This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any actual resemblance to persons or historical persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Hooper characters, settings, locales, ect. are owned by other entities who have not endorsed this fic nor have they given express permission for the character's use. Author makes not claims to these characters and is not making any profit from their use.
All original characters are the property of the author.
© Copyright: 2001-2004. Lisa Philbrick
Hooper Three: Demons and Angels
Prologue - July 23, 1982
Cully Dawson tried to stifle his yawn and looked at his watch, turning
it in the direction of a spotlight. It was ten minutes to two in the
morning and he looked around the set of the mock Vietnamese village
that had been set up in the Indian Dunes park, a few miles north of
LA. People were going about their business, getting things set up and
ready for this last scene, but everybody was clearly worn out by this
point. They had been doing night shooting for three straight weeks
and Cully wondered in humor if hed ever see the sun again.
That nights filming was to wrap up the first segment of what was to be known as The Twilight Zone: The Movie. A joint project between John Landis and Steven Spielberg, it was a tribute of sorts to Rod Serlings television creation. The movie would be comprised of four distinct parts, each directed by a different director and encompassing a different story line. Cully was working on the projects first segment as an assistant stunt coordinator with Sonny Hooper and Delmore Shidski, who were not present on the set that night. Working the project was also a chance to see an old friend again.
Cully had worked a few times on Combat!, the World War II TV series that Vic Morrow had starred in back in the sixties. They became pretty good friends, although in recent years, Vic had been having personal troubles that had curbed his career for awhile. Working on this movie, with two big name directors like Landis and Speilberg, Vic was looking for his career comeback. Cully had the feeling that Vic would have had it once the movie was released.
The scene they were to film was a one shot deal. The mock village would be destroyed in fires and explosions while Vic was to carry two children through the shallow river and away from the helicopter that would strafe them. Seemed simple on paper and director John Landis had a grand vision of how it was going to play out, but Cully didnt like it. Sonny had reserved confidence in the special effects team. Ski was all out for the set up, saying how it was going to look pretty fucking awesome on film. But Cully didnt like it at all and had expressed his concerns to Landis privately, explaining that the explosives and the wind force caused by the helicopter was a recipe for trouble. Landis, however, kindly brushed the veteran stuntman off. It seemed Skis enthusiasm was contagious to the young director.
The distant thunder of the Huey helicopter could be heard as it approached the village and Cully noticed that Vic was pacing near one of the grass huts, several feet away. It was as if the man couldnt stand still, even for a second. Vic seemed to have more energy than anyone else on the set at the moment.
Cully walked over. Vic? You all right?
Vic looked up. Oh, hey Cully. He smiled. Yeah, Im fine.
You sure? You seem kinda nervous.
Vic shrugged. Well...maybe a little bit.
Little did Cully know, Vic had had a premonition once that he would die in a helicopter crash somehow. He had handled dangerous, risky scenes before, but Vic Morrow was not interested in being anywhere near that Huey when it came flying over later.
Instead, Cully figured Vic was just nervous about the scene. Certainly Cully was and he found it difficult to give Vic any words of encouragement. He certainly didnt want to tell Vic that he thought the idea was completely foolish to begin
with. No sense making the lead actor any more nervous than he already was.
Then again, Cully figured that where Vic was trying to make a comeback with this movie, he was just generally nervous because this was the big scene, plus it had to all be done in one shot. Once the village was destroyed there was no putting it back together for a re-shoot.
Youll be fine, Cully said, for lack of anything else to say. He smiled.
Vics smile was completely nervous. Ill be honest with you, Cully....Im not too crazy about that chopper.
Dorceys a good pilot.
Im sure he is, I just...dont like helicopters.
Cully could detect that Vic truly did not want to be near that Huey when it came in. Unfortunately, Cully didnt found out why until much later. He offered what encouragement he could by joking to Vic that he could take his place.
Vic chuckled. Landis wouldnt go for that. Once he realized your face was in the shot instead of mine, hed have my ass.
Mine too, Cully laughed. Hed have quite a pair wouldnt he?
Vic laughed now, a small amount of the tension relieved. He glanced over and saw Landis was heading towards him.
