Descending upon Lee’s camp, Lou and Marta hoist their belongings in the air, their hands raised toward the moonlit sky. As they step through the trees, many of the camp’s residents take notice of their return, the hoisted-weapon display keeping suspicions at bay. “How’d the trip go?” Ned inquires, stood against the wooden supports of a nearby home amidst its construction, a steaming plate with a few scoops of corn carried in his hand.
“She killed one of the dead, figured out the cloak-method, and learned how to start a fire” Lou replies, allowing an earned smile to cover his face, “not a bad day, if I do say so.” Impressed, Ned nods at Marta while another scoop of piping-hot corn travels down his throat. “You’re doing well, keep it up” Ned remarks as he drags his spoon over the plate, shovelling the last bit of corn between his teeth.
“How’re the rest of them?” Lou inquires, throwing his rifle over his shoulder once more as Ned’s eyes roll. “In Theo’s own words, Sebastian’s obnoxiously docile, Adrian’s strangely adapt, and the father-daughter pair are annoying and stupid” Ned responds, jutting his shoulders upwards, “I doubt he’s impressed.”
Bowing his head, Lou turns back for the communal tent, “thanks, Ned” he mumbles amid his departure.
“Where have you been!?” Sebastian exclaims, tossing an open book in his hands to the ground as both Lou and Marta step through the vestibule. “We’ve been training” Lou replies casually strolling up to his sleeping bag without another word. “You’ve been gone since yesterday morning!” Rudy angrily shouts, joining Sebastian in confronting their handicapped friend.
“Yes, we have. And now she knows how to make a fire and find shelter to sleep in during the night” Lou responds, clamping a padlock over the pouch of his bag, “you’re welcome.” His arm tugged at by Sonya, Rudy follows the girl back to their section of the tent until a question presents itself suddenly, his arm pulling from Sonya’s grasp as his body turns to Lou. “Where’s Courtney gone, then?” Rudy inquires, watching Lou’s eyes take back to him, “was she on your ‘training mission’ too?”
Confused, Lou’s head begins shaking before the answer leaves his mouth. “No, it’s been Marta and I since we left” Lou replies, as answerless as those around him, “I didn’t know she left the camp.” Momentarily inquisitive, Lou returns to his unpacking, quickly putting aside his curiosities. “That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” Rudy responds, his voice kept from rising any further than a normal octave, it’s vibrato backed with anger nonetheless.
“What else would I have to say, Rudy?” Lou replies, knelt on the ground as he covers his rifle with the pair of padlocked knapsacks, “she didn’t tell me about this- I’ve got no involvement in whatever she chose to go off to.” Gritting his teeth, Rudy ardently points his finger at Lou, unable to unleash his frustrations upon a man he knows is correct in his assertions.
“Damnit!” Rudy finally shouts, turning back to his bag whilst the group looks on in silence. Throwing himself to his knees, Rudy ruffles through a small burlap sack as the eyes around him stare with confusion. “What are you doing, Rudy?” Lou asks in an exhausted tone, the only resident willing to speak up. “I’m going back to the fucking cabin” Rudy responds, earning a drawn-out groan from those around him.
“Do the rest of you want to stick around here being fed scraps!?” Rudy shouts, his wide eyes as loud as the demeaning tone he speaks with, “we had a good life, and I’m not giving up on it!” While those around him try to speak sense into Rudy, Lou begins to chuckle, taking humour in Rudy’s claims as he shakes his head. “These guys know where we are now, Rudy- if we could go back safely, we would have done so yesterday!” Sebastian explains, again being met with refusal.
“They can come with all the men they want! This isn’t the world I’m gonna live in!” Rudy exclaims, shoving Sebastian away as the man reaches out for him. “Dad, you need to stop this” Sonya explains, a much calmer voice taken by the younger woman. “Honey, this isn’t our world” Rudy explains, a much softer voice put while he quells his daughter’s worries, “we don’t need this world, we can-”
With a quick turn, Rudy becomes enraged once more, listening to Lou’s overbearing laughter interrupt him, offended by the amusement their young friend takes. “You find this funny?” Rudy challenges, watching Lou take a seat in his sleeping bag, his arm laid over his bent knee. “No, I find it incredibly ironic” Lou replies, staring Rudy in the eyes, “I’m refusing to get attached to any of you, and yet, here you are, Rudy- reminding me of my greatest failure.”
