The young stranger unconscious, Lou shackles a pair of handcuffs over his dominant hand, the other end linked to an old radiator near the back of the living room. “How long should he be out?” Lou wonders, knelt upon the bloodstained carpet of the living room floor, his arm draped over his higher knee, regaining the breath he lost carrying the group’s victim to warm shelter.
“I dosed him with two hundred milligrams of lidocaine” Sonya replies, a loose robe dangling from her arms, the ends of the sleeves wide, “he could be out for an hour, maybe two- maybe more.” Thinking quietly to himself, Lou takes a glance at the man’s leg, Marta’s hands guided by Sonya, the bandages she wields covering the young man’s amputated leg.
“How old would you say this kid is, Sonya?” Lou wonders aloud, the dirt that covers the man’s face veiling hidden jejunity, “or anyone else, I don’t care who- go ahead and take a guess.” The entire group stands before Lou in a huddled circle, silent to the question before Marta’s response. “The folds on his face are covered with dirt, but they still don’t look significant” the young woman responds, earning Lou’s attention, “he’s pretty young. Why ask?”
Licking his lip, Lou’s eyes trail toward the woman’s father, a dumbstruck expression worn blindly on Adrian’s face. “Because when i carried him into the house, I felt a bulge in the back of his jeans” Lou replies, turning the victim’s hips over briefly to remove a leather wad from one of two pockets, “I know women use those pockets to carry their phones, but us men use it to carry our wallets.”
Waving the leather bundle in his hand, Lou pushes his blistering anger below, his unflattered expression given solely to Marta’s father. “When I asked why you set up a trap in the freezer walkway, you stuttered something along the lines of ‘you weren’t in there’” Lou remarks, steadily rising from his feet, carrying himself right to the older man’s face, “what exactly did you mean by that?”
“Woah, I didn’t mean-” Adrian attempts to respond, pulling his head back as Lou thwarts his strive to claim innocence. “Answer the goddamn question, Adrian” Lou interrupts calmly, the mere sound of the younger man’s voice silencing Marta’s father, “what did you mean by that?”
His lower jaw trembling, Adrian’s hands hold close to his chest, his palms shown to Lou as a sign of concession. “You fell asleep really quickly after you brought Sonya back to her room, and I knew you weren’t going back out there before morning” Adrian explains calmly, still visually rattled by the events he’s allowed to unfold, “I always wake up at the crack of dawn, so I figured- since you weren’t there to keep watch tonight, I’d set up the trap and remove it before you woke up.”
Each breath escaping through his nostrils loud enough for the group to overhear, Lou accepts Adrian’s response as truth, the anger he feels still not subsiding. “I swear, the trap wasn’t meant for you” Adrian responds, an authentic quiver to his response. His teeth clattering together, Lou presses his lips upon each other, looking off into the distance, frustrated at having to believe the man’s answer.
His thumb swiping the front of the wallet open, Lou reads their victim’s name, his head shaking once his eyes reach the man’s date of birth. “March 17th, 1996” Lou reads aloud, his eyes returning to Adrian’s face, a self-disgusted look emerging, “Adrian’s stubborn refusal to listen to reason has effectively ended the life of a twenty-two year old kid.”
“Come on, Lou- he’s just lost a leg!” Sebastian replies, still persistent in his efforts to play reason with both sides of the dynamic stretching his home toward two sides, “you lost an arm and you’re fine!” Suppressing his anger, Lou shakes his head at Sebastian, understanding of the older man’s failure to find the point.
“Losing an arm didn’t keep me from running, it kept me from having a set of opposable thumbs” Lou responds, pressing the wallet into Adrian’s chest. “Lou’s right” Courtney replies, pulling the eyes of everyone in the room, her sympathetic tone voicing itself in Lou’s corner, “when you come from where I’d assume this kid comes from, anything less than two working legs is a drawn-out death sentence.”
With a nod, Lou steps away from the trap-enthusiast, returning to their victim’s side. “You see, dipshit hasn’t given this kid a limp. He hasn’t given him the need for a cast, or a new reason to find value in a stable set of crutches” Lou explains, his index finger aimed squarely on Adrian, the honeypot-setting man overcome with grief.
