\ Realm of Reality /
“There must have been something you did” Vic whispers to herself, her bikini and tunic dress replaced by a pair of grey slacks and a blue button up shirt. Her bedroom barely smaller than the parlour on the opposite side of the room, Vic sits within its corner, her eyes glued to the moving screen of her computer as countless snapshots flutter up from the screen’s bottom before vanishing beyond its top.
Though each photograph, some in colour whilst others remain in their original, black and white form, flashes by her face, not a single one stands out as familiar, each face as unaccustomed to her as the next. “Fuck!” Scarlett exclaims, slamming into a wall just beyond Vic’s closed bedroom door, her feet carrying her past Vic’s room and to her own a slight distance further.
Her attention taken from the screen, Vic waits silently as Scarlett’s shoes tap along the ground, counting every step in her head. Pressing her hand against the wall, Scarlett proceeds to her bedroom, the door quietly closing behind her in an effort to avoid a confrontation. “Rough day?” Vic wonders aloud, appearing in the centre of the room with her arms crossed, startling the already-dazed blonde enough for Scarlett to trip over herself retreating, her weight sent into the door.
“Jesus! What the hell’s gotten into you!?” Vic exclaims, lowering her arms as she steps forward, attempting to provide aid for her obviously-troubled friend. “No! I don’t need help!” Scarlett shouts, slapping Vic’s hand the moment her skin’s graced by it, quickly attempting to push herself up. “Scarlett, what’s going on!?” Vic inquires, watching the woman wave off her help as she uses the wall for support, “you look like a fucking mess!”
“Thanks, hot stuff- I’ll be sure to put that in my memoir!” Scarlett jests, discarding her knapsack in the room’s corner as she advances toward a set of drawers near her bed. “You get my point- what’s going on?” Vic responds, yet to redirect her attention, though Scarlett wishes she would. “Nothing’s wrong, just leave it alone” Scarlett replies, reaching for the first t-shirt that finds her hand as she interrupts Vic’s attempt to do dissimilarly, “leave it the fuck alone, Vic!”
Her mouth hanging open for just a moment, Vic’s lips soon press together, her friend’s dirt-covered tank top and grass stained jeans replaced for a baggy blue t-shirt and a pair of blue jean shorts. “This is how it’s gonna happen, isn’t it?” Vic wonders aloud, provoking Scarlett into matching her attempt at productive dialogue with purposefully vague statements.
“How what happens?” Scarlett half-heartedly asks, not as interested in the discussion as she is in unravelling the open-ended nature of Vic’s remark. “How we get to killing each other. This is how it starts, isn’t it?” Vic replies, watching Scarlett’s face turn toward her slightly, her pupils taken to the corners of her eyes, “you shut me out until we grow distant. Then we’ll just be two strangers fighting for a piece of furniture.”
Scoffing at the suggestion, Scarlett shakes her head, throwing the blue t-shirt over her stained top, “we’re not gonna kill each other, Vic” she replies, wishing to put the discourse aside. “Then make up your fucking mind, Scar!” Vic yells, her friend purposefully offering her the cold shoulder, “are we incapable of defying what the realm wants, or are we gonna spend the rest of our lives living in denial about what it wants.”
“It wants us to get rid of Suzie” Scarlett replies, the mere sight of comfortable pants bringing Scarlett audible relief in the form of a sigh. “So, that’s your plan? Keep her alive until we don’t have to kill each other anymore?” Vic inquires, again met with little assistance from Scarlett, who struggles to slide off the tight denim holding onto her legs for the dearest of life.
“My plan is that I don’t have a fucking plan” Scarlett replies, forcefully prying her leg free from the jeans’ restrictive cuff, “as long as she’s around, the realm’s not interested in anything else.” Covering her eyes with her hand, Vic rubs her temples with the tip of her fingers, trying to relieve herself of a headache she can feel beginning to build.
“And what happens when we get rid of her?” Vic inquires, her second hand seeking comfort atop her hip, “we just pretend we don’t know what it wants from there?” Scowling, Scarlett lowers her feet into the jean shorts, her answer barely loud enough to make it out from beneath her breath. “Then we take it one day at a time” Scarlett replies, buttoning her pants as they slide past her thighs, her ensemble only in need of a decent pair of running shoes.
Left in silence for a moment, Scarlett grabs the first pair of chequered shoes from the near rack, her feet slid into their comfortable embrace as she prepares to leave. “Why are you trying to push me away?” Vic inquires, raising the question just as Scarlett’s shoulder brushes her own, the blonde stopping mid-step once the query reaches her ear.
