A Thin Place
By Jason D. McIntosh

FADE IN (Nightmare sequence) SHORT SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS INTERMINGLED WITH CLIPS OF FILM FULL SCREEN PHOTOGRAPH 1 A small, happy family of three – Dad, Mom, and 6 year old Daughter are arranged in a typical family portrait. INT. KITCHEN OF THE FAMILY’S OLD HOUSE – DAY The family is packing up to leave as if for a vacation. THOMAS and EMILY are holding hands and ready to go while JILLIAN is still fussing with a few loose items. THOMAS (to Jillian) We’d better hurry…we don’t want to keep Grandpa waiting… FULL SCREEN PHOTOGRAPH 2 Thomas and Jillian embracing in an impromptu, yet intimate hug, Jillian is laughing. INT. KITCHEN OF THE FAMILY’S OLD HOUSE The family is finally walking out the door to leave for Grandpa’s house, but Jillian’s beeper suddenly goes off. Oh noooo… JILLIAN

Thomas and Jillian exchange glances. Thomas sighs disappointedly. It looks like Jillian won’t be able to go away with her husband and daughter this time. FULL SCREEN PHOTOGRAPH 3 A picture of Emily lovingly embracing POOTIES, her new kitten - complete with a bow around his collar, as a beaming Thomas hands him to her. INT. DOWNSTAIRS OFFICE OF THE FAMILY’S OLD HOUSE Jillian hangs up the phone as Thomas and Emily wait for the verdict.

© 2011 Jason D. McIntosh

-3JILLIAN That was the Research Center. Molly can’t cover it for me. I have to go in tomorrow. Jillian strides across the living room to the kitchen to kneel in front of a disappointed Emily. Jillian reaches out a hand and tenderly caresses Emily’s sad face. JILLIAN (continuing) I’m sorry sweetie…give Grandpa a kiss for me, k? EMILY (brightening a little at mommy’s touch)


Emily wraps her arms around her mother’s neck. After the embrace, Jillian stands up to give Thomas a hug and kiss goodbye. JILLIAN If I can get away I will…I promise…You’d better get going. THOMAS We can stay…maybe we can do this next weekend, or… JILLIAN No, that’s okay…you go ahead. (sighs) Just tell them I’m sorry. Jillian gives Thomas one more big hug and an endearing kiss. JILLIAN (smiling dreamily) THOMAS (returning the kiss)

I love you.

I love you back.

Emily, still holding her father’s hand looks up at the two and rolls her eyes. Thomas and Jillian catch the look and laugh. THOMAS (still laughing)

Okay, okay…we’re going!

Thomas scoops Emily up in one arm and grabs the last suitcase in his free hand.

© 2011 Jason D. McIntosh

-4THOMAS (to Jillian) I’ll see you in a couple days. I’ll call you tonight. Jillian closes the door behind them and sighs. She then turns and walks out of view. SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS – MOVING The scenery grows a bit darker. Chaotic. Images begin to blur. Several photographs of family outings, Thomas and Jillian’s wedding day, Thomas and Jillian bringing Emily home from the hospital on the day she was born, etc. INT. LIVING ROOM AT GRANDPA’S HOUSE – NIGHT Thomas is on the phone trying to call Jillian, but no answer. The unanswered RINGING can be heard through the receiver. Emily is asleep on GRANDPA’S lap in an easy chair nearby. A large antique clock on the table nearby shows that it is nearly 11:30pm. THOMAS (hanging up the phone, concern in his voice) That’s strange. There’s still no answer. GRANDPA (whispering so as not to wake up his granddaughter) Maybe she’s out with the girls. THOMAS Trust me, Dad. Not this late. And the answering machine should have picked up. She’s not even answering her cell. SERIES OF PHOTGRAPHS – MOVING More family photos. Highlights of happy moments in their last few years together. The photos and erratic display of them still indicates chaos and uncertainty. INT. LIVING ROOM AT GRANDPA’S HOUSE – MIDNIGHT Thomas is trying to call Jillian again. Still, there is no answer. Grandpa and Emily have gone to bed. The old clock shows that it is nearly midnight. Thomas is obviously growing more and more concerned. THOMAS (whispering) C’mon…c’mon…c’mon…

