Luke 6:45

overflow

A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart.

An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart,

for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.

Luke 6:45, CSB

as i got the idea for this story, i thought the best way for it to play out would be as a short film rather than a short story. so i’ve written it in screenplay format. substack won’t allow me to format it exactly like a screenplay, but you’ll get the essence of it.

one thing about a screenplay is that it is in present tense, whereas many of my short stories are in past tense, or what we sometimes call the “historical present”. another thing you’ll notice with screenplays is that you can’t really write what someone is feeling. you can only write what you see and hear. i try to write this way anyway in my short stories, but you’ll see how constricted that is with screenplays in the sample below. the “narrator” doesn’t exist. the action will never be heard by the audience, so there’s no need to make it beautiful prose. it’s only to tell the filmmakers what’s on the screen and in the soundtrack.

the number one comment i get on my books is, “i could just see everything!” i hope this glance at a screenplay format gives you some insight into how my storytelling mind works.

enjoy, and Godspeed.


FADE IN:

EXT. CITY DOWNTOWN - NIGHT

skyscrapers jut into the sky, towering over a hospital below. next to the hospital, a parking garage several stories tall. connecting them just above ground level is a glass walkway. a feminine figure strolls through the illuminated tube, eyes on her phone as the occasional doctor or nurse passes.

EXT. PARKING GARAGE

the woman — Malorie Bora (24) — steps out of the light into the dank concrete garage, her high heels clicking loudly on the slippery surface. she glances about, phone still in hand. she looks up, startled to see two POLICE OFFICERS. one holds up his hand, a maglight in his other.

OFFICER 1

sorry, ma’am. we need to check bags. would you mind opening your purse for me.

she looks at the other Officer. this wasn’t a routine thing; something was up. she slowly pulls one handle of her bag off her forearm and holds it open. the Officer shines his light down into it and half-heartedly looks around. she glances at the other Officer, who is looking at her legs.

OFFICER 1

ma’am, could you please lift your purse there.

annoyed, Malorie sighs and lifts her small clutch so he can see underneath it. the officer looks over her clutch first, then looks down into the bag. the other officer is staring at her creepily. she turns her gaze away from him, letting her blonde hair fall in front of her face like a curtain.

OFFICER 1

okay, thank you. sorry for the inconvenience.

Malorie puts her clutch and cell phone into her bag and walks past the officers. the second officer turns and watches her walk away. Malorie takes a deep breath and picks up her pace.

she walks to the opposite corner of the parking garage floor and presses the button for the elevator, checking her surroundings as she waits.

the doors split open, and she steps inside.

INT. ELEVATOR

turning around to press her floor, she sees a tall man in a doctor’s coat walking briskly toward the elevator. she reaches over and presses her floor, then presses “door close”. as the doors start to close, the doctor — Tashi Chang (34) — starts to jog.

CHANG

hold the door?

Malorie taps “door closed” several times, and shrugs at him through the opening. Chang breaks into a sprint, jamming his hand into the barely open split in the doors, just catching them. with a loud commotion, they slowly open.

MALORIE

sorry, i was pushing it, but--

CHANG

that’s okay, i’m not sure those door buttons actually do anything.

Chang flashes a smile at her as he slips between her and the panel. his smile lingers a second before he turns to the buttons and presses the top floor.

CHANG

i always park on the top floor so when people ask how my day was, i can tell them i came out on top.”

Malorie forces a polite smile, but holds her bag close to her as she stands in the far corner away from the young, handsome doctor. Chang looks at the panel.

CHANG

you’re on the tenth floor? why not go all the way to the top?

Malorie shrugs.

CHANG

if you’ve never been to the top, you should see the view from there. it’s really beautiful. come up and see it.

MALORIE

no, thank you.

CHANG

come on, come see it with me.

MALORIE
(firmly)

no thank you.

Chang’s smile fades, and he mirrors her more formal posture. he faces the panel and looks up at the numbers slowly incrementing. the elevator beeps as it passes 4.

CHANG

this thing is always so slow.

the elevator car suddenly jolts. a loud SCREECHING. the car stops. Chang looks up, as if trying to see through the ceiling. Malorie’s breathing picks up.

CHANG

i think i jinxed it.

Chang stares at the panel. Malorie watches him.

MALORIE

what’s happening?

CHANG

who knows. these things are always on the fritz. i normally take the stairs.

MALORIE

but not tonight.

Chang’s head snaps to her as he tries to gauge her intent.

CHANG

no, not tonight.

Malorie breaks her stare with him and fidgets. Chang looks back at the panel.

CHANG

yeah tonight i was in a hurry.

Chang chuckles, then squats down and opens the telephone door on the elevator panel. Malorie snaps a reaction:

MALORIE

what are you doing?

CHANG

i was just going to use the phone to get some help. is that okay?

MALORIE

can’t we restart it or something? how do we get out?

Chang slowly rises and steps closer to her. Malorie brings her bag up as he gets closer.

CHANG

hey, it’s going to be okay. i’m here with you.

