Season One Finale
“She’ll be fine, she just needs to rest for a bit”
Though much is muffled, these words are heard in their entirety as Alex begins stirring up from her daze. Through quiet and barely noticeable grunts, Alex lifts herself to a halfway-seated position before Kennedy rushes over to her bedside with the look of pure joy written all over her face. “Hey Kenny” Alex says through a wide smile before being approached by Jaime, allowing her to rest the palm of her hands on both of her children’s cheeks for the first time in what feels like ages.
Standing directly behind Jaime, Jordan watches on with a slight smile on his face at the reunion between the girls before Alex reaches out for him and wraps him in a hug, thanking him for keeping Jaime and Kennedy safe in the process.
Beginning to slowly walk out into the hallway, Kayla and Chevy are halted in their tracks as Jaime calls out for them, motioning for them to come over. As they start slowly walking up to the newly-reunited family, Jaime explains that it was the two of them that suggested opening the backdoor whilst everyone else argued against it.
“They saved your lives” Jaime says, prompting Alex to struggle to her feet before embracing the two of them as well, thanking them for keeping everyone safe as well. As Alex breaks the hug, Chevy nods his head and flicks the free hair from his face whilst Kayla begins to show the signs of a slight smile forming in the corner of her mouth.
“How’s David?” Alex asks, only for her answer to come in the form of the man walking through the doorway and up to Alex, hugging her before telling her that he was happy for her.
“I don’t mean to be the one to break up this lovely moment” Chevy says from the back of the room, “But we’re still a little over an hour away from getting flooded out by acid rain, and all of the windows in this place have been blown to dust.”
“How long have I been out?” Alex asks, “A little bit less than an hour” answers Kayla.
“Healthy or not, we’ve gotta start getting on the move. This building may not be too stable for much too long” David says, only for the sound of shattering glass to begin ringing out from the main lobby, drawing the attention of everyone. “What the hell-” Jaime says before Jordan rushes ahead of the group and up to the doorway before disappearing into the hall. Hurrying after him, Chevy, Kayla and David follow in search for the source of the noise, only to find nothing but smoke and dust in the area of the building once used as the entrance.
“Probably just a window falling out of place” David says, only for Jordan to shrug off the notion and continue walking forward. As he nears closer to the gaping wound of the front of the building, he begins squinting at a building in the near distance in hopes of seeing past the plumes of smoke.
As David and Kayla look on, Chevy begins cautiously walking forward, only to suddenly break out into a sprint before lunging full-speed into Jordan, tackling him to the ground as a gunshot rings throughout the air, missing Jordan and Chevy by a few feet before piercing the stomache of David, and ripping through and out the other side.
As Chevy and Jordan slide into one of the many damaged marble pillars, Kayla hurls herself at David and drops the two of them to the ground and behind a pile of concrete chunks from the collapsed building as a second gunshot intended for David imbeds itself into the ground. Standing to their feet, Jordan and Chevy both take cover behind broken tables and folding chairs as Chevy arms himself, firing two rounds into the direction of the shooter, only for his attempts at scaring the individual responsible to be met with another gunshot aimed in his direction.
“Stay back!” Jordan shouts at Jaime, her sister and her mother as he notices them rush from the cover of their back room, giving them enough notice to duck out of the way of yet another round fired off into their direction.
“Anyone know where he’s shooting from?” Chevy yells out, only for a fifth bullet to be fired directly into a massive mirror-like wall at the back of the lobby, shattering it into pieces as if to assure the continued lack of an answer to the question. However; luck finds Chevy’s way as a panel of glass relatively unharmed still shows the burst of light from the end of the rifle across the street and through the smoke a few stories up well enough for Chevy to briefly prop himself up from behind cover to send a shot directly at the gunman, however unphasing him as yet another shot is sent into the mirror-like installation at the back of the lobby, this time forcing enough damage to obstruct Chevy’s view completely.
Regardless, Chevy still has his sights on where he knows the gunman to be, allowing him the brief moment to duck from behind cover and send a second shot at the gunman, this time earning an audible grunt of pain from his direction, which allows for Chevy to order Jordan out from cover and back to Jaime and her family.
“How’s he looking, Kayla?” Chevy calls out to no response. “Kayla?” Chevy calls out again, once more earning no response. As Chevy’s eyes begin bolting open, his face begins shaking with anger before he bursts up and out of cover, dodging one bullet after another before throwing himself behind the collapsed debris both David and Kayla take refuge behind. There he finds Kayla unconscious with a deep gash on the back of her head, suffered after crashing head-first onto downed chunks of concrete she was unfortunate enough to find break her fall.
Ripping his jacket and shirt off, Chevy musters through the cold as he begins wrapping the short-sleeved T-Shirt around his girlfriend’s head, applying enough pressure to hopefully stop the bleeding. Once bullets continue firing again, Chevy leaps from cover and sends another two bullets flying in the direction of the gunman, earning yet another grunt of pain twice before the sound of a gun crashing against the pavement begins ringing aloud. Noticing the moment, Jordan hurries through the lobby and into the street before navigating his way through the thick cloud of rubble.
“Jaime!” Chevy calls out, immediately bringing Jaime rushing up to his side as the two begin helping both Kayla and a badly-wounded David into the safety of the lobby hallway.
Without anything visible and no landmarks to help him find his way, Jordan appears lost in the hope-draining cloud of disparity. With nothing to go off of, Jordan continue stumbling forward in hopes of walking into something that can help him eventually until he feels a hand grab him by the shoulder and forcefully spin him around. Turning, Jordan notices a gas mask before the reality-inducing strike of a punch to the face knocks him onto his ass.
Trying to help himself back to his feet, Jordan feels the brunt of a few, swift kicks to the stomache continue to keep him down as he notices the man appearing to be dressed from head to toe in complete army garb. Suddenly, the combat-driven maniac drops onto Jordan before beginning to rain one punch after another onto the poor soul lost in the dust. After a few attempts at shielding himself from the strikes, Jordan propels his knee from the ground and straight below the belt of the individual attempting to deliver his fate to him, draining him of his power long enough for Jordan to get a direct strike to the throat in, dropping the soldier-like lunatic to the ground beside him.
Finding it within himself, Jordan staggers to his feet before noticing the man attempting to propel himself forward and lunging at his helmet, tugging and pulling at it before finally freeing it from the man and placing it over his own head. Suddenly, Jordan finds himself in the drivers seat as he drops the man to the ground with a final knee strike to the face.
Keeping an eye locked onto the man, whose face he still cannot get a fair enough glimpse of, Jordan slowly stumbles backwards before tripping over something and collapsing onto the harsh pavement below. Looking forward, Jordan notices the rifle laying out in the middle of the street before attempting to reach for it, only to be kicked in the mouth by the rejuvenated man in return for his actions.
Rather than retrieve the gun, the man decides to return to the towering position, taking a stance over Jordan and raining down one strike after another in hopes of taking out the resilient man on his second attempt. However; after a few well-placed blocks, Jordan frees one of his arms enough to reach into his belt loop and retrieve a hidden blade, which he picks the perfect opportunity moments later to drive directly into the side of his would-be killer.
Finally able to catch his breath, Jordan rips the knife from the side of the madman he had escaped by the skin of teeth with his life by fighting off, and crawls over to the gun, picking it up and rushing out of the thick smoke with it in the direction of his group.
Crawling on the ground, the still unrecognizable man slithers back to the building he started firing from minutes earlier and disappears through the shattered front doors into a pitch-black void of nothing.
Rushing forward with every ounce of strength he has, Jordan hurries through the blanket-like smoke in the direction of his group until he runs into Jaime, who grabs onto his arm and leads him the rest of the way. Finally rushing back into the lobby, Jaime and Jordan hurry to the back room and regroup with their fellow survivors, who quickly ready themselves to evacuate the building before the sound of marble cratering into the lobby floor begins spelling out the imminent future of the office floors above them.
“We gotta get out of here, now!” Chevy shouts at the top of his lungs, carrying a still-unconscious Kayla in his arms before beginning to lead the group’s attempt at evacuating the area.
As the seven survivors burst out into the backlot of the building, Windows begin shattering overhead as the top three floors begin caving in. Escaping out into the smoke-filled streets, the remaining floors of the office building crumble to a heap into the ground floor whilst the survivors barely manage to escape into the early morning with their lives intact.
“You fill a void in others that aren’t devoted enough to fill the void within you, Jaime.”
Tapping her long, press-on-like nails against the edge of the armrest of the chair she finds herself sinking further into with every waking breath, Jaime allows herself the ability to refuse the acknowledgment of Kate’s presence. Despite, or rather in spite of this reaction from the woman seated before her, Kate continues preaching to the choir as if the events unfolding were bound to reveal themselves as true, psychological miracles.
“You hate yourself and you don’t want to allow anyone to fill that void in your heart because you have deemed yourself too unworthy of that fulfillment.” Pressing the skin of her thumb up to her soft, supple lips and facing her attention to the window beside her, Kate simply keeps her eyes devoted to keeping attention on Jaime’s expression through the corner of her eyelids.
“You… You only allow yourself the fulfillment of helping others through their troubles because you have convinced yourself that the only way towards redemption is by allowing your own personal suffering to be the positive light in the worlds that other people revolve around.”
Remaining unphased, Jaime remains seated with her eyes deadset on remaining planted on the thick coating of plaster the dry wall in front of her is covered in.
“You are the sacrificial lamb bringing happiness and joy to people that you believe deserve it more than you. And that, Jaime…”
Pausing for a brief moment as she notices the woman finally place her eyes in her general direction, Kate allows a smile to establish itself across her face before concluding.
“And that, Jaime… is the one thing that you believe will allow you to both suffer and redeem yourself at the same time.”
Eyebrow raised, Kate has her attention. Like a starving fish noticing a worm dangling precariously in the midst of the sea, Jaime takes the bait.
She bites. “And what would that be then, Ms. Kate?”
Leaning forward, arms planted on both armrests, Kate’s smile becomes completely impossible to ignore.
As neither side decides to give in and break the silence between the two parties, Kate and Jaime simply stare at each other for eons awaiting the first sign of one or the other ready to be the first to give in and start reeling in the line. However, it would be neither woman claiming that victory, or rather loss, as the sound of mother nature bestilling her wrath upon the earth would hoist above that designated trophy with the sudden, booming roar of thunder. Suddenly, a few single raindrops ringing against the metal air conditioning unit would turn into a rainstorm just out of reach from the two women remaining engaged in silent warfare.
“Where do we go now!?” Kennedy asks, still struggling alongside her mother in hopes of keeping David on his feet. With each step kicking up the dirt of a building having claimed the lives of, perhaps thousands, the seven survivors lucky to still retain their lives suddenly duck down into a long, winding alleyway in hopes of alternative salvation.
“Keep moving!” Jordan shouts, lugging with him the rifle and gas mask of the man having recently come so close to taking their lives away from them. “Behind here!” Chevy shouts from ahead, only to collapse into a large, prison-yard like backlot directly beside a rundown factory. Following suit, the rest of the group hunkers down behind the frost-covered metal doors of a loading dock in hopes of it serving as a safe enough shelter to avoid gunfire from.
After a few moments of rest, Chevy’s most-likely concussed girlfriend begins groaning from beside him, reaching for the back of her head despite Chevy’s warning to avoid aggravating the still-fresh wound. Moving his hand behind her head, Chevy smiles as he notices his girlfriend return the favor by placing her hand over his. Moving his lips to hers, Chevy brings his opposite hand to her cheek before sinking further into the kiss.
“So what do you do for fun?” Asks the woman to his right, wearing sunglasses large enough to conceal her eyes, but small enough to notice her eyebrow raised. Laughing, a clean-shaven, leather jacket-less Chevy improvises.
“I make other people smile.”
Giggling and responding in a sarcastic way, Kayla goes silent for a brief second before asking “Seriously?” and earning a chuckle of her own from her still somehow rugged-looking date for the day. Walking past a well-lit ferris wheel, and noticing a few children rushing past them with water guns in tow, Chevy looks back towards the woman beside her and assures her of his genuinity.
“Your method of fun is to make people… Smile?”
Nodding with his lips puckered, Kayla cannot truly determine whether or not the man beside her is offended or selfless enough to allow her to laugh at the expense of his past time.
“Indeed, it is.”
Mouth agape, Kayla’s lower jaw closes before she nods and begins looking around the park until she feels the gentle nudge of Chevy’s elbow prodding at her own. Pointing in the direction of a dunk tank employee, Chevy explains his true reasoning.
“You see that guy in the tank? Do you think he’d rather stand around and wait for some poor sap to stumble across his ring toss game rather than sit on a chair and wait to get thrown into a tub of lukewarm water on a hot, Los Angeles-like summer day? Of course he does, who the hell wants his gig?”
Laughing, Kayla continues nodding in assumption that the explanation was over, only to be caught by surprise as Chevy further explains. “But he sits there with a smile on his face and high-fives the kids trying to soak him in the bubbling tub of what is most likely half rainwater because he knows those kids want to have a good day.”
Pausing for a moment and taking Kayla by the hand, only in order to stop her in place as the same man being discussed is dunked once again and yet still gives the children a high-five and congratulates them on their accomplishment. Watching further, the kids skip away with their parents and smile further down the pier this carnival-adventure is taking place on with their days having been made.
“You see, people can go through hell on any given day.”
With another pause, Kayla turns to face Chevy, who returns the favor by doing the same to her.
“Mountains can crumble, disasters can hit, and tears can be shed… But there’s always a brief moment of joy in every one of those hardships when you’re made to feel human again, and people treat you as nothing less. Of course, you’ll relapse back into the reminder that everything around you is falling into total disrepair… But you won’t feel alien to the sensitive touch of the good that humanity is always going to be capable of.”
Staring into each others eyes, a slight, yet noticeable smile on both of their faces, Chevy breaks the moment short when he looks to the ground and begins shaking his head, apologizing for getting too deep and making the moment uncomfortable. However, before he can be made to feel like any more of a good-hearted optimist, Kayla leans into him and shares a kiss, one that breaks the uncomfortable worry of having been responsible for ruining a good moment before the roaring sound of thunder is overheard, with sparse raindrops quickly followed by a rainstorm forcing the couple to rush for cover.
