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And he suddenly gasps! RUSSELL LASSARD'S eyes snap open and he sucks in air, his body leaping forward, awake. INT. SUV - DAY Russ is in the passenger seat. His wife Clara is behind the wheel. She turns to him. CLARA Are you okay? Do you need your pills? Russ wipes his eyes. RUSS No. I'm fine. Where are we? CLARA Just left St. Louis. We're not far. Long moment. Russ seems confused. Heavy eyes. EXT. ROAD - DAY The SUV blows past us. We stay. Look up at the sign they've just passed. Little Rock 220 miles FADE TO BLACK. EXT. GAS STATION - AFTERNOON Russ pumps gas as Clara approaches from the station. She speaks with a slight southern accent. CLARA I got you a Coke. RUSS Thanks. He finishes off. Clara climbs in the drivers side. RUSS (cont'd) I need to use the restroom. CLARA Okay. He wanders away. INT. GAS STATION RESTROOM - AFTERNOON God vomited here. It's disgusting, not in the way most sketchy gas station bathrooms are disgusting. It reeks. Pours grey and filth across the screen. Russ flips a switch and a florescent light flashes. He stands before the sink and stares at his reflection in the mirror. Pale. Blue eyes read grey like the walls. Frowns. Tosses water on his face. He stares in the mirror again. The lights snap off, then on again. A low buzz, faint, in the background. Russ closes his eyes. Rubs them with his hands. The frightening figure of a TEENAGE GIRL, bloodied and bruised, is seen standing right behind him. Russ opens his eyes. Sees the girl in the mirror. Stares. She... smiles. Blood drips from her lips... Russ is motionless. Just stares. And a moment later... she is gone. Russ rubs his eyes again. No sound but water dripping... leaking and moving in the room. INT. SUV - AFTERNOON Russ blankly stares ahead. A MINIVAN passes them; in the back seat a SIX YEAR OLD GIRL presses her face out of the back window. Pulls back. Smiles. Waves. Blows a kiss. Russ catches it. Brings his hand to his lips. The Minivan speeds ahead. The car and the child disappear in the horizon. CLARA A cute thing. Russ sighs. CLARA (cont'd) It will get better. Russ nods. Russ turns away. Gazes out the passenger window. EXT. HIGHWAY - AFTERNOON An oil paint vanilla sky above shadowy rolling hills. Below, an explosion of color from dense dogwoods that swallow their surroundings. EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD - DUSK Gliding down from above... to GRAND BLUFFS towering above the Arkansas river... past a clearing at the top... Then a thick forest... past it... to a pretty, serene neighborhood of white homes topped by dark grey shingles. The Legend Appears: Mayflower, Arkansas EXT. HOME - DUSK The SUV slows to a stop before a small but beautiful century old home. But this place has been kept up. Nurtured by loving owners. Clara and Russ step from the car. They stand side by side as they stare at the house. CLARA All right, Professor... who was it said you can't go home again? RUSS Thomas Wolfe. CLARA Well... he was wrong. Clara smiles. INT. HOME - DUSK Russ and Clara scan their new surroundings. BOXES fill empty spaces... but for the most part the furniture is arranged, and surprisingly clean. Russ moves slowly through the house. RUSS Everything is here. CLARA Hmm? RUSS All of our things... the movers set everything up. CLARA I was very specific. RUSS But everything. It's as-- CLARA --As it should be, Russ. She crosses to him and touches his arm. CLARA (cont'd) Don't fret. We're home. Russ nods. She releases and heads to the kitchen. Russ' eyes sweep the room once again. Hands glide to a box that... is not sealed... but closed by folding the four sides over each other. FADE TO BLACK. EXT. HOME - DAY A Saturday. Russ slides a rake against the lawn, gathering the amber and cherry maple leaves into a pile. The neighborhood is teaming with PEOPLE doing the same. Chatter is white noise. Lawn mowers mow. Children laugh. People shout "how-yal" at each other. It is a beautiful day. Russ actually smiles as he takes it all in. Not a bad place for a place you never imagined you'd live. He takes a step forward toward the driveway. DOWN THE STREET-- a YOUNG WOMAN on a bike glides by. Her head turns to Russ. Russ smiles to her. The young woman smiles back. Russ loses the smile... when he spots... IN A WINDOW ACROSS THE STREET-- a FIGURE, in black, peering out. Eyes white. No pupils. Those eyes follow the Young Woman on the bike as she pedals out of frame. Russ feels dizzy. Loses his balance. Suddenly falls forward, SLAMMING his head onto the driveway. Blood seeps. He continues to stare at the strange figure across the street. The figure... that in a moment... disappears. Russ continues to bleed. The world starts to blur, as now another FIGURE rushes forward from the distance. Eyelids flutter as he tries to keep his eyes open; a battle he quickly loses. FADE TO BLACK. INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY Blackness. The SOUND of rapid gunfire. Russ opens his eyes and sees the plump, full face of DR. JIM PRATHER hovers above him. Russ wonders for a moment where... no, he's home. On his couch. DR. PRATHER He's awake. Russ's eyes drift over to the-- TELEVISION-- soldiers in the desert. A news report from Iraq. Bodies in the street. Prather follows Russ's glance to the TV. Then back to Russ. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) Awful, now, isn't it? Russ says nothing. Drags his eyes over Dr. Prather-- a stout frame. Older. Sixties maybe. Soft features. Looks like a grandfather. Except for the blood, Russ's blood, soaking, still wet, on his white button down shirt. Clara crosses into the room with a bag of ice and a towel. She pushes out a heavy sigh. CLARA Oh, thank goodness, Russ! You scared the wits out of me. Jim, do we need to take him to the hospital? DR. PRATHER I don't think so. His eyes are fine. No concussion, I think. I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty of stitching you up myself while you were sleeping. Took quite a nasty fall, Russ. RUSS (confused) I... I must have tripped on something. CLARA Russ, you are so lucky that Jim here saw you fall. You might have bled to death! DR. PRATHER I don't think that was really a concern. The ice, you should rest that on his noggin. RUSS I'm sorry, who are you? Clara sets the icepack on his head and tisks: CLARA Now, Russ. That's not polite. DR. PRATHER Quite okay, Clara. I'm Doctor Jim Prather, Russ. Your neighbor... and an old friend of Clara's family. CLARA My daddy and Jim had a practice together for years. Thick as thieves the two of them were. Russ tries to sit up. Head pounds. He groans and Dr. Prather helps settle him back. DR. PRATHER I'd stay still for a little longer. Some aspirin. Take two and call me in the morning. Russ is bewildered. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) That's a joke, Russ. Give it a few more hours before you get up. I'm serious about the aspirin, though. Might need more than two. Russ stares at Prather's blood soaked shirt. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) Don't worry. Looks worse than it is. Prather stands. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) Fact, I best go home and change. Watch your step next time, Russ. There's roots stickin' out all over the yard. Clara, nice to have you back. CLARA Thank you so much, Jim. She plants a kiss on his cheek. DR. PRATHER (nodding) Russ. RUSS Thank you. DR. PRATHER I'll come back and check on you when you're in a less... prostrate position. Clara sees him out. Russ reaches up and feels the bandage wrapped around his head. Is stuck with the image of Dr. Prather, bloodied shirt, hovering above. He closes his eyes. FADE TO BLACK. INT. MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT Russ's eyes slowly open. He is unsure for a moment where he is. Slowly turns and sees Clara fast asleep beside him. He takes in the silence. Then... starts to hear a faint, soft voice from somewhere in the house. He draws the covers down and glides out of bed. Heads for the bedroom door. The sweet voice of a young child is louder now. He makes out the words. A hundred year old child's folk song: CHILD'S VOICE (O.C.) (sing-song) The man around the corner swore he'd kill the cat on sight... He loaded up his shotgun with nails and dynamite... Russ moves into the hallway INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY Russ inches through the dark hallway. The voice... is louder now. CHILD'S VOICE (O.C.) He waited and he waited for the cat to come around... Ninety seven pieces of the man is all they found... But the cat came back the very next day. The cat came back, we thought he was a goner... He approaches a bedroom. The light is on... INT. CLARA'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS His 16 year old daughter Samantha stands in the center of her room. She is the figure from the bathroom, soaked in blood. Samantha strokes a stuffed animal painting red into the fur. She sings the song, apparently unaware of Russ's presence. SAMANTHA (still singing) They tied a rope around its neck, it must have weighed a pound. Now they drag the river for a little boy that's drowned. But the cat came back the very next day... RUSS Princess? Samantha stops petting the stuffed animal. Slowly turns. She smiles. SAMANTHA Hi, daddy. She stands and takes a step toward him. SAMANTHA (cont'd) I've missed you. RUSS I've missed you too. Samantha sets the stuffed animal down. She stands, slowly. Almost floats across the room to Russ. Stares at him a moment. SAMANTHA You have to follow me. RUSS Follow you where? Frowns. She points beyond him. He slowly turns. Light blinds his eyes. He flinches. The SOUND of SHRIEKING TIRES. A car horn BLARES! SMASH TO BLACK. INT. BEDROOM - MORNING Russ's eyes snap open. He is back in bed. As if nothing had happened. Sweat pours down his face. He wipes it away and lifts himself out of bed. The sun blares through an open window. INT. SHOWER - MORNING Russ closes his eyes and lets the water crash against his face. He sighs. Rubs the water out of his eyes. He stands straight and grabs the soap. Draws it across his body. Fingers a SCAR ON HIS CHEST. He remembers the crash. The last memory he really has... Russell Lassard closes his eyes. FADE TO BLACK. EXT. THE BLUFFS - MORNING High above the river. A beautiful view. This morning... a crime scene. POLICE and DETECTIVES mill about the truck. A WHITE SHEET is covering a body. INT. CAR - MORNING DETECTIVE WILLIAM REECE is feeling his age this morning as the car he pilots drives up to the bluffs. He is in his middle fifties. He lets out a sigh. Stops the car and surveys the scene before him with tired eyes. DET. REECE Christ... He sighs again and then leans over and cracks open the glove box. INSIDE: a notebook, and a half drunk pint bottle of Jack Daniels. He grabs the notebook and slips through the pages. Scanning them: "August, 2004, rail yard, dead girl, one shot. October, 2005, riverbank, dead girl, one shot. August, 2006, cotton field, dead girl, one shot." Reece plucks a pen from his shirt pocket and writes in the notebook: "September, 2007, bluffs, dead girl, one shot." He places the notebook back in the glove box and we now see what the shot is that he has referred to. He grabs the pint bottle. Reaches under the passenger seat and produces a shot glass. Carefully pours himself a shot. Downs it. Feels the burn. Coughs. Puts all away and steps out of the car. EXT. THE BLUFFS - MORNING Det. Reece walks up next to a fellow DETECTIVE STEVE CARLIN, already taking notes. DET. CARLIN Small town ain't supposed to get used to this. DET. REECE Ain't no such thing anymore, Steve. And it don't matter much. Anyone gets used to this got dealings in a darker place. (beat) Strangled? Carlin nods. Bends down and lifts the sheet: A beautiful young woman turning blue. Red marks across her neck. Red blotches on her blue eyes. DET. CARLIN It's-- DET. REECE --Paige Hopkins. Anybody tell her family yet? Carlin shakes his head. DET. REECE (cont'd) Damnit. DET. CARLIN Her bike's over there. Must-a been up on the trail when it happened. Reece stares down at the girl. His face is blank. DET. REECE I tell you I had a dream we caught this som-bitch, Steve? DET. CARLIN Yeah? DET. REECE Shot the bastard dead. DET. CARLIN That so? DET. REECE Yep... Reece covers the body and stands. DET. REECE (cont'd) Won the lottery too. DET. CARLIN How much? DET. REECE Ah, just a little scratcher ticket. 