Rick had driven for nearly two days non-stop. From his town, he turned onto the backroads, as Route 56 was blocked. From there, he turned onto Interstate 55. It was relatively clear of abandoned vehicles. Occasionally, he would see one, but it would be on the side of the road. Then, he encountered a roadblock that had long since been abandoned, and turned onto Route 10, where he drove for three hours before finally running out of gas. The squad car came to a stop about a hundred yards away from a gas station. He got out and retrieved a gas can he had in the trunk, and walked toward it. At the intersection was a large wreck. A Subaru Outback had overturned, colliding with a now burnt-out Ford Focus and a large semi. This had sent all three vehicles slamming into a green Mitsubishi truck. Then, as Rick approached the hill leading down to the gas station, he could see more cars. It was as though the gas station had become a camp for many survivors, but it now looked completely desolate. The camp was littered with belongings of all sorts. Mingled in with the cars of varying makes and models, he saw clothes, suitcases, childrens' toys. He saw hairbrushes and a tube of lipstick, purses, baseball bats. Laundry was hanging from in between the gas tanks. Rick's heart dropped when he came across a sign which was wavering in the wind. It was a metal sign, stating 'NO GAS'.
He looked around the camp for any sign of life. He found two corpses sitting in adjacent cars, but then they started to move and snap their jaws. They tried to grab for him, but they were restrained by the seatbelts. It looked like they had been trying to escape. Rick backed away from the walkers, and back to the gas tanks. He checked several cars, but they had been drained of gasoline. That's when he heard the shuffling of feet. He took off his hat and set it on the ground, then got on his hands and knees to peek underneath a car to see what was the source of the sound. To his surprise, a tiny pair of feet in white slippers appeared to walk by the car, stopping in front of a white teddy bear. Then, a hand reached down to pick the toy up.
Rick got back to his feet and walked around the car to look at the person. He saw a blond little girl wearing a bathrobe. She was turned away from him, and walking away.
"Little girl," Rick said to her, "Little girl....I'm a policeman, I'm alright. I can help you......Little girl?"
The little girl stopped walking and stood there for a couple of seconds before, turning around to face. Rick.
Rick's heart sank again, "Oh shit."
The girl was one of them, a walker. Her face had a large bite on it, on her mouth. One of them must have gotten hold of her and bit her lip and cheek off. Black blood dripped from the wound, and it appeared to be rather fresh. The girl's eyes weren't like the others, dull, grey. They still had some slight pigmentation in them, and they appeared a milky green, the pupils small. The girl's grey shirt had droplets of dried blood on it, and she started to move toward. Rick. Slow at first, but gradually gaining speed.
"Shit," Rick said once more, taking out his Colt Python from its holster and readying to fire.
The zombified girl then began to sprint at Rick, and he aimed the revolver at her head, then fired.
The shot made him heart inside, as the bullet entered the little girl's skull, killing her and making her fall backwards, dropping her teddy bear, creating a misty spray of blood to come out the back of her head as the bullet passed through.
Rick didn't bother to bury the girl, he just returned for his hat, then walked back to the sqtad car, where he retrieved the duffel bag, placing the picture he kept in the car of his family inside. He returned the Python to its holster and started-out on foot.
For two miles, Rick walked without seeing anything that looked like it would hold anything useful. Then, Rick came across a stop sign. A cardboard sign had been taped to it. It was old, but he could still read it.
"Summer, sweetie, if you're reading this, Mommy and Daddy are okay. All of us, Josh included, are going to search for you everyday in this area, so don't go anywhere. We love you very much, sweetie."
Taped onto the sign was a picture. It was a little blond girl with curls and a white teddy bear sitting with a blond woman and on a brunette man's lap. They were all smiling.
He knew it was the girl he had just put down that day, but didn't say it out loud. He left the sign and continued to walk.
Several hours passed before Rick came across a small house.
The house was a light yellow, a small garage beside, and a shed farther off to the right. A large brick stood on the porch, stating 'SIGGARD'.
He walked up the porch steps and knocked on the door, "Hello? Siggard family? Anyone home?"
He waited several seconds to allow anyone inside to answer the door, "I'm an officer. It's okay."
He heard nothing coming from inside.
He opened the door, "I-I'm coming in. Please don't shoot."
He walked into the living room and gagged. He threw up all over the white carpet and looked in disgust at the grizzly scene.
Four bodies lay on the floor, a woman, a man, a little girl and an older woman. On the couch sat a man, a pistol in his limp hand. All of them held a Bible, and they were all dead. On the walls, written in blood, was 'GOD FORGIVE US.'
