BLACK SCREEN

Whistling can be heard over the darkness.

FADE IN

INT REFRIGERATOR

A white outline forms the edge of the fridge door as it is opened by one JAMES AIELLO. His face peers inside as he looks for a soda to drink. Looking towards screen he reaches inside.

INT KITCHEN

James shuts the refrigerator door and opens up the bottled soda. He tilts his head back to chug the beverage and lets loose a sigh of content.

He looks down to his stove and picks up the mail laying there he had just received from the mailbox. Shuffling through the envelopes, he finds one addressed to him without a return address.

Opening the envelope and pulling out the letter inside, James scans the writing with a quick glance and quirks his brows in curiosity. The letter reads a cryptic warning.

"Dark forces surround you. The only way to save yourself, and those you love, is to copy this letter ten times and mail each copy to ten people you hate. The original, you will keep. It matters not where you store it, just so long as it is not destroyed. Failure to follow these simple instructions will result in very bad things ending only with your death."

James stares at the letter with a frown. He rips the envelope and letter into pieces.

INT TRASHCAN

The view looks up to see the white outline of the swinging can lid opening and allowing the disposal of the letter pieces. James peers down towards the falling debris and utters a soft reply.

JAMES

Whatever.

The lid continues to swing until there is only darkness remaining.

INT OFFICE COMPLEX

James is at work the next day. Heavy flourescent lighting casts an artificial glow over the windowless interior of the office building. Dozens of cubicles with busy people take up nearly every available square foot of space.

Keyboards can be heard clicking rapidly and the soft murmurings of people talking, either on the phone or to each other, echo throughout the large facility.

James stares up at a light overhead and leans back into his office chair. This causes a creak to emanate outward. He folds his arms behind his head as he leans in relaxation.

He notices one of his two friends, MATTHEW BARTON, walking down the aisle between the dozens of cubicles on either side of him. James gets up and goes to meet him.

MATTHEW

Hey, James.

JAMES

Matthew...Say, tell me something. You and Jeff didn't get together to pull a joke on me, did you?

MATTHEW

What do you mean?

JAMES

I'm talking about the chainletter I got last night!

MATTHEW

Chainletter? First off, no. Jeff and I wouldn't do that to you. Second off, I told you that house was bad news.

JAMES

Matt, give me a break about the house. I just have to be sure, you two didn't send it, right? Because you keep giving me shit about it.

MATTHEW

[Sighs]

No, man, we didn't send it. You know, I really think you should sell the house and find somewhere else to live.

JAMES

For the last time, I'm not selling the house!

James walks off leaving Matthew shaking his head and watching his friend with a grieved expression. The bright light consumes the screen.

INT JAMES' LIVING ROOM

James enters his house and doesn't bother turning on the lights. He seems rather upset and disturbed but tries to ignore it. Tossing his keys on a table by a lamp, he flops down into his easy chair and stares for a second at nothing. Then he sees his remote to the TV on the stand next to him.

He picks up the remote, but, as he does so, the telephone rings. Since it is on the television stand next to the remote, he simply reaches over to pick the receiver up.

JAMES

[Speaks a little gruffly agitated]

Hello?

[Smiles hearing the voice of his sister. That smile quickly fades.]

Cynthia? What's up, Sis?

[Slight sounds of speech can be heard from the receiver but nothing understandable.]

What? What's wrong?

[He pauses, fear on his face.]

What about them? What's happened?

Are mom and dad all right?

[His face freezes in surprise. He looks as if a great weight has slammed into his shoulders.]

No...

[He hangs up the phone and stares off into the darkness of the living room barely beat back by slivers of light from the mostly drawn shades.]

EXT CEMETARY

A dull haze hangs over the green vegetation surrounding the cemetary as James stands by his sister's side. Three other members of the immediate family are behind them as they stare at the coffins in two different graves beside one another.

The solemn weather casts a dim white light over all those bearing witness.

JAMES

[mutters]

Maybe they were right.

NINA

[quiet with a quick glance]

Who was right and about what?

The coffins begin to lower as the priest who had been praying at the small service slowly walks away.

JAMES

Oh, Jeff and Matt had been harassing me about the house I just bought.

NINA

Why?

JAMES

They seem to be under the impression that it's 'evil.'

He makes quotation marks in the air with his fingers as Nina scrunches her face at him.

NINA

What? Why would they think that? And why are you dwelling on those two lunatics now of all times?

JAMES

Well...apparently it used to be owned by a satanist who used to perform sacrificial rituals in the basement. Or so they say.

His sister makes a glowering look at him and doesn't seem to think his friends are all that bright. She doesn't say anything though and lets him continue.

I guess he ended up commiting suicide. Though, some claim he was taken by the devil himself to make up for his servant's inability to satisfy his needs. Something to that effect, anyhow.

