Season Two Finale
Bell being rung by the door to Lou’s coffee shop swinging open, the shop is quiet, it’s inhabitants in the middle of whispered conversations or keys being pressed on computers as Josh enters. “Morning, Lou” Josh greets, the man pointing towards a table near the window, his preferred drink already awaiting him on the opposite side of his two detective allies. “You know what to do if you need me” Lou replies, tossing a towel over his shoulder and patting Josh on the shoulder.
“I thought I would have beaten you here” Josh greets, pulling his chair out and noticing the reluctance from the pair. “Something wrong?” Josh asks, the pair looking to each other before Arcnote retrieves a set of glossy photos from her bag. Portrayed is the knife Josh once used long ago, the shape of the handle and the curvature of the blade immediately catching his eye, thus making its familiarity undeniable.
“Do you know that knife?” Holiday asks, Josh not making an attempt to lift his hand anywhere near the photo, gifting the man his first sign that he already knows the answer. “Yes… Yes, I do” Josh replies, “that’s the knife I used to kill Warren Duane, and then proceeded to leave in his car.” Head tilted, Arcnote’s expression finds itself falling on disappointment, Holiday’s face sagging out of exhaustion.
“There goes that” Arcnote replies, her head lifting again, her look directed towards holiday, who places his hand to his mouth. “Glad we didn’t run it through DNA first” Holiday remarks, the pair caught by surprise when Josh asks why that happens to be the case. “You’re smart enough to know that they’ll find your DNA on the knife and connect you to the crime, right?” Holiday asks, Josh wrapping his hands around his still warm beverage and shrugging.
“You found it in his car, didn’t you?” Josh asks, Holiday and Arcnote both confirming his suspicions. “So clearly he was smart enough to not let that knife sit there without inspecting every inch of that car” Josh replies, suggesting Devine wanted it to be found. “He showed up to this place after they found Duane, we actually sat here as a matter of fact” Josh explains, “it took me a while to realize, but he offered me a ride to give me the chance to dump evidence on him.”
“He wanted you to frame him?” Holiday asks, trying not to lose focus on the bigger picture, but finding it odd for any officer to actively seek such a thing. “It’s pretty odd for an officer of his stature to be involved in an underground system of moving child pornography, right?” Josh replies, Holiday forced to admit to being outclassed there. “I don’t understand why you’d be fine with running the tests” Arcnote replies, “you know exactly what they’ll find.”
“Do I?” Josh asks, the officers unable to stop themselves from being baffled at how many turns this conversation is taking, “how many people have used that car since he died?” The response being ‘none’, Josh suggests that Devine didn’t expect to die when he did when he last left the knife, thus he expected to continue needing to use it. “Can I have a piece of paper?” Josh asks, Arcnote’s head bobbing back before pulling out a notebook, Holiday supplying a pen.
Writing onto the paper and closing the notebook, Josh asks the officers where the knife was found and to exactly what position it was left in. Holiday answering as requested, Josh tells Arcnote to open the cover of the notebook, Josh having scribbled down the position the knife was in when he left it. “It’s no match, and obviously that can be for a number of reasons” Josh responds, “but knowing Devine, it’s not unlikely for him to have used that knife for… other purposes.”
“What are you getting at?” Holiday asks, “I know what you’re trying to suggest, but what are you saying he did with it?” With a smile, Josh explains to the pair that neither he, nor Duane, would be in the system. “Run the DNA, there’ll be no one to match it to” Josh explains, “as for whatever other DNA could be on it, that may be a different story.” The suggestion of the knife, in Devine’s possession, being connected with Pipeline crime, opens the world for interpretation.
“You’ve got a mostly quiet Pipeline that much of the world has yet to even truly know exists” Josh furthers, “and you get to choose how people see it, and the people that ran it.” His head hung whilst his partner’s lip curls, Holiday explains that it’s not as quiet as it recently used to be. “The theory that New York has a child-smuggling ring the cops never knew about has started to… well, take shape” Arcnote replies Holiday sliding his phone towards the man.
On the screen, news articles discussing the finding of a young girl trapped in a shipping container with a note directed towards a New York senator leave imaginations to wander. “Since some white dude selling real estate and white-collar lies couldn’t smuggle a kid to a Senator, the alternatives have been thrown around” Holiday explains, Arcnote adding that many of them happen to be coincidentally accurate.
His head in his hands, Josh sighs, his coffee lifted to his mouth without any further word, the entire table quiet. “One way or another, they’re on thin ice and they don’t have a ton fo time left” Arcnote explains, “they’re gonna go down at some point, and so will the people involved with it.” Knowing the precinct will have a requirement to stay very tight-lipped to maintain credibility, the idea of making Devine’s involvement with the Pipeline public would likely cost them their jobs.
“At this rate, there’s no way we can put this, or anything else, on Devine” Arcnote replies, her company most likely willing to sever ties if they find her with any involvement. “So where do we go from here?” Josh asks, the table quiet again until Arcnote pulls an evidence bag from her pack, sliding it to Josh. Within the plastic is the knife Josh managed to use on Warren Duane, untested and kept from the watchful eyes of the higher-ups on the precinct totem pole.
“Get rid of it” Arcnote directs, Josh’s eyes looking back up, the contents he holds within his hands serving as the only thing keeping the dirt on Devine’s grave, and his own grave left unearthed. “What happens if everything, or even just anything connected to Devine and the case that got pinned on him falls out of place?” Josh asks, Arcnote taking a moment to think about how something like that could happen.
“If one brick falls out of place, the entire building gets examined” Holiday replies, leaving any potential uncovering to threaten everything from Devine’s innocence to Josh’s doings. His name uttered from the woman’s lips, Josh looks up to Arcnote, who proceeds to inquire what brick might they find unearthed. Taking another sip of coffee as his leg begins to repeatedly tap on the ground, Josh fights off a lip quiver and responds.
“Not everyone you think is dead is… dead” Josh replies, Holiday letting out an audible sigh as Arcnote’s head drops into his arms, the situation’s direction having taken the most volatile path available.
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
“I see you made a discovery last night” Trey calls, Eliza walking into the decayed building, her earbuds pulled from her ears the second before the statement is made. “It wasn’t my call” Eliza explains, Trey putting down his notebook and approaching the girl, already aware of that. “The Guardian makes that kind of call because he does that kind of thing” Trey replies, “you’re more of the type to open the container because you wanna know what’s inside.”
“I don’t agree with that, but as long as we’re on the same page, think what you want” Eliza replies, turning for the stairs. “Before you go anywhere, I wanted to show you something” Trey calls, a keychain removed from his pocket, cradled in his hand to Eliza’s intrigue. “Is this some sort of friendship bracelet alternative?” Eliza asks, the man chuckling at first before popping the tiny flashlight open.
Inside, a small button is left waiting for any noticeable amount of pressure. “What am I supposed to be dumbfounded by?” Eliza asks, the man removing the bottom, only red and green wires falling from inside and pressing the button on top. “When the wires are attached to the little base below, and you press the button, it sends a signal from whatever specific location you’re at” Trey replies, suggesting any free hand they could leave untied could lead to them being uncovered.
“Press the button, the signal goes to whatever receiver the Pipeline has, and they know exactly where you are” Trey concludes, handing the piece of equipment to the woman. Feeling the flimsy contraption in her hand, the tiny size having cost the cause one of its pawns, Eliza feels anger and disappointment. “This thing cost someone their life” Eliza replies, “forced Josh and I to go into hiding, and…” Stopped, the woman’s hand begins tightening, the piece shaking with it.
“And all I had to do was take away his keys, and I could’ve stopped it all” Eliza concludes, turning towards the hall Trey emerged from and launching it across the room. Colliding with the wall, the object bursts into pieces, the scattered bits of metal bouncing off the floor, a gentle ring following. His hand on her shoulder, Trey leans his head towards the staircase, leading Eliza up to the second floor with a clean conscience.
“They said they have to be tight-lipped on everything” Josh says, slamming the documentation of Holland’s true identity to the workshop table. “The precinct’s trying to keep everything kept quiet, it would make them look bad” Josh continues, “they’re not gonna be allowed to do anything, especially involving the Pipeline.” When suggesting the higher authority of the precinct has stake in the Pipeline’s undiscovery, Half floats out the idea of leaking information to the press.
“We’re not the rats in this situation” Alec replies, leaving his chair to refill his coffee, “anything that gets uncovered is called into question, perhaps it’s best that they play it down.” Curious to the reasoning, Josh is reminded by Alec that he’s meant to be dead and Devine’s supposed to be this rogue cop that almost took down his own precinct. “If the public finds out they either knew it existed or never knew it existed, they might as well be permanently tarnished.”
“There goes an entire branch we could use the resources of” Half adds, making it clear that precinct’s aren’t guaranteed to exist. “We got those riots in Minnesota a while back and they threatened to defund the entire department” Half recalls, “what happens when you make an entire major city look, not only corrupt, but incompetant.”
“You might as well replaced them with Kia call center workers” Alec replies, Josh now lost for where they go from there. “Keep getting fed your insider information, Josh” Alec replies, “we’ll just keep going according to plan, we don’t need the cops to handle our drama.” His finger tapping atop the paper still residing on the workshop bench, Josh reminds the pair that the information contained within it does nothing if the Pipeline knows the precinct will do nothing.
“Then I walk the tight rope without a net” Half replies, his refusal to take his safety and well-being into consideration baffling the man with his finger still pressed to the top page. “That’s… That’s just it?” Josh asks, the question posed carrying more sarcasm than a rom-com’s witty female lead, with his arms outstretched. “That was the original plan to begin with” Alec replies, Josh denying that suggestion.
“The original plan was to find a flash drive and use that to exploit the senator” Josh replies, “that was the plan.” Head shaken, Alec tells Josh that the plan has changed in light of the police involvement. “We’re testing to see how much the Pipeline’s little distributor knows” Alec informs, “we’ll see which guy he knows is highest on the totem pole, and then we’ll keep climbing until we have the son of a bitch.”
“I fail to see how that is going to help us in any way” Josh replies, Alec beginning to roll his eyes. “There’s no reason to send Half into that place if we can figure out who’s going in” Alec responds, painting the picture for Josh as if he were an infant, “if we can figure that out, we’ll simply wait for them to come out and step into our place.”
Telling Josh that this all comes to a boiling point when they find out who that gray-haired lawyer is. His phone buzzing, Josh pulls it out to check as Alec continues, the last thing to do from there is figure out which ways they can pull him. “Got something we’re keeping you from?” Alec asks, the coffee in his hand pointed towards the man still looking at his phone screen. “No just…” Josh replies, lost in his thoughts, “...just let me know when you have something useful.”
Exiting the workshop, Josh leaves both Alec and Half staring at each other, their eyes narrowed, Alec’s shoulders shrugging forward. “The dude’s losing his mind” Alec proclaims, his chair spinning towards the workbench to allow him to return to his work as Half lowers his welders mask.
“This is more than fucking ridiculous” Holiday exclaims, his words coming through under his breath as he and his partner walk to a conference room in the back of the station. Suddenly, the pair is stopped by one of the precinct’s higher ranking members, the man asking Arcnote if he can speak with her privately. “I’m on my way to something important right now, can it wait?” Arcnote replies, the man insisting that it should be discussed as soon as possible.
“Well we can discuss it now really quickly if that’s alright?” Arcnote replies, the man looking towards Holiday, his eyes giving off the request that Arcnote refuses to fulfill. “Whatever you need to say, you can say it in his presence” Arcnote replies, the man’s head lowering. “Alright, if you insist” the man replies, “I just wanted to let you know that your affiliate has you set for reassignment.”
“What?” Arcnote replies, “we haven’t found the dealer’s killer, yet.” His brow lowered, the man assures Arcnote that everyone in the hallway knows that wasn’t the reason for her original assignment. “They just thought it would be better that you were pulled from the case” the man concludes, giving his apologies to the woman before walking off. “I can’t imagine that has anything to do with the mission to keep us all quiet” Holiday remarks, pulling Arcnote away.
“This is going too far” Holiday declares behind newly-closed doors, “they want everything we’ve been finding to be swept under the rug and forgotten.” Taking a seat at the table, Arcnote tells Holiday that she’s more than aware of that, “they just wanna cover their asses, and our investigation threatens that.” More than in agreement, Holiday takes the seat next to her, his mind wanting to wander to ways to work past this hurdle, only for those ways to be too difficult to come across.
“What do we do now?” Holiday asks, his head turning towards the detective, who takes a moment before returning her face to his, holding her hand out. “I don’t think there’s anything we can do now” Arcnote replies, Holiday accepting her offer of a hand shake, “it’s been a pleasure working with you, Officer Holiday.” Not one for gracious good-bye’s, Arcnote stands up and walks out of the room, the man left to reassemble the pieces left to himself, hand pressed to his face.
A tooth broken in half, left to drop to the ground and collect dust, the Pipeline’s workhorse catches his breath, his face being marked with the hand of Trey every other minute. His chin captured by the man’s hand, face pointed back towards his assailant, the prisoner watches a picture raise over Trey’s face, depicting the man whose face remains posted along every billboard, bus stop and telephone pole across the city.
“Who is he?” Trey asks, demanding a name to no avail, his captured spitting forward, Trey’s head tilting to the side to evade it, slapping the restrained man as punishment. “Give me the name of anyone inside” Trey demands, letting another hand collide against the man’s cheek after a few moments of silence. Hand reached towards Trey’s shoulder, Eliza asks for a turn, the man glancing back at the prisoner before stepping away.
“Haha” the man prods, “a woman?” With a smile, Eliza lays a strike beneath the man’s chin, sending his head rocketing back, blood shooting back and resting upon the walls. “Yeah, a woman” Eliza replies, reaching for the same photograph and demanding an answer to Trey’s question. “I’m not giving you anything” the captured replies, “you’re better of killing me right now than you are wasting your time, ‘cause you’re only gonna kill me eventually.”
“You don’t know that” Trey replies, his arms crossed as he sits in a classroom chair, the back of the chair pressed against his chest, “we may have no reason to kill you if you answer us.” Laughing, the man tells Trey that there’s always a reason to kill, Eliza immediately interested in his reasoning. “Because” the captive replies, spitting the blood behind his lip and before his gums to the ground, “there’s always tracks you need covered.”
“Not if no one’s looking for them” Trey replies, hinting at the possibility of neither the Pipeline, nor the precinct’s caring about what tracks lead where. “The precinct sure as shit doesn’t” the man replies, his head turning towards Trey until Eliza redirects it towards herself. “What do you mean by that?” Trey asks, the man’s eyes turning towards him until Eliza lifts a fork into the air, the man immediately returning his glare.
“Unless you don’t know who Eric Devine is for some reason, I’m pretty sure you already know” the man returns, Trey following up with a question of what the officers have to lose. “What do you even mean?” the man asks, Eliza reformatting the question. “Are your connections in the department clients or leaders?” Eliza asks, the man narrowing his eyes, almost beginning to laugh until he notices the fork in her hand once again.
“Neither” the man replies, capturing both Trey and Eliza’s interest, “they’re beneficiaries.” Despite this revelation not serving their overall plan directly, Trey leaves the room to run it by the Guardian, leaving Eliza to return to her original post. “You weren’t born for this, were you?” the man asks, having noticed something about the woman that causes such a statement to bring her head over her shoulder.
“You’re a long-term thinker, which makes you scary” the man replies, “it means you weren’t desperate when you came in.” Asking what any of that has to do with the work the Pipeline or her own side does, Eliza watches the man shuffle his head around. “The people in this war had no other option to turn to, at least not most of them” the man replies, “the people that did weren’t smart enough to think about the long-term effects something had. Just a spurt of the moment mentality.”
Nodding, Eliza asks the man if he’ll share information with her if she answers the question he asked. “I already know the answer” the man replies, “that ain’t a fair deal, so I’m good.” Turning around, Eliza walks away, pausing for a moment before answering his question anyway. “No, I didn’t” Eliza says, her eyes attaching to the man, now nodding with a smile. “Lucky you” the wounded man, still spitting blood responds, watching Eliza walk the remainder of the way out of the room.
Parking his car on the bridge he found himself falling over months prior, Josh takes the key from the ignition and exits, intending to remain dry for the remainder of the night this time around. Hands in his pockets, no spare gloves in his car to cover his hands with, Josh walks towards the railing and leans forward, his attention given to the frozen water below, the New York winter taking its tole on everything, which includes nature itself.
“I don’t want it” Josh calls out, his breath circling the air as his hands dangle over the edge of the railing, “the healthy conscience, it’s not for me.” His presence upon the bridge not being alone, a second figure walks up to him, joining his appreciation for nature with a great deal of curiosity. “I would’ve thought I’d be gone for good” Nore replies, her head turned towards the smiling Josh, “why do you want me here?”
“Didn’t I just say it?” Josh asks, his face turning towards Nora’s, “what am I if I have nothing to be guilty of.” Her mind coming up with a few different examples, Nora begins rattling them off, one by one. “Blood-thirsty, toxic in relationships, problematic, chaotic, stubborn, unpredictable, unable to follow instructions” Nora goes, stopping herself when she notices Josh remaining silent, allowing her to go on until her heart’s content.
“You want all of this” Nora replies, Josh’s smile growing, “if there’s not someone around to remind you of how broken you are, you’ll never accept it yourself.” Finger raised, Josh finally stops her, admitting that she was mostly right until the end. “I’ll always accept it myself because I’m nowhere near as perfect as that would otherwise require me to be” Josh replies, “but if I’m not reminded of what I’ve done, all I’ll be is some anti-hero with an undeserved clean slate.”
Nodding to herself, Nora figures out how to put such a statement into one truth. “You don’t want closure” Nora replies, the man’s smile fading as he struggles to keep himself from choking up, turning around with his eyes filling themselves with hurt. “Yeah” the man replies, his jaw stuttering as he looks back out onto the sights ahead, Nora tilting her head to the side and letting it rest on Josh’s shoulder.
“I’ve done so much good...” Josh admits, unable to keep himself from choking up any further as Nora rests on hand atop his, “...But I’ve done so much wrong, and that shouldn’t cancel itself out.” Using his free hand to wipe away tears, Josh lets his head rest atop Nora’s, their hands interlocking in an example of what he kept himself from having. His work having taken Nora away from him, the moment he imagines can never exist, and the only reason to blame is himself.
“If I’ve done no wrong, this would all be real” Josh admits, “I could have all of this, but I can’t… I shouldn’t.” Pulling her head from his shoulder, Nora pulls Josh’s face towards her own, their eyes finding each other’s as their hands remain tied together. “You don’t get both” Nora replies, her voice soft and forgiving, still holding him accountable, the way she is meant to, “it’s the work you do or the life you want… Not both, and not neither.”
“That’s the best closure you’re going to get” Nora concludes, “and that’s how you’ll live every day from this point on, no difference until the day you die.” His head dropping, Josh feels the touch of Nora’s skin press against his forehead, both of their hand now tucked into each other’s chest, kept cradling the other’s. “I don’t deserve to be free” Josh accepts, “my crimes shouldn’t go unpunished.”
His head lifting at the sight of headlights pulling around the corner, the car they belong to slowly coming to a stop in front of Josh’s. “They won’t be for long” Nora whispers, Josh turning back towards her to find emptiness, the woman having gone, and his own hands folded at his own chest. From the vehicle, cold rain beginning to lightly fall upon the bridge, Becca emerges from the driver’s seat, slowly approaching Josh, who lets his hands fall to their sides.
“It’s been awhile” Josh mutters, the woman keeping her distance, Josh insisting that he understands why. “I heard what happened at the precinct” Josh says, “I’m sorry I didn’t check in with you when I should ha-” Stopped Josh hears Becca tell him to stop talking, her reason for calling him out to the bridge not having anything to with wanting an apology. His head lowered, Josh remains quiet, waiting for Becca to begin speaking, the moment for that never coming.
Slowly approaching the man, Becca tells Josh that she knows everything, not a single detail of his deeds being left up for interpretation. “What do you-?” Josh begins, stopped again when the woman begins listing the acts he’s been guilty of. “You killed some exec in a back alley, ditched the knife in this Lieutenant’s car to cover your ass” Becca says, the first statement enough to bring Josh to silence.
“You killed some other guy in the middle of the street with the same knife, too” Becca continues, Josh’s eyes narrowing as his head lifts up, hsi inquiry into what she’s talking about beginning. “You and Eliza shot the cop in that building and you let him take the fall for all of it!” Becca continues, her information continuing to flash between accurate and misguided, only further adding to Josh’s confusion.
Eventually, Becca begins referencing Holland’ murder in the police station, incinuating Josh snuck in and committed the act himself before drugging her and dragging her out. “I never did that, who the hell told you that?” Josh asks, watching the woman walk up to him with her hand stuffed in the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt. “Enough with the lies” the woman says, Josh continuing to inform Becca that her information is wrong.
“Becca, I’ve never l-” Josh continues, his pleas with the woman to hear him out stopping suddenly, the sharp pain in his lower abdomen stopping him in his tracks. “Fuck you!” the woman responds, pulling a knife from his abdomen before burying it in once more. Two stab wounds delivered, Becca walks away, her steps taking her backwards as Josh’s blood drops from the edge of her weapon.
Watching the man clutch at his stomach, Becca watches Josh lean forward and collapse to the ground, the sound of his body dropping to the cement prompting her to run for the car. The water from the heavens running down his face, Josh helplessly lays there, spasming on the wet ground. After a few seconds go by, Josh tilts onto his back, looking up towards the heavens as a second figure walking up to him.
Reaching down, the older man, whose face remains plastered upon every inch of New York, place a card inside Josh’s coat pocket. “It won’t do you any good, but I figured you might want some help” the man says, patting Josh on the shoulder and walking off, entering the car with Becca before it speeds off into the night. Alone again, Josh’s hands remain folded upon his stomach, the only sound in the air being the droplets falling upon the concrete ground.
The rain growing heavier, Josh lets it run down his head with no issue, his face still, his eyes locked on the world above. Letting his hands fall to his sides, Josh begins to laugh, letting whatever breaths he can let out be his soundtrack to the next world. With a smile, the man makes peace with his fate, his laughter tiring, and his lungs emptying further than they can fill.
-> “You feeding us a story?” a voice asks, a folder slamming shut int he hands of an officer, stationed at the other end of an interrogation table. “You’re still here, so you clearly haven’t died yet” the officer persists, his words directed to a jumpsuit-wearing Josh, his head shaven almost bald, the man insisting that he never suggested that he had died. “Well it’d be hard to get out of that kind of situation alive” the officer replies, Josh nodding in agreement.
“Of course it was… This is how the story went after all” Josh continues, the officer preparing to exit. “I said no stories, Mr. Lane” the man replies, Josh assuring him that this story is exactly what happened in its exact detail. “Tell me why I should be waiting to hear what happens next, then” the officer demands, a smile across Josh’s face. “Because this is only the completion of one story...” Josh replies, the officer settling back down, “...and the continuation of a new one.” <-
Jaws practically belonging to the floor, Josh and Half stand in complete surprise, their feet unable to move as their brains struggle to keep up. Laying his mask upon one of the countless tables lining the warehouse, Alec strides his way towards Josh and Half, admitting that he’s pretty much played puppet master over everything that’s happened since well before the Pipeline even took the turn that it had.
“It wasn’t exactly easy to precisely pinpoint exactly how everything was going to happen” Alec admits, “but known how unpredictable the two of you are, I decided to use that to my advantage.” Pulling Half’s chair from his working station towards the two frozen subjects of this grand scheme he’s hatched up, Alec takes a seat and rests his arm across a random bench, beginning to tell the tale of every step his masterplan had taken.
“I guess I should begin with where I brought Half into the mix” Alec starts, watching the larger of the two men before him begin to lose his balance, forcing himself to take a seat before any further explanation can be made. “You see, when I told you to get out of the Pipeline if you had a weak stomach, I was trying to convince you to get out while you could” Alec explains, “when you chose to stay, there was no way I, alone, could get you out.”
“I knew exactly what the Pipeline was turning into, so I laid the groundwork for this alter-ego of mine…” Alec continues, Josh beginning to lean against the solders bench, “...And thus, ‘the Guardian Angel’ was born.” Explaining how he took inspiration from a random Pipeline executive that left right before the practice took a turn, Alec runs down the process of laying out little hints pointing towards him being the man beneath the mask.
“I knew I wasn’t on board with anything the process was becoming, but I knew I couldn’t do anything looking from the outside in” Alec persists, “so I start setting the pieces to cover my ass when shit started coming unglued.” Recalling the more recent turn of the Pipeline’s approach to business, Alec explains that he became the ‘weak link’ once his first wife passed away, and he essentially became a liability to the process itself.
“They were worried I’d lose my way, and I knew that even if they wouldn’t admit it” Alec continues, “but you don’t just get to retire from the Pipeline and go about the rest of your days.” Once the original man he pinned the Guardian to passed away, Alec began realizing exactly what steps he’d take if the time to make his exit from the system itself was necessary, which is when Josh took that knife to Warren Duane’s throat.
“I knew exactly who you were targeting long before I set up the three of us to meet in that bar” Alec moves along, “and I knew it would give you the opportunity you needed to, well, do your thing.” Detailing how the chess board had finally been set up the way he liked it, Alec states that the only thing left to do was start playing. “I made it a point to be ‘taken care of’ with you on my tail” Alec furthers, “any information you’d get after that would be information I wanted you to have.”
“Before all of that, I had begun plotting how to get Half involved, and when I realized that his loyalty remained with the Pipeline over anything else…” Alec continues, “...I knew what piece I wanted him to represent.” Walking over to Half’s table, Alec reaches past the man, who stares at his arm reach forward and take an erasable marker, leaving Alec to return to his seat after pulling a whiteboard over.
“The pawns are everyone I’ve managed to quietly gather on the side opposing the Pipeline” Alec explains, his detailed description of this game being visualized by lines drawn across words. “Half is the rook, he is responsible for protecting the queen” Alec continues, his eyes lifting towards Josh, who remains patiently awaiting the conclusion of this analogy. “Eliza is the queen, she was the most difficult piece to pull in” Alec continues, “she protects…”
With a pause, Alec continues writing what he has yet to verbally explain, eventually putting the cap back on the marker and using it as a pointer, directing its head towards Josh and finishing, “...the king.” Placing the writing tool on the holder, Alec explains that he had already been telling Josh what his role in this entire operation has been since day one, “you’re the king here… Every part of this plan succeeding, or failing, depends on you.”
Tying up the remaining loose ends, Alec points out knowing Half’s grudge against “Angel” would lead to distrust being sewn, which would lead to Josh wanting to know more from Half in secret, which would lead to this uncovering. “The flash drive, the photos, and yes, Buffalo… have all been connected” Alec concludes, “and since I knew you were eventually going to uncover everything, I figured I’d make sure it was at least on my own terms.”
Hands folded in his lap, Alec leans against the table with his sights firmly laid upon the pair, finishing his presentation with “any questions?” Arms crossed, his back leaning against the table much like Alec, Josh’s chin remains high, his eyes kept upon Alec as his tongue pushes the left of his lip outwards. “Yeah” Josh replies, a cartoonish nod putting a smirk on Alec’s face as the man leaves the floor open to interpretation, “I’ve got a few”
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
Busy traffic surrounding her at every angle, Eliza dons a pair of smoky sunglasses, a large black coat with a hoodie covering the top of her head. The cold temperature meaning nothing to her, Eliza simply appreciates the feeling of fresh air meeting the little skin she lets show. The freedom of being able to walk anything other than the floors of her safehouse giving her the ability to care less of where she’s going or where it may be, just being able to leave serving as enough of a trophy.
Greeted by a man sporting a beige winter coat and a dark green beanie, Eliza nods, returning the favor with her hands tucked in her pockets, and her glasses fogged by her breath. “Pipedream” Eliza mutters, the few seconds between their interaction filled with silence until those words are uttered, the response of the man residing in an intense glare towards her.
“Follow me, stay a few steps behind until we reach it” the man replies, standing from his spot and walking off into the crowd, Eliza waiting a few seconds before doing the same. Her shoulders brushing into others going about their day, Eliza remains fixated on the green beanie a few paces ahead. Apologies when her shoulder-based interactions get a little more physical at the hands on the space afforded to her not even being a thought in her head.
Within minutes, the dark green beanie enters an unmarked, rundown building, disappearing from the populated streets, her cue having been offered. Seconds later, she meets the same destination, pulling the door open and taking a few steps inside, the sight of a large staircase and two spacious rooms to either side of her all that’s left. “I would’ve picked the right” Eliza proclaims, not needing to choose before turning around to see the man hiding himself in the corner.
“Why is that?” the gentleman asks, Eliza smirking whilst reminding him that she’s not some clueless blonde that likes to roll the dice. “It’s analytical” the woman responds, “the staircase is too obvious and someone unaware of the place would expect the right.” Eyes slightened, the man asks why the right would be her choice despite it being expected. “If they expect the right, they’ll go left, so we stay on the right anyway” Eliza replies, the man applauding her thought process.
