Rick and Shane sat in the police car, just chatting, listenin' to the radio. The day had been slow, so they had stopped at Joe's for a quick bite to eat, a couple of burgers and some fries. Ol' Joe said, if they wanted to, they could just park in the lot and wait for some action. So, Rick did just that, parked the squad car and chowed down. Shane was talkative, more than usual, rambling on about his ex-girlfriend, Lwellyn, and how bad she was at turning light-switches off when she left a room. Rick wasn't sexist, but his wife did the same thing, and found it peculiar that more than one woman was leaving the switches on. Now Shane, he sure was sexist. He, when in a relationship, and he was in plenty, took control. When a woman moved in with him, he would be the one to be thrown over the edge and lash out, telling her to pack her things and move out. Sometimes, with Shane, it just got to the point where something needed to be done. Rick and Shane were both Sheriff's deputies for the King County sheriff's department, had been for nearly ten years. They liked their jobs, it payed well, and even though Rick had never had to fire his gun, a Colt Python, well-kept and gleaming, the job was dangerous. Back in '08, Rick had a run-in with a couple of dealers down by Pearson's Hardware. Some woman had reported them, two big 'fellas' behind the store, doing something that involved cash.
It was Rick and Shane who had showed up after the call. Rick knew who it probably was, Elmer Province, a notorious town troublemaker who had several run-ins with the law before this occasion. Province was fourteen when he was first arrested, for possession of a control substance. When placed into the squad car, Province pleaded, 'It's not mine! It's not mine! It's Diggy's! Just ask Diggy, he'll yell 'ya!' There was Province, out of the brickhouse and ready to break the law again. It was Elmer and Harold Peterson, one of his 'homeboys' from Atlanta. They had coke and a tad of marijuana, and it was Rick who approached them.
"What are you guys doin'?" Rick had asked, his Colt out of its holster and ready-to-fire just in case Province and Peterson had any firearms on them, he didn't want to take any chances.
"Nothin'," Province said, putting his hands in the pockets in his jacket.
"Yeah, right!" Peterson exclaimed, "This bitch owes me! He's hidin' the stuff in his pocket!"
Province got up in Peterson's face, "Whudyou say?"
Shane came up behind Rick and saw the two, Province in Peterson's face, acting all tough. It was then that Province pulled a Glock 17 out of his pants and shot Peterson in the heart. He fell like a falling tree and hit the ground with a thud. Rick ran for cover behind a Dumpster, Shane against a wall around the corner.
"I don't fool around!" Province had shouted, prancin' around his kill like a predator, "This bitch had it comin'! I don't owe him nothin'!"
Rick could see Shane from where he was hiding, and Shane motioned him over to the wall. Rick ran for it, Elmer Province firing at him as he ran. Up against the wall, Rick was breathing heavy. It hadn't been a real workout, but it was the first time that someone had fired at him in the real world.
"We need backup?" Shane had asked.
"No," Rick replied as Province began to move closer, "Just find a way to sneak up on him."
"Come out, come out, little pigs!" Province laughed, looking around.
Next to them was a ladder, leading up to the roof of Pearson's Hardware store. It was a one-story-tall building, only twelve feet off the ground. Rick's mind hatched an idea.
"If you can get up that ladder, onto the roof and jump down behind the guy, we can take him out."
Shane nodded. He had never killed someone before, but Elmer had just killed one man and was now firing uncontrollably at the two deputies. Something had to be done, Province was dangerous. Shane stepped onto the ladder, out of Province's vision. Rick moved toward Province, just to see what he was doing now. There he was, standing next to the body of Harold Peterson, smokin' a joint.
Rick listened for Shane on the roof. He could hear quiet footsteps. Then, he saw Shane jump from the roof and land on a pile of trashbags. Elmer saw him, too.
"Oh, shit!" Elmer said, running toward the alleyway. Now, it was Rick's turn. Elmer had dropped his gun while trying to escape the two, and now ran right into Rick's Python, falling on the ground, and now trying to crawl back the way he came. Shane came up to Elmer and told him to stop moving.
"You can do whatcha want! You won't stop my business! My homeboys are all around town, hell, even the whole motherfuckin' country! So kill me, you can't do shit."
Rick looked Shane in the eyes, and Shane looked down at Elmer Province, "I don't have to stop your business, man. I just have to stop you." Shane fired. The bullet struck Province in the head, right in the forehead. The dealer went limp.
Now, Rick remembered back to that day. Elmer's mother, Linda Province, had been so ashamed of her son.
She told Rick at the station when she came to file some paperwork on her son, "Elmer really was a good kid growing up. He was just with the wrong crowd when it came time for him to go to Middle School, and it escalated from there. He started coming home later and later, and when I'd ask him what he had been doin', he would say 'I was at Jerome's, Mom', or, 'I was at Diggy's, Mom'. Diggy, he's the one who got him started dealin'. I'm glad that kid was sent to prison a long time ago. Now, I'm not asking you to, Officer Grimes, but it would mean a lot to me if you would come to Elmer's funeral. I...don't know if anyone else will."
Rick felt bad for Mrs. Province. Her son was a criminal, but worse, he was dead, and the fact that the only person she wanted at the funeral was him made his heart ache. So, he went, and Linda Province had given him a huge hug as he and her stood out in the rain, alone, and the coffin was lowered into the ground.
Ever since that day, Rick's wife, Lori, had told him to be more careful. To try and avoid major conflict. It took her a long time to start talking to Shane again.
"Lwellyn was just gorgeous," Shane said as he took another btie, "Beautiful blond hair, shoulder-length, smart, too. But for whatever reason, that woman just could not remember to turn off a light switch. I had to have told her a million times to. But you wanna know what she said when I told her?"
"What?" Rick asked, looking Shane in the eyes, genuinely interested in the story.
Shane laughed, "She said to me, 'You know, I don't have to worry about turning them off, because you're the one who pays the electricity bill'."