MALORIE

i just... i have somewhere to be.

CHANG

yeah, so do i. panicking isn’t going to make things go faster. okay? just take a deep breath. come on, with me.

Chang inhales slowly and gestures for her to join him.

MALORIE

i’m sorry, but i don’t want to do anything with you. i just want to get out of here.

Chang freezes, then sharply exhales. he goes back to the panel and grabs the phone, looking for instructions. he puts it to his ear.

CHANG

it’s ringing.

he listens for a few rings. he shakes his head and hangs it up.

MALORIE

why did you hang up?

CHANG

there was no answer.

Malorie’s eye dart around nervously.

CHANG

do you want to try it?

MALORIE

can’t you just open the doors? we can crawl out or jump out or something?

CHANG

i don’t think you’re supposed to do that.

MALORIE

i have to get out of here!

CHANG

okay, okay... i’ll... i’ll call Roger.

MALORIE

who’s Roger?

CHANG

he’s the security guard down in the gate booth.

MALORIE

what’s a security guard going to do? we need maintenance or something. not a security guard.

Chang dials his cell phone.

CHANG

he’s got a radio. he can call someone to help get us out.

(into phone)

Roger? hey it’s Tash. yeah we’re stuck in one of the parking garage elevators. uh huh. oh wow. yeah. okay, yeah, thanks.

(hangs up)

he’s going to let someone know. he said half the elevators on the campus were out right now.

MALORIE

why is that?

CHANG

who knows.

Chang sighs, then starts taking off his coat. he folds it and lays it on the floor of the elevator, then sits on top of it.

MALORIE

what are you doing?

Chang takes a deep breath before speaking to her calmly.

CHANG

i’m sitting down. we’re... probably going to be here for a while.

Malorie steps toward the doors.

MALORIE

how long is a while? i have to... i’m supposed to be somewhere. i have to get out of here.

CHANG

there’s nothing we can do. they know we’re here. they’re coming to help us.

MALORIE

who?

CHANG

who what?

MALORIE

who’s coming?

CHANG

i... don’t know. people. maintenance, i guess.

Malorie stares at the tightly-sealed crack in the doors for another moment, then turns away back to her corner.

CHANG

do you work at the hospital?

Malorie takes a breath.

MALORIE

no.

CHANG

drug rep?

MALORIE

something like that.

CHANG

well. i’m Doctor Tashi Chang. and i work at the hospital.

Malorie rubs the tarnish from the edges of her watch. then she finally looks down at Chang. Chang’s hand is extended. she doesn’t take it.

MALORIE

nice to meet you, Dr. Chang.

Chang pulls his hand back.

CHANG

my patients call me Dr. Chang. people close to me just call me Tash.

Malorie turns her attention back to her watch.

MALORIE

i’m not close to you, Dr. Chang.

CHANG

we’re stuck in an elevator. that’s pretty close.

Malorie doesn’t react.

finally,

MALORIE

how will they know where we are?

Chang points to the top corner above the panel. a triangle in the corner houses a small camera. Malorie sees it and turns her face away from it.

CHANG

what’s wrong?

MALORIE

i don’t like being on camera.

Chang chortles and shakes his head.

CHANG

women and cameras.

Malorie shoots a glare at him.

MALORIE

excuse me?

CHANG
(smiles)

you look fine.

MALORIE

i didn’t ask you how i looked. and i’d appreciate it if you didn’t comment on it any more.

Chang shrugs an “okay” silently and sits quietly on the floor. Malorie paces. she looks at him. he stares at the floor. she sees his white coat, with an embroidered name — DR. ISHANI PINTAR. she quickly looks away.

still pacing.

MALORIE

you’re going to get your coat dirty.

CHANG

i can bleach the coat.

(tugs at pant legs)

these are dry clean only.

Malorie paces.

MALORIE

is Dr. Pintar fine with you bleaching his coat?

Chang looked at her. this time, he’s on the defensive.

CHANG

it’s not my coat. and i’m sure SHE would be appreciative of it.

MALORIE

i don’t think you’re a doctor.

CHANG

excuse me?

Malorie’s pacing gets more frantic.

MALORIE

why are you here? why are we stuck here?

Chang rises, and Malorie halts, backing up away from him.

CHANG

ma’am, i think you’re freaking out a little bit--

as he nears her, she circles away from him. she stops in the corner with the panel, Chang now opposite her. Chang holds out a cautionary hand.

CHANG

look, my ID is in my coat pocket.

Chang gestures to the folded up coat at Malorie’s feet. Malorie shakes her head nervously.

MALORIE

i’m not taking my eyes off you.

Chang backs up, hands up.

CHANG

whoa, okay, let’s just calm down, okay? look i’m going to get my wallet, i’ve got a business card with my name and picture on it, okay?

