“Don’t jump” Emilio calmly, almost mockingly calls out to John, finding the man he’s shared every minute of the apocalypse beside leant over a railing, staring out at the choppy waters ahead. “It feels like I already did metaphorically” John replies, sharing the space with Emilio as the man takes the spot beside him, “my family is falling apart, I can’t feed my group, and this situation looks worse by the day.”
With a nod, Emilio agrees with John’s every statement, disgusted at himself internally, but proud that he has grown to be able to accept the harsh truths. “Every day, it feels more and more like the only way to plan for the future is to not plan for the future” Emilio accepts aloud, “everywhere we go, the result always ends the same… We lose everything we worked for.”
Spitting a wad of saliva into the sea before him, John informs Emilio of both Jack and Alicia’s return, having come up empty handed. “They seem off, I’m pretty sure empty hands aren’t the only things they came back with” Emilio says, nonchalantly implying the pair to not be sharing everything they know, “but it doesn’t really matter at this point now, does it?”
With a shrug, John inquires about the polls Sun City has undertaken. With a chuckle, Emilio tells John that they’ve already lost in every way other than the actual election. “The people aren’t buying anything I’m selling, and quite frankly, neither am I” Emilio explains, “there’s no coming back for us there.” With a deep breath, John nods to himself, a grimace gradually appearing over his face until he slams the palm of his hand against the slick metal supports beneath him.
“We can’t win” John proclaims, Emilio’s head hanging as he accepts the same conclusion, John left to stare out aimlessly at the seas. In silence, both men stare out at the foggy air, the cold growing worse by the day, their paramotorist friend no longer deeming the air quality safe enough to travel through.
With a sigh, Emilio confesses details of his capture to John, explaining that the woman responsible for holding him captive tried to convince him of something she thought to be important. “She wanted me to realize that there was no such thing as democracy anymore” Emilio explains, “that the strength of any group depends on the strength of their leader… And only their leader.”
“And what did you take away from that?” John asks, his eyes not once having turned towards Emilio, simply speaking to him in passing. “That she was right” Emilio replies, finally gaining the sight of John, a smirk coming over the man’s face, chuckling to himself. “The true politician finally shows his true colors” John jokes, playfully shoving Emilio, who smiles at the irony behind the confession.
“I don’t see any reason to believe she’s wrong, if I’m being honest” Emilio replies, the humor dying down, “after all, we told ourselves to take no chances to make sure the group stayed safe.” His head hung, John nods to himself, staring at the horrible waters below in the moment it takes for him to shake his head. “We did too many horrible things because of that in the name of a future we clearly didn’t do well with” John explains, pointing to the landmarks of the island.
“I won’t argue about what having to kill innocent people did to my head because I was already pretty fucked up to start with” John admits, “but it was all for nothing.” His lips puckered and head shaking, Emilio disagrees with the man, John surprised at the ease in which Emilio’s able to accept such alternative approaches. “It kept us all alive for damn near a year” Emilio explains, “and the only time we lost people, Meghan… Troy… Cameron… was when we took chances again.”
“You’re saying the way to survive is to kill everyone we ever come across from here on out?” John wonders, “just be the guys every television show would portray as the villains?” With a shrug, Emilio reminds John that they’re the villains to someone else at all times. “What it did was keep us alive, and we only lost people when we stopped” Emilio explains, “if being the bad guy is what will keep us alive, I’m willing to be the bad guy.”
His mouth slightly agape, John stares out at the distance, the blackened remains of the island across the waterfront in his sights. “We can’t save everyone, John” Emilio explains, “I’m on your side, but I also feel like we can be honest with each other.” Tapping the man beside him on the shoulder, Emilio signals for John’s attention, the man responsible for having gotten the group this far now giving Emilio his undivided attention.
“If you’re gonna be the leader, be the leader that can make the tough decisions, even if you don’t like them” Emilio explains, “but if you can’t do what’s needed to keep us alive, don’t be the leader.” With a pat on the man’s shoulder, Emilio walks off, leaving his friend to his inner thoughts, allowing John to take in the view as a backdrop for the flooding thoughts fighting for attention inside his own head.
= 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 =
“I’m not leaving Sun City behind” Dawson shouts, throwing a knife at a beer can placed upon a tree stump, slicing through the thin metal with precision. “If you all want to leave, go ahead… I’m not abandoning the ship I worked to build” Dawson continues, both Heather and Ameil doing what they can to convince the man otherwise. “It’s no one’s fault at this point, Dawson” Ameil explains, “Emilio’s not going to win the election, and the power’s going to be in Seth’s hands.”
