“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.