EXT. COUNTRY ROAD - DAWN
A hesitant CHIRP breaks the stillness of the early-morning air.
A second bird chirps more confidently, signaling to the rest of the wildlife in the area that it’s time to wake up.
The beep of a tape recorder and then a deep breath signals
the start of SIMON’s confessional. *
SIMON (V.O.) * (slightly out of breath)
My name is Simon Itani. I’m 39 * years old, and so is my wife,
Carla. We met at Boston University * and had our twins, Hunter and Izzy, * when we were young. Too young, to
be honest. They’d just turned 18 when it happened. It was the start of their senior year. Everything was ahead of them.
The low hum of a pickup truck’s engine and the grinding crackle of moving tires crunch against a gravel road.
SIMON (V.O.) * We lived in a small, ugly town
tucked into a big, beautiful swath of northern New Hampshire, not too far from the border with Quebec. It’s where Carla grew up. You’ve never heard of the place. It’s called “BER-lin.” And yeah, I’m pronouncing it right.
EXT. MADELINE’S GENERAL STORE - CONTINUOUS
The truck takes a hard turn and then continues along the gravel road.
SIMON (V.O.) * Carla’s extended family goes back
four generations in Berlin. Most of the men used to work at the old paper mill, but the smart ones left years ago.
SIMON (V.O.) (CONT'D)
Now, the lucky ones are functional alcoholics, drinking bathtub gin to pass the pitch-black nights. The unlucky ones are addicted to Oxy, screwing over their families’ chances of survival to get their fix. And the truly fucked are the ones who waited too long to act, like me, naive in the hope that it would all somehow work out in the end.
The truck turns into a parking lot.
Before it happened, Carla taught
Russian literature at Co-Os County Community College.
The truck comes to a stop, and the engine dies.
As for me, I was--and still am--an
aspiring author. Emphasis on the “aspiring” part. My “real job,” was as a DJ at 87.6, The Moose--that’s the North Country’s only independent rock.
He clears his throat.
So why do this? Why would I want to
relive the painful events of the last three months by telling you what happened? Simple. Because I want the world to know the truth.
Thedriver’ssidedooropens,asSIMONITANIstepsoutofthe * truck and approaches the general store, each footstep heavy
SIMON (V.O.) * It all started on the last morning
of September. But I guess I don’t need to tell you that, now that I assume 9/30 is forever engrained in the American psyche, like 9/11 once was. I was up early, and the sun had just begun to peak out over Jericho Mountain, illuminating the kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and yellows. Hey, I told you I’m a writer.
Simon steps onto the porch and breathes in the cool morning * air, pausing to absorb it.
SIMON (V.O.) * It was peak foliage. You know, the
time of year that made northern New Hampshire before the Blackout almost worth the price of having to live there in winter.
He pushes open the creaky, wooden door leading into the general store. It slams shut behind him as he enters.
SIMON (V.O.) * On my way to work, I stopped in for
a cup of shitty, lukewarm coffee at Madeline’s General Store. That’s when it all began.
INT. MADELINE’S GENERAL STORE - CONTINUOUS
MorningtalkradiohumsinthebackgroundasSimonapproaches * the counter. He’s the only customer inside the place.
He grabs a Styrofoam cup and goes to work at the self-serve coffee station.
MADELINE BOUCHARD (67), the store’s gruff owner, manager, and cashier, acknowledges him brightly as she lays out the day’s pastries.
(thick New England accent)
Morning, Simon. *
SIMON * Morning, Madeline.
Simon rips open two packets of sugar one by one. *
I’m trying out the dark roast this
week. Let me know how ya like it, hon.
SIMON * Are the beans fair trade?
MADELINE Fair who?
Simon ambles over to the counter. She rings him up on her antique sales register.
MADELINE Dollar, thirty.
You know, they make cash registers
now with computer screens and everything.
This one works just fine. You know,
newer isn’t always better.
Simon fishes some change out of his pocket and places the coins on the counter, one by one.
SIMON Sox win last night?
Who cares? Expos are going all the
way this year.
The Expos moved to D.C. like
fifteen years ago. They’re the Nationals now.
If your son or daughter moved away
and changed their name, would you disown them?
Madeline closes the cash register.
