A man returns to his hometown only to reunite with a long-lost friend who now appears to be haunted by something malicious from their childhood. But is it real or simply a figment of his friend’s imagination?
7:30(ish) 9:45(ish) PM
[Now with more dialog!]
The following is a
n incredibly rough mock up (I can’t even call it a rough draft ) of a story that’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for the better part of three years now. In fact, I once had the chance to get a bit of it out in the form of a piece of flash fiction. But in an effort to write even more and just put things out there, I’ve given myself the task (burden ?) of writing something, anything (a rough draft, a final draft, a short story or script or whatever) once a day, every day for 2017. So here this is.
If this gets enough reads, comments, or whatever, maybe I’ll put out
a finished [another] draft. And for those reading this very early in the day, it may very well change[d] quite a bit before the first day of the new year is over.
Be sure to join me on Twitch in the dead of night to chat and join me as I make a go of this.
EXT. HICKS AND SONS JUNKYARD – DAY (YEARS AGO)
A small town junkyard filled with old rusted vehicles, broken appliances, and children playing hide and seek.
PATTY NELSON counts loud and shrill as the others laugh and scatter like rats through the yard and into every nook and cranny they can find.
A boy, GERRY HICKS, finds an old refrigerator and slides inside, the door closing with a loud click.
Minutes pass and we hear the laughter and startled cries and hurried footsteps of children as Patty Nelson finds them all one-by-one. Everyone but Thomas.
The laughter and footsteps fade. Gerry’s shallow, quick breathing fills the darkness. And then a voice calls out to him. Not Patty or any of the other children. This is THE DARKNESS, whispering in his ear. Wet, phlegmy.
Gerry holds his breath. The Darkness grows still and silent.
Silence. And then...
They’ll never find you. No matter how much you scream.
Gerry pushes on the refrigerator door but it won’t open. Only a sliver of light cuts through the darkness only to be swallowed whole again with every panicked push and kick and punch of the door.
Patty! Ritchie! Eric, please! Help me! Somebody, please help me!
The Darkness snarls and growls.
The door snaps open, a blinding wall of light pours in.
The Darkness wraps itself around Gerry, smothering him and his cries. Squeezing his last breath out of his chest. And then drags the boy down into itself, further and further away from the light until...
INT. BEDROOM – DAWN (NOW)
Gerry, now a man, snaps awake in bed with a start.
His eyes dart about his bedroom, lit with the earliest light of dawn. The walls are bare. The windows are bare, no curtain. Burnt out candles are littered everywhere.
His alarm rings, startling him.
He kills the alarm, sighs, and rolls out of bed.
INT. DRUGSTORE – DAY
Gerry stocks shelves at a drugstore in his hometown. His coworkers are in their own world. The locals know him and are pleasant if a bit distant.
Gerald? Gerald Hicks?
Gerry looks up to see a MAN and his WIFE standing across the aisle. The man looks pleased with himself. His wife looks put off.
My God, it is you!
Oh, come on now. Don’t act like you haven’t got a clue about who I am. I haven’t aged that badly, have I?
I’m sorry, Sir.
Sir? Gerry, it’s me! Ritchie Randolph!
Oh my g--Ritchie Randolph!
I’m so sorry. It took a minute for all the pieces to click together.
Not at all. God, it’s been--what? Nineteen, twenty years?
Sounds about right.
Gerry Hicks...you been working here long?
Oh, few months now. Haven’t seen you around here before, though. You still living in town?
Nah. I moved out some years back. Got a small place just a little ways from here. In fact, my wife and I were--Honestly, where’s my head at? Gerry, this is my wife, Ida. Ida, this is my old pal, Gerry Hicks.
It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Mr. Hicks.
Pleasure’s all mine, Ma’am. Though, I do hope whatever Ritchie’s told you wasn’t too off-putting.
Oh, not at all.
Honey, did I ever tell you about the time Gerry and I paid Evie Moore a buck to teach us how to kiss?
Money well spent, I’m sure. But we really should--
Hey, do you remember the time we all got together to hunt down that old tom cat that kept digging around in everyone’s trash?
That’s the one! Belonged to our science teacher, Mrs. Trumble. Awful thing.
The cat wasn’t much good either.
Ritchie guffaws. Gerry and Ida chuckle softly.
How awful! Torturing a defenseless cat like that.
Oh, it wasn’t anything like that. We were just a bunch of kids. We didn’t know any better. Besides, that cat had it coming.
Does your family still own that old junkyard?
Nah. Pops passed away a few summers back. I kept a few things, but I had to sell the yard off to pay his hospital bills.
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.
Ah, he had a good life. Went real peaceful in his sleep, too. Smile on his face and everything.
We should all be so lucky.
An uncomfortable silence.
Look, we’re heading to my folk’s old place for my mother’s birthday. Why don’t you join us?
Yeah! I’d love to hear all about the trouble you and Richard got into as boys.
I don’t know. It’s been so long. I wouldn’t want to impose.
No way. My mom would love to see you after all these years.
