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Episode 2: Starved For Help

Chapters

Chapter 9: Going Hungry

Chapter 10: Conversation Killer

Chapter 11: Thank You for Shopping at Save-Lots

Chapter 12: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Chapter 13: Too Much Salt Will Kill You

Chapter 14: Taking Charlotte

Chapter 15: You Fight Like a Dairy Farmer

Chapter 16: It's Not Stealing If You Need It


Chapter 9: Going Hungry

Three months later

There was a slight rustling of leaves as Mordecai crept forward, axe in hand. There was an oblivious walker before him, snacking on something nonchalantly. He positioned himself behind it, taking aim. He raised the axe highly above his head and brought it down. The axe came down and struck the walker in the head with a sickening crunch. Mordecai nudged it with his leg off the axe and it sank towards the ground. He looked down at the corpse of his kill and there was another rustling of leaves from behind him. It was Techmo.

Techmo had been a new addition to the group after recently fortifying the motel. Before this all had gone down, he had been employed at the US Air Force base. When Margaret suggested searching her former workplace, the group had happened upon him taking refuge in the base by himself. Margaret had seemed reluctant to having him stay with them but when he had offered to share his commissary food, she seemed to lighten up and agree for him to join them. Techmo is a green humanoid who wears a black jacket with a torn sleeve. He wears a name tag on the left side of his jacket collar. He also has white hair consisting of a goatee, sideburns, and a mohawk between the shaven sides of his head. The bionic portions of his body are his mechanical eye and robotic arm. Techmo also carries a samurai sword, wears tube socks and penny loafers. He looked over to Mordecai.

"Damn, what'd they get this time?" He sighed, shaking his head.

Mordecai examined the walker's half-eaten meal, "Looks like a rabbit."

"Ugh, that's another meal lost. I still can't believe we went through all that commissary food in three months. It seemed like so much at the time." Techmo expressed, as they turned from the two carcasses and strode slowly away.

"Maybe you shouldn't have opened the door."

"Yeah, except then I'd probably BE food right now. Trust me, I have no regrets."

"Well, a rabbit's hardly a meal Techmo, but I'd take it. We're all hungry."

"No kidding."

They continued walking aimlessly through the forest when Techmo spoke up again, "When accidentally grabbed for CJ’s rations last night, I thought she was gonna cut off my hand.”

"We’re all on edge. Just cut her some slack."

"Yeah, you're right. I wish I knew for sure how much food we have left."

"Not enough. According to Margaret, we've just about hit the last of our food reserves. Some people might have to go without tonight."

"You mean Margaret's Lottery again? Rigby's gonna be pissed."

"She thinks everyone should have an equal chance of missing a meal."

"You think Rigby's having more luck than we are out here?"

"I sure hope so."

"Yeah, between the lack of food and Rigby and Margaret fighting all the time, things are getting pretty tense back at the motor inn. You know, Rigby's been talking about taking off if he can get that RV running."

"Rigby won’t abandon us. He’s a good guy." Mordecai replied, giving his opinion on Rigby.

"Can't blame him though, did you hear Benson going off on him last night? What's the guy's deal anyway? Seems like he's got a problem with you in particular."

There was a sudden cawing of a crow as it flew over the clearing. Techmo took notice of it.

"He’s just an asshole."

"That’s gotta suck. The way Margaret worries about his health, I wouldn't be surprised if she starts saving rations for him. And I know Margaret thinks he's getting weaker, but the guy's all muscle. He's a walking pile driver. I know I wouldn't want to be stuck in a room with him. And didn't he punch you in the face one time?"

"Knocked me flat." Mordecai answered bitterly.

Techmo and Mordecai followed the cawing of the crow as it perched itself on the branch of a lofty tree. Techmo saw the opportunity and positioned himself discreetly behind a large rock. Mordecai followed. Techmo raised the scope to his eye, aiming for the prey.

Mordecai stopped him, "Don’t. Gun shot attracts walkers.”

"I know. I’m just, friggin’ hungry.

Suddenly, there was a loud and piercing yell that echoed through the forest, causing the crow to fly away and attracting Mordecai and Techmo's attention.

"Shit! Was that Rigby?!" Techmo shouted.

"I don't know! Come on!"

The two of them scrambled to their feet and scurried into the bushes, towards the source of the noise. They ran through the forest, stopping for a second, only to hear the sharp yell once again. It led them to an opening in the forest where they saw two teenagers assisting a man who was on the ground. One of the teenagers, the gumball machine, looked like Benson, except he was a younger, and orange gumball machine. The older, red-haired, shirtless man, screamed in pain as the other boy, who’s a goat, watched in fear. The older man's left foot had been trapped in a red bear trap, almost camouflaged by all the blood spilling out.

"Jesus Christ…" Techmo expressed, his eyes wide with shock and fear.

Suddenly, the three men noticed them, the gumball machine pleaded with his hands up in the air defensively, "Oh shit! No. No…Please don't kill us! We just want to help Sensai! We'll leave, I swear!"

Suddenly Rigby came running into the clearing, joining the chaotic scene, "Mordecai! You guys okay?" He turned and stared at the scene enfolding among them.

Sensai begged, clutching his knee in pain, "Get it off! Get it off, God Dammit, get this bear trap of death off me!"

The goat spoke up, "Dave, maybe they can help!"

"These might be the same guys that raided our camp and…we barely got away from that!"

Techmo questioned, "What guys?"

Rigby shouted, "Why the fuck is there a bear trap out here?!"

The goat replied, "I don't know man!"

Mordecai asked, "Who raided your camp?!"

"I-I don't know! Guys with guns!" he replied, raising his arms like he was under arrest.

"Please! We won't bother you, I swear!" Dave said.

Techmo turned to Mordecai, "Mordecai, this is fucked up. We've gotta help 'em."

The goat pleaded, "PLEASE!"

Dave half-yelled and half-whispered to him, "Thomas, shut up! My dad was Special Forces, I know what I'm doing!"

Thomas grimaced and ignored him, "Just see if you can get him out! After that you can leave us or whatever, I don't care! Please!"

Mordecai agreed with urgency, "We've gotta get him out of there."

Sensai cried out in pain and relief, "Oh God, thank you!"

Rigby relented, "Fine, but you've gotta hurry!"

"Hurry… please hurry…" Sensai begged as Techmo began to examine the trap.

There was a low moaning combined with slow, dragged steps as a walker emerged from a behind a nearby tree. The group didn't notice.

Techmo looked up from his work, "Mordecai, this trap's been altered. There's no release latch."

The moaning got louder, turning Dave's head towards the noise, his eyes widened, "…Oh, no."

Walkers were beginning to stumble their way towards the group, attracted by the blood that was sweet to them and noise that was music to their ears.

Rigby cursed, "Shit! Walkers! It's now or never, Mordecai."

Sensai cried out weakly, "Please… get me out of this!"

Mordecai stepped closer to the Sensai, "Techmo, get the boys back! Rigby, keep those walkers off of me!"

The scene was becoming more and more chaotic by the second; everyone was speaking all at once. Mordecai knew what Techmo had said, there was no release latch, and he doubted that his axe could cut through that strong chain. He knew what had to be done. Mordecai slowly got off his knees.

"Oh, God." Sensai whispered, understanding the look in Mordecai's eyes.

"I'm gonna have to cut you out."

He frantically refused, shaking his head wildly, "No no no! Try the trap again! Anything, please!"

There was nothing else that he could do, Mordecai raised the axe up high and reluctantly brought the axe down, slashing into the man's leg.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" He screamed, clutching his partially dismembered leg.

The leg wasn't fully cut yet. Mordecai closed his eyes tightly and brought the axe down again. Sensai screamed again. Again he swung the axe. The bloodstain on the grass was getting larger and redder. Mordecai was trying his best to not think about what he was doing as he brought the axe down once more. Finally, the axe carved its way through Sensai's leg. There was a slight sssssssssss as bloody sprayed out. Giving out another yelp of pain, Sensai collapsed. Dave and Techmo looked upon Mordecai's handiwork.

"Oh, God!" Dave expressed, before dashing towards a spot to throw up. Thomas took his spot.

Techmo whispered, "Shit. Is he…?

"He passed out." Mordecai replied.

Mordecai looked down at Sensai, there in the pool of blood, was the red bear trap encasing his discarded leg. Rigby ran forward to them, "If he's alive, grab him and let's go!"

The walkers were gaining in great numbers. Techmo stepped forward and hoisted the unconscious Sensai up onto his back. He and Rigby began walking towards a safer direction. Mordecai turned to Thomas, noticing Dave,

"BEHIND YOU!"

Thomas cried out, "DAVE!"

Dave was wiping his mouth from his spill, confused about the ruckus. Mordecai prevented Thomas from going any further, "Come on, come on! We gotta move!"

Dave turned, remembering the situation, "AHH!"

Several walkers were approaching him, he stupidly inched his way back, his movements impaired by his fear and shock. He clumsily tripped back and hit the floor, staring with wide eyes at his gaining pursuers. He backed up until he collided with a large rock, "HEELLP-AHHHH—ahhhgggrkkk! He shrieked, before three walkers tackled him and began tearing at his throat.

"NOOOO!" Thomas yelled in sorrow as his comrade began to be devoured. One of the walkers stabbed through Dave's abdomen, ripping out an intestine as Dave gave his final and most piercing cry.

Note: I realize the lack logic on Dave's death. He's a gumball machine with intestines. How much sense does that make? None. Oh well. Also, I realize that I typed the word sensei wrong, but in Regular Show, the guy's name is actually Sensai.

Chapter 10: Conversation Killer

Chapter 10: Conversation Killer

During the chaotic scene in the forest clearing, things back at the Travelier Motor Inn were quite calm and peaceful. If it weren't for the deep pang of hunger that all of them felt, they would all probably be somewhat content. Benson hammered with a rock used as a make-shift hammer continuously at the barricade. The barricade had been set up with a bunch of wooden planks, cars, and other useful things they had managed to find in the area. One of them had also been lucky to find some barb wire just for extra protection.

With most of the vehicles and debris out of the way, the lot was quite empty except for the RV and a number of other things, such as a couch, lawn chairs, some barrels, and a large piece of wood that Rancis was creating his art on. On top of the RV, dangerously perched a lawn chair that was used for lookout duty. At the moment, Margaret was on guard, her rifle by her side. Eileen paced towards Rancis to check up on him while Vanellope absentmindedly and repeatedly kicked a soccer ball they had scavenged at the empty barrels. When they had arrived at the motor inn three months earlier, the balcony had collapsed, but the group had found some tools and adhesives and restored it to the best of their ability.

Margaret looked around the lot; first at Rancis and Eileen, then Vanellope, then her eyes rested upon Benson who she smiled fondly at. Suddenly, there was a loud rustling in the leaves, turning Margaret's head. She curiously peered into the leaves, reaching for her rifle and getting ready to shoot. As she concentrated on aiming, the sound of Vanellope's soccer ball colliding with the barrels and bouncing back over and over again became like a loud metronome. Margaret looked down at her group and whistled, giving the signal that there might be danger lurking. Everyone ducked down. It was quiet, with only the faint sound of winds through the leaves.

Suddenly, Mordecai emerged from the brush, surprising Margaret. He began dashing towards the make-shift gates, "Get the gates open! We've got wounded."

Margaret cursed, placing her weapon back down, "Shit. What the hell are they doing?" She scooted off the roof of the RV, heading over to Mordecai and the newcomers. The rest of the group gathered by him as the scene became messy as everyone began talking at once, wondering what was going on. Eileen ordered, "Get him into the truck, I'll see what I can do."

"Eileen, can you fix him?" Rigby asked worriedly.

"Jesus, Rigby! I…I don't know!"

They were interrupted by the loud and frustrated call of Margaret's voice, "Mordecai! Mordecai! What the hell?! You can't just be bringing new people here! What are you thinking?!"

Rigby retorted, "Hey, you wanna calm down for a fucking minute?!

Benson spat, "Hey! Watch your mouth!"

Margaret replied angrily, before turning to Mordecai, "No, I don't! I want to know why you thought bringing more mouths to feed was a good idea!"

"Jesus Christ." Techmo expressed.

"He would have died, if we left him!" Mordecai explained in his defense, his brow furrowing.

Benson scoffed, "So what?"

Margaret shot back at Mordecai, "We are NOT responsible for every struggling survivor we come across! WE have to focus on OUR group! Right here. Right now."

CJ spoke, in Mordecai’s defense. “Well hang on, we haven’t even talked to these people yet. Maybe they can be helpful.”

Techmo cut in, also defending Mordecai, "Come on, Margaret. These are people! People trying to survive just like us. We've gotta stick together to survive!"

"The only reason you're here is because you had food. Enough for ALL of us. But that food is almost gone, we've got maybe a week's worth left." Margaret replied, turning to the Thomas, "And I don't suppose you guys are carrying any groceries, are you?!"

Thomas nervously answered, "Uh…no?"

Techmo relented, "Fine. You guys fight it out then. Welcome to the family, Kid."

While Techmo was speaking, Vanellope had walked towards Thomas, attempting to get him away from the big argument, "Come here and talk to your pal, Vanellope." She requested, tugging on his hand.

"What? No, I-"

"Move your molasses" she pressed, pulling him towards the drawing board.

Rigby continued the argument, "You know, you like to think you are the leader of this little group, but we can make our own goddamn decisions! This isn't your own personal dictatorship!"

“Oh, come on, you’re being dramatic!” CJ snapped. Rigby and Margaret turned their attention towards CJ with scowls on their faces. “Everything always turns into a power struggle between you two. I’m not gonna be a part of that!”

"Hey, I didn't ask to lead this group! Everyone was happy to have me distributing the food when there was enough to go around. Now that it's running out, suddenly, I'm a goddamn Nazi!"

Mordecai stepped in, "Rigby's right. Yeah you’re in charge of the food and the schedules, but you’re not in charge of people’s lives."

Rigby decided to defend his friend. “You weren’t there. Mordecai made a choice. End of story.” He then stormed away from the argument.

"Look, once Eileen patches up that guy, send them out on there own. I couldn’t care less, but they at least deserve a fighting chance against the walkers.” said Mordecai. “And for the record, Rigby wanted to leave those people behind.”

“If Rigby would get his head out of his ass, he’d see that I make these decisions to protect HIS family!” Margaret barked in defense. “We simply don’t have enough food to go around.”

Benson cut in, "I don't see any of you stepping up to make the hard decisions! Margaret’s got more balls than all of you combined!"

"Benson, please. Why don't you go help Techmo with the wall?"

Benson heeded and grumpily stalked off to assist Techmo fortify the place. Margaret continued to speak to Mordecai, "You know what? If you think I’m doing such a shitty job, then you do it.” She headed over to a small child's backpack placed next to the RV's left front wheel and reached in, rummaging around for a moment. She pulled out only four food items. “Here’s today’s rations. That’s all we got.

“Margaret-” Mordecai started to object, before Margaret cut him off.

"No, I’m serious.” Margaret sneered. “Pick up that food and start handing over. YOU see how it feels to not have enough food to go around.”

Mordecai angrily nodded, entrusted with the task of giving out four food items for ten hungry people. Even a person who got the food item would still be hungry because of the lack of it. In his hands, he held a thin piece of beef jerky, two crackers and cheeses, and half an apple. In another life not so long ago, these would've called snacks. But now they were what the group had to keep going another long day. He remorsefully put them in his pockets and looked up. Everyone was looking at him silently, having gone a long time without proper food. This made it even tougher. Mordecai could understand how Margaret must've felt each day handing out so little rations to so many people. He thought about Vanellope first and strode over to her. Mordecai approached Vanellope.

Something looked off about Vanellope. Mordecai carefully observed his young charge and noticed that her hair was not in a ponytail. She always wore her hair in a ponytail. For some strange reason, her hair tie wasn't present.

“How are you doing Vanellope?”

“Not so good.” said Vanellope. “I lost my hair tie.”

“Bummer.” Mordecai muttered.

“Can you look for it for me?” she asked.

“Yeah, I can do that.”

“Thanks, Mordy.” Vanellope replied with a smile. "I look weird with my hair down."

Mordecai silently disagreed to this and decided to change the subject. He went up to her for one particular reason.

"Here Vanellope, you need something to eat?"

She had an eager, innocent, and patient look in her eyes. Mordecai handed her one of the food items, the apple.

She took it gratefully, "Awesome! Thanks for the apple, stinkbrain!”

Mordecai smiled. “No problem, Vanellope.”

