Laying still and full of vegetative life, the streets of the lesser-seen New York roadways remain buried beneath the growth that finds itself kicked up beneath the hurried boots of frantic survivors. “We’ve got to help her!” Salem shouts, trailing behind both John and Emilio as they rush Katie away from the compound. “There’s nothing we can do!” Emilio shouts, “Snake venom isn’t lethal alone, he must have mixed it with something!”
Grunting through exhaustion of carrying additional weight at the speed of an olympians run, John and Emilio turn down a branch covered road and fight through the fauna at the sight of a decrepit sign near its entrance. “Down here, find some place out of the way!” John orders, watching Salem and Troy rush from behind, outrunning them and looking through whatever they can see past for anything resembling a safe haven.
“There!” Salem shouts, pointing the group in the direction of an old bumper car station, decked on in beaten down, retro decor. “This place is a theme park!” Troy shouts, aiming his flashlight through the darkened, plant-covered environment as John and Emilio place Katie into one of the cars. Holding a bottle of water out towards the girl, John watches Emilio hold her hair back as she starts throwing up again, catching John’s eyes onto a curious patch on the back of her neck.
“Em!” John shouts, pointing towards the patch of red and white flakes that Emilio immediately takes major concern with. “What is it?” Salem asks, joining John in turning their focus towards a frustrated Emilio, who looks back to Katie, visibly sickened and worse for wear. “It’s anthrax. He dosed the venom with anthrax” Emilio replies, stunning both for a moment before their anger begins swelling. “That’s not totally fatal, right?” Troy asks, rejoining the group as his flashlight remains pointed outwards, scanning through the bramble.
“Not necessarily, but I’ve got no fucking clue what happens when you mix it with fuckin’ cobra venom!” Emilio replies, keeping one hand on Katie’s shoulder and the other over his eyes, keeping his view away from the sickening mixture being strewn onto the ground. “So what can we do?” John asks, looking towards Emilio battling through increasing emotions of distraught and concern. “Uh, fucking… fluids? Whatever water we’ve got or whatever we can get our hands on” Emilio replies, the dread showing up and bringing the group’s hope down, the fear of losing Katie to both the poison and the proceeding elements draining the life from the group.
“No, we’re not losing it now!” John shouts, demanding the group remain composed and optimistic. “Emilio, get the group on the talkie, tell them to bring water… lots of it” John says, looking towards Troy as Emilio begins to radio the group back home, watching the man with the flashlight become frozen in place, the light unwavering and locked forward. “Troy?” John calls out, catching the eye of the group as they notice him, unmoving and unresponsive.
“Troy?” John calls again, getting up and walking over to the man before he, himself, freezes in place, locking eyes with the light. “John?” Emilio asks, watching the man slowly turn towards the man and place his fingers to his lip, speaking slowly and calmly to the man. “Emilio, tell the group to get here as fast as they can, and tell them to bring guns” John says, worrying both Emilio and Salem, as they question what’s going on.
“John, what’s out there?” Salem asks, standing up as John waves his hand for her to stay in place, stopping her in her tracks as the three look on. “We’ve got a few friends here” John replies, turning his face back to the woods outside, where he and Troy lock eyes with a pack of coyotes leveled to the ground and frozen by the light, staring down the group as they respond with the same, standing off with each other over the grounds they both inhabit.
= 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 =
Walking through the front doors, taking in the chill of the air as the fall inches close enough to be right around the corner, Tyler marches through the main grounds and walks past groups of people having picnics and barbecues in what seems like a row of small gatherings. Near the end of the path, Tyler walks towards the front yards, just overlooking the main road and the river just beyond it, and notices the woman reading at the picnic table the same as she had the night he arrived at Sheol.
