THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN
EXT ROCKY MOUNTAINS LATE DAY
A freight train, hauling several flatcars loaded with cement pipes emerges from a mountain tunnel, high up on the side of a hill, and RUMBLES its way down the tracks which tower over a fantastic white-water stream fed by a cascading waterfall.
EXT FLATCAR/ROCKY MOUNTAINS LATE DAY
Natty rides inside one of the enormous cement pipes strapped with others onto the backs of the flatcars RUMBLING down the tracks. Her legs dangle lazily over the edge, rocking back and forth with the gentle sway of the train.
She watches the spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery and takes a deep breath, filling her lungs with clean, fresh air. She lifts her face to the sun and smiles as it warms her cheeks. She’s never seen the sky so blue or the landscape so fantastic.
She’s awed by the peaceful wonder of it all.
She pulls her wallet from her pocket and takes out the picture of Sol and Amy. She stares at it dreamily.
Suddenly a horrible SCREECHING, GRINDING sound rips through the air.
There’s a violent lurching.
Natty is thrown back into the cement pipe like a ragdoll. The wallet FLIES from her hand.
The train BUCKS and SWAYS and TOPPLES from the tracks.
The flatcar SMASHES to its side and SLIDES across the ground. The cement pipes break from their straps and spill off the flatcar.
EXT WRECK SITE LATE DAY
Natty pul1s herself from the end of the cement pipe. She can hardly believe what she sees. Train cars are strewn across the ground, mostly lying on their sides.
TRAIN WORKERS pull themselves from the twisted steel. Steam and smoke rise to the sky.
There’s an EXPLOSION down the way. A liquid fuel car erupts in flame.
The workers run in a panic, SHOUTING to one another, warning each other to flee.
She’s gonna blow. Look out.
Run for it.
There’s another EXPLOSI0N, closer this time. Too close. It’s too dangerous to stay. Natty jumps to the ground.
She starts to join the workers in a clearing near the front cars, but stops and sucks in her breath. She sees uniformed RAILROAD GUARDS down there.
They’re rounding up HOBO’S, pushing them roughly down the tracks.
She searches for another way to go. From the corner of her eye she sees The Wolf leap from a twisted boxcar and run for the woods. He disappears into the trees like an escaping fugitive.
She turns back to the clearing. One of the Guards moves down the tracks, heading straight toward her.
She looks again at the spot where The Wolf disappeared, and without any further hesitation, she takes off after him, running blindly, desperately into the woods.
EXT WOODS DUSK
Natty crashes through the underbrush running wildly. It seems like she’s been running for miles.
Finally she slows and stops, panting for breath.
The only sound is her own heart pounding in her chest, her lungs gasping for air.
She looks around her, turning slowly in a circle, trying to get her bearings.
She looks for the way back but she can’t find it. It all looks so much the same…so foreign…and frightening. Even the trees seem menacing, evil.
Where the hell am I?
A twig SNAPS and she jumps in fear.
She tries to calm herself but it’s hard when you know you’re lost and completely alone. She hunkers at the base of a large tree and wraps her arms tight around her knees, curling them to her chest. She rocks herself back and forth, back and forth.
Two yellow eyes peer through the shadows at her. She can feel their presence, but when she turns quickly to look for them, they’re gone.
The dusk turns to dark as night quickly falls.
EXT WOODS DAWN
Natty draws a grid on the ground, the points of the compass, and aligns East with the direction of the rising sun. Satisfied, she sets off at a determined walk to the West.
EXT WOODS DAY
Natty’s walk is much less determined now. Her feet drag. Her pace is slow.
She sees a berry bush and rushes to it excitedly. She falls to her knees and stuffs the berries into her mouth. Red juice slops over her chin.
Suddenly her contented smile disappears. She coughs and spits The half-eaten berries onto the ground, wiping her tongue on the back of her hand.
She pulls herself to her feet and keeps walking, even slower now.
EXT WATER HOLE DAY
Natty continues her slow trek west. She climbs a rock and searches the terrain. With a burst of enthusiasm she leaps from the rock and races forward. There’s water ahead.
She flops on her belly at the water’s edge. It’s mossy and brackish and slightly green but she drinks anyway in large gulps.
The water rolls off her chin and slides down her neck.
She notices tracks in the mud…huge paw prints, too large for a dog. She looks up, anxiously, fearfully, every muscle tensed.
The wolf towers over her, staring down from a rock on the far side of the water hole.
Part of a rabbit dangles from his mouth. He glares at her, his eyes locked with hers. He GROWLS.
A shiver runs down Natty’s spine.
The Wolf drops the rabbit on the rock, looks at Natty one more time and quickly disappears into the underbrush.
Cautiously Natty crosses the water hole and approaches the rock.
She looks into the underbrush where The wolf disappeared, but there’s no sign of him.
The bloody, half eaten carcass of a freshly killed rabbit lies on the rocks as if waiting for her.
She clenches her teeth, suppressing her nausea as she looks at it.
EXT WOODS DAY
Natty sits in front of a small fire, cooking the mauled rabbit carcass like a pig on a spit, her pocket knife beside her on a rock.
She holds a crumpled, empty box of matches in her hand, the same ones she used to light the cigarette with Frankie and Louie. She stares at the matches and remembers. It seems so long ago.
She pulls herself back to the present and pokes at the rabbit. She pulls it from the fire, takes a deep gulp and greedily starts to eat.
EXT WOODS DUSK
Natty walks toward the sinking sun.
Lightning CRACKLES and thunder BOOMS as storm clouds gather overhead.
The temperature drops and Natty pulls her jacket tighter. She walks faster.
There are cliffs ahead with overhanging rocks for protection.
The wind blows and HOWLS. There’s another bolt of lightning followed by another booming CLAP of thunder.
Natty starts to run.
The rain falls in torrential sheets and quickly drenches her. She can barely see through the thick, pounding rain.
She makes it to the cliff’s cave above. She slips on the wet rocks but catches herself and keeps going. Rain soaked blood runs down her hand from her scratched and torn fingertips.
INT CAVE DUSK
Natty pulls herself inside the cave and collapses on the rock floor, exhausted. She rolls on her back and lets her breath come evenly, cheered by the dryness in here, glad that she made it to shelter.
Then she hears it…that oddly familiar, LOW, GRUMBLING, GROWL. Her whole body tenses. Slowly she turns and searches the dimness of the cave.
She sees him near the far wall…The Wolf. He’s wet and bedraggled but stil1 threatening with his lips curled back in a menacing snarl.
She starts to inch toward the mouth of the cave but she’s too drained to face the raging storm again. She’s too exhausted to care what happens now, even if The Wolf is about to leap on her and tear her to shreds.
She pushes herself against the shadow of the wall and wraps her arms tight around her, tucking her head low her knees.
She tries to remain still, to blend in with the rocks, but her body flinches with waves of shivers and she shakes violently from head to toe.
END PART 10
Part 11 Monday, 1/28/12 (Hopefully, maybe Tuesday 1/29/12!)
A script analysis of her favorite childhood novel – written as a USC class assignment – led Jeanne Rosenberg to her first Hollywood writing assignment on The Black Stallion. Switching from documentary filmmaker to narrative screenwriter, Jeanne studied her craft while working as a script supervisor on numerous films before completing her first original screenplay, The Journey of Natty Gann. She has been writing as well as producing and directing ever since. In addition, Jeanne has taught graduate screenwriting at USC and National University.