Season One Finale
“I… I didn’t think I’d-” Josh says, cut off by Eliza as he starts walking towards her. “Stop! Don’t come any closer!” Eliza shouts, holding the knife upwards at Josh, aiming with conviction in case necessary. Silence ensues as the two stand opposite each other, thinking very different thoughts. Finally, “Tell me it’s not true” says Eliza, fighting back tears and the urge to breakdown in the middle of what once was her kitchen.
“What’s not true?” Josh asks, noticing the tears being held back by the slimmest of margins, forcing him into feeling the pain he can tell Eliza is sharing with him. “Tell me you didn’t kill Warren, Josh…”
“Eliza” Josh says, trying to inch closer with a somber tone of voice, only for his efforts to be shut down as Eliza propels the knife further into the air, stopping him in his tracks before demanding he answer the question. Defeated, tired of playing games involving dancing around the truth, Josh accepts the pain that he’s caused and puts an end to the lying.
Throwing his hands in the air and dropping his shoulders, Josh responds. “I did.”
No longer able to hold the tears back, Eliza keeps the knife pointed straight. “Who else” Eliza says through her broken voice, unable to say more than a few words together without falling apart.
“E” Josh says before being cut off once more as Eliza screams the demanding question once more. “WHO ELSE!?”
Shaking, both in terror of the circumstance and the knowledge that this moment is reality, Eliza awaits the response after whispering once more, again through a broken voice. “Who else, Josh?”
Swallowing the spit in his mouth, Josh clears his throat and responds clearly.
“Jeremiah Duane” He says, Eliza forcing her eyes shut, pouring out the tears over the lip of her eyelashes as Josh continues. “Captain Harold Devine...” Josh says, forcing Eliza’s eyes to break open, this time with shock.
“I’m sorry” Josh mutters under his breath, words cloaked behind somber breaks for air. Looking on at the man in front of her, the knife in her hand trembling with the rest of her body, Eliza forces the bottom half of her jaw to rejoin with the top before shaking her head and slowly backing up towards the former front door.
“Eliza wait” Josh says, reaching his hand out and attempting to walk up to her, only finding Eliza wavering the knife in the air with even more anticipation, demanding he keep his distance. “No! You stay away from me! Just… Just stay away!”
“Eliza” responds under his breath, trying his absolute best to hide the heartbreak lingering in his heavy chest. “Stay. Away” Eliza repeats, backing beyond the hallway to her former place of comfort and retreat, cramming herself through the hole in the doorway and making a break for her car.
Rushing down the driveway, Eliza reaches her vehicle just as Josh climbs his way through the broken in wooden board in time to watch the woman close the door behind herself and back away from the building. Watching on as the woman drives off, Josh finds himself collapsed into a seat on the gravel-filled driveway looking on at the tire tracks left behind in Eliza’s wake.
*buzz buzz, buzz buzz*
Phone ringing off the hook, Josh pulls it free from his denim pocket before raising it to his ear, answering with an anger filled, sadness-hiding “what?”
Police sirens ringing throughout the desolate, empty field-surrounded roadway manage to catch the attention of the freshly-removed lieutenant Devine as he drives along the hot asphalt fifty miles over the speed limit. Looking into his rear-view mirror, Devine smirks before lowering his speed to a gradual pace and pulling over to the side of the road.
Finally coming to a rest just along the side of the road, Devine awaits the officer’s company with his hands fully visible on the steering wheel. After a few short moments, a deputy emerges from the vehicle and approaches Devine’s driver side window. “Lieutenant. Why are you doing this?” The officer asks, not carrying with him anything typical with a police stop. “I don’t want to give you a ticket or get you in trouble. I like working with you and I respect you as a man. I just don’t know why you’d throw everything you’ve worked for away like this.”
Smiling with an evil, bastard-like grin is Devine, sat there unresponsive before picking his moment, licking his lips with a pop and tilting his head. “Why not, Officer…” Devine says, stopping himself to turn towards his drivers side window and look at the man’s badge and nameplate. Laughing to himself and turning back towards the road ahead, “Officer Daniels.”
“The fact that you whiffed on one case doesn’t change the fact that you’ve hit the nail on the head with dozens of others. This one’s a minor speedbump in the road, it’s nothing to ruin your life over.” Smile removing itself from his face and being replaced with a look of resentment by the guilty party, Devine responds through a thick, gravelly tone. “I wasn’t the one that ruined my life” he says, still remaining in place with the same posture. “Joshua Lane was… He’s responsible for what’s happening with me. Blame him and start asking him these questions. I’ve got somewhere to be.”
“Lieutenant, I can’t let you leave unless I know you’re going to be alright” The officer says, prompting another smile, this time of anticipation to overtake every other expression on Devine’s face as the lieutenant unclasps his seatbelt and opens his vehicle door, exiting and walking out into the field his car is parked beside.
“10-33, Officer Lawrence Daniels requesting immediate assistance on Everling Road off Borbon Avenue. Routine traffic stop has the suspect walking off of the scene, no force is needed.”
“Copy, 10-33. We’re sending the nearest unit to your location on Everling Road off Borbon Avenue. Please stand by”
The radio behind Devine grows louder, signalling to him that Daniels is catching up to him, bringing about the return of his prior maniacal smile as the officer behind himself approaches faster. “Lieutenant!” The officer calls out, Devine not responding with words but rather by actions, putting his hand to a hidden holder in his pocket as the smile grows wider.
One final time, the officer calls out “Lieutenant!” Towards the distressed man, reaching his hand out towards Devine having finally caught up, able to just barely rest his hand on Devine’s shoulder before the disgraced lieutenant quickly jolts around in Officer Daniels’ direction.
