Season 1 Finale
Laid in her makeshift bed, Tessa feels her body lightly being jostled by a warm pair of hands, whispering her name to gently awaken her. Despite the room being mostly coated in the dark and her eyes struggling to stay open for more than a second at a time, Tessa recognizes Natalie’s voice and asks what’s going on. “Charlie’s missing” Natalie whispers, the words being enough for Tessa to stop stretching and begin trying to wake up as quickly as she can.
“Missing in what way?” Tessa asks, hoisting herself to her feet and following Natalie to Charlie’s empty sleeping bag. “I woke up and realized he wasn’t in bed like everyone else” Natalie replies, “I have no idea where he is.” Thinking over her options, Tessa nods and walks over to Rick, waking him up as there is something urgent to get to. “Natalie, I need you to stay here and let the others know what’s going on when they wake up, alright?”
“What is going on?” Natalie asks, the latter request falling short, “do you know where Charlie is?” Handing Rick his bag and a rifle, Tessa tells Natalie that she has an idea of where he could be. “He was pretty sick last night and he said he was making a trip to that platformed you guys climbed to for medicine” Tessa replies, “he’s probably still down there.” Her eyes shifting, Natalie cocks her head back and shakes it in disagreement.
“There wasn’t any medicine in there” Natalie responds, “just an empty crawl space with a bunch of blankets and towels.” Concerned at this new revelation, Tessa chooses to look on the brightest side available, suggesting he just went up there and fell asleep. “He’s probably still in there” Tessa says, “we’ll go over and bring him back.” Throwing on their heaviest coats, Rick and Tessa make off for the tunnels and instruct Natalie to keep the group in the house.
“So he was burning up with a fever and you just let him roam through this place alone?” Rick asks, Tessa replying that there wasn’t much else she could do. “He’s a stubborn bastard, he won’t listen to people when they tell him not to do something” Tessa admits, “even if I told him not to go, he wouldn’t have listen to me.” Knowing Charlie to be as stubborn as Tessa tells of him to be, Rick finds himself unable to side with Tessa, believing that she had some responsibility.
“If it were me, I know I would have gone with him” Rick replies, “even if he wasn’t sick… I wouldn’t want anyone wandering down here alone with what we know is around here.” Hanging her head, already feeling bad enough for having allowed Charlie to travel alone, Tessa pushes her worry aside in favor of being hopeful that there can be a resolution found.
“Just up ahead” Rick says, calling out the ladder and shouting Charlie’s name. “We’re gonna have to go up there” Tessa says, handing Rick her flashlight before beginning to climb up. Once at the top, Tessa catches her flashlight from Rick, who holds his in his teeth as he joins her above, looking through the cramped crawl space littered with everything from blankets to decade-old mattresses sprawled out with reckless abandon.
Covering his nose, Rick struggles to keep from the wretched stench festering in the small spot whilst Tessa struggles to keep from throwing up. “There’s something seriously wrong if he chose to take a fuckin’ nap here” Rick says, continuing their journey to get this experience over as fast as he can. Using a ruler to knock away cobwebs or any other element standing between them and their destination, Rick peers around corners to find more of what he’d already been seeing.
“This is disgusting” Tessa says, no longer able to hold her stomach at bay any longer, throwing up on a moldy, balled-up blue towel. “Head back down” Rick directs, telling Tessa to leave the rest to him whilst she takes a breather. Doing as directed, Tessa thanks Rick and heads for the exit, leaving the elder man to navigate the horribly degrading space on his lonesome, still finding no traces of Charlie.
At the very last second, Rick spots something drawn on the walls at the very back of the narrow slot. Taking interest in what it has to offer, the man braces the smell and leans in, shining his flashlight over a weird pattern of sorts, almost like a map. Arrows pointing in two directions, an abundance of lines are paired with numbers seemingly drawn at random. Taking one final glance at the artwork, the man spots a circle with one large ‘Y’ in the middle, nodding at the sight of it.
“Nothing” Rick says, climbing back into the tunnels and staring down either remaining direction. “Where could he be?” Tessa asks aloud, “it’s not like we found anything special down here.” Choosing not to gloss over the idea of other points of interest in the tunnels, Rick responds with the fact that Charlie may have found something that caught his eye. “We’re just gonna have to keep looking” Rick concludes, staring off into the darkest depths of the tunnel yet to be explored.
