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ELF'S EVE
by Michael Ciardi (mciardi@franklinboe.org)

Rated: R   Genre: Horror   User Review:
NOT YET
RATED

It's Christmas, and there's a new brand of terror lurking in the snow-laden town of East Mill. After a family is savagely slaughtered on Christmas morning, a pursuit to find the culprit begins. But just who or what is responsible for this crime, and when will it happen again? For the naughty ones, Elf's Eve will be the most terrifying night of their lives.


This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



ELF'S EVE

FADE IN:

EXT. SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD - NIGHT
                                                            
Snow accumulates on deciduous tree limbs and pine hedges.
There's an assemblage of cookie-cutter residences, differing
only in their stone facades and landscaping. Illuminated
Christmas lights and seasonal decorations accent the yards
of most of these houses.
                                                            
 
EXT. NELSONS' HOUSE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
A modest home is ornamented with an array of multicolored
Christmas lights and NEON reindeer. An illuminated image of
SANTA CLAUS and various cartoon ELVES overwhelm the front
yard. A snow-coated mailbox is positioned at the driveway's
end. It reveals the homeowner's name in gold lettering:
NELSON.
                                                            
 
INT. NELSONS' HOUSE, FOYER - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
A marble-tiled floor is artificially lit by a reflection of
blinking Christmas lights, revealing a spillage of FRESH
BLOOD near the front door. A trail of naked, bloody
footprints pads away from the marble floor toward an
adjacent room.
                                                            
 
INT. NELSONS' HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
An assortment of Christmas tree bulbs are scattered over the
floor. The rug is marred with signs of a bloody struggle.
The sound of a young female is heard QUIVERING in the
background. Between a pattern of blinking Christmas lights,
the corpse of MR. NELSON, a middle-aged man, is lying prone
on the carpet. He wears only a pair of sweatpants. Bloody
stab wounds cover his back; blood forms an inky pool beneath
his lifeless torso. Just past his legs, there is a -
                                                            
LIVING ROOM CHAIR
                                                            
Upon the stained cushion, the blood-soiled, bare feet of
SAMANTHA "SAMMY" NELSON appear tucked against the
sixteen-year-old's body. She is a thin, pasty-skinned girl.
She wears a white cotton nightgown displaying colored candy
canes on the fabric. Her clothing and skin are desecrated by
spattered blood. She sobs with her hands latched around her
knees.
                                                            

2.

                       SAMMY
      (trance-like)
I've been a good girl this
year...a very good girl.
                                                            
The girl's eyes appear fixated on the white lights of a -
                                                            
CHRISTMAS TREE
                                                            
It is a ornately decorated evergreen, replete with twinkling
lights, ribbons and a collection of fancy ornaments. Among
these trimmings, a TOY ElF, made of scarlet cloth and
porcelain, is positioned between the tree's branches. The
elf's FACE is colored ghostly white, save for its mossy
green eyes and redolent cheeks. Its painted smile makes it
look somehow malevolent.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. NELSONS' HOUSE - MORNING
                                                            
(CHRISTMAS DAY)
                                                            
Morning sunlight shines behind the home's facade. The CHERRY
GLOW of police and ambulance lights reflect of the snowy
yard and its festive decorations. An ambulance and three
police cars are parked in the driveway. A band of yellow
crime scene tape is already strung along the property's
perimeter. Several POLICE OFFICERS and EMS WORKERS mill
about the property.
                                                            
 
EXT. NELSONS' HOUSE, FRONT PORCH - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
A bleary-eyed, thirty-something police detective, AMY
HARDEN, leans against the open front door. She is an
attractive woman, but her sable hair shows flecks of
premature grey. She appears sullen as she cast a blank stare
toward the -
                                                            
STREET
                                                            
A black jeep pulls up methodically against the snowy
curbside. Stenciled lettering on the Jeep's doors reads:
EAST MILL - HOMICIDE DIVISION.
                                                            
                       AMY (O.S.)
      (muttering to
       herself)
It's about freakin' time.
                                                            
 

3.

INT. JEEP - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Homicide detective ROSS ANDERS, approximately 50-years-old,
sits nearly motionless within the cluttered compartment of
his vehicle. He is unshaven and disheveled. His collared
shirt is visibly wrinkled as he sips hot coffee from a
Styrofoam cup.
                                                            
 
EXT. STREET/NELSONS' DRIVEWAY - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Ross exits his vehicle with the coffee cup in hand. He
hobbles with a distinct limp up the driveway. He's garbed in
a leather jacket to shield himself from the chilled air. A
young male OFFICER acknowledges Ross with a nod of his chin.
The officer's expression is visibly grim.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (motioning toward
       house)
How's things lookin' in there?
                                                            
                       OFFICER
      (a beat; solemn)
Not pretty, sir. Not pretty at
all.
                                                            
                       ROSS
Figures. 'Tis the season.
                                                            
                       OFFICER
      (pointing to front
       porch)
Detective Harden is waiting for
you, sir.
                                                            
Ross shoots a quick look at Amy. She is clearly upset. Her
arms are folded across her chest.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (winks)
She's always waitin' for me, kid.
                                                            
 
EXT. NELSONS' HOUSE, FRONT PORCH - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Ross joins Amy on the platform in front of the door. Amy's
eyes are reddened by tears. She's trying to suppress her
emotion.
                                                            
                       AMY
You might want to brace yourself
before going inside, Ross.
                                                            

4.

                       ROSS
Give me a body count.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (a beat; morbid)
Four. But two of them were just
kids.
                                                            
Ross takes a final gulp of his coffee and crushes the empty
container in his hand. He then proceeds toward the front
entrance.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (disgusted)
Christ. On Christmas, no less.
      (softer voice)
Is that why you're cryin', Harden?
                                                            
                       AMY
      (lowering head)
Yeah. I guess so.
                                                            
 
INT. NELSONS' HOUSE, FOYER - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Ross crosses over the blood-splattered foyer with Amy at his
heels. A glass Christmas bulb SHATTERS under the weight of
Ross's foot. His direction pivots towards the -
                                                            
CORPSE IN LIVING ROOM
                                                            
Mr. Nelson's half-naked torso lies in a pool of coagulated
blood. Enough daylight filters through a window to reveal
the fatal wounds. There is no weapon visible.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (examining crime
       scene)
This, I presume, is Mr. Nelson.
He's been dead for at least five
hours.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (checking a
       notepad)
Sounds about right. First
emergency call came in at around
four A.M.
                                                            

5.

