Footprints: An Online Soap -- Episode #22

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Episode #22
The Day After #21

All is silent in the jungle. Warm sun shines through the trees. The focus slides across the scene, finally resting upon the trunk of a tree. As the view moves down the trunk, it can be seen that TIM and CLAIRE are resting beneath it, his arms around her. Shortly Claire awakens.
CLAIRE: (groggy) Tim, wake up.
TIM: Oh. Good mornin’, beautiful.
CLAIRE: Right back at cha, hon. (beat) Ready to do some more gallavanting around the jungle?
TIM: Just gimme a sec to wake up.
He yawns and stretches. Claire jumps to her feet.
CLAIRE: You do realize how incredibly insane this is?
TIM: It was your idea.
CLAIRE: Well, after we got that clue and gave it to the police, it was obvious they weren’t gonna do anything about it. I had to do something -- anything -- to find our son.
TIM: I agree completely.
CLAIRE: I just hope my hunch was right about my father being down here.
JAMES enters the nursery, appearing well-rested. TRAVIS is in the bassinet, making playful sounds. James approaches his grandson.
JAMES: Travis, you don’t realize what a favor I’m doing you. I can raise you so much better than your mother and that moron Tim. (long beat) I can’t believe it -- my own daughter betraying me like that! But now ... now I can raise you as my own, raise you to take my place. No one will be able to interfere with my plans -- no one!
SARAH enters the empty office, picks up the phone, and dials. A single ring is heard before a click.
CRAIG (OS): Hello?
SARAH: Oh, hi, Craig. It’s Sarah.
CRAIG: Sarah! Hi! What’s up?
SARAH: I was wondering if Molly was around.
CRAIG: Actually, she’s not. She ran out to the store.
SARAH: Alone?
CRAIG: She’ll be fine. It’s the middle of the day. Besides, I thought you guys arrested Dr. Smith for being the stalker. There shouldn’t be anything else to worry about, right?
SARAH: Actually, that’s what I called about. You and Molly need to be very careful.
SARAH: We’ve released Dr. Smith from jail, Craig.
Out on CRAIG, appearing very worried.
A man in his late 20’s, BRIAN, sits in the cubicle working. DIANE peeks her head in.
DIANE: (cheerfully) Hey, did you schedule that meeting with Ed Brooks for me?
BRIAN: It’s taken care of. (beat) Why are you so happy?
DIANE: Just celebrating a victory of sorts.
BRIAN: What’d you do?
DIANE: I’ll tell you, Brian, but you’ve gotta keep quiet.
BRIAN: Fine by me.
DIANE: Okay? You know Tim Fisher? He works in my department.
Brian responds with an affirmative nod.
DIANE (CONT’D): Anyway, his wife just had a baby. But he was kidnapped from the hospital that same night!
BRIAN: Their baby was kidnapped?
DIANE: Yep. So her dad is the prime suspect, because he’s one of those mob guys ... oh, and he had ordered a hit on Tim. Anyway, no one could find James -- that’s her dad -- or the baby. That’s where my genius comes in!
BRIAN: How’d you help?
DIANE: I called James on his cell phone and ordered him to tell me.
BRIAN: And he told you? I find that a little difficult to believe ...
DIANE: No, stupid! He was telling me to bug off when I heard him talking to one of his minions in the background. That gave me enough clues to basically figure out where they are.
BRIAN: Which is where?
DIANE: I’m not exactly sure, but some jungle. I got a couple more clues from it, and then, so Tim wouldn’t know that I’d been in touch with James, I faxed him the clues from one of those stores that lets you fax stuff. Worked like a charm.
BRIAN: Did the cops use that to find the guy?
DIANE: No. Actually, Tim didn’t come in today, so I checked with his building, and neither of them were home yesterday. I think they went off to find her dad!
BRIAN: Interesting story, Diane. I don’t know whether to commend you on a job well done or tell you to lay off the booze.
Diane raises her eyebrows at him in response to the crack.
BRIAN (CONT’D): But, there are a few things that leave me wondering.
DIANE: Like what?
BRIAN: Like, it sounds like you’d been in touch with James before. Why? And why would you not want Tim to know you’d had contact with James, even if it was only to help find the baby?
Birds can now be heard in the jungle. The sun shines down heavily and the air is obviously humid. TIM and CLAIRE walk onscreen and stop, hauling backpacks.
TIM: What exactly are we looking for?
CLAIRE: To tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure. But my father isn’t one to hole up in a cave somewhere; I’m sure he has a fortress down here, or at least a cabin. And I’d be surprised if he didn’t have an entourage with him.
TIM: That’s a good point. It shouldn’t be difficult to spot a good-sized building out here.
CLAIRE: You never know. There are so many twisting, turning paths that it could be well-hidden.
TIM: Yeah, but it should still be pretty noticeable.
CLAIRE: I agree completely.
She pulls out a bottle of water and takes a drink.
CLAIRE (CONT’D): Want some?
TIM: No, I’m fine. Are you ready to keep going?
CLAIRE: Ready as I’ll ever be.
They continue walking and venture out of the frame.
CRAIG: What do you mean, Dr. Smith was released? How could you guys do this?
SARAH: We didn’t have enough evidence to press charges or hold him here.
CRAIG: He was caught beating down our door with a club! How much more proof do you need?
SARAH: It’s not just that, Craig -- his story seems to check out from all possible angles, and there was another incident while he was in custody.
CRAIG: Well, what if everyone’s lying about his story? Or what if he lied to them to begin with? And what if it was just some imitator that set that scene up while he was in prison? Maybe it was a ploy to get him out!
SARAH: Calm down, Craig ... besides, he passed the polygraph with flying colors!
CRAIG: Well, hooray for him! Maybe he’s just a good liar!
SARAH: We had no grounds to hold him.
CRAIG: What about Molly? Her life is on the line here!
SARAH: That’s why we’re offering ‘round-the-clock protection for her. That’s all we can do. (beat) But if there’s anymore incriminating evidence against Dr. Smith, we’ll pick him up again.
CRAIG: Fine ... I just hope it isn’t too late by then.
SARAH: (muttering) Well, it’s not like she doesn’t deserve any of it.
CRAIG: What’d you say, Sarah?
CRAIG: What did you say, Sarah?
SARAH: Nothing.
CRAIG: No, you said something. It sounded like, "It’s not like she doesn’t deserve it" or something.
SARAH: Oh, that -- all I meant was that Molly is always trying to help people, doing things for people she doesn’t know. She’s too friendly -- maybe some crazy person happened to misconstrue that as romantic interest and started going after her like this.
CRAIG: Okay. Anyway, thanks for calling, I guess. I’ll tell Molly about everything.
SARAH: Sure. Our offer for protection stands.
CRAIG: I’ll talk to her about it. Bye.
SARAH hangs up the phone and appears relieved.
SARAH: (sotto voce) Sarah, you’ve got to be careful! Don’t say things like that ... besides, Molly doesn’t deserve to be stalked. No one does. And what happened with her & Brent that night probably wasn’t intentional. As long as they keep a safe distance from each other, everything should be fine. Besides, she’s engaged to Craig now.
An exhausted TIM and CLAIRE enter into the scene and drop their backpacks. They sit down under a tree to rest.
CLAIRE: I am exhausted!
TIM: This is crazy ... but it’s all we can do to find the baby.
CLAIRE: I hope I picked the right jungle!
TIM: So do I ...
CLAIRE: It makes sense, though. My dad always seemed to be really interested in this place. It fits the description we got perfectly. And it’s just like him to do something like this. I used to search through his stuff all the time; he had so many places to hide out! I’m sure one of them is down here!
TIM: I’m sure we’ll find him, Claire. Then we can get back to King’s Bay with Travis and resume living normally.
CLAIRE: That would be a relief, wouldn’t it?
BRIAN offers DIANE a curious stare, awaiting an answer to his question.
BRIAN: So, why had you had contact with James before?
DIANE: I, uh ... actually, it’s kind of embarrassing. (beat) He confronted me and threatened me, saying that he thought I was trying to break up Tim and Claire.
BRIAN: He just thought this? Or were you up to something?
Diane throws her arms up in defeat.
DIANE: Okay, you got me! That’s exactly what I was trying to do.
BRIAN: So do you mean to tell me that’s why you helped them find the baby, out of guilt?
DIANE: No ... not really ... kind of, I guess. You see, it was my fault that James found out that he was a suspect in Tim’s shooting. I called him, thinking he’d come over and start a fight between them, and Claire would take her dad’s side and Tim would need comforting. But things got really screwed up.
BRIAN: Tell me about it.
DIANE: Now, you cannot tell anyone about any of this, okay?
BRIAN: I swear I won’t.
Diane considers something for a moment.
DIANE: Hey, I’ve got an idea!
BRIAN: Uh-oh.
DIANE: Why don’t you help me? I still haven’t given up on him!
BRIAN: What is this gonna involve?
DIANE: I don’t know ... but whatta you say?
BRIAN: Sure, I guess. I have nothing better to do. As long as it won’t involve getting any more kids kidnapped.
DIANE: Of course not. But I definitely have a great idea ...
CRAIG sits on the couch, watching television. He does this very distractedly, as if something is bothering him. The front door opens. Enter MOLLY, carrying grocery bags.
MOLLY: Hey! I’m back.
CRAIG: Oh! Everything go okay?
MOLLY: Yeah, everything’s fine.
Craig gets up and takes the bags from her.
MOLLY: Thanks.
She hangs up her coat.
MOLLY (CONT’D): Is something the matter?
CRAIG: Actually, yeah.
MOLLY: What is it?
CRAIG: Hold on. I’ll be right back.
He heads towards the kitchen carrying the groceries.
MOLLY (THINKING): Oh, no ... what now? Haven’t I had enough trouble lately?
Craig reenters the room, sans groceries.
MOLLY: So what’s wrong?
CRAIG: Sarah called.
MOLLY: And...?
CRAIG: Dr. Smith was released from prison.
Molly gives him a look of sheer terror.
Savage Garden’s "Truly, Madly, Deeply" begins to play.
TIM and CLAIRE sit by the base of a tree, eating.
TIM: I know this probably sounds strange, but in a weird way this is really great.
CLAIRE: I know exactly what you mean. It’s nice being able to do something like this together, even if we are searching for our kidnapped son.
TIM: I’m sure we’ll find him.
CLAIRE: And I know that my dad wouldn’t harm him. I bet he’s planning to keep him stashed away down here for a few years, then he’ll send him off to boarding school for a while, and
once he comes back he can take over for my dad in all these business ventures and stuff.
TIM: You think so?
CLAIRE: I know so. I know my father too well to consider it a possibility that he’d harm Travis. He loves me too much, even after what happened, I’m sure; he’d never hurt my son. Instead, he figures he can get revenge by molding Travis into what I could’ve become.
TIM: I see.
CLAIRE: My father is a very sophisticated man, but he’s also very intelligent. All of the mob dealings he’s been involved with before have been with strangers -- he had no remorse, and he could easily cover his tracks. But I know with this, the importance of family to him is what’ll make him slip up.
TIM: Let’s just hope he does it soon.
CLAIRE: Hopefully we’ll find them first and he won’t even need to.
She snuggles closer to Tim.
CLAIRE (CONT’D): I love you so much. I can’t wait until it’s just the three of us -- you, me, and Travis -- back together at home, one big happy family.
TIM: I love you too.
He kisses her on the forehead.
JAMES peruses a book as he stands by one of several towering bookshelves that surround the room. Though the door is ajar, a knock is heard on it before his henchman ALAN enters the room. James replaces the book on the shelf.
JAMES: Is everything alright, Alan?
ALAN: Everything’s fine. Actually, several of the guards  just wanted to know how much longer we’d be down here.
JAMES: I honestly can’t tell you. I’d like to stay down here until the police search for both the baby and I has been exhausted. Then I figure I can return to one of my hideouts in Europe without much trouble.
ALAN: Sounds like a good plan. What should I tell the guards then?
JAMES: Tell them that we will be finished down here when I am ready, okay? And if they even think of trying to escape, they will be found and pay the price for their betrayal!
ALAN: Works for me. (beat) I gotta tell you, boss, this was a brilliant idea, to hide out in the jungle. No one could ever find us.
JAMES: That’s what I’m hoping, Alan. That’s what I’m hoping.
MOLLY stands by the door, looking deeply troubled. CRAIG stands nearby.
MOLLY: How could they release him?!? He’s trying to kill me!
CRAIG: That’s what I told them, Molly. But Sarah said that there wasn’t enough evidence to hold him, especially after he passed the polygraph exam.
MOLLY: He came here to attack me! What could be better proof?
CRAIG: Apparently his little story about coming to tell you about Tim and Claire checked out. (long beat) Listen, Sarah said they were willing to give you 24-hour protection. I said I’d consult you about it. What do you think?
MOLLY: I think they should haul his crazy ass back to jail right now! I’m sick of living in fear!
CRAIG: We’ve gotta be careful, Molly. Personally, I think he’s behind all this, but you never know. It couldn’t hurt to be extra careful. So, should we accept their offer for the protection?
MOLLY: Of course! I just don’t understand how they could do this to me!
Craig moves closer, putting his arms around her and pulling her in.
CRAIG: Listen, we can get through this. There’s one thing that’ll get us through, and it’s this.
He points to the engagement ring on her finger.
CRAIG (CONT’D): This means that we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us. Together. No matter what, we will have all eternity, just the two of us. It’s our love that’ll pull us through all of this. You got that?
Molly, now lightly sobbing, nods her head.
CRAIG (CONT’D): Nothing can come between us, Molly. Nothing can break the bond we share. Nothing. (long beat) I love you, Molly.
MOLLY: (through tears) I love you too, Craig.
BRENT stands by the file cabinet, looking over a file, when the door opens and SARAH enters the room. He puts the file down on his desk and turns his attention towards her.
BRENT: Hello, my dear. How goes it?
SARAH: Not so well. I called Molly.
BRENT: How’d she take it?
SARAH: Actually, I didn’t talk to her; I spoke to Craig.
BRENT: Then how’d he take it?
SARAH: Not well at all. He was ready to bite my head off over it. He’s getting worse than her.
BRENT: Go easy on her, Sarah. After all, she’s under a lot of stress and has a lot to be worried about.
SARAH: Yeah, I know. It’s not that I don’t love my sister or anything. But we’ve always had a little bit of a rivalry, you know?
BRENT: I understand. Same with me and my brother Max.
SARAH: I guess it’s natural, but I can’t help feeling guilty every time I snap at her or something -- even when she does really deserve it.
BRENT: Then you really do love her. That should make you feel better.
SARAH: I guess you’re right.
He kisses her.
BRENT: You know what?
SARAH: What?
BRENT: I’m gonna go ahead and make dinner reservations for tonight. We can leave a little early and go home to get all decked out for it.
SARAH: Sounds great! What’s the occasion?
BRENT: The actual occasion is tomorrow ... but I figure you need some cheering up now.
SARAH: So what is it?
BRENT: Our three-month wedding anniversary.
SARAH: That’s right! I wasn’t even thinking!
BRENT: Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got some business to take care of, okay?
SARAH: No problem. See ya later.
BRENT: I love you.
SARAH: I love you too. Bye.
Brent leaves the office, closing the door behind him. Sarah takes a deep breath, looking pleased.
SARAH: (sotto voce) He really does love me! I don’t need to worry about Molly ... whatever happened between them has got to be over. I won!
BRIAN stands at the copy machine, waiting for it to finish printing. The room is otherwise empty.
BRIAN (THINKING): Why did I agree to help Diane? I shouldn’t do it ... but I want to. Something about the adventure, the excitement, the ... the being with her all the time. Maybe that’s it. But I’ve gotta stay in control of myself. I can’t let her get me in over my head.
