Drops of water leaking from a set of pipes in the back of the room protruding through the harsh silence, Terry and Jules sit upon the dirty ground back-to-back, held together by thick rope. “I’m Rory, by the way” the leading figure of the set of survivors holding the pair hostage says as he finally introduces himself. “The rest of the lads are Mark, Victor and Shane” he concludes, pointing towards each with a blade before continuing to slice bits from an apple.
“Where you two coming from?” the man asks, licking a slice of the fruit from the edge of the knife, watching the expressions of the two shift. “What do you mean?” Jules asks, he and Terry refusing to speak unless told to, a sign of both defiance and amity. “We’re covered in dirt and you’re both clean aside from a few wrinkles” Rory replies, his point posing a fair stance, “you must have someplace to at least take a shower.”
“We don’t have anywhere” Terry replies, begrudgingly giving the man an answer, who immediately calls his bluff. “We haven’t had a place since a few days ago” Jules replies, “he’s not lying.” Gloves over his hands shredded from years of use, Rory looks at both men before swallowing the apple slice between his teeth, asking where they’re coming from once more.
“An old school on the skirt of LA” Terry replies, Rory’s glance towards Jules being redirected amongst the offer from his counterpart. “Got overrun for a second time a few days ago, we had to flee” Terry reiterates, looking back towards the lead scavenger, “I’m telling you, I ain’t lying.” Continuing to slowly chew his food before allowing the remains to glide down his throat, Rory tells the man that something about his statement fails to make sense.
“You mean to tell me that two of you have been hunkered down in a big ole’ school building since, what? This whole thing started?” Rory asks, Terry shrugging his shoulders. “Like I said, we got overrun for a second time” Terry replies, “we were lucky to have figured shit out the first time around.” Again shaking his head, Rory finds himself unable to trust Terry completely, the colors in the picture still not perfectly aligning with the paint on the pallet.
“Truth be told, I think I’d probably believe you if I was less focused” Rory explains, “but it’s hard to believe the two of you could control a horde when you don’t even show up to a mall with at least one gun.” Slicing another piece away, Rory places his teeth on the edge before taking his mouth away, admitting that Terry speaks a nearly convincing game. “You come in here with knives and a hook” Rory replies, “those aren’t the kinda tools used for crowd control.”
His bluff called once more, Terry thinks over a response, his tongue placed in the corner of his mouth before turning away from the man and looking up in refusal. “If you’re gonna try to latch onto everything thinking it’s a ‘gotcha’ moment, I’m not even gonna bother trying” Terry replies, immediately forcing curiosity over Rory’s face. “If there was ever a time to not give up trying, it would probably be now” Rory replies, taking the slice into his mouth this time.
“There’s no use when a guy doesn’t understand how a school is laid out” Terry replies, Rory immediately latching onto that statement, inquiring the step-by-step process of holding off a horde with a knife and a hook. Painting the picture for the man, Terry clarifies having taken the hook from the corpse’s back, the rest having been opportunity. Citing narrow hallways and an entire unused wing of the building, Terry clarifies that they simply trapped the horde and continued on.
“We didn’t need to kill anything, just pick our spots” Terry explains, “if you can’t figure out how the dead look at the concept of a doorknob, perhaps you’re not as focused as you claim.” Lips puckered, Rory takes off the final slice of his fruit, tossing the core against the back wall and nodding, returning to the toppled shelving he sat upon minutes prior. “So, you wanna grill me on how they got loose, or are you satisfied?” Terry asks, the confidence putting a smile on Rory’s face.
= 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 =
The sun beginning to set on the mall, Jenn and Halston return to the main center of the building, its lifeless interior shaded orange from the fading skies above. Upon taking the sights in for a moment, the girls return to the parking lot, the welcomed sight of the truck paired with the questionable lack of the other two-thirds of their group. “They not out yet?” Jenn calls, her arms extended as Ally emerges from the vehicle.
“No, you’re the first ones out since you left” Ally replies, the response not installing confidence in the returning women, who look towards each other as if to question whether or not to share their findings. “What did you see?” Ally asks, reading the shared glances well enough to know that at least some information is being withheld.
Following Jenn and Halston into the mall, Ally, Lee and Elsie take in the sights of the decaying complex, the pair of women quietly leading them down the west wing and into the dining hall. “This place looks like it hasn’t been touched in years” Elsie mutters, the state of the building unheard of for something simply left to the elements for little more than a month. Finally turning the final corner, the trio stumble upon the same pattern of smeared blood on the floor.
Bypassing the sight, Ally leads Lee and Elsie into the bathroom, finding the pile of deceased all stacked upon each other. Jaw dropped with her arm held over her face, shielding her nose from the stench of decay, Ally watches Lee approach the corpses, cautiously stretching his hand out towards one of the bodies. Finger outstretched, the man pulls the eyelid of the body open, revealing a pearly-white, glassy-eye remain indicative of a recent kill.
“Look at the bodies on the bottom” Lee calls, the rotting corpses buried beneath the pile in the worst state of the lot, “those have been dead for a month at least, this one definitely hasn’t.” Curious, Ally asks what Lee is trying to get at, the picture less obvious when painted to her than Jenn, Halston and Elsie. “It means these kills have taken part over a long stretch of time” Elsie replies, “some recent, some old… Means whoever did this has been hiding out here for a while.”
“So they could still be here?” Ally quickly asks, her worries beginning to rise as she glances back to Jenn and Halston, realizing what they all allowed the rest of the group to walk into. “Not only that, but these corpses are all from the living” Lee replies, pointing to the stab wounds to the head on most of the bodies, “these weren’t undead kills, these were straight up murders.”
Tensions mounting, Ally inquires where the remainder of the group went, splitting the remaining survivors into pairs. “You and Halston go looking for Lou and Theo” Ally directs, removing a pocket knife from her boot, “Lee, Elsie and I will go after Terry and Jules.” Their sights travelling from Ally and onto Theo’s counterparts, Jenn and Halston question the decision for a moment, their curiosity quelled when Ally doubles down on her plan.
“We’ll be fine, we all want the same thing after all” Ally replies, waving the girls to get searching before it becomes too late. “Come on, we don’t have much daylight left” Ally orders, the sacrifice to put her trust in them motivating Lee and Elsie to follow directions without question, following the woman’s lead as she directs them towards the decrepit wing of the mega-structure.
“I want the truth out of you!” Rory shouts, a heavy grunt originating from his throat as his fist rattles Terry’s jaw, forcing a line of spit intermixed with blood to slowly descend from Terry’s lip. “He’s telling you the truth, man!” Jules shouts, Rory striking the interjecting man in the abdomen for his interruption causing Jules’ efforts to halt. “We’re alone, bro” Terry replies, his arms restrained by Mark and Victor as Shane keeps Jules from retaliating with a gun held to his head.
Another punch following, Rory continues to ask the question, Terry’s face beginning to welt in response to the abuse, the inner refusal to give into Rory’s demands fueling a defiant rage. “Eat shit, bro” Terry replies, spitting at the ground before Rory’s shoe, the disrespect further fueling the anger the man holds. His arm loading back in preparation for another strike, Rory watches Terry brace for the impending shot before the sound of a voice finds its way within.
“Get o-!” Terry attempts to shout, Rory cutting him off by shoving his hand over his mouth and listening for a follow-up. “We’ve gotta head out now!” the voice calls out again, enticing the smile on Rory’s face to stretch an evil way. Without wasting another moment, Rory directs a shot to the bridge of Terry’s nose, putting him under as the same is done to Jules, leaving the door open for the savage pack of wanderers to slowly approach their new prey.
Cautiously returning to the run down storefront, Rory directs his men towards the windows, informed of three survivors, two of which baring firearms. Nodding, Rory sends the signal for Shane and Victor to depart, he and Mark arming themselves before leaving cover. “Hands up, you’re surrounded!” Rory shouts, he and Mark covering the opposite side of Victor and Shane, forcing Ally to place her hands in the air as Elsie and Lee draw their weapons in each direction.
“There’s two of you with guns, and four of us with guns” Rory calls out, “even if you’re a good shot, it doesn’t take much for this to be a fatal mistake to make.” Surprised at being outnumbered, Ally is left to approach things from an analytical perspective, looking for something to buy time with the savages over. Her eyes darting to each inch of Rory’s gear, Ally notices a deep stain on the left side of his jacket, putting the puzzle together in her head.
“Did you make that pile back there?” Ally asks, beginning to notice similar staining on Mark’s apparel as well, “the stack of bodies over near the cafe?” A smirk, Rory congratulates the woman on her awareness, joking that she’d have been rewarded a cookie if they weren’t amidst an outbreak. “Why’d you do it?” Ally asks, Rory intrigued by her inquiry, “what did they do to you?”
With a chuckle, Rory replies with a simple, “nothing” as if he were proud of his work, “this is a fight for survival, girl… Ain’t no room for error nowadays.” Rory’s reasoning sending a chill down the length of her spine, Ally begins to understand the mindset of the individual she’s dealing with, beginning to fear that common ground or typical reasoning has been thrown out the window before it could even be introduced.
“So you didn’t think they had anything valuable of use?” Ally asks, continuing to hold out hope for reasoning to be found, “didn’t think it’d be easier to grow numbers in this world than decrease them?” his lips puckered, Rory eyes the woman’s chest, noticing the jewelry hanging from around her neck. “That the Christian cross?” Rory asks, noticing the symbol long enough to nearly reach the part between her cleavage.
“No one would wear such a big cross if they weren’t, I guess” Rory replies, answering his own question, “I assume that means you’re familiar with the concept of mortality?” Beginning to choose her words carefully, Ally responds with a short, “I know of it” to humor Rory, hoping to keep Rory preoccupied, assuming the standoff to last as long as Rory decides for it to.
“I don’t like to look much the part, but I used to practice that shit when I was a kid, too” Rory replies, “it stopped making sense after a while, and now… Now it just seems silly.” With a deep breath, Ally asks the man for his reasoning, explaining that continuing to be afforded life appears as the most undisputed proof of his existence. With a laugh, Rory asks if the woman has recently stopped taking medication, poking fun at the optimistic thought.
“How’re you gonna tell me some all-powerful fuck upstairs would let something like this happen?” Rory asks, “we’re human beings, we evolve with the culture.” Eyes squinting, Ally begins to slowly find interest in the line of communication, challenging Rory’s standpoint. “Didn’t he give us free will?” Ally asks, “if there was any chance in culture, wouldn’t it only be possible because we decided that it needed to be?”
Tilting his head to the side, Rory genuinely asks whether or not Ally believes in what she’s repeating to him. “To an extent, I do” Ally replies, “I’m not the biggest practicing Catholic, but I think I’d blame this violent culture we established even before this all went down on us instead of the ‘big guy’.”
“He wouldn’t have let it get this far” Rory replies, Ally immediately asking him why he wouldn’t have. “Wasn’t the whole idea of him to be that he tested us on whether we were good or bad?” Ally asks, “why would he interrupt his test just to feed us the answers?” Lips puckered, Rory shakes his head, admitting that he can’t see a line of dialogue with Ally working in any way other than one that defies logic.
“Oh really?” Ally asks, her hands dropping and the pocket knife in her hand being tossed aside, the woman walking over to a bench on the opposite end of the wing. Taking a seat, Ally looks back to the man after taking one of two seats facing each other. “Put your gun down and try me” Ally responds, a look of amazement spreading across Rory’s face. “Deal” Rory replies, his gun placed to his feet before he approaches the chair, taking the seat opposite Ally and letting her begin.
On his lonesome at the bottom of on flight of stairs, an undead begins to notice the sound of footsteps coming closer as the source descends. Finally, the undead catches the sight of Lou, his injured arm held behind his head as his free one reaches out, taking the corpse by the forehead and crushing its skull against the cement wall at the bottom. With a moment to catch his breath, Lou overhears the sound of the horde finally making their way to the top of the staircase.
“Giving me little room for error, huh?” Lou mutters beneath his breath, beginning to return to his descent until he comes up with another idea. The grunting from the man as he fights past the pain of removing his shirt and tying it around the open injury beginning to heighten the horde’s desire to catch up, Lou soon begins taking the bottom of his foot to the corpse’s chest cavity.
Breaking the bones within well, Lou rips at the weakened flesh, revealing a gross underside that Lou quickly forces himself to bare. With one hand, the man slathers the guts within across his chest, back and stomach, making sure to cover every inch of his skin as the horde grows nearer. Now wearing the innards like a shirt, Lou takes the moment to lose his lunch where he stands before slowly continuing onward.
Their weapons ready, Jenn and Halston slowly walk deeper into the bowels of the mall, cautious to leave any scene unchecked. Her finger pressed to her lips, Halston looks to Jenn and points to her own ear, the faint sound of heavy breathing coming from a corner of the wing. Looking around, Jenn spots an open elevator shaft, the sound of the struggles clearly resonating from that direction.
Their weapons held at neck-level, Jenn and Halston quickly approach the shaft, standing on each side of the doors and preparing themselves for whatever appears from within. Pressing her elbow against the structure’s frame, Jenn puts her foot out and forces the door open, the empty space within unsettling once the sound only grows louder. “Come out, now!” Jenn calls, the sound of struggle above turning into a fearful shock, only to be followed by a cry of human error.
Slipping from his position on the floor above, Theo falls from the second level and crashes into the elevator roof below, quickly continuing to drop through the open hole he and Lou left behind. Calling his name out in confusion, Jenn helps Theo to his feet, the man having escaped without injury, but not without suspicion. “Where the fuck is Lou?” Halston asks, her trust of Theo having taken a fall before it could even begin as soon as he and Terry began the morning off on a sour note.