“What the hell are you going on about?” Rudy responds, marching across the tent until he reaches Lou’s feet, staring down at the man with glaring eyes. His head shaking as the laughter dies, Lou turns the knob on his nearby lantern, bathing his face in a yellow glow. “I once knew a guy who couldn’t accept this world- wanted nothing to do with it, and refused to accept it for what it was” Lou explains, meeting Rudy’s eyes, “he ended up heading down the same path I see you touring, old man.”
Pushed past his breaking point, Rudy reaches down to Lou’s coat and wraps his fingers around the collar, yanking the younger man to his feet with ease. His hand slapping at Rudy’s wrists. Lou swipes at Rudy’s chest and sweeps one leg out from beneath him, sending the bitter man to the ground with a thud. Groaning, Rudy drags himself away from the less-enthused man, crawling along the ground until comfortable with the distance created.
A displeased look on his face, Lou now stares down at Rudy, speaking with a strictly composed tone as he slowly steps closer toward the man. “He started becoming comfortable with this world, but I don’t think he ever truly could accept what it was” Lou recalls, stuffing his hand into the pocket on his side, “and when I let the zombies in the gym free, it took him sacrificing himself for me to leave alive.”
Kept silent, the group watches on, too engrossed by the conversation being had to interfere. “But go ahead, be everyone’s guest and run back to the cabin, hide away from the world until it kills you. I’m not going to stop you” Lou explains, readjusting course by turning back to his belongings, where he takes them over his shoulder and prepares to leave, “I just hope you know the track record for people like you isn’t very favourable.”
Their fellow survivor departing with that message, the group remains silent, thinking quietly amongst themselves whilst Rudy stares on, unphased by Lou’s recollection.
= RISE and REVOLT is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series from Season 1 onwards belong to Zachary Serra and his entity of Pacer1 =
“Did you get any sleep last night?” Theo wonders curiously as Lou fastens the laces of his boots. “I closed my eyes for a few minutes, if that’s what you’re asking” Lou replies, flashing Theo a grin as his fingers part, pulling the knot into place. “It wasn’t, but I’ll take that answer” Theo responds, rubbing the back of his head as he forces himself out of bed, letting his feet fall off the elevated mattress as the sky begins to lighten, dark rain clouds cast across the sky.
“You going with Marta again today?” Theo wonders aloud, still trying to fully emerge from the prior night’s sleep. “No, I think it’s gonna rain for a bit” Lou replies, removing the padlocks from his bag, “she’s gotten a lot done these last few days. I think she’s earned a day off.” Reaching to the ground for his clothes, Theo directs the conversion elsewhere. “So what was it? A fight?” Theo inquires, watching Lou’s eyes confusedly squint in his direction, “you came here to sleep for a reason.”
His chin lowered, Lou gathers his thoughts whilst limbering up, “it’s taking some of them time to get used to- well, everything” Lou responds, feeling the knots in his back pop with satisfying ease, “it can be a little much to be around.” Rolling one of his socks, Theo gives his friend a nod. “I can’t exactly say I’m fond of them” Theo admits, viewed through the corner of Lou’s eye, “Courtney seems to handle herself, and Marta wants to learn- But, I’m not sure about the rest.”
Letting out a laugh through his nose, Lou plants one knee on the ground whilst extending the other. “Did you want all of this when everything first went down?” Lou replies, genuinely curious in the answer, “it didn’t take me long to warm up to it, but I definitely wasn’t excited when it all first came around.” Preparing to fit the second sock over his foot, Theo offers his own perspective.
“There’s a difference. We were starting from scratch just like everyone else” Theo responds, reaching out for a pair of sweatpants, “they’re lagging behind. And to make matters worse, the old one throws fits like a child.” His head down, Lou subtly nods to himself, rising from his stretch as he reaches for his coat. “It’ll take them time, but they’ll get there. The two of us did, they’ll be no different” Lou replies, preparing to leave until Theo’s voice ushers him back.
“How can you know that for sure?” Theo responds, crossing his arms as he leans forward, both elbows pressing against his thighs. “Because I’ve seen people hesitant to accept all of this grow to do so over time” Lou replies, his eyes falling slightly, “and had it not been for me, he’d probably still be here right now.” Clearing his throat, Lou throws the coat over his body, it’s left arm purposefully cut at the elbow.
