Some of The Walking Dead‘s most effective moments come when we stumble on the aftermath of a location where other survivors met their ultimate demise. In the latest episode, “Twice As Far,” we got to see one of the creepiest such scenes yet when Denise got a bit too curious about what was lurking in the back room of Edison’s Apothecary.
If you weren’t paying careful attention, you might have missed all the details that went into the strongest bit of nightmare fuel we’ve witnessed in a while.
It all starts with an impromptu scavenger mission to an apothecary Denise remembers seeing on her escape from D.C. As Daryl, Rosita and Denise approach, it’s obvious that Edison’s was a popular hangout for walkers.
Inside the store, Denise pokes and prods at the various displays and shelves. Under the glass of one counter she sees pictures of a young boy. It’s reminiscent of the opening credits from season one, pictures from another time before the world fell apart.
While Daryl and Rosita ransack the pharmacy, Denise hears a faint thudding noise and decides to investigate a separate back room. The door is ajar and swings open easily. On the floor as she walks in are children’s books covered in mud and dirt.
If the books don’t tip you off as to where this was going, the crib should. Consider this a courtesy bop over the head from the makers of The Walking Dead: You might not want to see what comes next.
And here’s the source of the noise: a walker so decomposed it can barely lift its arm. From the hair you can tell it was probably a woman. Scraps of a blue dress lie in tatters over her remains. Her bottom jaw is gone for some unknown reason, exposing angry red flesh underneath. Her skin has decomposed horribly in the humidity of the room.
On her leg is a plaster cast, starting to rot into green. You start to get a sense of why she holed up in the apothecary: She wasn’t going to be very mobile with a broken limb. And there’s a child to think about. Wait … where is the child?
On the walls, the word “HUSH” is scrawled in red crayon, again and again. HUSH HUSH HUSH HUSH HUSH.
And in the utility sink, the top of a child’s shoe. It has a heavy rubber tread, the kind a toddler who has gotten the hang of walking would wear. The water is red and brown. Fatty white detritus has collected on the surface near the shoe, as if something is decomposing under the water.
Our theory on what happened: This was the unfortunate owner of Edison’s Apothecary and her young son, whom we saw in earlier pictures under the counter. When the zombie apocalypse hit, they were trapped in the store. At first it seemed like a blessing. The walkers couldn’t get through the plywood some early responders nailed onto the front of all the stores in the strip mall. But days turned into weeks and no further help came.
The cries of her child kept the walkers right at their door, clawing and hissing as they tried to get in. The more he cried, the more they came. His cries agitated them. Every time it seemed like they’d leave he would cry and they returned, banging against the front of the store with renewed ferocity.
She tried to calm the child, keep it quiet. But they had run out of food. There was something wrong with the baby… Did he have an infection? He barely slept. He threw tantrums and screamed and screamed. She tried to hush him, hush hush sleep now my baby sleep and be quiet and the monsters will go. And then… what? But it didn’t matter what, there was never enough silence, and the herd outside seemed to grow day by day.
In the end she couldn’t take the screaming, from the living or the dead. The baby was hot. She tried to cool him in the sink but he thrashed and screamed, his skin was red and irritated. The endless banging from outside continued to grow louder until she was sure this was it, they’d break through today or tonight and devour them both. Hush, child. Hush. She pushed him deeper into the water. Hush. Be silent and we can go. Hush. Hush. HUSH. HUSH. HUSH.
Okay, enough of that. Well done, Walking Dead. That was one of the most disturbing scenes you’ve ever left for us to over-imagine. Now let’s cleanse our palates with a Norman Reedus unicorn and kitten chaser: