“How the hell could you even think about putting yourself in that kind of danger?” Jessica argues, shouting at her husband as he sits on a chest off in the corner of the house, avoiding eye contact. “I’ve already told you, Jess. I’m not asking someone to do something that I wouldn’t do” John replies, hands folded and his posture unchanged. “John, you have a family to look after. Other than Emilio and Bill, there’s no one out there with more to leave behind” Jess says, crouching to her knees and taking John’s hands into her own, pointing at the window overlooking the front yard. “Jess, I’m not planning on dying” John replies, finally turning his face towards her as she grows even further annoyed.
“No one ever plans on dying when they do, John. It just happens, and you don’t know if you’ll come back out of there alive” Jess replies, prompting John to attempt to turn his face away from her again, only for her to pull his attention right back to her, refusing to let him look away. “John, even if you want to do something yourself, there’s got to be an option that’s safer than this” Jess pleads, only to notice John’s expression remaining unchanged, indicating that he isn’t going to change his mind.
Giving up, Jess drops her head and accepts the gravity of his decision. “I’m not gonna change your mind, am I?” Jess asks, watching John shake his head from one side to the other, still as water. Shaking her head, “unbelievable” Jess replies, standing to her feet and grabbing the set of keys on the kitchen countertop before exiting the home and readying herself for the truck. “Hey, Jess? Where you going?” Franklin asks, his smile starting to fade as both he and the rest of the camp remain unanswered, and Jessica continues for the car.
Unwrapping his arms from Alicia, Franklin walks after Jess, with the rest of the camp slowly walking after them, watching Franklin take Jess by the shoulder and turn her around. “Ask John” Jess replies, unlocking the doors and hopping into the truck, driving off down the road.
“What’s Jessica doing?” Franklin asks, walking into the living room to confront John, flanked by the remainder of the camp’s survivors. “She’s going to blow off steam” John replies, going through his limited wardrobe with his mind set on finding something in particular. “What did you say?” Cameron asks, only to be shot down by John, responding that it wasn’t anything to do with what he said. “Well why is she pissed?” Lauren asks, prompting John to stop digging through his bag of clothes, his hands still buried beneath the layers. “She doesn’t want me to go back to Connecticut” John replies, continuing with his search as the group looks to each other in more confusion than before.
“What is it that you’re planning to do in Connecticut?” Bill asks, he and Emilio walking closer to the front of the group as John finally pulls a black turtleneck from the bag and lays it on the foot of the bed. “I’m going to sneak into one of Tony’s convoy camps” John replies, catching everyone off guard. “What the hell are you gonna do that for?” Cameron asks, prompting John to halt his search once more.
“We’re gonna catch a ride to Tony’s main camp. If we blend in well enough, they won’t question us” Salem replies, walking up to John with her own black clothing and tossing John a black beanie cap. “Why the hell would you try to do that? They’ll kill you if they find out you’re there!” Jack shouts, watching John turn around to face them, all seemingly more puzzled now than they were before. “Because Tony’s main camp supposedly has a bomb. We’re gonna try to talk to Tyler somehow and figure out where the bomb is. If we need to blow it, we’ll at least know the rumors aren’t just that.”
Looking around the group, now having replaced their confusion with worry, John takes a breath and readjusts his words. “The people we talked to today says that the group acts like a form of government. If they can trust you, they’ll let you live out your lives. We’ve already fallen out of their immediate good graces, so we’re looking for alternative methods of survival in case things fall out of our favor. This is the best option they had for us. Any questions?”
Looking around the room, John notices each individual looking to their respective sides without question until one hand near the front lifts up, grabbing John’s attention. “Yes?” John asks, watching the hand fall to the side of Emilio, who shrugs off Bill before looking straight towards John, not missing a beat. “Can I tag along? You might need the man power” Emilio says, much to the disbelief of Bill, who rolls his eyes and subtly throws his hands outwards, ticked off by the request, which finds itself granted by John.
