“Thank you” Alex replies, a tray of food taken from the hands of one hospital worker, her appreciation voiced through a concerned face. Flat shoes tapping across the linoleum floor, Alex leads herself and the breakfast tray toward the elevators, immersing herself within its metal walls, turning to face the lobby that vanishes behind its closing doors.
With a ding, Alex is returned to the hospital propper, a separate level being left for her to explore, head turning in each intended direction before it’s taken, the path already well-traveled. “Alexandra Morris” the woman remarks to a guard, who promptly steps aside to make room for the woman, the utterance of her name all that’s necessary to clear walkways.
Her hair bouncing with each step, Alex finally arrives at her destination, slowing herself at the doorway to one of the many rooms, its curtains drawn, submerged in a cold shadow. “Good morning” she calls out to the room with a bleak tone, her eldest daughter’s face peering back at her with a look of exhaustion. “Morning, mom” Jaime responds, leaning back in her chair and throwing her arms over her head, her muscles begging to be stretched.
Stepping inside, Alex places the tray along a wheel-assisted table, the platform eagerly rolled over to her daughter’s side. “It’s been a week and I’m tired of seeing you guzzle down vending machine bags of chips and cookies” the older woman explains, a warm smile on her face as she approaches the curtains, throwing them open to bathe the room in light, “it’s time we get things as close to normal as we can.”
Her head shaking, Jaime picks up a plastic force and tosses it beside the hospital bed, a scoff at her mother’s suggestion the only thing she offers at first. “That’s it?” Alex asks, her daughter gradually becoming more used to the sunlight as time progresses. “Lazarus doesn’t want me exposed to sniper fire” Jaime replies, leaving her mother unsure of whether or not the reply was a joke.
“Lazarus is not your mother” Alex responds, leaving Jaime to shake her head with a smirk, “besides, constantly protecting yourself from sniper fire isn’t normal?” With a deep sigh, Jaime sinks back into her chair, one leg kicked up beside her whilst the other lays on the floor. “I’m starting see why Jordan doesn’t like hearing about ‘normal this’ and ‘normal that’ twenty-four seven” Jaime replies, glancing back to her mother, the elder woman adamant in her position.
“What is that talk?” Alex responds, looking toward her daughter with a squint in her eye, “and why is it coming from the girl who wanted things to go back to normal just a few days ago?” Her head tilting forward, Jaime corrects her mother’s conclusion. “That’s Jordan’s wish, not mine” Jaime replies, the quick wave of her mother’s hand implying how little she believes that fact matters.
“Last time I checked, that monitor was still showing signs of life” Alex explains, Jordan’s comatose state being better than the alternative, “and since he took a bullet for you, it’s your responsibility to fight for what he can’t right now.” Taking in a deep huff, Jaime looks back toward her fiance, the man’s unresponsive body laid upon a bed, hooked up to seemingly every machine a hospital can afford.
“He’ll get better, right?” Jaime asks, her voice showing a lack of both hope and despair, just outright uncertainty presented to her mother, the older woman wearing a concerned frown. “He took a bullet to the chest a week ago and he’s still kicking” Alex responds, strolling up to her daughter’s side and looking down upon her wounded second half, “-he better.”
= Dire 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 1 onwards =
“How long do ‘visits’ usually last in your eyes?” the friendly drug store owner quips, stood on the patio of his shop with a cup of coffee in his hand, watching Chevy and Kayla emerge from their temporary hut with a warm smile. “Have we overstayed our welcome?” the bearded gentleman asks whilst his girlfriend tosses a bottle of headache relief back to its rightful owner, “thanks for the pills.”
“You’re welcome to stay as long as you please” the man replies, watching the man kiss his girlfriend on top of the head, splitting away from her to join the man inside his store. “Thanks for setting us up with beds, Cody. I don’t think I’ve expressed my appreciation enough” Chevy explains, the humble man telling him that he’s given plenty of thanks. Though he remains affable, the simple drug store owner’s mind travels to a much-needed question that lingers in his head.
