“They’ll be ready in twenty and I’ll be heading out in thirty, alright?” Lou remarks, walking beside Lee until their paths split, his hand patting the camp’s ruler on the shoulder. Walking the opposite direction, Ned holds a dreary look on his face, concealing his lingering pain well. “Good morning, Lou” Ned mutters as his path crosses with Lou’s, never once making eye contact with the new resident. “Good morning” Lou replies, watching the man walk a few extra steps before continuing forward.
Dipping through the vestibule of his new home, Lou waits for any sound to emerge from the many sleeping bags his tent’s floor is lined with. Dawn just arriving, Lou cups his hands around his mouth and takes in a deep breath. “Wake up. Get your shit and wake up” Lou beckons, a few sparse groans and aggravated sighs greeting him. “Most of us already were” Marta responds from the tent’s farthest reaches, her voice unstifled as if she hadn’t spent a minute sleeping through the prior night.
“What’s wrong?” Sebastian groans, his voice trifled by the exhaustion of a short, dissatisfying sleep. “Nothing, I’m just waking you up” Lou replies, his lack of care over how the group reacts proven by the way he speaks, clearly and without suppression. “What’s the point of that?” Sonya groans, displeased with the sight of a still largely-lightless morning.
“There is no point to it” Lou responds, stepping up to the bags beside his floor-covering blanket, “but you can’t just lay around all day anymore.” More irritable than his youngest daughter, Rudy maintains his defiance. “Like hell I can’t” Rudy mumbles, pulling his thin, puffy blanket further over his shoulders, allowing it’s bead-stuffed collar to warmly graze his neck. Shrugging, Lou unscrews the cap to his water bottle and walks up to Rudy’s bag, taking a swig in the midst of his journey.
“What the hell!?” Rudy shouts, the warmth of his blanket overwhelmed by the cold stream of water rushing over his face. Holding back a satisfied smirk, Lou downs what’s left in his bottle before returning to his bag. “Listen, if any of you want to lie in bed all day, then be my guest” Lou explains, kneeling beside his bag while he throws his prosthetic case over his shoulder, “but just know, we’ve all been told the rules.”
Quietly pulling her pants up as she reaches for a sweater, Courtney prepares for her day as if it were any other, the fan of her paramotor conveniently laid beside her bed. “If you don’t contribute to the camp, you don’t get to reap its rewards” Lou clarifies, paying no mind to Rudy and Sonya, who frustratedly sit up from their respective beds, “that means no food, no hot water, and my favourite- no coffee.”
The tent filling with groans, Lou takes a glance at Marta, watching her continue to dress for the cold weather as her father approaches. “Can I talk to you for a second?” Adrian quietly wonders, stood with his hands in the pockets of his baggy sweatpants. Answering with a nod, Lou follows the man into the frigid, morning air until they reach a picnic table.
“Is there something I can help you with, Adrian?” Lou inquires, cold winds throwing his hair away from his face. Silent at first, Adrian ponders to himself quietly, his eyes drawn toward the newly-built, already-weathered wall off toward the deeper ends of the camp. “I don’t know” Adrian replies, leaning the knuckles of his coupled hands against his bottom lip, “I can’t sleep. I can’t even close my eyes without thinking about what I did.”
His hand tucked in his pocket, Lou remains stood across the table, waiting for the question to be asked. “You covered for me last night” Adrian finally murmurs, his stare beginning to turn back to the man across the table, “why did you cover for me?” Letting out a sigh, Lou lowers himself upon the bench. “Why would I want to throw you under the bus?” Lou responds, his eyes peeled, head tilted to one side, “what good comes of that?”
“You get rid of the crazy guy that can’t clean up his messes” Adrian replies without skipping a beat, “I’m sure you’ve got plenty more problems to deal with. It’d be an easy way to just pick one off without having to go to sleep with regret.”
“How would that make it easy for me to sleep?” Lou responds, a calmly confrontive voice interrupting Adrian’s thought, “I’d be marking you for death in front of your daughter. It’s not like I’m without a conscience.” Their eyes still kept upon each other, Adrian bows his head. “So this was for Marta?” Adrian replies, corrected by the one-armed man immediately. “No, it was because I chose to” Lou responds, hesitant to say more than that.
“Why did you choose to?” Adrian replies, leaving no room for any silent seconds to pass, “I’ve done nothing to deserve being spared by you, so why take the fall for me?” His arm draped over the table, Lou leans forward slightly, his head bowing just as Adrian’s does. “I know these people, and I’m sure they’re much more forgiving with me than they would be you” Lou responds, following Adrian’s lead of immediate answers, “I could get away with it.”
“But you didn’t have to take that risk” Adrian replies, again holding Lou’s claims close to the fire, “you stood up, took responsibility for my actions, and you didn’t waste a second doing so.” Sprouting a smile, Lou puts on a welcoming expression. “Am I supposed to feel bad for keeping you from getting killed?” Lou responds, trying to shed light on an unnerving situation he wishes not to further encourage.
“No, but you did it for a reason, and I need to know what that reason is” Adrian replies, matching Lou’s lean over the table, “I’ve been nothing but trouble to you, but you saved me anyway. Tell me why.” Overcome with exasperation, Lou slams his fist against the table as he throws himself back upon his feet. Remaining seated, Adrian looks up, watching Lou stare down at him from the higher position, not a word leaving his lips.
“I did. I don’t have an answer for you, I just did” Lou responds, using the preceding seconds to let the tension work itself out before responding, “I don’t care what you’ve done. It’s a new world now, and you’re getting the chance to make something of yourself in it.” The wind changing directions, Lou’s hair begins to fall in front of his face, the ends of his long mane strewn over his nose and mouth.
Not wishing to continue the conversation further, Lou walks away, returning to his tent whilst Adrian remains at the table, watching the younger gentleman slither through the vestibule. His head falling into his hands, Adrian remains conflicted, whispering to himself as the weather continues to worsen.
= 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 =
“This is nonsense” Rudy argues, throwing a heavy jacket over his broad shoulders. “Rudy, you’ve been complaining for the last twenty-four hours” Sebastian remarks, tightening gloves over his hands, “give it a rest.” A disgusted look on his face, Rudy stares at his once-leader, opening his mouth to speak until Theo’s words cut him off.
“I will have none of this arguing here, or out in the woods” Theo explains, fully dressed for the winter conditions surrounding him. “I’ve told Lou you’d all be brought back in one piece, so keep me from wanting to put a slug in your heads and we’ll be fine and dandy” Theo concludes, continuing to watch Sebastian’s group dress for the occasion. “Are we meeting the rest on our way?” Adrian wonders from the back, treating the group’s young guide with an unusual amount of decency.
“No, we will not” Theo replies, his hands coupled behind his back as he paces through the tent, “Lou has decided to continue training Marta himself, and Courtney is more than comfortable in this world as is.” Looking up, Sonya’s unpleased expression turns into momentary curiosity. “Lou’s training Marta? Since when?” the youngest woman wonders aloud. “It’s a recent thing, I think” Sebastian responds, tightening his second glove, “they go out at sunrise and come back when noon hits.”
“That’s what they’ve been doing?” Sonya replies, taken back by this revelation, “I thought they were sneaking out to fuck.” Adrian’s eyes immediately shooting toward the younger woman, Sonya throws her hands out in surrender, mouthing the word ‘sorry’ with her jacket halfway fallen from her shoulder.
“Just hurry up and get dressed for god’s sake” Theo responds, raising the watch on his wrist toward his face, disappointed in the result he finds. “Are you at least going to tell us where my daughter went?” Rudy replies, the side-eye he gets from Theo doing little to please him. “If Courtney didn’t tell you already, she’d prefer you not to know” Theo responds, taking pleasure in denying the bitter man the information requested, “the right to privacy isn’t something that’s lost on us.”
Turning away, Theo walks for the vestibule, ducking through the nylon flaps. “We leave in five” Theo remarks, vanishing through the tent’s lone opening, “be ready to go or be ready to play catch up.”
Following Lou’s trail, Marta hikes up a snow-covered slope, grabbing onto every sky-piercing tree she passes. “You still haven’t told me why we’re out here” Marta remarks, holding onto each breath she can pull as the terrain only grows steeper, “I guessed it’d be another hunt, but you’ve made me begin to think I guessed wrong.”
“That’s because you did” Lou replies, ascending the hill without struggle of any kind, his eyes kept on the hill’s summit. “Thanks for letting me know now” Marta responds, the sarcastically bitter tone in her voice bringing a smile to Lou’s face, “I would have hated to go out into the woods not knowing why I was going out into the woods. That would have been awful.”
“Poke all the fun you want, it won’t keep me from being tight-lipped” Lou replies, leaping atop a large boulder before waiting for Marta to catch up. “Will you at least tell me why you’re keeping it a secret?” Marta responds, taking the hand Lou extends toward her, helping her climb the large stone. “I’m not telling you what we’re doing because I’d prefer to show you what we’re doing” Lou replies, reclaiming the hike’s lead, “does that put your mind to rest?”
