April 24, 2017

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Let the Adventures Begin!

EXT. HOSPITAL 
Reva hugs Philip and Susana before grabbing her bag and heading inside. 

Susana waves to her husband, who awaits Reva at the doors of the hospital, and directs Philip back into her car. 

INT. HOSPITAL LAB 

Kumar leads Reva into the lab where Moss hands her a hospital gown and Fowler ushers her into a nearby bathroom. 

While they wait, Fowler straightens the sheets on the bed once more. Belrose and Kumar check the machine one final time. 

Upon Reva’s exit from the bathroom, Moss takes the bag from Reva to stash it away. 

Fowler leads Reva by the elbow to the bed, where she hands her a clipboard full of paperwork. She points to a few spaces.

FOWLER 

Sign, please. 

Reva takes the pen and signs, finishing just as Fowler removes the clipboard. Fowler bustles to the other side of the room to hand it off. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Hook her in, Belrose! 

Snapping to his task, Belrose eases Reva baking against the pillows before he drags each wire and places it in the exact position required.

BELROSE 

Excuse the cold hands. 

Moss moves in to connect Reva to an IV. 

Fowler stalks back over, planting herself beside Reva’s bed, arms crossed over her chest. 

FOWLER

I assume you understand how this works. 

Off Reva’s nod. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Once we get you hooked up–

Belrose and Moss look up from their tasks, to Fowler, to each other, before returning to their duties at a faster pace. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

We’ll start the procedure. Last chance to listen to your mother.

 Reva stares up into Fowler’s eyes, a challenge sparkling in her own. 

Fowler huffs and turns her back on Reva to face Kumar. 

FOWLER (cont’d) 

Stubborn girl. I like her. 

KUMAR 

She takes after her mother in that. 

But Fowler has already moved on. 

MOSS 

Done! 

BELROSE 

Done! 

FOWLER 

Excellent.   

Fowler injects the drug which will induce a coma. 

FOWLER 

Nighty night, Sleeping Beauty.

***

Prompt: Another excerpt from The Aurora Project. Hopefully, I won’t give too much away. The first act was just pretty self explanatory. The second act should get more into the fun part of thestory, the more or less unexpected part. 

April 23, 2017

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Familial Confrontation

INT HOSPITAL ROOM – AFTERNOON

Staring up at the ceiling, Reva lies on her bed. Her food tray sits untouched. In her hand, a crumpled picture: she and Jacob on one of their first dates. Her fist closes around it.

The door opens and Philip runs in, jumping up onto the bed beside his mom, his joy returned a hundredfold. Taken aback, Reva hugs him, overwhelmed. 

PHILIP

You’re okay!

He pulls away from her, looking her straight in the eyes

PHILIP

You scared me, Mom.

Reva brushes over it, ruffling his hair and plastering a smile on her face which fades as she sees her mother and father standing in the door, waiting for her attention.

Dev lifts his hand in a timid wave, which Reva returns.

Susana, having received her signal, pushes past her husband and perches on the chair near Reva’s bed. She folds her hands in her lap, all business.

REVA

There’s no need to lecture me.

SUSANA

I wasn’t going to lecture you, Honey.

Reva’s eyes burn into her mother’s skin, Susana shifting under their gaze. 

REVA

Mom, lectures are kinda your thing. You’ve given me the same one over and over again.

(Hesitant)

But I understand what you mean. 

Susana glances from Reva to Dev, unsure if she heard correctly. Dev sets a hand on Susana’s shoulder, squeezing comfort, assurance, into her.

SUSANA

Well, that–

Noticing Reva tensing, Dev squeezes Susana’s shoulder again, a warning.

SUSANA

–is good to hear, Sweetie.

REVA

It doesn’t mean I’m going to do it your way, Mom.
SUSANA

I wouldn’t expect anything different.

REVA

I’m going to do it my way in my time. I don’t want you interfering in this. 
KUMAR

I promise I’ll hold her back if she gets antsy.

Reva nods, a little smile flitting across her face, but her tension doesn’t ease.

REVA 

Thanks, Dad.

(Pause)

It’s good to see you. I hear things have been busy at work.

Dev chuckles. 

KUMAR

Audra won’t let things slow down. Never has.
REVA

Mom said that you were working on a new machine.

Dev stays silent for a moment, glancing down at the ground.

