“I’m Tori” a woman’s soft voice says, both hands held in the air one day into the events of the outbreak, dropping the knife in her clutches. “I’m Kelsey” the woman across from her, aiming a handgun at the opposite woman’s chest. “Are you going to shoot me?” Tori asks, the changed expression on the other woman’s face speaking to uncertainty. “I’m not sure yet” Kelsey replies, easing her touch on the trigger, “are you going to give me a reason to shoot you?”
Slowly stepping up, Tori drapes the head of her shoes over the blade she’d allowed to slip from her grasp. With a push, Tori allows the knife to slide across the pavement, skidding along the ground loudly before resting at Kelsey’s boot. “I hope not to have to” Tori replies, her gesture being digested by Kelsey, who remains hesitant.
Stepping over the knife, Kelsey approaches Tori, telling her to turn around and lean over the hood of a nearby vehicle. Doing as instructed, Tori allows Kelsey to pat her down, the firearm-wielding survivor pleased with her findings until stumbling upon the crest of a second blade. Throwing Tori’s shirt up, Kelsey removes a knife tucked behind the woman’s belt loop, immediately thinking the worst.
“Were you planning on keeping this quiet until you got close?” Kelsey asks, holding the knife to Tori’s throat, her other hand continuing to aim the gun. “If I was, I wouldn’t have let you check me” Tori replies calmly, Kelsey’s hesitance only building. “Why didn’t you drop this one too?” Kelsey asks, unsure what answer she’s looking for.
“In order to drop this one, it’d require me reaching behind my back” Tori replies, staring Kelsey in the eyes with a smirk, “that didn’t seem like a good decision.” Snickering at Tori, Kelsey tosses the second blade near the first, backing away from her fellow survivor, gun still pointed. “I’ve given you no reason to fear for your own safety” Tori explains, both hands held in the air, “there aren’t many friendlies out here, have I proven to be one yet?”
Biting the fleshy bit of her lip, Kelsey considers her choices for a brief few seconds, leaving Tori in limbo before lowering her weapon. Noticing this sign, Tori slowly walks up to Kelsey and lowers her hand, introducing herself again, “I’m Tori.” Removing one hand from her weapon, Kelsey extends her non-dominant hand, returning Tori’s gesture. “I’m Kelsey” the second woman replies, no additional words to be had.
As a week and six days pass, Tori and Kelsey maintain cover behind a litany of abandoned cars on the freeway, their focus placed on a conversation shared amongst two men a distance ahead. Splitting apart, the girls cover each side of the road, their footsteps drowned by the sound of undead corpses hitting the ground ahead. “I’m telling you, the place sounds legit” one of the men explain, the girl beginning to overhear the discussion the closer they get.
“If it was built in preparation for all of this, I don’t trust whoever’s in charge” the other man explains, much to the first’s displeasure, “besides, New Jersey’s just too far away.” An eye on Kelsey, Tori gives the nod for their plan to be put into effect, both women emerging from behind cover with guns aimed. “Both of you, on the ground!” Tori calls out, both men startled by this sudden interruption, neither with the firepower to fight off such declarations.
“Okay, okay!” the first man responds, putting both hands in the air and lowering himself to his knees. “You too, big guy!” Kelsey shouts, the second man less agreeable than the first, his eyes darting from one woman to the other, movements appearing more frantic with each second. “Big guy, I said-” Kelsey begins, stopping herself when the man reaches back, the grip of a holstered firearm taken into his palm before a gunshot rings out.
Hitting the man in the back of the shoulder, Tori watches the supposed gunman fall to the side in pain, his friend still knelt on the ground, pleading for the gunfire to cease. “Don’t fire! Jet, get down!” the first man exclaims, the pleas falling on deaf ears, Jet continuing to reach for his gun. Trying to take aim at Kelsey, Jet takes a second slug to the chest, the woman he attempts to aim at beating him to the trigger.
This shot more effective, Kelsey watches the gun fall from Jet’s hands as the bigger man topples back, his elbow shattering through the window of a nearby truck. Once the shattering glass ceases, a distinctive growling sound emerges, the side of the car Jet has fallen into housing a member of the dead. Still tending to his wounds, Jet fails to notice the touch of the corpse on his arm, slinking to the ground slightly before finally spotting the dead.
“Jet, get away!” the second man exclaims, watching the blood pool from his friend’s wounds as he comes to eye-level with the undead. Pushing past her seatbelt, the dead lunges forward, her teeth pressing against the small of Jet’s throat before sinking in, a gnarly bite taken from the man’s flesh, his open wound allowing blood to gush. Putting a bullet in both the undead’s skull and Jet’s own, Kelsey and Tori change course, guiding the second survivor to his feet.
“Grab the pack!” Tori exclaims, running off with the second survivor as Kelsey removes Jet’s bag, following after the duo. Once night falls, Kelsey and Tori stock the chimney of an abandoned home with firewood, the second man’s arms restrained with tape in his lap. “You haven’t spoken much” Tori calls out, her words intended for the other man’s ears, “you have a name?”
His head directed towards the ground, the second man peers at the woman through the corner of his eye. “Mark” the man replies, watching the women continue to load the bricked-off opening. “We heard you and your buddy talking about a camp earlier” Tori explains, taking a seat in an old chair with a box of matches in her hand, “something about a place in New Jersey?”
Scoffing at the women as he shakes his head, Mark keeps himself quiet, this reaction questioned by the women around him. “What’s that reaction for?” Tori asks, upholding the conversation as Kelsey continues to load the pit, remaining quiet on the matter, “we saved your life.”
