How the Meaning of “Family” has Changed
Family; noun; a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household. It doesn’t mean that anymore. Family now means a small group of terrified people, going from house to house. We lived in a prison for quite some time until it was overrun by enemies we had made on our journey. I can’t remember the last time we stayed in a home for more than a week. We’ve set up campsites multiple times but they just invade… They. I shouldn’t even call them “they”. Those creatures aren’t people. They don’t deserve any sort of title. They’re repulsive, vile, cannibalistic, undead freaks. I’ve lost too many people to have any sympathy for them.
“Ugh, nasty…” I groaned as I kicked my boot a tad to get the rotten flesh off of the worn leather. “How many of these things do you think are out there, dad?” I queried.
“Hard to tell. The last of the news reports said most every country seemed to have the virus,” my father, Rick, said. He looked gruff and older. His greasy brown hair clung to his forehead and his face was smeared with dirt and blood. I felt intense sorrow. He didn’t deserve to live this way. He’s had it extremely rough since his wife, my mom, Lorie, passed away during child birth. That had happened almost a year ago and we still wake up fueled with adrenaline from the night terrors we both experience. I had to shoot her.
You see, this virus is already planted inside of us. If you get bitten by one of the, what we call, walkers, you will turn within a matter of hours. But no matter how you die, you still turn. A friend in our now separated group was shot and he turned into a walker immediately. Since Lorie died during birth, I had to put her down. We couldn’t just let her turn into one of those things. We don’t know where the baby, Judith, went; our group was pulled apart by enemies from a town called Woodbury. We don’t know how took her or where they went, so we’ve been trying to find civilization for days now.
“Watch out dad!” I screeched as I bounded forward to slam my makeshift shiv into the creature’s soft, fleshy skull. Down it went onto its knees, the blackened blood seeping from the wound. You have to kill their brains or else they won’t die.
“I… Sorry…” he whispered as he walked ahead, his body tense. I could tell he was thinking about his wife. My mother was beautiful. She had long, flowing brown locks of hair, and her brown eyes glimmered like she always had some sort of secret happiness in them. Despite the times, she was always optimistic. Even when shooting walkers in the skull, she kept a smile on her face. I hope she is still smiling wherever she is now.
About three hours later, dusk fell upon us. The twilight wrapped itself around the once blue sky and cradled us in orange and black lights. It was hard to see without a flashlight, but I could’ve sworn I saw a sign.
“Hey, dad, look!” I whispered, trying not to draw attention. I sneaked my way to the train operator booth and squinted into the increasing darkness…
SANCTURARY FOR ALL
COMMUNITY FOR ALL
THOSE WHO ARRIVE SURVIVE
“Do you think they could be there?!” I squealed quietly, overwhelmed with excitement. I looked over to my father to see his face, still stoic.
“Maybe,” he said gruffly and looked at the map underneath it. “Terminus. That’s not too far from here, but we better start a camp before heading on out. We need rest.”
“Alright,” I agreed and opened up the train operator booth. Everything was rusty and it smelled stale. A rat scurried out and I stepped on its tail before killing it. I stared at the blood pouring out of its tiny skull and sighed. It’s the first time I’ve seen regular blood in a long time.
“We need to cook that. Here, you set up a sleeping area inside that booth and I’ll get a fire going out here,” dad said to me. I could tell he was weak and ready to devour whatever he could. I unpacked my campers backpack and pulled out the two blankets we scavenged from a nearby town. After unrolling them, I laid them down on the hard, metal floor. There was a chair which would be good for blocking the door in case walkers stumbled upon us.
“It’s ready,” my dad said, nearly putting me in cardiac arrest. It was quiet at night except for the occasional groan or hiss of a walker, so I didn’t expect to hear any noise. I nodded at him and took out some paper plates and sat them on the desk.
“I hope we can find some more food tomorrow…” I whispered as he put the rodent onto the plates.
“We will,” he replied, and ravenously bit down into the cooked flesh. I didn’t feel hungry. I was saddened.
“Here, dad. You need it more than I do,” I whispered in the dark and he didn’t even protest as he took it and munched on the pink and brown meat. After he was done, we threw the plates out onto the rocks outside and pressed the chair up against the door.
“Get some sleep.” He told me. I lay down on the soft blanket and turned on my side, facing the wall. It wasn’t too hard getting to sleep. We had a rough day.