Humorously sullen, Marta leans her head from one side to the other, “I guess it makes it better, sure” she responds, watching Lou’s smile as he glances over his shoulder. Their walk continuing for another half-kilometre in silence, Marta’s mind begins to wrap itself around one question, an inquiry her heart tells her to leave unspoken, though her brain implores her to wonder aloud.
“Can you believe it’s only been two weeks since we all met?” Marta probes, settling for a less-invasive question than the one digesting her mind. “I can, as a matter of fact” Lou replies, pressing his foot upon a fallen tree left obstructing his path, “Three months have passed since I turned eighteen, yet it feels like it’s been three years.”
“You’ve got a September birthday too?” Marta enthusiastically questions, her delight making Lou’s grin impossible to hide. “September 7th” Lou responds, climbing another slope with the assistance of a tree stump. “September 17th” Marta utters, following the same ‘tree trunk-pull’ maneuver she’d watch Lou perform, “Dad and I were planning on going to a Canucks game that week, but everything went to hell, and we spent the day camping out at the cabin instead.”
“I’m sorry to hear that” Lou replies, the hill’s summit finally coming into his sights, “I don’t know anything about hockey, which I’m sure is a sin to you, but I know the Kings sucked, so there wasn’t a reason for me to care anyway.” Laughing, the question Marta intended to ask begins to evade her, plenty of others left to take their place. “How was yours?” Marta wonders, the only obstacle now remaining in her path being the incline ahead, “was it before or after the zombies?”
“The day of, actually” Lou responds, his hand swaying calmly by his side, “I spent it getting shit faced in the music room the day our priest decided to poison everyone.” Her eyes widening, Marta looks up at the man ahead of her, watching him stop in the middle of the ascent with a smile on his face. “I know what you’re thinking, holy shit is right” Lou remarks, returning to the path, “and Catholicism is a weirdly hypocritical thing, so don’t ask me to make sense of it, please.”
Trying to laugh off what Lou had said, Marta takes her mind elsewhere, the question she wishes would leave her alone prying at her mind once more. “You never did say how you got here from Los Angeles” Marta recalls, her voice still carrying its weight in curiosity. “Not much to talk about, to be honest. I held up in our school with friends, it eventually got overrun, we packed our shit and fled” Lou explains, the ground beginning to even out as they close in on the summit.
“We followed an evacuation signal to a boat, boarded on the coast of the city and took it north” Lou continues, finally reaching the mountain’s peak, “it went down off the coast of Victoria, and I hiked up to your cabin from there.” Following the last few footprints, Marta climbs the final step just as she begins to ask another question. “Are the-?” Marta stops, sharing the view Lou can’t help himself but look at, her eyes widening at what lays beneath them.
“Welcome home, Marta” Lou proclaims, his face bathed in the light of the midwinter sun as he stares out at the abandoned Victoria skyline. “We’re- we’re going into the city?” Marta replies, a sudden sensation of fear burying itself deep within her bones. “I’ve learned that the dead are much slower when it’s cold” Lou explains, digging the sharp-end of his rebar pipe into the dirt beside him, freeing his hand to reach behind his back, “we’re going to get familiar with fighting the dead today.”
“Lou, I can’t-” Marta begins to murmur, only for yet another obstacle to impede her thought-process’ progress. “Before I forget, this is yours now” Lou interrupts, extending his hand to present the woman with a silver pistol with a wood-stained grip, “use it only when absolutely necessary.”
“I- I- I don’t know how to use- one of those” Marta responds, a response Lou had come to anticipate. “I didn’t either, but I had good people to rely on. This one in particular, well, she taught me enough” Lou explains, pushing a button near the trigger guard twice. “It’s on safety right now, and when you need to use it, you’ll push the button down once and aim at what you need to” Lou explains, turning the weapon over to Marta’s anxious hands, “only ever aim at something you intend to shoot.”
“I don’t want this, Lou. I- I don’t- no, thank you” Marta replies, trying to return the weapon to its original owner. Laughing, Lou reclaims the gun and immediately turns to fit it in the waistband of Marta’s pants, the back of her shirt left covering the protruding grip. “I don’t give a shit if you’re scared- this is how the world works, this is what’s needed of you” Lou explains, ripping his pipe from the frozen ground beside him, “but it won’t be needed of you today.”
