Further Scenes

Posted: May 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

int. film set – day

Alfred directs. A motley film crew mill around. On set, Rita cowers behind a closet door, hides among hanging clothes. Tiffany waits, carving knife at the ready.

ALFRED (TO TIFFANY)

Remy, she’s hiding in there, the bitch who made you wear those flowery dresses, remember, look at the old hag-

RITA

Hey!

She bristles.

ALFRED

Sorry mom, it’s the part. Right Remy, think of that heel ACTION!

In dim light Tiffany as Remy stalks into a Laura Ashley bedroom. Sniffs the air. Looks around. Plunges the knife into the mattress, again and again.

She picks up a rag doll and beheads it with one slash. Hears a whimper from the closet. Approaches the door.

She scrapes the blade of the knife on the door, a shrill sound like nails on a blackboard.

Rita passes a rosary beads through her fingers. Mouths prayers silently.

BANG!

Remy throws a bookcase to the ground, ornaments smash.

GRANNY/RITA

GOOD LORD SAVE ME NOW!

Remy slices through the door like paper. She carves it up, pokes her head almost through. A crazy smile.

REMY/TIFFANY

Heeerrrres Remy!

She tears the door apart. Stabs and slashes for all her might. Edmund’s blood packs splatter all over. From the bundle of clothes Granny/Rita rises up, covered in wounds.

GRANNY/RITA

Not so fast you little cunt.

ALFRED

Mother!

Rita grabs Remy by the hair, swings her around.

REMY/TIFFANY

AAAGH!

They fall to the ground, Rita swings and bites, Remy slashes and kicks.

ALFRED

CUT, I SAID FUCKING CUT!

The camera woman fiddles with buttons but the camera keeps rolling. Edmund rushes over to help.

Rita is on top of Remy, falls on the knife and dies dramatically.

REMY/TIFFANY

Get her off me!

She rolls from under Rita, who falls limp among the clothes.

ALFRED

Mom? What the hell were you doing?

There’s no response from Rita.

ALFRED

Mom?

Tiffany is being nursed by Edmund, she has real cuts and bruises.

Alfred falls to his knees, cradles Rita in his arms.

ALFRED

God mom, I knew I shouldn’t have taken you out.

Gloria runs to him as he bursts into tears, rocks back and forth.

GLORIA

Is she-

ALFRED

Yes, and it’s my fault.

Suddenly Rita’s eyes open. She grabs him by the jacket.

RITA

Most fun I had in years son. She wasn’t gonna take me without a fight. You make this movie great. And you-

She addresses Gloria.

RITA

You look after my boy. If you don’t I’ll come back and haunt you till you can’t sleep a wink and those bags under your eyes won’t fit in carry on.

With that she collapses again.

The camera stops rolling.

Silence then sobs. From Tiffany.

EDMUND

Boss, she’s hurt, really.

ALFRED

Call an ambulance.

ext. hospital – day

Tiffany exits in a wheelchair. She has an arm strapped up, a band aid on her cheek.

She is greeted by a gaggle of reporters, flashing cameras and thrusting mikes.

A REPORTER pushes a recorder right up to Tiffany’s mouth.

reporter

Can you tell us exactly what happened?

tiffany

OMG, I thought I was going to be killed. She came at me as though she was possessed. I know it was acting but it seemed so real, I tried to defend myself, it was horrible.

reporter

Are you aware people are saying the movie is cursed. The first one was and now it’s happening again. Care to comment on that?

TIFFANY

I’m just glad to be alive.

reporter

Are you going to continue working on this movie?

Tiffany’s demeanour changes from victim to pretentious. She stands up from the wheelchair. As she does so a black car with darkened windows screeches to a halt.

tiffany

I am a professional. This is a sacrifice I have to make for my art. I’m not afraid of anything. The Birthday Girl story will go on.

The car door swings open. Tiffany gets in and it speeds away.

int. car – day

Alfred drives, Tiffany sits in the back seat.

ALFRED

How did it go?

Tiffany takes the sling from her arm and stretches it. Slowly peels away the band aid to reveal a small scratch.

tiffany

Ouch

INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT

Alfred and Edmund look over script pages. Alfred scribbles furiously. Puts down his pen with a flourish.

ALFRED

The last scene.

Edmund reads the pages.

EDMUND

Fuck boss, how are we going to film this. That kind of set would cost/

Alfred scrawls an address on a scrap of paper.

ALFRED

Who said anything about a set. You bring some of those film school kids, ones you trust and meet me here, 3 AM. Ok?

EDMUND

Whatever you say boss.

INT. HOME CINEMA – day

Alfred, Edmund and Gloria observe an audition. A timid girl reads aloud, acts as though she is being stabbed.

ALFRED

SCREAM!

TIMID GIRL

Eeeek!

It’s a whimper.

ALFRED

Gloria, show them how it’s done.

Gloria strides on stage.

ALFRED

Action!

She stands with her back to us. Stock still. Turns slowly. Her face changes into a mask of terror. Her hands crawl over her face, cover her eyes. Dramatically she drops them and emits

GLORIA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

She screams like a banshee and collapses to the ground. A sobbing mass.

The crew clap. She stands up. Smiles. Bows gracefully.

edmund

Never lost it.

ALFRED

But Remy is sixteen.

GLORIA

I can do it, a bit of make up, lighting.

Alfred looks at the script. Won’t look her in the eye.

ALFRED

Let’s just look at a couple more. I have the perfect part for you doll. Professor Golden was just made for your talents.

Tiffany comes on stage, picks up the script. Her outfit showcases her not inconsiderable assets.

tiffany

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGH

It’s a bodice ripping scream. She flops to the floor, limp as a doll. Alfred shuffles script pages.

ALFRED

Here, try this. From here.

He hands her an incredibly large carving knife and script.

TIFFANY

You bitch! I’m going to-

ALFRED

STOP!

