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"Auntie Jenna! Can I come in yet? Please! Last night was really boring. I'm hungry too! Please let me in!" Mary cried to the door, sat on the door step, sobbing. Then she went still. "Auntie Jenna? There's a strange man!" She hissed suddenly, but she has been spotted anyway, and the man jogged over to her.
"Little girl? Sweetie, I'm a Sheriff. Why are you sat here all alone?" He asked with a gentle voice, slowly crouching down to be on Mary's eye level. She considered talking, then just nodded. "Is your mommy here? Your daddy?" He asked.
Mary shook her head again, and began to cry.
"Don't cry. It's okay, it's safe now. Where are your parents?"
"Monsters." Mary whispered through her tears, and the sheriff's heart dropped.
"Okay. Alright. I'm going to go inside, and ask the people here if I can borrow some gas for my car. I can take you with me, okay?" He soothed. Mary nodded, and she got up and moved away from the door. "Okay. Stay here." He smiled.
When he came out of the farm house, he wasn't smiling.
"Okay. They aren't in. But they... Left a note. Yeah. They left a note saying we can borrow anything we need."
"They are," Mary whispered fearfully, "I heard them inside. I heard their little boy. It's my mommy's best friend. And her family."
"Okay. The truth is, she's sick. Okay? And you can't see her because you might get sick too. But she told us to go somewhere safe. Okay?"
Mary nodded slowly, and wiped a tear away. "The car isn't here. But we can take the horse." Mary mumbled, and the sheriff beamed down at her.
"Great. Okay. Here, eat this, and wait here while I get the horse." He smiled softly, passing the tiny girl a cereal bar. Mary nodded, and once the sheriff had gone, she sat and at the snack quickly, feeling sick soon after. She hadn't eaten in at least two days - although in her mind, it could have been more, it could have been less.
A few minutes later, the sheriff came back to her, this time a large chestnut horse by his side. "Okay. I'll put you up first, then me, okay?" He asked gently, but Mary shook her head quickly, her eyes full of panic. "It's okay. I'll be right after you." He assured, then lifted her up. A few seconds later, he was sat on the saddle behind the child.
"Hold on to the front of the saddle, yeah? It's okay, I won't let you fall."
"Helmet." Mary whispered shakily, and the sheriff smiled back at her.
"Oh yes. Safety first. Here, this hat will help." He grinned, taking off his sheriff hat, and placing it on her head, it being to big, but letting her turn to him and smile for the first time.
"Thank you." She smiled slightly.
"What's your name, sweetie?"
"Mary. Where are we going?"
"Mary. Well, Mary, my name is Rick Grimes. And we're going to Atlanta, to find my wife and son."

"We'll Stay here for the night, okay? It's not far away, but it's getting dark. And you're tired." Rick explained as he got off the horse, then lifted Mary down. They had found an abandoned barn, and Rick opened the unlocked door to see it had two horse stalls inside, and bales of hay. Rick put the horse in one stall, and then untacked the horse.
"Why don't you have a look around, seeetie? Have a look for any food." Ruck suggested, and Mary nodded. As she did, Rick shut the doors, and moved everything he could in front of the door: bales of hay, a wheelbarrow, a box of tools.
"You found anything?"
"This." Mary whispered, running over, and passing him a bottle of coke, a packet of cookies, and a pack of chocolate coated raisins.
"Well done!" Rick smiled, ruffling her head over the sheriff hat she still had on.
"Where to now?" Mary asked quietly.
"The refugee camp. I'm looking for my little boy, Carl, and my wife."
"Yeah. He's twelve, and the sweetest little boy ever. Dark brown hair, just like you, but with blue eyes. He's sweet and funny and really smart, and he loves comics." Ruck smield soflty. Then he looked at Mary's sad little face. "Do you have a brother? Or a sister?"
"John. And Adam." Mary whispered sadly.
"Are they with mommy and daddy now?"
"Yes. Not John. He was very big, at college. I think he's a monster now. They said the big city had fallen. What's fallen?"
"There's... A lot of monster there."
"Oh." Mary whispered shakily.
"Hey. If he's alive, if he's okay, I'll find him. Okay?"
"Okay." The little girl whispered. Rick looked at her with sympathy, and saw how tiny she actually was. Her tiny body was a mixture of tan, sunburn, and freckles, and she was wearing a pair of dungaree shorts, and a pastel pink tee-shirt. She would have been adorable, except for the blood splatters on her shirt, hands, and face, and her messy hair, and torn and filthy nails. Her face was covered in freckles and mud and blood, the only clean part where her tears had flown.
"Why don't you get one of the horse tail brushes? And I'll brush your hair for you." Rick smiled gently. Mary nodded, and ran away to fetch a brush. She came back with it, and sat cross legged in front of him. Carefully, Rick eased out the hairband holding her hair in a very messy plait, then sliding out the lime green bandana that she had rolled up as a headband. As Rick brushed through the hair Mary squirmed, but eventually Ruck finished brushing it.
"There. Now, wash your face in that bucket of water, and let's go to sleep, yeah? Wake up early tomorrow."
Mary nodded, and washed her face. Then she laid down on the hard floor and closed her eyes. She was still, for a most twenty minutes, then sat up.
"What's wrong?"
"I can't sleep. I don't have my bunny."
"What's your bunny? A teddy?"
"Okay. What will help you sleep?"
"Mommy used to sing. Or talk to me."
"Okay. What's do you want to talk about?"
"I don't know."
"How old are you, Mary?"
"Four. God, what are four year old girls into? I don't think I've ever spent time with any little girls, really. What do you like to do?"
Rick laughed. "Play. Very descriptive."
"Hide and seek. I'm good at hiding."
"Good. That's a good thing to be good at."
"Can you sing to me?"
"Will it get you to sleep?"
"Okay," Rick sighed with a smile, "sorry though, I'm a bad singer. I used to sing this one to my Carl. Only kiddy song I really know. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take, my sunshine, away."" Rick sang, slightly off key, but it did the trick, as once he had done, Mary's eyes were shut. Rick didn't think she was asleep, but she was almost there.
Rick let her fall asleep leaning against him, and eventually, he got a few hours sleep.

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