The episode begins at an intersection. A police car pulls up and Deputy Rick Grimes gets out of the car. He walks around amid overturned vehicles and trash laying everywhere. He holds a small fuel tank in his hand trying to look for some fuel to his police car. He walks past several vehicles where decomposing dead people sit in their cars with flies buzzing around them. He walks towards the gas station and sees that the sign says No Gas. He starts to walk back towards his car, but he hears some footsteps. He kneels down and looks under a car. He sees a small girl walking toward a teddy bear. She is in a night gown and some fuzzy slippers. She picks it up and starts walking away from Rick. Rick calls for the little girl and introduces himself as a police man. The little girl stops and with her back turned, Rick tells the little girl not to be afraid. When she turns around, we see that she is a walker that is missing part of her cheek. She starts to shuffle towards Rick and makes some groaning sounds. Before she can get to him, Rick draws his pistol and fires. The little girl is struck in the head and she falls down dead. Rick stares in shock.
Earlier, Rick and another deputy, Shane Walsh, sit in their police car talking about the difference between men and women. Shane says that he never met a woman that was able to turn the lights off. He complains that he has to walk through the house and turn off every light. He adds that some girls complain about global warming and he says that he just wants to tell his wife that if she would turn off the lights there wouldn't be as much global warming. He says he wants to yell back at her, but Rick says it would be a bad thing and they use the polite version. Shane asks how Lori is. Rick says that she's good at turning off lights while he isn't. Rick says that there just isn't a lot of talking. He is upset that she thinks he doesn't communicate much. Rick says that whenever he tries everything he tells Lori makes her impatient. He thinks that Lori is upset at her all the time and he doesn't know what to do. Shane says that it's just a phase. Rick says that this morning Lori said that sometimes she wonders if he cares about them and she even said that in front of their son, Carl. He says he doesn't know what Carl will think when he goes to school today. Rick states the difference between men and women is that he would never say anything like that to her, especially in front of their child. Before they can elaborate, they get a call about a high speed chase and its back to the job.
Rick and Shane join the other deputies and they set up spike strips to stop the felon when he drives by. They back up to the other deputies and get out of their cars to aim their guns. One of them, Leon Basset, says that he hopes that they get on World's Wildest Chases with this chase. Rick tells him that the one thing that they need to be worried about is making sure that there is a round in the chamber and the safety is off. Leon realizes he didn't do that and corrects his mistake. Shane admits it would be cool to get on the show. Suddenly, the car comes down the road. It hits the spike strips dead on and ends up crashing after flipping multiple times. The deputies aim all of their guns at the men inside the car. The driver's door opens and he comes out with a gun. They order him to put it down, but the man comes out firing. Several shots are exchanged and Rick is hit in the vest. The other deputies take him down. Another man comes out firing and they also take him down. Shane yells for Rick and runs to him. Rick says he's alright and was just hit in the vest. Shane admits he was scared and Rick is surprised that he was shot. Shane asks if he was hit in the vest and Rick says yes. He tells Shane to never tell Lori about this. Suddenly, a third man comes out and hits Rick in the shoulder with a shotgun. This time, Rick is actually hit and lies on the ground gasping for air. Shane yells for the deputies to get an ambulance and stays with Rick to comfort him.
Rick sees Shane in the hospital. Shane talks to Rick and says that he is glad that he is still here. Shane says that the deputies chipped in and got him flowers. He says that he hopes that he comes back soon and he sits them on the drawer next to the bed. When he goes out of sight, we see Rick is hallucinating. Rick says that the vase is special and says that he hopes that Shane left the spoon collection at his grandmother's house. We see that Rick has a beard now and he asks where Shane is. He looks over on the table and sees that the flowers are dead and dried out. He pulls one off and it falls apart in his hands. Over on the wall, the clock has stopped at 2:16. Rick is confused and he decides to get out of the bed. He is very weak from not having any food or water as well as his injury. He falls out of the bed and onto the floor. Rick calls for the nurse, but nobody answers his call for help. Rick gets up on his own and heads into the bathroom. He gets the water running and takes a long drink.
Rick leaves his bedroom to find that the lights are flickering in the hallways and there are several overturned beds and papers laying everyone in the hallway. Rick shuffles down the hallways. He comes to a desk and picks up the phone, but he is unable to get a dial tone. In one of the bins, he finds a pack of matches. He picks it up and lights one to make sure it works. He continues to walk down the dark hallway and looks through a door. On the other side is a deceased woman that is missing her abdomen and her entrails are hanging out of her stomach. Disgusted, Rick continues down the wall. He sees bullet holes and blood stains on different walls and walks toward a door that says, "Don't open, Dead Inside." When he approaches it, the door starts to push open but the lock and board that was placed on it prevents it from opening. Hands that look pale and dirty reach out to try to get at Rick, but Rick runs away from it. He tries to get inside the elevator, but it isn't working. He runs into the stairwell, but it is dark inside. He lights several matches and walks down the stairwell. Rick finally reaches the bottom and goes outside into the light. He walks outside and as he walks down into the back parking lot he sees hundreds of bodies that are all strewn across the parking lot. They have all been wrapped in body bags and Rick is disgusted by the sight of the dead bodies and flies buzzing around them. Rick walks up an embankment where there is a helicopter and several military tents and vehicles set up. The place has been abandoned and destroyed.
Rick walks down a street and comes upon a bicycle. He picks it up and notices a mutilated corpse near it. When he moves the bike, the corpse actually turns on him. It's a dead woman that is missing her legs and has had several bites taken out of her. She crawls towards Rick, but he jumps on the bike and rides away. He rides to his home and runs around the house yelling for Lori and Carl. They are nowhere to be found and Rick falls onto the ground sobbing. He starts to panic and yells at himself to wake up from this horrible nightmare. He wonders if he's here and starts to smack himself. He wants to wake up, but this world is real. He walks out onto the steps of his house and sits down in frustration. He has no idea how to take all of this in. He looks over and sees a man walking down the street. Rick stares at him in confusion and starts to motion for him to come over. We also see someone coming up behind Rick. He turns around to take a shovel to the face. A boy, Duane, has hit Rick and yells for his father that he got one. Rick calls Duane by the name of Carl thinking that it's his son. Duane's father, Morgan, runs over and shoots the other man in the head. Duane says he got him, but Morgan says that he heard him talking. Duane says the man called him Carl. Morgan says that they don't talk, but then notices the bandage. He asks Rick why he's wearing it. Rick doesn't respond, and Morgan threatens to kill him if he doesn't tell him. Rick passes out.
Rick wakes up in a house and Morgan says he changed the bandage because it had been on for awhile. He asks how he got it. Rick says a gunshot. Morgan asks if that's it, and Rick asks why a gunshot isn't enough. Morgan yells for Rick to answer the question honestly like common courtesy. Morgan asks Rick if he got bit or scratched. Rick says he only got shot. Morgan feels his forehead and says that he doesn't have a fever. Rick says that it'd be hard to miss having one, and Morgan agrees. He says that he probably would have been dead by now. He pulls out a knife and says he's going to cut Rick free. He threatens to kill him if he tries anything. Rick stays still and Morgan cuts him free. He tells Rick to come out and join them when he's able to.
Rick walks down the stairs to find Morgan and Duane getting their supper ready. Rick says that he knew the Drakes, the family that lived here. Morgan says it was empty when they arrived. Rick goes to peel the blankets on the windows back, but Morgan tells him not to. He says that they will see the light and then they will come to them. He says that he shouldn't have fired the gun today because sound attracts them. Rick thinks that Morgan shot a man today and asks why. Morgan says that it wasn't a man and says that it was a Walker. Rick is confused and Morgan tells him to sit down at the table. Duane says they have to say the blessing. Morgan agrees and all three hold hands. After the blessing, Morgan asks Rick if he knows what's going on. Rick says that he woke up today in the hospital. Morgan asks if he knows about the dead people. Rick says he saw a bunch at the hospital that were wrapped in body bags. Morgan says that he is talking about the Walkers. He says that some of them weren't put down and that the man that he shot today was one of them. Morgan says that there are a lot of them outside tonight probably because he fired the gun. He tells Rick that they are more active during the night. He warns Rick not to get bit and that's why they were worried about the bandage. He says that if a person is bit, they develop a fever and then they die. He says that they come back then. Duane says that they've seen it happened.
After supper, Morgan asks if Carl is his son. Rick says that he was. Duane asks Morgan to ask Rick the question. Morgan asks Rick how he got the gunshot. He notes Duane thinks that he's a bank robber. Rick says that he's a sheriff's deputy. Before anymore small talk can be made, a car alarm outside starts going off. Morgan calms Duane down and says that one of them just set it off. They dim the lights and look outside. There are several of them walking around outside. Rick asks if that will bring more of them. Morgan says that there is nothing that they can do about it. Duane looks outside and says that he sees her outside. Morgan orders him away from the window and we see a female walking close to the house. Duane starts to cry and Morgan comforts him. We realize this is Duane's mother and Morgan's wife. Rick walks towards the door and looks out the peephole. The woman looks at the door in confusion and looks like she's staring at Rick. She then starts to turn the doorknob left and right, but it won't open since it's nailed shut and boarded. Morgan tells Rick that she died in the other room after she was bit and she had a very hot fever. Morgan wishes he would have shot her, but admits he didn't have it in him to do it because she was his wife and the mother of Duane. They look at the doorknob and it continues to turn left and right.
The next morning, Rick, Morgan, and Duane go outside. Rick asks if he's sure they're dead. Morgan says that they are dead and they walk out. One of them is lying up against the fence post but gets up and starts walking towards Rick. Rick smashes it in the head several times with a baseball bat. He falls to the ground and Morgan asks if he's alright. Rick says he needs a minute. They go back to the Grimes' house. Rick is convinced that they are still alive, but Morgan asks how he can be so sure. Rick says that there were drawers open and clothes missing. Morgan says that people have been looting houses. Rick notes that the photos and his albums are gone and says a thief wouldn't take those. Morgan starts to sob saying that his wife did the same thing when they were packing survival gear. Duane says that they are probably in Atlanta. Morgan adds that people on the radio told people to go to Atlanta. Duane says they have the Center for Disease Control there and Morgan adds they were trying to figure out how to deal with the dead problem.
Rick grabs a set of keys and they all enter the sheriff's office. They walk into the locker room and Rick turns on the shower. Rick says that the station has its own power system so the shower still works. Morgan says the power went off over a month ago. The three men decide to enjoy a nice, hot shower. Rick shaves his beard off and they all get clean.
Rick hands Duane some clothes so he can change. Rick admits that Atlanta might be safe place to go. Morgan says that he wanted to go, but the streets were chaotic. He says his wife was also hurting so he couldn't go. They decided to bunker down and then they just stayed put. Rick takes Morgan and Duane into the gun room to get some guns. Duane asks if he can learn how to shoot. Morgan says that he has to learn how to respect a weapon. Rick warns Duane to never pull the trigger unless he means it. Rick hands Morgan a Remington 700 with a scope on the end and says that he can use this to try and shoot. He warns Morgan to conserve his ammunition as much as he can because it goes faster than he might think. Morgan agrees with him. Outside, Rick gives Morgan a walkie-talkie and tells him that he will turn it on for a few minutes at dawn. When he's ready to leave and join him this is how he can get a hold of him. Morgan warns Rick that the walkers may not seem like much one at a time, but when they are in a group he needs to watch himself. Rick says goodbye to Morgan and Duane but before he can leave he looks over and sees Leon Basset. Basset has been turned into a walker. Rick admits that he didn't think much of Basset, but that he can't leave him like this. Morgan says that they will hear the gunshot, and Rick says that they'd better get out fast. He pulls out his Colt Python and shoots Leon Basset through the head killing him. Morgan and Duane separate and head back to their house. Rick heads off in his sheriff's car.
Back home, Morgan and Duane work. Morgan nails the door shut and Duane reads his comic book. Morgan tells Duane to stay downstairs and he walks upstairs. Morgan pulls out his photo albums and looks at several pictures of his wife before this disaster happened. He hangs one of them on the wall and he takes the Remington 700 that Rick handed him. Morgan whistles to one of the walkers and he fires at him. The sight is accurate and he nails it right in the head. Duane gets scared, but Morgan tells him that everything will be fine and tells him to stay downstairs. Morgan shoots another one through the head and tries to look for his wife. Several of the walkers start to walk towards the house. Morgan finally spots his wife out in the crowd. He takes aim, but his wife looks right at the scope. Morgan breaks down and can't bring himself to shoot his wife. He brings the rifle up again and stares at his wife. She turns around and starts to walk away from the house, but even with her back turned Morgan still can't shoot her. He breaks down over her being dead.
Meanwhile, Rick walks around the location where he saw the legless walker. He starts to look for her, but is unable to find her art the original spot. Rick walks and starts to follow a trail. He finds the woman still trying to crawl. She spots Rick and he kneels next to her. The woman tries to claw at Rick and wants to eat him. Rick tells the woman that he is sorry that this happened to her. He pulls out his Python and puts the legless woman out of her misery.
