Nine Minutes Written By Marshall Dungan

2013 Marshall Dungan

Marshall.Dungan@gmail.com @Doctahmushi on Twitter

FADE IN: 1 EXT. FOREST TRAIL - DAY Strong, ATHLETIC BREATHING breaks the silence of the trail at daybreak. With a flash, LUKE SULLIVAN runs by. Broad shoulders, lithe, toned build. One of those weekend warrior Adonis types. And with legs pumping and muscles churning, he’s carving up every bend and jump on the trail. Luke blows past a sign: "DANGEROUS TERRAIN AHEAD. EXPERIENCED HIKERS ONLY". But that warning isn’t for him. Not someone this fit, this quick. The trademark laugh of an adrenaline junkie spills into the silence and Luke rushes ahead. 2 EXT. FOREST TRAIL - LATER 2 1

Luke’s WATCH goes off. He slows and pulls out his earbuds as the run comes to an end. He looks down: he’s been at this for two hours already. A STIRRING comes from the woods behind him. LUKE What? Luke approaches cautiously, until the stirring is followed by a SCREAM. Not a yell, or a bark. A panicked, bloody-murder scream. WOMAN PLEASE!!! Luke JOLTS with alarm. He takes off. At breakneck speed, the scream grows louder and closer. He can now hear the GROWLING CRY that accompanies the screams. LUKE HEY! He plows past brush and branch with abandon, scared of being too late; or maybe, what he’ll see if he’s not. The sound is close, just beyond the heavy brush. Luke explodes through and--

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: LUKE I hear you! I’m coming!!! I hear you-FALLS DOWN A THIRTY-FOOT RAVINE.

2.

Rocks slide, crows flee, and bones snap. He’s a whirling dervish of limbs on rock until he settles in a heap at the bottom. The silence of the forest mockingly returns. 3 EXT. RAVINE - DAY Vision shifts from haze to a sharp view of the ravine. Luke shifts to look around and WAILS in pain. His leg is badly broken. Beyond the brush, SOMETHING WATCHES him writhe. Luke stops screaming as he catches his breath. Moments pass and reality sets in. Lifting his arm, he sees his armband with his IPHONE shattered, but still attached. The clock reads 10:38. LUKE HA! NO SERVICE. His expression curdles. He thrusts the phone in the air, wincing as he searches vainly for signal. The observer sees. LUKE Come on, one bar. One bar. One bar-A low, clicking GROWL leaks out of the brush and brings Luke to lower the phone. Terror pierces him as the sound of his approaching doom grows stronger. Luke LURCHES FORWARD, gritting his teeth through the blinding pain in his leg. Inches, inches, anything to get away from the sound, deafening now, until-Again, SILENCE. Anger crosses Luke’s face. (CONTINUED) 3

CONTINUED:

3.

LUKE AHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHH! What the fuck are you?! WOMAN Over here! Luke turns over. Out steps from the woods not a beast, but a WOMAN. Uniform khakis, first aid pack--she must be a PARK RANGER. WOMAN Station: 10-18, Caucasian male, major injuries. Need immediate assistance. She runs to his side. WOMAN Hello, can you understand me? LUKE Yes. WOMAN You’re hurt bad. What’s your name? LUKE Luke. She sets to work with an EMT’s cool. VIOLET Luke, I’m Violet. Luke, you have a broken leg. I’ll have to reset it-LUKE There’s something out there. We have to get outta here now. VIOLET (perfunctory) It’s not safe to move you in this condition. LUKE Fuck that. We are in danger. We have to go now. I heard it attack someone already I know it’s somewhere close--

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: VIOLET (calming him) Trust me, it’s just us.

4.

There’s something--in her words, in her eyes, or the way she places a hand on his forehead--that settles Luke. VIOLET Just lie back. Violet opens her PACK, and pulls on latex gloves. She removes her belt and hands it to him. VIOLET Bite down. They both steel themselves for the pain. She quickly jerks the leg outward. Luke lets out a tense, muted wail as the bone slides back below flesh. She takes the belt out of his mouth gently. VIOLET I’m sorry I had to do that. LUKE Better than the alternative. Luke tries to laugh at his own joke, but Violet’s expression sours it. VIOLET ...Why were you out here? LUKE I’m a trail runner. Competitively. Forests, mountain trails. I run trails every weekend. VIOLET Alone? LUKE (feigned humor) I’m in good company when I’m by myself. VIOLET You don’t understand, Luke. Park Rangers only go this far into the forest every few weeks, and even then, there’s miles and miles of brush off the trails. (CONTINUED)

CONTINUED:

5.