“It’s the same reason I know you and Lee can make this camp a permanent solution” Lou explains, preparing to leave through the vestibule, “had I made different decisions, Ally and I would probably still be with everyone else at the school right now.” His boots hitting solid ground, Lou begins walking toward the treeline as his hand guides the coat’s hood over his head, a familiar voice calling out for his attention from afar.
“Lou!” Marta exclaims, quickly catching up to the surprised man’s side. “I told you we were taking the day off, right?” Lou questions, an inquiry Marta refuses to take as fact. “You don’t take days off, so neither will I” Marta responds, her hair fixed into a ponytail, which she intelligently conceals beneath a cotton beanie, “after all, there’s no such thing as a day off when the dead roam the streets, right?”
Pleased to see the woman’s readiness, Lou’s curiosities only grow. “Is this about survival, or is this about me?” Lou replies, unable to contain a smirk from his face. “That doesn’t matter, does it?” Marta responds, finding her own refusal to answer amusing. “Are we gonna get going now, or what?” Marta poses, looking Lou in the eyes as she strolls backwards, eager to start their travels.
“Because this is how we survive” Courtney’s television murmurs through the living room, “we tell ourselves- that we are the walking dead.” Lowering her potato peeler to the kitchen counter, Courtney takes the remote and powers the tube television down, continuing to run her faucet over a strainer filled with shaven vegetables. The warm water continuing to run over her hands, Courtney’s ears take to the distance, a faint rumbling capturing her undivided attention.
Slamming the faucet handle down, Courtney stands in the silence for a brief few seconds, listening to the same rumbles she’d come to anticipate. In a split moment, Courtney wipes her hands on a towel and hurries for the second level of her cosy home, skipping one step at a time amidst her ascent. Dashing through a dimly lit hallway, Courtney enters a small room at the corridor’s farthest point, letting its lightless interior surround her as she steps inside.
Leant against the wall, a sniper rifle waits for her touch, it’s barrel facing the ceiling until her damp hands wrap around its grip. Placing her eye to the scope, Courtney gazes toward the waterfront in the distance, watching a black speed boat dash across the channel, its curved base soaring toward her coastline. Focusing on the pale faces of the men aboard, Courtney breathes a sigh of relief.
“I’d prefer it if we didn’t break her shit, Jae” a man with rugged facial hair groans, his hair dampened by the sparse rainfall the heavens bring down. “You’re a day late” Courtney proclaims, stepping onto her front porch with a smile, an equally friendly expression worn on both men’s faces. “We can talk about the transaction later” Courtney declares after a few lighthearted seconds, “the two of you are late for dinner.”
“So you came out here for a beach day?” Marta jokes with a whisper, her gore-covered jacket conveniently hidden beneath a heavy winter coat. “I guess you can look at it like that, sure” Lou replies, pausing his response as they stroll past a straggling undead, “I used to do it a fair bit before I started walking for the mountains.”
“Why?” Marta responds, her face painted a faint red from the cold. “When the boat my friends and I were on went down, we got separated. They got off on a boat before I’d even hit the water” Lou explains, his hair dampened by the falling rain, “Unless they landed in northern Washington, or kept using the boat, it should be around here somewhere.”
Her eyes squinted, Marta looks at Lou with curiosity, surprised to find his unchanged expression, honestly confident in his belief. “Don’t you think that’s a little bit of a stretch?” Marta replies, watching the look on Lou’s face meet her with equal allure, “no, why?” Her stupefaction greater, Marta turns her head away with no answer, a response that drives Lou’s fascination deeper.
“Is something wrong?” Lou inquires, watching Marta’s face turn toward him once more. “It’s been two months, Lou” Marta responds, her tone almost carrying disappointment, “do you really think you’re just gonna find a boat, a perfectly operational boat, left on the beach untouched?” Preparing to speak, Lou asks the same question to himself, the doubt he allows to creep in leading his mouth to slowly shut once more, his face holding the same disappointed look Marta had held.
“You’re right” Lou replies, letting a sigh leave his lips, “it could have worked two months ago, but now- not so much.” With a frown, Marta watches the acceptance come over Lou’s face, his disheartened eyes only disappointing her more.
Reaching cover just as the rain begins to come down heavily, Lou follows Marta through the boarded doors of a local high school gymnasium, their clothes drenched in rain water. “I assume we’re camping here until the storm passes?” Marta asks, throwing her coat off as Lou presses his hand to his knee, hunched over as the water drips from his hair. “I did tell you we were taking the day off for a reason” Lou responds, following the woman’s coat-removing suit.