"That was it, she was gone. I told her to get out of my house, and then to get out of my life."
"Yeah," Rick said, "Lori gets onto me whenever I tell her to do something repeatedly. She'll say, 'Why don't you do it?', and well, I don't have a response to that."
"You say, 'Bitch, I can do whatever the hell I want, and I don't have to take no crap from you', of course, say it a little friendlier than that."
Rick laughed, "Yeah, you might want to, otherwise you're gonna be in some deeper shit."
The two deputies sat in the squad car in silence for several moments, listening to the sound of the wind coming through the open windows, and a red car drove by and pulled into Joe's drive-thru.
"Has Lori, you know, brought it up recently?"
Rick knew that Shane was talking about that day back in March of 2008, when Elmer Province fired at them.
"Yeah," he replied to Shane's question, "She, uh, is always worried sick about me."
Shane nodded, "Why wouldn't she be? She's your wife, man, that day was scary."
"I know, I know. But, it seems that...whenever she can get the chance to, she always brings it up. She's like, 'You're out there risking your life just so you can put food on our plates. If you ask me, it isn't worth it'."
"She said that?"
"Man, being a cop was your dream ever since you were a kid! You've been out here working for ten years, and that's what she has to say?"
"That's some real bs."
Rick nodded, "I know."
Just then, the radio crackled to life, and the voice of Diane came over. She issued an APB for three suspects driving down Route 9 in a grey, 1970 Pontiac GTO, considered armed and dangerous. Rick responded, saying thay were on their way, and would deploy spikestrips.
"Let's roll," Shane said, taking the food and throwing it into the trash can as Rick began to drive away, the sirens on.
In no time, Shane and Rick were at the county line, and stopped the squad car in the middle of the road. Shane got the strip out of the trunk and he and Rick placed it across the span of the road.
"Come on," Shane said, telling Rick to get back int the car and pull over. They pulled the Interceptor over into the ditch. The other squad cars arrived soon after, and pulled over alongside the road. Some familiar faces got out of the cars, Lambert Kendal and Leon Basset, who were parked next to Shane and Rick's vehicle, both of them holding a Beretta 92FS, using the squad car as cover. Gilroy Briar stood next to them, pistol in hand.
"These guys are trouble," Gilroy said, "They tried to rob a bank in Atlanta, ended up killing three hostages. In Linden County, they shot up four officers, killing two of them before getting to that Pontiac of theirs and driving away. We need to stop them before they get out of King County."
Shane loaded his Glock, and readied himself. Rick was ahead of him, he had had his weapon readya minute earlier, and now, all of the officers, nearly twelve of them, stood either behind or in front of the squad cars in complete and total silence. Soon, the roar of an engine and the sound of police sirens could soon be heard, and the Pontiac leaped over the hill and slammed back into the road, a dent in its side and a headlight busted out. The squad cars behind it were from Linden County, the next county over. The officers involved in the pursuit stopped as the car approached the spikestrip. The car hit it, and there was a loud pop as the tires exploded. The car skidded along, leaving a trail of sparks behind it before it barrelled into the fence on the side of the road, crashing through it and overturning. The GTO flipped six times in the air before hitting the ground once more, and then flipping twice more before coming to a stop. The officers aimed at the car, which was overturned and upside-down. Leon and Lam had their eyes on the passenger-side door as it was kicked off its hinges and thrown onto the ground. A man crawled out, a bloody cut on his face from a piece of broken glass. His hair was gray and long, just like the car, which now was a tangled mass of metal. The man held in his hands a M1911A1, and stumbled out, firing it at the officers in a fit of blind-rage.
The officers didn't hesitate, they all fired at the criminal, who was shot five times in the torso, and he slumped to the ground. Then, another man crawled out of the wreckage, holding some sort of rifle, and fired at them. Rick had no time to move before the bullet just grazed his shoulder. It hurt, but it wasn't bad.
"Officer hit!" Shane yelled, as he fired at the second criminal. The second man went down, and Shane checked on his friend.
"You alright, man?"
"Yeah," Rick said, breathing heavily, "But, listen man, you can NOT tell Lori about this. If she were to find out I was shot while we were out here, she'd go into full-on bitch mode."
Unaware to either Rick or Shane, the third man began to crawl out of the Pontiac wreck, a red bandana on his head, shirt sleeves cut-off and pistol in hand. He fired in their direction. The bullet struck Rick this time, right in the shoulder, just above the heart. Blood squirted from the wound as Rick fell to the ground. Shane took the man out, hitting him in the neck.
Then, he shouted to the other officers, "Man down! Man down!"
Rick's body went numb, and he couldn't feel anything. The adrenaline in his body had numbed the pain completely, all he could feel was the sensation of weightlessness.
Shane was above him, leaning over and putting his hand on his shoulder. He was saying something, but Rick couldn't hear the words coming out of his mouth. The only sound Rick could hear was the sound of the gunshot that had occurred a split-second before he was on the ground bleeding, it reverberating in his eardrums. His vision began to get fuzzy as the other officers approached him, and then, his world went black.
Rick could see Shane standing above him. He was blurry, but he could clearly make out the shape of his best friend from the bed he lay in. He held in his hands flowers, pink ones in a fashionable blue and white vase.
"These are from Diane," Shane said, his voice sounding awkward and distorted, "She and her husband had me pick these up from Sherry's. The vase was Lori's idea. She's uh.....she's worried sick about 'ya, man."
Shane set the flowers down on the bedside-table, and walked away.
Now, Rick could still see Shane.
"So, I'm gonna make it?" Rick asked. After several moments of silence, Rick spoke again. "How's Grandma Jean? Is she helping Carl with his guitar lessons?"
Rick coughed, it wasn't violent, but it was enough to knock some sense into him. Rick looked around the room. Shane wasn't there anymore. He figured he was in the bathroom or something, maybe talking to the nurses in the hallway. Being shot hadn't been a pleasurable experience, not at all. He was awake, though, alive. He had no idea how long he had been out, but something seemed odd.
