Cloaked in darkness, a flurry of feet advance through the muddled ground, kicking up dirt with each move forward as the mechanisms within their firearms clank together. Quick to find cover, the back wall of a mobile home becomes sanctuary for the fast feet, John lifting his finger to the lips of his dirt-covered face. “We take who we have to” John explains, keeping his words brief and hushed, allowing the finger he points at different people, and in different directions to do the speaking.
Emilio, Katie and Angela diverting course in one direction, Alicia, Jack, Lauren and Franklin divert course in the opposite. “Little noise, little issue” John buzzes, left with Jessica and Salem in the place they stood prior, the house behind them hosting a few voices heard off and on at brief intervals. With a nod, John watches Jess hurry off behind the cover of the back patio whilst John aspires the back stairs.
Protruding his middle finger out with the ball of his knuckle, John taps on the backdoor once every few seconds, not enough to create a disruption, but enough to ensure the noise is noticed. From within the home, a grunt bellows out of the mouth of a disgruntled pirate, leaving his seat and warm meal behind in favor of getting to the source of the irksome tapping.
Taking a step back, John places himself against the wall just as the door swings open, an angry man storming out to find nothing of interest. Within the same breath, John takes the man by the neck, covering his mouth as Jess emerges from cover, her gun raised at the man to ensure he thinks twice about pulling one over on them. “Are there other people in that house?” John asks, the man quietly shaking his head in refusal.
His eyes leaving his victim, John glances towards the woods, Salem sat in a tree with her rifle aimed at the home. Through the sights, Salem can make out very little, but the little that she can spot is a pair of feet trailing to the opposite side of the house. Her weapon lowered, Salem extends her finger and moves it in a circular pattern, the signal forcing a sigh to leave John’s mouth.
“All you had to do was tell the truth” John whispers, taking a knife from his pocket, pulling it from its holster and running the blade over the man’s throat, allowing his blood to spew into the mud. Letting the heavy corpse fall from his arms, John extends his finger and begins tapping on the ciding again, the next person hidden within noticing, the pattern continuing.
Four bodies stacked upon each other in the backyard of the trailer, John moves inside, Jess and himself scouting out the home before taking a seat beside the window. In the trailer one side diverted towards, a light flickers on and off twice, John reciting the gesture himself as Jess does the same on the other side of the home.
Continuing the practice, John clears the small neighborhood, the overgrowth left unattended in every direction gifting cover to the group of homes from anything on the other side. “Take what we need, not what we want” John explains, his group not intending to stay long. Doing as instructed, the majority of the groups disperses, Emilio staying behind to hold a conversation with John.
“What are the chances anyone comes around to this place within the next twelve hours?” the man asks, John admitting that he has less of a clue than Emilio himself. “I don’t know how diligent these guys are, but since they didn’t find the last camp… I’m not holding my hopes out for them” John replies, an eager Emilio nodding along. “We’ve been on our feet all day, and this place has electricity at the very least” Emilio explains, “let’s at least get some sleep her tonight.”
Hesitant at first, John slowly sways into favor as Emilio cites the promising sniper posts within the trees and the ability to put people on watch. “The foursome have already volunteered if it comes to it” Emilio adds, citing Alicia’s core as the first overseers. “We’ll split groups of four over every three hours” Emilio explains, “leave no stone unturned, gather all the dead together and use them for cover.”
Thinking about it for the moment, John approves the move, making it known that they waste no longer than nine hours total. “We leave at sunrise, set stage three in motion, and work from there” John explains, he and Emilio separating upon the agreement. Spotting his wife in one of the windows, John approaches the trailer with a sigh of relief, entering through the front door and collapsing onto the couch.
“We’re close” John exclaims, a smiling Jess telling the man that they’ve still yet to lose anyone. “Let’s not count our chickens yet” John replies, Jess pulling pillows out of pillow cases, using the covers as a makeshift bag. Calming down from the high of stealth attacking, Jess drops next to John, the man caressing his wife in his arms while her calm tone of voice brings up the eager truth they’ve yet to discuss.
“What happens when they figure it out?” Jess asks, her soothing tonality making the worst case scenario sound less fatal than it actually would be. “We may not be clearing much, but we’re moving quickly” John replies, “that’s what matters.” Her eyes thinning, Jess compares their fight to that of beating the clock, prompting John to take a moment before confirming.