Later, Rick rides down the road and broadcasts on the radio over an emergency channel. He says that he's heading towards Atlanta and asks if there are any survivors out there. At a survival camp, the group does hear Rick's message. A woman, Amy, answers Rick and says that he can hear him. She tries to communicate, but she is unable to. Another man, Dale, tells her to try and reach him. Dale calls over to another man to come try and says that he knows how to work it better than anyone else. We see that the man is Shane Walsh; Rick's partner. Shane comes over and tries to work the radio, but he is also unable to get back to the messenger. They don't know it's Rick. Lori and Carl Grimes are revealed to be alive and they also join the group. Lori says that at least someone is alive. Lori says that they need to go post signs on the interstate warning people away from the city. Shane says they don't have time. Lori says they need to make it, but Shane says that they don't have any time. Dale asks who they would send and Lori offers to go. Shane says that nobody goes alone and tells her not to go. Lori gives in and says she won't. Shane follows her and tells her that she can't be acting this way. He says that Carl has been through too much and he doesn't want Carl to lose her like he lost Rick. Shane asks that she tell him that it'll be okay and says it isn't that hard. Shane walks up to Lori and kisses her. Carl calls for Lori and Shane exits before he can see them kissing. Lori tells Carl not to worry and says that they will be fine.
Back in the car, Rick pulls the photograph that he has of his family off of the window. He starts to walk down the road to find some gasoline that he can use to continue his ride to Atlanta. He comes upon a house and asks if anyone is inside. Rick looks inside and says he just wants some gasoline. He looks inside the window and sees two dead bodies inside with flies buzzing around them. There is a message on the wall written in blood that says, "God Forgive Us". Rick walks over to the truck that is sitting in the driveway, but there aren't any keys that he can use. Frustrated, he starts to walk back, but notices that there is a horse. Rick walks toward it and coaxes it saying that he isn't going to hurt him. He says that he wants to propose that he takes the horse to Atlanta to be with other people. Rick wraps the harness around the horse and he is able to lead it out of the stable. Rick rides the horse down the road. He eventually gets to the outskirts of Atlanta. We see that one side of the highway is empty while the other side of the highway is packed with several cars that have been wrecked or abandoned. Rick continues to ride down the road to enter Atlanta.
Rick rides into the city and rides along the streets. He sees that the streets are abandoned and there is trash everywhere. Rick leads the horse down the street where there are helicopters, cars, and even a tank wrecked along the road. Rick rides past a bus and several walkers see him. They get up and they start to walk toward him. Rick doesn't panic because he says there are only a few of them and they can handle them. Rick rides past them and goes to ride down the street. He looks up on the tank and sees a dead body that is being pecked at by crows. He rides past the tank and then looks up in the air. He sees a helicopter fly past him. Rick starts to ride in the direction of the helicopter, but when he rounds the corner there is a huge group of walkers.
All of them shuffle after Rick and he rides back down the street he came from. He then comes across another huge group of walkers. Rick struggles to get away but he's trapped. Rick falls off the horse and starts to crawl away from it. Some of the walkers eat the horse and Rick realizes that he's dropped his gun bag. He crawls underneath the tank while walkers still try to get at him. They crawl under the tank and Rick shoots five of them with his Colt Python. It doesn't do much against the hundreds that are out there. Rick prepares to use the last bullet on himself, but he then sees the hatch above him. He crawls up and shuts it. He sits down and starts to breathe heavily. He then sees a dead soldier in the tank. He crawls over to it and the soldier does have a gun. Rick grabs it, but the second he does, it turns out to be a walker. Rick uses the last bullet in his Python to shoot it through the head. The sound of the bullet in the enclosed space hurts Rick's ears and it takes him a minute to get his hearing back. He starts to crawl up to the top hatch and looks outside. He sees that the bag of guns is lying in the street way out of his reach. The rest of the walkers start to converge on the tank to get at him. Rick is able to shut the hatch before they can get him. Rick sits in the tank and is very disheartened by what has happened. He notices that the gun that he pulled off the soldier is loaded. He contemplates on taking his own life. Just then, the radio in the tank starts to make static sounds. A voice on the other end asks Rick if he's cozy inside the tank. Rick realizes that he isn't alone.
Outside of the tank, some of the walkers continue to eat the horse that Rick was riding on. Others are converging on the tank trying to get at Rick inside the tank. The episode ends with a huge image of all of the walkers in the city of Atlanta walking around the city, eating the horse, or crawling on the tank.