Ruffling her hair, Marta walks along the hardwood court, her shoes squealing as if she were playing basketball. “We should figure out where we are” Lou remarks, pulling two large flashlights from his prosthetic case, “maybe find somewhere safe to spend the night.” Shining the light throughout the sizable venue, Lou and Marta discover two separate corridors waiting for them, a sight the pair immediately recognize the significance of.
“We’re about the be the dumb white people from the movies, aren’t we?” Marta ponders, watching the grin emerge across Lou’s face. “You’ve got your corpse jacket on, so you shouldn’t have to fear the dead as long as you blend in” Lou explains, his hand resting on the small of Marta’s back, palm pressing upon the handgun concealed beneath her shirt, “and if worse comes to worse, you’ve got nine bullets to rely on.”
With an uncertain look, Marta nods in agreement, her sights set upon the most distant corridor. “I’ll take that one” Marta says, her hesitant voice concerning the man beside her. “If you don’t want to go alone, I’m not going to make you” Lou restates, looking the woman in the eyes, “just say the word, and we’ll search them one at a time.”
Her confidence building, Marta shakes her head, throwing her eyes back toward the distant set of doors. “No” Marta replies, sucking in a deep breath, “I can do this.” Meeting the woman’s eyes once again, finding a baffling conviction staring back at him. “Yes, you can” Lou supportingly responds, unable to hide the smile her tenacity brings upon him.
“I can’t wrap my mind around why all of you are so eager to move on!” Rudy remarks, grasping at every tree trunk he passes. “We’re not eager to move on, we’re just not denying what’s right in front of us” Sebastian replies, following behind Adrian, who himself, follows behind Sonya. “And you think what’s right in front of us is worth living in?” Rudy responds, each question coming off with scathing hostility, “I can’t think of a worse world to live in!”
“What? You can’t think of a world with war?” Adrian mockingly replies, prompting the bitter man at the helm of the journey to stop in his tracks, turning back toward Adrian with a disgusted expression. “What the hell did you say to me?” Rudy challenges, climbing back toward an unperturbed Adrian, who leans against a thin tree, “I don’t need to be hearing anything from a killer like you- you’re lucky to even be alive!”
“Rudy, you need to calm down” Sebastian calmly remarks, joining the older man in Adrian’s presence. “Don’t tell me what I need, Sebastian- you’re not in charge here” Rudy responds, the ire he draws from Adrian now consistent. “Neither are you, Rudy” Adrian quickly replies, both hands coupled at his lap, his tone strict, “now get out of my face before I put you in the ground.”
“Oh, is that what you’re gonna do?” Rudy responds, lowering his face closer toward Adrian’s own, daring the comparably younger man to follow through on his word. His nostrils flaring, Adrian stares Rudy in the eyes before throwing his elbow out, popping the aggrieved man’s chin as his arm collides with the man’s face. Toppling over, Rudy’s body hitting the snow only leaves Adrian wanting more.
Throwing himself after Rudy, Adrian begins to swing at the older man’s face until Sebastian and Sonya manage to pull him away, both equally unsurprised with the altercation’s result. “You’re fucking crazy!” Rudy shouts, tending to the cuts over the bridge of his nose and his bottom lip. “No, you’re crazy!” Adrian shouts, adjusting the wet shoulders of his brown leather coat, “you don’t fucking get it! None of you fucking get it!”
Gasping for breath, Adrian hangs his head, letting the rain drench his hair as Rudy remains laid in the snow, listening to Adrian’s exasperated retort. “We’re all at war” Adrian mumbles, shaking the bruised hand he used to strike upon Rudy, “I realised when I was in the freezer that, no matter what we did before the dead came, all that we’re left to do- is fight them. No more, no less- we fight, or we die.”
Still fighting to catch his breath, Adrian stares at the three survivors before him, their collective silence leaving the air for him to fill. “Everyone with a pulse is trying to fight anything without one. And either we win, or the dead win. Now go ahead and tell me that doesn’t sound like the simplest way of defining ‘war’” Adrian explains, pressing his back against the tree as he sinks to the floor, “we’re all on the same side- but we just keep finding ways to vilify each other.”
