Too Cool for You


The footsteps were the only thing that kept her from falling into the solemn silence that had followed them all home. As she moved towards the cell block, she noticed the foyer was empty, everyone having moved off to their own cells for the night. As she passed Rick's own cell, she watched the man offering her an encouraging nod before disappearing behind the loosely hung sheet for a door.

Nicole peered into Beth's cell before entering, finding the young girl laid out on her bed, scribbling in one of her many different books.

Nicole hesitated before clearing her throat.

"Hey." The blonde girl looked up.

"Hey," she whispered back, always watching Beth as she lowered herself down onto her bed.

"What's up?"

"Zach," Nicole started, biting at her lip, trying to assess her reaction before continuing.

"Is he dead?" Beth asked bluntly, catching Nicole off guard.

"Yeah." She simply nodded. "I'm sorry." Her eyes followed as Beth stood, and then moved towards the dusty sign propped up reading This workplace has been thirty days without an accident, simply removing the three.

"What?" Beth frowned, taking in the way Nicole seemed to study her carefully. "I just don't cry anymore. I'm just glad I got to know him, you know?"

Nicole nodded, despite the fact of not agreeing with Beth. She never got to say goodbye to her friends or parents, and she knew she would give anything just to have that chance. But then again, did they ever got to exist in this world?

She watched as Beth moved forward to once again sit on her bed, not being able to help the tear that strayed from her eyes. "I'm glad I didn't say goodbye, I hate goodbyes."

"Yeah, me too," she whispered, her brain realizing that it was probably better not to know what had happened to the people she loved.

Both girls looked up, as Maggie moved in cautiously towards the cell to embrace her little sister tightly. Smiling a silent apology to the younger Greene girl once more, Nicole took her leave.

Keeping her feet light, trying to keep her steps from echoing through the cell block, Nicole moved up the stairs without another word. She sat on her bed, the mattress springs complaining. She kicked off her boots and stared at her hands with a disgusted look, spots of dried blood covering them. Nicole worked at wiping them clean from her seated position, reaching for the bottle of water she kept on the ground beneath her bed to soak the rag she had learned to always keep with herself. Even after they were clean, she rubbed at her seemingly stained skin, only stopping when a frustrated sigh escaped her lips.

She lowered herself down to the mattress and stared at the upper mattress frame, her mind catching up with all that had happened in just one day. Violence, blood and death. For four days she had been living in that world, and still she couldn't believe she was actually there. She wasn't stupid, she knew she would have never survived if she hadn't met Daryl, Sasha and Glenn on the road, but every night she hoped and wished to wake up and find herself back in her bed and away from these people. Maybe tomorrow would be the day.
Nicole stood in the shade, eyes going straight to where Rick was talking to both Michonne and Carl. Michonne was readying her horse for the journey ahead and Nicole couldn't help but envy her. She wished she could be that strong, that independent, but instead all she did was hide from almost everybody and regret from waking up in that depressing cell every morning.

Her eyes followed the man with the angel wings on his vest walk towards them, before butting out his smoke and turning to face Glenn, approaching from down the field. Nicole looked down at the Polaroid camera in her right hand. Glenn had given it to her earlier that morning, only asking why she had brought it in the first place. She honestly didn't know, and that's what she had answered him. Maybe she needed something to remind her of her old life, a life when everything wasn't just about surviving. Or maybe she just needed something to keep herself busy.

Nicole looked up, Beth's voice catching her attention when she greeted her, baby Judith in one arm and the other hand holding a baby bottle. Her head spun towards the click and flash that broke through the silence, eyes going straight to the tiny piece of paper Nicole worked at shaking. A smile formed on Beth's lips, quickly approaching Nicole to look at the developing photo.

"Do you want it?" Nicole asked. Judith could hardly be seen, but it had turned out to be a really good photo from Beth.

"No, but thank you." Beth adjusted Judith against her hip. "Do you want to help me with her?"

Nicole immediately scrunched her nose. She didn't like babies that much, in her opinion all they did was cry and poop. She was about to make an excuse for not going with Beth, when the sound of a muffled gun shot from within the walls of the prison made their heads turn.

In a split second a lazy morning had turned into a chaotic one. Rick yelled as he rushed up the field towards them, while Daryl and Glenn had already grabbed their weapons in time to find two girls rushing from D block. Others were rushing from C block, their eyes wide as they tried to place the commotion.

"Walkers in D!" Glenn called from his position closer towards the other cell block, his knife clutched in his hand.
"What about C?" Daryl huffed as they grouped with those pouring out of their own cell block, Rick slipping in behind them with the same question playing on his lips.

"Clear." Sasha nodded as they ran, looking to Rick briefly and then to both Nicole and Beth, Rick following her gaze to make sure that Judith was safe. "We locked the gates to the tombs, Hershel's on guard."

"It's a breach?"

"Don't know," Sasha called out from behind, in response to Daryl. "We just followed the plan."

They pushed through the outside door, silence falling among the people who stood outside, once the metal door closed. Nicole didn't know most of those people. They were from another camp, Maggie had once explained to her, a walled town which leader had turned out to be a bloodthirsty psychopath. Less than a minute later the door opened again, a scream escaping from inside the cell block just as Daryl appeared, off handing to Karen the little boy he had been carrying in his left arm and disappearing once again.

The cleanup was already taking place when Nicole entered the cell block. Amongst the bodies that lay on the ground, Hershel and a bearded man, Doctor S, studied the unmoving body of a teenage boy, while Rick and Daryl hovered over them.

"No bites, no wounds… I think he just died." Hershel commented.

Doctor S kneeled down to study the blood streaks running down the boy's face. "Horribly, too. Probably pleurisy aspiration." He glanced at Bob, who had joined the crowd. "Choked to death on his own blood, caused those trails down his face."

"It's a sickness?" Bob frowned. As an army medic, he was more than likely experienced in stopping the bleeding of severed limbs rather than identifying illnesses. "From the walkers?"

"No, these things happened before they were around." He shook his head, looking back down to the body. "Most likely an aggressive flu strain."

"Hell, he was just eating barbeque yesterday. How could somebody die in a day just from a cold?" Daryl interjected.

"I had a sick pig, it died quick." Rick frowned up at him, his own blue eyes seeming to swim with questions. "Yesterday, I saw a sick boar out in the woods."

"Pigs and birds, that's how these things would spread in the past." Hershel nodded as Doctor S pulled himself up from the floor. "We need to do something about those hogs."

"Maybe we got lucky. Maybe these two cases are it."

Nicole had to take a step back from the body, suddenly starting to feel sick. They were surrounded by people that were supposed to stay dead once they died, so she knew they weren't going to be lucky about this.

"I think we should call the council together. Get everyone on the same page." Hershel turned to face Daryl.

Daryl knew what Rick's reaction would be before it even happened, so it was no surprise when the other man shook his head and eagerly took his leave. Only a few feet away from him, Nicole's eyes followed Rick with a worried face.

"Maybe you should talk to him." Nicole's spoke directly to Daryl, and that caught him off guard. "He might have given up his lead, even his spot on the council, but I know you still value his opinion. Besides, he looks like he needs it."