The Bookkeepers

Written By

Kristen Wheatley

The screen shows a dusking sky. Sounds of car doors shutting, engines roaring, and people mumbling are heard in the background. All sounds start to dissipate, replaced with sounds of night creatures such as owls and crickets while the stars and moon become evident. A 180 degree turn downwards reveals a young adult female wearing light blue jeans and a white t-shirt laying on a patch of dirt, presumably asleep. An owl takes off from a branch and the woman is jarred awake.

PHOEBE

*Gasps*

She looks around.

What…?

She cannot tell where she is at. A light post flickers on overhead of her, she briefly looks up, squints her eyes and looks around again. It is revealed she is in a graveyard.

The hell…what is this?

She thinks then chuckles.

Got it. The girls must have left me here as some sort of prank. Well HAH, HAH girls, you got me! Now come on, where ya at?

She waits for a response but there is only silence.

Bitches! They REALLY did leave me here!

She pats herself down and pulls out her pockets searching for her phone.

Shit!

Whistling is heard offscreen. Revealed that it is coming from an older man with his back leaning against a tree in the middle of the graveyard. He wears torn denim and looks scruffy.

PHOEBE

(rapidly walking to man)

Excuse me, sir? Do you have a phone? I'm pretty sure my friends left me here and I have no way to contact them.

The man does not respond but keeps whistling. He pushes himself off the tree and grabs a shovel that has been beside him out of view.

Oh? You must be the night watch? Did you see my friends leave me here?

He walks away from her, walking the perimeter of the cemetery, still whistling. She grows irritated.

(following him)

I know you have a lot to do and probably think I'm just some dumb kid trying to pull one over on you but c'mon, I'm being serious here!

He ignores her, continuing to whistle.

Look, I just –

Whistling. She is enraged and steps in front of him, stopping both in their tracks.

Sir! I demand you stop being rude and answer me!

He smirks and stabs his shovel into the patch of dirt she had awoken on. She steps back, confused. He whistles one last note, soft and long. People begin to appear out of nothing over grave plots. Some yawn as they emerge, some start to run out and make small talk with the other individuals. The whole graveyard becomes a bustle of activity. The woman looks back at the man.

RONALD

Welcome home.

The woman turns her head sharply down to the plot of dirt they reside on where a small aluminum plaque pokes out at the head reading: Phoebe Kemp.

PHOEBE

(Panics)

G-GHOSTS?!

She runs from the plot screaming. She bumps into a spirit.

SPIRIT 1

HEY! Watch it!

Phoebe continues to scream as she turns and bumps into another spirit who holds a small skull. She shields her face and runs away from them.

SPIRIT WITH SKULL

(Calling after her)

It's just my Shakespearian memorabilia!

(Mumbles through grunts)

Happens every time…

Phoebe continues to run past multiple spirits who try to stop her. She trips over a gravestone, falling overtop it face first. She turns herself around and crawls backwards away from the surrounding mass of souls.

PHOEBE

No…No! Stay back!

Her back hits something hard, turns to see nothing is behind her but the edge of the graveyard leading to a vacant parking lot with a one-story church a few yards away.

Free!

Picks herself up and tries to run towards church but an invisible wall prevents her.

What...?

She slams her fists against it.

No! Let me out! Help! Help!

A spirit lands his hand on her shoulder. She screams and smacks it away. She dives under one spirits legs, picking herself up again and running along the barrier.

All a bad dream! All a bad dream!

-Flash of memory-

Quiet and still, nothing but a white room.

Is this a dream?

-Flash again: Back to current moment-

(Confused, shakes head, slams barrier again)

Please!

Looks behind her, spirits enclose, continuously screams as she closes her eyes and tries to run through barrier to no avail.

She appears to be running in place. An older man spirit makes his way through to the front of the crowd. He is dressed in American Colonial era fashion wielding a wooden cane. Appears to be in his late 80's.

ELLIOT

Can someone shut her up? I can't enjoy myself with her banshee call echoing through the yard!

His wife appears, also dressed in time period clothing.

WIFE

Now, you be kind to her, ya hear? She is obviously in duress!

ELLIOT

Only 'cause ol' Ronald over there had to show off his God-awful whistling tune!

RONALD

I thought it was funny.

ELLIOT

Well now look at her!

All spirits stare at Phoebe who continuous to run in place and scream.

(Looks disgusted)

Pathetic! Ya know, back in my day we didn't run from nothing!

WIFE

Oh, here he goes…

All spirits groan.

ELLIOT

Hey…HEY! You all should respect your elders!

WIFE

Oh, tone it down Elliot! You complaining about the ruckus she causing and you just as bad!

ELLIOT

Just as bad?! By God, I can barely hear myself speak!

She is still screaming.

Would you shut up?!

WIFE

Elliot! That's improper!

(They begin to bicker)

ELLIOT

Fine! I'm going to settle this!

He goes behind Phoebe and stares down at her. She is still screaming. He hits her with his cane.

WIFE

Elliot!

ELLIOT

Well I thought about talking with her, but she was screaming too much!

Phoebe rubs her head, shocked at the impact.

You done, yet?

PHOEBE

(gets into a defensive karate stance)

I'll have you know: I took two months of Karate when I was six!

ELLIOT

What in the hell?

