JANUARY 20TH

A screenplay by Hugh Holub

               Copyright 1985, 2007

 

FADE IN:

 

EXT. DAY

 

Wide angle shot of city in northern Pakistan. Sound of the Call to Prayer.

 

CUT TO:

 

INT. AL QAIDA ROOM. Meeting room is ornate, with Persian rugs on floor.  Six elderly mullahs are seated around a large conference table.  A seventh, younger mullah, is standing at the head of the table, lecturing.  There are large flip charts behind him, and a large television monitor on the table.   The lecturer, the Ayatollah of QUM, an angular hard looking man, continues

 

QUM

The American government is run by non‑military individuals. Their chain of command starts with the President, then works downward to the Vice President, the Speaker of their House of Representatives, and through the executive cabinet in descending order of importance starting with the Secretary of State.

 

The Ayatollah of QUM flips a chart and shows an organizational chart of the U.S. government's key individuals.   The Ayatollah of TEHRAN interrupts.  He is a grandfatherly sort, except for the anger in his eyes.

 

TEHRAN

How many layers of succession do they have?

 

QUM

Sixteen.  If their President dies or is assassinated, the leadership automatically passes to the Vice President.  If he dies, then to the Speaker of the House and down through the sixteen layers.

 

Osama bin Laden, impatiently pounds on the table.

 

BIN LADEN

Why are we sitting here getting a schoolboy's lesson in the American government?

 

 

 

QUM

We would all agree that there would be great glory in blackening the American eye before the whole world even worse than 9/11. And to do so in such a way as to leave no question among our Islamic brethren as to where the leadership of the Islamic World lies.

 

 

BIN LADEN

Continue.  

 

 

QUM

What would be the result if all 16 of the American civilians in their chain of command were simultaneously killed? And on world-wide television?

 

TEHRAN

Certainly that cannot possibly be done.

 

QUM

We have reason to question that fact.

 

TEHRAN

(derisively) On what basis?

 

Qum reaches to a pile of papers in front of him and pulls out a newspaper clipping from the Washington Post.

 

QUM

According to this newspaper account, which our people verify is accurate, the Americans ran a war game last year in which they assumed all their civilian chain of command had been killed in the first few minutes of World War III.  One of their generals then attempted to assume command.  And I quote, "the other general said, "who says?'"

 

TEHRAN

The American are pretty stupid if they would allow something like that to be published unless they've corrected their problem.

 

BIN LADEN

Who would've believed Nixon would've allowed his newspapers to hound him out of office.   A free press is dangerous.

 

Laughter.

BIN LADEN

What are you proposing?

 

 

QUM

That we proceed with a plan we have prepared called HEADSMAN in which we simultaneously assassinate all 16 civilians in the American chain of command.

 

TEHRAN

This is madness.   There is no possible way to kill them all at the same time.

 

Qum turns out the lights.

 

QUM

First about the potential to achieve the simultaneous untimely death of all sixteen...

 

The television monitor comes alive.   The scene on the screen is the most recent State of the Union speech.

 

 

 

QUM

If you would indulge me for a moment and watch the video tape of an event called the State of the Union speech in which the President of the United States speaks to the assembled U.S. government about the condition of their country.

 

CUT TO: CLOSEUP ON TV SCREEN.

 

Scene is in the House of Representatives, with people milling around, sitting down.  ANNOUNCER is identifying key members of Congress and the Cabinet.   Fifteen of the 16 people in the chain of succession are iden­tified.

 

Qum turns up the lights and the screen goes blank.

 

QUM

Every year, around January 20th, the entire American government gathers in one room.

 

 

TEHRAN

You said there were sixteen.   Only 15 of them were at the speech.

 

QUM

To ensure the survivability of their civilian government in the event of an attack, one member of their cabinet in the line of succession is spirited away to some secret location outside of Washing­ton during the speech.

BIN LADEN

So you blow up the room during the speech and kill virtually their entire government, but still there is one who can launch a retaliation against us.

 

Qum flips a page on his chart showing the floor plan of the Capitol Building.

 

QUM

What we propose is this.  We smuggle into the U.S. Capitol Building a low yield nuclear warhead and detonate it as soon as the speech begins. 

 

BIN LADEN

And where do we get this nuclear weapon?

 

 

QUM

We have purchased one from our Russian friends who also have an interest in decapitating the American government.

 

Beginning a few weeks before the speech we put hunter/killer teams on each of the cabinet members, and as soon as the one to be hidden away makes his run for cover, we use one of the American Stinger missiles they so generaously sold us and blow up his car.

 

Before the news of his death reaches the speech, the American government will be leaderless. Chaos will reign.  They will not be able to strike back.

 

 

Bin Laden rises.   The rest stand.  He has a pained expression.

 

FADE:

 

CUT TO:

INT.  CRYSTAL ROOM.  NORAD (CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN)  AUGUST 9TH.

 

Large room filled with TV screen consoles (like NASA Mission Center), large electronic maps on walls.  All personnel in uniform.    In  back  is  a  glass walled room ‑ The "Eagle's Nest" ‑ the office of the Command­ing General on Duty.  The current duty shift CO is MAJOR GENERAL BRUCE CASTLEBERRY.   He is talking to COLONEL WILDER, the Shift Intelligence Analyst.   Castleberry is a handsome man is his early 50's who looks like he could star in recruitment commercials.  Wilder is dark and brooding.

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

It is hard to get used to the quiet. We're buying former Soviet missiles instead of worrying about tracking them.

 

WILDER

But there are a thousand tactical warheads running around in the backs of trucks.

 

CASTLEBERRY

Who would've thought we'd be trying to track trucks with our satellites?

 

WILDER

Knocking them all out is the problem.

 

CASTLEBERRY

We go from Star Wars to this.

 

Wilder gestures to the Crystal Room.

 

WILDER

.

 

CASTLEBERRY

According to the monitors.  We start believing what we see on those screens in reality.  In reality we really don't know what the hell is going on some times. Nukes in trucks.

