Everywhere Rick looked, there was chaos. The barn was completely ablaze, which provided enough light to thoroughly see the extent of the unfolding scene. Walkers poured into the yard like a movie had just let out beyond the fence, surrounding the house and the barn with a throng too thick to properly search. Bodies were scattered over the ground, still and writhing, alive and dead and… undead. The yelling, gunfire, and engines were attracting even more Walkers that flowed in like an endless wave from the fields and the dark treeline beyond. Rick knew that Jimmy was dead. He’d seen a few others struggling, and vehicles take off, but it was impossible to tell who had made it and who had gotten bit in all of the confusion. The only thing he knew for sure was that Carl was alive and safe in the front of the truck with him and Hershel.
Slowing down a bit as he circled toward the exit, Rick’s eyes dashed around the lawn and screened for anyone still alive as his ears strained to hear. He parked and dove out of the car before he had time to contemplate his decision, shouting over his shoulder for Carl and Hershel to stay put. Carol was alive, just a little beyond the wood fencing. She was, by some miracle, uninjured, crying and dodging Walkers as she ran for the truck, but she wouldn’t stay that way for long with the herd closing in around her, and she had neither the training nor the weapons to fight back and buy herself that last bit of distance.
Sprinting around the fence, Rick pulled a spare clip from his pocket and reloaded with a haste that would probably have replaced his personal best, before halting in his stride when he saw a decomposing hand clutch into Carol’s shirt and tug her off balance. He took a steadying breath, mindful that he would be firing directly beside the woman’s head as she struggled with her attacker, and he could very well hit her. But there was no other option. Rick took the shot. And then the next, and the next, until he’d cleared enough space for her to run. He jogged a few steps further and did it again as more Walkers swarmed in from different angles to join the frenzy.
“Come on!” Rick shouted encouragement as they were about to meet in the middle. He raised his gun once more as the newest set of Walkers closed in around them, only to have it click. Empty. He cursed, taking a few more steps and yanking Carol forward by her arm, pulling until his body was between her and the majority of the herd. Rick used his other hand to holster his gun and draw his knife, planting it in the head of the nearest Walker. If he could clear out just a few more, he’d be able to slip away right behind her. With a shout for Carol to keep running, Rick turned and stabbed a second and third Walker in quick succession.
Another corpse had sneaked in close from his side while he dispatched number four. Rick jerked sideways, narrowly avoiding a bite to his shoulder from the unexpected attack, before twisting and stabbing the Walker that had nearly ended him in a smooth arc toward the head. He stepped backward to regain his balance and was jostled by the other Walkers who sent him tumbling to the grass, two of the recently killed falling on top of him.
A sharp, stabbing pain in his thigh wrenched a wail from Rick’s throat before he managed to contain it. He couldn’t see what had happened, but it felt like a flaming spike had just been thrust straight through him. The world spun, blackness threatened to overtake him, but Rick pushed it back, choking down his agonized screams so he could face the ongoing danger. Rick stabbed the first two Walkers that stumbled toward him to take advantage of his pinned state. Their added weight drove him further onto whatever was impaling him and made it difficult to breathe, air too limited to even cry out properly. Their scent, however, masked him well enough that no more Walkers attempted to reach him, and Rick took the opportunity that had presented itself to pass out.