PHOEBE

I may not be able to run due to this…this…sorcery!

ELLIOT

(Baffled)

This what?

PHOEBE

But that doesn't mean that I can't fight!

ELLIOT

Oh my…is she serious?

(He turns to the other spirits, with arms wide open. His wife disapproves of his actions. He rolls his eyes and turns to her aggravated.)

Alright, we're ending this.

He reaches to grab her but she starts flailing and smacking him.

Hey! Hey, quit it! Stop it, now!

(Struggling with her, other spirits take hold and restrain her)

PHOEBE

You'll never take me alive!

ELLIOT

Well good, cause your dead anyways.

The spirits drag her to the plot she originated from.

PHOEBE

Dead? I'm not dead! That plaque is just (fumbles with words) witchcraft!

WIFE

Oh honey, are you really that delusional?

ELLIOT

(Exclaiming to the other spirits)

How in the hell was she allowed down here when she don't even know that she's dead?!

PHOEBE

(Flabbergasted)

I can't be dead…I was just with my friends…

(stares at plaque)

…I think?

WIFE

You don't know how you died?

PHOEBE

(Shakes her head. She is quiet and mournful.)

All are sympathetic to her.

ELLIOT

Well at least she finally shut up.

His wife grimaces at him. Sounds of a truck pulling up are heard. Headlights come over the quaint graveyard as all the spirts look on.

Someone here at this hour?

The headlights turn simultaneously off with the engine. The truck door opens as a young man steps out of the vehicle. He is a Caucasian male with jet black hair and brown eyes, lean build. He wears worn jeans and a green polo shirt. He reaches in the back of his truck and pulls out some flowers.

PHOEBE

Blake?

ELLIOT

Ah crap

WIFE

(coos) That's so sweet.

BLAKE

Enters graveyard without any acknowledgement of barrier. Walks straight to Phoebe. She believes he sees her. She hops up to hug him, but he falls to his knees and drops the flowers, hanging his head.

WIFE

He can't see us.

Phoebe bites her pointer finger knuckle and watches as her friend starts to cry. The other spirits dissipate, leaving the two alone.

BLAKE

Why'd it have to be you, Phoebe? Why?

Phoebe begins to get emotional, but no tears are shed.

I came here tonight to give you these. (lifts flowers) I know they're not your favorite, but that's all the store had at this hour. (silence) Not like you really care…or can see them.(silence)Can you see me, Phoebe? Can you see my pain?

Phoebe nods.

At least you can't feel pain anymore. (increasingly becomes angry) You're frolicking around in an open field full of these flowers! (slams them onto plot.) That's what the preacher says.

Phoebe cringes.

I wasn't going to come… (Pulls out a flask and takes a swig)…out of all the shitty people in the world and it had to be you?

His hands are shaky as he tries to take another swig but drops the flask. The contents spill onto the plot. He becomes horrified.

I'm sorry…

(He raises himself up)

I shouldn't have come

He walks away from the plot. Phoebe follows him as the spirits reappear.

WIFE

(Speaking to Phoebe)

I'm sorry, Hun. This is a part of the process.

Phoebe is silent as Blake exits the graveyard and opens the back door of his truck. He shuffles around then pulls out a small hand pistol.

PHOEBE

What is he doing?

ELLIOT

Oh, this ain't good.

WIFE

Honey, if I were you, I would go back upstairs for the moment.

PHOEBE

Upstairs?

ELLIOT

She doesn't know how to go upstairs?!

WIFE

Oh dear, this really isn't good.

PHOEBE

What's the "upstairs?" (Sees Blake pacing, wife steps in front of her blocking view) What is he going to do? (frantic)

WIFE

Don't watch.

PHOEBE

(Calling out)

BLAKE?!

BLAKE

I shouldn't have come, Phoebe! (flailing gun, tears streaming down face) I shouldn't have come because it should be me!

WIFE

He's having a moment, everyone goes through these when they lose a loved one.

PHOEBE

(Trying to get around wife)

Is he going to kill himself?

ELLIOT

Maybe, it's happened before.

WIFE

ELLIOT!

Phoebe shoves wife to the side and runs to the barrier.

PHOEBE

BLAKE STOP! I'M RIGHT HERE! BLAKE!

She slams her fists against the barrier and screams out for him. He cannot hear her. He is inconsolable and drunk.

BLAKE

It should've been me, Phoebe! (Puts gun to head then takes it away) No! She wouldn't want this!

PHOEBE

That's right! I don't! Put it down!

BLAKE

I should be the one in that plot! (puts gun back to head)

PHOEBE

Blake! I'm right here! I can see you! I can feel your pain! I'm not frolicking in flowers! I'm trapped! Trapped in…in hell!

ELLIOT

Oh, I've been to hell and this ain't it.

PHOEBE

(Frantic, turns to wife and Elliot)

Isn't there something we can do?!

WIFE

Not as long as we have that barrier.

PHOEBE

If only I could get through…

ELLIOT

Pah! Fat chance of that. No soul has ever been able to pull that off…(mumbles) well, no good ones anyways.

Phoebe continues to scream and pound at the barrier, calling for Blake to stop. He debates about the suicide.

PHOEBE

Please! I'd rather be with you! I'd rather be alive! I'd rather be alive!

