Healthy Living Slasher Dream Squashtacular!

Lots of goodness to report this week. First, I report on the latest Kickstarter happenings in the Geek Haven Halloween Squashtacular, courtesy of NerdSpan.com. Pretty Princesses, autoscaling guns and a new Rebuild, oh my!

If there’s one demographic that knows how to get into the spirit of Halloween, it’s gamers. Every year during the month of October, there’s at least one spooky little gaming treat to get us all into the mood. In 2010 it was Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare; in 2011, we got Infamous: Festival of Blood; 2012 gave us Hotline Miami (hey, at least it has masks); and 2013′s big Halloween release is…Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag? Well, I suppose there’s a skull and crossbones. At least in the Geek Haven, there are plenty of witches, alien abduction, zombies and games of dress-up to look forward to…as well as some games that, if they aren’t quite in the spirit of the season, are no less deserving of your attention because of it.

Next up, we bring you breaking news from the Reality(tm) front. The Reality Institute, curated by Reality(tm) connoisseur Michael Molitch-Hou, has uncovered a slimming new slice of the real with The Healthy Imperative. What happens when a BodyConscious mother gets fed up with all the outdated mores of American society, with its laws and CPS agents? Find out in this extended rant/blog post discovered exclusively by yours truly, Byron Alexander Campbell.

It was supposed to be the year of healthy living.

I know that as soon as I post this update, I’m going to get roughly 7 million responses from my BodyWatch Inner Circle (luv ya!) saying, “LaJoindRa, you make that same resolution EVERY NEW YEARS EVE!!!!”! Lol, I know! ;) [j/k, I luv u guys] But you know what, this year was going to be really special. ❤ Lol, it’s so depressing and disappointing I don’t even want to talk about it. :”’( But I know some of you guys (u kno who u are!!) love a good BackSliding story. Can’t disappoint my loyal fans. ;p

Now if you’re reading this, you’re in my Inner Circle [can’t let the plebs see me in a moment of weakness loljk], so you know I’ve always been a BodyConscious person. It started when I was 12 years old and my Daddy took me to get my first vag-plasty. I wasn’t naive enough that I didn’t know what it was for (thanks, Mom xxxooo), but I guess I never thought about needing to get it done myself, even though I’d sat in for Mom’s rejuves once or twice by that age. But then again, she’d had me! [lol ;p] Any vag would need a little refreshment after that. You only need to look at my ankle molding pics to guess that, even as a girl, that girl [me ;) ] got legs!!!!!!!

In case you missed it, all 5 acts of my high school-era horror screenplay, Dark Ascension, are up as of earlier this morning. Read the entire thing in one sitting…if you’re brave enough. Few men (or women) can handle THIS MUCH overt symbolism.

And finally, I leave you with this wonderful piece of microfiction from Heather Campbell, titled “Slasher Dream”:

I had a dream that the killer was inside the house, so we had to live in the garage.


Dark Ascension (Act V)

FADE IN:

INT. HOUSE – DAY

Lupin, Bijou, and Echo stand again in the secret room, before the mural. The candles still burn at its base like an altar.

ECHO
What makes you think he’ll come back here?

LUPIN
This is where he wanted us to find him. Look at that. He wanted us to know he was here. He wanted us to know that none of this was an accident, that he was responsible for it all. He seems to be utterly without guilt. I know it’s sick, but in a way it’s alluring. Can you imagine what it would be like to be able to obey all your primal drives without a second thought? He’s found more freedom in this prison than any of us thought possible. Even the freedom to evaporate into the darkness. How could something like that be killed? Something that can attack brutally then leave us frightened and alone at a whim?

Lupin stares at the mural.

ECHO
Death comes for everyone eventually. It’s only a matter of outliving him.

BIJOU
Are you sure we should be looking for this thing?

ECHO
If we’re running away, he already has the advantage. The only way we’re going to survive this is if we turn the tables.

Echo looks at Lupin.

ECHO
We can still hope he doesn’t show up, though.

LUPIN
This looks so familiar.

BIJOU
It was there last time we were here.

LUPIN
No, more familiar than that. It’s like I’ve seen it in motion.

Lupin runs his hand along the mural. It flakes off where he touches it.

LUPIN
Bound him a thousand years.

Lupin grabs Bijou’s arm tightly.

BIJOU
Ouch.

Lupin silences her. Echo and Bijou look around, but hear nothing.

LUPIN
Bound him a thousand years. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.

BIJOU
That’s Revelation.

LUPIN
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Lupin traces the grey tendrils on the mural with his finger.

LUPIN
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.

BIJOU
You memorised this?

Lupin stares directly into Echo’s eyes. His gaze is empty but alert.

LUPIN
And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Echo grabs Bijou’s wrist and they back away. Lupin turns around, back-lit by the candles with the mural behind him. The wings of the dragon seem to extend from his own shoulders.

LUPIN
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed.

BIJOU
Lupin, you’re scaring me.

Lupin smiles.

LUPIN
And all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast.

Lupin lunges forward and grabs Bijou by the wrists. He leans in until his face is inches from hers.

LUPIN
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand.

BIJOU
Lupin, what are you doing?

Echo slams into Lupin from the side, forcing him down. She aims her gun at his head. Bijou grabs Echo’s arm.

BIJOU
Don’t shoot him!

Lupin scurries into the darkness.

ECHO
You let him get away.

BIJOU
You were going to kill him!

ECHO
He was going to kill us.

BIJOU
What’s going on?

ECHO
Has he shown you his leg?

BIJOU
No. What’s happening?

ECHO
Ask him to show you his leg.

Echo walks away into the darkness. Bijou stands there a second, then hurries after her.

CUT TO:

Bijou and Echo creep through the house. Echo holds Bijou’s flashlight and her own right wrist with her left hand, and her gun in her right.

BIJOU
Why do you need to carry a gun? He wouldn’t hurt us.

ECHO
You don’t know what he would do. And it’s for his own protection.

Bijou and Echo come to a room with two exits.

BIJOU
Where do we go from here?

ECHO
We split up. Do you want left or right?

BIJOU
I don’t know.

ECHO
Choose carefully.

Bijou starts toward a doorway. Echo grabs her shoulder and hands over her flashlight.

ECHO
Do you want him to live through this?

BIJOU
Yes.

ECHO
Then you had better find him before I do.

Echo walks into the darkness, her gun held out in front of her. Bijou proceeds slowly and carefully. Her breathing grows quick and heavy. She spins around, but there is nothing behind her. She starts forward again, and makes it through the doorway. The three other walls are bare. She turns around and begins to walk through the doorway. She stops and listens, but can hear nothing but her own breath. She gulps her air in fear, holds her breath and listens again. The breathing continues. She begins to whimper, but does not move.

BIJOU
Lupin?

A voice rises from the darkness behind her.

LUPIN
Lupin is gone. He has bled into his own bowl. Now, all is darkness. But you carry the light.

Bijou turns around slowly and shines the light on Lupin, who is crouched in the middle of the floor. He lunges at her. She drops to the ground and begins to scrabble away. Finding herself unable to move, she shines the light behind her. Lupin is holding her firmly by the ankle.

BIJOU
Lupin, please let me go.

Lupin releases Bijou’s ankle, but she does not move. He crawls forward until he is on top of her.

LUPIN
It’s too late to let go. He’s got me and he’s squeezing so hard, like an orange. He wants to fill me with pulp. And you.

Lupin slams his fist on the ground next to Bijou’s head. She cringes and whimpers.

LUPIN
Why are you doing this? You don’t understand. I have to protect myself, no matter what I do. It’s you.

Lupin runs his fingernails slowly along Bijou’s cheek. She winces in pain.

LUPIN
It’s you, Bijou.

Lupin stops, and his eyes unfocus.

LUPIN
It’s you. Bijou. It’s you. Bijou. It’s you.

Lupin strikes Bijou hard in the head. She begins to bleed from her ear.

BIJOU
Lupin, what’s going on?

LUPIN
Tell me.

Bijou is silent.

LUPIN
Why won’t you help me?

Lupin grabs Bijou by the shoulders and shakes her violently.

BIJOU
Lupin…show me your leg.

Lupin jumps from Bijou and runs into the darkness. Bijou struggles to her feet and follows him. He is crouched in the corner. Bijou advances toward him carefully.

BIJOU
I might know how to help you after I’ve seen your leg.

Lupin rolls his pant leg up slowly. On his thigh is a severely infected bite mark.

LUPIN
What do I do?

BIJOU
Lupin, we need to get you outside. A doctor needs to see you.

LUPIN
Nobody can see me. My shame.

BIJOU
Lupin, you need a doctor. I want to save you. I love you, remember?

LUPIN
Nobody can save me. I’ve received the mark of the beast.

