Oscar nodded heading down one end of the corridor while Daryl and the two young teenagers went the other way.
“Come on,” Daryl stated to the boys, making them follow him. After a few moments in silence, Daryl glanced down at Carl who walked right beside him, Riley just behind them. “You know,” He started gaining the attention of the boys. “My mom, she liked her wine. She liked to smoke in bed. Virginia Slims.” He paused in his story telling to peek through a door. “I was playing out with the kids in the neighborhood,” He started again, making his way down the corridor. “I could do that with Merle gone. They had bikes, I didn’t. We heard sirens getting louder. They jumped on their bikes, ran after it, you know, hoping to see something worth seeing.” He paused again to check behind another door. He glanced behind them seeing Oscar following the group as well. “I ran after them, but I couldn’t keep up. I ran around a corner and saw my friends looking at me. Hell, I saw everybody looking at me. Fire trucks everywhere. People from the neighborhood. It was my house they were there for. It was my mom in bed burnt down to nothing. That was the hard part. You know, she was just gone. Erased. Nothing left of her.” His voiced dropped low and neither Carl nor Riley knew if he was talking about his mom or Chelsea in that moment. “People said it was better that way.” He chuckled to himself, shaking his head slightly. “I don’t know. Just made it seem like it wasn’t real, you know?”
Riley stared at the back of Daryl’s head, not knowing what to say. What could anybody say to that? Riley looked over at Carl who had just sighed and watched him open his mouth to speak.
“I shot my mom. She was out. Hadn’t turned yet. I ended it. It was real. Sorry about your mom.”
Daryl stared down at the boy taking in his words. “I’m sorry about yours.”
And with that the four continued on taking out any walkers that were left. A few hours later, they were almost done with their sweep. Daryl rounded a corner, crossbow drawn when Oscar spoke for the first time since they started.
“Oh, that’s what I’m talking about.”
Daryl looked down at the Carl and Riley before doubling back and following Oscar into a cell.
“Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah, buddy.”
Daryl stared confused at the man who had just bent over to pick up a pair of slippers. “What the hell you need slippers for?”
“You know, end of the day, relaxing.”
Daryl smirked and opened his mouth to say something when the growls of a walker appeared too close for comfort.
Daryl, Riley, and Carl spun around and Oscar quickly stood up. Each took aim and shot the walker, sending its lifeless, rotting body to the ground.
“All right,” Daryl exhaled, stepping forward to get a good look at the walker. Every time they came upon a walker, Daryl made sure he got a good look at it to check if it was Chelsea. He prayed to whatever being was out there that his girl hadn’t been forced to become one of those things.
“Must have been in the cell at the end. We checked everywhere else.” Oscar said.
Daryl bent down looked at the nasty thing and noticed something sticking out of his neck. He took a hold of the object and swiftly pulled it out, blood squirting out of the wound, and stared in disbelief at what he held in his hands. “That’s Chelsea’s knife.”
The others stared down at him and the walker. They watched in silence as Daryl cleaned the blood off the knife with the walker’s uniform. He stared hatefully at the thing. He just knew that this was the walker that had taken her down. He stared, contemplating whether he should open the bastard up, but he knew he couldn’t handle seeing her chewed up into a million different pieces in its stomach. And if he couldn’t handle it, then he knew sure as hell that Riley wouldn’t. Daryl felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into the brown eyes of Riley, the same ones as Chelsea. Riley stared down at the older man and shook his head slightly begging him with his eyes that he didn’t, couldn’t see his sister that way. Daryl nodded understandingly and stood up, walking back towards the cell block without another look at the son of a bitch.
The group traveled in silence once again until they were back at the creaking door. Daryl stared at the door before saying, “Go on. I’ll take care of ‘em.”
Oscar nodded and ushered the two boys forward, knowing that Daryl needed to be alone.
Daryl sat down across from the door, playing with Chelsea’s knife as the creaking continued. He jabbed it into the cement continually as he the anger inside of him bubbled. He should have been there for her. He hated himself knowing that he could have saved her if he had helped with the cars. The last conversation they had was about letting Oscar and Axle join their group. He wished he could go back and agree with her instead of just walking away from her.
He jumped up, unable to contain the hatred he felt for himself in that moment. He couldn’t contain the sadness and grief that was swallowing him whole every time he thought of her. He kicked the creaking door and then paced back and forth in front of it breathing heavily. Without another thought he threw the body of a walker away from the door and wrenched it open, knife held him to take down the son of a bitch behind the door. But he stopped when nothing attacked him and looked down, thinking maybe the walker was one that couldn’t walk.
His heart stopped though as he looked down. There in front of him, covered in blood, sweat, and dirt was Chelsea. His Chelsea. The breath caught in his throat. She slowly turned her head and he expected her eyes to be dull and glazed over like a walker’s, but they weren’t. She squinted at the sudden brightness before lifting her head up to stare at him, her brown eyes dull, but still held the light of life in them. He quickly dropped to his knees placing his hands under chin to get a better look at her. From all the blood and dirt he couldn’t tell if she’d been bit or hurt. He stuck the knife in a holster before gently picking her up bridle style. She clung to him with all the strength she had left and smiled. She knew her savior would come, and with that she drifted off into the darkness.