Aimed directly at Devine’s half-door vehicle still steady on the side of the road, nothing out of the ordinary appears in the patrol unit’s dashcam footage. The sun shines brightly over the hills of a scenic, almost building-less section of outer New York, bringing about a look of peace and serenity.
Finally, from nowhere, a blade skips across the hood of the patrol car, skidding across the road immediately thereafter before the sound of a door opening and closing proceed and succeed the sound of someone climbing into the driver’s seat. Keys into the ignition, the engine roars and the car begins to reverse, aimed in the direction of the field as a figure out in the distance staggers to its feet.
Cloaked in his own blood, pooling from the gash in his throat contained behind the clutching-to-life hands of a man struggling to survive, Officer Daniels turns back to the road just as Devine puts the gas pedal to the floor, ripping through the grass of the field as the car bounces and skids along the hills of dirt before finally running down and mowing over Officer Daniels, jolting over his body as if it was just another path of dirt before finally coming to a stop.
Opening the vehicle door, Devine steps out and looks just beyond the car, seeing the mangled corpse of his first true victim lying lifeless in it’s makeshift resting place. Reaching into his pocket, Devine dials in a number, one he has remembered by heart before placing the phone to his ear and awaiting a response. Finally after a few moments, he gets a one-word response from the other line.
“Joshua Lane. It’s Eric Devine. Let’s finish this. There’s an abandoned factory just outside of Manhattan off Borbon street, take the back entry to avoid the cops. No guns. No knives. Just two men ready to put this chapter of life to bed. Be here in twenty. No excuses.”
Without pause, Devine lays out the scene before abruptly hanging up in Lane’s face and returning to the driver’s seat of the patrol car, backing up over Officer Daniels’ body once more and driving towards his prior-intended destination, with the faint sounds of sirens beginning to ring within the area, setting the scene for the war ahead.
I feel gross. This charade I’m putting on is just getting old, and it’s disgusting me every second I look in the mirror. I’m putting an end to this hell that I’m living through… It’s not worth it.
Eliza Bradburry is alive, not in the fashion she once was, but she’s alive somehow.
Everything she’s know has hurt and caused more pain than anything else, but there’s still time to change that. And there’s no better place to begin than the one person that I think needs just as much hope as I do right about now.
*Knock knock knock*
A few moments go by as Eliza waits in the hallway outside of a random apartment complex door. After a few moments, she finally begins to hear footsteps resonating from inside, growing louder as the person inside inches closer to the door. Finally the light from within the apartment is allowed outside as the door is opened, with Jenn standing on the opposite end in total shock.
“It’s… It’s you!” Jenn says through her hands, covering her mouth agape in surprise. “Hey Jenn” Eliza says, semi-defeated yet joyous to see her. “How’ve you been?” Eliza asks, smile starting to spread like a wildfire across her face as the joy begins to overpower the defeat.
Finally, after a few moments, mostly wondering over whether everything in front of her was real or not, Jenn bursts through the door and wraps her arms around Eliza, who responds by doing the same. “I’m... Oh my fucking god, it’s you!” Jenn says, still in disbelief but placing it aside.
“Where have you been? Everything’s been going to hell since you left!” Nodding, the defeat subtly creeping back in, Eliza responds “Yeah, I’ve seen” before looking into the apartment behind Jenn and noticing a news story on the television behind her.
“What’s going on?” Eliza says, pointing at the television screen knowing that something is off before Jenn pulls her by the hand. “... It appears to be that the officer is being viewed as a disgruntled employee, do you have any new information on that?”
The news anchor, stationed off-camera in a helicopter flying overhead an abandoned automotive factory begins breaking down whatever he can. “Yes, we can confirm that the New York Police Department have announced that the gunman inside is Lieutenant Eric Devine, recently coming off of working on the Warren Duane case that took the world by storm involving VeroSoft CEO Joshua Lane. It’s believed that the failure to convict Lane of Warren Duane’s murder muddied the waters on an already spiraling workrate for the Lieutenant. WTCB can also confirm that a body found a few miles away from the site belonging to an unnamed NYPD patrol officer is assumed to be the first kill of the lieutenant that really set all of these events off.”
“I think I’m gonna be sick” Eliza says under her breath, with Jenn quickly retrieving and handing her a kitchen pot. After a few moments of silence between the two, Jenn points out a person in the background of the shot sneaking around officers and entering the building.
“Look at that!” Jenn says, “They’re literally having to sneak inside!” Squinting towards the television, Eliza walks closer to the screen to get a better look. “That’s not a cop” Eliza says, noticing the t-shirt and lack of a tactical vest in addition to a gun being carried at the man’s side. “Who is it then?” Jenn asks, only for Eliza’s expression to go cold as the realization begins to linger over her.
“I have to go” Eliza says, rushing for the front door as Jenn pleads for her to stop as she only recently got there. “Where are you going, E?” Jenn asks, rushing over to Eliza as she’s on the brink of tears. “E, what’s wrong?” Jenn asks, pulling Eliza in for a hug as the black-haired lady returns the favor.
“I just can’t with this shit, Jenn. I’m tired of running” Eliza cries out, “You don’t have to anymore, E. You’re home now, you can move past it.” Shaking her head, Eliza pulls away from Jenn and looks her in the eyes. Hesitating for a moment, Eliza pushes the words out despite not wanting to say them.
“Devine broke into my house the night the cops started telling people I was dead. He forced me to leave and killed another woman that looked like me to write a death certificate. And now Josh is going after him!”
