“It all just feels really off” Charlie says, pacing around the group comprised of everyone other than the crew remaining on the opposite side of the lake. “How do we know she’s not just faking it?” he continues, asking for an answer from anyone, only to find a lack of outright proof against it. “I get she has a reason to fake it, but I’ve been proud to be able to read people pretty well, and that kind of fear isn’t one you just come up with” Austin says, putting his support in Liz’ camp.
“And you, Warren?” Charlie asks, looking towards the kid, noticing his look of uncertainty. “Listen, I’m not stationing myself in either camp” Warren replies, “I’ve never just believed someone at face value when there’s no immediate necessity to…” Looking at the kid, Charlie thanks him before he can get a chance to finish, halting himself as Charlie continues his point. “...However, I’ve also never outright refused to believe them if there wasn’t an immediate necessity to either.”
“So what do you lean towards?” Charlie asks, watching Warren admit that if it all turned out to be just a feined attempt at scaring the campers off, she would have had him completely fooled. “She’s either the world’s greatest actress, or someone that was afraid for her life and doesn’t need people calling her a liar for it” Warren says, standing from his seat and walking over to his quarters, going to check on Liz.
“Anyone else?” Charlie asks, looking around the camp before Rick speaks up, suggesting that it was all a ploy to spook them. “Coming from the guy that wanted to screw us out of dinner the other night” Austin says, stirring up drama between himself and Rick, with the latter shouting at him to say something to his face if he’s got a problem. “I’d knock your ass out, but I’m afraid I’ll get a faceful of booze breath, old man” Austin says, angering Rick and getting him to stand to his feet, walking towards Austin and getting into his face.
“Rick, get back” Michael demands, trying to pull Rick back, and earning a strike to the bridge of the nose for his troubles. “What the fuck?” Austin shouts, watching Rick walk back over to him before a piece of firewood flies off from the side and decks Rick across the head, laying him out. “Try that again and I’ll put you in the ground” Warren says, walking over to retrieve the wood he threw like a pitcher in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series.
“Play nice or I’ll make quick work of you, got it?” Warren says, standing over Rick as the older man clutches at his head, trying to stop the bleeding from the gash over his eye. “Tell me you understand what I’m saying to you!” Warren repeats, his voice growing louder and more affirmative with every repeat. Doing nothing more than nodding, Rick watches Warren walk back to his quarters and toss the firewood onto the stack with the rest.
The group speechless, not wanting to say something that can stir the pot again, simply stands around waiting for someone to break the silence. “Fuck it!” Rick shouts, punching the ground and storming to his quarters as Austin sits on a rock, hands over his face as the tensions in the group begin to rise as they had originally expected to do. “I’m calling it a night” Natalie says, walking back to her quarters and leaving Michael and Austin to talk everything over.
“You saw something at the trailers back there, didn’t you?” Michael asks, earning all the confirmation he needs in Austin’s simple gaze upwards to him. “What did you find?” Michael asks, watching Austin fold his hands and look off, not wanting to answer the question. “Listen, you can choose to tell me or not” Michael says, watching Austin glance over to him out of the corner of his eye, the orange fire reflected off his glassy pupils. “At the end of the day, if I really wanted to know what you found down there… All I need to do is make the trip” Michael concludes, giving Austin the chance to take the floor.
“Come on, man... Let’s not be enemies here” Michael pleads, trying to convince Austin to come clean, only to be met with further silence. Dropping his head, having retired to the notion that Austin was going to keep his findings secret, Michael takes a breath before standing up and walking towards his quarters. “I found a lantern” Austin says, not wanting to end tonight having made an enemy out of the only person at the cape he feels he can trust the most.
“Why keep a lantern a secret?” Michael asks, turning around with his arms extended. “It had the year ‘2012’ engraved on the bottom” Austin replies, watching Michael’s face develop an intrigued gaze. “Okay, you’ve got me hooked. What else did you find?” Michael says, returning to his seat with his arms rested atop his thighs. “That was it” Michael replies, the frustration at his lack of success appearing more evident than before. “I tried to find something else that felt off but I just missed it” Austin continues, angered at the result.