“That scrawny bastard can scare me off when I’m dead” Dawson exclaims, throwing another knife, this time the blade bouncing aimlessly off a tree and disappearing into the disintegrated remains. “If you stay here, Dawson holds the power over the military… He’ll have you killed if he truly wants to” Ameil explains, a still-defiant Dawson still refusing to leave his work for dead.
“If he wants to kill me, I’ll go down as a martyr for the Sun City I built” Dawson replies, an increasingly angry Ameil replying otherwise. “No, you’ll go down as a failed leader and a man too stubborn to accept when something’s been lost” Ameil shouts, a statement immediately prompting Dawson to hurry up to Ameil’s face and admit the same. “I probably am too stubborn to accept when something’s gone” Dawson explains, “you’re so easy to turn and run, yet I’m not calling you a traitor yet.”
“He’s didn’t turn his back on anything, he’s just accepting reality” Heather replies, a statement shot down by Dawson as quickly as it leaves her lips. “You shouldn’t have a say in any of this matter seeing that it was your group that caused all of this in the first place” Dawson replies, only growing angrier when Ameil tries to fan the flames. “Let’s not bring people that don’t need to be in this conversation where they don’t belong” Ameil replies, being spat at by Dawson in refusal.
“Listen here, you dickless cunt” Dawson calls out, “her group walked in, pitied us into letting them fight a losing battle, cost us everything and now wants to ditch us in the middle of the night!”
“We came here to offer you a chance to come with us, no one’s leaving anyone behind” Ameil explains, a tired Dawson shaking his head with a sigh. “You and I, the real you and I, they died with the Sun City her people stole from us” Dawson explains, “any part of us that shares a spot on their cowardly boat is just a shell of what died with the city.” Wielding another knife, Dawson spits upon the ground and hurls the blade towards the tree, digging the sharp edge into the burnt remnants.
Walking up to Dawson, Ameil places his hand upon the man’s shoulder, trying to afford comfort to the man he’s known his entire life. “We both know how much this hurts, but we can’t let ourselves die for something that doesn’t exist anymore” Ameil explains, “I might not agree with everything her group stands for, but they’re telling the truth when they say the only thing worth dying for is the future.”
Glancing towards the ground, Dawson directs his eyes where Ameil tells him to, looking at the island he’s been forced into exile upon, assuring him that there’s something more to be made out in the world. “It may be stripped baron, we’ll probably have to suffer a bit to make it somewhere… But there’s going to be somewhere to go” Ameil explains, “but you can’t see any of that from this hunk of burnt shit.”
His jaw lowering, Dawson attempts to produce a rebuttal, only for his thoughts to fade, eyes only turning towards Ameil with a lack of confidence. Silent, Dawson just stares at his longtime friend, Ameil stood there waiting for a response that doesn’t come, Heather standing patiently behind, hoping for the best outcome.
“Why do we have to leave?” Amy calls out, Jess unwilling to spare any of the harsher truths with her daughter, simply explaining that the weather is going to get bad. While the woman packs her daughter’s clothes into a suitcase, the closed wooden door is knocked upon from the other end, Amy quickly racing to greet those on the other side. “Daddy!” Amy shouts, wrapping her arms around the man’s leg before he picks her up, Jess trying to hide a smile as the man makes his way inside.
“Can I talk to you for a second?” John asks aloud, Jess nodding without a word as John places his daughter back to the floor, telling her to play with toys while the pair step into the hallway. Closing the door behind them until the only sight into the room is a crack in the doorway, John turns back towards Jess, the woman immediately inquiring the reason behind this greeting.
“Is there something you ne-” Jess begins, silenced immediately when John pulls her into a kiss, his hands caressing the woman’s jawline as their lips pull on each other’s. Once the kiss is broken, John takes Jess’ hands into hers and apologizes for having failed at his job, both on the fronts of being a father and a husband. “I’m gonna have to do things that make me feel less than human when we’re back out there” John explains, “it makes me realize how off I’ve been.”
With a sigh, John shakes his head, struggling to find the words to say as he holds his wife’s hands to his chest. “This world is too dangerous for me to just be the parent I was trying to be when all of this started” John explains, “but I have to learn how to make my duty to keeping this group alive fit in with my duty to be your husband and Amy’s father.”
With a deep breath, John watches Jess’ face slowly light up, her eyes warming with hope when John finally admits that he’s ready to start learning. “I’ve never been all there mentally, it never mattered where I was, I just never was” John explains, “it’s time for me to grow up… Actually take on the responsibilities I signed up for… On all fronts.”
