“Let’s not be too long” Lou calls out, Jenn and Halston immediately directing themselves to the center building of the gas station they’ve stumbled upon. “Let’s hope they don’t find a stash of porno mags, either” Ally jokes, Lou failing to keep himself together as the laughter ensues. Knowing the humor won’t settle itself anytime soon, Jenn flips the bird to those remaining behind before she and Halston disappear within.
“How did she go from Wyatt to Halston?” Jules asks with a profound surprise, “they can be gay and all, that’s fine, but I’m just curious how the scales tipped that far, that quick.” With a smirk, Lou pats Jules on the shoulder and reminds him of how often he and Terry used to be lumped into the same conversation. “It’s only shocking because the truth was far different than what people were expecting” Lou replies, Jules immediately looking towards the man with a lack of amusement.
“We ain’t gay just ‘cuz we’re black” Terry replies, nearly as unamused as Jules until Theo waves him off. “Whatever you were about to say, don’t” the leader of the second group quips, “the second you started with that, nothing else needed to be said.” Shrugging, Terry returns to the back of the truck, sitting back as Theo’s fellow survivors walk off from the group, stopping at the front of station with their guns ready if needed.
“What’s their deal?” Lou asks, Theo looking back with a smile. “We’ve got a system” Theo replies, his hand resting against the top of the pumps, “one of us does whatever we need to, the others keep watch.” Continuing to stare at them, Jules refuses to leave room for comfort, glancing back to Lou and asking him how they can be so sure Theo’s group can be trusted.
“Are you saying you’re skeptical of us?” Theo asks, his tone less inviting as he challenges the gall of the man questioning him whilst still in his presence. Unphased by the attempt at a power move, Jules arches his lip, looking back to the man trying to flex power over a man he has no power over. “You’re goddamn right I’m skeptical of you” Jules replies, Theo’s eyebrows lifting, “those two freaks over there just playing statue while you make yourself at home.”
Taken aback by this refusal to play anything kindly, Theo chirps back at the man, refusing to even change his posture at the sight of him doubling down. “We didn’t treat you with any hostility when we first saw you, I’d hope for much the same” Theo replies, Jules on the verge of finally becoming amused. “It seems like you’re hoping for a lot” Jules replies, “might not wanna start putting all your eggs in one basket, bro.”
“What did you just call me?” Theo replies, his hostility immediately presenting itself further than before, the verge of a dispute beginning to capture Lee and Elsie’s attention. “I called you a bro, bro” Jules replies, his arms stretched out over each side of the truck bed, leaning back as if he were sitting in a recliner, “now back the fuck up or get put the fuck down, bro.”
Kicking his feet up atop the truck bed, Jules becomes further annoyed the moment Theo instinctively pushes them down in retaliation, challenging the man the provoke escalation. Not one to back down from such a challenge, Jules leaps over the bed of the truck and walks over to Theo, shoving his backwards and watching him stumble into the gas pump.
Having been met with the provocation he had been looking for, Theo steps forward, shoving Jules back at once, the physicality now escalating. On even ground, Jules takes his moment, a confident Theo smiling at the conflict he’s created as the wound on Lou’s hand forces him to attempt to remain as far away from the fight as possible. With a swing, Jules knocks Theo further back, this time forcing him back with such force that he essentially falls into the pump.
“Hey, that’s more than enough!” Lou shouts, his injured arm remaining clutched to his abdomen as his opposite holds a finger towards Jules. Before another word can be uttered, Theo climbs back and dives into Jules, tackling him to the ground as Lee and Elsie holster their weapons, attempting to help Terry and Lou pry the pair apart. Amidst the chaos, Theo lands a straight jab upon Jules’ mouth, busting his lip open before being ripped from atop the man.
“Is that the best you’ve got, big guy?” Jules calls out, an ecstatic Theo replying, “you wouldn’t have lasted much longer had I given you any more than that!” In the midst of helping Terry pull Jules to his feet, a sharp pain courses through Lou’s arm, forcing him to step away from the conflict for a moment to tend to the wound. “You alright?” Ally asks, walking beside Lou as he gains distance, both Theo and Jules ending their fight to look at the man as he stumbles away.
