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FADE IN:

INT – ANTIQUE STORE – AFTERNOON

The antique shop is small and quaint, about the size of a mall inlet store. Several rows of shelves, organized loosely categories, are covered in strange artifacts, furniture, pottery, and toys. ALEXANDER HAYES, a handsome man in his mid-30s and attired in slacks and a dress shirt with a tie, traipses around the antique store, perusing the shelves with a look of urgency on his face. Seeing nothing that catches his eye, he sighs in disappoint. Pulling out a pocket-sized planner, he flips to a page in his log.

INSERT

shot of planner as Hayes sees it, the date showing that it is a Monday. There is a “To Do” list highlighted in yellow on the page, and several items are crossed off. The last item on the list reads, “PICK UP A BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR CAITLYN” in large bold letters.

BACK TO SHOT

Hayes looks frustrated, and flips ahead a few pages in his planner.

INSERT

shot of planner again. This time the date shows Wednesday. On the page is a circled block of text which reads, “CAITLYN’S B-DAY: PARTY AT 8PM.”

BACK TO SHOT

Hayes sighs in disappointment again and looks back at the shelf to his right. Suddenly his eyes light up. On the shelf is a hand-carved and painted wooden frog. After inspecting the item for damage, Hayes picks it up and takes it to the CASHIER at the back of the store. The cashier, an older man, initiates the transaction.







CASHIER






(cordial)


Found something we like, hmm?














ALEXANDER






(pleased)


Sure did! I didn’t think I was going to find anything but, well…you see, I have to get a gift for someone from work, and she’s hard to shop for. I checked everywhere, and there was nothing she doesn’t already have. But I know she loves frogs. This’ll be perfect for her!

The cashier types a number from the tag on the frog into his desktop computer and rings up the order. He looks back up at Alexander.







CASHIER


Glad you found something that works out! That frog you’ve got is of Indian descent. Supposedly it’s 300 years old.







ALEXANDER


You don’t say…







CASHIER


Yes. I’ve found some of the most interesting art in India. They make exquisite furniture…like that chest over there in the corner.

The cashier points to a far corner of the store, empty save for a single item – a large chest, as long as a casket and as nearly 3 feet deep.







CASHIER


Bought it from someone who wanted to get it off their hands, and it’s in near-perfect condition! It’s made out of 100% albesian wood, which is found only in Asia, but the chest itself was made in India. If your friend likes that frog, she’d love this chest!







ALEXANDER


Maybe, but I really don’t have that much money on me.






(CONTINUED)








ALEXANDER (CONT.)


I’m sure the chest is great, and it looks like it could fit a ton of stuff in it, but I couldn’t live with myself spending that much money on just a birthday present…







CASHIER






(politely interrupting)


Not a problem! Not a problem! The chest is on sale! Only $25!







ALEXANDER






(shocked)


$25? You’ve got to be kidding me. That thing looks like it…







CASHIER


Nope, $25.







ALEXANDER






(stammering)


But…why?







CASHIER


We’ve been trying to get sell it for over a month now. I guess we set the price too high, but you know, we need to make room for new things…







ALEXANDER


Wow…well, if you’re not kidding, I’ll take it for the $25! For that price, I’d be crazy not to!







CASHIER






(eyes lighting up)


Wonderful! You will not regret this sir! Would you like us to deliver it for you free or charge?







ALEXANDER


That would be really nice of you. I don’t have a truck or anything. How about noon tomorrow?









CASHIER


Sounds good! We’ll drop it off at noon. Just write your address on this pad here, and we’ll do the rest!

The cashier extends a pad of paper and a pencil. Alexander quickly jots down his address and phone number, and writes a check for his purchases. He and the cashier exchange salutations, a silly grin on Hayes' face as he leaves the store.

INT – HAYES’ OFFICE/CUBICLE – LATE AFTERNOON

We see Alexander sitting in his cubicle, surrounded by bland temporary walls. His desk is covered with stacks of paperwork, and he is tapping a pen on his keyboard, staring at the nearest wall clock as the end of his shift approaches.

INSERT

Close-up shot of the wall clock, as the hands suddenly move into the 5 PM position.

BACK TO SHOT

Hayes gets up from his desk, puts on his jacket, collects his things, and leaves his cubicle.

INT – INSIDE OF HAYES’ CAR – MINUTES LATER

Alexander is seen sitting in his car, making his home. Through the car windows we can see that it is cold, dreary, and overcast outside. Hayes’ windshield wipers are on full blast as rain pelts his car. As Hayes reaches his apartment complex, he pulls into his single-space parking garage and gets out of his car.

INT – APARTMENT HALL – TIME CONTINUOUS

Alexander makes his way down the long hall that leads to his apartment door, and when he reaches his room, he finds the albesian chest delivered outside his door, with a receipt tacked onto it. He unlocks his front door, drags the chest inside his apartment, and shuts the door behind him, appearing very happy.


INT – ANTIQUE SHOP – TIME CONTINUOUS

The shopkeeper who sold the albesian chest to Alexander the other day is behind his desk, on the phone with someone. We hear the cashier as he is in mid-conversation.







CASHIER






(indignant)
No, no, no! It wasn’t like that!


(pause, listens to speaker)
Yes, I know that, but listen to me! Nobody in their right mind would want that damn thing, knowing where it came from!
(pauses, listening, then responds angrily)


Look, I don’t care what you say! That chest has been nothing but trouble, and I never would’ve taken it from you in the first place if you had told me the truth about it! You should be happy you found some sucker to take it for you! Too bad it had to be me, and now someone else, too!


(listens again, then speaks more calmly)
Right, right.


(beat)
Yes, I got $25 for it.


(listens, then responds with a mocking chuckle)
Ha! Don’t kid yourself! I know where you got that chest from and how much you paid for it! You asking price was ridiculous!


(listens)
No, end of conversation! Take what money it made and go – you’re a sick man, Stephens. You’re a sick goddamn man! Don’t ever bring me any of your shit again!

The cashier violently slams the phone back down onto the receiver, hanging up on JOSEPH STEPHENS, the man he was talking to. He shakes as if trying to rid himself of a shiver, and then proceeds to close up his store. He places a set of bills into his cash register, turns off the lights, and walks out his back door.




INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – EVENING

We see Alexander speaking to someone on a portable phone. He is attired in pajamas and is inspecting his albesian chest for defects. Again, we catch the two in mid-conversation.

ALEXANDER
I don’t get it, Caitlyn – this chest is such a piece of work…twenty-five bucks…just twenty-five bucks…I can’t believe it.
(pauses, listening)
No, no, there’s nothing wrong with it. I’ve checked it inside and out. I thought maybe there was a cheap inlay or something, or that the lock was broken, or even that it had a horrible smell or something – but nothing! This chest looks brand new! Even the big key works!

Alexander fondles the large bronze chest key, and then tests it out by locking the chest. As he removes the key, his face lights up with joy.

ALEXANDER
Oh, yes! Yeah! I’d love to! The movie, I mean! I’d love to go see it with you! When?
(listens)
Yeah, I’m free Thursday! Of course!
(listens, then a puzzled look comes over his face)
Oh, we don’t need to figure that out right now! We can decide which one to see at your party. It’s at 8 o’clock, right?
(listens)
Yeah…no, I didn’t forget! I can’t wait to see what you think of it!

Alex strides over to his bedside table, looking over the wooden frog he bought at the antique store. His eyes wander to his digital alarm clock. Seeing the time, his tone changes.

ALEXANDER
(urgently)
Oh, geez! I just realized the time!
(CONTINUED)

ALEXANDER (CONT.)
It’s really getting late. I think I should wrap this up for the night. I have a meeting at 7 AM tomorrow.
(pauses, listening)
Okay, okay. No problem. We’ll work out the details then. See you tomorrow?
(beat)
Great! Good night, Cait!
(beat)
Oh, and don’t worry about the chest. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s something wrong with it.
(pauses)
Okay, goodnight. Bye…

As Alexander hangs up the phone, his joyous expression becomes more serious. He puts the phone back onto its receiver and gets into bed. He checks to make sure his alarm is set for 6 AM and then turns off his bedside light.

