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Soul Searcher: Family Secrets - Page One

Soul Searcher

Family Secrets

by

Tarl N. Telford

page 1

 

FADE IN:

INT BALLROOM - NIGHT

Winter Wonderland Dance.

Escape Club's smash hit, "I'll Be There", flows through the smoky room. Excited teenagers buzz among the balloons and streamers.

ALTHEA COLEMAN (17 yrs), blonde and pretty, walks next to her best friend, HOLLY ANDERSON (17 yrs). Holly flips her light brown hair back over her shoulder, smiling radiantly.

HOLLY

I love this song. C'mon, Althea.

A CHILL stops Althea in her tracks.

ALTHEA

Did you feel that?

HOLLY

Yeah. Somebody probably opened a door.

The song takes on a terrifying new meaning.

SONG

"... I may have died, but I've gone nowhere ..."

A tortured sob from behind freezes Althea's blood.

TORTURED SOB

Help me, please.

Althea's eyes widen in terror.

HOLLY

What's wrong?

Althea slowly turns around.

Two BADLY BURNED PEOPLE reach out to her.

TORTURED SOB

Help.

Althea gasps in fright. She backs away.

ALTHEA

No. Leave me alone.

(screams)

Leave me alone!

They reach out and grab onto Althea's sleeve. Althea pulls away, and her sleeve TEARS.

She SCREAMS.

ALTHEA

Get away from me! Leave me alone!

Her screams quickly become unintelligible. She twists and turns. Her dress rips.

Everyone in the ballroom turns to look at her. Some people reach out to her to try to calm her down, but she's too hysterical. They don't see the Two Burned People.

Holly turns and looks at the POPULAR GIRLS of the school. They shake their heads in contempt. Ashamed, Holly turns her back on Althea and walks away.

Althea's tortured scream echoes in the now silent ballroom.

CUT TO:

INT CAFETERIA - DAY

Six weeks later.

Althea sits alone, picking at her food. An open book sits in front of her. She idly pops grapes into her mouth as she reads.

Althea almost completely tunes out the snickers and rude comments buzzing all around her. She tries, but doesn't quite succeed in ignoring the glaringly empty space all around her.

Holly approaches. She shrugs hopefully.

HOLLY

Hey, Althea.

Without looking up, Althea responds.

ALTHEA

Hey, Holly.

HOLLY

Mind if I sit here?

ALTHEA

Not in any danger of being occupied, is it?

HOLLY

No. Sorry.

ALTHEA

Go ahead.

Holly puts her books down on the table.

HOLLY

What're you reading today?

ALTHEA

Lovecraft.

HOLLY

Oh. Is that like the Love Boat?

Althea's eyes glance up from the page. A faint smile almost makes it to her lips.

ALTHEA

Not quite.

HOLLY

What's it about?

ALTHEA

This guy investigates this creepy house, and turns up something horrible that changes him forever.

HOLLY

Is it good?

Althea closes the book. She puts a CASPER bookmark in to mark her page.

ALTHEA

You won't find it in COSMO. Or on Oprah. But, yes, it's good.

Holly bites her lip nervously.

HOLLY

I just wanted to say I'm sorry for not coming over last night. I ...

Althea waves her hand dismissively, but her eyes reflect some hurt.

ALTHEA

Water under the bridge. I had lots to do anyways.

HOLLY

Really?

ALTHEA

Sure.

HOLLY

Listen, have you figured out what you're going to do for English?

ALTHEA

You mean the research paper?

HOLLY

Yeah.

ALTHEA

I figured I'd copy out of a few encyclopedias and call it good. Maybe hit a kegger or two.

Holly frowns.

HOLLY

That's not funny.

ALTHEA

Just thought you might like company.

HOLLY

No. I'm serious. I want to work with you.

ALTHEA

(sarcastic)

And you'll do your fair share.

HOLLY

Promise. Swear. Pinky swear.

Holly holds out her pinky.

ALTHEA

Okay. How about haunted houses?

HOLLY

No such thing.

ALTHEA

Prove it.

HOLLY

I can't prove it. You prove it.

ALTHEA

Not my report. I'm going to prove they are real.

Holly's eyebrows furrow in confusion.

HOLLY

So what are you going to do?

Althea grins excitedly.

CUT TO:

EXT SCOTTSDALE MANOR - AFTERNOON

Althea points through the iron large gate to the sprawling manor house. The grounds choke with weeds and tangled bushes.

The abandoned house sits up on a low hill. A tall cast-iron fence surrounds the entire grounds.

ALTHEA

That.

HOLLY

That ... what? It's just a house.

ALTHEA

I'm going to stay there this weekend.

