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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Writer's Life 10/31 - Boo!

Of my novels, the five in print and the four that eventually will be, I believe only one, Rising Star, has the potential to be a big seller, although that is not proving to be the case, The nine took about 20 years to write. In the mid '90's I decided to take a crack at screenplays. I wrote a romantic comedy and a horror story. It was great fun. I failed to get anyone with clout to evaluate them, but that no longer stings. Here's the first two parts of All Hallows, a roller coaster thriller that pays tribute to many of the films and TV shows that entertained Americans for decades. The excerpt may seem long, but many of the sentences are very short. My guess is it's no longer than a 15-minute read. Happy Halloween.
   Part One: Nightfall. The outer, fog-shrouded grounds of the Bates-Myers Institute, a sanitarium on the outskirts of Bela, a small town in America. An overweight nurse waddles past the security gate, which has been left open. Her name tag reads: "Voorhies." She approaches a small security booth, which appears empty. Its light is on. A Jack-o-lantern sits on the window sill. On the second floor of the building, in a dark room, a shadowy figure peers through the blinds, tittering. He sings quietly to himself.
   Titterer, singing: “I don't want her/ You can have her/ She's too fat for me.”
   Outside, Nurse Voorhies gazes about.
   Nurse: Otis?
   She waits for a response, harrumphs.
   Nurse: Drunk again? You'll be a patient here soon yourself, you old fool. Stop hiding. Come out. Wait'll I tell Doctor Brooks.
   She closes the gate, which locks securely, and walks along the path to the sanitarium. Blood begins to trickle from the crack at the bottom of the door of the security booth. She does not notice it. At the front steps she encounters a trail of blood flowing from the bottom of the door to the path. Her breath catches in her throat. Nearby, a foot in a bloodied sock protrudes from the bottom of a bush. Concerned with the trail of blood, she fails to notice it. Someone has scrawled 666 in blood on the door. She opens the door tentatively and peers inside. Seeing nothing but the trail of blood, which winds out of sight, she enters, carefully avoiding the red river. No one is at the reception desk.  In a recreation room nearby, a television is tuned to a talk show featuring dysfunctionals: "Killers and the Women Who Love Them." The room appears empty.
   Nurse: Lulu?
   Nurse: Joe?
   Nurse: Doctor Brooks?
   Nurse: Anybody?
   A titter is heard. The nurse whirls, spots no one.
   Nurse: Who's that?
   The titter is prolonged. A smug look comes to the Nurse's face.
   Nurse: Nothing a little shock therapy won't cure.
   The Titterer, out of sight, feigns fear.
   Titterer: Nothing a little liposuction won't cure.
   She smirks. Wary, she follows the trail of blood along a corridor, passing a blood-stained sneaker. The red river diverges into two tributaries leading under doors that face each other across the corridor. She pauses.
   Titterer, imitating Monty Hall: Now, Miss Voorhees -- will it be Door Number One or Door Number Two?
  She whirls but fails to spot him, although, apparently, he is nearby. She stands mulling the options, finally chooses the door to her left. She opens it tentatively. Inside, a male orderly lies decapitated on the floor, blood now only trickling from his neck. His severed bead rests on his chest. The nurse backs away, terrified, her throat locked.
  Enter the Titterer, sliding down the corridor in stocking feet along the river of blood. His face, arms and smock are stained with blood.
  Titterer: Herrrrrre's, Johnny!
  He bumps into the nurse, whose voice box unlocks in a piercing scream. The Titterer imitates the scream, tears at his long, stringy hair, pulls locks from it, tosses them into the air. He grabs the nurse by the scruff of the neck.
  Titterer: What's behind Door Number Two, Jay?
  He forces her into the room.
  Titterer: Monty, it's another lovely dead person with his head cut off!
  A decapitated body sits at the desk, legs crossed, cigarette burning between its fingers. The head stands at the center of the desk, cigarette burning between its lips. The uniform is covered with blood.
   Titterer: There's your shock therapy, Nurse Blob. The inmates have taken over the asylum. "Revenge of the Psychopaths" -- film at eleven.