Her bottom lip pressed between her teeth, Scarlett takes two steps back, looking Vic in the eyes as the question lingers, fluttering through the air having yet to be answered. Looking Vic in the eyes, Scarlett remains silent, her mouth opening without any intention of offering an answer. Cutting her losses, Scarlett leaves the qualm where it resides, resuming her departure by stepping past Vic and reclaiming her knapsack, the snap of her finger accompanying her elsewhere.
Watching Scarlett vanish, Vic remains in the position she was left standing in, her chin lifting toward the ceiling as she shakes her head, letting free a deep sigh. “We’re losing it” Vic whispers to herself, closing her eyes as she makes for the door, departing Scarlett’s room in favour of her own, the slightest grasp she’d once held toward hope growing weaker as the days pass.
= Dream Sequence is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
\ Realm of Reality /
“El pollo. ¿Dónde está?” Jared inquires, approaching a man at random as Rachel follows closely behind with a shopping cart. Inspecting Jared for a moment, the old man holds back a laugh at the sight of a pasty young man trying his best to speak his language. “El letrero que dice 'asador' en la parte trasera del mercado. Ve allí” the man replies, speaking too fast for Jared to understand much of what’s said, the important parts luckily sticking out from the rest.
“Gracias” Jared remarks, the wheels on the trolley behind him nearly drowning out the man’s response of “si seguro”. After a few moments, the pair reach the rotisserie, its line relatively short and manageable. “This place has a bank nearby, right?” Rachel whispers to the nearest person, a confused look worn on the woman’s face. “¿Hay un banco aquí?” Jared interjects, already becoming too familiar with earning the same expression.
“Creo que hay un Regional cerca de la parte de atrás de la tienda” the woman replies, her finger aimed across the shop’s interior. “We use Regional, right?” Jared queries, his answer given in the form of a nod, “she said there’s probably one at the back of the store.”
“Can you keep an eye on the cart?” Rachel inquires, stepping away from its handle as Jared takes her place, freeing her to make the journey through stocked shelves and patterned floors. As she nears the bank, Rachel takes a quick glance in the direction she’d arrived, reluctant to believe she hadn’t been followed without proof. “¿Retiro o depósito?” the clerk inquires, watching Rachel approach the desk cautiously, her hands restless and anxious.
“Can I use your phone?” Rachel queries, the same response she’d earned from the lady near the rotisserie now given to her by the cashier. “Fuck- uh” Rachel murmurs, her pinky finger and thumb extending as she holds her hand against the side of her head, “Phone? Teléfono?”
Assuming the woman is unable to speak spanish, the clerk quietly nods her head, retrieving the landline from beneath the counter before setting it down before the concerned woman. “Thank y- Gracias” Rachel mutters, removing the phone from the receiver before taking a moment to recall the number, a few seconds passing before her fingers make contact with the buttons.
Her hand shaking, Rachel’s dialling concludes as she lifts the phone to her ear, her quivering breaths playing out with the empty buzzing sound from the opposite end of the call. “Hi, you’ve reached the Endrue residency, we’re unfortunately not at the phone” the answering message remarks, Rachel’s eyes beginning to tear as their lids press together, a smile brought upon her face as the familiar voices speak to her.
“Please leave a message, and we’ll call you back the first chance we get!” her mother’s welcoming voice concludes, falling silent just as the machine takes over. “H- hi, mom” Rachel stutters, trying to wipe the tears from her eyes before the clerk begins to assume something was wrong, “it’s Rachel.”
Not having fleshed out what she’d wanted to say, Rachel says whatever the first things to cross her mind are, her heart inspiring most of the one-sided discourse. “I just wanted to tell you that I’m alright. I’m okay and I’m healthy. There was a little- uh- fogginess, we’ll say- but that’s all better now” Rachel explains, the coff of her long-sleeved shirt beginning to dampen with salty tears, “I just wanted to tell you that I’m okay, and that you shouldn’t worry about me.”
The sadness she carries evident in her voice, Rachel musters a mood-defying smile, trying to make peace with the world she’d been unceremoniously welcomed into. “I have to lay low for a little bit, but I’m okay and-” she continues, the true sorrow she holds deep within beginning to grow beyond her reach, “-and I miss you. I miss you, and I miss dad. I miss Praireville, and I miss everything. I’m trying to keep our morale high over here, so I haven’t been able to say that in so long.”
Taking in a deep breath, Rachel continues to say her peace, her elbow pressed against the hard countertop as she continues. “I miss my life, and I miss just being able to be there with you. I’m happy where I am, but it’s just so hard being away” Rachel furthers, her tears just starting to fall from her chin, “I hope this will all just be over soon. I hope I can pretend this was all one strange, and weird, and fucked up dream. I hope everything will just be normal again, y’know?”
