On a deserted trail above the high desert, a man walks. It is moon-lit night; a million stars. It illuminates the rugged landscape. The man’s dark clothes are stained with sweat and dust. He carries old leather saddlebags over his shoulder.
It is 1884.
Above the trail, a lone wolf stops. The wolf’s breath turns to steam in the frigid air.
The man doesn’t seem to breathe.
The wolf whimpers.
A warning rattle on the shoulder of the trail. The rattlesnake is a big one. The man stops and kneels.
Serpent and man stare at one another, unblinking. The man rises and walks on.
In the nearby rocks, a rodent moves out into the open. The snake strikes.
The silence is broken by the sound of a distant but fast approaching horses. The man doesn’t turn.
A covered wagon appears. A lantern swinging madly in the overhead arc.
The snake rears, full now, too slow – the wagon veers – a wheel cuts the snake in half. The wagon clatters on.
The wagon passes the man. Fleeting glimpse. Ghostly figure.
In the wagon, the light flickers across an insane, bearded face. The wagoner chuckles.
The wagon slows and stops. A match flares. The stub of a cigar is lit. Acrid smoke fills the air.
(muttering) Well, come on, goddammit.
Boot heels crunch on gravel. The man approaches at his own leisurely pace. We don’t really see his face – we haven’t yet – the WAGONER doesn’t bother to look.
If you’re looking for directions, I can’t help you.
The wagoner is a powerful man. Bare armed, dirty.
Shit, I ain’t lost, Mister, you are!
I’m not lost.
(not liking the answer)
Whatever you are, you walking or riding?
The man vaults up. And as he does, something on his saddlebags catches the moonlight. It is a tarnished silver adornment – a scythe. The crack of a whip. The wooden wheels crunches gravel and the wagon moves away.
IN THE WAGON – MOVING
The WAGONER pulls out a bottle; offers it to the man.
Care for a bite?
The man shakes his head. The WAGONER drinks. Then:
That your horse dead on the trail about three miles back?
I’d imagine so.
Go lame on ya, did he?
Someone shot him.
Did they now.
High caliber rifle in the boot beside him. The wagoner drinks again; brown liquid drizzling down his chin. He throws away the empty bottle.
That must be your saddle then.
The man turns. We see his face now. Not unhandsome. Sad eyes. Behind him is a saddle and two black leather cases.
Behind the saddle are two terrified looking children. The man turns back.
Yes. Those are mine.
Not any more.
And with that he raises the pistol he’s been holding, concealed, in his lap. Not laughing anymore.
You been on my trail the last thirty miles. Well, friend, you made one very bad mistake.
And he pulls the trigger. The bullet blows the man hard into the wagon stays, sprawling. Blood trickling from the mortal wound. And then – the man’s eyes flare open.
ON THE WAGON
The sound of screaming as the wagon veers and slows. The WAGONER leaps from the wagon and half falling, runs.
ON THE WAGONER
As he runs, gasping, wild eyed down the trail. Looking back – stumbling on – and suddenly he stops!
REVERSE ON –
You can’t run from me.
The WAGONER screams and raises the gun and shoots – once, twice, three times – at point blank range.
And that doesn’t work.
The wagoner turns, staggering off the trail. He falls. He crawls. The man is walking, coming up behind him.
Get away from me!
If you’d treated the children well, I might have turned you in. But under the circumstances –
Moaning in fear, the WAGONER staggers to his feet and runs.
The man leaps – clears the wagoner in a bound – to land in front of him. The WAGONER screams – the scream turns into laughter; hysteria beneath the surface.
Wait, wait – gotta tell a little story here. Old guy, back in Laramie prison; murderin’ bastard, used to talk about this gun for hire, a bounty hunter, the best. And reason he was the best; he was some kinda voodoo man. You believe that? I didn’t but damn…. look at you.
He laughs harder. At the small of his back, his hands grasp for something.
Know what else the old looneybird said? Only one way to kill a voodoo man. Drive a stake through his stinkin’ heart!
And he springs and slams his knife – an eight inch Bowie – into the man’s chest. A long moment.
Taking the wagoner’s hand, the man pulls the knife out of his own chest.
The stake has got to be made of wood.
The WAGONER backs away, stumbles and falls.
Oh, God… don’t….
God has nothing to do with it.
The man, ROBERT USHER, moves forward.
EXT. ALLIANCE, NEVADA – PRE-DAWN
Establishing. A ranch/mining town.
EXT. MAIN STREET – CONT.
LESLEY SAMUELSON, 50’s, comes out of the hotel; pulling on a suit coat. He has been awakened by a young deputy.
(an English accent)
Dammit, sir, your sheriff was to send for me right away!
The sheriff’s down sick.
The two men hurry down the dirt street.
EXT. THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE – PRE-DAWN
Horses are tethered. Men gathered. Samuelson and the Deputy approach. A deputy moves to stop Samuelson.
It’s all right. He’s the government man.
INT. THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE – CONT.
Samuelson and Deputy 1 enter. Samuelson takes in the scene. The two children, blankets around them, are in the arms of a prosperous looking couple. Others look on.
Who’s in charge here?
The deputy embarrassed.
Might say she is.
One of the onlookers, REBECCA RAMSEY, 20’s, looks up.
Sheriff’s daughter. He trusts her.
Beck, this is the Federal agent your Pa was telling us about. Mr. Samuelson, this is Rebecca –
I’d like to speak to them, please.
Sir, they just got their children back. Now is not the time.
As she starts to turn away –
Can you tell me what happened then?
Rebecca gestures towards an elderly Hispanic man.
Diego’s the night man at the stable. About 12:30 a wagon pulled in. A man asked for food for the children, then sent a message over to the hotel where the Pierson’s were staying. Then he left.
Did he give a a description?
My father’s not well. I was going for the doctor. I passed the man as he was riding out of town.
You saw him clearly then?
(something odd about this)
…he was staring at me.
Couldn’t have gone far. We’ll find him.
Not during daylight, you won’t.
Before Rebecca can ask what that means, another deputy bursts through the door.
We got our kidnapper!
EXT. THE TRAIL – DAWN
The sun is just coming over the mountains, casting long shadows, as horses make their way up the trail.
is pulled over. Samuelson, Rebecca and the deputies dismount. They are met by other deputies.
He’s just down here.
They move off the trail and down the rocky hillside.
Couple a ranch hands comin’ into town, saw him. Pissed their pants, is what.
Rebecca ignores him. They suddenly stop; staring.
Rebecca looks away, then forces herself to look back.
Lord a’ mighty….
The sun has just cleared the peaks and it illuminates the scene. The wagoner is outstretched against a rock. Eyes open; as dry and pale as parchment; drained.
Mmm. Well, he’s dead on his feet.
Samuelson moves forward and begins examining the body.
Somebody snapped his neck like a twig – take a strong man to do that.
I’m sure it would. If it was a man.
The deputy glances at Rebecca. Samuelson has found what he was looking for. Two puncture wounds on the neck.
(glancing up at the sun)
It won’t be long now. Come along, there’s nothing more for us here.
He turns back up the hill. Rebecca calling after him.
Mr. Samuelson! You seem to know something we don’t.
(As he moves away)
Miss Ramsey – you’re with me!
Rebecca turns. She stares. The body is turning to ash; particles floating away on the breeze. Something flutters to the ground. Rebecca picks it up. A smudged playing card. A skeletal knight holding a scythe.
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO, 1884 – NIGHT
Fireworks fill the night sky. They illuminate the tri-masted schooners at anchor in the bay, the smaller boats surrounding them. The sounds of cheers.
Happy Birthday America!
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – NIGHT
Revelers – sailors, cowboys, ladies and gentlemen, prostitutes. A ragged Chinese boy, 11, moves along the street; a tied package of newspapers under his arm.
EXT. HOTEL – NIGHT
The boy dodges a carriage, crosses the street and enters.
INT. HOTEL – NIGHT
The boy crosses the lobby to the front desk. The desk man looks up from registering some guests and sees him. He takes a key from a drawer and slides it across the counter. The boy takes it and moves on. He passes a heavy set man who has been sitting, reading.
INT. HOTEL – NIGHT
The Chinese boy moves down the hall. Coming to a single door, the boy pauses, takes off his cap and then knocks. No answer. The boy opens the door with the key and starts to enter. His arm is grabbed. By the man from the lobby. The man takes the key.
Not a word. The papers too. Here.
He gives the boy a coin. The boy turns and hurries down the hall. He looks back; then continues on.
The man, FRANCIS CLARK, hesitates, then enters.
INT. HOTEL SUITE – CONTINUOUS
Clark enters. He looks around. The room is oriental in it’s elegant simplicity. The walls are lined with books and works of art.
Clark moves to an antique desk. He sees more newspapers.
One of the front page stories is circled. A photo of the kidnapped children and their parents. The caption: DENVER SOCIALITE’S CHILDREN RETURNED.
Putting down the papers, Clark moves through the room. In glass cases are weapons; old pistols, daggers and swords. Antiques – or are they? Clark peers closer. They are wooden swords; some black with old stains. The sound of explosions. Through french doors that lead out on to a deck, fireworks fill the sky again. On a side table, Clark sees something else – black leather cases. Curious, he opens one. The case is filled with bottles. Clark pulls one out. Medical issue; red cross on the label. Something viscose inside. Clark pulls out the cork and sniffs – fireworks flicker and he realizes what it is. He drops the bottle. It breaks – blood pools on the floor. Clark backs away. A pistol is placed against the back of his head.
You don’t look like a paper boy to me.
Clark turns. The muzzle of the gun slides down to his nose.
The man from the road, ROBERT USHER, is shirtless. His body is all pale sinew and scars.
Please – I’m an attorney. My name is Francis Clark.
He nervously starts to reach into his inner breast pocket. He stops as the hammer on the gun clicks back.
If you’ll permit me? My card? Or perhaps you might take one off of there.
On the desk, a silver tray. Business cards on it.
I’ve sent one up every day this week. You’re a very difficult man to see, Mr. Usher. And seeing as my employer is a very impatient man, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
(Then; the gun;)
We don’t really need that, do we?
Usher uncocks the pistol and turns away.
What do you want?
I’m here to buy you dinner.
INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT
Elegant. Filled with wealthy people. At a table, Clark is eating a huge, blood-rare steak and drinking red wine. A white napkin covers his chest. Usher, dressed in a dark suit, eats and drinks nothing.
Not hungry, Mr. Usher?
On an expense account, Mr. Clark?
As a matter of fact, I am.
How did you find me?
You’re known, sir. In certain circles very well known indeed.
You’re a liar.
…. all right. You have come to our attention just recently. You are a subject of rumor. And I might add, some intrigue. What is without question is your efficiency.
He wipes his mouth. He starts to reach for his inner pocket again. He stops.
I’ll take your silence as a yes.
He pulls something from his inner pocket. A folded paper. He pushes the paper across the table.
More to the point, sir. My employer, Mr. William V. Boyard of Philadelphia and Chicago, would like to know what you know of him.
Usher opens the folded paper. Stationary from an expensive hotel. A newspaper clipping falls out; b & w photo of a well dressed man; his face averted. Usher pushes it back.
Your employer is a railroad man who’s gotten himself into a misunderstanding over land rights with some farmers. The farmers have the law on their side. Your employer has money. And guns.
The article of course is bias. Mr. Boyard is a businessman. But aren’t we all.
He smiles and chews. Blood from the steak dribbles down his chin, staining the white napkin.
Do you believe in coincidence, Mr. Clark? I don’t. And I find it a coincidence that I’ve recently been approached by the farmers your employer would grind under foot.
My employer will more than match anything these dirt farmers have offered you.
Clark now slides another envelope across the table. Usher glances at the contents. Bank notes.
Mr. Boyard admires expertise, sir, in all it’s forms. He pays for it accordingly.
WHAM! In a sudden, incredibly fast move, Usher impales the napkin around Clark’s neck to the table with a fork. People glance up – look away. Clark is unable to sit up.
Some advice, Mr. Clark. Next time order the steak well done.
Usher rises and moves away. Clark pulls the fork out of the table with some effort. He looks around nervously; as if someone might be spying on his failure.
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – NIGHT
From a high point, a view of the waterfront. Usher stands at the edge of the building’s rooftop. The sound of distant voices and carriages drift up from the cobbled streets. A breeze whips at his hair and at the tails of his suit coat – a storm is brewing.
And then, like a whisper on the breeze, he hears a woman’s singing. Usher steps off the building’s edge – and drops.
ON THE STREET – CONT.
A streetwalker sings to herself as she walks. Drunk, she giggles, stumbles and looks back. A man is following. The girl moves faster. The man keeps pace. The girl turns into an alley.
IN THE ALLEY –
The girl runs now, frightened. And reaches a brick wall, a dead end. She turn back. The man approaches.
Where’s my money?
I… I don’t have it.
Then you pay.
He pulls a knife. He starts forward. The streetwalker’s frightened face suddenly looking up as — a shadow drops. The man starting to turn – too late – the shadow pounces and hurls him against the wall.
The sound of a scream is choked abruptly off into a gurgle.
The girl doesn’t look away.
And then it’s over. We see what streetwalker sees. The man; shriveled face; sightless eyes. Usher exhausted; nauseated. He releases the withered body and it falls.
The girl’s horrified look turns to rapture!
That was so beautiful. Pig.
She is about to kick the body –
Don’t dishonor the dead.
Oh, sugar. I only bring you the dregs. That’s the deal, right? And now I want my reward.
She licks her lips, as if anticipating a kiss. There’s a jagged piece of old timber jutting from the brick wall. Usher reaches out and rakes his hand across it. Blood oozes from his palm. He holds up his hand. The girl buries her mouth into his palm. The effect is immediate. Her skin blooms, the hair on her head seems to quiver; she seems infused with life.
He pulls his hand away. She whimpers –
All right. Fine. Next time.
This was the last time.
He turns away.
I want to be like you!
(As he stops)
It’s all I think about. Dream about.
There are no dreams in hell.
She laughs; hysterical.
If you won’t, someone else will.
She might be referring to me.
A tall man with a scarred face, AUGUST SCHUELLER, steps out of the shadows. Long coat, thin, walking stick, faint European accent.
August. It’s been a long time.
Gettysburg in 63. You were on the lines, trying to be a soldier.
And you were in the field hospitals, pretending to be a doctor.
It was lovely, wasn’t it? A real smorgasbord.
He glances at the body on the ground.
Speaking of which, has it really come to this? Most unappealing. Especially when you have this.
He moves to the girl. Caresses her. Licks her cheek.
He’s going to make me like you. He promised.
And I keep my promises. What do you say, Robert? Shall we make her one of the dead?
Yes. Do it now!
The hand holding the handle of the walking stick twists and pulls – a wooden sword slides free. August flicks it,decapitating the girl. The body falls. The head rolls.
Usher stares; the suddenness of it shocking him.
Oh, sorry – did you want that?
Usher begins to take off his suit coat.
I should have finished you at Gettysburgh,
You left decorations.
I’ll be more thorough this time.
No. This time I’m the one who’s being
As if by signal, six dark, lithe men step out of the shadows.They hold daggers and swords made of dark wood.
Cut him to shreds.
They close in.
