For once, the entry double doors to the cafe remain open for the first time since the outbreak began, but depression lines the room inside regardless. More loss and further devastation ravaging the people within it, sheltering their emotion to remain as well-composed as they’d like the people around them to believe them to be. As their new reality rises in the form of the sunlight peering over the hills, the group of survivors remain silent, waiting for a sign that there is some normality left to be uncovered in the black and white world.
“No one’s coming” Lou says, shattering the silent, yet fleeting hope that someone will march into the room and allow them all to go home. “Someone could show up” Jules says, his words become muffled by the exhaustion taking over his body, but still present enough to confirm the final fleeting seconds of hope.
“No. No one’s showing up” Lou admits, pulling his hand from Ally and taking a seat atop the table. “Everyone look around the room” Lou requests, watching the exhausted survivors do just that, taking in the sights of their friends as they become their family. “We’re all that we have left, you guys… This is it” Lou says, watching both the hurt and the joy come over the group in waves, hitting like a freight train each time.
“It may not look like much, but that’s not important right now. What’s important is that we understand that things will only work if we let them. Our lives are just as important as the lives we’ve got around us right now.”
Whatever energy remains now is being dedicated to Lou, with everyone in the cafe placing their attention towards him, and expending the last of the power they have towards showing that they’re all aligned on the same agreement. “We’ve lost too many people to just give up now. But before we try to fight, we need to remember who’s on our side… And that starts right now. So go get some sleep, and we’ll figure the hard shit out at a later time. Until then, get some rest and we’ll move on from there” Lou concludes, watching everyone stand from their seats and head off into the undead-free building, with Vinny being the only one remaining.
Noticing the refusal to depart his position, Lou kisses Ally and tells her that he will meet her in homeroom before walking over to Vinny and taking a seat beside him. “Jules told me what you did for him down there” Lou opens, watching Vinny trace invisible lines across the table with his finger as he does so. “He knows he wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. He’s grateful, and so am I.”
“That’s great” Vinny responds, lacking enthusiasm and refusing to split his attention away from the table. Clearing his throat and folding his hands on the table, Lou starts speaking to the man, “I know this is hard” before he is cut off, Vinny sharply turning his head towards him and stopping him before he can get another word out, not out of anger or hatred, but out of a weird stage of content.
“I know you’re not one to think of school as anything more than some scheme by the people in power, but some people care so much about it because it was all they were forced to focus on. They were never allowed to think that grades didn’t matter, because it was all their lives revolved around” Vinny says, watching Lou close his mouth and nod in silence. “And for those people, this kind of thing isn’t a bump in the road like it is for you… It ends any meaning of what life is for them. Their plans, their dreams, their goals are all thrown away like the years spent on them meant nothing… Because they always were nothing. And now there’s proof of that.”
Taking in what Vinny says, Lou is helpless to do anything other than look Vinny in the eyes and symbolize to him that all he can do is listen. “I don’t want to live in this world… Not because it’s easier to give up, but because this isn’t my world. I spent- no… I wasted my time in my world focusing on things that mean nothing anymore, and now… they’re just as much of a memory to me as Margo is. This world is perfect for people like you and Ally, people that are great at what they do, but don’t revolve around it. You’re not like me, what the world used to be was what you lived in, it was everything for me that it wasn’t for you. You didn’t belong in my world, Lou… And I don’t belong in yours” Vinny concludes, standing from his seat and disappearing into the abandoned school without a further word from Lou, who just sits there with his hands folded, taking it all in.
= RISE and REVOLT is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series from Season 1 onwards belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media =
Spending her best efforts to pry open one locker after another with a crowbar, Halston’s grunts manage to catch the ear of Terry, who happened to be walking towards the area armed with a pillow and a jacket. “I thought breaking into shit was a black thing?” Terry jokes, earning little more than a subtle shake of the head. “You ever get tired of that?” Halston asks, the question acting more along the lines of a throwaway statement, not typically intended to be answered. This, however, doesn’t stop Terry.