“I want to make something clear to all of you- I don’t care if you like me, or if you look at me as a kid, it doesn’t effectively matter” Lou explains, his finger pointed at the kid, “but when you look at this man, who will spend his last days dying on your living room floor, I want you to know that I was right.”
Picking his rifle and prosthetic carrying case from the ground, Lou prepares himself to leave, the unassuming eyes that surround him only helping his anger boil. “None of you, with the exception of Courtney, know a damn about this world” Lou explains, finishing his thought as he walks through the crowd, his eyes set on the front door, “and if you can’t understand that, you’re all already dead.”
= 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 =
“What do we do when he wakes up?” Sonya wonders, her father and sister sat at the kitchen table beside her. “The kid’s stealing food for a reason, so I assume he’s not coming from much” Rudy responds, his good heart bringing a questionable look over Courtney’s face, “we cook him a warm meal, make him comfortable, and let Sebastian and Adrian figure things out from there.”
“Hold on, why should they get to decide what happens from there?” Courtney replies, her father’s confused expression meeting her eyes, “Adrian’s the one that made this mess, and Sebastian’s the one that was laxed enough to let Adrian think he could get away with it.” His hands held at his sides, Rudy’s mouth shutters open without an immediate response.
“What do you suggest we do with him then?” Sonya responds, her sister’s head pulling back the moment the question is raised. “There’s no one in this home more deserving and better suited to make that call than Lou” Courtney replies, the dismay her family presents illustrating her proposition’s unpopularity. “The kid’s been here for what? A week? Already, he’s made more sense than all of the people in this house combined” Courtney explains, Sonya’s voice the first to oppose.
“Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that my initial perception of the guy was wrong. He’s not as bad as I thought” Sonya explains, her head still shaking in declination, “but we already know his answer to the question is ‘kill the kid’.”
“As it should be!” Courtney immediately responds, her father’s face turning away, disgusted at the proposition. “Lou’s one hundred percent right! Adrian’s trap has, effectively, killed this kid” Courtney explains, embracing the ignominious reaction, “this kid is going to be haunted by dystrophy for the rest of his life, and will be a sitting duck if he’s sent back out to the land of the undead! Killing him now wouldn’t be murder, it would be mercy.”
“How can you say that? How can you even listen to yourself say that?” Rudy replies, his tone not disgusted, but embroiled in a shamefaced front, “I think highly of Lou, but he’s still too young to be making that call.”
Lifting her hand to her head, Courtney wipes at her soft skin, a subdued shake of her head presenting itself. “There’s no such thing as ‘too young’ anymore. The rules of youth, hell, the rules of social hierarchy to whatever remains are completely different now” Courtney responds, her sights split equally amongst her father and sister, “Lou’s more of a survivor than you two combined. I mean, he’s survived all of this on one arm! I’ve spent so much time in the sky, he’s more of a survivor than me!”
“He’s just a kid” Silvano replies, turning the corner to interrupt the conversation, an empty plate carried in his hand on its way to the sink. “No, Silvano- You’re just a kid” Courtney responds, her face tensing with vexation, the young man’s appearance preturbing her. “I’m older than him” Silvano replies with a laugh, casually tossing the plate into the metal sink. “You’re also more of an ass” Courtney responds, crossing one leg over the other beneath the table, “and he’d leave your ass lying.”
Stepping up from the table, Courtney carries her plate to the sink, her hand reaching for the knob. “Listen, you can view this any way you’d want, but if you weren’t hiding out on your mountain top, you’d think just as I do” Courtney explains, running a soap-covered sponge over two ceramic plates, the residue of breakfast scrubbed away, “the smart ones in this house already realize that this cabin can’t be depended on forever. And in due time, you’ll see how important having Lou here is.”
“We shouldn’t be putting such expectations on the kid” Sebastian replies, entering the room with more grace than Silvano had. “Taking just one read at this room, I’d assume no one was” Courtney responds, extending her free hand toward the empty plate in Sebastian’s hand. “Don’t get me wrong, the kid has obviously been through a lot, and he should be commended for what’s he’s sacrificed to be here today” Sebastian explains, “but we shouldn’t force him to grow up making calls over someone’s life.”