Following after Emilio, Katie lifts her hand up and requests the same thing, to much the same result. “What if you get caught in there? What do you want us to do then?” Franklin asks, the question itself depressing Bill, who flares his nostrils at the possibility. “If we get caught, we’ll tell someone here. When that happens, get ready to head for the coast” John replies, watching the groups combined posture speak more confidence than before. “Everyone got it?” John asks, watching the group nod and reply with their own iterations of agreeance, putting a smile on John’s face.
= Rise is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 3 onwards =
Lugging a duffle bag filled to capacity with weaponry and ammunition, John leads himself, Emilio, Katie and Salem through the front door in the direction of the truck. “John!” Troy calls out, draped in all-black attire and hurrying up to the man, requesting to come along. “Are you sure?” John asks, finding an answer in Troy’s silent nod and confident grin before replying with a throw of his head towards the truck, accepting Troy’s request.
Loved ones walking towards the departing, Jessica wraps her arms around John before Amy does the same, listening intently as John assures them that he will return safe with the rest of the group. “Okay” Jess replies, breaking the embrace to watch John and the others make for the truck and begin their journey. The dirt beneath the wheels being kicked up becomes enough to continue to see the truck behind a thick baje cloud before long, and Jessica and Amy return to the inside of the home alongside the rest of the group.
“You, now” Lauren whispers, taking Jack by the arm once inside and dipping back through the front on their way outside as the group dissipates into their individual areas. Despite the majority of the group being more upbeat and hopeful than days previous, three main individuals stand out from that mold, all tending to separate issues. Heather splits from Cameron and heads for the living room before noticing Bill disappear into his room behind a closed door, and Jessica and Amy silently sneaking into a small half-bathroom near the end of the home.
Without any of the other survivors taking notice of herself or the other individuals secluding themselves, Heather begins walking over towards the half-bathroom and pokes her head over the corner to see Jessica, Amy stood atop the toilet lid beside her, reading something over the bathroom sink.
“Jess, you good?” Heather asks, caught off guard by the woman, trying her best to inconspicuously hide the reading material behind her back in surprise of Heather’s presence. “I’m fine, Heather. What’s up?” Jess asks, noticing the curiosity in everything from Heather’s expression to the way she walks, catching on to her motives. “What are you hiding?” Heather asks, watching the guilt slowly devour Jessica as she slowly pulls a pocket-sized map from her back pocket and holds it in front of her chest.
“Why did you have a pocket map, Jess?” Heather asks walking up to her and reaching for it, only to pause for a moment as Jess tugs the map closer to her chest in an effort to keep it from the eyes of the woman before her. “Jess?” Heather asks again, this time more reassuring before holding her hand out and slowly being given the folded paper reluctantly. Unravelling it, Heather gazes over the picture, looking at lines drawn in a different array of colors all pointed closer and closer to the coast. “What is all this, Jess?” Heather asks, splitting her attention between the routes and Jessica’s explanation.
“Are you…” Heather begins, only to stop as the somewhat preposterous reason increases in likelihood the further time goes by. “Are you leaving?” Heather asks, watching the woman drop her head in shame, but not in the way someone on the fence normally would. Whilst the break in eye contact may state that she’s not proud of her choice coming to light, the determined look in her eyes when she picks her head back up certainly don’t hint at her decision being swayed in an opposite direction.
“Why? Why would you and John do this to us?” Heather asks, watching Jessica remove her eyes once more, only further surprising Heather. “Are you not telling John this?” Heather asks, throwing her hands out in dismay as the return of Jessica’s eye contact provides her all the answers that she needs. “Why? Jess, tell me why you’re doing this?” Heather pleads, watching the woman strip herself of the secrecy in an attempt to be open with the only person thus far to find out the existence of her secrecy at all.
“I can’t keep sitting here and watching this, Heather” Jess replies, holding her hands out and leaning against the sink as she throws herself through her own brain in hopes of pulling out the adequate response. “John’s a great man, I will never argue that. But when people look to him for guidance, he throws any care for his own well-being down the fucking tubes. It’s why he left the military, but unlike then, the world’s gonna make the decision for him this time instead of letting him accept that himself.”
