DESIGN • ADVERTISING • MEDIA
Written By Ethan Maiden
INT - HOUSE - DAY
Camera moves slowly through an everyday lounge with music to match the scene – it’s dark, grey, and cold. We spot a photograph of an elderly couple on the TV stand, a landscape painting hung on the wall, a small round mirror.
The view then shifts toward the fire lintel, where we settle on the grey ceramic urn.
The picture dissolves and we see the title: ASHES on a black background.
Camera then cuts to SARAH (40’s) - stood staring at the urn with her arms crossed looking solemn.
In her hand is a heart-shaped necklace.
SARAH (Voice Over)
There you go, dad … back with mum as you wished.
SARAH gently places the necklace over the urn.
As the sun pokes through the curtains, Sarah’s doting husband JASON (40’s)
emerges through the kitchen door.
SARAH takes a step back.
Are you ok?
SARAH nods unconvincingly.
JASON walks over and hugs her.
Feels like he’s still here, huh?
As though he’s watching over us.
I must admit,
(Turning to face the urn)
I do miss our fishing trips.
You two were tied at the hip.
That’s probably why he asked to have his ashes scattered in the river.
When are you thinking?
(Tongue in cheek)
That was his wish … to be with me one more week.
(Looks from urn to JASON)
You know dad - he was a stubborn man.
I wondered where you got it from.
JASON walks back to the kitchen door and turns.
It’s been a tough few months, with your mum and now this.
If you’re struggling, just talk to me … let me help.
I just want to get the will meeting over with so I can get my head straight.
JASON nods in agreement and heads back in the kitchen as the room becomes cold and dark again.
SARAH sighs - her focus back on the urn.
Camera moves forward slowly back toward the urn.
INT.- OFFICE - DAY
Shot of a wall-mounted ticking clock – it’s just after noon.
Focus on SARAH and JASON sitting and staring impatiently at …
MARCUS HINDS (60’S) - eyes down reading through a pile of papers under the
his orange/red lamp.
On his desk is a modern telephone and laptop computer. Coat and hat in background
So, let’s go through the details of your late father’s wishes.
SARAH sits up attentively - suddenly perkier – a green shade of light on her eager face.
The residence, both here and in Spain goes to you.
MARCUS reaches down under the table and brings forth a leather briefcase with gold locks.
SARAH looks on with a confused but excited expression at what the contents
could be – still with a green shade.
Now, inside this case is the property paperwork as well as your father’s remaining bank balance – in cash as instructed, I believe it to be in the region of two-hundred and forty thousand pounds.
JASON coughs in shock.
Apologies … all that cash can fit in there?
You’d be surprised.
SARAH reaches to take the case.
MARCUS quickly slides it back out of her reach.
There is one more thing your father requested. You can take the case today,
however … it shall remain locked for a full week.
In seven days, I shall provide you with the combination code.
What? Is that a joke?
Afraid not. These are the conditions my client requested.
MARCUS slides the case back toward SARAH.
We linger on it for a few seconds until SARAH finally grabs the handle.
SARAH and JASON arrive home and close the door.
Sarah sits the case down as the kettle begins to boil in the kitchen.
She stares at the urn with confusion – blowing her cheeks.
Linger on the urn as the sound of the kettle and background noise drowns out to rising dull tone.
We hear a low female voice in whispering tone over the view of the urn.
Sarah … please …
(Gasping for air)
Help … me.
INT.- KITCHEN - DAY
SARAH sits smoking a cigarette as the briefcase is on the table.
There are footsteps suddenly above.
SARAH frowns and dabs out the smoke.
Follow her from the kitchen with continuous shot as she heads to the bottom of the stairs.
Jase, you home from work?
POV from the top of the staircase looking down at her nervous face.
Initial silence – followed by more quick footsteps rummaging over the landing as though next to the camera.
Camera turns to see JASON enter the front door with his laptop bag in hand.
SARAH looks back up the stairs and nods – shaking off any initial worry.
Not long now, a few more days and you can decide what to spend all that money on – maybe take me on a holiday.
SARAH smiles forcefully – again looking up the stairs as JASON walks past her.
SARAH wakes in the dead of night - gasping for air.
She sits up in bed rubbing her arms staring at the open doorway.
Camera lingers on the low-lit landing.
There is a silhouette – or is there? It’s hard to tell.
Back to SARAH’S face as she squints.
Back to the landing as two specs come into focus - maybe eyes – something moves – the eyes that watch her slightly tilting – with the sudden movement comes a shriek blast of music.
SARAH shakes a sleeping JASON from beside her.
Jase, get up, there’s someone in the house.
There … on the landing.
JASON sits up and gets out of bed.
SARAH backs up in the bed, raising the quilt, almost scared to watch.