After a few failed attempts, he finally puts the gun to his head and his finger on the trigger. He sticks the flask in his mouth.

(With one last smack at the barrier)

STOP!

The word echoes as the invisible shield cracks and shatters outward towards Blake in fractals, disappearing once they land on the ground. He stops. The flask falls from his mouth and he drops his pistol. Phoebe and the other spirits stand motionless all baffle at what has occurred.

RANDOM SPIRIT

FREEDOM!

Spirits start fleeing the scene. It is chaotic.

PHOEBE

Um…oops?

(She stares at Blake)

Uh-

(He faints)

-END OF SCENE I-

SCENE II

Blake lies in the parking lot on his left side, passed out. Spirits are still running away as wife and Elliot try to calm and call back everyone. Phoebe stands at the edge of the cemetery and parking lot. She looks down and sees where grass turns to blacktop. She looks back up, facing the parking lot watching Blake slowly breathe. His truck door is open, forcing the vehicle to make a ringing sound. His interior lights are on showing alcohol bottles lining his back seat. Phoebe raises her hands up and presses them slowly to where the barrier once stood, but instead of resistance, her hands freely pass. She looks down at the grass again and moves her right foot to cross onto the blacktop.

ELLIOT

I don't think so!

He grabs and pulls Phoebe back onto the grass. She stumbles then falls onto her butt. Spirits around her are still running, exclaiming freedom while others are left dazed and confused.

You think you can run from this mess?

A spirit dressed in overalls runs past them, shoving Elliot.

HEY, get back here!

SPIRIT IN OVERALLS

Why do you resist? We are no longer bounded to this place!

ELLIOT

We're supposed to BE bounded to this place!

The spirit ignores him and runs away. The chaos has finally settled down leaving less than half of the original attendance. They congregate where the border once stood, near Phoebe. Many become angry and upset.

SPIRIT 3

How did you do that?

PHOEBE

I –

(is cut off)

SPIRIT 4

You must be a demon!

PHOEBE

What? No! I'm a human.

SPIRIT 5

Yeah! Elliot sad only bad spirits can break through!

PHOEBE

I'm not a bad spirit!

SPIRIT 3

Then why couldn't we break it?

PHOEBE

I don't know! (thinks) Cause you suck!

SPIRIT 5

Little brat! Do you know what you've done?

PHOEBE

No, do you?!

All spirits are silent and look at each other for an answer. Phoebe smirks and pumps out her chest as she raises from the ground.

OH! You don't even know what I've done!

(She struts bravely to the three spirits)

Well, looks to me we didn't even NEED this invisible wall thing in the first place! If I hadn't broke it with my (fumbles with words) amazing skills, then my friend over there would have been dead! And I don't see the world ending, so I guess I did the right thing!

THEODORE

(off screen)

(British accent) It might seem that way

(all turn around to face him)

But it's quite the opposite.

A preteen boy, about the age of 12, dressed in a white shirt with brown coveralls and a brown cabby hat face them. Phoebe scoffs.

PHOEBE

Oh, hah! What would you know? (mockingly) You're just a little kid.

WIFE

Careful how you speak dear, that's Theodore Allen, he was the first grave set in this cemetery. He's older than all of us.

Phoebe winces and stares at Theodore.

PHOEBE

The first? How long ago is that?

THEODORE

1785, after my family moved here from Britain. (motions to his body) I am a child, but only physically. When a soul leaves its host, it latches onto the last known appearance because that is all we know.

ELLIOT

Wish I could be a young whipper snapper again, you know how much it rots to be an old man for all of eternity?!

WIFE

Grumpy old man at that.

THEORDORE

(rolls eyes and walks to Phoebe) The barrier was created to separate our realms. The living from the dead. (looks down) Once, we were able to move freely as apparitions.

ELLIOT

Why do you think 'hauntings' are with spirits pre 1900's?

PHOEBE

So, what changed?

Theodore is silent, and the mood becomes sullen. Elliot starts to jump up and down.

ELLIOT

Oh, it's my favorite part!

THEODORE

Samuel Gunthrie.

All spirits are gathered around him, holding hands, cross legged. Some are biting their nails. One spirit screams at the mention of the name.

PHOEBE

Um…who?

SPIRIT 3

He was a spirit abandoned by his family.

SPIRIT 4

Years had passed and no one visited him.

SPIRIT 5

So, in spite, he began to torment the living and encouraged others who understood his pain to do the same.

WIFE

An epidemic occurred, and spirits began to reveal themselves to the living only to terrorize!

ELLIOT

Samuel gained so much power and influence over both the living and dead that he aligned with darkness and corrupted every spirit in his allegiance.

THEODORE

An angel came down and fought with Samuel, (stares into Phoebe's eyes) barely defeating him. (Walks to where wall once stood) In order for this to never happen again, a border was placed around each cemetery, so spirits could still be summoned but never pass the limits of their new homes.

PHOEBE

(Is in awe with jaw hanging)

Woah…that's intense.

THEODORE

There are still some of Samuel's following left, but they were not allowed to come back to their plots. (lowers head and closes eyes) They spend eternity wondering where they belong as their punishment.

PHOEBE

Okay… (flails hands) but that was ages ago! The spirits that ran off didn't seem like they wanted to hurt anyone.

ELLIOT

Yet

WIFE

Phoebe, the whole reason Samuel turned evil is because he was exposed too much to the living world. We are spirits, we accept our fate, but he wanted the attachment the living world gave him. (she is quiet for a second) Spirits don't have that.

Phoebe looks outward past the cemetery. Blake is still passed out.

PHOEBE

But…I want the attachment of the living world.

THEODORE

(worried)

I'm shocked the upstairs let you down here.

Phoebe starts to get enraged with the continuous talk of "the upstairs" but not explanation to go along with it.

PHOEBE

Again: "the upstairs?"

WIFE

It's like the filing department. They keep track of every spirit. When you passed, you should have gone through a rigorous interview with, who we refer to as, the bookkeepers to make sure you understood you were dead.

ELLIOT

Yeah, so this kind of shit doesn't happen!

PHOEBE

Wait! (She remembers) Would that be in a white room?

WIFE

Could be, it's different for everyone. (clasps her hands together and raises them next to her cheek) Mine was in a beautiful orchard!

ELLIOT

That's because she always bugged me about growing one, we didn't have the money (sarcastically and abrasive) DEAR!

WIFE

Well maybe we would have if you didn't blow every morsel on trying to find gold that didn't exist!

ELLIOT

Oh, here we go! I was trying to better our lives!

WIFE

Didn't do much good for me. I died broke and still married to you.

ELLIOT

(mumbling) Yeah, and those last four years of my life were the most peaceful I ever had.

WIFE

What was that?

ELLIOT

Nothing (mockingly) dear.

(they begin to bicker)

Theodore shakes his head. He grabs Phoebe's hand and leads her to the edge of the graveyard. They make eye contact. He turns his head to face the parking lot then points out towards the world.

THEODORE

This world is beautiful and amazing, but it is no longer ours to own.

Phoebe is silent as she takes in everything around her. She closes her eyes and deciphers the crickets chirping, the air's breeze lightly brushes her hair. A far away wolf howls, a raccoon snaps a twig and rushes off into some bushes. She reopens her eyes. Her pupils slowly grow. She stares at the sky. It retains an almost blueish-black color, stars form constellations. She is in a trance.

(abruptly) What do you remember about your interview?

Phoebe slightly jumps. She looks back at Theodore and shrugs.

PHOEBE

Not much, just a blank, white room. I thought I was dreaming.

THEODORE

(ponders)

Yet they let you pass…

PHOEBE

I don't really understand everything, but I'm sorry for making things complicated. It's not my fault I'm here… (twiddles her thumbs) I don't think anyways…and I'm not sure why this is happening, but it has to be for a reason, right? That's why things happen, or something? (She scratches the back of her neck, nervously)

THEODORE

You see what's in front of you?

She nods.

We all miss it, it's hard to not think about your past, but there are many new experiences in this life. Moving on hurts, but it is necessary for the evolvement of all realms, you'll understand that soon.

Phoebe begins to think deeply as Theodore returns to the group and tries to separate Elliot and Wife. Phoebe stares at Blake once more when she notices slight movement and hears grunting coming from him. He puts a hand over his eyes and starts to rub his nasal cavity while still laying down.

PHOEBE

(Turns her head slightly towards the action behind her)

Uh, guys?

They pause their commotion to see what she wants.

Not to be the bearer of any more bad news, but…

They see Blake raising himself up to a sitting position.

BLAKE

Man, I really need to lay off the-

(He notices them once more)

What-in-the-shit?

ELLIOT

Yeah, welcome to the club.

END OF SCENE II

SCENE III

Blake is frozen – like a deer in headlights, watching every movement the spirits take, unsure of what to do. All spirits are still, staring back at Blake, not moving an inch. Elliot and Wife glance at one another from their peripheral, raise their eyebrows signaling they feel the situation is awkward. Elliot slightly moves his hand. At the sight of this, Blake jumps slightly back. Elliot smirks and moves his hand again. Blake takes a step back. Elliot begins to move random body parts to antagonize him, with every gesture Blake spazzes a little and keeps backing up. Elliot finally rushes him and screams:

ELLIOT

Boo!

Blake goes to punch the old man, but his hand goes right through his face. Blake stands motionless, hairs on the back of his neck, while his arm is through Elliot's head.

Oh, that's not going to work on me.

Elliot shoves Blake back. He panics and reaches for his pistol on the ground. Elliot picks it up and waves it back and forth in a disapproving manner.

Punching me didn't work, so you think shooting will?

BLAKE

What are you?!

ELLIOT

Is everyone dense here? I'm a ghost, ya dipshit!

WIFE

(Makes her way to Elliot and pulls him by the ear)

Stop antagonizing him!

Wife drags Elliot by the ear back to the group with him screaming 'ow' repeatedly. Blake is trying to remain calm, but his heart rate increases, breathing becomes rapid, and pupils are dilated. He remains focused on Elliot and Wife. Confused. They begin to bicker again.

PHOEBE

(from the side)

Blake?

Upon his name being called, Blake quickly looks to his left where he sees Phoebe. His heart rate decreases, and his breathing becomes slow. He says nothing and just stares at her. Phoebe bites the bottom of her lip.