Suddenly, the roaring sound of thunder breaks the kiss between the two as Jaime reminds everyone of the impending acidic-rain threatening their survival. Looking around the area, Jaime notices the empty factory entry way directly in front of them before suggesting they take cover inside as they wait the rainstorm out.
After a few moments of looking around for anyone to suggest a better idea, the group begins readying themselves to take temporary residency within their newly-decided upon sanctuary. However, after a few steps towards the building, David collapses to his knees and remains clutching at his still bullet-penetrated abdomen. Kneeling beside him, Alex lifts up his shirt to reveal a massive loss of blood before the man falls onto his back on the asphalt below them gasping for air.
“David, you need to keep fighting, okay?” Alex asks, only earning repetitive “I can’t” responses growing fainter with each failing gasp for air. “Think about your daughter, David. Think about what she would need from you if she were here right now!”
Shaking his head and trying to speak through the blood slowly filling his mouth with each attempt at breathing, David quietly and faintly explains.
“I couldn’t save her… When I had the chance. I wouldn’t be able to help her now… Even if I wanted to.”
Not buying it for a second, Alex continues to plead. “David. David! You helped me get this far. You fought all this way for something to believe in and here it is! You need to keep fighting, David!”
Shaking his head, and reaching towards Alex with his hand, unable to stop crying tears of both sadness and joy, David faintly responds.
“Fight now… Or no fight now… I’m still going to die.”
Now sobbing uncontrollably, Alex fights back the tears streaming from her eyes and down the smooth cheeks now blushing a bright red from the cold to repeatedly plead for David.
“I need you. I still need you.”
“SAY IT!” The voice of a man, pissed off beyond recognition begins ordering at a woman with tears streaming down her face powerful enough to begin erasing the makeup from directly below her eyes, revealing bumps and bruises.
The hesitation in his voice is not enough, and it never was enough. Lifting his foot in the air and holding it there for long enough to add that much more pressure when dropped, the man crushes the hand of the woman below the sole of his boot and against the hardwood flooring of their living room. The woman, screeching in pain, desperately pulls at her hand in hopes of freeing it from the boots crushing weight as the demand of her is continued to be heard throughout the halls of their home in rage-filled fits of screaming and shouting.
“I NEED YOU! I WILL ALWAYS NEED YOU!” The woman shouts over and over again, hoping that each attempt will be enough to convince the man towering above her to free her from her shackles. Finally, the man lifts his foot, and the woman’s hand shoots out from beneath it like a rocket, finding comfort within the chest of herself as she tries to keep the shattered bones within it from spilling out of the contusion-like cuts plaguing her skin like patterns on a quilt.
Speechless, and allowing for her gasps for pleading-less air to do the talking for her, the woman raises her face towards that of the man above her. It’s Alex, and lowering his face towards hers, Robert places his finger to his lips and ushers for Alex to quiet down.
In the hospital room, Alex is placed in a massive cast, covering the entire length of her hand and most of her forearm as she is being released from the emergency room.
In the car on the ride home, Robert drives with one hand steering as the other rests below his chin. No words are spoken, and the environment still feels hostile despite the time that has passed. Tearing up, it’s Robert that breaks the silence first.
“I just can’t figure you out, y’know?”
Remaining frozen like stone, staring on at the road as if to admit her current state of mind is just counting down the yards to go before she can return to her home, Alex just sits there as Robert keeps talking.
“You do this… thing to me… You just won’t stop aking me angry and I don’t know why you keep doing this.”
Now sobbing at his diluted, unstable and delusional conclusions, Alex just stares onwards with her mouth agape until she notices the car begin to slow before coming to a stop on the side of the road, forcing her mouth further open as tears begin streaming down her face once again, just at a slower pace this time.
“You know that you piss me off and it’s like you just don’t care. You just keep asking for this and make me feel horrible about myself. Like this is what you wanted!”
Silent, Alex continues to listen as Robert asks the same question over and over again.
“Is this what you wanted?”
Finally, Robert screams the question one final time before Alex completely breaks down in tears, responding with one simple word over and over again through the tears streaming onto her lips and the saliva packing itself in her mouth.
There the two sit, sobbing for two very different reasons before Robert reaches out and rests his arm behind Alex’s head before nestling his head into her shoulder and whispering to her.
“I can’t afford to lose you now.”
“Please, David. Please try to fight.”
Spitting the blood pooling in his mouth, David plants his hands against the remorseless asphalt surface and struggles mightily against the fight of his life draining away to pick himself up to his knees. “Are you ready?” Jaime asks over to the gravely wounded man, who slowly nods through the pain of every muscle in his body growing stiff.
Stranding to their feet, the group begins confidently marching towards the front doors of the “Wavering Hills Industrial Workhouse” before a faint plea for attention emanates from directly behind them.
“Hey! Hey you guys!”
From the entrance of the alleyway, a man in street-casual attire lugging a backpack over his shoulder begins rushing towards the group with a creepy smile across his face. Noticing the possible danger looming, Chevy releases the gun from his back and aims it towards the man, ordering him to refuse any steps further.
“Woah! Okay! No worries over here!” The man says, raising his hands into the air with his smile still remaining, only being slightly hidden behind an ingenuine look of concern.
Slowly inching to the side, Chevy hands a still-weak Kayla off to Jaime whilst keeping the gun pointed on the man. “What do you want?” Chevy asks, simple and to the point.
“Well” The survivor says, “to find some place to safe to stay and wait out the rainstorm. That’s a good start.”
Growing increasingly protective, Chevy keeps discussions pinpointed towards the brass tax. “Find somewhere else. The factory is ours.”
Still raising his hands into the air, the mans concern grows lesser, and an expression eerily similar to confidence begins showing itself. “Oh, come on. You can’t spare any room for one more person?”
“No, it’s too dangerous right now to let your guard down. We’re not going to, and neither should you. Find somewhere else and hope you get lucky.” Chevy keeps his eyes still, locked onto the possible threat with full attention. Suddenly, his eyes squint as the man adds another branch to the conversation.
“I have supplies. You’re welcomed to treat yourselves to it.”
Suddenly, the group’s attention is peeked, and the obvious question is asked by Alex.
Chuckling quietly before responding very light-heartedly, the man responds. “That’s what most of the bag is for!”
Now smiling from ear to ear, the man latches onto Alex’s attention before asking. “Bandages, rubbing alcohol, disinfectant. You name it, I’ve got some of it.”
Still propping Kayla up on her feet, Jaime struggles to keep the woman at bay as she refuses to accept any further help, now grabbing onto the wall at the side of the stairway for support, freeing Jaime for long enough to get a good look at the mans face. Squinting her eyes, she notices something about the man that seems familiar. Despite the feeling, Jaime cannot quite remember where she knows the man from.
Going to reach into his bag, Chevy orders him to stop any further movements, prompting the survivor to place his hands into the air once again, this time high enough for the mans shirt to begin rising above his stomach. Taking a closer look, Jordan notices a bandage covering a rather large wound on the mans side. Subtly inching closer to the man, Jordan looks towards his feet to see combat boots on. Suddenly, the picture becomes clearer. As Jordan continues inching closer, Chevy and Alex agree to allow the man the brief opportunity to reach into his bag and retrieve the bandages and rubbing alcohol he claimed to have. However, before the man can retrieve anything from his bag, a voice from behind the group speaks up.