    He releases her. She flees screaming. At the reception desk she reaches over the counter for the phone, pulls the receiver up, and finds a bloodied, severed hand clinging to it. She screams and lets it drop. The Titterer reappears, guiding a severed head along the corridor with a broom, as if he were playing hockey.
   Titterer: He's got a breakaway. He skates in, shoots...
   He rolls the bead at her. She scrambles to avoid it. Bouncing erratically, it manages to find her feet. She screams.
   Titterer: He scores!
   He celebrates as a hockey player would.
   Titterer: They're going crazy!  They're going crazy! Hey-ho!
   He imitates a cheering crowd.
   The nurse runs outside and toward the security booth. As she opens it, the guard's headless body, which was propped against the door, falls backward at her feet, splashing her white shoes with blood. She backs away in terror, knocking the Jack-o-lantern from the sill. As it strikes the ground, it breaks and reveals a severed bead. She flees the grounds, screaming as she plods off into the dark night. The Titterer comes races past the gate after her, carrying a severed bead by the hair.
   Titterer: Hey, you forgot your lovely parting gift.
   He overtakes her and, running backward beside her, holds the head up to her face. She is screaming as they fade into the distance.
   Part Two: The security gate. A Sheriff's car skids to a halt at the security booth. The officers exit and approach the corpse.
   Deputy: Geez.
   He draws his gun and looks about. His name tag reads: "Fife."
   Sheriff: Put that away, Andy.
   Deputy: How do we know he's still not around?
   Sheriff: Would you stick around if you did somethin' like this?
   Deputy: No, but I'm not crazy.
   The Sheriff looks at him askance.
   Sheriff: Sometimes I wonder.
   The Deputy stares, unsure of himself. The Sheriff chuckles, squats and examines the body.
   Sheriff: And how d'you know it was a man?
   Deputy: No woman'd ever do somethin' like that.
   Sheriff: Does the name Lizzie Borden ring a bell -- or Lorena what's her name?
   The Deputy smirks.
   Sheriff: Well, I guess I shouldn't expect somebody who married the girl next door to know what some women'll do.
   The Deputy fidgets. The Sheriff chuckles.
   Deputy: Geez, Barney, how can you laugh at a time like this?
   Sheriff: If.... Never mind.
   He looks at the body.
   Sheriff: Poor Otis.  At least I think it's Otis. Does it look like Otis to you?
   The Deputy is appalled at the humor.
   Deputy: C'mon, Barney.
   The Sheriff scrapes blood from the name tag. It reads "Campbell."
   Sheriff: Yep, it's Otis all right. Get an ambulance out here. And tell Angel to call Elly May and tell her not to wait up for you.
   As the Deputy goes to the car, the Sheriff makes his way to the door of the sanitarium. He notices the blood-stained sock, peers around the bush, and grimaces. Suddenly he is staggered by a flashback to Vietnam, his finding a G.I. dead behind a bush. Grasping the railing, be shakes his head to chase the image.
   He enters the building and sees the severed head and hand.  He looks toward a stairway. Blood is now winding its way down and also trickling from the landing. He experiences another flashback, the carnage in the aftermath of an explosion. He blinks several times to restore himself to the present, mutters to himself.
   Sheriff: Gonna be one of those nights.
   The Deputy enters and immediately grows pale.
   Sheriff: If you're gonna heave, go outside. Don't taint...
   Too late. The Deputy spews into the red river. The Sheriff smirks, then grows compassionate.
   Sheriff: Not like it is in the movies, is it? You lost your innocence now. You got a close up of the savage side of life.
   The Deputy is leaning against the desk, gathering himself. A glimpse of the legs of the dead body behind the desk jolts him into recovery.
   Deputy: God, I know her. What is this?
   Sheriff: Hell. I saw it in 'nam.
   Deputy: That musta been fun.
   Sheriff: A barrel of laughs. At least it got me ready for this. Matter of fact, life's been kinda boring since then. Guess you can't hide forever. Better ring up the FBI. This's way over our heads. And don't touch anything.
   Deputy: You don't hafta worry about that.
   The Deputy leaves. The Sheriff enters the recreation area. Jeopardy is airing. Several inmates are slumped in their seats, apparently poisoned.
   Sheriff: Lord save us.
   He follows the river of blood, peers into the two rooms, winces at the sight. He experiences a flashback of severed heads impaled on long sticks. He shakes his head to chase the image.
   Sheriff: Damn.
   He approaches a door upon which a plate is affixed: Dr. Melvin Brooks, Chief of Staff. The Sheriff finds Dr. Brooks face down on his desk, an eyeball driven into a fountain pen resting in a stand. A pool of blood soaks the blotter. Beside his head rests a folder. Atop the folder sits a note. The Sheriff lifts and scans it. He notes a large X on the cover of the folder.
   “For the past year I've been treating select patients with various doses of a drug I developed, hoping, believing it would cure them. While the initial results were promising, the final results have proved disastrous and appear irreversible. The files of the five subjects are in the folder beside me. Rather than endure the inevitable scandal and humiliation that will ensue, I have chosen to take my life in the hope that Bates-Myers will be spared and be allowed to continue its vital service. I alone was responsible for this catastrophe. No one else knew of the experiment, although several of the staff had grown suspicious. I ask the forgiveness of my family, colleagues, friends, and the fine citizens of this community, who have been so supportive of our efforts.”
   Melvin Brooks
   Sheriff: Rest in peace, Doctor Moreau.
   The Deputy calls from the corridor.
   Sheriff: In here.
   The Deputy enters, leading the Titterer, who is cuffed. The Deputy's uniform is stained with mud and grass, the Titterer's smock with mud, grass, and blood.
   Deputy: I got him, Barney.
   The Titterer titters.
   Deputy: Chased him down outside the grounds.
   Sheriff: And people said you couldn't make a tackle if your life depended on it.
   The Deputy smirks, offended.
   Sheriff: What's your name, son?
   Titterer: Cody -- Cody Jarrett.
   The Sheriff raises an eyebrow.
   Sheriff: No, no, Ma, listen to me.
   The Titterer titters.
   Sheriff: A classic.
   Titterer: Personally, I prefer Red River.
   The Titterer raises an eyebrow. The Sheriff, who has gotten the quip, represses a smile.
   Sheriff: Nothin' like a man with wit.
   Titterer: The chemistry between Monty and the Duke is riveting, Michael.
   Sheriff: Been watchin' a lot of Sneak Previews?
   Titterer: It's our video find of the week, Roger.
   The Deputy is annoyed, puzzled.
   Deputy: What?
   Sheriff: My grandma always said watchin' too much TV'd make you nuts. Here's livin' proof. I imagine that's about all these people do here.
   Titterer: Not at all. We have wonderful arts and crafts.
   The Deputy looks at Dr. Brooks, grabs the Titterer by the smock.
   Deputy: Did you do that?
   Sheriff: Easy, Andy. Don't jump to conclusions.
   He hands him the suicide note. The Titterer, standing on his toes, reads over the Deputy's shoulder, tittering.
   Deputy: What a way to off yourself. Why not O.D. on pills? This place must be loaded with 'em.
   Sheriff: Maybe that's what he had in mind.
   He nods at a little bottle standing on the desk.
   Deputy: Somebody beat him to it?
   Titterer: Amazing Holmes!
   Sheriff: Elementary.
   He looks at the Titterer.
   Sheriff: Whatta you know 'bout this, guy?
   Titterer: Since he didn't kill himself, his soul is still eligible for the kingdom of heaven.
   Deputy: You're gettin' on my nerves, weirdo.
   The Titterer feigns fear. The Sheriff lifts the folder. Its edge is stained with blood. He looks at the first page, looks at the Titterer.
   Sheriff: You in here, son?
   The Titterer screws his face up in mock contemplation.
   Titterer: All mankind is.
   The Deputy raises a fist, resists the temptation to strike.
