[There are ominous clouds of ominosity for about ten minutes.]
[Something... is ~HAPPENING~.]
THE FIRST STAGE
GIRL WITH BOOK: I feel... confused.
THE SECOND STAGE
GIRL WITH BOOK: I feel... like reading backwards.
THE THIRD STAGE
GIRL WITH BOOK: *HAIRPIN STABNATION*
GIRL'S FRIEND: I... don't really feel like killing myself in some creatively spur-of-the-moment way, can I just fall over dead?
[No, you can't. Because something has to be ~HAPPENING~.]
GIRL'S FRIEND: Aw, man.
Some Nearby Construction Site
[OH MY GOD PEOPLE ARE JUMPING OFF BUILDINGS LIKE 9/11 BUT NOTHING IS EVEN ON FIRE!]
CONSTRUCTION WORKER: I think... something TERRORIST is ~HAPPENING~!
Some High School
[Despite teaching high school, Elliot Moore talks to his students like they're five years old. Actually, he talks to everyone like they're five years old.]
ELLIOT: Hey kids! Have you heard about all the honeybees vanishing? It's crazy! Without a trace! And no one knows why! It's like a coordinated event! Scary, huh? Let's have some theories!
STUDENT #1: Disease?
STUDENT #2: Pollution?
STUDENT #3: Global warming?
[Then Elliot calls on a hot slice of jailbait named Jake.]
ELLIOT: What, no theories? You'd better take an interest in science, Jake, because you're a hot bitch now, but in five years, science will make you ugly.
JAKE: It was... an act of nature that we will never fully understand...?
ELLIOT: You are absolutely right.
BILLY: That's not a theory! That's just LAZY. Besides, if we'll "never fully understand it," NO ONE can ever be right about anything!
ELLIOT [looking deep into Billy's eyes]: Jesus doesn't like a doubter, Billy.
THE PRINCIPAL: Everyone stop teaching! There appears to be an event ~HAPPENING~, and it seems to be a terrorist ~HAPPENING~. The first stage is confusion of speech. The second stage is doing stuff backwards. The third stage... IS FATAL. So... send your kids home and God knows might happen to them on the way!
ELLIOT: Hey kids! You still gotta work on your science projects even though we're under terrorist attack! What are the rules of scientific investigation?
THE KIDS [in unison]: Observe phenomena, collect data, and then don't record it because we'll never understand it anyway.
ELLIOT: Class dismissed!
[Elliot's best friend is a math teacher named Julian, who says that his mother has offered to let Elliot and his wife Alma stay with them in Philadelphia, which is totally safe and would never be terrorized.]
ELLIOT: I don't know... Alma's been acting weird. You know... odd. Peculiar.
JULIAN: Omg! You think she's toxinated? Or a terrorist?
ELLIOT: No, I'm saying that we're partially estranged because she had dessert with another man.
JULIAN: THAT HOOR!
ELLIOT: I KNOW!
JULIAN: You know, she was crying on your wedding day.
ELLIOT: Thanks for telling me that years later when it's too late to do any good, man. You are a true friend.
NEWS ANCHOR: Normally we don't go around randomly killing ourselves, but this terrorist neurotoxin makes brain stuff go bad. As for why terrorists would release toxins that would make us kill ourselves rather than sarin gas that would just make us fall over dead, WE MAY NEVER FULLY UNDERSTAND.
[Meanwhile, Elliot goes to pack some clean socks and his mood ring. A nearby newspaper notes that PHILLY MURDER RATES are SOARING.]
ELLIOT: Well, as long as nobody's killing themselves, we'll be perfectly safe there!
The Train Station
[Julian and his young daughter Jess meet Elliot and Alma at the station, but Julian's wife is out of town and will have to take a later train.]
ALMA: Hi, Julian, how are you?
ALMA: Elliot, you told him!
ELLIOT: No I didn't!
Olympic Suicide Relay, Philadelphia
TREES: *rustle ominously*
[And with a starter shot to the forehead of the traffic cop theyyyyyy're off! The gun is passing down the line of stalled cars--nice hand-off from the guy in sandals to the businesswoman! Look at the speed on those suicide victims, this must be a new world record! They're going for the GOOOOOLD!]
Back on the Train
ALMA [whispering on phone]: Stop ruining my marriage, M. Night Shyamalan! It was just one torrid night of tiramisu, it didn't mean anything!
SOME RANDOM WOMAN WITH PHONE: OMG PHILADELPHIA WAS JUST ATTACKED!
The Tiny Town of Filbert, Pennsylvania
[So, clearly, let's just stop the train and kick everyone out.]
SOME TRAIN CONDUCTOR: We lost contact.
ELLIOT: What? With whom?
SOME TRAIN CONDUCTOR: Nice grammar there.
ELLIOT: Thanks, I'm a schoolteacher. WITH WHOM?
SOME TRAIN CONDUCTOR: ... Everyone.
ELLIOT: Everyone? Everyone-everyone? At every station? In the whole country? This is Amtrak, you can't lose touch with EVERYONE.
SOME TRAIN CONDUCTOR: Sir? Jesus doesn't like a doubter.
ELLIOT: *hangs head*
[Jess has temporarily gone semi-mute because that's what she does when she's upset, or something.]
ALMA: It's okay, Jess. I don't like to show my emotions either.
JULIAN: Unless there's DESSERT INVOLVED.
ELLIOT: Look, Jess, we're in a small town. Nothing's ~HAPPENING~ here.
SMALL-TOWN WAITRESS WITH DREAMS OF GETTING OUT: Honey, tell me about it.
ELLIOT: Here, Jess, wearing my mood ring will make you feel better. Look! On you, it's yellow, which means that you'll laugh soon!
JESS: You have a MOOD RING? AHAHAHAHAHAHA.
SOME RANDOM WOMAN: OH MY GOD MY SISTER JUST UPLOADED THIS TO YOUTUBE!
[The video is crystal-clear with the magic of Apple's iPhone™!]
SOME LION: OM NOM ASSISTED SUICIDE NOM.
ELLIOT: OH MY GOD! I'VE ALREADY SEEN THAT IN THE TRAILER!
SOME RANDOM GUY: Hey! Convenient News Network thinks it might not be terrorists now!
NEWS ANCHOR: Smaller and smaller towns are being attacked. But only on the Eastern seaboard. Too bad that's exactly where we are! [*hangs self with microphone cord *]
[Then the diner's electricity commits suicide.]
SOME PANICKED GUY: EVERYBODY RUN!
SOME RANDOM WOMAN: Where?
SOME PANICKED GUY: Somewhere not on that map in the news report! Let's say... ninety miles from here.
[Everyone flails out to the parking lot and burns rubber the hell outta Filbert. No one will give Our Heroes a ride.]
ALMA: Man, people are such assholes! It's almost like humanity deserves to kill itself or something.
SOME PLANT GUY: Hey, I run a plant nursery, which will be a totally safe place to stop and get hot dogs. Want a ride?
JULIAN: I GOTTA GO GET MY WIFE! SHE'S ALREADY PROBABLY DEAD, TAKE MY DAUGHTER!
JULIAN: Look, my wife was out looking for a dollhouse for our daughter, and I gotta go leave Jess and look for her with this other car full of people, and saying that in front of her won't fuck her up for life when neither of us comes back, I'm sure of it.
[Sad violins are sad.]
JULIAN: Hey, man [sniffle], it'll be okay. Let's pretend there's a really mathy probability that her town hasn't been hit.
ELLIOT: Even though it's also on the Eastern seaboard?
JULIAN: SHUT UP AND TAKE HER!
ALMA: Okay, we'll take care of her--
JULIAN: DON'T TOUCH MY DAUGHTER, HOOR.
Some Plant Guy's Plant Nursery
SOME PLANT GUY [packing cooler]: You know, hot dogs sure do get a bad rap. I mean, sure most of them are made out of rat intestines, but they're really delicious, you know?