Blake, I know this must be a shock –

She goes to step closer to him and reaches out her had where upon Blake moves further back. He stares down at her hand. His eyes are wide, and face chiseled to permanent shock. Phoebe steps back and looks behind her at all the spirits. Wife and Elliot are still fighting. Theodore nods his head towards Phoebe to continue forth what she was doing. She turns back towards Blake and becomes determined,

I know you are thinking, 'this is all crazy,' like – 'how can I being seeing ghosts? Ghosts aren't real. Well, turns out: they are (she starts speaking more rapidly, getting nervous. Blake watching every move.)and there's this invisible wall thing that separated us from seeing eachother 'cause some butthurt ghost decided to go apeshit and become the devil and (her words start blending together as she keeps speed walking towards Blake, forcing him to keep moving backwards) soitwasputinplacebutibrokeitbecauseyouweregoingtokillyourselfbutidontknowhowibrokeitandturnsoutbreakingitisbadcausenowallthesespiritsarerunningaroundsandapperentlyimnotevensupposetobeabletogetdownherebecauseidontthinkishouldbedeadbutiamdeadbutdontwanttobeandthatsbadcauseicangetcorruptedalongwiththeescapedspiritsand –

She pauses to stare at Blake, but realizes they have backed all the way to the one-story church. Blake's backside is against it, pinned by Phoebe who is extremely close to his face.

And I'm so glad you can see me.

They stand in their positions for a few seconds before Blake lurches away to the right and rambles.

BLAKE

I must be dreaming! (he flails his hands)

PHOEBE

(following closely behind)

No, this is all real! I totally get it, though! (desperate to relate) I was literally doing this two scenes back.

BLAKE

(Turns fiercely to her)

You are NOT real!

(Points his finger at her)

PHOEBE

(is offended)

Don't you point your finger at me!

BLAKE

(puts finger down and turns away from her) I'm just drunk, depressed, and imagining things!

PHOEBE

If you were dreaming, would dream me know that you have a secret collection of rubber duckies?

BLAKE

They're rubber pigeons and (aggravated) YES because that's exactly what dream you would say in my dream!

PHOEBE

*groans*

This is ridiculous!

ELLIOT

(from afar)

Now you know how I felt!

BLAKE

I just need to wake myself up. (pauses, closes eyes, and stands still) Ok self, wake up. (opens one eye to still see Phoebe) Why isn't it working?!

PHOEBE

Because you're not dreaming!

BLAKE

No! I refuse to believe that!

He starts to ramble about the different ways he can wake himself up as Phoebe rolls her eyes and grunts. She then smacks him across his face. He is shocked, grabs his cheek and looks offended.

Ow! What was that for?

PHOEBE

Did it hurt?

BLAKE

Yeah, it hurt! (stiffens) Oh my God, it hurt. Oh my God, this isn't a dream! Oh my God, PHOEBE!

He suddenly becomes excited and tries to embrace her but falls through her onto the pavement.

PHOEBE

Yeah, I guess only I can touch you and not vice versa cause of the whole 'existing but not really existing' thing.

BLAKE

Raises himself off the ground and laughs hysterically. The other spirits make their way over to them. They stare at Phoebe for explanation but she just shrugs.

Don't you all see the joke? I was almost you!

He laughs more. They all are confused.

ELLIOT

I don't get it.

BLAKE

(still laughing) I'm living among the dead. (He stops laughing and rubs his temple) What a night.

THEODORE

(jumps slightly, gaining an idea)

Hey Phoebe, maybe he knows how you died?

Blake cringes. Phoebe excitedly helps him off the ground waiting for a response.

PHOEBE

Do you? Do you know?

BLAKE

Um…well… (looks away and rubs the back of his neck) Yeah…

All spirits huddle around him. Waiting for the details.

I don't know If I should be the one to tell you…

PHOEBE

Why not?!

BLAKE

Isn't there like a designated person…(hesitates) spirit…that lets you know?

THEODORE

Yes, but if you know it's best to say.

Blake continues to hesitate.

PHOEBE

I know you don't want to hurt me, but please! This may help me 'ascend' or 'become one.'

BLAKE

(Sighs)

Alright…you were hit be a car.

The spirits groan. Blake is shocked.

ELLIOT

Is that it? I was hoping for something more exciting!

BLAKE

Well… (stuttering, trying to seem more interesting) well they drove off! Nobody knows who did it! Completely unjustified!

PHOEBE

(is horrified)

They drove off…?

ELLIOT

Mmm, (thinks) that's slightly more interesting, but I died in a great battle! Fighting for my life! There was blood, there was tears, there was people carrying away my limp body as I clung onto my chest screaming, (he wraps his arm around his wife) 'I'M COMING HOME, HONEY!'

WIFE

Great battle? (scoffs as she throws his arm off her) If you call getting bit by a rapid squirrel a great battle, I suppose so!

ELLIOT

His teeth were razors! RAZORS!

THEODORE

That's nothing! I contracted smallpox. It was awful. My parents had to burn everything I touched! I got this awful rash, too. (he chuckles) at least it gave me a reason to scratch my rear! (they all laugh)

SPIRIT 3

I got ran over by the train I was engineer of!

(laughing)

SPIRIT 4

I accidentally chopped my finger off while making dinner, but died due to shock!

(laughing)

SPIRIT 5

I was an alcoholic, then got diagnosed with lung cancer!

