Case Closed

INT. OFFICE. NIGHT.

The camera tracks in slowly past the mostly-drawn blinds of an office. It's late, and as the camera centers on the door, we see a sign:

RAYMOND DANFORTH — PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR

Inside, we continue to track in to find a middle-aged man, DANFORTH, standing at his window, looking out over the nighttime street. His coat is draped over his chair, and his tie is mostly undone. He looks worse for the wear...and the open bottle of Scotch on his desk and neat drink in his hand are further evidence to support the claim. He hears a rustle outside. It startles him, and he snaps his head toward his office door.

In one smooth motion, he sets down his drink and pulls his pistol from his desk drawer. So armed, he moves quickly and quietly toward the door, keeping a wary eye on the bottom for any shadows. He stands beside the door for a moment, then, not observing any movement, shifts to the other side and snatches open the door...

POV DANFORTH

A hallway, and nothing more.

Both directions sufficiently empty, DANFORTH quietly closes the door, double-checks the lock, and slides into his office chair. He returns to their rightful places the pistol (the desk drawer) and the glass of Scotch (his hand).

He pushes back from his desk a little, and side-eyes a drawer set into the left of his desk, a ways away from the Scotch.

He reaches a hand toward it, careful not to touch it, but hovering above it, as though something were radiating from it. Like a burner on a stove glowing red-hot. We hear an unnerving sound as his hand approaches. It's light enough to maybe be outside noise, but persistent, nonetheless. It grows in timbre as his hand reaches out, and changes no more when his palm ceases its approach.

THE OFFICE DOOR, FROM THE INSIDE

There is a sudden knock at the door. DANFORTH is engrossed enough in the drawer that it's far more startling to him than his heightened nerves would normally allow. He checks the clock on his desk.

CU DESK CLOCK FACE

Midnight, on the nose.

MED ON DANFORTH

DANFORTH
(slightly strained)

Yeah?

(regaining vocal control)

Who is it?

THE OFFICE DOOR, FROM THE INSIDE

A female voice slinks its way through the solid wood.

WOMAN
(from outside)

It's me, Mister Danforth. I am expected, aren't I?

DANFORTH rises and picks up his gun as he heads toward the door.

DANFORTH

You alone?

WOMAN
(from outside)

As I said I would be.

DANFORTH

What's the password?

WOMAN
(a slight pause)

Mr. Danforth, stop this foolishness right now, I demand--

DANFORTH
(insistent)

Lady, you want in, you cough up the password. Otherwise both my door and whoever's on the other side of it is gonna have six new keyholes to plug up.

WOMAN
(pause)

Very well. "Candied apple."

DANFORTH jams his gun into his belt and opens the door. There stands a vision in crimson. The light veil over her face can't hide its beauty, nor does it do anything to cover up the slash of bright red lips underneath. THE LADY MARGARET DE LA POER, in the flesh.

THE LADY DE LA POER

Well, wasn't that just the most fun. Now may I please come in, or would you enjoy threatening a paying client more?

DANFORTH motions her inside, takes another quick peek down the hallways, and closes the door again.

THE LADY DE LA POER makes her way over to the bar and promptly helps herself to a drink, sliding off her elbow-length gloves in the process. DANFORTH watches, bemused.

THE LADY DE LA POER

So, Mister Danforth. Do you have it?

DANFORTH returns to his seat behind his desk. He glances at the drawer, careful to make sure THE LADY DE LA POER doesn't see.

DANFORTH
(evenly)

Yes, I have it.

THE LADY DE LA POER turns to him, two finished drinks in her hands and a wide smile on her face.

THE LADY DE LA POER

Well then! And by Walpurgis Night, to boot. Join me in a little celebration...although, it looks like the party started without me.

DANFORTH is stone-faced, but accepts the drink anyway. Because alcohol. Doesn't drink it yet, though. The lady starts in on hers.

THE LADY DE LA POER

Well, what's the matter, dear? I would expect a warmer reception for what I'm sure has to be the biggest payday you've ever seen.

DANFORTH takes a deep breath, and just stares at the woman.

THE LADY DE LA POER

Mister Danforth, it is very late at night and I really must be on my way. You assured me that you would have my item, and I assured you that I would have your payment, and we were both so very assured. So tell me, Mister Danforth...

She leans in, eyes daring him to answer in the negative.

THE LADY DE LA POER

Do you have the book?

DANFORTH stares, then leans in as well.

DANFORTH

Yeah. I found it. But what I had to do to get it...

DANFORTH trails off. His eyes defocus from the woman sitting in front of him and his voice becomes faded, dreamlike.

DANFORTH

You said the book was important to a lot of people. That wasn't entirely truthful, was it, Ms. de la Poer? It's important alright, but not just to people. To...

