Silent on the ride back from the diner, John and the remainder of his group wait out the minutes that remain before they’re forced to return home empty handed. “What do we do now?” Alicia asks, waiting for a reply before she realizes that one isn’t coming. “We’ve got to think of something” Alicia says, looking around the car at the silent individuals too hurt to speak, “We can’t just go back to camp with nothing with our hands in the air.”
“What do you want us to tell them, Alicia?” John asks, dividing his attention between the road and responding to the woman behind him. “That we’e gotta spend a year taking whatever scraps we can get if we want to get Tyler back?”
“Something more hopeful than that” Alicia replies, watching as John’s aggravation begins to climb. “Hopeful? What’s fucking hopeful about this? We’ve lost one of our guys and now we’ve gotta slave to bring him back, and I’m not even sure they’ll give him back when that happens.”
Before long, Emilio turns to John with a puzzled look. “When that happens? You’re actually gonna do what they want?” Emilio asks, staring a hole into John as the driver turns to him. “We’ve got no other choice. It’s that or war” John says, watching as Emilio nearly-spazzes out in the front seat. “Choose war! Always fucking war! They took our men, let’s take him back!” Emilio shouts, looking at John, angrily staring out at the road and responding in much the same way.
“Sure, let’s get everyone else killed. Perfect fucking plan, Em” John replies, only for Emilio to cut him off, reaming him as both Alicia and Franklin sit in the back, silently watching in on the conversation. “I don’t care what your moral compass says, John. But if you even think about giving that old fuck what he wants, I’m gone.”
“You’re gone?” John somewhat mockingly replies, watching Emilio silently shake his head. “And where the fuck are you gonna go, huh?” John asks, caught off guard by the contents of Emilio’s reply. “Bill and I will set for the coast. Find a shack somewhere, settle in” Emilio replies, turning to see John staring him down as he grips to one piece of his reply. “Your both gonna leave?” John asks, resorting to silence as Emilio answers his question.
“You’ll just get up and leave us?” Franklin asks, prompting Emilio to turn his head to respond, only to cut himself off for a brief moment as he looks at Franklin, remembering their history. “We can’t just sit here and wait for something that’ll never happen” Emilio replies, softening his tone in time for John to return to the conversation.
“It’ll happen, we’ll figure something out” John replies, only for Emilio to exhaustedly ask, “What are we gonna figure out?” Looking at Emilio, John pauses before replying, fixing his mirror to keep it pointed behind them. “He keeps talking about things as currency, right?” John asks, looking at everyone as he wavers over his point. “If he keeps valuing things at higher or lesser value, we’ve just got to find something he values highly.”
“A bargaining chip?” Alicia asks, watching John look back to her and nod. “Well, what does he value highly?” Emilio asks, watching John begrudgingly shake his head. “I don’t know yet” the man replies, keeping his eyes locked onto the road as the rest of the group grows quiet. “But I’ll find out” John concludes.
= Rise is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 3 onwards =
Parking just outside of the home, John and his group are welcomed by the remainder of the group with joy for the few moments before they realize their presence comes without Tyler. “Where is he?” Troy asks, watching John with the rest of his group as they remove their things from the truck. “They wouldn’t let us take him back” John replies, watching as the group begins to grow concerned. “He’s fine, but they’ve still got him” John concludes, almost immediately finding himself interrupted by Jack.
“So you just walked out like that? No fight, no nothing?” the man asks, standing beside Lauren, just as annoyed as everyone. “There wasn’t anything we could do, they outnumbered us by three-dozen and had enough ammo to blow us into last year.”
“So when do we go back for him?” Cameron asks, only to be met with further silence as John and his group begin the walk back to the house with the many pounds of equipment draped over their backs. “You’re not answering me, John” Cameron shouts, walking after the group alongside the rest of the survivors. “John, tell us when we’re going back for him!” Cameron shouts, this time louder than before, prompting John to turn around and snap at him.
“I don’t know Cam. I don’t know when or how, and I certainly won’t assure you of anything until I do” John replies, turning to walk away until he is stopped once again by Jack. “Then what’s the plan?” Jack asks, watching as John stops in his tracks just at the door, “Even if it’s not the full plan, what’s the idea. We’ll figure it out together.”
As Jack says that, the group waits with vastly different expressions. Emilio and Bill both stare at John with exhaustion, questioning themselves as Alicia and Franklin look on assured, yet worried. The remainder of the group watches John turn around and face them, lifting his eyes to the crowd and planting the bag of ammunition beside him. “I don’t know what the plan is, alright? I don’t know how to approach this, and the only ideas I can come up with rely on their response entirely.”