Do I still have to pay their cell
Tell Carla and the twins I said hi. He retreats back toward the door.
SIMON Will do. See ya.
Simon opens the rickety porch door and exits the store.
And after 18 years in the North
Country, you still don’t know when it’s hunting season?
SIMON * I don’t think it sounded like a
EXT. MADELINE’S GENERAL STORE - CONTINUOUS
As he walks back to his truck, Simon blows on his coffee to * cool it down and then takes a careful sip.
Suddenly, a distant gunshot rings out and reverberates around the surrounding mountainside. Simon stops in his tracks. *
POP! Pop, pop, pop!
Several more gunshots. And then there’s a sharp CRACKLE that sounds like sparks flying out of some malfunctioning electronic equipment.
SIMON * (under his breath)
Simon ducks back into the store. *
INT. GENERAL STORE - CONTINUOUS
Simon reenters the store quickly. *
SIMON * You hear that?
SIMON * Gunshots. I think near the cell
phone tower up the hill.
(quick to downplay it)
I know you’re a city boy, but how long have you lived up here now?
Madeline continues to go about her work, laying out pastries.
Well, you’re the expert. Clearly. *
SIMON * I’m gonna check it out.
Simon opens the rickety door again and heads back outside. *
MADELINE (calling after him)
You’re the dumbest smart (smaht)
guy I know, Simon. *
EXT. CELL PHONE TOWER - MINUTES LATER
Simonpullshistruckontothesideofthegravelroad,steps * out, and approaches the cell phone tower on foot, his boots crunching against the leaves on the ground.
SIMON (V.O.) * I’ve gone through it all in my head
so many times since. First, it was
the details I missed, like what the
guy actually looked like. He was
wearing all black. I know that.
Then, and now, when I replay that * morning I can’t help but ask
myself, how the hell didn’t I see it? It was right there in front of my face.
A loud ELECTRONIC BLAST shoots out of the tower’s antenna and then a sizzle and a pop. An UNKNOWN MAN emerges from behind
some shrubs and stops in his tracks when he sees Simon. *
SIMON * Who’s there?
Instead of answering, the unknown man suddenly takes off in a sprint.
SIMON (CONT’D) *
Simon begins to jog after the unknown man. * He only makes it a couple of steps. And then--
The gunshot rings out abruptly.
Simon emits a deep, guttural MOAN. He’s been hit.
He fumbles with his keys and dashes back toward his truck. CRACK!
INT. SIMON’S TRUCK - CONTINUOUS *
Simon manages to open the driver’s side door and throw * himself into the seat. *
SIMON * Ugh, fuck my shoulder! *
He slams the door shut and turns the key into the ignition. * CRACK!
A window shatters, as the wheels spin and propel the truck forward with a sudden lurch.
Simon’s breathing picks up. As he tries to steady the wheel, * he takes his cell phone out of his pocket and dials 9-1-1.
Instead of being greeted on the other line by the voice of an emergency dispatcher, he’s instead met with the excruciatingly familiar lament of an AUTOMATED OPERATOR.
Your call could not be completed as
dialed. Please hang up and try again.
SIMON * Shit. Shit, shit shit.
Simon grimaces in pain and then dials 9-1-1 again, as he * continues to drive.
Your call could not be completed as
dialed. Please hang up and try again.
Simon slams his fist against the steering wheel in frustration.
Then he LAYS ON THE HORN, honking like a mad man as he swerves all over the road.
Simon rolls down the window.
SIMON Help! I’ve been shot!
INT. KITCHEN - MORNING
The familiar buzz of a family’s morning routine. Eggs crackle on a skillet. A chipper MORNING NEWS HOST runs through the day’s headlines on a small TV that’s kept at a low volume.
MORNING NEWS HOST (earnest)
Troubling news coming out of Gorham this morning, where a local teen was mauled by a black bear after taking part in the maple syrup bath challenge, a dangerous new craze...
IZZY (perceptive and hard to impress) opens a box of cereal and pours the contents into a bowl.
CARLA (39, purposeful with a commanding presence) shoves a couple of books into Izzy’s backpack.
C’mon, we’ve got to get moving.
Where’s Hunter? Izzy fiddles with her phone.
I’m his twin, not his keeper. (ALT:
We’re twins, but we’re not joined at the hip.) (ALT: We’re twins, but we’re not conjoined.)