“I really do need to ask how long you’re planning to stay here, though” Cody adds on, walking behind the counter as Chevy throws on a shirt, “not that I don’t want you here, but I want to know why you’re here.” Leaning against the counter, the visitor clarifies his understanding, a bob of his head finding equal ground. “I’m with a group out of Los Angeles” he begins, the store’s overseer immediately giving a chuckle, the reflection in his guest’s voice having given his point of origin away.
“You’ve got a real soft slide to the letter ‘r’” Cody explains, wagging his finger towards the man, “you gave it away the minute you said ‘fire’ back on your first night.” Hands to his sides, Chevy humorously gives the man his dues, the laughter subsiding before he continues. “My group’s taken the city over- people and all” he continues, the jump from one point to the next being quite a leap.
“You and your buddies took over one of the biggest cities in the United States?” Cody asks, a scrunched face from the man admitting partial accuracy. “It’s a long story, but in short, the people that took over got run out by the people in charge now- us” Chevy explains, the story being discussed as if it weren’t a big deal, “they left everything behind, we took over and the rest has been history.”
“That is a very simplified summation to describe an outright revolution with” Cody responds, a towel thrown over his shoulder as his coffee mug rests upon the wood-carved countertop. “Well, as evident by the fact that we approached your camp rather than ransack it- hostility isn’t the first approach” Chevy replies, the gentle host giving him an assured nod to continue, “we’re looking for everything we can to keep the city running.”
Letting a break of air leave through his nose, Cody pulls a chair up to the cash register and presses his elbow to the wooden surface, looking Chevy in the eyes. “How much do you know about the whitewash?” the well-spoken leader asks, Chevy quickly altering his expression, confused. “The what?” Chevy responds, hearing the question repeated. “The water poisoning? The whole catalyst for everything that’s happened?” the owner asks, nothing his guest can offer being anything other than old news.
“The people you took L.A from- they left in planes, right?” Cody wonders aloud, the accuracy of the man’s conclusions beginning to worry the visitor. “Don’t even bother answering, I can see it on your face” he remarks, a deep gasp of air leaving his lungs as Chevy looks for insight. “How much do you know?” Chevy wonders aloud, the question raised bringing a laugh over Cody, the humor felt deep within his core.
“Who’d you run out of town- the mayor?” Cody questions, quickly secured in his accuracy, “did you really think he’d just take off into the air without having a place he expected to land in?” Mouth agape, Chevy thinks to himself silently, hesitant to speak without sorting through his thoughts quietly. “This was government run, government overseen, government everything” Cody proclaims, hand chopping down on the wooden top, “did you expect them to not have a backup in case shit went belly-up?”
“Forget all of that- tell me what I’m not seeing” Chevy responds, cutting through the skin to get at the bone of the conversation. Feeling like there’s more to know than just what he’s seen thus far, “if we don’t know something, tell us what we need to know.” The joy being lost, Cody pulls back in his seat and looks Chevy in the eyes, the desire to know more than what he does as evident as something can be.
“How much has he said?” Jaime asks, walking step for step with Lazarus, the larger man answering every question in as few words as necessary. “Nothing about the shooting, just questions about food and bathroom use” Lazarus replies, the woman’s strong tone leading him to believe caution will be necessary for this interaction. “His name?” Jaime asks, the hairs on her arms and neck rising as she hears the answer, having wanted to know it since the shot was fired.
“Ryan Mulaney, ma’am” Lazarus responds, quickly adding all he’s been able to gather, “his old occupation isn’t listed in any files, and he’s been working as a plumber since the catalyst.” With a nod, Jaime turns toward the only door keeping her from the same room as her fiance’s attempted assassin, her massive security detail holding out a pair of gloves for her, expecting to see the worst of the encounter.
