Nov 11, 2021
THE SEVENTH KEY
A writer makes a bet that she can change her style - and perhaps her life - overnight
Written and produced by Julie Hoverson
19 Nocturne theme music: Kevin MacLeod (Incompetech.com)
Recorded with the assistance of Ryan Hirst of Neohoodoo Studio
Editing and Sound: Julie Hoverson
"What kind of a place is it?
Why it's a writer's studio, can't you tell?"
The seventh key
The seventh Key is the other play vaguely inspired by the Seven Keys to Bald Pate - The book by Earl Derr Biggars, and the play by George M. Cohan, and the 1970s loosely inspired film The House of Long Shadows.
While Murder Ward arose primarily from the catfishing aspect of the story, this one is more obviously the basic plotline - author makes a bet to write something different if given an inspirational place, and then things go awry. There's a hint that the catfishing is still happening, but maybe it's not.
Part of this is simply an indictment of the unrealistic expectations that romance novels give women - we all complain about porn creating unreal expectations for men, then dream about 7 foot tall warrior hunks with long fabio hair and tribal tatoos, and more junk than any man should have, since he would pass out every time from blood loss to the brain.
That's why every man in this play is utterly impossible, from Cindy's point of view. They all prove that reality is terrible. Originally Tex and Luke were both sort of dudebros, but a last minute replacement put Michael Campbell in for his first session with us, and he sounded too similar to Luke, and wasn't comfortable with a cowboy type accent (my original intention for Tex). So on the spot we decided Tex was effusively gay - which would be another and different way he could be "completely unavailable" to our lovelorn writer.
The multiple endings are also inspired by Seven Keys to Bald Pate, and are more meant to show the many horrible ways a writers mind expects projects to go down in flames, or fall apart, than necessarily to show an actual event. We all imagine having our book done, then finding it's gone horribly wrong....
THE SEVENTH KEY
OLIVIA Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's a writer's condo, can't you tell?
SCENE 1. WRITING AT HOME
SOUND COMPUTER, TYPING
CINDY [muttering as she types, overwrought] ...and I love you too, my dearest darling.
SOUND PHONE RINGS
CINDY [irritated mumble] Go away, he's about to make an indecent proposal.
TROY I can no longer contain my passion. My blood hums for you. You must be mine!
CINDY [ecstatic sigh]
SOUND PICKS UP PHONE
CINDY [almost an ecstatic sigh] Yes?
REGIA You've been writing, haven't you?
CINDY [still dreamy] Of course. That's what you want me to do, isn't it?
REGIA Of course. So. What's the new one?
CINDY "Rogue of Fate"
REGIA Quick précis?
CINDY Warwick Wellington, handsome and devilish owner of Wellington shipping lines and dabbler in exotic animals hires cat breeder Gloriana Mundy to help him birth a rare white leopard--
REGIA They hate each other on sight, and yet fall in love, have a steamy sex scene and then argue, never to see each other again, but then the panther--
REGIA --goes into labour and they have to work together to save the cubs, and realize their attraction is unavoidable?
CINDY [shocked] How-- how did you guess?
REGIA Cindy, you know I'm your friend as well as your agent, right?
CINDY Yes, but what has--
REGIA It's roughly the same as every plot you've ever written. In fact I think it's identical to "Never the Twain Shall Sleep" except that was a prize-winning race horse instead of a leopard. You're kind of predictable.
CINDY [truly distressed] But - no. It can't be, I don't-- not on purpose!
REGIA I know. That's actually the very sad part. I know, and you know, that you just happen to write that way, and not that you have a formula tacked to the wall that says "page 32, they meet. At page 230, they quarrel" or anything like that.
CINDY I don't! I swear!
REGIA The good thing is that your books always sell. I'm never going to fault you for that - but I'd love to see what you could do if you ever did break out of this rut. You're a competent writer, and you'll always have an audience, but you could do more, if you tried something a little different.
CINDY Like what?
REGIA Are you seeing anyone?
CINDY Dr. Mallory said I didn't really need--
REGIA I meant dating.
CINDY Oh. [grudging] No.
REGIA You should.
CINDY Men are pigs.
