First-Place Winner, May - October 2007
Screenplay Contest - Full-Length Series
Written by Phil Ferriere
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phil Ferriere is an alum of UCLA's Advanced Professional Program in Screenwriting. Several of his scripts have placed in well-regarded screenwriting competitions. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Phil and his other screenplays, please visit http://philferriere.com.
After she discovers animals dying of a lethal disease transmissible to man at a highly profitable ranch in Texas, a tenacious veterinarian investigates and puts her life on the line to expose a monumental cover-up.
SILENT KILLER tells the tale of Dr. Kate Jordan, a veterinarian employed by one of the most profitable cattle ranches in Texas. Former boyfriend Luke Brown now works at a meat packing plant and just lost his father to a mysterious neurodegenerative disease. When Kate unveils a Mad Cow Disease cover up at her ranch and Luke discovers no one wants to know what really killed his father, they are brought together again in searching for the truth. That is, if they can forgive each other for their past decisions... a lesson better learned fast if they want a chance to survive an enemy who will stop at nothing to hide the truth from the public.
EXT. TEXAS - COOPER RANCH - DAY
A million acres of land. Skies ablaze with the setting sun.
Immense droves of cattle rove an endless open range.
Like a forsaken island, an old tannery stands in a lowland
area, a gunmetal truck with a hydraulic lift parked out front.
EXT. ABANDONED TANNERY - DAY
Sun-bleached and decrepit, the tannery appears unused for
years. Decades even... Except for a shiny new padlock.
Longhorn steer skulls guard both sides of the main door.
The windows are blocked with worm-eaten wooden boards.
The lift's cable gently rubs against the open tailgate of
the truck as a stray dog, rawboned, frenetically licks blood dripping from the hook.
The sound of taut ropes and squeaking pulleys breaks the
The dog startles, crawls toward the tannery, and pushes his
muzzle between the boards, letting--
INT. ABANDONED TANNERY - DAY
--blades of sunshine cut their way in, slice through a cloud of swirling dust.
Blood-stained floorboards creak under mud-caked steel-toes.
Crumbling shelves loaded with brand new and empty glass
containers of sulfuric acid line up the wall.
In the middle of the tannery, a huge pit...
At the bottom, a cow decomposes in a bath of acid. Sizzles
and pops. Sinks in a pool of darkness...
The clack of nervous hooves stamping through wet straw bounces off close walls. A horse's labored breathing fills the room.
Relax... I'm almost done.
A calm, soothing voice leading the way out of the darkness-
INT. THOROUGHBRED HOSPITAL - OPERATING ROOM - DAY
The voice belongs to DR. KATE JORDAN, 32, a Social Butterfly 101 dropout, but a gifted veterinarian - the truly dedicated kind who shares closer bonds with animals than people.
Scrubs and face mask on, forehead creased in concentration,
she's completely in charge. Her arm pushes inside a mare...
His posture is faulty. If she
Pushes any harder, she'll crack
The O.R. is cutting-edge tech. Sprawling and immaculate.
Kate's assistant, ABBY, 28, and a VET TECH, 20s, secure the
horse with a halter.
Kate frees her arm out--the fetus falls in convulsion--the
mother screams in excruciating pain--
He's in fetal distress. We gotta
open her up.
Behind a glass wall, Kate's boss, MR. COOPER, 59, a weathered cowboy built like a center guard, watches the procedure with a skeptical eye. His finger flies and stabs the intercom.
Save the foal. No stunt this time.
The foal! Forget the mare, Kate.
How refreshingly humane. Abby, get
Abby stares at Kate, then Mr. Cooper.
More bark than bite, for sure. So
far. Isn't he? Xylazine, five ccs...
A needle punctures the rubber seal of a vial. Liquid swishes as Abby draws back the plunger and hands the syringe to Kate.
The mare's teeth bite the Vet Tech's shoulder. Jerk him
around. Cool under fire, Kate swiftly sinks the needle in
the animal's jugular IV cath.
The mare's eyelids flutter, her head gradually droops forward.
Behind the glass, Mr. Cooper paces, chewing a cigar to pieces.
The mare lies on her back, in the thick of a padded V-shaped surgery table. Kate, surgically precise, makes a 24-inch incision along the ventral midline.
Abby, sweating profusely, hands her a Weitlanor retractor.
Kate wipes Abby's forehead with gauze. Abby relaxes, a bit...
Abby and the Vet Tech pull out the foal. Amniotic fluid
cascades on the floor.
Kate checks the animal's nares for mucus: clear. His eyes
open... close again. He goes limp. Stops breathing--
What's happening, Kate? Kate?
Kate clamps three leads on the foal--turns on a continuous
EKG. A green line flares on the heart rate monitor. She
darts for a crash cart, Abby in step.
Give me two-hundred Joules.
Abby rotates the dial--when the door clangs open. Kate's
eyes widen when she realizes Mr. Cooper is in the clean room.
She adjusts the dial back to 10 Js. Abby looks up, puzzled.
Kate winks back... and wheels the cart toward Mr. Cooper.
This foal is worth half a mil--
With his build, he could crush her... but she shoves the
paddles around his chest.
This is a clean room. If you don't
get out of here immediately, I swear
I'll blow your selfless heart.
The paddles discharge with a loud thwack as--
INT. THOROUGHBRED HOSPITAL - HALLWAY - DAY
--Mr. Cooper, back in the hall, watches Kate shock the foal
with another thwack.
SAM COOPER, 36, a creature of commerce, swaggers in. A
practiced and business-like smile crosses his lips.
You need to hire another head vet.
Why? What's going on?
Never listens. Been here for three
months and still don't respect me.
Heck, she don't respect human life,
period. Almost killed me back there.
You were in there?
All she had to do was rip that damn
mare wide open hours ago and get me
my foal. I want her out, son.
What makes you think she can't save
both? You can't go in there, 'Pa--
Both? She's wastin' time and
resources--our money!--on a mare
that's done for. She got no sense
of priorities, Sam. Just fire her.
It took me two years to find someone
her caliber. For cheap too. And
she's local. If you think you can
find a better veterinarian, then...
God, you're so goddamn weak.
INT. THOROUGHBRED HOSPITAL - OPERATING ROOM - DAY
Focused as a laser beam, Kate shocks the foal and massages
its heart. The green line on the heart rate monitor rises
sharply... and rapidly flattens out.
She injects 20 ccs of epinephrine in his left jugular vein,
massages the foal, faster, deeper...
The green line spikes erratically, becomes more regular...
and holds! Abby wraps the foal in a heated blanket.
Awesome again, Dr. Jordan.
I thought you might like that.
Couldn't have done it without you.
Big arm movements behind the window--Mr. Cooper wants to get in. The Vet Tech removes his gloves and heads for the door--
Don't you dare...
Kate points at the opened mare.
Come on, you heard Mr. Cooper, all
he wants is the foal.
Get yourself another pair of gloves.
EXT. THOROUGHBRED HOSPITAL - DAY
Members of the equine press gather noisily. Mr. Cooper makes a show of lowering to one knee. With great flourish, he slides the warming blanket off the back of his precious colt.
Awesome Again... How's that for a
EXT. HOLDING PEN - DAY
Arms resting on the fence, Kate and Abby watch the media
circus. Shake their heads in dismay.
They don't make men like him anymore.
You mean they don't swing from the
trees like they used to?
Is that how you pick up chicks?
Once a lesbian... You're welcome to
join the club, if you'd like.
Tempting... but no thanks.
Behind them, the mare wakes up. Whinnies. Kate crouches
besides it and lights up with a smile.