Season Three Finale
Parking his car and slamming the door shut, Emilio strolls up to the fences of Sheol Center and walks over the gates having been taken down by the convoy. Picking up a gun from beside a dead body, Emilio takes aim and fires at whatever he finds dressed in black, dropping one body after another in a hidden rage with the intent of simply killing. As he casually strolls his way through the streets of Sheol Center, listening into the gunfire on the other side of the lake, he comes across a convoy member critically wounded, but not yet dead.
Pleading for help, the convoy member looks at Emilio and tries to crawl away, recognizing him as not one of their own. Taking a sadistic enjoyment out of the torture of this man, Emilio plants his foot on the wounded man’s bullet-riddled knee, putting force on it and snapping the bone beneath like a twig. Hearing the running footsteps of people behind him, Emilio turns around and takes aim, firing at two convoy members altered by the screaming and rendering them a pile of blood and bones.
Dragging himself away in hopes of finding a miracle, the convoy man senses Emilio returning and pleads for mercy, only to be met with a curbstomp into the asphalt below, breaking teeth and many bones in his face. Silenced, the guard’s groans for mercy turn into whispering breaths as Emilio stomps the man’s head in the rest of the way to death before exclaiming, “there’s no such thing as mercy anymore” and walking off.
Spotting someone disappearing behind a cardboard sign, Emilio takes chase, well behind the figure but managing to catch up with every step taken up. From the top of the stairwell, bullets can be overheard adding to the mix below as Emilio continues his ascent. His target just out of reach, Emilio follows it into a shack doorway and shoves it forward just as it fires off a single shot.
Taking aim, Salem looks at Emilio in surprise before noticing Arsenal lying in a pool of his own blood from the convoy’s gunshot. Looking at the sights, Emilio takes out his frustration on the convoy member, taking a cord and wrapping it around his throat, squeezing before slamming his head into the desk, keeping the mixture before chucking him against the wall. “Emilio!” Salem shouts, alerting the man to the guard’s return to his feet, taking aim at Emilio before the man in question swipes it out of his hands and tosses it down the mountainside.
After a few strikes, Emilio grabs a hold on the man’s shirt without question and holds him over the lip of the platform. “Please! I’m sorry! I swear!” the man pleads, only for whatever sniping post finds itself on the opposite side to put three bullets into his back, slowly inching him closer to death before it finally consumes him. Having spotted the sniper of the other edge, Salem fires a shot and buries it in the back of his head, allowing for Emilio to drop the guard through the opening and watch his body roll down the mountainside before coming to a stop at the bottom, mangled and broken like twisted metal from a car wreck.
“Emilio?” Salem calls again, having said his name what feels like a thousand times, only for this occurrence to be spliced with a calm, eerie rest in the air unrivaled by even the flurry of gunfire across the water. Looking to his left at the woman beyond taken aback by his presence, Emilio picks drops to his stomach and takes over Arsenal’s post, laying beside Salem and firing one shot after another down at whatever he can see. Looking at the man going to work like he was taking over for his shift, Salem slowly returns to her spot and joins the man in the gunshow, picking off whatever she can, whilst glancing over at him every free chance she gets, perplexed by what exactly she just bared witness to.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Hurrying for a place to take cover in, Tyler and Angela quickly come across Reggie, embroiled in a gunfight easily won with their additional help. “Come on!” Tyler shouts, directing the man to join them as the hurry around the back of the building. Firing off a shot every few yards, the trio duck into the courtroom and close the door behind themselves, taking the moment to breath and survey the scene outside, watching random people just fire at each other without concern for the others around them.
“These guys are fighting like it’s normal for them” Reggie says, catching his breath and looking through the basement windows. Just outside he watches Alicia and Franklin wailing at whatever moves. Sneaking up on one of the guards, Alicia slits his throat whilst Franklin shoots the man beside him, dropping them as if they were the cleanup crew. “Left!” Alicia declares, turning around one massive stone pillar to find Jack and Lauren charging in their same direction.
“Duck!” Jack shouts, watching the opposite couple do as instructed and allow Jack to level three of the guards in quick succession, allowing them to follow in Jack and Lauren’s direction. “Pick it up!” Jack shouts, directing Lauren to a better firearm whilst he notices a grenade casually beside the guard. Pocketing it, the four continue moving before being forced to duck behind a rock by oncoming gunfire.
From within the courtroom, Reggie sends off a few bullets, taking down the impending threat coming the foursome’s way. Looking around the corner, Alicia spots Reggie with a thumbs up before sending one right back at him. “We’ve got to figure out how we’re getting out of here before it’s too late” Jack states, reminding everyone that John could look to set the nuke off at any moment. “Any plans?” Franklin asks, catching his breath as Lauren points out a speedboat just out. “If we’re meeting Cam and Heather on Long Island, we can take that think up north and cut around the area if necessary.”
“We should do it now” Alicia says, suggesting they abandon the fight. “This place isn’t going back to what it was, it’s only a matter of when, I’d suggest we not get caught up in that” the woman argues, making a good enough case to bring both Franklin and Lauren on board. As the final man opposed to the idea, Jack surrenders, suggesting they’ve made better decisions than he has.
Stumbling down a wet, unstable patch of bog, the four leap into the boat and put the keys in the ignition, starting the engine and driving off. Being forced to duck and cover from gunfire, the four just barely manage to get out of range for most of the guns on the ground. “To our left!” Franklin shouts, making everyone aware of the convoy boat on the water with the same idea as them. As both boats begin to notice the existence of company, the convoy boat begins opening fire, forcing the four to duck behind what they can.
“Everyone down!” Jack shouts, removing his hand from the wheel and pulling the pin on the grenade. Standing from cover, Jack launches the explosive and takes a bullet in the shoulder for his efforts, dropped back into cover just as the boat off to their side is engulfed in flames, bursting like a balloon as the four keep up their break to freedom.
“You good?” Lauren asks, Alicia taking over as the captain, watching him nod in approval as he picks wraps what he can get his hands on over the wound to stop the bleeding, having succeeded in escaping the inevitable downfall of Sheol in the process. Back in the courtroom, Reggie, Tyler and Angela are still stranded, keeping their eye out for passing convoy guards they easily dispose of.
“Jack, Lauren, Alicia and Franklin got away” Reggie states, putting a smile on Tyler and Angela’s faces. “Good, we’ve got to start figuring out the same” Tyler replies, met with the same hesitation as John did from Reggie, refusing to leave until he’s been guaranteed there will be no need for him to go down with the ship. “Reggie, we can’t even get to the main lobby right now. It’s a waste of time worrying about how to kamikaze at this point. “Tyler, I get that you don’t want to accept that people you love are going to die tonight, but I’m not going to live in that world with you.”
“Reggie, it’s noble. I’m not going to deny that, but it’s not even looking possible right now. Let’s figure out our alternative” Tyler says, met with further resistance, with Reggie stating that his only alternative is to go down putting up a fight. “I’ve already accepted that tonight’s my last night on earth, Ty… Don’t start thinking the same of yourself, it doesn’t need to be yours. Figure out how to get yourself and the miss out of here before you start worrying about how to spare me.”
“Jess!” John shouts, hoping to hear a response amidst the hale of gunfire being sent back and forth. Hurrying across the lot, John is stopped in his tracks when he spots a convoy guard just too late, lifting his gun to fire as the bullet leaves the guard’s gun, only be spared by a well-placed shoulder tackle from Katie, who draws her gun amongst impact with the ground and drops the guard on the spot.
“You saved my ass!” John shouts, helped to his feet by the woman who claims that it’s what she does best. Running off together, they interject themselves amidst a firefight and bring down whatever guards they come across, getting a few grazes along the way for their efforts. Behind cover, Jess and Meghan appear, having been reunited with each other before being forced to hurry off to whatever cover they can find.
“In here, come on!” Tyler shouts, directing the four into the courtroom before seeling the door shut behind them, taking a moment to breathe and catch their breath. “Is it thinning out?” Tyler asks, watching John confirm the suspicions, stating that they’re running out of time. “I’’m trying to tell them that, but they won’t listen” Reggie says, telling John that he’s made peace with dying already and the pair won’t accept it.
“We’ve gotta start getting people out of here” John states, “this place isn’t going to last much longer.” As the dread of knowing that they’re putting forth a losing fight again, mirroring what happened with the downfall of the New World Order at times, John stands firm by his belief. “I’m not letting you all die for this” the man says, telling Reggie to follow him and the rest to get out and get far away.
“I’m coming with you” Jess shouts, telling Katie and Meghan to lead Tyler and Angela to the cars. Storming up the hill and putting bullets in the convoy guards atop it, dodging their bodies as they roll down the incline, John, Jessica and Reggie make it back to the main grounds, firing a few shots off, hitting a few and missing another few.
“Let’s go!” John shouts, his command suddenly cut short as a bullet from the barrel of a sniper rifle beyond the treeline grazes his cheek and allows him to fire a shot in the dark, nailing the hidden guard as if it took no effort. “Reggie!” Jess shouts, watching the man just behind John drop to the ground as the grazed bullet managed to find him right between the eyes, killing him instantly.
“Fuck!” John shouts, another bullet firing from the treeline and ripping through his shoulder blade. Turning to fire, Jess drops the sniper on the first try as well, helping John into the main lobby and away from any further potential gunfire as Tyler and his group hurry to help. “What happened?” Tyler asks, only getting a simple recap of snipers having gotten Reggie. “So we’re back to square one” Angela asks, annoyed once more as they help tend to John’s wound.
Ascending the staircase to the radio control tower, Troy bursts through the door and finds both Salem and Emilio stationed at the observation deck. “We’ve gotta go right now, they’re setting up for the detonation” Troy states, watching Salem take her things and begin to leave, only to notice Emilio remaining, blowing up whatever crate he can get his eyes on whilst picking snipers out from wherever he can spot a reflection through the dark.
“Emilio, we’ve got to go” Troy repeats, met with a simple goodbye. “Emilio, let’s go” Troy repeats, again met with another simple answer, this time with a straight-forward no. “I’m parked outside the fence, take the car and get out of here” Emilio states, tossing the duo the keys as they simply look at each other, trying figure out what they’re going to do about this.
“Emilio, we’re not leaving without you” Salem replies, met with assurance that they’ll head out eventually, and the demand for Emilio to come along is only a result of novelty. Refusing to let Emilio continue to think that they’d just leave him behind, Salem places her equipment back down and rejoins the firefight, sending off one round after another before Troy does the same, taking a seat on the sofa beside the two and catching a breather.
“Seriously, you don’t need me…” Emilio states, “Get out.” Still met with stubborn refusal, Emilio grows annoyed, taking his eyes away from the scope and demanding the pair leave right now. “We’re not leaving without you, Emilio” Troy states, firm by his belief with Salem doing nothing to convince him otherwise.
“Guys, I’m a lost cause to the both of you. Go get someone else and get your asses on the road” Emilio demands, ignored by both as they continue on as if nothing happened. “Emilio, I get losing your husband sucks, but we’re not going to let you cope with it by killing yourself” Salem shouts, met with blissful ignorance. “Pretend I don’t exist, get out of here before you get us all killed” Emilio demands, watching both survivors continue to refuse to leave him behind.
“My husband is dead, he hid cancer from me for a month, and he committed suicide without saying goodbye or even leaving a note. I’m not mourning, I’m killing for the sake of killing, there are just bad guys for me to target instead of people like you.” Watching the man return to his fire as they’re forced to watch him continue to refuse another day, the pair do the same, willing to go down with the ship beside him.
Realizing that the pair will not break, Emilio gives in and picks up his equipment, telling the pair to get their shit and get moving as they leave the radio control tower behind. Having reached the bottom of the stairs as the wind begins picking up, Emilio takes his rifle and leads the charge, putting whatever bullets he can into whomever he can spot. “Just ahead” Emilio shouts, climbing over the downed fencing and taking out a few more guards on the way out, the trio board the car and make a break for it, leaving Sheol behind as the remainder of their group continues to let their fate hang in the balance.
“Emilio?” Troy calls out, telling the man to pull over the car once they’ve reached the main road. “What’s wrong?” Emilio asks, unclasping his seatbelt in preparation of leaving the car before Troy hands him a note. Slowly pulling it from the man’s fingers, Emilio unfolds the paper and reads a note from Bill, directed to him.
“It was too hard to imagine forcing you to watch me do this, so I just decided to tell you how much I love you and want you to be happy. I don’t want to imagine what you’ll have to go through after you find me, if you find me, but I want you to know that you’re stronger than whatever it is, and you’ll push through.”
Thanking Troy, keeping his emotions under reps, Emilio puts the car in drive and wipes away the few tears being brought out. Noticing the emotional importance of the note, Salem stares at the man and smiles, knowing the decision she and Troy made turned out to be a good one, even if it meant the pain would have to be felt for a little while longer.
“I’m fine, it just stings” John states, trying to thwart the group’s attempt at assessing his wounds whilst the gunfire outside begins to dramatically lessen from what it started out as. “Meghan and Katie, you guys go head out now whilst the gunfire’s dying down” John directs, demanding they start moving now. Heading through the main doors, Meghan and Katie make a break for the front gates, ducking behind a car parked on the side of the road as gunfire in their direction intensifies.
“You’ve got one to your-” Katie begins, only to be met with Meghan immediately putting down the sniper in question. Hurrying out of cover, the duo prys open one of the convoy doors in hopes of taking over the vehicle, only to be confronted with a scared teenage kid surrendering himself and pleading for them not to kill him. “Get out” Meghan replies, demanding the kid exit before he kicks the gun from her hand and makes a leapp at Katie, who immediately sends a bullet through his skull from beneath his chin and joins Meghan in the front seat.
We’ve got to go south, down towards Long Island” Katie directs, watching the woman back the vehicle up and hit another convoy van in the process. “Great driver?” Katie asks, met with an enthusiastic and emphatic ‘nope’ from the woman, giving Katie all the assurance needed that John made the right choice in partnering with her.
As they reach the bottom of the road, they’re brought to a halt by an oncoming car, which stops just in time to avoid a head-on collision. Illuminated by the headlights, Emilio, Salem and Troy find themselves at a standoff, with the trio exiting the vehicle in favor of joining Meghan and Katie. “I’ll take over driving this thing” Salem says, switching spots with Meghan much to the group’s joy.
As they begin to start driving, they’re slowed again by another convoy van, this time with Jack and Lauren driving as Alicia and Franklin keep lookout through open van doors. “Small world!” Salem jokingly says, opening the van doors to show the remainder of the group in tow. “Who’s left?” Lauren asks, finally getting clarification.
“We lost Reggie” Katie states from the passengers seat, “Louis, too.” From the opposite vehicle, Jack asks for clarification on who’s left in there. “John, Jess, Tyler and Angela, but John’s shot” Katie states, watching Jack conflict with himself. “You said they’re in the main lobby?” Jack clarifies, switching the van into the next gear. “We were the first ones out, we’ll go back and pick them up. Head south for a few miles and stop when you get to the intersection leading into Long Island. We’ll meet you there and head off the rest of the way.”
Understood, the two convoy vehicles separate and head in their opposite directions, with Jack’s convoy returning to ensure no man is left behind.
“What happens now?” Angela asks, with John ensuring that this place cannot be left standing. After a brief moment of calmness, John looks to Jessica and tells her to keep Amy safe. “John, you’re not doing this. We’ll figure out another way” Jess implies, only for her husband to assure her that there is no other way. “If we leave this place standing, whatever’s left of their convoys will come down and cease control again. Eventually, it’ll be like nothing ever happened here” John states, implying that if there is anyone who’s going to go down with the ship, it should be the person that declared war first.
“I got us into this mess, and now I’ll get you guys out of it” John concludes, forcing himself to his feet and telling Jess that there are no other options. “They could have backup on their way right now and we wouldn’t know about it until it’s too late. We’d all be the main target if they got the chance. I can’t let that happen.”
“John, you’re not doing this. I don’t care what you think your moral code demands of you, but it’s not convincing me. Let’s get your ass out of here and get moving.” Refusing to let her husband take any steps towards that chamber door, Jess blocks his way, refusing to budge and holding her stance as best she can despite John’s best efforts. Closing his eyes at the sight, Tyler grits his teeth as Angela holds his hand, listening to John’s desperate pleas for Jess to let him do what needs to be done. “Tell Amy I’m sorry that I couldn’t come home, okay?” John asks, refusing to acknowledge Jessica’s efforts, continuing to voice his request until he’s finally placed his hand on the doorknob.
“Tyler, a little help?” John asks, watching the man let out a deep exhale before pulling Jessica aside, despite her trying to fight her way out of the hold. Holding his hand out, John watches Tyler trying to fight Jess back and goes to hug her one final time. “It’s all going to be okay, Jess” John states, trying to ease her struggle before she gives up and welcomes the embrace.
His voice growing soft, telling Jess that it’s time to let go, John squeezes the hold as tight as he can in hopes of relishing these moments in his dying breaths. “You’re the strongest woman I’ve ever met, okay? You’re going to get through this, and you’re going to raise Amy because you’re a fucking badass and that’ll never change, okay?” John continues telling Jessica to let this be okay. Refusing to respond to any of it, Jessica just embraces the hug, knowing that it’ll take something far more out of her control to stop John from doing what he sets out to do, and this is one thing she’ll never be able to stop him from.
“Don’t do this” Jessica mutters, the tears from her eyes soaking John’s dirt covered shirt as the embrace reaches its fullest. “Always remember that it’s going to be o-” John says, stopped by the sounds of metal clambering around behind him. Curious as to what it is, John turns around to look behind him, where he notices Tyler having used the backup chain lock to ensure no one could take his place without his permission.
“Tyler, get out of there” John demands, watching the man stare at him before his attention is ripped away by Angela, who rushes to the door and pleads for him not to do what she knows he’s about to do. “Angela, I need you to listen to me very carefully, okay?” Tyler asks, watching her refuse any goodbyes, telling him not to do this to himself. “I’ve already made my mind up” Tyler says, laughing about it as he points over to John, “That motherfucker would be leaving his wife and kid behind if I didn’t!”
Refusing to let the trio’s final glimpse of him be with an expression of fear for what’s coming next, instead opting to let their final memories of him be a smile and a humorous outlook on the world that comes next. “Angela, I promised that I woul always keep you safe. What John’s saying is right, they come back and they get their hands on this shit, they’ll hunt us down until we’re all gone… But It shouldn’t be John having to do this, and it shouldn’t be either of you.”
Unable to get anything more than her hand through the slots in the door, and unable to pry the metal away, Angela finds herself helpless to do anything more than take Tyler’s hand as he holds it tightly. “I’m not afraid. I went out with a smile. Never forget that, okay?” Tyler says, his free hand caressing her cheek as Jack’s SUV rolls up to the main grounds, honking for them to board.
“Go! Be alive and enjoy it!” Tyler says, smiling as he spares the tears for a time when no one can see them. Returning to Tyler and shaking his hand, John thanks him for what he’s doing, thanking him for being more of a man than he was. “You just go keep everyone safe and not let this happen again, alright?” Tyler asks, watching John respond with a simple “Yes, captain” before returning to the vehicle waiting for him. “I’ll give you fifteen minutes!” Tyler shouts, earning a salute from John as he and Jessica board, giving Angela a few further seconds to look at the man that offered her a new lease on life for the final time.
Climbing into the van, Angela keeps her eyes glued on Tyler before he and the main lobby of Sheol fall out of sight, allowing for Tyler to begin letting his tears welter, still with a smile knowing that he got to go out in his own way. After about twenty minutes of sitting alone, waiting for the moment to be right, Tyler pulls free his firearm and looks down at both the crate of explosives and the nuke itself.
As the gunfire begins ceasing, and the final bullets devour the air, Tyler holds his gun up to the crate with a smile on his face, wiping away the final few tears left to be had before taking in a deep breath and letting it go. Ready to meet his maker, Tyler nods his head and locks on, muttering to himself as his final words, “Goodnight, Sheol” before pulling the trigger.
A few miles away, both group member-filled convoy trucks having reunited, the survivors are treated to what was the start of Tyler’s final sight, a massive eruption visible from their hilltop, engulfing what was once Sheol in a cloud of fire and smoke. Head veered away from the sight, Angela accepts the gracious shoulder pat from Troy, who does his best to comfort her in this time.
A deep breath filling his lungs, John’s eyes bare the reflection of the reaching inferno in the distance, his heart heavy with the weight of knowing what made such a sight possible.
“It’s up to Port Washington for us” the man states, the complete group now returning to their vehicles and preparing to continue the journey, entering Long Island with their final destination in sight. Off in the distance, the moonlight overhead is clouded by the mushroom cloud above, but is still strong enough to slightly appear. Driving by a “Welcome to Long Island” road sign, the group sets their first foot forward in their goal to finally reach the fabled lighthouse they’ve had their sights on since the start of this mess, with little left standing in the way of stopping them now.
As the sky finally opens up and begins allowing for the rains of the heavens above to fall, Emilio rests alone in his tent, tossing and turning as the trauma of his current world infiltrates his sleep. Awoken by the sound of gunfire in his mind, Emilio sits up in a daze, looking around the tent and wiping the crust from his eyes as the rain begins beating down on the tent. Ringing off like violent winds ripping loose wood from a house, Emilio tucks the pillow over his head again and tries to return to sleep.
Eventually realizing that he needs to use the bathroom, Emilio halts his battle against the audible disruption atop him and pulls pan from the corner of the tent to use as some sort of umbrella. Walking out into the grass, Emilio heads off beside the tent and relieves himself, further aggravated by the sound of the raindrops bouncing off the metal surface above him.
Looking around at what surrounds him to pass the time, Emilio notices a sheen of light reflecting onto a few trees a short distance from him. Finally having ‘emptied the tank’, Emilio takes a brief adventure up to the surface of the highway and notices he and Bill’s vehicle with it’s lights left on and the doors wide open. “Oh shit” Emilio shouts rushing over to the car as the undead begin to find the light source. Panning through the vehicle, Emilio realizes that nothing had been taken, leaving him baffled.
Returning to the tent, Emilio unzips the sheet and calls for Bill to wake up, only to find his sleeping bag empty. “What the fuck?” Emilio mutters to himself, lost in translation and finally removing the pan from atop his head, dropping it to his side as he returns to the main roadway. Taking notice of the undead refusing to let up their fight, Emilio takes the pan and brings down whatever inevitable threat looms in the distance.
“Did he leave?” Emilio asks himself, muttering below his breath as he continues cracking the skulls of the rotting undead along the roadway, eventually continuing his walk a few hundred yards down the road. “What the fuck?” Emilio says to himself, this time the question being more audible as he continues looking around, curious as to whether or not the undead could have gotten to him. Now fully immersed in the realization that his husband is nowhere to be found, Emilio starts calling out his name, beginning to return to the tent in hopes of him just walking out from the trees.
“William?” Emilio shouts, continuing to call and resorting to using Bill’s full name rather than shorthand, growing more concerned the longer he goes without an answer. A few hundred feet away from the tent now, and the water running down the sloped road begins to reflect the moonlight above, mostly hidden behind storm clouds. “William!?” Emilio continues calling, now extending his husband’s name in hopes of it bringing about any change.
Eventually, Emilio slumps down onto the ground and just looks out at the roadway, watching the heavy rainwater flow with the puddles it creates down the road like a stream. In the corner of his eyes, he catches a glimpse at one puddle in specific, wiping his eyes to get any water out of them in hopes of figuring out what he sees flowing with it. Too faded of a color to be more water, Emilio finally stands up and walks over to the stream, placing his hand in it and trying to catch what flows to no avail.
The faint red liquid running with the water perplexing Emilio enough for him to start following it upstream, hoping to eventually find whatever it’s originating from. Continuing to walk and wipe what he can from his eyes, Emilio brings himself to a halt, watching the faint red become much bolder in color the further he goes, bring an ominous presence to his quest and forcing him into a speedwalk. Finally, Emilio stops and squints his eyes to get a better picture of what lies ahead. Tilting his head to figure out exactly what he’s looking at, Emilio’s eyes shoot open and he drops the pan to the ground, letting its impact with the asphalt below ring freely.
Shaking his head and engaging in a full sprint, Emilio runs up to a hunched over body on the side of the road. Shouting in denial at what his better instincts would have him believe, Emilio drops to his knees beside the body and pulls it over, looking down to see his husband with a gunshot in the side of his head and the firearm it was a result of still tightly gripped in his hand.
Mouth agape and without words trying his best to process what he sees, Emilio completely breaks down, giving up and wailing his cries of lamentation, putting his nose up to his husband’s cheek and screaming in agony at the flood of results this brings about. Groaning in pain as his heart sinks, Emilio takes his husband’s hand into his own and aimlessly tosses the gun off into whatever it ends up lying in.
Beneath the dark skies briefly lit by the lightning striking down on the ground below in the moments where the moon disappears behind the clouds, Emilio lays and waits for the world to shove his next move at him. Letting the rain drop into his face and his hair to go wherever the blowing wind will take it, Emilio puts his head onto Bill’s and waits for the end to come.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
“Couldn’t be bothered to take the nameplate off?” Salmanecci jokes, watching John pull his hand up and tear the tag off the wall as the rain begins beating down on the center of town. “You’ve yet to tell us how Tony died” Wahlen informs, not looking to remind John and Louis of it just yet, but rather, using it as an order to get an answer. “We hanged him” John replies, not missing a beat and refusing to stutter in his delivery.
“You said you ‘hanged’ him” Salmanecci repeats, watching John nod as he and Louis take a seat, neither man choosing to sit behind the desk, rather electing to confront their neither opposition nor allies upfront. “You expect us to just be fine with that?” Wahlen asks, ready to pull a gun if he still had one on him. “I mean, that all really depends on what it is you would leave Sheol expecting us to do in his succession, wouldn’t it?” John asks, watching both Wahlen and Salmanecci give off different versions of acknowledging their humor.
“We’re not leaving Sheol” Salmanecci informs John, with Wahlen reminding Sheol’s newly appointed leader that the convoy does not work with communities offering the people more power than they have control. “Sorry, but democracy just doesn’t work in this world anymore. You want people to live, you’ve gotten tell them where the water is. Whether they figure out how to drink or not is what they get control over. That’s it” Salmanecci replies, watching John’s head drift off.
“You’ve got convoys to get back to” Louis replies, reminding them that they won’t be able to station out here forever. “If you think we just left our compounds without making sure there was a plan if necessary, then those people down there truly don’t know what shit they’re ‘voting’ for” Salmanecci replies, watching John state that he never accused them of ditching their compounds without a plan.
“But just because shit can go down here, doesn’t mean shit wont go down there either” John states, reminding the two men ahead of him that it was the people outside the took Tony out, they just needed a little push. “Who’s to say you stopping by for a few months concurrently down here won’t allow the break your compounds need to get that little push themselves?” John asks, watching the two men smile as a way of hiding their creeping doubts that they’re well aware could occur.
“Even if we were to break out in a war down here, you’d be going back to your respective posts with far less man power than you had before, and that could be all the push they need.” Watching the men refuse to show any sign of fear, John lays his cards on the table and waits for Salmanecci and Wahlen to decide whether or not to play.
“These people are not going to be stripped of their control, and I certainly will not allow either of you to take it from them either. So here’s what I am proposing” John begins, the men intrigued and at least interested in hearing what he’s got to say. “You tell me what it will take for you to leave this community” John says, nothing further added, just casting out the line and waiting for a bite.
“I’ll tell you what, John” Wahlen starts standing from his seat and buttoning his jacket, “You’re probably one of the few people I’d be willing to work with here, but if you want us gone, you’re going to strip these people of the power you’ve given them.” Looking at the man as he slowly makes for the door, John assures him that he will not be doing that. Before Wahlen can respond, Salmanecci tells Sheol’s newly crowned leader that he gets what his beliefs are.
“I get what you fought for in the military, and I understand what standards of life you fought to keep in play. Believe me, if I was pulling your leg, I’d tell you” Salmanecci begins, reminding John that fights in this world are far different than fights from the world prior. “There’s no free world anymore, there is only this one. This world is one big story, and it sure isn’t yours. No, this is the story of what comes after humanity reached its peak. This story succeeds a world of appearance with a world of truth, and it only follows those strong enough to lead it.”
Standing up to join Wahlen in his walk towards the door, Salmanecci continues reminding John of what this story has different from the story that came before it. “There is only one rule no, John… Survive or die. I truly believe that you’re an individual with the capacity to be a spearhead of this story, but it’s down to you to prove that to us. And we’ll give you twenty-four hours.”
Adding onto Salmanecci’s proposal, Wahlen tells John that he’ll have one full day to decide whether or not he’s going to do what’s necessary and return power to the convoy. “We outnumber Sheol in droves and this isn’t even all we’ve got, John” Salmanecci replies, “if you cannot do what we’re asking, we’re not going to ask again.”
Exiting the room and making their way back to their convoy, the two men shut the door behind themselves and leave both Louis and John to their vices, left to make the decision for themselves as the rain keeps falling harder.
“Heather, Cameron, you there?” John calls in, waiting for a reply on the other end as the pair make their way back to the Connecticut border. “Yeah John, what’s up?” Heather replies, the morning having begun taking shape as Amy joyfully exclaims, “Dad!” on the other end, putting a smile on John’s face. “You guys almost at the border?” John asks, disappointed when the response of “No” is muttered over the radio.
“The roads near the border are too cramped, we tried switching spots but we ended up getting rerouted to Long Island. We’re up near Port Washington right now” Cameron replies, forcing John’s head down as the crowd outside begins chanting “Leave us alone” to the amusement of the convoy. “Everything okay up there?” Heather asks, as disappointed as John was a second ago when the worst response is muttered.
“They want complete control of Sheol now that Tony’s out of the picture and they’re using me to get it. I don’t know whether to play in or give them complete transparency.” On the other end, Heather tells him that there’s always a way of swinging the advantage in their favor. “You’ve got C4, you’ve got a nuke, You’re more familiar with the geography than they are” Heather says, “You don’t always need to have the numbers advantage… And sometimes that’s actually a disadvantage.”
Catching onto the last part, John looks over to Louis, who fixates on it as well before he thanks the woman and tells them to stop in Port Washington. “Well meet you there when we can” John replies, cutting off connection before informing the group about the change of plans. Before anyone within Sheol can reply, the distraught voice of Emilio breaks through asking for John.
“What’s up, Em?” John asks, waiting for a response before repeating the man’s name a second time following a near minute of silence. “Bill’s dead” Emilio replies, the break in his voice being enough to sadden the survivors outright. “What?” John asks, looking for clarification and getting just that.
“He has-” Emilio stammers, pausing for a second to get his wits about him, “He had cancer. He shot himself last night” Emilio replies, the bare tone and emotional detachment forcing the group into a lack of things to say other than apologies. “There’s something else you should know” Emilio replies, snapping the conversation into a weird switch the survivors have little more to do than go along with.
“They’re dead” Emilio replies, immediately capturing the full spectrum of emotions they could possibly feel in two minutes. “What are you talking about, Em?” John asks, waiting for a reply from the man, still sopping wet from the night of laying in the flooded highway, and standing before a cozy home burned to the ground with three bodies laying dead in the grass, face up. “That family you wanted us to check for” Emilio replies, “They’re all dead. Every single one of them” the man replies, looking at each body, freshly executed with one bullet buried in the center of their foreheads.
“It’s all fresh too” Emilio states, telling John that it couldn’t have been Tony’s convoy. “It’s not just the family either” Emilio replies, latching onto whatever he has left to forget about the things he’s seen. “Everything I drove past has been burned down. There’s no one left over here” Emilio concludes, setting off a switch in John that visibly pulls. “What’re you going to do next?” John asks, thanking the man for what he’s done. “You guys need backup?” the man asks, thinking over what Emilio on the frontlines after all this would be like before suggesting it would be a good idea to have him here if he can.
“I’m on my way” Emilio replies, returning to his vehicle and leaving behind the symbols of tragedy he feels indifferent towards. “What did you mean by ‘the family’? Louis asks, finally informed of how they figured out there was a bomb inside Sheol. “Oh shit!” Louis shouts, bolting for the door and running off into the compound, immediately followed by the survivors.
At the bottom of the compound, Louis spots a door just beside the staircase and starts forcing his shoulder into it, getting it to budge slightly before his shoulder can no longer take the abuse. “Salem!” John calls, watching the woman take aim with her suppressed rifle and blow a bullet through the lock, sending a few sparks flying en route to it jolting itself open.
Leading John’s group into the depths of the compound, Louis finally enters a windowless room illuminated by a singular light, with one lone nuclear warhead propped up atop a stand. “Holy shit” Franklin says, met by Jack admitting that he never actually took the idea seriously until now. “Can it be detonated?” John asks, joining Louis in inspecting it, noticing the lack of ignition for it to go off. “It’s just here” Louis states, having forgotten that it existed from blindly doing as told for so long. “It’s not supposed to be detonated as is, it’s supposed to be launched” Louis concludes, finding himself asked by John whether or not it could still be detonated in its current position.
“Technically, all bombs can be detonated anywhere… The downside is that whoever detonates the bomb has to do it manually.” Upon the realization that setting off the bomb would be a suicide mission, the grooup throws the idea out of the window. “I’ll do it” Reggie says, catching the eye of the group. “No, Reggie we just got you back, you’re not hopping out of here just yet” John argues, met with nothing more than refusal to accept that from the man in question.
“I don’t care what you think you’ve gotten, but I bring the least value to this group out of all of us.” Refusing, John looks at the man and calls to attention that he is just as human as everyone else. “John, sometimes decisions need to be made that no one has to acknowledge” Reggie says, “but those guys are going to burn this place down or die trying if you don’t give them what they want. This doesn’t need to be used, but if things boil down to it, I’m the one sending this puppy up.”
As the night falls over Sheol, John and his survivors remain in the main compound spiking the dungeon below with C4 in the event that everything has to be torn down. Still chanting outside, the crowd begins drawing the ire of the convoy opposite them, challenging them to bring on the fight and figure out whether or not they’ll live to tell the story.
“Those guys won’t hold up much longer, John” Louis states, telling John that it’s now or never to make a decision. “I know what I have to do” John states, assuring Louis that he’s not going to let history repeat itself. “Whatever you do, I know you’ve got the right intentions, so I’m with you on whatever you choose” Louis says, shaking John’s hand and thanking him for getting everyone this far.
Emerging from the main compound, John and his group stand at the forefront of the citizens of Sheol. Distancing himself from the group, John walks forward, taking his place at the front whilst his survivors vanish into the ocean of people behind him, all armed with their own weaponry and ready to fight if necessary.
“Just to say that I tried, I wanna make sure we’re clear” John states, “If I take the control out of the hands of the people and keep it for myself, you’ll turn around and leave Sheol standing the way you rode into it?” Declaring John’s belief to be fully true, Salmanecci waits for John to ask one final question before giving his answer. “You never told me earlier why you’re so afraid of leaving the power in the hands of the people” John declares, awaiting an answer as the wind blows the loose hairs back, and the flames of torches behind him flow as a backdrop for he expects to be his final stand.
“You really wanna ask us this now?” Wahlen asks, met with extended arms from John. “You’re threatening to riddle us with bullets on our own home soil” the man replies, “I think now’s as good a time as any!” Wahlen looks to Salmanecci for his response, going along with what the man replies with. “It’s not that we’re afraid of the power the people have, but we’re familiar with how it turned out for everything last time” Salmanecci replies, reminding John that he knows exactly what that’s like.
“If you think we’re not familiar with how the New World Order turned out John, you’d be a fool to assume we’re as unaware as you make us out to be” Wahlen replies, watching the man’s arms lower back to his hips as his own past is reiterated to him by two men that didn’t live in his shoes, or fight in his wars. “You tried to lead a revolution against the people that made the New World Order what it once was, and it left you vulnerable. When round two came along, you were too spent to put up the same kind of fight.”
“You don’t know what it was like, George” John replies. “I never said I did” Salmanecci retorts, “but I know what caused it. You wanted your freedom… And it cost you everything.” Watching John tuck his hands into his pockets and drop his head, taking in the truth he’s fought off having to accept for too long. “I’ll admit to that” John replies, “I’ve spent too long refusing to admit to my shortcomings, and hoping everyone would forget about the skeletons in my closet… Even if I never have.”
“So you see what we mean, John?” Wahlen asks, met with the same response that Salmanecci gave to him nearly twenty four hours prior. “I see what you mean, but that doesn’t mean I agree” John states, putting a frown on both leaders’ faces. “You see what went wrong with the New World Order was that I just didn’t know what to do” John states, not noticing his group’s eyes squint.
“I may look confident and I may know enough about how to keep that appearance up, but I didn’t know what decisions were right and wrong back then” John declares, admitting to the world that he failed to keep those people safe. “Those people entrusted me with their lives and I played checkers with it… I wasn’t even smart enough to play chess!” Pacing back and forth whilst glancing back at the citizens every now and then, John admits to having failed.
“Maybe I’m nothing more than a few speeches wrapped in a complicated story, Salmanecci, but what you were wrong about earlier is the simple fact that this is my story. The same way the story you abide by is your own, the only question now is who’s book is going to come to a close first.” Turning back to give his full attention to the convoy stationed at the front gates, and ensuring that Salmanecci and Wahlen get a good final look at the man that he is.
“So the choice to strip the power away from these people is only a way to decide which happens first…” John begins, “Does my story end here, does yours end here, or is tonight simply a way of delaying the inevitable? Because we all die, it’s just always been a matter of when.”
“You’ve seen where this gets you, John. It-” Salmanecci begins, met with an interruption from the man, correcting them on how history works from a grammatical standpoint. “No, George I’ve seen where it got me. Because I’ll tell you right now, I know where I went wrong last time…” John states, declaring himself a different man than what he once was. “... I left those fuckers standing, and it came back to bite me.”
Watching the man assure the two convoy leaders that he’s not going to make the same mistake twice, the people of Sheol ready themselves to open fire as the clock strikes midnight. “Do we have your answer, John?” Wahlen asks, looking out at the man as he retreats back to the civilians and takes a hold of an assault rifle, standing in line with the people of Sheol.
“I’m sorry, John” Wahlen states, genuinely disappointed that he’s made the decision in question, only to stop for a moment as John lifts his fist into the air and keeps it steady, confusing the convoy leaders for a moment as they try to figure out what is meant by the gesture.
Despite Wahlen not understanding what’s unfolding, Salmanecci slowly takes realization in the tactic and suddenly shouts for his convoy to run for cover, just barely outrunning his prior stance as a bullet from across the lake rings through the air and lights John’s truck ablaze, setting off enough C4 to completely wipe out half of Salmanecci’s fleet, including a freshly-charred set of Wahlen’s remains.
Sent flying from the explosion, Salmanecci flies over a few concrete slabs and finally collides with the water front, disappearing beneath the surface with an impact. Pushing forward, the remaining convoy guards begin taking the fight to Sheol, engaging in a firefight whilst others try too get across the lake and take out the snipers firing off.
Ducking behind a wall of concrete, John notices Salmanecci struggling to return to shore, and immediately takes his opportunity to keep true to his word, diving into the lake and holding Salmanecci’s face down. Ducking below the water surface to dodge oncoming convoy snipers, John watches the life slowly drain out of the already terribly wounded man before the breath being expelled from his mouth turns into blood, having firmly accomplished what he set out to do.
Returning to land, John watches the firefight unfolding and dips his hand in the water, firing a few rounds at some unaware guards before being forced back into cover by the ongoing flurry of bullets. Taking aim at another member of the convoy, John is forced back into cover when the gun won’t fire, forcing him to assess the jam as the guard in question begins to rush him. Closing in, John finally manages to solve the problem in time to peek up from cover, only to watch a bullet from afar alleviate the dangers.
Holding a thumbs up, Salem watches from across the lake, knelt beside Arsenal as the two fire round after round through the shattered view as the convoy fight their way past defenses and into Sheol Center. “From his desktop and dodging incoming shots from opponent fire, Arsenal signs on and declares “Lock and lod, Sheol!” before Salem takes aim and fires at one of the many crates hidden around Sheol, sending a flurry of fire and smoke into the air as more introduced to the wonder explosives can do.
Given enough room to move, John spots Louis leading people back, helping put space between the two before he takes a bullet in the back, dropping him to the ground. Charging from cover, John lets a flurry go in the direction of the opposing convoy, throwing himself to the ground and dragging Louis into the compound.
Rounding the corner, multiple convoy guards find themselves at the wrong end of John’s gun, collapsed to a pile on the ground just outside the lobby. “Come on, Louis” John shouts, “let’s go, buddy!” as he places the wounded man’s arm over his neck. Realizing the lack of movement from Louis, John looks to notice the man with an expression of fear in his face as the pain seems to be gone. “I can’t feel my legs” Louis says, making himself comfortable on the floor as John kneels beside him, changing the magazine in his gun and holding cover for the man.
“I’m paralyzed” Louis says, forced amongst the chaos outside to come to a quick acceptance of what needs to be done. “Don’t let them get to me, they’ll let me turn!” Louis pleads, watching John continue to fire back at whatever walks by the door covered in heavy black. “You need to kill me” Louis says, flummoxing John. “I’m not going to do that, Louis. You’ll be fine” John says, attempting to pick the man up before finding him refusing to cooperate. “John, I’m gonna get you killed. You need to put me down and keep this place going!” Louis says, immediately caught off guard by the scene of Angela and Tyler hurrying into the main lobby for cover.
“Louis!” Angela shouts, rushing to the man’s side as the blood from his wound begins pooling beside him. “What happened?” Tyler asks, informed of everything John knows. Turning around and holding fire, John covers for the trio as they say their goodbyes. “Just don’t give up, okay?” Louis asks for Angela, thanking Tyler for keeping her safe, but reminding her that it’s only going to get tougher from here on out.
“You need to stay strong, alright?” Louis says, fighting off Angela’s notion that they can help him. “I;m done for, and I’m not taking you guys down with me” Louis replies, telling them to go for cover and stay hidden. “Don’t drag yourselves down, if we lose I want you both out of here ASAP!” Louis shouts, telling them to go immediately as John returns, giving Louis the chance to watch the pair disappear into the main grounds in search a place to go.
“Please, John” Louis asks, handing the man his pistol and telling him that it’s all okay. “I know I didn’t get much of a chance to know you, but yo’re the first person I’ve seen in two years actually care about this place. If there’s anyone I’m glad to see fighting on our side, it’s you.”
Taking the gun from Louis’ hands, John puts the barrel to Louis’ head, listening as the man’s final words before death are, “It’s okay.” Closing his eyes, having steadied his grip on the gun, John sends one bullet into the man’s head, sparing him from having to realize his worst fears. Knelt beside the man’s body, John closes his eyes for a moment of peace before reawakening into the situation at hand, realizing what is necessary to be done before returning to the sea of carnage outside, ready to dictate what happens next.
“You sure there’s no changing your minds?” John asks, watching Emilio and Bill stuff their belongings into the back of some minivan they found along the side of the road. “The scene may have changed, but the truth isn’t going to. We didn’t get ourselves killed this time, somehow, but we’re not about to take that chance again” Bill states, forcing the trunk shut.
“It feels weird not having to watch our backs constantly” Emilio states, overhearing Franklin bury his mallet extension into the brain of one of the many undead stragglers piecing their way up from the home. “Okay, they’re always an issue, but you get my point” Emilio jokes, receiving a pat on the back for his efforts as John asks what the official next step is lining up to be.
“We’re heading out west” Bill states, handing John a map with an outlined route to the midwest. “We’re thinking about trying our hand out by the Ohio-Indiana area. A lot of space, plenty of room for what we’re looking for” Bill states, nodding at John’s first guess of a farm. “Any news from out near Sheol?” Emilio asks, watching John toss his head around. “We get a ton of dead air. Brief recaps throughout the day, not much of a conversation coming out. Seems like they’re keeping things in motion as best as they can” John states, asked how well that entails their performance.
“It’s fair, nothing special, but it’s only been three weeks. We’re giving it the time we can afford to, monitoring it as best as we can.” From down around the roads, Jess and Meghan walk up with half of a container of gasoline to show for it. “Not much of a hauling day?” John asks, wrapping his arm around his wife, aggravated at the truth herself.
“The gasoline’s going bad” Jessica whimpers, “It won’t be too long before we’re out for good.” Tucking his hands into his pockets and falling back against the car, Emilio vents his vexation at yet another new problem looming over the horizon. “You sure you don’t want to head out to the coastline with us?” John asks again, still hoping he can loosely sway the men’s minds. “No, this was always gonna be something that popped up, it’s just annoying that it picked now of all times to happen” Bill admits, “We’ll just find another way to work around it.”
Caught up from the conversation, John finds his radio to go absolutely nuts, with an irate Louis on the other end. “Louis, calm down. What’s going on?” John asks, met before with a barrage of aggravated statements fluttering as static. “Salmanecci and Wahlen are coming, they’re starting to catch on” Louis states, further losing John. “Who the hell are Salmanecci and Wahlen, and what do they have to do with anything?” the man asks, the three people around him listening in on this conversation unfolding.
“The other convoy figure heads! Tony’s buddies or whatever he called them” Louis states, immediately raising alarm bells throughout the group. “Why are they coming to Sheol?” John asks, met with the simple reply of them not being happy about not being in contact with Tony. “So they don’t know that Tony’s dead? Why haven’t you told them that?” John asks, leaving Louis to have to unfold the way of business in the convoy in the simplest of terms.
“Salmanecci has a convoy in Boston, Wahlen has a convoy in Providence. Together, along with Tony, they made up a big triangle in the lower northeast. They’re not… we’ll say favorable with the concept of doing business with an outsider.” Looking up to the men and his wife, John looks to them for any ideas, finding nothing more than silence and a shrug every now and then. “John, this might get bloody” Louis states, prompting Bill and Emilio to respond with the obvious facepalm whilst Jess herself begins joining the pair in dread.
“What do you want us to do? We don’t even have sufficient ammo to sustain ourselves!” John states, informed by the man on the other line that he’s the only person he’s met thus far that might be able to get inside Salmanecci and Wahlen’s head. “What pull do I have on two croanies? If anything, I’m more of an outsider than you are!” John retorts, not noticing the frown on Louis’ face on the other line. “You’re also a much better leader than I am, John… And you get people in ways that I don’t. This is the kind of thing this place needs you to do.”
Sighing, John looks to Emilio and Bill, with the former starting to shake his head in declination once the latter had begun. “Jess?” the man asks, watching the woman contemplate before staring off at the group, looking out at their fellow survivors having been forced to take refuge in a town rendered to ash out of necessity. “Unless it’s their bullets and their homes we’re staying in, we just can’t afford that kind of battle” Jess states, her view of the camp being accompanied by John’s, watching out as the group packs what they can carry into their vehicles and awaits the decision to head out.
“Let me see what I can do, Louis. I’ll get back to you in a few” John states, met with compliance from the man as he stands in the back of his truck and calls for his group to gather around. “Listen, I’m not going to demand you follow me into something that I, and I alone, started. But Sheol’s looking to bring me in as their mouthpiece to speak to a few pricks not happy with how things are running.”
With the group around him granting him their undivided attention, John informs them that before they can depart for the coastline, he’s going to need to try and finish what he started, and that will require them to remain hidden out at the former New World Order in the meantime. “If you wish to join me, I won’t even begin to describe to you how appreciative I am. But if not, I’ll completely understand, and if things go south, I’ll give you the all clear to move out before I let you go down with me.”
“I’m in” Salem states from afar, pulling her rifle over her shoulder and leading the charge of the rest of the group, minus Emilio and Bill, towards throwing their support in John’s corner as well. Without words to use to thank them, John nods and hops off the truck bed, telling everyone to gear up and get ready for a fight. “Think I can join in?” Reggie asks, walking up to John having shaven the stubble from his face. “You coming aboard?” John asks, eyebrow raised as the man shockingly throws his hat in John’s corner as well.
“I may have spent a while away from people, but it’s refreshing to be a part of something again” Reggie states, shaking John’s hand before joining the group in preparing to depart. “I know you guys don’t owe me anything” John says, looking over at Emilio and Bill stood beside their own car, “But is there any way you can stop down by that family’s house on your way? I… I have a feeling this might end up getting ugly.”
With a nod, Emilio and Bill pack up their final things and shake John’s hand, taking a radio from him in hopes of contacting him once they’ve made contact with the family before driving away, leaving behind the group for the final time. Taking Amy from Jess’ hands, John brings her over to Cameron and Heather, asking that they stay behind and watch over Amy, driving off to the border and waiting for the group to make contact in case shit hits the fan. “We’ll see you then” Heather replies, forcing a chill down John’s spine as he recalls the dangers of walking into war.