“John, there’s got to be something that we can do” Lauren says, walking up to him and maneuvering through the crowd of people on her way, with Jack just behind her. “We’ve already lost more people than we’d like to admit, so let’s not start making that a ‘thing’.”
Upon hearing this, both Emilio and Bill bow their heads as the rest of the group watches the conversation unfold. “Whatever your plan is, John… We’ll have your back on it” Heather says from the very back, prompting the group to all nod their heads in agreement as John looks on. Before he can reply, the group watches a nearby convoy van arriving over the hill, prompting the group to draw their weapons as they slow to a halt just outside of their main gates.
Hurrying for cover beside whatever they can find, John’s group watches as four unfamiliar guards exit the vehicle, empty handed with their arms extended into the air. “We’re not here to hurt you” one of the men says, walking further out from his fellow convoymen. “We’re just here to talk to you. We understand if you don’t trust us, so we’re gonna put our weapons on the ground. Feel free to aim yours at us as much as you’d like, just don’t pull the trigger.”
Their weapons now on the ground, the four convoy members watch as the group slowly removes themselves from their hiding, every weapon they own drawn and pointed directly at their heads. “What do you want to talk about?” John asks, slowly walking to the front gate with his own pistol aimed towards them beside his hip. “I’m Jake. We’re with Tony’s convoy. We wanna talk about him, if you’ve got time.”
“Start talking” John says, lifting his gun to his midsection as the remainder of the group readies their fingers on the trigger of their weapons. “Tony’s testing you. He won’t hurt your guy” Jake says, watching as John looks at him with an angry glance. “Tony only cares about whether he can trust you or not. He doesn’t care about your stuff, he’s got all he needs” Jake says, immediately being asked why. “Tony’s not the only convoy. There’s a whole ton of others all around the east coast. If you aren’t a threat to his network, he doesn’t care what you do” Jake explains, now establishing enough comfort to lower his hands back to his hips.
“Why should I trust what you say?” John asks, refusing to pull any punches by dropping his tone, refusing to let emotion come through. “And for that matter, why would he let you come out here and tell us this?”
“He didn’t. He doesn’t follow where we take the vans. He trusts us, remember?” Jake says, walking closer to John, who ensures he watches as he lifts the gun upwards, now pointing it at Jake’s head. “And if you wanna know whether or not you can trust us, you should go to this place” Jake continues, reaching into his pocket and pausing for a moment as John extends the gun until it’s pressing against Jake’s forehead. After a few moments, Jake pulls out a piece of paper and hands it to John, who cautiously accepts it and puts it in his pocket.
“You’ll find a family there” Jake says, panning his eyes across the front yard, watching as each of the survivors remain in their same firing positions. For a moment, Jake breaks from the conversation and points out the readiness of John’s group. “You’re all still on guard. That’s good. If it ever comes down to it, you’ll actually stand a chance against Tony... At least initially.”
“Why initially?” John asks, watching Jake lean into his ear as the gun presses against his temple. Pulling away, Jake slowly backs up closer to his van as John refuses to drop his gun as much as an inch. “When you get there, just knock and shout ‘no trouble here’” Jake says, “They can be a little trigger happy, so keep your eyes glued.”
Climbing back into the van as the two guards slowly pick up their weapons and return them to their holsters, Jake and the remainder of his convoy drive off in the direction of the depot, disappearing down the road and out of sight as John and the rest of his group watch on before heading back inside.
Arriving at the entrance to the driveway of a small little yellow home just off the coast, a truck carrying John, Jessica, Katie, Cameron and Heather parks on the sidewalk just outside of the main yard. Emerging from the vehicle, John begins walking towards a lonely member of the undead and brandishes his hatchet. As he inches closer, he lifts the weapon into the air just as the undead drops to the ground, with the back of his head exploding as blood splatters everywhere, prompting John and his group to take cover.
“Whoever you are, no trouble here!” John shouts, watching as another member of the undead walks alone closer towards him. “What do you want?” a child’s voice calls out from inside, just before another silent shot brings the second undead to the ground, splattering more blood upon the pavement. “We were told you could help us understand something” Jess shouts, “We mean you no harm. We just want to talk to you!”
Without further response, the group waits for anything further before the door to the house is slowly pulled open, prompting the group to slowly stand from their cover. “What is it you’re trying to understand?” a woman asks, with a man and a little girl to her left and her right respectively.