= Neptune City is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
“I’m ready for this whole thing to be over” Rena says, the smile on Marlhy’s face as she packs her bag serving as the symbol of shared hope. “What’re you gonna do when you get back home?” Marlhy asks, setting up the ball for Rena to do as she pleases with it. “I don’t know” the girl replies, not having given the idea of returning home without the cash prize much thought.
“I didn’t really get that far in my planning” Rena replies, admitting that she hopes to just be able to move on and start something new. “Maybe anchoring the news” Rena replies, the suggested course of action being vastly different from her previous life of dancing for tips. “Well I look forward to you telling me all about how shitty my little town is” Marlhy replies, zipping up her bag as Rena provides her best anchor impression.
“Just don’t touch the weather report” Michael jokes from the back of the room, “the last thing we need is you guiding us into a thunderstorm because it was supposed to be a sunny day.” Rolling her eyes, Rena asks Michael if he’d truly prefer the Barrow weather to a thunderstorm, which forces him to wave the white flag. “I’ll give you that one” Michael responds, “but only on the grounds that it’s better than being shot at by cannibals.”
“Speaking of which” Austin says, lacing up his rubber boots in preparation, “what happens if we run into those fuckers again?” Looking around the room, the group waits for the first suggestion, which ultimately comes from Rena.
“We’ve got their guns and a swimming pool’s load of snow to bury ourselves in” Rena begins, the confidence not exactly shooting through the roof. “We survived once working with what we had” the girl confidently proclaims, “we’ll do it again if we have to.”
“We got lucky the last time around” Austin counters, “we shouldn’t be confident that we’ll get away with some kind of plot-armor a second time because we lived through the first.” Tilting her head, Rena becomes consumed by an interest in what caused Austin to take such a turn personality wise.
“You put Mike over your shoulder and carried him away from dying multiple times” Rena sets up, asking “why’re you so pessimistic all of a sudden?” Pulling his laces with force, Austin smirks at Rena, telling her that he is surrounded by a group of people that can’t appreciate how good they have it. “Tell me this isn’t about you not getting your way” Rena requests, Austin accepting it by responding with certainty that it is, indeed, deeper than that.
“How can you not see what we’ve got right in front of us?” Austin asks, his voice growing harsher as the annoyance of abandoning what he perceives as a massive win continues to mount on him. “We’ve got a building, food, water, shelter and a fucking radio!” Austin shouts, his arms flying outwards in anger as nearly everything he mentions is guaranteed here in a way that it isn’t at the town.
“All we need to get the hell out of here is electricity, which shouldn’t be that hard to figure out!” Austin proclaims, “but instead, you all wanna go hiking and leave this behind because you saw something pretty!” With that, Austin stands up and begins packing the little he chooses to carry with him on the venture. “We’re in the middle of the arctic tundra in the farthest place from civilization in the entire country, how is anything supposed to come easy for us?” Rena asks.
Waving her off as another voice without value, Austin replies that they have something guaranteed here that isn’t guaranteed down there. “You may look at me like I’m pissed off at ‘not getting my way’, but there is nothing down there that we don’t have in here” Austin replies, the vitriol showing in his voice the longer it speaks. “The food may be stale, the water may not be endless, but it’s more than what’s down there.”
Choosing that line to walk off on, Austin leaves the cabin and aims for the gate as the remainder of the group finish their packing. “Nothing?” Michael asks, looking towards Rena, catching her attention like a fly in a web. “What do you want me to say, Mike?” Rena asks, finishing up with her bag as Michael requests any counter argument to hopefully solidify their hope in this journey into the unknown.
“Second guessing yourself?” Rena asks, beginning to grow annoyed with the aiming of concern or fault in her direction. “Not at all” Michael replies, “he’s just got a few good points.” Strapping her bag over her shoulder, Rena walks for the front door and passes by Michael replying, “everyone’s got a few good points.” Buttoning up his coat, Michael calls out to rena, asking “what’re our points then?”