Despite her lack of trust in the man, Halston patiently waits for the man to catch his breath before hearing his explanation of events. “We wanted to see what was left behind in the theater section” Theo admits through bated breaths, “but we booked it when we saw the horde up there.” Demanding Theo get past the pleasantries, Jenn is forced to bare the remainder of the story.
“We covered ourselves in those corpse guts and tried to go through the emergency exits, but Lou started bleeding through his bandages” Theo explains, “then he ditched me and ran off.” Looking towards her other half, Jenn admits to Halston that the story sounds a lot like something Lou would do. “Yeah, of course it’s something Lou would do” Halston admits, “but who else would know what Lou would do other than his questionable childhood friend?”
Making a fair point, Halston finds her stance immediately depleted when Theo reminds her that he and Lou never had a history of burying themselves in corpse-guts prior to their reunion. Looking back to Halston, Jenn’s eyebrows lift, suggesting her belief in Theo’s story, the conversation immediately turning into a quest to find Lou.
“The moment you lose faith in something is the moment everything else comes into question” Ally states, Rory intently listening to the point made, “how is that not the question we ask?” Hand pressed against his knee, Rory opens his mouth to follow the statement, only to overhear the subtle shouts called from the depths of the mall, a voice sounding like Jenn’s calling the names of all those missing within her group.
Grabbing Ally by the arm, Rory holds the woman against him, hand covering her mouth as Mark, Victor and Shane all hold their weapons towards Lee and Elsie. “Drop your weapons!” Rory shouts, his voice responding before anyone can come within view. “We’ve got your friends and bad things will happen if you don’t do as we say!” Rory continues, Jenn, Halston and Theo all turning the corner with their hands held high.
“We didn’t come here for trouble” Jenn replies, hiding a smile deep down as she notices the faces of each savage appear with the look of increasing paranoia. “How many more of you are there?” Rory calls, Jenn responding in few words that there’s only who he can see. “Bullshit!” Rory replies, his intention of debating having turned into the tone of a man having felt betrayed by his own incompetence, “your friend tried telling me the same thing!”
“Did our friend attack you?” Jenn asks, Rory responding with an honest refusal, replying in the same fashion when Jenn asks if Ally, Lee or Elsie did either. “Why would they tell people that have held them against their will the truth?” Jenn asks, “it doesn’t seem like you’re very honest or trustworthy people.”
“They’re not!” a voice shouts from the depths of the building, the faces of every surviving individual within the halls turning with surprise. Within seconds, the sound of a metal door being quickly slammed against its framing begins to put the groups on edge, Rory immediately demanding to know what’s happening. “It sounds like my boy here had a plan” Theo replies, the surprise on his face met with a look of enjoyment.
“Who’s your boy?” Rory asks, the sound of the slamming metal originating from the emergency exit behind him, but the full force of the remaining group left in the opposite direction. “A pretty makeshift motherfucker” Theo replies, Rory immediately looking back and forth, his eyes setting on the door behind him and the numbers before him. “You scared, bro?” Terry asks, having emerged from the broken storefront to retrieve Rory’s weapon whilst Jules stands behind him.
“From the way my blurry as sees it, you probably should be” Terry exclaims, Rory’s paranoia increasing as he demands the figure creating the conflict behind him show himself. Within moments, the sound of heavy footsteps tapping against the concrete stairs begins to appear, each step followed by a pause. “These your friends!?” Rory calls out, the paranoia only increasing as the horror-movie sounds continue without answer.
“Show yourself or I’ll break this chick’s neck, I swear!” Rory shouts, removing his hand from the woman’s mouth and repositioning them. “Lou, it’s not great out here!” Ally calls, admitting the situation to be less than favorable, prompting a silence from within the stairwell the moment those words begin to leave Ally’s mouth.
An extended silence following, tensions remain where they were left, anxiety coursing through Rory’s veins before the door slowly creeks open, a muck-covered Lou stumbling out. Hand pressed against the door, Lou kicks the door-stopper down and lets his arms hang, the hissing and groaning from behind him only helping to further the serial killer-like scene. “Let her go” Lou replies, Rory shaking his head, demanding Lou order his group to stand down.
“He’s scared Lou” Terry calls out, Theo admitting from the back that he does indeed look rather creepy. “Is he?” Lou asks, looking towards Terry before slowly stumbling forward, Rory instinctively backing away the closer Lou gets. “He probably should be” Lou replies, the horde of undead slowly swarming out from the stairwell, Rory’s eyes shooting open at the sights.
