/ One Month after the Fight /
“Whatcha staring at?” Angela asks, joining John in the lighthouse as he rests his elbows on the windowsill. “The second part of the before and after” John replies, dissatisfied at the sight of the former Fishers Island, now relegated to nothing more than a burial ground covered in blackened trees and soot-covered land. “You did what you had to do” Angela replies, John immediately placing his flag in the corner of refusal.
“What I had to do was kill that solar equipment” John replies, “but leave it to Dawson to go ahead and convince me otherwise.” Handing the man a mug, Angela takes in a sigh of relief, looking out at the calm waters and soothing waves, John taking notice of her interest. “They wont come back any stronger than they once were” Angela replies, John left shaking his head as she continues, “we took care of them once, we’ll do it again. They weren’t anything important.”
“They damn near got us all killed” John replies, Angela staring back at the man, her eyes squinting as John notices her keeping something from him. “Technically if any of us had died, it would have been you that did it” Angela responds when called upon, “but we’re all still here, and we’ve made ourselves a home.”
Holding his disappointment at bay, John takes a drink while Angela smiles at the sights before her. “What’s got you liking the view so much?” John asks, the eagerness of the woman to enjoy the sights afforded to her appearing differently than it had most. “Tyler once told me that it was a rare sight to see such a nice view once everything went down” Angela replies, “I couldn’t see it then, but I do now.”
Hanging his head, John tells the woman that they’ll grow to miss other things the longer time passes. “It’s been strange not hearing car motors or planes flying overhead anymore” John continues, looking out towards Sun City, the burned forest before them paling in comparison, “we’ll probably never get those again.”
“Let’s not forget about our little paramotor friend” Salem interjects as she ascends to the top of the tower, “wherever they keep going, we’re a pretty favorable flight path.” Welcoming the woman to the conversation, John inquires about any further information regarding them. “I’ve got nothing to add” Salem replies, “but wherever they keep going, it doesn’t look like they’re running into much trouble.”
Her tongue pressing against the corner of her lip, Salem stares out at the island in front of them, a stare John takes easy notice of. “What’s on your mind, Salem?” John asks, the woman shaking her head in disapproval as she removes a notebook from her backpack, tossing it into John’s lap. “We may not have to worry about the undead out here, but we might have something else to fear” Salem explains, “I’d ask Dawson about the frequency of coastal storms the next you see him.”
Opening the pages of the book, John reads the weather reports of the land’s previous owner, detailing everything people and mother nature herself has thrown at it. “It’s getting colder out here fast, and we’re too late on the season for planting crops” Salem explains, “not only are we gonna have to swallow our pride and start looking to Sun City for supplies, but we’re gonna have to prepare for anything else than can pop up.”
“How much can we provide here before the first snow hits?” John proceeds, frustrated when Salem suggests a number as good as nothing at all. “Couple that with the sound freezing out too far to get boats on the water, the aquifer freezing over, no turbine and we’ve got ourselves a shit show” Salem exclaims, the barrage of issues enough to bring John’s hand to his head and the book to the windowsill.
Holding the notebook out, John directs Salem to take in everyone’s food and water usage over the course of the last month and return it to him when done. As instructed, Salem leaves the tower to Angela and John, the man looking out at the sea with his head hung. “This on top of worrying over these fuckers showing up again and this place suddenly turns my hairs gray” John exclaims, the woman left with little response other than the reminder of what it took to get there.
“That’s exactly why I’m not afraid to go gray, just afraid of losing people before I do” John replies, removing his coat from the chair he once sat upon and tossing it over his shoulders. “Let Emilio know that I’m heading out to see Dawson and Ameil” John exclaims, Angela explaining that he’s likely to know once he notices the boat missing.
Stepping over the harsh gravel path to the coastline, John stops in his tracks while the motor above begins whirring again. Spreading his arms out, John shakes his head as if to mock the figure above, continuing forward before noticing something drop from the sky. Noticing a landing point, John backs away from the general area while it plummets through the air, crashing into the pebble-covered coastline with a thud.
