Being unable to sleep for another full night, John leaves the bed shared with his wife and throws on a flannel shirt, grabbing his cane from its place against the nightstand. “You should be trying to sleep” Jess mutters from under her breath, wanting her husband to do his best to fall into rest despite being unable to sleep herself. “I don’t think I can get any sleep knowing what I do” John replies, limping back to his wife and giving her a kiss on the head.
“Not sleeping for multiple nights isn’t going to change anything” Jess replies, her husband combing her hair back with his thumb, “we’re still working on a time crunch with or without you.” With a breath-heavy laugh, John reminds his wife that his entire job was to go nights without sleep. “This is normal for me, don’t let it be that for you” John replies, another kiss to his wife’s head signalling his departure.
Retiring to the fact that she’ll never change her husband’s mind, Jess silently lets him walk off into the night, hobbling to the side, his hand pressed down atop the handle of his new wooden cane. A worried look on her wide-eyed face, Jess remains laid on her side, arms crooked beneath the pillow, staring at the wall as a sufferer of the same dilemma.
Limping his way towards the office, John glances towards the metal gating to find Angela and Cameron sat atop, serving lookout for the group currently abroad. “Someone outside the fences?” John calls out, Cameron looking back to reply with the names of Jack and Lauren. “Why are they out so early in the morning?” John asks, an amused Cameron looking back to him and replying, “you mean so late at night?”
Shrugging, John says “sure”, Cameron doubling down on his statement, returning to lookout as John enters the office. Muffled in the back, the wailing sounds of gagged screaming and tortuous beatings tuck themselves away in the unseen portions of the building. Not stopping until he reaches the very end of the office room, John turns to his right and reaches out for the doorknob to the basement, desperate groans growing much louder as soon as the door glides open.
Supported by the railing, John descends the staircase, finally reaching the cement ground as the beating comes to a halt, Emilio, Alicia and Franklin stepping away from the prisoner. Hands tied together and restrained behind the back of the chair, the captive man whimpers through his cloth gag, eyes red and cheeks stained with tears. “Is he going to talk?” John asks, looking towards Emilio first, who is more than happy to respond with everything he can.
“He claims he doesn’t know anything more than what he’s sent out to collect” Emilio responds, “so you’re told nothing about anything other than what your responsibility is.” Thinking over that for a moment, John looks back to Emilio, inquiring about what they were sent out to collect. Rather than using hiss own words, Emilio reaches out to pull the gag away from the man’s mouth, his sobs holding pleas for his life in each breath.
“If you want any hope at being useful to us, you’re gonna have to tell us what you know” John informs, making it known to the man that they have a mass grave for anyone that can’t supply them with that. In fear, the man agrees to share everything he knows, quick to answer any question the man asks. “Every week, we come back to the mainland to collect supplies” the prisoner responds, “one captain, one guard to look after him, all others go to land.”
Using the curved end of his cane to pull a chair before the man, John takes a seat and tells the man to continue sharing, hands folding as he begins to piece together his next moves. “That’s really all there is, we’re not told much more” the man responds, “they suppose this task is an easy job, so they don’t feel the need to tell us to look out.”
“Why wouldn’t they think this was difficult?” Alicia asks, her arms crossed as she leans against her boyfriend’s side, refusing to allow any holes in his story. Stuttering for a moment, the man takes his eyes away from Alicia and returns them to John, his follow-up coming through a tone resembling that of shame. “We thought everyone on the mainland would be dead by now” the man responds, a smile on John’s face being followed by a laugh.
“Okay, so I guess there’s another big question left to ask” Emilio exclaims, Franklin jumping in to finish his sentence, “what do you mean by they?” Splitting his look between both men, the prisoner responds with a question, simple curiosity over what they mean by the question. “We’re asking, who are your people?” John responds, cutting the redundancies and watching the man’s eyes narrow, a puzzled look taking over his face.
“Our community” the man responds, “the one over on Plum Island?” The four groupmates looking around to each other in confusion, Emilio informs the man that they have no idea who his community is. “We’re not native to Long Island” John replies, “up until about a year ago, you would’ve never seen us in these little excursions.”
“Does your community have a name?” Alicia immediately follows, the prisoner looking back to her with a very slight amount of joy, a somewhat smile forming on his face. “Sun City” the man replies, Alicia looking to John without a change of expression, the man sharing her same response. “What did you come over here looking for?” Emilio asks, his arms crossed as per usual, stood still looking over the man, who admits that there was nothing more than typical supplies.