25 bucks. (beat) Fuckin' dreams. EXT. CHURCH - LATE MORNING Christ Army Southern Baptist. White steeple straight out of the past. People funnel into the archway below the keystone "Est. 1897". Russ and Clara approach. He looks uncomfortable in a suit and tie. She, relaxed in a pretty white cotton dress and flowered hat. RUSS I can't believe you're making me do this. She swats his arm. CLARA Hush! I hope no one heard that. Look, you don't go to services on Sunday, might as well not talk to anyone all week. It's required. Russ smiles. Eyes sweep over the other Parishioners as they enter. Notices EYES on him. Random. An OLDER WOMAN, a YOUNGER MAN... glances... momentary stares. Makes him itch. INT. CHURCH - MORNING (LATER) Air conditioning, a sin; lining the pews, a packed crowd. Men sweat, ladies glisten and a balding, older PASTOR smiles from the alter. He speaks in a loud, booming voice that requires no audio enhancement; they can hear him in the next county. PASTOR Good morning, brothers and sisters. Mutters of "good morning" back. The Pastor begins to pace. His tone is condescending. His eyes, condemning, narrowed, sweeping the seats; sinners, all of them. PASTOR (cont'd) Glad you could all make it. For our message this morning... is wickedness. And I do know how you all like... wickedness. Instantly shamed, the Flock nod. Russ shifts uncomfortably. Beside him, Clara is nodding. The flamboyant Pastor continues. The sermon punctuated by "Amen!" from the Flock. PASTOR (cont'd) I know. Your eyes betray you. But you're thinking it. Everywhere you go. Joe Bean's Market. The 76 gas station. The lie-brary. (dramatic pause) I see... the magazines they sell. The books they burnish. The booze they ballyhoo-- (dramatic pause) Out there in the world... there is sin and fornication. Blood... and fear. And we must do everything we can to protect this town from the sins of the outside world! (beat) For he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication! And hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand! Russ is sweating hard. Looks across the aisle and two rows up... he spots Dr. Prather. Feeling the eyes on him... Dr. Prather... slowly turns his head. And smiles back. Russ averts his eyes. INT. SUV - MORNING (DRIVING) Russ and Clara drive together in silence. After a few moments... CLARA It was a powerful sermon, don't ya think? RUSS Well, I was frightened. So it appears to have achieved its goal. CLARA Did you take anything from it? RUSS You know I don't buy into that stuff, Clara. More silence. CLARA Well, I think it had great meaning. Peace and gentleness. Love and forgiveness. Those are the ways to live. RUSS I suppose. Another beat of silence. RUSS (cont'd) Your friend Dr. Prather. He was there today alone. CLARA Of course. RUSS Is he married? CLARA He was. His wife Haley passed on, what, five years ago. Cancer. Very sad. She was a nice woman. Russ furrows his brow. Yet another beat of silence. CLARA (cont'd) How are you feeling? Maybe you should think about taking one more semester off. RUSS I need to get back to work. It'll do me good. Clara's eyes are unsure. EXT. HOUSE - AFTERNOON A car glides into frame, coming to a stop outside a pretty A frame house. Detectives Reece and Carlin emerge and head to the front door. EXT. HOUSE - FRONT DOOR - CONTINUOUS Reece presses the doorbell. A few moments later, a middle aged man, JIM HOPKINS appears. His face, resigned to bad news. DET. REECE Jim. Sorry to trouble you this evening. But we have some bad news. JIM HOPKINS It's Paige, isn't it? DET. REECE I'm afraid so. Jim Hopkins nods. DET. CARLIN We'll need you to come with us down to Little Rock to identify the body. JIM HOPKINS Okay. Can I... may I meet you there. I'll have to tell the wife. DET. REECE Tell her what? JIM HOPKINS That Paige's been murdered. DET. REECE But I didn't say that. JIM HOPKINS But that's why you're here, right? I mean, what else are you here for, Bill? Jesus Christ. DET. CARLIN Settle down, Jim. JIM HOPKINS No! I won't settle down! Goddamnit, Steve, this ain't supposed to happen! DET. CARLIN We'll see you downtown in a bit, Jim. Bill, lets go. Reece stares at Jim Hopkins a moment. Turns away and follows Carlin to the car. DET. REECE That ain't right, Steve. DET. CARLIN He's in shock. Let it be. They get back in the car. INT. DETECTIVE'S CAR - NIGHT (DRIVING) Carlin is behind the wheel. Reece shotgun. Reece sighs. Rubs his eyes. DET. CARLIN You okay, Bill? DET. REECE Yeah, I suppose. (beat) Mama's not doin' too good. Silence. DET. CARLIN Not good, huh? DET. REECE Nah. Could be just a matter of days. She just sleeps most of the time. I get home and sit at her bed and talk to her. She just listens. Can't muster the strength to talk, I suppose. Silence. DET. CARLIN Sorry about that, Bill. DET. REECE Shoot. That's life, I guess. We all gotta go sometime. Silence. DET. CARLIN I suppose. EXT. REECE'S HOME - NIGHT The Detective's car slows to a stop outside a small house on another tree lined street. INT. DETECTIVE'S CAR - NIGHT DET. REECE Thanks for the ride, Steve. DET. CARLIN I'll see you tomorrow. Detective Reece gets out of the car. Carlin watches as he heads to the front door. Cracks open a cell phone and dials. DET. CARLIN (cont'd) (into phone) Hey... its Steve Carlin. We need to talk. (beat) Because I can't do this again. FADE TO BLACK. EXT. HIGH SCHOOL PARKING LOT - DAWN The SUV slows to the front of the school. Only one or two other cars parked. Fog settles low. Russ gets out of the passenger side. Clara rolls down the window. CLARA When do you want me to pick you up? RUSS I'll take a taxi. CLARA I don't mind. RUSS I know. He leans over and plants a quick kiss on her cheek. Pulls away and heads to the front door of the school. Clara watches him. EXT. MAYFLOWER HIGH SCHOOL - MORNING A crowd of students flush forward. Chatting and yelling. They break like a wave, split apart to leave one young woman, long, blond-haired 17 year old CAMERYN BECK standing, clutching her books to her chest. She looks up at the banner: Welcome Class of '11 She uneasily steps forward. A look of sadness on her face. INT. CLASSROOM - MORNING Russ stands at the front of an empty classroom. His right hand is shaking. He settles it with his left. Makes a fist. Then slowly releases. He settles his breathing. Nerve ends on fire. The bell rings. Moments later STUDENTS stream into the room. Most casting unfamiliar eyes over their new teacher. Russ tries his best to smile and nod to each of them. Keeps his hands in his pockets. The students settle into the desks. Russ scans the room. The young faces stare back at him. Russ glances down at an attendance list: RUSS Amy Anderson... Each student responds "Here" as he continues down the list. Until... RUSS (cont'd) Paige Hopkins. Silence. An empty desk. RUSS (cont'd) Paige Hopkins? A young woman by the name of SALLY raises her hand. SALLY Sir? RUSS Yes? SALLY Paige is... not here. Anymore. Russ's eyes narrow. INT. LIBRARY - LATER FINGERS glide across a row of yearbooks. Stop. Pluck one from the shelf. AT A DESK-- The yearbook slaps to the wood and the same set of hands crack it open, flipping through the pages until it settles on a bank of photos, color. Fingers drift... to one. "Paige Hopkins" Russ stares at the photo. FLASH TO-- The Young Woman riding the bike down the street before his yard. Moments before he collapsed on the driveway. He watches her glide along. So do the white eyes tucked away behind the window across the street. FLASH BACK TO Russ closes the yearbook. Face pales. INT. SCHOOL BATHROOM Russ unloads his breakfast into a toilet. He chokes. After a moment he steadies himself, leaves the stall and makes it to the sink. Splashes cold water on his face. Begins to relax again. Flops to the floor. VOICE (O.S.) You okay, pal? Russ wipes his face. Looks up to see STEVE SHULLER, a man about his age, paunchy, beard, tweed jacket. RUSS I'm fine. Shuller helps him to his feet. Russ is anything but steady. SHULLER You're the new guy, eh? From Chicago? 19th Century Lit? RUSS Russ Lassard. SHULLER Steven Shuller. History. A pleasure. (beat) Classes been cancelled. We got the day off, Russ. Wanna get some lunch? (beat) Seeing as you've lost yours. Russ nods. RUSS Sure. FADE TO BLACK. A WEDDING RING SPINS on oak. After a few moments... a hand slaps it flat. Fingers raise it to its side again and twist, sending the thing spinning again. And again, thwaps it flat. INT. "THE FADED ROSE" - DAY Small little Cajun place. Dark. Russ sits alone at a table. Shuller is over at the bar, ordering a couple scotches. Russ stares at the wedding ring a moment. And the engraving inside: "TO RUSS, MY FOREVER. LOVE, CLARA" He sets it back on his finger. Shuller returns, walks with a very noticeable limp. Steve places the drink in front of Russ. Takes a seat. SHULLER Liquid lunch, then. Russ doesn't protest. Takes a sip. RUSS The student who was killed-- SHULLER --Paige Hopkins. RUSS She was in my class. SHULLER Mine too. Cute girl. Developed early so she was a hit with the boys. Very popular. Russ cringes a little. Quickly shakes it off. RUSS I saw her. The first weekend after I moved here. She was riding her bike past my house. (beat) Do you know what happened? Shuller nods. Drinks. SHULLER No one's told you yet, huh? RUSS Apparently not. Shuller sighs. The room is eerily quiet. SHULLER The Monster. That's what they call it. Eyes in the room dart over, barely noticeable. Someone has uttered unmentionable words. Shuller, it seems, could care less. RUSS The Monster... SHULLER More like serial killer. Course, we ain't used to such things in a small town like this. Least... not when it started. RUSS This has happened before? SHULLER Five years ago. Found the body of a girl down by the railyards. Strangled. That was the first one. It has since become a very extended encore performance. Always the same way-- FLASH TO-- A YOUNG WOMAN lies partially covered under a sheet in a field. RED MARKS on her neck. FLASH BACK TO SCENE-- SHULLER (cont'd) ...always the same targets. Young women. Shuller stops and scans the room. Eyes that had been watching him quickly find other focus. Shuller smiles. RUSS Has anyone contacted the FBI? A serial killer? Why have I never heard of-- SHULLER --Things don't work like that in Mayflower, Russ. We are not your average community. Just you wait. You'll see. (beat) This town has secrets, Russ. RUSS Yeah? And what are those? Shuller gulps down the last of his drink and leans back. Scans the room one more time and says, maybe a little too loudly... SHULLER Damned if I know. Won't nobody tell me. No matter how many times I ask. Shuller: a Cheshire smile stretches his face. INT. "THE FADED ROSE" - LATER Now five or six empty glasses before each man. RUSS I think I may be drunk. Shuller nods. SHULLER Russ, that is a distinct possibility. THE FRONT DOOR-- of the Faded Rose opens and Clara appears. CLARA Russell? Russ turns back to see his wife. RUSS Clara! Come join us! CLARA Shame on you! I've been worried sick. RUSS Clara, this is Steven Shuller. He teaches history and scotch. On the rocks. SHULLER (tipping an invisible hat) Ma'am. CLARA (to Russ) You're drunk. RUSS That is a distinct possibility. CLARA (stern) Come home with me right now. RUSS Clara, sit. Have a drink with us. We're just-- CLARA --Now! Silence. Russ stares at her. Then slowly nods. RUSS Steve... thanks for the company. SHULLER See you tomorrow. Clara leads a slightly stumbling Russ outside. EXT. "THE FADED ROSE" - PARKING LOT - EVENING Clara continues to lead Russ toward their SUV. CLARA I heard what happened, the girl, and I was worried for you and I was waiting and-- RUSS I'm sorry. CLARA You can't carry on this way. It's not right for a teacher. You have to be a good example. This isn't Chicago. RUSS What does that mean? CLARA Exactly what I said! She stops. Turns to him. Kisses his cheek and settles her hand on his shoulder. CLARA (cont'd) I worry. I'm sorry. I can't live without you. Now more than ever. You understand that, don't you? Russ nods. CLARA (cont'd) Lets go home. INT. HOME - KITCHEN - NIGHT Russ stands at the sink drinking a large glass of water. Clara stuffs some garbage into a pail. CLARA Russell. RUSS Hmm? CLARA Will you take out this garbage please? He sets down the glass. Waits a moment. Squints his eyes. CLARA (cont'd) Russell? RUSS Yes, Clara. I will. EXT. HOME - NIGHT Along side the house, Russ carries the trash to the plastic containers tucked back in the shadows. Rustling. He stops. Waits. More sound... coming from the dark. From behind one of the containers. He inches forward. Crunch... the sound of biting. Russ glances over his shoulder. Then back. Another step. A hiss... Russ takes a step back as... a RACCOON scampers from behind the container. Russ relaxes. Of course. RUSS Shoo. Get out of here. The raccoon ignores him. Stares at him. Russ suddenly feels unsettled. RUSS (cont'd) Get lost! The raccoon hisses again.... AND IS SUDDENLY SNAPPED UP by a hand that darts out from behind the trash containers. A squeal and SNAP! The animal is silent. Russ drops the trash bag and STUMBLES backward tripping over himself. WHOOSH!!!