“You’re gonna go back looking for it tomorrow, aren’t you?” Michael asks, watching Austin look up to him, having given into the idea that Michael’s probably gotten his answer before Austin himself can even think of the question. “I was gonna use the cover of looking for the figure” Austin admits, watching Michael smile and nod. “Not a bad plan, to be fair” Michael replies, watching Austin snap a twig in half and chuck both pieces into the roaring fire.
“So what happens if you find something?” Michael asks, clarifying that he means finding proof of the figure or something out of place. “If I find the guy, at least we’ll know that Liz was right. If I find something else out of place, at least we’ll know the producers didn’t tell us everything we needed to know.” Looking towards each other, Austin assumes that Michael’s silence is his way of telling him that he’ll be joining Austin on the journey the following day.
“We’ll leave at dawn, not a moment sooner, not a moment later” Michael says, standing up and returning to his quarters before he spots Rena, Tessa and Marlhy returning from the cabin. “You’re back!” Michael shouts, walking with Austin back to the trio and welcoming them home. “Find anything?” Michael asks, informed by Rena that the cabin is fully abandoned, and the next steps are to get a strange door open.
“Austin and I are heading out to the trailer park tomorrow morning, Liz said she saw a man there and it wasn’t Warren or I” Michael says, ringing alarm bells in the girls’ heads. “Don’t worry, we’re gonna head down there and see for ourselves if we can find something while we’re out. Just send two guys out to take over for Harper and Len while we’re gone” the man concludes. “Are you sure it wasn’t one of the producers?” Tessa asks, watching the men shake their heads. “By the sounds of it, she called out for him thinking it was Warren until she figured out that it wasn’t. He didn’t respond to anything” Michael replies, bringing the spirits of the group into a crater.
“Everything’s gonna be fine, we’ll get to the bottom of this. Let’s not start worrying” Austin says, assuring the trio that everything will be under control soon enough. “Until then, let’s get some sleep and be ready to take on tomorrow morning” Michael suggests, offering to take the first watch of the group. With that, the pairing splits up and goes their separate ways, moving into their quarters and getting some rest in anticipation of the following day.
= 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 =
“Natalie, you wanna head out with Charlie to the cabin?” Tessa asks, walking off with Natalie’s agreeance and meeting Michael and Austin as they ready themselves to leave. “You’ve got everything you need, nothing holding you down?” Rena asks, laughing as the pair give her a simple thumbs up before wishing them luck and getting a start on their journey.
“What now?” Rena asks Tessa, watching the woman shrug her shoulders and turn to look out at an empty cape, most of the residents still asleep. Walking off to her quarters, Tessa retrieves a notebook from a chest and writes something on it in dark permanent marker. “Harper or Len must be up, let’s see if they can get this from afar” Tessa exclaims, leading Rena to the lake and taking a seat beside it. “What are you doing?” Rena asks, reading the note informing those on the other side that Natalie and Warren are on their way.
“We’ll give it about ten minutes and hope they see it” Tessa says, patting the ground beside her and offering Rena a seat. Without much else to do, Rena obliges and joins Tessa in her staredown with the opposite part of the lake, the cabin on the opposite end more clear on the sunny morning than it usually is hidden behind fog. “How much longer until someone drops out?” Tessa asks, trying to find something to kill the time with.
Looking to Rena, Tessa notices her intent thought, proving the effort of trying to pick the upmost likely answer of them all. “Natalie” Rena replies, disappointing both Tessa and herself. “I think Natalie can hold for a really long time!” Tessa says, though initially not making a choice of her own, she does make it clear that she isn’t going to rest in “Natalie first” camp. “I never said she couldn’t” Rena says, watching Tessa look towards her before suggesting that she may not want to.
“I get she’s got this idea that this is all suspicious and everything, but there’s still a million dollars on the line” Tessa says, reminding Rena that if there’s nothing else, the pair sat beside the coastline will always be in her corner. “I like her, I think she’s great” Rena says, “I just worry she’ll get so suspicious that she’ll just call it a day and move on.”