Rick left the house, shutting the door behind him. He walked over to the shed to search for anything. To his surprise, he found a horse.
"Well, hello there," Rick said to the horse, "Hi, girl."
The horse looked skinny, but strong, and had to have been there for at least a week. He stroked the horse's face.
"Yeah, girl, come on. I need you to help me."
He took the horse out of the shed and jumped onto her. He pet her, "Good girl, you've had people ride you before."
He motioned her to go, and she took off on a full sprint.
"WHOA, girl! I know you've been in there for awhile, but calm down!"
The horse jumped a fence, and they were on the road again.
Rick reached the outskirts of Atlanta several hours before dark. He found a way into the city on horseback, and noticed the eerie silence that seemed to consume the city. The sound of the horse's hooves made a clicking sound, which echoed in the empty streets. Rick started to hear something. He looked up to find the sound. It was faint, but it got louder, and soon he could hear the whirring of helicopter blades. It passed overhead. He shouted at it, but it was gone and out-of-view fast.
Rick passed a burnt-out city bus, its windows gone and blackened. A walker sat in one of the seats, and looked at him as he trotted along. It growled at him. More walkers stumbled around as he went deeper into the city.
"Just stay calm, girl," he said, "You're gonna be okay."
He passed the small pocket of walkers and turned onto another street.
And, that's when Rick was scared shitless.
"Holy SHIT!!!" Rick shouted, turning the horse back around.
There in the street was a massive horde of walkers, several hundred, if not thousands. They all noticed Rick, and like moths to a flame, they came at him all at once. Some were really fast, some were super slow, but they all were able to find a way to come at Rick back around the street corner and follow him.
Rick made the horse run, probably faster than the horse had ever run before. They ran down the middle of the street before it threw Rick off, coming up in the air as they ran into another horde coming from the other direction. He landed on the pavement, the bag a couple of feet away. He scrambled for it as the walkers approached. He grabbed the strap, and got on his feet. The first wave of walkers grabbed the horse's neck and legs, and bit into its flesh hard. Blood splattered everywhere as the horse was surrounded and ripped apart. Rick backed away as those who couldn't be involved in the feast focused on new prey, him.
He ran into an alleyway, not caring where he got away, so as long as he got away. He discovered a dead end.
"Lori, Carl, I'm sorry," Rick said, pulling the Colt from its holster and aiming it at his own head.
"Hey!" Someone shouted from above.
"Don't pull that trigger! You'll be killin' the rest of us!"
Rick looked up at the roof of the building to his right and saw a man there.
"Take the ladder!" He hollered down at Rick, "They're coming!"
The man was right, the walkers were finding there way closer to Rick as he wasted valuable time trying to decide what to do.
"Shit," Rick said, running for the ladder and starting to climb up, just as the walkers below reached his location. He climbed all the way up to the roof of the five-story building.
He reached the roof and was going to thank the man when a woman came up to him, grabbed him by the shirt and aimed a pistol in his face.
"What are you thinking? You tryin' to get us all killed?"
Rick was speechless, the woman had a gun aimed at his head.
"Noise draws 'em in."
"Andrea," a black woman said, "Calm down, he didn't fire."
"No, but he almost did. Besides, why should we trust this guy?"
"He's an officer," the Korean man that hollered at him said, "You should always trust policeman."
The black woman spoke, "Where's Merle?"
A man fired down at the crowd of walkers below, killing one of them. He reloaded and took another shot, killing another.
"Merle!" The Korean man shouted, "What the hell are you doing?!"
The man named Merle, who had a shaved head and a sleeveless blue shirt, said nothing, and took aim at another walker, a female one, killing her as well.
A black man came up behind him, and put a hand on Merle's shoulder.
The man turned around, "Why you touchin' me, nigger?"
"Nigger?!" The black man said, "Why, I should," he was cut off by Merle punching him in the face.
The black woman screamed, and the Korean man tried to step in, but Merle ended up punching him in the gut, knocking him to the ground.
"Hey!" Rick shouted, getting in between Merle and the others, "STOP!!!"
Rick punched Merle in the face, throwing the gun out of Merle's hands and over the edge of the building. It hit the ground and went off once more.
Rick had the Python to Merle's head now, "What are you doing calling him that and acting the way you are?"
"Oh," Merle said, "The popo's got me again!" He laughed, "Even after the whole goddamn world's ended, there's still cops! Well, go ahead, arrest me!"
Rick had his handcuffs, and put them on one of the man's hands, dragged him over to a pipe and put the other cuff on it.
The Korean man was on his feet again, the wind knocked out of him, "Thanks," he said, holding out his hand, "I'm Glenn."
