Season 3 Finale
/ Seven weeks prior /
As crickets chirp beyond the limits of a large wall of glass windows, a small fire burns within the confines of a metal trash can, its base set upon the messy floors of a hospital lobby. “We’re not giving up” Ally declares, sat with her knees pressed against her chest, arms folded atop their caps as the fire burns. Silent, the people she shares her company with remain fixated on other thoughts, not entertaining the woman’s declaration for long.
“We can’t keep this up” Terry responds, scratching the back of his neck as he sits by one of the many glass panes, voluntarily keeping watch, “I wanna find Lou as much as you do, but we can’t run on this expectation that-” Interrupted, Terry’s eyes take toward Ally, her resolute tone kept. “He’s alive” Ally replies, her eyes darting toward the man in the quiet air, prompting Terry to turn back toward the window without another word.
“He could still be alive. I don’t know how likely or unlikely it is, but he could be” Jenn responds, Halston’s head resting against her chest as Jenn’s arm wraps around her waist, “but there’s a decent chance he went somewhere else.”
“Like where?” Elsie replies, laid on her side near the fire, hatchet resting on her hip, “who here, Lou included, knows anything about Canada?” Mostly silent aside from a few coughs, Josie answers from a far-off corner. “I know we’re not too far from Vancouver” the woman remarks, playing with the thin chain around her neck, “and I know we’re not too far from Seattle.”
“That’s great. We escape Los Angeles- which is in shambles, and our two biggest bets are massive metropolitan cities” Jules laughs, his back leant against a concrete pillar, “what can go wrong?”
“Well, we have to figure something out” Ally responds, a tear made along the top half of her right boot, “we can’t just move on.” The air settling, Ally looks around the room, hoping for support whilst anticipating reluctance, surprised when neither are returned. “We’re not moving on, right?” Ally repeats, turning the statement into a question, only to still receive nothing, “right?”
Her eyes lowered, Jenn stares at her sleeping girlfriend’s face whilst Elsie, Josie and Jules blatantly look away. “I don’t think we can afford to be talking about Lou right now” Terry finally interjects, drawing eyes toward himself once again, “if he’s alive out there, I hope we find him. But we can’t spend every day looking for a guy we may never find.”
Her jaded expression returned to Terry, Ally lets a few seconds pass before responding. “Are you saying we should give up?” the woman replies, leaving the man’s head to hang in disappointment. “I’m saying-” Terry begins, stopping himself short to contemplate his response, a sudden inspiration to stop dancing around the topic, “yes- I’m saying we shouldn’t hold our breath.”
Saying what no one else would, Terry looks Ally in the eyes, unwavering in his stance. “I’m sorry, but if there’s even a five-percent chance he didn’t make it off that boat, there’s a risk that we’re looking for someone we’ll never find” Terry explains, watching Ally’s head fall, “tell me how that can be perceived as anything other than ‘running in circles’.”
Wanting to argue, Ally’s head falls, her spirit quashed beneath a boot of unpleasant rationality. “Where do you suggest we go then?” Jules murmurs across the room, opening the floor for eager discussion.
/ One week later /
“Even when they’re slow, they fucking suck!” Terry exclaims, kicking away another bundle of rot. “Just cover me!” Ally shouts, kneeling before a car with a red gasoline canister in her hands. “I’ll cover you as long as you hurry the fuck up!” Terry shouts back, surrounded by slow-moving, brittle corpses. Grunting with each whack, Terry downs every corpse that draws in on him, the ease at which they push him back toward Ally making up for their lack of speed.
Spitting excess gas from her mouth, Ally waits for a grey sedan to relinquish whatever fuel it has left to carry, preparing herself for the undead onslaught. A knife in her hand, Ally presses her back to Terry’s, covering his blindside as their group watches on, fending off their own horde. The nozzle beginning to ooze the final drops of potent gold, Ally gives Terry her signal, claiming their fuel as Terry leads a path back to their car.
“What’s going on back there!?” Jenn calls out, sat behind her truck’s wheel with a screwdriver in hand, her arm hung from the open window. “We’ll be ready to move in a minute!” Ally exclaims, passing the can to Jules as she joins the frontline, swinging on anything that moves with glee.
