‹ Prequel: The Regulator

Made to Suffer


I sat beside the dying fire, sharpening my hunting knife. Nearly two months had passed since the world went to shit; I stayed with the people I'd met on the highway, knowing there was strength in numbers, but also that it would be easier for me to look for Leigh and Noah if I had people with me. The more pairs of eyes, the better. I wasn't social with the group by any means, I did most of the hunting and often went into the city on supply runs, but I wasn't social by any means. I'd been back to my home only once; the small community had been overrun and there were hundreds of the dead roaming around. I sat there, running the six inch blade of my knife through the sharpener, my thoughts on my wife.

"You've been at that for a while," Dale's voice came from the doorway of the camper, pulling my attention from my mental images of Leigh's face.

"So?" I asked, continuing with my knife. The old man stepped out of the vehicle, shutting the door behind him. I watched as he crossed the space between us and took a seat across the fire from me. Dale liked to run his mouth and his positive, hopeful, humanity bullshit did nothing but piss me off.

"Daryl," He began, I braced myself against the speech I knew was coming, "We all lost people in the mess and I know you did too. You're the only one here who hasn't expressed your feelings and you can't hold those things in forever," He sighed, "You're scaring people."

"How's me mindin' my own business scarin' people?" I demanded, I stopped sharpening the knife, "'Cause I don't wanna sit around here and spill my guts to ya'll? Ya'll don't know me, you don't know nothin' about me. Why should I lay my life out for ya'll?" My temper was rising. Leigh and Noah had balanced me out and calmed my temper, without them I felt myself returning to the person I had been before. I was becoming more and more like Merle. I'd hear him in the things I said when I did speak.

"You sit out here every night," Dale said, "Sharpening your knife. You're out here for hours at a time, just working on that," he pointed to the knife, "You think that's normal?"

"What?" I scoffed, "You think I'm gonna kill ya'll?"

"We don't know you. In the last two months, we haven't learned anything about you. You had a wife," He pointed to the gold band I still had on my finger, "But-"

"Don't you say nothin' about her," I said through my teeth.

"We don't know what you're capable of," Dale sighed.

"No," I said, "You," I gestured at him with the knife as I stood, "Don't." I walked past the older man as he opened his mouth to break his stunned silence and headed for my tent.


Two Months Earlier

When I arrived at Noah's school the scene was complete chaos - parents were running around, trying to find their children and two military vehicles sat on the lawn. Men in hazmat suits were keeping parents from entering the building. I parked my car haphazardly, grabbing only my keys as I exited. I ran for the crowd of parents gathered at the front doors and pushed my way to the front, squeezing between frantic moms and dads. Once at the makeshift barrier, my shouts and demands for information blended in with those around me. I looked from each of the soldiers, their faces obscured by the masks of their hazmat suits. Despite the plastic and glass distorting his features, I saw a familiar face. John, our neighbor, stood on the other side of the waist high metal barrier and to the left- like the others he held an assault rifle at the ready. After some more squeezing and pushing I managed to end up in front of him.

John was in his early 30's and had been divorced, he'd been in the army up until the previous summer and he'd helped Daryl build a fence between our properties and he'd joined us for dinner on a few occasions.

"John!" I yelled as the crowd swelled behind me, pressing forward. He looked down at me, then back out to the crowd, "John," I said again as I was pushed into the barrier again. His eyes looked down and met mine, I could see the recognition on his face.

"Back up!" John called out, slinging his rifle over his shoulder as I struggled to push back from the metal fencing the crowd was becoming so thick it was hard to breathe, "Back up!" Screams were coming from the back of the crowd as John began pushing mothers and fathers from around me, trying to give me room.

"They're here!" One of the soldiers yelled loudly.

"Fire at will!" was called through a megaphone, John looked back at his commander, then back to me. Without another hesitation he reached his arms around me and plucked me out of the chaos as his colleagues opened fire. The noise was deafening as John and I moved behind the line of soldiers. My feet were back on the ground, but John still held my hand as he pulled me away from the horrifying scene.

"Raleigh," He said, pulling off his helmet once we were by one of the vehicles, "You gotta get out of here."

"I need my son!" I said, tears were falling uncontrollably as I started for the school. John grabbed my shoulders and held me still, "Let go of me!"

"There's nothing in there," He said, "Those people in Atlanta, they're sick. One of the teachers-"

"My son-"

"There's no one alive in there, Raleigh," John looked over his shoulder to the grisly scene, I could see the blood pooling on the concrete. The weight of what John said hit me with full force; I fell to my knees, sobbing for my child. John crouched down beside me as I buried my face in my hands, He placed his arms around me and spoke just loud enough for me to hear him over the gunshots and screams, "We need to go." He stood, pulling me upright with him and opened on one of the vehicles "This is going to get worse, I heard that D.C. is overrun with those...people. They're attacking and-"

"You're sure?" I asked, looking at the school, "You saw Noah? Was he-" I couldn't bring myself to finish the sentence; Despite this, John nodded slowly and I went weak again, this time He was ready and he scooped me up. I was deposited in the seat of the humvee; He shut the door and ran around the front to hop in the driver's seat beside me. The vehicle roared to life and John drove us out of the parking lot, through a crowd of ill people.

"Do you know where Daryl is?" John asked as numbness settled over me.

"On his way home from work," I spoke, focusing on the sick people, their eyes were empty and the majority of them had gruesome wounds.

"We need to find him."

I nodded in agreement.
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i'm sorry it's so short and a bit of a filler, but i needed to update! i'm done with school for the summer, so i will be updating more frequently. thanks for hanging in there :)