He got back on his feet and left Vanellope. There were still three pieces of food left. Mordecai walked over to Rancis, who was relaxing by the board.

"Hey, Rancis, how about a little food?"

Rancis sat up from his laying position and grinned from ear to ear, eager and joyful to have something to eat.

Mordecai reached into his pocket and pulled out a thing of crackers and cheese, "Here."

Rancis smiled big and reached for the food item, "Yeah! Oh, man. I'm so hungry!"

There were still two pieces of food left. Mordecai walked back over to the group of three by the drawing board.

Now that Rancis was taken care of, Mordecai casually made his way over to Rigby who was toying with his pipe. Mordecai asked him if Rigby wanted some food, "How about my boy? He eat yet?"

"Yeah, I gave him something." Mordecai answered as he gave Rigby the jerky.

"Sure, then hand it over, I'm starved. Thanks." Rigby smiled graciously, taking up Mordecai's offer on food. Mordecai felt the eyes of everyone else on his back as he gave Rigby the second last food item. Mordecai felt his pocket and pulled out the last food item, it was the last crackers and cheese of the day. He had to make a choice, should he keep the last piece of food for himself? Or should he save the piece for someone else?

After a moment of thinking, he said to nobody in particular, "Nah. Some of these people have gone longer than me without food. They're the ones that need it."

Mordecai contemplated whom the last food item should go to, he considered the newcomer, Thomas, but he wasn't quite sure if Thomas deserved the food seeing as he was new. He looked over to Eileen, who was working carefully on Sensai's leg, but decided that she could last a little longer. Mordecai noticed the barricade that was potentially saving all their lives, "Sturdy, but it's not gonna hold up forever, just like the rest of this place." He commented in a monologue.

Mordecai spotted Techmo and Benson working on the barricade, when he heard Benson shout, "Will you hold the damned boards steady?!"

"I'm trying. I didn't realize I was getting this weak already."

"What do you want? A hand out? I've got 60 cents in my pocket if you'll shut up and quit being such a pansy."

Mordecai grimaced; Benson wasn't exactly his favorite in the group. If Techmo was getting weaker without food, then it would be best to give him some to conserve his energy. He walked over to Techmo, who turned and nodded at him in acknowledgment. Mordecai offered the last food item, "Here, eat something." Techmo smiled slightly at the idea of eating.

"Thanks, Mordecai." Techmo expressed with gratitude.

"Need any help with the wall?"

Benson cut in rudely, "Nope."

"Actually, we could use your axe. You mind if we take it?

Benson agreed, contradicting his previous statement, "Yeah, give us that thing for a bit."

They both held their hands out for it. Mordecai didn't really trust Benson with an axe, in case he decided to go psycho, so he handed Techmo the weapon, now tool, "Here Techmo. This should help."

"Thanks."

Benson growled, "Hey, I'm the one doing all the work over here. You didn't think to give me the axe?"

"Come on, Benson, give it a rest. Being an asshole is outdated." Techmo blurted out.

“Ohh, is that what you think this is?” Benson asked with a glare. Benson turned to Mordecai and sneered, "Is that what you told him?"

"Yeah, that's right." Mordecai glared back.

"And what are you gonna do about it?" Benson threatened, stepping closer.

Techmo intervened, "Look, I don't care what it is, but you two have got to start trying to get along."

"The only thing I ‘have’ to do is protect Margaret. And right now, that means getting this damn wall fixed so I'd appreciate it if you two would shut up and let me get back to work." Benson retorted.

Mordecai looked at Techmo, shaking his head in disapproval. Techmo looked down.

There was no food left for today. Mordecai made his way back to Margaret who was still standing on guard duty. She watched as he approached and nodded, "Not such an easy job, is it?" She asked with a softer tone in her voice.

"I don't envy you. I don't know how you have the strength to do this every day."

"I don't have a choice."

Rigby placed his pipe by his side on the couch and stepped up to Mordecai, "Hey, thanks for looking out for me and my family…"

"Yeah, of course."

"Still, I guess some people aren't gonna be happy with your choices."

Mordecai looked down, when suddenly a loud, angry, and familiar voice boomed from behind him, "You're out?! What happened to my food?!"

Mordecai turned to see Benson stomping up to him, "There's none left."

"You keep treating people like this and your days in this group are numbered!"

Rigby cut in, "You're one to talk, asshole."

"Yeah, well I don't see you working on that wall!" Benson snarled, before heading back to Techmo's side.

Rigby strode back over to his seat on the couch, when suddenly Eileen's voice rang out, "Rigby! Mordecai! Come here, please."

Rigby and Mordecai walked over; Rigby asked sadly, "He didn't make it, did he?"

"He…lost too much blood."

"God dammit." Rigby cursed, before throwing down the pipe, making a loud clanging noise before it settled on the ground. He walked away.

"Rigby, come back, there's nothing…"

"Let him go, Eileen."

"But-"

"He just needs time. It's been a rough morning."

"That man you brought… I tried, but he was never going to survive."

"Well… at least he's not our problem anymore."

Eileen paused, and turned to look at Thomas who was silently watching Vanellope and Rancis talking, "What about the other kid?"

Mordecai was about to reply, when suddenly there was a loud groaning and snarl from behind Eileen. A pair of rough and pale white claw-like hands reached up and grabbed her from behind, attempting to chomp at her head.

"Shit! Eileen!" Mordecai swore, trying to force the previously alive Sensai away from her.

Why the hell did he come back?! Mordecai thought, I don't remember him getting bit…

The highly increased decomposition rate of these things always got him, it had only been a few minutes since he had passed away if Eileen had immediately told him and Rigby when Sensai was lost. Even so, Sensai had already begun to look extremely pale and sick in the face. His eyes were white as if they had either lost their irises in conversion or their eyes had rolled towards the back of their heads.

He managed to shove it off of her, before turning towards Techmo and Benson, "The axe! Hurry!"

Suddenly Mordecai yelped as the walker changed its target to him. He managed to strategically place his hands on the walker's shoulders, keeping it a large but still dangerous distance from him. The distance between the hungry walker and Mordecai became uncomfortably closer and closer. Mordecai rammed the walker's head into the side of the truck, leaving a large stain. He kept repeating the action, hoping to kill it but to no avail.

Suddenly, Mordecai turned to the side and saw Techmo rush in with the axe, "MOVE! MOVE!"

Mordecai quickly used his strength and shoved the walker against the back of the truck cab.

Techmo swung but had timed it horribly, missing it breaking the glass, "SHIT! It's stuck!" He frantically began to pry it from its lodged position.

The walker took no notice of Techmo and resumed its attack on Mordecai, inching its way closer. Mordecai reflexively braced his foot against the chest of the thing, keeping it away from him. He kicked it, but the walker fell back going for his foot instead. Mordecai grunted and repeatedly kicked it until it once again collided with the back of the truck.

Techmo continued to pry the weapon out and the walker continued its pursuit. Even missing a limb, the beast was still dangerous. Mordecai quickly backed up, until he didn't feel metal underneath him and fell back onto the hard concrete of the parking lot, landing on his side. He turned to face back up again and just in time, because the walker had mimicked his movements and fell on top of Mordecai. Mordecai's hands held the walker's head away from him. His thumbs thrust and squished through its dead, white eyes, leaving a wet substance that wasn't white, but dark red.

CJ approached Mordecai and the walker, cocking her gun.

“Shoot it!” shouted Mordecai. Mordecai shoved it to the side, before CJ pulled the trigger, creating a gun shot wound in the walker’s head and effectively killing it. "Thanks."

"No problem.”

During that sentence, Benson had stalked up towards the pair, his eyes bulging with anger, "Why'd ya bring him here in the first place, asshole?!"

Margaret ran up to him, trying to intervene, "Benson, calm down!"

He paid no notice to her, "You're gonna get us ALL killed!"

Rigby remembered Thomas, stomping up to him, "Why didn't you tell us he was bitten?!"

"What?!"

"He was bitten and you didn't say a goddamn word!"

"But he wasn't bitten! I swear!"

"Well your ‘not-bitten’ friend here came back to life and tried to kill my wife!" Rigby steamed.

"What?! Wait, y'all don't know?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" The whole group's attention turned to Thomas, the spotlight now on him.

"It's not the bite that does it! "

There was silence in response, either for him to continue or they were in shock.

"You come back no matter how you die." Thomas continued, "If you don't destroy the brain, that's just what happens. It's gonna happen to ALL of us."

Mordecai thought out loud, "You're lying."

"It's true! I swear it!"

Eileen agreed with the idea, "Maybe he's right. I didn't see any bites. It would explain why there's so many of em."

Rigby expressed, worry creasing his brow, "Jesus Christ. If you just, DIE and that's all it takes, then shit, one fatal car wreck and a family of five turns into a family of walkers."

Thomas continued his story, "When I first saw it happen, we were all hiding out in a gym and everybody thought we were finally safe. But one of the girls, Jenny Pitcher I think, I guess she couldn't take it. She took some pills. A lot of them. Someone went into the girls' room the next morning and...God…"

Suddenly, CJ yelled, bursting the tensed mood of the group, and surprising everyone, "Back off!" She warned, aiming her gun at two young men. The two men's eyes had large bags underneath them, suggesting that they were exhausted and needing of some good night sleep. The closest one has pale red skin and is a tall, plump, grown man. He’s wearing a white tank top and brown jeans and is bald. The other man is a green man with shoulder-length, greenish-brown hair. He is also fat and has large breasts. He wears a long-sleeved grayish-blue shirt, dark gray pants, and black shoes.

The two men raised their hands defensively and explained, "Woah, lady, relax!" Me and my bro, we… we just want to know if ya'll can help us out."

CJ didn't budge, "I said back off!"

Margaret went up to her and mumbled, "…CJ…"

Mordecai spoke up, "You're outnumbered here, just turn around and go back."

The man carrying the gas can raised it, "Okay that's fine. But you'd really be helping out a fellow survivor if you could part with some extra gas before we leave…"

CJ questioned loudly, "Why do you need gas?"

The gas can man's brother answered her question, "Our place is protected by an electric fence. Generators provide the electricity…" Benson seemed impressed by the idea, his face perking up and looking at the reactions of the others.

The other man continued, "Our generators run on gas. Look, we own a dairy farm a few miles up the road. If ya'll be willing to lower your guns, we can talk about some kind of trade."

The brother indirectly suggested, worry slightly in his tone, "How are ya'll doing on food? We got plenty at the dairy."

The group's eyes widened and looked around at each other at the word, "food". The empty and dead feeling each and every one of the survivors in their group all felt in their stomachs suddenly felt even stronger.

Margaret was hungry but she at least had enough judgment left in her to not be galloping towards the supposed dairy, "Mordecai, why don't you and Techmo check the place out, see if it's legit."

CJ pocketed her weapon, "I'm going with you. I got your back if anything seems fishy."

The pair outside the motor inn's barricaded walls asked, "So what are ya'll thinking?"

Everybody glanced at each other, should they go to the dairy? Or was that just the hunger trying to persuade them? Mordecai was just as hungry as everyone else. He decided to vote for going to the dairy, "You got a deal. We’ll bring SOME gas to your dairy, in exchange, you give us some of your food.”

“It’s a plan then.” said the bald man.

After a little travel, the group that went with the brothers were tromping through the woods and on their way to the dairy.

"So, this dairy… you guys really have food?" Techmo wondered curiously.

The two brothers, who introduced themselves as John and Mitch (aka Muscle Man), guided Thomas, Techmo, Mordecai, and CJ through an open pathway that zigzagged through the vibrant forest. The season was autumn right now, from the looks of the colorful leaves on the thick branches of the trees. There was a nice breeze in the air, the atmosphere seemed to relax the group, before they remembered to keep their guard up.

"Sure do. We've lost most of the cattle, but we still have lots of milk, butter and cheese stocked up." John replied.

Muscle Man continued, "And with the vegetables we grow, we've got plenty of food." Muscle Man then looked at John with a grin on his face. "You know who else got a lot of milk, butter and cheese stocked up?" Techmo and Thomas stared at the brothers with blank eyes. "MY MOM!" He then guffawed out loud and gave John a high five.

They continued talking about the dairy and its claimed food supply while Mordecai and CJ trailed behind a safe distance. CJ began, "It's nice to get away from that motel for a while. This Margaret/Rigby thing is starting to get ridiculous. Personally I'd be happier if you started to take charge more."

"You think they'd want me for a leader?"

"Sure. Everybody looks up to you." She reassured, her eyes beaming.

"Well… not everyone thinks I'm so trustworthy."

"Because of your past?" She inquired, her tone becoming more serious, "Does anyone else know?"

"Benson knows."

"Great, that can't be easy."

"Vanellope knows. She was the first one I told my secret to.” Mordecai continued, his voice trailing off at the end.

"What exactly DID happen with the senator?"

"You know what happened…"

"I only know what the news said. I don't know your story."

"Sometimes I wonder if I should talk to the group about it…"

"You don't have to. Whatever happened before things went to hell doesn't matter anymore."

"Not sure everyone would see it that way."

"Maybe you're right. Listen, over the years I've seen some pretty messed up shit. I've seen situations like yours a hundred times; it doesn't have to make you a bad man…"

"I really appreciate that."

The conversation between the two ended but the larger group ahead's dragged on; Techmo was in the middle of his story, "…I mean, thank god Mordecai showed up when he did! Right Mordecai?"

John peeked over his shoulder and slowed his pace, matching it with Mordecai's, "Yeah, why don't you tell us a little more about yourself, Mordecai?"

Muscle Man also slowed down and both of them were on each of Mordecai's sides, "Where are ya from?"

"I grew up in Macon." Mordecai replied.

"Right in the Heart of Georgia, that's what I like to hear!" John smiled, taking note, "Y'all seem pretty settled in at that motor inn. Who's running things over there?"

"I am. If you guys have any questions, you come to me."

CJ smiled, happy that Mordecai was beginning to take charge.

Muscle Man questioned, "How many people ya got over there anyway?"

Mordecai answered, deciding not to give a specific number, "Enough to defend ourselves."

"Well that's good! It's getting dangerous out there, well, you guys know." John commented, "Well, we'd love to get ya all out to the dairy. Like I said, we've got plenty of food, and quite frankly, we could always use an extra helping hand."

Thomas, overhearing the statement, peered behind him, "In the summers, I used to help out on a cow farm."

"Yeah, that's great. Everything helps!" Muscle Man nodded.

"Momma's been running the dairy for as long as I can remember but now it's gettin-" John began, before being suddenly cut off by a booming and angry voice, "You think you're gonna cut me out of this?!"

John ordered with a whisper, "Shit! Get down!"

The group stealthily crept over to the source of the noise, there were two men bickering. These fellows would've been considered normal on first glance, if it weren't for the intimidating black ski-masks they wore. "No one is trying to cut you out of anything!"

The two men continued to argue with each other. Muscle Man cursed, "Fuckin' bandits."

"Who?"

Thomas whispered, "Those look like the people who raided my camp."

Mordecai turned to John, "Who are they?"

"Shh. Fucking assholes is who they are."

CJ examined the scene, "There's only two of them."

Muscle Man disagreed, "Oh no, lady, there's a lot more…"

The two bandits seemed to be angrily disputing about food. It wasn't hard to hear them from their loud and furious voices. The argument began to increase.

"…Yeah, and you know what, we ate it all! What are you gonna fucking do about it?"

John reassured the hiding group, "Don't worry. Muscle Bro and I have ya covered if something happens, but let's just wait this out and hope they move on."

All of a sudden, one of the bandits burst and raised his leg up to his chest and struck the other one. "FUCK YOU!" Then, he aimed his weapon and shot the man in the head. Thomas gasped. The wounded bandit fell to the ground limply, obviously dead. But that wasn't enough for the other one; he stomped over to the corpse and began to repeatedly shoot the man's already dead body, "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!"

The group couldn't believe their eyes. CJ expressed, "Jesus..."

Then the bandit seemed to be satisfied and began to walk away, only to peer over his shoulder, "Asshole."

John shook his head remorsefully, "The world out here has gone to shit. Come on, let's get to the dairy where it's safe."

The group heeded his suggestion and they began to follow him away. Mordecai stood there for a moment, glancing at the dead man who wouldn't become a walker. Then, he turned to catch up with his comrades.

They continued along the long and winding pathway through the forest. The remainder of the trip was mostly silent, except for a few mumbles and fumbles. It wasn't too long before they reached the boundaries of the dairy.