(laughing)

RONALD

I was homeless! I only carry this shovel because it helped me dig my own grave!

(laughing)

PHOEBE

How can you all joke like this?!

They all are still as Phoebe is infuriated.

I was murdered!

ELLIOT

So was I –

PHOEBE

I DON'T CARE! (silence and still) Even if it was an accident, the person is a coward! They couldn't even face what they'd done! They ended my life!

THEODORE

Phoebe, if we don't joke about these things, then we will cry. There's no turning back time. I understand you're hurt but –

PHOEBE

Oh, stop with your overcompensating 'wise old man' in a young boy body, bullshit! I don't want to hear facts! I just want to feel! (stomps her foot and pouts, almost like a small child) I will find who did this...

Blake grits his teeth and tries to rest his hand on her shoulder. Stops before he touches her, drops his hand back down and confronts Phoebe.

BLAKE

Whatever mission you decide to go on, I'll be here to help.

Phoebe gazes at Blake.

I lost you once, I won't do it again.

Phoebe grins as Theodore gags.

PHOEBE

Why are you gagging? Aren't you like over 200 years old?

THEODORE

I died when I was 12, never gained the concept of love.

PHOEBE AND BLAKE

LOVE?!

They both stutter and fumble with words describing how it is not love, the others roll their eyes. Suddenly, a stream of lightning strikes the ground in front of them. They all are sent careening back. Phoebe lands on top of Blake. He blinks rapidly as she quickly removes herself.

PHOEBE

What was that?!

They all turn to view a black mark on the pavement where the lighting struck. From it starts to form a mass. Blake is creeped out and hides behind Phoebe. She puts up her dukes. The others grunt.

ELLIOT

Oh (dreading) it's her.

The mass forms into a human figure shape, the black char crumbles off to reveal a woman. Her face is stiff and posture straight. She looks around briefly then stares straight at Phoebe.

SRAOSHA

You

PHOEBE

(looks around then points at herself)

Me?

SRAOSHA

You're coming with me.

END OF SCENE III

SCENE IV

Everyone is awestruck. Phoebe looks at Theodore for advice. He mouths the words "run". She stares back at the mysterious woman. Blake is still cowering behind Phoebe. Phoebe nervously smiles at the woman then takes off running, leaving Blake behind her. He looks at the woman. She scowls back. He is frightened and starts running in the direction Phoebe took off. The woman grunts and rolls her eyes as Blake and Phoebe continue running.

SRAOSHA

Enough of this foolishness!

She raises her right hand and clinches it into a fist. Phoebe is suddenly frozen in place. Her eyes switch back and forth. Blake is still running, but stops to realize the predicament.

BLAKE

Phoebe! What are you doing?

PHOEBE

(struggling to speak) I can't move!

The woman brings her fist towards her own shoulder and Phoebe is quickly dragged to the woman. All the spirits hide behind their own gravestones. The woman brings Phoebe's face close to hers. She analyzes Phoebe, staring straight at her face. Phoebe is frightened as she realizes the woman has white eyes.

SRAOSHA

Hmmm (thinking) you don't appear to be a demon.

ELLIOT

(frustrated and stepping towards her) It's because she's not.

The woman turns sharply to Elliot forcing Phoebe to turn sharply with her.

SRAOSHA

Elliot…

ELLIOT

Sasha

SRAOSHA

(eye twitches) You know my name is Sraosha.

ELLIOT

And you know nobody can pronounce that, now let the girl go!

PHOEBE

(trying to speak) you…know her?

ELLIOT

Yeah, we all know her! (frustrated)

THEODORE

(peaks from behind his gravestone) And she knows all of us…

PHOEBE

Well then (smiles at Sroasha) if you are their friend, will you kindly let me go?

Sroasha squints then raises Phoebe in the air above her head. Phoebe screams. Sroasha summons a golden shepherds staff. It gleams against the stars. The spirits are fearful and continue to hide. Elliot is shocked.

ELLIOT

Hey now! No need for all that!

Blake is confused. He runs to where Theodore and Wife are standing.

SROASHA

(raising Phoebe higher in the air) Phoebe Kemp from quadrant FJ-21-44! (grabs the staff and raises it up with her left hand) You have released spirits from their designated summoning grounds!

BLAKE

(To Wife and Theodore) She makes it sound like it's a jail break.

WIFE

That's because, to her, it is.

SROASHA

You have caused havoc for The Bookkeepers for we no longer can obtain an accurate attendance or discover whereabouts for approximately 102 souls!

BLAKE

What are Bookkeepers, again?

THEODORE

They keep track of every spirit to pass on

WIFE

Sroasha is the Bookkeeper of Obedience.

THEODORE

She can control any of us with a wave of her hand. (cringes and lowers body more) She is the transporter of souls between realms.

Elliot hears their conversation behind them, looks back slightly.

ELLIOT

In modern day terms, she's the popo of the dead.

Blake becomes concerned as Phoebe winces in pain. Sroasha clinches her right fist harder forcing Phoebe is scream in agony.

BLAKE

What is she doing to her?!

SROASHA

As your punishment, I hereby sentenced you to eternal damnation!

BLAKE

(Everyone is scared and worried) Is that Hell? (looks side to side pleading for answer) Is she sending Phoebe to Hell?!