“We’ll be back soon, okay?” John states, he and his wife saying their goodbyes to their daughter in hopes of making a safe return back to see her again when this is all said and done. Walking away and taking a deep breath, John and Jessica board an SUV and ready themselves to depart in the line of vehicles before John gets the chills again, rattling himself in the front seat. “You alright?” Jess asks, putting her hand on John’s before coincidently feeling his pulse begin to skyrocket. “John?” Jess asks, watching the man silently nod before putting together why.
“You’ve got a bad feeling about this, don’t you?” Jess asks, watching the man slowly turn his head towards her and just stare without saying a word, giving Jess all the confirmation she needs to figure out where his head is. Buckling her seatbelt as John backs out of the New World Order, Jess and John take what could be their final glance at Amy before leading the convoy of their own through the gates of the rundown former community site and in the direction of Sheol, ominously beginning their ride beneath a cloudy sky threatening to drown out what remains below with a good few inches of rain.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Exiting their vehicles, with many planting their feet in the dirt of Sheol for the first time, John and his crew walk through the main yard to a thunderous applause from the people scattered around on their way into the main lobby. Ascending the multiple levels of homes, John and his group finally each the top, taking the short walk necessary to find themselves at the front door of what was once the office of Tony Archibald, still baring his name on the door.
Knocking on the front door, the group are united with Louis, Tyler and Angela as the trio tire themselves out discussing the possible precautions necessary to keep Sheol standing. “Hey, cool down for a second!” John says, earning a gracious welcome from the three before reminding them that violence is the farthest thing from their top priority.
“They’re not individuals that simply listen to reason, John. If they don’t like what they see on the first glance, they’ll blow a bullet past your brain before you can extend your hand to introduce yourselves” Louis states, looking over to see Angela nodding in agreeance, further lending gravity to the statement. “Well what were their expectations when he did die, it wasn’t like he was in his twenties?” John asks, “The dude’s heart could’ve put a foot in his ass any day.”
“They’ve got a line of successors” Angela states, with Louis reminding everyone that he was to be the first chosen to take command upon Tony’s death. “Then what’s the problem?” John asks, met with Tyler’s reply, almost infused with an array of salt. “Tony didn’t die of a heart attack or being taken down by the undead, we hung him from a tree and left his body rotting there for ten days. Big difference in the eyes of the greater convoy.”
“Well do they know that?” Katie asks from the back of the line, met with a level of denial that comes with a catch. “While they definitely don’t know that yet, it’s only a matter of time until they do” Louis replies, expecting John’s obvious next line of questioning, so pulling shade past the window in response, he points in the direction of the main grounds the group had just walked over, spraypainted with the people’s declaration of “The People’s Sheol! Death to Archibald’s Regime!” in big, white letters.
“It doesn’t help that they won’t shut up about it, and the fact that they honestly believe they can take down the conjoined greater convoy if they come knocking at the front doors.” Aggravated at the display of the people of Sheol, John states that there’s not much argument to be made against their right to free speech. “John, stop kidding yourself” Tyler says, earning the attention fo a surprised John. “There are no such thing as rights anymore. We have the right to kill if necessary, which was not how it used to be. Those rules don’t apply anymore, and the people don’t have hope at obtaining power in a world with little to go around.”
“You’re starting to sound a lot like Tony” John replies, met with Tyler’s handling of the truth wrapped in a slap to the face. “Just because Tony led a dictatorship doesn’t mean he was wrong about everything he ever said. If that’s what he believed, then that was one of the few things he was right about.” Walking up to Tyler and taking that statement as a fire starter, John reminds Tyler that under Tony’s eye, he was nothing more than currency to buy silence with. “I’d watch the tone you take with me, Tyler…” John begins, closing the gap between their faces as the anger begins flaking from John as if it were peeling away layers. “...Just because we liberated this city doesn’t mean the horrors of what it used to be die with what it once was.”
As he attempts to walk away, Tyler pulls him right back in like a fish on the other end of a fishing line. “Giving people the power lets them think they can get away with whatever they want” the man states, watching John turn around and remind him that the people are what made Sheol to begin with. “Too much power is dangerous for one community in a world without rules to have” Tyler states, immediately argued by John. “The people need a leader they can trust, which is what Louis needs to be if he has any hope of keeping this place going once the greater convoy skips town after this is all over” John states. “Like you?” Tyler asks, waiting for the man to reply before hearing the simple term of “sure” originate from the man’s lips.
“How did that work out for the New World Order?” Tyler asks, hitting below the belt before rubbing salt into the wounds. “Or am I supposed to join the rest of the guys behind you in forgetting the fireball it went up in smoke with?”
Shaking his head in disgust, John turns around and walks through the group, leaving the room as Angela pulls Tyler down onto the seat beside him. Bursting into the main yard, John walks through a chorus of cheers before placing his hand up in an effort to silence them, to no avail. The crowd continues to roar as Jessica finally catches up to him, walking back to their vehicle and hopping into the front seat.
Once inside the vehicle, Jess begins to make an attempt at having a conversation with her husband, but she is quickly halted from doing so as a crowd of people begin to surround the vehicle, chanting John’s name, much to the utter confusion and panic of both passengers, most specifically, John. Shaking from side to side via the weight of the crowd, pushing and pulling vehicle in adoration for the man trying to hide out within it.
Doing what they can to drive past the cars littered all over the streets, Emilio and Bill acknowledge the decision made and finally begin opening up about what the long term effects will be. “We’re going to run out of gasoline eventually, there’s no arguing that problem out of existence. We’re not even sure there’s going to be a farm just out in the middle of nowhere waiting for us to take it over, and if that happens, we’re stuck out there in the middle of nowhere” Emilio says, causing a stir between himself and his husband.
“I get this kind of thing isn’t exactly the most enticing situation we’ve faced, but it’s better than getting ourselves killed out there in-” Bill begins, met with Emilio finishing the same drawn out argument muttered what feels like a thousand times. “Killed out there looking for something we might not live long enough to actually see, I get it Bill” Emilio says, looking out the window at the world around them passing by. “What do you want me to say, Emilio? Do you wanna go back and start risking your life for some pipe dream again”
Rolling his eyes, Emilio listens into Bill assure him that he’s being serious. “If you genuinely want to go back and are fine living out your days wondering if you’ll see tomorrow, I’ll turn the car around right now.”
Tilting his head over to the man in the driver’s seat, Emilio tells Bill that it’s less about the destination that he worries about than it is the speed in which they’ve jumped to it. “We didn’t take the time to plan out a plan B if we need one, and saying that we won’t is just too foolish for our own good. We didn’t think this through, and I can’t help but think that the fact we’re running low on viable gas was supposed to be a sign from whatever heavens we’ve got above us.”
Slowing to a stop in the middle of a littered highway, Bill parks the car and hops out, looking to fill up another canister whilst they’re here. Joining his husband, Emilio walks with Bill, following him to a random car out of the many. “You’re hoping for the same thing that I am, but I’m worried about how quickly we’re jumping into this” Emilio argues, watching Bill try to speed up his pace to end the conversation despite sharing a common end point.
“What’s so crucial about fucking Ohio that makes you want to pack everything up and ditch the only thing you’ve ever been sure of since the world went to shit?” Emilio asks, watching Bill continue to ignore him until he’s inevitably spun around and forced to confront his husband. “I…” Bill begins, pausing for a moment before stopping, dropping his head down in shame before Emilio lifts it back up, reminding him that he can tell him whatever he needs to.
“Please step away from the vehicle!” the voice orders over the loudspeaker, earning very little result in the process. “Please step away from the vehicle right now!” the voice calls again, watching John and Jessica’s vehicles swallowed by the horde of people. Climbing from his seat and opening the sunroof, John pokes his head out and starts waving his hands to direct traffic away from the car, only met with further roaring ovation for his efforts.
Climbing through the gap before helping Jess out, John removes the gun from his belt and fires three shots in the air. “Enough!” John shouts, his words finally being able to be heard as the applause dies down to a lower volume. “Listen, I’m glad to have restored a modicum of freedom to this city, but you cannot, and I mean you cannot start swarming people like a mob.”
Despite not initially being pleased with John’s advice, the people slow down and listen, remembering that their freedom would not have ben possible without intricate actions being taken. “We need to remember that there’s still a sea of the dead outside these walls threatening to take us down from the inside at any moment. Sheol exists because of that, we need to keep it from sinking because of that as well. We’re not going to accomplish that screaming our lungs out and bringing them to our gates.”
“What about the other convoys?” one woman in the crowd shouts, met with compliance rom the majority of the crowd around her. “They’re coming, there’s no challenging that. But we can work this out without drawing blood” John states, finally spotting Louis and the rest of his group emerging from the main compound. “I get they’re not good people. But regardless of what you can hope, we’re too far outnumbered to bring a war worth fighting towards them. It’ll just get all of us killed, and Louis isn’t too fond of that idea.”
“Louis was Tony’s guy!” one man shouts from the crowd, immediately capturing the interest of everyone within shouting distance in Sheol. “He’s not our leader!” another man shouts, immediately bringing a bitter feeling over John and Louis’ group, realizing that the community isn’t just going to follow without being convinced. “Who do you believe is your leader?” John asks, met with multiple people looking towards him and pointing, declaring their answer.
“Fuck” John mutters to himself, placing his hands on his hips as the crowd of thousands grows silent, and the faint sounds of one gunshot after another bringing down the undead at the gates serves as the only background noise. “Okay, fine… If I’m your leader then you need to start trusting that what I say has all of your best interest at heart” John says, immediately met with a spectator in the crowd stating that they should vote.
“Voting isn’t going to work right now. We’ve got two enemies storming to our front gates, we don’t have the time. If you want to vote, we’ll figure out a process after this is taken care of, but we need to do with what we’ve got right now. You’ll all be dead by the middle of the week if we don’t. I get this isn’t how it normally works, but this is a very different world to the one we once lived in.”
Taking a moment to think, John hits home on a few of the basics. From declaring that Louis truly is one of them, to stating that they don’t have to agree with the other convoys, to needing to return to a way of living they did before hand with less fear than they used to have. “There’s no one left to dictate who can do what, so it’s every man for himself in this day and age. We’re better than that, and that is going to be what we show the convoy when they get here.”
Watching the crowd discuss amongst themselves, John catches the loudspeaker radio and asks one simple time for who’s with him. “I am!” one enthusiastic crowd member shouts, followed by a few more before the crowd begins turning their support for John in drives. The unison in which the crowd carries themselves with puts a smile on the other survivor’s faces, realizing they’ve at least stopped the chaos for a moment.
“I’ll never be able to deny how good you are at this” Jess utters, “you’re somehow always able to execute crowd control to a tee.” Leaning in and laying a kiss onto the woman, John smiles before reminding her that it’s the only position he feels naturally capable of taking. “Maybe that’s cocky to say, but when control fell into my hands, I didn’t feel thrown off by it” John replies, watching the woman fixate on how he smiles when he recalls. “I’ll never be the perfect leader, but I’ll never put myself over someone else. And that just feels like how it was always meant to be.”
Unlike other times, Jess stares at John with a sort of satisfaction, finally catching a glimpse of why John’s natural instincts take such a precedent. Without a response, Jess just leans in and returns the kiss to her husband, looking out at the crowd of people who’ve only known him for roughly three weeks, all bend the knee to his guidance and look at the future with John’s brand of glasses.
“Why wouldn’t you tell me sooner?” Emilio asks, watching a shame-ridden Bill wipe tears away from his face as he sits in the driver’s seat, legs hanging out of the car with his hands folded. Not replying, Bill simply looks down and prays, having his attention stolen again as Emilio swipes his hand at his husbands, breaking his folded hands and telling him to stop praying for a miracle. “Bill, if you had told me sooner, I would’ve dropped everything and gone with you” Emilio argues, met with the facts Bill uses to prove the opposite.
“I kept telling you that we needed to go, but you just kept running out and throwing yourself in gunfights. It wasn’t until other shit started hitting the fan that you finally started listening, so don’t give me that ‘devoted-husband’ bullshit” Bill says, dropping his head again as Emilio is helpless to do much more than look at Bill and repeat the same word at nauseum.
“Cancer” Emilio keeps repeating, finally saying it enough to break Bill into shouting at him, demanding that he stop speaking. “It’s bad enough I keep saying it in my head, you don’t need to keep reminding me” Bill shouts, watching Emilio shout back. “I’m gonna lose my husband to fucking lung cancer, this would’ve been fucking great to know!”
“You don’t know that” Bill replies, adamant that it doesn’t need to be a death sentence. “Of course it does, Bill! We never had a cure to begin with, we only stopped it for a bit! What makes you think you’ll get smacked with a miracle when we’ve got even less than we did before?” Emilio shouts, his train of thought, as well as his focus, derailed by a few straggling undead.
Storming over to the undead without a weapon in hand, Emilio just goes off, leveling them out with a few punches, keeping them alive long enough for them to get back up and take another shot. Following a coughing fit, Bill pulls his gun out and takes five shots to put down the five undead, watching Emilio turn around and angrily shout back at him. “Didn’t want to hide those from me?” Emilio asks, arms extended as Bill collapses back into his seat and returns to hacking up a lung.
“Let’s camp out here for tonight” Emilio states, the night sky beginning to roll over after a day of nothing more than tension and hostility. “Em, please” Bill says, watching the man refuse to speak any further as he walks off and removes a boxed up tent from the trunk of one of the random vehicles. “I’m not talking about this anymore, Bill. We’ll get moving at sunrise” Emilio says, walking off the main road and setting up to begin pitching the tent somewhere in the grass.
Watching on, knowing there is nothing further that he can say to stop Emilio, Bill watches on trying to wipe away the tears as they keep refusing to stop.
“Are you ready?” John whispers, watching Louis shake his head, hiding a disappointment well below the surface as the bight sky begins to make itself present. Through the dark, lifeless woods grows an audible rumbling from the flashes of light. Before long, what seems like a never-ending line of convoy vehicles appear through the main gates, coming to a stop wherever there is room.
Before anyone else has a chance to remove themselves from their respective vehicles, the convoy leaders Georgio Salmanecci and Eric Wahlen plant their feet in the ground first. Looking out at the main grounds of Sheol, the leaders find the entire community, other than a few guards stationed along the fences, standing their their hands folded having awaited for their arrival. “What the hell is all this?” Salmanecci asks, the loose skin below his ancient chin waving with his jaw’s motion.
Behind him, Eric Wahlen and his younger, more life-infused eyes survey the area, watching both John and Louis approach them, refusing to unfold their hands before finally coming face to face with the two leaders. Behind Salmanecci and Wahlen, their convoys peak their heads out from the vehicles, not having been permitted to exit, but readying their firearms in case the occasion calls for it. “This is the community of Sheol, and I trust that you are convoy leaders Georgio Salmanecci and Eric Wahlen” John says, welcoming them to the home in a way neither convoy leaders expected to walk into.
“What the hell am I looking at, smartass?” Salmanecci answers, refusing to take any further sarcastic tone as Wahlen and Salmanecci finally close the remaining distance between them. “This is Sheol now that Tony Archibald has died” John states, immediately spotting the surprise on their face. “What did you expect to drive into?” John asks, his genuinity very noticeable from both men. “We had no idea, which is why we showed up” Wahlen replies, dressed slightly sharper than Salmanecci, but appearing more like a company executive than Salmanecci does with the older gentleman’s dress shirt and khakis combination.
“So, you couldn’t tell us Tony was dead in the past three weeks we’ve been trying to make contact?” Salmanecci asks, watching John admit that there was very little way to say it without perhaps running into communication errors overstating the dangers. “I’m sorry, who are you?” Wahlen asks, watching the man introduce himself as the new leader of Sheol. “No, no you are not the leader of Sheol, he is” Wahlen replies, pointing at Louis. “The people have chosen that I am not to be viewed as the leader of this community” Louis replies, putting a smile on Salmanecci’s face whilst Wahlen audibly laughs.
“Oh, so the people have choices now?” Wahlen jokes, tapping Salmanecci on the arm as the older gentlemen wastes little time in pulling his gun and taking aim at John, who immediately disarms him, holding Salmanecci’s own gun on Wahlen whilst putting the blade of a knife to his stomach. “Drop it!” John replies, watching Wahlen be left little more choice than to drop the firearm. “I served in the military, you’re not getting away with your slight of hand bullshit with me” John replies, finally having said something to amuse Salmanecci that wasn’t at the expense of the community.
“Tell your men, both groups, to drop their weapons or I’ll drop you both” John demands, watching both men do as instructed. “Now here’s what’s going to happen” John begins, telling both men that there doesn’t need to be bloodshed when having a civilized conversation is still on the table. “We’re going to return to the office space, your men will remain here waiting for you to return and we are going to discuss what happens from this point on. Have I made myself clear?”
“This guy might be worth at least a few words” Wahlen states, humoring Salmanecci who tells John to lead the way. “If we don’t come back, start firing at whatever moves” Wahlen instructs his men, following John as the four men enter the main compound and make the long ascent to their negotiating table, waiting to decide whether or not Sheol will become the sight of a massacre or a bright day in the new world’s step towards a return to humanity.
“Tony, come in!” Eddie shouts on the other end of his radio, the van he’s in kicking up dirt the further he goes without response from the man supposedly on the other end. “Tony, we’ve almost reached the destination. We’re unable to open fire without your signal!” Eddie continues, hoping the familiar voice on the other end of the radio will come through with a response.
Riding over the undead lining the roads, Eddie watches on in the back of a long line of convoy vehicles, going about their business as they would any other day. “Let me tell you a little secret, Tony” John states, holding onto the radio just in case Tony tries to do anything stupid, watching his hands tied behind the back of the chair he’s been forced to take a seat in.
“Your men believe they will return from their mission the way they have multiple times, but their blood does not need to be shed in order for us to be even” the man says, leaning against the jurors walls in the confines of their clandestine courtroom. “What they find themselves on is a roadway leading to not only a dead end, but a dead end that will blow them into the next few years if you do not order them to stop and return to camp.”
Looking at John with hatred in his eyes, knowing that the result of the actions he could possibly be untied into would create havoc amongst the community he holds within his grasp. “Now, we’re already aware that each of us hold the power to rip the other a brand new asshole, but the question is exactly what artillery remains behind those warheads. I’ll tell you this much, Tony…” John says, leaning in and holding the radio out. “... We’ve got more than enough to, cover our tracks, if you know what I mean.”
“Bullshit” the man too stubborn to listen to what’s good for him replies, being met with a disappointed stare from John. “You’re in here, holding me hostage, trying to take command from within because you don’t have the firepower to do it from the outside!” Tony replies, immediately being shut down by John, who dashes to his feet and moves within inches of Tony’s face. “That’s where you’re wrong, Tony… We chose not to start the fight from outside because we have the firepower to do so. Unlike you, we care about the people inside these walls, even if they don’t yet realize just what their governing body thinks of them.”
Staring the man in the eyes, taking control of the conversation before reminding Tony what breaking into this place entails knowing, John informs him of what is in store. “I’ve fought in countries that carry regime’s like these, and I’ll inform you of one thing, the people always put two and two together eventually. That, and watching it all unfold, is ten thousand times more satisfying than ending it with one mediocre bullet. So ask yourself this right now, if you’ve think we’ve made it this far without a mass horde of brainwashed civilians, how the fuck do you think we’ve managed to get here?”
Gritting his teeth and watching John extend the radio towards his mouth with an eyebrow raised, Tony makes a call, using the information he’s been given to assess the situation. After the few moments of tension passes, Tony looks to John with his smile back and mutters two words, watching for the man’s response. “You’re bluffing” Tony replies, eying John as he shrugs his shoulders, pouts his lips, and takes his seat upon the jurors wall again.
“Can you try to avoid these things, man?” Eddie asks, trying to convince the driver to steer clear of the dead blocking a somewhat clean roadway every few inches before listening to an eruption send off throughout the air. Ducking on instinct from the sound of the burst, Eddie looks up to find a fireball reaching well above the treelines, shooting smoke far enough into the sky for it to be barely visible near the New World Order a few miles away.
“What the fuck was that?” Eddie asks over, pulling his radio to his lips and broadcasting to whomever can hear on the other end. With a smile taking over his face, John holds the radio up, waiting for the transmission before listening to a panicked Eddie inform Tony of an unknown explosion a short distance away. “It’s coming from the other line of-” Eddie begins, shouting an unintelligible flurry of screams as another eruption, this time caught through the talkie, takes his mind away.
Staring at John with a grimace, Tony immediately spots the error of his ways, watching John enjoy the sights ahead with such glee. “We’ve got another explosion just-” Eddie begins again, only to be met with another string of much smaller explosions following soon after, bringing his van to a halt. Ducking behind whatever cover he can find in the van, Eddie orders for every line of convoy vehicles to stop in their paths. “Hold your positions, stay in your vehicles! No one advance until I give you the all clear!” Eddie demands, the entire altercation being heard in perfect quality by John and a captive Tony.
From within their respective vans, most of the members of the convoy looks around the ground, trying to find what they can to make sense of the sudden explosions. After a tense few seconds, filled with uncertainty as to whether or not they could deteriorate into a cloud of bones fragments and dead skin, the first assumptions are made from the remaining vehicles at the forefront. Waiting for Eddie to be informed by his crew mates of the nature of the incidents, John and Tony finally listen to the man broadcast his findings to them with certainty.
“The bodies on the ground!” Eddie shouts, “They’re all propped!” Taking in a breath of refreshing air, pleased with the findings of those outside, John waits for Eddie to spell it out for the imprisoned man. “We can’t go any further! The place is a minefield!” Eddie shouts, much to the delight off the smarter group. Still in their vans in the event that there are gunners waiting for the first sight of their heads, the convoy quarantine themselves within their vehicles as the smoke from the small forest fire burning as a result plumes into the sky.
Miles away, overlooking the beauty of the sights rising in the sky from the confines of the New World Order’s remains, the core group watches on with their guns drawn in the unlikely event they catch a few stragglers on the way. “I think we’ve started to make our point” Jack jokes, his arm wrapped around a happy Lauren as the couples and individuals within the group find their own comfort.
“John?” Jess radios in on the second walkie talkie, the man as chipper as she is whilst offering Tony the chance to listen in. “How’s it look?” John jokes, the woman with a smile on their daughter’s face as well as her own replying with appreciation for the beauty. “Worked to perfection” Jess replies, knowing that Tony is in the room listening in. “Hey, Tony?” Jess asks, waiting a few seconds before she assumes the man has taken his eyes and focused his attention on the radio. “Quick question, be sure to let me know if it’s too difficult to answer, but how’re those numbers you’ve got looking right about now?” Jess asks, the furious anger drenching Tony like an ice bath.
“I’ll be honest Tony, I think it’s impressive how well you’ve managed to keep this community going… I honestly mean that” John says, beginning to walk over to the man before leaning before him again. “But there’s one thing you need to understand about me that I’m not so sure you’ve really begun to get a grip on…”
Patting him on the leg and lifting the barrel of the gun to his head, tapping it as a way of pointing to his brain. “...You may lie to us, but we’ll never lie to you.” Standing to his feet whilst leaning forward, closing the gap between Tony’s face and his own, John begins to force Tony to pull as far away as his restraints will allow him. “So when I say that your numbers, your firepower, your power, and your pull doesn’t mean shit, I simply mean…”
Having pushed Tony as far back as the man can go, John pauses to smile before concluding his statement and walking away. “... I simply mean that all you have means shit.” Taking a roll of tape and tearing away a piece to put over Tony’s mouth, John takes the first radio and does his best impression of Tony. “Continue on foot, complete your mission, that’s an order” John says, much to the hatred of Tony, who is helpless to do much more than listen into Eddie acknowledging the command and issuing the rule to keep the convoy going.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
“Attention Sheol” John says, continuing to play his role as interim Tony well, even though it comes at the dismay of the actual Tony. “I wish for all residents of Sheol, civilians and guards, to join me on the stage on the main grounds right now” John states, broadcasting the message throughout every radio and loudspeaker within the city’s confines.
Within radio control, Arsenal and his supposed friends have their conversation interrupted by the two guards knocking at the door. “Sir, we’re requested at the town hall” one of the men states, only to be met with assurance that the three individuals inside have been specifically requested to remain stationed in the booth. “Who gave you that order?” the guards ask, met with a tilted head and a raised eyebrow from Arsenal, giving the guards the only sign they needed to refuse any further questions and do as told.
“If you get in trouble, it isn’t on us!” the second guard states, shutting the door on his way out and leaving the three individuals stationed within radio control to their own vices. “Tell us more about this ‘resistance’” Angela asks, putting aside her curiosity over the concept of an underground collection of people, “Why did it start?”
Taking in a deep breath, Arsenal looks at both with worry that the question is simply too big to unpack. “Well, for a start, there’s always going to be a core of people that don’t trust their leaders regardless of where or what it might be that they’re involved in” Arsenal begins, “The resistance movement, or ‘Project Promenade’ as we refer to it, really started gaining traction once we started finding people going missing.”
“Wait, back up, ‘going missing’?” Tyler asks, met with agreeance. “We started seeing people disappear back and forth, one person and then another, in a tight-knit community, people don’t just disappear without someone knowing something. It wasn’t long until people started suspecting the convoy of wrongdoings, and once that happened, people started uncovering some stuff.”
Asking what was uncovered, Angela and Tyler are aghast when the increasing mountain of truth begins piling up. “Abductions, human trafficking, cannibalism, all the fucked up shit you hear about people doing was a part of this business model the convoy leaders have been taking part in. It wasn’t long before we realized that the people going missing started having their posters being torn down every other corner. The coincidence was too much to ignore.”
“Okay” Tyler says, standing from his seat and walking over to the window, watching speed boat after speed boat fill with passengers as the center stage begins to crowd up. “How many of those people would you say are awaiting this ‘resistance’?”
Standing up and walking over to the window, Arsenal admits that the numbers probably stack up to most civilians and roughly half of the increasing numbers of guards taking the stage. “So pretty much all of Sheol?” Angela asks, watching the smile inch from ear to ear across Arsenal’s face.
“How close to your target are you?” John radios in, awaiting Eddie’s response as the man, flanked by his convoy, waltz through the maze of the undead lining the roadway. “We’re less than a few hundred feet away, waiting on your mark” Eddie states, continuing to lead his core forward. Groaning through the heavy adhesive tape over his mouth, Tony gets the attention of John and prompts the man to uncover his mouth.
“What difference do you think you’re making? You’re trying to take away the only constant these people have had since everything went to shit!” Tony argues, seeming to honestly want to find the reasoning behind John’s actions. “This is about the girl, isn’t it?” Tony asks, “You’re mad about the girl I poisoned? Is that it?”
“I’m mad about the girl you murdered, forced to fight to us and die in our arms, warning us that you’d be coming. I’m mad about her, and I’m mad about the countless others you did or would have done the same thing to if given the opportunity!” Met with a laugh, John watches the man question whether or not he’s truly seen what this world causes people to do. “I’ve seen what it makes people, what it turns them into… People like you” John states, immediately argued that it’s the people like John himself that the world turns survivors into.
“Don’t you get it? People like me have been around since well before the world fell apart, it was only more difficult to stop than it was before, that was the only difference.” Arguing to the man, telling him that the world has always been this way, Tony clings to the hope that he can get the man to view the world through his eyes. “This entire time you’ve had me restrained, you’ve been trying to get me to look at things from your point of you, so how about you take a walk in my shoes for a change, huh?”
Watching the man pull a chair up and take a seat opposite Tony, the prisoner tells John to take a glance at the world surrounding him. “There’s no money in this world, no spare change to toss at some pedestrian on the side of the road… This is survival of the fittest, the people are the ones with value, power is the currency. You better believe that I was telling you the truth when I said you’d run into people far worse than I have.”
“I find that difficult to believe” John states, met with the assurance from Tony that it would be within his best interest to start believing it. “When one of us falls, it’s going to be onto the next big bully to take your lunch money and make you his bitch, only this time, he’ll bash your friends heads in on the side of the road. You’ve got it easy with me, pal.”
Shaking his head and wandering his eyes away, John’s attention is regained by Tony as he tells him to keep his focus squarely devoted to him. “It’s genuinely nice to see you dreaming that a community exists where the citizens never have to worry about being caught on the wrong side of history, but that is exactly what it’s described as… A dream.” Leaning forward and telling John that he’s open to playing this game with him forever, Tony reminds him that he has time on his hands. “The people will be mad, they’ll try to force my hand if you give them the chance, but it will only result in one of two things…” Tony says, waiting for John to ask of them.
“...They’ll either try to change the rules and weaken this place enough to bring it down by the knees, or they’ll skip to bringing this place down by the knees and be caught within a world so drastically different they’re just as good as the dead they’re mice caught in a snakepit for.”
Silent, thinking to himself what his next approach will be, John is met with a call in from Eddie, informing John that he and the remaining members of the convoy have made it to the home. Placing the tape over the mouth of Tony once again, John instructs them to open fire on Eddie’s call. “When he gives the order, empty every clip you’ve got. I want no one left standing” John says, still doing enough justice to Tony’s voice for his order to be convincing, John listens in to Eddie begin the countdown, reaching the final second before the radio cuts off with the opening sound of gunfire.
Emptying magazine after magazine into the home, Eddie steps away from the gunfire to take care of a few undead stragglers down the road. Letting his crew take care of the undead, Eddie unsheathes a knife from his pocket carrier and takes down the stragglers in front of him before turning around to return to the group. Concealing his blade once again, Eddie readies his gun and takes aim at the home, only to be knocked on his ass by a massive explosion erupting before him, engulfing his crew in a fireball big enough to singe the hair on every exposed part of his body.
Brought to the ground by the sheer force of the blast, Eddie is helpless to do much more than watch on as the body parts of his freshly-deceased convoy guards rain from the sky like a present from the butcher’s shop. “Explosion at the home! It was a red herring!” Eddie shouts, unable to make out much more than the few words he can find beneath the sky of human remains. “Work with me, who’s standing?” John asks, assured that Eddie is the only man left standing as far as he can tell.
“Excellent” John replies, dropping the voice and closing communication, baffling Eddie beyond lines he can even make sense of. Pulling free the second radio, John calls in for Salem, “Do your thing, girl” John states, earning a smile from the woman on the other end, fixating her scope on the man sprawled upon the ground quite a ways away. Confident in her ability, the woman places her finger on the trigger and lets out a steady breath.
“Goodnight” Salem whispers to herself, pulling the trigger on her rifle and ripping a bullet through the sole survivor’s skull and splattering his brains against the pavement below. “Taken care of” Salem radios in, signalling the end of Eddie’s life to the two men on the other end, both to polarizing expressions. “Well done, Salem” John responds, met with the same confidence he’s grown to expect from their guaranteed advantage-swinger.
Returning to the man and ripping the tape from his mouth again, Tony reminds John of the amount of lives he’s damaging with the actions being taken. “You’ll be rendering these people’s lives to little more than a hope and a prayer, and since those never helped keep the world from falling into irreparable chaos, hopes and prayers are pretty ways of saying nothing!” Tony shouts, watching the man walk through the corridor and peak his head through the doorway, taking a look at the maxed out main yard.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, might I have your attention please?” John asks, his voice ringing throughout Sheol, Tony helpless to stop him as the audience gathered awaits their reasoning for being called to this event. “Take a look at the incredible people on the stage, willing to do what they can to provide for the community they love with their hearts” John says, earning a rowdy applause from the crowd, with many of the civilians hiding their disgust for the need to react in such a way beneath the crowd around them.
“I have one request of them on this very fine evening, and it is a request that some incredible people have told me should clear plenty of things up” John begins, looking through the cellar windows atop the walls to see the sights of central Sheol. Within the Radio Control tower, Tyler, angela and Arsenal look out through the observation desk to see the sight from the best view in the house.
“I would like to request that the guards belonging to the resistance please step off the main stage” John requests, immediately bringing a mixture of dread and anxiety over anyone familiar with the group. “I’ll see you soon, Tony” John states, walking through the door and approaching the main yard, earning the attention of the people questioning why he stands out from the rest. Stepping onto a small platform beside the crowd, John returns his voice to the radio, assuring the civilians can put a voice to a face. “My name is John Callis, and I promise you that the guards belonging to the resistance shall not be punished at my hand. I kindly request that they remove themselves from the platform at once.”
After a few seconds, guards begin lowering themselves from the platform in droves, leaving behind roughly half the force remaining atop the stage. “I would like the citizens of Sheol to join me in taking a look at the gentlemen remaining on the stage” John states, redirecting the crowd’s eyes to the featured presentation. Walking through the sea and joining those individuals on the stage, John waves his hand in their direction, leaving them little more choice than to obey.
“These individuals belong to a regime that has been guilty of so many crimes you wouldn’t be able to put a number to unless you added up the charges placed on every citizen of this community that has suddenly gone missing.” With those words, John has taken the audience captive in the palm of his hand, turning their reactions into whatever he wishes to mold them into. “It has been no secret that strange disappearances of normal, everyday people, have been documented throughout the history of Sheol, and I’m here to tell you right now, there is a truth to it I take pleasure in offering you.”
Understanding the gravity behind the truth he is mere seconds away from uncovering, John keeps his composure under control and remembers what his current demographic is up against. “I have the responsibility the convoy leaders in this community refuse, to affirm to you that your worst fears are, indeed, true. The people you were forced to see stripped away from you in the middle of the night, as if the boogeyman roamed the streets of the land of the dead, have all been murdered at the hands of Sheol’s authoritarian regime.”
Gasps, tears, screaming and outrage from the crowd begin to unfold, letting emotions ravage what typically prides itself on being a strong and safe community. “They have been scapegoats to a regime that wishes to blame their incompetence upon those other than themselves, and the wave of individuals upon this stage are people that have known that since they were indoctrinated into this community and have refused to step up to stop it.”
With booing now beginning to take charge, John keeps the increasingly raucous crowd calm for a few more moments to finish what needs to be done. “Some of you may know Janice Garnett” John begins, looking out at the crowd for whatever reaction he can find. “Janice was one of the many victims stolen in the middle of the night by the convoy, and died in our arms from the beating she took over the course of five days. Another one of our fellow survivors, Katherine Dawson, we call her ‘Katie’, was poisoned in our efforts to get this message out sooner. She, thankfully, survived our encounter with your regime, but these events are two of many reasons the people in this community have to demand change be implemented. There can be no further abductions under the dead of night perpetrated by the convoy, and that responsibility rests in your hands.”
With cheers having now stolen the admiration of Sheol in favor of John at the expense of a few white lies, John demands the community look throughout their quarters and shops in hopes of finding devices that the convoy has used to further ease their need to dig. “Uncover the truths you deserve to know! Enrich yourselves within the Sheolan spring!” John shouts, earning an ovation visible in drive from the perch of Radio Control.
Looking at the guards beside him at a loss for words, John turns back to the crowd with his fist high in the air. “Long live the resistance!” the man shouts, earning the biggest pop one could imagine a community finally having their freedom restored can offer. Disappearing through the crowd and sneaking away into the courtroom, John looks at a defeated, demoralized Tony before ripping the tape from his mouth for the final time.
“You’ve just killed Sheol” Tony states, refusing to even struggle against the man’s assurance that he’s only returned their rights to them. “I guess we’ll find out about that, won’t we?” John states, walking for the door before turning back and decking Tony in the face, laying a right hand right into the back of his head. “Sorry” John says, backing away from the man, “I just figured that I’d earned the first punch after all the work I did.”
“First?” Tony replies, watching John retreat before the realization is shown in his widened eyes. “No! John, no!” Tony shouts, pleading for John to return before watching the man walk through the door and prop it open with a rock. “One final announcement, Sheol!” John begins, “I stand beside the entry to what Sheol refers to as their ‘courtroom’ where those abducted met their final moments.” Watching the crowd turn their attention to him, spotting him at the bottom of a restricted dirt path, John smiles amidst a cry from Tony to spare him.
“I guess we’ll let them make that decision” John states, yelling into the radio that the man responsible, Tony himself, sits helpless in this courtroom awaiting their verdict. “You hold the power, Sheol! Innocent or guilty, make your voice heard!” John shouts, hurrying away from the entry as the screaming crowd rushes down the hill, swarming the courtroom like a pack of dogs.
“Good luck, Tony!” John shouts, running away from the crowd as they engulf the dungeon and aim to take their justice. Rushing past the crowd, John hurries for the front gates, met with a fist bump from Louis on the way out, who he hands the central radio to, telling him that he’s the man in charge now. “Thank you, John” Louis replies, met with assurance that this is only the beginning. “Whatever today brings, the aftermath will be what really hits you” John states, giving his blessing to Louis.
“Don’t let it take you out!” John states, finally being met by Alicia, Tyler and Angela just as Reggie pulls his truck up to the front gates, waiting with the rest of the group to bring them back to their hideout. “Come on, guys!” John states, met with a response has wasn’t in favor of hearing, but inevitably saw coming. “We’re staying back” Tyler says, holding Angela close. Turning slowly to meet the man, John hears Tyler assure him that Louis is going to need help, and it’s himself and Angela that will do that.
Accepting the terms laid out, John walks up to Tyler and shakes his hand, hugging him and telling him that he’s proud. “You’re the guy that I always wanted to be” John says, “Ready to stand up and do what’s necessary at a moments notice.” Tightening the hold, Tyler thanks John for everything he’s done for him. “Maybe you’re not the most likeable, and hell, maybe you can be a dumbass sometimes…” Tyler states, earning a laugh out of the man, “...But I’m thankful to have met you.”
Breaking the embrace with a closure to the handshake, and meeting both Angela and Louis with additional handshakes, the group watch on as the crowd tosses a massive rope around a tree branch atop the stage and wrap it around Tony’s neck. “Is it bad that this is a welcomed sight for us?” Tyler jokes, getting a reply from a joyous John. “Yes it is, but it’s warranted” the man replies, watching Tony, still restrained in his chair, be pulled into the air by the neck as anyone in the crowd that can grab onto the rope yanks it further back.
“Long live Sheol!” the people chant, the sight serving as a grim reminder to the wrong side of history that the power of the people doesn’t let up just because of a switch in cultural climate. Going limp in the chair, Tony finally finds himself strangled to death by the people’s revenge, bringing an end to the newly former regime of Sheol. “Let’s go! The tank’s running!” Reggie jokes, prompting John and Alicia to split from Tyler, Angela and Louis once again upon the backdrop of a new world order over Sheol.
“And you’re sure about this?” John asks, looking towards an assuring Angela and Tyler, replying that it’s the only true route they can take. “The guy’s broadcasting the town hall tonight, so if we can cut into the broadcast and make our demands, the majority of the compound will hear it” Tyler says, seated beside Angela, getting a little more comfortable with her surroundings.
“Who’s going to go in with them?” Emilio asks, watching John immediately volunteer himself. Shutting her eyes, Jess subdues her annoyance for a moment, but not well enough for Alicia to not take notice. “I’ll go. John’s done enough for us the past few days, It’s about time someone steps up for him” Alicia says, catching a look of appreciation from the woman beside her. “No, it’s too risky” John attempts to argue, not getting very far before Alicia walks up to and pats him on the back.
“Do you know which chick you’re talking to?” Alicia says, jokingly mocking both herself and John. “Take a rest big guy, you’ve earned it” she concludes, asking Tyler and Angela where the control booth will be. “That’s the big issue, no one really knows who he is, let alone where his station is” Angela acknowledges, only to bet met with the question of who he most likely is.
“He’s been critical of everyone, the convoy leaders included, so he must be someone respected. The best I’ve got for a place is in the metro sector” Angela concludes, immediately met with question as to what she’s referring to with ‘metro sector.”
“It’s a block of stores and homes on the other side of the lake” Tyler explains, immediately giving John a gleeful pep to his step. “I don’t like smiling John” Tyler jokes, “Smiling John doesn’t seem like regular John and it’s really freaky.”
Waltzing to the man and patting him on the shoulder, John realizes what a completely separate section of the compound means for everyone here. “What do you mean?” Tyler asks, watching John pace around the room with his hands folded. “If there are enough people there for it to be a ‘metro’ area, we could blend in without issue! Disappear into a crowd and stay as we please. It’s how we can get inside without too much of a risk of getting caught!”
Delighted by the realization, and panning around the room to see people slowly coming on board with his train of thought, John guarantees the group that it’s the perfect plan B. Thinking to himself for a moment as the group watches, awaiting the concoction he’s brewing in his head to be spilled upon the table, John takes a seat and states that there is a new plan.
Wheels screeching to a halt at the base of a long, lucious fauna-covered hilltop, Angela, Tyler and Alicia disembark the truck and say their goodbyes to John. “Call for help if something’s up, we’ll be waiting by this thing twenty-four seven” John says, tossing Alicia a walkie talkie and driving off, kicking up grass and dirt on his path as he heads off.
Climbing the hill, evading the overbearing limbs of nature’s soldiers surrounding them at all ends, the trio get to a fence and clip a portion big enough to squeeze through. “Just a bit past this trail, we’ll split up and meet back near the lakefront. Got it?” Tyler asks, hugging Alicia and telling her to stay safe, directing her towards the center of town and watching her disappear beneath a sea of people, engulfed like a block of wood in a grease fire.
“We’re playing with fire right now” Tyler mutters, looking at Angela shake her head with an unusual level of confidence. “They started flinging the fire, it’s up to us to show everyone else that” Angela replies, looking back to the man as he pulls her in for a hug, walking off and disappearing into the crowd of people as well, following Alicia’s steps and reuniting themselves with the ways of Sheol.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Brushing past people with an apology for each shoulder shoved, Alicia begins feeling the strain of a city life she had become numb to the idea of. Looking around and doing her best to mirror walking patterns, conversation starters and learn what she can from what’s said around her, the woman ends up at a little intersection in the road, showing a picture-perfect view of the lake gleaming from the focused sunlight above.
“This place doesn’t feel real” Alicia whispers to herself, looking at couples sitting on benches and enjoying the view, and others having a swim and kayaking. “You new here?” Alicia hears a woman ask, turning around to spot a woman walking towards her with a welcoming smile. “Yeah, mostly new to this whole side. I’m from across the lake” Alicia replies, doing her best to conjure a story from the little information she has.
“The view’s always one of the first things people really notice when they hop across. Most come after the early hours when it’s just the people crossing, so they’re always around when swimming and fishing’s allowed” the woman replies, standing beside Alicia and taking in the view. “Makes it look kind of like a beach, huh?” the woman asks, watching Alicia nod with a one word reply.
“Shy?” the woman asks, extending her hand and welcoming her to Sheol Center. “I’m Bristol, Bristol Saville. I run the salon in the mornings just past the turnpike. It’s nice to meet you” the woman says, bringing Alicia into a weird semi-state of deja vu, just expecting the walls to fall and the undead to overrun everything that breaths. “Alicia, Alicia Haven” the woman continues, introducing herself as the view of the waterfront steals her attention again.
“What’s got you crossing the water, Alicia?” the woman asks, Alicia stumbling over what to respond with. “I’m actually looking for the radio guy” Alicia asks, her voice lacking emphasis in fear that even saying that much would jeopardize her anonymity. “RC Jackrabbit? Why are you looking for him?” the woman asks, enthusiastically surprised. “I was hoping to get an announcement to him, I’ve uh” Alicia begins, stopping as she notices a speedboat trailing across the water, forcing everyone in the water to return to land.
“You said you worked the salon, right?” Alicia asks, “Any place to get coffee around here, too?” Enthused, the girl tells her to follow, leading her towards the cafe as the world around continues to move at its own pace. “So what was the announcement?” the woman asks, watching Alicia curiously lean in. “The announcement for the RC?” the woman reiterates, prompting a sudden realization of the original conversation.
“Yeah, um, you know the-” Alicia begins, continuing to flail over what to say as Bristol becomes bewitched, awaiting the conclusion to the story-long explanation. “The clothes shop, just- just up there?” Alicia asks, pointing in a random direction. Not familiar with the storefront mentioned, the woman asks Alicia to continue on anyway. “Well, they were looking for someone to run a sale memo over the RC and I volunteered” Alicia explains, literally grasping at whatever she can to make a coherent statement, which becomes more difficult than it should with every switch of pace.
“Only problem is I never thought to ask where the RC booth was, so I have no clue where to go” Alicia explains, confusing herself to such a degree that even Bristol might be questioning her own sanity. “Well, that’s certainly a… noble thing to do, but I don’t think I can really help you with that.”
“Why not?” Alicia asks, listening to the reasoning she wanted to hear the least. “Well, most civilians don’t know where the RC is, only the convoy leaders. I’m surprised they gave you the announcement, but you might want to hand it off to whichever convoy leader you find next.” Nodding in compliance but kicking her own ass in her head, Alicia thanks the girl for the coffee and attempts to leave, only to turn around, feeling guilty for suddenly ditching the woman who just gave her more knowledge than even Angela gave her.
“This place really isn’t safe for my fucked up conscience” Alicia whispers to herself, taking a seat back at the table and trying to get to know the girl, continuing the conversation whilst plotting her next step.
“Breathe, it’s all going to be fine” Tyler says, watching Angela try hats on as if this was just another day in paradise, whilst the woman writhes in her own anxiety. Walking to her and rubbing her arms, Tyler locks eyes with Angela through the reflection and tells her that she’s changing the world for the good. “That’s not something you should worry over, I’ve already promised you that I will never let you get hurt, and I am not keen on breaking that promise.”
Turning around, Angela plants a kiss on the man and folds into his arms, thanking him. “Why are you thanking me?” Tyler asks, intrigued but curious. “I would’ve kept being blind to all of this if you hadn’t convinced me to follow you out there. I’d just be another person blindly allowing them to walk over me if they found the need to.”
Placing her hands on Tyler’s cheeks, gliding the knuckle of her index finger over his scars, Angela tells Tyler that he’s saved her from being just like Janice whenever the events would have taken shape. “Do you think Louis would let that happen?” Tyler asks, watching the split concern draw over her like a curtain cutting the actors from the crowd. “I don’t know if he’d have a choice” Angela admits, bringing a level of worry over Louis.
“Do you think Louis would say something he shouldn’t if Tony didn’t know?” the man asks, switching the question to better illustrate his current mindset. “Are you suggesting we let Louis in on the plan?” Angela asks, watching Tyler scuffle with the concept, playing around with it like it’s a toy. “I mean, John’s got us on the inside… We could benefit from having someone deeper inside than we are” Tyler suggests, immediately forcing another wave of anxiety over Angela.
“I’m not suggesting that we need to” Tyler recapitulates, “I’m asking whether or not you think he’d be someone we could rely on if an emergency button was desperately needed.” Taking a seat behind the winded Angela, Tyler tells her he’s only looking to see what Angela thinks. “I’m not going to make any call that you don’t trust, so think about it” Tyler states, locking eyes with Angela and kissing her again. “We don’t need to over-rely on something when it’s not a concern to start with, so let’s not worry ourselves over this” Tyler says, embracing Angela again.
Looking to the front of the store as Angela’s head tucks up to his chest, Tyler notices a figure draped in black, leaning against the entry to a tackle shop, and staring daggers at him. “Angela” Tyler whispers, shaking her as the man stands straight and takes off. Getting up and rushing towards the front, Tyler looks into the sea of people to find the man having disappeared, lost to the crowd and vanishing into thin air. “Tyler, what’s wrong?” Angela asks, noticing Tyler’s hands shaking.
“There was a guy” Tyler replies, met with a mirror of his statement from the woman. “Yes, a guy. Dressed like the guards, he just stared at me!” Tyler replies, met with concern as Angela tells him to treat it as a coincidence. “He did this before... back when I first showed up. He just vanished the second I looked twice. This isn’t a coincidence.”
Staring off into the crowd, both survivors look on just as Angela tells Tyler to follow her, leading him around the crowd and off into the distance as Sheol Center increases in population the longer the day carries on.
“Finally!” Alicia exclaims, meeting Tyler and Angela at the front of Sheol Center. “What’ve you got?” Tyler asks, tucking his hands in his pockets and leaning against a wall whilst Angela plants her hands into her back pockets. “I’ve got bad news” Alicia states, almost immediately making Tyler want to remove his hands from his pockets to facepalm. “After everything, that’s the last thing that I want to hear” Tyler states, watching Alicia’s nonchalant response, treating it like the bad news isn’t too bad.
