Escape Velocity

By R. Earle Harris
All rights reserved (c) 2015 (rearleharris@tuxfamily.org)


BLACK SCREEN:

Title Over: 
			 In 1964, a Parisian woman leapt from the Eiffel
			 Tower to end her life.

BLACK SCREEN:

Title Over: 
			 She landed on a car and lived.

BLACK SCREEN:

Near top of screen appears:

Title Over: 
			 Aren't we all just trying to reach --

Then in the center appears:

Title Over: 
			 ESCAPE VELOCITY

FADE IN:

EXT. BUFFALO GRASS HILLS - DAY

Highway to Cheyenne north of Boulder. Brief streaming blur of the highway as if from a fast car's point of view. Cut almost immediately to:

EXT. DOWNTOWN DENVER - MORNING

Outside tallest building in Denver. Car stops and JUDITH, professional woman, early thirties, opens the door and gets out. Car is driven by Judith's friend CINDY.

CINDY
See you as soon as I park.

JUDITH
Sure.

Car drives off.

EXT. TALLEST BUILDING - CONTINUOUS

When Did the World, by Lynn Miles, begins to play. We hear the music and not the ambient street noise. Judith walks into the building.

LYNN MILES
(Singing)         
Bank lines and traffic jams
You can't believe it's your life
You stare at the stranger
You used to love till it hurt
You can't believe you're his wife

INT. TALLEST BUILDING - CONTINUOUS

Song continues with chorus.

LYNN MILES
(Singing)         
When did I sign up
And when did I quit
When did all the walls cave in
How many stars have fallen from the sky
When did the world change its spin

Music falls to background beneath ambient. Judith passes the CONCIERGE at his desk.

CONCIERGE
Morning, Ms. Walker.

JUDITH
Morning, John.

Judith walks across to the elevators, where an ACQUAINTANCE of hers is among those waiting to go up.

ACQUAINTANCE
Another day of it.

JUDITH
Another day.

Elevator doors open and Judith goes in with the rest. Judith speaks to the man nearest the floor buttons.

JUDITH (CONT'D)
Ten, please.

INT. ELEVATOR - CONTINUOUS

Elevator rises through verse. Music comes back up over ambient. Those in the elevator stand quiet and keyed up the way people are in morning elevators. Judith trades nervous smiles with a couple of people.

LYNN MILES
(Singing)         
You used to trust everyone
Now you can't even trust yourself
And wouldn't it be great
To believe in something
Some lie or somebody else

EXT. OFFICES - CONTINUOUS

Music back down for chorus. Judith comes out of the elevator into the foyer of a tenth-floor financial firm.

LYNN MILES
(Singing)         
When did I sign up
And when did I quit
When did all the walls cave in
How many stars have fallen from the sky
When did the world change its spin

The SECRETARY greets her.

SECRETARY
Morning, Ms. Walker.

JUDITH
Morning, Suzanne.

INT. OFFICES - CONTINUOUS

Still in chorus of song. POV well within offices. Judith comes in far side of the room from the foyer, walks in normally for a few beats and stops unnaturally. She stands still as a stone and is noticed by some in the office including a LAWYER and ACCOUNTANT.

LAWYER
Look there. What's wrong with Judith?

ACCOUNTANT
Looks like she's just trying to face another day.

LAWYER
Hard to do without a drink.

They laugh. Judith turns and leaves.

LAWYER (CONT'D)
Hey, where's she going?

EXT. OFFICES - CONTINUOUS

Music back up. Judith walks past the secretary to the elevators.

LYNN MILES
(Singing)         
When the sun goes down
That's the hardest time
'Cause that's when all the spaces grow dark
That's when you question your sanity
And the pull of the human heart

SECRETARY
(Mouthes the words)         
Are you alright?

Judith ignores her and gets into the elevator.

INT. ELEVATOR - CONTINUOUS

Still in verse. Only a few in the elevator. Judith pushes the button for the top floor. The elevator goes up.

INT. SERVICE STAIRS - CONTINUOUS

Music down for chorus so we can hear Judith's footfalls echo in the concrete stairs as she ascends to the very top of the building

LYNN MILES
(Singing)         
When did I sign up
And when did I quit
When did all the walls cave in
How many stars have fallen from the sky
When did the world change its spin

EXT. ROOFTOP - CONTINUOUS

Still in chorus. Judith comes out the metal fire door onto the roof. She walks purposefully across the roof. She reaches the edge and stops just before the short raised wall that circles the roof. She stands there, as she did in the office, until the chorus ends.

EXT. JUDITH - CONTINUOUS

No music. In the roaring wind at the very pinnacle of Denver, Judith stands, a single tear running down her cheek. Faintly, as if they barely made it here after being blown down on the wind from Montana, we hear the opening beating chords of Unravel, (Lynn Miles, Unravel), and then they are gone.