“Medicine, food, water, ammunition” the man responds, “all the basic things you would expect to need nowadays.” More interested in the source, Franklin asks where he would find all of these things. “An old barn a few miles out from the coast” the man responds, “we trade with an old woman that makes a whole ton of things from the place.”
Keeping their distance from this topic, Alicia and Franklin maintain their silence for the moment, John and Emilio continuing the interrogation from this moment forward. “What do you mean by ‘makes’ these things?” John asks, the prisoner running down the different ways to make dairy products, medical supplies, and even medical alternatives in the simplest forms. “When supplies are hard to come by, it’s a valuable commodity to be able to make them yourselves.”
Feeling the need to push in, Alicia interrupts the follow-up by asking whether or not the woman had supplies this time around. “No” the prisoner responds, John having taken his eyes away from their captive and imprinted them upon Franklin and Alicia, noticing their look from a great distance away, “she never answered, so we headed back to the boats.”
“What’s your name?” John asks, returning his eyes to the man, the bloody-lipped, wet-faced man responding with, “Ameil.” Looking back to Emilio, John asks him what elements of torture he was put through. “Waterboarding only” Emilio replies, “he hit his face on the watering can when he tucked his head down, but that’s all we needed for him.” Nodding, John tells Ameil to sit tight as he stands from his seat, requesting that Franklin and Alicia join him in the corner of the room.
“I’ve seen that look a thousand times from many different people” John explains, “you know something about this and I want to know what it is.” With a deep breath, Alicia admits that they killed the woman without hesitation, John’s expression taking a slight change into disappointment. “She opened fire on us first for what that’s worth” Alicia follows, Franklin remaining silent, “Katie took her down with one shot, his people came the day after.”
“So their main supplier in Long Island is now in a ditch somewhere?” John asks, Alicia and Franklin both quietly nodding. With a deep breath, John places hsi free hand to his hip and looks back to Emilio, requesting his presence as well. “Any chance we take a chance on this guy and take advantage of this situation?” John asks, Emilio immediately becoming skeptical, but refusing to make any assumptions without John’s further explanation.
“It sounds like our boat-finders killed the chick two days ago” John responds, Emilio sarcastically referring to how great that news is to hear, “what if we picked up where she left off?” Confused, Emilio finds himself equally intrigued, wanting John to continue, the man doing so with glee. “Chances are the woman had a stockpile set up for this next pickup” John explains, “what if we gave ‘em the kid and the rest of the inventory in return for a boat?”
“You think they’re just gonna give up a boat like that?” Emilio asks, John reminding him that he’s not looking for a fleet, but simply one boat. “They get one of their runners, the remaining supplies there is left, and we get ourselves a ticket away from this horde” John responds, Emilio finding himself lured into the suggestion. “We’ll look through what she left behind, take what we need, give them the rest and hope it works out?” Alicia asks, “I actually like those odds.”
Looking back to the man, John calls out Ameil’s name, the younger man looking up towards the least-hostile member he’s encountered. “Today might be your lucky day” John exclaims, a smile on his face as he nods to Emilio, the three members remaining looking over Ameil as John ascends the staircase, beginning the stages of putting his plan into motion.
= 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 =
Waking up in a sweat, Meghan gasps for air, panic in her eyes slowly settling into dread as she sits up in bed, wiping the crumbs from her eyes and tossing the covers away from her body. “Heading out?” Troy asks, Meghan caught by surprise as she emerges from her room, sweater wrapped around her as she jumps at the sound of the man’s voice. “Sorry” Troy responds, “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“What’re you doing out here?” Meghan asks, Troy throwing his arms out as he looks back to the boat he sits beside, admitting that Heather needed someone to take after it. “If that horde’s coming soon, we’re gonna need everything we can to have a chance at outrunning it” Troy replies, “I guess trying to make sure we have a boat qualifies as that.”
A passing smirk, Meghan attempts to continue walking, the man calling her back, asking why she seems so off. “I’m not off” Meghan replies, “I’m just going for a walk.” Hand dropping over his knee, Troy calls the woman on her bluff, stating that there is a clear issue present. “It’s the middle of the night, it’s the back half of summer and you’re freezing, should I go on?” Troy asks, “because if I did, I’d point out the fact that it’s the middle of the night a second time.”