-- Something flashes past him. Russ catches his breath and slowly stands. Moves to the front of the house and stares... at the home across the street. Dr. Prather's home. A light is on in a downstairs window. Russ squints his eyes. Catches flashes of a shadow through the window. Hears the CLANKING of metal. Then, just as suddenly, the light shuts off. Russ is washed in moonlight. It is eerily still. INT. HOME - NIGHT Russ closes the front door behind him. Clara is standing at the top of the stairs. CLARA Is everything all right? RUSS Losing my fuckin' mind, Clara. Other than that, its peaches. Russ moves out of frame as Clara stares down. Eyes track his every movement. INT. CLASSROOM - DAY Russ reads "Porphyria's Lover" to his class. Paces the room, a text in his hands. RUSS The rain set early in tonight... the sullen wind was soon awake... It tore the elm tops down for spite... And did it's worst to vex the lake... Russ pauses and stares at the CLASS. They look back at him. Every eye on him. The attention, rapt, is a little unsettling. All eyes but one set; set at the center of the room... young Cameryn Beck is staring at her desk. A notepad. Scribbling. Of what, we yet cannot see. Russ continues. RUSS (cont'd) Which done, she rose, and from her form... withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl... And laid her soiled gloves by, untied her hat and let the damp hair fall... Russ pauses again. At a once empty desk in the back, now a blood soaked Samantha sits. She smiles. Russ blinks. Begins to pace the room. Continues. AS HE IS SPEAKING: we begin to see what Cameryn is scribbling in her notebook. A picture of a woman in a pretty floral dress. Behind her, taking shape with each stroke of Cameryn's pencil, a man... reaching out to the lady before him. RUSS (cont'd) She put my arm about her waist... And made her smooth white shoulder bare... And all her yellow hair displaced... And, stooping, made my cheek lie there. And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair... AS HE IS SPEAKING: The bloodied figure of Samantha slowly stands from her desk. Russ glances up as she continues to smile and move unnoticed down the aisle, approaching the center of the classroom. RUSS (cont'd) ...Porphyria worshiped me: surprise made my heart swell, and still it grew... while I debated what to do. That moment she was mine, mine, fair... Perfectly pure and good... Samantha, a trail of blood left from her seat, now stands behind young Cameryn Beck. The picture in her notebook is almost complete. We see the man now in the drawing is not reaching out for the woman. But strangling her. AS HE IS SPEAKING: Samantha draws together Cameryn's long blonde hair in her hands. Twists slowly into a thick rope. Cameryn continues to scribble. The specter unnoticed still. RUSS (cont'd) ...I found a thing to do... and all her hair... in one long yellow string I wound... Three times her little throat around... And strangled her... No pain felt she-- I am quite sure she felt no pain... He looks up... Samantha... smiles. Blood runs from her mouth... staining Cameryn's hair. Russ drops the book. It SLAMS onto the floor with a thunderous boom. The class is silent. Cameryn Beck looks up from her drawing. She is clean. Samantha is gone. RUSS (cont'd) I'm sorry. A moment of silence. Then, Russ flinches as the BELL suddenly SCREAMS OUT and the Students rise. Filter out. All... but one. A YOUNG MAN lingers behind. He drags his feet toward Russ, eyeing the room suspiciously. RUSS (cont'd) Can I help you, Peter? Peter slowly reaches into his pocket... and pulls out... A folded PIECE OF PAPER. Without saying a word, he rushes out of the room. Russ watches him go. Looks down at the piece of paper. Unfolds it. Stares at the words, scribbled hastily: Get out Russ folds the paper up. Puts it in the waste basket. Muscles in his face tighten. EXT. HIGH SCHOOL - PARKING LOT - AFTERNOON A flood of STUDENTS fill the front, strangely quiet. Moving silently in various directions. The end of the school day though you'd hardly know it. RUSS exits the front doors and waits at the curb. His eyes scan the Students; register the lack of chatter. His eyes then lock on one car, about a hundred yards across the lot. CAMERYN BECK is crying and arguing with SOMEONE in a car. Russ cannot see who. After a moment... the person in the car gets out. It is Dr. Prather. Cameryn shakes her head. Dr. Prather shouts something to her and points at the car. She protests. He insists. She relents. Gets in the car. Russ watches it all. INT. LIVING ROOM - EVENING The house is dark. Russ moves slowly through the silence, the creak of the wood paneled floor squeak faint as he searches out the lone light coming from the kitchen. INT. KITCHEN - EVENING Clara sits at the kitchen table nursing a cup of tea and flipping through an old scrapbook. Russ approaches and Clara looks up to him. CLARA Well hello. Was today a better day? He says nothing. Clara twirls a lock of her hair and looks down at the scrapbook. RUSS What's this? CLARA I found it on the shelf. She turns the page and points to a picture: Clara as a child with her parents on a white sand beach. CLARA (cont'd) This one here... it's a trip we took down to Gulf Shores. They call that the "Redneck Riviera". I was about four years old, I'm guessin'. He glances at the picture: Clara the child running on the beach, in motion, the left leg kicked back. A smile frozen on her face. Russ matches the smile. CLARA (cont'd) They look so young, don't they? RUSS They do. CLARA You never think about your parents not being there when you're that little. Later I worried about it all the time. Did I ever tell you what I used to do? RUSS What? CLARA From about the age of fifteen... I used to do the math in my head. I would say to myself, I am 15 and my daddy is 37. So, if he lives to be 97, that's 60 years and... I'll be... 75. 75 before I lose them. Before I have to say goodbye. That's what I used to do. For years. (beat) Later, I would read the obituary page and minus the age of the dead person against my parents. A moment. Her smile fades away. RUSS (softly) Why would you do that? CLARA To know how much time I had left with them. Russ stands close. Rests a hand on her shoulder. CLARA (cont'd) I wonder... if Samantha did that about us. A long, silent moment. CLARA (cont'd) Look at me, now. This is so foolish, of course. She closes the picture album and stands. Smiles again. CLARA (cont'd) I'll make you dinner. I bet you're hungry. She stands and crosses to the refrigerator. Russ opens the scrapbook and flips through a few pages. Back to the photograph of Clara as a child. Raises a finger to her face and caresses the paper. Sees his daughter's eyes. INT. MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT A rumble of distant thunder rattles Russ from sleep. He waits a moment under covers as light begins to flash from without. Russ slowly climbs out of bed. He crosses to the BATHROOM and pours himself a glass of water. Thunder CRASHES outside. He crosses back into the bedroom. To a window. He looks out. A FLASH OF LIGHTNING reveals... something. A shadow, maybe. Russ is not afraid for some reason. He is drawn to it. INT. STAIRWAY - NIGHT Russ slowly descends as the storm picks up intensity beyond the walls. He is at once frightened and yet thrilled by the noise and darkness. He reaches the bottom of the stairs. Turns toward the front door. EXT. HOME - NIGHT Waves of rain wash over Russ as he leaves the house-- drawn, it feels, by the amazing storm. He moves to the street, now drenched. Looks up at the sky. This is God's version of shock and awe: lightning pops behind clouds like bombs blasting, each one booming and crackling. A stunning light show. He lowers his eyes from the sky... to the street. Freezes. Thirty yards before him-- a scary silhouette. A figure washed in darkness, stands with arms at its side. The entire figure remains in shadow. Only the white glow of eyes are visible. Then... teeth. And under the thunder... a growl. Russ is paralyzed by fear. His eyes remain locked on the Creature. Suddenly the Creature darts left-- moves with lightning speed. A flash; it's gone. Russ stands there, still frozen. After a moment the feeling returns to his body. He slowly backs up. Turns. In a flash, the Creature appears again. Across the street. It growls. Slowly backs up. Russ squints, tries, but can't make out any of its features. Again, the figure whips away. Disappears into storm doors at the house directly across the street. Prather's house. He hears the thing knock through things in the basement. Russ breathes. One that makes it seem like he's been holding it forever. Now the breaths come sharp and deep. He stares at the house. All is now silent. Russ begins to panic. Turns and races back inside his home. Forgets to close the front door. INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT Russ rifles through a drawer. Finds a bottle of pills. Downs six of them. Grabs a half empty bottle of vodka and chases them down. Breathing slowly becomes shallow again. Thunder crashes. Sounds of a heartbeat. The power snaps off. Dead. Darkness shaded only by moonlight and the occasional flash of lightning. Russ sucks in sharp breaths every few seconds. We see him only in flashes as he moves slowly through the kitchen. Thunder crashes. Sounds of a heartbeat. Lightning flash. Something is in here with him... RUSS Please... let this be... a nightmare. Mostly blind, Russ moves forward, heeling out with his hands. Anticipating with every second... something else before him. Sharper breaths. Thunder crashes. Sounds of a heartbeat. He feels around the counters for something. A weapon. A knife. He finds... a spatula. Lightning flash. For a moment the Creature is before him. Every muscle in his body tightens. He falls back, slamming against the vodka bottle and sending it CRASHING to the ground. The power returns. Light returns. The kitchen is empty. Russ is on the ground beside the broken bottle. Spatula in hand. He exhales. Closes his eyes. INT. MASTER BEDROOM - MORNING Russ shoots awake. Wonders for a moment where he is. Wonders if it was another dream. Another hallucination. He slowly climbs out of bed. Crosses to the bathroom. INT. STAIRWAY - MORNING Russ moves slowly down the stairs. Catches the scent of something in the air. INT. LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS Notices the source of the smell. A fire in the fireplace. RUSS Clara? CLARA (O.S.) I'm in the kitchen! INT. KITCHEN - MORNING Russ takes a seat at the table as Clara cooks breakfast. RUSS Why are you running a fire? CLARA It's cold this morning. I could barely sleep last night. That's the climate here. Hot in the day, freezing at night. (beat) How'd you sleep? Russ rubs his eyes. RUSS Nightmare. EXT. HOME - MORNING Dressed for work, Russ closes the front door, briefcase in hand. A taxi is waiting out front. He hurries to it... but keeps his eyes locked on... the house across the street. EXT. WOODS - MORNING An OLD MAN walks his dog along a path through the woods. His dog begins to bark at something just past the lane. Pulls its owner toward it. The Old Man tugs at the leash but relents when he spots... the hand... of a young woman. As he steps closer... we see her face. It is Cameryn Beck. Lifeless. Eyes open. Red marks on her neck. OLD MAN Christ. Why me? He tugs his dog away from the body and continues down the path. INT. PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE - MORNING Detectives Reece and Carlin stand to the side of the Principal's desk as Russ enters the room. PRINCIPAL Hey, Russ. Have a seat. This is Detective Bill Reece and Detective Steve Carlin. Old hunting buddies of mine. They're just askin' everybody a few questions. RUSS Okay. DET. REECE Did you ever meet Paige Hopkins? RUSS She was supposed to be in my class. DET. REECE Before that at all? Russ shakes his head. PRINCIPAL Russ is new here. Just started