 

WILDER

The Army always did want us to just shoot at stuff on the ground, like tanks and trucks.

 

How's Linda?

CASTLEBERRY

She went over to Washington to see Kimberly and Joe.

 

WILDER

They're still at Fort Meade?

 

CASTLEBERRY

.

 

CUT TO:

INT. TEHRAN'S OFFICE

 

Tehran's office is large, furnished with antiques, has an oriental rug on the floor.

Tehran is talking to Qum.

 

QUM

You don't think much of our proposal?

 

TEHRAN

That depends on whether it will work or not.  We think it is a long shot to kill all 16.  Too many things can go wrong. 

 

QUM

But he who seeks glory must take some risk. There is nothing to lose. Even if we fail to kill them all, we will kill many. Right in their capitol. Before the eyes of their people. The world will know they are not invincible.

 

TEHRAN

Indeed. 

 

QUM

Then you support my proposal?

 

TEHRAN

Let us say we mutually support each other's proposal.

 

TEHRAN

I think we are two of a kind.

 

 

CUT TO:

INT. CASTLEBERRY'S HOME.

 

Castleberry is wearing a polo shirt and slacks and is being interviewed by a nationally  prominent television newscaster, BRANDON.   His living room is dominated by a fireplace, and covers the image of a rustic ranch ­house with Indian rugs on the floor, a deer head and hunting rifles on the walls, and leather covered furniture.  Brandon, who looks like a young Walter Cronkite, is interviewing Castleberry for a special on American military preparedness.

 

BRANDON

What the American public wants to know is if the threat of a nuclear war is over now that the Soviet union is gone?

 

CASTLEBERRY

There are still thousands of nuclear weapons. Ironically, we were probably safer with the Soviet union because they had a very tight command and control structure. All their nukes were under lock and key and it took orders from Moscow to launch.

 

But now there are other scenarios of limited nuclear attacks, terrorist attacks, using nuclear weapons the Russians cannot account for.

 

BRANDON

You mean the Russians have lost nuclear weapons?

 

CASTLEBERRY

They deny it. But when you start off with 30,000 of them, and they end up in a half dozen new countries that can't form a stable government, and some are trading nukes for wheat, anything is possible.

 

BRANDON

                        Certainly we’re not afraid of the Ukraine?

 

CASTLEBERRY

It is harder than you know.

 

BRANDON

But what would anyone have to gain by attacking us?

 

CASTLEBERRY

Remember 9/11.

 

The cameraman taping the session moves in closer.

 

BRANDON

That’s why we went after Saddam.

 

CASTLEBERRY

People who want nuclear weapons generally have someone they'd like to use them on. And there are a lot of countries trying to get their hands on the missing Soviet weapons. Libya. Korea, Iran, Al Qaeda. And the irony is every time we buy a gallon of gas made from oil from the Middle East, we are handing over money to people who want to destroy us. We’re paying for our eventual destruction. No question they could buy a bomb. And they’re trying to make their own.

 

BRANDON

But they don't have intercontinental missiles. The best they could do is attack Israel.

 

CASTLEBERRY

That's why Israel has its own nuclear arsenal. If my enemy has a gun, I must have ten guns. If he has ten tanks, I must have 20.  That was the history of the Cold War. We may be at peace with Russia, but there are many countries who do not know what the word peace means. They don’t want peace. They want jihad.

 

BRANDON

Aren't you military types just trying to justify keeping all your toys and eating up the American taxpayer even though it is time to use our wealth for schools and medical care?

 

Castleberry pauses, and watches the cameraman move back to behind Brandon for an "over the shoulder" camera angle.

 

CASTLEBERRY

What do you know about world history?

 

BRANDON

I'm the one supposed to ask the questions. 

 

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

Since the days of the caveman someone has always coveted some else's lands, their wealth, their rivers, their homes. Their enemies are not human in their minds, and they will use whatever force they have to exterminate their enemies.

The only thing that has changed in 10,000 years is we've gotten much more efficient in killing our enemies.

 

BRANDON

So you are saying that there is always going to be someone out there who could threaten the United States with nuclear attack?

 

The cameraman moves to a position immediately in front of Castleberry.

 

CASTLEBERRY

If they thought for one second they could destroy us, and get away with it without our being able to fully retaliate, they'd do it.

 

BRANDON

But surely millions of people would die and their cities would be destroyed.

 

CASTLEBERRY

If we even knew who to retaliate against. It was convenient to have just one or two very large enemies. Now they are smaller, but they are more numerous.

 

 

BRANDON

Aren't nuclear weapons obsolete?

 

CASTLEBERRY

         Not if you have one.

 

BRANDON

Off the record, what did you think about that Post story about what happens to our chain of command in a if all of civilian leaders get snuffed?

 

CASTLEBERRY

Off the record.  I was the one who said "who says?".

 

They both laugh.

 

CUT TO:

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM

 

Castleberry is on the phone when GENERAL ARTHUR enters.  Arthur is Castleberry's opposite in ap­pearance‑‑short, pudgy, bookish.  He sits down and waits for Castleberry to complete his call.  Castleberry looks up to the clock before speaking.

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

Early as usual..

 

ARTHUR

Time flies when you're having fun.  Anything important?

 

CASTLEBERRY

Notta.

 

ARTHUR

Only on your shift.  Excitement I don't need.

 

CASTLEBERRY

Any word yet on your retirement?

 

ARTHUR

Next February for sure.  I'm just about burnt out.  And it looks like I've got a nice job with NRM as soon as I hang up my stars.

 

 

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

 

This isn't exactly the most stress‑filled command we have.  Twelve hours in rotation watch on watch sitting in the hot seat if the Syrians attack Israel again. I hear they’re going to shut this facility down.

 

ARTHUR

Back when I was at the Academy I just couldn't wait to go to war.  I missed out.  Now I can't wait to get out.  They don't make wars like they used to.

 

CASTLEBERRY

I know the feeling.  We give our lives to be prepared to fight, and spend our lives avoiding the fight or  walking  away  before  we've  got a chance  to  win.    Goddamned pol­iticians.

 

ARTHUR

The damned bomb..

 

CASTLEBERRY

How so?

 

ARTHUR

Ever since we used them on Japan, we've had to do our damndest to not use'em again.   We could've won Korea and saved Nam if we'd been willing to nuke the enemy.  But the politicians couldn't do that.

 

CASTLEBERRY

I remember one of my first courses  at the Academy.   How to drop a hydrogen bomb.   Then three years of why we could never do this.  We even had to practice flight maneuvers to unload the goods and get the hell out of there before we got caught in the blast wave.

 

ARTHUR

The bomb ruined the art of war..

 

CASTLEBERRY

It took us long enough to figure out having the bomb was no protec­tion and no alternative to good old fashioned war.

 

ARTHUR

This far down the road I'm glad I never had to make the decision to use it.

 

CASTLEBERRY

I've still got a few years left on these wings.  I hope I don't ever have to make that decision either.  The command is yours.   The code for tonight is "Once in a Blue Moon".

 

They both stand.  Arthur walks around the desk and sits in Castleberry's chair.   Castleberry puts on his coat and starts towards the door.

 

ARTHUR

The Command is accepted. Christ where do they think up the codes.

 

CASTLEBERRY

The next blue moon is in January so I've been told.

 

Castleberry leaves.   Arthur swivels on his chair and looks out through the glass wall over the Crystal Room.  He is humming "Blue Moon".

 

CUT TO:

INT. BIN LADEN'S ROOM

 

Bin Laden's room is surprisingly small, with a fire­place, a small writing table, and  hard wooden chairs.   Tehran and Bin Laden are sitting in the chairs in front of a roaring fire.

 

BIN LADEN

We'll see how the rest vote.  If there is any disagreement I will kill the project

 

Tehran steeples his fingers and stares at the fire and does not respond.

 

 

EXT. OPEN OCEAN.  THE FOLLOWING JANUARY 10TH.

 

A fishing boat meets a small dory.  A small object about the size of a hot water heater is transferred from the fishing boat to the dory.

 

EXT.  NEAR THE COAST.

 

There is an oblong object beneath a tarp in the middle of the dory.  The men dressed as FISHERMEN are rowing towards shore.

 

1ST FISHERMAN

This is how drugs are smuggled, no?

 

2ND FISHERMAN

Who knows.

 

EXT. IN A DENSELY VEGETATED CHANNEL.

 

The dory docks at a broken down pier.  Three men dressed as plumbers meet the boat, and lift the object onto the pier, then load it into a panel truck marked as CAPITOL PLUMBING.   The two fisherman change clothes quickly, into plumber jumpsuits.

 

1ST FISHERMAN

So many plumbers.  Won't anyone suspect?

 

PLUMBER

We just tell anyone we are union.

 

Laughter.

 

EXT U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING.  NEXT DAY.

 

Capitol Plumbing truck is parked by service entrance.  Plumber is having papers checked by armed CAPITOL POLICEMAN.

 

                                                 POLICEMAN

Where's the hot water heater supposed to go?

 

PLUMBER

The basement.  Next to the cafe­teria.

 

POLICEMAN

I've been here years and this is the first time I ever heard of a hot water heater needing replace­ment. 

 

PLUMBER

Maybe the only good thing the House does is buy quality hot water heaters.

 

POLICEMAN

(laughs) You're probably right.  The papers are in order.  Take the first elevator on the left.   You need any help?

 

PLUMBER

Nope.

 

The other plumbers get out and unload the hot water heater.

 

POLICEMAN

If figures.

 

PLUMBER

What?

 

POLICEMAN

Send five men to do the job of two.  The government way.

 

INT. CAPITOL BASEMENT.

 

The plumbers are installing the hot water heater in a very out‑of‑the way place.

 

EXT.   GEORGETOWN RESIDENTIAL STREET.

 

A new sedan is parked in front of an expensive town­house.  TV NEWS is painted on the sides of the sedan.  A distinguished looking man exits the townhouse.  A cameraman and a newsman jump out of the sedan and rush up to the distinguished man before he can get into his car. 

 

The cameraman positions himself to shoot the scene.  The newsman shoves a mike in front of the distinguished looking man‑‑who is the SECRETARY OF STATE.

 

NEWSMAN

Mr. Secretary, is it true secret negotiations are under way for US airbases in Russia?

 

SECRETARY OF STATE

No comment. It's seven in the morning.  Don't you ever sleep?

 

Newsman puts down mike.

 

NEWSMAN

You know how cutthroat this business is.

 

SECRETARY OF STATE

And that's why you camp out all night in front of my house.

 

The DRIVER of the Secretary's car gets out and comes over.

 

DRIVER

I think the Secretary would appreciate it if you news hounds would go home and get some sleep.

 

The Secretary gets into his car, and it drives off.

 

INT. SECRETARY'S CAR.

 

The Secretary leans forward to talk to the driver, a Secret Service Agent doubling as chauffeur, BOB.

 

 

SECRETARY

They're getting more determined.

BOB

Too much so.

 

SECRETARY

I agree.  It seems like all of us have a shadow these days.

 

BOB

So we've noticed.  It's a new outfit.   Independent.  They hang around trying to shoot some footage and sell it to the cable news people.

 

SECRETARY

Freelancers.

 

BOB

They're legit.  And not much we can do about them.

 

SECRETARY

If the lights are on late at the White House they figure something important is happening.

 

BOB

Usually that's right.   Check on the backside.  They're following us.

 

SECRETARY

Lose them.

 

BOB

Not that easy in a big black Cadillac.

 

SECRETARY

Starting tomorrow get something less conspicuous.   And change it daily.  There's nothing in the Constitution that says we have to make their job easy.

 

BOB

Good idea.   Probably should do it for the whole cabinet.

 

SECRETARY

Suggest it. 

 

INT. CABINET ROOM.  JANUARY 19TH.

 

The formal cabinet meeting has just ended, and everyone is sitting or standing around, small‑talking.  The SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR asks the President about tomorrow's events.   Interior looks like a ranch hand in a suit.

 

INTERIOR

So which one of us gets to hide in the hole while you tell the country how wonderful things really are.

 

PRESIDENT

You’’ll soon know.

 

The Secretary of State overhears and comes over.

 

STATE

Not me of course?

 

PRESIDENT

            One of you goes into the hole

 

INTERIOR

Who gets the lucky duty?

 

PRESIDENT

I can only tell you this, it won't be random this time.

 

STATE

Then I'll be safe, John.  No one would risk leaving the running of the country to a cowboy. We already did that once.  Guess I you  should pack your overnight bag.

        

INTERIOR

Often times I think us dumb old cowboys have a lot more ability to run this goddamned country than you blue noses.

 

PRESIDENT

Gentlemen, gentlemen.  We can't have rancor in our happy little family.  By the way, John, I'm going to use that section about people being a part of the environ­ment and public lands needing to serve the people.  Good lines.

 

STATE

I sincerely hope you're jesting.

 

PRESIDENT

I ought to lock both of you in the hole just to see what happens.

 

CUT TO:

INT. AL QAEDA COMMAND CENTER.  SAME DAY.

 

Tehran is pacing around the room.  Qum is watching Al Jezeera  Bin Laden is sitting on a chair and staring at the wall.

 

BIN LADEN

Tomorrow will be the beginning of a new world.

 

TEHRAN

An Islamic World.

 

CUT TO:

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

 

Castleberry and WILDER are punching up satellite photos of shipping activity off the US East Coast on one of the large screens.

 

CASTLEBERRY

So many ships.

 

WILDER

Trucks. Ships. Next thing you know we'll be spotting for bicycles.

 

CASTLEBERRY

What are we looking for?

 

WILDER

Anything suspicious.

 

CASTLEBERRY

Something is definitely up.

 

WILDER

What do you mean?

 

CASTLEBERRY

My guy at Langley says every Cabinet member has a shadow.

 

WILDER

I though that was chador.

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT.  GEORGETOWN.  IN FRONT OF STATE'S HOME.  MORNING OF JANUARY 20TH.

 

The Secretary exits and gets into a nondescript light blue Plymouth.  The TV NEWS sedan is across the street.

 

STATE

They're still there.

 

BOB

We'll see how determined they are this morning.

 

STATE

Don't spend too much time.  I have an important meeting downtown.

 

EXT.  KEY BRIDGE.

 

The blue plymouth is seen crossing Key Bridge and going into Virginia.  The TV NEWS sedan is following.

 

 

INT.  SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR'S OFFICE

 

A large office with an oriental rug on the floor, and totem poles in each corner.  Interior is in the midst of a small conference.  His DRIVER enters.

 

DRIVER

Mr. Secretary.  You have urgent business.

 

INTERIOR

I do?  I don't remember ...

 

DRIVER

Today you do.

 

INTERIOR

(mutters an expletives).

 

EXT.  INTERIOR BUILDING GARAGE ENTRANCE.

 

A green sedan exits the garage and a TV NEWS VAN falls in behind.

 

INTSEDAN.

 

INTERIOR

So I get stuck in the hole?

 

DRIVER

We have a surprise.

 

INTERIOR

Surprise?

 

DRIVER

Isn't Colorado one of your favorite places this time of the year?

 

INTERIOR

Colorado?

 

DRIVER

Cheyenne Mountain.

 

INTERIOR

I've always wanted to see that installation.

 

DRIVER

In an hour you will.

 

INTERIOR

An hour?

 

DRIVER

The President always gives his staff the best transportation. Aurora is real.

 

EXT.  MEMORIAL BRIDGE

 

The sedan and the TV NEWS Van are seen crossing the bridge.

 

INT. TV NEWS VAN

 

NEWSMAN

We have a bird in flight (to driver).

 

DRIVER

Wrong direction.

 

NEWSMAN

Report anyway.

 

 

INT.  AL QAEDA ROOM.

 

Qum, Tehran and Bin Laden are huddled around a TV monitor.

 

 

BIN LADEN

They have their potential leader hidden away.  This is falling apart.

 

QUM

We will have to expend LOOKING GLASS.

 

TEHRAN

Who?

 

QUM

Our best source of information about what the American military is up to. Someone who likes money more than his country.

 

TEHRAN

Who?

 

BIN LADEN

He would be in Cheyenne Mountain now?

 

QUM

Yes.

 

BIN LADEN

And he would assassinate the secretary?

 

QUM

He would try.

 

BIN LADEN

It is worth the loss.  Proceed.

 

 

FADE OUT:

 

INT.  HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CHAMBER JANUARY 20TH.

 

Members of the House and Senate are arriving for State of the Union Speech.  Zoom in on NETWORK NEWS com­mentator in gallery doing pre‑speech commentary.

 

NETWORK NEWS

The President is expected to arrive momentarily.  The security for the speech is extraordinary.  Normally one of the cabinet members does not attend to insure the continuity of the government in the event of a terrorist attack.  Tonight three cabinet members are missing.  Secretary of Defense Kimble is reported to have had a sudden health problem this morning and is at an undisclosed military hos­pital.  The Secretaries of State and Interior are probably at the secret emergency command center beneath the Appalachian Moun­tains...

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

 

Castleberry, Wilder, and Interior are watching the television coverage of the State of the Union speech in the Eagle's Nest office.

 

TV SCREEN

 

Scene is of President arriving.

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

 

On a large screen the President is shown standing at the podium, and a standing ovation is in the process.  The Speaker of the House is pounding on his gavel to gain order.   The President begins the speech.

 

PRESIDENT

          My fellow Americans....

 

The screen goes blank.

Wilder pulls his service revolver and shoots Interior in the head. Castleberry grabs for a gun in his drawer and shoots Wilder.   People come rushing into the room.

 

 

TV SCREEN

 

The network newsman, BRANDON appears on the screen.

 

BRANDON

This is New York.  We have an unconfirmed report from Washington that there has been a massive explosion at the Capitol Building

 

Castleberry turns towards the main screen in the Crystal Room.  A red light is flashing at the location of Washington.

 

CASTLEBERRY

DEFCON 3 immediately.  Activate the National Emergency Communication System.

 


 

TV SCREEN.

 

Transmission from New York dissolves into static.  Picture is restored instantly.

 

BRANDON

We have live coverage from Balt­imore.

 

TV SCREEN

Scene of mushroom cloud rising over Washington.

 

BRANDON

Holy Christ!

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

Chaotic scene.  People rushing to their consoles, lights flashing everywhere.

 

CASTLEBERRY

(to Officer)  We have a confirmed nuclear strike on Washington.  But there's no additional incoming.

 

CASTLEBERRY

The goddamned terrorists did it.

 

He picks up the red phone.

 

CASTLEBERRY

(into phone)  What's your status?

 

EXT. THE PENTAGON

The building looks heavily damaged.

 

INTROOM BENEATH PENTAGON.

 

The room is heavily damaged.  An OFFICER is on a red telephone.

 

OFFICER

(into phone)  We have confirmation of a low yield nuclear strike on the Capital.  All the Indian Chiefs are presumed dead. 

 

INTCRYSTAL ROOM.

 

CASTLEBERRY

Negative.  I am assuming command under Executive Order 295.

 

 

TV SCREEN.

 

Helicopter shot over Washington The Washington Monument has been broken in half. An enormous fire is raging where the Capitol Building was located.

 

INT.  NETWORK NEWSROOM.

 

Brandon is speaking into the camera.

 

BRANDON

We have an unconfirmed report of a nuclear explosion in the nation's capitol.

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

CASTLEBERRY

(to Officer)   Activate MASSPATCH.  Preempt every communication line in the country.

 

 

CASTLEBERRY, cont’d

(into red telephone)  General Smith.  This is Castleberry at Cheyenne.  We have taken a hit in Washington.  I have assumed Acting Commander in Chief during the emergency.  We are at DEFCON 3 and holding.  Good.

 

EXT.  SCENE NEW YORK.

 

Panic in the streets.  People rushing to cars.  Traffic jams.

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM

 

CASTLEBERRY

(into red telephone)  Admiral Gates.  This is Castleberry at Cheyenne.  Confirmed strike on Washington.  I am Acting War Chief.  Thanks.

 

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM

 

The Officer is listening to a headset he is holding to one ear.

 

OFFICER

          MASSPATCH operational.

 

TV SCREEN.

 

Picture is interrupted and Castleberry appears on screen.

 

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

I am Major General Bruce Castle­berry and I am in the National Command Center of NORAD.  I must regretfully inform the nation that we have suffered a grievous terrorist attack on Washington and the President and Vice President are presumed dead.

 

NETWORK NEWS ROOM.

 

Brandon is sitting on set continuing to commentate.  Sees monitor with Castleberry talking.  Turns to DIRECTOR.

 

BRANDON

They've overridden our broadcast?

 

DIRECTOR

All networks.

 

The crew beings to gather around monitor to watch.

 

EXT. NEW YORK FREEWAY.

 

Cars are pulling off the road.

 

INTCAR.

 

Family is listening to radio.

 

RADIO

Pursuant to Executive Order 295, I have temporarily assumed the position of Acting Commander in Chief of the United States of America...

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

 

Castleberry is facing a TV Camera in the "Eagle's Nest".   His back is to the window overlooking the Crystal Room.

 

INT. NETWORK NEWS ROOM.

 

BRANDON

Bullshit.

 

TV SCREEN IN FAMILY LIVING ROOM.

 

Family is clustered around television set.  They appear to have been in the midst of packing to flee.

 

TV SCREEN

CASTLEBERRY

I am sitting in the Crystal Room beneath Cheyenne Mountain and we have the best information available on the current status of this emergency.

 

CAMERA PULLS BACK

 

Scene shows Castleberry with Crystal Room screens in background.

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

You are seeing exactly what we can see.   We are not involved in a nuclear war.  There are no, I repeat, no missiles launched against the United States.  The incident in Washington is a single, desperate terrorist attack. 

 

TV SCREEN.

CASTELBERRY

If the evil men who did this are watching, I want you to know we know who you are.  I have full command authority to retaliate this instant against you.

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

 

CASTLEBERRY

I repeat, we know who you are and we know you are watching us right now.  You  will regret for eternity what you have done.

 

Castleberry stands up and faces sideways towards the Crystal Room.

TV SCREEN IN FAMILY LIVING ROOM

 

Family is sitting on floor around tv set.

 

CASTLEBERRY

Never in the history of the United States have we faced a crisis equal to what is happening right now.  A group of desperate terrorists have made an enormous miscalculation about our nation and our people.  They have threatened to destroy the entire world for their desperate goals.  They have destroyed a city that is the heart and soul of America  They have not only assassinated our President, they have killed thousands of innocent people.  And they are counting on America to reel in horror and panic and permit them to try and rule the world.

 

INT.  NETWORK NEWSROOM.

 

Everyone is clustered around monitor on news set.

 

TV SCREEN

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

As you can plainly see, the attack on Washington is the only attack we have suffered.

 

Castleberry points to Crystal Room.

 

CASTLEBERRY (Cont'd)

The whole world is watching us now.  Our enemies especially are watching us now.  In the next few minutes, over the next few days and weeks, we will be judged.  We are one nation under God.   And we must prove what a nation we are. 

 

Brandon whispers to a cameraman.

 

BRANDON

I interviewed him recently for the Sunday show.  Boy is that tape going to be interesting to show now.

 

TV SCREEN.

CASTELBERRY

In my capacity as your acting Commander in Chief I have no choice but to declare an unprecedented military emergency.  As of this moment every reserve and national guard personnel are on active duty, and every civilian law enforcement agency is under my command.   A state of martial law now exists.  Anyone found rioting, looting, committing arson or any other civilian crime will be shot on sight.

 

INT. NETWORK NEWSROOM.

 

The people watching break out in murmurs of disbelief.

 

BRANDON

Jesus Christ.  We're about to be blown off the face of the earth and we have a military dictator.

 

TV SCREEN.

CASTLEBERRY

For  the  rest  of  my  fellow Ameri­cans, if you are at home, stay there.  If you are in your cars, go home.  If you are at work, and still have work to complete, do it, then go home.  Our federal govern­ment may be in a mess right now, but for most of you your life has gone on without needing the immediate attentions of our federal government.  My next order is quite simple, but will be difficult to perform under the circumstances.  I want everyone to go about their lives tomorrow morning like nothing has hap­pened. 

 

INT. NETWORK NEWSROOM.

BRANDON

Like nothing has happened?

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

Castleberry is seen speaking to TV Camera.

CASTLEBERRY

We must show the world and es­pecially our enemies what Americans are made of.  If our nation dissolves into a panicked mob, the entire world will pay the con­sequences.  We must hang tough.  We must not let this attack break our spirit.  I am reminded of the dark days of World War II when German rockets and bombs were raining down on London.  The people of that great nation which founded us put out the fires ever night, picked up the rubble from their streets the next morning, and went on to rid the world of the Nazi menace.  American are the children of every great nation on earth.  And every one of our homelands and people and peoples have been tested in a time of fire and have given us our will and our strength that has been forged into the greatest nation and people on the earth.

 

INT.  NETWORK NEWSROOM.

TV SCREEN.

 

CASTLEBERRY

We must immediately launch a massive relief effort for the victims of this terrorist attack on our nations' capitol. 

 

 

CASTLEBERRY (Cont'd)

I will leave it to the local authorities of the states of Virginia and Maryland to organize that relief effort, and all military commands at bases in both states will be under the full authority of the governors of those states.  We will need food and clothing for the relief.  Our public schools will be the collec­tion points for your donations.  Local national guard units will assist in the collection of the donations and deliver them to your nearest Air Force Base.  The Military Airlift command will fly the relief materials to the nearest operations bases to Washington.

 

INT.  HOSPITAL CAFETERIA.

 

Hundreds of hospital staff, doctors and nurses are gathered around a tv set.

 

TV SCREEN

CASTLEBERRY

We will need an unprecedented medical response for the people of Washing­ton  All medical personnel within 100 miles of Washington are hereby drafted.  All hospitals within 100 miles of Washington are hereby under military authority.  Insofar as you can contribute personnel and equipment to the relief effort without endangering your local population, you are hereby ordered to immediately proceed to Washington to assist in the relief.

 

The hospital staff quickly disburses and people are seen putting on coats, putting medications in bags and boxes, and equipment being loaded into cars and trucks.

 

 

 

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM.

 

Castleberry is handed a fax.

 

CASTLEBERRY

I promise  you  tonight  three  things. ­First, if you will show your courage and stand fast and keep our nation working, we will emerge from this crisis stronger and more united than we have ever been as a people.  That strength and that unity will prevent this kind of terrible attack from ever happening again. Second, as soon as it is possible I will restore civilian control to our nation.  In further­ance of that goal, I will tonight contact the governors of all 50 states and convene them in a secret location to appoint replace­ments for our members of the House and Senate who died defending our nation's honor.  They will in turn select a new civilian president.  Third, we will not let this attack pass un­punished.   You who launched this attack against an innocent people who merely want to live their lives in freedom hear my words. 

 

CASTLEBERRY (Cont'd)

You will be destroyed.  Your evil government will be destroyed. But we will not, and I repeat, we will never use nuclear weapons to punish you.  We do not wish to harm one individual innocent member of your society.  But mark my words and vow of every American tonight.  We will get even.

 

INT. NETWORK NEWSROOM.

 

TV SCREEN.

 

CASTLEBERRY

I am now going to restore the civilian broadcast system.   There will be no censorship.  A free society is a strong society.  As there are further developments during this emergency you will be instantly advised of same.  Tonight and for the next few weeks we are all soldiers of liberty.  In your hearts you know what is the right thing to do in our time of trial.  I trust in God and I trust in the American people to show that we are the greatest nation ever created by people.  And remember the words of our national anthem.  Through the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air our flag was still there.  By tomorrow morning's dawns early light, our flag will still be there as the beacon of freedom.

 

Thank you and good night. 

 

The people in the network newsroom applaud. We hear a whispered “too bad Bush wasn’t that good after 9/11”

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM"EAGLE'S NEST".

 

Castleberry slumps down into his chair.  A medical team that has been hiding out of sight of the camera rises, and carries out the body of State.   Another team comes in to pick up Wilder's body.   General Arthur walks in.

ARTHUR

Who was that?

 

CASTLEBERRY

Probably the greatest traitor in American History.   He puts Benedict Arnold to shame.  Our mothers will not be naming their children Sam in the future, and every family named Wilder ought to have a free name change if they want it. 

 

ARTHUR

Everyone accepted your command authority?

 

CASTLEBERRY

The history books will record that they did.

 

ARTHUR

Didn't they?

 

Castleberry gets up, goes to the edge of the room, and picks up a blood splattered brief case. 

 

CASTLEBERRY

The son of a bitch was carrying the codes.

 

He opens the brief case and looks inside.

 

ARTHUR

You mean Wilder?

 

CASTLEBERRY

They nearly had us, my friend.  You want to be my acting Vice Presi­dent?

 

ARTHUR

Good God!  No way.  How about General Bratton?

 

CASTLEBERRY

The NATO Commander.  Good choice.  I'm going to need one hell of a devious son of a bitch to help me.  I just promised the people we were going to get even without starting a nuclear war, and I haven't got the slightest idea what I'm gonna do.

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

 And get a steno in here.  We've got a long night's work putting this country back together.

 

ARTHUR

Did you know you screwed up the words to the Star Spangled Banner?

 

 

CASTLEBERRY

Shit.  I can't remember half of what I said on the broadcast.

 

ARTHUR

You'll get your chance to remem­ber.   That was probably the greatest speech in the history of the country.

 

CASTLEBERRY

Get me the goddamned steno and let's get to work.

 

INT. LIVING ROOM OF FAMILY

 

The family is still sitting on the floor watching television.

 

TV SCREEN

 

BRANDON

Again I repeat, America is safe.  On behalf of the network we ask everyone who is watching to do as General Castleberry said tonight.  We are going to repeat the crucial portions of his announcement in the wake of the destruction of Washing­ton.

 

INT. NETWORK NEWSROOM.

 

Brandon is wiping his brow, and watching the replay of the speech on the monitor.  The Director is standing next to him with a clip board.

 

DIRECTOR

We've got your tape of Castle­berry's interview.  You want to use it tonight?

 

BRANDON

No way.  Let's get through the night and see what happens.  Any reports from the streets?

 

DIRECTOR

It's amazing.     The freeways cleared.  Every light in the country must be on.   Every tv in the country is on and people are just watching like zombies.  The closest thing to this I can remember is the Kennedy assassina­tion and 9/11.

 

BRANDON

What about the rest of the world?

 

DIRECTOR

Same thing. Literally, the whole world is watching right now.

 

 

BRANDON

Did you notice  Castleberry never said who the enemy was and who launched the attack?

 

DIRECTOR

He apparently didn't have to.

 

BRANDON

I wonder what the hell he's going to do to get even.

 

DIRECTOR

You and everyone else.  We've also got some pretty graphic footage fresh out of Washington.

 

BRANDON

Hold it.  There'll be enough time later to document the mess.  Stick to the flags and the patriotic music and let's do our bit to see that dawn's early light.

 

INT. CRYSTAL ROOM

 

The room is packed with people, with a constant churn as some leave and new ones enter.  Castleberry is feverishly issuing orders into the telephone, to the steno, to Arthur, and to everyone else.  The red telephone rings.  Everyone in the room freezes.  It  stops ringing. 

 

MONTAGE:  DAWN ACROSS AMERICA.

GRAND CENTRAL STATION

 

Thousands of people going to work.  None of them are smiling.  Most are seen with grim expressions of determination.

 

THE MALL IN WASHINGTON.

 

A tent city is being erected.  The sky is filled with helicopters arriving and departing from landing areas.

 

A STREET IN WASHINGTON

 

The people are out in the street picking up bricks from fallen buildings and stacking them in piles on the sidewalk.

 

A SCHOOL YARD.

 

Hundreds of people are waiting loaded with boxes of food and clothing.

 

 

THE FRONT OF A BANK.

 

Two POLICEMEN are standing by the front door of the bank. The scene is utterly deserted.

 

1ST POLICEMAN

If there was going to be a run on the banks people'd be lining up by now.

 

2ND POLICEMAN

Not if they heard that general's speech last night.

 

A GHETTO

 

A long line of youth gang members streams from the front door of an Army recruiting office.

 

A RED CROSS OFFICE

 

A large crowd of people are waiting in line with their sleeves rolled up.

 

A TELEVISION STORE WINDOW

 

A crowd of people are standing in the street watching the televisions in the window, all of which are on.

 

AN AIR FORCE BASE IN THE WEST

 

A large transport plane is being loaded with relief supplies.

 

THE EXERCISE YARD OF A PRISON

 

A large group of prisoners are standing in perfect lines, at attention, and all appear to be well groom­ed.  The guards are standing by, shaking their heads.

 

EAST LOS ANGELES

 

A parade of low riders is slowly driving down a barrio street, calling to the people in the homes to bring out their donations for Washington so they can  take the stuff to school.

 

EXT.  SALT LAKE CITY.  THE NEXT DAY.

 

A lingering pan across the city, holding on the Mormon Temple, then zooming in on the mountains east of the city.

 

INT. A LARGE CAVE

 

The walls of the cave are lined with filing cabinets.  Folding chairs are set up in the middle of the room sufficient to accommodate over 100 people.  Most of the chairs are filled.  At the head of the room is a platform, with an American flag next to the dais.  Castleberry is graveling the meeting to order.

CASTLEBERRY

I want to thank all you governors for being here on such short notice.  I think you know why we're here.  This country needs a President and a Congress.

 

A distinguished silver‑haired gentleman in the first row stands.   He is GOVERNOR JOHNSON.

 

JOHNSON

General Castleberry.  I'm Governor Johnson of South Carolina.  I'd like to make a motion.  That you be confirmed as President of the United States until you declare the emergency is ended and you call for elections.

 

The room explodes in applause.  People are shouting "Second" and "Approved".  Castleberry gavels them quiet.

 

CASTLEBERRY

Are there any other nominations?

 

The room explodes again with shouts of "Nominations Closed."

 

CASTLEBERRY

All those in favor please stand.

 

Everyone stands.

CASTLEBERRY

You're going to have to appoint a Supreme Court so someone can swear me in.

 

INT.  NETWORK NEWSROOM.

The crew and Brandon have been watching the appointment of Castleberry on their monitor.

BRANDON

Too bad we couldn't have fed that live.

 

DIRECTOR

They had a point. Don’t give’m a second chance. Once they're out of Salt Lake we can air it.  Pretty amazing scene.

 

INT. CAVE.

 

Castleberry is standing at the dais as applause declines.  He pulls out some papers from inside his coat and starts to speak.