“Yeah, I’m fine” Lou replies, wincing in pain as he shakes the hand around, trying to get blood to flow through it again, “just a little too much on it, is all.” Too caught up in worrying over Lou’s dilemma, Jules and Theo end the tension, calming themselves down as Jenn and Halston exit the central building. “What the hell are you doing out here?” Halston calls, the questionable sight leaving Jenn and herself concerned at what the remaining road ahead leaves the offer.
“It’s nothing” Lou shouts back, the seven survivors behind himself and Ally left puzzled, their heads concerned about a thousand different things and worried about another thousand more, “let’s just get this done with and get back on the road.” Looking back, Lou stares at the group refusing to move an inch before reiterating his prior command. Without hesitation, Lou reaches out for the nozzle, removing it from the machine and slamming it into the gas tank.
= 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 =
“I’m really not in favor of this idea” Terry says back to Lou, the man, still with lingering pain in his bad arm, assuring the eight that it’s of necessity. “We’ve got no idea how long we’ll have to wait on the docks for this ship to arrive” Lou explains, “it may not look very safe, but we’re gonna have to get what we can out of it in the case we’re here longer than we want to be.”
Squealing to a stop in the middle of an oversized, yet ominously empty shopping mall, the truck allows six to depart. Ally remaining in the driver’s seat while Elsie and Lee keep guard. “You sure you wanna trust these dudes to stay back with her?” Terry whispers to Lou, the man glancing back to Theo’s comrades for a moment before quietly nodding back.
“We’ll split into groups” Lou exclaims, pairing himself with Theo, Jules with Terry, and Jenn and Halston, referring to them as “the lovebirds.” Again met with a middle finger raised from Jenn, Lou proudly runs down each group’s responsibilities before beginning towards the building. The entrance left wide open for looters to easily come and go, the massive building allows the six to quickly gather in and split off in differing directions, whatever rests inside completely up for chance.
Inside, the once well-maintained interior is reduced to the oversight of mother nature, rainwater having gathered in large puddles from the shattered skylight above. Ceiling panels collapsed, leaving nothing but an empty hole in its place along the rows and columns of water-damaged insulation. Shattered glass, broken products, dry blood and dirty footprints scattered throughout, the mall holds the uncomfortable atmosphere of something both completely empty and impossibly populated.
The first to split from the group, Jenn and Halston catch a glimpse of a sign directing them to the food court, any possible remnants digestible in one form or another better than nothing. “We’ll catch up with you all later” Halston calls, Lou’s insistance that they keep safe. “I should be saying the same for you” Halston replies, Jenn doubling down, telling her friend to keep himself from worsening his injuries.
Soon after, Terry and Jules notice a portion of the mall in worse condition than that of the rest, taking it as a sign that anyone coming in and out left this wing in specific mostly unclaimed. “If it gets us anything, it’ll be worth it” Jules suggests, making his argument for the chance being taken. With a fist bump, Lou watches the pair split off into the unknown, each side departing leaving a small, yet ever present concern that this goodbye could be their final.
“It’s just you and me” Theo mutters, Lou looking back to the man with a smile, the territory they embark on feeling like second nature. “Just like the old days” Lou replies, he and Theo pulling flashlights from their belt and excitedly venturing deeper into the building’s depths.
Approaching a sea of turned-over tables and fly-filled dining areas, Jenn and Halston let out two resounding whistles, an intriguing silence returning for their efforts. “That’s surprising” Halston says under her breath, beginning to walk forward before Jenn puts her hand out, holding the woman back before pointing her flashlight towards the ground. Off to the side of the room, smeared blood is left upon the floor, providing the appearance of a body having been dragged into the bathrooms.