Sroasha lets go of the staff, it floats in place and begins to glow. Phoebe is still screaming. They all watch in horror.

ELLIOT

Quit being overdramatic, Sasha! (demanding) We…(hesitates) we ain't scared to fight you!

Sroasha sharply turns her head to face Elliot. Her white hair is flowing in place and her eyes glow with no pupils. It is frightening. Elliot yelps and hides behind his wife. Wife puts her hands on her hip.

WIFE

Not scared, huh?

Theodore looks around and observes the staff, unprotected. He turns to Blake.

THEODORE

Blake! (Blake faces him) That staff (points) is what she uses to heard spirits to do her bidding. (Blake stares at staff) It cannot harm the living.

BLAKE

But…(the wind picks up and his hair flows) won't my hand just go right through it?

THEODORE

No! The staff originates from this world!

Blakes hesitates, but then becomes serious. The staff is about five feet off the ground. Phoebe is still screaming as Sroasha slowly moves her fisted right hand and open left hand together. Phoebe and the staff start to line up. Blake takes a deep breath and runs towards the staff. Phoebe and the staff line straight up. Phoebe's feet start to become a mist and swirl around the staff. She screams,

PHOEBE

THIS REALLY HURTS!

Blake snatches the staff while running. Sroasha is shocked and loses concentration. Phoebe is returned to normal and falls from her current height. Sroasha turns to Blake and grimaces.

SROASHA

Give that back, human.

BLAKE

(firm) No.

SROASHA

You know not what you're involved with.

BLAKE

You're right, I'm drunk and hanging out with a bunch of dead people. I might not understand all the stipulations, but I know that you're trying to hurt my friend (he clutches the staff harder) and I'm not going to let that happen.

Sroasha scowls as Blake charges her and swings the staff to hit her.

ELLIOT

(from behind Wife, raises up and pumps his fist) That a boy, Blake! Take her out!

Sroasha dodges then grabs Blake by the neck. He begins to choke. Elliot and the others cringe,

What are you stupid?! You can't take her out!

Sroasha's grip on Blake's neck gets firmer, he squirms to get away, dropping the staff. Phoebe struggles to lift herself up. She raises her head to see the scene unfolding.

SROASHA

Dumb creature… (intense, Blake still struggling) I could end you right now and have no repercussions. (Blakes pupils enlarge. Struggles to breathe) But… (she lightens her grip) that would only make one more spirit I have to keep track of. (Throws Blake to the ground)

Blake grasps his neck and gasps for air, coughing. Sroasha stands overtop him.

SROASHA

Your 'friend' is not your friend anymore. (She kneels next to him) She is nothing more than a mere representation, a figment, a memory of once was, but no longer is.

Blake's body quivers.

Her time of being with you has past, there are no exceptions. You of all people shouldn't care.

Blake grabs the staff lying beside him and uses it to raise himself up. Sroasha raises with him. He mumbles,

BLAKE

I don't care…

SROASHA

(raises an eyebrow)

Pardon?

Elliot, Wife, and Theodore are on the edge of the graveyard/parking lot. Wife is holding a hand over her mouth while Theodore intensely stares at the scene with clutched fists.

THEODORE

(talking to self) You got this, Blake.

ELLIOT

(grabbing and shaking his head) Kids are crazy! (Yells out to Blake) You don't have a chance! Let her take the girl!

Wife punches Elliot in the shoulder. Phoebe is on the opposite side of the showdown, watching silently, partially lifted off the pavement with her hands, lower body still laying.

BLAKE

(head lowered, shadow over eyes, voice a little higher but still low) I don't care.

SROASHA

(Eye twitches) I'm sorry, did you say…?

BLAKE

(Raises head, yelling) I DON'T CARE!

Everyone is shocked, including Sroasha.

I don't care that I don't stand a chance and I don't care if you end me! (pauses, stands straight, prepares to battle) And I don't care if she is an imagination of the past, she's still herself and she's still Phoebe!

Phoebe's eyes twinkle, dancing back and forth.

PHOEBE

(mumbling) Blake…

BLAKE

(enraged) I won't let you take her away from me, again!

He swings the staff again and hits Sroasha across the face. She is taken off guard and goes to grab him again, but he keeps swinging, repeatedly hitting her. Phoebe watches, astonished. Elliot begins to cheer again,

ELLIOT

I never doubted you once, Blake!

Sroasha is hit once more and forced to take three steps back. Her pupils dissipate once more, and she raises her right hand to the air. The staff flys out of Blake's hands and into her open palm.

SROASHA

Fine, have it your way.

She charges and gut punches him. Blake spits up and falls to his knees in agony. Sroasha raises the staff over top of him.

Seems like you want nothing but to die while your friend wants nothing but to live. How ironic.

Blakes closes his eyes, ready to die. Sroasha continues to loom over him while he clutches his stomach and spits. Sroasha is about to careen the staff down onto Blake's head when she is suddenly struck with a flame from the back. She stops, screams in pain and turns to face the source of the heat. She is baffled to see Phoebe on fire. Elliot, Wife, and Theodore are in shock.

ELLIOT

How in the…?!