“Nah. If my black ass ain’t hurt by black jokes, none of y’all should either. There’s your little pass to laugh” Terry says, the animation in his voice growing the longer he speaks, earning a more genuine laughter from the woman, still set on prying open whatever pieces of metal she can get into. “Why are you ripping lockers open?” Terry asks, shifting the question amidst genuine curiosity, mixed with slight confusion. “If all we have is each other and what’s been left here, we might as well see what all the chompers left behind” Halston replies, her statement falling near deaf-ears as Terry becomes too engulfed with laughing over the term ‘chompers.’
“What do you call ‘em?” Halston asks, watching Terry squint his eyes and respond in full comedy mode, “They’re a bunch of dead niggas, why would we give ‘em names?” Meeting Terry in the middle of comedy boulevard, Halston plants her hands to her hips and responds, “Maybe some people would like to not call them ‘dead niggas’, that’s a pretty good start!”
Chuckling, Terry walks away and pats Halston on the back as she returns to her efforts, but not before disappearing around the corner with the final word. “You might want to start opening the lockers they actually give the students, these don’t belong to anyone!” the man shouts, just as the door swings open to reveal more nothing inside, leaving a smile upon Halston’s face as she takes her crowbar and walks away, slamming the locker door shut in the process.
As he enters his original homeroom, Lou glances towards the floor to find Ally laid atop a makeshift bed of puffy coats, much to his own amusement. “Sleepy?” Lou jokes, laying beside a halfway-to-sleep Ally as he wraps his arms around her, holding her close. “It’s been a long day” Ally replies, the exhaustion in her voice being noticeable by anyone with an understanding of people. “You just rest now” Lou whispers, giving her a peck on the back of the neck as she drifts to sleep just as the sun begins to really start appearing over the hill.
As his eyes begin to shut, the light behind his eyelids begins to become rapid, like fluttering explosions upon the surface of the sun, forcing his eyes to shoot open before long, looking around to notice the building surrounding him reduced to rubble, and the explosions of light becoming bursts of blinding fire amidst the night sky. With little more than the remnants of walls around him, Lou stands from the makeshift bed and hurries through the doorway, running throughout the corridors in search of anyone. As he peers into broken classrooms and shattered hallways, he sees nothing more than the corpses of those he cares about littering the floor like garbage.
Before long, Lou stumbles across Ally, struggling to breath and reaching out for him, tempting him to come to her. As he tries to break free of his frozen, statue-like placement on the ground, his grunts become screams of desperation, helpless to fend off an oncoming horde of the undead surrounding him, closing in on his position and ripping into him with the first chance that they have. The shock, Lou throws himself awake, grunting loudly as he re-enters the land of the conscious with Ally on her knees, reminding him to breath. “It was only a dream, Lou. That’s it” Ally says, repeating the same thing over and over again whilst holding his head close to her heart as the sun sets on another day.
“How’re you holding up?” Vinny asks, leaning against the door frame of Jenn’s makeshift home, watching her use a few rocks from outside to sharpen the head of her axe before her sight if taken by the man. “As well as you’d think” Jenn replies, the hurt being hidden behind a mask of confidence, but threatening to spill through with the passing of each, individual word. “I know I didn’t get to send you my condolences before, so I thought I’d do so now” Vinny says, taking himself away from his hopeless mindset to bring himself down to the level he used to be at not long ago.
“Thank you” Jenn says, looking to want to say more, but unable to bring herself to do so. Entering the room, Vinny looks around to notice the desks around the room split into chunks of metal and downgraded wood. “I see you and I both got over it the same way” Vinny says, earning a slight laugh from both himself and the woman in distress. “Look, Jenn… I’m not gonna tell you that it’ll be alright because I’m the last person to take that seriously from… But you’re stronger than I am, this’ll be just another bump in the road for you, you’ve just gotta remember that you’re stronger than what the world throws at you.”