Rick shook his hand, "Officer Rick Grimes."
"I'm Jacqui," the black woman said, "That's my brother, T-Dog."
T-Dog waved at Rick.
"That's Andrea," Glenn said, talking about the blond woman, "She...has a lot on her mind right now."
"And," Jacqui said, "That's Merle, one of the Dixon brothers. He's a real pain in the ass."
"Shut the fuck up, you black bitch!" Merle said, still handcuffed.
"BITCH?!" Jacqui's jaw dropped.
"Shut up," Rick said, aiming his gun at Merle once more, "I won't hesitate to pull the trigger."
"What are you all doing up here?" Rick asked.
"We were on a supply run," Glenn said, "We have a camp just outside Atlanta. The whole city's a mess, man. The walkers are everywhere. When the world went to shit, the government told everyone to go to the cities."
"We all came here," Andrea added, still not paying much attention to Rick, "So that we could be safe from the living dead."
"Too bad it didn't work," Jacqui said.
"Yeah, once the military was wiped out," T-Dog explained, "The whole city was lost. The dead occupy every nook and cranny. In fact, there's walkers in probably every building in Atlanta."
Rick thought about Lori and Carl, and knew that they would have come into the city if something as bad as this had happened, and started to have doubts.
"Are you alone?" Glenn asked.
"Uh, yeah...My wife, my kid, they, uh...I don't know where they are."
"Oh," Glenn said, his mood shifting, "I'm sorry."
"Guys," T-Dog said, "We have a BIG problem."
The group moved over to the edge of the building, where T-Dog pointed to the ground below, where thousands of walkers looked up at the group standing on the roof, their hands stretching toward the sky. The moans of countless undead beings produced a loud hum that filled the entire city of Atlanta.
"Holy shit," Andrea sighed, "You see, we should have left him down there, now we're stranded!"
"Guys, it's fine," Glenn said, "We'll just leave the car and hop along the rooftops. It's no big deal."
"You serious?" Jacqui asked, "How do you expect all of us to jump from roof to roof all the way back to camp?"
"That guy," Rick said, "Merle. Are you all serious about taking him with you guys?"
"I don't think we need to be bringing him along," Glenn said, "But his brother, Daryl, he's not going to be too happy about us leaving him here."
"Here," Rick said, handing the key to unlocking the handcuffs to T-Dog.
"You can tell that punk-ass Daryl brother of mine that he can come back for me anytime! I'll be right here, waiting for you all to fall into a bunch of abominations, so they can tear you limb-from-limb until there's nothing left."
Rick pointed his gun at Merle, who sat handcuffed and motionless, "Don't think I won't shoot you."
"Oh, mister, you can't do nuttin' but bitch and complain and occasionally kill an abomination. Y'all gonna fall, and each and every last one of you pussies gonna die."
"Just ignore him," Andrea told Rick, "Merle's the biggest bitch you'll ever meet."
Rick holstered his gun and looked back at the herd of walkers.
"I hate to say this," Glenn said, "But Merle's right, if any one of us were to fall when we're hopping roofs, we'll be goners."
Rick examined the rooftop nearest the building they stood on. It was only about a nine-foot jump, doable for anyone, but figured that it was still pretty dangerous.
"If it'll get us out of the city and somewhere safe, then we can do it."
Just then, from the entrance to the stairwell on the roof, which was locked, of course, walkers began to pound on the door, attracted to the sound of the people talking and shouting.
"Shit," T-Dog said, "We gotta go."
Glenn nodded, "Alright, it's settled. I'll get across, and then I'll show you all how to do it without getting hurt."
The others nodded, and Glenn got himself standing on the ledge. Then, he jumped. In his mind, Glenn thought that he should have taken a running-start, but he made it just fine, so forgot about it.
"Okay," Glenn said, balancing himself, "Jacqui, you first."
Jacqui nodded and sighed.
"Okay, you might want to take a running-start. When you land, try not to fall forward."
"Alright," Jacqui said, backing up to run. She took a deep breath, and then began to run for the edge of the building. Jacqui jumped and made the gap, landing on her feet and stumbling forward, but not falling.
"Good job, okay, now, Andrea, your turn."
It wasn't too hard for Andrea to make the jump, but she didn't quite land on her feet, but she was unhurt.
Then it was Rick's turn. He had watched the women do it and decided to throw the bag of guns first. Glenn and Jacqui caught the duffel bag, and set it next to them.
"Okay, jump, Rick," Glenn said.
Rick did. He took a run and jumped. He missed it by about five inches.
Rick landed hard, grabbing hold of the side of the building with both hands, ready to fall into the horde below.