Robert Usher moves inhumanly fast. His suit coat is now off – he snaps it like a whip and wraps it around the first assailant’s out thrust dagger. He pulls the man in – his open palm snaps the man’s head back, breaking his neck – he pulls the dagger free as the man falls – – dodge of sword blade thrust from behind. Usher slams the dagger back and home. He spins, grabbing the blade as the man falls – ducking as a second blade whistles overhead – using the sword hilt to brain the attacker. He turns towards the wall – hand going to the sheath at the small of his back – for his knife – as – Usher vaults off the wall, somersaulting into the air – spinning to come down behind his attackers – flipping the
sword to grab it by the haft – ready now as — they attack — Usher parries, stabs – pulls the body close and uses it for a shield. A blade rips through the man into Usher’s arm
– Usher’s blade ripping back in return, through one man’s body into another man’s heart — the needle point of a wood sword slashes down Usher’s back parting vest, shirt-cloth and skin; throwing a curtain of blood droplets. Usher spin’s – the attacker’s sword
slashes across his thigh – blood sprays. Usher goes to his knees; gutting the man with a swipe of his knife – Tableau. Two men left, armed with sword and dagger, circling the one in the middle. Usher – covered with gore – sword and dagger in hand. August. Waiting.
Usher throws the knife – it takes one attacker full in the throat. He turns to the last man… who backs away – then turns and runs. August smiles. Lightly applauds.
Excellent. You’re ready for me now.
He removes his hat, slips his coat off. He is as lean and deadly-looking as a cobra. He raises his sword in ritual salute. Usher raises his own. They fight.
You’re weak, Robert. My sacrificial
lambs took just enough out of you.
What did your promise them, August? Life?
Nothing so dreary. Merely money.
They fight on. Inhumanly fast and strong. Through
shadows. Off the walls. In the air. The wooden blades inflict dreadful damage. And Usher has been wounded badly.
He is slowing, weakening – until in a final clinch, August sends him sprawling to the ground.
Take a moment, Robert. Contemplate theinfinite future. And your lack there of.
What were you promised, August? What do
you offer a coward to make him crawl out
from under his rock?
I’ll drink your blood before I cut out your
August starts forward. Usher rises to meet him – he scoops a sword off the ground and attacks. Surprised, August retreats – towards the wall behind him. With sword and dagger, Usher drives him back – into that jagged splinter of wood – Whunk!
August staring down in disbelief – at the wood spike coming through his chest.
It’s not pretty what happens next. August decomposes at a furious rate. Usher drops the dagger, tosses aside the sword, exhausted. He looks up – it has begun to rain.
AT THE MOUTH OF THE ALLEY – MOMENTS LATER
Usher, trembling and weak, emerges wearing August’s coat. Thrusting his hands into pockets, he finds something. Stationary embossed with the letterhead of a San Francisco hotel. Just like the one at the restaurant.
INT. HOTEL SUITE – NIGHT
Francis Clark, in a silken, monogrammed bathrobe, is at the bathroom sink of his expensive suite. He turns out the gas light and moves into his darkened bedroom.
IN THE SUITE – CONT.
The sound of the rain and approaching thunder. The door to the outside terrace is open. Frowning, Clark crosses and close it. He turns back – and gasps as lightning illuminates Usher’s blood streaked face. Usher’s hand grabs Clark by the throat. He throws him through the closed door out onto –
THE TERRACE – CONT.
– glass and wood splintering as Clark hurtles out – Usher following – bending to lift him up and out over the rail.
You set me up, Mister Clark.
I – I had no choice. My employer –
Will be meeting me soon enough. Do you
know the conditions of my employment?
Choking, Clark shaking his head.
I don’t exist. You’ve violated that.
You don’t kill innocent people, you don’t!
I doubt you’re innocent of anything.
He drops him. Clark lands on the rail; clings to it
desperately. Usher leaps. Up and over the rail. Clark
looks down to see him hurtling down through the rain…
ON THE STREET –
Usher lands as easily as jumping off a curb. He looks back up through the rain at Clark. A promise; a warning.
ON THE TERRACE –
Clark falls to the terrace, wide-eyed with terror.
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – DAY
Establishing. The sun burning a hazy red on the horizon.
EXT. THE STREET – CONT.
Police wagons outside the alley. A small carriage pulls up. Samuelson and Rebecca get out. Rebecca looks around in wonder at the buildings.
Do come along, Miss Ramsey.
They move quickly into the alley.
IN THE ALLEY -Detectives and uniformed policemen move about. Bodies are about to be carried out on stretchers. Samuelson and Rebecca approach; Samuelson waving his credentials
Stop! Everyone stop what they’re doing
and back away right now!
They do more from his sense of authority than the waved
Who’s in charge here. Speak up.
(a touch of Irish accent)
O’CONNOR, 30’s, is a plainclothes detective.
And you are?
Mr. O’Connor, have your men to walk down
this alley and wait out on the street. You
And who the hell are you?
Samuelson thrusts his credentials in O’Connor’s face.
I am the man who will have everyone here
suspended without pay if they’re not
moving in the next two moments.
(to another detective)
See if they know anything about a Federal
Agent Samuelson at the precinct.
Move it, boys.
They do. Samuelson is already moving to the bodies.
What happened here?
(As O’Connor hesitates)
Do you want to see my identification too?
All right. We got five gutted dock
workers and one headless whore. Unless
they killed each other, we got no suspects.
And we got these.
He gestures – wooden swords and stained daggers are against the wall. Rebecca picking one up.
Are these wood?
Yes, they’re wood, and unless you wish to
lose a hand, be careful with them.
And taking the blade from her, he swings it at a rusting pipe
that trails down the brick wall. Whang! The wooden blade
cuts the pipe like butter, leaving gleaming edges.
Wood can’t do that.
This wood can. It’s been treated.
With what – whiskey?
He turns away. O’Connor looks uneasily at Rebecca.
They move forward. In the shadow of the building, droplets
of blood gleam and in the blood, something beautiful grows.
Flowers? Where’d they come from?
They might have grown here before the city
was even built. Or the seeds might have
been part of the street’s original brick
He looks up. The sun is edging around the buildings; the
shadows are shortening.
Give me something to cover this with.
Quickly before the sun gets to them.
O’Connor starts to strip off his suit coat. Too late.
Sunlight touches the edge of the blood stained ground. The blood ignites and quickly turns to iron-grey ash. The flowers wilt in the heat.
This ash is everywhere.
I’m sure it is. There was a duel fought
here last night. A duel to the death.
And all that’s left is ash.
Samuelson moves away.
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – HOTEL – SUNSET
Establishing. The sun disappearing on the skyline.
INT. HOTEL SUITE – CONT.
The sound of glass breaking. Usher lifts another bottle and pours badly congealing blood into a glass. He drinks. He retches – it’s going bad – he drinks more. His wounds start to heal. He turns and stares. It’s a portrait of a young woman. The hair color is different but the resemblance is uncanny.
It’s Rebecca Ramsey.
EXT. COUNTRYSIDE – FRANCE – DAY
France, 1735. The hills are a burnt gold. A picturesque village is in the distance.
The woman in the portrait, ANNE DULAPIER, runs past the easel on which the now unfinished portrait rests. Her hair is down and she is barefoot. She laughs. She is being chased. By Usher. An innocent, less weary one.
Your intentions are not honorable!
He catches her and they fall; turning over… to stop, breathlessly. They’re about to kiss when a sound startles them. They look up.
Over the far knoll, a horse drawn carriage passes. The carriage is jet black, adorned with silver; the windows heavily curtained. A parade of wagons follow, filled with cases, furniture, servants.
Anne watches with curious excitement.
Do you think it’s them?
I’d say yes, the tenants have finally
The carriage and its retinue continue up the hill towards a huge chateau in the distance.
It must be splendid to be so rich.
Would you like to live in a grand house some
Why? Do you have one for me back in
I’ll buy you one.
You’re terribly optimistic for a poor
You make me so.
I don’t want houses and riches. I want
They kiss again.
BACK TO – THE HOTEL ROOM – (1884)
Usher stares at the painting. He turns away. He tosses the bottle aside. It joins others, broken on the floor. He turns. The leather cases are empty.
INT. POLICE STATION – DAY
The survivor of the attack on Usher, sits in a chair, mumbling. Police, plus Samuelson and Rebecca, listen as a studious looking Caucasian translates.
He is from Shanghai. He says he and his
kinsmen were hired to kill a man. They
were not told that the man was not a man.
Not a man? What does that mean?
The man is questioned; he answers.
He was death… a taker of men’s souls.
Uncomfortable silence. Rebecca turns to Samuelson.
It’s time for you to tell me what we’re
INT. OYSTER HOUSE – DAY
A crowded establishment. Platters of oysters are put down in front of Samuelson and Rebecca who sit at a table.
Ah – delicious.
Rebecca looks sceptical. Samuelson digs in.
Now then, where was I?
A school in London.
Yes, of course. University of – where I
was head of medical studies.
You’re a doctor?
A hematologist actually.
That’s a blood expert.
Very good. It’s a remarkable field. Did
you know that half the hospital deaths
during your civil war were caused by blood
loss and infection. Now we know we can
take the blood from one man and put it in
another man to make him stronger. We can
even stockpile blood. Keep it cold and it
will stay fresh longer than you can
Rebecca looks down at her oysters – they seem less appetizing than ever. Samuelson eats with relish.
Indeed, blood is the river of life. Your
father, for instance, is obviously
suffering from a blood disorder.
Undoubtable fatal in the end.
I’m sorry, that was insensitive of me.
What’s all this have to do with a
government investigation? For that
matter, what does an Englishman?
I’m a blood expert and they were looking
for one. And of course it helped that my
second area of expertise is, uh, well –
You’ve dragged me from my home and a sick
father for this?
You don’t believe me? Ask your father.
There are police reports going back as far
as the late 1700’s. In Europe they go back
centuries. Of course, they’re usually
referred to as serial killings or unsolved
murders. And some of the cases don’t even
get reported as not all the victims
consider themselves victims – many are
I don’t understand.
Addicts is a better word. People who give
freely for a taste in return.
Taste? Of what?
A substance that makes wood harder than
steel and old seeds poke their head through
brick and mortar. The harrower’s blood,
Rebecca just stares at him.
That’s what they call themselves.
Harrowers. Harvester of souls.
Tools of God with sharp teeth.
We know there are not as lot of them. We
know they don’t like each other much –
territorial instincts, I suspect – and we
know they especially don’t like this one.
The one who saved the Pierson children.
The one we’ve followed here. The one you
saw, which is why you’re now a part of this.
Are you going to eat those?
Rebecca pushes his plate of oysters towards Samuelson.
What’s so special about this one?
What’s special about this one, Miss
Ramsey, is this one thinks he’s Robin Hood.
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – EVENING
A busy city street; carriages and pedestrians. A cable car (established in 1873) passes. Samuelson and Rebecca, having finished their meal, are now walking.
Certain crimes. They’re like footprints.
I’ve given Detective Mr. O’Connor a list.
What makes you think this man will commit
He has no choice. We’ll see.
Care for a newspaper?
It’s an old newsstand. Samuelson tosses coins down and takes a paper from the newsboy. The boy stares as Rebecca and Samuelson move away. It’s the boy who delivers papers to Usher.
EXT. USHER’S HOTEL – EVENING
The boy, carrying newspapers, looks both ways before hurrying across the street and into the hotel.
INT. HALLWAY – HOTEL – EVENING
A hand taps on the door. The boy waits. He looks up as the door opens. Usher stares down.
Sak Poon. Please come in.
The boy enters.
INT. HOTEL SUITE – CONT.
The boy puts down the newspapers. He’s obviously been here before. Usher takes coins from a bowl.
The fat man with the ugly face – he didn’t
hurt you, did he?
The boy shakes his head. Usher hands him coins.
Give your parents my regards.
Instead the boy turns and points. At the portrait on the
wall – of Anne. He speaks quickly; he’s seen her..
(startled; in English)
The boy rapidly explains that he saw Rebecca and Samuelson on the street. Usher listens intently.
EXT. A WOMAN’S BOARDING HOUSE – NIGHT
INT. A ROOM – CONT.
Rebecca sits in a chair, reading. She puts the book aside. A restless moment. She rises.
EXT. BOARDING HOUSE – NIGHT
Rebecca comes out. She starts down the street.
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – NIGHT
Rebecca moves along the crowded streets. Across the street, she sees what looks like a restaurant.
INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT
Rebecca enters. The room is noisy with diners; mostly men. What few women there are, are with men, are heavily made up and gaudily dressed; whores, loose women. Rebecca feels eyes upon her. She turns and exits.
ON THE STREET – NIGHT
A old woman is selling roasted sweet potatoes.
EXT. CITY SQUARE – NIGHT
In a small city square, Rebecca sits on a bench. She unwraps her potato and begins to eat. And then the food is suddenly heavy in her mouth.
You’re far from home.
Rebecca puts aside the potato. Her hands go into her bag.
She draws a small but efficient looking pistol.
And you’re under arrest.
Is that why you’re here? To arrest me?
I saw what you did to that man. What kind
of beast are you?
Hasn’t Samuelson told you? It is
Samuelson you’re with, isn’t it? The
I don’t believe a word of it.
I am a beast.
He ignores the gun as she thrusts it into his chest – he slowly leans in as if he might go for her throat.
But not to you.
He lifts her chin.
I’ll shoot, I swear it.
Small price to pay.
He kisses her.
Go home. You don’t want to be a part of
He turns away. She stands, trembling. When she looks up, Usher is gone. Rebecca turns and runs.
LONG ANGLE – LOOKING DOWN ON – Rebecca races from the square and on down the street.
Usher watches from a rooftop. He turns away
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – NIGHT
Usher moves across the roof tops, seemingly weightless; running, leaping, soaring from rooftop to rooftop.
He runs and leaps out into a void – towards a dark, forbidding
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO CITY HOSPITAL – DAY
The stone edifice of the hospital is ominous even in day light. A carriage gallops up the cobbled street.
EXT. HOSPITAL – CONT.
Samuelson and Rebecca get out. O’Connor is waiting.
Excellent! Good man!
They proceed inside, Rebecca stopping to look up – it’s the most imposing building she’s ever seen.
EXT. CITY HOSPITAL – DAY
An administrator leads Samuelson, Rebecca and O’Connor down a corridor. Patients loiter, pale and dead eyed, outside of rooms. One of them steps in front of Rebecca. She tries to nod, then steps around him.
We’re a mental asylum as much as a teaching
facility. We keep a modest amount of
hemoglobin on hand for study purposes
Their blood supply.
You ask me, a man’s blood should stay in
his veins where God put it.
Thankfully, Mr. O’Connor, medical science
is much more enlightened than that.
They turn at the end of the corridor.
INT. MEDICAL ROOM – DAY
They enter the high ceilinged room; a room for forensic study. O’Connor and Rebecca look around, uncertainly. Moves to look at the high, narrow windows.
What goes on here?
The study of human physiology.
Dead bodies. What floor is this?
The forth. If you’re suggesting
admittance was gained through that window,
it’s quite impossible.
Mm. And where do you store the blood.
INT. THE ICE ROOM – MOMENTS LATER
They enter. Rebecca and O’Connor start at the sight of hanging, open chested cadavers. Samuel ignores them. On the wall, shelves are empty.
How many liters were there?
That’s hard to say. We stored the blood
in pig’s bladders.
How sanitary of you.
Rebecca can’t take her eyes of the cadavers.