 

CASTLEBERRY

 

I accept.  But I promise you that this state of emergency is not going to last very long if I have anything to say about it.  We need an elected President, not some old military war horse who just happened to have a television camera in his office the other night.   I'm not going to dwell on the tragedy that has fallen on Washing­ton  We know what happened and we know who did it.  We're picking up the pieces.

 

I want to tell you how proud I am of my country.  The American people proved themselves last night and today. 

 

CASTLEBERRY (Cont`d)

And I know from here on out this is going to be the kind of country we all dreamed it could be.  We've paid a terrible price to be here today.  To just be alive, let alone still free.  But alive we are and free we are, and no one on earth doubts our resolve now.

 

I've promised you we'd punish those who attacked us. And we will.  So help me God we will.   But we're going to do it the right way.  The honorable way. And in a way that will make this role safer for everyone alive today and in the future.  That's a tall order.  But we're tall people.

 

I shouldn't go making any more promises.  Lord knows we have enough to do to put our government back together and gain our jus­tice.  But I have another promise to make, that requires the help of everyone in our great country.

 

Our capitol city is badly damaged.  The bomb used, though nuclear in nature, was small.   The radio­activity was minimal.  The major damage was centered on Capitol Hill and on our Federal buildings.  I just learned that though the National Archive Building was heavily damaged, the originals of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution survived without a scratch.  That is symbolic of our strength.   With your help, my promise to you is this:  by this time next year we will rebuild Washington and remove every last trace of the attack.

 

The Governors leap to their feet and cheer.  Castle­berry gravels them quiet.

 

CASTLEBERRY (Cont'd)

I think it's time you folks got busy getting me a Congress.  Thank you.

 

Castleberry walks from the dais to thunderous applause.

 

EXT. AIR FORCE ONE.

 

The Commander in Chief's plane is seen nearing Denver.

 

INTAIR FORCE ONE.

 

Castleberry is meeting with  Arthur, his chief of staff, BRATTON, his newly appointed Vice President.  Bratton is a lantern‑jawed type.

 

ARTHUR

We still have no word about your wife and daughter.

 

CASTLEBERRY

It's pretty chaotic there, isn't it?

 

ARTHUR

It is.  But if they were more than a mile away from the Capitol, they're probably o.k.  The phone company is setting up special call centers all around Washington.  There must be a million people who want to call friends and relatives to tell them they're o.k.  And the phone people aren't charging a dime for the system or the calls.  First time I ever saw them do something nice.

 

CASTLEBERRY

Once the shock wears off, our people are going to be screaming for revenge.  And they're going to get it.  No more of this crap about now knowing exactly who blew up our embassy or our barracks.  We know exactly who did it.  

 

ARTHUR

What’s the plan?.

 

CASTLEBERRY

We’re going to isolate and bankrupt all of them. The Iranians, the Saudis, everyone of those outfits that let the god drunk mullahs stir up jihad. And we’re going to take out bin Laden if we have to level every mountain in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We've got three hundred million angry people.  We ought to have a lot of support.

 

Starting tomorrow we’re not buying a drop of oil from any middle eastern country.

And we’ll ask our so called friends around the world to do the same. If they don’t support us, we’ll bomb the oil fields and refineries and shut them down.

 


And I’m going to ask every one of those middle eastern countries to vow to rid their countries of the jihad infestation. If they refuse, we shut down their banking systems, trade, everything. If they want to live in the 8th century, they’ll find out how nice it really was back them. We’re going to create the mother of all quarantines.

 

 

They get up and leave the compartment.  Castleberry stares out the window of the plane as it lands.

 

EXT. WASHINGTON. CAPITOL HILL.

The Hill is a beehive of activity with a large number of construction workers and pieces of construction equipment are seen clearing the rubble.

 

INTCRYSTAL ROOM A FEW DAYS LATER.

 

Castleberry is still in his "Eagle's Nest" office which has been converted into the Oval Office West.  Brandon is interviewing him.

 

BRANDON

A lot's happened since  we talked last.

 

CASTLEBERRY

(sarcastically)  No Shit.

 

BRANDON

(to cameraman) Erase that.  (to Castleberry)  Give me a break.  How does it feel to be the first military dictator in American history?

 

CASTLEBERRY

Like shit.  And if you want to ask questions like that, you can get your ass out of my office and out of this country.

 

BRANDON

But you are in effect a military dictator.

 

CASTLEBERRY

You're right.  Understand I don't want to be, but I've got the job.  You media people are just itching to see if I'll turn into some kind of Generalissimo Franco and decide to keep the job for life.  Well forget it.  I believe in the Constitution and I swore an oath to defend the Constitution.  I'm just a caretaker.  And maybe you all will finally realize that gen­erals, at least this one, aren't lunatics who want nothing but power and to blow the world all to hell.

 

An aide rushes in and whispers into Castleberry's ear.  His face lights up and he breaks out into a big smile.

 

BRANDON

Good news?

 

Castleberry's wife and daughter are escorted into the office.  Castleberry leaps up, and bear‑hugs the both of them.  The cameraman is seen carefully recording the scene.  Brandon is seen softly talking into his mike.

 

BRANDON

President Castleberry's wife and daughter, who were in Washington the night of the attack, have just been reunited with the general.  This is Frank Brandon, the Network News.

 

EXT. CAPITAL BUILDING THE FOLLOWING JANUARY 5TH

 

The scene is a Presidential Inauguration.  In the background workers can be seen putting the finishing touches on the rebuilt Capitol Building.  Castleberry is standing at the podium, in a suit, with his right hand raised and his left hand on a Bible held by an elderly man wearing a black robe.  As the scene con­tinues text appears on the screen.

 


TEXT

On November 6th General Bruce Castleberry was elected by the largest vote margin in American history as President of the United States.

 

His campaign was simple and direct.  He promised only one thing and that was

 

"America will get even."

 

 

 

 

THE END

 

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