His hand on Ameil’s shoulder, John leads the prisoner through the backroads, Meghan taking out any of the undead that happen to find themselves unlucky enough to stumble into the wrong meeting. The asphalt below their feet covered in heavy amounts of sand and dirt from the years of mismanagement, it soon becomes noticeable when the ground below becomes wood, each step bringing a creek throughout the ground rather than a cloud of dust being kicked up.
“Where are we going?” Ameil asks, his hands tied together and his eyes covered by a facewrap, soon hearing the waters waving as he begins to understand what’s happening. “It’ll all be over soon, Ameil” John replies, the fear in Ameil’s voice clear, his worries quickly rising as he realizes that each step could be his last. “I can help you, we’re not bad people!” Ameil shouts, pleading for his life, John nodding his head in response, continuing to lead the man onward.
“I’m very certain you can and are, Ameil” John replies, the tone in which he responds as welcoming as the voice of a man disappointed in the actions he is about to take. Continuing to hear the waves crash over the coastline, Ameil begins to breath heavily, John’s reminders that this nightmare he’s been forced to endure soon to be over in one moment. “Please, sir” Ameil replies, “I’m telling you we can be your ticket somewhere better!”
His hands shaking enough for the metal handcuffs to annoyingly jitter, Ameil pleads with John to have mercy on him and consider his offer. “I’ve already considered your offer, Ameil… You wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t” John replies, finally tapping the man on the shoulder to stop walking. Looking to his side, John nods towards Meghan and removes the blindfold, taking a few steps back as Ameil glances behind him, continuing to plead for his life.
“I’m gonna need you to turn back around, Ameil” John replies, the fear in the man’s heart forcing him to look down rather than looking back, tears dropping from his face. “I don’t want to die” Ameil mutters under his breath, John admitting to him that no one truly does. “We don’t know what happens next, but we do know what we have right now… And it’s not much worth living for” John explains, “please, turn back around.”
His head dropped and face broken like a sad dog being berated by his owner, Ameil nods and steadily returns his glance to the sea ahead, the landmass in the distance lit in the night. “Please, you guys” Ameil continues, John’s head dropped as Ameil continues, “just let me go.” With a deep breath, John nods to himself before admitting that they are, telling him to keep his eyes forward.
Hand on John’s back, Meghan looks at the man and nods, accepting what has to be done, despite the clear look of concern on John’s face. Shaking in fear, Ameil lets out another trembling plea for his life which John refuses to answer, the removal of a firearm from the man’s waistband the only suggestion offered to Ameil of what is to come. “We’ve made up our minds, Ameil” John replies, the man hanging his head as his restraints give him no other option than acceptance.
Weapon in hand, John’s arm lifts from his side and steadies towards Ameil’s head, the man continuing to tremble at the knowledge that everything is about to end in one, ultimate moment. With a deep breath, John steadies his weapon, taking aim at the sights forward and fires, a bright burst of light shooting off into the distance, a shocked Ameil looking up to see a flare zip through the air and over the waters.
Struggling to catch his breath, Ameil looks back to find John returning his flare gun to his waistband, looking towards the man and explaining what he’ll tell his group. “The lady in the winery is dead, and they can have everything she left behind and her utilities” John explains, “they can also have you, unharmed and as alive as they left you, in return for one boat.”
Nodding in appreciation, Ameil’s fear finally dies off and a smile is left behind, his thanks being shared to the man, who walks up to him with caution. “I’m going to be honest with you, Ameil… We haven’t had good luck out here since everything started” John explains, “but we’ve sacrificed every lesson we’ve learned over that time to let you go back home in exchange for one, miniscule thing in return.”
With an anxious breath, John puts his hand on the man’s shoulders and tells him to make sure John isn’t left to regret this decision. Looking back at Meghan, John explains to the man that she’s been bit and she doesn’t have too long. “I want you to make sure she’s as comfortable looking after you until your people get here as possible” John explains, “she means a lot to us, and if your people threaten us, we’re gonna take that sadness and turn it into rage, understand?”
With a nod, Ameil promises John that his people are just as he propped them up to be, a worried John explaining that his greatest hope is that Ameil is telling the truth. Looking back to Meghan, John nods, the woman smiling back putting comfort in the man’s face, allowing him to depart the docks with a slight amount of ease. “Your people won’t regret this” Ameil assures Meghan, the exhausted woman finally showing the first signs of the illness as she responds with shared hopes.
