1EXT. BOREAL FOREST - ALASKA - (AERIAL SHOT) - DAY
Flying. Not at the intangible height of a jet, but at
spitting distance from the treetops. We're in central
Alaska, the Big Lonely, just north of the Arctic Circle.
A thick forest follows the contours of mountain foothills
like a deep-pile carpet. Up at treeline the forest thins to
tundra, a grassy scruff turning red and yellow with the
coming of autumn.
On the horizon, the hills rise to meet the Endicott
Mountains, a great fortress wall of granite so sharp and
jagged that snow cannot stick to its face. This is how all
North America once looked -- raw, indomitable.
Then, abruptly coming into the SCENE is a colossal etching
across the landscape too deliberate to be of natural origin.
Bisecting this country like a metallic ribbon -- or a scar,
depending on your point of view -- is the 800-mile-long
Even the immensity of the pipeline is rendered insignificant
by the vastness of the land. It goes on, and on, and on...
A lone MAN walks along the Haul Road, a one-lane gravel
trail running parallel to the pipeline. The weather turns
sour -- rough wind and stinging snow cut across the man's
The man is ERIC DESMOND, twenty-four, clean-shaven,
determined. He's clearly out of place here, dressed in a
business suit and a light, camel-hair topcoat.
Eric is trying to follow some footprints in the snow -- a
predator's tracks, those of a wolf or coyote. But the
footprints ahead have faded, covered by the snow and wind.
The weather becomes more oppressive. Heavy snow, gale winds
and sub-zero temperatures make his progress tortuous. Eric
strives stubbornly forward.
Eric has gathered some branches. He tries to make a fire.
Moisture from his breath has frozen in the upturned collar
of his insufficient coat, and his skin is split raw from the
His hands are too numb to hold the matches. After several
attempts at striking one, he slumps down next to the pile of
wood, exhausted and frustrated.
The snow has covered the pile of branches. Eric still sits
next to it, partially covered in snow himself.
His face is a death mask: eyes half-open and dull, lips a
purplish blue, bloodless skin crystallizing as it ices over.
The wind HOWLS around him. The snow sticks to his eyelashes
and hair without melting.
2INT. DARK BEDROOM - NIGHT
Eric bolts up in bed. Next to him, ANNE MARIE GAUVIN sits
up and hugs him. All that can be seen of her in the dark is
a lovely silhouette and a cascade of dark hair. After a
moment, Eric kisses her. He shakes off the dream and lies
3EXT. HAUL ROAD AND PIPELINE - CLOSE - DAY
A metal sign, peppered with shotgun holes, is posted near a
pipeline support piling:
PIPELINE UTILITY CORRIDOR
Eric walks quietly past the sign, intent on something ahead
of him. Although still somewhat boyish in appearance, he's
confident and resolute in attitude. His clothes have a
distinctly western feel: Lucchese boots, Levis 501's, Mahan
cotton shirt. His down parka is unzipped in the sunny,
windless, forty-degree afternoon.
He pauses, then brings to his shoulder a rifle with a
four-power scope mounted atop it. He peers through the
HIS POV - THROUGH SCOPE
He puts the crosshairs on the shoulder flank of a big,
ivory-white timber wolf, fifty yards away.
BACK TO SCENE:
Anne Marie stands beside Eric, a Nikon with a telephoto lens
in her hand, holding her breath in anticipation. She's
twenty-three, pretty, with soft features and piercing blue
eyes. She wears Eddie Bauer woman's gear like she was born