“You killed my friend!” Mark shouts back, the woman he screams at lifting her hand towards him, a visual reminder for Mark to keep his voice to a minimum. “We gave your friend a chance to put his hands up and leave alive, we only wanted your shit” Tori responds, Mark’s head shaking in disgust. “He made-” Tori begins, her explanation cut off by Mark, who cuts back at the woman with a stern, yet quiet reminder.
“Jet. His name was Jet” Mark replies, the woman obliging. “Okay, fine. Jet made the decision to be stupid” Tori replies, the man shaking his head at the notion, not buying into the story Tori is selling, “Jet made the decision that got Jet killed.” Climbing from her knees, Kelsey backs away from the firepit, exclaiming ‘done’ when finished.
“In due time, you’ll see that” Tori concludes, striking her match and tossing it into the pit whilst maintaining eye contact with Mark, “and you’ll understand my point of view.”
Four weeks and five days into the outbreak, Tori, Kelsey, and Mark emerge from the cover of fauna, three guns aimed at a single man in the forest. “Get down, don’t fight” Tori exclaims, the man rolling his eyes once realizing that he’s become surrounded. “Fuck” the man mutters to himself, throwing his bag to the side whilst placing his hands in the air.
Keeping their weapons placed upon the man, Tori and Mark maintain control whilst Kelsey takes ownership of the discarded bag, ruffling through what’s stored inside. “I’ve been on my own for three weeks” the man explains, disregarding the weapon-bearing survivors as he glances to Kelsey, “running on empty has sorta become a habit at this point.”
With a smile, the man watches Kelsey lower the junk-filled bag to the ground, assuring her fellow survivors that the man has little of use. Thinking amongst themselves for a second, Kelsey proves to be the first to make a move, reaching into her own bag and removing a bottle of water. “What’s your name?” Kelsey asks, the strong-looking man curious to her motives, cooperating with all he’s asked of.
“Br- Brent” the man replies, watching the woman extend her cautious hand towards him, the water within her palm. “Your lips are chapped, Brent” Kelsey replies, her arm mid-stretch, offering a peaceful gesture she expects to be taken, “it sounds like you’re tired of running on empty.”
Six weeks and two days into the outbreak, Tori, Kelsey, Mark and Brent walk the length of the abandoned freeway, a number of days having passed since they’d last heard a noise, a number of weeks having passed since they’d last encountered people. “If more come, keep two paces ahead” Tori exclaims, firing her gun off at stragglers ahead, a few wandering corpses having been separated from a greater group, their attention now falling upon these survivors.
One shot after another putting down corpse after corpse, Tori takes aim at another roamer, steadying her aim as it approaches before freezing. Her finger gently resting upon the trigger, Tori watches this particular corpse stop, looking at the group without a word. Without a word, the entire group looks on at this straggler, confused by her mannerisms, such a display not found amongst the dead.
Lowering her aim slightly, Tori calls out to the woman, a few additional corpses marching a few yards behind her. “Are you alive?” Tori calls out, watching intently with the rest of her group, awaiting an answer. For a reason unbeknownst to the rest of the group, the figure ahead does not respond with words, instead choosing to nod. Looking at Tori, Kelsey considers another question before settling on the obvious, “what’s your name?”
Covered in dirt, the person ahead remains steady, clearly trying to speak without the physical ability to do so. Knowing the effort being put in, Tori approaches, keeping the woman at gunpoint before firing at the corpses behind her. “What’s your name, girl?” Tori asks, the rest of her group quickly catching up, the quivering lip of the poorly-dressed woman meeting her.
Speaking through a scratchy throat, the woman attempts to respond, her words coming out through desperate hushes. “What was it?” Tori asks, the sleeveless shirt and jean shorts the girl wears only made more confusing by the lack of supplies with her, the sight difficult to describe. “Lauren” the woman whispers in a hush just as her legs give out, leaving the woman to fall to the cold asphalt, dependent on the assistance of those around her to save her from the elements.
= Rise: Remastered is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
Stood atop the border wall, John looks out at the growing number of survivors pleading for entry into his community, unable to enjoy the protection of what rests inside whilst the people outside live without it. “I know what that look is for” Jessica mutters, walking through the catwalk-like path towards her husband. “What look?” the man asks, curious as to how the woman had caught up to him, but hesitant to inquire over any such matter.
“The look you gave the kids in Amy’s class that didn’t have money on them for the ice cream truck when it stopped by the playground” Jessica replies, “it’s the same one you’re giving the people outside.” Shrugging off the look as a coincidence, John gives into the honest truth, which Jessica is too chipper to supply. “You can’t just give all these people three bucks like you did all the kids back then” Jessica explains, her husband looking at her with an eyebrow raised.
“You’re guilty about leaving these people out in the cold” Jessica explains, the eyebrow lowering amidst her findings, the truth lying in her words, “I’m worried about what that’s gonna do to you.” Shaking his head, John tries to put his wife’s concerns to bed, Jessica not buying what he says for a moment. “It’s not going to do anything to me” John replies, the hand he stuffs into his pocket beginning to shake behind the denim-compartment, “they’ll get in when Charlotte gives the nod.”
Looking at her husband with a frown, Jessica shakes her head, not saying a word until asked to. “We both know letting people in means less rations overall, and Charlotte isn’t interested in starting war” Jessica replies, her hand running down the small of John’s back, “and as long as she isn’t, your going to spend every day up here, looking at the same people you can’t help.”
Letting out a sigh, John turns to his wife and pulls up a half-hearted smile, appreciating the woman’s words with a nod. “I’ll try not to let it get to me” John responds, unable to bring himself to let the sight of those beyond the walls slip from his mind, each life lost outside carving another talley mark into John’s conscience.
