A scream shredded through the air of the forest, the guttural moans and yells from the Walker raising in response. The shrill sound never morphed into a word of 'help', never conforming into the universal plea for salvation. There was no help. There was no salvation. That was a fact you had accepted long ago.
Your heartbeat pounded ferociously in your chest, beating twice for every one time your leg hit the ground. Blood roared in your ears, too loud to hear the crunching of leaves and grass as your feet blazed across them, but not loud enough to block out the sounds of the flesh-eater that now called you its prey. You could hear it behind you; God, it moved fast. Your legs were already tiring, weakened by the jarring impact of it to the ground combined with the never-ending trek that had occupied your night. You could feel your pulse in your head, hammering with every sight.
Tree. Shrub. Look back. Walker.
The wind tore past you, latching onto your tattered clothes like fingers maliciously trying to hold you back, trying to throw you to the ground to be that thing's next meal. The sun glared down through the leaves, thrusting its daggers of light into your eyes until it became almost impossible to see.
Vine. Rock. Tree. Keep running. Not fast enough. Ditch. Bush.
Tears streamed down your eyes, but you weren't crying. The natural obstacles of the forest seemed to want you to die the same way that so many others had. It was like it was saying, "So how are you any different? How are you special? What makes you think you can survive this?" Nature had one hell of a blood-lust. And it had a way of getting what it wanted.
Tree. Rock. Fence. Fence. FENCE.
You almost catapulted into it, your eyes taking in the short wire barricade, but your mind not processing it fast enough. Nothing but sheer instinct propelled you over the fence that so abruptly ended the forest, and that was hardly enough. Sharp barbs that peppered the wire tore through the flesh of your leg, staining it with red. You hit the ground on the other side, your face ending up in the dirt of a field of some kind, not that you had much time to look. Your arms scrambled up beneath you, lifting your body with all the speed it had as the Walker's raucous sounds filled your ears. Shaking with pain and fear, you were hardly able to get to your feet before the Walker was upon you, the living corpse falling ungracefully over the top wire and falling much the same way you did, grasping for you with its dead hands the whole way. You fell backwards as you tried to turn and run, your feet getting tangled under you, and your leg slippery with blood. The Walker didn't so much as hesitate, its body pieces shredding themselves across the barbed wire without a wince as it scrambled to get to you. It's cold hand snagged onto your foot before you could react, the rest of its body pulling itself closer to you.
A scream must have ripped its way through your now-open mouth. You could feel it as it grated against your vocal cords. But you couldn't hear it. It was as if you had suddenly gone deaf, your panic shutting down your audio senses completely. You watched as if from a different person's eyes as the Walker grappled with your struggling body, trying desperately to sink its rotten teeth into your skin. You saw yourself struggling, writhing on the ground to get it off, but the dead-weight proved to be too good at pinning you down. The Walker's sunken eyes were crazed with the opportunity of a meal, its teeth gnashing in a frenzy.
Your hearing returned suddenly with the booming sound of a bullet blasting through its skull.
Your mind was unable to recover quite so rapidly, your eyes watching with fear, panic, and confusion as the corpse collapsed on top of you, no longer so much as twitching. Its hands didn't move forward to clutch you, neither did its mouth jerk to snap at your neck. It was there- but then it was gone, rolled off of you by some unknown arms. A different set of hands dragged you away from it, twisting you around so that you were face-to-face with the stranger.
"Were you bit?!" the stranger yelled, his blue eyes staring dead into yours. You could hardly process the fact that you were still alive, much less the fact that you were being asked a question. It sounded urgent, though. Very much so. You could tell by the look in his eyes.
Your brief loss of reality was thrown to the wolves as he shook you roughly.
"Answer me! Were you bit?!" he demanded, his voice getting louder. You were able to shake your head, his words not really getting through, but your survivalist nature able to answer for you.
The man let one hand of his grip go, rubbing his head as though your answer had given him a severe headache. After a moment, he opened his eyes, which suddenly got wide as he yelled, "SHANE!" You turned your head to follow his gaze just soon enough to see the barrel of a gun pointed between your eyes. You felt yourself getting shoved to the ground. A loud shriek tore from your mouth involuntarily as a bullet embedded itself in the ground right beside you, the sound as well as yet another close encounter with death making you jump in panic. You bit your lip, a million thoughts and emotions meshing themselves together until your mind and heart just went completely blank with fear.
"Rick. Rick, don't you do this. Don't you even think about this; You KNOW the farm's too crowded as it is!" the man who had held the gun, Shane, said, his voice laced with anger.
"I ain't saying that I don't know that as well as you do, and I ain't saying that we'd be keepin' her forever-"
"Then what are you sayin' Rick?" the other man practically roared. "Why don't we just shoot her now, save us the trouble?"
"Because we can't!"
"And why not?" Shane yelled, the two men right in each other's faces, their glares shooting daggers at one another.
Rick paused a moment, clearly biting back the anger that was flaring in his eyes. When he spoke, his voice was lined with an almost calm fury. "All I'm saying, Shane, is that we patch up her leg, and then we send her on her way. That's all."
"That's all? That's all! Rick, you ain't seeing the picture here, are you? If that girl has a group she's travelin' with, and we set her off on her merry way, she'll know where the farm is. And she'll come back, and she won't be lyin' on the ground alone either."
Slowly, realization set in that this conversation wasn't going in your favor. You didn't know these people. You didn't know what they were capable of. And if that man, Shane, was anything to go by, you were in as much trouble now as you were with the Walker. You began to slowly push yourself up, your eyes locked on the men and the group around them. The others all had their eyes in the same place that you did. It was now or never, you supposed.
"You ain't thinking of this farm, Rick. You ain't thinkin' of the safety of all 'a us here. Of Carl, of Lori."
You sidled yourself slowly in the opposite direction of the men, only holding yourself up as far off the ground as you had to be in order to move.
"You're holdin' yourself back from makin' the right decisions, 'cuz you're still stuck in a world that don't exist anymore!"
You crawled lightly, your eyes locked on the group to make sure that their attention was elsewhere. A sense of naive satisfaction slid into your chest. You might actually get away.
"You're a danger to this group, Rick. To me, to Lori, to Carl-"
"Where you think you're goin', Sunshine?" A new voice hissed, making your head shoot up to see an arrow pointed at your skull. Your eyes moved past it to see a man with short, dark brown hair, his intense blue/grey eyes locked on you.
Maybe you weren't making it out alive after all.
The man's gaze snapped up as someone said something that you didn't quite catch, the drum-roll of a pulse pounding in your ears.
"Just shoot her, Daryl. Do us all a favor and just shoot her!"
"That ain't your call to make, Shane!" you heard a woman's voice suddenly yell.
"Just shoot her!"
"Daryl, don't you dare," Rick warned.
"DAMN IT, JUST SHOOT THE BITCH!"
Suddenly, Daryl's hands flipped his crossbow expertly, the handle of the weapon slamming down on your head, knocking you out cold instantly.
"We'll settle this when she ain't staring at me like I'm some kinda demon."