EXT – PROPERTY SURROUNDING THE APARTMENT – TIME INDETERMINATE

Using special effects, the property around the apartment complex is shown changing seasons from summer to fall. The days change from day to night as many days pass in fast forward, and the leaves change colors before finally falling from their respective trees. We return to regular time as autumn arrives.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – EVENING

Alexander, again in his pajamas, is seen in bed, concentrating on a book. He reads for a while before suddenly looking up. Inadvertently, he stares in the direction of the albesian chest, and is shocked to see a ghastly white finger, tipped with a blackened fingernail, protruding from under its lid. Hayes stares at it for a moment. It barely moves, but is active enough to seem alive. Hayes’ face exudes first shock and then anger, and he hurls the book he is reading at the finger. He misses the mark, hitting the corner of the chest, and the finger appears to disappear suddenly. Alexander approaches and opens the chest, but finds nothing inside to explain the finger. He picks his book up and returns to bed, rubbing his eyes and shaking his head doubtfully. Once back in bed, he pretends to read for a while longer, looking up frequently, but the finger is never there. Alexander looks over at a calendar on his bedside, focusing on a note that he has highlighted and circles. It reads, “LUNCH WITH CAITLYN: 12:30.” Rubbing his eyes once more, he lays down. He glances one more time at the albesian chest and seeing no finger, turns off his light.

INT – LOCAL DELI – NOON

Alexander and Caitlyn, a petite brunette with her hair tied back, are seen eating lunch together and making conversation.

CAITLYN
You know, maybe it was just eyestrain…

ALEXANDER
(in between bites of his sandwich)
Yeah, must’ve been, but it’s still weird. It looked so real…

CAITLYN
I don’t know what to tell you. You could take it back, I guess.
(with a bubbly laugh)
This should qualify as unusual, I would think!

ALEXANDER
(smirking)
Yes, I suppose it would. But maybe it’s me…
(jokingly)
And I don’t think the antique store would accept me if I wanted to return MYSELF to the store!

Caitlyn laughs and gives Alexander a playful shove on the shoulder, her eyes on the table. She raises her eyes and finds herself staring directly into Alexanders’. Seeing the look on his face, Caitlyn suddenly becomes shy.

CAITLYN
(laughing nervously)
Well, um…I guess we should go back to work, Alex.

ALEXANDER
(disappointed, checking his watch)
Sure…I guess we should.
ALEXANDER (CONT.)
(noticing the expression on Caitlyn’s face)
What’s wrong, Cait?

CAITLYN
(not looking up)
Nothing…it’s just…
(looks up)
I wanted to ask if you wanted to see another movie.

ALEXANDER
(lighting up)
Of course! You’re the best! How about tonight?

CAITLYN
(more confident, looking up)
Oh, yeah…yeah! Tonight would be great! Meet me at 8:30?

ALEXANDER
Sounds like a plan! I’ll see you later then, okay?

Caitlyn nods. The two get up, put on their jackets, exchange a hug, and wave goodbye as they exit in separate directions. The camera follows Caitlyn as she leaves the deli.

CAITLYN
(in a content whispering sigh)
God, I love him…

INT – APARTMENT HALL – NIGHT

Caitlyn enters the apartment hall through the parking garage door, Alexander opening and holding the door for her. Caitlyn turns and looks at him intently. They join hands once inside the hall, and make their way to Hayes’ front door. As they reach the door, Alex breaks the silence.

ALEXANDER
(feigning interest)
So, what did you think of the movie?

CAITLYN
(softly, looking at her feet)
I’m not sure…
(looking into Alex’s eyes lovingly)
I was paying more attention to you…

Alexander responds by giving Caitlyn a hug, wrapping her in his arms. From over Alex’s shoulder, we see Caitlyn with her eyes closed, smiling peacefully. Over her shoulder, we Alexander with an innocent grin on his face, blinking his eyes in disbelief. The two eventually let go and look into each other’s eyes. Caitlyn leans in and gives Alexander a peck on the check and without another word, they end their night. Alexander watches Caitlyn as she disappears down the hall, and waits until he can no longer see her before unlocking his own apartment and entering.

INT – HAYES’ APARTMENT – TIME CONTINUOUS

Alex removes his jacket, hangs it on a kitchen chair, and locks the door behind him. He heads for the bedroom.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – TIME CONTINUOUS

Alex enters the room looking as if he has fallen in love for the first time, but the boyish grin is wiped from his face as his gaze strays to the albesian chest, sitting all by itself against the wall across from his bed. Alex stares at the chest for a moment, expecting to see the finger, but there is nothing there. He laughs at himself as he heads for the bathroom.

INT – BEDROOM – LATER THAT EVENING

Alex, garbed again in his pajamas, is sitting up in bed, finishing up a magazine. As he finishes it, he grabs another from the nightstand and starts to peruse it. Suddenly, he looks up from the magazine – and his gaze drifts to the albesian chest. Alex’s face twists into a look of horror.

INSERT

Medium shot of the albesian chest. The ghastly white finger with its gruesome black nail is again protruding from the chest, scraping slightly against the lock on the front. The camera slowly zooms in, accentuating the jerky, writhing motion of the corpse-like finger.

BACK TO SHOT

Alex, never taking his eyes off the chest, reaches for a heavy metal ashtray that he keeps on his bedside table. Once he has it in his hand, he slides silently out of bed and proceeds to creep along the wall to the other side of the room. Keeping his eyes on the ghastly white finger, he creeps within three feet of the chest. The finger suddenly disappears. Hayes, frustrated and shaking nervously, rubs his eyes again, and takes a deep breathe. He reaches for the lid of the chest and then whips it open quickly. He instinctively swings the ashtray in the direction of the chest but realizing that it is empty again, retracts his hand. Breathing heavily, Alexander shakes his head in disbelief, and then slams the lid of the chest shut. He backs away from it cautiously, stumbling purposefully into the bathroom. Flipping on the light, he stares at himself in the mirror. He is a wreck, half asleep with bloodshot eyes. Turning on the faucet, he splashes his face with water, and then towels off. He stares at the chest from inside the bathroom and shudders. He looks at himself one more time in the mirror, and then covers his face with both hands in exhaustion.

INT – BEDROOM – EARLY MORNING / BEFORE DUSK

Hayes, still asleep, is tossing and turning in bed, drenched in a cold sweat. Suddenly he wakes up with a scream, as if from a nightmare, and immediately looks toward the chest pleadingly. He looks at his clock and wipes his face in agony when he sees how early it is, but gets up anyway.

INT – LANDLADY’S OFFICE - MORNING

Hayes and his landlady, MRS. TAYLOR, are seen sitting at a breakfast table in her office. Each has a cup of coffee, but Hayes has both his hands wrapped around his, trying to get a grip on his situation. Lifting his gaze from the table, he speaks.

ALEXANDER
(sighs, sounding tired)
So, is there a charge for this?

MRS. TAYLOR
No, only for things like washers and refrigerators. Only large furniture is a problem.

ALEXANDER
(under his breathe)
Yeah, whatever…
(to Mrs. Taylor)
Okay, well – whatever it takes. I can’t explain it, but I’ve been having horrible nightmares for the last few days, and nothing makes sense anymore.

Alex passes both of his hands in front of himself, drawing attention to his condition.

ALEXANDER
Look at me! I can’t keep going to work like this!

Alex covers his face with one hand in shame, embarrassed that he has said so much.

MRS. TAYLOR
(sympathetic)
It’s okay, Mr. Hayes. We’ll have the garbage collectors take the chest this afternoon while you’re out. You wanted them to burn it, right?

ALEXANDER
(looking up, in spite)
Yes, burn it.

MRS. TAYLOR
All right, I’ll give them your note. I’ll make sure they dispose of it for you.

ALEXANDER
(somewhat relieved)
Awesome. Thank you. Have a nice day, ma’am…

Alex finishes his cup of coffee, rises from the table, and shakes Mrs. Taylor’s hand. He turns his back and exits the office, leaving Mrs. Taylor by herself, reading over Alex’s note quizzically.




EXT – GARBAGE DUMP - AFTERNOON

We see the large-item garbage truck pull into the dump and make its way across to the back half of the site. It stops at its destination, a corralled area with a sign out front that reads, “BURN SITE: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.” Two garbage men emerge from the vehicle, one from the driver’s side and one from the passenger. They are JACOB, a middle age looking man, and TIM, looking to be in his early 20’s. They meet at the back of the truck and help lift the albesian chest out and to the ground. Once they both get a good grip on it, they pick it up and start carrying it through the gate and into the burn area. Halfway to the burning pit, they are approached by their manager.

MANAGER
(jogging over to them)
Whoa, whoa! Hold up!


(the two men look in his direction)


What is that you boys have there?

Jacob and Tim stop dead in their tracks.





JACOB
Just some old chest someone wanted to burn. See, here’s the directions his landlord gave us.

Tim nods in agreement as Jacob hands the manager Alexander’s note. The manager quickly skims over it and proceeds to inspect the chest more closely.