KUMAR

Maggie and Chase finished putting it together just before…

Reva interrupts him before he goes too far.

REVA

So progress. That’s good.

(A beat. A breath.)

How long can you stay?

KUMAR

Not long. I’m sorry, Reeves.

Reva’s face falls as she nods, pushing her disappoint away. 

REVA

No, no, I understand. This project is important.

KUMAR

It could help a lot of people, Reeves.

REVA

It’s a big accomplishment, Dad. I know how much it means to you. 

Dev nods, stays quiet. His heart aches with how much he wishes he could stay. He slips his hands into his pockets and his face brightens.

He pulls out his wallet, opens it, and pulls out something. A picture: a much younger version of himself with a three-year-old Reva on his lap, laughing her heart out. With a smile, he shows it to Reva. 

KUMAR

I’ve carried this picture around with me since it was taken. 

Reva takes the picture, her hands shaking as she holds it almost reverently.

KUMAR

It reminds me why I do what I do, Reeves. That little girl in the picture… She’s counting on me and I can’t let her down. 

Reva hands the picture back to him. 

KUMAR

Keep it. You need the reminder now more than I do. 

Dev reaches out and closes his daughter’s fingers around the picture, holding her hand between his. 

KUMAR

If I can do anything to help people who are hurting, I will, and right now, my little girl is one of them. You’re the real reason I’m so focussed, Reeves.
REVA

Dad…

Reva reaches up and pulls her dad into a hug, her chin resting on his shoulder.

KUMAR

Listen to your mother, Reva. She loves you as much as I do. She just wants what’s best for you. 

Speechless, Reva nods as her dad pulls out of her grasp. He squeezes her hand once more. 

KUMAR

If you ever need me, I’m right there.

With a quick kiss on the top of her head, Dev leaves, not turning back for fear he will stay longer.

Silence. Susana stays for a moment longer before standing. 

SUSANA

I don’t want to impose.

Philip grabs her hand.

PHILIP

Don’t go, Grandma! If you go, that means I have to go. 

Susana looks to Reva. Reva glances down at the picture in her hand of her and her dad. Without lifting her head, she nods.

Susana sits back down, a smile playing at her lips. 

INT. HOSPITAL LAB – A LITTLE LATER

Kumar enters the lab, spotting Fowler and the younger two gathered around the computer screen. He clears his throat before joining them. 

KUMAR

Is this the list of potential candidates?
FOWLER

Yes.

MOSS

Doctor Kumar, is it true about your daughter?

Belrose elbows her in the stomach in an attempt to shut her up.

With a glare in Belrose’s direction, she takes the mouse from Fowler and highlights one particular name on the screen: Reva Novak. 

MOSS

Is she doing okay? I didn’t think things were this bad.

Kumar stares at the name on the screen.

KUMAR

Take her off the list.

MOSS

But, Doctor Kumar, she’s the perfect– 
KUMAR

I said, take her off the list.

Moss shrinks back from Kumar, a look of surprise on her face as she nods the tiniest of nods. 

KUMAR

It’s too risky. And she probably wouldn’t even say yes.

Fowler presses the delete button and Reva’s name disappears from the screen.

* * *

Prompt: Another excerpt from ”The Aurora Project.” Since that’s what I’m currently working on. 

April 22, 2017

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The Beginning 

Casey Aitken stared up at the buildings in front of her, excitement as thick as the summer heat coursing through her veins. She gripped her bags, her knuckles white on the straps. A bounce in her every step, she glanced at her sister, Meg. For the past two or three years, Meg had attended central, spending her lime divided between the social scene and minimal effort in her studies. The sight of her enthusiastic baby sister bobbing through the campus amused her.

”I can’t believe I’m actually here!” Casey said, her voice more controlled than Meg had expected. The younger girl looked around. The buildings stood low on the ground, short and squat. They didn’t sing of elegance, money, and overabundant intelligence, like those of older colleges. They didn’t warn of evildoers or reak of poverty. The buildings of Central instead stood with arms wide open, offering a warm welcome to students of all varieties. They smiled on each new face that stepped onto their grounds. Central accepted everyone with the same warmth of a grandmother greeting her long-Iost grandchildren, for that was how central saw its students: long-lost children in need of schooling.

