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Burning Bright

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Three days before Halloween Buffy watched a house, or maybe it was a barn burn brightly against the dark night sky as a large herd of walkers overran it completely. Her keen sense of hearing allowed her to listen to the screams of fear and grief and someone shouting what sounded like orders, as people were no doubt being bitten by the undead. If she had been alone she might've taken the chance to run over and try to help, but she had a small pre-teen girl sitting beside her on the rooftop.

Buffy had found the girl running in the forest by herself less than a week earlier. In between dodging walkers, small groups of survivors, and trying to blend into the landscape they had been unable to find Sophia's mother and the rest of her group. With her luck, the burning farm was probably where they had been staying. Which meant there was a good chance they were all scattering to who knew where.

Sophia had spoken of a traffic snarl where they had gotten stuck before ending up on the Green Farm, but she didn't know where it was or how to get there. It didn't help that it sounded like there was a fight for leadership and no backup plans if anything went wrong. No rendezvous point in case they got separated. They might try to meet up at the traffic snarl, but again, she didn't know where it was located.

The house she had used as a base was relatively safe given the situation. It had a stone fence all around it, and inside that were huge trees shielding them from anyone who might be looking. It wouldn't stop a determined herd if they heard a loud noise, but otherwise, they simply shambled around it. They would have to move though as the walkers were coming their way and she would not be tempting fate that much, even if there was a good chance they would not be discovered if they stayed quiet.

A low voice broke the silence between them, "Do you think that is the Green Farm?"

"Maybe, I don't know." Buffy looked back to the burning building, "If it is, it's going to be a lot more difficult to find your mom."

If she was still alive. If they could find her or anyone else in the group. If. If.

Buffy got up into a crouch and whispered, "Come on, we need to leave before they get too close to us."

The little girl followed quickly and they went inside to collect the single backpack they each carried, before going as quietly as they could downstairs and outside to the car. Sophia didn't talk much, which Buffy both did and didn't appreciate. It made them less likely to attract unwanted attention, but at the same time, she missed regular conversations.

Once in the car, she started it but refrained from turning on the lights. She had excellent night vision and it had only gotten better over the years. It wouldn't stop the undead from hearing the motor, but it would hopefully make them a little more difficult to locate. Even a few seconds could mean the difference between an escape and a bite.

A week later they were standing outside what Sophia confirmed to be the Greene Farm. The barn was in ashes, but the house was still standing, and there were no walkers nearby.

"What do you say? Should we go inside, see if there's anything worth salvaging before we continue?"

The girl nodded and they went inside. A quick search of the house revealed cans of food, liquids, and other usable things. There were no bodies inside, not alive, not dead, and not undead. The house did turn out to have running water, and unable to resist the temptation they both took a quick shower after Buffy locked and barricaded all the doors. It was unwise, but...

Feeling properly clean for the first time in almost three months, they loaded the car with whatever food and water they could find, along with a blanket and pillow each. Buffy also took the matches she found and a few other things. It wasn't as much as Buffy had hoped for, but anything was better than nothing. As she drove away from the farm, picking a random direction, she just hoped Carol Peletier had made it and that they would find her soon.