‹ Prequel: The Regulator

Made to Suffer

Nothin' but a Woodchuck



After the camp was overrun by the walkers, Rick rallied near every one into heading for the CDC. He kept on sayin' it was our only chance for survival, it was our chance at a life. I followed along, ditching my old truck on the way and gettin' on Merle's motorcycle. I'd taken it when we had gone on a run back to my neighborhood, figurin' it would be better on whatever gas I could get my hands on. It also gave me the advantage of being able to go off the roads when needed.

At the CDC we found a Doctor named Jenner an' all he had for us was bad news. There was no cure, the world was gone, and it looked like it was gone for good. The night Jenner told us we were all fucked, I got shitface drunk. I hadn't drank like that since Noah was born - determined to stop myself from thinkin' about things and I succeeded, managing to numb myself enough to black out. Then next mornin' I was hungover as hell, my head was poundin' as I made my way to the main room where I found everyone else waiting. Jenner, the crazy sonuvabitch, was gonna off himself; He tried to take all of us with him, tellin' us the air was gonna ignite, but we got out.

As more time went by I found myself struggling to keep the memories of my family alive, my hope had slipped away from me and the idea that I would never see my son or my wife again cemented itself in my brain. I was, once again, a man with nothing to live for.


I stood knee deep in a creek as I listened as Rick told us how he'd left Sophia to hide from two walkers while he distracted them. Shane and Glenn stood on the bank, watching as Rick recalled details. We'd got held up by a traffic snarl, cars blockin' the interstate. It reminded me of that day I'd gone to Noah's school, the last day I'd talked to my wife. These memories were shaken from my mind as a heard of walkers came stumblin' through; I found T-dogg durin' this and he was cut pretty bad. I hid the two of us by coverin' each of us with a corpse and waitin' it out. After the heard had passed and I dug T out, we heard a scream. Sophia, Carol's little girl, had slipped out of her hidin' place too soon and had come face to face with a walker. She'd run off into the woods, Rick on her trail to save her, but something had happened and he'd come back without the little girl, askin' Me, Shane, and Glen to help him find her.

"I told her, to go that way, to keep the sun on her left shoulder," Rick said.

"Hey, little man," I said, noticing Glen standing near the edge of the creek, "Step aside, your muckin' up the trail." As Rick and Shane exchanged words I studied the bank of the creek, picking up the small prints Sophia had left behind, "There's clear prints right here," I said, looking closer, "She did like you said and headed back to the interstate," I looked back at Rick, "Spread out."

The group followed behind me as I followed the little girls tracks up out of the creek bed and into the woods, "She was doin' just fine til she got here," I said, crouching low, brushing leaves back with my fingers, "Changed direction."

"Maybe somethin' spooked her?" Shane thought out loud.

"Walker?" Glenn asked. I looked for other prints, any sign that would tell me Sophia hadn't been alone.

"I don't see any other footprints, besides hers," I reported.

"You and Glenn get back up to the highway," Rick said to Shane, "People are gonna start panicking. Let them know we're out here looking for her, "Keep 'em calm."

"I'll get them scavenging cars, keep 'em occupied," Shane replied with a nod, He and Glenn headed back the way we'd come. I followed the faint tracks, Rick followin' behind me as we went in the direction opposite of the interstate.

"You do this a lot?" Rick asked as I crouched again to study the land, seein' Sophia's prints change direction again. She had to have been runnin' scared.

"Track down lit'le girls?" I scoffed, lookin' back at him.

"Hunting?" He asked.

"Yeah," I said, holding my bow at the ready, "I was a hunter."

"The tracks are gone," Rick said, now lookin' at the ground.

"Nah," I said, seein' the leaves crumpled and torn where she'd stepped, "They're faint, but they're here."

"How can you tell? I don't see anything."

"You want a lesson or you wanna find that girl and get our ass of the interstate?" I demanded, feeling annoyed with his small talk. We carried on in silence, the birds weren't even singin'. I remembered how Noah used to love to watch the birds when we would go into the woods together, he'd sit there while I was fishin', tryin' to whistle to 'em and he'd listen intently while they sang to him. I set my jaw and pressed on.


As the woods began to get dark Rick and I started back for the interstate, we'd covered a fair amount of ground, killed a few walkers and cut one open, but we hadn't seen a sign of Sophia.

"Thank you," Rick said as we walked.

"For what?" I asked, my bow in my hands.

" Helping us."

"Nothin' to thank for," I brushed off his kindness.

"You have kids?" He asked. I thought about tellin' him to mind his own ga'damn business, but part of me liked Rick. He was an honest man tryin'a do his best in a position he didn't ask to be put into.

"A son," I answered, the words were heavy as stone as they fell out of my mouth.

"How old?" Rick asked.

"He was about to be five," I said, feelin' my throat tightenin' up on me. I hadn't spoken to anyone about Noah. Everyone knew I'd been married, I still had my gold band on my finger and didn't plan on takin' it off.

"I'm sorry," He said somberly, "I thought Carl and Lori were," He paused, "I cannot imagine the pain of it being true."

"You don't want to," I replied.

"Your wife?" He asked and I stopped walkin'. I thought of Raleigh, the scene I'd found at the school, her empty car. I shook my head, barely holdin' it together. I thought of Merle and what he'd say if he saw me now, about to cry and talkin' to a cop.

Quit bein' a pussy, Darylina, He'd say.

"Nah, man," I said, runnin' a hand through my hair, "I was on my way home from work when the shit hit the fan, my girl called me to tell me she was gon'a get our son from school. She was supposed to call me when she got home. I was stuck in traffic and ended up drivin' off the road to get back home, when I got there her car was missin'. I went to our boys school lookin' for 'em and I found her car, empty, the door hangin' open. There was a humvee parked on the lawn, the military had been there. I looked in the windows of the school, man, they shot them kids," I took a deep breath, trying to calm my emotions, "I didn't see my boy, though, or my wife."

"What were their names?" Rick asked.

"Raleigh and," The lump in my throat swelled as I choked on my words, "Noah." Rick placed a hand on my shoulder as tears escaped me, I felt shameful, cryin' in front of another man - hell I felt ashamed cryin' in the delivery room when Noah was born. Rick stood there with me until I could get my shit under control and stuff my feelin's back down where they belonged.

We came over the ridge of the highway to see everyone standin' there, waitin' on us. Carol's face - and everyone else's - fell, seeing that we didn't have Sophia in tow.

"You didn't find her?" She asked, distress in her voice.

"The trail went cold," Rick explained, "We'll pick it up at first light."

"You can't leave my little girl alone in the woods at night," Carol pleaded, as if it would make any difference.

"Huntin' in the darks no good," I said, "Just be trippin' over ourselves."

"But you can't leave her out there, you didn't find anything?"

"I know this is hard, but I'm askin' you not to panic-"

"We tracked her for a while," I offered.

"Daryl knows the woods better than anybody, I've asked him to oversee this," Rick said and he had. I'd agreed because of Noah.

"Oh god," Carol said, lookin' at my pants, "Is that blood?" I looked down, seein' the blood on my legs from cuttin' open the walker earlier in the day. We'd had to see what he had in his stomach to know if we should keep searchin'. I brought my eyes back up to hers then looked to Rick for some help.

"We took down a walker," he said gently.

"Walker," Carol whispered through deep breaths, Lori placed an arm around the smaller woman's shoulder and lead her away from the conversation, tryin' to save her some heartache.

"A walker?" Shane asked.

"Yeah," Rick nodded, "But there was no sign it was near Sophia."

"How can you be sure?" Andrea asked.

"We cut the sumbitch open," I said, "Nothin' but a woodchuck." Looks of appall and disgust were on everyone's faces as I stood there, under their glares.

"We had to know," Rick said, standing beside me, "Everyone, let's try and get some rest so we can continue searching tomorrow."


I laid in the backseat of an escalade, a pillow from the R.V. under my head and my crossbow by my side as I stared up at the Georgia stars through the back window.

"I'm sorry, baby," I murmured, speakin' to Raleigh, hopin' she could hear me, hopin' there was a heaven for her to be lookin' down on me from. I was sorry I couldn't save her from Merle and I couldn't save her from whatever fate she'd met at the school. I'd failed her, "I love you both," I sent my words up towards the stars, wishin' for her to hear them, "And I'll never stop." I laid there a few moments before speakin' again, "I gotta find this little girl, Leigh. Help me, honey, look out for her?" I blinked and tears fell from my eyes for the second time that day, "I just keep thinkin' about Noah, what it was him instead? I need to find her and get her back to her momma," I sighed, "Please help me, Leigh."


I sat on the back steps of the home we'd broken into for the night, looking up at the stars, playing with the wedding band still around my finger. Noah was gone, that I knew for certain and it tore me to pieces every time my thoughts wandered to what his last moments were. Each time I thought of my son's happy, smiling face, it felt like I had an elephant on my chest. I didn't know what happened to Daryl and that killed me too. As my group slept soundly in the home and I watched for any signs of biters, silent tears made their way down my cheeks.

"Where are you, Daryl?" I whispered to myself.
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disclaimer: obviously this chapter contains dialogue from the walking dead. i have no ownership of the dialogue from the show [or the story line].

hi all,

i hope you enjoyed this chapter, let me know your thoughts? i love hearing what ya'll think. :)

hope all is well,