awesome sausome" Anwyn replied, sticking her head out from behind the boat. The notion of true safety was really beginning to sink in, which was a feeling Anwyn hadn't realised she'd felt when civilisation was still together, until it fell apart of course.
~~~~~Later that night~~~~~~
Anwyn and Clementine watched Kenny and Ben working on the boat from the study, which had apparently become their room. Clementine was sat on the windowsill, fidgeting with pencils, while Anwyn was pacing around.
"This is such bullshit!" she growled, putting more power into her strides with each step, "'Oh girls, stay in your room while we fucking discuss actual fucking plans that could get us fucking killed and leave you to fucking fend for yourselves with a dying guy' what the actual fuck?!" she mockingly recited what Lee said in a sarcastic tone. "We fucking found the fucking boat!"
"Annie! Calm down!" Clementine shot back, "too many swears to count" she added.
"I don't feel like calming down"
"Well pacing around and ranting isn't going to change anything either"
Anwyn stopped pacing and crossed her arms, gripping her upper arms until her knuckles went white.
"It makes me feel better" she took a deep breath and sat on the couch opposite the window, "Okay. Maybe not"
"Why don't we sneak downstairs and listen to what they're talking about? The stairs have that corner we can hide behind" Clementine suggested, leaning back a little.
Anwyn looked over her shoulder at Clementine, "You are way smarter than you let on" she gave a small smile, "and you are secretly devious"
Clementine hopped up from the windowsill, a devious grin on her face, and opened the double glass doors. She turned back to look at Anwyn and made a 'sh' motion. Anwyn repeated the gesture back before sneaking over to the stairs behind her. The voices from downstairs carried up to them, but now they were much closer, they could actually understand what was being said.
"Surely we have to try. If there are people left in this city who are still alive, who still have supplies...what harm can it do to ask?" that voice was Christa's. Anwyn wondered who they were talking about, but knew she could only just keep listening.
"Trust me, you don't know these people. I do. You showing up with a wounded man? Might as well put a noose around his neck. They don't exactly welcome children with open arms, either" that was the new guy. The man who had helped Lee back through the sewer system, Vernon. An elderly doctor with a small group underground. At the mention of children, Anwyn and Clementine exchanged glances.
"What the hell kind of a place are we talking about here?"
"The worst kind. But I don't see what other choice we have" Molly spoke up. Anwyn was half surprised she was still here at all.
"And just how exactly do you figure we do this? Because, from what I've heard, that place ain't exactly friendly to outsiders" Kenny asked.
"That's putting it mildly"
"There's got to be some way we can sneak in there undetected" Lee suggested. Anwyn nodded a little. That was why she respected Lee like he was her father, he was cunning and resourceful, which were traits she admired.
"There might actually be a way" Vernon replied, "I know the sewer system that runs beneath Crawford like the back of my hand. Y'all wouldn't happen to have a map by any chance?"
"Yeah, actually" Anwyn heard the sound of the map being unfolded, probably the one they looked at when they were on the train.
"I think I could lead us through so we could pass under the perimeter and right into the center, where they keep their supplies. We come up right underneath 'em, take 'em by surprise, grab what we need and get out before they even knew what hit 'em"
"That's actually not the worst idea I've ever heard. I mean, it's close. But I don't know...maybe it could work" Molly commented.
"I've thought about it before, just never had the people to do it. But I think if we all work together, we could pull it off"
"And what do you want in return for all this help you're giving us?" Kenny asked, a hint of suspicion in his voice.
"Crawford doesn't just have what you need for your boat, they're also well-stocked with medical supplies. Medicine that my people could use, just as yours could"
"We can do this. I know it" Lee reassured the group.
"Hell yeah, we can" Kenny instantly agreed.
"Are we seriously talking about this? I mean, what about the risk?" Ben's voice, which still cracked now and then, made Anwyn tense a little. She still sorely hated him.
"I don't know about you, kid, but I'd rather take a chance on doing something than just sitting around here waiting to die. That boat out there is an answered prayer, we just gotta push a little bit farther. Are you in or out?" Kenny couldn't keep the sense of irritation out of his voice. Ben didn't say anything , Anwyn thought he had just muttered something, but no. He was silent.
"We should go tonight, under cover of dark. I'll go let my people know, give you all a chance to prepare. I'll be back before midnight" Vernon's voice traveled to the door, which was opened.
"Be careful" Christa said quickly.
"That's how I'm still alive" Vernon replied before the sound of the closing door signaled his departure.
The group began to spread out around the house, doing their own thing, when Lee suddenly turned the corner and spotted Clementine and Anwyn listening in.
"I told you two to stay in your room. How long have you been there?" he asked, not unkindly.
"We're part of the group too, Lee" Anwyn replied, "that little chat you all had affects us too, so why can't we have a say? Or even hear it?"
"Fair point" Lee muttered.
"Is it going to be dangerous?" Clementine asked.
"It's going to be super dangerous" Anwyn answered for Lee, "which is why I'm pissed he's leaving us out the conversation"
"I can't lie to you, Annie's right. It's gonna be dangerous. But it's the only way to get the things we need to make Omid better, and get the boat working. That's why we have to do this. Do you understand?" Lee tried to explain to Clementine, "And it's not that I'm leaving you out, I just don't want you to worry" he turned to Anwyn.
"Tch" she huffed, "not worry my ass" she muttered, crossing her arms.
"I just don't want anyone else to die" Clementine said, looking unendingly sad.
"No one does, Clem" Anwyn relaxed her arms.
"I certainly don't, but sometimes we have to take that kind of risk" Lee added.
"I guess we should go get ready" Clementine stood up and turned to face the top of the stairs. Anwyn pushed away from leaning on the banister to follow her.
"Uh, say what now?" Lee stuttered in surprise.
"You said you'd need all of us to do this. And you said I'm a big help and Annie's saved your life, remember? Molly said Crawford is the only place left in Savannah that still has people. That means it must be where my mom and dad are, right?" Clementine protested.
"Where I'm going, it's just too dangerous. For children, especially"
"Fuck that!" Anwyn retorted, "I can see why you might want to leave Clementine-"
"Sorry Clem, but me? Of all people?"
"Can't we come with you?" Clementine added, a slight hint of desperation in her voice.
"No. I'm sorry"
"Neither of us?" Anwyn growled.
"Neither of you"
Anwyn glared at him, "Fine" she spat, "I'll look after Clementine then, since you are leaving her with no one else" she turned and went past Clementine, headed for their room, "C'mon"
Clementine didn't even look at Lee, just followed Anwyn. She collapsed on the couch, lying on her back and stared at the ceiling, Clementine sitting across from her on the windowsill. Anwyn took deep, steady breaths.
"Are you okay?" Clementine asked.
"I'm trying to calm down" Anwyn said between breaths, "I would suggest following them, but.." she paused a second, "I think Lee's right"
"Really? I thought you'd want to be in the centre of the action" Clementine replied with an amused tone.
"Don't get me wrong, I want to be there to help out, but it will be uber dangerous if you go and I ain't leaving you on your own"
"Gee thanks" Clementine shrugged, "I don't think I could handle being by myself"
"We can work on your strength and confidence" Anwyn waved one hand, "you'll be fine"
"Easier said than done"
At the dead of night, the group gathered in the back garden, preparing to leave. Molly was crouched over by the fence, studying the map closely, Christa was prepping a few clips and loading her gun, Lee was looking over the group, and Kenny and Ben were searching around the shed. Clementine and Anwyn were close to the door, not properly part of everything, but too curious to stay inside.
"Check out what I found in the garage" Kenny said as he appeared from the shed "Hatchet, hacksaw, some other tools. Might come in handy on this little break-in"
"Nice" Lee replied.
"Can I talk to you a minute?" Kenny said quietly to Lee. The two of them skirted off to one side of the garden and muttered inaudibly.
"What do you think that's about?" Clementine asked.
"No clue" Anwyn shrugged, "Maybe there's something wrong with the boat?" she shook her head quickly, "nah, he'd just say if there was"
The screeching of the metal gate opening made everyone look over. That guy, Vernon, and returned with a woman. She was young and slightly chubby with long hair. She didn't particularly scream 'survivor' to Anwyn.
"Who the hell is this?" Kenny asked in a semi-aggressive tone.
"This is Brie, she can help us" Vernon introduced.
"Good, we're gonna need all the help we can get" Lee nodded. Anwyn shot him a glare, which he didn't notice.
"I was a student at the school where Crawford keeps their supplies. I know the layout" Brie explained.
"With her help, we're in and out faster. Anyone got a problem with that?" Vernon's tone of voice didn't read as confrontational, but Anwyn could tell he would become annoyed with whoever did.
"I guess not" Lee replied.
"Then what are we waiting for? Let's get moving" Molly led the group towards the gate.
"Hold up just a sec" Lee said, turning to Clementine and Anwyn, "You two understand why you have to stay behind, don't you?"
"I guess" Clementine muttered dejectedly.
"Annie?" Lee added, looking at her while she was leaned against the wall with her arms crossed.
"Plus, you both have jobs to do. Important jobs. I need you two to stay here and watch over the house, watch over Omid" Lee explained, "And I want you both to look out for each other, like we said on the train" Lee pulled his pistol and handed it Clementine, "Clem on distance, Annie on close"
Clementine took the gun carefully with a nod.
"You remember how to use it, don't you? It's just like I showed you" Lee added.
"I remember" Clementine reassured him as she held it in both hands.
"So if anyone tries to get inside the house that isn't one of us...or if something does happen to Omid..."
"We know what to do" Anwyn nodded a little, "We'll be fine. It's you lot we gotta worry about" she added with a weak smile.
Lee hugged them both, which properly brought out Anwyn's anxiety about the trip. If Lee were to die tonight, she would have to completely step up in looking after Clementine, and she would take a bullet for her, but she wanted to have that kind of person for her for a little while longer.
"Let's get you inside" Lee said as he opened the door. Anwyn glanced back as it eased shut, watching Lee disappear around the corner and into the darkness.
Chapter 13: Nightmares
Clementine was asleep on the couch in the study, almost silent, tucked under a blanket Anwyn had taken from one of the other bedrooms. The gun was lying on the floor beside her, out of her grip but within reach. Anwyn was sat on the corner of the stairs, her knife resting on her lap. She kept watch on both the outer door and the upstairs landing, in case Omid didn't make it and his corpse wandered out.
With no one to talk to, Anwyn was incredibly bored. After a while, she'd started doodling on paper, but it filled up pretty quickly, leaving her bored once more.
She wanted to let Clementine get some sleep and keep her safe at the same time, but Anwyn was starting to feel her eyelids getting heavier and keeping them open was making her eyes sting a little.
She tried pacing around upstairs, but that made her feel even more tired. Every step felt like more and more effort, and her brain constantly took far too long to reach simple solutions and her usual random intrusive thoughts became increasingly bizarre and dream-like. With a deep sigh, she took another blanket and returned to the study. Silently, she closed the two doors and lay down by the window, hoping the moonlight would keep her from heavy sleep.
It felt like she was floating for a second. She couldn't sense anything.
When she opened her eyes, she was on a rooftop and it was late afternoon. Strange. She looked around, trying to find where she was. It was Macon by the look of it.
"Annie! C'mon!" a voice shouted from behind her. Someone, a young female, had ran past her, and Anwyn was too slow in turning around to spot her. Was that Clementine? In turning around, however, she saw the door to the stairs. It was shaking from being beaten by the Meirw.
"Shit" she muttered before running to the roof edge. She easily leapt to the next building.
She jumped a few more rooftops until she was at the end of the street and looked back, feeling sweat running down her face in the hot sun. It felt like being in an oven, so Anwyn wiped her forehead and opened the door to the stairs. It was empty inside, so she went in to shelter from the heat. But the inside was just as bad as the outside, and completely black.
"Why couldn't you help?" a voice, that girl, echoed around the darkness. Anwyn looked around, trying to find where is was coming from, but all she could see was the uncomfortably warm blackness. A light started flickering overhead, allowing her to see the room. There was nothing there, just blank walls, but behind her, a blurry figure was stood, facing away from her. Anwyn came a little closer, terror coursing through her veins. She had an awful sinking feeling who this was as the figure came slowly into focus. It was a young female, much shorter than Anwyn, with messily cut, raven black hair.
"Cerri?" Anwyn reached out her hand to touch her shoulder. As she did so, the figure whirled around unnaturally, no inertia, just stopping dead in front of her face, making Anwyn jump back. It was her young cousin, Cerridwen, but it was like she was just pieces being held together by bloody clothes, her face itself was a mess of blood and exposed skull. Her eyes were milky white and dull instead of those pretty emerald green ones that her and Anwyn shared.
"You're a failure" Cerridwen growled, a horrific rasp coming from her throat, like a mix of a Meirw gurgling and her normal voice, "You left me behind" she started advancing on Anwyn, who in turn, began retreating, still facing her.
"No! That's not- I tried- I tried to help!" Anwyn stuttered, completely unsure of what to do, "How was I supposed to help?!"
"You couldn't protect me" Cerridwen hissed, getting much closer, forcing Anwyn's back to the wall, "You can't protect her"
"Stop!" Anwyn closed her eyes and covered her ears, "Shut up!"
"She'll die, just like me" Cerridwen's eerily calm voice seemed to bounce around her head, "And it will be your fault"
Anwyn sunk to the ground, curled into a ball. Cerridwen's words seemed to echo everywhere. "Your fault. Your fault. Your fault. Your fault"
"My fault" Anwyn muttered, tears brimming in her eyes, "It was all my fault"
She looked up at Cerridwen, or whatever creature was stood before her that resembled her cousin. It was staring at her, emotionless. In the blink of an eye, it fell. The floor beneath it was gone. Anwyn lunged forward, trying to grab her hand, but she didn't even come close to touching it. As she looked down, Cerridwen was as she remembered, young and hopeful and full of life. And she screamed for help. Screamed for Anwyn, as Meirw tore her apart. The crevasse filled with more of those things, overflowing upwards towards Anwyn. She fell onto her back, crawling backwards away from them. Faces filled the crowd. Cerridwen, Ashley, her mother, her aunts, even Carley, Katjaa, and Duck. They stalked towards her, jaws gnashing and clawed hands outstretched.
"You failed us, Annie" they said in unison, "You'll fail them"
"Leave me alone!" Anwyn shouted back, but her voice was hoarse and being drowned out by the noise.
The faces changed to other people. Christa, Omid, even Molly, as well as Kenny, Lee, and at the front, Clementine.
"Will you let us die?"
"Wake up" another voice rose from the noise, "Annie! Wake up!" it was a nicer voice than all this. "Annie!" It was Clementine. The realisation hit her like a ton of bricks. It was Clementine's voice, and she needed her. She looked at the awful undead Clementine stood in front of her and clenched her fists.
"You aren't her" she muttered.
Anwyn jolted awake. Clementine was knelt beside her, a half panicked look on her face, and was shaking Anwyn.
"Annie! Annie! Wake up!" she was whispering. Anwyn sat bolt upright, the blanket on her torso falling to the ground.
"What is it?" she tried to ignore the line of sweat on her forehead and the tremble in her hands as she rose to her feet.
"There's a walker downstairs!" Clementine said, looking frantically behind her at the staircase, "I heard it outside and I tried to deal with it but I got scared at the last second and it got inside" she blurted out.
"Woah, woah, calm down Clem" Anwyn tried to calm her, placing her hands on Clementine's shoulders, "Is the door closed?"
Clementine shook her head, "It bashed the door open and I just hid and ran upstairs as soon as it wasn't looking"
"Fucking hell, that must've been scary" Anwyn quickly stretched and pulled out her knife, "Stay up here, I'll take care of it"
Anwyn slipped out the room and made sure to close the double doors behind her. She crept to the bannister and looked downstairs. The back door was swinging open a little, but it was pretty dark, so it would be hard to tell from the outside. There was a single Meirw shuffling around in the kitchen, and Anwyn heard nothing else in the rest of the house.
She kept herself low, behind the bannister, and made her way slowly downstairs. The creature didn't do much, just shuffled around the place like it was bored and looking around for a meal. Anwyn reached the wooden floorboards and stayed behind the big post at the end of the stairs. She gave it a moment until the thing turned around, facing the living room. Quick as lightning, she crept behind it and shoved it forward. It fell flat on its stomach, but was already moving to grab her. Anwyn was too fast, as soon as she'd regained her balance, she stabbed it's head with her knife.
"Aros yn farw" she muttered as she stood up straight. Quickly and quietly, she shut the back door properly and went through the entire ground floor. It was empty. With a sigh of relief, she went to the stairs.
"Are you okay? Did you get it?" Clementine peeked out from the top of the stairs.
"Yeah, I got it, it's safe" Anwyn replied as she reached the first floor, "and I'm fine"
Clementine breathed a sigh of relief as well. As she looked back down the stairs, she gave a look that was a mix of annoyance and guilt.
"Y'alright?" Anwyn asked, leaning against the bannister beside her.
"I almost did it, but I didn't!" Clementine muttered, "and instead, it got in and could've killed me and you and Omid. What if you weren't here?"
"Clem, I'm sure if you were on your own, you'd have shot it" Anwyn nodded, "you can do that kind of thing when you have to, I know you can, but I guess you knew you had me as a safety net so there wasn't as much pressure"
"But I might not always have you though" Clementine sighed, "I should've done it"
"Don't worry Clem, you will" Anwyn nudged her shoulder. "But I am still super tired and the sun is gonna come up in a few hours so I'm gonna try to get some more sleep" she turned and made her way back to the study.
"You were talking really loud in your sleep again" Clementine mused, "it's why I woke up"
"Oh, sorry" Anwyn glanced back as she slipped through the double doors, "What did I say?"
"You were muttering about something being your fault and when I tried to wake you up you said 'you're not her' which was super creepy" Clementine said, a hint of a smile on her face.
"Sorry, sorry. I think when I have really bad nightmares I talk louder" Anwyn thought aloud as collapsed on the windowsill again and dragged the blanket over her torso and head.
"Night Annie" Clementine said as she sat back down on the couch, "hope you don't have any more nightmares"
~~~The following morning~~~
In the early hours of the morning, Anwyn was woken again by more nightmares. These ones were very strange, they were of her eating dinner back at the St. John dairy, but the hosts were her parents and no matter how much she tried, she couldn't stop Clementine from eating the food.
She shook her head to clear her thoughts and looked out the window. It was still pretty dark, but a soft line of orange light was visible along the horizon. She didn't see the point in trying to sleep again, so she stood up and stretched. Clementine was out cold on the couch, and aside from a little twitching, there was no sign that she was going to wake up.
Anwyn slipped out the room as quiet as she could and snuck over to the children's room across the landing, which was where Omid was resting. She stuck her head around the door and looked over at Omid, who was lying on the bed. She watched him for a second, trying to tell if he was breathing. From this distance, she couldn't tell, so she kept one hand on her knife and entered the room. Slowly, she crept closer, not blinking, the adrenaline helping her wake up better. Only a few steps away from the bed, she noticed his chest rising and falling lightly. She stopped in her tracks and let out the breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding. Shaking her head a little at her worry, she backed out the room and shut the door quietly. When she returned to the study, she sat back down on the windowsill and kept watch on the back garden in case of a repeat of what had happened that night.
Anwyn glanced around the entire view she had, from the other houses to the street to the gar-
She snapped back to the street. There was a person by the fence. It was hard to tell whether it was a Meirw or a person, all she could see was a shadow, but it was stood up straight and far too still to be a Meirw. And were they... watching her? She squinted and leaned forward a little, trying to make it out, but it looked like whoever it was was staring at her. A horrible chill ran up her spine, her guts twisted, and her heart hammered in her chest as the thought rattled around in her mind. She strained her eyes to try and see if she was wrong, if it was just a Meirw. The figure suddenly turned and ran down the street, disappearing around the corner.
Anwyn didn't move, she couldn't stop staring at the corner. All she could hear was her heart beat, blood rushing in her ears.
A hand on her shoulder made her jump so hard she fell off the windowsill, landing on her back and knocking the wind out of her.
"Oh jeez" Clementine leapt back, "Are you okay?"
"Wh- Okay? I am the opposite of okay" Anwyn scrambled to her feet, "Someone was watching us. Watching me. From the street" she pointed out the window to the spot the figure had been stood.
Clementine looked to where she was pointing, "I don't see anyone..."
"They ran off, which is something that Meirw don't do!" Anwyn's voice rose a bit in panic.
Clementine looked at her startled a little, "You sound scared, like, actually scared"
"Of course I'm fucking scared!"
"But you've never sounded scared before"
Anwyn took a few deep breaths, "Meirw, I can handle. They're dumb, slow, easy to give the slip. Strangers aren't that bad when the group is here. Or Lee at least. But a stranger watching me? Stalking us? When we're alone?" Anwyn gave a great shudder.
"Well, they ran off. Like you said. And Lee will be back soon" Clementine looked out the window again.
Anwyn paced around the room a little, "Clem, stay away from the window"
Clementine glanced at her, looked back out the window for a second, and nodded. She sat back down on the sofa.
"What did the person look like? Could you tell?" Clementine asked, watching Anwyn as she paced back and forth.
"No, it was too dark" Anwyn shook her head, "It was hard to tell, but I think it may have been a guy"
"It could just be my friend from the radio" Clementine muttered.
"That doesn't make me feel better" Anwyn said, "I just-"
"Omid?!" a shout came from downstairs.
"Clementine?! Anwyn?!" another one, it sounded like Lee.
The two girls ran over to the top of the stairs.
"You're alive!" Anwyn smiled.
"And you made it back!" Clementine added as she followed Anwyn down the stairs.
"Told you I would, didn't I?" Lee replied.
"Did you find my parents?"
"No, we didn't. I'm sorry, sweet pea, I looked for them, but...no" Lee knelt beside them and gave her an apologetic look. Clementine glanced at Anwyn before looking away.
"Girls, what happened here?" Christa took a few steps forward, eyeing the dead Meirw.
"That thing chased Clem inside, but I took care of it" Anwyn answered, patting her sheathed knife.
"It tried to get upstairs, but I guess it lost interest when it couldn't see me" Clementine added.
"Upstairs? Omid..." Christa pushed past the both of them and ran upstairs.
"You two did good" Lee nodded, "Hey, what do you say we go check on Omid?"
Anwyn led the group upstairs and into the room Omid was sleeping in. When they entered, Christa was knelt beside Omid, reaching out for him.
"Christa? Everything okay?" Lee asked nervously.
"Omid..." she took his hand and went to move even closer. From this distance, Anwyn couldn't tell if Omid was breathing or not, and a horrible sinking feeling in her gut made her feel extremely uncomfortable.
