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October 26, 2006

Filed under: fiction»screenplay

Feast of Famine

After writing in that last post about the screenplay that I scribbled out in between Forensics tournaments in college, I went back and read it again, which is always an interesting experience. It's about four college students trying to stop the four horsemen of the apocalypse in a small town--not terribly original or clever. But there are a few bits that I always liked, and one of them was this exchange between Famine and one of the protagonists.

Zach and Famine stare off the porch at the sky ahead, watching as a flock 
of geese fly by. 

	FAMINE
I will have to remember that.

	ZACH
Something for your new world?

	FAMINE
Lots to think about. What to keep, 
what to make different.

	ZACH
I hate I won't be there to see it.

	FAMINE
Maybe you will. Who knows how these 
things work?

	ZACH
Don't you?

	FAMINE
No. Not really. As much as I hate 
to admit it, I probably live in a 
world of much less certainty than 
you do. Think about it: all your 
life you've been taught that the 
laws of physics cannot be broken, 
that monsters and boogie men do not 
exist, that everything is well-
reasoned and rational. Your world 
makes sense. Whereas for us, you 
never know what could happen next.

	ZACH
Sounds exciting.

	FAMINE
It's exhausting. We're tired, all 
four of us. We were created to do 
one thing, and yet for millenia had 
to hold off, wait until we got the 
go-ahead. No matter how much fun 
we've had with our hobbies over the 
years, the real point has always 
been the big event, Apocalypse. 
Now, even if it doesn't work, we 
finally get to do what we do best.

There's a pause as the geese fly completely out of sight, just dots on the 
horizon and then gone. 

	ZACH
So you guys just decided one day, 
hey, why not take over the world? 

	FAMINE
Funny you should say that. 

	ZACH
You're kidding me.

	FAMINE
Hey, we figured we were on a roll. 
People die from famine today, no 
matter what Sally Struthers says. 
And the best part is how Americans  
pretend it doesn't happen. 
Pestilence has diversified into 
pollution, so he's happy as a clam. 
Owns a stock of shares in several 
major oil companies, last time we 
checked. War is in a period of 
steady growth, especially with 
escalating international tension, 
and Death is always a popular 
commodity. All in all, why not 
strike while we're strong? 

	ZACH
I guess I can't argue with that 
logic. Look, how the hell are you 
going to kill me anyway? What are 
you going to do, starve me to 
death? Make me anorexic? Blacklist 
me at Food Lion?

	FAMINE
I prefer something a little more 
subtle. 

He leans forward, and the darkness around him, on his suit, in the 
crevices of his skinny grin, seems to crawl.

	FAMINE
I'm going to eat you, Zach. I'm 
going to swallow you up and digest 
on you for a little while, because 
I'm a very hungry guy and you look 
like someone with some substance to 
you. 

Zach backs away, horrified. Famine grins even wider.

	FAMINE
You'd probably like to think that I 
mean this in a metaphysical sense, 
Zach. I know you like to pretend 
that you're a big-time philosophy 
major with important ideas. So you 
might like to think that this is 
just some nihilistic kick of mine, 
something to scare you. And you 
might be right. 

Famine sits back enough that he can comfortably reach into his jacket, 
pulling out a gingerbread man. Its icing gives it a look uncannily like Zach 
himself. He flourishes it.

	FAMINE
But you might be wrong. 

He looks down at the cookie. Holds it up and squints at it, as if 
comparing its likeness with the inspiration. Then he smiles tightly and 
offers it.

	FAMINE
Care for a bite?

As if dazed, Zach reaches for the cookie, takes it, and holds it in his 
hands. Slowly, he brings it to his mouth and takes off a leg.

	FAMINE
This isn't going to kill you, Zach. 
Not right away. It's just going to 
take you out of the action for a 
little while. Long enough for my 
comrades to remove your friends 
from the picture more permanently. 
When you resurface, you're going to 
have to face the fact that when 
those you really care about needed 
you, you were right here on your 
front porch, not lifting a single 
finger. 

As he eats, Zach gets more and more tired, more and more sleepy.

	FAMINE
It's not about starvation, Zach. 
Never really was. If you do your 
research, the third horseman stands 
for much more that that. I am 
unfairness. I am inequality. I am 
inaction.

Zach pauses, only the head of the cookie-Zach remaining. Famine takes it 
from his limp fingers, places it in his mouth. Zach tries to follow the 
movement with his eyes, but he's too far gone.

	FAMINE
Bon apetit.

He closes Zach's mouth around the cookie.

Blur, and fade to black.

September 26, 2005

Filed under: fiction»screenplay

Baby Teeth

In order to move the previous self-promoting post down the page, I now submit the following script, which I wrote about a year ago after watching Darkness Falls. The movie was so bad, and so ruined its premise of the Tooth Fairy gone bad, that I decided to redo the first scene my way. I called the result "Baby Teeth."