“Only the convoy leaders know where the RC is. If you want to get to this rabbit guy, you’ll need a convoy leader to take you there.” Mouth agape and arms extended, Tyler asks why Alicia thinks this isn’t a big deal. “You said she’s got a leader friend, right?” Alicia asks, immediately drawing both back into annoyance.
“Alicia, we don’t know if he can be trusted with this kind of thing” Angela says, only to be met with the same question from Alicia that Tyler handed to her earlier. “I don’t know! I don’t talk about this kind of stuff with him!” Angela replies, trembling at the worry that her reliance has been on the cards handed to her rather than the game itself. “We may not need to” Tyler replies, catching the allure of the group as he begins to formulate a crazy enough plan that just might work. “Would Louis be home right now?” Tyler asks, assured that every convoy leader would be getting ready at home for their town halls at this time.
Adjusting his tie, Louis approaches the front of his home as the doorbell sounds off and is welcomed to the sight of John Callis holding him at gunpoint with his finger held to his lips. After a tension-filled few seconds, Tyler, Angela and Alicia walk into view, further shocking Louis, dumbfounded at the unheard of sights. “Is this place bugged?” John whispers, watching Louis stutter over his thoughts before answering. “No, the convoy heads don’t get bugged” Louis replies, stepping back as John waves his hand towards him, entering the house as Alicia shuts the door behind them.
“Angela, why?” Louis asks, only for John to assure him that this has nothing to do with him. “She’s not here to hurt you, she’s here to help them” John says, pointing his gun at the massive glass wall overlooking Sheol Center. “What are you talking about?” Louis asks, immediately met with hostility from Alicia. “Don’t fuck around, Louis. You used Janice Garnett as a scapegoat to cover up your actions, and you killed her doing so” the woman says, met with, “We’re not going to let that happen again” from John.
“Look, I didn’t want to kill her, but what other choice did I have?” Louis asks, met with the obvious from Angela, who stands front and center awaiting a response. “If we don’t do what’s asked of us, we’re committing treason. If Tony demands something be done, it’s either do it or die. I had no other option.”
“Treason is committing the crime of trying to overthrow a government, refusing to torture someone isn’t treason” Tyler argues, only to be met with a separate definition from the man in the luxury suit. “Sheol changes whatever they want. If they say one thing means another, that’s law. Abide by it or die, we’ve all got a price.”
The statement giving sense to the way Tony’s referred to the people he’s taken captive. “Everyone’s currency” John mutters to himself, earning everyone’s attention, but more specifically Louis’. “If he wants silence, he can buy it. The people are Sheol, but the people are also currency. Silence costs a life, sometimes more.”
“That’s seriously fucked up” Tyler exclaims, met with agreement from their captive. “There’s very few that are exempt from that level of treatment, the convoy leaders are one of them until they start losing their value.” Asking the man what happens when convoy leaders get hurt, Alicia is met with the reply she was dreading having to hear. “Again, the convoy leaders are valuable until their value starts dropping.”
“This isn’t an authoritarian state” John says to himself, finally putting together why Sheol looks and feels eery despite looking like paradise in the middle of volcanic hell. “It’s a dictatorship ran by an authoritarian” John says, looking for a response from the man, only earning it in the form of his head hanging.
Biting his lip and worrying this is the wrong moment to pick, Tyler plays his cards and rolls the dice, filling Louis in on the basics. “We need to send a warning over the station” Tyler says, prompting every set of eyes in the room to dart his way. “Tell us where the radio control is and how to get there” the man concludes, looking to Angela before anyone else and watching the worry on her face.
“Wh- What warning?” Louis asks, thrown for a loop at the request he did not expect to accompany this kind of setup. “You just want to make an announcement?” Louis asks, less on edge and more baffled at the lengths they’ve taken. “We know you have a bomb, and we know that you’re aware that we have one too. We don’t want to let things escalate to that point, so this is our final attempt at ending things without any further bloodshed.”
Hearing John out, understanding that this is his way of keeping the thousands of civilians within Sheol’s walls from having to die or become misplaced, Louis fights his gut instinct and accepts to play his part. “Fine, I’ll play along… Just never mention me having anything to do with this, got it?” Accepting the terms, Louis fills in the blanks in the group’s plan.
“I’ll meet you all at the gates you came from when I can, just keep a low profile until then” Louis states, splitting away from the group before calling for John. “Listen, I know you come from a very different world than I do, so I get that you aren’t sure if you can trust me or not, and I’m fine with that” Louis begins, telling John that he couldn’t care less about the convoy, he cares about the people. “Most of these guys would be dead on arrival without this place, and I can’t let that happen. So if you’re serious about wanting to do whatever it takes to stop there from being bloodshed, I’ll do whatever you need me to do, just say the word, got it?”
Biting his lip and reminding Louis of the circumstances, John reminds him what kind of threat they’re dealing with. “This isn’t someone that wants what’s best for the community, he wants what’s best for himself and the people in power. I’ll do whatever I can, but I can’t promise blood won’t be shed when half of that promise relies on a man willing to kill whomever it takes to keep a hold on his control.”
“I get that, and if blood is shed because of that, I’m not putting any blame on your shoulders… I just need you to know that the only way I’m on board with your plan is if the bloodshed in question isn’t of your cause.” Nodding, John tells him that he’s glad to be on the same page as him before shaking his hand and returning to the group. “One more thing!” Louis says, tossing John a radio and telling him how to operate it. “Channel 46 is how we’ll talk, channel 77 will tune you into Radio Control. I never want you more than the switch of a dial away” Louis says, earning a two finger salute from the man before he vanishes into the crowd.
“Are you ready?” John asks, watching the three survivors around him dissipate into their separate stations before heading for the lake to await a boat to take him to the Sheol compound. Still in Sheol Center, Tyler and Angela race up a flight of stairs and approach a small shack atop a staircase tucked away from public view. At the top, Tyler and Angela are confronted by two guards, guns drawn at the pairing and demanding to know how they found entry into the space.
“Woah! We just stumbled onto it, we didn’t know what was up here!” Tyler replies, playing doltish whilst slowly readying to pull a gun from his back pocket. “Go back now!” one of the guards shouts, only to find his attempt at persuading the guests to leave thwarted by the Radio Control door opening, and a man far too familiar to Tyler walks free from it. “Gentlemen, what seems to be the problem here?” a man dressed in black asks, immediately catching an eye on Tyler.
“Well hello, friend!” the man says, assuring the guards that they’re friends just a little caught off guard by the drawn weapons. “Sir, they’re not supposed to be here” one of the guards argues, only to be immediately met with resistance from the man above. “Are you really trying to argue with the voice of Sheol as you hold two of its finest at gunpoint?” the man states, looking back to the pair and demanding the guards lower their weapons.
Doing so, the guards reluctantly allow safe passage for Tyler and Angela to climb the remaining steps and enter the lair of Radio Control. “You’re Jackrabbit?” Angela asks, watching the man remove his vintage shades and long black coat. “More importantly” Tyler butts in, “You’re the guy who’s been stalking me?”
With a smile and a wink, Jackrabbit answers both questions. “Yes, I’m indeed Jackrabbit, however you may call me Arsenal if you please… And what you appear to call stalking is what I refer to as admiring.” Shaking the mixture of bewilderment from his face, Tyler asks why he’s put such an eye on him. “Why wouldn’t I? What with you leading the resistance and all?” Arsenal replies, layering on another patch of intrigue.
“What the fuck do you mean by ‘the resistance’?” Tyler replies, pleased at the genuine lack of knowledge on display. “The group that most people quietly believe are going to set the record straight on the people that run Sheol. We refer to them as ‘the resistance’, it’s pretty much the only thing we count on anymore.”
Taking in a deep breath and attempting to find a response, Tyler gives up and takes a seat. “I don’t even know why I try to figure out what’s going on anymore” Tyler says to himself, his questioning carried on by Angela. “Who belongs to this ‘resistance’ thing?” Angela questions, “Where the hell do you meet if every place in this city is bugged?”
“Easy” Arsenal replies, “We hold our meeting over in the main yard.” Even more bewildered Tyler repeats the statement with humor, mocking the idea. “The one place no one expects to see people trying to overthrow the government is right below their nose. It’s perfect” Arsenal replies, taking a seat at his desk and surveying the town hall setup nearing the final few minutes before showtime. “You’re trying to disrupt the broadcast, aren’t you?” Arsenal asks, further surprising Tyler, somewhat impressed at the same time as being aggravated that he’s figured out so much of the plan without having to lift a finger.
“We’ve always suspected that this would be the first step. It doesn’t spill blood, at least not too much… And it’s the easiest moment in the process.” Now back to a seat and latching onto that final statement, Tyler asks Arsenal to elaborate. “The process you’re going to take to start the resistance. You infiltrate the radio waves, stir up some drama and hope the community takes the steps to overthrow the convoy themselves. If not, you’ll have something in store for an alternative to get it done yourselves.”
“So you’re actually on board with this place going down?” Angela asks, watching Arsenal reply with what appears to be obvious compliance. “Most of the people in the guard station only signed up to get used to the outer world. When they come back, they teach the people in secret that the guards wouldn’t accept.” Fascinated by the final aspect of that piece, Tyler asks, “So there are guards that are already waiting for the ‘resistance’?”
Laughing, Arsenal assures Tyler that it’s a greater number than what he thinks. “If Tony thinks all of his guards are devoted to his greater cause, he’s just under halfway wrong. We’ve essentially dug into the guard service and started spreading a virus.” Stumbling upon a realization, Angela states that the guards must already be onto it. “Oh, they’ve been aware of us for a long time. They just don’t know which is which, that’s why they’ve bugged rooms. Hell, that’s why they bigged my station!”
Leaping to his feet, Tyler asks for clarification. Reaching below his desk, Arsenal pulls a small microphone taped below the desk, immediately finding a gun drawn in his face from Tyler. “Relax, kid… We’ve already redirected the feed to a prerecorded loop. They still think it’s active and they never ask questions” Arsenal replies, “One of the dumbest things they ever thought to do was try and spy on a computer nerd, and then tell him where the microphone was hidden.”
With a smile, despite the gun scratching the itch at the tip of his nose, Arsenal stands up and walks over to his patio overseeing Sheol below. “It’s almost time to start the show” Arsenal replies, “You guys in or out?” Looking to each other, Tyler tucks his gun back behind his belt as the pair take a seat across from the far-too enthused radio operator.
“That will conclude our town hall, thank you ladies and gentlemen for joining us. Thank you to the people listening from home, we appreciate the support and we look forward to doing this again soon! Take care, Sheol!” Tony states, eliciting a crowd of roaring applause that mirrors that of a forced attendance as he picks up his sports jacket and walks for the end of the stage.
“Tony!” Louis calls, handing the man a note left by one of the assistants, “Apparently Salmanecci called, wants you to get back to him as soon as you can.” Looking at the note before looking back to Louis, “Didn’t Salmanecci know about the town hall?”
“I know he did, which is why I’m worried this is important” Louis replies, wishing him luck in taking the call with a pat on the back to show for it as the Convoy leader walks from the stage and shakes a few hands on his way back to his office. Out of sight from the crowd, Tony leans over to the guard accompanying him and asks why they’re taking the long route back to his office. “There’s report of a disturbance, I’ve been told to redirect you through the back” the guard replies, rounding a corner and approaching a door.
“We’re going through the courtroom?” Tony asks, met with the question of “That’s what you call it?” from John as he holds a gun to Tony’s head. “You motherfucker” Tony replies, watching the smile he’s put on for John so many times prior transfer over to John’s face. “Let’s take a walk, shall we?” John implies, nodding his head for Tony to unlock the door before the pair escape from the watchful eye of Sheol’s big brother-like complex and into the depths most residents wouldn’t even be aware of the existence of.
“You’re sure about this?” Jess asks, walking up to John and wrapping her arms around him as he packs whatever they have in the room for the road. “We don’t have much of a choice” John replies, gliding his thumb over her knuckles and kissing her head. “Tyler isn’t coming back, Emilio and Bill are heading their separate directions, and we don’t know if these convoy guys are going to come looking for us” the man says, feeling Jess tuck her head into his back.
“Can we bring this, mommy?” Amy asks, walking into the room with a rubber ball, breaking the moment between her parents. “Sure sweetheart” Jess replies, picking the little girl up and bringing her to John, who plays a brief game of catch with her before returning to packing. “Where’s uncle Tyler?” the girl asks, causing John to walk back to her and take her into his arms. “Uncle Tyler’s not coming with us, Ames” John replies, met with the obvious question of why.
“Uncle Tyler moved away, and he’s going to be staying there from now on” John replies, again met with the same question in return. “Because he really likes where he moved, Amy” John replies again, met with a different question this time around. “Can we go there, too?” Amy asks, dropping the ball into Jess’ hands. “No, we have to go somewhere else” John answers, met with the same original retort once more. “Because we’re going to find some place better!” John returns, met with Amy’s question of, “Why won’t Tyler come with us then?”
Attempting to speak, John stops himself and thinks over his response, which hurts to even acknowledge, but must be said eventually. “Because Tyler thinks he’s in the best place… Even though it’s not” John returns, watching Amy comply with the response and be taken into her mothers arms. Eventually, John spots Katie walking by the doorway, already weakened from the days spent throwing up and being bed ridden.
“Woah there, you need to take a seat and cool off” John says, hurrying to the girl and helping her keep to her feet. “We’re heading out soon, John… I need to be on my feet” Katie replies, accepting John’s assistance as they walk past Emilio and Bill’s room. Before they can make it past, John is forced to stop when Katie calls over to the pairing. “You sure you want to leave?” Katie asks, earning the stare from both men at once. “You guys don’t even know where you’re going yet” Bill asks, being met with the same retort from Katie, reminding them, “The only thing you know you’re doing is not coming with us. You don’t know where you’re heading either.”
“We’ve got a few places in mind” Emilio replies, folding a pair of jeans and dropping them into his suitcase. “We’ve got our beach house in South Carolina” Bill replies, watching Emilio add on, “Bill’s family home in Toronto, my family home in Atlanta.”
“We’ve got options” Bill says, loading his firearms and tucking them away in storage. “I wish you luck, guys” John replies, watching the two nod towards him, keeping the sides on good terms. “John!” a woman’s voice cries out from outside the house, prompting John to rush Katie over to the couch and join Jess in rushing through the front door, met with the sight of blinding sunlight just overhead and three people marching towards the home. “Who is it?” John asks, hurrying over to see Alicia and Franklin rushing towards the group to help.
“Tyler, Janice and some other chick” Meghan replies, watching John rush over to the trio and help carry them inside. Back in the house, John and Franklin lay a heavily beaten Janice out on the old bed at the end of the room, horrifying some of the survivors in the home at the level of damage. “What the hell happened?” John asks, watching Cameron and Heather check for whatever they can, finding a very faint pulse and a low heartbeat.
“We just found her in the woods next to the compound! She was already like this!” Tyler replies, pausing for a moment as Amy shrieks in horror once in the room, immediately taken away by Jess. “Janice? Can you hear me?” Heather asks, watching the woman use whatever strength she can to lift her thumb. “Did she tell you anything?” Emilio asks, he and his husband hurrying into the living room. “She said they did it” Tyler replies, met with the question of who from Lauren. “Them. The people at Sheol. They carried her there and dumped her, that’s all we know” Tyler replies, trembling at the explanation whilst he holds a shaking Angela close.
Handing the pair bottles of water, Alicia asks when they knew she was there. “We ran into each other on the main grounds. We talked for a little bit about her not trusting the place, I didn’t see her after that.”
“Where did you talk to her?” Katie asks, met with Tyler’s answer of his quarters. “What?” Tyler asks, confused as John places his hands to his head and begins pacing back and forth. “Tyler, they’ve got your room bugged! They heard everything you two talked about!” John explains, further cautioning the man. “How would you know?” Tyler asks, his answer coming from Katie rather than John. “They caught us at those woods, Tyler. Cut us off and dragged us back in this basement” Katie replies, her response being finished by John. “They poisoned Katie. She took Emilio’s spot and then they dumped us into the street. They told us everything.”
Blasted by the revelations, Tyler and Angela start looking around the room until Janice calls for John, prompting him to lean up to her mouth. “They blame the people for what they do” Janice musters, expending whatever energy she has left to get the words out. “They’re afraid of you. They think you have a bomb like theirs” Janice says, confusing John. “We don’t have a bomb, Janice” the man replies, prompting him to wonder if she’s in her right mind.
Doing her best to pull him close, Janice replies, “The wine cellar. New World Order. C4, lots of it.” Pulling away from the woman, slowly looking back to her, he watches her explain that they’ll come for them at any time. “They want control. They won’t stop what they’re doing. More people will die. You will die if you don’t defend yourselves” the woman concludes, watching John walk into the middle of the room, surrounded by everyone that was there on that one rainy night days ago.
“John? What’re we gonna do?” Troy asks, only to be met with the man turning his focus from him and onto Tyler, still staring at Janice with Angela tucked in his arms, distraught at the sight and aghast by the sudden rush of emotions in the room. Before long, Tyler notices John’s eyes locked onto him, and prepares for the ultimatum to be issued. “Tyler, I need to know right now whose side you’re on. It’s either us or them, choose now” John replies, watching the man look towards Angela, staring at everyone in the room with overbearing guilt.
Realizing the ultimatum isn’t his alone to make, John assures the two that Angela will be welcomed if she wishes to be. “This is the first time she’s ever been outside those gates” Tyler replies, “She hasn’t seen most of the stuff we saw in the first few days. You still gonna give her that guarantee?” Cautious in his retort, Tyler grows defensive before John walks up to him and places his hand on his shoulder.
“Tyler, I served in the military. I know what happens when governments try to persuade the people into believing them without question, so I don’t blame you for the decision you made, but I will on the decision you make right now” John replies, telling the two the offer still stands. “She’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly, that’s just how it is. You’ll both be welcomed here, but I need to know where you stand.”
Before answering, Angela makes the decision for him. “We’re with you” the woman replies, putting a surprised smile on John’s face as Tyler nods in agreement, “I told you she’ll get the hang of it” John replies, walking over to Troy, Salem, Alicia and Franklin to tell them to get ready. “Where are we going?” Alicia asks, putting on her coat and picking up an assault rifle.
“I’m coming too” Emilio replies, met with the same response from Bill, as both get their things to prepare for departure. “We’re not letting this stand. They attack one of ours, we attack them back. This is war” John replies, one final voice speaking up to join him in wherever they’re going. “Look after Amy while we’re out” Jess calls over to the group staying by before walking up to John. “I’m coming with you” Jess declares, putting another smile on John’s face. “We’re going back to the New World Order” John states, putting a look of shock on everyone’s face. “Why the New World Order? What’s left there for us?” Franklin asks, watching John turn to him with a signature smile. “A little firepower” John responds, leading the group through the front door on course for a return to home.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
“This is it” John exclaims, rolling to a stop at the entrance to the New World Order, hidden away behind the overgrown plant life. Silent around the vehicle, the group looks out at the land they used to call home reduced to a massive landscape of blackened death, covered over with heaps of rubble and ash. “This place looks disastrous” Jess states, looking out at the collapsed buildings and charred trees surrounding the main walls, which have been mostly beaten in by this point.
“I was never a fan of this place and yet I still think this is a sad sight” Emilio remarks, watching the vehicle pass through the front gates and enter what looks like earth’s entry into purgatory. Each stretch of land passed shows the further decay of whatever used to reside within, offering no variety of life to balance out the death.
“Where are we supposed to be going?” Salem asks, watching John bring the vehicle to a stop as they are confronted with the collapsed remains of the Callis Residence, forcing them to fight the remaining distance on foot. Unbuckling themselves from whatever seatbelts they have on, the group steps onto the ground for the first time, taking a first-hand look at what remains of the once lively community.
“Didn’t Charlotte say there used to be more of these?” Bill asks, pulling his rifle over his shoulder and following the group as they lock the doors behind themselves and begin their journey over and around the debris. “She said something about there being a possibility we weren’t the only New World Order to fall back on, but she might have been lying about that, too” John states, helping the group over a mound of debris from a collapsed shed before continuing for the back. “Janice said there’d be a lot of C4 in the wine cellar at the back, so let’s get what we need and get out be-” John says, stopping to duck behind cover as gunshots ring out, forcing everyone to whatever they can get to.
“Stop! We’re just passing by! We mean you no harm!” John calls out, only to be met with further rounds of gunfire as a sort of warning shot. “Who are you?” A familiar voice calls, the sound of it being met with brief silence from everyone hiding behind cover as they try to recall the origins of it. “I’m John Callis. I’m with a few members of my group, we’re just looking to pass by here” the man shouts, listening to the gun wielded by the shooter drop to the ground, a sign for the group to come from hiding.
“Come out!” the voice shouts, prompting the group to slowly rise to their feet and notice the man of which the voice belongs to. “Reggie?” Jess asks, looking at the man stationed at the top of a pile of heavy rubble with a rifle placed to the ground by his side. “Holy shit” John whispers to himself, watching the man slowly descend from atop his platform and walk up to the group, meeting them in the middle of what used to be their home.
Embracing with the man, covered in the dust from the ash around, his former New World Order survivors meet him with the same question. “What happened? We thought you left” Bill says, being the first to ask the question. “I did” Reggie replies, hanging his head at the memory returning to him. “I came back a few weeks later, I think it was a few weeks later” Reggie continues, being met with the same realization as John. “After the second war” John states, watching Reggie nod with him.
“That’s why you all left?” Reggie asks, watching John pick up the conversation. “Charlotte’s people came back” the man replies, earning Reggie’s undivided attention. “They took the north wall, let the scavengers in. We were picked dry. Everything was on fire, we had to retreat once our numbers started bottoming out.”
“You see it was all burned when I came back” Reggie admits, “the forest around it was still burning, but the fire already did its thing with the city. I saw skeletons, some people had a little bit of skin left, but not much. I didn’t know whether you guys actually made it out or not.”
“So you just… stayed?” Jess asks, waiting for Reggie to take a moment to gain his composure, becoming emotional at the thought of being alone in such a puzzling world. “Since everything’s gone down, you’re the only group I’ve ever been a part of. Once that was gone, in a world with plenty of sick people to go around… I didn’t have much of a choice.”
“How’s she doing, Cam?” Tyler asks, hand over his mouth looking at the beaten woman helplessly laid atop the table. “She’s been going in and out of consciousness, she can’t feel some parts of her body at times, and she’s stopped remembering how she got here when she is awake.”
“How bad is that?” Tyler asks, watching Cameron struggle to piece together an adequate diagnosis. “Just remember, Heather and I have medical training, but we’re not doctors. So don’t take what I say as life or death, but to me, this looks like her brain is swelling. Couple that with the shattered knee, the appearance of having been waterboarded… It looks... “
Stopping, Cameron prompts Tyler to ask him to finish his statement. “... It looks really bad” the man concludes, met with the question of whether or not they can fix it. “The knee can be healed and rehabbed, I just don’t know to what extent. She’d have trauma, but I can’t alleviate the swelling. No one here would be able to perform that kind of procedure.”
“So she’d die?” Tyler replies, asking the man who looks back to him and nods once, confirming his suspicions. Stood beside the doorway to the front yard, Meghan and Lauren walk through the front door and are soon followed by Jack, who takes Lauren in his arms and tells her that things will be fine. “No, they don’t Jack!” Lauren replies, “Those people tortured her to cover up their wrongs, and now she’s probably going to die because of it.”
“Maybe that’s the best thing for her” Meghan replies, catching the attention of the couple as she stares out into the empty road. “Why would you say that kind of thing?” Lauren asks, Jack’s hands stroking her arms in hopes of keeping her calm. Turning to face the woman who asked the question, Meghan throws her hand out at the front, waving it towards the world around them. “This world took her kid, Lauren” Meghan replies, Lauren rolling her eyes at the response. “She left because we wouldn’t let her kill the woman that killed her kid, and then we let her kids murderer go free! This world has been nothing but shitty to her!” Meghan argues, being met with a simple, “Fuck you!” in return.
“Yeah! Fuck me for telling the truth instead of holding your hand and lying about how it’ll all be okay!” Meghan shouts, watching the woman turn back to her and get in her face. “You stupid bitch!” Lauren shouts, “Just because you do nothing around here, doesn’t give you the right to dictate how people that actually get shit done should see the world!”
“You want me to lie, Lauren?” Meghan asks, being given the freedom to do so by the woman, backing away and letting her go off. “Fine! Let’s start off with how great John and Jess are doing as parents, or even as a couple in general! Or how about we start with almost half our group running off because they don’t want to get killed like the rest of us? Or what about you and Jack standing there because you needed a rebound after your murdering girlfriend got shot by a fucking kid!”
By this point, a small crowd has gathered in the doorway, watching this argument begin to unfold. Finally, Lauren boils over enough to knock Meghan on her ass with a punch, shattering her nose. Trying to climb on top of the girl, Lauren struggles to break free of Jack, who has tried to keep the two separated before the group gets involved. Eventually, the pair are kept apart and Meghan storms through the front door, flipping Lauren off as the woman in the front yard continue goating her on.
“Come on and finish what we started you fucking bitch!” Lauren shouts, still being held back by Jack before pushing away and walking off down the street. “Go make sure she doesn’t get herself in trouble!” Troy orders, granting Jack permission to chase after Lauren as the rest of the group stands by in the middle of the yard.
“And you’re trying to get into the wine cellar?” Reggie asks, met with assurance on John’s part. “I won’t lie, I haven’t looked to get in there at all, I was always told we were stockpiling something in there, I just never knew what” Reggie says, climbing over rubble before pulling a few chunks of debris away with help from the rest of the group.
“So what did you say you needed?” Reggie asks, continuing to help uncover the cellar doors. “There’s apparently a bunch of C4 stored away down here, we’re hoping to come away with as much as we can get” John admits, prompting Reggie to take a step back and ask what the C4 is needed for.
“We’re sort of in the middle of a fight with another community. They’re… They’re not exactly the most civilized.” Looking to Reggie as he closes his mouth and tilts his head, “You’re going to war again?” Reggie asks, persuading John to hang his head, ashamed that history has come to repeat itself. “I guess that’s all the world really is now, huh?” Reggie asks, intriguing John, who asks what he means by that.
“You find a good thing until someone comes and fights you for it. Whoever survives wins and goes on to fight the next guy that wants it. Rinse, wash, repeat.” Encouraging the entire group to drop what they’re lifting and look over to both John and himself, Reggie continues shifting through the rubble. Before he can reach down for the next piece, John walks closer to him and raises his finger, “We’re gonna find a place no one can take, believe that.”
Laughing off the warning and meeting John in closing the space between them, Reggie raises his finger and responds with, “Unless you’re place is over the clouds, no you wont.” Laughing at the idea of John actually believing in a safe haven, Reggie turns around and notices the confidence of the group begin to deplete in bunches. “Guys, the goal isn’t to make something impenetrable, the goal is to be strong enough to never be unable to lose what’s yours” Reggie says, finally acknowledging the elephant in the room and asking why they’re at war with these people.
“They kidnapped Tyler” John begins, earning Reggie’s attention in a way nothing he had said earlier could. “They almost killed Katie” John continues, now watching the expression on their newly reunited survivor’s face. “Beat Janice so badly she almost doesn’t look the same… We don’t even know if she’s still alive, they’ve got an eye on her as we speak.”
Swallowing his pride and taking back what he said earlier, Reggie drops the humor and moves in close to John, reminding him of something he hopes was not lost once the community around them was reduced to rubble. “Before the first war, you told everyone that you were going to change. You were going to be a better leader and do what you could to make sure their lives were valued in ways no one else could promise them.”
Having earned the attention of John, Reggie puts his hand on John’s shoulder and tells him to find the fire that led to that speech that gave the New World Order the chance to live long enough to see a second war. “Without that fire, this place would have fallen in the first war. Do your part to make sure these people, and the ones you left back where you came from, are valued. There is no point in living in this world if you’re going to drop the humanity that made it what it was in the first place.”
Looking Reggie in the eyes, John reminds him that they still lost the New World Order on the second attempt anyway. “Wars are won and lost. If you live to see another one, you’ve lived long enough to see where you went wrong the first time around so you don’t lose again. There’s two types of people in this world, John… And I need you to never forget this” Reggie says, punching him in the chest and directing him to remember where his heart rests.
“There are the people that don’t learn and lose the hard way, and the people that learn and never lose another war again. And right now, you’ve got a responsibility to make sure the people in that community aren’t caught in the crosshairs the way the people of the New World Order were. Which general are you going to be?” Reggie asks, watching John raise his eyes to him and answer.
“Lauren, can we please stop for a second and talk” Jack pleads, watching the girl continuously wave him off, disregarding the request. “Lauren, please. It’s not safe to be out here right now, those fuckers could be around any damn corner” Jack repeats, finally getting the woman to slow down and turn towards him, looking disheartened. “Was it what she said?” Jack asks, watching the woman’s eyes seel and her head drop.
“She’s right” Lauren admits, confusing Jack. “You believe her?” the man asks, almost not believing what he’s hearing. “Why would you believe her? She’s wrong” Jack replies, watching the woman shake her head in disagreement. “She’s right, Jack! I don’t like it, but that doesn’t change anything!” Lauren shouts, not caring about what she attracts from beyond the treeline.
“Lauren, you’ve been given a bad hand, sure… But that doesn’t have to be all you are!” Jack argues, convinced by his own belief, hoping that Lauren will be too. Suddenly, three members of the undead walk onto the overgrown road serving as a stage for Lauren to unseathe her machete and begin going to work, taking out the undead that threaten to interject themselves into their conversation.
“Jack, that’s all anyone is!” Lauren says, taking a second to decapitate another member of the undead before continuing her train of thought. “We’re all products of our past, it’s just a matter of what degree. And in my case, that’s all I’ll ever be!” Joining the fight as more of the undead spill into the street, Jack takes out a syckle and begins slicing skulls like a knife cuts into butter. “Anyone can change, it takes someone strong enough to do it” Jack argues, ripping one of the undead clean in two, separating his upper half from his lower half.
“I’m not the kind of person that just changes, Jack!” Lauren argues, completely oblivious to one of the undead closing in on her from the side. As she turns to face it, the top half of its head drops to the ground below before being joined by the rest of its body, being replaced by Jack, who holds her close and argues the opposite. “You’re the kind of person that knows who she is, you just need to accept how strong you are and allow yourself to put up a fight” Jack says, feeling the embrace become reciprocated.
“I don’t know where I went wrong” Lauren replies, admitting that after all this time, she still has yet to figure out where everything before the New World Order went so downhill. “It wasn’t you that went wrong, it’s the people that hid that same part of themselves from you. They didn’t give you the chance, and now you can’t keep kicking yourself for what they did, or in this case, didn’t do.”
Left alone in the middle of the street, surrounded by the corpses of their fallen enemies, Jack and Lauren look to each other and kiss, ending the conflict that brought them there in favor of accepting the truth. “You’re better than what you give yourself credit for, you just need to work with that” Jack says, watching Lauren nod in his arms as the sun begins to fully rise overhead.
Creeking the entire way it opens, the wine cellar door, finally uncovered from beneath the remains of the bar allows for the group to stare off into the pitch black beneath. “After you” Reggie says, looking to John, severing the darkness with a flashlight to reveal an entry mostly untouched from the horrors of the land above. Taking his first few steps into the cellar, John is flanked by his group as they finally reach the main prize, a door at the back of the room just begging to be opened.
“DO NOT OPEN. PLEASE CONSULT THE CALLIS’” a taped up paper sign from the New World Order era of the group reads, offering all the assurance the group needs for their hopeful suspicions to be brought to truth. Reaching out, John’s hand is held back by Franklin, who looks at the man and politely consults both John and Jessica for permission to open the vault.
“Yeah, I think we’re good” John assures him, having a laugh about it as the handle is finally pulled open, revealing a dry and unscathed vault filled to the top with a mountain of dynamite sticks. “Holy shit” John says, confused as to why their names were on the paper. “We didn’t know about this, why would they consult us?” John asks around, met with nothing, accepting it as just an overlooked flaw.
“Let’s get as much of this in the truck as we can. Handle it carefully, dropping it won’t do anything, but don’t let that make you any less cautious” John orders, stepping foot inside the vault and handing one stick after another to whomever can carry it.
Returning to the surface and having stored the explosives into the truck as best as they could, John calls for everyone to climb in, met with everyone other than Reggie doing so. “You coming, Reggie?” John asks, watching the man walk up to him with his hand extended. “I’ve been on my own for so long, and I think I’m better off keeping it that way” Reggie says, thanking the man for giving him the closure he wished to have when he came to find destruction. “I’m just glad to know you’re all still alive, that’s what matters” Reggie concludes, hugging John and telling him to remember what he said.
“I hope to see you again, Reggie” John states, only to be confronted with the harsh truth laid out by the man in question. “I hope not” the man responds, telling John the world is a funny place. “The longer people go without seeing each other in the world, the less recognizable they are when they’re seen again. I didn’t blow your head off this time, I can’t guarantee the same thing next time, and I certainly don’t want to see that happen. It’s better off wishing each other safe travels on our separate ways.
Not happy with the statement, John accepts Reggie’s side and hugs him again, thanking him for being a part of everyone’s life in a time where it was needed. “Thank you for being who you are, and doing what you had to do. I’ve never been more proud to call you my leader” Reggie admits, shaking John’s hand and watching the group board their vehicle, backing out of the New World Order and driving out of his life for the final time.
Returning to the home, the group are met with a heroes welcome as the dynamite stored in the bed of the truck serves as a symbol for a newfound hope in their quest. As the group reunites with each other, grateful to have made it back safely, the individuals having come from the New World Order are met with Heather and Cameron standing in the doorway, no smiles being sported.
Entering the living room, John and the group are escorted to Janice’s bedside, where they find her in dire straits, her pulse and heart rate growing weaker by the second. “Her brain is swelling. I told her an operation would be risky, and she told us to just let it be” Cameron admits, acknowledging Janice’s final wish to die at peace. Kneeling beside her and taking one of her hands as Jess takes the other, John calls the woman’s name, telling her that she’s not going to go out with a whimper.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t stop this from happening” John states, choking up as tears begin flooding down his face. Confronted with the first true death he alone caused, the man swears to make sure her death isn’t one of the many that just add to a number. “Those people in Sheol are going to know what their leaders are. We’re going to make the people that did this to you pay, I promise.”
Having enough strength to smile, Janice tells John not to worry. “I’m not leaving anyone behind. Everyone I have to see is already waiting for me” Janice says, thanking him for the efforts he’s made. “You’ll never be perfect, John. But you care… You make this world, a better place, for people to live in, despite everything around. Thank you for that” Janice says, pausing for breath with each few syllables.
Stumbling over the emotions flooding forward, the tears in John’s eyes are met with his wife wrapping her arm around him and tucking her forehead into his neck. “You’re gonna go see your son now, Janice. It’s okay to stop fighting” John says, the words breaking with his voice.
“You’ve done everything you had to do down here, it’s okay to go to him now” John says, giving Janice permission to let go and join her son in the next life. After a few seconds, Janice takes her final breath and blinks a final time before her body gives up, and her heart takes its final beat. As John and Jess feel her grip loosen, knowing she’s moved onto the next life, the sorrow becomes palpable. Holding Angela tight, Tyler looks on with determination to avenge the fallen. Franklin and Alicia embrace, Lauren and Jack do the same, and the rest of the people around hug whomever they can in hopes of better coping.
Beneath the afternoon sun, the grave buried for Janice becomes filled in with the dirt atop her blanket-wrapped body, attended by everyone paying their final respects. “John?” Tyler asks, watching the man turn to him before beginning to cry. “I’m sorry I doubted you guys” Tyler states, met with an embrace for both himself and Angela by the man as he tells them that they’re going to make things right.
“We’re gonna tell those people what they need to hear, and we’re going to make sure this kind of thing never happens again” John states, assuring the two that they’ll always be welcomed here. Retiring to the home, the group begins to get things in order for the upcoming confrontation, leaving behind Janice’s grave with a cross woven with stick and string, and a rock with magic marker written on it.
“JANICE GARNETT. 1990-2019. FOUGHT WITH HEART, DIED WITH HEART.
AVENGED WITH HEART” the stone reads, declaring the group’s intentions to be worn like their heart, a badge upon their sleeve.
Awoken by the sound of his alarm, Tyler approaches his day the way he would every other morning before the end of the world. Wrestling himself out of bed, brushing his teeth and making himself a pot of coffee, he walks onto the patio and looks down upon the community of Sheol as the clock strikes 7:00 A.M.
“Rise and Shine, Sheol. Radio Control Jackrabbit here, assuring you that your plans to hit the pool today will not be trampled on by mother nature, it is to be sunny all day today, so enjoy that Sheol sun!” the radio dj announces, prompting Tyler to lift his mug to his lips and take a seat opposite the river, enjoying the gleam of sunlight overhead.
“In other news, the community is gearing up for our monthly town hall tomorrow evening, you’re all invited to attend, as our very own Tony Archibald will be answering all of your questions and more, and if showing up in person is not your thing, we’ll have consistent coverage in full right here, on Rise and Shine, Sheol. Take care, folks!”
Just like that, the dj goes off, as does the radio once Tyler turns the dial and gets himself ready for the day. Stepping out of the east wing all dressed up, Tyler walks over to the fence of the main yard and takes a seat opposite Angela, being sure to reference the book in her hands. “That’s the one about the people getting stuck in these safes and forced to kill each other, right?” Tyler says, watching the woman laugh at his attempt.
“Close, no cigar, though. They’re in vaults and they’re forced to play troublemaker” Angela replies, watching the man shrug and smile at her, watching her move her hair over her ear and return to her book. “So, why’d you invite me out here?” Tyler asks, watching her fold the corner of her page and drop the book beside herself.
“You wanna hang?” Angela asks, noticing the surprise come over Tyler, noticing his lack of prepared response. “Why?” Tyler asks, noticing Angela’s head tilt, “I mean! I would love to, but why me?” the man reiterates, watching the woman lean forward. “I don’t meet many people from the outside, I want to know some stuff” Angela remarks, “So I figured I’d make a day out of it.”
“I- I would love to!” Tyler responds, smiling at the request and following her along to the front gates. “Any boats available? I heard it’s gonna be a good day” Angela asks one of the guards, watching him smile and remove a link of yellow chain as if it were a red velvet rope. “That it is, Ms Hargraves, enjoy it!” the guard replies, watching the two leave and walk across the road, heading for the river.
“We can just walk off whenever we please?” Tyler asks, genuinely surprised at the level of freedom. “Not everywhere” Angela replies, pointing towards the other side of the river. “There’s guard stationed over there. If we need groceries or anything else, they’ve got storefronts in these little abandoned homes. Most of the roads are off limits, pretty heavy patrol on them, but there’s not much of a reason to want to go anywhere else.”
“So what happens if you’re under attack?” Tyler asks, following Angela down a dirt path towards a small dock stocked with kayaks. “What exactly do you defend first?” Tyler continues, finally reaching the wooden barge. “We’ve never been under attack” Angela replies, nodding her head towards the end of the boat, helping Tyler lift it from a pile and place it in the water. “If we ever need help, we’ve always got some a few miles away” Angela concludes, handing Tyler a life vest and a paddle. “We’re all set.”
In the boat and rowing up stream beneath the morning sunlight, Angela and Tyler enjoy the warmth of the sun. “Y’know this is more of a lake than it is a river” Tyler says, watching Angela meet his earlier shrug with one of her own. “It’s a big puddle of water, it’s whatever we want to call it” Angela replies, rowing further towards the opposite side of the lake.
Docking their boat and placing a wooden board with the word “reserved” written in red paint, Angela and Tyler walk up a marvelous stone staircase to the top of a large hill, ducking beneath slightly overgrown bushes before finally reaching the top and seeing a populated, well-maintained community of people enjoying their day as if the world had never truly ended.
“This place truly hasn’t seen the apocalypse, has it?” Tyler asks in wonder, watching crews mowing the lawns and people walking around with cotton bags filled with whatever they can carry. “A few other communities have their luxuries, but nothing as untouched as Sheol” Angela replies, turning to look at the amazed Tyler, staring off at the sights ahead of him.
“Follow me” Angela says, slowly moving forwards as Tyler takes in the scenery, navigating through well kept main roads and newly built dirt pathways, brushing through a finely connected network, walking through the world a community untouched by the chaos muddled around it.
“I don’t understand, how is this even possible?” Tyler asks, still captured by the allure of a world only dreamed of as a concept in today’s civilization, if it can even be referred to as that. “There are guards surrounding this place all the time. No one gets in without a guard knowing about it, nothing gets in without clearance. It’s a world built to last.”
Walking past store fronts, one telephone pole in specific catches Tyler’s eye, with the small corner of a piece of paper reading “MI” in big, bold letters being stapled to the surface. Attempting to look towards Angela, who looks around for whatever she can have some fun with, Tyler catches eyes with one of the guards dressed in black, staring at him and shaking his head.
Removing his fingers from the piece of paper, the guard takes his glance away from him and returns to whatever he was looking at prior, giving Tyler the feeling of something being off. “Tyler?” Angela calls, taking the man’s attention from the guard. “Everything alright?” Angela asks, listening to Tyler explain the weird look from the guard. “What guard?” Angela asks, watching Tyler turn to find an empty space where the guard once stood.
“You okay?” Angela asks, waiting patiently as Tyler smirks and nods. “Yeah, must’ve been mistaken” Tyler replies, following Angela further into city square Sheol, but taking one final glance back at the spot the guard once was in doing so, not completely on board with writing the altercation off just yet.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
“Girl, it has been five days. I’m telling you, we’re patient… Just not recklessly patient” Eddie says, pouring water over Janice’s head, demanding she spill whatever information could keep her alive, or possibly free her if Sheol is feeling giving. “We know that you’ve got people, we want to know where they are” Louis says, standing from his seat in the corner and kneeling in front of Janice. “I don’t like seeing anyone in pain, but I can assure you, we’ll stop when there is something we can give Tony that doesn’t waste our time. I promise you, we can free you and let you live your life wherever you see fit, as long as you give us something in return.”
Staying quiet, shivering from the cold air blowing over her head and the ice cold water bottles she’s been doused with, Janice stares forward, ready to accept death if that option becomes readily available. One eye forced shut from the trauma to the back of her head, Janice is half-aware of the moment unfolding as Louis tells Eddie to leave him with her for a few minutes.
Reluctantly obliging, Eddie walks out and shuts the door behind him as Louis moves his seat next to Janice, covered in her own vomit and blood. Looking at her, either refusing to respond or just unable to, Janice stares forward and makes no attempt to change that. “We just need one thing. We can take the trial off the table, we just need you to give us one thing. I don’t want to keep doing this to you anymore than you want it to be done, just end this merry go round. Let us help you” Louis pleads, watching Janice slowly turn her head towards him, beaten and bruised.
“You can’t ask the person you falsely imprisoned to help you fight their family” Janice replies, muttering through broken teeth and swollen lips. “They don’t even know you’re here as far as you’re aware, they can’t help you” Louis argues, watching Janice do her best to smile. “They’re gonna come back, even if it’s not for me” Janice retorts, “And you may think they’re a small little wrecking crew, but they’re gonna blow this place like a firecracker while you’re all inside.”
Swallowing whatever spit builds in his mouth, Louis patiently waits for Janice to continue, watching her spit a string of blood onto the ground. “You see, I know one thing about John. He may be a little hit or miss as a leader, and he may not even be the most likeable person… But the odds are that he knows more than what you’re already aware of.”
Leaning forward, locking eyes with Louis, Janice concludes. “And if he’s gonna use that to take you down, I’m sure as shit not gonna be the one who outs him.” Looking at her, nearing tears as the woman seemingly makes peace with the truth laid out amongst her over the past five days, Louis informs her that she’ll be killed if she doesn’t give something up. Laughing, Janice tells Louis there’s nothing left for her to worry about. “Anything you’ve already done to me has been worse than death… And I’ve got no one left to live for anyway, so give me your best shot” Janice replies, disheartening the man somehow being the kindest anyone here has ever been to her.
“Eddie” Louis calls after taking a moment to regain his composure, watching the man return to the room with a damp cloth and a hammer. “Alright, back to it” Eddie says, taking Louis seat and staring down Janice, who uses her restrained hand to flip him off before he lifts the hammer into the air and brings it down onto her kneecap. Roaring out in pain, the screams echo throughout the tightly-sealed wing of the building, only overheard by people within the immediate surroundings, drowning out the torture by playing opera music and lowering the blinds of their windows.
“Down here” Angela calls, entering a narrow dirt path flooded on either side by lucious purple and pink fauna as if it were stripped out of a coloring book. “Where are we going?” Tyler says, passing by a slot on the wall housing a “Welcome” sign and nothing more. “Just enjoy the ride” Angela replies, holding some branches out of Tyler’s before reaching a massive staircase leading up a seemingly never ending hill, making the argument to be viewed as a mountain.
Looking around the surface, Tyler spots lines of cozy homes situated in their own, individual plots along neatly curated rows. “Are these... houses?” Tyler asks, awestruck at the sight of such elegance. “They used to be some lake front project of homes overlooking the water. They never opened to the public before the world shut down, and now they’re ours.”
Following Angela higher into the mountains, Tyler watches spacious walkways in front of each front step, some hosting people walking their dogs or bathing in the sunlight pointed straight at the front of their homes. “Angela” Tyler says, taking her hand and splitting his view to both her and the beauty surrounding him. “Do you realize what kind of miracle it is that this place even exists?” the man asks, baffled by the sights less than he’s baffled by Angela’s response to them. “I get that you’ve never seen the outside, but this is literally better than whatever heaven anyone that dies out there dreams of.”
Turning to face the waterfront, Angela takes in the view and tries to appreciate it like the first day she saw it, taking in the glory from what feels like the top of the world. “It is majestic, ain’t it?” Angela says, the beauty placing a smile on her face much as it had for Tyler. Standing side by side, the pair look out at the calm waters and take a moment to reflect. “It reminds me of a Bob Ross painting” Tyler says, standing by his point whilst Angela giggles. “What? I’m serious!” Tyler replies nudging his elbow into his arm. “Alright giggles, what does it remind you of?” Tyler asks, watching the woman smile, joining Tyler in the moment as opposed to rushing through to show him everything the community has to offer.
“It reminds me of those trips my step dad used to take me on” Angela replies, encouraging Tyler to look over to her. “He used to bring me to this lodge he used to have in the mountains. Spend a bunch of money on me, take me to these dinners. He’d always try to talk to me as if he wanted me to accept him as a part of my family.”
No longer facing the lake, Tyler turns completely towards Angela, looking at her, without any tears or sadness, open up like a book, without fear or worry of doing so. “I knew he wasn’t going to stick around, but I let him think otherwise. What can I say? I liked expensive things, they were pretty” the girl says, taking a seat on the staircase as Tyler follows suit.
“One day, he wanted to take me out on a ski trip with his friends, but my mother grounded me for pulling another girls hair in class, so I didn’t get to go.” For a second, the girl pauses, and Tyler takes notice, giving her the respect of waiting her to continue whilst placing his hand on her arm. “They got in an avalanche that weekend” Angela admits, “None of them lived.”
Taking her other hand and placing it atop Tyler’s, Angela stares off at the lake and admits that she wasn’t sad. “I truly never really cared about him, it was just this selfish part of me that cared more about almost dying. I told all my friends and teachers, made them feel bad about me, and then I went home and acted like nothing happened.”
Looking to Tyler, Angela smiles and admits that she later came to appreciate her step father. “Eventually, I realized many people’s biological dads didn’t even try as hard as my step dad. I realized just how grateful I should have been, so I started visiting his grave every year on father’s day and put a rose on his headstone. And now I have pictures like this to remember him by” the woman concludes, nodding to herself as Tyler smiles back. “Okay” Angela says, standing from her seat and taking Tyler’s hand, “Back to the tour.”
Cloth being ripped away from her face, Janice struggles for air whilst spitting up water, soaked from head to toe before Eddie places the cloth over her face and waterboards her again, demanding that she play by the rules. “We run this place, so if you wanna have any chance at seeing daylight again, you’re gonna cooperate, bitch!” the man screams, kicking her knee, as the shattered kneecap inside causes her to scream in pain once again, bringing her to the verge of passing out once again.
“Eddie, that’s enough” Louis says, watching him attempt to break protocol again before Louis is forced to leap from his seat and pull Eddie away, halting his efforts much to Eddie’s own hatred. “Do you want answers, Louis?” Eddie shouts, being met with Louis’ obvious agreement. “Than you need to stop babying this little bitch and get your answers!” Eddie shouts, only for Louis to brush him off again. “Fuck you, Louis!” an angered Eddie shouts, tossing the rag at the window before slamming the door shut on his way out.
After a minute spent in silence, looking at the woman with the appearance of death, Louis drops his head and shames himself for the mistreatment before her voice speaks up, forcing him to acknowledge her suffering. “You’re wasting your time on someone you’re going to get nothing in return for” Janice says, stuttering, but managing to get across her point. “We will let you out of here if you just give us something we-” Louis says, interrupting himself as Janice looks towards him, her only operable eye beginning to swell shut, and cuts and bruises lining the sides of her face.
“Putting me out there is more of a death sentence than killing me right now, Louis” Janice argues, watching the man struggle to accept the lack of a valid point against it. “Face it, I’m as good as dead to you. Might as well just finish the job.” Within moments, the door opens again, and Tony takes the place of Eddie, taking a seat opposite Janice and asking Louis to excuse himself. Trying to convince Tony momentarily to allow him to stay, Louis retires to his quarters and leaves Janice to stare down the man slowly putting her to death.
“Fuck you” Janice says, seizing up for a second as the nerves in her body, so fried beyond conventional use, send shocks throughout her body at random. Not caring to reference the miniature seizures, Tony moves on with his train of thought. “I don’t think you’ll last much longer” Tony declares, watching Janice grin the closest thing to a smile that she can afford to make. “Honestly, either you’ll give in and tell us what you want for a few final seconds of torture-less life, or your body will give out once the threshold has been crossed so far that it just gives up. Either way…” Tony says, pausing to hit Janice’s shattered kneecap with his cane before his words culminate into their conclusion, “... You’re done.”
Taking the conversation as a chance to lean back and rest against the chair, Janice tells Tony that she meant what she said when she told everyone that her group would blow this place into smithereens. “You’ve got numbers and guns, but they’ve got ways of forcing their way inside this place you wouldn’t ever think of” Janice argues, only to watch Tony humor himself, laughing at Janice’s attempt att intimidation.
“I’m sorry, the fact that you look like that and still think you seem tough is flattering, it truly is” Tony jokes, watching Janice spit blood onto his shoe in defiance. “They’re probably all dead anyway” Tony says, earning Janice’s attention back, only without the notion that she’s giving into concern. “The most likely outcome from drugging the girl and kicking them out on their asses is that they got pounced on by the coyotes out here trying to get back home. Unless they had that radio, even the it’d be a stretch.”
Refusing to lower her guard, Janice shakes her head and looks down at Tony, licking her swollen lips and spitting more blood onto the ground. “They don’t just forgive and forget. They’ll break you before you even realize you’ve started to crack. It’s just a matter of time before they gun you and everyone else here down, or worse…”
Squinting his eyes forward and noticing Janice’s nonverbal request to dig into the latter-most ‘or worse’ comment, Tony bites and asks for further specifics. “Oh, come on” Janice laughs, “I’m as good as dead already, so let’s not pretend you don’t have a nuclear missile on the grounds.”
Humored, even sporting a genuine smile, Tony sucks in a breath before attempting to stand up and leave. “You want something to use?” Janice says, keeping the authoritarian intrigued enough to return to his seat, bringing a smile over Janice. “I’ll cut you a deal, but you’ve got to be true to it” the woman continues, watching the man go over the options in his mind before finally agreeing. “I’ll give you enough to work with, but I won’t give you the answer... there’s no fun in that. Then you can dump me out onto those coyote streets and leave me for dead. Choice is yours” the woman bargains, relying on the cards to fall into her favor before getting her answer.
“If that’s what you want, then I agree” Tony says, leaning into Janice and waiting for the information she’s offering. Mocking Tony, Janice leans as close towards him as she can and whispers, the single sentence enough to bring a level of concern Tony has refused himself to have due to a lack of evidence. Now, the concept of numbers, nor guns mattering in war becomes a reality. “You’d be a fool to think you’re the only one with a bomb” Janice says, watching Tony’s eyes dart to her with distress, putting a smile on the woman’s face.
“This is your place?” Tyler asks, following Angela into a cozy little home on the mountain range with a massive, plexi-glass wall overlooking the scenes below. “Yes it is” Angela replies, walking over to a bar off to the side and pulling a bottle of aged wine out as if she was living inside of a telenovela. Joining Tyler on a couch directly in front of the window wall, Angela hands him a glass and surveys the area.
“Why do you come down to the main yard to read if you live here?” Tyler asks, watching Angela sway her head from side to side before admitting that this isn’t actually her house. “Louis, one of the guards, lives here. We’ve been close since the start of this whole thing, so he lets me stay here whenever I want to. We’re like brother and sister at this rate.”
Silent for a second as the view of a flock of birds migrating for the upcoming winter soar just below the clouds and in perfect view of the two, both with very different outlooks. “What a sight” Tyler says, surprised by laughter from Angela, who mocks the birds. “These fuckers shit all over the place, get them out of here! See you in the spring!” the woman jokes, turning to see Tyler with his arms playfully extended. “Again, you don’t get to see this kind of thing out there. Enjoy what you’ve got, ‘cause it all disappears eventually!” Tyler pleads, watching the woman nod her head in compliance, though hiding a hint of shame.
“I know Louis tells me all of these stories about the world outside being all broken and shit, but I can’t even really imagine what that would look like. The world never changed for me, I mean, I still picture New York City as this busy metropolitan, not some run down maze of splintering buildings. Don’t get me wrong, I want to appreciate this kind of thing like I’ve gone so long without it, but I just don’t know how to.”
Hearing this, Tyler looks back towards the view as Angela looks to him, asking him how he got the burns on his face. “Oh, yeah” Tyler replies, laughing to ease the pain of remembering them, “I usually just forget they’re there.” Placing the glass to his side, Tyler takes his hand and runs it over the scars, holding this sudden moment of grief as the sun begins disappearing beneath the skyline, slowly turning the sky into a beautiful pink. “It was the second day of the world, doing what the world did” Tyler says with an amusing tone. “I and a couple of other people were trying to keep the dead out of it, because it was the only place we knew was safe.”
Stopping in the middle of his explanation without warning, Angela watches Tyler’s face become overwhelmed with dread. Calling the man and breaking him from his spell, as if he had lost himself mid-explanation, Angela joins him, sitting down and placing her hand on his arm as he had done for her earlier. “I’m sorry” Tyler replies, continuing on whilst Angela assures him of everything being fine. “We got attacked by someone associated with another group, and while we were leaving the building after we gave him back, I just remember this rush of heat coming over me. The stairwell was engulfed in it, almost like it was a sauna cranked up to eleven.”
“Was it an explosion?” Angela asks, trying to alleviate the pressure of having to explain further. “Yeah. The leader of the other group shot a missile at the building. Hit right outside one of the stairway entrances, caught me right as I was almost out.”
Choking up a bit, picturing the events as they played out in his head, Tyler downs the rest of the wine in his glass before taking a eep breath and putting it behind him. “I’m sorry, it’s just not something I tend to think about very often” Tyler replies, lying through his teeth as he recalls the months of nightmares that transpired after the fact to himself. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked” Angela says, watching Tyler shake his head with a grin.
“No, it’s alright. Like you said, you don’t know the world. At least you’ll sort of know a little bit about the people if you ever have to see it” Tyler replies, silencing himself as he and Angela lock eyes with each other and begin to lose track of the moment, leaning in for a kiss before breaking it a few seconds later. Looking as if they had just done something bad, Angela backs away for a moment before going in again, this time refusing to break the embrace, allowing herself to let it play out amidst the backdrop of a ravenous pink introduction to night.
A few hours later, beneath the crisp breeze of the night sky, Tyler and Angela row their boats out in the middle of the lake, laughing to each other as they fight against the heavier, yet still weak waves trying their best to capsize them. “I don’t think the water likes us” Tyler jokes, laughing with Angela over everything, turning the night into a party reserved for just the two of them. “Thank you for making this day great’ Tyler says, earning a vocal response from Angela of “You’re welcome!”, but a fulfilled smile out of sight, hidden from Tyler but existing nonetheless.
Finally docking at the other end of the lake, Tyler and Angela walk back up to the gate of the main Sheol compound and walk towards the east wing, passing by the picnic table they met at on the way.
“Radio Control Jackrabbit here wishing you a lovely evening beneath the clear night sky. Take a look outside your windows and appreciate one of the last clear nights we’ll be having over Sheol this season before the snow comes” blares over the radio of the guard stationed at the entry lot. “Take care and I’ll wake you early birds up tomorrow morning, RC Jackrabbit signing off!” signals through before the music returns, truly making the night feel magical, separating itself from the horrors and drudge of the new modern world.
“I had a lot of fun tonight” Angela admits, playfully smiling as Tyler pokes her arm, keeping the end of the day as positive as the rest of it before the two are stopped in the middle of their walk by a sight unravelling a few yards away from them. “Get down, get down!” Tyler whispers, brushing Angela and himself behind a large oak tree near the central yard, watching a number of guards draped in black carrying something down a path beside the east wing. “What the hell are they doing?” Angela asks, following Tyler as the pair sneak closer, staying out of sight whilst maintaining the same distance.
Watching the guards reach the bottom of the hill, they chuck a body into a heavily wooded area and retire back into the east wing via a sublevel door, horrifying the pair now hidden behind one of the many Sheol signage rocks. “Come on!” Tyler calls, hurrying down the path and towards the woods, finding an absence of guards surrounding the area before he and Angela stumble upon the body, heavily beaten and left for dead.
“Who… Who-” Angela tries to ask, shaking from the terror and completely scarred as Tyler kneels beside the corpse to find it still breathing. “They’re alive! Barely, but they’re alive!” Tyler says, stopping for a moment to look at the face, beaten so badly it’s almost unrecognizable to him. “Who-” Tyler begins, mirroring Angela, but stopping mid-question as he figures out what he is looking at.
“Janice?” Tyler asks, noticing the clothing from the night she visited him in his room and her son’s arts and crafts bracelet around her wrist. “They’re evil” Janice mutters, struggling to say much before Tyler instinctively puts her arm over his neck and tells Angela to do the same. “Why?” Angela asks, still terrified, though less terrified than she is hearing Tyler’s reasoning. “We’re taking her back to my group, she needs help!” Tyler replies, only to be met with a begging “they can help her here!” from the petrified woman.
“They did this, we need to get her out of here” Tyler says, taking a hold of Angela’s hand. “Angela, I promise you, I will not let anything bad happen to you… But we need to go now!” Tyler says, watching the instincts she’s been numbed enough to avoid having slowly kick in as she does as requested, draping Janice’s arm over her shoulder and helping Tyler carry her through the woods, onto the main road and in the direction of John’s camp. Beneath the sky as it grows darker, the trio’s journey is accompanied by a pack of howling coyotes from deep within the forest beside them, aiding them on in vanishing beneath the night sky as fast as they can muster.
Laying still and full of vegetative life, the streets of the lesser-seen New York roadways remain buried beneath the growth that finds itself kicked up beneath the hurried boots of frantic survivors. “We’ve got to help her!” Salem shouts, trailing behind both John and Emilio as they rush Katie away from the compound. “There’s nothing we can do!” Emilio shouts, “Snake venom isn’t lethal alone, he must have mixed it with something!”
Grunting through exhaustion of carrying additional weight at the speed of an olympians run, John and Emilio turn down a branch covered road and fight through the fauna at the sight of a decrepit sign near its entrance. “Down here, find some place out of the way!” John orders, watching Salem and Troy rush from behind, outrunning them and looking through whatever they can see past for anything resembling a safe haven.
“There!” Salem shouts, pointing the group in the direction of an old bumper car station, decked on in beaten down, retro decor. “This place is a theme park!” Troy shouts, aiming his flashlight through the darkened, plant-covered environment as John and Emilio place Katie into one of the cars. Holding a bottle of water out towards the girl, John watches Emilio hold her hair back as she starts throwing up again, catching John’s eyes onto a curious patch on the back of her neck.
“Em!” John shouts, pointing towards the patch of red and white flakes that Emilio immediately takes major concern with. “What is it?” Salem asks, joining John in turning their focus towards a frustrated Emilio, who looks back to Katie, visibly sickened and worse for wear. “It’s anthrax. He dosed the venom with anthrax” Emilio replies, stunning both for a moment before their anger begins swelling. “That’s not totally fatal, right?” Troy asks, rejoining the group as his flashlight remains pointed outwards, scanning through the bramble.
“Not necessarily, but I’ve got no fucking clue what happens when you mix it with fuckin’ cobra venom!” Emilio replies, keeping one hand on Katie’s shoulder and the other over his eyes, keeping his view away from the sickening mixture being strewn onto the ground. “So what can we do?” John asks, looking towards Emilio battling through increasing emotions of distraught and concern. “Uh, fucking… fluids? Whatever water we’ve got or whatever we can get our hands on” Emilio replies, the dread showing up and bringing the group’s hope down, the fear of losing Katie to both the poison and the proceeding elements draining the life from the group.
“No, we’re not losing it now!” John shouts, demanding the group remain composed and optimistic. “Emilio, get the group on the talkie, tell them to bring water… lots of it” John says, looking towards Troy as Emilio begins to radio the group back home, watching the man with the flashlight become frozen in place, the light unwavering and locked forward. “Troy?” John calls out, catching the eye of the group as they notice him, unmoving and unresponsive.
“Troy?” John calls again, getting up and walking over to the man before he, himself, freezes in place, locking eyes with the light. “John?” Emilio asks, watching the man slowly turn towards the man and place his fingers to his lip, speaking slowly and calmly to the man. “Emilio, tell the group to get here as fast as they can, and tell them to bring guns” John says, worrying both Emilio and Salem, as they question what’s going on.
“John, what’s out there?” Salem asks, standing up as John waves his hand for her to stay in place, stopping her in her tracks as the three look on. “We’ve got a few friends here” John replies, turning his face back to the woods outside, where he and Troy lock eyes with a pack of coyotes leveled to the ground and frozen by the light, staring down the group as they respond with the same, standing off with each other over the grounds they both inhabit.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Walking through the front doors, taking in the chill of the air as the fall inches close enough to be right around the corner, Tyler marches through the main grounds and walks past groups of people having picnics and barbecues in what seems like a row of small gatherings. Near the end of the path, Tyler walks towards the front yards, just overlooking the main road and the river just beyond it, and notices the woman reading at the picnic table the same as she had the night he arrived at Sheol.
Stopping to admire her beauty, Tyler stands there with his hands tucked in his pockets watching her sit alone, each table surrounding hers being vacant in favor of the groupings just outside of the east wing. Taking in a breath, Tyler walks over to the table and politely asks if he could sit with her. “Not a fan of empty tables?” the woman replies, looking towards him with a curious smile. “I guess you can say that” Tyler replies, nerves showing as he momentarily struggles to meet her in conversation.
After a slight deliberation, the woman nods towards the other side of the table and watches Tyler take a seat opposite her. “Not a party guy?” the woman asks, dropping her eyes back towards her book. “I don’t really know anyone there” Tyler replies, “I don’t want to intrude.”
Chuckling, the woman looks up and tells Tyler that most of the people there didn’t know each other to begin with. “They all sort of found each other in here. One of the good things about the world ending” the woman replies, earning a smile from Tyler as she takes the conversation deeper. “I’m Angela” the woman says, holding her hand out and taking Tyler’s. “Where’d you come from, Tyler?”
“A little house a way out. My group went out there when our old camp fell” Tyler replies, catching Angela’s curiosity. “You seem confused?” Tyler asks, noticing the intrigue Angela takes in his words as a response foreign to those exposed to the world beyond. “Where did you come from?” Tyler asks, taking the confusion upon himself now. “I started here. I was visiting my dad when everything fell and I just never left” Angela replies, letting out a smile to relieve tension, only for her smile to be noticed by Tyler as having some hidden pain behind it.
“So you don’t know what it’s like out there?” Tyler asks, watching the woman become somewhat shy, looking towards the tabletop, shaking her head. “What’s it like?” Angela asks, noting that she’s only heard stories from a few people. “Well, it’s not pretty… At least not as pretty as you” Tyler replies, earning a momentary smirk from the woman, amused. “The roads are mostly grown over without people keeping up with them. Tougher terrain than usual, but it’s not the worst thing in the world.”
“What about the people?” Angela asks, “I haven’t heard too many good stories.” For a moment, Tyler thinks about the question in silence, remembering the humanity of his group and the seeming lack of it in others. “It’s a mixed bag sometimes” Tyler replies, folding his hands and leaning forward, thinking of the words as he goes along. “Sometimes you get people that want to help, and sometimes you get the ones that want to hurt. Sometimes you don’t get to notice until it’s too late.”
“Do people die a lot?” Angela asks, watching Tyler’s eyes lower as the small overlooking sadness brings a fainter tone to his reply. “Yeah” Tyler responds, “It’s pretty frequent.”
Without vocalizing it, Angela nods her head and remains mostly silent as the sound of the crackling fire and laughing children take the place of their words. “Do you-” Angela begins to say, only to be cut off as Tyler suddenly ducks a flying disk whirling towards him, crashing into the metal gate and ripping his attention from the conversation itself. “I’ll get it, you stay put” a woman orders near the main grounds to a group of children, walking over in the direction of the picnic tables.
Walking from his seat and picking up the disk, Tyler looks at it for a moment and swipes away a dirt of grass and dirt before turning around to the children. Doing so, Tyler stops in place as he looks at the woman walking up to retrieve the disk on the children’s behalf, stunned at who he finds. “Janice?” Tyler asks, genuinely as surprised as the woman, who looks towards Tyler with confusion, uttering his name in return as the children call for Janice to return.
Growling like the pack of dogs they line up like, the coyotes stare down both Troy and John, standing as their only blockade to the rest of the group. Drawing his gun, John takes aim at the animals and puts his finger to the trigger, ready to pull if necessary, following the coyotes with the barrel as Troy follows them with the light.
“You guys good back there?” John asks, the collected tone of his voice, refusing to acknowledge panic being a driving force in keeping the group focused on Katie’s illness. “She’s, uh” Emilio starts, carrying the weight of figuring out what to do with the realization that it may not matter if the wild animals decide to not waste any more time than they already have. “She’s not looking good” Emilio replies, looking into her eyes and noticing the blood-red color and lack of strength in them. “I don’t think she’s got much longer, John” Emilio says, looking around the tent at the sound of groans sounding less animal than those breathing down their necks.
Finally catching an eye on the entrance to the machine, Emilio notices a number of the undead growing within visibility, making their way for the group. “John, we’ve got another problem” Emilio says, prompting the man to turn and notice the undead growing closer. Calling Salem, John nods in her direction to allow her to slowly walk towards the undead and begin burying a blade in their heads. As the undead continue to pile up, they begin to start pushing Salem in, forcing their way through with sheer weight alone. “Salem?” the man holding a pack of coyotes at gunpoint calls out to little more than grunting.
Turning back to notice the woman become pinned to the ground by the final member of the undead crowd, John pulls his gun and draws it at the undead. From the pack, a lone coyote howls out and breaks into a sprint, leaping at the undead and tossing both itself and the corpse off Salem. Shocked at how fast everything unfolded, John switchees the aim of his gun between the coyote-undead fight and the pack behind him.
Ripping into the undead’s skull, the coyote brings it to death before staring down Salem again, watching the woman backed up against the ground slowly backing away from the thing as it sizes her up. “”Salem!” Emilio shouts, noticing the coyote readying itself to pounce, only for a gunshot to ring through the air and take the beast down, perhaps saving Salem in the process. From within one of the bumper cars, Katie drops the smoking gun and passes out whilst the pack collectively howls into the night.
“They’re gonna bring a fucking congregation of the dead here!” Troy shouts, drawing his pistol and taking aim at the pack, now marching forward as John and his group slowly retreat to keep the distance balanced. “She’s out!” Emilio shouts, checking for a pulse before picking Katie up with the help of Salem as the tires of a truck skid against the dirt just beyond the amusement park entrance. “Let’s go!” Jessica’s voice calls out from the truck, illuminating the overgrown area with the headlights.
“Run!” John orders, firing into the pack as Troy, Emilio and Salem rush away with Katie. Sending the sound of bullets whipping through the area, John takes down a few members of the pack before spotting another leaping towards him from the corner of his eye, ducking downwards to evade it at the last possible moment. Hurrying after the group, now packed into the back of the truck, John does his best to outrun the pack as the distance continues closing in.
Ripping through branches and overgrowth, John finds himself dancing with the wolves in the most near-literal sense just as one of the beasts begins catching up to him, looking to nip at his heels as he closes in on the truck. Blinded by the headlights, John just keeps running as he notices the barrel of a gun break through the middle, aimed directly at him. Without time to think, John keeps running as a bullet fires at his feet, sniping the animal in the face and saving John’s ass as he leaps into the passengers seat.
“Hold on tight!” Jess shouts, backing up the truck without hesitation and straightening out with the road, pausing for a moment as one of the few coyotes remaining leaps for the truck and slams into the door with comedic effect, before finally putting the vehicle in drive and speeding away from the newly reclaimed coyote den.
As he sits in the front seat, catching his breath and trading looks between his wife and the group, he notices Salem climb down from the roof with her rifle in hand. “Thank god for you, Salem” John remarks, gasping for air and putting a smile on the woman’s face as Emilio and Troy spike an IV for the now-unconscious woman.
“How-” Tyler begins, taking a seat opposite Janice and fighting past his urges to question the status of his reality. “How are you… here?” Tyler finally manages to push out, watching Janice look towards him and reply by noting that she could get away with asking the same question.
“I asked you first” Tyler replies, sinking into his seat and staring at the woman, making sure to maintain his sight on her in fear she’d disappear and he’d wake up from some weird dream. “Well, it’s all been a bit of a blur” Janice replies, leaning forward and looking towards the glass, pondering in her head with hopes of putting the pieces together. “After I left, I just started walking. I’d stop by a few places every now and then, but I wouldn’t stay long. Eventually, I walked into one little corner store and got my foot caught in a bear trap”
Rolling the leg of her pants up to reveal a healing tear into her flesh, Janice looks towards Tyler and watches his look of disgust, glancing at the wound finally starting to heal. “These guys came running around the corner, I don’t know what they were looking to find, but I wasn’t it” Janice continues, the leg of her pants rolling down as she sits back into his seat. “They took me here to get me patched up, and I didn’t really have some place to go back to. So I stayed.”
“That’s it? You just called this place home?” Tyler asks, curious and intrigued. “Well, unless Charlotte shows up and says she owns the place, I don’t see any reason to leave” the woman replies, the humor in her words accompanied by the slight belief that anything could be possible in the world around her.
“What about you?” the woman asks, unable to help but notice that he sits there alone. Hardly able to make much sense of the events of his capture, Tyler just tells his story as it is, leaving out the faulty prison-break attempt from John and the others. “And you just assumed it wasn’t that bad here?” Janice asks, catching Tyler by surprise, the man feeling as though her words hold more weight than what she’s letting on. “Why wouldn’t I?” Tyler asks, watching the woman smile and shrug, “no reason.”
“Hey, seriously? What are you talking about?” Tyler asks, leaning forward and looking Janice in the eye, watching her collection devolve into destain, taking annoyance to the consistent badgering of the man before her. “Have you forgotten about the whole ‘humans as currency’ thing? The fact that you’re worth the same to them as a five dollar bill was to anyone before this shit went down?”
Hard-pressed to find an adequate response, Tyler just shrugs and admits that he doesn’t know what to say. “People have their methods” the man admits, standing from his seat and walking over to the patio door to look out at the moonlight-illuminated river across the street. “But they didn’t kill me. They got nothing in return for me, and yet, they didn’t toss me away” Tyler continues, turning back towards Janice and taking a few steps in her direction, earning her attention from the corner of her eye.
“I mean, that’s gotta count for something, right?” Tyler asks, pausing for a second to wonder if he already knows the answer to his question deep down. Noticing the expression change in Tyler’s eyes, Janice places her glass down on the table and walks over to the man, telling him to look at her. “The only thing that matters is that you’re alive. You’re here, you have value to these people, and you’re alive. Anything less is fatal” Janice says, patting him on the shoulder and walking for the front door.
“What do you think of this place?” Tyler asks, prompting the woman to turn towards him, surprised and off-balanced by the question. “What part?” Janice replies, staring at Tyler as he takes in a breath and responds, “all of it.”
Walking away from the door, back to the man, Janice looks at him and takes her time responding. “The place? Beautiful. Has some weaknesses, but it’s largely good” Janice begins, tucking her hands into her pockets. “The people? Nice. Too good for the world out there, and most of them would be S.O.L if they had to confront it.”
Another moment paused, Janice looks to freeze over, appearing cold as she concludes her point. “Their little government?” Janice starts, taking her eyes from the wall behind Tyler to the man himself as she moves on. “I don’t trust them, and I’d be careful getting close to them.” Walking away and heading for the door, Tyler asks once why she believes it’s best to be careful getting too close to them. As she opens the door and walks onto the other side of it, Janice looks towards Tyler and answers one final question before wishing him good night and closing the door.
“I think there’s a lot that they don’t want most people to see. And if it needs to be kept secret, they’ll do what everyone else would… Go to whatever lengths necessary to keep it that way.”
Once closed, the hallway light from beneath the door allows Tyler to watch the outline of Janice’s feet walk away before he sinks onto the couch and looks around the room, wondering over to himself what potential truth behind Janice’s words may exist.
“Is she getting any better?” John asks, joining the group in the living room stood around Katie, spiked with whatever fluids they can get her and being monitored as best as they can. Being the closest the group has to a doctor, Cameron puts his finger to her wrist and notes a weak pulse that is at least steadier than before. “Whatever she drank may have damaged her internal organs, we just don’t know and we probably won’t until it’s too late if that is the case. So for now, we just need to make sure we’ve got an eye on her at all times.”
“Thanks, Cam” John replies, patting him on the shoulder before walking off into the home, aiming for the bedroom he shares with his wife before noticing Emilio stood at his window, looking out into the world just beyond. Walking up beside him, John joins Emilio’s watch party and silently stands beside him, finding a broken serenity in the silence.
Finally, Emilio and his folded arms break the silence with a collected tone, somewhat content and at peace upon first glance, “What next?” Rubbing his eyes before dropping his hands to his side, John keeps his eyes planted on the outside. “I don’t know” the man replies, not aware of Emilio shutting his eyes before taking a discernible breath mirroring that of exhaustion.
“I’m gonna need more than that” Emilio says, prompting John to defeatedly nod his head in reply. “I don’t have any more than that” John admits, again refusing to take his eyes away from the view as Emilio nods to himself.
Still refusing to say much more, Emilio and John return to the silence and keep watch, not breaking said silence for a few more minutes until Emilio does so once again. “That should have been me on that table, John.”
The words enough to depress him, John hangs his head in shame and replies under his breath, “But it’s not.” A brief chuckle to break the tension as the cool blue light from above illuminates them and not much else, Emilio looks to the man and tells him that this is how it is. “I keep wanting to not listen to him when he says we’ll get ourselves killed before we know where we’re going, but that’s not something I can do anymore after today.”
Finally removing his view from the window and placing it on the man, visibly distressed at having to confront his conflict, John watches and listens to the man as he airs his grievances. “We just risked our lives for someone who just showed us the door in return, got nothing out of it, forgot to even figure out where the bomb was because we were so caught up, and might have just gotten Katie killed for that big pile of bullshit. And had it not been for her, it would have been me on that bed for nothing.”
Swallowing the pride he has left, John begins to slowly accept the faults he’s made. “John… We’ve lost Shauna, we ran Reggie off, we ran Janice off, we got Tyler kidnapped, we burned a community down in the name of pointless war, and I can’t keep running like that. We’re gonna get ourselves slowly picked off, one-by-one, until we even figure out where the finish line is.”
After looking to each other for a moment, both men shake hands and embrace, with Emilio whispering to John, “I’m sorry” out of respect. Breaking the hug, Emilio pats John on the back and walks away, leaving the man to himself and look back out at the night sky.
Striking a match and lighting a cigarette up, Janice sits on the stairs outside the east wing and looks out at the glistening river and the empty main grounds. Before she can take a second drag of the smoke, Janice notices six men dressed in heavy black, three on each side of her, walking with her in their eyes. Realizing quickly that something’s off, Janice stands from her seat and takes aim at the men with a handgun, ordering them to stand down to no avail.
As the six men, without fear or concern, close in on the woman, she’s unable to fire even a single shot before she’s struck over the back of the head with a police baton and carried away, semi-conscious with her cigarette still tucked between her fingers and slowly slipping away.
Before long, things start to become visible for the woman, and the fuzzy sight of a bright light becomes enough to force her lunch out onto the floor. Helpless to do anything, she slowly realizes her wrists and her feet restrained against the heavy metal chair she sits atop. Ears ringing and everything else feeling numb and groggy, Janice comes to the understanding that she is completely alone, surrounded by no one as far as she can see and tortured by the burning light above.
As she struggles to battle the massive concussion-like symptoms, Janice tries desperately to shut her eyes and plunge herself into darkness enough to alleviate the immediate sickness. The attempt becomes futile, as she’s forced to open her eyes and do her best to defend against the individual she can audibly notice walk through the door and take a seat in front of her. As the light strikes her down again, this time a bit slower, Janice can notice a man with the name tag “Eddie” through the fuzzy picture her eyes do her no favors with.
“Wakey wakey, sunshine. You took one hell of a hit!” Eddie says, sitting back into his chair and crossing his legs, staring holes into the woman, clearly worse for wear. Awaiting a response, Eddie watches the woman empty her stomach onto the floor again, growing more aggravated by it, looking at it as if it was a sign of disrespect. “Don’t throw up again, that’s no way to treat a convoy leader” Eddie says, watching the woman stare him up and down before throwing up almost on purpose in a show of defiance.
Taking the showing as such, Eddie stands up and slaps Janice across the face, sending her hair over her eyes and knocking her for a loop once again. “You will listen to me when I tell you to do something” Eddie begins, only to be interrupted by the woman turning towards him and throwing up on his clothes, watching the vomit plop onto the ground with a wet smack. Fighting with his rage, Eddie walks out on the losing end as he draws his gun and puts it to Janice’s head, watching the woman with bags below her eyes stare at him, unmoved as Louis storms through the door and orders Eddie to lower the gun.
After a standoff with the man, Eddie does as told and returns his gun to his belt before bumping into Louis’ shoulder and walking back into the spectator area. Without words, Janice stares at Louis with gratitude before he, expression unchanged, retreats to the two-way mirror and leaves the door open.
Before long, Janice is met by another ranking member of the convoy, watching Tony himself take a seat opposite her. “You’ve made a bit of a mess here” the man mutters, looking at the woman, angered and ready to kill, and laughing to himself. “I’m sorry, miss” Tony replies, waving down the woman. “I’m just so confused as to why you’d be considered any kind of threat with that look!” he mocks, watching the woman turn away from him as he eases his amusement.
“Do you even know why you’re here?” Tony asks, watching the woman’s posture remain unmoved, taking the hint fairly quickly. “Fine, I’ll take the leisure of reading off your charges to you before the trial gets underway.”
Opening an envelope and removing a piece of paper from it, Tony is oblivious to Janice turning to look at him with a sour frown. “What are you talking about?” Janice asks, catching Tony’s eye. “The crimes you’ve been charged with committing?” Tony responds, putting a look of worry on Janice. “I haven’t committed any crimes” the woman replies, Tony returning his glance towards the list of charges.
“The poisoning of a Sheol officer and subsequent charge for his murder, treason against Sheol by the unlwaful permittance of uncleared personnel in the efforts of staging an uprising within the community, should I go on?”
Looking at the man, trying to clear the blurriness from her eyes, Janice stares with disbelief. “I didn’t do any of that!” the woman replies, fighting through the sickness to keep focused on the present. “It won’t matter when we put you on trial. Our jurors don’t exactly have a reputation for being forgiving. All we need is one person to put the blame on and you’re as relevant as a memory.”
“You’re going to frame me? Why?” the woman asks, the hurt in her voice masquerading the throw up threatening to rush up at any moment. “It’s actually quite simple, really” Tony says, leaning forward, folding his hands. “When we got a hold of you, you had no value to us. Nobody wanted you, and nobody cared. Now we need a fall guy to put a bit of shit on, and now we’ve found your worth.”
Tear running from her eye, Janice’s composure breaks, her sturdy appearance thrown by the wayside. “So you’re just gonna kill me? Throw me to the wolves for what, a few more days of your people believing their safety isn’t a sham?”
After a few seconds, Janice’s eyes widen and the realization boils over until it’s no longer containable. “You bugged Tyler’s room? You heard that I was suspicious of you so you’re trying to silence me!” Janice says, watching Tony face assure her beliefs. “You’re worried I’m gonna get the whole community to turn on you!” Janice proceeds, stopped by a singular finger raised into the air, hearing Tony correct her. “I was worried, and were going to, big difference” Tony says, watching the acceptance and denial dance a fight of fire and ice in her mind as her smile fades into a frown.
“I’m sorry, Janice. This just wasn’t your world to fight through” Tony apologizes, leaving the room and switching the light off, leaving Janice strapped to their chair and engulfed into darkness. Realizing these days as her final days, the understanding slowly looms over Janice, who cries to herself, surrounded by a pool of her own vomit, entrenched in the pitch black, waiting to meet her maker.
“Truck-01089 en route to Sheol now boarding!” one of the many guards lining Vixen County shouts into the camp, catching the attention of those it applies to and being a mere interruption to those it does not. “Are you ready?” John whispers to Emilio, watching the man walk in stride, not showing any ounce of worry or concern as he nods in his direction. “Let’s do this” Emilio replies, reaching out for the cage around the truck bed and climbing his way upwards. Standing behind his group as they all enter the vehicle, one after another, John looks back to the community of Vixen County and stares at the bar, watching the woman behind it nod in his direction as climbs up.
“Truck-01089 departing for Sheol!” the guard calls, prompting the back of the truck to lock shut and the engine to begin roaring like that of an eighteen-wheeler’s cab. Within minutes, the group begins to sway in whichever direction their gravity elects to take them before watching the community slowly fade into the distance as the group’s journey begins. Watching the sand beneath the truck kick up and dust the road behind, John can catch a slight glimpse of the truck hidden in the darkness behind nature’s blanket as the next few hours of their lives become entangled in the path towards inevitable demise or conquering accomplishment.
“What’s the plan once we’re in there?” Katie whispers, catching John’s attention away from the road as he looks over to the remaining guards, catching the sleep they didn’t want to miss the departing truck over earlier. “Figure out the layout, find out where Tyler is and get out while we can.”
“Wait, what was the truck and the bag of guns for back there?” Troy asks, watching John tilt his head towards him, raising his eyebrow as Troy nods in response. “If we need to set it off there, we try to get back to Vixen and arm ourselves before this Sheol place catches up” John responds, dangling his hand over his knee as he watches the sky overhead slowly illuminate as the new day begins.
After a few hours, the truck turns down a side road and passes by two armed guards stationed at it’s entrance. “Are we here?” Salem whispers, only to be met with a simple and straight-forward response from Emilio. “Looks like it” the man says, pointing towards a big stone plate on the front lawn with the words, “Welcome to Sheol” spray painted in bold white letters. “Let’s do this” John says, he and the group readying their weapons and keeping them inches away.
Stopping at the front gate before rolling forward a little more, the truck comes to a complete stop as the massive, prison-like fence closes behind them, and the door allowing entrance into the back of the truck drops open. First off the truck, John and his group stand behind for a moment and watch the rest of their Vixen-County counterparts all exit in a row, heading in the same direction. “Blend in” John says, leading the front of his group as they all follow the guards into the main entrance into the massive Sheol Compound, lit up with lights bright enough to leave an imprint on the sky.
On the building itself, the windows show either a warm, yellow light inside of the darkness of survivors still asleep, resembling a typical, pre-outbreak apartment building. “This place isn’t that bad” Salem whispers, only for Katie to playfully elbow her in the ribs and shake her head before the guards ahead begin walking down a sectioned-off path below the main grounds. “I don’t like where this is going” Troy says, met with the same worry by Emilio’s response of, “This never ends well in the movies.”
At the bottom of the path, a singular door amongst a massive stone wall stands locked shut with one, seemingly hand-held light growing brighter the closer it gets. Before long, John’s group hears the heavy mechanisms inside unclasp and allow the door to slowly open with the squealing of a dying pig. “Welcome, gentlemen!” Tony says, wiping away exhaustion from his eyes and placing his glasses on, not caring enough to look at the individuals before him. “We’ve got a special treat for you tonight” the man says, the sadism in his voice taking great pleasure in the comments, and a devious smile engulfing his face to the worry of John and his group, concealing their faces as naturally as they can.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Entering the underbelly of the Sheol Compound, John and his group watch the dark, juvenile space around them begin shrinking in size as they approach another door at the front of the group. “Right this way, gentlemen!” Tony exclaims, opening the door and leading the line of guards into a room lit with a fiery red light, ominously glooming over the large, chamber-like basement. As they line up behind a wall, John and his group notice six people lined up on their knees in the center of the space, a row of drains below their knees and both sides of the floor slanting towards the middle.
“Gentlemen, what you see before you are the individuals guilty of committing crimes against the greater good. You will be their judge and their jury, and I-” Tony says, pausing for a moment to retrieve his revolver, hoisting it into the air like a trophy.
“I will be their executioner!” Tony shouts, receiving a cheer from the suddenly-barberic group of Vixen County residents, cheering at the concept of blood being spilled. “The way this works is simple” Tony says, holding the gun to his side and directly in the line of sight of the prisoner closest to him, his eyes shooting open as his mouth is gagged and his hands are tied behind his back, piercing daggers at the firearm in his view. “My revolver has six chambers, but only contains five bullets. You will all determine whether the individual is worthy of life by your response. Cheer, and the man will be set free. Boo… And I will blow their heads off!” Tony shouts, the declaration one you would hear from a war general, collecting the enthusiasm of his troops.
“Decide they’re all worthy of death, and we’ll let fate decide who walks away with their lives. Sound simple enough?” Tony asks, earning a greater level of cheering from the captivated audience. “John!” Katie whispers, nudging the man and pointing in the direction of the end of the line, spotting a gagged Jake at the second-last position, awaiting his fate. “Are we ready to spill blood!” Tony chants, not even pretending to hide the injustice in this form of trial as the crowd roars once more.
“Well then, our first defendant is… Oliver” Tony says, leaning forward to read the nametag stapled to his chest. “Oliver is guilty of lying about the status of his deceased family, telling ration-handers they’re still alive as a way to earn four-times the amount of rations per capita. Is Oliver worthy of life?” Tony asks, holding the gun to Oliver’s forehead as the man pisses himself in fear, screaming through the fabric in his mouth as the snot runs down his face.
Without hesitation, the crowd boos in unison, putting a smile on Tony’s face as he pulls the trigger and lays Oliver’s brains out across the floor. Cheering at the sound of the ringing gunshot, the crowd’s enthusiasm only serves to widen the smile on Tony’s face, with the sheer lack of compassion for human life gleaming off every tooth.
“John we need to help him” Emilio whispers, only to feel his hand tapped three times by him. “There’s nothing more we can do than hoping luck will be on our side” John whispers, earning a disgusted look from Emilio as the rest of the group watches on in horror, knowing that John’s word is final.
“How about… Austin?” Tony asks, holding the gun to Austin’s head. “Austin is guilty of treason, having given confidential information to potentially-dangerous settlements outside the control of Sheol… Is Austin worthy of life?”
“NO!” the crowd cheers, putting the smile back onto Tony’s face as he looks at the gagged Austin and says “Sorry, Austin!” before spilling his brains onto the ground as well to another ovation. “I’m gonna throw up” Katie whispers, prompting Salem to rub her back and tell her to look away, trying to calm her nerves.
“Next up is… Mason!” Tony shouts, holding the gun to Mason’s gagged mouth rather than his head this time. “Mason is guilty of the same thing as Austin, treason against the united front of Sheol. Is Mason worthy of life?”
Erupting in the same exact choir of booing as they have since they’ve walked in, the crowd demands another shot before Tony’s gives them what they ask for, sending a bullet through the back of Mason’s throat and dropping him to the floor in a pool of the blood of his own and those that have been killed before him.
As the cheers halt, the hope to sooth her stomach fails and Katie sends a pile of vomit to the ground, catching the attention of the guards, the prisoners, and Tony himself. “I’m sorry!” Katie calls out, trying to fight past the reaction. “It’s not an issue, dear… It all runs down the same drains” Tony says, snapping towards one of the guards, who hands Katie two cold bottles of water. “If you need to look away, I will not take offense. The process may not be for everyone, but this is the best concept of jury duty we could come up with, so I firmly understand the reaction. Don’t worry about it” Tony says, returning to the work.
“Three down, three to go… The next one is Ryan, a little change for the treason of usual. Ryan is guilty of breaking into the medical wing and stealing penicillin, and subsequently, guilty of the murder of Lisa Elody due to the lack of available penicillin because of his actions… And in these matters, I think it goes without saying…”
Without consulting the crowd, Tony puts the gun to Ryan’s neck and pulls the trigger, sending blood running down the floor and into the drain. “... Those kind of people don’t even deserve a fair trial!” Tony shouts, earning the biggest roar from the crowd yet. “We need to do something, John! We can’t let him take that bullet!” Emilio pleas, only for John to shake his head and tell Emilio to stand down. “There’s a fifty-fifty chance, he could easily make it out alive” John replies, turning to see Emilio boiling over in anger he is helpless to do anything with.
“And it all comes back around, the next man up is Jake Costello… Guilty of the same count of treason as his prior two team members, only different as Jake was once a convoy leader, and was responsible for ordering the action to be done at all” Tony says, earning a boisterous roar of boos from the crowd. “John!” Emilio grunts, concealing his volume enough and getting the message through.
“How do we feel about, Jake?” Tony asks, earning the chorus of boos from the crowd once more as Emilio goes to move forward, only to be shoved back by John, who leans confidently against the wall and removes his hood. Gun held to Jake’s head, Tony faces away from John whilst Jake notices him within a split second. “What are you doing?” Emilio asks, watching as John lifts his head towards Jake, taking the group’s view towards the captive, who begins splitting his view between Tony and John, trying to get the man with a gun pressed to his head to look back and see John, essentially giving him away.
Without hesitation, Tony listens to the boos and refuses to acknowledge Jake, putting a bullet in his head and dropping him to the ground, immediately prompting John to tuck his hood back over his head. “Still wanna save him?” John asks to Emilio, watching the man, ready to hop the wall a second earlier for a man that just tried to give them away, acknowledging the mistake and falling back into line with John.
Once the trial had concluded, the guards follow Tony out into the main yard once again and are thanked for their service. “Enjoy your stay at Sheol!” Tony concludes, watching the crowd, including John and his survivors, clap alongside the heathens before retiring to his quarters for the time being. “Now what?” Katie asks, looking towards John with the rest of the group. “Now we find Tyler” John replies, walking off further into the main grounds as the group is quick to follow.
Sweat running down his face as he drives stakes into the ground and uproots the rundown fencing, Jack waits patiently for his replacement as Lauren walks up to him. “I thought Meghan was taking over your shift?” Lauren asks, catching Jack by surprise. “She said Jess wanted to talk to her for a bit, so I told her I’d cover until she was done” Jack replies, continuing to bury the wooden pegs into the dirt, the hammer bouncing off the wooden surface with a numbing thud.
“Mind if I sit and watch?” Lauren asks, catching Jack off guard once again. “I mean, you can if you’d like” Jack responds, the subtle joy in his voice being hidden well, but not enough to be completely unnoticed, and the existence of it putting a slight smile on Lauren’s face. Watching him rip the metal wiring out of the ground, Lauren finds enjoyment in the simple act of being around Jack, not only putting a smile on her face, but keeping it there to.
Within the next few minutes, Meghan walks through the door and calls Jack’s name. “Thanks for this, I owe you” Meghan says, holding out her fist to Jack as he swipes the dirt from his knees. “Don’t mention it, I’m just happy we’re actually getting ready to finish the fucking thing” Jack replies, recipricating the fist bump and patting Meghan on the back as he walks over to the shower canopy.
“Why are you so helpful around here?” Lauren asks, getting a smirk from Jack as he strips his shirt off and tosses it to the grass. “I mean, it’s not like I hate it or anything, I just don’t see anyone do it without asking for something in return like you do” she concludes, watching him pull the lever to release the stream of water from the gutter above. “Do you know what I used to do before everything went to shit?” Jack asks, running his hands through his hair as the water runs down his head.
“You worked for Jess, right?” Lauren asks, watching Jack nod to reply as he rubs and rinses soap from his face. “I haven’t ever really heard much about what you and Tyler did. I mean, everyone else I’ve heard enough about… But not you two” Lauren says, leaning against the house and watching Jack do his business.
“We worked the warehouse together, Reggie too. He, uh… He asked me to put in a good word for him to Jess before this all went down… Try to get himself a promotion” Jack replies, continuing to wash away the dirt as Lauren waits, anxiously listening into the man as he splits his focus between the backstory and the shower. “I always helped everyone with whatever they needed, and kept getting passed up for the job. So when Tyler asked me for the favor, I told him I’d see what I could do… But I asked about a promotion for myself instead and told him different.”
“You didn’t want to be stepped on” Lauren replies, both asking as a question and muttering it to herself as Jack looks on with a guilty frown. “I abandoned what I stood for because I was jealous… And it all turned out to be for nothing, since everything went to shit right after…” Jack continues, watching Lauren take her look towards Jack, watching as he turns off the water and looks towards the rest of the group in a moment of self-reflection.
“The one time I was purposefully selfish was the one time what I did never even mattered” Jack says, turning back to an attentive Lauren, “That’s all the reminder I need that being selfish doesn’t pay off.”
Walking over to pick up his dirt-covered shirt, Jack throws it like a quarterback into the clothing-filled kiddie-pool just off to the side and begins to walk back to the house for a change of clothes until he is stopped by a question from behind. “Wanna go out tonight?” Lauren asks, bringing Jack to a halt before he looks back to her, looking both playfully amused and genuinely happy. “Of course” Jack replies, his voice almost breaking from the surprise the question alone brought on.
“It’s a date” Lauren replies cheerfully, standing from her lean and walking around the house as Jack stands in place with a smile as the remaining water from his head begin to run the rest of the way down his face.
“Katie, you know what to do” John says, pausing for a moment and pretending to talk to Emilio as Katie walks up to one of the guards sat at a picnic table in the middle of the grounds. “Excuse me?” Katie asks, kindly and innocently as she inches closer to the man. Looking up from a book, Louis greets the girl and asks what he can help her with. “I’m sorry” Katie asks, putting on a convincing lost puppy-like guise, “I’m sent here for the jury duty-thing from Vixen County, so I don’t really know my way around and I’m looking for a few old friends I was told would be here, do you know where the living spaces are?”
“Yeah, the east wing is to the right, and the west wing is on the left. What are your friends name? I might be able to help you narrow it down?” Doing her best to look for something convenient, Katie shakes her hands as if to downplay him. “I’m not sure, we always used to call each other by our nicknames.”
“Nicknames?” Louis asks, both puzzled and humored. “You guys got nicknames?”
“Yeah, back at school. We sat at the back of the cafeteria, so we called each other “Backseat 1, Backseat 2 and such…”
Convinced, “Yeah, totally” Louis replies, fumbling over a response. “Well, there’s not that much I can really do to help, just kind of roam the floors and see if you get their names. That’s the best I can do” Louis says, “Good luck!”
“Thank you, I really appreciate it” Katie replies, pulling her hair behind her ear and returning to her group. “Got it?” John asks, feeling Katie tap his hand and push her head in the direction of the building before leading the group towards it.
“Another one?” Emilio asks, climbing the stairs with the group as John assures him that it’ll be the final flight. “What ven is Tyler’s last name anyway?” Salem asks, only for Emilio to call out “Dallmer.”
“Thanks, Em” Salem calls, only for Emilio to reply, “No… Dallmer” pointing at the nametag on the last door at the end of the hall, and walking past the rest of the group to get it. As they approach, Emilio begins lightly tapping on the door, waiting for it to open. “Not a bad setup if we’re being honest” John says aloud, only to be met with silence in response to the door being pulled open, and a bathed, clean-clothed and injury-less Tyler to open the door to immediate surprise. “Are you ready?” John asks, watching the man, awestruck at the sight, just stare at the group before him in concerned amazement.