“That’s none of our business” Halston whispers, looking to Jenn, who looks back to the bathrooms before turning back to Halston, repeating that cycle three more times. “All we’re responsible for is finding any sort of food and getting back to the truck” Halston repeats, Jenn left to look back to the smeared blood with a disappointed expression. Agreeing with Halston, Jenn nods and proceeds forward, the pair leaping over the counter of a former fast food joint.
The sound of rubble crunching beneath their boots, Halston and Jenn slowly enter the backrooms, navigating the kitchen with their flashlights and finding little more than a few crumbs scattered around the floor. To the tune of rats squeaking, Halston and Jenn look throughout the kitchen for very little, nothing more than half a bag of freezer-burnt french fries and refrigerator-stored burger buns.
“I suppose it’s better than nothing” Halston mutters to herself, the bags ruffling in her hands as they take new residence in her duffle bag. After a few seconds, growling begins, feet sweeping across the floor as the undead make their presence known. “It’s coming from the back” Jenn whispers, taking a ladle hanging partially off the side of a dishes rack and slamming it against the metal countertop.
Growling at the sound of presence, the corpse begins to trail towards the sound of Jenn and Halston, the former clicking her tongue to continue to bait the undead onwards. “Here it comes” Halston mutters as she watches a decaying hand appear over the corner, taken by surprise when the rest of the monster comes into view. “What the fuck is that?” Halston asks, Jenn equally curious as she approaches the figure and puts it down with a meat thermometer.
The threat taken care of and the lack of any further incoming, Jenn reaches down and slowly pulls out a kitchen knife from the corpse’s neck. “Who would leave one of these things moving?” Halston asks, knowing well that the knife didn’t just fall into her neck via accident. “Maybe she got whoever it was?” Jenn offers, the idea not too out of the realm of plausibility enough to get too worked up over.
“Let’s just hope we don’t run into the unlucky bastard the rest of the way” Jenn replies, continuing to look through the kitchen as her attempts to brush off the sight unfold. Assuming they had looked through all there was to offer, Jenn and Halston move onto the next kitchen. A hole in her corpse, the undead remains sprawled out on the ground, its mouth hung wide enough for the lack of any remaining teeth to linger as a harrowing reminder of the outbreak.
With a grunt, Theo pulls himself through the hatch at the top of the elevator, the never-ending corridor leading an impossible height above a more than familiar sight. “You’re turn, hotshot” Theo calls out, reaching through the gap and taking Lou by the hand. Strength in his injured arm depleting fast, Lou climbs through the gap with minimal struggle, but enough for Theo to notice the issues a man of Lou’s athleticism wouldn’t normally have.
“I really hope that boat has a medical team” Theo mutters, Lou shaking his head, assuring the man that it’s all gonna be fine. “The soreness will go away in a few days and it’ll all be like new” Lou explains, staring towards the heavens as Theo glares at him, refusing to take Lou’s words for gospel. “I know you may be a man of your word, but I also know you’re too stubborn to ask for help” Theo explains, “I just wanna make sure those lines aren’t being blurred right now.”
Looking back to his longtime friend, Lou opens his mouth to speak, only to come up short in finding the words, instead looking back to the floor above and responding, “I’ll be fine.” Taking in a deep breath, Lou reaches up, grabbing a hold of the cables above and ascending to the next level. Left behind, Theo watches the man during his ascent, continuing to take caution of taking Lou on his word, still skeptical that the injury to the arm is nothing more than soreness.
After a few minutes of searching the upper level, the pair begin to recognized their surroundings, each wall covered in the wallpaper only typically found in cinemas. “Wanna catch a movie?” Theo jokes, he and Lou hopping over the bannister dividing the theater halls from the main floor. “I don’t think this place has enough power to get a lightbulb going, let alone-” Lou replies, stopping himself and Theo as they look towards the lobby.
“Oh shit” Lou says in bated breaths, the sights stumbled upon by himself and Theo presenting a sea of undead, all trapped within the lobby due to the main exits being boarded up. “Come back the way we came?” Theo asks, immediately surprised when Lou responds in the negative, insisting they don’t return the way they came. “If you couldn’t already tell, the only other exits are locked up!” Theo replies, he and Lou continuing to back away as the undead begin to notice.