Or at least, Casey saw Central in that light. Many others saw a different, darker side to Central, her sister included. These students saw in their university a pal, a drinking buddy, a comrade in alcoholic arms. To them, their university helped to cultivate the culture they demanded, a culture rampant with behaviors once called immoral now called fun, because the university, helpless to stop it, turned a blind eye and allowed it to grow and flourish.

Casey hadn’t come for that version of Central. She wanted the grandmother. The university that would teach her and help her to grow and flourish as a person. Because of these ideals, Casey had convinced herself that the other side of the school, the part hiding (not so well) among the shadows, existed nowhere but in myth and legend. She refused to believe otherwise.

Until she met Jared Pfaff, prince of the dark underworld of Central. From the first moment she saw Jared, the young man charmed her. That came as no surprise to anyone on campus. Jared charmed anyone he met, male and female alike. Many a freshman fell prey to Pfaff and his apparent magnetism. Year after year, from his first semester at Central, Jared left a trail of tears and a path of broken hearts in his wake. Jared Pfaff destroyed more lives than any number of natural disasters, but his charm, no matter how many warnings against it they received, always drew in the kindest, most conservative and romantic young women on campus. His charms didn’t fail on Casey, perhaps the most idealistic young woman of them all, just as Meg had predicted.

“Don’t let Pfaff run away with anything, Case,” Meg warned. “He’s known for hurting girls like you.”

Casey’s friend Ian Martz, a young man she had met while on an orientation tour, joined Meg in her protests. Ian worried for Casey’s well-being. A kindred spirit, Casey Aitken had become his friend before he could say his own name backwards. She made him laugh, a side not everyone knew existed in academic young lady. Her smile never failed to bring one to his face. Every minute he spent with her felt more worthy of his time than even his studies, on most days. Lucky for him, most of the time he spent with her, they spent studying.

Ian would rather die than see the lovely girl he cared so much for get hurt. He told her so, though not in as many words. “Casey, please,” he begged. ”Everyone has heard of Jared Pfaff. He’s bad news.”

Casey simply couldn’t see it. How could she? Their first meeting was, after all, straight out of a story book.

Her nose stuck in a book, as an bookish freshmen tend to do, Casey almost walked right past Jared Pfaff. If only, if only! As she walked by him, she spotted him doing what his sort do best: preying on unsuspecting young freshmen. When one particularly shy young girl tripped as she passed, her nerves getting the best of her, Casey witnessed Jared lean down and help the poor thing to her feet. He even gathered her books, replacing them in her bag. A moment of redemption for the resident Prince of Darkness! If only our dear, sweet Miss Aitken could peer into the soul of this man, she would see his true colors and the blackness of his heart.

***

Prompt: Write about characters in a story pre-developed. Revisiting the Aitken sisters and Elegance & Idiocy!

April 21, 2017 (A Day Late) 

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Defenses Up

They’re ignoring you again, her brain said. 

She stood in a circle with her friends, her closest on her right, standing perhaps too close for the comfort of her friend. She didn’t mind it. The closeness comforted her, let her know that she did indeed exist, with every little brush against her friend’s arm or every little shift of the air as her friend shifted from foot to foot. 

They don’t even see you anymore, her brain said. 

She looked around at her friends, their smiling faces and their laughter inundating her senses, filling her heart. The friend on her right brushed against her as they laughed. It filled her with the warmth of love and affection. 

Yet still her brain protested. They haven’t spoken to you or acknowledged you in years! it said, despite the greeting she had received just minutes earlier when she joined them in their circle.  

True, she noted, that since then, her friends hadn’t spoken a word to her. Their conversation bounced from topic to topic: Star wars to philosophy to marriage to the future. No one minded much. Most had things to say on every subject, but she stayed quiet. She might say the wrong thing. She might sound ignorant. She might deserve ridiculing laughter. Too much was at stake, her dignity above all, to raise up her voice and speak.  

They don’t care about you, her brain said. 

She could feel it in her bones. The prickling underneath her skin. The heaviness weighing on her shoulders. The blank blackness covering her mind. The chasm that seemed to form between them. They started to drift away! Their voices sounded further. She could no longer shift from right to left and feel the brush of her friend’s shirt against her skin. They started to fade! 

They’re leaving you, her brain said. 