Struggling for worthy response, Heather looks to the woman, weathered by the storm of watching her husband leave every day without assurance that he’ll come back and tries to find a worthy response. “I… I see that, and I get that… But it doesn’t change what you’re doing. You’re still taking a kid away from their father” Heather argues, only to be fought, Jessica replying with sharp contrast to the passionate drive to leave from before, “A father she may never grow up to consciously remember because he got himself killed doing something stupid.”
“Jess, we look to you for just as much as we look towards him” Heather retorts, fully committing to her refusal to question the decision on behalf of the child, opting to aim for the chest instead. “That’s not true” Jess replies, “Everyone can look to either of us, but they’ll choose John over me every single time. He’s born to do this, which is what makes it so hard. I don’t know the intricacies like he does, I’m not the leader that he is, so I have no chance at battling him off this ledge he’s put himself on, and everyone knows it, even if they don’t want to say it.”
Now not only backed into a corner, but unable to create distance in the space between Jessica’s argument and her own, Heather groans as she repeats Jessica’s name, dropping her own head to the ground as she finds herself run dry on any further arguments, understanding the impossibility of removing herself from the corner. As words cease and Heather returns her view to the woman, she finds herself looking at Jess’ extended hand, waiting for the return of the map gripped tightly in Heather’s clutches, reluctant to return it to its original owner, but starved of a reason to deny Jess the property she has a right to.
“The ole’ stomping grounds” Emilio says, sliding a magazine into his rifle much to the amusement of each party in the car. “It’s good to be home!” he continues, laughing to himself as the crew around him do their own miniature celebratory call. “I wish it was on better terms, but this’ll have to do!” John says, adding more enthusiasm into his declaration than that of Emilio’s, earning another laugh from the conversation’s originator for his efforts.
With the humor dying down and the silence returning, Troy, sat in the top corner of the flatbed begins to look around at the greenery surrounding the group, with the sunlight spilling through the trees like a beacon of freedom. “Any of you guys afraid?” Troy asks, seemingly out of nowhere as the attention begins placing itself on the young man, though no words are uttered.
“I mean, we’ve all done dangerous shit before… But do any of you still get afraid of walking into this kind of thing?” Troy asks once more, watching the group’s friendly expression turn into ones of self-reflection, silent until John’s assurance shreds through like a blade through paper. “No. Not anymore” John says, catching the eyes from each member of the group, even using the rear-view mirror to assure himself of having stolen the focus back. “We’ve done far worse and lived to talk about it. This’ll be no different” John concludes, watching everyone other than Troy nod in compliance, buying into the numbing of the true dangers.
“How long until that stops happening?” Troy asks, killing the confidence in a necessary way. “I don’t mean to be the buzzkill, but what happens when we don’t live to talk about it? How do we make sense in it then?”
Before John can respond, Emilio beats him to the punch, tying the laces on his combat boots tight as he does. “We’re always gonna lose people” Emilio says, chewing on a tooth pick as the group centers focus on him, taking comfort in his composed nature. “If you wanna live in this world, you’ve gotta accept that. But you can’t be alive in this world if you’re too afraid to live” Emilio concludes, finally twisting the final lace around the other before leaning back, allowing the sunlight to rip across his face in sharp shadows and bursts.
“Water?” Jack asks, extending his arm out to hand Lauren a flask as they seat themselves atop rocks and logs respectively. “Do you wanna talk?” Jack asks, watching Lauren’s eyes drift as she returns the flask and stands from her seat. “Why do you always want to talk?” Lauren asks, rubbing her eyes and walking away. “IS there something wrong with me wanting a little more than meaningless sex?” Jack retorts, watching the woman smile as she places a machete back into her holster.
“What? Why don’t you talk to anyone here other than me? Why won’t you tell anyone anything?” Jack continues, walking towards Lauren in hopes of keeping up with her pace. “Maybe because you didn’t ask so many questions at first” Lauren responds, trying to create distance to no success. “What’s so bad with asking questions?” Jack asks, his questions resonating with a more confused tone with each one raised, finally grasping Lauren’s attention enough for her to stop in her tracks, allowing Jack to catch up to her.