REGIA Which is why your heroes perspire rather than sweat. Real women like real men. At least a little bit.
CINDY They're ... messy. Uncooperative.
REGIA. Yup. Try it - you might like it.
SOUND PHONE HANGS UP
CINDY You are the only one who understand me, Troy.
TROY Of course, my proud beauty. For you are complex and mysterious and most men can't be bothered to see past the ends of their--
CINDY [cutting him off] Yes, yes. Troy, you will always love me, won't you?
TROY As long as there is breath in my body.
CINDY Oh, Troy!
TROY Oh, Cindy!
SOUND PHONE RINGS
CINDY Oh, pooh!
SOUND PICKS UP PHONE
MANDY Hey sis. I guess I caught you at a bad time?
CINDY [irritated] I was just... composing. What do you need?
MANDY I was just going to see if you wanted to come to dinner this weekend. George and I haven't seen you in ages.
CINDY Who is it this time?
MANDY [overly innocent] Whatever can you mean?
CINDY Please - when you start talking like... like--
MANDY One of your heroines?
CINDY [pedantic] The way people talked in the 18th and 19th century--
MANDY I give up! I will give you the code words. His name is Rob, and he's a banker. He's nice. Cute even - if you don't mind someone a tad... cuddly.
CINDY Stop trying to fix me up - why can't you believe I'm just fine?
MANDY Because you're alone, and if I know you, you're talking to your imaginary boyfriend again.
CINDY You said you'd never--
MANDY Drop it! Sorry! Come to dinner anyway. We'll tell Rob you have something contagious, and you can just sit and be bored with the three of us. [beat] Cody misses his auntie.
CINDY Cody can't feed himself yet. I doubt he can tell us apart, the way he keeps trying to get into my shirt.
MANDY For a romance writer, you are the least sentimental person I know. No wonder all your characters are cardboard cutouts.
CINDY They are not!
MANDY Sweetie. They all use the same 10 lines at some point in their respective narrative - there's an entire website devoted to spotting them and mocking you.
CINDY What ten lines?
MANDY Lessee - "my proud beauty"
CINDY [squeaky gasp]
MANDY "As long as there is breath in my body", "you may take my body but you will never have my heart" - that one from her, whoever "her" is at the moment. Hmm. I can forward you the URL if you like.
CINDY No! And I'm not going to come to dinner. I'm busy. Writing. Something completely different.
MANDY I'll believe that when I read it.
CINDY You bet you will.
MANDY You're on!
MANDY I'll bet you one year that you can't write a real novel - even a novella - in the same time that it takes you to rattle off one of your froufrou books.
CINDY One year? Of what?
MANDY [chuckles evilly] One year that you come to dinner twice a month and be nice to whoever we invite--
MANDY --against one year when I won't even ask you over.
CINDY You're - you're on! I could use a year of not being nagged.
MANDY But you have to get the first draft done in a weekend - that's how long you told Women's Day it takes you to write one of your books.
CINDY [gasp] How can anyone be so horrid?
MANDY I'm your sister - and yes, that one's on the list too.
SOUND MANDY HANGS UP. CINDY SLOWLY PUTS DOWN RECEIVER
CINDY Am I really that ... predictable?
TROY A woman is a bundle of senses, with a dash of nonsense.
CINDY Why didn’t you ever tell me?
REGIA [on phone] I did - you just never heard. I didn't push it because you always sell so well - to women who like a certain kind of man, a certain kind of story, and a certain kind of resolution. You always deliver.
CINDY I'm - I'm boring! This website even says so. "Good god! How could I have been so blind" - oh No! I will never say that again!
REGIA It's not that bad. Ignore the critics. Write what you love. As long as it sells, why worry about it?
CINDY Is money all you think about?
REGIA I am an agent.
CINDY But I want people to like my books, not laugh at them. I want to write something good. Something meaningful.
REGIA Oh, man. I said you should try something different, but, meaningful? Why such a change?
CINDY Because just surviving isn’t living at all. [defiant] and yes, that's one of the ten.
CINDY Never mind. Will you help me?
REGIA Help you - with what?
CINDY I need a place to write. Inspiration. Atmosphere. Just for a weekend - enough to rough out a new story. [definite] Something meaningful.
