Bad Habit episode 1: “Loose Canon”

31 Jul

badhabits

So a couple weeks ago I wrote a stupid tweet about a “new spec idea” that I had.

As you might have guessed, I was a lot more enamoured of my dumb wordplay than I was of the actual idea. At first. 

But for whatever reason, this was one of those shower thoughts that sticks around, and I kept getting ideas for scenes and characters that would make me laugh to myself at inopportune moments. So eventually I just threw my hands into the air, yelled “fine!” and wrote the stupid thing as a ten page comic script. Minus the heroin bit, which was a little too hard to work in with the page restriction I set myself. Hope you like it anyway.

PAGE 1 (FOUR PANELS)

PANEL 1

An old monastery made of weatherbeaten bricks and chipped wood. A wilting cactus is its only friend in this barren expanse of desert.

A SIGN

Tacked together from scrap boards and rusty nails. The writing is some ancient script, barely intelligible, scrawled in running paint. The insignia at the center is clear, though: a decal of a burning ram skull.

But it’s not as empty as it looks. Voices come from within.

BOX (AGNES)
The glamorous HQ of the Holy Order of the Burning Ram’s Horn. Where I hang my habit. Home of the righteous. Home of God’s Wrath for all the evil of man and demon.

VOICE
Pop quiz. The point of an exorcism is to…

VOICE 2
Uh…
(bubble)
Is it to make your wife use less teeth?

BOX (AGNES)
Home of the hardest exorcists, demonologists and gravel-in-your-guts asskickers this side of the Vatican.

PANEL 2

Inside now. GABRIEL (30s), balding and pudgy in his clerical robe, cuts a diminutive figure behind the piles of ancient books and scrolls on the huge wooden desk. A half dozen bookshelves of similar are lined up behind him. An old, sun-bleached poster for Hawaii 5-0 hangs off one of them. Gabriel’s one lapse into materialism.

BOX (AGNES)
And this guy.

GABRIEL
I’ll ignore that remark.
(bubble)
The point of an exorcism is to save the life of the host.

BOX (AGNES)
Thinks just because he shares part of his animus with the Archangel Gabriel he knows best. Thinks because he’s the one the Holy Ghost communicates through, he’s somehow more in touch with the Will of Heaven. But the field isn’t Heaven. It’s Hell.

PANEL 3

Low angle shot on our hero. SISTER AGNES CRABTREE (70s). She wears a habit decked out with leather reinforcements on the shoulders, a leather belt that hangs low with pouches and weaponry– a sawed off shotgun, a set of brass knuckles with a bladed crucifix attached like a trenchknife. Her face is scarred and leathery. An eyepatch completes the look.

In her hands? A SEVERED HEAD. Little horns grow out of the forehead. The lolling tongue is forked.

BOX (AGNES)
And I’ve spent a long time there.

AGNES
Don’t lose your head about it.
(bubble)
Besides, he let the demon in himself. Let it devour his soul. There was no man left to save.

GABRIEL
He was a Republican senator! We might only report to God Himself, but that’s a lot easier when you’re not being investigated by the FBI!

AGNES
Demon’s a demon. I don’t care which way he votes.

PANEL 4

Two shot of Agnes and Gabriel. He’s shaking a CASE FILE angrily at her.

GABRIEL
You’re a loose cannon, Crabtree! You’re on dead virgin duty until your head cools off!

AGNES
What, more ritual murders in some hillbilly hellhole? Here, I’ll solve the case for you–some psycho got mad no girls were talking to him so he carved some pentagrams into ‘em instead. It’s a waste of my talent and you know it!

GABRIEL
“Waste of your talent?” That attitude it starting to sound an awful lot like Vanity!

PANEL 4.1 (THUMBNAIL)

Close on Agnes’ face. That stung her.

GABRIEL (O.P)
That’s what I thought.
(bubble)
Lucky for you, I’m feeling generous…


PAGE 2 (SIX PANELS)

PANEL 1

Agnes’ POV: Medium on Gabriel. He’s holding the file open in her face. There’s a CHILD’S SCHOOL PHOTO clipped to a report that might have been produced by a Gutenberg press. The kid in the photo is DAMON. He has a serious, grim look and low, black bangs. He wears a suit with a pocket square.

GABRIEL
I’ve already found you a suspect.
(bubble)
Name: Damon. No one’s sure of the family name. Probably because he doesn’t have a family. Lived with the local priest until about a month ago–

AGNES
Let me guess, right around the time the first body turned up?