The lights weren't on anymore. It had seemed like only seconds ago they were on. He looked at the wall at the black-rimmed clock. He stared at it for several seconds before realizing that it wasn't moving. He removed the breathing device from his face and pulled the IV out. Rick thought the power was out, which would be bad for the other patients in the hospital, especially those who relied on electricity to stay alive. But, why weren't the backup generators running? Surely the hospital had generators in case something like this happened.
He knew that he had to get up, find someone, tell them that he was awake. Depending on how long he had been in the coma, his legs could be weak and he might not be able to stand without aid. He moved his legs over to the side of the bed, letting them dangle over the side just above the tiled floor. Rick looked over at the bedside table to see the flowers that Diane and her husband had gotten him. To Rick's surprise, the flowers had withered, some of them crunched up on the table after having fallen off the stem. Rick reached over to them, feeling the dead flowers crunch in his fingers. His mind knew something was wrong, he must have been out for weeks. He hoped he hadn't been out months. Rick gained the strength to grab onto the heart monitor, the sunlight coming through the window causing the light to reflect into his eyes. The glare was awful, but he knew that he could just move away from it.
That was easier said than done. Rick tried to stand, using the heart monitor to help him in the endeavor. It wasn't able to support his weight, and he toppled over, taking the monitor with him. It didn't hurt, falling on the floor, but Rick knew that it would be hard to get back up. After a minute, the feeling in his legs began to come back, and he used the bed to help him up.
He walked toward the door, where he stopped, looked to his right and saw what had become of him. His hair had grown and was all curly, and he had grown some stubble on his face. He wore a hospital gown, unbuttoned, revealing his bandages that covered his chest and torso. The wound still hurt, but he figured it had gotten a lot better. The dresser the hospital staff would have placed his clothes in had been gone through, all the drawers open and nothing inside but his badge. He picked it up and put it in his hand. Rick grabbed the door handle and turned it. He pushed on the door, but it wouldn't open. Something was keeping the door from opening.
Rick peeked his head through the little crack of the door that was open to see what it was. It was a hospital bed. With all his strength, Rick pushed the bed out of the way, opening the door. He had expected to see hospital staff and patients in the hall, walking back and forth to the different wings of the building. Harrison Memorial Hospital was a huge one, three stories tall and with five-thousand rooms. Rick was in B Wing, the Recovery Wing. He looked around just to see if he was dreaming. There was nobody, no one at all. Out of the many lights overhead in the hall, only two of them were on, one of them flickering. Papers were strung about, a respirator was to his left, a wheelchair stood eerily alone in the doorway of the room across from his.
"Nurse?" Rick asked, "Nurse? Anyone?"
He walked toward the reception area. He knew the area because Lori's mother had been in B Wing after having her cancer removed. There, in the darkness, Rick could see the empty reception desk, books, papers and miscellaneous strung everywhere, and a spilled coffee mug sat on the floor.
Rick had known some of the nurses there, one of them was Gilroy Briar's wife, Nora. Another was Wendie, the nurse who took care of Jean when she had been sick.
"Nora? Nora, are you here? Nora? Wendie?"
Rick thought he heard something, but wasn't sure. Then, he heard the sound again, and decided to follow it. It wasn't a voice, it was more of a thudding sound. Rick stopped when he saw a clipboard on the floor. He picked it up and read what was attached to it.
- Terry Donaldson, 42, deceased R2345
- Sarah Donaldson, 41, deceased R2345
- Michael Richard, 67, deceased R2378
- Nora Briar, 34, R2365
- Cecelia Iglesias, 50, deceased R2346
- Gary Fry, 23, R2398
- Freddie J. Princeton, 89, deceased R2367
- Damien Thomas, 10, R2354
It was a list of patients, but Nora's name was on there. Rick wondered why some of the patients had 'deceased' in their description. Also, he wondered where everyone was above all things. Had everyone just taken a break all at once? It didn't seem likely, but that was all that Rick could come up with.
There was another thud and the sound of creaking metal to his left down another hallway. This hallway looked just as desolate as the one Rick had just came from. There were wires hanging down from the ceiling. As Rick approached the wires, he looked up at them and could see through the ceiling to the floor above. Ignoring the hole in the ceiling and the dangling wires, Rick walked forward, dropping the clipboard at the sight of what he saw. There was a set of steel double-doors.They had a block of wood placed in between the handles and chains wrapped through it and connected with a lock. Spraypainted on the doors in large, black letters were
DON'T OPEN DEAD INSIDE
On the walls were what looked like bulletholes and blood on the floor in a dark red puddle Rick walked closer to the closed door, where he thought he heard something. Heavy breathing almost. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, a hand slipped through the crack in the door, then another. All at once, several pairs of hands reached through the door, and the doors tried to open, being hit by something from within the room. It was the cafeteria, but Rick had no idea what the words on the door meant. All Rick knew was that something terrible had happened while he was in that coma. Rick walked away from the sight, trying to comprehend what was going on.
He pressed the button to the elevator, just to see if it was still working. After several seconds of button-pushing, Rick gave up and abandoned the idea of using the elevator. What Rick didn't know was that the elevator had stopped working a long time ago. It was several minutes before Rick found the emergency exit. It was closed, meaning no one had used it. If something had happened, they must have evacuated everyone out through the main exit. But why had he been barricaded inside his room, and by whom?
There were no lights or windows at all in the stairwell. It was pitch black. Rick waved his hands through the air as he walked to find the railing. He found it, and began his descent. It was two floors to the main level, and in his condition, it took Rick around five minutes to traverse all the stairs. Rick found the back exit, and opened the door. Light flooded his eyes, and he was momentarily blinded. What he saw after his eyes adjusted was nothing but gruesome.
