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Punishing The Dead

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New York: Day 10 of the outbreak

The ringing in her hears had lessened but still was causing her head to feel like it was going to explode.

Shaking off the pain, homeland agent Dinah Madani-Castle got herself off the ground. She checked her hip and sighed. Her service weapon was still there.

Because of the ringing in her ears, Dinah took it slow when trying to walk. She saw the guy who tried to eat her lying a bit ahead. Then she saw what she was looking for.

Him standing there, looking like a badass, which he did very well, made her smile. His vest, covered in blood and what the news had deemed “walkers” guts all over it.

“Hey Madani, get that sweet ass over here and kiss me for saving it” the man said with a grin. Dinah rolled her eyes but headed over. “You get that kiss Castle as soon as we are out of this mess” Dinah said with a grin of her own.

Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, puller her close and kissed her deeply. They stayed like that for only a few seconds because they heard the scrapping sound of walkers headed their way.

Breaking apart, the two darted to the black van parked a block away. It was supposed to be a scouting mission for survivors but things went sideways fast.

Inside the van was David “Micro” Lieberman, his wife Sarah had been killed when the outbreak first began. David was holding it together for his two kids, Leo and Zack who had witnessed their mothers death at the super market, but everyone could tell he was broken inside.

Frank was calm with him because he knew what it was like. Also inside was Curtis Hoyle and senator David Shultz, Brett Mahoney, Billy Russo, and Amy Bendix.

“where to now?” Billy said with his gun primed out of the window. “A town called King County, Georgia” Frank replied and the van jolted forward. They all watched as the town they grew up in and loved passed by them.

No one spoke as the dead bodies on the side of the road grew in numbers. No one spoke as the mowed down as many walkers as possible. Every-time Billy or Curtis’s gun went off Dinah flinched though.

Sensing his wife’s discomfort, Frank placed his free hand over hers and squeezed. There was no reason for words because nothing he could say changed the horror but he knew from the last minutes holding his baby girl on that park bench that sometimes just holding someone can bring them solace.

As he felt Dinah relax he got his affirmation that he might have brought peace to Lisa as she died. He didn’t know if she could hear him but he had repeated her favorite story, One Batch Two Batch Penny and Dime as she passed on.

“Frankie, you ok?” Dinah said as she placed a soft kiss on his cheek. “Ya baby, just going to the past again” Frank said silently. Dinah placed another kiss on his cheek and leaned back in her seat. Closing her eyes, she prayed for the first time in a long time that one day her husband would find a life free of guilt.

—————————

King County, Georgia: Day 12 of the outbreak

All eyes inside the van watched vigilantly as they entered the city. It was quiet. They saw a few of the dead but that was it.

The car rolled to a stop as the pulled up to a hospital. “This looks more like a graveyard then a hospital” Micro said quietly. “Can we look around” Zack said excitedly. “That’s a strong no” Micro said quickly and louder than he meant to. He pulled a shaking Zack against him and said “I can’t lose you too little man so bare with me”. Zack nodded, the pout though never left his face.

“Curtis, Billy and myself are going in to find medical supplies because they come in handy. Dinah, listen to me, if we aren’t back in two hours, you get the hell out. Obviously the word that Georgia was safe was wrong. You hear me? Head to the nearest house and get yourselves locked in tight” Frank ordered like a General in the military.

Dinah was going to fight but the resolve on his face made her decide not to and just nodded her head instead. It was an argument for later.

Frank kisses his wife goodbye and as the men headed in and Dinah slid into the driver’s seat. She wanted to cry but didn’t for the sake of her own sanity and those around hers.

As the three men entered the hospital they cringed at the site. All three of them had been to war and none of them could remember a site as the one in front of them.

Without a word, the men split into three directions and started collecting bandages, medications, antibiotics and anything else that looked useful. Curtis even thought of a defibrillator and a breathing machine.

Frank entered a hallway almost free of bodies. Heading down he found a room with a bed in front of it. Pulling the bed away he opened the door and inside was a man laying on the bed.

He still had dead machines connected to him. Frank watched carefully for a few minutes and nearly jumped through the roof when he saw the man breathe.