“The Guardian send you?” the man asks, Eliza’s hands finally leaving her pockets as she reminds him that she wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t. Removing his own hands, the man holds one of them outwards, offering a handshake and introducing himself. “I’m Trey” the man replies, Eliza returning the favor and offering her name as well. “So you know what our job is?” the man asks, the woman returning her hands to her pockets, “I know bits and pieces” she responds.
“So you know we’re after those cronies that snatched up your boy?” Trey asks, Eliza’s head shrugging. “I know we’re after them” the woman replies, her head remaining tilted, “I haven’t been told what we get to do with them, yet.” One hand raised with a finger pulling her into following him, Trey leads Eliza into the right wing of the building, the answers she finds herself after partially being contained within its walls.
“And you never told Jenn?” Josh asks, his questions still being asked, the conversation perhaps not even being halfway through before Half cuts in. “Why are we talking about his rebound when we just found out he used to be married!?” the man asks, Josh telling him that Jenn still had the right to know. “Well I never told her” Alec replies, his conscience supporting the guilt of his actions despite his knowledge understanding the reason behind it, “she just couldn’t find out.”
“So what happens now?” Josh asks, his hand rubbing the side of his face as the many truths finding their way to the surface become overwhelming, “we just keep pretending we didn’t bury an empty casket in an empty grave?” His head bobbing, Alec complies with the suggestion, “yes, that is exactly what we do.” Laughing to ease the tension building up, Josh shakes his head, his hands extended as he ponders what else could be said, or what task lies ahead.
“I’ve got Eliza meeting one of my best” Alec replies, “if Half is the rook, think of this guy as the bishop.” Hands thrown about the air, Josh tells Alec that he’s not familiar with chess terminology. Stepping in, Half makes it his responsibility to break it down for the man, “you’re the king, Eliza’s the queen, after that is me, this guy’s the bishop” Half explains, “all that’s left are the knight and the pawns.”
“Precisely!” Alec responds, telling Josh that every piece on the board is in play to protect him, as long as the king isn’t put in an inescapable corner, the game is not over. Collapsing into a chair, his head in his hands, Josh asks how they can get anywhere now. “Your king has already almost fucking bit it” Josh replies, “and since the king and queen are already on the kill list, who are we supposed to depend on to get inside?”
Without a word, Alec averts his eyes from Josh to Half, the man whose face already wears the effects of being caught as a traitor to the cause in hot water again before the burner can get heated up. “So the pictures were for nothing?” Half asks, Alec’s finger raised into the air, admitting that their purpose hasn’t been fully thought out, but there is a blueprint for their worth in the scheme overall.
“Never, and always remember this” Alec replies, “never will there be a time where information doesn’t have value.” Trying his best to keep himself contained, his anger and confusion turning into a potential chemical explosion waiting to happen, Josh asks specifically for the value in this information. “You got information on this guy” Alec replies, the photograph of Holland being held for the pair to see, the curiosity behind its value remaining for the moment.
“Josh is already on the ‘inside’, for lack of a better term, with the precinct” the man continues, “because of that, we know what they want because we know what that old lawyer guy has.” Eyebrows raising, Josh begins to find his way back onto the right track, “identification” the man returns, the smile on Alec’s face carrying pride. “Everything those fingers, eyeballs and teeth are worth is carried in this paper, too” Alec replies, “so we have two weights for the price of one.”
“Either a trading piece for the Pipeline…” Half begins, Josh interrupting him, finishing the second option himself, “or a way to pin the crimes on Holland.” Nodding, Alec tells the pair that the pieces are falling into place on the other side of the board as well, “your name gets cleared” Alec responds, his finger pointed toward Josh, “or we don’t have to get Half on the inside at all.”
His eyes being shared between Josh and Half, Alec admits that this is the part of the game where he holds no influence. “It’s time to make a decision” Alec responds, “spare you” he says, pointing to Josh, “or spare you” he concludes, pointing towards Half. “I’ve already decided” Josh replies, his eyes looking up towards the man with his arms crossed. “So have I” Half responds, Alec remaining in the middle, hoping the board he set up wasn’t done so on unstable ground.
“How much are you willing to bet he’s not leading us down the wrong path?” Holiday asks, the warm coffee in his hand keeping his body from shivering as he and Arcnote return to their car. “I’m not sure” the woman replies, her thumb pressing down on the button to unlock the four doors of her temporary patrol vehicle. “I’ll say this much” she continues, Holiday’s interest continuing with it, “just because he’s not guilty of this, doesn’t mean he’s cleared of everything.”
Climbing into their seats, the pair begin discussing the potential that all of this backfires in the type of way that ends careers. “The precinct is already paying very close attention to their steps” Holiday calls to mind, “all we have to do is slip up once and everything comes crashing down.” Her beverage pressed to her lips, Arcnote quietly wonders to herself if they happen to be missing anything, leaving lapses in the story go undiscovered.
“Have we connected any of this to Warren Duane, yet?” Arcnote asks, the question coming from left field, but not throwing Holiday for too much of a surprise. “Only Cerine, Lane and the Pipeline” the man returns, “other than the basic connections, there’s no specifics in there.” Nodding, Arcnote suddenly stops, her head freezing itself in place before asking Holiday what they know about the Cerine case.
With a puff of air, Holiday runs down the basics. “He was killed in the street, a car was identified, no suspect was found, and that was all” Holiday replies, the curiosity scrawled across Arcnote’s face as more questions enter her head. “How was he killed?” Arcnote proceeds, Holiday responding with the near-clarity of the man having been stabbed. Nodding, Arcnote turns towards Holiday, the man smiling as he believes her to have a new question for him to unfold.
“Did we ever find the murder weapon?” Arcnote asks, her question having been obvious, but still taking Holiday by surprise, his eyebrows lowering as he wonders whether or not it was. “I don’t believe it was” Holiday replies, the amazement on his face giving Arcnote the next steps to take. “Cerine was involved in the Pipeline, right?” Arcnote follows, Holiday confirming her suspicions.
“Get us back to the station” Arcnote returns, her face carrying the expression of someone completely certain in where to go from there, “I want a log of every car Devine ever drove in.”
Returning to the bus stop spot after the sun has gone down, Trey takes a seat beside a man dressed from head to toe in black workout attire, a gym bag beside him. “Clear me” Trey whispers, the man’s head turning in his direction, the earphone pulled from the right side of his head as he asks Trey to repeat himself. “I said ‘clear me’” Trey replies, the man’s head looking around for anyone else.
“You’re not who I’m looking for, man” the gym-dweller replies, “I don’t know what you’re looking for.” Insisting that he does, Trey orders him to hand the keys over. “Boss couldn’t get out of work in time” Trey continues, “he told me don’t trust new faces, so he gave me the work.” Returning his earbud, the man reaches for his bag and assures him that there is no shared work. “We don’t trade with unfamiliar faces, man” the guy replies, telling him to let his boss know.
Without hesitation, Trey yanks the wire out of his ear again, telling him that he will do no such thing. “You can tell my boss yourself, but I’m not going back empty handed” Trey replies, the man responding by pulling a gun from his bag and holding it between Trey’s eyes. “I don’t know who the fuck you think you’re bossing around, but it sure ain’t gonna be me!” the man shouts, Trey’s hands casually lifted in the air.
Within seconds after that declaration, a sharp blade swings down and separates the hand from the person, the fingers still clenching the trigger as the hand drops to the ground. Attempting to howl, the casually-dressed man has his mouth covered with a rag by the no longer held-at-gunpoint Trey, Eliza assisting with the tying of a band around the man’s arm. Shuffling through his pockets, Eliza retrieves a key, telling Trey that she’ll meet him back at the warehouse.
Aside from a few cars and taxis navigating the New York street system like any other night, Eliza traverses the mostly empty streets before arriving at a storage facility just within the downtown portion of New York City. With a passcode, a key and a specific storage unit number to work with, Eliza easily makes her way inside, the only task left to endure being to locate the specific unit itself.
Her phone buzzing, Eliza answers to the sound of Josh’s voice, choosing to conceal the Guardian’s identity until a more reasonable time. “I was told the hard part would be done by now” Josh states the woman on the other end suggesting the difficult part was actually locating the exact unit. When questioned, Eliza explains the key that she got from his jacket leads to the storage facility, which is news to all involved on the other end of the phone line.
“Eliza, this is Guardian” the voice on the other line informs, Alec having taken the phone from Josh upon this revelation. “You weren’t supposed to be a key, there wasn’t supposed to be a key” the man explains, “you should have pulled a flash drive off of him.” Confused, Eliza breaks down exactly what happened once again, the key to any storage unit not having been remotely close to what they expected to come across.
“Why would he have a key to a storage unit?” Josh asks, looking around the room at the concerned Half and the suddenly shocked Alec. With a return of his glance towards Alec, Josh watches the man lock eyes with him back, the unspoken realization beginning to dawn upon all three inhabitants of the room at once. “Eliza, don’t open that garage!” Josh shouts, the woman stopping in the middle of the facility upon hearing that command.
When backed by the Guardian, Eliza questions what the issue is, only to hear the Guardian demand she leave the key at the base of the door and get out of the space immediately. Hanging up the phone, the Guardian pulls free one of his plentiful burners and dials the police, anonymously reporting a questionable storage unit they happened to find a key to, suspecting there to be something criminal contained within it.
Hanging up, the Guardian tells Josh and Half that the decision needs to be made quicker than expected, the idea of what most likely resides behind the doors of that storage unit changing the game completely. “This is about to be information to much more than just this, much smaller circle of people” Alec admits, the future of this cause potentially no longer being within their hands, or within their control.
Still stood in the middle of the facility, Eliza begins returning to her search for the unit, finally stumbling across the correct section, eventually coming to face her intended destination. Looking towards the floor, Eliza holds the key in her hand, knowing what the Guardian’s instructions were, but her natural curiosity beginning to drive her motivations.
The decision literally resting in her hands, Eliza begins lifting the piece of metal towards the lock until remembering the test the Guardian had put her through. The ability to differentiate between what she should do and what she wants to do driving her motivations, Eliza does as instructed, leaving the key for whomever may come and making her escape. Climbing into her car, Eliza pulls out of the lot and drives off, soon watching flashing lights in her rear-view mirror flood the facility.
“What do you wanna do?” Alec asks, both hands pressed against the table between Josh and Half, the proof of Holland’s identity, thus record, sitting between them. “Let him have it” Josh replies, Alec’s eyebrows lifting as Josh explains his reasoning. “He’s already lost half the skin on his face, he’s more than earned it” Josh says, looking up to the man with his arms still crossed, “he doesn’t need to die for the cause, too.”
Reaching down, Half picks up the record, the effects it causes only reaching the limits it allows. In the hands of both, the record serves no leverage to the Pipeline, thus being as valuable as simply giving it to the police. In the hands of neither, the record remains invisible, lost to the investigation as a ghost. “No” Half replies, his hand moving away from his body, stretching the paper out to the man across him.
“Half, without this, you’re still running the risk of being caught from the inside” Josh explains, telling him that the document is the only way to guarantee his survival. “That’s not my role in all of this” Half replies, Josh reluctantly taking the paper as the man leans forward, his hands placed upon the table. “I have to protect the king” Half replies, Josh immediately glancing at Alec, who shrugs, the decision not one that he had any influence over.
“I’ve made my decision” Half assures, the final shred of loyalty to the Pipeline having died long ago, only now is the fear of those repercussions dying with it. “Just give me some time to set up the rest of the pieces on the other side” Half requests, his readiness to proceed with climbing to the highest position of power giving Alec the final cog in the machine left to get moving again.
“There’s going to be something” Arcnote replies, Holiday and herself scanning the parking lot, the license plates of each patrol car Devine used in the months leading to his death on a paper in Arcnote’s hands. “There’s no reason to go through all this trouble if there wasn’t a reason” Arcnote continues, “it’s a new question, there’s nothing wrong with trying to figure out if its got an answer.”
Unlocking another car, Holiday and Arcnote climb in on separate sides, anything within reach being prodded with and searched by the pair. “The last thing we need to do is get sloppy” Arcnote replies, “we don’t wanna get used to finding nothing and overlook any-” she continues, stopping in her place for a moment as she looks forward. With a glove on his hand, Holiday holds a knife by the end of it’s handle, the weapon simply stashed in the door’s side compartment.
“Where did you find that?” Arcnote asks, the simplicity of it being replied with by Holiday in disappointment, the failure to locate a murder weapon on their own grounds immeasurably heart-breaking.
“Eventful night?” Nora calls, her seat beside Josh identical to the one earlier that morning, the same bench and all beside the Hudson bay. “You should know what the answer to that is” Josh replies, his annoyed expression usually taken upon these visits replaced by one of a man without a care of the world around him, simply wishing to enjoy the sights of the waterfront.
The pair sitting beside each other, not a hateful look on either face, presents the picture of a couple enjoying the beauty of life, disturbing when paired with the note of half of said picture no longer having theirs. “I’m never going to find closure” Josh admits, his words coming unprovoked, but the admittance not coming from out of the blue waters in front of them.
“I know” Nora replies, her confession coming with a sigh, her stare remaining on the waters as Josh’s redirects to her. “You’ll never forgive yourself for what happened” Nora replies, her words carrying heavy sorrow, “that’s not why you imagine me, though.” His hand reaching out, it finds comfort on her thigh, the woman turning towards him and leading her eyes away, her sights setting on the left of the man, the one side he prefers not to picture.
-> “It doesn’t have to go like this!” Nora cries, watching Josh pull his gun up from his side and steady his hand. Continuing to plead, Nora’s hopes fall on deaf ears as a shot fires, the burst of light from the gun reflecting in the water as another bullet fires. Startled, Josh’s hand shakes, the trigger held between the skin of his right index finger clattering as he slightly jolts it from one side to the other.
Her mouth agape, Nora leans forward, her feet still stretched to the ground as her eyes plead unspoken hopes to Josh. Her words coming across his hushed puffs, Nora’s left foot steps forward, her right remaining tailed behind as her right hand moves behind her back. “Josh…” Nora whimpers, her body weight thrusting itself forward until she collapses into Josh’s arms, the gun in his hand squeezing through the space between her arm and the left side of her body.
His chin resting on her shoulder, Josh notices the body behind her struggling to keep its arm up, the life not fully drained from its body. With one shot, Josh drains the final few drops of fight it had within it, the gun collapsing with the hand that holds it. Throwing his gun to the side, Josh turns Nora over, his hands pressing against the wound in the center of her back as her hands lose the grip they hold his shirt within.
“Don’t go like this, Nora” Josh pleads, “don’t leave me, please!” her continues, the tears in his eyes being held off by the fruitless efforts to keep the fight within her alive. Within seconds, the final ounce she has takes a bow, exiting the stage, leaving her body to go limp and he fingers to fall from his shirt collar. The woman cradled in his arms, Josh’s words fail to make any coherent sense, the brain not fully comprehending what just occurred. <-
“You didn’t pull the trigger, but you might as well have” Nora replies, her hand reaching out to pull his face back, her eyes losing themselves in his and vice-versa. “I was too sloppy” Josh replies, “if I covered my tracks well enough, you’d still be here.” Her lips puckering, Nora nods, admitting the truth behind that mindset. “You want me to forgive you, but I can’t” Nora replies, her eyes beginning to tear, “because the truth is there’s nothing to forgive.”
His head hung, Josh is encouraged by the figmentation to keep his chin lifted, her finger propping it up. “You’ll never be able to find love and continue your work” Nora reminds, making it clear to Josh that her purpose is directly rooted in that truth, “what happened to me was the lesson you needed to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Pulling his face away, Josh looks back to the spot to his left, no recollection remaining to be seen. Returning to the right, Nora has vanished, the man left to his own on the bench, the only thing keeping him company being the cold air and the rushing waters. Picking his hands up, Josh looks to them for a moment before cupping them together, letting them fall into his lap as he looks back out into the water, making peace with himself and what has to come next.
“Any reason you choose to come back here?” Nora asks, her voice lifting the hairs on the back of Josh’s neck as her sits peacefully on the stone bench by the waterside. “Because I knew you’d follow me” Josh replies, his breath whisking in air, swirling around itself. “You can think me into thin air anytime you’d like” Nora replies, her face turned towards the side of Josh’s head, his stare remaining tied to the calming waves crashing into the concrete barrier.
“It’s not as fulfilling if I just get to pull you up on my command” Josh replies, his face remaining firmly against moving in any singular direction. “So why did you pull me here?” Nora asks, sitting on one leg as her left arm drapes over the back of the bench, her shoulder padding her head as her chin rests against it. “I need closure” Josh replies, the woman’s expression remaining unchanged, “I need to stop blaming myself for what happened to you.”
To his right, the visualization of the one woman he failed to protect, even in spite of promising her otherwise. To his left, the scene of the events that unfolded, the play-by-play he imagines, with or without the personification of Nora’s ghost. “Why do you get to have closure?” Nora asks, her free fingers walking from Josh’s arm up to his shoulder, “what gives you the right to move on?”
“I didn’t kill you” Josh replies, his head finally turning, his eyes locking onto the woman, the worry that this imagery will turn into an abuse of art no longer within him. “I wasn’t the person that pulled you into anything, and I wasn’t the person that pulled the trigger” Josh replies, “I get to move on because I’ve been standing still out of regret.” Her head removing itself from its rest upon her shoulder, Nora’s eyebrows lift, her intention to challenge the beliefs she and Josh share.
“If you weren’t responsible, why would you hold yourself to this kind of torment?” Nora asks, her hand removing itself from his shoulder, finding comfort upon his lap. “I could have done things differently, but I didn’t” Josh replies, “you’re responsible for digging too far into everything, but you’d still be here if I was a little more careful!” Confused, Nora asks the man why he believes the answer in finding peace lies within his ties to her.
“Because I know I’m holding myself accountable too much” Josh replies, his words holding confidence, “because there’s still no way I could’ve done things differently without hindsight.” Her shoulders shrugging, Nora tells Josh that it would be easy to forgive himself if it were that simple, only for Josh to snipe back with refusal. “I loved you, and now you’re gone” Josh admits, his eyes losing track of time within hers, “and I just didn’t notice something sooner when I should have.”
Her hands reaching to each side of his face, Nora gently moves it away, directing it to the other side as his eyes remain towards hers until they fall away. Every inch his head moves, Josh begins to notice a small trail of blood drops grow larger and more plentiful. “I don’t want to” Josh replies, already aware of what his eyes are bound to find, Nora’s insistance of its necessity with her whisper of “you have to” forcing him to accept the inevitable.
-> “It doesn’t have to go like this!” Nora cries, watching Josh pull his gun up from his side and steady his hand. Continuing to plead, Nora’s hopes fall on deaf ears as a shot fires, the burst of light from the gun reflecting in the water as another bullet fires. Startled, Josh’s hand shakes, the trigger held between the skin of his right index finger clattering as he slightly jolts it from one side to the other.
Her mouth agape, Nora leans forward, her feet still stretched to the ground as her eyes plead unspoken hopes to Josh. Her words coming across his hushed puffs, Nora’s left foot steps forward, her right remaining tailed behind as her right hand moves behind her back. “Josh…” Nora whimpers, her body weight thrusting itself forward until she collapses into Josh’s arms, the gun in his hand squeezing through the space between her arm and the left side of her body. <-
“Goodnight” a whisper comes from behind, his memories fading as he feels himself shift back into the moment as if he were falling out of a dream. “Who’s-” Josh begins, his head turning around to see a hand flying towards his face, the impact sending his head flying back, and his body falling off the bench. Pebbles from the ground sticking to the side of his head, Josh plants his hands to the ground and attempts to stand, his efforts quashed by the kicks of three others.
Before he can take a second to figure out what’s going on, his attempts to stand turn into attempts to shield himself from attackers, their collective force laying in kicks throughout every area of his body. “Lay them into him well!” the voice of an unfamiliar voice commands, the specifics of it remaining unclear as a number of kicks find their spot in the back of his head and neck.
“Now get him up and put him in!” the voice orders, giving the signal for the assailants to lift Josh’s full body weight in such a fashion that none of his extremities remain touching the ground. Within the matter of seconds, Josh goes from shielding his face from an assortment of blows to being thrown with reckless abandon into the cushioned compartment of an unknown vehicle.
Further inaudible orders come across as muffles from outside the metal contraption keeping him inside, Josh feels the vehicle suddenly begin forcefully moving in one direction before jolting the opposite way. The events taking such blatant turns, Josh begins punching whatever he can feel within reach, shouting for someone to assist him. Under the cover of the early morning dark, Josh is swept away, his body remaining captured within the cramped confines of a sedan trunk.
“Yes, hello?” a voice answers, watching the events unfold beneath the cover of night as the car’s tail light speed off into whatever awaits. “Yes, I’d like to report a crime” the voice replies, the figures on the other end beginning to take down the information as is it afforded to them. “I believe I just witnessed Joshua Lane get kidnapped along the Hudson Bay…” the voice continues, immediately responding to higher levels of concern on the other end.
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
“Greetings” Eliza mutters, her voice depressing as the backdoor swings open, the Guardian walking in with a plastic shopping bag in hand. “You seem glum” the Guardian remarks, his steps taking him into the kitchen, his eyes noticing the woman with her face still stricken towards the television. “You’re a shitty detective if you think I only seem glum” Eliza replies, the Guardian assuring her that it’s within his best interest not to start applying for the precinct’s ‘help wanted’ posters.
The woman not laughing, she stands from her seat and walks towards the kitchen, her hands immediately reaching for and sifting through the bag. “How have you held up since the other day?” the Guardian asks, Eliza telling him that she’s been the same as she has been since she was first locked in. “I’m just wasting my days” Eliza replies, her hopes draining as the chore of not putting herself in the ground becomes the main concern.
“As I’ve said for the past number of days” the Guardian replies, “figure out a way to prove that you’ve got yourself under control.” Her eyes jolting to the side, Eliza returns to herr composed, dead-eyed mood and informs the Guardian that she’s still figuring out a way to prove that. “Well, I hope for your sake that you figure something out soon” the Guardian remarks, his fingers sifting through the bag as Eliza walks to the sink.
After a few moments, the towering figure begins feeling as if something is off, the silence unnatural even with a room only shared by the most lifeless person he can think of. Before long, he begins piecing this together, his head turning at the exact moment that Eliza lunges towards him, the kitchen knife in her hand plunging through the air. With a side-step, the man watches the blade sink into the wooden tabletop, his elbow instinctively finding the soft spot between the woman’s eyes.
“This is not how you prove that, Eliza” the figure replies, her hands reaching up to his belt to pull herself up. Eventually, the woman gives in, her hands throwing her weight back, leaving her sprawled out on the tile floor as the Guardian confiscates the blade and returns for his exit. “Get it together, girl” the Guardian remarks, his feet tapping across the floor with each step as the woman follows closely behind.
Falling short of her desperate attempt to play catch up, Eliza collapses to the floor, tripping over herself as the Guardian swings the door shut. Immediately, the woman climbs up and begins slamming on the surface, the outline of the Guardian’s figure creating a shadow on the covered window as he walks away. Within seconds, Eliza backs into the door and slides to the floor, her hair falling over her face as she remains locked inside her prison cell.
Waiting a few minutes, her breath building up as she does, the woman begins smiling, her frizzled hair sticking to her teeth as her eyes become lively. Her fist closed, Eliza watches the keys dangle from the chain she managed to sneak away from the figure himself, her freedom residing in the swing of metal right before her eyes.
Head wrapped in a sack, Josh’s arms and legs remain restrained against a metal chair, his mouth muffled by the rag pulled between his teeth. Unable to speak, his breathing only bearable when the punishment halts, the man groans as the preparations he can only hear play out with no say in what comes next. Knowing this torture isn’t over, Josh notices the light begin to fade, the silhouette of a man approaching, and braces for the boot that shoves him, by the chest, backwards.
His head colliding with the concrete beneath him, Josh feels everything go numb, his brain rattling against the sides of his skull as water begins swishing around in a bucket. Aware of what is to come, Josh holds whatever breath he can catch, the sensation of the sack over his face dampening further by the second forcing him into small, subtle spasms.
After nearly two minutes of this water boarding stopping and starting again, the chair, and Josh himself, are lifted back onto its legs. “I want you to notice what kind of man he is, okay?” the voice from before says, instructing the unknown individual to remember everything Josh has seen and done. “He’s someone that deserves everything that’s coming to him” the voice concludes, the sound of electricity beginning to power up sending the panic even further into Josh’s heart.
“When we tell you to take action, you musn’t hesitate” the voice continues, snapping towards the unknown figure to ensure their attention remains solely within their own possession. “You have the choice of this man, this very cruel and vile man, or your freedom” the voice concludes, “the decision is in your hands.”
The equipment trading hands, the figure instructs the unknown individual to continue forward, instructing her not to fear delivering death. His struggle noticed, Josh groans angrily, sending the emotions he feels coursing through his body in the direction of every ear in the room. The equipment meeting such a way that creates shocks of electric overload, Josh’s fate seems seeled until something catches everyone inside the echo-inducing space by surprise.
“Clear out, everyone” the main figure orders, “we’ll take this up at another time” as the rushing footsteps begin sprawling throughout the flat. His headache bringing on a level of nausea, Josh’s senses return to full alert when the sound of the main figure’s voice whispering in his ear manages to take over everything. “You haven’t seen the best of us, yet” the whisper threatens, it’s form walking off with the rest of its friends and leaving Josh in his restraints to whatever comes next.
Now left in silence, Josh listens intently to the blaring alarms coming from the near-distance. In the matter of a few seconds, conflicting shouts begin closing in, finally finding the hefty garage door splitting Josh away from the outside world. “We’ve got someone!” one man shouts, the light of the room now being shared with the flashing of red and blue.
Hours after his suffering began, it ends with a soaked burlap sack being ripped from his head, and an equally damp rag being pulled from the clutches on his teeth. “Cut him loose!” the officers order, his restraints being released allowing him to collapse forward, his exhaustion overtaking his body as the room begins spinning. With a call for medical assistance, Josh realizes his life to be spared for the moment, every plan being threatened without quick action.
“What do you think?” Holiday asks, the door to Josh’s hospital room closing as Arcnote joins him in the hallway. “I know this wasn’t something staged” Arcnote replies, her conversation with Josh from a few nights prior remaining unmentioned to any of her peers. “I’m more curious of who called this in than anything else” Holiday admits, “they didn’t leave any information, and they didn’t wait at the scene for police to arrive.”
“They made it clear to mention Josh by name as well” Arcnote adds, the suspicions immediately being cast towards anyone still associated with the case. His back to the wall, Holiday stares towards the ceiling and sighs, any answers being obtained accompanied by three new question to match it. “We keep trying to put this puzzle together, but it just keeps getting bigger” Holiday states, his head lowering to Arcnote, who remains fixated in the man struggling to climb out of bed.
“Can I tell you something off the record?” Arcnote asks, the exhaustion on Holiday’s face immediately being wiped away as intrigue replaces it. Running down her late night conversation with Josh in the hospital cafeteria, Arcnote makes a point out of taking Josh at his word. “There’s no reason to confess to involvement if your own wrong-doing in it is still left undiscovered” Arcnote argues, “if he’s telling the truth, our suspects go from three to two.”
“Well which two are they?” Holiday asks, the question remaining the single roadblock cutting them off from the entirety of the road ahead. “Is there a reason that old guy, whatever his name is, would’ve done exactly what he did?” Holiday asks, still holding hope for being able to explain the seemingly irrational. “What would we find if we entered his prints? Or documented his eyes, or ran his dentals?” Holiday asks, his hopes set something clear looming just out of reach.
“If it’s just out of reach, perhaps there’s a way to extend our reach a little?” Arcnote asks, the question not raising alarms in Holiday at first, only for the sirens to go off in a blast suddenly. “You’re not suggesting bringing him into this, are you?” Holiday asks, anxiety flushing through his body, turning his skin pale as Arcnote insists they’ve run low on options.
“One suspect on the loose, a woman in distress vanished with the wind, and unsolvable questions” Arcnote replies, “what other choice are we left with?” His sights wandering anywhere other than on Arcnote, Holiday tells the woman to make sure any fallout finds its way back to her own shoulders. Returning to Josh’s room, the pair watch the man argue with nurses to allow him to sign himself out of care, insisting that he can look after himself.
“We’ll sign him into our care” Arcnote cuts in, the argument immediately stopping as the nurses ask Josh if he, as the patient, is accepting of that offer. “Sure” the man replies, requesting the necessary paper work as Arcnote and Holiday approach. “Am I being arrested?” Josh asks, defiantly sticking his hands towards the pair, awaiting the cold cuffs to be slapped on his jailed-in-waiting wrists.
“We need your help” Arcnote replies, the suggestion of the establishment he works in secret away from requesting help from within hushing him. “Have you run out of that many resources down there that I’m your best option for a consultant?” Josh asks, Arcnote offering to go with whatever he suggests the reasoning to be. With the obvious question asked, Arcnote and Holiday acknowledge themselves to be the only ones with knowledge of the prior night’s conversation.