Stopping to admire her beauty, Tyler stands there with his hands tucked in his pockets watching her sit alone, each table surrounding hers being vacant in favor of the groupings just outside of the east wing. Taking in a breath, Tyler walks over to the table and politely asks if he could sit with her. “Not a fan of empty tables?” the woman replies, looking towards him with a curious smile. “I guess you can say that” Tyler replies, nerves showing as he momentarily struggles to meet her in conversation.
After a slight deliberation, the woman nods towards the other side of the table and watches Tyler take a seat opposite her. “Not a party guy?” the woman asks, dropping her eyes back towards her book. “I don’t really know anyone there” Tyler replies, “I don’t want to intrude.”
Chuckling, the woman looks up and tells Tyler that most of the people there didn’t know each other to begin with. “They all sort of found each other in here. One of the good things about the world ending” the woman replies, earning a smile from Tyler as she takes the conversation deeper. “I’m Angela” the woman says, holding her hand out and taking Tyler’s. “Where’d you come from, Tyler?”
“A little house a way out. My group went out there when our old camp fell” Tyler replies, catching Angela’s curiosity. “You seem confused?” Tyler asks, noticing the intrigue Angela takes in his words as a response foreign to those exposed to the world beyond. “Where did you come from?” Tyler asks, taking the confusion upon himself now. “I started here. I was visiting my dad when everything fell and I just never left” Angela replies, letting out a smile to relieve tension, only for her smile to be noticed by Tyler as having some hidden pain behind it.
“So you don’t know what it’s like out there?” Tyler asks, watching the woman become somewhat shy, looking towards the tabletop, shaking her head. “What’s it like?” Angela asks, noting that she’s only heard stories from a few people. “Well, it’s not pretty… At least not as pretty as you” Tyler replies, earning a momentary smirk from the woman, amused. “The roads are mostly grown over without people keeping up with them. Tougher terrain than usual, but it’s not the worst thing in the world.”
“What about the people?” Angela asks, “I haven’t heard too many good stories.” For a moment, Tyler thinks about the question in silence, remembering the humanity of his group and the seeming lack of it in others. “It’s a mixed bag sometimes” Tyler replies, folding his hands and leaning forward, thinking of the words as he goes along. “Sometimes you get people that want to help, and sometimes you get the ones that want to hurt. Sometimes you don’t get to notice until it’s too late.”
“Do people die a lot?” Angela asks, watching Tyler’s eyes lower as the small overlooking sadness brings a fainter tone to his reply. “Yeah” Tyler responds, “It’s pretty frequent.”
Without vocalizing it, Angela nods her head and remains mostly silent as the sound of the crackling fire and laughing children take the place of their words. “Do you-” Angela begins to say, only to be cut off as Tyler suddenly ducks a flying disk whirling towards him, crashing into the metal gate and ripping his attention from the conversation itself. “I’ll get it, you stay put” a woman orders near the main grounds to a group of children, walking over in the direction of the picnic tables.
Walking from his seat and picking up the disk, Tyler looks at it for a moment and swipes away a dirt of grass and dirt before turning around to the children. Doing so, Tyler stops in place as he looks at the woman walking up to retrieve the disk on the children’s behalf, stunned at who he finds. “Janice?” Tyler asks, genuinely as surprised as the woman, who looks towards Tyler with confusion, uttering his name in return as the children call for Janice to return.
Growling like the pack of dogs they line up like, the coyotes stare down both Troy and John, standing as their only blockade to the rest of the group. Drawing his gun, John takes aim at the animals and puts his finger to the trigger, ready to pull if necessary, following the coyotes with the barrel as Troy follows them with the light.
“You guys good back there?” John asks, the collected tone of his voice, refusing to acknowledge panic being a driving force in keeping the group focused on Katie’s illness. “She’s, uh” Emilio starts, carrying the weight of figuring out what to do with the realization that it may not matter if the wild animals decide to not waste any more time than they already have. “She’s not looking good” Emilio replies, looking into her eyes and noticing the blood-red color and lack of strength in them. “I don’t think she’s got much longer, John” Emilio says, looking around the tent at the sound of groans sounding less animal than those breathing down their necks.
Finally catching an eye on the entrance to the machine, Emilio notices a number of the undead growing within visibility, making their way for the group. “John, we’ve got another problem” Emilio says, prompting the man to turn and notice the undead growing closer. Calling Salem, John nods in her direction to allow her to slowly walk towards the undead and begin burying a blade in their heads. As the undead continue to pile up, they begin to start pushing Salem in, forcing their way through with sheer weight alone. “Salem?” the man holding a pack of coyotes at gunpoint calls out to little more than grunting.
Turning back to notice the woman become pinned to the ground by the final member of the undead crowd, John pulls his gun and draws it at the undead. From the pack, a lone coyote howls out and breaks into a sprint, leaping at the undead and tossing both itself and the corpse off Salem. Shocked at how fast everything unfolded, John switchees the aim of his gun between the coyote-undead fight and the pack behind him.
Ripping into the undead’s skull, the coyote brings it to death before staring down Salem again, watching the woman backed up against the ground slowly backing away from the thing as it sizes her up. “”Salem!” Emilio shouts, noticing the coyote readying itself to pounce, only for a gunshot to ring through the air and take the beast down, perhaps saving Salem in the process. From within one of the bumper cars, Katie drops the smoking gun and passes out whilst the pack collectively howls into the night.
“They’re gonna bring a fucking congregation of the dead here!” Troy shouts, drawing his pistol and taking aim at the pack, now marching forward as John and his group slowly retreat to keep the distance balanced. “She’s out!” Emilio shouts, checking for a pulse before picking Katie up with the help of Salem as the tires of a truck skid against the dirt just beyond the amusement park entrance. “Let’s go!” Jessica’s voice calls out from the truck, illuminating the overgrown area with the headlights.
“Run!” John orders, firing into the pack as Troy, Emilio and Salem rush away with Katie. Sending the sound of bullets whipping through the area, John takes down a few members of the pack before spotting another leaping towards him from the corner of his eye, ducking downwards to evade it at the last possible moment. Hurrying after the group, now packed into the back of the truck, John does his best to outrun the pack as the distance continues closing in.
Ripping through branches and overgrowth, John finds himself dancing with the wolves in the most near-literal sense just as one of the beasts begins catching up to him, looking to nip at his heels as he closes in on the truck. Blinded by the headlights, John just keeps running as he notices the barrel of a gun break through the middle, aimed directly at him. Without time to think, John keeps running as a bullet fires at his feet, sniping the animal in the face and saving John’s ass as he leaps into the passengers seat.
“Hold on tight!” Jess shouts, backing up the truck without hesitation and straightening out with the road, pausing for a moment as one of the few coyotes remaining leaps for the truck and slams into the door with comedic effect, before finally putting the vehicle in drive and speeding away from the newly reclaimed coyote den.
As he sits in the front seat, catching his breath and trading looks between his wife and the group, he notices Salem climb down from the roof with her rifle in hand. “Thank god for you, Salem” John remarks, gasping for air and putting a smile on the woman’s face as Emilio and Troy spike an IV for the now-unconscious woman.
“How-” Tyler begins, taking a seat opposite Janice and fighting past his urges to question the status of his reality. “How are you… here?” Tyler finally manages to push out, watching Janice look towards him and reply by noting that she could get away with asking the same question.
“I asked you first” Tyler replies, sinking into his seat and staring at the woman, making sure to maintain his sight on her in fear she’d disappear and he’d wake up from some weird dream. “Well, it’s all been a bit of a blur” Janice replies, leaning forward and looking towards the glass, pondering in her head with hopes of putting the pieces together. “After I left, I just started walking. I’d stop by a few places every now and then, but I wouldn’t stay long. Eventually, I walked into one little corner store and got my foot caught in a bear trap”
Rolling the leg of her pants up to reveal a healing tear into her flesh, Janice looks towards Tyler and watches his look of disgust, glancing at the wound finally starting to heal. “These guys came running around the corner, I don’t know what they were looking to find, but I wasn’t it” Janice continues, the leg of her pants rolling down as she sits back into his seat. “They took me here to get me patched up, and I didn’t really have some place to go back to. So I stayed.”