Completely thrown for a loop, yet everything somehow falling into making sense, Jenn struggles to find anything to say before asking, “Why is Josh going after Devine?”
“Because Devine’s going after Josh” Eliza responds, confusing Jenn even further. “Why is Devine-” Jenn starts to ask, only for Eliza to cut her off in he tracks and shatter the ice into pieces if it wasn’t already broken to begin with.
“Because Josh killed his father, Jenn.” Frozen in confusion, Jenn just stares at Eliza and asks, “Have you been drinking, E?”
Grunting in aggravation, Eliza takes Jenn by the arms and responds. “Josh admitted to me that he killed Devine’s dad, and Warren, and Warren’s dad. He confessed to all of it. Right to my face. And Devine’s going to kill him if I don’t find out a way to stop him!”
Turning to leave, Jenn calls out. “Why do you want to stop him? If he killed Devine’s dad, why do you want to protect him?”
Before getting the chance to send herself flying over the lip of the stairs in the direction of the lobby door, Eliza throws herself around in anticipation of responding, only for the cat to latch onto her tongue and force her into an inability to respond. “Because I-” Eliza responds, shutting her mouth before uttering another syllable, Jenn brought to silence anticipating a response all whilst piecing everything together herself.
“I…” Eliza stammers, still swirling words around in her head like she was tossing a salad, not liking many of the option available. “I… Care… I care about him” The struck woman says, forcing herself into admittance that the entirety of her life over the past near-year second-guessing herself and her allegiances, battling inside her own mind the differences between what is morally right and morally wrong has all lead up to accepting the fact that Josh is more significant and important to her than she may like to think.
“There’s a piece of me that just fucking… I don’t know… Fits into place whenever he’s around. It’s sick and it’s fucked up, but it works and it fits.” Flipping the despair and shallow hatred into a fuel for her anger, Eliza stands firm, her left foot planted on the floor now still in much the same way to that of a statue. “And now I need to make sure he doesn’t get himself fucking killed.”
Turning back around, Eliza rushes down the stairs and bursts through the lobby door, throwing herself into the New York streets without a care in the world as she leaps into her car and speeds off through the winding grids of New York traffic.
Through the hazy and low definition view of a mobile camera aimed directly at a large, powered down furnace, perspective is hard to come by until the camera grows still, slowly self-panning down to a scraped Eric Devine, armed to the tooth with automatic rifles one after another, broadcasting to the world over livestream on social media himself ducking from behind cover nearest one of the front windows of his current station.
“Smart move to broadcast myself to the world? Welp… Probably not, but who gives a shit now, right? After all, there’s no way I leave this building alive, so I might as well have some fun with it. Now answer me this, my entrenched audience… What’s more fun than having one more good ole’ fashioned throwdown with a bitter rival before going out in a… blaze of glory? Huh?” Devine starts, slurring his words through the effects of the liquor he had drowned himself in minutes earlier knowing the end is near.
“Let me tell you, my enamored friends” Devine starts, through the screen fly comments like “Die you sick fag” And “#JoshLaneIsGuilty” proving how polarizing the perspectives of the world’s population truly are regarding Warren Duane’s murder. “The answer is simple… Getting a load off of your chest now that you have the freedom to do… Exactly that.”
Creeping around the spacious and hiding place-filled rooms and floors of the factories abandoned interior, Josh turns corners and ducks through open doors before hearing a barrage of officers turning corners in search for the deranged psychopath with a deathwish.
I get the feeling this place wasn’t where Devine intended to go out, but it doesn’t surprise me that this was the kind of place he’d settle for.
I know I’ve got some dark skeletons most people have no clue about, but that doesn’t change the fact that this place… The dust and the debris around every corner you turn… Just seems ironic for a final battleground.
So many places to make a wrong move, or take a wrong step. It’s like a dream for anyone not only out of their right minds… But careless of whatever fate they find themselves facing. It’s such a Devine-like thing to do, and yet not at all just the same.
Perhaps ironic is the wrong word… Poetic seems more justified and fitting.
*buzz buzz buzz*
Buzzing off once more, Josh removes his phone from his pocket and answers through whispers as he ducks behind a support column out of sight from anyone ahead.
“Kinda busy, puppet master. What’s up?”
“Lower the gun, Josh. You can’t risk stumbling into a off-beat situation. Remain calm, don’t look suspicious in case you meet someone other than Devine in that hell hole, got it? That’s the first part.”
As mysterious and traditionally-untrustworthy as Josh’s guardian angel has been, he’s never steered the man wrong. He may be one of the most, if not the most important reason for why Josh is still walking as a free man, even if not in the most pleasing of areas. For that reason, Josh takes his guardian angel’s advice to heart, lowering his gun and tucking it into his pant-loop, draping his shirt over it and concealing any indication of looking for a fight. “Fine, what’s the second?” Josh responds, peaking over the corner to find five officers entering the manufacturing floor, guns drawn and searching every inch the space has to offer.
“Look for alternative routes” The voice says, leaning on his glass countertop with his free hand planted firmly on the cold, reflective surface. “The more you stay out of sight from officers, the more you stay out of sight from Devine… Until you no longer want to, at least.”
Looking around the room, Josh notices an open window directly below the ceiling nearly fifty feet in the air. “All I’ve got is a window above me. I don’t have any way to get to it” Josh responds, noticing the officers growing closer to his position. “Yes you do, Josh. You just need to think about it enough. Figure out your path, and then start following it.”
Officers grow closer and closer, coming nearly inches away from the man around the support column, backed up to the side of the wall before finally turning the corner and finding nothing, freshly abandoned by the guardian angel-followed man, using his legs to bridge the gap between the column and wall as he inches his way further up, finally coming to the window and seeing an air duct primed for using.