BIJOU
No. No. No, Lupin. No, you’re just sick. You’re very sick. That dog was sick, and now you’re sick. Do you understand?

LUPIN
Nobody understands. I just need to protect myself.

Bijou extends a hand and takes another step toward Lupin.

BIJOU
If Echo sees you, she’ll shoot you. You need to trust me.

LUPIN
Never corner a rattlesnake.

Lupin pounces forward, knocking Bijou to the ground. He scurries away as she struggles to stand. She rises on one arm, clutching at her head, then collapses to the ground. Finally she stands and begins moving forward. As she gets to the doorway, Echo steps in front of it, her gun pointed at Bijou.

ECHO
He went through here, didn’t he?

BIJOU
We have to get him help.

ECHO
There’s no help for him.

BIJOU
Let me through.

Bijou pushes past Echo.

ECHO
You do realise that you’re only leaving him for me to take care of.

Bijou turns around.

BIJOU
Give me the gun.

ECHO
Why would I do that?

BIJOU
I don’t want to hurt him unless we have to.

ECHO
It’s too late for that. You should have figured it out earlier.

BIJOU
You knew? Why didn’t you tell me?

ECHO
I got what I needed from him. It makes no difference to me what happens after that.

Bijou notices Lupin crawling toward Echo’s back.

BIJOU
Give me the gun.

ECHO
What do I have to gain from that?

BIJOU
I have some very pertinent information for you.

ECHO
I don’t think so.

BIJOU
It’s your choice.

Bijou takes a step backward. Lupin slams into Echo, knocking her to the ground and sending the gun flying from her hand. Bijou grabs it and runs as Echo struggles.

CUT TO:

Bijou searches frantically through Lupin’s backpack in Echo’s room. Although a candle burns near the bag, she still holds the flashlight. She finds a phone, grabs it, and dials 911. She holds it to her ear, looks puzzled, then dials again. She presses several buttons with no reaction. She hears a bleak laugh behind her. She turns and points her flashlight at the doorway. Echo stands in torn clothing, a deep scratch across her forehead.

ECHO
You took my gun. I took your batteries. It seems a fair trade, doesn’t it?

BIJOU
What did you do that for? That’s just endangering all of us.

ECHO
Nobody is entering this house. Is that clear?

BIJOU
There’s nothing on all sides. How am I supposed to get him to a doctor in time?

ECHO
That’s your problem. I have my own.

BIJOU
What is wrong with you?

ECHO
I told you. I just don’t like to explain myself.

Echo begins down the hall.

BIJOU
I have your gun. How are you going to protect yourself?

ECHO
I know all of the secrets in this house. He won’t find me.

BIJOU
What am I supposed to do?

ECHO
That’s another of your problems, isn’t it?

Echo walks away. Bijou sits in the middle of the floor, the dead phone in one hand and the flashlight in the other. She looks from one to the other in total panic. She hears breathing, and shines the light on the doorway again. Lupin stands, supporting himself with the doorframe, panting heavily.

BIJOU
Lupin?

Lupin rolls his head toward Bijou. He looks at her emptily.

BIJOU
Lupin, I can’t call anyone. I can’t get anyone here. You’re going to need to come outside with me and we can try to walk you to a payphone. Then we can get you some help.

LUPIN
No help.

BIJOU
Lupin, I can’t let you die after everything we’ve been through.

LUPIN
No help!

With a snarl, Lupin throws himself forward. He lands on the ground in front of Bijou, face down, but flips over and looks up at her. He grabs the flashlight from her startled hand. She reaches for it, and he snaps at her hand. She recoils.

LUPIN
If I bite you, you die. Right?

Lupin shoots to his feet and stands shakily.

LUPIN
My blood is venom. My blood is quicksilver.

Bijou backs away on her elbows.

LUPIN
Isn’t this the way of things? Isn’t this the flow of everything, in my veins?

BIJOU
We can get you help. You need to come with me.

LUPIN
I need to come with you. Okay.

Bijou stands and walks toward Lupin.

LUPIN
Or you could come with me. We could go together. That way, we wouldn’t need to leave the house.

Bijou puts her arm around Lupin’s waist.

BIJOU
No, Lupin, we need to leave. You need to trust me.

Lupin throws Bijou to the ground.

LUPIN
What if I don’t want to leave? There aren’t places like this outside of this place. This is where we need to be right now.

BIJOU
No, Lupin.

Lupin crouches over Bijou.

LUPIN
Be here with me, Bijou. Be here with me.

Lupin swings the flashlight erratically. Bijou dodges and crawls away.

BIJOU
I have a gun. The only one you’re hurting is yourself.

Bijou digs frantically through Lupin’s backpack.

LUPIN
Maybe I want to hurt myself.

Bijou pulls the gun from the backpack and points it shakily at Lupin.

BIJOU
I don’t want anything to happen to you, Lupin. I still have so many things to say to you that I haven’t been able to say yet.

Lupin staggers forward and grabs the gun from Bijou’s hand. He holds it from the barrel, like a small club. Then he looks down at himself.

LUPIN
You shot me?

BIJOU
No. I’m sorry. I couldn’t.

LUPIN
There’s blood coming through me.

BIJOU
Maybe you excited the wound. I’m not a doctor, Lupin. I don’t know anything about this. We need to get you a doctor.

LUPIN
Why do you keep talking?

Lupin throws the gun angrily at the wall.

LUPIN
You’re sawing at my skull.

BIJOU
I’m sorry. I didn’t know.

Lupin shakes his head.

LUPIN
It’s no good. We forgot all the time. I’m going now.

Lupin turns and walks toward the door. Bijou stands and hurries toward him. As she touches his back, he throws himself on her, knocking both of them to the ground.

LUPIN
Come with me.

Lupin struggles to his knees and holds the flashlight above his head.

BIJOU
No! Please. No. I can’t think of anything else to say, but please, Lupin. Don’t. Please.

Lupin turns away with a snarl and stands. Bijou begins to stand but freezes and Lupin turns once again toward her.

LUPIN
I can’t think either.

Lupin raises the flashlight above his head and swings it toward Bijou. It falls from his hand midway through the swing, hitting the ground about a foot from Bijou’s head. He collapses to the ground, then rises to one knee, struggling to breathe. He raises his head and looks at Bijou, smiling feebly. He speaks in a strangled whisper.

LUPIN
As soon as we get out of here…we’ll be off to a better life.

Lupin coughs hoarsely, then wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. Bijou does not move, but her eyes are uncertain. He coughs again, paws at his throat, then falls backward, still coughing. After struggling for several seconds, he is still.

BIJOU
Lupin? Where did you go?

Bijou hurries toward Lupin. His eyes are closed, and a thick line of drool runs down his cheek. She places her hand on his forehead, then strokes his hair. Suddenly, he explodes in a fit of epileptic tremors. He is still again. Bijou stares at him suspiciously.

CUT TO:

The sheet is flung back, revealing the corpse of the dog. Bijou lays Lupin down delicately next to it, then covers them both with the sheet. She grabs the candle that burns by her feet and uses it to light a circle of candles that surround the sheet. When she has finished, she places the candle at their feet, completing the circle. She then steps back and kneels by it, her lips moving silently. Finally, she looks up. Echo stands in the doorway.

BIJOU
I’m surprised to see you here.

ECHO
Do you want me to leave?

BIJOU
Do you have something to say?

Echo walks over and puts her arm around Bijou’s shoulder.

ECHO
I’m sorry.

BIJOU
That isn’t the most original thing to say.

ECHO
I know. But it isn’t something I say very often.

BIJOU
Are you apologising to me or to him?

ECHO
I don’t know. Do I have to choose?

BIJOU
I’ll never understand you.

ECHO
I don’t expect you to.

BIJOU
I can’t forgive you if I can’t understand you. You realise that?

ECHO
Yes. I’m still sorry.

Bijou and Echo look at the sheet.

ECHO
Do you know everything?

BIJOU
I have some ideas.

ECHO
It gets to your brain. He didn’t know what he was doing.

BIJOU
You did.

ECHO
I ruined my life a long time ago. There’s no way to fix it now. I did the only thing I could think of.

BIJOU
It still won’t be your life.

ECHO
I know. But it’s the only one that will let me in anymore.

Bijou turns to Echo angrily.

BIJOU
What are you going to do about food?

ECHO
We’ll get by.

BIJOU
I don’t think you realise what you have in there. Even if you could get food, any life needs some light.

ECHO
I have nowhere to go out there.

BIJOU
Turn yourself in.

ECHO
I can’t. They’ll take it away from me. Then I’ll be completely worthless.

BIJOU
Then come with me. Lupin and I still have a new life coming to us. I can’t live it alone.

ECHO
You said yourself you can’t forgive me.

BIJOU
I’ll figure it out. Trust me.

