First-Place Winner, November 2005 – April 2006 Screenplay Contest – Full-Length Series
Written by Danny Howell
When a lonely teen's visions of her classmates' murders by an unseen killer start coming true, she suspects her own father.
Cynthia has visions of deaths of girls from her school, at the hands of someone whose identity she can't make out. When the girls start turning up dead in real life, Cynthia suspects her own abusive father is the killer – she knows he’s been watching the girls with bad intent.
Cynthia has never been able to tell anyone about her father’s abuse, not even her well meaning but living-in-denial mother. Now she can't bring herself to tell anyone about her terrible visions -- not even when the girls start turning up missing.
Then Cynthia falls for Adam, a geek rebel. Together, they discover the body of one of the victims, and the murder weapon - a knife just like one Cynthia's father owns.
Attracted to her darkness, Adam agrees to help Cynthia find out if her father is the killer. After a harrowing encounter with Cynthia's father, Adam is a believer. He helps Cynthia break into a shed where her father keeps his hunting knives, to see if the one they found is missing. Inside, they discover an "alter" of photographs and stolen objects of the murdered girls.
Adam calls the police. Facing arrest, Cynthia's dad kills himself, after failing in one last attempt to manipulate and control Cynthia.
Afterward, Adam comforts Cynthia as she tries to pick up the pieces of her life. Cynthia sleeps with Adam for the first time, then has a vision of Adam’s murder -- by the same killer whose face she could not quite make out in her previous visions. Adam's life depends on realizing in time that Cynthia is not who she appears to be, and that her visions are really part of her own extreme form of acting out.
EXT. RUTH ANN’S BACK YARD, JUG ROCK, INDIANA -- DAY
RUTH ANN BOUIE and SHERYL GRATZER, both 16, wearing impossibly scant bikinis, lie on their stomachs on brightly colored beach towels, eyes closed, skin slick with lotion. A portable cd player blares glitzy pop music.
R.C. BARDAHL, 50, stands a few feet away, watching. Burr haircut, thick neck and arms, gray work shirt with rolled up sleeves, sweat stains radiating from the armpits – and a large knife, held loosely in one hand.
Ruth Ann wakes to the sound of the cd skipping.
Shit! I just bought it!
She gets up, goes over to the player, bends over, takes out the cd and blows on it, pops it back in.
When she straightens up, she is face to face with Bardahl. She opens her mouth, then her eyes go to the knife. She closes her mouth.
(calmly, as if to
a rabid dog)
What do you want, Mr. Bardahl?
Bardahl licks his lips. The cd is still skipping. Ruth Ann crosses her arms over her breasts.
Mr. Bardahl? What are you doing here?
Your record’s warped.
What’s a record?
From playin’ it in the sun, that’s
He turns his attention to Sheryl, still asleep, and absent-mindedly begins to make small circles on the crotch of his dungarees with the knife blade.
My, how you girls have grown.
Sheryl, wake up.
Just like my girl.
(a little louder)
You girls never come over to see
Cynthia like you used to.
That was way back when we were kids,
You ain’t friends no more?
Bardahl keeps making circles with the knife. The blade slits his trousers. Soon a dark stain appears on his upper thigh.
You should come see her. You’re
You’ve cut yourself.
(as if in a fog)
With your knife. You’re bleeding.
He looks down, lets out an audible burst of air.
Where the hell’s my mind at these days?
Sheryl stirs and moans. Ruth Ann clears her throat.
Mr. Bardahl? What’s the knife for?
To gut something. See?
(holding it up)
They stare at each other. He fingers the expanding dark spot on his trousers.
Well. You girls come over and see
Sheryl wakes up as he walks away.
Is that Cynthia’s dad? What the fuck
was he doing here?
Being strange. Like his daughter.
The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.
What’s a record?
EXT. BARDAHL HOUSE
An iron picket fence, half fallen over and covered with Queen Anne’s Lace, fronts the yard. The gate is permanently rusted open. Car parts litter each side of an oil-stained sidewalk.
CYNTHIA BARDAHL, 16, sits on a porch swing, fiddling with something in her lap. Long-legged and big-boned, her baggy shorts and oversized t-shirt mask her figure, but her face is exotically attractive – blue eyes, pale complexion, light reddish brown hair.
She smiles, revealing perfect teeth. The smile vanishes when Bardahl walks up.
Whatcha got there, honey?
(without looking up)
Somethin’ I made.
Well, let your daddy see.
She holds up a collection of small bones on a string.
It’s a cat’s spinal column. I boiled
it and then ran the string through.
Bardahl looks confused.
That’s nice, honey. Lookee here, your
old dad’s cut hisself.
She doesn’t look.
These pants are ruint, I guess. I’ll
go take ‘em off, then you come in and
help daddy get cleaned and bandaged up.
He opens the screen door and goes inside. She dangles the cat’s-spine-on-a-string, making it dance.