He jumps up, grabs her by the shoulders. Madness in his eyes.

ALFRED

You are Remy, get it? You’re about to commit your first murder. You don’t want to spank this girl, you want to tear her to shreds.

He grabs a cushion.

ALFRED

FOR CHRISSAKE. This girl has made your life a living hell for the last five years. She got you kicked out of Cheer Camp for not smiling enough. You’re going to disembowel her. You’re going to send her pretty blue eyes to her Mom on top of two cupcakes.

Tiffany blanches, clearly scared.

ALFRED

Now pull yourself together and do this, you have one chance. To be HER. The scariest girl who ever fired up a chainsaw…

His voice trails off. He’s looking at a framed poster for the movie “Birthday Girl”. It’s Gloria as a teen and in full flow, a still life storm of flashing blades and blood and guts.

ALFRED (quietly to tiffany)

Now do it. Just think of something you hate more than anything else in the whole world. And kill it.

He hands her the cushion.

Tiffany steels herself, closes her eyes for a moment, then.

tiffany

YOU FUCKING COCKSUCKING BITCH

In a blur of motion she unleashes a furious assault. Feathers fly everywhere.

Alfred jumps back.

Edmund touches a crucifix on a chain round his neck.

EDMUND (to himself)

Uncanny.

Alfred has to grab Tiffany to stop her.

ALFRED

Ladies and gentlemen. Meet Remy.

Gloria storms out of the room.

ALFRED (TO TIFFANY)

That was great. What were you thinking of?

TIFFANY

Umm. The time I broke the heel off my favourite shoe.

int. bedroom – night

Tiffany, surrounded by script pages, is on the Net. Types in “Gloria Dean Actor”. We see the screen. A Wikipedia page. Photos of Gloria as a beautiful teen.

Actress. Best known for her lead role in schlock horror movie Birthday Girl and sequels. Married to Alfred Butcher, Film Director. Following the panning of the final movie in the series by critics Gloria Dean is rumoured to live in seclusion with her husband.

She clicks on a link titled “The Birthday Girl Curse”.

We read:

Four of the Birthday Girl series actors all died within 10 years of the first movie. Caroline Dunne, who played Danni in the first movie, died at age 22 after being murdered by her former boyfriend. Jimmy Redmond, the 60-year-old actor who played Henry in “Birthday Girl III,” died of stomach cancer diagnosed before he had accepted the role. Will Adams, 53 years old, who played the Bogey Man in “Birthday Girl,” died as a result of post-operative kidney failure. Tara Barry, who played the child Remy in three Birthday Girl movies died at the age of 12 of septic shock.

tiffany

OMFG!

She scrolls down, finds a page on celebrity plastic surgery gone wrong. A picture of the Gloria today among others.

int. kitchen – night

CRASH! Alfred ducks a flying plate. Gloria has a tumbler of whiskey and plenty of ammo.

GLORIA

You fucking fuck!

Alfred hides behind the island unit. A mug narrowly misses his head.

ALFRED

Dollface it’s the only way.

GLORIA

Don’t dollface me you toad, I saw the way you were looking at her.

ALFRED (indignant)

I’m a professional. Baby, I need you in this movie, just not as Remy, she has to be -

He stands up, grabs a frying pan as a shield.

ALFRED

Young.

BAM! A plate hits the frying pan. He edges towards her.

ALFRED

You’re the best there is. If we do this right we’ll be able to make any movie we want, together baby. Go with me on this and the next one will be just us. We’ll pay the dough back and have enough.

Gloria toys with a plate decides whether to throw it or not. Softens.

GLORIA

Really?

ALFRED

You’ll be a star again.

Gloria smiles.

Then SMASH! The plate catches Alfred right over the eye. He falls to the ground and she is on top of him.

GLORIA

Oh darling! You’re bleeding.

Alfred is dazed, a small cut on his forehead oozes.

GLORIA

Here, let me fix that.

She swabs it. Straddles him.

ALFRED

FUCK!

GLORIA

OK DOLLFACE, this once we go for it. The next movie is mine, got it!

Alfred nods. Their lips almost touch. She leans to his ear.

GLORIA (whispers)

Prove you’re the man you used to be!

Alfred is frantic. Fights her to get on top. Wins.

Boxer shorts round his ankles, smoking jacket flapping over his bare ass, Alfred thrusts away on top of Gloria as she fake moans. Alfred’s face is almost purple with the effort.

GLORIA

yes yes yada yada

Gloria inspects her nail polish as he strives to finish what she started. No joy, he collapses in a heap.

ALFRED

Sorry.

She strokes his hair.

GLORIA (WHISPERS)

You just need to get back on top babes. You know it hasn’t been the same in a long time.

ALFRED

This one’s gonna be different. It’ll be just like the old days.

int. nursing home – day

Alfred visits his mother, RITA (83), bright eyed, dressed in a neat blouse and skirt. They sit on a bench in the garden.

ALFRED

It’s nice here mom isn’t it?

rita

You think so?

ALFRED

Aw mom.

A buff young gardener catches Rita’s eye.

rita (playfully)

I suppose it’s not so bad.

An aged man totters by on a walking aid. Pauses, winks at Rita, tries to do an Elvis hip sway, falls over.

RITA

If you keep ahead of the zombies.

ALFRED

Same in here as out there.

He stares into the distance.

RITA

Might as well just tell me what’s bothering you son. I know you’re not here for the floor show.

ALFRED

Times have been tough. It’s a while since I had a hit and the money’s long gone. But I have a chance to get back, I need cash to do it and I don’t know where else to turn.

RITA (changes subject)

How’s my daughter in law.

ALFRED

She’s fine mom, still with me.

Rita touches the band aid on his head.

RITA

She’s a firecracker.

ALFRED

We’re still good mom. We work.

RITA

I know son. She’s the best thing ever happened to you. How much do you need?

He toys with a cup.