“What made him not trust you?” the woman asks, handing John and the rest of his group a cup of tea. “We didn’t believe he had good intentions. We weren’t willing to look less capable than we are” John replies, watching as the woman shakes her head. “No one’s intentions are good. The difference is how humane and inhumane they are” the woman replies, watching as John argues her point. “All we’re looking to do is get our friend back, there’s nothing bad about that” John replies, immediately cut off by the woman sitting back in her chair with a smile. “At the expense of someone else’s safety? I wouldn’t say there’s much good in that.”
Accepting defeat in this instance, John quietly ducks his head. “Look, I’m not going to tell you that Tony taking your friend was a humane thing… But I certainly will tell you to try and work with him. Nothing but bad comes from arguing against him” the woman says.
“Because of the convoy” Jess says, cut off again by the woman, replying “Because of the fallout.”
“In life, there are people that are able to convince someone of anything. There’s a certain charm to them. A moxey if you will” the woman says, the survivors in front of her now leaning in. “If they convince enough people to believe what they’re saying, they hold all of the power over them. So when that person starts commanding an army capable of anything, he becomes the only source of balance. And when that balance is picked out of the air…” the woman says, allowing John to finish for her.
“Balance goes out the window.” Lifting her cup to her mouth, the woman concludes her point. “Waco would’ve been a whole lot worse if Koresh wasn’t there to tell them to stay strong or some other bullshit like that.”
“So what do you suggest that we do?” Jess asks, “It’s not exactly like we’re in his good graces right now.” Looking to her husband, the woman nods in his direction. “Mary doesn’t want to admit it, but at this rate… The convoy is the only real sort of government” her husband says. “A fight against them would be more than just a fight. It would be more like a revolution.”
“So going to battle with them is going to war” Jess asks, watching the husband look at her with disappointment-tinted eyes. “We’ve got nothing to challenge them with. We can barely even feed ourselves” Katie says, only to be cut off by the husband’s eyes glancing down with a noticeable breath being taken. “There is… One thing…” the husband says, earning everyone’s attention as his wife sinks her head down.
“What’s that?” John asks, watching as the husband begins to allow himself to inform them of one thing, though very nervous and worried about it. Standing from his seat, John walks over to the husband and tells him to look at him. “What is it, Henry?” John asks calmly, easing the husband down from the anxiety climb. “They have a bomb” Henry says, bringing the group into a stunned silence.
“A bomb?” John asks once more in need to clarify. “Yeah, a bomb” Henry says, assuring the group. “It’s a rumor, but the convoy doesn’t seem to care about shooting it down. They want everyone they can get to know about it, but they’re smart enough not to say it if they didn’t have one.”
“What kind of bomb are we talking about?” Heather asks, only to be met with one answer she’s on the fence about receiving. “Nuclear” Henry says, forcing the group to delve further into silence. “It’s not a massive bomb. From what the rumors say, it’ll be enough to cover one-tenth of a mile.”
Stepping back into his seat, John keeps his head pointed at the ground. “Everything else will be the fallout, but the radiation being carried by the wind will be worse than the actual explosion” Henry says, his conversation being interrupted by his daughter running into the room with a wand in her hand. “What’s up, Tulia-bug?” Henry asks, walking out of the room with his daughter and out of sight of the group.
“He’s serious?” John asks, looking over to Mary, who responds by silently nodding. “We can’t detonate that thing, regardless of how weak it is” Cameron says, “What choice do we have?” Jess replies.
“Jess, we blow that thing up, the damage stretches about a mile long and the radiation is carried all the way up to Massachusetts. We’ll get thousands of people sick” Cameron argues. “Then tell us what other choice we have?” Jess asks, watching as Cameron shakes his head, frustrated, responding, “I- I don’t know.”
“You both have a point” John says, interrupting the debate. “There’s no chance we take on an army without something up our sleeve, but we can’t risk getting anyone else still actually alive sick and killed. We’re at a crossroads”
“We don’t know if the rumors are actually true, though. I mean, it could all just be a bunch of talk” Katie says, only to find Mary squeezing into the conversation once more. “There is one way to find out for yourselves” the woman says, bringing everyone’s focus back to her. “The convoy may be well equipped with whatever you can find, but if there’s one thing they’re bad at, it’s keeping records.”
“What do you mean?” Heather asks, “We got really attached to keeping records on the computer of phones… A bunch of stuff we don’t have. People just didn’t want to go back to paper when things started, so they just didn’t keep records. Since there are so many convoys out there, they felt it would be too convoluted.”
“Are you suggesting we sneak into the convoy?” John asks, watching the woman place her cup down and lean forward. “If you dress in whatever black clothes you have, and you can find another convoy post somewhere else. All you’ve gotta do is tell them you’re looking to get back to Tony’s post and you’ll be on the first van there.”
Climbing out of the grass and scrambling around, Jack and Lauren toss each other their respective articles of clothing in between sections of playful banter. “Y’know, if we’re gonna keep doing this.. We might need to find a better place than right next to the house” Jack says, earning a chuckle from Lauren. “What’s the matter?” Jack asks, tossing her one of her shoes. “Nothing” the woman replies, putting on one sock.
“Do you not agree?” Jack asks, watching as the woman takes a seat in the grass and pauses for a moment. “Why do you think this’ll keep happening?” the woman asks, watching Jack begin leaning against a tree. “Because we’ve both got needs, and we both get those needs done with each other” Jack replies, grasping at straws in hopes of eventually stumbling across the right answer. “Needs? Is that what we’re calling it?” Lauren jokes, putting on her other sock.
“What would you call it?” Jack asks, putting on his shirt. “I’d call it my girlfriend-murdering girlfriend got killed in the middle of a war against my own friends that I pushed her into and I need a way to stop thinking about that… Sound good?” Lauren replies, standing from her place in the grass and walking back to the house as Jack watches her walk away, smirking to himself as he continues putting his clothes back on.
“I want to believe that we’re not heading down a dangerous path here, Em… But we’ve got to look at the facts. We’ve got guys getting snatched in the middle of the day. We’re not safe here!” Bill says, pacing around his bedroom as Emilio stares out at the road with a gun in his hand, ready to fire if necessary. “Bill, we’re not safe anywhere if that’s gonna keep being the case” Emilio replies, refusing to give into Bill’s worry. “Bill, do you remember what was happening when everything was first starting to go to shit?” Emilio asks, listening as his husband responds, “You were running for governor.”
“More importantly, I was the hot head and you were the logical, ‘let’s look on the bright side’ husband that kept me intact” Emilio says, pausing for a moment and turning around to face Bill, who stares straight at him. “What happened to that?” Emilio concludes, watching Bill’s face grow from one of attentiveness to one of mockingly humored.
“We also lost the bright side to look at if you can’t remember” Bill replies, taking a seat beside Emilio. “How can I forget? My husband and I getting split up in the first few days and our paradise going up in flames” Emilio jokingly replies. “Em, we’re not safe here. And it’s only a matter of time before someone throws something out so ridiculous that it gets us all killed” Bill says, watching as Emilio begins staring down the barrel before taking a shot, firing a round through the trees and burying a bullet into the body of a deer, which scampers off as Emilio prepares to walk after it.
“Em, we need to talk about this with the worst scenario in mind” Bill says, not caring enough to watch his voice as Emilio disappear through the door just before Salem walks up to it. “Talk about what?” Salem asks, watching Bill’s expression turn into one of subtle paranoia. “Nothing” Bill replies, walking for the door and reaching out to close it, only for Salem to step into its path, bringing it to a halt with her boot. “You guys have been acting really distant the past few days and I don’t like it” Salem says, “What’s going on?”
“Personal issues” Bill says, watching Salem move her foot before closing the door on her, leaving her to look around before walking off.
Stored away in a cramped room with little more than a bed and a light, Tyler sits alone, staring at a blank wall with a drawing of a fire taped to it. After a few moments, the silence becomes interrupted by the sound of a heavy piece of metal opening up just as footsteps begin to inch closer to his room. Without moving, Tyler sits, patiently waiting until the locking mechanism sounds twice, allowing for Tony to freely push the door open and enter the room.
“Sorry if it’s not as spacious as some of our other rooms are, it’s a little difficult to find efficient housing with as many people as we have coming in” Tony says, adjusting his collar and taking a seat on a metal folding chair opposite Tyler. “I hope today’s meeting with your friends wasn’t too hard on you” the man continues, retrieving from his pocket two mini bottles of vodka, handing one to Tyler.
“What are you going to do with me?” Tyler asks, his voice being muffled under his subdued tone, having been pushed to the limit earlier. “Well I guess that’s going to be up to you” Tony responds, lifting one leg over the other and resting his back against the chair, not caring much for the lack of give in it. “Your friends may not want to play by the rules, at least not yet, but that doesn’t mean you have to be held responsible for their choices.”
