Out of Yellowstone, a screenplay, continued
A LITTLE LATER Rex directs the remaining 9 visitors into the helicopter. Standing by the cockpit, Robin strains to hear Frank. FRANK (loudly to Robin) This makes a full load. I'll have to come back for you two. It'll be about dark then. EXT. LANDSLIDE AREA - TWILIGHT A convoy of motor homes, pickup campers, and camper trailers travel in the twilight. Gus's motorhome travels through the excavated landslide and past the abandoned bulldozer. I/E. GUS'S MOTOR HOME - SAME The motor home closely follows behind a travel trailer in the procession. Up ahead, just left of the roadway, a new geyser develops in steams and spurts. GUS What the Hell's that? As they approach, the geyser erupts before them. Stella grips the dashboard and screams. Water SPLASHES down on the roof. STELLA Gus! GUS I hate this place. EXT. LANDSLIDE AREA - TWILIGHT A pickup camper following Gus's motor home gets pounded by water from the geyser. The right side of the road sinks and takes the camper with it. The earth trembles. More of the road breaks up followed by a devouring torrential slide. The procession behind comes to a halt. Gus's motorhome is unharmed and the convoy ahead travels on. INT. GUS'S MOTORHOME - TWILIGHT Gus taps on the empty Coke can in his cup holder. GUS Stella. She dutifully gets him one from the refrigerator. EXT. GRANT VILLAGE - TWILIGHT The helicopter lands on the empty roadway. Tim, the Park Policeman assists the people getting out. TIM (extremely concerned) Where's Robin? FRANK Gotta go back for 'em. TIM Let me go with you. FRANK Why not. You gotta see this. I/E. FRANK'S HELICOPTER/ OVER YELLOWSTONE LAKE - TWILIGHT Seen through the helicopter, every facility in the Grant Village area within 200 feet of the water is destroyed. Lots of debris. The road along West Thumb is washed out in several places. There are submerged cars, abandoned cars. TIM Unbelievable. FRANK Check that out. On the east side of Yellowstone Lake, a small but violent emerging volcano spews ash, steam and rocks. EXT. ROADWAY, HAYDEN VALLEY - TWILIGHT Rex and Robin sit on a car hood, looking toward the fires. ROBIN ... course the pines are full of pitch, so they'll burn, and that area has a lot of small pine and deadfall. But everything else is really green. Of course anything will burn if you take a blow torch to it. The front of the car raises up. That rouses them. Upheaval and rocking continue. A new crevice opens up. While being jostled about, Robin sees the terrifying. She grabs Rex's arm. Fear grips them both. Lava spits out of the older crevice. The new fissure enlarges. EXT. GRASSLAND - TWILIGHT Robin and Rex sprint across the grassland. They run hard. Finally stopping, heaving to catch their breath, they look back in dread. Lava sparks and oozes where the cars and roadway used to be. Robin hears something unnerving and turns to see the terrifying. A HERD OF BUFFALO stampedes toward them. Robin and Rex dive for the protection of a long, low rock. The buffalo thunder closer. EXT. HELICOPTER VIEW, LAVA, HAYDEN VALLEY - TWILIGHT HELICOPTER NOISE. As seen from above, sparking lava oozes over portions of the former road bed. INT. FRANK'S HELICOPTER - SAME The Frank frantically tries for radio response. FRANK ...Do you read me...Unit 3... Unit 3? Robin, Rex... EXT. GRASSLAND - TWILIGHT Pressing himself against the rock, Rex, on top of Robin, shields his head with his arms as the buffalo storm over and around them. Dust, dirt, and clumps of grass fly. They hear the radio but can't maneuver to get it with the situation such as it is. FRANK (V.O.) (on radio) Come in...Robin, Are you there... Unit 3, Come in...Rex...Rex? The last of the herd thunders by. Robin struggles (under Rex) to get up. ROBIN Get off of me. Staggering to her feet, ready to answer the radio, her expression again turns to terror. A BUFFALO BULL freight trains toward her. The radio flies from her hand as Robin hits the deck on top of Rex. Dirt flying, a massive HOOF SMASHES THE RADIO. EXT. LAVA, AERIAL SHOT, HAYDEN VALLEY - NIGHT The only details perceptible are the ribbon of lava and the river below. Darkness and clouds of steam obscure the visibility. INT. FRANK'S HELICOPTER - NIGHT FRANK (coughing into radio) No, not a word. We've got to get out of here. TIM We just can't leave them. FRANK (to both Tim and Radio) . I don't have a mask, The fumes getting to me. Plus it's too dark to see. INT. DISPATCH OFFICE - NIGHT Mike and a wise looking OLDER RANGER are at a dispatch desk. OLDER RANGER (into microphone) Get some sleep, Frank. You'll have National Guard reinforcements tomorrow. Mike and the older ranger are solemn. MIKE Well, if anyone could make it, it would be those two. The older ranger places a hand on Mike's shoulder. OLDER RANGER It's all up to