2004 ~ Lovelock, Nevada
“What in tarnation?” The Sheriff asks, confused. “What do you mean those things there are ‘zombies’?”
As we all pile into the pickup truck, and the Sheriff hits the gas to get us out of there, the Drifter goes onto explain the legend behind the undead things that are going crazy and attacking everyone – both living and what’s supposed to be dead – inside the barn. I move closer to the Sheriff’s side and he wraps his right arm ‘round me. He looks down at me, and I can see the emotions swirling in his murky hazel eyes. He’s always been good at hiding his emotions from others, but not from me. I can tell that he’s slightly scared, confused, and doesn’t want to believe what the Drifter’s telling us.
The Sheriff pulls up in front of the bed and breakfast where the travelers have been staying since they got into town last night. We all hurry up inside and quickly board up all the windows and doors. We don’t know how long we’ve got till the so-called zombies get here. The Drifter said that they’d follow us back here. Once we’ve gotten all of the windows and doors boarded up as much as they can be, we all start looking for weapons and anything else to defend ourselves if need to. The Sheriff and I head to the kitchen. He pulls out a box and starts shifting through a drawer, pulling out various knives and other random items and pretends to jab the air.
I can’t help but giggle as I watch his antics. I know this isn’t really the time or place to giggle, but the Sheriff also finds a way to make me do so, not matter what’s going on or what we’re doing. He glances up at me, a smirk on his face.
“What, Leigh?” He asks, playfully.
“Nothin’. You’re just a goofball sometimes.” I say, grinning.
He chuckles. “Hush. I’m your goofball and you know you love it.”
I nod. “You’re right ‘bout that. Now, c’mon. Let’s find some more weapons.”
We get back to the task at hand and the Sheriff even finds a chainsaw and a can of gasoline. We meet up with the rest of the group and go over the game plan. One of the ladies makes a make-shift shotgun, which has both the Sheriff and I impressed. The Drifter makes sure that we all know that the only way to take these fuckers out is by destroying the brain – whether it be a bullet between the eyes, chopping the heads off, or some other form of damaging the brain. Eventually, we decide that the Sheriff, the drifter, Melody, and I will all head to the cemetery to dig up the body of Mr. Wise so that we can hopefully end this disaster.
Once we get to the cemetery, and do what we need to do, we finally start heading back into town. While we’re in front of the jailhouse, we get bombarded by a group of town zombies. I have to tackle one of ‘em and quickly stab it in the side of the head before it can hurt the Sheriff. Once the zombie’s dead, I look at the Sheriff. He looks at me in slight shock.
“Thanks, hon.” He drawls.
I nod. “I didn’t wanna lose you.”
He gives me a small smile. Before the night is over, we’ve managed to get rid of the main source of the zombies, burned the remaining evidence, and ended the nightmare that’s plagued our small town for the last day and a half. By the end of the week, the Sheriff and I decide that we’re ready to get outta here and start over somewhere else. He hands over the badge, naming him Sheriff, to the town’s records keeper. He hops up in the pickup truck, next to me, and grins.
“Well, Leigh. What’d ya say we get outta here?” He asks.
I smile. “Sounds like a damn good plan to me, Sheriff.”
He chuckles. “It’s just Negan now, sweetheart. I ain’t the Sheriff ‘round these parts no more.”
I laugh and lean over to kiss him.
“You’ll always be my Sheriff.” I tease.
2016 ~ Virginia
Nearly twelve years have gone by since we left Lovelock, Nevada and moved across the country to a small town in Virginia. In that time, Negan’s gotten a job as the gym coach at the local high school. I’ve opened up my own little bookstore on Main Street. Business has been good, and it still gives me the time to write my own novels on the side. Negan finally asked me to marry him once we got to Virginia. I, of course, said yes. We’ve been together since 2002, so the thought of marrying him was something I’d gladly do. We got married the following year, so every night, we come home to each other, and life is good.
We haven’t had to worry ‘bout what went down in Lovelock since that night. Our town was so small, that the incident didn’t even get any news coverage, which is perfectly fine by us. We just wanna forget about it. But, all good things must come to an end, right? It seems that’s case in my experience. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard the news reports about the dead coming back to life. Negan and I both didn’t want to believe it when we first heard the reports, but we still made sure we were prepared. After last time, we didn’t want to be caught with our pants ‘round our ankles again.