Back to following JASON as his back blocks out the shadow on the landing.
He goes to the landing painfully slow and switches the light on.
Only him and his tired eyes as he looks back confused and shrugging his shoulders.
SARAH stands above the briefcase, her hands on her hips –
staring, smoking, and chewing her lip.
Camera focuses on the top of the case
the numbers barely visible but appear to be jumbled.
SARAH slowly moves her hand toward it.
There is a sudden bang from the lounge which startles her.
Continuous shot behind as SARAH moves through to the lounge and sees
that the urn has moved across the lintel – apparently by its own
and knocked over a photo, photo of Mum and Dad is smashed on floor
Fear spreads across her face.
Hello, is someone there?
Jason? This isn’t funny.
Silence … Then footsteps creeping on the landing – growing heavier.
SARAH grabs her coat and runs out of the house.
We linger on the door as silence falls back in the lounge.
SARAH sits on the bench biting her nails as JASON arrives – again with laptop bag in hand.
It’s suddenly a sunny, light, and warm day.
What’s going on? I had to tell work you were sick.
Something isn’t right.
What do you mean?
(Rocks head from side to side slowly, speaking in slight trance)
Strange things are happening.
(Sighs as he sits)
I think you’ve been under a lot of stress-
No! Don’t do that.
Act as though I’m making this up.
I’m not saying that. But last night and being hysterical on the phone
…I’m worried about you.
I need you to believe me.
Just … let’s go home, and we can figure this out together.
SARAH nods reluctantly.
CUT TO BLACK.
Woman’s voice over the black in whispering – breathless tone.
Sarah … Sarah … please …
SARAH gasps for air as she wakes.
Looking down, JASON is asleep on his side with his back to her.
There is a creak on the stairs outside the bedroom door which grabs her attention.
Camera focuses again on the open door and looming shadow beyond.
The creak happens again – footsteps as though something is coming up the stairs.
Back to SARAH as her expression turns to dreaded fear.
She rocks JASON, who mumbles something under his breath.
Back to the landing as the dim view of a hand comes in shot, curling around the doorframe.
Back to SARAH as she backs up the bed - fumbling for JASON.
Back to the landing as a peeking face (the light restricting full view) comes around the doorframe.
SARAH tries to scream, but her voice is a gasping one – she holds her chest and then moves for her blocked throat.
Back to the landing as a slight smile curls up the sinister peeking face.
SARAH rocks JASON hysterically trying to breathe.
He rolls over … only for it to be her dead father’s face staring straight at her.
Now SARAH does scream and JASON leaps up next to her.
Sarah! Sarah! What is it?!
She cannot calm as he takes hold of her in a loving embrace
as the sound of her wails fade into the growing noise of rushing water.
Sarah storms into Marcus’ office – (orange/red colour grading).
I need the code to the case.
(Confused – narrowing eyebrows)
The fucking briefcase!
I need the code to stop all this … weirdness.
SARAH holds her head, slowly calming and realising how silly
this must sound – again, a slight green glimmer on her face.
I want the code now … please.
I want this to all be over. Then I can get the hell outta’ here.
There are still twenty-four hours until you receive the code.
No! I want that damn code now!
SARAH comes back in the house.
JASON emerges from the kitchen bringing with him the light from outside.
What did he say?
He wasn’t budging – tomorrow.
SARAH moves for the urn.
What are you doing?
I’m getting rid of this thing.
Tomorrow, Sarah, it’s been a week tomorrow.
I’m tired of this … I’m tired of him being here.
One more day and it is all over.
The grief, it’s manifested into these night terrors. Tonight - I’m going to stay awake … all night.
Just give it one more night.
SARAH lowers her head and places the urn back on the lintel,
then walks to the kitchen with JASON following.
Sarah sits in front of the briefcase and begins rolling the combination lock.
She gives up in anger, holding her head in frustration.
JASON rubs her shoulder and SARAH shies away from his irritating touch.
Just one more night.
SARAH wakes to find JASON asleep – so much for staying awake all night
initially she looks pissed.
She looks forward – paralysed as the thing in the corner of the room
stares back at her – we see nothing but the silhouette of a woman,
the shiny necklace from the urn, and peering eyes.
M … m … mum?
From the doorway, we see the hand creep around again.
SARAH closes her eyes and camera stays on her clenched face.
Sarah … please …
Please … leave me alone.
SARAH opens her eyes and looks forward.
Both the figures of her parents are gone.
She slightly relaxes and turns to face JASON …
The face of her dead mother suddenly comes into shot for a JUMP SCARE.
SARAH puts her coat on and takes the urn
the necklace is back where she originally placed it.
Look, I said I’m sorry for falling asleep.
