Johnny is the idealist leader of an illegal organisation who has escaped from prison while serving a sentence for gun running. He now plans to hold up a linen mill in order to obtain funds. During the hold-up he is shot and badly wounded. Pat, the driver of the car, panics and drives away too fast and Johnny falls into the roadway. From then on he is hunted without mercy.
Wounded and bleeding, he stumbles through the city and tries to hide. He is befriended by some spurned by others. He tries to contact Kathleen , the girl who loves him and Dennis, his only friend, but the police are watching. Kathleen gets in touch with Father Tom, a priest who is the friend of everyone. Johnny has been hidden in a public house and meets three men – Shell, Lukey and Tober. Shell is a petty underworld character who tries to make contact with Johnny’s friends through Father Tom; Lukey, an artist who sees in the wounded, bewildered Johnny all the pain-crazed emotions he has wanted to paint, takes Johnny to his studio; Tober is a medical student who never graduated and who tries his neglected medical skill on Johnny.
Johnny has only one idea – to get to the docks and embark on a ship. On his way there he meets Kathleen. Together they start for the ship, and for the first time Johnny begins to understand Kathleen’s great unselfish love for him. The story which began at four o’ clock in the afternoon ends just eight hours later, at midnight, with an unexpected dramatic climax.