Today, started out as any normal day. I made breakfast for Negan and I before he kissed me on his way out the door to go to the school, and I headed off to my little bookstore. Business was slow for the first part of the morning, but that was nothing new. Tuesday mornings are always a little slow, so I just take the time to do inventory, clean, and work on my books. By the time lunchtime rolled ‘round, I locked up, and go in my car to go meet Negan for lunch. This is something we’ve been doing since we moved here. Some days, he’ll escape from the school and meet me at the store.
Others, I’ll lock up and go meet him. Pulling into the school parking lot, I look ‘round for my husband’s 1967 Chevy Impala. He bought the car a few years back, fixed up, and now it’s his baby. I can’t say I blame him. I love the car too. It’s a beauty, and he knows I’m a shocker for classic cars. I park beside the Impala, grab our lunches, and head inside. The security guard nods at me.
“Hello, Leigh. Here to see the Coach?” He asks.
I nod. “As always. He in his office?”
“Should be. Class let out ‘bout five minutes ago.”
“Not a problem. You have a good day now, ya hear?”
I chuckle. “You do the same.”
I make way through the hallways towards the coach’s office. Negan’s not there yet, but that’s ok. I go ahead and get our lunches set up on his desk. I plop down in his chair, propping my feet up on the edge of the desk. A few minutes later, I hear the heavy footfalls that lets me know my husband’s almost here. I look up as he steps into his office, clad in a pair of black sweatpants, a grey t-shirt, a whistle hanging ‘round his neck, and a shit-eating grin on his face.
“There’s my fuckin’ gorgeous as hell wife!” He teases.
I blush. Ever since we moved here, Negan started cussing a lot more. And, I’m not gonna lie, it’s sexy as shit. Like, yeah. He’s still the gentle, yet sarcastic little shit he was when he was the Sheriff. But, now, he doesn’t hold back anymore. He’s still gentle ‘round me, but he also knows how much it turns me on when he’s crass, so he cusses a lot, even when it’s just us. I stand up outta his chair, and make my way over to him. I wrap my arms ‘round his waist, and he wraps his arms ‘round me. Since I’m only 5’3.5” and he’s 6’2”, there’s a decent height difference between us.
This means that when we’re both standing up, and in each other’s embrace, my arms go ‘round his waist, and he just holds me as much as he can. He lowers his head and gently kisses me at first. Within a few seconds, though, the kiss gets heated, like it always does. When he pulls away, he’s got that smirk on his face that makes his dimples shine, even under the salt-and-pepper scruff he has lining his jaw. I rest my head against his chest and just hold onto him. After a few minutes, I pull away, but only ‘cause I hear his stomach rumble. I look up at him.
“Someone’s hungry.” I tease.
He chuckles. “Fuck yeah, I am!”
I laugh and step away. We both get situated so that we can eat our lunches and talk ‘bout our mornings so far. After lunch, I kiss him one more time before heading back to my bookstore and him heading to the next class he teaches. When I notice the sun starting to set, I finally lock up the store. Just as I’m pulling the key outta the lock, I hear groaning from behind me. Not just any groaning, though. Groaning and moaning I’ve only heard once before, and that was twelve years ago. I bend down to grab the knife I have tucked in my boot.
Standing up straight again, I turn ‘round, and sure ‘nough, I see a zombie. I sigh but quickly stab it in the head. Three more appear from the corner of the building. I end them too before reaching for my phone to call Negan.
“Doll. I need you to get your ass back to the school. Now.” He says before I can get a word out.
“The school?” I ask.
“Yea. Those fuckers are back.”
“I know. I just killed four of ‘em.”
“Fuckin’ hell. Alright. Meet me at the school. Ok?”
“I will. I’ll be there in like ten minutes.”
“Good. And, doll?”
“I fuckin’ love you.”
“I love you too.”
We end the phone call and I hop in my car to meet him at the school. On the way there, I pass a bunch of zombies, just roaming ‘round in the streets, on the sidewalks, just everywhere. Once I’m at the school, I hurry inside to my husband’s office. He’s there, and in the middle of changing out of his work outfit when I open the door. I take a brief moment to take him in. He’s got his dark grey pants slung low on his hips, and is the process of slipping his white t-shirt on. I watch as the muscles in his chest ripple with his movements.
Once his head pops through the top of the shirt, he smirks at me.
