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The Cow Says: 'Moo' (Short Film)
by Brian Bara (Prospero761@gmail.com)

Rated: PG   Genre: Horror   User Review: ****
Somewhere south of the Arctic tundra, three starving men find themselves in a long-abondoned sportsman's cabin, struggling for both their survival and their sanity.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


An abandoned cabin. Cobwebs fill the room. Furniture is
covered by dusty drop-cloths. Tattered curtains hang on a
filthy window. A cast iron stove sits in one corner;
firewood stacked beside it. A ratty throw rug lies on the
floor. There is a single door. Next to the stove are shelves
stocked with un-labled cans; an oil lamp; fishing gear and
stacks of yellowed newspapers and magazines. A few mounted
fish and stag horns hang on the walls, along with a painting
of a hunting scene. A bow and a quiver of arrows hang from a
rack. All are covered in dust and cobwebs. Outside, the WIND
HOWLS constantly, throughout.

There are several loud BANGS from outside and the door flies
open violently.

MACK steps in. He is a middle-aged man wearing several
layers of dirty, ragged clothing. His battered boots are
held to his feet with rope, duct tape and rubber bands. Snow
blows in behind him. He is quickly followed by PAUL,
late-20's and RICO, 17. They are similarly attired. They all
have beards, though Rico's is a scraggly, teenager's beard.
Their faces are dirty, but very pale beneath the dirt. They
each have large backpacks, which they unshoulder as they
look about; Paul going to investigate the stove.

Wind blows in more snow, banging the door against the wall.
Close the damned door!
Rico turns and closes the door. The wind blows it open
I think we broke the latch.
Then wedge something against it,
dumb ass!
Paul, who has been crouching by the stove, stands and hands
Rico a log.
      (To Rico, kindly)
Here, try this.


Rico takes the log and uses it to prop the door closed.

Mack removes his hat and gloves. His hair is long and dirty.
He uncovers the sofa, balling up the drop cloth and dropping
it to the floor. Paul goes the shelves and begins to examine
the cans.
      (To Paul)
Whadda ya think's in 'em?
Won't know 'till we get 'em open-
ed. They look okay, though. No
dents or bulges; no rust. What-
ever's in these should be fine
to eat.
I'm starving.
Yeah, yeah. Pipe down, Kid. We all
I don't see a can opener here.
I have one in my pack.
Rico starts to dig through his bag.
      (To Paul)
That stove work?
      (Examining stove)
It's full of old ashes, and the
pipe joints look sturdy. There's
wood and newspaper, so I'm guess-
ing we can get a fire started. We
just need some kindling. I've got
Is there an axe?


Maybe outside, somewhere.
Rico finally pulls a can opener from his pack.
Got it!
I'll go out and look for an axe.
Mack pulls his hat back on, removes the log from the door
and heads back outside. Rico hands the can opener off to
Paul, who starts working on the largest can. Rico then
replaces the log at the door.
Paul, can I ask you a question?
Sure, Kid. Anything.
Did I do something wrong?
      (Opening a can)
What do you mean?
Ever since we left Whitehorse --
I don't want to talk about White-
horse, Rico.
But ever since we left there,
Mack's been -- well, I don't want
to sound like a baby or nothin'
but he's been awful mean to me.
Whitehorse was a bad place, Rico.
Bad things happened there. You of
all people should know that.
Yeah, but it's like he's been
takin' it out on me. It wasn't my
fault, what happened.


No one's sayin' it is.
Then why's Mack treaten' me like
it is?
Paul stops working on the can and looks up at Rico.
We picked Lisa up in Philadelphia,
long before we met up with you.
Mack had come to think of her
as -- well, I guess he was think-
ing of her as his own. He had lost
his entire family. When Lisa --
When Lisa died, it took him back.
He knows the rest of what happened
wasn't your fault. Wasn't any of
our faults.
But he acts like it is.
He's angry, Rico. Angry at the
people in Whitehorse; angry at the
people who dropped the bombs --
He's just -- angry. He may seem
like he's taking it out on you,
but that's just because -- Well, I
think it's just because you joined
us last, and it's easier for him
to --
He is interrupted by a heavy KNOCKING at the door.
                       PAUL (cont'd)
Let him in. We can talk about this
Rico goes to the door and removes the log, letting Mack back
in. Mack carries an axe and a bundled cord of fire wood.
Rico closes the door and replaces the log. Paul goes back to
opening the can.
Damn! It is COLD out there!
      (To Mack)
I see you found an axe. Good.