MANAGER




(pointing at the note)
Looks like a mighty fine chest there. Are you sure you boys didn’t pick up the wrong one? This thing looks like it’s worth $1,000 or more.

Tim and Jacob look at each other and shrug.





TIM




(unsure of himself)


I thought it was the only one he had…




(to Jacob)


Wasn’t it, Jake?





JACOB




(confidence wavering)


Uh…yeah, at least I thought so.




(beat)
Oh, geez…I think I saw one in the kitchen, right by the door, come to think of it.





MANAGER




(pointing at the chest)
Well, don’t go burning nothin’ if you aren’t sure it’s supposed to be burned.

Jacob sighs and signals to Tim to head back to the truck.





JACOB


Shoot…maybe it is the wrong one. I dunno…





TIM


Well, it sure doesn’t look like garbage.





JACOB
Well, let’s put it back for now, and we can have this guy clarify for us later.

Tim nods in agreement and the two load the chest back onto the truck.

INT – HAYES’ APARTMENT – LATE AFTERNOON

Entering the apartment, Alexander is shocked to find the chest still there, sitting in the center of the room as if it is mocking him. He is visibly angry and matches back out his door.

INT – OUTSIDE LANDLADY’S DOOR – TIME CONTINUOUS

Hayes bangs on his landlady’s door impatiently until she finally opens it.

ALEXANDER
(livid)
What the hell is that goddamn chest still doing here? I thought I told you to have them take it away!!

Mrs. Taylor starts to explain, but Alexander cuts her off.










ALEXANDER
I gave you SPECIFIC directions that I wanted it taken away and burned! You obviously don’t understand my situation! I pay $500 a month for this goddamn apartment and fix all the problems myself – the least you could’ve done was this ONE favor!

Alexander suddenly realizes he’s out of line and calms down.





ALEXANDER
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Sorry…





MRS. TAYLOR
Two men did come and take your chest, but they brought it back saying they made a mistake and took the wrong one. I never saw the chest myself, so they left it here. I’m sorry, Mr. Hayes…we can arrange for them to come back tomorrow.

Alexander looks dismayed at the thought of spending another night with the chest.

ALEXANDER
No, no, that’s okay. I’ll take care of it myself. Have a nice day, ma’am…

Alexander leaves the office.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – EVENING

Hayes is in bed reading another book, and as he turns his head to his window, we see that it is again windy and rainy outside. Hayes, instinctively now, looks up and over at the chest, which is now back across from his bed. Without warning, he suddenly springs from his bed. He grabs the bronze key for the chest off his bedside table and crosses the room, locking the chest shut.

ALEXANDER
(to himself)
I can’t believe I didn’t think of that earlier…god…

More relaxed now that the chest is locked, Alex places his book and the key on his bedside table and flips off his light.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM (DREAM SEQUENCE) – DARK

Alexander is woken up by the sound of SCRATCHING in his room. He tries to turn on his lamp, but it doesn’t work, so he takes a candle and lighter from his nightstand drawer and uses them instead. With the candle lit, he gets out of bed and searches near his bed for the source of the scratching. Then, seeing something out of the corner of his eye, he turns toward the chest – and sees the white finger again coming out of the albesian chest. This time there is no mistaking that the finger is alive, scratching at the lock as if trying to pick it open with its nail. The finger suddenly freezes, as if aware of Alex’s gaze, and then beckons toward him.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – EARLY MORNING

A PHONE RINGING loudly on Hayes’ nightstand wakes him from his nightmare. After looking across his room in horror for a moment, Alex answers his phone, never taking his eyes off the albesian chest. Alexander listens for a moment, and then speaks.

ALEXANDER
(voice shaky)


Yeah, no shit I sound agitated…




(listens, nodding)


Uh-huh…it’s the chest again, Cait…




(listens)


No, it’s getting worse. I had a nightmare…




(beat)


The finger…it realizes I’m here now…




(listens, suddenly scowls)


No shit it doesn’t make any sense!!




(beat)
Don’t you tell me to calm down! I haven’t slept in days!




(listens, then calms down)
Okay, okay…maybe…well, I know a couple friends of mine who are movers, and I’m pretty sure they’ll help me get rid of it. I can’t take this anymore…

Alexander listens for another few moments, nodding and acknowledging Caitlyn occasionally.






