Into the Mist by PC Cast
Mercury Rhodes and Stella Carver are walking through the snowy sunlight at Timberline Resort in beautiful Oregon. Their National Certified Teachers' Conference just ended and they're meeting up with the rest of their group from Oklahoma to head to the airport and back home. As they dish about Stella's night with the romance-novel-stud bartender, their principal, Richard Hale, comes by and rushes them to the SUV. Apparently everyone else is waiting on them and he likes to make them feel bad about that. They're greeted at the SUV by the other teachers: Jenny, Karen, Amelia and Coach Davis. As they're getting settled and ready to drive away, another teacher friend of theirs, Imani, spots them and stops to say goodbye. Richard gets fed up and they pull away from the hotel only to have to stop just a few miles down the road. Amelia has to pee.
Of course Mr. Hale is displeased at having to stop so soon after leaving, but Amelia is seven months pregnant and her little bundle of joy is jumping on her bladder, or at least it feels like he is, so they pull over at a scenic overlook so she can relieve herself. As she does, everyone else takes in the view. Mount Hood is gorgeous and green and the perfect background for a selfie. The group gathers to take a picture, but then they notice a contrail in the sky. And another. And another. The ground starts to shake as the bombs hit their targets, nearby big cities like Portland and Salem and several others, and then a huge wall of emerald green mist rushes over them and they pass out.
The green mist makes the ladies feel like they're burning on the inside, but then the feeling passes. Well, it does for Mercury and Stella anyway. Amelia screams in agony that something is broken inside her as her son is born too early and immediately turns to a puddle of viscera. Unfortunately, Amelia doesn't survive either. Mercury, Stella and Jenny then search frantically for Mr. Hale, Coach Davis and Karen. They find a puddle that used to be Coach Davis and then spot Karen praying over to the side. She finds Mr. Hale who also puddles. What is going on?
The teachers decide that the bombs that fell and put out the green mist are some sort of biological weapon and that most large cities all over the United States have probably also been hit. Stella, Mercury, Jenny and Karen spot an old truck nearby whose passengers were also enjoying the overlook and have also puddled. They grab their bags from the SUV they were in that is now flipped over and jump in the truck. Luckily it is still in working order, so they drive off back to Timberline.
On the way, they both fortunately and unfortunately encounter another group of survivors. This group has split in two, the first are mostly injured, and Stella, Mercury, Jenny and Karen stop to assist them, helping load them into the bed of the truck. Two of the group, a teen girl, Gemma, and her mom, Sadie, aren't really hurt and are gracious for the assistance. Truck full, the group drives up to the second half of survivors who are, well, assholes. The leader of this group, Alvin Rutland, tries to take the truck and/or throw away Stella, Mercury, Jenny and Karen's belongings so they can ride, too. Stella and Mercury get a bad feeling and have to end up threatening to shoot Alvin with a gun they found in the glovebox of the old truck. He yells as they drive away that he'll never forget this. Ugh.
The group arrives safely back at Timberline and hides their truck from future Alvins. The resort is partially intact and there are a lot of puddled bodies around, but luckily there are many survivors, too, including Imani. The group gets settled safely inside and meets Doctor Hilary, Ken, a mechanic, Bob, a handyman, and Tyler, a Bellboy. They all worked at the lodge and are now doing their best to maintain it. There aren't many survivors, but there are about 30 people at the resort. Gemma immediately begins helping the doctor. Even though she's a teenager, she wants to be a surgeon when she grows up and had been volunteering at hospitals before the world ended. She's an excellent assistant to Doc Hilary.
Stella and Mercury tell Imani the truth of what happened while they were out on the road, about all the bombs and the green fog, how men seem to be dying way more than women and how probably every city has been destroyed. Imani doesn't handle this well because she has two small children and a husband she loves very much in her hometown of San Diego. While it's not the same, Stella and Mercury declare that they're Imani's family now. They decide to help Doctor Hilary and Gemma by gathering supplies with Karen and Jenny. Together they go to the shops inside the lodge and get pain relievers, candles, clothing and other useful things to help the wounded. Unfortunately, Handyman Bob suddenly starts coughing blood. Gemma runs to his side, which helps him feel better, but he soon succumbs to the aftereffects of the fog. Ken and Tyler take his body away.