Staring at Adrian with silence, Sonya and Sebastian hang their heads whilst Rudy climbs back to his feet. Letting a full minute pass in silence, the group sits with Adrian’s claims until Rudy speaks up, putting the entire conversation aside. “Let’s get moving” Rudy directs, splitting away from the cluster of people to resume the journey, his jaw aching from the force behind Adrian’s fist.
His knuckle running over his bottom lip, Jae points his finger at the steaming plate beneath the daggers of his fork, “this is great, Courtney.” Chewing, Courtney bows her head, the chandelier that hangs over their dinner table reflecting off the steel utensil. “Thanks, Jae” Courtney replies, taking her focus toward her mouth-stuffing friend across from her, “I’ll take Artie’s chipmunk-impersonation as a ‘thank you’ as well.”
“That’s what it was meant as” Arturo responds, speaking through a mouthful of steamed carrot chunks and sliced potatoes. “Listen, Courtney- this has been great. Seriously, it’s a much-needed reprieval” Jae explains, lowering his intake to one vegetable slice at a time, “but, we do still have other business to attend to.” Her fork lowered to her plate’s side, Courtney takes a rag to her greasy mouth.
The legs of her chair scraping against the hardwood floor, Courtney leaves the table, her walk toward the rear-exit followed by her distinguished guests. “I’ve got just under two-hundred kilos of ground beef, and just over two hundred kilos of steaks, ribs, briskets- everything you wanted” Courtney explains, stepping aside while her guests inspect the product presented, “it’s all preserved in salt, ready to be cooked in a moment’s notice.”
Unable to look away from the stocked crates, Jae and Artie look pleased, casually nodding toward each other. “You’ve got a good thing going here, Courtney” Jae mutters, passing a glance in her direction as he wraps his hands around a curated slab of beef, “there aren’t too many places like this left.”
“I’ve got a farm, I’m on an island, and I’ve got hydro” Courtney replies, pressing the small of her back against a metal counter, “it’s all pretty valuable, isn’t it?” His head nodding, Jae shares another look at the woman, the tone of his voice dropping a few notes. “Very valuable” Jae responds, slapping the cut of steak with his opposite hand before lowering it back into the salt-filled wooden container, “this place is a gold mine.”
Pleased, Courtney takes in a deep breath, letting time pass before redirecting the conversation. “Now that my bases are covered, let’s get to your at-bat” Courtney remarks, carrying herself back to the men, her shadow cast upon the ground thanks to the lone lightbulb hanging in the centre of the room, “do you have what I asked for?”
“We couldn’t get our hands on enough honey, so we added a few extra cigarettes instead” Jae explains, walking by Courtney’s left side whilst Artie strolls along her right, “but the books, alcohol, batteries, seeds and candles were no problem.” Their boat docked on the pier, Jae and Artie stop walking, waiting for Courtney to move forward before another step is taken.
Her advancements concluded just as her associates, Courtney stares at the boat with a concealed smirk, the hairs on the back of her neck standing upright. “There’s a boat full of cargo waiting for you to unload it, boys” Courtney murmurs, her eyes kept toward the vessel. “All that stuff is yours, Courtney” Jae replies, doing little to hide the expectancy in his voice, “we gotta carry our shit on board, it’s only fair you get to carry yours, right?”
Nostrils flaring, Courtney turns her head toward Jae’s, his eyes already having descended upon her. “Nah, you’re right” Courtney responds, silently smiling for a few seconds as she continues to stare into the man’s eyes, “you’re totally right.”
Sensing Courtney’s reluctance, Jae’s hand reaches for his gun as Courtney’s elbow flies backwards, slamming into Artie’s groyne before Jae can take aim. The trigger squeezed, Jae watches Courtney duck his shot, allowing the bullet to rip straight through Artie’s face as he and his target tumble down the pier. Disarmed, Jae grabs onto a wooden column protruding from the water, his body left hanging halfway over the pier's edge.
Safe upon dry land, Courtney makes her move, her arms wrapping around Jae’s legs as her hefty boots kick at his face, forcing his head to dip beneath the water. Propping herself against the wooden column, Courtney presses her foot beneath the water, holding the man’s face beneath the waves until his struggle ceases. Waiting out the following seconds, Courtney stares at the waves, waiting for the trail of blood to reach the surface.
