At the Hour of Our Death
Feb. 27, 1999
Steven Long Mitchell
At the Hour of our Death
SOMEWHERE OVER YELLOWSTONE we can watch a small, single-engine plane cruising over snow-covered mountains. The plane is piloted by Jarod (who's in the cockpit all on his own) and we can see him pick up his cell phone, dialing Sydney's number.
Inside the Centre lobby, Sydney's cell phone rings and he takes the call; it's Jarod. Jarod tells him how beautiful Yellowstone looks from 12.000 feet and that it's very important that he speaks to Miss Parker and that the package he sent will be delivered to her ("Speaking of black clouds, is Miss Parker around?"). The conversation switches from chatty to serious when Jarod's engine starts to misfire. It is obvious that Jarod is in some trouble when black engine oil spills on his windscreen. The stalling engine demands Jarod's full attention and he quickly tells Sydney, "Sydney, if you don't talk to me in one hour..." then disconnects and throws the phone onto the empty seat next to him.
AT THE CENTRE in the Sim Lab, Broots and Angelo are sitting in front of a television that's playing out a drama, similar to 'The Lone Ranger', only the "actors" are actually monkeys, dressed in human clothes. Broots is laughing hard while Angelo just stares blankly at the screen, not moving a muscle. Miss Parker enters the Sim Lab undetected and surprises Broots and Angelo from behind. "Home movies, Broots?" Broots jumps up, startled, just like is so Broots. She looks a little pale and takes a swig at a bottle of antacid. Upon Broots inquiring if she's okay, she assures him that she's "just peachy". Broots explains to her that by watching the silly monkey movie, Sydney was hoping "a little cognitive stimulation might improve Angelo's expressive abilities". Obviously, it is not working for Angelo... Sydney enters and also asks if Miss Parker is okay. It's clearly annoying her and she brushes off Sydney's concern with one of her poignant remarks, "Jeez, a person gets a little gas and people think you're dying". She turns off the television and Angelo suddenly blinks, shakes his head as if waking from a daydream and smiles in relief. Sydney hands her the envelope that Jarod sent and Miss Parker opens it with the words, "Probably another twisted attempt to rub my face in my twisted dysfunctional family life". The envelope reveals a white box with a set of rosary beads inside. She takes them out of the box, recognition and grief clearly visible on her face. Angelo mutters something about Miss Parker having pain and shortly thereafter she sways and collapses to the floor. Broots and Sydney are immediately at her side but she's lost consciousness and Broots remarks that she's running a fever. Broots goes off to call 911. Angelo picks up the rosary from where Miss Parker dropped it and utters, "Miss Parker needs faith. But faith is dead".
SOMEWHERE OVER YELLOWSTONE Jarod is still struggling with keeping his engine running and his plane airborne. His situation hasn't improved, he picks up the radio of his plane, issuing a mayday. The connection breaks off and Jarod has his hands full, trying to get his plane down in one piece. He pulls at the controls, but it doesn't seem to be helping much. His plane collides with the top of a ledge, causing it to lose one of its floats. The plane continues to plummet downward until it hits the surface of a river. The plane flips over in a shower of water.
We see the plane has ended up in the river, upside down. Jarod drags himself to the riverbank, clearly having sustained injuries; he's in pain, his left arm awkwardly pressed to his torso. He crawls out of the water and rests his head against a weathered log. His right leg is gashed at the thigh and bleeding freely. He sinks back and loses consciousness.
IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM OF A HOSPITAL an EMT, nurses and a doctor escort Miss Parker along a hallway, lying unconscious on a gurney. Sydney and Broots are hovering nearby, concerned about Miss Parker's condition. The doctor informs them that she's suffering from massive internal bleeding and probably a perforated ulcer. Sydney tells Broots that he has to go back to the Centre because Jarod is supposed to call. He instructs Broots to stay with Miss Parker at the hospital.
In the emergency room we see Miss Parker turning her head to the side, watching a priest performing the last rights over a dead person lying on a gurney there. The last few words of his prayer ring in her head.
FLASHBACK TO THE CENTRE, back when Miss Parker and Jarod were still kids. Young Jarod is sitting at a desk in the Sim Lab, Young Miss Parker comes down the stairs, asking Jarod if he can keep a secret. "There's a dead body in the Centre," she tells him. Miss Parker and Jarod talk about trying to find the body. Meanwhile, Young Angelo is watching the two of them and their conversation from an air vent shaft in the Sim Lab.