“Sebastian, you need to stop trying to be Lou’s father” Courtney groans, her pleasant, almost welcoming demeanour parting at the tenacious reappearances of the group’s worst qualities. “Telling someone to ‘just be a kid’ is nothing but a handicap. They can’t afford to be depending on the grown-up’s to make calls anymore!” Courtney says through a sigh, “all of you need to wake up and stop thinking the world is still this peachy, wonderful land of opportunity.”
“Court’, no one’s saying he needs to sit in the corner and play video games all day” Rudy explains, his welcoming voice still maintaining its warmth, “we’re just saying he shouldn’t be strapped with this responsibility.” Turning the water knob off, Courtney takes a dry rag to her damp hands. “And I’m saying he should be. Not because he should grow up, but because none of you have yet” Courtney replies, stepping out of the room, “and we wouldn’t have this mess if you listened to him sooner.”
His shoes gently pressing into the frozen slush covering the ground, Lou and his gore-covered coat trudge through the woods, his eyes following a path of doubled ovals. “Where are you, big guy?” Lou whispers to himself, his hand grazing each tree he passes, the soft snow crunching beneath his step. “Where’s who?” A soft voice suddenly calls out from close behind, Lou’s body prompted to spin around, his hand spinning the rifle over his shoulder, ready to fire at a moment’s notice.
“It’s just me!” Marta exclaims, the surprise at the suddenness in Lou’s reaction prompting her hands to rise, “Jesus, you’re quick on the draw!” Rolling his eyes, Lou pulls the rifle over his back once more. “You don’t sneak up on a man like that” Lou asserts, pressing his back against a nearby tree, “especially not when he’s armed with a gun.”
“I’m sorry, I just didn’t know how to talk to you alone” Marta responds, following the man’s pressed-in footprints on her descent to him. “Talk to me alone?” Lou replies, his emphasis pushed upon the last word, “what’s important enough to warrant being said in secret?” Poorly dressed for the journey she followed him upon, Marta extends her hand toward her peer, quietly hoping for assistance.
With a sigh, Lou reaches forward, taking the young woman by the hand to guide her through the snow. “The same thing that warranted secrecy yesterday” Marta responds, hopping off the slightly elevated patch of dirt, her feet dragging against the snow as her velocity pulls her against Lou’s chest, her forehead nearly pressing against the man’s chin.
“I already answered you yesterday, so following me is pointless” Lou replies, nudging the woman a few feet way from him. “I’m not going to stop hastling you about it just because you say ‘no’” Marta responds, a grey sweater worn with blue jeans, the knees stained from multiple tumbles into the snow, a pair of fur boots adorned on her feet.
“Then you’re going to be wasting your time” Lou replies, turning away from the tree to return to his hunt, the woman’s footsteps matching his own. “Or maybe you’ll be wasting your time?” Marta responds, a glimmer in her voice, as if she knew something Lou himself did not, “like walking around in the woods hunting for food?”
“I don’t see how that’s a waste of time” Lou replies, a giggle held beneath his breath, “I don’t even know how one could consider that to-”
“Aaahhh!” Marta stands with her arms held to her sides, a loud, ear-piercing scream leaving her lungs, emphatically drifting throughout the air. Briefly braced for cover, Lou rushes back and forcefully pushes his hand over the woman’s mouth, a frantic expression on his face. “Why the fuck are you screaming!?” Lou grunts, bewildered by the display.
“‘Cause if that deer you’re hunting hears me, he’ll run away” Marta responds the moment Lou’s hand parts an inch from her lips, smiling at her response, “I think that’d make this whole trip a waste of your time.” his eyes widened, Lou shakes his head and rolls his eyes, refusing to encourage Marta’s demonstration. “You’re incorrigible” Lou mutters beneath his breath, just loudly enough for his shadow to hear.
“I’ll take that as a compliment” Marta replies, eagerly persisting with her plea. Continuing his journey, Lou brushes the woman’s presence aside, returning to his usual business. “I’m serious, though. I want you to teach me how to survive out here” Marta explains, a point Lou had already noticed. “Listen, I’ve heard Courtney talk about the places she’s flown to, everything she’s seen and had to do” Marta explains, a genuine yearning for Lou’s guidance, “I know everything she’s saying is true.”