At a loss for words, Marta shakes her head in place of asking the question itself. “I said it’s what is needed of you- not that it’s what you have to do” Lou explains, jutting his chin toward the bag draped over Marta’s shoulder, “open it.” As instructed, Marta clings to any excuse to forget about the weapon residing behind her back. “Jackets?” Marta curiously says aloud, turning her attention back to the man at her side, “what do we need jackets for?”
“Because there are other ways around the dead without having to kill them” Lou responds, another smirk developing in the corner of his mouth, “for example, why not just hide amongst them?”
“How long have you known Lou?” Sebastian queries, Adrian following closely behind him, whilst Sonya follows her father’s stride just ahead. “Since we were kids” Theo replies, his rifle instinctively carried close to his chest, “why do you ask?” Surprised, Sebastian stumbles over an apology. “I- I didn’t mean offence by it, I’m sorry” Sebastian explains, the heavy bag he carries over his shoulder draining him over breath consistently, “it’s just- he doesn’t really tell us anything.”
Chuckling, Theo begins to shake his head, a gesture Rudy finds offence in. “Is there something amusing you’d like to share with us?” the older man calls out from the back of the group, a black winter coat covering his flannel button-up. “I find it amusing that, however long you’ve known Lou, you’ve yet to pick up that he doesn’t like talking about his private life” Theo explains, letting out another laugh, “I would’ve assumed anyone would’ve figured that out by now- even you.”
“Is it a trust thing?” Sebastian asks, immediately jumping on the opportunity provided to him, “do we have to gain his trust before he talks to us?” Squinting, Theo turns back to face those nipping at his heels, their faces many different shades of disgruntled. “Why do you care so much?” Theo responds, stopping their travel in its track, “is there no part of you that can accept he doesn’t want to open up like a story book for all of you to read?”
Attempting to speak, Sebastian’s words evade him, leaving him a wide-mouthed man with nothing to say. Taking Sebastian’s silence for what it is, Theo turns back to restart the hike, only to think better immediately. “You know what? Lou has told you, multiple times now, that he doesn’t want to get close to all of you. Guess what? I don’t blame him” Theo reveals, his tone turning nasty, “none of you- none of you listened to him when you had the chance. You’re all just weights on his ankles.
“Are you telling us that we’re holding him back?” Sebastian replies, matching the vigour in Theo’s voice. “Yeah, I am. He gave you every chance to get ahead of this, and now I’m stuck with your mess” Theo barks, refusing to hold his feelings back, “you people are the kind that get other people- better people killed. You’re the kind that refuse to listen to reason, live in a fantasy world, and get people hurt by sitting on your ass drinking cocoa and singing showtunes.”
“Are we not out here!?” Sebastian shouts back, throwing his hands out at each side, “are we living in a fantasy world!? Are we sipping cocoa and singing show tunes!? Or are we swallowing our pride, taking one on the chin, and learning to accept the facts?” The pair having now escalated into a shouting match, Sebastian and Theo argue back and forth, neither willing to give up the high ground.
“You’re only out here now because you’ve got nowhere else to turn to!” Theo responds, “and if it weren’t for that avalanche, you’d be right back to pretending everything was fine!” Squeezing between the two survivors, Adrian raises his voice loud enough for the bickering duo to claim defeat. “That’s enough, motherfuckers!” Adrian bellows, his voice pinging from one tree to another, “we’re not doing this now!”
Both having fallen silent, Theo and Sebastian take their focus onto the man between them, listening to every word he speaks. “We can all whine about what we should have done with the power of hindsight, but it changes nothing!” Adrian exclaims, the cold bringing drivel from his nose, “we all did, in the moment, whatever it was we did. We can regret it, we can take pride in it, or we can move on and put the past where it belongs- in the fucking past!”
Swallowing the spit that builds in the back of his throat as he wipes his nose, Adrian shares a look with both men before reclaiming his original place behind Sebastian, both men left silently staring at the other.
“Aim for the head, preferably the eyes and temples, got it?” Lou whispers, crouched beside Marta behind the cover of a brick wall, his rebar carried in Marta’s hands. Flashing five fingers, Lou lets the seconds pass, what are any other five seconds to him elapsing as if they were eternity to the nervous woman at his left. As his final finger falls, Lou throws his hand at the wooden door separating himself from the street-shuffling dead, making way for his weapon-wielding protege.
Tackling her position head-on, Marta dashes through the exit as her eyes set on the closest corpse, relying on her instincts immediately. Pressing his fingers against his lip, Lou lets out a glorious whistle, drawing the undead army’s attention toward their direction. Slowly turning to face the chirping squeal, Marta’s corpse takes an instant liking to her presence, it’s pearly-white eyes widening at her sight.