She turns and hurries from the ice room. The others follow, concerned.
IN THE ADJACENT ROOM –
Rebecca hurries out. She takes several deep breathes.
Rebecca, are you all right?
Fine. I just felt faint.
Quite understandable. However you don’t
seem yourself today.
(To the administrator)
Was anything else taken?
What would any sane man need that for?
Rebecca, what are you thinking?
EXT. TRAIN YARDS – NIGHT
A windowless freight car is hitched to the rear of a train. Yardmen lead dark horses up a ramp into the car. The train pulls out of the yards. On the stanchion of the rear car – a dark figure – Usher.
EXT. COUNTRY SIDE – NIGHT
The train snakes through the dark. Usher stands on the roof of the car.
FURTHER ON – PRE-DAWN
Usher sitting. He looks up. Dawn is breaking. Opening a hatch in the roof, Usher climbs down inside.
EXT. COUNTRYSIDE – MID-DAY
The train moves on.
INSIDE THE FREIGHT CAR – CONT.
The horses graze in their stalls. Usher watches them, envying their peace. Hearing in his mind, the sound of –
EXT. FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE – PRE-DAWN – (1735)
Galloping horses. Men ride across a field. They are dressed in velvet and rich brocade. At the end of the field, men have gathered; a priest is among them. Torches illuminate the dueling ground. Alone and apart from the others, Usher watches the riders approach. Something has happened – he is no longer happy. He is no longer innocent. He turns as:
Anne approaches from the tree line. A different Anne. Pale, thin, disheveled. A haunted look in her eyes.
This is no place for you.
Robert, I beg of you not to do this. He’ll
Then I’ll be dead. And spared your
… you have no right.
He uses you. Everyone sees but you.
Usher turns as the horses gallop to a stop. WILLEM VAN DER BORG, tosses his reigns to a groom and dismounts. He is handsome, with long, curling hair. Life is amusing to him. He calls out to no one in particular:
VAN DER BORG
All here? Good, let’s get on with it!
I’ve been up all night and I’m tired!
He strips off his coat. He smiles as he sees Usher.
VAN DER BORG
Ah. The English face painter. Ready to
die, are we?
I’ve made peace with God. Have you?
VAN DER BORG
Why should I when I have no intention of
meeting him for quite some time.
(Then; seeing her:)
Anne! How lovely. You can hold my coat.
He tosses it to her. She makes no move to catch it.
Willem… if you do this, I will tell
He moves to her; caresses her; whispers in her hair.
VAN DER BORG
No, you won’t, my darling. You can’t live
Again, the sound of horses. All turn. It’s the black, veiled carriage. It is accompanied by armed footmen. Van der Borg loses his smile at the sight of it.
VAN DER BORG
A cheering section. How appropriate.
The carriage halts. Men race forward to meet it.
VAN DER BORG
Let’s get on with this!
He turns to the dueling ground. Usher stares at Anne, then
turns and follows.
ON THE DUELING GROUND
Van der Borg, his seconds and two stewards are waiting. One
steward holds a polished wooden box.
A challenge has been made. As the one
called to this ground, Lord Van der Borg
has the choice of weapons. He has chosen
pistols. Are you agreed?
You may inspect the weapons.
He opens the box. Resting on velvet are two beautifully
engraved flintlock pistols. Usher stares, uncertain.
Van der Borg laughs.
VAN DER BORG
Look. He hardly knows which end to hold.
Take this one, face painter. I assure you
it works. They both do.
He takes the other; expertly sights; cock the hammer.
AT THE CARRIAGE –
The veil on the window has been parted by a dark gloved hand. An elderly servant stands at the window. He is handed something. He nods and turns.
The servant, Gregor, strides towards the dueling ground,
carrying a plain black wooden box.
VAN DER BORG
My lord, the Countessa requests that you
proceed no further. She says there is no
honor for you in this duel.
VAN DER BORG
Tell her to go to hell.
In that case, it is her request that the challenger use one of her weapons… if he so chooses.
He opens the box – inside are two pistols, as plain as the others are ornate – something deadly in their plainness – on the handles, an inlaid silver adornment – a scythe. Usher immediately decides.
He takes one of the pistols. Scowling, Van der Borg reaches for the other one.
VAN DER BORG
I’m going to shoot you twice, face painter.
First to hear you scream and then to
He turns. Usher steps forward and turns. Back to back.
Ten paces, gentlemen. You may then turn
and fire at will. Are you ready?
VAN DER BORG
Tell my servants to have my bath ready.
A flurry on a drum – and then with successive drum beats –
They step with each beat of the drum; call of the voice. Onlookers, watching. Anne, wild eyed and sick. The gloved hand parting the veil of the carriage window. Usher resolute. Van der Borg not quite as confident as he first appeared; something troubling him.
… eight…. nine…!
And then, just before the call of ten, Van der Borg turns – raises his pistol, takes dead aim –
– so that when Usher turns he is looking straight into the pistol. Van Der Bog fires. Spark ignites powder. The ball creases Usher’s cheek leaving a bloody trail.
Foul, sir! For shame! Foul!
Usher raises his pistol. Van Der Borg, shocked that he missed, brings up the other gun. Too late – Usher fires. Van der Borg’s hand flies up to his right eye. Blood trickles out from beneath his fingers. He falls. His supporters stare in disbelief. And suddenly, someone screams – it’s Anne! Screaming again, she rushes to Van der Borg. She kneels to shake him.
No! Get up! You must get up!
No response. And now she reaches out and take the second pistol from Van der Borg’s hand. She turns, wild eyed and she rushes at Usher, pistol outstretched.
You’ve killed him – killed him! What do
I do now!? How do I live!?
Usher staring at her. But as much as she tries, she can’t pull the trigger.
Oh, Robert… I loved you so.
She turns the pistol, quickly puts it to her head –
– and pulls the trigger. Usher catching her as she falls.
He lowers her to the ground; pleading; trying to catch the spilling blood and put it back. And then – He looks up… and sees something he will never forget.
Willem Van Der Borg is being helped to his feet. He was dead and now he lives. Hand to his ruined eye, he is led towards his horse. All stare, as Van der Borg and his men mount and gallop away towards the distant chateau; dawn now streaking the horizon beyond it.
The rattle of wheels. The carriage moves past. The person inside, face hidden by a black veil, peers out at Usher from behind the curtain. The curtain closes. Usher cradles Anne’s body. The world has gone mad.
EXT. WESTERN SIERRA’S – SUNSET – (1884)
A freight car door SLAMS OPEN. Horses leap OVER us from train to ground. The train has stopped in foothills of the Western Sierras. Usher, wearing a long duster, spurs away from the setting sun and towards the mountains. The two pack horses follow.
IN THE NIGHT –
The rider and horses move on across a huge bowl. Clouds race across the star-lit sky.
LATER – NIGHT
Usher leads the horses along a ridge; dark shadows silhouetted against the moon.
LATER STILL –
Usher slowing, smelling it, a glimmer in the east – dawn.
EXT. WESTERN SIERRA’S – DAY
It rains. Water runs down pass a crevice in the rocks. IN THE SHELTER OF A DARK CAVE – CONT. With pad and charcoal, Usher sketches by fire light. He stops. The sound of rain fills his mind.
EXT. FRANCE – THE VILLAGE – DAY – (1735)
It rains. Usher staggers through muddy streets; hair and beard long and matted, clothes uncared for. He holds out a hand to passersby, begging. They ignore him. He staggers on. And stops as the black carriage passes. Someone peers from behind the dark curtains. Something is thrown – a small purse. Usher picks it up. He pours coins into his palm. The carriage moves on.
EXT. THE PUBLIC HOUSE – DAY
It rains. Usher is thrown out into the muddy street. He tries to rise but is too drunk. He finally collapses face down in a puddle. Hands turn him over. Lift him.
EXT. THE CHATEAU – LATER STILL – DAY
It rains. Usher is in an open wagon. His eyes open. He is passing under a stone arch. His eyes close again.
INT. THE CHATEAU – A BEDROOM – DAY
Usher wakes, naked in bed, on clean sheets. Confused, he
crawls out – and almost falls, upsetting the bedpan on the
floor. He makes his way to the window and peels back the
curtains. He squints in pain as light pours in. In the
courtyard below is the black carriage.
You’re finally awake.
Usher turns. The servant from the dueling ground stands in
the doorway. Carrying a suit of clothes, he enters.
Give me something to drink.
There is water in the pitcher by the bed.
Water is for washing.
I suggest you do that too.
Why am I here? Why have you taken my
You are a guest in the home of the Countessa
Dolingen du Graz. Your clothes have been
burned. Make yourself presentable. She
will see you shortly.
Putting down the suit of clothes, he exits.
INT. CHATEAU – DAY
Usher comes down the stairs. He is dressed; his hair and
beard are roughly combed. Candles flicker. At every
window, heavy curtains are closed, allowing no light in.
Usher turns as Gregor enters.
You’ll do. Barely.
He turns away. Usher hesitates – then follows.
IN AN ELEGANT HALL – MOMENTS LATER
More of the same. Closed curtains. Candlelight.
Why is it so dark in this house.
My lady will answer all your questions.
They pass a painting on the wall. It’s of a beautiful, young
girl with dark hair. Usher stares at it, puzzled – it seems
familiar. They continue on.
IN A DINING ROOM –
Doors opens. Usher enters.
I will tell the Countessa you’re here.
Gregor closes the doors, leaving him. Silver and crystal
glitters on a table set with food – and wine. Moving to it,
Usher pours himself a glass. He gulps it down, needing it.
His eyes settle on two large portraits, side by side, over
the fire place. One is of Willem Van der Borg. The other
is of the dark haired woman; older now.
I was told you were a painter.
Usher turns. MARISA DOLINGEN DU GRAZ is not much changed
from the portrait on the wall. She is early-30’s, elegantly
dressed, her dark hair pulled back. She wears a jeweled
choker around her neck.
There are many works of art in this house.
Feel free to explore when you have the
Is that why you’ve brought me here? To
I thought you might like to eat something
first. I’m told my cook is excellent.
Usher moves to pour himself more wine.
(the other portrait)
Is he here?
No. Willem has left.
(tasting the name for the
Willem. He is your brother?
No. My lover. Was.
Usher drinks; then:
This house is a tomb.
I have an aversion to light. It makes a
normal life most difficult.
There’s nothing normal here.
He drinks; too fast. He breaks into a spasm of coughing.
Drinking yourself to death will not bring
Don’t speak of her!
He coughs harder; spilling the wine. It stains his shirt.
The glass breaks. Gregor enters – alarmed.
It’s all right, Gregor. Bring a clean
shirt for our guest.
Gregor exits. Marisa comes close, touches the stained
breast of Usher’s shirt.
You see? It looks like your heart is
I ask you again. Why have you brought me
to this house?
Marisa stares at the portrait of Willem Van der Borg.
EXT. SAN FRANCISCO – POLICE STATION – DAY (1884)
A carriage clatters up the street and stops. Samuelson and
Rebecca get out. They enter. A police station.
INT. POLICE STATION – DAY
Samuelson, Rebecca and O’Connor make their way down a busy
corridor, past uniformed policeman, suspects, confused
victims and precinct administrators.
They brought him in last night. They
thought he was just another raving bum and
they threw him in the drunk tank. Then he
sobered up and they realized he was just
The devil wants to drink his blood.
Yeah, I thought you’d want to talk to him.
Indeed. Does this madman have a name?
They continue on.
INT. HOLDING CELLS – MOMENTS LATER
A figure sits back in the shadows. Outside the cell,
O’Connor holds up a lantern.
His name is Francis Clark.
The lawyer, Franklin Clark blinks and cowers. Clark is
still in the now ripped and ragged hotel dressing gown he
wore days ago.
Says he’s a lawyer, stayin’ at the Stanford
Hotel of all places.
You might want to hold your nose.
Be good or I’ll knock your head off.
He opens the cell door. Samuelson enters. Clark cowers as
Mr. Clark? My name is Leslie Samuelson.
I’m a doctor. This is Rebecca Ramsey.
She is a law enforcement officer.
Has my… employer sent you?
Your employer. I’m not sure. Who is your
I am not at leave to tell you that.
If you don’t, how can we help you, Mr.
Clark giggles as if the concept of “help” is funny.
Is it day or night outside these walls?
It’s mid afternoon.
Than I’m safe… for awhile longer.
Safe. From what, sir?
These bars will not stop them. Nor will
you. Only God’s light can.
Are you describing what I think you are,
Clark looks frightened – as if the walls have ears.
I’ve said too much. My employer will be
Mr. Clark, I know what it is you’re afraid
of and we can protect you. But you must
talk to me. You must tell me what you
Clark is silent, staring.
I’d like some air, if you don’t mind.
Samuelson glances at O’Connor who shrugs.
We can take him up on the roof. But only
if he behaves himself.
Mr. Clark, if we remove you from this cell,
will you answer my questions?
You have my word.
INT. POLICE PRECINCT – DAY
They ascend a stairway towards the roof, O’Connor in the
lead. Rebecca and Samuelson bring up the rear.
What does light have to do with anything?
The harrower is a creature of night. The
sun burns him, causes him pain.
Does anything else?
Wood, bone, vegetable matter – anything
that possesses anima – that is, life force
or spiritual essence. This is all
conjecture, of course.
I don’t know what’s worse – the things you
talk about or that I’m starting to believe
They ascend to the roof. O’Connor unlocks the door.
Clark, Samuelson and Rebecca move past him.
ON THE ROOF OF THE PRECINCT – CONT.
They come out onto the roof deck. It’s dirty, covered with
pigeon waste, but Clark stares rapturously at the sun and
Are you ready to answer my questions now?
Clark is silent.
Mr. Clark? You gave your word, sir.
I’m a lawyer, sir. I lie.
Francis Clark starts to run towards the edge of the roof.
Mr. Clark! Mr. Clark, stop!
Rebecca bolts towards Clark – Clark diving towards the void,
arms wide – Rebecca lunging; grabbing him – only to be
dragged over the roof’s edge with him – gone.
Samuelson and O’Connor rush forward –
– to find Rebecca beneath the edge, holding to the
wainscotting. They pull her back up. On the street below,
people are starting to gather around the body.
The Stanford Hotel. Did anyone check on
Course not, why would we?
She holds out a scrap of cloth; the breast pocket from
Clark’s tattered robe, emblazoned with a soiled gold “S”
EXT. THE SIERRA NEVADAS – DUSK
The sun is setting as Usher, on horseback, looks down upon
a valley. Open land surrounds a small town.
EXT. CHURCHILL, CALIFORNIA – DUSK
Usher makes his way down the main street. Pedestrians
stare. Business owners peek from windows. Somewhere
there’s a musician; Usher hears a faint piano nocturne.
INT. HOTEL SALOON – CONTINUOUS
The piano player, a pretty girl, 17, falters in her playing.
Her face is streaked with tears.
RAINBOLT is a brutal man, 30’s. He sits at a table, a glass
and bottle of whiskey in front him. The girl stares at her
father who sits at a table near her. He nods, encouraging
her. The bartender and several other locals look on, afraid
and helpless. At another table, Hired Gun 1, grins, showing
stained, decaying teeth
HIRED GUN 1
Ya want, Rainbolt, I’ll make her play.
Three other armed men chuckle, knowing what that means.
Play. Or my friends’ll find somethin’
else for you to do.
She begins to play again. A one eyed man, PEEPS, now calls
from the window.
Ya recognize him?
Ain’t no farmer.
Go see what he wants.
Peeps make his way towards the door.
OUTSIDE – CONT.
Peeps come out and watches as Usher turns his horses to the
rail. Something catches Peep’s eye – on the saddlebag; the
tarnished silver scythe. Usher throws a leg over and drops
to the ground.
You lookin’ for somebody, Mister?
Yes. The bartender.
He moves past Peeps into the saloon.
IN THE SALOON – CONT.
All turn as Usher steps through the doors. Usher takes in
the girl, the gunmen, the frightened locals. He walks to
Peeps enters; nervous for some reason.
At the bar, Usher takes off his hat. Places it down. He
unbuttons the long duster. The bartender approaches.
Help you, sir?
I’m Robert Usher. You wanted to hire me.
The bartender stares at the gun men across the room.
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
He turns away. Rainbolt laughs.
Well, what have we here. This is what you
farmers dug up for protection – a coat?
I’d like a drink, please.
The bartender, Brown, looks towards Rainbolt.
Sure, give him a drink. Give him a whole
A bottle and glass are brought to the Usher. He pours.
I take it you work for William Boyard.
What if I do?
That might be a problem.
Maybe I should leave.
Usher sips his drink. Rainbolt doesn’t look amused any more
– just dangerous. All his men do.
You’re the one leaving, Mister.
Usher turns to the girl at the piano.
Do you want me to leave?
She quickly shakes her head. Usher turns back.
We have a problem.
Rainbolt overturns his table. He and his men go for their
weapons. Usher’s duster billows – beneath it pistols are
holstered at hips and shoulders. He draws and fires.
Hired Gun 2 is blown out of his chair. Peeps is catapulted
through the saloon window. From behind his overturned
table, Rainbolt fires.
Usher twists – in SLO-MO – avoiding the bullets.
The bar mirror behind the bar shatters into a million pieces.
Usher fires. Bullets burst in a line across the table top.
Behind it, Rainbolt screams.
Hired Gun 3 raises a double barrel shot gun. He fires. One
barrel, than the other.
Usher turn away from the first blast like a bullfighter
avoiding a bull. He is unable to avoid the second. The
clump of shot hits Usher, knocking him back and across the
floor. He lies on his back, still.
Hired Gun 3 creeps forward; peering cautiously.
HIRED GUN 3
… I got him. I got him!
Usher sits up, firing from both hands. Hired Gun 3 is
knocked back, across the room and into the piano. The girl
screams and cowers.
Rainbolt drags himself across the floor as Hired Gun 1 and
Hired Gun 4 open fire.
The bullets hit, around and into Usher. He drops the guns
in his hand and cross handed, draws the guns from his
shoulder holsters. He fires.
Hired Gun 1 is blown back into a grandfather clock.
Hired Gun 4 fires, moving behind an overturned table.
HIRED GUN 4
Usher rolls – fires towards the ceiling. The chain holding
a heavy, spiked candelabra is split. Hired Gun 4 looks up
and screams as the spike falls to pin him like a bug to the
Silence. Smoke in the air. Usher rises. The sound of a
muffled cry. Usher spins.
Rainbolt, bleeding from the shoulder and leg, is crouched
against the wall, the girl in front of him. He has a knife
at her throat. He grins weakly.
I’ll cut her like a pig.
Usher flips his guns, handles up – then drops them.
Kick’m over towards me.
Usher does. Still holding the girl, Rainbolt picks up a one
of them and aims it at Usher.
You’re one a them, ain’tcha.
You know what I’m talkin’ about!
Let the girl go, we’ll discuss it.
Rainbolt grips her harder; edges the knife to her throat.
Usher glances at a long shard of mirror on the bar.
Let her go and you can leave.
I said it once. You’re the one leaving.
As Rainbolt’s finger tightens on the trigger, Usher grabs
the shard of glass off the bar. Usher throws as Rainbolt
fires. The bartender, Brown, gasps as the bullet explodes
into Usher’s gut.
The girl screams. The glass shard is embedded in
Rainbolts’s eye. The sobbing girl moves to her father. He
holds her, staring in horror.
Hoofbeats. Outside, Peeps, has pulled himself onto a horse
and now he gallops away.
Brown and the other townsfolk come out from behind whatever
cover they’d found. They stare at Usher. Like Brown, they
saw him hit – or think they did.
Usher closes the duster over his wounds as he turns towards
We can talk now.
He sips his drink.
INT. LAW OFFICE – NIGHT
The town’s lawyer, EMMETT FLOOD, unrolls a map onto his desk.
He, Brown and several others from the bar have come to this
modest office with Usher.
We’re here. Boyard and his railroad are
on the other side of the pass, here. He
wants to blast through here, come across
the valley and hook up with the main line
here. At first he tried to buy us out.
Said we couldn’t stop progress and offered
folks twenty cents on a dollar for their
land. Course nobody took him up on it.
Men started coming around. You saw some
of’m tonight. Some folks, they scared
into sellin’. Burned their crops,
threatened their women and children.
A sallow faced, bitter man, HENSHAW, now speaks up.
They disappeared is what. A man’d go out
to his barn at night and wouldn’t come
back. Not a trace of him, just dust.
The others look frightened now.
Those of us left, try and stay in our homes
now, least when night comes.
And the law?
Boyard owns it. That’s why we turned to
you. We heard about what you done with the
The piano-girl’s father, PRATT, now speaks up.
We don’t have much to pay you but –
Why pay him at all? One man – what good’s
one man gonna do.
He’s good with a gun? Boyard has an army
that is. I say we take what we can and get
out of here – while we can.
What can one man do, Mr. Usher?
I’ll talk to Mr. Boyard. I’m sure we can
come to an understanding.
And if you can’t?
Then you won’t be paying me anything, will
The men all glancing at one another.
We’d like you to try.
INT. SALOON/HOTEL – NIGHT
Brown, holding a lantern, leads Usher up some stairs and down
a dark hallway. They’re on the second floor. Usher
carries his leather saddlebags.
I don’t get guests anymore.
He unlocks a door.
INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT
Brown and Usher enter. Brown lights the lamps in the room.
Shadows flicker across the high raftered ceiling.
It’s not much but I think you’ll be
Usher puts down his bags. He moves to the window. The
street is quiet below.
Something on your mind, Mr. Brown?
It’s armor a’ some kind, ain’t it?
Underneath? That protects you?
Something like that.
Must come in handy.
Usher is silent.
Well. I’ll let you get some sleep.
Brown starts to exit.
Do you have any ice?
Might still be some in the ice house.
Leave it outside the door.
Brown nods – and exits. The lantern flickers.
INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT
The leather cases are open; dirty ice rests on top of the
bottles. Usher sits, stripped to the waist. He raises the
dark bottle in his hand. He drinks. He gasps in pain.
Blood trickels from the corner of his mouth.
The bullets and shot work their way out. They push up out
of his flesh and fall with a clink, to the floor. The wounds
close and heal.
Usher drinks again – and stares into the flame of a lamp.
INT. CHATEAU – FRANCE – NIGHT (1735)
Candles flicker. They reflect off Usher’s bearded face.
He is studying the painting of the Countessa as a young
woman. He looks closer, puzzled.
I was much younger then.
Usher turns. He heard no footsteps. Marisa, as always, is
beautifully dressed – a silk ribbon around her neck.
And now you are supposed to say – oh, no,
Madame, not at all. You are as beautiful
now as you have always been.
This painting can’t be authentic.
Usher’s fingertips graze the painting’s signature.
Jan Vermeer was a Dutch painter who lived
and worked in the mid 1600’s. You can’t
be more than sixteen in this portrait.
You’re kind. I was twenty two when I posed
… that’s impossible.
Come with me.
She turns away. He hesitates –
INT. THE CHATEAU – NIGHT
They move through the chateau. The candles cast long
shadows. The works of art on the walls suddenly seem
ominous to Usher; old – too old – they know secrets.
INT. A BEDROOM SUITE – NIGHT
They enter. Usher looks around nervously. Marisa leads
him towards a huge, ornately framed painting on the wall
The Count Dolingen du Graz. Do you like
The portrait is of a nobleman from the 14th century. He is
on horseback, sword high. Armed men swirl around him.
As was my husband. This was painted the
year he called to the Crusades by the King
of Hungary. 1397.
Now I know you’re mad.
She moves towards the dresser. She reaches for a dagger in
a jeweled sheath. Holding the dagger by the sheath, she
offers it to Usher.
Take it. I said, take it.
He clasps the handle. She pulls the sheath away revealing
the razor sharp blade. And then she reaches out, grabbing
Usher’s wrist, holding him easily.
– what are you doing?
My name is Marisa Van Ott. I was born in
Holland in 1632. When I was 24, the Count
saw me on the streets of Amsterdam. He came
for me that night.
Holding Usher by the wrist, she pulls, burying the blade into
her breast. Blood stains the carpet. Usher pulls away.
Cloth tears. The knife falls. As Usher stares, the
exposed wound between her breasts closes and heals.
He took me – gave me life everlasting.
Gave me everlasting death.
Her face comes close to his. Breathing him in.
Do you believe me now?
Her lips graze his. She shudders and turns away. She move
towards the door. She turns back.
You may still leave this house. I would
do so before it’s too late.
And then she’s gone.
EXT. THE SIERRA NEVADAS – NIGHT – 1884
The valley is a small sea of work and foundry fires that
illuminate the camp and the track that snakes west towards
the darkness of the mountains.
EXT. RAILROAD CAMP – NIGHT
A man clinging to a horse rides into the camp. The camp is
a morass of tents, fires, steam engines and workers. The
man on the horse is Peeps.
Mr. Boyard! I need to see Mr. Boyard!
EXT. RAILROAD CAMP – NIGHT
Dogs move through the camp – viscous mounds of muscle, with
oddly extended canines. CARFAX and BOROSSA, walk behind
them. Peeps limps painfully behind them. An Albino
Indian, White Crow, brings up the rear.
All around them, the work continues by torchlight. Armed
guards see to that. The workers – Irish and Chinese –
glance nervously as the dogs and men pass.
Up ahead, a huge man is silouetted against a foundry fire;
watching the work progress.
Cejka! Seems we had some trouble in town
The man slowly comes into the light. Cejka is an elegantly
dressed black man; tribal scars on his cheeks in contrast
to the neat suit coast, dark vest, white shirt and tie.
Cejka smiles showing sharp filed teeth.
EXT. STANFORD HOTEL – DAY – 1884
On the sign, the same “S” as on Clark’s dressing gown.
INT. STANFORD HOTEL LOBBY – DAY
Rebecca and Samuelson stand waiting in the elegant lobby.
O’Connor now approaches, with the hotel manager, PECKHAM.
He’s still registered. Paid for two full
weeks in advance.
May we see the room?
It’s highly irregular.
Show us the room.
INT. HOTEL HALLWAY – DAY
Peckham leads then down the hallway to a room.
You’re sure Mr. Clark won’t be returning?
I think you can depend on it.
He unlocks the door. They enter.
INT. HOTEL SUITE – CONT.
They enter. There are liquor bottles, clothes, molding
food, on the floor.
Was Mr. Clark a regular guest?
He certainly won’t be again.
Beat it. We’ll call you if we need you.
What exactly are we looking for?
We’ll know it if we find it. Take the
bedroom if you would. Miss Ramsey and I
will look in here.
O’Connor moves into the bedroom. Rebecca and Samuelson
begin to search.
You have a question.
These things, if they exist – where do they
Are you familiar with the legend of Lilith?
According to Hebrew myth, she was Adam’s
Adam in the Bible?
Unlike Eve, who God made from the rib of
Adam, Lilith was made of sediment from the
earth. As was Adam himself. Perhaps
that’s why they didn’t get along. She
took off on him. Went to live by the Red
Sea – a region “abounding in demons, to
whom she bore many children”. “The lilim,
of who it is said, do seduce sleeping men
and drink their blood.”
That’s what you think these are? Lilith’s
It’s a theory.
She looks through the pockets of a suit coat. She stops.
She pulls out a small card – she looks at it intently.
Have you found something?
She hands the card to Samuelson. On one side is the address
of a San Francisco Hotel.
Turn it over.
He does so. On the other side is a scythe.
EXT. CHURCHILL, CALIFORNIA – DAY
The streets are deserted in the rising heat of mid-day.
INT. LAW OFFICE – CONT.
Emmett Flood and Henshaw stand at the window, staring across
at the hotel.
What’s he doin’ up there? What’s he
Shut up, Logan.
INT. THE HOTEL ROOM – CONT.
The room is sweltering; the curtains drawn tight, the
windows covered with blankets. Thin rays of light cut the
murk from the cracked sideboards. Usher sits in a chair;
shirtless, dizzy with the heat, sweating.
CLOSE ON – The sweat droplets are tinged with blood. One
falls to the floor to join others. It slides across the
floorboards and is caught in a ray of light. It sizzles,
turns to vapor… the vapor rises….
INT. USHER’S HOTEL ROOM – SAN FRANCISCO – DAY – (1884)
WHAM! The door bursts open and O’Connor and uniformed
policemen storm in. Samuelson and Rebecca are behind them.
All spreading out as:
Wait, outside, Doctor!
Wait outside yourself, sir!
Till we know it’s safe, wait outside! For
God’s sakes –
She has found the broken, hospital bottles on the floor.
Samuelson hurries over. He kneels to pick one up. He
sniffs – then touches and tastes.
Old dried blood at that.
O’Connor turns – stares – then, quietly:
Doctor, get over here!
Samuelson crosses to see what they’re staring at. The
weapons cases. Old, wooden swords and daggers similar to
what they found in the alley way.
I think we’ve found our man.
O’Connor turns as other officers come out of the bedroom.
They shake their heads.
We ain’t found nothing yet.
Get the desk boy up here. I want to know
all about this tenant.
He won’t know much. He’ll have been paid
not to. Or he’ll be too frightened.
Samuelson moves on; taking it all in. The art. The
simple, elegant furniture.
Remarkable. That’s of Japanese origin.
A tatami on the wall.
This, I think, is from Africa.
A tribal mask. He starts to touches the mask’s fangs.
(horrified and superstitious)
For God’s sake, don’t touch it!
Amused, Samuelson moves on. To the desk.
What have we here.
Newspapers. The same ones Clark saw. The circled photo of
the kidnapped children and their parents.
A reader as well as a traveler.
And then to the side, another front page circled as well –
the clipping and photo on William V. Boyer. Samuelson
stares at it as if it suggests something to him.
Mm? Nothing. Nothing at all.
But he folds and takes the paper. He turns.
On the other side of the room; Rebecca stands, quietly
staring at something on the wall. Samuelson and O’Connor
move to join her. She is staring at the framed
half-finished portrait of Anne Dulapier.
Jesus, it’s you.
We know now why he was so intrigued with
you, my dear.
Rebecca is silent. She stares at the portrait
EXT. CHURCHILL, CALIFORNIA – DUSK
INT. HOTEL ROOM – CONT.
The charcoal sketch that Usher was working on is finished
and on the bureau. It is of Rebecca. Usher stares at it.
He has just finished dressing. He starts to reach for his
holster belt –
HAROLD BROWN (O.C.)
Mr. Usher! Sir, we need you down here a
Usher hesitates – he moves to the door.
IN THE HALLWAY – CONT.
