After Dusk Comes Night

Glenn and Beth attempt to circle back around to regroup with Hershel, Axel, and baby Judith as they've all been run from the prison.

The Dark, Black Forest

"Stay with me. C'mon. I need you to stay with me. Please."

Mugginess clings to the cluttered arena of trees like a tangible fog; it's in the mind too, clogging the pores of thought that might uplift the weary Glenn and his companion, Beth, and making everything seem heavier. They've lost the prison — they've lost the child and father, and everything. Clinging to herself with both hands, crossed tightly over her chest, Beth walks in a funereal silence beside Glenn, her hair stuck to her head with humidity and perspiration even as the chill of the night sets in and visibility sinks into shadows behind every darkness. After running blindly from the broken prison entrance — one they hadn't scouted earlier — they need anything familiar to get their bearings, but night doesn't aid in that endeavor, and neither does the lumbering walker in beaten overalls staggering back and forth several feet in front of their way like he's overburdened with thought and needs to pace the pace of the dead and hungry.

The hilt of Glenn's shotgun is thrust towards the ambling walker's head as hard as he can, groaning as the blunt end of the object is swung. Of course one hit isn't enough. Which is why the biter is hit again. And again. And again. Angry blows follow in quick succession as flesh breaks and bloody brains seep out. Not that its enough. It'll never be enough. He's been uncharacteristically quiet since they evacuated the prison. Hours without the rest of the crew and he has lost pretty much everything. As if he hadn't felt inadequate enough. His lips press tightly together as he casts Beth a quick glance.

Beth stands there, miserable. She's tried to be strong — she has been strong — but the dirt of her face betrays at least one tear's path along her cheek and her wide overly expressive eyes scream her guilt as she watches him, trust him. A second later, she looks around to scan the area, respecting the guard that's been drilled into her since they struck out on the road; no longer coddled. Her hand parts from her arm just long enough to try and push some of her blonde hair aside but, catching her fingers at shaking, she quickly shoves them back up inside her armpit.

One final blow to the corpse, and Glenn slides away. The shotgun is repositioned after it's slid along the dirt to clean the hilt as best he can. He'd rather not have his fingers tangled up with rotting flesh. His anger has been appeased for a moment. His head turns back to Beth as his eyes seek out in the darkness something anything that looks familiar. He swallows hard and then offers, "We should find a car." His lips press together. The chance of finding fuel at this moment is slim. "It would offer shelter at the very least," he tacks on to clarify.

A numb nod, "Okay." It's possible Beth would've agreed to nearly anything he said but then she side-steps, glancing to their right with a squint to fight the gathering darkness. "We'd need to… head towards the road 'stead of circlin'. I guess… I mean," a swallow and she looks at him with needed steadiness, "My dad. He'll do that, too. That's what we do. Go to the highway." When we lose people. Beth wasn't there for the last one; she was unwittingly harboring the last fugitive, but she's heard the tales.

Glenn stares into the distance, causing his features to become somewhat vacant as he replies, "Yeah." His gaze turns back towards Beth, "I think that's probably our best idea so far." He emits a sigh as his eyes flit around the room once more. "We'll meet up," the words don't sound convinced. He's already thought of all the options. They could head towards Woodbury, or Greene farm, but they'd left these places for reason enough. It's just a question of where they will have the greatest chance of finding each other.

They squabble lightly over directions a few moments and then head out at the same mourning pace, devoid of the hurry of hope except for Glenn's determined need for there to be something better. After a range of silence, and the stray walker she clubbed, Beth rubs her now dirtier hands up and down her arms in the new chill, stating carefully: "Before." The guilt wanders up and down her few syllables, establishing a timeline: when she dragged him away — when she made him leave Carl, "You… didn't want me to see something."

The comment is met with silence as Glenn's pace quickens. Giving it a voice will only make the reality that much more painful. "Yeah," he replies vaguely as his eyebrows draw tighter together. He wants to repeat the word, but doesn't. "Not worth knowing," he says with an air of dismissal. He wants to unknow.

"I don't…" A stop and start; a shift of her arms and of her tone, lowered but firm, "think that's true." She shoots him a sidelong glance, nervous yet unable to press him further.

His jaw tenses as his eyes focus as far ahead as they can manage in the light. Glenn squints while his jaw tightens before he stops in his tracks. "Your dad, Judith, and Axel got out," there's still a confidence that remains behind those words. He's sure of it. Somehow the one legged old man is out there with a baby. It's not ideal, but it is what it is. "Carl— " he actually can feel his stomach wretch, the bile within it comes up and prompts him to turn away, taking a step back towards a tree as the contents of his stomach (which amounts to stomach juices) leave his body. His hand presses against the tree, and he wipes his mouth on his arm as if wiping it on a none-existent sleeve. The dirt and grime present on his skin scratch against his cracked lips. But he doesn't complain. Instead he croaks, "It was a person." And then, awkwardly, he straightens, takes off his cap as some symbol of respect, and offers while blanching again, "I think," it softens the blow if it's not fact, "they eat people."