ALEXANDER
Okay, tonight sounds fine. It’s a date…I’ve gotta go for now, though. I have some errands to run.




(listens)


Yeah, all right. Goodbye, Cait.

Alex hangs up the phone. He immediately goes across the room and screams at the chest. He kicks it repeatedly, fuming in anger, but stops when he realizes the chest has somehow unlocked itself. He retrieves the key from his beside table and stares at the chest and then the key in confusion.

INT – HAYES’ KITCHEN – LATER THAT MORNING

Alexander is on the phone again, dressed in his work clothes, waiting for someone to pick up. When they do, he speaks.





ALEXANDER


Hello, is Mike there?




(beat)


Oh! Hey, Mike! It’s me, Alex!




(listens)
Oh, I’m doing okay, I guess, but I’ve got a favor to ask. I need you and Rob to help dump a piece of furniture for me. The garbage guys wouldn’t take it.




(listens)


Awesome! When can you come get it?

Alexander listens for a moment, smiling widely, but then frowns.





ALEXANDER




(disappointed and scared)
Oh, no…is that the soonest you can do it? Tomorrow? You can’t make it today?




(listens, nodding)


Okay…um…I guess that’s okay…




(listens again)


Uh-huh…c’ya around, Mike…

Alexander looks distressed as he hangs up the phone. He sits down for a moment at his kitchen table, putting his face into his hands. He shakes his head in frustration for a second before getting back up. He puts on his coat, locks him door from the inside and leaves for work, shutting it behind him.

INSERT

Shot of clock showing the passing of time from 7 AM to 9 PM.

INT – HAYES’ APARTMENT – EVENING

Caitlyn and Alex enter through the front door, in the middle of a conversation.

CAITLYN


Alex, if it’s that bad…
(runs finger down his chest provocatively)


I could stay with you tonight…





ALEXANDER




(distracted)
I’d like that, but I have to get up early tomorrow. Big weekend, you know? I have a ton of errands to do.





CAITLYN




(disappointed)
Awww…you’re no fun. Well, can you at least give me a call after you’re done doing your errands?





ALEXANDER


Yeah, sure. I should be done by noon.





CAITLYN


Okay, I’ll be waiting, honey.

Caitlyn gives Alex a peck on the cheek and heads back out the front door. Alex, expressionless, stares at her as she goes.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – NIGHT

Alexander is sleeping, but is tossing and turning furiously, disturbed by something unseen.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM (DREAM SEQUENCE) – DARK

Alexander is again woken up by the sound of SCRATCHING in his room. Again, he tries to turn on his lamp, but it still doesn’t work, so he gets his candle and searches for the source of the noise again. Again, his eyes move to the albesian chest, and the white finger is again ripping at the item’s lock with ferocity. Then the finger suddenly stops. Alexander shivers as the finger beckons him again. This time, he starts walking toward the chest, unable to restrain himself. As he approaches the chest, the finger vanishes. As usual, Alex opens the chest and finds nothing inside, but then begins to climb inside of it. Wide-eyed and aware of what he is doing, Alexander lies down inside the chest and pulls the lid down on top of himself. It CLICKS shut loudly, engulfing him in black.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM (REALITY) – NIGHT

Hayes wakes up in a cold sweat from his nightmare and, breathing heavily, huddles under the covers.

INSERT

Shot of clock showing time pass from 2 AM to 6 AM.

INT – HAYES’ KITCHEN – MORNING

Alex grabs his jacket off his kitchen chair, puts it on, and rushes out the door to work, tacking instructions on the door for Mike and Rob about what to do with the chest. He shuts the door behind him.

INT – OUTSIDE APARTMENT DOOR – LATE AFTERNOON

Alexander, his clothes disheveled after a long day at work, stumbles down the hallway to his front door, and stops at it. The note he tacked onto it that morning is still there. He frowns upon this and enters the apartment. Looking more annoyed with each second, he saunters into his bedroom, taking off his tie as he goes.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – TIME CONTINUOUS

When Hayes reaches his bedroom, he stops in his tracks. In the corner, exactly where he left it, is the albesian chest. Alex is furious now, and storms over to his bedside phone. Picking it up, he calls Mike and waits for an answer. After a few rings, Mike picks up.





ALEXANDER
What the fuck, man?! You said you were going to help me!