REGIA Meaningful books are a tougher sell. I like your books the way they are.
CINDY I can always go back to churning out the same old... crap...later.
TROY During our year of peace.
SCENE 4. OUTSIDE THE LIGHTHOUSE
SOUND WALKING, OUTSIDE, WIND, ONE PAIR OF FEET IS VERY STOMPY
OLD SCUPPER Yar. The lighthouse heah was decommissioned night on fotty yeahs gone.
SOUND BIRD NOISE
CINDY Oh, seagulls!
OLD SCUPPER [completely dry] Cahnt see why - being right heah on the beach, and all.
SOUND KEYS JINGLE - OLD CREAKY DOOR OPENS
OLD SCUPPER Cahs it ain't been empty the hul time - we gets renters from time to time who want to paint or try that meditation yahoo, but-- but no one eveh stays more'n a month.
SOUND THEY GO INSIDE, CREAKY DOOR SLAMS SHUT WITH AN ECHO
OLD SCUPPER It's all on account o' the ghost.
CINDY Yes, that's exactly why I came here.
OLD SCUPPER Har har har. Y'ain't the fust, young lady, to think they cud stand up t' the ghost.
CINDY I heard it was a woman who committed suicide? Jumped off the--
OLD SCUPPER Ain't that romantic, now? Nar. She were killed. And then he killed hisself. No one atall is dead sure which one itis which haunts the place - or mayhaps it's both of 'em.
CINDY Well, can't they see? If it's in a dress--?
OLD SCUPPER Yer head is full o' crap. It's them movies and the T-V makes it sound like ghosts look just like regular folks. Bah. [spookier and spookier] This haunt - or haunts, as the case may be - is just a dark shape which covers the winduhs, making day inta night, and then it lets out such a scream - a scream to shake down the very heavens. Them as hears the scream falls inter a deep sleep and when they finally wake up, they find they've done ... terrible things. Best you come on back befoah dark and stay in town. Tis not far - just an hour or so afoot.
CINDY No. I'm fine. Thanks.
OLD SCUPPER Suit yerself.
SOUND FEET STOMP OFF. DOOR OPENS. CLICK
OLD SCUPPER Ayah?
CINDY What about the electricity?
OLD SCUPPER Yer don' know how t'work a jenny?
CINDY Who's Jenny?
OLD SCUPPER [disgusted noise] Gar.
SOUND DOOR SHUTS, FEET STOMP AWAY INSIDE
SOUND TYPING AWAY ON A LAPTOP
CINDY [mutters as she types] --window high above the pounding surf. The darkness closes in, the wind echoes through the huge column of stone, and the rocks call out to her. "Join us." No, scratch that, "we have the answer to all your pain"--
SOUND KNOCK ON THE OUTER DOOR ECHOES LOUDLY
CINDY [eep!] Coming!
SOUND A COUPLE MORE LAPTOP KEYS
SOUND ENDLESS FEET DOWN STAIRS, THEY STOP. THEN CONTINUE
CINDY Just a minute!
SOUND FEET DESCEND AND FINALLY FADE INTO--
SOUND DOOR OPENS
CINDY [out of breath] Hello? [half wolf whistle, half gasp] Hell-o!
TEX [very campy] Hello! Is this the Sutter's Wharf lighthouse?
CINDY [puzzled and disappointed] Yes. Um. Is there something I can do for you?
TEX I wanted to make sure before we start bringing in the equipment. [turns away and gives a huge whistle]
CINDY Equip... what?
TEX We'll be staying in here, then?
SOUND FOOTSTEPS INTO ECHOES
TEX [echoey] Hmm. Not bad. We're with "In Specter" - you know, the ghost hunting show? We're doing a spot on the lighthouse this weekend. Didn't you get the memo?
CINDY But... but I'm renting the lighthouse this weekend.
TEX You aren't the owner?
CINDY I-I'm a writer - I came here for some peace and quiet and--
SOUND SQUEAKY WHEELS APPROACH
LUKE ["dude" yelling from off] Dude, get out of the way! Got the beers!
CINDY [nearly in tears] -- and atmosphere.