It’s Jaime taking a few steps forward and calling out a name. “Eli, right?” The mans attention returns to the woman whose voice called out the name, prompting another eery smile to spread across his face like a wildfire before breaking the brief pause to continue reaching into his bag. “We’ve met before, right?” Jaime asks, with Eli nodding in response. “Yes… Yes we have.”
Turning back to face the woman, still sporting a glasgow-smile like expression, Eli pulls his hand out of his bag and aims a gun towards Jaime, only to be tackled from his side by Jordan, causing the gun to fire off at Chevy being knocked off course, and sending a bullet through his hand, forcing him to drop the gun to the ground. With the sound of gunfire ringing through the lot, Jaiime orders both Alex and Kennedy to carry David into the factory. Struggling on the ground, Jordan and Eli begin trading blows at each other before Eli kicks the gas mask-wearing man off of him and retrieves a blade, pulling Jordan to his feet as he holds him hostage at knife-point ordering Jaime to drop the gun he now finds her to be wielding.
“You’ve taken lives before, Jaime… I know that… But you’ve never done it yourself. I also know, you’ve never used a gun before, so drop it or risk causing another one to be lost as well.” Staring down the woman in front of him, Eli continues to wear the smile as he awaits Jaime’s decision. Slowly inching her finger to the trigger, Jaime lets out a long, deep breath before pulling on it, only to find no bullet leave the chamber. Pulling once more, she realizes that the gun is jammed, and holds no power over the man balancing the life of her boyfriend on the tip of a blade. Smiling at the revelation, Eli begins laughing hysterically.
As his laughter dies out, Eli shrugs and lets out a breath of disappointment. “Welp” Eli says, “I guess it’s less fun than I had imagined it when you’re helpless to do anything about it.” Running the blade to his throat, Jordan feels the pressure on his jugular build before he is swept off of his feet and sent crashing against the ground alongside Eli. A few inches out of reach, Jordan crawls away from the man who has now almost killed him multiple times before noticing the dumpster that had been sent flying into them that ultimately kept him alive. Behind that dumpster is Kayla, who emerges from cover and bursts at full speed towards the stairwell, motioning for everyone to get inside whilst they still could.
Flying through the front doors, the remaining survivors dive into the main hall before pulling the doors shut and hoping that the locks installed do their jobs long enough. Gasping for air, the group begins rushing further into the factory whilst Kayla and Kennedy stay ahead of the pact keeping an eye on the door. Still in the lot, Eli pulls himself to his feet and retrieves his gun from the ground, slamming it against the stone wall beside it a few times before reloading a new cartridge into it. Marching up to the front doors of the factory, Eli begins laying in kicks to it as the rustic locks begin slowly bending under the pressure of each boot delivered. Noticing this, Kayla and Kennedy both return to the group and begin looking for places to hide until settling upon a rundown locker room. Looking through, Kayla directs Kennedy straight ahead, where she fits her into a stuffy locker at the front of the room. “Hey, listen to me. I’m going to be in the locker right next to you, okay? You and I aren’t going anywhere without each other, and I will not leave you behind. I need you to stay calm, okay?” Taking a deep breath, Kennedy nods in response before offering his fist out to Kayla, who returns with a fistbump before closing the door and taking residency in the locker directly beside Kennedy just as promised.
A few seconds after the locker doors shut, the doors finally cave in and Eli slowly begins stepping further into the building. Keeping an eye aimed down the hallway, Jordan and Jaime both hide out in a janitors closet directly opposite the entrance Eli finds himself scouring. Before closing the door, Jordan looks to the other side of the room and nods at Alex and David, who crouch behind a conveyer belt leading out from one of the manufacturing sections. Located further down the hall is an empty office that Chevy finds himself hunkered down in, halfway between the main foyer and the rest of the group not named Kayla or Kennedy.
Cautiously looking at every end of what’s visible from his perspective, Eli continues further into the building with each step crunching down on shattered bits of glass. “Come out, come out. Wherever it is you may be, little chickens” Eli says aloud, hoping to antagonize someone enough for them to show themselves.
“Oh, are we shy?” Eli asks, “Do we not like talking to people we perceive to be strangers?”
After another brief pause, Eli sighs before grabbing a metal folding chair and placing it down in the main foyer, directly opposite of the end of the populated hallway. “Okay, fine. I guess I should introduce myself.”
Releasing the magazine from his gun before loading it once again, Eli calls out for one person in specific to take great notes on what he is about to say.
“I truly hope David is listening… I think I have something to say that he might like to hear… Something that makes it clear to him just what kind of people he is surrounding himself with. Maybe the broad and biker guy will take interest too.”
Leaning forward in his chair, Eli bites his lip and rakes his teeth against it before starting.
“My name is Eli. Many people call me Elijah.”
Using his gun as a sort of laser pointer, Eli begins waving it around in the air before beginning to loosen up into a more animated sort of character. “But David” Eli says before taking a moment to glance down into the seemingly never-ending hallway.
“David may recognize me by my full, legal name… Elijah William Northcutt.”
Still clutching at his wound, David hands tremble anxiously at the revelation of the mans true identity. He turns to face the woman beside him, watching her as she starts piecing two and two together as well.
“And your… beloved leader… Your fearless director of operations… Killed my daughter.”
Turning to face his girlfriend, Jordan looks on with a blank face as Jaime simply looks on anticipating his next statement.
“You see… Jaime owned a company that, well, became pretty popular. It let high school classmates talk to each other about whatever it is they so chose… But amongst many other things, ladies and gentlemen, allowed you to let everyone know when and where you or someone else was hosting a party.”
Looking towards the hallway, noticing an open door amongst the many closed ones lining the walls, Eli takes an educated guess and speaks directly in its direction.
“There was a whole part of the app that was solely dedicated just... for... that… And you better believe me when I tell you… Kids took advantage.”
Staring at the wall in front of him, Chevy bites his lip, clutching at a large metal plate, anticipating Eli to continue his conversation with the empty air. Meanwhile, Kennedy stares through the slits of the locker door and directly at the gun-wielding, vengeance-seeking, fate-controlling psychopath at the front of the building with a look of distress, whilst Kayla feels the dread of knowing something bad is bound to happen with every wave of frost-like air that enters through her only viewpoint to the outside.
“And my daughter was one of them.”
“USC Medical Center Emergency Center, please hold.”
Patients with various injuries and illnesses line the walls of a crowded emergency wing from one side to the other, as coughing and groaning overwhelm any other sound for what feels like miles. Suddenly, storming through the automated doors in a hurry is a man dressed in professional attire carrying a briefcase, heading straight for the front desk.
“My daughter was in an accident, I was told to get here ASAP” the man pleads, with the woman stationed at the desk motioning for one of the coworkers behind her to attend to the mans predicament. “Sir, what is your name?” the woman asks.
