SCRIPT – Distant Horizon Act 1

Always wanted to do a post apocalyptic story, and here it is.

Distant Horizon is the bleak little story of Louis Wade and his friend Jack Cox. The two live a meager existence in Los Angeles which is soon shattered when Louis gets a phone call informing him a nuclear war will start in less than six hours. The two escape the city before it is destroyed, and team up with another band of survivors in hopes of finding the source of a mysterious radio signal emanating from the mountains of Idaho.

As they press on their journey and their hopes dwindle, the once free spirited Louis becomes increasingly obsessed and unhinged. The other survivors wonder if they need to fear the fallout, or Louis himself.

If you’re interested in reading the full script, send me a password request at hansonerict@gmail.com.

DISTANT HORIZON

By Eric Hanson and Marc Cubelli

Story by Eric Hanson

FADE IN:

INT. GROVERY STORE – DUSK

In a strangely desolate store, the aisles sit in complete silence, undisturbed, with stacks of food piled high.

EGG YOLK drips down to the floor from the back pockets of a MORBIDLY OBESE MAN being lead out of the store in the handcuffs of TWO OFFICERS.

They pass by LOUIS WADE, 21, all-American handsome. He follows the officers to the front door and watches from the window as they place the man in the backseat of their cruiser.

Louis shakes his head and smirks, then turns from the window to resume working.

LATER

Louis closes down the aisle in the now empty store. He still appears happily content as he sweeps dust off the floor. He makes it over to a CASHIER DESK where he sees HAILEY, 18, a young girl with a look of naive innocence. She holds a half full carton of milk.

HAILEY

Louis, I have one last return.

LOUIS

Pitch it.

HAILEY

What?

LOUIS

Would you buy a half full carton of milk that someone has already drank out of?

HAILEY

No.

LOUIS

Than mark it down and pitch it.

HAILEY

Seems like a waste of food.

LOUIS

Just pour it on the plants outside.

Louis takes off his apron and punches out using the store computer.

LOUIS

I’ll see you Wednesday.

Louis leaves the store.

EXT. GROCERY STORE – NIGHT

Louis exits the store and enters a street corner in LOS ANGELES in the midst of rush hour. Louis unlocks his BICYCLE from a pole and rides away.

EXT. ARCADE – NIGHT

Louis rides up to an ARCADE. He chains his bike to a nearby telephone pole. The festival inside has reached a fever pitch – a fun, lively place.

Nearby at the arcade is JACK COX, early 20s, as handsome as Louis but with a more intense edge.  He’s a fun loving guy with a grin on his face that expresses contentment.

JACK

Louie, took you a while to get here.

LOUIS

What can I say, Jack? It was busy. By the way, I thought I told you not to call me ‘Louie.’

JACK

You did, but I don’t care.

LOUIS

Your middle initial is ‘L,’ isn’t it?

JACK

Yes.

LOUIS

Does the ‘L’ stand for ‘Loves?’

JACK

(points to self)

Might as well, because this guy gets all the love.

LOUIS

So your full name is ‘Jack Loves Cox?’

Beat.

JACK

Asshole. How long have you been planning that?

LOUIS

Since the eighth grade. So how about we stick to a different name besides ‘Louie?’

JACK

You win.

INT. ARCADE – NIGHT – LATER

Jack and Louis face off against each other in a military arcade game where the two shoot digital soldiers on a screen.

Louis is doing much better than Jack, and quickly wins the game.

Louis puts both of his fingers to his lips and blows on them as if they were a pair of pistols.

LOUIS

Still the fastest hands in the digital military west.

JACK

You better wipe that smirk off your face. We’re still on the best three out of five rule.

LOUIS

I thought we were doing best two out of three?

JACK

Yeah, well, you won the first two so I’m changing it.

Jack puts in a few more quarters, as does Louis, and the two go at it again.  Slowly, Jack begins to gain the upper hand.