© 2011 Jason D. McIntosh

-5The phone on the other end can still be heard RINGING through Thomas’ receiver. CLOSE SHOT of the phone and Thomas’ worried mouth. RINGING. POV rapidly ‘entering’ the phone, as if attached to Thomas’ frantic voice, traveling in a quickly winding, erratic route to come out the other end of the line into INT. DOWNSTAIRS OFFICE OF THE FAMILY’S OLD HOUSE – MIDNIGHT The room is ablaze with a VIOLENTLY RAGING FIRE. Several ANGLES across the living room to the kitchen, where the happy family had been together only hours ago, now ENGULFED IN FLAMES. Beams are CRASHING to the floor everywhere. Glass can be heard SHATTERING as the heat causes them to EXPLODE. A CLOSE SHOT of the framed family portrait lying on the ground, as it is half consumed by fire, the glass cracked and darkened. SIRENS can now be heard faintly in the background over the ROARING of the flames. The WAILING sirens BLEND INTO A WOMAN’S SCREAM coming from somewhere else in the house. ANGLE ON a closet door, flames dance along the frame and across the lower panels. The door opens, smoke and inky blackness pour out. Two YELLOW EYES FLASH OPEN as long, grotesque arms with clawed hands grope out of the closet door in the midst of this fiery chaos toward the POV. The hands draw dangerously close… CUT TO: INT. THOMAS’ BEDROOM IN THE FAMILY’S NEW APARTMENT – 4:43 AM ANGLE ON Thomas as he bolts upright in his bed, drenched with sweat and trembling from yet another NIGHTMARE. The raging sounds of his dream are SILENCED abruptly. Thomas swings his legs over the edge of his bed and sighs heavily, his face resting in his hands. The digital clock on his nightstand reads: 4:43 AM Pale blue light from a nearby streetlamp streams in through a window nearby. Faint street SOUNDS can be heard in the distance. INT. HALLWAY IN THE FAMILY’S NEW APARTMENT – EARLY MORNING ANGLE ON Thomas as he slowly walks down the hall toward the bathroom. The POV is eerie, MOVING slightly, as if Thomas is being watched by SOMEONE, or SOMETHING. Thomas feels the uneasy tension and turns quickly to look down the hallway. There is

© 2011 Jason D. McIntosh

-6nothing there that he can see, so he continues with his nightly routine and heads into the bathroom. INT. BATHROOM – EARLY MORNING Thomas is staring at his haggard reflection in the mirror. He is exhausted and worn from these nightmares. He splashes water on his face and then opens the medicine cabinet to retrieve his prescription tablets. He pops the cover and shakes out two pills. Thomas looks at them and hesitates…almost doubtful, then swallows them dry. He’s had to do this too many times. INT. HALLWAY – EARLY MORNING Thomas exits the bathroom, continuing his nightly ritual, and moves several doors down to check on Emily. He quietly pushes on a partly open door and silently enters her room. INT. EMILY’S BEDROOM – EARLY MORNING The bedroom window is partly open and the wind is playing lightly in the pale blue light streaming over the translucent curtains. Thomas crosses the room and sits on the edge of his little girl’s bed, content to just watch her breathe and sleep peacefully. It is obvious that she is his reason for living. Thomas looks thoughtfully around the room, as if drinking in the innocence and love emanating from every nook and cranny. Emily’s room is a typical 9 year old girl’s room, complete with light purple accents and dolls. But one thing sets her room apart: angels. Emily loves them. Drawings, paintings, night-lights…a shelf of books – most of which depict angels in some form or another. Thomas spots the small white Bible on her nightstand next to a framed photograph of Thomas, Jillian, and Emily taken just months before the fire. Emily stirs. EMILY (smiling sleepily)

I was dreaming of mommy.

THOMAS (pushing the hair back from Emily’s face) Me too, sweetheart… Emily turns over and falls back to sleep. Thomas picks up the old photo and strokes his wife’s face with his thumb…then, dropping his head, begins to weep silently.