“That’s it? You just called this place home?” Tyler asks, curious and intrigued. “Well, unless Charlotte shows up and says she owns the place, I don’t see any reason to leave” the woman replies, the humor in her words accompanied by the slight belief that anything could be possible in the world around her.
“What about you?” the woman asks, unable to help but notice that he sits there alone. Hardly able to make much sense of the events of his capture, Tyler just tells his story as it is, leaving out the faulty prison-break attempt from John and the others. “And you just assumed it wasn’t that bad here?” Janice asks, catching Tyler by surprise, the man feeling as though her words hold more weight than what she’s letting on. “Why wouldn’t I?” Tyler asks, watching the woman smile and shrug, “no reason.”
“Hey, seriously? What are you talking about?” Tyler asks, leaning forward and looking Janice in the eye, watching her collection devolve into destain, taking annoyance to the consistent badgering of the man before her. “Have you forgotten about the whole ‘humans as currency’ thing? The fact that you’re worth the same to them as a five dollar bill was to anyone before this shit went down?”
Hard-pressed to find an adequate response, Tyler just shrugs and admits that he doesn’t know what to say. “People have their methods” the man admits, standing from his seat and walking over to the patio door to look out at the moonlight-illuminated river across the street. “But they didn’t kill me. They got nothing in return for me, and yet, they didn’t toss me away” Tyler continues, turning back towards Janice and taking a few steps in her direction, earning her attention from the corner of her eye.
“I mean, that’s gotta count for something, right?” Tyler asks, pausing for a second to wonder if he already knows the answer to his question deep down. Noticing the expression change in Tyler’s eyes, Janice places her glass down on the table and walks over to the man, telling him to look at her. “The only thing that matters is that you’re alive. You’re here, you have value to these people, and you’re alive. Anything less is fatal” Janice says, patting him on the shoulder and walking for the front door.
“What do you think of this place?” Tyler asks, prompting the woman to turn towards him, surprised and off-balanced by the question. “What part?” Janice replies, staring at Tyler as he takes in a breath and responds, “all of it.”
Walking away from the door, back to the man, Janice looks at him and takes her time responding. “The place? Beautiful. Has some weaknesses, but it’s largely good” Janice begins, tucking her hands into her pockets. “The people? Nice. Too good for the world out there, and most of them would be S.O.L if they had to confront it.”
Another moment paused, Janice looks to freeze over, appearing cold as she concludes her point. “Their little government?” Janice starts, taking her eyes from the wall behind Tyler to the man himself as she moves on. “I don’t trust them, and I’d be careful getting close to them.” Walking away and heading for the door, Tyler asks once why she believes it’s best to be careful getting too close to them. As she opens the door and walks onto the other side of it, Janice looks towards Tyler and answers one final question before wishing him good night and closing the door.
“I think there’s a lot that they don’t want most people to see. And if it needs to be kept secret, they’ll do what everyone else would… Go to whatever lengths necessary to keep it that way.”
Once closed, the hallway light from beneath the door allows Tyler to watch the outline of Janice’s feet walk away before he sinks onto the couch and looks around the room, wondering over to himself what potential truth behind Janice’s words may exist.
“Is she getting any better?” John asks, joining the group in the living room stood around Katie, spiked with whatever fluids they can get her and being monitored as best as they can. Being the closest the group has to a doctor, Cameron puts his finger to her wrist and notes a weak pulse that is at least steadier than before. “Whatever she drank may have damaged her internal organs, we just don’t know and we probably won’t until it’s too late if that is the case. So for now, we just need to make sure we’ve got an eye on her at all times.”