"Christa, maybe it's best to not get so close" Anwyn took a step forward, but Lee put his arm out a little to stop her. He carefully pushed her back a little so he was stood between her and Omid, which he did with Clementine as well. The two of them watched everything cautiously from behind him.
"I never should have left you... I'm so sorry..." Christa muttered.
"Christa, get away from him!" Vernon commanded, pushing forward.
"Hey. Back already?" Omid raised his head, his voice a little shaky.
"We got you medicine" Christa breathed a sigh of relief.
"Good, feel like I could use some" He took some pills that Vernon held out to him and swallowed them. He relaxed for a second, before raising his head again and looking around the room at everyone. "You okay, kid? You look worse than I do" he said to Ben. Anwyn glanced back at him. Omid was right, he looked like he hadn't slept in days and was ready to jump off the roof.
What do I care? He could've gotten Clementine killed. Let him jump, she thought, trying to squash the pity.
"We almost didn't make it out of there because of this asshole. Shoulda left him behind when we had the chance" Kenny growled, venom oozing from every syllable.
"At least he's consistent" Anwyn spat, turning her head a little in Ben's direction, but refusing to look at him.
"Guys, what the hell happened out there?" Omid looked around out the group with a nervous expression.
"Let someone else tell you, I got work to do" Kenny shoved past everyone and out the room.
"Why's Kenny so pissed all of a sudden?" Anwyn watched him go.
"He found out something not so good" Lee said quickly.
"Okay, with a little luck you should start feeling better pretty soon. I'll stay here for a few more hours to check on him. Let me know if you need anything" Vernon interrupted as he spoke to Omid and Christa. They both thanked him profusely as he stood up and looked at Lee, "Maybe now's a good time for you and me to have a little talk. In private"
He and Lee lagged behind everyone else as they slipped out the room, while Anwyn and Clementine returned to the study. Clementine sat by the window and watched Kenny as he started working in the shed. Anwyn closed the door behind them and sat beside her.
"What if it's true?" Clementine muttered, "what if my parents are..."
Anwyn remained silent, she just let her trail off. Clementine looked at her for a second before her face fell and she looked away again.
"I-" Anwyn started, "I don't know" she shook her head. She wanted to say what she always said. That they were gone. That she should move on. But just the sad look on Clementine's face was like her arm was being ripped off, so she remained silent.
"If it helps," Anwyn said quietly, "I know how bad it hurts. If you want to be left alone, just say and I'll go help Kenny or something"
"I don't know what I want" Clementine muttered, "I don't think I want to be alone just yet"
Anwyn nodded as she returned to looking out the window. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the red from Molly's hoodie hop over the metal fence before disappearing.
The sound of the study door opening made them both look over. Lee had pushed it open.
"Hey sweet peas" he smiled.
"Where's Molly going?" Anwyn asked quickly, "I saw her jump over the fence"
"Molly's leaving. For good. She didn't want to be around a group"
Anwyn felt something strange. Grief? No. Betrayal? Maybe? Disappointment? It felt like that, but ten times worse.
"Oh" Anwyn sighed a little, "I kinda liked her"
"She wanted me to tell you goodbye for her, if that makes you feel any better"
Anwyn didn't say anything.
"Kenny's working on the boat" Clementine commented, looking back out the window. "What are we going to do? After he fixes it? Where will we go?"
"Someplace else. Someplace better" Lee reassured her, kneeling beside the two girls. "Clem, honey...what's wrong?" Anwyn looked over at Clementine. She had the same look on her face that she had before, but this one was so much worse.
"Is Ben going to be okay? He doesn't seem the same, since he got back" Clementine changed the subject slightly. Anwyn was sure Clementine worried about him a little, but not this much.
"Ben's a good kid. I think he's just feeling guilty, about some of the decisions he's made. He's gotten to feeling like he's a burden on the rest of us"
"He is" Anwyn snapped a little.
"Annie, Ben's still a kid. Not everyone can survive this like you can, you just gotta give him a bit of breathing room, okay?" Lee replied gently.
Anwyn shook her head a little, "He won't survive"
"Before we leave tomorrow, will we have time to look for my parents?" Clementine asked, finally showing her true worries.
"We can't, Clem. I'm sorry" Lee said.
"But they're in Crawford somewhere! They have to be!" Clementine's voice became a little louder and more panicked.
"Clementine. I know you don't want to give up on them. But Crawford's just like every other place now. If you parents are there...they won't be like you remember them" Lee tried to explain, "And they won't remember you at all"
Clementine looked down, tears brimming in her eyes. Anwyn guessed it finally had hit her. Her parents were dead. Clementine turned back to the window and let out a sob.
"I'm sorry, Clementine. I'm so sorry..." Lee reached out to comfort her, as did Anwyn, but Clementine pulled away from them and curled up on her side.
"I think she wants to be alone" Anwyn muttered, sliding off the windowsill and opening the door, "I'll be.. around, I guess" without another word, she slipped out the room and went down the stairs. Trying to find something to get her mind off everything, she went over to the shed and tapped on the open door. "Need a hand?"
Kenny looked up and smiled a little, "Hey Annie. Yeah, I could always use some help"
Anwyn smiled back as she hopped up on the boat, beside where Kenny was stood, and knelt down to see the engine as Kenny started explaining what he needed help with.
~~~A little while later~~~
The sun had well and truly come up. After a while of helping out Kenny, the boat was good to go, so Anwyn came back inside. Her first instinct was to go check on Clementine, but she crushed it quickly and stayed downstairs instead. She sat, stretched out on the couch, and went back to doodling in her little notebook thing.
She heard footsteps coming down the stairs. From the sound of them, it wasn't Clementine, but she looked back anyway. It was Lee.
"Annie, have you seen Clem?" he asked quickly, a small panicked tone in his voice.
"No, is she not in the study?"
"I fell asleep on the couch and when I woke up, she was gone. Along with the radio" he added. Anwyn's eyes widened a little.
"Shit, we gotta find her" she jumped up and followed him into the backyard.
"Clementine? Clementine!" they both shouted.
"Oh fuck" Anwyn muttered. Her gaze had landed on Clementine's hat, which was sat beside the shed door.
"What, what is-" Lee saw it too, "Oh god" he went over and picked it up.
"You don't think-"
"Wait" Lee held up one hand, "Clem?" he stood up and went over to the fence.
Anwyn quickly followed him and looked up and down the street. Then she heard was Lee must have heard. The radio crackling. They both jumped the fence and locked eyes on the radio. It was sat near a trash pile, and it was definitely Clementine's. Lee lead the way to the rubble and bent over to pick up the radio.
Clattering and teeth and rotting flesh! It was a blur. A Meirw lunged at Lee from behind a piece of board. He shoved it back quickly as Anwyn sunk her knife into it's skull, killing it.
"Aros yn farw" she muttered, "Y'alright?" she turned back to Lee, who was holding his left arm and staring at his wrist. "Lee?"
"No...no...oh, fuck" he said.
"...Lee?" Anwyn's voice became much quieter, and she had a horrible, sinking feeling that made her feel her age properly. She slowly went over to Lee and looked at his wrist. Teeth marks underneath running blood. Anwyn opened her mouth to say something. "No. It isn't- Your not- You can't-"
She couldn't form the words in her head. But there it was, plain as day on Lee's wrist. A Meirw bite. It was only a matter of time now. Lee was going to die.
Chapter 14: Consequences
"Lee? Lee? You out here? Lee?" Christa's voice didn't register at first, but Christa, Omid, Kenny, and Ben, appeared around the corner of the house and approached them. The voices, all the talking, it was like trying to see in fog, it was impossible to tell what was going on, who was saying what.
"Are you crazy? What are you doing out here, it ain't safe!"
"Lee, where's Clementine? She's not in her room!"
"Vernon ain't in the house either! What the hell is going on?"
"Whose blood is that?"
"It's mine" Lee's voice broke through the haze a little. He turned to the group and showed them the bite.
"Oh, my god..." Christa stared at it, then shot a worried look at Anwyn.
"We- We gotta find- We gotta... We gotta do something!" Anwyn looked around the group quickly, "I can't let Lee die!"
"There's no time to worry about me" Lee said with a shake of his head "Clementine's gone"
"There's no chance she just wandered off on her own?" Omid asked.
"No. No way, I was downstairs the whole time" Anwyn shook her head, "Whoever took her must've snuck in. Or she- She must've- She must've snuck past me" she looked away down the street. "At least getting out the house, she didn't want me to find her" Anwyn felt a stab of betrayal as she said those words. Clementine had abandoned them, abandoned her. Anger and guilt surged in her as well. What had Anwyn done to make Clementine ditch her? All she had done for the past three months was protect and care for her. Yet apparently, she trusted a random guy on a radio and herself being on her own, over Anwyn or Lee or even the group. It left a horrible taste in her mouth, like metal.
"Then who the hell took her?" Kenny broke into her thoughts. Anwyn shrugged, not knowing whether Clementine had ditched them or if someone had taken her. She desperately wanted to believe the latter, but that nagging voice and gut feeling told her that it wasn't completely that.
"I don't know. Last night Vernon came to me and offered to take her with him. Said she'd be better off" Lee explained.
"Son of a bitch. I knew we couldn't trust that fucker" Kenny spat.
"I think it was that guy" Anwyn said, "the one me and Lee saw by the fence. What if it was the guy on the radio?"
"We should go back to Vernon's first. He did say he would take her, and he didn't take it kindly when I told him to get out" Lee shook his head, "besides, we have no idea where the guy on the radio would be"
"Lee's right" Kenny nodded. Lee looked at Christa and Omid expectantly.
"We're all responsible for Clementine. And in your condition, you may not make it to her in time. She needs our help. ALL of our help" Christa said, looking around at everyone.
"Damn right. We can't let you do this alone" Omid added with a nod.
"So that's settled then. We'll look for Clementine together"
"Hell yeah. What're we waiting for?"
"Thank you" Anwyn said, "We'll need all the help we can get to get her back"
"You've always been there for me, Lee. Always had my back when it mattered. What kind of friend would I be if I wasn't there for you now?" Kenny said, "Bitten or not, I'm with you to the end. You can count on me"
"What about you, Ben?" Lee looked over at Ben, who was stood at the back of the group and looked completely out of place.
"Now hold on a minute, you're not really thinking about bringing him with us, are you?" Kenny protested.
"Yeah, I'm with Kenny. That asshat is probably gonna end up ditching her the second things get hairy" Anwyn nodded, glaring at Ben.
"Ben, I'm sorry. But I need Kenny on this. Maybe you should stay with the boat" Lee said.
"Okay. Sure" Ben didn't look like he even wanted to argue.
"Just don't fucking lay a finger on it, y'hear?" Kenny spat.
"Okay, guys. We should go find Vernon. See if he took her. Let's head out" Lee looked down the street.
"Are we okay just leaving the boat like this, with Ben to look after it?" Anwyn asked, motioning towards the shed.
"What choice do we have?" Christa said.
"If anything has happened to that boat when we get back, I will fucking bury you in that backyard. Are we clear?" Kenny growled at Ben, getting right in his face. Ben just looked down and nodded a little.
"C'mon" Lee said, beckoning for everyone to follow. Ben disappeared back into the shed as Lee led the way down the street, Anwyn close behind.
"Do you think Clem ditched us?" Anwyn asked Lee quietly.
"What? Of course not! Do you?"
"I don't want to" Anwyn shook her head, "But it kinda feels like it"
"She probably didn't want to. Whoever took her must've lured her outside first"
Anwyn kept watch on the houses as they made their way down the street and didn't say anything.
~~~A short while later~~~
Lee had led them through the sewers, which absolutely reeked of rotting waste and corpses, to where the morgue that Vernon and his group were holed up. Underneath a broken ladder that should've been a way out, Lee pulled away some big metal sign to reveal a hole in the wall. Past the sign was some kind of room stacked with cans of food and water.
"What the hell is this place?" Anwyn whispered, looking through the cans.
"Before you were born there was a cold war between the US and the Soviet Union" Lee explained, "A lotta people were scared it would turn into an actual nuclear war, so they made nuclear shelters. I'm pretty sure this is one of them"
"Wild" Anwyn tried to pick up a small metal sign beside a door that read 'Danger, Nuclear Fallout', "I wish this could fit in my backpack"
Lee put his finger to his lips in a 'shush' motion and reached for the door opposite the opening into the sewer. He drew his gun right before he pushed in open. The group followed him out the room and into the morgue, but the place was completely lifeless. It was cold and dark, no people were there, none of Vernon's group at least. What few things they had left behind were strewn about the place.
"Where the hell are they?" Lee growled, looking around.
"Looks like they got out of here in a hurry" Kenny commented.
"Vernon! Get out here! There doesn't have to be any trouble here, all I want is the girl! Give her back and nobody needs to get hurt!" Lee's shouts echoed off the dirty-white tiles.
There was no reply at all, it was deadly silent. Lee sighed and leaned against one of the tiled beds in the middle of the room, his head in his hands.
"What do we do now?" Anwyn asked quietly, although the silence made it feel like she had shouted it.
"I don't know" Lee said.
Anwyn fell silent and instead tried to distract herself by looking around a little for anything useful. However, the silence was sounding less silent. From the tiny slitted windows that sat far above their heads, Anwyn could hear Meirw. A lot of Meirw. She looked up and saw what must have been hundreds of them, wandering around the street.
"Great" she growled to herself.
The radio, which was sitting on Lee's belt, suddenly crackled.
"Lee?" Clementine's voice cracked through the static, making Anwyn's pulse go so fast she could hear the blood in her ears.
"Clementine! Are you alright? Where are you? Vernon, you son of a bitch" Lee yanked the radio as fast as possible and half shouted into it.
"Hello, Lee" a horrible, slithery voice broke the static. It was a man, the guy who had been talking to Clementine before, and the one who Anwyn had a horrible feeling had been stalking and watching them.
"Where have you taken her?" Lee snapped back, panic creeping into his voice.
"This isn't Vernon. And you should really watch your tone" the stranger retorted, "Clementine's fine. But if I were you, I'd choose my next words VERY carefully"
Lee clicked the button on the radio to reply, but paused for a second, a look of complete panic on his face. "Please don't hurt her"
"Hurt her? I'm not the one who hurts people. There's an ocean of dead between you and me and her, and if I can thank God for anything anymore, it's that" the radio suddenly cut out, leaving them back in the sound of Meirw.
"If he lays a fucking finger on her, I will disembowel him" Anwyn hissed, fists clenched.
"Don't worry, kiddo. We'll get her back" Kenny reassured her, but she could tell there was anger in him too.
"How's that feeling?" Christa asked, motioning towards Lee's wrist.
"It doesn't matter. It is what it is" Lee said, looking over at Anwyn, who was giving him a worried look, "don't worry about it"
"I lost my entire family because of me, of course I'm fucking worried" Anwyn retorted, a little harsher than she meant, "I can't lose you too"
That sound of Meirw became increasingly louder. Anwyn spun around to the way they had come in. Meirw were seeping past the whole in the wall and were making their way towards the door.
"We don't have much time" Christa said in a half alarm tone.
"We're about to have a lot less! We'll all make sure nothing gets in. You're still the smartest fucker outta all of us- try to find another way out of here" Kenny shouted as he, Christa and Omid slammed the door shut, aiming their weapons in case anything got through.
"Annie, help me with the elevator" Lee said as he ran over to the bronze double doors up a slight rise in the floor, behind a counter of shelves. Anwyn ran after him. Lee tried to pry open the elevator doors, "I can't get my hands in between the doors. See if you can find something to get it open"
"Like what?" Anwyn said, already going back around to check the cupboards.
"I dunno, anything" Lee shrugged as he joined her. He opened one cupboard to reveal a weird looking metal tool. "I think it's some sort of spreading device. Grosses me out just looking at it" Lee muttered as he took it. Anwyn grabbed his hand to tilt the tool so she could see it better.
"It's used to open rib cages, kinda like a car jack" Anwyn corrected, "my dad needed surgery once"
"Egh, you didn't watch?"
"Course not, they had one of these in the doctor's office and I asked. Coincidence" she let go of his hand and went back over to the elevator.
Lee wedged the rib spreader in between the doors, "I'll have these doors open in two seconds!" he shouted to the others. Just as he started to force the doors open, he was swaying backwards, gripping his head.
"Shit!" Anwyn tried to grab him, but she was too late. He fell down the rise and onto the tiles, not moving.
"Fuck! Is he alive?" Kenny shouted, shoving a bunch of crap in front of the door before running over.
"He's still breathing! He's still breathing!" Anwyn said, falling to her knees beside him, but not knowing what to do next.
"Shit, this is bad..." Omid muttered.
"Help me move him!" Christa commanded, picking him up. Anwyn jumped in to help get him onto one of the tables.
"Fuck. What do we do?" Anwyn asked quietly, staring at Lee's limp body and shallow breaths, "Is he-"
"No" Christa cut her off, "If we-" she looked around quickly, "if we amputate it, maybe it'll stop the spread"
"Amputating is no small feat, he could bleed to death"
"We'll use a tourniquet, but other than, it's a risk we gotta take" Christa said as she picked up said tool from a counter along with a bonesaw.
Anwyn took a deep breath, "Yeah. He wouldn't want to be one of those things" she rolled up his sleeve to allow Christa to apply the tourniquet. As she did so, Anwyn had a thought, "Hey, it's gonna be really hard to cut through his arm. And we're gonna have to be fast"
"I can do it" Kenny said, picking up the bonesaw, "I'm probably the strongest here"
Anwyn held down Lee's arm as Kenny positioned himself to start.
"Okay... This has to be done... Sorry, pal, I gotta do it..." he muttered.
"I'm awake!" Lee's shouts startled the group.
"STOP! He's awake!" Christa jumped forward.
"Oh really? I hadn't noticed" Anwyn shot back, wincing away as Lee sat up.
"And he's still bitten!" Kenny added.
"So?" Christa shouted.
"This about trying to SAVE him! At the very least, buy him some time"
"By chopping his arm off... Do we know it works?" Omid asked quickly.
"We don't know anything"
"We know there's gonna be a lot of blood" Omid said.
"There's gonna be a shitload of blood" Christa interjected, her voice raised.
"What if he dies?"
"Then we go get Clementine" Anwyn interrupted, "Fuck, I'll go myself if I have to"
"Of course we're coming with you Annie, and we gotta do this" Kenny turned back to Lee, "If there's a chance it stops you from turning, we have to take it!"
"Let's do it. Maybe it'll work" Lee nodded.
"It's a big risk" Christa said.
"Yeah...we're down here without a lot of options..." Omid added, glancing up at the tiny windows.
After a second, Lee nodded "Fuck it. Cut it off"
"Are you sure?" Anwyn asked, looking at him worriedly.
"Yeah, just get it over with" Lee placed his arm on the table and turned the rest of his body away, "It'll be over before you know it. Just gotta get through" he added to himself.
Kenny and Christa looked at the bonesaw, then at each other.
"It was easier when I thought he was out" Kenny muttered uneasily.
"Oh, Jesus, FINE" Christa rolled her eyes. She picked up the bonesaw and readied it over Lee's arm. "I'll go as fast as I can" she said to Lee.
"You got this-" he was cut off as Christa put all her strength into sawing through. Lee screeched as blood started pouring from the wound, pooling on the tiled table, staining the off-white red. Anwyn tried to watch, but it was too much, she turned away and closed her eyes, pressing her hands against her ears.
"TRY TO STAY STILL! Fuck, fuck, fuck! Gotta tighten the tourniquet!" Christa's voice made Anwyn wince. Lee kept screaming, "I'm sorry!" Christa shouted over it.
The screams finally subsided, as did the sound of sawing. Anwyn slowly looked around, but couldn't see Lee. Christa and Kenny were stood over him, doing something. Silently, she slipped closer, unable to tear her eyes away from Lee's unmoving body. She couldn't speak, she tried to ask whether he was alive, but the answer frightened her to her core. Finally, she plucked up the courage to get closer. There was blood everywhere, and Lee wasn't moving.
Chapter 15: Falling Apart
Anwyn felt like a chasm had opened. A horrible void in her head that sucked in all her thoughts and emotions like a black hole, leaving nothing but her hammering heartbeat echoing around her head.
It can’t have happened. Not again, she thought, Please no.
“Please tell me he isn’t…” she asked nervously.
“He’s alive” Christa said quickly, glancing back at her and leaving a small space for Anwyn to actually see Lee better. Kenny and Christa had bandaged the stump left behind, but Lee’s chest was rising and falling incredibly shallowly.
“Do you think he’ll make it?” that feeling in Anwyn wasn’t completely gone, although it had subsided a little. It lurked around in the back of her mind, a horrible little voice whispering soon.
“I don’t know” Christa shook her head, stepping back from Lee and holding her hands away from her as the blood still dripped to the tiles, “We’ll just have to wait and see”
Anwyn stared at Lee’s body in dismay. She truly had no clue what to do, and it was such an abnormal feeling. She rarely had no clue. Even at the worst, she had some ideas, it was just stringing them together. The frustration at her helplessness built up inside her, making her clench her fists. She whirled around to face the counters with the old tools scattered about and flung them to the floor in anger.
“FUCK!” she shouted.
“Whoa, whoa, calm down!” Omid said, stepping towards her.
“CALM DOWN?!” Anwyn glared at him, “Lee is DYING! Clementine is MISSING! And if I had paid more attention and been nicer to her, this NEVER would have happened!” she looked back up at the windows above, “My family died because of me, and now it’s happening all over again. How EXACTLY am I supposed to stay CALM?!”
“Anwyn!” Kenny snapped back, making her look over at him, “NONE of this is your fault. Clementine was being manipulated by that asshole on the radio and Lee made the choices that got him… where he is now, just like any of us have. Don’t you dare blame yourself!”
Anwyn’s gaze fell to the floor, “It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. Finding Clementine is all that matters” she shook her head, “What are we gonna do? We need to find her, but Lee is out like a light”
“There are still walkers everywhere, we’ll have to wait a while anyway” Christa said, “we can wait for Lee to wake up”
“Look, if none of you are going to fucking help, I’ll go on my own” Anwyn growled, “I need to find Clementine. That asshole on the radio has her, and I dread to think what he’s gonna do”
“You can’t go out there on your own! Those things are everywhere, you won’t make it far” Omid said.
“Omid’s right. It’s best if you wait here with us” Christa nodded.
Anwyn shook her head, “I can’t. Lee’s dying, and once he’s gone, I’m all Clementine will have left, and she’s all I’ll have left. I can’t lose her”
“First of all, maybe cutting off Lee’s arm worked and he isn’t infected anymore” Christa shot back, her tone of voice, which was usually much softer with Anwyn and Clementine, had changed completely to a commanding one, “and secondly, if you get killed looking for her on your own, and Lee does die, she won’t have anyone. You wanna do that? Leave her to fend for herself?”
Anwyn fell silent, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
“Well?” Christa took a step forward, her gaze piercing and making the hair on the back of Anwyn’s neck prickle.
“Of course not” Anwyn could feel tears starting to build behind her eyes, but she slammed a wall around her emotions to stop them from appearing, “I just want her safe” she let out a breath, “I want her back with me, where I can protect her. I already messed up, and I refuse to let what happened to Cerri happen to her. I need to at least know she’s safe” Christa relaxed a little.
“Oh darling, it’ll be okay” Kenny came closer and opened his arms, which Anwyn gladly leaned into, “Clem will be okay. We’ll get her back. And maybe Lee will survive this. It’ll be us lot against the world, you’ll see” he reassured her.
“I’m holding you to that” Anwyn muttered through the hug, which came out extremely muffled.
Kenny chuckled, “I’ll try to make it come true”
“You better” Anwyn said as she drew back. She looked over at Lee again and turned back towards the elevator doors. “I need some space” she muttered before slinking off to the rightmost corner of the wall where the doors sat and sitting down, bringing her knees to her chin and resting her forehead on her arms.
It felt like forever, yet no time at all, before Lee finally came to. Anwyn had remained by the elevator, thoughts chasing each other around her head and debating whether to open the doors and leave anyway or wait for Lee to wake up. Just as she was beginning to mentally find her way back to the house at least, she heard Lee’s voice grumble from the table.
“Ugh... Fuck. Ow. Ugh. Holy shit...”
Anwyn leapt up and ran over to see Lee slowly pulling himself up. He looked like he’d just been through a fight with a bear, but she couldn’t tell if that was the amputation or the infection. Either way, he looked like he was going to be sick, and Anwyn breathed a sigh of relief.
“Holy hell, we thought maybe we lost you. You been out a while, man” Kenny said, helping him get to his feet. Once he was stable, Kenny nodded and abandoned him to go see to opening the elevator.
“My arm's on fire. I can still feel my fingers. Holy hell...” Lee muttered, his voice hoarse and cracking “Ugh, this hurts more than you can believe” he stretched out his arm and bent what little of his forearm was left.
“At least you’re alive. Maybe you’ll survive the bite now?” Anwyn ran over and held out her hands, ready to help if he got woozy and fell or something, but didn’t touch him, “You feel like munching on anyone yet?”
Lee gave a small smile, “Well, I’m a bit hungry, but I was thinking more pizza, less people”
“Do you think you'll be able to travel? You lost some blood” Christa cast a glance at the rather large pool of blood on both the table and the floor.
“Yeah” Lee nodded, taking a few test steps forward before picking up the pace a little.
“Good. The elevator's open. Let's go” Kenny said from the raised area by the elevator. Past the doors was an awfully dark elevator shaft. Anwyn hadn’t exactly been expecting a nice elevator ride to the roof, but it was much more dark and filthy than she had been expecting.
“I'll bring up the rear; I don't wanna bleed on anyone” Lee half joked. Kenny led the way through the doors, followed by Christa, Omid, Anwyn, and finally, Lee. Once Anwyn was actually through the doors, she could see another elevator in a different shaft that didn’t go all the way down to the level they were at. Bits of light filtered down through a couple open doors, but by the way the shadows moved across them, each open door also opened to a level full of Meirw.
“We're going to have to go as quiet as possible and see if we can make it to an empty floor or even the roof” Christa whispered, motioning to a ladder opposite the doors “You think it's possible for you?” she asked Lee.
“Yeah, get going” Lee nodded quickly. At that, Kenny started climbing up the ladder as quick as he could. Christa followed after him, glancing back at Lee for a second before continuing. Anwyn found it easy to keep up with Omid, who went ahead of her. The number of people and Omid’s leg generally slowed them down, but their extra precaution of being quiet made them even slower. Anwyn knew perfectly well how to keep silent, she made so little noise that Omid kept glancing back to make sure she was still there.
“You okay down there? Remember, quiet” Omid said as he looked back again.
“No shit Sherlock” Anwyn muttered back.
“It's no big deal. Another arm would just get in the way” Lee replied sarcastically.
The sound of something banging against metal from above them made the lot of them freeze, staring into the blackness. It sounded pretty big, whatever it was, and the echoing sounds of growling by a voice that sounded like it had been gargling gravel confirmed it was a Meirw. A second later, a rotting corpse came sailing down towards them. Everyone hugged the ladder, hoping the Meirw wouldn’t grab them or get caught and yank them to their inevitable deaths. Anwyn gripped the metal so tight, her knuckles turned white, but she could still see a shake in them. The creature flew past them, landing with a meaty splat on the ground below, hopefully killing it.
“Damn” Kenny’s voice echoed around the shaft a little.
“That was fucking close” Christa muttered.
“Everything okay up there?” Lee asked from below.
“Oh, just fucking peachy” Omid replied.
“What about you Annie?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine” she said, “I’ll be better once we’re out of here”
They continued climbing in silence. Anwyn could see one of the open doors ahead, which Kenny glanced in before swiftly climbing on. She didn’t risk asking him if it was safe, but she looked over as she went past. The entire floor was completely full of Meirw. She could barely see the window opposite, just rotting corpses and flies and that god awful smell was everywhere. Every floor they passed that had open doors was the same. Anwyn had a sinking feeling that it would be impossible just to leave the building, let alone find Clementine.
What if she’s already dead? These things are everywhere, if that fuckstick tries to take her out the city, neither of them will make it. Clem will be gone and I won’t be able to kill that guy myself, she thought as Kenny reached a hatch at the far top of the ladder. He opened it, making it groan and spilling bright light into the dimness. It wasn’t proper sunshine, there was a thick cloud cover, which Anwyn thought was a perfect reflection for everything going on. Death, death, awfulness, misery, more death. This is an awful time for sunshine.
As everyone climbed out onto the roof and surveyed everything, Anwyn pushed the hatch back in place with a loud crashing sound that probably drew all the Meirw below to the open doors. Good, I hope the lot of them get turned into meat pancakes and the ones that don’t are crushed by the ones after them, Anwyn thought angrily before turning back around and joining the group. The streets around the hospital were choked with Meirw. Anwyn had half hoped to never see the crowds she’d seen in the cities again, mostly because she generally didn’t like big crowds, but this was something so much worse. Like something out of her worst nightmare. It was like an ocean of death, rather ironic, since Anwyn wasn’t a fan of the ocean either.
“Remember when Savannah was empty?” Kenny said, unable to tear his gaze away from the horrifying sight.
“Those Crawford bastards did one thing right, I guess” Christa muttered, a sense of anger in her voice that made Anwyn wonder what had happened last night.
“There must be thousands of them” Kenny voice was exactly the kind of awed hopelessness that Anwyn was trying to avoid.
“They didn't follow us here, did they?” Omid asked, looking out to the train.
“Maybe they did” Anwyn said, “Once they started going after the train, unless something else distracted them, they would’ve just kept going. Picking up a couple friends along the way it looks like” she added, her gaze sweeping across the streets.
“Do you think that’s possible?” Lee asked.
“They don’t really let up in my experience”
“That's crazy. They can't TRACK. They just roam” Christa said in disbelief.
“No, they weren’t tracking, they just kept walking” Anwyn shook her head.
“Well, what do we do now?” Omid asked, finally tearing his eyes away from the scenery.
“Clementine's out there, somewhere, gobbled up in all of that” Lee replied, looking past the streets and out to the buildings.
“That was very poor wording” Anwyn commented.
“We'll get to her. We'll do whatever we have to” Christa reassured them.
“Look, let's get our bearings and see if we can figure out a way to make it across town. Good? Good” Kenny nodded.
“I, uh, don't think we can ignore what just happened to Lee” Omid said nervously “He lost a lot of blood down there”
“Omid's right. If you see yourself getting woozy or...you know; if it didn't work, just...take it easy” Christa added.
“It wasn't my favourite hand anyway” Lee said jokingly.
“Really? Without ol' lefty, I'd be done for” Omid joked as well.
“Shut up, Omid” Christa and Anwyn said at the same time.
“Seriously, though, don't treat me any different. I got one goal, you hear me?” Lee said.
“Yeah. We do” Christa nodded “Now what?”
“We get down and we find a little girl out there. Right, pal?” Kenny said “Now, let's get our bearings” the group scattered across the rooftop, each person looking for a way out. Any way out.
Anwyn went over to Christa’s side.
“Isn’t that the house?” Anwyn pointed to a building nearby a church.
“Yeah, looks like it. If only we could get down” Christa looked down and studied to streets for some way through.
“We need a distraction” Anwyn said absent mindedly as she started looking around for something to get the Meirw’s attention.
“That would work” Lee said from behind them, pointing at a bell tower right next to the hospital roof. Everyone looked at where he was pointing.
“You think one of us could make that?” Omid asked, looking down the awfully large gap.
“I dunno…” Anwyn looked down as well, “I’m used to jumping between rooftops, but that looks like a wee bit far”
“How about this?” Lee strained voice made everyone look. He was balancing a ladder on the shoulder of his functioning arm.
“Whoa, you need some help with that?” Kenny took a step forward and raised his hands to take the ladder.
“I got it” Lee shook his head quickly. He carefully extended the ladder out and pushed it out far enough so it caught on the end of the bell tower. It created a rather rickety looking bridge.
“The bells...” Christa nodded as she connected the dots.
“Yeah, could buy us some time” Lee said “Draw as many as we can this way, get down off the roof on the opposite side and bust our asses getting back to the mansion”
“The mansion? You lot can go to the mansion, I’m going to find Clem” Anwyn crossed her arms, “I’m not wasting any time”
“We need to go back it to get our bearings and regroup” Lee explained, “It won’t be for long, I promise”
Anwyn grumbled a little under her breath, but otherwise conceded.
“You think you should be the one to go over the ladder?” Kenny glanced up at the belltower and down the gap between the building.
"My leg's feeling better, let me do it" Omid took a step forward, ready to maneuver across.
"If we have to decide who takes a risk like this, it should be the guy who's got the least to lose" Lee said "What's the worst that could happen, I get bitten again?" he half joked as everyone else became obviously more tense and uncomfortable. No one objected to him. "So we're agreed, then"
Lee didn't give them a chance to argue before he carefully gripped the steps of the ladder with his one functioning arm. Slowly, he crossed over the gap. About a third of the way across, Kenny finally piped up.
"Why the hell are we letting the one-armed guy do all the high-risk maneuvers?" he said.
"'Cause the one-armed guy insists. Now shut up about it" Lee shot back, glancing over his shoulder a second.
"That thing looks a little rickety" Kenny added, glancing down at the part where the two separate ladder pieces connected.
"Maybe keep that shit to yourself next time?" Lee retorted, now looking at the same coupling nervously.
Lee continued on up the ladder, each step making Anwyn more and more tense. It started creaking, metal groaning as some of the bolts started moving in ways they really shouldn't have been. Something popped out, making the front piece of the ladder slide along the back, away from where it had been resting on the belltower. Within seconds, Lee would soon be plummeting god knows how many stories in to a sea of Meirw.
Chapter 16: A Swarm
"Oh, shit!" Lee shouted as he scrambled along the ladder steps at almost superhuman speed. He leapt onto the belltower just as the ladder slipped from its anchors and plummeted to the ground below, crushing a Meirw as it did so.
"Fuck me!" Anwyn said in surprise as she reached the rooftop's edge.
"Holy shit man!"
"Are you okay?" Omid and Christa said over one another in the panic.
"Yeah, I'm fine" Lee turned back to them and glanced down the gap a little before stepping back, "Was wishing I had my other hand"
"No shit!" Omid replied. He glanced around the rooftop, "Try to find another way out of there"
"I don't see shit" Anwyn commented, studying the side of the belltower and the hospital, "Is there a way out over there? Like a staircase or something?" she shouted over to Lee.
He circled around the bell itself, "There's a hatch, but it sounds like there are a shit ton of walkers behind it"
Lee shook his head as he examined the belltower again, then looked over at the bell. Before anyone could say anything, he grabbed the rope under the bell and used his entire weight to yank it down. The bell rang out at a deafening volume, forcing Anwyn to cover her ears. When the bell stopped ringing, the sound of the Meirw below were nearing the same volume with their groaning.
"They're coming this way!" Christa said.
"Fucking hell" Anwyn gaped, "there really must be thousands of them" she shook the thought from her head, "Now get back here!"
"I think I have to jump! There's no way back!" Lee replied.
Anwyn guessed he might be right. The belltower was raised above the hospital roof, so with enough of a running start, he could make it.
"You can make it! It ain't that far!" Kenny reassured him quickly.
Lee backed all the way up until his back was against the opposite side of the belltower. There was a tense moment as he readied himself. It seemed like slow motion as he sprinted across the belltower roof before throwing himself towards the group. Anwyn's heart was in her throat as he sailed through the air. He was falling, falling, falling. He was falling short!
Anwyn leapt forward along with Kenny. Lee barely caught the edge of the rooftop with his one hand. Immediately, Kenny had a hold of him, but Lee was just out of Anwyn's grasp. Thankfully, Kenny was able to haul Lee back up enough for him to scramble to safety.
"I GOTCHA! Let's get the hell off this roof!" Kenny said as he did so.
Christa and Omid led the way to the other side of the roof, Kenny following after them. Anwyn helped Lee up and stayed close by as they followed the others. Together they climbed down the fire escape as fast as they could and slipped through the empty streets.
As the group neared the house, Lee pulled ahead of them slightly, an angry energy radiating from him. He didn't even flinch as he shot down a Meirw and kept storming on. Anwyn was lagging behind the group a little. She was exhausted. Not physically, she was used to walking and running for ages, but mentally she felt drained. She just had no clue where Clementine was and it still hurt her a little inside to think Clementine just ditched her. A little anger at Clementine for doing so, and anger at herself for screwing up so bad Clementine did it. The horrible emotionless pit was the same thing she had felt when her family had died. At this point, she half hoped she would be used to it, but no. If anything, it just made it worse.
They reached the shed door, which had been locked from the outside with a shovel through the handles. The doors themselves were moving a little, like someone pushing against them but quickly losing what little strength they had left to do so.
'Come on...please..." Ben's voice uttered through the wooden planks. It sounded defeated and hopeless, even more so than normal Ben.
Lee pulled out the shovel and the doors creaked open. The shed was empty. The boat was gone. Ben stood in the blank wooden colour, the blue of his jacket sticking out like a sore thumb, and he looked both guilty and ashamed. At this point, Anwyn felt rage. Everything that was building up, her family, the starving, the dairy farm, Katjaa and Duck, Clementine, and Lee, all of it suddenly snapped with this. She gritted her teeth and allowed it all to bubble in her, because at this point, anger and rage was at least something for her to feel.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Kenny roared.
"Don't get mad...the boat's gone" Ben said in a slightly shaky voice.
"No shit it's gone!" Kenny retorted.
"Relax! Ben, what happened?" Christa tried to calm the situation, getting in between them a little.
"They were waiting for me in here" Ben explained quickly, "Vernon. His whole crew"
"Was Clementine with them?!" Lee asked.
"No. He seemed pissed you guys lost her, and...well, they took it. They're gone"
"If only they'd done something about you" Anwyn hissed, "Coulda done us a favour while they were at it, but I guess even they saw no point in bothering with you"
Ben looked really hurt, which made Anwyn feel a little better. She knew some rather good ways at insulting people to make sure it really got under their skin.
"God. Why couldn't you have gone missing instead?" Anwyn shook her head a little, almost relishing in the half concerned look Lee was giving her, "Then we could be on our way to somewhere safe by now, because trust me, we would've forgetten about you by now"
"BEN, you are WORTHLESS" Kenny added, "Annie's got a goddamn point"
"What happened to your arm?" Ben looked at Lee's arm, trying to ignore what Kenny and Anwyn were saying.
"We cut it off" Kenny growled "Ben, I could just KILL you right now! I can't believe you didn't even put up a fight!"
"Omid, can you go over the fence and let us into the backyard? We shouldn't be out in the open" Christa said calmly.
"Yeah" Omid looked happier at the prospect of getting away from the argument.
"This is not happening...everything is so fucked..." Kenny spat, not to anyone in particular.
"Clementine is still out there with that guy" Anwyn replied, now turned away from the group and keeping an eye on the street behind them.
"So we get Clementine and then what?" Kenny asked, trying to calm his tone to her.
"We get the fuck out of cities. I'm done with cities. We go into the countryside and make a go of it" Christa said.
"Yeah, that seems like a good idea to me" Ben nodded.
"Nobody gives a shit what you think" Anwyn retorted.
"And nobody asked" Kenny added.
"You just did" Ben said.
"Don't get fucking smart with me, Ben"
"Chill" Christa got in between them quickly, although she was talking more to Kenny, and Anwyn felt a little to her as well.
"Do you remember we had a boat?! A BOAT!" Kenny shouted.
"Get over it!" Ben retorted, which made Kenny look even angrier.
"Worry about the boat after. You can scour the goddamn coast looking for them" Lee said, trying to calm the situation.
"I'll make that bastard wish the cancer had got him" Kenny growled.
"You're welcome to, just calm down for a second"
"Yeah, chill out, Kenny" Ben said, which made Kenny give him a death glare worthy of Anwyn's glares.
The doors to the shed opened, allowing everyone to get to the safety of the back garden.
"We can do this in the yard" Christa interrupted the argument.
"Ben, I swear to God..." Kenny hissed under his breath as he followed Ben through the shed.
"Annie, why don't you get inside and get your things together. I have a feeling we probably won't come back when we get Clem" Christa said quickly.
"You can just say you want to talk alone, I'm not an idiot" Anwyn shook her head as she went through the shed. She didn't stop to watch Kenny shout at Ben some more, she just felt tired.
Anwyn slipped past the three in the garden and went straight through the back door of the house and up the stairs. She'd left her and Clementine's backpacks in the study, but when she entered, a wave of anger surged through her again. Whoever this guy was who had Clementine, he was going to die. Anwyn was pretty sure Lee was going to kill him, but if he didn't, she certainly would. Shaking the thought from her head, she collected the few things she had strewn about into her backpack, then proceeded to do the same for Clementine's bag. She looked through a few of the things she had, but it was mostly just personal things, not practical tools. The only thing that was practical was a lighter. She had a few blank pieces of paper, a thing of crayons, and a couple pictures. Anwyn pulled them out to see them. The first was a drawing Clementine had made of Kenny, Katjaa and Duck. It struck a bit of sadness in her. She had found Duck a little annoying and had sometimes gone too far in playing pranks on him, but he was so relaxed about it. He was still happy and liked to play with them and laugh and make jokes. Anwyn knew she probably wouldn't meet anyone like that ever again. She hoped desperately that Clementine was alright. Putting the drawing aside, she saw the other picture, which was a piece from a photograph. It was a picture of Lee, probably torn from a bigger photo. He was wearing a suit and tie without the jacket, and the pose made Anwyn think this was most likely a family picture.
"CHILL? 'Bandits, hey, CHILL, here's some pills!' 'Vernon,CHILL, here's our fucking BOAT'!" Kenny's shouting brought Anwyn's attention to the window. She quickly slipped the picture back in Clementine's backpack and looked out to see what was going on, even opening it a little to hear better.
"This isn't my fault" Ben muttered, almost out of Anwyn's earshot.
"I can't point to one THING that's happened that isn't somehow yourfault. Lee should've left you in Crawford" Kenny spat back.
"FUCK YOU, KENNY!" Ben shouted. Anwyn was completely shocked at Ben's sudden confidence to stand up to Kenny.
"I am so, so, SO sorry about Katjaa and Duck, I AM. And I know I fuckedup, but STOP pushing me around and STOP wishing I was dead" Kenny opened his mouth to say something, "NO! You know how they died. You've said goodbye, I never got to see my family, my parents, my little sister...do you get that? Your family is gone, but at least you had them to lose. I never made it home. They could be alive or dead or walkers or WORSE and I DON'T KNOW. SO GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!"
Everyone was silent, and Anwyn found she had more respect for him. She was still angry with him, but she respected him a lot more than she had before. In the silence that followed, Anwyn caught the sound of a pack of Meirw. She looked up, and sure enough, a huge number of them were coming down the street.
"Hey guys!" Anwyn shouted down to the group from the window, "We got company, and it ain't the live kind!"
The group looked up at her, then whirled around to see the back fence. Anwyn closed the window and bolted for the staircase, drawing her knife and ready to fight. When she got to the base of the stairs, Lee was telling the others what to do, but when he caught sight of Anwyn, he pointed back up to the stairs.
"Anwyn, get back up those stairs! Now!" he didn't leave room for argument, so Anwyn returned back up to the landing at the top of the stairs, grumbling and still hanging onto her knife.
"FRONT DOORS!" Lee's shouting made her jump a little. Anwyn was about to go downstairs to help, but from the sounds of it, the downstairs was being flooded with Meirw. Instead, she ran back to the study and grabbed the two backpacks. In seconds she had tied them together and slung them on her back. She ran back to the top of the stairs and looked down. The group had got the doors closed and were looking around nervously.
A Meirw smashed open a window, allowing countless undead to flood into the house.
"Fuck! New plan!" Lee shouted in surprise.
"Get your asses up here!" Anwyn got their attention and beckoned them up sharply. She turned back and went straight for the trapdoor to the attic. Those things would be up here in seconds, overwhelm them very quickly. She tried to reach the string, but she couldn't quite grab it. Looking back for some assistance, she watched as Christa and Omid stood at the top of the stairs, shooting at the pack as they dragged themselves after Lee, who was just now getting up the stairs. Kenny was trying to push the desk from the study to block off the hall Anwyn was standing in.
"GUYS, help me with this!" Kenny shouted.
Lee and Anwyn immediately ran to his side and started shoving the desk to the hallway. With the three of them, it only took them a few seconds to get it in place.
"Everyone get to the end of the hallway!" Christa ordered. Everyone but Kenny, who made sure the desk was covering the hallway completely, vaulted over the desk and pressed themselves against the back of the hallway.
"What do we do now?!" Ben asked in panic.
"This'll slow 'em down. We get to the end of the hallway...and take afucking stand" Kenny replied between pushing the desk.
"Are you insane?!" Anwyn snapped back a little, "There are WAY too many of those things, we'll never make it!"
"Then what do you suggest?"
"Attic" Anwyn pointed, "I can't reach"
Lee grabbed the string and pulled the folding staircase down, revealing the dully lit attic room beyond.
"GO!" Lee shouted.
Kenny shoved Anwyn up first before the rest of the group could follow. The attic was pretty empty. The only source of light was a small window on the far wall, and what few things it did light weren't exactly pleasant looking. A dirty old mattress was against the wall with the window and empty water bottles were littered about the place. Lee pulled the stairs back up just as the Meirw swarmed the hallway.