JACK

Ha-ha! Yeah!

LOUIS

It’s a miracle.

Towards the end of the level they reach a scene where several friendly NPCs are running away from a tanker truck. Several villains are near the truck. Jack takes one look at the NPCs and hesitates.

Louis shoots without hesitation. Louis’s shots hit the tanker trunk, causing the truck to explode, which kills everyone on the screen.  A few more shots and he wins the game.

LOUIS

Why didn’t you shoot the tanker? You would have won.

JACK

Did you see all those women and kids there?

LOUIS

Jack, they are just NPCs. Come on, buddy. You have to get more cut throat. Survival. That’s why we are all here, isn’t it?

Louis grabs the controls for the console.

LOUIS

You wanna go for best five out of seven?

JACK

Nah, I have laundry tomorrow. I need to save my quarters.

Jack turns and walks away.

LOUIS

I thought your building was switching to the card machines.

Louis heads out after Jack.

INT. BLUE ROOM – NIGHT

Louis and Jack sit at the bar as they drink bottled beer.

LOUIS

(laughing)

So this guy realizes he can’t sneak out with the carton, so he stuffs them down his pockets. By the time he got to the checkout lane, his fat ass had cracked every last one. He was smearing yolk and white all over the floor. Fucking embarrassing. He was almost in tears when the cops came.

Louis takes a swig of his beer.

JACK

You better be careful with those.

LOUIS

There is no law against drunk bike riding.

Louis takes another swig from the bottle.

JACK

Why are you so damn happy all the time? You just light up a room whenever you walk in.

Louis shrugs.

LOUIS

Nah, just really looking forward to the trip down to Biloxi.  Visitng my folks at Keesler. Been a while since I had a good Mardi Gras.

JACK

Weren’t you six years old when you were living there?

LOUIS

Yep.

JACK

So how could you go to Mardi Gras with all those tits hanging out?

LOUIS

They have a place for families that’s tits free. Not that I would have noticed any anyway. I was too busy enjoying the free food and catching toys from the floats.

JACK

Toys?

LOUIS

Yo-yos. Frisbees. Footballs. Basketballs.

JACK

Dildos?

LOUIS

You would go there, wouldn’t you Jack Loves Cox?

Jack shoves a cup of pretzels in Louis’ face when Louis’ phone rings. The caller ID reads DAD.

LOUIS

Hold on, I need to take this.

EXT. BLUE ROOM – NIGHT

Louis exits the bar with a slightly drunken stumble and answers the phone.

LOUIS

Hey dad.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Hey buddy. How was your day?

LOUIS

Relaxing. How about you?

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Fine, just…wanted to call to see if you were okay.

Louis notices the strange pause.

LOUIS

Are you and mom okay?

A long pause of almost five seconds.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Will you be ready to leave the city if you needed to?

Another pause. Louis appears uncomfortable.

LOUIS

Dad, wha’s going on?

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Will you be ready?

LOUIS

Yeah, I guess.

Another pause.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

I love you.

LOUIS

I love you too, Dad.

Louis’ Father hangs up. Louis stands outside in the parking lot, looking a lot more alert and sober than he had moments before.

EXT. OUTSIDE LOUIS’ APARTMENT – NIGHT

Jack’s car pulls up in front of Louis’ apartment.

Louis gets out, closes the door, opens the backseat door, and reaches for his bike.

INT. LOUIS’ APARTMENT – NIGHT

Louis and Jack enter LOUIS’ APARTMENT, orderly but at the same time a very lively environment.

LOUIS

Your seats are okay, right?

JACK

Don’t worry about the car. A lot worse things have happened in the back.

LOUIS

I can imagine.  You wanna see something really cool?

Louis beckons Jack over to his closet.  Louis opens it up and pulls out a large LOCK BOX. He opens the lock box to reveal an old HAM RADIO.

JACK

Damn. How old is that thing?