© 2011 Jason D. McIntosh


INT. KITCHEN – APPROXIMATELY 7:00AM Thomas is dressed for the day and is making breakfast for Emily and himself. As he is pouring a bowl of her favorite cereal, Emily walks into the kitchen fully dressed for school with a hairbrush in her hand. She gives her dad a hug around the waist and hands him the brush. THOMAS (begins brushing Emily’s hair) Good morning, sweetheart…how’d you sleep? Good. EMILY

Thomas notices several clumps of Emily’s hair coming out as he brushes. His face suddenly becomes grim as he removes the hair from the brush and pauses. Emily looks up at him and Thomas quickly regains his composure and resumes brushing, stuffing the hair clumps in his pocket to hide them from Emily. How are you feeling today? My head hurts a little. THOMAS EMILY

THOMAS Do you need to stay home? You can if you want to…I can take the day off if you’d like… EMILY No…that’s okay, daddy…today is the Art Fair and I don’t want to miss it. Thomas finishes with Emily’s hair and turns her around. Kneeling in front of her he kisses her endearingly on the forehead. THOMAS Okay. Finish your cereal and I’ll take you to school. INT. THOMAS’ CAR – APPROXIMATELY 8:00AM Emily is getting out of the car as Thomas drops her off at school. THOMAS Good-bye! I’ll pick you up right here after school, ok?

© 2011 Jason D. McIntosh

-8EMILY (nods)

Bye daddy…I love you!

Emily turns and runs off to the front door as the school bell RINGS. Thomas watches her from the car and slowly drives off. EXT. STREET – MORNING ANGLE ON Thomas’ car amidst other morning commuters. INT. THOMAS’ CAR – MORNING Thomas is weaving in and out of traffic on his way to a morning appointment. He looks tired. His cell phone RINGS just as a delivery boy on a bike cuts him off, forcing him to slam on his brakes. The cell phone skids off the passenger seat onto the floor and is still RINGING. Thomas scrambles to reach the phone and drive at the same time. Finally, he picks up the phone, and immediately regrets that he did. JAKE STREAM, his boss from the Tribune can be heard YELLING over the receiver. THOMAS (sighing deeply)

Yeah…hi Jake.

JAKE (shouting) Do you have ANY idea what time it is? I’m on a DEADLINE here, Tom…while that may mean NOTHING to you, in my business it’s LIFE or DEATH! I’ll have them there on time, I – THOMAS

JAKE No…NO! You’ll have them there BEFORE “ON TIME”, or I’ll be looking for another artist! Is that CLEAR?! Thomas makes to answer, but Jake has hung up the phone. Seconds later Thomas pulls into a parking spot in front of his destination. Still gripping the cell phone, Thomas tosses it to the floor in frustration and takes a moment to gather himself. He rakes his fingers through his hair and sighs…as if debating to get out of the car at all. Finally he looks at his watch and steps out. EXT. CITY STREET – MORNING Thomas glances uneasily around to make sure no one he knows sees him. Then, he strolls up the walkway and past the sign that reads “St. Mary’s Mental Health Center”. © 2011 Jason D. McIntosh


INT. WAITING AREA OF THE MENTAL HEALTH CENTER – MORNING The room is small and comfortable. Thomas is slouching in a chair with his head back on his seat nearly asleep. He is the only person in the room. A RECEPTIONIST enters the room and calls out RECEPTIONIST Thomas…Doctor Hanes will see you now. Thomas startles and wearily rises from his chair and follows the nurse. INT. DR. MIRA K. HANES’ OFFICE – MORNING The room is adorned in a neat and orderly fashion. It’s a plush room signifying wealth, knowledge and status. Multiple awards and diplomas are framed around the room as a testament to the doctor’s schooling. Her name is stenciled on the pebbled office window. DR. HANES is a woman in her mid to upper forties. She is a professional in every sense of the word. Her demeanor shows little warmth…only professionalism. Dr. Hanes is sitting at a desk feverishly writing as Thomas is in the middle of recounting the same nightmare he’s had nearly every night for the past 3 years. Thomas looks haggard and frustrated sitting hunched over in a couch across the room; Dr. Hanes looks almost bored. DR. HANES Was there anything different about your dream this time? Anything that stood out to you? THOMAS No…but, it was so…real. I could almost smell the smoke. (sighs) Everything was the same…wait, no…this time it ended different. There were two arms reaching for me out of a burning closet…they were… INSERT clip of nightmare as Thomas remembers the ARMS. DR. HANES (her voice brings him out of his flashback) Your wife’s arms? THOMAS Nooo!…they were grotesque…like (hesitates)…and there were these two eyes (he shudders at the memory and decides to shift the conversation)…then, when I woke up, I felt – like I wasn’t alone in my room anymore. Dr. Hanes peers over the edge of her notebook and raises an eyebrow in disbelief. © 2011 Jason D. McIntosh