Frank contemplated leaving him but after seeing a picture of a beautiful woman and a young child on his desk he decided he should try. If he could help a father return to his family he wanted to. Hell, he had even done it for that son of a bitch Pilgrim.

After taking the wires and things off the man, Frank picked him up amazed at how light he was. The man opened his eyes slightly. “Shane?” the man said with a shallow breath and then closed his eyes again.

Frank wondered if Shane was the boy in the picture. He didn’t know how many times he had woken with a start thinking he heard Lisa and Frank Jr. playing. Shaking that off Frank took the man and met with the others.

Thankfully Billy and Curtis was alright, Frank led them out to the van. He was shocked that they hadn’t faced off with any walkers but glad at the same time.

When they got back to the van, Micro helped them load the man into the back. Curtis and Billy climbed In after him and closed the doors.

Frank went around to the drivers seat. Dinah was asleep. He didn’t want to wake her but it was getting dark and he knew that they should find shelter.

“Hey Dani, you got to wake up now” Frank said softly wiping the hair from her forehead. She was burning hot. Frank knew that as a sign of a walker bite or scratches. He quickly pulled her from the van and stated undressing her knowing if he found anything, he would have to put a bullet into her. He didn’t cry but damn did he want to.

After a through check by both him and Curtis who had been a medical doctor on the military, Dinah was cleared and they got her dressed and back in the van. She still hadn’t woken and she was still burning but she wasn’t turning into one of those things which made Frank sigh with relief.

“Don’t worry Dani, you’ll get better baby” Frank said and tried to figure out where to head to next. Suddenly they heard a call come over the CB radio in the van.

“If anyone can hear this, my name is Dale and I’m on the outskirts of Atlanta with a small group of survivors. If you need a safe place we are here. Please whatever you do ignore the calls that Atlanta is safe, once again Atlanta has been taken and isn’t safe. We are here if you need safety”.

Frank picked up the receiver “Dale are you there?” Frank asked with a panic no one in the van had ever heard. “I’m here stranger, how can I help?” Dale said in a calm voice. “I have two sick people in a small town called King County. How far are you from here?” Frank asked, his voice a little more steady than before. He was shocked when a woman’s voice came over the radio.

“My name is Lori Grimes, I’m from King County. You are about two hours from our location. If you left now you could make it before it gets too dark” Lori said, her voice sounding tired and stressed. Before frank could answer though he heard the man in the back whisper “Lori”. He knew he must know her but getting out of town was most important. “We are heading your way. Can you put a marker out for us, we are in a black van and there are ten of us. Eight adults, two wounded, a man and my wife, and two children” Frank said and waited for her reply. He could hear her gasp and then compose herself. “We will have someone waiting on the road for you. Just be safe” Lori said and the receiver clicked dead.

Not waiting for a group discussion, frank kissed Dinah on her burning forehead and put his foot down all the way on the gas pedal. He wouldn’t let another wife die. The kids squealed with excitement while the adults just prayed frank got them to their next destination safely.

—————

Two hours later: outside Atlanta Georgia

Frank barely missed the black motorcycle and the man sitting on it. Thankfully Billy saw it and motioned for them to stop.

Pulling over Frank stopped the van but didn’t get out until he had retrieved one of his guns from his belt and had it in hand.

The man on the bike didn’t move. He looked up at Frank and said “god damn if the universe didn’t send us the god damn punisher of New York himself. I’m Daryl Dixon and I’m the one who drew the short straw to wait on this open road for you”.

“Names Frank Castle but you already seem to know that. My wife, Dinah is in the front seat and really sick. I have a man in back we found at a hospital whose really sick as well. Neither have bites or scratches” Frank said honestly.

Daryl looked him over and deciding he should give the punisher himself a chance said “follow me Frank” and kick started his bike. Nodding, Frank jumped in the van, told Dinah she would be getting help soon and followed Daryl up the path.

When they got to camp, Frank got Dinah out and placed her on a blanket Daryl had laid out. By then a group had formed around them. It was when Curtis brought out the man, that Frank realized that the woman on the CB was the woman in the man’s picture, which he did grab for him.

“Omg it’s Rick” Lori said and passed out right where where she stood leaving everyone in shock.