Feet pressing against the clumped dirt, John marches onto the mainland with a golf club in hand, his eyes targeting the undead one at a time as they stagger into view. Swinging the club like a baseball bat, John levels the undead, heads splitting into halves and skulls cracking beneath the weight of the cold, iron head.
Splatters of blood running down his formerly white shirt, John makes his way through the rundown town, venturing inland from the coast and continuing north. Reaching a long-abandoned suburb, John begins stepping onto the front steps of each house, continuing down the street in a pattern, house on the left, house on the right, move onto the next set.
Tapping on the door, John waits for a few seconds before killing what approaches, and walking away from what doesn’t. Walking down one street, clearing out the undead occupying it and moving onto the next, John becomes a one-man, undead-clearing wrecking crew, his efforts made visible by the accumulation of bodies laid out in the streets beneath the early morning daylight.
Tapping the head of the club against the door frame once more, John waits for a few moments at the top of the stairs before the silence waves him off, eyes latching onto the home across the street. Suddenly, the sound of something toppling over through the screen door now behind him takes his attention back, his eyes peering into the home through the limited view with intent.
“You’d be an idiot to think I didn’t hear that” John calls out, finger and thumb pressing against the handle in a failed attempt to open the locked door. From within, a lone gunshot fires off from the upstairs, prompting John to pull back, hand upon the firearm on his hip, other grasping the club. “I’m not wanting any trouble from you, go on your way!” the woman shouts from within, John calling back that he’s looking for as much issue as the woman herself is.
“I’m taking my frustration out on the undead around here, nothing more” John calls back, ‘that said, if you’re gonna shoot at me again, that’s all gonna change.” A moment of silence following, John awaits a response from within, the sound of light footsteps gradually making their way closer to him. “If you’re being honest, move onto the next house” the woman cries out, the voice coming from just behind cover at the top of the stairwell this time.
“I will do so as long as you give me your word that you will not shoot” John replies, the woman hesitant to respond immediately. Noticing the indecision, John gives in, nodding to himself as he removes his backpack. “I’m not gonna force your hand, so I’ll leave you with this” the man calls out, removing two bottles of water and a pack of packaged food.
“I’m gonna go on my way now” John exclaims, hand with the golf club held in the air whilst his opposite hand rests on his gun, slowly backing down the stairs and moving onto the next home. Now out of view from the woman’s perspective, John turns around and begins walking away, hearing the door he just left creek open quickly before slamming shut.
With a nod, John adjusts the strap on his pack, moving on and looking back over his shoulder, the small amount of resources he left on the doorstep long gone.
= 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 =
“Why do they keep flying over us?” Amy inquires, glancing out of the view from the tower at the paramotorist above, Heather lacking answers just as the rest of the group. “I think they have a reason to, whatever that reason is” Heather replies, her train of thought broken by a pair of footsteps ascending the spiral staircase. “I hope I’m not interrupting” Ameil explains, Heather insisting he join them, honest to appreciate someone of her own age demographic for a change.
“How’s everything at the city?” Heather asks, her question going unanswered at first as Amy quickly wonders allowed when they’ll be able to go back. “You like it at Sun City, Amy?” Ameil proceeds, Amy pointing out the candy stand as having sold her on the city as a whole. “I think the candy stand usually does it for everyone” Ameil replies, a smile on his face as he looks back up at Heather.
“It’s… It’s not that great” Ameil replies, the woman watching the disappointment fill his face as the community he worked to build successfully tears itself apart from the inside right before his eyes. “I understand not wanting to see Dawson after he talked up a win he couldn’t deliver” Ameil explains, “but going as far as to send him death threats and picking fights with each other in the streets was something I didn’t see coming.”
Hand wrapped around her neck, Heather apologizes for how things have turned, Ameil left reminding the woman that she had no hand in what went down. “You were in Sun City the entire time, you didn’t wage war and you didn’t start a wildfire” Ameil explains, “out of everything that has happened, you are to blame for none of it.” Nodding, Heather explains that she understands that, but doesn’t particularly agree.
“This is my group, and while I may not be responsible… We are” Heather explains, Ameil holding his hand over her arm, telling the woman to look him in the eyes as he makes her a promise. “Sun City isn’t gone, it’s just hitting a rough patch” Ameil explains, “when the dust begins to settle, everything will go back to normal and we’ll rebuild what we had.”
With a sigh, the woman gives into Ameil’s optimism, accepting the guarantees the man makes whilst storing all of her trust in him. “They’re just lost and afraid right now” Ameil explains, “if we can prove to them that we can rebuild like never before… It’ll all fix itself out over time.” With a nod, Heather places her own hand over Ameil’s, Amy including hers atop the pile for good measure.