He comes out into the hall. Brown stands at the top of the
stairs, a stricken look on his face.
What is it?
Brown quickly turns back the stairs. The man behind him
wears leather gloves and a dark, floor length robe-like
shroud. His wide-brimmed hat has a long, black veil that
covers his face. No flesh shows anywhere.
Do I know you?
The man takes off his hat and veil as:
Sorry. My complexion. One can’t be too
careful… with the sun.
It’s Cejka. He reaches over his shoulder and pulls a short
wooden throwing spear off his back. He hurls it. We’re ON
the spear as it flies towards Usher. Usher moves –
– evading the spear – it slams into the wall behind him.
Usher vaults off the wall – takes the hallway in several
bounds — towards Cejka who throws a second spear – Usher
twists in mid-air and avoids this one as well – swooping
towards Cejka – who calmly smiles as –
— White Crow and Carfax drops the weighted netting from the
landing above. It takes Usher down, tangled. The netting
is attached to coiled rope on the floor.
We quickly FOLLOW the rope under the door into –
A HOTEL ROOM –
– and to the window where Barossa, also in a long coat and
wide brimmed hat, turns to scream down to the street –
EXT. ON THE STREET BELOW – CONT.
Peeps snaps his whip –
He’s on a wagon. His team of horses breaks forward –
INT. SALOON/HOTEL HALLWAY – CONT.
The rope snaps tight and Usher is pulled like a shot past
Boyard and through the wood door –
INT. HOTEL ROOM – CONT.
– – the door exploding – Barossa diving out of the way – Usher
flies across the room towards the window and –
EXT. THE HOTEL/SALOON – CONT.
– through. In a storm of glass and wood he hurtles to the
street below – and is dragged down the dusty street.
The gathered farmers and town’s people look on as the team
of horses turns and drags Usher back. They comes to a stop.
Usher gasps – caught in the evening light. Exposed flesh
begin to smoke and blister. Peeps is suddenly over him.
Little bright? Maybe we’ll string ya up,
high noon, see what happens.
He kicks Usher. Is about to again when a gloved hand strikes
him, sends him hurtling to the ground – Cejka.
Get him in the box.
Armed men pull a rough hewn coffin out of the back of a black,
enclosed wagon – a hearse.
Nail it shut. Mr. Boyard wouldn’t like
him getting out, would he.
Peeps’s grinning face rears over Usher.
You traveling in style, boy!
A cloth blots out the light.
EXT. MOUNTAIN PASS – NIGHT
Thunder booms and lightening crackles through the
mountains. Boyard, White Crow, Barossa and Carfax lead
the hearse and the armed, mounted men over the pass. The
men hold sputtering torches and glance nervously at the
steep cliff just off to the side. The four cloaked men seem
oblivious to it. Peeps, at the reigns of the hearse; tries
to hide his fear.
Think he’s still alive in there?
Alive enough he’ll pick his teeth with your
Peeps laughing, trying to make it a joke. Carfax dropping
back to say –
And if he don’t, we just might.
He laughs; moves ahead. The grin turns sick on Peeps’ face.
The company moves on.
IN THE HEARSE –
Lightening flickers off the coffin. Thunder echoes.
EXT. THE CHATEAU – FRANCE – LATE IN THE DAY – (1735)
Mist has settled on the chateau, giving it an unearthly
INT. THE CHATEAU – BATHROOM – DAY
A blood flecked straight razor is placed on a counter.
Usher stares at himself in the mirror. His beardless face
is pale and gaunt but the eyes are now alive.
INT. CHATEAU – DINING ROOM – EVENING
Usher is at the table, eating – ignoring the wine. His hair
is combed and pulled back; the clothes neat on him.
It’s good to see you with an appetite.
He starts; looks up. She has again entered without him
hearing her. She approaches, lifts his face.
She turns away. Pours herself wine. She sips.
Where is he?
She looks at him; he glances at the portrait on the wall of
Hilden Van der Borg.
He was one of you?
The count had grown bored and
left me. Willem was beautiful. A sweet
boy. But the gift changed him. Made him
And yet you loved him.
That night on the dueling ground. I hurt
Marisa turns and moves to one of number of the weapons cases
that line the wall. She opens the case and takes down a
dueling pistol. Before Usher’s eyes she expels the pistol
ball out into her hand. It is a dull white.
Bone. From the horn of a ram. Not mortal
but it wounded him terribly.
Your pain will end with your death, his
will last eternity.
She turns away. He rises and follows. There are roses on
a wood table. Marisa inhales their fragrance.
I going to find him. Find him and kill
him. You want this as well. You took me
in for this purpose.
Did I really…
She presses her finger on a thorn; stares at the gem of blood.
I’ll consider your request.
EXT. CHATEAU – EVENING- 1735
On the horizon, a storm is building.
IN THE COURTYARD
Men are working; stacking cord wood under Gregor’s
INT. CHATEAU BEDROOM – NIGHT
Candles burn. Usher sleeps. Caught in a fever dream.
INTERCUT: EXT. THE DUELING GROUND – NIGHT
With successive drum beats –
The call continues.
IN QUICK CUTS – Onlookers watch, still as corpses. Anne is
wild eyed, screaming. The gloved hand parts the veil of the
carriage window. Van der Borg laughs…
Usher turns and looks straight into – CLOSE ON – the muzzle
of a pistol. And then – PULLING BACK – it is Anne holding
Robert… I loved you so.
She raises the pistol to her head.
IN THE COURTYARD
The cord wood falls and rolls.
IN A FLINTLOCK PISTOL
Spark ignites powder, flash sends fiery ball hurtling down
barrel and –
BACK TO – THE BEDROOM – NIGHT
Usher bolts up in bed.
Trembling, breathless… then realizing… it’s a dream.
And then suddenly aware – someone’s in the room.
Who is it… who’s there.
Marisa moves forward into the light.
I, too, fear dreams.
Do you truly know what it is you ask for?
Only hunger. Only darkness.
I have no other reason to live.
She moves to him. She lightly touches
It begins with pleasure… and ends with
Leaning down, she kisses him.
EXT. THE COURTYARD – CONTINUOUS
It has begun to rain. The men are driving something into
place in the middle of the wood pile. Lighten a long,
pointed sting flickers and illuminates it – a long pointed
INTERCUT: INT. THE BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS
Marisa and Usher make love –
Thunder and lightening crash –
Usher gasps as Marisa strikes his throat. His body arches.
More wood. Wet with rain. A mountainous funeral pyre.
Marisa breaks drunkenly away, blood on her mouth. Her pale
skin is suffused with it.
In the courtyard, the men dump kerosene.
Marisa undoes the choker that she wears around her neck.
Beneath it are old puncture wounds. They begin to bleed.
The servants saddle a stallion and a pack horse.
Usher and Marisa move together. Marisa’s mouth is again at
Usher’s throat, taking him to the edge of death.
The horse rears in fear as the lightening flashes.
Usher’s mouth is at Marisa’s throat. She cries out.
Saddle bags are filled with gold and jewels – coins tumble
to the soaked ground.
Usher arches, screaming –
– lightning crackles –
The lightning is in Robert Usher’s eyes.
THE BEDROOM – NIGHT
They lie on the bed, apart. Not looking at one another.
Go now. Never look back.
He quickly rises.
INT. CHATEAU –
Dressed, Usher hurries down a stairs –
IN THE DINING HALL –
The glass case is smashed. Usher grabs for the flintlock
pistols. He spills bowls of white balls of bone –
IN THE COURTYARD –
Usher races into the courtyard – the stallion rears – Usher
looks up towards the balcony above – at Marisa – he leaps
into the stallion’s saddle and spurs the horse towards the
courtyard gate –
OUTSIDE THE GATE – CONT.
– then out and on, away –
BACK TO – THE COURTYARD
From the balcony, Marisa looks down. Gregor is below,
waiting. Marisa nods. Gregor bows, and turning, throws
a torch into the pile of wood. It bursts into flame.
IN THE CHATEAU –
Servants move through the house with torches, setting
IN THE GREAT HALL –
Fresh cut roses wilt in the heat. The portrait of Marisa
as a young woman withers and cracks.
ON THE ROAD –
Beyond Usher, fire illuminates the chateau.
ON THE BALCONY
Marisa steps up onto the balcony’s edge. She stares into
the distance. And then she throws herself down into the
burning pyre – to impale herself on the stake.
ON THE ROAD –
The stallion rears and turns as fire bursts into the sky –
IN THE COURTYARD –
A soft smile is on Marisa’s face. The flames consume her.
ON THE ROAD –
Usher spurs the horse on. The chateau burns against the
EXT. THE SIERRA NEVADAS – DAY – 1884
The sun. It beats down on the railroad camp. It is a
wasteland of uprooted trees, scorched earth and broken
EXT. RAILROAD CAMP – DAY
The men and women that aren’t working, sit around cooking
fires senseless with fatigue. With them are dirty,
hollowed eyed children.
On a side track is an elegant looking railroad car.
Behind it is a cage, only partially shaded from the sun.
A small lizard skitters along the edge of the cage. A hand
flashes out to grab it. Usher. He raises it to his mouth.
He stops. A tiny, ragged child is staring at him. The
child turns and hurries away.
(O.C.)They good at diggin’ in tight places.
Peeps has approached from the other side.
Children. Case you’re wonderin’.
You think you’re something, don’tca?
You’re not. You’re like them. Can’t
even show your face in day light less it’s
Usher feints at Peeps. Startled, Peeps falls over
backwards. Furious, he scrambles up.
We’ll see how tough you are. We’ll see.
He turns away. Usher glances up at the sun overhead. He
moves, clinging desperately to the sliver of shade. The sun
beats down, brighter, hotter… to become –
EXT. SPANISH PYRENEES – NIGHT – (1764)
Torches in the distance. A group of riders approach.
They come up to a cross roads and stop. A haggard looking
Usher looks around in confusion.
(In English, then Spanish)
What’s wrong, why are we stopping? Why
are we stopping?
The mercenary points up. Above them the lights of a village
glow against the black of the mountain.
We go no further.
I’ll double the fee.
What good is money when you’re dead?
The mercenary and his men spur their horses away.
EXT. MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – PYRENEES – NIGHT
Usher comes into the small village on horseback. It seems
EXT. VILLAGE INN – NIGHTUsher dismounts. He enters the Inn.
INT. VILLAGE INN – NIGHT
Villagers glance up and then look away as Usher enters and
moves to the bar. The innkeeper won’t meet his eyes.
I’m looking for a man. Pale, tall, like
The man hesitates, then glances meaningfully towards the
ceiling. Usher turns for the stairs. He turns back:
Why is your village deserted?
Death walks at night.
Usher turns for the stairs.
UPSTAIRS – NIGHT-
Usher comes to the second floor landing and moves down the
narrow hallway. He draws a flintlock pistol from his coat.
Reaching a door, he hesitates, then opens it –
IN THE ROOM –
Usher enters. A long haired man sits, his back to the door,
trimming his moustache and goatee in a small mirror.
Usher’s reflection appears in the mirror. Usher raises the
pistol, his hand trembling.
There you are. About time. Are you going
to shoot me? Be my guest.
A moment. Something about the pistol… small, deadly…
On second thought, perhaps not.
He spins and throws – the scissors pierce Usher’s hand. The
pistol clatters to the floor. Usher stares. The man is not
Willem Van der Borg. It is the man in the portrait, the
Count Dolingen du Graz. Usher pulls the scissors from his
hand – the blood retreats, the wound heals.
Well, well. The plot, like blood, does
(Turning back to the mirror)
Have we met, Cousin? If we have, I don’t
think I’ve given you cause to shoot me.
I saw your portrait on a bedroom wall.
One of my wife’s lovers? How is she?
(a moment; softly)
…by who’s hand?
Is that why you’ve been following me? To
tell me this?
No. I thought you were the one who
EXT. THE MOUNTAIN PATH – NIGHT
Horses come down the path. Usher and Graz on two of them.
The count is now dressed for travel.
FURTHER ON –
They stop at the crossroads.
The Count spits. The breeze takes his saliva.
He gallops on. Usher follows.
THE ROAD – NIGHT
The horses walk, side by side. Usher is weakening.
You look dreadful. What have you been
living on? Sheep? Field mice?
Graz snorts in disgust. He lifts a leather sack off his
horse’s neck; offers it.
What is it?
The local sheriff. A very unpleasant man.
I bottled it myself.
Usher hesitates; drinks. He sighs in relief
LONG ANGLE ON –
Do you only take unpleasant men?
No. I only take men – and women – who are
unpleasant to me.
EXT. A SPANISH TOWN – DAWN
The horses gallop towards the town.
Make haste! The sun is rising!
EXT. A CHURCH – DAY
The afternoon sun bakes down on the town church.
It is dark and cool. Graz, his eyes closed, kneels in front
of the altar in prayer. Usher paces in front of the pews,
impatient and restless.
Pacing does not make the time go faster.
What if we’re discovered here?
This is a church, no one shows their face
here till Sunday. Besides, I’ve paid the
He crosses himself and rises.
LATER – EVENING
The setting sun throws light through stained glass, creating
colors on the wall. Usher sits, watching, mesmerized.
Graz seems to be asleep. But then:
The one you search for. What’s his name?
Willem. Willem van der Borg.
I knew his family. What will you do when
you find him?
You’re a fighter, are you?
I’m a painter of portraits. Was.
Graz rises and crosses to his belongings. He pulls swords
from their scabbards. He flips one, offers the hilt to
Usher who hesitates.
Come, it will pass the time.
Usher takes the sword. He holds it awkwardly. Graz smiles
and pushes Usher’s sword tip up.
All fighting takes place within an
imaginary circle. The circle defines the
swordsman’s perimeter of defense. The
blade is held forward. So.
With a sudden movement, Graz extends his arm so that his
sword is barely touching Usher’s nose. Usher backs away.
Graz moves forward, sword point never wavering.
The circle moves as the adversaries move.
It is not fixed, it is fluid in space.
Usher’s back bumps into a pillar – he has no place left to
retreat. Graz smiles. He backs away.
Defensive actions are performed with the
sword in front and the line of attack
covered. Attack me. I said, attack.
Usher thrusts, clumsy. Graz flicks his sword upward.
Usher thrusts again. Graz meets the blade and with a twist,
forces it down.
Flustered and angry, Usher attacks, flailing. Graz
gracefully retreats, flicking the blows away.
Graz goes on an effortless attack, forcing Usher back.
With a final flick, he disarms Usher completely. The sword
point rests against Usher’s throat.
Don’t treat me like a fool.
The man you seek has been trained in the
sword since boyhood. I’d say a fool is
exactly what you are.
Graz turns away.
That’s enough for now. It’s getting dark.
Usher glances up. The colors on the wall are gone.
EXT. THE TOWN – SUNSET
Usher and Graz move down a town street. Merchants and
vendors are completing the last of the day’s business. Graz
is luxuriously dressed – enough to draw stares. From a
second floor window, women survey the street. Their hair
hangs loose, their breasts spill out of low cut bodices.
They giggle and wave.
just what we’re looking for!
INT. TAVERN/BROTHEL – NIGHT
Crowded, boisterous and noisy. Graz and Usher are at a
table surrounded by women. As the owner brings tankards of
ale and wine, Graz throws gold on the table.
More! For everyone!
Cheers and laughter. Only Usher is silent.
You don’t seem happy, cousin.
I don’t know what we’re doing here.
I call it fishing for rats. And we’re
Across the room, several rough looking men are staring.
EXT. INN/BROTHEL – NIGHT
Usher and Graz come out into the now deserted street.
Revelers are asking them to stay.
Thank you, thank you! Yes, of course,
we’ll be back tomorrow!
Drunken laughter. They move on.
Well, thank Christ, that part’s over.
EXT. ANOTHER STREET – NIGHT
They move down the cobbled street; Graz whistling softly.
I still don’t –
Shhh. We’re being followed. Two behind
us, two over there. This way.
They turn into a narrow walk-way.
EXT. WALK WAY – NIGHT
They move down the walkway. It opens up onto a secluded
square; a stone fountain of a spear-carrying angel in the
Yes, this will do. And just on time.
We seem to be lost! Can you help us?
We’ll pay you for your trouble.
Two of the men from the tavern step out of the walkway. One
holds a cudgel, the other a short sword. Two others enter
the square from another direction, daggers drawn.
Oh, dear. I don’t think they’re friendly.
The men attack. They have no chance. Graz kicks,
rocketing a heavy set attacker back into his accomplice.
Hardly turning, he grabs the descending knife hand of the
third attacker and twists, breaking an arm.
(to the forth attacker)
Too late – the man is rushes forward. He thrusts.
Impossibly, Usher slides past the blade. Grabbing the man,
he drives him headfirst into the stone fountain. Usher
turns to see Graz break Attacker 3’s neck. The first two
robbers cower against a wall. Graz smiles.
Well. Mine’s attractive but yours is
Usher suddenly realizes what this is about. Hunting rats.
The men’ eyes widen as Graz approaches.
EXT. THE VILLAGE – NIGHT
Blocks away. The night is broken by screams.
INT. THE CHURCH – LATER THAT NIGHT
BLOOD turns the holy water crimson. Graz is washing his
Is this what you what it is, going from town
to town, catching rats?
One’s got to eat.
It passes the time. Some advice, cousin.
You want to keep living? Keep busy. If
not, die of monotony.
Graz turns away.
INT. THE CHURCH – DAY
The pews have been cleared. Both shirtless, Graz and Usher
fence back and forth across the stones.
Tacto. Feel the blade. Feel your
adversary through it.
They fight on.
IN THE CHURCH – DAY
The lessons continue. Usher is improving dramatically.
Passos mas pefectos! Movement is your
ally, your shield.
He hits Usher several times with the side of his blade for
– you cannot hurt what you cannot hit!
IN THE CHURCH – DAY
They duel, now using parrying daggers as well as rapiers.
Awareness. Look for the opening. No!
Graz drives Usher back and with a twist of his sword, disarms
him. He moves in; his dagger to Usher’s throat.
You’re still thinking like a human being!
How can I?
By not thinking at all.(Raising his sword)
Again. Don’t think – just do.
They fight on. For the first time it happens – Usher takes
to the air – at least that’s how it seems. The walls and
arches of the church become springboards for their duel.
Faster! Now counter! Don’t stop!
Usher fights harder. Sword to sword, dagger to dagger,
faster and faster. And this time it is Usher who finally
drives Graz back and with a twist of his sword, he moves in;
his dagger to Graz’s throat.
Good. Perhaps too good.
Graz glances down. His own dagger hovers at Usher’s groin.
Usher lowers his dagger.
It’s time to leave this place.
He turns away.
LATER – EVENING
Usher watching as in front of the altar, Graz finishes his
prayers. He crosses himself, rises.
What do you pray for?
Salvation, of course. One for the road?
Usher hesitates –
INT. TAVERN/BROTHEL – NIGHT
A quieter evening – but still –
(throwing out coins)
More! For everyone!
(Then, to Usher:)
Some new mice are in town.
At a table across the room, a group of highwaymen sit,
drinking. One of them raises his tankard in toast.
I don’t think so, not tonight.
EXT. TAVERN/BROTHEL – NIGHT
Usher and Graz come out into the street.
Thank you, thank you! Parting is such
I’ll wait for you at the church.
I’ll bring left overs.
They go in different directions.
EXT. ANOTHER STREET – NIGHT
Graz moves down the cobbled street, whistling softly. He
hears footsteps behind him. He turns into the walk-way.
EXT. TOWN SQUARE – NIGHT
Graz enters the square, the fountain with the angel in front
of him. Shadowy figures move in the darkness.
Sirs, some help if you please! I’ll pay
you for your trouble.
He jingles the coins in his purse. PHWOOMP! Something
sings out of the alley and hits Graz in the chest. He looks
down in disbelief. The bolt, 10 inches long, is made of
wood. Men comes out of the shadows. Graz tries to draw his
sword. PHWOOMP! Another bolt buries itself in his chest,
knocking him back against the fountain.
EXT. THE VILLAGE – NIGHT
The sound of Graz screaming.
EXT. THE CHURCH – NIGHT
Usher throws a saddle onto a horse; buckles it into place.
The other horse and the pack animal are ready. He looks up,
hearing that faint scream on the wind. A sound; a skitter
on stone. Usher looks around. Nothing. He turns back.
The horse is skittish. He bends to adjust the belly strap.
A man races out of the dark – and drives a long knife into
the breast of the horse.
The horse screams and rears. Its hoof clips Usher’s head
and he goes down. Men are quickly around him and he kicks
out, breaking a knee. He starts to rise – a bone club hits
him. Falling, he strikes behind him, crushing a man’s ribs
– the club hits him again – on the ground now, looking up
– a wooden sword thrust towards his face – another and
another. He is surrounded by grim faced men.
EXT. THE TOWN – NIGHT
Surrounded, Usher is led through the town. People watch
nervously from the shadows.
FURTHER ON –
Usher is taken down the walkway.
IN THE SQUARE –
Usher and his captors comes out of the walkway and into the
square. Usher stops, frozen –
A body hangs from the arms of the angel, impaled on the
angel’s sword. Usher rushes to him. Graz opens his eyes.
Looking down, he forces a smile.
Of all the deaths I ever dreamed of…
PWOMPH! – a wooden bolt buries itself in Graz’s neck. Usher
A tall figure emerges from the dark; richly dressed, hair
long and curled – a patch over one eye. A small, lethal
looking, pistol crossbow is mounted on his forearm.
VAN DER BORG
Hello, face painter.
Usher stares a moment. He turns back. Watches as Graz
quickly turns to ash and is blown away.
VAN DER BORG
What a shame. We were related.
He casually reloads his crossbow as Usher rises.
VAN DER BORG
You’ve been searching for me, Robert.
That is your Christian name, isn’t it? I
find that amusing as I’ve been looking for
you as well. Would you like to see it?
Van der Borg raises his eye patch – and shows a horribly
scarred socket and white, sightless eye.
VAN DER BORG
What do I charge you for this face, Robert?
What price shall you pay?
Kill me if you can. Be done with it.
VAN DER BORG
Just what I was thinking. But slowly.
He raises his arm. As he fires the bolt, Usher lunges for
the nearest sword blade. Clasping it, jerks the man
forward. The bolt slams into the man, through him and out
his back. Usher pulls the bolt free. He drives its point
into the man behind him – grabs for his sword –
VAN DER BORG
Stop him, you fools!
A man thrusts. Usher parries and cuts. The man falls into
the horse behind him. As another man raises a pistol, the
horse rears and kicks, dashing the man’s brains in.
Usher leaps for the saddle’s pommel. Wham! A bolt from Van
der Borg’s bow slams into the saddle inches from his face.
Usher pulls himself into the saddle. Men rush forward but
then fall back as Usher’s sword cuts them down.
Van der Borg quietly watches.
Usher hefts his sword – and throws. The sword just misses
Van der Borg and slams into the wall behind him. A lock of
his hair flutters to the ground.
I will kill you, Willem.
VAN DER BORG
Perhaps another time
Usher turns away. He horse races at us – leaps –
EXT. THE RAILROAD CAMP – SUNSET – 1884
The setting sun is a glimmer beyond the mountains.IN THE CAGE
Usher is dozing. His eyes snap open. Barossa, Carfax and
White Crow approach. Peeps behind them. Carfax holds the
dogs on a leash. Barossa is holding a shotgun. White Crow
has a long, double bolted crossbow. The razor sharp heads
are white bone.
He can put it through a flying bird at a
hundred paces. That doesn’t do it, the
The dogs slaver – harrower dogs. Barossa opens the cage.
Usher crawls forward.
Uh – sirs? – Mr. Barossa? Can I be a part
You can be the guest of honor.
Barossa. I’ve heard of you. You’re old.
It’s come to this?
They turn and move towards the railroad car.
INT. RAILROAD CAR – MOMENTS LATER
They enter. At the end of the elegant compartment, William
Boyard reclines in a barber’s chair, a silk cloth covering
him; his back to the room. He is being shaved with a
straight razor by Cejka.
Here he is, Mr. Boyard.
Make him comfortable.
Usher’s manacles are locked to a heavy chain that brackets
to the wall.
Wiping his cheeks, Boyard turns so that Usher – see his face.
Handsome. Barbered. A black patch over the right eye.
Willem Van der Borg.
Just in time for dinner, Robert.
Usher stares. Launches himself forward – only to be brought
up short by the length of chain, his face inches from
Say hello to our guest, Cejka.
Cejka steps forward. Straight razor in hand, he backhands
Usher in the face. The cuts bleeds – quickly and painfully
Cejka. I found him in a slave market in
Charleston. After I turned him loose on
his former masters, he was very grateful.
And loyal. I prize loyalty, Robert. Of
all things, I think I prize loyalty the
most. Peeps, for example, is not loyal.
Peeps gapes. All eyes in the room are suddenly on him. He
glances nervously from face to face.
Peeps ran from you, Robert. He didn’t
stay to die with his friends. I expect
people to die for me. Don’t you?
Cejka spins – the hand holding the straight razor flicks out.
Spurting blood hits his cheek. Peeps stands gasping, his
Dinner is served, gentlemen.
Usher moves. Vaults the length of the car to get to White
Crow. Usher grabs the crossbow, forcing it down – the
crossbow discharges and the bolt slams through White Crow’s
booted foot into the floor. White Crow screams. Usher
wrenches the crossbow free and bringing it up, clubs White
Crow under the chin, knocking him back. He turns, fires the
second bolt –
Inches from his face, Boyard catches the arrow.
You’re still trapped, Robert.
THE TRAIN CAR – CONTINUOUS
Usher bursts through the side of the car in a storm of metal
and wood. He lands hard and rolls. Spinning to his feet,
BACK TO – THE BEDROOM –
He ran through the wall!
If he escapes, you’ll be in that cage come
Cejka moves forward and leaps down like a great cat.
As Cejka moves forward, he begins stripping off his fine
EXT. THE CAMP – NIGHT
Usher moves through the camp. Workers stare; woman clutch
their children as he races past – he’s dirty, burned and
bloody; chained manacles dangling.
EXT. THE CAMP – CONT.
The dogs are raving; champing at the leash. Carfax lets
The dog’s POV – GROUND LEVEL AND MOVING – as they race past
fires and people who shy away, frightened.
The dogs, race through the camp, silent as sharks.
EXT. THE CAMP – CONT.
Usher is moving towards some parked railroad cars on the when
he hears them. He turns.
The dogs’ POV – ON Usher – as they close.
Scrap metal on the ground. Usher picks a piece up and flings
it. It hits the first dog in the throat and it goes down.
The other leaps –
The dog drives Usher back and down.
Usher holds the slavering jaws at bay. Baring his teeth,
he goes for the beast’s throat.
FURTHER BACK –
A dog’s sudden yelp of agony stops Carfax in his tracks.
BACK TO –
Usher rises; spitting fur and flesh. He turns away. A
bull whip snaps – it wraps around Usher’s neck like a snake.
Choking, grabbing at the whip, Usher turns.
You killed my babies. I fed’m on my own
blood and you killed’m!
Usher spins away. Carfax coils the whip.
I’m gonna skin you inch by inch.
The two men circling. And then Carfax’s arm flies – the
whips snaps. Usher spins away. The whip leaves a bloody
welt on his shoulder. Again, Carfax snaps the whip.
Taking the blow on his arms, Usher grabs the leather and
pulls a surprised Carfax towards him.
Join your dogs.
He drives his fist into Carfax’s body. Wrenches it out. He
strips the whip off his arms. He turns away.
A railroad locomotive and several cars are passing. Usher
runs – leaps –
Usher leaps towards the top of the moving car. The two foot
bolt takes him in mid-jump, hits him in the shoulder, spins
him, knocking him into the side of the car. He falls.
Tries to rise.
White Crow; limping but still alive, raises the crossbow and
is about to fire the second bolt when he is viciously knocked
to the ground – by Cejka.
Cejka’s naked, muscled torso is covered with tribal scars
and tattoos. He starts towards Usher, smiling with
amusement; all the time in the world…
Breaking the bolt off at his shoulder, Usher rolls away –
rolls under the wheels of the moving freight car. Cejka
smile disappears – he races down the side of the train.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRAIN –
Cejka appears. Eyes searching. Usher is gone. The train
ON ANOTHER PART OF THE TRACK – LATER
Usher drops from the bottom of the train into the track. He
lies, badly hurt. He finally rises and stumbles on.
EXT. THE CAMP – CONT.
Barossa and Boyard, both armed, move through the camp.
I have men all along the perimeter of the
camp – he won’t get away.
He’ll go through them like a knife through
butter. Just slow him down. Cejka will
take care of the rest.
What the hell…
approaches. Samuelson is at the reigns, Rebecca Ramsey
next to him. They are accompanied by armed riders on
horseback. The lead rider, GRIFFIN, has a marshal’s badge.
Samuelson leaps down from the wagon.
Good evening! William Boyard, I presume.
I hope we’re not interrupting anything.
As a matter of fact, you are. We work in
the cool of night here. It’s really not
the time for guests. Marshall Griffin
should know that.
Yes, the problem is we’re not guests, are
They’re Federal agents, Mr. Boyard.
Gotta give’m full cooperation.
Of course. What brings you here, Mr….?
Samuelson. Doctor Lesley Samuelson.
ANGLE ON –
The men talking; surrounded by the Marshall and his
deputies. The wagon. Rebecca.
REVERSE ON –
Usher is beneath a railroad car.
BACK TO –
We here on behalf of one, Francis Clark,
sir. We were made to believe he was your
I have any number of attorney’s.
I’m sure. But unlike the others this one
is dead. We have reason to believe Mr.
Clark was involved with a man we’re looking
for. It would appear this man is also
interested in you.
Really. In what way.
We were hoping you could tell us that.
The wagon’s horses whinny, taking Boyard’s attention.
Rebecca moves to calm them and her face comes into the torch
light. The sight of it takes Boyard by surprise.
Doctor, if anyone dangerous expresses the
slightest interest in me, I’ll certainly
let you know. In the mean time, I’m quite
He starts to turn away.
Mr. Boyard. I know a bit about you, sir.
You’ve been the subject of two criminal
investigations. People seem to go
missing when you’re around. How do you
No, of course you wouldn’t.
Well. There’s a town nearby. We’ll
adjourn there for the night and come back
tomorrow. Perhaps you’ll be more
inclined to chat during daylight hours.
Or perhaps not.
Samuelson turns away. He moves to the carriage.
If I see them again, I’ll butcher you.
He turns away.
ANGLE ON –
Samuelson and Rebecca mount the wagon. Rebecca has been
taking in the camp and the workers.
We’ve stumbled into hell.
Yes. And that’s the devil.
Picking up the reigns, he starts the horses moving. Across
the camp, Cejka watches them go. He turns to stare at the
place where Usher was hiding.
EXT. THE TRAIL – NIGHT
Men and wagon move down a moon-lit trail. They reach a fork
in the trail.
I’ll take it from here, boys.
Shouldn’t we stay together?
Don’t need more’n one to show you the way.
The men are moving down one fork. Rebecca looks at the other
– looks up – the trail leads up and over the mountain.
ON THE MOUNTAIN TRAIL – LATER THAT NIGHT
The wagon moves slowly. There is a steep incline to the
side. The wheels dislodge rocks that rattle down the slope
towards a drop. Samuelson is at the reins.
You’re sure this is the best way to go?
It’s the only way.
Suddenly something creeks and the wagon lurches and drags
towards the incline. The horses whinny and rear in their
traces. Samuelson quiets them.
He sets the brake and leaps down. He moves around the wagon
and kneels, peering down.
We seem to have picked up something in the
He glances up – to see Griffin come at him with a rifle in
Rebecca – !
Griffin swings the rifle butt, striking Samuelson down.
Rebecca leaps off the other side of the wagon. Her hands
go to her bag and she pulls out a small, efficient looking
Griffin fires – the bullet takes out a chunk of wood. Griffin
chambers another round and moves down the side of the wagon.
Ain’t nowhere to run to, little girl.
Rebecca rises, levels the pistol.
Drop the gun!
Griffin brings up the rifle. Rebecca fires. Griffin
staggers back, towards the slope – fights for balance – and
falls. With a cry, disappears into the dark.
A moment. She moves to Samuelson. His head is bleeding he
blinks, stunned and half conscious.
Rebecca yelps as a hand claps her wrist hard. She fights
– wrenches her hand free and falls back, frightened. And
sees who it is.
… get me to shelter… before dawn.
And then he passes out.
EXT. CHURCHILL, CALIFORNIA – NIGHT
The wagon comes into town, Rebecca at the reins. The wagon
pulls to a stop in front of the saloon/hotel. Rebecca leaps
down. She moves to the door and bangs. Bangs harder. A
window above opens.
Who is it down there!?
I’m a federal officer! We need help!
INT. THE BAR/SALOON – NIGHT
Brown and Rebecca drag Usher in and put him on a table.
Samuelson, sick and dizzy, a cloth to his head, follows.
Get me some clean water.
Brown moves to the bar. Rebecca lights a lantern; brings
it close. Usher’s face and body are matted with blood and
dirt. The bolt of wood is still in his shoulder.
Brown brings a basin of water. Rebecca rips her dress; wets
it. She wipes at Usher’s face.
He’s not bleeding. These wounds, I’m not
sure if that’s a good sign or bad.
Usher softly moans; he whispers something.
He’s sayin’ something.
Usher tries to reach for the bolt in his shoulder.
He wants it out.
I’ll do it.
He tries to rise. He totters.
Be still. I will.
Rebecca wraps the piece of cloth around the bolt for a grip.
She pulls. Usher groans.
You’re going to have to push it through.
Rebecca hesitates; looks at Brown.
I don’t know nothin’ about this.
Rebecca looks down at Usher. He is staring up at her.
Hold him up.
As Brown sits Usher up, Rebecca takes a pistol. She reverse
it; holds it by the barrel like a hammer. She holds it over
the bolt – looks up at Usher. She slams the pistol butt
down, driving the bolt out his back. Usher groans. His
lips draw back and Rebecca sees his teeth. She reaches
behind, grabs the barbed end and pulls it free. Usher’s
body goes convulses as he passes out. Brown lowers him to
We killed him.
Rebecca is staring at the bolt – the barbed tip is of carved
He made it this far, he’ll make it a little
She puts the bolt aside; glances towards Samuelson who’s
eyes are closed.
Get the doctor upstairs into a bed. I’ll
finish up here.
Brown moves to Samuelson and helps him out of the chair.
They moves towards the stairs. Rebecca tears and wets
another piece of her dress. She begins to clean Usher’s
wounds. She starts, as his fingertips gently touch her
hand. She looks up. Usher is staring at her again. He
closes his eyes. Rebecca resumes her work.
EXT. CHURCHILL, CALIFORNIA – DAY
The sun beats down, hazy. Rebecca comes out of the general
store. She glances up, then crosses the street towards the
hotel. She carries a cloth covered tray.
INT. LAW OFFICE – CONT.
In the law office, Brown, Flood and Logan Henshaw stand at
the window, watching her progress.
Ain’t right, a woman working for the
You want to go tend to’m?
Tell you one thing. By all rights, that
man should be dead.
If he is a man.
(Back to the window)
Who knows. By now maybe he is dead.
Henshaw glowers. Across the street, Rebecca enters.
INT. SALOON/HOTEL – A ROOM – DAY
Samuelson lies on a bed, feverish, half dozing, a blood
stained cloth on his head. He opens tired eyes as Rebecca
softly knocks and enters.
I brought you food.
I don’t think I could eat. How is our
I’m going to check on him now.
She turns away.
Rebecca. Is his the face you saw?
Take care… he is not as he seems.
EXT. SALOON/HOTEL – CONT.
Rebecca moves down the hall. Taking out a key, she unlocks
INT. THE ROOM – CONT.
The room is dark – and empty. She enters, peering through
Behind her, Usher drops silently from the ceiling. Rebecca
turns – and gasps. Usher moves and falls weakly into a
Locking the door won’t work if I wish to
I brought you food.
It’s not food I need.
Why are you helping me?
My father’s sick. You can save him.
Why would I do that?
You saved those children.
Their parents paid me.
I’ll pay you.
I want – need – blood.
Her hand goes to her mouth in horror. She shakes her head.
Then run before I take it.
Rebecca hurries from the room.
She pulls the door closed behind her. She locks it. She
leans against it, terrified.
EXT. THE RAILROAD CAMP – DAY
A man on horseback rides into the camp. He stops in front
of the armed men. REVERSE ON – It’s Emmett Flood.
I want to see Mr. Boyard.
INT. RAILROAD CAR – DAY
Boyard and Cejka listen intently.
They came in last night. The gunman and
the doctor were badly hurt. Nobody but
the girl’s seen them since.
(glancing at Cejka)
Why are you telling me this, Mr. – ?
Flood. Emmett Flood. I know when I’m
beat. I want out. I figured this is
worth something to you.
It is indeed. Cejka, reward Mr. Flood.
ON BOYARD – Not even looking as we hear the sound of a choked
INT. HOTEL ROOM – DAY
Samuelson, pale and feverish, lies on his bed, eyes closed.
Usher steps out of the shadows. He sees the pulse in the
throat; the almost imperceptible surge of blood through
Go ahead. I doubt I could stop you under
the best of circumstances.
You’re Samuelson. The harrower chaser.
It would appear I’ve finally caught one.
And what will you do with me.
I’m afraid that was never fully
Usher touches the wound on his own shoulder. His fingers go
in and come out dripping blood. He steps forward and places
his bloody fingers on Samuelson’s head bandage. Samuelson
shudders. The blood on the bandage seems to shimmer and
draw back into the wound. Color returns to Samuelson’s
face; dullness leaves his eyes.
Boyard will be coming. Take the girl and
He turns away.
DOWNSTAIRS – LATER
Rebecca looks up to see Samuelson comes down the stairs.
He looks as if in a daze.
(looking at her in wonder)
It’s true. It’s all true.
(Stripping off the bandage)
Look. Not even a scar. My god, what this
means… I need help. We’ve got to get to
the local authorities.
The local authorities went over a cliff
Before Samuelson can reply, the door bursts open and Brown
Emmett Flood’s gone!
OUTSIDE IN THE STREET –
Brown is trying to calm a group farmers and townspeople.
He’s disappeared – just like the others –
We don’t know that.
He wouldn’t a took off on us – not Emmett.
I say that thing up there is responsible.
And you all know what I’m talking about!
Others shout in agreement.
Perhaps you’d like to tell him that
Samuelson and Rebecca have come out of the saloon behind
He’s upstairs. Go on. Tell him.
The crowd is silent.
I didn’t think so. William Boyard and his
men are coming. Are you prepared to
fight for your homes?
Then gather your things and leave. Your
friend has either run or he’s dead by now.
He turns back into the saloon/hotel. Rebecca follows.
INT. THE SALOON – CONT.
Samuelson and Rebecca enter. Samuelson moves to the bar to
pour himself a drink. He needs it.
Boyard. He’s one of these things, isn’t
Some of his men too, I imagine.
And they’re coming to kill him?
It’s likely. As mentioned, they don’t
like one another much, do they.
Rebecca starts for the stairs.
Rebecca, wait, we should leave with the
The hell with that.
She keeps going up the stairs.
INT. HOTEL ROOM – CONT.
Usher is loading one of his pistols. The bullets come out
of a small case, lined with neat rows of cartridges. The
casings are brass but the bullet tips are bone white.
INT. THE HOTEL HALLWAY – CONT.
Rebecca comes up the stairs and moves down the hallway.
Getting to the closed room, she thrusts it open –
INT. HOTEL ROOM – CONT.
She enters. Usher turns.
Do it – before I change my mind.
He moves to her. His face comes close to hers as if he’s
breathing her in. He leans gently in to the curve of her
throat. She gasps as he bites. After a moment, he pulls
away; eyes closed. She stares in both wonder and horror as
the wounds on his face begin to heal. She tries to move
away. He holds her. She cries out as he takes her – her
body arches and her head goes back.
EXT. CHURCHILL – DAY
Loaded wagons and horses move down main street towards the
outskirts the town. Brown watches from the porch of his
hotel/saloon. He turns and retreats inside.
INT. SALOON/HOTEL – CONT.
Samuelson sits, lost in thought. Brown enters.
They’ve gone. There’s only us now.
Can you take me your general store?
INT. GENERAL STORE – DAY
Samuelson and Brown enter. Samuelson looks around.
Moves to the shelves.
Ah, here we are.
IN THE HOTEL ROOM – LATER
Rebecca stares into the mirror at the wounds on her throat.
The girl in the portrait. Who was she?
Her name was Anne. She lived in France in
the early 1700’s.
What happened to her?
She died young. Boyard was responsible.
So this is about revenge?
Revenge has kept me alive for two
I want you to go now.
If you die, my father dies.
There is a knock on the door. Samuelson enters. Rebecca
covers her throat with the collar of her blouse.
Am I interrupting?
I thought you might find these useful.
Samuelson places several liquid filled bottles on the
If my theory’s correct, the contents will
take a harrower’s head off.
What is it?
Turpentine. Quite toxic. When absorbed
through the skin, it has a marked
contractile action upon the blood vessels
of the lungs.
He opens a bottle; tips it towards Usher who recoils.
EXT. SIERRA NEVADAS – LATE DAY
The sun is sinking into the peaks to the west. Five men on
horseback, all them shrouded in long, dark coats and veils,
make their way up out of the railroad camp.
On the leader’s saddle is a long sword in a scabbard. The
second rider has a wooden war club and a spear on his saddle.
The third rider carries a shotgun, the forth a bullwhip.
The last rider has a crossbow across his lap.
IN THE HOTEL ROOM –
Usher loads his weapons with the ivory tipped bullets. The
pistols go into the holsters. The holsters are buckled on
at waist and shoulder.
ON THE MOUNTAIN PASS – LATE DAY
The shrouded men make their way in the now waning light.
IN THE HOTEL ROOM –
Usher picks up a crossbow out of a case – wings above and
below – double bolts. The bolts are razor tipped silver.
IN THE HOTEL R00M –
Usher slides dark stained, wooden knives into forearm
ABOVE THE VALLEY – EARLY EVENING
The shrouded men make their way over the pass and down.
IN THE HOTEL ROOM –
Usher carefully takes bound sticks of dynamite out of his
saddlebags. A long rip-fuse is wrapped around the sticks.
He slips the dynamite in the duster pocket.
IN THE ROOM –
Usher lifts an ivory handled sword – the scythe engraved in
the handle. He withdraws the blade from its scabbard. It
is of dark, stained wood; its edge a silver grey.
ON THE TRAIL – IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAINS – EVENING
The leader – Boyard – pulls the veil off his head and tosses
it aside. He strips off the long coat. The others follow
suit. Cejka. Barossa. Carfax, the whip. White Crow is
the bow carrier.
IN THE SALOON –
Samuelson is at the window. His bottles are on the bar.
Brown is behind the bar, a rifle across it, aiming at the
front door. Brown takes a nervous drink from a bottle.
How much longer?
Till dark. We’re safe till then.
ON AN OUTDOOR BALCONY OF THE HOTEL –
Rebecca is peering through binoculars. A rising breeze
from the north whips at her dress. The sun is a streak on
the horizon now. And now, through the glasses, she sees the
group of men come out of the evergreens and into the high
INT. USHER’S ROOM – CONT.
Rebecca thrusts the door open. Usher is gone. She turns
DOWNSTAIRS – MOMENTS LATER
Rebecca comes down the stairs. Samuelson and Brown look up.
Rebecca starts for the door.
Where are you going?
I’ve to warn him.
Rebecca, he knows. We’ve got to go now.
As Rebecca hesitates.
I assured him I’d keep you safe. Please.
Rebecca reluctantly heads out the back with the men.
INT. TOWN STABLE AND SMITHY – CONT.
The walls are lined with the tools of the blacksmith’s trade;
a scythe, ax heads, spikes, pike-ax, awls and blades.
Chains hang from the beams overhead.
The rip fuse is now wrapped around a post leading down from
the loft. Usher places the dynamite in the crook of two
beams that support the roof.
He drops to the ground.
EXT. CHURCHILL – LATE EVENING
The horsemen, shroudless now, stare down the valley, towards
the town. Boyard starts forward and the others follow.
ON A TOWN ROOFTOP – CONT.
Usher stands watching the five men ride down the meadow. He
wears his duster; is armed with pistols, the crossbow and
a quiver of bolts. He surveys the street. Dry clapboard
buildings on either side of a main street are rooftops – some
flat, some peaked, all close together. The highest point
is the steeple of the town church towards the north end of
BEHIND THE SALOON –
Brown, Samuelson and Rebecca mount their waiting horses.
Samuelson and Brown start away. Rebecca hesitates.
Rebecca! Do come along!
She reluctantly turns the horse and follows.
AT THE NORTH END OF THE TOWN –
The horsemen come to a stop. ANGLE ON – each of their faces
as they stare down the deserted main street.
I smell him.
Burn it down. Burn it all down.
MOMENTS LATER – ON ONE SIDE OF THE STREET –
Barossa and Carfax throw lit, oil filled lanterns the
through building windows.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET
Cejka and White Crow throw others.
The lamps shatter and the oil and the dry wood begin to burn
– the wind whips at the flames, driving it higher.
Robert!? Come out, come out, wherever you
IN THE CHURCH STEEPLE –
We RIDE the bolts down towards Carfax – who looks up,
startled. One bolt hits him in the open mouth, stifling his
scream – the other slams through his chest. Carfax is
knocked off his horse. He decomposes as he hits the ground.