“Knock when you’re ready to leave” Lazarus informs the woman, a speechless nod coming from the acting leader of Los Angeles, her hand pushing the unlocked door in, granting her entry. Stood a few feet within the room, Jaime looks toward a newly-set up wooden table in the middle of the room, one light dangling from the ceiling as the entrance shuts behind her.
“Go ahead” Ryan calls out from within the room, his eyes peering toward the girl, cuffed hands chained to the floor. “What?” Jaime asks in a hushed tone, the inmate’s moody response repeating his original statement. “Go ahead- kill me” Ryan replies, his head leant towards the ground, hair covering the majority of his face whilst the girl stands at the forefront of the room, looking at him with ever-increasing rage.
Silent enough to hear a pin drop from the adjacent room through the concrete walls between them, Jaime’s breaths become more noticeable than perhaps ever before, each gust of wind that leaves her lungs emerging with a hum, tossing her hair a few inches forward. “Why?” Jaime asks, watching the man glance at her with a confused glare, curious as to what she’s inquiring over. “Why what?” Ryan asks, his question quickly answered by the new world’s most-prominent figure.
“Why do you want me to kill you?” Jaime asks, Ryan’s lean back suggesting he expected the question to be worded differently, his subtle shake of refusal preceding an answer. “Who says I want you to kill me?” Ryan asks, the girl quickly capitalizing on his second question, the reading of his posture accurate to a tee as far as the imprisoned man is concerned.
“Because your eyes are scared. Your pupils are dilated and your hands are trembling” Jaime responds, a shrug of her shoulder accompanying her cold, harsh tone, “you don’t want to die, but you want me to kill you. So, why?” Swallowing a wad of spit, Ryan shakes his head at the woman, refusing to indulge her profile. “You want to kill me, so do it. Shoot me point-blank” Ryan replies, overcome with emotion for a moment, a gasp of air shooting through his mouth.
“You’re afraid of what else I could do to you” Jaime responds, Ryan’s tension too great to overcome, the young man turning away from the woman, unable to look her in the eyes. “You’re a junkie” Jaime quickly notices, the half-hearted glance back toward the woman suggesting she’d finally found the first thread of his true backstory. “That was what you did before the catalyst. You were a dealer, weren’t you?” Jaime asks, Ryan quick to jab back.
“What does it matter?” Ryan asks, Jaime’s tone rising to meet his each time necessary, her eyes straight, the scowl she gives the man suggesting truly devious intentions. “I’ll determine that when I’m good and ready to” she replies, her hand reaching out toward the man’s face, fingers latching onto his chin and pulling his face toward her own, “you were a dealer, right?”
“Stop” Ryan growls, pulling his face away, Jaime’s efforts only continuing to persist. “I said ‘stop’!” Ryan shouts, finally turning back toward the woman, who jumps back at this display. “Kill me or get out!” he finally shouts, his face now fully exposed to the woman, deep bags formed beneath his eyes with yellow teeth to match.
Lips curling to the side, Jaime looks over the man, her head leaning to one shoulder before glancing to the window, a nod toward the man outside making her orders clear. “Get Julia” she orders, two light taps on the glass proceeding, her face turning back toward the prisoner once the knock is given. “We’ll get you talking” Jaime mutters to herself, face still carrying the slight resemblance of rage whilst Ryan drops back into his chair.
“Creeping around?” Chris asks, rounding the corner to find Alex standing beside one of the many windows that line the building, “don’t worry, I won’t snitch.” With a laugh, the mother explains herself whilst the practicing doctor walks up to the window she stands beside, seeing Kennedy and Amelia sat in the same bed and sharing a book. “I see we weren’t invited to story time” Chris muses, earning another laugh as the pair watch Amelia continue to read aloud whilst Kennedy listens quietly.
“Kennedy always used to hate reading for school” Alex recalls, Chris pressing his shoulder against the support divider as she speaks, “she’d take the books we’d have to get for summer reading and bury them in the backyard.” With a smile, Chris voices a disinterest for reading he shares with the girl, always having wanted to spend summer vacations outside rather than indoors.