“We just have to hope-” John explains, cut off by the sound of shouting in the rundown streets. “Who the fuck are you!?” the voice shouts, Emilio’s eyes widening as his hands lift into the air, signalling his surrender as a swarm of armed pirates enter the grounds. “What’s going on out there?” Jess asks, she and John dashing to their feet and hurrying for the door before escaping with the shadows.
“We’re not here on bad terms!” Emilio replies, Katie and Salem both taking their positions from the windows, readying themselves behind the stocks of their rifles. “We were drifting on the water and found this island!” Emilio shouts, “we’ve been walking for days without knowing where we are!”
Doing his best to keep up the charade, Emilio gets to his knees, three pirates storming him with guns and restraints, continuing to keep the leader focused on him. “Where are your group!?” the leader asks, Emilio explaining that they’ve dispersed. “We’re getting desperate, so I volunteered to stay back and wait for help!” Emilio replies, “they’ve been gone for a while now.”
“What is he doing!?” Alicia whispers, hidden behind one of the countless mobile homes beside Lauren and Jack, who begin to realize the game Emilio is intent on playing. “He’s trying to convince them he’s alone” Jack mutters, Alicia looking towards the man before noticing the signal. “He’s buying us time to escape” Lauren explains, tapping the pair on the arm before hurrying into the darkness.
“What about Frank!?” Alicia wonders, Jack and Lauren informing her that he’s on the other side of the camp with Emilio and Katie. “He’ll be fine, we’ll catch up with him later!” Jack exclaims, the woman hesitant to run off into the night before being left with little choice. Giving in, Alicia convinces herself that the only way to meet up with Franklin again is to survive long enough to do so, frustratedly escaping into the night alongside her only remaining lifelines.
Towering over Emilio as his hands are tied behind his back, knees buried in the dirt, the lead pirate holds an automatic rifle by his hip, long brown beard sun dyed by the Long Island summer. Standing well over six and a half feet tall, the man glances towards the pile of bodies in the center, asking Emilio to sweet talk his explanation for them.
“I don’t know what happened before we got here, but they were all like this… A few in every yard” Emilio replies, the pirate beginning to grin. “I pulled them all together in the event that anyone coming through would want to bury them” Emilio replies, the pirate not looking satisfied. “I’m aware of how bad it looks, but we have to be logical here” Emilio explains, “how the hell can my group of seven clear out an entire camp like this one?”
Grin finally beginning to fade, the pirate begins to cautiously buy the excuse Emilio is selling, his analytical mind making room for the possibility of coincidence. “You have questions, I have answers” Emilio explains, making the deal cut and dry for the man towering before him, “I am more than willing to answer every question you have for me.”
Bobbing his head along, the pirate glances throughout the camp, looking at each trailer to find a surprising lack of life. “Survey the area, take him to the cleanest house and have him wait for me” the pirate exclaims, his orders made clear to the guards as he inches closer to Emilio. The restrained man now forced to his feet, the pirate approaches Emilio and places his finger on each side of his chin.
“I’m playing along for now, big guy” the armed man explains, making his message clear to Emilio, “if I smell a hint of unexplained bullshit, I’ll shoot to kill.” Clearing his throat, Emilio informs the man that he’ll have no reason to do so, those words returning the grin to the pirates face. “If he’s not restrained well when I get there, he’s not the only one that’ll risk eating a bullet tonight!” the pirate shouts, demanding a thorough investigation from his men and beginning his long night.
= 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 =
“Just give me the word” Franklin whispers, his sleeveless shirt allowing his shoulder blades to press against the cold wall while his gun aims upwards. “I’ll give it when I get it myself” Katie replies, taking her scope away from Emilio and following the guards with it, each few steps bringing the sight away from her current target and onto another one. “There’s too many for us to take” Katie whispers, “there might be fifty of them, maybe a little less, maybe a little more.”
With a slow breath, Katie locks onto another target before spotting a reflection in a window just beside it. Hidden within the darkness, Salem leans into the scope, her eyes kept on Katie as her fingers run across her throat. Letting out a sigh of disappointment, Katie takes her eye away from the scope, looking at Emilio outside the window while Franklin asks what’s wrong.