“So I confess to murder, and god knows how many other counts of other things, and you expect me to help you without further question?” Josh asks, Arcnote’s head nodding. “Okay, sure” josh replies, taking the pen from the nurse right as she walks in the door and signing the papers afforded to him. “Where to first?” the man asks, a generic white t-shirt and gray sweatpants left in a box for him to begin a new assignment with.
Birds chirping beneath a cold, but sunny New York morning, the Guardian marches to the back door of Eliza’s flat and grinds to a halt when he turns the corner. In front of his eyes, the backdoor appears wide open, the only force keeping Eliza from the outside world no longer at play. Racing inside, the figure finds the flat completely empty, his hands reaching for his head as he mentally beats himself for such a mistake.
“You seem distressed” a woman’s voice calls out, the Guardian turning around to find Eliza against the wall, the figure’s keys dangling from her outstretched fingers. “You-” the Guardian starts, unable to find the correct phrasing to put his thoughts into before the woman tosses his keys to him, their rightful home returned to them via the embrace of their rightful owner.
“You didn’t expect me to think I could just stab you and get this over with, right?” Eliza asks, the gun in her waistband being placed onto the table in the middle of the living room. “I still need you to give me something to do” Eliza reminds, “what’s the point of going on if we’re not still fighting for something?”
His hands against his hips, the figure congratulates the woman on managing to get one over on him, especially in spite of everything that worked against her. Not caring for the celebration or the pat on the back, Eliza walks up to the figure and tells him to give her what she has earned. “I know what I’m doing and I’m more than able to handle myself” the woman asserts, “give me something to do and let me out of this fucking place.”
His stare redirecting from the woman to the backdoor still left wide open, the Guardian pulls her hand out and drops the keys into her palm. “When you need a place to stay, you come here” the Guardian replies, his rundown giving the woman all she needs for relief to flood her head. “You still need to stay low” the Guardian concludes, reminding her of the kill list, “but keep holed up here and I’ll get you something to do soon.”
Returning to his exit, the Guardian wishes the woman luck and closes the automatic-locking door behind him, leaving the woman to enjoy her newfound freedom in peace.
“So you’re telling me they’ve both disappeared, and they’re carrying parts of this guys body around with them?” Josh asks, the ludicrous suggestion holding complete accuracy. “And to make matters worse, there were no results for ‘Holland Breckenridge’ anywhere in the system” Holiday adds, suggesting that everyone other than Josh in the case has the same public presence as a ghost.
“Are you working with the Pipeline?” Holiday asks, the need to clarify being built into his DNA. “No, and if I have my way, there’s not going to be a ‘Pipeline’ for very much longer” Josh replis, Arcnote waving off that response, begging him not to give them a reason to book and process him. “And you still have no idea why he was with Becca for that long?” Josh asks, refusal acting as the main response once more.
“So what do you do now?” Josh asks, the officers running down the method of looking for prints or any other giveaways in that depot backlot the found Josh prisoner within as their only feasible course of action. “You can’t play by those rules” Josh replies, his impatience only made worse by his experience over the past twenty-four hours, “if you wait for even a second too long, she’ll be dead or they’ll be gone or something else will happen.”
“We’re doing our best, but whenever we make progress, we keep getting forced back to level one” Holiday replies, asking Josh to point them in any direction that could help change that. Rubbing the sides of his head, Josh begins wondering about the person that made the phone call. Requesting to hear the call itself, Josh waits patiently for the portion where the caller themselves speak.
Upon the uttering of the first word, Josh feels the hairs on the back of his neck lift, the clarity of the voice immediately falling in familiar territory. “They made sure to name you specifically” Arcnote adds, “they wanted the officers to act quickly.” Insisting that a spurt of the moment call wouldn’t have thought to mention Josh’s name in such a certain tone, Holiday ponders over the possibility of it being someone aware of it being more than just a kidnap for ransom.
Knowing exactly who the voice belongs to, Josh asks for a repeat of the audio, the question of whether or not he knows the voice immediately following the second playback. “No, I’ve never heard it before” Josh replies, the knowledge of the source being hidden from those with an agenda separate of his own, “but it does sound familiar.”
Sporting goggles and a welders mask, Half continues his work on one of many projects until the sparks flying from metal dies off, his own voice being returned to him. Lifting the mask, Half notices Josh walking into his warehouse entrance, his phone replaying the audio of his phone call to police. “You saw me at the Hudson edge” Josh calls, Half responding by placing his torch down and removing his gloves.
“You knew they were going to grab me and you did nothing to stop it” Josh furthers, his accusation not being argued by the man, who instead walks over to his fridge and pulls out the ingredients to a sandwich. “I think you forget that I’m still in the Pipeline” Half replies, “there’s a level of cover that I have to maintain.” His arms extended, Josh asks why his cover needed to be maintained at his own expense, putting a smile on Half’s face.
“You think it’d be a smart move to argue against off-ing those on the kill list?” Half asks, begging for Josh to smarten up. “I knew where you were going, I know the fun they take before getting the job done and I knew you’d be fine” Half continues, the butter knife in his hand smearing peanut butter across the bread as Josh walks closer.
“You didn’t have any guarantee that I’d make it out of there alive” Josh replies, Half turning around to promise him that he pulled the best card he had available to play. “Am I just supposed to be alright with that?” Josh asks, “accept that if put in the same position, you’d do the exact same fucking thing?” His head turning towards the angered man, Half runs the knife into the jar of jam and takes the same process as the peanut butter before it.
“You should be, yes” Half replies, the finishing touches of putting the two sides of bread together being taken before the sandwich itself is lifted towards his mouth. Before the first bite can be taken, Josh lifts his slightly uncoordinated hand into the air and swipes down, the only remnants of the sandwich left in Half’s hands being the torn crust in his finger tips. “Guess what?” Josh responds, “I’m not!”
Shrugging, Half replies “you should be” as he reaches for the bread bag and slides out another two pieces. “The folder, it’s by the boat” Half continues, his head jolting towards the corner of his shop where a legitimate boat resides, the manila folder left on a desk just beside it. Pulling the folds open, Josh reads in-depth reports on the pair of individuals he left uncovering in the hands of Half.
In addition, a sticky note is pasted to the front of a third report, this one coming without a picture to match. ‘For gifting me the flash drive, I thought I’d throw in something special’ the sticky note reads, Josh reading it aloud, it’s conclusion signalling an explanation from Half. “I thought I’d drop it off at your safe house one of these nights” Half states, finally able to take the first bite of his sandwich, “it was worth more than both the others combined.”
“It’s about the one that coordinated that attack on you” half replies when asked for the reason, “I thought you’d wanna know what to look for in the person that whisked you away.” Running down the information afforded to him, Josh begins wondering where the original two people fit into the puzzle, prompting Half to begin breaking it down for him.
Taking the folder, Half pulls up the photo of a man, the timeframe of its original date taken dating back to the early 2000’s. “Is there anything familiar about this guy to you?” Half asks, holding the photo up to Josh’s eyes before the man begins tilting his head back. “You can’t be serious, can you?” Josh replies, the hint to really give it thought offering Josh both a weird sense of relief and a strange concern.
“That, my sight-challenged friend, is a pre-surgery Holland Breckenridge” Half replies, citing the altered facial structure as the cause for the oversight. “Back then, he went by the name Aleister Shoemaker” Half continues, “which was his actual, legitimate name.” Amazed at the findings, Josh begins turning his wonder onto the second photograph, the young woman pictured within the confines of the picture’s border remaining unfamiliar even with a closer inspection.
“I’ve never seen her before” Josh replies, his eyes leaving the photograph before stumbling upon Half’s look of concern. “It wasn’t difficult to dig anything up on her since I used to know her” Half replies, Josh beginning to watch the expression on Half’s face turn somber. “She passed away a few years ago, but you might want to read the report for the crucial part” Half continues, leaving the man and returning to his sandwich, the tears being swept from under his eyes.
The paper clutched in his hands beginning to bend as his fingers clench tighter, Josh looks up over the folder’s brim and watches Half lean over his table in the back of the shop. “This can’t be” Josh remarks, the man in the distance looking over his shoulder with a depressed look. “I’m afraid it is” Half replies, taking in a deep breath before admitting that he didn’t know how he didn’t notice it sooner.
“I didn’t even make the connection at first, I just recognized the face” Half says, correctly predicting Josh to keep his eyes glued on the woman’s donor information. “That’s Angel’s ex-wife” Half confesses, Josh’s eyes constantly gazing over the label of ‘Organs: to Preservation of Life, Guardian Angel Stations” repeatedly, the mixture of her name added in just to top it off.
“When I opened the flash drive, it all made sense” Half continues, his turn bringing him face to face with Josh before walking back to the man. “You’re wrong, at least that theory of yours was” Half continues, “Angel didn’t sell out Alec Cerine.” His head shaking, Josh continues to mutter the word ‘no’ as he walks away, telling Half not to say anything close to what he believes him to be near saying.
“I don’t want to hear it!” Josh shouts, his back turned to the man, who insists that he needs to hear it said aloud. “It can’t be possible,I fucking saw it happen!" Josh shouts, the anger in his voice only matched by Half’s disappointment to have never seen this coming. “You didn’t because it didn’t” Half replies, Josh’s face lifting up to meet Half’s as the larger man acknowledges what makes less sense than anything else he’s encountered.
“Your Guardian Angel couldn’t have sold out Alec Cerine…” Half starts, Josh clenching his teeth for the sentence’s conclusion, “because your Guardian Angel is Alec Cerine.”
Footsteps resonating from the warehouse’s entry, Josh and Half glance towards the open air and watch the Guardian enter with the beak of his mask aimed towards the two. With a deep breath, the figure reaches behind his head and unties the binds keeping the mask on, letting it drop from his face, hanging via the ties in the clutches of his fist. Finally revealed, Alec Cerine stands, live and in color, eyes directed towards the pair.
“I guess this is the part where I explain myself” Alec proclaims, a smile spreading across his face as Half and Josh, though having expected it, stare in amazement at the sight they never thought they’d see, nor share.
“Just get back to me” Josh commands, his words ending a heated phone call as he wanders around New York City. “Those chips are starting to fall into place” Nora whispers, her presence putting an immediate disgust on Josh’s face, her figure not even needing to be seen in order to induce it. “I’d prefer not to have you narrate it as they’re still mid-fall” Josh replies, reminding Nora that he already has it bad enough without her voice constantly swirling in his ear.
“It’s fun to watch you crumble” Nora replies, the glee in her tone aggravating the man still refusing to turn in her direction, “your nose starts crinkling and your left eye starts twitching.” Throwing a beanie over his head and buttoning up his windbreaker, Josh turns off the main street and enters a homeless shelter, the ghost of his former lover still lingering behind, taunting him at every opportunity.
Blending into the shuffling boots soaked in rain water and mud, Josh ascends a staircase towards the third story, his eyes wandering each end of the hall as he meets his floor. “You’ll never truly be free until you accept what you’ve done” Nora prods, her words being brushed off as his focus on finding his intended door manages to drown out the sounds. “The more you run, the weaker you’ll be when you have to stop” Nora continues, following Josh to the end of the hall.
“I don’t have to run because there’s nothing to run away from” Josh replies, his attention directing itself to one side of the hall. “The longer you deny it, the longer it’ll take to get to” Nora remarks, Josh turning his face towards hers as he presses his hand on his selected entry. “I’m moving on from you” Josh responds, “you don’t control me.” Amused, Nora leans into his ear and whispers, “clearly I do since you’re still imagining me.”
Rather than fight the figment, Josh reaches for the door and opens it, walking into an near-empty room, the only contents of it being a bare mattress and a pizza box in the kitchen. “Hello!?” Josh calls out, his request for any response from something other than his dead lover falling on absent ears, his signal to sit and wait being offered. Approaching a shade-less window, Josh looks out at the Hudson riverfront, appreciating the rippling waves from afar.
The gloomy sky sporting a dark gray allows for the rain to cover the dreary day, leaving Josh to look out at similar imagery to his own personal crisis. His eyes wandering from one side of the window to the other, Josh begins to latch onto an electronic billboard just above the street’s most populated bus stop. His attention locking on at the right time, the picture of an almost elderly man being called for by the local precinct manages to spark a match in Josh’s head.
After roughly one minute of taking new intentions and routes into consideration in his head, Josh hears the door swing open, a familiar man entering the room to share his company. “I’m glad you wanted to speak with me again” the man says, Josh informing him that they never got the proper chance to discuss matters the night before. “You wanted me to call you ‘Half’, correct?” Josh asks, the man taking off his hat and bowing forward.
“What do you wish to touch on first?” Half asks, watching Josh glance out at the electronic billboard once more before replying “from the top.” Nodding, “very well” Half responds, his hat and coat being draped over an empty counter as Josh begins to smile.
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
“Mind elsewhere?” the Guardian calls, his voice spooking Eliza, appearing from the back entry of the flat as she rolls her spoon around the milk in her cereal bowl. “You can use the front door!” Eliza calls, her appreciation of being startled in such a fashion non-existent. “Then I wouldn’t be able to catch you in your natural habitat” the Guardian replies, picking up a dry waffle from beside the woman, shrugging before pulling it beneath his mask and taking a bite.
“You just doing another welfare check?” Eliza asks, “or are you here to take my gun?” The beak of his mask shaking, the Guardian tells Eliza that her choice is completely in her hands. “Neither Josh, no myself, can tell you anything that will bring you the peace you need to fight after this is all said and done” the Guardian responds, “if that’s the decision you make, so be it… But it’s not blood that I’ll be sporting on my hands.”
“You dragged me into this mess” Eliza replies, frustrated at the Guardian’s complete lack of willingness to see himself as the cause of any of this. “No, Josh dragged you into this” the Guardian replies, watching Eliza’s face shrivel in refusal, “he just used you to do it.” Lifting the waffle closer to his mouth, Eliza swats at his hand, knocking the disc across the room to the disappointment of the figure standing before her.
“That was uncalled for” the Guardian replies, his disapproval upstaged by Eliza’s hands pressing against his chest, shoving him back a few paces. “Take some accountability!” Eliza shouts, her hands continuing to shove the Guardian back as the figure remains silently posed over her. Before long, Eliza switches her efforts, removing them from shoving the Guardian away and, instead, directing them towards the mask.
His hand shooting from his side, the Guardian snatches Eliza’s arm before it can make contact and holds it there, the sockets in the mask for his eyes revealing them to be widened towards her. Not one to surrender her efforts easily, Eliza takes her free hand and reaches to do the same, the Guardian’s free hand following the exact movements as his first.
“Please, Eliza” the Guardian asks, his tone still patient and forgiving, though edging closer into the territory of demanding with each momentary show of restraint from the woman. “Please, what?” the woman asks, her lips pulling together before shooting a line of spit straight through the eyehole, the saliva running down the side of his face behind the mask’s covering.
With a deep breath, the Guardian forces the woman back towards the wall with ease, his hands refusing to give up any hold as he pulls her forward and leaves her to slide across the kitchen floor. “Don’t test my patience” the Guardian requests, the woman refusing to take any of his suggestions into account, the adrenaline of being able to fight the root of her problems proving too much to allow her to think rationally.
The tops of her feet pressing against the floor, Eliza throws herself forward, the Guardian immediately side-stepping, allowing Eliza to run her shoulder through the dry wall behind him. “Don’t make a stupid mistake, Eliza” the Guardian orders, his voice no longer holding any compassion, instead insisting the woman do as he says. Stubborn, Eliza charges at the man again, her efforts for nothing once more as he lays a clean strike to the left of her eye.
Her body colliding with the linoleum tiles below, Eliza hops back to her feet as if nothing had happened, again pursuing the man who has switched mindsets inside his head. Another failed effort, Eliza finds the Guardian’s knee colliding with the bridge of her nose, forcing her to fall back to the ground with a more resounding thud than before. “I don’t want to have to ask you again” the Guardian persists, watching the woman use the hand not holding her face to push herself up.
“Eat shit” Eliza replies, her words holding vigor as her feet remain planted, her efforts to take the Guardian down subsiding for the moment. “You need to learn how to keep this anger under control” the Guardian insists, reaching for a half-drunken water bottle and tossing it to the woman. His hand on her shoulder, the Guardian leads Eliza back into her seat as he retrieves an icepack, handing it over after wrapping it in paper towels.
“The only thing you’ve got left before you put that gun to your head is what we do here” the Guardian acknowledges, “but I can’t let you get back out there when you can’t control yourself.” Her non-covered eye lifting towards the figure, Eliza asks him to simply inform her what to do to get herself out of this condo. “You need to prove to me that you can handle yourself” the Guardian replies, “keep yourself in check before you get your shit pushed in again.”
With that statement, the Guardian exits the flat through the front entry, the woman left to her own vices at her kitchen table once more. Her eyes wandering from one side of the room to the other, Eliza picks up her cereal bowl and empties its contents into the sink, returning to the couch with the cold pack still pressed against her face.
Her hand pressing the phone in her hand back onto the receiver, Arcnote drops her hand into her arm as Holiday approaches her with a carrier of coffee. “Another sleepless night?” Holiday asks, the woman peaking her head up to graciously accept the drinks, confirming his suspicions. “Four days, and I can’t get more than thirty minutes of sleep without waking myself up again” Arcnote replies, her dreams consisting of the gruesome sights from days prior.
“Get yourself some sleeping pills” Holiday replies, telling her that he’s been forced to start using them in order to keep his head on the pillow. “It’s not a sight that’ll be any easier to remember” Holiday continues, his twitching hand resting on the metal desktop, “but we’ve gotta get some sleep somehow.” Accepting defeat to her own sleep cycle, Arcnote promises she’ll try to get sleep when she gets home tonight, the man refusing to allow her any more time without it.
“You may be my superior, but that doesn’t mean I can’t order you to do something when it’s for the best” Holiday jokes, “go home and try to sleep. Come back ready for tomorrow.” With a smile on her face, Arcnote gives in, allowing Holiday to breathe a sigh of relief as she stands up and grabs her coat. Handing her a bottle he expected to give her anyway, Holiday instructs her to take two pills a night before letting her leave with a pat on the shoulder.
“I’ll see you in the morning” Arcnote replies, her hair falling over her shoulders as she makes her way to the garage entrance. Upon her return home, Arcnote carelessly throws her jacket over a dining room table and lets her briefcase fall onto the couch. Once asleep, the woman begins to toss and turn, her body tensing up as her worried recollections force her to spasm. Eventually, the woman jolts awake, her mind struggling to consider the hours of sleep she had accumulated as being worth it.
Looking towards her bedroom window, Arcnote notices the day having turned to night, the rain having refused to stop in the time between. Her beside lamp being flicked on, the warm yellow light splashes her wall as she reaches for her phone, the contrast of the cold, white screen calling for a brief transition on her eyes. ‘You there?’ a notification bubble reads, a man’s name above the text putting a half smile on the face of the woman still trying to calm her nerves.
Swiping her finger across the screen, Arcnote replies with a humorous and bubbly ‘yes’, her phone being carried by her side as she steps out of bed. A warm cardigan being pulled over her shoulders, Arcnote walks through the passage between her bedroom and her living space, the warm yellow light quickly turning into a cool, brisk deep blue mixed with the natural shadows of the light-less night.
“Good evening” a man greets from her couch, the woman leaping back at the immediate surprise, her phone falling to the floor and cracking upon impact. Her back pressing against the wall, Arcnote’s mouth widens when her eyes finally stumble upon the voice’s origin. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you” the voice informs, the calm nature behind it making the interaction all the more eery, “this seemed like the only way to talk to you without having to be at the precinct.”
“What are you doing in my house?” the woman asks, her voice trembling with fear in the opposite manner of the figure’s. “I don’t mean you any harm” the figure replies, “I know you’ve wanted to speak with me, so this was the safest way for both of us that I could make that happen in.” His ankles crossing over each other, Josh informs Arcnote that he will remain seated, and will only stand to his feet when he believes he is ready to leave.
“I know you have your firearm in that briefcase” Josh informs, watching Arcnote’s eyes lock onto her bag, “you’re free to take it, and hold it in my direction, if it makes you feel safer.” Taking the man up on his word, Arcnote inches her hand out and picks up her bag, pulling the weapon from it and holding it by her hip, the barrel aimed at Josh. “This conversation takes place between you and me” Josh says, “my one rule is that what I say to you in this moment is said in confidence.”
Her chin high enough for her eyes to stare over it at the lowest level of her eyelids, Arcnote pulls a chair from her kitchen out to sit upon. “I’m going to answer all of your questions honestly, and I’m going to tell you things that you’d otherwise not get anywhere else” Josh continues, asking Arcnote if she’s ready. With a subtle nod, Arcnote watches Josh fold his hands, his left foot bouncing in anticipation as he responds, “let’s begin.”
“His entire life depends on completing this” Half replies, his hands pointed forward as they collide with the countertop surface, illustrating his point. “He felt wronged by them, like he was forced to leave everything behind because he didn’t agree with their ideology” Half continues, “and now everything for him, from life to death, depends on the downfall of the Pipeline as it currently stands.”
“So where does that leave your point?” Josh asks, the picture blurring with every new detail mixed in, “if I’m in danger of my end of the bargain not being delivered, what would he need me for after?” His eyes lowering, Half replaces his stare with a disappointed frown, “he wouldn’t because there wont be an after.” Running down the list of rivals that have faced the Pipeline from the other team, Half reveals the long list to be completely discarded of with the exception of Guardian and himself.
“I stand for what Angel’s working for, I truly do” Half admits, his hatred for Josh’s guardian not encompassing his understanding of the bigger picture, “but I don’t agree with the way he works for it.” Telling Josh the short story of how regular interactions with the Pipeline go, Half informs him that there are very few, if any scenarios, that end with anything other than Josh’s demise, and most of those scenario’s still don’t end happily.
“He’ll gladly die if it means taking the Pipeline out of commission” Half continues, “but he’s not afraid to take you down with him.” His fingers tapping along the marble countertop, Josh feels a cool rush of air dance on the back of his neck. “Those chips are falling awfully fast” Nora whispers, Josh’s face immediately growing sour as he attempts to ignore the voice. “So what are you willing to offer me in exchange for these?” Josh asks, a manilla folder thrown down in front of him.
“Information I’d rather you keep to yourself than share with the Guardian” Half replies, his finger pressing against the folder and sliding it back to Josh. “He’s making it your call” Nora whispers, Josh’s eye twitching for a moment before stopping as a large breath of air fills the man’s lungs. His hand pulling the pictures from days before out, Josh tells Half that he has a different strategy for dealing with the Pipeline that requires intel over violence.
“Unfamiliar territory, but continue nonetheless” Half replies, watching Josh spread the photos along the countertop as if they were playing cards. “Each of these people are connected to the Pipeline, this we’re already more than aware of” Josh begins, using one finger to push a specific photo closer to his opposite. “What can you tell me about this man that has nothing to do with the Pipeline?” Josh asks, the photo in question containing a business shot of Warren Duane.
“That would be Warren Duane, the former executive of your old employer” Half replies, “and he happened to be the first major figure in the Pipeline that met their demise at your hand.” His finger moving to another photo and doing the same, Josh asks for the same explanation. “That is Alec Cerine, another suggested figure in the Pipeline” Half replies, his eyes narrowing, “from what I’m aware of, he was killed by the Pipeline after being ousted as a mole.”
“And this?” Josh asks, sliding a photo of Jenn, Alec’s former lover, closer to Half’s eyes. “That would be Jennifer Catherine, you’re already aware of who she is and what she did” Half replies, “she’s currently living as far as I’m aware and has no connection to the Pipeline that I know of.” His head shaking, Half asks what Josh is trying to get at, pointing out Josh’s pre-existing familiarity with the subjects in these pictures.
“After I killed Warren, Alec was murdered and the calls from the Guardian began” Josh replies, pulling from his pocket a familiar flash drive, playing with it’s port as he continues. “So I kill Warren, Alec is found out to be a mole, and then the Guardian swings into my business” Josh continues, “tell me where these things connect.” His head hanging slightly, Half props his chin up with his right hand and takes the photo of Cerine into his left.
“I’m aware that I know more than Angel is willing to tell you” Half admits, “but what makes you think I know this?” His eyes still attached to the flash drive, Josh places the device on the counter and slides it to Half, who glances back at Josh before he picks it up. “Turn it over” Josh instructs, watching Half flip the device over to read ‘for ½’ scrawled on the back in white-out.
“Maybe you don’t know why, but I know you knew Alec” Josh states, watching Half look up with his mouth slightly ajar, “and maybe you don’t have the answer, but I know they’re connected.” Swallowing the spit developing in the back of his throat, Josh tells Half that he’s come up with a theory that would be rooted in realism if the information Half is feeding him is true.
“I think killing Warren put me in the Guardian’s crosshairs” Josh admits, his hands pressing against the countertop to assist him to his feet. “Don’t finish what I think you’re about to say” Half requests, his eyes lowering to the flash drive. “I know you two had been friends since you started pre-school together” Josh replies, taking pity on Half as he begins to piece together why Half may have more of a hatred for the Guardian than just false-promises.
“I’m sorry that you don’t want to hear it, but I need to say it out loud before I convince myself that I’ve gone crazy” Josh continues, watching Half’s eyes look up at him and accompany a regretful nod. “I think Guardian sold out Alec to disrupt the upper echelon of the Pipeline, weaken it from within” Josh confesses, “and I think he’s willing to do it to anyone else in order to make sure order within falls to depravity.”
Walking to his windbreaker, Josh throws it over his shoulders and pops the beanie back on. “You can keep all of those, but I’ve left two pictures behind the ones I slid to you” Josh continues, “if you want to make sure this is done the right way, come back to me with something I can work with on them.” Refusing to take back the documents, Josh leaves Half what he believes he is owed.
“No more false promises, no more deceit, and no more blood lust” Josh states, pulling his winter gloves over his hands and walking for the door, “now if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere to be.” exiting the flat, Josh shuts the door behind him and leaves Half remaining where he left him, the touch of his longtime friend’s final remaining words to him allowing Half a closure he had disappointingly believed himself to be forced into believing he’d be without.
“You have plenty of questions” Josh states, watching Arcnote depend on the back of her chair to keep her from instinctively backing away, “I’m willing to answer them.” Licking the sides of her mouth as she notices it to have gone dry, Arcnote begins with asking Josh if he’s committed the crime of murder within the last year. “Yes, I have” Josh replies, the woman’s eyes narrowing as she continues to test the supposedly offered honesty the man claims to be willing to give.
“Are you currently the suspect in any crimes related to murrder?” Arcnote asks, the man smirking, offering a chuckle. “You tell me” Josh replies, his thumbs gliding off each other, one after another, as he watches Arcnote consider whether or not to pull specific names into play. “Did you kill Warren Duane?” Arcnote asks, the man puckering his lips briefly before answering truthfully, “Yes, I did.”
“Did you kill Alec Cerine?” Arcnote asks, the man denying any involvement in that crime with a shaking head to match. “Did you kill former Lieutenant eric Devine?” Arcnote asks, the man pausing for a moment as he totters his head from side to side. “I’d say I indirectly caused it, but if you’re asking if I directly had delivered the fatal blow, the answer is ‘no’” Josh responds, the woman narrowing her eyes.
“The Pipeline member we found a number of weeks ago?” Arcnote asks, the man’s eyes widening. “Which one?” Josh asks, responding ‘no’ when Arcnote specifies the individual in question. “Why are you coming to me now?” Arcnote asks, the man’s smile fading into a composed face of contempt, “why tell me, a detective, all of these things now?”
“For a start, it’s your word against mine” Josh replies, “and in addition to that, the idea that you’d sit and agree to this without calling for backup makes it immediately suspicious.” His voice turning from humorous to sympathetic, Josh admits that there is more rhyme and reason to his intentions. “I know you’re of the belief that all murder is bad, and all murderers are bad” Josh continues, “but I believe what I have to say is worth at least thinking about.”
“Then say your piece” Arcnote replies, challenging the man to act on his confidence at being able to justify the actions he’s taken and the criminal acts he’s committed. “I suppose you’re already aware of the Pipeline, as well as Devine’s presence within it, so let’s use that as an example” Josh begins, asking Arcnote to be honest in her response, “do you think he would have been treated the same way as any other criminal in the court?”
“I believe he would have, yes” Arcnote replies, Josh’s head immediately hanging, shaking in disapproval. “I think, and know, otherwise” Josh replies, “so let me ask you this… What do you think made Bill Cosby and Jeff Epstein’s indictments so surprising?” Shrugging her shoulders, Arcnote retires to Josh’s follow, the an insisting that the rarity in notable figures, individuals with power, being punished for their wrong-doings is what made them surprising.
“This system isn’t difficult to cheat, all you need is a fat wallet and some connections” Josh continues, “these people, like those at the top of the Pipeline are practically untouchable.” Denying this notion, Arcnote points out the other examples of notable figures being punished for their actions. “Every example you can give me is something I can find four examples of that worked the other way” Josh replies, telling Arcnote that the courts cannot be trusted.
“Think about the Pipeline’s victims, everything we know they do and what we haven’t seen yet” Josh continues, “think about how much they would’ve gotten away with if it weren’t for Devine.” Her head shaking, Arcnote asks Josh to illustrate his point. “I killed Warren Duane, Devine pieced me to the murder, and without Devine dying in that fire, the precinct wouldn’t have even known the Pipeline existed!” Josh continues, Arcnote failing to come up with an adequate response.
“All of their victims would have gone without justice had it not been for the actions I took” Josh continues, the woman still refusing to allow herself to view the situation through the lens of her moral opposition. “If he was never taken to trial, you can’t be sure of that” Arcnote replies, Josh beginning to feel the effects of a headache as he begins realizing how hard of a sell his view is on a woman as steadfast by her beliefs as Arcnote is.
“He would have never gone to trial, why can you not see that!?” Josh asks, his arms stretching out as he fails to comprehend how Arcnote could look at the situation in such a flowers-and-roses fashion. “I don’t care how you spin it, murder is not the answer to problems because you disagree with how a system operates” Arcnote replies, Josh’s face immediately dropping as his fingers begin to twirl around themselves.
“I’m sorry, but if your goal is to convince me that you’re in the right morally here, you’re not going to win” Arcnote replies, watching Josh’s brow lower, visually pulling the recent claim apart. “Is murder not morally right?” Josh asks, the woman surprised at the suggestion she’d reply with anything other than ‘no’ even being questioned. “So in what way is the death penalty morally right?” Josh asks, Arcnote immediately beginning to back away from the conversation’s route.
“You’re comparing outright murder to a sentence carried out after legal process had been done” Arcnote replies, “there is no comparison.” His hands stretched out, Josh asks the simple question of ‘why not?’, leaving Arcnote silent. “Duane ran an underground ring of child pornography distribution and who the fuck knows what else!” Josh shouts, “why do we need to sit through a trial of him feeding us bullshit in order to find him guilty?”
“Because he gets the chance to defend himself!” Arcnote replies, her nose flaring as Josh leans forward to do the same. “If the people he’s turned into victims don’t get to defend themselves from him, why does he get to defend himself from them?” Josh asks, the woman attempting to respond, only for her words to fall over themselves as they leave her lips.
“He silenced them, he victimized them, and he’s groomed a cult of followers to do the exact same thing, why does he get a fair trial?” Josh asks, the woman struggling to come up with any reason not rooted in legal speak. Her firearm having lowered its barrel towards the ground, Arcnote remains silent, allowing for Josh to continue. “After OJ Simpson was found innocent, most of the jurors said it was a verdict they reached out of spite for the LAPD” Josh recalls, leaning closer to the woman.
“How can a system like that be seen, bottom to top, as fair?” Josh continues, Arcnote taking a few seconds before admitting that she never said it was fair. “You look at what I do as something heinous, punishing terrible people for doing terrible things” Josh repeats, “but if their victims didn’t get a say, neither do they.” Her head hung, Arcnote looks up towards Josh and tells him that he only lowers himself to their level when he serves them their ‘punishment.’
“I don’t punish innocent, unsuspecting people” Josh replies, his arms pushing himself to his feet for the first time that evening, “I punish awful, deserving people.” Walking to the door, Josh extends his arm towards the handle before pausing, his head turning back to Arcnote before he spins the remainder of his body around at the sound of Arcnote calling back out to him.
“It’s not your place to make that decision” Arcnote replies, the man turning around to look at the woman, his stare questioning whether or not she fully understands her own statement. “You don’t get to decide who lives and who dies” Arcnote continues, her words bringing amusement to the man, “and it’s not your place to pull the trigger.” His back leaning against the door, Josh tells Arcnote that this point specifically is where she’s wrong.
“If I’m called to the jurors bench by someone trying to give his defendant the best chance to not get the needle, it is my decision” Josh replies, “that’s decided by an agenda-heavy lawyer in a $5,000 suit.” The woman standing from her seat, Arcnote places her weapon in the waist band behind her back. “So it’s not my decision when I say, but the decision when a biased crook with a horse in the race says so, right?”
Silent, Arcnote watches as Josh walks closer towards her, the woman no longer feeling the need to point a gun in his direction to make her control known. “And furthermore, why isn’t it my place to pull the trigger, or fill the syringe?” Josh asks, his face inching closer to the woman’s as she keeps her eyes firmly set on his. “Who gets to decide which person carries that weight on their shoulders?” Josh asks, “who really makes that decision?”
“It shouldn’t be you” Arcnote replies, the man’s head shaking in disappointment, though a brief moment of hope that she’s understanding where his view comes from shows in his posture. “That’s where the discussion comes into play, isn’t it detective?” Josh asks, “the age old question of whether people like me are simple vigilantes or monsters.”
“I struggle to see the difference between the two” Arcnote replies, the man’s smirk shining in spite of the dark. “People argue whether vigilantes are good or bad” Josh replies, the woman’s face scrunching as she questions the purpose of that statement. “You can’t have that same discussion about monsters.” As he attempts to leave, Josh hears Arcnote call out for an answer to his question.
“You asked who gets to decide who does or doesn’t kill” Arcnote repeats, “what’s the right answer if ‘it isn’t you’ isn’t it?” His hands tucking into his pockets, Josh tells Arcnote that there isn’t, nor should there be, a single correct answer. “If the system can’t tell me who should and shouldn’t be allowed to kill, I don’t trust the system to tell me who should or shouldn’t die” Josh replies, returning for the door, successfully leaving through it this time around.
Left alone, Arcnote stands in place, her flat no longer being shared amongst two people. Within seconds, the splintered phone begins buzzing on the ground, the white light bleaching the dark room as Arcnote remains staring at the door. Her head drifting, Arcnote begins to think about Josh’s words, the statements he made and the possible gravity behind them as the subject of her text messages continues beaconing for her attention.
-[ So everyone was putting together their own puzzles, but no one had all the pieces included in their sets. So the game boiled down to who could complete their puzzle the most before they had run out of the available pieces, and eventually, that became the only thing keeping us a step ahead of the law. Guardian was keeping Eliza chained up while he sent others looking around for the other two suspects on Holiday and Arcnote’s list.
Speaking of their list, I was the only one they knew was on it for sure, so my goal became staying out of their reach for as long as I could. I’d like to say it was easy, but in all honesty, it only made me more paranoid. Regardless, the plan remained on. Both the precinct and the Pipeline were coming after me, and by this point, I’m sure the cops would have heard about that through the grapevine.
The next few weeks played out with as slow of a pace as one could imagine. Just a lot of traveling by foot, sticking to the shadows and making sure to avoid being noticed. Of course, that’s when things began to take a turn behind the scenes. Guardian’s handy men were making progress with finding out the other suspects until Arcnote began playing catch up. Leave it to a few fishermen hanging off the coast to give her the break she had been looking for. ]-
“Detective” Holiday calls out, his head and left hand peering over the edge of Arcnote’s doorframe. “What is it, Holiday?” Arcnote asks, the man’s smirk giving her a rush of excitement. “So they just caught the back axel?” Arcnote calls, her coat nearly dragging against the early winter ground as she tightens the gloves over her hands. “Lucky break” Holiday replies, “the license plate was removed, but the interior matches to a tee.”
“Matches what?” Arcnote asks, taking Holiday’s phone as he extends it towards her with a picture already loaded onto the screen. “Well that’s interesting” Arcnote replies, her tone taking that of someone mostly convinced, but knowing enough to reside at least a small amount of doubt in her mind. “His car, his city, his crime, him in the photo” Holiday pieces together, “everything connects back to Josh Lane, and the car is just the rope to tie the ends together.”
“Let’s just keep ourselves from getting tunnel vision and answer a few questions first” Arcnote replies, her hands held out to visualize her hope for the enticement to cool off. “Why is he on this ‘kill list’?” Arcnote asks, Holiday’s quick response of a marker to throw investigators off serving as a reasonable conclusion to come to. “Why would Becca come forward?” Arcnote furthers, a response from Holiday coming slightly late in comparison to his response prior.
“I’ve yet to piece that together in full, but I’d assume he wronged her in such a way that perhaps convinced her to turn in the truth” Holiday replies, leaving Arcnote less than convinced. “Obtain a search warrant for Mr. Lane’s home and keep tracking him down” Arcnote orders, “and for god’s sake, come up with something better than ‘he was an asshole to his fling’.”
With a nod, Holiday walks off, leaving Arcnote to watch the car ascend from the cold Hudson waters, it’s back wheels being the first to touch ground. “Bring this into evidence” Arcnote commands, “I want every inch of this car searched for anything worth looking at.” Walking from the vehicle, Arcnote retrieves her phone from it’s place on her belt and dials a number disassociated with the precinct.
“Hi, it’s Hayden” the woman greets, a smile on her face at the sound of the voice on the other end. “Care to meet for lunch?” Arcnote asks, a response of ‘great’ coming from her lips as she returns to her cruiser and prepares to make the trip.
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
Answering his phone, Josh greets the guardian, turning off the sidewalk and up to the front doors of a private high school. Buzzing for entry, Josh pulls the doors open and approaches the secretary’s station, handing her an envelope and going on his way as he has countless times before. “We’re close” Josh responds to the other line, “in fishing terms, the bobber keeps poking beneath the water, all I have to do is reel it in close enough to get my hands on it.”
“Let’s not mince words” the Guardian replies, instructing Josh closely to lay out everything with pinpoint accuracy. “I’ll leave nothing out” Josh replies, hanging up and returning the phone to his pocket as he enters just one of the many classrooms. “I trust you have what I’m looking for?” the voice of a man with his back turned to Josh asks, his eyes wandering on the sights outside as the mid-day sun begins its early setting time.
From his blazer slot, Josh pulls a selection of photos and leaves them sprawled across the teacher’s desk. From his opposite coat pocket, Josh removes a document pertaining to something going against the figure’s best interests. “It’s just as I said” Josh returns, “you take care of this for me, and I’ll take care of this for you.” Laying the paper on the table beside the photos, Josh returns his hands together beneath his abdomen.
“Are we in agreement?” Josh asks, the man’s back dressed in black, only visible through the dark orange glow of the setting sky reflecting off what it can reach. Swallowing his breath, the figure slowly turns towards Josh, half of his face illuminated by the light outside as his breath visibly runs through the air. “You’re aware of what this means for both of us, correct?” the figure asks, his own hands tucked much like Josh’s, only his remain behind his back, rather than in front of him.
“I know what this means for me” Josh replies, “you’ve yet to tell me anything about yourself.” His lips pairing together, the man nods slightly and returns the rest of his face towards Josh, the previously unseen side appearing heavily scarred by a horrible facial burn stretching from jaw to forehead. Caught by surprise, Josh’s breathing goes thin and his chin raises a few inches, watching each movement from the man in preparation for events going south.
“You can call me half…. For obvious reasons” the man replies, his approach slowly bringing him to the opposite side of Joshua’s table. “Would you like to guess how I got these?” Half asks, his single hand pointing a single finger, the tip running down the ripples in his malformed skin. “I really wouldn’t” Josh replies, an empty smile appearing on Half’s face as his remaining fingers extend, running over the skin as if it were fabric.
“I attempted this trade once” Half replies, his eyes looking at the document, resting on the tabletop for the taking. “I would have thought I’d have earned that by now” Half continues, Josh’s hands remaining unmoved as Half eyes the documents, looking at them with a sinister lust. “It appeared that I was wrong” Half replies, “because I didn’t just get screwed over by your boss… But I got burned by my own.”
His chin remaining still, Josh watches Half inch his hands closer to the paper, his eyes continuing to keep on Josh, watching to see how long it would be before Josh decided enough. “Not gonna stop me?” Half asks, his smile beginning to sport an intrigue it lacked before, Josh’s hands remaining still and unchanged as a third voice declares that they will do no such thing.
Quickly turning around to spot a masked figure entering the room, Half watches the Guardian cautiously enter the room. “You try to leave the room with them, however” The Guardian continues, Josh pulling a blade from his coat as the figure in the back of the room pauses, “that’s when that changes a bit.” With a stare shared between both directions, Half removes his hands from the document and lifts them into the air as a show of surrender.
“Here to screw me over again, old friend?” Half asks, no longer sharing the stare, instead focusing it on the familiar foe across the room. “You screwed yourself over” Guardian replies, his hand resting on his revolver as he slowly closes the distance between himself and Half, “leave it up to a man calling himself ‘half’ to do a half-assed job.”
With a grin, Half extends his arms, leaving them out as a sign of refusing to reach for anything beneath his coat. “I clearly didn’t come from the Pipeline’s era of forgiveness like you” Half replies, the allegation immediately lifting questions into Josh’s head as he watches the scene play out. “You had me on a suicide mission” Half continues, “pardon me for settling for a face of hot iron over being burned alive when things got heated.”
“I promised you amnesty” Guardian replies, Half’s eyes bolting open as his face grows sour. “No, you promised me a quick death” Half replies, “I chose to live to fight another day, you just wanted to get rid of me so you didn’t have to go through on your word.” His head shaking, the Guardian makes an attempt to refute the claims, only for a concerned voice to begin asking questions behind him.
“What is he talking about?” Josh asks, the Guardian keeping his back turned to his counterpart as Half begins to realize the difference in shared information between the pair. “You haven’t told him? Half asks, looking towards the Guardian, who keeps his eyes placed on a newly amused Half. “Josh, we can discuss this later” the man dressed from head to toe in a plague-like bird mask replies, Half no longer circling the room, instead staring directly at the man behind the desk.
Without further hesitation, Josh pulls his gun from his coat and takes aim at the Guardian, demanding answers to his question. “That a boy” Half replies, encouraged by Josh’s ability to make such a quick decision. “Take aim at the guy before he can take aim at you” Half continues, encouraging the behavior, even taking one of the student’s seats to watch this all unfold.
“Josh, what are you doing?” Guardian asks, watching the man return the documents and photos with his free hand to their coverage within his coat. “I’m trying to figure out exactly what my part in all of this is” Josh replies, his gun lifting towards the Guardian’s head. “I’ve told you what your part in this is, Josh” the Guardian returns, “if you’re seriously buying into this guy’s bullshit this easily, perhaps I was wrong about you.”
“He’s only saying the same stuff I’ve been thinking to myself” Josh replies, “and if he and I are sharing thoughts, that only means you’re down a peg or two.” His gun still aimed at Half, the Guardian concedes, lowering it to his side and returning it to his coat. “Half, you need to leave” Guardian returns, lifting his hands into the air as Half removes himself from the seat. “Keep in touch” Josh says, Half enthusiastically implying that he’ll be more than happy to do so.
Climbing through the window he had left open previously, Half escapes into the setting sun as Josh directs the Guardian to the seat Half had just finished occupying. “What is he talking about?” Josh asks, the gun still suspended in air, “and don’t feed me nonsense, tell me exactly what he meant.” With a deep breath, the Guardian tells Josh that he’s getting too far ahead of himself.
“We’re doing business with him because of the secrets he keeps” the Guardian continues, “why wouldn’t he look for every opportunity he can to get his name cleaned up from this dirt?” His lip still bit, Josh takes a seat opposite the Guardian, telling him to clarify the truth and falsehoods in Half’s statements, keeping the weapon aimed between Guardian’s eyes. His pride swallowed, the Guardian looks to Josh and admits to part of Half’s claims being somewhat made in truth.
“Yes, I refused to give him thee documents the first time around” the Guardian acknowledges, “but he did half of what he was told to do, so I voided the deal.” Gun still aimed at Guardian, Josh instructs him to keep going, wanting as much clarity between truth and fiction as can be offered. “The quick death was how he chose to look at it” Guardian continues, “he figured he’d be as good as dead once the Pipeline realized he had betrayed their trust.”
“So that’s on him?” Josh asks, accepting Guardian’s explanation of events before asking a follow-up. “What about the Pipeline?” the armed mercenary asks, Guardian’s eyes lowering from within the mask, “he said you were a part of it at one point. Is that true, too?” His voice growing less authoritative, now taking on a newly disappointed rasp, Guardian admits to his past involvement.
“Before it became what it is now, yes” Guardian replies, “the second things started taking a turn towards what it is now, I got out.” Hesitant to take the Guardian’s word for it on face value alone, Josh asks why his goal remains to take it down. “I know the people that control it, and I know what lengths they’d go for the littlest amounts of power” Guardian replies, “that’s dangerous just in general, but it’s a whole new animal to tame when they have the power they do.”
“The lengths they’d go for the littlest amounts of power?” Josh reiterates, an aura of tension building in his gaze, “you mean like cultivating a group of killers to do your dirty work?” Victim to the irony at play, Guardian assures Josh that he’s a man of his word as long as what is asked of the individual in question is performed. “Do what needs to be done and I’ll stand by my word” Guardian retorts, “but leave the job unfinished, and the reward remains unpaid.”
Standing from his desk with the gun still unwavering in air, Josh walks to the Guardian and places the gun to the side of his mask, making sure the man beneath cover hears him clearly. “I couldn’t care less what happens to me at the end of this” Josh begins, watching the mask turn its front towards his face, “but I’ll do whatever I have to do to make sure Eliza gets to walk away from this at the end.”
“Do you understand me?” Josh asks, watching the Guardian stare him without movement. Suddenly, the man beneath his cloak swipes his hands through the air, quickly disarming Josh and holding his own gun between his eyes. Outclassed, Josh surrenders to the new position, lifting his hands, spreading his fingers apart on both sides of his head. Without second thought, Guardian quickly disassembles the weapon and scatters the pieces amongst the front desk.
“I’ve already told you what your role in this is, Josh” Guardian replies, approaching the man and standing before him, his height towering. “Do what I need you to, and the both of you can run off sniffing roses wherever you please” Guardian concludes, vanishing through the classroom entrance and leaving Josh in the arctic-like frost of the New York winter.
“Get the door!” Holland shouts, a drained and depressed Becca doing as told as she marches from her bedroom to the front door. “Where not looking for-” Becca begins, silenced by the sight of the individuals she answers the door to. “Ms Havish, I’m detective Hayden Arcnote. We spoke a few weeks ago?” the woman replies, introducing her partner and asking for a moment of her time.
Glancing back, Becca watches Holland wave his hand across his throat, giving Becca the signal to decline the request. “I’m afraid the question was merely formality” Arcnote replies, being the first to step through the doorway, putting a frown on Holland’s face as she walks in. Introducing herself, Arcnote holds her hand out and approaches Holland, who folds his arms and informs her that he’s more than already aware of her name and occupation.
“Ain’t you the keeper?” Arcnote quips, not caring one bit at the insulted expression sported by the man, instead taking a seat opposite him. “I assume you haven’t spoken to Mr. Lane recently, have you?” Arcnote asks, her eyes looking towards Becca as she asks the question, only for it to be answered by Holland on her behalf. “Still in the dark like she was a few weeks back” Holland replies, noticing the immediate dislike taken to him by the woman on the opposite sofa.
“I’m sure she can respond for herself” Arcnote replies, her stare towards Holland holding enough malice to make her meaning clear enough for the most clueless to understand. “I’d rather she didn’t” Holland replies, his smug face giving Arcnote the desire to take a shower. “Unfortunately for you, I don’t give a shit what you’d rather she do or not do” Arcnote replies, watching the man’s face sink into unrivaled disdain.
“Your in my house, so you definitely fucking do” Holland returns, Arcnote’s grin acting as the perfect flip side to Holland’s own frown. “The name on the lease to this house is under her name” Arcnote replies, “so unless you can show me a piece of mail that says otherwise, you don’t own shit here… So I’d keep your fucking mouth shut before I put you in cuffs.”
His fuse short, Holland leaps to his feet and walks over to Arcnote, towering over her as she stands to meet him. “You’ve got no authority to do so” Holland replies, watching Arcnote quickly shoot back with the reminder that he’s currently impeding in an active investigation. “If I wanna drag your ass down every block from here to the station by the ankles, you can bet there’ll be no one to stop me” Arcnote replies, insisting he retire to another section of the room, or face legal action.
Refusing to back down to authority, Holland spits in the face of Arcnote, the air from his lungs blowing her hair back as Holiday begins to march towards him. “Back off!” Holland shouts, pulling a pistol from beneath the couch cushions and taking aim at Holiday, demanding he play his cards right. Confidently, Arcnote pulls the gun down and lifts her knee up, bending Holland’s arm the opposite way and breaking it cleanly in two.
The trigger being pulled instinctively, Holland fires a single round into the carpet as Arcnote slams him front-first into the ground. “My arm you bitch!” Holland shouts, spit running down his lips as Arcnote cuffs him, reading his rights as the initial wad of spit still remains on her nose. “Take him to the station and get me a crew here” Arcnote orders, looking to Becca, whose eyes contain more life in this one moment than they have in nearly three months.
“He your boyfriend?” Arcnote asks, the woman rushing from behind the couch and wrapping her arms around her captive’s capturer. “Thank you” Becca mutters, Arcnote telling Holiday to get a trauma specialist in as well as she returns the embrace. “We can talk about it in a bit, alright?” Arcnote asks, Becca nodding as the woman begins to realize the complexity of what she went in believing to be an open and shut case.
“You in there?” Josh calls, his fist continuing to thud against the motel door as he awaits a response from the opposite end. “I can hear you thudding around, can you let me in?” Josh calls out again, the door thin enough for the sigh on the other end to give him a laugh. “Do you just not know how to take a hint?” Eliza asks, pulling the door open and allowing Josh entry. “I’m a multi-millionaire” Josh replies, “I’m not given hints very often.”
Returning to the interior, the walls containing the sights of a woman having failed to leave the space in over a month, Eliza takes an already sunken seat on the couch as Josh leans against the wall. “You seem like you’re settling in pretty well” Josh remarks, the woman looking at him with a familiar stare, giving him the signal to call it quits on the jokes before she returns the favor.
“Why are you here?” Eliza asks, her arms clutching at a pillow as her sights direct themselves to a black and white movie, subtitles translating the original language of french as the television remains muted. Taking a seat, Josh asks the girl why she took on the responsibility of getting into the Pipeline ahead of schedule. “What else is there to do?” Eliza asks, seemingly blaming the lack of immediate progress on the reason behind her decision.
“Wait until the moment showed up?” Josh replies, his answer sounding more like a question, prompting the woman to roll her eyes. “That’s really easy for you to say” Eliza replies, only adding onto Josh’s puzzlement. “You live for this kind of shit, this is your way of life” Eliza replies, her back arching as she leans closer in Josh’s direction, “I hate everything that I am right now, and if I don’t have something to do to take my mind off it, I start losing it.”
“So you just go running in, guns blazing, no chance of making it out alive?” Josh asks, Eliza’s eyes immediately widening as her smile encompasses her face. “Josh, I don’t want to live as long as this is the person I see in the mirror” Eliza replies, her refusal to accept Josh’s work as anything similar to her own driving her to the brink of mental breakdown.
“You tell me to go somewhere, at least I have that end point in mind to distract me” Eliza continues, “you leave me to sit somewhere and wait things out, I’m just letting it fester.” Wondrous as to what changed, Josh asks Eliza exactly when her mind took this path. “How can you be so fucking dumb? It’s been this way since the start!” Eliza shouts, her adrenaline beginning to pump, “I accepted what you do, that doesn’t make it okay for me to do the same!”
Her pillow put beside her, Eliza gets up from her trench in the seat and walks into the kitchen, retrieving a firearm and placing it on the table between the two. “The only reason I haven’t used it is because I’m hoping I’ll be let out of here eventually” Eliza replies, Josh’s worry beginning to build at an increased rate, “the second he clears me of whatever I owe him, this is the ticket I’m punching.”
Slowly pushing himself up, Josh holds his hands out to Eliza, the woman backing away at first until she allows herself to give into whatever happens in the moment. “Please don’t do that” Josh replies, his request immediately falling on ears that had become deaf to that request long ago. “The only reason I’m still fighting is because there’s a chance I can do some good before I go” Eliza replies, “but I can’t sleep anymore without thinking about my hands being covered in blood.”
Biting her lip to keep it from continuously quivering, Eliza tells Josh that the good of the work they currently share doesn’t make up for the memory of the lives they’ve taken. “I came to this city to file paper and make phone calls” Eliza continues, her eyes filling with tears yet to run, “not to torture people and be okay with it.” Understanding that there could be a point in time where she could accept it, Eliza admits that she wants nothing to do with when that day comes.
“You said vigilantes are subject to debates about whether what they do is good or bad” Eliza recalls, looking the man in the eyes and pressing her hands to his face, “I don’t want to be the subject for that kind of debate.” His words having run out, Josh steadies his head and pulls Eliza’s head in close, giving it a peck on the forehead before leaving the flat, coming to the conclusion that no response was the most appropriate response.
“She doesn’t wanna talk” Arcnote says, leaving the interrogation room Becca remains in, plastic cup of water in her trembling hands as Holiday meets her behind the two-way mirror. “Can you blame her?” Holiday asks, glancing at the woman as her eyes glue themselves to the rippling waves held within the confinement of her cup. “Who the hell knows what that freak did to her” Holiday mutters, his eyes turning angered when he stares towards the Holland-occupying second room.
“What have we gotten out of him?” Arcnote asks, Holiday suggesting the same amount as the still-silent Becca. “He wanted his lawyer, didn’t say a word after that” Holiday adds in, the information being vocalized just as Holland’s lawyer steps into the corridor. “I’m here for Mr. Breckenridge” the elder says, pointed towards the room by Arcnote, who informs them that they will return to them shortly.
“Is the print scanner up and running yet?” Arcnote asks, Holiday informing her that they’re just getting through the individuals still waiting for their rundowns. “I wanna get another shot at her” Arcnote says, pulling her folder up to her side and leading Holiday into Becca’s room. The door opening startling the distressed woman, Arcnote holds her hand out and gently greets Becca, asking if she’s ready to talk yet.
With a missable nod, Becca allows the officers to take their seats opposite her, asking how she knows Holland before anything else. Only able to mutter the word ‘he’ three times before tears begin running again, Becca feels her nerves calmed when Arcnote places her hand over her own. “It’s alright to tell us” Arcnote says, “we’re not going to let him anywhere near you ever again if that’s what you’d like.”
With another nod, Becca says all that Arcnote needs to describe the relationship between the two. “He found me after work a few months ago, as I was leaving” Becca begins, her words going faint as she proceeds to recall the following months. “He told me I’d be fine if I just got him what he wanted” Becca proceeds, her motions becoming impossible to hold back any longer, as the sobs begin, leaving Arcnote enamored with the conclusion to it.
“What did he want, honey?” Arcnote asks, her thumb gliding over Becca’s hand as the tears run away from her lower eyelids. “He wanted Joshua Lane” Becca replies, leaving Holiday and Arcnote immediately curious to the reason. “Why did he want Joshua?” Holiday asks, watching the woman shake her head and try desperately to get a grip on her emotions.
“Because he’s part of this… this group” Becca proceeds, immediately astonished when Holiday mentions the Pipeline by name. “Is Joshua Lane on the Pipeline’s kill list?” Holiday asks, Becca’s lip quivering again as she silently nods in agreement. “Why does the Pipeline want Joshua Lane?” Arcnote asks, beginning to fear that there are now multiple suspects for multiple crimes at hand, and they are only beginning to scratch the surface.
“Is Joshua Lane part of the Pipeline?” Holiday asks, Arcnote’s curiosity being matched by Holiday’s failure to follow along. “No” Becca replies, pulling her hair behind her ears, “because Josh is killing them all off.” Her eyes widening, Arcnote looks to Holiday, watching his face turn as he begins to get back on track. “This is what Holland told you?” Arcnote asks, watching the woman shake her head in partial declination.
“He didn’t tell me it, he confirmed it when I asked him” Becca replies. Asking who told her, Arcnote watches Becca grow confused, her tired eyes dashing across the tabletop. “He went by some weird name” Becca replies, going over jumbled words until she begins piecing together something that sounds close enough. “He said he couldn’t give me a name” Becca replies, “I just remember him telling me to call him something weird.”
“Can you think of what it was?” Holiday asks, hoping this alternative name could lead them down clearing one of the many holes in the investigation. “I don’t really remember” Becca replies, “it was something like my guardian angel.” Convinced there’s little more to go off, Arcnote asks exactly who it was this figure said Josh had killed.
“This rich guy, he was one of the Pipeline’s shot-callers” Becca replies, uttering an all-too familiar name to Holiday. “Warren Duane” Becca returns, Holiday’s face immediately growing suspicious. “Ms. Havish, former Lieutenant Eric Devine was already posthumously indicted of that crime” Holiday replies, watching Becca confidently shake her head in refusal.
“No, Devine was in the Pipeline, too” Becca continues, peaking Holiday’s interest, sharing information still having yet to be released to the public. “Devine was investigating Josh because he pieced him to the murder and wanted to take care of the issue before it got out of hand” Becca continues, her explanation bringing Arcnote and Holiday into immediate concern.
“Eventually they did get out of hand” Becca continues, readying herself to make a concluding statement until frenzied shouting begins blaring through within the corridor. “What the hell is that!?” Holiday exclaims, noting the volume of the hassle being loud enough to come through the concrete walls with almost perfect sound. From their chairs, Arcnote and Holiday rush for the door and enter the corridor, following officers into Holland’s space.
Once inside, the sights of something completely foreign to an officer’s home-soil is found, Arcnote and Holiday’s eyes bursting open as they survey the area. In his chair, still handcuffed to the table, Holland’s corpse rests with its head pointed towards the ceiling and its mouth ajar. All ten fingers, both eyeballs, and every last tooth removed from his body, the blood from the act remaining pooled and splattered all around the room.
“What the fuck happened in here!?” Holiday shouts, a nearby officer stating that one of the new recruits was walking by and saw the scene from the window. “Where’s the lawyer?” Arcnote asks, a second officer asking if she means the suspect. “No one else went through this room” the original officer states “whoever that guy was, he was the one who did it.”
“Everyone hold on!” a third officer shouts, pulling a folded piece of paper from Holland’s mouth. Unfolding it, the officer reads aloud eight words written in red marker. “Hot head, can’t trust to keep mouth shut” the officer reads, Arcnote being forced to step out of the room to throw up in whatever corner of the corridor she can reach first. “Just breath through it” Holiday says, rubbing the woman’s back as she fixes her hair.
Within moments, Arcnote goes on the move again, returning to Becca’s room to find the girl having disappeared. “Where’d she go?” Arcnote asks, her question uttered between deep breaths as Holiday instinctively radios for the entire station to be on the lookout for a girl matching Becca’s description. Stood there, staring at the seat no longer occupied by the woman, Arcnote and Holiday begin wondering how a routine landing could’ve turned into a tailspin this quickly.
“This is all happening too goddamn quickly” Eliza mutters, slumped in her seat beneath the piercing white light of the outhouse lightbulb just overhead. “Let’s not get caught up in that too much” Josh replies, handing the woman a water bottle and taking a seat in a chair opposite Eliza. “All we’ve got to do right now is keep our heads down and wait all of this out” Josh replies, his phone buzzing as Eliza tells him that this has come too far.
“We just saw a man fighting with us get gunned down to keep us alive” Eliza retorts as Josh answers his phone, “we don’t need to keep our heads down, we need to take a step back.” Answering their guardian, Josh places the phone on speaker and lets it reside in the middle of a tiny center table. “What can you tell us right now?” Josh asks, his head hanging with the expectation of straight-forward information, surprised when the guardian answers in a mellow tone.
“It’s a lot of bad” the guardian replies, the exhaustion in his voice telling the tale of a man lacking any confidence in future progression of any master plan. “Give us the best of it” Josh replies, the man on the other end telling him that he’s made the kill list. “I’m sorry” Josh replies, “the what?”, his head dragging sideways as the guardian explains. “The pipeline has a ‘kill list’ of people that threaten their business, you’re on it.”
Wiping his face, Josh thinks about the gravity behind that and comes to the conclusion that he’s most likely been on much worse before and gotten away. “No” the guardian replies, his decline pulling Josh into his following statement, “both of you are on the kill list.” His head lifting to look at Eliza, Josh watches her eyes go dead for a moment as she slowly sits back in her seat, her eyes remaining glued to the phone.
“How do we get her out of the crossfire?” Josh asks, wasting no time in looking for a solution to get Eliza out of dodge, his attempts however, falling short when Eliza refuses to leave. “I’m not taking it, whatever’s offered, I don’t care” Eliza replies, “I started this, I’ll see it to the end.” Telling Eliza that he will not allow her to continue, Josh catches immediate flack from the woman, who tells him that she will not run away from any of this.
“The difference between you and I is that you can get away with just as much as these assholes can” Eliza returns, “I’m risking everything and I have no fallback. You don’t tell me what I can and cannot do.” Asking the guardian to find an option that takes Eliza off the list, Josh feels the heated smack from Eliza’s hand collide with his face. “I’m not running away” Eliza proclaims, “we either see this through whatever comes after, or I die holding my end.”
Refusing to allow Josh any further attempts at directing the conversation, Eliza takes the phone and holds it in her hand, asking the guardian what that means for the plan itself. “It’ll be much more difficult to get inside” the guardian replies, “hell, it might even take it off the table completely.” Eventually, Josh asks for further information on the pipeline, looking for what truly makes them such a danger outside of their trade.
“This isn’t just a bunch of pedo’s trading pictures on the dark web” the guardian replies, “it’s high end criminals tapping into a market that no one else had.” Mirroring it to the first appearances of cartel dealings, the guardian states that the pipeline is the first syncronized group with a ‘product’ that no one else sells. “So what’s the difference?” Josh asks, “what makes this any different other than how many people are involved?”
“It’s pretty easy to get what you want when you’re a celebrity, even when it’s illegal” the guardian replies, “but there’s a big difference between finding out a celebrity does coke and figuring out that they jerk off to kids.” Informing the pair that the majority of the money comes from individuals looking for guaranteed secrecy to come with the product itself, the guardian states that the pipeline guards it’s catalog more than it guards the product.
“They’re selling pictures and videos, which ain’t exactly easy to trace back like it is with any drug” the guardian concludes, “not much to keep track of other than making sure people don’t know which lines to connect.” Nodding, Eliza compares it to that of a spider web. “If their clients are found out, all that has to happen for them to get caught is by the ‘product’ being found” Eliza exclaims, the guardian acknowledging her to have hit it right on the nose.
“They keep security on everything they can to make sure you don’t know where to draw the lines” the guardian states, “all you need to do is draw one line and the web falls apart.” Understanding when put into simple terms, Josh begins to put together why the guardian chose him specifically to head the operation. “I have connections to the people that would be found in that web, don’t I?” Josh asks, the energy from the guardian’s side giving him his confirmation.
“As long as you’re still good to go, we don’t need to put anyone down there” the guardian replies, “the location of their little pedo-ville was needed in the event that you get shot or locked up.” Covering all the bases, the guardian informs the pair that they’re finally reading to start trying to draw lines, only for his excitement to be cut short when Eliza asks for the worst of the news he called to discuss.
“Yeah” the guardian replies, his mood immediately flipping as he realizes the one final piece of information to share. “They, erm…” the guardian begins, both Josh and Eliza looking at the other as they await the follow-up. “They found Deangelo’s body” the guardian replies, Josh turning his look into one of relief as Eliza’s only worsens. “That’s fine” Josh returns, “we expected that to happen eventually, we’re all covered!”
“Not exactly” the guardian replies, “they found him the day after you shot him, they’ve just been hiding it while they identified him.” Looking up to the man, Eliza exclaims “your car”, surprising Josh, who asks the guardian for the point.
Back in downtown New York City, a detective is dispatched to an unfamiliar precinct, where she walks with confidence through the front doors and up to the main desk. “Hi, my name is Hayden Arcnote, I’ve been called for detective work by Officer Holiday?” the woman asks, the man in question overhearing the conversation from afar. “She’s with me!” the man calls towards the desk worker, “I’m Julius Holiday, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Walking past a section of desk jockeys, Arcnote asks why she’s been called into investigate a random drug dealer on such a secretive level. “That’s the thing, ma’am” Holiday replies, the woman already eliciting the response of a veteran despite being twenty-seven with two years of experience in the field. “We don’t believe this is any random drug dealer” the man replies, “we believe he’s one piece in a much larger chain of an underground, child pornography ring.”
Stopping in her tracks, the woman looks towards the man with suspicion, asking him to repeat what he had just said. “I’ve never heard that one before” the woman replies, the man quick to point out that much of the state’s force had been investigating it for years. “The idea is that there are a number of wealthy, powerful figures at the top keeping people blind to it” Holiday continues, “we never really had any solid connection to it until now.”
“So why are you bringing me into this all of a sudden?” Arcnote asks, “other than you’ve finally put a body to a bigger picture.” Stopping beside the door to the evidence lab, Holiday says that she’s going to see something unprecedented. Once inside, Arcnote is greeted by the sight of a bin with pictures of tire marks pinned on the envelope of a case file labeled ‘Underground Ring.’
Glancing at the pictures, Arcnote opens the folder to reveal a list of names, few of which are circled, all connected to a chain of owned vehicles in the state. “Why is this guy circled?” Arcnote asks, Holiday quick to respond, “That’s Eric Devine, he used to serve as our lieutenant.” When asked why he no longer is, Arcnote is informed of his passing and subsequent reputation being made public.
“That’s the Eric Devine guy?” Arcnote asks, having heard of the case in detail over the past number of months. “And who’s this?” Arcnote asks, Holiday reading the name out to be that of Joshua Lane’s. “What does he do?” the woman asks, informed of his former status with VeroSoft. “He was the man that Devine was intending on framing for the murders of a few wealthy businessmen in the city” Holiday replies.
“What am I looking at?” the woman asks, Holiday informing her of the list of four circled names to be those believed to have connections to the underground organization. “In what way?” the woman asks, Holiday taking a deep breath before going down the line. “We believe Devine was a figurehead in their operation until his death, we believe the other two names are of high stature in the organization as well.”
“And what about Joshua Lane?” Arcnote asks, turning towards Holiday, who thinks carefully before saying what he proceeds to. “We believe he’s killing them off” Holiday replies, the look of surprise coming over Arcnote’s face as she questions whether or not he’s the suspect or hero of this story. “He’s committing murder” Holiday replies, his tone not taking that of someone confident in the simplicity of the claim.
“But since most of the people he seems to be killing would just buy their way off of the stands anyway, most of us believe he’s doing more good than bad” Holiday concludes. “You’re telling me the department that let Devine do what he did is alright with vigilante work?” Arcnote asks, watching Holiday struggle to find the right response. “Any work we do to bring these guys down for what they do does nothing if we just take them to court” Holiday replies.
“Do you believe he’s a suspect in this guy’s murder?” Arcnote asks, Holiday responding with a ‘yes.’ “I’m not gonna argue with what’s right and wrong, but I know the law states that you cannot kill” Arcnote says, handing the folder off to Holiday. “Bring him in for questioning” Arcnote demands, “let’s see who we’re talking with.” Leaving the room, Arcnote begins the process of growing accustomed to the precinct she now expects herself to become very familiar with.
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
“You’re getting too close” Nora cries, reminding Josh that she had called his demise long ago. “I’m not too close, I’m right where I need to be” Josh replies, his eyes glued to the winding road ahead of him. “I used to think the same thing” Nora returns, her eyes menacingly locking onto the waterfront a few paces away. “Care to take a walk with me while we’re here?” Nora asks, the soft, whisper-like pull of her voice convincing Josh to consider it for a moment.
“No, I came here to do one thing and then I’m gone” Josh replies, his vehicle turning towards the exact spot Nora’s eyes had been locked onto. “Familiar territory, isn’t it?” the woman asks, watching the man slow the car to a stop before opening his door. “Vanish, please” Josh requests, rising from his seat and pushing the car closer to the edge of the waterfront.
“The answer’s yes” Nora whispers, her words entering Josh’s ear and wrapping around his brain like a rope. His push slowing to a halt, Josh looks a few feet off to the left and pictures the events of a night he’d been trying to, but never succeeded at dropping from his memory.
-> “It doesn’t have to go like this!” Nora cries, watching Josh pull his gun up from his side and steady his hand. Continuing to plead, Nora’s hopes fall on deaf ears as a shot fires, the burst of light from the gun reflecting in the water as another bullet fires. <-
“No, it doesn’t” Josh replies, continuing to push the car forward until it’s front wheels tip over the edge. Saying goodbye, Josh pushes the car the rest of the way over, watching it collide with the water’s surface and slowly submerge beneath the drink. “You’ll never change” Nora says, stood behind the man now turning around to meet her eyes. “I’ve changed more than you’d ever know” Josh retorts, “just because you can’t agree with the work that I do, doesn’t mean you can torment me for it.”
“You know it’s not your work that I’m with you for” Nora replies, the man wasting no time in shouting back to her, “I didn’t kill you!” Stood there, watching the girl approach him cautiously, Josh stares into her eyes as they turn a silky white. Turned away, Josh refuses her attempt to frighten, turning around to see her returned to her normal form. “I didn’t kill you” Josh replies, “I didn’t kill you, and I will never believe otherwise.”
“Fine” Nora replies with a smile, “you’re doing this to yourself.” Vanishing into thin air, Nora leaves Josh stood on the pier alone, the buzzing of his phone keeping him from dwelling on the encounter too much. “Yeah, it’s me” Josh says, listening in ass the guardian breaks the news to him. “The precinct has put your name to the case” the guardian declares, “they’re onto your work.”
“They’re gonna try to bust me for killing some low-life?” Josh asks, laughing it off and suggesting they’d never waste so much resources on a low-level offense. “They know about the pipeline” the guardian shouts, immediately catching Josh’s attention right back, “and they know about our work, all of it!” On the edge of his seat, Josh asks the guardian for his next move, the only one available to him in the moment is to return to the safehouse.
“What about Eliza?” Josh asks, “have they pinned her to it?” With the knowledge that Eliza’s name is out of the hat for the moment, Josh hurries back to the safehouse. His taxi dropping him off exactly where he needs to be, Josh rushes into his shared room with Eliza and notices something immediately alarming. “She’s not here!” Josh shouts as he calls the guardian back, red flags flying for both parties involved.
Within seconds, a buzzing comes from a random corner of the room, a burner phone lighting up with the guardian’s information in a waste basket. “She left her phone” Josh says, the guardian immediately slamming it’s fist to it’s desk on the other line. “Where the hell did she go!?” the guardian shouts, Josh at a loss for words until he notices something out of place left on the kitchen tabletop.
“It’s a receipt for hair-dye” Josh says, both he and the guardian beginning to fear that they already know where she’s going. “I’m going after her” Josh declares, the guardian immediately suggesting against that. “I’ll take care of her, you just stay put and don’t answer the door” the figure on the other line shouts, leaving Josh stranded in the middle of his room, aware of exactly what happens if Eliza gets where she’s going.
“No answer” Holiday replies, returning to Arcnote with empty hands. “Think we weren’t on the same page time-wise?” Arcnote asks, Holiday admitting that to be a strong possibility. “Is everything alright?” a voice calls out from the end of the corridor, the pair turning around to notice Becca walking gingerly to the door. “Are you here for Mr. Lane?” Arcnote asks, Becca replying with the affirmative, asking the officers of the same thing.
“We were just looking to see if we could ask him some questions” Arcnote replies, Becca immediately wondering whether or not they know anything of use. “Is he hurt?” Becca asks, the officers curious towards the suggestion. “I’ve been coming here every day for the last month” Becca replies, “I’ve called him a few times, but he hasn’t been here anytime he says he has.”
“Do you know where he is?” Holiday asks, jumping on the opportunity until Becca denies it. “I was hoping you would” the woman replies, “is something wrong?” Insisting that everything is fine, Arcnote tells her that the department will inform her if they hear of him turning up anywhere. “Alright” the woman replies, stepping back to allow the officers through. After a few moments, Becca knocks on Josh’s front door and calls out “coast is clear” to the inside.
“Did they suspect anything?” the man asks, Becca, frustratedly, replying in the negative. “What are you doing, Holland?” Becca asks, “what more do you need to let me go back to my shit?” Reminding Becca of the need for evidence, Holland makes it clear to the woman that evidence is equal to her freedom. “He’s a bad guy” Holland begins, Becca interrupting him by mirroring that statement onto Holland himself.
“But only one of us can decide when you’re free or not, ain’t it?” Holland voices, the woman looking to the ground without an answer. “Don’t waste my time with these questions” Holland says, waving for Becca to follow along as if she were a lost dog.
Her car placed into park, Eliza steps out of her vehicle and closes the door behind her, leaving behind a set of folded papers resting on the dashboard. With a deep breath, Eliza walks strolls along to the other side of a dead road and meets her destination at the window of a motel. “Key 14T” Eliza utters, the man stationed at the window immediately lifting his head from his check-in book and pulls a special card from beneath his desk.
“Beneath the mural” the kid exclaims, immediately closing the window as soon as the woman takes the key. Turning around, the woman, now sporting the look of a dastardly redhead approaches the one room cut off from the remainder of the motel’s main exterior. Her eyes briefly taking view of a set of headlights in the distance, Eliza performs a double-take, returning to her view of the vehicle as it speeds up.
Turning into the lot, the vehicle hits the brakes as it lines up with Eliza, who dives out of the way as rocks splatter against the cedar tiles of the building itself. Taking cover behind a wooden pillar, Eliza retrieves a gun from her boot and fires a round randomly towards her attacker’s direction, putting him in the position to duck for cover behind his car. Taking this moment as he opportunity, Eliza hurries for the door marked ‘14T’ as the man pulls his head over the hood of the vehicle.
A firearm brandished in his hands, the man fires one shot directly at Eliza, the bullet fired immediately ripping through her side and planting her into the ground with a thud. “We’ve got her, boss” the figure calls out, hanging up before beginning to assess and bandage the wounds. Having hit her head on the tumble, Eliza fades out of consciousness as the man ties her hands together and begins dragging her back to his vehicle.
Left on the ground, the ‘14T’ room key Eliza no longer had the awareness to hold onto, remains partially buried beneath the pebble-covered ground as the vehicle speeds off with Eliza inside.
“We have one possible suspect possibly on the run, and we have two other figures in the ring as of yet unknown” Holidays explains, “where do you want to start first?” Considering her options, Arcnote wants a team of people finding out the identities between the two alias’ listed on Holiday’s report. “Until we know who’s circled, I want to know where Joshua Lane is” Arcnote says, her prayers seemingly answered as soon as they’re uttered.
“Ms. Arcnote, we have someone with information they say they’d like to share with you” an unnamed officer declares, leading her to the interrogation room where Becca awaits. “Ms. Havish, is it?” Arcnote asks, walking in alongside Holiday. “My officer said you had information to share with us?” the detective asks, Becca confirming that suggestion by placing her phone atop the table.
“What is this?” Arcnote asks, Becca informing her of the photo on the screen being that of which she had taken the month prior. “Why is this important?” Arcnote asks, Becca requesting that they speak about this matter without the presence of those behind the two-way glass. Nodding to those stationed behind, Arcnote listens to Becca explain that a leak coming from the department is that they’re running down a shortlist of potential drivers of a classic, cherry red muscle car.
“The suggestion is that you think whomever was driving it is connected to a murder” Becca continues, watching the eyes of both Arcnote and Holiday glance back and forth to each other. “Take a closer look at the picture” Becca says, pointing out the make and model of the car being imprinted in the leader glove compartment cover. “Joshua Lane owns a classic, cherry red muscle car, and he won’t tell me where he is” Becca concludes, giving the detective’s their tip.
Exiting the station, Becca walks into the waiting arms of Holland, who plays the role of her boyfriend as the detective’s look on. “Is that enough?” Becca asks, the fake smile plastered across the man’s face parting long enough to tell Becca of more work needing to be done. “When he’s behind bars, you’re free” Holland replies, holding the passenger’s door open for the girl and preparing to drive off.
“Let’s put a B.O.L.O out on Lane” Arcnote says, Holiday already putting in the request before Holland’s vehicle can even hit its first stoplight.
“Untie me, assholes!” Eliza shouts, the door to the safehouse swinging open to reveal an aggravated Josh storming inside with his temper heightened. “What the hell was she doing!?” Josh shouts, the woman immediately turning her face away from the man as he looks towards an unnamed man for answers. “All I know is that guardian sent me” the man replies, attempting to suggest they wait before adding anything to the conversation until the door opens again.
With a briefcase in hand, the figure closes the door behind himself and turns towards the trio, his face covered by a metallic-like mask, a gate-like pattern over the mouth the only thing leaving skin visible. “You may leave” the figure orders to the unnamed man, who stares at him with a look of amazement. “Yes, you’ve seen me… Now go” the figure reiterates, watching the man snap from his gaze and do as instructed.
Looking back to the pair, the figure takes a seat before them and directs Josh to a chair near the corner of the room. “Are you the guardian?” Eliza asks, the figure refusing to answer her question, having stripped her of her right to do so. “Are you the guardian?” Josh asks, the figure affirming his suspicions as the attention centers around the woman. From his pocket, the guardian unfurls a folded piece of paper left behind by Eliza and begins reading it aloud.
The suicide note of a woman knowing that this is her final action before her fate is sealed, the guardian continues to read as Eliza simmers without any outlet to relieve. “She was going to infiltrate the pipeline ahead of schedule or die trying” the guardian concludes, “she was looking for a way to be done with this once and for all.” His eyes glued onto Eliza, who refuses to share his gaze, Josh asks why she would do that if she’s begun to come around to the truth behind their work.
“She hasn’t” the guardian replies, making the woman’s mind up for her. “She got dragged into this, it wasn’t her work by choice” the figure continues, standing from his seat and opening his briefcase, “if she can find a way out, she’ll take it or die trying.” Refusing to give the guardian credit, Eliza clarifies that he is only partially correct, speaking ill on her true outlook on the work itself.
“I’d rather die than live in a world where there’s no way out from this” Eliza replies, “this is your work, that’s fine, I understand why you believe that it’s necessary, but it’s not mine.” Her stare turning away from Josh and centering itself on the guardian, Eliza tells him that the fault of her predicament lies solely on his shoulders, only for the guardian to twist that knife right back in the direction of the girl herself.
“You didn’t need to do as instructed” the guardian says, “I never threatened you with anything, I simply stated that I know the secrets you wouldn’t want anyone else knowing about.” His hands folded together at his hips, the guardian tells Eliza that he’s never blackmailed anyone into doing anything, he’s simply stated a fact and let the individuals take it from there. “You can’t blame me for pulling a trigger, detonating a bomb, slicing at a throat” the guardian concludes.
“Let her go then” Josh says, “if you’re not forcing her to keep this up, let her go and move on with her life.” Reminding Josh of the kill list, the guardian tells Josh that any involvement that Eliza’s had has been because of him. “What will you do if she stops then?” Josh asks, closing the distance between himself and the guardian. “If she’s not being blackmailed, what does she have to worry about you knowing her secrets?” the man continues, testing the guardian’s word.
“If she’s free to go, then fine… None of this is on you” Josh continues, eventually getting close enough to the guardian that he matches every step forward of Josh’s with a step back of his own. “But if any of these secrets end up in the wrong hands, then you’re no guardian, you’re just a fucking puppet master” Josh concludes, eventually backing the guardian up against the wall, daring the figure to prove him wrong.
“You’re on a kill list” the guardian replies, his hand sticking out and lightly pushing Josh back with a single finger, “as long as you’re alive, you ought to be thanking me.” Pushed back far enough, Josh pulls the gun from his holster and takes aim at the guardian’s head, the figure immediately raising his hands. “Let her go and prove to me that you’re worthy of trust” Josh demands, the guardian pressing himself against the wall.
“Tell me that she’s free to go!” Josh shouts, one eye narrowed further than the other as the guardian goes silent for a moment. “No” the figure replies, Josh’s lip arching when the answer isn’t one he had anticipated. “Well” Josh replies, “I guess you’re just as responsible as we are” as he lowers the gun, returning it to his holster. “I suppose you’re right” the guardian replies, “but I’m not on the losing… Not anymore.”
“What do you mean by ‘not anymore’?” Eliza asks, the pair looking towards the figure as it stares blankly at the ground. “I used to be part of the pipeline” the guardian admits, the revelation bringing a surprise to both, “before it became what it is now, that is.” Going into detail about the origins, the guardian reveals that the group took a turn when people with power decided that they needed an industry to hold a strangle hold on.
“Once suggestions started turning sour, I called them out on it” the guardian replies, “that’s when I left. They overhauled everything down to their location, and no one was allowed to leave.” Looking up to Josh, the guardian tells him that he’s aware of the conversations he’s had with Eliza, eventually turning to face the woman herself and answer the question often raised by her.
“There’s a big difference between vigilantes and monsters more than just what the public believes” the guardian replies, kneeling beside her. “I’ve been around monsters before, and we are not monsters.” A buzz coming from his briefcase, the guardian retreats to it, checking his phone to find a notification he hoped would never come.
“You’re ‘bolo-ed’, Josh” the guardian says, providing the man with proof of the New York City police department coming after him once again. “Go back to the safehouse’ the guardian instructs, “stay there until I tell you otherwise.” When asked about Eliza, the guardian tells him that she needs to be looked after until he can be assured she won’t do something stupid again.
“No!” Eliza shouts, “let me out of here!” she screams as she further strains her wounds. “Josh, listen to me” the guardian says, “she’s gonna jeopardize everything or get herself killed, probably both, if we don’t do anything.” Accepting the point being made, Josh leaves the room and makes for his ticket back to the safehouse as Eliza stares down the man behind the mask, telling him that he’s going to regret making that decision as Josh departs.
“Let go of me you pigs!” a man with his hands tied behind his back shouts, his head covered with a black potato sack as his boots drag across the ground. “You’ve got no clue who you’re messing with!” the man continues shouting, watching the heavily obstructed sights of being carried by two large men down a corridor filled with natural light. “Hurry up and get him quiet” a woman shouts from behind, the pace of the men picking up with the demand.
“Yes, boss” one of the men replies, the woman responding with a very prominent “don’t you care” in his direction as the man laughs. “You’re messing with the big boys now!” the man shouts, continuing to struggle as the two men carry him into a much darker room with only one source of light directly opposite the seat he’s been placed upon. “Tie him up” one of the men orders, the attempt falling short when the imprisoned man stands up and makes a dash straight ahead.
“You’ll never get me to talk!” the man shouts, continuing to run with no one following after him. “It’ll serve its purpose” one of the men says, remaining stood as the cloaked man inches towards the light. “I’m free!” the man shouts, leaping at the lightsource as it grows nearer before running into a long piece of machinery and collapsing back to the concrete ground. “Let’s go” one of the men says, he and his partner walking up to the suicidal figure and returning him to his seat.
Placed and restrained, the man tells his captors to ‘fuck off’ as he tries to regain his breath, ultimately finding himself blinded when the sack is suddenly ripped from his head. “Alright now” one of the men says, pulling the man’s face near his own and telling him to play nice. “You got any water, Virgil?” Josh asks, Eliza walking up behind the man as Virgil pours a bottle of water over the prisoner’s head.
“Now” Josh says, rubbing his hands in anticipation for what comes next, “where do we start?”
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
-> Twenty-Four Hours Earlier <-
“Sam cherry red, huh?” Nora asks, refusing to allow Josh to drive alone as he nears the outskirts of New York on his return to Eliza’s place. Before he has a chance to retort, Josh’s phone begins buzzing, the caller ID sparking a smile from the man. “Lady friend?” Nora asks, the smile on Josh’s face immediately fading as he rolls the convertible top back up and answers the call.
“Becca, to what do I owe this surprise?” Josh asks, the woman on the other line apologizing for having freaked out days prior. “I’m just under a lot of stress and I get a little paranoid when I work long hours and don’t sleep between any of them” Becca replies, asking Josh if they can talk later that evening. “Sure, swing by my place after you get out of work” Josh replies, the woman on the other line suggesting they go somewhere more public.
“What did you have in mind?” Josh asks, before Becca suggests they meet for dinner. “Can I scratch this off as the date that I owe you?” Josh asks, the woman telling him not to get too confident. “I’ll pick you up at eight” Josh replies, “for real this time.” Telling the man that she looks forward to it, Becca hangs up, leaving Josh to glance at Nora, who shakes her head.
“You never learn, do you Joshua?” Nora asks, the man telling her to leave his passenger’s seat or remain quiet. “You don’t get to give your subconscious an ultimatum” Nora replies, Josh reminding her that it is his head she takes residency within. “If I want to put you aside, I can” the man replies, the woman insisting that he stop trying to convince himself of something so untrue.
“I’m not going to leave until you realize that there’s no escaping what you did” Nora replies, “every detail down to the most specific of statements.” Refusing to drive another inch with Nora’s badgering beside him, Josh takes his exit from the highway and pulls onto the side of the road. “I didn’t kill you, Nora” Josh says, making it as clean-cut as he possibly can, “you got yourself in hot water, and what happened was on you.”
With a smirk, Nora runs her hand down Josh’s cheek until he pulls away, telling her that she has no pull over him. “Of course I do” Nora replies, “that’s why you killed me.” Hitting his steering wheel, Josh begins to shout “I didn’t kill you” before he pauses, playing the memory out in his head as if he were watching a haunted recollection of his worst nightmares.
// “Josh, please don’t go this!” Nora screams, the dead of night allowing the sole reflection of the moonlight to originate from the bounce of it off of the surface of the sea. Behind the woman lays a man oozing blood from his mouth and his nose, one half of his left hand removed. “Josh, please” Nora begs as Josh slowly raises the gun in the air. “Josh, please don’t do this!” the woman continues to beg, Josh gasping for air with a vindictive smile on his face. //
Just as the gun fires, Josh returns to his current scene, the car parked as it had been moments prior, the only difference being Nora having vanished from the passenger’s seat. Rubbing his eyes, Josh starts the car up again and continues his drive. After nearly another hour, Josh finds himself pulling into the front lot of Eliza’s home. After a few knocks on the door, the woman answers, welcoming the man and the bouquet of flowers he bought along the way inside.
“How thoughtful” Eliza remarks, Josh smirking as he replies that it was the only thing they had at the dollar store. Before either can get situated, the pair watch a third car pull into the lot and park beside Josh’s. Emerging from the vehicle is a black man in a long, white suit pulling a pistol from his sports jacket. “Do you have the gun I gave you?” Josh asks, telling Eliza to fetch it as he retrieves his own.
Knocking at the door, the man on the other end requests entry, referencing Josh and Eliza by name. The door remaining shut, the man hears the mechanisms within unlock, serving as the signal to allow him inside. With three steps, the man finds the barrel of Josh’s gun placed to the inside of his neck, telling him that he has five seconds to explain what his reasoning for being here is or else his blood would paint the wooden floorboards.
“I am the man the guardian sent for your help in Operation Crook” the man replies, Josh’s eyes narrowing just before his phone begins buzzing uncontrollably. “I see he is late to the party” the man replies, muttering under his breath “as per usual” as he locks eyes on Eliza. “I see you’ve met Virgil” the guardian replies on the other end, the man waving to Josh as he overhears the guardian on the speaker.
“Sorry for being late, let’s have everyone take a seat in the living room so we can get started” the guardian continues, Josh immediately looking out of the front door. “Josh, you’re not going to spot me, please take a seat so we can continue” the guardian says, watching from afar as Josh shuts the door and takes a seat. “I assume Virgil mentioned ‘Operation Crook’ so you wouldn’t blow his brains out” the guardian asks, Virgil confirming.
“Early tomorrow morning, you’re going to meet a man by the name of Drake Minosha” the guardian instructs, “you’re going to catch him off guard, he thinks he’s buying catalogs from you.” Questioning what he means by ‘catalogs’, Josh requests for the guardian to stop the second he mentions the idea of a collection of child pornography. “He’s going to have some muscle, so you’ll need to act quickly and quietly” the guardian concludes.
“Josh, I’ve sent a location to your phone, and that is where you will take him.” Questioning what exactly they’re holding another guy hostage for, the guardian replies that they’ll be using Drake as bait. “Number one, you won’t kill this one” the guardian says, his brief pause giving Josh the chance to glance at Eliza. “Number two, he has insider information on how you can manage to infiltrate the pipeline” the guardian continues, his second portion immediately raising red flags.
“Guardian, I thought you said were going to take it down?” Josh asks, the guardian insisting that the smartest move would be to take it down from the inside. “Once he’s given you that information, you’ll do whatever you want with him” the guardian concludes, leaving fate to decide. “Everybody on the same page?” the mysterious figure asks, the group going around and sharing a nod to each other.
With that, the phone hangs up and the three are left to look towards each other with the eyes of those that are about to wage an act of war against New York’s most dangerous forces. “This isn’t going to end well, is it?” Eliza asks, looking to Virgil, who in turn looks to Josh as he puts his head in his hands. “No, it most likely will not” the man replies, glancing back towards his new partners with the look of a man knowing that this evening might be their final evening.
“I had a lot of fun” Becca says, thanking Josh for a fun night. “Of course” the man replies, returning the thanks to her. “Call me soon?” Becca asks, Josh nodding, “I’ll think of something clever and test it out on you.” With a wink, Becca closes the door behind the man and allows him to drive off. Entering her home, Becca hangs her coat on a rack beside her door and greets a man waiting for her on the sofa in her living room.
“So?” the man asks, watching Becca pull her hair into a ponytail and toss the man a tape recorder. “Literally nothing the entire night” the girl replies, walking over to her kitchen and pouring herself a glass of champagne. “He didn’t say anything?” the man continues to ask, the woman continuing to deny. “I don’t know what your end game is here, and I don’t think I want to” Becca replies, “I just want to get back to living my life and being done with whatever you’re doing here.”
“You will be” the man replies, walking over to the woman, who stares forward blankly as he runs his finger down her chin. “But if you want us to leave you alone, you’re going to have to give us something worth letting you go for” the man continues, “and that’s your ticket back.” Nodding, the woman downs the remainder of her champagne as the man returns to the sofa. Wiping away a tear, Becca pours herself another glass and places the blank look back on.
“Are we ready?” Josh asks, fitting his gloves onto his hands as he pulls his firearm from his holster and readies himself around the corner from Drake’s armed crew. “On my count” Josh says, counting to three and emerging from the corner to find the men, having been alive and well moments prior, laying dead in a pool of their own blood with holes in each of their heads.
Suddenly, Josh’s phone begins buzzing erratically once more, the call from the guardian coming as the figure on the other line tells Josh ‘you’re welcome’ before hanging up. Figuring them to still be watched, Josh gives a thumbs up to no one before sneaking into the back entrance. Checking a message from the guardian on his phone, Josh is told exactly where to find Drake, almost walking by it as his face was glued to his screen.
Surrounded by overnight staff, Drake sits alone waiting for his guards to arrive with the car. “Hands up, don’t move!” Josh calls out, holding the gun at the man before he immediately looks to make a getaway. “Stop!” Josh shouts, his order being obstructed when Virgil picks up a pan and hurls it towards the man, knocking him unconscious before he could call for help. “Nice shot” Josh says, watching Virgil walk over to Drake and slap restraints onto him.
“These guys are trained in a specific way, if you put him in the chair and he runs, just let it all play out” Josh says, reading the guardian’s test aloud to the group. “It’s bad enough you’re making me drive into Connecticut at dawn” Eliza says, “don’t tell me about how fun it’s gonna be to play with our victims.” Looking towards Josh, Virgil asks if she’s new to the idea, the man confirming Virgil’s suspicions.
“I got dragged into this” Eliza replies, Josh’s eyes rolling whilst Virgil tells her that his fate happened the exact same way. “What do you mean, big guy?” Josh asks, the man with little known backstory admitting to having gotten a random call from the guardian one night he served a job outside Michigan. “He asked me if I wanted to ‘put my talents to good’ in New York” Virgil recalls, “he put me on the first flight out and told me to stay on my toes.”
“So the guardian recruited you?” Josh asks, Virgil looking at him with surprise that he hadn’t already figured it out. “The guardian used to recruit a ton of dudes, man!” Virgil replies, the surprise on Josh’s face telling Virgil all he needed to know. “How’d he reach you two?” Virgil asks, curious as to why they weren’t recruits in much of the same fashion.
“He called me because he couldn’t get a hold of him” Eliza replies, leaving only Josh’s past to dig up. “He called me after an encounter I had with an old colleague of mine” Josh replies, “got me out of a few tricky situations.” Completely aware of what Josh is getting at, Virgil informs him of the guardian’s trick towards pulling people in. “When they need help, he’s there to keep eyes and that’s all she wrote for you” Virgil replies, “you’re indebted for life.”
Refusing to think about what that means for his own future, Josh insteads looks towards Eliza, who stares forward with the ominous eyes of someone having punched their ticket. “It’s alright, Eliza” Josh says, the woman glaring at him before calming her nerves. Apologizing for being so up front with everything, Virgil tells Eliza that she simply seems like she was dragged in. “If he didn’t intend to bring you in, he’ll let you walk” Virgil says, restoring a small bit of hope.
After another hour of driving, the prisoner is dragged back into his seat and Josh eagerly stares into his eyes, awaiting their first action. “You interested in talking?” Josh asks, Drake balling up spit in his mouth and targeting Josh, who learned his lesson days prior and tilts his head away. “Nice try” Josh replies, slapping the man across the face with a steady hand, taking joy in watching the red mark grow more apparent with each second.
“Tell us about the pipeline” Josh says, watching the man ready another ball of spit until Josh slaps him again, forcing the loogie onto the ground. “The last time someone spit in my face, I broke his clavicle and shot him through the eyes” Josh says, getting close to Drake’s face, “do you really want to press your luck with me?” Watching the man’s eyes twitch Josh realizes Drake to be forming another ball of spit in his mouth, taking action before hand this time around.
Covering Drake’s mouth with one hand, Josh becomes livid and digs his thumb into the man’s nostril, pushing upwards as the sound of cartilage begins tearing alongside Drake’s screams. Pulling his finger free, Josh watches the blood begin trickling before asking Drake again if he’d like to work with them. Nodding, Drake lures Josh into a false sense of hope and spits in his face, this time hitting his target, only bringing Josh into a greater rage.
Wiping the saliva from his eye, Josh smiles and nods before walking away from Drake and picking up a bowling ball. The second his eyes spot the weighted green sphere, Drake begins to worry, watching josh take the ball with both hands and swing it as Drake’s mouth. After a deep growl of pain, Drake spits out a few sets of shattered teeth, watching them bounce upon the ground before coming to a rest.
“You’re gonna kill me anyway, faggot” Drake continues, “I’m not gonna go out like a rat.” Accepting his fate, the prisoner watches Josh nod and walk away, allowing Virgil to have a go at opening his mouth. Stepping up to the batter’s box, Eliza sticks her hand out, stopping Virgil from progressing too close. “Give me a shot at him” Eliza says, Josh turning around to watch Eliza grab a baseball bat, surprised by the sight of the woman taking initiative.
“Look at this pretty little piece of pussy” Drake exclaims, laughing at the sight of her stepping up to take her shot at cracking him open. “What’s your fine ass doing with these pu-” Drake begins, his cowardly dares for the group to act being turned into muffled screams as Eliza places her hand over his mouth and takes the head of the bat to his groin. “You bitch!” Drake shouts, silenced once more when Eliza brings the bat down on his left kneecap, shattering it into pieces.
“Fuck you, whore!” Drake shouts, the bat coming down on his knee again, furthering the damage before bringing kicks to her targeted spot. “Do you wanna talk now!?” Eliza asks, her hands clutching at the man’s throat as he screams in a mixture of agony and horror, staring the woman directly in the eyes. “You’re the woman of death!” Drake shouts, watching Eliza’s eyes flare with fury as she demands he speak.
“No!” Drake shouts, giving Eliza the chance to take another few swings at his irreparably damaged knee. “Speak, bitch!” Eliza shouts, spit flying from her lips until Josh drags her away, telling her to take a breath. “You’re crazy, bitch!” Drake shouts, his knee causing a great deal of pain as Eliza takes a few deep breaths, coming down from the high of whatever she considers that to have been.
“You still with me?” Josh asks, holding her head up as she nods. “I’m turning into you, aren’t I?” Eliza asks, the fear of what she’d just done being replaced by the fear of what she’s already become. “Don’t think about that right now” Josh replies, holding her close, “just forget about all of that.”
Over a month later, Josh goes about his day as if it were any other. His morning routine consists of a morning run, a solo trip to the local cafe and a chat with Lou, grocery shopping, the overseeing of a real-estate business and a trip to the outskirts of New York. “You ready?” Josh asks, watching Eliza stroll into his car as they make another one of their daily trips to Connecticut.
“I’ll call you tomorrow” Josh replies, hanging up the phone call with Becca as he and Eliza pull into the abandoned worksite. “He talked yet?” Josh asks as he and Eliza stroll in and make themselves at home. Having placed a couch, refrigerator and brand new porto-potty in the space, the group stays in for the long-haul, ready to ride this task all the way out.
“Nothing yet” Virgil replies, throwing another water balloon at a greatly-soaked Drake. “He that bad?” Josh asks, Virgil pointing to the puddle of urine and feces beneath Drake’s chair as the indicator that the soapy water balloons have their place. “He’s so against looking like a rat that he’d rather shit himself than give up any tiny amount of information?” Josh asks, Drake speaking up by telling the man that he will go down as a hero.
“A hero?” Josh asks, laughing as he hands Virgil a stack of magazines to keep him company. “Who are you gonna go down as a hero to, Drake?” Josh asks, “a syndicate of child pornography watchers and traders?” Joining Virgil on the sofa, Josh admits that he doesn’t understand the loyalty behind Drake’s motives. “You act like this is the mafia, or the cartel” Josh says, “you’re just a bunch of sex offenders!”
Standing up and dousing Drake with air freshner, Josh makes it clear to the man restrained to a chair that he will not go down as a hero. “You’re swearing loyalty to a bunch of low life’s, this isn’t hard-nosed business” Josh says, “this is a bunch of rich, elitist assholes with the money to make you feel like a hotshot.” Catching the sound of something he finds interesting, Drake looks up and asks if he heard Josh correctly when he said ‘elitist assholes.’
“You heard me correctly, Drakey” Josh replies, watching the laughter attempt to escape the quivering lips of their prisoner. “Elitist assholes like you?” Drake asks, the confidence in Josh’s face turning into anger. “You want this one?” Josh asks, looking towards Eliza, who quickly leaps from her seat on a rustic, run-down chair. Picking up a butter knife, Eliza walks over to the man, who immediately begins praying once he notices, his following screams resonating throughout the entire complex.
Days later, Josh stands at the same rooftop spot he and Eliza shared nearly one month prior, staring out at the skyline alone until Eliza rides the elevator to join him. “It’s getting colder” Eliza exclaims, making her presence known to the man, who suggests that Drake will have Virgil to keep him cozy in all of this. Walking beside him, Eliza joins Josh’s view party as the sun finally sets to the point that every light in nearly every building lights up at once.
“And there’s the spectacle!” Josh proclaims, Eliza’s laughter finally sounding normal to him once more. “About what I asked you a few weeks ago…” Eliza sets up, the question catching Josh by surprise. “...You never answered it” the girl continues, Josh asking for a refresher. “When I asked about whether or not I was turning into you” Eliza replies, the mention of the question immediately dropping Josh’s head.
“Well, I don’t know…” Josh begins, turning towards Eliza and making sure the pair are looking at each other as he asks, “what’s wrong with being me?” Paying close attention to her following words, Josh is surprised to hear the woman admit to not being sure anymore. “I keep trying to think of what I feared about you, but everytime I do, I come up with something that I am too” Eliza replies, “and it makes me hate who I see in the mirror.”
Holding back tears, Eliza asks Josh to remind her about the point he made between vigilantes and monsters. “I said people argue over whether or not vigilantes serve a good purpose” Josh replies, “and you can’t have that same conversation about a monster.” Shaking her head, Eliza corrects Josh, telling him that he didn’t use those words. “You said people commonly argue about whether vigilantes are good or bad, not whether or not they serve a good purpose” Eliza replies.
“So which is it?” Eliza continues, watching Josh look towards the chain around her throat. “Yin and Yang” Josh proclaims, “you can’t have one without the other.” When asked what he means, Josh says that it’s whether or not they’re good or bad. “People know they serve a purpose, they don’t know whether it’s a good or bad one” Josh continues, “but you can’t have one without the other.”
Clearing her throat and taking a deep breath, Eliza tells Josh to answer her honestly when she asks her next question. “Are we the good guys or are we the bad guys?” the woman continues, watching Josh’s head tilt confidently up. “To them, we’re the criminals” Josh says, pointing out to the sea of humanity flooding New York in these very moments, “but to whatever logic governs this world, we’re the good guys.”
“Ask yourself where they’d be if we hadn’t killed them” Josh follows, “ask yourself how many other people that currently live comfortable lives wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for us.” Returning for the elevator, Josh places his hand on Eliza’s shoulder and reminds her that they’re the same more than they ever have been before. “You climbed off of that ledge” Josh continues, “now start working out how to look at yourself in the mirror the right way again.”
With that, Josh enters the elevator and watches Eliza look to him with the full moon just beside her as the elevator doors close. Looking towards the moon herself, Eliza feels the wind pick up and become chilly once again, prompting her to take a seat on a wooden bench and enjoy the view.
“Another day, another dollar” Josh walks in shouting, handing Virgil a cup of coffee before pouring an undisclosed fourth one over the head of Drake. “Drink up!” Josh shouts, basking in the sounds of the man’s screaming of pain as steam rises from his body. “It’s in the old tunnels!” Drake shouts, catching Josh by surprise. “Shut up!” Virgil shouts, laughing to himself before he and Eliza realize what he was trying to say, “nevermind, keep talking!”
“They’re stationed out in the old bureau tunnels in Buffalo!” Drake shouts once more, prompting Eliza to send the revelation into the guardian. “Anything else?” Josh asks, the man telling him to let him use the restroom like a human being before he gets anymore information. Caving, Josh unties the restraints and allows Drake to hobble to the porto-potty, knowing he can’t get far with his wounds.
After a few hours, the sun begins to set whilst Drake remains restrained in his seat. “We’re gonna need more” Josh says, “how the hell can we blend in with these guys?” Running down a checklist of marks to have, Drake tells them that they need an open invitation on hand anytime they return to the entry points. “Give us yours” Josh demands, Drake shaking off the suggestion, stating that he only has one whilst the group themselves need three.
“Is there anyone we can go to for that?” Virgil asks, his question unable to be answered when the sound of popping begins ringing out at the back of the site. “You all heard that too, right?” Eliza asks, the sound returning closer, presenting itself as gunfire. Directing Eliza to lookout on the escape hatch, Josh watches Virgil storm through the open slot in the building. “I’ll check the front” Virgil says, turning one corner to immediately find himself being shot at.
“Go, you’ve gotta go now!” Virgil shouts, running behind Josh as the man squeezes through a slot in the wall. “Virgil, let’s-!” Josh shouts, stopping halfway through to get Virgil to hurry quicker, only for his sights to stumble upon the man dropping to the ground with a bullet flying through the slot between his eyes. Taking it as his sign, Josh squeezes the rest of the way through and continues booking it, shouting for Eliza to run once he spots her.
An assortment of armed mercenaries chasing after them, Josh and Eliza leap over a broken wall and drop into a jumble of mattresses and blankets. Hurrying into the vehicle, Josh starts the engine and pulls the vehicle onto the road, making their daring escape just in time to watch the mercenaries stand in the spot they once were parked watch them drive off into the sunset.
“They shouldn’t have let me use the bathroom” Drake says proudly, watching a man tower over him with his mouth covered by a gater. “Help me up, boss” Drake says, watching the man walk behind the chair and pull out a knife. “Let’s show those fools who they’re fucking with” Drake says, surprised when the man grabs him by the chin and runs a knife over his throat, allowing the dirty white undershirt he’s had on for over a month stain with a fountain of red from his neck.
Bleeding out, Drake’s head slumps down as the man behind him wipes the blade on his black combat pants. “Leave the bodies” the man orders as the mercenaries return through the tiny slot in the wall. Walking off, the pipeline makes their presence known, taking out one of the guardian’s recruits with two new targets caught directly in their crosshairs.
“Why is she staying with you again?” Eliza asks, descending the stairs with Josh after he informed the lady residing in his apartment that he’d be home later in the evening. “She got that note from the pipeline” Josh replies, “it was a dig at me, sent through her.” Walking for the side exit, Eliza is called for by the man, who tells her that there’s one stop they need to make before they depart.
Entering the parking garage, Josh combs through the lots without the memory of his last spot, ultimately beckoned by the call of cherry-red paint and black seats lit beneath a dying lightbulb. “You expect to not stand out in this?” Eliza asks, her hand motioning towards a well-maintained convertible sporting the look of a classic American muscle car. Hopping into the vehicle like a kid on spring break, Josh turns the keys in the ignition and puts up the convertible roof.
“There!” Josh replies, “all better!” Her eyes rolling, Eliza climbs into the passengers seat and the vehicle drives off, entering the New York streets for the first time in weeks. “How exactly does this guy expect to get insider information?” Eliza asks, “you’d expect members of an underground child porno circuit would learn to keep their mouths shut about what they do for a living.”
With a smirk, Josh tells Eliza that there will always be weak links in a system of chains. “The only way to bring the chain down is to break the weakest link in it” the driver says, turning towards Long Island, “so the pipeline keeps extra support around that link to make sure it doesn’t snap.” Her arm hanging out the window, Eliza asks why any of this information would be reassuring to their current task.
“If you take out the support keeping that link upright, you get the weak link all to yourself” Josh replies, the eyes of Eliza losing their poise as she takes a glance towards Josh. “You’re not gonna kill them, are you?” the woman asks, the man looking towards her, asking if she has an issue with the murder of child-endangering sociopaths. “I have a problem with killing in general” Eliza replies, Josh reminding her of the ease it took for her to kill Devine.
“You should have let me go down for that” Eliza returns, Josh making sure she hears him clearly. “I wasn’t gonna let you take the fall for something you didn’t deserve to take” Josh retorts, “and considering the only other person that knows that wants pipeline bastards dead, I’d suggest you change your primary issues real quickly.”
Biting her lip, Eliza begins her attempt at accepting that she’s now become a part of Josh’s bigger picture now, forcing her into a state of discomfort. Handing her a handgun, Josh tells her to simply take it and use it if she needs to. “I’ll do the killing, you just cuff the link when I tell you to” Josh says, “but if I go down, this is the only thing that’ll keep you alive.” Truly wanting to hop out of the car instead, Eliza reluctantly takes the firearm and places it in her boot.
“I’m beginning to hate you more and more” Eliza says, Josh glancing towards her and laughing. “I’ve gotten used to it by now” the man returns, keeping his eyes on the wheel as he drives onto the freeway, leaving behind downtown New York with his hands ready to be bloodied once again.
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
“Did I stutter?” a man pimped out in jewelry almost overloaded with diamond says, watching an aggravated armed enforcer hush down and return to his phone. “De, nothing’s gonna throw us off the game” another unnamed enforcement assures, the pimped out leader quelling his nerves about potential exposure as the door bell rings. “Get the pizza, fool” Deangelo directs, the initial armed enforcer grabbing a few loose bills and walking towards the door.
“Just take the cash and-” the enforcer begins, the end of his order being stifled when a bullet rips its way through his head. Still stood in the doorway, Josh fires off another round, taking out the second armed figure before shooting Deangelo in the arm. “Having a little group therapy session?” Josh jokes, Eliza stood frozen in the doorway as the initial victim lays at her feet.
“Care to do the honors?” Josh asks, snapping her out of her unconscious daze as his foot rests itself on the back of the wounded target’s neck. “I’m sorry!” Deangelo shouts, his apology being accompanied by his groans of pain, “I’ll give you whatever you want!” Tossing Eliza the handcuffs, Josh replies that he wants answers, and he’s very much aware of how easily he is going to get them.
“Let me go!” Deangelo shouts, his mouth immediately being silenced when Josh forces a sock between his teeth, telling him to bite down. “That’s not gonna happen so easily” Josh replies, picking the man up and leading him away from the apartment.
Beneath the cover of total darkness nearly an hour later, Josh leads a blindfolded Deangelo into a run down building surrounded by the remnants of a dismantled plaza. Followed closely by Eliza, Josh drags a chair from a random corner of the room and shoves Deangelo into it before tying him in. “You don’t know who you’re fucking with!” Deangelo shouts, Josh replying with a thunderous backhand to Deangelo’s face, causing him to go momentarily silent in pain.
“Shut your mouth” Josh returns, ensuring the restraints are as reinforced as they can be. “Now” Josh says, braggadociously strolling to a hammer left in the middle of the floor, “what shall we look for first?” Trying to get some leverage, Deangelo tells Josh that he’s going to come away empty handed if he’s looking for answers. “The pipeline’s tight-lipped” Deangelo quipers, “ain’t none of us gonna tell a word to you!”
Pulling a chair up for Eliza to have a seat, Josh walks back to the man, asking if he’s confident in that assessment. Confirming his side, Deangelo smiles at Josh, telling him that he’s got nothing to keep him safe from the pipeline. “Is that so?” Josh asks, his own smile spreading on his face before he brings the hammer down on Deangelo’s foot, causing a deafening shriek of pain.
“You fuckin’ faggot!” Deangelo shouts, Josh following his surprise attack by placing his shoe onto the man’s injured foot and gradually adding pressure. “It’s the modern world, Deangelo” Josh replies, lifting his foot, “you should be more open minded.” Gasping for breath, Deangelo listens to Josh grant Eliza permission to step outside and get some fresh air. “You don’t have to sit through this” Josh says, “I’ll come get you when I’m done here.”
“Weak stomach, eh!?” Deangelo interrupts, another backhand from Josh silencing him before he can add any further details. “I should stay” Eliza replies, “If I’m stuck in your world, I should start figuring out how you navigate it.” Shrugging, Josh tells Eliza to suit herself, turning back to the captive man and crouching. “How about you tell me where the main pipeline meets for a start, De?” Josh asks, Deangelo getting lucky, spitting forward, his saliva landing in Josh’s eye.
Wiping it away slowly, Josh rises to his feet, the slow pace audible in the sand beneath his shoes gradually grinding against the ground. Assuming himself to have screwed up, Deangelo quickly removes his smile, telling Josh that he meant nothing by it. “Eat shit” Josh replies, lifting the hammer into the air again and bringing it down directly beside his head, the snapping of Deangelo’s clavicle being followed by a howl for mercy.
“Where the fuck do you meet?” Josh asks, leaning towards Deangelo closely enough for the two to become inches apart, one hand holding his prisoner’s head towards his own, the other adding pressure to the shattered bone. “You’re hurting me!” Deangelo shouts, Josh continuing to increase pressure. “Tell me where you meet!” Josh screams, his spit flying from his mouth and landing at random spots on Deangelo’s face.
“The Lone Wolf!” Deangelo shouts, his pleas for mercy turning into a cry as he directs Josh towards a rundown motel on the outskirts of Buffalo. “Oh goddamnit!” Josh shouts, walking away from Deangelo as the tortured man horrifically groans in pain. “What?” Eliza asks, surprised by the unusual response by the man now creating distance between himself and his captive.
“I fucking hate Buffalo” Josh replies, Eliza rolling her eyes as she turns back to the prisoner, noticing the sharpened clavicle bone ripping through his skin. “How many of you are there?” Josh asks, his back towards Deangelo as his hands take residency on his hips. “A couple hundred” Deangelo replies, his answers barely coming together in a coherent sentence as his tears continue running.
“How many of those have power?” Josh asks, the question coming off as generic, but remaining crystal clear to those familiar with the underworld. “A few” Deangelo replies, “maybe thirty.” Nodding to himself whilst muttering “I can handle thirty”, Josh turns around to look at the man, asking if he can spare any other information he has yet to be able to ask for. Continuing to gasp for his breath, Deangelo remains silent as Josh nods to himself whilst pulling out his pistol.
“Well, I thank you for your cooperation” Josh says, beginning to give Deangelo his send off until the wounded captive utters one line that Josh takes immediate interest in. “They won’t kill you” Deangelo says, his head hanging low as it’s one of the few positions where the pain isn’t as bad. “You think I’m gonna believe that?” Josh asks, “not all billionaires are idiots, clearly by the fact that I haven’t been caught yet, I’m not one either.”
Readying the gun to fire, Josh holds it towards Deangelo once again, lowering it back to his side when Deangelo clarifies his prior statement. “They’ll kill the girl and make you watch” the prisoner says, putting fear in Josh’s heart. “They’ll kill her… Just because they can” he continues, “you’ll know they don’t fuck around, and then they’ll blackmail you with whatever dirt they’ve got to make sure you play nice with them.”
“How did they know anything about Becca?” Josh asks, “how could they know anything about her connection to me?” Confused, Deangelo asks why he’s calling the woman by the name of ‘Becca’. “That’s who you sent the letter to” Josh replies, “that’s who you’re targeting to keep me from your tail.” Now lost, Deangelo asks what Josh is talking about when he mentions a letter, stating that he wasn’t talking about this Becca girl.
“I’m talking about that blonde friend” Deangelo points out, immediately raising the concerns of Eliza, whose eyes widen as Josh turns towards her, watching her stare at the blinded man. “They’re gonna get her and you’ll never see it coming” Deangelo continues, knowing his time is limited, opting to go out in the cockiest manner imaginable, attempting to play his hand at digging Eliza’s fear deeper.
“They’re gonna have to give it their best shot” Eliza replies, her voice going cold as she reaches into her boot, pulls out her firearm and fires a round through Deangelo’s head, spilling his brains into the sand. His mouth slightly ajar, Josh turns his gaze from the corpse of his prisoner to Eliza, who quickly goes from composed to sick, turning around and spilling her dinner all over the floor.
“It’s been four days, Angel” Josh says, “there haven’t been crews down there for months and it’s rained for two full days. Our tracks are covered.” On the other line, the guardian checks off a list of “must’s” to avoid Josh and Eliza’s capture. “And you said she pulled the trigger?” the guardian asks, Josh pausing for a moment before forcing himself to confirm. “You sound disappointed” the guardian suggests, “you should be happy she’s getting the balls to keep herself from getting killed.”
“I don’t want her coming along anymore” Josh replies, wasting no time in voicing his concerns, “I don’t want you roping her into business she doesn’t deserve to get her hands dirty with.” Placing down the checklist for a moment, the guardian asks Josh why he phrased it in such a way that makes it sound like a bad thing. “Do I have to remind you of the fact that were killing people that never get what they deserve and move onto hurting more people?” the guardian asks.
