Aubrey opens the van's twin rear doors. As he reaches in to lift the box of empty jars, he feels the wind shutter. Above him, the season's first snowfall begins.
He pulls down the bandana around his face to feel stray snowflakes fall on his gore-stained cheeks. He breathes in slow. The street outside his new home is empty, and for once, he can only hear the winds of November.
Travis leans over the open interior of Aubrey's car, who stands at the head of the driveway with a cigarette in his hand. He attends to the engine the way a surgeon does a body, carving a path and cutting inside. Travis cracks him a smile and Aubrey doesn't know if the other knows what he's doing.
"All set," the older man says, and Aubrey nods stiffly. Travis wanted to know where he was set up, and now he sees the farmstead Aubrey set up for himself. It used to belong to his neighbors as a child. He's almost certain the Ariels are dead now, too, either shot when escaping the county or eaten alive by each other's walking corpses. Only a little part of him feels guilty squatting in their house, but he knows he can't go back to his parents' house. He might break down. He might kill himself in the living room. Who's to say?
The hood of the car closes with a thunk. Aubrey flicks away his cigarette into the grass and forces a smile at Travis.
The words of the soldier are marked with gunfire, with their companions firing at distant corpses. He can't see their eyes, but he knows they've got bullets, carved with his name. For a moment, he wonders -- would it be so bad to disobey and face the consequences?
"She's down the road," he says, pointing towards a distant red box truck. The soldier looks down the road of Rosewood, and nods. They beckon to Aubrey to follow them into their bus, which he does, robotic and vacant.
The girl is murdered later. By the soldiers, of course. He knew he was signing a death warrant for the woman when she was being hunted by name. Aubrey gets nothing from it, of course. Only the knowledge another died before he could, cut down and left without burial. He sits in front of his radio, so graciously donated to him by a man now dead, and waits for a response to a man whom he most certainly shouldn't be selling information to, closing his eyes to the buzzing of the radio and the new-old sound of a running fridge, in the kitchen behind him.
"Real good to meet you Aubrey," Samuel says, Abigail and Sean entering their car once more. "Please, contact us on the radio, we'll be in touch."
Aubrey says, "Good luck with your chemo," and Samuel seems to grin.
"Thank you. I appreciate it. Stick them funky beats back on," Samuel says as he sits back into the car, staring at the back of Abigail's driver seat.
The snow is cold on his shoulders, his cheeks reddened from the blizzard's chill. He hadn't heard of the Outpost; only that some survivors were creating a hideout in Rosewood. But that was ages ago. He watches the three drive away, the cassette picking up its tune. Aubrey breathes in the icy wind. He hated the sense he was missing out on something, even if such things were beyond him. The snow crunches under his boots as he turns to his beat-up cruiser, hopping in - he feels the taste of a half-working heater on his tongue as stale air gets pushed through his van's interior.
Aubrey stands in the broken gate front. Behind him is the cold, empty convenience store that he remembers seeing Olivia in, weeks before.
They never knew each other - brushes with survivors in an empty world. He doubts she remembered him after he walked away from the intersection weeks ago. But there is so little within his thoughts and experiences that involve other souls, that he remembers her. The living souls of others print on to his walking corpse like water stains. He walks through the snow into the once barricaded street. She had mentioned she was a carpenter, once, when they were hiding in the same house following the devastation of Muldraugh. He left the city weeks ago, but maybe she was still here.
He enters the barricaded house through an open window in the back, half-obscured by a bloodied car. The building is barren of what makes a home, instead crammed with storage crates. The cabinets had been stripped from the walls and the sink was dark with grime and blackened ceramic. Canned food with a layer of dust. The unpleasant texture of dirt and moisture together, leaving surfaces oddly sticky. When he ascends the stairs, he finds the suggestion of a living space - a television, a bookcase, a couch - yet this, too, is filthy. It is not the same sort of decay as the buildings in the neighborhood, but it is all he needs to know that Olivia is likely dead.
He doesn't feel anything. They did not know each other, after all. She was not some cousin that he had reunited. Not some neighbor from the same street. Just a stranger. But what should he feel when entering the home of the deceased? He cannot say it is as if it was as one would leave it; the house is uninviting, the same way a barn without animals is. The way a storefront with its windows smashed warns others to not enter. Aubrey sits on the couch as January's snow falls outside. It is exhausting to defy death for so long. He lays down with his coat over him and watches his obscure shadow in the reflection of the dark television screen.
His hand hesitates over the form. Doctor Foxworthy pretends like he isn't looking over at Aubrey, and for that, he's rather thankful.
When May and her friend told him that the 'Town' had splintered, Aubrey expected most of them to be dead - not a half-hour's drive from each other. Makes him think about how easy it must be to lose other people when you have someone you want to look for. He's heard voices on his radio, people calling out to one another and praying that they meet again. He's unfamiliar with the feeling, unless you count the miserable longing he's had to join in with others. But what exists to be joined in on now? Walks through the woods for a bag you hung in a tree? Sharing a bottle of water near a dying fire before the cold puts you under for good? It's not as if they're going to talk on the radio if they reunite, now, would they?
Aubrey exhales, annoyed. It's only when Doctor Foxworthy fakes looking away again does he hurriedly write in the sentence he's stalling on, and then lays the pen down on the notepad. Not much of a medical form, but he hadn't been to the doctor's in years. Foxworthy's having to make do just like the rest of them.
"Thank you," Doctor Foxworthy says, putting the pen away and quietly folding the notepad shut. Aubrey puts his hands in his pockets, feeling the unwanted dread finally creep out of him.
"I'm going back to my place," Aubrey mutters, in a flat tone. "I'll start bringing shit over, but I'll need a car."
The doctor nods, and Aubrey laments he cannot share the same hope he has on his lingering smile. At least one of them can harbor hope.
Aubrey would go on to join the new founded Kentucky Rangers, founded between Alexander Tenpenny and Doctor Damien Foxworthy. Florian Pujol, Arthur Colville, and Howard Nelson would join the same faction, with a hope that May Forka or Caedmon Helmsby would reunite with them after the separation from their previous faction. Such a future was not seen by Aubrey, for not even the lingering hope of the doctor could inspire him to the future of reshaping Ekron, nor endear him to pursuing life in an apocalyptic world. The pull of misery dragged him below the depths, farther than any furious horde and their hungry claws, and he killed himself in the first week of April 1994.
(rip season 3 - see you all in season 4!)