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.