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Snippet #2571845

located in Season 2, a part of The Walking Dead: Online, one of the many universes on RPG.

Season 2

"One Day"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sarah Hawke (NPC) Character Portrait: Ezrael de Lorian Character Portrait: Ashley Valentino (NPC) Character Portrait: Gustav Schmidt (NPC) Character Portrait: Brooke Callaway (NPC) Character Portrait: Harold St. James (NPC) Character Portrait: Ari Dinkowitz (NPC) Character Portrait: Boondock Brannigan (NPC)
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.: Epilogue :.

The Second Bus


"We're all dead," Ezrael muttered, quite solemnly. Sweat dripped forth from his hairline as he tightly clutched a book to his chest with white knuckles. His wide eyes looked around the eerily darkened church they had taken refuge in.

"Enough with the monologues, professor!" Ashley barked over at the man. "Make yourself useful and help Gus with the door." A pregnant woman's arms draped loosely over her shoulders and those of the grizzled old mailman with peppered-gray hair, Harold. Luckily, he still had some stamina left-- even in his sixties. They gently set the woman down on one of the church pews as she cradled her arms over her belly. Nearly 7 months, and feeling every day of it.

"How we holdin' up, Brooke?" Ashley asked as she rushed over to a side table covered in religious ornaments and candles and cleared them to the floor. She ripped the shawl from underneath them all and balled it up to place behind Brooke's back for support. The metal trinkets clattered to the floor noisily, alerting the two men near the back of the church-- who both whipped their heads in her direction. One of the shorter ones, a Jewish lawyer with an even more Jewish sounding name shushed them-- raising a finger to his lips.

"We don't know if this place is clear yet," he warned, edging around the pillars down the aisle with his bat in hand. The bright red rug beneath his feet was tossed and torn, jetting unevenly between the benches towards the front precipice. Behind him, a much younger man in a brown duster followed closely-- clutching his crowbar and flashlight tightly as he kept his eye on the creeping shadows.

Gus and Ezrael pulled a large metal mantlepiece over to the large oak doors covering the front and jammed the candleholder through the handles of the door-- barring it shut. They regathered their belongings from the floor and dusted themselves off, returning to the others huddled around the pregnant woman. "How is she?" Gustav asked between heavy breaths.

Brooke waved them off. "I'm fine... really. I just haven't moved that fast in awhile," she said with a smirk. Ashley chewed on her lip, pushing back up off the ground and brushing the dirt off her hands. She drew her flashlight from her hip and clicked it on, pointing towards one of the adjoining rooms. Gustav followed hers with his own beam until they both met, revealing a staircase across the way.

"That'll probably get us where we need to go," Ashley announced, turning back to the others. Gustav nodded to her and unsheathed his knife, gripping it in his hand.

"Let us make way then," Gustav chimed in, his voice thick with a German accent. "Time is of the essence."

Ashley unzipped her jacket and drew her pistol, moving towards the foyer with Gus in tow. She stopped to look back over her shoulder at the others. "Stay with her until we get back, OK? Keep an eye on the front door and shout if you need us. We'll be quick." Harry nodded, as Ezrael fidgeted by his side-- nervously adjusting his glasses. She turned back to Gus as they parted ways, heading for the stairs. "You got the binoculars?"

Gus opened his jacket, showing the lenses of a black pair peaking out from his inside pocket. They reached the first of the thin wooden steps leading upwards and halted. Gus waved his arm forwards, grandly. "I believe the American saying is: 'the first lady?' -- is it not?" he asked, wryly.

Ashley squinted her eyes at him and took the lead, ascending the first few steps at a brisk pace. The winding staircase wound clear around the stone walls several times before plateauing at a large wooden landing. Ashley aimed her light at the bottom of the fixture, illuminating the dangling cord of the tower's bell.

Their destination... and salvation.

"We took too long getting here... that goddamned ash," Gustav lamented, his light bobbling around with each step.

"We took as long as we needed to," Ashley barked back. "And the others--"

"There was no point leaving them behind. It isn't safe out there..."

"Somebody had to stay with the bus. In case they came back," Ashley replied. It wasn't untrue. If the Capitols doubled back and found the bus empty-- they'd likely assume the worst.

Gustav laughed, wearily. "I still don't understand why you'd just leave three behind. What if they get into trouble? Hell-- one of them doesn't even speak English."

Ashley, stopped and pivoted on her heel-- shining her light directly into Gus' face. He brought his hand up to shield his eyes, his fingertips poking out of the frayed holes of his gloves. "Duke's a mechanic. He can work on getting the bus running while we're here. And Claire and Espi are two of the only people who seem to understand one another... so it made sense to keep them together. Espi knows engines too. They can handle themselves, Gus... can you handle that?"

"I'm sorry--" he sputtered. "I just don't see the point of splitting us up like this. Not when we already have the odds against us."

Ashley shook her head, biting her lip. "I can't have you questioning me every step of the way. We made a plan and we're sticking to it. You had your chance to object back at the bus. I didn't hear anybody speak up then."