“Where are we going?” Jack asks, following Lauren’s lead as the stroll down the road with a bag held over Lauren’s shoulder. “You can’t wait a few minutes to find out yourself?” Lauren jokes, looking back at the man as he smiles to her, giving her a sense of pride at being the reason for such a response.
Reaching a road partially hidden by an overturned semi-truck, Lauren and Jack climb atop the beaten down vehicle, lost to nature in its final state of rest, and look over at an empty parking lot to a small, out-of-the-way diner infested with the undead. “Why are we here?” Jack asks, looking t Lauren as she hands him a baseball bat whilst arming herself with one as well. “Care to bust some heads in?” Lauren asks, smiling an chaotic grin as she tosses herself to the ground below and hits a homerun with the closest corpse head.
Joining her as the undead take notice of her presence, Jack leaps to the ground and begins running towards the pile, only increasing in size as the undead from within the diner enter the frey. Swinging for the fences, Jack and Lauren beat every member of the miniature horde to either a second death or to a near-death heap of body on the ground.
Entering into the diner and stepping over shattered glass and loose sand, Lauren and Jack find a table near the back of the dining room noticeably cleaner than the rest in the hall, dusted and well-maintained as a stand out from the remaining scenery. “Come here often?” Jack asks, following the woman’s lead as the two take a seat at the table, Lauren supplying the bags of chips and tossing them blindly onto the table.
“It’s a nice little getaway” Lauren replies, smiling towards Jack as she tosses her bag towards the ground. “I can imagine, especially when the horde isn’t taking up space” Jack replies, grabbing whatever bag his hands end up hovering over. “The undead came in the last time I was in here… Figured I’d let them have it for a bit before I took it back eventually…” Lauren says, looking up to notice Jack finally prying the bag open after a small struggle. “...I didn’t realize I’d have a helping hand” Lauren concludes, watching Jack’s face subtly light up with glee a the remark, crunching down on a chip.
“I didn’t even think I’d show anyone this place at all” Lauren replies, watching as Jack asks her for the reason whilst keeping his eyes solely positioned on her. “It’s hard to trust someone enough to let them into the only place you can go to unwind. It’s hard to decide when that kind of thing is okay” Lauren says, eating whatever random crap she picked up in the heat of conversation.
“Why me?” Jack asks, watching Lauren look to the window and out at a small creek just outside flowing away. “Random luck, I suppose” Lauren replies, not noticing Jack’s head tilt as his eyes narrow. “Random luck?” Jack asks, watching Lauren turn to him, confused. “Why not random misfortune?” Jack continues, looking at Lauren lock eyes with him, reading his pupils as if they had words to tell with a slight smile in the corner of her mouth. “It’s not often you get to stumble upon one of the good guys… Even if they’ve been right under your nose the whole time” Lauren says, watching as Jack stands from his seat and walks around the booth, taking a seat next to Lauren and reciprocating the locked-on eyes she has for him before leaning in for a short kiss.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that I honestly feel the same exact way as someone else” Jack replies, watching Lauren’s smile begin to fully form as he leans in for another kiss. “Even if it may not feel important in some way, I’m honored to be the one you decided to share this place with” Jack says, embracing Lauren as the two return to their kiss, falling further into it as opposed to breaking it under the looming moonlight cascading through the blinds.
“How the hell did you even get in here?” Tyler demands, keeping his voice on the softer side with a harsh and demeaning tone. “We’re here to get you out of this place!” John replies, handing Tyler a smuggled set of black clothing as the man refuses. “Stop, you’re gonna get yourselves killed!” Tyler orders, finally taking the clothing John continues trying to force into his possession and throwing it across the room. “What is wrong with you?” Emilio asks, shoving Tyler’s shoulder as he returns the favor.
“I’m not leaving with you!” Tyler replies, catching each survivor on John’s side off guard as they stand in place in silence. “What? Why not?” Troy asks, walking up towards Tyler after picking up the clothes and staring at him, hoping he didn’t hear Tyler refuse to leave. “This place isn’t bad!” Tyler replies, prompting John to roll his eyes, perhaps the most controlled thing done from any member of the group. “Tyler, they just executed a bunch of soldiers for telling us how to get in here” Katie replies, only for Tyler to immediately shut the statement down. “Bullshit, they don’t kill anyone here, they imprison them until they’ve learned their lesson. And if they got themselves killed for telling you how to get in here, what do you think they’re gonna do to you?” Tyler asks, the second statement being uttered as he gets into John’s face.
“Tyler, I’ve served in the military. I know when someone’s being brainwashed, I can smell it all over you” John says, only to be immediately argued by Tyler. “That’s the stench of not being covered in dirt and muck, Mr. American Sniper, and how’re you going to tell me that I’m being brainwashed without thinking of how daft all of you are?”
“What the hell do you mean by that?” John asks, his voice growing in volume as Tyler answers. “Look at this place? I mean… look at it!” Tyler shouts, walking over to the balcony and holding his hands out towards the main grounds. “Some people in here have been so well protected they haven’t even stepped foot outside of those gates! And what are you doing, huh? Where are you living? A run down house no amount of maintenance is gonna fix! How the hell am I the one that’s brainwashed?”
Silent in a concoction of anger and fury boiling over, John breaths through his nostrils in a refusal to speak until Troy takes over on his behalf. “Tyler, this place is too good to be true. I mean, look outside. How the hell do you think they’ve been keeping this up?”
“They were prepared, Troy” Tyler says, standing towards Troy and turning his full attention to him. “They weren’t so starved for a dream that they sent people out to play dominoes with depot shelves, Troy… They worked for it and this is what they’ve gotten in return!” Tyler replies, waiting for Troy to respond before the wait is interrupted by John, not taking his attention towards Tyler, asking with his head still pointed at his former placement. “Is that what you think of us?” John asks, finally turning his face towards Tyler. “You think we’re no better than them?”
“It’s not that you’re not better than them, John” Tyler replies, walking over to his former leader and looking him in the eyes. “I’m just not fearing for my life every minute I breathe” he concludes, only to watch John angrily shaking his head from one side to the other. “Fear is how you survive in this world, Tyler. It keeps you on your feet, ready for whatever comes at you next” John says, only to stop himself as Tyler shakes his head in denial. “No, John. You didn’t say that at the New World Order, and you don’t get the right to say that to me now.”
“Tyler” Troy begins to plead, only to be silenced as the man holds his hand out to him. “Get yourselves out of here before it’s too late, I’m not going with you so don’t waste anymore of your time.”
Looking at Tyler, Troy’s eyes narrow at the sounds of those words and the feeling of betrayal as who he once thought to be the only person to get his past throws everything he’s known in this new world away without question. “There’s a trail out through the back, you’ll head through a small bit of woods but you’ll find yourself on the main road. Follow it north for a few miles and you’ll be back at the depot. You know where to go from there” Tyler says, causing each member of the group other than John to down their heads in disappointment.
Taking the clothing from Troy’s hands, Tyler hands them back to John, the original hands of the offer. Before even extending his arms out to take them, John looks at Tyler and gives him one final chance. “You’re not gonna walk out of here ever again if you don’t put those on” John says, watching Tyler shake his head at peace. “I’m okay with that. I won’t need to” Tyler replies, forcing John’s eyes shut as he reluctantly takes the clothes back and places them in his bag before calling for the group to move, leaving the room as the rest follow.
In the back of the line, Troy turns to look at Tyler, who confidently nods towards the man before closing the door as the final member of the family he once had disembarks for home. “Did we do the right thing?” Katie asks, showing a break in her assurement of their choice as they walk down the dirt path towards the set of trees. “We didn’t have a choice in the mat-” John begins to respond, only to come to a slow halt as he looks through the darkness at a large group of men dressed in black, camouflaged under the darkness of the night sky looking out at the group.
“What do we do?” Emilio says, attempting to arm himself with a rifle before being hit over the back with a pipe by another man dressed in black. “Ambush!” John shouts, only for himself and the remaining members behind him to suffer the same fate as Emilio, being taken to the ground in a violent fashion before being dragged along the ground with everyone else. Despite struggling to break free, John and everyone else watches the night sky overhead turn into a harshly lit ceiling whilst the dirt they are dragged over turns into concrete.
“Get off!” A voice calls out from behind the man, travelling in the same way as he is before the corridor above turns into a spacious room with bright-white lights all around. After what felt like an eternity of his clothing being torn and scraped along the ground, John and his group are dropped onto the floor just next to a kitchen table, where Tony and an unnamed armed guard sit awaiting their reaction.
“Good to see Tyler isn’t with you, though I never really expected him to be” Tony says, watching John and his group stand to their feet and clutching at their individual wounds, surrounded by the guns of angered guards in every direction. “Also nice to see the bugs in his room actually paid off” Tony continues, watching John look at him in a rage.
“Now, we have a special little trial for you to partake in if you’d please?” Tony concludes, watching the confused survivors pan around the room for some sign of direction. “What do you want from us?” John asks, watching Tony take a seat in the back of the room with one leg crossed over the other. “I want you to decide which member of this group will step up and play fate with your punishment” Tony says, watching the group nervously look around at each other.
Attempting to say something, John is cut off by the declaration of “I’ll do it” from someone behind him, turning around to see Emilio step forward and take a seat at the table. “Em, what are you-” John begins, holding his hand out to Emilio’s chest, only for the man to angrily swat it away and take the seat. Nodding to an unnamed guard, Tony watches him remove the rags to reveal two yellow-tinted drinks.
“What you see before you are two glasses, one is potable and the other will result in death. Choose amongst yourselves which glass you will drink.” Without second thought, the unnamed guard reaches for a glass and takes it into his hand, leaving Emilio only one option, which he slowly reaches out to pick up and hold to his lips. Shaking with the suspense, the unnamed guard downs his drink and slams the glass on the table, shattering it on the now-splintered wood.
“This isn’t right” Salem shouts, only to be shut down by Tony’s response of, “Neither is breaking into a compound of innocent people with the intention of killing if necessary.”
“We never said we’d kill anyone” John replies, only for his own shut down from Tony’s response of, “But you would’ve if you needed to, correct?” Without a truthful response that doesn’t give Tony leverage, John shuts up much to Tony’s amusement as the pair return to watching Emilio. “John?” Emilio asks, keeping his eyes plastered on the amused dictator in the corner. “Yeah, Em?” John replies, his voice still commanding to Emilio’s enjoyment. “Tell Bill to get on the road if I don’t make it” the man says, tapping the glass on the table and lifting it to his lips until his hand is stopped in it’s progress.
Beside him, Katie takes the glass from his hand and downs the drink herself before tossing it into Tony’s hands. “What now, asshole?” Katie asks Tony, watching him laugh in amusement of the sight. “Now that’s a chick I hope got the right drink!” Tony replies, tapping his guards on the arms and pointing in Katie’s direction like a five year old trying to get his mother’s attention.
Within moments, the guard at the table begins convulsing, stammering in his seat before spitting up blood, leaving a puddle of red running off the top of the table before dropping to the ground. “Well, luck wasn’t on his side this time, eh?” Tony asks to one of his guards, watching John approach him with his hands extended. As the guards raise their guns towards the group’s leader to keep him at bay, John looks towards Tony and asks him what his next plan is. “We’ve played your game and we won, so let us go or kill us while you’ve still got the chance” John says, watching the amusement on Tony’s face return to his natural, unphased expression.
Picking up his hand and pointing his finger towards Katie again, Tony looks at John and asks, “Are you sure about that?” Turning around, John watches Katie grow weaker and grab hold of the table before collapsing to the ground. “What was in the cups?” Troy asks, shouting at Tony as he watches on with a smile. “Good ole’ fashioned snake venom, trusted to get the job done” Tony replies, sending John over the edge as he goes to attack him, only to be forced to the ground by one of the guards, raining punches down without care before picking him up and slamming his head into the pool of blood on the table.
Standing from his seat and walking towards John, Tony leans down and gets in the man’s face, watching the blood ripping with John’s breath. “You said one was safe!” John shouts, only to watch Tony shakes his head whilst clicking his tongue. “No, I said one was ‘potable’ but… I’ll give you the credit there, even that was kind of stretching it.”
“You see, John… You left me real choice” Tony replies, taking his mouth and moving it close to his ear, whispering the rest of his statement as he freely towers over a beaten John. “You showed me that I couldn’t trust you, and now I’ve shown you… That you can’t trust me.”
Ordering his guards to get them outside, Tony disappears behind a heavy metal door and watches from inside as the group of survivors are dragged out of the compound and dumped into the woods, left for dead like a worthless sack of shit. As the armed guards rush away, leaving the group in the dirt, John and his group all tend to Katie, watching as she gasps for air whilst blood starts running from her nose.
“Let’s get her out of here!” John shouts, taking one arm and pulling it over his shoulder whilst Emilio does the same. Through the woods and aided in sight by nothing more than the moonlight, John and his group of survivors hurry away from Sheol as life inside remains operating as usual like nothing had even happened.
“How the hell could you even think about putting yourself in that kind of danger?” Jessica argues, shouting at her husband as he sits on a chest off in the corner of the house, avoiding eye contact. “I’ve already told you, Jess. I’m not asking someone to do something that I wouldn’t do” John replies, hands folded and his posture unchanged. “John, you have a family to look after. Other than Emilio and Bill, there’s no one out there with more to leave behind” Jess says, crouching to her knees and taking John’s hands into her own, pointing at the window overlooking the front yard. “Jess, I’m not planning on dying” John replies, finally turning his face towards her as she grows even further annoyed.
“No one ever plans on dying when they do, John. It just happens, and you don’t know if you’ll come back out of there alive” Jess replies, prompting John to attempt to turn his face away from her again, only for her to pull his attention right back to her, refusing to let him look away. “John, even if you want to do something yourself, there’s got to be an option that’s safer than this” Jess pleads, only to notice John’s expression remaining unchanged, indicating that he isn’t going to change his mind.
Giving up, Jess drops her head and accepts the gravity of his decision. “I’m not gonna change your mind, am I?” Jess asks, watching John shake his head from one side to the other, still as water. Shaking her head, “unbelievable” Jess replies, standing to her feet and grabbing the set of keys on the kitchen countertop before exiting the home and readying herself for the truck. “Hey, Jess? Where you going?” Franklin asks, his smile starting to fade as both he and the rest of the camp remain unanswered, and Jessica continues for the car.
Unwrapping his arms from Alicia, Franklin walks after Jess, with the rest of the camp slowly walking after them, watching Franklin take Jess by the shoulder and turn her around. “Ask John” Jess replies, unlocking the doors and hopping into the truck, driving off down the road.
“What’s Jessica doing?” Franklin asks, walking into the living room to confront John, flanked by the remainder of the camp’s survivors. “She’s going to blow off steam” John replies, going through his limited wardrobe with his mind set on finding something in particular. “What did you say?” Cameron asks, only to be shot down by John, responding that it wasn’t anything to do with what he said. “Well why is she pissed?” Lauren asks, prompting John to stop digging through his bag of clothes, his hands still buried beneath the layers. “She doesn’t want me to go back to Connecticut” John replies, continuing with his search as the group looks to each other in more confusion than before.
“What is it that you’re planning to do in Connecticut?” Bill asks, he and Emilio walking closer to the front of the group as John finally pulls a black turtleneck from the bag and lays it on the foot of the bed. “I’m going to sneak into one of Tony’s convoy camps” John replies, catching everyone off guard. “What the hell are you gonna do that for?” Cameron asks, prompting John to halt his search once more.
“We’re gonna catch a ride to Tony’s main camp. If we blend in well enough, they won’t question us” Salem replies, walking up to John with her own black clothing and tossing John a black beanie cap. “Why the hell would you try to do that? They’ll kill you if they find out you’re there!” Jack shouts, watching John turn around to face them, all seemingly more puzzled now than they were before. “Because Tony’s main camp supposedly has a bomb. We’re gonna try to talk to Tyler somehow and figure out where the bomb is. If we need to blow it, we’ll at least know the rumors aren’t just that.”
Looking around the group, now having replaced their confusion with worry, John takes a breath and readjusts his words. “The people we talked to today says that the group acts like a form of government. If they can trust you, they’ll let you live out your lives. We’ve already fallen out of their immediate good graces, so we’re looking for alternative methods of survival in case things fall out of our favor. This is the best option they had for us. Any questions?”
Looking around the room, John notices each individual looking to their respective sides without question until one hand near the front lifts up, grabbing John’s attention. “Yes?” John asks, watching the hand fall to the side of Emilio, who shrugs off Bill before looking straight towards John, not missing a beat. “Can I tag along? You might need the man power” Emilio says, much to the disbelief of Bill, who rolls his eyes and subtly throws his hands outwards, ticked off by the request, which finds itself granted by John.
Following after Emilio, Katie lifts her hand up and requests the same thing, to much the same result. “What if you get caught in there? What do you want us to do then?” Franklin asks, the question itself depressing Bill, who flares his nostrils at the possibility. “If we get caught, we’ll tell someone here. When that happens, get ready to head for the coast” John replies, watching the groups combined posture speak more confidence than before. “Everyone got it?” John asks, watching the group nod and reply with their own iterations of agreeance, putting a smile on John’s face.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Lugging a duffle bag filled to capacity with weaponry and ammunition, John leads himself, Emilio, Katie and Salem through the front door in the direction of the truck. “John!” Troy calls out, draped in all-black attire and hurrying up to the man, requesting to come along. “Are you sure?” John asks, finding an answer in Troy’s silent nod and confident grin before replying with a throw of his head towards the truck, accepting Troy’s request.
Loved ones walking towards the departing, Jessica wraps her arms around John before Amy does the same, listening intently as John assures them that he will return safe with the rest of the group. “Okay” Jess replies, breaking the embrace to watch John and the others make for the truck and begin their journey. The dirt beneath the wheels being kicked up becomes enough to continue to see the truck behind a thick baje cloud before long, and Jessica and Amy return to the inside of the home alongside the rest of the group.
“You, now” Lauren whispers, taking Jack by the arm once inside and dipping back through the front on their way outside as the group dissipates into their individual areas. Despite the majority of the group being more upbeat and hopeful than days previous, three main individuals stand out from that mold, all tending to separate issues. Heather splits from Cameron and heads for the living room before noticing Bill disappear into his room behind a closed door, and Jessica and Amy silently sneaking into a small half-bathroom near the end of the home.
Without any of the other survivors taking notice of herself or the other individuals secluding themselves, Heather begins walking over towards the half-bathroom and pokes her head over the corner to see Jessica, Amy stood atop the toilet lid beside her, reading something over the bathroom sink.
“Jess, you good?” Heather asks, caught off guard by the woman, trying her best to inconspicuously hide the reading material behind her back in surprise of Heather’s presence. “I’m fine, Heather. What’s up?” Jess asks, noticing the curiosity in everything from Heather’s expression to the way she walks, catching on to her motives. “What are you hiding?” Heather asks, watching the guilt slowly devour Jessica as she slowly pulls a pocket-sized map from her back pocket and holds it in front of her chest.
“Why did you have a pocket map, Jess?” Heather asks walking up to her and reaching for it, only to pause for a moment as Jess tugs the map closer to her chest in an effort to keep it from the eyes of the woman before her. “Jess?” Heather asks again, this time more reassuring before holding her hand out and slowly being given the folded paper reluctantly. Unravelling it, Heather gazes over the picture, looking at lines drawn in a different array of colors all pointed closer and closer to the coast. “What is all this, Jess?” Heather asks, splitting her attention between the routes and Jessica’s explanation.
“Are you…” Heather begins, only to stop as the somewhat preposterous reason increases in likelihood the further time goes by. “Are you leaving?” Heather asks, watching the woman drop her head in shame, but not in the way someone on the fence normally would. Whilst the break in eye contact may state that she’s not proud of her choice coming to light, the determined look in her eyes when she picks her head back up certainly don’t hint at her decision being swayed in an opposite direction.
“Why? Why would you and John do this to us?” Heather asks, watching Jessica remove her eyes once more, only further surprising Heather. “Are you not telling John this?” Heather asks, throwing her hands out in dismay as the return of Jessica’s eye contact provides her all the answers that she needs. “Why? Jess, tell me why you’re doing this?” Heather pleads, watching the woman strip herself of the secrecy in an attempt to be open with the only person thus far to find out the existence of her secrecy at all.
“I can’t keep sitting here and watching this, Heather” Jess replies, holding her hands out and leaning against the sink as she throws herself through her own brain in hopes of pulling out the adequate response. “John’s a great man, I will never argue that. But when people look to him for guidance, he throws any care for his own well-being down the fucking tubes. It’s why he left the military, but unlike then, the world’s gonna make the decision for him this time instead of letting him accept that himself.”
Struggling for worthy response, Heather looks to the woman, weathered by the storm of watching her husband leave every day without assurance that he’ll come back and tries to find a worthy response. “I… I see that, and I get that… But it doesn’t change what you’re doing. You’re still taking a kid away from their father” Heather argues, only to be fought, Jessica replying with sharp contrast to the passionate drive to leave from before, “A father she may never grow up to consciously remember because he got himself killed doing something stupid.”
“Jess, we look to you for just as much as we look towards him” Heather retorts, fully committing to her refusal to question the decision on behalf of the child, opting to aim for the chest instead. “That’s not true” Jess replies, “Everyone can look to either of us, but they’ll choose John over me every single time. He’s born to do this, which is what makes it so hard. I don’t know the intricacies like he does, I’m not the leader that he is, so I have no chance at battling him off this ledge he’s put himself on, and everyone knows it, even if they don’t want to say it.”
Now not only backed into a corner, but unable to create distance in the space between Jessica’s argument and her own, Heather groans as she repeats Jessica’s name, dropping her own head to the ground as she finds herself run dry on any further arguments, understanding the impossibility of removing herself from the corner. As words cease and Heather returns her view to the woman, she finds herself looking at Jess’ extended hand, waiting for the return of the map gripped tightly in Heather’s clutches, reluctant to return it to its original owner, but starved of a reason to deny Jess the property she has a right to.
“The ole’ stomping grounds” Emilio says, sliding a magazine into his rifle much to the amusement of each party in the car. “It’s good to be home!” he continues, laughing to himself as the crew around him do their own miniature celebratory call. “I wish it was on better terms, but this’ll have to do!” John says, adding more enthusiasm into his declaration than that of Emilio’s, earning another laugh from the conversation’s originator for his efforts.
With the humor dying down and the silence returning, Troy, sat in the top corner of the flatbed begins to look around at the greenery surrounding the group, with the sunlight spilling through the trees like a beacon of freedom. “Any of you guys afraid?” Troy asks, seemingly out of nowhere as the attention begins placing itself on the young man, though no words are uttered.
“I mean, we’ve all done dangerous shit before… But do any of you still get afraid of walking into this kind of thing?” Troy asks once more, watching the group’s friendly expression turn into ones of self-reflection, silent until John’s assurance shreds through like a blade through paper. “No. Not anymore” John says, catching the eyes from each member of the group, even using the rear-view mirror to assure himself of having stolen the focus back. “We’ve done far worse and lived to talk about it. This’ll be no different” John concludes, watching everyone other than Troy nod in compliance, buying into the numbing of the true dangers.
“How long until that stops happening?” Troy asks, killing the confidence in a necessary way. “I don’t mean to be the buzzkill, but what happens when we don’t live to talk about it? How do we make sense in it then?”
Before John can respond, Emilio beats him to the punch, tying the laces on his combat boots tight as he does. “We’re always gonna lose people” Emilio says, chewing on a tooth pick as the group centers focus on him, taking comfort in his composed nature. “If you wanna live in this world, you’ve gotta accept that. But you can’t be alive in this world if you’re too afraid to live” Emilio concludes, finally twisting the final lace around the other before leaning back, allowing the sunlight to rip across his face in sharp shadows and bursts.
“Water?” Jack asks, extending his arm out to hand Lauren a flask as they seat themselves atop rocks and logs respectively. “Do you wanna talk?” Jack asks, watching Lauren’s eyes drift as she returns the flask and stands from her seat. “Why do you always want to talk?” Lauren asks, rubbing her eyes and walking away. “IS there something wrong with me wanting a little more than meaningless sex?” Jack retorts, watching the woman smile as she places a machete back into her holster.
“What? Why don’t you talk to anyone here other than me? Why won’t you tell anyone anything?” Jack continues, walking towards Lauren in hopes of keeping up with her pace. “Maybe because you didn’t ask so many questions at first” Lauren responds, trying to create distance to no success. “What’s so bad with asking questions?” Jack asks, his questions resonating with a more confused tone with each one raised, finally grasping Lauren’s attention enough for her to stop in her tracks, allowing Jack to catch up to her.
“Seriously, Lauren. I don’t want to be the guy that makes things out to be more than they actually are, but it’s not just me you keep running away from” Jack pleas, gently turning her around and lifting her head with his free hand, directing her eyes towards his rather than towards the ground. “Lauren, I just want to make sure you’re okay. I can’t see how that’s a bad thing” Jack says, softening his voice as the compassion rips through in droves, bringing Lauren into a genuine comfort.
“It’s not a bad thing, it’s just not something I know how to answer” Lauren replies, watching Jack direct his attention towards her words, listening to every syllable. “The second everything went to shit, I was lost on a highway with nothing to keep me going. When I finally find people, they end up taking each other out and leaving me behind again. I don’t have much reason to believe that kind of shit wont happen again, especially since I only found you guys on accident.”
Taking in a deep breath, Jack takes Lauren by both hands, somewhat catching her off guard for a moment before she gives into the show of empathy and takes the interaction in without question. “You’ve got to remember you still survived regardless. I don’t think anyone in this group can say they’ve fought more uphill battles than you have, and you’re still here. So, sure, that shit happened. On the other hand, don’t forget that it couldn’t kill you. This world has kept failing to change that every time it’s tried, so keep making sure that stays the same. That’s your hope- your reason to keep fighting.”
After a brief second to digest, Lauren looks up at Jack with eyes lacking compliance. “It’s not worrying about fighting that’s getting me Jack” Lauren begins, only to watch Jack finish her sentence for her, his eyes shifting to understanding as he does. “It’s the fear of what comes next” Jack says with certainty, watching Lauren’s lips pucker as her way of verifying the statement.
On the verge of tears, caught off by both the acceptance of that truth and the knowledge that someone other than her actually gets it, Lauren accepts the impending embrace from Jack, letting herself go in his arms in a confused blend of bleak sorrow and hopeful affirmation.
As the night falls over the sky just beyond the border of Connecticut, the lights on John’s truck shut off along with the remainder of the car, hidden behind the bramble on the side of a dirt path barely visible from the main road. One after another, the group disembarks the vehicle and hide the bag of weaponry and ammunition in a shallow grave a few feet away before making for the main road once again.
“Just ahead?” Emilio whispers, armed with an automatic assault rifle and following John’s lead as the man at the front nods to respond as they finally approach a makeshift barrier swarmed with vans, all entering pretty quickly after arriving. “Hey you” a man calls out, catching the group’s attention as they brace for the trips final stretch.
“Still and calm, everyone” John mutters to the group, watching the guard’s every step through the eye slot of his balaclava, keeping his finger on the trigger in effort to quell any surprise moves. Finally, as the guard comes up to John, stopping meer inches away, he politely asks where his group’s van is, taking note of the fact that they arrived without their vehicle.
“We got swarmed in a horde a few miles back” John says, careful in his delivery, watching the man’s eyes narrow as the story continues. “Had to tail it out on foot” John continues, watching the guards just beyond the one ahead of him directing their attention to them, cautiously taking note of them as the man in front of him silently awaits the conclusion of his statement. “We…” John begins, pulling the bottom of his balaclava down to reveal his face, “We lost one in the wreckage. We’re a little stirred, sorry for the cold welcome. This was the closest place and we’ve never been here before” John concludes, watching the calculation on the face of the guard fade away as he introduces himself.
“Well, it’s good to see that the majority of you made it out alright. I’m Liam Park, welcome to Vixen County” the stationed guard says, holding his hand out. “It’s nice to finally meet you” John replies, running over each member of his group with their last name rather than their first.
“We’re hoping to get on the next ride to Tony’s compound out in New York if that was at all possible?” John asks, noticing the guard’s warm welcome begin to dwell the concern amongst the remaining guards behind him. “Of course! We’ve got a truck load of recruits heading out to Sheol in the morning, we’d be happy to add you on” Liam says, radioing in the request upon John’s approval.
“Again, welcome to Vixen County. We’ll have a few guards checking you for bites or scratches, and you’ll be free to do as you please after that!” Liam says, shaking John’s hand before returning to his work without any further questioning.
“That was easy” Emilio whispers over to John, both lowering their guns as the guards approach, searching them for bites before allowing them entry into the post-government styled community, with working electricity powering everything from refrigerators to neon lights. “Did we wake up in Vegas or somethin’?” Emilio asks, baffled by the amount of pre-outbreak humanity lining the town like paper dolls and little notes.
“You all look like you could use a drink” a voice calls out from beside them, capturing the attention of the group looking like they’re conjoined at the hip together. “Long night?” The lady asks, pulling five glasses from beneath the bar-like counter and filling them with frosty beer. “One the house” the woman says, twisting the cap back onto the bottle as the group takes the opportunity and have themselves a seat.
“Where you all coming from?” the woman asks, watching Salem, the first to the table reply with “Sheol.”
“Ah, ¿La mejor parada de Nueva York en su carretera a Boston para tomar una copa?” the woman replies, catching everyone other than Salem off guard, who nonchalantly returns, “Lo mejor de Nueva York es tomar una copa o dos antes de regresar a casa. Nada peor que los fanáticos de los Patriots” to the humor of the woman, nearly choking on a drink of her own.
“She speak on your behalf?” the woman asks, pointing to John in specific, having taken their spectation as a non-verbal hint. “For tonight?” John jokingly asks, turning to look at Salem, grinning at him with a level of confidence not usually suiting her, “Sure” he concludes, downing the rest of her drink before Emilio gives him a firm pat on the back. “Tal vez ella habla por el chico blanco, pero ciertamente no todos” Emilio says, caught off by John looking up to him and humorously responding, “I may not have got much of that, but I got ‘white’ and that’s what I’m focusing on the most!” with his finger in Emilio’s face.
“What about you?” the woman asks, looking at Katie, captivated by her lack of eyesight shared with the group. “One of my foster mothers spoke a bit of Bosnian. I picked up on a little bit” the girl replies, catching a surprised look from the bartender. “What’d you pick up?” the woman asks, watching the girl cradles the glass of beer in her hand. “Tal vez ella habla por el chico blanco, pero ciertamente no todos” Katie replies, catching a look of curiosity from the woman. “What’d you say?” Troy asks, watching Katie shrug her shoulders without anything further as she downs her beer.
“What’ve you got?” Katie asks, mocking Troy and calling his bluff. “kkaejin heos-soliboda deo manh-i naneun dangsin-i bang-geum beat-eo hwagsin hamnida!” Troy exclaims, watching Katie roll her eyes and nod her head, accepting defeat.
“It looks like you’re the only one without some versatility” Salem says, jokingly nudging John’s arm with her elbow. “Well I served in the military, so if I can’t speak another country’s language, at least I was there to help them when they needed it!” John says, taking Salem’s drink and downing the rest of it. “You can have this back” John then confidently remarks, returning Salem’s glass to her as the woman is helpless to do anything more than smirk at the play turning back to her.
“Military guy?” The bartender asks, watching John nod with a prideful smile on his face. From beneath the counter, the woman retrieves five golden pins and hands each out to the individual survivors. “Whatever we’ve got here is free for you all” the woman says, watching the gracious and surprised looks on everyone’s faces. “We appreciate your service” the woman says, directing her words to John before shaking his hand.
Taking whatever she can find and stuffing it into a duffle bag, Jess pays no attention to the world around her, which becomes enough to catch her off guard when Alicia, stood in the doorway beside Franklin, calls out “going somewhere?”
“Jesus fuck, ever hear of knocking?” Jess asks, returning to her current task as the pair enter the room, taking space at each side. “What are you doing, Jess?” Franklin asks, tucking his hands into his pockets as the woman ignores the question, silently shaking her head as she attempts to zip up the bag. “Stop, Jess” Alicia asks, calmly refusing to lose her composure as Jessica continues to struggle with the zipper.
“I’m not stopping, Alicia. I’m not going to sit around and listen to everyone call me a leader to make me feel some sorrt of pride while my husband goes out on suicide missions every day.”
Staring at the woman, continuing to rip at the zipper in frustration, Alicia comes over a moment of realization, lifting her eyebrow and tucking her hands into her back pockets. “You’re right, you’re not a leader” Alicia says, finding her words as the first thing to convince Jess to take a breather for a moment. “I’m not the leader that John is” Jess says, shrugging off the insult, but caring enough about it to correct it in her own line of thinking. “No, it’s not that. You’re just a bad leader” Alicia exclaims, watching the statement bring Jess back into her struggle before tacking on an additional claim for good measure. “Just like you’re a bad wife” Alicia says, gearing up her conclusion before noticing Jess’ struggle halt once more, “And a bad mother at that.”
Now with an anger-filled grin, Jess takes her hands away from the tiny metal frustration-inducer and focuses her sight on Alicia, staring at her with the confidence you wouldn’t normally see from someone in the situation. “I may not be perfect, but I’m not a bad mother. I’m not a bad wife for that matter either” Jess replies, looking back towards the bag as Franklin eyes Alicia with slight worry. “Okay, you’re not a bad mother or a bad wife… You’re just a lousy one.”
That sentence becomes enough to get Jess to boil over, taking her focus from the bag and getting in Alicia’s face, telling her to repeat herself. “What? You want to tell me breaking your promises to the people you’ve sworn to protect makes you anything less than incompetant? I said what I said, and I mean what I’m saying. You’re lousy at both, and you’re not going to intimidate me into saying otherwise.”
Without worry for any future consequences, Alicia smarkly crosses her arms and inches her own face closer to Jessica’s, backing the woman off a few inches for added measure. “I’m not Heather, Jess. I know who you are and I know what you’re really like. If you’re leaving, I’m not letting you do that without making sure you know how much of a total piece of shit you really are.”
Now dropping her arms to the side, Alicia gets closer in the face of Jessica, daring her to start something she knows Alicia will end without a second thought. “You weren’t the golden girl growing up, Jess. You didn’t have mommy’s attention, and once you grew to crave it, you weren’t going to stop” Alicia begins, prompting Franklin to call her name, warning her to settle down. “No, ‘Lin, she’s well aware of what she is, she just can’t handle people seeing her like it” Alicia says, taking notice of Jessica, now fuming at the sight. “She fell in love with John the second she met him, but she never fell in love with who he was as a person, only as a concept. The ideal husband that centered his world around her and their new family.”
Tears of anger now beginning to fall from Jessica’s eyes as her fist clench, the woman does nothing more than watch Alicia, holding herself back from burying her fist into her face, as the woman continues to go in on her. “But the second John felt his attention was needed elsewhere, it became all hell for Jess. She may think she cares about him, but deep inside her selfish heart, she only wants him to come back so she has someone that will be dedicated to her regardless.”
Attempting to walk over to the two women, Franklin is stopped immediately by Alicia raising her hand in his direction, motioning for him to stay put. “Stop, ‘Lin. She knows she’s not leaving because she’s afraid he’ll get himself killed… She’s afraid the attention she gets will die with him… Because that’s who she is at heart… Selfish and deceitful” Alicia concludes, watching Jess’ tears welling turn from anger-induced to betrayed. “It looks like I hurt the girl” Alicia mocks, getting so close to the woman’s face that their noses grow to be less than an inch apart. “Now she knows how John’s going to feel” Alicia finalizes, shoving Jessica aside with one hand before leaving the room, leaving Jess alone with nothing more than her daughter and her belongings once Franklin leaves to go after her.
Left alone to wipe away the tears in silence, Jess takes a seat beside the bag and holds Amy in her arms, staring out into the vacant living room from her own room’s view, sat in silence. Reaching for the bag, Jess easily pulls the zipper the rest of the way shut now that the frustration has dwindled, leaving nothing remaining between herself and the door.
“What the hell?” Tony whispers to himself, arriving at a large compound and noticing a number of security guards posted outside the front doors, holding a heated discussion. Thanking his driver, Tony walks over to the guards, watching the occasional helicopter flying closer to the ground than usual, but nothing too out of the ordinary begin to unfold around him.
“What seems to be the problem gentlemen?” Tony asks, seemingly putting a halt to the conversation. “Nothing to be worried about, sir” Louis replies, watching Tony glance around at each of the guards before nodding his head and pulling Louis aside. “Return to work, gentlemen. Thank you very much” Tony exclaims, walking in the opposite direction as the guards return to the inside of the building.
“Now what’s really going on, Louis?” Tony asks, watching Louis wait for the guards to complete disappear back into the base before answering. “Everyone’s going nuts about some cannibal thing on the news” Louis replies, watching Tony’s eyes drop like sandbags in surprise just before he begins to laugh. “Can- Cannibals? What cannibals?” Tony laughs, watching Louis pull out his phone and open up to the first news article at the top of his Twitter page.
“What is this?” Tony asks, his laughter turning into confusion, swiping through the page as Louis answers. “A bunch of people from wherever have been saying they’ve been encountering these weird people. Like they’re hooked on pills or something like that and don’t know where they are.”
“Okay, well where does the cannibal stuff come in?” Tony asks, eventually finding an article that singles itself out from the rest. “Apparently these things are biting people… Literally just tearing into them if nothing stops them” Louis responds, expecting to continue, only for another helicopter, this one dangerously low comes zooming overhead, ringing through Louis and Tony’s ears and sending a gust of wind at them before disappearing just over the treeline.
“This one’s from somewhere in Mount Roseda, that’s twenty minutes away” Tony says, glancing through pictures of people with deep gashes and bloody wounds from the responded bites. “It’s nothing. Photoshopped or something, it’s no big deal” Louis replies, his assurance being met with a silent challenge from Tony, who refuses to laugh any further, and instead, opts to continue scrolling through the feed, enamored by the reports. “I said it’s probably just a bunch of fakes” Louis says, watching as Tony looks up at him from the phone and sympathetically shakes his head.
“What? You think they’re real?” Louis asks, halfway sarcastic and halfway concerned. Taking his eyes away from the screen, Tony looks up at Louis with mocking eyes, flooded with certainty. “Louis, when was the last time you saw the law-abiding white fold at Mount-fuckin’-Roseda on drugs? Hell, they don’t even take most forms of aspirin without checking twice.”
Hands to his hips, Louis looks around the scenic surroundings in hopes of using it to make sense of this predicament to no avail. Remaining silent, both Louis and Tony scan the perimeter before walking over to the main doors and entering the massive, concrete building. Each step of his fancy, reflective black dress shoes clicking across the granite floor and bellowing through the immediate vicinity brings Tony closer to the front desk. “Margaret, hello. Can you call Eric and Georgio for me, please? Let them know that I’m hoping to discuss a pressing matter with them.”
“Will do sir” the lady replies, grabbing a hold of her phone as Tony and Louis climb the beautifully-crafted staircase to the second level.
Entering into his office, Tony drapes his sports jacket over the back of his chair and takes a seat, opening his laptop and pulling up his email. “What are we going to do about this problem, sir? If it even is a problem?” Louis asks, watching Tony glance up to him and slide down his reading glasses. As he opens his mouth to speak, the phone begins to ring, prompting Tony to abandon the conversation and switch his focus. “Tony Archibald on the line, Chief of Security Louis Perry is with me as well, please acknowledge yourselves and those in the room with you.”
“It’s just us, Tony” one man on the line says, somewhat tired and annoyed. “What’s all this about, T?” the other man asks, giving Tony a reason to sink into his chair and kick one foot over the other. “Gentlemen, are you aware of this, eh-” Tony begins saying, pausing for a moment to look up at and snap towards Louis. “Cannibal report” the man replies, allowing Tony to run with it.
“Yes, this cannibal report spreading around?” With a longer amount of dead air on the opposite lines than normally desired, Tony waits for a reply. “No, we’re not” one man replies, noticing the pause himself and doing what he can not to draw attention to it. “Is that true, Eric? Because it seemed like there was a long enough pause to indicate that neither of you wanted to take the first swing.”
Loudly exhaling on the other line, the second man responds in truth. “We’ve heard about it, but we’re not giving it much of a second thought.”
“You sure about that, Georgio?” Tony asks, popping up into hs chair and leaning closer to the machine. “Because of all the people I’d expect to not take this seriously, you’re the last person on my list.”
After another pause, Eric breaks the silence once more. “We’re testing our inmates” the man replies, everyone involved in the call noticing Tony’s repetition of the term ‘testing’ taking on a joking manner. “Yes, Tony. We’re testing them. It’s the best option for we’ve got, but we’re not looking any further than that.”
“Okay, and what exactly are you testing for?” Tony asks, treating each response with more and more humor the further the conversation goes along, mocking each reply with the correct amount of vigor and distrust. “Fevers, any signs of illness, anything that can be construed as as a danger of becoming whatever the hell those things on the news are.”
Looking up to Louis, Tony watches the man nod at the idea, shrugging towards Tony to indicate possible sense in the idea. “Alright, Eric. Let’s say you get someone that you think is a possible candidate for whatever the hell these things are. What are you going to do with them that you could defend if this whole thing turns out to be a hoax. What can you explain away?”
As another few moments of silence begin to ensue, Tony keeps his eyes glued on Louis, who begins to narrow his eyes and become overwhelmed by an ominous feeling, worried about what response is going to come from the other end of the line. Without much further need to wait, the air is interrupted by two words, only these two words come from Georgio, and not Eric.
Shutting his eyes and hanging his head, Louis looks down to the ground, sick and disgusted at the acknowledgement, whilst Tony stands there, patiently awaiting further detail. “Reformatory or not, they’re criminals. No one’ll care about some rich criminal getting sent to his grave” Georgio says, his statement being concluded by Eric. “At least, not if we say it’s an accident.”
Silently nodding, Tony glances over to Louis, still burying his head towards the ground before walking over to the window, and taking a glance outwards towards the river on the opposite end of the road, glowing a brilliant white from the hot sun’s reflection. “Okay, then” Tony says, earning Louis’ attention upwards, directly at him with anxious eyes. “Then it’s settled” Tony says, walking back to his seat, “Anyone deemed a danger is to be executed inconspicuously. The reason will be for attempted escape, and death will be due to the necessity to use lethal force. Are we all in agreement?”
Looking at the man with shock across his face, spreading like wildfire, Louis just stares blankly as all men on the line find agreement amongst themselves. “Alright, we’ll talk soon. Stay as distant from each other until this is all over. We want as much of a reach as we can get on these things, you hear me?” Tony asks, hanging up the call shortly thereafter.
Taking a seat and leaning forward, Tony asks for Louis’ attention. “Will you please hear me out?” Tony asks, watching Louis attempt to regain his composure, closing his mouth and silently nodding to the man before him. “I know what you just heard was harsh, but I’m sure you already understand my reason for it” Tony says, standing from his seat and sitting beside Louis, who watches his every step up to the final one. “The kind of life you saw in those videos is not the kind of life that anyone deserves to live, regardless of the crimes they’ve committed.”
“What happens when people find out?” Louis asks, watching Tony smirk and shake his head. “No one’s going to find out. These flights being grounded, the cops on every other street… This thing is real and it’s going to hurt.”
“So what happens when things go back to normal?” Louis exclaims, this time louder than before, trying to get Tony on the same brain path as him, only to find the tables reversed under Tony’s next answer, bring Louis into Tony’s own pattern of thought. “It’s not going to, Louis. If people are fighting over the smallest things now, there’s no way we allow anything to go back to the way they used to be.”
“What are you saying?” Louis asks, watching Tony pat him on the back. “When this thing hits, it’s not gonna go away. We need to be ready for that before it happens, alright?” Tony asks, watching Louis swallow the wad of spit forming in his mouth and nod in compliance, earning a pat on the cheek before Tony bobs his head in the direction of the door, allowing Louis to aim for it. “Oh, and Louis?” Tony asks, watching as Louis turns his face back towards him, hand still gripping at the door knob.
“Let’s not let any of these other guards know all of the details, okay?”
Understanding the gravity of the request being made, Louis silently nods and opens the door, closing it behind himself as Tony remains seat, staring out at the sunny sky in the New York morning. Taking in a deep breath, Tony relaxes into his seat and begins to whisper a few words to himself with a sadistic smile on his face. “Good morning, New York City.”
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
“Louis!” a man calls out, noticing Louis walking up the flight of stairs from the second floor, rushing to meet the man at the top. “What’s up, Eddie?” Louis asks, turning the corner to head for one of the inmate hallways. “You think we can talk in private?” Eddie asks, watching Louis pan his eyes around the room before directing Eddie to one of the vacant closets at the end of the hallway.
“What’s wrong?” Louis asks, already noticing the worry in Eddie’s voice. “Louis, the convicts are starting to panic about that drug addict shit on the news. They’re not co-operating with anyone, and almost no one is opening their doors” Eddie says, watching Louis lean against one of the metal shelving units in frustration. “Son of a bitch, how the hell did they find out so fast?” Louis asks, watching as Eddie hands him a cellphone with a shattered screen.
“One of our patrolmen said they found it stuffed in one of the vacant suites on the sixth floor. Seems like one of the inmates took it off one of the guards without ‘em noticing” Eddie says, watching Louis look it over for anything. “Do we know who took it, or why?” Louis asks, watching Eddie, flustered, pan around the room for any explanation other than the most obvious.
“We’ve got no idea who took it, but the only reason we’ve got is that they wanted to sell it for a price. Who they were selling it to remains unknown” Eddie says, watching Louis nod and return the phone to him. “Alright, Eddie. I want you to keep this on the down-low, okay? We’ve got too much to worry about and we are not about to let things start slipping out of control. You figure out who took this, and I’ll take care of making sure info doesn’t start spreading like a cancer, alright?”
Nodding, Eddie walks out of the storage closet as Louis stays behind, pulling out his phone to make a call. “Hey honey, how’re the kids?” Louis asks, listening to his wife as scuffling begins to break out in the middle of the hallway just outside. Opening the door just a small amount, Louis peers out to see two uniformed guards entering one of the convict’s rooms by force, trying to push the door in. Cutting his wife off as tensions begin to escalate, Louis skips straight to the point. “Listen, honey. I need you and the kids over here now, alright? There’s not much time to explain, I just need you to calmly get them here as soon as you can, okay?”
With the scuffle beginning to escalate, Louis continues to switch his focus between the phone call and the events happening just outside. “Nothing’s wrong, honey. I just need you and the kids to get here as soon as you can, alright?” Louis says, repeating to his wife that he loves her and his children before hanging up and opening the door, entering the hallway just in time to watch as four other rooms open, and convicts armed with whatever makeshift weaponry they can craft begin to flood into the hallway and overtake the guards, stripping them of their weapons and shooting both men in the head at point blank range.
Stunned at the sight, Louis hurries back into the storage closet and shuts the door behind him, listening in as room after room opens up, and each convict stationed on the floor begins to race behind each other, storming throughout the rest of the building and leaving the corpses behind to rot. Noticing his moment, Louis exits the cramped space and into the hallway, grabbing a walkie-talkie from one of the guards and hurrying down to the other end of the hallway, hiding in one of the newly-opened convict’s rooms. “Louis Perry to all forces within the Sheol building, we have an indefinite amount of convicts armed on the sixth floor of the eastern wing without supervision. They have killed two deputy officers and are to be considered armed and highly dangerous. Use lethal force if approached.”
12 hours later
“I want to thank everyone for their dedication to the job today. I know it wasn’t an easy fight, especially with concerns only growing, but you toughed it out and I want you all to know how much I appreciate what you did here today, so thank you very much” Tony says, earning a round of applause from the guards around the main hall of the compound. “I want everyone to get a good amount of rest tonight, we’ll be figuring out how to lay low for the next few days until this all blows over, am I understood?” Tony asks, earning “Yes, sir” in response from the guards, who proceed to break away from each other and return to their quarters.
“Hey, Tony?” Louis asks, waiting for Tony to walk into his direction. “Have you seen the wife and kids yet?” Louis asks, watching Tony disappointedly shake his head. “No sign of them yet, Louis. I’m sure they’re just caught up in traffic and are on their way, alright?” Nodding, Louis stands still as Tony pats him on the back and walks through a heavy-plated door off to the side, disappearing behind the pitch-black, smokey-like abyss.
Shaking it off, Louis walks out of the main building and paces around the parking lot, staring down both ends of the road without give, hoping to see his family’s blue sedan pop around the corner at any moment. “Waitin’ for someone?” a woman from off to the side asks, catching the man’s attention as he turns to face her. “Just some family” Louis replies, crossing his arms and placing his view back onto the street. “Same here” The girl says, earning the man’s attention again, this time watching as he notices her reading a book, alone on a picnic bench below the street light.