Two more bolts are already flying towards him – Barossa
raises his shotgun in front of him – the bolts slam into the
Duster billowing, Usher leaps and drops from the steeple
down to the church roof. He vaults to the adjacent
building. A quick look back and then he’s gone.
Taking up his club and spear, Cejka slides off his horse.
He races towards the back of the buildings.
The two of you take the street.
Dismounting, Barossa starts down one side of the street.
White Crow the other. The flames keep pace on either side,
the wind driving it from building to building.
Flanked by flames, Boyard calmly waits.
ON A RISE WEST OF TOWN –
Brown glances back – and stops
Oh, my God.
Samuelson and Rebecca look back. The town is burning.
There’s nothing we can do! Keep going!
Again, Rebecca hesitates – then follows.
ON MAIN STREET –
Barossa and White Crow make their way down the street.
Barossa starts at the sound of a sudden banging. It’s
coming from inside a woman’s clothing store – linen on a
half-figure in the window. Barossa moves up the steps.
Shotgun held in front of him. He enters.
INT. CLOTHING STORE – CONTINUOUS
There are figures – dummies – silhouetted in the flickering
light of the flames. The banging again. Barossa moves in
its direction – and sees that the rear door to the store is
open – the wind again blows it shut with a bang. Barossa
lowers the shotgun.
Usher drops, head down, hanging by his knees from a beam in
the ceiling. Pistols are in his hands and he fires. The
bullets slam into Barossa – who reflexively fires his
shotgun – a dressed dummy blows apart –
Usher’s pistols both click on empty shells – reeling,
Barossa somehow aims and fires again – the shotgun blast
takes Usher in the chest, knocking him back into the wall
and then to the floor – Usher draws his other two pistols
and fires from his back – this time the bullets drive Barossa
back through the display window and –
Into the street. Barossa lies writhing on his back, in a
tangle of glass and clothes, the bullet holes that riddle
his torso, smoking…
Usher rises. He looks up – there is an open trap door in
the ceiling – he leaps up and through it.
White Crow suddenly looms over Barossa.
They’re eatin’ me up inside.
White Crow looks up as something flies overhead – it’s Usher
leaping from one side of the street to the other.
Crow! Help me!
Crossbow in hand, White Crow turns and runs after Usher.
ON THE STREET – CONT.
White Crow races towards the wood building – and then he
ON THE ROOFTOP –
He lands like a cat on the flat roof. He makes his way across
the roof and leaps towards the adjacent building –
– the flames which are spreading roof to roof now.
CLOSE ON – A crossbow is cocked – click-click.
White Crow spins – Usher is behind him – both of them fire
at the same moment.
Usher bends at an impossible angle – the bolt narrowly misses
White Crow twists away – the bolt slams into wood behind him;
a knot of White Crow’s long white hair tangled around it –
The two men hurtle towards one another. In a flurry of blows
and counter blows, they use their crossbows like quarter
staffs, attempting to take the other’s head off.
The tip of White Crow’s cross bow slashes Usher’s cheek.
Usher knocks White Crow back and down – the crossbow skitters
away. Leaping up, White Crow draws bolts from the quiver
on his thigh – he holds them like knives.
Tossing aside the crossbow, Usher draws bolts from his own
quiver. They circle, looking for an opportunity to close
– and the roof heaves beneath their feet – timbers crack –
a ball of flame bursts through the roof – Usher and White
Crow disappear into the inferno –
INT. BUILDING – CONT.
The room is a torrent of smoke and flames. The two men fall
– crashing through the burned out floor into –
INT. SHERIFF’S OFFICE – CONT.
The rooms are filled with smoke. Everything except the
metal of the jail cells is beginning to burn.
Usher tries to rise – he cries out in pain. A charred spike
of wood has pierced his leg just above the knee. Groaning,
he’s about to push it through when –
White Crow hurtles out of the smoke, bolt in hand. Usher
meets his charge, blocks and holds the bolt. The two men
roll – White Crow coming out on top – flames near Usher’s
face – Usher turning away from them – to see one of his own
bolts on the floor next to him – White Crow above him, his
fangs distended, pushing his bolt down toward Usher’s
throat. So close it touches.
The spike of wood is still in Usher’s knee. He drives it
into White Crow’s groin – White Crow screams and rolls away.
Grabbing the bolt off the floor, Usher rolls and drives the
bolt through White Crow’s heart.
White Crow’s eyes stare in shock. He falls forward and
Usher forces the spike of wood through his leg. He tosses
it aside. He is surrounded by the flames; no where to go
OUT IN THE STREET –
Barossa lies, writhing. A horse slowly approaches.
Boyard stares down at him.
Can you fight?
(shaking his head)
… help me.
Have you ever tasted another harrower’s
blood, Barossa? It makes you strong.
Invincible. Sadly, a harrower doesn’t
give up his blood easily. One must take
advantage when one can.
Boyard’s mouth gapes open, showing distended fangs. He
descends on Barossa’s throat like a dog shaking a rat.
EXT. IN THE TREE LINE – EAST OF TOWN – CONT.
Samuelson, Brown and Rebecca come out above the tree line.
They see that fully half the town is now burning.
How far to the next town?
If we hurry, we can get back with help.
But now Rebecca turns and spurs her horse back.
Where’s she going!?
Get help! As soon as you can!!
He follows Rebecca’s path down the mountain.
ON THE ROOFTOP OF THE JAIL – CONT.
The roof is burning. Boards suddenly quake; nails loosen
as if from blows – a glove fist smashes up and through.
Driving boards away, Usher pulls himself out.
He collapses, breathing in huge draughts of fresh air.
And suddenly, he spins away. The head of a wooden club
splits the roof where his head just lay.
Usher vaults to his feet as Cejka, spear across his back,
wrenches his club free and swings again. The blow takes
sends Usher flying through the air to land on –
THE ADJACENT ROOF
Cejka runs, leaps and flies towards him, club raised. He
swings the club down. Usher rolls away. The club smashes
through the wood and is caught. As Cejka tries to pull it
free, Usher leaps on him from behind. Arm around Cejka’s
throat, he draws a knife from the sheath on his forearm –
he raises it to strike. Cejka drives his head back into
Usher’s face, knocking him from his back. He swings a
massive arm and Usher is knocked bodily across the roof.
Cejka draws the spear from off his back. Usher rises and
draws the second knife. Two now. Cejka smiles. He
charges. He feints down with the spear and then rake up.
Usher blocks the spear with crossed knives. Cejka hurls
Usher bodily through the air into the peaked roof of –
THE ADJACENT BUILDING –
Usher smashes through the wood and down.
INT. THE STABLE/SMITHY – CONT.
Usher lands hard on a high wood beam. He drops to the floor.
He looks up, stunned. He moves to the wall.
EXT. THE TOWN – CONT.
Rebecca gallops down the hill towards the burning town.
Samuelson is some distance behind her.
IN THE STABLE/SMITHY – CONT.
Spear and club in hand, Cejka drops through the rent in the
roof and lands like a cat on the beam. Eyes search.
Nostrils flare for the scent. He moves along the beam –
He turns as Usher leaps up onto the beam, holding a scythe
he’s taken off the wall. Curved blade against spear and
spear, they battle across the thin beam. The blade of the
scythe takes the tip off of Cejka’s spear. Cejka hurls the
haft at Usher, then swings the club with both hands. The
club crashes down onto the beam, shattering it. Usher uses
the scythe blade to hook onto a beam overhead – Cejka falls.
Usher drops from the beam to the floor. Cejka has
disappeared. Holding the scythe, Usher moves through the
shadows of the stable.
A dark, tattooed hand pulls a pick-ax off the wall.
Usher turns at the sound. He turns again, following the
sound of soft, racing footsteps in the dark.
The barely perceptible sound of metal scraping against stone
as a dark hand reaches towards an anvil for a heavy hammer
Usher leaps and strikes – and lops the hand off at the wrist.
Cejka rises up, screaming – and then he attacks, swinging
the heavy pick-ax, driving Usher back.
The pick-ax hooks around the scythe and Cejka pulls it away.
He tosses ax and scythe aside. He leaps towards Usher,
sends him hurtling into a post.
Usher falls. Cejka bends and grabs him with his good hand
by the throat and throws him across the stable – into another
post. Usher crumbles to the ground –
Cejka moves to that heavy hammer – his severed hand still
grasps the handle – Cejka tosses the hand aside. Staring
at Usher, he furiously strikes the anvil with the hammer,
splitting it to the core. Usher now sees high on the post,
the rip fuse that leads up to the dynamite.
Usher rises and leaps for an overhead beam. He grabs it –
and is about to pull himself up when Cejka drops the hammer,
leaps and grabs Usher’s legs, trying to pull him down. He
begins to climb Usher’s body.
There is a length of chain hanging from the beam – Usher
reaches for it and wraps it around Cejka’s neck – he kicks,
knocking Cejka away. Cejka falls and is brought up short by
the chain around his neck –
Usher pulls himself up onto the beam. He pulls the rip fuse.
Sparks flare and the fuse burns, racing up and around the
Cejka tries without success to free himself with one hand.
The fuse is burning down towards the dynamite –
Usher races along the beam towards the hay loft – the trap
door to the outside is open –
The fuse burns into the dynamite as –
Cejka looks up, recognizes it for what it is.
Usher leaps for the open door –
BOOM! Usher is blown from the building, carried on a
fireball that spreads out behind and beneath him.
EXT. THE TOWN – CONT.
Rebecca is riding up to the rear of the saloon. The
explosion knocks her horse off its feet and she falls.
Debris rains down. Aghast, Rebecca rises and makes her way
towards the rear of the saloon. She enters.
IN THE SALOON –
Rebecca enters and hurries across the saloon towards the
windows. She looks out. Sees burning buildings but little
else. She moves to another window. A hand grasps her
shoulder and she turns with a scream.
ON THE MAIN STREET –
Usher lies face down in the street. He tries to rise – to
crawl – and falls forward –
– and finds himself staring at Barossa’s half-decomposed,
face. The eyes and mouth gape open, the throat is torn.
Usher rolls away. Out of the flames and smoke, he sees a
figure slowly approaching.
It’s Rebecca. He sees the look on her face before he sees
the man behind her. Boyard. He has the crossbow mounted
on his forearm, pointed at Rebecca’s back.
You’re a survivor, Robert, I’ll give you
Lovely, isn’t she. Have you told her about
Anne? How she died? You took that from
me, as well as my eye.
Grabbing Rebecca’s hair, Boyard tilts her head so her neck
You can watch this die as well.
He bares his fangs, is about to strike.
Let her go!
Samuelson has one of the bottles of in hand.
Dr. Samuelson. You show up at the most
There’ll be others coming. They’ll hunt
you down like the monster you are.
In any case, you won’t be around to see it.
He aims the crossbow and fires – as he does, Samuelson throws
the bottle – the bolt takes Samuelson in the chest and he
goes down – the bottle lands in front of Boyard and bursts,
dousing his clothes, sending up a cloud of vapor. Boyard
clutches his throat and drops to his knees in agony.
Rebecca breaks away from him.
The turpentine has splashed towards the fire. It suddenly
ignites. The flames race towards Boyard, jump up his body
and surround his face like a burning halo. He rises,
Rebecca moves to Usher. She rips cloth away from her neck.
Against a backdrop of flames, he embraces her.
Boyard turns, flailing, then staggers towards a horse trough
of water. He falls forward into it.
Usher’s mouth comes away from Rebecca’s throat with a gasp.
His eyes are closed as he feels strength coursing through
him. Rebecca falls to the ground.
Boyard rises on hands and knees from the water. His face
is horribly burned, his hair weltered on his head. The eye
patch has been burned away to reveal the scarred socket
He sees Usher rise, tall and deadly. Usher shrugs the
duster off. It drops to the ground. He has had the sword
at his side the entire time.
I told you I’d kill you, Willem
The blade slides from Usher’s scabbard. Boyard rises out
of the water. He draws his own sword. Screaming in hate
and rage, Boyard leaps – Usher meets Boyard’s sword with
his own. He drives Boyard back across the street. Boyard
turns and slashes at a burning timber – cuts through it like
Usher parrying the sword and ducking and dodging the flame.
The two men circle.
I learned the art of the sword at my
father’s knee. While you were cleaning
your paint brushes, I was spilling men’s
guts on the ground.
You talk too much, Willem. You always
Enough talk then.
He attacks. They fight on, faster, with greater fury.
Boyard slashes Usher across the shoulder; then across the
torso – blood spraying from the wounds like rubies against
the fire. They circle:
I’m stronger than you. I always was.
You’re afraid of death, Willem. It makes
Boyard attacks. They thrust and parry. Boyard’s blade
cuts Usher’s sword arm. Boyard laughs. Swinging his sword
with two hands, he attacks, finally driving Usher to one
knee. Usher seemingly too exhausted to rise.
This time I will hear you scream.
He thrusts. And suddenly Usher’s sword rises to parry and
riposte. Usher on one knee, arm extended in a classic
lunge, point of his sword in Boyard’s belly.
Boyard slowly backs away off the sword. He touches the
wound. He raises the hand to look at his own blood.
No. Not to you.
Boyard attacks, flailing. Usher flicks the blows away.
Usher goes on attack, his sword a blur. With a final
lunge, he disarms Boyard. His sword point rests against
Boyard’s chest. They stare at one another.
He thrusts the sword through Boyard’s heart.
He slashes up and down.
A beat. Boyard falls back into the flames in two pieces,
cut in half from left shoulder to right hip.
Usher tosses the sword aside. He turns.
ON THE STREET
Samuelson lies where he fell, bolt through his heart. Eyes
open. Usher bends and closes the eyes. He moves to
Rebecca. He kneels. She blinks up at him.
She fights tears. He lifts her in his arms. Turning, he
carries her away.
IN THE FLAMES
Boyard’s decomposing body turns to ash.
EXT. THE TOWN – MORNING
Above the town, a group of riders appear. They are led by
Judson Brown. At the base of the valley, the remains of the
town are charred and smoking. Part way down the meadow sits
a solitary figure.
EXT. THE HILLSIDE – CONTINUOUS
Rebecca kneels at a fresh grave. She doesn’t look up as
Brown and the horsemen approach.
Brown dismounts and approaches on foot.
Miss Ramsey, are you all right?
She nods, numb.
Who is it?
I’m so sorry.
He found what he was searching for. You
can come back now. Boyard’s dead.
Not much to come back to.
What about him.
Rebecca hesitates – then shakes her head.
If he’s alive, we’ll find him. You better
come with us now.
She rises. And as she does, we see something on the grave
that has been hidden in the shadow cast by her body.
Wildflowers. They grow out of a dark stain. The sun hits
the stain and the stain ignites. The flowers wilt in the
EXT. ABOVE THE HIGH DESERT – NIGHT
The moon. The stars. The trail unfolding before us.
They never found him. There were rumors.
Stories. But given time, even those faded
away. The people rebuilt their town.
They were joined by Boyard’s workers who
stayed and settled in the valley.
A man walks, leaving footprints in the dust of the trail.
I try not to think of Dr. Samuelson. His
theories, his “area of expertise”.
Sometimes I even try to believe it all
never happened. But I have the scars on
my throat. And there are dreams at night.
Most of all there’s my father.
The man is Usher. He comes over a rise to stare down at the
lights of Alliance, Nevada.
Usher continues on down towards the town.
FADE TO BLACK.