this week. DET. REECE I figured. Welcome. Where'd you come to us from? RUSS Chicago. DET. REECE Chicago? Big City Man. Must be quite a change of pace. We don't even got one professional sports team. (beat) What's that on your head, Russ? Russ reaches up and feels the stitches. RUSS I fell. On my driveway. Detective Reece raises an eyebrow. A silent moment. DET. REECE Well, since you're a recent arrival we won't trouble you too much. Paige was a good girl, of course. But she did like to consort with boys. RUSS Well, she's a teenager. DET. REECE And they talk. And teachers hear things. You ever hear anything? RUSS About what? DET. REECE (to Carlin) They speak a different language up there in Chicago? RUSS Look, I don't know what to tell you. I never met the girl. But if I hear anything... I'll let you know. Reece's eyes narrow. Sweep across Russ. He picks up a file in his hand and scans it. DET. REECE Says here you were recently in the hospital. RUSS I'm sorry. I thought this was about Paige Hopkins. DET. CARLIN Easy now, son. RUSS Are we done? DET. REECE Sure, Russ. Russ turns and leaves. His hand... suddenly trembling. Reece looks to Carlin. DET. REECE (cont'd) Not by a longshot, I reckon. Carlin rubs his eyes. Shakes his head. INT. HIGH SCHOOL - HALLWAY Russ heads from the front office into the main artery of the building where STUDENTS are gathered in groups. Some sobbing. In fact, it appears EVERYONE in the school is packed into the hallway, murmuring. Crying. Detectives Reece and Carlin suddenly brush past Russ, hurriedly making toward the exit. Russ is confused. GRABS a passing STUDENT by the arm. RUSS What's happened? The Student looks at Russ with terror in her eyes. Too frightened to say anything. Russ releases her. She races away. He spots Steven Shuller near the entrance to the auditorium. He is consoling a FEMALE STUDENT. She is crying. He gives her a hug. Holds her tight. His hand patting her lower back... sweeping a little too far down. They break and exchange a few more words... then she waves and wanders away. Russ furrows his brow. Crosses to Shuller. RUSS (cont'd) What the hell is going on? SHULLER Struck again. Another student. RUSS Who? SHULLER Cameryn Beck. Think she's in your class. Least... she was. The name hits Russ like a tornado. He sees her face. He sees her being strangled in his classroom. Shuller (cont'd) Wanna go get a drink? RUSS It's nine o'clock in the morning. SHULLER Noon somewhere, pal. Shaken. Confused... Russ walks away. Shuller (cont'd) (calling out) You wanna talk... you know where to find me. EXT. HOME - NIGHT Russ stands at his front door, turned away, gazing across the street. A single light from the ground level window into the basement. Every muscle in his body begins to tighten. He is transfixed. Suddenly, the light is extinguished. INT. HOME - NIGHT Russ keys his way into the house and hears the television on. He follows the sound into the-- LIVING ROOM Clara is sitting on the couch, sobbing softly, watching a TV News report on the latest murder. Russ stands in the entrance and watches too. RUSS Awful, isn't it? Clara is startled. She grabs the remote and shuts off the television. CLARA You're home. Russ nods. Clara wipes the tears from her eyes and tries to smile. CLARA (cont'd) Well, I'll start making you dinner then. She stands and crosses into the kitchen. After a moment, Russ follows her. KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS Clara starts opening cabinets. Russ stands in the entrance again. RUSS You're crying. CLARA Don't be silly. Russ steps toward her. RUSS It's okay. Clara stops. Puts her hands down. The tears start to well in her eyes. She keeps her back to him. CLARA Those parents. They must be so sad. Their babies were taken from them. Russ moves closer. Lays his hand on her shoulder. CLARA (cont'd) I just can't help it. He turns her around and holds her close. He closes his eyes and holds her, matching his breathing to her heartbeat. RUSS How well do you really know Doctor Prather? Her face... suddenly changes. Clara stays pressed against Russ. CLARA Why? RUSS There's something wrong. Something at his house that might-- CLARA --might what? Russ exhales. Wrong time. RUSS Never mind. He closes his eyes. She... does not. INT. MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT Russ is asleep. So too, it appears, is Clara. Her head slowly turns to Russ. After a moment, she quietly slides out of bed. The room is bathed in moonlight. Clara crosses to the window. At Dr. Prather's house. She nods. Crosses to a dresser, each step silent. She gently opens the top drawer, sliding away some clothing... to reveal: a KNIFE. Long. Sharp. She takes it by the handle. A beam of light strikes the blade and flashes her face; it is much different than we have been used to. It is without emotion. Almost like she is in a trance. Clara crosses to Russ's side of the bed. He is deep in sleep. Totally unaware as she slowly brings the blade to his neck. Clara's knuckles whiten as she grips the knife handle tighter. The blade touches Russ's neck. He startles and she quickly withdraws the knife, scurrying back to the dresser. RUSS (barely awake) Clara? She shuts the dresser drawer, trading the knife for... CLARA Socks. My feet were cold. Go back to sleep. He grumbles and shuts his eyes again. CLARA (cont'd) (almost a whisper) I can't live without you. INT. HOME - MORNING Russ grabs his briefcase and heads to the door. Clara calls out. CLARA (O.S.) Have a good day. Russ says nothing. Moves quickly outside where the TAXI is waiting, as usual, for his ride to work. INT. TAXI - MORNING (DRIVING) Russ looks more unsettled than usual. At a stoplight, he glances over and sees DR. PRATHER in his own car, one length ahead on the right. Nerve endings start to fire. Make a decision quickly, Russ. RUSS Do me a favor. See that blue Honda up there? TAXI DIVER Yeah? RUSS I want to go where its going. The taxi driver shrugs. The light changes. EXT. DRUG STORE - MORNING Dr. Prather's blue Honda stops at a small Mom and Pop drug store. He climbs out and heads inside. Slowing to a stop and still tailing, Russ's taxi slows into a space a couple hundred feet away. INT. TAXI - MORNING The Taxi Driver leans back. TAXI DIVER What now? RUSS Just wait. TAXI DIVER I reckon this is gonna cost you a fortune we keep this up. Russ reaches into his wallet and pulls out a hundred dollar bill. RUSS Here's your tip. I'll pay the fare on top, okay? TAXI DIVER (snatching the money, his lucky day) Yes, sir. EXT. DRUG STORE - MOMENTS LATER Dr. Jim Prather emerges from the Drug Store and climbs back in his car. The Taxi Driver fires his engines and the slow stalk continues. EXT. INTERSTATE 40 - LATE MORNING Dr. Prather's blue Honda streaks along I-80 heading to the Little Rock skyline. The taxi follows, not far behind. EXT. RIVERFRONT DISTRICT - LATE MORNING Dr. Prather's car pulls down a dirt frontage road heading toward what appears to be a semi-industrial cluster of buildings off the Arkansas River. Seconds later, the taxi slows to a stop at the entrance of the frontage road. INT. TAXI - LATE MORNING Russ dishes out a few more bills to the driver. RUSS Thanks. Russ climbs out. EXT. FRONTAGE ROAD - LATE MORNING Russ stands as the taxi takes off. He peers down the road... and after a moment, starts walking. EXT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - MINUTES LATER A fairly nondescript white building a hundred yards from the river. Two stories, few windows. A metal front door with key-card security lock on the front. And it looks abandoned. Dr. Prather's car is parked just by the entrance. Russ moves slowly toward the building... his nerve endings firing again. Sweat collects on his brow and he brushes it away with his hand. INT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - DR. PRATHER'S OFFICE - LATE MORNING A contrast to the outside, the office is oak paneled, with pictures of loved ones, articles and diplomas framed on the wall. Along one side, a bank of labeled and marked file cabinets. Dr. Prather takes a seat behind a cherrywood desk. INT. POLICE STATION - DETECTIVE BUREAU - SAME Detective Carlin looks troubled. Scans his surroundings to make sure no one is close enough to hear him. He picks up the receiver on his phone. Dials. EXT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - SIDE Back outside, Russ edges along the side of the building, his legs almost moving involuntarily now. He peers down the side, to the river beyond. Stays close to the building as he moves forward. INT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - DR. PRATHER'S OFFICE - LATE MORNING Dr. Prather's phone blares out. He calmly picks it up. DR. PRATHER Doctor James Prather. INTERCUT WITH DETECTIVE CARLIN-- DET. CARLIN (hushed) Jim... it's Steve. Jim... we can't keep doin' this. Dr. Prather's eyes narrow. DR. PRATHER Yes. We can. And that's the last I want to hear about it. DET. CARLIN Well, I can't-- DR. PRATHER You can and you will, Steve. (beat) It is... unfortunate, I agree. But there are always means to an end. And we are not yet at the end, as much as I wish we were. EXT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - BACK Russ bends the corner and begins to make out a voice. It is Dr. Prather's. He slides along the back... to a window. Bridling his breath he bends slowly forward and peers inside. RUSS SEES-- Dr. Prather sitting at a desk. Six FILE CABINETS four rows high line the opposite wall. A large MIRROR on the eastern wall. He spots Dr. Prather on a phone. Hears... DR. PRATHER It is very important that you continue to act as if you know nothing. Do you understand? (beat) Good. Russ takes another step forward and SLIPS on a patch of wet grass. He CATCHES himself but makes just enough noise to... Dr. Prather's voice fades. He holds the phone down and... Russ whips back away from the window just as Prather turns to look out! DR. PRATHER (cont'd) (into phone) I have to go. Dr. Prather hangs up and stands... crossing to the window... Russ squeezes himself flat against the building... Dr. Prather is just inches away from him... looking out... Russ stops breathing and closes his eyes... Dr. Prather unlatches the window and slides it aside... Russ inches to his side... Dr. Prather sticks his head out the window... turns right... then... ...left. There is no one there. Dr. Prather closes the window. EXT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - SIDE Russ kneels on the ground... having slid slowly away... just in time. After a moment, Russ makes it back to his feet. He HEARS rustling... clanging from inside the building. A door shutting. Locking. He slides again toward the front of the building. EXT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - FRONT Russ peers around the front... enough to see Dr. Prather emerge from the front door. Get into his car. Drive away. Russ exhales hard. Wipes his eyes. Considers... the window. EXT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - BACK Russ stands before the window that Prather opened. Notices the good doctor never returned the lock to its position. He steels himself... and opens it. INT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - DR. PRATHER'S OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER Russ moves slowly, tentatively through the office. Almost afraid to touch anything. It lasts a second because quickly he moves to the desk... unsure of anything. He pushes aside BILLS and other MEANINGLESS SCRAPS... looking for any clue to.... well, to what he isn't quite sure. But there must be something here. He keeps digging. Then... HE SEES: notes... scribbles. Names. Memos. Nothing. Russ turns his attention to the bank of FILE CABINETS. Scans the TYPED CARDS marking each drawer. His eyes LOCK ON ONE, that reads: "The Promethean Order" Russ's lips mouth the words. Just then... CLICK... the SOUND OF A LOCK TURNING. Russ quickly stuffs the folder back in the drawer. HEARS... footsteps... Russ moves to the window... not wanting to wait to see who might appear... EXT. HIGH SCHOOL PARKING LOT - MORNING A taxi deposits Russ in front of the school. INT. MAYFLOWER LIBRARY - AFTERNOON Russ approaches the YOUNG LIBRARIAN at the front desk. RUSS Good morning, young lady. I was wondering where you keep the microfiche. YOUNG LIBRARIAN Excuse me? You want a book on small fish? Just then an OLDER LIBRARIAN appears. OLDER LIBRARIAN It's like Google, dear. For older people. (shakes her head) Kids. Right this way, Mister Lassard. INT. LIBRARY - BACK