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Hell on Earth: From the Ashes
 

Episode 2 - "A Savage Race"
by B. D. Flory - published with author's permission

Written in screenplay script format.


 

TEASER

FADE IN:
EXT. HIGHWAY

Where our favorite group of refugees is trudging west. A short distance behind, Levi slowly guides his tractor over the broken surface of the highway. An improvised flatbed on the rear of the tractor carries some of the refugees. A beat to establish, then

ELIAS:
"Levi!"

ELIAS enters frame, waving down LEVI. Levi pulls the long-nose to a stop, and leans out his window. Levi and Elias both shout to be heard over the engine.

LEVI:
"Yeah?"

ELIAS:
"We've spotted a town on the North horizon. I want you to take a few people and check it out. We need food and rest. Badly."

LEVI:
"You got that right. Get these people out of the flatbed, though. Neighbors ain't always neighborly these days, and I don't want to worry about 'em."

ELIAS:
"What about Gerry?"

LEVI:
"He's staying up here with me. I'm not letting that kid out of my sight."

Elias smiles and moves toward the rear of the vehicle. Levi bellows

LEVI:
"Jarrod! Grant! Bart!"
(beat)
"Saddle up!"

CUT TO:
EXT. SETTLEMENT WALL

A mish mash of metallic bits- mostly car parts. As Levi pulls his truck up to a gap in the wall, an armed man steps out from behind the wall into the gap. The rifle he's carrying is pointed at Levi's head.
Levi stops the truck.

SENTRY:
"Step out of the truck!"

Levi complies, as do BART, GRANT, and JARROD.

SENTRY:
"Advance and be recognized!"

Another sentry steps from the other side of the gap, gun slung at his side. He doesn't appear ready for action: his long, many-knuckled fingers are wrapped up in knots. As he approaches the posse, he rapidly untangles his digits. Call him FINGERS.

FINGERS:
(to sentry)
"Ease off, buddy. The army hasn't paid you in years."

Sentry loosens up a bit — but only a bit.

FINGERS:
"Welcome to —"
(beat)
"umm..."
(beat)
"Welcome to our town. What's your business?"

JARROD:
"We need food and a place to rest. We're willing to trade for it."

FINGERS:
"I don't think that'll be a problem."

JARROD:
"For about forty people?"

Fingers stares at Jarrod for a beat, and we

CUT TO:
INT. SETTLEMENT

As Levi, Jarrod, Grant, and Bart walk in. The improvised structures are built of similar stuff to the wall — discarded car parts.

JARROD:
(quietly)
"They must be scrounging from the highw —"

Whereupon Jarrod is interrupted by a hail from the shadows of a building's entrance. The speaker is Jim CRABTREE.

CRABTREE:
"Mallery. Jarrod Eliot Mallery. Been a long time since I've seen a Templar out this way."

Jarrod — currently clothed in rags — shuts up and looks up. We hold on his confusion for a beat, and

FADE OUT

END TEASER


ACT I

FADE IN:
EXT. CRABTREE'S PLACE

As our heroes approach Crabtree.

JARROD:
"Jim? Jim Crabtree?"

CRABTREE:
"You never were very good at that part. The disguises, I mean."

Crabtree steps out of the shadows, revealing his Templar's tabard. It, along with the rest of his clothing, is stained, torn, and generally beat to hell. Despite all of that, it still carries a certain majesty. The Maltese cross of the Templars is still a rich, blood red.
Jarrod laughs out loud and takes Crabtree in a rough embrace. A beat passes, and Crabtree disengages.

JARROD:
"You never told me that part was important! You taught me to fight, to judge, and to die, but never how to hide the damn cross right!"

As Grant, Bart, and Levi look on astonished, Crabtree grins.

CRABTREE:
"Ingrate. C'mon in."

As Crabtree leads the group into the makeshift building behind him, we

CUT TO:
EXT. HIGHWAY

As Levi and company return. Jarrod isn't with them. Elias meets the group as they debark from Levi's truck.

ELIAS:
"I hope you have good news for me."

GRANT:
"Yes. It seems as if Jarrod has an old friend out there."

ELIAS:
Oh?

GRANT:
"An old Templar friend. From the sounds of it, he was Jarrod's mentor. Which means Jarrod's a Templar, too."

ELIAS:
"I know."

LEVI:
"You knew?"

ELIAS:
"It was his business."

CUT TO:
INT. CRABTREE'S PLACE

As Crabtree speaks to Jarrod.

CRABTREE:
(grimly)
"Gateway went down, then."

JARROD:
"Yeah."

CRABTREE:
(sighs)
"That's going to make things hard. We traded with Gateway for a lot of our food. We're gonna have to find another source."

JARROD:
"And you're still willing to trade some of it back to us?"

CRABTREE:
"It's only right. We got a lot of it from you to begin with. Besides, with things as bad as they are now, we all have to look out for each other."

