Footprints: An Online Soap -- Episode #24

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Episode #24
The Night of and then Morning After #23

The door opens in the pitch-black room and JASON enters. He flips on the light switch and walks over to the bed, where he undoes his belt and drops it onto the floor.
JASON: (sotto voce) I had a nice time on my date with Lauren tonight, but I just don’t know.
He unbuttons his shirt and takes it off. He drops that, too, onto the floor next to his bed.
JASON (CONT’D): (sotto voce) I mean, she’s a really nice girl, and I’m glad Courtney introduced us ... but it just felt like something was missing.
After unbuttoning his pants, he steps out of them, leaving them on the floor as well. In just his boxers and a t-shirt, he climbs into bed.
JASON (CONT’D): (sotto voce) Something was definitely missing ... But what was it?
										CUT TO:
COURTNEY is asleep in her bed. A smile has spread over her face, the result of a pleasant dream.
										FADE TO:
JASON and COURTNEY, in swimsuits, lay on the beach. The sun beats down heavily on them and they are laughing. Once the laughter subsides, a moment of light silence ensues.
JASON: (peaceful) You know, Courtney, I can’t believe we never saw how we felt about each other before.
COURTNEY: I can’t believe we let Shannon keep us apart like that. But then again, it took all her manipulating to make us realize how much we loved each other in the first place.
A loud screeching noise overpowers the peaceful setting.
										CUT TO:
As COURTNEY sleeps, SHANNON creeps in through the open door and advances upon Courtney’s sleeping form.
SHANNON: (quietly) It’s too bad it had to come to this, Courtney ... but it’s the only way I can be sure you won’t take Jason away from me.
She holds up a sharp butcher’s knife.
SHANNON (CONT’D): I hate to do this ... then again, no I don’t!
She begins to plunge the knife downward, at Courtney.
										CUT TO:
COURTNEY sits up wide awake in a cold sweat. She suppresses a scream and breathes deeply, trying to calm herself.
COURTNEY: (huffing) Damn you, Shannon. What are you up to?
SHANNON lays awake in her bed, her eyes open. She seems to be troubled.
SHANNON: I can’t believe Jason had a date tonight ... I hope it was a disaster. I don’t need anyone else getting in the way of my getting him - Courtney is enough of a problem.
She shifts in the bed and turns over.
SHANNON (CONT’D): I don’t really know how to get her out of the way, either. But I’m sure that microphone thing was too risky. I’ve gotta stop doing that; I think she was starting to wonder if my voice was really inside her head or not. But what now? How can I keep Jason and Courtney apart?
She ponders this nervously as she shuts her eyes.
										FADE OUT
Sunshine streams in through the blinds onto a sleeping JASON. The door opens and PAULA peeks her head in.
PAULA: (loudly whispering) Jason, it’s time to get up!
He rolls over to face her and opens his eyes.
JASON: (groggily) What?
PAULA: You need to wake up. You and Shannon have to skate this morning.
JASON: Oh, yeah. Don’t worry ... I’ll be up in a second.
He sits up in the bed, looking pretty tired.
Paula enters the room fully and comes over to the bed.
PAULA: So, how’d everything go last night?
JASON: I had a nice time.
PAULA: You like Lauren?
JASON: I do. She’s a great girl ...
PAULA: ... ‘but’? I sense a ‘but’ coming on.
JASON: Yeah. (beat) I don’t know, it just didn’t seem like there was much chemistry.
PAULA: Well, Jason, that happens sometimes. But you’re only nineteen ... you have plenty of time to keep looking. Now
come on, get out of bed.
She heads for the door as he lays back down on his back. Paula exits the room, but before closing the door behind her turns back.
PAULA: You’ll find the right girl eventually, Jason. (beat) Who knows, you may already have found her.
Paula leaves, closing the door behind her. Jason sits up in bed, pondering her last statement.
										CUT TO:
SHANNON is finishing getting dressed. She pulls a sweatshirt over her head and begins to pull her hair back into a pony-
tail, all the while examining herself in the mirror.
