This article, This Cruel Reality, is an article only to be used by BeneathThisMask.

This Cruel Reality
Author(s) BeneathThisMask
Distributor FanFiction.Net[1]
Archive Your Own[2]
Based on The Walking Dead television series
Chapters 40

"The night is darkest just before the dawn."
— Series tagline[4]

This Cruel Reality (also known as The Walking Dead: This Cruel Reality) is a fan fiction, based on The Walking Dead television series—with slight influence from the comic book series—authored by BeneathThisMask. A complete story, it ran from February 16, 2014 until May 13, 2014 and consists of forty chapters total. The story is a slight alternate universe, beginning after the mid-season finale of Season 4, spanning past its season finale before coming to its own, alternative, conclusion.

The story stars Tanner Bradly, a 17 year-old boy surviving on his own nearly two years after a zombie apocalypse reduces society to nothing. Stumbling upon Carl Grimes in a neighborhood, the two boys, along with Carl's father Rick, and their companion Michonne, set out to find a safe place to make a life for one another some place safe.

Though filed as Romance/Hurt/Comfort genre story on FanFiction.Net, the author has stressed that the story encompasses many genre, including, but not limited to, action, suspense, horror, adventure, and even comedy at times. It is written in first person (save the first section of the first chapter, which is written in third person) present tense and occasionally shifts between certain character's points of view, though Carl and Tanner's are the most prominent.

Summary Edit

Tanner Bradly is, in every way shape and form, a loner. That all changes one fateful Georgian afternoon thanks to one person: Carl Grimes. Confronted by the sudden new sensation of companionship, Tanner must face his demons for the sake of his new group, and ends up developing an important bond along the way.[1]

Cast Edit

Chapters Edit

Chapter # Chapter Name Chapter Summary
1. The New World Tanner Bradly is, in every way shape and form, a loner. That all changes one fateful Georgian afternoon thanks to one person: Carl Grimes. Confronted by the sudden new sensation of companionship, Tanner must face his demons for the sake of his new group, and ends up developing an important bond along the way.[2]
2. My Name Tanner officially meets Carl and the wheel starts moving.[2]
3. The Things I Wish To Protect Carl's curiosity leads him to question Tanner about the secret behind his trademark weapons... and he gets an answer he doesn't expect.[2]
4. Reunion A familiar face finds their way back to Rick and Carl.[2]
5. Tears in the Rain Tension mounts as the trio of Carl, Tanner, and Michonne get separated in a herd. When things come to a head, Tanner makes a startling revelation to Carl; leading to a shift in their relationship.[2]
6. To Earn One's Place Tanner's actions finally gain the attention of Rick. What will the elder Grimes' decision yield?[2]
7. On the Move Tanner's group returns to Hershel's Farm, where the sorrowful memories of what had once transpired here threaten to swallow Carl up...[2]
8. The Unleashing The group is in danger. When Carl's life and innocence are threatened, Tanner is pushed to the brink...[2]
9. A Talk with Michonne Conflicted by his feelings for Carl, Tanner turns to the one person (other than Carl) that he has come to trust most: Michonne.[2]
10. We're Even Tanner becomes lost in the woods and Carl rushes to his rescue.[2]
11. Coming of Age Carl desires to prove himself to Rick and enlists Tanner to help him.[2]
12. Telling Rick Tanner and Carl's relationship finally reaches Rick's attention.[2]
13. Reunion: Part 2 Stumbling upon an old church, Tanner reunites with a ghost from his past.[2]
14. What We Become Tanner is forced to face his past. Just who is this newcomer named Natalie?[2]
15. Who I Am Now Carl goes missing and its up to Tanner to bring him back before its too late.[2]
16. Here and From Now On The conflict with Natalie comes to a head, only to be interrupted in the worst way imaginable...[2]
17. The Herd The herd attacks and the confrontation with Natalie comes to its final conclusion.[2]
18. Intermission Clues surface to the survival of a long-lost friend. Now Rick must decide whether pursuing a ghost is worth risking the lives of his friends; more importantly, his son.[2]
19. Separated Our heroes get separated from Rick and Michonne and are forced to fend for themselves.[2]
20. Promise Me Carl is stricken with illness, forcing Tanner to make his most difficult decision yet...[2]
21. The Hidden Heart Tanner turns his attention to seeking the restoration of Carl's health, but the arrival of an unknown group threatens to compromise everything he's worked for.[2]
22. Breach Tanner and Carl fight for their lives without the assistance of Rick or Michonne.[2]
23. The Cabin Reunited with their friends, and safe from harm for the moment, Tanner and Carl resolve to consolidate their bond.[2]
24. The Bet Carl and Michonne make a childish bet with one another, leaving Tanner an amused spectator in their games.[2]
25. Calm Before the Storm Terminus is within reach, but will it be everything our heroes have hoped for?[2]
26. Terminus The group reaches Terminus with a new member in tow, but what awaits them at the sanctuary, no one is prepared for.[2]
27. Fear: Terminus The prison group reunites at long last, but the sudden seizure of one of their own forces the group to hasten their escape from the horror that is Terminus.[2]
28. Falling Stars Tragedy befalls the group after mounting a rescue to save Tanner's life.[2]
29. You're Good! Carl faces his inner demons and must come to terms with the cruel reality around him.[2]
30. Reunion: Part 3 Another reunion drastically changes the fading morale of the group; particularly that of Carl Grimes.[2]
31. Two Rings A month has passed and Tanner has finally come to a decision regarding the future of his and Carl's relationship.[2]
32. The Tearing A devastating deception deals a crushing blow to the group's morale and threatens to send Carl over the edge, leaving Tanner with no other option but to run blindly into a death trap to save him.[2]
33. Savior in the Dark Tanner's resolve is put the ultimate test.[2]
34. Across the Border Another group has appeared to offer sanctuary, but is this new change genuine, or just another trap?[2]
35. Sanctuary A new ray of hope shines into the lives of our heroes.[2]
36. Date Carl and Tanner finally get a break and decide to make the most of it.[2]
37. Somethings Never Change A horrifying act of violence throws Tanner into a murderous frenzy.[2]
38. "Us" Tanner and Carl seek comfort in each other.[2]
39. The Bond Tanner must find a way to reveal he and Carl's future plans to the boy's father.[2]
40. Epilogue: Finale Carl and Tanner are finally bonded forever together and our story comes to a conclusion.[2]