“They’re my friends” Tyler replies, his facial wounds patched up by the doctors inside the convoy. “And you picked good ones” Tony replies, “You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve taken someone as leverage and seen their so-called ‘friends’ up and disappear.”
“I guess the world’s got a funny way of looking bleak, huh?” Tyler responds, watching Tony grin from ear to ear. “Exactly” the man says, taking a short sip from the plastic bottle. “You know, Tyler… I noticed something about you today that I think separates your from those people we saw at the table. Do you know what that is?”
Looking around the room, Tyler responds in a sarcastic manner. “That I’m not as claustrophobic?” he says, getting a rise out of Tony. “That, and the fact that you’re easier to trust” Tony replies, watching as Tyler looks at him with intrigue written on his face like a teacher’s agenda in the corner of a chalkboard. “How do you figure that?” Tyler asks, accepting Tony’s challenge to play ball.
“You didn’t try to attack… or undermine… what most people would consider my weakness. My one need in this world” Tony responds, only to be humored when Tyler responds, “I didn’t have much of a choice.”
“Of course you did” Tony says, “You just didn’t try.”
“Then humor me, Tony… How would I have been able to try when I’m locked away in this little broom closet of yours?” Tyler asks, watching Tony’s grin spread from ear to ear. “Because you were never locked in” Tony replies, watching Tyler’s intense grin wipe away before turning for the door, and retrieving his keys from his pockets. Watching him walk over to the door, Tyler looks at the keys, turning to every possible direction in the lock, only for none of them to actually lock the door.
“You could have jumped me by surprise and beat me within inches of death, but you didn’t even try. You’re not blood-hungry, and you’re smart enough to know that such an attempt would be feeble.”
Tony walks back to Tyler, standing over him before holding his hand out to him. “Let me show you something” Tony says, watching as Tyler accepts his hand and follows him into the main courtyard.
“It’s not much for scenery, what with all the trees everywhere the eye can reach… But it’s better than what you can see out there” Tony says, walking Tyler through pathway after pathway, with large fences and lavish greenery surrounding the camp in each direction, offering both safety and peace. “We don’t ask anyone to stay if they don’t want to, we just want to be sure that they won’t come back to harm us after they’re gone” Tony says, walking Tyler past rows and rows of post-apocalypse built homes and facilities, all with working electricity and an ample supply of food and water.
“I don’t get it” Tyler says, continuing to be awed at the surroundings as Tony looks at him curiously. “What is it that you don’t get?” the man asks, watching such awe-struck gazes take Tyler over like a kid surrounded by rows of sweets in a candy store. “How could all of… this… be possible?” Tyler asks, watching Tony laugh to himself as he nods.
“As I said to your friends, we’re a luxury to them in comparison to everything else out there. Do we have methods that would be considered unorthodox? Sure… But it’s a new world, and safety means coming up with new ways to look at threats. We never kill those we take for leverage, and we never kill those that we take them from… Unless they give us a reason to.”
Still awestruck, but very aware of the conversation being had, Tyler tries to remain in the mindset of someone unbias and unphased by the beauty surrounding him, but that mindset becoming harder and harder to maintain. “When your friends eventually run into a real bad guy, they’re gonna wish they were still dealing with me.”
Continuing to walk, eventually Tyler looks off into one of the internal parks, locking his eyes onto a girl sitting alone at a park bench, reading a book alone beside a lantern. His focus on the girl now slowing him down, slightly separating himself and Tony, Tyler fades off just looking at the woman before Tony breaks him from his spell. “Something catch your eyes?” Tony asks, only to notice the source of Tyler’s focus as Tyler takes his glance back to the man to his side. “Or is it someone?”
“Who is she?” Tyler asks, “That would be Angela Hargraves. She keeps track of food rations” Tony replies, noticing Tyler’s fixation on her. Stopping their walk, Tony and Tyler both stand in place, admiring the girl from afar before Tony speaks up. “Listen, I’m not going to ask you to make any big, life-altering decision right now, so don’t worry about having to make your mind up on anything. As far as you are concerned, let’s get you out of that broom closet and into some place more suitable for actually living in.”
Handing Tyler a key and pointing off in the direction in which they were previously walking, Tony concludes his tour by speaking to Tyler and walking off the way he came, leaving Tyler to his vices. “Your room will be the last door to the hall down there, you can ask the guard at the front door to direct you to ‘Room 5-4B, okay?”