“What do you care?” Meghan asks, the man throwing his hands out, asking why she would think that he didn’t. “You’re never around unless the group goes off to do something together” Meghan replies, “you’re just doing your own thing until it becomes a group effort.” His head hung, Troy nods in agreeance, admitting that being a part of a group had never been his strong suit.
“I’ll give you that, I’m not always a team-player” Troy admits, “but don’t let that make you think I don’t care about any of you.” Shrugging, Meghan tells Troy that she never suggested such a thing, the man nodding in compliance, watching her walk off. Suddenly, Meghan stops in her tracks, Troy hesitantly allowing her to walk off by returning to work on the boat until the woman turns back, calling out a question to him.
“Why aren’t you into the group thing?” Meghan asks, Troy caught by surprise by her sudden interest, “why do you prefer being alone?” Not needing much time to think about it, Troy answers Meghan’s question by asking her what she remembered first learning about him. After a moment, Meghan responds by recalling a time where he had a pet snake named after a Seinfeld character.
With a chuckle, Troy corrects her approach. “It was named after a House character, and his name was Laurie” Troy responds, “and he was very clearly my best friend.” Nodding, Meghan asks what his pet snake has in regards to his reasoning for remaining alone. “Exactly, that… My best friend was a pet snake” Troy responds, laughing at himself, “I was never the one that was a part of the big groups, just the one that the big groups picked on.”
Taking in a deep breath and sighing away the air that had once filled his lungs, Troy admits that he’s just naturally been someone that found more value in being alone. “If I’m being honest with myself, I’d have to admit that I’m not very good at not being alone” Troy replies, Meghan nodding, prepared enough to resume her walk. “Everyone at the camp likes you in the rare times they see you” Meghan responds, putting a smile on the man’s face, “try getting better at not being alone.”
With a nod, Troy watches Meghan walk away before slowly returning to the fix-up of his boat, continuing to smile much like Meghan, only for the latter to slowly drop her smile into another frown as she continues onward.
A new day carrying the same weight as every day before it, the group groggily walks into the office, very little rest having come from the night prior. Sat behind the desk, John watches the group walk in, one after another appearing through the door. “I’m gonna get started so we aren’t wasting anymore daylight” John explains, “I think we have a somewhat viable chance at getting off this island.”
Leaning forward, John folds his hands together and looks at the collective group, the picture of every remaining survivor differing greatly from their first days post-pandemic. “I’m going to leave the decision up to you at the end, so I want everyone paying close attention” John calls, any members of the group having slumped in their seats now sitting up with great anticipation.
Explaining the events that led Alicia’s group to killing the winery owner, John begins adding the Sun City traders into the scenario, the group slowly becoming aware of how this is set to work. “We’re left with a few options, none of which hold any guarantees which is why this isn’t a decision only I should be able to make” John explains, “that said, I want you to vote based off what you’re most comfortable with.”
With a deep breath, John looks towards each member of the group as he labels these choices, watching their expressions change with each afforded choice. “Trade Ameil and the supplies for a boat, kill Ameil and keep the supplies to grab a boat from them next time around” the first two options bringing cautious faces, “the curious attempt at joining the Sun City community if possible, or remain at the motel behind our walls and wait the horde out.”
Immediately concerned, Emilio lifts his hand and inquires about the latter-most option, curious as to what John means by ‘waiting out the horde’. “We know the horde moves based off landmass, so they could reach the end of Long Island and start moving back” John replies, Meghan immediately finishing John’s sentence, “or they could just stay and linger around just outside the gates.”
Lips puckered, John nods in compliance, the choice of staying coming with the uncertainty that the horde will ever walk off of their own accord. “So there’s a chance we end up hiding from a radioactive horde in this cramped piece of shit for who knows how long?” Cameron asks, ensuring his vote remains uncasted for staying put.
“Jess and I were talking about this a little the other day” Angela begins, her voice softer than the rest, quieter than most, “is this the best time to start asking what happens if there’s already people on the island?” Glad to hear it mentioned, Salem thanks Angela for finally bringing up the elephant in the room.
“We just killed a family the other day because we supposedly take no chances, that would answer Angela’s question, we’d just kill them and take it” Salem explains, “but if we’re now considering taking a chance on this kid and this group, the answer isn’t so clear anymore.” Nodding, John agrees, admitting that discussing the original option goes against everything they have put in place to maintain their own survival.