“Elijah” the man says, stuttering for a moment to answer in a clearer fashion. “Elijah Northcutt. My daughter is Stacey Northcutt. I was told she was in an accident.”
Before the woman could register his name, a nurse walks out from the emergency area and overhears Eli asking for his daughter. “You’re looking for Stacey Northcutt?”
Turning to the woman in a panic, Eli confirms. “She’s in surgery right now, follow me.”
Walking alongside the woman, Eli’s walk becomes a blur, and time begins slowing down as he plays back mental images of his daughter when she was younger, playing on the swing and leaving the car for her first day of school. All the while, Eli keeps thinking of her saying the same thing over and over again. “Thanks dad, love you.”
Suddenly, Eli is seated in a chair, his left leg bouncing erratically and his fingers dancing around each other like the physical manifestation of a nursery rhyme. With each surgeon that steps into the waiting room, Eli’s attention is pulled directly onto them, regardless whether or not they are the individual responsible with his daughters operation. Eventually, the clouds in the sky darken and the sonic boom-like ringing of thunder barricades the outside with mother nature’s anger. After a brief few moments, the rain begins pouring down over the city, cascading the windows of the waiting room enough to blur the sight of the world below, confining the waiting room to its own, personal dungeon of misery.
Just after the rain begins falling, and Eli’s attention is enraptured by the wrath of nature’s vendetta, the light tapping on his shoulder breaks Eli’s haze back into the moment as the surgeon, whose uniform is stained with blood, asks Eli to step to the side with him.
Shielded behind the automated doors of the surgeons wing, the man stained in the blood of Eli’s daughter gives Eli the update he has spent hours waiting to get.
“I’m going to be honest with you, as I am with everyone else. Your daughter has lost a lot of blood, and suffered many injuries that, alone, would be difficult to rehab. All together, the surgery bought her time, but it doesn’t look like she has much of that left. Her friends died at the scene from what I hear, and she’s lucky enough to say goodbye.”
Now broken down into tears, but unable to speak more than gasp-like wales, Eli turns to face the window to his daughters room, seeing her hooked up to machines, and is horrified upon the surgeon’s final statement.
“It’s unlikely she’s going to make it through the night.”
After a few hours pass, and still no response from Stacey, Eli gives in.
“I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed me to be. And I’m sorry I wasn’t there to keep you safe when you needed it the most. I’m sorry you’re in the pain you’re in and it’s all my fault.”
Clutching at his daughters hand, just needing the touch of it one final time, the pit of Eli’s stomach turns as he faces his daughter for the final breaths she takes in her life and concludes through streaming tears, mirroring the rainfalls cascading the windows of the room around him.
“It’s okay to let go now. It’s okay to stop fighting.”
Planting one final kiss on her head, Eli places his forehead to his daughters and says his final goodbye.
“I love you to the end and beyond.”
A few seconds afterwards, her pulse fades away and Eli falls apart, noticing the singular tear falling from his daughters eye whilst still holding her hand close to his heart.
“I never knew pain like I knew pain then. It changed me. Once Stacey was gone, nothing mattered anymore.”
Turning to face his girlfriend, Jordan notices the singular tear falling from her own face before quietly embracing her.
Looking up from the ground and staring towards the end of the hallway, Eli makes his own statement resounding. “You see, David… No one else went through the pain you and I did. You didn’t even get to say goodbye to your daughter, I at least got that. How can you not hate these people for what they took away from you… For what they took away from us?”
Smirking an evil, manipulative smirk, Eli places the barrel of the gun to his mouth and bites down on the head before losing his temper and screaming at the echo-inducing hallway.
“WHY SHOULDN’T THEY FEEL THAT PAIN, TOO?”
Shooting to his feet, Eli reaches the chair behind him and throws it down the hallway, watching as it thuds and scrapes against the shattered glass and rough concrete ground before coming to a complete stop at the conveyer belt, directly in front of both Alex and David.
Now fully annoyed, Eli starts slowly walking down the hall aimlessly, just counting on stumbling across someone eventually. “What makes them any better than us, Dave?”
Taking the stock of the gun, Eli shatters the window of a sealed office door, startling anyone within earsight, but not luring anyone from their cover. “What makes them any more worthy of life than us, buddy?” Again, Eli takes the stock of the gun and shatters yet another office window.
“Why should they be happy while we’re forced to suffer?” Once more, Eli uses the stock of his gun to shatter another window. “Why should they be f-” Eli starts, only to be cut off as creaking metal begins making itself heard from his original position at the main foyer. Starting in that direction, Eli begins storming in a rage until a voice calls out to him.
Turning back towards the end of the hallway, Eli is stunned when he sees Jaime standing confidently, hands by her side, issuing him a challenge.
“You’re such a role model? Such a good father that just wanted the best for his daughter? Is that what we’re going with? Well then, let’s see how collected you can be in such trying times like these. You like to talk? Okay, let’s see how well-spoken you are with a captivated audience.”
Tilting his head to the side before using his gun as a pointer once more, Eli begins nodding.
“Credit to where credit is due. You’ve got quite the pair of balls on you, don’t ya?”
Crossing her arms, Jaime waves her hand as a challenge for Eli to accept. Before Eli can talk, Jaime asks him the first question. “When was it that you first lied to yourself and started blaming me for your inability to teach your daughter the do’s and dont’s of the road?”
Taken back, Eli is left speechless as Jaime continues.
“When was the first time you realized that you failed as a father and didn’t have the balls to send one through your skull because of that guilt?”
Shaking his head and breathing in deep, Eli is left without words once again.
“When was the first time you realized that you were never fit to be a father and were destined to watch your flesh and blood sing with the angels before you ever even had the chance?”
Prodding the bull, Jaime understands completely that she is within moments reach from getting the horns in return. Directly after her prior statement, Eli finds the words he needs to begin attempting to control the situation he has sunken into. “Shut up” Eli says quietly under his breath.
“When did you realize your daughter was dead because you were too worthless to get there first?”
The straw that broken the camels back just rung throughout the vacant factory, and the aftermath that follows would follow soon after as well. “SHUT UP!” screams Eli, now aiming the gun directly to Jaime’s head. “GET ON YOUR KNEES!” Eli orders, with Jaime obliging without a fight.
As she finds herself on her knees, awaiting her payment for all the damage she had caused, Jaime asks one final question. “When was it that I became the scapegoat for how the world works?”
This question, as simple in nature as it is, brings everything to a stand still. “Wh- What?” Eli asks, puzzled further than he ever imagined himself able to be.
“What? You think I was the one that handled how the site worked?” Jaime asks, smiling humorously and between bursts of laughter.
“You… You made it. You created it.”
Now laughing maniacally, Jaime tears the world from beneath Eli’s feet.
“Yeah, me and 15 other people!”
With anger overwhelming Eli, his hand begins shaking and the sound of the trigger being pressured begins ratling with the rest of the gun. “I wasn’t responsible for half of the stuff on that pile of bullshit, I was just the face they packaged it with.”
As Eli begins loosening his hold on the trigger, Jaime steadies the gun by placing her forehead against the barrel of it. “But if I’m being honest” Jaimes says, looking up at Eli before finishing.
“With you as a father… Stacey’s probably better off dead.”