IN AN OPERATING THEATRE IN THE HOSPITAL Miss Parker is just about to be operated on by a team of surgeons. They talk about how critical her condition is. "This one's gonna need a miracle to survive."
AT THE CRASH SITE Jarod grunts in pain as he regains consciousness. He moves his arm with the dislocated shoulder over the wooden log and then jerks his torso around, forcing the bones back into position. He yells in pain and the sound echoes around the mountains. He reaches down to pick up the survival kit that's lying near his feet. He draws it closer to him, then coughs and passes out.
FLASHBACK TO THE CENTRE, Young Miss Parker and Young Jarod are watching Raines from a concealed position. They talk about death and why it is that people never talk about it. Jarod states, "I wonder what it's like to die." Miss Parker then answers, "Ask Raines, looks like he died a long time ago." They follow Mr. Raines (back then still Dr. Raines), trying to locate the coffin with the dead body. Suddenly, Mr. Raines comes back towards their position and they desperately try to find a place to hide in. They enter an abandoned office. Upon hearing sounds, Raines looks around then enters the abandoned office. Finding no one inside, he leaves again. We see Miss Parker, Jarod and Angelo hiding inside a ventilation shaft that Angelo obviously showed them. Jarod sighs in relief, "That was too close." Miss Parker laughs at him, "Don't wet your pants, Jarod. You look like you're gonna pass out or something."
AT THE CRASH SITE Jarod is still propped against the log. He applies a last piece of bandage that he has wrapped around his gashed thigh. Even still, an excessive amount of blood has seeped through the gauze. He hears a snarl from behind him. He turns to see a white wolf behind him, licking his lips. He shouts at the wolf to leave him alone, throwing a rock at him. The wolf runs away. Jarod rummages the survival kit and finds an emergency radio. He activates it and is relieved to hear a voice responding at the other end.
At the Montana Air Patrol Station, someone receives Jarod's distress call and asks him for his exact location. Jarod can tell them that he crashed in a river but before he can give his exact location, the radio erupts in a burst of static and the connection is lost. One of the Air Patrol officers remarks that they've probably lost him for good. Apparently, there's a cold front moving in. "Nobody could survive a night out there. No one."
Back at the crash site, Jarod throws the radio to the ground in disgust. He starts to yell, panic evident in his voice. But there's only his own echo greeting him as he shouts for help.
AT THE CENTRE in the Sim Lab, Sydney's phone rings. He picks it up hurriedly, hoping it's Jarod. However, it is Broots, informing him that Miss Parker has been moved from the OR to the ICU. No one's allowed to see her yet and Sydney tells Broots that he's on his way.
AT THE CRASH SITE we see that dusk has fallen, it is getting dark. A look at his watch tells Jarod that it's 8.45 pm. The winds blows through the trees, wolves howl in the distance. Jarod takes a thermal blanket out of the survival kit and wraps it around his shoulders. He flicks through the contents of the kit and discovers a box of matches. Upon opening it, it reveals three lonesome matches. He piles up some twigs and lights the first match. A sudden gust of wind extinguishes the flame. He takes out the second match. It breaks. The third match does light and Jarod carefully applies it to the twigs which start to catch on fire. Jarod looks up at the sky and realizes that it has started snowing.
AT THE HOSPITAL Broots opens the door to Miss Parker's ICU room, carefully looking around to make sure his entry stays undetected. He moves over to Miss Parker's bedside. She is unconscious and pale, looking very fragile. An oxygen tube leads to her nose and we hear the monotonous bleeps of the heart-monitoring machine in the background. Broots pulls up her blanket and starts talking to her: "It's so strange, you giving me a hard time all the time but I know you don't mean it. I know it's just your way. You've always been there for me. Whenever I needed someone, there was you. Man, you probably can't even hear me. I just want you to know that other than Debbie, I feel closer to you than to anyone. Miss Parker, you can't leave me. Miss Parker, don't be afraid. Don't be afraid, Miss Parker."