Chapter 11: Thank You for Shopping at Save Lots

"Here it is. Sorrenstein's family dairy." John expressed with the pride of a parent showing off an extremely gifted child.

The dairy seemed quite cozy for a post-apocalypse world. It was nice and open, with plenty of crops and scenery. The group walked past a large hand-crafted sign, it was white and shaped like a shield that had been stretched horizontally. In big, green letters it read, SORRENSTEIN DAIRY. Underneath this title was a picture of a cow and three stars. There were also white letters underneath the shield that displayed a phone number, 555-0199, and the words, DAILY FARM TOURS.

John gestured towards the electric fence that surrounded the perimeter of the farm, "You ladies can see how we've kept this place so safe."

Techmo questioned, "The fence keeps them out?"

"You betcha. They fry like bugs in a zapper. We're pushing 4000 volts through that thing, with generators and amps."

"I'm going to assume that's a lot…" CJ said, not one at all for technical things.

The fence didn't seem too complex. It was wooden beams every meter or so and in between them was thin and long metal wires.

Mordecai commented positively, "This is a really brilliant set up."

John replied, with a smile on his face, "Suits us just fine."

CJ also gave her opinion, "This place looks untouched! You'd never know the rest of the world is in ruins."

"It's worth protecting, hence all the juice."

A woman with red, poofy hair joined the party, "I thought I saw ya'll with company comin' down the drive!" In her hands, she lightly swung a basket from side to side.

John introduced the group to the new woman, "Guys, this is our mom."

"I'm Muscle Mom and welcome to the Sorrenstein Dairy!"

Muscle Mom was roughly around the same body size as her two sons. There was a large resemblance in the expressions of the Sorrensteins. They all had dark bags underneath their eyes and on all their faces were an uncanny and big smile. She's wearing a salmon colored sweatshirt with a pair of maroon pants. Like Muscle Man, she has green skin.

"This here's Mordecai. He's from Macon." John explained with a chuckle.

"A couple of our old farm hands were from Macon. They grow 'em good there."

Muscle Man spoke to his mother, "They've got a few more friends staying at the old motel."

"Oh my goodness, that place is pretty vulnerable. Have you got someone with survival experience to lead your group?"

Mordecai reassured her, "I've got things under control over there."

"Well, I hope you know what you're doing. That place isn't safe like it is here. Now that y'all are here, we'll make sure you're safe and comfortable." She replied with a friendly grin.

Mordecai mumbled, "We're awful hungry."

Muscle Mom gestured to her basket and offered it to the hungry group, "These are for ya'll. Baked fresh this morning." Inside the basket were a huge amount of bread that looked tasty to the eye. It was strange how Brenda seemed to know that their group would be coming but the sight of delicious food to eat clouded their judgment.

"Amazing!" CJ expressed, obvious hunger in her eyes.

Muscle Man grinned, "You wanna know who else was baked fresh this morning? MY MOM!!"

Muscle Mom had laughed at the joke despite it being directed towards her. Afterwards, she shrugged it off and continued talking. "Hopefully Maybelle will make it through this bout of whatever she's got and be with us for a good-long while."

Mordecai wondered worriedly, "Your cow is sick? What's she—"

Techmo cut him off, jumping forward and appearing out of nowhere, "We have a vet! We could bring her here! We can help you folks out."

"A vet! Oh, my! Our prayers have been answered!" Muscle Mom exclaimed, her eyes perking up.

"Maybe our whole GROUP could come…for the day…"

"Well how about this, ya'll go get your veterinary friend, and I prepare some dinner. A big feast for all you hungry souls." Muscle Mom suggested, "It'll be nice to have some folks to help out around here again. Mitch, why don't you come help me out in the kitchen."

Muscle Man nodded silently and slumped off with Muscle Mom towards the large and beautiful white farmhouse. It seemed even bigger than Ralph's house.

CJ suggested, "Why don't I head back with the food and round up everyone for the trip back here."

"You might wanna take someone with you. Remember, those roads can be dangerous."

"I can handle myself."

Techmo handed her his rifle, "Take this. Why don't you go ahead and take Thomas along anyway."

CJ nodded, before turning to Mordecai, "Take care of yourself, Mordecai. See ya in a while."

CJ and Thomas began to stride back down the winding path once more and back to the motor inn where everyone was waiting for their return. Soon enough, they could no longer be seen, disappearing into the maze of a forest.

"Techmo, Mordecai, why don't ya take a look around. Once ya get settled in, I could use some help securin' the perimeter."

"Is there a problem?" Mordecai wondered.

"Sometimes, the dead get tangled up in the fence before they fry and end up knocking over a post. It'd be a big help if you two could walk the perimeter. You can learn a lil somethin' about our fence. I'm gonna go top off the generators before they run dry. Come get me when you're ready."

"You betcha." Techmo replied a little too late, "This place is INCREDIBLE! It's got food! And that fence…oh man that fence! If we play our cards right, this might turn out to be a place we can stay. So how do you want to play this?"

"Before we can think about bringing our whole group here to stay, we need to figure out if this place is as safe as they're telling us."

"Right. Obviously THEY think it's safe, but is it safe enough for the kids? I noticed a broken swing over there." Techmo gestured towards a small wooden swing that the seat was split in half, "Not a big deal, but maybe there's other things not working that we just can't see yet."

"And checking the fence perimeter sounds like a decent way to get a good look at their defenses."

"All right, I'll keep my eyes open and you find out what you can from John."

Mordecai pushed open the metal gate, letting him and Techmo through. Techmo began examining the electric fence that was supposedly keeping the dairy farmers alive. Mordecai made his way over to John who was bent low over, intently working on a bright yellow and orange generator. When Mordecai reached his destination, John noticed him and got to his feet, "Hi."

"Hi…"

John grinned, "Well I'm glad you guys decided to help us out. I noticed back at the motel that you folks are pretty well armed. You been stockpiling, huh?"

"We've scraped together a good supply in the last few months. How about yourselves? What kind of protection do you have around here?"

"We've collected a few guns to protect ourselves, but we really only use em' when we go off the property. When we're inside the perimeter, the fence is all we need to keep us safe."

"An electric fence is enough to keep out walkers?"

"Walkers? Is that what you call them? That's good. The old one wouldn't have, but Mac – he was our foreman – he figured out how to amp it up with the generators. We used to sit out here some nights and watch the sons o' bitches sizzle and pop when they got too close. Closet thing to entertainment these days, I guess." He smirked.

"These generators are enough to power the whole dairy?"

"We got lots. And we gotta keep trading for fuel as much as we can. But they all work together to do the trick. Like us." John explained.

"We can't be the first people you've invited up to the dairy."

"Well, no. We've made similar deals with other folks, trading for gas and food, but ultimately they moved on, looking for the people they lost contact with."

"Techmo and I can help you with that perimeter now." As if on cue, Techmo appeared by Mordecai's side.

"Oh, good. The fence stops a walker in about three or four seconds, but gets overloaded if we leave the husks out there."

"You know, Techmo and I can clear the fence ourselves if you want to stay here and finish up with the generators."

"Well, that'd be great! I'll turn off the northwest section, and if you guys could strip 'em off and look for any weak points, that'd be a big help."

"Sounds easy enough."

"Stay attentive, ya never know." John warned, squinting his eyes as Mordecai and Techmo nodded in agreement and began to head over to the designated area.

The duo strolled past the wooden gates and down the clear pathway towards the designated area of work. They made small chat, talking about the motel, the farm, and whatnot. The farm was quite large, extending its reach over the vast and broad field of plentiful corn and tall grass.

"So how's the place looking?" Techmo began, "Is it safe enough for us to stay…if we can?"

"Yeah, it's pretty amazing what they've done with this dairy. But let's see what it takes to secure this fence before drawing any conclusions."

"I can't wait until everyone's out here. Everyone besides Benson…" Techmo shook his head.

Mordecai remembered the morning's incident the moment Techmo mentioned Benson's name, "Why the hell did you have to tell him I thought he's an asshole? As if tensions weren't high enough!"

Techmo flinched, diverting his gaze to the ground quickly, "Sorry man! It just…popped out!"

"That guy’s a piece of shit anyway." Mordecai muttered angrily.

"Relax. Riling him isn’t gonna solve anything."

They dropped the subject when they spotted one of the husks that John was talking about. The corpse was collapsed limply on top of the fence's wire, dragging it down slightly under its heavy weight. There was a strange and long arrow that stuck out of its neck. A pitch-black crow balanced on its shoulder, nonchalantly pecking into its rotten and ash-burnt skin. It flew off to a certain direction when it noticed the twos' presence.

"There's one. Eeugh." Techmo voiced, implying the obvious.

Mordecai stopped in front of it, squinting at the dead thing. He kicked it lightly with his foot, just in case.

"Mordecai, it's dead." Techmo sighed.

"Come on, let's push it off."

Mordecai noticed a light bulb protruding from some of the wooden posts, Techmo saw him staring at it and commented, "And said, when this fence is working, the walkers go up like a tree branch on a power line. If those lights are out that means the fence is off, right?"

"It'd better be."

Mordecai returned his attention to the dead walker, he took his axe and pushed the thing, but it wouldn't budge a bit. "Looks like he's stuck."

He remembered the arrow stuck into the walker's dead flesh, making a disgusted face before grasping the arrow's shaft. He tore the thing out, "Disgusting."

Mordecai once again attempted to slide the husk off the electrical wire, this time it succeeded and fell to the ground with a thump. "Come on, I'm sure there's still a few more."

The pair continued their talk, Techmo started, "Once this fence is patched up, this place'll be a fortress! God, can you imagine not having to worry about the walkers anymore?

"It's useless without gas. We might need food, but the Sorrensteins need gas too."

"Not many drivers these days, Mordecai. We could scrounge up a year's worth of gas, easy." Techmo pointed out, noticing Mordecai’s ambivalence, "So what's your take on the brothers? They seem to have this place tied down pretty well."

“What do you mean?”

“I’m just saying, I’ve got your back if things run amuck with the Sorrensteins.”

"There's another one." Mordecai gestured with his eyes.

"I see it."

This walker hung off the fence from the outside, its head dipping low towards the ground. Without its arms supporting the corpse, it would've surely knocked over the fence itself. Mordecai bent low and pushed the walker off of its leaning position. Mordecai knew that if the farm were to become a permanent shelter, this would become a routine. It fell back, but there was no thump because it still hung off the wire by the tips of its hands, its posture looked like a triangle. Mordecai grunted and swung the axe, being careful not to chop the wire. He cut through its wrist, causing the walker to go into an awkward position. Cutting through the other wrist, it hit the ground.

"Ya never get used to the smell, do you?" Techmo muttered, his nose scrunching up in distaste.

"Nope." Mordecai replied with a chuckle, popping his "p" sound.

They turned and continued their way along the fence's perimeter.

"Christ, I can't stop thinking about dinner." Techmo expressed, a hungry look on his face, "Thanks for the rations earlier. It's not easy eating in front of the kids, but it's all that's keeping me on my feet right now."

"I'm hungry too, dude."

"Do you think they're gonna be good for it? Dinner for a whole group of people?"

"If they've got as much food as they say, I think so."

They resumed their walk, until Techmo suddenly spoke up, "Come on, I think I see where they're getting in. This one must've knocked it over trying to get through. He's tangled up in there pretty good. Come on; help me get this thing back in place so we can get Mr. Crispy off of there."

Techmo was right about his observations, the fence had been toppled over, knocking it outwards. In the midst of the chaos of wires, there was a walker ensnared.

"I think we'd get better leverage from the other side." Mordecai suggested.

"Good idea." Techmo agreed, before leaping right over the heap of electrical wires. He regained his composure and positioned himself under the wooden fence post to the left.

Mordecai glanced at the zombie's corpse, thinking, before Techmo interrupted his thoughts, "If you're waiting for that guy to help, it ain't gonna happen. Come on."

Mordecai sighed. Unlike Techmo, Mordecai took his time and carefully placed his foot inside each of the gaps between the wires before making it over. He placed himself at the opposite fence post. They worked as a team, slowly heaving the fence off its side and straight back up. Techmo grinned.

All of a sudden, sparks shot out of the walker's body as the fence lamp bulbs blinked on with a electrical ssssssss. "Holy fuck! What just happened?!" Techmo exclaimed, flinching away just in time from the fence.

Realization hit Mordecai like a frisbee to the fence, "The fences are on!"

"Why the hell would he turn the fence on! He knows we're out here!" Techmo questioned with disbelief.

Mordecai was about to answer when out of the blue, a large arrow identical to the previous one shot forward from the woods and pierced Techmo's shoulder. "AGHHH!" He clutched his bleeding limb."

There was an angry, booming voice that echoed from the forest, "I told you what would happen, you son of a bitch!"

"What the-?"

Mordecai ducked down, looking around his surroundings for what to do. Arrows were flying through the air, nearly missing the pair. "Get to the gate!" he ordered.

They turned to run but were blocked off when arrows hit the ground in front of them, expectant of their plan. With no other choice, Mordecai ordered Techmo to follow him to the rusty tractor in front of them, "Get down!"

"You assholes!" The voice barked as arrows continued to soar through the air.

"JESUS!" Techmo yelped.

They made it safely behind the tractor, taking refuge from the flying projectiles. Mordecai peeked up from the top of the tractor, noticed many black silhouettes running about in the forest. He ducked just in time from a wooden missile-like arrow.

"We had an agreement! Now you're fucked!"

"Who the fuck is that?!" Techmo grunted in pain.

"No idea!" Mordecai exclaimed

"Fuck! Now what?!"

"With the fence on, that gate is our only way out!"

"Can't hide forever!" a voice yelled from the woods.

He hid behind the tractor again, deciding to look to the right of the tractor.

"Behind the tractor!" shouted another voice.

To the right of the tractor were thick, red plows that dug deeply into the dark soil. Mordecai pulled lever which controlled the plows, freeing them from their earthy prison.

"I see ya!" A bandit yelled, before firing an arrow that bounced off the plows, nearly hitting Mordecai. He flinched away and ducked back behind their make-shift shelter. He looked over to the left of the tractor, noticing a metal chock preventing the movement of the mobile.

"I can do this ALL day!"

Careful to not waste any time, Mordecai lunged forward and removed the metal wedge from the tractor's pathway. Slowly but surely, the tractor began to move down the slightly downhill ground.

"C'mon, if we can reach the gate, we can get through this fence and back to the house." said Mordecai.

"Aghh! Shit, that hurts!" Techmo winced, suffering from his inflicted shoulder. The two of them slowly kept in time with the tractor's pace. Arrows still continued to strike the tractor and repel off of it.

"They're on the move!"

"It ain't right, we had a deal! Give us the food!"

"Where's our food you assholes?!"

"Did you really think you could fuck with us?!"

Suddenly, the tractor decided to make a chock out of a walker's corpse that had happened to be laying there.

"What happened?" Techmo questioned.

"Shit. It's one of the dead we pushed down earlier." Mordecai stated, looking down at one of the corpses. "I'm gonna have to move it."

“Try to lure them in the open!” a bandit hollered.

Mordecai carefully duck walked towards the corpse, keeping his head up high and his eyes peeled. "Eeenngh…" he grunted, pulling the thing towards him and swinging it far off the course of the tractor. With the obstacle out of the way, the tractor continued to move. The voices in the forest became more agitated and irritated as they got closer to the gate. Then, the tractor's wheel collided with another of the walkers.

"Another one? How many of those things did we push down?!" Techmo wondered exasperatedly.

Mordecai repeated his actions, getting a good grip on the walker's hand. All of a sudden, the walker's other hand thrust towards Mordecai, grabbing a hold of his wrist, growling. "Shit!" The walker pulled Mordecai's hands in too close for comfort. His eyes were wide with fear and shock, struggling to break free of the zombie's hold. Mordecai kicked it in the face twice, before the walker once again brought Mordecai's wrists closer. He fought back, resisting the strength of it. All of a sudden, there was a sickeningly rip and crunch as Mordecai ripped the walker's torso from its legs, leaving a dark blood trail. It seemed to not even notice or be affected by the loss of its lower body, choosing food over limbs. It seemed strange to call it a walker now that it had no legs, so he settled for crawler. Now that half of the crawler's weight had been subtracted, Mordecai was able to easily fling the abomination away from him. But not that far away from him. It landed on the ground with a disgusting splat.

"You okay?" Techmo gasped.

"Yeah…barely."

"Come on, the gate's right there!"