“I understand the worry, but if there was any time to throw aside taking no chances, it would be for something like this” John explains, “our hands are tied and we’re being handed a pair of scissors.” Arms crossed, Emilio explains to John that the scissors could find themselves lodged in their necks at any second. “I know that” John replies, his voice lowering, Emilio knowing his sincerity, “but Sun City might be a place willing to make this deal.”
“Sure, Sun City could be as shiny and bright as the name would suggest” Angela replies, “but it could also be another Sheol.” Head hung, Angela pauses for a moment as silence befalls the group, speaking up with a follow seconds later. “Or it could be another New World Order” Angela replies, the hung heads of the group springing up, John looking up to the woman in disappointment.
“Cameron was telling me about everything you guys saw before we met on the gates” Angela explains, “I heard all about the walls and the camp, the scavengers and everything.” With a deep breath, Angela thinks over her words, the people having experienced what she now finds herself talking about awaiting a third-party take they had never experienced prior.
“If we don’t even know where that Charlotte chick is now, we can’t be sure about anything with this Sun City” Angela admits, the group nodding in agreement. “She may not have lived through it, and hell, most of you probably don’t know what Salem, Alicia and I had to go through” Franklin admits, “but that doesn’t make her any less right.”
With a somber tone, Franklin admits that they’ve never had luck with big communities before, pointing out that people only regress in morality the longer they experience the world. “Sure, they get a ton of shit and one of their guys back for a boat, but who’s to say they take no chances either?” Franklin asks, “and we all remember why we started looking out for ourselves first.”
“We can talk about all the people that fucked us over until we’re blue in the face” Troy exclaims, one leg crossed over the other, “but unless we get out of here, there is no ‘us’ to look out for.” Clearing his throat, Troy accepts his part as a member of the group, letting his foot fall to the floor as he leans forward.
“We can talk about ‘no chances’ when we get this done” Troy replies, “but in order to make sure we survive, make sure everyone we’ve lost hasn’t been for nothing, this is the time for chances.” Collectively, the group begins to fall in line with Troy, the point he makes unmistakable in nature, a bitter pill to swallow necessary to ensure survival. “We still don’t know how to interact with these guys” Emilio responds, “as good of a point Troy makes, there are many things we still don’t know.”
“We can call for them and make the offer tonight” John explains, “we’ll get everything set up and make the trade in the morning.” Looking around the room, heads begin to nod, everyone coming into agreement. “The only question left is who goes to meet these guys?” Emilio asks, immediately offering to go himself. “I don’t want one of my most dependable hands going out to meet these guys alone” John replies, looking towards Alicia’s group for an offer.
“We’ll go, no problem” Alicia replies, a smile on her face being turned into confusion as Meghan refuses, making the demand that she go alone. “We’re safer off having four go instead of just one alone” John replies, Meghan telling John that he can’t risk their lives, the danger of these people as of yet unknown. “You send them out there, and there’s a chance they don’t come back” Meghan replies, “it’s best you send someone out there that doesn’t care about those risks.”
Confused, John double-checks Meghan’s offer, asking if she’s suggesting that she doesn’t fear whatever baggage these citizens bring with them. “I don’t” Meghan replies, “my life is less valuable than any one of theirs, so I, and I alone, should go.” Confused, the group looks at Meghan, John on the verge of laughing at the suggestion, Jess telling Meghan not to think of herself in such a degrading way.
Holding his hand out to signal to his wife to halt her efforts, John asks Meghan why she would suggest anything of the sorts, the woman closing her eyes and taking in a deep breath. “Meghan?” John asks, the woman sporting an anxious look as everyone begins to take notice, “what’s going on with you?”
Lip quivering, Meghan begins to tear up, looking towards Jess and Amy before beginning to tear up, the remainder of the group looking on in a great deal of concern. “Meghan?” John calls for a second time, the optimism had from coming to a final vote thrown out of the window upon the display,, Meghan looking back at John with her hands cupped together in her lap, the man repeating the question, “what’s wrong?”
The discussion having passed so quickly, Meghan was left dreading having to speak, seeing the ultimate opportunity to do so when volunteers were necessary. Catching her breath as the anxiety continues to rise the longer she goes without speaking, Meghan eventually becomes overwhelmed and lets her fears take control, confessing her reasoning to a horrified reaction from the group.
“I’m bit” Meghan mutters, a few gasps coming from an equal few people, the remainder just watching on in silence, either their jaws dropping or their eyes beginning to water. Leaning forward, Meghan pulls the collar from her shirt down, showing the imprint of a bite on the back of her neck, John’s head immediately dropping. Assuming its place of origin to be as he believes it to be, Emilio shuts his eyes, beginning to force his emotions down.