- 10 -


DR. HANES (a tone of sarcasm, perhaps disinterest)

Thomas, catching the look in her eye and the mild sarcasm in her voice, erupts from his seat. THOMAS (agitated and angry) What’s THAT supposed to mean?...You think I’m crazy…is that it? Is that your ‘professional diagnosis’? I’ve poured my GUTS out to you for the past 3 months …for WHAT?! You give me pills that DON’T work, ‘sage’ advice like, “I seeee” and “MmmHmm”… Thomas moves closer to the startled psychiatrist. THOMAS (continuing…growing angrier and more sarcastic) …and then proceed to sit there and ‘professionally scribble’… Thomas reaches out and SNATCHES Dr. Hanes’ notebook from her hand. She recoils thinking he is going to strike her. Thomas glances angrily at the notebook and frowning heavily at what he reads before SLAMMING it down on her desk. THOMAS (continuing, shouting) …your ‘GROCERY LIST’ ?! Thomas places both of his fists on her desk and leans in dangerously close. THOMAS (threatening whisper) Listen to me…doctor…my life hangs by a thread. Every day I imagine how I might join my wife…every night I’m reminded how she was taken away from me. And the ONLY reason I don’t put a bullet through my skull in the morning… Thomas reaches into his back pocket and pulls out his wallet, flipping open to a school photograph of Emily and shoves it toward the face of Dr. Hanes. THOMAS (continuing) …is because THIS little girl won’t let me! Thomas throws the wallet on Dr. Hanes’ desk. The wallet flops open to the family portrait.

© 2011 Jason D. McIntosh

- 11 -

THOMAS (sadly, regaining his composure) And now I might lose her, too. Thomas then turns abruptly and storms toward the door, grabbing his jacket from the couch on the way by it. He then strides out and SLAMS the door. Dr. Hanes sits back in her chair, deflated. She is shaken and speechless. She puts her face in her hands and leans her elbows on her desk. Thomas BURSTS back into the room and stalks back toward Dr. Hanes’ desk. Dr. Hanes shrinks back, expecting a blow. Thomas merely snatches his forgotten wallet off of her desk and storms out again…SLAMMING the door so HARD that the doctor’s degree hanging on the near wall falls to the ground and the glass SHATTERS. ANGLE ON the degree lying on the floor. INT. THOMAS’ KITCHEN – LATE MORNING Thomas walks through the door, dropping his keys on the table and his jacket in a heap on a chair nearby. Tiredly, he opens the refrigerator and pulls out a can of beer. He leans heavily against the fridge and casually puts his hand in his pocket. Looking down, he pulls out the clump of Emily’s hair that he forgot was still there. Angrily, Thomas sighs and stuffs the hair into the trash under the sink and resumes his posture against the refrigerator, beer in hand. He is mid-sip when the phone rings. Thomas just shakes his head and picks up the phone and is greeted by an attractive, professional female voice. Hello? THOMAS CUT TO:

DR. ANGELA REESE Hello, Tom…it’s DR. REESE from the Oncology Research Center. THOMAS Oh…hi, doctor. How are you today? DR. REESE I’m doing well…Listen, Tom…the reason I’m calling is – Suddenly, Thomas’ cell phone RINGS on his hip. He looks at the number, the caller ID reads “WORK”. © 2011 Jason D. McIntosh

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful