Author: FingertipStars PM
"That's the thing about horror movies, though. They seem stupid when you're watching them, but then the next thing you know you're awake in the middle of the night." One-act play.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Family - Words: 2,132 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 12-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3080321
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
play by FingertipStars
TED – a boy of fifteen. Movie buff. Nighttime philosopher. Wears a crinkled pajama top and too-short pajama pants.
MOTHER – Ted's mother. Careworn woman in her late thirties. Wears yoga pants with a fall jacket and scarf.
FATHER – Ted's father. A man in his mid-forties. Wears business-type clothes. Slouches when he sits.
A family household late at night.
A note on lighting:
At various points throughout the play, two characters freeze in and out of a tableau. It may be the director and the lighting designer's wish to dim the lights over the frozen characters to make sure the audience's focus is on Ted, who does not participate in the tableau. Then the lights may be brought back up when the tableau is broken to shift the focus to the speaking characters.
A family home. Stage left is a teenage boy's bedroom. It has a modest twin bed with blue sheets, a nightstand, and an end table with a TV sitting on it. On the nightstand sits a TV remote, a pair of glasses, and a digital watch with a Velcro strap. The TV is facing the bed at an angle, so that the audience cannot see the screen. Stage right, separated by a door, is the dining room. There is a vase of flowers sitting on a table surrounded by three folding chairs. The flowers are near wilting. At lights up, the MOTHER and FATHER are in the kitchen, frozen in a tableau. The father sits in one of the folding chairs; the mother is standing, holding a suitcase. TED, in his bedroom, is sitting upright in bed, his legs hugged up to his chest. There is light emanating from his TV. His hair is wild, as if he has been tossing and turning for some time. At lights up Ted turns to address the audience.
TED: No sleep.
He puts on his glasses and checks his watch.
TED: It's 3:45 in the morning. (leaning forward and whispering conspiratorially) The Witching Hour. I read something about the Witching Hour in a book once. Way back when in like, the Dark Ages or something, people used to believe that every night at 3:00 AM all the creepy things in the world – demons and zombies and stuff – would suddenly wake up and prowl around for an hour before going back to sleep at 4. (he pauses, pondering) It doesn't make any sense. There aren't many people awake to scare at 3:00 in the morning. (pause) Except for me. And …
He jerks his thumb towards the dining room. At this, his mother and father break their tableau and are suddenly in the midst of a loud argument.
MOTHER: Look at me. You haven't looked at me in years, have you? (exasperated) Do I look happy?
FATHER: Wait, so this is my fault? I started this? I'm the one to blame here?
They freeze again. Ted continues as if nothing happened.
TED: I watched a scary movie before bed, if you're wondering. That's why I can't sleep. I mean, that's why I'm awake. Don't get the wrong impression; the movie was so bad. That's the thing about horror movies, though. They seem stupid when you're watching them, but then the next thing you know you're awake in the middle of the night.
His mother and father unfreeze.
MOTHER: Of course you started it! If I had been the least bit happy I wouldn't have had to …
FATHER: (shouting) What? Had to what? Say it. It would be better for both of us.
MOTHER: No, I won't say it.
They freeze. Ted gets up off his bed and paces the length of his bedroom during the next section of dialogue. He is excited and animated.
TED: The movie I watched was about ghosts, if you're wondering. A ghost. One ghost. Ghost. (laughs) Anyway, you have this standard horror movie family, right? You've got your business-type dad hoping for a promotion at the office next month, and your stay-at-home mom trying to write a book. They have an unnaturally attractive teenage daughter – who will probably flash her tits at least once in the movie – and a creepy, starey-eyed five-year-old son who can for some reason talk to ghosts. So bad, right? So they move into this new house and weird things start to happen. The windows on the upper floor are open in the morning no matter how tightly they close them at night; they hear footsteps. Standard ghost stuff, right? Yeah. You would think after like a zillion years of ghost movies people would get bored watching the same one over and over again. But I guess not.
Ted's mother and father unfreeze.
TED: I wasn't bored. I like ghost movies.
His mother drops the suitcase on the floor with a resounding thud.
TED: I think the scariest things in the world are the things you can't see.
MOTHER: (throwing her hands up) I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry that this had to happen. But this is the way things are and –
FATHER: Who decided that? Did you ever think about my place in all of this? (standing up, pointing to the door) Did you ever think about Ted's place in all of this?
MOTHER: Quiet your voice, for God's sake. He's sleeping.
They freeze. This is the first time Ted seems to acknowledge what is going on in the other room; he stares at the door for a moment before reassuming his nonchalant demeanor.