ALFRED

It’ll take around three to do it right, I know it’s a lot.

The gardener passes, muscles ripple as he pushes a barrow.

RITA

Woooeee! What I couldn’t get for three million.

She laughs.

ALFRED

Mom?

RITA

Son, you’re gonna get what I have sooner or later anyway. I can’t lay my hands on that kind of money right away but if you give me a bit of time, maybe I can sell the old place and see what we can do? Just do one thing for me.

ALFRED

Anything.

RITA

Get me out of here for a day or two. I want to eat a ribeye that hasn’t been put through a blender one more time.

She opens the top button of her blouse, fans herself dramatically as the gardener saunters by.

ALFRED

How do you feel about a cameo?

the next scenes…

Posted: March 5, 2013 in Screenplays, Uncategorized

int. home cinema – night

A home cinema lined with posters. A shelf displays awards, dusty and tarnished. Alfred sits in a plush velvet seat. Hits the pause button. On screen we see the still photo of Gloria in her youth.

A door opens, light floods in, Alfred pulls shades from his dyed jet black hair over bleary blue eyes.

Gloria shouts.

gloria (o.s.)

ALF, SOMEONE FOR YOU!

ALFRED

Be right there honey.

He pushes the door closed. Settles back.

The credits roll – AN ALFRED BUTCHER PRESENTATION.

He rises, makes a weak effort to tidy himself up before he exits to:

int. kitchen – night

Alfred’s kitchen was once grand, marble counters, top of the range appliances. The gleam has faded.

A girl, prim in a school uniform, pigtails, stands between two burly men who exude threat. This is BABY (12). She is in tears.

GLORIA

My poor child.

She moves to comfort her but the heavies step in her way. Alfred stands back.

heavy #1

Miss Baby is here about what’s owed.

alfred (to baby)

Your father said it would be OK until the end of the month.

baby

Daddy’s dead. They found him yesterday at the bottom of our Koi pond.

GLORIA

Oh my God.

baby (wistfully)

He looked just like he was asleep…with the fishes.

ALFRED

My deepest condolences. If there’s anything at all I can do for you -

Baby’s demeanour changes, from grief to downright menace. She nods and Heavy #1 moves in on Gloria, grabs her manicured hand.

BABY

- as a matter of fact there is Mr film director. You owed Daddy dearest for that last piece of crap you made. He told me if anything ever happened to him I was to take care of business. One way or another.

The Heavy swipes a chunky diamond ring from Gloria’s finger. Hands it to Baby.

ALFRED

I’ll get it. I just need time.

BABY

Two hundred grand. How much time do you need. Why shouldn’t I just take what you owe me now?

She inspects the ring. Looks around the kitchen.

BABY

Or maybe everything here is as fake as this. Or her!

She tosses the ring in the sink. Reaches for a cheese grater but it’s too high up. Jerks her head at Heavy #1 who lifts her up to grab it.

BABY (to heavy#1)

Now hold her still! Let’s see how botox shreds.

Heavy#2 grabs Alfred before he can react. Heavy#1 pins Gloria’s face to the cold marble. Baby moves in, glides the grater, the smooth side, over her chiselled cheekbone. Gloria screams.

ALFRED

STOP! I will get your money and more. Please, in your fathers name. He never forgot his part in my movie.

Baby snorts a laugh.

BABY

You made him a zombie.

ALFRED

And he loved it.

Baby’s mood changes like the breeze. She becomes nostalgic, for a second.

BABY

He did.

Alfred senses an opportunity.

ALFRED

I promise you. Two weeks time. I have something big coming up. It’s a sure fire hit.

Baby considers this. She eyes Gloria like a hyena. Relents. Heavy #1 releases her, she falls to the ground. Baby looks Alfred right in the eyes.

BABY

Daddy always said never give a sucker an even break. But he liked you, used to talk like you were going to make him famous.

ALFRED

We did have some fun times.

BABY

One chance for Daddy’s sake.

With a flick of her pigtails she orders the heavies out, turns on the sink macerator as she goes, a horrible grinding sound from the machine covers Glorias sobs. Sparks fly from the sink and the room is plunged into darkness as fuses blow.

Alfred helps Gloria up. Holds her, strokes her hair, she is hysterical.

ALFRED

I’ll make it right.

int. bar – day

Alfred chews on an unlit cigar. He sits with EDMUND (55), looks like a nutty professor, unruly hair, steely eyes. A TV shows a dated movie.

ALFRED

Two weeks.

edmund

Man. How did Gloria take it?

ALFRED

Ah you know.

EDMUND

I haven’t seen her in so long. How is she holding up?

ALFRED

She won’t take many more dog days. I gotta get back in the game.

edmunD

We’ll figure something out boss.

ALFRED

Another?

Waves to the barmaid. She flounces over. This is TIFFANY MILLS (21), aspiring actress, a blast of shiny teeth and dyed blond hair, more-than-a-little desperate looking.

Alfred looks her over. Likes what he sees. He gets a blank stare back. Edmund looks up at the screen. It shows the scene of the gym massacre from earlier.

EDMUND

Man, we weren’t bad.

ALFRED

Nobody could do a blood splatter like you.

edmund

They screamed like babies when the fingers started to move eh?

For a moment they are happy, engrossed, Tiffany is suddenly interested.

tiffany

Are you guys like…in movies?

ALFRED

Allow me to introduce myself. Alfred Butcher, Slaughterhouse Films, and this is Ed McNamara, Mac The Knife to his friends, best special effects guy in the business.

Tiffany lights up like a Christmas tree.

tiffany

Cool, I’m an actress, um, I’m working here to pay back my college loan until…

Her voice trails off.

ALFRED

Keep trying kid. It’s a tough business.

tiffany

What films have you made?

edmund

Ever heard of Birthday Girl 1, or 2, or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6.

Tiffany scratches her head, then realises.

tiffany

Ooooh, yeah those horror movies, my gram just loves them.