Yeah. And an outhouse. With REAL
toilet paper. And I saw a well
pump 'round the other side. It
looked frozen.
The snow should still be pretty
safe to melt and dri --
      (The can is open)
Ah! Got it. Gentlemen, we have
peaches for our supper tonight.
Paul carries the can around to the sofa as Mack and Rico
gather around him, salivating. Paul lifts the open can to
his nose and sniffs, then immediately gags.
Oh -- Oh, God -- no! These are
bad. REAL bad.
      (Grabbing the can)
Are you sure?
Mack sniffs the can and pulls away, grimacing. He stands,
kicks away the log and throws the can out the door.
Now what?
We check the rest of the cans.
He stands and crosses to the shelves to examine the other
At least we can get a fire going.
Mack closes the door, replaces the log and taking the axe,
begins to chop kindling.

Rico morosely begins to uncover the rest of the furniture:
an armchair; a side table; an ottoman. Finally, he uncovers
a small bookcase filled with toys and board games. Setting
down the covers bundled in his arms, Rico pulls out an old
SEE 'N' SAY. He pulls the string and the toy speaks.
                       SEE 'N' SAY
The cat says: 'Meow!'


Mack stops chopping and looks at Rico.
What the hell are you, two years
old? Put that stupid thing away,
fer God's sake!
Paul has gotten another can open.
      (Looking into can)
These pears are bad, too!
What? I thought -- I thought that
canned food lasted forever.
Nothin' lasts forever, Kid. The
seals must've gone on these.
They're probably thirty years old.
I mean, look at this place. No
one's been here in at least twenty
years. Maybe more.
Rico, clutching the SEE 'N' SAY to his chest, slumps down
along the wall. He absently pulls the toy's string.
                       SEE 'N' SAY
The sheep says: 'Baa!'
Mack glares at Rico for a moment, then goes back to chopping
kindling as Paul continues to go through the cans and Rico
stares absently into space, clutching the toy.
                                         FADE TO BLACK.
Paul is seated in the armchair and Mack on the sofa. They
have removed their outerwear and now wear ragged flannels
and thermals. Paul's and Rico's hair is also long and dirty.
Paul and Mack are playing gin rummy, using the rickety side
table. The oil lamp is lit in the center of the table. Rico,
still wearing his coat and clutching the toy, sits on the
floor near the door. A warm orange glow emanates from the
grates in the stove. Several empty cans sit atop the stove.

Mack discards and BELCHES loudly.


      (Fist to chest)
Excuse me!
As long as it wasn't from the
other end!
Those were some mighty fine beans,
I'm guessing they only tasted so
good because we were so hungry.
      (To Rico)
Whadda ya say, Kid?
They were okay.
I'm just glad we found something
that wasn't spoiled.
Paul takes a card, discards and smiles broadly, laying his
hand on the table.
      (Not serious)
Hey, you dealt the hand, my
friend. You got no one to blame
but yerself!
Mack laughs, gathering the cards up and shuffling.
      (To Rico)
You wanna play, Kid?


      (Not looking up)
Dunno how.
We'll teach you.
No, thanks.
He pulls the string on the SEE 'N' SAY.
                       SEE 'N' SAY
The duck says: 'Quack!'
      (To Rico)
So, what? Yer just gonna sit
there, playin' with that toy like
a baby?
This toy BELONGED to someone. Some
child played with this toy. Owned
it. LOVED it.
And whoever it was is dead now,
just like almost everyone else!
Get over it, already, fer Christ's
Paul holds his hand out to Mack, silently admonishing him.
Rico? Look at me.
Rico slowly lifts his vacant eyes and loosk at Paul.
                       PAUL (cont'd)
It's okay to mourn, Rico. It's
okay to be sad. But you can't
dwell on the past. You will make
yourself crazy if you do that.
And none of us can really afford
to be crazy these days.
      (Rolling his eyes)
Oh, mother! What the hell kind of
Doctor Phil B.S. is that?


Shut up, Mack!
Mack looks at Paul, surprised, but does as he is told.