"Where'd your gun go?" Anwyn asked as she noticed his hands were empty, as was the place he usually kept it.
"Dropped it through the stairs" Lee shook his head, "didn't have time to get it"
"Here, um...I'm not good with these" Ben said a little awkwardly, holding out his own gun, which Lee took.
"That could've gone better" Kenny commented, breathing hard.
"Could've gone worse" Anwyn replied, looking out the window for a way out.
"Everyone okay?" Christa asked.
"Lee's still bitten" Kenny said.
"Thanks for reminding us of that nightmare Captain Buzzkill" Anwyn retorted, stepping away from the window and studying the sides of the attic room.
"Okay, let's get out of here and keep moving" Omid interrupted to keep an argument from forming.
"Kid's right; we gotta keep moving. Think there's any chance we get Clem and catch up to those goddamn thieves?" Kenny said.
"I don't know. Maybe" Lee shrugged.
"We can't get out through the window. We'd have to break it and there ain't a way down aside from a thirty foot drop" Anwyn looked out the window again, unable to even see the ground beneath the swarming Meirw.
"Anyone have any ideas?" Kenny asked, looking around the group.
"I bet this guy would" Omid commented, looking at a small bust of a man "He's got a resourceful air about him"
"Knock it off" Christa retorted.
"Dixon Kent the III, industrial-"
"OMID" Christa's voice rose in annoyance.
"CHRISTA. I'm just trying to lighten the fucking tone" Omid shot back.
"We need SOLUTIONS, not stupid jokes" Christa was near shouting, but stopped and took a breath "I'm sorry"
"So, no ideas, then" Kenny sighed.
"There's gotta be another way" Lee muttered.
"Check the floor for any other access, a vent, anything" Christa ordered, beginning to look around as well.
"Or we wait for the house to clear out and stick to the high ground" Kenny countered.
"Hey..." Christa's voice softened, making Anwyn look over. She was near Lee, the back of her hand on his forehead, "You're not looking great. And you're warm"
"I'm okay, don't-" Lee started, but was interrupted. The radio at his belt crackled to life.
"Lee? Annie? I'm okay, I'm where my parents--oh, no!" Clementine's voice squeaked through the radio before it cut off.
"Clementine?" Anwyn grabbed the radio as quick as she could, "Clementine!" she half-shouted into the radio, "Nothing" she said to the group.
"What did that mean?" Christa asked.
"She's at the hotel where her parents were staying; he hasn't moved her" Lee answered.
"The Marsh House" Anwyn muttered, "we need to get to the Marsh House. Now"
Chapter 17: The Attic
"We need to get out of here. Now" Anwyn said, handing the radio back to Lee, "We need to get Clementine"
"How do we get out of here, then?" Kenny replied, "Maybe we need to start thinking about more than just Clementine when it comes to our...urgency"
"That's the whole point; we don't know" Omid shrugged.
"Okay, now your life depends on it. How do you get out of here?"
"I don't know. I don't get it"
"Like I said, everyone needs to keep looking for a way out, damn it. We're trapped in here" Lee interrupted, trying to sound like a leader, but Anwyn could hear an undertone of nervousness in his voice.
The group fell silent, looking at one another, hoping for an answer.
"Do you think that worked?" Kenny replied, breaking the silence with a skeptical look.
"I...I don't know" Lee shrugged, "I hope so"
"I think we need to have...an 'adult' conversation about what happens if Lee takes another spill"
"Kenny, please..." Anwyn started, but Kenny cut her off.
"We could be looking at a Larry situation here" Kenny started pacing a little.
"Who's Larry?" Christa crossed her arms.
"It don't matter" Kenny shook his head.
"He looks fine to me..." Omid commented.
"Can we just... not talk about this right now..." Anwyn muttered.
"I think it'd be best if we just worried about getting to Clem right now" Lee added, glancing with a worried look at Anwyn, who looked and felt a little ill.
"We're not gonna do her any good if you've attacked us" Kenny shook his head again.
"That isn't gonna happen"
"How do you know that?"
"GUYS. I don't know what happened before Omid and I showed up, but we can cross that bridge when we get to it" Christa interrupted them.
"Yeah, please, can we do that" Anwyn took a step forward, "I've lost enough, I don't wanna talk about losing more"
"I'm sorry Annie, but we have to talk about this. Lee doesn't have much time now, and it could be a problem for us" Kenny replied, "Lee, I'm not advocating anything here... But how is this not a thing?We're all so worked up about Clementine that we're forgetting what the fuck happened to you!" he turned back to Lee.
"My arm is not the issue. I'm not the problem. The five hundred walkersin the house and no door in this room are the goddamn PROBLEM" Lee retorted, his voice rising a little.
"Yeah, maybe at the moment...but who's to say when it becomes an issue? And at that point, there may not be any time left to deal with it!"
"Are you talking about fucking killing him?! Now?!" Anywn shouted.
"You're gonna listen to ME. We will get Clementine back, with or without you. Because I haven't given up EVERYTHING to die because we were stupid" Kenny was so entrenched in arguing with Lee, it's like he didn't even hear Anwyn. Or he did, and conveniently decided her input was now not worth listening to.
"You're not touching me. Do you understand that? You know EXACTLY what to do if I turn and that's enough. Do you hear me?" Lee shouted back.
"You might become one of them. Do you understand that? How can you be fucking calm about that?!" Kenny roared. In his anger, he grabbed the bust nearby and threw it at the wall opposite the window. Bits of the wall splintered and crumbled to the floor. Everyone was dead quiet.
Anwyn looked at Kenny, so many thoughts swirling around in her head, it was impossible to pick one and think about it, let alone say anything. As much as Anwyn hated to admit it, Kenny had a point, but currently, she just wanted to get Clementine back. Right now, Clementine and Lee were the closest thing she had to family, and she wanted her family back together for whatever short time Lee had left.
"You ruined that dude's face" Omid said, a little quietly in the silence.
"Shut up, sweetie. Look" Christa retorted, not unkindly. Kenny examined the hole in the wall, testing the wall's strength and pulling at the pieces surrounding it. Chunks of it came away in his hand and scattered on the floor.
"It's corroded to hell" he commented.
"What's on the other side of this wall, a thirty-foot drop?" Christa asked.
"No, this mansion connects to the one next door" Anwyn replied quickly, "One without Meirw, we can get out"
"I'll be damned" Kenny muttered.
"We're not lifers on Alcatraz here; we can't spend the next three months digging through a wall" Christa shook her head.
"If the rest is as dilapidated as this, we might not have to. Let's see..." Kenny looked around for something, probably something to attack the wall with, because he relinquished when Lee picked up a coat rack and stabbed the wall with one end. Lee then knelt down to inspect the damage.
"This wall ain't shit" Lee smiled.
"Is this really possible...?" Omid trailed off a little, disbelief laced in his voice.
"Yeah. We can do this" Kenny's voice and posture was ten fold more confident than Omid's, "We'll work in shifts. Omid, Christa, and I. Lee, you rest, and Annie, you keep an eye on him. We have to work fast"
"Why do I keep getting sidled to one side?" Anwyn growled a little, "I can help! Like, actually help!"
"Sorry kiddo, but you ain't as strong as the rest of us" Kenny shook his head. He turned back to the wall to started whittling away at it, officially ending the conversation, much to Anwyn's annoyance.
"C'mon Annie, come sit with us" Christa quickly said before following Omid over to a couple couches nearer to the window. Anwyn sighed and followed after them, sitting in between Omid and Christa.
"Hey kid" Omid smiled, "What's got you down, little clown?"
"What hasn't" Anwyn shook her head, "Everything is awful. Fuck the world and everyone in it" she shrugged.
"I'd like to think there are still some good things" Christa replied.
"I can't see any good things. At this point, I'm living on pure spite alone"
"Spite can get you a surprising amount" Lee commented as he sat on the couch across from them, "just make sure there's more to your life"
"I'm glad you told us when you got bitten, it would've been easy not to" Christa changed the subject.
"I couldn't lie to Annie" Lee replied, "it would have been cruel for her to find out like that"
"And I thank you for that" Anwyn nodded.
"We probably would've let you go alone if you hadn't told us. Which would've been a mistake" Christa added, shaking her head slightly.
"If I were you I would've been scared shitless" Omid added, leaning forward a little in emphasis.
"If you were me you'd be a foot taller" Lee smiled.
"And about fifty pounds heavier. You, uh, wouldn't get scared as much"
"With your arm and my leg, I'll cripple fight you right here, buddy" Omid couldn't stop a smile spreading on his face.
"I've still got this one. I can put my right palm on your forehead and just let you swing away"
Anwyn laughed a little. Her nerves had been on speed for the last few hours, and now she found things weirdly funny. Maybe she had just finally lost her marbles, but right now, she was on edge to get out of the mansion and get to the Marsh House, so it was killing her to be sat on that couch.
"It's so weird; I keep doing a double-take on your arm, expecting it to be there" Christa said, looking at the stump where Lee's arm used to be.
"I'm hoping whatever's in their bite is gone too" Lee looked down at his arm as well.
"What do you think the odds are of that?"
"I don't know. I know everyone's wondering. Even if it just slows down the process, I'd be happy"
"I'd be happy knowing you're not going to die" Anwyn muttered, "At this rate, it's going to be just me and Clementine"
"You'll have me, Omid, Kenny, and Ben"
"And at this rate, the lot of you are going to bloody die. First my family, and our group just kept slowing dying off. There won't be anyone left" Anwyn shook her head.
"Let's just hope that it's not a recurring pattern" Lee replied.
"So when we get this guy...what do you think?" Omid asked, changing the subject.
"I'm going to kill him" Anwyn growled.
"Have you ever killed someone before?" Christa asked.
"No. But I'm not going to feel anything about killing him" Anwyn retorted.
"I agree with Annie, except she's not going to be the one that does it" Lee added, "We make sure he never takes anybody from anyone again. World's got enough evil in it"
"And...you know...whatever happens to you...uh..." Omid trailed off, glancing at Lee's arm.
"Seriously, can we not talk like that?" Christa glared at him a little.
"Yes, can we do that please" Anwyn nodded quickly.
"The entire time we were at the hospital I could sense you think you're as good as dead" Christa looked at Lee.
"Oh good, we're continuing this conversation"
"I was bitten, Christa" Lee retorted, ignoring Anwyn's grumbling.
"You cut it off"
"What good is it to plan around that working?"
"What good is it for you to give up?" Christa shot back, irritation becoming very clear in her voice.
"I haven't given up" Lee protested, "I want you and Omid to take care Annie and Clementine"
"Stop it! Stop talking like that!" Anwyn's voice rose a little, "Just stop!"
"Anwyn" Lee looked at Anwyn with a serious expression "What if I don't make it? I'll feel infinitely better knowing that you and Clementine are safe and happy"
"We're not doing this right now" Christa shook her head.
"Christa. Listen to him" Omid said.
"It's what I want. Okay?" Lee looked at Christa with that same serious look on his face.
"What about him?" Omid nodded towards Ben, who was sat in the opposite corner of the attic and looking sadder than usual.
"We gotta support him. He's only a kid still; it's easy to forget that" Lee replied.
"I thought he was eighteen or nineteen, doesn't that make him an adult?" Anwyn asked.
"Legally, back when there were laws" Christa shrugged, "but it's still really young. He's still a kid"
"He lose his shit like that often?" Omid asked, still looking at Ben.
"No, that was a first" Lee replied, glancing at Ben.
"It's good that he did. Kenny couldn't pull that shit on me" Christa said.
"The kid killed his family, so there's been some tension there"
"And he ditched Clementine in a pack of Meirw" Anwyn added, "That didn't help his case any"
"What happened? With Kenny's family I mean. I was there when Ben did that to Clementine" Omid asked.
"Kenny's son got bitten during a raid by some gang that Ben was secretly helping. They used him. Kenny's wife...died because of their son" Lee explained.
"Jesus..." Christa muttered.
"I know. I liked Duck. I wish I had his positivity" Anwyn shook her head.
"Well, it seems like what happened outside got through to Kenny. Whatever that's good for" Omid said, looking back at the group.
"Alright, I'm outta gas" Kenny appeared from behind the couch "You look good and rested" he said to Omid.
"Sure, if you don't count an infected leg" Omid replied.
"You want me to do it?" Christa asked with an expression Anwyn read as 'seriously?'.
"Nah, hun, you can hop in after me" Omid said quickly as he got to his feet and disappeared off to attack the wall. Kenny sat in his place next to Anwyn.
"Shouldn't be long now. It's good we're forced to take a breath" Kenny nodded, "That, uhh... feelin' any better?" he nodded at Lee's arm.
"Still feels pretty recently chopped. So, no, Kenny. It feels 'bout as good as you'd expect" Lee replied.
"I mean, do you think it worked? Did it- did it help at all?"
"I feel like a man who got bitten. So take that for what it's worth" Lee shrugged.
"I still can't believe you went and got chomped. Just... fucking hell"
"I still can't quite completely believe it" Anwyn shook her head, "Guess I'm still holding on to the hope that cutting it off worked"
"At least he told us" Christa said.
"Took some brass. I don't think I woulda" Kenny sighed and leaned forward, resting his head in his hands.
"Are you okay?" Anwyn asked quickly. It really worried her, none of them could afford Kenny losing it right now.
"I'm... I don't know how to answer that"
"I'm sorry. You've lost more than anyone. Well, as much as anyone" Christa muttered.
"Lee's family's gone, too. And Annie's. Hell, she was on her own for a while"
"And I'm totally fine. Definitely don't have any trauma or emotional damage to work through at all" Anwyn tried to lighten the mood a little, but even her own sarcasm didn't make her feel any better.
"It'll be alright" Lee replied.
"Why you acting like what's happened ain't happened?" Kenny shot back at Lee "Anyway, I appreciate it, from both of you. A lot of us have lost families" he glanced at Ben, a look of pity, guilt, and anger mixing on his face.
"Maybe take it easy on him from here on out" Lee motioned towards Ben.
"I'm angry as hell"
"Not at him"
"Maybe. Maybe not" Kenny sounded deflated again, like his anger just drained his energy.
"You heard him outside"
"I did. I never really thought about it that way"
"I guess when you get caught up in your own anger, you kinda forget that the person you're angry at has shit of their own to deal with" Anwyn muttered, crossing her arms and looking at the floor.
"Very wise for a ten year old" Kenny looked back at her with a smile.
"Apocalypse brings out the strangest things" Anwyn shrugged.
Kenny leaned over the other side of the couch and reached down for something. He sat back on the couch holding a bottle of whiskey and took a drink from it.
"This guy tell you much about what we been through?" Kenny asked to Christa.
"Bits and pieces"
"Well, he can't fight for shit" Kenny said jokingly.
"When exactly did you fight him?" Anwyn asked, relaxing a little as the conversation was starting to feel lighter.
"I had to knock some sense into him on the train" Lee replied, a little smile breaking on his face.
"You tried to" Kenny added.
"Soft as rotten fruit" Kenny shook his head.
"Like you guys didn't have enough problems without punching each other in the face?" Christa rolled her eyes.
"Eh, Lee had to knock some sense into him" Anwyn shrugged.
"It's all water under the bridge. All we can do is move forward" Lee added quickly.
"Cheers to that" Kenny raised the whiskey before taking a swig. He offered it to Lee, who hesitated a second before taking it. Lee passed it back to Kenny, who offered it to Christa. She looked at it, went to take it, but stopped herself for a second. She then proceeded to think better of it and took the bottle.
"Could I try it?" Anwyn asked, looking at the bottle.
"You're ten" The three of them said at once in a monotone voice.
"Yeah, and a lot of shit that shouldn't happen to a ten year old has happened to this ten year old" Anwyn retorted, "Just lemme try a little, it's not like I'm gonna drink the whole thing"
Christa shook her head, "Maybe when you're older"
Anwyn stifled her grumbles and hissed out a "fine"
"I'm through" Omid interrupted the conversation. He'd broken a hole in the wall large enough for everyone to squeeze through. Omid was looking through, scouting it out. "No walkers. Things are looking up"
One by one, the group slipped through the gap and into the other house. Anwyn was third through and looked around the place while the rest got their asses to safety. The other room looked relatively untouched, just dusty. It was a huge bedroom with ornate furniture and a window door to a tiny balcony opposite. A double bed sat at the centre of the room. Lying on it were two rotting corpses.
Chapter 18: A Dwindling Group
Anwyn immediately pulled out her knife and approached the two bodies, but they were dead. Dead dead. Their hands were clasping one another, a gun lying between them, and their brains splattered across the pillows and back walls. Anwyn sheathed her knife and went to search the dresser instead.
"Everyone keep a goddamn eye out" Kenny said quickly.
"This place seems pretty sealed off. Well..." Omid started, but trailed off as he caught sight of the couple on the bed.
"God..." Kenny muttered.
"What?" Anwyn stood up from searching the dresser, "It's fine. I checked them, they're not getting up"
"It's not that..." Kenny said.
"They're just dead. We see enough of them" Anwyn shot back, a sense of discomfort snaking out from seeing the group looking so shaken by the dead couple. She didn't really know whether the discomfort came from their weird reaction or Anwyn's lack of a reaction.
"Yeah. We've seen so many people... I don't know why these ones break my heart" Christa crossed her arms and looked away.
"What's heart breakin' is not givin' yourself a chance. It's what Katjaa did" Kenny growled, his voice breaking a little at mention Katjaa.
"You did everything you could" Lee reassured him.
"No, Lee. She left me...my son...the people that cared about us... I forgive her, but it don't make it any less wrong. You don't just end it cause it's hard. You stick it out, and you help the folks you care about" Kenny blurted out quickly before stopping himself and taking a breath "So let's figure a way outta here and get that little girl"
"We should move" Omid said.
"Yeah" Christa nodded.
Kenny leaned over the dead couple and took the gun from between them, checking the clip, "Got at least one shot left"
"Let's clear the room before we move on. Lee, figure out where we're headed" Christa instructed, tearing her eyes away from the bodies and looking around.
"Way ahead of you" Anwyn muttered, digging back through the dresser. She completely turned it over, looking through every drawer thoroughly, but it was just filled with moldy old clothes that were falling apart from insects. One drawer held a couple photo albums, but Anwyn purposefully avoided opening them. Behind her, she heard Lee open the door to the tiny balcony.
"This room ain't got squat" Anwyn stood up quickly, "just a bunch of useless junk" the others nodded in agreement. Kenny looked out the windows and studied the scene.
"Looks like we can stay off the streets all the way to River Street ifwe're careful" he planned aloud.
"Let's go" Christa said.
Lee clambered onto the railing of the balcony, precariously balancing over a three story drop, before launching himself at the rooftop opposite. Anwyn tensed up as he grappled for the safety of the roof, but relaxed once he caught onto the side and hauled himself up. Omid went next, moving much slower because of his leg and almost falling short, but Lee grabbed his arm and pulled him to safety. Christa followed after him, but she barely needed any help. Kenny shouldn't have, but his foot must've slipped a little or something, as he was falling a little short as well. Lee and Christa caught him. Anwyn took a deep breath and carefully balanced herself on the railing. It felt rickety. She dared a glance at the screws connecting it to the building, but she seriously regretted it. The screws were looking much looser. She prayed to every god she knew that it would hold her weight. Trying not to think about it, she mustered all her strength and leapt at the next door rooftop. Perhaps a combination of her smaller size, weaker strength, and the loose balcony, but she was falling completely short.
"Annie!" Lee shouted, trying to grab her hand.
Her hand just about caught the edge of the rooftop, but her foot found a hold in the window below, so she didn't rely entirely on one hand to catch her weight falling. It felt like her heart had stopped completely, but now she wasn't moving, her heartbeat was pretty much all she could hear.
"Thank god I know parkour" she muttered to herself, her entire body shaking with adrenaline. Lee grabbed her arm and started hauling her up. Christa caught her other hand as it reached for the roof edge as she got a little higher. They pulled her to the safety of the rooftop as quickly as they could.
"That" Anwyn exhaled, lying on her back, "was way too fucking close"
"You can say that again" Lee looked like he was a little shaken by it as well, "Alright, just Ben now" he turned to face the balcony, ready to catch Ben.
Anwyn watched as Ben climbed on top of the railing of the balcony and sidled over to the very edge so he could jump over. The metal made a horrible groaning noise.
"Ben! Get down!" Anwyn jumped up, "I don't think it can-"
The balcony collapsed. The entire thing fell away, crashing into the alley below, along with Ben, who shouted in surprise.
"Me and my fuckin' mouth..." Kenny muttered, looking down in horror.
Anwyn took a step away from the roof edge. She couldn't watch this happen again. Even though she was still angry with Ben, she couldn't see what was inevitably going to happen.
"Holy fuck! What are we gonna do?!" Omid shouted, looking around the group.
Kenny looked at them, then at Ben. He shook his head and ran for a ladder on the side of the building that went directly into the alleyway.
"Someone's gotta stay back. In case" Lee said quickly.
"Come on, man!" Omid protested.
"And if all this goes bad, you might be Clementine's last hope" Lee shot back, "Stay with them Annie. Don't follow, okay?"
Anwyn just nodded, completely speechless, in an action-ready pose, and trembling all over. Awful memories were washing over her, making her feel like she was drowning all over again. She didn't want to do anything but run and hide, or find something to take her anger out on, preferably with her knife.
"We'll keep an eye out" Christa said to Lee. He followed Kenny down the ladder.
"Are you okay? You look like you wanna bolt" Omid asked, looking at Anwyn with concern. Although that expression was on both of their faces, annoyingly enough.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine" Anwyn snapped back, relaxing her pose, but unable to stop herself from shaking.
"Just, stay over there, okay?" Christa said gently, "Stay away from the edge"
Anwyn took a few steps towards the centre of the roof and sat down, cross legged. She turned herself away from what was happening and looked out along the skyline. Maybe she could find that hotel from here. It was a little difficult with the sun glaring into her eyes, but she studying her view, looking for any sign of the place. She remembered something about it being along the water, so she looked carefully in that direction. There was a building with letters on the front, but it was very far away. Anwyn squinted, trying to make it out.
M.. Mar.. Marsh. That was it! The Marsh House! It was a boring grey cube of a building with green along it's edges and an American flag waving next to the metal letters out the front.
It looked very far away. At least a six streets, maybe more, which they would have to traverse on rooftop and avoid an ocean of undead. Anwyn was starting to worry that maybe it was impossible, but she stifled the worry. She didn't care anymore. Lee was dying, and Clementine had been taken by some manipulative pedo creep, but to Anwyn's knowledge, she was alive. Clementine was all she had left, so she was going to fight through it all, find that asshole, rip out his throat, and save Clementine.
A gunshot broke her out of her thoughts.