Disappointed, Jessica gently pats her husband on the back and turns away, walking the way she came. Instinctively peering out at the crowd, Jessica catches a glimpse of something familiar, faces she has recognized before jogging their way back into her memory. “John!?” Jess calls out, her husband looking towards her for a moment, hurrying up to her side at the look on her face.
“What’s up?” her husband replies, following the woman’s finger as it points out at the midst of the crowd, “I know them.”
“Everyone move!” a flurry of guards exclaim, aiming at the retreating crowd as Jessica emerges from within, her eyes peering to one particular side. At the front of the row, Troy and Katie’s familiar faces stand out from the rest, the curl of Jessica’s finger guiding them within the walls of the New World Order, much to the dismay of those stranded outside.
“How the hell did you get here!?” Troy calls out, the man having assumed Jess had perished long ago. “I went north, that’s how” Jess replies, both civilians looking towards the woman’s husband, Katie’s eyes glancing down at their matching rings. “The patroller dude is your husband?” Katie wonders aloud, both husband and wife confused by her question.
“The patroller dude?” John replies, eyes squinted and head pulled back as Charlotte approaches. “When did I give clearance to let people in!?” Charlotte exclaims, her question more intended to be answered with an explanation rather than a response. “The wife said she recognized someone, and I do as the wife says” John replies, Charlotte’s eyebrows raising towards him instantly.
“No, you do as I say” Charlotte replies, looking towards Jessica with her arms thrown out, “I don’t remember hiring her to lead my compound.” With a shrug, John ends the discussion there whilst Jess disregards it all together, her attention focused on the pair. “Tell us what you know about the people outside” Jessica asks, peering at Charlotte with a lifted eyebrow, the authoritarian woman crossing her arms with a shrug, giving credit to the woman’s idea.
“They’re hungry, obviously. They know she’s in here, and they’re getting desperate” Troy replies, his eyes peering towards Charlotte when she’s hinted at, “it seems like it’s going to get nasty out there.” Thinking to himself for a moment, John’s attention turns with the rest of the group’s own, eyes falling upon Emilio as he speaks. “Have any of you ever seen the movie ‘Snowpiercer’?” the man asks, not a soul before him speaking up.
“To say a lot with very little, the undesirables fight their way inside a train during the start of another ice age” Emilio explains, his arms folded. “The train is the only lifeline to humanity, and it never stops running. The undesirables are stowed in the back of the train and fed scraps” Emilio continues, the situation eerily similar to their own, “the wealthy and otherwise privileged occupy the rest of the rain. The undesirables attempt to infiltrate the train, and eventually take it over.”
Not fond of what she’s hearing, Charlotte thinks amongst herself as John and Jessica glance in her direction, the metaphorical loaded gun silently aimed at her. With a nod, Charlotte turns back, returning to her warm cabin with her arms still crossed. “Let’s get you some tags” John says, disarming Troy and Katie of their weapons and leading them through the grounds of their new home, a passing glance taken at Jessica as he pushes on.
Unarmed and alone, Jack rests his back against a brick wall, momentarily peering out onto a bigger road before ducking back with each distant gunshot. “Stay back, you fucks!” a man shouts, firing off an additional two rounds, unaware of Jack’s presence as the factory worker sneaks closer to the sounds of his voice. Growling surrounding his every direction, Jack maintains a low profile, the far-off shooter drawing all the attention upon himself.
Sneaking within the shadows, Jack keeps his position quiet, an opportunity presenting itself when a corpse begins stumbling past him. Taking the dead by surprise, Jack pulls the corpse into his alleyway and crushes its skull against a metal drain pipe. Digging through the body’s pockets, Jack finds little of value, pocket change and broken necklace falling between his fingers.
Discarding the body, Jack takes a glance out at the horde, reaching to the ground to pull a broken piece of concrete into his hand. Backing towards the edge of a long peer, Jack finds the unnamed survivor having little room left to maneuver. Finding few openings, the man begins firing additional shots at the undead until his clip runs empty, all options now spent.
Picking his spot, Jack takes the concrete block and hurls it through the shop of a nearby sandwich joint, the windows shattering loud enough to distract the survivor for one second. Finding Jack’s outline, the figure begins to dash towards the man, pushing past other corpse’s on his way to perceived help. Pulling the man to safety, Jack removes the backpack from this survivor’s shoulders as the man thanks him.
“Thank you, kid!” the man shouts to Jack in a breathy tone, holding onto the younger gentleman’s arms as weight is lifted from his back. “Do you have a camp?” the man asks, exhausted and dehydrated, the gun ripped from his hand without an answer from Jack’s lips. Confused, the man looks to Jack, attempting to ask a question before a shot connects below his chin, everything going black for a mere second as he falls to his knees.
His uppercut connecting, Jack pulls the man to his feet and looks him in the eyes, the unknown man dazed and confused. Throwing the bag over his own shoulder, Jack lets the horde catch up before delivering his boot to the man’s midsection, sending the nameless survivor into the grasp of the undead force, disappearing below a sea of hands, blood spewing from beneath the pile of dead mass.
Dashing back the way he came, Jack gives five knocks against a metal door before watching it burst open, Shauna clearing the path for him to return to safe walls. Climbing the stairwell, Jack and Shauna return to an empty office, the man tossing the sack of belongings into the center of the room. “Tell me we got something good” Jack mutters, placing the handgun atop a desk before plummeting into the plushy embrace of a set of couch cushions.
“You get rid of the guy this belonged to?” Reggie asks, he and Tyler closing in on the bag. “I didn't do as much as the horde did” Jack replies, resting up as Shauna hands him a bottle of water. “Thank you, dear” Jack humors, quenching his thirst as packets of perishables, bottles of water, dozens of rounds of ammunition, and other essentials fall from within the burlap sack.