ECHO
I’ve never trusted anyone before.

BIJOU
There’s your first problem. Come on.

Bijou stands and extends a hand. Echo takes it and follows her into the darkness. The door opens, and sunlight cuts sharply into the room, silhouetting Bijou and Echo. They squint as the sunlight illuminates their faces and clothing brightly, and they close the door

FADE OUT

FIN


Dark Ascension (Act IV)

FADE IN:

INT. HOUSE – NIGHT

Echo reads by the light of the circle of candles in the den. Bijou approaches cautiously.

BIJOU
Have you seen Lupin?

ECHO
Why do you always ask me that?

BIJOU
I haven’t been able to find him all morning.

ECHO
I just got here. I haven’t seen him.

Bijou looks back over her shoulder.

BIJOU
It’s dangerous for him to be sneaking around all by himself.

ECHO
Sit down.

Bijou sits.

BIJOU
What are you reading?

ECHO
Old Yeller. Have you read it?

BIJOU
No.

ECHO
I can barely read it anymore. The pages always get wet and stick together.

BIJOU
Echo? What did you mean when you said that Lupin knew?

Echo freezes and puts her finger to her lips. Bijou reaches for her flashlight. Echo shakes her head and whispers.

ECHO
He’s here.

Bijou and Echo sit stock still, listening to the shallow breathing. Their eyes search the room, unable to locate the source of the sound. Echo raises her eyebrows at Bijou and nods minutely. Bijou turns slowly around. A black figure stands above her. She shrieks and falls backward, knocking over one of the candles. It catches fire to the book. The black figure steps forward as Bijou hits at it ineffectually. It stomps the fire out, then crouches down, produces a black rag, and wipes its face, revealing itself to be Lupin.

LUPIN
Bijou, it’s only me. It’s me.

BIJOU
You had no right to scare me like that.

LUPIN
I was just cleaning out the chimney. We can light a fire now. Won’t that make everything seem better?

BIJOU
You were cleaning the chimney?

LUPIN
That’s what I said.

BIJOU
What about the picture? What about the message?

LUPIN
What?

BIJOU
It’s dangerous.

LUPIN
I don’t believe in things I don’t know.

BIJOU
From now on we’re staying together. Okay? I don’t want you to get hurt.

ECHO
Last time I checked that chimney was full of spiders.

LUPIN
I took care of those. They’re in that jar next to the fireplace.

ECHO
What jar?

LUPIN
What?

Lupin looks. The area around the fireplace is empty.

LUPIN
I put it right there.

ECHO
Well, it isn’t there now.

BIJOU
Lupin, I’m terrified of spiders.

LUPIN
It should be okay. Wherever they are, they’re contained.

BIJOU
What if they aren’t? What if something took them? Who knows where they’ll end up?

Bijou shrinks into a fearful ball.

ECHO
Aren’t you glad we can light a fire now?

LUPIN
I didn’t know this was going to happen. I swear. I thought I was doing something good.

ECHO
Well, we don’t always know what we’re doing.

Echo picks up the charred book, opens it, and throws it over her shoulder.

CUT TO:

A fire blazes in the fireplace. Around it sit Lupin, Bijou, and Echo.

BIJOU
This is more light than I’ve seen in almost a week.

LUPIN
I thought we all deserved a chance to go home for a few hours.

ECHO
This is my home.

BIJOU
How long have you been here?

ECHO
I don’t know. Night and day here are what you make them.

BIJOU
What are you so afraid of out there?

Echo shakes her head and stares into the fire.

ECHO
I’m not afraid. If I was afraid, I would have given up before I got here. I’m just…sure. I’m sure of what is going to happen to me when I leave. I’m sure of my past. I’m sure of what I did, and what I would do again if I had to. I’m sure that the world out there isn’t one I’m meant to live in. What I did and what I know is my personal property, like my food and my book.

BIJOU
What else is your personal property?

ECHO
One thing. One tiny thing. It barely exists yet, but it is everything I treasure and everything I desire. It is all that is left of me that has any chance in this world.

Echo turns to Lupin.

ECHO
Thank you.

LUPIN
We’ve had this conversation before.

BIJOU
I’m lost.

LUPIN
All of this has been said before. Was it yesterday? Or was it the day before? None of the days exist. Was it a dream? Or is this a dream?

BIJOU
Lupin, what are you talking about?

LUPIN
Maybe this is reality and everything out there is a dream. You.

Lupin points shakily to Bijou.

LUPIN
You’re a dream.

BIJOU
What’s going on?

ECHO
The fever’s swallowed him again. You need to get him into bed.

Lupin looks at Echo.

LUPIN
Or are you the dream? Or am I the dream? Is this one?

Lupin closes his right eye.

LUPIN
Or is this one?

Lupin closes his left eye and opens his right. Bijou stands and takes Lupin’s arm.

BIJOU
You’ll feel better after you’ve slept.

Lupin pulls free from her hand and begins crawling backward into the darkness.

LUPIN
I’ve slept. I’ve slept the world. I’ve slipped into time like it was nothing.

Lupin pauses at the edge of the light and looks up at Bijou pleadingly.

LUPIN
I’m slipping, Bijou. Catch me.

Lupin dashes from a crouch into the darkness. Bijou reaches into her pocket and feels nothing. She pats her other pocket anxiously. Then, she notices a flashlight laying on the ground on the edge of the light and runs for it. As she leans down to pick it up, she hears shallow breathing from somewhere in the darkness. She snatches up the flashlight, flips it on, and shines it around the darkened room. It is empty. She runs forward. Echo walks nonchalantly in the direction opposite of Lupin and Bijou. Meanwhile, Bijou is dashing through doors. She enters a room and spins around, unsure if she has been moving forward or retracing her steps. She sees something move quickly across the circle of flashlight light and dashes toward it. It can’t be seen in the next room, but she continues in the direction that it was moving. Suddenly, her foot catches a white lump and she falls forward. The flashlight spins across the floor but does not go out. As it comes to a stop, it aims directly toward her. She looks back to see what she has tripped on and finds that she has uncovered the dead dog. Fighting back nausea, she scrambles forward and reaches for the light. Suddenly, a hand reaches down and snatches it. It shines the light directly in her eyes.

BIJOU
Lupin?

The flashlight bearer aims the beam upward, revealing herself to be Echo.

ECHO
He’s right there.

She shines the beam on the floor beside her. Lupin has collapsed on the ground, eyes closed and panting.

CUT TO:

Bijou lays Lupin gingerly onto the sleeping bag. His hair is matted and his face is heavy with perspiration. A candle burns on either side of his head. He opens his eyes.

LUPIN
Bijou?

Bijou pats Lupin’s face with the black rag, somewhat cleaned.

BIJOU
I’m here with you, Lupin.

LUPIN
Don’t.

BIJOU
Don’t what?

LUPIN
You don’t need to take care of me. Not with this…whatever it is running around.

BIJOU
No. I’m going to make sure you get through this.

LUPIN
You’re in danger.

BIJOU
So are you. You’re sick. You’re more sick than I’ve seen you. Now you need to rest.

Lupin closes his eyes.

LUPIN
Bijou?

BIJOU
I’m still right here.

LUPIN
I think I saw him.

Lupin opens his eyes again, but looks at a candle instead of at Bijou.

LUPIN
That’s why I ran. I saw him there in the fire. I think that’s what Echo was talking about. I’m the only one receptive to him. For some reason. Something must have happened in this house that I don’t remember. But I think I’m the only one who can stop him.

Bijou notices a spider crawling along the floor near Lupin’s head.

BIJOU
Lupin…you need to get up.

LUPIN
What is it?

BIJOU
Get up now.

Lupin tries to push himself up but falls on his elbow. Bijou grabs an arm and helps him to his feet. Then, she leans slowly forward and grabs a corner of the sleeping bag. She takes a deep breath and, as she exhales, pulls the unzipped bag open. It is swarming with spiders. Bijou shrieks, grabs Lupin, and helps him out the door. They hurry down the hallway and fling open a door. Echo sits inside under a white sheet, her candle still burning. She looks up at Lupin, supporting himself on Bijou’s shoulder and half-asleep.

BIJOU
May we sleep with you tonight?

CUT TO:

Bijou opens her eyes suddenly. She is immersed in darkness. She covers the end of her flashlight with her palm and turns it on, illuminating the space immediately surrounding her with a dim red. She is alone in the middle of the floor. She can hear shallow breathing from the direction of the crumpled blanket to her side. Rolling over to it, she tosses it aside. There is nothing underneath. Puzzled, she takes her palm off of the flashlight in time to see a hand rushing toward her own. It grabs her wrist and the flashlight falls to her side. The sounds of her struggling and her muffled cries for help mingle with the eerie breathing. Eventually, she can be heard gasping for air and screaming clearly. Footsteps can be heard slinking into the distance. Bijou grabs the flashlight and flips it on. She aims it toward the doorway, where it shines on Echo’s face. Echo squints in the light.

