“Everything you own on the ground, now!” the woman demands, waving the gun towards the overpowered group, who slowly lower their weapons and remove everything they have from their pockets, dropping them to the ground. Hiding his fury beneath a face of complete cooperation, Lou stares the woman down, his glare being noticed enough for the woman to smirk and raise the gun from his chest to his head. “What’s the look for?” the woman asks, watching the man with his hands still as water in the air. “You’re going to regret what you’re doing here” Lou replies, taking one of his free hands and flipping her off with it.
“Back up!” the nearly-40 year old woman demands, pushing the group back as her children pick everything other than the fire axe up and place it into bags they carry over their shoulder. “All of you, get in there” the woman orders, this time more calmly than before, directing the group towards the lecture room. “Why?” Lou asks, only for the harsh demand to be repeated, offering the group no further choice.
Following Lou’s lead, the group slowly walks towards the room and walks down into the center of the spacious area before the woman shuts and locks the door, barricading it with brick between the handles. “If I see you anywhere other than in here, I’ll shoot you on sight, got it?” the woman asks, waiting for a reply from inside as Lou slowly marches up the steps and to the opposite side of the door. “We’re not gonna give you the chance” Lou replies, whispering through the cracks towards the barely-visible outline of the woman’s ear.
After a second of silence, the woman fires one round through the top of the door, forcing the survivors to duck for cover before she and her children run off, leaving the group to fend for themselves. “What the hell just happened?” Terry asks, watching Lou turn to find the group looking to him for direction, awaiting his reply. “They just stole our shit and ran off” Jules replies, attempting to continue until Lou puts his hand out and signals for him to stop. “I’m gonna take that more as a dare to find a way out.”
“What are you talking about, Lou? She could’ve blown your fuckin’ head off” Jenn retorts, watching the man smile and laugh to himself before walking down the stairs and taking a seat at the teacher’s desk as the puzzled survivors look on. “If she wanted to kill us, she would’ve done it when she had the chance. She wanted to leave us alive” Lou replies, sifting through the cabinets of the desk in a random search effort. “Why would she leave us alive? We just got jumped before we even knew what to do” Terry says, walking to the desk and confronting Lou, who ignores him and continues his pointless search.
“LOU!” Terry shouts, slamming his fist on the metal surface as Lou immediately leaps from his seat and gets in Terry’s face, refusing to break eye contact as Terry’s entire mood changes, as he surrenders the position to Lou, backing up and rejoining the rest of the group. “We’re two days into the chaos, that’s not enough to drain a middle-class mom to murder. She wanted the building, not us… She didn’t have it in here to kill. She’s hoping that we’ll do that ourselves by leaving us down here, so we’re not going to let that happen.”
“If she’s crazy enough to drive us into isolation, she’s crazy enough to kill if she needs to” Ally responds, only for Lou to shake his head and visually refuse the notion. “Did any of you see an extra clip on her? Anything to say she’s planning on running out of ammo? Those little kiddy backpacks her kid’s have don’t have any strength to carry that kind of weight. She’s not looking to fire and she doesn’t want to get one.”
“Hold up!” Jules says, waving his hand towards Lou, “What’re you getting at? You said she was challenging us to get out, why wouldn’t she fire if we succeeded?”
Lou shakes his head, rolling his eyes and walking in front of the desk. “Follow me very closely” Lou says, holding his hands out and speaking with them as he continues, “She wants us to get out, but that doesn’t mean she wants us to get out ourselves. She shot one bullet from an automatic rifle than can fire in bursts, she’s not trying to make us afraid, she wants us to take her seriously. She wants us to get her to let us out because she wants to know her family will be safe around us. If we can convince her of that, we’ll be let out.”
“We’ve just got to get her to trust us” Ally guesses, watching her boyfriend point towards her with a snap, “Bingo!” Lou replies, watching the group slowly grow convinced, looking towards each other for assurance from the others. “Let’s make some friends, you guys” Lou says, earning the agreeance of everyone in the room as the older-looking classroom finds its inhabitants learning a more modern approach for a change.