Stella, Mercury and Imani go to check out the kitchen after this because good food will help everyone feel better. Before Bob died, he let the group know that there are generators in working order, so they will have a bit of power to cook up some delicious food. They find a well-stocked pantry, full freezers and a ton of wine. Stella starts making sandwiches and preparing stew ingredients while Imani plans to make biscuits and Mercury cuts potatoes to make fries. They talk about Imani's kids and whether Stella or Mercury ever wanted children and yeah, Mercury would have, but it never worked out, but that conversation comes to a close when Mercury slices her finger.
Blood gets all over the potatoes and they fret about getting Gemma or the Doc to sew up her cut, but the wound isn't as bad as everyone thought. In fact, it seems to have already started healing. That's odd. And what's even more odd is that the potatoes Mercury was just cutting up are now sprouting with new growth. Whoa. Karen and Jenny join them, and then Mercury remembers something else weird like that that happened when the bombs first fell and the earthquakes happened. She and Stella were injured (and are healed now, by the way) and Mercury swears she recalls seeing the neatly manicured rest area with clumps of high grass growing where they stood that hadn't been there when they stopped to pee. They heal quickly and their blood makes plants grow.
They finish up cooking dinner, grab some wine and share a room that night. After apocalypse chatting, each woman tests her blood on a potato. Mercury, Stella and Imani can all grow things, but Karen and Jenny cannot. Soon Gemma stops by to ask if she can stay with them. Her mom is very upset about her father and Gemma doesn't seem to matter to her at all. She tests her blood too and, yep, fresh growth. The ladies discuss what happened to them when the green mist hit. The ones who can grow things all felt burning and tingling on the inside and passed out when they were engulfed in the fog. Karen and Jenny ducked and covered and didn't breathe in much fog at all and don't remember passing out. They decide they're going to tell Doc Hilary about their magic blood, but they're going to wait until morning. Now, they're going to drink more wine, get giggly and pass out.
Mercury wakes to the sound of arguing and finds Imani and Gemma's mom Sadie out in the hallway. Sadie has decided to abandon her daughter and leave with Ken to try to find her husband. Imani tries to tell her that all the major cities nearby have been destroyed and the roads are terrible and, oh yeah, it's a fucking apocalypse outside so they're probably not going to make it or find her husband, but she doesn't care and tells Imani that she can take care of Gemma. Oh fuck off with that, but whatever. Imani is a good mother and will of course care for the teenager, and so will Mercury, Stella, Jenny and Karen. Sadie leaves and then Mercury and Imani give Gemma the note. She's not phased by it at all and accepts the ladies' offer to stay with them. Then they all go eat a delicious breakfast prepared by Stella.
The group decides they need to tell Hilary about their blood, so they grab a carrot and tell her. She's elated when her blood makes the carrot grow. The Bellboy comes by then to let them know a trucker has just pulled up, so they go to meet him. He's a jolly man named Sim who is on his way back home to his husband. He tells everyone that he just passed through a town called Madras that is welcoming anyone to stay with them, but he also says there's a blizzard on the way and that his trucker friends all around the country have reported that all state capitals and major cities have been destroyed. When Stella hears of the blizzard, her intuition tells her their small group needs to leave before the snow starts but that Hilary and the others will be fine for a while at Timberline. Sim is given some supplies and heads back out to his truck but gets swallowed up by green mist and dies.
When Stella tells Mercury that her intuition tells her they're going to be leaving Timberline soon, Mercury wonders if Stella's intuition has strengthened because of the fog. Stella agrees that it is very much intensified and the fog could be responsible. They tell Doc Hilary that they're leaving and then they tell everyone else about the blood potatoes and then many others test their blood too. Not many women are able to make plants grow, but several are. Stella and Mercury tell Doc that they're going to leave soon, so they split up supplies, including some weed that they found growing somewhere in the hotel and a bunch of food, wine and other necessities, and prepare to leave. Jenny decides she's going to stay and Gemma decides she's going with, so she, Stella, Mercury, Imani and Karen load up the truck and head out.