SHANNON: (sotto voce) At least Jason will be with me for the next few hours ... but that’s far from a permanent solution. What can I do to keep them apart?
She finishes the ponytail as she racks her brain for an answer.
SHANNON (CONT’D): (sotto voce) Oh, well, it’ll come to me eventually. At least I’ve already got Courtney questioning her sanity. That’s a step.
Looking at herself in the mirror again, she seems almost remorseful all of a sudden.
SHANNON (CONT’D): I almost hate to do this to her ... it is kind of evil.
										FADE TO:
Flames leap and roar along the floor, around a close-up shot of a petrified MAN and WOMAN. They lay on the floor as if held down with no way to escape.
WOMAN: (fearful) No! Stop! Stop!!
MAN: (begging) Stop it! Why are you doing this?!? Stop!! Just let us go!
										FADE TO:
SHANNON shudders nervously and steps back from the mirror.
SHANNON: Then again, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
										CUT TO:
The basement is filthy, constructed of large bricks that display less-than-sanitary conditions. Years without proper maintenance have obviously taken their toll, and along one wall is a small square window with thick metal bars blocking the window pane.
The focus pans along this wall to a door made of similar bars. The cell is almost filthier than the basement itself. Laying on the two wooden bunks are TIM and CLAIRE. They are awake but show no signs of having any energy.
TIM: (staring at the wall) How the hell did we let this happen?
CLAIRE: We shouldn’t have even tried to outsmart my dad. I
knew something like this would happen.
TIM: We needed to find Travis. And we did. Things just didn’t work out quite like we planned.
CLAIRE: That was all wishful thinking. We knew what he was capable of; we should’ve waited for the cops to do something about it.
TIM: Well, we’re here now, and I’m not giving up just yet. (beat) Do you think he’d try to hurt us?
CLAIRE: Not unless he sees us a direct threat. The best idea would be to play along peacefully and not cause any trouble.
TIM: I’ll be glad to. I have no desire to end up strapped to a guillotine.
CLAIRE: I wonder how everyone is doing at home. We should have told them-
She is interrupted by loud footsteps approaching the cell. JAMES appears and stands right in front of the bars.
JAMES: I wouldn’t worry about home, Claire ... it’s a place you won’t be seeing for a long time.
Out on Claire as she glares angrily at him.
JAMES stands before the cell that holds TIM and CLAIRE as they stare angrily at him.
CLAIRE: (gritting her teeth) Dad ...
JAMES: Claire ... my dear Claire. And Tim ... how foolish it was of you to try to defeat me. You knew from the start that you’d never succeed. What, pray tell, provoked you to come down to the jungle to begin with?
CLAIRE: (trying to calm down) Well, we got an anonymous clue as to your whereabouts and handed it over to the police.
JAMES: I’m sure they could’ve done a better job than you did. What went wrong?
TIM: They didn’t want to follow the lead. They said there were too many factors that made it seem like a prank, not to mention that there were such scarce hints in the clue ... Claire just pieced it all together and we took off.
JAMES: That’s my little girl, always--
CLAIRE: (annoyed) Don’t you dare call me your little girl! I’m no one! You are dead to me! How can you live with your- self after doing this to the daughter that you supposedly "love"?
JAMES: It’s very simple, my dear.
CLAIRE: Yeah? Well, I’m dying to hear this!
JAMES: Love you as I might, you betrayed me by turning me in to the police. So I made off with young Travis. And again you showed that this -- this man -- he’s blinded you to the love and respect you should feel for your own father.
CLAIRE: You stole my son! I had no choice but to search for him!
JAMES: A loving daughter would have accepted her punishment and allowed me to do as I needed in peace.
CLAIRE: You are crazy! You’ve gone completely insane!
JAMES: Have I, Claire? Have I really? I’m not the one sitting in a dungeon with this thing!
As he says "thing," he nods haughtily at Tim, who simply sticks his tongue out at James.
CLAIRE: Yeah? At least I’m not the one who owns a dungeon!
JAMES: What went wrong with you, Claire? I raised you so well! I loved you so much!