Watch your mouth, Cully.
Cully looked. Whups. He grinned. Hey John.
Landis nodded. Cully. Everything all set?
Good. Landis smiled. Vic, can I talk to you for a minute?
Cully knew his cue. Apparently the director had noticed Vics unease and had a pep talk ready for him. The veteran stuntman politely backed away and went to do a final check of everything.
As he walked towards one of the huts that was rigged to explode, he passed the two children and their parents who were being brought onto the set. Renee Chen, age six, and Myca Dinh Lee, age seven were to appear in the scene with Vic. The children were wide eyed with excitement. The parents seemed sobered in fear. Cullys unease about the whole scene intensified as he watched them pass.
We shouldnt be doing this, he thought as he looked in one of the huts that had a unit of explosives set up in the corner. The chopper would be flying low and there was no telling what kind of debris would fly around from the huts as they blew. Cully couldnt shake the feeling that something was going to go wrong. In all his years of stunt work, he had never felt so ill at ease with a stunt and special effects set up as he did with this.
Cully looked over at Landis who was now talking to the parents of the two young children. Cully could just imagine what he was saying. Theyll be fine, itll all work out. Trust me.
But it didnt all work out. Landis called for everyone to take their places and he waded into the shallow water of the Santa Clara River. A moment later, he signaled the start of filming and six cameras started to roll with the Huey thundering over head. The grass huts exploded and the low flying helicopter swooped close by them, coming back around towards the river.
Cully watched Vic, the actor struggling to keep a hold on the two kids plus keep himself standing up in the water of the river against the strong wind created by the helicopter. Renee fell from his grasp and landed in the water. Vic had no time to try to find the girl and pick her back up. In that very instant, the tail rotor of the helicopter exploded after being hit with flaming debris from one of the burning grass huts. In just a few short seconds, the mechanical beast came hurtling down out of the sky crushing one child in the shallow river bed, the main rotor blade turning towards the other child and Vic...
* * *
When Cully got home later that morning, he stepped inside his apartment
and slowly closed the door, leaning against it. He stayed there for
a moment, still hearing the shrill wailing of Renee Chens mother
as she bent over the remains of her dead child. Cully swallowed hard
and blinked several times. He could still hear her. He could still
His wife, Leeah, was in the kitchen and she appeared in the door way to see what the sound of the closing door had been. Upon seeing her husband leaning against the door and looking like the life had been sucked right out of him she walked across the living room and rushed up to him in concern.
Cully? Whats wrong? Are you all right? She gently took him by the arm and studied his face. Are you sick?
He had been sick. He had made it about six miles from the Indian Dunes park before having to pull over and heave at the side of the road. He took a deep breath and slowly brought his eyes up to meet with hers. It was awful, he said, his voice hoarse with emotion. It...
The scene?" Leeah said. "What happened? Cully...?
He was shaking. It killed him...
A sour shot hit Leeah in the stomach. Vic?
He nodded. The kids too...
Oh God... She put her hand on his shoulder and walked him to the couch, sitting him down. She sat down next to him and took a hold of a trembling hand. What happened?
Cully swallowed again, his eyes shining with renewed tears. I told em..." he said, staring across the floor. "I told em it was too dangerous... He buried his face in his other hand. Oh Leeah, I told em!
She put her arm around him and held him for a moment. He shook like a leaf. What happened, Cully? she asked softly.
Cully lifted his face from his hand and stared down at the floor, seeing the terrible images all over again. His voice altered between soft and rough as he spoke. He was in the river...he had the kids and one fell...the wind force from the chopper was too much. Some debris hit the chopper and sent it out of control. Dorcey couldnt get it out of there and when it went down the rotor blade...it...it... He turned his head to look at Leeah and his voice went so soft, she barely heard him. It hit him....
Leeah brought a hand to her face. Oh my Lord....
I told em..." His voice cracked and he looked away. "Dammit all, I told em!
Shhh... Leeah continued to hold him and tried to comfort him. I know ya did, honey... She rested his head against her shoulder and not before too long was quietly crying with him. Little did Leeah, or Cully, know that the horrible nightmare he had witnessed, was only just the beginning of their own personal one...