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The Walker Code

Guest Jen

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Story Title: The Walker Code

Type of Story: One shot

Main Characters: Sasha, Dex, Indi, (minor Sid, April)

BTTB rating: G

Genre: Family Angst

Does this story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: No

Summary: Sasha realises that there are certain attributes that make you a Walker. (Originally for episode 5570, including events in 5581.)


fic: The Walker Code

She sees it at the bottom of a cardboard box shoved way in the back of Dex’s wardrobe.

Sasha knows she’s snooping, and Dex would kill her if he ever found out she was going through his things, but still. Here she is; kneeling on the floor of her brother’s bedroom pulling out action figure after action figure until she finally reaches something interesting.

It’s a small, red exercise book, Dex’s name in wobbly capital letters on the front and she inspects it for a moment, playing a game with herself. Can she predict what’s going to be inside before she opens it?

She knows she’s going to open it.

Knowing Dex it’s probably wildly uninteresting, something sentimental to him, like his year two spelling tests where he got all one hundred words correct; or potentially semi-embarrassing, like the draft love-letters he was planning on writing to April or some other girl he loved along the way. Her mind briefly slips into some scarring place, like fanfiction or weird fetishes, but she quickly puts a lid on that thought, because even though she sometimes doubts how much she knows her brother – she isn’t that far off.

So Sasha opens the cover, the first few pages wrinkled in the corners, but otherwise in good condition. The first page is mostly blank, except for the title, written in block letters and underlined in lead pencil.



Rule #1: Cheating at Board Games is Never Okay (Even If You’re Heart Broken; Especially If You’re Heart Broken)

It starts when Dex has just begun high school and Indi has her first break up.

The guy’s name was Zac and they dated for a total of 3 weeks and according to Indi he was the most perfect guy ever. He played for the school soccer team and they were going to the school dance together, or at least, they were until Indi caught Zac kissing Missy from Home Ec down by the bike racks and Indi was, understandably, gutted.

Indi comes home that afternoon in tears. She won’t talk to their mum on the car ride home and stomps straight to her room, slamming the door behind her as soon as they get in.

At dinner time, Indi doesn’t come out of her room, but Dex has to turn off his video game he was playing and sit at the table. He expresses his disapproval of the double standard in the household, but his dad just says, “Dex,” in that exasperated way he sometimes does.

His mum reaches across and places a hand over Dex’s, saying, “Indi is having a bit of a break, okay? When you’re a little older, you’ll understand.”

Dex nods, although he doesn’t really get it. Indi can’t have loved Zac. Yes, maybe Dex saw her drawing their initials in hearts on the back of her worksheets, but she can’t have been under the impression that they were going to be together forever. She can’t be that upset, or, if she is, all she needs is a little cheering up.

And that is what Dex plans to do; cheer Indi up.

Indi pads out of her bedroom some time later, while Dex is watching tv in the lounge room. She’s wearing her pyjamas even though it’s only 7.30 and she’s always teasing Dex about his early bed time. She goes to the fridge and pulls out the carton of milk, pouring herself a glass.

“Wanna play a game?” Dex offers and Indi glances over at him. Her eyes are red, cheeks blotchy and Dex can tell she’s been crying again. He holds up the box of Connect 4 he’d been nursing, waiting for this moment. He knew Indi would have to come out eventually, probably to eat since she didn’t have dinner.

Indi shrugs, doesn’t say anything, but comes over.

They sit on the floor, either side of the low coffee table. Indi takes the red counters and goes first, while Dex is yellow. Dex doesn’t say anything, concentrating on the game, only occasionally sneaking glances at Indi. She’s seems okay, only mildly sniffling, wiping at her eyes, but at least she’s not crying.

So, in Dex’s opinion, it’s all going great until Dex sees he’s got the winning move. Indi sniffles and tells Dex something she’s never said to him before. “You’re a really good brother, Dex.”

And that’s all it takes for Dex to makes his decision.

He places a counter way out left, nowhere near his expertly crafted diagonal and Indi just blinks for a moment before slotting her red counter in place. “Connect Four?”

Dex sighs, sits back on his heels and says, “You beat me.”

“Yeah,” Indi says, but she hasn’t looked up, her eyes still carefully trained to Dex’s one lone counter, and then the realisation seems to dawn on her. “You let me win.”


