I was tired of moving from place to place, day after day. Not that it mattered. If I stayed put, I’d end up joining the ranks of the undead. Like Barbara. Like Steve. Running along, hunting any living animal to chow down on.
I hated zombies.
I pulled a faded picture out of my back pocket. Daryl. My hero. The man who stood against the dead. With his crossbow, and bolts. The man who taught me how to fight. How to survive. The man who sent me on my mission.
Find the living. Bring them home.
I carefully put Daryl’s picture back in my pocket. “What would Daryl do?” The question kept me alive. “Daryl would load his crossbow.” I loaded mine, holding it ready. In a day or two, I’d replace the string. I knew I had to keep the string strong, and taught. To keep the bow’s power as high as I could. Daryl taught me to keep things tuned up. It made it easier to shoot the dead in their head.
And they only stayed dead if you shot them in the head.
I checked my bolts, making sure their tips were all sharp, their shafts were not cracked. I’d need them soon. When I got to the living. Two of them. Both girls. Everyone always thought it was dumb luck to find people still alive out here among the trees, and canyons. It wasn’t. Daryl taught me that. They were decoys. The undead kept them safe, let them draw more of the living. Almost always stupid men and boys. Then the girls, and all the guys around them would be added to the ranks of the deceased.
I knew better than to go get the girls. “What would Daryl do?” Daryl would scout the area, looking for the dead, shooting them in the head. So, that’s what I did. I remained as hidden as I could, in the trees, and rocks, as I circled the area. Every now and then I stopped, put a bold in my weapon, and let it fly. And another zombie returned to the dead, never to rise again. One at a time, I hunted down the dead. One at a time, I picked them off, and sent them where they refused to go.
Zombies don’t bleed so much. I’d killed enough of them to know that. Blood leaked out, but it didn’t gush. If you show a living in the head, there’d be blood everywhere. Shoot a zombie, and blood just leaks out slowly. “What would Daryl do?” Daryl wouldn’t think about such things. They get in the way of doing the job.
I wasn’t fond of finding small groups of them. I had to reload the crossbow several times, aim several times, and fire several times. And every time I fired, I had to retrieve the bolt. Bolts are not infinite. I couldn’t afford to lose even one.
Shoot, move. Shoot, move. Shoot, move. Gather bolts.
Every now and then I missed. Got one in the neck, or just left a track on the side of its head. That never worked. The injured one always called for support. And others always showed up. Sometimes, I had to get away, hide, and wait until the group broke back down into smaller numbers. Numbers I could take care of.
“Daryl wouldn’t let himself miss. He’d fight the fatigue.” And so I kept it up. Hour after hour. Until I couldn’t find anymore zombies. That’s when I knew it was safe to get the girls. And start the journey to the camp.
“What would Daryl do to the girls when I got them to the camp?” He’d teach them to fight. And they might end up like me. Hunting other living to rescue, and keep alive.
Ruth Long, Lisa McCort Hollar and Sarah Aisling are hosting a blog hop in honor of the TV series, The Walking Dead. Now, I’ve never watched an episode of the show, so I have now idea who Daryl Dixon is. But I’ve heard the show is about zombies, and Daryl’s a hero of sorts. So, I figured I’d join in, and write something for the hop.
Now, go read the other entries in “A Cherokee Rose”, and get ready for The Walking Dead.