Pleased with their findings, Tyler and Reggie shovel the supplies into piles, bundling them with bigger piles of the same type, stocking up for a long winter. Dousing a rag with some of the water, Jack moistens his forehead, cooling himself off until Tyler raises the obvious question. “How much longer are we supposed to do this?” the man asks, eager to trade in the view of their upper-floor office for the comfort he was led to believe would be found elsewhere.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’ve got somewhere safe to sleep” Tyler explains, his eyes peering towards the stashes of supplies, “but our whole plan was to make it to the New World Order.” Hands on his hips, Reggie takes the onus of answering the question. “The horde outside is still too big” Reggie explains, his arm reaching behind Shauna’s head, holding the woman close, “we barely made it out of the last one. If our theory is right, they should slow down as the temperature drops.”
Hesitant to take the plan at face value, Tyler plays into the suggestion, wishing for it to be followed through. “And if our theory doesn’t prove itself, we’re stuck up here to freeze to death” Tyler replies, his hand waving towards the window, flocks of birds flying south every day, “we can’t battle the cold, and the horde, and a shortage of supplies all at once.”
“Our plan is solid” Shauna quickly tries to argue, the reluctance to give in that Tyler holds made evidently clear. “Nothing is solid, Shauna. We don’t know anything, we’re just hoping that we’re right” Tyler replies, turning his head towards Jack, who begrudgingly removes the rag from his own head, expecting to find himself caught in the crossfire eventually.
“I want to get down to this N.W.O as much as the next guy, but there’s too much dead out there” Jack replies, Tyler’s head dropping as a result, “I’m sorry, but our best hope out of here is when the hordes are weaker.” With a deep sigh, Tyler glances back to Jack, correcting him. “If they’re weaker” Tyler replies, turning back and walking off into the rest of the room, his group left behind, feeling guilty.
Eyelids squeezing themselves together, Lauren feels herself guided out of her slumber, the sensation of a cold rush streaming down her face. Waking up, Lauren rubs at her face gently, her fingers getting in the way of the water running down her face, a rag soon pressing against her skin. “What the-” Lauren begins to groan, pushing herself off a thin mattress before being guided back by Tori, who remains in possession of the soft towel.
“Lay back down and let me wash your face” the woman mutters, looking Lauren in the eyes for a brief second, the dirty survivor taking the advice to heart. “How long have you been on your own?” Tori asks, continuing to gently rub the dirt away from Lauren’s sunburnt skin. “Since the start” Lauren replies, Tori’s hand falling from Lauren’s face, her eyes looking at her with a hint of suspicion.
“I was with my friend’s brother in law and a couple of other people” Lauren explains, her following weeks laid out exactly as they’d happened, “I’m not lying.” Believing the woman’s story, Tori returns to soaking Lauren’s face, the woman’s soft skin caressed by Tori’s thumb, the stains of dirt disappearing to reveal shades of light pink.
“You’ve got a gnarly sunburn, but it’s nothing to worry about” Tori explains, soaking the cloth in a half-filled bucket of water, then returning it to Lauren’s arms, cleaning the dirt from them. “If you would’ve told me this was a bath, I would’ve stripped down” Lauren jokes, Tori’s silence prompting her to assume she had poorly timed the response. “I’ll make sure to tell you next time” Tori replies, catching Lauren off guard before smiling, only adding to the dirty survivor’s surprise.
Just when Lauren was starting to have fun, a rhythmed knock at the cabin door breaks into their tension. “We’re clear” Tori calls out, returning to Lauren’s bath as Kelsey emerges from the outside, a string of fish carried over her shoulder. “We’ve got something to put over the fire” Kelsey mutters, a smile emerging on Tori’s face once the string of fish plops into a separate bucket.
“I see our little friend’s awake” Kelsey says aloud, stopping Lauren from standing up once the attempt is made, “no, no, no. You look like a steamed ham, keep your shoes off and lay down a little.” Obliging, Lauren nuzzles back into the mattress, the feeling of springs digging into her back made bearable by the ability to sleep somewhere other than a mountain of dirt.
“How’d you end up marching with the dead?” Kelsey asks, noting her ability to blend in nearly seamlessly with any other roaming corpse. “I didn’t mean to” Lauren replies, the days prior to her encounter with Kelsey’s people blurring in with each other, “I’d been following the dead since I ran out of water. I figured they’d lead me somewhere worth a damn.”
Nodding to herself, Tori takes a glance at Kelsey, watching the woman think for a moment, Kelsey instinctively turning back to Tori. “Sounds legitimate to me” Tori mutters, the puckered lips Kelsey gives accompanied by a smile. “I’m sure it does” Kelsey replies, crossing her arms as she returns to her bucket of fish, an amused wink given to Lauren from her caretaker once Kelsey’s back has been turned.
Her sharpened fire poker digging into the skull of a walking corpse, Meghan follows after Bill, Janice and Tyler maintaining cover fire from atop a nearby gas station. “There’s a clearance to your left, Bill!” Janice shouts, shooting down a corpse in said direction, leaving the pair a path to the front doors. His fist bashing against the metal frame of the door, Bill waits to hear silence from the other side, disappearing with Meghan within.
Her service done for Meghan and Bill, Janice backs away from the ledge, keeping herself out of view of the dead as she reaches into her pocket. “What’s that for, mom?” Tyler asks, the small black device Janice removes from her pocket appearing more like a toy than anything else. “This is a beeper, honey” Janice replies, pressing her thumb upon a little gray button, triggering a repetitive alarm to emerge from within the device before hurling it down the street.