= 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 =
Having scattered around the room, Lou’s group paces around the room, sits in their seats looking around, or sitting by the door awaiting any potential sign of life from the other side. Beside the door sits Lou, Jenn, and Ally just talking to each other to pass the time. “What happens if the school falls?” Jenn asks, only to be met with denial from Ally. “I’m serious. What happens if something comes along that keeps us from living here anymore?” Jenn reiterates, looking to Lou for an answer, finding the man struggling to come up with any.
“What did Wyatt say you were gonna do? I heard he wanted to leave before it was too late” Lou asks, looking towards Jenn, who shakes off a sudden moment of sadness before answering like nothing was out of the ordinary. “He just wanted to drive into the city. Figure out what was going on down there and find out if there worth staying for.”
“He wanted to go into the city? The dead must be crawling all over that place by now” Loou says, only for Ally to correct him. “Not a whole of dead yet… I read about a ton of riots down there before my phone died, probably more of that than the dead.”
“Either way, that was his plan. I don’t really have a better one” Jenn says, fiddling around with her thumbs as Lou leans his head against the wall. “Wyatt and I watched the lights go out over downtown last night” Halston says, walking up to the trio and taking a seat near the middle. “Everything went dark, it didn’t look like much had changed from outside after the sun went down, so the riots have probably turned sour by now.”
“We’ve got to start preparing for what comes next, Lou” Terry says from within the room, staring at the chalkboard from his seat without switching his sight. “If this crazy bitch can just stumble onto this place, who knows what else will.” Still pacing in the middle of the room, Jules looks towards Terry and acknowledges his point. “I know we’ve got a ton of rooms, but we’ve got a lot less space than we think… Especially with that horde in the gym.”
“He’s right” Vinny says, sitting atop the desk and dangling his feet over the edge. “We can play nice until the space runs out. Even then, we’ve got two main problems. Either someone comes along and overthrows us for this place, or we let one of the sick inside and all start falling like dominos.”
“Well, we’ve got all these concerns, but we’re not coming up with any answers. Someone will come along and try to take whatever they want no matter where we go, at least we know we have electricity and running water here” Lou reminds everyone, only for Jenn to immediately fight the point made. “How long until we run out of fuel to keep it running?”
“I mean, we know it’s not fair to ask you to fix everything and not try, Lou… But we’ve got nothing more than this, and we’re already about to lose it two days in” Jules says, walking up the stairs and taking a seat atop one of the desks. “We know something’s not right, that’s obvious. No one came to pick up their kids, the busses left without coming to the door, the entire power grid’s gone down, and whatever news we got before the phones died didn’t look good. We can’t pretend like this place is a fucking safe haven anymore, Lou.”
Before John can respond, Jenn adds in with her head tucked towards the ground, “Especially when we’re being held prisoner in it.”
With the warm yellow light infiltrating the room from the thin light tubes in each corner of the room, Lou looks on and turns his focus to the harsh white light coming from beneath the door as he plays out their options in his head before a voice originates from beyond the room.
“Everything’s dead” a girl’s voice calls out, earning the attention from everyone as they all cram near the door. “What do you mean by ‘everything’s dead’?” Lou asks, speaking as calmly as he can despite the hours spent waiting for any response having drained most of the energy from him. “Everything. They’re zombies, they’re everywhere” the girl says, her words indicating a refusal to say anything other than the most forward response.
“Who are you?” Vinny asks, his voice remaining the most unchanged from the group, still lacking the sound of emotion but remaining focused on the major goal at hand. “I’m Charli. My mom’s name is Monica, and my brother’s Greg. We didn’t really expect you guys to be here, we just thought it’d be more of the dead.”
“Charli?” Ally calls, “How’d you guys figure out this was all happening?”
After a pause, Charli takes a noticeable breath and takes an audible seat beside the door. “We were waiting for dad to come home when we started hearing the riots. They were all over the news, people just went nuts. It was chaos.”