Glancing back up, John watches the figure soar overhead, continuing north before approaching the stone. Tied to the brick by an elastic band, a note is left for John’s eyes, the figure leaving the area as per usual while he reads. “You found the island vacant for a reason, more maintenance than it’s worth, leave while you still can, it’s not too late” the writing reads, the figure continuing on as if nothing ever happened while John stares back between them and Sun City.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
Stood with his hands on his hips, Emilio stares eagerly at the stems poking out from the ground, his patch of farmland left nearly as fruitless as it was the month prior. Suddenly, the anger inside of the man builds to a point where it can no longer be contained, his hand balling up into a fist and laying into the metal sheetwork of the shed behind him. Shouting expletives in anger, Emilio kicks rocks away from the edge of the empty patch as the shed door opens.
“Did my house do something to you?” Nessie asks, poking her head out of the opening as Emilio waves her off. “Nothing against you, my apologies” Emilio replies, his hat removed from his head and tossed across the land. “It seems like you’ve got some things to work through” Nessie exclaims, Emilio coming to a stop with a smile, hands placed on his hips again as he turns around to amuse her.
“We’ve known each other for what? A month?” Emilio replies, “how much about me do you really think you know?” Turning away from the man, Nessie looks at the side of her home, pushed in by the force of the man challenging her thought. “You dented my house, I think that counts for something” Nessie replies, Emilio chuckling to himself as he shakes his head.
“I’m fine Vanessa, you worry about yourself” Emilio responds, the woman calling out a correction, prompting him to turn around again. “It’s Nessie, like the monster from the lake?” the woman shouts back, Emilio correcting himself and moving on with his day. “What’s going on with you?” Katie asks, walking by Emilio as he drifts away from his farm.
“I fucking hate those carrots” Emilio responds, spitting on the ground as he walks by, leaving Katie looking at him with a puzzled stare.
Hand pressing out against the double doors, John enters the Sun City tavern with his eyes drifting from one side of the room to the other. Catching a glimpse of the long blonde locks, John’s attention is captured, his wife left on her own at the bar. “Any idea where I can get my hands on Dawson for a quick second?” John asks, Jess holding as much uncertainty as John does, halfway through her first bottle of beer in the day.
“Dude’s been busy, what more can you expect?” Jess proceeds to state, “I think I’ve said more words to this beer in the last hour than I have to Dawson or Ameil in the last month.” Overhearing the name as he walked by, Clint is left handing John a bottle and voicing his own opinion. “I don’t think Dawson’s gonna be taking any inquiries in until after he loses the election” the man replies, “dude’s under enough pressure to resign as it is.”
“Is it that bad?” John proceeds, Jess chuckling to herself mid sip as Clint looks at the man as if he were the dumbest man alive. “Go to war for land you let burn down and resources it doesn’t have, all before you announce that we’re running low on gas, and you’ll get yourself killed before long!” Clint replies, pointing around the tavern to the sea of disappointed faces.
“It wasn’t on him the propane blew” John mutters, Clint reminding the man that it doesn’t matter as long as it did. “He sent you out there without backup from what I’ve heard” Clint continues to explain, “one way or another, he made that happen.” Hanging his head, John pops the cap off the bottle with ease, downing a quarter of the liquor as Jess watches on in surprise.
“You can really tell which of us was in the military and which of us worked behind a desk when you’ve got one of those” Jess jokes, John suggesting any man to wear the weight of costing a man his livelihood would be in need of a drink. “You can’t hold his decision against yourself, John” Jess replies, “just like Clint said, he dug his grave in a way and now it’s time to lay in it.”
With a sigh, John accepts his wife’s statements with the truth they bring, ultimately still unable to think of anything other than the ways in which he could have done things differently. Hand on the man’s shoulder, Jess looks John in the eyes, telling him to stop holding everyone else’s wrong doings against himself. “He sent you in there to die, he got what was coming to him” Jess explains, “one way or another, he chose what he chose, and now he’s gotta deal with that.”
“Where’s mom and dad?” Amy asks, Heather tossing her makeshift toys into a bin before wheeling them away beneath a desk. “Mom and Dad are back in the city to talk to Dawson” Heather replies, chuckling when Amy points out her mother being gone since the day prior. “Yes, it seems like Dawson’s been a busy guy” Heather responds, explaining to the girl that things aren’t going to be easy real soon.
Her lips puckered together thinking over the meaning of that last statement, Amy takes a seat beside Heather, helping put her toys away to the woman’s surprise. “Learning accountability, are you?” Heather asks, Amy brushing off the question entirely, partly not having an answer, partly not understanding the definition of the word ‘accountability.’
“Does this mean I have to start killing zombies?” Amy asks, Heather’s head tilted down towards the bin while her eyes slowly drift upwards. “Why would you need to start doing that?” Heather asks, folding the box’s lid and returning it to its rightful spot. “If things are gonna get harder, that means we’re gonna be forced to move again” Amy explains, her experience of the apocalypse not having been fruitful in the department of life lessons.
“I just wanna stop those things before they stop me” Amy replies, Heather looking towards the girl with concern in her eyes, telling Amy that she shouldn’t have to worry about that. “But I want to” Amy responds, worrying Heather more as she explains that she doesn’t want to be caught without a way to fight back. “Will you teach me?” Amy asks, Heather glancing back to the girl, explaining that they’ll talk about such a thing at a later point.
Done with her chores, Amy wanders into the rest of the house while Heather stays behind, taking a seat against the wall and staring at the door. “You good?” Jack asks as he walks up the stairs, the door left wide open for him to find Heather anxiously seated on the ground. “Yeah, I’m good” Heather replies, watching Jack slowly walk up the final few steps before nodding off and returning to another section of the home.
“Carrot boy!” Nessie calls out, catching Emilio with his feet hanging off the dock and an apple in his mouth. “Please never call me that again” the man responds, preparing to stand up and move onto something else before Nessie refuses his advancement, telling him to remain seated. As told, Emilio returns to his lunch as it was, Nesside taking a seat beside him with her hands in her pockets, making a passing comment at the sun glistening over the water.
“Yeah, it’s real nice” Emilio replies, his tone presenting itself as confused to be in this position to begin with. “Something’s wrong with you, and it’s not hard to see” Nessie explains, “I may have only known you for the last month, but you’re not the man I keep hearing people say you are.” With a smile, Emilio thanks the woman for concerning him with the popular opinion, expressing his appreciation with, “the next time I need inspiration, I’ll ask Siri.”
With a nod, the woman points out that to be the person she’s heard him discussed as. “Hardened over by losing someone important to him, but always keeps spirits high enough for everything to feel okay” Nessie recites, “Katie’s words, not mine… But clearly genuine.” Parting his lips to retort, Emilio gives up midway through, taking in a deep breath and nodding, Nessie noticing the appreciation he has for such kind words.
“She’s not the only one, John’s words were the best by a mile, but hers stick out too” Nessie continues, shooting down Emilio’s request to hear John’s statement by repeating her original statement. “Something’s wrong with you, and it’s extremely easy to notice” Nessie responds, Emilio glancing back out at the sea while she asks what happened.
“My carrots won’t grow, that’s all” Emilio replies, taking the final bite from his apple before discarding of the core into the water and attempting to walk off. Taking the man by the arm, Nessie stands up to meet him at eye level once more, standing between him and the coast and threatening to shove him off the peer if she doesn’t get a genuine answer.
With a grunt, Emilio tucks his hands into his pockets while Nessie presses a hand against his chest, suggesting Emilio to be working against time. “I thought I was gonna die back there… back on the island” Emilio responds, Nessie looking at him through squinted eyes, intrigued. “Was that what you wanted?” Nessie asks, Emilio taking in a sigh before admitting that he truly has no genuine idea.