"Cause they're scared of you, Val..." She tensed up a bit at his admission. Valentino was her last name, etched in black stitching on her officer's uniform and accompanying jacket. Lately, nobody called her Ashley anymore... or even Ash. It was as if they were seeing her less as a person and more as the law as days went by. Nothing she would have wished for had she been given a choice. But some things were simply out of her control. If she had to be bad cop, then the least she could do was play the part well.

"Then they won't let their guard down," she reasoned, turning back up the steps. "Let's get moving. They're waiting on us." Gustav slowly followed, sighing under his breath.


* * *


The lawyer, Ari, brushed his fingers across several draped beads and rosaries near one of the tables by the pillars, briefly noticing the candles burning brightly in various spots of the room. He turned back to Boone, the kid in the duster, and waved his flashlight in his direction. The kid weaved between the pillars to come join him.

"You notice these candles?" Ari asked, gesturing around them.

"What about 'em?" Boone replied, his eyes darting around at the specks of light.

"They're fresh..." Ari continued, pointing out the obvious. The candlesticks were indeed nearly all full, with only the faintest traces of wax on their exteriors. The two shared the same thought in that very instant. "Someone must have just been here." Boone nodded, looking around the church at the areas still left unexplored. The feeling was a bit too unsettling.

Boone adjusted the straps of the backpack slung on his back. "I'll go check that corner over there if you wanna--"

"M-Maybe given the most recent development, we should stick together?" Ari cut in, trying to mask the nervousness in his voice. Boone silently agreed and gestured for the man to follow him, which he did-- albeit a bit reluctantly. The two sleuthed their way back through the pillars and across the aisle right in front of the front dais. They could barely make out the low register of Harry's booming voice talking to Brooke from afar, attempting to keep her calm while Ezrael paced mindlessly in the distance by the front doors, biting his nails.

Ari turned his attention back to the matter at hand-- as his foot caught something on the ground and he spilled forwards onto his hands and knees. His flashlight clattered against the ground, sliding under one of the nearby pews. Boone spun around, illuminating the ground and revealing the source of Ari's predicament. A blood-stained duffle bag, bursting at the seams laid right in his path-- its strap still tangled around his shoe. He shook his leg free, righting himself and wiping his bloodied hands on his pants. "Christ! Fucking filthy floor," Ari cursed aloud.

Boone stepped forward, focusing the light on the bag, whose zipper hung half open to expose its contents. His eyes bulged as he realized what he was looking at. "Holy shit," he muttered, ironically right under a statue of the Lord and savior himself. The bag was full of weapons and ammo clips... boxes and cans of food... bandages. It was Christmas come early. "Are you seein' this, man?" he asked excitedly. Ari came up beside him to gaze down at the treasure trove of supplies buried inside the bag. But his eyes lingered on the bloodstains covering its fabric, the trail leading off onto the stone floor towards their feet. He used his own flashlight to follow the streaks behind them towards the corner they were headed in. Hung tapestries dangled from the ceiling just over their heads, a distraction from the growing amount of crimson blood pooled on the floor. "What the hell happened here...?" Boone asked, quietly-- afraid he was about to have his answer. They widened their steps as they approached the corner alcove, circling the thick pool of blood that now lied between them.

*DONG*

Ari and Boone whipped their heads upwards at the dull, hollow sound of the church bell tolling from above. "Guess that means they found it," Ari said, a bit of relief creeping into his voice at the small victory.

*DONG*

The second one seemed louder, as if the bell were gaining some sort of momentum. Both men continued to edge forwards, flashlights searching each dark crevice and corner they passed... until they turned the corner and both beams came to rest at the same location.

A confessional booth sat dormant at the end of the hall, a circular and undisturbed pool of blood resting beneath its wooden confines. The doors were closed-- the booth itself appearing unmolested.

*DONG*

Boone crept closer, readying his crowbar in case the worst possible scenario decided to present itself. As he drew nearer, a steady drip could be heard somewhere-- liquid on liquid. The hairs on his arms and neck stiffened, as Ari hung a short ways back-- as was his cowardly way. Boone had come close enough now that he was forced to wade through the red tide at his feet. His worn shoes sent ripples across the resting body of liquid as he eased towards the booth step-by-step, holding his breath. The drip-- louder now. The bell...

*DONG*

...louder now. A mere feet away, Boone stopped-- reaching his crowbar out towards the door of the booth. He hooked the tip through the handle of the door and slowly pulled it open, unveiling a horrible sight...

A preacher, in his black garb with white trim -- soaked in the stark redness of his own blood -- was crumpled in one corner, a blade sheathed deeply into the socket of his eye... his bearded jaw hung open in surprise. Opposite of him in the other corner stirred the blood-spattered body of a young girl, her clothing torn-- cradling the matted fur of a golden-haired dog as it huddled beside her in a pool of thick blood. They both shivered fiercely... some combination of the shock and coldness of the night. The girl's bare shoulder bore the distinct marks and scarring of sharp incisors-- the bite readily apparent, even in the dim light. Boone knew in an instant that it wasn't from the dog... her obvious companion. She looked up at him with bleary, reddened eyes-- too exhausted to speak.

*DONG*

They had been right after all. They weren't alone.

But as for Sarah-- she had never felt more so...


.: END OF SEASON 2 :.

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