ECHO
I heard screams. Are you alright?

Bijou sits up on one elbow and catches her breath.

BIJOU
I think so. Where were you?

ECHO
I don’t sleep much. I’m what you might call a nocturne. A creature of darkness.

BIJOU
Is Lupin with you?

ECHO
He was. He ran ahead when he heard you calling him. He must really love you. I couldn’t hear a thing.

BIJOU
Where is he now?

Lupin runs through the door, out of breath.

LUPIN
I couldn’t catch him. I’m sorry.

BIJOU
Lupin, you shouldn’t be running around in your condition.

LUPIN
That animal tried to kill you, Bijou. If stopping him means putting myself in danger, it’s worth it.

Bijou runs over and embraces Lupin.

LUPIN
At least we’re both okay.

ECHO
For now. I hate to interrupt this charming pastoral scene, but the threat isn’t over. He’s hiding. We don’t know when he’ll emerge again.

Lupin releases Bijou.

LUPIN
I think I can take you to him. It’s like you said, I have some kind of special connection with this thing.

ECHO
Let’s at least go armed.

Lupin produces a flashlight.

LUPIN
I have this. I’ve used it before.

Echo walks to the corner of the room, pulls up a floorboard, and draws out a handgun.

ECHO
In case we get separated.

Lupin puts his arm around Bijou. She clings to him.

LUPIN
Let’s go.

FADE OUT


Dark Ascension (Act III)

FADE IN:

INT. HOUSE – NIGHT

Lupin, Bijou, and Echo sit inside the circle of candles in the den. Bijou is making a peanut butter sandwich.

ECHO
What happened?

BIJOU
He was attacked by a dog. I don’t even know how it got in here.

ECHO
How about you?

BIJOU
What do you mean?

ECHO
You have blood on your hands.

Bijou looks down. Her right hand, which holds the knife, is covered with dried blood.

BIJOU
What?

ECHO
Did it come after you too?

BIJOU
No, it was dead. It fell out at me when I opened the door.

ECHO
Are you sure it fell?

LUPIN
You had better wash your hands. We don’t know what kinds of diseases you might be getting.

BIJOU
I’m sorry. I should make another sandwich.

LUPIN
You didn’t touch any of the food with it. We don’t have enough food to waste. There’s a bar of soap in my backpack. You can use a water bottle for the rest.

ECHO
It’s like I was saying. You never know what’s around the next corner.

Bijou washes her hands outside of the circle of lights. Behind her, Echo leans in close to Lupin.

ECHO
If you want something, don’t hesitate.

Echo puts her hand on Lupin’s thigh. He pushes it away quickly. She grins and backs away. Bijou turns around and finishes making the sandwich.

BIJOU
I still think some things are worth waiting for. If you live like that, what’s the point in living?

ECHO
That’s true. There are always things to look forward to.

Echo meets Lupin’s eye. He turns to Bijou.

LUPIN
Bijou and I know that.

BIJOU
I just can’t wait to get out of here.

LUPIN
If you can survive five more days, we’ll be off to a better life.

ECHO
I for one am glad that you’re here. It makes things much more stimulating.

Bijou hands the sandwich to Lupin.

BIJOU
I can’t believe that you actually enjoyed being here.

LUPIN
There’s something about it. Something in the wood. It’s like an asylum. The only laws here are the laws of nature.

ECHO
There’s freedom in the walls.

LUPIN
Exactly. It’s like all of the boundaries disappear in the dark.

ECHO
I know mine do.

BIJOU
Speaking of that, I think it’s about night.

ECHO
Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

CUT TO:

Bijou opens her eyes abruptly and gasps for air. Next to her, Lupin sits outside of the sleeping bag, shirtless, reading by candlelight. He hears her and turns around.

LUPIN
You’re awake.

BIJOU
What time is it?

LUPIN
I don’t know. My watch is downstairs.

BIJOU
What are you reading?

LUPIN
Your Bible. It’s actually very good. I’ve never read it before.

Bijou sits up.

BIJOU
You’ve never read the Bible?

LUPIN
I never saw the point. Either you believe in God, or you don’t. A book isn’t going to change your mind.

BIJOU
Why are you reading it now?

LUPIN
I couldn’t sleep. It was the only book we had.

BIJOU
What’s wrong?

LUPIN
Nothing.

Lupin moves the candle between them.

BIJOU
Why couldn’t you sleep?

LUPIN
I got hot. And you kept moving.

BIJOU
I had a nightmare.

LUPIN
Tell me about it.

Bijou stares into the flame of the candle.

BIJOU
Not this one.

Bijou grabs Lupin’s hand.

BIJOU
Do you think she might be right?

LUPIN
I don’t know.

BIJOU
What if we did die tomorrow? We would miss so much.

LUPIN
We would miss things no matter when we died.

BIJOU
I think I have to say something now, because I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to if I wait. Or I might change my mind, and I know I would regret that. Lupin, I really think you’re the one.

LUPIN
I know.

BIJOU
No. I think I’m the one, too. I think we have something special between us.

LUPIN
I know.

BIJOU
No. I can’t say it without saying things I’ve already said. But this is something new. This is something I haven’t said yet. I mean all those things a thousand times more. I mean that there’s something about us that will never happen again. I need to say something that nobody’s already said.

Bijou strokes Lupin’s arm. She stops, turns it over, pulls it over the flame, and examines it with concern.

BIJOU
How were you hot? You have goose- bumps.

LUPIN
It was you.

BIJOU
I’m sorry.

LUPIN
No. It’s the way it goes. Perfectly.

Bijou puts her hand on Lupin’s face and looks into his eyes.

CUT TO:

The dead dog stares blankly outward as Bijou covers it was a thin sheet. Lupin grabs her hand.

BIJOU
I almost feel bad for it. It didn’t know what it was doing. It was just doing what its brain told it to do, and it died because of it.

LUPIN
So was I. We were all just acting the way our brains told us to.

BIJOU
But it was just an animal. It didn’t know any better.

LUPIN
We aren’t any better than animals. We just don’t understand each other.

BIJOU
Was this the right choice?

LUPIN
I can’t say. It was our choice.

Bijou embraces Lupin and buries her face in his chest.

CUT TO:

Lupin, Bijou, and Echo sit amongst the candles in the den.

BIJOU
Alright. One time, I forgot to set my clock forward for daylight saving’s time. When my alarm went off, I only had five minutes to get ready for school. I don’t do very well under pressure. I didn’t know what to do first, or what not to do at all. So I just threw on the easiest outfit I could find and ran out the door. I missed the bus anyway, so I had to walk to school. When I got there, my hair was tangled, my clothes were wrinkled, and I was swimming in sweat. Then I remembered that it was picture day.

LUPIN
I was about five or six. I’ll just say five and a half. My mom took me to the park and bought me an ice cream cone. This wasn’t just any ice cream; it was the Thunderdome of ice cream cones. Anyway, I was eating it as any five and a half year old boy knows how to do. Then I saw this little five year old girl across the park. I don’t know what it was about her. She had long blonde hair and she looked like a tiny angel with mud all over her face. She saw me looking at her and I tried to look like I was eating my ice cream, but while I had been staring it had melting all down my hand.

BIJOU
Poor you.

LUPIN
That sort of thing can leave a mark.

BIJOU
What about you, Echo?

ECHO
I don’t get embarrassed.

LUPIN
Of course you do.

ECHO
If other people don’t like the way I act, that’s their problem. I’m only responsible for my own happiness.

BIJOU
Are you trying to prove something, or are you really this cold?

ECHO
I don’t have to prove anything.

Lupin unbuttons his shirt.

LUPIN
Am I the only hot one here?

ECHO
I would say so.

BIJOU
Lupin, if it weren’t for these candles, I would be freezing.

LUPIN
I don’t think I’m well.

Bijou puts her hand on Lupin’s forehead.

BIJOU
You’re burning up.

LUPIN
That’s what I feel like. I feel like all of my insides are on fire.

BIJOU
Maybe you should go to bed.

LUPIN
I’ll be fine out here.

BIJOU
No you won’t. You’re going to bed.

Bijou drags Lupin up. Echo stands.

ECHO
I’ll walk you there.

BIJOU
That’s okay, I can handle it.

ECHO
No, I insist.

Echo smiles.

CUT TO:

Bijou and Echo sit in the den.

BIJOU
What happens if he gets sick? What are we supposed to do?

ECHO
There’s nothing you can do.

BIJOU
I’m worried about him.

ECHO
He’ll be alright. Lupin has always been tough.

BIJOU
You know him?

ECHO
Didn’t you know?