GABRIEL
Just after. We figure he split when the priest started asking questions. Nothing solid yet, but he fits the profile. Dollars to dogma, he’s your guy.

PANEL 2

Flashback to Damon in his eighth grade classroom. He’s writing some VERY COMPLEX calculus on the chalkboard, much to the surprise of the teacher and his classmates.

BOX (GABRIEL)
Kid’s always been strange, though. Locals said he always seemed to know stuff a kid his age shouldn’t.

PANEL 3

Another flashback, outside the schoolhouse now. A BULLY holds Damon by the collar and cocks a fist at his already-bloody nose.

BOX (GABRIEL)
Smart kid. Small town. Probably felt like hell to him. So that’s when little Damon…

PANEL 4

Flashback. The Bully is walking down the streets of Hawthorne, happily munching penny candies. He’s oblivious to the men raising a piano through a window ahead of him.

BOX (GABRIEL)
…started bringing Hawthorne a little hell…

PANEL 4.1 (THUMBNAIL)

Close on the piano. The rope the men were raising it with is SNAPPING.

BOX (GABRIEL)
…of his own.

PANEL 5

Back with Agnes and Gabriel. Two shot. He’s leaning over his desk, palms pressing into the surface. She looks at him with folded arms, incredulous.

AGNES
This wouldn’t be the first time a bunch of yokels pinned some spookiness on an outsider. Im not convinced Satan is involved.

GABRIEL
And I’m not convinced he’s not. So you’re going.

PANEL 6

Medium shot on Agnes’ AWESOME RIDE. It’s a 1950s Cadillac, but the hood ornament has been replaced by an ornate crucifix. An elaborate, religious mural is painted down the side. An incense burner hangs from the rearview like fuzzy dice.

BOX (GABRIEL)
Oh, and Agnes?

BOX (GABRIEL)
I had the Holy Roller fueled up. It’s a long way to Arkansas.


PAGE 3 (THREE PANELS)

BACKGROUND

Wide view of the town, with the Holy Roller making its way through slowly, representing Agnes making her stops and interviewing the townspeople. Any space not taken up by the “panels” will show the town. There are three important bits of information we will ideally be able to see:

  • A sign “Welcome to Hawthorne.”
  • The slaughterhouse. Probably somewhere in the background, perched imperiously on a cliff. The spookier, the better.
  • A banner or sign (it can be anywhere), advertising the “Summer Meat Auction.”

PANEL 1

Close-medium on HAMISH, a nervous, sweaty man with a priest’s collar. There’s a pulpit behind him, all wood paneling and bad carpets. Very small town.

HAMISH
Your language is rather unbecoming of a lady of the cloth…
(bubble)
But to answer your question–yes, Damon lived with me for a time. He was always a troubled boy, but when he started threatening Mister Cruikshank–Mister Cruikshank runs the slaughterhouse up on the hill–I told him that he would no longer be welcome here if he kept it up.
(bubble)
He, um, kept it up.

PANEL 2

Close-medium on DOUG CRUIKSHANK. He’s a big, muscular guy dressed like a proper southern gentleman. Jacket, bolo tie, cigar propped between his teeth. He’s sitting in his office with his cowboy boots up on his desk. There’s a nameplate on the desk that also tells us his title “Owner and plant manager.”

DOUG
Not just any nun could wander into the manager’s office of Cruikshank’s Slaughterhouse and Packing Plant like you did. But, hell, not just any nun packs heat like you do.
(bubble)
But I’m afraid I’m barred from speaking to anyone about the orphan boy on legal grounds. It’s a police matter now.

PANEL 3

Close-medium on SHERIFF BROWN. He’s behind the wheel of his prowler, his mirrored aviators almost touching his walrus moustache. He looks annoyed.

BROWN
…came at poor Mister Cruikshank with a blade, as I recall. Not that it rattled the scary old bastard any.
(bubble)
Now, if you don’t mind movin’ that old boat of yours, I got another murder to investigate.

 

PAGE 4 (FIVE PANELS)

PANEL 1

Wider shot of the scene in the last panel. Now we can see the context: Agnes has parked the Holy Roller in front of Sheriff Brown’s prowler, blocking all traffic in the road. He’s hanging out the window to speak to her as other annoyed motorists look on.