Mordecai could still hear the growls and snarls from the gaining monster, clawing its way towards him with blood-dirtied hands. Then, a sharp projectile soared through the air, piercing it through the brain and out its eye, killing it. Mordecai breathed a sigh of relief when he could no longer sense his undead pursuer. The tractor collided with a large metal wall, creating a loud noise.

"They're gettin' away!" a bandit yelled.

"Let's get outta here." Mordecai instructed, now that they were safely at the fence's gate. He jumped forward and kicked the gate doors, flinging them wide open. Techmo limped as fast as he could, still clutching his shoulder.

"You lucky sons of bitches! Go ahead and run! We ain't goin' nowhere!" They ran, arrows landing not too far behind them.

Back at the main area of the dairy, it was quite calm and peaceful. It all changed when Techmo and Mordecai came rushing in. Mordecai ran ahead, while Techmo dragged his feet as fast as he could behind. John noticed the commotion, squinting his eyes, trying to get a better look. His eyes widened when he saw that the duo was not so well and he dashed to their sides.

Mordecai pushed open the small wooden gate in a hurry, leading the way for Techmo. Realizing that they had made it to safe territory, they bent over and caught their breaths, tired from all the running.

“Mordecai, what's wrong?" John gasped, his mouth agape. Muscle Man could be seen observing from the farmhouse's porch.

"It was a goddamn ambush out there!"

Muscle Man ran over from the house, staring at Techmo's wound, "Holy shit! Are you okay?"

“Bandits? Here on our property?!” John growled.

Muscle Mom cried, also leaving the house and noticing the group's shape, "Oh, my Lord! What happened to you, sweetheart!?"

Techmo was bending over and breathing deeply and slowly, still in great pain and shock from the arrow stuck in his arm.

John turned to his mother, "It was those bastards in the woods, Muscle Mom…"

Techmo reassured in a weak voice, "Yeah… I'll be all right once it's out, but, goddamn it hurts!"

At that moment, the rest of the motel inn survivor group, minus Thomas and CJ, strolled in, joining the scene. "Hey y'all!" Rigby waved. They seemed to not yet notice Techmo's injury.

As they got closer, they stood in horror, Eileen exclaimed, “Techmo! Oh my god, what happened?!"

Mordecai explained worriedly, "He got shot with an arrow."

"Christ! Are you gonna be okay?" Margaret cried.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I should just… pull it out…" Techmo whimpered.

Muscle Mom stepped forward towards Techmo, "Oh no, honey, c'mon, I've got you. C'mon inside now. We'll have you all sorted out."

Eileen and Muscle Mom guided Techmo slowly towards the farmhouse. Muscle Mom took notice of Eileen, "Well, you must be the veterinarian."

Benson snarled at Mordecai, "What kind of shit is this?"

"We ran into some people on the way up here… bandits I guess. I think it was them that attacked us."

John spoke up, trying not to make eye contact, "They gave us a lot of problems in the beginning, killed a bunch of our farmhands. We were able to get 'em to stop by makin' a deal."

Rigby frowned, "You KNEW about these people?"

Muscle Man covered for his brother, "Food for protection. Not like we had much of a choice, but they did stop hasslin' us."

Benson grumbled, “Goddamnit, CJ said this place was locked down!”

Mordecai turned to John and Muscle Man, his brow furrowing, "So much for your 'deal'."

John's expression mirrored Mordecai's, "Those shit heads broke the agreement! I'm sorry, Mordecai. IF I had any inklin' they were gonna give you guys trouble, we woulda gone out there with you! Listen, we may have had an agreement with those people, but we will NOT stand for this shit."

Muscle Man agreed, "Ain't no way we're gonna let those sons o' bitches get away with this!"

"You know where these assholes are?" Rigby questioned.

"They're hard to pin down, but I think I know where at least ONE of their camps are." Muscle Man turned to Mordecai, "When you're ready to go scope out that bandit camp, come find us."

The two brothers turned to leave, while the motor inn group continued their conversation. Margaret spoke first, disbelief in her tone, "Bandits? Are you serious? This place isn't safe, we can't stay here."

Rigby retorted, "Not safe?! This place is a hell of a lot safe than that motor inn! I think all of us and our guns can handle a couple of punks with bows and arrows! What we need to do is find a way to get our whole group out here to stay. Take this place over if we have to."

"Woah, cool your jets there, Rambo. These are nice people. Let's not do anything to get us throw out before we eat!" Benson intercepted.

Mordecai spoke up, concluding what the group should do, "I'm gonna head out and help Muscle Man deal with these bandits. You guys should try to make friend with John and Muscle Mom while I'm gone."

Benson snorted, "Well that's easy. I've got charm coming outta my ass."

"Yeah, that's… real charming, Benson."

Mordecai questioned, "Where's Thomas and CJ?"

"Since CJ and Thomas ate some of the food on the way back to get us, she volunteered to stay behind and watch the motor inn until we get back."

Mordecai decided that it was time to go seek out those bandits, better to take care of them immediately then to wait for them to pick the survivors out one by one. He opened the white, pointy, picket fence gate and headed up the hill towards the two brothers who were quietly engaged in their own talk. As he got closer to the pair, they took notice of him and turned. Mordecai nodded in acknowledgement, "Fellas."

John returned the greeted, "How are ya feelin', Mordecai? Look, I'm really sorry you almost got killed out there. We should have told you how dangerous it was."

"No shit."

"You saw what they did to your buddy. Nobody's safe here until we start to fight back." Muscle Man spoke, crossing his arms.

"How?"

"The two of us should go out and do some recon, then we'll all mount up for some revenge."

"Hell, yeah." John expressed with a revengeful grin.

Mordecai yelled, but tried to keep his voice down, "Who the fuck are these people in the woods?"

"We don't know. We think some of 'em used to work at the big box up the way."

Muscle Man added on to John's explanation, "Save Lots."

"Yeah. Anyway, they're nutty as hell. And get mad when they're hungry."

Muscle Man squinted, "So, are ya ready to head out there and find their camp?"

Mordecai decided that he was ready, "Yeah. It'll be a good opportunity to find out a bit more about what we're up against. Let's do it."

"I'll stay here and hold down the fort." John replied.

Muscle Man instructed, "Remember: we're just doing reconnaissance for now. No use getting ourselves killed."

Mordecai agreed. The two retrieved their weapons and began to make their way off the dairy farm property.

Vanellope, who was leaning up against a tree, noticed the pair and ran towards them, stopping them at their tracks, "Where do you think you’re going?"

"Techmo got attacked by bandits, so Muscle Man and I are just gonna search for one of their camps. Just doing some recon."

"Have fun.” Vanellope chirped happily. “Don’t let those ‘bandits’ catch you.”

"I won’t."

They continued to make their way out of the dairy farm perimeter, entering the thick brush of a forest.

The two stepped through the forest, occasionally stepping on a leaf and making an unneeded crackle. The forest was thick but there was still light that shone through the trees, lighting their way. Most of the tree leaves were somewhat greenish yellow; however, some of them were also turning a bright and nice red and yellow. They walked on a slightly cleared dirt path, surrounded by these fluorescent colors. "See anything?" Muscle Man asked.

"Not yet." Mordecai replied, looking around and seeing nothing but the same dark bushes and slender trees. He could only hear the soft squishes in dirt from Muscle Man and himself.

"I know it's around here. It's gotta be close."

They stopped a small fork in the path. Mordecai noticed something on the dirt path. He bent low to examine it. It was a colorful can of alphabet soup. He nudged it with the barrel of his gun, in which it gently rolled over. They were getting close; there was no need for words to explain this. Muscle Man took the left path while Mordecai took the right. They stayed close however, strength in numbers.

"Here." Mordecai whispered, noticing something. Muscle Man heard and went to his side.

"Oh shit! You found it?!"

They stumbled upon the camp. Mordecai did the well-known gesture to be quiet, and gestured forward. Muscle Man and Mordecai crouched low, stealthily creeping up towards the bandits' camp. Mordecai inspected the area with the scope of his rifle, checking to see if the area was empty. He shook his head at Muscle Man, there was nobody apparent. They snuck even closer. As they got closer, they quickly positioned themselves against separate trees. "You see anybody?" Muscle Man asked.

Mordecai looked around the cluttered area, "Stay on your guard."

Muscle Man agreed and starting heading towards the only tent in the camp, "Watch my back, Mordecai. I'm gonna check out the tent."

The tent's entrance flap was slightly ajar. The majority of it was bright red. The rest was white and grey. Muscle Man took a few steps closer, holding his rifle up, ready to shoot if needed. He poked the barrel of his gun into the flopped open part of the entrance. Nothing happened. He carefully but quickly pulled open the flap more, revealing nothing but a couple of beds. One of the beds was flowery and pink while the other was white with a yellow blanket. "Clear." Mordecai nodded. They both relaxed. Muscle Man continued his observation, "This camp's too small. It can't be their main base."

"That's what I was thinking."

"Take a look around anyway. There's probably some shit around here they stole from us."

Mordecai began to look around. Now that there was nobody in the area at the moment, he could focus on the whole camp itself. There was a campfire with large rocks placed around it. Some tables were placed about, supporting many boxes that clearly read, "Save Lots". There were also some alphabet soup cans identical to the one that Mordecai had found at the fork in the road. Alongside with these cans were other sorts of bottles. At the campfire, there was a large, metal kettle that was hung from thin pieces of wood. He pulled off the lid,

"Just water."

He went over to a table, and peered inside on the crates. "Nothing."

"Empty." He said, inspecting another box to the side of it. He pushed the box over to side, seeing if there was anything behind it. There was a video camera. He took the video camera, checked if it worked, which it didn’t because the batteries are dead and slipped it into his pocket. To the side of the flimsy table, was a green lawn chair, "Looks like they expected to be here a while." He went over to Muscle Man, who was standing by the tent and peered inside the tent. Before looking inside, he glanced behind him just to make sure there wasn't anyone behind them. He hopped inside the tent and looked around. There was a stuffed bunny toy placed neatly next to the pink, flowery mattress, "Aw, man." Mordecai sighed deeply, wondering what could've happened.

There was something red that was sticking out of the yellow blanket of the second mattress. Carefully, Mordecai removed the red object. It was a hair tie. A very familiar hair tie. Mordecai's eyes went wide and he gasped as he realized that it was Vanellope’s hair tie, "…the hell?"

All of a sudden, there was a loud, threatening voice behind him, "Don't you fucking move!"

"Shit!" Muscle Man cursed, realizing the commotion that had started behind his back.

Mordecai turned around to face their enemy.

"PUT YOUR GUNS DOWN!" The woman said in a low and threateningly way. She looked very haggard and ragged. Her eyes were wary and deep in exhaustion; as if they had seen many things and that she didn't like most of what she saw. Her hair color is a brown color. For attire, she's wearing a pink tee shirt that's worn underneath a red Save-Lots vest. She's also wearing a pair of brown jeans. "I ain't going back. You tell 'em Jolene ain't goin' back!" Jolene warned, swinging her crossbow from Muscle Man to Mordecai.

"Hey! We had a deal! No shooting as long as we gave you food!" Muscle Man yelled towards her, "What the fuck happened?"

"You had a deal with THEM. I ain't THEM." Jolene said, before turning to Mordecai once more, "I know you. I know what you are, I know what you do."

"You don't know me!" Muscle Man defended himself.

"Steal my shit! Steal everything from me!"

Mordecai interrupted the tense words between them, "Who the fuck are you?"

She responded with a sharp and creepy cackle.

"Look. It's not safe up here in the woods. You gotta come back to the dairy." Mordecai tried to reason.

"Ha ha! Oh… It's a hell of a lot safer up here than down THERE, you best believe. Now maybe you didn't hear me last time… when I asked you sweet… put your damn guns down!" she threatened, "You think I won't kill you? I'm gonna take this here crossbow, and put a nice sharp arrow, right throw your eyeball. And into your goddamn brain. You're not men… you're monsters. All men are monsters. Take what they want, and then destroy it all. Take a can of beans, take a little girl… it's all the fucking same to you!"

"Where did you get this hair tie?"

"The little girl."

"You STOLE it from her."

"So what if I did? You stole her from ME!"

Muscle Man shifted his eyes to Mordecai, wondering if it was true. Mordecai responded with a slight shake of the head. They returned their eyes back to the more dangerous opponent.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"You know what? I changed my mind… I'm putting this arrow right through your BALLS. Yeah! Right through. String 'em up on that tree." She smiled, gesturing to the tree behind her, "Then I'm a head down to that farm, and shoot every goddamn person I see."

Mordecai had had enough, "Enough!" He prepared to shoot the woman.

She kept on ranting, "Y'all wave them guns like you're looking to die. Don't need to go lookin' for death. It's already found us. Just waitin' to get turned into monsters. Some of us already are!"

Mordecai didn't have the heart to shoot her, and she continued talking, "Go on, tell him, boy! Tell him what you got in mind for –" Suddenly, there was a loud bang and a flash of white as a large bullet hole appeared on Jolene's forehead. Muscle Man had shot her. She fell onto the ground.

Mordecai had his mouth wide open as he turned to Muscle Man. A large pile of brains and blood began spreading on the ground beneath Jolene's dead body.

"God dammit." Muscle Man said, lightly jamming the back of his rifle into the ground.

"You straight up murdered that woman!"

"Hardly, she had a crossbow pointed at my forehead!"

Mordecai looked over the corpse and sighed deeply.

"It's a clean shot though… right through the forehead. That's good shootin' right here. " Muscle Man continued with remorse, "Still, what a waste."

Mordecai thought numbly, Thank you for shopping at Save Lots! He shook his head, "So that's it? We going back?"

"If they ain't here, I don't know where they are. And it ain't a good idea to go tromping through the woods looking for them. So, yeah, we head back." Muscle Man concluded, before beginning to walk, "Once they see this… they'll get the message."

He stopped by Jolene's body, before looting her discarded crossbow. He examined the weapon's shape and smiled, "C'mon."

They started to make their way backwards through the woods back to the dairy farm. However, Mordecai was bit suspicious now because of the now dead woman's words. It's a hell of a lot safer up here than down THERE, you best believe.

Chapter 12: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Muscle Man and Mordecai made it back to the Sorrenstein’s Dairy Farm. The sky was a dim color now, as they had taken up a lot of the day going through the woods. They stopped in front of the white picket fence because Muscle Man turned towards Mordecai, "Man, that was a hell of a ride, huh?"

"Jesus, Muscle Man." Mordecai muttered, before tossing him the rifle he had borrowed.

Muscle Man caught it reflexively, "What? You ain't getting' soft on them, are ya? Not after what they did to your friend!"

Muscle Mom noticed the pair and spoke up from the porch of the farmhouse, "You're back! What happened?"

"Handled it, mama." Muscle Man replied before leaving Mordecai. Mordecai brushed past the picket gate and went towards Muscle Mom who planted herself on the porch steps.

"This isn't what my husband would've wanted…" Muscle Mom said remorsefully. "Miss him every day."

Then, there was a loud bickering that drew the attention of both of them from the far side of them; it was Margaret and Rigby again. Margaret was yelling, leaning closer as to try to intimidate, "Then screw it up for everybody then, why don't you?"

"Oh calm down, princess. I'll do it myself." Rigby retorted, before turning and walking away. Margaret had a look of disgust and disbelief on her face, before she returned to neutral. She also turned and walked away towards the gazebo where Benson sat.

Now that the argument was over, Mordecai turned back to Muscle Mom, "What's going on with them?"

"Dunno. Squabblin', looks like. A lotta tension with ya'll, huh?" she raised her eyebrows.

"Don't mind them. It's how they are. Each of them want to be in charge, you know?"

"Well, it's probably just the hunger talkin'! We all get a little test. We'll fix that shortly!"

Mordecai shook his head, still thinking about the bandits.

She read his mind, "And Mordecai, don't worry your head about them bandits. I'm sorry you've seen more violence that I'da thought in your short time, but ya'll are safe here. Don't worry."

Mordecai frowned, "Think I'll go have a look around."

"Don't wander too far. Dinner will be ready before you know it." She smiled. Her expression looked a bit off though, "And, Mordecai, thank your friend Eileen again for me. She and the kids are in the barn with the cow. That woman is a life saver!"

Mordecai nodded and turned to head down the sloping hill. He pushed his way back out of the fence door and noticed Vanellope appear from inside the barn doors, peeking out at him. She smiled and waved, before closing the barn door. Mordecai remembered Vanellope’s hair tie and pulled it out from his pocket. He looked at it, thinking, before putting it back inside his pocket.