For a moment, Charli takes a second to breathe, trying to regain her composure to not think about it. “Cops were executing people in the streets until they all started shooting back. Some came back and others didn’t, but it was all a blood bath before we could figure out anything.” Clearly shaken just recalling the events, Charli gathers her thoughts as the group remains silent on the other side, offering her whatever time she needs. “My mom spent the whole day packing and waiting for dad, but he never showed up. So we started for Tuscon this morning, saw the lights on here and figured we’d stop and get what we need.”
“What are you gonna do with us when you’re gone?” Halston asks, catching the attention of the group for a moment by the gravity of the question alone. “She told us to take the board out from the gym doors so you won’t get to follow us if you get out” Charli says, earning a face palm from the group inside despite not realizing it. Suddenly, from within the school, the echoing of Charli’s name being called captures the attention of everyone, swiftly forcing Charli to apologize for what they’re doing out of guilt before disappearing into the building as the group’s entire demeanor changes.
“So much for playing nice with them, Lou. What the fuck are gonna do now?” Terry asks, only to be pat on the back by Vinny, who directs Terry away from the group to settle down. “Alright, I’ll admit that I didn’t see this coming. But if we want the dead to stay in that gym and not get shot doing so, we still have to play nice… We just need to change the approach a little bit.”
“How do we do that? We force the door open and the crash is gonna be enough to turn us into duck hunt” Jules says, watching Lou’s eyes dash around the room as if he were following a fly zipping through the air. “Halston, still have your gun?” Lou asks, jumping to his feet and rushing for the bottom of the stairs. “Yeah, but I’m out of bullets” Halston replies, watching Lou drag the desk from the center of the room to the top of the stairs, one foot at a time. “That’s fine, just don’t let her know that” Lou replies, pushing the desk onto its side and making it center with the door.
“What the hell’s that, mom?” Greg asks, the sound of metal crashing into heavy wood rings throughout the school and alerts the scavenging family towards the back. “What’s going on?” Charli asks, appearing from one of the classrooms and following the rest of her family, watching her mother draw the rifle forwards and aim at whatever moves out of place. Slowing down as they approach the end of the hallway, Monica turns the corner and watches the door periodically protrude outwards as the brick between the handles begins to crack and brittle.
“Stay behind me, kids” Monica orders, turning to come face-to-face with the door, watching as the slamming continues to escalate, growing more violent with each passing second before the brick finally splits, and bits of the block fall to the ground in chips as the heavy desk gets shoved forward, erupting through the doors like a bat out of hell and closing in on Monica, who shoves herself and her kids out of the way as it flies into the lockers, and stumbles to the ground.
Quickly pushing herself to her feet and taking aim, she watches Lou grab her son by the neck and pull him in front of him, holding Halston’s revolver to his head and telling Monica than anything fired will result in a ‘two-for-one special.’
“Let him go!” Monica orders, only for Lou to flip her off and tell her to drop the gun and kick it towards the group as she watches in horror. “NOW!” Lou demands, forcing the woman’s hand as she removes the gun and shoves it over to a patiently-waiting Halston. Once in possession of the gun, Ally and Vinny rush over to Greg and Charli respectively and remove their bags before returning to Lou’s side. “Let him go!” Monica shouts again, the desperation in her voice more noticeable now as she grows close to tears.
“Here’s how this is going to work” Lou says, slowly pulling the gun away from Greg’s head as he makes his commands clear. “I’m going to walk your son over to you, and you are going to walk with your hands in the air, not moving them for even a second, to the cafeteria at the end of that hallway, do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, fine! Just give me my son!” Monica shouts, holding her hand out to Greg as Lou slowly allows him to take it, reuniting him with his mother as Halston and the group hold the family at gunpoint and direct them down the corridor.
Sat beside each other, shoulder to shoulder with their hands laid flat atop the table, Monica and her children look on at Lou as he holds Halston’s revolver in his hand and holds the barrel in Monica’s direction. Silent and waiting anxiously for the first words to be uttered, Monica watches the man before her stare a hole through her without sign of over what he might have to do. Taking his eyes away from the woman for the moment, Lou looks towards Vinny and watches the man walk up to the family, handing them an assortment of packaged fruits and vegetables with a plastic fork.