                       ROSS
      (perplexed)
Who called it in?
                                                            
                       AMY
Good question. No one spoke to the
dispatcher, but they traced the
call here.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (inspecting corpse)
Any murder weapon found?
                                                            
                       AMY
Nothing yet. Looks like some kind
of knife, though.
                                                            
Ross appears disgruntled as he kneels next to the waxy
corpse. He then swipes a line of sweat away from his
forehead with his jacket's sleeve.
                                                            
                       ROSS
What about the girl?
                                                            
                       AMY
      (shaking her head)
She's not talkin'.
                                                            
Ross stands up. His expression is one of dread and weariness
as he stares at the -
                                                            
CHRISTMAS TREE
                                                            
The tree's ornaments glimmer in the morning sunlight; it
appears as it had earlier, save for one detail: the toy elf
is no longer visible among the tree's branches.
                                                            
                       ROSS (O.S.)
Where are the other bodies?
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       AMY
      (a beat; morose)
Upstairs.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (limping toward
       foyer)
Look at it this way, Harden. Now
you've got a helluva good reason
to hate Christmas as much as I do.
                                                            
 

6.

INT. NELSONS' HOUSE, UPSTAIRS CORRIDOR - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
A muted stream of light angles into the corridor as Ross
pauses in front of an open door with a child's bloody hand
print smeared on the exterior side. Amy is standing adjacent
to Ross, looking increasingly forlorn.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (motioning to door)
I just can't wrap my mind around
this.
      (rhetorically)
What kind of a psychopath butchers
a little kid like that?
                                                            
Ross tentatively clutches the doorknob and edges the door
open. He winces at what awaits his eyes within the bedroom.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (appallingly)
Jesus almighty.
                                                            
Ross closes the door and tilts his body against the adjacent
wall. His face is now speckled with perspiration.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (sighing deeply)
Where are the other two victims?
                                                            
                       AMY
Down the hall--master bedroom.
                                                            
                       ROSS
Mother and daughter?
                                                            
                       AMY
It's lookin' that way.
                                                            
 
INT. NELSONS' HOUSE, MASTER BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Ross and Amy angle beside the bed and cast morose stares at
the body of MRS. NELSON. She is sprawled out on the
blood-saturated bed linen. The dead woman's eyes are open;
her countenance displays both pain and shock. Gory gashes in
her forehead, cheeks, and throat indicate a savage assault.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (matter-of-factly)
Poor woman was still asleep when
the attacker got her. Never saw it
comin'.
                                                            

7.

                       AMY
How can you be sure?
                                                            
Ross directs Amy's attention to the woman's hands, arms, and
legs. The skin on her extremities is absent of any apparent
wounds.
                                                            
                       ROSS
No defense wounds.
                                                            
Ross hobbles to the opposite side of the bed. On the
carpeting, lying prone, is a FEMALE CHILD, approximately
twelve-years-old. A discernible slice in her neck marks the
fatal wound.
                                                            
                       ROSS (cont'd)
Looks like they were all murdered
with the same kind of weapon.
                                                            
Ross casually lifts his head toward the unshaded window
adjacent to the bed. He peers -
                                                            
OUTSIDE WINDOW
                                                            
The view overlooks the front yard and driveway. An ambulance
is visible with its doors open. POLICE OFFICERS and MEDICS
commingle around Sammy, who is sitting upright on a
stretcher. She looks sedated and her posture is slumped.
                                                            
                       ROSS (O.S.) (cont'd)
You said there's no clear sign of
a break-in?
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       AMY
We didn't find anything suspicious
yet.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (turning from
       window)
Maybe we're not searchin' in the
right place.
                                                            
 
EXT. NELSONS' HOUSE, DRIVEWAY - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Ross and Amy approach the ambulance, where Sammy reclines on
a stretcher. Her expression is devoid of emotion, almost as
if she's staring into a mirror. Several medics check her
over, although the girl has no visible wounds. Amy is
anxious to stop Ross from confronting Sammy too abruptly.
                                                            

8.

                       AMY
Ross, maybe we should just back
off for now. The kid has been
through a lot already.
                                                            
Ross pauses in his gait momentarily, but he is miffed.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (sardonic)
Are we gonna wait until they lift
her prints off the goddamn murder
weapon before we start asking
tough questions?
                                                            
                       AMY
We haven't even found a weapon
yet. Let's just do our jobs--the
right way, okay?
                                                            
Ross is irritated, but he realizes that Amy has made a valid
point. Ross then pats his shirt and jacket pockets in
frustration. He discovers that he has no cigarettes.
                                                            
                       ROSS
Hey, you got a cigarette on you?
                                                            
                       AMY
I thought you quit?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (a beat; winking)
You know me, Harden, I never quit
anything.
                                                            
 
EXT. HOSPITAL - LATER
                                                            
The building is located in a suburban area. The sign at the
front entrance reads: EAST MILL MEDICAL CENTER. Ross's jeep
is parked in the emergency lane near the hospital's front
doors.
                                                            
 
INT. HOSPITAL - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Ross limps into the brightly lit reception area and
approaches a stone-faced, middle-aged NURSE stationed behind
a desk. The nurse taps her fingers methodically on a
keyboard and peers at a computer's monitor.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (displaying his
       badge and ID)
They brought a girl in here a few
            (MORE)

9.

                       ROSS (cont'd)
hours ago...her name is Samantha
Nelson. I need to see her right
away.
                                                            
                       NURSE
The patient's sedated, sir. No
visitors...
      (inspects badge)
...and that includes the police.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (frustrated)
You don't understand. This is
police business and I...
                                                            
                       NURSE
      (interrupting)
Oh, I understand perfectly,
Detective. Now, if you don't mind,
I have my own business to conduct.
No visitors. You'll have to wait.
                                                            
The nurse motions to a seating area situated behind the
desk. The vinyl seats are filled with various PEOPLE, some
of them appearing increasingly disgruntled. Suddenly, a
woman in her early forties, HELEN RILEY, approaches Ross
from behind. She is a petite and well-groomed lady with a
voice that belies her stature.
                                                            
                       HELEN
Excuse me...Detective?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (pivoting toward
       Helen)
Bingo. That's me. Detective
Anders, from homicide.
                                                            
                       HELEN
I heard you mention that you
wanted to see Samantha Nelson.
                                                            
Ross squares around to face Helen. He offers her a polite
grin as he tucks his badge and ID back into his leather
jacket.
                                                            
                       HELEN (cont'd)
May I ask why you want to see her?
                                                            
                       ROSS
That depends, ma'am. Who are you?
                                                            

10.