Stopping at the sound of the question as her hand is on the handle, Rena glances over her shoulder in Michael’s direction before pulling the door open and exiting the cabin. Looking across the room from him, Michael lifts his eyebrows at Marlhy, who stares at him with the same well-masked look of worry at what their decision will result in. Shrugging at him, Marlhy pulls her bag over her shoulder and walks for the front door, leaving Michael to an empty living room to finish up.
“And you just let him?” Warren asks, his aggravation at Tessa’s oversight showing it’s colors with every word. “Why the fuck would you do that?” Natalie asks, her curiosity taking a much less aggravated stance than Warren’s. “I wasn’t thinking!” Tessa replies, “I kept waking up, my mind wouldn’t stop running and Charlie even being sick caught me off guard. It all happened so quickly!”
“Even then, you didn’t think about a sick guy going down into the tunnels in the middle of the night even once?” Warren asks, the answer of ‘no’ from Tessa only further driving him crazy. Choosing to stop while he’s ahead, Warren throws his hands up and takes himself out of the equation, his place being taken by a calmer, less finger-pointing Harper, who’s finally recovered enough to sit up and hold a conversation.
“None of these questions solve the issue we’ve got on our hands” Harper says, “what we need to start doing is figuring out where he went so we can go get him.” Pointing out that they have yet to explore most of the tunnels, Rick suggests they split up in both directions and look for anything that stands out. “Perhaps he went up to the crawl space, saw no medicine, and went to wherever it was he thought he found it” Rick concludes, the group being less than convinced.
“There was nothing more than whatever the fuck that smell was when we were up there” Natalie replies, curious as to why he thought there would be medicine there in the first place. “Maybe he dreamt it up?” Warren asks, adding himself back into the picture, “maybe he connected the dots between needing medicine and knowing of a weird place in the tunnel and drew a line to the other?”
“That’s delusional” Rick replies, brushing it off before Harper questions whether or not that matters. “Sure, it’s delusional… But if he was sick, is it really so difficult to assume he was suffering from delusions?” With that question raised, Liz adds in the question of what specifically got him sick. “I mean, there are the obvious things… Especially in the arctic, but nothing that I can think of that would cause delusions.”
“Either way, the question was raised so let’s not throw it off the table just yet” Rick states, “he was in the tunnels, so let’s figure out where he went in the tunnels.” Climbing to their feet, the group gets their gear ready and ventures back into the depths below the home, readying themselves for round two. “Natalie, Warren and I will take the tunnel southbound” Rick directs, “Tessa, Liz and Harper will head north.”
Splitting in their separate directions, Tessa and Rick embrace and head off on their paths, being sure to split on good terms in case events take a horrible turn. With the lightbulbs continuously threatening to blow out at any moment, the eery feeling that elicits the response of nerves tingling in the hands surrounds the tunnel with each jolt of the flashlight, the cavernous limestone tunnel walls experiencing their first true splash of light in decades at the group’s hands.
Silently marching from their observation point into whatever rests behind the partially-submerged walls of the ghost town, Rena and her group plow through the snow as more falls onto them from the heavens above. Her concerns only raising the longer the group goes without speaking, Marlhy questions Michael and Austin what they’re planning to do when they get back home.
“At this rate, invest in a fireplace” Michael replies, finally having enough strength to fight forward on his own as Austin tails just behind as a precautionary measure. “What about you Austin?” Marlhy asks, the first ten seconds of silence being enough to convince Marlhy to look behind her, watching Austin staring into the sky for an answer. “I’d like to just make it home to start with” Austin responds, his continuously pessimistic attitude beginning to ware on the group.
Despite being the source of it, Austin understands his role in the tense air and makes an attempt to lighten it. “I’m gonna invest in some fire wood for the fire place I already have” the bitter man replies, getting a brief chuckle out of Michael, which gives him the right of passage to openly laugh himself. Sharing humor, Michael and Austin ask what Marlhy plans on doing when home comes around.
“At this rate, I’d just like to be able to sleep in my own bed” the girl replies, the thought of such an familiar commodity being in reach acting as a delight. “What I wouldn’t do for that” Austin responds, praising the thought with the hope that the town will actually have beds waiting for them. “Even if it has nothing else, I’d be content with having an actual mattress to sleep on for the first time in ages!” Austin exclaims, finally loosening up his depressing grip on the future.