Before being able to apologize, John is pulled into another kiss, his wife refusing to hold onto despair of the past, only wanting to appreciate the moment while they have it. Unable to speak, Jess smiles to her husband and holds her forehead to his lips, unable to cover the pearly-white shine of her teeth behind her parted lips.
“You love birds ready or what?” Jack exclaims as he and Lauren leave their room, the little baggage they need toted behind them. With Jess in his arms, John turns with a smile, “I think we’re as ready as we’ve ever been.” With a nod, Jack pats John on the shoulder as Jess returns to Amy, Jack keeping behind Lauren for a moment to speak to John. “It’s nice to see you smiling again, man” Jack whispers to John, patting him on the shoulder again as he follows Lauren down the stairs.
“We ready?” John calls out, Emilio stood beside the dock, watching Jack and Lauren lead the Callis family down the steps of the home. “Almost, Heather and Ameil are on their way back right now” Emilio exclaims as Nessie and Clint climb aboard. Getting Amy situated aboard, John disembarks the vessel for a moment, returning to the yard above as Heather’s boat comes into view.
Wrapping the jacket over his shoulder, John takes a moment while he has it to stand before the line of graves dug in memory of those they’ve lost. With a deep breath, John gets to his knee at the graves and reads aloud each name to himself, hanging his head in a moment of silence upon finishing. “I’m sorry what you died for us to see is being left like this” John addresses the dead, “I prefer to think you died so we could live, even if I sort of have to now to make peace with it all.”
Looking over the horizon, John finally catches a glimpse of those within Heather’s vessel, three figures only proof that the efforts of Heather and Ameil proved fruitful. “It seems like our time together is running out” John explains, leaving a white flower atop the spot between every grave. “I choose to believe that whatever comes next is better than all of this, too” John concludes, “and when we’re done being scared of what we know nothing about, we’ll join you there.”
With his final goodbyes uttered, John stands from his knee and descends the staircase as Heather, Ameil and Dawson dock. “Just in time, we were getting worried” Emilio explains, cracking a smile towards the trio, who all respond in varying ways. With a half-hearted smile returned by Heather, a nod of appreciation from Ameil and an unwelcoming frown from Dawson, Emilio stares at the last remaining survivor, John having his hands tucked in his pockets with a smile.
“This is it” John exclaims, a shrug from Emilio preceding a fist bump as the final pair board the ship. “And we’re good to go, folks” Emilio exclaims, turning the key in the ignition and forcing the ship forward, the Connecticut coastline barely visible over the Long Island sound.
/ Three Days Later /
“Welcome to Rhode Island!” Emilio exclaims, arms stretched out as the group continues over the long-abandoned highway, the only things breathing for what seems like miles being the group themselves. “Check every car you pass, take what’s valuable, leave what’s not” Jess proclaims, Amy walking ahead of her, continuing forward by the side of Heather and Ameil.
The cold coming over the group still wandering for direction only made worse with the lack of wind, everything remains quiet, an eery silence befalling the group as they march onwards. Peering into the windows of every vehicle she passes by, Nessie does a quick double take upon spotting something she likes the look of. Removing a road spike and a hammer from her bag, a light tap against the flat end of the jagged object causes the glass to shatter with relative quiet.
All looking back towards the woman, the group watches Nessie remove map from the car’s passenger side door. “I think I found something special” Nessie exclaims, holding her finding in the air as the group finds a sense of comfort in direction. A small fire contained in the center of the truck stop parking lot, the group runs over the map, their fingers taking them down different networks of roads, all leading to various possibilities differing upon who you ask.
Seated beside his family, John stays away from the frenzy of picking out a new destination of interest, a folded piece of paper in his hands providing more comfort to him. “Any chance we can take ninety-five into Canada?” John calls out, the eyes of those sat across the lot from him immediately falling upon him. Looking down, Nessie follows her own finger along the designated route before responding, “it can take us into New Brunswick.”
Specifying his destination further, John inquires once more. “Can we follow the road into Nova Scotia?” John asks aloud, his new inquiry prompting another search on Nessie’s part. “There are a few roads we can take if we’ve got a few weeks on our hands, why?” Nessie replies, John folding the paper into a neat pocket square once more before tossing it towards the crew across from him.
Unravelling the note, Nessie reads it aloud to the group before all eyes return to John again. “They’d been dropping these bricks over the last few weeks” John explains, his reference belonging to the paramotorist friend they had grown too comfortable with having around, “I was told not to share this until after we chose to leave.”
“This is why we left?” Salem asks aloud, John refusing such a claim. “Leaving the island was a last resort, and one that I didn’t want to take” John clarifies, “but now that we have, I’ve got no reason to keep this back anymore.” The note, when read aloud, informs those that once inhabited the island to move north as quickly as they could, some form of organized government still established in Nova Scotia.