Holly stamps her foot.

HOLLY

But there's a party.

ALTHEA

You don't have to be like them. Do what you want to do for once.

Althea's eyes harden as she looks off into the distance.

ALTHEA

Don't let them tell you that loud music, reckless abandon, and boys ...

(pause)

are fun. Be your own person.

HOLLY

I know.

(brightens)

Hey, you could go, too.

A brisk wind picks up around the house, stirring the grass, and whipping the girls' hair around their faces.

ALTHEA

I'm doing this. You can come with me.

(pause, hopeful)

I'd like you to come with me.

Althea looks earnestly at Holly. Holly finally lifts her eyes up to meet Althea's gaze.

ALTHEA

Please.

HOLLY

Oh. Darn. All right. But if I show up with some guy in my back pocket, I'm going to want a little bit of privacy. Deal?

ALTHEA

There's twenty-seven rooms. We're not exactly going to be tripping over each other.

The wind dies suddenly. Althea freezes up. The flesh on the back of her neck crawls.

ALTHEA

(continuing; whispering)

Holly.

HOLLY

Yeah?

ALTHEA

Look up there. Is there a little girl in the window?

HOLLY

Althea.

ALTHEA

Look. Is she looking out at us?

Holly looks up. Squints. Pulls out her glasses. Nothing.

HOLLY

I don't see anything.

Althea straightens up. She pulls her hair back out of her face.

ALTHEA

Probably nothing.

HOLLY

Are you all right? You're not going to freak out on me, are you?

ALTHEA

I'm fine. I'm fine.

Holly turns and looks out over the valley. It's quiet up here. No traffic comes here anymore.

HOLLY

You want to come over for a while?

Althea pulls a small pocketwatch out of her pocket. 4:30.

ALTHEA

Mom should be asleep. I think I'll be fine.

HOLLY

Sure? 'Cause if you want to come over ... we can make super gooey s'mores.

ALTHEA

I really ought to get home. Keep an eye on Jessica.

HOLLY

She can take care of herself. You did. Althea, please. You don't have to go home to that.

Althea climbs into her car and starts it up.

ALTHEA

I'll call you later.

Althea drives away.

HOLLY

Good luck.

Holly gets into her car and drives away, too.

Unseen by either of the girls, halfway down the street, a dark car sits parked. A window rolls down as Holly drives by, and a dark-haired man (in his 40's) follows her with his eyes. Then he looks up to Scottsdale Manor.

CUT TO:

EXT COLEMAN HOME - AFTERNOON

Althea pulls into the drive. She slings her backpack over her shoulder and goes inside.

INT COLEMAN HOME - CONTINUING

Althea closes the door very softly behind her. The TV plays a talk show. Her mother, GENEVA COLEMAN (late 30's), lays sprawled out on the couch. A bottle of liquor sits on the floor next to her.

Althea picks up the bottle and takes it to the kitchen.

INT COLEMAN HOME - KITCHEN - CONTINUING

Althea's sister, JESSICA (12 yrs), dark haired and spunky, sits cross-legged in front of the open refrigerator. She just stares into the fridge.

Althea hands the bottle to Jessica.

ALTHEA

Do something with this.

JESSICA

Hungry?

ALTHEA

What's for dinner?

Jessica sticks the bottle under the sink, behind the garbage can. She gestures to the fridge.

JESSICA

You're looking at it.

ALTHEA

Great. Is the ringer off?

JESSICA

Yeah.

Althea looks into the open fridge.

ALTHEA

What's that?

Jessica pulls out a bowl and sniffs. She wrinkles her nose.

JESSICA

Stir fry.

Althea takes the bowl and smells it.

ALTHEA

Not too bad.

JESSICA

You're not going to eat that, are you?

Althea walks out and sets the bowl on the coffee table by her mom.

ALTHEA

No. But she will. Has Dad called?

JESSICA

Yeah. He's working late again.

ALTHEA

Big surprise.

JESSICA

Want some tater tots?

ALTHEA

Whatever.

Jessica dumps a bunch of tater tots in a bowl and pops them into the microwave.

JESSICA

'Thea?

ALTHEA

Yeah, Jess?

JESSICA

Why'd you come home tonight?

ALTHEA

I wanted to see you. My adorable little sister.

Althea ruffles Jessica's hair.

ALTHEA

I have to keep you out of trouble.

Althea digs in the fridge. She pulls out one remaining beer of a six pack. Holds it up in front of Jessica.

ALTHEA

I don't suppose this was you?

Jessica shakes her head no.

ALTHEA

Great. You got anywhere you can go tonight?

Jessica shrugs.