LOUIS

This baby’s from the nineteen sixties. Grandpa gave it to dad and he passed it on to me.

JACK

Do people still use these?

LOUIS

Just as a hobby. Was able to reach someone in Florida once.

Louis takes the radio out of the box, revealing a .45 AUTOMATIC PISTOL with several MAGAZINES nearby.

JACK

Holy shit.

LOUIS

Nah, don’t worry about it. Grandpa’s service pistol from the war. He gave it to my dad, but my dad wouldn’t give it to me until I could prove I wouldn’t shoot my eye out with it.

JACK

Your dad’s in the army?

LOUIS

Yeah, he’s a general.

JACK

Does he make you salute him when you see him?

LOUIS

Nah, he’s cool with that.

Louis carries the HAM over to his NIGHTSTAND and sets it down by the window next to an AMATEUR RADIO. Jack looks outside to see the relaxing backdrop of BURBANK.

JACK

How were you able to get a nice place like this?

LOUIS

When you’re a military brat, you learn a few things.

Louis hooks up the radio to a CAR BATTERY he has hidden in one of his desk drawers. It comes to life.

LOUIS

You wanna chat with someone?

Jack shakes his head.

JACK

Not tonight.  Gotta cram for that test day on Monday.

Jack heads for the door.

LOUIS

We’re still on for the game Saturday, right?

JACK

Of course.

Jack leaves.

LOUIS

See you man.

JACK

Later.

Louis switches on his nightlight to reveal pictures of him with his MOTHER and FATHER. They depict a very happy family, going on fishing trips, camping, many Christmases, many birthdays, and many smiles.

One photo shows a 12 year old LOUIS next to his FATHER and GRANDFATHER, sitting over the HAM RADIO.

Louis takes an old CASSETTE TAPE RECORDER out of his desk and turns it on. HEATWAVE by MARTHA AND THE VENDELLAS plays.

Louis goes back over to the radio, picks up the receiver and starts to talk into it.

LOUIS

Hello? Anyone out there tonight?  This Louis Wade from Burbank.  Hello?

On the other end of the radio, something appears to answer. A kind of Morse code like signal.

VOICE (o.s.)

Yeah, this is Rocky Mountains, Idaho.  It’s eleven o’clock and I’m trying to sleep.

The sound of static – the conversation is over.

Louis, somewhat embarrassed, writes down a node on a notepad.

LATER

Louis sleeps peacefully in his bed when on his nightstand  his phone rings.  Louis reaches over and answers his cell phone.

LOUIS

Hello?

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Louis?

LOUIS

Hey, dad.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

You need to get out of Los Angeles right now.

LOUIS

Dad, what’s going on?

Louis’ father starts to choke up over the phone.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

It’s starting.

Louis pauses, confused and somewhat disturbed by this cryptic comment.

LOUIS

What’s starting?

LOUIS’ FATHER

The final countdown.

LOUIS

What final countdown?

LOUIS’ FATHER

North Korea just launched a missile at Japan. Tokyo is gone. We are locked in for retaliation at noon tomorrow…it’s happening.

Louis is an almost catatonic state of shock.

LOUIS

Where are you and mom?

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

You need to get out of the city and head north right now.

LOUIS

Dad, where are you and mom!?

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Washington.

A pause.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Is your computer on?

Louis barely holds back tears as he speaks.

LOUIS

Yes.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Listen. I only have a few minutes. I am going to email you a map, do you understand?

LOUIS

Yes.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

It’s a fallout map. It’ll show you the areas you need to avoid. It should be in your inbox now. Is it there?

Louis opens up his email and finds a message from his dad. FALLOUT MAP.

LOUIS

Yes.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

I want you to print multiple copies of that map.

LATER

Louis, still on the line with his father, . watches as the printer churns out 50 copies.

LOUIS

What now?

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

You’ll be safe in northern California up past San Francisco, Idaho, and Organ. You need to get there as soon as possible.

LOUIS

What about you?

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Get there now.

The phone goes dead.

LOUIS

Dad? Dad!

The printer completes its cycle, having dumped the fallout maps all over the floor.

LATER

Louis stuffs his grandfather’s gun and ammunition into a duffel bag.

Louis is about to leave when he looks back to his radio. It is still picking up the signal from Idaho.

Louis goes over, grabs the radio, and stuffs it into the bag.  Louis turns and exits from the apartment.

EXT. LOUIS’ BUILDING – NIGHT

Louis rushes out to his bike, unlocks it, and rides away.

The same look of catatonic fear is on Louis’ face as he rides his bike.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. SANTA MONICA BEACH APARTMENTS – NIGHT

Louis rides up to the apartment and dismounts from the bike quickly, almost falling over.

Louis runs over to the apartment entrance and tries to open the door, but it’s locked.

Louis pulls out his cell phone and dials up Jack. No answer.

LOUIS

Pick up the fucking phone.

The phone goes to voicemail. Louis looks around and finds Jack’s car still in the parking lot.

Louis dials again, but still no answer.

Louis runs around the apartment to

EXT. BEACHFRONT SIDE OF APARTMENT – NIGHT

Louis looks up to a second floor window where Jack’s apartment is.

LOUIS

(yells up)

Jack!…Jack!

No answer. Louis picks up a nearby rock the size of his fist and hurls it with all his might. It slams into the sliding glass door of Jack’s apartment and cracks it.

Jack finally appears at the door, looks over the damage, and opens it.

JACK

What the fuck are you doing!? It’s three in the morning.

LOUIS

We need to get out of here now.

JACK

What the hell for?

Louis starts to tear up.

INT. JACK’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

Jack lets Louis into his apartment. Louis bursts into Jack’s

living room

Where a TV is still playing.

LOUIS

You get international on this?

JACK

Why?

LOUIS

Take me to a Tokyo station.

Jack turns to a Tokyo native station. There is no signal.

JACK

That’s weird.

LOUIS

Change to another one.

Jack complies.  Still no signal.

JACK

It’s peak traffic right now. The only way this could happen is if–

LOUIS

–its not there anymore.

Louis goes over to Jack’s computer and looks up CURRENT SATELLITE FEED. He finds an image of the area over Japan, where a massive plume of smoke is drifting out over the Pacific ocean from Tokyo.

JACK

What could take out an entire grid?

Louis points to the computer screen.

LOUIS

That.

Jack goes over to the computer just as Louis moves out of the way.

JACK

What the fuck is that?

LOUIS

A missile.

Jack looks back over at Louis, incredulous.

JACK

What?

LOUIS

It’s happening.

JACK

What’s happening?

LOUIS

We’re locked in for retaliation tomorrow.  We need to get every canned good we can carry. Batteries. Bags to drag it all in. Whatever you can grab.

LATER

Jack and Louis frantically stuff more canned goods into another duffel back.

JACK

Where are we gonna go?

LOUIS

Oregon or Idaho. The fallout won’t reach there. But we need to get past San Francisco before noon. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco are primary targets. If we are close to any one of them when the missiles hit-

Jack suddenly explodes, grabs Louis, and pushes him up against a wall.

JACK

Stop fucking around.  What is this?

Louis does not respond and starts to tear up again.  Jack nods, getting his answer.

EXT. SANTA MONICA BEACH APARTMENTS – NIGHT

Louis and Jack throw the two large duffel bags into the trunk and slam the door shut.

Louis and Jack hop in the car, with Jack in the driver’s seat.

INT. JACK’S CAR – NIGHT

JACK

Where now?

LOUIS

The store.

JACK

Why the store?

LOUIS

(exploding)

JUST GO!

Jack looks over Louis taken aback, then slowly turns and starts up the engine to the car.

EXT. PARKING LOT – NIGHT

Jack’s car peels out of the parking lot.