“You may miss being young when you’re grown up, but then you begin appreciating things like air conditioning” Chris jokes, glancing back toward the room, “I think it’s a pretty good trade off.” Folding her arms against her chest, Alex continues to watch her daughter lose track of time in the story, her ease to just settle in for the day being a welcomed sight. “You have any kids?” Alex asks, a breathy Chris shaking his head in refusal.
“No, Julia and I never had much of a childhood outside of studying” Chris responds with a shrug, “can’t have time for relationships when your face is always buried in a textbook. “Then- when we went to med school- that gave us even less time to live actual lives. Now we’re here” Chris explains, both arms spread to illustrate the size of their hospital, “three years removed from our educations and stuck in a post-modern dystopia!”
“I bet that’s just what you expected” Alex returns, a bombastic Chris giving her a shrug. “I would’ve expected the bonus to be a little better I suppose” the man admits, the corner of his lip arched, “this whole thing- it’s a bit much.” Continuing to nod, Alex joins Chris in looking back into the room, Kennedy jolting out of the bed and walking to the other side, her hand reaching out for a still-charging talkie.
“It sounds like we’re getting a message in a bottle” Chris remarks, moving aside to allow Alex entry into the room, promising to catch up with her later. “What is it, Ken?” Alex calls out, Chevy’s voice appearing through the radio before Kennedy can have a chance to answer. Reaching down, Alex retrieves the device and holds it to the side of her face, calling Chevy’s name and introducing herself.
“Alex- where’s Jaime?” the man asks, an uncertain glare coming over her face, looking toward either of the girls for an answer. “I think I heard Lazarus say she was going to the dungeons a little while ago” Amelia answers, Alex’s finger still pressing down on the receiver. “The dungeons?” Chevy repeats, Alex asking as to what he’s going on about, though the unsettled tone in his voice suggests it’s less than flattering.
Opening the interrogation room door, Jaime allows Julia to wheel in a cart full of prescription drugs, the sight prompting Ryan’s head to lift from behind his arms just slightly, its occurrence noticeable enough to both women. “Seller or user doesn’t really matter- it’s pretty easy to see you’ve dabbled at the very least” Jaime explains, the quivering lip on Ryan’s mouth giving Julia the insight needed to make an already-obvious conclusion.
“You’re going through withdrawals” Julia remarks whilst Jaime turns toward the man with an enthusiastic eyebrow raised, “that means you’ve been using within the last two weeks.” Tucking her hands behind her back as to keep herself from wrapping her fingers around the man’s throat, Jaime approaches the table, her lips puckered as she stands before her fiance’s attempted killer.
“Where’ve you been getting your fix?” Jaime asks, the question prompting the man to look to the side, his head shaking without the words to express himself. “You’re not getting out of here, Ryan. You’re not leaving this room and no one’s entering this room” Julia exclaims, a statement Jamie finds an easy way to exploit. “Which also means that whoever you happen to give up won't have the means to reach you” she adds, the man’s eyes subtly turning back to her.
“Where’d you get the drugs, Ryan?” Jamie proceeds to whisper, both hands unclasped from behind her back, now pressing down upon the edges of the table. Lip still quivering, Ryan looks the woman in the eyes, her face covered in a shadow as she leans beneath the overhead lamp, her long blonde locks shining. Glancing at Jaime’s arms, Ryan notices the grip she keeps on the table, her voice speaking with a calm tone, but her body noticeably carrying a heavy tension.
“No one” Ryan whispers, his hair blown away from the sides of his face by the gust of air leaving Jaime’s nose, her hands clenching to the ends of the table, her scowl staring death into his eyes. Biting into her bottom lip, Jaime pushes herself away from the metal surface, approaching Julia’s cart with one hand tucked behind her back, the other held in full view, each finger wavering through the air.