Eyes bolting open, the rage consumes Eli once again as he reaches his finger to the trigger, only to be brought to the ground in a heap as two-hundred and fifty pounds of bloody man crushes him below. Busting open his stitches from the impact, Eli turns himself over to notice Jaime picking David up from the ground and directing him to the end of the hallway. Soon after Jordan and Alex follow, Jaime prepares to do the same, only for Eli to grab a hold of her by the ankle and refuse to lighten his grip. In trouble, Jaime attempts to kick Eli away, only for Eli to sweep her off her feet and send her crashing into the floor below. Reaching into his pocket, Eli retrieves a blade, the same one Jordan used on him earlier and attempts to drive it directly into Jaime’s chest, only to be delivered a kick to the face straight from the boot of Chevy, who uses another kick to send the knife flying out of Eli’s hand.
Lowering himself over Eli, Chevy begins raining one shot after another down on the crazed vigilante-of-sorts before one of his strikes are caught by the man below him, who presses his thumb against the bullet wound Chevy sports on his hand, forcing him off long enough to pick up his gun. Turning to aim the gun at the battle-tested badass, Eli notices Jaime rushing up towards him late enough to be sent flying through drywall into one of the storage areas at the back of the building.
Tumbling to the floor, Jaime is quick to her feet as she returns to the race towards the gun, only to be tackled back to the ground by Eli, who begins raining down one punch after another to the woman before he feels a sharp pain entering his fully-reopened wound, only to find it to be due to the blade he previously dropped imbedded into his side by Jaime’s younger half Kennedy. Stumbling to his feet, Eli reaches to the blade and attempts to pull it from his side, only to be cracked over the side of the head with a piece of brick by Chevy’s tougher half Kayla.
Dropping to the ground, Eli groans in pain as Kayla and Kennedy help Jaime and Chevy escape back into the main foyer. Rushing up to the front doors, the four realize that Eli kicking the doors in busted the locks, and therefor jammed the only exit on the side of the building. Prying at the twisted metal, Alex finally frees the hinge from it’s stubborn position enough for people to begin slipping through one at a time. First exits Kennedy, followed by Kayla and Chevy. Directly after the outlaw couple is Jordan and Jaime, who are then followed by Alex.
Turning to face the man that made the escape possible in the first place, Alex is stunned when the door slams shut, and David begins shaking his head through the glass pane.
“W- What are you doing!?” Alex cries, with David placing his hand against the glass in response.
“If I’m gonna go, I’m gonna try to take some of the problem out with me.”
Shaking her head, Alex simply repeats the same word through bated breaths in response.
Trying to pry at the doors in hopes of somehow getting them open, Alex finds it to no use as David signs off.
“Just keep fighting forward. You got to see your kids.”
Placing her hand up to the glass to match his, David finishes.
“Now I’m gonna get to see mine.”
Pulling his hand from the glass, David returns it to his stomach before shouting out for Eli to get out from cover and finish things like a man. Rushing into the main foyer, David aims for the hallway before he is caught off guard and tackled to the ground by Eli, who positions himself atop David before driving the blade of the knife into his chest. Keeping it buried in his chest, Eli starts twisting the knife as blood continues pouring out.
“I’m sorry you got caught in the crossfire” Eli says, “You’re probably the only one I wish wasn’t having to face this.”
As David reaches his hand to his cheek, Eli whispers reassurance.
“At least you don’t have to say goodbye to her when you get up there” Eli says, “You can say ‘hello’ again.”
Twisting the knife a final few inches, David’s life leaves his body and his hand drops to the ground. Placing his fingers to David’s eyes, Eli shuts his eyelids and tells David to be at peace. Turning back to face the factory entrance, Eli sees Jaime staring at him with eyes like daggers before rushing off.
Hurrying to the factory door, Eli tries budging at the metal as he watches the group of survivors rush off into the distance. Finally, after a few more moments of twisting and pulling, Eli relieves the door from it’s restrictions and slips through the cracks before rushing off in chase of the group.
“Jordy” a faint voice says from behind a locker door, grabbing the attention of Jordan, who slides the hunk of metal inwards to reveal a dark haired young lady carrying two math textbooks and another soft cover book.
“Yes, Megan?” Jordy replies, only to find himself in a face-to-face confrontation with two concert tickets practically taped to his eyebrows. Unmoved and unwavering, Jordan sarcastically asks a follow up question. “Am I allowed to at least try to see what you’re showing me?”
Rolling his eyes and returning to his current task of placing textbooks back into his locker, Jordan is easily picked apart as Megan immediately picks up on his clues.
“You said the next one was my choice” she says, with the least effective attempt at hiding the disappointment in her voice of anyone in the history of mankind.
“I know it’s your choice, but aside from the fact that I don’t like screamo, I’ve got three tests Monday alone. I don’t have time for anything other than studying!”
Mouth open and tongue licking the corner of her lips, Megan replies. “Okay, for a start… Killswitch is not screamo, they’re metal. There’s a big difference”
Making a face and shrugging his shoulders, Jordan listens to the second point. “And number two, everyone has time for something other than studying. You just don’t want to lose it as an excuse.”
After both parties pause for a moment, Megan gives in. “Fine, if you don’t want to go, I’ll take Mark instead.”
Turning to his girlfriend, Jordan questions her once again. “Mark?”
“You’ve got a problem with Mark?” asks Megan.
Shutting his locker door, Jordan faces his raven-haired girlfriend once again. “Uh, yeah… Yeah, I’ve got a big fuckin’ problem with Mark.”
“And why is that?” Megan asks, leaving Jordan to stand in shock.
“Because he wants to fuck you. I think that’s a good enough reason.”
Now shocked herself, Megan nods before shooting down the prior mentioned reason. “He just wants to spend time with me.” Now shocked once more, Jordan responds with a sarcastic vigor, “He wants to spend time with your vagina, not you.”
Noticing her opportunity to go for the jugular, Megan finds the cold spot in her heart to take a shot right back. “Even if that was true, at least he’d want more to do with me than you do.”
Now visibly hurt, Jordan shakes his head in disgust before turning to leave. Before he can do so, Megan grabs his attention once again. “Am I wrong?”
Turning to face her, Jordan simply answers with, “Yeah.”
Placing her hands to her hips and biting her lips in anticipation, Megan asks, “So you don’t want to spend time with me because you’ll be too busy studying and that’s it, right?”
Again, Jordan answers simply. “Yeah.”
Shaking her head in clear disgust, Megan swipes the loose hair away from her face before responding.
“Then why are you going home without your books?”
Going to respond, Jordan realizes there is no explanation, because the truth was that he just wanted to be home for the weekend alone. Speechless, Jordan closes his mouth and goes limp, knowing he screwed up.
“Megan” Jordan says, only for the girl to hurry past him and brush his shoulder on her way down to the first floor on the verge of tears.
After a few hours, Jordan finds himself sitting in silence reading a book, something he’s often found himself the target of harassment for doing. Suddenly, he hears the sound of knocking on his bedroom door. Noticing, Jordan calls out to the person behind his door to come in. Slowly gliding open, Jordan watches the door reveal his mother and his father, both moving slowly and diligently before closing the door and sitting at the foot of his bed.
“Are you guys, okay?” Jordan asks, noticing his parents struggling to find the words to say. “Jordan, we... “ his father says, unable to piece together the words necessary to say what needs to be said. “Dad, what’s going on?”
Struggling even further to find the proper words, Jordan’s mother places her hand on his father’s shoulder before looking at Jordan. Suddenly, the roaring sound of thunder comes marching into earsight and rain begins pouring over the house. The sudden storm brings about a silence further adding to the suspense, but allows for Jordan to understand the gravity behind what could be to come. Softly, and concerned, Jordan simply asks.
“Keep running! Don’t let up!” Chevy commands, hurrying ahead of the group alongside both Jaime and Kayla before two gunshots ring off in the distance behind them. Knowing the situation at hand, Chevy spots a campsite through a few groups a trees in the distance, and begins marching the group towards it.
Ducking over fallen branches and slippery leaves, killed by the sudden harsh winter-like temperature, the group rushes like wind towards their only true opportunity to survive before finally making it to the site. “What now?” Kennedy asks, only for Chevy to be cut off by the ringing sound of gunfire faster approaching.
“Where the hell are you?” Eli shouts out, following the trail of footprints leading into the small woodland area beside the road and up to a campsite. Now getting in position to fire, Eli slowly approaches the small, makeshift camping area ready for whatever comes next.
“You’re not fit to live in this world, let alone run it in your image. It’s people like you that turn beauty into disaster, Jaime!” Eli shouts, finally moving past the final tree before finding himself centered in the immediate middle of the camp, looking around for the next sign of retaliation.
“I’ve been thinking about what you said, Jaime. Thinking about how you didn’t create it, and instead, just got packaged with it. I’ve been thinking about it nonstop. And I’ve come to realize something important, Jaime…”
Continuing, Eli slowly pulls out a switchblade from his shirt collar and begins slowly encroaching the tent directly opposite the entry path to the camp.
“You may not have been responsible for the evil that was created…”
Eli steps up to the front of the tent and readies his hand back, filling his lungs with air before swinging down his hand with the force of a thousand suns.
“But you knew well enough to endorse it!”
Slicing away at the cloth, Eli takes the tent down into a heap, only to find it empty, nothing more than a thin-layer mattress and some rigid pillows. Noticing the surroundings filled with more than enough tents, Eli continues this blind game of whack-a-mole through bated breaths. Turning back to the entrance, Eli begins making his way to another tent, continuing to speak further.
“I had waited my entire life to be a father, and right the wrongs that mine never had the balls to do. But you, Jaime. You were one of the only hands responsible for taking that away from me!”
Eli shouts, bringing the blade down over another tent, slicing it to the ground to find it vacant once again. Now growing impatient, Eli skips the pageantries and slices away at the tent beside it, finding that one to also be unoccupied.
“I wanted to do right in the world, Jaime. I really did. But it was people like you that invaded it, and flooded the good in it with your enabling evil.”
Turning directly opposite his latest takedown, Eli makes for another tent on the other side of the campfire. Inside, Alex holds Kennedy in her arms as Kayla stands ready with a shank in one hand, and her opposite hand rested on Kennedy’s leg in hopes of it providing comfort.
“But there are some that enable that kind of evil, Jaime. And then there are the few that dig deep enough to force it to take over. And you, Jaime… You are…”
Eli is cut off by the sound of a cough coming from one tent over his intended target. Inside, Alex holds her hand over Kennedy’s mouth to avoid another, but it’s too late for redeeming mistakes.
Turning towards the tent over, Eli shows the sadistic smile once more overwhelming his face as he continues.
“You, Jaime… Are the most selfish form of evil.”
Lifting his arm into the air, Eli starts to swing at the tent until he is taken down by Jaime, who falls from the trees and comes crashing down on the night’s most dangerous opposition. Scuffling on the ground, Eli hits Jaime in the face with an elbow, forcing her off of him before beginning to crawl towards the gun on the ground. Reaching for his ankle, Jaime tries to stop his progress until it’s too late, watching as Eli takes a hold of the gun and turns to his back to aim down at her, only to be tackled on the ground and down a hill by Chevy, who falls alongside the resilient criminal all the way to the bottom, taking the gun down with them.
Finally, after what seemed like a tumble for the ages, Chevy and Eli both crash into the ground below before watching as the life-ending machine flies off a few yards away from the bottom of the hill both men find themselves stuck at. Rather than crawl for the gun, Chevy gets up and dives onto Eli, attempting to throw punches at him to no avail, as Eli gets his arms up to block well enough to hit Chevy with a low blow, taking him down and allowing Eli the opportunity to reach for the gun.
Writhing on the ground whilst trying to fight onwards to survive, Chevy tries to catch up to Eli until he realizes it to be too late, as he now finds the reaper of the night holding him at gunpoint rather than the other way around. Smiling and laughing to himself, Eli watches on in amusement as he states as clearly as he can.
“I didn’t want anyone else to have to get hurt, but tough guys like you won’t make me lose any sleep tonight” Eli says before reaching ahead of the gun and pulling the trigger, dropping Chevy to the ground in a thud as the smoke escapes through the barrel of the gun. Crawling out of the tent and up to the lip of the edge, Kayla watches Chevy collapse to the ground before letting out a scream of horror, only to be forced back to the center of the camp as Eli begins sending rounds up towards the edge, pushing the opposition back.
“You think it ends here, huh? The blood on my hands is of your doing, Jaime!” Eli shouts, steadily climbing the loose dirt of the hill beneath his feet before finally reaching the top to find a vacant campsite once more. After a few momentary steps into the camp, Eli lets his senses do the work for him, allowing himself to duck an attempted stabbing from Kayla, who he climbs on top of holds at gunpoint.
“Stop!” Jaime shouts, drawing Kennedy and Alex out of their respective tents, leaving Eli smiling through the anticipation of his inevitable actions. “Oh lord” Eli says, now breathing erratically as he becomes overjoyed with the knowledge of knowing what he has desired for so long is finally coming to life.
“I guess I’m playing god now, aren’t I?” Eli asks, only to notice the lack of response from the rest of the group. Finally, it dawns on Eli that there’s one member of the group missing, forcing him into a position of paranoia and heightened sense, allowing him the chance to hear the ruffling of a tree branch above him before taking aim and firing two shots, throwing Jordan of course and sending him dropping to the ground with authority.
Now more off-kilter than before, Eli takes aim at the Morris family in front of him and orders them to remain still, threatening to shoot the next person that moves a muscle.
“I’m in command now! I choose what you do, and I tell you when to do it! You operate under my command!” Eli shouts before attempting to order Kennedy away from her family, only to be interrupted by the sound of tree branches splitting beneath the feet of someone climbing up the hill behind him.
More aware and in the moment than before, Eli turns around and aims the gun towards the lip of the hill, awaiting the source of the noise to reveal themselves. However, the camp is sent into shock when, from the dark underbelly intended to be used as his makeshift gravesite, Chevy marches forward, unphased by the gunshot.
