“Hershel!” I screamed sprinting across the field towards the old farm house. “Hershel, please!” I cried, my voice growing hoarse. At the sounds of my scream, Hershel and everybody else at the farm came running towards me.
“Chelsea, what’s wrong!?” Rick asked panicked. “Where’s Daryl!?”
I tried to speak, but a rough cough racked through my body. Once I had caught my breath I answered. “He’s coming.” I turned my attention to Hershel, tears streaming down my face as I continued to pant. “Please, Hershel, you have to help me.”
“I will, you just need to tell me what’s wrong,” He said calmly, placing his hands on my shoulders.
Just at that moment, everyone’s eyes were torn away from me as they looked over to the edge of the trees. I knew without looking what they were seeing. “My brother’s dying. Please help him!”
“Oh man,” I heard Shane whisper as Hershel looked down at my tear stained face.
“Patricia, get my kit. Go!” He ordered. Patricia, Maggie, and Beth ran back inside to get everything ready.
“Is he bit?” Hershel asked as Daryl ran up to us, Riley in his arms.
“Not that I can tell. He’s unconscious and has a fever though.” Daryl answered out of breath.
“Come on, we need to get him inside,” Hershel stated and he started jogging back inside with Daryl, myself, and everyone else behind him.
“Do you know what happened?” Hershel asked, motioning Daryl to lay him on a bed.
“No, we just found him like this,” I answered as I watched Hershel check his vitals.
“Hey, you’re not gonna wanna stay in here, ok? We’re gonna need all the space we can get. Go sit in the living room and I’ll come get you if anything changes, ok?” Maggie gently placed her hands on my shoulder and guided me over to the door.
I took one last final look at my brother, before walking into the living room and sitting on the couch.
“Chelsea, what happened?” Glenn asked, coming and sitting beside me. I looked over at him and saw Rick and Shane standing not too far from us.
“Where’s Daryl?” I questioned, ignoring Glenn’s question for the moment.
“He’s cleaning himself off. There was a lot of blood. Now you need to answer Glenn’s question.” Rick spoke coming and crouching down in front of me.
I nodded, sniffled, and wiped the tears that were still coming before I started. “We were out hunting and we made it as far as the highway ya’ll were at. We were pretty much done hunting, but I didn’t feel like coming back to camp so he agreed to stay and I started rummaging through cars. Then we heard a noise.” My voice started cracking as the tears started up again. Glenn rubbed my back reassuringly, letting me know it was ok.
“Holy shit!” I cried. “Riley!”I pushed passed Daryl and delicately placed my hand on his face, wiping a small amount of blood off him.
“CC,” He whispered trying to lift his hand to mine.
I swiftly grabbed it and lightly squeezed it. “I’m here, Riles, I’m here.” A small smile appeared on his dirty face before he fell unconscious and his hand went limp. “Oh my God! Daryl! Do something!” I shouted as I began to hyperventilate. “I can’t lose him!”
Daryl slung his crossbow on his back and came closer to Riley and myself. “He’s still breathin’.” He said watching his chest rise and fall slowly. “But it’s shallow and he’s got a fever.” Daryl turned his head trying to look for any bite marks, but he was covered in too much blood and dirt to tell. “We need ta get ‘im back ta Hershel.” He stated.
I nodded and wiped the tears from my face as Daryl slide Riley out of the SUV. He situated him in his arms before turning his attention back to me.
“Come on, we need ta get back!” I nodded and we both ran off back into the woods, leaving all the food and other items we had managed to find.
I was slightly ahead of Daryl, seeing as I wasn’t being weighed down by Riley’s dead weight. I needed to keep a look out for the both of us. If a walker attacked, Daryl wouldn’t be able to defend himself. It was a while before we were even close to where the trees opened to the fields that surrounded the farm house.
“Go on and get Hershel. I’ll be right behind ya.” Daryl panted.
I quickly glanced back at him and nodded. I began to run faster, faster than I ever had in my entire life. My legs screamed in protest and my lungs burned with every breath I tried to take in. More tears forced their way out of my eyes as I broke through the trees into the field. I could see a few people idly wondering about and began screaming for Hershel.
“So you just found him in a car?” Shane asked.
I nodded, not noticing Daryl had walked into the room and was standing behind the couch.
“He musta heard us and tried ta get our attention. Used up all his energy.” He spoke. I nearly jumped at his gruff voice, but soon relaxed.
Rick just nodded and stood up. He and Shane shared a look before he looked back down at me. “Chelsea, we’re gonna go outside and tell the others what happened, ok?” I nodded and he and Shane soon left.
“I’m going to go out there with them, unless you need me to stay?” Glenn softly asked, as he continued rubbing my back.
“No, you can go.” I said and sent him a small smile. Soon enough it was just me and Daryl left in the living room. I could hear muffled voices and objects being moved from the room that they had taken Riley into. I squeezed my eyes closed trying to block it. “I can’t lose him,” I quietly cried as Daryl took Glenn’s seat beside me. He didn’t say anything and I didn’t expect him to. I doubt he knew how to deal with a crying girl. Another sob racked through my body, and Daryl awkwardly rubbed my back like Glenn had. In that moment I completely lost it and latched myself to Daryl and cried. I buried my face into his chest as he tensed from the unwelcomed action, but I didn’t care. A few minutes passed before he finally relaxed and wrapped his arms around my small body.
We just sat there for I don’t even know how long. Seconds? Minutes? Hours maybe? I just cried while he held me in his strong arms. We didn’t speak; the only sounds were my hysterical crying and the occasional sound from the room. And I was thankful he didn’t speak. He didn’t try to tell me it was going to be ok and he didn’t tell me my baby brother was going to live. Because if he did, and then something happened to Riley… I just can’t afford to get my hopes up.