There were nearly two hundred bodies, all lying next to each other, wrapped in sheets, covered with dried blood. Flies were all over them, nibbling away at the corpses. Rick closed the emergency exit door and examined the bodies. Many had their faces covered, but some faces could be seen. Rick recognized a couple of them; the woman who worked at Joe's, Trish, his son's math teacher, Mrs. Donovan, and the mechanic who had repaired his old Focus.
The smell was horrid, it penetrated Rick's nostrils and made his stomach churn. He vomitted on the ground, wiped his face and walked among the bodies. There were bodies of all sizes, shapes and races, men, women, and from the looks of it - children.
A truck was parked next to the makeshift morgue, its bed piled high with even more corpses. Rick walked up a hill to observe the parking lot of Harrison Memorial.
It was a total warzone. The military was there, or at least, had been there. A grounded helicopter sat motionless and still, a couple of tanks, concrete barriers, sandbags and even more dead bodies were strung about. They were all dead. The front of the Hospital looked burned, and a large hole was in the center just above the main entrance, which was completely blocked off with chairs, tables and concrete barriers. Papers and trash littered the lot, blowing in the breeze. Rick realized that something far worse than anything he could ever imagine of had taken place at the hospital.
He looked back down the hill at the piles and piles of bodies. He almost teared up at the sight of Mrs. Donovan. She lived one street over. On two occasions, Rick, Lori and Carl had gone to her house to enjoy a barbeque with her, her husband and kids, Rich and Darla. Did Carl know? Oh, shit, Carl! Rick had completely forgotten about his family!
He had to find them, he had to. He prayed to God they weren't among the dead. He prayed that whatever had happened hadn't killed them. Rick walked over to a parked car, checked to see if it was locked. It was.
"Shit," Rick said, looking at the road ahead. It wasn't far to his house, but it was far enough that it would take awhile on foot.
"Hello?" He asked, "Anybody?"
Giving up on finding anyone at the hospital, Rick walked north to Ridgewood Park. There, too, were bodies. There must have been an epidemic, Rick thought, something that killed it victims. Everyone who's alive must be at a safehouse or something, an evac camp?
Rick passed a highway patrol car, no one inside, written on it in blood were the words: "Ridgewood Park Safe Zone compromised on 5/2, thirteen dead, five survivors. Headed for Valley Place."
The park was surrounded by miscellaneous objects, a setup much like the one he saw back at Harrison Memorial. He entered it, just to search for anything that might shed some light on what happened. The first thing he thought to do was check the dead. The thirteen deceased were bloodier than anything he had ever seen. A female was on the sidewalk, her back had been torn into by something, innards spread out everywhere around her. What Rick discovered was that they all had what looked like bullet holes in their skulls. A crime had been committed, a terrible crime, Rick thought. Being an officer, he felt like he had to do something, find who had shot the woman in the head, bring her and the others justice. Then, Rick noticed something. It was on the ground, in the grass next to a knocked-over bicycle.
He approached it slowly, figuring it was just another body. As he got closer, Rick could make out what it was he was looking at. It was the body of a woman. Her upper-half was mangled, her lower completely gone. A femur bone stuck out behind her, dull and grey with bloody remnants still clinging on to it. Intestines and bowels were behind the dead woman, but what Rick found most disturbing, was the fact that there was a trail behind that half-corpse, a bloody trail that reached fifty feet behind all the way to the yard of a home.
Then, the corpse began to move. The dead woman turned over to look at Rick. That's when Rick realized just what had happened. He looked into the woman's eyes. He saw no life. No spark, no passion. They were grey, dull and lifeless. They were dead. Her jaw moved up and down as if she were trying to eat something, her lips gone and teeth exposed. Her hair was blond, dry and falling out in clumps. Her eyes were sunken-in, and she was the manifestation of death. Rick was so dumbfounded at the sight that he did not know how to react. Was he supposed to be bewildered beyond comprehension at the sight of a moving body, or heartbroken? He felt a little of each emotion. The dead woman extended her arms, which were covered with wounds that Rick thought to be bites, and tried to reach out for him.
Rick took a step back, unaware of what the woman was capable of doing to him. He backed away even more, the woman snapping her jaw up and down ferociously, her teeth making contact with each other and making a clicking sound, a gurgle in her throat.
He righted the bike and got on, and began his way toward home. He turned onto Robin St., passing Joe's restaurant. It looked like Joe and his wife had gotten out of town as soon as possible. The windows were all boarded up and the scene was deserted. There was a dead restaurant employee on the pavement, ripped apart like the woman at Ridgewood. He continued to pedal forward, turned onto McKay, and looked at his neighbors' homes. Two cars were parked in the middle of the street. He walked around them after abandoning his bicycle and sat on the ground. He put his hands on his head, trying to understand what was going on. He had woken up to a hellish nightmare, and he hoped it was a nightmare. That's all it was, a bad dream. He was still in his coma, sound asleep in his bed at the hospital. He pinched himself to see if it was true. He felt pain.
All of a sudden, Rick was struck in the back of the head.
Duane Jones stood over the man after hitting him with his shovel, "Daddy!" He shouted, "I got the sonofabitch!"
Morgan Jones ran over to his son, who stood over the body of a man, holding his shovel at his side, and looking at him. For a second, Morgan was proud of his son. He had killed one of the dead. But then, Morgan took a closer look at who the boy had struck. He saw that the man was breathing.
"No, son," Morgan said, kneeling down next to the man, "This man is alive."
"Oh," Duane said, feeling somewhat ashamed of what he had done.
A blond woman rushed over to the father and son, "Oh my, God! What happened?!"
"Duane thought this man was one of them," Morgan told her.
The woman, whose name was Bebe, looked at the man on the ground, unconscious and in a gown.
"He must have come from the hospital," she said, kneeling down beside Morgan and the man, examining his gown. Bebe pulled the gown back, revealing bandages across his chest.
"What the?" Morgan said.
"He's hurt," Bebe said, "We should take him inside."
After the three carried the man inside, they laid him down on the couch in the living room.
"He shouldn't stay here," a man named Wallace said.
"Come on, Wallace, he won't last a day out there alone," Bebe replied.