BIJOU
He’s never mentioned you.

ECHO
That’s funny. He used to mention me all the time.

BIJOU
Maybe he forgot about you.

ECHO
I don’t think that’s very likely. It would take a lot to make him forget me.

BIJOU
Is that how you got in?

ECHO
He used to take me here all the time. You can do anything here.

BIJOU
Anything?

ECHO
We were young. Anything to us didn’t mean very much.

BIJOU
I wonder why he never talks about it.

ECHO
Maybe he didn’t want to be embarrassed.

Lupin approaches with two sandwiches.

BIJOU
Lupin, what are you doing up?

LUPIN
I feel so much better now. You were right. A nap was all I needed.

BIJOU
I’m not sure about that.

LUPIN
No, you were right. I made you some sandwiches.

ECHO
Aren’t you going to have anything?

LUPIN
I don’t think I can eat.

BIJOU
You should stay in bed.

LUPIN
I got lonely.

ECHO
That’s not good.

LUPIN
I’m completely okay now.

Lupin sits and hands the sandwiches to Bijou and Echo. Echo lifts up the bread and examines the contents of the sandwich.

LUPIN
After we eat I think I’m going to explore.

BIJOU
Are you sure that’s safe?

LUPIN
I’m getting restless. I know there’s more to this house than we can see.

BIJOU
At least let me come with you this time.

Echo hands her sandwich to Bijou.

ECHO
I don’t eat other people’s food.

BIJOU
I don’t want you to get hurt again.

LUPIN
I don’t want you to get hurt because of me.

Bijou takes a bite of her sandwich and releases a muffled scream. She spits out a ball of red-stained bread and peanut butter. Lupin grabs her head.

LUPIN
What happened?

BIJOU
I don’t know. It felt like something bit me.

LUPIN
Let me see.

Lupin shines his flashlight into Bijou’s mouth. Her tongue is a deep red.

LUPIN
You’re bleeding. Here, wash your mouth out.

Lupin hands Bijou a water bottle. She takes a swig, gurgles it, and spits it out. Lupin turns to Echo angrily.

LUPIN
What did you do to her?

ECHO
I didn’t make the sandwich.

Bijou lifts up the bread of the sandwich. She begins coughing.

LUPIN
Can you talk?

BIJOU
Look.

Lupin looks at the sandwich. The peanut butter is sprinkled with staples. He turns back to Echo.

LUPIN
Those weren’t there when I made it.

ECHO
They were there when I got it.

LUPIN
And you gave it to Bijou?

ECHO
I didn’t make it.

LUPIN
You delivered it.

ECHO
So did you. If I wanted to kill either of you, I have much better ways of doing it.

BIJOU
Lupin, did you put those in there?

LUPIN
Don’t you trust me?

BIJOU
I trust your word. Just tell me that you didn’t.

LUPIN
I would never do anything to hurt you, Bijou.

BIJOU
Echo is the only other person here.

ECHO
Believe whatever you want. It doesn’t really make any difference to me. I know the truth.

BIJOU
What is the truth?

ECHO
You aren’t considering all possibilities.

LUPIN
What else is there to consider?

ECHO
Somebody we don’t know may have put those there.

BIJOU
Are you saying there’s another person here with us?

ECHO
Maybe not another person. Just somebody we don’t know about yet.

Bijou grabs Lupin’s arm.

BIJOU
Lupin, I want to leave.

LUPIN
We can’t.

BIJOU
It isn’t safe here. I don’t feel right.

LUPIN
Neither do I. But there’s nothing out there.

BIJOU
Yes there is. Of course there is.

LUPIN
Not for us. Not yet.

ECHO
Have I been absolved?

LUPIN
I don’t know. What are we choosing to believe? That there’s some force working against us, some…intangible thing inside here that wants us dead?

BIJOU
I don’t see anything else to believe.

LUPIN
I wasn’t raised to believe in things that aren’t there.

BIJOU
That’s because you weren’t raised Christian. I owe my life to things that aren’t there.

LUPIN
I think there’s something to think about. But I can’t think right now. There’s too much. We can’t believe anything yet.

ECHO
I guess that means I’d better disappear.

Lupin takes Bijou’s hand and stands. She rises with him.

LUPIN
No, we’ll go to our room. When we’ve thought, we’ll let you know.

Lupin and Bijou walk into the darkness. Echo picks up the sandwich with the staples, looks at it, and sets it aside. She lifts the bread of the other sandwich. Sharp staples glint in the candlelight.

CUT TO:

Lupin and Bijou lie side by side in the sleeping bag. Lupin reads the Bible by candlelight.

BIJOU
Are you still enjoying it?

LUPIN
I don’t know. It’s hard to read.

BIJOU
That’s part of how you show your faith. I’m glad you’re taking an interest.

LUPIN
It’s hard to read. The words keep slipping under one another.

BIJOU
Let me see your eyes.

Lupin turns around and looks at Bijou.

BIJOU
They seem clearer than ever.

LUPIN
I think it’s just the candle.

BIJOU
What do you really think happened back there?

LUPIN
I don’t know.

BIJOU
Do you think Echo is a murderer? Maybe that’s why she’s here.

LUPIN
She doesn’t seem like a murderer.

BIJOU
She said you two had a history.

Lupin thinks.

LUPIN
I don’t remember that.

BIJOU
She seemed to.

LUPIN
I’m having a hard time making my thoughts go where I want them to.

BIJOU
If it wasn’t Echo, it must have been something else.

LUPIN
I don’t believe in things I don’t know. The solution will manifest itself.

BIJOU
It’s just so hard to sleep on.

LUPIN
I know.

CUT TO:

Bijou opens her eyes and feels for Lupin. The sleeping bag beside her is empty. She snatches the flashlight from her side and flips it on. It spurts across the walls, baring their emptiness. She sits up and creeps out the door. The long hallway seems to swallow up the light. She creeps down, her apprehension growing with every step. She jumps as a door is slammed behind her. She freezes, her breathing heavy, then turns around slowly. Her flashlight beam rests on a closed door. She walks toward it slowly then stops short when she hears a soft cry from within. She continues forward and puts her ear to the door. A voice inside can be heard moaning and breathing heavily. Bijou puts her hand on the doorknob, pauses a second, then swings the door open. The circle of flashlight light catches a rapidly moving figure at its edge, but she does not notice. In the centre of the circle of light Echo sits upright under a white sheet, panting and wide-eyed.

BIJOU
Have you seen Lupin?

ECHO
Why would Lupin be in here? That would be sleeping with the enemy.

BIJOU
I’m sorry. I heard noises.

ECHO
I was enjoying my privacy.

BIJOU
Oh. Do you want me to leave?

ECHO
Unless you want me in your room in the middle of the night.

Bijou closes the door gingerly, turns around, and gasps.

BIJOU
Where did you come from?

Lupin stands in her flashlight beam, out of breath.

LUPIN
I found a secret passage. Where’s Echo?

BIJOU
She’s in her room.

LUPIN
Get her.

BIJOU
I don’t think she wants to be disturbed.

LUPIN
I found something.

BIJOU
What?

LUPIN
You have to see it. I don’t know what it means.

BIJOU
What is it?

LUPIN
Get Echo.

CUT TO:

A candle burns near the base of the wall. It illuminates a crude yet elaborate mural painted directly onto the woodwork. A landscape appears to be aflame. Unidentifiable black shapes dance within the inferno. The fires gather to form a tangled coil that becomes a reptilian tale, which widens into a torso. A black eye marks the breast. Two huge red wings spread over the flaming land like the wings of a mother hen. Finally, the neck ends in a mat of curling grey tendrils. Above the mural, the words “Bound Him A Thousand Years” are painted childlike in dripping red. Bijou grabs Lupin tightly. Echo stands a little way behind, barely illuminated by the candlelight.

LUPIN
What does it mean?

BIJOU
I feel like I’m in the presence of some incomprehensible evil.

ECHO
You are.

Lupin and Bijou spin around.

LUPIN
Did you paint this?

ECHO
I’ve been in my room all night. Bijou can vouch for that. But I think I know who did paint it.

BIJOU
Who?

ECHO
I can’t say his name here.

LUPIN
What do you know?

ECHO
Nothing that you don’t.

BIJOU
Lupin, what is she talking about?

Lupin strokes Bijou’s head.

LUPIN
I don’t know. I feel like I should, but I don’t.

ECHO
You can remember what you want when you want to.

BIJOU
Lupin…why haven’t you been here since you were little? What happened the last time you were here?

LUPIN
I just outgrew it. Nothing happened. I just outgrew it.

ECHO
Lupin, tell her what happened.

LUPIN
I don’t know what happened. All I remember is nothing.

ECHO
Suit yourself. If you decide you don’t want to die in here, let me know.