Fearing the possibility of the machine cutting her off, Rachel begins to finish her message, the smile held steady upon her face despite the overwhelming pit built within her core. “I’ve got to go now, but I wanted you to know I was okay. I wanted you to know that everything’s gonna be alright” Rachel concludes, an expression of confidence replacing the dejection-laden visage she’d worn moments prior.
“I’ll come home one day. I’ll see you again” Rachel continues, the dolour behind her words replaced with a stoic assurance, “I love you, mom and dad. Be safe.” Abruptly ending the call, Rachel returns the phone to its receiver and bows her head in the teller’s direction, returning too Jared’s side as she wipes the tears from her face, a newfound purpose discovered.
\ Paradox /
“I just can’t help myself, can I?” Vic mutters to herself, continuing to walk the trail beneath a dark, stormy night in search of one building in particular. Each step carrying her over loose gravel, Vic nears the top of a hill, sparse droplets of water beginning to fall as the sky grows lighter in the distance, its gloomy, night time glow replaced by the deep, orange hue of an evening sunset.
Each step carrying her closer, the sunset-sights reveal themselves for what they truly are, the pellets of rain gradually continuing to fall harder, slowly building up as sirens draw close. “What the hell?” Vic mutters to herself, watching flames climb toward the heavens, undisturbed by the fact that their reach just fails to measure up to what sits above. In unmanageable flames, the town house burns beneath the night sky, its wooden structure doomed the moment heat began to build.
“Help!” a familiar voice screams, pleading with the fire trucks to drive faster, not a single one carrying the water needed to put out such a fleet of furious flames. Her walk having turned into a run, which now turns into a hover as she glides through the air, Vic draws closer to the siblings, their faces flushed with a perilles despair.
“Two of them are on the-” Lincoln begins to explain, the first firefighter he encounters shoving him back with his shoulder, running through the large man whilst disregarding his plea. “Hey!” Suzie exclaims, beginning to chase after the man responsible for her brother’s attack, her anger directing itself upon the worker.
As her chase persists, Suzie’s forced into a full stop, the sound of structural groaning now carries itself through the yard as the top-most level begins to descend. Having given his sister chase, Lincoln takes the young woman by the arm and pulls her back, tackling her to the ground as the flames shoot outward from the home, propelled forward by the home itself, the wooden structure giving out as its supports burn beyond repair.
If not by the soaring flames that tear through the air of a hot, summer’s night, the souls still clinging to life within the building are crushed beneath the weight of its edifice, their survival all but unfavourable if any hope had been spared to begin with. Having seen the building’s toppling as an inevitability, Lincoln’s last shred of hope dies off in the final moment, his efforts to save his sister from permanent scarring now the only good he can do.
Unable to watch, Suzie buries her face in the freshly-cut grass, listening to the building howl as it crashes into the ground, a heavy gust of wind carrying the flames throughout, targeting the firefighters tending to its control first and foremost. With a flurry of shouts, the workers collapse to the ground, tending to their wounds as best they can whilst others tend to them, the lack of a warning making it impossible to escape the home’s wrath before it was too late.
“Chris, tell me it didn’t fall!” Suzie exclaims, her eyes pressed together as the roaring ceases, the back of her head pelted with raindrops as the storm begins to roll in. “Chris!” Suzie shouts for a second time, her arms forcibly pressing his sister’s hands to her sisters, not wanting to let the woman go.
“I can’t do that, Suz’” Lincoln replies, shielding the woman’s face with his shoulder, remaining as composed as he can manage in the face of their family’s demise. Despite the siblings not knowing, Vic remains watching over them, stood in the grass just a short distance away with her arms hung, the knowledge she has of the pair making it difficult to perceive this moment as legitimate and genuine, a very similar feeling to that of their final encounter left with her.
\ Realm Beyond /
“Just tell me you didn’t take sleeping pills to get in here” Esotera remarks, accompanying Scarlett through the realm with a concerned look on her face. “I’m not asleep” Scarlett replies, met with a look of surprise. “You’re not asleep?” Esotera responds, the inquiry one Scarlett takes little concern over, confirming it with relative ease.
“Scarlett, you’re vulnerable here!” Esotera warns, stepping in front of the woman to prevent her advancement any further, “if you’re not asleep, you’re not protected in here. You don’t get that safety net!” Her hand placed against Esotera’s shoulder, Scarlett gently shoves the woman away from her path, a lack of care taken in the remark.