TEX Sorry. We've had it booked for six months. You'll have to talk to Roarke. Our boss.
CINDY Roarke? That's a nice name. I gotta make a note--
TEX You got one?
CINDY A note?
TEX [snorting laugh] No. A name. I'm Tex, and this ...studmuffin is Luke.
LUKE [a little off] Yo!
CINDY Cindy. Cindy Applegate.
LUKE Oh! Woah! Any relation to--?
CINDY [surprised and pleased] Yes - yes, it's me - I'm the writer.
LUKE Writer? No - you know, the hot actress. Babelicious! Smoking! Awoo!
SCENE 6. OUTSIDE
SOUND PACING ON DIRT
CINDY This Roarke will just have to understand.
TROY You will sway him with your plight. And your beauty.
CINDY Maybe he'll even be handsome--
TROY Your eyes devoured those two musclebound--
CINDY But this Roarke guy is the boss. He's probably Irish or something. Fiery. Passionate.
TROY Who wouldn't be, faced with your loveliness?
CINDY Regia said she arranged everything.
TROY Perhaps she thought the presence of other people might stir your creative juices.
SOUND CAR WINDOW ROLLS DOWN
ROARKE [obnoxiously Brooklyn] OK, I got 5 minutes.
CINDY [vastly disappointed] Oh. Sure. Um, my publicist--
ROARKE I was just on the phone with her. Someone well and truly screwed the pooch on this one, but we're willing to let you stick around while we work--
CINDY But I need quiet to write!
ROARKE Tough titty, babe. You can stay, but only if you let the crew fit you into the show - Your agent said it would be good for your image, all that crap.
CINDY But when will I be able to write?
ROARKE We'll be shooting local color tonight and tomorrow by day - write then. But at night, you gotta be around in case this ghost shows up.
CINDY You think I'll really enhance the show?
ROARKE Chicks scream better.
SOUND WINDOW ROLLS UP
SOUND SEAGULLS, OUTSIDE AMBIANCE, OCEAN, WIND
SOUND KEYBOARD CLICKS
CINDY [Muttering through gritted teeth] Ensconced on the parapet, I gazed down over the jagged cliffs below, and wondered if perhaps this was the same view - the last view - of the murdered woman so long ago. Whether the moaning of the wind in the rocks called to her, the way they sing now - even now - in my head.
SOUND A COUPLE OF LAST CLICKS, LAPTOP CLOSES
TROY It's going well, all things considered.
CINDY Yes. But it's almost dark, and then--
TROY He required you be available, not actually present.
CINDY I hope the ghost shows up - then they can get what they want and go.
TROY Have you considered--?
TROY That this was much too fortuitous - your arrival followed so closely by theirs? Perhaps your agent did this a'purpose.
CINDY But why? She wants me to write--
TROY Ah, but she also wants you to socialize. With real people.
CINDY Well, if I don't get this darn draft done, I'll definitely be stuck socializing - if you can call any of Mandy and George's friends "real". [shudder]
TROY Would it be so horrible?
SOUND KNOCK ON DOOR
TEX Hey, you up here?
SOUND DOOR OPENS
TEX There you are, pretty lady.
CINDY What do you want?
TEX Making sure you didn't fall off or nothing.
CINDY [chilling] Nope. Not yet.
TEX Well. Dinner's on, anyway.
SCENE 8. SHOOTING
SOUND WHIRRING OF MACHINERY
VOICE [on P.A.] IN SPECTOR
LUKE OK, so we're here in Sutter's Wharf lighthouse, waiting to see if the infamous screaming shadow will appear.
TEX And for once, we're not all alone. We have a guest - famous romance writer Cindy Appleton.
CINDY [hollow, deer in headlights] Applegate.
TEX Applegate. [beat] Here, honey, wave. I guess little Cindy ain't exactly hard to scare, huh, Luke?
LUKE [chuckles] Well, Tex, writing's a pretty lonely business. And this is a lonely place. Right Cindy?
LUKE Yeah. See, dude?
CINDY It is a lonely business.
TEX Right. Well, they say the ghost has been known to walk the platform around the light, upstairs. So we're going to haul ass up there for a while. Come on.