“It wasn’t looking good… I had to make peace with that while I was in there, and eventually I started to expect it” Emilio explains, “I don’t think it’s really easy to come back from something like that.” Her head tilted, Nessie drops her hand from his chest, asking him what kind of peace he made when he was confronted with such a predicament. With a laugh, Emilio explains that whatever came next would bring his husband back in some capacity.
“Whether it’s heaven, or a do-over, or whatever it’s gonna be” Emilio explains, “there’s a part of me thinking that he’s up there waiting for me when my time comes.” Turning away from the man, Nessie looks out at the waters of the sound gradually crash into the rocks, smiling at the sight before pointing out a pattern in Emilio’s responses to everything.
“Carrots not growing right, being at odds with Dawson and Sun City… It doesn’t seem like you” Nessie explains, Emilio not taking his eyes away from her, “this isn’t something you want, is it?” His eyes finally leaving the woman, they casually drift to the ground while he, at first, silently shakes his head. “Rebuilding life as it used to be… It’s a noble goal, hell it’s real optimistic” Emilio explains, Nessie cutting him off finishing his sentence, “but it doesn’t feel possible, does it?”
With a smile, Emilio shakes his head again. “Not anymore” the man responds, both staring out at the charred remains of the island they both once considered their final resting places once upon a time in silence.
“You need a steady hand and some patience” Franklin explains, staring down the eye of a hunting rifle while Alicia stands behind him, leaning against the tree with a granola bar in her mouth. “Both of which you have none of” the woman replies, watching the man force a bullet through the barrel and into a tree a good few yards away from a deer, who hoofs it upon the air ripping by its ears to Franklin’s disappointment.
Amused, Alicia gives the man an applause, Franklin allowing the woman to take over by handing her the weapon and taking the granola bar. “I give in, I’m not Katie or Salem, I’ll see myself out” Franklin explains, burying the sharpened attachment of his aesthetic into the head of the undead and continuing on. “We’re gonna get an earful when we go back” Franklin exclaims, Alicia suggesting otherwise if luck turns in their favor.
“They wont care where we go, mainland or otherwise, as long as we bring something back to show for it” Alicia explains, following the tattered branches to where the deer would go next. “We’re wasting more gas than we bring back in food” Franklin replies, his girlfriend suggesting a solution to that problem in not letting him shoot at the game any more.
“You know what I’m trying to say” Franklin responds, Alicia explaining that not only does that statement remain true, but it does so the other way around, as well. “You know what we’re doing out here other than shoot deer” Alicia explains, “even if it means finding something short term, we’re looking for an alternative.”
Continuing to walk under the burning daylight, the pair stop for a brief moment as they overhear the roaring engines of the paramtorist above, their parachute blocking out the sun for a short while as they soar above. “Someone flying as frequently as they do must not care about the gas expirations” Alicia mutters to herself, Franklin suggesting that they’re just content on enjoying the view while they have it.
“No one lives this long in the world to waste the little resources they have on sight-seeing” Alicia explains, “either she doesn’t know gas expires, or she has no reason to worry about it.” Continuing to trek through the dense woodland, the pair stumble upon a small group of the undead stumbling through the bramble, the sound of the engines of the low-flying pilot driving the undead east.
Happy with keeping herself out of trouble, Alicia redirects their efforts, taking the pair back to the boat they arrived in. “If they’re just sight-seeing, oh well” Alicia exclaims, “but if they’ve got no reason to fear running low, they may be someone worth going after.” Convinced, Franklin joins the woman in returning south, their eyes captured by the soaring spectacle above every few feet, motivated by the possible solution to their problems.
“John Callis?” a voice calls out, catching the attention of the man at the bar, his hand held up motioning for the voice to make himself welcomed. Obliging, the man takes a seat beside John at the bar, completely silent at first, eyes darting from one side of the room to the other. “Are you about to kill me?” John asks, mocking the silent treatment until the man insists otherwise, holding his hand out to introduce himself.