In awe, Eli’s lip quivers in the cold as he intends to fire towards Chevy again in spite of the shock, only to feel the piercing tip of a sharpened toothbrush handle press into his still-open wound, digging further inwards enough for Eli to succumb to the pain and throw himself off of Kayla, who crawls towards and into the arms of a still very-healthy Chevy.
“Stop!” Eli shouts from the entry to the camp, still waving his loaded gun around at the group of valiant survivors. “No one move!” Eli orders, only for Jaime to demand he stop.
“No! No!” Eli shouts, “I have lived a life of hell every day for the past number of years because of the creation you were responsible for! You took away the life I worked my existence to make possible and never faced the repercussion for your actions!”
As Eli continues waving the gun around, convinced it is now or never to enact the vengeance he has dreamed of for years, Jaime breaks the silence by getting on his level.
Hand ceasing it’s rapid shaking, gun no longer being used like a laser pointer, Eli is left confused as his head tilts as physical proof that he has no idea how to respond now.
“I was the embodiment of evil for… For too long. And I never had to pay for my actions because… Well, because heroes get to have some things swept underneath the rug in order to keep hope alive.”
Now slowly stepping forward, Jaime continues, trying to get closer to the man ahead.
“I don’t want to hurt you anymore than I already have. Will I in order to keep the people around me safe? Yes, I will. But I don’t want to cause you more harm than I already have.”
Finally stepping within reaching distance from the man still holding the gun directly at her, Jaime continues, trying to break through to Eli in hopes of finding something redeemable to him.
“A very smart woman, probably the only person I’ve ever trusted enough to tell anything to without worry once told me that I had a choice to either make my voice heard, or let other people figure it out for themselves.”
Slowly reaching her hand out to the gun, Jaime takes the barrel and raises it to her forehead.
“Jaime!” Alex shouts, only to be drowned out by the woman destined to be the one thing she always expected to be deep down.
“A martyr. It’s something I’ve always been fine with becoming. That’s why this isn’t my decision to make… It’s yours.”
Eyes locked fully on the two at the front of the camp, Kayla and Chevy stare on in anticipation whilst Jordan, Kennedy and Alex look on like they were dressed in the dread looming throughout the woods.
Suddenly, the crashing sound of thunder enraptures the camp as sparse raindrops begin falling through the leaves of the trees, with one falling its way onto Eli’s arm, causing him to momentarily jump from the pain, as it burns the surface of his skin.
“The acid rain! It’s gonna come down quick!” Chevy shouts, only for Jaime to order everyone down, keeping them in place before looking Eli in the eyes, watching as he begins tearing up knowing the decision on the line.
“Lower the gun and prove that there is still good left in you to provide for a world that needs it desperately.”
Watching Eli’s eyes grow closer together as he battles with his own internal dilemma as to whether or not he has any good left in him, Jaime presses her head closer against the barrel before concluding.
“Or pull the trigger and prove that you’re too broken for this world, and can’t be trusted to change.”
Extending her arms out as acid raindrops begin dropping onto her skin, Jaime closes her eyes and allows Eli to make the choice himself. Biting his lip and allowing the tears to pour from his face, Eli’s body begins trembling and the gun in his hand begins shaking with an increasing pace, faster and faster before he makes the decision.
A brief moment of silence ensues, and Eli’s eyes bolt open as the smile drains from his face.
The sound of the trigger being pulled and the mechanisms within the gun go off as per usual, but nothing fires. After the third click, Jaime opens her eyes and sucks in a deep breath before letting it out. No fourth attempt is made, as both parties involved know...
The gun’s out of ammo.
After another eternity of silence, neither Jaime nor Eli move a muscle until Jaime breaks the silence.
Revealing Eli’s hidden dagger in her hand, clutched by the ring-like handle surrounding her middle finger, Jaime lowers her hand before lifting it up towards Eli, driving the dagger directly into his stomach, only to rip it from the wound and drive it in again, and again, and again. One after another after another until Jaime knows there’s no chance of survival. Finally, Jaime drives the dagger in one final time,
Smiling in his final moments, Jaime whispers to the deathbed-laiden man, “Say hello to your daughter again.”
Laughing with every ounce of power he has left to offer, Eli shakes his head and cuts back.
“As I said… You live... to make yourself feel better... about the deeds... you commit… Because… deep down… You’re still the most… selfish form of evil.”
Letting a smile of her own show, Jaime shakes her head and begins twisting the knife in much the same way Eli did to David before returning the favor.
“Evil… Probably… But selfish?”
Finally twisting the knife enough to see the blue begin to stain Eli’s face, Jaime concludes.
“Far from it.”
Finally, Eli’s hand drops to the ground, and Jaime rips the knife from his abdomen, collapsing to the ground and gasping for air. Finally, the group surrounds her and hurries her over to a tent where Jordan stays tending to her. Making a break for another tent, Chevy and Kayla hurry into their own cover beneath one of the other few intact tents, falling on top of each other hard enough for Kayla to notice the metal plate stuffed underneath his shirt and behind his belt loop responsible for saving his life, still having Eli’s bullet lodged in the center. Meanwhile Alex and Kennedy climb into Jaime’s tent and seal up the entry just as the rainfall begins pouring down on the camp, leaving only Eli out to rot beneath the burning wrath of mother nature’s newest destructive cocktail.
“So… Now what?” The quiet campground has its silence broken with the ringing echo of the most important question of the night being asked by the man with a leather jacket on and an unlit bud in his mouth.
“I mean… We’re no safer out here than we were back in town” the man says, finally placing the flame of his flip lighter to the end of his cigarette. “Someone? Anyone? No idea? Okay…”
Finally, the blonde snaps out of her daze to fill the void left by the events immediately prior to their escape from the city. “North. Like we talked about” the woman says, sticking to the hope that if salvation can’t be under their nose, it must be found somewhere.
“If we’re not going to get answers, we’ll need to find them ourselves” the woman says, directing her attention to everyone in the group one at a time. “The best chance we have is to get out of the center of the chaos. If that means finding a place up North safe enough to figure things out, then I’m heading North.”
“Ehem” a brief interlude comes from the leathered-man and his dirty-blonde haired girlfriend, “We’re ALL going North.”
After a brief pause rises through the camp, smiles form on each person’s face as Jaime begins readying to finalize the group’s decision.
“Then it’s settled” the blonde says, her boyfriend resting the palm of his hand in hers and her mother resting the palm of her hand on her cheek.
“We head for North at dawn!”
Smiling, Chevy removes to bud in his mouth and raises it in the air to cheer to the first true group decision, with everyone else cheering out like a pack of wolves howling at the moon in hopes for a fresh new start in a world so cold.
With the night sky providing a pitch black, scenic view for all to enjoy, the air is clear and the stars seem brighter than they ever have before. No nightlife to ruin the surreal beauty of true nature and no billboard towering overhead trying to push consumerism at its worse down the throats of the masses. All is simple and all is bliss.
Until it’s not.
From behind the trees, one simply light flickers on, hidden behind the small dimensions of an office window. Suddenly, the one light turns into hundreds, and an entire wall of pure white light begins flooding the skyline. Finally, the last few yards of the building left to be illuminated are given the privilege, and the only sign of electricity for thousands of miles spells out one simple name.
“Cedars-Sinai Medical Center”.