Alfreds face drops.

On the TV screen it’s the climax of the movie, the chainsaw is about to fall when. FLASH! The pale colour of the old movie is replaced instantly by a garishly bright ad. A creature claws it’s way through a swamp. IN THEATRES NOW. TYRANOPIRHANA 3D.

EDMUND

What the fuck!

Alfred sits back. A Eureka moment.

ALFRED

My friend, what do you know about 3D?

EDMUND

Well as a matter of fact, maybe more than you think. Since we got…quiet…I been doing some research. Took a few classes.

On TV the climax of the movie resumes.

ALFRED (gestures at screen)

Think you could do anything with that?

edmund

It costs.

ALFRED

Humour me.

EDMUND

Don’t see why not. Nothing’s impossible if you have the dough.

ALFRED (to tiffany)

Another round my dear. How would you like to audition for a movie?

Tiffany plants two doubles in front of them.

TIFFANY

On the house.

edmund

Want me to round up the old crew?

ALFRED

Frankie the editor?

edmund

Retirement home.

ALFRED

Makeup Mary?

edmund

Married, last I heard she was hiking in Peru.

ALFRED

Damn.

Edmund scrolls through contacts on his phone.

edmund

Leave it with me.

He makes a call on his phone.

ALFRED

John Burns please?

Alfred nods approvingly.

EDMUND

He did?

He shakes his head in disbelief.

EDMUND

My condolences Mrs Burns.

He hangs up.

ALFRED

You cannot be serious?

EDMUND

Last week. Alcohol poisoning.

Alfred blesses himself.

ALFRED

That makes five of the old crew gone to meet their maker.

EDMUND

I’ve an idea boss, you remember Lonny, she’s lecturing at that film school now. What say we pull in an old favour?

ALFRED

Nearly everyone we worked with is pushing up daisies. So yeah, how ’bout some new blood.

All the while Tiffany is as attentive as a new puppy. They get up to leave. She is crestfallen. Alfred passes her an address on a beermat.

ALFRED

Auditions Monday. 8 AM. Bring your loudest scream.

ext. school gymnasium – night

A window explodes as a fist punches through it to the outside. Flames lick the walls. Screams rend the air.

Fingers grasp. A chainsaw slices through the arm they are attached to. It flops to the ground, sizzles in the fire.

A girl, REMY MICHAELS, eyes dancing in a manic frenzy, cackles with glee as she creates a bloodbath.

Title credits roll. BIRTHDAY GIRL.

STARRING:

A still photo appears of a stunning girl with the caption

GLORIA DEAN

The screen freezes, paused.

int. kitchen – morning

A man stands with his back to us. He prepares a breakfast tray. A boiling kettle whistles shrill, he moves to the cooker to remove it.

He rustles in a cupboard, extracts a loaf of bread, inspects it. Trims the hard edges off with a knife and pops a slice in a toaster.

He opens a fridge. It is almost empty. He takes out a packet of bacon, sniffs it, nearly falls over. He bins the bacon, finds two eggs and quickly scrambles them on a pan. He puts the toast and eggs on the tray.

He turns toward us. This is ALFRED BUTCHER (59), horror film maker, hard faced softened by good living. He’s Hugh Hefner without the money, wears a tatty smoking jacket, boxer shorts and slippers.

He lifts the tray, exits, moves through a hallway. A half wilted bouquet of flowers droops from a vase on a hall table. He picks up a wad of brown envelopes from inside the door. Beside the vase a mound of brown envelopes remain unopened. He adds the wad to this.

He pauses, selects the bloom with most life, pops it into a glass on the tray. Proceeds up a grand but worn staircase.

Framed posters line the wall beside the staircase. They are for a series of films. The first one proclaims:

Birthday Girl!

The film that will make you wish you’d never been born!

The picture on the poster is that same beautiful girl from the opening scene.

He proceeds up the stairs. We see the posters for sequels. The girl on the poster gradually ages. In the final one:

Birthday Girl 6! Ultimate Revenge!

The girl is a woman in her thirties. Her face is contorted by plastic surgery. She holds a head dripping gore from a severed neck in one hand and an axe in the other. A school is in flames behind her.

Alfred gently opens a door.

cut to:

int. bedroom – day

The room is in twilight. Alfred lays the tray on a bedside locker, opens the curtains only a little, sun rays stream in. The room is unkempt.

ALFRED

Happy birthday dollface.

There is a person in the bed, only her hair is visible, the duvet is pulled way up.

Alfred sits on the bed.

ALFRED

C’mon baby, it’s a special day, time to rise and shine.

Slowly he eases the duvet down to reveal GLORIA (42), aging gracelessly and held together with plastic surgery.

She’s the same woman from the posters but time has taken a toll. Her mouth is upturned in a joker-like grin, her eyes full of sadness. She sits up.

GLORIA

I haven’t shone in a long time.

ALFRED

Ah honey don’t be like that.

GLORIA

Breakfast in bed?

ALFRED

It is your birthday.

He strokes her hair back from her eyes.

ALFRED

My god you’re beautiful.

She drops her head.

GLORIA

Ha! You’re the only one who thinks so. I haven’t had a role in seven years.

He pulls her into an embrace. Holds her tight.

ALFRED

Just waiting for the right one babes. Things are different these days. We’re still good though, yeah? We’ve got through worse.

She pulls back.

GLORIA

We need something soon, I can’t take much more of this.

ALFRED

I’ll make something happen, I always do don’t I? Now eat your breakfast before it’s cold.

GLORIA

I’ll be down soon, you go ahead.

She forces a smile as he puts the tray on her lap. Alfred exits and she puts the flower to her nose, inhales the scent.

We see a photograph of her in a pose of youthful beauty.

