1991

"THE OLD FOREST"
TREATMENT
By
Josh Becker


From An Idea By:

Josh Becker
David Goodman
Bruce Campbell

 

       A Forest Ranger, an American Indian, and a Poacher, all live and work in the same area of the north woods.  All three men love the woods and subsist because of them.  The Poacher kills bears for a living, selling the internal organs to Korean merchants.  The Indian, living on a neighboring reservation, is an environmental terrorist: sabotaging logging and surveying equipment he is an expert marksman and shoots out the equipment from great distances.  The Ranger's job is to stop both the Indian and the Poacher.  To the Ranger's chagrin and embarrassment he also supervises the logging operation in his neck of the National Forest.  Also, the Ranger and the Indian are good friends.  Worse still, the Ranger completely agrees with what the Indian stands for, just not his methods.
       The Poacher's favorite spot to hunt bear is in The Old Forest, a section of the Indian reservation bordering the tract of National Forest that's being logged.  The Old Forest is the ancient Indian burial ground with old markings on the trees.  The bears come there because of the stream that runs through it, that's where the Salmon spawn.  The Poacher kills a bear and just as he's skinning it he finds a knife at his throat the Indian's knife.  The Indian informs him to stop hunting in The Old Forest anymore, or else!  The Poacher actually pleads that the Indian let him take the bear's organs with him he's got five kids and needs the money to feed them.  No luck.  The Poacher leaves empty handed.  The Indian takes as much of the bear meat as he can carry back to the reservation where there is little else but poverty, hunger and despair.  Soon thereafter the Ranger comes upon the remains of the bear carcass and is sickened he doesn't know who the poacher is, but someday he'll get him.
       The Indian reservation council has already sold off the water rights to the stream in The Old Forest.  Very soon they will be building a hydro electric damn in the northern part of the reservation.  The council now wants to sell off The Old Forest itself to the same Developer who bought the water rights and is also logging the National Forest.  The Indian is flatly against this, but no one listens; they need the money or they will starve in the coming winter.
       The only access to the spot where the damn will be built is an old, steel bridge.  The Indian sneaks up to the bridge at night with a knapsack full of dynamite.  As he's preparing the charges, the bridge blows up.  He sees the Poacher fleeing the scene.  The Poacher sees the Indian.  When the Indian nears the reservation he finds State Police surrounding his house the Poacher set him up.  The Indian takes off into the woods, away from the cops, and after the Poacher.
       The furious Developer, sabotaged many times in the past by the Indian, now screwed to the tune of millions with the destruction of the bridge, berates the Ranger for not looking after his interests.  He then hires his own "hunters" to go into the woods after the Indian and kill him.
       The Ranger heads out into the woods he knows so well to get to the Indian before the "hunters" get him.
       The Indian is stalking the Poacher who set him up.  The Poacher is trying to kill the Indian because the Indian is trying to kill him.
       Behind the three of them are the "hunters" led by the Developer.
       The chase, full of booby traps and ambushes, leads them to a mountain.  Only our three woodsmen have the ability to scale it and make it to the other side.  The Developer and his "hunters" give up and go back.
       From here on out, as the chase goes into its second and third day, it is just the three men and their abilities to live in the woods, hunt and stalk.
       The Poacher hides on the side of a wooded hill and awaits the approach of the Indian.  As the Indian nears a shot rings out from the hillside, striking him in the shoulder knocking him down.  He drops to the ground behind a fallen tree.  Bullets crash in all around.  He detaches the scope from his rifle and watches the wooded hillside.  Finally, he sees the glare of something reflective.  The Indian fires at the glare and a moment later the Poacher's body comes rolling down the hill out of the woods.  His rifle has chrome plating.  The Poacher is bleeding profusely from the gut and is sure to die.  The Indian asks the Poacher why he blew up the bridge?  It's so the Salmon will come and so will the bears.  The Indian now knows that he can never go back he's a killer.  He takes off further into the woods.
       The Ranger arrives at the downed Poacher, still alive, but clearly dying.  The Ranger tells him to hold on, the Developer and his men should be there soon.  The Ranger continues the chase.  A few moments later the Poacher hears footsteps in the leaves thank God, it's the Developer's men, he'll be saved.  He cranes his head around to see a pack of ferocious, starving wolves coming for him.
       The Ranger tracks the blood of the Indian deeper and deeper into the woods as the clouds grow thick and dark.  Soon it is snowing.
       The Indian is going as fast as he can and losing a lot of blood.  He suddenly comes out into an immense clear cut an area totally logged out; nothing but stumps as far as the eye can see.  No cover.  The Indian hears the Ranger approaching from behind, fires a shot and takes off running through the stumps.
       The Ranger has been hit in the thigh.  Nevertheless, he keeps coming into the clear cut.  More shots ring out.  The Indian has stationed himself behind a stump.  The Ranger quickly drops behind another stump.  It's now a stand off; nowhere to go.  The Ranger hollers out for the Indian to just give up, he'll do everything he can so that he'll be treated fairly.  The Indian says no, he'll never go back.  He's now a killer.  He tells the Ranger to just leave and he'll never see him again.  The Ranger says no, he can't do that.  It's his duty to bring him back.  So they keep each other pinned down as the snow floats from the sky and the evening nears.
       Finally, the Indian has a stick of dynamite out, has inserted a fuse, has a lighter ready, but doesn't light it.  He tries but can't.  He pulls out the fuse and fires another shot.
       The bullet hits the Ranger's stump blasting off wood chunks.  The Ranger pulls his .38 pistol from his belt.  He cocks it and sets it on the stump.  He then pops the clip from his rifle, quietly pulls the bolt and removes the bullets.  He considers what he's doing for a second, shrugs, then picks up the pistol and aims it, his hand resting on top of the stump.  He raises the rifle in the air with his other hand and dry fires. The click is loud in the still night.
       The Indian pops his head up over his stump to see what's happening.  The Ranger fires the pistol and plugs the Indian between the eyes.  The Ranger goes over to the dead Indian and sadly sits with him, his friend, as night comes and snow falls from the sky.
       The animals of the forest burrow into their holes, birds fly into hollow trees, beaver swim into their dams . . .
       . . . A beautiful dawn comes to the snowy forest.  The animals come out of their holes, the birds fly from their nests.
       A helicopter descends from the blue sky and lands in the clear cut.  Inside is the Developer and a few of his men.  They cautiously walk through the stumps and come upon the Indian's dead body, a bullet hole between his eyes, a stream of frozen blood running to the ground.
       They then find more blood behind another stump and a blood trail leading out of the clear cut, back into the forest.  They follow it to a lean to made of pine branches.  They can see the Ranger's boots protruding from the end of the lean to.  They pull back the branches revealing the Ranger frozen solid, dead, his skin bluish white.
       The Developer and his men get back into the helicopter and rise into the air.  Our view of the clear cut, endless rows of stumps, grows wider and wider until we see that it goes on for miles in every direction.
       We then see the trees of The Old Forest with their ancient markings.  One by one they crash to the ground as loggers cut them down.  Titles appear telling how much of America's old forests have been cut down 95% of them and they can't be replaced.  The time to stop cutting them down is now!


 

 

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