   Sheriff: Are you a philosopher? My grandpa said philosophers are loony.
   Titterer: I just finished Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. Fascinating. You should see our library.
   Sheriff: My Uncle Earl said readin' was worse for you than television.
   Deputy: Geez, Barney. You're gettin' loony yourself.
   Sheriff: Sorry, partner. Habit I picked up in 'nam. Our outfit felt like we had to joke to deal with it.
   Titterer: Of course -- black humor. Haven't you ever seen MASH?
   The Deputy stews.
   Sheriff: Funny how it came back to me so fast.
   He puts down the folder, takes the suicide note from the Deputy and places it atop the folder. He pauses, sniffs. The Titterer titters. The Deputy reacts defensively.
   Deputy: Don't look at me. It had to be him.
   The Sheriff looks at the Titterer, who smiles diabolically. He seizes a chair and hurls it against the lone window of the office. The glass shatters but the chair rebounds, as the window is barred. The Titterer howls with glee.
   Deputy: Are you crazy?
   Sheriff: Run!
   Deputy: What?
   The Sheriff seizes him by the arm, pulls him along.
   Sheriff: Run, dammit!
   The Deputy pulls at the Titterer. As the Sheriff reaches the door of the office, he   realizes he has left the folder and suicide note behind. He goes back for them. As he's running along the corridor, he slips on the river of blood and falls. The folder opens. The files scatter. The Deputy lets go of the Titterer and scrambles for the files. Files gathered, the officers race outside. The Sheriff kneels on the lawn and counts the files.
   Sheriff: Damn, one's missin'.
   The Deputy bolts toward the entrance.
   Sheriff: No, Andy, it's too dangerous!
   As the Deputy clears the doorway, the Titterer trips him. He tumbles head first along the river of blood, sliding along it. As luck would have it, he slides right to the missing file, which is stained with blood. He grabs it and heads for the exit. The Titterer blocks the way. The Deputy lowers his shoulder like a fullback. At the last instant the Titterer moves aside. The Deputy goes racing past him. The Titterer whirls about.
   Titterer: Top of the world, Ma!
   The explosion occurs as the Deputy is just outside the door. The force projects him into the air and onto the lawn, face down. Debris flies everywhere. Flames shoot throughout the building. The Sheriff looks up and has a flashback of a helicopter exploding. Coming back to the present, be crawls toward the Deputy. In the background, a lone, dark figure stands with his hands on his hips, watching the blaze, as if admiring it. The Sheriff covers the Deputy's body with his own. When the debris has stopped falling, he turns the Deputy over. The Deputy is clutching the file, which is torn in half. Dazed, he looks at the Sheriff.
   Deputy: I got it, Barney.
   A siren is heard approaching.
   Sheriff: Good job, partner. You looked like you did the night you scored your touchdown.
   Deputy: We shoulda won that game. Damn, Barney, we were the only senior class not to win a game. People still don't let us live it down. It's been ten years.
   Sheriff: Eleven. Some things you just have to learn to live with.
   The ambulance is heard stopping, its doors opening and closing.
   Sheriff: You hang on. Help's here.
   The attendants approach.
   Charley: Judas, Barney, what happened?
   Sheriff: Forget everything else and get Andy to a hospital.
   Charley: But there may be other people who need help.
   Sheriff: Dammit, Charley. Do what I tell ya. I don't want you wastin' a minute. I doubt anybody's alive in there, anyway.
    He hurries to the police car, shines a flashlight on the files, scans them.
William Castle: Pyromaniac.
Spec Richards: Serial Rapist.
Mary Shelley: Devil Worshipper. Animal sacrifice. Suspected of human sacrifice.
Jeffrey Bundy: Serial Killer.
George Romero: Paranoiac. Delusions of grandeur.

Both my screenplays are part of the Billonths of a Lifetime short works collection, the first link below.

My thanks to Ralph, who bought three works of non-fiction, and to the Hassidic gentleman who purchased a book on Beginner's Arabic.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:
Read Vic's Stories, free:

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