It's the End of the World

Chapter Nine.

It had been around a week now since we'd left the C.D.C behind and we were now on our way to Fort Benning. A few days ago Daryl's truck died so he now drove ahead of the other cars on his motorcycle. I was currently driving the RV to give Dale a break when the road ahead was suddenly blocked off by a huge pile up of cars. I carefully brought the RV to a halt and looked out of the window at Daryl as I turned the shitty van off.

"See a way through?" I asked and he looked around before nodding his head behind him and taking off once more. We hadn't spoken to one another since our argument at the C.D.C and I didn't know if that was a good thing, or a bad thing. Truth was, I did miss Daryl's company. I tried to navigate my way through the cars behind Daryl, but suddenly the RV started sputtering and the front gave out a giant cloud of grey smoke. The van stopped completely and and we all climbed out to look at the damage.

"I said it. Didn't I say it?" Dale said as he looked at me, I just rose an eyebrow in question. "A thousand times, dead in the water." Dale said as he looked at the hood that was smoking profusely.

"Problem, Dale?" Rick asked as everyone else started crowding around us. Dale sighed as he motioned towards the RV.

"Just a small matter of being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no hope of-.." He stopped as I coughed and pointed at all the cars around us. One was bound to have something to fix it.

"That was a little dumb." I stated. "If we can't find a radiator hose here.. Well, there's a whole bunch of stuff we can find. Daryl and T can siphon more fuel for a start. Water, food." I stated with a small shrug as I started making my way towards the cars that were just waiting to be picked at. I popped open the trunk on one of the nearest cars and started combing through the piles of bags in the back. In my search I'd come across a bag full of tinned food and shit loads of candy. They might have been out of date, but anything tasted better than what we'd been eating at the moment. I grabbed a pack of gummy bears from the bag and shouted Carl who wasn't too far behind me. He looked over and I threw him the bag. His eyes widened with excitement as he ran over to Sofia and they started munching them down by the hand full. I looked back at the car and found a leather jacket, jeans and a few blankets which would definitely come in handy for the winter months. I shoved them in my bag just as Shane spoke out to the group.

"Were we short on water?" Shane said before opening the top off the bottle and letting the contents spill over his head and into his mouth. I giggled slightly before running over and pushing him out of way. I sighed in content as I let the water run over my head and down my body. I took some of the liquid in my mouth, gulping it down before childishly flicking some of the liquid towards Carl and Sophia. I moved from the water, the biggest shit eating grin on my face. But then everything changed. I heard the moaning of walkers nearby so I grabbed Sophia and dragged her underneath one of the nearest cars. Everyone else had the same idea, so I was staring at the car in front of me and saw Daryl there motion in for us to be quiet. I nodded slightly and placed my arm over Sophia to cradle her against me. Feet started shuffling in front of us as the dead walked past. Sophia whimpered slightly from beside me and I shushed her quietly while putting my hand over her mouth to muffle her sobs. I saw T-Dog just a little further away from us, his arm was bleeding pretty heavily and a walker was walking towards him. I looked over at Daryl's hiding place but he was already rushing to his aid. About five minutes later, the coast seemed to be clear as nothing else could be seen. I sighed a small breath of relief as I pulled my hand away from Sophia's mouth. I smiled at her slightly before shuffling my body from underneath the car. Just as I was getting ready to climb up, a growl could be heard as a walker dropped in front of me, it's teeth snapping up and down hungrily. I climbed back underneath the car and shoved Sophia out from underneath so the walker couldn't reach her. I climbed out not long after to see four or five walkers heading for us.

"Come on!" I exclaimed to the little girl as I tightly grabbed her hand and made her run beside me into the woods. We ran for a while until Sophia was starting to slow down, so I quickly picked her up in my arms and carried on running until I found a small clearing. There was a river and I jumped down as gracefully as I could, there was a small hole in a pile of rotting wood at one side so I quickly shoved us both into the hole before pulling some dried wood and weeds in front of us until we were hidden. I pulled the little girl into my arms to try and calm her down, but honestly, I was just as terrified.

It had been around half an hour now, and I still didn't know if we were safe from the walkers. Every time I would try and look, I'd hear a rustling or a splash in the River around us so I didn't look in case we were seen. I finally decided to man up and I pulled the shrubbery away to see the sun was still shining brightly in the sky, no walkers were around at the moment so I pulled the small girl out with me.

"Come on, baby. Let's try and find the others." I said as I grabbed her hand and slowly made my way out into the open. I could no longer tell which way to go, so I scowled softly as I looked around the large opening. I smiled down at the little girl before heading in a random direction, at least hoping to find some shelter before nightfall.

Daryl's POV.

"Well where the fuck could they have gone?!" I exclaimed at everyone around me and they all looked down at the ground, apart from Carol who was sobbing into Lori's chest. I knew I should have stayed nearby. At least then I could have followed them.

"I dunno man, I saw them go down the bank right there!" Rick exclaimed as he pointed at the side of the road. I bit down on my nail, a nervous habit from when I was younger. The stubborn bitch just ran off! I was going to kill her when I found her, or sigh in relief. I think maybe I'll do both.

"Well, I'm gonna go after 'em. Can't have gotten too far." I said as I hopped over the railing and onto the grass. I heard mumbling behind me as Rick, Shane and Glenn started following me. Great, just what I needed. A bunch of idiots who'll fuck up the tracks and be of no help what so ever. "Hey, short round, step off to the side. You're muckin' up the trail." I practically growled at Glenn and he jumped slightly before moving. Everyone started talking once more, but I kept to myself and continued following the clear set of footprints. I was so glad this chick was heavy footed. When I found her, there was a high chance I'd end up ringing her neck. "I've got clear prints right here." I shouted and they ran up beside me and attempted to follow my gaze. "Their on the right path. Headed back to the highway." I stated and Rick nodded as he turned to me.

"Okay, let's spread out. Make our way back. They couldn't have gotten far. They'll be out there hiding in a bush somewhere." Rick said but I was barely listening to him. I looked down at the tracks, my brow furrowed in concern.

"They were doin' fine 'til right here. All they had to do was keep going, but they veered off that way." I said pointing to my right. "Can't be walkers, I don't see any other prints, just theirs." I stated.

"So what do we do? All of us press on?" Rick asked and I shook my head.

"Nah, better if you and Glenn go back to the others. Their gonna start panickin'. Let 'em know we're on the trail." I said to Shane and he nodded before grabbing Glenn and they instantly started making their way back. I veered right and started following the two sets of tracks, they started to get faint, meaning she was keeping her footsteps light as to not draw attention.

"Tracks are gone." Rick stated and I grunted in annoyance. I knew I'd be better off on my own.

"Nah, they're faint. But they ain't gone. They came through here." I explained and his brow furrowed as he searched the ground by my feet.

"How can you tell? I don't see anything." He asked and I practically growled as I turned to face him.

"Dirt, grass. Look, you wanna lesson in trackin' or you want to find 'em and get our ass off that interstate?" I asked with a raised eyebrow and he held his hands up in surrender before we started walking once more. I heard groaning and I crouched slightly, I looked at Rick and motioned for him to do the same. I quickly loaded up my crossbow before looking down the sight and taking the shot which puncture the piece of shit straight through the eye. Rick quickly got down on his hands and knees and started examining the body.

"What are you looking for?" I asked as Rick picked up the dead walkers hands. He quickly put on a pair of gloves before examining the monsters fingers once again.

"Skin under the fingernails." He put its hands down and carefully opened the monsters mouth. "It's fed recently. Got flesh caught in its teeth." He stated as he pulled a big chunk of chewed up skin from its jaw. He threw the hunk of skin on the floor before removing his hands and grabbing a knife from his belt.

"What kind of flesh?" I asked with a grimace and Rick looked at me, holding up his knife.

"Only one way to know for sure." He said as he quickly ripped open the walkers shirt. I put my hand on his shoulder to stop him and he looked up at me. I put on a pair of gloves and straddled the dead body.

I'll do it." I said as I took out my much larger hunting knife. "Plus, how many kills you skin and gut in your life?" I asked. "Anyway, mines sharper." I said. I stead myself and got prepared for what I was about to do. I stabbed the knife into the dead walkers abdomen. I cut through the skin before opening him up and making a slit through the stomach. "Now comes the bad part." I said, more to Rick as I was partially used to this. I placed my hands inside the stomach and started digging around, pulling out random chunks when it got in my way. "Yeah, Hoss had a big meal not too long ago, I feel it in there." I said and continued my search. I pulled out the gut bag and opened that, rummaging around with my knife until I pulled out a small skull. "This gross bastard had himself a woodchuck for lunch. At least we know." I said and Rick nodded. I climbed up and took off my gloves, wiping my knife on my jeans before pulling my crossbow back up into my hands.

"Gonna be dark soon, we best head back. We'll pick back up tomorrow." Rick said and I looked around for anything else to show they were nearby. I grimaced lightly but nodded my head in agreement. Alice was a tough chick, if Sophia was to be with anyone, I'm glad it was her.

We got back and I hung my head slightly as we made our way back to the cars. It was fairly dark now, so it's a good job we came back when we did.

"Oh god, they're back. You didn't find her?" Carol rushed over, her voice shaking, tears in her eyes. I sighed as I looked at her. I couldn't look for long, I wasn't good at eye contact anyway, but the hurt and fear behind those eyes would be too much for anyone to bare.

"Trail went cold, we'll pick it back up again at first light." Rick said and looked towards me. I nodded my head towards Carol to show we hadn't given up the search yet.

"You can't leave my daughter out there on her own to spend the night in the woods!" Carol exclaimed with tears in her eyes and I sighed softly as I took a step forwards.

"She ain't alone, footprints right next to hers so Alice is out there with her. She's one tough son of a bitch and she won't let nothin' happen to your little girl. Bein' out there in the dark's no good, we'd be trippin' over ourselves and we'd just get more people lost. We know she was out there, we we tracked her for a while." I stated. I tried to make her feel better, but I was a lost cause when it came to sympathy. What did this woman want me to do? I was doing the best I could.

"We have to make this an organised effort, Daryl knows the woods better than any anybody so I've asked him to oversee this." Rick asked, he looked at Carol for a moment before looking over at me and I nodded my head in silent agreement.

"Is that blood?" Someone asked and everyone looked down at my blood soaked arms and clothing.

"We took down a walker. There was no sign it was ever near Sophia or Alice." Rick stated and Andrea stepped forward, examining us from head to toe.

"How can you know that?" She asked and I narrowed my eyes slightly at her and dropped my arm that was holding my crossbow down by my side as it was starting to get heavy.

"We cut the son of a bitch open, made sure." I stated and walked away from the group. I'd had enough of their questions now, and I just wanted to sleep so I could get up as early as possible to start the search again. I opened up the RV and sat down in the nearest chair. I knew I wouldn't get much sleep, it was going to be a long night.