= 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 =
Called for by the knock at his door, Emilio leaves his kitchen and approaches his main entry, pulling the door open to find Cameron awaiting his response. “Hey, Emilio” Cameron greets, a curious Emilio left to respond in kind, inquiring about Cameron’s reason for visiting. “I wanted to talk to you about something” Cameron admits, and intrigued Emilio stepping aside to allow Cameron an uninterrupted entry.
“There’s too many things this could be about, so I’m not even gonna bother guessing” Emilio admits, opting to suggest moving past the gestures and getting straight to the point. Struggling to find the right words, Cameron asks in the simplest way whether or not Emilio is planning on departing with the group. “I don’t think I have much of an option, Cameron” Emilio admits, “after all, I’ve got my little place in the woods, so I’ve sacrificed the comfort of a wall in favor of privacy.”
“Well it’s not like you would have done much back then anyway” Cameron replies, “I mean, I don’t think anyone blamed you for wanting to go out into the woods and be on your own.” Hands tucked into his pockets, Emilio admits that the death of his husband came with some rather hefty baggage to live with. “The fact that I’m still here is a surprise to me even still” Emilio replies, “my husband’s goodbye came in the form of suicide, so that’s enough reason to check out itself.”
Feeling the conversation to have begun getting off track, Emilio inquires Cameron’s reasoning for the visit a second time, the man hanging his head in contemplation. “I don’t exactly know how to say this without it feeling harsh” Cameron replies, Emilio insisting he not try to mince words. “When Bill died, I was depressed” Emilio replies, “I didn’t call it ‘being sad and needing space’, I called it ‘depression’.”
With a clear mind, Emilio tells Cameron that it’s better to be harsh and upfront than soft and docile. “I’m a big boy, Cameron… If you have something to say, just say it the way you thought of it” Emilio responds, watching as Cameron nods in an understanding. “I don’t wanna go to the island” Cameron replies, the confession not surprising Emilio in the slightest, “I’ve put in too much work on this gate to let it go to waste by running when shit got tough.”
Clearing his throat, Emilio walks over to his kitchen and pours two cups of coffee, Emilio informing Cameron that he’s figured what his stance would be for a few months at this point. “None of us were more devoted to keeping that place standing more than you” Emilio replies, “but this isn’t running because shit got tough, this is escaping because shit became deadly… Some might even say ‘toxic’.”
“I understand that, but we didn’t this work in for nothing” Cameron replies, “We’ve rarely run into people in the past year we’ve been here, and this might be the final horde we ever have to face.” Head hung, Emilio hands the beverage to Cameron and takes a seat at his dining room table, jokingly following Cameron’s admission by wondering which horde they’ll find on a secluded island.”
“I’m not saying we’re gonna run into a horde again out there, either” Cameron replies, “but there are more people that will come after that island than there are that will want our motel.” Eyes widened, Emilio’s mouth opens whilst he nods, finding the deeper reason behind Cameron’s lack of enticement at departure. “You don’t wanna have to worry about running into more people” Emilio replies, a smile on his face being wiped away when Cameron refuses.
“It’s not running into new people that I’m worried about” Cameron responds, “it’s the bad ones that will kill us for what we have that I have an issue with.” Thinking over Cameron’s reasoning for a moment, Emilio starts taking in all of these viewpoints before offering Cameron a seat, wanting this conversation to continue.
“Hey, how’re you doing?” Angela asks, peering her head into Jess’ room to find the woman folding each article of clothing her family owns. “I’m just going with the flow, Angie” Jess replies, continuing to tuck away each folded shirt, each coupled sock, and each tidied pair of pants into the bulky suitcase. Walking inside, Angela shuts the door behind her and watches Jess brush the sound away, continuing to put her mind at ease by following through on the simple task in front of her.
“I’m sorry about Meghan” Angela replies, “I know a lot of people have already said it, but I wanted to let you know personally that I feel awful for you.” Wiping her nose with her arm, Jess thanks Angela for her compassion before admitting that she’d rather be alone. Stepping forward, Angela jumps back when Jess snaps, turning around and telling Angela that her prior response was a hidden request to be left alone.
“You shouldn’t be alone” Angela replies, Jess laughing off the response, shaking her head and telling Angela that people tend to want the opposite of that when faced with such loss. “Look at Emilio for fucks sake!” Jess replies, “his husband dies, he goes into Sheol wanting to get himself killed!” Asking Jess her point, Angela watches the woman turn around and point out the events that followed.
“We all built a wall around a motel at the end of what used to be a cul-de-sac, and he fucks off into some rundown, piece-of-shit hut in the middle of the woods so we wouldn’t bother him!” Jess exclaims. “He’s still fucking living out there even now!” Jess shouts, “there’s some pain that doesn’t fucking go away, Angela!”