ELLIOT: I... sure. Yeah.
SOME PLANT GUY: You know, I think I know what's causing this. It's the plants! They're releasing chemicals!
ELLIOT: THEN WHY THE HELL ARE WE IN A NURSERY?
Princeton, Where Julian's Wife Is Totally Already Dead
[Julian and his ride drive through a wooded avenue. Dozens of people have hanged themselves from the trees.]
JULIAN: Close the vents while I calm the passengers with math!
HYSTERICAL WOMAN: OH GOD MATH NOOOOOOO!
[A tiny tear in the roof of the Jeep has betrayed them omg. Sad violins are sad. The Jeep stops, accelerates, then crashes into a tree; Julian gets out and calmly slits his wrists with shards of glass. Exit the only actor in the movie who did not turn in a completely atrocious performance: John Leguizamo, you will be missed.]
Some Plant Guy's Plantmobile
PLANT GUY'S WIFE: Are those dead animals on the road?
ALMA: Of course not--animals don't deserve to die!
PLANT GUY'S WIFE: Hey, get out the binoculars you use to spy on our neighbors.
[I am not even making that last part up. Also, it's totally dead people in the road. No, I will not be making an "I see dead people" joke here, because you deserve better than that.]
ELLIOT: So... uh... Jess, let's play clappy games while the nice Plant Guy turns the car around!
Some Fork in the Road
PLANT GUY: Hey, it's the Army! We're saved!
PRIVATE AUSTER: Omg my base is ten miles up the road and everyone's dead! They done kilt themselves with barbed wire!
PLANT GUY: Ten miles behind us, everyone is also dead!
PRIVATE AUSTER: Cheese and crackers!
[I didn't make that part up, either.]
[There's a double fork in the road; various cars converge where Our Heroes are stopped. Each group of refugees has the same story: everyone behind them is dead.]
PRIVATE AUSTER: Good gravy Marie!
PLANT GUY: Hey, Teacher Dude, this lady says her daughter's on the phone in Princeton. Isn't that where your friend went?
DISTRAUGHT LADY: She says everyone's dead! Stacy! Stacy! You're confused and possibly doing things backwards! You're scaring me!
[Distraught Lady puts Stacy on speakerphone so that everyone can be traumatized when Stacy kills herself.]
THE TREES ON THE PHONE: *rustle*
JESS: Is my daddy dead?
PLANT GUY: You know what I think? I think it's hot dog time.
Some Fork in the Road, Hot Dog Time
PLANT GUY [chewing]: You know, plants totally have badass ninja targeting powers of evolution. They can take down whoever they want if they feel like it. Like these totally awesome tobacco plants that send out killer wasps when caterpillars get up in their shit.
ALMA: Do the wasps have frickin' lasers on their heads?
PLANT GUY: No caterpillar has ever lived to tell.
[Meanwhile, Elliot and Private Auster are having a powwow:]
PRIVATE AUSTER: So the ~HAPPENING~ started in the cities, then it moved to the small towns, and now it's moving out into... the countryside.
ELLIOT: Then why are we standing around out here?
PRIVATE AUSTER: SWEET FANCY MOSES!
Private Auster Addresses the Troops
PRIVATE AUSTER: Okay! We gotta find ourselves a safe zone! Because the toxins are attacking populations! So let's us all go en masse to someplace where no one lives! We'll go in two groups: people who can leave right now, and people who need to get their hot dogs from their cars! Remember: STAY IN EASILY-ATTACKED GROUPS!
The Group of People Who Did Not Need to Get Hot Dogs from Their Cars
ALMA: Elliot, in case we die, I want you to know that I'm really really sorry I had dessert with some guy.
[There is an awkward silence.]
JESS: Mr. Elliot, is that bad?
ELLIOT [glaring]: Only HOORS have dessert, Jess.
