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.