Gretchen and Norma were trudging through a large open field as they continued their journey to find Asa and Uncle Hunter for Norma. Gretchen just wanted to find something…somewhere in the realm of normal. She didn't really know but this was not what she was expecting for today. She was expecting something along the lines of making herself at home in a juvenile detention center and instead she's here…trying to figure out what was going on. She's faintly worried about her father and mother but she hasn't had much contact with either for a considerable amount of time so what was the point of even worrying about them. They gave up on themselves and Gretchen before they even had a chance so there wasn't much point of going back. That's the way she sees it anyway. Of course, she kept this internal turmoil to herself. The last thing this kid needed was to be freaked out even more.
Norma was definitely freaked out. There are monsters out here (and not like the living human ones she's met on her journey here but genuine movie monsters). She was only ten and just wanted to find her brother. Well, some shade, water and food would be nice too but she could figure that out later, right? Also, why was this girl being so helpful? She didn't strike Norma as the most responsible person but looks can be deceiving and Norma had kept to herself since learning that people didn't always have the best intentions with children. Norma supposes it says something that she's so willing to do everything she can to take care and protect Norma but she's still kind of worried. After all, Gretchen was on the way to the same place as her and they don't just send you to juvie for no reason, right? So, yes, Norma was freaking out but she kept it inside. No need to freak out or make Gretchen want to go away too.
They were both profusely sweating and Norma's little legs and feet were hurting her but she didn't want to complain. Besides, what was the point of complaining about hurt legs and feet when the end of the world was here? They'd only been walking for about an hour but even an hour's walk with the sun beating down on someone can feel like several hours. It wouldn't be so bad if they were in a wooded area, at least the trees would provide some shade but they were in walking in this field, as the sun beat against their backs. Needless to say, the lack of water or shade was getting to them both but Gretchen took up responsibility to take care of this kid for the time being and that's what she's going to do until she could no longer fulfill her part of the deal…or until they found her living, breathing brother…whichever came first. She really hoped she could get Norma to her brother but so far, Gretchen didn't feel like she was doing a good job of taking care of her. Norma was already really small and clearly hadn't been receiving enough nutrition for a while now. Gretchen just didn't know exactly what she could possibly do to help. Again, Gretchen kept these thoughts silent because this kid needed her and she'd be damned if she gave up on this kid like her parents gave up on her.
Just up ahead of them, about a half a mile or so, Gretchen spotted a wooded area that seemed like a nice area to breathe and get some shade. Maybe even get Norma to hide/rest in a tree while she looked for some water. That was the best plan she could think of at the moment.
"Hey, Norma that wooded area up ahead might be a good place to stop to rest a bit."
Norma squints her tired eyes in the area just ahead of them and gave Gretchen an exhausted nod. So they continued to walk in silence.
When they finally reached the wooded area, Gretchen decided to find a high tree close to the road but slightly hidden to help Norma climb onto. At this point, Gretchen was just as exhausted as Norma but she couldn't let Norma down.
"Norma, I need you to stay up there for now. If you see anyone of the human or monster category, holler for me and I'll come runnin', okay?" Norma's throat was a bit dry so she couldn't get much out other than a screech of an affirmative but Gretchen understood her and left, silently noting not to go too far. With every step, she couldn't help but to regret not having searched the cottage for water and maybe something to eat. She was scared and wanted to get Norma out of there as quickly as possible but now she needed water desperately and couldn't help but to beat herself up about her lack of forethought.
After about fifteen minutes she sees a small stream of water and runs up to it but realizes she has nothing to carry it in but she might be able to make something if she looks around. For a good ten minutes she searches for something to carry the water in before she's almost ready to give up, cry and go back to Norma when she finds a can that would normally have food in it but it's relatively clean and empty so she grabs it and runs back to the stream. It's small but it'll do for now. Gretchen soon realizes that running wasn't the best idea. She's exerted a great deal more of energy now and with no food or water, she exhaustedly gathers water into the can, slowly walks back to Norma but before she leaves the area, she sees one of those dead things…face down in the stream of water she just got water from.
There's an instant feeling of rage and sadness that Gretchen feels in this moment. First of all, she went through so much trouble and energy just to find this water and now she doesn't even think they can drink it. It makes her want to cry and scream at the same time. She doesn't want to alert the thing to her presence but an anguished, "Are you fuckin' kiddin' me," comes out anyway. Naturally, the thing now notices her and she angrily throws the can down and makes a run for it. She could try to fight it off but doesn't really think she could. She's too tired and needs to get back to Norma before she collapses.
After zigzagging her way through the woods as fast as she can, Gretchen realizes that she needs to get a plan together and kill this thing before she ends up stuck in the damn tree with Norma forever. She's just short of the tree when the thing pounces and she's on the ground struggling with this thing that is literally trying to rip out her throat but she's losing more and more energy and knows she doesn't have long before that thing gets its way. She lies there, the machete just out of her reach, trying to push back the thing and she looks up to find Norma with her eyes…maybe to silently apologize for failing her (she's not exactly thinking straight right now and figures it's over for her) but she's not there. There's a bit of panic in her heart but it has a way of driving her to try harder. Just as she's about to use the last bit of energy to shove the thing off of her, her eyes clenched closed to find some last ditch effort for Norma, she hears this squelching noise above her and the thing has stopped moving. She quickly shoves it off of her and sits up to see Norma dropping down to sit, with this exhausted smile on her face.
After a few moments of silence and attempting to catch respective breaths, Norma breathily says, "I figured you might need some help finding water and I left in another direction after you left. See?"
Norma lefts up two unopened small bottles of water for them both with a toothy and proud grin.
Gretchen is so happy that she could cry. Gretchen realizes that Norma is a very capable little girl and, from that moment on, promised never to underestimate her abilities but help when needed. After all, Norma's just saved her life. She didn't need a babysitter; she needed a partner to watch her back and Gretchen supposes she could use a partner too.
Gretchen decided not to question where Norma got the water, helped her get back into the tree and climbing up, weakly, herself. Silently sipping their waters and sitting in the tree, they're both able to rest a bit but they both realize that they both need to start moving again soon.
Eventually, the minutes slipped away, they decided that they needed to get down from the tree and start moving again (hoping that the few minutes of rest and sips of water would be enough to get them to Asa). They stowed what was left of their water in their state issued jumpsuit pockets and started walking again.