Finally giving in, Lou turns back to the woman, offering Marta his undivided attention despite his best instincts encouraging him otherwise. “What is she telling you?” Lou responds, displeased with the woman’s unwavering desire to earn a different answer, though, quietly finding the lengths she’s willing to travel in order to do so admirable. “That the world is in chaos, people are despicable, everything is a threat, and we can’t hide out in our cabin forever” Marta replies with grief.
“Sebastian wrangled up all the dead and huddled them in the soup kitchen a few weeks after the phones went down” Marta recalls, “he didn’t want helicopters seeing them in the streets if they came to save us. He worried they’d think the town was a loss, and I think he’s still holding out that hope somewhere.”
Wrapping his fingers around the straps over his chest, Lou closes his mouth, letting Marta’s explanation emerge unopposed. “My dad thinks of himself as the rational one, but since you came along, he doesn’t seem as rational as we, or at least I, thought” Marta continues, her eyes swelling with desperation. “Silvano acts like a cooped up teen, Sonya and Rudy write off Courtney’s stories as paranoia, and Kim’s dead” Marta concludes, “and if things don’t change, I’m sure I will be too.”
Letting his eyes fall to the ground, Lou takes in Marta’s fears, letting them sit with him silently. “Why does Courtney think the cabin’s going to fall?” Lou wonders aloud, engrossed by the frequency this concern has been mentioned. “A few reasons. People keep poaching our food, we could runout of water, the hydro that powers our heaters can go out, and-” Marta pauses, clearly not joyous over admitting the final bit aloud, “the mountain’s prone to avalanches.”
His eyes squinting toward the far distance, Lou nods quietly to himself as Marta finishes her plea, fearing the day she speaks poorly of. “If you say ‘no’, I won’t bother you with it again. I won’t bring it up, and I’ll let it die here” Marta explains, regaining the man’s focus, “but without your help, I’ve got no chance when things go wrong, and they will go wrong. I understand the world is bad, and it’s not fair, and the whole nine-yards- but I don’t want to die.”
Recognizing the look of despair written over Marta’s mien, Lou presses the tip of his tongue against the inside of his cheek. “Get up before the sun rises, just like your dad does, not a minute later, and meet me at the freezer dressed properly” Lou responds, his hunt leaving him empty-handed as he returns to the woman, walking past to guide her back home, “and if your father finds out about this, if he even gets a whiff of this, the deal’s off.”
“Okay” Marta replies, taking Lou’s outstretched hand as he helps her climb the elevated patch of dirt, the smile on her face warm, “thank you.”
Nestled in his warm chair, Sebastian sits beneath the orange glow of his reading light, one finger pressed to his lips whilst another flips from one page to another. “I hope I’m not interrupting” Courtney says, her knuckles tapping against the oak-finished door frame. “Of course not, Court’” Sebastian responds, folding the corner of his page as the hard cover book shuts, “come on in.”
Taking the man at his insistence, Courtney enters the small room at the end of the hall, short shelves lining the walls and lying close to the ground. “Is there something I can help you with?” the man asks, thin, white curtains over the windows covering the deep blue sky outside, the moon just beginning to take over the duties of lighting the cold world below.
“I actually wanted to apologise for earlier” Courtney replies, the tips of her hands sliding into her pockets, “I do believe in what I said, about you, and about Lou, but I shouldn’t have said it like I did.” Sitting back in his seat, Sebastian removes his glasses, placing them on a glass table to his side. “I don’t hold what you said, or even how you said it, against you” Sebastian responds, his legs resting upon a cushioned step stool, “you don’t have anything to apologise for.”
Giving the man a nod, Courtney stands in the centre of the room for a moment, staring at the floor as she organises her thoughts. “I know there’s no one coming to save us, Court’” Sebastian proclaims, catching the woman by surprise, his own face holding the disappreciation of begrudging acceptance, “but there’s part of me that can’t let go of the hope that someone will. I don’t know if that someone is the government, or someone else. I just struggle to let go of it.”