“Are you gonna poison us now?” Monica asks, the mixture of fear and distress speaking volumes to the man as he stares her in the eyes, his expression baring the cold of winter. “If I was going to kill you, I would have done it back there in the hallway” Lou replies, his words carrying the weight of a man looking to keep his people safe at all costs. Reading Lou as best she can, Monica pieces together the little information she has on him, trying to figure out what his motives are to very little effect.
“Why do you care about this place so much?” Monica asks, looking around the room at the survivors surrounding her, their weapons ready if necessary, “Shouldn’t you kids hate school?” Before long, Monica begins thinking over her words, picking them apart before turning her focus back to Lou. “God, you’re just kids!” Monica says, only for Lou to immediately shut any further resolutions down with one of his own, “And yet, you tried to kill us.”
“Family comes first” Monica replies, watching Lou look towards the people surrounding him, watching their faces covered with natural concern, but still ready to do what surviving requires. “Look around you, Monica” Lou says, holding one of his hands out and panning it around the room, locking her eyes onto each individual she had locked away, ready to leave for dead. “We’ve got no families coming for us, no safety on the horizon. We’re all that we have left, so what do you think that makes us, if not ‘family’?”
Listening to the man, Monica drops her head to the ground as her hands stay put atop the table, putting the shoe on the other foot. “You walked into what is forced to be our home, locked us away and were ready to leave us for dead just to take our shit and leave. Don’t give me the ‘family comes first’ bullshit, there’s no morality in what you did… Only destruction for the sake of destruction. You’re no better than the dead fuckers that brought the world down!”
Before Monica can respond, her son begins to raise his tone, shouting at Lou as the man opposite him turns towards him, amused by the idea that the kid believes his voice carries weight. “It wasn’t the dead that brought the world down, it was all of us! They just started it!” Greg shouts, pulling a smile out of Lou, intrigued. “We haven’t left this building since the shit hit the fan, kid. We had no part in what happened out there, and according to your sister, we’re the only ones you tried to bring down with you. It wasn’t all of us, it was people like you.”
“Face it, Monica” Lou says, turning back towards the woman, helpless to stop her son from continuing to talk, as any physical effort would elicit a riot from the people with the power to do something about it. “No, you look at me!” Greg shouts, pulling Lou’s eyes back onto him again, watching the leader of the group, more on edge than he typically tends to be, dart his eyes to him without missing a beat. “You said it was people like me, so if you want to cut someone down, you can cut me down” Greg says, the second half of his statement bringing him to his feet and bringing the weapons into play.
Hand outwards, Lou signals for the group to lower their weapons, rising to his feet to meet Greg just over the table. “Fine, Gregory… I’ll do that. I’ll tell you just how much I hate that you’re the same kind of person you blame the world coming unglued on. And I’ll tell you just how necessary it is for people like you to be put down before you get the chance to burn everything left standing.”
Lifting one hand off the table, Greg taps Lou’s arm and replies, “Do it!”, daring Lou to pull the gun on him. With a smirk and without a chance to react, Lou lifts his hand and puts the gun straight to Greg’s forehead, only to be surprised by Greg doing the same thing, holding a small handgun of his own to Lou’s forehead. With the smirk of telling someone to eat shit, Greg looks at Lou and asks, “What’re you gonna do now, big boy?” challenging the man to take part in his bloody game of human chess.
Lifting his eyebrow, Lou takes his free hand and grabs Greg’s elbow before burying his thumb downwards, sending the gun off as it flies upwards and places a bullet through the ceiling. Without offering a chance to respond, Lou takes his gun and smacks Greg’s out of his hand, sending it across the room before putting his own back to Greg’s head and reciprocating the same grin.