“You let me win.”

“No, I didn’t,” Dex replies quickly; maybe too quickly.

Indi’s eyes widen. “You did! You threw the game!”

“I just – I just thought that if you won then you wouldn’t be sad and –”

Dex has clearly said the wrong thing because Indi practically explodes. Slamming her hands down on the coffee table, rattling the grid and scrambling to her feet. “You let me win because you think I’m just as big a loser as Zac did. You didn’t believe I could win fair and square so you had to throw the game so I’d even stand a chance!”

“I think you’re over-reacting –”

Well, that just makes everything worse.

Indi storms off to her room, door slamming shut so loudly that their parents both appear in the doorway demanding to know what Dex did to upset Indi – because at a time like this, everything is apparently Dex’s fault.

Dex gets sent to his own room after that, which is so stupid because Dex was only trying to help and Indi’s room is right next door to his so he can hear her stomping about and moping, and Dex can actually visualise her flopping dramatically onto her bed, flinging an arm over her face and sighing loudly, because the world is so unfair.

Saturday morning, Dex creeps out of his room and finds Indi on the lounge, already claiming the tv for her watching. Once Dex had started high school Indi had made fun of Dex for continuing to watch silly Saturday morning cartoon shows, but here she was, still in her pyjamas, eyes glued to the animated characters on the screen.

He hovers for a moment, banks on Indi not being able to resist glancing over to him and chooses that exact moment to pounce.

“I don’t think you’re a loser,” Dex says, and he means it. For all the teasing and fighting that he and his sister impart on each other, he does actually care and doesn’t want to upset her – at least, not on purpose. “Did you know Zac is re-taking science because he failed it last year?” Indi stares at him, like she’s trying not to be curious about what Dex knows. He shrugs. “He comes into my class sometimes and sits at the back because apparently if he doesn’t pass this year his dad will pull him from the soccer team.”

Indi is silent. She flicks her eyes back to the tv, like maybe she wants the conversation to be over. But Dex still thinks about last night, and how he doesn’t actually want his sister to be mad at him, or sad over Zac because she’s so much better than him, and mostly Dex doesn’t want to get in trouble again.

He sees the Connect 4 box under the coffee table where his parents put it last night. He catches Indi’s eye again, nods in its direction, asking, “Rematch?”

This time Dex doesn’t go lightly, and apparently Indi isn’t that devastated anymore because she’s playing harder too. Dex ends up winning, setting up a double horizontal and diagonal which means he can’t lose, and as Dex’s counter clicks into place he looks up to see Indi purse her mouth, and for a second wishes he could have lost – just this once.

Indi stands and Dex sighs, thinking she’s going to storm off to her room, or whinge to their parents that Dex cheated or whatever, but then she’s coming back, dropping to the floor in front of Dex with a pack of Uno cards.

She deals, face blank, but she’s got a good poker face and Dex thinks he might have an upper hand because he’s got three green cards all lined up and then Indi puts down a Skip followed immediately by a Draw 4.

And oh. It is on.


Sasha doesn’t want to let it bother her. It shouldn’t.

Dex had told her enough times that a surname didn’t mean anything and Sasha was one of them, whether she liked it or not. But even so, and she doesn’t regularly admit this to herself, she still feels a pang of jealousy when they get grouped together as ‘The Walker’s’ and Sasha knows she’ll never, truly, be part of that.

Now it feels less like Sasha discovering some secret about Dex, and more, rubbing her nose in the fact that this family existed quite happily before she even came along. At this point in time, Sid didn’t know that Sasha existed. How is something like that supposed to make her feel?

But the same applies to Sasha. She was a Bezmel first, and she had Felix and her mum, and that was good enough. She was happy, and didn’t realise anything was missing until someone ripped her open and told her she had other pieces of her puzzle to fit in. She figured they’d go around the edges – a biological dad, half-siblings – but instead, over time, they’ve lodged themselves firmly in the centre. They are a crucial part of her now, not just an add-on, but a part of who Sasha is, and she doesn’t want to think too hard about how a jigsaw puzzle with a piece mussing is never really complete.