“Thanks, Cam” John replies, patting him on the shoulder before walking off into the home, aiming for the bedroom he shares with his wife before noticing Emilio stood at his window, looking out into the world just beyond. Walking up beside him, John joins Emilio’s watch party and silently stands beside him, finding a broken serenity in the silence.
Finally, Emilio and his folded arms break the silence with a collected tone, somewhat content and at peace upon first glance, “What next?” Rubbing his eyes before dropping his hands to his side, John keeps his eyes planted on the outside. “I don’t know” the man replies, not aware of Emilio shutting his eyes before taking a discernible breath mirroring that of exhaustion.
“I’m gonna need more than that” Emilio says, prompting John to defeatedly nod his head in reply. “I don’t have any more than that” John admits, again refusing to take his eyes away from the view as Emilio nods to himself.
Still refusing to say much more, Emilio and John return to the silence and keep watch, not breaking said silence for a few more minutes until Emilio does so once again. “That should have been me on that table, John.”
The words enough to depress him, John hangs his head in shame and replies under his breath, “But it’s not.” A brief chuckle to break the tension as the cool blue light from above illuminates them and not much else, Emilio looks to the man and tells him that this is how it is. “I keep wanting to not listen to him when he says we’ll get ourselves killed before we know where we’re going, but that’s not something I can do anymore after today.”
Finally removing his view from the window and placing it on the man, visibly distressed at having to confront his conflict, John watches and listens to the man as he airs his grievances. “We just risked our lives for someone who just showed us the door in return, got nothing out of it, forgot to even figure out where the bomb was because we were so caught up, and might have just gotten Katie killed for that big pile of bullshit. And had it not been for her, it would have been me on that bed for nothing.”
Swallowing the pride he has left, John begins to slowly accept the faults he’s made. “John… We’ve lost Shauna, we ran Reggie off, we ran Janice off, we got Tyler kidnapped, we burned a community down in the name of pointless war, and I can’t keep running like that. We’re gonna get ourselves slowly picked off, one-by-one, until we even figure out where the finish line is.”
After looking to each other for a moment, both men shake hands and embrace, with Emilio whispering to John, “I’m sorry” out of respect. Breaking the hug, Emilio pats John on the back and walks away, leaving the man to himself and look back out at the night sky.
Striking a match and lighting a cigarette up, Janice sits on the stairs outside the east wing and looks out at the glistening river and the empty main grounds. Before she can take a second drag of the smoke, Janice notices six men dressed in heavy black, three on each side of her, walking with her in their eyes. Realizing quickly that something’s off, Janice stands from her seat and takes aim at the men with a handgun, ordering them to stand down to no avail.
As the six men, without fear or concern, close in on the woman, she’s unable to fire even a single shot before she’s struck over the back of the head with a police baton and carried away, semi-conscious with her cigarette still tucked between her fingers and slowly slipping away.
Before long, things start to become visible for the woman, and the fuzzy sight of a bright light becomes enough to force her lunch out onto the floor. Helpless to do anything, she slowly realizes her wrists and her feet restrained against the heavy metal chair she sits atop. Ears ringing and everything else feeling numb and groggy, Janice comes to the understanding that she is completely alone, surrounded by no one as far as she can see and tortured by the burning light above.
As she struggles to battle the massive concussion-like symptoms, Janice tries desperately to shut her eyes and plunge herself into darkness enough to alleviate the immediate sickness. The attempt becomes futile, as she’s forced to open her eyes and do her best to defend against the individual she can audibly notice walk through the door and take a seat in front of her. As the light strikes her down again, this time a bit slower, Janice can notice a man with the name tag “Eddie” through the fuzzy picture her eyes do her no favors with.
“Wakey wakey, sunshine. You took one hell of a hit!” Eddie says, sitting back into his chair and crossing his legs, staring holes into the woman, clearly worse for wear. Awaiting a response, Eddie watches the woman empty her stomach onto the floor again, growing more aggravated by it, looking at it as if it was a sign of disrespect. “Don’t throw up again, that’s no way to treat a convoy leader” Eddie says, watching the woman stare him up and down before throwing up almost on purpose in a show of defiance.