As Vinny finishes, the tears beating Jenn into letting them flow finally begin to fall from her eyes, and the hair on her head begins dancing with her pain-filled nods of compliance. “I appreciate it” Jenn responds, struggling through her words as the pain in having to say them begins running her over like being caught beneath the waves of a tsunami. Realizing that there needs to be some time to herself, Vinny turns around to leave, only for his attention to be requested by Jenn, as she asks a question to him once he’s turned around. “How did you get over it?” the woman asks, catching Vinny off guard as a non-verbal hint for him to come back in.
“Um… Well, as strange as it sounds… The hurt stopped when I put her down the second time” Vinny says, somewhat striking himself off guard with gravity behind such a statement. “It was like-” Vinny begins, looking to explain further before Jenn finishes his thought for him with, “Taking down the monster she became?”
“Yeah… Exactly” Vinny replies, staggered by the shared experience between himself and the woman, almost able to crack a smile amongst his realization of it. “Thanks, Vinny” Jenn says, wiping her tears away as the small, yet noticeable smirk of Vinny becomes more apparent. “Anytime” the man replies, taking the moment to appreciate the interaction before leaving the room, leaving Jenn and her sharpened axe alone beneath the light of the sunset.
“Jules?” Lou calls out, stepping outside of the school building for the first time since the outbreak first went down and approaching the man sat back in a beach chair watching over the sunset. “What’s up, Lou?” Jules asks, relaxing to the sight as Lou approaches him with amusement. “Havin’ fun?” Lou asks, taking a seat on the ground beside Jules, who seems more relaxed than Lou’s ever seen him to be.
“I guess so. I realized I never really looked at the sunset, so now that there’s nothing to stop me… Here I am.” Amused with his own actions, Jules smiles towards the sun as if it could see him, embracing the warmth of the light on his face as it slowly descends below the horizon. “Does this have anything to do with Vinny getting you out of that pile up back there?” Lou asks, taking his eyes away from the sunset to watch Jules’ response. “Yeah, a bit” the man replies, slouching back into the seat without a care in the world.
“Listen, I’m not gonna lie and say it didn’t affect me, ‘cause it scared me a bit to know that it could’ve all went down a lot differently… But I’m also not gonna get myself paranoid about something that’s just gonna get more common the longer we run from it” Jules replies, removing his eyes from the sunset to place them onto Lou for the first time. “What about you?” Jules asks, watching surprise come over the man beside him. “What about me?” Lou asks, laughing with Jules.
“You didn’t think about that horde mess? Didn’t see shit differently after?” For a moment, Lou thinks over his own reaction, not really having chosen to give it much thought until now. “Not really. Whenever my time comes, there’s not going to be much I can do to argue with it” Lou replies, pausing for a moment before concluding to give his own belief a slight amount of additional thought. “I’d like to think I’ve made peace with it by now” Lou responds, though the backing behind his conclusion leaves much to be desired on the part of Lou’s convincement in his own words.
“That’s why you’re the leader” Jules says, the heavy-statement slipping from his tongue as if it was another regular sentence, catching Lou’s eye as Jules self-reflection returns his view to the fading sunset. Sat silently admiring the view, the two men are oblivious to the rest of the group walking up from behind, with Vinny’s verbal adoration for the sight being the trigger for their refocus of attention. “Want to watch the sunset?” Lou asks, patting the ground beside him as an invitation immediately accepted by Ally.
Afterwards, the rest of the group takes their place on the ground, one by one, all looking out over the sunset together.
The sound of her shoes crunching the broken bits of glass beneath her feet, Jenn slowly walks throughout the secretary’s area with her axe in hand, looking towards the cramped hallway space before finally turning the corner to be confronted with it head-on. Slowly progressing through the claustrophobia-inducing concrete walls before finally reaching her intended destination, the sweat in the palms of her hands smearing over the handle to the axe as she pushes the door to the spiral staircase open.