“Seriously, Lauren. I don’t want to be the guy that makes things out to be more than they actually are, but it’s not just me you keep running away from” Jack pleas, gently turning her around and lifting her head with his free hand, directing her eyes towards his rather than towards the ground. “Lauren, I just want to make sure you’re okay. I can’t see how that’s a bad thing” Jack says, softening his voice as the compassion rips through in droves, bringing Lauren into a genuine comfort.
“It’s not a bad thing, it’s just not something I know how to answer” Lauren replies, watching Jack direct his attention towards her words, listening to every syllable. “The second everything went to shit, I was lost on a highway with nothing to keep me going. When I finally find people, they end up taking each other out and leaving me behind again. I don’t have much reason to believe that kind of shit wont happen again, especially since I only found you guys on accident.”
Taking in a deep breath, Jack takes Lauren by both hands, somewhat catching her off guard for a moment before she gives into the show of empathy and takes the interaction in without question. “You’ve got to remember you still survived regardless. I don’t think anyone in this group can say they’ve fought more uphill battles than you have, and you’re still here. So, sure, that shit happened. On the other hand, don’t forget that it couldn’t kill you. This world has kept failing to change that every time it’s tried, so keep making sure that stays the same. That’s your hope- your reason to keep fighting.”
After a brief second to digest, Lauren looks up at Jack with eyes lacking compliance. “It’s not worrying about fighting that’s getting me Jack” Lauren begins, only to watch Jack finish her sentence for her, his eyes shifting to understanding as he does. “It’s the fear of what comes next” Jack says with certainty, watching Lauren’s lips pucker as her way of verifying the statement.
On the verge of tears, caught off by both the acceptance of that truth and the knowledge that someone other than her actually gets it, Lauren accepts the impending embrace from Jack, letting herself go in his arms in a confused blend of bleak sorrow and hopeful affirmation.
As the night falls over the sky just beyond the border of Connecticut, the lights on John’s truck shut off along with the remainder of the car, hidden behind the bramble on the side of a dirt path barely visible from the main road. One after another, the group disembarks the vehicle and hide the bag of weaponry and ammunition in a shallow grave a few feet away before making for the main road once again.
“Just ahead?” Emilio whispers, armed with an automatic assault rifle and following John’s lead as the man at the front nods to respond as they finally approach a makeshift barrier swarmed with vans, all entering pretty quickly after arriving. “Hey you” a man calls out, catching the group’s attention as they brace for the trips final stretch.
“Still and calm, everyone” John mutters to the group, watching the guard’s every step through the eye slot of his balaclava, keeping his finger on the trigger in effort to quell any surprise moves. Finally, as the guard comes up to John, stopping meer inches away, he politely asks where his group’s van is, taking note of the fact that they arrived without their vehicle.
“We got swarmed in a horde a few miles back” John says, careful in his delivery, watching the man’s eyes narrow as the story continues. “Had to tail it out on foot” John continues, watching the guards just beyond the one ahead of him directing their attention to them, cautiously taking note of them as the man in front of him silently awaits the conclusion of his statement. “We…” John begins, pulling the bottom of his balaclava down to reveal his face, “We lost one in the wreckage. We’re a little stirred, sorry for the cold welcome. This was the closest place and we’ve never been here before” John concludes, watching the calculation on the face of the guard fade away as he introduces himself.
“Well, it’s good to see that the majority of you made it out alright. I’m Liam Park, welcome to Vixen County” the stationed guard says, holding his hand out. “It’s nice to finally meet you” John replies, running over each member of his group with their last name rather than their first.
“We’re hoping to get on the next ride to Tony’s compound out in New York if that was at all possible?” John asks, noticing the guard’s warm welcome begin to dwell the concern amongst the remaining guards behind him. “Of course! We’ve got a truck load of recruits heading out to Sheol in the morning, we’d be happy to add you on” Liam says, radioing in the request upon John’s approval.