(CONTINUED)


ALEXANDER (CONT.)
(listens, then looks depressed)
Your truck broke down? Shit…why didn’t you tell me earlier? I could’ve found someone else. Now it’s too late…
(shakes his head in frustration)


So now what?




(listens)
Tomorrow, for sure this time? I sure wish you could make it tonight, though…
(looks nervously at the chest, listening)
Okay, okay! Sorry! But come as soon as you can, all right? This is really important!




(listens, responds solemnly)


Yeah, right. Uh-huh…later, Mike.

Alex hangs up the phone, looking exhausted. He slumps again his bedroom wall, sobbing pathetically.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – EVENING

Alexander, not bothering to put on his pajamas this night, crosses his bedroom holding the chest’s key and a toolbox. Dumping the contents of the box out on the floor, he locates several large nails and a hammer and begins to pound them into the chest, trying to nail it shut. Satisfied with his nail job, he locks the chest with the key as well. Slightly relieved, he lies down on his bed, shuts off his lamp, and falls asleep restlessly.

INT – HAYES’ BEDROOM – LATE IN THE NIGHT

We see Alexander lying on his bed, still in his day clothes, sprawled out amidst a tangle of covers. Suddenly we hear a FAINT SCRATCHING sound coming from somewhere in the room. It grows steadily louder until Alexander is awoken by the disturbance. Fearing the worst, Alex reaches up to turn on his bedside lamp. It comes on for a second, but then the bulb pops and the room explodes back into darkness. Jittery now, Alex springs to life, searching furiously in his bedside drawer for a source of light. Finding a lighter, he lights up a wax candle. The light casts eerie shadows all over the room as it flickers back and forth. Alexander immediately turns to the albesian chest. Just like in his dreams, he sees the hideous white finger protruding from the chest again. Alex watches in horrid fascination as the finger picks at the nails on the outside of the box, bending them one by one and breaking them off. Once all the nails holding the lid shut have been destroyed, the finger moves onto the lock, picking at it with its nail. Alex is in a near-trance as he stares. Suddenly the lock on the chest CLICKS loudly, unlocking. Alex suddenly comes to his senses and rushes over to the chest, pushing the lid down with both his hands. He braces himself against the chest, but nothing happens. After a moment, he relaxes his death grip on the article and starts to back away, picking up his toolbox and hammer off the floor as he goes. He is about ten feet from the chest when the finger re-emerges, twitching slowly at first. Alexander wields his hammer, ready to strike if the finger tries anything. Suddenly the finger stops moving – and then beckons to Alex.

INSERT

Close-up of Alexander’s face, emphasizing how confused and frightened he is.

BACK TO SHOT

Alexander struggles to control himself, but starts taking steps toward the chest. He raises the hammer as he goes, but soon loosens his grip on it and lets it drop to the floor, against his will. His facial expression shows that he is aware of what he is doing and is trying to stop, but his body has betrayed him. One step after another, Alex gets closer and closer to the chest. Alex begins to panic, trying to cry out for help, but nothing comes out. Against his will, Alex moves hypnotically toward the chest and opens it, then climbs in and shuts the lid behind him with a THUD. The lock CLICKS by itself, and all we see is black.

INT – OUTSIDE LANDYLADY’S OFFICE – MORNING

We see MIKE, a slightly overweight man with a well-defined beard and a deep voice, and ROB, a slender man about the same age as his partner, just as they are leaving Mrs. Taylor’s office.

MRS. TAYLOR
Here. Let me show you into Mr. Hayes’ apartment.

Mrs. Taylor walks the movers down the hall to Alexander’s room. Finding the directions and an envelope tacked onto the door, the movers them down and the message.

ROB
(reading)
Huh…he wants us to dump it in the old quarry? Wonder why…

MIKE
(opening the envelope)


Don’t question the man, Rob.
(finding money inside)


Oh, looky here! He’s paying us.

ROB


Aw, shucks. He didn’t have to do that.

MIKE
(replacing the money)
Right, especially after we’re so late and all. We’ll leave it here.

Mrs. Taylor unlocks the apartment door and leads them into the bedroom. Finding the chest in the corner, Mike and Bill approach and lift it. It seems surprisingly heavy to them, and they struggle to get it above their knees.

ROB


Oof! What’s he got in this thing? Bricks?

MIKE


Don’t know. Looks like it’s locked to me.