EXT. JUDITH - CONTINUOUS

Judith wipes her eye and--

EXT. ROOFTOP - CONTINUOUS

--steps onto the raised edge. And then right out into space.

EXT. FALLING - CONTINUOUS

Judith's POV. The rush of thirty-two feet per second per second.

BLACK SCREEN:

Title Over:
               It ain't the fall that hurts -- 
               it's the sloppy landing.

EXT. DOWNTOWN DENVER - MORNING

No ambient noise, no music. Outside tallest building in Denver. A huge Chrysler sedan pulls up. Chauffeur opens his door, gets out. He opens the back door. Rich guy gets out.

EXT. CHRYSLER - CONTINUOUS

Ambient noise returns. A split second after rich guy clears the door there is the flash of something Judith-sized hitting the roof of the car. The Chrysler collapses spectacularly. Bystanders are knocked down by the wind if it.

INT. AMBULANCE - MORNING

Gurney-on-the-floor POV. The medics are dealing with the very improbable. ONE is on the radio-phone. The OTHER is at the gurney, dominating the POV.

ONE
Yes. She's alive. Yes. No.
(To OTHER)         
They don't believe me.

OTHER
Give me.

One gives Other the phone.

OTHER (CONT'D)
This is David. Yes. The tallest building in Denver. And, yes, the oxygen bag is going up and down with her breathing.

Beat.

OTHER (CONT'D) What? I should know?

EXT. FALLING - CONTINUOUS

Judith's POV. The rush of thirty-two feet per second per second.

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - MORNING

Instrumental version of I'm the Moon (Lynn Miles, Unravel ), identical to song without singing begins. Music without ambient as gurney POV comes into the receiving and passes through the growing awe that enters with her.

INT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

Music continues as the gurney POV goes down a hall, into the operating room. DOCTOR's laughter (O.S.) begins to rise, overcoming the music.

INT. BEDROOM - EVENING

Judith's POV. She picks up a picture of herself and her husband from the dresser and looks at it.

JUDITH (O.S.)
Do I like you?

INT. OPERATING ROOM - MORNING

Gurney POV. Doctor finishes laughing. Nurses and others are reacting to the very improbable.

NURSE
Are you alright?

DOCTOR
She's not even hurt.

OTHER NURSE
But all these cuts and ...

Doctor begins his slightly nervous laughter again then gains control, wiping his eyes.

DOCTOR
I've seen people hurt worse after falling off their porch. And this woman--

NURSE
--fell off the tallest building in Denver.

DOCTOR
Jumped.

NURSE
Jumped.

DIFFERENT VOICE (O.S.)
Isn't that illegal?

Everyone turns to look at Different Voice.

DIFFERENT VOICE (O.S.) (CONT'D)
Suicide, I mean.

Doctor begins his laughter again and the nurse joins him.

EXT. BUFFALO GRASS HILLS - DAY

Highway to Cheyenne north of Boulder. Brief streaming blur of the highway as if from a fast car's point of view. Cut almost immediately to:

INT. OFFICE - DAY

PSYCHOLOGIST shows Judith to a comfortable chair. She is bruised, limps a little, but basically fine.

INT. OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

Psychologist sits down in another chair. He looks up and studies Judith for a second.

INT. OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

They are looking at each other. Judith smiles hesitantly. Psychologist gives one of those single syllable laughs.

PSYCHOLOGIST
You look ... well.

She nods.

JUDITH
They kept me under observation for a day.

PSYCHOLOGIST
So it was only yesterday morning that you ... did your ... took your trip?

JUDITH
I jumped.

PSYCHOLOGIST
You sure did.

She laughs nervously, embarrassed.

PSYCHOLOGIST (CONT'D)
Why?

That focuses her.

JUDITH
Why--

PSYCHOLOGIST
--did you jump? Yes.

Judith really considers this.

JUDITH
I don't remember.

PSYCHOLOGIST
Really?

She thinks about this.

JUDITH
Really. I don't remember.

They look at each other a second.

JUDITH (CONT'D)
I must have been pretty upset.

He does that short laugh again.

PSYCHOLOGIST
Um. Well. Yes. You must have been. Do you think you planned ... your trip ... in advance?

JUDITH
I really don't remember.

PSYCHOLOGIST
What else don't you remember?

She thinks about it.

JUDITH
A lot. I think.

PSYCHOLOGIST
A lot?

JUDITH
Everything?

PSYCHOLOGIST
Everything?

He shakes his head in disbelief.

PSYCHOLOGIST (CONT'D)

Screenplay truncated at 500 lines.