NIGHTWATCHMAN

Posted: October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

At the age of five Terence was sent to fetch milk and found himself tempted to steal a chocolate bar. He stood sweating and shaking, the milk in his hand. The impulse pushed him so hard and his inner sense of right struggled so much with it that a trickle of urine dribbled down from his short pants, forming a pool around his buckled sandals. He shook so much the bottle fell and shattered on the tiles. He could feel the heat on his leg and smell the stench. His mother was red faced as she changed his pants. As he grew he felt impulses as all boys do. His reaction was always to fight them, whether they were healthy or unhealthy. Eventually he couldn’t tell the difference. He went to school alone, ate lunch alone and came home alone. He didn’t read or watch movies or have an interest in sport. He never drank. When he was in his late teens his mother left home, leaving him alone. She said she needed to be free and to have some fun in her life.

He avoided women because of the temptation. He avoided children in case he felt a temptation, though truth be told he never did. He avoided men because of the things they said and did. He left school with average grades and a perfect attendance record. It was this single thing that allowed him to get the post of night watchman at the local light bulb factory. At night he walked around the silent factory as though it were his kingdom. He liked to do so in the darkness. During daylight hours the factory hummed with life. Three hundred women and girls filed in through the gates to start shift at eight-thirty am. They filed right back out again at five-thirty pm.

The night watchman, whose full name was Terence Birtles, started shift at six pm and finished at seven-thirty am. Mostly the girls on the factory floor did not even know he existed and to any who did he was known as Batty Birtles, probably because of the way he walked soundlessly, possibly because of stories of him flitting around the factory in the dark of night. Terence brought sandwiches and a flask to his hut at the gate, timing his arrival for just after the day workers had gone home. He made his rounds three times nightly like clockwork. He saw how each worker organised their little space, a personal touch here or there, a snapshot of a loved one. Terence had a key to every lock. He knew that the stationery store could be locked from the inside and sometimes was used for more than storage. He knew what had gone on in there that day when he stood for a little while in the dark room and sniffed the air. He never let himself spend too long in there.

One autumn night Terence walked into the security hut to be met by the HR manager and a woman.
“I’m Grace.” she said.
He shook her hand and as he did her expression changed, she withdrew hers and when he looked away she wiped it on her skirt. Terence could feel the sweat begin to gather in his armpit.
“Right, Terence, Grace is here to study how we do things. Time and motion studies, that kind of thing, I’ll leave you to chat.” the Manager said as he left.
Grace crossed her legs and even with his eyes glued to the floor Terence knew she had sheer nylon tights covering shapely legs
“I’m glad he’s gone.” Grace unbuttoned her suit jacket and slung it over the chair. “I know it seems intimidating but honest to God all I’m here to do is look at working methods and suggest efficiencies. I’m sure we’ll get on fine, you and me. Now, do you have a kettle here?”
Terence got up and put the kettle on. Her relaxed manner caught him off guard and he found himself unusually at ease.
He kept his back to her as he made the tea and couldn’t remember the last time he had been alone with a woman apart from his mother. He focused his mind on the task at hand and that seemed to help.
“You can stop stirring now.” Her voice had a hint of a laugh.
He turned back and for the first time looked at her as he handed her the steaming mug. She sat cross legged, her skirt an inch above her knee. She was small, brown haired and her face was the shape of a heart. She pulled her skirt over her knee.
“Thanks. Right, next Wednesday I’ll spend a few hours with you as you do your job, and we’ll see where we go from there. Is that all right?”
Terence nodded as she passed him back her mug.
“Ta ra. So see you next week. Relax we might even have fun. You never know.” And she was gone.
Terence sat alone and smelled the air. He sat where she had and the seat was still warm from her. He sat there for a long time. He didn’t go on any rounds that night. The next day he slept fitfully. When he walked in the park he walked past people without even noticing them.