you, guy. INT. FRANK'S HELICOPTER - NIGHT TIM Come on, let me go down there. FRANK No. TIM You should have brought them out first. FRANK They wouldn't hear of that and you know it. TIM I know I can find them. FRANK I'm sorry. I'll be back in the morning. It's all we can do. EXT. GRASSLAND - NIGHT Ash rains down on Rex and Robin as they keep moving on, covering their noses as best they can. ROBIN (coughing) I always figured when I died I'd have my ashes scattered over Yellowstone. I didn't figure it would be visa versa. INT. YELLOWSTONE VOLCANO OBSERVATORY, UTAH - NIGHT The scientists and students watch an aerial video, taken late day over Yellowstone, showing the destructions of facilities, the fracturing, the venting, the lava, etcetera. HUFF (into wireless headset) ...yeah Rob, we're watching it now. (pause to listen) No, haven't come to it yet. Wait, there it is. The screen shows the small developing steaming volcano on the east side of Yellowstone Lake. HUFF (into wireless headset) Steam blast. Oh lordy! LATER HUFF (to everyone present) I've just enacted emergency warnings. (beat) We've got a press conference in one hour. I need summaries of everything. And Karen, I need some quick graphic art work. KAREN, a student, nods. EXT. NEAR A LONE PINE TREE - NIGHT Rex and Robin have a small pile of wood and an unlit campfire. The distance glows with the orange. Surrounded by grassland, the campfire location is mostly bare from the years of buffalo trampling. Close by is an easily climbable lone pine tree. Rex searches through his day pack. ROBIN Oh good! No matches. REX I don't see your survival kit, Miss Perfect. He nods his head toward the orange glow of the lava. REX At least we know where to go to get warm. Robin shivers from the cold night air. ROBIN This is the only place on the planet where you can simultaneously bake, boil, fry, roast, blanch, scald and freeze to death. REX Ah ha! One cigarette lighter. No Boy Scout should be without one. The ground shakes. Robin grabs Rex's arm for balance. A LITTLE LATER Rex tends the fire that is still getting going. Poised in a stance of mock authority, Robin looks down at him. ROBIN Hey you. This is a National Park. Don't you know fires are illegal in the backcountry. You could scar the landscape. You could cause a wildfire. You could get fined. You dastardly criminal, you. LATER The two sit on the ground by the fire. He pulls two granola bars from his pack and hands her one. REX Here, its all I've got. He stares pensively into the fire. REX When I was a kid, I'd have given anything for dad to do stuff with me. Like take me camping or fishing or just play catch. But he was always too busy, so he said. Robin uneasily gropes for a stick to throw into the fire. REX No, he wasn't always too busy. He just didn't want to take time for me. Rex unwraps his granola bar, but just stares through it. REX How I envied my best friend, Bobby Jordan. He had the greatest father. Sometimes he'd even take me fishing. I vowed that when I grew up, I'd be that kind of father. So here I am. Two boys that really didn't want to do anything with me. Sports were boring. Fishing was boring. I was boring. Yellowstone was boring. ROBIN I don't think they'd have been bored today. REX I guess I should be grateful Lori and the boys aren't here right now. INT. BAR - NIGHT George and SYLVIA swirl a lively Western Swing as a COUNTRY BAND plays. Sylvia's dancing dress is Western style, but very skimpy. She's a knockout blonde in her early 20's. The bar is crowded with COWBOYS, URBAN COWBOYS, MISCELLANEOUS OTHERS, and A FEW MOUNTAIN MEN. The motif is cowboy. George hugs Sylvia as the song ends. BAND LEADER Don't go away. We'll be back after a short break. Arms around each other, George and Sylvia walk between the pool table and the bar. A Television set above the Bar attracts the attention of several people. The volume is too low to be audible. ONE COWBOY (to the bartender) Hey Dave, turn that up, will ya. DAVE turns the News way up. On the television screen Angela Greyfeather reports outdoors, in the dark night. ANGELA (ON TV) ...An estimated four thousand people remain trapped in the Canyon Village area and above the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The Television is now the center of attraction in the bar. On TV, the attention shifts from Angela to the approaching helicopter lights. ANGELA (V.O. ON TV) (continuing) Evacuation has been slow, but should speed up once National Guard helicopters arrive. The first are expected within the hour... Glen. On TV, the Anchorman at his news desk talks to a screen with Angela on it. ANCHORMAN (ON TV) Will road crews be able to get any of the people out? Angela fills the screen. ANGELA (ON TV) No, they figure it's much too dangerous at this time. Earthquakes have been pounding