[Back in the other group, Private Auster goes crazycakes screaming about how his firearm is his friend and will never leave his side. Plant Guy takes his wife's hand, deeply regretting his attachment to meat-like products. In Our Heroes' group, everyone whimpers at Elliot to think of something while the Hot Dog Group starts shooting themselves, but all he can say is "Oh no" and "I can't think," because when you want someone who can wibble, you hire Mark Wahlberg. Then Elliot starts trying to figure out what to do using the scientific method:]
ELLIOT: OMG THE GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO HAD HOT DOGS IS BIGGER THAN US! The plants went for them first because they react to human stimulus with badass ninja toxin powers!
ALMA: What? WHY?
ELLIOT: WE MAY NEVER FULLY UNDERSTAND!
SOME REALTOR: So what should we do?
ELLIOT: Well, they target groups, like that group over there, and we're in a group over here, much like the kind of groups they like to target. So...
ELLIOT: EVERYBODY OUTRUN THE WIND!
[Our Heroes finally get a clue and split off with two teenagers from the group and don't die, although when Elliot asks if "this could really be ~HAPPENING~" I kind of want to kill him myself. And then, when Elliot goes to investigate an abandoned van, he turns on the car radio and hears someone on talk radio freaking out about how there are more nuclear power plants in the Northeast than anywhere else in the country, and angry trees lob an anvil towards the audience.]
Some House Over There
ALMA: So... you think it's plants?
ELLIOT: HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING AT ALL?
The Scene That No One Will Ever, Ever Let Mark Wahlberg Forget
[While Alma takes Jess to the bathroom in Some House, Elliot realizes that he's alone in a room with a potted tree.]
ELLIOT [whispering]: Hey there... tree. I just... I just want to say... you know... it's cool... we're not going to be here very long, we just have a little girl who needs to go to the bathroom, so, you know... good times. It's all you. I'm sure... I'm sure you're a very nice tree... very pretty tree... have you been working out?
ALMA: IT'S PLASTIC, YOU DOUCHE.
Still in Some House
TEENAGE BOY #1: Hey, look, everything's plastic! Even the food! It's a model house!
ELLIOT: Huh. What a totally random thing to have in the middle of a movie.
TEENAGE BOY #2: Why is this ~HAPPENING~?
ELLIOT: I don't know. It reminds me of something that happened in Australia with bacteria, but this kind of event usually crests and then stops suddenly for no reason, so maybe--
TEENAGE BOY #1: Oh God, is he talking science again?
Outside Some Model House
ELLIOT: RUN! GROUPS OF PEOPLE ARE COMING!
[Two groups converge on the Model House while Elliot watches from a hillside, and Some Guy fires up an industrial riding lawnmower and lets it mow him to death. Then Our Heroes run past a billboard advertising McMansions with the slogan YOU DESERVE THIS! DUCK, IT'S AN INCOMING ANVIL!]
Somewhere Else, In the Countryside, Not Away from Plants
[The two boys try to tell Elliot how to smoove up Alma, and he tells them to get their dirty paws off his mood ring. And then Elliot tries to make Alma jealous by babbling about a pharmacist he saw this one time who was so hot that he almost bought cough syrup and he didn't even need it. And then Alma thanks him for being a dweeb. I kind of want to kill myself.]
ELLIOT: Please can we have some food for the little girl?
CANTANKEROUS OLD MAN: NO!
CANTANKEROUS OLD MAN: NO!
ELLIOT: Please? I'll sing for you!
CANTANKEROUS OLD MAN: OH GOD NO!
ELLIOT: Well, he said no, so we'd better go--
[IMPOLITE TEENAGE DOOR SMASH! CANTANKEROUS UNEXPECTED SHOTGUN BLAST! SLO-MO SCHOOLTEACHER OH NOES! SAD VIOLIN SADNESS! INAPPROPRIATE RECAPPER LAUGHING!]
FARMHOUSE OF CRAZY
[And then the movie gets awesome, because Crazy Southern Gothic Betty Buckley shows up. Also, none of Our Heroes seem to know that the proper response to "I hope the meal was sufficient" is "Thank you, it was very good" rather than awkward silence.]