Approached with an argument she has no solid defense to, Tessa accepts the choice and moves onto predicting Liz as the first one out. “If Austin was right about that look he saw on her face, I’m pretty convinced she’s not long for this game” Tessa says, finding a common agreeance with Rena, who picks Liz as her back up option.
Remaining seated beside each other, the pair talk about their plans once they make it out of Barrow. “If I walk out with the money, I’m gonna find something other than stripping to do” Rena says, turning to Tessa with a smile and suggesting that she’ll look for something with fewer handsy clients. “I can imagine that kind of change would be nice!” Tessa replies, fist bumping the woman and figuring out an answer of her own when Rena brings the question back around.
“Not sure yet, I don’t really have any reason to stop what I’m doing right now” Tessa replies, admitting that she likes her line of work, she just hates the bosses she works beneath. “So start up your own techno-fixer thing and be your own boss” Rena replies, watching Tessa shrug at the idea and take a moment to consider it. “Where do you come from anyways?” Rena asks, surprised when Tessa’s accent-less reply of Georgia comes around. “So why aren’t you calling soda pop and shit like that?” Rena asks, pondering over all the possibilities.
“I was born there and moved to New York shortly thereafter. I moved back down a few years ago” Tessa replies, watching the eyes of Rena light up with glee. “What part of New York?” Rena asks, her glee erupting into outright joy when Tessa replies with ‘Manhattan.’
“Fucking exact same!” Rena replies, the dark unknown of seemingly everything revolving around the game being made alright with the light fun, even if for only a few minutes. “At some point we probably bumped into each other and never even knew it!” Tessa says, watching Rena’s face light up and suggest it was unlucky to go through most of their collective lives not knowing each other.
“All of that time lost talking about what we’d do in year-long game shows!” Tessa says, one-upped with Rena’s assurance that the time missed not discovering mysterious cabins was a bigger loss. “How about all the people that wouldn’t have assumed we were fucking as soon as they met us?” Tessa adds, watching Rena’s smirk coincide with a head tilt. “What?” Tessa asks, assuming Rena to inevitably be getting somewhere.
“Listen, I’m not saying we would’ve fucked each other’s brains out had we met sooner…” Rena begins, looking at Tessa and making sure to stare her in the eyes and she moves forward. “...But regardless of whether I would have met you or not, you would’ve gotten a free dance if you walked into my place of work.”
Flattered and slightly more willing to test the waters, Tessa nips the conversation in the bud before it can get a chance to move any further, suggesting that Harper and Len have had more than enough warning. “Oh!” Rena says mockingly, “We were just getting to the good stuff!” earning a smile from Tessa, who humorously replies, “If you want to get to the good stuff, don’t push it on me too soon!”
Despite meant as a joke, both women take in the words for a moment and realize that it came out much more sexual than it was initially intended to be. “Just forget I said that” Tessa requests, turning to return to the cape before spinning herself around once more with Rena’s assurance that she will not. “Cool” Tessa says, nodding with a smirk on her face as Rena gestures with finger guns behind her.
“This it?” Michael asks, pointing out a rundown camper in the middle of the lot. Assured in his theory from the man tailing him, Michael climbs into the camper and surveys the room, looking for the fabled lantern. “Where is it?” Austin asks, rushing over to the stand he returned it to having discovered it to have gone missing. “Michael, I swear I left it right here!” Austin says, watching the man take a seat and drop his gloves to the floor.
“Listen, I’m not going to call you a liar… But unlike most other things, a kerosene lantern doesn’t just get blown over” Michael replies. Watching the man frustratedly rearrange the room as if he were looking for the perfect setup, Michael sits back and takes in the effort on display, trying to gage its genuinity. “I know you’re thinking that I’m crazy, but-” Austin attempts to reply, only for Michael to interrupt him with quite the opposite.
“Unlike most others, I like to look at things from a logistical standpoint” Michael says, making sure that Austin is following along. “I believe you because you had no reason to suggest something that specific… It didn’t benefit you in ay way as far as I can tell.” Breathing a sigh of relief, Austin’s mind is returned to Austin’s words as he switches gears onto another topic. “However, I’m also starting to believe that Liz was also right” Michael replies, “As if you’re missing a kerosene lantern, that must mean someone else has a kerosene lantern. And I don’t think any of us would know where to find one.”