                       HELEN
I'm Helen Riley. Samantha's aunt.
                                                            
Ross lowers his head, hoping to convey the proper form of
remorse under the circumstances.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (somber)
My condolences, Miss Riley. I'm
very sorry...
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (interrupting)
Were you at my sister's house this
morning?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (nodding slightly)
Yes, I was.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (tearfully)
Who could've done something so
horrible, Detective?
                                                            
                       ROSS
That's precisely what I intend to
find out.
                                                            
Ross reaches back into his jacket and pulls forth a clean
handkerchief; he then offers it to Helen. She shakes her
head and attempts to restrain her emotions.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (sobbing)
My niece comes from such a
wonderful, loving home. I still
can't believe this has happened.
I...I'm sorry to be...so...
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (interrupting)
No need to apologize. I know how
difficult this ordeal must be for
you.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (wiping tears away)
Oh, I sincerely hope you never
know the level of pain I feel
right now. But at the risk of
sounding blunt, why do you want to
talk to Sammy?
                                                            

11.

Ross attempts to stand straighter, but he avoids direct eye
contact with Helen.
                                                            
                       ROSS
Just some routine questions.
Standard procedure under these
circumstances, really.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (emphatically)
I don't believe you. You think my
niece has done something terrible,
don't you?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (stepping back
       from Helen)
I'm not suggesting that, Miss
Riley. All I know is that she's
the only one from that house who's
still alive. I need some answers.
                                                            
Helen inches forward and clutches the sleeves of Ross's
jacket with her hands. Her tightening grip defines her
demeanor.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (adamant)
Listen to me, Detective. Sammy
loved her parents. She adored her
younger brother and sister. I
don't even know if she realizes
what has happened, but I need to
protect her.
                                                            
                       ROSS
Do you want to help me find out
who murdered your sister and her
family, Miss Riley?
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (a beat;
       reluctantly)
I do, but not today. Sammy needs
to rest. I won't permit you to
discuss any of this with her now.
                                                            
Ross senses the determination in Helen's intense eyes and
offers her a consolatory pat on her shoulder. He then
reaches into his pocket and hands her his business card.
                                                            

12.

                       ROSS
When you're ready to help, call
me.
                                                            
 
EXT. HOSPITAL'S FRONT ENTRANCE - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Ross is standing wearily beside his jeep. He doesn't
immediately see Amy approaching him on the sidewalk with a
pack of cigarettes in her hand.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (flips cigarettes
       to Ross)
Don't ever say I didn't get you
anything for Christmas, Scrooge.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (catching the pack)
You're a real bad influence. You
know that, Harden?
                                                            
                       AMY
So what's the deal with the Nelson
girl? Did she say anything yet?
                                                            
Ross tucks the pack of cigarettes into his jacket's pocket
and proceeds to open the door of his jeep.
                                                            
                       ROSS
Not to me.
                                                            
                       AMY
Well, I've got some more bad news
for you. Forensics can't find any
prints in the house. Looks like
the place has been wiped as clean
as a baby's ass.
                                                            
Ross leans his head against the open door's window,
releasing an exasperated sigh that sums up his futility.
                                                            
                       AMY (cont'd)
We got no evidence on her, Ross.
Maybe she's innocent.
                                                            
                       ROSS
And maybe I'm fuckin' Santa Claus.
                                                            
                       AMY
Seriously, what do you want to do
next?
                                                            

13.

                       ROSS
Honestly? Go home and chug a quart
of rum-laced eggnog.
      (patting his
       pocket)
I might even indulge in the
cancerous gift you just gave me.
                                                            
                       AMY
You really know how to make a
woman feel warm and fuzzy, you
know that, Ross?
                                                            
Ross plops inside his jeep and yanks his keys from his
bluejeans. He offers Amy a sly smile before inserting the
key into the jeep's ignition.
                                                            
                       ROSS
That's exactly what my ex-wife
never told me, Harden.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (meekly)
I'd wish you a merry Christmas,
but I suppose it's already too
late for that, huh?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (a beat; smirking)
It's always too late for
formalities. Now get the hell out
of here.
                                                            
Ross closes the jeep's door and starts the engine. Amy
watches him drive away from the hospital.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. RURAL ROAD - DAY
                                                            
(DECEMBER - 12 MONTHS LATER)
                                                            
A sports utility vehicle DRIVES along an otherwise barren
road. The vehicle is first seen between the bare tree limbs
that border the pavement. A layer of frost coats the
surrounding landscape, which glistens beneath unobstructed
sunlight.
                                                            
 

14.

INT. SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE - DAY
                                                            
LAINE CALLISTER, a forty-something, exceptionally attractive
woman, is driving the SUV. She wears fashionable sunglasses
and winter attire; her professionally groomed hair and
makeup reveal meticulous preening habits. She looks to -
                                                            
ROADSIDE SIGN
                                                            
It reads: ROUTE 46: WEST MILL.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.)
Shouldn't be too far ahead.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Laine pivots her head toward the passenger seat, where her
seventeen-year-old daughter PAIGE sits with her smartphone
in hand, texting mechanically. Paige, like her mother, is
pretty, fashionable, and image conscious.
                                                            
                       LAINE (cont'd)
      (playfully;
       motions at phone)
Is that thing glued to your palm
24-7?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (rolling eyes)
You sound like my teachers.
                                                            
                       LAINE
I was hoping to sound like your
mother. Now put that thing away
for two minutes and help me find
this place. Lover boy can wait.
                                                            
Paige grins awkwardly and sets the phone on her lap. She
then pushes her hair back behind her ear and lifts her head,
studying the road alongside her mother.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (pointing at
       windshield)
Hey, Mom, I think that might be it
up ahead.
                                                            
GIFT SHOP
                                                            
A weathered, dilapidated structure is isolated in an unpaved
parking lot. A faded shingle on the facade reads: MILLIE'S
ATTIC.
                                                            

15.

                       LAINE (O.S.)
Looks almost deserted.
                                                            
 
EXT. GIFT SHOP, PARKING AREA - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
The SUV pulls into a graveled section. A CRUNCH of the
frozen ground surface announces their arrival. Just one
BLACK car with TINTED WINDOWS is parked in the surrounding
area.
                                                            
 
INT. SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
A GPS mounted on the SUV's dashboard verifies in a
computerized British accent: "You have arrived at your
destination." Laine turns off the vehicle's engine.
                                                            
                       LAINE
I still think goin' to the mall
would've been a better idea.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (huffy)
I already told you, Mom, they
don't have this thing I'm lookin'
for at the mall. Steve told me
this is the only place around that
has one.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (joking)
Pewter dragons? Is there anything
you won't do for that boyfriend of
yours, Paige?
      (a beat; opening
       car door)
Strike that...forget I ever asked.
                                                            
Paige smirks devilishly to herself as she stares at her
smartphone's screen.
                                                            
 
EXT. GIFT SHOP - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Laine and Paige walk abreast toward the shop's front
entrance. Laine isn't thrilled with the shack's unkempt
appearance. The dwelling looks as though it hasn't been
painted in thirty years. Even the glass in the shop's front
window is cracked and hazy.
                                                            

16.