“Is this why you wont kill me?” Ryan asks, his words coming off heavily-pushed by fear, voice breaking with each hard consonant sound, “because you want me to help you find some rando dealing your drugs?” Lips puckered, Jaime turns toward Ryan, her head shifting over her shoulder, eyes locking onto his own. “Why are you so convinced that I’m going to kill you?” Jaime asks, a visibly disapproving Ryan shaking his head as he looks away.
“That’s what people like you do, isn’t it?” the man asks, catching Jaime by surprise, the woman standing in place to allow the man to continue talking, “you make people believe you know how to fix the world, but you just press them between your fingers to keep yourself in power.” Cracking a smile, Jaime lets out a laugh, walking to the side of the room and dragging a chair a few feet within the handcuffed man, dropping herself into the seat without care.
“I think you have me mistaken for a dictator” Jaime replies, her genuine response laughed at by Ryan, his head shaking profusely. “No, no- I have you for a villain” he responds, the woman’s eyes clenching as her smile remains, obvious intrigue in where the man is directing this conversation now fully intact. “You think you have the answers, but you’re really just as clueless as the rest of us” Ryan explains, disgusted at the presentation Jaime has offered him.
“You’re the kind of person to nail Jesus to a cross, let him rot, and convince the crowd to cheer” Ryan continues, his hairs swinging as his head shakes, “you’re just a sheep convincing everyone you know how to herd them.” Pressing her lips together, Jaime folds her arms and shakes her head, dissatisfied with the man’s response.
“Convincing or not, I am the herder of these ‘sheep’ no matter how much you like it” Jaime replies, her words expressed with precision, “making an attempt on my life gives me the authority to punish you in whatever way I fucking please.” Pulling himself up, Ryan remains silent, his back falling into the grooves of his chair, ears listening closely.
“You nearly killed my fiance, and now you sit here convincing yourself that you occupy a higher pillar than I do” Jaime explains, leaning closer to the man than she once had been, “you’re scum like all the rest of us.” Nostrils flaring, Ryan nods at the woman’s response, shaking his head up and down, agreeing with her statements. “You’re right, I am scum” Ryan responds, leaving his seat and getting as close to Jaime as the chains will allow him to be, “but I’m no liar.”
“Oh yeah, is that so?” Jaime wonders aloud, her lips puckered and head becking, “what am I lying about?” Quick to entertain the woman, Ryan answers her request, only speaking more as Jaime’s face devolves, her sour expression deepening with every word he utters.
“You have no idea how to lead these people apart from all these ‘feel-good’ speeches and empty promises” Ryan replies, lip arched, “you haven’t even figured out the first clue to it.” Throwing her hands out, Jaime welcomes the man to inform her, a gesture that Ryan gladly takes for all it’s worth.
“You get two choices, no more and no less. Lead with a velvet glove, or lead with an iron fist” Ryan continues, taking glee in hearing himself talk, “you don’t have the composure for one, and you don’t have the stomach for the other.” Seething, Jaime lets the man continue to pleasure himself, her rage building with each added ounce of pressure her hands use to clench, a knock at the window keeping the issue from escalating to the point of no return.
“I’ll talk to you soon” Chevy responds, Jaime’s voice reverberating through the radio as their conversation ends, Kayla quickly strolling up to her boyfriend upon its conclusion. “Was that Jaime?” the woman asks, a startled Chevy at his own ease to scare, rubbing his arm as he answers in kind. “Kay, I have to tell you something” Chevy admits, pulling himself out of bed and closing the door to their quarters, Kayla becoming put off by the vague intent offered.
“You sound scared” Kayla replies, her boyfriend looking toward her, stopped where he last stepped, gingerly nodding to the girl’s discovery. “Yeah, I am” Chevy responds, returning to their bed and taking the woman’s hands into his own, both sitting upon the thin mattress. “I was talking to Cody about the trade post earlier- and if I’m being honest- I left with a little bit more than I was expecting to” Chevy explains, Kayla’s shaking head implying a patient wait for details.