“I don’t plan on being here long” Scarlett replies, summoning her service weapon as a ghoul draws close, a charge fired through its expressionless skull despite its docile appearance. “I need answers, and letting the realm know I’m making myself vulnerable to it will help that” Scarlett replies, her destination approaching.
“You don’t know what the realm wants” Esotera replies, speaking from a genuine place of worry as she continues to play the role of Scarlett’s shadow, “with Suzie still around, this stunt of yours could be really dangerous.” Stopping mid-walk, Scarlett looks Esotera in the eyes from a place of aggravation, her temper becoming much easier to earn than it has normally been.
“Everything we do- whether it’s in our sleep or while we’re awake- is for this fucking monstrosity” Scarlett replies, relinquishing her weapon to the realm’s tow, “all of it’s dangerous. So, with that logic, there’s not a damn thing that I- or that Vic- can do that isn’t dangerous.” With a frown, Esotera lowers her head to one side and watches Scarlett continue, an inability to argue the point made.
“Just be careful, please” Esotera calls out, watching the woman continue to walk off with little ability to dissuade her. “I’m not making promises” Scarlett shouts back, ascending the steps to the mezzanine’s ground, unable to think of a more reasonable place to seek answers than chaos’ apparent favourite setting.
Its ascending level spiralling around the central bonsai tree, Scarlett’s eyes take to the gradually-elevating passageway at each end of the circular chasm, the white lights above its apparent end-point. “Hey, weirdo!” Scarlett calls out, beginning her climb toward the mezzanine’s highest point, each attempt left with a brief pause, an open space to interject thoughts left for Mother to occupy.
“Yo, you faceless bitch!” Scarlett barks, her voice carried throughout each level, rising higher with each increase in her octaves, “am I gonna waste my time here, or are you running late? I’m here, where are you!?”
As if on command, the bright light just over the abyss’ head becomes obstructed, a large object descending from the curious skylight above. Peering upward and squinting, Scarlett watches a large object plummet through the mezzanine’s centre, its features more apparent as it passes Scarlett’s floor.
Stripped of most personality, Scarlett watches the police cruiser tear through the air front-first, its blue and red lights barely apparent as it enters the dark, lifeless gorge. As seconds pass, the car finally reaches its final destination, its metal twisting and glass windows shattering as the sound is carried upward, heavily deepened by the distance travelled.
On impulse alone, Scarlett leaps from her platform in search of answers, embracing the great unknown with open arms as she dives toward the bottom. Her service weapon summoned, Scarlett slows her descent, the crippled remains of the vehicle’s husk reflecting the light she shines upon it, her feet finally reaching solid ground soon after.
Barely able to see the divine light above, Scarlett nuzzles herself into the void she’d knowingly entered into, her service weapon barely providing the emptiness with light. Peering into what used to comprise the front seat, Scarlett notices the lack of a fourth, driver’s side door, its remnants the only part of the cruiser detached as all others sit with the rest in a heap.
“All hail the king!” Scarlett’s ears take to, the collective chants emanating from beyond the entrance to a spacious tunnel, its walkway the only passage available for the realm’s keeper. “All hail the king!” the legion continues, repeating the chant as Scarlett draws nearer, acting on the impulse that had driven her to the abyss’ heart as she steps through the corridor, the sound growing louder as seconds pass.
Her light barely affecting the walls, Scarlett continues to hear each howl emerge from the hallway’s endpoint, its sound drawing her closer, the voices striking a fire within her soul. Given light for the first time, Scarlett rounds the first corner she comes across, the scene she comes across unimaginably eerie.
Its monolithic size less awe-inspiring than the mysterious light green glow that lights it, an open monument sits filled with feral ghouls in the thousands, each pair of red eyes taking to her upon arrival. “All hail the king!” they scream, extending their deteriorating arms toward the heavens with gratitude, welcoming their ruler with a sickly admiration and regard.
“All hail the king!” the chorus sing once more, the discontinuation of their cheer apparently yet to fall in sight, prompting Scarlett to awkwardly step away from the crowd, slowly stepping back in favour of returning to the tunnel. On the verge of throwing up, Scarlett turns her back to the ghouls, beginning to step through the walkway before the inside of her right arm falls into strangely familiar possession.
Turning her head, Scarlett locks eyes with a spirit stranger than the rest, its face and body half-devoured, the flesh that remains wrenched with desperation. Unable to speak, the figure continues to look Scarlett in the eyes, the woman failing to recognise him for a few moments. “What the fuck are you?” Scarlett inquires, curiously drawn closer to the figure before finally veering her sights toward the untouched portion of his face, a sudden realisation coming over her.