Echo turns and walks back into the darkness, seeming to fade away.

LUPIN
Wait!

Echo’s voice drifts from the darkness.

ECHO
Do you have something to say?

LUPIN
How do we stop…him?

ECHO
I have no idea.

BIJOU
We have no hope?

ECHO
Ask Lupin. He knows.

Lupin and Bijou turn back to the mural. They read the words again and hold each other tightly.

FADE OUT


Dark Ascension (Act II)

FADE IN:

INT. HOUSE – NIGHT

Lupin, Bijou, and Echo sit in a den, surrounded by candles.

ECHO
You have to put them out when you leave the room. It’s too dangerous otherwise.

BIJOU
Who are you? What are you doing here?

ECHO
My name’s Echo. Why am I here?

Echo glances at Lupin, then back to Bijou.

ECHO
The same reason you’re here. There are certain people I don’t really feel like explaining myself to.

BIJOU
How did you get in?

Echo glances at Lupin again.

ECHO
Wouldn’t you like to know.

LUPIN
We have sandwiches.

ECHO
No thanks, I ate already.

BIJOU
What do you do for food?

ECHO
I have my food, you have yours.

Echo glances again at Lupin, this time at length.

ECHO
Let’s not get the two confused.

LUPIN
I remember there used to be hidden passages and panels all over this place.

ECHO
There still are. They’re still hidden.

LUPIN
We should explore the rest of the house.

ECHO
Half of this place is buried within itself.

BIJOU
Do you think we’ll be able to find a comfortable bed?

LUPIN
It shouldn’t be a problem. There were a couple of bedrooms, and I brought some sleeping things.

ECHO
Tired already?

BIJOU
It’s been a long day.

ECHO
It will be a longer night.

Lupin stands.

LUPIN
I think Bijou and I are going to relax for a little while.

ECHO
Suit yourself. Personally, I can last as long as I want to last.

Something watches Lupin, Bijou, and Echo from the shadows. Bijou stands, and Lupin and Bijou walk off hand in hand. Echo stands and puts out the candles, one by one.

CUT TO:

Lupin and Bijou share a sleeping bag in the bedroom. A candle burns by their head.

LUPIN
Isn’t this place incredible?

BIJOU
I don’t know.

LUPIN
What’s wrong?

BIJOU
Nothing. Everything. Nothing’s wrong, but it’s spread out all over. And everything’s wrong nowhere.

LUPIN
What is it, Bijou?

BIJOU
I get a funny feeling from this house. It seems…dangerous. Like an accident waiting to happen. Except it wouldn’t be an accident.

LUPIN
I think you’re just letting the darkness get to you.

BIJOU
I didn’t ask you what you thought.

LUPIN
If there’s anything dangerous in here, I’ll be there to protect you.

BIJOU
What if you’re not there?

LUPIN
Then you’ll just have to be with me.

BIJOU
That isn’t the only thing.

Lupin simultaneously strokes Bijou’s hair and the wooden floor.

BIJOU
I’m not sure about that girl. Echo.

LUPIN
What aren’t you sure about?

BIJOU
Just…her.

LUPIN
We touched her. She isn’t a ghost.

BIJOU
I know that. But what is she doing here?

LUPIN
She told us. The same thing as us.

BIJOU
I’m here because of you. We have no idea what she did to get here.

LUPIN
And it isn’t any of our business.

BIJOU
I just don’t trust…

Lupin puts his finger on Bijou’s lips and shuts her eyes with his other hand

LUPIN
The only one you have to trust here is me. I’ll do the rest of the trusting for you. Now it’s time to trust the sleeping bag to keep you warm, and trust the light to go out, and trust your dreams to put you to sleep. Alright?

BIJOU
You say the sweetest things sometimes, Lupin.

LUPIN
I don’t mean to.

BIJOU
That’s what makes them so sweet.

Lupin puts out the candle.

LUPIN
Sweet dreams.

CUT TO:

Lupin, Bijou, and Echo sit inside a circle of candles in the den, playing Egyptian War.

LUPIN
Why don’t we light the fire?

ECHO
That chimney hasn’t been cleaned in lifetimes. We would end up blacker than we are now.

BIJOU
Couldn’t we clean it?

ECHO
If you didn’t mind whatever’s in there.

LUPIN
You can slap in, you know.

BIJOU
I’m okay just watching. I don’t really like violent games.

ECHO
This isn’t violent. You don’t want to see us get violent.

BIJOU
You’re right. I don’t.

LUPIN
Was that a challenge?

ECHO
I think it was.

Echo puts her fists up in a boxing stance.

ECHO
You’d better watch out. I have fists of iron.

Lupin assumes a karate position and speaks in a faux-Japanese accent.

LUPIN
The Crimson Dragon is a master of seven martial arts. Kung-Fu, Ju-Jitsu, Karate, Kangaroo Boxing, and three others that he’s inventing as he speaks.

ECHO
Well, I used to be a huge black guy. I like to tear my opponents’ kidneys out with my teeth and eat them raw.

LUPIN
The Crimson Dragon has kidneys of fire.

BIJOU
Okay, okay. Continue your game.

Echo lowers her fists.

LUPIN
We shall meet again, brave warrior.

Echo smiles as Lupin lowers his hands. They continue playing.

BIJOU
Isn’t he hilarious? I don’t know how he does it.

LUPIN
Pure skill. And I’m completely insane.

Lupin and Echo slap the cards. Lupin traps Echo’s hand under his and holds it there.

LUPIN
Don’t move.

There is a loud thump from another area of the house.

LUPIN
Did you hear it?

BIJOU
What was it?

ECHO
Probably a rat.

LUPIN
I’m going to find out.

BIJOU
No. It could be dangerous.

LUPIN
That’s why I should find it before it finds us.

BIJOU
It’s probably nothing.

LUPIN
Then what’s the danger in checking? It will give you two a chance to get to know each other.

BIJOU
At least take something to protect yourself.

Lupin waves his flashlight.

LUPIN
I’ll be right back.

Lupin turns on his flashlight.

LUPIN
Play for me.

Lupin exits in the direction of the noise.

BIJOU
I don’t really feel like playing.

ECHO
That’s okay. I like a challenge.

Bijou picks up a card and looks at it. It is a one-eyed Jack.

ECHO
You two must be very happy.

BIJOU
We will be.

ECHO
I’ll bet he’s great in bed.

BIJOU
I wouldn’t know. We’re saving ourselves.

ECHO
What for?

BIJOU
For each other. For the future.

ECHO
You must have a lot of confidence.

BIJOU
What do you mean?

ECHO
You must think it’s going to last forever.

BIJOU
It will last until we die. If he didn’t believe that too, he wouldn’t have brought me here.

ECHO
What if you died tomorrow?

BIJOU
Then I wouldn’t be lonely on my dying day.

ECHO
Do you really want to die a virgin?

BIJOU
What makes you think I’m going to die tomorrow?

ECHO
It isn’t impossible. That’s the way I think. You should never have any regrets. That way, you’ll always die happy. Take everything you want while you have the opportunity.

BIJOU
I have everything I want the way things are.

ECHO
Are you lying to yourself, or just to me?

There is another, louder noise elsewhere in the house.

BIJOU
That doesn’t sound like a rat.

ECHO
We don’t get rats here.

BIJOU
Lupin! Lupin!

Bijou listens in silence.

BIJOU
I don’t hear him.

Bijou grabs a flashlight and stands.

ECHO
Think about it.

Bijou walks out into another room. She shines her flashlight around, seeing two doorways. She shines the light on the floor, illuminating footsteps in every direction. She stands stock still for a moment, then walks through one door. The light scrolls around three blank walls. There is another thud. She runs back through the doorway. She hears another noise. She runs through the other doorway, and a dizzying series of identical doors and rooms, lit by the small circle of flashlight light, as the noises become more frequent. Finally, a huge blow rattles the doorway in front of her. As she opens it, something falls forward. She screams and drops the flashlight, which goes out. Shallow breathing seems to emanate from every direction. She drops to her knees and searches frantically for the light. Her hand closes on hair, matted with a sticky liquid. She draws it away quickly and finds the flashlight. She flips it on and gasps sickly. It shines directly into the dull eye of a dead dog, making the pupil seem to glow red. Still hearing the breathing, she steps over it and into the room beyond. Lupin is crouched on the ground, his flashlight beside him, the batteries spilled out into the room.

LUPIN
It just came out of nowhere. It came and attacked and…

BIJOU
Lupin, are you okay?

LUPIN
What? Yeah…I’m just a little shaken, I guess. Is it okay?

BIJOU
It’s dead.

LUPIN
I didn’t know what to do. It was out of my control.

BIJOU
I know. It’s okay. Are you alright?

LUPIN
I think so. My flashlight went out.

