Sanctuary pt 1

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The first chapter of a work of fan fiction for AMC's The Walking Dead which I just recently finished. More chapters to be posted later.

 Sanctuary

The Walking Dead Fan Fiction

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~Jane Howard

The muffler on the hunter green truck had been broken long before the end of the world started, so the girl hears the roaring cry of the engine several seconds before the battle-scarred vehicle pulls up beside her. It veers into the wrong lane in the process of doing so, but the absence of other motorists on the road renders the traffic violation innocuous and irrelevant. The windows are either tinted dark or extremely dirty, or a combination of both. The girl rests her torn and overstuffed backpack on the steaming asphalt as the driver gradually slows the truck to a halt and rolls down the window closest to the girl, the one on the passenger’s side. The truck has five seats total—two in the front, three smaller ones in the back—and four of them are empty.

“Where you headed?” the driver asks; she couldn’t see what he looked like through the grimy Plexiglas, but the vision she had of him (and she had imagined a “him”) was interestingly not that far off, considering the limited information her mind had used to create it. The man in the car is probably in his late twenties but looks older in a way, due to the five o’clock shadow on his face, the bruises on his knuckles and the cynical tint to the gray color of his irises. The majority of the unkempt dark hair is hidden under a tattered baseball cap.

“I’m just…walkin’. Figure there’s got to be some houses or somethin’ useful at the end of this road,” the girl replies. She picks her bag up a few inches off the pavement as if preparing to depart, leaving it to hover indecisively in the air for a moment, but then eventually sets it back down.

“There ain’t,” he says shortly, his gray eyes still facing in the direction beyond the dashboard. She catches another glimpse of the knuckles as his hands grip the steering wheel. “I’ve driven this way hundreds of times to get back to my camp, and there’s nothin’ for a very long time, that I can promise you.”

“Where’s your camp?” Her eagerness lets him know for certain that she isn’t “just walkin’”; no, she’s searching for a place that will take her in. Just like everyone else, or everyone who still has to look, that is.

“It’s not just mine,” the driver says. “It’s one of the big ones, but it’s not run by the government—lot safer for it, too. If you’ve been walkin’ long”—and he can tell that she has been—“you might’ve seen the name on the maps along this way.”

“I’ve seen some signs all marked up in red,” she interjects. The dead ends of the girl’s shoulder-length, mousy blonde hair move up and down slightly as she nods. “Somethin’ with a slogan…?”

“‘Those who arrive, survive.’” That’s what they tell everyone who comes to Terminus, that’s what he’s told everyone whom he’s picked up along this route. The rhythm of that phrase is the beat to which they march down at Terminus. It’s why people keep showing up, in increasing numbers every day, it seems, all of them motivated by the promise of survival.

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“It’s called Terminus. Anyone’s welcome there.” He opens the passenger’s side door an inch, wondering if she’ll take the bait or become suspicious enough to run. She climbs in without hesitation and carelessly drops her bag on the floor. He has put the car in gear and started to drive before the door has shut.

“You the leader of this place?”

“No. His name’s Gareth; he’ll want to meet you.”

“And you are?”

“Martin.”

“I’m Elle,” she says because he doesn’t ask.

This exchange seems to satisfy any curiosity that she might have, and he notices that she displays surprisingly little. In the ensuing silence, he looks her over; she seems to be the kind who could be starving, but would be too proud to beg for food. She was obviously intrigued by the idea of an indiscriminate sanctuary, but she was careful not to indicate any desire to go there until she was invited. She’d do anything for a hot shower and a change of clothes—anything except ask questions. For a girl left to her own devices during the apocalypse, she’s pretty, he has to admit. Gareth will like her.

The rest of the route contains only one sign for their eventual destination; when the passenger’s side of the truck passes by the tattered map scrawled with the location of Terminus and its endearing, enduring motto, Elle doesn’t notice. The signs mean even less to her now that she too has been promised survival and doesn’t have to keep searching for it. As far as he knows, she has nothing—no past, no questions, no expectations, nothing except a first name and a weathered backpack. People like her are the best to have at a place like Terminus because they listen well and they’ll do as they’re told, even when the rules change—and change they will, but Martin doesn’t tell her that yet. He lets her keep whatever vision of paradise she has alive for now, and in the meantime keeps driving down the narrow stretch of road that is surrounded on both sides by walkers who were likely once just people attempting to find a place in which they could survive.

 

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