“You may be thinking-” Devine starts to say, being cut off by loud and resounding thuds resonating from a few doors away. “Hold off for a second… Got something that I need to take care of”
Sprouting from his seat below the window and grabbing at whichever gun laid closest to his left, Devine marches to the entrance to his room and takes in a deep breath, throwing on a menacing and deranged smile before kicking the doorway to his fate in and raining a flurry of gunfire into a crowd of officers, puncturing them with one bullet after another before everything grows deathly silent, and the heap of humanity lay dead a few feet away from Devine’s feet.
Taking a moment to gaze at his work, Devine lugs a wad of spit out over the corpses of those he had just massacred before returning to his room, pulling the door stuck and turning toward the window to unload the remainder of his clip into whatever he could down below outside.
Turning to his phone, Devine smiles and shouts aloud, “Now… Where was I?” before a louder thud resonates from the room nearest to his, drawing a smile on Devine’s face rivaling that of Norman Bates. “Haven’t you fucks had enough?” Devine says aloud, grabbing another gun and marching back over to the door, only for the wooden blockade to come flying in as Josh crashes into the room, bringing Devine to the ground with a thunderous boom.
“You son of a bitch!” Josh shouts amidst a struggle for power, wrestling with Devine on the ground whilst simultaneously reaching for his gun, only for a knee below the belt to take him off course and halt any hope of putting an end to this nightmare once and for all. Now with the upper hand, Devine tosses Josh from atop him to the ground beside in hopes of gaining the higher ground.
Before anything can come from it, Josh pulls up his shirt and reaches for the handgun behind his belt loop, forcing Devine to retreat from the room, just narrowly avoiding the first shot as it grazes the cement wall inches away from what would have been Devine’s head.
Turning his head to the stash of guns and ammunition beside him, Josh takes a further glance at the phone lying on the ground before picking it up and holding it to his face. “The show’s over everyone. Sorry to disappoint” Josh declares before cutting off the stream and tossing the phone from the window above.
Stationed outside of the factory, officers armed to the teeth cover behind concrete walls and security booths trying to remain out of Devine’s sights. Suddenly, a car driving towards the building begins kicking up dirt like a wildchild just beyond the officers, drawing their attention as a car with a white flag waving in the breeze from just outside of the drivers window glides onto the factory grounds before coming to a grinding stop, with the officers helpless to do anything in attempt to avoid gunfire.
Emerging from the vehicle is Eliza, careless about the potentially hostile and on-edge officers just behind her as she rushes up to the factory door, prying it open and disappearing into the complete unknown with the completely stunned beyond logic officers left behind their cover in a sea of confusion.
“Come here you son of a bitch!” Josh shouts, his demands bouncing around the concrete building structure through echoes of resentment. “You wanted a fuckin’ fight, you’ve got one you merry fucking retard. FIGHT ME!” Josh continues, marching forward before noticing the sounds of his steps no longer sounding like shifting through sand, but now sounding like the taps of walking through puddles as he takes a second to stop and acknowledge his surroundings. Immediately below his feet lays a pool of gasoline, all leading to a lighter-wielding Devine at the back of the room.
“My pleasure, Josh!” Devine says proudly, lowering his hand to the gasoline ahead of him and lighting it ablaze, forcing Josh to rush off out of the room and into a neighboring office room just out of reach of the flames, not even touching the soles of shoes as the remainder of the room separating himself from Devine goes up in a fireball much the same as an explosion.
*buzz buzz buzz*
Ringing in his pocket, Josh’s guardian angel earns his attention again as he takes his phone and listens in.
“The elevator to your left, Josh” the man on the other line shouts briefly before hanging up, careful to not take away any valuable time from the man on a mission.
Turning to the left, Josh notices the elevator and pries open the small metal doors to reveal a cable line traveling up the length of the building. Taking his opportunity, Josh leaps from the lip of the floor and latches himself on the line, pulling himself higher before finally reaching the next floor up, where he’s met with an open elevator door.
Collapsing into the next floor, Josh stands to his feet as he sees a figure disappear around a corner and decides to chase after it. Gaining ground, Josh rushes forward in a fit of anger before turning the same corner himself and coming to a sudden stop.
“Eliza!?” Josh shouts, gaining the attention of the woman ahead of him, who turns around to face him with a smile. “What are you doing here!?” Josh asks, a worried mess as the woman ahead of him simply runs up to him and dives into his arms, tears flooding from her eyes as her arms wrap around the man she’s finally realized is too much of a part of her for her to let go of without letting go of herself.
Ripped from the moment of anger-filled, murder-desiring rage, Josh responds by wraping his arms around the woman, broken beyond what even she can recognize. Having broken away from his mindset for a few brief moments, Josh pulls Eliza away from himself and asks her once more why she’s here.
“I’m not going to let Devine kill you, Josh” She says, staying brief and sticking to the point. “He’s not going to stop until he kills you and I won’t let that happen. We need to go now.”
Reaching out, Eliza takes Josh by the hand and leads him to a fire exit at the end of the room. After a moment of allowing himself to be pulled forward, Josh stops, relenting any move further as Eliza turns to face the man she aims so greatly to save. “I’m not going anywhere, Eliza” Josh says, looking into her eyes before repeating it once more, assuring her that he’s serious.