“What do we do when we get there?” Michael asks, ready for the town to serve as nothing more than their stepping stone to freedom. “I’m hoping we’ll be able to see something from the top of that clock tower” Rena replies, “but the best thing would be if we were able to settle in for a day or two if we need.”
“We can’t just keep going from place to place on less than a day of rest, Rena” Marlhy replies, citing the callouses and blisters beginning to form beneath their feet. “The rubber may keep the snow out of our boots, but they don’t keep them from being cold” Michael adds in, suggesting they remain in the town for a few days whilst they regroup. “I’m fine with settling in for a few” Austin responds, “what? I don’t!” he furthers once noticing Rena glancing over her shoulder at him.
“I may not be completely on board with this town, but I’m not shutting it out” Austin says, going as far as to suggest the town be a fair place for them to lay low and recoup. “I just thought we had a better chance making contact with someone back at the station than we do of walking our way to safety” Austin concludes, “I don’t think that’s unreasonable.”
Every snow-fighting step brings the group closer to the vacant town, and the light snowfall above only increases their hope. “Just keep pushing” Rena says through gritted teeth, her feet aching from the walk, but her mind solely focused on the town as the end-all be-all for the moment.
“I fucking hate the things” Warren says, shining his light back and forth, allowing the limestone to reflect the light in a semi-entertaining way. “Can you keep the light forward?” Rick asks, the group using Warren’s flashlight as their lightsource to preserve their own. Before Rick an finish making his request, Warren directs the group to slow down and look off to the side, his flashlight having stumbled upon a hole in the wall leading into the unexplored.
“That’s new” Natalie responds, a confident “you’re welcome” originating from Warren, who takes over the lead by flashing the light into what rests beyond. “It’s another tunnel!” Warren says, almost excitedly before Rick points out it being much more narrow than the one they’ve been navigating. “I don’t think he would-” Rick begins, cutting himself off when he notices something plastered on the wall beside the opening.
“I’ve… I’ve seen this before!” Rick exclaims, Natalie recognizing it as well from the crawl space. Together, they clue Warren in on the circular symbol with the bold ‘Y’ in the middle as having been scrawled out at the end of the crawl space from earlier. “Why is that important?” Warren asks, Rick stating that there was a path drawn along with it, pointing them in the direction of something yet unclear.
“Has this gone from a rescue mission to a treasure hunt?” Warren asks, “can we please focus on finding Charlie?” As his hopes are made clear, Warren finds his voice to be dulled beneath the actions of Rick climbing through the gap and into the hole. “Where the fuck are you going?” Warren asks, refusing to take Rick’s hand and join him in the hole.
“I’m not going in there!” Warren replies, immediately left alone in the tunnels as Natalie jumps at the opportunity. “If there’s any place Charlie would have gone other than the crawl space, it would’ve been in here” Rick responds, watching Warren shake his head. “You don’t know that for a fact!” the man replies, his statement falling on deaf ears as Rick extends his arm towards Warren once again.
“Come on, Warren!” Rick calls out, continuing to hold his hand as Warren aggravatedly bobs his head, refusing to listen to his better judgment. Now sharing the tiny space, Natalie takes the lead as the lack of space at her sides makes it nearly impossible to allow someone else ahead. Turning on her flashlight, Natalie leads the group further down the tunnel, both she and Rick going in blindly having forgotten the details of the crawl space’s map.
Calling out each direction they take as a way of being able to retrace their steps, Natalie continues forward, making the call to head down which path she likes the most. “Wait up!” Rick shouts, pointing out the footprints barely visible in the dirt below. “Follow those!” Rick declares, feeling like they’re getting closer with each claustrophobic breath they take.
As they venture further into the depths of Barrow barely explored, the sneaky feeling of something being off begins to set in for Warren, who grows adamant that they ease their pace. “We don’t even know if these are Charlie’s” Warren points out, “we could just be lurring ourselves into a fucking trap.” Scoffing, Natalie tells Warren to take it easy, knowing the worrying to be finding its way to him.