The next evening when he got into work an email alert was flashing on his computer. He held his breath as he clicked open.
From: Human Resources
To: Employee number 297
Subject: Work Assessment
Work study postponed until Friday at 5pm
Yours
Ms. Grace Goodyear
He looked over the email and then he printed it. He made himself a cup of tea using the mug that she had used as he pondered the meaning of the message. He liked the use of the word “Yours”. He didn’t object to her use of his employee number rather than his name as he knew she was the ultimate professional and would always be professional in her business dealings even if both of them knew better. She had used the title Ms which he knew was a message to him that she was available and eager. In summary, he could not have been happier had the email been delivered by Cupid himself in a bouquet of roses.
At home he looked at himself in the mirror. He was surprised. He used to only glance at the mirror, afraid that what he saw would reveal something dark and dangerous. Now he saw a smiling face with a twinkle in his eye. He calculated there were 1800 minutes from then until he would see her again. 108,000 seconds. He sat in his armchair and counted.
By five-ten pm on Friday evening he was standing in the centre of his office. Then she breezed through the door. He looked at his watch.
“Hello,” he said.
“Right, let’s get started.” She sat at the desk without looking at him and opened a laptop.
“Would you like some tea?” he said.
“So what do you do first when you get in?” Her finger was tapping the desk as she looked at him over bifocals. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail.
“Mm.”
“Okay, okay, they said you were a bit… why not just show me? I’ll go around with you and make notes; you do what you always do.”
She clicked the stopwatch. Terence was frozen to the spot for a split second then shook himself out of it. He pulled on his tunic over his new shirt and began to button it up.
“That’s better,” she said.
He thought he heard a smile creep back into her voice. Maybe her hard-ass approach was all part of the act. After all, it wouldn’t do if she was seen to be fraternising with him during work hours. He remembered hearing that women could be wily in the ways of love, before he stopped listening to the things men said about women. She stood up and patted down her suit. He looked down as she did, noting the open top button and the triangle of milk-white skin it revealed.
“What are you waiting for?” She tapped the watch. “Time is money.”
He shrugged. If this was the game he would play along. He picked up his keys and they left the hut for the short walk to the factory. A short walk, but he wished it would never end. She walked across the car park just ahead of him and he couldn’t help but notice the sway of her hips. He was sure this was her hidden signal to him.
“I’m yours. I said we’d have some fun. I hope you’re enjoying our little game. You’ve just made it to level two. Congratulations.”
When they got to the factory door, the keys jiggled in his hand as he leant across her to unlock it. He caught the scent of her perfume. That confirmed his suspicions. The voice in his mind said, “Hey fool. You don’t think she puts that on every day for any old occasion.”
He managed to open the door and hold it for her, as she clicked her stopwatch and made a note on her palmtop.
“Okay the first round is the factory floor. I usually go this way.”
They walked in through the double doors to the factory. Moonlight trickled through the roof windows.
“So show me what you do, please.” she said.
He walked along the line checking each workspace. As he did she clicked the stopwatch repeatedly. After a few minutes he began to enjoy the noise of the clicking. It became the beat of their song. He even began to check things for real. When they reached the end of the factory, she said, “Forty seven minutes. Not bad.”
He stood in front of her.
“You could do it quicker though.”
He was sure she smiled as she said that, though he didn’t look.
“Next we check the stores. It won’t take as long,” he said.
They walked through to the stores. The hair on the back of his neck bristled. He detested this place. His face began to burn. Bare breasted beauties beckoned from the notice board over each desk. He turned away.
“I…I..I’m sorry about this.”
She clicked her watch.
“What are you talking about? Get on with it, will you? I’ve not got all night to fart about with you.”
He kept his eyes to the floor as he checked each space and the door. He glanced up to see a page three girl smiling at him. He felt a long forgotten feeling in the pit of his stomach. He hurried through the rest of the stores.
“Okay, much faster here, but I think you missed a couple of things.”
He was glad to breathe the air of the offices when they finally got out of the stores.
“This is the last round of the evening. I check all the offices to see the computers are off and doors are locked and everything is as it should be.”
“Sounds right, let’s do it.”
Something about the way she added “please” made him relax. More than that, it made him think she wanted him. She wanted him so much. Badly.
“What’s in here?”
“The stationery store. It’s usually okay,” he said.
“Let’s have a look.”
He took out the keys but paused.
“What are you waiting for? Let’s finish what we started.”
The door opened and she walked in ahead of him.
“Looks fine to me.”
When she turned around he was standing in the doorway. Sweat was pouring down his face, a patch of dampness spreading on his slacks.
She clicked her stopwatch.
“R-right..I think I’ve enough to work on.” She pushed past him. “I’ll make my own way out.”
He didn’t turn around. He heard the doors of the factory close behind her. He locked the room and stayed there in the blackness.

A wee bit of horror

Posted: September 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Zander

To clear the mind for this project it became necessary to know the enemy in order to prepare to fight it. Unflinching, Zander faced the indictment of the full length mirror on the back of the washroom door, naked from the waste up, no effort to straighten up, slouched, he looked from top to bottom surveying the middle aged spread, the generous unused love handles, the three day old varicose bruising around his left nipple, turned his back to the mirror craning his neck to see tonight’s damage. Five long welts snaked down his back diagonally from the bulb at the base of his neck to his arse which had in the last year begun to succumb to gravity. He swabbed the cuts with spittle damp toilet roll, his gnarly face flinching. His eyes stung from lack of sleep and three nights of oncoming headlights. He knew now what he had to do to beat this thing.

He picked his white bloody t-shirt from the tiled floor and ran the water into the sink washing it as best he could, a job not made easy by the pushbutton tap, wrung it dry as best he could and held it under the hand dryer. It was still damp and sticky when he put it back on, the red stripes coming through the white cotton. He covered this with his donkey jacket, swished cold water on his face and made his way back into the all night café. A drunken couple slobbered over each other in a booth, the only customers. Zander was sure they would never recognise him again. The single waitress though was a different proposition. He considered leaving until he caught her looking at him from the corner of his eye so he took a stool at the counter and ordered a coffee. Why did she have to look? He could feel the heavy wool of the jacket eating into the scrapes on his back through the light cotton shirt. The pain soothed him. He stretched his arms onto the counter flexing his shoulder blades to open out the gashes, the fibres of the jacket burrowing in so that the stings multiplied along his back. Easing back he grimaced as the infliction focussed his mind on the task to come. The waitress wandered over, chewing gum as if her life depended on it and, he thought, maybe it did.

It had taken him precisely three days earlier as dawn gloomed through his bedroom window. A fitful night ended when he sat bolt upright. Thirty two years of normality erased in a blink. Zander didn’t know why it took him then or why it delayed so long to do it and then he didn’t know how to fight it. When it had him he had only a single compulsion. As his wife wriggled under the pillow her hand had crept from under the covers clawing at his chest until he used his bulk to make her still so that the only movements were jiggling nerves. He got up from the bed and dressed while her muscles flickered. Across the landing his twin two year old daughters slept the sleep of angels in a room of little ponies. Zander and the enemy stood in the doorframe inhaling their shallow breaths. The pain in his left breast allowed him to turn away closing the door softly behind him before easing his car into the morning torrent. An inkling on how to fight it. Three days ago. Since then he drove until he had to stop.

Zander and the enemy stopped twice in three days. Souvenirs of the last stops filled the trunk of Zander’s Volvo. The ad said the trunk was large enough to take two sets of golf clubs. Yesterday’s town was somewhere north of the centre and he stopped because he had to eat and piss, even though he had no senses now the enemy had him he still had to fuel both himself and the Volvo, it would not allow him not to and now the pain around his nipple was gone it was savage in it’s compulsive demands. He knew he had to stop it in that town. It gave him no choice but Zander saw an opportunity. The car park beside the supermarket was dry as ashes in the August afternoon. A young mother bundled children and shopping into her SUV and reversed without looking, unable to see Zander on his knees beneath her rear wheels. Zander could see the end of this. But the enemy had not yet taught him the rules of the game. As the wheels reached his head a drill punctured his brain releasing a marching band inside his skull and he convulsed in the dust like a severed worm, the enemy towering over him. Flor jammed on the brakes catching a glimpse of the squirming epileptic on the ground. Her peach shaped face awash with concern peered down at him Zander who noticed a dimple in her chin pursing while he pushed the blade up until it hit her breastbone. Her blood puddinged in the dust when the enemy was silencing the souvenirs and stowing them in the trunk. Zander felt a pain in his ribs where Flor’s knee impacted as she collapsed but it wasn’t enough.