Anwyn scrambled to her feet and ran to the roof edge. She searched the alleyway below for Lee and Kenny, but she couldn't see through the Meirw. They were swarming along the alley like a frothing river, making a deafening roar.
"Lee?! Lee!" Anwyn shouted.
Lee clambered up the ladder on the side of the building and looked back down. Anwyn breathed a sigh of relief and hugged him. He hugged her back, remaining silent, but it made Anwyn less tense as it reassured her that Lee was alive and okay.
"What happened?!" Christa asked.
"I...I tried to help" Lee muttered, pulling away from Anwyn and turning away from the group.
"What the fuck happened?!" Christa pressed.
"There was just...too many of them. Ben was really...messed up. I don'tknow. There's nothing else" Lee explained quietly, not even daring to glance back at the alleyway.
"Wh- where's Kenny?" Anwyn asked, looking back at the ladder, half expecting Kenny to be right behind Lee, but there was no sign of him. All she could hear were the Meirw below. "Lee? Where's Kenny?"
"Nobody was getting out of there" Lee finally replied, unable to look at Anwyn. She opened her mouth to say something, but it closed as words failed her. She dropped her head and looked away.
"Goddamn... God" Lee put his head in one hand.
"I heard a shot" Christa said.
"Kenny made sure that Ben didn't feel any more pain than he had to" Lee replied, slowly looking up and back at the group, "It was Ben's biggest fear, you know? Kenny had one bullet and that's howhe used it. God, poor fucking kid"
"I'm sorry, Lee"
"Well, maybe he DID get away. I don't know" Lee shook his head.
"We should go" Christa said quickly, glancing at both Lee and Anwyn's heartbroken expressions, "We still have to find Clementine"
"Yeah" Anwyn nodded, "Lead the way"
Christa did just that. She led the group to the other side of the roof, Omid limping along behind her. Lee nudged Anwyn forward to keep her within his eyesight so she didn't fall behind.
~~~About an hour later~~~
The sky glowed a golden yellow stained with orange around the horizon as the scorching sun set. It had taken much longer than any of them had hoped, since it hadn't been a straight shot over the rooftops, rather a god awful maze of trying to find a safe path over the ocean of death below them. The group had walked in silence the entire way. Anwyn tried to not think about Kenny or Ben or even Lee by focusing all her thoughts and energy into her anger at this stranger. Her heart raced and her blood boiled as she thought about her vengeance. The closer they got to the Marsh House, the more her teeth gritted and the harder her fists clenched.
Her thoughts wore a track in her mind, constantly circling one another. I'm going to hurt him. I'm going to kill him. He's going to suffer for taking Clementine away from me, and he's going to die for hurting her. She fantasized about all the ways she could hurt him and make his death slow, before her thoughts returned to I'm going to hurt him.
After who knew how many laps around the mental track her thoughts made, Christa finally broke the silence, "Do you want to talk?"
"That's two on him, now. The motherfucker who's got Clementine has Benand Kenny to answer for" Lee growled, his voice steady and quiet, which made it all the more menacing.
"Keep a clear head, Lee" Christa replied, trying to keep her voice calm.
"We wouldn't be out here. We'd all been together to defend against Vernonand we'd be out on the water. Everyone would be alive" Lee glowered, completely tense.
"Look, Lee, this is a shitty time, but I want to clear something up" Christa said, eyeing Anwyn a little.
Anwyn sighed, "Yeah, yeah" she picked up her pace and got far enough away to not hear their conversation. Omid stayed beside her.
"How you holding up, kid?" he asked.
"I'm fine" Anwyn replied, "I just do what I always do. Don't think about it"
"I dunno if I could just not think about something that fucked up"
"It's easy this time around" Anwyn looked at him, "I have something else to focus on"
"We'll get Clementine back, don't worry about that" Omid tried to reassure her.
"I think about that too"
"What are you thinking about then?"
"Killing that guy" Anwyn snarled, "you don't want to know all the ways I'm thinking of hurting him. But I'm going to make it slow and painful"
Omid started to say something else before an awful thought struck Anwyn, making her interrupt him.
"Does that make me a bad person? My thoughts? What I'm gonna do? Mother always taught me that life was precious, but all I can think about is ending it"
"Nah, I don't think it does" Omid replied instantly, "You want to protect someone you care about, and this guy kidnapped her to do god knows what"
"Y'know that's kinda not helping"
"My point is, you're pissed because this guy took the person you're protecting. Of course you wanna make sure he doesn't do it again"
Anwyn nodded a little. Right now, it didn't matter whether she was a bad person or not. She had to protect Clementine. Everyone else around them were slowing dying. Their parents, Kenny and his family, Lee. Anwyn was convinced Christa and Omid wouldn't last long. In her mind, Anwyn would be the only one to care for her soon enough, and no one else mattered.
"It's nothing" Christa said loud enough for Anwyn to hear.
"What's nothing?" Omid looked back.
"Let's just keep moving" Christa picked up the pace and pulled ahead of them.
The group fell back into silence until they reached the other end of the rooftop. The only way to the next one was across a makeshift bridge constructed out of planks of wood. The group stopped.
"Fuck, be careful across here" Christa said back to the group.
Taking a collective deep breath, the four of them started to cross the bridge. Christa and Omid took the lead, making sure to go slow and steady across the planks. Anwyn followed behind them, refusing to look down. She kept her eyes on the rooftop ahead. Lee was behind her. It felt like forever before Anwyn safely reached the stable rooftop and let out a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding.
"River Street's just up ahead" Omid pointed. The Marsh House was so close. Just a street away.
As they walked along the roof, they passed a gaping hole to the floor below. The floor was choked with Meirw. It was like the streets around the hospital, or just the streets in general. Anwyn couldn't see much past them, no items on the floor, nor the floor itself.
"Whoa, careful" Omid commented as he glanced down at the undead.
"Even the buildings are full..." Christa muttered.
"We have to get Clem and the get the fuck outta here" Anwyn added.
"We will" Lee reassured her.
It didn't take the group long to make it to River Street. The Marsh House stood imposingly on the next street over, which meant they had to cross the street to get to it. Unfortunately, the street, like every other street in Savannah, was swarmed with Meirw. From what Anwyn could see, the only way they could get across was over an old rusty sign naming the place 'Maccabe Imports'. She almost had to do a double take on it, as she thought it had read 'Macabre' and found it endlessly ironic, but she found enough irony in the name looking like it said 'Macabre'.
"The Marsh House hotel is around the corner up the block" Lee pointed at the hotel, "I'll go first. In case anything happens out there"
"You sure?" Christa glanced at the sign.
"Yeah" Lee nodded. He carefully eased himself onto the sign and started edging along, metal creaking as he did so.
"Just go nice and slow..." Christa commented.
"And be careful" Anwyn added.
"Almost there! It's an easy crossing" Lee shouted back, reaching the half way point.
Just as he got past the half way point, the sign gave an almighty creak. Metal groaned as supports started breaking away and screws popped off. The connection the sign had with the building Anwyn, Christa and Omid stood on completely collapsed, sending most of the sign crashing to the street below.
"LEE!" Anwyn shouted, gripping the side of the rooftop in terror.
"SHIT" Omid jumped.
Lee grabbed onto one of the supports on the opposite side that didn't collapse with the rest of it. It was just a small piece of rusting metal, and he was barely hanging on, but he was alive and not in a swarm on Meirw slowly being eaten alive.
"Ah, fuck!" Lee shouted.
"Are you okay?! Can you get to that building?" Anwyn asked quickly.
"I'm fine, but I'm kinda fucked here" he replied, "Fuck it. I'm going for it"
"Going for it?!" Omid shouted back, "What the hell does that mean?"
"It means I'm already bitten! I just have to push my way through"
"The fuck?" Anwyn gripped the roof edge until her knuckles went white.
"Let's meet out of town! By the train!" Lee explained.
"Are you nuts?!" Omid shouted back.
"It's the only way. Do you hear me?!"
"No!" Anwyn spat, "I have to go with you! To get Clementine!"
"There's no other way around this street" Lee retorted, "Go with Christa and Omid out to the train!"
"Think about it Annie" Christa said to her gently, "You'll get yourself killed trying to get Clementine, then what? I know you don't fully trust us to look after her, so to you, she'll be on her own"
Anwyn paused, considering what they were saying.
"Come with us to the train and live to protect her later" Omid added.
"Fine" Anwyn nodded a little, "By the train"
Christa turned back to Lee, was looking back at Anwyn, "We'll be there!" she shouted.
Lee nodded and started climbing down from the broken sign. He slowly made his way down into an alleyway that led to the next street where the Marsh House stood. The alleyway was practically empty of undead, but that really didn't help Anwyn's anxieties about everything. He disappeared around the corner.
"C'mon, we gotta get out of this city" Christa placed one hand on Anwyn's shoulder, "We should be able to get back to the train by morning"
Anwyn shot one last glance at the alleyway before closing her eyes and standing up straight.
"Yeah. Yeah, let's go"
Anwyn slunk after Christa as she helped Omid keep pace with her.
Christa led the three of them across the rooftops. They were making quite good time, since the light of the full moon and the general lack of obstacles aided their speed. That was until they were forced to cross a street rather than over the top of an alleyway.
"Are you sure it's this way?" Anwyn looked down at the street below. The road was at least three lanes on each side as well as the pavements. It wasn't as full of undead as the other streets, but that wasn't saying much. There were still way too many for them to deal with, "I'm pretty sure if we keep going, we can go around the street entirely"
"No, it's definitely this way" Christa nodded, "We didn't have to go along rooftops last time, but I remember that broken car" she pointed to a run down car crashed into a lamppost with all its parts stripped.
"Alright then Captain, how do you suggest we cross the street?" Anwyn shot back.
"Maybe we could distract them?" Omid suggested, "Like with the bells, but something smaller just to create a gap on this street"
"And how do you suggest we do that?" Anwyn pressed.
The two of them looked down the street for ideas while Anwyn studied the route across. The edge of the city was still ages away, and she was feeling gradually more tired. She guessed they would stop for a few hours somewhere safe to get some sleep before getting to the train by sunrise.
"Wait, I got an idea" Anwyn said, which got Christa and Omid's attention, "See that block of flats there?" she pointed to a building two doors down on their side of the street, "There's a garage door underneath with a heavy duty padlock. That might mean there's still a half-working car in there. We could put a brick on the accelerator and let it crash through the door and whatever else it wants to crash into. That's our distraction"
"Okay. How do we get in there?" Omid asked, "It's locked"
"There'll be a door inside, dingus" Anwyn rolled her eyes, "Whoever left that building last locked it up, so there won't be many Meirw in there, if any" she led the way across the rooftop.
There was a door on the roof of the flats that led to the inner staircase. Much to Anwyn's delight, she had been correct. The few sounds of Meirw they could hear came from behind the locked doors of the individual flats, which meant they were locals. The trio easily got through to the garage. The only thing left was a single, small compact car, one of those that only had one passenger seat and little space for items, but it had it's parts intact and had enough fuel to be a distraction.
"Do we even know how to hotwire a car?" Christa asked as they looked around the car, which was locked.
"So... funny story..." Anwyn started.
"Holy shit, you can hotwire a car?" Omid asked.
"Well, maybe? My dad told me how, but he never exactly showed me and his instructions were super confusing" Anwyn shook her head. She looked through the car window at the locks it had "Okay. I think I know how to get in, at least. I'm gonna need a wedge and a coat hanger. We can try starting it with a screwdriver, but if that doesn't work we're gonna need some wirecutters"
Christa and Omid exchanged glances, "Alright. I'm sure we can find that stuff in one of the apartments"
The three of them trailed back into the hallway and tried the first door they came across. It didn't budge, but the lack of noise behind it encouraged them to break it open. Christa was able to catch herself before she fell to the floor.
"Right, tools. You two know what a screwdriver and wirecutters look like, but I'm gonna hunt for the other things" Anwyn instructed. She split away from them to scavenge the rooms.
She initially checked the master bedroom. Anwyn had no clue where people kept their tools, so she thought it would most likely be better to just completely search the place for what she was looking for. The room was empty of people and corpses, but possessions were everywhere, like whoever lived here hadn't left. It made Anwyn a little uncomfortable, as aside from the layer of dust, the room looked normal and lived in and comfortable, like nothing bad had happened. She tried to shake the thoughts from her mind, but it kept creeping in. What would it be like if none of this had ever happened? It had only been about three months since the plague. It was like a long Summer holiday from school, but it felt like a lifetime since she'd been at school.
So much had happened, if it did all go back to normal one day, she didn't think she'd be able to cope. Anwyn was so used to intimidation and manipulation and strength being a near daily necessity to survive other people (although, mostly strangers), as well as a numbness to death. She certainly couldn't be stuck back in a primary school classroom (although next year was going to be her first year in high school, but a few other things got in the way). What would she do? She'd end up threatening someone or beating the crap out of someone or manipulating teachers or something very not good and get herself in a lot of trouble. She hated to think what she'd be like a few years down the track. Being a teenager, going through puberty and an identity crisis in the middle of a world where the dead tried to eat you and strangers wanted to rob you, rape you, murder you, or all of the above? It would be very hard.
Anwyn shook her head again. It was no use thinking about all this. The future was uncertain, but she was sure she was never going back to school or 'normality' now.
Anwyn peeked in the closet and found a few spare coat hangers among moth eaten clothes. These would be perfect for getting the lock. Now she needed a wedge, a screwdriver, and some wirecutters as a backup.
Looking over the room for a second time, Anwyn moved on to the next room. From the closed door, it looked like a kid's room. Dinosaur stickers littered the door and a little sign read 'Matt's Room' decorated with rockets. Ignoring the sad feeling inside of her, which was already taking up quite a bit of space at being completely unsure whether Lee and Clementine were alive or not, she pushed open the door, and immediately regretted it. The stench was like nothing she had ever smelled. Three bodies lay on the bed and the floor. Two adults and a child. One of the adults was lying beside a gun, and blood and bits of brains were splattered all over the walls. Grimacing, Anwyn glanced around the room, but decided the imagery and the stench was simply too much. She slammed the door shut and gagged a little as she went to open a window (although that probably wouldn't have helped much).
"Hey Annie" Christa said, getting her attention, "guess what we found?"
"Something better than what I found?"
"What did you- Actually, don't answer that, I think I can smell it from here" Christa shook her head. A smile spread across her face as she raised one hand, brandishing a set of keys.
"Car keys?" Anwyn asked, to which Christa nodded, flipping them over to show the same logo the car had, "Perfect. Let's go try them out"
They returned to the garage and clicked the button on the set of keys. The car made the sound of the locks unlocking, which was a sound Anwyn hadn't heard for ages. The three of them smiled at their luck.
"Annie, get Omid around to the alleyway and get ready to run for it" Christa instructed, opening the car door.
"What?" Omid said in surprise, "What about you?"
"Honey, I don't have an injured leg" Christa replied, "I can run"
"Point taken" Anwyn answered for him, "Alright, let's go. No time to waste" Anwyn grabbed Omid's arm and dragged him to the door.
"Yeah, yeah, I get it" Omid pulled his arm free and followed Anwyn out the side door.
They slipped around into the alleyway, which had chainlink fences on either side. The fence on the street they had to cross had a gap torn through in one corner that they could slip through. The sound of the car smashing through the garage door blasted across the street. The car burst through the metal and careened along the street until it crashed into a shop window another three doors down. The wheels still turned with a screeching noise, which would keep the Meirw distracted. Anwyn looked up the street for any stragglers, but the only ones she could see were quite a ways away and would almost immediately lose interest once they were out of sight. She grabbed Omid's arm and started running across the concrete pavement and onto the hard tarmac of the road. None of the Meirw crowded around the car even glanced at them and they reached the opposite alley easily.
"Now where's Christa?" Omid looked back.
She appeared in the alley behind the chainlink fence and waved a little to get their attention. She looked at the state of the street before crawling through the gap and sprinting across. Where Anwyn, being smaller and dragging Omid behind her, took almost a minute to reach the opposite alleyway, Christa took a few seconds.
"You two okay?"
"Yeah, we're fine" Anwyn retorted, "C'mon, let's go"
The group followed the alley along until they found a fire escape they could use to get to the roof, however it only went to the third floor.
"Fuck. We'll have to go into the building and find roof access from inside" Anwyn growled. She pulled open a window and slipped inside.
The building had apparently been a bookstore, as shelves of abandoned literature surrounded them. It made Anwyn a little sad. All this knowledge, just left to rot.
"Maybe we should rest for a little while" Christa suggested, glancing at Omid's leg.
"Just" Anwyn took a breath "make sure Omid isn't about to bleed to death. Make it quick, I want get going"
"Jeez, calm down kid" Omid said, "We've been going pretty much all day and all night. We could use some rest for a couple hours"
Anwyn opened her mouth to argue.
"Omid's right" Christa interrupted her, "The train is only a couple hours away. We'll hit it by morning, even if we do rest for a while"
Anwyn grumbled, but didn't argue. Omid collapsed onto a cushioned armchair, Christa kneeling beside him to check his leg injury, and Anwyn slunk off to browse some of the books. She knew she wouldn't be able to take any of them, but perhaps she could sacrifice a little of her backpack space for something she liked. As she ran her hand down the spines of the books, she mentally crossed off a majority of them as their titles simply didn't spark her attention.
"No. No. No" she muttered, skimming the titles, "No, no, no, no! This section is crap"
Anwyn shook her head and looked around for signs signifying the genre. Apparently, this was the romance section.
"Bleh. Romance" Anwyn rolled her eyes. She looked along the genre signs, but nothing particularly jumped out at her. Sighing a little, she browsed along the next row of shelves. She skimmed along more of the titles. She ground to a halt as one of the titles piqued her interest.
It was a book she had back home, one she'd read many a time before the plague hit, it was a personal favourite. She pulled the book out and looked at the cover with a sense of nostalgia. Large letters coloured gold swirled along the bottom reading 'Wings of Fire'. The cover itself showed five dragons of various colours roaring and looking all badass (although if one actually read the book, the dragons were a bunch of dorks).
Anwyn held the book in one hand as she continued browsing. If this place had books like this, perhaps it wasn't as crap as she previously thought.
A few minutes of aisle browsing later, and Anwyn hadn't found anything else of interest. She was completely willing to keep the book she had, it was pretty light, and would be good to have as a connection to before.
Unfortunately for the book she had, a dark green book with gold coloured text caught her eye. It was quite big, so she had to place the other book aside before pulling it out. The curling letters read 'An Encyclopedia of Herbs for the Modern North American Apothecary'. Anwyn flicked through it. It was the perfect book for her. It listed every useful herb located in the North American continent, complete with detailed illustrations, in its first section, while it's second section contained what looked like hundreds of combinations for almost every injury and illness under the sun.
It was perfect. With Anwyn's own knowledge, she'd be able to interpret it best and maybe even improve some of the treatments.
The problem was, the book was quite big, so if she chose to take it, she wouldn't be able to take the dragon book she so loved. She could perhaps put one of the books in Clementine's bag and get her to carry it, but Anwyn instantly abandoned the idea. It would be unfair to make her sacrifice some of the little backpack space she would have to carry something for Anwyn.
With a sigh, she put the dragon book in the place the encyclopedia once was and slipped the other book into her bag.
"Maybe one day I'll find another copy" Anwyn muttered, "when we have somewhere permanent and safe with room for it"
"Annie?" Christa got her attention. Anwyn slipped through the aisles back to where Omid was sat, Christa now sitting next to him, "This room safe enough to rest in?"
"Yeah. We should be fine for a few hours" Anwyn nodded, "Looksie at what I found" she held up the encyclopedia.
"An Encyclopedia of Herbs for the Modern North American Apothecary?" Omid read aloud, "Uh, cool? Just finding some light Summer reading?"
"No you dingus" Anwyn rolled her eyes before putting the book away again, "I can use it to identify herbs, which we can use to, y'know, treat injuries. Helpful, considering we don't really have companies making proper medicines now"
"Annie's right, that book could really help us" Christa nodded, "But you are pretty young, you think you'll be able to understand that properly?"
"My mother was already beginning to train me as an apothecary like her, I only know some basics. This will fill me in on everything else my mother never had a chance to tell me" Anwyn snapped back.
"Maybe you should rest for a while, you're getting a bit... grouchy" Christa said.
"Rest? How the fuck can I rest when Lee is bitten, missing an arm, has to 'push through' a swarm of Meirw, fight some guy, and keep Clementine safe all the way back to the train?" Anwyn burst, "They could both be dead! Lee could be a Meirw, Clementine could be... That guy could be hurting her right now, and I don't know! I hate not knowing!" she clenched her fists, "What do we do if we get to the train, and they're not there? How long do we wait? What if we wait for ages, and they don't come, so we move on, but then they do show up, and I never know? I don't think I could go through life never knowing what happened to either of them"
"I know, sweetie" Christa said softly. She patted the floor beside her, which Anwyn sat down on and leaned against her. Christa put one arm around her, "It's really frustrating and scary. But there isn't much we can do except wait. If we just keep going, eventually we'll get tired and sloppy and we'll be walker bait for sure" she looked down at Anwyn, "Just try your best to sleep for as much as you can. We'll make sure to get to the train by sunrise"
Anwyn stayed silent. She knew everything Christa said was true, but it didn't help. Anwyn was frustrated and scared and angry and despite literally leaning against another person who she did trust and care about, she still had this awful feeling of loneliness.
"Yeah, I'll try" Anwyn muttered. She let her body relax and shut her eyes, trying to shut out every thought in her head. Just think about the night sky, think about the wind in the trees, think about the sound of windchimes in a breeze, think about tiny owls. Anything.
It seemed to work. Anwyn drifted off into a light slumber, free of nightmares or dreams of any kind.
~~~~Four hours later~~~~
Anwyn startled awake as Christa shook her a little.
"C'mon Annie, time to go"
In her sleepy confusion, Anwyn initially thought she was late for school. Wait, it's Summer. Wait, I'm in America. Wait, shit. The world fucking ended. Wait.. CLEMENTINE. It all came rushing back to her. Clementine is GONE. Lee is DYING. WHERE ARE THEY?
She sat bolt upright, "Yes. Go. To the train. Find Lee and Clem" Anwyn pulled herself to her feet and shook herself awake a little.
Christa led the group through the door to the staircase and onto the rooftop. The moon was on its decline now, slowly starting its journey to sink below the horizon. From what Anwyn could tell, the sun would start rising in a few hours. If she stared at the opposite horizon, where the sun would rise, she could make out a slight orange glow. More like a bit of an orange tinge to the deep, dark blue of the night sky.
She quickly ran after Christa and onto the next rooftop. The train wasn't far.
"I can't see the fucking train anywhere" Anwyn growled, squinting through the dull light. The sun was about to rise, but it hadn't actually risen yet, so the light was incredibly faint and it was impossible to see anything.