She flicks through a few more pages, this one with a smudge of dirt running down the left-hand margin and when she holds the page up closer for inspection, she is sure she can smell moss and rain embedded in the paper.


Rule #4: Walker’s Must Never Run

It was supposed to be a “family bonding” weekend.

Dex likes to refer to it as: ‘The Moment He Realised that He was Genetically Linked to a Group Of People Who Can’t Survive Without at least One Foot Firmly Placed on the Ground.’

“Camping?” Indi asks, scrunching up her noise in complete disdain.

“Yes, Indigo,” Sid affirms. “Camping. As a family.”

Indi groans loudly, dramatically flopping her head down onto the dining room table where they are all eating breakfast together. She mumbles into her elbow, “Why don’t you just kill me now?”

“Come on, sweetie,” their mum says, “It’ll be fun. Right, Dex?”

Dex nods, trying not to let the absolute joy of it all become too obvious.

“See?” Sid notices. “Just be a little open to trying new things like your brother.”

Dex bites down on his lip, tries to look bashful about the whole thing.

Dex’s excitement as he shoves t-shirts and socks into a back-pack is two-fold.

One; The kids at school are always making fun of Dex’s inability to climb the rope in Phys Ed. His general non-athleticness, something they enjoy poking fun at. Well, if Dex goes camping, like the other boys are always gloating that they do with their fathers, then he’s just that much closer to being on the inside, as opposed to on his own.

And two; Indi will be miserable.

Which is how Dex ends up trudging through bushland, two hours outside the city, on his way to a camp ground that his father swears is just around the next bend.

The ‘camp ground’ is more a small clearing, and Indi stares around in mild disgust. “Where are the bathrooms?”

Sid is helping his wife settle down on a fallen log, and she begins unpacking the tins of food they’ve brought for dinner. “Pick a tree,” he replies over his shoulder, and Indi groans and stomps off to the side of the clearing, dropping her backpack unhappily to the ground.

It’s not too bad, once they get the camp set up. They’ve only got two tents, so Dex is sharing with Indi, and his dad manages to start a fire. Dex has spent the afternoon exploring the area, and he’s pretty stoked that he discovered a small lake not too far from their set up. He paddles in the shallows and by the time they’ve eaten dinner, Dex is wrecked.

As soon as the sun begins to go down is when the noises start.

Indi keeps whipping her head around every time a twig cracks or the wind whistles and by the end Sid isn’t even bothering to placate her. They both get sent to bed, although Dex doesn’t understand why he’s being punished.

In the middle of the night Dex wakes to Indi shaking him, whispering, “Did you hear that?”

Dex groans, tries to roll over and go back to sleep, but Indi just starts poking him, hissing, “Seriously? How could you not hear that? Get up!”


Dex rubs his eyes, wriggles a little to get his arms out of his sleeping bag. The tent is mostly dark, a faint light coming from somewhere outside, so Dex has to a blink a bit to adjust to the darkness. He can see Indi’s eyes wide, hovering above him. Her eyes seemed trained to the slanted side of the tent, and Dex is about to tell her that she’s making things up, when he hears it.

A groan. A creak. And Dex freezes.

Indi’s eyes are the size of saucers as she stares back at Dex, and for the first time, Dex feels the fear creep into him.

The noise seems to get louder, a scratching sound has been added to their creepy soundtrack, and Dex is sure that he hears footsteps trudging closer. His brain jumps to the only logical conclusion: Bear.

Dex can’t stop picturing the giant bear that’s trapping them from outside their tent. He sees them being mauled to pieces, limbs ripped apart and their parents finding them dead in the morning.

There’s a loud, low groan and all the little hairs stand up on Dex’s arm. He’s well and truly awake now, sitting ramrod straight, legs still inside his sleeping bag, Indi pulling her blanket up closer to chin, like that’ll stop any carnivorous predators that are going to attack.

“We’ll have to make a run for it,” Dex explains in a hush.

Indi’s eyes are wide, caught between thinking Dex is completely insane for wanting to go out there and scared witless.

It’s a long, loud howl that does it, Dex crouching at the entrance to the tent, Indi bobbing down somewhere from behind and he knows he should probably wait for her, but some sort of fight or flight response kicks in and he screams at the top of his lungs and makes a run for it.