He began walking towards the barn, thinking it was better to give her the hair tie before he forgot to. He pushed open the wooden gates that separated the rest of the farm from the barn and hay. Mordecai headed over to the barn doors that Vanellope had sealed and slid them back open with a loud creak. He hopped in.

From inside the barn, the outside looked darker. There wasn't much light inside the barn, it was dimly lit by a small light that perched up high. Eileen faced Mordecai and smiled. The kids, Eileen, and John were silently watching Eileen care for the female cow named Maybelle that provided the large supply of food for the dairy farmers. There were many photos of the cow in the stall, alongside with some medals that the cow had earned. It seemed quite impressive.

Rancis tilted his head to look at the cow. It lay on the thin patch of hay and every once in a while, it would move slightly and shake its ears, before nestling in again inside the hay.

Mordecai's eyes were caught by a light brown and large block with a round indent on it and headed towards it, he bent low, "What's this thing?"

"Rigby says it's called a salt lick." Rancis replied like it was the most obvious thing ever.

"Yeah, but don't lick it. It's gross.” Vanellope warned.

Mordecai stood and crossed his arms with a knowing grin, "Did you lick it?"

She stood, staring back with a blank look on her face, "Did you lick it??"

He went over to Vanellope, "Here Vanellope." He pulled out her red hair tie.

Vanellope jumped in surprise and joy, "My hair tie! You found it!" She used the hair tie to put her hair back up into her signature ponytail. "I knew you'd find it! You said you would!"

"Listen, did you… give your hair tie to anyone?"

"No."

"Did you see any strangers around the motor inn who might have taken it?"

"No. Why?"

"It's probably nothing. Just let me know if you ever see anything like that."

Mordecai looked at Maybelle the cow, "She looks skinny." He then went over to John who sat on a small wooden stool, overlooking his family's last cow, "Hey there John."

"Yeah?"

"We met this woman up in the woods. She seemed to know your brother."

John chuckled nervously, "Yeah. He, uh, probably talks a little more than he oughta."

"Uh… when do you think, uh, we might eat?"

"Hungry, huh? Don't worry. Mama's cooking up some good grub." Overhearing this, Vanellope and Rancis perked up.

"How's the cow?"

"Well, better now we got Doc on the case."

Eileen smiled and nodded back.

"Thanks." Mordecai replied.

"Yup."

Outside, it seemed much brighter than being inside the barn. He made sure to slide the barn door back into place. He spotted Benson speaking to Muscle Mom who giggled like a little schoolgirl. Benson seemed to flirting with the farm woman, "So how does a woman like yourself run this whole place?"

"Oh I manage just fine. Plus I have my boys to help out. I couldn't do it without them."

Mordecai shook his head at this, deciding to not interrupt at the moment. He noticed a circular cage looking thing that encircled around a large pile of hay. There were several of these around the place, "Looks like a feeding station for the cow."

He noticed Margaret at the gazebo near the pile of hay and began to make his way towards her. The gazebo was a nice thing to look upon; it was brown and white and looked quite natural. It sat atop a large patio that was also these two colors. Margaret noticed Mordecai approaching and spoke up, "Hey! So, what happened at the camp? Did you find any more of those guys that hurt Techmo?"

"We found a woman in the woods. She was talking all crazy and had a crossbow… so Muscle Man killed her."

Her face became one of extreme disbelief and shock. "Holy shit. Was she one of those bandits?"

"I don't know. I think she was trying to tell me something, but then he just went off."

"I don't like this, Mordecai. I still say we should go back to the Motor Inn where we at least know what to expect."

"What were you and Rigby arguing about when I came back from the camp?"

"He's losing it, Mordecai. He comes over and starts talking about searching the barn and that these people are hiding something. The way I see it, we need to just skip the dinner and get our food to go. But I'm starting to think your friend over there has another agenda.

"How do you feel about leaving the motor inn?"

"I don't know. If we'd just stayed where we were, then Techmo wouldn't have ended up with an arrow in his shoulder."

"It's been three months, and Benson still treats me like I'm some kind of asshole." Mordecai frowned.

"Yeah, well, don't expect that to change. That's just how he is."

"Does he treat you like that too?"

"Look. Benson can be an ass sometimes, I know that… But he's not a bad guy. He just… he's got a lot of pain. He's been through so much. And lost… pretty much everything. And it's hardened him, ya know? Yeah, he's bitter and hateful, but that's all just to protect himself. And me. All he's got left in the world is me. And that goes both ways. So, yeah, he's probably gonna keep treating you like crap, but that's just because he still has one thing left to care about. So don't judge him. And don't judge me for sticking by him. He's my friend, and I care about him."

Mordecai nodded in silent understanding, "Do you get the feeling something's going on here?"

"What makes you say that? What exactly happened at the camp?"

"It's…nothing. Don't worry about it. Paranoia's just getting' to me a little bit." He sighed, crossing his arms.

"I know what you mean. These backwoods people always give me the creeps. If you ask me, we should just get our dinner and leave."

"I'm going to go check things out."

"Just don't get too nosy. These kinds of people are usually pretty protective of their privacy."

Mordecai nodded in agreement and began to explore the farm area once more. He saw tons and tons of bales of hay. "Lots of hay. Enough of these might work as adequate cover from arrows if that becomes a problem." He continued exploring. Mordecai pushed past the gate to join the rest of farm.

There was a red and grey small toolbox that was placed on top of a large wooden working station. He opened the buckles of it and looked inside. There was all sorts of materials and tools inside. Mordecai noticed a specific tool inside, "Multi-tool. That should be handy." He pocketed it, "Just gonna borrow this for a second."

To the right of this working bench, there was a crate with a saw placed on top, "If a couple of tools out in the open is unsafe as it gets, we'll be fine here. Would have been nice to have one of these back at the motor inn." To the right of this crate, there were some wooden planks, "I'll bet they go through a lot of wood keeping those fences repaired."

He continued his external monologue and approached the generator which was currently in use, "I'm glad John knows how to fix this if something goes wrong. I'm clueless about this stuff." Mordecai walked around the area, trying to find something to do. He sighed and decided to head back into the barn.

Vanellope and the others were still occupied with watching the pregnant cow. Because of that, Mordecai decided to look around in the farm. He started with opening some of the stall doors, finding nothing but hay and more saltlicks. At the very back right of the barn was a stall that Mordecai opened. Inside he found a wheelbarrow, "Looks like a bunch of old, dirty clothes. Smells pretty foul." He reclosed the stall door and approached the back of the barn where there was a large double door that was closed. Mordecai would've considered opening this, if there had not been a key lock on the very front. Why would they lock this door? What's behind it? Mordecai thought. His thoughts were interrupted by the voice of his friend, "You found it too, eh?"

Mordecai turned to see Rigby walking towards his side, "Mordecai, they're hiding something. Behind this door. I got a quick look. They got boxes of stuff. And something metal and sharp."

"Don't get paranoid."

"It's my JOB to be paranoid, dude. I got my whole family on this farm right now. How about you? What about Vanellope?"

"I'll protect her, no matter what."

"I know you will." Rigby agreed, "Look, that guy with Eileen… What's-his-name. He locked it up real TIGHT the second we came in. I definitely heard a noise back there, Mordecai."

"What?"

"My point is, we gotta know for sure. So go find a hammer, and I'll have this thing off in a second. You back me up in case them farmers come running."

"Hang on, man. Think this through. You smash the lock. Then what if it turns out you're wrong? You just fucked your chance to get a good meal in those kids you're trying to protect. Use your head, Rigby."

"All right, professor. What do you have in mind?" Rigby replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Let me have a look at what we're dealing with first."

Mordecai examined the lock; there were four screws that held the door in place, connecting to this, was a metal bar and a lock that was a part of it. He decided that he wasn't going to take the lock apart.

"Hey. Mordecai. You know how to pick a lock, right?"

"No.” Mordecai shook his head. He then noticed something and got a closer look.

"What?"

"See those screws? Instead of breaking the padlock, we can just take off the assembly, have a peek inside, and then replace it all again, like nothing ever happened." Mordecai whispered.

"All right. Sounds like you got a plan. I'll hang around and keep an eye on that guy with the cow."

“John."

"Shit. I thought that was Muscle Man. Whatever."

Their hushed conversation was interrupted by the suspicious voice of John, "Can I help you boys find something?"

Mordecai remained silent, but Rigby was able to provide an excuse, "Ah, no. We're fine. Just looking around…"

"No problem." John replied, "Hey, uh… do me a favor. Don't fuck around with this door. Just, you know, Mama gets nervous."

Eileen called for John, "John! I need your help again."

"No problem! Right away, doc!"

Rigby looked at Mordecai and nodded, he went to his lookout job. Mordecai was about to do his work with the lock when John noticed, "Guys. Seriously. Don't fuck around with that. C'mon. Enough already."

It seemed to Mordecai that he had to distract John to get him out of the barn. He tried talking him out of the barn,

"Hey there, John."

"Yeah?"

"Muscle Man mentioned he needed something." He lied through his teeth.

"Did he say what?"

"Shit, I can't remember now. Sorry."

John sighed, "… All right, all right. Be right back, doc." He rolled his eyes and proceeded out of the barn.

Mordecai went over to Rigby, "I picked up something I think could help with the lock."

"All right. Good to hear."

Mordecai continued his way to the back of the barn and up to the secret door, "Okay, let's do this…"

Suddenly, John came walking back up to the barn, "False alarm. I'm back."

Shit. Mordecai silently cursed to himself. There had to be another way to buy him some more time. He walked up to John again, "So… where do you keep the rest of the tools?"

"If you need something, tell me what it is, and I can get it for ya."

"Nah, not that important."

Mordecai considered lying about Muscle Man needing John's assistance again but thought the better of it, deciding to ask something else, "Why do you lock that door?" He asked, pointing to the locked one.

"Cuz we can't afford to lose our shit to the people in the woods. They come down here every once in a while, raid our stuff. Even with the fence."

Mordecai nodded and John replied with an "All righty, then."

There didn't seem to be anything inside the barn that could distract John for a long enough time so Mordecai decided to head outside and check around there.

After a long time of walking around and fiddling with things, an idea came to Mordecai, the generator! That should buy him a lot of time.

He bent down, looking over the machine. There was a small control panel with easy enough buttons, there was a bright green and red button that obviously meant the on and off switch. There was also a yellow panel on the orange machine that concealed the inner workings of it. He unscrewed it with his borrowed multi-tool, "There ya go." He pulled it open with ease.

There were two gears, one smaller than the other that spun in circles at an extremely fast and dangerous speed. On these gears, was a belt, "Looks like that belt's driving the…uh…whatchamacallit. Hm…" Not thinking, he attempted to remove the belt with his multi-tool. The machine repelled his hand, making an odd and large scratching noise. "Ow! Dammit! That thing is moving fast…" Still not even thinking one bit, he tried it with his wing. There was still the same result; luckily, his wing was not torn to pieces by the speed of the machine. Coming to his senses, he turned the machine off. The gears slowed down with a whirring noise, making the belt accessible.

He removed the belt, pocketing it so that John couldn't find it, "There. That should do it." Mordecai quickly resealed the door to the generator and walked a nice distance away so that John wouldn't be suspicious. And just in time too, as John had noticed the noise from the generator and went over to it, "Fuckin' Mitch. Where did he find this piece of shit? Awww, fucking thing threw a BELT! Damn it all to the… son of a… frak. Ugh, this'll take forever…."

Good. Mordecai thought, this should buy him ample time for him and Rigby to do some sneaking around at the locked door. He returned inside the barn.

On his way to the back of the barn, the loud chime of a bell echoed throughout the farm's property – dinner time. Mordecai ignored it and focused on the job at hand.

Rancis got to his feet, "Eileen! Rigby! Dinner time! It's dinner time!"

Eileen chuckled, "Alright, go get Rigby"

Rancis walked up to Rigby who was by Mordecai’s side. “Rigby, come on! Let’s eat! I’m starving!”

"Rigby? Come along, honey." Eileen instructed, "Rigby, c'mon, don't make the children wait."

Rigby couldn't disobey; he turned to Mordecai and whispered, "I'll make an excuse for you… Get that thing off!" He followed Eileen, Rancis, and Vanellope out the door towards the Sorrenstein's home.

Mordecai examined the lock, and began using the multi-tool on the screws, letting the screws drop to the floor. Now that the door was unlocked, he slowly pulled the doors open, his eyes widening as his view of the room grew larger.

His newly-found relief was suddenly demolished, replaced with chilling horror.

The room looked as it was pale red, illuminated by a mysterious source. But this wasn't the horrific factor that had stopped Mordecai in his tracks. There was a large variety of tools that didn't quite give Mordecai the impression of happiness and rainbows. They were sharp and dangerous. Designed to cut something to shreds. They were covered in gruesome blood that looked fresh. On one the tables, were many bear traps that resembled Venus fly traps, eagerly awaiting for their victims. Like the deadly machinery, there was a large blood trail that had been smeared in a way that looked like the source had been dragged across the floor roughly. In one of the corners was a tiled container that contained a pool of blood which almost made Mordecai retch. Not a major spot in the room was safe from the red splatter.

Mordecai was frozen to the spot; his expression looked like he had seen a ghost. Out of the blue, there was a voice from behind him, "Boy. Didn't you hear the bell?" The sudden sound of his voice brought Mordecai back out of his trance, making him turn. It was John. The corners of John's mouth perked up creepily, "Dinner time." He didn't take his eyes off of Mordecai.

"Why was there so much blood in there?!" Mordecai tried to keep calm, there had to be an explanation for this. The farmers were nice people…weren't they?

"Look. We have food here, but Mitch and I still gotta do a lot of hunting to keep everyone fed." John explained calmly, it sounded rehearsed, "When we catch something in the woods, we skin it and dress it back there. Mama doesn't like us to make a mess in the house. So you see? Nothin' to worry about." He arched his eyebrow at Mordecai, avoiding eye contact for a brief moment.

Though the dairy farmer's story fit the picture, Mordecai obviously still had his doubts about it. He remained silent, brushing past John and out the door. In the corner of his eye, he saw John frustratingly shake his head before he followed behind Mordecai. The two solemnly and silently walked towards the farmhouse. Mordecai sniffed the air, from the house emitted a delicious scent of foods. As they opened the door to enter, Mordecai could hear the loud and excited chatter of his group inside, "Mmm, biscuits.” Rancis complimented. He overheard Benson uproariously complimenting Brenda for the meal. Margaret passed Mordecai towards the table, giving him a slight smile and nod.

The place seemed tidy enough, in contrast with the bloody room. Not far from the front of the entrance was a staircase leading upwards. The object adjacent to the staircase caught his interest. It was a bunch of shelves and a wardrobe positioned defensively. It reminded Mordecai of the barricades back at the motel. He cocked his head in curiosity and confusion. John seemed to have read his mind, "Excuse the mess. We had to block the back door after a walker got upstairs. Don't worry, that was a while ago and they ain't been back inside since."

Mordecai nodded, accepting the story. John walked ahead of him into the dining room. Mordecai noticed something off however, John had a large revolver of some sort concealed in his back pocket. He dismissed the idea, believing it was just a precaution and safety measure.

Muscle Mom's voice chimed, "Everybody sit down and I'll go get the meal!" she winked, "Ooh, this is a delight!"

Rigby sighed in relief, "I could eat a horse."

Mordecai looked at the table, counting the members of the party, Vanellope, Rancis, Rigby, Eileen, Margaret, and Benson (He unconsciously thought bitterly at that name.)… what about…?

"Where's Techmo?" Mordecai inquired.

Muscle Mom's voice became a tad more quiet and serious, "Now don't you worry about him. I've already brought some food up. You just let him rest."

Mordecai's eyebrows furrowed and he looked down in understanding, was this the truth though? Mordecai had to make sure with his own eyes, "Mind if I wash my hands first?" he arched his eyebrow.

"Bathroom's right outside in the hall. And be sure to get under your nails, you've been muckin' around in the dirt all day." Muscle Mom instructed firmly.

He nodded. He wasn't going to the bathroom to wash his hands however; he had different plans in mind.

