I woke up to the curses of Merle. I looked around and realised I was in front of him on his bike, held up by his arms. On the other side of the road, cars were queuing to get into Atlanta. I tried to turn to Merle.
"Pops? Are we going home?" My voice shook as fresh tears filled my eyes.
Merle looked at me quickly before pulling the bike to a stop. I jumped off the bike, pacing back and forth, needing to know what was happening.
Merle stood from the bike and walked over to me speaking in a soft, low voice, something he never did.
"Sweet cheeks, the radio said our town is crawlin' with these fuckers. We have to find a way to survive on our own until ma baby brother finds us." I started to struggle as he put his hands on my shoulders. I punched him, though I knew it would do no good, finally collapsing into his chest and screaming into his shirt.
After several minutes, I had settled enough to listen to his plan and we hid the bike behind the trees, after disabling it, and set off into the woods. We had made a version of a camp with a fire and a bed made of leaves. Merle had disappeared deeper into the trees for around an hour, promising to always keep me in his sight, bringing back 3 squirrels and fresh water from a nearby stream.
That night we watched as Atlanta was attacked by several bombs. A tear slid down my cheek as I thought of Daryl and Millie potentially being there.
We decided to take it in turns to sleep whilst the other watched for the dead. This was our life now.
It was the third week of living in the forest and I couldn't sleep. For the last 8 months before the end of the world, I had shared a bed with my boyfriend, Daryl. It took a while for me to share a bed with him due to my past, but since that first night, we had been inseparable.
I rolled on the bed of leaves to face Merle.
"Do you think Daryl and Millie really made it out?"
"Yeah darlin', course I do" grumbled Merle, "Ma brother is a fuckin' survivor, and he loves his girl too much to let anything happen to her." He pulled me into hug as he tried his best to calm us both down.
"Can we go looking for them again tomorrow? Please Merle, I need to do something." After a silent pause, he agreed we could wander through the woods on the other side of the road to head back to our town.
The next morning, we packed up our gear and the rest of the meat before looking out on the road. We carefully crossed over and rushed into the woods to start looking for Daryl.
Three weeks later, I lay awake in my tent with my little girl cuddling me with her polar bear in between us.
I then heard a commotion outside had woke me up. I looked at my daughter who was still sound asleep before slipping some shoes on and heading outside.
The group had two people face down on the floor, shouting at them asking why they were here.
"Someone get Shane, he can decide what we do," shouted T-Dog. I walked a little closer.
"Shane's off in the woods again"
"What's going on?" I whispered to Glenn who was standing back from the group. He shrugged as an answer.
"What shall we do" asked Andrea.
"Why don't you go and sort this out?" asked Glenn "I'll keep an eye on Millie for you," I nodded, before moving closer to the strangers. I got everyone's attention before I addressed the new people.
"For us to trust ya, we need to know your name sweetheart," I said to the girl knowing I was more likely to get an answer from her that the taller man she was with.
"Well shit baby brother" said the voice of the male; I looked at him as he continued "you don't even recognise your own girl."
I started at him in shock. "Merle?" He nodded in confirmation. I looked at the girl again. "Brooke?" The name barely slipped past my lips before she was hugging me tightly sobbing into my shoulder.