It took two full days of nearly non-stop driving to get to the depot. The storm hadn't helped , causing a wash out of one of the main roads. They'd had to detour and lot precious time because it and the longer they were out, the longer Alexandria was without them. It didn't help that they were going a bit stir crazy, taking turns behind the wheel.
Gray Lake was a relatively small town, on the outskirts of a small lake surrounded by summer houses. The depot was a newer place, erected just before the world fell apart. It had large wire fences all around it, a building at the center, a couple of gas pumps and several trucks for maintaining roads sitting off to the side, untouched and probably unused. Daryl used the truck to push through the gate, crashing it open. Once inside, she hopped out , closing the gates again and using a bungee cord to secure it. From first glances, it was empty. No walkers inside and no sign of people. He parked the truck and hopped out, crossbow in his hand. She met his side and he handed her a long , serrated hunting knife. She took it wit ha glance, sliding it into her belt and she unsheathed her gun, twisting the silencer on to it that Rick had given her.
" Let's do a sweep of the outside first." Daryl said, stepping farther away from the truck. " Then we'll hit the main buildin. See what we can see." She just nodded beside him and followed. They started to the left, following a trail along the fence. It was a pretty wide open lace, but the larger building in the center hid a lot from view. Like the rather immense pile of bodies burnt to ash to the left of it. They both got on guard,weapons out and ready. Daryl peering down the length of his crossbow as they rounded the ashen heap and made their way toward the back of the building.
There wasn't anything to see back there. Just dumpsters and random debris fluttering about. There was a busted motorcycle on it's side, which Daryl walked up to and knelt beside, looking it over. " Hang on." He said, sliding his crossbow behind him and reaching into one of the saddle bags that was attached to the bike. He began to pull out whatever was in it. A screw driver, a was of dirty cloth, a roll of money, all of which he tossed aside. The only thing he pocketed was a zippo lighter and a box of matches, standing back up and holding his crossbow again, nodding at her. They moved on, rounding the building to the other side only to find another pile of bodies, much smaller than the last but burnt to a crisp just like the other.
" Someone's been cleanin house." He said quietly to her. She barely glanced at him, clenching her jaw a little and turning her eyes when the sound of a creak met her ears. A door to the side of the building was open, swinging idly. Daryl and Amelia exchanged glances, the he moved forward, making his way to the door. She was right behind him, quiet and practiced without knowing really how,
Inside, it was a whole different story to the outside. The place was a mess. No one was cleaning in here. There was debris everywhere, overturned crates, busted pallets, a couple of bodies. Though those weren't burnt. They warily made their way around the large area, passing disheveled offices, rows of overturned shelving that had once carried tools for town utilities, and making their way bit by bit throughout the place. It wasn't till they went up a set of stairs to the second floor that they ran into their first walker. It was just standing there in the hallway, facing the wall, missing most of it's right arm and both breasts. It was shirtless, missing it's nose and a huge chunk of what used to be long blond hair. It turned when it realized they were there, and she stepped forward , pulling the knife from her belt and driving the walker backward into the wall, slipping the blade easily into it's empty right eye socket. The blade slipped out with a sickening sound as the walker crumpled to the floor.
Daryl inched his way past her, giving her an approving nod. She slipped the knife back into her belt and followed. It was so quiet up there. She felt like there should have been far more noise. A creak in the floor, wind whistling in an open window. Something. But all they found were abandoned rooms, empty offices and a whole lot of mess.
The only thing of note was a makeshift space in the back bathroom. A pile of pillows and blankets, some candles, some magazines , some food and empty cans. Daryl knelt down, picking a can up and sniffing it, putting it away instantly and curling his nose. " This has been here awhile." He tossed the can onto the blankets, standing up. " Whoever it was, they're long gone."
" Let's check the outer buildings for propane. Maybe we'll have better luck." She suggested, stepping back out of the room. He followed, then took the lead again. They made their way back downstairs and for the door they'd come in. But Daryl slowed when he saw the door was closed.
" Did you close that?" He asked , glancing over at her over his shoulder. She stepped up to his side and furrowed her eyebrows, shaking her head.
" No. Maybe the breeze did it." She said, but then remembered how quiet everything had been. Even upstairs, they would have heard the door slam, right? Amelia began to feel an unease settle into her bones, her hand gripping the gun a little tighter. Daryl seemed to pick up on it, glancing around him in the quiet, staring into the mess and shadows all around them.
" Come on. Let's get outta here." He said softly, and moved towards the door. Once outside, they checked their surroundings again. Nothing had changed. But still, something felt off and she couldn't quite shake it. They made their way to the smaller buildings. They were more like large storage units than anything . Two were busted open already, the contents mostly gone or destroyed. The rest they had to break into, one at a time. But they only found plows for the town's trucks, a pair of riding lawn mowers and several tall stacks of packed dirt. Daryl heaved a sigh at the last one.
" Alright. Let's check the gas pumps. Looks like propane's a bust." He said, turning around to look at her but his eyes went wide and he grabbed her, yanking her toward him and back into the shed. A huge explosion shook around them and they both fell backward into the stacks of dirt. After the dust settled, Daryl sat up, pulling her aside and looking at her. " You alright?!" He demanded. She was a little dazed, and dirty.
" What the hell was that?!" She said, breathing heavily as he got to his feet, holding his hand out to help her up. Then he inched his way out, crossbow ready.
" The truck. It drove into the gas pumps." He said, and she knew he wasn't kidding. The smell of burning fuel was suddenly thick in the air. She raised her gun, following close behind him as they exited. They were both smart enough to know that trucks didn't drive themselves not to mention Daryl had the keys. They weren't alone.
Fire boiled over their heads, billows of thick smoke blanketing the sky. The coolness of the day was drowned out by the immense heat. The truck was in pieces everywhere, the cab burning as much as the pumps were. They looked around quietly, cautiously and that's when Amelia saw the gate. " Daryl... " She said loud enough for him to hear. One word, but that was all it took for him to glance at her. and then look in the same direction she was staring. The gate was wide open and walkers were coming. At least a dozen, maybe more. They both stepped backward, turning to head for the other end of the compound. They'd have no choice but to climb the fence. They would have to figure the rest out once they were over it.
Up and over, Amelia went first and then Daryl followed right behind. They had killed a couple of walkers that had come wandering in their direction. Amelia pointed to a row of houses, just at the bottom of a hill. " Come on!" Daryl yelled, grabbing her hand. And they both set out on a dead run. They had to get to shelter before the place became overrun by walkers. If they were caught in the open, they'd be as good as dead.
In the distance, standing hidden between the towns trucks, was Dylan. Watching, smiling. Once the walkers were all preoccupied with the fire, he'd make his way out. Follow Daryl and Amelia and play with them a little bit more. After all, he had all the time he needed.