“We’re good!” Jules finally shouts, giving the group the signal they’d been anxiously awaiting, joining Jenn in their bright red pickup truck as it hits the open road.
Silent throughout the ride as evening turns toward night, the group’s anticipation begins to build, a single road marker starting to peak their interest. “Swartz Bay, two kilometres away!” Terry proclaims, his arm resting against the side of the truck’s bed, “I have no clue what that means, but I think we’re close.”
“I’m not sure they’d have a sign up telling us that if we weren’t close enough” Ally responds, sat in the cab’s backseat beside Josie. “What do we do when we get to Vancouver?” Jules ponders, laid in the truck’s bed with his feet aimed at the tailgate. “We set up shop and keep it from getting infested” Jenn replies, glancing at the man through her rear view mirror, “and this time, we kill the dead, not lock them up until further notice.”
The humour settling aside, the deeper questions advance to the front of the inquiry line. “What do we do with the rest of our lives?” Ally polls, almost able to hear the internal conflicts building within those around her, “is it just- kill the dead, make food, rinse wash repeat?” Already growing comfortable with his role of speaking louder than the stillness surrounding him, Terry turns his focus to the people in the cab, his eyes specifically taking toward Ally’s direction.
“Y’know, you can be a real buzz kill sometimes” Terry remarks, returning everyone’s laughter, Ally’s own included. “No, but if we’re being serious, it’s a good question” Terry adds, falling back into his seat against the truck, “but it’s a question we’ll have plenty of time to find the answer to.” Looking over her shoulder, Ally shares a look with Terry, giving him an appreciative nod as she falls silent once more.
“I’ll meet you guys down there in a sec, I’ve gotta change out of these boots” Jenn explains, placing a pair of wet shoes on the ground, “I now know I prefer wet boots to ones three sizes too small.” With a laugh, Halston departs, “you know where we’ll be!” she mutters as she follows the sandy trail, Josie’s removal of the final gas canister symbolising their progression to a new chapter.
“We should be good to make it the full way, but in case we don’t, we’ll dock in Richmond and walk the rest of the way north” Josie explains, returning the map to a captain’s chair-seated Terry. “And what do we look for when we get into the city?” Ally responds, unable to earn much more of an answer than the obvious. “We stay out of the city centre, stick close to the shoreline” Josie replies, “find a building that’s safe, but doesn’t stand out, and focus-”
The limelight stolen, Josie’s eyes join the rest of the group’s, the sound of gunfire cracking through the air the same way they came. “Jenn!” Halston calls out, only answered by the distant sound of groaning. “Go without me!” Jenn shouts, her words accompanied by an additional two shots. “In the water!” a man shouts, only his flashlight piercing through the trees as he approaches.
Unholstering her own weapon, Halston fires at the bobbing light, her trigger pulled until its progression stops just enough for comfort. “Ah! I’m hit!” the man shouts, his light rolling down the hill he’d been brought down upon, giving Halston her opening. “You need to go!” Halston shouts to those aboard, throwing herself back into the loose sand.
“What about you!?” Terry exclaims, joining his peers in watching Halston ascend through the forest. “We’ll see you in Vancouver, just go now!” Halston responds, continuing to fire at any distant ball of light, taking no chances on what lies ahead. As told, Terry returns to his chair and pushes the vessel forward, gliding upon the waves amidst a chorus of uncertainty. “Are you really leaving them behind!?” Jules shouts, holding onto every pocket he can find.
“What are we supposed to do!? Draw our fucking hammers and start running at the people with guns!?” Terry replies, his voice raised to an equal yell. Met with dazed bewilderment, Terry turns his focus back upon the water, forcing himself to remain focused on what lies ahead, as what remains in his wake tempts him too greatly to return.
“Get in the car!” Halston shouts, tossing her expended clip into the dirt as she exchanges it for a new one, firing at any unfamiliar face. Returning to the driver’s seat, Jenn watches Halston throw herself into the back as she steps on the gas, their grand escape taking them back the way they’d originally come.