Everyone thinks I’m crazy - even I do.
My mum was there and then … she suddenly wasn’t.
It doesn’t make sense.
SARAH looks at him questionably.
Your parents wouldn’t be haunting you, Sarah.
SARAH relaxes and takes a breath – manages to smile.
She then takes the urn.
I’ll get my coat.
No, I’m going on my own.
JASON looks taken aback.
It just feels like something I have to do alone.
JASON watches her worriedly - yet understanding her mind-set for this personal closure.
SARAH walks to him and gives him a loving hug.
Camera pans toward the urn in her hand … then -
The urn sits secure in the passenger seat – bobbling around.
Back to SARAH as she is focussed on the road – the necklace around her neck.
Numerous shots – including aerial views of the car passing through the countryside.
And then, we …
The car pulls up and SARAH exits before grabbing the urn.
Camera follows behind as she walks up the pathway to the stone bridge.
Aerial shot of the SARAH in the centre of the bridge looking over and down to the flowing river.
She places the urn on the ledge – green tinge of colour grading.
Time to say goodbye, dad.
SARAH unlocks the lid and spills the contents.
Rolls of money fall from the urn and to the water – instantly floating away with rapid speed.
SARAH notices and pulls the urn back up to looks inside, only to see sand.
SARAH drops the urn which smashes on the floor.
When she turns to head back to the car in confusion,
MARCUS is approaching on the bridge wearing the long jacket and hat.
SARAH watches him angrily, yet apprehensive.
What the hell is going on?!
What are you doing here?
I think it’s time you have the code.
In his hand is a red envelope, which he holds up.
You want to explain to me why the urn was full of money?
Would you like the code or not?
SARAH takes it – we take a side shot as MARCUS nails are unusually long and sharp.
SARAH puts envelope in her pocket.
I don’t understand what’s happening.
Well, you have been quite the naughty girl, have you not, Sarah?
What does that mean?
MARCUS holds up a finger as his other hand reaches in his pocket. He pulls out his mobile phone and taps several times on the screen before handing it over.
SARAH watches confused as we see the footage. It’s a secret camera that has been set up in her father’s bedroom as he lies sick in bed.
What … where did you get this?
It appears your father grew quite suspicious following the untimely death of your mother.
Tell me, Sarah, how did it feel when you watched her heart gave in …when she begged you for help, when you allowed her to die?
The necklace around her neck begins to bleed from its heart.
SARAH rubs the crimson between her fingers.
She pulls off the necklace and drops it to the ground, by the smashed urn.
Your father was not as stupid as you may think. He set up this camera in case he ever needed proof. And, he did need it, didn’t he Sarah?
This is isn’t happening.
Take a look, Sarah.
SARAH’S attention is back on the phone.
On the footage, SARAH enters the room in the night.
She grabs a pillow and places it on top of her father’s face.
Then presses down as he begins to struggle.
The same hand that curled around the doorframe scratches at the pillow until going limp.
The footage cuts to black.
First your mother, then your father.
He set me up.
You could not be patient, could you? You had to have those bloodied hands on his fortune, didn’t you?
SARAH holds her weight up on the bridge.
That money you just threw in the river was the last of it. Amongst the generosity to the charities and sale of the house in Spain, there was not much else left .... other than the manor house of course, which he has kindly left … to me.
SARAH throws the phone in the river.
MARCUS eyes have darkened – almost black as he looks to her, then over the bridge.
Your father and I made a deal following his suspicions. And when you make a deal with me, that agreement is final.
Who are you?
MARCUS looks back with solid black eyes, his long nails reminiscent of those creeping around her bedroom doorframe scraping the bridge stone.
His face is blemished under the dimming light.
SARAH runs past MARCUS and down the bridge.
She reaches the car and looks back.
Shot of a distant MARCUS stood motionlessly staring at her from the bridge.
The car pulls up outside and SARAH gets out frantically.
She runs to the house and …
SARAH rushes in the house.
Camera follows behind as she enters the kitchen.
Jason is sat with horror on his face in front of the laptop.
He looks up at the monster before him – his wife.
How could you?
He slowly spins the screen to reveal he has been given the footage.
How could you, Sarah?
SARAH falls back to the lounge – the game is up.
I … I have to … go
She freezes seeing the flashing blue and red lights flicker through the window.
JASON follows her in, stands in the doorway – one last glimmer of light slowly dying out.
Camera moves from his distraught face to the kitchen and down to the briefcase as loud police hands knock on the front door.
Then slowly we – the audience see the numbers on the briefcase – 6-6-6.
Sun sets as camera moves from overlooking the rushing water down to the shattered urn. Bloody heart ... Inside, then the last roll of money sat in the clump of sand unravels and blows away.