And indeed, they had begun to walk away, mouths moving but as silent as the old films. Her closest friend brushed past, but the contact felt like nothing. No warmth passed between them. The affection had died. 

Panicing, she reached out and grabbed her friend’s hand, her fingers enclosing it in a firm grasp. “Don’t leave me alone,” she whispered, the words out of her moth before she even knew the desire to speak them. Her grasp tightened, drawing her friend in closer. Fighting back tears, a losing battle, she whispered the words again. “Don’t leave me alone.”

Arms embraced her, pulling her in with a squeeze. Her senses opened up again, warmth flooding through her veins as her skin made contact with her friend. “Never,” her friend responded, voice lower than a whisper, affectionate and intimate. “Never.”

***

Prompt: Inspired by a conversation I had about defense mechanisms. 

Acting and Writing: More Compatible than Many May Believe 

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Every time I mention that I’m in college to someone I ever just met, they inevitably ask the most common follow-up question: “What’s your major?” 

This question requires me to explain: “I’m a double emphasis, studying acting and screenwriting.” 

It doesn’t normally draw a vocal comment other than the generic ones that everyone receives: “That’s cool.” “Sounds fun.” “Interesting.” Or perhaps yet another follow-up question: “How’s that going?” “Do you like it?” “How busy does it keep you?” 

However, despite the lack of interested responses, most people would not pair acting and writing in one person. On the one hand, the stereotypical actors: outgoing, extroverted, goofy. On the other, the stereotypical writers: withdrawn, introverted, serious. Those two trait sets do not easily mix; they are, after all, exact opposites. Because of these stereotypes, one wouldn’t think, “You know what would be great? An actor-writer!” 

Said statement isn’t wrong, however. 

If there is one thing that both acting and writing have in common, it’s their search for the truth. Ask any (good) acting teacher and they’ll tell you that acting is about the truth of the moment. Stanislavski and his method are really all about that. Ask any (good) writing teacher and they’ll tell you similarly, that writing is about the truth of the characters’ actions, feelings, reactions. Read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and he’ll tell you exactly that. 

As an actor-writer myself, I can attest to the compatibility of these two fields. Both require a deep understanding of human nature in order to convey the truth to an audience. One simply does it visually, the other verbally. Combining the two leads to a greater understanding. Acting allows a writer insight into the inner workings of humanity. Writing allows an actor insight into the complexity of relationships and actions. Together, the actor-writer has a deeper, fuller, more well-rounded understanding of human nature. 

Not all actors are outgoing, extroverted, goofy, just as not all writers are withdrawn, introverted, serious. Not all people fall into one category other than “human.” Not all people in one group fall into one category other than the grouping itself: “soccer team,” “class,” “family.” Each of us is more complex than the most intricate machine, no matter how many gears, gags, and whirligigs make it what it is. 

That’s part of what makes humanity so interesting. We are all complex. We are all interesting. We are all unique. Some people can act. Good on them. Some people can write. Good on them. Some can do math or science or engineering. Good on them. We all have different talents, skills, capabilities. We have to learn to appreciate the ones we have, accept the ones we don’t have, and work together with the ones whose strengths complete our weaknesses. 

April 20, 2017

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Running Out of Time

Panting, she turned the corner to find herself face to face with the menacing wall, its dark brick scowling at her in the pale moonlight. She looked up: the stars laughed at her from above. She looked down: the path refused to direct her where she desired. She looked left: silence sat in darkness, trapping her. She looked right:

And saw him. 

His figure, blackened in the shadows, sauntered up to her, a low chuckle echoing from his chest. His face never broke through the darkness, content to hide in the shadows where he knew he belonged. “You’re running out of time, dearie,” he said. An echo reverberated around them, a faint sound resting in her ears, his words, his steps, his movement. The silence dropped away, creating a vacuum, a hole in the universe where nothing, not even sound, not even light, existed. 

A scream caught in her throat as he planted himself in front of her. A chill ran through her, every inch of her body covered in goose bumps. His breath spilled into her face, the heavy odor hanging in the air. She tensed, feeling his fingers clasp around her wrist. Not a muscle moved. 

“You’re running out of tome, dearie.” Another morbid reminder of what came next. If there even was a next to come. Perhaps she would never know. 

***

Prompt: I keep thinking about how terrible I am at getting my stories written on time. That was my prompt. I’ll try to do better at setting time aside to do that.