LUKE So...? VIOLET No one should have found you. Her words chill the air. RADIO (O.S.) Victor-One-Two, we have a medevac en route. ETA two hours min. We’ll be there as soon as we can. LUKE Sounds like we’ll have a chance to get to know each other. Violet gives her best nurse’s smile. The GROWLING returns...or are those CHOPPER BLADES... DISSOLVE TO: 4 INT. TELEVISION STUDIO 4

Luke slumps underneath hot studio lights, dripping with unease. SCARS mark his face. Across from him, ALI RAVESH (male, Dateline affect) sits, enthralled by Luke’s story. He leans in closer. ALI And what happened then? LUKE We waited-Pull back to reveal: Violet sitting beside Luke. LUKE --She waited with me for hours, just talking to me. VIOLET He was so charming, I asked him if he got all his dates by cheating death. Laughter from all parties. ALI And how is the leg today?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: LUKE Great. The doctors say I will make a full recovery. ALI Was that due to the quick action taken by Violet? LUKE Of course. His hand slides easily onto hers. VIOLET Anytime.

6.

Ali goes on, but Luke isn’t listening. He’s straining, simultaneously hunting for the sound, and cowering from it. What can only be... THAT GROWL. 5 INT. PHYSICAL THERAPIST’S OFFICE - DAY "OLIVER MARTIN, DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY" Violet stares at the framed degree as the sound of Luke’s SCREAMS reverberate through the adjacent PT room. Worry and defeat settle on her face. 6 EXT. DOWNTOWN - DAY 6 5

Violet and Luke make their way back to his apartment, hand in hand. Luke walks with a CANE, and a pronounced LIMP. Full recovery? Maybe not. Violet chats breezily, but Luke remains chafed by the world. VIOLET It’s still this painful? LUKE Like the day it happened. VIOLET Well, I’m going to cook you a nice dinner tonight and maybe a little single malt scotch to take your mind off of things? A JOGGER runs by. Luke’s mind runs with him. The jogger’s muscles load and unwind their long, loping stride. Their eyes MEET as he passes, and Luke sees...himself? (CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: VIOLET --Sweetie, what is it? Reality snaps back into place. LUKE Nothing. I feel cold, is all. Violet stops, embracing him. VIOLET Come on, let’s get you inside. 7 INT. LUKE’S BEDROOM - NIGHT Luke rests his leg on the bed as Violet changes into a nightgown. He stares, unfocused on anything but his thoughts.

7.

7

She reenters, and lays next to him. He’s falling into his own world, but she caresses his arm in hopes of bringing him back. LUKE What if I was never meant to leave that place? Violet is stunned. VIOLET Why would you ever think that? Luke rises from the bed, grabbing at his cane. LUKE Because I’m lost. I think about what I came back to, the parts of me that I left there. Suddenly the world doesn’t fit, anymore. Like it switched to color and I’m still black and white. But then I look in your eyes and for that moment, I feel alive again. VIOLET That sounds like a good thing. LUKE But I never needed that before. What if I lose you? What then? How can I ever be me again without you? (CONTINUED)

CONTINUED:

8.

Wounded silence. VIOLET You’d rather be alone than in love? The GROWL returns. LUKE I don’t know. I don’t goddamn know, but I’m afraid of everything now. VIOLET But just listen to me-LUKE No, no-It’s LOUDER than ever, but Luke fights through it. VIOLET But we can be together, here. In this house, in this life. We can be happy like this as long as we want! LUKE This doesn’t make me happy! I just want it all to go away! The sound ceases. There’s fire in Violet’s eyes, but she says nothing. LUKE I just want to go to sleep. VIOLET Yes. They slip into bed, both hurt. 8 INT. LUKE’S BEDROOM - LATER Luke is awakened in the night. He hears a SNAP, and a jolt of pain forces a scream. He looks around to find no one. LUKE Violet? He looks down at his clothes. He’s back in his RUNNING GEAR. The room around him BRIGHTENS, flooding with DAYLIGHT. The bed, the walls DISAPPEAR, to reveal... 8

9.

9

EXT. FOREST TRAIL - DAY Luke lies in a pool of his own blood as his broken leg bleeds out of the open wound. His face is caked in dirt and blood, his body a mess of cuts and bruises and tattered fitness clothes. He sees his phone next to him: The clock reads 10:47. LUKE VIOLET!!! Nothing. The silent watcher from the brush moves closer now. Its low guttural snarl finally makes its presence known. Luke SEES IT. To his unending screams, IT RUSHES FORTH. BLACK.

9

10

INT/EXT. SAC’N’PAC - DAWN

10

A run-down convenience store, near the highway. Salty CLERK at the register sizes Luke up as he tosses a few energy bars on the counter. CLERK This all? LUKE Yeah, man. CLERK Why you here, boy? LUKE Excuse me? I’m about to run the trails in Violet Bend Forest down the road. The clerk sneers as the register chirps at each barcode. CLERK I wouldn’t go in there alone. The woods’ll keep ya. He hands him his items and a stern stare to go with it. Luke smirks.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED:

10.

LUKE I don’t think the woods want me. And exits. CLERK You don’t know what she wants. FADE OUT.

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