BEGINNING CREDITS--A NIN-STYLE MONTAGE OF TEETH AND PICTURES OF TEETH, SURROUNDED BY MONEY AND SMEARS OF DARK LIQUID

SCENE - ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YARD - DAY

The kids are at recess. A number of them, six or seven, have gathered by the slide, which is not much used, because these are fifth graders and they are getting a little big for it.

As the camera moves closer, we see that the group arranged in a semicircle, focusing on one girl with bright red hair and a deadly serious expression. One of her eyes is just enough off center to make her gaze difficult to meet. Finally, the camera drops level with her head--we are now one of the kids hanging on her every word.

GIRL WITH RED HAIR
I know why Edward's not here today. I heard that yesterday, he lost a tooth. And last night he put it under his pillow.

BOY #1
So what? The tooth fairy came and took it?

GIRL WITH RED HAIR
No. She came and took him.

BOY #1
That's stupid, Melanie.

GIRL WITH RED HAIR (MELANIE)
(ignoring the comment) My mom says the Tooth Fairy used to leave money when you lost a tooth, but then she ran out or something. Now she leaves the teeth, but she takes you.

GIRL #2
What does she do with all the kids?

MELANIE
(conspiratorial) No-one knows. But Mom says that when she takes a kid, the rest of the family has extra-good luck for as long as he would have lived. It's still a trade. It's just... Bigger now.

BOY #2
Whatever, Melanie. My dad says your mom's just a hippy anyway.

He punches another boy on the sleeve and runs, taking most of the group with him. Melanie stays by the slide, watching them with her off-center eyes. As one of the boys runs by the swings, he trips on a loose patch of gravel and face-plants. We get a close-up view as he lifts his head, an expression of shock on his face. He looks down. A single tooth lies between his hands, and a shadow falls over him. It's one of the teachers supervising recess.

TEACHER
Oops! Guess you'd better put that under your pillow now, Robert!

The blood drains from Robert's face. He gets up, cradling the tooth and stares up at her.

ROBERT
Mrs. Humphrey, could the Tooth Fairy run out of money?

TEACHER
(laughs) Only if she worked for this school in the Bush economy. (Robert clearly doesn't get it) Never mind. Run on inside and get the nurse to wrap that up for you.

SCENE - ROBERT'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Robert climbs into bed, looking very small compared to the room. His parents say their goodnights and hit the light switch, leaving the room only half-lit. The room is a mess of dark shapes against the white wallpaper. Against the wall opposite the door is a giant toybox, not a solid cube, but made of sturdy wooden rods. It is half-full of stuffed animals. Robert rolls over, clearly trying to force himself to sleep. One hand reaches under the pillow, Robert stiffens, and the hand re-emerges with a single tooth in it. He stares at it, then closes it tightly in a fist and clenches his eyes shut. We pan upwards, first looking barely over the boy's head, and watch the door swing silently shut. As we continue upward, we gradually reveal a dark, hunched figure standing in front of the doorway.

The shape begins to move forward. We can't see much--it's scarier that way. We can hear something soft and almost insectile, but the outline of the shape flutters and moves, as if loose cloth is draped over it. Robert's eyes flash open. He bolts upright and SCREAMS as he catches sight of the thing. Reflexively, his hand flies open, launching the tooth across the room. The shape moves, as if following its trajectory, and launches itself after the tooth. Robert leaps in the opposite direction, a quick close-up flashing his panicked eyes to the camera as he searches for refuge.

There! The toybox! Robert flings open the top, which has a strap running through the bars for a handle, and crawls inside, pulling the lid shut over top of himself. He clings desparately to the strap.

BAM! The dark figure drops in front of him. It is only slightly bigger than he is, and we can see its shapeless form a little more clearly now, but it only confirms that whatever moves under the torn and tattered shroud is not remotely human. It sniffs at the bars of the toybox. One claw is extended, and in a mocking gesture taps on the lid. Robert shakes his head.

ROBERT
(hoarse whisper) No...

The shape cocks its head, and a stray beam of light falls across the lower part of what should be a face. The surface is mottled, grimy, and slick, but then it cracks and we see--with growing horror--that the thing is SMILING. Its smile has far too many teeth, some new and some decaying, but clearly they are all different, as if from different mouths. Prominently displayed in front is Robert's lost tooth, now wedged into the maw.

The shape taps the lid again, then turns and vanishes in another swift leap. There is a pause, and the camera moves in on Robert as he tries to sink into the toybox. In the background, we hear that odd insectile movement, a door opening, and the mixed screams of a man and a woman in horrible pain. The door slams, but the screams continue. We pull in on Robert as he pulls his eyes tightly closed, choking off the sobs that are coating his cheeks in tears. Finally, the screams end, and a low, inhuman chuckle rings through the house.

FADE TO BLACK

Future - Present - Past