He’s probably Facetiming Kira.
Izzy fiddles with her phone.
IZZY (CONT’D) This is so annoying.
My phone’s messed up.
CARLA What’s wrong with it?
It says, “no service” and none of
my texts are going through.
Oh my God, no texts?! For an entire morning? Should I call 9-1-1?
Izzy starts to eat her cereal.
HUNTER (a jock who’s smarter than he lets on) comes bounding down the rickety staircase and joins his mom and sister in the kitchen. He’s in a hurry.
Fruity Puffs. Nice. *
He pours himself a bowl.
You gonna need a ride over to
What I need is my own car.
Did they forget to put you through
the concussion protocol again, or did someone in this family win the lottery and not tell me?
HUNTER (ignoring her)
He’s picking me up. We want to get to Montreal before the other prospects.
Good. But, you know, McGill isn’t
the only hockey program.
HUNTER I know.
We just want you to explore your
What do you think I’m doing, Mom?
I’m sorry we can’t all assume we’re getting into Yale.
Leave me out of this.
HONK HONK HONK. Lincoln lays on the horn in the driveway.
Ugh, once would have sufficed.
HUNTER Gotta go.
Can you guys drop your sister off?
Hunter puts his cereal bowl down and gathers his backpack.
HUNTER Sorry, car’s full.
He kisses his mom on the cheek.
HUNTER (CONT’D) See ya Sunday night.
Be careful. Montreal’s a big city,
and Lincoln’s a magnet for trouble. Don’t get drunk, arrested, or a girl pregnant.
HUNTER I’ll do my best.
And call me when you get there.
OK. But my phone’s not working for
some reason. It’s wicked annoying. He exits. The door slams shut behind him.
CARLA (calling after him)
Find a land line! You know what that is?
Carla looks out the window, as Hunter gets in the car.
I can’t believe you let him skip
school for that.
They really should’ve given you a
Have you ever been inside Lincoln’s
car with their sweaty hockey bags? I’d rather take the maple syrup bath challenge.
The car pulls out of the driveway. Izzy continues to eat her cereal, as Carla gets ready for the day.
What do you have after school
Just some canvassing for a couple
of City Council and School Board candidates at the old folks home.
You know, those “old folks” were * part of the generation that
defeated Communism. You think
they’re really gonna want to return * to it?
No, I think they want a dignified
retirement and economic security,
like everyone else. *
When you get older, you’ll realize--
Oh, please, mother. It’s too early
On the TV SCREEN, the Morning News Host cuts off a taped news package in mid-stream.
MORNING NEWS HOST (O.S.) I apologize for cutting off that
report, but we’re getting some breaking news here out of Washington.
The anchor shuffles some papers around, as a producer speaks into her ear.
IZZY Mom, turn it up.
Carla turns up the TV and the volume goes up.
MORNING NEWS HOST (O.S.) We’re learning that this does
appear to be a major situation with national security implications. I’m now being told that the President is moments away from addressing the nation from the White House. So we’ll go right now to Washing--
The TV suddenly shuts off. So do all of the lights and appliances in the kitchen.
(a little scared)
(flipping light switch)
That’s weird. The power’s out. Silence hangs in the air for a long beat.
Suddenly, a car comes speeding toward them and screeches into the driveway.
(looking out the window)
It’s a cop car.
A SIREN BLIPS in their driveway. Car door opens and shuts. *
INT. CAR - DAY *
An UPBEAT EDM SONG plays from the car stereo as Hunter rides shotgun with his friend LINCOLN (18, dirty hockey player, full of bravado) behind the wheel.
You sure there’s cell service at
the camp site?
LINCOLN Settle down, guy.
If I don’t check in, my parents are
gonna call McGill.
Have I ever steered you wrong?
Consistently since the third grade.
Yeah, and don’t you forget it,
asshole! We’re getting laid this weekend!
You brought two tents, right?
Jade and I get the big one. You and
Kira get the little one.
Whatever. As long as I’m not in
Hunter fiddles with his iPhone.
Now GPS isn’t working. This is so * annoying.
Dude, GPS? Look at that sign:
“Jericho Mountain State Park. Next exit.”
You’re right. I don’t even notice
street signs anymore.