Throwing his bedroom door open, Jess tosses Emilio his clothes, telling the man to get dressed before doing the same to Franklin, awaking Alicia in the process. As a few minutes pass, Jess walks onto the dock, looking out at the water in the time it takes Emilio and Franklin to catch up to her. “What’s going on?” Franklin asks, Emilio without care to open the conversation, already having noticed the anger within Jess’ greeting to be the driving factor of what is to come.
“Dawson wants me to take over as the leader of Sun City now that he’s bound to be ousted” Jess explains, the woman watching Franklin and Emilio respond in their own displays of aggravation. “Not only am I faced with that, but my husband cant stand to look at me so much, that he’s now gone off on the mainland to kill all the undead in sight!” Jess exclaims, “so since this is all because of the deal we made, I feel like you should be roped in with me here.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Franklin explains to Jess that they owe Dawson, nor Sun City anything. “We may have made a deal, but Dawson was the one that sent us out there to begin with” Franklin explains, “if anything, he had as much to do with starting this war as we did.” Unzipping his jacket, Emilio explains to Franklin that none of that is the point, suggesting the opinion that Dawson may simply be acting out on fear.
“He’s been ousted from the community he built and the entire city is starting to fight each other” Emilio explains, “this is just like what was happening in the States before it all fell… It spells doom he wants to avoid.” Hands held out, Jess reminds Emilio that everyone in this collective trio understands that, but making it known that none of it matters.
“The only way we survive here is with Sun City’s help” Jess explains, “we don’t have food to last the winter, gas to power the boats, or parts to fix the aquifer if it were to break down” Jess exclaims, “from where I stand, we fuck them over and we fuck ourselves over.” With a sigh, Franklin turns his attitude towards Jess into one of impatience. “If he told you to be the leader, be the leader!” Franklin explains, “what’s the point of debating this if there’s no choice to make?”
With a grimace, Jess reminds the pair that they were as guilty in orchestrating this deal as she was, ensuring that they need to make up for the lack of presence they left by standing in the shadows. Looking at the woman in concern, Emilio asks the woman to be more specific in her demands if she wants to get anywhere with the pair.
Tucking her hands into her pockets, Jess stares down both men, reminding them of what they were in the midst of before the world broke down. Rolling his eyes, Emilio takes a seat upon a cut wooden post whilst Franklin turns around to walk away. “We’re not running for their leadership, Jess” Emilio replies, the woman approaching him with the reminder that they don’t have a choice.
“Even if I did run, someone would need to be there to be my number two” Jess explains, “so why not the pair that were running for govern literally until the moment everything fell apart?” Returning to the woman, Franklin tells the woman that there are a plentiful amount of reasons. “For a start, the democrats put us together, he would have run with Bill if he could” Franklin replies, “and to follow, because we were losing, because we played the race card, and because we were democrats!”
Arms extended, Jess asks who would care about where they were back then anymore. “It’s been four years, how many of those people truly give a shit, or even remember any of that?” Jess proceeds to inquire, Emilio reminding the woman that all political ground is ground to gain. “No one can predict who will join the race, no one” Emilio explains, “someone that doesn’t like us joins in and points this out, it’ll awaken some memories long forgotten.”
Her head shaking, Jess tells the man that she doesn’t care which memories do or don’t return. “Right now, I have a marriage to fix, so all of this is gonna be up to you” Jess explains, “either stick around to make nice with Sun City, or fuck off and run away from your problems again.”
Walking off, Jess catches the attention of a disrespected Emilio, who turns around and calls her back without hesitation. “I’m done here, you figure this shit out yourselves!” Jess shouts back, the man placing his foot in the ground, refusing to leave the conversation unfinished. “Get back here you bitch!” Emilio shouts, the woman stopping in her place upon hearing the out-of-character response by the man, giving into his request.
“For a start, you were gonna leave in the middle of the night like a coward, while I did so to John’s face” Emilio explains, “and to conclude, disrespect me or my husband’s memory again, and I’ll lay you out where you stand, am I understood?” A dark side of the man intended to be kept hidden, Emilio allows his truest of authoritarian instincts to reveal themselves, laying the law down to a woman perhaps as broken in the moment as he himself is.
With a nod, Jess turns around and walks away more cautious this time, descension unfolding as Emilio watches the woman walk off, concern in the eyes of Franklin as he plays spectator to the events as they unfold.