DIANE enters the room.
DIANE: Hey, bud, what’s going on?
Brian turns to face her.
BRIAN: Oh, nothing. Just trying to get everything ready so I can meet this damn deadline.
DIANE: I see.
BRIAN: So, what’s this great idea you had in mind? Since we got interrupted, I never did get to hear it.
DIANE: Oh, yeah! This is a good one: How about we have you seduce Claire?
BRIAN: I don’t think it’ll be that simple, Diane. Tim works here. Wouldn’t that be a little strange?
DIANE: Maybe you’re right. We have to find someway to get them apart so that it doesn’t appear to be my fault, right?
DIANE: I’ll have to give that one some more thought, but there’s definitely one plan that I hope pans out ...
MOLLY sits on the couch, alone in the room.
MOLLY (THINKING): What am I gonna do? My life is falling apart! True, I’ve got Craig, but I can’t stop thinking about Brent! And I do love Craig ... I think. And as if all that wasn’t enough, there’s someone trying to kill me. What if it isn’t Dr. Smith? This lunatic could be out there anywhere--
Her thoughts are interrupted by the sound of CRAIG walking into the room.
CRAIG: Okay, I got everything put away.
MOLLY: Oh, good.
CRAIG: Look, I know you’re really worried, but you need to calm down. Panicking won’t help. Just relax.
CRAIG: Oh, I’ve got one idea.
He begins to unbutton his shirt and leans in to kiss her. She kisses him back, pulling off his shirt for him. They sink down onto the couch, still kissing deeply.
BRIAN finishes pulling his copies out of the machine’s tray. DIANE looks on.
BRIAN: So, what is this other great plan you have?
DIANE: I don’t know if I should tell you -- not just you, but anyone in general. I don’t know if it would be a good idea.
BRIAN: Why? Has it led to any other felonies?
DIANE: Not that I know of. (long beat) Ah, here goes: when Tim was in the hospital, recovering from his gunshot wound, when he had amnesia, I went to visit him.
BRIAN: Uh-oh.
DIANE: Anyway, he thought I was Claire, so I played along--
BRIAN: Are you sure you just played along?
DIANE: Okay, so I told him I was Claire! Are you happy!
BRIAN: Somewhat. Now continue.
DIANE: Anyway, he asked me to make love to him.
BRIAN: I don’t like where this is going.
DIANE: Oh, it gets better. So I did, and lately I’ve been feeling ... well, not so great.
BRIAN: Guilty?
DIANE: No ... more like pregnant.
JAMES and ALAN stand talking in the unlit study, but heavy beams of sunlight stream through the windows, illuminating the room.
ALAN: If you don’t mind me asking, boss - after all, this is a great plan - don’t you feel bad about doing this to your own daughter?
JAMES: My feelings for Claire have been plaguing me every day of my life since I began doing this. But I was able to continue, to keep those parts of my life separate ... then, when I made the mistake of getting mixed up with Tim, my personal life and my professional world collided. Going on the run was the only thing I could do to avoid arrest.
ALAN: I know - me too. But I mean, doesn’t taking the baby bother you? It’s probably ruining your daughter’s life.
JAMES: As far as I’m concerned, Claire ruined her life when she married Tim. This baby will be much better off being raised by me. I cannot -- I will not -- raise this child to be a traitor! No, he will follow in my footsteps ... he will become the next generation of me!
Again, TIM and CLAIRE come to a clearing in the jungle. Here they find a fork in the road.
CLAIRE: Okay, which way do we go?
TIM: Pick one.
CLAIRE: Uh ... that one.
She points at the path on the left. They began to walk up it.
They have not been walking long when the path again breaks away. Claire comes up at the top of it, and Tim is still not in view.
She looks up and gasps.
CLAIRE: (amazed) Tim ... look ...
She points upward, and Tim steps out of the path and comes up beside her. He follows her pointing finger to its target.
TIM: Oh my God.
Before them stands a good-sized compound, surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.

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