“Of course you don’t” Josh replies, “but some people don’t exactly have the guts to think of it as being different from what we do. Eliza’s one of those people.” Sighing, the guardian reminds Josh that he’s not there to blackmail them into doing anything. “You almost got exposed by Devine, and the threat of exposure only grows the longer we do this” the guardian continues, “your name is involved in the cases regardless, she’s a key to making sure it stays in the right column.”
“I’m aware of this all, but I don’t want it to be Eliza” Josh replies, “just knowing about what I do makes her blood boil. I can’t ask her to get involved with it now too.” Assuring Josh that he’s well aware of his side of things, the guardian tells the man that there are no true alternatives. “The work we do is important, and the only way to continue that is by making sure you don’t get caught” the guardian concludes, “Eliza is the key to making sure that remains the same.”
“I don’t know how you came to that conclusion, and I really don’t want to know” Josh replies, the guardian telling him to keep it that way. “I’ll get in contact with the pair of you in the coming hours, be ready” the guardian signs off, hanging up, allowing Josh to go about the remainder of his day. “That Eliza?” a voice calls out from behind, startling Josh for a moment before he notices Becca’s face.
“I didn’t expect you to be there” Josh replies, shooting down the suggestion by passing the other party off as a friend from work. With that, the pair go silent, Becca walking over to zip up a bag placed on a table in front of Josh’s couch. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay for a few more days?” Josh asks, his request being presented as a concern for Becca’s safety, whilst also quietly representing a hope to not be left alone with whatever may follow him afterwards.
“I can’t stay here forever” Becca replies, the smile in the corner of her mouth having the appearance of a smile for the sake of smiling rather than it being genuine. “I almost forgot that I still owe you that date” Josh says, the suggestion coming out of the blue. Her hands folded, Becca turns towards him and does her best at letting him down easily. Telling Josh that she thinks he’s a nice guy, she admits that he seems to have more pressing issues to deal with.
“I think you’ve got something that you haven’t truly gotten handled yet, and you should probably deal with that first” Becca concludes, “I’m sorry.” Swallowing the little hope he had left at making right on his wrongs, Josh flashes Becca a necessity smile back, telling her that it’s fine. Holding the door open, Josh nods to Becca as she walks off, allowing him to close the door and return to his warmly-lit living room alone.
“It’s like I’m watching a sad movie” Nora says from the couch, prompting the man to glance towards her with a frown. “You can keep your sarcasm to yourself” Josh replies as he ventures down his hallway. “It wasn’t sarcasm” Nora replies, “I thought you were supposed to be the mean, tough, nice-guy vigilante that everyone looked up to and adored!” Turning back, Josh glances back to Nora, asking her exactly what she expected.
“Knowing you, less of this complex-character bullshit and more honesty” Nora replies, “I really didn’t get my money’s worth.” His eyebrows lifted, Josh returns to his room, closing the door behind him, only to find Nora with her hands folded on her chest, laying gracefully atop the bed. “I’m a figment of your imagination” Nora repeats, “You can’t exactly walk away from me when I’m practically haunting you.”
“You’re not haunting me, you’re pissing me off” Josh replies, “there’s a very big difference.” In disagreement, Nora tells Josh that whatever he tells himself is not strong enough to make him forget about the truth. “If I were alive and in your ear all day, I’d be pissing you off” Nora replies, “but I’m dead, you killed me, and now what I’m really doing is getting even.” Only one eyebrow raised, Josh asks the woman if attempting to kill him was a good enough form of revenge.
“It was just where I started” the woman replies, her prize-winning smile antagonizing the man. Getting up to leave, Josh is called back by the woman asking him why he thinks the outcome of this attempted runaway will be any different. “I don’t, it just feels-” Josh begins, Nora cutting him off by finishing his sentence, “-like it helps?” Stammered into silence, Josh confirms her suspicions and walks away, Nora walking after him.
“You don’t get to walk away from what you’ve done!” Nora says, the statement immediately catching Josh’s ear, forcing him to turn around and stare daggers at the woman chasing him. “What did you just say!?” Josh asks, the woman flashing a smile, casually asking if he’s getting used to the ‘sparkling white’s’ yet. “Seriously, repeat what you just said” Josh replies, hearing as Nora repeats the same exact statement, word for word as she had said it prior.
“You’re starting to remember it now, huh?” Nora asks, citing his internal shock when Eliza said it as he was leaving for New York nearly a week prior. “You were caught off guard by her saying it because it reminder you of when I did” Nora returns, watching Josh slowly look back at her before swallowing the spit in his mouth and walking for the door. “You don’t” Nora repeats as Josh pulls the door open. “She’s not wrong” Nora replies, “and neither was I” as Josh walks through the opening.
“Eliza, open up!” Josh calls, pounding away at the front door of her hideout home to no answer. “Eliza, it’s Josh!” the man repeats, continuing to knock as he begins wondering whether or not he should have mentioned that it was him specifically. Eventually, Josh tries the handle, realizing the door to be uncharacteristically unlocked. “Eliza!?” Josh calls once more, peaking his head through the front door before shutting it behind himself.
Noticing the front corridor to be completely void of life, Josh looks through a side window to spot Eliza’s car still in the front lot. Not liking the potential for disaster, Josh draws his gun, calling out for the woman once more as he reaches the top of the staircase. Every door other than one closed, Josh begins his travel down the hallway, opening each door he walks past on the way before reaching the intended one.
Cautiously pushing the door in, Josh spots a slump beneath a blanket in Eliza’s bed, whatever rests beneath it having the appearance of a sleeping woman. The blonde hair protruding from the tucked sheets, the figure remains motionless as Josh closes in, reaching for the blanket and pulling it off of the figure.
“Eliza?” Josh asks again, hearing a muffled “please leave” coming from the figure’s mouth. “Why the hell would you do that?” Josh asks, citing her refusal to answer and complete lack of cooperation as a reasonable cause to come to the conclusion of her being in trouble. “I was hoping you’d go away” the woman replies, still having refused to turn around or attempt to exit the bed.
“Can you pull it the fuck together?” Josh asks, his gun being placed back into his holster as the woman groggily steps up and walks for the connected bathroom. “Why is everything in here so empty?” Josh asks, the question remaining one of the many things keeping him up at night. “What’s the point of pimping out the one place I only want to be in when I’m asleep?” Eliza asks, the genuine complexity some people have over the smallest of things always having eluded her.
“Because it, I don’t know, looks nice?” Josh replies, his response coming off as more of a question neither of the two truly have an answer for. “I don’t like to cause trouble for myself in the decorative department when I have much more pressing issues to deal with” Eliza replies, scanning Josh up and down. “I get I’m a bit of a handful” Josh replies, “but I’m not the only problem you’ve got and I certainly shouldn’t be.”
“You’re telling me” Eliza replies, Josh quickly trying to redirect the conversation towards their current objective. “What happened the other night?” Josh asks, the woman refusing to face him as she brushes it off as nothing. “It’s not nothing” Josh replies, “you killed someone.” Quickly turning around, Eliza reminds Jsh that she pulled the trigger on Devine too. “Devine was self-defense” Josh replies, “what you did was outright murder.”
“What I did was self-defense” Eliza replies, not seeing the hypocrisy staring her down for miles. “What you did wasn’t defendable” Josh retorts, Eliza telling Josh that it was what was necessary. When asked why, Eliza throws her hands outwards and tells the man that it just was. “He threatened to kill me” Eliza replies, “how is that not defendable?” Seeing his opportunity to change favor, Josh takes the same hypocritical train as Eliza.
“For a start, he said the people he knew were going to kill you, not that he himself would have” Josh replies, Eliza’s question of whether or not that makes it right being quashed beneath his shoe. “You didn’t have to kill him” Josh replies, suggesting that they could have taken him into the hospital. “You were going to kill him anyway!” Eliza shouts, baffled when Josh pulls the card designed for stupidity, suggesting that she’s not positive of that.
“You would’ve blown his brains out, don’t even pull that shit!” Eliza retorts, Josh catching her by surprise when he asks if he would’ve deserved it. “What do you mean?” Eliza asks, her shouts having turned into tired responses. “He did bad shit, did he deserve to die?” Josh asks, “would you do it again?” After thinking it over for a moment, Eliza answers yes to both, putting a delighted smile across Josh’s face.
“What makes what you did different from what I did then?” Josh asks, the air going quit as Eliza realizes what she’s turned into. “It’s not” the woman replies, her voice going soft as Josh subtly nods, walking for the exit of the room. Left stood in the empty room alone, Eliza looks around aimlessly as she begins to look at herself as the same monster she’s viewed Josh to be as the man walks off, leaving Eliza to her own vices.
As the night falls on New York City, Josh parks his car in the lot of the VeroSoft building and begins navigating the stairwell towards the roof. Upon reaching the tallest point in downtown New York, Josh walks over to the ledge Eliza stands upon and leans over it. “It’s a beautiful night, ain’t it?” Josh asks, the woman, taking her gaze from the ant-like cars one-hundred and twenty-three feet below and placing them squarely on Josh’s unaffected shoulders.
“Why are you not trying to get me to climb down?” Eliza asks, knowing the tricky gears in Josh’s head already know something she doesn’t. “Because I already climbed down” Josh replies, Eliza’s intrigue captured in a snap. “You didn’t ‘kill’ Devine, you defended someone you thought you loved at the time” Josh replies, “your first true kill was Deangelo.”
With the woman now standing over him with a look at his face as he peers out at the New York skyline, Josh admits that he felt the same way after his first. “You never forget your first kill” Josh says, “it changes you until you realize that you were the same person all along, you just never knew you had this ability in you.” With a laugh, Josh asks Eliza if anyone that finally learns how to play the guitar looks at themselves as a monster for learning something new.
“It’s in our nature to kill” Josh continues, “we just don’t do it that often anymore.” Accepting that she won’t end up jumping, Eliza takes a seat on the ledge, dangling her feet over the edge and feeling the gusts of wind sway them gently from one side to the other. “What was yours?” Eliza asks, hearing the wind snap in her ears as Josh looks towards her for reiteration, not having understood the question at first.
“Tess McKnight” Josh says, his words not missing a beat as he reads out her birthday, the date in which the ordeal occurred, and the manner in which it happened. “Her little baby was crying so she smacked it a few times while I was on the bus” Josh says, “I saw it from the window and I was incensed.”
Following Eliza through the steps, Josh admits to following the woman nearly a mile until they were out near the docks. “She died out her cigarette on her baby’s head and I couldn’t stand it anymore” Josh concludes, “I caved her head in with a brick and dumped her body in the bay.” After running down the events of her body washing ashore, Josh admits to fleeing from his original home and making peace with his actions in New York City.
“I worked my way up the ladder at VeroSoft and never worried about it again once my wallet hit a certain number” Josh finishes, “I am much more of a hypocrite than you think you are.” Eliza asks if she’s going to end up turning into the monster that Josh had become, prompting the man to breathe for a second and think about his response. “Yeah, probably” Josh replies, telling the woman that the thing he and Eliza share is that they take their rages out on the right people.
“These people deserve to be punished” Josh continues, “and if it weren’t for people like me, they never would be.” Acknowledging that it brings on an entirely different conversation as to whether or not vigilante justice is moral or inhumane, Josh says that it never truly matters. “Bad people deserve to have bad things happen to them and it never does” the man continues, “so if you’re going to kill anyone, these are the people you should target.”
“You talk about this like it’s a job” Eliza replies, the smirk from Josh as he turns towards her and admits it to be his passion sends chills down the woman’s spine. “I’m not killing good people” Josh reiterates, “I’m killing the people that let good people take the fall for them.”
Preparing to leave Eliza to make the decision for herself, Josh tells her to keep one thing in mind. “We’re not monsters, we’re vigilantes” Josh says, his hands leisurely tucked in his pockets. “People commonly argue between whether or not vigilantes are good or bad” Josh reaffirms, “you can’t have that conversation about monsters.”
Walking off, Josh disappears behind the doors of the VeroSoft tower elevator and sinks into the building as Eliza takes a final glance at the world beneath her feet. With a deep breath, the woman pins the hairs being flung by the wind behind her ear, whilst Josh climbs into his car and pulls out of the lot. Stopping on the side of the road, Josh looks towards the very top of the tower and watches Eliza climb down from the ledge, offering him the assurance he needs to drive off.
-> I know it seems like Eliza was a mess, someone that can be happy at one point and violently infuriated at others, but how can you blame her? Take one of your closest friends, someone you see a lot of yourself in and feel extremely comfortable around, and figure out, with no assistance or confirmation, that they’re a serial killer. Just… Just think about that for a second, take that person in your life and give them this truth that I hold. Can you imagine the horror?
You’d never see them the same way again. The bond you have with them is gone and replaced with a truth that seems more fictional than anything else you could conjure up. You may be there for them to talk, or to give advice, or to support them, but they’ll never see you that way. They trust you the least, your relationship takes a complete turn, and every face of a missing person or a murder victim is instinctively placed next to your face in their head.
Throw in the question of how that would make you look at yourself and you can sort of figure out why she is the way that she is. She still cared about me, but she couldn’t bare the sight of me. She didn’t want to see me in trouble because I had never meant for any of this to come to light, but she couldn’t stand hearing me because I reminded her of everything she’s now been clued into, everything she used to appreciate so dearly, and everything she has to fight with now.
If you can’t fully comprehend the mental tole that inflicts on a person, I don’t think you have the capacity of truly understand the point I’m trying to get at.
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
“You’re leaving?” Josh asks, calling out the question towards Eliza through clunky wording as she grabs her car keys from a bowl. “Some of us need to work in order to earn a living” Eliza replies, “if I come back and you’re not here, you know the drill.” Asking when she’ll be home, Josh is forced back into a slump when Eliza responds with the suggestion that knowing such a thing would make an escape much easier.
“Don’t try anything” Eliza concludes, slamming the door behind her as the alarm system triggers, locking Josh in the confines of the home alone. “You’ve gotten yourself a keeper” Nora mocks from the other couch, her legs crossed as she watches Josh look towards her with vigor in his eyes. “You won’t get the better of me” Josh replies, brushing off his hallucination’s statement in favor of priding himself on having the last say.
“I know what you’re thinking Josh” Nora replies, ‘remember, I’m a manifestation of your own subconscious, I’m in your head with a magnifying glass at every thought.” Standing from her seat, Nora marches to the kitchen and leans out towards a window just over the sink, watching the rain drop from the gutters just above the view. “Shitty weather today, ain’t it?” Nora asks, her question brushed off again when Josh reshapes it, asking what it is that she’s here for.
“You know what I’m here for and you have since you took that little dip into the river a while back” Nora replies, “so don’t play dumb with me, just get it over with and move on.” Shaking his head, Josh refuses to give into what Nora wants, annoying her, but doing little to bring her to emotion-boiling anger. “You can’t run away from the truth anymore, Josh” Nora replies, ruby-red lipstick allowing her words to flutter with perfect resonance.
“I’ve already caught up and am in the process of nipping at your heels, so you might want to start taking some responsibility for what you’ve done” Nora concludes, taking a seat beside Josh. “I kill the bad, not the good” Josh responds, standing from his seat and marching into the kitchen, “And I certainly would never kill you.” Eyes rolling, “And yet, that’s exactly what you did” Nora responds, “or should I take out the putty between my eyes and show you the work you did first hand?”
“Keep the putty in and get the fuck out of my life” Josh replies, Nora’s instistance on staying a while driving him crazy whilst he’s already on a short fuse. “I said go the fuck away!” Josh shouts, his finger shaking in the air as it directs Nora to the front door, only for her smile and caress of his chin to respond as she walks past him. “I’m not your wealthy mogul friends Josh” Nora responds, calling out to him on her way to the kitchen, “you don’t give me ultimatums.”
“I am in your head at every hour of the day and you know that” Nora replies, “I pop up and drop off whenever I please and you know that.” Sniffing the glass Eliza left behind the night prior, Nora walks back to Josh and continues. “I’m literally nesting in your brain and you know that” she continues, looking over to the glass for long enough to convince Josh’s eyes to do the same, following the whites in her eyes as if they were a religion.
“And I think I have more pull over you than you truly realize” Nora concludes, disappearing into thin air as Josh’s eyes lock onto the glass at the other end of the room. Trying to fight the urge invade Eliza’s space, Josh gives in, corrupted by the thoughts implanted into his head. Walking down the corridor towards Eliza’s room, Josh walks past the bathroom and takes the opportunity to walk in and scour through her medicine cabinet.
Taking bottles from the shelves and looking through any operable doors, Josh comes up empty handed. Turning his attention towards her room, Josh walks through the door to find a very blank room, white walls on each side and very little furniture other than the generic bedroom setup. Surprised by the contract between her office and her bedroom, Josh takes his time walking throughout the area, his bare feet welcomed by the warm carpet between his toes.
“Why would her room be this baron?” Josh asks himself, pleased at the lack of things to look through, but curious as to why an expressive person like Eliza would leave anything blank. Searching through the drawers, Josh finds nothing more than clothing, a lack of possessions or accessories remaining in each pocket or slot. “How the fuck can she have such little bullshit in the room?” Josh asks, walking towards her office to find a similar sight.
Whilst the walls are painted blue and the holes from thumb tacks remain lining the walls, very little of note is left behind other than a desk, a lamp and a chair. Getting frustrated, Josh slams the top of the desk and leans forward, staring at the blank wall with one window looking out into the side yard. Gazing outwards at nothing more than a forest of trees, Josh places his hands to his hips and finds himself at a loss for what exactly he intends on finding.
Pulling her car into the gravel-spread driveway, Eliza emerges from the vehicle and walks to the front door, disabling the security from her phone and walking inside. Progressing up the stairs, Eliza spots Josh packing his bags into suitcases, preparing everything as if he were ready for a flight. “What’s all this?” Eliza asks, her hands waving at the three bags on the ground tucked together. “I’m leaving” Josh replies, his fingers dancing along the back of his neck as Eliza looks on.
“You’re right, it’s unfair of me to stay here and remind you of what you can’t get back” Josh returns, zipping up the third and final pack. “So, I’m getting out of your hair and keeping you from getting caught housing a fugitive” the man concludes, pulling one bag over his shoulder before taking the final two by their respective handles. “No” Eliza replies, catching the man’s attention just as he nears the stairs to begin his descent towards the next chapter.
“What?” Josh asks, staring at Eliza as she reiterates her refusal to allow him to just move on. “I don’t understand” Josh replies, “you wanted me gone.” Nodding her head, Eliza states that she now wants him to stay, watching him drop his bags and throw his hands out. “Which is it?” Josh asks, “do you or do you not want me to be here?” Shrugging her shoulders as her hands take refuge on her sides, Eliza tells him that she hasn’t truly decided on that.
“I just know that I’m not letting you just walk out of here and move on” the woman concludes, staring at the man with the dumbfounded expression on his face as he asks why. “I don’t need to give you an answer” Eliza replies, her refusal shot down as Josh reminds her that refusing to let him go is unlawful imprisonment. “I don’t care, I don’t have a reason and I don’t need one” Eliza responds, the anger and disappointment in her voice appearing to be one in the same.
“Yeah you do” Josh replies, noticing her become hard-pressed to give him answers she would otherwise give him had she not been caught off guard. “You weren’t expecting me to go and you didn’t have time to come up with a cover story” Josh continues, “you’re hiding a reason and the surprise got you to lower your guard down.” Her teeth clenched and her breaths beginning to last longer and space out shorter, Eliza replies with a simple, “fuck you.”
“Of course, because that was so impactful the last eighteen times you came back with it” Josh retorts, walking away from Eliza. “You don’t get to just move on with your life and leave me behind!” Eliza shouts, admitting that this is as much about punishing Josh as it is about punishing herself. “I want to believe that what you did was good, you have no clue how much I want to convince myself of that, but I simply can’t” Eliza replies, getting closer to the man.
“Am I tired of being angry at you? Yeah, I am… But I’ve got a better reason than most to absolutely despise you.” Now angered himself, Josh turns around and tells Eliza to get off of her high horse. “If there’s anyone that should hate me, it should be the families that those pricks left behind that had no say in whether or not they got sucked up in this” Josh begins, “not someone that can move on, but instead, chooses not to.”
Feeling slighted, Eliza raises her hand to Josh, who catches it in mid-swing and holds it in the place it was stopped. “I deserved it last night, so I took it” the man continues, “I don’t deserve any ounce of it now for telling you the truth.” Spitting in his face, Eliza watches him wipe below his eye, turn her arm behind her back and push her against the blank wall.
Breathing down the back of her neck as Eliza refuses to put up a fight, Josh tells her to get one very important think through her head. “Your troubles are about you more than they’re about me” Josh says, “I just make for a really good scapegoat to keep you from blaming yourself for them.” Refusing this notion, Eliza tells Josh that her world has never been more backwards, and it only became so when the truth of his work came to light.
“It’s not backwards, Eliza… It’s split in half” Josh replies, “you don’t know when to be the girl that kissed me in that warehouse or the girl that wished it was me she shot instead of Devine.” Closing her mouth, Eliza bites the inside of her lip, shaking her head in refusal to accept that both of those worlds can exist at the same time. “You shouldn’t have walked out of that building” Eliza replies, the grip on her arm being relieved before she turns around and looks at Josh.
Tears in her eyes colliding with the anger in her face, Eliza tells Josh that she doesn’t know what she would do if she were given the choice again. “Eliza, there are people that should be furious at me” Josh admits, “but you are not one of them.” Reaching down for his luggage, Josh looks towards Eliza and tells her that all she blames him for falls squarely on her shoulders are products of her creation.
“You hate me for taking away what we had when what we had never existed the way you thought it did” the man replies, “all I did was break the illusion you had of me.” Clearing his throat as he tosses the third bag over his shoulder, Josh looks into the woman’s eyes as she listens closely to him. “At the end of the day, showing you the true me isn’t a crime” Josh concludes, “and if you hate me because I proved you wrong… That seems like something only you can fix.”
Descending the staircase as the woman stands in the middle of the room, Josh walks through the front door and directs himself to the end of the gravel-laid path. Taking in a deep breath, Eliza looks around the room quickly before hurrying for the front door and stopping on the front step with the intention of shouting out to the departing man. Suddenly, the sky darkens and the clouds grow gray, leaving her to watch him walk away with her intentions having faded off.
As he disappears beneath the road on his way to the bus stop at the bottom of the hill, Eliza allows him to move on before returning to her home and closing the door. Once far enough down the path to be out of Eliza’s sights, Josh turns around to take one last look at the area behind him before turning around and returning to his life.
Marching up the stairway to the apartment he’s emptied, yet still pays rent for, Josh comes to a sudden stop when visited by the sight of an unexpected visitor. Calling out the woman’s name, Josh walks towards Becca as she sits in the hall awaiting his arrival. “What are you doing here?” Josh asks, informed by the woman that she came by a few minutes ago when he wouldn’t answer his phone.
“So you just decided to sit out here and wait for me?” Josh asks, watching the girl’s head drop as she swallows the nerves coming to ahead in her mouth. “It felt safer than going home” Becca replies, the answer sending chills down Josh’s spine as he watches the look of concern dawn over the woman. “Why do you say that?” Josh asks, watching the girl nod towards the door, giving the hint to discuss matters inside.
“I haven’t been here in weeks” Josh says, dropping his bags on the opposite side of the room, “you’ve already gotten pretty lucky.” The sweat running down the side of his neck, Josh turns around and looks at Becca, hand extended with a paper held towards him. “It was sent through my door slot while I was at work” Becca says, watching Josh take the paper and stare at him, his expression unchanged from what it had been moments earlier.
“Okay” Josh says, looking back up to her and returning the sheet of paper, watching Becca’s eyes narrow as she repeats his response back to him. “What about this is okay?” Becca asks, “what are they saying you did and why are they coming after me for it?” Arms held out to her before they’re swatted away, Josh tells the disgruntled woman that everything’s alright and no one would be coming after her.
“It’s just a few guys that I can’t give money to anymore because I’m not with my company” Josh replies, making up the story as he goes along. “They’re just using you to scare me, it happens all the time with people of high reach” Josh concludes, gently placing his hand on her shoulder and reminding her that he promised it would be alright. “I know I’ve seemed very off lately” Josh says, “but I’m starting to get back on track. They’re not gonna harm a hair on your head as long as I’m around.”
“Why are you talking like I’m a damsel in distress?” Becca asks, watching Josh wave off the notion before she can get the chance to air it out. “In no way are you a damsel in distress to me” the sweaty man replies, “but they really want you to be so let’s keep that from being the case.” Pulling her in close, Josh affirms her that everything is going to be alright. “You can stay here tonight if you’d like” Josh offers, a gracious acceptance coming from the woman.
Tucking her hair behind her ears, Becca goes into the bathroom to take a shower at the offer from Josh, gently closing the door behind her as Josh pulls his phone out. “You’re welcome” the guardian angel replies, telling Josh that he placed his phone number under the correct name whilst he was on the bus. “I need your help” Josh says, the giggle from the guardian angel suggesting he knew it wouldn’t be long before Josh got tired of keeping a low-profile.
“What do you need?” the guardian asks, notable silence coming from his end of the call when Josh asks for the location to the center of the pipeline family. “I’m sorry, what did you ask me for?” the guardian asks, sarcastically suggesting that he must have heard the request incorrectly. “I wanna know where the pipeline family is staying” Josh reiterates, “I’m gonna kill ‘em, the whole lot of ‘em.”
“Umm…” the guardian replies, “you’re telling me you want the location of an organization of people that can afford to buy you three times over in order to slaughter them?” Without hesitation, Josh replies with the confirmation to the guardian’s curiosity. “Yeah, I’m not gonna fucking do that, Josh” the guardian replies, almost blowing a gasket when Josh questions why he won’t as if he were denied a bag of chips for his 5th grade lunch.
“Oh gee, how could I deny such a request?” the guardian calls out, “how about ‘cause I’d rather you not become a pin cushion for mafia gunfire and blood-letting!?” Rolling his eyes, Josh tells his guardian that he’s not about to sit back and let innocent people get hurt because the pipeline is mad at him. “Wait a moment, back it up there skipper” the guardian replies, “what does innocent people getting hurt have anything to do with the pipeline?”
“You remember me mentioning Becca, right?” Josh asks, the guardian replying that he’s gotten bits and pieces, “well she got a message from the pipeline that they’d expose my deeds and bring her down with me!” Quickly running over other possible scenarios, the guardian and Josh find themselves tucked into a corner, realizing that the immediate exposure of his crimes would completely bankrupt everything they’ve been working on.
“Can we get her in hiding?” the guardian asks, Josh telling him that she isn’t aware of the truth. “So anything that can be done-” the guardian begins before Josh finishes his thought, “-needs to be done in secret.” With a sigh, the guardian tells Josh to stay put, informing him that he’ll work as quickly as he can to find a plan. As the guardian hangs up, Josh looks towards the light beneath his doorway as the shower water runs, making him feel like he’s on the verge of failing someone else.
Sat on her patio overlooking the woodlands behind her tucked-away home, Eliza sips on wine as her phone buzzes relentlessly in her pocket. Ignoring the disturbance, Eliza allows the phone to ring to completion before it dies off completely, her desire to drink in peace unrelenting in its quest to be seen through. Within seconds, the phone begins buzzing uncontrollably once more, again being ignored by the woman, refusing it the attention it seemingly craves.
After a further few seconds, the phone begins buzzing again, triggering Eliza into action. No longer able to drink in peace, Eliza whips her phone out and answers the call, asking what kind of robocall is persistent enough to ruin her evening to such a degree. “Is this Eliza Bradburry?” the voice on the other line of the call asks, the questions dancing inside of her head upon her name being said aloud as thousands of synapses fire in her brain at once.
“Who am I speaking with?” Eliza asks, the voice on the other line brushing off the question, informing her that her questions will find their own answers when they’re ready. “Can you-” Eliza begins, cut off by the voice, which is completely unconcerned with whatever she was going to ask. “All you need to know right now is that I know your name, I know where you are, and I know everything there is to know about the people you love the most” the voice replies.
As freaked out as anyone would be in this scenario, Eliza stands from her chair, accidentally knocking a glass of wine off the arm rest of her patio seat. “What exactly do you know?” Eliza asks, her worst concerns coming to light when the voice mentions the names of Joshua Lane, Lieutenant Eric Devine, and the names of those Josh has called his victims. “And what do you want from me?” Eliza asks, the voice allowing laughter from its mouth on the other end.
“Cooperation” the figure replies, telling Eliza that it wants her to do as it requests exactly when it is requested, without question. “You jump when I say ‘jump’, you hide when I say ‘hide’, and you ask no questions unless I tell you to. Do you understand?” the voice demands, the stubborn and refusing tone of Eliza making her answer of “No” much more resounding to the figure on the other end of the line.