He runs through the dark, can’t see anything in front of his face, let alone where his feet land. He trips and stumbles, uses his hands to grapple at the soil when he nearly face-plants it. But his heart is pounding, breath thumping through him, legs hitting the ground, buckling under his weight. He staggers into a branch, a bush, leaves scratch and scrape up against his bare skin but he can’t stop, won’t stop, for fear of whatever is catching up with him.

Nothing else registers around him apart from the whistle past his ears as he streaks downhill. The ground tilts, descends, and he knows he’s heading for the lake. Dex’s mantra, ‘Bears can’t swim. Bears can’t swim. Can’tswimincan’tswim,’ is what keeps him running when his chest is throbbing, each breath a shallow heave, and he launches himself straight into the water, the freezing temperature chilling him to his very core.

“Dex! DEXTER! Dex, stop!”

He turns slowly around, up to his waist in cold water, and clings to his body for warmth, protection. Through the narrow path leading towards the lake, Dex sees a bauble of light bobbing up and down, before it appears in full view. His dad is attached to the end of it, holding a torch; his mum and Indi close behind. Indi’s wrapped in a blanket, mum with a comforting arm around her shoulder, and she looks very well for someone who survived a bear attack.

“Dexter, what are you doing?” his dad asks.

Dex feels the cold lapping at his sides, pulls his arms around himself tighter as he begins to shiver, his feet seem to be rooted to the bottom of the lake, unable to move. All the adrenaline from before, the something that made him run like the wind, has petered out, leaving him tired, exhausted, embarrassed.

“Th-there was a --,” he tries to explain, but now that he’s standing waist-deep in water and his dad shining a torch in his eye he can’t bring himself to say it out loud.

“Did you get scared?” his mum ventures and Dex bites his lip, tries to stop himself from shivering as the wind picks up. His dad sighs when Dex doesn’t reply. He’s too busy shooting Indi dirty looks because she’s a traitor for going to their parents, and he doesn’t even feel guilty about forgetting she was supposed to be following him.

“Come out of the water, Dex. You’ll catch a cold.”

Slowly, Dex trudges from the water, his whole body visibly shaking by the time he gets back on dry land and back at the campsite. His dad pulls extra towels and blankets from the car, mum offers him some chocolate, and Indi shuffles back into the tent to try to get a couple more hours sleep before the sun comes up.

On the drive home Indi keeps glaring at him because she’s trying to sleep and Dex keeps waking her with his sneezes, his mum keeps turning around from the front seat to tell him to stop scratching at the rash that’s appeared up and down his arms, and his dad is still declaring the weekend a complete success.


Sasha feels the smile tug at the sides of her mouth, and she bites down on her lip as something strikes her. Dex never told her this story, none of them did, and there are a whole series of family anecdotes from the early years that Sasha doesn’t know about.

Memories like this explain why Dex has such an aversion to running, and swimming, and physical exertion of any description. And Sasha can’t help but feel like she’s missing out. No matter how hard she tries, there is a wealth of Walker history that Sasha will never know, will never catch up on, can’t ever be a part of. Maybe it’s futile to try and be part of a family that is so tightly interwoven.

But all it takes is one loose thread for things to start to unravel.

She’s ready to close the book, stuff it back in the bottom of the box, hide it back in the cupboard so no one will ever know she was snooping, when something catches her eye. Her own name.


Rule #11: The Eating of Tim Tams is Sacred (A Fail-Safe Way to Pick a Walker)

Things are awkward for a while when Sasha moves in.

No one quite knows how to be around her, and while they all know she’s technically family, it doesn’t feel like anything more than some strange long-lost relative staying in their house. Sid in particular, seems to be walking on egg shells around them all – like he’s somehow trying to simultaneously include Sasha in their family, while also ensuring that he reminds Dex and Indi that he still loves them both the same. Dex figures there’s a certain amount of guilt in there too, and he wonders if he’ll be able to capitalise on being the neglected middle child enough so that he can get a new computer out of it. Or a car.

Sasha is sitting on the lounge, Dex hovering nearby unable to strike up any sort of semblance of conversation when April takes charge.

“Do you want a drink?” she asks. “Something to eat?”