So, any who live there are supposedly cursed by his aura.

NINA

That is, without a doubt, the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

JAMES

I thought that too, until the chainletter the other day.

NINA

Someone sent you a chainletter?

JAMES

Yeah, saying I should send ten copies of it to ten people I hated.

NINA

You threw it away, right?

JAMES

Of course. Just like mom and dad used to say, "junk mail ain't worth the paper it's printed on."

NINA

"It belongs in the trash."

They stare down into the holes as the coffins continue their slow descent into the dark ground. The view is as if the parents were looking up at them in desperate concern but only silence comes forth as the light beyond the grave fades with the onslaught of soil.

INT JAMES' LIVING ROOM

Two days has passed. James returns home in agitation from a long day at work. Again, the lighting in his living room is darkened. He flops into his easy chair and leans back. After a moment he leans forward and drops the mail that is in his left hand onto the floor and cups his hands to his face. In the background, the phone rings. James lets the answering machine get the call.

VOICE

Mr. Aiello, this is your boss. Look, I don't care what Mr. Purvis says, the next outburst like that I hear from you, you're fired.

[James rolls his eyes to the message.]

I'm glad he told you to stay home 'til Monday. If I had to deal with you any sooner, I'd be done with you!

There is an audible click as the phone on his bosses side is slammed down. The message ends leaving James looking more than a little tense.

JAMES

Like I told you earlier...You can go to hell.

James shakes his head and then sees an envelope sticking out of his pile of mail with just his name on it. He hesitantly reaches for it recognizing its design. He breathes heavily as he opens up the envelope and pulls out the letter within. Upon the yellowed paper there are words written which we can see clearly.

"Ten copies. Ten people. Simple instructions. You were warned and you refused to listen. What a pity."

James stares at the writing with his mouth hanging open. He wrinkles the letter up and tosses towards a darkened corner.

JAMES

Goddamnit! Why!?

He braces his hands around his neck and he leans even further forward and stares at his knees. After a moment he looks back up to where he tossed the paper and stands to go retrieve it. He rushes towards the front door and opens it wide. Bright light floods into the room leaving a blurry white haze for the viewer.

INT POLICE STATION

James finds himself in the police station a short while later and heads towards the front counter. An officer there sees him and smiles warmly.

OFFICER

Hello. Is there something I can help you with?

JAMES

[Looking confused.]

Is there a detective on duty?

OFFICER

I believe one is still in the back. What seems to be the problem?

JAMES

I...I think my parents were murdered.

OFFICER

[Looks at James suspiciously.]

Murdered? Slowly tell me what happened and did you find some indication as to their deaths?

JAMES

No. They're already buried...but, I received this note today and I think it may be related to their deaths.

[Pulls out the letter from his pocket and hands it to the Officer.]

I also received a chainletter a few days before they died. I think it may be from the same person.

OFFICER

[Glances at James and looks uncertain on how to proceed.]

Sir, this paper is blank.

JAMES

What!?

[Grabs paper from Officer and looks it over. No words are on the paper.]

How...but I...

OFFICER

Alright, just remain calm. Let's get you with one of our detectives and...

VOICE

James...?

The officer stops speaking and looks over at the detective on duty. This is one JOHN WILCOX. John looks both grieved and relieved that James is there.

JAMES

[Rummages through pocket looking for any other papers and looks stressed. He looks to John.]

Hey, John. You're the detective on duty tonight? That's...that's good news. By the way, thanks for the tip on the house. I like the place...

JOHN

[Shakes head in a 'no' gesture indicating it wasn't a big deal.]

No problem. Knew you needed it....I'm glad you're here. I...I just tried to call your house.

JAMES

[Glances around the station vacantly. The officer from before has turned away.]

You did? Why?

JOHN

[Quiet for a moment. Then speaks.]

Your sister...

John trails off as he notices the panicked expression on James' face. His eyes are wide and unyielding to the belief of truth.

JAMES

What about her...?

EXT STONE ALLEYWAY

James paces back and forth in frustration. He looks irrational and extremely agitated. His mental state seems to have degraded. The stone walls seem to box him in on three sides as he is in analcove. This leaves him with one avenue of escape. Yet, he continues to pace and to think.

MONTAGE/ EXT CEMETERY/ EXT STONE ALLEYWAY

As James paces, we see images of him holding his face and the lowering of a coffin. It would seem that a few weeks have passed all together. The montage goes back and forth between a pacing James and the cemetery.

JAMES

God...Why...this...this isn't real!

One scene shows him brushing Matthew away and him walking past Jeff in agitation, his overcoat brushing behind him. Flashing back to the stone alleyway, James screams out his anger remembering the rainy day all too clearly. He rushes out of the alcove and seems to be going home.