Creaking through the motion in large part due to the rustic metal, the sharp sounds echoing through the vertical tunnel-like space, stuffy in nature and still lit by the singular, dim light just over her head. Swallowing the fear-induced ball of spit forming in her mouth, Jenn slowly makes her way down each step of the staircase, taking the long way down into a near-pitch black conclusion. From the fading sunlight, a barely-noticeable splash of light shines through the narrow glass window in the heavy metal door, allowing the smallest glimpse into what lays behind.
Even from the near-top of the staircase, Jenn can see the splash of light spilling into the dark base of the tower-like spiral, driving her closer towards hating her descent as much as it does forcing her to desire the closure as a necessity. The conflict within her mind does her no favors, as her descent remains time-consuming, each step being carefully taken with determined destain.
Stopping halfway down, Jenn takes in a breath and lets it return to the world, sending the hair in her face flying outwards for a moment as she does, finally speeding her descent up, and coming to the bottom of the stairs within the next few seconds. Once there, Jenn takes a second to assure herself of the necessity in her choice before finally peering into the glass slot, watching the barely-visible outline of two bodies laid out upon the ground, with one having both legs broken to such a degree that the bone protrudes out of it’s pant leg.
Closing her eyes and nodding to herself, forcing her mind to accept the nature of what she’s about to witness and get it over with before it’s too late, Jenn snaps into a lock of focus and pushes the knob of the door in. Pulling it free, with the mechanisms in place snapping and popping into place, Jenn looks towards the two bodies as only one shows any signs of movement, forcing her to brandish her axe in a defensive position, regardless of the level of the impending threat.
As seconds go by without assurance, the face of Wyatt’s reanimated corpse looks towards her and growls at her presence, reaching out with whatever power his body remains holding to take hold of Jenn, who has given up on trying to force herself to feel anything. Noticing Wyatt’s inability to move, Jenn puts the axe to her side once again and drops to her knees beside Wyatt, holding his head down to look into his eyes.
Faded gray and lacking any sign of a life he once had, Wyatt’s eyes refuse to lock onto Jenn, instead looking at the hand she has placed over the top of his skull. “Look at me” Jenn asks, knowing that he won’t do as she asks, but still feeling the need to so regardless. “Look at me” she asks again, still captivated by his corpse’s refusal to acknowledge her apart from what he wants. “Look at me!” Jenn shouts again, slamming his head into the floor, splattering blackened blood upon the concrete.
“Goddamnit, Wyatt! Look at me!” Jenn shouts again, slamming his head into the ground over and over, requesting the same thing each time to no avail. “Look at me you son of a bitch!” Jenn continues to shout, repeatedly forcing his skull, now showing bone, into the concrete without any further hesitation, just doing so without stopping. “Look at me!” Jenn continues shouting, the blood beneath his skull becoming a pool with each thud, and her cries becoming more desperate the longer her pleas go unnoticed.
Finally, Jenn stops slamming Wyatt’s head into the ground, holding it in place as his growls, now somewhat muffled, persist alongside his still directionless eyes. Thrown well past the brink of composure, Jenn picks her axe from the ground and lifts to her feet, raising the blade over her head and burying it into his skull, finally ending the groaning and growling, and finally ending whatever chapter of life the man had entered into.
Upon the mixture of crunching and squishing of the head of the weapon imbedding itself into Wyatt’s skull, Jenn struggles to force it free before finally dropping to her ass on the ground in a heap of tears. Head buried in her knees and her arms locked around the front of them, Jenn lets whatever emotions wish to flow do exactly that. Alone in the dungeon-like setting, Jenn throws the world around her away for a moment of solace, the handle of the axe still propped in the air, waiting to be retrieved for the moment.
Returning to a spot in the girl’s locker room, Halston lays herself out on a couch in the teacher’s spot just beyond the changing area. Closing her eyes, she places her hands behind her head and tries to ignore the eerie silence before hearing the mechanisms of the locker room door open, alerting her enough to get up and aim her gun. “Woah!” Ally says, holding her hands out as Halston lowers the gun. “I noticed someone had taken over the locker room, I just wanted to come down and figure out who it was” Ally says, walking through the doorway as Halston lays back down.