THEODORE

She…she's…

WIFE

A bookkeeper…

Phoebe has flames surrounding her. They crackle and move simultaneously with her. Her eyes have whitened. Theodore, Wife, and Elliot rush to help Blake from the ground. He stares at Phoebe.

BLAKE

What…is happening?

THEODORE

(awestruck) The fire of God.

Sroasha is still, jaw dropped.

PHOEBE

I don't know how I'm doing this… (pauses) …I just keep surprising myself. (Becomes serious) But, I won't let you kill him.

SROASHA

Out of all the spirits and they chose you. (closes her eyes) alright then. (she lowers her guard and shouts to Phoebe) It is against the law to fight another bookkeeper, so I shall rest for now.

PHOEBE

(stunned) W-what?

SROASHA

I'm just as shocked.

PHOEBE

(hesitantly) How am I a bookkeeper?

SROASHA

(aggravated) Your question is as good as mine, but apparently the upstairs believes you are qualified. (she thinks) Maybe it is because you are the cause of this mess and they want you to fix it, or maybe… (she stops) either way, I now must (she grunts) train you…

PHOEBE

So, I get to be on fire?

SROASHA

Each Bookkeeper has a unique ability, mine is of obedience while yours is… (she shivers) …of passion.

WIFE

(coos) Aww, seeing Blake in danger literally brought out the fire within.

ELLIOT

(moans) Seems like Blake tends to be the cause of everything.

BLAKE

(smirking) I can't help that I'm cool like that.

Phoebe's flames dissipate, and she returns to normal. She hesitates to move.

PHOEBE

So, you're not going to try and attack me?

Sroasha shakes her head.

And you're not going to kill my friend?

She shakes her head.

(hesitantly moves towards Sroasha) And now you're like my teacher?

SROASHA

I prefer spiritual guide.

Everyone is on edge, tension is rising as Phoebe commences in a stare off with Sroasha. She does not hesitate or move. Phoebe quickly grins and excitedly yells,

PHOEBE

OKAY!

BLAKE, WIFE, ELLIOT, THEODORE:

(baffled) What?!

BLAKE

Did you forget she just tried to kill me?!

PHOEBE

(brushes him off) Pfft, get over your grudges! She's totally cool now, I'm like her student, her cricket, her protégé (bobbing her head) I'm a bookkeeper.

BLAKE

Are you serious?! (offended)

Sroasha rolls her eyes.

SROASHA

You are also in charge of the spirits you have lost (pauses and mocks Phoebe) Bookkeeper.

Phoebe winces and turns towards Sroasha.

PHOEBE

How am I supposed to do that?!

Blake crosses his arms and puffs out his lips.

BLAKE

Thought she was cool, huh?

Phoebe scowls and shoves Blake.

WIFE

I think it's admirable of you Phoebe.

ELLIOT

(scoffs) You think everything she does is right.

WIFE

(pointing her finger) Well, excuse me for trying to be the positive one out of this relationship!

ELLIOT

(throws his hands up) Here we go! Ya know, sometimes I wish I had been buried somewhere else!

WIFE

Maybe you would have been if you had MONEY!

(they begin to bicker)

Theodore taps his finger on his cheek then snaps.

THEODORE

(addressing Sroasha) You're in charge of her now, right?

She nods.

Well then that means you have to help her on her journey?

Sroasha grunts and reluctantly nods.

Well, 102 spirits are (draws out) a lot (moves closer to Sroasha) to get back with two bookkeepers that don't know their audience.

SROASHA

What are you suggesting?

THEODORE

Well (he smirks) I've been here the longest out of everyone, I think you all need someone that knows the ins and outs of this realm. Plus, I know all the spirits that ran off fairly well and they trust me. (grins and butterfly kisses) I'd be a valuable asset.

Wife and Elliot are still arguing. Elliot waves his hands around and gets fed up with Wife. He marches over to Sroasha, Theodore, Blake, and Phoebe.

ELLIOT

I'm going too! I need a break!

Wife scoffs and turns her back as Blake hops back from off the ground.

BLAKE

Wherever Phoebe goes, I go!

Sroasha stares at the three then looks at Phoebe.

SROASHA

And you're okay with this?

Phoebe nods. Sroasha stares at Blake.

Strange…

Phoebe is slightly confused. Sroasha moans, but agrees.

Fine.

They all jump for joy.

But you (looks at Blake) will need to protect yourself.

Sroasha holds out her palm towards Elliot. He looks around. She motions for him to hand her Blake's gun. Elliot understands and reluctantly hands it over. Sroasha turns to Blake.

As you've realized, spirits are more than capable of harming the living.

She taps her staff against the pistol. It morphs and turns golden. Blake is mesmerized. She hands him the gun.

Instead of stealing my staff, this will be your weapon. It can only harm souls. One shot and they are sent back to their realm.

Blake holds the gun and grins.

BLAKE

Sweet!

Sroasha turns to them all.

SROASHA

Alright, are we all set?

They all nod as Phoebe clinches her right fist confidently.

PHOEBE

Alright, let's go TEAM KEMP!

They all mumble and groan. She looks around, confused.

What? What?

SROASHA

We're not a team.

ELLIOT

Who made you leader?!

BLAKE

So corny…

THEODORE

I kinda liked it!

PHOEBE

(eye twitches) Fine, fine, fine! (goes back to clinching her fist) Let's do this!