INT BASEMENT JAMES' HOUSE

A slight light follows James as he rushes into the basement. The basement is very dark with only a bit of background lighting illuminating James' form. He stops halfway into the subterranean room when he sees a figure sitting in the center. It is cloaked in darkness with rays of light eminating from it where shadows normally would be applied. The being's shadow on the floor is one of pure white light.

JAMES

[Pauses. He stares wide eyed.]

Wh, who are you!?

BEING

[Remains seated.]

You know who I am.

JAMES

You're not real! They're not dead!

BEING

You were warned. And now you have only yourself to blame.

JAMES

I didn't do anything wrong!

BEING

Oh? Then why am I here?

[The figure stands. The light highlights his shadows and makes him seem like some sort of living negative.]

You see, the light can protect from the dark. However, when the darkness you do invite, then it cannot be so easily dismissed.

JAMES

[Looks very angry and crying.] You killed them!

BEING

[Standing calmly.]

Yes...you did.

[The figure pulls back its hood and reveals the face of James.]

JAMES

[Panicked. Steps backward hesitantly.]

How...no...it's not true. I didn't do it...

SHADOW

Don't feign innocence. You're as corrupted as any that came before you.

JAMES

[Stumbles.]

No...no...

[He rushes the figure in a low grab. Only the figure is no longer there.]

SHADOW

Simple instructions. Nothing complex. But you couldn't even do that. You brought this on yourself. All of this could have been avoided. You could have just brought them to me like a good little boy. Instead...

Well, one's better than nothing. You will help me satisfy the master.

JAMES

[Speaking into the air, unable to see the shadow of himself.]

Forget it!

The shadow suddenly reaches out for him. There is only darkness as the sounds of struggle ensue. The gnashing of metal untensils echoes forth as a muffled scream sounds out. A brief glimpse of the torturous butcher shop of the basement is seen before hearing the sounds of death in the dark.

INT BASEMENT

Some time seems to have passed. Voices can be heard over the dark.

VOICE #1

So, you know him?

Light enters the room and the form of John can be seen staring down unto the view. The view is that of James. His body lays unseen on the floor as the detective and his associate examine the scene.

JOHN

Yeah.

ASSISTANT

What do you think made him snap?

JOHN

Hard to say.

ASSISTANT

His sister. His parents. And then he offs himself. Coward.

JOHN

Nothing's conclusive yet. But...it looks that way. How's the friend doing? Mr. Barton?

ASSISTANT

[Stares down at the view and then looks over at John who's look remains fixed on the view.]

Barton's doing fine. Ever since spilling the beans on how this lunatic went after him, his been feeling a whole lot better.

JOHN

Good to hear. Do me a favor, go get Jerry. I think it's about time we got James to the mortuary.

ASSISTANT Yes, sir.

John continues to sit and stare at James for several seconds, waiting for the assistant to be totally gone.

JOHN

Sorry, James. I wish it didn't have to be this way. Ten people. Just ten people.

[He sighs and shakes his head as he reaches down to cover up the view with some blanket.]

Goodbye, James.

INT REFRIGERATOR

White lines highlight the cracking open of the fridge door as a young woman peers inside its confines staring into the view. She reaches for a drink and is talking on her cell phone. A dark circular shape is on her chest giving off a strange black aura. Her name is unimportant. Let's just call her, SARAH.

SARAH

[Speaking into phone.]

Yeah. It's a great place.

Sarah shuts the door. The view shifts from blackness to...

INT KITCHEN

Some time has passed since the incident with James. This is where he once lived. Now Sarah owns it. She pushes aside some mail on her stove and continues to talk on her phone.

SARAH

I went down into the basement and found this weird medallion. It's pretty cool and snazzy though.

[She twirls the black shape on her bossum.]

Thanks again for the tip on the house, John. You're a good friend. Oh, yeah. I've heard the rumors.

[Leans against stove.]

But, hey, that's all they are, right? Really. Oh, you have to go so soon? All right. I'll talk to you later then. Bye.

Sarah closes her phone and looks through her mail. She notices a peculiar yellowish envelope with her name on it and no return address. She makes a curious expression and opens it up. Inside she finds a note that reads:

"Dark forces surround you. The only way to save yourself, and those you love, is to copy this letter ten times and mail each copy to ten people you hate. The original, you will keep. It matters not where you store it, just so long as it is not destroyed. Failure to follow these simple instructions will result in very bad things ending only with your death."

The audience should be well aware of these words as they are the same ones that James read. The view shifts to see Sarah shaking her head and tearing the envelope and letter up into little pieces.

INT TRASHCAN

The view looks up as the cracking of white light reveals the lid swinging open to allow the disposal of the letter pieces. Sarah stares down into the darkness of the can as slight white light tries to fight it back. She utters a soft reply and a chuckle.

SARAH

Yeah, ok. Whatever.

Her smile disappears behind the swinging lid of the trashcan.

FADE OUT

THE END

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