“I know he was Jenn’s boyfriend, but he died saving you. I don’t know what you’re feeling in regards to it, but I just wanted to make sure you weren’t blaming yourself.” Watching Ally walk into the office and take a seat in one of the chairs, Halston shakes her head looking at the ceiling. “I shouldn’t be alive right now… He shouldn’t be dead” Halston says, only being cut off by Ally, refusing to sympathize with her line of thinking. “Yeah, but you’re not dead. Wyatt’s dead and there’s no changing that, so let’s not waste time wishing the roles were reversed when we can get things that mean something done instead.”
Caught off guard by the response, Halston peers at Ally with resentment. “And what did you do when you thought Lou was dead?” Halston asks, watching the smile spread across Ally’s face the moment the question is asked. “I took my anger out on the one’s I thought caused it. I cleared out a portion of the crowd and made my way to the generators… Lou beat me to them.”
“So, should I go head into the gym and start taking heads?” Halston asks, challenging Ally to meet her in the same position. “It wouldn’t be smart, but neither was what I did… So I can’t sit here and tell you not to without being a hypocrite.”
Still not having heard a response she likes, Halston ends the bickering and lays herself back down. “Look, what happened was tragic… But it’s not going to end until this is all over. So, until then… Let’s try to hold it off as long as we can, okay?” Ally says, standing from her seat and patting Halston on the shoulder before leaving, but not before walking by Jenn as she enters the office.
“Hey” Halston says, less enthusiastic, but without the content her voice directed towards Ally. “Would you be missing anything by chance?” Jenn asks, watching Halston look towards her with confusion. Without being able to respond, Halston watches Jenn pull her bra out from behind her back, looking at both it and the woman in front of her with worry. “You fucked my boyfriend?” Jenn asks, her voice lacking the anger the kind of statement would usually hold, instead speaking as if she was poking fun at her.
“Jenn, I’m so sorry… I-” Halston begins, only for Jenn to nonchalantly throw the woman’s bra back to her and take Ally’s newly-vacated seat. “Don’t bother apologizing, I knew what I signed up for with him” Jenn says, kicking her feet up onto the table to Halston’s surprise. “You’re not mad?” Halston asks, watching Jenn shake her head. “I’m disappointed in you, but I’m mad at myself” Jenn says, pulling her hair into a ponytail. “Wyatt was a great guy… Honestly! He was… But he never knew how to be committed to anything. I’ve been trying to convince myself that it wasn’t who he really was for so long… But I’ve gotta come to grips with the fact that I was hoping for a long shot.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you” Halston says, fumbling over her words in a way to give her statement sense, only for Jenn to continue. “I- I know you didn’t, Halston. I know that. I’m not saying that if I was caught in a life or death situation, my greatest feeling would be ‘horny’, but I can’t expect anyone to be thinking straight when they don’t expect to survive what they’re in.”
Confused at the lack of hatred in Jenn, Halston remains silent in hopes of not giving Jenn any reason to hate her for what she did. “Did he-” Jenn begins, choking up before she can fully ask as Halston sits up and leans closer to Jenn, watching the tears form again. “Fuck” Jenn exclaims, wiping away the tears with the sleeve of her sweater before Halston hands her a box of tissues. “Nevermind” Jenn says, wiping away the tears as Halston promises her she can ask whatever she wants.
“No” Jenn says, stopping the tears from falling, and handing Halston the tissues back. “I’d rather not know” Jenn says, nodding to Halston before getting up and walking for the door. “Just don’t fuck any of my future boyfriends, okay? Jenn asks, the joking manner in her voice being dulled out from the pain in her voice. “Of- Of course!” Halston replies, her assurance being enough for Jenn to walk away, leaving a confused Halston alone once more, questioning to herself what exactly just happened.