EXT. GROCERY STORE – NIGHT

Jack’s car pulls up to the grocery store.

INT. JACK’S CAR – NIGHT

Louis turns to Jack.

LOUIS

I need you to stay here and keep the car running.

JACK

Okay.

EXT. GROCERY STORE – NIGHT

Louis leaves the car. He opens the trunk, picks up a tire iron, and runs over to the front door of the store. He hits the door three times before it shatters. Louis rushes inside.

INT. GROCERY STORE – NIGHT

Louis runs down the aisles with a shopping cart, piling on canned goods, dried goods, matches, batteries, lighters, lighter fluid, several packs of solenoids for the car, several emergancy bags with medical supplies, and tools.

INT. JACK’S CAR – NIGHT

Jack sits in his car in a dazed, almost catatonic state.

EXT. GROCERY STORE – NIGHT

Louis reaches cleaning supplies and picks up several jugs of BLEACH and AMMONIA. He also picks up several PESTICIDE and PLANT FOOD DISPENSERS.

EXT. GROVERY STORE – NIGHT

Louis barrels out of the store with the cart stacked so full, it is overflowing.

Louis goes over to the car with the trunk door still ajar and dumps the grocery store cart into the trunk.  Some items fall on the ground, and Louis quickly gathers them and throws them in the trunk.

Louis slams the trunk shut just as a POLICE SIREN sounds.

INT. JACK’S CAR – NIGHT

Louis hops in the car next to Jack.

LOUIS

Go! Go!

EXT. GROCERY STORE – NIGHT

The car tears out of the parking lot down the streets of Los Angeles.

INT. JACK’S CAR – NIGHT

Jack drives the car still in a dazed, catatonic state. Louis checks his watch – its 6am.

LOUIS

Dad wouldn’t have told me if he wasn’t sure.

JACK

What if he made a mistake?

LOUIS

(shaking head)

Do you think Tokyo knew it was coming?

JACK

I wish I didn’t know.

LOUIS

Don’t say that. We’re gonna survive.

JACK

For what?

Louis has no answer.

The two continue driving.

EXT. HIGHWAY – DAY

Jack’s car barrels down the highway at an extremely fast speed.

INT. JACK’S CAR – DAY

Louis and Jack continue to ride in uncomfortable silence.

Louis’ cell phone rings.  The caller ID reads HAILEY.

LOUIS

Oh fuck.

JACK

What?

LOUIS

I forgot to tell her.

JACK

Who?

LOUIS

Hailey from the store.

Louis looks at the time on his phone..

JACK

Why is she calling you?

LOUIS

By now they’ve looked at the security monitor.

Jacks nods, understand.

The phone continues to ring.

JACK

Are you gonna answer that.

Louis looks ahead, not answering, giving Jack his answer.

Louis reaches over, turns on the radio, and channel surfs for a few seconds before stopping on one station.

RADIO ANNOUNCER (O.S)

-continue to rage out of control in the parks surrounding Los Angeles. In further updates on the destruction of Tokyo, world leaders have condemned the first strike as an act of genocide by the North Korean government. The supreme leader of the country continued to defend his actions as sound military strategy, comparing them to the pre-emptive strikes that were in place during the cold war. He further threatened retaliation for any military action taken against his country.

Louis shakes his head.

LOUIS

I should have called everyone.

The radio announcer suddenly becomes panicked.

RADIO ANNOUNCER (o.s)

We have just received word that a nuclear explosion was detected in the city of Beijing. Is this accurate. Is everyone sure this is accurate?

A rustling sound occurs on the radio.

RADIO ANNOUNCER (O.S)

Our satellite feed reports several intercontinental ballistic missiles have just left North Korea. Oh Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on? Is this a test? This has to be a test, right?

Louis’ phone rings again. It is his dad. Louis answers.

LOUIS

Dad?

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Are you out of the city yet?