BIJOU
You must have hit it pretty hard.

LUPIN
I don’t really remember. It didn’t feel like anything.

BIJOU
Did it bite you anywhere?

Lupin looks down at himself.

LUPIN
I don’t see anything.

BIJOU
What are we supposed to do about the body?

LUPIN
There’s nothing we can do. We’ll just keep the door closed.

BIJOU
Let’s go get something inside of you.

Bijou leans down and fixes Lupin’s flashlight, then grabs his arm.

LUPIN
I’m fine. I just need a second to find myself.

Bijou leaves. Lupin flips on his flashlight and begins to stand. He winces, and removes his hand from his leg. It covers a large red stain. He grabs a water bottle from his pocket and rinses off his hand and leg, then stands and steps over the blood-matted body of the dog.

FADE OUT


Dark Ascension (Act I)

Contextual note: this was included on a floppy disk of high school-era writing. The filename was, simply, “horror.doc”. Judging from the content, this screenplay dates to circa 2002-2003. The U.K. variant spellings and “symbolic” character names are a product of their time.

***

FADE IN:

INT. HOUSE – DAY

A wide door swings open, illuminating the entry hall. The wooden surfaces are caked with dust, and the house is devoid of furniture. The windows have been boarded up, admitting no light. Two figures (Lupin and Bijou) are silhouetted against the bright daylight that invades the house. They stand there a moment.

LUPIN
What do you think?

BIJOU
I don’t know…

LUPIN
But what do you think?

Bijou takes a step inside and looks around. She is a teenage girl with short black hair. Although she wears vividly colourful clothing, the colour seems drained from the atmosphere, so that her skin is almost the same tone as the dust on the floor.

BIJOU
What am I supposed to say?

LUPIN
Just say what you think.

BIJOU
I don’t think I like it.

Lupin steps inside and grabs Bijou around the waist. He is in his late teens, and dressed in faded and inexpensive clothing.

LUPIN
I know. But this is where we have to be right now. Okay?

BIJOU
I said okay.

Lupin swings the door shut, engulfing them in total blackness. He flips on a flashlight and uses it to search through an old backpack. He draws out another flashlight and hands it to Bijou.

LUPIN
You didn’t.

BIJOU
I would have if you had let me.

Lupin kisses Bijou lightly on the forehead.

LUPIN
I love you anyway.

BIJOU
What are we supposed to do?

LUPIN
Relax. Everything’s under control now.

BIJOU
What do we do while everything’s under control?

Lupin swings his flashlight beam in a circle around the room.

LUPIN
Get used to it.

BIJOU
Is there any way to get some light in here?

Lupin turns the flashlight onto his face.

LUPIN
We have light.

BIJOU
I mean real light.

LUPIN
If we can see out, they can see in.

BIJOU
Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

LUPIN
Bijou, do you want to be with me?

BIJOU
Of course.

LUPIN
Well, I’m going to be here. Be here with me.

BIJOU
I just wish it could be different.

LUPIN
Of course. We all wish for things to be different. But if we got all our wishes, they would be the same.

BIJOU
What?

LUPIN
Nothing. Come on, let’s see what there is to see.

BIJOU
I can’t see anything with this.

LUPIN
That’s because you don’t know how to use it.

Lupin shines his flashlight on Bijou.

LUPIN
I can see everything.

Lupin wanders over to a corner of the room and examines the walls, while Bijou walks toward the entrance to the kitchen.

BIJOU
How old do you think this place is?

LUPIN
It’s been empty since I knew about it. We used to go down here all the time. It’s just like I remember it.

BIJOU
There’s no refrigerator.

LUPIN
No, they took all the furniture and appliances away a long time ago. If there ever were any.

BIJOU
What are we supposed to do for food?

LUPIN
I brought enough to last us at least a week. You’d better relax. If you’re this tense now, imagine how you’ll be after a couple of days.

BIJOU
You could go out of your mind in a place like this.

Lupin runs his hand along the old wooden wall.

LUPIN
No, there isn’t anywhere else to go.

Bijou freezes, her flashlight pointed at something on the ground. A look of confused apprehension arises in her face.

BIJOU
Lupin? Could you come here?

Lupin has placed his entire body against the wall, feeling it sensually. He turns around and walks toward Bijou.

LUPIN
They don’t make houses like this one anymore…with so much life.

BIJOU
Lupin, I’m not sure what’s going on.

LUPIN
What do you mean?

BIJOU
Have you been in this room already?

LUPIN
Not yet.

Bijou gestures toward the ground with her flashlight. Lupin points his in the same direction, adjoining their beams at one point.

BIJOU
Please, help me understand.

Their flashlights illuminate a few footprints in the dust.

LUPIN
It’s nothing. Don’t worry.

BIJOU
What if there’s somebody else here?

LUPIN
There can’t be. Nobody knows about this place except me and a few other people, and I know where they are.

BIJOU
What if someone else knows? What if somebody finds out that we’re here?

Lupin holds up a small key.

LUPIN
I have the key, remember? This is the original. I know where all the copies went.

BIJOU
Then what are those? Ghosts?

LUPIN
Probably.

Bijou hits Lupin in the chest with her flashlight.

BIJOU
This isn’t funny. I’m worried.

LUPIN
I’m sorry. They’re probably…they must be left over from when I was little. With all the windows boarded up, it must take a while for the dust to settle in here.

BIJOU
Oh…

LUPIN
Bijou, this isn’t going to work if you can’t trust me. We’re in absolutely no danger here. Okay?

BIJOU
I said okay.

LUPIN
Are you hungry?

BIJOU
Yeah.

Lupin grabs Bijou seductively.

LUPIN
How hungry?

Bijou hits Lupin with her flashlight again.

BIJOU
Go get me a sandwich.

LUPIN
I think I’ll get three. One for me, one for you, and one for…Them.

BIJOU
Go.

Lupin goes back into the entry hall. Bijou takes one last doubtful look at the footprints.

CUT TO:

Lupin and Bijou sit cross-legged in the middle of the kitchen, eating sandwiches. Their flashlights are by their sides, shining on each other.

BIJOU
If I have to eat peanut butter every day, I’m going to die.

LUPIN
It’s the only thing that’s easy to pack and lasts.

BIJOU
I don’t know why I let you kidnap me.

LUPIN
Because you love me, and you hate your parents. And please don’t use that word. I don’t like to think of you as a kid.

BIJOU
Good, because I’m not.

LUPIN
Just think about where we’ll be after we get out of here.

BIJOU
You make it sound like we’re in prison.

LUPIN
We are if we leave before I get my call. I am, at least.

A door creaks elsewhere in the house.

BIJOU
What was that?

LUPIN
A door creaking.

BIJOU
Why?

Something watches Lupin and Bijou from around a doorway. They appear in high-contrast technicolour, and their speech is garbled. The unseen observer turns away from this scene and walks down a dark hallway. Lupin and Bijou resume their conversation in the previous washed-out colour scheme.

BIJOU
I don’t believe in them either. I’m not a little girl.

LUPIN
So there has to be a logical explanation.

BIJOU
But you don’t know what it is.

LUPIN
Not specifically. It could be anything. Bijou, I…

BIJOU
Do you hear footsteps?

Lupin listens.

LUPIN
You really need to relax, Bijou. I don’t want you tense.

BIJOU
I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve never had to worry about being caught before. I’ve never done anything wrong before.

LUPIN
I’m the one who will get in trouble if they find us. You’re still a minor, remember?

BIJOU
I hate that law.

LUPIN
It’s still there.

Lupin and Bijou resume eating in silence. After a few seconds, they hear footsteps, very close.

BIJOU
Lupin…

LUPIN
I know.

BIJOU
There were no footprints by the front door. When we came in. They were only in this part of the house.

LUPIN
Shh!

Lupin and Bijou listen. The footsteps have stopped.

LUPIN
Turn off your flashlight.

BIJOU
Lupin…

LUPIN
You have to trust me, Bijou.

Lupin and Bijou shut off their flashlights. The room is pitch black. The footsteps resume. As they get closer, Lupin turns on his flashlight. It catches a glimpse of a white figure, but the figure moves quickly away. Bijou turns on her flashlight, and she and Lupin shine the light wildly around the room. They occasionally catch a flash of white, but it moves away. Finally, both beams centre on Echo, a teenage girl in a white dress, with long, blonde hair. She stares at them fearlessly.

ECHO
Hello. I have candles.