“Oh,” Sasha looks a little startled, like she hadn’t expected April to even notice her sitting there. Although, she is a little hard to miss; what with the streak of purple in her hair and clothes spattered with skulls. “No, I don’t - ” Sasha starts to reply, when April holds an open packet of chocolate biscuits under her nose.

She glances between Dex and April before taking one with a small, grateful smile. Dex snaps one up as well before April can take them away and he settles on the arm of the chair, looks down at Sasha.

April is good at small talk. She starts talking aimlessly about the weather in Summer Bay and whether Sasha’s had a chance to see the beach, and maybe they could make time to go for a trip to the headland, while Sasha bites at the corner of her biscuit, and Dex doesn’t even realise he’s staring at Sasha until April is smacking him across the arm.

“Ow!” Dex exclaims, rubbing at his bicep. “What was that for?”

April darts her eyes from Sasha to Dex. “Stop staring,” she hisses and Sasha eyes them strangely – possibly questioning her involvement in their strange family dynamic – and turns her biscuit and bites off the other corner.

“Aha!” Dex exclaims, standing in victory, while April snaps, “Dex!” and Sasha gapes, “What?”

“You’re one of us!” Dex says, pointing at Sasha and beaming.

“Dex, what are you talking about?” April questions, “Of course, Sasha is-“

“Yes, I know genetically she’s a Walker, or at least, half a one,” Dex reasons, “But this proves that you’re actually a Walker.”

“Is he always like this?” Sasha asks, speaking directly at April.

Dex ignores her, like he always does Indi and ploughs on. “You bite the corners off your Tim Tams,’ he says, and Sasha stares down at the half-eaten biscuit in her hand.

“Uh, yeah,” she replies slowly. “It’s the only way to eat them.”

“So do I! So do all Walker’s,” Dex says, happily, coming over to sit beside Sasha on the lounge. “This confirms everything. You’re stuck with us now.”


Sasha hadn’t even thought about that moment in such a long time.

When it happened it was strange, but it was a tipping point. Sasha stopped being someone on the outside looking in, to part of the inside crowd. It’s oddly comforting now, to know that despite it all she is part of this family.

But that’s exactly why it makes all of this so much harder.

“Are you ready?”

Sasha jerks her head up at the sound of the voice. Indi is standing in the doorway, eyes carefully trained on Sasha, and not the room she’s standing in.

“I was just –” Sasha tries to explain, blinks back the start of her tears, but her voice gets caught in her throat. Indi just nods.

“The car just arrived,” Indi says. “Make sure you put everything back. Dad’s not ready for this yet.” She disappears from the doorway.

Sasha glances back down at the book in her hands; the page still fanned open in front of her.

There are no more entries in the The Walker Code, and she wonders whether it’s because Dex didn’t have time to write more, ran out of ideas, or just grew out of this notion of trying to find reasons why their family was something special.

And then it hits her all over again.

She’ll never get the chance to find out.

She doubts Indi knew about this; definitely not their dad. Possibly April, but she wouldn’t know anything beyond what Dex had already written down, probably rolled her eyes at the silliness of keeping a journal of all the things that linked their family as one.

But it’s a story – one that spans almost a decade – but ends much too abruptly.

Much like Dex’s life.

Sasha has thought about all the what if’s of the situation. What if Dex wasn’t driving the car? What if Sasha had been in there with him, like she was supposed to? What if Indi hadn’t fought so hard for Romeo?

Is it all for nothing?

No, she forces herself to think, Not for nothing.

Because although it may be like a knife through their collective heart that they have to go to a funeral for a 19-year-old boy, she knows they are stronger than this, than whatever life throws at them, because they are a family; The Walker’s who don’t let board games or running or biscuits stop them from being a collective unit.

Sasha pushes the box back into the bottom of the cupboard, shuts the doors and begins to walk out of Dex’s room.

The bed is still unmade, text book cracked open on his desk, pen lying in the fold, waiting for him to return and finish whatever he was doing. It feels like a photograph, a still life, and Sasha closes the door on it. It will still be like that when they come back to it.

She knows she’ll cry at the funeral, will let her dad hold her hand and squeeze it tight until it goes numb, but she feels okay, because inside her purse she carries a small book that is The Walker Code, knowing she can make it through this. Maybe enough so that one day she can add to the list of things that bind their family.


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