I mean, I guess I could stop by for just a few--
Wonderful! What time can we expect you?
I clock out i about an hour.
Perfect! We’ll see you then.
It was nice meeting you, Mr. Hicks.
Nice meeting you too.
Gerry watches as Ritchie and Ida walk off to the checkout aisle, pay, and then leave. He returns to stocking without another word.
INT. HOUSE – DAY
A birthday party.
Ritchie and Ida and various friends and relatives in the kitchen when a WOMAN calls to Ritchie.
Ritchie, there’s a man at the door asking for you.
EXT. HOUSE – DAY
Gerry paces up and down the walkway, waiting for Ritchie.
You’re a little late.
Gerry turns to see Ritchie stepping out from the house.
Yeah, sorry about that.
Hey, don’t worry about it. I’m just yanking your chain. I’m glad you could make it.
Come inside and get something to drink.
Sorry, I’ll have to pass.
Something to eat then.
No, thank you. Really.
Look, I hate to ask you for a favor, especially after not having seen each other in so long, but--
I hope this isn’t about money.
What? No, nothing like that.
I’m fucking with you, Gerry. Please, ask away.
Look, I know this is sudden, but do you think you cold give me a lift home? I didn’t think it’d take so long to walk all the way out here, and I sort of missed my bus, and it’ll be dark long before another one comes this way.
Jesus, is that all? I’ve got you covered.
You sure you wouldn’t like to stay for a minute? No sense rushing home now that you’ve got a ride, right?
I really should get back home before it gets too dark out.
Oh, okay. I suppose that’s settled then. Just give me a minute to tell Ida and grab my coat, okay?
Sure. Thank you, Ritchie.
Yeah. Yeah, no problem. Be right back.
Ritchie disappears into the house. Gerry looks up to the darkening sky.
INT. CAR – DUSK
The car ride to Gerry’s apartment is awkward, uncomfortable. Gerry fiddles with the lights, eager to get home before it gets too dark.
EXT. APARTMENT – NIGHT
By the time they reach the apartment, it’s dark. Richard trails behind as Gerry rushes in and through the complex, into--
INT. APARTMENT – NIGHT
An overly lit apartment. Bright lights and candles and matches scattered about everywhere. Few doors. No curtains. Bottles of prescription pills scattered about.
As they catch up, Gerry begins to act strange, cold towards Richard. Especially when the discussion turns to when the last time they saw each other. When Gerry becomes too agitated, angry--barking and snapping-Richard decides to leave. And that’s when Gerry draws a gun on Richard.
Gerry mentions the day he was locked in the refrigerator (reminding Richard how he was well-liked by the local children but Gerry was looked down on for being poorer than the others, weird), explains what happened after he was let out. Details what he saw and heard while he was in there. At first he could hear the children’s laughter, never giving much thought that they’d leave him in there--that Richard would leave him in there. But soon the laughter faded and it was just him and the hot, thick darkness.
And now it was Richard’s turn.
They argue briefly, Richard defending his actions twenty years ago as the actions of a child--a cruel, mean child who didn’t know any better but a child nonetheless.
But Gerry won’t hear anything of it. He threatens to shoot Richard if his old friend won’t step into the refrigerator--the very same one from twenty years earlier--right this moment. He makes Richard empty it, unplug it, and step inside at gunpoint. Richard tries to fight and argue but his eyes never leave the gun.
And then the door closes.
INT. THE DARKNESS
As the darkness takes everything, swallows Richard and everything whole. Not just light but everything. He hears it speak to him. It knows his darkest fears and secrets. It’s hard to breathe. He’s drying. The darkness itself was waiting for him, waiting to feast on his soul as he took his final breath. Slurping and licking at its chops. He gives on final scream, banging on and pushing at the door, hoping to somehow force it open. The darkness wraps its fingers around his throat, squeezing the final breath out of his chest. He could see the end of everything and the awful things that waited inside. No white light, only them.
And that’s when the door opens.
INT. APARTMENT – NIGHT
Gerry and Richard sit there in still silence. Gerry points out the obvious, that this is why all the lights, the pills. Everything. He’s not had a peaceful nights rest in twenty years. He wakes up screaming every night, afraid of that thing waiting for him. It’s always there. Nothing evades its touch for long. And it waits for him to let his guard down.
Silence. And then, Gerry apologizes for keeping Richard from his family.
Richard disagrees. He’s been happy for this chance to catch up.
And then they part ways for the final time.
INT – RICHARD’S APARTMENT – DAY
Sometime later, Richard hears/reads news about the tragic discovery of Gerry’s body. After several days of failing to show up at work, he was found dead in his apartment. The place looking as if it were ransacked but police believe it to be the work of a cougar or some other wild animal that, somehow, got into Gerry’s apartment while he slept.
His wife attempts to console Richard but he insists that he’s fine. A little shaken but saddened, little else. And this was true, because little else could happen to Gerry now.
INT. RICHARD’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
That night as Richard tries to sleep, the noises in the still darkness keep him awake.
FADE TO BLACK: