SCENE: The prairie. It’s the dead of winter. The sky sweeps above in 180 degrees of piercing blue, studded with a few isolated scudding clouds, pale with the reflections of frozen ice crystals in the air, as the very humidity itself is frozen. The wind is light – 10 mph – as it sweeps across the plains. As far as the eye can see, there is snow.
A squad car rolls up a four lane freeway. Behind the wheel, Officer Tom CHRISTIANSON, a Barnes County sheriff’s deputy, sails briskly up the road, his whoopie lights turned off. CHRISTIANSON, a trim, purposeful man in his late thirties, looks tired, even a little haggard, but his eyes are focused and fierce. The camera briefly focuses on a green freeway sign: “Fargo 72; Valley City 12”. And then another: “Exit 288 – No Services”.
CHRISTIANSON slows and pulls up behind a Ford F150 Club Cab, which is idling on the shoulder of the eastbound lane just east of the exit He climbs out of his squad car, dons his stetson, and walks up to the pickup, his breath steaming in the bitter cold as it blows away.
Jake and Donna STADEL, a thirty-something couple, are standing by the tailgate. Jake is carrying a hunting rifle; Donna, a long-barreled hunting shotgun. CHRISTIANSON shakes Jake and then Donna’s hands.
CHRISTIANSON: Jake. Donna.
J STADEL: Deputy.
D STADEL: Tom.
J STADEL: So is it true what they’ve been saying?
CHRISTIANSON: (Shakes head in a way that says “just a little numb from fatigue and confusion”). No idea. Last thing anyone knows is that all the TV and cable networks went off the air.
J STADEL: Did you see that one live newscast where they…
D STADEL: …overran the news crew live on the air, on camera…
J STADEL: In the middle of that riot?
(All three go silent, shaking their heads, wincing in horror at the horrid memory).
CHRISTIANSON: Yep. I did.
J STADEL: So they’re saying they (thumb points over shoulder, off-camera to the right) are pretty much everywhere these days?
CHRISTIANSON: The whole east coast. All of California. The whole deep south. Even the desert southwest. The last ham-radio transmissions say they’re pretty much the only thing left walking in those parts of the country. There’s a few survivors, I suppose, but they’re few and far between.
J STADEL: Jeez.
D STADEL: God.
J STADEL: So we’re…
CHRISTIANSON: Us and South Dakota, northern Minnesota, Montana, the U.P,. Alaska, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and parts of Alberta, Russia, Finland…
(All three shake their heads as the thought trails off).
CHRISTIANSON: Well, thanks for calling this in. Let’s get to it.
(Camera pulls back and pans right, and we see a large herd of zombies trailing off to the east, perhaps two hundred of them – all of them frozen stiff; a few jerk fitfully about and hack and gack feebly; most are utterly frozen. The three grab machetes and axes, and walk toward group and start hacking).
CHRISTIANSON: You still doing poker on Friday, Jake? (Grunts has he hacks off a frozen head)
J STADEL: Oh, ya. You betcha. Won’t be there until after Shania’s basketball game. (Plunges knife into zombie skull)
CHRISTIANSON: How’s the team doing this year?
D STADEL: She’s finally getting enough playing time. Now we just gotta get her chemistry grade up… (Smashes a head with an axe)
CHRISTIANSON: I had to take away Ashley’s X-box…
(Fade to black over mundane small talk as the three matter-of-factly go about lopping off frozen zombies).