Chang slowly pulls his billfold from his back pocket and and opens it. it is full of receipts, coupons, business cards, and a thick stash of cash. he pulls out a business card with his picture and the name “Dr. Tashi Chang” and shows it to her.

she glances at it, and at the money in the wallet. he pushes the business card toward her, offering it to her. she carefully reaches out, shaking. she gets her fingertips on it, and jerks it away from him and backs into the corner. she glances at the name and photo.

a phone RINGS, a shrieking alarm ringtone.

Malorie startles, dropping the card, and presses herself up against the wall of the elevator car, one hand disappearing behind her back.

CHANG

it’s just my phone.

he reaches into his pants pocket for his phone when THE LIGHTS GO OUT!

it’s pitch black.

a FLICK of metal. someone moves.

Malorie screams.

Chang howls.

a skirmish. a body hits the floor. another. struggling. Malorie and Chang both grunting. Malorie lets out an inaudible scream.

CHANG

STOP!

MALORIE

NO!

something metal BANGS on the floor of the car amid the struggle. a quick whoosh as something whips through the darkness. Chang yells, a growl. Malorie screams back at him.

the skirmish continues, bodies rolling around on the floor, shoes and elbows HAMMERING the walls as they tussle about. someone punches, a body blow. fabric tears.

dull THUDS as one of them bangs the other’s body against the floor. thud, thud, thud! a CLATTER as something metal bounces across the floor. loafers and high heels SKIDDER across the floor. loud CLAMBERING of heads and arms as both Chang and Malorie grunt and fight.

finally, Chang yells out an inaudible force.

MALORIE

NO!!

a quick THPT and Malorie screams. shoes hit the floor and the skirmish stops. the shoes move around the car. as someone rolls around on the floor moaning, breath gurgling.

CHANG

don’t move or i’ll do it again!

the moaning and gurgling continues.

suddenly the elevator doors are forced open from the outside. light floods the elevator car, and the police officers have their sidearms drawn. Malorie rolls back and forth on the ground, bleeding. Chang, bloody, shirt torn, stands over her with a bloody knife.

OFFICER 1

DROP THE KNIFE!

Chang immediately does so and puts his hands up.

CHANG

she attacked me!

OFFICER 2

we know. head of security was giving us a play by play.

Chang looks confused. Officer 1 sweeps his pistol, surveying the scene. behind him, Officer 2 points up toward the camera.

OFFICER 2

night-vision, wireless, battery backup.

he points at Malorie on the floor of the car. she is bleeding from a stab wound to her abdomen.

OFFICER 2
(to OFFICER 1)

i told you i saw a cleaning lady with pantyhose like that.

(in radio on shoulder)

we need a stretcher up on eight.

(to CHANG)

benefit of getting stabbed at a hospital, i guess.

Officer 2 waves Chang out of the elevator. Chang steps out and looks back in, seeing Malorie bleeding through her blouse and suit coat. the contents of her bag and Chang’s wallet were scattered all over the floor, dollar bills everywhere. blood began soaking into the blond wig under Malorie’s tightly-matted dark hair.

OFFICER 1
(to MALORIE)

don’t move, all right? we’re going to get that looked at. it doesn’t look bad. you should be fine.

Malorie begins convulsing, and Officer 1 jumps back, his weapon still on her. Officer 2’s right hand goes to his hip, as he gently pushes Chang back.

OFFICER 2

is she faking?

OFFICER 1

there’s some pink foam coming out of her wound.

(he leans in)

i think it’s the fentanyl.

Officer 1 slowly backs away.

CHANG

fentanyl??

OFFICER 2

don’t touch her!

(to CHANG)

someone’s been stealing it for weeks. we narrowed it down to one of the cleaning staff, but she kept disappearing on us. now we know why. looks like you stabbed her right in her stash.

(to OFFICER 1)

you got any Narcan?

OFFICER 1

yeah, down in the car.

OFFICER 2
(in the radio)

bring some narcan, too. you better hurry.

(to CHANG)

did you get any on you?

still breathless, Chang looks himself over. he see the cut on his arm, bleeding.

OFFICER 2

we’re gonna get you checked out, too, okay. don’t touch anything in case you got it on you somewhere.

CHANG

she, uh... the lights went out.. she was freaking out... then she went for my wallet and started slashing at me. i got her to drop it i guess, and then i got it--

OFFICER 2

hey, uh... i think we have the whole thing on video, and i’m sure that will prove you’re in the clear, but maybe you shouldn’t say anything else right now.

Chang breathes. he inspects his arm.

OFFICER 2

have a seat over there until we can get you into the ER, okay?

(into radio)

send another gurney up, would ya? or at least a wheelchair or something.

(to CHANG)

you’re gonna be okay, Doc.

Chang nods and sits down, sliding against the parking garage wall. he cranes his neck to look at Malorie’s body, no longer seizing, no longer moving.

CHANG

is she...?

OFFICER 2

hope not. it’s not her we’re after. we were hoping to find out where she takes it.

Officer 2 sighs as sirens echo from the floors below.

EXT. CITY SKYLINE

clouds partially cover the moon. three police cars, lights spinning, race up the levels of the parking garage.

FADE OUT.