Making it to a barn, John begins tapping his club upon the wooden doors, intending to wait for the undead possibly behind to make the journey, only for the heavy weight of undead within to begin pressing their collective weight against the doors almost immediately. “We’ve got a collection growing here, I see” John mutters beneath his breath, hand pressing against the wooden handle keeping the double doors from releasing the undead amongst the town.
With a deep breath, John throws the wooden hatch open and allows the swarm of undead to fill the lot, John taking his club to the deceased one after another. First shot never intending to kill them, the second, third and fourth shots he takes on any one undead become a method of venting, John continuing to assault the overpowering horde without issue.
“What are you doing!?” a voice calls out from the street, John shouting back that there don’t appear to be any people worth keeping the undead locked away from. “If I’m looking for pinatas, I found myself a gold mine!” the man exclaims, lifting his club into the air before a bullet rips through the head of the undead in front of him, ending the attempt.
“I left you alone, please do the same” John exclaims, lifting his club into the air before the same fate is met. “You didn’t leave me to die, so neither am I to you” the woman replies, hurrying into the lot to help John take on the undead. “I’m really starting to regret leaving you on your own, ma’am” John replies, his displeasure left poorly hidden. “I don’t care, you’re not where you should be” the woman exclaims, confusing John in the moment as she continues ripping into the swarm.
“What does that mean?” John asks, the woman continuing to put down the undead, one bullet after another spent on sparing the man his life. “You may be self-destructive, but you’re not a survivor” the woman replies, “you came from below, you were in the water before… This isn’t the water.”
Continuing on, John returns to taking swings at the undead until the fault in the woman’s rifle begins to become noticeable. “What’s wrong?” the man asks, the woman left struggling to fix her gun as the undead continue closing in. “My gun’s jammed!” the woman shouts, continuing to step away from the swarm as it grows closer before ultimately giving up on her measures.
Reaching for the hatchet on her hip, the woman struggles to retrieve the weapon from its place, the blade of the tool refusing to budge while the undead begins to lunge harder. The distance being closed in more with each step, the woman watches the undead come within inches of her before a lone bullet rips through the side of its head. His gun in hand, John keeps his aim at the second reanimated corpse and takes another shot, buying the woman much needed time.
Her thanks offered, the woman frees her weapon and continues laying into the undead, a pile beginning to accumulate in the lot as the numbers dwindle. Used to more of the same, the woman continues to hack away at the undead, her weapon hurling through the air and splitting skulls one after another before it too, gets stuck. Pulling away from the jaw of another undead, the woman rips her weapon out of the head of the corpse and takes out the impending threat as the swarm dwindles.
Their efforts finally paying off, the pair reach the end of the line, the barn completely cleared, and a field of bodies left to rot beneath the increasingly hot afternoon sun of a dying summer. “Thanks for the-” John replies, his head turning towards the woman while she hunches over in an effort to catch her breath. Before his statement can be finished, John notices the woman’s arm, the imprint of a bite presented over her bicep before she can notice.
Taking the man’s silence to be representative of something, the woman glances at her arm before her entire mood shifts. Collapsing back, the woman takes a seat in the dirt, staring up at the summer sky in defeat, head shaking as the years of fighting to survive culminate in such an untimely fate. “Fuck” the woman exclaims to herself, John’s hand wiping the sweat from his brow as he realizes what his emotions helped allow play out, his stomach turning upon the realization.
Throwing clothes into drawers and making up the bed, Jack is interrupted by a wandering Alicia, who takes a seat upon the bed he was just in the midst of making to chat. “Is there something I can help you with, Alicia?” Jack asks, his question falling on deaf ears when Alicia asks a question of her own, one of significantly more value in answering. “Do you know of any oil refineries around here?” the woman proceeds, Jack left with a puzzled look on his face.
“The places where they make gasoline?” Jack specifies, admitting a lack of such knowledge much to Alicia’s disappointment. “Why are you asking?” Jack proceeds to inquire, “If we’re being honest, you could pull off an ‘oil queen’ pretty well, but that doesn’t tell me much.”
Laying back on the bed, the woman pats the spot next to her, sending Jack the signal he needs to notice the beginning of a new conversation. “How often have you seen that paramotorist flying over us?” Alicia asks, the man explaining that it’s happened at least once every day since they began calling the island home. “Why do you ask?” Jack proceeds, watching the woman glance out through his bedroom window before explaining that something feels off.
“Sun City said all the gas just went bad last week, and that they’ve got nothing left” Alicia explains, “I don’t think whoever’s flying above us has a reason to worry about that with how often they’ve been flying.” Opening his mouth to respond, Jack thinks twice and takes a moment to consider the options, Alicia left trying to fill his mind with as many points to back her statements as she can think of.