When we awoke, it was pleasant to hear birds chirping. I almost thought I was back in my own bed, about to be told to get up to go to school. Almost. My dad had packed up most of our things and I helped pack up the rest. Heading out, we noticed a flurry of walkers approaching the railroad tracks. We couldn’t sneak past them. My dad motioned for me to take the right side of the hoard and he would take the left. As soon as we came within ten feet of the disgusting creatures, they sensed us and snarled at our presence. They were slow so they weren’t hard to kill; the only thing to worry about was getting encircled by them. I slammed my shiv down into the skull of a woman who seemed to be in her late forties. Again and again, I stabbed my bloody knife into the skulls of these demons who haunt my dreams. All of a sudden, I feel a tug at my pants and I yelp as I hear teeth clamping down onto my pants. No pain, so I was good for now.
A gunshot rung in my ear, and I became disoriented. I fell to the ground and clenched my head with my bloodied palms. We haven’t used our guns in months, so the sound was almost unbearable in my ears. I didn’t realize it then, but I was sobbing. Uncontrollably.
“Shhhhh…” my father whispered in my ear, his weak arms holding me as tight as they could manage. His fingers ran through my disgusting hazelnut locks of hair and I couldn’t stop crying. I wished it was different. I cursed God for letting the world get so bad.
After calming down, we made our way north towards Terminus, the place where we hoped to find the others. It was a few miles before we saw an even larger sign.
SANTUARARY FOR ALL
COMMUNITY FOR ALL
THOSE WHO ARRIVE SURVIVE
ONE MORE MILE
I almost screamed with joy but I covered my mouth, containing my excitement. I tried to almost started start running but my weak bones inside me protested against it. About forty-five minutes later we came upon what looked like an abandoned railroad yard. Written in bold, bright red letters near the rooftop, it read “Terminus”. We ran inside, and searched around frantically for our group. We were stopped by two gentlemen.
“Welcome to Terminus,” the older one said. He must have been at least thirty years old. He had dirty blonde hair that seemed way too clean for the world we live in now. He had stubble that looked neatly shaved and looked almost professionally done.
“We’ll need to pat you down first, so if you could put your weapons on the ground, that would be great” said the other. Appearing to be around twenty, the younger man looked like he could be the brother. I wouldn’t doubt it. His features were the same except he had sparkling, hazel eyes.
We were reluctant at first to separate ourselves from our weapons but what could we do? We had no choice. They patted us down and finally gave back our weapons. I felt at home with my shiv in my dagger pocket on my thigh. It made me feel safe.
“We’ll show you around.”
As the four of us walked, the two males introduced themselves as Gareth and Alex. They showed us the inside of the building and they did have running hot water! I was surprised to hear that but I knew I didn’t want to leave. They told us that they were brothers, and their mother ran most of the operations around the place. Her name was Mary and we finally met her when we were shown the food area.
My eyes darted around. Something looked eerily familiar. All of a sudden, I turn around, and pull out my gun, directing it towards Gareth.
“Where did you get that shawl? That military gear? That watch?!” My father yelled, holding his own knife up against the throat of Alex, who he grabbed as a human shield from possible gunfire.
“We found those while we were out looking for supplies,” Gareth replied, almost too calmly.
“Bullshit you did!” my father growled, spit flying from his mouth from the intensity of his words. Bullets started hailing towards our feet and we began running, shooting at random when looking behind us, trying to get a few targets down. My dad screamed out and I looked where he was staring as he was running. It was my sister! She was being held as by some a random woman running into the building.
“Dad we’ve got to go!” I yelled over the hail of gunfire. There was nothing we could do. We ran and ran then suddenly came upon a fence and stopped short. The sights of thirteen snipers were trained directly at us.
“Put the guns down,” Gareth called, holding an M-16 which was pointed towards my father’s head. “Get in the train car.”
“We just want to know what happened to our people!” I yelled, trying to reason with them.
“Shut up and get in the car!” The man said and fired a warning shot at the ground near our feet. We dropped our weapons and headed to big box of steel. It was almost like we were digging our own graves. The enemies opened the door and we entered and the door slammed behind us. I almost started sobbing again, but I had to stay strong for my dad.
“Rick?” a soft voice said.
“Oh my God, Beth!” My dad yelped and hugged her tightly. She was a young woman we met on our travels.
“We’re all here, Rick.” A gruff voice said. It was Daryl’s. “Me, Beth, Maggie, Glenn, Michonne, Sasha, and Bob. Along with some newcomers.”
“Yep, we all got sucked into this mess as well,” a female voice said calmly. We were introduced to Rosita, Tara, Abraham, and Eugene. Apparently, they had some big plan to go to Washington to save the world.
Our… “family” was reunited but not in a good way. The four new people would be in our group as long as they didn’t betray us like some others had done. Suddenly after the awkward silence, I heard my father speak.
“They’re messing with the wrong family.”
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