Taking in a deep breath, Jess explains that, regardless of how much the post-apocalyptic aftermath has distanced them from one another, they’ll always be sisters by blood. “Emilio lost his husband, and he needed time alone” Jess explains, beginning to calm down, “I’m about to lose my sister, and I have to know that days before she’s even actually dead.”
Turning around, the woman returns to her current task, taking in one deep breath at a time as the tears continue running down her cheek. “Why do you have a problem with Emilio having never stopped living out there?” Angela asks, having begun to return to the door until the thought pops into her head. “Because it makes it seem like he never got over that loss” Jess replies, “like even a year after it happened, he’s still never fully gotten over it.”
Her heart aching for the woman, Angela notices where Jess’ fear truly comes from. “So you’re hurt that you’re losing your sister, but you’re scared that you’ll never overcome it?” Angela questions, the woman stopping in her tracks, the half-folded shirt in her hand remaining that way as Jess holds in the breakdown she truly wishes to let out. “Yes” Jess whispers, her teeth clenched and her eyes squeezing the tears out, the emotions becoming too much to hide.
Refusing to leave the woman to her vices, Angela approaches the woman and gently pulls the shirt out of her hands, dropping it to the folded pile below and pulling Jess into a hug. “He might not have stopped on his own, but he’s stronger now than he was before” Angela replies, reminding Jess that Emilio’s story didn’t end in a tragic fashion, “you still have a husband and a child… Meghan would rather you fight for them than mourn for her.”
Her head tucked onto Angela’s shoulder, Jess refuses to hold her tears back anymore, letting out the cries and sobs, her mechanisms of defense crumbling at their base. “There’s so much to fight for” Angela recalls, “and we fight until we make it for everyone that couldn’t see it through to the end.” Finally wrapping her arms around the woman, Jess allows the beating this world has given her to consume for the moment, taking the chance to mourn now in order to fight what comes next.
“They’re on their way” Ameil declares, Meghan remaining on her post, watching the faint lights of the boat grow closer in time. Soon, the small fleet of three boats floats into the docks, Ameil greeting his fellow survivors, who all look on in worry. “What happened?” the convoy’s leader questions, Ameil quickly assuring him that there’s nothing to be worried about. “There was a little misunderstanding of who I was at first, but that’s all settled” the man says, hugged by his friend.
“Who’s this?” the man asks, looking towards Meghan until Ameil tells him that she’s not of any danger. “Dawson, there’s something I’ve been instructed to inform you about the moment you reached shore” Ameil explains, Dawson looking towards him as if to suggest he hurry up. Explaining the deal, Ameil tells the man that the group left him to tell everything without restriction. “They wanted total honesty” Ameil explains, “and they’re not asking for much.”
“What do they want in return for all of this?” Dawson asks, John immediately answering his question, walking from in the distance with Katie and Salem beside him, approaching with guns at their hips. “Sorry for the interruption, I wanted you to see him first so you wouldn’t be paranoid before you stepped off the boat” John explains, “your boy isn;t lying. You can have everything she left behind, you can have him, we’re not going to go back on this.”
“What happened to the woman?” Dawson asks, John clenching his teeth as he admits that his group killed her. “They were passing the entrance to her place and she opened fire on them” John explains, “we returned fire just like you would have in the same situation.” Letting out a sigh, Dawson admits that he had these worries for a long time. “Trigger happy never works out” Dawson admits, “your move on letting Ameil deliver the message was a pretty good move.”
“I’m glad you appreciated it” John explains, “I hope you’ll appreciate the little that I ask of you in return for all that he just mentioned equally.” Shrugging, Dawson opens himself to barter, John finally reaching the pair, standing on the opposite side of Ameil. “We want a boat” John replies, “We don’t want a big boat, just enough for my group and our stuff, and as full of a tank of gas as you can manage.”
With a chuckle, Dawson asks what the catch to the deal is, John refusing any further dealings. “We’ll give you everything we mentioned in return for one boat and a full tank of gas” John replies, “straight up, no cards up the sleeve.” Caught by surprise at the simplicity, Dawson asks John if he realizes how short-changed he is in this scenario. “We’ve heard of a horde coming this way, which is why I assume you want the thing” Dawson explains, “but this is awfully lopsided.”
“Hopefully, if we ever come to you looking to trade anything, you’ll remember our generosity” John replies, “we’re not difficult people to work with, we’re just dangerous if you fuck us over.” With a smile, Dawson looks to Ameil, admitting that he didn’t expect any survivors from the mainland to be more than savages. “They did waterboard me at first, but they were pretty welcoming after that” Ameil explains, “I was just as surprised as you are.”
