The Last Stand by Paul Rowe | Script Revolution

The Last Stand

A cold-hearted gunslinger on his escape from the law commits an accidental murder that threatens to fracture his glacial exterior and send him down the throat of madness.



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They say Wyatt Earp was a tall drink of water, our subject, we’ll call him Gunslinger, is the opposite: bitter and mean like a whiskey high ball.

Gunslinger walks away from a horse that lies dying in a field. He’s ridden it to death. And he would do it, again and again, to get away from the law and continue to do what he does best. The wind catches his hat, but he doesn’t go after it. No, it doesn’t mean anything, as it does to other men. His life has been a continuous bend, shift, or break of moral boundaries – makes you wonder if a boundary of any kind exists anymore. He is not a good man. He’s not looking for redemption from what he is either. He accepts who he is and he’s damn good at it.

Meanwhile, Shen, a Chinese railroad worker accused of theft, and his wife, Meili, hide out in a ramshackle camp by a creek where they hope to avoid capture by the railroad’s guards. A tarp with the railroad’s company logo is used as their makeshift tent… and there’s something in there, something they’re trying to hide.

Gunslinger approaches the camp. Meili, unseen, hides in the tent. We soon find out that not only does a language barrier exist between the two men but so does a volcano of tension. Shen doesn’t know if Gunslinger is from the railroad, and Gunslinger… well he knows anyone can be dangerous with the right motivation.

We then cut to Gunslinger leaving the camp and presumably the fugitives to their own fate.

We cut to Gunslinger’s dead horse and hat, where a Silhouette of a man picks up the hat and puts it on. He seems to be trailing Gunslinger.

Gunslinger walks on through a forest and takes a tumble, losing his knife. We find out he sprung a leak sometime before. He’s bleeding badly. He’ll press on like he always has. Nothing can stop him, he’s too goddamn stubborn to die.

He finds an abandoned saloon in a clearing and barricades himself in. It’s pitch black except for an oil lantern he sets on the bar.

This is where we begin flashbacks to Gunslinger and Shen at the camp and follow their interactions and the heightened tension between the two as the language barrier and their situations allow for gradual escalation.

Back at the bar, Gunslinger finds he is not alone and is being attacked seemingly at random by the Silhouette.

Flashback to the camp. The volcano of tension at the camp, Krakatoa, explodes when Gunslinger sees the railroad logo on the tent and Shen sees him see it. Shen has to act – and he does. Gunslinger fires his few remaining bullets. Some miss, but enough hit Shen.

Back at the saloon Gunslinger is attacked one last time. Silhouette has its hands around Gunslinger’s throat. This is it. Gunslinger is done.

Back at the camp – Gunslinger checks the tent and finds Meili, dead. No big deal. But he notices something. A child’s hand. It’s dead. There’s no doubt, and there he finds his moral boundary. It’s different for all of us. And it destroys him. He’s never been destroyed. He doesn’t know what to do with it. The Silhouette appears on the creek bank and Gunslinger has to run.

The saloon – Gunslinger sees apparitions of Meili, Shen, and their child. Maybe they’re just figments of his imagination. No! He will not kneel; he is not sorry for who he is or what he does- he knocks Silhouette’s hat off. It’s him. It’s a mirror of himself. He’s killing himself. He stops fighting the Silhouette from choking him. He accepts he will die. That it will be a slow death as all strangulation is – he should know. He’s done it millions of times to other people.

And then they’re gone. The Silhouette. Meili, Shen, their child. Gone. It was not a dream. What redemption is for a man such as him? What forgiveness can he or anyone give him? He’s a tough bastard. He wants to find out, but he can’t as the man he is. He opens the front door. Light floods the room. The lawmen outside see nothing but a silhouette, but they know that silhouette.

Gunslinger can’t see the lawmen but drops his gun belt. He doesn’t want it anymore.

A shot rings out. Always a masterful escape artist, Gunslinger has never been in a position where the law had a chance to take him. But they did today, almost coincidentally.

The Silhouette watches Gunslinger’s last breath.

Style: Unforgiven. A gritty, desperate tone.

Locations: Clearing, creek, campsite, and saloon (or other dark building one-room interior).

Roles: Gunslinger, Silhouette, Meili, Shen, and Child.

Pages: 15

Budget: <5k

Submitted: October 17, 2022
Last Updated: October 17, 2022

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The Writer: Paul Rowe

Paul is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and producer out of Columbus, GA with notables in Austin, Page, StoryPros, Save the Cat!, and more. He is a member of Columbus State University's Rankin Screenwriter's group which focuses on amplifying the local film community and immersing new writers into the craft of screenwriting. Go to bio

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