FADE OUT


Funny Cat Stories

<<The introduction and most of the body text & some of the photographs as well are excerpted without permission from “Darn Funny Cat Stories” by Stacie Naczelnik, at stacienaczelnik.hubpages.com/hub/Darn-Funny-Cat-Stories>>

#

Whenever I’m confronted with someone who can’t understand my love for cats, I remind them of the research that shows pets are good for your health.1 With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to share fun stories about cats for those of you who cannot have, or do not want (my emphasis), pets of your own. Hopefully, these stories will make you smile or laugh, and bring you some of the relaxing health benefits having a pet can provide. Some of these stories might make you remember why you don’t have a pet, but the people these things happened to now laugh when they look back. Their mouths are laughing but their faces are without sound. Their blind eyes watch you from their place on the mantel, skin peeling away beneath dusty, matted fur, stained with the urine of those who succeeded them, oblivious that they, too, will one day share this ignominious fate.

For those of you with pets, particularly cats, I’m sure you will enjoy these too. But these warnings are not intended for you, and you will be no safer for having heard them.

#

Funny Cat Story #1: Tiger & Spot

These two cats lived their entire lives in California where they spent their days basking in the sunlight. Tiger was, funny enough, a tiger-striped cat, but Spot had the fluffiest black and white fur. Spot got his name for the giant white spot on his nose. Spot and Tiger were my grandpa’s cats; and, ironically, bear resemblances to my two cats. All cats are the same cat, stamped in faltering columns across the page. All pets are imperfect images of the same unkillable original, which can neither be touched by human hands nor compassed by the human mind. Anyway, my grandpa is a packrat—that man keeps everything, from snake skins to old railroad pins to matchboxes. One of his favorite things to collect are beer mats. In fact, I remember finding stacks of them all over his living room (his girlfriend no longer lets him collect all of these things). Grandpa enjoyed playing the beer mat game with the cats. The cats in this story are long dead, or presumed so. They fell motionless long ago. We hope that they will not move again. Honestly, I think he enjoyed people’s reactions when they learned of his game.

I can not describe the beer mat game.

Tiger wasn’t as laid back as Spot. Tiger sure could be a lover, but he was a bit crotchety. He always wanted everything to go his way. He especially didn’t like it when Grandpa went out of town, although a perfectly nice friend came over to take care of the cats. Once, when Grandpa went on an especially long trip, Tiger really got annoyed with the situation. To show everyone what he thought of it, he took a dump in the middle of Grandpa’s bed. The friend saw this, so he washed the sheets and blankets, leaving them folded into a nice pile.

When Grandpa got home from his trip, he found the neat pile on his bed. On top of the pile was another poopy gift. He did not see the friend beneath the pile. That was one smart cat.

#

Funny Cat Story #2: Frisky Felix

Parts of this story have been abridged.

My aunt and uncle…crazy neighbor…only has one eye…a dozen chickens…thought they were crazy…Felix…insane…an adorable kitten with the sweetest white paws, he loves to be held and cuddled, and he can be found curled into any crack and cranny in their house. Like most kittens, he’s fearless and curious about everything, but he doesn’t have any common sense.

…Felix wasn’t yet allowed to go outdoors alone…he’d planned it for weeks…the branches grew too thin to support his tiny weight.

This is a tall tree rooted in a steep hill.2 Half of the tree hangs over into some bushes, creating a decently soft break if Felix were to fall. We held our breath but he did not fall. The other half stretched ominously out past a stone wall to the sidewalk…we had to pray…if Felix fell…on the hard cement side. So there we were, in the middle of a dark, winter evening, huddled out under a tree…Felix…the little devil (my emphasis)…we had…leaving the…baby…the tree (my emphasis). We could hear his sad meows all the way in the living room. The voice of the cat is omnivocal and transspatial. It is a transfiguration of the cat’s presence…agitations…literal vibrato…primary displacement of matter….

The next day…Felix had come down…only to hear he still sat up in the tree… yowling… (My emphasis. The cat is heard before it is seen.) Neighbors and passersby…to offer…nothing seemed…my aunt…the fire department. Unfortunately, the fire department…fires…people’s lives…the tree (my emphasis).

On the third night…Felix…come down already…still high up the tree, crying out for help as pitifully as ever. We were afraid he would pass out from hunger and fall. My grandparents insisted…Felix…they left—they couldn’t leave…we tried…the cat (my emphasis).

…morning…a triumphant meow…a scratching…Felix…exhausted and shivering. He ate an entire bowl of food before collapsing on a rug in front of the fireplace. My grandparents………………………….. But, Felix still loves climbing trees.

#

Funny Cat Story #3: The Daredevil and the Lounger

My own cats (my emphasis, to emphasize that these are Stacie’s cats, that these are not my cats) are named Benny and Freya, and they are little rascals in their own ways. Freya is our sweet, plump girl. She is a cuddler, but very opinionated—always speaking her mind, letting us know when she wants something, which happens to be always. A cat of leisure, Freya spends her days finding new ways to show us her belly, inviting us to give it a rub. Gutted, transubstantiation. She’s mastered the art of getting someone, or something, to pet her: our hands, legs, shoes, backpack, wall, chair, or anything else she can rub against.

Freya loves to hide, thinking nobody can see her (my emphasis), whether it is in a box, beneath a rug, or under the coffee table. She’s funny in a sweet, loving way, but you would have to know her to really appreciate her humor.3 Now, Benny, on the other hand…

Benny is about two weeks younger than Freya, and although they are now 1½ years old, he remains the precocious kitten. He loves to jump and climb onto everything, from the refrigerator to the windowsill to the top of doors. He is an acrobat who can balance himself on the narrowest of ledges. There is nowhere in our home that he hasn’t explored or sniffed, from the tops of bookcases to the cupboard under the bathroom sink.

As long as he stays off of the kitchen counter and dining room table, we pretty much let Benny climb and jump anywhere his heart desires. He’s talented enough not to knock stuff over or scratch anything during his adventures. One night, though, he went too far. I was in the shower, washing my hair, when I heard Benny screech. He must have made the sound as he leaped. The sound of the cat must never be measured against the vision of the cat; the two do not proceed from a unified origin. Suddenly, I saw a flurry of dark fur and claws, above me, trying to balance on the shower curtain rod. There I stood in my birthday suit, all soaped up, with a freaked out cat about to fall into the shower. I screamed for my husband to help, reaching my arms up to help Benny balance himself. But I was wet, so he tried to shrink away from me, making the entire situation worse. It really only lasted a matter of seconds, but time slowed down (dilatory effects) as I imagined him falling towards me, claws frantically reaching out to latch onto something as an anchor, but finding only me. Luckily, my husband recognized the frenzied call in my voice, and came in to save the day. From that day on, Benny meows like crazy whenever any of us are in the shower. The voice of the cat cannot be sated. The voice of the cat must not be silenced.

Luckily, if he gets into too much trouble, Freya just bites him in the butt, and he shapes up. One cat, splayed out in infinite variations, swallowing its own tail in the primordial unity of the Ouroboros.

Ah, pets…you can’t live with ’em, but you can’t live without ’em.

###

1 I made some investigations of my own into the so-called research mentioned. According to Newsweek’s “The Daily Beast” feature, in the article “Pets: Good for your Health?” the answer is a resounding (and fluffy) yes, “as long as you’re not…terrified of them” (my emphasis). Pets are born moderators and conflict mediators, according to biologist Erika Friedmann: “Any disease condition that has a stress-related component to it, we believe pets could ameliorate stress and moderate the situation. It’s providing a focus of attention that’s outside of someone’s self. They’re actually letting you focus on them rather than focusing…on yourself all the time” (my emphasis). Imagine looking into a mirror and seeing a reflection that is not your own, a face that speaks to you through lips and fangs and tongue not suited for human words–but the words still come, tortured through the impassive face, the lips and fangs and tongue contorted with the effort, the words themselves even more badly disfigured. And pets, particularly four-legged pets (I assume this discounts disabled or mutant pets with more or fewer than four legs, and fish), can impel their owners toward heart-healthy exercise and soul-enriching social situations–perhaps even allowing them to meet that special someone. The article concludes by suggesting a stuffed “placebo pet” (my words) for parents of allergy-inflicted (human) children. Back to Stacie.

2 The Alstonia or “devil tree” is an evergreen tree of eastern Asia and Philippines, of the dogbane family, having large leathery leaves and small green-white flowers in compact cymes. The flowers consist of 5 petals and 5 sepals, arranged in four whorls. The fertile flowers are hermaphrodite. The gamosepalous green sepals consist of ovate lobes, and are distributed in one whorl. The annular disk is hypogynous. The five gamesepalous petals have oblong or ovate lobes and are disposed in one whorl. The bark of the “devil tree” is used in “traditional medicine” as remedy against malaria, toothache, rheumatism and snake bite. From various sources.

3 I do not know this cat, which is the same cat as the cats from the first story, and as all cats.

Lily Shadows

Francis

This was actually saved in my phone as photo #666.

This was actually saved in my phone as photo #666.

With the greatest respect intended to Stacie, from one cat fancier to another.