The final case dragged from the visiting vessel and housed within her cellar, Courtney climbs into her living room and makes for the kitchen. Stepping through the front door, Courtney descends upon the pier with a burning molotov cocktail in her hand, and an unlit cigarette in her mouth. “Thanks for the shit, Jae” Courtney remarks, the cigarette still held between her lips while the drowned man reanimates, “happy travels.”
Her foot pushing the boat from its place beside the pier, Courtney watches Jae’s zombified corpse begin to gnaw at his once-friend, whose deceased body lays beside him. “It’s a fucked up world” Courtney mutters beneath her breath, lighting her cigarette with the molotov’s burning rag just before watching the burning bottle fly from her hand, its flame lighting the dark waters beneath her as it shatters upon the adrift ship, torching it and the bodies residing within its fire-laden frame.
The tobacco smoke leaving her lungs, Courtney watches the burning ship sail off from the pier, indifferent to the sight it offers.
The sharp end of his rebar directed toward the distant hallways just as his flashlight remains, Lou navigates the unfamiliar corridors with caution. “If there’s anyone in here, I’m not looking for trouble” Lou explains, flashing his light toward anything shrouded in darkness. “My friend and I are just riding out the storm outside. We’ll be out of your hair once the rain lets up” Lou persists, his shoes squeaking along the tiled floors, “if that’s not okay, tell me and we’ll leave.”
Each step crunching down upon broken glass, Lou’s eyes take to the only door in the corridor left open to the elements, welcoming anyone that crosses its path with unobstructed entry. “If this is your home, then you should know that I had the same plan as you when everything shut down” Lou explains, beginning his march toward the undefended entry, “my friends and I stayed in our high school for a few weeks until it got overrun. It’s not a bad idea if you do it right.”
His flashlight cast upon a few cabinets and sparse desks, Lou ingresses the classroom, its interior void of life, both the living and undead kind, left as if it hadn’t been touched since the day the dead rose. Beakers and other large glass bottles shattered into bits on the ground, Lou’s feet crunch loudly atop what remains of the science department’s utilities. His light guided to the room’s front, Lou gawks at the objectives left serving as an ode to a time left to history.
‘September 6th - Daily objectives’ the board reads, chalk scrawlings covering the left half of the blackboard, ‘Chapter 2 Review, Study Guide, Jeo-.’ Incomplete, almost as if suddenly interrupted, the objectives remain lost to time, permanently the relic of a bygone era.
His ears taken toward the distant sound of gunfire, Lou sprints through the classroom’s exit, his feet slamming upon broken glass as he bolts for the building’s opposite side. “What the fuck is wrong with you!?” a young man, no older than seventeen, screams in Marta’s face, his arm pressing against the back of her neck as he holds her face against a plain, wooden table.
“He’s bleeding!” a distraught young woman exclaims, knelt before the quickly-dying body of an equally-young man, whose mouth fills with blood. “She shot him in the throat!” a fourth and final young survivor declares, cradling the dying body of his friend in an emotional rage. “You tried to steal from me!” Marta grunts, her face marked both with scratches and a bright-red handprint.
“Now, we’re gonna fucking kill you, bitch!” the man towering over her shouts, spit cascading over Marta’s face as it flies from the lips of her abuser. “You’re gonna get off of her, that’s what you’re gonna do!” Lou shouts, stood in the doorway of a lantern-lit classroom, watching the scenes unfold. Quick to let his friend fall from his arms, the fourth classmate pulls a gun in Lou’s face, demanding he lower his weapon.
“Give me the girl and we’ll go” Lou replies, staying firm in his position to remain in possession of his rebar. “Your girl shot our friend, she’s not leaving” the gunman responds, drawing Lou’s ire immediately. “If I have to tell you a third time, you’re gonna join your friend in the afterlife” Lou replies, his voice commanding attention, “give me the girl and we’ll go.”
“Chet, listen to him!” the woman pleads, her attention set upon the gunman, “the zombies heard the fucking gun, it won’t be long until they get here.” Frustrated, Chet raises his voice in the woman’s direction. “Brandi, shut the fuck up!” Chet screams, his eyes kept on Lou while he calls for the man pinning Marta down, “Brandon, what do I do?”
“Just fucking shoot him!” the man declares, unknowingly writing his own fate, as well as that of his group’s. With a graceful swing, Lou slices Chet across the throat with his rebar before storming the room’s front, an unarmed Brandon turning around in horror. “Wait- wait!” Brandon screams, his efforts to bring relief falling flat as Lou drives his rebar through the man’s eye socket, releasing Marta from her confinement as the man tumbles to the ground.