“I’m Seth Havermeyer, I write for Sun City’s journal” the man explains, John shrugging in complete unawareness of what any of the man’s introduction means. “We report on the things going on in Sun City, kind of like a newspaper… Well, exactly like a newspaper” Seth explains, “we’ve been wanting to talk with you for a few weeks now.”
“Why?” John asks, his statement short and simple, leaving Seth to do the majority of the talking. “Well, there’s not many reasons not to” Seth explains, “you were sent out to Fishers Island to die by Dawson and not only lived, but won.” Glancing back at Clint, John watches the man shrug his shoulders and walk off, John proceeding to respond with a simple statement that he’s not interested in answering questions.
“Aren’t you here to speak with Dawson?” Seth proceeds, John glancing at the man and asking how he heard about that. “Sir, you’re not exactly someone unheard of” Seth explains, “there’s a ton of people here that remember you from Sheol… You’re kind of the closest thing we have to celebrity right now.”
Lowering his head, John presses it against the counter a few times before reiterating what he had said prior. “I’m not interested in answering questions, and I’m not interested in talking with you or your low-rent newspaper” John repeats, “so if you know me as well as you seem to think, you’ll know I’d like to sit with my wife and have a beer while I wait for Dawson.”
Feeling slighted, Seth nods to himself, ordering a beer and making himself comfortable. “Did you not hear anything I just said?” John proceeds to ask, Seth looking back to the man, explaining that there’s no law against having a seat beside someone at the bar. “Either you walk away right now or I’m gonna break your two front teeth right here” John explains, Seth leaning back in his seat, hand outstretched to John as the man is held back by Jessica.
“There is a law about provoking a fight, though!” Seth quickly points out, “and I don’t think sharing space with people jailed by Dawson would like you getting all cozy next to him.” With a laugh, John asks Seth to recite the law verbatim. “One cannot lay hands on one other unprovoked” Seth responds, John smirking upon the man concluding, taking the option that finds him spitting in the man’s face, much to Clint’s amusement.
Annoyed, Seth stands up from his seat, staring John down as the bearded warrior he’s been made out to be repeats Seth’s previous line. “One cannot lay hands on one other unprovoked!” John exclaims, “but there’s plenty more where that came from if you don’t fuck off.” Wiping the line of saliva from his face, Seth picks up his notebook from the counter and knocks the beer over, punishing Clint for having laughed at him.
“You better hope someone that doesn’t like you stays out of office” Seth warns, glancing back at Jess before adding, “I hear there’s a daughter of yours you need this place to stay upright for.” Eyes narrowing, John begins slowly inching forward until the tavern doors shoot open, Ameil calling for John and his wife to leave with him. “Buddy buddy time, is it?” Seth asks, John taking Jess by the hand and leading her out of the bar, Seth staring the pair down the whole way.
Deboarding the boat, John and Jess touch down upon what remains of Fishers Island, Ameil leading them into the blackened ruins of a once hidden city. “How far does this stuff stretch?” John inquires, Ameil emotionlessly confirming the entire island to be lost. “Miles and miles of island just… Just gone like that” the man explains, John hanging his head in response whilst Jess takes his hand in her own.
The more land they cover, the further the devastation appears the same, each sign of life burned in such a way that makes it nearly identical to all the rest. Suddenly, the bleak, endless range of burnt forest finds itself a new location, one unique in its own way from the vast landscape of death. Sat at a table in the middle of a cleared out hole in the woods, Dawson awaits the pair, a bottle of whiskey stationed atop the desk as a welcome gift.
Refusing to stand for the pair, Dawson remains seated, hand pointed towards the two empty seats awaiting the couple’s occupancy. “I don’t want to waste too much time talking about things we already know so I’ll get straight to the point” Dawson explains, “I’m gonna get voted out in this emergency election soon and I want one of your people to replace me.”
Eyebrows lowered, John tells Dawson that the chances of that happening are below zero. “We were coming here looking for some supplies to stick out the winter!” John exclaims, “we’re in no position to take over Sun City.” Folding them together, Dawson slams his hands against the table, assuring John that he, nor his people, will hold control over Sun City.
