EXT. GNARLED FOREST -- NIGHT
An UGLY MAN charges through on a horse, holding a lantern
forward on a long pole. He looks back, terrified.
1799 Sleepy Hollow, New York
THUNDEROUS HOOFBEATS are HEARD behind.
The ugly man glances back again. His lantern swings wild...
SHATTERS against a tree. The jammed-up pole SLAMS the ugly
man off his horse...
He hits the ground. He runs, trips, falls and scrambles up.
DEEP IN THE FOREST, we glimpse the source of the HOOFBEATS: a
HUGE FORM on a HUGE BLACK HORSE, already gone.
The ugly man pushes through thorny bushes. Jagged branches
slit his hands and cheeks.
He bursts from the briar patch and tumbles to a trail. He
lifts his bloodied face. He runs.
IN THE FOREST BEHIND: the hooves of the black horse rip
underbrush. HOOFBEATS DEAFENING. A spur digs into the
snorting steed's already bleeding flank.
The pursuer's gloved hand draws a SWORD, blade RINGING.
ON THE TRAIL, the ugly man runs on. The shrill WHISTLE of a
SWORD SWING is HEARD as the pursuer blurs past.
The ugly man is still running when his head lolls back, at an
impossible angle... tumbles off his shoulders... His headless
body hits the dirt.
EXT. CITY STREETS -- NIGHT
Empty cobblestone streets. Crooked buildings. A RAPIDLY
CLANGING BELL breaks the silence from afar.
New York City
TWO CONSTABLES clamor round a corner, lanterns held high,
listening. They rush into an alleyway.
ELSEWHERE, piers border the Hudson River. The BELL is
LOUDER. The two constables arrive, searching. No one around.
Constable One hefts his pistol, scared.
Where are you?!
MAN'S VOICE (o.s.)
Here! Over here!
They hurry to the river's edge. Down a hill, the MAN,
another constable, stands with his back to us. He's waist
deep in water, tossing away his ALARM BELL.
I need your help with this.
Constable Two crosses on the peir above. Constable One moves
forward, wary. The MAN grunts, lifting something.
Constable Crane? Ichabod Crane...
is that you?
The MAN turns. Meet ICHABOD CRANE, handsome, eyes piercing.
Yes, it is me. But, not only me...
I found someone here...
He drags a bloated MALE CORPSE up from the murky water.
Someone quite dead.
EXT. WATCHHOUSE/JAIL -- NIGHT
The elderly HIGH CONSTABLE lifts a blanket off the corpse on
a wheelbarrow manned by Constable Two. A snobby MAGISTRATE
looks, disgusted. Constable One and Ichabod wait.
Constable Two wheels the corpse inside. Ichabod's dismayed.
Just a moment... if I may. It is
possible this man was murdered.
He drowned. Anyone could see.
There are surgical ways of telling
how he died... by the water in his
Ichabod follows the High Constable and Magistrate in.
INT. WATCHHOUSE, NIGHT WATCH QUARTERS -- NIGHT
Constable Two wheels the body ahead past many "booking"
tables. A JAILER moves to unlock a massive door.
He will be burned pursuant to
statutes of health.
I could determine if he were dead
before he went into the Hudson.
Must we again hear these heretical
Yes, must we?
There is nothing heretical about
science, sir. The Chinese have
written on it for hundreds of
years... procedural study used to
solve seemingly unsolvable crimes.
The door is opened. The corpse again leads the way.
INT. WATCHHOUSE, JAIL -- NIGHT
A two-tiered prison, alive with MOANS of AGONY and CRIES of
INSANITY. Cells are full of wretched men in chains and iron
gags. Many are against the bars, watching.