“Your move” Lou responds, watching Greg look down both Lou himself and the gun to his head before slowly taking a seat in a moment of fear, leaning up against his mom. Hurrying over, Ally grabs the gun off the ground and finds a nearly-full magazine. “Check the girl!” Ally orders, watching Jenn walk up to the daughter with her axe readied before Charli puts her hands into the air and slowly retrieves the same model gun from her boot, cautiously handing it over to a surprised Jenn.
“That was dumb, Greg” Charli says, only to be shouted at by the man more hidden behind his mother than visible by Lou. “You’re an idiot, Charli. Why would you give them the gun?” Greg asks, only for Terry to respond on Charli’s behalf. “She doesn’t want to get her family killed like your dumbass” the man replies, helping Jenn figure out how to check the magazine. “Well-” Greg attempts to reply, only for Lou to shout “Shut up!” at Greg, causing him to jump and hide further behind his mother.
“Look at your pussy ass, hiding behind mommy while your big sister sits there like a fuckin’ champ!” Terry jokes, only to be intrigued when Charli corrects him by simply saying, “Younger.”
“OH!” Terry says, walking over to Greg and ordering for him to get up and move to another seat, separate from his family. “So it’s your younger sister making you look like a pussy!” Terry exclaims, bringing a moment of humor to Lou’s survivors in different levels as he sits Greg beside Vinny, who stares him down with a look of hatred for life itself, causing Greg to bury his head in his arms.
“I don’t know what you want me to say!” Monica shouts, catching the group’s focus, and specifically earning Lou’s attention. “I can apologize to you for everything over and over again, but maybe that’s not what you want. Maybe there’s nothing I can give you, just tell me what you want and I’ll go and be out of your hair!”
Thinking it over for a moment, Lou looks towards the group around him and takes a second to look back towards Monica, her genuine desperation leaving little doubt of her true motives laying on in her words like a heart would lay upon a sleeve.
“In here” Lou says, leading the way of the trio and standing beside an open door to one of the few classrooms in the basement without windows. Followed by firearm holding Halston and Vinny, and axe-wielding Jenn, the family looks into the classroom and walks inside, finding small cot-like beds set up near the back. “We’ll feed you three times a day, have someone stationed outside your door for any requests including using the bathroom or needing medicine, and have a few gallons of water taken down for you every other day until we figure out what to do with you” Lou says, walking inside after the family, staring around the room.
“So we’ll be here until you kill us” Monica says, looking forward as she does, and only turning to face Lou after the question has been asked. “Give us a reason to believe you won’t be a danger to us, and we won’t have to” Lou replies, watching the woman wipe a lone tear away from her face and nod in compliance. “Okay” a defeated Monica replies, taking the containers of fruits and vegetables from Vinny before placing them atop one of the many desks scattered around the room.
“Get some rest, we’ll be down here at sunrise” Lou replies, walking for the door and leaving through it, closing and locking it behind him. Beside him on the floor is the pane of glass removed from the door itself, allowing a narrow opening between the Avant family and the free world. As he walks off, leaving Vinny behind to guard the family, Jenn walks up to him and tries to pull him aside to talk.
“Yes?” Lou asks, joining Jenn in one of the classrooms as she shuts the door behind them. “Are we actually going to kill them?” Jenn asks, her concern being unmistakable from everything between her voice and her posture. “I haven’t decided yet… Obviously…” Lou replies, watching Jenn nod off the sarcasm. “Lou, I know you think this is what’s best, but-” Jenn starts, only for Lou to cut her off, curious as to her meaning. “Do you not think this is what’s best?” the man asks, watching the woman shake her head slowly, weighing the options. “I don’t know, Lou. I don’t know what options we even really fucking have right now, but I know it wouldn’t be the easiest thing in the world” Jenn replies, watching Lou look away from her.
“I’m just saying that killing an actual person isn’t the same as putting down one of the dead… It may not feel like it, but that’s the truth, and I don’t want you to start thinking of it any differently” Jenn concludes, watching Lou look up to her again and nod in agreement. “I know, that’s why I’m not big on the idea of it either” Lou replies, walking to the back of the room and looking through the window just barely above the ground. “But if this world is gonna carry on the way it has, we’re gonna have to get used to this kind of thing” the man responds, leaning against the counter and looking towards a reluctantly accepting Jenn.