Coming to the quick realization that Liz was correct, Austin switches his focus to finding the figure now haunting Liz at the mere mention of it, determined to get to the bottom of this. “So what do we do now?” Austin asks, watching Michael stand up and return his gloves to his hands before making for the front entry. “Now we start looking” Michael says confidently, disappearing through the front before Austin follows soon after, making it a point to remain as close to him as he can.
“Damnit!” Len shouts, beating the hefty metal door in with the crowbar after another failed attempt at prying it open. “It’s not gonna budge” Harper says, resting her head against the back of the chair she sits the wrong way in. “I’m starting to become increasingly aware of that” Len replies, blowing the hanging hairs out of his face with his hands depressingly rested against his thighs.
“Give it a rest, let’s save our energy for the walk back” Harper says, patting Len on the shoulder for his efforts before going over to take a shower. “There’s something about this fucking thing, man” Len mutters to himself, fuming at the idea that he can’t break into it. Dropping to the floor and putting his head as low to the ground as he can manage, Len tries to take a peek at whatever remains behind.
“Fuck this thing!” Len shouts, his anger subsiding for a moment as he tries to hear something through the onpour of water. “Harper!” Len shouts, hearing the water turn off, and the woman, her nude body covered by nothing more than a towel, as she walks into the living space to see Len making friends with the floorboards. “What are you doing?” Harper asks, doing her best to keep the towel wrapped around her as Len explains that he thinks he heard something inside.
“It was probably a water tank or something, Len” Harper replies, met with assurance from the man that it wasn’t a noise as much as it was a voice. “What do you mean by ‘a voice’, Len?” Harper asks, doing her best to keep the towel covering her privates as she huddles as close to the ground as she can. “Yes, playgirl, a voice” Len replies, handed a smack over the back of his head for his efforts.
“Motherfucker!” Len shouts, listening intently to his words being spit back at him as they bounce off of something hardened and unrelenting. “It’s an echo, I’m hearing an echo!” Len exclaims as if he were a kid unwrapping presents on Christmas day. “You had me hop out of the shower to tell me you were talking to yourself?” Harper asks, watching Len turn towards her with the intent of replying before freezing like bad connection.
“What?” Harper asks, watching the man smirk with wide eyes as he points the end of his crowbar towards Harper’s breasts fully fallen out of the towel. “Well, Madam ‘D cup’, the fact that my echo’s bouncing around down there like a bouncy ball means that this isn’t just a closet or a basement.” Nose scrunched at the fun poked as she pulls her towel over her chest once again, Harper tells Len that it could still be just a really big basement.
“One that rings through like you’re screaming into a train terminal?” Len asks, assuring Harper that something massive is hidden down there, only kept from them by one aggravating door. “I’m getting back in the shower” Harper replies after a moment of thinking about the gravity behind Len’s statement, ultimately not wanting to wrap herself up in a blanket of hope that could end up being for nothing.
“Find anything?” Austin asks, annoyed at the decisive ‘nope’ from Michael, having seemingly stammered through trailer cabins throughout the entire day for nothing. “Hey, Austin!” Michael shouts, calling the man over and pointing out something on the side of one of the trailers. “It may not be ‘2012’, but will ‘2009’ do?” Michael asks, pointing out the wording to reveal the date of the final year of the 2000’s.
“It’s still far and away more recent than the mid-90’s” Austin replies, leaping from the trailer and marching over to the next, getting the chance to see it up close for himself. “I guess your theory of the producers feeding us horseshit’s been proven” Michael says, confident that Austin’s been working along the correct lines.
“It may not be a lantern, but it’s definitely as much proof as it would have been” Austin says to himself, climbing into the trailer and surveying the interior for anything out of place. “Holy shit, we’re idiots!” Michael shouts, walking over to a dining table and picking up a newspaper with the date ‘January 15th, 2014’ on it. “All we had to do was pick up a newspaper?” Austin asks, already knowing the answer, just wishing for something that makes him less of an idiot to fall into his lap.