Yellowstone. To the south of Canyon Village, the road is not only broken up in numerous places, but lava has been breaking through the surface. The crowd around the set squeezes tighter. George and Sylvia are in the core. All are transfixed on the news. ANGELA (ON TV) To the north, there are both landslides on top the road, and roadways that just slid away. And to the west there are now boiling pools of water over the roads. On TV, the Anchorman speaks from his desk. ANCHORMAN (ON TV) The confirmed death toll in Yellowstone now stands at twenty three. The number of people reported missing continues to rise. Behind the Anchorman are photos of Rex and Robin. ANCHORMAN (ON TV) Among the missing and feared dead are Park Superintendent, Rex Montgomery, and Head Naturalist, Robin Taylor. George is stunned. He lets go of Sylvia and looks for a way to leave. GEORGE Stay here. INT. DISPATCH OFFICE - NIGHT The older ranger rapidly shoves files into a cardboard box. A YOUNGER RANGER (21) carries a computer toward the open door. The PHONE RINGS. The two rangers exchange surprised glances. YOUNGER RANGER Phone's working? The older ranger answers it. OLDER RANGER Dispatch... George, where are you?... Still in Jackson? ... No, there's no way you can get through the park. But there's a command post in West Yellowstone. You can get around through Idaho. They need you, buddy. Everyone's been working extended shifts... Oh yeah, I would leave tonight... The younger ranger, still holding the computer, eyes the older one curiously. OLDER RANGER (into phone, continuing) We're the last ones here in Mammoth and we're out the door as we speak. The older ranger has a mischievous smile. OLDER RANGER (into phone, continuing) We're making temporary headquarters in Gardiner. INT. BAR - NIGHT George hangs up and leans against the wall. INT. DISPATCH OFFICE - NIGHT The younger ranger still holds the computer. YOUNGER RANGER What'd you tell him to come up for. OLDER RANGER Hey, you're working. I'm working. If I really liked the guy I'd of told him to stay there. INT. BAR - NIGHT The television, without volume, has a late night talk show that nobody is watching. The band plays. On the dance floor a few people two-step but the majority of the patrons have left. Sylvia, at the bar, chats with Dave. DAVE Sure. April in the Baja is premo. You want to go next year, I'll give you all kinds of tips. Tip number one, if a kid wants fifty cents to keep an eye on your car... George comes over. DAVE (cont'd) Give him the fifty cents. GEORGE Coffee to go, Dave. Large. He gives Sylvia a big squeeze. Gotta go, Love. SYLVIA Tonight? GEORGE Duty calls. I'll take you home. No one notices as warnings scroll across the bottom of the screen and the video switches to the newsroom. Superimposed scrolling on TV: ... "Emergency Evacuation ordered for the following counties: In Montana:" ... EXT. TETON PASS - NIGHT The snow remains deep at the high altitude. The road is bare and dry. A sign warns, "AVALANCHE AREA, NO STOPPING." George's pickup powers up the mountain. INT. GEORGE'S PICKUP - NIGHT George grabs the coffee cup. EXT. NEAR A LONE PINE TREE - NIGHT Rex and Robin lay close to the fire for warmth. REX So you think it's going to blow? ROBIN (smiling) Like an egg in a microwave. REX One of my boys actually did that. Blew the microwave door open. Heck of a mess. ROBIN Heh. Everything I read said the dome building phase would happen slowly over a long period of time. I don't think we had that, so maybe it won't be the big one. (beat) All the talk has been about the super volcanos that have happened every six hundred thousand years. But since that last colossal one, Yellowstone has had at least thirty volcanos. Nobody talks about that. Some of those were huge, like five times more powerful than Mount Saint Helens. That's as big as any in recorded history. The last one was seventy thousand years ago. That kind of thing is more likely to happen. (beat) And it would kill us just as dead. REX Your kidding. I've yet to see a volcano here - well except what's happening right now. ROBIN They blew themselves apart, collapsed, filled in with welded ash and lava. West Thumb is one of those calderas. INT. CONFERENCE ROOM, UTAH - NIGHT Huff speaks at the podium to MEMBERS OF THE PRESS crammed into a conference. Scientists #1 and #2 are in the background. HUFF .... Although we monitor every which way we can think of, we can not predict the scale of the next eruption. However, we do predict a significant and violent, explosive volcanic eruption within twenty four hours. The lights dim. The screen shows the VIDEO of the steam blast on the east side of Yellowstone Lake. HUFF You are looking at a lit fuse. This video was taken just after sunset today. This is called a phreatic eruption or steam blast. Real time satellite imagery show it is now five times as large. Simple ANIMATION illustrates his talk. HUFF A fracture occurred below Yellowstone Lake, allowing water to come in contact with hot rock and instantly flash to steam. As water expands into steam it forces the crack to get larger and create new channels, allowing more water, more steam blasting, causing a chain reaction that quickly leads to a horrific conclusion. (beat) Double jeopardy, the surrounding hot rocks are porous and are full of compressed steam. When the pressure is released the rock explodes, releasing more pressure, more explosions. (beat) Triple jeopardy. The molten rock in the magma reservoir below is also full of gas under tremendous pressure. Suddenly releasing the pressure above is like uncorking a shaken up champaign bottle. This thing could blow at any moment. (beat) Quadruple jeopardy ... EXT. NEAR A LONE PINE TREE - NIGHT Rex and Robin separately huddle by the fire. ROBIN It's impossible to sleep. Wish we had found more wood. REX How come you never got married? Robin shifts uncomfortably. ROBIN I don't know. I guess a career's always been more important to me. I'm married to the Park Service. You know this game. You can get transferred anywhere. He'd have to quit his job to follow me around. What man would want that? There's no way I could be just a housewife or a store clerk or something. REX What about relationships? ROBIN Oh, I've had a few, very few. But they lasted for quite a while. Once they start pushing for a commitment, I get scared. I can't picture myself being married to any one of them. I like men better as buddies than as lovers. I like my freedom. REX Don't you ever get lonely? ROBIN No. Well, if I go somewhere where everyone is with someone, yeah then. REX I get so lonesome it hurts inside. But the last couple years was painful, all the put downs. I'd be afraid of all that happening again. But I can't take the loneliness. WOLVES HOWL REX Who can you meet around here anyway? The locals are either isolationists or ranch widows looking to marry a ranch hand. I really don't think I know how to date anyway. ROBIN You must have dated your wife. REX I never thought of it as dating. We just did things together. After awhile I couldn't picture myself doing anything without her. They both stare into the fire. The earth violently shakes. They grab on to each other looking around helplessly. ROBIN (yelling up at God) Knock it off. Rex pulls her closer. REX Uhm. It's warmer this way. I/E. FRANK'S HELICOPTER - EARLY MORNING Frank and his WIFE scan landscape. She spots something significant. FRANK'S WIFE Down there! FRANK Yo! EXT. BRIDGE BY LEWIS FALLS, HELICOPTER SHOT- EARLY MORNING HELICOPTER SHOT: a large passenger van with a canoe trailer and six canoes is parked on the road. The bridge is out from earthquake damage. The Boy Scouts signal. Some use mirrors, others wildly wave things like yellow raincoats. Two boys send smoke signals from the campfire burning on the road. There is also a big "X" made from large sticks. EXT. BRIDGE BY LEWIS FALLS - EARLY MORNING HELICOPTER NOISE. Some scouts jump up and down, others wave arms or raincoats exuberantly. The land beneath the rig buckles and breaks apart. Pavement cracking, the troop flees up the road. EXT. NEAR THE LONE PINE TREE - EARLY MORNING Robin kind of marches in place, vigorously rubbing her upper arms as she tries to get warm. ROBIN Too bad we let the fire die. Rex drops what little wood he was able to collect. Standing behind her, he maneuvers his hands as if he's about to rub her arms. Catching himself, he brings his hands back to his sides. REX They should be looking for us pretty soon. Eyeing a buffalo chip, he picks it up and smiles. REX You know, I always wanted to try burning buffalo dung. ROBIN Trust me, the stuff stinks. I don't know how the pioneers could stand it. GRIZZLY BEAR'S POV: About 150 feet away, Rex and Robin are watched from behind. The sounds are the HEAVY BREATHING and LOW SNORTS of a bear. Robin quits marching and stretches her arms upward, eyes closed. Arms still up, she pops open her eyes and cocks her head, suddenly apprehensive. Slowly lowering her arms she looks behind her. A grizzly bear stands on his hind legs, sniffing the air. Robin stares back, wide-eyed, muscles tense. But she remains relatively composed. Quietly, she warns Rex. ROBIN Rex. Grizzly! Rex and Robin slowly back toward the tree. Bear's POV: The bear drops down to all fours and charges the terrified duo. Rex drops to the ground in a fetal position, arms covering his neck. Robin dashes for the tree. The bear is on Rex, GROWLING ferociously. Robin scrambles to a safe limb. The bear straddles Rex. Robin helplessly looks on in horror. ROBIN No! No! No! Oh Rex! A National Guard helicopter flies overhead.