See, this is the problem with
technology. It’s rotting our brains.
You sound like my dad.
Lincoln gives him a shove to the shoulder.
I wonder how people got on the
Internet before smartphones (smaht- phones) were invented.
Hunter’s still laughing.
LINCOLN They used desktop
HUNTER Oh my God, you’re
He laughs again. Shut up.
such a fucking meathead, dude. I can’t even tell
if you’re being serious.
Whatever, it’s just gonna be nice
to have a weekend off the grid for once.
Lincoln cranks up the music.
“They used desktop computers.”
* * *
Lincoln punches him in the shoulder this time. The car swerves out of the lane a bit.
Lincoln. Eyes on the road.
They continue on their way, without a care in the world.
INT. HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY
Simon is lying on a gurney, as a DOCTOR (female) treats him. * We hear a HEART MONITOR.
Can you lift your arm for me,
He does as he’s told. The doctor scribbles into her chart. *
SIMON * It hurts, Doc.
Yes, it does tend to smart when a
.30 caliber bullet rips across your * flesh.
SIMON * I’d laugh, but I just got shot.
More like grazed. You’re very * fortunate. After a few days of * rest, your shoulder will be good as * new. *
The lights and electronic equipment in the ER flicker on and off. And then back on again.
SIMON * Uh-oh? Aren’t you on a generator
Yeah, but I can’t remember the last
time we had to use it. (MORE)
Things might get interesting real fast, if they don’t get the power
back on soon.
Any word on what happened? The guy
who shot me was up near the cell tower. Maybe that had something to do with it.
The doctor takes off her latex gloves and throws them away.
I don’t think the power outage is
confined to Berlin.
SIMON * What do you mean?
All I know is the President was
about to come on national TV to
make some big announcement and then
the power went off. *
SIMON * Jesus. *
Suddenly the metal curtain WHIPS BACK-- * Izzy, Carla and a POLICE OFFICER enter. *
IZZY Oh my God. Dad!
SIMON * I’m fine, Izz. I’m fine. *
CARLA Who did this?
SIMON * That’s what I’d love to know.
(beat) * Thanks for bringing them here, * officer. *
POLICE OFFICER * You got it. *
SIMON * So did you find the guy? *
11/13/18 POLICE OFFICER
* * * * *
* * *
I’m sorry, but all of you can’t be
back here. Hospital policy. If you and your daughter could head to the waiting room--?
We’re not going anywhere. My
husband’s been shot.
This is attempted murder.
Hang on there. I hate to be a wet
blanket, but sounds to me like your dad was wandering around the woods during hunting season.
So you’re not going to even look
for the guy?
Of course we are. But we’re spread
a little thin right now. All the traffic lights are out.
So what should we do?
I’d suggest counting your lucky stars and going about your day.
EXT. RADIO STATION - DAY
Simon pulls into the lot and parks his car. He ambles toward * the small one-bedroom apartment/local radio station on foot, wincing as he tries to ignore the pain in his shoulder.
SIMON (V.O.) * The radio station was a couple of
miles north of the hospital, right on the river. I call it a “radio station,” but we’re not talking NPR here.
SIMON (V.O.) (CONT'D) It was more like a barn with the studio on the ground floor and a
little one-bedroom apartment up top.
Simon enters the station.
INT. RADIO STATION - STUDIO - CONTINUOUS Simon walks in.
BILL Hey Simon.
Oh good, station still has power.
Well yeah, I got that natural gas
My only colleague at the station
was Bill Starky. He owned the place and lived there, too. To paraphrase Churchill, Bill’s a modest man with much to be modest about. Perfectly suitable for running a station with a listenership of a couple thousand on a good day. But I’ll say this about Bill: he could really surprise you.
What the Hell happened to your
I got shot. Are we up and running?
Yeah, the “classic rock hour” started a half hour ago. I thought I’d just play Led Zeppelin II all the way through until you got here.
Bill, you know I can never get
enough Zeppelin, but do you think maybe we should address the blackout?
* * *
BILL (trailing off)
That epic Jimmy Page solo is just about to--
BILL OK, OK.
BILL What can we do?
I don’t know, inform people about
what’s going on? Maybe activate the Emergency Alert System?
Only FEMA (sounds like femur) or
the FCC can order that. We haven’t gotten any--
All the phone lines are down.