= 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 =
/ Present day /
“That’s it?” Lee questions, sat across the assault rifle-laiden table from Courtney, “I know it’s not smart to negotiate a higher price for something you’re buying, but this is not a good deal for you.” Her head shaking, Courtney remains adamant on her terms. “I don’t care about what’s in it for me, I have plenty” Courtney responds, the paramotor left leaning against the table’s leg, “as long as my dad can cook the food, and my sister can heal the wounds, that’s all I ask for in return.”
“Still! It’s- it’s ludicrous!” Lee replies, almost disappointed he’s getting such a good deal, “nine hundred pounds of beef just to give your family jobs!?” Sinking back into her chair, Courtney’s arms cross, her mind satisfied with the deal put forward. “Can I ask why?” Lee finally wonders, caving into the woman’s dreadfully poor deal, “do you not trust our cooks or something?”
“Your cooks are fine. They’ve done wonders with spam and corn, I don’t care about them” Courtney responds, “but if my father and Sonya can connect something from their old world with this one, maybe they won’t have such a hard time adjusting.” The offer fascinating him, Lee parts ways with his chair, the stroll he takes toward his liquor cabinet aiding in clearing his mind.
“And this is all you want?” Lee replies, twisting the cap off a bottle of rum before letting what resides in the glass container trickle out into separate glasses, “you give me the food, and I put your family to work?” Her chin bowed, Courtney courteously accepts the drink from Lee’s hand as she exchanges it for the final verdict. “I don’t want more, I don’t want less” Courtney concludes, “give them a job, maybe throw in a survival trainer that can tolerate them, and you’ll get your shipments.”
Letting the bargain linger, Lee takes his glass into the air, welcoming Courtney to tap her glass upon his. “We have an agreement” Lee responds, finalising the trade just in time for Norman to interrupt their celebration. “Hey Norman, there’s a thing called knocking that-” Lee greets, noticing the concerned look upon the man’s typically-blank face, “what’s wrong?”
“Theo’s gone” the man replies, his gravelly voice somehow making the information daunting, “his tent’s empty, his bags are gone, and no one’s seen him since he left your tent.” His mouth falling open, Lee looks to Theo’s rifle with immediate regret, unsure how to respond. Her hand wrapping around the rifle’s grip, Courtney claims ownership of the weapon and leaves her seat.
“What are you doing?” Lee responds to the display, watching the woman prepare herself for flight without second thought. “You stay here and keep my plate warm” Courtney responds, brushing off orders for her to abort her self-mission. With a run-up, the woman takes off with speed, climbing above the trees as she soars into the distance, surprising some and worrying others.
/ One week prior /
“We should lower this fire” Jenn murmurs, removing a wet, towel-covered log from the massive fire pit, its alcohol-doused, cloth-covered tip engulfed in flames. “It’s too cold for that” Halston replies, her disappointment obvious, “but you’re right- we don’t want this thing getting too big.” Poorly dressed for the elements, the women huddle close to the flame, pressing together behind a stack of firewood as their breath clouds the air.
“I’m pretty sure it’s December” Jenn suddenly mumbles, her body trembling to conserve warmth, “I should be bombing midterms right now.” Amused, Halston presses her forehead against Jenn’s shoulder, enjoying the woman’s presence in spite of the harsh conditions surrounding her. “I think December started a few days ago, so you might be a little off” Halston responds, watching Jenn quietly recount the days, “we’d probably be bombing the studying- then bomb the midterms next week.”
“I choose to think it’d be funny if it were already March” Jenn replies, her teeth clattering, “I think I’ve had enough of Canada for one winter season.” Her infectious laugh bringing a smile out of Jenn, Halston lets her eyes close as they sit in the snow, her forehead resting beneath Jenn’s chin. “I love you” Halston whispers, a statement that exchanges Jenn’s laughter for a smile, the sentiment shared.
“I love you, too” Jenn responds, swiping the hair from Halston’s face as her own eyes close, letting the snow fall upon her rosy cheeks. The night trailing off, the women find comfort beneath their shared blanket, the exhaustion of endless running prompting their closed eyes to transport them to a safer place.
As hours pass, Jenn’s slumber ends, no sound emerging to drag her into consciousness, no smell, no pain, just her flooded mind telling her when to awaken. Halston still fast asleep, Jenn gives the woman a peck on the head before looking toward the sky, what felt like a few minutes of sleep having taken the women to the following day, the sun beginning to emerge from behind the horizon, the clouds puffy.
Closing her eyes, Jenn prepares for the chirping of birds, the honking of horns or the distant sounds of stereo systems playing Spanish music. The sounds she’d curiously expected to be awoken to absent, the only noise Jenn’s ears take to are the collective garbles close by, loud in nature, but largely incoherent. The orange flames still burning bright into the air, Jenn peers around the corner, hoping to find her heatsource as reliable as the night prior.
Staring into the flame’s glow, a large cluster of the dead gather beyond it’s dirt-crafted containment, unaware of the lives that reside just a few metres away. “Halston! Halston!” Jenn whispers, right hand covering her girlfriend’s mouth whilst the other one shakes her awake. Her eyebrows furrowed, Halston looks into her girlfriend’s eyes with confusion. “There’s a horde around our fire!” Jenn grumbles, reaching for the weapon at her side.
Bewilderment turning into fear, Halston pulls away from Jenn’s hand and quietly prepares to leave. Their few belongings gathered, the girls begin backing away from their campsite in favour of returning to the nearby forest. “Just don’t trip, don’t make a noise, don’t fire-” Jenn begins whispering when a faraway hum begins to fill the air. Careful not to make a sound, Jenn looks toward the abandoned building across the lot, the windows that remain intact reflecting a parachute overhead.
“Aarrgghh!” a growl bellows from their chosen direction, one of many corpses leaving the road in favour of the motorist above, now setting their sights upon the two survivors. “Okay, what’s the plan now?” Halston groans, watching the dead they’d initially attempted to create distance from take notice of their presence. Unable to advance forward or retreat backward, Jenn’s only answer is left to leave her lips in a rush.
“Run!” Jenn shouts, leading Halston around the undead pileup as more corpses emerge from the woodlands. Not taking much longer to grow in severity, the situation soon becomes dire as the dead swarm from every direction, all centring upon the decrepit timber mill in the middle of the forest. No exit left unimpeded by rotting sacks of flesh, the women are left with little other choice but to seek comfort elsewhere.
“The mill! Go to the mill!” Jenn shouts, stomping her feet through the thick abundance of snow. Firing at anything that stands in their way, Jenn and Halston rest their sights upon a steel awning just over the building’s front entrance. “Climb up!” Jenn shouts, firing rounds into the horde from the highest step as Halston hoists herself upon the roof. “I’m up!” Halston shouts, waiting for Jenn’s reply.
Out of ammunition, Jenn begins to concede ground, pressing her back against the door as the horde makes their final ascent. “Jenn!?” Halston exclaims, peering over the edge to watch her girlfriend’s boot shove at each corpse in her path. “I’m not gonna make it up there, hun!” Jenn shouts, continuing to squeeze against the door as a thought pops into her mind.
“I’m going in!” Jenn exclaims, putting together a plan on the fly. “I’m gonna lead these things into the building, find another exit, and then you’re gonna lock them in!” Jenn hollers, looking into Halston’s petrified eyes, “did you get that!?”
“Yeah, but it’s a really fuckin’ dangerous plan, Jenn!” Halston replies, watching the desperation swallow her girlfriend. “I don’t have room for another plan, Halston!” Jenn shouts, getting off one final kick before embracing the dark, cavernous depths she’s chosen to enter, “I’ll see you on the other side!”
With that, Jenn kicks her shoe off and uses it to prop the door open. A keychain flashlight in tow, Jenn punches the rotting drywall of the building’s interior, leading the horde through the cramped, house like entry foyer as she embarks further, turning every corner and squeezing through every corridor on her way to the mill’s bowels.
Stepping through holes in walls, climbing over dusty furniture and walking around machinery, Jenn closes in on her last stand, nowhere left to run other than a dead end. All options expended, Jenn begins luring the dead toward her, snatching whatever she can from their bodies in a game of cat and mouse. Clearing the way for a corpse dressed in police uniform, Jenn lets the cop draw close before snatching his gun, offering a single gunshot for his troubles before moving on.
Pulling the trigger only when necessary, Jenn begins to lose control of the high ground, the room she works with growing smaller as time goes by. Her eyes darting from one side of the room to the other, Jenn feels time begin to slow, practising various solutions mentally before settling on the one she trusts in most. Choosing a corpse at random, Jenn sinks her fingers into its decaying throat as if they were claws, leading her to a backroom before putting a bullet through her head.
Slamming the door shut behind herself, Jenn stares at the body, its limbs sprawled out upon the floor as if it were unconscious. Fighting the urge to vomit, Jenn works up the courage to go through with the plan she’d crafted, visibly disgusted with what the future holds.
Gathered on the other side, their bodies slamming against the office door and their audible groans enough to unnerve the strongest stomachs, the dead lie in wait, begging for entry. Before long, the dead earn their wish, watching Jenn calmly pull the door open, covered from head to toe in the dead’s own blood.
Their frenzy soon becoming disappointment, the dead begin to disperse, no longer enamoured with what stands before them. Her break arriving, Jenn stumbles through the horde, splitting them into sides as if she were Moses crossing the Red Sea, following the undead trail back the way she entered.
After minutes pass, Jenn begins to recognize the trail she’d left behind, following it back to the mystery that she's confronted with once returned to the entrance. Her boot tipped over, now left lying in the middle of the floor, the front door sits shut, the snow-covered ground no longer occupied by the dead. Dropping the act, Jenn runs through the exit and slams the door the shut with her boot in hand, locking the dead within as intended.
The puffy white clouds above having turned a depressing grey, Jenn cleanses herself of the undead filth as she turns toward the roof, its steel panels left vacant. “Halston!?” Jenn shouts, immediately eyeing a human-sized dent in the snow that stands in the eyes of rainfall defiantly. Obvious footprints leading from the crater, Jenn follows them around the massive building’s full length, their path leading toward a set of garage doors in the building’s rear.
“Halston!?” Jenn exclaims, again waiting for an answer that doesn’t arrive, all that she’s left with being a zombie’s burning corpse, left to rest on the ground. Gun in tow, Jenn follows wet footprints through narrow corridors, still calling for her girlfriend’s name. Picking up a crowbar left in the middle of the floor, Jenn begins to lose her girlfriend’s tracks, left cluelessly at the end of the road, the footprints having disappeared, as if the person creating them had vanished.
The lot left empty, Jenn walks through the garage and continues around the lot, her girlfriend’s name continuing to echo through the forest. “Halston!?” Jenn exclaims, standing in the middle of the field with her hands coupled together, “Halston!?” Beckoned for by the sudden sound of frantic banging, Jenn’s head turns back to the building, where her girlfriend’s torch shines through the thin windows of a locked pair of double doors.
“What are you doing in there!?” Jenn exclaims, her voice muffled through the obstruction in her way. “They knocked your shoe over and the door shut!” Halston responds, unphased by the door’s refusal to budge, “I had to lead the rest in through the back.” Throwing her weight into the crash bar with no success. “I think we need a keycard for this thing, hun” Jenn replies, watching Halston’s eyes roll.
“Alright, see you in a sec” Halston responds, turning back the way she came. “I no longer trust boots of any kind, dry or wet, small or big” Jenn whispers to herself, mildly irritated by her plan’s failure, “I don’t know why I can’t-”
“FUCK!” Halston shouts, dragging Jenn’s eyes back through the thin viewpoint she holds. Her eyes peering in, Jenn finds the reason behind Halston’s obscenity, the dead she’d led inside having managed to overwhelm their containment. “The dead are inside, there’s no going back, Jenn!” Halston shouts, pushing at the crash bar as if it were a matter of life or death.
“Why’d you come down this way then!?” Jenn shouts, pressing the crowbar’s chisel between the doors in hopes of prying them open. “This was the only other exit!” Halston shouts, continuing her efforts to no avail, the exits slightest budge eluding her. Equally unsuccessful, Jenn takes the crowbar by the chisel and starts beating the door with its claw, the dents and scrapes starting to add up, but never once proving to be enough.
“I can’t get it open!” Halston shouts, turning her sights back toward the dead, their faces illuminated only by the light in her hand. “I’m trying, hold on!” Jenn shouts, swinging upon the unrelenting metal with continuous failure, each swing only taking more out of her. Slamming her hip against the crash bar, Halston’s efforts begin to slow, the sight she gives the encroaching horde only dissuading her further, each shove losing momentum.
Her last push as successful as the first, Halston puts her efforts to bed whilst Jenn’s crowbar continues to swing, reality beginning to seep in. As the dead close in, Halston turns back toward the door, watching Jenn continue her fruitless efforts with a tear in her eye. “Jenn!” Halston shouts, pressing her face through the thin glass panel, the expression she wears already telling Jenn the truth.
“It’s over” Halston murmurs, shaking her head as Jenn’s next swing pauses. “No- no no!” Jenn shouts, swinging an extra few times before Halston’s scream for her attention halts her once more. “Jenn, listen to me” Halston demands, letting the tears well in her eyes as Jenn looks on, refusing to say anything less than what’s on her mind.
“Halston, we need-” Jenn aggravatedly shouts, short of breath and patience, struggle to keep herself together. “Jenn, listen- do what we planned on” Halston murmurs, sweat beading her face as time ticks away, “they’ll be there. They’ll be there- and they’ll be waiting for us!”
“I’m not leaving you!” Jenn shouts, letting Halston respond from within her tomb. “Jenn, go to Vancouver” Halston murmurs, pressing her hand against the window, “don’t leave them behind.” Her hand pulling away from the glass, Halston retreats, slowly backstepping into the flesh-tearing embrace of the undead. “NO!” Jenn screams, swinging mercilessly at the exit as Halston pays the reaper.
“I love you!” Halston shouts, swiping her torch through in an effort of extinguishing it, engulfing herself in utter darkness as to spare Jenn of having to see anything more than she’s already had to. Screaming the same refusal, Jenn drowns Halston’s blood-curdling screams beneath the metallic irony, refusing to stop until the screams die, and with them, fades Halston’s life.
With nothing left to fight for, Jenn heaves the crowbar across the field and stares back at the window, total darkness left waiting for her. Snuffed out before her time, what’s left of Halston remains in the window, the outline of her handprint staring Jenn in the face in silence. “H-” Jenn begins to call, the last of her voice consumed, all that’s left being a hushed, near-whimper gasp of air.
Crumbling to the ground, Jenn sobs against the door, a piece of her that begun the day alive now permanently lost to time. Her hand held above her head, Jenn’s palm presses against the print Halston left behind, holding hands with the woman just once more, as the woman’s handprint fades to time.
/ Present day /
“It still never opened, huh?” Lou replies, sitting in the same spot Jenn was left to lament upon, the double doors of legend having been beaten to hell, never once allowed entry or exit. “She never stood a chance” Jenn whimpers, her hair soaked from the downpour, “I’ve gone at that thing for a week- no give.”
Trying to keep tears back, Lou begins to put on the mask he’d given Sebastian’s group countless times. “I dug a grave- and I stayed because I couldn’t let her be like Wyatt was” Jenn explains, unable to look away from Halston’s doors, “I’ve been trying to make my bones for a week, and I can’t bring myself to do it.”
Whilst she can’t keep from staring at the doors, Lou can’t help but keep his eyes away from them, struggling to hold onto the little bit of composure he has left. “If I’d made the call to cross into Seattle, if I’d put down that fucking fire, If I’d just sucked it up and worn those fucking shoes!-” Jenn screams, punching her leg as her words emerge through gritted teeth, pausing before her thought concludes, “-she’d still be alive.”
A stream of water flowing down his beard, Lou shakes his head, leaving the loose hairs that couple over his eyes unattended to. “If I hadn’t let the dead out of the gym, you wouldn’t have had to make any of those decisions” Lou responds, watching the woman turn back to him, sceptical to believe anything he has to say, “I’ve been the reason for all of this. None of this should have happened, but it did- and it happened because of me.”