After driving for a bit, the snow starts to really fall so they stop for a pee break, to put chains on the truck tires and to siphon gas from an abandoned vehicle. Just as they start to head out again, they are approached by a man with a rifle. He points his gun at them, insists that they come with him back to the camp he and some of his fellows are setting up because womenfolk shouldn't be alone right now and then he refers to Imani as "colored," so we all hate him immediately. Luckily Gemma sneaks up and bashes his knee out with a tire iron while Mercury snatches his rifle, and they're all able to get safely back in the truck and speed away.
The next time they stop, everyone still a little freaked out, they use a CB radio they took from Timberline to call back and let them know to avoid the area where they just bashed the guy if anyone decides to leave. As they start to drive away again, they hear crying, so Stella and Mercury investigate. A little ways down a side road, they find three children sitting on the porch of a cabin and a burned out car with two adult corpses in the front seat. They decide to bring the children along with them since their parents are dead. The oldest, a girl called Georgie, has been caring for her younger twin brothers, Jayden and Cayden, for three days, but now they have a new family.
Shortly after getting back on the road, the truck is ambushed by two snowmobiles, one of which is driven by Alvin Fucking Rutland. Mercury takes aim with the rifle and blows out the engines on the snowmobiles with ease, causing one to violently crash. Unfortunately this is not the one driven by Alvin, but at least they're able to get away again. They decide to pull over near a river when they've put distance between themselves and Alvin and Stella feels safe from any more bad men. Everyone gets out of the truck to pee and stretch their legs, but then little Georgie falls into the river, one of the twins gets stranded on a rock and the green mist rolls in. Oh fuck.
A man on the other side of the river tosses his giant camping backpack aside and dives into the river to grab Georgie while Gemma and Mercury go for the twin on the rock. The man gets hit in the head by a log but rescues Georgie and Gemma and Mercury get the twins to safety. As they scramble up the side of the embankment, Gemma loses her grip and she and Mercury tumble backward into the mist. They both breathe it in and pass out. Noooooo!!!
Both Mercury and Gemma are okay of course because they have to be (actually they're feeling great) and the man and Georgie and the twins and everyone else are okay, too, though the man has a concussion and a big cut on his forehead. Gemma begins doctoring him immediately after learning that Mercury is fine. His name is Oxford Diaz, but everyone calls him Ford, and he's very handsome. As Gemma stitches up his cut, he says that whenever she has her hand on his forehead, he feels no pain at all. Interesting. They decide to welcome Ford into their family and he offers to show them the way to Madras because he's familiar with the area and has been to the town many times before. Mercury volunteers to go grab his backpack for him since he's concussed so they can be on their way.
Mercury crosses a rickety bridge, picks up the pack and begins her trip back, but as she crosses back over the bridge, it collapses beneath her. She somehow manages to pull herself up from a dead arm hang with hands full of splinters and jumps over ten feet to the bank like it's nothing. Everyone rushes to help her but she's completely fine, except for the splinters, but her hands are already healing and feeling better. Stella offers to carry the backpack but can't lift it more than a few inches off the ground because, turns out, it weighs more than 50 pounds. Mercury now has super-strength, though Stella believes she's had it since her first mist encounter but they just never realized it. And she believes that Gemma is a healer. And Imani is... something.
With everyone fed and cared for, Ford leads them across back roads toward Madras. They stop for gas once and when Mercury takes a pee break, she sees a dead baby goat and decides to do a little ritual for it. She calls upon the Green Man, the Horned God, the masculine personification of nature, and sends the baby goat home to the summer lands, which involves calling the five elements in a pentagram shape and holding up her pinky and forefinger to symbolize the god. When she goes back to the truck, Mercury sees Karen looking at her, but only for a moment.