Three hundred and two miles later the enemy stopped to pick up a hitchhiker, a blonde Aussie girl on her world tour the cheap way. She wore a healthy tan like a badge. Blue jeans faded from washing, a Jimmy Hendrix t shirt and well worn Converse runners. She bounded into the passenger seat flinging a rucksack in the back and flashing a smile of thanks to Zander. He nodded as he swung the car back on the road. She was instantly comfortable, flicking on the radio and tapping out a rhythm on the dashboard with her long nails. The road was busy for a stretch. They passed strip shopping malls, churches with neon signs, golden arches, and motels as the sun became a tangerine bow on the horizon. Zander relaxed into the rippling music and her nasal voice. She was filing her nails with her feet up on the dashboard when the enemy pulled over on a road which made a scar through miles of sunflowers. As he grabbed her throat Zander made sure her hands came around him, her freshly hewn claws digging through his t shirt raking down his back. The searing pain was a boon, he eased back releasing his hands from her neck. She gurgled as her eyes rolled in her head. The enemy pushed her into the trunk.

At the next lit up spot on the road Zander pulled into an all night café pushing his back against the seat until he could feel the throbbing of his heart against the worn leather. He walked into an unremarkable café. Adequate lighting and expressionless décor accompanied by low country music. He went directly to the washroom passing a gum chewing waitress.

The Tonic

Posted: June 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

EXT. FARM- DAY
JOSEPH, a farmer in his 70’s squints at a midday sun which
bathes his acres of fields in gold. A hen moseys over. He
rests his walking stick against a stone wall and chases it
for a minute before booting it away in a flurry a laughter.
Reaches into his pocket for a full bottle of whiskey. Is
about to take a swig when a loud shout from behind freezes
him.

NIECE
JOSEPH! What are you doing?

He sheaths his bottle instantly as his young dumpy NIECE
waddles towards him in a hideously ancient frock. Ruddy
faced and stern, her curly hair blows around her face
incessantly. He picks up the stick and immediately hunches
into a wizened version of his former self. Looks around
innocently. She softens when she sees him. Puts an arm
around his shoulders. Leads him gently to the house. The hen
eyes him warily as he limps away. His niece babbles a list
of rules which fade into the background.

INT. KITCHEN- DAY
The walls bleed nicotine tar. The local paper lies open on
the obituaries; Joseph reads them and puts a tick beside
names he knows. A single weak bulb with no shades dangles
from the ceiling. Dust clings to every surface. The niece
paces the lino floor wringing her hands. The doorbell rings.
She straighten herself up and tries to tidy Joseph, spits on
her hand to dampen his cowlick and sticks it to his
forehead, he swats her away.

JOSEPH
Leave me be!

She opens the back door with him a few steps behind.
The niece steps back. MARY enters; a voluptuous black middle
aged woman. Joseph recoils, eyes wide with surprise.

JOSEPH
Jesus!

MARY
Mary.

NIECE
Joseph.
(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 2.
Joseph’s eyes twinkle and he tentatively holds out a hand.
Mary shakes it vigorously as the niece slips out the back
door.

MARY
Now Mr Doyle, your niece tells me
you need a bit of help around here
so I’ll be here from 9 to 5
weekdays. I do everything a wife
does.She thinks about this then wags a finger.

MARY
Well not everything!

She brays a laugh tucking his grandad shirt into his baggy
trousers.

INT. BATHROOM
Mustard plastic bathroom suite, grimy; adorned with cobwebs
and mould. Joseph in the bath scrubbing vigorously, singing
to himself.
Joseph stands in front of the mirror, threadbare yellow
towel around his waist, wrenches open the cabinet, pushes
past years of faded labels to find a half full bottle of
aftershave, applies it liberally, face, underarms, under the
towel and winces with the sting.

JOSEPH
Good lord!

He hops on the spot. From a stool in the corner he takes his
Sunday best and dresses himself and pats his hair down.
Looks in the mirror, pauses and pulls the tail of his shirt
from his trousers.

INT. KITCHEN- DAY
Joseph stands at the door in fervent anticipation, repats
his hair and pulls at his shirt tail, walks sprightly over
to get his stick and goes back to the door. The key jangles
in the lock and he grins. Mary barrels through the doorway.
She grabs him and tucks his shirt in yanking his trousers up
brusquely. Joseph looks on bemused.

MARY
Now Mr Doyle, we’re going to be
making some changes around here.
(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 3.
Joseph gulps.
MARY
Smoking. Drinking.
Joseph visibly wilts.

MARY
They’re fine. But this hair is a
disaster. She touches a lock of his bedraggled hair and pushes it
back.
Joseph’s face lights up. Mary rummages through the presses and finds nothing worth
eating except a tin of spam and spaghetti hoops.
She tuttuts loudly. She’s muttering to herself and flings his coat
at him. He’s befuddled.

JOSEPH
Are we off out?
MARY
We’re going shopping.
Joseph makes for his stick. Mary throws the stick in the corner.