FLASHBACK TO THE CENTRE where Young Miss Parker, Young Jarod and Young Angelo move through a ventilation shaft. Angelo tells them that "Miss Parker needs faith" and they soon find the room with the supposed body. They exit the ventilation shaft and are at first a bit intimidated by the strangely glowing structure that enters their vision. It is a large dome-shaped structure, made from metal girders that meet at the center of the dome. The girders are covered with diaphanous material which appears to be glowing. The trio moves closer to the glowing dome and Miss Parker gets second thoughts about going in. However, Jarod and Angelo are eager to go in and Angelo pulls back the fabric at the entrance so that they can enter.
AT THE CRASH SITE Jarod puts another twig on the fire. The white wolf is back, whimpering audibly. Jarod pulls the thermal blanket tighter around his shoulders in a vain attempt to keep warm. He yells at the wolf and throws another rock at it. Jarod turns back to the sparse fire but suddenly a clump of snow from the overhead branch of a tree plummets down onto the small fireplace, extinguishing the fire altogether. Jarod moans in frustration: "No!"
AT THE HOSPITAL Broots is still sitting at Miss Parker's bedside, gently stroking her face with his thumb. The door opens and Sydney enters. Broots gets up from his chair, telling Sydney that the doctors told him she might not make it. A nurse comes in, telling the two to leave because Miss Parker needs her rest. As Sydney and Broots are leaving the room, they hear Miss Parker muttering a word: "Faith."
Sydney and Broots leave Miss Parker's room and walk along the ICU hallway, stopping at one point. Sydney remembers a Centre project a long time ago, code-named 'Faith'. He urges Broots to go back to the Centre with him as he suspects that Jarod has been in a plane crash and he wants Broots to help him locate where Jarod's plane might have gone down. One of the nurses assures them to notify them if Miss Parker's condition changes.
Inside the ICU Miss Parker mutters to herself that she needs to find Faith.
FLASHBACK TO THE CENTRE Young Miss Parker enters the dome and walks past Jarod to the "coffin". It is set up on a trestle and for all intents and purposes looks like a coffin except for the hand holes cut at frequent intervals on the sides. There's a young girl lying inside, a blanket covering her from the neck down. She looks very pale with dark shadows under her eyes, she has long, straight, blonde hair. Jarod, Miss Parker and Angelo are staring at her in fascination, but jump when she stirs and opens her eyes. She tells the trio that her name is Faith and that she is sick. They brought her to the Centre to get well. She tells Miss Parker that she hasn't seen any other children in the Centre and that she would like to play with her some time. Miss Parker is very excited at the prospect of becoming friends with Faith. Jarod quickly skims her chart and the three of them leave hurriedly when they hear noises, indicating that someone's apparently approaching. Miss Parker promises her that they'll be back.
Outside the dome, the trio is hiding behind some discarded equipment. They watch the shadows of the medical team flicker against the fabric that covers the dome. Miss Parker tells Jarod and Angelo that she likes the idea of becoming Faith's friend and the prospect of playing with her. Jarod, however, has to dampen her enthusiasm by telling her that Faith "isn't just sick, she's very sick." Her chart told him that she's not going to make it. Miss Parker is devastated. "I don't want her to die. I don't want anyone to die."
AT THE CRASH SITE Jarod is huddled and shivering under his thermal blanket. The snow is still falling.
AT THE HOSPITAL Miss Parker lies pale and unmoving on her bed, alone.
AT THE CENTRE Angelo sits in the middle of a circle of lit candles. He is holding the rosary and rocking gently backward and forward as he recites the Catholic prayer. "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our deaths. Amen."
AT THE CRASH SITE Jarod slowly slumps over onto his side, the side of his face resting in the snow. He is close to giving up fighting against the cold and the pain. He keeps lying like that, unmoving.
AT THE HOSPITAL Miss Parker's eyes have opened but are staring sightlessly towards the end of the bed. The heart-monitoring machine emits a monotonous whine, indicating that her heart has stopped beating.
AT THE CENTRE Angelo continues reciting the prayer.
AT THE CRASH SITE Jarod opens his eyes when he hears the sound of a child's laughter. He sees Faith skipping and jumping in front of the shrubbery opposite him. She is surrounded by a glowing aura. She smiles at him, "Hi, Jarod."