SOUND LIGHTS SWITCHED OFF
ROARKE That coulda been better.
CINDY I thought ...there would be a script.
ROARKE You wanna write one, go ahead, but we don't got the budget to pay for nuttin like that.
CINDY I'm... sorry.
ROARKE No skin off my ass. Embarrassing famous people goes over great on TV. And your agent agreed that, short of actual nudity, anything we shoot of you this weekend will get her ok for air time.
TROY We should get clear of this nest of vipers!
CINDY [trying to be brave] Well. You can film me writing for the next half hour. I have a scene that has to get written.
ROARKE Not bad - use the publicity from the show to push the book. And vicey-versy. Not bad at all.
SOUND DOOR SLAMS, SQUEAK, LATCH
CINDY Well, I can get a little privacy anyway.
SOUND OPEN LAPTOP, POWER UP
TROY You know I will always support anything you do--
SOUND HORRIBLE DRILLING NOISE
CINDY What the blazes?
SOUND LATCH OPENS, DOOR OPENS
CINDY What's the--
SOUND HORRIBLE DRILLING NOISE, LOUDER
CINDY Ahhhhhhh! [as soon as it ends] What IS that!
LUKE Eyebolts, little dudette. Can't have the cameras falling if the ghost shows up. We got permission.
CINDY But the noise!
LUKE Yeah, sucks, don't it. Oh, well. Be done soon. [laughs] Woah!
SOUND DOOR SLAMS
SCENE 10. TIME PASSES
TROY [voice cutting the music] Weren't they coming back to get you?
CINDY Hmm? Maybe they forgot about me.
TROY But it's been hours.
CINDY Has it?
SOUND TURNING DOWN VOLUME OF THE MUSIC
CINDY It is awfully quiet.
TROY It's past one.
SOUND TAPPING A FEW LAST KEYS, CLOSE LAPTOP, REMOVE MEMORY STICK
CINDY I guess I should see.
SOUND LATCH LIFTS, THEN HESITATES
CINDY They might just be waiting to catch me off guard again.
TROY Don't let them. You're much too clever. You can do this.
SOUND DOOR OPENS
CINDY [quiet, echoing] Hello?
SOUND WALKING AND TURNING ON A CELLPHONE
CINDY Searching, searching...
TROY Perhaps they're filming outside?
CINDY They wouldn't have left all the equipment. It's all just sitting there... Even that darn drill. [gasp] Drat. No bars. Figures.
SOUND CELL PHONE SLAPS SHUT
TROY Leaving is a very viable option. Grab your smallest case and we can--
CINDY But their blasted truck has boxed me in.
TROY Only about an hour's walk. According to the ...rustic.
CINDY But if something happened here, wouldn't it have happened to me too?
TROY Then... what?
CINDY I think it's a joke. They thought it was funny catching me out in front of the camera, and now...
TROY An even more persuasive argument that you must leave this place.
CINDY No. I can just see it - bedraggled author crawls into town after night in haunted lighthouse, only to find camera crew at local bar. Yes! That's where they must be. Well, I'm not playing.
TROY So you will--?
CINDY Go upstairs and get back to work. There's still plenty of time before they stagger in.
SCENE 12. POWER TROUBLE
SOUND DOOR SHUTS, DOOR LATCH
SOUND ELECTRIC NOISE, BUZZ-DIP.
CINDY Oh, shi--oot!
SOUND LAPTOP UNPLUGGED, THEN TURNED ON
CINDY Oh, no! Good thing I have backup.
SOUND LAPTOP BOOTS
CINDY [sigh of relief]
SOUND ELECTRIC DIP, THEN OUT. POP OF LIGHT BULB
TROY Now it's truly time to go.
CINDY But how will I get back down and out of here in the dark?
TROY How can you stay?
CINDY Easy. I write for the four hours I have on battery, and by then dawn will be coming up. I just sit tight.
SCENE 13. WORKING
SOUND TYPING MADLY
TROY What if it was the ghost?
CINDY Hey, whose imaginary friend are you anyway?
TROY [calming] I help you to express your fears.
CINDY Well, right now, any fears I have are right outside that door, and can stay there.