Pulling a chair from the corner of the room, Courtney takes a seat, sensing more than just words being shared. “And I know Lou won’t be able to go back to school, or graduate, or do whatever else kids do now” Sebastian explains, a pain hidden in the smile he offers, “but that hopeful part of me doesn’t want to see him grow so disassociated from what life was like. I see Marta scrolling through her phone all day, and part of me worries Lou would never be able to go back to that someday.”
Dejected, Courtney pulls her chair up to Sebastian’s knees, her hands placed upon their tops as they lock eyes, the lack of joy she takes from having to speak immeasurable. “I know it’s hard, maybe even impossible to accept, but you need to try to convince yourself to see the truth” Courtney murmurs, her head somberly shaking from one side to another, “the life we used to live is dead, it is gone, and it is never coming back.”
Holding a straight face, Sebastian tries valiantly to hold back tears, the build up of his emotions forcing a dry sob from his core, his sturdy mask shattering into a swell of fervour. “I’m sorry, Sebastian” Courtney mumbles, resting her hand on the man’s shoulder as he cries, the piece he’d kept himself intact with shattering at once, the world’s true nature finally discovered for its true self.
“Those knocks really echo when you’re on the other side of the door” Lou exclaims, descending a metal set of warehouse stairs, setting out to answer the hefty knocks at his door. Releasing the entrance from its resting hinges, Lou looks into Adrian’s eyes, his intrigue in the man clambering for his attention dying instantly. “I should’ve known it was the dipshit” Lou mutters beneath his breath, stepping away as quickly as he stepped forward.
“You’ve had the group up in arms all damn day!” Adrian exclaims, his voice carried loudly within the spacious unit. “You’re the one who set out to watch someone have their leg gnawed at by an industrial-use bear trap, dipshit” Lou replies casually, not nearly as worked up as Adrian is, “if your group is worked up over anything, it’s only because you decided to give them something to be worked up over.”
“I made a mistake, okay!? I’ve apologised! What more do you need from me?” Adrian responds, Lou turning back with his eyes widened. “You’ve apolog- Well, I guess everything’s peachy then!” Lou shouts, his emphatic pitch holding a sarcastic, bashful linger, “it’s not like you killed a kid or anything, that would be insane!”
“I didn’t kill anyone, you’re the one talking about murder!” Adrian shouts, his face trembling with anger. Disgusted at how genuine Adrian’s refusal to accept blame is, Lou steps back up to the man in a blind rage, his open hand crashing against the side of Adrian’s face with enough force to take the man off his feet. “Look around, you fucking scumbag!” Lou growls, Adrian’s hand pressing against the side of his face, the man in disbelief at the power behind Lou’s strike.
“I’ll put it to you like this- Picture a turtle crossing the street on all four limbs. Pretty bad situation, wouldn’t you say?” Lou inquires, “now chop the fucker’s legs off and have it cross the street rolling on its shell. That’s what you’ve done to that kid!” Spitting on the ground beside Adrian, Lou steps back, nodding at the display he’s put forward.
“You sicken me, you pitiful bastard” Lou continues to howl, tired of approaching the man with a kind face. “You can’t accept that you know nothing. You walk around here trying to protect your family as if you weren’t the biggest fucking danger to it” Lou proclaims, his head bobbing from one side to another, “you can’t accept that you killed a kid out of blind, stupid ignorance- so you blame everyone else, and when they call you on your bullshit, you apologize and think that changes a thing.”
With a grimace, Lou pulls his head up, glaring at the heavens in disgust for what the sky oversees. “Is that the kind of man you are!?” Adrian exclaims, drawing Lou’s face back toward himself, finally returning to his feet, “hold someone’s worst mistake against them for the rest of their lives!?”
“You don’t seem to get anything! No one here holds you accountable for the shit you pull!” Lou exclaims, giving into the screaming match Adrian seems to beg for, “they let you parade around thinking you’re the only sane voice in the room.” Stepping up to the man, Lou tests Adrian’s perception, leaving himself open for Adrian to impose the physical superiority he seems comfortable displaying when actions are kept to words.