                       LAINE
Let's hope it has more charm on
the inside.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I think the place has character.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (under her breath)
If by 'character' you mean
targeted for demolition, I'd say
you're right on the money.
                                                            
 
INT. GIFT SHOP - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
An old-fashioned ribbon of tin bells JINGLE as the door
opens. Laine and Paige step through the threshold. The
shop's ambiance is dimly lit, almost as if by candlelight.
The planked floor within is not much larger than a two-car
garage. Lopsided shelves are laden with secular trinkets,
candles; astrological-themed mobiles hang from a beamed
ceiling. Unusual silver or topaz jewelry and gee-gaws
overlap one another on the counter space alongside boxes of
random novelty items.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (crinkling nose;
       whispering)
Well, it certainly smells like an
attic in here.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I thought you liked antiques?
                                                            
                       LAINE
Antiques, yes...junk, no.
                                                            
WALL BEHIND COUNTER
                                                            
Silver and pewter plaques and murals with pentagrams are
fixated from hooks in corkboard. Ankhs, crosses, and fish
symbols are all represented in numerous sizes of wall art.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (O.S.)
      (whispering to
       herself)
Looks like a Wiccan's wet dream in
here.
                                                            

17.

RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Laine is preoccupied, peering between the three aisles of
miscellaneous merchandize.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Paige)
Does anybody work in this
place...?
      (calling aloud)
...Hello...is anyone here? You
have customers waiting.
                                                            
A SHUFFLING noise is heard in the background. Laine and
Paige's attention are drawn to a doorway strung with a
bamboo curtain.
                                                            
BEHIND THE COUNTER
                                                            
A plump, elderly female, MILLIE, emerges in shadow behind a
pentagram-designed curtain of beads. The eccentric
proprietor is about 70-years-old. She lumbers through the
archway attired in a shimmery lavender house dress, laden
with silver pendants and bronze custom jewelry.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.) (cont'd)
      (to Millie)
Hello...are you open today?
                                                            
Millie displays a misshapen column of tawny teeth as she
pushes her grizzled hair behind her shoulders. Her eyes are
marred with cataracts and her face is as coarse as used
sandpaper.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (hint of German
       accent)
Doors here are always open, Madam.
      (approaches
       counter)
Welcome to Millie's Attic.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Paige edges a few steps away from the counter and glances at
an arrangement of metal and glass figurines aligned on a
nearby shelf.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (to Millie)
Pretty awesome place you have
here.
                                                            

18.

                       LAINE
      (to Millie)
Are you the owner?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
In the flesh.
      (simpers; clutches
       hips)
And a fair portion of it, I might
add.
      (a beat; proudly)
Been in business for twenty-six
years now, give or take a
calender's page.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Really? At this location?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
No, Madam. I'm a vagabond soul by
nature.
      (widening her
       smile)
Now what can I help you lovely
ladies with today?
                                                            
There's a moment of awkward silence before Paige remembers
what she is searching for.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
My boyfriend collects medieval
dragons--the metal kind. I heard
you have some pretty decent ones
here.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (admonishing tone)
Boyfriend? My, My, child, you
can't be too far out of pigtails.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (offended)
I'm seventeen. And I've never worn
pigtails.
                                                            
Paige glares at her mother uncomfortably before turning away
from Millie.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Millie)
You know how teenagers are
nowadays. I've told her she's too
young to get so serious with a
            (MORE)

19.

                       LAINE (cont'd)
boy, but what do I know, right?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (reminiscently)
Ah, who am I to berate fresh love?
If I remember rightly, it never
tastes much sweeter. Besides, if
the young man likes dragons he
can't be all that horrible.
                                                            
Millie raises her hand, JANGLING her bracelets as she points
to the farthest corner of the aisle closest to Paige.
                                                            
                       MILLIE (cont'd)
You'll find a good selection of my
metallic friends down at that end,
dearie.
                                                            
 
INT. GIFT SHOP'S AISLE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Paige paces tentatively down the narrowing aisle. Cobwebs
and dust layer a good portion of the trinkets. Some old
books with pentagrams on the covers catch her eye.
                                                            
WOODEN SHELF
                                                            
An assortment of pewter castles, knights, and dragons are
arranged on a single shelf. The metallic dragons' glass eyes
are colored red, blue, yellow, and green. Paige's -
                                                            
HAND
                                                            
lifts the dragon piece with green eyes off the shelf.
                                                            
 
INT. GIFT SHOP'S COUNTER - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Millie watches Laine inspect an assortment of paintings and
wood carvings behind the counter. Laine is embarrassed, yet
intrigued, by some of the overtly sexual depictions of
partially clad or nude women worshiping phallic symbols in
various landscapes.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (observing Laine's
       reaction)
Not to your liking, I gather?
                                                            

20.

                       LAINE
      (joking)
Well, those images definitely
caught my eye.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
Maybe you'd appreciate viewing
something a bit more festive.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (a beat; demurely)
Yes. Something with far fewer
"dragons" will do.
                                                            
Millie proceeds gingerly toward a cabinet behind the counter
strung with BLINKING Christmas lights. The contents of this
cabinet are hidden by a black velvet cloth. Millie grabs the
cloth with her hand as if demonstrating a magician's trick.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (snapping the
       cloth away from
       cabinet)
I display these items just for the
holidays.
                                                            
THE CABINET
                                                            
It displays at least 10, eight-inch stuffed dolls of Santa
Claus, reindeer, snowmen, and a variety of other secular
Christmas decorations. One toy in particular is conspicuous
from the others: it is a replica of a holiday elf, replete
with a scarlet-colored costume with silver bells and a
mischievous smile.
                                                            
                       MILLIE (O.S.) (cont'd)
      (in reference to
       items)
Splendid, aren't they? They're all
hand-stitched--straight from
Germany.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Laine shifts closer to the counter to observe the assortment
of toys. She focuses on -
                                                            
THE TOY ELF
                                                            
Despite being partially concealed by the other dolls, the
elf's dark emerald eyes are amazingly lifelike, which sets
it apart from the other stuffed creations.
                                                            

21.

                       LAINE (O.S.)
They're all very cute.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
After a few seconds of inspection, Laine points to the elf
doll.
                                                            
                       LAINE (cont'd)
      (gleeful)
I really like that one--the elf.
                                                            
Millie nudges the other dolls aside and cradles the
scarlet-garbed toy in her hand. She eyeballs it as lovingly
as a mother gazing at her newborn infant.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (petting the toy's
       soft cloth)
Oh, this one is a favorite of
mine...very special, indeed.
      (paces over to
       counter)
In fact, I'd say there's no other
elf quite like this little helper.
                                                            
Millie sets the elf upright on the counter so that it
appears to look across to Laine with a smile etched in
merriment.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (touching the elf)
None of the stores can keep these
hiding elves in stock. Is this
your last one?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
It's my only one.
                                                            
Millie observes Laine as she picks the toy elf up off the
counter. Laine turns the doll over in her hand, apparently
looking for something.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (puzzled)
I don't see a price tag. How much
does it cost?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (sly)
That's negotiable, of course.
                                                            

22.