Janice and Tyler now having left their sight, a distant sound of aggravating noise begins to lead the horde down the street, blissfully unaware of the survivors remaining. Enough time passing, Janice leaps onto the roof of a nearby moving truck, her son leaping into her arms shortly thereafter. “Anything!?” Janice bursts through the door calling out, Bill and Meghan’s rummaging not suggesting wonderful results.
“Not yet, but you’re welcome to help” Bill replies, pulling out desk drawers and file cabinets, all to no avail. “It’s a police station, there’s got to be a talkie or something” Meghan exclaims, shoving multiple file cabinets of her own onto their side, lining them up with the door, blocking the exit. “I’ve got something!” Bill shouts, the group rushing to the second level of the station, soundwaves hitting their ears once they run into range.
“How do I change the frequency of this thing? That’s how you change the channels, right?” Bill asks himself, fumbling with different knobs in search of the right one. Minutes passing before a noticeable change is made, Bill catapults on the opening he’s discovered, pushing a red button near a microphone. “Hello!? Hello!?” Bill exclaims, his finger pulling away from the machine, giving anyone on the other side the option to speak.
Continuing to hear empty static, Bill is pressured into changing the frequency again, turning the knob in each direction, still failing to earn a response from those on the other side. Hours pass, Bill remains sat at the radios, his finger gently rolling the knob in each direction as the group settles in for the night. “We’ve cleared three undead from holding, two actually dead from other offices” Janice declares, the entire building having been ridden of threats.
“If you need us, we’ll be catching some shut-eye in holding” Janice concludes, turning back to the lowest level of the station with her son, Meghan and Bill remaining to oversee contact. Dissatisfied with his lack of response, Bill pushes his chair out and throws his arms into the sky, a groan leaving his throat as the tension eases in his back. “I don’t even know what we’re hoping for anymore” the man mutters, leaving his seat and walking off into the deeper parts of the station.
“We’re still going north, right?” Meghan calls back, following Bill to the backroom, groaning audibly from beyond the filing cabinet-wall Meghan had erected. “Sure, but that still doesn’t say much” Bill replies, pulling a police jacket off a peg in the wall, “Heather and Cam wanted New Hampshire, you want Maine, and Janice wants Canada” Bill explains, his arms thrown out at his sides, “we want to go up, but none of us can agree on how far up.”
Laying out on a cot, Bill folds his hands atop his chest and shuts his eyes, continuing to answer the woman who’d accompanied him. “Why does it matter?” Meghan responds, leant against a nearby sink, her hands pressed against the lip of the counter, “why don’t we keep going until we find somewhere secluded?”
Wriggling into a comfortable position, Bill rolls his eyes behind his eyelids. “We’ve passed eight big plots of land in the last three weeks” Bill replies, nearly chuckling att himself, “none of those were good enough, why will the next one be?” Failing to see his point, Meghan continues to argue what’s being left undisputed. “We won’t have room for being picky soon enough” Meghan answers, hearing the sigh that leaves Bill’s mouth, “we screwed ourselves passing those up, we know that now.”
“Meghan, I’m not arguing that we haven’t learned our lesson” Bill explains, eyes still shut, hands still folded, “I’m pointing out that we don’t have direction, and that’s gotten us in more than a few problems.” Agreeing, Meghan fails to give up her hold on optimism. “There are a few plots of land, private beaches, along the coastline” Meghan explains, a more audible sigh now leaving Bill, “we’re a day’s walk away, we can be there by sundown tomorrow.”
Smacking the mattress he lays atop, Bill gives up on the idea of getting sleep, marching out of the room, only growing more annoyed with the persistence of Meghan’s footsteps. “Fine, I’ll cave. What’s your plan?” Meghan questions, the legs on the man ahead of her beginning to slow. Hands on his hips, Bill posits the question, turning back to Meghan when he’s found an answer.
“I’ve got family down south, not too far. Somewhere around Delaware” Bill explains, a smile appearing alongside a nod, “that’s the plan I prefer.” Her eyes showing compassion, Meghan watches Bill turn back, his newfound energy to debate opinion giving him the room to return to the radio.
“Come in!” Charlotte exclaims, the knocks at her door originating from John’s hand, the woman intrigued by the man’s frame entering her home. “Welcome to my residency, Cowboy” Charlotte remarks, a hint of cockiness carried with her greeting, “to what do I owe the pleasure?” Shutting the door behind himself, John removes his firearms and places them atop a table, his stroll taking him to the table, where he occupies the seat opposite his boss.
“I think you should go back about business as usual” John replies, Charlotte’s laughter anything but infectious. “That’s like the inmates telling the guards, ‘yeah, go home. Us, the prisoners, can take it from here” Charlotte replies, shaking her head at such an idea, “nice try, come back with that thought when it’s more convincing.” The temple tips of her glasses falling over the bridges of her ears, Charlotte looks down at loose papers, check marks placed in random boxes.
“This is about keeping you alive, not kicking you out” John responds, the pen hanging tightly in the woman’s hand, her grip only loosening when he follows his prior assertion. “The people out there may not realize it, but you and I both do” John explains, watching the tip of the pen wave through the air slower with every word he speaks, finally coming to a stop.
“The people out there seem to have the idea that taking you out will help them take this place over” John explains, the greater picture blind to those beyond the walls, but resoundingly clear to those within, “little do they know, taking you out kills everything you’ve spent the last however many years crafting.”
Finding the same point as John, Charlotte subtly removes her glasses and rests them upon the table, the cap removed from the end of her pen, returning to its tip. “You’re saying this is about me, not about you?” Charlotte replies, her eyes still placed upon the pen, which she now holds between both hands. “This is about what you built, Charlotte” John replies, the woman finally looking up at him, “everything crumbles when you do, including me.”
Seeing the man’s point, Charlotte pulls back in her seat, her arms clasping together atop her papers. “So, you’re saying I get to choose between tempting death, and leaving the keys to the castle in your hands?” Charlotte asks, laughing when John meets her with silence, her head shaking as her eyes trail off, “oh, how cruel this fucking world is.”
Both hands in the air, John concludes his peace, volunteering to leave her with her thoughts. Weighing her choices, Charlotte struggles to keep her words to herself, this inner battle allowing her less-preferred choice to emerge victorious. “Wait!” Charlotte calls back, watching John begin for the door, his head glancing back to her, noticing this conflict.
“Why is this difficult for you?” John asks, not allowing the woman to speak her mind at first, feeling a moment where honesty can prevail between the two. “What do you mean?” Charlotte asks, her mind having been so wrapped around her original response that a second question phases her. “You put me in charge” John explains, the woman’s head falling, lips puckered as she begins to sense another question coming, “why are you so hesitant to let me lead?”
Gritting her teeth, Charlotte leaves her chair and walks into her kitchen, a stroll John follows her through. “You weren’t my first choice to lead this camp” Charlotte explains, John having assumed as much in recent weeks, “however, of the choices that I had remaining, you were the one I felt I could trust most.” Confused, John challenges the thought, bringing forth the obvious.
“You figured I was the most trustworthy, but you don’t trust me. How does that work?” the man wonders, watching the woman pour water from a hot kettle, a teabag lowered into her mug. “I needed someone that understood the principle of ‘watch my back, I’ll watch yours’” Charlotte replies, pressing the small of her back against the counter, her eyes locking onto John’s, “Most trustworthy doesn’t mean ‘I trust you’, it means ‘I trust you more than the other choices I had’.”
As John settles himself with this new piece of information, Charlotte places another burden on the man’s shoulders, one less genuine than what came before it. “Plus, I needed someone with experience in the military” Charlotte replies, that alone not risky enough to rub John the wrong way. “So you went out of your way to find a repatriated veteran in Connecticut to look over a compound in New York?” John replies, the woman’s smile beginning to form, “you couldn’t find someone closer?”
Biting into her lip, Charlotte’s smile becomes more menacing, less authentic and more deviated, her shoulders doing a little dance. “Not one with a family” Charlotte replies, the response confusing John at first, his face slowly changing to represent the new revelation. “You needed someone with skin in the game” John replies, the woman’s sadistic laugh answering him.
“I’m really glad you’re a smart one, Cowboy” Charlotte replies, turning her attention to the bag of tea in her cup, “since your family’s here, you’ve got incentive to keep the walls standing.” His eyes rolling, John turns around, laying his eyes on the door before glancing at his weapon-clad table, sinister thoughts beginning to form in his mind.
“Let my walls fall, and the mob gets your family, the dead get your family, or I do” Charlotte continues, unaware of John’s slow march towards the front of the home. “So bringing my wife back wasn’t done out of the kindness of your heart, I assume?” John replies, his voice noticeably distant, something both he and Charlotte recognize. “The point is, I kept my word” Charlotte replies, her hand reaching for a drawer, subtly pulling it free, “we both got what we wanted.”
Quick on his feet, John repositions himself, answering the woman’s claims in the same manner as he had been. “No, you got a pawn to use at your whim” John replies, looking over his shoulder at Charlotte’s slow mannerisms, picking up on the escalated tensions, “I got blackmailed.” Chuckling to herself, Charlotte reaches into the compartment, her fingers wrapping around the grip of a handgun.
“You have a home, more power than you’ve ever had in your life, and a world to raise your kid in” Charlotte continues, removing the weapon from the drawer, “you call it blackmail, I call it heaven.” Spinning around, Charlotte aims her gun towards the door, expecting to find her aim taken upon John, only for surprise to consume her, the man’s frame leant against the home’s support column beside her kitchen entry, just to the side of the gun’s barrel.
“What’s that for?” John asks, his voice confident and without fear, arms crossed, awaiting an answer. Mouth agape, Charlotte glances between John and the door, still aiming her gun before deciding otherwise. “I- I don’t-” Charlotte stumbles, returning the gun to its original place, shoving its compartment shut. “If you were to ask me, I’d say you’ve got trust issues” John remarks, his statement at first being taken as a joke, prompting him to double down.
“Seriously, I don’t know what it is, but you seem to have the wrong impression of me” John explains, weaponizing the woman’s own self-doubt against her. “I’m very happy with the sanctuary I have here, I just don’t like the terms that make it possible” John explains, his confident look turning into one of discontent. Letting silence surround them, John plays the card stuffed up his sleeve, his opportunity ripe for the picking.
“Maybe your lack of trust in me isn’t my fault as much as it is yours” John explains, leaving the wall and approaching a silenced Charlotte, looking her in the eyes, “if you chose me to lead, let me lead.” Her eyes taken by the imposing frame before her, Charlotte pulls herself out of a brief fascination, taking the tea into her hand and returning to her table with a request for John’s departure, not another word to follow.
“Please leave, I have work to get to” Charlotte concludes, her attention turned away from John, who stares at her for a moment before obliging. Exiting the home, John purposefully appears to forget his weapons, only returning for them as he’s halfway out of the door. Without another soul around, Charlotte drops her pen and stares off at the depths of her home, thinking about the interaction, and considering her options past that.
“Don’t jump” Jack quips, entering one of the floor’s back rooms, seeing Tyler sit on the fire escape, occupying one side of the staircase. “Don’t push me” Tyler jokes back, making room for Jack on the stair, their shoulders pressed together, both men having a view of lower Manhattan across the Hudson. “Look at how dark the city is” Jack mumbles, the sun beginning to make its final descent past the horizon, dipping below the skyline to turn the world dark.
“I sit out here for a few minutes every night, right around this time” Tyler replies, his voice carrying the weight of awe, “it never gets any less insane.” A breathy laugh leaving his lungs, Jack begins to recall his past life as silence begins to persist, the street lights below as powerless as the grid they’re managed by. “I used to take the metro out there every weekend after work, get off on Broadway and Isham” Jack recalls aloud, Tyler’s attention solely belonging to him.
“Suzie and Christopher lived a few blocks off, just along Post Ave” Jack continues, feeling a knot begin to form in his chest, the words he wishes to use having a hard time leaving his mouth. “We’d go to a little shop two streets down, Havana’s Taco’s” Jack summons the memories of, a smile peering through his lips, “that was the plan, every single week, and we never once questioned it.”
With a huff, Jack’s fonder memories cease, reality setting in, matching the attitude of the city presented to them, cold and lifeless. “You never did say what happened between you two” Tyler interjects, his curiosity beginning to wander, Jack’s half-hearted smile answering. “You don’t have to, I j-” Tyler says, stopped by Jack’s sudden response, the man beginning to feel as though the answers he accepts in his head are better off spoken aloud.
“She found someone better” Jack replies, looking at Tyler, his eyes beginning to water, hands tucked away in the pockets of his coat, “kicked me to the side, never once questioned it.” Licking his lips, Jack lets his breath cloud the air, feeling the need to return inside as the chill picks up.
Returning to the building, Jack takes himself back to the rest of the group, his attention promptly called back for. “I’d be dead if it weren’t for you” Tyler mutters aloud, his words bringing Jack’s head around, “Reggie said it himself. He wanted to call it, but you kept trying to bring me back.” Intending to discredit himself, Jack’s efforts are quashed where they are presented, Tyler remaining adamant Jack is recognized for what he’s done.
“You saved my life. You did. I wouldn’t be looking at that city if it weren’t for you” Tyler explains, Jack’s head dropping, the credit too much for him to accept graciously, “I’m here because of you, and come to think of it, Reggie is, too.” Without the words to answer with, Jack watches Tyler re-enter the room, shutting the window behind him. “I trust whatever your call is” Tyler explains, his hat placed in Jack’s corner, “if your call is to wait for the cold to take over, I’m in.”
A pat on the back given, Tyler departs, walking off with the conversation in his possession, the last word left as is. Watching Tyler turn the corner, Jack looks to the skies with a chuckle, his shoulders shrugging as he seemingly accepts his role in the group.
Rubbing at his eyes, Bill begins to fall into the clutches of sleep, his head finding comfort in the cold desktop. “Yeah, I’m here” Bill mutters to himself, partially asleep whilst also being partly conscious, his attention stirring. “Can you hear me? Please respond?” an indistinct voice asks, Bill’s answer from before repeating, “Yeah, I’m here.”
“Hello!? Can anyone hear me?” the voice asks again, desperately hoping for an answer, the question finally bringing Bill out of his half-slumber, “Please, if you can, respond!” Wiping the drool from his chin, Bill leans back in his chair, the disgust he feels in himself slowly subsiding, his mind gradually becoming more aware of the changed pitch in static.
“Hello!?” the voice calls out again, this time earning Bill’s attention, his mind unsure of how to respond at first, his rush to engage in conversation emerging. “Can anyone hear me!?” the voice cries out, Bill’s shouts and rapid movements waking the rest of the station. “Yes, Yes! I can hear you!” the man shouts, forcing his thumb against the red button, begging for those on the other end to respond.
“What are y-?” Meghan begins to ask, pulled out of her sleep in the next room over, immediately noticing what’s occurring when her eyes fall upon a frantic Bill. “Hello, are you there!?” Bill shouts, still going without an answer from the other end, a faint shake of the ground beginning to occur. “Earthquake!” Janice shouts from the lower level, her son carried through the door and up the stairs.
“Come in, do you read me!?” Bill shouts, the shaking of the ground only growing in violence, a noise emerging from the distance, something unexplainable to those in the station. “I read you, I read you!” the man on the other end of the line replies, “this is Captain Eric Waynes, Elkwood Flight 488!” His eyes wide, Bill reacts on his first thought, informing the pilot of the unstable conditions below.
“I believe we’re experiencing an earthquake, bear with us!” Bill calls out, wishing to explain any failed connection between the two, the answer he gets back only serving to chill him to the bones. “No, that’s us!” the pilot calls back, his frantic voice suggesting something seriously wrong, “we’re experiencing engine failure, and- Oh god!”
The feed cutting out, Bill tries achingly to establish a response, the rattling of the floor now becoming too much to withstand. “Captain, do you hear me!?” Bill shouts, his radio beginning to shake back and forth, threatening to come down on the man. “Captain, do you-” Bill exclaims again, his name screamed for by Meghan, her interruption preceding the wrapping of her arms around his body.
Pulling herself back, Meghan rips Bill away from the table he’d once sat atop, the massive stereo-like structures controlling the radio pushing themselves over, inches away from crushing Bill below them. “How did-!?” Bill questions, his wondering put on hold as Meghan takes him by the hand, leading him to the lower level, where Janice and Tyler pull the filing cabinets away from their exit.
Dashing through the front doors, the group emerge onto the streets, the dead that surround taking interest in them immediately. “Where do we go now!?” Meghan exclaims, the rumbling ground knowing over both themselves and the dead their safety is threatened by. The first to stand, Bill removes a hunting knife from a pouch in his pocket, digging into whatever rot comes across his way.