Paul goes to Rico.
                       PAUL (cont'd)
Rico, do you want to keep the toy
for a while?
Rico looks at the SEE 'N' SAY and nods, silently.
                       PAUL (cont'd)
Okay, then. But you have to pro-
mise to not pull the string. Can
you do that for me?
Rico looks at Paul; the SEE 'N' SAY; Mack and then Paul
again, before nodding his assent.
                       PAUL (cont'd)
Good. Thank you, Rico.
Paul goes back to his seat as Rico pulls his knees up his
chest, holding the toy even tighter.
      (To Paul, sotto
What the hell was that?
I guess I never told you that I
was a psychologist, before --
well, before.
Nope. But then I never told you I
was a butcher, neither.
A butcher? Really?
Yup. A butcher. A damned fine one,
See, that's the thing, Mack. We
both were SOMETHING. Rico was just
a kid when the -- when it happen-
ed. He never really got to be any-


                       PAUL (cont'd)
Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Your deal.
Paul picks up the cards, shuffles neatly and deals.
A psychologist? Hell. You analyze
I try not to analyze much of
anything, any more.
Sure, sure. But whadda ya think?
I think we need to be quiet and
just play the hands we've been
Mack stares at Paul, suspicious, before starting to play.
They play silently for a moment, before Mack speaks.
Good money in psychology?
I made a living. Good money in
I paid the bills.
I bet he 'brought home the bacon.'
The two of them look at him for a moment before bursting out
in laughter.
Oh, that was BAD, Kid. REAL bad.
I bet he was 'a cut above the
All three are laughing now.


Yeah, but sometimes, the work was
a real 'grind.'
Hysterical shrieks from all three of them.
He worked in a real 'chop shop.'
      (Nearly crying)
But then he backed into the grind-
er and got 'a little behind in his
All three are now rolling about, clutching their stomachs
and crying with laughter. After several beats, they try and
gain control, gasping for air.
      (Between gasps)
Oh -- Oh, God that was -- that was
good. I haven't -- I haven't
laughed like that since -- well,
since I don't know when.
      (Between gasping)
Me -- me neither. Oh man, that
felt great. Thanks, Rico.
      (Wiping his eyes)
De nada.
      (To Rico)
You know, Kid, we don't have to
play gin.
I don't know any card games.
So what do you want to play?
Rico stands and crosses to the bookcase, pulling out a
Scrabble box.


      (Holding up box)
In school, I won the regional
spelling bee six years in a row.
Went to state finals twice. So you
see, Paul, I WAS something, after
I guess you were. Kid, yer on.
Aw hell! You two are gonna kick my
Rico, grinning, carries the box to the table.
                                         FADE TO BLACK.

The bow and arrows have been removed from their rack. Rico
stands at the stove, feeding it a log. He carefully adds the
log through the door, then closes it, jumping about as the
hot iron burns his fingers. He jams his burnt fingers into
his mouth, sucking on them to relieve the pain.

Paul enters, bundled up and carrying more wood. He notices
Rico jumping about in pain.
      (Going to Rico)
What happened?
Nothing. I -- I burned my fingers.
What? How?
Closing the stove grate. I knew it
was hot. I guess I just wasn't


Let me see.
He takes Rico's hand gently and examines Rico's fingers.
Rico looks at Paul, lovingly, like a son to his father.
                       PAUL (cont'd)
You'll be okay, but you might want
to go stick those fingers in the
Rico crosses to the door, opens it and grabs a handful of
Where's Mack?
      (Unbundling the
Hunting. He thought he saw a deer.
He took the bow and arrows.
Paul points to the rack.
A deer? Really? We could add some
meat to the beans and make some
real chili con carne!
Yeah, that would be good. But I
wouldn't count on it. I haven't
seen a deer in almost three years,
But if Mack really saw one --
      (Removing his coat)
That's a mighty big 'if,' Kid.
Still --
Paul adds another log to the stove.

Rico shakes the snow back outside, closes the door and sits
on the sofa. He takes up the SEE 'N' SAY and pulls the


                       SEE 'N' SAY
The frog says: 'Ribbit!'
You better not let Mack catch you
doing that. He's ready to smash
that thing into pieces as it is.
I don't care what Mack thinks. I
like it. It reminds me of -- of
Rico pulls the string again.
                       SEE 'N' SAY
The coyote says 'Howl!'
Coyote? What the hell is a coyote
doing on there? I thought it was
supposed to be all about farm
Dunno. Eating the rooster?
Paul closes the stove, picks up his coat and sits in the
armchair, sighing heavily and massaging the bridge of his
nose between his fingers.
What, Rico?
Mack's not a bad man, is he?
No, Mack's not a bad man at all.
An angry man, maybe. And a little
sad. But he's not a bad man.
Sometimes he looks at me and I
think he wants to --


Wants to what?
      (After a beat)
I know he thinks Whitehorse was my
fault. He practically told me it
And I'VE told you, it was no one's
fault. Those people were just --
desperate. Like everyone else.
Lisa just happened to be in the
wrong place at the wrong time.
The door bangs open and Mack enters, carrying the bow and
the now empty quiver.