TIM: You have a warped idea of love, James! How could you even--
JAMES: Very well. Just babble on to yourself, Tim. I’ll be upstairs.
He departs, cackling maniacally.
CLAIRE: We’ve gotta get out of here.
Tim nods in agreement.
										CUT TO:
SHANNON and JASON step off the ice. Shannon heads in one direction, but Jason remains by the entrance to the ice, putting his skate guards back on. Their coach, SANDY, comes off the ice and stands next to him.
SANDY: Nice practice today.
JASON: Thanks. I think that program is coming along really well.
SANDY: I know. (beat) Look, you’ve got an important decision to make.
JASON: What do you mean?
SANDY: I’ve talked to both Courtney and her doctor, and she’s ready to start skating full-time again.
Jason appears incredibly happy.
JASON: Really? That’s great!
SANDY: But it’s not that simple.
JASON: I know, I know. I’ve made a commitment to Shannon, right?
SANDY: No, that’s not an issue. The problem is this: If you take Courtney back, you guys will definitely be ready for next year, when you can really break out and make it big. But if you stick with Shannon, you’re likely to get appointed to some huge International Junior competitions right now.
JASON: I see.
SANDY: It’s just a matter of whether you are willing to put your chance at success on hold for a year to take Courtney back.
JASON: This is not going to be an easy decision.
SANDY: I know. The bottom line is: Is Courtney important enough to you that you’d sacrifice your immediate chance at success for her?
Jason bites his lower lip as he ponders this.
In the background, Shannon sticks her head out from around a corner, listening intently.
Out on Shannon, suddenly very nervous.
TIM and CLAIRE sit together on the lower bunk. Claire is obviously furiously, while Tim seems to be contemplating an idea.
TIM: I’ve been wracking my brain for hours ... how the hell do we get out of here?
CLAIRE: I have no idea -- the worst part is that even if we do manage to get out of this cell and out of the basement, neither of us would have any idea how to get out of this compound. It’s like a maze.
TIM: It’s awfully extravagant.
He pauses as he looks around the basement.
TIM (CONT’D): Most of it is awfully extravagant. (beat) Just out of curiousity, did he just have this place built in case he ever needed to hold his daughter and son-in-law prisoner, or what? Has it just been sitting here untouched for years?
CLAIRE: No, I have a feeling it’s been around for quite some time, with a purpose. When I was younger, he’d leave town for a few weeks ... of course, I wasn’t supposed to know why. But from snooping, I figured out that people were looking for him. Sometimes after he got back, I’d ask where he’d gone, and he’d say he was here. I guess he came here to hide out.
TIM: So that was why it was so easy for you to find this place.
CLAIRE: Exactly. (beat) Now all we need to do is figure out how to get out of here.
										CUT TO:
SHANNON hides unseen behind a wall as JASON and SANDY talk.
SHANNON (THINKING): If Jason starts skating with Courtney again, I won’t have any time with him! And the two of them will be together all day long ... I need to stop this.
SANDY: Jason, why don’t you think about it and we’ll talk later?
JASON: (distracted) Yeah ... okay. Thanks, Sandy.
Sandy walks off as Jason stands still, thinking.
JASON: (sotto voce) What am I gonna do? I’d love to skate with Courtney again, but Shannon and I are so close to getting a little recognition. I’d feel terrible ditching her now. (beat) What can I do?
Shannon continues to listen as she hides behind the wall.
SHANNON (THINKING): Don’t do anything, Jason. Just let me make the decision for you.
										CUT TO:
A SERVANT comes down the stairs of the basement carrying a paper bag. He approaches the cell, where TIM and CLAIRE sit on the lower bunk in frustrated silence.
SERVANT: Lunchtime.
CLAIRE: Oh, that should cheer me up.
The servant takes items out of the paper bag and slips them through the bars: two sandwiches, two bottles of water, and two apples.
TIM: I’m amazed he didn’t just let us starve.
SERVANT: I wouldn’t push your luck ... don’t try anything stupid. The boss is about ready to kill both of you.