OFFICE - AFTERNOON A single projector against a back wall. BANKS of file cabinets take up the rest of the room, each marked by month and year. RUSS How recent are they? OLDER LIBRARIAN I think they stopped processing in 2006. All went electronic at that point. RUSS Thank you. OLDER LIBRARIAN Hope it still works. Ain't nobody used it in a long time. The Older Librarian leaves, shutting the office door behind her. INT. LIBRARY - BACK OFFICE - LATER The light is out. Only the glow from the projector, splashing light and black lines across Russ's face. Russ is scanning through old copies of the "Arkansas Democrat Gazette" - Dated September, 2002. Suddenly, he stops. Finds what he's looking for. A small article with a picture. Police... in a field standing over a covered body. He reads out loud part of the article. RUSS Found at 8:02 this morning by the land's owner, a Mister Ray Carlin. The body was positively identified as a young woman in her teens. An autopsy later confirmed the cause of death as strangulation... Russ thinks a moment. RUSS (cont'd) Positively identified? MONTAGE: Russ digging through files, finding the tape, scanning through. Finding another article, from the following year. RUSS (cont'd) (reading) ...positively identified as a young woman in her teens... (beat, to himself) Positively identified as who? SAMANTHA (O.S.) They won't tell you their names. Russ slowly turns back. Sees the image of his bloodied dead daughter Samantha standing in the center of the room. RUSS Why not? SAMANTHA The Promethean Order. And then suddenly, once again... Russ blinks... and she is gone. INT. LIBRARY - COMPUTER LAB - LATER Russ sits at a computer and begins to type. ON THE SCREEN-- Russ types in: "THE PROMETHEAN ORDER" "Search Finds No Matches". RUSS (softly, to himself) Shit. Quietly, the Older Librarian has moved up behind him. OLDER LIBRARIAN Promethean. Russ flinches and spins back. RUSS You scared me. OLDER LIBRARIAN Sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you. Or snoop into what you were doing. You looked frustrated so I thought maybe I could help. (beat) I majored in mythology in college. RUSS Mine is a little rusty. The Promeathean Order. Do you know what that is? The Librarian shakes her head. OLDER LIBRARIAN Not exactly. Prometheus was a Titan who they say created man from clay. He mocked the gods... Especially Zeus... by introducing fire to mankind. He saved them from the cold, dark world. Russ's eyes narrow. The Librarian crosses to a shelf. Her fingers dance across the bindings until she finds the one she wants. Slides it out. Brings it to Russ. OLDER LIBRARIAN (cont'd) Read this. It explains everything. RUSS Thank you. Russ takes the book. Gathers his things and nods at the Older Librarian. OLDER LIBRARIAN He paid for it, you know. RUSS Who? OLDER LIBRARIAN Prometheus. He was too confident. Too proud of what he had done. Zeus made him pay. He made mankind pay too. Russ nods. The Older Librarian wanders away. Russ heads to the exit. Suddenly... the Younger Librarian slides in front of him, blocking his way. RUSS Excuse me, I-- YOUNG LIBRARIAN (hushed) Don't go down this road. The Young Librarian wears fear. She looks all directions to see if anyone can see her speaking to Russ. RUSS What are you talking about? YOUNG LIBRARIAN Just... SOMEONE ELSE enters the library. YOUNG LIBRARIAN (cont'd) ...leave it be. The Young Librarian moves away. Back to her post. Russ watches as she makes it seem this conversation... never happened. INT. "THE FADED ROSE" - AFTERNOON Russ approaches Steven Shuller... parked at his favorite table, surrounded by empty vodka tonics. SHULLER Hey, pal. Grab a seat. We're watering away our misery. RUSS Did you find out what happened? Shuller NODS GRAVELY. SHULLER Cameryn was walkin' back home from the movie theater the other night. Alone. They say the killer grabbed her about a block from home. Strangled. RUSS The killer... they think its the same one from the bluffs? The Monster? SHULLER Yeah, right. The monster... I would say so. Perhaps psycho killers are a common occurrence in Chicago, pal. But down here... well... lets just say if they find this sonofabitch he's more likely to be hangin' from a tree with a pitchfork up his ass then standing in a suit and tie before the judge. Shuller slowly stands and limps over to the bar to collect two more drinks. Limps back. Takes a seat. SHULLER (cont'd) You okay, pal? You don't look so good. RUSS I never do. Russ downs his drink. RUSS (cont'd) You say this town has secrets, right? SHULLER Yep. RUSS I think I've found one. Maybe. (hushed) Have you ever heard of something called "The Promethean Order"? Shuller racks his brain. SHULLER Nope. Can't say I have. RUSS I don't know how yet but I think it has ties to the murders that happen here every year. And there's something else. Something strange. On each report... I can't find any record of the murdered girls names. (beat) Do you remember any of them? SHULLER Well... uhhh... (thinking) Shoot... that was awhile ago. I... Sorry. I can't think of 'em. Russ stares out at the door. Scans the room. Eyes occasionally dart his way. Then away. SHULLER (cont'd) Can I ask you a question? Russ nods. SHULLER (cont'd) What's with the taxi? You own a car, right? RUSS Yes. SHULLER So how come you take a taxi everywhere? Russ takes a drink. Speaks softly. RUSS My daughter Samantha was killed in a car crash. Last year. SHULLER Jesus... I'm sorry, Russ. RUSS I really wanted a boy, you know. When we first found out. But we got a girl. And that first moment I held her in my arms... she had me wrapped around her finger. All she'd have to do is look at me... and my heart would melt. (beat) You know, you spend the first few years of their lives keeping them close, protecting them from every evil in the world. And then they grow up... hit the teenage years and want to push away from you so quickly. Shuller nods. Takes a drink. So does Russ. RUSS (cont'd) We were driving back from a dance. I picked her up at school. She was... wearing this... little bubblegum dress. She begged me to drive, you know, she had just got her license. I said no... but she looked at me... You know, just like when she was a little kid. But this time... this time I wouldn't give in. (beat, remembering) We came to this intersection and this guy in another car... drunk... blew right through the light. Hit right on the passenger side. Right where Samantha was sitting. Our car was destroyed... except for the driver's seat. (beat) You see, if I had just given in... Samantha would have lived. SHULLER And you would have died. RUSS It's the choice I would make every time. But life doesn't let you have the chance to make the same mistake again. So you live with it. You never get behind the wheel... ever again. His voice fades. INT. POLICE STATION - DETECTIVE BUREAU - NIGHT Detective Carlin is scanning some papers when Detective Reece appears, a big smile on his face. DET. REECE You ain't gonna believe this. DET. CARLIN Do tell. DET. REECE I did some checkin' on the new guy, our Mister Russell Lassard. Turns out after he checked out of the hospital for his injuries... he checked in to a place called "Hartgrove". DET. CARLIN The mental hospital. DET. REECE Right, the one outside Fayetteville. He was there six months! How 'bout them tomatoes And guess who his new best friend is in town. Seen hangin' out at the Faded Rose? One Steven Shuller. Carlin nods. DET. CARLIN I'll be damned, then. DET. REECE Think its time to pay Mister Chicago a visit. Carlin nods. DET. CARLIN Bill? DET. REECE Yeah. DET. CARLIN Maybe... there are some other directions we should be lookin'. DET. REECE Steve? What in the hell are you talkin' about? DET. CARLIN Maybe... Carlin's voice fades. DET. REECE Maybe what? DET. CARLIN Nothin'. (beat) How's ya Mama doin'? DET. REECE Not good. Won't be long, I'm afraid. Carlin nods. His face dark. INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT The television is on. Clara is watching the end of some reality show. Russ sits in a chair engrossed in the story of Prometheus. After a moment, Clara stands. Shuts off the TV and crosses to Russ, leaning in and kissing his cheek. CLARA I'm going to bed. You followin'? RUSS (not taking his eyes off the page) In a minute. Clara cocks her head and stares at Russ. CLARA Whatcha reading? Russ looks up at Clara. RUSS A book I got at the library today. Greek Mythology. The story of Prometheus. It's fleeting... but we catch a flash of concern on Clara's face. CLARA Since when do you care about... myth-- mythology? Russ furrows his brow. RUSS Is everything okay, Clara? Clara quickly loses the frown she's wearing and turns it to a smile. CLARA You can stay up if you want. But... She turns and swings her hips. CLARA (cont'd) ...you're missin' out. Russ watches her go. His eyes squint. Wonders if he's missing something. The thought is fleeting; his attention soon returns to the book. WE TAKE A PEEK-- at what Russ is reading. Text on the left. A picture on the right. A box adorned with jewels. It is open and demons are rushing from it. The caption below reads: "Pandora's Box" Russ closes the book. Stands. Crosses to the front hallway. To the window. Brushes aside the drapes. Stares at Dr. Prather's house. Dark save... ...a light in the basement... RUSS (V.O.) I need your help. INT. CLASSROOM - DAY History classroom. Maps of great wars line the walls. Shuller is behind his desk. Feet up. Russ paces. SHULLER Shoot, pal. RUSS If you believed... something. But you were pretty sure no one else would believe. How would you go about... making them believe? SHULLER I'm a history teacher, Russ. Theology is down the hall on the right. I believe Miss Ganor teaches that class. RUSS I'm serious. SHULLER I have no doubt you are. But its a bit abstract, don'tcha think? (beat) What is it you believe? RUSS I can't tell you that. SHULLER That's not the best way to start getting people to believe you. RUSS I've... seen something very strange. And it might be... it might involve... what's been going on. SHULLER The murders? Russ nods. Shuller sighs. Sucks out something from between his teeth. Groans. SHULLER (cont'd) Well... like I said... I'm a history teacher. I believe in facts. Toil in them daily. It's where Miss Ganor and I part ways. There is faith... which is blind belief. And fact. Which, unlike faith has one clear distinguishing quality. Russ looks up. Nods. RUSS Proof. Shuller makes his hand a gun. Shoots it and, with a click of his tongue, winks. EXT. CHURCH - MORNING Mid-sermon. The Pastor paces. Sweat drips from his brow. He SCRATCHES at his face as he speaks. PASTOR We are afraid. A being holds hostage us all. It is sad. For that which brings us great terror is itself... lost. The Pastor SCRATCHES at his face again and his neck; an insatiable itch. PASTOR (cont'd) To be human is a blissfully sorry existence. To be human is to be trapped between poles of prophecy and peril. (dramatic pause) And those forces of Heaven and Hell fight for us long after our Earthly demise. Tearing at us. Our memories belong only to the victor. Our souls the hard fought spoils... of evil... or everlasting glory. (pause) When all we seek is peace. The Pastor closes his eyes. Blood begins to drip from his ear. He COLLAPSES to the GASPS of the Flock, several of which rush to help him. FADE TO BLACK. INT. HOME - DAY A KNOCK at the door. Russ opens it. DET. REECE Afternoon, Russ. How's Mayflower treating you? Russ nods. RUSS Just fine, thank you. DET. REECE Hope you remember us, I'm Detective Reece, this is Detective Carlin. Mind if we come in? Or do we need to show you our warrant? Russ swallows hard. DET. REECE (cont'd) I'm just kidding, Russ. We don't have a warrant. (beat) Should we? RUSS Come in. Russ leads the Detectives to the-- LIVING ROOM RUSS (cont'd) How can I help you guys? Det. Carlin takes a seat on the couch. Reece stays standing, peeking around corners. DET. REECE You and I have something in common, Russ. RUSS What's that? DET. REECE Neither of us was born here in Mayflower. I was reared down in Polk county in the town of Cove 'bout a spit from the Louisiana border. Moved here about five years ago when my Mama got sick... see she had family here. (beat) Anyhow, I remember how tough it was to be the new fella in town. RUSS I haven't had too many problems. DET. REECE Point is, I sympathize with you. A silent moment. RUSS Excuse me, but is there a reason you're here today? Reece smiles. DET. REECE Son, I don't ever go nowhere without a