TED: The little boy starts to talk to people that aren't there. (pause) In the movie, I mean. Remember? The little boy can talk to ghosts. Anyway, he starts to say spooky things like, "You have a man standing behind you, mommy" and "I was talking to the old lady in the kitchen, daddy" and "there are people in my room at night" and all that creepy shit. Then the mother drops a carton of milk on the floor when a door suddenly slams somewhere in the house, and that's the last straw. (he makes his fingers into the lens of a movie camera and pans the audience) Dramatic filming of the milk sloshing over the floor. Suspenseful music. And that's when the mom decides to call a psychic. Which brings us to one of the most important rules of haunted house movies, ladies and gentlemen: when the psychic meets the parents for a session, the dad must never, ever, ever, ever, initially believe in the ghost. The mom always calls the psychic without the dad's permission; the dad is always an asshole when the psychic tells them (he makes quotation marks with his fingers) "the truth" about what's happening.
Ted's parents unfreeze. His mother sits in one of the folding chairs.
MOTHER: Of course I think about Ted. And you think about Ted. You just don't think about me.
TED: (still addressing the audience) The mom is always very quick to believe the psychic, but the dad always says that no, this is crazy. Everything has a logical reason to it.
FATHER: (to the mother) I think about you. We've been married twenty years. Of course I think about you. You're the one that went out and … ruined everything.
TED: So we've got this basic rift between the mother and father. That part is very important; it needs to happen for the rest of the movie to make sense, but you probably won't see why until later.
MOTHER: That's enough.
Ted's parents freeze. Ted sits on his bed, still quite engaged in the story he is telling.
TED: In the movie I watched, the psychic tells the family that there's a ghost in their house that wants one simple thing: to eat everyone's souls. I know, right? It was just the worst. Eating everyone's souls; what does that even mean? Anyway, the dad storms out, calling both his wife and the psychic crazy. And once the mom and dad are at odds, things can really get interesting. That's another golden rule of ghost movies, ladies and gentlemen: tension between family members always makes the haunting get worse. The mom and dad won't look at each other; bloody handprints show up on the walls and windows. The mom catches her teenage daughter flashing her boyfriend over webcam – told you we'd get to see her tits – and they all hear whispering from the attic. The boy says the people he sees in his room aren't being nice to him anymore and the whole family just starts generally acting insane. And still the dad won't come around. He says he needs to see the ghost before he can believe it's there. But he doesn't understand. Just because it's invisible doesn't mean it's not there. The scariest things are the things you can't see. (pause) I really wish I could sleep.
Parents unfreeze in the dining room. Ted's mother stands up, taking the suitcase again.
MOTHER: I'm leaving.
Ted's head whips around and his composure fails for a minute as he stares at the closed door between the dining room and his bedroom.
FATHER: (deflated) Are you staying with …
MOTHER: Yes. I'm … I mean … he has a place downtown.
FATHER: Oh. (barely audible) Okay.
They freeze. Ted has lost his earlier fervor. He hugs his legs up to his chest.
TED: Why do people do this to themselves? Watch scary movies before bed, I mean? We know that it's just going to mess up our sleep but we do it. We still watch scary movies over and over and over again. And over and over and over again we are kept awake because we think that every time we close our eyes something will crawl out of the closet and grab us. I hate feeling scared. (pause) But I haven't told you about my favorite scene yet. It's the big climax of the movie. (standing up to face the audience) The little family is trapped at the end of the hall, and the ghost is slowly coming towards them. You can see the ghost now, by the way. It's all dark and shadowy and weird, but it's got two arms that reach out towards the family. (he mimes the actions he's describing, becoming more animated) The family is screaming and scrabbling over each other and there seems to be no escape. The ghost is getting closer … and closer … and it's suddenly apparent that all the souls are going to be eaten today until … (he stands still, one hand held out) the ghost reaches for the little boy. And the boy looks up at this horrible thing and his starey eyes are wide with fear and your heart is pounding somewhere in your throat as you watch the ghost's fingers brush the little boy's hair with all the soul-eating intent in the world. But then the dad, who up until this point has been the disbeliever and the man without a plan, steps in front of his son and says …
Ted's parents unfreeze. The father stands up abruptly.
FATHER: (to the mother) What did I do wrong?
TED: (shouting triumphantly) "Get away from my son!" And amazingly, somehow, this gets the ghost to back off. So the mom stands up next to her husband and yells …
MOTHER: (to the father) You were never on my side.
TED: "Stay away from my family!" (pause) And then – wouldn't you know it –the ghost retreats. It goes away. The parents face it together and that's it. That's the end.
Ted sits down on his bed, his enthusiasm gone.
TED: (softly) It was a terrible movie. (he checks his watch) It's 4:00. The Witching Hour is over. (he laughs humorlessly) Everything's gone back to sleep now.
Ted's mother turns and walks off stage right. There is the sound of a door slamming, and Ted flinches.
TED: I don't know why I keep watching scary movies.
Ted's father sinks into one of the folding chairs, his head in his hands. He might be crying.
TED: Everything's gone back to sleep but me.
Ted takes the remote off of the nightstand. He looks at it for a moment before clicking his TV off.