VOW TO KILL – chapterONE
A former intelligence operative has finally rebuilt his life after personal tragedy. Now, on the day of his wedding, he is forced into one last mission. The mystery somehow involves what happened on 9/11.
This is a character driven action thriller with a male lead in his 50s. There will be mystery and intrigue, alongside action and emotional drama.
For this experimental PICTUREplay format I will cast representatives for the characters. I hope with images and music the reading of a screenplay is more entertaining for those unfamiliar with the format.
(click, listen, scroll – ENNIO MORRICONE from THE THING)
Pages 1 – 9
V O W T O K I L L
copyright, all rights reserved, 2014
The sound of driving over gravel.
A van door opens. Ruffling. A muffled groan.
EXT. GRAVEL ROAD – DAY
A blindfold is removed.
The sun blares with a blinding intensity.
A bound man, CASSIDY (50s), comes to awareness. He squints.
A long gravel road. Parched trees and abandoned buildings line the near horizon.
Cassidy hears the truck door close. He rolls to his side and cranks his neck.
He watches a black truck with tinted windows speed away, spitting up gravel and blooming a dusty trail.
Cassidy calmly examines his surroundings.
A few articles were left behind: bottled water, a notebook, and a suit in a protective sleeve.
Cassidy struggles against his bindings. His shirt and tie are dirty and wrinkled.
His wrists are wrapped with cordage.
He edges his belt around until the buckle is in his grasp.
He undoes the belt and uses the fastening pin to pull apart his wrist bindings.
He twists it between the coils until it loosens enough to free himself.
A digitized melody breaks the silence – the ring tone of a cell phone. The song: 1980s hit “Pop Goes the World.”
Cassidy looks for the source of the song, as it continues.
He unzips the protective sleeve to reveal a tuxedo.
His eyes light up.
CASSIDY The wedding?
The phone keeps “ringing”. He checks the outside vest pocket. Nothing.
He reaches to the inside pocket, and retrieves a small flip phone from over a decade ago.
The small screen reads: NEW MESSAGE.
Cassidy lowers his brow, perplexed. He checks his surroundings again. No one. He’s alone.
He checks the message. It’s a series of four photos, each arrives to the phone with a chime.
1 – A cottage lake. The water ripples. Serene.
2 – A tall attractive brunette (40s) stands on a dock.
Cassidy brings the phone closer. He can’t believe it. He shakes his head. He fights his emotions.
3 – A closer image: the woman, MARILYN, smiles.
4 – Way too close on the woman’s face. Pixelated.
The phone shakes in Cassidy’s hand. He’s confused. In awe.
He shuffles his feet, spinning around.
The phone chimes again. A text message. Cassidy reads it.
” she still lives ”
Cassidy shakes his head, trying to clear away the confusion.
Another message arrives.
” contact no one = no police – no military ”
” just me – n you ”
Cassidy clumps to the ground. Anxiety fills him. He catches his breath.
Another message arrives.
” look 2 the book for answers ”
Cassidy turns his attention to the weathered notebook.
The book has a hard cover with an intricate design pattern.
The book is bound with a few thick elastics to keep it together. Loose pages stick out of the edges.
Another message arrives.
” wedding starts soon ”
” tick tock ”
Cassidy tightens his grip on the phone.
He looks to the tux. His brow lowers. Anger sets in.
Cassidy steps to the book, bends, and snatches it up.
(click, listen, scroll – NELLY FURTADO)
INT. HOUSE – MORNING – YESTERDAY
Cassidy snatches up the newspaper.
He’s clean shaven and fresh.
He sips a mug of coffee as he reads the paper in his middle-class kitchen.
MELODY (OS) Come on. It’s on Saturday.
Cassidy lowers the paper to see his teenage step-daughter,
MELODY (15). She wears a t-shirt for the band EVANESCENCE.
Her arms are crossed, unimpressed.
MELODY (CONT.) Don’t try and ignore me.
CASSIDY Did you ask your mom?
MELODY She said to ask you.
CASSIDY I don’t think so, Melody.
MELODY Please, dad. You know she won’t lemme go.
CASSIDY Dad? You sure know how to butter me up. But it’s not up to me.
MELODY Come on. Why not?
CASSIDY Who are you going with?
MELODY Courtney and Kurt and Mandy and Liam and–
CASSIDY Alright, alright. Does your mom know these boys?
MELODY Ya. And girls.
CASSIDY Maybe you should wait until after the wedding. Ask her when she’s really really happy.
MELODY (laughs) Good idea. Thanks.
CASSIDY Here she comes.
MELODY Right… Radio silence.
Melody’s mother, JANET (late 40s), walks into the kitchen. She’s fussing with her long blonde hair.
JANET How’s it look?
CASSIDY Looks good.
JANET “Good”? Good? That’s–
MELODY Mom, chill, the roots look great. No greys or nuthin.
JANET (laughs) Just you wait, Melody. One day this will be you.
MELODY Ya, one day… like a hundred years from now.
CASSIDY Come on now, Mel.
Cassidy puts his arm around Janet. Affectionate.
MELODY I’m just jokin, ma. You look beautiful. Can I have twenty bucks?
JANET You see how she just flipped that?
CASSIDY She’s your daughter, Janet.
Janet playfully punches Cassidy in the arm.
JANET Just for one more day. Then this little nuisance is both of ours.
CASSIDY (obnoxious) “The horror… the horror”.