Laine purposely sets the elf back down on the counter
between Millie's wrinkled hands.
                                                            
                       LAINE
It really is unique, but I'm just
about finished with my Christmas
shopping anyway.
                                                            
Millie's attention suddenly shifts beyond Laine's shoulder,
where -
                                                            
PAIGE
                                                            
walks toward the counter with a green-eyed dragon figurine
in hand. Paige is pleased with her choice.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (calling to Laine)
Okay, Mom, I hope he'll like this
one. But it's not priced.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Laine looks at Millie suspiciously as her daughter strides
up behind her and places the pewter dragon on the counter
beside the elf.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Millie;
       knowingly)
Is the dragon's price negotiable,
too?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (focusing on
       dragon)
Oh, I see you've found Mister
Cinders.
                                                            
Paige looks perplexed by Millie's comment as she fidgets
with her handbag. Laine looks on, trying not to smirk
impolitely.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Who's Mister Cinders?
      (watching Millie's
       eyes)
Oh, you mean the dragon...I didn't
see a name tag on the thing
either.
                                                            

23.

                       MILLIE
      (stoicly)
My collection have neither prices
nor name tags, dearie.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (pulling out
       wallet)
Whatever. How much then?
                                                            
THE TOY ELF
                                                            
Paige sees the elf's bone-white face with bubblegum-colored
cheeks.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (O.S.) (cont'd)
What's that, Mom?
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       LAINE
What does it look like?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (surprised)
Is that one of those elves that
you're supposed to hide in the
house every night until Christmas
Eve?
      (to Laine)
I didn't think you were in to
those fads, Mom?"
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (muttering)
Neither did I. Colin might like
it, though...he's weird like you.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (interrupting)
Today's fad is tomorrow's
tradition. But I'm afraid
Lil'Reffus is not like any of
those other department store
elves.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (giggling)
Lil' Reffus?
      (motioning to
       dragon)
Has he ever met Mister Cinders,
the dragon?
                                                            

24.

Paige laughs openly alongside her mother. But Millie remains
poker-faced, seemingly insulted by her customers' lack of
respect. After realizing that Millie is not amused, Laine
stifles her chuckle.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Millie)
Do you really name every item in
your store?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
Just the ones that matter.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (patting Laine's
       shoulder)
I think Colin will get a kick out
of the thing, Mom. You should get
it.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (pensive)
I don't know. I still don't know
the cost.
                                                            
Laine directs her attention at Millie, hoping to coax some
clarification from the elderly woman. Millie's gaze hardens,
almost as if she's attempting to peer into Laine and Paige's
souls.
                                                            
                       LAINE (cont'd)
      (reaching for
       purse)
So when do we start negotiating,
Millie?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
In time. Let me ask you something
important first. Who's Colin?
                                                            
                       LAINE
Oh, he's my son. He'll be eight in
January.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (displaying
       decayed smile)
How precious. And would you say
that Colin has been a very good
boy this year?
                                                            

25.

                       PAIGE
      (interjecting)
The kid's eight. How good could he
be?
                                                            
Laine shushes her daughter by striking her index finger
across her own lips. She then offers Millie a candid
response.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Like every boy his age, he has his
moments, but Colin's my break from
insanity...
      (glances at Paige)
...if you know what I mean.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (moody)
Ha Ha, very funny. What's that
supposed to mean anyway?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (glancing at
       Millie)
Never mind. You'll understand
someday. Won't she, Millie?
                                                            
Millie's fingertips trace methodically along the elf's
velvet hat and vest.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (sullen)
I'm sorry to confess that I can't
remember those days. My children
have been gone for a very long
time.
                                                            
Millie clears her throat and pushes the elf across the
counter closer to Laine's grasp.
                                                            
                       MILLIE (cont'd)
But since this is an occasion for
business, I'll be brief. Lil'
Reffus requires a good home--and
by that I mean a household where
decency is apparent in all those
who live there.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (uncomfortably)
You make it sound so serious.
                                                            

26.

                       MILLIE
As it should be. Are you still
interested in caring for my elf?
                                                            
Laine hesitates in her decision before checking with Paige.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (joking)
What do you think, Paige? If I
bring Lil' Reffus home, do you
think you can behave yourself?
                                                            
Paige rolls her eyes and pulls her cellphone from her
pocket.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (checking phone)
I gotta get goin', Mom, so
whatever you decide, it's fine by
me. But I still want the dragon.
                                                            
Paige pulls two twenty dollar bills from her wallet and
addresses Millie.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (cont'd)
How much for Mister Cinders?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (extending her
       open palm)
That'll do.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (transfers money
       to Millie's hand)
Does it come with a box or
something?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
Of course, dearie. I'll fetch one
from the back room in a moment.
      (shifts attention
       to Laine)
There's just one other matter left
for us to discuss.
                                                            
Laine pauses momentarily before fumbling through the
contents of her purse to find her own wallet.
                                                            
                       LAINE
You win, Millie. I can't resist
that elf's sweet face. Name your
price.
                                                            

27.

                       MILLIE
You don't understand, Madam. Lil'
Reffus isn't for sale.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (a beat; perplexed)
What? Are you kidding me?
                                                            
Laine pivots toward her daughter,seeking support in her
frustration.
                                                            
                       LAINE (cont'd)
      (to Paige)
Now you know why I hate haggling
over prices.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
Let me explain. This elf isn't for
sale, but that doesn't mean you
can't bring him home with you
today.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
What? You're just gonna give it to
us for free?
                                                            
Millie clasps her hands in front of her body. Her colorless
eyes seem to glaze over while absorbed in the midst of a
evocative thought.
                                                            
                       MILLIE
Ladies, why must everything be
about money? The magic of
Christmas has been suffocated by
the idolatry of merchandizing. All
I ask is that you provide Lil'
Reffus with a good home. No amount
of money can purchase that luxury.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (still befuddled)
I don't get it. What's the catch?
                                                            
                       MILLIE
      (stern)
I don't dabble in catches, Madam.
Lil' Reffus is a gift to a
respectable home. To do otherwise
would forfeit the magic he bestows
upon a family. All that's left for
you to do is welcome him.
                                                            

28.