Crabtree sighs heavily, and stands. He moves to a window, and looks out at the settlement.

CRABTREE:
"We are all each other's keepers."

JARROD:
"Is that why you've been in this town for so long?"

CRABTREE:
"Six months ago, they needed a champion. These are good people, so I helped them. Afterwards, I stayed around. With things like they are, I couldn't just walk away. It was only a matter of time before they needed me again."
(beat)
"And I'm tired."

Jarrod listens, silent.

CRABTREE:
"I've been a Templar for almost six years now, nearly from the beginning. I've walked from one end of these wastes to another, and I've seen more than maybe even Simon. I need to rest. Maybe retire. And this is as good a place as any to do it."

He takes off his sword and lays it on his desk. The sword appears to be a marine's saber. As Crabtree draws it from the sheath, we see it has been sharpened to a razor's edge. Crabtree looks at his reflection in the blade, turning it back and forth a couple of times.

CRABTREE:
"And maybe, someday, I can lay this sword down."

JARROD:
"Jim —"

Crabtree sheaths his sword.

CRABTREE:
"It's been so damn heavy lately."

Crabtree puts his head in his hands. Jarrod reaches across, and lays his hand on Crabtree's shoulder. We hold for a beat on teacher and student, and

CUT TO:
EXT. SETTLEMENT

Inside the walls, as Elias exits Crabtree's place. He moves toward the waiting refugees, and announces

ELIAS:
"We can stay here for the night. Find an empty building, and sack out."

As the crowd disperses, Jarrod steps up to Elias.

JARROD:
"And food?"

ELIAS:
"Taken care of. We'll trade for whatever this town can spare."

JARROD:
"Good. Rest easy, Elias."

ELIAS:
"One more thing, Jarrod."
(beat)
"Your friend Crabtree is carrying a lot of guilt around. Why?"

JARROD:
"I don't know."
(beat)
"Maybe I should."

CUT TO:
EXT. SURVIVOR SETTLEMENT

Night. A beat to establish, and

CUT TO:
INT. JARROD'S ROOM

As he awakens. As he sits up and shakes off the cloud of sleep, we hear a dull, metallic sound. Jarrod throws off his blanket, and throws on his tabard. As he rushes out, we

CUT TO:
EXT. LEVI'S TRUCK

Where we can see someone rummaging around in the flatbed, where containers of food are stacked. A beat passes, and Jarrod enters frame, shortly followed by Bart, Grant, and Crabtree.

GRANT:
"What's happening?"

JARROD:
"Someone's stealing the food."

As the four watch, a man leaps from the flatbed to the ground, a bundle under his arm. He looks up and sees our heroes, and our heroes see him: "Fingers" MacPhee.

CRABTREE:
(shouts)
"Fingers!"

When Fingers hears Crabtree, he bursts into a weighted down run. Our heroes pursue, and Jarrod tackles Fingers.

FINGERS:
(almost whining)
No! You have to let me go!

Shortly, Crabtree grabs Fingers by the arm and hauls him to his feet.

CRABTREE:
C'mon, Fingers. You know the penalty for theft. Food theft, especially.

Jarrod walks alongside.

JARROD:
"The penalty?"

CRABTREE:
"Death."

CUT TO:
INT. CRABTREE'S PLACE

Where Jarrod is on a tear.

JARROD:
"— can't just execute him! We caught him, no harm done!"

CRABTREE:
"Not to you. But this town holds together because of its laws. Be cause people know the penalty for breaking them. If we ignore them, this town is going to come apart at the seams. I won't allow that."

JARROD:
"These people are worth protecting, Jim. You said it yourself."

CRABTREE:
"These people are. Fingers *was*. Now he's a thief. But not for long."

Crabtree steps outside, sword in hand.

CUT TO:
EXT. SETTLEMENT

where a pair of burly men hold fingers. A small crowd is gathered, including a few of the refugees. As Crabtree approaches the group, they part for him, and the burly men push Fingers to his knees. Bart and Elias watch, but Grant is absent.

FINGERS:
"I was hungry, Jim! Don't —"
(beat)
"The rations aren't enough!"

Crabtree unsheathes his sword, and draws it across the back of Fingers' neck.

FINGERS:
"I'm sorry, Jim! Ple —"

Crabtree strikes.

FADE OUT

END ACT I

 

ACT II

FADE IN:
EXT. SETTLEMENT

Still night. As the crowd disperses, Jarrod intercepts Bart and Elias.

JARROD:
"We can't stay here. I don't know him anymore."

ELIAS:
"Agreed. We'll leave first thing in the morning."

JARROD:
"I don't know if we can wait that long."

ELIAS:
"We have to. I would remind you that many of us are old, or injured, or crippled. We need to rest here."

