We shattered our world with a nuclear pulse, severing computer links and disrupting lives. For OSCAR RIDELL, an alcoholic telephone linesman, the pulse brought sobriety at the cost of his estranged family.
Uncomfortable with his new life and responsibilities, Oscar volunteers to head west for the government and reconnect phone lines between isolated communities. Trouble strikes shortly after Oscar crosses the Mississippi River and he must take refuge in an isolated Midwest town leery of technology and terrorized by bandits. He befriends RABBIT, a spirited young girl who helped save his life, but doesn’t know who else to trust when he recognizes that CAPTAIN PETERSON, a local Guard unit’s de facto commander, is also the ruthless leader of the bandits.
Oscar shies away from forming attachments with the townspeople, but realizes he cannot stand against Captain Peterson alone. He discovers that the sheriff harbors doubts about the captain and forms an alliance. Oscar also feels a camaraderie growing with Rabbit and her family while restoring a local theater for a Christmas movie, but these feelings are tested when bandits assault Rabbit’s brother and dump him outside Oscar’s workshop. The sheriff and Oscar trick the captain’s men into revealing their former CO’s fate, and Oscar alerts the National Guard state headquarters using a jury-rigged telephone, but finds Captain Peterson waiting for him outside.
Knowing that help is on the way, Oscar allows himself to be captured only to learn Captain Peterson grabbed Rabbit and will kill her if Oscar does not help access the armory’s weapons cache. Oscar devises a way to open the sealed vault while working free of his handcuffs and locks Captain Peterson inside. The sheriff and his men rescue both hostages and take control of the armory until support from headquarters can arrive. Oscar struggles with resuming his mission and finally says goodbye after showing Rabbit a working telephone they can use to stay in touch.