Cynthia? Daddy’s ready. Come on
She throws the bones down, stands up quickly and goes in. The empty swing creaks as it sways back and forth.
INT. BARDAHL HOUSE – KITCHEN - THE NEXT MORNING
Sink with a hand pump; metal dinette set with yellow plastic edging. Cynthia, wearing a baggy shirt and pants, sits at the table drinking juice. DESI BARDAHL, 52, her skin as faded as her print dress, scrambles eggs at the gas range.
Bardahl comes in, dressed in a work shirt with “R.C.” stitched above the shirt pocket. He tickles Cynthia on the back of the neck; she cringes.
Don’t tease her.
Cyn, ain’t you friends with that Ruth
Ann no more?
Not since third grade.
She sure has grown. In all the right
places, if you know what I mean.
He pours coffee for himself and takes a plate of eggs from Desi. He looks at Cynthia and frowns.
Speaking of, what kind of way is that
to dress for school? Go put on
somethin’ that shows off your figure.
R.C.! What a way to talk.
Cynthia gets up and leaves the room.
INT. CYNTHIA’S ROOM
Totally utilitarian décor - dark colors, no photographs, no personal possessions.
Cynthia holds up an even baggier black t shirt. She pulls off the one she’s wearing – she does have a nice figure.
Her stomach is criss-crossed with cutting scars, some fresher than others.
EXT. PAUL MCNUTT HIGH SCHOOL – DAY
Dozens of laughing teenagers walk in pairs and threes up the front steps. Cynthia walks alone, her black t shirt a dark spot on the sun against the other kids’ bright pastels.
Synthetic and sterile furnishings from the ‘70s are etched with generations of teen hieroglyphics. The federal and state flags flank a massive teacher’s desk.
MR. BETER, 59, hands in pockets, jingles change as he paces. His expression suggests a mild kidney stone attack.
Thank you, Ralph, for that, um,
exuberant reading of your poem . . .
(checking his notes)
“I Can’t Wait To Join the Marines And
Learn To Kill”.
Muted chuckling. RALPH, a crew-cut Alfred E. Neumann look-alike, beams and accepts punches from his buddies.
That’s enough, people. Who’s next . .
A gangly kid with glasses in a short-sleeved oxford shirt, ADAM BUNDY, 16, slinks down in his chair. Behind him, DUANE FERGUSON, a Hitler Youth type, open-palms Adam in the back of the head.
You’re up, pizza face.
That’s enough, Duane.
Sorry, Peter – I mean, Mr. Beter!
The boys in class snicker at the millionth rendering of the joke. If possible, Mr. Beter looks even more tired.
Let’s go, Adam.
I left it at home.
A piece of paper sticks out of Adam’s notebook. Mr. Beter walks over and plucks it, letting it dangle in front of Adam.
Adam takes it resignedly and walks the plank to the front.
“The air conditioner rattles and stares
Scares me sometimes – it has no eyes,
But I need the company – it’s a small
So I leave it on and pretend to be
“The others don’t say much, they listen
The Frigidaire doubtless too old to
make small talk, let alone decent
“And it’s alright, really, I don’t mind
Alone like this – that is, till the
Grow tired of my presence and start
They pressure me out – me alone with
After a beat, an explosion of laughter.
Shut the hell up!
The profanity gets their attention.
Uncomfortable silence. HEATHER, 16, clears her throat and starts to raise a hand, her metallic pink nail polish dazzling under the ceiling fluorescents. Overweight, she dresses in denial.
I liked it.
Okay, that's a start, I guess. But
what do you think Adam’s poem is about?
I don't know how to say it.
Well, let's find someone with some
He looks around, then settles on a dark form in the corner.
Cynthia? Are you with us today?
Nervous silence. In the front, Ruth Ann rolls her eyes.
(loud enough to make sure
Takes one to know one.
Relieved laughter from the class. Cynthia sinks into her seat. Adam slinks back to his.
For this I got a master’s degree.
INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE CLASS
As students file out, Ruth Ann waits by the door. When Cynthia emerges, Ruth Ann pulls her over roughly.
(eyeing her over)
Nice fashion statement. Listen, nut
case, tell your Dad to keep out of our
yard or I’m gonna tell my folks.
What are you talking about?
As if you didn’t know. Just tell him
he better keep his perv self on his own
Ruth Ann trots off. Cynthia sees Adam standing nearby and runs off. Adam watches her go.
EXT. BARDAHL HOUSE – NIGHT
Bardahl scrapes food scraps over the side of the front porch. A large black tom cat runs up and pounces on them.
INT. BARDAHL HOUSE
Desi adjusts her hat in a mirror, then smoothes her dress. Cynthia lies on a couch, propped up with pillows, rubbing her forehead.
Seems like every day by the time you
come home, you got a sick headache.
I probably have a brain tumor.
Shush! You’re gonna miss a good
They’re always the same – we’re going
to burn in hell.
You and Dad can tell me all about it.
Desi picks up a vinyl purse.
He’s staying home with you. He didn’t