“Josh, he’s going to kill you. We need to get you out of here and let the cops handle it!” Eliza pleads, only for Josh to pull away once more, refusing to leave Devine behind to fall victim to his own actions. “No, Eliza!” Josh shouts before standing in place and putting his foot down. “I’m not letting the cops handle anything, Eliza! They can;t be trusted! The guilty always get away with their crimes as long as they’ve got a fat wallet or a recognizable face and I won’t fucking have it!”
Shocked by his words, even despite being aware of his belief in the matter, Eliza is stunned to silence, only able to muster a few words in response. “They’ll… They’ll punish the people that deserve it. You know that! Deep down, you know that they will!” Eliza pleads, completely overtaken by tears of sadness as Josh continues to refuse moving any further. “No, no they won’t!” Josh shouts, trying to assure Eliza that this doesn’t end unless he puts the stop to it himself.
“I already made him a promise! I’m going to kill him!” Josh screams, noticing Eliza’s sadness turn into blistering anger. “You don’t have to kill him!” Eliza says, trying to argue her case louder than Josh can, “That’s not who you are!” Knowing the lack of truth in her words, Eliza still says them in hopes that, by some miracle, they’ll become true.
“Yes it is, E! It’s always been who I am!” Josh screams, this time being met with a scream of Eliza’s own. “It doesn’t have to be who you are! You can change, Josh!” The argument is halted briefly as the sound of shooting flames begins rising through the elevator shaft and wafting around the building, the heat shortly following thereafter. “No I can’t, E! No one changes, they’ll always be the same! I can’t change and I won’t change, E!”
Arguing with herself on the inside, Eliza is brought to silence as the moral dilemma she debated like warfare in her mind for months over end is finally spoken loud and clear by someone other than herself… No one changes. And if Josh meant what he had said, and he truly believed in the words he was unleashing into the world like a harsh punishment, then he was giving credence to Eliza’s internal debate over whether or not Josh was a monster.
Still refusing to believe that the man she finds herself so thrown around by is anything short of human, Eliza shakes the notion off and takes Josh’s face in her hands. “You can if you believe that you can do better. If you can believe that the right thing can happen without interfering in its outcome.”
Shaking his head as it stays resting in her hands, Josh responds. “No. I can’t, Eliza. The justice system is fucked and it fails to bring what’s coming to bad people over and over again” Stoping him in his tracks, Eliza interrupts him. “You don’t know that!” Eliza pleads, only for Josh to disagree. “How do you know it’ll fail Devine?” Eliza asks, only for Josh to cut her off in a surprisingly self-aware moment.
“Because it failed me, E.”
Stunned into silence as the heat begins becoming more noticeable as the sweat begins to pour down their faces. “Because I should be in prison right now, and I’m not. I didn’t even need to use money. I had a face that people knew and didn’t want to lock up. If it can fail me, it can fail anyone… And it will. It will over and over and over again, E.”
Leaning in close to her face, Josh looks her in the eyes and whispers. “I can’t let it happen this time, E.”
Closing her eyes and leaning her forehead against his, Eliza takes in these moments before being ripped from her embrace to them as Josh notices his moment and suddenly pulls away from her, rushing for the door to the room and closing it behind him, locking it shut by placing a chair against the knob. “JOSH!” Eliza shouts, with Josh placing his hand against the glass directly opposite of Eliza’s. “I’m sorry, E. Get to the ground right now before it’s too late. I need to do this” Josh says, pulling away from the door as Eliza continues to scream his name from beyond the heavy metal barrier between herself and the one soul she wishes to save more than any other.
Eliza is forced to stand there as Josh disappears behind a corner, remaining there as smoke finally begins to seep into the room, clouding everything around the woman as she locks herself in place.
Maybe Josh is right. Maybe I’ve been forcing myself to refuse to admit the truth. Maybe I care about him too much to let go. It would rip me apart, but maybe it’s best for me to let him go in the long term. Maybe I’m supposed to.
Maybe this is how it’s all supposed to work.
Maybe Josh is a monster… Maybe I’m the only one that should be able to tame him, but just… can’t. Maybe this is supposed to be how it happens. But there’s one thing that I know for sure is not meant to be a ‘maybe’.
Reaching behind her back, Eliza retrieves a small revolver and uses it to shatter the glass window of the door ahead of her, allowing for an entrance into the rest of the building.
Even if they’re evil incarnate...
I can’t let him hurt anyone else.
Climbing through the shattered remains of what was once the glass window, Eliza escapes the confines of the room and disappears beyond the same corner as Josh, going after him as he aims to keep the promise he once made with such poise and assurance.
“DEVINE!” Josh shouts throughout the office floor of the factory, noticing the smoke from an enraging inferno just below beginning to find its way through cracks and crevases further in the building, taking whatever oxygen it can get in order to continue imposing its will. Gun drawn as each step he takes brings him closer to the unknown, Josh storms through entry ways and surveys corners in hopes of stumbling across the disgraced officer and handing him the justice he deserves to meet.
“DEVINE!” Josh shouts once more into the far distance, hoping this game of fucked up Marco Polo will bring him closer towards his goal. Finally, Josh is taken off of his feet and tackled over cold metal desks, dropping to the floor along with Devine, able to use this distraction to send the firearm from Josh’s hand off into the remainder of the room.
“HA!” Devine shouts in an out-of-breath fit, climbing to his feet as Josh does the same, leaning against a desk directly eye to eye with a craze-filled Devine. “I knew you’d be back, Joshua!” Devine says with a smile, shaking his head as he savors the moment. “You’re too stubborn to stay away. The fire was merely to… Get the mood going!” Devine laughs, eying Josh like a hawk as the controversy-surrounded executive picks his moments, remaining leaned against the desk finally having his chance to confront Devine.