Catching his breath, Lou stares at Brandon’s body in silence, digesting what he’d done as a sudden shuffling of footsteps behind him emerges. Picking up Chet’s weapon, Brandi aims the barrel at Lou as a second weapon fires, two bullets fired from across the room, cementing themselves within Brandi’s chest and abdomen respectively. His mouth agape, Lou turns to Marta, whose lips quiver as the smoking gun remains aimed by her hand.
Throwing the gun away from her chest, Marta gasps for air while she processes what had happened, the sound of Lou’s footsteps the only thing keeping her from suffering an emotional breakdown. Letting his flashlight fall to the floor with his weapon, Lou wraps his arm around Marta and pulls her close, tears falling onto the collar of his jacket as his chin presses against the woman’s head.
“You’re later than usual” Theo remarks, watching the young pair return from their trip to the city, their faces unusually covered with blood. “Wh- what the hell happened out there?” Theo inquires, the combination of bloody faces and horrified silence striking him as awfully off-putting. “Go get washed up, I’ll meet you back in the tent” Lou whispers, guiding Marta toward the showers as Theo encroaches.
“Dude, what happened out there!?” Theo continues to ask, still without an answer for the moment. “I- we- oh, fuck it” Lou stammers, finally pressing his hand against his hip, “y’know those questions? Mercy, necessity, choice? Well, mark two more in the ‘necessity’ column for me, and one in the same column for her.”
Splitting away without another word, Lou begins to walk for his shared tent just as Sebastian emerges from the trees, Adrian, Rudy and Sonya following in that order not too long after. “Do I even need to guess?” Lou tiredly mutters, his arm held to the side in defeat as Sebastian approaches. “It’s gone” Sebastian murmurs, Adrian joining the man’s side as Sonya follows her destitute father through the tent’s vestibule.
“What’s gone?” Lou responds, his answer coming without missing a beat. “The cabin- it’s leveled” Sebastian replies, the wide eyes Lou reacts with doing little to settle their differing exhaustion. “You went back to the cabin?” Lou responds, his voice raised in anger, “you went back to the motherfucking cabin!?”
“Rudy wanted answers!” Sebastian replies, his voice raised to an equally unsettled octave as his frustrations become aimed at Lou, “he was either going out alone, or we’d go with him as backup!”
“Let the motherfucker get killed then! If he wants to cling onto some hopeless bullshit, that’s his problem, not yours!” Lou shouts back, his confrontation drawing a crowd of their fellow residents. “I’m sorry I can’t turn my back on everyone here as easily as you can, Lou!” Sebastian retorts, immediately earning a displeased look from Adrian, who reaches out for Sebastian’s arm in an effort to pull him away.
“Oh, is that right!?” Lou shouts back, throwing his rebar to the ground as he steps forward, getting in Sebastian’s face whilst pointing his finger at Adrian, “I just killed two people to save his daughter’s life, so don’t talk to me about turning backs on people!” His eyes widened, Adrian attempts to respond to Lou until Sebastian interrupts, responding in kind.
“The only thing you’ve done, since the day we met, is remind us about how little you give a shit about us!” Sebastian exclaims, finally consumed by his anger. “I have other priorities!” Lou responds, immediately cut off from speaking further. “Then go take care of them!” Sebastian shouts, his hand waving toward the distance, “leave! Go find your friends and live happily ever after, Lou! Just pack your bags and leave!”
Adrian’s hand still tugging at his arm, Sebastian finally takes the hint and wanders off, venturing into the deeper parts of the compound as Lou stands back, watching the man walk off. “He doesn’t mean it” Adrian remarks, a concerned look worn on his face as he looks at Lou, who looks back to him with an uncertain glance. “Yeah, he did” Lou whispers back, trailing back toward the showers, the rebar pipe and flashlight still in his hand, the rifle and prosthetic over his shoulder.
“Great job, Lou” Theo says from afar, stood beside Ned near Lee’s tent as his friend strolls by, “you’re totally not getting attached.” Just stood there silently, Lou waits a moment before continuing his walk, eyes descending upon the communal showers. “Fuck” Lou murmurs beneath his breath, disappearing into the bathing room’s wooden entrance as the cold night rages on.
== RISE and REVOLT ==