* Edited By: PrintingPisces
Please Read: This is a rewrite of my "Back to Basics" story, which will be deleted for various reasons. I wanted to challenge myself to make it better, and I believe I did just that. The plot will pretty much stay the same, though. There were plenty of changes made. Some big, some little, some subtle, some not even noticeable at all. For those of you who know what happens in the original story, please avoid leaving spoilers in the comments, if you can.
For those of you that have stuck with the original story for this long, me and my editor thank you. We are grateful. Constructive criticism is welcomed. We hope you enjoy this story.
Warnings, Tags, and Genres that follow throughout: Swearing, canon-typical violence, PTSD, mentions of rape, touch issues, action, drama, fluff, romance, angst, canon-divergence, asexual romance, humor
Prologue, Epilogue, Same Damn Thing
Supposedly, the universe always had a plan, a domino effect…Or was that butterfly? Either way, everything happened for a reason.
A routine run. Average herd of corpses. Me bringing up the rear to watch everyone's backs. Nothing would go wrong. Not for them. I made sure of that.
Damn scrap yard, damn rusty gate, damn crumbling concrete.
A hole big enough to fit a bus.
The universe can suck my metaphorical dick.
The corpses tugged and rammed at the gate, their fingers barely touching me from where I was cornered. Chain-link in front of me, red bricks at my back. How was I going to get out of this one?
After gathering from the scrap yard and booking it away from an oncoming herd, the concrete decided to imitate Centralia, opening a large sinkhole. Getting separated from the group sucked, but at least they wouldn't have to deal with the herd. No sweat for me. If I could duck and dodge the streets of Atlanta, then this should be nothing.
I hated feeling like this. Cornered, no control, nowhere to go. At least I could see everything around me, keeping me from completely losing my mind. I'd been trapped plenty of times before.
But not like this.
I thought my head was in the game, that I wasn't going to let that previous fight with that Alexandrian get to me. I didn't want to admit the headspace I was in, and I tried to prioritize. Like I always did.
The fight, the sinkhole, the walkers, the group, my responsibility to all those assholes who didn't give two shits about me.
Fine. Not all of them. But most of them didn't give a shit.
All of these things combined, stacking on top of each other. Like it always did.
I let my head fall back in frustration. I'm only human, I guess.
A corpse snagged my shirt, with snarls so loud I couldn't hear the fabric tear. I didn't react. Not bit or scratched yet. I was too focused on what was up above.
A maintenance ladder a couple feet high. Broken, rusty, but reachable with the right oomph. I turned as tightly as I could to avoid their hands. Jumping wasn't an option. I climbed, one boot on the brick, and the other on the fence to create risky leverage. They tried biting through my steel-toes, but to no avail. The worst they did was occasionally snag my ankle like the clumsy bastards they were. When a bar was within reach, I had to let go of the wall to –
I slid straight down, slamming to the pavement.
Ugh. Having all four limbs would be great right about now.
Beyond the fence, on the other side of the herd that surrounded me, laid my stuff. Backpack, longbow, duffel heavy with looted supplies. I had to abandon all of it. I saw the wall, the gate, the ladder, and knew I would have some climbing to do and didn't want to be weighed down. I could come back for that stuff later. I wanted to make sure the group hadn't run into anymore trouble, and also my boyfriend told me to come back in one piece. That was motivation enough.
I unsheathed my knife and got to work stabbing it through the bars. A fucked up game of whac-a-mole, making me chuckle humorlessly.
With every stab, with every downed corpse, more came in behind them, shoving mercilessly at the gate. They snarled manically. Nothing could be heard over the corpses, not unless the noise was sharp enough.
There was a snap and a clang, and a small metal brace smacked my upper arm. The gate began to bow towards me.
Something shrill pierced the air, akin to a firing crossbow bolt. For a split second, I stopped, hoping I was imagining it.
Another whistle. Longer and louder, and getting closer.
Shit, shit, god no!
My mind raced, and I clenched my mouth shut to avoid the natural reaction of answering back. How long had I been trapped here? He trusted me! He knew I could take care of myself! Why the hell did he get the sudden urge to go look for me?!
I stabbed in a frenzy. I didn't hear his motorcycle, so I didn't know if he could get away from this crowd. He could also take care of himself, but my current situation was dangerous.
At some point, a few corpses turned in his direction. I snarled just as loudly.
I'll be damned if he got killed because of me.
I picked up a handful of concrete and chucked it over the fence. I repeated this until I hit all of them, making them turn back towards me.
"That's right you sons of bitches," I snapped at them. "Eat an animal for a change." My voice dropped, trying to instantly forget what I'd just said.
Besides, I was still swinging. And I didn't intend to stop.
They were whipped up now, banging and tugging harder, snarls deafening. My job was to protect others and to take care of myself. With my back against a wall, that wasn't about to change.
Another brace snapped against my leg. Metal groaned and shrieked against the pressure.
A domino effect of crappy luck, poor timing, and emotions.
I…I wasn't an animal. I was only human, for god's sake!
I keep word, my promises, even to myself. I had a hunch the group was safe due to my diversions. I intended to keep it that way.
These corpses were going to have to work for it.
Even as the fence gave way, even as they shoved it aside…as they grabbed, tore, and shredded my skin layer by layer…I didn't stop swinging that knife. Not for a single second.
It's all bullshit. The universe didn't have a plan.
It had a goddamn sense of humor.