"It has to be around here somewhere" Christa retorted, peeking through a set of bushes.
"Hey, maybe we could try over there" Omid pointed to a hill about half a mile from the city.
"The train won't be fucking over there" Anwyn snapped.
"I mean we can wait on the hill for the sun to rise. We'll be able to see anything coming at us and by the time the sun rises, we'll have a clear view of a huge area" Omid replied in a slightly irritated tone.
Anwyn growled a little, "Alright. Fine. Lead the way"
The walk up the hill made Anwyn feel like her legs were on fire. It was a bit of a trek, but her anger at the stranger for taking Clementine, her anger at Clementine for ditching her for a stranger, a horrible creeping sense that felt like anger at Lee for getting bitten, seething anger at herself for letting any of it happen in the first place, it all fueled her to keep pushing up.
When they reached the top of the hill, the sun was beginning to peek over the horizon.
"Now we wait for a while" Omid shrugged.
"MORE WAITING?" Anwyn snapped, hardly able to stop herself from shouting, "ARGH!"
"Hey! Keep your voice down" Christa shot back.
Anwyn stormed off to the other side of the hilltop, keeping watch on the city's edge for any movement. She ignored any attempt at talking and left Christa and Omid alone to keep watch on the other sides of the hill for anything else sneaking up on them.
It must have been another hour or so later. The sun was well and truly up, shining on the golden grass and lighting up the grey, dead city. The train, which they could see, was surrounded by Meirw, so they decided to stay on the hill and keep watch on the city border for signs of Clementine and Lee. So far, none of them could see anything.
"C'mon. Please" Anwyn prayed "Even if it's just Clementine. Please. I can't lose anyone else"
"Annie!" Christa called from behind her. Anwyn whirled around and ran to her side. Christa was looking at a crooked tree in the distance, growing next to an ancient, rusted car, down the hill and off to their right side. A small figure was sat by the tree, looking at them.
"Could that be-?" Omid started.
"It has to be!" Anwyn burst, "It has to be Clem!" she sprinted down the hill towards the tree. Her lungs ached, her legs burned, her feet screamed in pain, but she ignored it all, as well as Christa and Omid shouting after her to be much more careful and not run after strange figures in the distance.
The figure ran back and hid behind the tree, holding a glock out so it would be obvious they were armed.
Anwyn stopped by a fallen log and raised her hands a little, reaching forward.
"Clementine?" she asked hoarsely, completely out of breath.
The figure stepped out from behind the tree. It was Clementine. She dropped the gun and ran to Anwyn, jumping to hug her so hard, she nearly knocked her over.
"Annie! I'm so sorry! I never should've done that! It was so stupid!" Clementine said quickly, words tumbling out like she couldn't stop.
Anwyn drew back and looked at her, "Are you okay? You're not hurt?"
Clementine shook her head, making Anwyn breath a small sigh of relief.
"Where's Lee?" Anwyn looked around, her heart beginning to sink a little, but she refused to believe it, "You get separated? Or is he hiding somewhere?"
Clementine burst into tears and sank her head into Anwyn's shoulder.
"No. He.. He can't... It's not..." Anwyn muttered, staring at the ground, not really seeing anything, and hugging Clementine tight.
"We were- We were getting out of the- Marsh House" Clementine said with a shaking voice through sniffing, "I- I saw- I saw my parents. They were dead. They were- They were those things" she wiped some tears and her running nose clean with the back of the hoodie wrist, "But Lee-" her voice cracked a little, "Lee passed out. I- I managed to get him to a- a jewelry store and- and lock us in to keep us safe. But he couldn't- he couldn't even stand" Clementine looked up at Anwyn, completely distraught, "He told me to- He told me to shoot him"
Anwyn went still. It hit her like a lightning bolt. "You... shot him?"
"I didn't want to! He-"
Anwyn pulled Clementine into a tight hug, tears forcing their way through her emotional barrier, "It isn't your fault"
Clementine pulled herself away, "Yes it is! If I hadn't run away, Lee wouldn't have been bitten, he would still be alive!"
"Clementine!" Anwyn barked, her voice cutting and sharp, "It. Is. Not. Your. Fault. You shouldn't have run away, but in the sense that it was a dick move. Not because of anything that happened to anyone after. Everything that happened, it's not your fault"
Clementine didn't say anything, which told Anwyn that she thought she was still at least partially to blame, but Anwyn knew she could get her to stop thinking that with time. She was in shock. They probably both were.
"Clementine!" Christa and Omid said as they finally caught up, "You're okay! But where's-"
"He's gone" Anwyn cut them off, her voice without emotion. She wiped away her tears, as well as Clementine's, and stood up straight. "C'mon, we should get out of here. Those things won't stay in the city forever"
"But, where will we go?" Omid asked, casting a glance back at the city.
"Lee told me to stay away from cities" Clementine muttered, "Maybe we should just go into the countryside. Find somewhere safe there"
"Yeah. She's right" Anwyn nodded. While Omid and Christa started talking about what they were going to do, Anwyn leaned closer to Clementine and whispered to her, "It's just us now. I'll look out for you, always. We're a team, remember?"
"A team. What was it? Survivor Team" Clementine nodded, "We'll look out for each other"
As the four survivors walked away from Savannah, Anwyn cast one last look back. She still couldn't quite wrap her head around it. Lee, Kenny, Ben. They were all still back there. And they were all dead. As much as she liked Christa and Omid, and she certainly had grown some trust in them, it felt like Clementine was the only family she had left (granted, Lee and Clementine were the only ones she considered 'family', although Kenny was beginning to join that category).
Anwyn looked back at Clementine, who was following Christa and Omid with her head down, staring at the ground.
Anwyn couldn't let any of what happened to the others happen to her. Her incompetence had led to so many deaths, it made her skin crawl. It made her want to tear into herself and rip her soul free to try again. It made her want to be anyone else. But she couldn't do that. All she could do was learn from her mistakes.
"I won't let it happen again" she muttered to herself, "I'll die before that happens"
Clementine glanced back when she noticed Anwyn wasn't beside her, a look of worry replacing the instinctual panic. Anwyn quickly jogged to catch up, giving Clementine a small, warm smile.
So, this is the end of Season One of the game! Don't worry, as you might've guessed from the tags, I am writing all four seasons, so expect the next chapter (aka the start of Season Two) to be posted at a similar schedule to the rest of it. I ain't done with Anwyn yet! (sorry Annie)
Chapter 20: Almost No One Left
Anwyn slipped through the bushes, almost silently. Clementine was right beside her, matching her careful, quiet motion through the tall grass and bushes. The two of them liked being ahead of Christa and Omid, where they could be in the quiet and be alone. As much as they both liked Christa and Omid, they put each other first every time.
It had been about six months since they'd left Savannah. Anwyn had grown to trust Christa and Omid deeply, and cared about them almost like she had Lee. She found Omid's humor to be a light in the darkness, and Christa's kindness was like a fire on a cold night. Clementine was already getting better at shooting, and Anwyn spent most of her nights reading the apothecary book, memorising as much as she could, although it had been going rather slow.
Anwyn stopped behind a fallen log when she caught sight of the measured, symmetrical form of a building. It could mean people. She studied the structure for a second, trying to determine if there were any residents.
"What do you see?" Clementine asked quietly, slipping in beside her.
"Petrol station" Anwyn replied, "Looks abandoned, but it's best to expect the worst"
"We should wait for Christa and Omid" Clementine said quickly, "If it is worst case scenario"
"Don't worry, I'm waiting" Anwyn nodded gently.
As if on cue, Omid appeared from behind them leading Christa, who was holding a rifle, through the underbrush, looking as if they were in the middle of a conversation. Anwyn cast a half worried glance at Christa. She was heavily pregnant, which made her much slower, and the entirety of the group were always worried something might happen to her or the baby.
"You two find something?" Omid asked, keeping his voice down.
"Petrol station. Most likely abandoned" Anwyn replied.
Omid and Christa crouched behind the log as well and looked out at the building.
"Yeah. It looks deserted" Christa nodded, "Let's just give it a second to see if anything does happen"
They went back to watching the station silently for a short while, before they exchanged glances. It was completely abandoned.
"What do you think?" Omid asked, making Anwyn think he was asking about the station before realising he was talking about their previous conversation as he stood up and started towards the building.
"Omid, you can't be serious" Christa shook her head, walking alongside him.
"I am!" Omid protested. Anwyn helped Clementine hop over the fallen tree and follow after the two adults.
"We are NOT doing that" Christa insisted.
"Come on, Christa. What's wrong with 'Omid'?" Ah, they were discussing names. Both Anwyn and Clementine had refused to have anything to do with that conversation. They both felt it was simply not up to them.
"We're not calling our baby Omid. One of you is enough. Clem? Annie? A little help here?" Christa looked back at them.
"You two should decide" Clementine replied.
"Yeah. You're the one having the baby"
"But the vote's deadlocked" Omid protested.
"Yeah, well, my vote counts for two" Christa turned back around with a slightly smug look.
"That's not fair"
"Are you going into labor soon? No? Then don't talk to me about fair" Christa shot back, "And you're not taking this seriously"
"I take everything seriously. Especially little Omid's future"
"Keep talkin' and you'll be sleeping in the rain tonight. Remember thattime in Barstow?" Christa threatened, although her tone said it was not serious.
"Vegas weekend" Omid commented as Christa disappeared into one of the bathrooms around the back of the petrol station. Omid quickly turned to the girls before he followed her, "Why don't you two, uh, get cleaned up in the girl's room?"
"I hope the sink works in there" Clementine commented, glancing at the door.
"Probably not" Anwyn shrugged, pushing the door open a little and looking inside.
"Just be careful, and make sure to keep track of your things. We'll be right next door" Omid said before he entered the other bathroom.
Anwyn led the way into the bathroom, her knife at the ready in one hand. The bathroom was covered in a layer of dust and dirt and stuff that Anwyn didn't really want to think about. There were three stalls all poorly lit by a tiny sliver of a window to the outside on the opposite wall.
Clementine looked at Anwyn, who made a 'quiet' gesture. She pushed open the door of the first stall, both girls peeked inside. There wasn't anything dangerous in there, but the toilet was clogged and broken, the tiles surrounding it caked in a layer of dried waste. They both made disgusted faces at one another before moving on to the next stall.
The next stall was also empty, but sat on the toilet was a stuffed animal half soaked in dried blood. Clementine and Anwyn exchanged glances before Anwyn just shook her head and closed the door again.
They looked in the final stall, which was thankfully empty, and about as clean as the rest of the bathroom.
"Good, no one's here. Guess it's safe to get cleaned up" Clementine said as Anwyn shut the door of the final stall. They went to stand in front of one of the mirrors.
"Man, I really miss running water" Anwyn commented as she looked at her reflection. Both her and Clementine had dirt smudged all over their faces, but that was expected. Neither of them had had a proper shower in months.
"Tell me about it" Clementine said as she set her backpack onto the counter. Anwyn put hers down for a second, but immediately put it back on her back when she'd grabbed the water bottle she had.
Anwyn poured a little of the water on a spare piece of cloth she had and wiped down her face and hands, getting rid of all the dirt she could see. When she looked up, Clementine was doing the same, but Anwyn could still see some dirt she'd missed.
"Give that here, you're missing most of that crap" Anwyn turned Clementine towards her and started wiping away all the dirt visible, "You're like the opposite of those old cleaning liquids"
"You miss ninety-nine percent of dirt" Anwyn smiled a little at her own joke, but Clementine rolled her eyes.
"Alright Mom, I'm sure you're doing so much better"
"Well, I have actually" Anwyn drew back and presented her to mirror, "voilà"
"I don't see much diff-" Clementine started, but interrupted herself as she went to grab her bag and knocked the bottle of water she had placed next to it. It bounced to the floor and rolled under one of the stall doors. "Shoot!"
Anwyn opened the stall door and leaned over to pick up the bottle, "Clumsy, clumsy, clumsy" she muttered as she looked back. Clementine was stood in the opened doorway with an expression that screamed 'seriously?' but Anwyn found endlessly funny.
But behind her, in the mirror, Anwyn caught sight of the bathroom door opening. Out of instinct, she grabbed Clementine and yanked her into the stall, closing the door just as she caught sight of a woman who was neither Christa nor Omid enter the bathroom. Anwyn pushed Clementine behind her, hoping that she might be able to hide her if this stranger found them. Through the gap between the door and the stall, Anwyn watched as the stranger picked up a gun. In panic, she looked back at Clementine, who was staring back with a look of terror, and was without her gun.
Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, Anwyn thought. The stranger started opening stall doors, making Anwyn shake. It was like a horrifying countdown to their own death, if that's what this stranger really wanted. Anwyn's mind was racing as to what to do. It was possible they could use their young ages to manipulate this stranger into at least giving back Clementine's backpack and let them go, but Anwyn was under no illusions. This stranger could be the kind to fuck over everyone around them, and wouldn't care about their ages.
Too late. The stranger was looking through the gap, and was staring Anwyn directly in the eye. She pointed the gun at her.
"I see you. Get outta there" she growled.
"Leave me alone" Anwyn retorted. She shot a glance at Clementine that meant 'stay quiet. Stay behind me', and Clementine nodded. She quickly ducked down and crawled into the next stall over, hidden completely from this stranger.
"Don't think I will"
"Just fuck off and leave me alone" Anwyn growled back, stoking the burning rage that was always cooking at the back of her mind.
"Are you stupid or somethin'?" the stranger opened the stall door and pointed the gun directly at Anwyn's head, "Get out here"
Anwyn complied, but kept a death glare on her face, not breaking eye contact with the stranger. The stranger kept the gun raised as she searched through Clementine's backpack.
"You got anything on you?" she asked "Come on, let's see. I ain't gonna ask again"
"I got a burning rage and you're just the excuse for me to let off some steam" Anwyn hissed, clenching her fists.
"You take a fucking step and I'll pop you. Give me what you got. I'm not screwing around! Come on" the stranger waved the gun a little, like she was proving she had the upper hand.
"You don't scare me" Anwyn spat, which was a complete lie. She was petrified, but she focused everything on her anger instead, trying to drown it out.
The stranger looked Anwyn up and down, her gaze resting on Anwyn's knife, which was in its holster on her thigh, "Gimme that knife"
"Where'd you get it?" the stranger said, but Anwyn didn't answer "I asked you a question"
"I killed someone for it. They looked kinda like you now that I think about it. Insecure, scared, fucking stupid-"
"Shut the fuck up" the stranger half shouted back, going through the backpack again. "Junk. Junk. Junk. Look at all this junk. Shit. Shit. And more shit. Why you ain't got nothin' good? Not like the last people I got. They had all kinds of good shit. That was a good catch. You ain't got nothin' good. You just a little fish. You gonna cry, little fish?" the stranger goaded a little.
Anwyn kept eye contact with her as best she could, but in her peripheral vision, she saw Omid open the door to the bathroom. He looked between Anwyn and the stranger with shock and started sneaking towards her.
"This your daddy?" the stranger asked, holding the picture of Lee Clementine still had, "Nah, can't be. What a bozo"
The door clicked shut, and the stranger whirled around in a panic. A gunshot sounded, making Anwyn feel almost deaf for a moment. Omid stood with a stunned look on his face, clutching his chest as blood spread along his shirt. He fell to the floor, completely limp. Christa burst through the door, rifle to hand and looked down at Omid.
"I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to!" the stranger dropped the gun and raised her hands, "I didn't mean-"
Christa just raised the rifle and shot her, flinging her to the wall. The stranger slid to the floor, grasping at her stomach as she bled out.
"Oh, god... Omid. Oh, god... Omid. Omid, can you hear me? Omid" Christa sobbed as she lifted Omid, holding him close.
Clementine pushed open the stall door and looked at Anwyn, who glanced at her with a grief stricken expression. Clementine looked at Christa as she held Omid's body and wept over him. She shook her head and looked away, holding Anwyn's arm and hiding her face into her shoulder. Anwyn pulled her close and hugged her.
This was what she hated. Omid had died at the hands of someone who was already dead. Anwyn couldn't hide behind her rage now. Instead, it was gone, leaving a massive hole for the sadness to fill.
Omid was gone.
Chapter 21: Loneliness
~~~Sixteen Months Later~~~
Rain soaked through both the sleeveless denim jacket and the white, long sleeve shirt Anwyn wore. It made her feel frozen right through to the bone, and the dying campfire she sat before didn't help to warm her. A skinned rabbit was skewered above the crackling flames, their attempts at cooking something, but the rain was making it impossible. Thankfully, they had eaten the day before, so they weren't as desperate as they had sometimes been to eat.
Anwyn scratched the small scar on the corner of her left palm. She'd made the mistake of trying to grab a fleeing raccoon, and all she'd gotten was a deep clawing scratch on one hand, rather than a half full stomach. Thankfully, her apothecary knowledge had grown ten fold in sixteen months, so she easily treated it with her little stash of herbs she had steadily collected since she'd gotten the book back in Savannah.
She cast a glance at Clementine, who sat beside her. Clementine was staring into the fire, wearing that awful blank, tired expression Anwyn had found her with far too frequently.
She looked past Clementine to Christa, who had a similar expression. Even after Omid had died, she'd still tried to remain warm and hopeful, wanting to give their child the best she could offer in this world. But after the miscarriage, it was like she was almost empty. Anwyn supposed that she had long since taken more responsibility of taking care of herself and Clementine than she should have, but it still stung a little that Christa wasn't as warm anymore. She understood why, it was hard to be like that after losing so much, but it didn't take the stinging pain away.
Clementine returned Anwyn's look, both exchanging tired expressions. Anwyn returned her gaze to the dying flickers of the fire.
"Christa. Talk to me" Clementine finally broke the silence.
Christa didn't reply. She sighed and stood up from the fallen tree they were resting on, picking up the stick they had been using to tend to the fire.
"This'll never work. Look at this...it's pathetic" She muttered as she tried turning over the bits of wood they had gathered "The wood's too wet toburn... There's more smoke than flame... At this rate, we'll be eating this forbreakfast"
"What else can we do?" Clementine sighed, her voice sounded like it was too much effort.
"Find something that'll burn, maybe. I dunno. Won't be easy in the darkand in the rain" Christa said, "You two should be doing this, not me. Tending a fire so you can cook and stay warm...it's something you have to be able to do. Otherwise..."
"We can't build a big fire at night. It attracts too much attention. It'stoo dangerous when we're out here by ourselves, and it would be worse if it was just me and Clem" Anwyn replied, pulling her legs up so her chin rested on her knees.
"We need to eat, don't we? We can't survive without food" Christa shook her head.
Out of the corner of Anwyn's eye, she noticed Clementine wrap her arms around herself.
"I'm freezing" she muttered. Anwyn immediately put one arm around her, trying to share what little warmth she had.
"You think this is bad, wait 'til we get up to Wellington, then talk tome about cold" Christa said, "If we make it. We still have a couple hard months ahead of us.This rain will turn to sleet, then ice, then snow. It won't be easy"
"It'll be better there, right?" Clementine asked through gritted teeth.
"Safer, maybe. So they say. But I don't know" Christa shook her head again.
"It better be" Anwyn muttered.
"It has to be. I know it will" Clementine nodded, looking at Anwyn with a streak of hopefulness in her eyes. That was what Anwyn had wanted in Clementine. To be hopeful and happy.
"We'll see" Christa said, "We just need to keep moving north"
The three of them fell silent again.
"I miss Lee" Clementine muttered, looking down.
"So do I" Anwyn nodded a little.
"I'm sure you do" Christa said, looking up from the campfire. She looked back at the dying fire and sighed, "I'm gonna go look for more wood. You two just keep the fire lit" Christa stood up straight and disappeared off into the woods.
Clementine watched the fire while Anwyn kept a lookout on their surroundings. She kept completely still, a little tense, as she stared into the darkness. All she could hear was the wind rustling the leaves overhead and the crackling of the fire. The crackling sputtered out, making her glance sideways at what had just been the fire. The dim light they had gotten from it died with the fire, leaving the two of them in almost complete darkness.
"Well, fuck" Anwyn sighed, rubbing her eyes.
"I've got the lighter, hang on" Clementine stood up and took a few steps towards the end of the fallen tree they were sat on. It was partially hollow, which was perfect for keeping their bags out of the rain. She rummaged around, trying to find the lighter, while Anwyn kept her watch.
After a minute, Clementine stood up, grasping the lighter in one hand. She moved over to the fire and knelt beside it. She flicked the lighter and set a piece of paper ablaze, using it as tinder to get the fire going again.
"Better. But still not enough. The flames are too low" Clementine said, moving to one side to look back at Anwyn.
"Use that" Anwyn pointed to a log they had set aside. Clementine threw the log into the flames and stoked the fire.
"Shit" Anwyn whispered, standing up, "Do you hear that?" The two girls strained their ears, staring into the darkness. It sounded like voices. Multiple males by the sound of it.
"Is Christa in trouble?" Clementine looked over at Anwyn, a worried look on her face.
"Probably" Anwyn really didn't want to follow those voices, but if Christa was in danger, Anwyn wanted to try to help. Anwyn stood up, "Fuck. Stay here, I'll go see what-"
"I'm coming with you" Clementine said. Anwyn looked back to argue, but Clementine shot her a no nonsense glare that meant she wouldn't be convinced otherwise. "We stick together"
"Alright" Anwyn nodded. She quickly grabbed her backpack, like she always did whenever she left the campsite (even if it was for a very short time) and stalked into the trees, Clementine close behind her.
The voices got louder. It sounded like the group of guys were arguing, shouting and making accusations to someone. Anwyn prayed it wasn't who she knew it most likely was. Unfortunately for her, she heard Christa's voice.
"I'm by myself"
"You're obviously with someone, where's your group?" one of the men growled. Anwyn and Clementine could see them all now. The two of them hid behind a tree and watched anxiously.
"Don't fucking lie to us!" one shouted.
"Who do you think you're foolin'?"
"Give us the truth and you don't get hurt"
"You fuckin' with me?" one shoved Christa, trying to threaten her, which made Anwyn clench her fists in her building rage, "Where's the rest of your group?!"
"I- I'm by myself" Christa stammered, taking a step back.
Before Anwyn could do anything, a rock sailed right past her face and struck one of the men right in the face.
"What the fuck...?" the guy held his face in one hand, whirling around to see who had dared attack him.
"CHRISTA, RUN!" Clementine shouted.
Anwyn shoved Clementine back, forcing them both to bolt as the guy gave chase. She glanced back when she heard a gunshot, a horrible sinking feeling worming in her gut. Was Christa-?
No time to think about that! Anwyn forced herself to face forward. The rain was starting to pick, changing from a light spitting to a quite harsh downpour.
"Get the fuck over here! NOW!" they guy roared.