“How long you been waitin’?” Louis asks, the girl continuing to glue her eyes to the pages and answering without looking directly at him. “Fourteen hours” the girl replies, catching Louis by surprise. “So… So you were here when all the-” Louis begins to ask, cutting himself off as the girl just nods to each word. “Why haven’t you called a taxi yet?” Louis asks, watching the girl remove her eyes from the book for the first time, just peering at him over the top of the pages with a playful look.
“What?” Louis asks, walking over to her table and taking a seat in front of her. “Use your common sense, security guy… If the emergency services aren’t picking up, why would a yellow cab?”
Shaking her head sarcastically and turning the page, the girl watches out of the corner of her eye as Louis folds his hands atop the table and buries his head into them. “What are you doing?” the girl asks, earning no reply as he continues to sit there uninterrupted. After a few moments, the guy removes his head from his hands and responds, “I’m praying. You don’t interrupt someone when they’re praying.”
Returning to her book, the girl continues reading silently as Louis just waits for hope to turn the corner. “What’s your name?” Louis asks, watching as the girl takes a ribbon from the corner of her book and place it between two pages, closing it and placing it to her side. “Angela” the girl replies, standing from her seat and taking the book into her hand. “I don’t think my mother’s coming to pick me up anytime soon, I guess that’s what I get for being twenty-five with no car, huh? Any rooms I can use for tonight?” the girl asks, watching Louis nod his head and stand from his seat.
Rounding the stairs, Louis and Angela enter the sixth floor, stepping over a blood-stained carpet and entering a room at the end of the hallway. “This should be good enough for tonight” Louis says, opening the door to reveal a hotel suite-like room. “Thank you, I appreciate it” Angela says, walking inside and laying her belongings on a chair off to the side of the room. Closing the door, Louis pauses momentarily halfway before closing it the full way and walking to the opposite end of the hallway, entering a room previously taped off.
Once inside, Louis gets a massive whiff of the foul stench of decay, stammering his walk forward before he continues on, pulling free a walkie talkie from the belt of one of the deceased guards on the ground. Returning to Angela’s room, Louis knocks on the door and awaits an answer, only to be caught off guard by Angela greeting him in little more than a bath robe. “Forget something?” Angela asks, watching Louis stammer over his words.
“Just… Here…” Louis says, extending his hand out and handing Angela his walkie talkie. “It’s set to a frequency that only I can hear, so if you need anything at all, just let me know and I’ll see what I can do” Louis says, watching Angela stare at it for a moment before pressing a red button on the side. “Copy that” the girl says, her voice being projected out of the other end of the talkie on Louis’ belt, getting him to let out a small amount of laughter before she closes the door with a smile.
Alone, outside, at the same picnic table where he had first encountered Angela, Louis sits alone, glancing back and forth at both ends of the road, unwilling to accept any fact less than what he perceives to be the truth. In his hand, Louis holds a pocket knife, blade extended outwards and carving tally marks into the supports, one for each car that passes by the blank road that isn’t that of his family’s.
“Louis?” the voice over the talkie calls, prompting the man to swiftly return his blade to his pocket and reach for the device. “Angela? What’s up?” Louis asks, his attention momentarily being stripped away as the faint sounds of gunshots ring through the ground, one after another in interval-succession. Quelled by the ground below, the gunshots feel as far away as they do close, and the lack of Angela’s voice over the radio begins to worry the man.
“Louis… Somebody’s in here” Angela whispers, the sound of menacing growling being heard in the background, causing her to slow her breathing to a near silence. “I’m on my way” Louis whispers, charging back into the building with his gun drawn. On the other line, Angela turns the talkie off to keep it from making any further noise as she watches the feet of a staggered individual trail from one end of her room to the other, over and over again.
Racing up the stairwell and leaping over short gaps as some amount of a short cut, Louis finally makes it to the opposite end of the sixth story hallway, rushing downwards before his progress is brought to a complete halt, the open doorway to the room storing the deceased is now left wide open, with neither body still remaining inside. Quickly piecing everything together, Louis rushes for the end of the hallway, turning into Angela’s room, door agap to find the two bodies of the formerly deceased security guards, now up and walking once more.
Figuring it out, Louis pulls his blade and ducks one attempt from the first corpse before taking the second the distance to the opposite wall, pinning it up by the throat as it clamps its teeth down at him. Suddenly, Angela shouts in horror as the first undead, still dropped to the ground finds a way to grab onto her arm, struggling past the bedframe to get any closer than a few inches. Knowing the uncertainty of the situation, Louis uses one of his feet to push the sliding glass door open, pushing the undead onto the patio and over the edge to its brunt-force resting place below.
Hurrying around the bed, Louis grabs the second undead by the hair and begin scalping it, peeling the skin from the skull below until the corpse finally relieves its grip, allowing the body to throw itself into the door frame. “You alright?” Louis asks, taking the moment to watch Angela nod before rushing up to the corpse, now back to its feet, and burying the blade between its eyes, allowing it to drop to the floor in a heap.
Nine months later
“You sure you’re not one to come along?” Louis asks Angela, simply shaking her head and wrapping her arms around the guard. As the snow falls upon the compound in the brusk of winters fury, Louis returns the embrace on his end. “I know you’re not a kid, Angie… But I still want you to be able to fend for yourself out there” Louis says, looking at the girl staring back at him. “You just go out there and make sure I don’t have to, okay?” the girl replies, patting Louis on the head before he climbs into the van and takes a seat beside both Eddie and Tony.
“Welcome to Sheol, eh?” Eddie jokes, watching Tony wrapping gloves around his hands as Louis takes a few smacks at the metal gate between themselves and the driver to signal the drive’s beginning. “Where we headin’ out to, anyway?” Louis asks, counting bullet casings in a small felt bag. “Wherever we feel like going, boys” Tony responds proudly, holding onto one of the many protruding metal latches in the van as it struggles off a pile of snow and exits the compound’s interior.
Upon reaching their destination, Tony and his crew disembark the van and aim for a small cottage house just beside the shoreline. The following day, they approach the front gates of a barn off in the middle of a field in rural, northern New York. The following week, they approach the front gates of a community for the elerdly, tucked away in the forest just beyond a road winding more than the curves in a blanket. The following month, they close in on a small group of people in the middle of an abandoned airport hangar.
One by one, house after house is put on notice, and the people living there are welcoming to the presence of Tony and his group as long as they find themselves falling into compliance on one singular issue. Each area they encounter, and each person they meet along their travels, every single one hands over a bag of ammunition, food and other medical supplies whilst declaring one single statement. “I give my loyalty to the Convoy, and my honor lies within Sheol.”
Before long, the compound, now represented by a sign out front reading “The Compound of Sheol Welcomes You”, is filled with as much ammunition, food, medicinal supplies and other survival necessities as one can imagine. Rooms and hallways specifically dedicated to housing the supplies, all overseen by Tony and his closest of allies.
On one night, Louis and Angela find themselves buried in books in their shared room at the end of the sixth story hallway. “Do you ever wonder why we’re here?” Angela asks, snapping Louis out of his focus on the pages. “I’m sorry, what was the question?” Louis asks, chuckling with Angela. “Do you ever wonder how we got lucky enough to be here when we were? What it took to bring you and I to the same place at the same time?”
“Not as much as I appreciate it for happening” Louis says, closing his book and standing from his seat to sit beside Angela on the bed. “Why?” Louis asks, watching Angela gaze out at the cold night sky from a heated, hotel-like room with running electricity. “Look around you. Look at everything we have that so many places don’t. You haven’t mentioned coming across one place that works like Sheol. Do you ever wonder about the things that fell into place that got you here when it did?”
Thinking for a moment, Louis takes in a breath and scratches his head, comforted on the soft silk sheets in nothing more than a pair of boxers and a white t-shirt. “I don’t think it’s my story to read too far into” Louis says, earning Angela’s intrigue. “I think… I think we’re all individual stories that… That all make up the story of Sheol. And if we were meant to be a part of this story, then whatever reason it was that got us here, is one that I’d rather appreciate blindly than undeservingly pick through.”
“That’s very deep” Angela jokes, watching Louis chuckle before he gives her a peck on the head and returns to the chair. “Do you ever miss what the world used to be?” Angela asks, “Is it even still possible for you?” Stepping up to the glass patio door and breathing on it, mixing his warm breath with the cool winter air on the other side, Louis smiles and glances out at the river across the street.
“At times. Other times… I’m just glad to be where I am now…”
Returning to his seat and opening his book, Louis returns to reading as Angela stares at him for another minute, smiling as she watches him enter back into his fixation with the story where he left off before returning the her own.
Over one year after the events of the outbreak
The sun begins to shine over a brand new day in New York, welcoming in yet another run for Tony and his crew, in the van for another go of things. “Hey, hey, hey!” Eddie shouts, earning the driver’s attention by slamming his hand on the metal grates, signalling for the van to come to a slow halt. Stopping on the side of the road, the convoy watches five people walking across the parking lot and into a depot just ahead, disappearing inside its interior as the van hides itself where it can.
After nearly an hour, the survivors exit the building and load their gatherings into a vehicle, taking off down a road in the opposite direction. Tailing behind the vehicle, Tony and his convoy sneakily keep pace with the truck before it comes to a stop, and the five individuals hop out of their truck and load supplies into a rundown home just barely hidden on one side by trees, and open to the road on the other.
“What’re they doing?” Louis asks, watching from afar as the group grows larger, and the true numbers begins to show as they organize everything into different quadrants. “Let’s pull out of here. I’ll send a scouting team to keep an eye on them. Let’s get back to work” Tony says, fastening his seatbelt upon the order and dealing with the bumpy road once again.
“That was a bigger group than I’m used to seeing” Louis jokes with Tony as they both enter the Sheol compound main foyer. “That’s why I’ve got eyes on them. I’m thinking we deal with them a little bit differently than the others” Tony says, confusing Louis. “Why? What’s so special about them?” Louis asks, watching Tony halt and turn towards him with a smile. “They’re renovating a beaten down house when the dead are walking all around them. They’re not settling down, they’re figuring shit out. They’re smarter than most of the others.”
“Should we worry about them?” Louis asks, turning his rifle to his back as the strap tugs at the front of his shirt. “We shouldn’t be worried about anyone, only prepared for them” Tony replies, patting Louis on the back, watching carefully as he turns around and aims for his sixth story room. Once Louis is no longer visible upon the staircase, Tony turns to the secretary station, watching at her as she nods just once to him, earning one right back from the man as he makes for a door beside the stairway, hidden in the corner.
From his pocket, Tony pulls a key and unlocks four locks, finally allowing it to be open before entering into the dark space, taking one final glance out at the foyer before closing the heavy door, only allowing the sounds of the mechanisms shifting within each of the four locks to bellow throughout the foyer, sealing the entrance shut from within.
Silent on the ride back from the diner, John and the remainder of his group wait out the minutes that remain before they’re forced to return home empty handed. “What do we do now?” Alicia asks, waiting for a reply before she realizes that one isn’t coming. “We’ve got to think of something” Alicia says, looking around the car at the silent individuals too hurt to speak, “We can’t just go back to camp with nothing with our hands in the air.”
“What do you want us to tell them, Alicia?” John asks, dividing his attention between the road and responding to the woman behind him. “That we’e gotta spend a year taking whatever scraps we can get if we want to get Tyler back?”
“Something more hopeful than that” Alicia replies, watching as John’s aggravation begins to climb. “Hopeful? What’s fucking hopeful about this? We’ve lost one of our guys and now we’ve gotta slave to bring him back, and I’m not even sure they’ll give him back when that happens.”
Before long, Emilio turns to John with a puzzled look. “When that happens? You’re actually gonna do what they want?” Emilio asks, staring a hole into John as the driver turns to him. “We’ve got no other choice. It’s that or war” John says, watching as Emilio nearly-spazzes out in the front seat. “Choose war! Always fucking war! They took our men, let’s take him back!” Emilio shouts, looking at John, angrily staring out at the road and responding in much the same way.
“Sure, let’s get everyone else killed. Perfect fucking plan, Em” John replies, only for Emilio to cut him off, reaming him as both Alicia and Franklin sit in the back, silently watching in on the conversation. “I don’t care what your moral compass says, John. But if you even think about giving that old fuck what he wants, I’m gone.”
“You’re gone?” John somewhat mockingly replies, watching Emilio silently shake his head. “And where the fuck are you gonna go, huh?” John asks, caught off guard by the contents of Emilio’s reply. “Bill and I will set for the coast. Find a shack somewhere, settle in” Emilio replies, turning to see John staring him down as he grips to one piece of his reply. “Your both gonna leave?” John asks, resorting to silence as Emilio answers his question.
“You’ll just get up and leave us?” Franklin asks, prompting Emilio to turn his head to respond, only to cut himself off for a brief moment as he looks at Franklin, remembering their history. “We can’t just sit here and wait for something that’ll never happen” Emilio replies, softening his tone in time for John to return to the conversation.
“It’ll happen, we’ll figure something out” John replies, only for Emilio to exhaustedly ask, “What are we gonna figure out?” Looking at Emilio, John pauses before replying, fixing his mirror to keep it pointed behind them. “He keeps talking about things as currency, right?” John asks, looking at everyone as he wavers over his point. “If he keeps valuing things at higher or lesser value, we’ve just got to find something he values highly.”
“A bargaining chip?” Alicia asks, watching John look back to her and nod. “Well, what does he value highly?” Emilio asks, watching John begrudgingly shake his head. “I don’t know yet” the man replies, keeping his eyes locked onto the road as the rest of the group grows quiet. “But I’ll find out” John concludes.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Parking just outside of the home, John and his group are welcomed by the remainder of the group with joy for the few moments before they realize their presence comes without Tyler. “Where is he?” Troy asks, watching John with the rest of his group as they remove their things from the truck. “They wouldn’t let us take him back” John replies, watching as the group begins to grow concerned. “He’s fine, but they’ve still got him” John concludes, almost immediately finding himself interrupted by Jack.
“So you just walked out like that? No fight, no nothing?” the man asks, standing beside Lauren, just as annoyed as everyone. “There wasn’t anything we could do, they outnumbered us by three-dozen and had enough ammo to blow us into last year.”
“So when do we go back for him?” Cameron asks, only to be met with further silence as John and his group begin the walk back to the house with the many pounds of equipment draped over their backs. “You’re not answering me, John” Cameron shouts, walking after the group alongside the rest of the survivors. “John, tell us when we’re going back for him!” Cameron shouts, this time louder than before, prompting John to turn around and snap at him.
“I don’t know Cam. I don’t know when or how, and I certainly won’t assure you of anything until I do” John replies, turning to walk away until he is stopped once again by Jack. “Then what’s the plan?” Jack asks, watching as John stops in his tracks just at the door, “Even if it’s not the full plan, what’s the idea. We’ll figure it out together.”
As Jack says that, the group waits with vastly different expressions. Emilio and Bill both stare at John with exhaustion, questioning themselves as Alicia and Franklin look on assured, yet worried. The remainder of the group watches John turn around and face them, lifting his eyes to the crowd and planting the bag of ammunition beside him. “I don’t know what the plan is, alright? I don’t know how to approach this, and the only ideas I can come up with rely on their response entirely.”
“John, there’s got to be something that we can do” Lauren says, walking up to him and maneuvering through the crowd of people on her way, with Jack just behind her. “We’ve already lost more people than we’d like to admit, so let’s not start making that a ‘thing’.”
Upon hearing this, both Emilio and Bill bow their heads as the rest of the group watches the conversation unfold. “Whatever your plan is, John… We’ll have your back on it” Heather says from the very back, prompting the group to all nod their heads in agreement as John looks on. Before he can reply, the group watches a nearby convoy van arriving over the hill, prompting the group to draw their weapons as they slow to a halt just outside of their main gates.
Hurrying for cover beside whatever they can find, John’s group watches as four unfamiliar guards exit the vehicle, empty handed with their arms extended into the air. “We’re not here to hurt you” one of the men says, walking further out from his fellow convoymen. “We’re just here to talk to you. We understand if you don’t trust us, so we’re gonna put our weapons on the ground. Feel free to aim yours at us as much as you’d like, just don’t pull the trigger.”
Their weapons now on the ground, the four convoy members watch as the group slowly removes themselves from their hiding, every weapon they own drawn and pointed directly at their heads. “What do you want to talk about?” John asks, slowly walking to the front gate with his own pistol aimed towards them beside his hip. “I’m Jake. We’re with Tony’s convoy. We wanna talk about him, if you’ve got time.”
“Start talking” John says, lifting his gun to his midsection as the remainder of the group readies their fingers on the trigger of their weapons. “Tony’s testing you. He won’t hurt your guy” Jake says, watching as John looks at him with an angry glance. “Tony only cares about whether he can trust you or not. He doesn’t care about your stuff, he’s got all he needs” Jake says, immediately being asked why. “Tony’s not the only convoy. There’s a whole ton of others all around the east coast. If you aren’t a threat to his network, he doesn’t care what you do” Jake explains, now establishing enough comfort to lower his hands back to his hips.
“Why should I trust what you say?” John asks, refusing to pull any punches by dropping his tone, refusing to let emotion come through. “And for that matter, why would he let you come out here and tell us this?”
“He didn’t. He doesn’t follow where we take the vans. He trusts us, remember?” Jake says, walking closer to John, who ensures he watches as he lifts the gun upwards, now pointing it at Jake’s head. “And if you wanna know whether or not you can trust us, you should go to this place” Jake continues, reaching into his pocket and pausing for a moment as John extends the gun until it’s pressing against Jake’s forehead. After a few moments, Jake pulls out a piece of paper and hands it to John, who cautiously accepts it and puts it in his pocket.
“You’ll find a family there” Jake says, panning his eyes across the front yard, watching as each of the survivors remain in their same firing positions. For a moment, Jake breaks from the conversation and points out the readiness of John’s group. “You’re all still on guard. That’s good. If it ever comes down to it, you’ll actually stand a chance against Tony... At least initially.”
“Why initially?” John asks, watching Jake lean into his ear as the gun presses against his temple. Pulling away, Jake slowly backs up closer to his van as John refuses to drop his gun as much as an inch. “When you get there, just knock and shout ‘no trouble here’” Jake says, “They can be a little trigger happy, so keep your eyes glued.”
Climbing back into the van as the two guards slowly pick up their weapons and return them to their holsters, Jake and the remainder of his convoy drive off in the direction of the depot, disappearing down the road and out of sight as John and the rest of his group watch on before heading back inside.
Arriving at the entrance to the driveway of a small little yellow home just off the coast, a truck carrying John, Jessica, Katie, Cameron and Heather parks on the sidewalk just outside of the main yard. Emerging from the vehicle, John begins walking towards a lonely member of the undead and brandishes his hatchet. As he inches closer, he lifts the weapon into the air just as the undead drops to the ground, with the back of his head exploding as blood splatters everywhere, prompting John and his group to take cover.
“Whoever you are, no trouble here!” John shouts, watching as another member of the undead walks alone closer towards him. “What do you want?” a child’s voice calls out from inside, just before another silent shot brings the second undead to the ground, splattering more blood upon the pavement. “We were told you could help us understand something” Jess shouts, “We mean you no harm. We just want to talk to you!”
Without further response, the group waits for anything further before the door to the house is slowly pulled open, prompting the group to slowly stand from their cover. “What is it you’re trying to understand?” a woman asks, with a man and a little girl to her left and her right respectively.
“What made him not trust you?” the woman asks, handing John and the rest of his group a cup of tea. “We didn’t believe he had good intentions. We weren’t willing to look less capable than we are” John replies, watching as the woman shakes her head. “No one’s intentions are good. The difference is how humane and inhumane they are” the woman replies, watching as John argues her point. “All we’re looking to do is get our friend back, there’s nothing bad about that” John replies, immediately cut off by the woman sitting back in her chair with a smile. “At the expense of someone else’s safety? I wouldn’t say there’s much good in that.”
Accepting defeat in this instance, John quietly ducks his head. “Look, I’m not going to tell you that Tony taking your friend was a humane thing… But I certainly will tell you to try and work with him. Nothing but bad comes from arguing against him” the woman says.
“Because of the convoy” Jess says, cut off again by the woman, replying “Because of the fallout.”
“In life, there are people that are able to convince someone of anything. There’s a certain charm to them. A moxey if you will” the woman says, the survivors in front of her now leaning in. “If they convince enough people to believe what they’re saying, they hold all of the power over them. So when that person starts commanding an army capable of anything, he becomes the only source of balance. And when that balance is picked out of the air…” the woman says, allowing John to finish for her.
“Balance goes out the window.” Lifting her cup to her mouth, the woman concludes her point. “Waco would’ve been a whole lot worse if Koresh wasn’t there to tell them to stay strong or some other bullshit like that.”
“So what do you suggest that we do?” Jess asks, “It’s not exactly like we’re in his good graces right now.” Looking to her husband, the woman nods in his direction. “Mary doesn’t want to admit it, but at this rate… The convoy is the only real sort of government” her husband says. “A fight against them would be more than just a fight. It would be more like a revolution.”
“So going to battle with them is going to war” Jess asks, watching the husband look at her with disappointment-tinted eyes. “We’ve got nothing to challenge them with. We can barely even feed ourselves” Katie says, only to be cut off by the husband’s eyes glancing down with a noticeable breath being taken. “There is… One thing…” the husband says, earning everyone’s attention as his wife sinks her head down.
“What’s that?” John asks, watching as the husband begins to allow himself to inform them of one thing, though very nervous and worried about it. Standing from his seat, John walks over to the husband and tells him to look at him. “What is it, Henry?” John asks calmly, easing the husband down from the anxiety climb. “They have a bomb” Henry says, bringing the group into a stunned silence.
“A bomb?” John asks once more in need to clarify. “Yeah, a bomb” Henry says, assuring the group. “It’s a rumor, but the convoy doesn’t seem to care about shooting it down. They want everyone they can get to know about it, but they’re smart enough not to say it if they didn’t have one.”
“What kind of bomb are we talking about?” Heather asks, only to be met with one answer she’s on the fence about receiving. “Nuclear” Henry says, forcing the group to delve further into silence. “It’s not a massive bomb. From what the rumors say, it’ll be enough to cover one-tenth of a mile.”
Stepping back into his seat, John keeps his head pointed at the ground. “Everything else will be the fallout, but the radiation being carried by the wind will be worse than the actual explosion” Henry says, his conversation being interrupted by his daughter running into the room with a wand in her hand. “What’s up, Tulia-bug?” Henry asks, walking out of the room with his daughter and out of sight of the group.
“He’s serious?” John asks, looking over to Mary, who responds by silently nodding. “We can’t detonate that thing, regardless of how weak it is” Cameron says, “What choice do we have?” Jess replies.
“Jess, we blow that thing up, the damage stretches about a mile long and the radiation is carried all the way up to Massachusetts. We’ll get thousands of people sick” Cameron argues. “Then tell us what other choice we have?” Jess asks, watching as Cameron shakes his head, frustrated, responding, “I- I don’t know.”
“You both have a point” John says, interrupting the debate. “There’s no chance we take on an army without something up our sleeve, but we can’t risk getting anyone else still actually alive sick and killed. We’re at a crossroads”
“We don’t know if the rumors are actually true, though. I mean, it could all just be a bunch of talk” Katie says, only to find Mary squeezing into the conversation once more. “There is one way to find out for yourselves” the woman says, bringing everyone’s focus back to her. “The convoy may be well equipped with whatever you can find, but if there’s one thing they’re bad at, it’s keeping records.”
“What do you mean?” Heather asks, “We got really attached to keeping records on the computer of phones… A bunch of stuff we don’t have. People just didn’t want to go back to paper when things started, so they just didn’t keep records. Since there are so many convoys out there, they felt it would be too convoluted.”
“Are you suggesting we sneak into the convoy?” John asks, watching the woman place her cup down and lean forward. “If you dress in whatever black clothes you have, and you can find another convoy post somewhere else. All you’ve gotta do is tell them you’re looking to get back to Tony’s post and you’ll be on the first van there.”
Climbing out of the grass and scrambling around, Jack and Lauren toss each other their respective articles of clothing in between sections of playful banter. “Y’know, if we’re gonna keep doing this.. We might need to find a better place than right next to the house” Jack says, earning a chuckle from Lauren. “What’s the matter?” Jack asks, tossing her one of her shoes. “Nothing” the woman replies, putting on one sock.
“Do you not agree?” Jack asks, watching as the woman takes a seat in the grass and pauses for a moment. “Why do you think this’ll keep happening?” the woman asks, watching Jack begin leaning against a tree. “Because we’ve both got needs, and we both get those needs done with each other” Jack replies, grasping at straws in hopes of eventually stumbling across the right answer. “Needs? Is that what we’re calling it?” Lauren jokes, putting on her other sock.
“What would you call it?” Jack asks, putting on his shirt. “I’d call it my girlfriend-murdering girlfriend got killed in the middle of a war against my own friends that I pushed her into and I need a way to stop thinking about that… Sound good?” Lauren replies, standing from her place in the grass and walking back to the house as Jack watches her walk away, smirking to himself as he continues putting his clothes back on.
“I want to believe that we’re not heading down a dangerous path here, Em… But we’ve got to look at the facts. We’ve got guys getting snatched in the middle of the day. We’re not safe here!” Bill says, pacing around his bedroom as Emilio stares out at the road with a gun in his hand, ready to fire if necessary. “Bill, we’re not safe anywhere if that’s gonna keep being the case” Emilio replies, refusing to give into Bill’s worry. “Bill, do you remember what was happening when everything was first starting to go to shit?” Emilio asks, listening as his husband responds, “You were running for governor.”
“More importantly, I was the hot head and you were the logical, ‘let’s look on the bright side’ husband that kept me intact” Emilio says, pausing for a moment and turning around to face Bill, who stares straight at him. “What happened to that?” Emilio concludes, watching Bill’s face grow from one of attentiveness to one of mockingly humored.
“We also lost the bright side to look at if you can’t remember” Bill replies, taking a seat beside Emilio. “How can I forget? My husband and I getting split up in the first few days and our paradise going up in flames” Emilio jokingly replies. “Em, we’re not safe here. And it’s only a matter of time before someone throws something out so ridiculous that it gets us all killed” Bill says, watching as Emilio begins staring down the barrel before taking a shot, firing a round through the trees and burying a bullet into the body of a deer, which scampers off as Emilio prepares to walk after it.
“Em, we need to talk about this with the worst scenario in mind” Bill says, not caring enough to watch his voice as Emilio disappear through the door just before Salem walks up to it. “Talk about what?” Salem asks, watching Bill’s expression turn into one of subtle paranoia. “Nothing” Bill replies, walking for the door and reaching out to close it, only for Salem to step into its path, bringing it to a halt with her boot. “You guys have been acting really distant the past few days and I don’t like it” Salem says, “What’s going on?”
“Personal issues” Bill says, watching Salem move her foot before closing the door on her, leaving her to look around before walking off.
Stored away in a cramped room with little more than a bed and a light, Tyler sits alone, staring at a blank wall with a drawing of a fire taped to it. After a few moments, the silence becomes interrupted by the sound of a heavy piece of metal opening up just as footsteps begin to inch closer to his room. Without moving, Tyler sits, patiently waiting until the locking mechanism sounds twice, allowing for Tony to freely push the door open and enter the room.
“Sorry if it’s not as spacious as some of our other rooms are, it’s a little difficult to find efficient housing with as many people as we have coming in” Tony says, adjusting his collar and taking a seat on a metal folding chair opposite Tyler. “I hope today’s meeting with your friends wasn’t too hard on you” the man continues, retrieving from his pocket two mini bottles of vodka, handing one to Tyler.
“What are you going to do with me?” Tyler asks, his voice being muffled under his subdued tone, having been pushed to the limit earlier. “Well I guess that’s going to be up to you” Tony responds, lifting one leg over the other and resting his back against the chair, not caring much for the lack of give in it. “Your friends may not want to play by the rules, at least not yet, but that doesn’t mean you have to be held responsible for their choices.”
“They’re my friends” Tyler replies, his facial wounds patched up by the doctors inside the convoy. “And you picked good ones” Tony replies, “You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve taken someone as leverage and seen their so-called ‘friends’ up and disappear.”
“I guess the world’s got a funny way of looking bleak, huh?” Tyler responds, watching Tony grin from ear to ear. “Exactly” the man says, taking a short sip from the plastic bottle. “You know, Tyler… I noticed something about you today that I think separates your from those people we saw at the table. Do you know what that is?”
Looking around the room, Tyler responds in a sarcastic manner. “That I’m not as claustrophobic?” he says, getting a rise out of Tony. “That, and the fact that you’re easier to trust” Tony replies, watching as Tyler looks at him with intrigue written on his face like a teacher’s agenda in the corner of a chalkboard. “How do you figure that?” Tyler asks, accepting Tony’s challenge to play ball.
“You didn’t try to attack… or undermine… what most people would consider my weakness. My one need in this world” Tony responds, only to be humored when Tyler responds, “I didn’t have much of a choice.”
“Of course you did” Tony says, “You just didn’t try.”
“Then humor me, Tony… How would I have been able to try when I’m locked away in this little broom closet of yours?” Tyler asks, watching Tony’s grin spread from ear to ear. “Because you were never locked in” Tony replies, watching Tyler’s intense grin wipe away before turning for the door, and retrieving his keys from his pockets. Watching him walk over to the door, Tyler looks at the keys, turning to every possible direction in the lock, only for none of them to actually lock the door.
“You could have jumped me by surprise and beat me within inches of death, but you didn’t even try. You’re not blood-hungry, and you’re smart enough to know that such an attempt would be feeble.”
Tony walks back to Tyler, standing over him before holding his hand out to him. “Let me show you something” Tony says, watching as Tyler accepts his hand and follows him into the main courtyard.
“It’s not much for scenery, what with all the trees everywhere the eye can reach… But it’s better than what you can see out there” Tony says, walking Tyler through pathway after pathway, with large fences and lavish greenery surrounding the camp in each direction, offering both safety and peace. “We don’t ask anyone to stay if they don’t want to, we just want to be sure that they won’t come back to harm us after they’re gone” Tony says, walking Tyler past rows and rows of post-apocalypse built homes and facilities, all with working electricity and an ample supply of food and water.
“I don’t get it” Tyler says, continuing to be awed at the surroundings as Tony looks at him curiously. “What is it that you don’t get?” the man asks, watching such awe-struck gazes take Tyler over like a kid surrounded by rows of sweets in a candy store. “How could all of… this… be possible?” Tyler asks, watching Tony laugh to himself as he nods.
“As I said to your friends, we’re a luxury to them in comparison to everything else out there. Do we have methods that would be considered unorthodox? Sure… But it’s a new world, and safety means coming up with new ways to look at threats. We never kill those we take for leverage, and we never kill those that we take them from… Unless they give us a reason to.”
Still awestruck, but very aware of the conversation being had, Tyler tries to remain in the mindset of someone unbias and unphased by the beauty surrounding him, but that mindset becoming harder and harder to maintain. “When your friends eventually run into a real bad guy, they’re gonna wish they were still dealing with me.”
Continuing to walk, eventually Tyler looks off into one of the internal parks, locking his eyes onto a girl sitting alone at a park bench, reading a book alone beside a lantern. His focus on the girl now slowing him down, slightly separating himself and Tony, Tyler fades off just looking at the woman before Tony breaks him from his spell. “Something catch your eyes?” Tony asks, only to notice the source of Tyler’s focus as Tyler takes his glance back to the man to his side. “Or is it someone?”
“Who is she?” Tyler asks, “That would be Angela Hargraves. She keeps track of food rations” Tony replies, noticing Tyler’s fixation on her. Stopping their walk, Tony and Tyler both stand in place, admiring the girl from afar before Tony speaks up. “Listen, I’m not going to ask you to make any big, life-altering decision right now, so don’t worry about having to make your mind up on anything. As far as you are concerned, let’s get you out of that broom closet and into some place more suitable for actually living in.”
Handing Tyler a key and pointing off in the direction in which they were previously walking, Tony concludes his tour by speaking to Tyler and walking off the way he came, leaving Tyler to his vices. “Your room will be the last door to the hall down there, you can ask the guard at the front door to direct you to ‘Room 5-4B, okay?”
Nodding, Tyler watches Tony pat him on the back and walk away. Standing in his place for a few more moments, Tyler continues to look at the lady before continuing his walk to his new room alone, casually glancing at the woman every now-and-then along the way.
Coming to a slow, rolling stop just outside the home, John’s truck parks and drops it’s passengers off just as the group begins to cook their dinner. “Who the hell caught a deer?” John jokes, watching as Emilio lifts his hand from the back of the camp. “We have a badge for Emilio or something?” John laughs, watching everyone at the campsite having a good time, talking to each other and keeping their eyes peeled for anyone that could be lurking around the corner.
Jess, Katie, Cameron and Heather all join their fellow survivors at the makeshift party site as John returns to the house with whatever supplies they brought along with them on the drive. Entering the house, John walks past the living room without second thought until he hears his name called. “Salem, what are you doing in here?” John asks, placing his equipment on the ground and walking over to the girl, stationed at the window and looking out at both Emilio and Bill.
“They’re hiding something” Salem says, her attention being noticed by John, who takes a seat on the fireplace wall. “I know” John replies, watching Salem turn her attention over to him. “You know what? That they’re hiding something or what they’re hiding?”
“Both” John says, rubbing his hands together as Salem awaits further information. “They-” John begin to say, only to stop himself, taking the chance to think about whether or not he should even bring it up. “They’re split on leaving” John responds, watching Salem stand from her seat and walk over to John. “Leaving what? The group?”
“All of it. Bill wants out and Emilio doesn’t know what to want” John says, laying back against the cold concrete as Salem takes a seat beside him. “Why does Bill want to leave?” Salem asks, watching John rub his eyes from the exhaustion of the busy day. “I don’t really know much about why. I overheard them talking about it, and all I know is that Bill seemed really adamant, and Emilio didn’t have much of an answer in either outcome.”
“Well get them to stay” Salem says, watching John grunt in response. “Salem” John says, immediately being cut off. “What? John, you know we can’t lose them” Salem says, watching the group’s leader throw his eyes around the room in frustration at the existence of the situation. “I know we can’t lose them, but I’m not going to force them to stay, Salem.”
“So you’re just going to let them go out there… On their own with a group of sickos hunting people down for leverage?” Salem asks, watching as John stares at her with soft and welcoming eyes. “Salem, I’m not going to force them to stay. I’ll try to convince them all I can, but the second I force them to stay, this group isn’t worth wanting to be a part of. If they want to risk the chance themselves, they’re welcome to. That doesn’t mean I’m going to like it.”
After a minute of silence, both Salem and John losing themselves in watching the flames of the bonfire shooting into the sky like the propulsion of a rocket being sent into space. “So, what’s the plan for getting Tyler back?” Salem asks, watching John throw himself around inside his own head. “We’re told we can fake being one of Tony’s soldiers easily enough to sneak into his compound with little problems.”
“No shit?” Salem asks, “If you’re shocked at that one, wait ‘til you hear this… Turns out if that fails, he’s got a small,, nuclear warhead somewhere in the compound we can blow the place to bits with.”
“A nuclear, what? You’re gonna drop a bomb on them?” Salem says, this time with more surprise and worry in her voice, but still kept to a minimum. “Not a big bomb. It’s apparently a small one and won’t do much more than blow the building up and throw radiation wherever the wind takes it. But it’s a last-ditch scenario. The hope is we can get Tyler and get out somewhere further inland if possible.”
“Have you told the group that?” Salem asks, only to watch John frantically shake his head. “No. No… At least, not yet.” Looking at him confused, “Why not?” Salem asks, watching John rest his head against the wall behind him with a smile beginning to creep onto his face. “I will. Just... not tonight. They’ve gone through so much, it’s nice to see them living without having to worry about whether they’ll see tomorrow or not. They’re… They’re being normal for a change. Let them enjoy it.”
Joining John in looking out at the fire, both she and John stand up and watch the survivors sitting outside and enjoying the company of one another around the fire, eating dinner and having some fun. “It’s like those old barbecues people used to have before all of this went down. It’s nice to see for a change” John says, smiling as Salem does the same. “You’re right. It’s… It’s nice.”
Continuing to look out at the group, John and Salem watch everyone socializing and joking around, the bonfire in the center serving as a warm light as the sky goes dark, and a deep blue night is given a peaceful overhaul, even if for one night only, as the world around them is stifled by the warm, welcoming embrace of life’s elusive beauty.
“We know you’re in there” the man says, tucking his hands into his pockets as one of his guards goes to march forward with his gun raised, only to stop in his tracks as the man turns his head in his direction, still looking at the ground, but getting the message across. “We promise not to shoot you if that helps anything” the man reiterates, watching the house remain lifeless.
Looking to John, the group watches his silent manner speak the loudest of the people inside of the home, staring at the ground with a look of determination in his eyes. “John, what do we do?” Meghan asks, having found herself stood beside him, watching his chest move heavily and his hands clenched into a fist.
“We’re not looking for a fight, we just aim to have a … civilized conversation” the man says, still waiting on a response from the inside. “We can do this all day if you’d like. My men aren’t as afraid of the dark as you are” the man continues, staring at the home with a confident grin as he watches a shadow move within the home. “I can see you inside. I hope you’re coming out to-” the man begins, finding himself cut off by the figure walking through the door.
Standing atop the front steps, Jess stares down the man as he begins subtly chuckling to himself. “You must be the ringleader” the man says, watch the blonde woman slowly step down the stairs as she makes her way for the front gate. “I admire a woman with such courage” the man says, still smiling from ear to ear as he talks through calm, well-worded sentences. “It’s a pleasure to meet you” the man says, taking one hand out of his pocket and holding it out as he walks towards Jess, finally meeting her face to face, with nothing more than the front gate and a few inches separating the two.
“Your name?” Jess asks, tilting her head with the corner of her lip bent, watching the man high-step through words with a confident poise. “Feisty” the man says, almost under his breath. “I didn’t ask for a character rundown, I asked for your name” Jess reiterates, watching the man lower his grin into puckered lips as he nods slowly.
“I’m Tony. My men will call me Mr. Archibald” the man says, pausing for a moment as his smile returns, somewhat sadistic in nature. “But you may call me whatever you’d like” Tony concludes just as the door behind Jess opens once more. “And who is this fine young fellow?” Tony asks, watching John walk down the steps and to the side of Jess, who rolls her eyes without a word. “Her husband” John replies, watching Tony look to Jess and nod in approval. “Then you, sir, may also refer to me as whatever you’d like” Tony responds, watching John staring daggers into him.
“I’m sensing a lot of hostility here” Tony says, “almost like you don’t believe that I’m just here to talk.” Staring at both individuals, Tony notices the two not looking at each other or even touching each other. “If you wanted to talk, you wouldn’t have brought the convoy” John responds, watching Tony nod his head in agreement. “If you wanted to talk, you wouldn’t have let your wife make the first move” Tony replies, angering John, whose breathing speeds up as Tony smirks straight at him, directing his laughter specifically at him.
“But you bring up a very good point” Tony responds, turning around towards his men. “I don’t need my convoy to hold a conversation” he says, turning to one man at the end of the street. “Hey Louis!” Tony shouts, “Take half of our men back to the post. We’ll reconvene there!” he concludes, watching as the man in question hops into a vehicle with numerous other armed men and drive away from the site.
“I don’t like that they do as told without question” Jess whispers, watching as her husband becomes fixated on one man at the end of the convoy opposite Louis standing just as Tony would. “Who’s that?” John asks as Tony returns to them, directing both of their sights towards the man in question. “Oh, that would be Eddie. He’s my second in command” Tony replies, casually waving to the man, who gives him a thumbs-up immediately in return.
“Eddie’s fun” Tony says, “Eddie’s a fun guy” he repeats, looking back to Jess and John with a smile and telling them to wave to Eddie, which neither respond to, instead opting to blankly stare at the man ahead of them. “Not much for fun, huh? That’s alright” Tony says, “not everyone can keep their humor intact while the world around them turns to shit. I won’t take offense.”
“What did you come here to talk about?” Jess asks, tucking her own hands into her pockets and staring at Tony, watching as he notices her composure and poise, very easily matching that of his own. “Well, trading of course!” Genuinely surprised by her response, squinting his eyes at her before looking back to her husband and finally over to the house, noticing the tops of heads peering out of the sides of windows.
“Do you not know who we are?” Tony asks, smirking as neither Jess or John reply to him, opting rather to maintain their dead-set stare at the man as he begins picking the pieces together. “Should we?” John asks, watching as the man begins laughing at the response before halting the fun all together and nodding with a blank look on his face. “Most definitely” Tony responds before Jess speaks up, impeding his fun.
“Tell us who you are, maybe we’ll remember” Jess replies, watching as the man silently nods to himself whilst panning around the area, thinking quietly to himself as John and Jessica spectate. Suddenly, the man faces back to the two with his finger held up into the air. “Why don’t I show you instead?” He says before using two fingers to direct the two men stood behind him to enter back into the van.
Sensing possible danger, both John and Jessica place their hands onto their firearms on their hips before watching the two men drag someone out of the van and throw him to the ground below. Kicking dirt up from the fall, the man is grabbed by the neck by one of the men until Jessica shouts at him, ordering them to stop.
Looking up, the man, still clenching the man on the ground in the palm of his hand, looks to Tony, who replies, “You heard the lady” as the man finally eases his grip. On his knees and using his hands to prop himself up, the assaulted man nearly engulfed in a cloud of dust looks up to Jess and John, revealing himself to be a bloodied and battered Tyler.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
“I’m sure you’ve seen our little friend around here before” Tony says, watching as both Jess and John begin fuming with anger. “We found him a little worse for wear down the road a short while ago” Tony adds in, prompting the rage boiling inside of Jess to spill over the edge, with both John and Tony watching as she draws her gun and takes aim at the two men beside Tyler, who respond as such.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you” Tony says, calmly laying his words out like a path for her to walk. “Why is that?” Jess asks, refusing to remove her eye from the top of her gun, keeping it locked on the two men. “Because even without half of my convoy, I still have enough ammunition to render this house to dust with a few bullets to spare. Killing my men won’t bring this any change.”
Looking at the man, no longer smiling, but refusing to show any fear or remorse, and instead sporting the same look of content, John places his hand on Jessica’s arm and persuades her to lower her weapon. “Maybe you are more than just her spouse” Tony jokes, looking on as John turns his eyes to the corner, staring him down. “You trapped us in the depot and kidnapped him. We want him back” Jess says, watching as Tony turns his head and looks at Tyler, who remains trying to stand himself up on all-fours.
“So it was YOU that killed my men. Well I’ll be damned” Tony states with a near humorous smirk. “If you really want him back that badly, you’re gonna have to give me something in return” Tony concludes, watching as John and Jess look at him with eyes of disgust. “We don’t owe you anything. You took our guy and we want him back” John says, watching Tony lift his finger into the air. “No no no, I didn’t take anybody. This isn’t the world it used to be, this isn’t kidnapping anymore. This is leveraging” Tony says, finally breaking from his stance and walking over to Tyler.
“Paper money isn’t worth anything anymore. If you want something of value, you need to figure out what some things are worth. Most people value human life, as is the case in most people” Tony says, walking around to Tyler and grabbing him by the chin before yanking a cloth free from his mouth. “So if you find someone… And you then proceed to take someone… You can use said someone as a form of currency.”
Kneeling to the dirt, Tony looks Tyler in the eyes, watching as the hostage glares at him with rage. Smiling with a devilish grin, Tony stares at Tyler and gives him a wink before patting him on the cheek and returning the cloth to his mouth. “So” Tony says as he stands up and returns to John and Jessica, arms spread like a giver, “What’s for sale?”
Closing the van door, Tony and his convoy drive off as John and Jessica return to the house, walking through the front door and stopping at the entry to the living room without Tyler and to a crowd of their people awaiting information.
“They’ll be back tomorrow” John says, leaving it at that as he aims for the hallway. “No, John” Heather says, walking up to him and pulling him by the shoulder, forcing him to face her and the remainder of the group. “Tell us what the hell that was” she demands, watching as John aggravatedly pans over the group and silently goes to aim for the hallway again. “John!” Heather shouts, pulling him around before he snaps, throwing a punch at the wall beside him and burying his hand through the drywall, ripping it out with enough force for it to carve his hand like a pumpkin.
“Let me see that” Lauren says, walking over to check John’s hand before he pulls it away from everyone, letting the blood drip to the floor below. “Enough!” John shouts, bringing everyone to a silence, his wife included. “This isn’t your business to deal with” John says before attempting to walk away for a third time, finding himself stopped by Heather once again.
“John, you get back here and tell us what just happened!” Heather demands, watching as John turns around and raises his voice to a volume most likely untouched since his military days, verbally snapping at the group. “We’re being blackmailed!” John shouts, “They want food we don’t have, water we don’t have, and ammo we don’t have in exchange for Tyler” he continues, watching as the group begins to hang their heads at the realization.
“They want to trade with us. That’s right, trade!” John says mockingly, whipping his hands through the air in an animated frustration. “He wants to use Tyler to pay for all this bullshit like he’s a fucking check. Nothing more than some writing on some fucking paper!” he continues, watching as everyone begins to grow even quieter, letting him air his frustration out.
“Now we’ve got to come up with thirty pounds EACH of all this shit by tomorrow morning in order to get him back!” John shouts, turning around to leave until Heather speaks up again. “Let us help” she exclaims, bringing John to a halt as he hangs his head out of sight from the rest of the group and regains his composure.
“This isn’t something you can just do yourself. Let us help you” Heather asks, walking up to John and putting her hand on his shoulder before he turns around and looks at each member of the group, scared, confused, worried and much more all at once. “There’s nothing to help” John says, walking past Heather and dropping himself onto the ledge of the fireplace as the group is helpless to do anything more than watch.
“We don’t have any of it, let alone a vault of everything” John says, “We’ve got a few gallons of water, a couple bags of chips and probably ten magazines of ammo all together. We don’t have anything to give them” John says, hanging his head and wiping the sweat from his face as it runs down his body and drops to the floor. “We could just take him back” Emilio says, prompting the group to turn to him. “Em, they’ve got more weaponry than a private militia. We’ve barely got sharpened axes. We can’t take anyone by force” John replies, only for his hopes to be rejuvenated just slightly by Emilio response.
“We don’t have to go into a gunfight if we can take them by surprise” Emilio suggests, watching as the group begins to visibly work towards the same page as him. “You said it yourself, we’ve got nothing to give them. So let’s take something from them and use that as our side of the bargain.”
Looking up to Emilio, John shakes his head in disbelief before slowly looking to come to a realization, propping his hand on his knee and looking towards the man before asking, “How do you suggest we do that?”
Smoking a cigarette outside, Jack stands beside a tree before he hears a voice call out his name from off to the side, watching as Lauren inches up to him before asking for a drag. “What’re you doing out here?” Jack asks, returning to viewing the stars above. “I could ask you the same question” Lauren responds, taking Jack’s hand and easily returning the cigarette to its space between his fingers. “Sometimes I just need to get away” Jack replies, taking a drag from the cigarette, breaking his response in half, “Clear my mind and be alone for a change.”
“I hear you” Lauren says, blowing the tobacco smoke out as her words enter the night sky. “Especially when shit like this pops up, you just can’t help but feel like it’s better to be alone sometimes” Lauren replies, holding her hand out for the cigarette as Jack obliges. “What do you think’s gonna happen tomorrow? The whole sneak-attack stunt?” Jack asks, watching as Lauren rests her head against the bark, looking out into the sky and using her free hand to trace the stars above into different shapes and figures.
“No clue” Lauren responds, turning to face Jack as he slowly nods before returning his eyes to the sky above. “What about you?” Lauren asks, handing the cigarette back to him. “I think we’re all gonna die” Jack replies, his serious tone being met with giggling from the woman beside him. “Yeah, real comedy gold” he sarcastically replies, watching as she laughs hysterically, much to Jack’s dismay.
“Okay, I’m lost” Jack says, breaking a smile but genuinely confused by the reaction. “Do I have something on my face?” Jack asks, just throwing things out at random as Lauren simply continues laughing and shaking her head. “I don’t get it! What’s so funny?” Jack asks, this time laughing himself before watching as Lauren puts her hand on his shoulder and leans forward, planting a kiss on him before the pair pull their lips apart.