“I’m gonna need you to give me a really good reason for why we don’t go back the only other way we know is available!” Theo exclaims, Lou insisting there’s another option. “We go back the way we came, we lead this entire swarm back to the lower level” Lou responds, the swarm beginning to stumble in their direction, “your friends may not be down there, but mine are.”
“So you’re just down with running around a zombie-filled building for ages until your hand is forced?” Theo questions, a smirk resonating on Lou’s face despite the sights before him. “Believe me when I tell you this” Lou replies, tapping the man on the arm and pointing in a direction opposite of that they came from, “I’m kinda used to it by now.”
The moment still available, Lou and Theo race for the front counters and leap over the still-clean glass cases, kicking the door in on their way through the employee’s lounge. “Look for something to use like a coat!” Lou directs, Theo staring at him in utter confusion, “why the fuck are looking for coats right now?” His head shaking as he sifts through boxes and lockers of property, Lou assures the man that he’s got more than a good enough plan.
Pulling two fur coats from a random set of lockers, John smiles with glee, looking back to Theo and telling him to get ready to start pinching his nose. Puzzled, Theo follows the man back to the counter and around the swarm, their attention putting the viewing rooms into full view.
“Yeah, it’s not much” Jenn admits, looking within their collective duffle bags to find most of the food only tolerable if they were to get lucky, “but at least it’s not nothing.” Eyes rolling, Halston follows the woman back out into the empty dining room, the feeling of such a typically bustling place being so quiet and empty just as ominous as when they arrived. “Who would’ve thought this city would’ve gone to such shit so quickly?” Halston asks herself, pushing over a tilted chair.
“People don’t like to listen to authority” Jenn admits, having grown up in the same mold as those she places the blame upon, “if they’re told to do something, they’ll probably risk it and do something else.” Their intentions taking them to another possible spot in the building for better luck in the scavenging efforts, the women stop upon the smeared blood once more, the mystery behind it just as intriguing as before.
“It’s not what we came here for” Halston reiterates, “we don’t have any obligation to figure out whatever the hell’s back there.” More than aware of this, Jenn admits that something doesn’t sit right with her, the picture seeming out of place when paired with the knife-neck corpse. “I know there’s plenty of explanations, but you’ve got to stop and think about it for a moment” Jenn replies, “what kind of corpse kill produces that much blood?”
Looking back to the smear with little interest in investigating, Halston turns to look back at Jenn before her head glances back to the smear again, this time with a sudden thought. “What?” Jenn asks, aware of what it means for a person to take a second look at something in such a way, “what did you see?”
“I didn’t see anything” Halston replies, her words not intended as a statement, but rather as a naturally curious question of sorts. “I’m not saying I wanna investigate it anymore than I did before” Halston replies, pausing for a moment before continuing her statement, “but why would someone drag one of the corpses into hiding and leave the rest of the dining room like this?”
Squinting, Jenn sifts through Halston’s question before realizing how strange the act of such a thing would be, one action not appearing to correlate with another. The two women sharing a look, Jenn and Halston nod to each other, designating the discovery of whatever sight resides within as an additional responsibility to take on. Flashlights drawn with their guns ready, Jenn leads Halston through the tiled walkway and towards the main washing area.
As soon as the final corner is turned, both women force themselves to take a step back, the silence from within only furthering the nature of the truth left inside. “Are those undead?” Halston asks, her lip arched as Jenn’s mouth remains as tightly-shut as possible as their lights flash upon a pile of deceased. Her hand shaking, Jenn steadies the light over one of the most noticeable faces, the chilling expression of fear serving as a grim revelation.
“Those are most definitely not undead” Jenn responds, the pile of the dead not belonging to that of the reanimated, but rather, survivors that found themselves on the wrong side of the aftermath. “Who the fuck did this?” Halston asks, flashing her light back to the way they entered in the event they find themselves cornered. “I don’t know” Jenn replies, the sights leaving her with more questions than she entered with, “but I don’t wanna wait here in case we find out.”