"I'm with Wallace on this," Bebe's sister Tina said, "We have enough problems with Cindy, and don't you remember that guy from the hotel? He stole from us, after we took him in!"
Morgan kept quiet, he was the leader of the group, but thought that they should sort out their own problems.
"What are we gonna do, Dad?" Duane asked him.
Morgan stood against the kitchen table, his arms crossed, looking at the man in the living room. He looked at what the man had had in his hands when Duane hit him. It was a police badge. The man was a sheriff's deputy, Officer Rick Grimes.
"I don't know, son," he told Duane.
Duane nodded, though felt like his father hadn't answered his question.
"Are you still upset about Mom?" Duane asked suddenly.
Morgan's heart began to ache, "Don't talk about her now, you hear me?"
"Yes, sir," Duane answered, lowering his head.
Tina and Bebe began to argue about whether or not they should keep the officer with the group. Morgan's mind was preoccuppied with other things. One of their own, Cindy, was sick. Really sick. One of the dead had grabbed her outside in the backyard and took a chunk out of her arm. Morgan killed the monster and threw it off of her, but it was too late. Cindy was bitten, and now she lay upstairs in bed, asleep and dying.
"He's hurt, Tina," the boy named Zack said, "It's not right just to throw him outside."
"Why not?" Tina snapped, "For all we know, those bandages could be from a bite!"
"If that's the case," Wallace added, "Then he's a dead man."
"Let's just see," Bebe said, walking over to the unconcsious officer, and put her hand on the bandages. The man felt warm, but it wasn't the fever. She pulled off the bandages and revealed a wound.
"It's not a bite," she told the others, "It looks like he was shot."
Tina's jaw dropped and eyes widened, "Shot?!"
"It happened a while ago, because it's almost completely healed."
"So, he's fine?" Zack asked.
"Do we have any more bandages?" Bebe asked the others.
"Yeah," Tina said, heading for the stairs, "In Cindy's room."
The man's eyes opened suddenly, which alerted Morgan.
"AHH!" The man shouted, jolting up and looking around, "Where am I?!"
"Calm down," Bebe said, putting a hand on the man's shoulder, "You're alright."
Morgan walked in from the kitchen and over to him, "You alright?"
"ALRIGHT?! How the fuck do you think I feel? I wake up to the goddamn apocalypse! I can't find my family and now I'm surrounded by you people!"
"Listen," Morgan told the man, "Just listen to me."
Rick nodded nervously.
"How many of those things have you seen?"
"Yeah, the dead things. How many have you seen?"
"Oh, the dead...uh, well, when I found my way out of Harrison Memorial Hospital...I...uh....saw hundreds of bodies-"
Morgan cut Rick off, "No. Not the ones they put down. The ones they didn't."
"What? Put down? What are you all talking about here?"
"Seriously? Is this guy for real?" Zack asked no one in particular.
"You really don't know what's happened?" Morgan asked Rick.
He shook his head.
"How long were you in that hospital?"
"I got hurt on the fifteenth of April," he told the man.
"So, let's see, if you were hurt on the fifteenth of April, that means that you were at that hospital for a month and a half. How come you didn't see any of the dead?"
"I was in a coma."
"Really?" Wallace asked.
Rick nodded, "Yeah. I'm Officer Rick Grimes, by the way."
"Morgan Jones," he told Rick.
"Bebe. My sister Tina's upstairs."
"There in the kitchen is my boy, Duane," Morgan told Rick, pointing to his son, who was sitting at the kitchen table."
Rick gave Duane a friendly wave, then turned his attention back to Morgan, "What exactly happened?"
"No one really knows exactly what happened, but we do know some stuff," Wallace replied, "Man, I lost my wife to this shit."
"One day, the world just went to hell," Morgan said, "Me, Duane and my wife heard about it a little late, though. All of a sudden, people all around us were dying. But...they didn't stay dead."
"The dead are walking," Zack said.
"Shut up, Zack," Wallace told him.
"Anyway," Morgan continued, "My family and I loaded everything up into our car and just drove. Our town, a little place called Perch Point, yeah, it didn't last too long after it all started."
"Tina and I are from Atlanta," Bebe said, "We ran into Zack on our way into town. He joined us, and we found Morgan and Duane here at this place."
"The hospitals were lost pretty quickly, and without doctors and nurses, people went crazy. The dead, the ones who walk, anyway, when they get up, they start to eat. Anything they can find, they'll eat. Once you're bit, you're done for. After that, the fever sets in. It's that that kills 'ya. Then, after a little while, you come back, but you're not yourself," Morgan explained.
"Seen it happen," Duane said from the kitchen.
Morgan gave his son an evil look and returned his glance to Rick, "You got any family?"
"Yeah, a wife, a kid. I can't find them."
"Oh," Morgan said grimly, "I...I'm sure they're fine."
Rick sensed Morgan's mood and replied, "Where did everyone go?"
"Well," he explained, "Those who the military didn't put down are walking around still. We've killed a couple of them. Our friend, Cindy, she's bitten. Those who weren't infected and didn't die left town as soon as they could. They used every exit they could, but it seemed everyone had the same idea and they jammed all the roads. That's why we couldn't get into Kentucky. The media said that larger cities were so-called safe-zones, that they could provide, food, shelter and security. What they didn't expect was that when you have a large number of people in one spot, and one of the dead gets in, all hell breaks loose."
"My wife, my son, they.... my in-laws live in Atlanta. They would...probably have gone there to find them."
"I'm sorry," Morgan said.
"What about you, Wallace? Where are you from?"
"Macon," he replied, "My wife, Paige, she, uh, didn't last very long, only a couple of days after it all started. After she died, and stayed dead, I left Macon with a group of about fifteen other people on a bus headed for Atlanta. On the way, we stopped at a conveniece store. Apparently the cashier was one of those things and attacked the driver. Then, we were swarmed. I was the only one who got away. I stole an SUV and drove until it ran out of gas, and Morgan found me walking down Route 9."