CRAZY MRS. JONES [no relation]: I should probably mention here that there's a secret "speaking tube" passageway between here and the springhouse that the slaves used during the War of Northern Aggression. You know, in case you need it for the plot later. So, who's chasing who?
ALMA: Uh... the trees are chasing us?
CRAZY MRS. JONES: No, I meant which of you two is chasing the other, because the movie hasn't beached itself on the rocks of your relationship in a while.
ELLIOT: *raises hand*
[And then Crazy Betty Buckley slaps Jess's hand away from the cookie plate.]
ELLIOT: So... uh... do you have a radio, Mrs. Jones? Because's something's... ~HAPPENING~.
CRAZY MRS. JONES: Nope. Mend my own clothes, grow my own food, churn my own crazy 'round here. So whatever's going on, don't you tell me about it, because the world don't care about me and I DON'T CARE ABOUT IT. COOKIE?
GUEST ROOM OF CRAZY
ALMA: Hey, you know that part in War of the Worlds, you know, the new one, where Tom Cruise and his daughter end up holing up in a farmhouse with Crazy Tim Robbins and it turns out to be a really, really bad idea and goes on for way too long?
ELLIOT: No, I don't. Is that a movie you watched after you had dessert?
CRAZY MRS. JONES [in the hallway]: I CAN HEAR YOU PLOTTING TO KILL ME! I CAN HEAR YOUUUUUU!
BEDROOM OF CRAZY
[The next morning, Elliot goes looking for Alma and Jess, who are playing outside, and then, because he's an idiot, he decides to go poking around Mrs. Jones' bedroom. Instead of Mrs. Jones herself, there's a lifesize doll in her bed, and for a moment I thought there was some kind of "A Rose for Emily" freakishness going on, but thankfully, it's just garden-variety old-lady crazy. Remember way back when this movie was about running from trees? Those were the days.]
CRAZY MRS. JONES: I KNEW YOU WERE TRYING TO KILL ME! LEEEEEEAVE NOWWWWW!
[Crazy Mrs. Jones is so crazy that she leaves the house. And then Elliot sees her wandering backwards in the garden.]
ELLIOT: JESS! ALMA! GRIZABELLA'S GONE TOXIC, GET IN THE HOUSE!
[And then Crazy Mrs. Jones starts smashing her head into the windows and Elliot must OUTRUN THE WIND, OH MY GOD THE WIND IS IN THE HOUSE!, and he hides in the room with the speaking tube to the springhouse and he tells Alma to close the doors and the windows and she asks him WHY BECAUSE APPARENTLY SHE HASN'T BEEN WATCHING THE MOVIE AT ALL and then Elliot and Alma talk about their first date and his mood ring and how purple doesn't mean "love" it means "horny" and Jess is right there and Elliot walks across the yard DRAMATICALLY to BE WITH ALMA and ALMA BRINGS JESS OUT TO DIE WITH HIM, like, MAN DO YOU SUCK AT THIS PARENTING THING and THE TREES ARE RUSTLING and oh my God just DIE, JUST DIE ALREADY, I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE.]
Three Months Later
[They totally didn't die. The ~HAPPENING~ just... stopped ~happening~. Possibly because of the Power of Their Love Omg, but we may never fully understand.]
ELLIOT: I'm so glad we're a family now!
ALMA: I'll never eat tiramisu again!
JESS: I didn't like my other daddy anyway!
ALMA: Elliot! Guess what! Now that I've learned my place, I'm going to have your baby!
JESS: Gee, Aunt Alma, I'm so glad you're not a hoor anymore!
ELLIOT: Maybe thousands of people killing themselves was worth it after all.
The Convenient News Network
SOME INTERVIEWER: So why did the ~HAPPENING~ start one Tuesday morning and then just end on Wednesday morning?
SOME SCIENCE GUY: Well, it was an act of nature, and we may never fully understand it.
[No, he actually says that.]
SOME SCIENCE GUY: AND I BELIEVE IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.
LES ARBRES: *bruissent*
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