Millie lifts the elf up into her hands again, this time
extending her arms fully so that Laine and Paige both
observe the unique craftsmanship of the toy.
                                                            
                       MILLIE (cont'd)
      (sing-song voice)
Shall I retrieve two boxes from my
storage room now?
                                                            
Laine and Paige glance at each other and shrug their
shoulders; they then turn back to Millie and flash
reaffirming smiles.
                                                            
 
EXT. GIFT SHOP, PARKING LOT - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Laine and Paige walk out of the gift shop. Each are holding
a plain white box tied with a red and green ribbon. Paige is
still amused by the turn of events.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I can't believe Steve sent me to
this place...
      (glances back at
       shop)
That old woman is freaky.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (smiling)
Oh, come on, Paige. Don't be so
hard on her.
      (pats her package)
After all, she does have some very
good bargains.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
That's funny, Mom. Wasn't it you
who once told me that nothing is
for free in this world?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (fetching keys
       from purse)
That must've been your father.
Besides, even if it wasn't,
sometimes it's good to be wrong.
                                                            
 
EXT. SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Laine and Paige proceed toward the SUV, open the doors and
place their packages in the backseat alongside some other
purchased gifts. Laine proceeds to open the driver's side

29.

door and get inside. Paige follows this action on the SUV's
passenger side.
                                                            
 
INT. SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Laine inserts the key into the vehicle's ignition and checks
her mirrors. She then puts on her sunglasses.
                                                            
REAR VIEW MIRROR
                                                            
Laine's eyes focus on an image of the gift shop. A black
curtain flutters in the shop's window, followed by a
shadowed figure moving away from view.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (giggling)
I wonder if I should tell Steve
that the dragon I got him is named
Mister Cinders.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (kidding)
If you don't, I suppose Lil'
Reffus will tell him for you.
                                                            
 
EXT. GIFT SHOP'S PARKING LOT - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
The SUV pulls out of the parking lot onto the main road
disappears behind a bend in the road.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, OFFICE - DAY
                                                            
TONY CALLISTER, approximately forty-five-years-old slouches
over his keyboard at his desk. He is a slender man, showing
telltale signs of aging. His eyeglass lenses reflect a blank
white page of a word processing program. He is unshaven, and
reveals a look of sadness in his expression.
                                                            
COMPUTER'S SCREEN
                                                            
It is a blank page with the cursor flashing in the upper
left corner.
                                                            

30.

                       TONY (O.S.)
      (to himself;
       futilely)
C'mon. Think, you bastard, think.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
The house's office is conventionally designed. It has a
writng desk, a few potted plants, and one sitting chair by
the window faces the house's front yard. There is a wooden
bookcase stocked with hardcover novels, including several
with the surname CALLISTER on their spines.
                                                            
                       TONY (cont'd)
      (sighing to
       himself)
I can't do this anymore.
                                                            
Tony pushes his hands on the edge of his desk and glides
backwards in his chair. He is obviously frustrated as he
presses his fingertips against his temples. He looks at -
                                                            
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPH
                                                            
It is situated on his desktop in a standing frame. The
joyful faces of Laine, Paige, and young son stare back at
him. The photo depicts a loving, stable family unit.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
It is a contemporary setting, modestly-sized by modern
standards. A Christmas tree sparkles with white lights in
the corner. A sectional couch reveals -
                                                            
COLIN CALLISTER
                                                            
He is a normal-sized eight-year-old sprawled out on the
couch's cushions with his super hero action figures
scattered throughout the room. Colin eyes hold a certain
mischief in them, not unlike many boys his age. the sound of
a TELEVISION SHOW is heard in the background.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE - OFFICE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Tony paces over to the room's unshaded window. He is reading
a copy of his own novel entitled "THE FURIOUS ONES". He then
hears an AUTOMATIC GARAGE DOOR OPENING and glances toward --
                                                            
THE ROOM'S WINDOW
                                                            
Laine's SUV pulls into the driveway.
                                                            

31.

RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Tony's mouth drops considerably; he is not pleased with her
arrival. An anxious KNOCK from a child's hand is heard from
behind the office's closed door.
                                                            
                       COLIN (O.S.)
      (excited)
Mommy's home!
                                                            
                       TONY
      (under his breath;
       sardonically)
Hooray for Mommy.
                                                            
Tony's eyes cast toward the novel in his hands. He closes
the book with a sudden SNAP.
                                                            
 
INT. KITCHEN AREA, BACK DOOR - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
The door swings open with Paige leading the way. Both she
and Laine are carrying several packages, including the boxes
with colored ties and bows.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (calling out; sets
       gifts on counter)
Hello, guys. We're home.
                                                            
The SHUFFLE of Colin's hurried feet are heard before he
rushes into the kitchen. Paige is already preoccupied with
texting on her smartphone.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (bounding toward
       Laine)
What took you so long, Mommy?
                                                            
Laine fumbles with the packages as she attempts to arrange
them on the counter as Colin latches onto her leg.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (checking kitchen
       clock)
We were only gone a couple of
hours, kiddo. Where's your dad?
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (releasing Laine's
       leg)
Where he always is: his office.
                                                            

32.

Laine appears troubled as she glares in the direction of his
office's location.
                                                            
MEANWHILE
                                                            
Paige sidles up behind Colin and tousles his hair with her
hand.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (taunting)
Hey, stink-o. Did you take a bath
yet this week?
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (annoyed; pinching
       nostrils)
Quit it. And look who's talkin'. I
smell you comin' a mile away.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
You just can't stand your own body
odor, dork.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (teasing)
Oh, yeah. What if I tell your
boyfriend that you fart in bed
when you're asleep?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I do not. You're gross.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (imitating fart
       sounds)
Not as gross as you, Miss stinky
sheets.
                                                            
Laine removes her coat and hangs it on a wall hook beside
the refrigerator. She is noticeably aggravated.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Cut it out, you two. I'm not in
the mood for your bickering
tonight, okay?
                                                            
Paige offers Laine a strenuous look before secretly sticking
her tongue out at Colin.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Take it easy, Mom. We're only
jokin'.
                                                            

33.