reason. Russ feels the Detectives eyes burning into him. His heart beats fast. He tries to bridal his nerves and locks his jaw. DET. REECE (cont'd) I'm sorry, Russ. I don't mean to cause you any alarm. I just want to ask you some questions about where you were last Friday night. Russ's eyes narrow. RUSS I was here. I was home. DET. REECE As any good husband would be, I had no doubt. And you can-- Clara enters the room with a tray of iced tea and interrupts. CLARA --of course he can, Detective. I was here with him. Carlin stands as the lady enters. CLARA (cont'd) Iced tea, fellas? It has been so unseasonably hot. Unless you'd like something a bit more stiff. DET. REECE Thank you, ma'am. I don't drink but on rare occasions. (beat, to Russ) Frankly, not rare enough. They each take a glass. DET. REECE (cont'd) You are friends with Mister Shuller, is that so? You know his whereabouts that night? RUSS No. I don't know how I-- DET. REECE How well do you know Mister Shuller? RUSS We're casual friends. It's a new job. He's a fellow teacher. DET. CARLIN We're quite aware of his employment. DET. REECE What Detective Carlin here means to say is that Mister Shuller is well known to the community. He came to us from Conway High. DET. CARLIN Got kicked out for tryin' to make it with a student. Only reason he found employment here in town 'cause his late Uncle was quite the contributor to the Mayflower football team. DET. REECE Go Eagles. DET. CARLIN (quickly) Go Eagles. DET. REECE Were you aware of that, Russ? I'm told you and he often spend time together down at the Faded Rose. He likes 'em young, Russ. How do you figure on something like that? Words jam in his mouth. Finally-- RUSS I think you should both leave now. Reece frowns. Then... slowly smiles. DET. REECE Of course. Reece and Carlin start for the door. Clara opens it. Just before he steps out, Reece turns back to Russ. DET. REECE (cont'd) One last question, Russ. Russ is silent. DET. REECE (cont'd) Do you believe in monsters? RUSS I wouldn't know what you mean by that. Reece nods. DET. REECE Yeah. Me neither. When I was growin' up in Cove I met this gypsy lady tol' me "True evil never shows its face. It just hides in the heart." (beat) You have a nice day. The door closes. Russ turns to Clara. EXT. HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS - AFTERNOON Russ and Shuller walk together along a campus sidewalk near the athletic field where the future Arkansas Razorbacks football players slam into each other. A whistle blows. SHULLER What did they want? RUSS They wanted to know where I was the night Cameryn Beck was murdered. Shuller sighs. SHULLER Goddamn local bumpkins. Just like them to single out the new guy in town. (beat) What else they ask you? They ask about me? Russ's eyes narrow. RUSS Matter of fact they did. Shuller's eyes widen. He plays it off. SHULLER That so? Figures. Us hanging around each other all the time. (beat) Suppose they told you about the Conway incident. Russ nods. SHULLER (cont'd) Wasn't what you think, Russ. I gave the girl a ride home. Name was Cindy Miller. She had a crush on me, I know what yer thinkin', right, a crush. But it's true. She was all pushin' up on me and when I stopped the car an' tol' her to walk out she got upset. Told her parents I touched her in her privates. It wasn't true. Shuller stops. SHULLER (cont'd) It wasn't true, Russ. RUSS Okay. They continue walking. SHULLER Far as the girls that were killed... I ain't got the strength nor the sobriety to touch myself anymore... let alone some young thing. (beat) There is one problem, however. Russ stops suddenly. Pivots to Shuller who also stops and wears a look of concern. SHULLER (cont'd) I saw her that night. RUSS Who? SHULLER Cameryn Beck. I was at the theater. I was just going to see a movie by myself. I saw her there and she said hello to me. That was it. I never saw her again that night. Shuller stares off into the sky for a moment. SHULLER (cont'd) I suppose you think I should tell them about it. RUSS I'm not sure why you wouldn't. If it would help them. Shuller keeps staring off. Starts to look a little nervous. SHULLER You think they're gonna come talk to me? RUSS I think they want to know what really happened. Shuller sticks his hands in his pockets. SHULLER They ain't interested in the truth. Never have been. Russ stares at Shuller. RUSS What is the truth? Shuller keeps his gaze in the sky. Slowly looks down at Russ. SHULLER Thought that was what you were gonna figure out. INT. KITCHEN - LATE AFTERNOON Clara is soaking dishes in the sink and humming a hymnal softly to herself. RUSS What is that? Clara smiles. CLARA "All Things Bright and Beautiful". RUSS I like it. She dries a dish. RUSS (cont'd) I was thinking... you should invite Doctor Prather over for dinner tonight. CLARA Jim? Why? RUSS I never did get to thank him for taking care of me the other day. Clara sets down the dish and dries her hands. CLARA That's sweet of you. You sure? Russ nods slowly. RUSS I am. (looks her in the eyes) I can cook steaks out on the grill. CLARA You don't need to cook, Russ. I always take care of you. He smiles to her. Nods. INT. HOME - NIGHT Russ swings the front door open. Dr. Prather is there, dressed in a nice white linen shirt, khaki slacks. He carries a bottle of wine. DR. PRATHER Evening, Russ. Good to see you again. And... I mean that. RUSS Well, Jim... I believe you. Dr. Prather... smiles. INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT They are all seated at the dining room table. Clara carries in the steaks, setting the plates before the men. She takes her seat. There is a moment of silence as they all cut into their food. Russ eyes the clock: 9:42 DR. PRATHER How's your new job treating you, Russ? RUSS Well, Jim. Two of my students have been murdered since I started. So... not as well as I'd hoped. CLARA Such terrible dinner talk, then. DR. PRATHER Yes, I agree. Terrible, just terrible. He takes a bite. RUSS You don't seem all that bothered. DR. PRATHER On the contrary, Russ. I am very bothered. But I trust these horrible crimes will be over soon. And things will return to normal. That's the way it should be in this town. (beat) You see, I was born here in Mayflower. Raised here. Nothin' changed here, Russ. Been here sixty-three years and besides the cars... this is still the same town I first arrived in naked and screaming. (beat) Until the last few years, that is. CLARA Can we please change the conversation? DR. PRATHER It's a special place. Like nowhere else in the world. And we like it that way. Russ just stares at Dr. Prather. He smiles back. There is a moment of uncomfortable silence. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) How have you been feelin', Russ? After your fall? I'd like you to come down to my office for a check up. RUSS No need. I feel fine. DR. PRATHER Well, of course, its your choice. However I'd like to make sure its not a sign of something... more serious. A moment. RUSS I'll keep that in mind. Silence. Prather smiles again. Takes another bite. Just then... Russ's cell phone blares out. In his pocket; he snaps it up. RUSS (cont'd) (into phone) Russell Lassard. Russ muffles the RECORDED MESSAGE that says: "This is your automated wake up call for, nine forty-five... p-m." RUSS (cont'd) (into phone) Yes, Wilbur. Uh-huh. Just hold on. Russ sets the phone down. CLARA Who's callin' you so late? RUSS Principal Winston. CLARA School business at this time of night? RUSS Apparently someone is sick and I might have to pick up a few classes tomorrow. Let me find out, excuse me, just keep eating, I'll be just a minute. He stands... DR. PRATHER Of course, Russ. Take your time. We'll be... right here. ...and leaves the room. INT. LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS Russ looks back. Makes sure he's out of sight. Reaches into his pocket. Pulls out... a disposable camera. Creeps slowly for the front door. Gently opens it. Gently shuts it. EXT. STREET - NIGHT Russ stops. Stares at the house across the street. The house... smiles back. Russ raises his disposable camera and takes a picture... then moves forward. Slowly at first. Then... faster to EXT. PRATHER'S HOME - CONTINUOUS Russ knocks. Waits. No answer. Russ wraps his hand around the doorknob. Twists. It opens. INT. PRATHER'S HOME - CONTINUOUS Russ moves quickly, snapping off shots of anything he sees. Documenting. He moves from room to room. Knowing... where he will find the proof he is looking for. He searches around for the entrance... finding it in-- INT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS Heart pounds. Sweats. Russ touches the knob on the door that leads to the basement. Slowly turns it. Steels himself... and heads down. It's dark. More than dark; foreboding. Russ steps carefully... feeling the wall... hoping for a light. He comes upon one. Flips it. Descends. INT. BASEMENT - CONTINUOUS More sterile you would expect. A medical type table at one end. Rows of white boxes at the other. In the center... A CAGE. And behind that cage... the Creature... crumpled on the ground. Silent. Russ slowly approaches the cage. He is shaking with fear. Digs the camera out of his pocket. Takes sight and levels it at the Creature. In a flash it springs forward, crashing against the cage. Teeth showing. It lashes out with it's arm. Russ steps backward. Breathing quick. Terror scratching at his brain. It's all he can do to raise the camera and... CLICK. The flash stuns the Creature. It falls back. Russ takes the opportunity to race back up the stairs. It's haunting white EYES follow his every movement. EXT. STREET - NIGHT Russ tucks the camera away and heads back to his house. INT. HOME - NIGHT He, again, gently opens, enters and shuts the front door. Straightens himself out. Heads casually back into- INT. DINING ROOM - CONTINUOUS Russ smiles. RUSS Sorry about that. He stops. Dr. Prather is gone. RUSS (cont'd) Where did he go? CLARA Some emergency. Said he had to run home. Blood drains from Russ's face. CLARA (cont'd) Are you okay? RUSS No. CLARA What's wrong? Russ takes out the camera. RUSS We have to talk. INT. KITCHEN - LATER Both are sitting at the kitchen table. Clara looks stunned-- he's clearly spilled his guts. RUSS Say something. CLARA I don't know what to say. RUSS It's true. Every word of it. You have to believe me. I have a picture! CLARA This... this is not fixing us, Russ! After the other night... I thought... we were finally beginning to heal. Then... you start in with this? Monsters across the street? Breaking into people's homes? RUSS Jim Prather is behind these murders. He's hiding something. Clara stands. Explodes. CLARA Jim Prather is a great man! He has done more for us, more for this community than anyone! RUSS And what exactly would that be? Clara stands. Shakes her head as she crosses to the sink, filling a teapot with water and carrying it over to the stove. RUSS (cont'd) What are you doing? CLARA (coldly detached, like we saw in the bedroom scenes ago) Making some tea. She FIRES up the stove-- blue flame licking the bottom of the teapot. RUSS You have to believe me. This isn't in my head, Clara. This is all... very... real. Clara glances over at Russ. Her eyes narrowed. She slides open a drawer. A bottle of PILLS. Removes two. Drops them in a teacup. The teapot starts to hiss... Clara keeps her back to him... RUSS (cont'd) Clara? The teapot hisses louder... RUSS (cont'd) (louder now) Clara? CLARA A moment. Clara removes the teapot from the burner. Pours his cup; the pills dissolve before our eyes. She pours her own. Clean. Picks up the cups and crosses to the table, taking a seat beside him. Russ takes a sip. RUSS I need you. I need you to believe me. CLARA I know you do. Clara is frighteningly cool right now. CLARA (cont'd) I need you too. I always have. Russ takes another sip. Starts to feel dizzy again. Eyes roll back in his head as he falls to the ground. Head, SLAMMING against the ground. BLACKOUT. FLASHES OF LIGHT-- A car horn continues to blare. Twisted metal tosses plumes of smoke against the cold night. RUSS Wake up, princess. Please... Russ reaches out. Blurry bodies move behind him. FEMALE VOICE (O.S.) Oh, God. Is anyone alive? ANOTHER FEMALE VOICE (O.S.) Call 9-1-1. MALE VOICE (O.S.) I can't get the girl. The door's all smashed in! ANOTHER MALE VOICE (O.S.) Pull him out! Get him back! The things gonna go! Hands grab him. Pull him away. FADE TO BLACK. EVERYTHING IS BLURRY-- Bright but unrecognizable. Slowly the picture comes into focus and we realize we are in-- INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT Russ blinks. His head is bandaged. Dr. Prather sits in a chair across the room. DR. PRATHER Hello, Russ. Russ stares at Prather. Eyes shoot around the room. RUSS Where's my wife? DR. PRATHER Clara went to get some food. She's been a mess. RUSS What happened? DR. PRATHER Apparently you blacked out at home. Not good, these blackouts you've been having. This is precisely why I wanted you to come down here for a check up. Russ tries to lift his hand-- and discovers both arms are tied down to his bed. RUSS What the hell is this?! Prather stands. Crosses to the bed. DR. PRATHER For your protection, Russ. RUSS Untie me. Prather frowns. DR. PRATHER I'm afraid not. Not just yet. I need to tell me something. I need you tell me about the hallucinations you've been having. RUSS I haven't-- DR. PRATHER --It's okay, Russ. I understand. Russ jerks his leg, knocking Prather's hand away. Dr. Prather nods and stands again. RUSS I know you have a... thing... some sort of monster living in a cage in your basement. It's killing people and you're covering it up. Who is it, Jim... (beat) What is it? DR. PRATHER Stop this, Russ. This is in your mind. RUSS I know what I saw. DR. PRATHER What else have you seen, Russ? Have you seen your daughter, too? Russ says nothing. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) I am just trying to help you. RUSS (louder now) What is "The Promethean Order"? DR. PRATHER (even louder) You have already lost your daughter. Now you are destroying yourself and you are destroying your marriage. RUSS That's none of your goddamn business. Dr. Prather slowly nods. DR. PRATHER Yes. I suppose. Silence. Dr. Prather shakes his head. Crosses to a counter and draws a liquid into a syringe. RUSS He suffered. DR. PRATHER (absently) Who suffered, Russ? RUSS Prometheus. Zeus punished him by imprisoning him on a mountain top. And every day an eagle would fly to the mountain and feast on Prometheus' liver. But every night the liver would grow back. The whole thing would start again. (beat) I know who you really are. Dr. Prather taps out the air and turns. Smiles. Crosses to the bed. RUSS (cont'd) Are you going to kill me? Dr. Prather locks eyes with Russ. DR. PRATHER Two things, Russ. First, that is not a question one gets to ask if one is really about to be killed. Second, if you say you know who I really am... then you would know... that would be quite impossible. He waits a moment... then JAMS the syringe into Russ's arm. Russ starts to fade. Eyelids drop, then rise... he can see Dr. Prather walk away... then... see his wife standing just outside the door... He struggles to stay conscious and makes out in flashes: Clara talking to Prather. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) The new medication should work. Calm him. But if he becomes irrational... if he sees it again... let me know. CLARA I will. DR. PRATHER For now... let him sleep. You did the right thing. Prather turns back. Looks to Russ. Shuts off the light and closes the door. Russ fights to stay awake. Looks in the corner. SEES: Samantha. Bloodied. Sitting in a chair in the corner. Smiling at him. RUSS (drugged) Princess... Samantha stands. Leaves a trail of blood across the floor as she approaches her father. Leans over. Bloody lips kiss his cheek. Russ cannot fight anymore. He closes his eyes. FADE TO BLACK. EXT. HOME - NIGHT Clara gently guides a dazed Russ to the front door. INT. MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT She helps him into bed. He stares up at her. CLARA Everything will be better, soon. Russ gives an involuntary nod. She kisses his cheek. INT. KITCHEN - MORNING Russ and Clara sit across from each other at the table. Clara watches her husband. Purses her lips; Russ looks lobotomized. His actions are slow. His mouth hangs open. A bowl of cereal before him. CLARA Do you like your cereal, Russ? Russ just nods. Keeps eating his cereal. Milk drools from the corner of his mouth. INT. LIVING ROOM - AFTERNOON Russ and Clara watch television. Russ suddenly stands. Speaks in a slower, slurred voice. RUSS It's two pee em. I need to go... take m-my pills. Clara betrays her sadness. Fights it. CLARA Okay, baby. Russ wanders from the room. Heads up the stairs. Clara starts to cry. She picks up the phone. Dials. INT. STAIRWAY - AFTERNOON Russ slowly steps down the stairs. He can HEAR Clara, from the kitchen, on the phone to someone. Faint: CLARA (O.S.) ...not what I wanted! He's not the same. I'm not being irrational... Russ finishes the stairs and heads for the kitchen. INT. KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS Russ shuffles into the kitchen. CLARA (into phone) Look! I want you to-- She suddenly notices Russ. CLARA (cont'd) (into phone) I'll have to call you back. She hangs up. Russ looks at her blankly. Speaks monotone. RUSS Who were you talking to? Clara shrugs. Cornered. CLARA I was... (beat) Wrong number. Russ stares at her. RUSS I'm thinking... maybe I'll go for a walk. If that's okay. CLARA That's... fine, Russ. RUSS I can't find my coat. Clara lets out a nervous laugh. Or is that a sob? CLARA I'll get it for you. She leaves the room. Russ drops the zombie act. Quickly crosses to the phone and hits "Redial". Checks the display on the phone: "Dr. Jim Prather" Russ sets the phone down as Clara walks back in carrying his jacket. EXT. STREET - LATER Russ shuffles and does the whole act until he's sure he's far enough from his home. Digs out a cell phone and dials. INT. TAXI - LATER Russ climbs in the back. RUSS Downtown. One hour photo. INT. SAVON DRUGS - DAY At the "One Hour Photo" counter. The CLERK hands over the ENVELOPE OF PHOTOS. EXT. STREET - LATER Russ exits the store, pictures in hand. He shuffles through them. To the last. The one he wants. Stares at it. THE PICTURE-- a perfect shot of The Creature. Behind the cage. Russ smiles. It is the proof he needs. EXT. STREET - AFTERNOON Russ charges down the street now. Determined. Turns a corner and makes a direct line for the... EXT. MAYFLOWER POLICE DEPARTMENT - AFTERNOON Russ heads inside. INT. MAYFLOWER POLICE DEPARTMENT - CONTINUOUS Russ approaches the front desk. A FEMALE OFFICER greets him. Bright. Cheery. Way too cheery for a cop. FEMALE OFFICER Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to the Mayflower Police Department. How may I service you today? RUSS I need to talk to Detective Reece. FEMALE OFFICER And what is this regarding? RUSS I know who murdered all those kids. Her face changes. She grabs a phone. INT. MAYFLOWER POLICE DEPARTMENT - DAY DETECTIVE REECE scratches off a lottery ticket. The numbers match up... he has won. $25. DET. REECE Suminabitch. Whoo-hoo. He tucks the ticket away as an OFFICER leads Russ to the Detective's desk. DET. REECE (cont'd) Mister Lassard. RUSS I have something to show you. The Detective's eyes narrow. INT. MAYFLOWER POLICE DEPARTMENT - LATER Detective Reece holds a picture. One that Russ has given him. The one with "The Monster". He stares at it and sees... nothing. THE PICTURE-- shows nothing... An empty basement. Reece holds the picture up to Russ. DET. REECE What are you seein' in this that I ain't? RUSS What? Russ grabs the picture. Looks at it. Reece is right. The photo is a mess of color that shows nothing. RUSS (cont'd) Wait a minute... this has to be the wrong one. Hold on. Russ pulls out the envelope of developed photos quickly-- other SHOTS OF DOCTOR PRATHER'S HOME. They suddenly SPILL to the floor. Russ drops to his knees and sweeps them up... looking for the photo of the Creature. RUSS (cont'd) I know it's here! DET. REECE What's there, Russ? RUSS The picture of the monster. DET. REECE Seriously, Russ. Lets drop all this pretense. RUSS Are you listening to me?! DET. REECE Sadly. RUSS I saw this thing with my own eyes! DET. REECE And I am assuming you had the good Doctor's full permission to examine his basement. Russ, I know you're smarter than that. RUSS We don't have much time! DET. REECE We know Steven Shuller was at the theater that night, Russ. Russ draws in a sharp breath. DET. REECE (cont'd) From your reaction I'm guessin' you knew that too. We got witnesses that saw him there. But I still got no one, other than your wife, that can tell me where you were that night. (beat) Where were you, Russ? RUSS I'm trying to help you!. Russ stands and stares straight at the Detective. DET. REECE Troubles at home? RUSS What? DET. REECE Your wedding ring. Ain't on your finger. Russ looks at his left hand... sees he's right: the ring is missing. RUSS I... must have taken it off. I do that sometimes. DET. REECE God lives in the corners, Russ. Russ nods. RUSS Thanks for your time. Russ turns and blows out the door. EXT. LASSARD HOME - EVENING A taxi deposits a defeated Russ back before his home. He steps slowly up to the front door clutching the photos. He spots the SUV parked in the driveway; Clara no doubt waiting frantically inside. INT. LASSARD HOME - CONTINUOUS Through the front door, Russ notices the home is eerily quiet. It is dark. All the lights are out. RUSS Clara? No answer. Russ crosses into-- KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS He scans the room. Nothing. Turns on the light. Russ rubs his eyes. Accidentally drops the photos to the floor. He sits ground, placing his back against a cabinet, feet out, looking exhausted. He picks up the photos one by one, flipping through them again. Confused. Anxious. Russ... begins to sob. It starts out slowly. Then harder. He covers his face and the tears flow. RUSS Why... Suddenly Samantha is sitting beside him. Bloodied. Torn. Hands in her lap. SAMANTHA Please don't cry, daddy. Russ slows down. Catches his breath. Turns to her. RUSS I miss you. SAMANTHA I miss you too. Tears gather in his eyes once more. He slows his breathing. RUSS It should have been me. Samantha slowly... nods. RUSS (cont'd) I wish it had been me. Pause. RUSS (cont'd) (through the tears) Do you remember when I taught you how to ride your bike. We were living on Skyler Street. In Lake Forest. Do you remember that? SAMANTHA Yes. RUSS And you fell off your bike. And you scraped up your knee. And you were crying and crying. And I just kept thinking... I want to ride that bike for you. SAMANTHA But you couldn't. RUSS No. I couldn't. But I wanted too. That's the hard thing. I wanted to be the one that felt your pain for you. I have always. There are so many things I want. (beat) I want that moment back. I want our moments back. There is nothing I wouldn't do. To have you back. (beat, looks at her) Nothing. Samantha smiles. Russ smiles back. RUSS (cont'd) But there's nothing I can do. Long moment. SAMANTHA They don't believe you. RUSS No, princess. They don't believe me. They sit in silence a moment. Both staring straight ahead. SAMANTHA I believe you. I know there's a monster. I've seen it. Russ smiles. RUSS I appreciate that, baby. But you're a figment of my imagination. I still love you though. SAMANTHA The monster isn't in the basement. RUSS Where is the monster, baby? She smiles. Blood stains her teeth. SAMANTHA You know where it is, daddy. And you know what you have to do. Russ stares at Samantha. Slowly nods. RUSS I miss you. But she is gone. He is speaking to no one. Russ stands. Doesn't move for a moment. Then, reaches into a drawer... and withdraws... a large, BUTCHER KNIFE. INT. POLICE STATION - DETECTIVE BUREAU - NIGHT Detective Reece slides on his coat and looks ready for the end of the day when his phone RINGS. He snaps it up. DET. REECE Reece. His shoulders slump. DET. REECE (cont'd) That's like two blocks away! I'll be right there. EXT. LASSARD HOME - NIGHT Russ stands in the driveway. Stares at the SUV. He slowly reaches for the door. INT. SUV - CONTINUOUS Russ sets the knife on the passenger seat. Slides the key into the ignition. A FLASH OF MEMORY: the moment of impact as he starts the car. His eyes close. Open again. Russ takes hold of the wheel. EXT. CRIME SCENE - NIGHT Crime tape ropes off the scene at the edge of some woods. This time the body is uncovered. A hand protrudes from some shrubs. Det. Reece rolls up in an unmarked car. Gets out. Crosses to Detective Carlin who has arrived just minutes before. DET. REECE Another one? Carlin looks grave. Shakes his head. DET. REECE (cont'd) What then? Carlin leans down. His gloved hand takes hold of something. A wallet. He opens it with one hand and shows it to Reece. DET. REECE (cont'd) Damnit. Reece's eyes scan the scene. He spots something. Kneels down and removes a pen from his coat. Picks up the unseen object with it. DET. CARLIN You find something, Bill? DET. REECE (sotto) Yes. A UNIFORMED OFFICER holding a cell phone calls out. UNIFORMED OFFICER Hey, Detective Carlin. You got a call. DET. CARLIN Who is it? UNIFORMED OFFICER Jim Prather. Carlin crosses to the officer. EXT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - NIGHT The SUV slides to a stop fifty yards from the darkened waterfront building. Russ kills the engine. Steps outside. There are no other cars in sight. Russ slowly approaches the front door. Sees... it has been propped open. Russ steps inside. INT. WATERFRONT BUILDING - NIGHT Russ moves forward, each step cautious. Fear flickers in his eyes as he moves into a new set of light and shadow; beams from the moon cutting frames of window across walls. An eerie stillness. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS Russ steps forward down a long hallway. Closed doors line the right side wall. He stares at each as he passes. Keeps moving until he hears... scratching... Russ turns to the door. Reaches out to the knob opens it. Blackness. Feels along the wall for the switch. Snaps it on. ROOM - CONTINUOUS A chill races up his back. The room is medically sterile. White upon white. A table in the center. And a body. Naked. Russ steps forward... Glances down at the face. It is one he recognizes... the face of PAIGE HOPKINS. Russ shudders as he examines her body, sewn together, wiped clean, back to near perfection.... Russ hears the scratching again. Eyes sweep down Paige's body... to a hand... and fingernails that are clawing at the table. He can barely let out a gasp when PAIGE'S EYES OPEN AND HER HEAD TURNS TO RUSS! Russ falls back... legs kicking. He quickly makes it to his feet and bolts out of the room. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS Russ races down one hall. Then another. His heart beating so hard we can hear it. Down another... when he suddenly stops. Sees a light. In an office. Dr. Prather's office... Russ slowly steps toward the light. DR. PRATHER'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS It appears empty. At first. He moves farther in and notices a stack of files on the center of Dr. Prather's desk. Russ takes a step forward then stops. Turns left and sees... CLARA... sitting in a chair in the corner. Tears moving down her cheek. Shock registers on Russ's face. RUSS Clara? What are you doing here? What's going on? She says nothing. Looks to the desk. Russ moves slowly to it. To the file folder. He looks to Clara. Then down to the folder. Opens it. AN AUTOPSY PHOTO The face, by now, is quite familiar. At the bottom it reads: "Paige Hopkins, 2002" Russ flips another page. This time, the same face, in a different pose. At the bottom it reads: "Paige Hopkins, 2003" He turns another page. Doesn't even seem to flinch when he hears the voice... DR. PRATHER (O.S.) I hate suffering, Russ. Can't stand it. It's why I became a doctor. Russ looks up. Dr. Prather stands in the doorway. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) I watched my wife suffer. Cancer got so bad, she decided the only way out was at the end of a .32 gauge shotgun in my basement. There was nothing I could do back then... but suffer myself. And I hate it. Russ flips another page. A new photo. Another familiar face, frozen in death. At the bottom it reads: "Cameryn Beck, 2003" Dr. Prather steps forward. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) But after the Prometheus Order... the expirements that showed us how to conquer death... I promised I would never let anyone suffer. If I could help it. (beat) There is no monster in my basement, Russell. And your daughter is dead. You have imagined them both. Russ flips to another folder. Another page. This time his face tightens and tears fill his eyes. It is the body of Samantha. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) The night of the crash... Samantha had no chance. The damage too great. There was nothing I could do. FLASH TO-- A car horn continues to blare. Twisted metal tosses plumes of smoke against the cold night. RUSS Wake up, princess. Please... Russ reaches out. Blurry bodies move behind him. FLASH BACK TO-- Russ, flips another page. This one startles him even more. Another autopsy photo. This one... is him. DR. PRATHER The doctors did their best... but your injuries were too great. You also died that night, Russ. FLASH TO-- Doctors work frantically over Russ... who flatlines on a hospital gurney. FLASH BACK TO SCENE-- DR. PRATHER (cont'd) I brought you back. I have known Clara since she was a child. And her loss... was mine. Clara sobs harder, covering her face. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) I brought you back and I brought you here. I meant it when I said to you that Mayflower was a very special place. It is the town of my childhood. A place I want to never feel pain. That is our secret. (beat) And there are those that know... FLASH TO-- Suspicious eyes at "The Faded Rose" glance over Russ. FLASH TO-- Suspicious eyes glance over Russ outside of the church. FLASH BACK TO-- Russ. Still turning pages in the file. Tears dropping to the desk. DR. PRATHER ...and those who can never remember. FLASH TO-- An autopsy photo of The Pastor, dated 2004... FLASH TO-- An autopsy photo of the Older Librarian, dated 2002... FLASH TO-- An autopsy photo of... Steven Shuller. Dated 2003. FLASH BACK TO SCENE-- Russ closes the folders. Slowly looks up to Dr. Prather. DR. PRATHER I have made it so this town could not suffer death... until we brought you here. Russ suddenly understands. RUSS The monster... Dr. Prather nods. DR. PRATHER ...is you. (beat) Your beasts... a creation of that very mysterious mind... FLASH TO-- Samantha dripping in blood. FLASH TO-- The Creature standing before Russ. FLASH TO-- Russ... skin pale, eyes white, murdering Paige Hopkins. FLASH BACK TO SCENE-- Dr. Prather nods. DR. PRATHER Something went wrong. Something I cannot repair. But something I can fix. I'm sure of it. Russ looks to Clara. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) Yes. She knew. She did her best to protect you. FLASH TO-- Clara caries bloody clothing from the floor. Shoves it into a fireplace and lights a match. FLASH BACK TO SCENE-- DR. PRATHER (cont'd) You refuse to be at peace with life. You are so angry and I don't know why. Tell me, Russ. Why? Russ says nothing. Grips the handle of the knife. DR. PRATHER (cont'd) We have been here before. Let me finally help you. (beat) Because I don't know how much longer I can try. Dr. Prather reaches out. RUSS No! He slashes out with the knife, catching Dr. Prather's arm. Prather falls back and Russ races out of the office. Clara chases after him. EXT. WAREHOUSE BUILDING - NIGHT Russ explodes out the front door and onto the dirt yard, tripping and landing hard on the ground. He makes it to his knees and holds his head. Fighting the truth... Clara is quickly beside him. CLARA Russ! Please! He looks up at her. RUSS You did this to me. Clara slowly nods. CLARA You have to understand. RUSS Understand what?! CLARA I was not prepared! You're not supposed to go through life worrying every moment that the people you love... will go away. Clara reaches out. Touches Russ's face. CLARA (cont'd) Most people don't ever have to feel that kind of pain. It wrecks your body. Pulls at your soul. I was not prepared for this. I lost everything. Samantha. I lost you. And it wasn't supposed to happen that way, you see? (beat) You were not supposed to go before-- RUSS --Before what?! CLARA (softly) Before me. A moment of silence. CLARA (cont'd) I've always told you, Russ. I can't live without you. Samantha was gone. I couldn't lose you both. It was too soon. Sirens are heard closing in fast. RUSS You don't know what you've done. Russ makes it to his feet. Clara stands beside him as a car skids to a stop 20 yards away. DETECTIVES REECE and CARLIN quickly step out, both holding revolvers at the ready. Russ stares into Clara's eyes. Clara stares back. DET. CARLIN Step away from her, Russ! Get on the ground! DET. REECE You heard him, Russ! Drop the knife. Russ keeps staring at Clara. Grips the handle of the knife even tighter. RUSS I'm not a monster. DET. REECE I found your wedding ring, Russ. Your friend Shuller. I found your ring at the scene. Your name is engraved on it. Russ keeps looking at Clara. Then down at his hand... where the ring used to be. RUSS (softer) I'm not a monster. DET. CARLIN There's plenty of time for that, Russ. Just put down the knife. Russ nods. Touches Clara's face. Smiles. Her eyes go wide. CLARA (pleading softly) No, Russ. We can fix it. We don't have to keep starting over. RUSS You have to let me go. CLARA (louder now) No... DET. REECE Get on the ground, Russ! Russ nods again. Breathes. Turns to Reece and... RAISES THE KNIFE AND CHARGES AT THE DETECTIVE! Detective Reece FIRES! The slug SLAMS into Russ's chest, right above the heart. He spins and spills back to the ground, blood pumping from the wound. And Clara cries out: CLARA Russ! On the ground: Russ gasps. Things... get hazy. Russ stares blankly up. Closes his eyes. EXT. ROAD - NIGHT Samantha stands on the edge of the road. Not a scratch on her. The burning wreckage of the crash in the distance. She looks troubled. Scans the horizon. SAMANTHA Daddy? Daddy, where are you? FLASH BACK TO-- EXT. WAREHOUSE BUILDING - NIGHT Dr. Prather appears at the front door. Clara is crumpled on the ground. Detective Reece slowly approaches Russ, lying in a pool of blood. He looks shocked at what he's done. DET. REECE He came at me... Reece looks over to Clara. Then to Dr. Prather. DET. REECE (cont'd) I didn't have a choice. Dr. Prather nods. Glances over at Detective Carlin. Detective Carlin sighs. Nods. RAISES HIS GUN AND FIRES, BLOWING Detective Reece off his feet and to the ground. The cop bleeds... Clara SCREAMS. DR. PRATHER Stop, Clara. We'll try again. RUSS-- His eyes flutter. He smiles. Exhales and lets go. FADE TO BLACK. EXT. ROAD - NIGHT Samantha stands in her bubblegum pink dress, as before, not a scratch, looking worried. SAMANTHA Daddy, where are you?! Russ appears, feet before her. He is also clean, now. Untouched. He crosses to her. Rests his hand on her head. RUSS I'm right here, princess. SAMANTHA Daddy? I want to go home. RUSS Okay, princess. We'll go home. He leads her away, hand in hers. The darkness gives way to light. The night, it seems, has become day. FADE TO BLACK. Silence. Then, OVER BLACK, the SOUND of a heartbeat. EXT. STREET - DAY A Young Woman rides her bike down a street. As she passes... we recognize her... as Paige Hopkins. She smiles... and keeps pedaling along. FADE TO BLACK. A heartbeat... EXT. MAYFLOWER HIGH SCHOOL - MORNING A crowd of students flush forward. Chatting and yelling. They break like a wave, split apart to leave one young woman, Cameryn Beck standing, clutching her books to her chest. She looks up at the banner: Welcome Class of '12 She uneasily steps forward. A look of sadness on her face. FADE TO BLACK. A heartbeat... INT. "THE FADED ROSE" - MORNING In mostly darkness, the front door opens and pours light across the screen. A figure stands in the doorway, silhouetted. He pauses a moment and steps forward. INT. BAR The figure introduces himself to light. Steven Shuller coughs. SHULLER Scotch, on the rocks. FADE TO BLACK. A heartbeat. INT. REECE'S HOME - NIGHT The home is dark. The inside bathed in blue moonlight. We PUSH IN to an open bedroom door. And a dark room. We hear the voice of Detective Reece. DET. REECE (O.S.) How are you feelin', Mama. Do you need anything? Can I get you some soup? As we PUSH IN CLOSER, we see Detective Reece sitting in a chair by a bed. DET. REECE (cont'd) Well... you let me know if there's anythin' you need. WE NOW SEE THAT THE BED... IS EMPTY. Detective Reece continues to speak... to a memory. FADE TO BLACK. A heartbeat. FLASH TO-- And he suddenly gasps! RUSSELL LASSARD'S eyes snap open and he sucks in air, his body leaping forward, awake. INT. SUV - DAY Russ is in the passenger seat. His wife Clara is behind the wheel. She turns to him. CLARA Are you okay? Do you need your pills? Russ wipes his eyes. RUSS No. I'm fine. Where are we? CLARA Just left St. Louis. Not far. Long moment. Russ seems confused. Heavy eyes. Clara... smiles. EXT. ROAD - DAY The SUV blows past us. We stay. Look up at the sign they've just passed. Little Rock 220 miles FADE TO BLACK.
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