AGNES
A murder, you say?

PANEL 2

Agnes and Brown stand before the body of poor CHASTITY CRUIKSHANK. She’s been hung naked by her ankles in a scraggly old tree, somewhere in the swamp just outside of town. She’s covered in wounds shaped like crosses, pentagrams, and plenty not shaped like much at all. A rosary has been CINCHED around her neck. It’d be choking her, if it still could. One of her eyes is missing.

BROWN
Yeah… Hell, sure looks that way.

PANEL 3

Agnes bends down to inspect some of Chastity’s wounds.

AGNES
Who did she belong to?

BROWN
Why that’s Chastity Cruikshank. Doug’s little gir–
(bubble)
Shee-yat! Why am I telling you this? Why am I even letting you near here!? This is a crime scene!

AGNES
Because you’re scared and in over your head.

PANEL 4

Closer on Brown, removing his glasses and padding the sweat from his forehead. He does look scared. Really scared.

BROWN

(bubble)
Well, I… I suppose this fits with the orphan boy theory…
(bubble)
But how the hell do you suppose a twelve year old kid could do all this?

PANEL 5

Very close on the rosary around Chastity’s neck. There’s an inscription on the inside of the cross. It reads: “For protection from him.”

AGNES
“How the hell” is right.

 

PAGE 5 (FIVE PANELS)

PANEL 1

The Holy Roller pulls up outside the Hawthorne church. The door of the old stone building is lolling open slightly…

BOX (AGNES)
And “what the hell” kind of priest gives a girl a charm to protect her from his own adopted son?

BOX (AGNES)
And “why the hell” wouldn’t he try and stop the kid before his evil got so out of control…

PANEL 2

Hamish is slumped against his pulpit, gutted. Viciously. Someone went digging through his innards like a dog digging up a bone. And Damon stands over him, spattered with blood, knife in hand.

AGNES
Fucking hell.

DAMON
Oh, hello.
(bubble)
Who are you?

PANEL 3

Dirty OTS on Damon, Agnes dominant. Agnes points her ornate SAWED OFF SHOTGUN, Aequitas, at Damon. He has his hands up.

AGNES
I’m Sister Agnes Crabtree.
(bubble)
But you can call me “the old bitch with the shotgun pointed at your head.”

DAMON
I rather like “Agnes,” actually. It’s the sort of name you don’t hear much anymore. My name is Damon. I’d say I was pleased to meet you but I suspect the feeling isn’t mutual.

AGNES
I know you well by your works, Dark One.

PANEL 4

Wide shot on both. Agnes, keeping the gun trained on the submissive Damon, is sprinkling salt in a circle around his feet.

DAMON
You may have me confused with someone else. Actually, I could really use your help if you–
(bubble)
What are you doing?

AGNES
I’m binding your evil inside this circle.

DAMON
sigh
(bubble)
If you must. But know that the man who did this–and the man who murdered poor Chastity Cruikshank–is still at large, and bound to do something much worse if I’m not allowed to stop him.

PANEL 5

Medium two shot, Agnes dominant. She’s splashing holy water on the ground from a flask.

AGNES
You’re saying you have an accomplice?

DAMON
No, I’m not saying I–
(bubble)
sigh
(bubble)
Whatever.
(bubble)
Believe me or don’t, but just go to the slaughterhouse. Please. There may still be time to stop it.

 

PAGE 6 (SIX PANELS)

PANEL 1

Dirty shot, Damon foreground, watching Agnes retreat toward the door with her gun still trained on him.

PANEL 2

Same angle. Agnes is gone.

DAMON
What an asshole.

PANEL 3

Same angle. Damon snaps his fingers.

SFX: SNAP!

PANEL 4

Aerial shot of the church. The roof is EXPLODING outward.

BOX (AGNES)
You could smell evil on the kid like sewage, but that wasn’t what worried me.

BOX (AGNES)
It was the truth you could feel in his voice.

PANEL 5

Same angle. The smoke from the explosion is clearing. Damon is FLYING out of the hole, toward the camera.

BOX (AGNES)
I’m not sure what he was. “Demon” doesn’t feel right, but then “normal” is even further off the mark. So I’ll just call him “trouble” and move on until I can suss out what’s really happening in this rotten little berg.

BOX (AGNES)
I figured the Circle of Solomon would keep him sitting tight until I decided what to do with him. But even as I left I wondered if it would be enough.