“I know the goal is to take no chances, but this isn’t a stranger we’ve never met” John explains, “this is someone that clearly has enough supplies, and had already been looking out for us before we even knew better.” Interjecting, Amy voices her need to use the restroom, Heather immediately offering to take the young girl to the back, ensuring John and Jess’ focus remains unimpeded.
“I’ll keep watch” Ameil calls out, feeling the need to keep a third party armed in the event the unknown environment makes an attempt at spooking them. Having spent the majority of the night sheepishly sat in the corner staring out through the window, Dawson’s mood immediately shifts when Ameil leaves, the three figures most responsible for bringing him along now being left on their lonesome.
“I’ve gotta use the bathroom too, anyone else?” Dawson calls out, mostly ignored apart from sparse dismissals from the rest of the group, either out of annoyance or an outright disapproval. Shrugging his shoulders, Dawson groggily walks through the backdoor before his posture changes, the moody stance he once taken now turning into a motivated, hurried rush to catch up with the departing trio.
“Using the bathroom?” Ameil asks aloud, Dawson immediately shaking his head, approaching Ameil as if he were on drugs, face widened and expression panicked. “What’s going on with you, man?” Ameil questions, Dawson placing his hand on the man’s shoulder as Ameil takes notice of his strange mannerisms. “You guys need to get the fuck out of here” Dawson exclaims, “both of you! Take the girl, go north, don’t come back!”
“Are you alright, man?” Ameil asks, not taking Dawson seriously until the moment his friend removes a gun from his side, holding it at Ameil’s head. “Do what I’m telling you!” Dawson exclaims, Heather covering Amy’s mouth before the girl can let out a scream, Ameil’s eyes widened in shock as he watches the man he’s known his entire life turn on him in an instant.
“This isn’t what you think it is” Dawson explains, “I told you I couldn’t leave Sun City, so I didn’t… I bought my ticket back in.” Head shaking as horror overcomes him, Ameil asks Dawson to explain what he’s done, only for the gun-wielding man to brush off the request, explaining that there’s no time to sit around and wait. “You saved my life by convincing me to come along” Dawson explains, “I’ll do what I can to save them, but I need you to let me save your lives now, too.”
Having packed a small bag of supplies, Dawson tosses the pack to Heather, a small pocket map of the northeast and southern Canadian islands protruding from the front pocket. “If you guys go back inside, or if you tell them anything, we’ll all be killed… The girl, too” Dawson explains, “don’t let that happen.”
Stepping away from Ameil, Dawson pulls the hammer down on his gun, prepared to shoot if it comes to it, the fear on Ameil’s face turning into sadness. “Why’d you do this, Dawson?” Ameil asks aloud, Dawson apologizing again before warning Ameil that time has run out. “Turn around and walk away right now, or I’ll shoot you dead right here” Dawson explains, his hand steadying as the barrel of the gun lines up directly with Ameil’s head.
“Take your pick, brother” Dawson allows, watching Ameil turn to look back at Heather, the woman quickly nodding upon a second-long glance at Amy. “We can’t let anything happen to her” Heather quips, Ameil swallowing his pride and nodding back to Dawson, turning back to join with Heather and Amy, walking off with the gun still aimed at them. It isn’t until the moment the trio disappear from sight that Dawson lowers his weapon, the final sight of the three being a scared Amy looking back at him.
With a sigh of relief, Dawson lowers his gun to his side, his walkie talkie blurting out the voice of a man on the other end. “You cut out there, please copy” Dawson responds, the unintelligible voice clearing upon the second attempt, Dawson taking a breath of relief upon it’s conclusion.
“If we make it to Nova Scotia, whatever happens up there is on you” Emilio jokes, his finger raised towards John, the man’s arm wrapped around his wife as Dawson walks back in, camouflaging with the back. “I take full responsibility, Mr. Captain” John replies, a salute offered to Emilio with a water-filled disposable cup. Laughter dying down, the group takes interest at Dawson, the man hunched over with his hand grasping at his own chest, struggling to breath.
“What’s wrong?” John asks, the first to step up and offer assistance to the man, Emilio following in John’s lead as Dawson struggles onward. “What’s going on? Are you hurt?” John asks aloud, Dawson brushing off help, refusing assistance until he stumbles back, falling against the doors at the front of the store and collapsing onto the ground just outside. Hurrying to the man’s side on instinct, John rushes through the doors, Emilio following quickly thereafter as they kneel beside the man.