“Again, welcome to Vixen County. We’ll have a few guards checking you for bites or scratches, and you’ll be free to do as you please after that!” Liam says, shaking John’s hand before returning to his work without any further questioning.
“That was easy” Emilio whispers over to John, both lowering their guns as the guards approach, searching them for bites before allowing them entry into the post-government styled community, with working electricity powering everything from refrigerators to neon lights. “Did we wake up in Vegas or somethin’?” Emilio asks, baffled by the amount of pre-outbreak humanity lining the town like paper dolls and little notes.
“You all look like you could use a drink” a voice calls out from beside them, capturing the attention of the group looking like they’re conjoined at the hip together. “Long night?” The lady asks, pulling five glasses from beneath the bar-like counter and filling them with frosty beer. “One the house” the woman says, twisting the cap back onto the bottle as the group takes the opportunity and have themselves a seat.
“Where you all coming from?” the woman asks, watching Salem, the first to the table reply with “Sheol.”
“Ah, ¿La mejor parada de Nueva York en su carretera a Boston para tomar una copa?” the woman replies, catching everyone other than Salem off guard, who nonchalantly returns, “Lo mejor de Nueva York es tomar una copa o dos antes de regresar a casa. Nada peor que los fanáticos de los Patriots” to the humor of the woman, nearly choking on a drink of her own.
“She speak on your behalf?” the woman asks, pointing to John in specific, having taken their spectation as a non-verbal hint. “For tonight?” John jokingly asks, turning to look at Salem, grinning at him with a level of confidence not usually suiting her, “Sure” he concludes, downing the rest of her drink before Emilio gives him a firm pat on the back. “Tal vez ella habla por el chico blanco, pero ciertamente no todos” Emilio says, caught off by John looking up to him and humorously responding, “I may not have got much of that, but I got ‘white’ and that’s what I’m focusing on the most!” with his finger in Emilio’s face.
“What about you?” the woman asks, looking at Katie, captivated by her lack of eyesight shared with the group. “One of my foster mothers spoke a bit of Bosnian. I picked up on a little bit” the girl replies, catching a surprised look from the bartender. “What’d you pick up?” the woman asks, watching the girl cradles the glass of beer in her hand. “Tal vez ella habla por el chico blanco, pero ciertamente no todos” Katie replies, catching a look of curiosity from the woman. “What’d you say?” Troy asks, watching Katie shrug her shoulders without anything further as she downs her beer.
“What’ve you got?” Katie asks, mocking Troy and calling his bluff. “kkaejin heos-soliboda deo manh-i naneun dangsin-i bang-geum beat-eo hwagsin hamnida!” Troy exclaims, watching Katie roll her eyes and nod her head, accepting defeat.
“It looks like you’re the only one without some versatility” Salem says, jokingly nudging John’s arm with her elbow. “Well I served in the military, so if I can’t speak another country’s language, at least I was there to help them when they needed it!” John says, taking Salem’s drink and downing the rest of it. “You can have this back” John then confidently remarks, returning Salem’s glass to her as the woman is helpless to do anything more than smirk at the play turning back to her.
“Military guy?” The bartender asks, watching John nod with a prideful smile on his face. From beneath the counter, the woman retrieves five golden pins and hands each out to the individual survivors. “Whatever we’ve got here is free for you all” the woman says, watching the gracious and surprised looks on everyone’s faces. “We appreciate your service” the woman says, directing her words to John before shaking his hand.
Taking whatever she can find and stuffing it into a duffle bag, Jess pays no attention to the world around her, which becomes enough to catch her off guard when Alicia, stood in the doorway beside Franklin, calls out “going somewhere?”
“Jesus fuck, ever hear of knocking?” Jess asks, returning to her current task as the pair enter the room, taking space at each side. “What are you doing, Jess?” Franklin asks, tucking his hands into his pockets as the woman ignores the question, silently shaking her head as she attempts to zip up the bag. “Stop, Jess” Alicia asks, calmly refusing to lose her composure as Jessica continues to struggle with the zipper.
