They stuck it out as long as they could. Dragged themselves through thick and thin, protecting each other around every turn. But soon they couldn't hold out.
Felix was bandaged up good; luckily they had enough drugs to spare, and so he was recovering fine. Still stiff and in a great deal of pain, but he'd make it; and Ryan would make sure of that.
The day after they arrived at the drugstore, Larry died of a heartattack. His daughter, Lilly, went insane, and threw herself to the hoards. They stayed strong in the store for as long as possible, until the old man turned. Well, they learnt a lesson.
Doesn't matter how you die.
You're still gonna be one of them.
On the way out they grabbed as much in the way of supplies as possible, but no where near enough. Felix and Ryan held tight to Clementine's hands, and ran as fast as they could, following after Katjaa, Duck and Kenny, clinging onto life with every breath. Doug and Carley? Who knew. All around them they could hear the dead closing in.
"They're gonna get through the doors!" Katjaa was yelling.
"There has to be a way out!" Kenny agreed, slamming himself against every wall, hoping to weaken something, but only hurting himself.
Every door was pounding with dead, the groans echoing through their still-beating hearts, the stench of rotting and blood stinging in their throats. The vent had long ago stopped working, but now it'd have a second chance.
Clem was the only one who could fit.
"Where does it lead? This is a terrible idea!" Ryan declared, standing up on a box to peer inside.
"It's the only chance we've got!" Kenny declared, but Felix was having none of it.
"Then you send Duck through," the blonde hissed, glaring deep into his very soul. Kenny almost flinched.
"He's my son; she's just a girl!"
Both Felix and Ryan felt themselves twitching with anger as they stepped towards him.
"Wait!" Katjaa yelled. "Please! We have to do something! Fight later, if you must - but right now we'll all die!"
She was right; of course she was. Splinters chipped off the doors, bulging with zombies but a blind panic was all that made it through - for now. The men all glanced between each other in desperation.
Suddenly there were screams, screams that sounded far too familiar.
"We'll draw them out!" they said. "Get out of there!"
And suddenly the strain on the doors ebbed away, in a shuffling of feet and groans of the undead.
When they made it out into the street, they saw Doug and Carley, hand-in-hand, covered in the monsters, and still yelling out for distraction as best they could, despite their flesh being ripped from their bones. Maybe it wasn't for distraction any more.
Either way, the two families made it out of Macon that day.
The road was no better. Creatures lunging out at them from the hedges. Cars of the hardly-alive screeching past, nearly flattening them - and never stopping. Felix and Ryan walked with Clem between them - and they just kept walking.
On the second day of wandering, Duck collapsed, wheezing and hissing. Felix covered Clementine's eyes, and Ryan went to do the same, and only held onto his friend's hand. But still he didn't let go. It was the only sense of comfort he had felt in a long, long time.
"Kenny... I should've said something..."
"Kat, no... What do you mean? ... No... no... Both of you... No... No!"
By nightfall, the three of them walked alone.
Clementine was scared. They all were.
Starved, exhausted, dehydrated, lost... They stumbled into a field, desperate to find something, someone, anything that the winding country roads couldn't have offered. And then they saw the farm in the distance.
Smoke curled from the chimney into the sapphire sky.
Felix reached for Clem's hand, but instead found Ryan's. And still, neither of them let go. Clementine smiled, for the first time since... well, none of them could remember by now. Hours passed like weeks. Days passed like millenia. Every second could be their last, and the reminder of that was over every tear of their clothes, every splatter of blood and dirt.
"Should we go for it?" Felix whispered, still staring ahead at the farmhouse.
"They might have food, water, weapons..." Ryan replied in hope. "Maybe we can finally find somewhere to rest."
But both of them knew everything would have to be temporary. Nothing lasted around here. Especially not life itself. There was a hissing from behind them, and they looked round to see one of the dead grasping for Clem's leg.
His skin had sunken in, his eyeballs white all over, his skull fractured, but still the scraggles of the horseshoe mustache remained. How he'd made it this far was a mystery, dragging himself along on his front arms, his legs just tatters of flesh now.
Ryan told Felix to take Clem out of the way, cover her eyes. He did, nodding to his friend in understanding, and backing away. But Clem peeked through his fingers, and watched as Ryan's boot crushed down on Kenny's skull, cracking and splitting and spitting black-red blood, until he didn't move any more.
The American kicked Kenny's hand off of his ankle.
And they walked on.