“One for the theatrics, huh? This whole thing has the stench of narcissistic desire.” Noticing Josh’s emphasis on the term stench, Devine plays along to Josh’s every whim. “Oh really? Which narcissistic desire are you referring to? Because I have plenty.” Cracking a smile, Josh answers. “For your final moments to be enriched with all of this pageantry and spectacle. You know you’re going to die today and you want to make sure you give yourself your own viking funeral in the most fabulous of ways. It’s sad. You know that no one will do it for you, so you have to do it yourself.”
Devine’s smile turns into a grin, eyebrows lowered as he allows Josh to continue. “That’s why you’re so driven to convict me for something. No one else would even dare point the finger at one of New York’s untouchables… So you needed to point it yourself. You didn’t want it to be you and the NYPD, or you and the Pipeline family. No… No no no, you wanted it to be you and you alone. We wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
Nodding in agreement, Devine takes his hands from the desk and begins clapping as the sound of flames shooting through air vents act as an artificial applause. “Well done, Josh. You really have it all figured out.” Shaking his head at the sarcasm in Devine’s voice, Josh walks away from the desk and further into the building, keeping his eye locked onto Devine. “Did it ever occur to you that you’re not the problem solving hero you make yourself out to be? Perhaps you didn’t really know everything but were instead pulling the strings?”
Swallowing whatever spit his mouth is moist enough to make, Josh tilts his head as his eyes remain locked on the deranged nutcase ahead of him like an audience to a stalling passenger plane. “What do you mean?” Josh asks, with Devine smiling enthusiastically as a response, walking up to Josh slowly, each inch disappearing between them mirroring that of someone inching closer to their fate.
“A need for the theatrics and pageantry you said, right? Well, it takes one to know one, wouldn’t you say?” Looking at the man, Josh squints his eyes and looks on at Devine, responding “I’m nothing like you.” This response only further enticing Devine, allowing his smile to become comic-like as the irony begins slipping into both men’s minds, one living for it and the other struggling disgustingly hard to refuse it.
“But I think you are… At least you should be… To you.” Inching closer, Devine continues speaking, closing the distance between himself and Josh, and noticing the hesitation for Josh to start any kind of struggle in hopes of getting an answer to the question Devine has laid out.
“You think that you’re this perfect little vigilante. Cleaning up every bit of the disgraced that New York offers without a trace. But I must ask you, why are they the disgusting ones in your eyes, Josh?”
Off at the end of the room, something sneaks by an open doorway and crouches down behind a concrete slab. There, Eliza draws her gun and leans her head out from cover, watching on as the two men in the center of the room hash it out, waring with peace before the final war begins.
“You’re filth. You and everyone else that I’ve killed have all done something wrong, Devine. You all get away with it because of who you are and the money to your name. You don’t get what you deserve the proper way, so there have to be corners cut in order to give you what you truly deserve.”
Without hesitation, Josh concludes his statement by cutting the distance between himself and Devine further, storming up to the man and getting in his face, knowing that Devine won’t start any fight thinking he has Josh wrapped around his finger. “Warren Duane operated a human trafficking ring right under your nose, his father started the whole thing to begin with and your father…” Cutting himself off, Josh notices Devine’s smile turn into one of anger-fueled anticipation, awaiting the explanation he never got. On the other hand, Josh finds his own smile growing as the shooting flames drowning out any chance for silence in the building only build to the tension in the air he himself is omitting with every breath Devine is forced to take without getting an answer. Finally, after a few subtle laughs under his breath, Josh concludes.
“Well, amongst other things… He had you.”
Concluding his statement with a smile and a wink, Josh watches Devine’s face grow angry, knowing that Devine realizes he no longer holds the power in this game of mental chess. Upon this realization, Devine flips the game of chess from that of mental ability into one of physical, throwing a punch at Josh that the internally-battled man ducks before laying in a kick to the gut before a shove over yet another desk.
Looking around the room, Josh finally spot his gun laying against the wall beside the window overlooking a room completely overtaken by flames. Marching forward, Josh is caught off guard when Devine leaps from the desk and onto him, taking him to the ground before aiming for strikes. At the end of the room, Eliza sneaks out from behind cover to get a better shot in case need be as Josh levels Devine with a headbutt, throwing him off before crawling to the gun.
After gaining a few yards closer to the firearm, Josh finds himself overtaken by Devine, who crawls atop him and begins wrapping his hands around Josh’s throat as Josh reaches up, aiming at whatever part of Devine’s face he can grab at to ease him off.
“You’re just as fucked as the rest of us, Joshua!” Devine shouts through grunts, smiling as Josh’s face begins to grow more red with each breath spat back out from his own lungs. “And now you’re gonna get the justice you deserve!”
Out of desperation, Josh finds a way to reach high enough to press his fingers into Devine’s eye sockets, little by little until finally having enough strength in him to toss the lunatic off. Crawling further to the gun, Josh is forced to roll out of the way of a flying chair sent hurling through the air by Devine, skipping off of the ground before leaping back into the air, shattering a window on the way down to the ground below, sending the first responders below into a fit
Finally reaching to the wall, Josh grasps at the gun before taking aim at Devine, not quick enough to avoid the kick in the face that sends the handgun flying from his grip and into the middle of the room. Smiling, Devine begins marching towards it before coming to a halt as the drywall to the office room begins burning, the fire beginning to make its presence fully known to the two combatants in the arena.
