“It is only during a storm that a tree knows how strong it is.”
The video opens on what appears to be a vacant lot that quickly proves to be anything but vacant. Its most prominent feature is a huge mound of packed earth in the center. The mound is surrounded on all sides by more than thirty men and women, their hair and clothes whipping in the howling wind.
They know why they have been assembled, but none is ready to open hostilities just yet. The gathering clouds and rolling thunder tells us that the decision would soon be made for them.
The music begins, in a clamor of country guitar and jaw harp. “Hurricane” by Levon Helm.
Then, the skies open. The wind blows. The rain falls.
The madness begins.
The storm arrives with incredible ferocity, and the pounding rain is joined by floodwaters from elsewhere in the city. So many of these faces–the unlucky, the unready, the unworthy–are swept away in an instant, not to be seen again. Those that remain dig in their heels and stand their ground against the storm, and against each other.
A mass brawl erupts as the rain falls even harder. Those who might otherwise clear the field instead slip in the mud, and then are caught in the current of the ever-rising water. A lucky few are able to find handholds to avoid being lost completely, but most are not so fortunate.
The ones who remain crowd closer together as they compete for high ground. One–a hulking, bald brute of a man–knows he cannot fight through the waist-high water, and instead plants his feet and stands still. He will move from this spot when he is ready, and not a moment before.
The cowboy gets elbowed in the face and tumbles backwards down the hill. He braces himself for the shock of his eventual plunge into the cold water…but it never comes. Instead, he keeps falling.
The flood has not claimed all of the fallen; one instead is taken by the sky. The winds of fortune, or misfortune, carry one man through the air in a streak of red and white, his limbs flailing about randomly in a futile effort to exert control over his situation. He knows not his destination, just that the landing will be hard.
Two forms ascend either side of the high ground, both their paths and methods wildly different. On one side is the gentleman, who approaches each obstacle in a cold and methodical manner. He waits for an opportunity and strikes without mercy.
Opposite him is the madman, driven by the screeching pink demon that rides atop his shoulders. She steers him by pulling his hair and barking instructions, which he follows without thinking. Her fury terrifies him. Their love terrifies everyone.
The rain continues–fast, heavy, and thick.
The masked man is caught in the storm, but sees salvation in a small house nearby. He fights the current long enough to reach it, scramble up the side, and pull himself onto the roof. As he looks up, he sees a woman standing over him…and barely has enough time to roll away, before she drives a blade through the shingles where his throat was only moments before.
A man with an impossible smile holds on to a telephone pole for dear life, laughing at the unfortunate souls caught in the current. Suddenly that smile turns to a scream as he feels something grab his leg and pull him under.
The madman and his monster descend upon the knight errant, cutting him down and casting him aside, before staggering toward the summit. He is not walking the path; she is pulling him upward.
A heartthrob of a man in a tuxedo is locked in battle with a warrior king. The screen star falters, allowing the regent to cast him down. The mighty king sees his enemy fall into a passing rowboat…then suddenly feels a foot in the middle of his back, and feels himself get kicked away. The gentleman, satisfied with his work, saunters to the top as well.
Water flies in at all directions, driven by the swirling winds. No one can see what’s in front of them, let alone what lies in wait.
The drifter wasn’t even here when the storm began, but now finds himself clutching for dear life to a piece of debris. He has his eyes set straight ahead, but for reasons unknown to us–perhaps on the instructions of a voice we cannot hear–he turns his head, and sees a red-and-white meteor hurtling directly towards him. He steels himself for the fray, prepared to defend his meager stake.
The shining cowboy falls roughly to the ground, and cannot believe what he sees. In front of him is the preacher, his arms outstretched, his face straining. Both of them are on a small pocket of land surrounded by the water, held back by magic or trickery or the will of God Himself. The cowboy doesn’t have time to ask before the preacher brings his hands together. The spell is broken, and the waves claim them both.
The waves lap over the edge of the rooftop as the woman in red slashes at the masked man. They attack each other with tooth and nail, thorn and bramble. Rather than attempt survival, they choose to make war.
The smiling man finds himself face-to-face with the golem, rooted to the ground by sheer stubbornness. His eyes are filled with anger…and a challenge.
“You want my spot? Come and take it.”
The impossible grin grows. They will need no air; they will survive on hate.
The king lands on the deck of a rowboat, and immediately sees the seething face of the leading man. The king has cost him one prize already; he will not lose another. This battle, so recently completed, begins anew.
At last, the madman and the gentleman reach the pinnacle…and it quickly becomes obvious that there is only room for one. Their eyes lock, and an unspoken claim is made by each man.
“When the water subsides, only two things will remain. This city…
As they stare each other down, lightning flashes across the sky…and we can see something lurking in the far distance. An enormous, hulking form with glowing red eyes.
In that moment, we know that the hell these men have put themselves through is nothing compared to the one that awaits…