Silent, Jenn lets Lou speak, fighting off the verge to collapse. “Of all the bad we’ve seen, and all the bad we’ve had to deal with, I’m the worst of them all” Lou remarks, the rainstorm above dying just as he places his hand over Jenn’s, “we both failed her, but I did this to her.”
Shaking her head, Jenn pulls her hand out from beneath Lou’s, placing it on top instead. “I-” Jenn replies, stopping mid-sentence to hold the swell of emotion back, “I have to finish this.” A tear hanging from the lip of his eye, Lou spins his hand around and holds Jenn’s palm within his own, refusing to take his eyes off her. “No” Lou whispers, leaning forward with conviction, “we have to finish this... We have to do right by her.”
Squeezing Lou’s hand, Jenn nods her head with the closest she can bring herself to a smile. Their minds clear and hearts full, Lou and Jenn storm the mill, rounding the corner as backup arrives. “Woah, woah woah! Stop!” Lou urges Jenn, his hand lifting over the gun she pulls on an unfamiliar line of people, “they’re decent people.”
“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said about us” Sebastian responds, his eyes curiously gazing around the open field. “How’d you find me?” Lou replies, returning his rebar-carrying hand to his side, unsurprised at who the answer arrives from. “You left a corpse behind” Marta responds, leading her group, “you also taught me to look at broken twigs and muddy footprints. So, either you were down here, or someone else was.”
The air gone silent, Adrian joins his daughter at the front of the group, natural curiosity taking over. “What are you doing out here?” Marta’s father inquires, watching the man and his unfamiliar friend turn toward the front door, a composed expression returned to Lou’s face. “We’re making our bones” Lou replies, readying himself for a fight, “care to join us?”
Without hesitation, Marta throws her bag on the ground and unleashes her switchblade, not many seconds passing before her father prepares for the same. “All you’ve gotta do is aim for the head” Sebastian murmurs, turning to a horrified father-daughter combination. “It’ll be easy” Marta calls out, both Rudy and Sonya drifting their sights toward her, “just aim for the eyes or the base of the skull.”
Like a proud father, Lou shares a smirk in Marta’s direction. “Fuck it” Rudy growls, joining Sonya in cautiously retrieving a pair of kitchen knives they’d picked up on their journey. “Count me in” Sebastian concludes, giving Lou all the confidence he needs to rip the metaphorical bandage off. Fighting their way out, the dead spill into the yard, struggling to move through the cold as the sun begins rising.
Swinging for the fences, Lou decimates what walks in his way whilst Jenn takes care of business. Trying to keep their distance, Rudy and Sonya see their fair share of action, picking at whatever corpses Sebastian manages to miss. Armed with a fire poker, Sebastian splits each rotting skull he finds, piles of bodies left in his wake.
“Come on you weird little shit” Adrian scolds, guiding a lone corpse toward himself before sweeping it out by the knee. Lying helplessly, Adrian brings his boot over the back of the zombie’s head and moves on whilst his daughter makes quick work of what finds its way toward her, the ‘into the eyeball, out of the eyeball, move on’ method working wonders.
“Tell me if you see her, Jenn” Lou exclaims, putting down another few bodies before an answer can arrive, “Jenn!?” Finishing off another few bodies, Lou scans the field for the the woman, ultimately finding Jenn stoically stood at the foot of Halston’s grave, unable to look away from the devoured corpse approaching.
“I’m sorry” Jenn mutters, pulling the gun from her hip as Halston draws nearer, the hole she stands by lined with shovels sticking out of the dirt, and filled with dirty rainwater. The field clearing, only one corpse remains, and it slowly drags its way toward the grave-stood woman. “Aarrgghh!” Halston’s corpse growls, close enough to fall into Jenn’s grasp, the surviving woman taking her once-partner by the throat, the only thing holding Halston back.
“I promise, I won’t leave them behind” Jenn whispers, staring into the woman’s beady eyes as Lou watches on, refusing to let Sebastian’s group interfere. “I’ll never fail you again” Jenn whimpers, slowly lifting the gun toward Halston’s chin, “I’m sorry.” The gun rattling in her hand as she sobs, Jenn struggles to lift it any higher, taking one final look into Halston’s eyes.