Story Arcs Edit

  • Tanner & Carl Arc
    • Chapter 1-12
  • Nat Arc
    • Chapter 13-18
  • Journey to Terminus arc
    • Chapter 19-25
  • Terminus arc
    • Chapter 26-30
  • Alexandria arc
    • Chapter 31-40

Plot Themes Edit

The overlying theme of This Cruel Reality, as expressed in its final chapter and seen throughout is thirty-nine other chapters, is love triumphing over the new "reality" created by the ongoing zombie apocalypse. This theme is expressed through the romantic relationship of Tanner and Carl, which not only affects the way they react to the ever-changing world around them, but also the members of their group, which gets larger as the story progresses. In addition to this main theme, several other themes are expressed in the various story arcs of the fan fiction.

The first twelve chapters deal solely with the budding relationship between the two teenagers, as well as Tanner's initial adaptation to being in a group again, and repeatedly stresses the differences, as far as societal norms go, between the pre and post-apocalyptic worlds. A good majority of the chapters thereafter deal with human nature once pushed to the brink. During the Terminus story arc (spanning chapters 26-30) Carl calls himself a "monster" for all the atrocities he has committed during the apocalypse, setting the undertone for the entire four chapter arc, and forcing both himself and Tanner to contemplate what is morally correct in this new world, as well as what makes one a "monster" and what makes one "good". Finally, during the Alexandria arc (spanning chapters 35-40) the subjects of bullying and discrimination are put front and center.

Sequels Edit

In an author's note, posted on the thirtieth chapter of This Cruel Reality on FanFiction.Net, the author expressed the desire to write a direct sequel for This Cruel Reality.[5] Three chapters later, another story, "The Walking Dead: Deliverance", was announced, in addition to the already promised sequel.[6] This story, while not a direct sequel, is apart of the same fan fiction universe as This Cruel Reality. Any other connections between the two, as of now, are unknown.

Critical Reception Edit

During its nearly four month run on FanFiction.Net, This Cruel Reality spawned 109 reviews—all of which were overwhelmingly positive—in addition to 59 favorites, 55 follows, and nearly 20,000 views worldwide.[7] Several reviewers praised the story for its originality, pacing, romantic content, and the considerable performance of Tanner, an original character as well as the main character. Other reviews praised the story for the fact that the canon characters involved were portrayed nearly exactly as they would've behaved in the canon storyline.

Legacy Edit

In addition to its largely positive reception, This Cruel Reality inspired two additional fan fiction based on its premise: "Tha Gaol Agam Ort"[8] by Hunter Ark and "Nothing but Memories"[9] by Kaden Pause.

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 This Cruel Reality on Fanfiction.Net
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 This Cruel Reality on ArchiveYourOwn
  3. This Cruel Reality on Quotev
  4. Series tagline
  5. Sequel Announced on FanFiction.Net
  6. The Walking Dead: Deliverance announced on FanFiction.Net
  7. Reviews of This Cruel Reality on FanFiction.Net
  8. Tha Gaol Agam Ort on FanFiction.Net
  9. Nothing but Memories on FanFiction.Net
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.