“Em, go get Amy and the rest in the back” John directs, Emilio nodding to the man as the rest of the group slips onto the front lot one after another. “Dawson, I need you to talk to me, man” John explains, opening the man’s shirt and checking at his chest. “What’s going on?” Jess asks, John admitting that he has zero clue. “I have no clue what to look at, Dawson” John explains, “I need you try to tell me what hurts.”
Unfurling his fingers, Dawson points to his lower body, his finger pressing against the skin just above the right of his pelvis. “Anyone have an idea of what’s over there?” John calls out, Katie the first to mention the appendix. “Anyone know how to perform an appendectomy?” John proceeds on, the lack of knowledge shared amongst the group leaving little hope.
Hurrying around the side of the building, Emilio calls out for John, catching his breath as his face becomes overwhelmed with worry. “They’re not back there!” Emilio calls out, watching confusion come across John’s body. “What!?” John calls back, Emilio repeating the same statement as before. Immediately realizing what this means for his family, John halts the efforts to assist Dawson by reaching for his own gun and holding it to the sick man’s head.
“What did you do to them?” John calls out, demanding to know why his daughter isn’t where she was supposed to be. Gasping for air, Dawson’s eyes jolt from one side to another, explaining to John with his hands that he wasn’t responsible. “Put your weapons down!” a voice calls out from afar, immediately prompting those within John’s group to take aim with the weapons they have upon their person.
Still knelt over Dawson, John’s gun is aimed directly at the figure in the forefront of the incoming group, the man power behind them vastly outnumbering that of John’s own group. “You’re outnumbered and stand no chance” Seth exclaims, his own rifle aimed at John, “drop your weapons and we’ll do this in a way that lets you all get out of this alive.”
Pushing himself to his feet, John keeps aim at Seth, the rest of his group, now stood in a line beside him, directed by their shot caller to lower their aim. “Smart man, you could be of use” Seth exclaims, his expression changing with the understanding of John’s worth. Though the man directed his group to lower their weapons, John remains steady in his own aim, refusing Seth’s suggestion to follow his own lead.
“I don’t want you wiping us all out before I get the chance to put you down in return” John replies, the army behind Seth now revealing their numbers by surrounding the camp, guns still drawn. “You can shoot me, I can shoot you” Seth exclaims, his own rifle drawn at the same height as John’s, “make your decision.”
His finger moving from the grip to the trigger, John’s hand grows steady, eyes narrowing upon the sight of Seth, prepared to shoot in a moment’s notice. “I’ll give you to the count of three to tell me why you followed us here” John explains, Seth smirking as his own hands steady upon his rifle.
“One…” John calls aloud, watching the eyes of Seth straighten, the army leader’s refusal to respond acting as a means to call John’s bluff. After another ten seconds, John counts up to the next number, “two…” he says aloud, the flat of his thumb resting against the gun’s rear sight, Seth continuing to remain silent. A final ten seconds pass again, the final digit to be called aloud, only silence coming over the surrounded core of survivors.
Noting John’s failure to stay on key, Emilio looks back to the man, “you didn’t say three” he explains, eyes widened and mouth agape as he looks on at John. Now realizing the silence, the rest of the group looks back to John as well, the man’s gun squeezed in his hand, now aimed at the ground by his side. With force, Dawson pulls away from John and takes a few steps back, allowing the defiant leader to stumble forward, blood pouring from a stab wound in his back.
“Joh-” Jess starts, unable to finish the call for her husband as John limps around, blood beginning to run from his mouth, eyes widened at the sight of the cause. Stood with a menacing look, Dawson holds a bloody dagger in his hand, his feigned illness having faded in an instant, watching John stumble backwards.
Stepping forward to reach out for the man, Emilio hears the army of readied weapons flood through the air just ahead, Seth’s militia refusing to allow Emilio any step out of place. Gasping for air, John looks away from Dawson, eyes widened as his head slowly turns towards his wife, frozen in shock at the sight. Choking on the blood, John staggers back again, quickly losing the strength to keep himself upright.
“J-” John begins, unable to get the words out as his body grows increasingly limp, the only motion his wife makes being to let her jaw hang further open. “Jessica” John calls out in a faint breath, the gun in his right hand falling to the ground as his left holds itself up, reaching out for his wife as he collapses backwards, crashing into the ground whilst his group helplessly watches on.
Stepping away from his militia, Seth approaches John as the man struggles to breath in between blood-filled gasps. Kicking the firearm away from John’s side and over to Dawson’s, Seth stares down at the fallen father, a smile coming over his face at the sight. “You don’t make it out this time, John” Seth mutters, standing over John, taking pleasure at his struggles. “You’ll pay just as they will” Seth concludes, John closing his eyes upon this reminder as the air becomes harder to come by.
== Rise ==