“Emilio and I were trying to board off that building yesterday, and some shit hit the fan” Meghan responds, Emilio’s head dropping before he walks off without a word. “One of them grabbed me by the hair and… And this happened” Meghan concludes, the power to finish her explanation being lost. Unable to bare any further explanation, Jess sits Amy on her chair and walks up to her sister, pulling her into a hug as the rest of the group partially dies on the inside.
“What are the chances she can survive it?” Troy calls out, his mind not wanting to admit that one of their own has been lost, instead coping by sifting through his head for a feasible excuse. “If this is a disease, then there’s nothing we can do about it” Troy continues, the rest of the group having been too depleted to cut him off, “but people can be immune to diseases! It happens all the time!”
The room silent, Troy looks around, the survivors around him staring with eyes of refusal, a faint “right?” leaving his lips as his final ounces of hope disappear. Standing from his seat, John slowly leaves his desk, walking through the door and noticing the gate left partially open. Somberly walking over, John peers outside to see Emilio approaching a small crowd of the undead with a rock, the cane in John’s hand now pulled into readiness.
Hobbling beside Emilio, John looks to the man and nods, a nod returned as they hurry up to the dead and level them with their chosen weapons. Refusing to kill any, John and Emilio simply hit them hard enough to drop, but leaving them able to get up and return fire. Emilio using the rock as a miniature battering ram, each strike comes with a grunt. Taking another approach, John hooks the dead and trips them, beating them whilst they’re down as the group emerge from the gates.
Exhausting their energy, John and Emilio simply stand against each other’s backs, watching the dead struggle to lift themselves to their feet. Knowing their fun had come to an end, Salem pulls her rifle forward and takes the group out, one falling after another all around the men. “I caused this” John admits, “had I never gone up that fucking tower, none of this would have happened.”
His head shaking, Emilio refuses to allow the victim of a radio tower collapsing blame himself for a death that followed after. “I ran us into that building after you, and I went after the shelf” Emilio responds, “had I not tripped over a stupid fucking pile of junk, she’d still be safe.”
“I don’t blame either of you” Meghan calls, having departed the group and approached the men, their exhausted breaths signalling the beginning of an attempt to cope. “In fact, I’m glad I’m the only one this happened to” Meghan admits, Emilio and John both looking at the woman in disapproval of their own actions. “He didn’t hesitate to go in after you, not for a second!” Meghan shouts to John, her finger pointed towards Emilio, telling the former to be proud.
“You impacted this group in such a way that he didn’t stutter, his only thought was to get you out of that shit” Meghan recalls, the response existing as proof that the group needs John. Turning to Emilio, Meghan threatens to slap the man if he apologizes anymore than he already has. “The second he went down, you didn’t stand back and panic about what to do next, you took action” Meghan replies, “you saved his fucking life, and you didn’t even have to think about it.”
Reminding both men of all they’ve seen, Meghan implores them not to let this hiccup derail everything they’ve worked for. “Maybe I should be more mad than I am, but I don’t really care to play by norms right now” Meghan replies, “we’ve fought too hard to let something like this cost us everything we’ve been working for.” Heads hung, John and Emilio nod in agreement, finding little reason to be worked up over someone’s demise if that person couldn’t care less themselves.
“If you wanna remember me, build me a headstone when you get to the island, or fuck it, build us all a headstone!” Meghan responds, “but actually finish the job and get to the fucking island first.” With a deep breath, a slight wheeze coming, Meghan tells them not to let her down, and push the short distance they have left to run. Nodding, John and Emilio promise to do what it takes to avenge her efforts, a tear running down Meghan’s cheek as she hears that.
With a smile, the woman looks at both of them, genuine passion behind the whispered hush of her simple, yet notable response. “I know” the woman replies, wrapping her arms around both me, continuing to whisper, “you make me so proud to have shared this road with you.” Beginning to cry again, Meghan stumbles over her words, another congested whisper flutters from her lips, “keep making me proud.”
The sun finally lifting over the horizon, the soon-to-be blue sky burns a light orange, the group left at the gates, trying to keep their emotions in check on what should be the final day of uncertainty. A mixture of a promising future meeting the stubborn wall of a valiant fight to the end, the new day brings along one final effort, an effort one year in the making, and an effort to close the approach-altering chapter in their post-Sheol world.
See the job through to the end.