Taking the showing as such, Eddie stands up and slaps Janice across the face, sending her hair over her eyes and knocking her for a loop once again. “You will listen to me when I tell you to do something” Eddie begins, only to be interrupted by the woman turning towards him and throwing up on his clothes, watching the vomit plop onto the ground with a wet smack. Fighting with his rage, Eddie walks out on the losing end as he draws his gun and puts it to Janice’s head, watching the woman with bags below her eyes stare at him, unmoved as Louis storms through the door and orders Eddie to lower the gun.
After a standoff with the man, Eddie does as told and returns his gun to his belt before bumping into Louis’ shoulder and walking back into the spectator area. Without words, Janice stares at Louis with gratitude before he, expression unchanged, retreats to the two-way mirror and leaves the door open.
Before long, Janice is met by another ranking member of the convoy, watching Tony himself take a seat opposite her. “You’ve made a bit of a mess here” the man mutters, looking at the woman, angered and ready to kill, and laughing to himself. “I’m sorry, miss” Tony replies, waving down the woman. “I’m just so confused as to why you’d be considered any kind of threat with that look!” he mocks, watching the woman turn away from him as he eases his amusement.
“Do you even know why you’re here?” Tony asks, watching the woman’s posture remain unmoved, taking the hint fairly quickly. “Fine, I’ll take the leisure of reading off your charges to you before the trial gets underway.”
Opening an envelope and removing a piece of paper from it, Tony is oblivious to Janice turning to look at him with a sour frown. “What are you talking about?” Janice asks, catching Tony’s eye. “The crimes you’ve been charged with committing?” Tony responds, putting a look of worry on Janice. “I haven’t committed any crimes” the woman replies, Tony returning his glance towards the list of charges.
“The poisoning of a Sheol officer and subsequent charge for his murder, treason against Sheol by the unlwaful permittance of uncleared personnel in the efforts of staging an uprising within the community, should I go on?”
Looking at the man, trying to clear the blurriness from her eyes, Janice stares with disbelief. “I didn’t do any of that!” the woman replies, fighting through the sickness to keep focused on the present. “It won’t matter when we put you on trial. Our jurors don’t exactly have a reputation for being forgiving. All we need is one person to put the blame on and you’re as relevant as a memory.”
“You’re going to frame me? Why?” the woman asks, the hurt in her voice masquerading the throw up threatening to rush up at any moment. “It’s actually quite simple, really” Tony says, leaning forward, folding his hands. “When we got a hold of you, you had no value to us. Nobody wanted you, and nobody cared. Now we need a fall guy to put a bit of shit on, and now we’ve found your worth.”
Tear running from her eye, Janice’s composure breaks, her sturdy appearance thrown by the wayside. “So you’re just gonna kill me? Throw me to the wolves for what, a few more days of your people believing their safety isn’t a sham?”
After a few seconds, Janice’s eyes widen and the realization boils over until it’s no longer containable. “You bugged Tyler’s room? You heard that I was suspicious of you so you’re trying to silence me!” Janice says, watching Tony face assure her beliefs. “You’re worried I’m gonna get the whole community to turn on you!” Janice proceeds, stopped by a singular finger raised into the air, hearing Tony correct her. “I was worried, and were going to, big difference” Tony says, watching the acceptance and denial dance a fight of fire and ice in her mind as her smile fades into a frown.
“I’m sorry, Janice. This just wasn’t your world to fight through” Tony apologizes, leaving the room and switching the light off, leaving Janice strapped to their chair and engulfed into darkness. Realizing these days as her final days, the understanding slowly looms over Janice, who cries to herself, surrounded by a pool of her own vomit, entrenched in the pitch black, waiting to meet her maker.