PANEL 6

Inside the church. Tight on Agnes’ magic circle. It’s still perfectly intact.

BOX (AGNES)
‘Cause I’d figured wrong before.

 

PAGE 7 (SIX PANELS)

PANEL 1

Establishing shot of the slaughterhouse. Almost in silhouette. The setting sun makes it look almost like a gothic castle. Agnes is pulling up in the Holy Roller. She hears Doug singing from within…

BOX (AGNES)
The kid wasn’t of this realm, I knew that for sure. I didn’t know if he was the spawn of Satan, Hastur or whoever…

DOUG (O.P.)
Mammon, Dula, Nyarlothep and the Ringer of the Bell…

BOX (AGNES)
But I did know that the girl and the priest were missing the exact two parts you’d need to work some pretty serious dark mojo.

PANEL 2

Agnes moves slowly through the kill floor, her gun at the ready. No one’s around now but the skinned caracasses of the dead animals. She’s heading for a slightly-ajar door at the far end of the room…

BOX (AGNES)
And I knew that whatever he was, the kid was already packing enough mojo that he would never need to bother with something as base as Blood Magic. You could practically see reality splitting at the seams around him.

DOUG (O.P.)
…V’ass Tula Zeeba M’ach Do-Ell…

BOX (AGNES)
He was no run-of-the-mill Satanist.

PANEL 3

In the room. Doug is standing over a stone altar, holding a LIVER and an EYEBALL. He looks surprised to see Agnes standing in the doorway.

BOX (AGNES)
He was no Doug Cruikshank.

DOUG
And that’s how we make dark magic spells–
(bubble)
Oh. It’s you.

BOX (AGNES)
Virgin’s eye. Priest’s Liver. Bingo.

PANEL 4

Doug POINTS the knife at agnes and a BLAST OF SHADOWMAGIC emanates from the tip. She’s LEANING out of the way. It OBLITERATES the wall behind her.

SFX: VWOOOSH!

PANEL 5

Agnes gives him both barrels in the belly. It practically cuts him in half.

SFX: BLAM!

PANEL 6

Agnes stands over Doug as he utters his last words. His eyes are already rolling into his head.

DOUG
You’re…
(bubble)
…Too late…
(bubble)
…To stop…
(bubble)
…His rise…
(bubble)
…He’s bringing…
(bubble)
…Hell…
(bubble)
…To earth…

AGNES
Good news. You get a sneak peek.

PANEL 6.1 (THUMBNAIL)

Black.

SFX: BLAM!


PAGE 8 (FIVE PANELS)

PANEL 1

The Holy Roller screeches around one of the corners in sleepy little Hawthorne. It’s the dead of night now. It’s headlamps cast a dim glow on the town.

BOX (AGNES)
Of course. How did I not see it?

BOX (AGNES)
Ritual murders? Missing organs? This isn’t the work of one lone Satanic redneck. This is organized. This is a Summoning.

SFX: SCREECH!

PANEL 2

The Holy Roller pulls up outside the HAWTHORNE COMMUNITY HALL. A banner outside reads: “HAWTHORNE MEAT AUCTION — TONIGHT!”

BOX (AGNES)
But a summoning takes a crowd. A big one. But where do you hide a cult big enough to summon a demonic entity in a town of less than a thousand?

BOX (AGNES)
Trick question.

PANEL 3

Inside the community hall. All of the townsfolk wear grotesque animal masks. They gather around a HUGE CAGE full of crying children. A line of CULTISTS IN HOODED ROBES stand up on the stage, holding stone knives. One has a microphone. Low angle, dirty shot on Agnes stepping into the hall (Agnes FG, hall scene prominent MG and BG)

BOX (AGNES)
You don’t.

HOODED CULTIST WITH MIC
Now if everyone can settle down, we’ll do the meat auction first and proceed to the ritual sacrifice of the innocent. I hear Mister Dudsdale carved up a real prize sow for us this month!

BOX (AGNES)
You just kill or intimidate anyone who stands up to you. Like the priest. Like Chastity. Like the Sheriff.

PANEL 4

Medium shot on Agnes. She’s holding her shotgun in one hand and her bladed cruxifix-knuckle duster in the other. Ready for a fight. But her face is fixed. Solemn. Reverent.

BOX (AGNES)
Of course, it wouldn’t be very Christian of me to open fire without warning.