With mercy, Scarlett summons her service weapon with her free hand, its barrel pressing against the ghoul’s head before the trigger is pulled. Killed, the ghoul relieves Scarlett’s arm from its grasp as its remains fall into her arms. Relinquishing the weapon, Scarlett snaps her fingers together and departs the realm beyond, continuously cheered by the army she leaves behind, the lone regressive soul returning to the realm of reality alongside her.
\ Realm of Reality /
“What’s so funny!?” Jared laughs, his plate cleaned of the dinner Rachel had spent the evening preparing, the fork he’d used to do it left beside the ceramic platter. “We live in a place where it never snows, and we have all the land we could possibly need!” Jared exclaims, Rachel’s humoured expression kept as a glass of water lifts to her lips, “tell me, what reason do we have to not put in an underground pool?”
“My body isn’t built for a bikini, should we start with that?” Rachel replies, their collective laughter contained within the bright orange walls of their kitchen. “The only people living here are the two of us, why wear a bikini when you can just swim naked?” Jared jokes, sharing Rachel’s amusement before doubling down, “I know it sounds funny, but it’d be a waste of money to buy bikinis and trunks when there’s literally zero reason to.”
“Cost-efficient doesn’t make it a good reason” Rachel replies, sliding her fork past her lips as she chews the final bite of her meal, allowing Jared a fair chance at defending his deep-end desires. “Alright, when it’s hot, we can use the pool instead of the A/C!” Jared replies, watching Rachel’s eyes roll as her back leans into the seat.
“If we have the money to install an in-ground pool, how is electricity a problem?” Rachel counters, watching Jared’s head shake as he struggles to answer. “It’ll pay for itself in a few years, it’d be the perfect long-term solution for high electrical bills!” the man exclaims, stopping himself from finishing the statement without laughing, his tone carrying the weight of one hundred percent seriousness.
“So would never turning on a light, but I don’t see you outlawing lamps!” Rachel replies, returning to the initial reasoning, “what if I’m reading a book and it’s hot? Do you want me to just throw the book in the pool and call it a-?”
Nearly finishing her thought, Rachel’s sentence is cut off just as the electricity is, the home suddenly darkened as their dinner wraps up. “Please tell me you’re not trying to prove a point with this” Rachel quips, following Jared’s lead as his chair drags across the floor, allowing him to leave the kitchen. “No, I’m pretty sure it’s just a power outage” the man replies, Rachel still able to see his figure as she carefully steps around him, venturing to their home’s rear patio.
“Unless we’re on a different power grid from that house, I think this is just us” Rachel replies, the lights of a home nearly half a kilometre away undisturbed, “did we blow a fuse?” With a sigh, Jared sets his attention toward the sink, his toolbox stored within the cupboard just beneath its basin. “I think the house overheard our in-ground pool talk” Jared humours, his tools rustling within the metal container as he lays it atop the countertop, “it must have had some opinions of it’s-”
This interruption more violent than the first, Jared’s thought subsides as the frame of their door shatters beneath the weight of a heavy boot, granting the vicious intruder entry to their home. “Jared!” Rachel shouts, watching the outline of his figure scurry through the dark, his toolbox carried in hand. “Through the back!” Jared exclaims, opening the patio door before moving aside to grant Rachel an escape.
“Find somewhere they-!” Jared begins to order, stepping through the rear-exit before their home’s decimation catches him within its crossfires. Hit with the equivalent of an explosive, the home’s rear wall collapses, the shockwave of the blast stifling the young man by hurling him through the air with no warning to offer. Watching the man land a great distance across the yard from her, Rachel breaks away from her braced position, eluding most of the blast relatively unharmed.
“Jared, get up! Jared! Get up!” Rachel pleads, shoving and slapping Jared’s unconscious body with depleting hopes that a response will arrive. “Get up! Get up!” Rachel shouts, screaming in the man’s face until her mouth is forcefully closed, her face smothered with a black towel and a strong grasp. Feeling her body numb in real time, the instincts Rachel subdued in an effort to spare Jared’s life kick in, her hand reaching for the slim tool she’d felt her knee press into seconds prior.
As her struggle fades, Rachel slips the blue-handled weapon into the waistband of her jeans, the starry night sky going dark as her consciousness fades out. Falling limp, Rachel’s body hits the ground, her skin grazed by soft grass and hard dirt. With a sigh of relief, the large man that had pressed his weight into her returns to his feet, the rag he’d suffocated Rachel with falling to the ground, discarded of as its job has finished.
== Dream Sequence ==