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.”