“I’m not stopping, Alicia. I’m not going to sit around and listen to everyone call me a leader to make me feel some sorrt of pride while my husband goes out on suicide missions every day.”
Staring at the woman, continuing to rip at the zipper in frustration, Alicia comes over a moment of realization, lifting her eyebrow and tucking her hands into her back pockets. “You’re right, you’re not a leader” Alicia says, finding her words as the first thing to convince Jess to take a breather for a moment. “I’m not the leader that John is” Jess says, shrugging off the insult, but caring enough about it to correct it in her own line of thinking. “No, it’s not that. You’re just a bad leader” Alicia exclaims, watching the statement bring Jess back into her struggle before tacking on an additional claim for good measure. “Just like you’re a bad wife” Alicia says, gearing up her conclusion before noticing Jess’ struggle halt once more, “And a bad mother at that.”
Now with an anger-filled grin, Jess takes her hands away from the tiny metal frustration-inducer and focuses her sight on Alicia, staring at her with the confidence you wouldn’t normally see from someone in the situation. “I may not be perfect, but I’m not a bad mother. I’m not a bad wife for that matter either” Jess replies, looking back towards the bag as Franklin eyes Alicia with slight worry. “Okay, you’re not a bad mother or a bad wife… You’re just a lousy one.”
That sentence becomes enough to get Jess to boil over, taking her focus from the bag and getting in Alicia’s face, telling her to repeat herself. “What? You want to tell me breaking your promises to the people you’ve sworn to protect makes you anything less than incompetant? I said what I said, and I mean what I’m saying. You’re lousy at both, and you’re not going to intimidate me into saying otherwise.”
Without worry for any future consequences, Alicia smarkly crosses her arms and inches her own face closer to Jessica’s, backing the woman off a few inches for added measure. “I’m not Heather, Jess. I know who you are and I know what you’re really like. If you’re leaving, I’m not letting you do that without making sure you know how much of a total piece of shit you really are.”
Now dropping her arms to the side, Alicia gets closer in the face of Jessica, daring her to start something she knows Alicia will end without a second thought. “You weren’t the golden girl growing up, Jess. You didn’t have mommy’s attention, and once you grew to crave it, you weren’t going to stop” Alicia begins, prompting Franklin to call her name, warning her to settle down. “No, ‘Lin, she’s well aware of what she is, she just can’t handle people seeing her like it” Alicia says, taking notice of Jessica, now fuming at the sight. “She fell in love with John the second she met him, but she never fell in love with who he was as a person, only as a concept. The ideal husband that centered his world around her and their new family.”
Tears of anger now beginning to fall from Jessica’s eyes as her fist clench, the woman does nothing more than watch Alicia, holding herself back from burying her fist into her face, as the woman continues to go in on her. “But the second John felt his attention was needed elsewhere, it became all hell for Jess. She may think she cares about him, but deep inside her selfish heart, she only wants him to come back so she has someone that will be dedicated to her regardless.”
Attempting to walk over to the two women, Franklin is stopped immediately by Alicia raising her hand in his direction, motioning for him to stay put. “Stop, ‘Lin. She knows she’s not leaving because she’s afraid he’ll get himself killed… She’s afraid the attention she gets will die with him… Because that’s who she is at heart… Selfish and deceitful” Alicia concludes, watching Jess’ tears welling turn from anger-induced to betrayed. “It looks like I hurt the girl” Alicia mocks, getting so close to the woman’s face that their noses grow to be less than an inch apart. “Now she knows how John’s going to feel” Alicia finalizes, shoving Jessica aside with one hand before leaving the room, leaving Jess alone with nothing more than her daughter and her belongings once Franklin leaves to go after her.
Left alone to wipe away the tears in silence, Jess takes a seat beside the bag and holds Amy in her arms, staring out into the vacant living room from her own room’s view, sat in silence. Reaching for the bag, Jess easily pulls the zipper the rest of the way shut now that the frustration has dwindled, leaving nothing remaining between herself and the door.