All coming together, Devine is brought to tears of joy as everything finds itself working according to his fucked up plan. Finally, Devine is thrown from the center of the room into a pile of discarded desks stacked one atop the other. As he collapses to the ground, the stack below begins to shift and two heavy metal desks slide down from atop the pile like an avalanche, pinning Devine to the ground as the cracking of his ribs beneath the heavy metal weight become the only thing louder than the inferno.
Blood coming from his mouth, Devine struggles to breath as he squeezes from beneath his assumed makeshift resting place and stammers to his feet, turning back towards Josh before being cracked over the head with the end of the gun Josh wavers proudly in his hand.
Falling backwards, Devine collapses into the desk pile, sat atop one whilst resting against another leaning precariously against a less-than-sturdy section of drywall. Clutching at his head, the pressure of his hand containing the blood draining from it, Devine looks up and subconsciously clears away a daze to find Josh standing over him, gun aimed directly at his face.
With whatever strength he can muster, Devine chuckles through a smile, blood covering his near-perfectly white teeth as he realizes what awaits him. “You’ll get yours Josh. Don’t you worry about that.”
Smiling at the man defeated by his position, Josh’s hand grows steady, his cold and callous way of thinking takes over as a fourth readies to be struck from his list. “Go ahead, Lane. Pick your poison. We’re all monsters here… we get it.”
Still overlooking from behind cover, Eliza watches Josh wave the gun in Devine’s face as a look of helplessness consumes her, and tears begin falling from her face as she accepts the action her hand is forced to do. Lifting the gun into the air, Eliza creeps out from behind cover out of sight from either men and takes aim at Josh. Hands shaking, lips quivering, Eliza’s finger slowly inches from the side of the gun to the trigger, ready to pull.
Finally, after moments of nothing pull at heartstrings like a sad movie with a depressing ending, Josh utters one word.
Quivering lips no more, eyes shot open like a cannon, that one word sends Eliza into shock as Devine’s eyes come to a squint, baffled at Josh’s answer. “No?” Devine asks, almost angered by the response. “I already made you a promise, Devine… But some promises were designed to be broken eventually.”
Maybe I’m a monster. Perhaps I’ve done more than just do bad things. But I want to live a life that I can be proud of, and I thought killing the people that deserved more than what they got away with was going to help me do just that...
But maybe there’s also an alternative. Another way to be proud of who you are and be proud of the work you do. Maybe there’s another way to be happy that I just haven’t found yet.
Maybe I’m not ready to admit that people can change. Maybe I’m not ready to let whatever happens… Happen. But if I want to try… If I want to have hope that all of that can change… I need to be willing to try.
Perhaps this is the right start.
“I’m not going to kill you” Josh says, his finger sliding away from the trigger as it remains aimed at Devine, keeping him in place.
“I can be your judge, Devine. I can find you guilty in my own fucking head, and maybe I can do that as your jury, too… But I know what I won’t do.” Josh says, lowering the gun immediately thereafter before concluding.
“I won’t be your executioner.”
Turning around to walk away amidst a room quickly filling with smoke and attempting to wipe away the blood pouring from his nose, Josh walks off with the gun to his side as Eliza watches on with a smile of hope.
“Enjoy prison, Devine. That’s what you deserve” Josh says, feeling grown as a person having vanquished his demons on his way towards escaping the building burning beneath his feet a changed man, not a monster, but a man.
Still smiling, Eliza’s eyes are taken from Josh as she notices Devine crawl off of the desk and start stumbling towards Josh, armed with a jagged drawer handle. “Can’t kill me Josh?” Devine shouts, forcing Josh to turn and face the man growing closer and closer. “Fine… THEN I’LL KILL YOU!” Devine shouts, lifting his hand into the air and rushing forward with the handle clutched into his hand.
*bang bang bang*
Three shots ring off as blood begins to spit from Devine’s abdomen, each shot bringing with it more force before the third finally brings the handle to drop from his hand as he slowly collapses to the ground in front of Josh, Eliza being revealed directly behind him to the changed man as Devine drops.
After a moment of silence with smoke beginning to engulf the room, the two begin walking towards each other before finally rushing into each other’s arms and falling to the ground in a joyous heap. “I told you to go! I wanted you to get out of here alive!”
Shrugging off the notion, Eliza swipes away the hair from Josh’s face before responding, “There’s no point in being alive anymore without you…” Starting to cough harshly as the smoke begins to fill her lungs, Eliza concludes as the sound of windows shattering begins to surround the room as the flames begin to rise. Looking into Josh’s eyes as best she can through the dark smoke, Eliza finishes. “I know that now.”
Smile on both of their faces, the two embrace in the center of the room as the smoke finally becomes too thick to see through and the sound of the building crumbling and buckling beneath its own rings resoundingly throughout the hollow shell of Lieutenant Eric Devine’s final resting place.
*beep beep beep*
Jesus fucking christ, if that machine doesn’t shut up I’ll die out of stubborness.
Opening his eyes to a number of bright lights including that of the sun directly to the right of him, Josh awakens from another mostly sleepless night in the hospital beside the most annoying method of gaging his heartbeat imaginable to him at this very moment.
Leaning over in his bed, Josh presses the red button on his bedside remote before placing his hands behind his head and simply waiting. After a few seconds, the door to his room glides open and directly through walks Becca, charming smile overtaking her face as she carries with her a clipboard and a pen.
“I figured it’d be your first request upon waking up so I prepared ahead of time” The woman says, handing the board over to Josh, taking it in his hands along with the pen. “Second” Josh says, “It was going to be the second.”
Smirking, Becca responds sweetly “She’ll be signing out later tonight, Josh. Don’t you worry, Ms. Bradburry will be just fine.”