Mordecai left the dining room. Looking around, he could see that the house was cozy and appealing to the eye. It seemed that the main two colors were shades of green and brown, giving it a nice woody feel. There was a round frame, holding a picture of a slightly younger Muscle Mom and a bald chubby green man wearing a “World’s Greatest Dairy Farmer” net hat, who has a brown connecting mustache and bushy brown eyebrows, who Mordecai believed to be her husband. He could be wrong though. Opposite of this display, was a proud set of medals, ribbons, and certificates. These dairy farmers certainly were successful ones.

Mordecai continued through the house, he went into the washroom and creaked open the medicine cabinet. It seemed normal enough; there was shaving cream, gauze pads, and some kind of lotion.

He exited the bathroom, deciding to go assess the situation upstairs. Mordecai looked back towards the direction of the dining room, making sure nobody was spying. To his relief, there was none. He slowly began to crawl his way up the stairs. He made sure to place his footing correctly; one slip and everything could go to hell. Fast. To his dismay, one of the steps happened to be old and creaky and it groaned as he put his weight on it. He looked behind him, expecting the farmers to come running with pitchforks. When they didn't, he continued his way up.

When he made it to the second floor, Mordecai noticed a long and slender red cable that trailed and snaked its way up along the stairs, before abruptly turning and slithering into a closet door. Curious, Mordecai followed the red trail. He slid the door open, revealing more of the cord. It seemed to lead into a hole into a different room. It was disconnected. Where's that cord going? Along with the cord, was a large variety of medicine and medical waste that seemed unorthodox for dairy farmers.

Turning away from the closet, Mordecai headed towards the bedroom door which Techmo was supposedly recovering in. He opened the door quietly, careful not to wake him up. He peered in, widened his eyes and more quickly opened the door. The fluorescent bed was empty, no sign of any recent resting. Where the hell is Techmo? I thought Muscle Mom said he was up here resting? Not far from the bed, was a small splatter of something. It was red. "Is that blood?" Mordecai whispered to himself gravely. In front of the stain was a large bookshelf, containing some history books that Mordecai would've been interested to read on any other day. There were also some cookbooks and farm books, it didn't seem out of the ordinary.

Mordecai looked up and out into the window which was draped in green curtains. There were dark clouds that gave the feeling of intimidation and uneasiness, "Feels like there's a storm coming."

Mordecai didn't know what to check out now, he decided to return downstairs to interrogate Muscle Mom. As he placed his foot down on the first step down, there was suddenly a loud thump and rummaging that came from the closet, "Unnggh…!" a voice cried out in extreme pain, following by slight whimpers.

What the hell? Mordecai retracted his foot. "Help me…" a definitely familiar voice begged weakly. He crept back towards the supposed source of the pained cries. The closet. The curiosity getting to the better of him, he connected the previously disconnected cords. It triggered a faint light which illuminated from the tiny hole, and a thunking noise. He waved his hand in front of the light, testing to see if he was seeing things. Mordecai frowned in worry, just what the hell was going on here?

Subconsciously, he knew the place to go. He re-entered the bedroom. There was a dim light that shone from behind the bookcase. It was just like in the classics. There was a secret room. But why? If mystery novels had taught Mordecai anything, it was that secret rooms never meant anything good. Secretly, he hoped that there was no secret room. But these hopes were diminished by the facts of the hidden light and the cries of pain earlier.

He moved to the side of the obstruction, planted his feet into the floor, and shoved. Slowly, but surely, the obstacle slugged out of the way. To nobody's surprise, there was a door behind it. Mordecai gulped, hoping for the best. He braced himself, placing his hand on the knob and turning. The door wasn't even fully open when he saw Techmo on the floor, laying in a large, growing pile of his own blood. The door continued to swing open, revealing more of his body. Or what was left of it. Mordecai's eyes felt like the size of china plates.

"Mordecai…" Techmo breathed, slightly moving the bloody stumps of his legs.

Mordecai held back his puke, covering his mouth, "Techmo?! What the hell happened?!"

"…" Techmo gasped, excruciatingly trying to convey what had happened, "…brothers…"

"What the hell happened to your legs man?" Mordecai half screamed, half whispered, the horror and sorrow easily witness able on his face.

"Don't..." Techmo raised his head slightly, it looked like it was as tough a marathon in his state of being, he gasped, taking shallow and short breaths, "eat…. dinner…."

Mordecai understood immediately in horror, getting to his feet and looking around panickingly. Not a second after this, Muscle Mom's voice called, "Mordecai, did ya fall in?! Dinner's on the table an everyone's havin' at!"

He heard a voice, though he couldn't recognize it with all the chaos going on, "Barbeque! Wow…"

Mordecai's thoughts immediately went to the girl he had been protecting for three months, "Vanellope!" He had to get to Vanellope before she eats!

Mordecai had no time to waste, screw making noise! Mordecai dashed across the wooden planks of the floor, leaving the door open and flew down the stairs. At the bottom he regained his balance quickly by bouncing off of the nearest wall. He zoomed into the dining room, looking down he saw Muscle Man's gun. No time to think about that. Mordecai forced his head to look up. Vanellope was in the midst of stabbing a piece of meat with her fork and putting it into her mouth. Time seemed to slow down, "Don't eat that!" Mordecai barked. Vanellope flinched, taking her head away from the human meat. She heeded the order and put her fork back down. Mordecai felt a slight relieved feeling in having been able to stop his young charge from eating.

His sudden outburst had attracted the rest of the company, "…ehh?" Margaret looked up from her plate. They all looked at him with a worried and is-he-crazy expression.

Rigby frowned, "Mordecai, Jesus, man! Did you find something?" The others seemed confused at this statement.

Benson boomed, "Oh, sit your ass down, Mordecai. This lady has made you a meal."

Margaret agreed, "Yeah, Mordecai, what's gotten into you?"

"He could use some goddamn manners." Benson sneered.

Mordecai chose to be direct, "Techmo is upstairs with his FUCKING LEGS cut off! You're EATING him!" Vanellope’s jaw dropped at this revelation.

"That's crazy!"

"What the hell…?"

"Now, now…" Muscle Mom tried to calm everyone down.

"You're scaring the kids, Mordecai." Rigby stated.

"Mordecai, what the hell is wrong with you?!" Margaret frowned, questioning his sanity.

John gave him a look that seemed to mirror her words.

Benson continued to insult Mordecai, "Don't indulge him, Margaret. It's always something with this guy."

Eileen seemed to listen to Mordecai, pulling the dish that Rancis was eating away from him, "That’s nasty!"

Mordecai continued, trying to persuade the rest of his group to believe him, "They’re picking us up to trade as meat!”

Benson barked at Mordecai angrily. “You’re out of you’re mind!”

“Techmo is upstairs with NO LEGS!!!” shouted Mordecai. He then turned his attention towards Muscle Mom. “Muscle Mom, tell me he’s not being eaten right now!”

Muscle Mom had a panicked look on her face. Everyone, except John and Muscle Man, who continued to eat, stared at Muscle Mom, waiting for an answer. She knew that she had been caught. It was time she revealed her family’s true nature. She sighed and spoke. “It’s true.”

Muscle Man suddenly started mumbling, staring at the fork in his hand, "Everything coulda turned out okay for you folks."

John tried to explain, "He woulda' died anyway! We gotta think about LIVIN'!"

Muscle Mom spoke up, "Settle down, honey. Growin' up in rural Georgia, you're taught not to waste." As she began her story, the rest of Mordecai's group began to look frightened and they had looks of disbelief, starting to believe that Mordecai's story was not in fact a product of insanity and stupidity, "It's how I was raised and how I raised my boys. Now, you got monsters roamin' around that do nothin' but eat people. And for what? To continue to rot til' they eat some more. We think we can put that meat to better use." she smiled.

Mordecai stared at Muscle Mom and her sons, "You're all sick…sick in the head."

Muscle Mom glared daggers back in return, "Mordecai, that's not a very nice thing to imply." She turned to the dining table's occupants, agreeing with John who smiled, "John is right; we go after folks who were gonna die anyways, one way or another."

Muscle Man looked up expressionlessly from his meal, sending shivers down everybody's backs, "Like ya'll."

It was silent for a moment, everyone exchanged looks of fear. Mordecai broke the silence, "Vanellope, run!"

In a quick and fluid movement, John reached behind him and pulled out his revolver, "Nobody's going anywhere!" Muscle Man also got up from his seat, retrieving his precious weapon and threateningly aiming it,

"We got lots of use for ya'll right here."

Benson sputtered, "What…the…what…the fucking…what…fuck?!"

Margaret tried to handle the situation, "Put your guns down! We're walking out of here!"

"You don't go NEAR my fucking family!" Rigby growled.

"I don't wanna die…what did I just eat?!” Rancis cried out.

"We’re screwed. " Mordecai uttered in horror.

“Mordecai?” Vanellope whimpered. “What do I do?”

All of a sudden, John reached a long arm out, grabbing her by her ponytail and pulling her back, causing her to yell in pain and fear. There was an intense stare and silence between John and Mordecai. If John was any closer, Mordecai would've strangled the man, "You fucker! I'll tear you apart!" Mordecai snarled furiously. He would have begun to throw himself over the table towards John if Muscle Man had not shoved the barrel of his rifle into Mordecai's chin, stopping him in his tracks. Mordecai's expression was replaced with one of fear. He stepped back, frowning immensely at Muscle Man.

Then there were loud thumps on the wooden floor as something large roughly toppled down the stairs. Everyone noticed it and shifted their head's direction toward it. There was the sound of a cloth being dragged against the floor as it got closer and closer. Oh no...it can't be...can it? Mordecai turned his head to look at the rest of the group before looking back. A pair of hands came into view, struggling to pull along the bloody and shortened body of Techmo, "PLLLEEEASE…SOMEONE…!" Everyone gasped in disgust and dread. However horrific it was, they couldn't take their eyes off. Techmo continued to drag himself closer, before plopping himself down with a sickeningly splat, having exhausted the remainder of his slowly draining energy.

Mordecai looked at Vanellope who had witnessed the whole thing, "Vanell—" he began to yell, before suddenly being whacked in the head with Muscle Man's precious. He hit the floor, almost collapsing on top of Techmo.

Chapter 13: Too Much Salt Will Kill You

Mordecai woke to the disgruntled sound of Benson pounding away, "Open the god damned door!" The first image he saw through his half-opened tired eyes were more those salt licks that were in the barn. "You can't keep us in here! OPEN UP! I WILL TEAR YOU FUCKERS APART WITH MY BARE HANDS!"

Of course, there were no answers to these threats.

"Will you stop that banging! We've gotta find another way out of here." Rigby came into view. Behind him, Margaret was puking her guts out. With his headache, Mordecai also felt like vomiting.

Benson was still cursing, "You sick fucking bastards! OPEN THIS DOOR GOD DAMMIT! I will knock the GODDAMN DOOR DOWN!" Margaret, having recovered from her spill, tried to calm him down with her words.

Mordecai opened his eyes once more to see Vanellope, watching Benson's angry attempts with a nervous expression. Then, she took notice of him, rushing to his side, "Mordecai!"

He shook his head, trying to get rid of the headache and blurry vision.

"These people are crazy!” Vanellope spoke in a quick tone. “We gotta get out of here! I almost ate Techmo!”

"But you didn't do it…" Mordecai replied weakly.

"No…"

Benson snarled, "The rest of us did, God damnit! If you hadn't dragged your feet…"

Margaret mediated, "C'mon, Benson. Now's not that time."

Mordecai ignored Benson, focusing his attention on the small girl who sat in front of him, "You okay, Vanellope? They didn't hurt you, did they?"

"Not at all." She shook her head, Mordecai felt relieved.

Benson continued to hammer at the door, shouting his head off, "OPEN UP!"

Rigby went over to Mordecai, bringing him back to speed, "Mordecai, those psychos have my family, and we're stuck in a damn meat locker!" He grimaced, his eyes widening, "We've gotta get the fuck outta here!"

Vanellope spoke. “Go look around!

"I’m working on it, I’m working on it!” snapped Mordecai

The meat locker they were apparently in was small and there weren't many things inside apart from shelves, wood, boxes of some sort, and a large amount of salt licks. A large air vent pumped cold air into the room, obviously meant to keep the food cold and lasting. This gave Mordecai the chills; (literally and metaphorically) it seemed that he and his party were the planned meals. Bon appétit.

Mordecai looked around, there had to be something they could use to get out, right? Benson was still knocking on the door and Margaret continued to try to calm him down. Rigby was in one corner of the room, examining the paneling for any loose cracks or holes. Mordecai went over to a bunch of wooden pallets, his hopes perking up, "Could there be a hole behind these pallets?" He looked behind it, sighing, "No such luck."

He walked up to Benson, who was still pounding and shouting at the door. He thought he could try to calm him down.

“Come on, Benson, do you really wanna attract their attention?” Mordecai asked angrily.

“Yeah, I wanna attract their attention, so I can fucking kill them!” snarled Benson.

“Guess your new girlfriend wasn’t all that she was cracked up to be.”

“What the hell is your problem?!” Benson growled. He then approached Mordecai threateningly, causing them to both lock glares at each other. “You refused to give me my day’s rations back at the motor lodge, and you went out of your way to be an asshole to me tonight. You must really hate me…but guess what? You're stuck with me. I plan to be around LONG after you're gone and if you turn...I'll be the one to put the axe through your skull."

Mordecai scowled. He had enough of Benson, but decided that he just wasn’t worth his time. He then replied bitterly to the gumball machine. “No, you’re not worth the ENERGY to hate!”

“Don’t forget, I know who you really are!” Benson sneered. He then turned around and continued to bang on the door and Margaret resumed on trying to calm him down.

By the sound of Benson's voice, it sounded like it was getting weaker and he took more breaths.

Mordecai examined the shelves to the side of the pallets, "These shelves seem sturdy, and we could climb up." He looked at the pipe littered ceiling and grunted, "But there's no way out through the ceiling. He decided to check the air conditioner, "Hmm…"

Not long after he started examining it, Benson began to slow down, "…I'll break the damn door down..!"

"Benson! You can't-" Margaret began, noticing the symptoms.

It was too late, "Aah!" Benson winced, clutching his chest, "Urg!"

“Easy…" she stepped closer, her hand raising towards him.

"Hrrrgggttt! Oh God…" he groaned, before beginning to collapse into a heap on the floor. Vanellope backed away, gasping in shock about Benson's collapse.

"BENSON?!" Margaret got to her knees, instinctively checking Benson’s pulse, "No! Benson, come on! BENSON! Oh God, he's stopped breathing. I think he's had a heart attack!" She began pushing down on his chest in a constant pattern.

Rigby stepped back, "Shit! Is he dead?"

"He's not dead. Somebody help me!"

"Fuuuuuuck… if he's dead…"

"HE'S NOT DEAD!" She glared daggers.

Rigby ignored her claims, shifting his head sadly to Mordecai, "…You know what has to happen, Mordecai. Think about it. You saw that poor bastard at the motel. How fast he turned."

Margaret shouted, "What are you saying?"

"Margaret, I'm sorry. I truly, truly am. But in a few minutes, we're gonna be stuck in a locked room with a 5-foot 8, 150-pound, SERIOUSLY pissed off dead guy!"

"FUCK YOU! We can bring him back!" She swore, dismissing his thoughts, "Mordecai!"

"We'll mourn him later. But right now, we have to keep him from comin' back."

Vanellope disagreed to this plan, even though she didn't like Benson too much “No!”

"God dammit, Rigby! He's not dead!"

Mordecai looked down with remorse. “Maybe you’re right.”

"No god damn it!” Margaret denied. “Benson has survived worse than this!”

"Look, Rigby… Back at the drug store when we all thought Rancis was bitten… I gave him the benefit of the doubt… Maybe we should do the same now."

Rigby shook his head frustratingly, "That was different. Rancis wasn't bitten. But, come on, we KNOW this guy's not gonna make it. Remember what Thomas said. Gotta destroy the brain…"

Oh no. Not another choice… Mordecai thought gravely. The voices of his comrades cried for his aid.

"Come on, Mordecai, I’m right about this! I know you’ve got my back! You always do!"

"God damnit Mordecai! I NEED you! Please help me! Come on Benson, come on! Wake up…wake up!"

Mordecai didn't know what exactly influenced his decision that night. It might've been because of the little girl in the corner. He had to protect his young charge. With these chances of Benson reanimating, he just couldn't take them. He couldn't think about or deal with the consequences right now. Maybe later, but definitely not now. But days later, he would find himself sitting alone, thinking about what he could've, should've, would've done.

"You're right Rigby. Let's get this over with." He turned to Rigby, nodding.

"You fucking monsters! Both of you!" Margaret screeched, sobbing at the same time.

