Officer Rick Grimes is wounded in a shoot-out and ends up in a month-long coma. He wakes up in an empty hospital (what is this, a VA clinic?) and wanders the halls looking for a nurse, a doctor, anyone. Instead, he finds zombie hordes—rotting corpses staggering around desperately seeking living humans to munch on.
Rick has to run away from the walking dead (get it?) and finds his way back home, but his wife and son aren't there.
Wandering the neighborhood, Rick gets whacked in the head with a shovel wielded by Little Duane, the son of a man named Morgan Jones. Little Duane thought Rick was a zombie. Better safe than sorry.
Morgan feeds Rick dinner and explains the situation: zombies, panic, death. Just your typical zombie apocalypse. Morgan says many survivors fled to Atlanta, and Rick decides to see if Lori and Carl, his wife and son, are there. They head to the police station, where Rick gathers guns and a car, and Rick heads for Atlanta. His car runs out of gas, so he finds a horse and a barn and gallops into Hotlanta like the Lone Ranger.
Everyone, even the Real Housewives of Atlanta, are zombies are now. Rick's horse is devoured by zombies. (Zombies eat horses—who knew?) Rick almost gets chomped too, but a baseball cap-wearing guy named Glenn finds Rick and leads him out of the city.
Glenn takes Rick to a camp, and lo and behold, Lori and Carl are there, along with Rick's partner Shane. Rick and Shane go hunting, the women do laundry, and people generally live a leisurely existence waiting for this whole zombie apocalypse to blow over. Rick suggests moving camp, but Shane refuses, so Rick heads back into Atlanta to get guns and ammo for everyone. Rick and Glenn rub themselves down with zombie blood and gore to mask their own scent, and that shamble right into the gun shop in Atlanta without hassle. Unfortunately, it starts raining when they leave, washing their scent camo off, and they have to run for their lives.
Meanwhile, back at camp, we learn that Lori slept with Shane when she thought Rick was dead. But she tells Shane that now Rick is back, their affair is over. Glenn and Rick return safely, and Rick teaches everyone, including his seven-year-old, to fire a gun. Lori objects, but Rick thinks it's important for Carl to carry a gun. This is the zombie apocalypse, for Pete's sake. When zombies attack the camp and eat Amy, one of the campers, it's a good thing Carl is packing heat.
Lori drops her gun without squeezing off a single shot, and Carl saves her. A man named Jim is also bitten, but he wants to be a zombie to be reunited with his zombie family, so they leave him near Atlanta to "change."
The attack reignites Rick's concern to move the camp. Shane's furious at Rick for basically being alive, and they have a huge argument in the woods. Shane pulls his gun on Rick, saying he doesn't deserve to live. Carl follows them and shoots Shane before we find out if we would have pulled the trigger or not. The boy's upset because killing a real person is a lot different than killing a zombie. Really? Rick tries to comfort his son as the chapter draws to a close.