Smiling, Josh looks down at the clipboard and places his signature directly on the line intended before handing it back over to the beautiful woman in front of him. “Now, about that date thing we were talking about earlier?” Becca says sarcastically before turning around heading for the exit.
As she reaches out to place her thumb on the screen, she hears Josh’s voice call out behind. “How’s Friday work?” Josh asks, prompting Becca to turn back around and face him. “I do owe you on that raincheck, so how does Friday sound?” Josh says further, earning a smile over Becca’s face as she lowers her thumb onto the screen to allow the door to slide open. Turning forward and exiting the room, she turns around and answers just before the door slides closed.
“It’s a date.”
Smiling in his bed, Josh crawls free from it before walking over to the dresser and removing his clothes and belongings from it.
Walking free from his room and through the hospital lobby, Josh looks towards another room and locks eyes with Eliza, sitting in her hospital bed with a smile on waving at the man bound for freedom. With a smile on his face, Josh waves back before finally leaving the hospital to a sea of cameras and paparazzi.
“Mr. Lane, the internet is buzzing with empathy for you after all these months of being targeted and framed by Lieutenant Devine for crimes you were innocent of, what is your reaction to this outpour of support from people calling you a hero?” One man with a camera asks, prompting Josh to take notice.
Thinking to himself, Josh hides what he truly wants to say in favor of something simple and to the point. “I’m thankful to move on with my life. No further questions, please.”
Walking off, Josh enters the car he had pulled around for him before removing his phone from his pocket at the sound of its buzzing.
1 New Message:
Puppet Master: Stay safe. We’re not in the clear yet. Enjoy the chance to take a breather. We’ll talk soon.”
Pressing the notification on his phone, Josh edits the puppet master’s information to change his name from “Puppet Master” in his contact list to “Guardian Angel.”
Placing the phone into the cup holders off to his right, Josh takes a moment to breath a sigh of relief before placing his hand on the steering wheel and driving off into the New York city life.
“Hello you and welcome, my name is Mike and in today’s ole’ video, we’re going to look at something pretty recent that you’ve most likely heard a ton about… Like… A ton. We’re taking a look at Lieutenant Eric Devine and the case of Warren Duane, which, if you haven’t heard, includes a lot about Joshua Lane, the old CEO of one VeroSoft Industries. Yeah, pretty crazy stuff! So without further ado, let’s jump right into it…”
Night falls over New York and its backwoods like a blanket of peace, bringing relief to a year filled with tremendous chaos and insanity. A stop-gap in a world so completely shattered into pieces just beyond the grasp of one’s own ability to contain it.
Through the backstreets of New York, Josh drives under the light of the stars directly above whilst briefly gazing down at his phone after every few seconds after turning off the video playing throughout the speakers of his car. On his phone is a picture of a document reading “Where you find difficult entry is where it lies. The Pipeline. Hidden in plain sight as to avoid the obvious glance.”
Looking up from his phone as he drives onto a bridge, he notices someone off ahead of him on the opposite side of the protective wall. Noticing a problem, Josh slows down and comes to a stop, putting his car in park before exiting his vehicle and slowly walking over the individual in distress.
“Ma’am?” Josh asks, watching as the woman’s hair flows with the gentle breeze accompanying the wave of her silk-like white dress. “Ma’am. I’m Josh, I don’t mean to scare you. Can we talk, please?”
“There’s no point. I’m done talking” the woman responds, lightening her grip on the metal guardrails of the protective walls before tightening them once again at the sound of Josh’s voice. “Please, I know what it’s like. Not being happy. Not wanting to do this anymore. I’ve felt it before, all of it. I’m still here.”
After a moment of nothing, no response and no movement, the gravel shifting beneath Josh’s feet ring loude than normal as he starts inching closer to her. “You’ve seen your demons, Josh? Have you killed them like you killed your victims?”
Suddenly caught off guard, Josh is stunned silent as the woman continues, Josh doesn’t make another step forward. “I know you’ve killed people, Josh. They’re haunting you the way mine haunt me.” Throwing his thoughts around inside of his head like a broken record, Josh settles down and comes clean.
“I have killed people. You’re right. I’ve done bad things” Josh says, inching closer to her, now extending his arm out to hers. “But they don’t haunt me anymore.”
Finally inching close enough to her to place his hand on hers, Josh continues. “I’ve admitted my crimes aloud. The demons went away because I was strong enough to admit that I had done bad things to people… I’ve cleaned my slate… And now I’m moving on the same way that you can.”
Removing her second hand from the metal guard rail to place it over Josh’s on her opposite hand, the woman closes her eyes and lets one purple tear fall from her eyelids before responding. “You haven’t cleaned your slate, Joshua. And I can’t move on until you do…”
Confused, Josh uses his free hand to tuck the woman’s soft and sultry hair behind her ear before asking her, “How would you know that?”
After a brief pause, the woman removes both of her hands from the barrier and holds Josh’s hand in the air. “Because, Joshua…”
Turning around, the woman comes face to face with Josh and opens her eyes, revealing the peraly-white, lifeless eyes Josh now sees Nora sporting as the woman holds his hand in the air before concluding…
“You killed me, too…”
Frozen in fear, Josh trembles as he watches Nora smile a grin from hell still sporting the white eyes before she slowly falls backwards, finally gaining enough velocity to drop from the bannister, still holding Josh’s hand as she takes him down to the freezing waters below with her.
Hand still gripped firmly in the woman’s hand, Josh watches Nora’s smile every inch he falls further down before he and the girl with the winter snow eyes crash into the rushing waters below, disappearing below the surface as it closes up above them, burying them within the crisp and bitter white waves as the night remains unchanged.