SOUND ELECTRIC NOISE RETURNS
SOUND DRILL OUTSIDE THE DOOR - continues until noted
CINDY [Starts screaming]
TROY Shh, It's going to be all right. Shh. Calm down. You need to be calm.
CINDY [down to whimpering]
TROY It's not that bad - the power just came back on and the surge started the drill.
CINDY [gasping] Really?
TROY [uncertain] It's the only logical answer.
CINDY Logic sucks.
TROY The noise won't go away until you go out there and turn it off.
TROY What if you're the only one here - that damn noise will drive you mad until you put it right.
CINDY Someone had to turn on the generator.
CINDY I think so. So someone has to be out there.
TROY [ominous] Someone.
CINDY You're doing it again! Shh!
SOUND FOOTSTEPS COMING UP THE STAIRS
TROY Who do you think it is?
TROY No one but you can hear me, my sweet one.
CINDY [whispered] Oh. Right.
SOUND FOOTSTEPS GET CLOSE. DOOR IS RATTLED
TROY If they were not villains, they'd hail you, wouldn't they?
TROY Bloody hell.
SOUND FOOTSTEPS GO ON PAST
TROY Oh good.
SOUND DRILL IS TURNED OFF
CINDY [huge sigh]
SOUND SOMETHING HEAVY DROPS. FOOTSTEPS START TO RETURN
CINDY [rapid breathing, trying to stay quiet]
SOUND SUDDEN POUNDING ON DOOR
CINDY [hands over mouth, to keep self quiet]
TROOPER [muffled] Police! Open up!
TROY Can you trust him?
CINDY [whispered] What else can I do? [up, but shaky] I'm coming.
SOUND SLOW STEPS TO DOOR, LATCH OPENS, THEN DOOR
TROOPER1 Will you step out here ma'am? Please keep your hands where I can see them.
CINDY What? Why?
TROOPER1 [calling off] Found one!
CINDY One what?
TROOPER1 Survivor. Come on.
CINDY I can't leave my laptop! What do you mean, survivor?
TROOPER1 We're just going downstairs - for the moment. Everything will be perfectly safe.
SOUND FEET SLOWLY DESCEND STAIRS
TROOPER1 Stay to the right here, at the bottom of the stairs - we don't want you walking in the evidence. Come on.
CINDY I can't!
TROOPER2 Hey! What's the hold up?
CINDY What happened?
TROOPER1 That's what we want you to tell us, ma'am. Now if you would just step this way--
SOUND FEET RUN UPSTAIRS, HEAVY BOOTS FOLLOW. SHE IS GRABBED
TROOPER1 [struggling with her] We've tried to be polite about this, but you have to come with us - it's not a request.
CINDY [breathing hard, half whispered] I've never seen so much blood!
SOUND FOOTSTEPS DESCEND AGAIN
TROOPER1 I'm willing to believe that, miss, but we need to find out what you did see. I mean tonight.
CINDY Nothing. Before the lights went out, no one was here, and then there was no power, so I worked on battery in my room, and then you turned...them back on...
TROOPER1 You didn't hear anything? Anything at all?
CINDY I tend to be ... lost... in thought - when I write. And the walls seem pretty thick. [breath catches] What... happened?
TROOPER1 Don't know. The bodies are all ... missing.
SCENE 14. ONE PHONE CALL
CINDY I promise you, I didn't see or hear anything.
REGIA [on phone] Did you tell them that?
CINDY Over and over again. They won't believe me. They think I did some awful thing!
REGIA I know a few lawyers. We'll get this sorted out.
CINDY But I didn’t do anything!
REGIA Sorry, you caught me in a bad cell zone. Let me get to a land line and call you back.
SOUND CLICK PHONE OFF
CINDY That's a fine kettle of fish.
TROY They would never convict you - they must see what a lovely soul you truly are.
CINDY People have been wrongly convicted in the past.
TROY Perhaps she will find you a handsome and masculine attorney who, convinced of your innocence, will set you free in the eleventh hour.
CINDY I want to be set free in the first hour!
SOUND DOOR OPENS
TROOPER1 All right, you're free to go.
CINDY I ...am?
TROOPER1 Found them. They're fine.
CINDY But the blood?