There’s no news coming in, no information at all.
OK, but it’s really against
C’mon, man, it’s been a crazy
morning. Let’s be useful for once.
OK, OK. Your mic will be hot in
about two minutes, 15 seconds.
Can we cut that in half?
I ... guess. But we’re right in the middle of “Ramble On.”
EXT. CAMP SITE - DAY
Footsteps crackle against the leaves, as four teenagers set up a camp site.
Music plays from a battery-powered portable stereo. Hunter opens a beer can and hands it to Lincoln.
Granite State IPA? When did you get * so fancy? *
HUNTER We’re celebrating.
(then) Head’s up, Kira.
Hunter tosses a beer can to KIRA, and she catches it. *
Thanks, babe. What’re we
A long weekend in the woods
together without the tyranny of
social media to distract us. Right, * Jade? *
JADE approaches the group. *
Sounds more like a nightmare to me.
Hunter cracks open another beer can and hands it to Jade.
No way. There’s no beer in
nightmares, babe. *
Lincoln and Jade clink beer cans.
Still don’t have service, though.
Shit, my parents are gonna be
pissed if I don’t check in at some point.
Mine, too. We might have to drive
back into civilization tomorrow and check in.
HUNTER (to Jade)
Where do your folks think you are?
My cousin’s place in Manchester.
LINCOLN How ‘bout you, Kira?
My mom’s too hopped up on Oxy to
give a shit. I just told her I was “going out.”
Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to--
No worries. The way I see it, just
about every adult in the North Country’s either an admitted drug addict or a liar. At least she’s upfront about it.
A low, rumbling engine approaches from somewhere off in the distance.
JADE What is that?
The engine grows progressively louder.
Holy shit. It’s a fighter plane.
What the Hell’s it doing all the
way out here?
The jet screams directly overhead.
KIRA HUNTER Whoa!
The jet’s engine grows progressively quieter as it streaks away from them.
Is it me, or is that thing flying
INT. RADIO STATION - STUDIO - DAY
We hear the familiar sequence of beeps and static of the Emergency Alert System, only this time, there is no reassuring voice at the end to tell us this is “only a test.”
Afterthealertfinishes,Simonsitsatthemicrophone,which * he taps twice.
SIMON * Hellooooooooooooo, North Country.
It’s Simon Itani, and usually at * this time, I’d be introducing a new
track in our Classic Rock Hour. But
as anyone who’s within range of
this broadcast knows by now, we appear to be facing a major blackout. Here are the facts that I’m aware of at this point. There is no electricity, cell phone service, or landline phone access in the area, and the problem does not appear to be confined to the North Country. As of this morning, the President of the United States was set to broadcast a message to the American people moments before--
Outside the radio station, the fighter jet can be heard descending rapidly.
SIMON (CONT’D) * Hold on, just a minute.
Simon throws off his headphones and rushes to the window and * pulls open the curtains.
He watches as the fighter jet SLAMS into a nearby mountainside, EXPLODING into a massive conflagration.
Simon gasps. *
11/13/18 23. SIMON (CONT’D)
He sits back down at the microphone and puts his headphones back on.
Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll have to
excuse me. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I’m a bit rattled here. I just watched what appeared to be a fighter jet crashing and exploding into Jericho Mountain. Clearly, we’re dealing with some kind of national crisis here, and I--
Simon presses the “mute” button and turns to Bill.
SIMON (CONT’D) (loud whisper)
What should I do, Bill?
Uh. I guess, keep talking.
Simon leans back into the microphone.
Well, um, keep it here at 87.6, The
Moose, and we’ll do our best to keep you appraised about what’s happening, but we have very limited information at the moment. And, uh, I was actually shot this morning, so this is really quite a lot for me to take in. Let’s go to a very quick musical break, as I gather my thoughts for a moment. But I think the most important thing everyone can do right now is to make sure you have enough food and water at home, maybe stockpile some batteries, and just prepare as best you can for nightfall because we just don’t know what might come next. OK, here’s the new single from Berlin’s own, Stella and the Couches. Please stay tuned. And look out for each other.
An upbeat ROCK SONG from Stella and the Couches, a local New Hampshire band, takes us into the closing credits.
11/13/18 24. THE END