The opportunity still available, Jenn leads Halston away, the deceased left to rest upon their grizzly pile as the women take their best chance to not end up in much the same fashion.
Laughing in amusement, Lou finds his response to being covered in the innards of the undead to be the opposite to that of Theo, who looks down the length of his body in disgust. “You said this worked for you right?” Theo asks, his eyes refusing to part from his body as he hears Lou chuckle, his enjoyment of this only growing with each moment. “It’s like an invisibility cloak!” Lou exclaims, continuing to wipe the guts over the length of the coat, “cover your nose and you’ll feel invincible!”
“You know how everyone used to think about the first person to discover milk?” Theo asks, Lou looking up at him in wonder as Theo continues, “why the guy was jerking a cow’s utters to begin with?” Thinking it over for a moment before going along with Theo’s direction, Lou awaits the follow-up. “Well” Theo replies, pausing for a moment before stretching his arms out, the intestines and mush dripping off his sleeves as he does so, “what the fuck were you bathing in zombie for!?”
Hands on his hips, the slop dropping from his sleeves as well, prompting Theo to nearly throw up. “Well, let’s see” Lou replies, comically standing in place with a superman pose outside the doors to an overrun viewing room, “is ‘protection’ a good enough answer?”
“No” Theo says sternly, Lou nearly falling over in laughter as Theo begins to wonder whether or not his childhood friend has lost his mind without him having known. Finally having applied the finishing touches, Lou backs away from the carved corpse before looking to Theo, his eyes asking the man if he’s ready. “If you’re not right about this, I’m going to haunt the fuck out of you” Theo reminds Lou, the man guaranteeing him that he’ll see freedom once more.
Taking in a deep breath, Lou prepares for what has become another common occurrence in the outbreak era of the world, the practice becoming as routine as another day on the job. Pulling the door open, the next wave of the undead immediately notice the man standing back and awaiting their departure, each fresh body scouting them out before moving on. One after another, the corpse’s fill out the halls, each new set of feet moving another ounce of clearance.
Suddenly, Lou and Theo begin to notice the undead scouting them for longer periods of time the more they move along, hisses and growls seeming to put them on high alert. Whispering for the man beside him, Theo gets Lou’s attention, the man staring back at him before following his eyes downward. Glancing at the floor, Lou finally comes to notice the bandages wrapped around his arm beginning to drip blood, the liquid having begun seeping through.
Realizing what this does to their cover, Lou takes initiative, whispering to the man behind him to wait for a moment before hurrying back to the elevator shaft. “What are you talking about?” Theo whispers, Lou’s demands not lining up with his original intent, sounding more like a goodbye than a direction. “You’ll see your moment when it gets here” Lou replies, Theo only further worrying what the man is trying to get at, “make sure none of them follow down and get everyone out of here.”
Before Theo can ask another question, Lou pushes the door forward, shoving Theo into the space beside the wall and pulling the door open again. Now cramped into this triangle assortment, Theo watches through the window slot as Lou waves his arms through the air, shouting at an angry horde and leading them further into the theater. Intending to shout, Theo realizes how tied his hands are, unable to speak without drawing the attention of the horde.
In an animated fashion, Lou pleads for the horde’s attention, a line of the undead following him out of sight, Theo left with only the option to watch the mass of undead stumble after his friend. Tossing his coat off, Lou rips the bandages from his arm and tosses them to the ground, the blood dripping from his newly-open wound making the coverings more dangerous to have on than off.
Finding himself at the end of a hallway, Lou is met with two different paths to take, one hallway to his left, and another to his right. Figuring strategy and chance to be equal in influence, Lou takes a right turn, further removing him from the way he entered. Without any further option, the man begins pushing in doors, eventually finding one he deems fruitful enough to depart the halls in favor of, disappearing into the bowels of the building as the horde continues to give chase.