Nodding, Tyler watches Tony pat him on the back and walk away. Standing in his place for a few more moments, Tyler continues to look at the lady before continuing his walk to his new room alone, casually glancing at the woman every now-and-then along the way.
Coming to a slow, rolling stop just outside the home, John’s truck parks and drops it’s passengers off just as the group begins to cook their dinner. “Who the hell caught a deer?” John jokes, watching as Emilio lifts his hand from the back of the camp. “We have a badge for Emilio or something?” John laughs, watching everyone at the campsite having a good time, talking to each other and keeping their eyes peeled for anyone that could be lurking around the corner.
Jess, Katie, Cameron and Heather all join their fellow survivors at the makeshift party site as John returns to the house with whatever supplies they brought along with them on the drive. Entering the house, John walks past the living room without second thought until he hears his name called. “Salem, what are you doing in here?” John asks, placing his equipment on the ground and walking over to the girl, stationed at the window and looking out at both Emilio and Bill.
“They’re hiding something” Salem says, her attention being noticed by John, who takes a seat on the fireplace wall. “I know” John replies, watching Salem turn her attention over to him. “You know what? That they’re hiding something or what they’re hiding?”
“Both” John says, rubbing his hands together as Salem awaits further information. “They-” John begin to say, only to stop himself, taking the chance to think about whether or not he should even bring it up. “They’re split on leaving” John responds, watching Salem stand from her seat and walk over to John. “Leaving what? The group?”
“All of it. Bill wants out and Emilio doesn’t know what to want” John says, laying back against the cold concrete as Salem takes a seat beside him. “Why does Bill want to leave?” Salem asks, watching John rub his eyes from the exhaustion of the busy day. “I don’t really know much about why. I overheard them talking about it, and all I know is that Bill seemed really adamant, and Emilio didn’t have much of an answer in either outcome.”
“Well get them to stay” Salem says, watching John grunt in response. “Salem” John says, immediately being cut off. “What? John, you know we can’t lose them” Salem says, watching the group’s leader throw his eyes around the room in frustration at the existence of the situation. “I know we can’t lose them, but I’m not going to force them to stay, Salem.”
“So you’re just going to let them go out there… On their own with a group of sickos hunting people down for leverage?” Salem asks, watching as John stares at her with soft and welcoming eyes. “Salem, I’m not going to force them to stay. I’ll try to convince them all I can, but the second I force them to stay, this group isn’t worth wanting to be a part of. If they want to risk the chance themselves, they’re welcome to. That doesn’t mean I’m going to like it.”
After a minute of silence, both Salem and John losing themselves in watching the flames of the bonfire shooting into the sky like the propulsion of a rocket being sent into space. “So, what’s the plan for getting Tyler back?” Salem asks, watching John throw himself around inside his own head. “We’re told we can fake being one of Tony’s soldiers easily enough to sneak into his compound with little problems.”
“No shit?” Salem asks, “If you’re shocked at that one, wait ‘til you hear this… Turns out if that fails, he’s got a small,, nuclear warhead somewhere in the compound we can blow the place to bits with.”
“A nuclear, what? You’re gonna drop a bomb on them?” Salem says, this time with more surprise and worry in her voice, but still kept to a minimum. “Not a big bomb. It’s apparently a small one and won’t do much more than blow the building up and throw radiation wherever the wind takes it. But it’s a last-ditch scenario. The hope is we can get Tyler and get out somewhere further inland if possible.”
“Have you told the group that?” Salem asks, only to watch John frantically shake his head. “No. No… At least, not yet.” Looking at him confused, “Why not?” Salem asks, watching John rest his head against the wall behind him with a smile beginning to creep onto his face. “I will. Just... not tonight. They’ve gone through so much, it’s nice to see them living without having to worry about whether they’ll see tomorrow or not. They’re… They’re being normal for a change. Let them enjoy it.”
Joining John in looking out at the fire, both she and John stand up and watch the survivors sitting outside and enjoying the company of one another around the fire, eating dinner and having some fun. “It’s like those old barbecues people used to have before all of this went down. It’s nice to see for a change” John says, smiling as Salem does the same. “You’re right. It’s… It’s nice.”
Continuing to look out at the group, John and Salem watch everyone socializing and joking around, the bonfire in the center serving as a warm light as the sky goes dark, and a deep blue night is given a peaceful overhaul, even if for one night only, as the world around them is stifled by the warm, welcoming embrace of life’s elusive beauty.