“The catalyst, or ‘the whitewash’ as they call it, doesn’t seem like a ‘California-exclusive’ thing” Chevy admits, Kayla’s lips parting as the assumption she’d come to leave room for becomes apparent. “What’s left?” Kayla asks, already assuming the government to be in turmoil, the downfall of society having progressed measures further than they had expected.
“Not much, honestly” Chevy replies, the unpleasant news inevitably accompanying some even less pleasant. “The water sources have been so badly polluted that- without something to clean it- the water there is just plain lethal” Chevy responds, swallowing his pride, “but the water reserves aren’t the main issue.”
Reaching beneath their bed, Chevy pulls out a map, the unfolding of it revealing a heavily-marked picture of the continental United States, colorful lines drawn all over. “Looting, fires, rebellion, you name it- some places have been destroyed, others have been taken over, some are just straight up ghost towns” he explains, a finger placed upon the outline of Michigan, “Detroit is fucking gone. Not a damn thing’s left, it’s been fucking leveled.”
At a loss for words, Kayla reads the map quickly and turns back to her boyfriend, confused as to how any of this changes what they’ve been doing. “We expected this, right? When Wenton left, we just assumed everything fell” Kayla replies, her follow-up completely disregarded, Chevy’s finger lifted into the air as he shakes his head. “Not everything fell” Chevy responds, his finger dropping upon the outline of Colorado.
“The military for one, the government for another- They saved their own asses before D.C could fall” Chevy explains, the tip of his finger specifically resting near Colorado Springs, “they’re governing from a bunker in the mountains.” Confused, Kayla passes a glance at her boyfriend before reading back into the map, some declarations making sense whilst others don’t appear to line up.
“Are you saying the government is still around?” Kayla asks, a shrug from Chevy being the best offer her can give. “Wenton went somewhere, and Cody is adamant that the ‘somewhere’ is here” Chevy replies, pointing back to the outline, an uncertainty looming over every detail offered. “Well, who’s left from the government then?” Kayla wonders aloud, Chevy still without a reasonable answer, the only conclusion he can draw being what could be led from the worst scenario.
“If there are some stragglers, the worst they can do is hide out for the rest of their days” Chevy explains, his greater concern left ahead, “but if the president, senate, house, gubernatorial staff are the ones leading this, they’ll want the whole fucking thing back.” Eyes wide, Kayla looks back to the man, the reign of any establishment taken over from the same system responsible for the catalyst threatened by the powerful hand supposedly lying low within the hills.
“Chevy, it’s not hard to imagine, but-” Kayla begins, squinting at the map to find something worth returning to, unable to uncover any such thing, “-what would they have to come back to?” Admittedly struggling to find an answer, Chevy shakes his head at a loss, trying to answer to the best his mind can theorize.
“Well I’m sure they won’t have much of a hard time reclaiming their territory. If anything, it’s what they do to build it back that’s up for speculation” Chevy admits, “but the point isn’t how they’ll take the cities that fell back, it’s how they’ll take Los Angeles back.” Pressing her teeth together, Kayla drops her head into her hand, trying to see a reason to take one side of the coin seriously when the opposite face displays something difficult to take at its value.
“Wenton left real easily. I know we both expected more of a fight, but what we got was- simple” Chevy adds, “I’m not saying I buy all of this either, but I’m positive he was going somewhere. Even if they’re not still around, the idea that they’re still out there isn’t that far of a stretch.” Continuing to stare at the map, Kayla’s lips finally close as her head turns to the man beside her, trying to follow his line of thought and allow that to dictate her outlook.
“If that’s true- and they made it to Colorado- it could only be a matter of time before they come back for L.A” Chevy concludes, coming around to his point, not falling short of painting the conclusion as an unpleasant future, “if that happens- Jaime falls, L.A crumbles, and we’re all sent to the slaughterhouse.”
Her face easing, Kayla looks into the man’s eyes to see an honest belief, not wanting to fully admit it and risk sounding insane, but having bought into the theory that the city they’d fought so hard to restore order to has been set on a timer.
== Dire ==