(with more effort)


C’mon, let’s go.

The two movers heave one more time and get the box onto their shoulders, and leave the apartment through Alexander’s patio doors with it. They load it into the back of their van and get back into the vehicle.

EXT – OLD QUARRY – NOONISH

The movers get out of their truck once they arrive at the place Alex chose, which is a decrepit old mining site. Warning signs are abundant, and the remains of mining equipment are scattered periodically near tunnels, which seem to be everywhere. Following a diagram Alex drew on his directions to them, Rob and Mike locate the large hole he had instructed the chest to be dumped into, about 20 yards away. Rob initiates conversation.





ROB
So, what’s a guy doing getting rid of such a nice chest?





MIKE
Well, he wouldn’t tell me much, but he sounded like shit on the phone. I suspect he found out where it came from.





ROB




(intrigued)


What do you mean? Where did it come from?





MIKE




(surprised)
Oh, you haven’t heard? I thought everybody around here knew. About 10 miles east of town here, there was a mansion owned by old man Winston. A couple guys broke into his house and hacked him up pretty bad, but left him alive, and stuffed him inside of this chest to suffocate.





ROB




(shocked and disgusted)
Oh my god! And this thing feels like he’s still in it, man!




(looks at Mike)


He’s not, right? Right?!





MIKE




(laughing)
Oh! No, no! Winston had no relatives, so his property was all auctioned off after his death. The chest wasn’t supposed to be, but Joe Stephens…





ROB


Whoa, hold on. Joe Stephens?





MIKE


You’ve heard of him?





ROB
Yeah, knew him growing up. That guy’s messed up – collects all kinds of weird shit.





MIKE
Anyway, he made a deal with the police to buy the chest, after they took the body out of it. He officially paid, like, $10 for the thing, but who knows how much went under the table?





ROB
Ick…I can’t believe anyone would spend money on something like this.

The two are quickly approaching the pit.





MIKE
Me neither, so I’m guessing Alex didn’t know about all of that. I heard Stephens sold it to an antique store. That’s probably where Alex got it. Funny…I didn’t think he was into that stuff.





ROB
Me neither, but I can see why he would want to dump this thing now. Ugh…can we get rid of this soon? It’s giving me the creeps.




(half jokingly)
Hey, are you SURE they took that old man’s body out of here? This is damn heavy for a wooden chest.





MIKE
Yeah, don’t be silly. There’s the quarry pit right there.

As they reach the pit, they set the chest down. Rob wipes the beads of sweat from his brow and stretches his back.





MIKE


Ready?






(Rob nods)


Heave!

With a final effort, Mike and Rob send the chest over the edge of the designated quarry pit. It falls down a deep chasm and lands with a splash at the bottom, which is partially filled with rainwater.

INT – HAYES’ APARTMENT – 12:30 PM

The camera is on Hayes’ answering machine as the phone rings steadily. When nobody answers, the machine automatically comes on. After the tone, Caitlyn’s voice is heard.

CAITLYN
Um…hi, Alex. I just thought I’d call. You said you’d be back by noon, so I’m just letting you know that you can call me whenever. I have something to show you tonight. I think you’ll love it…




(beat)
Well, I always feel kind of stupid talking to these machines. It’s nice to know there are nice guys like you in the world. I don’t know what I’d do without you…




(beat)


I love you, Alexander…

EXT – QUARRY PIT – MIDDAY

The camera, initially at the entrance to the pit where the chest was dumped, gradually lowers into the hole. As it goes lower and lower, light fades out and the scene gets darker, emphasizing the nightmarish aspect of what has happened. As the camera pans down into the depths of the pit, a vague and haunting echo of screaming and scratching can be heard, one that gets louder as we delve deeper into the hole. As the camera reaches the water and dives beneath it, the chest can be scene, partially submerged. The sounds of screaming and scratching reach a fever pitch as the camera zooms in closer on the chest. A single, human finger can be seen thrashing about wildly under the lid of the chest, trying to open the lock from the outside. Zooming in through the keyhole of the locked chest, we are shown a fleeting glance of what’s inside – Alexander suffocating and drowning inside his albesian prison. The camera zooms into the darkness of his gaping mouth – and all we see is black.

FADE OUT

------
"If the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem will eventually begin to resemble a nail."



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The following comments are for "The Albesian Chest"
by Jayson Carter





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