“I’m sorry?” the voice asks, Eliza standing firmly by her statement with unwavering support. “I’ve found myself going through hell and back over the last few weeks, so whatever punishment comes along with declining you will be a welcomed resort.” Suggesting to the voice that she’d be much more in favor of helping it accomplish whatever it looks to be out to accomplish if she had some answers, Eliza feels the air lighten when the voice begins chuckling again.
“I think I’m gonna like you, Eliza” the voice says, adding in the follow-up of, “you’re much more strategic than Josh seems to be.” Eyes narrowed and hands effectively shaking where they rest, Eliza asks what connection the voice has to Josh. “Are you Josh?” Eliza asks, the voice seeming outright disappointed at the suggestion. “No, I’m not Josh!” the voice replies, “the guy can’t even stop hallucinating his dead ex-girlfriend, you think he’s gonna prank you on a Tuesday night?”
“Then who are you?” Eliza asks, the voice on the other line audibly thinking over the pros and cons of revealing any identity. “Can I have your name?” Eliza asks, the scoff on the other line before “giving you my name would defeat the purpose of calling you anonymously” signalling that the voice isn’t outright vile in nature. “I’m not willing to tell you who I am just yet” the voice on the other line replies, “but you can call me your guardian angel.”
“So what is it that you want from me, guardian angel?” Eliza asks, the man on the other line offering her precise instructions on what routes to take next. “And how do I know you’re legitimate?” Eliza asks, the voice clearing his throat on the other line. “Because I didn’t outright blackmail you as soon as you picked up the phone, even if it was only on the third try” the guardian angel replies, laughing again on the other line as Eliza’s phone drops to her side.
A towel in her hand running the water out of her hair, Becca jumps at the sound of knocking at the door, the shower not even having been off for enough time for the mirrors to clear up. “I’ve gotta head out for a quick second” Josh says from the other side, “help yourself to whatever you want and keep the door locked behind you.” Her agreeance giving him the go ahead, Becca listens quietly to the keys lift in his hands and the door shut and lock behind him.
Quickly wrapping the towel around her body as she places her hair into a neat ponytail, Becca emerges from the bathroom and tip toes into the living space. Startled by the cool fall breeze sneaking through the window’s cracks, Becca clutches at the towel harder and sneaks back into the bathroom for warmth. As she begins to close the door, she lets a thought flutter into her brain that keeps her from closing it the full way, instead choosing to exit the bathroom entirely.
Walking to the end of the hallway, Becca slowly pushes open the door to Josh’s bedroom, seeing the majority of his belongings still packed up and air-vacuumed into clear plastic wrap. After a brief scan, the woman notices a few pieces of large furniture remaining in their prior placement, slightly dusted over. Allured to a bureau near a wall off at the end of the room, Becca’s wet feet and dripping towel leaves a path in her trail as she approaches it.
Opening the top drawer, Becca finds the back of a large black object protruding from a shirt tucked neatly in the corner of the space. Unfolding the shirt, Becca notices the sight belonging to that of a gun, hidden from the naked eye and only visible by the curious mind. Picking it up for a moment, Becca feels the weight in her hand before thinking better of her decision and returning it to its prior resting place.
Sliding the drawer back in, Becca spots something else of interest hiding in the corner of Josh’s room, making up a part of the floor itself. The only thing protruding from it is the dial used to unlock it, a safe rests beneath the moonlight peering through the blinds just over Josh’s bedspace. Tapping on it’s door, Becca notices a single white string poking through one of its slots, almost camouflaged by the near-white carpet itself.
As his guest surveys the scenery she expects to reside in for the night, Josh scales the stairs of his apartment with the intention of making another set of victims disappear into the night. “Going somewhere?” a woman asks, stopping the man for long enough to watch him look back at her, the figure ahead doing a double take when he puts the voice to a face. “What are you doing here?” Josh asks, watching Eliza stand from her seat on a second staircase to approach him.
“I was told you were doing something dumb” Eliza replies, “and much as I’ve seemed to be doing often, I was told to stop you.” Taking his chance to scoff, Josh turns around to return to his duty, telling Eliza to return home before she has to get her hands dirty. “The last thing you need is to be caught with me when I’m caught with a red hand” Josh replies, the woman refusing to allow him to walk off so easily.
His hands extending to the door ahead of him, Josh shoves the latch in to no use, the door being jammed from the inside. “What did you-” Josh begins, turning around to ask Eliza for an explanation, only to eat a firm shot to the already-damaged ribs. Confidently walking in strides around the echo chamber-like corridor, Eliza tells Josh that the true last thing she needs to do is let the one guy that knows everything the police want to get caught with blood on his hands again.
“Have you forgotten that you weren’t the one to pull the trigger on Devine?” Eliza asks, pulling Josh’s face to look at her own, “and they can very quickly try their hand at the woman with no money and no job?” Letting the man go, Eliza walks back to the stairs as her hand pushes the hair falling onto her shoulders to the back of her head. “I bet you thought the guardian angel was a hallucination too?” Eliza asks, the man lifting his eyes towards her as he gasps for air.
“What’s going on in that fucked up head of yours, Josh?” Eliza asks, leaning against the railing as Josh hacks up a lung in an effort to return to his feet. “How the hell do you know anything about that?” Josh asks, Eliza rolling her eyes, beginning to grow annoyed at the twenty-questions games with obvious answers. “You ask a guy whose single motivation is cleaning up New York where a mafia dungeon is, and you expect him to just let you?”
The question raised by Eliza offering Josh enough sense to find the fault in his direction, the man leans against the wall as his hands clutch towards his abdomen. “So what the fuck are you gonna do now?” Josh asks, the woman tucking her hands in the pockets of her jacket. “I don’t know” Eliza replies, “but I know I’m not letting you run into the pipeline with a deathwish.”
Her phone ringing, Eliza takes out the device and reads the Caller ID of what she’s labeled to be “Josh’s Pal” and answers. “You’re on speaker” Eliza says, the man clearing up his voice as if he were trying to be presentable. “You forced my hand Josh” the guardian says, “you pulled her into this with us.” Annoyed, Josh hangs his head knowing himself to be the sole reason for the annoyance he now finds latching onto his head.
“So I bet you’re standing around wondering what happens next?” the guardian asks, telling them to buckle up. “You both have truths you don’t want anyone leaking” the guardian says, “and the three people hearing this call are the only three people that know them.” Asking for him to get to the point, Eliza bites her lip when the guardian informs them that they will now do as told in order to truly be able to move forward.
“I have a reason for bringing the both of you together” the guardian directs, “Josh is a ticking time bomb that Eliza keeps from detonating, and Eliza’s a lost puppy that Josh keeps feeding.” Clearing his throat once more, the guardian tells the duo to continue playing nice, as he serves as both Josh’s detonator and Eliza’s kennel. “I’m the one string keeping you two together” the guardian continues, “and that’s gonna be real necessary to finish this job.”
“What job?” Josh asks, finally getting the clarification from the guardian he’d been waiting for since meeting Devine in the factory. “Since neither of you seem to wanna stay low for a while, we’ll just get the plan moving” the guardian replies, “I want the pipeline eradicated from New York, and the two of you are going to make sure I see that through.”
Eyes widened, both Josh and Eliza look towards each other, their hatred or misguided care for the other completely dissipating as they both collide on the same road. “Instructions will soon follow” the guardian concludes, ending the call before either party could follow up. Without a word, the two continue looking at each other, Eliza’s hand dropping as Josh sucks in a deep breath, the air in the stairway growing thin as the temperature rises and the stakes increase.
Season Two Premiere
I have to do a lot of self-reflection in my life, so allow me to be perfectly clear when I say that there are some things about me that I don’t feel are appropriate to share. Don’t be worried, of course… It’s not like I’m leaving any information out, I’m simply choosing to keep some things private. I’ve been doing this since we started talking, so let me very upfront when I tell you that I’m not very confident in what I do or don’t deserve.
Since we last talked, I told you about when the law first became a legitimate threat to my work and I. I chose to describe myself in a specific way because there was a specific way I wanted you to see me. I don’t believe I deserve to be viewed as a hero, so I chose to make myself seem like the least likeable person you could imagine a criminal to be. When things began unfolding in my story, I disliked it at first, but I began realizing that I deserved every last bit of it.
Sure, it all happened in exchange for my freedom. But I still deserved to lose the pieces I negotiated with. After my name was cleared, I was let go from VeroSoft Industries. They decided that it was best for them to cut all of the loose fat from their more controversial episodes in order to, shall we say, redevelop their public image. I deserved that almost as much as I deserved the deviated septum and broken ribs from taking the dive off that bridge.
There are some parts of my life that I refused to leave out that, whilst making me look good, needed to be mentioned for the better of the story. Helping the hot dog vendor guy gave me a feeling that I had never felt before, like I was doing good without feeling like what I did could be construed as bad. Other small bits like the fact that I despise Buffalo and have a soft spot in my heart for people that stand out from the crowd are also true in nature.
But this is different. Yesterday is a day of the past and today is another one entirely. You got a story for your efforts, and now you want another one. Okay, I’ll agree to bite down on the line so you can pretend you caught a big one. If you couldn’t piece together the parts that don’t outright fit, I’ll spell it out for you so you don’t have to go home feeling like you were duped, fed more questions than you were answers.
I’ll make this story an interesting one for you, one that you can really appreciate going through the process of digestion for. So grab a frosty beer, put your hand in whatever your preferred snack is a munch down. Who was Nora and what did she want from me? What did I do after I took that dip? How did I find out who my guardian angel was? What did I do with Eliza? All of these questions, and probably some more… You’re gonna wanna hear about from the horse’s mouth itself.
= Joshua Lane 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 1 onwards =
Halfway between conscious and unconscious, Josh floats atop the water face up, unable to move his body, but the sensation of the waves gently caressing his back convince him of comfort. After a few minutes atop his watery grave, hollering from a few yards away begins to take his focus, the calling for help as the water reacting to a man swimming to him acting as the only thing he can concentrate on in order to stay awake.
After a brief struggle, the man wraps his arm around Josh’s torso, where he notices the broken ribs from Josh’s agonizing groans. Reaching the shore, the man tilts Josh on his side and allows the water in his nose and mouth to dribble onto the soft sands. “Call for help” the man directs his friend, whispering to Josh that everything’s going to be alright. Struggling to stay conscious, Josh manages to hold his own until the emergency crews arrive, when the power to fight fully depletes.
After a few hours, Josh opens his eyes for the first time since the bridge, immediately shutting them upon glancing at the heavy white lights above. His hands extending outwards, the man tries to push himself up with the bars on each side of the bed, feeling the weight of his efforts lay a direct blow into his ribs. “Stop! You shouldn’t push yourself too hard!” a woman’s voice calls out from the other side of the room, rushing to assist him up.
“Where am I?” Josh asks, looking at Becca for the first time before realizing himself to be in bed as a patient in her hospital once again. “Right back where you started” Becca replies, trying to be mad at blowing her off, but unable to do anything more than feel bad for the bed-ridden man as he holds her hand out of gratitude. “How did I get here?” Josh asks, Becca glances down at the floor and swipes at the hair in her face, not wanting to give him the truth.
“Some men found you floating in the river while they were coming home from fishing” Becca replies, “apparently your car was found parked on the bridge a couple feet away.” The hours he spent in and out of consciousness having blurred the events, Josh tilts his head back with his mouth open as it all comes flooding back to him. “Why did you do it?” Becca asks, Josh turning around to look at her, “you hadn’t been answering my calls, I was worried I had done something.”
Shaking his head, Josh tells the girl that it had nothing to do with her, and she hadn’t been told the full story. “I like to look out at the water from the bridge when I need to clear my head” Josh replies, “a bead fell off my necklace as I was looking over and I fell over trying to catch it.” Her eyes narrowing, Becca lowers her head as Josh instructs her to pull it back up. “I’ve got almost everything I could want in the world” Josh mutters, “I’ve got no reason to want out of it.”
As Becca’s frown lifts, the door to the room glides open, splicing the moment as Eliza walks through the door, glancing at Josh’s bed with a puckered smirk. Walking towards the girl, Eliza holds her hand out and introduces herself, having been called in as Josh’s emergency contact. “Could you give us a second?” Eliza asks, “I don’t mean to be an ass, especially when you’re here on your off-time, there’s just something confidential I need to talk to Josh about.”
“Sure” Becca says, flashing Josh another smile and nodding at Eliza as she walks out of the room, leaving Eliza to sit beside Josh at his bedside. “What the fuck were you thinking?” Eliza asks, her tone taking a complete turn, “trying to off yourself like that and leave me here with the mess?” Rolling his eyes, Josh tells her that he wasn’t looking to off himself, only for Eliza to respond by asking why the scene he leapt from looked exactly like a suicide attempt.
“It wasn’t a suici- ugh!” Josh says, groaning before he can finish, frustrated at how poorly everything has been made out to look. “I was trying to stop someone from jumping off the bridge” Josh replies, answering “no one” when Eliza asks for a name. “Don’t tell me it was no one when-” Eliza begins, Josh cutting her off with, “Not just no one, it was literally no one! I thought I saw someone jumping off the bridge and I was wrong!”
“That makes no sense!” Eliza says, her head shaking as Josh admits that it only makes less sense with the more information he gives away. Her hands held out as the signal for him to continue, Eliza’s right hand smacks herself in the head when Josh admits to hallucinating people. “You’re just a massive bag of party-sized fucked up, ain’t you?” Eliza asks, Josh’s hands being thrown out as he admits to not being the most well put together person in New York.
“So what hallucination did you have that ended with you faceplanting off a bridge?” Eliza asks, Josh growing quiet, annoying Eliza, who refuses to let him play the silent game after everything else he’s already confessed. “My ex girlfriend” Josh replies, Eliza’s head tilting until her eyes slightly widen. “You didn’t kill her, did you?” Eliza asks, Josh turning towards her abruptly with a stern “no!” before he drops his head again.
“Well” Josh furthers, Eliza’s slight comfort turning sour again as Josh admits to being partially responsible for why she died. “What do you mean when you say you were ‘part of the reason’?” Eliza asks, turning Josh’s words towards him and asking for clarification. “I can’t tell you that” Josh replies, Eliza shaking her head at the start of more secret keeping. “If I could, I would… Just comfort yourself in knowing that I wasn’t the man that put the bullet in her.”
Clenching her teeth, Eliza subtly nods to herself, just another tragic realization on a bed of thousands of others to stain her view of her former friend. “Why do you keep finding new ways to disappoint me?” Eliza asks, Josh responding by struggling way closer to her and coming within inches of her face. “I’ve murdered people with big wallets and disgusting motives for years” Josh retorts, “I’ve lasted this long, so I’d expect you to be pretty fucking impressed.”
The seering anger on his face once which she rarely sees, Eliza stands from her seat and throws his bag of clothes at him, informing him that she’d already signed him out. “Get dressed big shot” Eliza replies, leaving the room and flashing the fakest smile at Becca before returning to her car. “What’s with her?” Becca asks caught off guard by her expression, with a smile, Josh replies, “It’s the New York winter… She just wants to get the car heated up.”
-> After a few days, I was let go from VeroSoft. Once the charges were cleared and my name was as glorious as it used to be, all be it with a few caveats, and I was free to live the rest of my life. A few days later, all the true crime YouTube channels were plastering the story on their front pages, and from what I can hear, it was pretty much public frontline that Devine acted in the killings and used his position in the department to keep from anything tracing back to him.
I was the footloose guy that had as much resource as him with more motive than he could have. From then on, he tried pinning me to the crimes at every turn until he got too caught up in it and the truth started falling through the cracks. When the hot water started boiling him up, he went rogue and it ended in death via inferno. A few days later, I joined Eliza in hiding out at her cabin. We both needed to lay low, so why not do it with the only other person to know the whole truth? <-
Asleep on the pull out couch, Josh is awoken by the shifting of plastic bags directly over his head, the sound of crinkling plastic jolting him. “What the hell?” Josh asks, wiping the gunk from his eyes as Eliza tells him that it’s time to wake up. Reaching for his phone, Josh looks at her with the look of a man at the end of his rope. “It’s 6:45!” Josh replies, Eliza staring at him as if he were a disappointing child that disobeyed her orders and immediately paid the price.
“You literally kill child-fucking millionaires, Josh” Eliza responds, “I think you’ve got some pretty big issues if that’s easier than waking the fuck up.” Tossing him a shirt and a clean pair of socks, Eliza heads to the end of the cabin and enters her office space. Now fully dressed, Josh joins her in the room, watching her pull down the massive wall coverings of news stories dedicated to following the murders of New York’s elite.
“You had me pretty well scouted” Josh says, his presence not being clear at first to Eliza, who’s briefly startled by his voice, dropping a picture and thumbtack on the ground. Reaching down to pick up the photo, Josh’s ribs act up, forcing his hand over Eliza’s by accident, driving it palm-first onto the pointed spike, causing her to yelp in pain. “I can pick up a goddamn picture on my own, Josh” Eliza states, placing the picture and the tac on her desk before walking for the bathroom.
Hearing the rummaging of her medicine cabinet, Josh takes the moment to take a look at the photo she dropped moments earlier. Staring intently at the photo, Josh notices a familiar looking symbol in the background of the shot, an accompanying news article mentioning an underground network of undisclosed dealings. The sound of a bandage being unwrapped signalling that his available time is closing in, Josh folds the picture and places it into his back pocket.
The sound of footsteps inching closer acting as the final countdown, Josh turns around with a smile on his face, clutching at his ribs due to the additional effort. “Why do you look so guilty?” Eliza asks, Josh rolling his eyes and asking why everything he does seems guilty to her. “Do I have to keep reminding you that you’re a murderer and I’m probably the only one that knows that for a fact?” Eliza replies, the guilt on Josh’s face catching Eliza’s interest.
“That’s new” Eliza says, Josh beginning to turn his expression towards her into one of confusion. “What’s new?” Josh asks, watching Eliza slowly walk up to him, glancing at his eyes and lips. “You seemed... “ Eliza begins, wandering off, forgetting her place and not finishing her thought. “I seemed like what?” Josh asks, his tone growing deeper as the ease in the air is quickly devoured by Eliza’s treatment of him like a zoo animal.
“Nevermind” Eliza concludes, patting him on the shoulder and telling him to look in the fridge for something to eat as she continues cleaning out the office. Later on in the night, Eliza walks from her room and into the kitchen area, pouring herself a glass of water and using it to take her medication. Placing the glass on the countertop, Eliza turns around to spot Josh, sitting on the sofa staring at the blank wall opposite him.
“I know” Eliza begins, “it really could a fresh coat of paint.” The statement making him laugh, Josh nods and tells her that he’ll see what he can do about that. Pouring the remaining water down the drain, Eliza walks towards the empty loveseat and looks at Josh, prompting him to feel the need to ask a question he’d been downplaying for days. “Why aren’t you afraid of me staying here when you know what I’ve done?” Josh asks, Eliza chuckling to herself.
“I’m not afraid of you, Josh” Eliza replies, “I’ve faced more things scarier than death. You, or what you can do for that matter, none of it can frighten me.” His head dropping, Josh is brought back into the conversation when Eliza asks why he’s so interested. “I just miss what we used to be” Josh replies, “I miss talking to you like I was an actual person.” Her legs crossing, Eliza tells Josh that it isn’t that simple, nor is it that easy anymore.
“I didn’t think you were a murderer back then” Eliza replies, “I may not necessarily know exactly what I want… But I know that I don’t want to view you in the same way anymore.” His breathing becoming more spaced, Josh disappoints himself, hoping she would’ve left the door open for their old selves to have been possible to reclaim again. “You’d done so much for me before, so racing into the fire to save your ass, and letting you stay here is me paying my dues” Eliza concludes.
“So what are we?” Josh asks, Eliza rolling her eyes as if she could have expected that question from day one. “Josh, we’ve never been a couple, so let’s not talk like we were” Eliza says, “you’re a murderer, you have more than enough to go out and live on your own, and when everything settles down, I want you to get the fuck out of here.” All of this being said in a smooth, gentle tone, Eliza gets up from her seat and walks off until Josh asks another question.
“Why did you act like that back in that factory?” the man questions, Eliza turning her head over her shoulder to glance down at Josh. “The heat of the moment” Eliza replies, “that’s all it was.” Shaking his head, Josh is instructed by the woman to look at him and understand what she is saying. “It was a woman, who you caused a fuck load of pain, rambling because nothing made sense and she was stupid to believe things could ever be the same” Eliza concludes, storming off.
The bedroom door slamming behind her, Eliza gets herself ready for bed as Josh stares onwards, angered by her words, but unable to do anything about it other than sit in his seat and simmer. Eyes narrowing as his anger begins threatening to boil over, they crack wide open once he thinks to look into his back pocket, slowly retrieving the picture and looking up directions to the specific street on his maps app.
Taking Eliza’s car keys, Josh sneaks his way out of the front door and down the front steps, evading the security light before climbing into the vehicle and taking a seat at the wheel. Suddenly, as he prepares the place the keys in the ignition, his phone begins ringing, signalling for Josh exactly what he was afraid would happen. “Guardian, I swear if you’re trying to-” Josh begins, halting when the guardian tells him to look in the backseat.
Turning around, Josh spots Eliza with her right leg draped over her left, her eyebrows lifted as if to insult Josh for thinking he’d get away with this getaway. “I’ll talk to you soon” the guardian says, hanging up as Josh is left to deal with being caught pre-red handed. “I know it-” Josh begins, immediately cut off as Eliza takes another track, calling him out as a hypocrite, and worth nothing more than the gum she can find on a random sidewalk.
“You had the balls to think we could go back to the way things used to be” Eliza begins, searing with anger, “and then you climb into my car and start killing more people?” Her lips arched as the disgust she feels consumes her, demanding that Josh get back in the house and learn to play by her rules. Storming into the home and slamming her door shut, Eliza turns the alarm system on before aiming for Josh and tearing into him further.
“I thought I saw something in your eyes earlier today” Eliza says, “I don’t know what, but I thought I saw it and I couldn’t be more wrong.” Trying to get another apology out, Josh is overwhelmed, forced back into silence by Eliza, instructed that he is not allowed to speak unless Eliza gives him permission. “I am an accomplice to murder, your murders. So as long as you are in my house, you will obey my rules or I will turn you in without a second thought.”
His eyes getting puffy, Josh looks away from Eliza until she demands he return his look to her, wanting every last ounce of his attention that she can get. “You have fucked my life up far beyond repair, and you will not get a redemption story, and I will be damned if you get a happy ending you disgusting pile of filth.” Tears beginning to form in his eyes, Josh stands up and walks up to Eliza, who swiftly takes him by the arm and serves him a hip toss, dropping him hard to the ground.
Groaning in pain as the tears run down his face, Josh begs Eliza to let him go, accepting whatever rules she puts on him. “Whatever you want! Please let me go!” Josh says, his words hard to hear by the pain in his voice, his breathing mixing with hiccup sounding gasps. Her eyes narrowed as she looks at him, Eliza begins calming down, realizing the pain in the man’s voice to be genuine, easing her grip and letting go of his arm.
Struggling to find the words to respond with, Eliza shakes her head and sust off her knees, returning to her bedroom after swiping the photograph away from Josh and slamming her door shut once more. Left on the ground of the living room, Josh is left with the tears running down his face, forming a tiny puddle on the ground, the only friend he once thought he had left probably hating him more than any of the families of his victims.
-> I’m not gonna pretend like any of that was fun. It… It hurt more than anything else I had experienced because she was right. I walked into that house thinking I was a welcomed guest, and everything I thought came crashing down. The truth hit me in the form of a crash onto the ground.
It was exactly what I did to her. I deserved it, and I knew that the second it happened.
I wasn’t the one that was betrayed… She was, and it happened long before that night. Eventually, I climbed onto the couch and tired to forget that it happened, but that obviously wasn’t the case. I spent the whole night holding my probably re-broken ribs as I looked at that wall again. It was so fucking empty that it pissed me off. All it did was depress me that night. <-
Walking from her room, Eliza steps into the kitchen without thinking about, or even looking at Josh, taking her morning medication and preparing herself a bagel. “What did you think you saw?” Josh asks, his question breaking through the most difficult silence to bare either of them had ever known there to be. “What was that?” Eliza asks, her voice sounding chipper as her act of giving him the cold shoulder persists.
“You said you thought you saw something in my eyes yesterday” Josh says, Eliza replying, “What about it?” His lip quivering as the hole in it from his K9 tooth biting through it upon impact with the floor the night prior, Josh asks again, “What was it that you saw?” Finally taking his eyes off the blank wall, Josh stares at Eliza, watching her make her breakfast as if the conversation wasn’t even happening, refusing to answer Josh’s question.
His eyes clenching together, knowing she will refuse him the satisfaction of knowing what she doesn’t care for him to know, Josh looks back at the wall, his eyes jolting open when a single word is stated from within the kitchen.
“Remorse” Eliza replies, picking up the hot bagel from the toaster and placing it on the plate, smearing the top of it with sour cream before taking a bite. “Happy?” Eliza asks, her first glance towards Josh on the day being one of finding him with his eyes directed at her, before being directed at the ground, before finally coming to a rest at the wall once more.
“No” Josh replies, the word fluttering beneath his breath, effective enough to interest Eliza, who would’ve thought him to have expected such an answer. “And why are you not surprised?” the woman asks, strolling into the living room as if there was no need to care, flinging the rope on her robe in the air as if Josh’s sorrow was an amusement fair for her. “I would’ve hoped it would be something better” Josh replies, “something possible.”
“Why is feeling remorse for what you did not possible?” Eliza asks, “you’re the reason lives aren’t here anymore, how is there any lack of remorse in knowing that?” Turning towards her with conviction, Josh reminds her that it wasn’t simply a set of people chosen at random, but rather, very terrible people that had done very terrible things, and had enough money to never have to answer for that.
“Perhaps you weren’t killing people with the potential to do good, but-” Eliza begins, Josh cutting her off, surprising her, leaving her with a small amount of insult taken from the action. “No, there is no ‘but’ in this conversation. I didn’t kill people, I killed monsters” Josh replies, “I killed very bad people that would have never had to pay for their crimes if I didn’t do what the justice system couldn’t be trusted to do.”
Effectively silenced, Eliza allows Josh to continue his descriptor, watching the tears well up in his eyes as he truly believes himself to be more of a hero than a villain. “I understand that I complicated your life in measures that I will never understand, and I will never ask for forgiveness for that” Josh concludes, “but the anger you have for me should not be due to the work that I have done, which has statistically brought sick crime like this to an all time low.”
“You’re not meant to choose who gets to live and who gets to die” Eliza replies, watching a near-smile appear on Josh’s face as he asks why she gets to choose who gets to be blamed for what. “They’re dead” Eliza says, “they’re not suffering, they were spared from having to answer for their actions.” Taking in a deep breath as she decides whether or not to continue this line of dialogue, Eliza decides in favor of it, making it clear to Josh exactly what she thinks.
“I’m not saying they would have suffered consequences, but they sure as hell aren’t suffering right now” the woman concludes, “you played god, and that’s no kind of power for one man to have.” Opening his mouth to reply as Eliza’s frustration slowly turns into sadness, Josh attempts to say anything, watching Eliza actively quiet herself in hopes that he would say something worth the emotional tole this conversation is having on the two of them.
“Even if it may seem self-aggrandizing, sometimes there are things we can’t trust our government to get right” Josh responds, “sometimes they’re just too afraid to do what’s necessary. And when that happens, people are forced to take measures into their own hands.” Wiping away the tears that have seemingly become residents of his eyes over the past day, Josh makes it clear to Eliza that there is a side that is never taken into account.
“This isn’t even just about justice served for those people” Josh says, “where the hell is the justice for their victims?” Puckering her lips, Eliza admits that the only justice for the people his victims have hurt is currently well-hidden underground as they speak. “As far as I’m concerned, the only way you can justify killing those men is by freeing those children, and allowing them to actually live their lives.”
“And what if I do?” Josh asks, Eliza smiling, a chuckle hidden behind her sincere smile. “Then perhaps I’ll have to own up about being wrong to doubt your work” Eliza replies, standing up and walking away, only to be called back by Josh. “Don’t pretend like it’s who I am that you have a problem with” the man says, watching Eliza turn and face him, “we both know it’s because of what I did to you.”
Taking a specified interest in putting that to the test, Eliza tells Josh that she wants a completely honest answer from him, without the top of that response being sugarcoated. Welcoming it, Josh watches Eliza’s lips move as she asks if he has any remorse for what he did to those men, even if for the greater good.
With the most confident response he’s given all morning, Josh allows a broken smile to pierce through his dried lips as his hands fold together.
“No” the man replies, watching Eliza slowly nod as she takes this information in. “Then it’s both” the woman replies, returning to her bedroom with her bagel still in hand. Slowly returning his stare to the wall, Josh notices the familiar figment of his imagination having a seat on the loveseat Eliza had just left. With confidence, Josh tells Nora’s hallucination, “I don’t” before watching it wither away, leaving him alone as the sun rises, and the glow appears through the curtains.