“So no, I’m not the kind of man to keep stroking the ego of your stuffy-nose self, jackass” Lou responds, a thought suddenly dawning upon him. “As a matter of fact, let me show you what kind of man I am” Lou replies, retreating to a small pile of his belongings in the corner, his fingers immediately wrapping around his rifle. “Come on, have a look for yourself” Lou gleefully exclaims, stepping through the door on his way back to the cabin.
“I didn’t expect the lidocaine to-” Sonya murmurs to Silvano, the two sets of feet bursting through the front door interrupting their conversation. “To anyone interested in facing the music, come on out from hiding!” Lou proclaims, giddy as if he’d just found a bundle of presents under the tree early on Christmas morning. “What’s going on?” Rudy inquires, stepping into the living room at the same time as Marta, both at a loss for words the moment they spot the gun in Lou’s hands.
“No! You can’t kill him!” Sonya exclaims, no further argument than that. “I’m not” Lou responds, watching both Courtney and Sebastian emerge from a separate section of the home, “Adrian is.”
“What kind of sick fucking game is this!?” Silvano exclaims, throwing himself away from the unconscious amputee once Lou takes the rifle toward him. “The one where you get the fuck out of the gun’s way or get shot” Lou replies without hesitation, both survivors quickly moving aside. “Why is my dad going to kill this guy?” Marta inquires, watching her mentor push the gun against Adrian’s chest.
“Because your dear, old dad is the man that made this mess” Lou responds, letting Adrian nervously wrap his hands around the weapon, his hands trembling in fear, “now he’s going to clean it up, because that’s the kind of man he is.”
“I’m not killing this guy!” Adrian hollers, his body quaking beneath the weight of his guilty conscience. “We genuinely don’t have any other option, Adrian!” Courtney bellows from afar, both Lou and his forced-gunman taking their attention to her, “if we let him go, he’s not going to make it a day. And even in the small chance that he makes it back home, he’ll tell all of his friends about what we did, and they’ll come back to take a lot more than just our food.”
“I can’t believe this!” Rudy shouts, both hands pressed against the sides of his head, “Sebastian, stop this!” Stood at Courtney’s side, Sebastian stares absently at Lou and his terror-filled second half, Rudy’s continuous call of his name only proving to be cannon fodder. “Sebastian!” Rudy calls from the other side of the room, again continuing to receive no response, “Sebastian, stop this crazy talk!”
Glancing back toward Rudy, Sebastian responds with a straight face. “No” the man replies, watching the befuddlement emerge on Rudy’s face as he looks back at Lou, his eyes eventually falling upon Adrian, “clean up this mess, Adrian.” His mouth agape, Adrian stares at the cabin’s owner in silence, his mind unable to process the order he’s been given. “Go ahead, Adrian” Lou whispers, the air calming for a brief, horrifying few seconds, “make amends for your mistake.”
Turning back to Lou, Adrian silently shakes his head in refusal, staring at the younger man like a deer in headlights. Shaking his head in disfavour, Lou takes the gun from Adrian’s hand and steadies it with ease, one squeeze of the trigger spraying blood upon the once-white wall. Choked up, Adrian stares at the body whilst Lou drops his gun to the floor, his hand wrapping around Adrian’s chin, pulling the man’s face toward his.
“You asked me what kind of man I was, but you don’t have the balls to do the same for yourself- so let me answer on both of our behalves” Lou explains, lowering his voice to a whisper, “you’re the guy that makes a mess expecting not to be forced to answer for it, whereas I’m the guy that has to clean up the messes people like you make.”
Strolling out the front door, Lou wraps his hand around a shovel and pries it from the dirt, dragging the dirt-covered socket back into the home, and over the dried blood-stained carpet. “Now that I’ve cleaned up your mess-” Lou shouts, pressing the tool against Adrian’s chest as he had both the wallet and the rifle, looking him in the eyes as he brings his voice to a whisper once more, “-go clean up mine.”
Seething, Lou retrieves his rifle from the ground, proudly throwing it over his shoulder once more as he makes for the exit. “Goodnight” Lou sternly bellows, pushing the glass barrier out as he walks into the bleak, dreary night, leaving those within the cabin to pick up where he leaves off.
== RISE and REVOLT ==