Clementine jumped behind a tree, grabbing Anwyn by the scruff of her neck as she went past and half dragging her into the same hiding place. They remained still as they both prayed their pursuer would keep running on, but no luck. He stopped as he pushed through a bush and looked around for them.
"Motherfucker! Come out here, girls. I'm not fucking around"
Anwyn shook her head. He would discover them in no time, so she grabbed Clementine's hand and darted forward.
"Shit! Get the fuck over here!" the guy chased after them.
A half fallen tree stood in their way, but Anwyn easily passed over it, recalling her old parkour skills that hadn't had much use since they'd abandoned the cities, and Clementine rolled under it, keeping her speed and getting back to her feet and back to running in the blink of an eye.
"Goddamn it!" they heard the guy shout as he had to slow down a little to pass it, making the two girls exchange humorous expressions.
They kept running, but out of nowhere, a Meirw lunged for them.
"The fuck?" Anwyn hissed as she dodged under it's grasp and Clementine side stepped it.
Their pursuer had to stop to take care of it, but the girls had to stop as well. Their path was completely blocked by tall fallen trees and jagged branches. Anwyn unsheathed her knife and readied herself for a fight. Clementine tried to do the same, breaking off one of the sharp branches and brandishing it like a weapon. Their pursuer charged at them as soon as the Meirw lay dead in the mud, but both girls dodged aside. He scrabbled to stop before turning himself into a human kebab, but Anwyn and Clementine did that for him anyway as they stabbed his upper torso.
"Jesus, are you fuckin' kidding me?!" he roared, clutching his back in pain.
"Over there!" Anwyn grabbed Clementine by the hand and led her through a gap in the fallen trees. They were almost in the clear, but skidded to a halt when they reached the river. The water was deep and the storm was making it violently rush by. Trying to escape this way would mean certain death.
"LEAVE ME ALONE!" Clementine suddenly shouted. Anwyn whirled around, face contorted into a rageful snarl and knife steady in one hand. Their attacker had grabbed Clementine.
"Then stop fucking running! Quit squirming!" he growled.
Anwyn stabbed him in the leg, over and over again, making him howl in pain.
"Ahhh! Fuuuck! Aahh! Ow, you little bitch, Jesus Christ!" He half crumpled to the ground, allowing Clementine to wrench free.
Anwyn grabbed Clementine and pushed her forward into a hollow log, following close behind her. The guy would not let up. He grabbed Anwyn's leg, and despite her kicking his hand with all her strength (and her legs were very strong), he dragged her back into the downpour.
"Annie!" Clementine shouted, wriggling out of the hollow tree and attacking the man, utilising all the knowledge of sensitive areas Anwyn had told her about.
"Jesus, are you fuckin' kidding me?!" the guy let go of Anwyn, grabbing Clementine and forcing her to ground, holding her hands back. "Kid, you are on my LAST fucking nerve!"
Before Anwyn could leap up to attack him with her knife, Clementine had kicked him away enough so a nearby Meirw could grab him. It didn't have enough strength to pull him close to kill him, but his preoccupation with it allowed Clementine to get free. Another Meirw that was trapped behind and tree grabbed Clementine's arm through the branches, trying to pull her closer. Anwyn used her knife to stab it through the eye, killing it instantly. Another Meirw lunged at them, but Anwyn just pushed Clementine out of the way and stepped aside herself so it fell on their pursuer instead. Unfazed by it's miss, it simply tore into its new prey instead. The guy screeched for a second before it ripped out his throat, leaving him to make nothing more than gurgling noises as blood filled his throat.
"C'mon" Anwyn beckoned Clementine after her. They kept sprinting away from this pack of Meirw, but their numbers never seemed to end. Every turn around every tree forced them to dodge more undead. Clementine tripped and fell, her back to the raging river, Meirw closing in. Anwyn stepped in front of her. There were only three right now. She could take the one closest and give Clementine enough time to-
"Annie-!" Anwyn whirled around. Clementine had crawled backwards, away from the Meirw, and the earth had crumbled beneath her, throwing her into the river.
"CLEMENTINE!" Anwyn roared, watching as her best friend was swept away. In the dark storm, she would be out of sight in seconds. Ignoring the burning in her lungs, she sprinted along the river, trying to keep Clementine in sight.
"Hang on! Try to grab something!" Anwyn tried to shout, but the storm drowned her out.
Not paying attention to where she was looking, Anwyn tripped head over heels on a boulder, landing with much force on her front. Trying to ignore it, she shakily pulled herself up, trying to look forward, back to the river. But she was too late. Clementine had been washed away, out of sight.
Clementine was gone.
Chapter 22: Tracks
Anwyn dug her nails into one arm, forcing her own tiredness away as best she could. Even the midday sunlight couldn't stop her sluggish movement and drooping eyelids. She been up all night and well into the following day, tracking Clementine along the river. Every clear piece of riverbank or sandbar, she checked for tracks or signs that her friend had washed ashore. But in all those hours she saw nothing.
Anwyn closed her eyes for a second before realising what she was doing and forced them open again. She refused to rest until she found Clementine, and every second she felt her body grow tired, she caused herself some form of pain, punishing her body for daring to be tired.
She shifted her backpack slightly, feeling the weight of it pull on her shoulders, hoping the slight pain it gave after hours of non-stop travel might be enough to wake her, but if anything, it made her more tired.
"Fuck. I have to sleep. I'll drop at this rate" Anywn shook her head. She studied her surroundings, trying to find somewhere to shelter. The only thing around her were trees and bushes, but a collection of boulders a few feet from the river looked vaguely promising. Anwyn approached them and found a shallow cave formed from one boulder leaning against another. It wouldn't be a great place, but it was the best she had, and it was only temporarily after all.
"I'll just rest a couple hours. Until nightfall" Anwyn nodded to herself, placing the backpack on the ground and using it as a pillow. She let her eyes close and sank into an uneasy rest.
Anwyn jolted awake. Sunshine lit up the inside of the cave as it had when she had allowed herself to sleep. Initially, she thought that perhaps it was late afternoon or evening, but the sun was rising, and she felt no fatigue.
"Fuck!" she roared, jumping to her feet and grabbing her bag "I must've slept all night as well"
She checked the outside of the cave was deserted, which it was, and darted down to the river. After splashing some water on her face and drinking until her tongue stopped scraping across the roof of her mouth, Anwyn continued along the side of the river.
Now the storm had subsided, the river was much more serene, bubbling along its track elegantly. But Anwyn didn't let herself get sucked into the beauty of the scenery. She focused on the shoreline, only glancing up every so often to check for other dangers.
Anwyn walked for hours. The day felt like an eternity. Every time Anwyn checked the position of the sun for the time, it looked exactly like it had before. As she traveled, all she could do to amuse herself was stage imaginary fights and arguments in her head, which she would obviously play her part aloud in.
"You think I'm a little fish, but I'll rip your pathetic throat out" she paused, "Your pleads of mercy fall on deaf ears" she paused again, "Yes I know, I know. I'm the hero. We're safe and Omid is okay. Yes. Of course. I am everyone's knight in shining armour, obviously..." she sighed.
Finally, just as the sun was beginning to sink behind a layer of dark clouds, turning the sky a dull grey and making it harder to see, Anwyn was forced inland a little. The shore dropped below the edge of the forest a little, almost as far down as Anwyn was tall. Out in the river, an wrecked, upended canoe snagged on a boulder, reeds poking between the rotting wood planks, feeding from a trapped Meirw. Anwyn stood by the edge of the drop off, studying the sand and reeds below. A broken set of wooden stairs marked the edge of the drop off, and closer to where Anwyn stood, another upended canoe was nestled in the sand. It wasn't a full wreckage, and on its side was a decorative label for something called 'Jr. Tanuki'S Kid's Camp'.
Anwyn expected to feel some sort of longing for before from seeing a reminder of something that was focused on entertaining children, feeding their curiosity and sense of adventure, but Anwyn felt nothing. It was no use pining for something she would never see again, and no point in crying over her lost childhood. Things just were the way they were and she could do nothing about any of it.
Looking back along the shore of the river, she studied the sand, looking for any disturbances. It had been a little over two years since human civilisation had crumbled, so any marks left by the children of that summer camp would have long since washed away. She looked closely, hoping for anything.
There! Anwyn ran along the side of the drop off, leaning forward a little, until she reached the top of the broken stairs. Some of the sand was disturbed, leading from the river itself to the broken stairs. The footprints looked small, and the larger imprint, of what appeared to be a person lying down, was small enough to be Clementine. From what Anwyn could tell, Clementine had washed ashore and woken up there, climbing up the crumbling bits of wooden stairs to the edge of the forest.
Anwyn turned around to face the trees. Most of the forest was choked with thick bushes and tall grasses, but a footpath still remained. Clementine must have followed it, the only other option for her being to follow the river upstream to find Anwyn, but if she had done that, Anwyn would have found her already.
Ignoring the dead Meirw with a sign speared in its head and the small grave constructed out of sticks, Anwyn followed along the trail.
The forest was deathly quiet, it made Anwyn very uncomfortable. It grew darker and darker, and the silence only made her more tense. Even in the dim light, she could make out a sign marking something on one side of the trail, but in the darkness, even with the bright yellow background on the sign, the most she could see on it were a bunch of animal shapes. Shaking her head, she kept walking.
It was getting too dark to see, and Anwyn desperately didn't want to lose Clementine's tracks. Only a few minutes later, she came across some abandoned campsite. From the looks, and sound of it, it was completely empty. A collection of shredded tents stood opposite where Anwyn had entered the camp, a rusted grill and bin lay between them, and a broken down van that had been stripped for parts sat to one side.
Anwyn checked the van out for anywhere inside she could sleep, but there was nowhere properly safe. The doors and windows were gone, she would be pretty exposed, but there was enough room under the car for her to at least wriggle in and be out of sight. Pulling her backpack off her back, she crawled under the rusting wreck and hugged her bag close. She hoped she wouldn't sleep as long as had before.
Anwyn awoke with such a jump she banged her head hard against the underside of the car.
"OW! Fuck" she snapped, rubbing the back of her head with one hand as she jimmied her way out of the awkward hiding spot. Once she was stood up straight, she could see everything much better in the late morning light.
The campsite was a mess of trash and boxes of rotting personal possessions. Anwyn studied the ground for tracks, and she found plenty of them that had to belong to Clementine, but another set of tracks looked like those of a dog. She felt some vague confusion. Had Clementine found a dog? The tracks looked to be about the same age, so she had most likely been in the camp with the dog.
"Maybe she did find a dog" Anwyn muttered, "cool"
Anwyn followed the tracks past the van and stopped dead. The body of a dog lay by one of the shredded tents. It had been impaled on broken supports for the tents and it had a gash in its throat. It had to be at least two days old. Anwyn tried to think what could have happened. There was blood around its mouth, but she didn't know whether it had attacked Clementine or it had been coughing up blood from being impaled. The gash looked like a knife wound, so clearly Clementine had taken pity on the dying creature and ended it quickly.
"It wouldn't have just fallen on the supports, it must have attacked Clem" Anwyn looked at the dirt around it, which had all been kicked up.
Spurred on by the image of Clementine with some form of injury, Anwyn picked up the pace as she followed the single set of tracks that led away from the camp. They didn't go far before she found a large boulder settled in the middle of the trees. A couple of dead Meirw littered the place, making Anwyn's heart race. Was Clementine okay? This Meirw was quite big, could Clementine have taken it on by herself? Then Anwyn found something that truly concerned her.
Two more sets of tracks converged with Clementine's here, two adults, and Clementine's tracks ended, meaning they had carried her. With shaking hands, Anwyn looked in the direction they went. Clementine had been taken by these strangers. What were they doing with her? Was she trying to escape? Could she get away?
Anwyn ran after the tracks, panic starting to set in a little. Finally, she reached a break in the trees. On the other side of the break was a massive clearing filled with golden grass, and at the centre of the clearing stood a house. It was two floors, complete with a small shed hidden away at the edge of the clearing. Anwyn looked at all the windows, trying to see if anyone was there. This is where the tracks led, so the most likely scenario was this was where the two adults lived and where Clementine was being kept prisoner. She couldn't see anyone, but on the other side of the clearing, she could see bushes rustling wildly. Before anyone could see her, she leapt behind a collection of bushes, keeping completely still as she watched the other side of the clearing.
A group of people pushed through into the clearing. The group was led by a young man with short brown hair and a machete in a sheath tied to his back. Following right on his heels was another man, quite tall and thin, with the hint of a beard on his face, a deep red baseball hat on his head, and a rifle in his hands. There was another man behind them wearing a plaid shirt. Another man appeared in the clearing, quite large with very short hair that was greying slightly, and he was lagging a little behind to stay close to a pregnant woman.
Anwyn cursed herself a little under her breath. If she had been a little quicker, she could have raided the house and freed Clementine while they were all out in the woods. There must be at least one other member of their group to keep watch on their prisoner, which Anwyn found increasingly irritating.
The group disappeared into the house, allowing Anwyn to slowly emerge from the trees and approach the house. If she could find where Clementine was, perhaps she could create a distraction on one side of the house and sneak in, free her, then escape. She crawled up to the porch and peeked through the window. There was a large main room at the centre of the house, which was currently empty and looked quite warm and inviting, if one ignored the obviously evil group of child kidnappers.
There was a door to a back room opposite the window, which was slightly ajar. From what Anwyn could see, the entire group was gathered there. She looked around for some idea of how to distract them. She noticed a round stone to one side and picked it up. Throwing it through a window would certainly distract the lot of them, but where to throw it? Throwing it in that back room would only lead them outside, leaving Anwyn with no time to run and hide and sneak in, but if she threw it here, into that sectioned off part of the main room. That would force them completely out of whatever that back room was, and they would inevitably go outside to investigate where it came from, giving Anwyn plenty of time to sneak in and find Clementine.
Moving away from the house a little, Anwyn pulled back and threw the stone with all her might. It crashed through the window, shattering the glass and sending shards everywhere. As soon as she heard the crash, she bolted around the house, keeping to the cover of the trees until she reached the back of the house. There was the back door where that group had entered the house.
Anwyn kept low to the ground as she hurried over to one of the windows. There was still someone in there. Two someones actually. That pregnant woman and a girl. The girl definitely wasn't Clementine, she was taller than Anwyn, with shoulder length hair, which Clementine wouldn't dream of having.
One of the other group members shouted something, leading the woman and the girl out of the back room. Once they were out of sight, Anwyn nudged open the door and slipped inside, quiet as a mouse. She realised that this back room was actually a kitchen, but didn't pay it much mind as she made for the other door.
Before opening the door a little to peek at what was going on, Anwyn put her ear to the door, listening intently for any noise. She didn't think she could hear anything, so she stepped back a little to open the door. But the door was pushed open on the other side. That girl was back. She stopped dead, completely shocked to see Anwyn there, reaching for the door handle. Anwyn got over her surprise quicker and grabbed the girl by her shirt, drawing her knife and holding it to her neck.
"DAD!" the girl screeched. This was what Anwyn had wanted to avoid, but had been too slow to prevent. She forced the girl around, holding her in the traditional hostage position. The entirety of the group rushed into the main room, guns drawn.
"Sarah!" the man in plaid shouted in dismay. He looked at Anwyn with a death glare, "You hurt her and I'll shoot!"
"Shut the fuck up" Anwyn growled, keeping her voice level, "I let her go in exchange for your prisoner"
"Prisoner? What prisoner? We don't keep no one-" the young man with the machete started.
"I said shut the fuck up" Anwyn cut him off, "I tracked her for miles, and her tracks end where two tracks intercept, meaning she was carried, and she wouldn't let anyone carry her"
"Wait. Do you mean Clementine?"
"Yes I fucking mean Clementine!" Anwyn couldn't stop the emotion from seeping into her speech, but she took a quick breath to regain her composure. She'd learned quickly that an emotionless figure was a more threatening one. "Now, I'll say it again. Set her free with me, and you'll get your kid back, safe and sound"
The door behind them opened again, making Anwyn tense. This must be the other person in their group, the one guarding Clementine. They'd be best to threaten.
But it wasn't another member of their little group.
"Clementine?" Anwyn muttered in surprise.
"Anwyn?" Clementine said in the same tone.
"What- You know this girl?" the man in plaid spat.
"Yes, please, drop your weapons!" Clementine said to the group, "Annie, let Sarah go!"
Anwyn immediately released the girl, Sarah, and sheathed her knife, which seemed to convince the group to drop their weapons. Clementine ran to her, throwing her arms around her and hugging her tight. "I thought I'd lost you. I've been trying to track you for days"
"At least your tracking skills are still sharp" Clementine half joked. She pulled away, "Annie, I'm not being kept prisoner, they saved my life" she motioned to the group.
"What happened?" Anwyn held Clementine's left arm, which was wrapped in bandages.
"I got attacked by a dog and was passing out when Luke found me, brought me here" Clementine explained quickly.
"Which one is Luke? I guess I owe him" Anwyn looked up at the group.
"That's Luke" Clementine motioned to the young man with the machete, "and that's Nick" the man in the deep red baseball hat, "Rebecca" the pregnant woman, "Alvin" the large man with greying hair, "Sarah, and Carlos", the man in plaid. "Carlos is a doctor"
"So you were the one to treat her injury?"
"Uh, not really.." Clementine said.
"They thought it was a walker bite, so they locked me in the shed overnight and I had to stitch it myself" Clementine explained, trying to make it seem lighter than it was.
"They did WHAT?" Anwyn burst, glaring at the group, "Do you wanna get stabbed? Because this is how you get stabbed. By me"
"Look, I've already forgiven it, and Carlos did treat it properly-" Clementine was cut off by Anwyn turning her around and lowering her voice.
"Are you sure you want to stick around with this lot?" Anwyn asked, "They can't tell a Meirw bite from a dog bite and you almost died because of it. I'd say they weren't terribly bright"
"They've had some bad experiences, they're just being sure" Clementine said, "And I like them. Luke is kind, and I think Sarah needs some friends her age. Plus, they're being chased by some guy called Carver, and he saw me with them, so it's safer to travel with them, at least for a while"
Anwyn sighed, rubbing her eyes, "Alright then Clem. Christa's.. gone. We don't have anyone else, and I don't think I could look after us alone" she stood up straight and turned back to the group.
"I am sorry for my.. aggressive entrance, I thought Clementine was in trouble" Anwyn apologised, averting her gaze, "My name is Anwyn, although most call me Annie"
"You trust this girl, Clem?" Luke asked, shooting Anwyn an unfriendly glare.
"With my life" Clementine replied immediately, making Anwyn feel a little better.
"Alright then" Luke nodded, "You're welcome to come along with us"
"She threatened my daughter!" Carlos protested.
"What if she turns on us for some convoluted reason she comes up with to 'protect' Clementine?" Rebecca added.
Anwyn raised her hands in a surrender pose, "I give you my word, I won't hurt you. I can be a bit aggressive and protective of Clem, but she's the only family I have left. You understand?"
"You guys gotta admit, she'd be handy on our side" Alvin said.
"Neither of us have anyone else" Clementine added, "and we are still just kids"
"I'm fine with her staying" Luke said, "if Clem vouches for her, I'm fine with it"
"Me too" Nick nodded, "Clementine helped Pete, at this point, I trust her judgement"
"I think it's a terrible idea" Rebecca growled.
"I have to agree with Rebecca" Carlos said.
"I think she should stay" Alvin said, "I'd rather have someone like her on my side"
"Yeah, I think she could stay" Sarah spoke up, "If Dad thought I was in trouble, he'd probably be super angry and mean to make sure I was okay"
"Then it's decided" Luke nodded, "Annie stays"
"Thank you" Anwyn said, "Clementine mentioned someone called Carver following you? How bad a threat is he?"
"Very bad" Luke replied, "He's got a lot of guns and he'll stop at nothing to get us"
"Fucking perfect" Anwyn held the bridge of her nose with one hand, "I'm assuming we aren't staying here long then?"
"We were going to move on to the mountains" Clementine explained, "We were literally about to start packing when you showed up".
"A good thing I got here when I did then" Anwyn nodded, "And I'm already packed" she joked a little, turning to the side to show her backpack.
"Alright then, come on guys, we should get ready to move out as soon as possible" the way Luke spoke made it seem like he was the leader of this group to Anwyn, although he seemed like he was that way because he seemed to organise everyone, not from strength or power. She respected that kind of leader far more than simply the strongest or smartest.
The group dispersed into the house, but Luke hung back for a second, "Why don't you two just help out who you can, but maybe avoid Carlos and Rebecca?" he suggested.
"Sounds good" Clementine smiled.
"Uh, yeah, sure" Anwyn nodded.
Only an hour later, the group left the cabin. Anwyn and Clementine kept close to one another, and much to Anwyn's relief, the group didn't seem to pay either of them much mind. Anwyn didn't know whether she really wanted to be part of a group again, but it certainly felt nicer to be among people that weren't trying to kill her. Maybe this could be her new family?
Chapter 23: The Forest Trail
As the group trailed through the forest, Clementine explained what had happened to her in more detail to Anwyn.
Apparently there had been another member of this group, Nick's uncle Pete, whom Anwyn remembered him mentioning. While she, Nick, and Pete were fishing at the river, they had found a group of people who had been gunned down, one of which Clementine had recognised as one of the men who attacked (and in Anwyn's mind, shot) Christa. The three of them become separated by an attack of Meirw and Clementine had run to aid Pete, the two of them taking shelter in a truck not far from the river. While there, Clementine had realised Pete had been bitten and spent an uneasy night there before Pete had sacrificed himself so Clementine could escape and return to the cabin. Everyone else aside from Carlos, Rebecca and Sarah had gone looking for them, so Carlos and Rebecca had left to bring the others back. Whilst talking to Sarah, a man, this Carver guy, had entered the house in search of the group, but had been surprised by Clementine's presence. They apparently had a tense conversation, where Clementine pretended to be part of a big group, had heard nothing of the people Carver was searching for, and kept him looking away from where Sarah was hiding, but he made it seem like he knew she was lying. Still, just like Clementine, she stubbornly kept up the façade until he left, at which Sarah almost had a panic attack and the others had returned. While they all were discussing what to do, the front window had suddenly shattered. In their panicked situation, the lot of them practically had heart attacks, thinking it was Carver or his soldiers, (although Clementine had still held on to the hope it was Anwyn) but were increasingly confused at finding no one there. Then, of course, they heard Sarah scream, and Anwyn was familiar with the rest.
"I feel like I'm gonna have a bloody heart attack" Anwyn said once Clementine was done, "You almost died! Like, three or four times! And now some psychotic guy is trying to do fuck knows what to you" she shook her head, "Actually I'm getting a bit of deja vu about that last part"
"Well I'm not gonna do what I did last time!" Clementine protested, "And that was a completely different situation"
"Glad to know you've grown a bit there" Anwyn gave a joking smile.
