Too Cool for You

Stand up.

Moving through the aisles somewhat silently, the occasional, intentional clatter of something hitting the floor or a low whistle filling the space around them in an attempt to draw out any walkers, Nicole had fallen into step beside Glenn as he moved through the electronics section. Her eyes brushed over the untouched supply of laptops and phones, her mind jumping to the last memory she had of the world she used to live in, the one of being on the phone with her best friend.

The sound of squeaking trolley wheels seemed to make the darkness much less eerie to her, as if it was totally normal to be shopping in the dark. Nicole's eyes followed Glenn’s flashlight as he scanned the darkness, the light hovering over a sign for cameras briefly before continuing. Reaching out into the darkness, Nicole picked up one of the Polaroid cameras and a roll of film before following the light. Without a word, she tapped the box against his covered arm gently, holding it out for him to take. Glenn hesitated at the sight, looking up at Nicole as surprise and confusion crossed his face. She only smiled, neither of them saying anything as Glenn packed the camera in his backpack and a loud crash filled the silence around them.

Nicole flinched at the loud sound of glass breaking, her head snapping in the direction of creaking timber as someone called out in pain. Fear quickly consumed her as she watched Glenn run towards the noise, frantic voices starting to fill the store. With her knife at the ready, she started to take small steps, reaching the voices, and rounding a corner to find Bob pinned down by a tall, wooden liquor cabinet.

Light flooded in from the other side, Daryl’s face behind it as he assessed the situation. “You cut or something?”

“No, man, but my foot is caught.” Bob breathed out.

“He’s just caught.” Daryl stood, moving to grip at the wood before raising an eyebrow at Glenn, making him quickly move in to help.

“What happened!?” Someone called out from the darkness as they strained under the heavy weight, Tyreese stepping in to help.

“Everyone’s all right.” Glenn huffed. “We’re over in wine and beer!”

“I was moving fast, man. Drove right into the drinks.” Bob was talking quickly as they lifted the first of the cabinets to get closer to the section he was pinned down under.

“Man, you lucked out.” Tyreese knelt down beside the other man while Nicole looked around, a strange feeling crawling her skin, as if she was watching a horror movie and knew something bad was about to happen. “If this thing had come down on you the wrong way –”

Reflex drove Nicole to cover her head as the ceiling above them fell in, clattering against the other side of the almost horizontal shelving that was resting on top of Bob. Glancing back up, Nicole couldn't help but let out a muffled scream as she saw the piñata like walker than hung from the opening by its intestines as the others all converged in the one area. All eyes were on the mess; everyone unmoving as if doing so would send it falling into their laps.

“Yeah... We should probably go now.” Glenn managed as the chorus of moans began to seep through the ceiling as it threatened to crumble above them.

“Bob’s still stuck!” Daryl called everyone into action, moving forward to grab at the shelf that still pinned the other man down. “We need to get him outta there.”

With that, walkers began to fall through the ceiling all around them, hitting the ground with enough force to send some of them splattering across the floor. Nicole ducked out of the way, completely loosing her calm as one came crashing down beside her, head first, dull crimson painting the floor and splattering all over her. The red fluid that hit her skin made her feel dizzy and she had to summon all the strength left in her body to keep herself from crying. Above them, the ceiling creaked, as if it could come down on them at any moment, and by the rate of dead bodies falling through, Nicole couldn’t bring herself to doubt if it would.

A hungry groan made her turn around, just as she was about to regain her composure, to make her face a walker with its guts hanging out. This time she screamed. Loud enough for every person, alive or dead, to hear. The dead grabbed at her shoulder its teeth just inches from her face and she tried to push it away, knowing that it would be easier to just use the knife to stab the walker in the head, but not having the courage to do it. A twang made the dead suddenly go limp, Nicole's eyes now on the bolt that had pierced the dead man's skull.

"What the hell are you waiting for?" Daryl's angry question was directed to her, but she chose to ignore it, watching the dead man now on the floor. All around them, the dead were falling through the roof, some catching in the wiring or by their own innards just as the firsts did. The yelling and the gunfire clouded her mind, made her taste bile again and for a moment she forgot where she was. "We're here to find supplies, not to babysit you!"

"Shut up!" Nicole's remark surprised Daryl, her face wet with tears but her eyes angered. The metal above them snapped. She walked past him and towards the cabinet where Bob still remained trapped. A walker worked to drag itself closer to his pinned down position and grabbing at its stumps – legs having been severed off – Nicole pulled it back, the walker hissing in complaint. "Well, what the hell are you waiting for?!" Nicole turned to face Daryl with hands on her hips and her angry words louder than necessary.

The roof began to cave in as Daryl and Zach helped Nicole, pulling the other man from under the slightly lifted shelving. Nicole's eyes snapped from the falling paneling to a sickening type of scream. Turning back to Zach, her eyes instantly went to the walker that had bitten into his calf, decaying fingers gripped around his ankles as the young boy called out. As the dead body pulled Zach to the ground, everyone stopped, as if no one knew exactly what was happening. Glenn's voice shouting the kid's name made everyone snap back to reality, the creaking becoming too loud to be ignored.

“We gotta go now!" Everyone moved to the sound of Daryl's voice, Nicole's eyes glued to the walker that had worked up its way to Zach's neck as she trailed close behind the others and the ceiling fell in.

A huge metal frame spilled out into the middle of the store, the sound of impact followed by the screeching of breaking glass. Nobody said a word, each of them taking a moment to collect their shallow breaths and scattered thoughts as the world settled around them.

They weren’t given any longer to rest, the sound of desperate moans calling out from inside the store as the surviving walkers followed them out. Quickly checking that everyone was fine, they moved back towards the cars faster than they had come in, not bothering to stop and secure the hole in the fence for another day. They wouldn’t be back, not now.
Nicole slid into the passenger seat slowly, finding herself selfishly thankful that nothing had happened to her. With no time to pack away the things they had in their trolleys, the group had only left with what had been stored in their backpacks and soon everybody was inside their cars, the drive back home now much quieter than the one back there.

They arrived at the prison just as quiet as when they had left the store, the moon lighting the world around them as they all got out of the cars. The overwhelming images of Zach’s death still played inside Nicole’s mind as she watched Rick approach, calling out through the darkness.

“How’d you go?”

Glenn shook his head slowly, clearing his throat as he moved away from the circle. “The same as always.”

It was only then that Rick seemed to fully comprehend the nature of the solemn atmosphere of the group, taking in the drained, exhausted faces that looked back to him and recognizing the ones that were no longer there. “Zach?”


He dipped his head, eyebrows pulling together in contemplation. “You guys call it a night. I’ll go tell Beth. We don’t want her waking up to find out by herself.”

“Nah.” Daryl shook his head, adjusting the weight of his crossbow as he did. “I was there, I’ll do it.”

“No, I’ll do it.” Nicole stepped in, her eyes almost daring Daryl to oppose her. “I was there too, and I’m sure she would rather hear it from someone who can be there for her if she needs.”

Rick raised an eyebrow at Daryl as Nicole quickly walked away from them, silence surrounding the two men as Nicole’s footsteps got weaker.