“Just t-” Natalie stops, her advice to Warren being halted when she comes to an abrupt stop, stumbling across a sight she never expected to find. Before her, chowing down on human remains beside a dead flashlight is a singular gray wolf, blocking the path from venturing any further. “Stay still” Rick warns, pulling his rifle over his shoulder and sneaking the barrel past Natalie as the wolf takes notice of their presence.
“Stay very, very still” Rick repeats, placing his eye towards the stock and placing his finger on the trigger lightly as the wolf adjusts its position. “Everyone relax” Rick says, the words intended to be his final piece of advice before action is taken. Leaning low to the ground, ready to pounce, the wolf growls at the sight of three fresh meals and begins slowly inching closer.
With a deep breath, Rick sends whatever air he held in his lungs through his lips and slowly squeezes the trigger, following the wolf with every step. In the narrow, stone catacombs, Rick sends off one shot, the bullet ripping through the barrel and the sound ripping through the air. As if it were a bomb with a carefully-plotted aftermath, the gun lets off a devastating shockwave, ensuring the sound travels the entire course of the catacombs just as the wolf prepares to pounce.
Calm and still, the stairwell of the partially-submerged clock tower rings with the sound of shattering glass as Rena and her group throw their packs inside before climbing in themselves. The first to hop through, Rena stands beside the window helping her remaining group members inside before scaling the staircase to the very top. Hoping for a promising result, the group ascends the stairs as if the top of the tower were presents on Christmas morning like they were kids again.
Catching her breath at the top, Marlhy becomes the first to complete the ascent as everyone else follows closely behind, in awe of the view they find greeting them at every angle. Amidst the expected gasps and simple wonders of the sights from so far above, Austin’s voice commands the most attention, his wonder at the level of their sights taking a backseat to the larger finding the group had been hoping for since they began their journey.
“Can you see it?” Austin asks, pointing past the debris of snowfall as the remainder of the group huddles around him for both warmth and guidance. “Past the snow, a few miles out!” Austin says, his enthusiasm beginning to grow the more people stammer over their words, finally starting to point it out. In the distance, seemingly lively by the view of a few warm lights beneath the dark midday sky is a small city just next to the north point of the Pacific Ocean.
“Is that Peard?” Marlhy asks, recalling the name of the nearest town from the initial flight into Barrow at the very start. “Yeah!” Austin excitedly shouts, “It is! It is!” The tension completely shriveling away to make room for the rush of excitement, the air becomes warm and welcoming once more, embraces and high fives being given across the room as the first true glance of hope appears.
After a few hours, the group begins settling into an abandoned apartment complex by boarding up the windows and making themselves a small, tidy camp. “I’m gonna go see what I kind find in the rest of this place” Rena says, electing to do a little exploration now that camp had been set up. “I’m coming with you!” Austin exclaims, hopping up from his makeshift pillow mattress on the floor.
“I’d like to know where I’m sleeping too” Austin mutters, giving Rena a fist bump before climbing down the stairs, leading Rena into the depths of the building. “We should start by seeing how far we can get before we hit snow” Austin suggests, hoping the interior remains untouched from the elements scaling its walls. Descending the stairs further and further, the pair eventually hit the bottom, Austin’s hopes of the interior being intact being answered in the intended way.
“You take that side, and I’ll take this one” Austin exclaims, cautiously entering one section whilst Rena begins scouting through her own. At random, Rena selects a door to open and just goes with wherever the wind takes her, stumbling upon a living room filled with children’s toys just scattered across the floor, almost as if they weren’t intended to be left behind when they were.
Looking down at the toys completely left to fall victim to the elements beneath her feet, Rena chooses to pick one up and inspect it. Taking a wooden box car into her hand, she notices the age on it from the worn down coat of paint and the overall era the toy would have been sold in. Turning it upside down, she reads off the manufacturer and the car’s model, only to find herself surprised to find the year ‘1985’ included in its tag.
With nearly thirty-five years between it’s make and her inspection of it, the car is only one of the countless toys scattered around the room manufactured in at least 1988 or prior. Realizing herself to be in a room literally frozen in time, Rena glances up at the walls to find the building itself being just as frozen in time as the toys. Whilst her eyes shift from one side of the room to the next, a semi-folded piece of paper lying on a bookshelf catches her eye and pulls her in.