AT THE HOSPITAL a nurse enters Miss Parker's room, followed by the doctor and an orderly with a crash cart. They start reviving Miss Parker, applying the paddles of the fibrillator to her chest, shocking her with electric pulses. Her body jerks up from the bed involuntarily from the jolts of electricity. Faith appears as a transparent glowing image at the foot of her bed. She greets her with a simple "Hi."
FLASHBACK TO THE CENTRE, Young Miss Parker, Young Jarod and Young Angelo re-enter the dome. Faith is lying unmoving in her "coffin" and Angelo gently rocks her shoulder to wake her up. She is paler and weaker than at the previous visit, she does not sit up. It is evident to the young trio that Faith hasn't long to live, even more so when Faith tells them that she just saw her mother - who was only a figment of Faith's imagination. Miss Parker places a rosary in Faith's hand, telling her that it used to be her mother's and that she wanted Faith to have it. Miss Parker talks to Faith about what the rosary meant to her and what her mother had said to her about it: "She said that I should hold it and think about her whenever I feel frightened or sad. It was like I would feel her with me again. And before you know it, I'm not frightened or lonely anymore. It always makes me feel better." Faith is genuinely thankful. "Thank you for being my friend. I will always be your friend. I will be there for you, watching over you, just like my Mommy." She closes her eyes and her face relaxes, she softly whispers the word "Mommy". Jarod states that she's gone. Miss Parker urges Faith not to leave her but an alarm starts to sound and the three have to leave the dome.
AT THE HOSPITAL even though Miss Parker is technically dead and her eyes stare sightlessly, one gets the impression that she can see Faith sitting at the end of the bed. Faith talks to her, telling her that she is watching over her and urges her to fight and not to give up. The doctors and nurses keep reviving Miss Parker but the heart monitor still shows flat line.
FLASHBACK TO THE PARKER RESIDENCE, Young Miss Parker and Catherine Parker are sitting at Catherine's dressing table. Catherine is brushing her hair, using long strokes of a long-handled brush. Miss Parker looks at her mother in the mirror. "Mommy, show me how to braid my hair." Her mother takes a strand of Miss Parker's hair and starts combing through it with her fingers and starts braiding her daughter's hair.
AT THE HOSPITAL the heart monitor still shows flat line but then a zigzag sinus rhythm pattern appears, indicating that Miss Parker's heart is beating again. The nurse states, "This one's a fighter." Faith is still sitting at the foot of Miss Parker's bed, smiling at her.
AT THE CRASH SITE Jarod is still lying with his head in the snow. Faith appears again to him again. "Jarod, you can't give up." "I don't understand." "Just hang on. They'll be coming for you soon. Don't give up." She laughs and skips off, fading into the shrubbery. Jarod struggles to sit up. He takes a fluorescent flare tube from the survival kit and breaks it. The tube starts to emit a faint yellow-ish green light, Jarod holds it close to him. He smiles weakly at the wolf who is sniffing the ground nearby. Jarod mutters to himself, "Not yet, you can't have me yet. Just hang on, it'll be daylight soon. Hang on." He is shivering heavily as the snow still falls around him.
AT THE CENTRE in the Sim Lab Broots is leaning over a map on a table. Sydney enters, holding the rosary in his right hand. Broots informs him that there's no news on Miss Parker but that her father's flying back to see her right now. Sydney places a file in front of Broots, telling him that he found it very deep in the Centre Archive. It's a file on Faith, telling them that she was a young girl who was held in the Centre a long time ago. The record is incomplete and Sydney assumes that someone "went to a lot of trouble to hide the truth." Broots does, however, have news on Jarod's possible location. After having checked back with Montana Air Patrol, he has zeroed in on Jarod's location, surmising that he must be somewhere along the three mile bank of the river he indicates on a map. Sydney tells him to contact Montana Air Patrol. "I just hope we're not too late."
AT THE HOSPITAL we see a nurse taking Miss Parker's pulse. She turns to Mr. Parker who is sitting at Miss Parker's bedside, his head bowed. The nurse says her vital signs are stable and that there's nothing else to do than wait. Miss Parker mutters, "Faith. Where are you? Where are you?"
FLASHBACK TO THE CENTRE, Young Miss Parker and Young Jarod are in the Sim Lab, sitting outside the round ventilation grills near the bottom of the stairs. Young Angelo is sitting on the other side of one of the grills. Miss Parker is crying, Jarod looks at her with concern. "Are you going to be all right?" Miss Parker tells him that she thinks so. Upon Miss Parker's question if they will ever see Faith again, he assures her that "she said she'd always be watching over us." Jarod takes a sobbing Miss Parker in his arms in an attempt to console her.