As if stricken by reality, Halston’s growls stop and her hisses cease, a single, milky tear running from her eye. Wide-eyed, Jenn watches the corpse tilt its head, presenting its chin in silence, accepting the bullet she seemingly has prayed for the relief of. Pressing the gun against Halston’s chin, Jenn makes her bones before the urge to go back on her promise can take over.
“I love you”
Stepping aside, Jenn lets Halston’s body fall into the deep pool, her bones and what remains of her flesh sinking to the bottom in search for their permanent slumber. Gasping for her breath, Jenn stands at Halston’s grave, unable to take her eyes away from Lou, who shares her shock. Struggling to process what he’d seen, Lou’s rebar slowly falls from his hand, sloppily sinking into the mud.
Stumbling forward, Lou walks toward Jenn as she does the same, both depleted survivors collapsing into each other’s arms, unable to muster the strength to do more than openly weep. “I’m so sorry” Lou moans, his hand wrapped around the back of Jenn’s head, holding her close as the tears stream, “I’m so, so, so, so, so sorry.”
Astonished, Sebastian’s group stares in wonder, as if in disbelief that the man, laid stricken with a broken heart, was the same man that had spent every minute since their paths had crossed trying to seem utterly heartless. “Wow” Rudy mutters beneath his breath, finally feeling as if he were proven wrong, “that’s Lou.”
Reluctantly pulling away, Jenn drags herself back to the grave, ripping its point from the ground before dragging mud into the water. Hand on his knees, Lou stares at the puddle before him and looks at his muddy reflection, what he finds only encourages him to look away. Stood at the front of his group, Sebastian watches Lou’s eyes turn to him, silently introducing him to the man it took such effort to store away.
“Urgh, urgh” Jenn grunts, each scoop taking more out of her, only given reprieve by a surprising sight. Blue and black plastic fingers wrapping around a second shovel, Lou and his artificial pair of hands aid in Halston’s burial, scoops of dirt leaving the head of his shovel, and finding refuge in muddy waters. “Now... we do right by her” Lou whispers, locking eyes with the woman in a moment of unity, their hands guiding their shovels toward excess dirt identically.
Pulling in a new breath, Lou and Jenn begin a new chapter, the only thing that take their eyes away from each other being the muddy footprints that approach. His head tilted, Lou looks to his left in surprise, watching ironic twists come to life as Adrian wraps his hand around the third shovel. Offering something greater, Adrian leaves words to imaginations, silently removing the tool from the dirt and aiding in Halston’s burial.
Somewhat more surprising, Lou stares in surprise at Rudy, who approaches soon after. With his hand extended, Rudy lets Lou’s hand collide with his own. “It’s good to meet you, Lou” Rudy greets, finally introducing himself to the man properly. “Same here” Sonya responds, shaking Lou’s hand and joining her father in taking a shovel. “Not sure if we’ve met before, but I’m Marta” the young woman remarks, sharing a handshake before moving toward the shovels.
His sorrow covered with a fulfilling smile, Lou watches the group work before one final set of footprints approaches, the man’s hand still held by his side. “I’m Sebastian- Sebastian Winters” the man replies, a sombre expression on his face as Lou’s hand meets his own, the handshake lasting longer than the rest. “Lou... “ the young man responds, unsure whether or not he wishes to feel it, but feeling at peace nonetheless, “...Lou Jack.”
Their handshake ending, Jenn rounds the grave with her shovel in hand, graciously turning it over to Sebastian’s hand. “My condolences” Sebastian murmurs, shaking the hand Jenn extends. “Jennifer DePhant” the woman murmurs, producing a smile from the newly-acquainted survivor, “Sebastian Winters” he replies, continuing forward.
“These are your people?” Jenn whispers, putting aside the grave pain she still holds near to her heart, watching the man look out toward the field, a warm accomplishment on his face. “No” Lou whispers back, watching the group load the water with its damp soil, “they’re my friends.”
== RISE and REVOLT ==