The recent snowfall made tracking Brian and Connie child’s play. Anyone could tell the difference between the teens’ tracks and the shuffle of the dead. They had left Alexandria without warning so Darryl volunteered to bring them back. Step, step, step… step… shuffle, step, step, shuffle – their footsteps reminded him of Morse code. These fool kids better have a damn good reason for taking off he thought.
The trail emptied onto a frozen lake surrounded by cabins. Two billowing smokestacks meant fire and warmth, but also possibly more people than Daryl could handle solo. He needed to get out of the cold before he froze, but assessing the danger was more important. A solitary individual emerged from one cabin and went into the other. He carried a chainsaw in one hand, a shotgun in the other, and blood dripped from his ink black hair to his work boots. Either this guy has been in one helluva fight or he knows how to hide from walkers he thought. Daryl crept closer keeping himself hidden in the treeline. A loud snap stopped him in his tracks.
The trees across the lake from the cabins cracked and bowed as a cloud of snow, dirt, and debris gushed out. It crossed the lake in seconds and slammed into the cabin where the bloody man went. What if Brian and Connie were in that cabin too? He raised his crossbow and sped towards the cabin.
As he left the trees, his foot caught something and he tumbled forward losing his grip on the crossbow. Turning over he saw a hand gripping his foot and a walker pulling himself up his legs. Daryl struggled to free his leg, but this walker was stronger than most. His crossbow was out of reach. The icy corpse opened his decayed jaw and lowered his head to Daryl’s leg. A size 10.5 boot to its head snapped it back with a sound like icicles shearing off an overhang. The head snapped forward. A flurry of kicks to its head and chunks broke off until no head remained.
He freed his leg from the motionless body and crawled to gather his crossbow. Scanning the area he saw a horde of walkers sliding across the ice towards the cabin with the bloody man. He raced to the cabin and peered through a hole in a boarded up window. Daryl counted six people in the room – Brian, Connie, another man and woman, the bloody man, and his bloody twin. The unknown man shifted his shotgun between the two bloody men.
“Come on cocoa amigo, shoot this sonofabitch and let’s get on with it.” said one of the bloody men.
Daryl kicked in the door as one of the bloody men exploded. Blood and guts sprayed everywhere. He levelled the crossbow at the shooters head.
“Daryl, wait,” said Connie, “This guy says he has a book that can stop the walkers.”
“Not him, sister,” said the man with ink black hair, “Me. Name’s Ash.”
Inspired by Vince Guaraldi Trio – Skating