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 DO NOT GO GENTLY, tag; neek
RUTH JABLONSKI
Posted: Mar 5 2012, 06:00 PM


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It was well into the late afternoon when Ruth began to dig. The sun was dipping below the line of trees in the distance, causing a welcomed drop in temperature. Dirt, dust, sweat, and the faintest splatters of blood (nothing more than tiny, barely perceptible pink droplets) stained the blonde's dark blue jeans, her long sleeved black and white striped shirt, her forehead. Her hair, tied in a limp ponytail, damp from exhaustion and the noonday heat, clung to the skin on the back of her neck. The hole beside the pine tree wasn't much to look at. Six feet in length and three feet wide, it was nothing more than a shallow ditch and Ruth refused to leave Walt's body where zombies or wild animals could easily get to him. It was the least she could do for him after all he'd done, after what he'd left to her and the Lost Boys.

The man deserved a grave. A proper burial.

She'd found three shovels in the man's truckbed and took one for herself. Digging through the hard, dry dirt was tougher than she'd expected and in an hour's time, she realized she hadn't made much leeway. Walt's body was still propped up against the pine where she'd left him after shooting him twice - once in the shoulder (her hand had been shaking so hard it had thrown her aim off) and once where it counted, just like he'd taught her. His last instructions to her had been to leave his body, to drive off as soon as the deed was done and retrieve his belongings from his home, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Instead, she'd retched on the side of the road, down on her hands and knees, fingers digging uselessly into the dirt. She'd cleaned herself off, she'd sat in the truck with the engine idling, staring at the pine, at the man's silhouette beneath the branches of the tree, her mind still reeling at the events of the past few hours. She didn't remember if she started crying again or, if she had, when she stopped. She didn't remember taking his gun and tucking it into the back of jeans but she remembered thinking that his body needed to be buried. She remembered the sound of the shovel hitting the dirt as she made her first cut into the dark earth.

Sighing, arms sore and eyes weary, Ruth paused again, stabbing the shovel into the dirt and leaning her lithe frame against it. Everytime she closed her eyes, she saw them, the ghostly pale faces of the undead as they surrounded Walt. She could hear them groaning, the voices that had once been human dry and cracked and unrecognizable. She could hear the sound of the gun going off - two shots one after the other. The images replayed themselves in her mind over and over again and she couldn't help but wonder how long it'd take before she could forget, if she'd ever forget.

The thought made her feel guilty and she slowly looked back at the man slumped against the tree.

She had to keep digging. The sun was setting now and the air grew crisp. Ruth tugged at her shirt, still sticky with sweat, grit her teeth, and returned her grip to the wooden handle of the shovel as she slammed the tip back into the ground.
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DIARMUID MULLIGAN
Posted: Mar 6 2012, 07:43 PM


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RUTH JABLONSKI
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 12:42 PM


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The ground beneath her feet grew softer, damper, more earthy as she dug deeper and deeper. The soil changed from a dry, cracked reddish brown hue to the dark brown color most people associated with dirt. She was almost done with the grave but the worst part - the hardest part was yet to come. The blonde frowned and focused on the repetitve motion of putting the shovel into the earth and scooping out another layer of rock and root and mineral. Her arms were growing numb and her body felt dehydrated but she couldn't stop. Not yet. She wasn't ready to stop just yet.

The blonde didn't see or hear the stranger approach until he spoke and at the sound of another human voice breaking the monotonous drone of metal-on-dirt, she blonde stiffened and cursed under her breath in surprise. "Jesus," she turned and found herself looking at a man standing by the truck bed.

Ruth was surprised that the stranger should call her by name - by her full name no less - and her eyes narrowed, first in suspicion (and perhaps even fear, the day had been fraught with it, after all) but slowly, the mixed emotions were replaced by curiosity. The stranger - a brown haired young man perhaps a few years her junior - had a familiar face though she couldn't quite place where she'd seen him before. He could have been the older brother of one of the students at the middle school who she might have met with concerning her behavior and the student's - God only knew how many of those meetings Ruth had attended and how many faces she'd seen glaring sternly at her from the other side of the principal's kidney shaped "conference" table. His tone certainly implied that their last meeting didn't end on good terms.

If she'd been in a better mood, she might have smirked at the thought.

Instead, the blonde quirked a brow, pausing from her work in the hole to tilt her head upward at the young man. "Do I know you?" Her tone was flat and far too weary to come off as hostile.

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DIARMUID MULLIGAN
Posted: Mar 10 2012, 01:18 PM


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RUTH JABLONSKI
Posted: Mar 12 2012, 11:37 AM


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Ruth accepted the bottle of water silently, her eyes still searching Diarmuid's face, trying to place where she'd seen it last. After a moment's hesitation, the blonde gave up and wiped the sweat and dirt from her forehead with the back of her arm before twisting the cap on the water bottle. "Thanks." She watched as the young man approached with a shovel in hand, saying nothing at first as he began to help her dig. Part of Ruth wanted to ask him to stop, to insist that he let her dig Walt's grave on her own. She wasn't sure why she had such an overwhelming desire to put the man to rest by herself but she knew one thing for sure - it would be stupid to turn down someone's help. The grave was almost ready now, judging by its depth, but Ruth had lost a lot of daylight in her lonely pursuit to bury the dead. The blonde set down the bottle by the edge of the grave.

It was when the young man spoke again that Ruth's eyes flickered from her own shovel to him again, this time unable to conceal her surprise. The nickname "Molli" brought back a sudden rush of memories that at any other time, the blonde might have looked back on with a droll smile, an indulgent chuckle, a vague shake of her head, before the images of a naive young man in his suit and tie, nametag pinned to his lapel, faded back into the depths of her mind. That he should be here, at this particular moment, helping her dig a grave for a man he didn't even know however - Ruth was temporarily at a loss for words though her expression made it clear she remembered now. She remembered exactly who the young man was.

"Molli," she repeated the name, inwardly flinching at the sound of it on her tongue. Ruth forced herself to look back at the young man and just over his shoulder, in her peripheral, she could see Walt's body too. " ... Mulligan, right? That's your name." She realized she had never caught his first name. Setting down her shovel again, Ruth shook her head in disbelief. "Jesus, the last time we met - that was months ago. Right before ... ," her voice trailed off. Right before the virus outbreak. The events of the last few hours were still too fresh in her mind and she found herself unable to finish her thought. She shuddered. "Well," She should say something to him, to the young man she'd so cruelly mocked and toyed with for no reason other than the fact that she'd been bored at a psychiatry conference. "I'm glad to see you're still alive." The words weren't necessarily what she'd wanted to say, but Ruth found that she meant them. One more (somewhat) familiar face still alive - that had to count for some sort of victory, didn't it?

For a moment, she looked like she wanted to say something else but the words wouldn't come. Instead, Ruth motioned with one hand toward Molli's shovel. "You don't have to help me, it's okay. I just .. I just needed to do this for him."


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DIARMUID MULLIGAN
Posted: Mar 12 2012, 01:38 PM


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RUTH JABLONSKI
Posted: Mar 13 2012, 01:14 PM


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Normally, she would have been inclined to agree with his statement - Molli was funnier to say though "Diarmuid" was definitely a close second. Instead of commenting on the unfortunate nickname however, Ruth merely nodded her head. "Diarmuid." In that one name, in that one word, the blonde seemed to reveal everything she was feeling. The word sounded tired, weary, lacking in the same lively attitude and sarcasm that usually lingered in Ruth's tone. The truth of the matter was, she was tired. She felt exhausted in mind and body and if it weren't for the presence of another living, breathing human being around Ruth was sure she might dissolve into tears again only this time, not out of sadness or fear or to mourn the loss of a life but out of an almost childlike sense of overwhelming frustration. For the moment, she managed to hold it together despite feeling like she was unraveling right where she stood.

Noticing the young man's look of surprise, Ruth couldn't help but wonder - just how terrible had she been to him? Had it always been like this? In her mind, her actions and words were just jokes. They were harmless and even clever, if she said so herself, but was she the only one who'd thought that all this time? The revelation was something of an unpleasant shock to her and the blonde tried to shake off another wave of guilt as she tried to find something to say. "Don't look so surprised. With people dropping left and right, it's nice to see living faces now and then." She glanced at Diarmuid and sighed. "Yeah ... well. Maybe I'll collapse after this is done." She attempted to smile though the expression faltered and for a moment, Ruth was grateful for the silence between them as they dug.