MELODY Only for a few more years. Then I’m outta your super awesome blonde – not grey at all – hair for good.
JANET We can only hope.
MELODY Not like, Thomas.
Janet and Melody share a laugh. Cassidy isn’t so impressed.
(click, listen, scroll – WAIT AND BLEED by SLIPKNOT)
INT. BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS
A framed family photo of Cassidy, with a teenage son, and that same woman from the phone photos – Marilyn.
The photo rests on a desk littered with papers and DVDs.
Aggressive heavy metal music plays in the background.
A young man sits at the desk breaking apart a bud of marijuana on a CD case for the band SLIPKNOT.
It’s the same teen from the photo, THOMAS, a few years older now (19) and his hair a lot longer.
His walls are lined with rock and roll posters like BLACK SABBATH, THE STOOGES, JOY DIVISION, etc.
Another wall has several old photos framed. One shows a young Thomas with his parents on a lake with a dock.
Another photo of Cassidy in military fatigues with several fellow soldiers. His dogtags hang from the frame.
Another shows a younger Thomas dressed as RAMBO for Halloween alongside his smiling mother.
A few papers litter the desk: rejection letters from colleges, and a rejection from the military.
Thomas goes about his task with intent, bobbing his head to the loud music.
(click, listen, scroll – SCOTT JOPLIN from THE STING)
EXT. HOUSE – CONTINUOUS
A small sub-division lined with two story houses.
Cassidy and Janet sit on a bench on the front porch. Janet is nestled into him. He kisses her forehead.
CASSIDY She really wants to see them.
JANET It’s a rock concert, Cass. You remember what those are like?
CASSIDY She’s old enough.
JANET That’s what worries me.
CASSIDY Let her go, Janet. It will be good for us.
CASSIDY Yeah. All of us.
JANET We’ll see. Lemme think on it.
The front door opens. Thomas exits.
CASSIDY Where ya goin, son?
CASSIDY Don’t be gone all night. We got an early start.
Thomas puts on his large headphones and dismisses them.
Thomas walks down the laneway. Loud music seeps through his headphones and pollutes the silence.
Cassidy looks to Janet. She seems worried. He shrugs.
JANET At least you got a word out of him.
CASSIDY He’ll come around. The wedding. It’s bringing up a lot of emotions.
JANET I just wish he would talk to us. Maybe we could help.
CASSIDY He’s not much for words.
JANET I wonder where he got that from.
CASSIDY Yeah. But I’ve got you. That helped a bit.
JANET A bit?
Then they watch the morning breeze ruffle the trees and bushes of their well-manicured front yard.
(click, listen, scroll – old school JERRY GOLDSMITH from THE SWARM)
EXT. GRAVEL ROAD – TODAY
Cassidy stands on that dusty gravel road. Alone. The breeze blowing sand and grit into his face.
He holds that strange notebook. He unravels the elastics and opens it up.
The notebook is filled with strange notes made in heavy black ink. The notes are in ARABIC.
He flips through the pages. Every now and again, a number stands out amongst the Arabic text.
Cassidy closes the notebook and wraps the elastic around it.
He scans his surroundings again.
He notices a vacated vehicle 100 meters away.
His phone chimes off again. A phone call. He answers.
CASSIDY Who is this?
VOICE (distorted) This is a recording. Do not contact anyone regarding this matter. Lives are at stake.
Cassidy spins on the spot, looking for someone on a phone.
No one. Just the long road and the abandoned area.
VOICE (CONT.) Your wedding. Today. All will end. Do not doubt my instructions. You have until 3PM to comply to my wishes. If you are successful, by the end of the night, you will have made your vows and all will be well. Ignore my instruction and the results will be quite fatal.
CASSIDY What do you want?
VOICE We all make vows that we promise to never break. To our brothers in arms. To the ones we love. Your wife is alive. I don’t need to remind you of the vows you made to her. If you want to know where she is you must listen to me.
VOICE It’s quite a moral dilemma isn’t it, Cassidy. Do you still love your wife? Or have you really moved on?
CASSIDY No. She’s dead. You’re lyin–
VOICE Your training molded you into the perfect killing machine. Today. You prove it.
CASSIDY Who are you?
VOICE I repeat. This is a recording. If you seek answers as to my identity follow this mission through. Listen carefully. First, you must take the car and follow the directions inside. Tomorrow, you will continue with a second phase.
CASSIDY Imposs– Marilyn?
VOICE The notebook has all the answers. Fail this mission and the women you love die. Your family dies. The wedding will be engulfed in flames. Do not doubt me. Now, go to the vehicle. And… don’t forget your tux.
The phone call ends.
Cassidy, frustrated, stops himself from throwing the phone.
CASSIDY (loosing hope) Oh God.
He composes himself, and looks to the phone. The called I.D. reads “Unknown”.
The phone chimes again. A photo.
INSERT PHOTO: Bridesmaids drape a cloth over a long table.
Another photo: Janet, smiling with her bridesmaids.
Another: a bomb with a timer – less than 7 hours remaining.
The final photo is timestamped: 08:36AM, 09/10/01 (September 10th, 2001).
to be continued…
would you like the finished script in pdf format?
email me = thelastfountain ( at ) gmail
What do you think?
Are you a fan of these character focused thrillers with an older lead?
Would you watch a thriller with a mystery involving 9/11? Or is that just too controversial?
Would you like to read more? The action kicks into gear during the first phase of Cassidy’s mission. He also befriends an unlikely ally for his journey.