“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.