“Aarrgghh!” the corpse groans, extending its arms toward Marta as she wields the sharpened end of the pipe, swiftly piercing the corpse’s eye as Lou takes over, catching the body as the pipe rips free from its socket. “Back to the lot!” Lou shouts, dragging the corpse back the way he came before hurling it on the ground once returned to safety, the wooden door slammed shut on Marta’s way in.
“Alright, do you still have that knife I gave you?” Lou wonders aloud, the question immediately earning a look of disgust from the woman.
“That was disgusting” Marta murmurs, sat beside the fireplace of an abandoned family home, its furniture in as exquisite a condition as the home itself. “You’ll get used to it” Lou responds, sipping gingerly upon a bottle of warm beer, “when you can walk with the same things that caused the end of the world, that jacket will smell like an apple orchard.”
Shrugging her shoulders, Marta flashes a smile in Lou’s direction, “agree to disagree” she replies with a laugh as the firepit’s embers graze the soles of her feet. Her smile disbanding into a hollow frown, Marta’s thoughts become entangled with the same question she struggles to keep at bay, desperately fighting to keep it from falling out of her lips.
“What’s wrong?” Lou suddenly asks, sat in a recliner a short distance from the pit, his index and middle fingers wrapped around the rim of his bottle, which hangs loosely beside the chair. “What do you mean?” Marta responds, finally warm enough to retreat to the nearby couch with relative comfort. “You look despondent” Lou replies, watching Marta slowly sink into the couch’s welcoming embrace, “I don’t know exactly what that word means, but I’m comfortable enough in saying it means ‘down’.”
Her head hanging, Marta remains silent, looking away from Lou as he grows more curious. “Whatever it is, I’m here” Lou reiterates, watching the woman’s eyes drift back toward him, “I told you I’d be here for you, and I’m a man of my word.” Biting into her lip, Marta’s eyes show worry, “you said you didn’t want to grow attached” she mutters beneath her breath, hesitant to say more.
Slightly reluctant, Lou gives into the woman’s thoughts, opening the floor to whatever Marta wishes. “Go ahead” Lou responds, letting Marta sit in her anxiety for a few seconds as he climbs out of the recliner, walking over to occupy the other loveseat cushion, “whatever it is, go ahead. No restrictions.”
His invitation prompting her lips to throw out the words on her mind, Marta gives in. “Last night, Lee made you promise on Ally’s name that you were telling him the truth” Marta explains, watching the man’s eyes fall, already expecting the question that has lingered for long enough, “who’s Ally?”
Letting a deep sigh roll through his nose, Lou takes a much longer swig of beer before setting the bottle on the floor, his shortened arm draped over the couch’s back. “Ally is my girlfriend” Lou replies, his scruffy beard, overgrown hair and pale face lit a miraculate orange by the distant fireplace. “I’ve been with her long enough to know I don’t want to love anyone else the way I do her” Lou explains, his tone gentle, “and I revert to my Catholic ways every night, praying to see her again.”
An embarrassed look on her face, Marta nods out of acceptance, giving Lou the same smile she’d offered many times prior. “I didn’t know, I’m sorry” Marta responds, deeply pained, but mature in her refusal to let this divulgence dissuade her from enjoying Lou’s company. “I wouldn’t have kissed you if I-” Marta begins to explain, the words taken from her amidst the room’s calm aura, Lou quick to keep her from finishing her apology.
“You don’t need to apologise” Lou interjects, looking the woman in the eyes as his halved-arm pats her on the shoulder, “it’s water under the bridge.” Keeping herself from shedding a tear, Marta flashes another smile and offers a second nod as she turns to the fire, losing herself in its tearing flames. Pressing her head into Lou’s chest, Marta lays across what remains of the couch, quietly enjoying the night as Lou rests his hand on her shoulder, accepting their closer ties.
Lowering from the skies, Courtney descends upon the coastline of a large, uninhabited island as her parachute slowly falls upon the ground in her wake. Adorned with an assortment of bags, Courtney calmly strolls across a long, dirt path lined with various barns. Rolling her parachute into a ball, Courtney reaches a redecorated home at the path’s end. Removing her paramotor whilst stood on her front patio, Courtney drags the many bags through the front door, vanishing within the home.
Letting a few minutes pass, Courtney eventually returns to the patio, reclaiming her paramotor and the accompanying parachute as she carries them back into the home. Her work finished, Courtney gently presses the door shut while her opposite hand flips a nearby lightswitch, bathing the home in light as the moon rises over Vancouver Island.
== RISE and REVOLT ==