Ford leads the group to an overpass where they can safely hide the truck. As they begin to gather up all their things and make the short walk to the middle of town, Imani demands to stay in the truck with the children. It's a long walk for them and they're tired and scared! Gemma decides to stay with Imani, but Karen will not be left behind. No one's telling you you have to stay, Karen. GEEZ. Karen, Stella, Mercury and Ford set off. Along the way, they concoct a story about being teachers on a spring break hiking trip with Ford as their guide and plan to say they did not encounter any mist. When they get into Madras, they are met by a roadblock guarded by a woman and two armed guys. The woman, Amber, is super fake and godly, so Karen is immediately drawn in, but Stella, Mercury and Ford aren't falling for her fakeness.
Amber takes the group to the elementary school that they have set up to house survivors. All the classrooms have blacked out windows and the doors to the courtyard are chained and padlocked. Nothing in Madras seems on the up and up. As Amber is showing them to classrooms that will be their home for now, a lady named Moira comes out of a room yelling at Amber about wanting to leave Madras and go back to her farm. Amber shoos her away and tells the group that Moira's mentally ill. Before she leaves them, Amber tells them that they should have a hot shower and get some rest because there’s a festival the next day. Oh also, they need to go by the clinic and get their blood tested. For science.
The next day, Mercury, Stella and Ford go shopping for supplies and do not go to the clinic. Many townsfolk have set up a sort of farmers’ market with goods like soap, shampoo, sanitary products, clothes and other useful materials. Mercury and Stella ask for pads and tampons, but the person at that booth says they only have diva cups, which are sustainable, but it’s definitely menacing the way they’re described. The three stop by another booth and get clothes for the festival, including an outfit for Karen to wear, too. She’s been at the church all day, praying.
When Stella and Mercury get back to the room, Karen's in there, reading her Bible, fresh from all-day prayer. She tells the others that, in addition to being at church all day, she also went by the clinic and gave up a sample of her blood. What?! We all know they're doing something menacing with that blood, Karen. She says that her blood hasn't changed, so it just backs up their story, which Stella agrees might be a good idea. Mercury gives Karen her outfit and apologizes for the weirdness that she's noticed between them since the night with the side-of-the-road-goat-staring. Earlier, Mercury and Stella had a conversation about how this place might be a good fit for Karen even though they know it's weird and wrong on account of the godliness. It really seems like that might be the case since Karen is pulling away.
The next day, they all get ready and go to the festival. The mayor, Eva Cruz, is there, and gives a nice little speech that’s only maybe a little condescending and uncomfortable, but then she reminds everyone, especially newcomers, aka Mercury, Stella and Ford, to go get their blood drawn for science purposes. Moira interrupts and demands that she be given her truck and be allowed to leave Madras to go back home. The mayor fakely agrees and sends Moira back to the classrooms to gather her belongings. After the speech, the music and dancing starts and a few songs in, Ford asks Mercury to dance. They talk about books that they both love and then Mercury shares that she would have had an Ostara Ritual, the pagan tradition that inspired Easter, that night if the world hadn’t ended, so Ford suggests they have a pretend one. Together they call to the feminine and masculine forms of nature, Ford doing exceptionally well for never having done it before, and then they pretend to toss flaming prayer papers into the air and conclude their ritual.
Stella, Mercury, Ford and Karen stumble drunkenly back to their rooms later, but before they go to sleep, Stella tells them all to be prepared to get back to the truck at a moment's notice because her intuition is telling her they'll have to leave in a hurry. Mercury wakes in the middle of the night and goes to the restrooms for some water and hears someone crying. Thinking it's Moira and that she's supposed to rescue her and add her to their found family, Mercury goes inside. It's not Moira, though. It's Karen. She's torn on what to do and she's terrified of Mercury because of her satanic goat sacrifice. She tells Mercury that she saw her summon the devil and she saw her open a doorway for him to enter through. Uh, what? So it turns out that Karen has some abilities after all!
Mercury tells Karen that she definitely wasn't summoning Satan and explains her rituals and how she sent the soul of the goat on its destination. Karen realizes that Mercury and Stella really care about her and so she's having trouble deciding what to do. They go to the roof to think things over. While up there, Mercury notices that the courtyard that they were banned from seeing is overflowing with lush vegetables. Then they hear the mayor, Amber and their cronies attacking Moira. They end up slitting her throat and pouring her blood over the tomatoes. Karen and Mercury overhear the mayor saying to bury Moira's body near other plants because even their meat makes things grow. Amber instructs a cronie to bury Moira, but then he coughs up blood and dies, so, ugh, Amber guesses she’ll just have to do it herself.
Mercury and Karen freak the fuck out and decide to leave Madras after that, yes, even Karen who realizes that Stella and Mercury were right all along. When they get back to the classroom, Ford and Stella are already ready to go. They take off and stealthily creep through the town and nearly get back to the truck but are discovered by Amber and the cronies. Mercury is able to use her super strength to knock a cronie back, but then they pull a gun and start firing. Mercury lifts Karen up like a sack of flour and they run, but unfortunately, Mercury gets shot. NOOOOOO!!! As they near the truck, Ford lifts and runs with Mercury and Stella uses Mercury’s blood and her own to grow a thicket of thorns to protect them from Amber and the cronies. The group makes it to the truck and, after a lot of pushing by Stella, Gemma heals the gunshot. Her eyes flare green like the mist and she takes on some of Mercury’s pain, but the wound is completely healed and both Mercury and Gemma pass out from exhaustion. They wake up a little later to a downpour and Mercury, Gemma and Stella shower in the rain, the blood falling from Mercury sprouting flowers all around.
They move on and finally arrive at the Painted Hills and find a newly formed cave and know that they have found their new home. Here, Karen tells them all that she saw something when the ladies were dancing in the rain, and also when Gemma healed Mercury, and also when Mercury called the Green Man to lead the baby goat away. It seems that Karen can see the spirit world, or something like it. Her blood still can’t grow veggies, though. Later, Stella, Mercury and Ford go to a nearby town to gather supplies while Imani, Karen, Gemma and the kids get things settled. The town, Mitchell, is in a valley, so they know they need to be quick before the mist shows up again. Mercury and Stella explore a general store while Ford checks out the feed and farm store. Ford finds chickens and ducks and rabbits and Mercury and Stella find lots of food, books, camping supplies and pretty much everything else they could possibly need to get a new life started. It's really coming together! They even find a brewery and bar nearby that has wine glasses and a DOG who Mercury immediately bonds with. Everything is coming together perfectly, so of course the green mist rolls in and then, to make things even worse, Alvin Fucking Rutland appears.
He and Ford fight and Alvin fucking shoots Ford, then they tumble into the mist. Mercury follows, screaming and shooting non-stop, then drags Ford back to the truck. As they drive back to the Painted Hills, rushing to get to Gemma so she can save Ford, he says there's no saving him because breathed in the fog and is broken inside. He dies before they make it back to their new home. Stella’s devastated by this because she feels like her intuition let her down, but Mercury knows that Ford’s spirit will live on and come back someday. They have a funeral ritual and bury Ford, then Mercury cuts her arm and lets flowers bloom on his grave. After this is over, Mercury finds Imani standing away from everyone else, staring toward California, which she does every night. Then, she has a prophecy. She says He will come. The Destroyer. Prepare or perish. That’s it. Nothing else. And no one really has any idea what it could possibly mean.
Later that night, Mercury goes to sleep and dreams of Ford. It’s a beautiful dream and it really feels like he’s there with her, kissing down her neck, nibbling her earlobe and holding her gently. She reaches up to stroke his hair and feels that he has horns? He tells her that she’ll soon be ready to understand and that he’ll always be near, always and forever, and that he was destined to be here with her. He gives her a flower from his grave and the dream ends. Mercury wakes with a start to find a yellow wildflower on her pillow.