Claire eyes the servant for a moment, then looks down at his belt. She develops a mischievous look on her face. Hooked on it is a set of KEYS. She takes an apple from Tim.
CLAIRE: I am pretty hungry, though ...
She raises the apple towards her mouth as if to bite it before quickly tossing it at the servant’s head. It hits him square on the forehead and he topples to the ground, dazed.
Tim gives Claire a baffled look, but she nods toward the keys. The servant begins to rise.
SERVANT: What was that for, lady?
TIM: Just shut up.
He flings a bottle of water at the servant, which hits him in the head. He sags back to the floor.
Tim reaches through the cell’s bars and pulls the servant closer by his feet. He removes the keys from his belt and opens the cell door.
TIM: He’s okay, isn’t he?
CLAIRE: At this point, he’s not high on my priority list.
TIM: I’m just saying, I don’t need murder on my conscience, on top of everything else.
He quickly checks to make sure the guard is breathing, and after he has confirmed it, he nods at Claire.
CLAIRE: Mission accomplished.
They head up the stairs, out of the basement.
After they disappear, the servant stirs groggily. He opens his eyes and notices they are gone. Too weak to rise, he merely pushes a button on a device hooked to his pants. A red light flashes on it.
PAULA sits at the table, transferring trays of cookies into containers. Enter JASON.
JASON: Hey, Mom.
PAULA: Oh, hi, honey! How was skating?
JASON: Actually, it went really well. We ran through the program twice, and we both hit our double Axels both times.
PAULA: Good for you! It’s been such a pain for you to get that jump ...
JASON: I know -- I’m just glad it’s starting to get strong now. (beat) What are you doing?
PAULA: Oh, these are the cookies that Courtney and I baked for the Church’s bake sale tomorrow.
JASON: Cool ... mind if I take one?
PAULA: No, go ahead.
JASON: Good, because I would’ve taken one anyway.
He smiles mischievously and begins to eat a cookie.
JASON (CONT’D): Mom, I need to ask you something.
PAULA: Go ahead.
JASON: Sandy pulled me aside, and she said that Courtney is definitely recovered enough to start skating again. Since this season is over, I’m not really committed to Shannon anymore.
PAULA: So you and Courtney can start skating together again?
JASON: It’s not that simple. The problem is that Shannon and I did pretty well in our competitions this season; if I stick with her, we’re definitely gonna go places this year. But if I go back with Courtney, this next year will just be a rebuilding year, so I’d have to wait for my big break a whole year.
Paula considers her advice.
JASON (CONT’D): So what should I do, Mom?
PAULA: I can’t make that decision for you, honey ... what do you want to do?
JASON: I don’t know -- I can’t decide!
PAULA: You have to follow your heart, Jason. You need to do whatever you feel is best.
With that, Paula exits the room. Jason is left pondering her last words.
										CUT TO:
JAMES writes at his desk. ALAN frantically enters the room.
ALAN: Boss, we’ve gotta get down to the basement!
JAMES: What’s wrong?
ALAN: The guy who was supposed to bring Claire and Tim their lunch just rang his alarm. Something’s up!
JAMES: Well, let’s go!
They rush out of the room.
Zoom in on the desk. Upon it sit the letter that James was writing and its accompanying envelope. The words on the envelope can be seen to read "DIANE BISHOP," followed by the address of her office.
										CUT TO:
All is still in the hallway. Along the left wall is a wooden door. The doorknob slowly turns, and the door opens only a crack. TIM carefully peeks out, and seeing that the coast is clear, opens the door wider. He and CLAIRE step out into the hallway and shut the door lightly behind them.
CLAIRE: (whispering) We’re out!
TIM: (whispering) Yeah, but only out of the basement ... we still need to get the baby and get home.
CLAIRE: (whispering) One step at a time ... what now?
TIM: (whispering) I’m sure he’s keeping Travis in some state-of-the-art nursery. It’s just a matter of finding it.
CLAIRE: (whispering) Should we split up?
TIM: (whispering) I don’t know.
Voices and footsteps can be heard offscreen. Tim looks at Claire and nods toward another door across the hallway. They quickly duck into that room just as JAMES and ALAN come down the hall, walking at a quick pace.