"GAAH! Help!" Rick said.
Jacqui and Andrea rushed over to the side of the building, where Rick dangled helplessly.
"Take our hands!" Andrea shouted.
Rick let one hand lose its grip on the building and take Andrea's hand.
"Now the other one!" Jacqui insisted.
Rick was afraid. He was afraid to die, he was afraid that he would never see his wife or son again. However, he took hold of Jacqui's hand, conquering his fear of heights and was pulled over the edge by the two women. When he got to his feet, he looked over at the other building he had just jumped from. T-Dog and the guy named Merle were the only ones left.
"Take those handcuffs off," Rick said, "I think he's learned his lesson."
"Right," T-Dog said, turning around to face Merle, "I'm gonna get those off of you, but I expect some respect later."
"Whatever," Merle said, "Just get me outta here."
T-Dog nodded and began to walk over to Merle. Then the impossible happened. T-Dog missed a step. His body tumbled forward, the key flying out of his hands and flying through the air. T-Dog hit the ground before the key, and in slow motion, he and Merle were able to witness the key tumble downward, right into an exposed drain.
"NOOOOO!!!" Merle screamed, "You punk-ass NIGGER!!!"
T-Dog was speechless, "I'm sorry..." was all he could manage, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry!"
"Hey!" Merle shouted as T-Dog took a run for the other building and landed safely, "What about ME?!?"
"Oh, my, God, T," Jacqui said, looking at Merle as he screamed more obscenities.
"We'll come back for him," Glenn said, adding to the conversation, "We'll have to, or Daryl will be all over us."
Glenn examined his options. The next building over was too far away for even him to jump, let alone the rest of the group and the sheriff's deputy, who had almost plummetted to his death on the first jump. It was too risky to try to breakthrough the crowd of walkers trying to get to the rooftop on the building they had just come from. Besides, Merle was there, and he wanted no part of that man.
There was an entrance into the building they were on from the roof, and at the ground, the streets (which were where all the walkers were, were blocked off from a little area that led into a backalley, which he figured would lead them all the way back to camp if they were careful enough.
"Alright," Glenn said, "We'll have to go through the building. There's an alleyway that I think we could use to get back to camp. From where I'm standing, I don't see any walkers in there."
Rick opened the rooftop door, which led into an extremely dark stairwell. The good news was, that about every other light was lit, and although very dim, it was just enough light for them to see where they were going.
"Don't get seperated," Glenn said.
From there, the group traversed the staircase until they came to the ground-floor. It was a clothing store. The doors at the front of the store were sturdy, so they were going to hold. Luckily, not a single walker had found its way into the clothing store, so they didn't have to worry about clearing it out.
"This way," Glenn said, leading them to the door that led out into the alley that was sectioned-off from the rest of the city. The walkers in this area were less dense than by the other store, but there were still plenty of them. The fence that led into the backalley that Glenn had said was about twelve feet tall, and there was nothing they could use to get over it.
"Shit," Glenn said, "We're screwed."
It took an hour of waiting around and sitting that Rick thought up a plan.
"Hey," he said to the others, "I have an idea."
"What is it?" T-Dog asked.
"These things don't seem to mind each other, do they?"
"No, they're brain-dead, or at least they seem like it." Andrea said.
Rick nodded, "They smell terrible, too, like rotting flesh and decay."
"Where are you going with this?" Glenn asked.
"Well, what if we made it to where we smelled like them."
"That's smart," Jacqui said, "It's like some sort of camoflauge, right?"
"Well, just how do you suppose we pull that off?" T-Dog asked.
"That's the other part of my plan. You all aren't going to like it, though."
Glenn opened the gate to the chain-link fence seperating them from the undead crowds outside, "Come on, you idiots! Over here!"
Two of the walkers noticed them. Both of them male, they shambled over to the opening, where Glenn allowed them into the area. He then shut the door as they walked past him. Jacqui had retrieved the fireaxe from inside the store and split the first one's head open with ease. Rick went up to the other one and used the knife that T-Dog had to kill the second walker. Their bodies lay motionless on the ground.
They then proceeded to cut the walker's bodies into tiny, little pieces. As morbid as it sounds, it would help the group escape.
Rick removed the wallet from the pocket of the walker Jacqui had dispatched. He read aloud the walker's identification, "Wayne Dunlap. Age 24. He lived in Atlanta, Georgia. He had twelve dollars in his pocket when he died, as well as two quarters. There's a picture of a girl in here as well, on the back it says 'Rachel'. The other walker doesn't have any identification."
"Alright," Rick said, "This is going to be the most disgusting thing you've ever done."