LOUIS

About eighty miles out. Heading to San Francisco.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Okay, listen to me. In a few minutes you are going to hear a screeching sound on the phone. That is going to be the sound of my phone melting from the fireball. Do you understand?

Tears stream down Louis’ face.

LOUIS

Yes.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

I am going to stay on the phone as long as I can. Los Angeles is going to be hit very shortly, but so is San Francisco. I need you to stop the car right now.

Louis turns to Jack.

LOUIS

Stop the car.

JACK

Why?

LOUIS

STOP THE FUCKING CAR!

EXT. HIGHWAY – DAY

The car pulls over to the side of the road.

INT. JACK’S CAR – DAY

Jack turns off the engine of the car.

LOUIS

Okay, we’ve stopped the car.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

You can’t go through San Francisco or around it by land. The wind will blow the fallout inland. If you want to get around it quickly, you’ll have to go by water.

LOUIS

Okay.

A pause.

LOUIS’ FATHER

(choking up)

Do you want to talk to mom?

Louis thinks for a bit.

LOUIS

Yes.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Okay. Just a moment.  I love you, Louis.

LOUIS

I love you too, dad.

Beat. Another voice comes from the phone, a woman – LOUIS’ MOTHER.

LOUIS’ MOTHER (o.s)

Baby?

LOUIS

Yes, mom.

LOUIS’ MOTHER (O.S)

Are you out of the city?

LOUIS

Almost a hundred miles away.

LOUIS’ MOTHER (O.S)

Are you safe?

LOUIS

Yes.

RADIO ANNOUNCER (O.S)

We just got work that a nuclear device has been detonated in New York. Ladies and gentlemen, you need to seek shelter immediately. This is real. We have just received word that a nuclear device has been detonated in New York City!

Louis turns down the radio.

LOUIS’ MOTHER (O.S)

Where are you going?

LOUIS

Idaho and Oregon. There wont be any fallout there. We’ll be safe.

The sound of Louis’ mother breaking down over the phone can be heard.

LOUIS’ MOTHER (O.S)

I love you, Louis.

LOUIS

I love you too, Mom.

Chaos erupts on the other end of the phone.

LOUIS’ FATHER (O.S)

Oh my god!

LOUIS

Mom, what’s going on?

The line goes dead and a loud ear piercing screech comes out of the phone.

RADIO ANNOUNCER (O.S)

Oh god. Oh my god. We just got word that a device was detonated in Washington. Washington is gone. It’s gone. Chicago has been hit. Dayton. Kansas City. Austin. St Louis. Now they-

The radio goes dead. The entire sky flashes and lights up. The car goes dead. Jack covers his eyes.

JACK

What was that?

Louis gets out of the car, and Jack follows after him.

EXT. SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY – DAY

Louis and Jack get out of the car while several flashes of nuclear explosions appear behind them, far inland.

Several flashes appear inland, off in the distance. Jack starts to break down sobbing.

Louis rushes up and grabs Jack, just as a massive explosion appears from the direction of Los Angeles.

Louis pulls Jack to the ground.

LOUIS

Don’t look at it.  Don’t look.

Louis holds Jack in his arms as he continues to sob.

The windows on Jack’s car shatter as the earth rumbles and quivers at the sheer force of the bomb.

Another bomb hits. This one in front of them in the direction of San Francisco.

Louis and Jack shield themselves from the light. They wait for a moment before the two stand up and look back towards Los Angeles.

Two mushroom clouds in opposite directions pierce the sky.

LATER

Louis works under the hood of the car, switching out the solenoid.

INT. JACK’S CAR – DAY

Jack starts the engine.

Louis gets into the car, and the two drive off.

Copyright-Watermark

Distant Horizon and all related content including characters and artwork are registered trademarks to Eric Hanson. Any unauthorized reproduction and distribution of written or related materials including concept art and illustrations depicted herein is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.