Eyebrows raised, Jack finds himself lost in Lauren’s eyes as she swipes loose hairs out of his eyes. “If we’re gonna tomorrow, then I want to live tonight” Lauren says, moving in for another kiss, this time staying locked together for much longer as the two take each other to the ground, maintaining the kiss on the way down.
Stranded in the dark, Tyler can feel his breath bouncing around the narrow space surrounding him as he’s escorted to the depths of somewhere cold and hostile, with the sound of groaning increasing in volume the further forward they walk. “Where are you taking me?” Tyler shouts, demanding answers from guards that won’t even speak to him.
Finally, Tyler stops as the sound of a door opening and a lightswitch being flicked. After a brief second, he’s shoved forward and sent crashing into the ground, hands tied together and unable to break his fall. “Could have been a little more graceful” Tony states, the tone and volume of his voice distinguishable by even the most casually acquainted. Still in the dark, the light in the room blinds Tyler once the blindfold is removed from his eyes and the cloth in his mouth is removed, allowing him to speak freely as Louis and Eddie pick him up and tie him to a steel folding chair directly in front of Tony.
Surrounding the two in the center of the room are shelves upon shelves of automatic weaponry and ammunition crates, enough to supply an entire militia for years. “Like what I’ve done with the place?” Tony asks, watching as Tyler combs the room, looking at each piece in depth. Eventually, Tyler places his eyes onto Tony, staring at him with confusion as the man just nods and folds his hands.
“You don’t actually need any of what you’re trading me for, do you?” Tyler asks, watching the man respond by shrugging his shoulders as Tyler begins to ask why. “It’s not a matter of what I need, Tyler. If I need food, or water, or guns, I’ll find food, or water, or guns. So if I need to figure out who around here I can trust, I’ll find out who around here I can trust. Do you follow me?”
Puzzled, Tyler eventually comes around, going over the situation in his head before the lightbulb finally goes off. “You’re testing them” Tyler says, watching as Tony smiles. “I appreciate the credit, but it’s not as easily put as that. Though, I am flattered” Tony responds, standing to his feet and pouring two glasses of premium vodka. “So what’s the point of trading me for something you don’t need?” Tyler asks, watching as Tony returns to him with two glasses in hand, untying one of his hands and placing one of the cups in it.
“Someone you can trust isn’t worth anything if you can’t depend on them” Tony explains, taking a seat. “Remember what I told you, ANYTHING is currency. If it has value to someone, it has value in general, and everyone values things differently. Just because one guy won’t trade food for a pack of batteries doesn’t mean the next person wont” Tony says, taking a swig from his glass before returning to his monologue.
“If your people can be depended upon, then they will come here with all they can offer and ask for you back like men. And hell, if they do that, I’ll let them have you and take their stuff to go on their merry way, never to see each other again.” Caught by surprise, Tyler pans around the room, speaking aloud as he surveys the scenario. “So why are you telling me this?” Tyler asks, watching Tony smirk as Tyler begins to answer his own question. “You want to know if you’re gonna get the best or the worst” Tyler says, watching as Tony smiles, waving his finger towards Tyler and taking another sip. “I like you, Tyler. You’ve got an outlook that just works in this world” Tony replies, sitting back in his chair as he and Tyler continue their conversation.
Seated at the window, looking out at the night sky, Troy stays silently as John walks up to him. “You alright?” John asks, watching Troy just silently shake his head. “I know why you’re fuming” John replies, watching Troy turns to face John as he stares at him. “You’re the same person… Just from different worlds” John says, watching Troy move his eyes back to the world outside in defeat.
“He got me. Whatever it was, he just knew what it was. All the time, never missed a beat. The only time in my life someone ever actually cared to even try. And now he’s being held hostage for shit a god couldn’t even come up with” Troy says, frustrated and holding his head in his hand as John pats him on the back. “Listen, Troy. I’m not gonna be able to say anything to make this better, and I’m not even gonna try. But if there’s anything you can guarantee, it’s that I’m willing to die in order to bring Tyler back here, okay?”
Looking to the man beside him, Troy nods and returns his view to the sky as Meghan walks up to the two and pats John on the back, taking his place as he walks off into the home. “How’re you feeling?” Meghan asks, watching as Troy stare out into the night sky without words, silently shaking his head. Joining his gaze out into the sky, Meghan silently rests her head upon Troy’s shoulder and joins him.
“It’s never going to get easier. We just need to fight long enough to get to the other side” Meghan says, placing one of her free hands into Troy’s as he gently grazes his tumb over it. “How many people are we gonna lose before we get there?” Troy asks, both he and Meghan keeping their eyes glued at the sky.
“I don’t know” Meghan replies, staying quiet as both Troy and herself remain glued to the sky, not continuing any further dialogue.
“I’m sure your people are good, Tyler. Don’t have me mistaken” Tony says, pacing around the room, the vodka in his glass swirling around dangerously close to the rim but never actually going over. “But people don’t often do what you ask of them to do. Especially when there’s nothing to stop them from getting their way” Tony says, only to be cut off as Tyler argues his own point.
“There could be, and you know that” Tyler says, still strapped to his seat as Tony takes in every piece of dialogue into consideration. “If you tell them what you’re actually doing, you could figure out ways to challenge their trust in ways that won’t be in question” Tyler argues, only watching as Tony wags his finger, having already expected the response.
“But that’s the issue. You can’t challenge them once their already part of us because then you’ve already let the snakes in. It doesn’t take much to rip this apart once you’ve got inside.”
Turning his seat around one-hundred and eighty degrees, Tony sits front to the back of the chair, looking at Tyler. “It’s the same reason the country fell as easily as it did. Riots ensued and blurred the lines between dangerous corpse and dangerous person. Rules broke down and society didn’t have a reason to stay upright. We’re the ones that actually took the world down, it was just the undead that kept walking on it after.”
Argued into a corner, Tyler looks to the ground as Tony continues. “Call me whatever you’d like. I’ve done some bad things, and I’m going to keep doing bad things ‘cause it’s the only way to survive now. Call me ambitious, call me a dreamer, call me what you want and say I’m all this, that, and the other stuff. But I’m keeping this place alive and I’m making it stronger. If they can’t see that, they’re already a lost cause.”
“So you’re saving me” Tyler says, watching as Tony tiredly extends his arms and responds, “I’m trying to.”
“Ready for tomorrow?” Bill asks, walking into the bedroom beside Emilio and placing his pistol on the top of the dresser. “I don’t know if I’m going to be alive tomorrow night. So I guess that’s as ready as I’ll ever be” Emilio replies, collapsing onto the bed and tucking his hands behind his head as Bill sits at his feet. “This is a death sentence. You know that, right?” Bill asks, watching as Emilio unenthusiastically looks up at the sky, still with his hands behind his head, reply, “Yup.”
“What happens if we get past this? Where do we go from there?” Bill asks, watching as Emilio pulls himself up to a seat beside Bill. “I don’t know. I’m not sure where we go or what we do. I just know we don’t stay here” Emilio replies, watching as Bill annoyedly rolls his eyes. “So, we just go on the run again? Settle down a few states over? What kind of life is that?” Bill asks, watching as Emilio turns his head to the side and scratches his neck, shaking his head.
Taking a few deep breaths, Bill looks over to Emilio, watching as this unfolds. “I don’t want to do this anymore?” Bill says, watching Emilio look at him with eyes of confusion. “Do what? Run? Or live?” Emilio asks, “Run, Emilio. I don’t want to run anymore” Bill replies, placing his hand on Emilio’s leg. “If tomorrow goes well and we make it out in one piece…” Bill says, pausing mid-sentence as Emilio takes notice. “I don’t wanna go to the lighthouse” Bill replies, watching Emilio hang his head.
“Give me a reason” Bill says, watching as Emilio rubs the back of his head, trying to avoid having to respond. “Give me a reason to go with them, Em” Bill asks again, watching his husband shrug at him and continue shaking his head. “I don’t know, Bill! I just don’t know what to say” Emilio replies, looking around the room as he gathers his thoughts. “I don’t know if I’m gonna be alive tomorrow, and if I am, I don’t know what’s gonna happen to everyone here. Okay? But I’m not about to tell you that it’s alright to leave the group.”
Watching as his husband drops his head back to the bed, Bill gently lays himself next to him as they fold their hands atop their chests. “A life without you is one I’m not interested in living in again” Bill says, staring up at the ceiling as Emilio turns his head to face him. “If you don’t come out of that thing alive tomorrow” Bill stars, pausing for a second as Emilio places his hand on his cheek. Turning his head from upwards towards his husband, Bill concludes, “I’m not long behind you.”
“Do you understand?” John calls aloud to the group as the sun begins to rise. “No mistakes. No going rogue. You follow as your told and we all make it out alive, got it?” John asks again, with the group agreeing in unison. “Alright” John says, aiming for the door, “Emilio, Alicia, Franklin, and Salem with me” John calls as he exits the home and makes for his truck with his group tagging along just behind him.
“Everything loaded into the trucks?” Jess asks, turning her words to Katie. “Everything’s packed and ready to roll out if needed” the girl responds before fist-bumping Jessica as she walks for the front door. Catching up to her husband, Jessica wraps her arms around him and holds him tight, whispering into his ear to remain safe. “I always come back, this’ll be no different” John whispers back, pecking his wife on the head before climbing into the truck and driving off with his group, watching Jess and the rest of his people waving goodbye as they head off.
Back in the house, Heather and Cameron begin loading whatever magazines they have remaining into their weapons as Jessica storms back into the house. “Guns loaded?” Jess asks, walking over to the two and grabbing an automatic assault rifle, staring down the barrel as she aims it up. “Just about” Cameron replies, continuing his work as Jessica pats him on the shoulder and walks off. “Think they’re coming back?” Cameron whispers, watching as Heather turns to him with a smile, “They always do.”
Kicking up dirt behind them, the truck finds itself coming to a stop at a diner halfway between themselves and their convoy enemies, loitered with convoy vans parked directly outside the borded-up, void-of-sunlight dining room. Exiting their vehicles, they stare down an armed guard stationed just outside, reading them like a hard-covered book as they slowly pull a low number of duffle bags from the back of their vehicle and begin walking for the diner.
Laughing to himself at the sight of the lack of supplies being offered, the armed guard keeps his stance until he comes eye-to-eye with John, who mean-mugs him until the guard moves out of the way, visibly pitying the survivors in front of him in a mocking fashion. Cutting his losses, John shrugs off the disrespectful notion and pulls open the door to the diner, holding it open for the members of his group before entering it himself last.
“Oh, sorry Tyler” Tony says, turning from the man handcuffed and restrained by two armed guards in order to face John’s group, “It seems that my friends have arrived.” Putting forth his best smile, Tony motions his hand towards a chair at the end of the table as Tyler is gagged behind him, keeping him silent as Tony tends to his business.
“Please, have a seat” Tony says, watching as John slowly pulls out a chair and takes a seat as his group begins lining the duffle bags out amongst the table. “This is the best we can do” John says, watching as Tony puckers his lips and directs one of the guards behind him to rummage through the duffle bags. “Catch you at a bad time?” Tony asks, initiating a conversation with John. “We’re rebuilding” John responds, earning some laughter from the people surrounding him. “Rebuilding? What’re you, the Bengals?” Tony jokes, “What took it all away?” he proceeds to ask, watching as John crosses his arms and stares him down.
“Oh c’mon” Tony says, breaking the silence introduced by John’s lack of response, “If we’re gonna do business, I wanna know a bit of your background.” Peeling his eyes from Tony and directing them to Tyler, the hostage man is capable of little more than just aiming his eyes at different sections of the room. Finishing his efforts, the armed man turns to Tony and tells him that they’re short on their offerings by more than a little, causing John’s left eye to twitch as he attempts to put his anger aside.
“Real brave of you to show up here with less than I want and still ask for what you want” Tony says, folding his hands on the table, “It’s either that or truly disrespectful.”
“It’s all we’ve got to offer” John responds, getting Tony to joke to his group that John does indeed talk. Repeating John’s statement, Tony sits back into his chair and ponders his next move. “So, you’re gonna tell me that if I’m gonna pay you with Tyler, you’re estimating that his worth is, what, one-fourth of what I’m asking for him?” Tony asks, staring John down as he refuses to move a muscle. After a few short moments, John replies, “Plus a little added on.”
Immediately upon saying this, Emilio stabs the armed man in the hand, causing him to drop his weapon before ripping the blade from the tendons and redirecting it to the edge of his throat. Being held away from Emilio, the armed guard grunts in pain as his throat is squeezed by the man behind him whilst his hand bleeds freely without anything to stop it. Looking back to Tony, John watches the man’s expression remain unchanged. “What we have to offer, and your guy for ours” John states, countering the deal before watching Tyler, noticing his eyes shut closed in disappointment.
“Is that your deal?” Tony asks, watching John smile the way Tony normally would as he nods his head. “Do you know what currency is?” Tony asks, standing from his chair as John does the same, answering the question as he does. “It’s what you use to get what you want” John replies as he watches Tony shake his head. “Not at all” Tony replies, walking from the end of his seat. “I mean, in fairness, that is the concept of currency, but that’s not what currency is” he replies, watching as John picks up the gun dropped by their hostage and aims it at Tony.
“Number one, you won’t pull the trigger, because you’ll all be gunned down before you can even count to three. In addition to that, no one at your little group house will be left alive by the time we’re done with them” Tony says, walking over to the dining room counter and pouring himself a glass of lemonade. “Number two, you can hold that gun to me all that you’d like, but I’m going to explain to you how currency works anyway.”
Returning to the table, Tony hands glasses of lemonade to his own armed guards as he explains before giving John’s group their own as well, sitting them next to him at the table. “Currency is what is valued by the individuals using it. The worth of whatever you’re using is always subject to change based on what people dictate as valuable. For instance, someone in this world will trade you food in return for gold, but others might not. It’s all dependent on what you bring to the table” Tony says, concluding his lemonade pouring by placing one final glass beside John and walking back to his spot at the table.
“And what you’ve decided to bring to the table is deceit. Pretending to be trustworthy enough for us to take your concerns into account, and opting to use violence to try and play my game on my own court.” Taking a seat, Tony pulls a gun from his belt and aim it at John, turning this into a game of chicken. “Give us our guy and we’ll give you yours. That’s the deal” John says, stern in his voice and unrelenting as he watches Tony spin in his office chair before coming back around and keeping his aim on John.
“Then it’s a bad deal for one very crucial reason” Tony says, turning just to the side before pulling the trigger, sending a bullet straight through his guard’s head and sending him tumbling from Emilio’s grasp and to the floor. “You don’t know what I value” Tony says, lowering his gun to the table and sitting back into his seat.
“John, I’m going to let you walk out of here with not only your lives, but the equipment you brought to me as well” Tony says, watching as John lowers his aims and resorts to hearing Tony out. “Tyler will not be going with you, but you will have a chance to have him back again when you’ve brought me two-times as much as I have asked for.”
Rolling his eyes and he notices Tyler looking at him in sorrow, John listens to the rest of what Tony has to say as his group stands beside him. “Let me make this one thing very clear to you, John. I’m the easiest man you will ever have to deal with” Tony says, standing from his seat before walking up to John, coming within inches of him as he continues. “There are going to be people far worse and far less understanding that you’ll come across than me, I promise you that. So come back to me with what I’m asking you for, this time without any of this bullshit you pulled today, and we’ll have a civil conversation. Alright?”
Taking in a breath, John wrinkles his nose as a non-verbal agreement before Tny concludes his statement and has his guards escort his group off of the premises. “And if you try anything like this again, or anything even remotely close… I’ll kill you and everyone you love. Got it?”
Without responding, and without as much as a reason to, John and his group are turned away and aimed for the door, with John catching one last glimpse of Tony, his remaining guards and a captive Tyler before disappearing from the diner’s interior and being forced back onto the road, armed with the knowledge that there is more confrontation to come for him and his group.
Hammering in new screws into the front gates, Jack kneels on the soft grass alongside Lauren. Each strike of metal on metal sends a ring through the forest beside the group’s home, alerting anyone and anything to their immediate surroundings. After a few short moments, the growling of one undead begins originating from within the trees. “Lauren!” Jack calmly exclaims to the woman beside him, “We’ve got another one.”
Readying her pistol, Lauren takes aim at the end of the treeline, watching intently before noticing one undead spring up, only to be put down immediately thereafter and drop to the ground with a thud. “Which one’s that?” Lauren asks, “Sixteen?”
“I’m pretty sure we’re on seventeen” Jack replies with a smile, “Sixteen was the woman in the cat sweater.” Shaking her head, Lauren holsters her silenced pistol before hopping over the broken fencing and taking the undead corpse by the feet to drag it away. As he returns to his work, Jessica emerges from within the house and walks over to the side, coming across Alicia and Franklin.
“How’re we looking?” the woman asks, walking alongside Alicia and Franklin as they direct her to the side of the house. Coming to a stop, Alicia points her finger at a moderately sized plastic tub filled with water. “We’re doing well on the water” Alicia replies, “But this tub is gonna give out any day now.” Kneeling to the ground, Jessica takes a look at the bottom of the tub, noticing the severely warped plastic leaving only a thin barricade between the water in the tank and the ground it will soon drench just below. “So we get a new tank, replace this one” Jessica replies, watching Franklin begin shaking his head in disapproval.
“Not a solution” The man says, pointing the mallet attachment on his prosthetic hand towards the sky. “We just get a new tub, we still face the problem of it being right under the sun. We’re about to head into summer, so cut the survivability of a new tub from four months to about two and a half.”
“So what do we do now?” Jessica asks, watching Alicia shake her head, trying her best to find an alternative. “I don’t know” the girl responds, “We can’t relocate the tub and short-term solutions are only growing less promising.”
“What if we bury the tank underground?” A voice calls out from the front of the house, prompting the three to turn their attention towards it to see Heather walking towards them, wiping the dirt from her hands with a towel. “An underground tank?” Jessica repeats, “Sure. We cover the top of it with grass and open it once the rain starts falling.”
Looking around and shrugging their shoulders, settling for the plan. “We can bury it below this one. All the pipes and gutters will still direct falling water into it, so we won’t have to reconfigure everything around” Heather continues, watching the three ahead of her go over the plan in their respective heads. “Alright” Jessica replies, “That’s what we’ll do.”
Heading off towards the front of the house, Jessica looks forward to see Troy and Tyler carrying a bag of supplies each in the direction of the main road. Calling out for them, Jessica catches up to them halfway, meeting them back at the front gate. “Where you guys heading off to?” Jessica asks, noticing both men preparing to go on foot.
“Back to the depot. Wanted to see what things on the list we could still get our hands on” Tyler replies, almost instantly getting cut off by Jess. “Without a car?” The woman asks, only being met with Troy’s response of “We didn’t exactly have much luck with our last one. Didn’t want to push it.”
Looking around the property, Jess notices everyone solely focused on their work and buried in making progress on their own respective projects. After another second of self-planning, Jess turns to Jack and tells him to let her husband know that she’ll be joining Troy and Tyler. “Got it” Jack responds, not looking towards her, and instead continuing his work on the fence.
“Good to go?” Jess asks, joining by Troy’s side, walking along with them down the road towards the depot to no hesitation whilst the sun beats down on them from behind.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Emerging from a cramped, poorly lit area of the room reserved mostly for weaponry and ammunition, John walks throughout the house, greeting Cameron and Bill along the way before walking into the backyard of the home. “What’s up, John? Calls out Salem from off to the side, splitting firewood with an axe off on her own. “How’s it going, Salem? Early morning?” John replies, watching the woman shake her head with a laugh. “If I was up early, you’d know it” Salem replies, watching John join her in laughter.
Walking over to the pile of uncut firewood, John takes on piece at a time and places it atop the wooden stump, making the job for Salem slightly easier. “Catering to me now, are ya?” Salem asks, sarcastically hinting at the roles being reversed. “Doing my civic duty” John replies, looking up at Salem, who chuckles once more before bringing the axe down one again.
After a few moments of continuing the routine, Salem halts her progress and turns to John, planting the axe into the top of the tree stump and leaning against it. “Can I ask you something?” Salem asks, watching John drop his log of uncut firewood and place his hands on his hips after wiping a drop of sweat from right above his eye. “Shoot” John replies, watching the girl pause for a moment, thinking over her line before fully asking it.
“What… What’s the plan now? Y’know, going forward?”
Sucking in his breath and looking around the camp, John contemplates his next words, taking the environment and the people into consideration before actually speaking his mind on the idea to someone other than himself. “Personally. I don’t trust this place” John replies, “We can get caught in a horde like that” he says, snapping his fingers, but not getting much of a sound from it due to the sweat-covered wood chips along his fingers. “That’s not even mentioning what kind of people can just pass by here and run through us while we sleep” The man continues, “Too many places the come from, too many places to hid in. It’s just a comforting place to settle down.”
Without speaking, Salem replies by nodding her head and returning to work. After Salem splits another piece of wood in half, John asks in return, “Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know” Salem replies, taking a moment to figure out a response worthy of saying. “I guess I don’t feel like I really want to be here, but I also don’t really know where to go.” After a few seconds of silence between the two, neither really wanting to be the next voice to speak up, Meghan chimes in, walking down the wooden steps from the home and up to both. “We may not have to worry about ‘what next’ that much” Meghan replies, finally meeting up with the two ahead of her.
“Troy told me that he and Tyler had to kill a man down at the depot the other day. Said he had a piece of paper with a key in his pocket and wanted to figure out what the code went to” Meghan replies, watching a confused John look down as Salem asks up. “What’s that got anything to do with it?” The woman asks, watching Meghan’s eyes noticeably light up.
“There was a picture of the man and his family, too. Right outside of a big house with a lighthouse a few feets away. He thinks he recognizes the place and wanted to see if the guy had any keys or such on him.” Starting to nod his head, John speaks up, “A light house would be a great place to head to next” he replies, “I’m on board for that if they come back with something promising.”
“Wait, so we’re just gonna head out to the coast with nothing else to go off of?” Salem asks, “If it’s going to offer us a place to settle down and built into something worth living… Yeah, absolutely!” John replies, his voice giving off notable signs of excitement the further the conversation goes on. “It’s not like we have anywhere else in mind, Salem” Meghan replies, “An island with that we can defend easily and work with? That’s a resort nowadays!”
“I mean, it’s not like I’m against the idea” Salem responds, keeping her composure in order to defend her point, “But we barely all made it here alive when the walls went down, and we still lost Reggie and Shauna. We don’t have great odds of getting there in one piece.” Joy harbored, both John and Meghan are quieted by the understanding that this fact is one that cannot be easily argued against. “You’ve got to take risks in order to survive” Meghan replies, with both Salem and John turning to face her as she continues. “We either roll the dice going for the coast or risk getting slaughtered sitting here and waiting for something to fall into our laps.”
After a few further moments of silence, complimented by the buzzing of flies and chirping of birds in the area, Meghan speaks up once more. “I’m on the light house side. It’s too good to pass up the chance at.” Turning his head towards Meghan, John nods before turning to Salem in order to await her response. “If they come back with something that proves it’s out there, I’m with whoever goes to it” Salem replies, only for her wording to be questioned by the man beside her. “With whoever? We’re all going” John responds, watching as Salem tilts her head whilst Meghan drops hers.
“What?” The man asks, waiting for a response before Meghan hands it to him. “Not everyone’s going to choose to go” she says, watching the confusion spread across John’s face. “John, we can’t ensure that everyone’s going to want to take that chance. I know for certain that Alicia and Franklin want to stay here, and your wife does too as far as right now is concerned.”
“We’re not leaving anyone behind” John replies, only being met with a response from Salem, muttered somewhat under her breath so as to not start any fight. “It’s more like leaving in general than leaving behind” the woman replies, looking up at John, whose expression of confusion turns into one of reluctant acceptance. “I know this place isn’t good enough to call home long term, but I want to get everyone we can on board with heading out for it before we do” Meghan says, giving John something to think about.
“So” Jess says, looking at the men at each of her sides, “What are you really coming out here for?” With a smirk, “That obvious?” Troy asks, looking to Jess, who responds by raising one eyebrow in his direction. “No one goes shopping for forty pounds of lumber without something to carry it back with” Jess replies, “Spill it.”
Letting out a sigh of playful annoyance, Tyler replies, “We may have found a place where we can comfortably settle down. Figure everything out and get something going.” Turning to the man beside her with both eyes opened in a cautious enthusiasm. “Let’s hear it” Jess replies, her attention being taken to her opposite side as Troy continues on behalf of Tyler. “A light house. It’s part of a house off Fishers Island. The guy from the depot had a picture of his family in front of it in his wallet.”
Confused, Jess then proceeds to ask, “So why are we going back to the depot?” only to be met with a response from Tyler. “He also had a key. It was written on the back of a piece of paper with the letters ‘Sentr’ on the back.”
“If we find what the key belongs to, it might have something that can help us get there” Troy concludes, ushering in a few minutes of silent walking before Jessica speaks up once more. “Alright. If you think this place is worth our time, I’ll figure out some way to get everyone down there.”
With a smile on their faces, Troy and Tyler look to each other and nod before continuing onwards, “I think the coast sounds pretty great right about now” Troy confidently exclaims as they step into the parking lot just ahead of the depot.
“Here’s the plan” Troy says aloud, his view partially taken by the view of the body beside the truck from before, with a moment of genuine empathy kept to himself. “We get inside and head for the back. Everything’s strewn all over the place, so be careful about where you step. We’ll see what we can find and figure out where to go from there.”
“Sounds like a plan” Jess says, approaching the main doors before squeezing through and entering into the wrecked depot main floor. “You guys really did a number on this thing” Jess jokes, looking around to see the massive metal shelving platforms toppled onto each other and overhearing the subtle groaning of the undead buried beneath them.”And we’re super proud of our work, so no flash photography” Tyler cuts back, walking past Jess on his way towards the back before she follows along.
“Keep your eyes peeled” Troy whispers, arming himself with a pipe as he cautiously sneaks around corners. “He may have been living here before, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t undead sneaking around in here” he continues, slowly placing his hand to the surface of the heavy metal doors before pushing in and entering into the back. Equal parts cold and warm, the back sits vacant and brings a sinister feel along with it, holding nothing of much use aside from wrapped loads of lumber and other accessories, but remaining dark and void of light, with a light blue tint coating the room from wall to wall.
“Where’s the office?” Jess asks, watching Tyler point out the opposite end of the area, where a long window to a pitch-black room sits empty and lifeless. Walking forward, Tyler begins to separate from the group as Jess walks over to Troy, looking towards the floor. “What’s up, Troy?” Jess asks, watching the puzzled man look around the floor to see an extension cord running from end to end, with a power box flashing a green light to signal that the power has been active.
“The box wouldn’t be on if it had gone this long without power” the man replies, “It was already low yesterday. It must have been, he didn’t have many lights on. Whatever power wasn’t turned off would have used the last of the fuel for the emergency generator.” Looking towards the outlet, Troy follows the one cord plugged in to a box just at the base of a concrete column near the middle of the room. Following the wire coverings upwards, Troy spots an emergency light connected directly to it before pointing upwards. “It’s running to that” Troy responds just as the light turns on and begins flashing around the now yellow-coated room whilst sirens blare, echoing throughout the area with force and driving each of the three to their knees as they clutch to their ears to provide any amount of cover to themselves.
Suddenly, a metal gate just below the light, on both ends of the room rush to connect with each other, sealing both ends of the room off from each other and separating Tyler from Troy and Jess. As the ringing continues, Jess looks up through the chaos to see Tyler stand to his feet and turn to his side, just in time to see a member of the undead hurry towards him. “Tyler!” Jessica shouts, with the man unable to hear her in the midst of just narrowly dodging an attack and forcing the undead to the floor.
Reaching into his leather boot, Tyler frees a gun from it after a brief struggle and takes aim at the undead, only for the weight of the corpse crashing into him to bring him into the ground and send the gun sailing across the room. Refusing to be brought down by the deafening sirens, Jessica runs up to the gate and shoves herself into it, trying to release enough pressure to get it open. Still struggling beneath the undead, Tyler holds the corpse on top of him by the neck, keeping his mouth mere inches away from his face in hopes of continuing to cling to the need for survival.
With the gun too far out of reach for him and nothing but roughed up concrete below him, Tyler shuts his eyes and throws out a deep breath. After a few, very short moments, Tyler frees his hand from the undead’s neck and puts both of his hands into its mouth, one hand on each half before using the strength he has remaining to rip both ends apart. As the corpse’s jaw is forced further open, it’s growling turns into one of primal hissing as it grows further and further silenced until the sounds of distress is overwhelmed by cracking. Still using whatever strength he has left, Tyler lets out one massive shout before splitting the top half of the undead’s head clean from his body and watching it drop to the ground, with the corpse remaining lifeless atop him.
Staggering to his feet and watching Jess try to pry the gate open, Troy begins to march forward to help her accomplish said task. As he walks forward, a burst of light explodes into the room from the outside, and through one of the emergency exits, two men come rushing into the room and tackle Troy to the floor. Unable to overhear the scuffle behind her, Jess turns around to be met with a blinding light shining well enough to just barely make out the scene in front of her. Walking forward and shielding her face from any further light, Jess watches one blurry figure grow closer at a quick pace, and before long, watches it fly past her as she ducks forward, allowing it to crash into the metal gate ahead.
Still beneath the undead corpse, Tyler turns to his side and watches the scene unfold, unable to do anything aside from watch as Jess ducks away from a man with a metal baseball bat, swinging his way into the fortified walls of the depot. After a brief second, Tyler turns around to see the gun still laying there on the floor. Putting two and two together, Tyler frees himself from beneath the weight of the undead and throws himself towards the gun.
Beneath the unarmed man, Troy frees his leg well enough to lay in a nasty shot below the belt to alleviate the pressure of the man’s hands wrapped around his throat. Meanwhile, Jess dodges another swing from the wannabee minor league pinch hitter as the bat obliterates the metal power supply box. Unable to back up much further, Jess can do nothing but watch the man turns towards her direction and ready another swing. Leaning against the metal gate, Jess watches the man march towards her once more before a gunshot rings through the room, and the man ahead of her drops to the floor.
Readying another shot, Tyler is caught by surprise when the emergency exit on his end swings open and the gun is sent flying from his hands again as two men take him to the ground and tie his hands behind his back. Watching this unfold, Jess is helpless to do anything but shout Tyler’s name as she watches him being pulled out of the door and disappear into the light. Furious, Jess turns back around to watch Troy and the unarmed man still struggling on the ground before her anger engulfs her, and the baseball bat laying on the ground becomes her own property.
Marching towards the two, Jessica swings at the tyrant atop Troy and knocks him halfway into unconsciousness as Troy crawls out of the line of Jessica’s sight. The man, eyes shot open in shock from the sheer force of the impact, slowly lifts his hand into the air as a way to beg her not to swing again, but quickly finds his request to be denied. Straight between the eyes, Jessica buries the tip of the bat into an artificially created crevasse in his head, flinging blood through the air like a paint grenade before the blonde badass bursts through the exit on her side and rushes around the back of the depot, only watching a black van hurry off in the distance.
Angered, Jess marches back into the depot and takes the bat to the head of the fresh corpse once again, sending so many shots down onto whatever skull remains that the head turns into more of a puddle of blood than what was once human. “Jess!” Troy shouts for the tenth time, only with the tenth call for her name to be the first one heard following the deactivation of the alarm system.
Turning to the man beside her with a blank, somewhat deranged stare, Jess watches Troy look around the depot in search of an explanation for what just happened. “Wh- what was that?” Troy asks, stumbling through his words due to both a lack of breath and a failure to grasp the full picture of the events.
As the sun begins setting, Salem continues to split firewood and add to the growing stack nearly the length of the available backyard until Franklin walks up to her. “Holy shit, Salem. You still at it?” the man asks, chuckling to himself as he watches Salem turn around in surprise herself at her progress. “I think the world needs a couple trees left for the whole oxygen thing, don’t you think?” Franklin jokes, watching the woman laugh it off and take a seat on one of the smaller stacks. “I must’ve just zoned out, you know? Just went on auto-pilot” Salem says, wiping her forehead and clearing the sweat from it like a windshield wiper to a car on a rainy day.
“Still hung up over that ‘outcast’ thing?” Franklin asks, taking a seat on the stump in front of her and watching her sink backwards. “I just can’t help it, Frank. Every time someone reminds me that I’m part of the group, it feels so fake. Like they just want me to believe it.”
Leaning forward, pressing his elbows into his knees, Franklin replies. “Salem, you’ve earned your place in the group. It probably just feels fake because you think about it like that.” Shaking her head, Salem looks up at Franklin and responds. “That’s the thing. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I haven’t done anything to earn my place here. I don’t belong here because I just kind of stumbled into you guys and went with it.”
Smiling, Franklin begins chuckling to himself as Salem watches on confused. “Are you secretly a mental patient or something?” Salem asks, causing Franklin to laugh even more. “No. no no no. You just reminded me of how I got into the group.”
Squinting her eyes, Salem looks on as Franklin stares up at her, watching as he bobs her head as a physical invitation to continue. “Emilio, Bill and I were holed up in this little dentist office like… RIGHT OUTSIDE of the hospital the city got wrecked by” Franklin says, waving his hands around to animate the story. “And then, out of the blue, we heard two cars speeding down the street. They came to a stop bumper to bumper and then the first car floored it into a horde and hit one of those stone barriers.”
“Was the driver okay?” Salem asks, watching Franklin look over to John on the side of the house fixing one of the broken stone support columns below the home. “Why don’t you ask him?” Franklin suggests, watching Salem’s eyebrows rise. “So, he gets caught trying to drive away from Meghan and Alicia” Franklin says until he is stopped by John, who clears his throat to halt the conversation. “In my defense” John says, “I thought they were strangers with road rage.”
“Right” Franklin replies with a smile, earning one from Salem as well. “So the three of us run down and save Alicia and Meghan at what is probably the last possible second and mow through the horde to save him. After that, we just kind of road back to their house with them and sort of stayed along for the ride.”
Walking towards the two with a rag in his hands, wiping the dirt from them, John adds in. “And I may not say it often enough, but I’m glad they did. It’s hard to rely on anyone in this world, so when you can count on someone to get the job done, it’s the difference between survival and death.”
“But Franklin saved your life. All I did was-” Salem says, only to be stopped by John as he interrupts her. “Fly yourself, Franklin and Alicia over state lines and help us all not only survive, but win a war against homeless thugs desperate to take our shit or die trying?” John says, earning a silent grin from Salem. “Yeah, totally unimportant” John jokes before taking a seat beside Franklin on the stump.
“I’m gonna be honest, Salem. I think you’re trying to convince yourself that you don’t belong so you’re more confident to walk away” John says, staring straight at Salem as he says it. “I like having you here. And while we don’t all say it because most of us don’t want to get too sentimental, we all appreciate having you here. But if you can’t see that, maybe it’s because you’re not allowing yourself to.”
“John’s right” Franklin says, watching Salem turn to face him. “I think you’re trying to keep yourself from getting stuck in one place. You need to be moving. You’re a pilot for fuck’s sake, it’s what you do. I don’t blame you for that!” As Franklin concludes, John grabs Salem’s attention once more. “If you want to be a part of this group, you’re gonna need to make your mind up. Do you want to be here or not, it’s as simple as that.”
Standing from his seat, John pats Salem on the shoulder and returns to his work before Franklin stands to his feet. “For the record, I don’t think anyone wants you to go.” Smiling, Salem watches Franklin walk off before remaining seated, staring off and thinking to herself.
Fading below the visible surface, the day makes room for the night to ensue as Jess and Troy hobble up the road just ahead of the house. Catching a glimpse of the two figures, both Jack and Lauren stand from their seats behind the front gates to get a better view. After a few short seconds, Jack rushes back into the house as Lauren bursts from the front yard and up to the two wounded survivors, focusing on Troy as he gasps for air through his damaged throat. Very soon after, John and the rest of the group hurry up to the two survivors and notice the one missing.
“Jess, where’s Tyler?” John asks, holding Jess in his arms whilst watching Troy on his knees, unable to speak. “They took him” Jess replies, catching John by surprise. “Who took him?” John asks, “I don’t know. The guys that snuck up on us.”
Still not understanding what happened, John asks simple, one-word questions like “who”, “how”, and “why” with not much more luck. “Alright” John says, “let’s get them inside” he shouts as he and the group aid Jess and Troy back towards the run down home.
Rushing through the front door, Jess and Troy both collapse onto the beaten furniture in the living room and catch their breaths. “Jess, what happened?” Meghan asks softly, handing Jess and Troy bottles of water and watch as they regain their composure. Just as Jessica goes to speak up, the sound of air breaking through the lips of Emilio signals for the room to grow quiet. As the air in the room grows thin, the sound of motors running and wheels kicking up dirt begins to grow louder and more noticeable than before.
“Everyone get down and stay hidden!” John shouts, joining the rest of his group in taking cover, standing beside a wall in the corner overlooking the main road on both sides. From down the street, John watches a number of jet-black vans drive up to the front and side gates of the home and come to a rolling stop. Parking just outside of the fencing, each van opens up both their front and side doors as armed guards dressed in all black clothing ranging from bullet-proof vests to sweatshirts and sweatpants hop out and stand beside their vehicles. In the window closest to John, a man in a gray button up shirt and brown khakis, sporting black combat boots steps out of the middle door.
Reaching inside of his van, the man retrieves a megaphone and powers it on. Without hesitation, the man sports a smirk and a single raised eyebrow to accompany his slicked-to-the-side sun-dyed blonde hair, staring straight at the home in front of him and his group.
With a subtle laugh under his breath, the man speaks into the megaphone and aims his words towards the inhabitants of the house. “Hi there” the unnamed man says, “My name is Tony, and I think we have some things you might want to hear.”
Walking steadily along a seemingly never-ending road, a lone undead begins directing its attention to a source of noise behind it. Growing closer within each passing second, the noise becomes apparent enough to begin drawing the attention of the undead backwards. As the noise grows louder, it becomes clear that it is the sax solo drenching the atmosphere through a set of well-endowed speakers, growing loud enough for the undead to stare it down like looking into the barrel of a gun. Hissing and groaning as its peers do, the undead reaches out towards the loud music before its head is split in two by the swift swing of a throwing axe making its way from the front of its head to the back.
Driving by as the monster collapses into a heap of death, John’s truck continues on its pathway towards the Stewart Air National Guard Base completely unsure of what resides there awaiting his group’s presence. “Any chance we get our hands on something that can get airborne?” Katie asks, seated beside John in the passenger seat.
With a smile and a shake of his head, John responds, “Let’s hope for Salem’s sake. I’m beginning to think she’s missing the sky” as he continues driving past the dirt road entrance of an abandoned farm house, nearly fully hidden by overgrown fauna.
“How you guys doing back there?” John shouts, asking through the narrow opening in the glass back window out to the engaged couple camping out in the truck bed. “Just peachy!” Bill shouts, watching as his fiance begins wiping off the undead ooze from the head of his axe. “Could use with some disinfectant wipes, but I’m willing to hold off on that grocery stop” Emilio jokes, smirking to himself as his husband shakes his head in disapproval, refusing to give an ounce of laughter to such a lazy attempt at humor.
“How about you?” Emilio shouts, waiting for John’s response, as the man at the wheel flips him off whilst keeping his eyes glued onto the road ahead of him. Chuckling to himself, Emilio returns to his current task whilst the group returns to silence, counting down the minutes before they finally arrive at the center of what could either become their potential nightmares, or their much-earned relief.
“Do you think life will ever go back to the way it was?” Katie asks towards John, who puckers his lips and tilts his head, wondering what his own belief in the matter is. “I… Don’t know. I haven’t really given it much thought” John replies, with Katie nodding to herself, looking forward partially disappointed. Turning his attention to the girl, John asks her what the problem is, only for Katie to be confused in the question herself.
“Honestly, I don’t know” Katie says, crossing one of her legs over the other. “I’ve asked almost everyone, and no one seems to think that it will. Or… At least, no one will explicitly say that they will.” John turns his attention back towards the girl once more, looking at her and asking her whether or not she believes that things will return to normal.
“I mean, not really. You can’t just live through this life and go back to what came before it. I get that… But, it’s kind of hard to think about never seeing the life that came before this one again. All the people… All the change. It’s weird” Katie says, with John’s expression turning into one of a frown.
“If you truly want to know what I think” John says, earning Katie’s attention as she turns to watch him. “I think we’ll eventually find somewhere that operates like our old world with additions that take this one into account. A city or a place with our old amenities, but new systems in place to make sure it doesn’t fall apart again. A comfortable middle ground that everyone can be fine with.”
“Do you really believe that?” Katie asks, with John turning towards her and smiling. “Yeah, I do. It’s going to take some time and effort to find it, without a doubt. But we’ve got to survive long enough for that place to find its footing and prove to be something stable.”
After a few more brief moments of silence ensure, Katie turns to John and asks, “What if we made that place a reality?” Nodding his head a few times and quickly weighing the most notable options, John smirks and turns towards the girl, now more enthusiastic about the future than before, responding, “When we find the right place. I don’t see why we can’t.”
Smiling at the driver, Katie nods and sinks into her seat, enjoying the remainder of the ride as the truck climbs a hill onto a long stretch of road leading into the exact direction of the air base, heading on a journey towards finally understanding the full picture.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Spitting dirt from beneath its back tires, John’s truck fights along the unkempt roads as the terrain gets slightly more bearable the further towards the base the group becomes. Eventually, the asphalt below the dirt becomes visible, and before long, John and his group are driving along clean, well kept roadway just a few thousand feet away from the front gates.
“There’s something about this I don’t like” John says to himself, catching the eye of the girl beside him as Emilio points out an easily missable flaw in the plan. “Why is this road so well treated?” Emilio asks, pointing out the switch from the dirt-covered roadway to the smooth-driving asphalt, gaining worry in the group.
“Listen up everyone” John shouts, pulling the truck off to the side of the road and parking beneath a bent and broken tree. “We’re going to park here and walk the rest of the way. No need to get caught and have our shit stolen this far in.”
Hopping from the front seat, John and Katie help both Bill and Emilio out of the bed of the truck and begin hauling their equipment the rest of the way to the camp. The further the group walks along, the more uneasy the air gets, and the worse the sinking feeling of this all being a trap further becomes.
After walking a few stadium’s worth of well-groomed road, the group finally comes across the back gates of the base’s tarmac, watching inside as the undead litter the area like fruit flies to a month-old piece of cantaloupe, hanging around with no direction other than their intention to satisfy their primal instinct.
Without hesitation, Bill retrieves the bolt cutters and begins taking apart the links of the well-painted chain link fencing before keeping it open with zip ties, allowing the group to begin invading the air base grounds one by one.
Pulling hammers free from Emilio’s bag, the group gets to work. “Head for hanger D!” Bill shouts, getting the group in the right direction before storming forward and burying the pull of his hammer into the side of one lone member of the undead horde, dropping it into a heap before continuing on. Next up is Katie, who ducks another member of the horde before grabbing it by whatever hair remains attached to its head and pulling back, scalping the decaying flesh from the corpse before raining down one meteoric shot directly atop its skull, allowing it to collapse forward in a satisfying face plant.
“Not bad” Bill jokes, walking towards another separated member of the horde before kicking its leg out and leveling it with a hammer-assisted uppercut, dropping it back without the blow having been fatal. Without further thinking, Bill stands over the prone body of the still fighting undead before dropping the sole of his boot over its face, crushing it’s deteriorated skull into a pool of maroon-like ooze and flesh.
“Watch and learn” Emilio says, marching forward towards two members of the undead and kicking the leg out from one, dropping it into the other before kicking the latter-most undead square in the mouth. As the first undead begins its noble attempt at climbing back into its feet, Emilio swings the pull of the hammer through its eye socket, keeping it in place as the second undead climbs back to its own feet, waiting the perfect amount of time before ripping the hammer free and bludgeoning the one monster left standing with a backhand shot for the ages.
“Got anything for us, John?” Katie jokes, with the defacto leader of the group smirking before calmly walking forward into a growing collection of the undead now taking notice of their own being slaughtered in cinematic fashion and lifting his hammer into the air. One by one, John strikes down undead corpses like he’s putting his signature to a pile of unimportant documents, dropping them like a bad habit on the cold surface of the tarmac. After getting through a good dozen, John spots one more member of the horde on its lonesome taking notice of his presence. With a smirk on his face, John pulls a knife free from his pocket and throws it forward with perfect accuracy, burying it into the heart of the undead before it slumps down against a light post as an undead pin cushion.
Continuing his calm, badass-like stroll, John rips his dagger free from the undead chest before turning to his group. Clearing his throat before taking another momentary glance at the horde left in the area, John smiles at his group before saying, “Let’s get this massacre over with” before he and his group rush forward into the horde like they’re signing a death warrant. Suddenly, the near-hundred corpses belonging to the undead begin dropping like flies at an ungodly rate, cementing the fact that John’s group is here to settle business.
Finally, Emilio takes his hammer and walks straight towards the final member of the undead horde remaining with a gleam in his eye. As the undead reaches out, Emilio buries the head of the hammer in its mouth, pushing it backwards as a way to gain distance further down the tarmac before finally reaching one of the many collapsed tunnels. Driving the undead into the top support bar of the still somewhat-intact boarding tunnel, Emilio drives force further and further before the head of the corpse in front of him detaches from the remainder of its body and crashes into the ground with a crack.
Turning around, Emilio walks back to his group swinging the hammer in his right hand like a kendo stick with a load of swagger. “Time to clear the air, huh?” Emilio jokes, with John unenthusiastically shaking his head as he heads for the door to the hanger in question. “Bill?” John asks, turning towards the man as he directs himself head-on with the door. After a few deep breaths, Bill lunges forward and lays one swift boot into the door, sending it flying open and crashing into the metal wall beside it with an unpleasing ring.
“Well done!” John jokes before further groaning and growling interrupts him, and from within the dark and well-hidden hanger entry, a flock of the undead begin pouring out of the new opening created. “You know what to do” John says as he and his group stand side by side, backing up slowly as the remaining undead pour out into the tarmac single file. “Showtime!” John shouts as he and his group rush forward to take on the next wave of undead.
Walking through the rundown entry into the hanger, John and his group turn on whatever light sources they have readily available to help illuminate their way. Around corners and through gaps in broken sections of the opening, John leads his group further and further into the unknown. As minutes pass, the group grows more uneasy knowing that each minute passing brings them closer and closer to not being able to get out once again.
However, after a hard battle fought on gutsy instincts most common in people with a deathwish, the group finally enters into the open and spacious hanger, pitch black from the lack of light accessible to it and returning their words to them in an echo. “This it?” Bill asks aloud, walking forward with the rest of the group as they make an attempt to familiarize themselves with the unknown engulfing them. “It’s supposed to be” Katie replies, shining her light around the area just as everyone in her group other than John.
“Watch your step” John says aloud, redirecting each of the group’s light across the ground, where corpse after corpse lay in their final resting place, positioned as if they were all sleeping. “What the fuck happened here?” Bill asks, putting his tongue to the side of his mouth as he and the remainder of his group begin smelling a potent, foul odor worse than that of the undead they encounter on a common basis.
“Oh f-uck, these are fresh” Emilio says, choking on his own heaves for fresh air before finally throwing up on the formerly sleek concrete floor. “Not fresh, but weren’t like this a month ago” Josh says, himself also choking on the stench as Katie kneels down to one, burying her face into her own sleeve. With a glove on her hand, Katie shoves one of the corpses from their side onto their back, where a single bullet to the middle of the forehead is the only thing that looks unusually out of place.
“Execution style” Katie remarks, with Emilio shoving another corpse over with his foot to reveal the same exact thing. One by one, many of the corpses are checked by the group stumbling their way through their burial ground to reveal the same exact thing on every corpse in the hanger. “Every single one of them. Shot in the head, placed on their side, and left to rot” Katie says, her words slightly muffled by the sleeve of her sweater. “This was intentional. They wanted this” John exclaims, looking around the room for a possible cause of this desire.
Walking towards a standalone room near the far side of the hanger, John stumbles around the maze of the dead below him on his way towards an open door. “This is how humanity fell” Katie says aloud, only for her statement to be challenged by Bill. “No. Humanity didn’t fall because of the undead, it fell from the panic that consumed it because of this” Bill says, afterwards waving his flashlight at the ground, bathing each of the undead in their first glimpse of light in weeks before continuing, “And this… This was the answer to knowing that everyone would keep things from going back to what it was now that panic won.”