Zack spoke up, "My nephews, Brennan and Brandon, they live on Route 34 with their father, he's a cop, too. Their mother, my sister Rachel, died three years ago from terminal cancer. I still need to find them. I know they're alive, they're strong."
"Me and Tina were travelling with our mother to go see some band she liked in Atlanta. We're from South Carolina. On the way, we heard about what was going on and drove into town. Tina was upset because of the concert being cancelled, but I didn't really care. We all stayed with my friend until those things were pounding on our door. They killed my friend, and our mother ran off. Tina and I have been trying to find her ever since."
Morgan spoke to Rick, "We've cleared out some of the houses around here, but this one seems the safest, so we've stuck here. Those monsters are everywhere."
"The house two doors down, have you seen any of them in there?" Rick asked, wondering about the fate of his family.
"That place was cleaned-out before we all got here," Wallace replied.
"Oh," Rick said to no one, "This house, it belonged to my neighbors Tom and Cindy Drake. Are they here?"
"No," Morgan said, "They had already packed up everything and left, we didn't see any of the walkers in here."
There was a long period of silence before Tina returned with the bandages for Rick's wound. Morgan placed the new ones on and the whole group, excluding the woman named Cindy, sat in the kitchen for dinner. It was cold soup.
"The power went out last Monday," Bebe said, bringing the pot over to the table, "But I figure food is food, so, dig in!"
Rick was given food last, but he felt good that there were still other people alive.
They ate quietly. There wasn't much to talk about, and the others didn't seem too interested in what Rick had to say.
Morgan decided to tell Rick, "Rick, if you're gonna survive, you're gonna have to know how to kill those things."
The next morning, Rick awoke on the couch in the living room. There was crying coming from upstairs. He looked around and didn't see anyone around. He got up and moved toward the stairs. He looked up just to see if he could see what was going on.
"Hello?" He asked, "What's going on?"
At the top of the stairs, Rick could see everyone crowded in one room around a bed.
"Cindy," Tina said, holding her friend's hand, "Why? It was just fourteen hours ago, damnit! Fourteen hours ago we were sipping lemonade and laughing, and now, you're dead! Why?"
Rick's jaw dropped. Cindy had died. He watched as the woman mourned for the loss of her friend. Tina and Cindy seemed pretty close, by what he could tell.
Bebe noticed Rick, and walked over to him, "Uh, Cindy died about thirty minutes ago. The fever...it was...just too much for her to take."
"So, this is what happens when you're bit?"
"Yeah," Bebe said, "It happens no matter what. But, she's going to come back. Oh, God, I don't want that to happen, but, how can we stop it? I mean, we could try....shooting her, but....that's inhumane."
"I've only seen one of those things," Rick said, "But, you're right. That is inhumane. It's satanic."
"Tina and I are...going through so much right now. We only knew Cindy for three weeks, but, still, she was like family."
"Where was Cindy from?"
"Oregon," she replied, "Salem. She was here for business, she was a lawyer. Yesterday morning, before we found you, a walker grabbed hold of her and chomped her. I killed that sonofabitch. I killed him. But, I was too late."
Rick felt sorry for Bebe, and felt as if he could have done something, but didn't know what he could have done.
"We should bury her," Rick said, "I saw so many bodies that deserved proper burials. Maybe, if we bury her, we could make up for the thousands of bodies in the world that didn't get to be."
Bebe nodded, "She would like that."
Just then, a dead Cindy jolted upward.
"Shit!" Zack shouted, running out of the room and down the stairs.
"AHH!" Tina shouted as a now reanimated Cindy grabbed hold of her long, brown hair, pulling it close to her mouth.
"Shoot it! SHOOT IT!" Tina shouted, trying to pull away. Rick looked around for his gun, but realized he had never had it in the first place.
The undead monster went limp, letting go of Tina's curls and fell forward in an awkward position, a hole in her head, reddish-blackish blood dripping from the wound and onto the covers.
Tina jumped backward, looking at the hallway, where Bebe stood, her gun still smoking from the shot.
Rick was speechless, Bebe had reacted so fast, he wouldn't have been able to do that.
Tina began to cry once more.
Morgan pulled her away from the bed, but she struggled, trying to reach for her friend, but he won the fight.
Bebe wiped tears from her face, "I'm sorry, I...I have to go sit down and think."
She walked downstairs.
Rick walked into the bedroom, where Tina sat on the floor, huddled up and in shock. Duane wasn't present, he was still asleep. Wallace was in the corner, covering his face with one hand, silent. He approached the dead body. Her skin was pale, almost grey, eyes sunken-in and facial features prominent. He looked at her eyes, the way one of them looked at him, dead. There was no life to them, just like the walker he had seen in Ridgewood Park.
"Those sheets need to be thrown out," Wallace said suddenly, pointing at the pool of blood that was soaking through them.
"Come on," Morgan told Rick, "It's time we taught you how to kill them."
Morgan woke Duane. He wanted to teach him how to kill walkers, too. He unlocked the front door and the three walked outside. Rick had been given a spare set of clothes from Zack. It wasn't what Rick would call a shirt that he would wear, it had Darth Vader on it. He wore a hockey mask and held a baseball bat Morgan had retrieved from the front closet.
There was a walker sitting by the mailbox, motionless.
Morgan whispered to him, "Rick, you take this one. All you gotta do is sneak up on 'im, and try not to get bit. Aim for the head. Remember, noise draws 'em in."
Rick walked toward the stationary walker, it was a man, probably no more than twenty years old. His face was covered in dried blood, which Rick figured was from a recent feeding. Then, tiptoeing his way behind it, Rick raised the bat over his head, and brought it down on the walker's. It crushed the walker's skull, and it slumped over to the side.
"Nice work," Morgan told him quietly.
After Duane took a whack at a female walker who had noticed the three of them, Bebe stepped outside.