Laine sighs and refocuses her attention on the packages on
the counter. She tries to manufacture a smile.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Colin)
Anyone interested in an early
Christmas present?
                                                            
Laine clasps the larger box with green and white ribbon.
Colin's eyes widen with curiosity.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (excitedly)
What did you get me, Mom?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (whispering to
       Colin)
I wish a bar of soap.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Colin)
You'll find out. Go and get your
father first.
                                                            
Colin hesitates at first, but then scampers out of the
kitchen.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Watch--dad is gonna think it's
stupid.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Oh, hush up. Believe it or not, he
hasn't always been such a Grinch.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (texting on phone)
Coulda fooled me.
                                                            
Laine appears disgruntled as she begins to take the packages
out of the bags. Paige grabs the box containing her gift and
opens the box.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (cont'd)
      (peering into box)
Greetings, Mister Cinders.
                                                            
 
INT. KITCHEN'S ENTRANCE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Colin is positioned beside his father holding his hand. Tony
appears scruffy and distracted in the kitchen's florescent

34.

light. Laine greets him with a half-smile, but Tony doesn't
reciprocate with one of his own.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Tony)
Were you busy working?
                                                            
                       TONY
      (groggily)
Barely. Writer's block--again.
      (paces into
       kitchen)
How many days until Christmas now?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (chuckling)
Three, but who's counting?
                                                            
Tony slinks mechanically toward his wife and pecks her once
on the cheek. She attempts to kiss him back, but he pulls
away and looks at the packages on the counter.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (snide)
Hope we don't run out of money
before then.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (interjecting;
       sprightly)
Luckily Santa don't charge us for
the stuff he brings, right, Mom.
                                                            
Laine looks perturbed at Tony's listless demeanor and
comment before focusing on her son. She then clutches the
box in her hands and places it into Colin's awaiting arms.
Colin kneels to the kitchen floor and sets the package in
front of him.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (pointedly)
Well, I'm determined to make this
Christmas in particular as merry
as I can. So I figured this
present might help a little.
                                                            
                       COLIN
Can I open it now?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (impatient)
We're waitin'.
                                                            

35.

COLIN'S HANDS
                                                            
untie the ribbons from the tattered, unlabeled box.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (O.S.) (cont'd)
      (chortles)
Watch out it doesn't bite ya,
nimrod.
                                                            
                       TONY (O.S.)
      (to Laine)
Box looks kinda old. Did you get
it used?
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Laine ignores Tony's question as she watches Colin tug the
lid off the box and paw through layers of red tissue paper
concealing the gift.
                                                            
THE BOX'S CONTENTS
                                                            
The toy elf's bone-white face is visible. Its smile appears
especially wide and alluring, as well as its deep green
eyes.
                                                            
                       COLIN (O.S.)
What is this...?
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Colin lifts the box with the scarlet-garbed elf still
inside; the toy's silver bells JINGLE as Colin shakes the
box in his hands.
                                                            
                       COLIN (cont'd)
...It's one of those elves I've
seen on T.V..
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (bogus English
       accent)
Brilliant deduction, Sherlock.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Colin)
Be careful you don't touch the
elf, honey. You know how it works,
right?
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (studying the doll)
Uh huh, but this one looks
different from the others I've
            (MORE)

36.

                       COLIN (cont'd)
seen.
                                                            
                       LAINE
That's because it is different,
Colin. This elf is one-of-a-kind.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (skeptical; to
       Laine)
Did the salesperson tell you that
before or after you paid for it?
                                                            
                       LAINE
She didn't sell me it. It was a
gift.
                                                            
Colin stands up with the boxed elf, still staring intently
at its features. Tony reaches his hand down toward his son.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (to Colin)
Let me see that thing for a
second, Champ.
                                                            
Colin gives the box to his father. Tony holds it up to the
brightest part of the kitchen's ceiling light.
                                                            
THE ELF'S FACE
                                                            
The doll's porcelain head is visibly chipped in spots around
its green color. Some of the red paint has also been touched
up in the elf's cheek and lips.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       TONY (cont'd)
This doll has been used before.
You can see where its been touched
up.
      (returns box to
       Colin)
But I guess you can't really
complain if it was free, right?
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (to Laine;
       sheepishly)
Will he still work?
                                                            
Laine cast a vexed glare at Tony as he saunters over to the
refrigerator, opens its door, and RATTLES a few bottles.
Paige yawns and starts to leave the kitchen.
                                                            

37.

                       LAINE
      (to Colin)
Of course, honey. The magic inside
Lil' Reffus never goes away.
                                                            
Paige GROANS and rolls her eyes as she scans her
smartphone's screen.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (exiting kitchen)
Have fun, guys. I'll be up in my
room wrapping Mister Cinders.
                                                            
Tony turns away from the refrigerator and POPS the tab on a
can of beer. He offers his wife a strange look.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (to Laine; sipping
       the beer)
What did you just call that thing?
                                                            
Colin swings sharply toward his father.
                                                            
                       COLIN
It's not a thing, Dad. He's an
elf.
                                                            
                       TONY (cont'd)
      (to son; then
       Laine)
My mistake. You named it already?
                                                            
                       LAINE
No. Millie did.
                                                            
                       TONY
Millie? Who's that?
                                                            
                       LAINE
She's an old woman who has a tiny
gift shop off Route 46, about a
half hour from here--in West Mill.
                                                            
Tony takes a larger gulp of his beer and wipes the excess
suds away from his lips with the backside of his wrist. He
then motions back toward the box Colin is holding.
                                                            
                       TONY
So let me get this straight--Colin
can't even take that toy out of
the box and play with it?
                                                            

38.

                       LAINE
You're not supposed to play with
it like a regular toy, Tony. The
idea is that the elf hides in a
different spot in the house every
night, leading up to Christmas
Eve.
                                                            
Laine attempts to espy a glint of amusement in Tony's
expression, but there is none. Instead, Tony gulps the beer
again.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (to Laine)
And the point of this is for...?
                                                            
                       COLIN
We get to search for him, Dad. And
then he goes back to Santa on
Christmas Eve and tells him about
all the nice and naughty kids. So
we all got to be good or Santa
won't bring us any presents,
right, Mommy?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Colin; peering
       at Tony)
That's how it goes. The elf knows
exactly what everyone is doing. So
you better watch out....
                                                            
Tony consumes an even larger portion of the beer while
standing near the kitchen sink. He then crushes the empty
can and tosses it in an adjacent trashcan.
                                                            
                       TONY
Sounds like a clever gimmick. Wish
I would've thought of it.
                                                            
                       COLIN
What's a gim-mick, Mommy?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (softly)
Never mind, Colin.
                                                            
Tony walks briskly past his wife and pats his son on the
shoulder. Laine's stare at her husband becomes increasingly
icy.
                                                            

39.