Clearing a spot in the middle of the road, Bill looks off in the near distance, his eyes widening as the shocking sight he witnesses closes in. “Duck!” Bill screams, breaking from his spell for a moment to turn back, warning his group a moment too late. Their feet swept out from beneath them, a thunderous sound crater rips through the air, the back wheels of a plane zipping through the low skies, its momentum lifting Bill off his feet, violently hurling him down the road.
Their ears ringing, Meghan, Janice and Tyler are forced to watch the plane descend, unable to stand without being thrown down. In seconds, the metal frame rips apart, holes gash in the passenger airliner, whatever existed within them now filled with scorching flames. In due time, the entire plane is engulfed in flames, replaced with a plume of smoke, the midnight sky replaced with a horrifyingly deep orange tint.
Cut and bruised, Meghan pushes herself up, reaching over to Janice and Tyler, patting them on the shoulder to appear friendly, her hearing so demolished that she fails to hear her own words. Helping the pair to their feet, Meghan carries the mother and son to a car, stuffing them in the backseat whilst telling them to stay low, every window having been blown out.
The only thing clear to her being the violent ringing encompassing her every thought, Meghan removes her fire poker from within her belt, her sights set upon finding Bill. The dead now beginning to rise, Meghan puts down one corpse after another, still unable to hear their insatiable groans, every inch of her surroundings now a threat to her life.
Breaking out into a sprint, Meghan slashes at any corpse that comes within her path, multiple blocks covered in her travels, still unable to find Bill. Gasping for air, her cardio barely improved upon from the initial days of the outbreak, Meghan begins to realize what mess she’s found herself in, the dead only increasing with each minute they have to regroup.
Considering Bill lost, Meghan takes a three hundred and sixty degree turn, looking at every corpse in her way before mistakenly stumbling upon a peculiar sight. Violent slamming its palm against a car door, a heavily-scraped hand emerges from beneath a car, desperately begging for Meghan’s attention. Having lucked out, Meghan digs her weapon into a few corpses before making a rush for the vehicle, Bill’s skinless arm taken into her grasp, pried out from below the wreckage.
Pulling Bill’s arm over her own, Meghan glances back at the undead, unsure of what to do next. Resting Bill against a heavily-damaged vehicle, Meghan rushes into the sea of the dead, her fire poker raised at one corpse in particular. In a moment of hesitation, Meghan watches the head she had targeted combust in front of her, the body dropping to the ground, giving her the ability to watch Janice dash down the street, a handgun wielded in her right hand, Tyler carried on her back.
Tucking away her gun, Janice removes her rifle from her shoulder, wielding it like a bat and aiming for the fences, brains splattered as if they were home run shots. Still unable to hear, Janice leads Meghan down the street, Bill’s carved arm draped over her shoulder, their legs carrying them off in the direction of the scorched bird.
“Yo, Cowboy” Charlotte calls out with a whistle, the man turning back from his post atop the wall, eyes squinting at her luggage-packed figure. Climbing down, John approaches the woman with a confused look, curious as to the reason behind her appearance. “If I so much as smell a plot cooking between you and anyone here, I will personally roast your testicles over an open fire and serve them to the people beyond the walls” Charlotte explains, her personal way of announcing her departure.
“So, you’re actually going to leave?” John replies, clarifying such matters for his own certainty, “any reason as to why?” Not taking glee in having to admit her shortcomings, Charlotte explains as if John were five. “In order to know I can trust you, I need to see what you do on your own” Charlotte replies, tightening the strap on her over-the-shoulder bag.
The walls parting to allow Tom’s car to enter the grounds, Charlotte takes the moment to leave her departing words with the man beside her. “I’m not the most likable person, Cowboy. I’ve had rebels try to take what’s mine already, and they weren’t very successful” Charlotte explains, backing up to her car with a smile. “Do yourself a favor, Callis” Charlotte decries, opening the backseat, setting one foot inside, “learn from history, and don’t let it repeat itself.”
His chin lifting, John watches Charlotte sink into her car, the door slamming shut behind her as the car repositions itself. The wall parting, a line of guards take aim at the crowd, allowing the car to veer off into the night, chased by a handful of the less fortunate. “Move back” the guard orders, his militants falling back, their guns still aimed at those outside.
“When we-” the lead guard begins, his commands interrupted by a gunshot, the bullet ripping through his skull, spilling his brains in the sand and leaving his body limp. “Who was th-!?” a second guard shouts, suffering the same fate, this time piercing through the throat with a second slug. Without a leader, the militants take aim at random civilians, this display quickly being noticed by John, who rushes out to the front line.
Removing his gun from his holster, John takes aim at one man, a revolver clutched within his hands as he hides within the crowd. The pull of the trigger sending a bullet directly through the gun’s right eye, John orders the soldiers back inside, hurrying back himself as the crowd begins to storm the walls. Closing up in the nick of time, the crowd begins to pound at the metal-plated entrance, some begging to be let inside whilst others threaten death upon leadership.
Rushing after the man, Jess and Emilio check on John’s well-being, his perfect health bringing reassurance upon the concerned civilians. “Did they shoot at you!?” Jess exclaims, her husband having to correct the question. “They’re getting tired of waiting out there, it’s gonna get uglier in time” John explains, an immediate question being brought over the man in the back.
“So what are we gonna do about it?” Emilio questions, both John and Jess looking back to him with puzzled expressions. “What do we do about it?” Jess asks, her eyes falling upon her husband’s, John’s confidence in his answer made by the seeming support of the two beside him. “We keep playing along, I suppose” John replies, looking to Emilio, whose smile is accompanied with a satisfied and approving nod, “and when the time’s right, we take this place over.”
== Rise: Remastered ==