AGNES
“…Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren: And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal…”

BOX (AGNES)
So I give the ones who want to run enough time to get clear. And for the rest?

PANEL 5

One of the townsfolk grabs Agnes around the neck. She’s elbowing him in the face and blowing another’s head off with her shotgun.

BOX (AGNES)
I say let God sort them out.


PAGE 9 (FIVE PANELS)

PANEL 1

A MOB of townsfolk and a couple of the ROBED CULTISTS tackling Agnes. She’s stabbing and slashing at them with the crucifix bootknife, blasting one in half with the shotgun.

BOX (AGNES)
My little speech does it’s job. Scares them. Most hang back and gave me clear shots at the brave ones who come first.

BOX (AGNES)
There was a time I could have cleared a room like this without much trouble. There was a time when I could have taken out the punk who tried to flank me before he got too close.

PANEL 2

Wide shot, mostly silhouettes, illuminated only by the firing of Agnes’ gun. She’s lying almost on her back on a pile of bodies firing into a crowd of cultists and townsfolk rushing at her like a swarm of insects. One or two of them are dropping, but there’s a lot of them…

BOX (AGNES)
I was younger then.

PANEL 3

High angle of all the Cultists and Townsfolk overwhelming Agnes, dogpiling on top of her. Only her face is visible through the tangle of bodies. One of the Cultists has his knife raised far over his head, ready for the killing blow…

BOX (AGNES)
They pile on me and I feel my heart slow down. I accept God’s plan for me. I just wish the Motherfucker let me save the children first.

BOX (AGNES)
A thought stings me as I blaspheme the Lord in my mind. I don’t know if I’ll be sent to my reward or my punishment. Maybe I’ll get a bit of both. I would be content with that.

PANEL 4

Agnes’ pov. Fading. Her eyelid closing around the frame. All of the Cultists and Townsfolk are BLASTED off of Agnes by some unseen force. At the center, hand extended, commanding the power, is a small boy’s silhouette. He’s mostly in shadow, but it could be Damon…

BOX (AGNES)
Suddenly… A lightness. Somehow, they’re off me. I see the still shape of the kid in the eye of the storm, and I surprise myself with how happy I am to see him.

BOX (AGNES)
At least I think it’s him.

PANEL 5

Black.

BOX (AGNES)
But how could it be?

 

PAGE 10 (FIVE PANELS)

PANEL 1

Black with white text.

TEXT
One week later.

PANEL 2

Exterior establishing shot of the Order of the Burning Ram’s Horn. The Holy Roller is parked outside. Gabriel’s voice from within.

GABRIEL (O.P)
A dozen dead, two dozen injured, a hundred grand in property damage…
(bubble)
Look around, you Crabtree–you think we have that kind of money to throw around!?

PANEL 3

Inside. Gabriel leans against his desk with his arms crossed. He’s smoking. Agnes sits, her arm in a sling, head bandaged. She’s in rough shape, but she’s alright.

GABRIEL
Well? Aren’t you even going to ask forgiveness?

AGNES
Did the children survive?

GABRIEL

(bubble)
Yeah, they’re all fine. Rattled.  In FBI custody. But at least they didn’t get devoured by some demon lord.

AGNES
Then no. I’m not sorry.

PANEL 4
Gabriel, leaning in toward Agnes, pointing a finger in her face.

GABRIEL
That’s it! I didn’t want to do this, Crabtree, but you’re giving me no choice…
(bubble)
You’re getting a partner.

AGNES
You don’t have the authority!

GABRIEL
It’s not on my authority. This is straight from The Man Upstairs.

PANEL 4.1 (THUMBNAIL)

Tight on Gabriel’s face, grinning with malicious satisfaction.

GABRIEL
Oh, and look…
(bubble)
He’s already here.

PANEL 5

Agnes turns in her Chair to see DAMON standing in the doorway, hands crossed behind his back. He’s smiling pleasantly.

DAMON
Hello Agnes.

2 Responses to “Bad Habit episode 1: “Loose Canon””

  1. Francesca (@paranormalprose) August 12, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Nice script, Kyle. I heard Robin Williams died and then for some reason I thought of you. Probably because you were the only comic I knew in Calgary. Hope you’re OK. Stay safe in Toronto.

    • Kyle Francis August 12, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      Thanks Francesca. I appreciate the kind words, and the thought.

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