“We need to remember that she would have left us for dead if we didn’t stop her, so if the shoe is on the other foot, we need to be ready to deliver justice if necessary” Lou concludes, walking over to Jenn and putting his hand on her shoulder, with his other caressing her cheek. “I know this shit ain’t great, but we’ve got to do things we don’t like having to do sometimes to remain alive. I don’t want to start killing people out of habit, but when people need to be put down, we need to do what’s necessary.”
Nodding with her head turned away from Lou, Jenn tucks her head into his chest as he hugs her and tells her that everything will work out the way that it’s meant to. “This shit sucks, but we’re all stronger than it… Let’s not start losing that, okay?” Lou asks, feeling Jenn continue to nod as her hair brushes up and down his chest. Breaking the embrace, Lou pats Jenn on the shoulder before walking for and exiting the door, leaving Jenn behind.
Once alone, Jenn pulls a sleek, metal block from her pocket and lifts the lid to it, striking a flame that illuminates the dark room she’s in, staring into the still flame as the lack of air circulating through the room allows it to stand up straight. After a moment of blinding herself with the light, Jenn nods and flips the lid back over to kill the flame, descending into the darkness again.
“Yo, Lou” Terry calls, catching up to the man as he returns to his quarters. “What’s up, Terry?” Lou asks, looking down through the revolving chamber of Halston’s pistol as Terry goes on. “I just wanted to say ‘sorry’ for getting’ out of hand earlier” Terry replies, catching Lou’s glance out of the corner of his eye. “You thought you were gonna die in the place were were sitting, I don’t blame you for being pissed off” Lou replies, nudging his arm with his elbow in a friendly manner.
“So, if I ask you a question, you know it’s not just because I’m heated about it, right?” Terry asks, prompting Lou to stop in the middle of the hallway, looking towards Terry with assurance. “Of course, what’s up?” Lou asks, watching Terry nervously rub the back of his head. “Why are you the group’s leader, if you don’t mind me asking?” Watching Lou tilt his head and think to himself, Terry reitreates. “It’s not like I’ve got a problem with it, I just know that there’s something you’ve got that we don’t.”
“Do you mind if I ask why you’re curious about it?” Lou responds, watching Terry look away in an effort to put aside harder feelings that resonate with him strongly. “I just can’t stop thinking about what it was like after you went down. We all just… watched it happen. No one knew what to do, or where to go. We just froze.”
“I’d like to think someone would know what to do eventually” Lou says, immediately being shot down by Terry, shaking his head in denial. “I didn’t like Wyatt’s plan to leave, but he was the only one to speak up. Now he’s gone, and I don’t think anyone else would take charge if they had to” Terry says, looking behind Lou to watch Halston briefly pass by at the end of the hall. “I just don’t want to worry about us becoming sitting ducks like that, y’know?”
Nodding, Lou thinks it all over for a second before looking to Terry as he eagerly waits a response. “I think I was the only one to make the decisions no one knew how to make yet” Lou replies, staring away from Terry as he continues doing the mental math in his head. “I’d like to think that I’ll make it long enough for those decisions to be made more easily by everyone else. Like you won’t have to depend on me to be the only voice in the room.”
“What if you don’t?” Terry asks, genuinely concerned that the best outcome relies on Lou not falling into the level of trouble he’s already fallen into. “Well, if I don’t mak it long enough…” Lou begins, looking up to Terry and nodding to himself, “... Then the person that deserves to be the leader the most will stand up and start taking my place.”
Patting Terry on the shoulder and walking off, Lou retires to his quarters as Terry walks away in the direction of his own, walking past a room with a door wide open and out of sight. Barely any light from the moonlight above, the room remains almost invisible to people passing by, as barely enough light slips in from the hallway, leaving the inners a baron black. Suddenly, appearing through the dark interior is a small blade, with light reflecting off its surface from the hallway light above before the lights go out, and the blade plunges into darkness once more.