"Guys," she said frantically, "TINA'S MISSING!"
"What?!" Morgan snapped.
"One moment, she was with me in the kitchen, the next, she just disappeared! We checked every room in the house, even the basement and found no sign of her. Also, one of our guns is missing!"
"Shit," Morgan said, running inside.
Zack and Wallace were in the living room waiting for them as everyone came inside.
"That bitch stole our gun and ran off! It's like the guy from the motel all over again!" Wallace said.
"HEY!" Bebe shouted at Wallace, getting up in his face, "That 'bitch' is my little sister, and you're not gonna call her that again!"
"What are you gonna do if I do?" Wallace replied hatefully.
Bebe aimed her Browning BDA in Wallace's face, "I'll BLOW YOUR MOTHERFUCKING BRAINS OUT!!!"
Wallace's jaw dropped and eyes widened, and he shut up.
"Listen up, everyone," Morgan said.
Bebe lowered her gun.
"We need to find Tina. She couldn't have gotten far. Rick, you and Duane stay close to me. Bebe, you come with us. Zack and Wallace, you two go together and search the houses to the right, we'll take the left."
"On it," Zack said, loading his gun.
"Why should I help?" Wallace asked.
"Well," Morgan explained, "It's either you help us, or we throw you to the walkers."
"Whatever," he said, grabbing a machete from the coffee table.
"Let's go, make sure you shut the door behind us," Morgan told Zack.
Wallace and Zack took the houses to the right. Rick, Morgan, Bebe and Duane went left. They walked to Ginger St., where Rick started to get in touch with his surroundings.
Then, they heard a gunshot.
"Tina!" Bebe shouted as a woman screamed.
The four ran in the direction of the scream as another gunshot occurred.
"TINA!!!" Bebe shouted as they rounded a corner. In the doorway of a home was Tina in a black jacket, fending off three walkers, with more coming from inside."
"NO!!! Bebe shouted, raising her Browning and firing at the zombies, being careful not to hit her sister.
She took one of the walkers out, it fell to the ground with a thud.
Tina screamed once more. Morgan took aim and took another one out.
Rick ran up to Tina and dragged her away from the home and into the street.
Then, he raised his bat at one of the walker's heads.
The bat connected with the head and sent a shockwave running through the skull, shattering it and smashing the brain to a pulp. More walkers poured from the building. Bebe, Morgan and Rick worked hard at putting them all down.
Then, they stopped coming out.
In total, they had killed fourteen walkers. They examined the dead.
Rick looked at the home they had come out of, and then at the bodies of two of the walkers. It was Rich and Darla Donovan, the children of Mr. and Mrs. Donovan. Bebe had put them both down with her Browning, and realized what she had done.
"Calm down, Bebe," Morgan told her.
"CHILDREN?! OH, THE INHUMANITY!!!"
She collapsed to her knees. Tina sat in the street, looking off into space as the event had unfolded.
"Why did you run off?!" Bebe snapped at her sister, "WHY?! DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING WORRIED I WAS ABOUT YOU?!"
"I...I'm sorry, Bebe." Tina whimpered.
"SORRY?!? SORRY?!?! NO!!! DON'T BE SORRY!!! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!!!! I ALMOST FUCKING KILLED WALLACE BECAUSE OF YOU, TINA!!!"
Bebe ran over to her sister and hugged her, "I'm sorry...I'm sorry about Cindy...I'm sorry about Mom...I'm sorry that I can't protect you..."
Rick was sweaty, and his bat was soaked with black blood. He decided it would be a good idea to move the group to the station. They had supplies there, weapons, food, and electricity. They all walked back to the house in complete and total silence.
Morgan drove an old 1974 Toyota Land Cruiser. It had been Jenny who had suggested he buy it five years before the world went to shit. Duane sat next to him in the passenger seat, Rick and Wallace in the back seat. It had taken an hour for them to bury Cindy in the backyard. Tina hadn't been present for the little funeral they had for her. Behind the Land Cruiser was Bebe, driving her old Ford Taurus with Tina and Zack inside. Rick had suggested they drive to the police station, that it could be used for them all to holdout and wait for help.
RIck was surprised by how messed up the roads were. Each street they turned onto was worse than the next. Cars and trucks had been abandoned everywhere, trash, bodies lie on the ground. Morgan had mixed feelings for the man he was driving. He was a nice man, had helped save Tina's life and bury their friend, but Morgan saw something in him that just didn't seem normal. It wasn't something bad, it was just something that...you normally wouldn't see in a man.
Morgan pulled into the station parking lot and parked, Bebe parking next to him. Everyone got out and Rich addressed them.
"Okay," he said, "We get inside, take no more than you feel needed. If things get back to normal soon, I don't want to have to explain to the captain why all his stuff's missing."
Rick found the spare key and unlocked the door to the station. He turned on the lights.
"The station has its own generators," he said, "Got enough gas here to keep 'em runnin' for a year non-stop."
Rick looked around, checking for anyone, or anything. Diane's office was clear, nothing in there but a bunch of public disturbance files. Lambert's office had been ransacked, everything gone. Gilroy's office was locked, with no way to get in. Leon's office was almost completely untouched, a little trashed, but still in pretty good shape.
The cells were empty, but Rick could see that something bad had happened at the station. There was blood all over to floor, and splattered on the walls.
"What happened here?" Tina asked no one in particular.
"Must've been walkers," Morgan replied, following Rick through the station.
As they turned a corner, they came across the second set of cells.
"Shit!" Morgan exclaimed, looking at what he saw in one of them.
There were three walkers in a cell.
Rick's heart sank as he looked at one of them, "Fuck."
"What?" Bebe asked.
"It's my friend Don. We worked together."
One of the walkers wore an officer's uniform, a bite mark on his neck, his shirt stained with dried blood. The other two were civilians who Rick didn't recognize.
"Should we kill them?" Zack asked Morgan.
"No," he said, "We'll just attract more of 'em."