“Salem’s waving it off” Katie replies, Franklin’s eyes immediately squeezing shut as a puff of air escapes his lungs, the anger boiling to a point where all he wants to do is punch something. “We have to abort” Katie mutters, looking back into the scope and reciting Salem’s signal before throwing her own thumb backwards. Responding with a thumbs up, Salem disappears into the dark home, the unspoken signage giving Katie the clearance she needs to call Franklin back.
“We have to go” Katie replies, Franklin left to ask about how to approach Emilio, an aggravated Katie only able to respond in disappointment. “I know what you’re feeling” Katie replies, concluding with, “I’m just as angry as you are” as she throws her rifle over her shoulder. Head dropping, Franklin immediately diverts course as instructed, following Katie through the backdoor and hurrying off into the woods, telling the man to remain light on his feet.
“Where do we go from here?” Franklin calls out, his voice kept at a minimum, his feet crunching down on leaves and sticks louder than his question is voiced. Reaching out, Franklin takes Katie by the arm, telling her that they need to find a new route quickly. “This direction is just going to take us further inland!” Franklin explains, Katie left to glance back and forth, a look of genuine helplessness on her face.
“We have to make do” Katie replies, Franklin taking in a deep breath before releasing his hold on Katie’s arm, pulling his gun back out and following the woman further in. Continuing to walk for a near hour, Katie and Franklin evade detection long enough to reach the coast. With relief, the pair meet the cold rip waves awaiting them, daring them to continue pushing forward through the impossible feat, a thousand different ways to drown with one wrong move looming.
The cold metal of his gun pressing against her sweaty skin, Franklin nods towards the treeline at Katie, gathering whatever large sticks and rocks he can into one pile against a tree. “We wait for the morning and pick our spots” Franklin explains, finally having gathered enough to provide cover, adjusting his course to clearing out as much sand as possible.
Having through well enough to bring a blanket, Franklin rests the soft cloth against the crowd and lays beside Katie upon it, both resting upon their sides facing the water. “Shovel the sand over the blanket” Franklin directs, folding the pair with the remaining cloth in a taco-like fashion before hiding beneath the layer of beach. “Now we stay quiet and bide our time” Franklin explains, knowing they wont be the only wanted figures upon the island come sunrise.
“Anyone in here?” John whispers, Angela mentioning the names of Salem and herself. “We’ve gotta go, get what you can!” John calls out, Salem holding the trio off for a moment as she slides the tips of her fingers across her throat. “What’s Emilio doing?” Angela asks, noticing the man talking too much for what he’s comfortable with. Sneaking his way into the home, John glances through the window, realizing the hurried pace of the man’s speech and hand movements.
“He’s buying us time to escape” John exclaims, Angela’s eyes dropping as the sight of someone taking one for the team appears like a war flashback. “Let’s get out of here” Salem directs, throwing her rifle over her shoulder once the job is finished. “Where are we gonna go?” Angela asks, John left glancing back to his wife, nothing more than the thick overgrowth awaiting them.
With a deep breath, John looks back towards the window, watching Emilio plead with the giant before him. “We go back the way we came” John replies, his eyes never leaving Emilio, Salem calling attention to the elephant in the room before doing anything else. “When do we come back for Emilio?” Salem asks, John continuing to look at the man sacrificing himself for the greater good.
“I don’t know yet” John replies, waving both Salem and Angela out of the home, not breaking his stare until the weight of their bodies are no longer felt in the floor he stands upon. Hurrying through the woods, John gathers the foursome at the beach, ripping his boat from beneath the trees and hauling it into the water. “What are the chances Emilio makes it through the night?” Angela asks, John left to let his boots sink into the sand, catching his breath.
Each breath puffing his chest out before each exhale deflates it like a balloon, John reminds Angela of where Emilio comes from. “The dude was a politician, and a damn good one at that” John explains, “if there’s anyone that can depend on their words for survival, it’d be him.”
Helping Salem and his wife aboard, John turns to Angela with his hand held out, telling the woman to board the boat. “They’re not going to help him” Angela replies, an exhausted John asking her what she’s going on about. “Those guys at Sun City!” Angela replies, “they told you this was a death mission… Why would they help you after they were proven right?”
His head shaking, John tells Angela that they made it far inland, far enough to give Dawson and Ameil hope, a suggestion which Angela refuses to take with anything more than a grain of salt. Head shaking, Angela refuses to board, immediately forcing John to throw his head back. “Angela, I’m not leaving you on this island” John replies, Angela’s eyebrows dropping at the response.