“So what now?” Austin asks, looking for their new approach now that their biggest concern has been answered for. “Well I’m not gonna wait past dark for this guy to just show up and kill us” Michael replies, insisting the pair begin to pack their things up and prepare for the ride home. “Don’t move a muscle” a voice calls out calmly, holding the two men at gunpoint with a sawed off shotgun, demanding they follow him.
Looking to each other as if to question whether or not the other is seeing this too, the pair eventually give in and follow the man, going with the flow with little choice in the matter.
“Tessa!” a woman calls out, pulling the woman towards Marlhy as she stares at the ceiling in her quarters, awaiting the woman’s response. “You alright, Marlhy?” Tessa asks, watching the girl point towards the ground and a hole in the ceiling where the camera once was. “The camera in my ceiling just slammed into the ground for no reason” Marlhy says, picking up whatever she can and handing it to Tessa to evaluate.
“Is this normal?” Marlhy asks, assuming Tessa’s tech-savvy mind would help her better understand what’s going on. “No, it most definitely is not” Tessa says, fascinated by the camera and completely thrown off by the lack of a port to plug a cable into. “Did I break it?” Marlhy asks, unable to understand most of what Tessa is referring to. “No, I don’t even know why it was up there… This-” Tessa begins, quickly silencing herself as she comes to a sudden realization.
“This isn’t a real camera” Tessa says, picking up a pair of nail clippers and doing what she can to pry the tool open. Suddenly, with less effort than she was using prior, the top of the camera pops off and the sound of the Neptune Box going off sweeps the pair off their feet, startling them before they figure out what was going on.
“What happened?” Liz shouts, watching Marlhy follow Tessa to the box as she reaches into the compartment. Inside is a note a case of four radios, all connected to the same frequency with a massive box of batteries to follow. “Fucking sweet!” Charlie says in excitement, peering over Tessa’s shoulder to read the note. “Holy shit” Charlie says, his amusement immediately killed off as Tessa’s eyes wander off the paper, and her focus stares off in the direction of the trailer park.
“What’s wrong?” Liz asks, the enjoyment of the group being put on halt as the eager reveal of what the note reads begins to hover over everyone. “What does it say Tessa?” Rena asks, watching the girl turn towards her with a look of immediate fear. Walking over to Rena, Tessa hands her the note and breaks for her quarters, leaving Rena to read the short statement off to the residents of the cape.
“Rena?” Marlhy calls out, watching the woman glance over at the group as she finishes her brief read to break some news. “Congratulations on another completion. Here is a four pack of radios with enough battery life to last the full calendar year. It seems you’ll need them, because… SURPRISE! You aren’t truly alone here. Happy hunting!”
With the words being read beneath the sky turning into nightfall, Rena looks over to Tessa with a bag draped over her shoulder. “Tessa, where are you going?” Rena asks, storming off towards the girl determined to get back to Austin and Michael. “You can’t go out there, it’s gonna be pitch black out in a few minutes!” Rena shouts, pleading with Tessa to calm down and think things through.
“Tessa, you need to stop” Liz calls out, the tremors in her voice apparent enough to bring Tessa to a halt in the spot in which she stands. “You don’t wanna face whoever’s out there” Liz continues, watching Tessa turn towards her with her eyes narrowed as each individual in the camp that once called Liz a liar have no such comments to be made further. “What was it that you saw back at the trailers, Liz?” Tessa asks, watching the girl’s eyes flush with fear as the feeling of horror begins to enrapture her all over again.
“It just stood there, it didn’t answer… Didn’t even acknowledge me. All I saw was his back and I knew it didn’t seem…” After a pause drops her head, Liz speaks freely without care of how the group may choose to see her. “It didn’t seem human” Liz says, “All I needed was to see it’s back and I knew something was really bad.”
With this revelation unfolding upon the group, Tessa mutters aloud that they all just let Austin and Michael walk into the den of a monster with open arms. Looking around without any voice of hope or inspiration coming around the corner at any point, the group remains silently stood in the center of the cape, staring out at each other as the sun falls beneath the horizon, blackening the sky.