JAMES: I hope they haven’t gotten out yet!
ALAN: There’s only one way to find out ...
He opens up the door that Tim and Claire earlier emerged out of, and James goes inside. Alan follows but leaves the door open behind him.
TIM and CLAIRE are huddled inside a rather unglamorous room of the compound, pressed against the door listening. It is a cramped room with little more than a washer, dryer, and counter along the back and side walls.
CLAIRE: (whispering) Sounds like they’re gone.
TIM: (whispering) Good. I’ll check.
He opens the door and again peeks outside. He turns back and gives a go-ahead signal to Claire. They exit the laundry room.
SHANNON is driving by herself in her car, which appears to be very expensive.
SHANNON: (sotto voce) I can’t believe Courtney is recovered already! This is gonna screw everything up ... But I knew all along that this was only temporary. (beat) Dammit! I need more time -- but how? Jason needs to make the decision to stay with me ... and I need to help him make it.
COURTNEY lies on her bed, clutching a stuffed animal. She seems to be lost in thought.
The radio is on in the background, and "Looking Through Your Eyes" by LeAnn Rimes can faintly be heard playing.
COURTNEY (THINKING): Why does Shannon hate me so much? I know she’s obsessed with Jay, but why does she see me as such an obstacle? If she just acted normally, maybe she’d have a chance. But instead, she acts like I’m the reason that he doesn’t seem interested in her. Besides, she’s no good for him ...
The song becomes more audible as Courtney begins to think.
										FADE TO:
The beach is empty except for JASON and COURTNEY, who lay on beach towels gazing up at the stars.
Playing over the scene is "Looking Through Your Eyes" by LeAnn Rimes. No dialogue is heard.
Jason points out to something in the sky and Courtney looks. She says something to him, after which he playfully tackles her and jumps on top of her. She is laughing happily as he begins to kiss her. They roll over and continue to kiss.
										FADE TO:
JASON is sitting on his bed, listening to the same radio station. He has a book in hand, but has obviously put it down to think. The song ends on the radio and Jason is left looking confused.
JASON (THINKING): What is going on here? I’ve never thought of Courtney like this before ... she’s always just been my best friend. But now -- who knows what’s going on? (beat) Well, she obviously doesn’t feel the same way about me, and I’d hate to ruin our friendship. It’s the most important thing in the world to me ...
ALAN and JAMES are walking together, peeking into random rooms in search of the missing couple.
ALAN: Do you think they left the building?
JAMES: It’s a possibility ... but I doubt they could find their way out so quickly. And I think they’d try to get the baby first. Regardless, I took the precaution of having men posted outside, just in case.
ALAN: They won’t get far. We’ll find them.
JAMES: We have to.
TIM and CLAIRE stalk silently through the halls, searching for the nursery. Claire opens a door, and Tim pauses as she looks inside. She comes back out and closes it, shaking her head.
TIM: (whispering) It’s a freakin’ maze in here.
CLAIRE: (whispering) I know. This is impossible.
TIM: (whispering) Well, let’s keep looking.
They continue down the hallway and peer down various side pathways which don’t seem to lead anywhere. Finally they come to a wall; the only option is to turn right. They do, but find only a short hallway with another dead end. They walk down it anyway.
TIM: (whispering) Now what?
CLAIRE: (whispering) I guess we should turn back.
JAMES (OS): I don’t think that will be necessary.
Tim and Claire both look up as JAMES steps around the corner.
JAMES: Game over.
TIM: Not quite, James.
Tim dashes at James and kicks him, catching him off guard. James leans against the wall, stunned, moaning in agony.
Tim motions for Claire to follow him, but as he turns the corner, he runs right into ALAN. Claire follows, bumping into Tim’s back as she comes around the corner.
ALAN: Remember me?
TIM: I sure as hell do. Get out of my way!
He tries to push past, but Alan shoves him back.
ALAN: Stop right there.
He casts Tim and Claire a sinister look as he pulls out a handgun and aims it at them.

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