Rick looked at Don, looking at how dead he looked. It was a sad sight. Don had a girlfriend, he couldn't remember her name, but wondered if the female walker inside the cell was her. The other walker was an older man, green glasses still on his face. Don approached the bars, and reached his hands through, moaning and gurgling, trying to reach Rick.
"I'm sorry, man," Rick said, walking away.
"Hey, Rick!" Morgan shouted, "The door to the armory's locked!"
"Coming," he said, finding the armory key.
Hey put the key in, turned it, and unlocked the door. He opened it, and it looked like Christmas morning inside.
"Jesus," Bebe said, "It's wonderful."
"It sure is," added Wallace.
The armory was filled with guns and ammunition of all sorts. There were Smith and Wessons, Colts, Tauruses, Webleys, Brunis, Glocks, Berettas, M1911A1s, Brownings, Vektors, SIGs, Walthers, Heckler and Kochs, Remingtons, Winchesters, Mossbergs, AK47s, Uzis, Flash Bang Grenades, and other miscellaneous. There was body armor and police shields, and enough food and water to supply an army.
"If I'm going to find my family," Rick said, "I'm gonna need some of this stuff, too."
Rick grabbed a duffel bag off the floor and placed it on the table. He walked over to his old locker and entered the lock combination, then looked inside. Everything was still there, just the way he had left it. His Python was in there, too. He changed into his uniform, placing the shirt Zack had given him in the duffel bag. He retrieved his holster and placed the Python inside, making sure the revolver was fully-loaded. He placed .375 magnum ammunition in the bag, as well as a grenade, three Glock 17s, a Glock 19 and ammunition for both of those models. He grabbed a 92FS, and figured that would do. He wanted to make sure that if and when he found Lori and Carl, they could be well-protected.
Bebe found herself some ammo for her BDA, and handed Tina a gun of the same model.
"What's this for?"
"I don't expect you to be relying on stealing for your own protection," Bebe told her sister while loading her gun, "Use this, it's yours."
Tina placed the gun she had stolen on the table, and took the BDA from Bebe, "Are you sure? I mean, I'm not a very good shot?"
"Not now, but you will be. Being an officer has its perks," she said, "You know how to use a gun."
"You're an officer?" Rick asked, surprised.
"Yeah," she said, "I'm on vacation, South City P.D."
"South City, South Carolina?"
Duane reached for a Remington 700 VLS, but Morgan stopped him.
"Come on, Dad," Duane said, "I'm old enough!"
"Yes," he told his son, "You are. But if I ever see you with this gun and you aren't in danger, you're gonna be in deep shit."
"Yes, sir," Duane said, lowering his head.
Zack and Wallace loaded two pistols.
"There's still one more thing I think you all will like," Rick said, showing everyone to the door.
Rick was right, the others loved what he showed him. The station, besides having their own generators, had running water, and they all were able to take hot showers. Most of them had already considered that luxury lost after the apocalypse. The men showered in the men's locker room, the girls in the womens'.
After drying off, they returned to the armory and stocked up on food and water.
Rick locked the armory door before taking them to the officer's parking lot behind the station.
"How good does that Land Cruiser of yours run?" Rick asked.
"Great, restored it myself, customized it. It can go 120 easily."
"Okay, then, Bebe, how good's your Taurus?"
"It's a good car, sturdy, but it has engine problems and likes to stop suddenly."
"A car like that isn't a very good car if it likes to stop all of a sudden. Here," he said, handing her the keys to one of the station's 2001 Ford Crown Victoria Interceptors.
"Car 21," he said, pointing to the vehicle closest to them.
"Thanks," she said with a smile.
"Don't mention it. However, I do expect it back after this whole thing blows over."
"If it blows over," she corrected him.
Rick turned his attention to the chain-link gate that seperated the officer's lot from the parking lot, and saw a walker. He was shocked to see that he knew who it was.
Morgan noticed the walker, too, "You know him?"
It was an officer.
"Yeah," Rick said, "Leon Basset."
Rick walked over to his zombified friend, looking him in the eyes. Leon tried to reach for Rick, but the holes in the fence were to small for his hands to fit through. He growled. Rick saw his leg, which was soaked with blood and mangled.
"He was my friend," he said, "He might have been an idiot at times, stupid, even, but he didn't deserve this. Leon was one of the nicest men I ever met."
"You know," Morgan said, "You can put an end to it."
Bebe, Tina, Wallace and Zack stood by the squad car they had been loaned and watched as Rick contemplated what to do with the undead cop.
"He deserves better," Rick decided as he removed the Colt from its holster, raised it, and shot Leon in the head, the blast echoing through the street. Leon stood there for several seconds, motionless, still holding onto the chain-link, before becoming limp and falling to the ground with a thud.
"Thank you," Rick said to the others, "For everything."
Tina and Bebe hugged Rick, and Zack and Wallace gave him a handshake.
Morgan and Duane approached him, "Take care," Morgan told Rick.
"You, too," Rick said, grabbing Morgan's hand and shaking it.
"Duane," Rick said, holding his hand out to the boy.
Duane took hold of Rick's hand and shook it, "Good luck, sir."
"Rick," Morgan said, "Find your boy, keep him safe."
"I will," Rick replied.
Bebe and her sister and the two other men got in the squad car, and Rick opened the gate for them. Bebe honked the horn as she pulled onto the street and drove away. Morgan and Duane got in their Toyota, and did the same. Morgan waved to Rick as they pulled out, and Rick waved back before getting into his own squad car, and driving away, not looking back.
Rick stopped the car at Ridgewood Park. He got out and looked out at the lawn, scanning the scene for what he was looking for. Then, he saw it. He walked up to the dead woman and looked at her. Once again, she reached a decomposing hand out for him, grasping and ungrasping the air.
"I'm sorry this happened to you," he said, aiming his gun at the walker's face.
He teared up, and closed his eyes as he fired.
The female walker went limp as the bullet entered her skull.
Then, Rick walked away back to the car.