“I’m not convinced they’d have access to a refinery all by themself, but I bet they knows of a place that does” Alicia exclaims, “and if Sun City falls like it seems it will, we’d be well off finding where they’re getting that gas from.” Hand pressed to his face, Jack looks towards Alicia for an explanation for any other possibilities. “What if there is no big settlement?” Jack asks, challenging the woman’s thought as the opposition, “what happens if you’re wrong?”
Head shaking, Alicia refuses the possibility of such a thing. “Even if they’re flying out from Matha’s Vineyard, they’re spending too much gas to make it down the eastern coast without at least one pit stop” the woman explains, “they’re stopping probably multiple times to refill and doing the same journey all over again.”
With a sigh, Jack considers opposing arguments until his face is pulled towards Alicia’s, the woman guaranteeing him that whomever is flying above has access to useable fuel. “If we can find where they’re getting that fuel from, we can establish a partner to trade with” Alicia explains, Jack struggling to find an argument against an idea with as much to offer the camp as they would wish for, giving into the temptation of such an intriguing suggestion.
“How are we gonna sell this then?” Jack asks, “if we’re gonna go after wherever they’re going, we have to run this by John first.” With a nod, the woman encourages the man to think simple, nothing else other than the promise of what lies at stake being needed to seel the man on the journey.
“There’s a part of me that believes John is already tempted by it, he has to be at this point” Alicia explains, “all he needs to know right now is that someone else is too.” Placing his lips together, Jack nods to himself as Lauren and Franklin walk into the room, inquiring about the secretive conversation that seems to be taking place. “Come in and close the door” Alicia replies, making room on the mattress for two more.
Walking through the crowded streets of Sun City, the calls for and against Dawson’s leadership reign out, guards covering the length of streets to keep the arguing from turning sour. “This isn’t good” Heather mutters, holding Amy in her arms as Ameil guides them through a chorus of shared screaming and cheering. “Tell Dawson that we’re coming for him!” one protestor shouts, their ager directed at Ameil with no one else to take the brunt of it.
“Just ignore them, they’re no threat to you” Ameil explains, “they don’t like me, but they want me to be the message carrier to Dawson… I didn’t sign up to do that.” With a deep breath, Heather continues following in the man’s footsteps, one half of the crowd growing angrier the longer they’re ignored, the other half shouting insults towards the others in belief that Ameil doesn’t deserve the criticism his brother should be getting.
“Is this your girlfriend, Ameil?” a man shouts from the crowd, Ameil brushing off the comment despite Heather’s eyes turning towards the source, a gesture the man notices. “Tell your boyfriend he’s in trouble!” the man shouts from the crowd, Heather diverting her gaze from the man and joining Ameil’s response, something that triggers the concealed anger in the man’s response.
“You should take John’s kid back to him you thief!” the man proceeds to shout, an insult that Heather shoots back towards instinctively, a sudden turn around catching the attention of both the man and Ameil beside her. “What did you just say?” Heather asks, continuing to hold Amy in her arms while Ameil walks after her, trying to keep her from interacting with the man in any way.
“You’re just giving him what he wants, Heather” Ameil explains, the woman brushing off the suggestions in favor of confronting the man. “Repeat what you just said, but do it to my face this time!” Heather exclaims, the man holding his hands up in a sign of surrender when confront face to face. “I guess I should introduce myself” the man explains, dropping one hand from beside his head and holding it out for a handshake, “Seth Havermeyer, I write for the Sun City journal.”
Her eyes narrowing, Heather repeats the man’s introduction in a mocking tone, antagonizing the figure and telling him to mind his business before beginning to walk away. “I’ll keep my nose out of it then!” Seth replies, returning his hands into the air in a snarky, mocking fashion, “just don’t let pretty boy here get shot on your watch!”
Turning around, Heather approaches the man angrily, holding Amy to the side and raising her hand, a gesture immediately met with defense by Seth. In an act that riles the crowd up, Seth pulls his head back and sends a line of spit towards Heather, his aim thrown off by the quick dodge, letting the spit hit Amy instead. Disgusted by the action, Ameil goes into a rage and defensively punches Seth in the face, an action only further putting the crowd into a frenzy.
Feeling threatened, the side in the camp against Ameil and anyone associated with Dawson charge their opposite, which fight back as one would only expect. Issues flying well out of hand, Ameil, Heather and Amy are led by guards through a series of backroads, all directing the trio back towards the center of town, away from whatever outcome the fighting produces.