"Now, you said it was just up here?" Luke interrupted, motioning up the trail.
"Yeah. Just a little ways" Clementine nodded.
Luke pulled ahead of the group again, as did Nick, the two of them clearly eager to find this Pete. As Anwyn and Clementine walked beside one another, in the middle of the group that was quite spread out along the trail, they both listened to the sound of the forest around them. It's sounds were not unfamiliar to either of them, and after what had happened in the city, it was more a comfort than anything else, but the sound of quickened footsteps approaching them interrupted.
"Hey, you two?" It was Rebecca. Her tone was calm as she walked alongside them, almost apologetic, although Anwyn noted that she kept Clementine between herself and Anwyn. "Sorry if I gave you some shit back there, I'm just a little on edge. Guess I just took it out on anyone I could find an excuse to take it out on" she shook her head a little, "It's just a tough time right now, with the pregnancy and all. You and Alvin can probably relate"
"It's okay" Clementine replied, although Anwyn heard a little tension underneath that made her wonder at what Rebecca had said before she got there. But if Clementine wanted to forgive it, then Anwyn would as well.
"Yeah, it's fine"
"If it's not you I'm yellin' at lately, it's Alvin, and then I'm in real trouble" Rebecca went on, much to Anwyn's annoyance, but she remained silent.
"We can handle it. We're not little kids" Clementine retorted.
"I felt the same way when I was your age. My dad was always giving me shit, and I always thought he didn't know a damn thing" Rebecca's tone remained calm and friendly, like she had anticipated some hostility but was trying to gain their trust. "I know you did your best back there," she looked at Clementine before looking at Anwyn "and I know you were just trying to find Clem. You know, none of us would make it on our own. Sometimes it's hard knowing just how dependent I am on everyone.I'm not used to that. I'm not comfortable with that. I'm supposed to be a mom soon. Guess I need to work on my patience. Alvin and I still don't know what to call her, or him, if that man gets his wish, god help me. Any ideas? Clem?"
Clementine had broken away from the group, going off the trail and into the forest, Anwyn close by. Honestly, she wasn't that interested in listening to Rebecca go on and on about her worries and concerns, especially when a few echoed her own thoughts before she just doused it with her anger and spite to drown it out again.
The rest of the group followed after them, Nick and Luke jogging to catch up. Clementine slowed down when she hit a break in the trees and pointed towards a red truck Anwyn caught sight of.
"There. That's where we were-" Clementine was cut off as Nick barged ahead towards the truck.
He threw open the door, but after a moment, as everyone tried to catch up, he shouted back, "He's not in here!"
"This was the last place I saw him" Clementine replied, looking around as the group reached the truck. Anwyn studied the scene as well.
"Maybe he's around here somewhere" Alvin commented.
"Keep your eyes open. And stay in sight" Carlos added quickly.
Quite a few dead Meirw littered the clearing, all of them looked like they had had their skulls crushed by a boot, but a couple towards the back of the truck had bullet holes in them. It made Anwyn a little confused. If they had a gun, Clementine could have just shot their way out, but she didn't.
She noticed Clementine following a trail of blood that led behind the truck, so she kept close to her.
A bunch of Meirw were lying dead, gathered around another dead body of a man. He was a little older with a light beard, but right now, his insides were spilling out onto the grass around him.
"Oh, my god. What happened? What the hell happened?" Nick said from behind them, making Anwyn jump a little.
"He's been shot" Carlos commented. Anwyn realised he was right. A bullet hole lay prominent on his forehead.
"He didn't have a gun. Who did this?" Clementine asked.
"Look," Anwyn pointed at the other bodies, "some of them have a couple of bullet holes in them too. Either whoever shot them was a terrible shot with a lot of ammo to waste, or they've got some form of automatic gun" when she looked back for the rest of the group's thoughts on her observation, she found them all grieving at one another, even Clementine looked a little sad. She didn't say anything about it, she understood the pain they felt, but they couldn't stick around too long. "Come one, we gotta get moving"
The group seemed to silently agree, as they slowly got themselves together and led the way further into the forest, away from the trail. Clementine and Anwyn stayed close together, trying to stay in the middle of the group, until Nick suddenly came up behind them.
"Tell me. Tell me how it happened" he said a little aggressively.
"The last thing he said was he wanted to say goodbye to you" Clementine replied.
"Fuck..." Nick sighed, his head sinking a little and his pace slowing until he fell behind them.
Luke glanced back and joined Clementine and Anwyn, "I'm worried about that kid. Keep an eye on him for me, would you?" he said quietly to them, "You...sure you two still wanna come with us? Look, I know we got off to a rough start, a really rough start with Annie, and I can't make any promises it won't get rougher. But we all know you now," he motioned to Clementine "and we trust you to give Annie a chance. And we may not be perfect, but we look out for each other"
"Where else would we go?" Anwyn replied, "No offense, but I'd prefer to just go with Clem and ditch the lot of you, but I'm only twelve, I can't look after both of us for long" she shook her head.
"Well, then, welcome to the party" Luke smiled, "We're, uh...we're smarter than we look"
"Hm" Anwyn replied skeptically, but lamented on the point.
Luke ignored her skepticism and unfolded a large map of the state "I figure we got about four or five days to reach those mountains. Now, if they're trackin' us, we should be able to lose 'em up there"
"Five days?" Rebecca asked in an exasperated tone.
"It's gonna be okay, Bec" Alvin tried to reassure her.
"It's either that or get caught by Carver" Anwyn added, glancing back, "I'd rather not get caught"
"Point taken" Rebecca sighed.
"We'll make sure to not tire you too bad" Luke said without looking up from the map.
~~~Five Days Later~~~
After five days, Anwyn still refused to share much personal information with the new group. The only one who seemed to know anything was Luke, but even his knowledge was limited to 'Lee had cared for them'. Sarah had been particularly annoying, begging Anwyn to tell her anything, but Anwyn simply gave half-assed answered or changed the subject.
She didn't particularly want to dissect her own traumas and experiences to some sheltered fifteen year old who acted like she was eight. Despite the irritation she felt about Sarah's habit of trying to get her to open up, Anwyn found some strange likeness she felt towards her. Nothing in comparison to her friendship with Clementine, of course, but Anwyn could see herself and Sarah becoming true friends one day, perhaps once she'd experienced something of the world and grown a little. Anwyn thought that perhaps what really irritated her was how childish Sarah acted, despite being older than both Anwyn and Clementine, and how sheltered she had been. Anwyn had been thrust into the darkest pits of the harshness of their new world as soon as civilisation fell when she was so very young, so seeing someone who, even after all this time, was still sheltered from it all, frankly, it angered her a little, although she blamed Carlos far more than she did Sarah.
As the group approached the bridge, Sarah walked beside Clementine and Anwyn, yammering on about her father and how she missed her mother and how she'd always wished for sisters. Blah, blah, blah, blah.
"What happened to your parents?" Sarah asked. Ah good, she had proceeded to that question.
"Gone" Clementine replied, "both of ours"
"Oh that's so terrible, but at least you have each other, right? And now you have us!" Sarah blathered on.
"Yes, because a bunch of people we've known for a few days are a great replacement for our parents" Anwyn muttered, although only Clementine heard her.
"There's the bridge" Luke shouted back from the front of the group. Anwyn looked where he was pointing, and sure enough, there was the massive steel bridge over a canyon they were trying to cross before nightfall.
The group gathered around a tiny clearing close to edge of the canyon, but hidden from the bridge behind a large boulder. Most of the group sat down in the shade, bar Luke, Anwyn, and Clementine. Luke was checking the map again as Clementine and Anwyn climbed to the top of the boulder and studied the landscape with a pair of binoculars. Clementine studied whatever was beyond the canyon, while Anwyn mapped the bridge for ways across, focusing on speed, and stealth, while taking into the account the numbers of the group and the state of each member.
"See anything?" Luke asked, looking up from the map.
"They better see somethin'. We've been walkin' for a damn week" Alvin complained from behind them.
"We've got to find some shelter" Carlos added.
"Yeah, yeah, we get it" Anwyn shot back, "We're doing the best we can" she looked back at the canyon. "The bridge is passable, but we'll be out in the open for a while. If Carver and his lot, or some other group of asshats decide to attack us, we won't be able to hide and the only way to escape would be to jump" she explained back to Luke, "But going around the canyon will take way too long"
"We'll have to take that risk" Luke muttered.
"There's a little house on the other side of the bridge" Clementine reported. Anwyn couldn't see it very well, everything past the bridge was strangely fuzzy, but she could just about make out a fuzzy grey square.
"How big is it?" Luke asked.
"It's pretty small. I don't think we'll be able to sleep there" Clementine shook her head, "There's a lift or something up the mountain"
"Chair lift? Must be that ski resort" Luke looked over the map again.
"I've never been skiing" Clementine said absent mindedly.
"Bec and I went once" Alvin said.
"It wasn't pretty" Rebecca joked a little.
"There's a building on the mountain" Clementine continued. Anwyn couldn't see any buildings past the fuzzy square by the bridge, it was all just a colourful blur of brown and green.
"What it's look like?" Anwyn asked.
"It's big. I think it's the ski lodge"
"That sounds like a good place to spend the night" Luke said, folding up the map. Clementine put the binoculars away and followed Anwyn back to the ground.
"We have to cross that bridge. Let's go" Carlos said quickly.
"Hold on, now. Anwyn had a point earlier, we can't all go sprinting across that thing. If we get spotted out there, we're gonna be trapped" Luke retorted.
"Yes. And with our numbers and... condition" Anwyn glanced at Rebecca, "we're going to be much slower and we can't go around. We should send a couple of us to clear whatever is there and make sure it's safe enough to cross"
"And what makes you think you're in charge?" Luke asked with a lighter tone.
"You have a better idea?" Anwyn snapped back.
"No, and I was joking"
"You think splitting up the group is a good idea?" Carlos asked, a hint of distrust still in his voice.
"We never said it was a GOOD idea, but it's better than risking everyone at once" Luke said.
"What's the plan?" Alvin asked.
"Clem, Annie and I can scoot across low and slow and make sure nobody's waitin' for us on the other side" Luke planned aloud quickly.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa" Anwyn protested, "Skipping past the asking for our opinion part, I am NOT letting Clementine just waltz onto an open ass bridge with fuck all cover"
"And you think we'll be much safer here?" Clementine shot back, "I'll be fine Annie, it's not like I'm going alone"
Anwyn lamented the subject, but grumbled something about Clementine being small.
"We'll have a tough time coverin' you from back here" Alvin told them.
"Well, we'll just turn back if it gets hairy" Luke shrugged.
"Clementine and Anwyn should stay here. They're..." Carlos trailed off.
"They're little girls, Luke" Carlos snapped. Despite his clear dislike of Anwyn, at least he could still admit the obvious.
"They're valuable little girls. I mean, hell, if one can sew up her own arm and the other can track someone across miles of forest alone, they're fit to cross a bridge"
"You're not our dad, Carlos" Clementine said in a rebellious tone that Anwyn found rather amusing.
"And you are both lucky you're not my daughter" Carlos retorted.
"Thank god" Anwyn sighed, making Luke chuckle and Clementine smile.
"It's gonna be fine. Okay? We'll signal you guys in ten minutes. Just watch for a light at the far side" Luke said in a half exasperated tone.
"I can go too" Nick approached the three of them, already poised to go.
"You stay with the group"
"I'm fine, Luke"
"I don't like this" Carlos shook his head.
"Yeah, well, when's the last time you liked anything, Carlos?" Luke retorted.
"Oh so it's not just me getting them vibes from him" Anwyn muttered with a small smile.
"If somethin' happens, I'll cover you" Nick persisted.
"Come on" Luke turned away from Nick and spoke to Clementine and Anwyn. Luke started walking towards the bridge, Anwyn following after him. Clementine shot a glance back at Nick before running to catch up.
Chapter 24: Sowing Seeds of Loathing
Sorry about the longer wait for the chapter, I'm still in the process of moving to uni, so I've had a lot of stuff to do and little time to write. Thanks for your patience, and enjoy the chapter!
Luke kept pace beside Clementine and Anwyn as they made their way over to the bridge. It was going to take a few minutes, since they'd have to walk alongside the canyon before reaching the entrance to the bridge itself.
"Hey, uh, sorry about that" Luke said, "I just could really use an extra pair of eyes, and right now I don't trust Nick to tie his own shoes. They're just still on edge after the Carver thing"
"It's been five days. Why would Carver still be following us?" Clementine asked.
"Did you lot do something to really piss him off? Steal his food, kill his friend, compromise the security of his home?" Anwyn asked, casually listing things on one hand.
"What's the important thing in this world? What does everyone want?" Luke replied.
"Food" Clementine said.
"Safety" Anwyn said at the same time.
"Come on. It's family" Luke shook his head a little, "It's a tough world out there without people you can trust. Anyways, you can ask Rebecca, okay? I'm not gonna get in the middle of it. We've all made mistakes. Done things that we regret. It's not my place to talk about someone else's past, you know?"
"Oh shit, is the pregnant with Carver's kid?" Anwyn retorted in surprise, "If he actually wants that kid, then we're pretty fucked. People do all sorts of crazy shit for their kids"
"I ain't gonna say anything" Luke shook his head again.
They all fell silent as they approached the entrance to the bridge and sighted two Meirw. One was quite tall and stood facing he bridge, whereas the other was slumped against a boulder.
"Hmm. We can't shoot 'em. Too much noise" Luke said.
Anwyn rolled her eyes, "There's only two of them and we have other weapons"
"Yeah, we can take 'em" Clementine nodded.
"I like your style" Luke smiled a little, "I'll take the big one. You two get shorty"
"I'VE got the big one" Clementine replied, "I can take it"
"Uh.. no" Anwyn said, "that thing is a bit much for you"
"I can handle it" Clementine retorted, a little angrily.
"And if you can't?" Anwyn muttered, "Help me take it. Please. It sucked being on my own"
Clementine gave her an irritated look, but looked back at the Meirw in front of them. Luke didn't get in their disagreement, rather drawing his machete and starting to move towards the one that was stood up. Anwyn drew her knife and Clementine took out a hammer. Right now, Anwyn would prefer to keep Clementine as far from danger as possible, she'd pretty much been in a perpetual heart attack for those few days they'd been separated, so she quickly took care of the undead creature with a single swipe of her knife. It barely had time to reach for her before it fell to the ground, properly dead.
She looked up and found Clementine struggling to yank the hammer out of the skull of the other Meirw, which was also lying dead now. Anwyn felt a wave of anxiety at the thought of Clementine taking care of it alone and shifted closer as quick as she could.
"Go ahead. Give it a good pull, it should come free" Luke said to Clementine.
"I know. I've done this before, remember? In a shed?" she shot a look at him before going back to getting her weapon back. She finally twisted it free.
"Damn" Luke held his hand out for a high five, which Clementine took, "Now...don't do that again"
"Yeah, I agree with that. If you die, I will kill you" Anwyn nodded quickly.
"Alright, alright" Clementine rolled her eyes a little, but her tone told Anwyn she felt a little bad.
The two girls followed after Luke as he led the way across the bridge. The bridge itself was quite decrepit, the metal was rusted, bits and pieces of it were either missing on hanging on by a thread, and a collection of rusted train parts ran along the whole bridge.
As they skirted around a crumbling hole at the centre of the walkway, two Meirw wandered out from behind a rotting train car and noticed them within seconds (seeing as the three of them were out in the open, it didn't surprise any of them), but when they turned to back up a little, another lurched out.
"Shit" Luke muttered in surprise. He took a step back to attack the one behind them, but another part of the bridge around the massive hole in the floor gave way. Luke dropped the machete in his hand and grappled with a pole, trying to cling on. Both Anwyn and Clementine leapt to try and catch him, but he was able to steady himself just out of their reach. The Meirw fell after him, but got impaled on another pole within inches of Luke's legs and tore itself trying to reach him.
"Fuck, y'alright?" Anwyn shouted down at him.
"I'm okay, I just... I'm stuck" Luke stammered a little as he tried to move anywhere else.
"We can't reach" Clementine said.
"It's okay. Look, we'll figure something out" Luke replied, as he looked up he shouted, "Behind you!"
Anwyn yanked Clementine back just as a Meirw's claws grasped at the air where she had just been crouched.
"Oh shit" Clementine said in surprise.
"At last, you've stopped caring" Anwyn gave her a small smile before using the entirety of her weight to shove the Meirw away. It stumbled backwards, but remained on its feet, much to Anwyn's annoyance. Before she could attack it with her knife, Clementine jumped in front of her and swung her hammer upwards into its jaw. The hammer got stuck in the creature's rotten flesh, so Clementine had to yank it away, causing herself to step backwards and almost fall. Thankfully, she caught herself before she did so, but just barely dodged the Meirw as it lunged for her, dropping her weapon as she did so. The Meirw fell off the side of the bridge, but the other creature was reaching for her. As Clementine jumped out of its way, she slipped on the rotten metal and only saved herself from falling by clinging to one of the massive supports. Anwyn instantly leapt on the Meirw, yanking it back and stabbing it repeatedly in the head with her knife. The rotten corpse collapsed onto its back, trapping Anwyn under its stinking form.
As Anwyn shoved the body away just as Clementine swung back to the safety of the bridge.
"Y'alright?" Anwyn asked quickly, panting hard at the sudden fight.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine" Clementine picked up a pipe lying on the ground and started towards the hole Luke had fallen through, "C'mon, we gotta help Luke"
Anwyn followed her and watched as she used the pipe to impale the strung up Meirw in the head and handed the now bloody pipe to Luke. Luke grabbed it quickly and placed it vertically against the other beams so he could use it as leverage to scramble up to the safety of the bridge.
"Thanks, girls. Let's keep going" Luke said through deep breaths.
"Lead the way then" Anwyn motioned towards the other end of the bridge.
Luke led the way back along the track, Anwyn staying close to Clementine and keeping her attention completely on their surroundings, watching for any other surprises. She was so rapt with the possible hiding places on the bridge that she didn't realise Luke had stopped ahead of her and ran right into his back.
"What?" Anwyn leapt back out of surprise, clutching her knife.
Luke was staring straight ahead, "You see him?"
Anwyn peeked from behind him, but so much was blurry she couldn't quite tell what was going on. "You see someone?"
"You can't see him?" Clementine asked, giving her a sideways look.
Anwyn squinted, "No? Wait, I think I see a black-y blur getting closer. That what you talking about?"
"Yeah" Luke nodded, "Just play it cool. And Clem do the talking"
"What?" Anwyn and Clementine said at the same time.
"'Cause I don't want to get in a fight, and Anwyn ain't exactly the best with playing nice. You really think he'd shoot a little girl?" Luke explained quickly.
"I'd shoot me" Clementine muttered.
Anwyn glanced at her, "And if you did, I would be very sad, so please don't"
"I'm just saying" Clementine shrugged.
"Well, if it comes to that, I'll shoot him first" Luke turned back to the blurry figure who was getting within earshot now.
"Well, who are you?" the figure shouted. Anwyn thought she could vaguely make out a rifle in his hands.
"I'm Clementine. And this is Anwyn and Luke" Clementine motioned to herself and the other two.
"Clementine, Anwyn and Luke" the figure repeated before getting a little closer. Now Anwyn could definitely see he was carrying a rifle, "Huh. You don't look like assholes. Are you assholes?"
"I'M not an asshole" Clementine replied.
"Hey, are you calling me an asshole?" Anwyn protested, clearly loud enough for the figure to hear, as he laughed.
"You folks headed north like everyone else?" the figure asked.
"'Everyone else'?" Clementine replied a little suspiciously.
"I see at least one group a day move through here. You all look the same. It's like a great migration of the dazed and confused"
"Why do you care where we're going?" Clementine shot back.
"It's sort of my business, considering I live here" the figure replied lightheartedly, despite Clementine's mild aggression.
"You live here?"
"Yep. You're in my backyard" the figure came a little closer again, "I gotta say, you three look like shit. If you need food, I've got some canned stuff in that station back here"
"Well, that's, uh...awful nice of you. What's the catch?" Luke asked.
"No catch. I've got plenty"
"Don't hold it against us if we don't just take your word for it" Anwyn added.
"That's fine, I wouldn't expect you too" the figure came a little closer again, so Anwyn could see him much easier. His features were more defined, although he was still a little blurry, "But it's no problem. Nice running into friendly faces out here. Like I said, I've got food and supplies back in the station. And if you want... What the fuck, man?" the figure suddenly drew his gun. Anwyn instinctively pushed herself in front of Clementine, but both Luke and Clementine were looking behind them. Nick was running towards them, Anwyn knew those colours, and it looked like he was holding a rifle.
"What the hell is he doing?" Luke growled.
Nick aimed his rifle at the figure, who did the same to him.
"No, no, no, no! He's wi--he's with us!" Luke waved his arms, looking at the figure before whirling back around "Nick! No!"
"NICK, FUCK OFF!" Anwyn shouted, "IF YOU FUCKING SHOOT, I SWEAR!"
"DON'T SHOOT!" Clementine added her voice to the shouting.
Anwyn was suddenly shoved to the ground. Luke had ducked out of the firing line and made sure both Clementine and Anwyn had done the same. A gunshot rang out across the canyon. When Anwyn looked up, the figure was holding his neck, blooding pouring from the wound. He stumbled around before tripping over the side railing and falling off the bridge completely.
As Anwyn pulled herself up and helped Clementine to stand, Nick ran over.
"Did I hit him? Where is he?!"
"I told you not to shoot!" Luke shouted at him.
"What? Who was that guy?"
"Why didn't you wait for a signal?"
"We thought you were in trouble"
"Are you fucking serious?!" Anwyn burst, "Exactly what did we do to make you think we were in trouble?"
"You were wavin' your arms!" Nick retorted.
"After you had pointed the gun at the guy, you FUCKING MORON!" Anwyn shouted before turning away and just shouting to herself, "Fuck me! This group is filled with half-brained, trigger-happy idiots!"
"Why did you shoot?" Clementine asked in a much calmer tone.
"He pointed a gun at me!" Nick replied.
"Damn it, Nick, I told you not to shoot" Luke growled.
"How was I supposed to hear you? You gave me a clear shot!" Nick protested.
"BECAUSE YOU WERE POINTING A GUN AT US!" Anwyn shouted back, "I know you look like an inbred redneck, but you don't have to act like one!" she spat.
"Woah, calm down Annie" Luke said, "We got bigger things to worry about. That shot rang out for miles. We gotta get off this bridge. Let's go"
The rest of the group approached from the start of the bridge. Muttering many curse words and insults about Nick, Anwyn followed Luke beside Clementine as the group made their way across the rest of the bridge.