“It’s fucking strange, bro” Terry replies, the knife in his hand swinging by his side as if it were just a casual accessory. “I’m gonna be honest” Jules replies, “I’m not paying attention to all this mess that much, I’m just thinking about that douchebag with Lou.” Laughing, Terry admits that he’s on the same wagon as Jules, the only difference being that he doesn’t want to make an issue with someone he doesn’t know enough about.
“None of us know who the fuck these dudes are except for Lou” Terry explains, Jules not finding any statement made that he doesn’t agree with, “I don’t know why Lou’s cool with this dude, but he is.”
Continuing to stroll through the grounds, Jules looks over to Terry, asking him whether or not he trusts Theo more or less now that Lou vouches for him. Without hesitation, Terry tells Jules that he’ll go along with whatever Lou says. “Maybe he’s got some faults, but the dude knows what he’s doing” Terry replies, “maybe some could think we’re giving him too much credit, but I don’t think we would have made it long with Wyatt in charge.”
In complete agreement, Jules continues to walk beside Terry, their conversation about Lou and Theo taking away from the conversation they could be having over the lack of viable storefronts. “Ninety percent of these places are all renovations” Terry exclaims, the few formerly operating storefronts appearing rare when the remaining majority appear as boarded-off sections all having been worked on for a future opening prior to the outbreak.
“I’m not opposed to going back” Jules admits, the lack of places even worth investigating depleting any hope of the treasures they hoped to uncover being present. “Let’s make it to the end of this wing, and then we’ll turn back” Terry suggests, noting only the small amount of ground left uncovered remaining ahead.
“Watch out” Terry calls, his hand held out against Jules’ chest as a straggling corpse stumbles into view, beginning to hiss at the moment it captures the pair in their sights. “We’ve got another dead one” Terry calls, Jules admitting that it’s nice to see something of note down this wing. “If nothing else, we don’t have to go back explaining why we spent our time here going for a walking the park” Jules jokes, Terry beginning to approach the body with his knife ready.
As he’s done plenty of times before now, Terry steps up, grabs the corpse by the most-stretched arm and buries his blade in it’s skull. Gingerly slumping it onto the ground, Terry notices something odd protruding from its back, a stain of dry blood running down the discolored skin from the point of entry. “What is that?” Jules asks, watching the man grab the tool by the handle and forcefully tear it out of the flesh.
“It’s a hook” Terry replies, holding it in his hand and inspecting it, the genuine metal stained a maroon color, shining off the reflection of the skylight above. “Hands up!” a shout hollers, four men, two in each direction aiming firearms in the direction of both men, who do as aggravatedly do as instructed upon being caught off guard.
“We’re not trouble” Terry exclaims, “we don’t want your stuff, we were just looking for supplies.” Chuckling, a hefty man with a beard continues to hold a rifle in their direction, laughing as if he were being told a joke. “Oh, you’re not coming for our shit, huh?” the man asks, “I don’t see why that fucking matters.”
“What the hell do you want?” Jules asks, his voice commanding a much less pacifist-like tone than Terry’s, simply intending on getting all of this settled and moving on. “Just do me a favor and shut the fuck up” the man calls, two of his enforcers putting handcuffs on the men, their hands restrained behind their backs. “I’m not a cop, so I’m sure this isn’t much of an issue, right?” the man jokes, Terry and Jules left unamused.
“Tough crowd, that’s fine” the man replies, ten seconds of laughless silence annoying him enough to step up to Terry and slap him in the face, watching him fall to the ground as Jules throws insults. “I wouldn’t start showing authority if I were you” the man continues, Jules staring at him in anger, “you don’t even have guns.”
“Typical liberal” a random survivor behind the pair says, Terry pushing himself back onto his knees as he looks back and replies. “Kiss my conservative ass, hick” Terry responds, a genuine laugh coming out of the original man, admitting that he can appreciate another man’s good joke. Dropping to a knee, the man stares into both Jules and Terry’s faces, a cocky grin spreading wide as he comes to his conclusion, admitting to the men that he looks forward to what comes next.
“Honestly” the man exclaims, “this is gonna be fun.”