“You won’t leave me on this island, but you’ll leave Emilio on it, right?” Angela asks, John’s head shaking, assuring her that this is all different. “You’re not surrounded by a few dozen pirates right now, are you?” John replies, “no, you’re not. You’re stubbornly refusing to get on a boat thinking you’ll survive by the faith off whatever the fuck you believe in doing what’s right.”
Head shaking, Angela steps backwards, John throwing his hand out once more, his opposite hand clutching at the rope the boat is held back by. “Angela, get on the fucking boat!” John calls, the woman continuing to back away, eventually turning around and walking back towards the forest. “Ang-!” John shouts, cutting himself short and hitting the end of the boat, screaming “god damnit!” as he turns away.
“She’s not gonna survive on this place alone” Salem exclaims, looking to John, defeated in such a way that he has no option other than to leave her as she wished to be left. Her teeth clenched, Salem looks away, staring at the sea before throwing herself into the water. “Where are you going!?” John calls out, watching Salem’s feet thrash through the waters, the woman returning to land.
“If she dies out here, it won’t be alone!” Salem calls out, the night only getting worse as both John and Jess watch the two women walk off into the night. “What do we do?” Jess asks, looking at John, who hangs his head in complete silence. Calling out her husband’s name once more, Jess watches the soft and nearly hidden shake of his head refusing to believe any of this can be happening.
“We all literally fell apart in the blink of an eye” John mutters to himself, his head continuing to shake as his eyes stare towards the waves ripping around his legs and reaching the shore. Taking in a deep breath, John holds the air in his lungs and finally turns back towards the woman, watching them walk off together, returning to the dense forest.
Catching up to Angela, Salem tells her that she;ll go wherever Angela does, the woman having taken a stand for those she now calls family smiling with pride. “Wait!” John calls out from the sea, his elbow placed against the end of the boat only Jess remains an inhabitant of. Letting the deep breath out, John glances back towards his wife, letting go of the string that held the boat to shore and directing her to return to Sun City.
“Tell Dawson and Ameil what happened, do what you can to convince them to come out for us” John explains, Jess shaking her head as the boat drifts out with the waves. “I’m not just leaving you here!” Jess replies, John continuing to refuse to anything else. “I can’t run from this, Jess… You know that” John replies, “our people are trapped on an island I got them to, so I cannot just drive off to safety leaving them stuck with the mess I made.”
“John, you will die out here” Jess replies, having crawled over to John’s end of the boat, the space between them slowly drifting farther apart. “If I don’t make it back, or we never meet again, just tell-” John stops, a pain-filled smile on his face accompanying a lone tear down his cheek. “Just tell Amy that her dad fought for her” John continues, “and that a day never went by without me loving her and her mother with everything I had to give.”
Looking for the words, all Jess can mutter is her husband’s name in a whimper, watching the man turn around and return to shore, leaving the woman in the boat, the single soul responsible for carrying on their word. Her head hung, Jess pushes herself to her feet, slowly walking to the wheel before turning back, watching John finally catch up to the women.
Stopping to look back, John watches Jess act in the same fashion, the pair sharing a departing smile, as filled with hurt as it is, with each other before moving onward. The key turned in the ignition, Jess pushes the boat forward, the motor revving in the silent night, ripping through the waves as John turns back, continuing the fight the way he always has.
Pushing forward through nature, Alicia, Lauren and Jack soon discover how different each tree in the forest appears. Nothing else to look at, the trio begin to notice the abnormalities they had always mistreated, every twist each root takes, every change in direction their branches present, every piece of its identity changed from one tree to the next.
Her hands stretched out, Alicia stops Jack and Lauren mid-step, almost missing the sight they quickly grow to appreciate. “There” Alicia says, keeping her orders simple and brief, turning towards a decrepit, yet intact home. “Someone live here?” Jack asks himself, Alicia and Lauren climbing the stairs towards the modest, slightly elevated back patio.
The ball of her knuckles tapping on the glass, Alicia glances inside whilst Lauren conceals her firearm behind her thigh. “I don’t see any movement inside” Alicia calls out, her hand pressing against the handle of the door and pushing it around. Feeling give, Alicia treats the refusal to open as a simple degrading of the track the door is placed upon.
Her hands gripping at whatever she can gain leverage on, Alicia plants her feet against the splintering wood and pushes forward, gradually forcing the door open further and further. “We’ve got a cellar over here” Jack points out, pulling himself over the patio bannister and joining the women inside the home.
“It’s in decent condition” Lauren proclaims, “if this place has been abandoned, it’s only been for a few months at most.” Marvelling at everything left behind, Alicia takes interest in all that had once been owned, now left unclaimed and left to rot. “It may not be anything fancy, but it’s better than anything we’ve been sleeping on for the last few nights” Jack exclaims, taking a sofa cushion and smacking the dust off of it.
“Look around, we might find something useful” Alicia orders, continuing to sift through everything in the home, a feeling deep down telling her to look everything over. Her teeth clenched, Alicia steps back, her feet taking her away from a regular bookshelf and placing her in the center of the main room. Slowly doing a turn, Alicia takes in the sight of everything, the worry deep within her only building the more she stares.
“Look for anything out of the ordinary” Alicia exclaims, “I don’t want us thinking anything that could later be proven wrong.” Getting the worst feeling from being centered in the room, Alicia turns towards the main hallway, the windows on each side of her giving her a glimpse into the outside, the view of nothing more than what she had been experiencing all night on full display.
Her face only partially illuminated by the moonlight overhead peering through the windows, Alicia ascends a staircase near the back, the second level leaving her nearly as uneasy as the first. Left hand cautiously extended into the darkness, Alicia keeps her right placed upon her belt, the handle to a blade tucked into the hole in her pants within a fingertips’ reach at all times.
Her foot pushing the door to a plain bathroom open, Alicia peers through the crack to reveal nothing more than a raggedy old curtain greeting her inside. Steadily marching on, Alicia moves to the master bedroom, her foot attempting to push the door in, but failing to succeed when the door refuses to budge. Tightening her grip on the weapon, Alicia takes a few steps back before charging forward, her foot caving the wood inward and forcing the door open.
Practically falling apart, the chunk of wood slowly glides inwards, the creek its hinges make unable to sound anymore depressing. Satisfied with the sights inside, Alicia moves on, her toe pressing against the next door ever so slightly, feeling the give just behind it for reassurance. With held breath, Alicia pushes the door in, watching the egress drift into the room with a faint hum.
Intent on moving forward, Alicia quickly turns back to her latest opening, her eyes locking onto something reflecting the moonlight in the corner of the room. Seemingly left as an office of sorts, the room sports bare walls, broken shelves and a tattered desk-chair combination. Void of any old computers, paper documents or anything else of interest, the desk sits barron, nothing more than a picture of a mother and her daughter in a frame left atop the surface.
“We’re not here to hurt anyone” Lauren explains, her voice calm and her hands raised beside her head, Jack stood beside her in a similar fashion. “We were passing through the woods, found this place just as it is and came to catch our breath” Lauren explains, her boyfriend and herself held at gunpoint by a woman with frayed, gray hair armed with a double-pump shotgun.
“You lie” the woman replies, her eyes, one a regular brown color while the other appears foggy and fake, joining with the remainder of her attention in its fixation on those before her. “You’ve come for me for what I’ve done” the woman proclaims, speaking in the tongue of a woman having lost her mind. “We haven’t come for anybody, ma’am” Lauren replies, attempting to calm the woman down from her anxiety-driven high long enough to approach her without worry.
“You’ve come for me for what I’ve done to my daughter, I know you have!” the woman cries out, her declaration beginning to sound more like the rambling of a woman amidst a trail of fear. “You want to punish me for the sins that I have committed!” the woman continues,, Lauren assuring the woman that the claims she makes are anything but the truth. “You don’t get to punish me” the woman explains, lifting the barrel of the shotgun to her chin.
“Only my maker gets that honor” the woman exclaims, pulling the trigger and bursting her skull into fragments with a single round. Ducking for cover, Jack holds lauren behind him as the blood from the woman’s splattered brains dash the ceiling and drop like rain. Behind the collapses body of the former homeowner, Alicia cautiously removes herself from her brace, dagger in hand and ready to be used.
Silent, Jack and Lauren stand up once more, Alicia doing the same as they stand on each side of the fresh corpse. “We’re going back to taking no chances” Alicia exclaims, her eyes lifting from the body and onto her fellow survivors, Jack and Lauren both nodding along with such a suggestion. Remaining quiet, Jack is the first to depart, exiting the home and looking for a shovel as Alicia and Lauren both take the body by each end and drag it through the back.