Disappointed, Katie sinks her head towards the ground before overhearing a voice at the far side of the hanger. “Guys!” John shouts, with his call ringing throughout the hanger like a minor nuclear blast. Instantly, the group begins climbing over the bodies below before joining with John by a desk overseeing the remainder of the hanger. “Look at this” John says, turning to Katie and handing her a folder with a written letter in it.
Squinting her eyes to read it, Katie’s eyes shoot up following the second sentence before beginning to read it aloud.
“It’s not just the bite, it’s anything resulting in death. It’s an airborne plague that will bring anyone back to a fate worse than death that has now encompassed everything. Kill the heart if bit, kill the brain if not. It will only get more complicated. I don’t want to see this any further. I don’t want my daughter to see it either, but I think she’s already become it and I didn’t have the heart to give her mercy. Please forgive me.. Signed, Levi Walters.”
After a few seconds of silence, John hangs his head just before Bill anxiously asks. “Does that mean… we’re…” Bill gets out before getting cut off by John, who simply responds with, “Yes. We’re all gonna turn.”
After a few seconds of panic beginning to swallow the group, now drenching themselves in an understated fear, Emilio speaks up, angered by this. “Bullshit. That’s BULLSHIT! We don’t know that’s true!” Lifting his hand in the air, John allows the group to gain their composure before taking a deep breath and returning to the lead of the group. “Okay. If we don’t know, we have to find out. He said he couldn’t give his daughter mercy, so she must still be around. We’ll find her and check her for bites, and then we’ll know.”
“Where do we start looking?” Katie asks, watching John shrug his shoulders and reply “Find Levi. He’s probably out here somewhere.” Swallowing whatever spit they’ve got forming in their mouths, the group walks back out into the hanger once more, embracing the stench once more than makes it feel as if the air itself was rotting away before looking through bodies.
“Alright. If he’s got a daughter, he might have a wife. Look for a wedding ring, or some art-project jewelry” John shouts, kneeling beside body after body with his group in hopes of finding the original writer of the suicide note.
“Guys!” Bill shouts, kneeling behind a corpse with dog tags wrapped around his neck reading “Walters, Levi” and a wedding ring around the ball chain beside it. “I think we’ve got our guy” Bill shouts, with Emilio taking charge to rummage through his body for anything worth noting. “Ah hah!” Emilio shouts enthusiastically, handing John a card with Levi’s quarters being labeled as “Terminal F.”
“Alright, into the airport we go” John says mockingly, with the remainder of his group shamelessly waving their arms in sarcastic celebration. Tailing just slightly behind, John picks from Levi’s pocket a folded piece of paper, not bothering to open and read it on the spot, but instead opting to tuck it away in his pocket as he runs back to catch up with his people.
Stepping through into the lobby, Emilio leads the way into the airport’s most accessible entrance to the sound of glass cracking beneath the weight of their shoes and the metal supports for the chairs surrounding them to stand on being smacked with the aforementioned flying bits of glass. “This place couldn’t have been abandoned for long” Bill says, moving aside chairs and rubble ahead of the group as the eery silence begins sinking in, taking the place of a usually noisy and chaotic center of people.
“Let’s just hurry up and get this over with, this place is creeping me the hell out” John states to the group as softly as he can before his words are noticed by a member of the undead pinned beneath the front wheels of a cart. Reaching out to the remaining souls belonging to the living, the undead is helpless, watching on as Emilio walks up to it and brings down an axe over its neck, taking its head in an instant and returning the silence over the group once again.
“Down here” Katie exclaims, walking past the rest of the group and further into the airport as those behind her follow. Stopping ahead of a barricaded terminal, John and Emilio slowly remove the fortifications before the final thing remaining between themselves and the truth behind Levi’s warning is a lone door, still unlocked.
Raising his hammer, John begins tapping on the border of the door, waiting for a response until audible groaning begins coming from within. “Alright, Emilio will open the door and I’ll take whatever comes out down. Bill will keep us covered and Katie will check for bites. Got it?” John asks, watching the rest of his group nod as he stands back and awaits whatever comes his way.
Waving his hands with his fingers counting down, Emilio pulls down on the doorknob and pulls the door open, allowing what is kept within to be freed for the first time in however long. After a few moments, the dark entry to the terminal releases nothing, despite the hissing still spilling out into the airport. Confused, John maintains his position, waiting for whatever remains inside to come walking out, only to be met with the same anxious restraint as he was met with before.
“Katie!” John calls out, with the woman tossing him her flashlight before he begins slowly walking forward. From his pocket, John retrieves a knife and holds it to his chest, readied for anything that might make an attempt at surprising him as his other hand holds a flashlight. The hissing, still coming from within the dark room grows angrier, more annoyed the further John gets. After a few short moments, John turns on the flashlight just as he reaches the doorway, pointing it directly at a bed positioned square in the middle of the terminal. Atop the bed, a little girl lays down growling with John square in her sights, but is unable to move as both of her hands are restrained by leather ties on the side of the bed.
“Oh my god” Katie says in a mixture of disgust and horror, watching the small child, no older than eight years old, attempting to fight from her restraints to no success, remaining atop the bed, helpless. On the floor halfway between John and the little girl’s bed lays a glass bottle resting on its side. “John!” Bill whispers as the group’s leader begins slowly walking into the tunnel, being met with a wave as John motions for him to remain calm. Cautiously, John walks over to the bottle on the floor and picks it up, reading its label before dropping his head and wiping away the tears beginning to form in his eyes.
“John?” Katie asks concerningly, watching the man gasp for a breath of air to cover up the tears he is no longer able to hold back from falling from his eyes. “It’s morphine” the man says, still crouched in the center of the tunnel as the remainder of his group just outside expresses their own grief as they piece the events together themselves.
Standing to his feet, John aims the flashlight back at the girl atop the bed, still well restrained as he places his knife back into his pocket and uses his free hand to grab the undead child’s head and push it back to the pillow behind her. Along the girls arm, fainted track marks run up her arm and originate from the center of her inner-elbow, with the mark of a syringe residing right over what would have been her vein.
Taking in another deep breath, John walks to the end of the bed and wheels the girl out of the tunnel and into the light. “It was planned” John says, “They didn’t get overrun… They weren’t attacked… They wanted out and… they took it.”
Walking up to the man with her head still slumped down, Katie places her hand over John’s shoulder as he continues. “He didn’t want to leave her behind, so he took her along with them. But then he ran into an issue.”
Stopping momentarily, John watches Emilio and Bill walk around the other side of the bed before continuing on, wiping tears away from his eyes as he goes along. “She turned without being bit. Levi couldn’t bring himself to put her down, so he locked her in. Made sure no one could find her. After that… Their reasonings for taking themselves out became more justified than before.”
Hanging her head, Katie begins wiping away tears of her own whilst staring out into the distance, comprehending the news. “This is it” John says aloud, with the three people surrounding him turning their focus straight towards the man now slowly retrieving his knife from his pocket once more.
“We’re already dead” John says, finally pulling the blade free as Emilio pushes the little girl’s head back to the pillow once more, refusing to acknowledge the hissing and growling. “I’m sorry this happened to you” John whispers to the girl, lifting his head towards the sky to as not see his actions, holding the knife with both hands and slowly burying it into the little girls head, finally showing her the mercy her father could never afford her.
Pulling it free, John looks at the blade and discards it by throwing it off to the side, no longer wanting to have anything to do with it. Pacing around the room, the group battles with the internal dilemma of knowing their fates have already been sealed without any care for their story’s conclusion, bringing ahead a new understanding of life. Realizing the severity and distressing nature of this realization, Bill looks to change the conversation.
“We should bury her” the man states, only for John to silently shake his head in refusal. “No. We need to leave her for Charlotte” John says, bringing a look of confusion over everyone in the group. Without hesitation, John walks over to the bed and opens up the folded note before resting it over the little girl’s chest, free to anyone to read. “Why would Charlotte care?” Bill asks as John lays the note out.
Without any care, Katie walks over and picks up the note, reading it silently to herself. “What’s this girl mean to Charlotte?” Emilio asks, his confusion more present than Bill’s. “Because” John states, turning around to face the remainder of his crew once again. “The man from back at the New World Order was Charlotte’s brother. His tag read ‘Joseph Orville’ which means that ‘Walters’ is Charlotte’s marital name. That also means that Levi was Charlotte’s husband” John says, walking forward before returning to the bedside of the little girl.
“And this is Charlotte’s daughter.”
Once more, silence overcomes the group as everyone begins placing themselves into a state of disgust just before John says, “And Charlotte’s going to come back here first.”
“We’re letting her out?” Emilio asks with an aura of confusion, with John refusing to respond, simply taking the note gently from Katie and placing it over the little girl’s chest before walking out of the airport and back to the fencing.
Leaving the fencing tied open, John and his group return to their truck and head back towards their camp, disappearing over the hill as the sun begins setting as their truck’s wheels move from well-kept roadways to heavily dirty, almost invisible asphalt.
“Good night” John says, disappearing into the doorway and heading back into the living room of the camp’s house, walking slowly up to Charlotte, who is left curled up in the corner with her hands still tightly restrained. “Get what you were looking for, cowboy?” Charlotte asks, trying to keep some appearance of her former confidence intact. Despite expecting to be reamed once again, Charlotte takes concern inside as she watches John remain silent before taking a seat on the floor beside her.
“Gonna kill me now and get it over with or what?” Charlotte asks, gaining a sort of chuckle out of John, confusing her as his manner takes a massive turn from the night prior. After a few short moments of silence, John mutters, under his breath, “I get it now.”
With a brief chuckle, partially out of fear, but mostly out of humor, Charlotte turns towards the man and asks, “What is it you think you get?” Turning to the fire place,John pulls out a small pocket knife from a loose floor board and plays with it in his hands. “You’re not evil” John replies, tilting his head to face the woman, now fully confused as she and John lock eyes, keeping their focus glued to each other.
“What makes you say that?” Charlotte asks, watching as John responds, “Because we’re very much alike.”
“Explain” Charlotte says, fully invested in John’s explanation. “We’re just trying to survive. Make the most out of this world. Give our families the best lives they can ask for” John says, watching Charlotte’s eyes sink as he reaches the second portion of his statement. “What did you find there?” Charlotte asks, only to double down, “At the base, what did you find?”
Dropping his head to the ground, John remains silent before turning his body to face Charlotte completely. “John” Charlotte asks, watching the man lift his head into the air, “Please. Tell me what you saw” Charlotte pleads, her eyes weltering with tears as the anxiety begins overwhelming her. With her eyes locked onto the man ahead of her, she watches John begin tearing up himself and shaking his head from one side to the other.
“John. Please” Charlotte says once more, challenging the world to tear the only line of rope she has left to hold onto. “I’m sorry, Charlotte” John says, watching the woman shake her head in response to, now challenging herself to deny the truth from being as such.
“The undead. They were all over the tarmac. They… they shot themselves in the tarmac” John says, joining Charlotte in a moment of sorrow. Faintly, Charlotte says her husbands name, watching John nod his head silently, unable to respond with even one word. “And…” Charlotte says, her sadness unable to allow her to mutter anything further before John nods his head, this time whilst aiming it straight downward, the tears from his eyes falling to the floor from the tip of his nose.
“I’m so sorry” John says, with the woman, still slumped into the corner openly sobbing at the information presented to her. After a couple minutes of crying, the tears stop flowing and silence ensues once more. As both begin attempting to regain their composure, John hears Charlotte request one thing under her breath, her breathing difficult to come by due to the crying.
“Just kill me already” Charlotte requests, prompting John to raise his head up, noticing the woman resting against the wall, ready to welcome death to take her too. After a few moments of pandering his next approach, John seems to resort to acceptance, flicking the blade up from the knife in his hands as he slowly raises it to Charlotte.
Defeated and about as good as dead itself in her own eyes, Charlotte holds her head against the wall and takes what she welcomes as her final breath, only for her next breath to come after the sound of ripping and tearing. Her next breaths follow suit before the ripping and tearing come to ahead, and her hands drop freely into her lap, freed from the restraint of the ropes now dropped to the ground.
“Why?” Charlotte asks, almost disappointed in the outcome of being free, watching as John shakes his head and tucks the blade back into its compartment. “Because you’ve got to keep fighting” John replies, watching the look on puzzlement overcoming Charlotte’s face. “I was alone when this all started. My wife was too far away for me to realistically get to her and my little girl was nowhere to be found. I was lost, but I had to survive” John says, watching Charlotte shakes her head in refusal.
“I had something to hope for, I know that’s a big difference. But this world welcomes loss far more often than the old one did. It’s a challenge… A challenge issued by the world to test your will to survive. And that’s exactly what you need to do” John says, watching the woman turn her head back to the man ahead of her. “I don’t deserve to live” Charlotte replies, “I’ve done too many bad things to have any right.”
Leaning forward, John looks at Charlotte and hands her the pocket knife, looking her right in the eyes before responding, “We’ve all done bad.”
Season Three Premiere
In the midst of a rain storm, thunder rips through the air as branches and debris are sent flying through the air in violent gusts of wind. At the end of a gravel-finished road lies a house, damaged from the elements of mother nature and having taken a beating from the fauna and plant life around it. Shattered windows, a broken front gate and nothing more than a screen door separating the inside from that of what’s on the outside, the house lays low and out of sight. Walking along the road just at the opposite end of it’s stone-pebble passageway, two monsters mind their own business heading into town.
Suddenly, the roaring sound of a piece of metal crashing to the ground emanates from the less-than-suitable house and captures their attention. Turning their direction, the undead freaks begin fighting the wind, a natural barrier towards their next hunt, struggling to climb forward. One monster finds more success than the other, breaking further away in pursuit.
Growling as they fight, reaching out in starvation, both monsters continue fighting forward before the one in the back is taken down. Tripping over a loose stone still-embed into the ground. Despite the hurdle, the monster reaches his hands towards the ground and starts another attempt to climb back to his feet, only for his head to be removed from his body with the swift rip through the air of a fire axe through its neck.
Dressed in a black rubber hood, the axe-wielding figure pushes forward, kicking the separated head into the yard like a soccer ball whilst dragging the axe along the gravel, ringing an unpleasant sound loud enough to draw the monster in its direction. Turning around, the monster finds its next meal in full view as it fights back, this time with the wind, in the direction in which it came before a gunshot rings through the air in association with the wind, sending a bullet straight into the heart of the final remaining monster, taking it to the ground as it collapses to the feet of the figure ahead of it.
Walking forward, the figure lifts the axe over its shoulder and makes for the house, with the wind dying down around it. Step by step, the figure marches on before placing its hand on the handle of the screen door before pausing for a moment to take in a breath of fresh air, with the water dripping down it’s hood as it turns its head around towards the broken gate.
Smirking to himself, John Callis removes his hood and pulls open the door, disappearing into the dark interior with it and dropping his axe to the side of the door.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Soaked from head to toe, John walks back to the center of the room and takes a seat nearest to the corner. Joining her husband, Jessica places her rifle beside her. “Took you long enough” the woman says, kissing her husband on the cheek before taking a seat beside him.
“Find anything?” Emilio asks, sitting beside Bill at the end of the room as he widdles the end of a stick. From a bag in his hand, John tosses a bag of chips over to the pre-occupied man and his husband before doing the same with the rest of the group around him.
“Onion rings that aren’t actually onion rings” Troy says with a sarcastic enthusiasm, “You get me so well.”
“He gets you until there aren’t any other vending machines to scavenge” Janice says, catching a bag of Doritos with one hand whilst not looking at the plastic flying into her direction.
“Any other plans we haven’t gone over yet?” Lauren asks from the center of the room in Janice’s direction, watching the woman place her bag to her side and stare off at the window without a response.
“Listen guys, we’re all aggravated. Okay? It hasn’t been easy” John says, commanding the attention of the group. “I’m not going to lie, giving up feels like a much more appealing choice every day. But that’s not what surviving looks like.”
Sitting at the end of the room, Katie catches a bag of Cheetos, and Meghan catches a granola bar near her. Alicia and Franklin catch flying bags of Oreo snack packs as the former rests her head on the latter’s shoulder.
Near the center of the room, Salem catches a pack of Ritz and Tyler and Jack both catch a packet of gummy snacks.
“It’s not thriving either, but let’s not get it twisted. We can’t thrive until we’ve figured out how to properly survive, and that’s gonna take some effort” The man says, handing his wife and his daughter a plastic bowl of Cheerios.
“The world’s a tough place, and it’s only going to get tougher” John says, chucking a packet of barbecue flavored potato chips across the room like a football into the hands of both Heather and Cameron.
“We’ve lost people. And if history is anything to be understood, you better believe that we’re going to lose more.”
John throws one final bag of chips into the lap of Bill before resting his arms out against the top of his knee beside his wife and child.
“But make no mistake about this” John says, pointing his finger to the ground as the group all sits beside a burning fire, eyes locked directly onto him. “We were made strong enough to get over it all. And that’s exactly what we need to do to turn surviving... into thriving.”
Sending embers into the chimney walls above, the fire crackles with the air, mixing in a calming allure with the anxiety-driving thunder roaring into the air. Suddenly, a new mixture of a noise accommodates the ripping of thunder.
Slow clapping. Almost sarcastic in nature, and somewhat faint in a way as if the hands being pressed together didn’t have much room to work with. Off at the end of the room, the group directs their attention to a pair of hands tied together with rope restrained to a rundown metal pipe close to the floor.
“Well said, cowboy” Charlotte says, chuckling to herself as John rolls his eyes before pushing them in the direction of the annoying blonde unable to stop talking. “You’re turning into a real natural leader!” the woman says mockingly, almost hiding a laughter at John’s attempt to take a stand.
Almost prepared, the group collectively turns their attention away from the woman restrained as their prisoner so as not to give her the attention that she craves. “Oh, what? No one wanting a little bit of fun?” Charlotte asks, being met with complete silence. “No one wanting to poke fun at the woman unable to defend herself?” Charlotte asks again, with each member of the group continuing to ignore her.
“Hey cowboy, can I ask you something?” Charlotte says, turning her attention to the man, who turns his aggravated frown into a smirk. “I don’t think so, blondie. You’ve got to earn the right to ask a question.”
Now rolling her own eyes, Charlotte nods and bites her lip. “Alright, pull that card. I probably deserve it” Charlotte responds, “Can I at least get my share of the loot?”
Raising a soda can to his lips, John looks forward at the rest of the group before responding. “I’m sure you can when you tell us what we want to hear.”
Sighing at this answer, Charlotte begins to get annoyed herself. “I’ve already told you as much as I know” Charlotte responds, almost instantly being met with a response of John’s own. “Telling us that the rest of your men have fallen to the outbreak by now does not constitute telling us all that you know, so when you want to do that, you’ll get fed.”
This response, said with stern confidence, silences Charlotte, who remains restrained and now devalued. Under her breath, the woman responds to John’s demand in a near-whisper, “Kill my brother and starve me, makes you look real good.”
Angered, John hurls his soda at the wall, crushing it and spraying the drink from inside it upon impact, John throws himself to his feet and removes a knife from his pocket before kneeling before Charlotte and placing the blade to her throat as select members of the group hurry after him to stop whatever action may be on the verge of ensuing.
“Makes me look good!? You don’t have the slightest clue about what it means to be good you bitch!” John screams, spit hanging from his lip as the look of being devoid of composure speaks like fury through his eyes, throwing daggers at Charlotte with each passing glance.
“You got Shauna killed! YOU caused Reggie to run off, and you’re lucky we don’t let Janice put a blade at your neck, because she might not be as composed as I am when it comes to you!” Demoralized, Charlotte begins sinking to the floor, humiliated and trying to avoid eye contact.
“You burned the New World Order to the ground, and I will be damned if I keep playing this cat and mouse game with you when the lives of my family and my friends are at stake! Speak or starve, bitch!” John shouts, with Charlotte now tucked away in the corner as John slowly lowers the blade from her throat, placing it back into the holder on his belt as he brushes off Emilio and Troy on his way back to his family.
Off at the end of the room, Heather looks on at Charlotte with lowered eyebrows, feeling somewhat sorry for the woman so confident and usually strong, though in the worst of ways, resigned to total and complete silence.
That silence continues to surround the room, with each member of the group looking at whatever catches their eyes to avoid any further discussion that could lead to another outburst. Suddenly, breaking the silence, the voice tucked away in the corner speaks up yet again.
Stopping his hand in the middle of the air as he was about to lift a chip to his mouth, John turns his focus back to Charlotte.
“Stewart Air National Guard Base. That’s where the rest of my group is” Charlotte says, still with her eyes glued to her feet with her arms tucked together. “That’s about a forty minute drive, John” Cameron says, “We can clear that down by the morning once this storm passes.”
Taking his eyes from Cameron to Charlotte, John pauses for a moment before calling out four names. “Cameron, Emilio, Bill, Katie” John says, “You’ll come with me once this storm settles and we’ll check to see what is or used to be there. The rest of you, lay low and try not to get yourselves killed.”
Returning to his food, John continues eating with his family before the faint voice calls out again. “Food?” Charlotte asks, with John removing a package of crackers from his bag and placing them to the ground. Lifting his hand, John punches the crackers, shattering them into what is mostly dust before sliding them along the hardwood to Charlotte, who joins the rest of the group in eating dinner.
In the middle of the night, lightning starts singing through the sky, keeping everyone awake. Despite being kept awake, not a single person shows this to be true, simply pretending to sleep despite everyone knowing that there is not a soul that is.
Resting together, Franklin cradles Alicia as the thunder and lightning continue to pour shots throughout the air. “Can you believe they find ways to make this kind of thing romantic in movies?” Franklin whispers, with Alicia shaking her head in response. “Could have fooled me” Alicia jokes, holding Franklin closer before the pair watch Salem stand from her sleeping bag and walk out of the house.
Walking down the front steps, Salem brandishes the axe in her hand as she begins walking through the treeline still waving in the harsh gusts of wind as the sky is lit by the almost consistent pops of lightning. Wandering aimlessly through the dirt pathway. Salem spots one tree for no specific reason and begins taking the axe to it, burying it into the core of the soon-to-be firewood over and over again before the long, skinny husk of its former self crashes into the ground.
Through the roaring shots of the heavens taking its disappointment out on the world, Salem can hear the growling of monsters looming in the area. Through the dark forest, the brief spurts of lightning illuminate the woods well enough for the woman to eventually spot herself surrounded by close to twenty members of the undead walking amongst her. In a fit of rage, Salem brandishes the axe and begins going to town, the lightning creating enough light in the woods to perfectly display Salem’s quick ability to remove heads from bodies as if she had been doing it her entire life.
After a few moments, Salem finds herself alone in the forest, surrounded by the bodies of the now, fully dead to the soundtrack of thuds and bangs from nature’s therapy session taking place in the sky.
“Salem” a voice calls out from near, causing the axe-wielding woman to turn her attention back towards the way in which she came to see both Alicia and Cameron walking towards her.
“You see, when John told us not to get killed while he was out tomorrow, that wasn’t supposed to mean get the experience out of the way before then” Franklin says humorously, earning an elbow to the side from his girlfriend.
“What’s going on, Salem?” Alicia asks, walking up to the woman now dropping the head of the axe into the softened dirt below. “Ever since we got ourselves off the road, you’ve been distant” Alicia says, putting her hand on Salem’s shoulder.
“I don’t belong here. I’m a stranger that doesn’t fit in with all of your friends here. I’m the outcast, and it’s a little annoying to be reminder of that every day” Salem responds, tired and fixated on getting the tree up in her arms and back to camp.
“You’re not any less a part of this group just because you didn’t know us before all this shit went down” Franklin responds, only to be cut off by the woman, sturdy to her opinion. “That’s absolutely how this works! The only reason Franklin, Emilio and Bill are here is because they helped you guys save John. I was just brought along on the ride out of necessity. I didn’t save anyone, no one owes me their lives. I’m just another mouth to feed” Salem responds, only to be met with silence as Alicia and Franklin question how to proceed.
Alicia takes the step forward, walking towards Salem before assuring her of her status. “You’re a reliable commodity, Salem. We can depend on you to do what needs to be done. And on top of that, we can trust you, which is clearly not something easy to come by now.”
As Franklin and Alicia both take position beside the downed tree and begin lifting it into the air to assist Salem in returning it to camp, Alicia turns her heads back towards the woman and concludes. “You’re more important than anyone we can come across in this world just by being here. Don’t sell yourself short” Alicia says, earning a slight smile from Salem as the three carry the giant wooden log back to the campsite.
Clearing up and settling down just as dawn rises, the sky remains cloudy and bleak, but light enough to allow for as safe of a pass through the post-apocalyptic, run-down roadways as one can be afforded in this world. Chucking bags of weaponry and ammunition into the back of the truck, John and Emilio take the front seat as Bill and Katie share the back.
“Don’t be gone long” Jessica says, walking alongside her husband as they finally reach the front of the vehicle. Picking his daughter up, John gives Amy a kiss on the cheek before telling her to take care of Jessica. “If we’re not back by sundown, start getting ready to head East” John replies to his wife, being met with “I know the drill. They do too” as she takes Amy into her arms.
“Say ‘bye’ daddy” Jessica says, enthusiastically to her daughter as Amy waves in John’s direction, the pair both watching him start up the truck and drive off west. “What do you think they’re gonna find out there?” Meghan asks, walking down from the house towards Jess. “I have no idea” The woman responds, watching the truck disappear over the hill, kicking up dirt on its way.
Finally taking her place next to Jess, Meghan looks on at the road, noticing Jessica’s worry written on her face like an advertisement.
“You don’t trust her, do you?” Meghan asks, tucking her hands into her pockets, watching Jessica’s expression remain unchanged. “Not even a little bit” Jessica responds, turning back towards the house before handing Amy off to Alicia and Franklin as they return her to the house.
Turning over to a shed nearest the treeline, Jessica walks over to Troy, currently in the middle of reloading the clips of the group’s heavier firearms. “Troy, ole’ reliable” Jessica says, “Think you can do me a favor?” the woman asks, with Troy leaning back against a tree. “I suppose I can spare an hour or two” Troy responds with a smile, reaching out to take a piece of paper from Jessica, glancing it over for a moment before folding it and placing it into his pocket.
“I’ll take care of it” Troy says, standing from his seat before calling over to Jack to continue loading the guns. “You can take Tyler” Jessica replies, “You’ll need someone to cover your back.”
“Sure thing, we’ll head out within the next fifteen” Troy replies, heading off to the house as Jessica pats him on the back. “Look at you, commander!” Meghan says jokingly, bringing a smile to Jessica’s face. “It’s all fun and games until the hard decisions need to be made” Jessica replies, with Meghan silently nodding in agreement.
“What’re you sending Troy and Tyler out for?” Meghan asks, walking alongside Jessica as she begins heading to the backyard of the house. “Stuff to fix the front gates, whatever remains will help us reinforce any entrances” The blonde says, continuing forward as her sister stares at her in confusion. “I thought we weren’t planning on staying long” Meghan says, watching as her sister turns towards her and shrugs. “We don’t have to head back out onto the road just because John doesn’t want to stay.”
“Jess, John’s been stating the plan out for weeks now” Meghan replies, only to be cut off as Jessica takes the conversation to a sharp turn. “John doesn’t have the final say. And regardless of what he wants, we can’t just keep running from our problems.”
Still walking in silence, Jessica grabs a hold of an axe resting against the base of a tree stump and begins chopping away at soon-to-be firewood. “Listen, Meghan. I don’t want to argue about things unless there’s a reason to… And even if John thinks running is the answer, it will kill us in the long run” Jessica says, bringing down the axe with enough force to not only cut through the wood like butter, but imbed the blade into the stump it stands on.
“I get it, Jess. I do. But he has a good point” Meghan says, watching as her sister continues to chop away. “I know we can’t keep running, but we have to find some place far enough away from danger” The brunette says as Jessica pauses for a moment to turn towards her. “Meg, look around you” Jessica says, “Undead cannibals have taken down civilization. Nowhere is safe, danger is all around us.”
Lifting the axe into the air once more, Jessica brings it down with authority, sending both ends of the wood flying off of the stump. “Rather than running from it” Jessica says, turning back towards her sister and throwing her hair into a ponytail, “We need to start refusing to let it scare us away from every good thing we come across.”
Turning around once more, Jessica returns to her work as Meghan walks off, heading back for the front yard, stopping for a moment to turn around and take a glance back at her sister, continuing about her day before moving on with her own.
In the middle of the living room, Heather sits on the ground, surrounded by guns and ammunition, keeping a log of what remains and how much of it is left. Jotting down numbers and letter-based codes accordingly, Heather sits solely focused on the task at hand before a voice calls out, interrupting her.
“Do you prefer this over going out on tasks?” Charlotte asks, still slumped in the corner, and still tied to the radiator. Despite the interruption, Heather returns to her work, not acknowledging Charlotte in any capacity.
“Okay” Charlotte says, sort of under her breath before returning to silence as she rests her head against the chipped paint-covered walls. Without further interruption, Heather continues with her work for a few more moments before stopping once more. Looking up from the weaponry and notebook, Heather watches a defeated Charlotte silent in the corner, like a child in timeout.
Opening her mouth, Heather goes to say something, only to think twice and stay quiet, returning to her work. After a few more moments of writing, Heather pauses again, this time not giving herself the chance to think twice, and opting to speak instead. “Is this where you wanted to be?” Heather asks, prompting Charlotte to slowly turn her head towards the woman, looking at her through guilt-ridden eyes.
“Seriously. I’m seriously asking. Was this what you wanted to have happen?” Heather asks once again, only managing to get a subtle “no” in response. “Then what was the end goal?” Heather asks, now growing more curious towards an answer than before. “What was the whole goal at the end supposed to be for you, Charlotte?”
After a few moments to adjusting herself to sit up, Charlotte takes a moment to think before looking at Heather. “I guess… There really... wasn’t... one” Charlotte replies, with Heather shaking her head and grinning in disappointment before returning to her work. “Well what do you want me to say?” Charlotte asks, earning Heather’s attention back as she continues. “Do you want me to say that this whole thing was planned? That I wanted to rule the world with an iron-fucking-fist? No, that’s not what I wanted!” Charlotte responds, only to be cut off by Heather immediately, who cuts back like a blade across flesh. “Then why take everything away from people like us, huh? Why kill our friends and our family? Why take our lives away from us for no reason, Charlotte? Why? Seriously, fucking why?” Heather asks, shouting the questions at Charlotte, breaking her further down before her voice is rendered soft and brutalized once more.
“I don’t know” Charlotte says, soft and poignant before the woman sinks back into her corner. Baffled at the response, assuming it to be the truthful answer, Heather just shakes her head in annoyance before returning to her work. After a few more moments, Charlotte speaks up again, earning half of Heather’s attention this time, with the hairs of the woman falling down as she buries herself back into her notebook.
“We had a leader” Charlotte says, getting Heather to push her eyes up, over the lip of the notebook and back in the direction of the restrained. “Marcus. He was in charge of us” Charlotte says, with Heather brushing it off, telling Charlotte that the military doesn’t lead by one person alone.
After a few further moments of silence, Charlotte swallows her pride and answers Heather, “We weren’t the military.”
Confused by this revelation, Heather looks up with underlying anger fully visible in her eyes. “What?” Heather asks, somewhat under her breath as Charlotte continues further. “We’re private military. We’re not the U.S Military” Charlotte says as Heather slowly begins standing to her feet. “What are you talking about?” Heather asks as she begins slowly walking towards Charlotte, ultimately crouching down in front of her before telling her to spill everything.
“This whole thing’s gonna be a bitch when we start running out of gasoline” Troy shouts over the back of the truck to Tyler as they begin walking towards the entrance of the lumber depot. “Let’s find some place more permanent before that happens then” Tyler replies as both men arm themselves with a small firearm and long blades.
“You ever think about leaving the group and heading out on your own?” Tyler asks, with Troy shaking his head in direct opposition to the burning sun just above. “I’m not stumbling across a farm any time soon… But if it comes down to it, I’ll leave if I need to” Troy replies as he walks over to grab a carriage, with Tyler taking the responsibility of using his blade to shatter one of the windows on the prior-functional automatic doors.
From within, Tyler overhears growling from additional members of the undead and is sure to alert Troy, who walks up to Tyler and begins whistling whilst he taps on the metal bar, sending the ringing sounds to echo throughout the massive depot center.
Backing away from the doors, Troy utters “Showtime” before pulling out a crowbar from his belt loop, backing away as Tyler stands out of sight with members of the undead stepping up to be put down one by one until the small pile of undead are left laying at Troy’s feet. “You’re certainly getting better at that” Tyler says sarcastically as Troy shrugs and elbows Tyler in the arm before the two make their way into the depot.
“Y’know, if you do ever plan on leaving, you should start heading for the coast” Tyler says with assurance, causing Troy to turn towards him with intrigue. “The coast?” Troy says again, “The coast, my friend” Tyler replies with confidence. “Why the coast?” Troy asks, watching as the man beside him starts using his hands to present him a story. “It’s the northeast. It’s warmer on the coast during the winter, it’s one side to worry about the undead coming from, and it’s perfect for a getaway with the proper tools if it comes down to that.”
Intrigued by the final factor, Troy tilts his head as he thinks over before asking, “You mean turning to live at sea?” With a smile, Tyler admits to the faults in the idea. “Perhaps it’s not the perfect solution. You only have as much food as you board with and I’m sure other people have already had this idea.” Shaking his head, Troy feels Tyler nudges his arm before turning towards him and hearing him out the remainder of the way. “But if there’s anything you don’t have to worry about, it’s the undead.”
Not much for the idea, but interested in the concept nonetheless, Troy continues down the aisles, pulling off slabs of wood and whatever possible weaponry remains untaken, the two are brought to a stop when they hear something heavy and dense crash to the floor with a thud. Ringing throughout the center, the metal blares through the air as perhaps the only thing more unpleasant than nails on a chalk board, finally slowing down to a silence in the slowest way.
After a few moments, stranded in the center of one of the middle-most aisles, the sound of a chain dropping to the ground with emphasis is followed by the sound of a pact of growling undead marching towards the noise. After a few moments, the growling of the undead continues to increase, sounding louder and more noticeable before both men find themselves trapped within the aisle, as hordes walk by on either end.
“We’ve got company” Troy says aloud, breaking out his crowbar as Tyler unleashes a large machete, standing there for a few more moments before a small amount of the undead begin noticing and walking their way, bringing the rest of the hodes with them. The aisle begins closing in, as Troy and Tyler begin finding themselves in the center of a space that becomes much more claustrophobic with each passing second.
“We’re not gonna fight our way out of this!” Tyler shouts towards Troy, with the latter looking around the available space for a solution. Following a few seconds, Troy taps Tyler on the arm and points up towards the sky, directing him to start climbing the shelving. Both men begin pulling themselves up, pressing their skin down to the bone on the rough, cold metal bars in hopes of evading the undead. Troy climbs up to the second shelf as Tyler finds himself on the edge, barely being stopped as two undead grab onto his leg.
Trying to lift himself up, the grip in Tyler’s hand gives out, allowing him to be dragged over the edge and into the clutches of the undead before the scraped and bloodied hand is caught at the twilight second by Troy, who uses all that he can to pull Tyler back over onto the side of the living. On either side of the shelving, Troy and Tyler are surrounded by the undead.
“How does the coast sound right now?” Tyler asks, with Troy turning his head towards the man beside him before shaking his head and returning his attention to the wall of undead surrounding them.
With a bag of minimal supplies with her, Janice walks through the front door of the house like a bat out of hell on her way towards the front gate. Without a single word, and without any further detail as to where she’s going, she prepares to sneak away from the home leaving behind nothing more than a letter stating her apology for leaving. Before she can walk her way into associate-less freedom, she hears her name called out from the side of the house.
“Janice?” the voice calls out, stopping the woman in her tracks with a sigh of annoyance as she slowly turns back. “Where are you going?” Cameron asks, with his jog towards her slowing into a walk as he grows closer. Soon after, Jessica and Jack join in, walking after the woman clearly looking as if she was heading out for good.
“You’re leaving?” Cameron asks, not yet knowing the answer, but assuming such from her look. “Yeah” Janice replies, fixing the strap on her shoulder, “I’m leaving.” Looking her up and down, Cameron is left without words as Jessica walks into her field of view. “Why?” the woman asks, watching as Janice’s expression grows from one of annoyance to one of aggravation.
“‘Cause you’re making me share space with the woman that killed my son. Giving her the same amount of food that we get, the same amount of shelter that we get. That’s why” Janice says, calling the concept bullshit. “She should have been dead a long time ago and you know that!” Janice says, pointing that statement singularly at Jessica.
“She knows things that we don’t” Jessica replies, trying to add credence to the decision, with this being the best that she can come up with. “Really?” Janice asks, with many emotions being obviously present, however, the most notable being disgust as she walks up to the woman. “You know full well you’d have cut her up into pieces if she harmed a hair on your daughters head, you hypocrite.”
Opening her mouth to argue against the claim, Jessica finds herself silenced, resorting to the knowledge that what Janice is speaking is truth and not just emotion-filled hatred. “I mean what I say, Jess. If you won’t let me kill her, then I don’t want to be here” Janice says, turning her back to the group and marching forward. As she reaches out to grab the gate, Heather bursts through the front door of the home, shouting to the portions of the camp that can hear her, “GUYS!”
Turning towards the woman, the group watches on as the remaining members surround Heather, noticing the importance. Without hesitation, Heather looks everyone up and down before looking Jess dead in the eyes.
“You need to hear something about Charlotte.”
“What the hell do we do now?” Troy shouts, he and Tyler still surrounded by the undead as the man to his side begins walking into the small gap between shelves. “What the hell are you doing?” Troy shouts, watching Tyler proportion his body to be able to climb up through the gap further up the scaffold-like shelving. “You coming or what?” Tyler asks, looking down to Troy and smiling before continuing his climb, with Troy following suit soon after.
Mid-climb, the weight of the undead shoving their force on each end of the shelving becomes more apparent, as the structure keeping them on the side of life rather than death begins swaying like a branch in the wind. Pushing and pulling, the duo finally climb to the very top of the shelving, just beneath a skylight directly overhead.
Helping Troy to his feet, Tyler looks around the depot before noticing the light just above. “How many bullets do you have in that gun?” Tyler asks, pointing towards the firearm in Troy’s hand. “A full clip” Troy responds, watching as the man beside him points his fingers towards the skylight with his hand taking the shape of a gun. “You know what to do, Troy” Tyler says, suddenly pushing his arms out in accordance with Troy as the shelving below begins swaying even more noticeably now.
“Cover your ears” Troy shouts as he and Tyler tuck their heads into their shoulders just before Troy lets a bullet fly from the barrel, shattering the glass pane above. Just as the gunshot rings out, the swaying of the shelving becomes more apparent, violent enough for the structure to tip over at any moment.
“Okay, you first” Tyler says, pointing at the gap in the sky as Troy shrugs and hands Tyler his weaponry. “If things go wrong, make sure you’ve got two bullets left in the clip, got it?” Troy asks, with Tyler nodding. Walking over to a large woode crate wrapped to hell and back with plastic wrap, Troy climbs onto the structure and leaps towards the skylight after taking a breath, grabbing onto the metal framing before pulling himself up and through.
“Alright! Give me your hand!” Troy shouts, watching as Tyler walks forward just as the shelving begins to start tipping dangerously, causing him to place his hands back out, grabbing onto the edge of the shelving as the remainder of his body begins sliding off the opposite end.
“Tyler! It’s now or never!” Troy shouts, watching Tyler stand back to his feet, trying to counteract the shifting of the heavy metal shelving below him long enough to grab Troy’s hand. Standing fully to his feet, Tyler cautiously walks forward, hand extended outwards before the loud noise of buckling from below begins ringing out like an alarm. Fear draped across his face like a style of facial hair, Tyler reaches out one final time before Troy’s hand grows farther away from the place in which he stands.
Feeling the ground below him grow unbalanced, Tyler watches Troy grow further distant before collapsing to the surface of the top shelf as it crashes into the shelf behind it. One by one, shelf by shelf, Tyler finds himself caught in the crosshairs of the domino effect before crashing to a stand still as his back wraps around the metal shelving system behind it like a jump rope over a hook.
“TYLER!” Troy shouts from the skylight, watching the horde of the undead on the side untouched by the cascade of falling shelves begin climbing their way towards a heavily injured Tyler, struggling to even find enough power to make it to his feet.
Watching the undead, Troy turns to the other side of the skylight in hopes of getting a better look at Tyler, but noticing the falling shelves continuing to collapse around the depot, turning with the layout before inevitably coming back around. “Tyler!” Troy shouts again, watching his friend halt the grimacing before fighting his way to his feet and pulling free the machete from his belt loop.
Staggering forward, Tyler groans as he lifts the machete into the air and brings it swinging down onto one of the undead, dropping into the whatever ground if left beneath it to break its fall. As another member of the undead approaches, Tyler takes a moment to notice the shelving coming back around, looping amongst itself before raining down another swing and taking out another undead. Watching the horde stumble over the artificial barricades, Tyler simply staggers backwards to his landing spot before listening into the crashing metal out of his line of sight.
As the undead still march their way forward, Tyler places his machete back into his belt loop and takes a seat against one of the capsized shelves, watching the undead climb the mountain of twisted metal as the thunderous sounds grow closer and closer. Catching his breath, Tyler continues watching as the final remaining shelf comes crashing down, crushing the horde of undead beneath it and solving his more immediate problem outright.
“Hey Troy?” Tyler shouts, looking down to tend to his ribs, still sore from taking the afterblow of the impact. “Yeah, Tyler?” Troy shouts from atop, hanging his head towards the ground, glad to know that the chaos is over. “Know any places along the coast?” Tyler asks, bringing Troy to laughter as Tyler bows his head down. Once he picks his head back up, he watches the brief glimpse of a bullet fly past his eyes as a gunshot rings throughout the depot.
Throwing himself forward, Tyler hides between the open shelves, holding himself amidst them as the face of one of the undead pinned beneath begins biting in his direction. “HEY!” Troy shouts from the skylight just as a bullet grazes the metal support columns around it, sending him away from the gaping hole in the ceiling for cover.
Listening to the events around, Tyler hears the resounding footsteps taking the brunt of the concrete below storm out of the front doors. “Troy!” Tyler shouts, “He’s heading out through the front!”
Lifting himself to his feet, Troy races towards the lip of the roof, rushing towards the front where he watches a man draped in a black rain coat hop into their flatbed. “Fuck it!” Troy says to himself, taking a few steps back before rushing over the edge of the roof, flying through the air for what felt like ages before dropping onto the figure below, slamming the bed of the truck into the ground with enough force to blow out the supports of the vehicle’s back tires.
Without hesitation, the figure lays in a shot between Troy’s eyes, knocking him halfway in and out of consciousness before climbing over the lip of the truck and making a break for the front seat. Shutting the door behind him, the figure puts the keys into the ignition and starts up the truck before two gunshots break through the back window and come out of the other side of the figure’s head, throwing his skull forward into the steering wheel.
“Troy, you good?” Tyler asks, watching Troy, unable to get a word out as he tries catching his breath, give him a thumbs up in response. Walking over to the front of the truck, Tyler pulls open the front door and watches the figure’s body drop dead onto the ground, with one leg remaining draped over the lift.
Not recognizing the person, Tyler begins rummaging through his pockets in hopes of finding something to identify him to no avail. “The body’s not even cold yet, Tyler. Don’t you think it’s a little early to be looting his corpse?” Troy asks, catching his breath as he pulls himself out of the bed of the truck. “I just killed a man, Troy. The best I can do is find out who he was” Tyler responds, pulling his wallet free from his back pocket before finding nothing more of interest.
“Well? How’s your search going?” Troy asks, leaning against the back of the truck as Tyler keeps digging. “I’ve got a paper with an address and a stick of gum” Tyler responds, turning his head back to face the man behind him. “Not fruitful” Tyler says, pulling himself to his feet. Looking towards the ground, Tyler sees a piece of metal along the back axel of the car resting across the ground. “Oh shit” Tyler says, with Troy exclaiming that the car’s busted in frustration.
After a few moments of standing around, Tyler looks over to Troy and tells him to start getting ready to walk. Both men grab their belongings from the back of the truck and begin making their way back to the camp before Tyler turns around to do one final thing. Walking over to the man, Tyler places his legs together and puts his arms across his chest, one over the other before rushing back to Troy and making for camp before it gets dark out.
As the sun fades on an informative day, the headlights of a truck begin appearing over the horizon of the road just ahead of the group’s house, pulling up right outside of the front gates. From the front steps, the group, spearheaded by Jessica, quickly dash towards the truck to greet their friends and family. Emerging from the vehicle are all four members of the group having left earlier, led by John, who is caught in his wife’s arms just after emerging from the vehicle.
“What happened?” jess asks after pulling away from her husband’s chest, though still remaining tucked in his arms. “Nothing. Place was ransacked, overrun by undead. Nothing to take note of” John responds, taking his wife by the side and picking Amy up into his arms, carrying her alongside his wife. “John” Jessica says, pulling his face towards hers, “Janice left.”
“What?” John asks, being met with Jessica responding, “She couldn’t stay any longer without wanting to put a bullet in Charlotte, so she left.” Slowing his pace, John and Jessica walk over to an area with the remainder of the group off to the side of the front yard. “Alright everyone, listen up” Jessica shouts, gaining everyone’s attention front and center. Within the group, Troy and Tyler have their wounds tended to by Meghan and Lauren respectively, having returned earlier in the day.
“John, tell us what you found at the base” Jessica says, turning towards her husband, who places Amy onto the ground and lets her run off to her aunt. Before saying anything, John looks at Katie, who responds by turning her attention to the ground below. Furthermore, John turns his head towards Emilio and Bill, who look at him with concern, more closely resembling the nervous kind.
“The place was overrun with the undead. We didn’t meet anyone with any information that could help us, and we don’t know what’s going to be coming our way” John says, confidently, turning back towards Katie, who frowns in disappointment before unscrewing the cap from a bottle of vodka and beginning to take large swigs.
“Well” a voice from the middle of the camp calls out, earning the attention of those that weren’t present earlier. “It doesn’t seem like we’ll have to” the voice says, with Heather standing to her feet. Clearing her throat as Troy and Tyler look up, with John’s group taking equal intrigue, Heather clears the air. “It seems that Charlotte’s group was rogue from her official station. And to add to that, her station wasn’t country-wide military, but instead, private military.”
Despite Troy and Tyler looking surprised, no one from John’s initial search group bats an eyelash at even being remotely surprised. “Which means we can kill her now, right?” Jack asks, the question being given to John to answer. Looking down towards Jack, John bites his lip and swallows whatever spit was forming in his mouth.
“No. We’re not killing Charlotte” John says confidently, earning confusion from the rest of the group. “What do you mean, ‘no’?” Franklin asks, with much of the group remaining in the same state of confusion. Walking forward into the group, John proceeds to make his stance clear. “Charlotte is not innocent, but she is not more guilty than any of us” John says, beginning to earn the disapproval of the group. “She’s killed our own!” Jack shouts, only to be met with the argument from John. “And if we kill her, we’re putting ourselves on an equal level.”
That statement brings the group to a deafening silence before John proceeds. “I’m not one for bible quotes, but if there’s any biblical quote that can be attributed to all walks of life, it’s that the person that shall cast the first stone shall be the one that has not sinned. And we have all done our fair share of sinning.”
“She’ll get us all killed” Jack says, this time without passion, but with a more calculated approach. Locking him in the eyes, John walks up to Jack and crouches down to get on eye level with him. “Let me tell you something, Jackie. And that goes for everyone else here too” John says, returning Jack’s calculated approach with an even further, more threatening and darkening confidence and stride. “People have their reasons for doing what they do, just like us. And when people just cannot understand that, war breaks out… I think we’ve all become familiar with that” John says, his voice now growing harsher and crueler.
“When you wage war, you spill blood. So… the sooner we understand that people have reasons for doing things that we don’t like… The sooner we’ll stop filling buckets. Got it?”
The camp grows silent, and Jack lets out a breath of displeasure before resorting to nodding in agreement. Standing from his crouch, John looks out at the rest of his group, huddled around a fire before concluding. “Maybe some of you don’t like me. Hell, maybe some of you don’t respect me. That’s fine. Do and believe as you please as long as we all understand one thing… None of you… None. Of. You… Are going to keep me from keeping this group safe.”
Turning to his wife, John gives her a kiss on the cheek as she stares onwards, expression unchanged before John heads into the house, uttering two final words before disappearing into the home beyond the door.