Part ThreePosted on 2013.04.25 at 13:52
Maggie wakes up to Daryl nudging her leg with the toe of his boot. The sky is turning purple at the horizon, but you couldn’t quite say it was dawn.
“You were supposed to wake me for watch,” she accuses, trying to be instantly awake but finding sleep still holding a fuzzy grip on her senses.
Daryl shrugs, “I wasn’t tired. C’mon, we got a long way to go.”
The barricade part of Carol’s plan only took her about an hour. She overturned the desk, the filing cabinet, the chair. A pint of bourbon, still three quarters full, actually fell out of one of the drawers. It was tempting, but Carol decided to save it for later. To celebrate being alive. She set it aside and finished shifting and stacking the furniture.
It was an impossible task to do quietly and she soon had an audience. The walkers scratched and groaned, but the door was strong and she wasn’t worried. She forced herself not to be worried. Then she waited. Carol didn’t want them all piling up at the door at once and she wanted it to be daylight, for whatever small difference in morale that would make.
Sitting back against the wall, she turns the scissors over in her hand, practices how she wants to hold them, the right angle to kill quickly. She can’t sleep. She sings.
“The night we met I knew I needed you so. And if I had the chance I’d never let you go.”
The hours creep.
One measly can of powdered formula. And that they only find because Maggie thinks to check behind the counter. One small can next to a turned over purse and a spilled can of Coke. Mom never made it home.
“We should take this back,” Maggie says. We’ve been gone too long already and who knows how long it’s gonna take us to find more.”
We’re never gonna find any more. Daryl doesn’t say this to her, but he can’t stop thinking it. He’s been thinking it since they set out on this stupid quest. Maybe he’d hoped, just for a minute, but they’ve been to twenty convenience stores and every house they saw with toys in the yard and they’ve come up with one. Goddamn. Can.
Maybe the others will bury her before they get back so he doesn’t have to see it.
“Daryl,” Maggie says, but her voice is faint behind the buzzing in his ears.
“Daryl, we have to go back.”
Back to what? His hands squeeze the edge of the counter.
“What?” He shoves the register off the counter and Maggie jumps back.
“Stop it,” she snaps. “That isn’t helping.”
“Nothing we do is fucking helping,” he growls back. The candy rack crashes to the floor. “Fine. Let’s go back. Let’s tell ‘em there’s no fucking baby food within thirty fucking miles but at least we got enough to keep her alive a couple days so Rick can say goodbye.”
“We have to keep trying.”
“For what? That kid was dead as soon as her mom spread her goddamn legs.”
He doesn’t expect Maggie to fly over the counter and slap him harder than he’s ever been hit by a woman before. He certainly doesn’t expect her to keep wailing on him afterwards, pounding her fists on his chest and shoulders. Daryl finally has to grab her arms to stop her and Maggie keeps straining against his grip.
“Don’t say that. Don’t you ever fucking say that again. She’s gonna live, you son of a bitch. She’s gonna live and we are gonna make her live. So you fucking get it together.” With a final cry that is half fury and half sob, Maggie wrenches away from him.
“Get your shit together,” she says. “We’re leaving in two.” Grabbing the formula off the counter Maggie leaves him alone in the store.
“Fuck,” he says again, throwing another rack to the floor, but less violently than before. He rubs his eyes and says it again and then he stands there and waits for an answer. Why him? Why this? Why anything?
The answer comes to him in what he said to Maggie last night. There is no why. All the shit that’s happened since the first mysterious deaths on the news. Everything that’s ever happened his whole life. None of it has any meaning. There’s only ever been one answer: keep going. Live. Live and deal with tomorrow tomorrow. It’s all he’s ever done. Maybe they have no way to keep the baby alive next week, but they can do it today. And Maggie’s right. They have to.
On his way out the door, Daryl has to step over the 60% off rack he knocked over and one of the packages catches his eye. As he picks it up, a plan starts to form in his mind. A crazy, stupid, son of a bitch plan that has about as much chance of working as it does of ending the apocalypse. He takes the box outside and holds it out to Maggie.
“Fireworks?” she asks.
The door doesn’t squeak as she cracks it open. Her blockade allows for 4 inches, no more, and a face shoves into the gap immediately. Pieces of skin and gore scrape off of it on the edges of the too small opening but Carol is beyond being horrified. She clutches the scissors hard and shoves the point of them into the soft flesh under its chin. She knows she’s hit the brain with the creature goes limp and she rushes to pull her weapon out before it falls.
Another one takes its place almost immediately, climbing over the body to get to her and she aims for the eye. Now they’ve created a scene. The door rocks as half a dozen bodies slam against it and on instinct Carol leans back hard against it. She can’t close the door, not even close and familiar terror starts to set in again. She has the furniture arranged between the door and the opposite wall. All the pieces are wedged snugly and so far they aren’t moving. Carol prays to God they don’t move.
Three more bodies drop at the point of her scissors. Her hands and her clothes are damp with blood and the smell she thought she was used to makes her gag. Her hand slips on the blade and she whirls away from the door in a panic.
“No. No. No. No. No,” she chants as she scrubs furiously at the blood with her t-shirt. “Please, please, God no.”
So much blood. None of it is hers.
“Thank you Jesus,” she sighs, picking up the scissors and climbing back across the room.
She is so close now, she thinks. If she can clear this room. If she only meets single walkers in the halls. If she can navigate the labyrinth of corridors. She can survive.
By the time she hears the long squeaking scrape of the edge of the desk against the wall, it’s too late to stop it. Screaming, Carol dispatches the zombie in the doorway and throws herself against the door. She can hold it, barely; there are fewer bodies on the other side than there were a few minutes ago. But there is also a pile of corpses on the floor and they won’t let her close it.
Another one reaches for her, its head, shoulders, torso poking into the room. It stumbles over the pile of its comrades and Carol takes it out. She has to reach to do it and she’s left trying to hold the door with one hand and a knee. A puddle of dark ooze leaks from the bodies and her shoes struggle to find purchase on the slick floor. She slips, splashing, and frantically throws her shoulder into the door. It doesn’t do any good.
Pressing her back against the door she tries to brace her shoes against the floor, but everything is too slippery now. Carol can’t hold it and they’re coming in around her now. One of them makes a grab for her arm.
With one last prayer that she goes quickly, Carol jumps up and away from the door. She gets behind the desk as two of them trip and stumble into the room. Just two. Her heart leaps. Maybe. Maybe. Please, God.
The first one lurches forward, its mouth open wide as if it means to swallow her whole. It’s missing one arm and has a hole in its right side and it could still tear her to bits. Grabbing for the attached arm, Carol pulls it across the desk and buries her scissors in the top of its head. She spins toward the other one, coming around the other side, almost on top of her.
The scissors are stuck.
It’s so unconscionably cruel that she wants to laugh. Instead she might die. Carol kicks at the walker and catches it in the knee, crippling it momentarily. She doesn’t wait to see if it recovers. She runs for the door, slipping in blood and tripping on body parts. It catches her ankle as she grasps for the outside and she will not die from a bite on the leg, she won’t. So instead of trying to pull out of the shackling hold, she gives into it. Moving backward instead of forward Carol kicks at the walker’s face with every last hope she’s got, smashing its nose and freeing herself in the process.
Then she stomps at the head first with one foot, then with two, jumping on it until it’s indistinguishable from road kill. Breathing heavily, she slumps against the wall, standing atop a pile of bodies, victorious.
Downstairs a door clangs open.