INT. PUB – DAY
Dusty floorboards, smoke marks on ceiling, flock wallpaper,
brass foot rail, wood panelling, brewery merchandise. An
elderly COUPLE ignore each other. The clock ticks. Mary and
Joseph enter. Suddenly the clock stops ticking. The couple
do a double take, looking Mary up and down. The man’s mouth
falls open. His wife abruptly pushes it closed. The BARMAN
hits the clock a whack. It begins to tick again.
Joseph approaches the bar smiling widely. He is suddenly
yanked back by Mary who nods to the other door that
proclaims “groceries” above it. His smile disappears
instantly. He chats to the barman as she enters the shop.
The elderly SHOPKEEPER sits on a stool behind the counter
reading the racing page, he peers over his glasses with
contempt as Mary approaches.

MARY
Good morning, can I have a loaf of
bread and a pint of milk please/
(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 4.
He sighs and dismisses her with a wave. Joseph enters.

SHOPKEEPER (SLOWLY)
/Look, I don’t understand a damn
word you’re saying.

JOSEPH
Seamus, have you lost your hearing?
I’ve only one good ear and I caught
everything.
He slaps a shopping list on the counter.

JOSEPH
You know where to find us.
Joseph takes Mary by the elbow and leads her into the bar.

INT. KITCHEN- DAY
Joseph loaded up with bags of groceries standing at the
presses standing behind Mary who is bent over putting things
away, Joseph looking on hypnotically. He takes a step
towards her but she stands up quickly almost bowling him
over.

JOSEPH
My god that’s a fine piece of
stuff.
Mary turns around, glancing down at her ass.

JOSEPH
That ham hock.
He takes a ham from the bag and holds it up. Mary puts it in
the fridge. She finishes packing away the things and puts on
her coat.

JOSEPH
You’ll stay for a cup of tea.
Mary sees the desperation in his face.
MARY
A quick one.
Mary sits down and waits, Joseph gets up to put on the
kettle, roots in the presses for teabags, stands for a
second to get his bearings. Mary smirks. He opens and closes
cupboards attempting to search discreetly for the teapot. He
gets a mug for himself and takes out a china cup for her.
They share a moment.

5.
EXT. FARM – EARLY EVENING
Bedding plants in boxes, hanging baskets ready and a freshly
dug flower bed. Mary plants flowers and Joseph waters
liberally. He looks younger and more energised and sports a
new haircut. Mary sticks her hand in the ground gashing it
deeply on a piece of glass. She gasps and tries to hide the
fact she’s hurt. Joseph rushes over. He grabs her hand, she
pulls it back. He takes out a handkerchief and dabs the
blood gently. She is touched by his concern. Their eyes
meet. He is about to speak when her mobile rings.

MARY
Ah, sorry, I have to take this.

Joseph picks up the watering can again. Mary hangs up and
comes over to Joseph

JOSEPH
Mary, I…

MARY
I have to go away for a while.
He scuffs a stone with his shoe.

JOSEPH
You’ll be back?
Mary doesn’t look up.

MARY
I have to go.
Joseph nods and Mary walks away.

INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT
Joseph is hunched in the twilight sitting beside the unlit
range looking out.
He gets up and lights the fire.
Goes to the sink to do the washing up, his hands are covered
in suds, he drops the china cup and it shatters.
He tries to pick up the pieces dropping to his hands and
knees, he stays there holding a piece of the cup.

6.
EXT. FARM- DAY
A dishevelled Joseph stands in the yard looking down the
lane into the distance. The hanging baskets and flower bed
are neglected; the hen pecks their remains. He pulls a still
full whiskey from his pocket.

NIECE [O.C]
Joseph! Will you come in out of the
cold.
He stuffs the bottle back in his pocket. He sighs loudly and
slowly, rubs his eyes, turns back towards the house and
shuffles to it using his stick.

INT. KITCHEN- DAY
Joseph nods off in his armchair; jumps with a start as the
hoover growls into life under his feet wielded by the niece
who buzzes around the room.
JOSEPH
Would you ever just leave me alone!
She stamps her foot on the hoover turning it off.
NIECE
Don’t you take that tone with me
Joseph Doyle and all I do for you.
Do you think I enjoy coming over
here being a skivvy for you?
JOSEPH
I never asked you to come over
here; I’m perfectly capable of
looking after myself.
NIECE
You never complained when you had
that woman here, and she wasn’t
worth tuppence. Look at the cut of
the place.
Joseph stands up to his full height.
JOSEPH
That woman has a name. Mary. and
she was more to me than…
He turn his back on her. She storms out. He steadies
himself, takes the bottle from his pocket, is about to open
it then growls and throws it on the sofa. He puts his head
in his hands.

7.
EXT. FARM- DAY
Joseph is bent down pulling at weeds in the flower patch,
mumbling obscenities. A nettle stings his hands and he pulls
it back. He shakes it and it is gently enfolded in a pair of
woman’s hands. He looks up to see Mary smiling broadly.
JOSEPH
Mary.
MARY
What happened to our garden?
Mary wipes the dirt off his slacks, then tries to kiss him
on the cheek. He sticks out his hand for an awkward
handshake, looking at his feet.
JOSEPH
Are you staying around?
MARY
If you need me I can stay.
Joseph hesitates and kicks at the nettles. He doesn’t look
up.
JOSEPH
I do. I do need you.

INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT
The room is bright and tidy. Joseph is neatly dressed, hair
combed, dapper. He is ticking off the deaths. Starts
laughing.

JOSEPH
Higgins hung on to the bitter end.
I thought he’d never go. Sure they
had the hole dug weeks ago.
Mary howls a laugh. She comes up behind him and pours a good
helping of whiskey into a glass, then one for herself. She
sits down next to him. They are both comfortable in each
other’s company.
JOSEPH
Removal’s at seven. If we get down
early the good stuff will still be
there.
Joseph drains his glass and stands up in a flap. He grabs
her coat and helps her into it. Mary rolls her eyes and
buttons up, she tucks in the flap of his shirt.
(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 8.
MARY
Just an hour then.
Joseph rubs his hands in glee. He opens the door and offers
the crook of his arm, she links him down the path.

END