Rico curls up into a corner of the sofa, clutching the toy
close to his chest.
      (To Mack)
I lost every arrow! Every damned
Was it a deer?
I don't know what the hell it was.
It was fast and smart, though.
Mack throws the bow towards the rack and drops his coat. He
is angry and frustrated.
Sorry you didn't catch the deer.
Yeah, I'll bet you are!
Let him alone, Mack.


      (Snapping at Paul)
Who the hell are you, his damned
He's just a kid, Mack.
Yeah, well so was Lisa.
This has nothing to with Lisa, and
you know it.
If he hadn't led them right to us,
they never would have --
He didn't lead them to us, Mack.
They found us, that's all. They
found us and they -- they did what
they did. End of story.
They followed his tracks in the
friggin' snow, fer Christ's sake!
They got in the house and they
took her. They took her and then
they -- they --
He is unable to finish.
Listen to me. It was NO ONE'S
fault. It happened, that's all. A
lot of bad things have happened,
Mack. To all of us. It was just
another bad thing that happened.
Rico isn't to blame.
Mack glares at Paul and then at Rico, who tries to retreat
further into the sofa's corner, his eyes wide with fear.
                       PAUL (cont'd)
We need each other, Mack. To
survive. Don't lose it on me, now.
Not after all we've been through;
not after all this time.


Mack starts to advance on Rico, who buries his head in his

Paul steps between them.

Paul and Mack stare each other down for a moment. Finally,
Mack turns away.
Ah, screw it! I'm going out to lay
some traps. At least one of us is
doing something to try and keep us
alive, instead of just spouting
psycho-babble B.S. platitudes.
He picks up his coat and storms out, leaving Paul and Rico
to stare after him.
                                         FADE TO BLACK.

The cans are all gone and the wood has dwindled to a few
scrawny twigs beside the stove. It seems as though no one is
in the cabin, though what appears to be a pile of clothes
and blankets fills the sofa.

Paul enters, covered in snow. He carefully closes the door
and crosses to the stove, removing his hat and gloves and
warming his hands. After a moment, the last of the embers in
the stove dies. Sighing, Paul goes to the shelves and begins
to rummage among whatever is there, looking for more cans.
Finally, enraged, he shoves everything off onto the floor,
making a racket. He begins to cry, softly.

The pile on the sofa stirs, revealing Rico, just waking up.
No, Rico. It's just me. Go back to
I dreamt I was home and my mother
had made a big pot of chili con
carne. My sisters and father were
all at the table, waiting for me.


                       RICO (cont'd)
When I sat down, Mama put the pot
in the center of the table and
opened the lid. But instead of
chili, the pot was full of snakes.
The snakes jumped out and bit
everyone but me, and my family all
died, screaming in pain. Then the
snakes all turned to look at me
and laughed.
      (Wiping his eyes)
Go back to sleep.
I don't want to. I'm hungry.
I SAID go back to sleep!
      (Suddenly angry)
You SAID we were going to Anchor-
age! You said there would be
people there; food there! You said
we would be safe there.
I said a lot of things, Kid.
      (Crying, now)
You promised, Paul. You promised!
      (Moving toward
Rico, I --
Rico stands, backing away from Paul. As the blankets fall
away, we see that he is still clutching the SEE 'N' SAY.
      (Near hysterical)
Liar! I hate you! You lied to me
and I hate you! I HATE YOU!
The door opens and Mack enters, carrying the axe. He looks
at the two of them.
Well, well. What's going on here?


Nothing's going on. Rico's just a
little upset. He's hungry and
tired. That's all.
Hell, Paul, I'm hungry and tired,
too. You You don't see me cryin'
about it, do you?.
      (Suddenly bold)
You shut up, Mack! Just shut up,
What's this? Did the baby grow
some balls? It's about damned
I said 'shut up!'
Why don't we all just calm down,
Oh, here we go. Mr. Psychology
says we should all just calm down.
Whadda you think, Rico? Should we
all just calm down?
Let him alone, Mack!
Why, Paul? Why should I let him
alone? You just want him for your-
self, don't you? You just want it
to be him and you so you can scr--
Shut up, Mack!
      (To Rico)
He wants me to shut up, too, Kid.
How 'bout that? Seems the two of
you have lots in common, these


Rico, confused and upset, backs into the DR corner and pulls
the string on the SEE 'N' SAY.
                       SEE 'N' SAY
The cow says: --
The toy is stuck and doesn't finish the line.
The cow says what? What does the
cow say Kid, huh? What does it
Mack, I'm warning you --
      (Turning to Paul)
YOU are warning ME?
Rico is backed up against the wall, frantically trying to
get the toy to speak again.
      (To Rico)
Come on, Kid. What does the cow
Mack --
Mack advances on Rico, raising the axe.