ALTHEA

I don't think it's a good idea for you to be here when Mom wakes up.

JESSICA

Where're you gonna go?

ALTHEA

I'll stay here.

JESSICA

No.

Althea looks over at the timer on the microwave. As it reaches 1 second, she pops open the door (just before the beep).

JESSICA

Mom gave me twenty bucks.

ALTHEA

Good for you.

She pops a tater tot into her mouth.

JESSICA

I'm up to almost 300 dollars.

ALTHEA

What're you gonna use it for?

Jessica grabs a handful of tater tots. She squirts ketchup on them.

JESSICA

I dunno. Maybe get the new Harry Potter book.

In the living room, their mom ROLLS OVER noisily.

ALTHEA

Call Susie. See if you can over there tonight.

JESSICA

All right. But this is the third time this week.

ALTHEA

I'll let you stay at Annie's house this weekend.

JESSICA

I'm supposed to baby-sit Tyler on Saturday.

ALTHEA

Fine. Do whatever you want. Just be gone tonight.

Jessica loads up a plate with tater tots.

JESSICA

What're you doing this weekend?

ALTHEA

Homework.

JESSICA

On spring break?

ALTHEA

Yeah. Got a problem with it?

JESSICA

Yeah. You should get a boyfriend.

Althea gets a bowl of tater tots for herself.

ALTHEA

Boys are overrated.

Jessica takes the phone and goes up to her room.

Althea walks up the stairs to her room.

INT COLEMAN HOME - ALTHEA'S ROOM - CONTINUING

She flips on the light. A blue light shines down from the ceiling. Pictures of dark fantasy adorn the walls. On the back of her door is a framed movie poster for "GHOST". MC Escher artwork hangs pinned to her closet door.

In stark contrast to this darkness, a small framed picture of JESUS CHRIST sits on her nightstand next to her bed.

Althea sits down on the floor. She pulls a sketch book from underneath her bed, out from under a stack of ART magazines.

She flips through the sketch book, seeing pictures of disfigured people, scary people, dead people - ghosts. Above each picture hangs a title. The final picture says, WINTER WONDERLAND, with two hideously burned people reaching out toward her.

ALTHEA

I wish you would all just go to hell. Leave me alone.

She flips the page and sketches out a rough drawing of Scottsdale Manor. A girl stares out from the attic window.

ALTHEA

Little Girl in window.

The bedroom door OPENS.

Althea snaps the sketchbook shut and grabs an art magazine.

Jessica sticks her head in.

ALTHEA

Knock!

JESSICA

Sorry. Susie'll be here in twenty minutes.

ALTHEA

Fine.

JESSICA

Can I borrow your black jeans?

ALTHEA

No. I don't want any more rips in them.

JESSICA

Please. I promise I won't rip 'em.

ALTHEA

No. I've only got four pairs now.

Jessica slips into the room. She closes the door behind her.

JESSICA

I won't bug you for all of spring break. I won't even make fun of you not having a boyfriend.

Althea puts down the magazine with the sketchbook underneath it and slips them both under the bed.

JESSICA

Please.

Jessica's eyes search the room.

ALTHEA

Fine.

JESSICA

Where are they?

Jessica starts across the room, looking for the jeans.

ALTHEA

Hey. I'll get them.

Althea gets up and goes into the closet. Jessica sees a light green shirt on the floor and grabs it. She wanders around the room aimlessly.

JESSICA

How about this? Can I borrow this, too?

Jessica's eyes keep searching. Althea turns out of the closet and sees the shirt.

ALTHEA

No. Where did I put those?

She rummages down in the bottom of the closet.

Jessica spots the object of her search. Beneath a stack of books, beneath several open sketchbooks, lies Althea's DIARY.

Jessica snatches the Diary and tucks it under her shirt. She accidentally knocks over a sketch pad.

ALTHEA

What do you think you're doing?

JESSICA

Nothing. I was just looking at this ...

(furrows her eyebrows)

Is that somebody's butt?

Althea snaps the sketchbook closed.

ALTHEA

It's a rock. Here are the jeans.

Jessica grabs the jeans and starts out the door. But Althea holds on to one of the legs, and pulls Jessica back into the room.

ALTHEA

Give it.

JESSICA

What?

ALTHEA

You know what.

Althea holds out her hand. Jessica reluctantly hands back the Diary.

ALTHEA

Now get.

Althea closes the door behind her sister. She puts the Diary in her sock drawer, buried underneath everything.

Althea climbs into her bed and stares sadly at her ceiling. The plastic stars hold no more twinkle for her anymore. She sighs and rolls over, closing her eyes.

CUT TO:

 

 

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