Jarrod opens his mouth to speak, but Elias holds up a hand to silence him.

ELIAS:
"We will leave first thing in the morning."

CUT TO:
EXT. SETTLEMENT

Morning. Jarrod finds a PASSERBY, and inquires

JARROD:
"What did they do with Fing —"
(beat)
"with the body?"

The passerby cocks his head behind him, and answers,

PASSERBY:
"It's on the hill."

CUT TO:
EXT. THE HILL

Which is apparently a graveyard. The only headstones appear to be single white rocks about the size of a man's head. Many of the stones have a black mark painted on them. As Jarrod enters, we find a WOMAN placing another stone — Fingers' stone.

JARROD:
"Is that Fingers?"

WOMAN:
"Yes. He was a good kid."

She reaches down and dips a paint brush into a half-empty can of black paint. With a single stroke, she marks Finger's stone black.

JARROD:
"What's the paint for? A lot of these stones don't have it."

WOMAN:
"The white stones are for most folks. The ones that die from disease, or in an attack, or from a gunshot."

JARROD:
"The black ones?"

WOMAN:
"Criminals."

Jarrod's eyes widen. As he- and we- look around the cemetery, we find that the white stones are no longer for "most folks". The black stones outnumber the white.

JARROD:
(whispers)
"Oh my God..."

CUT TO:
EXT. SETTLEMENT

As Jarrod moves into frame. He's in full Templar dress, it's late morning, getting on till Noon. We hold for a beat, and Crabtree steps outside as well.

CRABTREE:
"Morning, Jarrod."
(looks closely at Jarrod for a beat)
"What's up?"

JARROD:
"This isn't how we do things, Jim."

CRABTREE:
(beat)
"You just came from the hill, didn't you."

Jarrod doesn't respond; he only stares.

CRABTREE:
"I'm sorry you had to see that, but it's necessary."

JARROD:
"For what? We're supposed to be fighting against the Reckoners, Jim. Against fear. But you're worse than any Walking Dead I've ever seen. This people are living in your shadow, because you've convinced them it's the only thing that'll protect them from the sun."
(beat)
"Maybe it's time they saw the light again."

CRABTREE:
"We can talk about this later. I've got things to do."

JARROD:
"This is important, Jim!"

Crabtree points to a gathering crowd, who surround two men holding a third.
The whole scene looks damn familiar.

CRABTREE:
"So's that."

And Crabtree stalks toward the crowd.

CUT TO:
EXT. SETTLEMENT

With the crowd, as Crabtree approaches, Jarrod close behind.

JARROD:
"Don't do this, Jim. It isn't right."

CRABTREE:
(spins to face Jarrod, furious)
"It is right because *I* say it's right! I am a Templar- *we* are Templars, and we are the best shot at salvation these people have!
"

Crabtree turns back toward the prisoner, who is now on his knees, and draws his sword. As he draws back to strike, Jarrod says

JARROD:
"Yeah. I guess we are."

And intercepts the killing blow with his own sword. Quickly, the prisoner scrambles out from underneath the two Templars. The two men who were holding him begin to move toward Jarrod, but Crabtree waves them off.

CRABTREE:
"This is how it's going to be then?"

JARROD:
"This is how it has to be."

And Jarrod strikes.
What follows isn't a duel. It isn't a dance of parry and thrust. It's a street fight. It's dirty, it's ugly, it's brutal, and it's mean. And finally, it's over. Crabtree goes down, Jarrod's sword plunged deeply into his chest. As his blood begins to seep into his tabard, the Maltese Cross becomes less and less definable among the red, until it seems to disappear all together.
Jarrod, chest heaving, kneels over his fallen mentor and closes Crabtree's eyes for the last time. As Jarrod is wracked with silent sobs, we

FADE OUT

END ACT II

 

TAG

FADE IN:
EXT. THE HILL

Where Jarrod stands in front of a freshly filled in grave, a brisk wind snapping at his tabard. Stoically, he stands and waits, until a man approaches the grave with a stone. A familiar sort of stone. The man places the stone at the head of the grave, and dips a brush in a can of black paint.
Jarrod puts his hand on the man's shoulder.

JARROD:
"No."

The man looks up at him, confused.

JARROD:
"No more black stones."

We pull back slightly, to see Jarrod's pack on the ground behind him. The corners of another Tabard poke out of the pack, and a second sword is slung along side Jarrod's.
The man shrugs, drops the brush back in the paint can, then leaves. We hold on Jarrod for a beat, alone on the hill. Abruptly, he turns, swings his pack over his shoulder, and begins to walk away. As he moves past the camera, we PAN to follow him, revealing the refugees of Gateway in the distance. As he looks down the hill at the people, he stops and says to no one in particular,

JARROD:
"No more black stones."

With the faintest twinge of doubt in his voice.

 

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Last updated: 2003/09/11

   
 

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