Paul scrambles to his pack, frantically digging through it.
If I remember, the cow always
said --
-- 'Moo.'
Mack continues toward the now terrified Rico, brandishing
the axe menacingly.
Mack, stop it!


The cow says: 'Moo!'
Moo, cow! Moo!
Mack, please don't.
      (Staring at Rico)
I'm hungry, Paul.
      (Holding the toy
       as a shield)
Please --
Moo! Moo! Moo-ooo!
Paul removes a gun from his backpack.
I said, 'don't!'
He pulls back on the gun's hammer. Mack turns to him.
What, are you gonna shoot me,
Paul? I don't think so. You don't
have the guts. You didn't have the
guts back in Whitehorse and you
don't have the guts now!
Paul hesitates as Mack, laughing, raises the axe and steps
toward a now blubbering Rico.
In Whitehorse, there were seven-
teen men and only six bullets.
Here, there are six bullets and
only one man.
Mack continues to advance upon Rico, licking his chops and
grinning madly.


Mack, I'm not going to warn you
Suddenly, Mack drops the axe, turns and rushes at a very
surprised Paul. They struggle for the gun, knocking over the

The screen goes black.

A single GUNSHOT ring out.

Rico screams.
Oh my God!

Rico is busily putting the dust cloths back on the
furniture. He still carries the SEE 'N' SAY, setting it down
carefully and picking it up again as he moves about the
cabin, replacing the cloths. Just as he is covering the
sofa, there is a knock at the door.
He sets the toy down on the sofa and goes to the door,
removing the log and opening it for the bundled figure that
enters, carrying a shovel.
That was fast. I thought it would
take a lot longer to bury him than
The figure removes his hood and scarf to reveal Mack. He
wears a bloody bandage on his forehead.
The ground was too hard. I dropped
him in the well. Well, what was
left of him, anyway.
Do you think -- he would have


No. I think he would've wanted us
Mack moves toward him, but Rico flinches.
                       MACK (cont'd)
Listen, Kid. I'm -- I'm sorry. I
don't want you to be afraid of me.
I was -- well, I was hungry. And
angry. That's a combination can
make a man do and say things he
doesn't mean.
It wasn't my fault, Mack. Honest.
Those people in Whitehorse, they
were --
I know, Kid. I know. You ready to
Rico takes up his pack and shoulders it.
I guess. How long do you think
it's gonna take to get to get to
Mack shoulders his own pack.
Dunno. A week, maybe more. We
should get going, though. Nights
can be long up here, this time of
Rico goes to pick up the toy, but Mack stops him.
THAT stays here.
Rico looks wistfully at the SEE 'N' SAY for a moment.
Rico turns toward the door and then belches.


'Scuse me. Something I ate, I
He exits, followed by Mack.


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From Josh Echevarria Date 4/29/2008 ***1/2
It was excellent. I liked it. The character develpoment was good. The way you slowly made the characters reach their own personal pschological peak was really great too. It was interesting and it was great to see that you could portray people on the brink of insanity without being so violent and keeping everything at a PG or PG-13 rating.

From Barbara Date 11/27/2007 ****
That was fantastic...I really enjoyed reading it and was on the edge of my seat. For a very short script, the characters were well-developed and I really could get a sense of their desperation, and hope. I would love to see this developed into a short film, or even into a full-length piece. Nice.

From Deborah McKinley Date 11/17/2007 ****
I really enjoyed reading this. I thought there were a few nice twists and ambiguous plot points that left you thinking. The tension build was well executed.

From Laura Date 11/14/2007 ***1/2
I thought this was an interesting short horror piece. It left a lot to the imagination -- what happened to Lisa, how these three came to be together, why there was no food, what the creature in the woods was. I liked the questions it didn't answer. It might be interesting to develop it into a full-length piece and answer some of those questions. Good dialogue writing and nice character development.

From Fish Stark Date 11/12/2007 ****
Haunting. Sad. Engrossing. Awesome.

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