Reaching for it, Rena reads the first line out loud, the way it is written giving it the appearance of a legal notice to the former resident of the space. Continuing to read the opening paragraph, her attention is stolen by Austin calling for her from outside the apartment. “What’s up?” Rena asks, meeting the man in the doorway as he insists that there’s something she needs to look at.
Following the man into his ventured residency, Rena finds herself led into the back-most room, confronted with a heavily corroded metal hatch in the corner. “What is this?” Rena asks, looking towards Austin, who lacks an answer other than a ‘heavy metal door.’ “How do you know it’s a door?” Rena asks, the question sounding silly in nature without being aware of its simple, part-of-the-floor design.
“It may look like just a weird spot, but there’s a lock in the corner right there” Austin replies, pointing out the generic, key-shape lock hidden well. “I don’t know where it leads, but it’s not in the other complexes I checked” the man exclaims, suggesting its intention to specifically serve this room.
“Let’s see if we can find a key” Rena says, leaving Austin to check the office space whilst she enters the rest of the home. Rusting away and suffering the effects of being buried beneath the heavy, Barrow snow taking its toll on the metal contraption, the handle remains operable, leaving the missing key as the only thing between the pair and whatever rests inside, intentionally buried beneath hundreds of pounds of manufactured metal.
“We don’t wanna draw attention to ourselves” Tessa instructs, aiming the flashlight closer to the ground, aware of the direction they follow leading back into the force that attacked Rena’s group. Whispering to each other only when necessary and remaining close to the outermost wall to give themselves a slight advantage if the need to escape presents itself, Tessa and her fellow survivors pass by drawings plastered against each side of the tunnel.
“Look for anything fresh” Tessa whispers, making it clear that some of the writings are newer than others, making sure to be cautious when darker, more legible depictions are found. “What about that?” Harper points out, spotting a set of numbers written in black marker assorted in a weirdly specific way. “That’s not all” Liz whispers, checking both directions before slowly walking up to the writing, pointing out a massive hole made in the ground.
“That leads somewhere!” Harper whispers, her words sounding both worried and joyous at the same time, but her eagerness to leap into the hole making the joyous force seem more genuine. “You sure?” Tessa asks, watching Harper bite down on her flashlight and prepare to scale down into whatever rests below. “Come on!” Harper whispers, assisting the girls into the hole with her before leading the charge forward, following the straight passage forward.
“Do you guys see the light underneath there?” Harper asks, pointing out a long strip of light along the ground just ahead. The hole being so naturally causes causes the depth perception of anyone walking through it without light to take a complete turn, therefor making the presence of the light both fortunate and forboding. “What is it?” Liz asks aloud, watching Harper become annoyed, throwing away any concerns in favor of quickly getting the answer.
Pleading with her to slow down, Tessa forces herself to follow Harper, who now quickly walks towards the light, ready to confront whatever resides on the other end. “Harper, wait!” Tessa grunts, the sound of clattering on the lighter end only further fueling the headstrong girls’ need to know as the lightsource comes closer.
“Harper!” Tessa whispers one final time, reaching for the girl’s shoulder as she reaches for a doorknob and pushes the door in, allowing the light to flood into the hole. Slightly blinded by the sudden brightness taking over their vision, the girls pull their arms over their faces before slowly lowering them, finding the answers to the questions they had been asking throughout their exploration, only for an entirely new set of questions to take effect.
With her arms now lowered to her side, Tessa walks further ahead of Liz and past Harper, looking at what remains for her to see. “Ch-” Tessa begins, stumbling over what to say as the figure directly in front of her brings a massive rush of deja vu. “Chris?” Tessa finally asks, her face scrunching up in a loss for words as the host of the long-debunked game show stands with the same expression towards her.
“How?” Tessa begins, “what?” she follows, the man she hasn’t seen since he supposedly left the region on the initial day standing before her, looking just as healthy as he did then. “What is this?” Harper asks, her questions only beginning to mount in her mind as she looks at the clean walls draped in electronics. Caught in the spurt of the moment, Chris looks at the girls in surprise, only able to respond with the first six words that come to mind.
“You’re not supposed to be here…”