Taken aback, then forward with concern at Glenn's hacking, Beth's hovering oddly behind him when he turns to deliver this sobering truth — no: thought. It's just a… it's a. Numb lack of comprehension crosses her young, dirtied face first, attempting to shield her from processing the image; trauma, stuck in some nerve somewhere, firing at her the wall of her brain until, with a snap and swallow, she urks rather sickly herself. "Carl," she murmurs and the sound of his name worsens the effect; she goes ghostly and then red all in the cheeks, hot and full of fever. "I…" Blinks come fast and furious. "That can't be— I— I made you leave. I— " From trembling, she begins to grow very, very, dangerously still.

Right. He really shouldn't have told her. Glenn didn't want to say it. He didn't want to make it real. And then Beth's reaction tells him one thing: Man up. Even if it's not the intention. He turns towards and takes a swift step, closing the distance between them, and he reaches out to squeeze both of her shoulders, "Beth. Beth. Beth." He tries to catch her gaze. "Stay with me. C'mon. I need you to stay with me. Please." He clears his throat. "You didn't do this. You aren't responsible for this— " He is. "You were right. None of us would've made it out alive without a good plan. We need… we need to regroup," to find some semblance of safety for the blonde girl, "and then help Carl," or, at least, Glenn will help Carl. Or die in the process. The latter certainly seems more likely.

His voice cracks though as his gaze shifts, "I told him we don't leave people behind." And irony of all ironies it would turn out to be the day he left a kid behind. "And we won't."

Her gaze finds his shakily at best, happenstance between squeezes as if he were rattling her around inside and she, only by luck, lands on him in the travel. It takes his entire speech for Beth's eyes to focus and her arms to shudder beneath his grip; she tightens, rebelliously, "We lost— everyone," she gasps, veering so threateningly into despair after months of acclimating to her sweet optimism. It's been too sudden, too disastrous; they're too alone.

Glenn's jaw tightens as his stance follows hers. His eyes narrow, and he whispers, "No we didn't." Some chose to leave. They had been crippled without the others; left without an entire leg of their crew. And then, he shakes his head, "We didn't lose everyone." His gaze shifts behind Beth, back to the horizon, back to his constant vigilance. He should've been more vigilant in the prison. He should've been more together. "We just need to figure out where everyone else will go," when they find out the prison has been overrun by cannibals.

"And we need to regroup," quickly. To help Carl.

A soft, uncertain moan from Beth is echoed behind her from the shambling wreck Glenn's vigilance picks up climbing its way with single-minded dedication towards them from up the hill.

Only now are Beth's shoulders released. "Stay alert," he warns, mostly because he doesn't want to truly lose everyone. The shotgun is turned in his grasp. He wants to shoot this one. He wants the satisfaction of seeing its brains fly out of the back of its head. But he can't bring himself to do it. There's always the fear of attracting more that factors so prominently into his decision. He aims the hilt once more. If he has to, he'll club this sucker just like the last. With that same level of aggression, he slams the back end of his weapon against the walker's head.

"Unnngggh— " it complains in whatever's left of a human voice, skull cracking but, besides reeling backwards by the sheer force, the urge remains unaffected and it lurches in towards Glenn—

Brain matter radiates like a cherry bomb, exploded out from an already broken skull, now popping like an overly ripe fruit with the force that Beth brings down the rock. Human remains burst in faded dusky colors against her baby cheeks as she slams— and again— and then once more just to make sure; the head now fully open before the body crumbles, noticing its lost its will to even shamble.

Backing up a couple of paces to regain her balance after the hits, the little blonde girl with the round face rubs the back of her hand over each cheek to clear bits of walker from her shiny skin then turns, jaw a tight construct that firms the press of her already determined lips. She looks at Glenn, nodding briskly. Okay. "Freeway."

Beth receives a nod in thanks: a silent thank you that acknowledges her efforts. "Right," he agrees as his eyes scan where they are. The dark doesn't help things. Direction could be challenging. He points, "We can from over there." He sucks on the inside of his cheek. "Think it's this way?" And then he comments, "Freeways were easier to find when they had traffic."

"I think… up the hill?" A confidence that slides up the scale to question at the end as she takes a few steps that way to look. "But…" rubbing her face a second time, with less enthusiasm, "I did less movin' around here than ya'lls did. You know, when I did get around… before… Tucker boys always drove me." Just a soft glimpse of the girl beneath, bumming rides off men who found her cute: things a teenager like Beth should be able to enjoy. Not… this.

Despite himself, and the situation, Glenn actually feels his lips edge upwards just a stitch. "Fair enough," he replies as he clears his throat, diminishing whatever shadow of a smile had existed. "I think you're right though. About the freeway." He falls into step with her, his vigilance continuing with every shift. His eyes turn downwards, "I'm sorry." Two simple words.

"Yeah." She murmurs after a bit, picking up the hill beside him, no longer trailing slightly behind. But the rest of that sentence — her own apologies — fall to the wayside of a quiet, "We'll say it to everyone when we find them."

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License