“Hey, sweetheart.” He says.
I smile. “Hi, honey.”
“Guess we gotta deal with these fuckers again, eh?”
I nod. “I guess so. At least we know how to take ‘em out.”
He nods. “That’s fuckin’ true.”
He sits down in his chair to pull his boots on. I walk over to him and kiss him. He sighs, happily, into the kiss. Afterwards, he slips his leather jacket on and zips it up halfway. I hand him the red scarf I got him for our first wedding anniversary and he wraps it ‘round his neck loosely. I shove his work attire into his duffle bag as he reaches into the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet to pull out another bag. I immediately recognize it. It’s the bag he put together to keep in his office in the event that something like this happened again.
He slings the backpack over his shoulder before reaching for his lucky baseball bat. I smirk. He really does love that thing. It’s just a simple Louisville Slugger, but he named it “Lucille” after our daughter that we lost. He looks at me.
“So...I guess we head to the house, see how bad things really are, and go from there?” He asks.
I nod. “Although, things are already pretty bad out there. There’s so many of the dead folks roaming ‘round it ain’t even funny. I had to run over a few of ‘em on my way here.”
“Fuckin’ hell. Ok. We’ll take the Impala then?”
I nod. “Sounds good to me.”
We start to head out to the car, but as soon as we get outside, we have to start taking down the zombies. Negan uses his baseball bat, and I use my knife, aiming for the heads. We finally make it to the car. He hops in behind the wheel while I grab my own bag from my car. I get into the Impala and Negan drives towards our house.
A Few Weeks Later ~
We’ve been fighting the walkers for a few weeks now. Negan decided to name ‘em “walkers” ‘cause he felt the term “zombies” was too cliché and that these fuckers were different than what we encountered back in Nevada. We still have the Impala, but we’ve picked up a few other folks. A man by the name of Simon and a woman by the name of Arat. They seem to be really good fighters, but are still shocked by the way things are, now that the world’s started to go to shit. When we met ‘em, they were surrounded by a hoard of ‘bout twenty walkers.
They were trying to take ‘em down, but weren’t doing so well. Negan and I stepped in and quickly took care of the walkers.
“AIM FOR THE HEADS!” Negan had yelled at Simon and Arat.
They did, and were finally able to take down a couple. They’ve been with us ever since.
“I still don’t see how y’all knew what to do to take ‘em down.” Simon says for ‘bout the fiftieth time since we rescued him and Arat.
I chuckle as Negan sighs. I look over my shoulder to the backseat where Simon and Arat are sitting.
“Let’s just say we’ve had experience dealin’ with these fuckers.” I say.
“But, how exactly? Y’all still ain’t told us.” Simon presses.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, Si.”
“Try me. At this point, I’ll believe almost anything.”
I sigh. “Twelve years ago, we had a case of zombies in the small town we lived in. There was a curse or some shit that brought ‘em back to life. We dealt with ‘em. Figured out that only way to take ‘em down was to destroy the brain in some way. After we took care of the situation, we left there and moved here to Virginia.”
“But…these things aren’t part of some curse, are they?”
I shake my head. “No. This is something different. They’re still zombies, but their origins are different than what we encountered.”
“Do you think it’ll end?”
I shrug. “Maybe. Maybe not. It’s been almost two months. The government has shut down. Shit’s hit the fan. I don’t see it ending anytime soon.”
“So, what do we do?”
“We get somewhere relatively fuckin’ safe, set up fuckin’ camp, and try to fuckin’ keep on living.” Negan says.
At that exact moment, Negan stops the car in front of what appears to be an abandoned factory of some sort.
“C’mon. Let’s check this place out.” He says.
We all get outta the car and head towards the gate and chain-link fence surrounding the factory. We clear the place relatively quickly. It seems that most people decided to flee, and since it was locked up tight, walkers weren’t able to get in.
“Alright. This seems ‘bout as good as any fuckin’ place we’ve fuckin’ come ‘cross. We’ll set up fuckin’ camp here, and try to keep on fuckin’ livin’.” Negan says.
It sounds pretty good to the rest of us, so we agree. I trust my husband’s judgement. Even if the other two didn’t agree to stay, I wouldn’t leave my husband’s side. Negan runs back out to the car and drives inside the gate.
Once he’s in, Simon closes the gate and locks it back up to the best of his ability. We all turn to look at our new home.