Ruth watched as Diarmuid set aside his shovel, as he made his way toward the pine and placed Walt into his grave. Standing on the edge of the hole peering down, the blonde stared stonily at the man who'd given his life to save hers. He looked much smaller in death, she realized. He almost didn't look like the same man who earlier that day had been cursing and spitting at zombies, fighting through them and cutting them down with every inch of him. The blonde wondered if they would all look like that in death - if she would seem so small and pale and helpless to somebody else.

"Thank you," her voice was a hoarse whisper and though she was addressing Diarmuid, her eyes stayed on Walt. She might have been speaking to both of them. Shovel in hand, Ruth scooped a fresh turn of earth and laid it into the grave. The dirt hit the body with a soft thud. "He saved my life," she laid another shovel full of dirt into the grave. "Walter Fischer was a veteran, a soldier, and a friend." Another dull thud. "He and I were never very close but William Harper respected him and that was good enough for us. I'm sorry I never treated you better or made an effort to reach out to you more in life -" Her voice cracked and words were spilling out now whether Ruth wanted them to or not. "I should have been nicer to you, I should have listened more and been less of a jerk. You saved my life even though I'd been nothing but a smartass to you." There was a wrenching feeling in the pit of her stomach. "Rest in peace, Walter Fischer." Ruth sniffed and realized she was crying again. "Goddamnit," she muttered, shooting a quick glance over at Diarmuid, half hoping he hadn't noticed. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and finished filling in the grave, using the work as an excuse not to talk.

It was only when the body was buried, when the grave was filled and the earth on top of it smoothed out and marked with a large stone that Ruth finally turned back to Diarmuid. "If you want a ride or anything back into town, you can come with me. I need to get to Walt's cabin." She didn't say anything about the words spoken over the dead man's grave but moved toward the vehicle and tossed her shovel back into the truck bed.

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DIARMUID MULLIGAN
Posted: Mar 30 2012, 11:39 AM


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RUTH JABLONSKI
Posted: Apr 2 2012, 12:12 PM


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Joined: 23-December 11



It probably would have been easier to function in a post-apocalyptic society if Ruth was genuinely heartless, if she really were as uncaring and uninterested in the lives of others as she tried to be. If she really were that detached she certainly wouldn't be feeling like some invisible hand was trying to carve her heart out of her chest with a dull spoon at that particular moment. Death was nothing new to her by then. Hell, the deaths of people she'd come to know were par for the course (to a certain extent) but each time, it still left her feeling just a little more hollow, a little more helpless than before. Death was inevitable - she wasn't stupid enough to believe it could be escaped - but despite this knowledge, there was still a part of the blonde who wanted to do something about it, who wanted to somehow prevent it from happening not all the time but maybe once or twice. She wanted to cheat death every now and then as if by doing so, she were somehow giving the Reaper himself the finger.

The mental image of flipping off some black hooded figure holding a scythe made her feel slightly better.

Usually, the blonde would have been annoyed at having a witness around to see her in a moment of weakness but she was far too tired and emotionally drained to feel anything but a sudden desire to curl up somewhere dark and cool and sleep for an entire week straight. She'd have to save the snippy comments and sarcasm for another time, when her mind was sharper. Diarmuid accepted the ride and to her surprise, the blonde found herself glad that he did. After what happened with Walt, she wanted to be able to do something good - something that was helpful for someone else. Despite the exhaustion the blonde managed to roll her eyes at herself. She was going soft.

"It's the least I could do for ..." she began, her voice trailing off. For what? Her thoughts returned to the first time the two of them had met and Ruth shrugged away the memories. "For your help."

Sighing, the blonde nodded at the young man's next suggestion. "Yeah, you're probably right but the sooner we get going the better. I don't like the idea of being out here when it gets dark." Plus, having someone in the truck with her for company would help keep her awake. Ruth didn't give voice to that last thought. Instead, her eyes flickered wearily upward toward the ever darkening sky. Where did the time go? How long had she been in the woods digging? Shaking her head softly, Ruth seemed to realize for the first time just how long she'd been on her feet. Approaching the truck and wrenching the driverside door open, she sank into the seat and let out another sigh, this one tinged with relief. A dull ache in her shoulders was slowly but efficiently moving its way down her spine and she frowned as she tilted her head, motioning for Diarmuid to get into the truck. "Check the glove compartment for me, will you? See if there's aspirin or something in there."

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