“Tell me we have a deal then” John replies, his arms uncrossing when Dawson offers his hand, responding in affirmation, a smile across John’s face as they finally meet their way forward.
Unlocking the cuffs on Ameil, John begins the final sunrise within the motel by granting Ameil his freedom, the man treated as one of their own as the final preparations unfold. “Look who decided to join us” Troy calls out, Emilio arriving through the gates with two bags of his belongings, the most excited he’s appeared for anything since the first days of the outbreak.
“I haven’t seen you smile in forever” John proclaims, a perky Emilio admitting that the combination of convincing Cameron to leave the motel behind and the ability to get on the move has put him in a fairly decent mood. Offsetting this joyous response, Meghan stubbornly refuses assistance, not needing to bring any of her belongings as she stumbles away from Jess and into the van.
“Why do we have to let her stay this way?” Jess asks, the sight of her sister in pain making her wish Meghan were open to getting this over with. “She wants to try to see this through to the end” John replies, looking back at the woman, who appears as though the illness has only worsened faster, “we’re gonna do what we can to make that happen.”
Looking back to Emilio, John watches the final van door close, the entire group loaded into their vehicles and ready to begin the final stretch. Leaving the motel behind, the group watches the building fade further and further away from view, that story finally having come to an end in favor of the ultimate prize. Reaching the docks, John and Salem park their respective vehicles by the docks to a warm welcome from Dawson and the Sun City guards.
“You all look like you’re moving into your new house” Dawson exclaims, watching the eagerness to hop aboard consume the group. “She getting any better?” Dawson asks, John looking back to Meghan, who struggles up the short incline into the vehicle. “She’s bit” John replies, “she’s not getting any better… We’re just trying to make her final moments as comfortable as we can.”
His head sunk, Dawson pays his respects to John and his group, apologizing for their final moments with her occurring such a way. “Where are you guys heading out?” Dawson proceeds, the look of John’s face expressing a concern for giving away anything more than he’d like. “We’re not sure yet” John replies, “we have a few places in mind, but nothing much further than that.”
With a nod, Dawson watches the man return to his boat, telling him to be careful. “I plan on it” John replies, “we’ve gotten too far to fall short.” With a nod, John boards the vessel, finally powering up the engine and driving off.
“You need to be careful out there, John!” Dawson calls back, the man still shocked at the reality-altering sight, much of the group left to the same surprise as well. “We’ll figure it out” John replies, Dawson giving up on the efforts, knowing it to be a matter of seconds before the group races off into the distance. Looking to Meghan, Dawson notices her head drooped over the side of the boat, hand lingering over the edge as her eyes stare at him.
Taking these final seconds of their presence for what they’re worth, Dawson looks to Meghan and tells her to not stop fighting. With that statement, John drives the boat forward, kicking up water as Dawson and Ameil are left to worriedly look on at the departing vessel from the shore.
“I really hope they pay attention to the warning signs” Dawson admits, Ameil afraid they hadn’t discovered enough about this group as they should have otherwise done.
The morning having departed in favor of noon, John continues to drive onwards, passing the second massive island with the lighthouse in their sights. “We really need to start talking about what we’re gonna do when we get there” Cameron explains, “I mean what happens if it’s already occupied.”
“We take it” Jess replies, her statement cold and unwelcoming, the harsh response immediately picked up on by the group, who stare at Jess as she fixates her look towards the ground. “We’ve come too far to negotiate now” Jess continues, doubling down on her statement and making it known that it is either their island, or no one’s. Hitting a larger wave, the boat jolts the group out of their seats for a moment, each survivor left to return to their prior positions.
Looking down, Jess finds Meghan slumped over her lap, unmoving and unwilling to make an attempt. “Come on, Meg” Jess grunts, picking the woman up and returning her to her seat, eventually coming to be returned to her worry when she and the group watch Meghan’s head back over the edge of the boat, the woman unresponsive to any requests for her attention.
Her head shaking, Jess whimpers “no” over and over again as she, Emilio and Angela leap forward, immediately hurrying to Meghan’s side to look for signs of life. “We’re almost there, keep her with us!” John commands, Emilio placing his ear to her mouth to notice the lack of breathing, Angela taking notice of the lack of a pulse. “What’s going on back there, guys?” John calls out, Emilio and Angela looking towards each other before splitting their views.
With Angela turning towards Jess, Emilio stands up and walks over to John, his hand pressing against the man’s shoulder. “She’s gone” Emilio replies, his somber tone immediately leaving a spike of frustration to run down John’s spine. Looking towards the island just less than half a mile away, Jess turns back to Angela, who pulls her in for a hug again as John eases up on the drive.
Before long, the boat glides to a halt, floating of its own power over the waves as John hunches over, head in his hands as Emilio returns to his original seat, punching the side of the boat in anger before slouching down. The ship quiet, only the sound of waves crashing into each side of the boat left for the survivors to sit through. Moments turn into seconds, and seconds turn into minutes of sitting on the rocky seas, forcing themselves into the mourning period.
With a deep breath, Emilio deems it time to ensure another victim isn’t made out of the loss of their fallen friend, pulling his switchblade from his pocket and preparing to lean down. “Let me do it” Cameron replies, his hand holding Emilio back, keeping him from exiting his seat. “I can handle this” Emilio replies, Cameron telling the man that he’s more than aware of that. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should have to” Cameron replies, his hand held out.
Letting out a sigh, Emilio settles back down, the blade being placed into the palm of Cameron’s hand, leaving the job up to him. His hands placed against the seat, Cameron pushes himself up before a ring proceeds his body dropping to the floor in a heap. Jolted out of their time of mourning by the sound of rapid machinegun fire, the group drops away from sight upon watching the blood run from the bullet hole in Cameron’s head.
“What the fuck’s happening!?” Jess cries out, the group forced further into hiding at the shocking speed in which everything falls apart, bullets whirling through the air without any end in sight. “He’s dead!” Troy shouts, his face nearly level with the widened eyes of Cameron’s corpse. “We’re under attack!” John calls out, crawling back to starboard before forcing himself back to the ground once the bullets begin targeting him.
“Halt your fire!” a voice cries out from afar, its sound carried out by a fleet of mounted megaphones. The rapid shots now being directed towards the source of the plea, only a few small bursts of gunfire actually direct themselves towards John’s vessel, prompting Troy to hurry for the starboard. Upon Troy’s impulsive call, Salem ducks out of cover with her rifle drawn, bullets sent in Troy’s direction halted by a single shot delivered with precision from Salem’s gun.
“Nice shot!” Katie calls out, taking her moment to deliver the fatal blow, putting a halt to their current bullet-dodging attempts for the moment. “Get this thing to shore!” John calls out, Troy unable to get the motor started again, the boat having taken too much damage to continue operating. “The thing’s not going” Troy replies, turning back to the group, who stare at him in awe.
“What?” Troy asks, Salem continuing to fire at the savages in the suspect boat as the man looks down at his shirt. His hands shaking, Troy pulls the fabric away from his chest, the light gray color it once sports now shared with a bright, pooling blood-red. Muttering the man’s name, John watches Troy drop to his knees before collapsing at Cameron’s feet, adding to the blood running down the boat.
“We’re taking on water!” Salem shouts, putting down the final pirate across the seas as water rushes over the edge beside her and quickly fills the boat. The final blow delivered to the culprits in the last possible second, the group holds their breath, the boat quickly falling below the surface and suddenly placing the remaining survivors into a fight against the current.
With Jack and Lauren swimming beside Alicia and Franklin, Emilio pulls John over to Jess, his wife calling out for Amy. “I’ve got her!” Heather calls out, floating on her back with Amy held atop her. Unable to swim, Angela flails around the surface for the moment before Emilio saves her from disappearing beneath the waves. Salem and Katie having been the first to enter the warm waters, the pair float back to back, dishing out life rings to every survivors they come across.
Now all swimming together in a clump, the group watch the bodies of Meghan, Cameron and Troy float by, face down in the water until a surviving boat finally reaches them. “I really wish you hadn’t left before we figured this shit out” Dawson exclaims, holding his hand out to Amy first, taking children, women and men aboard in that order. The final survivor left in the waters, John looks out towards the floating bodies of his newly-lost friends, ignoring Dawson’s extended arm.
Tapping the man on the shoulder, Emilio ushers Dawson back to the starboard before reaching in and pulling John aboard. “I couldn’t save them” John mutters to himself, refusing to even acknowledge the man ripping him from the violent waters, his eyes just locked on the bodies of the fallen as he repeats, “I couldn’t save them.”
Refusing to leave the fallen without mercy, Salem readies her rifle once the boat begins driving, putting a bullet through the heads of the fallen, putting them to rest well before they should have been. “I give you mercy” Salem mutters beneath her breath, her rifle returning over her shoulder before she throws herself into a seat and shares the same look as the rest of the group, not one set of eyes leaving the three deceased bodies as the final stretch finally reveals it’s price.