“You, or whoever you choose, is gonna be a puppet” Dawson explains, “I’ll lead Sun City through one of you in response for what you’ve left me with.” Humored, John looks Dawson in the eye, telling the man to repeat his final sentence. “You heard what I said, John!” Dawson exclaims, “you’ve burnt this entire place to a crisp, took your island, and left me with the mess to clean up!”
Leant back in his chair, John stares at Dawson with wide eyes, reminding the man of how they got to the island in the first place. Before John can freshen the man’s memory, Dawson does so for himself from his own perspective. “A group of grade-A assholes demanded they storm into a suicide mission, and I not only let them, but I gave them a boat too!” Dawson replies, “that’s what happened, and you went back on that deal!”
Leaning back towards the table to retort, John thinks twice, restating that final statement in his head as Jess looks away. “What deal? What the hell are you talking about?” John replies, Dawson glancing back at Jess to notice her reaction, realizing the lack of information shared between the two. “This is a funny turn of events, isn’t it?” Dawson exclaims, John turning towards Jess, who stares at her lap with her head hung.
“What did you agree to, Jessica?” John proceeds to ask, Dawson answering his question on his wife’s behalf. “She assured me everything that came with this island in return for giving your little village autocracy” Dawson explains, “essentially, your future in return for our ability to thrive.” Turning towards the woman, John asks his wife why she never said anything before, Jess left with little to answer with.
“I didn’t expect us to live” Jess replies, “not only did I not think it would have mattered, but I didn’t think you’d cause a forest fire to create a distraction.” With his head in his hands, John rests his elbows on the table while Dawson continues, explaining that he could do a lot worse. “I have half the mind to slaughter all of your friends on that island right now for what you took from me” Dawson explains, “but you should consider yourself lucky I’ve settled for this.”
With a deep breath, Dawson pops the top off the bottle and downs the few first sips, explaining that he finds pity for John. “One way or another, she had no right not to tell you at all” Dawson explains, “and since I can see you genuinely didn’t know, I’m not gonna take my anger out on you.” Looking up, John places his eyes upon Dawson, watching the man continue on about all that he’s lost.
“I’ve been relegated to calling this husk of an island my home because I can’t sleep in my bed anymore without worrying I’ll be assassinated because of her” Dawson explains, “I’d like that suffering to be made worth it.” Her hands placed against the table, Jess starts to refuse Dawson’s request, ultimately falling short of beating out her husband, who accepts the request on her behalf out of spite.
“What are you doing?” Jess asks, her face turning towards the man, who slumps back in his seat, staring at the broken table the three stare at. “You caused this mess and you had no intention of telling me” John replies, “if anyone here is gonna clean it up, it’s gonna be you and you alone.”
“John, I went into that fight by your side” Jess replies, John immediately cutting back, completely shocked at the revelation presented. “It is one thing to wanna take our daughter and run off into the night without telling me, Jess” John explains, understanding her motivations then, “but it is a whole different thing to make a bet with our daughter’s life, let alone without telling me.”
On the verge of tears, Jess hides her sadness behind a stoic mask, trying to plead with her husband to take her view point into consideration. In complete denial, John waves his hand towards Jess, admitting disgust when he looks at her. “I can understand you wanting to leave before I get myself killed… I really can” John confesses, “but I never… never… thought you’d be capable of doing something like this.”
Refusing to shed another tear, John stands from the seat and walks away from the table, leaving Jess behind and returning the way in which he came. Ignoring the woman’s pleas for her to stop, John returns to the roots of his coping mechanism from war, drowning out all the noise until his head fills with faint echos. Continuing silently forward, John eventually outpaces Jess, who stands where she gave up, letting John walk off as he boards the vessel.
“Go” the man says, still hearing every noise around him as a muffled garble, the engine roaring on as the boat takes him back home dulled out, his wife left on the coast watching him ride off.
== Rise ==