"I ain't watching this!” Vanellope exclaimed, while turning around and walking over to the corner of the room.

"I'm sorry Margaret." Mordecai whispered, getting behind Margaret, preventing her from aiding Benson, "No no no. Get off me! Don't do this! No… no no no!"

He was starting to regret this decision. But it was already too late. No turning back.

Mordecai fought back, struggling. She threw Mordecai off, landing on Benson from the momentum. Mordecai regained his stance, continuing to pull her off, "No please!" she continued to sob. Rigby used all of his strength to pick up one of the salt licks, slowly carrying the heavy object towards Benson’s body, grunting loudly in the process. "Noooo!" Mordecai's face was replaced with one of no emotion, trying to hide his pain. He successfully heaved Margaret away from Benson.

Rigby raised the saltlick and finally lowered it and let go. A shattering sound was made as Benson gumballs scattered all over the floor as well as blood, as the saltlick smashed onto his skull. Much of the blood splattered all over Rigby. Rigby stepped away from the body, his expression one of heavy guilt and disbelief of what he had done. Mordecai and Rigby looked down at their work, blinking to see if they had actually killed the poor bastard or if it was all just a terrible, terrible nightmare. "God help us." Rigby gasped, realizing it was indeed not a nightmare. Too much salt will kill you… Mordecai thought, but it wasn't time for jokes and things like that.

Margaret had restored her position at Benson’s side. A large mess of blood from the smashed gumballs began to grow next to his destroyed head. Margaret sobbed heavily, mourning her loss. Rigby bent down to her and whispered, "I'm sorry. I know it-"

She pounced, "Don't you fucking touch me!"

Mordecai approached Vanellope and knelt down to her height. “How are you doing?”

“You didn't have to kill him, Mordy!" Vanellope hollered angrily.

“I'm sorry." Mordecai apologized with remorse. "We couldn't take the risk. You understand why we had to do this, Vanellope?"

"So he wouldn't turn."

"Yeah."

Vanellope sighed and changed the subject. “Have you found a way out yet?”

"I'm working on it."

Mordecai went over to the air conditioner again, flashes of the crazy scene that had befallen them entered his mind. He tried his best to ignore them. Mordecai began to examine the conditioner, "I wonder…. There ought to be an air duct behind this unit…. Maybe big enough for one of us to fit through…."

"I dunno, Mordecai… seems like a long shot." Rigby paced back and forth, thinking deeply.

Vanellope joined the discussion, "Does the air-conditioner come off?"

"I think I could take it off… if I had something to remove the screws…" Mordecai began, before beginning to reach into his pocket, "The multi-tool! Of course they took it. Shit."

"Maybe there's something else we could use. I've got a rock" Vanellope suggested.

"Nah…a rock won't help…but a COIN might do the trick. Do you have a coin?"

"Nope. Left it at home." she shook her head regretfully.

Mordecai remembered something from the back of his head. It was from earlier in the day… "What do you want? A hand out? I've got 60 cents in my pocket if you'll shut up and quit being such a pansy." Benson had said to Techmo. The memory rang out.

Shit.

Mordecai turned to glance at Margaret and Benson's bloody corpse. This wasn't going to be good.

Mordecai slowly walked over, trying to delay the inevitable. Margaret noticed his presence, "Get away."

"I just need to-"

She snapped, her eyes bulging, "I TOLD YOU TO GET THE FUCK AWAY!"

"Margaret, I-I'm sorry…"

"Don't talk to me, Mordecai. Don't fucking talk to me." She whimpered, heavy with sadness.

"You need to pull yourself together.”

“WHY?! So you can feel better about…about what you DID?!”

“For your own sake.”

“Right, cause you fucking care SO much about me!”

She recovered from her outburst, but continued to look down at the corpse at her feet. Mordecai continued speaking, "I think I may have found us a way out of here. But I'll need something to remove the screws on the air-conditioner. If you had something I could use as a screwdriver…a coin or something…"

"No." she jerked out an answer.

He sighed, "…What about HIM? Look, I know this is a terrible time for it, but…back at the Motor Inn, Benson mentioned something about keeping coins in his pockets…"

She grit her teeth, "In other words, Benson's more useful to you dead than alive."

"If he was alive, and had the key to getting us out of here, do you think he'd keep it to himself?"

"What do you want? My blessing to LOOT his corpse?"

Mordecai looked down, "…Your…permission."

Her face fell, "…Do what you have to do."

Even with her permission to loot Benson’s corpse, Mordecai didn't feel any better about doing this. He looked down at Benson, feeling sick to the stomach. "Hoo boy. Any idea where he keeps his change in?"

"Fucking vulture…"

He knelt down, reaching into the closet pocket. He rummaged around, looking away from what he was doing. His fingers came in contact with metallic cold pieces. "Here we go." He sighed, pulling them out. "Two quarters… and a dime."

Mordecai left the dead man's body and went over to the perching air conditioner, "Just gotta remove these screws and get this unit off…" He could feel the eyes of Vanellope and Rigby behind him. Mordecai unscrewed one screw off. Rigby spoke up, "You got it?"

"Yeah. One more should do it." He responded, unscrewing the other one. After that, he and Rigby worked together to lift the vent off the conditioner, placing it neatly on the ground, "Well there's our way out, Mordecai. Looks like it'll probably lead right into that back room…"

"It's too small for me to fit through. Think you can do it?"

“No way dude.” Rigby refused. “I can’t stand small spaces.”

"I can do it." A small voice chimed. It was Vanellope's. Mordecai knelt down to her size, "Go quickly.”

“On it.” replied Vanellope, before disappearing down the conditioner's dark tunnel. They all listened, even Margaret. It was silent for a bit, except for the clanging of the little girl moving through the vent. It made Mordecai wonder how people in movies were able to get away with it inconspicuously. Then, he could make out the barely audible noise of a girl's gasp that made his heart plummet. Everyone had also noticed it, worry touching their expressions.

Then it was completely silent, save the occasional dripping of something which marked the passing of time.

What's going on? What happened? Was she caught? Is she alright? The questions were answered when the locked door to the freezer suddenly clicked open and a small face peered in.

Mordecai burst, though he managed to keep his voice down, "Are you okay?! Did anyone see you?"

"No. But, I almost flipped out when I saw what was in this room."

He walked over to Margaret, "Margaret. We gotta go."

"Leave me alone."

Rigby interrupted, pulling Mordecai’s attention, “Mordecai! I can see him."

He revert his focus back to the woman on the floor, "It's not safe in here-"

"For God's sake Mordecai, I didn't even get to say goodbye!"

Rigby whispered loudly, "Get in here, I got an idea."

Mordecai nodded, though it was impossible for Rigby to see it. He went over to the door, turning to Vanellope "Stay here. Keep an eye out on Margaret, okay?"

"Alright." Vanellope answered with a nod.

Taking one last look at the meat locker, Mordecai stepped through the door.

Chapter 14: Taking Charlotte

Mordecai found Rigby standing amidst the bloody butcher room, gazing in shock at the mess. He noticed the jars of human body parts that were reddened with blood. Rigby gasped, "I told you there was something up with this damn room! It's a goddamned human slaughterhouse!"

I agree…this place gives me the chills…

Rigby bent down, peeking through the farm door. There was something on the table closest to Mordecai, he curiously picked it up. It was a hay hook…or something like that. He examined the two long prongs that curved at the end. Sharp. Mordecai noticed the vent that Vanellope had come through. He wished that he hadn't sent her through this place; it would've given ANYONE nightmares for days.

"So what's the plan?" Mordecai whispered.

"That dumbass is so caught up in his own rant that we could probably sneak right up on him. Just stick behind me, in case anything goes down. When we get to the front, we'll grab his gun."

"Sounds good." Mordecai agreed.

"Okay, you ready?"

Boy was he ready. It must've shown on his face, "Yeah, let's go."

"Stay close."

They pushed open the farm doors, not bothering to close them. It was Muscle Man who was apparently on watch. At his side was his prized possession, the rifle. Fortunately for them, it was raining heavily, possibly covering up any small noises they made.

Like Rigby had said, he was grumbling and mumbling to himself. "…And momma, I know you mean well, and God bless you, but you have GOT to stop playing favorites with John. I know he's older, but that don't make him better. And it certainly don't make him smarter."

The two of them were almost to the front, when another figure appeared. It was John, "Hey bro, what are you doing outside the barn?"

"Oh shit!" Rigby cursed silently. The two of them quickly took refuge in one of the many barn stalls.

"Just guarding the place, like you said."

"Well, quit sittin' out in the rain like a damn weirdo. Mama says we can't keep that many folks alive and not expect trouble." John continued, "Pick one to keep and kill the rest."

"Can I pick which one to keep alive?"

The amount of casualness in their words frightened Mordecai. They definitely weren't their first guests ever. It seemed like they had grown used to this form of cannibalism.

"Not the kid. Not enough meat on her to trade."

Mordecai felt his blood boil.

John seemed to have walked away, for the conversation between him and his brother had ended.

Suddenly the farmers' cow, Maybelle mooed nonchalantly.

While Muscle Man was talking to the cow, which seemed kind of odd to Mordecai, Rigby whispered towards Mordecai,

"Take a look through the cracks…"

He heeded Rigby's order, pushing the wooden stall's door slightly ajar and peering out. Muscle Man was chuckling and holding while of the bear traps and preparing to set it. What the hell was he doing? He then closed the barn door and there was silence from him.

Rigby mimicked his thoughts, "What's he doing? Can you see him?"

"Sick fucker thinks this is a game! We'll take him out together."

"How?"

"He doesn't know we're out. He's gotta walk past us to get to the meat locker. We can take him when his back is to us."

"See what he's doing now."

Mordecai once again pushed open the wooden stall's door. He jerked back when he saw Muscle Man aiming his rifle right at him. SHIT! Mordecai quickly reacted, grabbing the gun's barrel and aiming it way off. At the last second, it fired, making Mordecai’s ears ring. Muscle Man was backing off now, quickly reaching into his pocket to pull out another bullet. Mordecai was faster though, he shot forward, skewering Muscle Man in the chest with the hay hook. Muscle Man squealed in pain before knocking Mordecai aside with the side of his weapon. He reached for the handle of the hay hook still imbedded in his chest, ripping it out and yelping. Then, Muscle Man aimed his rifle at Mordecai, preparing to shoot him. All of a sudden, Rigby kicked the stall door open, knocking the gun out of Muscle Man's arms and slicing him in the side with his sickle. Rigby hit him in the shoulder with the handle of his sharp weapon, pushing him backwards right into the bear trap that Muscle Man himself had laid. Blood spurted out of his foot, leaking onto the floor. He clutched his leg, unable to break free. Rigby threatened, "Where's my family, asshole?!"

"You can't have 'em! We need the vet!" Muscle Man looked up, gritting his teeth in severe pain.

All of a sudden, there was shrill scream that came from somewhere else on the farm's property, "Nooooo!" Rigby perked up at the sound of it, "EILEEN! Mordecai! Come on!"

"Just go. I won't be far behind."

Rigby took off, leaving Mordecai to decide Muscle Man's fate. Mordecai reached for a pitch fork that was stuck inside a nearby hay bale. He pulled it out, aiming it threateningly at Muscle Man's chest.

"Eerrgghhh! You see?! You understand now, don't you?!" Muscle Man heaved, "You can have me! It's how the world works now! Give part of yourself… so others can live!"

"Cannibalism is NOT the answer! Aren't the walkers eating enough of us?!"

"You gotta keep me alive. If you kill me, the meat gets tainted! You can't eat it!"

"You're already tainted!" Mordecai spat.

"You ain't gonna kill me, just like you didn't kill Jolene… You don't have what it takes…! Heheh, fucking coward."

Mordecai looked back and forth, should he kill the bastard, or should he spare him. He was already dead anyway, the bear trap was irreversible. He threw the pitch fork, emitting a yell from Muscle Man. But the weapon soared over his shoulder, imbedding itself in the hay bale behind him. He wasn't going to sink to that level.

"This is NOT how the world works now. You won't make me kill you!" Mordecai shook his fist at him.

Margaret and Vanellope stepped from the meat locker, joining Mordecai's side.

"Fuck you, Mordecai. You and Rigby MURDER Benson, but you leave THIS piece of shit alive?! You're a fucking asshole."

Then another scream broke the silence between them, "Oh God! Don't hurt him!"

"That's Eileen!"

"Please no!"

"Margaret, please keep her safe!" Mordecai gestured to Vanellope.

There was no response from Margaret, she just narrowed her eyes. But Mordecai believed that she would protect her. Looking back at Vanellope, she scrunched her arms closer together and gazed at Mordecai as he bent low out of the barn to aid the others.

Chapter 15: You Fight Like a Dairy Farmer

Mordecai crept into the thick clutches of the stormy night. It was pouring rain alongside with the rumbles of thunder from not far away. The rainwater immediately seeped into his feathers, chilling him. He bent low, taking cover under a small roof-like platform and looking around the area for his comrade, "RIGBY!" He was nowhere to be seen.

The plains of crops obstructed his side views greatly but it wasn't like he was going that way anyway. Thunder roared again, striking a jagged line of lightning down into the hills in the distance. The ash-grey clouds drifted in front of the large moon, giving it a hazy greyish-green tone.

Mordecai turned his view to the house. It was almost entirely engulfed in the dark clouds that brewed above. Lightning flashed, illuminating the home eerily for a split second. Several of the windows were open, shining a dim, white light. They resembled watchful eyes. It was a monster house.

Mordecai narrowed his eyes. No doubt was his group in there.

…Had he heard something just now? Or was it the rain brushing against the growth? He'd survived in this hell of a world long enough to know that there were good enough chances that it wasn't. It was coming down in buckets so it would've been unlikely that the generator was functioning. Mordecai glanced warily at the crops to his side and hoped for the best.

There was definitely the low hum and groan of one of those things. It shuffled clumsily, inching its way towards the wired fence. Without the generators, it was mere wire on sticks. Mordecai held his breath. Then, there was a slash and a thunk as the fiend fell to the ground, mixing dirty blood with soil. A familiar figure approached the fence, taking the place of the former. It was her!

"CJ!" Mordecai whispered. He couldn't tell if he was more relieved and happy or more surprised to see her.

She stood, "Mordecai?" Another figure approached from behind, Mordecai began to warn her. But then there was a gruff "Ow." as Thomas maneuvered his way through the thicket.

"Shhh!" CJ chastised him.

"Sorry! I think one of these things tore a hol-" he defended himself

"SHH!" she persisted. He heeded her order. She turned her attention back to Mordecai, "Is everyone okay? We heard screams as we were coming up to the house!"

"We need your help!"

"Yeah, when you guys didn't come back I figured something was up." She arched her eyebrow, "What can we do?"

"Benson's dead. They chopped off Techmo's legs and tried to feed them to us!" Mordecai explained, bringing the two newcomers up to speed.

The look of plain disbelief and horror was evident on both their faces, CJ continued, "Shit! Is everyone else okay?"

"They've still got Rancis and Eileen in the house." Mordecai whispered, "And I don't know where the fuck Rigby is!"

"All right, we're coming in to help; we'll be right with you."

Mordecai shook his head, "The main gate is too dangerous, go around the fence and see if there's a back way in. I'll keep looking for Rigby." He looked up, "Do you have a weapon?"

"I don't leave home without it." She smirked, cocking the trusty pistol in her hands, "Thomas, stick close. And Mordecai…be careful." The two of them disappeared back into the maze-like crops.

Mordecai nodded a bit too late. He crouched down low and stamped through the muddy ground towards the large home. As he drew nearer, he heard Eileen cry out, "No, please God, don't, NO!"

Another woman's voice chimed out, Muscle Mom's. "Just shut up and he'll be fine!"

They sure talked loudly. Mordecai pushed open the picket fence gate. He could hear John speaking from inside the house, "Something's up. I'm gonna take the boy and check around back."

"No, please, don't take my boy!"

"Let go, woman!"

Mordecai climbed up the steps. With all the muck and rain, it was difficult not to lose his footing and slip. Muscle Mom was still talking, "Settle down. I don't wanna hurt ya'll."

As he got closer up the steep pathway, a dark figure appeared in the screen door. It was impossible to recognize who it was but once she spoke, Mordecai knew it was Muscle Mom. "John? Mitch, is that you? What's going on out there?" Likewise, she couldn't tell if the silhouette of his was whose.