“What are you doing out here?” Katie asks, her voice catching John by surprise, his immediate question to ask how she found him. “I follow you everywhere, it’s kind of my job” Katie explains, John immediately proceeding to question how she managed to do such a thing. “I took the second boat, did you stow away in a box somewhere?” John asks, the woman reminding John that the gulf waters are calm enough to swim through during the day.
“I’ve followed you where you’ve gone since you told me to at the New World Order” Katie explains, “I appreciate you giving me a reason to go on a workout to do so, though.” Her eyes averting towards the woman, Katie inquires about the sight she’s becoming witness to. His golf club pointing in the direction of the woman, John fights off the urge to speak in a somber tone.
Solemnly introducing herself as Taya, the woman allows John to do the rest, his words falling flat of explaining anything other than he got her bit. “And you didn’t think to cut the arm off?” Katie wonders, the woman responding that she’s right handed, therefor useless without it. “Not one to adapt, I see” Katie jokes, the woman taking offense momentarily before John puts an end to the arguing before it can begin.
“So, what now?” Katie asks, John explaining that he’s already volunteered to put her down when she’s ready for it. “No, I’m not asking about how you’re gonna approach this” Katie replies, confusing John, “I’m asking how long you’ll be holding this over your own head before you snap out of it and get off your ass again.”
“What do you mean?” John asks, Katie chuckling as if the man were joking, refusing to allow John to go without being aware of his own traits. “You don’t take people dying too well” Katie responds, John hanging his head and asking if one can blame him. “If you were just another member of the group, no I could not” Katie replies, “but you’re the leader, and any emotion that you feel is one everyone else feels by proxy.”
Looking back up at the woman, John nods in agreement, understanding the point Katie’s trying to make. “I’m not saying you can’t grieve, but I am saying that you can’t let this consume you” Katie explains, “people die and it sucks, but we get over it and we move on.” Wiping the droplets of water from her machete, Katie tells the man that nothing they’ve accomplished would have been possible if everyone sat on their hands grieving all day.
“Whether it was because of you or something else, she was gonna die someday” Katie explains, “it’s as true now as it was before all of this shit went down… We all die, it’s only a matter of when.” Walking up to the man, Katie directs his eyes into hers, intent on ensuring he takes in every word she says as gospel. “You can’t blame yourself for this and continue to be the leader” Katie explains, “I know you have a lot on your plate, but you need to finish it if you’re gonna be in charge.”
Pressing his tongue against the inside of his mouth, John nods to Katie, agreeing with every word she’s said. “We’re all flawed, you’re no different” Katie explains, “but you need to start learning how to deal with it in ways that don’t get you or someone else hurt… This should be another lesson to learn.”
Looking away from the woman, John glances at Taya, who is left to serve as the third wheel of the conversation in her final moments in life. Looking back in an aggravated fashion, Taya takes herself up from her seat and sits on her knees, John removing the gun from his belt loop until Taya suggests otherwise. “Don’t waste your bullets on me, this is just out of mercy” Taya explains, her finger lifting towards the golf club, “don’t waste your ammo on a mercy killing.”
Refusing to allow the man to refuse, Taya looks at Katie, giving the woman the signal to strip John of the gun, all that’s left in his hand being the golf club. “Take your best swing, and do it quietly” Taya exclaims, “I want it to be over quick, but I don’t wanna know it’s coming.” Swallowing his pride, John does as instructed, holding the golf club by his side as Taya makes one final request.
“When you go-” Taya begins, her statement cut off with John cutting the goodbyes short, laying the club into the back of the woman’s head, immediately knocking her into the dirt, unconscious and still breathing. “You could have let her finish” Katie says, her words holding no grievance as the man takes in a few deep breaths. “She didn’t wanna see it coming” John explains, adjusting his stance to stand over the woman, “there wasn’t any better way than that.”
Finishing the job, John crushes the woman’s skull with the club an exceeding number of times than necessary before stopping, the brains of the woman spilled upon the dirt like an animal. A deranged, thousand-yard stare on his face, John keeps his eyes upon the woman he not only murdered, but sentenced to death, refusing to allow himself a future chance to forget the things he had done that day.
Looking away, Katie allows the man to take in the sights, watching as he picks up the woman’s rifle from the ground and hands it to the woman. Silent, John walks past Katie, continuing the way he came whilst the woman remains stood there, watching the man walk off beneath the sunlight, his victim left buried in the open, left to rot with the undead.
Fearing what will come of this, Katie stands frozen for another few moments before beginning after John again, throwing the rifle over her shoulder and making for the boat.
== Rise ==