AT THE HOSPITAL Miss Parker regains consciousness. She sees her father at her side, a silent tear rolling down her cheek. She asks her father, "Daddy? Who is Faith?" He simply answers, "Faith was your sister."
AT THE CRASH SITE dawn has broken. Jarod is wrapped in the thermal blanket, partly covered in snow, shivering, but sitting upright against the wooden log.
FLASHBACK TO THE CENTRE, Young Jarod is hiding behind discarded equipment, watching the silhouettes of Mr. Parker and Mr. Raines in the dome at Faith's side. Mr. Raines informs Mr. Parker that the Cleaners will there soon to take care of the body. Mr. Parker barks at Mr. Raines that he hasn't got any compassion and that he wants Catherine's wishes honored by letting Father Moore take care of Faith's remains.
AT THE CRASH SITE the savage wolf is growling at Jarod. He pulls back the blanket, picks up a rock and throws it at the wolf. The rock doesn't discourage the wolf, however the sound of an approaching helicopter does. Jarod waves his uninjured arm in the air. The pilot and the co-pilot of the chopper exchange glances, clearly stunned that Jarod is still alive.
IN THE HOSPITAL Miss Parker questions her father about why he didn't tell her about Faith. "I didn't tell you about Faith at first because I knew she was dying. After your mother, I couldn't tell you. We'd both had enough. [...] Her parents were killed, she became a ward of the State. Then she was diagnosed with leukemia. The doctors said that nothing could be done. The State put her in a convalescent home to die. [...] Your mother's priest, Father Moore, told her about the girl. They went to see her. Your mother said that might have been you in the nursing home. She had to do something, otherwise she couldn't live with herself. [...] With Father Moore's help we brought her to the Centre where Catherine could be with her. We doctored her with an experimental drug the Centre was developing. Future treatment proved successful because of what we had learned from Faith. She died shortly after Catherine."
Broots and Sydney then arrive, both overjoyed to see Miss Parker alive. Sydney places the rosary in Miss Parker's hand. More tears roll down her cheeks and she stifles a sob. Broots and Sydney leave again.
Outside in the ICU hallway, Sydney's cell phone rings. He takes the brief call and with a laugh on his lips tells Broots that they found Jarod alive. The both laugh in relief.
IN ANOTHER HOSPITAL we see Jarod lying on a bed, his left arm in a sling, his hand connected to a drip. He stirs as he feels a presence in the room. It is an older man in a priest's frock, a white collar at his throat. He is pushing a wheelchair. He tells Jarod that it's nice to finally meet him in the flesh and that his name is Father Moore. Jarod thanks him for helping him but Father Moore only says, "Catherine Parker would have wanted it that way."
IN MISS PARKER'S RESIDENCE Miss Parker is sitting in an armchair, a blanket over her legs. She is holding the rosary in one hand and the phone in the other. She is telling Jarod that she had forgotten how beautiful the rosary is and asks him how he got it. We see Jarod sitting on a broad window sill that has a view up to the mountains. He is holding a cup in one hand and the phone in the other. He tells Miss Parker that he got the rosary from Father Moore who found it clutched in Faith's hand. "Do you ever think about her?" Miss Parker asks him. "I think about her all the time. It's ironic, too." "What is?" "All those years ago, we went searching for death and we found someone who saved our lives." "I'm sure she was in that room with me." "And I'm sure she was with me up on that mountain." "She said she would always be watching over us." "She was." "Are we crazy?" "I don't know exactly what happened. But I do know that I'm sure of one thing." "What?" "Love transcends death. That the people we love touch our lives, even after they're gone." Jarod lowers the receiver from his ears and disconnects the phone. Tears form in Miss Parker's eyes as she studies the rosary in her hand.
AT A CEMETARY Miss Parker and Mr. Parker are standing at the grave marked 'Faith Parker'. Miss Parker places the rosary on it. She leans in to her father and he kisses her tenderly on the forehead.
ON THE MOUNTAIN AT THE CRASH SITE Faith laughs and skips off, disappearing into the shrubbery.