TROOPER1 Minor accident with a drill. All cleared up now.
CINDY So I can - go? Go back to my writing?
TROOPER1 [up close and personal] From the state of you, you need a long hot soak in a scented tub, with candles, and maybe a hot oil massage.
CINDY [breathless, hopeful] Really?
TROOPER1 [flippant] That’s what your agent suggested, anyway. We can get you to a nice hotel where you can--
CINDY No. I'm going to stay right here and finish my new book, and you can't stop me. [losing her edge] You can't stop me, can you?
TROOPER1 Do what you want. You'll be all alone - at least for the night. The crew should be back by mid-morning, though.
CINDY All the more reason to use my time wisely. Bye, now!
TROOPER1 Oh, and watch out for the ghost!
SCENE 15. THE HAUNTING
CINDY What time is it?
TROY Nearly 4 am. Long past the witching hour, now is truly the dead of night. The darkest hour just before dawn.
CINDY Dawn is at 6:43 a-m today.
TROY Ah! Then the darkest hour is yet to come.
CINDY Well, I'm a good 150 pages in, anyway.
TROY A night bird, perhaps?
SOUND SCREECH, LOUDER
TROY No, it's--
CINDY The ghost!
TROY Hide yourself! Cover your ears!
CINDY No! The only way to conquer this sort of phantasm--
CINDY [losing steam rapidly] Is to... face it down?
TROY You are so brave. And so beautiful.
CINDY Thank you. I needed that.
TROY Of course.
SOUND DOOR FLUNG OPEN
CINDY [Screams - much like she is falling, much like the squeak]
SCENE 16. FALSE ENDING ONE
CINDY [waking up noises, eep]
REGIA See. Told you she'd be fine. Cindy-- [trying not to laugh] The look on your face! It was priceless. Here, I caught it - see?
SOUND PHONE BEING OPENED, PICTURES SCROLLED THROUGH
CINDY What are you doing here? What happened?
MANDY I just won a bet, is what happened. Now you've got to make nice to every one of George's friends.
CINDY What do you mean? I still have time--
REGIA You've been dead to the world for over 10 hours, which brings your window of opportunity to a nice tidy close. Sorry about that, but you should learn to pace yourself.
CINDY But it's nearly completed - that MUST count for something!
REGIA This file on your laptop? The one that just repeats the same ten lines over and over. Very Stephen King, but not really marketable, sweetheart.
CINDY I didn’t! Let me see! Oh, god, what have I done?
MANDY Yes, that's one of them.
CINDY You rigged it, didn’t you?
REGIA What? Why would I do that?
CINDY The two of you - you were in it together, conspiring to make me ... to force me to lose!
REGIA [Laughing] Well, we did hire a couple of guys.
MANDY They were more than ready to help.
CINDY But why?
MANDY A single woman is an embarrassment. It's just a fact.
CINDY This is all just to convince me to find a man?
REGIA Pretty much.
CINDY Troy? Where are you--?
MANDY Troy's not real. You must realize that.
CINDY [Screams - much like she is falling]
SCENE 17. FALSE ENDING 2
SOUND TAPPING AWAY ON KEYS
CINDY [mutters] And she spent the rest of her days locked up in a padded cell, demanding that someone find Troy and get him to come and visit her. The end.
TROY Most excellent. You will surely win your bet.
CINDY [melodrama] Somehow, the bet is unimportant, now. I've really grown through writing this. I can see that my life will be different - better - if I let myself deal with people on a one to one basis. If I forge a meaningful relationship with a good man.
TROY Then you will no longer need me?
CINDY I will always need you, Troy!
TROY Oh, Cindy!
CINDY [Screams in ecstacy - still sound much like she is falling]
SCENE 18. THE ENDING
REGIA And that's how it ends. It's really--
REGIA A steaming heap of poo.
MANDY [very disappointed] Ohh.
REGIA It'll still sell millions.
MANDY But she worked so hard--
REGIA Yeah, yeah. And it has the huge advantage of being the last thing she wrote. Lucky we were able to recover anything from the laptop at all - since she took it with her when she made that leap off the lighthouse.
OLIVIA Now that you know how to find us, don't be a stranger - we have enough of those already...