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Working Title of Movie Based on Lake Highlands Coyote Attack: Maul

Anyone have Tim Headington's number?
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The toddler who was attacked is in stable condition, and authorities have killed three coyotes (meaning at least two innocent coyotes have lost their lives). It’s time for the Netflix original. We have to move quickly. Given our success with our television series Rica Y Chato, Zac and I could probably knock out a first draft of the coyote screenplay this weekend. I say this without first consulting with him. I don’t know what Zac’s got going this weekend. He might have a trip planned to Bed Bath & Beyond. But here’s my thinking on the plot for the movie I’ve tentatively titled Maul:

At an East Dallas wet market, a bee virus makes the jump from animal to human in a jar of raw honey. I’m not sure how that virus then makes its way into the Lake Highlands coyote population, but it does. So then we’ve got sort of a Jaws meets I Am Legend deal, with super smart, hyper-aggressive coyotes preying on unsuspecting residents. Are you with me?

At first it’s just one attack on a toddler that survives. It’s shocking. But authorities dismiss it as the work of a rogue animal. They bring out their infrared coyote-hunting drone, and they kill an animal. Mayor Eric Johnson displays its carcass at a town hall meeting held at Vector Brewing. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

Then the real carnage begins. At a soccer game at Moss Park, an entire pack of coyotes prowling the creek bed uses sophisticated hunting techniques to systematically devour children. A boy runs after a ball that has rolled into the woods—but he never returns. His mom goes looking for him. She screams just as the coyotes attack multiple children on the fields, and total pandemonium breaks out.

Zac, I’ve got to make some edits right now on a story that’s running in our June issue. Where does Maul go from here?

UPDATE FROM ZAC:

First, I think we are going a little fast here. Mimic the Jaws setup: hint but don’t show. The jar of honey gets mistakenly tossed out, doesn’t quite make it into receptacle, breaks on the ground. You see a tongue lap it up, maybe a dog, maybe something else. We see a lot of the attack action from the coyote’s point of view. Perhaps a neighbor spots a tail slipping into the woods post attack.

Then OK, we call in a pro to take down the coyote. You can tell this guy is a jerk. Don’t worry: he’s getting his. So, yes, he kills a coyote but maybe not the coyote, or certainly not all of them. Mayor makes his big “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” speech. Then soccer game. Kid goes missing. Mom goes in, she screams. Dad rushes in. A beat. It’s quiet. Then he comes sprinting out, chased by a coyote. He makes it to the woods on the other side. Coyote goes in. He screams. We see him stagger out and realize he’s missing his arm from the elbow down as he falls face down. The crazy coyote comes out with the arm—and then five more coyotes emerge from the woods behind him. NOW it’s pandemonium. People are running everywhere. A few get taken down.

We cut to a news broadcast for exposition. Attacks up and down the White Rock Trail. People are worried about the area around the lake—the land around there, sure, but the neighborhoods, too. No one will venture outside. Pets have gone missing. A couple more kids. We see a guy watching the broadcast. He’s a former sniper for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (don’t think too hard about it), trained for this exact operation. But he was publicly embarrassed after he killed a family’s dog on an earlier operation. (We get through this with a quick convo between him and his wife.)

Anyway, he shows up and offers his services to the mayor, who remembers him as a the dog killer and sends him on his way.

Tim, I’ve got to read those edits you just made to that June feature. Your turn.

UPDATE FROM TIM:

I like where your head is at. OK, from here we need to take care of the jerky pro. Oh, also it feels like we’ve got a problem with the love interest. I’ll suggest that our sniper (John Hollister?) doesn’t have a wife; he has an EX-wife. The only reason she left him was because of the earlier dog killing, because the dog belonged to her boss, the governor of the state of Texas. She didn’t want to leave Hollister. It’s just that as a PR person for the governor, she had to after the shooting. Hollister understood. He was hurt. But he understood. It was the best outcome for their daughter.

We’re back to the action. The jerky pro coyote killer brings in several llamas, which are known to deter coyotes. He’s super cocky about this move, even as Hollister says it won’t work because this virus has changed how the coyotes behave and traditional llamas won’t suffice; no one listens. Jerk Face winds up in a scene where the alpha coyote tricks him at Flag Pole Hill.

Jerk Face is outflanked by the genius coyote. Right before he is consumed, Jerk Face says, “Clever girl.” Then his blood splatters across the side of a Subaru with a canoe rack on top.

Zac, I have to approve some page proofs for the June issue. I feel like we are making good progress.

UPDATE FROM ZAC:

John Hollister? Was John Abercrombie&Fitch too cumbersome? I assume someone is going to call this guy by his last name at some point—”You better be right about this, Hollister!”—so that’s not going to work for me. You need something generic but manly with parts you can yell, so this guy’s name is, I don’t know, Jake Coleman.

Anyway. This was Jake’s job, but he still needs more of a reason to get back in the game, especially after being turned down flat by the mayor. So guess what? His estranged wife (I prefer that to ex, a little too final if they’re getting back together [wink]) works for the mayor. Comms or something where she is wearing a pants suit on the reg. The mayor has a campaign stop out by the Flagpole Hill—which she tried to warn him against!—and now that the genius coyote is on the loose, that has been broken up. More chaos, everyone running, some not fast enough, and now the mayor and some of his staff, including Jake’s estranged wife, have been trapped by the coyote. He’s rounded up his posse to help him protect his new turf.

So now Jake is really back in the game. He has to work his way around and up the hill, taking out some of these super coyotes on the way. Meanwhile, a member of the mayor’s staff (Christian Ballman) has flipped out and tries to make a run for it—which does not go well for him. Getting tense. The super coyote is about to get to the mayor and Jake’s wife.

It all is coming down to a final showdown between the super coyote and Jake.

That’s essentially it, I think. But feel free to storyboard this final showdown.

UPDATE FROM TIM:

No, no. Tim Headington will have ideas about how this plays out and his financing commitment will be predicated on adjustments to the plot. No need to get too detailed. This is good work. I see potential for a franchise. The second installment: Scenes From a Maul.

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Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…

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