#FollowTheRabbit Pitch: Black Out
A Horror Story. A Road Trip Story. Unlikely Friends On The Road To Start Over.
Andrew “Lucky” Rivera
The Black Dogs
It’s 8:03am in Jericho, Texas, where the border wall stretches across the dusty earth as far as the eye can see. Andrew is sitting in a jail cell when the deputy tells him that his mother is here to pick him up. Andrew is 30 years old, covered in tattoos, and holding a Black Dog Motorcycle Club vest with the patch ripped off the back. He’s wearing a dog collar to cover up the club ink on his neck. His mother Lila is smoking a cigarette in her grubby old white pick-up truck, and she can’t look her only son in the eye.
They ride in silence. His mother’s bony hands are shaking on the steering wheel. Andrew has no way to explain himself, no words to put to the letters and photos in the bag given back to him by the deputy. He can only tell Lila that he loves her, he’s sorry, and to let him out at Red’s Tattoo Shop on Main Street.
Up until 7:09pm the night before, Andrew was the heir of the Black Dog gang, established by his father Eddie and uncle Jamie. Now, he’s been kicked out, his patch removed, and he has to cover up each of his club tattoos. If he doesn’t, they’ll be burned off his hide by his former brothers in arms. That’s club law, and Andrew abides club law. The snarling bulldog club logo on his neck is blacked out, bandaged, and hidden away under his collar.
Andrew was once the crowned prince of Jericho, Texas, born with a bronze spoon in his mouth, bought and paid for with money his family made running guns into Oklahoma. Now, he has three days to get the hell out before the whispers of his too-small town eat him alive. All he has to show for himself are letters from somebody who signs their name D.W., a few Polaroid photos, and a promise to come to California to start over.
Making his goodbyes to his friends in town, Andrew packs only what he can carry and climbs onto his hog headed west. The Texas scrubland turns into desert as Andrew makes his way into New Mexico. On the two-lane blacktop just past the border, a caravan of cars, trucks, and RVs nearly blows him off the road in their hurry to pass. Andrew stops just short of eating pavement as the final RV speeds around him. A young boy, sandy all over with a mop of yellow hair, sticks his head out of the RV’s window to hang out like a dog. For a split second, Andrew swears he hears the boy howl like one, too.
The road is full of skeletal buildings: gas stations, motels, the odd repair shop or diner. In a bar in the middle of a nowhere town, Andrew stops to take refuge from a day’s ride. It’s dark out now, and the desert is lit up neon wherever store lights reach between the buildings. He sidles up at the bar-top for a beer before walking to his rented room at the motel a half-block away. There are strangers in this bar: people in what look like wolf-pelts, gathered around a corner table. Brawlers all, surrounded by a few women and a boy. Andrew pays them no mind, pays his tab, and gets up to leave.
A familiar sandy boy eyes him from the corner table. Andrew wonders if he’s stopped at the wrong bar, but he’s no longer a Black Dog. He has no brothers to back him up, so he says nothing and goes to the restroom.
At the sink to wash his hands, he feels the press of a knife through his denim jacket. The blade slots in to fit between the ribs, aimed for something soft. Andrew steadies himself for a fight. In the mirror, he expects one of the pelt-wearing brawlers from the table, but it’s a young woman. Younger than him, maybe 18 or 19, with a feral look in her eye. She tells Andrew to take her out the back door to his bike, parked in the alley behind the bar. Andrew thinks he can put her down easily with a sucker punch, go for the knife in his boot, but he doesn’t. There’s a reason this girl wants his bike, rather than his wallet. He knows the look in her eyes.
Outside, she demands his ignition key to get the bike to start. Andrew asks her where she’s going; if she needs a lift, he can drive her to the next town. She hesitates. The bar door slams open as her friends barrel outside, demanding she come back. A young man who looks like Andrew’s new friend leads them, calls her Stitch, and tells her to get in his truck. The girl turns her knife at her comrades and says she isn’t going back. Andrew tries to diffuse the situation but he’s knocked to the ground by a blow to the head and kept there by a boot. All he can see is the neon on the ground.
With a roar like an animal, the group breaks into a scuffle, all teeth and claws. The wolf pelts melt into the bodies of their wearers as they shift into great, shaggy werewolves. Stitch scrapes at the leader’s face, sending him reeling, then attacks the big beefy wolf holding Andrew down. She shifts back, picks Andrew up, then drags him to the bike. Andrew looks back as the wolves shift back into human form, their dog-like whimpers turning into human curses and grunts of pain. He gathers his wits well enough to start the bike as Stitch yells at him to Go, fucking go, we have to get out of here.
Andrew is a former criminal on his way to California, to be with the love that cost him everything. Stitch is on the run from her family of roaming werewolves, led by her brutal brother Diego. They’re both dogs without packs, chewing up blacktop and praying they can make it westward to begin again.
This is Black Out.