He swallows hard.

…to things.

CU VARIOUS ITEMS IN THE OFFICE: GUN, CLOCK, DRAWER, BLINDS AS DANFORTH RECOUNTS HIS STORY

DANFORTH

I found the nobody who stole it from you...but he didn't have it anymore. There wasn't much of a him anymore to have it.

CU BLOOD ON A STREET

DANFORTH

Some kind of cult had taken it from him. They planned to use it...to wrench something outta the hell it calls home, and bring it into our world.

GUNSHOTS from the past echo in DANFORTH's mind. His eyes dart around, his voice becomes more tremulous.

DANFORTH

The power...the power these things have...and they're everywhere. They're all around us. You never know...where they are. Who they are. What they are.

THE LADY DE LA POER bangs her empty glass down onto the desk, breaking his reverie.

THE LADY DE LA POER

MISTER DANFORTH. Where. Is. My. Book?

DANFORTH regains himself. Straightens his half-undone tie. Stares at the woman for a moment, then nods.

DANFORTH

I have it.

He reaches into a drawer on his right. From it, he withdraws a largish parcel, rectangular, about four inches high, wrapped neatly in heavy brown paper and tied with scratchy brown twine. It's marred only by some dark spots on the paper. Whiskey? Blood? Both?

The LADY DE LA POER's eyes are saucers of excitement. She reaches eagerly for the parcel.

DANFORTH

NO!

He slams his hand down on the book and pulls it back toward himself, wrapping his arms around. He looks down, shocked at himself. DE LA POER's face reflects his own.

THE LADY DE LA POER

Mister Danforth, what is this?

DANFORTH looks pained, demons in his head. Keeping them in or keeping them out. Lightly, we hear voices, formless, sibilant, inhuman, as rage and confusion play across the LADY DE LA POER's face.

DANFORTH
(panic rising)

I can't...I don't...you don't know what this thing is. What it can do! Leave, now, get out and forget you ever saw this damned thing! You haven't seen it! You haven't seen the multi-lobed eye and the beast with no mouth that screams to be born! You haven't felt it touch you, burn you, sting you, scar you!

The LADY DE LA POER rises, slowly and deliberately. The sounds intensify.

THE LADY DE LA POER

Mister Danforth...I assure you that I do know what this book can do. That's why I want it. That's why I need it. And that's why you found it for me. Now either you take your payment and I'll take my book...

She raises her right hand, and we see she's got a pistol in it, aimed squarely at the detective's head.

THE LADY DE LA POER

...or I'll just take my book.

The sight of the gun seems to bring DANFORTH to his senses. The hissing sounds fade.

DANFORTH
(quietly)

Okay...alright.

He walks hesitantly around the desk, book still clutched tightly.

DANFORTH

What...what are you going to do with it?

The LADY DE LA POER extends her open hand for the book.

THE LADY DE LA POER

That, Mister Danforth, is family business.

As soon as he places the book in her hand, a subtle change comes over DANFORTH. Pistol still in hand, DE LA POER scrapes her nails across the paper, revealing...a large dictionary. Her ruby lips contort into a snarl.

THE LADY DE LA POER
(furious)

WHAT IS THIS?

DANFORTH seems clearer, even unconcerned that the enraged woman with a gun has it pointed at him.

DANFORTH
(eerily calm)

The thing is, Mrs. de la Poer...I got a better offer. Money's nothing compared to Them.

DANFORTH begins walking toward DE LA POER, serenely. He slides a large knife out of his pocket.

DE LA POER fires. The shot sinks into its target...

And he's unfazed. She fires another, and another. Holes open up on DANFORTH's chest.

Still, he approaches.

DANFORTH

They offered me life. They offered me protection. They offered me...witness to their wonder.

In a flash, DANFORTH is upon her with the knife, knocking her to the floor. The decoy book and gun go flying. He straddles her, knife raised high.

DANFORTH
(shouting)

And for their glory, all they asked...

The LADY DE LA POER screams.

DANFORTH

...is blood!

DANFORTH brings the knife down and the LADY DE LA POER's screams fall with it.

CU CRIMSON BLOOD POOLING ON THE FLOOR

The same shade as the LADY DE LA POER's dress. Lipstick, too.

TRACKING SHOT OUT; REVERSE OF THE OPENING SHOT

DANFORTH relaxes, raising his head and arms in praise. We hear DANFORTH muttering as the camera retreats from the scene.

DANFORTH
(quietly)

Ever Their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods.
Ever Their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods.
Ever Their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods...
Ia, ia, Shub Niggurath!

© 2018 Matthew Golden. All Rights Reserved.