“He didn’t choose the right people to pick a fight with” Lou concludes, standing in place as the horde catches up, Rory’s eyes nearly falling out of his head as the army of the dead walk around him, ignoring his presence and aiming for the living. “Open fire” Lou declares, Terry, Lee and Elsie taking out Rory’s savages in succession, leaving Rory to staggeringly glance back at his own army falling.
Jaw dropped, Rory accidentally loses his grip on Ally, who pulls away from Rory and kicks him backwards, Lou having emerged from the horde to catch the murderous deviant. “Game over, buddy” Lou whispers, having kept a rib bone from the undead he bathed within the guts of and buried it within Rory’s kidney. Changing positions, Lou holds his hand over Rory’s mouth and aims him towards the horde, waiting for the dead to catch up before leaving them to their meal.
“And the dead take their revenge” Lou mutters to himself, watching Rory collapse beneath the pile of the dead now piling atop the fatally wounded meal. His job done, Lou nods towards his group to retrieve the weaponry and return for their vehicle. “We’ve still gotta get to the coast” Lou exclaims, declaring Ally as the designated driver once more and leaving fate up to the hands of the docks.
Returning to their vehicle, the group returns to the road, Lou and Theo stationed in the back of the truck with Elsie, Lee, and Terry. “Good call to pick up the dude’s gun when you did” Theo utters to Terry, “it was bad ass.” Looking back to the man, Terry informs Theo that he still doesn’t like him any more than he did this morning. “We ain’t friends, dude” Terry replies, “don’t get that twisted up in your head.”
Nodding to himself, Theo accepts the improper timing, the escape from the mall itself not having wiped the fact that Theo has yet to be seen as trustworthy in the eyes of most. “I don’t know you, I don’t know what you fuckers did before all of this began” Terry clarifies, “and just ‘cause you ain’t fucked us over yet, don’t mean you ain’t gonna fuck us over at some point.”
“Alright, fine” Theo replies, “had Lou not been with you in those woods, we would’ve robbed and left you all for dead, so I get it.” Both parties nodding, Terry looks back to the man, offering him a piece of advice. “The only reason we’re cool with you is because Lou vouches for you” Terry responds, “so if you really wanna prove you aren’t some shady assholes, don’t take that privilege for granted.”
Accepting that fact, Theo comes to an agreement with Terry, admitting that it’ll take some time before any proper integration is made. “Most important thing is that we all made it out of there” Theo exclaims, looking towards Lou with a smile, “and it’s all thanks to this son of a bitch and his horror-movie shit.”
Patting his friend on the knee, Theo notices his head resting against the top of the cab, having taken a seat atop the edge of the truck bed. Still smelling of the decease, the shirtless Lou sits wiped off of his undead-coverage, looking sickly and frail. “You good, Lou?” Terry asks, the man lifting his head up and nodding as if he had just woken up, wiping the exhaustion from his face as he leans from one side to another.
“You really don’t look so good, man” Terry explains, Theo standing from his spot and holding the man’s eyelids open, only for him to disappear over the edge in a moment. “Holy shit!” Theo exclaims, slamming his fist on the hood of the cab, “stop the fucking truck!” The mostly smooth-roadway offering no sudden bumps or potholes along the way, no explanation other than his condition explains the reasoning behind Lou’s collapse from the truck.
His shirtless body skidding and rolling across the pavement, Lou comes to a stop, face-down as the truck’s tires burn to a halt. The first to leap off the bed of the vehicle, Theo and Terry race over to the man, checking for signs of life the moment they reach him. “What the fuck hapened!?” Ally asks she she and Jenn dash over to help save the man’s life.
“I was checking his eyes and he just fell over!” Theo shouts, “I think he passed out!” In a daze, Ally ponders whether or not he remains breathing, Terry hearing his lungs fill with air despite the weaker pulse. “He’s got a pulse, but it’s weak” Terry exclaims, Theo smacking the sides of the man’s head as he clammers for the man to show any sign of consciousness. “We’ve gotta get him in the truck!” Terry calls out, Theo reminding them to be weary of a neck injury.
“The last thing we need to do is paralyze him by moving too quickly!” Theo exclaims, Halston rushing over with a neckbrace taken from terry’s residence. Knowing how to use it, Theo wraps the brace around Lou’s neck and assists Ally, Jenn, Halston and Terry in bringing the body back into the truck bed. “We’ve gotta get to that boat now!” Theo exclaims, ordering Terry to hold Lou steady as Ally steps on the gas, flooring the truck and its inhabitants towards their final destination.