Twilight Zone Story Idea - "The Runner"


Soldier (protagonist): Corporal Matt Simmons
His mate: Sergeant Roger Barnes

Cold Open

Soldier abruptly comes to as bomb lands nearby. Sergeant Barnes tells him to get with the program, theyíre in the middle of a war zone (WW II setting). Soldier replies that he feels like he just woke up. The Sergeant tell him that they need to take the hill. That thereís some plans in there that will help win the war (battle plans, troop movements, key to the secret code theyíve been using, whatever). Soldier says that he feels a tremendous sense of deja vu; the hill in front of him looks so familiar... Instinctively, he knows where to start, and he begins running, with the Sergeant in tow. At the first crossroads, he goes straight. Barnes asks, "Why not turn right here?" In reply, Simmons picks up a rock, throws it at the suggested path, and a mine goes off. Barnes is thunderstruck. "Okay Simmons... Iím convinced. You lead the way."

[Opening Narrative]

Corporal Matthew Simmons has entered a race that could literally cost him his life. Lucky for him, heís got two big advantages: a strong pair of legs, and an almost supernatural sense of intuition. Itís good that heís got a leg up, because this race runs right through a very unfriendly plot of land held by the Axis powers, and the finish line lies somewhere inside... The Twilight Zone.

Act 1: The run up the hill

Theyíre dodging bombs and land mines. Most of the decisions Simmons makes he does without really thinking about them. Thereís a key moment where theyíre running down a path and Simmons leaps on pure instinct. Sergeant Barnes tells him, "Wow, Simmons, good call! How did you know." Simmons replies: "I donít know, it just... came to me." They catch a break and Simmons reminisces, explaining "Iíve always been pretty light on my feet. In high school I ran track. The coach thought I could really go places with my talent." But thereís no time to tell any more of the story, as they need to keep running up the hill. The run is brought short when they come to a fork in the road. Simmons pauses. Barnes says, "Come on, Simmons, youíre instincts havenít let us down yet!" Simmons protests, "Iím not feeling it this time, Sergeant. Itís like the deja vu has worn off or something." "Well pick!" yells The Sergeant, "Weíve got to move!". He goes right, steps on a mine, and all goes black.

Act 2: The second run up the hill

We see Simmons come to again, exactly as before. He explains that he feel like he just woke up. The conversation is eerily familiar, as are the decisions they make going up the trail. When they get to the break point they found before, Simmons talks about running track again and this time says, "If I ever get out of here, Iím gonna enter the Olympics. After this run, running around a track should feel like a cinch!" He smiles and the Sergeant says they have to leave. They come to the same fork in the road. The Sergeant asks, "Well, Simmons, what are your instincts telling you now?" Quickly, he replies, "Left, Sergeant! Left for sure!" They go left. No mines. They come to the last big stretch before the bunker at the top of the hill. Simmons is elated and decides to run for it. Halfway up, he steps on another mine and the world goes black again. After a pause, we see him wake up briefly. Itís nightfall and the guns and the bombs have quieted down. The Sergeant is putting him onto a gurney and dragging him back down the hill. Before they get to the bottom, Simmons blacks out again.

Act 3: After the run

Simmons wakes up again to the sound of explosions once again, but this time, heís in a medic tent lying in a bed. He looks around and sees a bunch of other soldiers in there, all in beds numbered 1-18, all cripples with their legs blown off. His bed (the last one in the room) is number 19. Dreadful, he peels back his bed covers to see that his legs are gone. He begins weeping. Suddenly, an orderly appears and says, "No time for that, soldier. Youíve got to tell your story to the next guy." Simmons looks bewildered. "I donít understand..." The orderly puts him into a wheelchair and rolls him past the other beds. They hear the other cripples saying snippets of the conversation he had earlier with Sergeant Barnes: "My instincts are pretty good..." "I used to run track in high school..." "Looks like we can pause for a break here..." The soldier in bed #1 says, "If I ever get out of here, Iím gonna run in the Olympics. It should be a cinch after this!" They get to the front of the tent and an officer explains: "Good work, Simmons. You got us one step closer. Itís an awful price you and all the rest of these men have had to pay, but if we can get to the top of the hill, if we can get those plans, we can save hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of lives." All right, get ready to tell your story. Be explicit about every detail: everything you saw, every word of conversation you exchanged, and especially every decision you made." They look to a hypnotist who is swaying a watch before the face of another, young, healthy soldier. The hypnotist says, "You are about to hear the story of the previous soldier who went up the hill. While you are in this state, the events he describes will feel as real as if you were there. When you come out of this hypnosis, youíll be ready to take the hill. As you make decisions, try not to overthink things, but act on instinct. This will be the best way to recall the events youíve heard while in hypnosis." The officer then turns to Simmons. "All right son. Tell this soldier your story." We see the aghast look on Simmon's face just as the camera pans up to the nighttime star field...

[Closing narrative]

Corporal Simmons was a man who had dreams once, dreams of becoming a runner. There were only two problems: The first was that the dreams werenít really his own, but someone who ran before him; The second was that instead of jumping hurdles, he ended up with a job sweeping mines. Unfortunately, at the end, he was left with nowhere else to run. And while the boundary between whatís real and whatís not still remains blurry for Corporal Simmons, his commanding officers have at least adjusted the lens for him by a quarter turn. The rest of the picture will have to stay out of focus for now, obscured in the shadows of the place we call... The Twilight Zone.