Uh oh. Now how good was he at imitating peoples' voices? Not good at all. There wouldn't be any point in trying.

"I left Muscle Man in the barn… He got what he deserved!" Mordecai half-lied.

Muscle Mom sounded frightened, "Oh God…" Her figure was no longer visible from the screen door.

His presence was known now. No use in crouching. He stood to his feet, walking straight up to the door. There were the sounds of a slight struggle inside. Mordecai got closer and closer to the screen door. What he saw almost knocked the breath out of him. Through the screen door, he could see Muscle Mom holding Eileen as a hostage at gunpoint. Eileen breathed, "Mordecai!"

"Get back! Don't come in here!" Muscle Mom hissed, "You just HAD to go snooping around, didn't you?!"

"Let her go, Muscle Mom!" He tried to persuade her. He opened the door, dismissing her previous demand. She stopped him in his tracks, "Mordecai, please don't you take another step!" She aimed his gun at him. He had to take this slow and calmly, "Muscle Mom, come on, now, you know you don't want to do this."

"Just go away and leave us be!" her voice broke.

Mordecai slowly took a step forward before being interrupted by Muscle Mom, "Stop right there! I mean it!"

As Mordecai took a step, she would also take a step up the stairs, pulling Eileen along with her, "Just let me go…" Eileen pleaded.

All of a sudden, lightning flashed, lighting up the top of the stairs. There was a pair of ash colored-skinned arms reaching through the balustrade towards Muscle Mom. Connected to them, was a torso, chopped off at the legs. The eyes of it were hungry.

Techmo.

Mordecai mourned quickly and silently to himself for his fallen partner. He would properly do it again after. He stepped forward, before once again having Muscle Mom point her weapon threateningly at him, "Stay back! Don't do anything stupid." Eileen looked like a rag doll, hanging limply by the neck by Muscle Mom's arm.

"Let her go, Muscle Mom."

"Please, listen to him!" Eileen agreed.

Muscle Mom stepped another two steps up the stairs, closer to reanimated Techmo. She put the barrel of the gun against Eileen's temple, "I'll do it!"

Mordecai got even closer this time. Just a few more steps…

"I don't wanna kill you, Mordecai!"

"Please, don't make this any worse. Don't do it. "

"Just stop!" Muscle Mom ordered desperately, stepping up another step.

Mordecai was at the base of the stairs now. Muscle Mom didn't bother stopping him, she continued going up before there was a foul snarl as Walker Techmo grabbed Muscle Mom by the neck, sinking his teeth into it,

"Aghhhhhhhhh!"

Eileen was released from her hold, regaining her stance in front of Mordecai. They showed no concern for the woman being consumed no less than five feet away from them. Eileen shook Mordecai by the shoulders, "They took Rancis! Where's Rigby!?"

"I said don't move, asshole!" John answered her question indirectly. His voice was coming from outside the farmhouse. "Don't you fucking hurt him!" Rigby's voice lashed. "Oh my god!" Eileen cried. The two of them ran out, assessing the scene.

"Let him go, God dammit!" Rigby spat.

Rigby was standing across from John who held Rancis by the ear at gunpoint. It was like the whole scene over again. "That ain't gonna happen!" John barked.

Mordecai tried to calm the situation, "John, don't."

"SHUT UP!" John aimed his gun at Mordecai for a second. Rigby, trying to take advantage, ran forward. John reacted quickly though, reverting his aim back to Rigby and shooting him. "AGHH!" Rigby howled in pain, falling to the ground. The bullet had pierced his side. Eileen shrieked, rushing to Rigby's side. John's rifle followed her moving figure for a moment before deciding that she wouldn't be a threat. "NO!" Rancis cried.

Half of Mordecai wanted to dash to Rigby's side as well, but the other half knew that Rigby would've wanted him to help Rancis. The latter overwhelmed. Mordecai put up his hands in front of him defensively, stepping closer to John. "John!"

"Who the fuck do you people think you are?" John screamed, his eyes widening in contempt, "Look at what you've done!"

"Shut the fuck up." Mordecai's blood boiled.

"You think I'm playin' here, boy?! All we wanted was gas. We came to you peacefully!"

There was a bang as a gun went off. It wasn't John's though. A bullet soared through the air, grazing John on the side of the head. CJ's face fell, she had missed. Now that Rancis had been released, he ran to Rigby.

Mordecai charged forward, lashing out. John's rifle shot, its bullet flying through the air off target. He used his gun as a shield, ramming into Mordecai. There was a struggle, each of them fighting to push against the rifle's side. Mordecai won, shoving the back of it into John's cheek, drops of blood leaked out. Because of the sudden change of balance, the two of the lost their footing, tumbling down the hill and crashing into the picket fence and knocking a large portion of it down. "Errff!"

John was the first to regain his standing, dashing towards Mordecai and kicking him in the face. Mordecai fell backwards in pain, gasping. While he was trying to get up, John strode over to the generator, flicking the switch up. The machine whirred to life. Satisfied, he grabbed Mordecai by his arm, "Get up. Get the fuck up." Mordecai began to be dragged towards the now-on fence. Mordecai hollered, fighting back but with no effect.

He felt a firm hand placed behind his head, trying to shove his face directly into the wire. His arms were held behind his back. He resisted the pushes, only to get even closer to the sizzling metal. He was mere centimeters from the metal and he felt like the electricity was beginning to lick his face.

All of a sudden, Vanellope and Margaret strode from the barn's doors, "Margaret! Help!" he begged.

Vanellope glanced at Margaret urgently. Margaret stared at the rifle in her hands, before looking away from Mordecai and at the ground. She had abandoned him. Vanellope groaned, snatched the rifle from Margaret, and shot John right in the ear, knocking the little girl onto her bottom due to the force. John fell back stunned as Mordecai recovered and finally gained the upper hand. He pinned John to the ground and started throwing punches to his face.

Left hook

Right hook

Left hook

Right hook

Mordecai furiously continued to throw punches at John, while the group stared in horror. CJ approached Mordecai slowly and finally decided to break it up.

“Mordecai, that’s enough.” CJ calmly snapped. Mordecai immediately stopped what he was doing, stood up and looked at CJ. “He’s had enough.”

John seemed to still be alive, holding onto the remaining threads of his life. Blood flowed out of his bleeding, pulsating ear. He struggled to get up, only managing to fall back down again, "Is that all ya got, Mordecai? …You ain't shit!"

Mordecai gasped, trying to catch his breath from the assault, "It's over!" He boomed, his voice echoing.

"Fuck you. As soon as Muscle Bro and Mama get out here…you're all fucked..! Hehe…" He managed to push himself up so he was standing. However, he slouched greatly, finding it difficult to keep standing.

"They’re both dead!”

“What did you do?!” John questioned as his voice started to break. “What the fuck did you do?!”

Mordecai turned away from John, who jabbed a finger in his direction, "Don't you DARE walk away from me, Mordecai!" His voice was steady but his expression seemed to be wavering. Mordecai continued to walk away. John, full of despair, collapsed to the ground on his knees, "GET BACK HERE AND FINISH THIS, MORDECAI…!"

The roar of the thunder accented his cry.

Mordecai stopped in the middle.

In front of him, was his group, waiting for him. Rigby was alive and he seemed to be steady, though he clutched his side painfully.

Behind him, John looked down, still on his knees. He did not care for the muck staining his pants and the rain soaking into his pours. It looked pitiful.

Mordecai could shoot him…or he could walk away.

He shook his head in distaste…it was over. Mordecai continued to ignore John's desperate pleas, walking away without a glance.

"Get back here and fight me like a man, Mordecai!"

There were the heavy steps of the slowly approaching horde, having heard the commotion. While John continued to cry for Mordecai in despair, the generator began to whirr, releasing a foul cloud of steam. The rain had proved too much for it. The fences were now measly and useless. Vulnerability.

"They're getting in!" Vanellope pointed to the oncoming horde. Sure enough, they were. Walkers moaned and growled while either crawling over top the fence or just knocking the whole section down. John knew it was happening, but he shook his head. There was no saving his lovely home now. It was gone. He had lost everything. Including his will to live.

"Let's go. Let's go.." Mordecai ordered his group. They remained silent, before following his lead. Margaret stood for a moment, laying her eyes on John as he did not resist or try to escape. She closed her eyes and shook her head solemnly before following the rest of the party.

At this point, John continued to expressionlessly repeat his opponent's name. One could see that from the barn house, a reanimated Muscle Mom was beginning to stagger down the hill towards the suffering man. The walkers were closer now. But it didn't matter to John Sorrenstein anymore.

Chapter 16: It's Not Stealing If You Need It

The group walked in silence other than the occasional mumble and question. CJ broke the silence between the group, "Hey Mordecai, I'd say I'm sorry for leaving the motel unattended, but…ya know."

"I'm glad you showed up when you did. If you hadn't taken that shot at John, we might not have gotten out of there."

"Were they really…killing people…? For food…?" she murmured.

"Yeah, and Vanellope almost ate some."

"…But?"

"I stopped her. I can't leave her alone now, CJ." Mordecai began, "This fucking world, now. It's hiding just…unspeakable shit at every turn."

"Yeah…I agree. I'm just glad you guys made it out okay." CJ expressed, before reaching into her pocket, "Oh. Eileen managed to grab this while she was in the house. She said it was with your stuff."

It was the video recorder, "Yeah. I found it while I was looking for the people who shot Techmo. Do you want it?"

"Why don't you keep it? Sometimes it helps to have something you can document and keep your thoughts on." She smiled

Rigby seemed to be having trouble, he groaned. Eileen was worried, "How are you doing?"

"I'll be fine. I'm just… not as young as I used to be." He grinned at Rancis and Eileen.

Mordecai walked over to the trio. Rigby noticed, "Hon, go on ahead and give me and Mordecai a second?" They agreed and walked on ahead.

"…How ya holding up, man?" Mordecai inquired.

"It'll heal. We're just damn lucky it wasn't fatal."

"That's good to hear."

"…"

"…"

"…There's gonna be fallout." Rigby glanced sideways.

"…For killing Benson? Yeah, I would imagine so."

"What do you think?" he arched his eyebrow.

"I'm with you, Rigby. We will do what has to be done." Mordecai supported him, showing him his loyalty.

"You’re damn right." He smirked, "Listen, that RV back at the motor inn is just about ready. I've changed my mind. I want you to come with us when we leave."

"…Yeah? Are you sure?"

"Hell yeah. We're a team, man. Me and you! By taking out Benson before he turned…man, you saved all of our lives in that meat locker! And that saved my family too." He grinned, looking Mordecai straight in the eye, "Yeah, I'd say you earned it."

Vanellope strode up to the two. Mordecai said softly, "Come on Vanellope, stay close."

"That. Was. Intense.” Vanellope spoke

"Yeah, it was.” said Mordecai. “I thought that was it for us."

“Well, we made it." Vanellope stated. "That's all that matters.

Rancis suddenly spoke up, "Hey Rigby, what's that noise?"

Rigby squinted, getting closer, "Sounds like a car…"

"Oh, God… not more strangers." Thomas breathed.

Rigby glanced at Mordecai and nodded. The two of them crouched low, turning the corner. It was a car. The doors were wide open…was it abandoned? "Come out, or I’ll shoot!" Mordecai called out towards it.

There was no response.

They began to approach the vehicle slowly. Mordecai led the way. As he got closer to the car, he noticed a bunch of things sticking up in the back. He got closer to the opened doors, peering inside. There was nobody inside the vehicle. So it was abandoned. It looked like it hadn't been here for too long. The keys were still there, he tried turning it. Empty. Figures.

"Oh crap!" Rigby exclaimed, "Baby, you've gotta see this!" Mordecai peered into the back of the car. His jaw nearly dropped.

Oh crap. His thoughts mirrored Rigby's.

"There is a shit load of food and supplies back here!" Rigby continued.

Everyone rushed ahead to see if it was true. Eileen examined the supplies, "This food could save ALL of us!"

Margaret glanced sideways, her tone serious, "…Not ALL of us."

Rigby sighed deeply. "…"

"Look, we don't know if these people are dead." Thomas crossed his arms.

Margaret agreed, "If they come back, then we're just monsters who came out of the woods and ruined their lives."

Vanellope didn’t care if it belonged to someone or not. She was tired of the hunger pains. “I’d say we take it.”

“Rigby, whose car is it?" Rancis looked uneasy.

"Don't worry about that Rancis, it's ours now."

"It's abandoned, Rancis. Don't worry." Eileen reassured.

Vanellope spoke up, "All the more reason to take it! We’re starving. We have to take this stuff.”

It was just like his young charge to not be too hasty. She was starving, and it was Mordecai’s duty to take care of her. He agreed with her decision.

“You’re right.” said Mordecai. “We have to take this stuff.”

“Then unlock the trunk and lets get looting.” Rigby ordered. Mordecai approached the trunk, and unlocked the door. He opened it and starting unloading the food and supplies from the trunk, and handed them to his comrades. After the trunk was looted, CJ approached Mordecai and Vanellope.

"Here you go Mordecai, I found some batteries. I thought they might work in your camcorder." She handed some to Vanellope as well, "Here, you can have some too… for your walkie-talkie."

Mordecai handed her the camcorder to put the batteries in. Moments later, she spoke, "Oh, god. Mordecai. You're gonna want to see this…" CJ handed him the camcorder in which on the screen, a video played.

"Oh shit…" Mordecai realized in horror.

On the camcorder, was a recording of the group. Whoever was recording this had been watching them. It showed a recording that had probably been from weeks ago, when they had started building the barricade that now fortified the motor inn. The footage was shaky and bad-quality. The majority of it was zoomed in on Vanellope nonchalantly leaning against the outside wall before cutting off to the next video.

The next video had probably been a mis-recording. It was portrayed upside down and apparently in a vehicle's seat. In the corner of the video, you could see a masked bandit approaching the speaker who Mordecai recognized to be Jolene. "JAKE, BART, LINDA and ALL YA'LL FUCKIN' SICKOS FROM THE SAVE-LOTS! THEY CALL YA'LL BANDITS! BUT YOU'RE FUCKING RAPIST MONSTERS—" before the audio from the video cut off as well as the footage to the next video.

How long had Jolene been watching them? The next video was of a recording that Mordecai recalled earlier this day. Approximately around the time that Thomas had joined the gang. Jolene had zoomed in shakily on Vanellope sitting by the doodle board, "Oh darling baby girl look at you. Look. At. You. Oh, you need a momma, sweetheart. We won't let the, bandits get you, will we?" Vanellope had gotten up from Rancis’s drawing and approached Mordecai. Mordecai remembered the words,

"How are you doing Vanellope?”

“Not so good.” said Vanellope. “I lost my hair tie.”

“Bummer.” Mordecai muttered.

“Can you look for it for me?” she asked.

“Yeah, I can do that.”

“Thanks, Mordy.” Vanellope replied with a smile. "I look weird with my hair down."

Jolene had continued her rant, "Y'all thinkin' you're safe, sittin' there actin' like things were the way they used to be." She flipped the camcorder to record on her face, showing her blemishes, "The dead don't kill their own. It's the living you gotta be afraid of… the people I used to call friends… The people who took… Don't worry, little girl. Bandits got their eye on that dairy. As long as they keep getting food from them, you'll be safe."

"I promise."


Trivia

  • First appearance of Thomas.
  • First appearance of the Save-Lot Bandits.
  • First (and last) appearance of Techmo.
  • First (and last) appearance of John Sorrenstein.
  • First (and last) appearance of Muscle Man.
  • First (and last) appearance of Muscle Mom.
  • First (and last) appearance of Dave.
  • First (and last) appearance of Sensai.
  • First (and last) appearance of Jolene.
  • Last appearance of Benson.
  • Since Thomas portrays Ben, and the latter worked on a goat farm in the summer, it is changed so that the former had worked at a cow farm, since he's a goat himself.
  • Like Vanellope, Muscle Man and John are out of character from who they truly are in their respective program to match how the St. Johns interacted with Lee's group in The Walking Dead.
  • Since Vanellope portrays Clementine, and the latter was missing her hat at the beginning of the episode, it is changed so that the former had lost her hair tie since she doesn't wear a hat.
  • Instead of Vanellope desperately waiting for Margaret to save Mordecai from John during the latter two's fight, Vanellope is angered by Margaret not saving Mordecai and the former female takes the latter female's gun and does it herself.
  • Instead of refusing to take the supplies like Clementine did in the real episode, Vanellope is quick to take the stuff since she was hungry.

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