Walking into the cafeteria one at a time, the group scatters to different tables to take a seat as Lou stands at the center of the room. Looking out at the different expressions lining the room, some filled with sadness, others filled with content, more filled with worry and one, Vinny’s, as blank as a check. “It’s been rough” Lou says, watching the eyes in the crowd filled with grief and hurt as they line their sights with the man. “None of us know what’s going to happen or when this’ll all be over. But the buses cleared out yesterday afternoon and not a single parent has shown up to take someone home, so there’s no one left for us to depend on. And if we’re being honest, we don’t even know how bad the rest of the city is.”
Stopping, Lou stands in silence as the group watches on, playing whatever he can dream up inside his head as everyone stares at him, waiting for a follow-up. “Lou?” Ally calls, snapping him back into the moment as his eyes meet hers. “We know nothing, and that’s not likely to change” Lou says, walking over to the windows and aiming his hand out towards the lawn. “We’re holed in a school so far away from downtown that most people in the city don’t even know this place exists, and that’s not going to change just because shit hits the fan. So let’s start admitting to ourselves that this is the only thing we’re sure of. Us and this place, that’s it.”
His tone becoming more commanding, Lou begins taking charge with his hand still furiously aimed at the outside as the sun finally falls below the hills the rest of the way. “This could be a virus, this could be an illness, this could be a spectacle that we’ve got no control over because here’s what we know… We’re going to need food, we’re going to need clean water, we’re going to need whatever we can find to defend ourselves, and we’re going to need to figure out what the hell is going on. We can think of ourselves as zombie-slaying badasses all we fucking please, but the truth is, we’re all scared and worried that the end-of-days people talked about for so long is actually here.”
Walking to the back of the room, Lou pulls up a plastic chair and drags it to the center of the room, setting it in the middle of the two rows of tables and sits facing it’s back, leaning on the neck of the chair in solidarity with the remaining survivors. “I told you earlier that the people and the place around you is all we have left, and we’ve already lost three in just the past day. We look out for each other before anyone else now, and that doesn’t change regardless. We all fight for each other and we all do what we can to make sure everyone is safe, and I know that I’d go down swinging if it meant getting everyone one of you to safety… Because THAT is more important to me than living a life that someone else deserves more.”
Saying that, Lou notices Vinny’s attention swept towards him, the conflicted survivor seeming to look determined for the first time since everything began, locking onto Lou’s every word. “So here’s what we all need to do. We need to get every gas cannister we can find and fill them with all the gasoline we can get before the well runs dry out there. We need to hit every store in the next few miles that we can for anything that will help us… Food with more protein than a bag of Doritos, weapons that aren’t ammo-less guns and spare metal spikes, and information on what is happening and how to get ahead of it. Until then, this place is safe as long as we keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary. If we need to go in the dead of night, let’s always be ready to get moving. If we get overrun by something, the horde escapes or a new one comes around, let’s get ready to move and evade. Any threat comes our way, let’s make sure we keep each other out of their reach, regardless of what comes for us… We can survive here, and we can defend this pl-”
As he attempt to finish his throat, the sounds of a door opening in the main foyer and quick footsteps dashing through he hallways alerts the group like a blast in an echo-chamber, prompting everyone to grab their closest defense and hurry in it’s direction. Down there!” Lou calls for the group, leading them in the direction of the freshman hallway, where they catch the brief figures dancing around the corner further into the building.
“Go go go!” Lou calls, racing through the halls with his metal spike in hand, held beside his head and ready to strike. The air ripping through his hair as it crashes beside his ears, sending the fluttering sounds of wind bellowing throughout his head, Lou and the group turn the corner and stop dead in their tracks. “Stop! Not another move!” a woman shouts, a rifle drawn directly at Lou with two teenage kids behind her, themselves armed with kitchen knives. “Don’t make me shoot” the woman demands again, prompting Lou to place his hands into the air, dropping the spike to the ground as the survivors behind him reluctantly do the same.