                       TONY
      (to Colin; joking)
Just don't stay up too late
looking at that thing, okay,
Champ?
      (to Laine)
I gotta get back to work now,
Laine. Deadlines to meet.
                                                            
After Tony exits the kitchen, Laine sighs deeply. Her eyes
are visibly reddened and glassy.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (tentative)
Why are you upset, Mommy?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (a beat; sniffling)
I'm not upset, honey. I'm fine.
                                                            
Colin then displays the box toward Laine so that she can
plainly see -
                                                            
THE ELF'S FACE
                                                            
                       COLIN (O.S.)
      (tittering)
Okay...I hope so. You wouldn't
want Lil' Reffus to see you cry,
would ya?
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (wiping tear from
       eye)
No. I guess I wouldn't.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, PAIGE'S BEDROOM - EVENING
                                                            
The bedroom's decor is typical for a teenage girl's trendy
tastes. Flashy posters of the latest boy-band and pop stars
mantle the walls. MUSIC plays at a moderate level from a
clock radio on her nightstand. Paige is lying on her belly
atop her bed propped up on her elbows with an open notebook
in front of her. Her smartphone is in hand; she has it
pressed against her ear.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (into phone)
Thanks a lot for sending me to a
freak show to get your gift.
                                                            
 

40.

INT. GYM - LOCKER ROOM - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
STEVE, a big, muscled nineteen-year-old boy, squats
shirtless on a bench in front of a row of gym lockers. He is
perspiring and has a towel draped over his shoulder. He
presses a cellphone against the side of his head.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (toweling hair)
What are you talkin' about?
                                                            
INTERCUT AS NEEDED - PAIGE AND STEVE ON PHONE
                                                            
                       PAIGE
That gift shop--Millie's
something...or another. I can't
remember what she called it.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (laughing)
I didn't actually think you'd go.
Jada mentioned they had some
pretty cool stuff, though. She's
been workin' there part-time for
about a month or so.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I still don't get why Jada wants
to help me find you a gift.
Anyway, I found what you were
lookin' for. I hope you're happy
with it.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (stifling laugh)
Thanks. Hey, next time I'll go
with you. I heard that old lady is
some kind of a witch or
something...might just be a rumor.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (flirtatiously)
Speaking of witches...when do I
get to cast my devious spell on
you again, handsome?
                                                            
                       STEVE
Friday night. Are your parents
still goin' out?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I'm countin' on it. I'll have to
keep an eye on my little brother,
but we'll have the whole house to
            (MORE)

41.

                       PAIGE (cont'd)
ourselves after he goes to bed.
                                                            
END INTERCUT
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, PAIGE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Paige hears a BELL'S JANGLE outside her partially closed
bedroom door.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (shouting toward
       door)
Whoever it is...go away. I'm on
the phone!
                                                            
Paige distinguishes another JANGLING BELL before becoming
increasingly annoyed.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (cont'd)
      (into phone)
Steve, I'll have to call you back
later. Too many eavesdroppers
around here. I love you.
                                                            
                       STEVE (V.O.)
      (over phone.)
Uh, Okay. I'll talk to you in a
bit. I love you, too. See ya
Friday.
                                                            
Paige clicks off her smartphone and jumps upright onto her
knees. She hurls a pillow toward the door, hitting it and
causes it to swing open.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I know you're listening, you
little snot-eater. Go to bed or
I'm tellin' mom.
                                                            
THE BEDROOM DOOR
                                                            
As it creaks open, the muted light from the corridor reveals
nothing.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (O.S.)
Colin? You're such a retard.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            

42.

Paige plops her head down on her bed covers in frustration.
She SNIFFS the comforter and then shrugs her shoulders
before proceeding to turn on her smartphone again.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, OFFICE - NIGHT
                                                            
Tony reclines in front of his writing chair at his desk with
his legs akimbo. A desk lamp illuminates the immediate
surroundings. Three beer cans are tossed on the desk beside
his keyboard. A copy his novel "THE FURIOUS ONES" remains
open on the chair's armrest.
                                                            
THE COMPUTER'S SCREEN
                                                            
It remains blank, reflecting Tony's slovenly image; he is
nearly passed out in his chair.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       TONY
      (to himself; drunk)
You're all washed up, Callister...
      (chuckling)
...washed up before ya ever got
dirty.
                                                            
He starts to fall asleep in his chair. A KNOCK on the closed
office door startles him.
                                                            
 
EXT. OFFICE'S DOOR - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Laine, dressed in a long nightgown and robe is nearly
pressed up against the door. She begins to turn the
doorknob, with her knuckles still set against the door's
frame.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Tony? You still awake?
                                                            
                       TONY (O.S.)
      (a beat; sleepily)
Door's open. What?
                                                            
 
INT. OFFICE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Laine strides into the office, using the light from the open
door to survey the scene. She notices the beer cans strewn
across his desktop.
                                                            

43.

                       LAINE
      (gesturing to beer
       cans)
Is this your idea of working late?
                                                            
Tony clamps his hands in front of his face and smears
pellets of sweat from his skin.
                                                            
                       LAINE (cont'd)
You think all this drinking is
gonna fix your mental block?
                                                            
                       TONY
      (heavy-hearted)
Can't hurt at this stage, can it?
                                                            
COMPUTER'S SCREEN
                                                            
It's blank monitor reflects her moving toward the screen.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.)
Why are you doing this to
yourself?
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       TONY
      (bitterly)
I think I had some help this go
around, don't you, Laine?
                                                            
Laine approaches his desk and SWINGS at the beer cans with
her open hands. The cans CLATTER and fall to the carpeted
floor.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (turning to Tony)
Look, we can't keep doin' this,
Tony. You're either going to
forgive me or not. But this
self-loathing shit has got to
stop.
                                                            
Tony laces his fingers together and calmly positions his
hands across his lap. Laine shifts closer to him as he
gathers his thoughts.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (looking away)
I'm trying to get over it. Your
therapist told you it might take
some time.
                                                            

44.

Laine maneuvers herself in front of Tony's chair and places
both of her hands on either armrest. She then kneels down in
front of him, almost forcing him to look at her.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (beseechingly)
What do you want me to do? I can't
take back what happened six months
ago. I already apologized. I've
given you my word--it won't happen
again. Now all you have to do is
trust me. Or just tell me that you
can't.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (lowering head)
Maybe I'm just having a bad night.
It probably isn't the best time
for us to be having this
conversation.
                                                            
                       LAINE
When is the best time, Tony? You
hardly talk to me or the kids as
it is. You think they can't sense
what's happening between us? Take
a look at your son, for God's
sake--he needs you to be a
father...not...not...
      (a beat; sobs)
...oh, whatever else it is you
think you ought to be in his eyes.
                                                            
Tony lifts one of his hands and brushes the hanging strands
of hair from his wife's face. She leans into his touch,
closing her eyes as if she missed the warmth of his skin.
                                                            
                       LAINE (cont'd)
Do you realize that you haven't
touched me affectionately in
months? It's been since...
                                                            
                       TONY
      (interrupting)
Since you were with that other
man--the filthy gardener. Yeah, I
remember the precise moment I
stopped touching you.
                                                            
                       LAINE
How long are you going to punish
us, Tony? And I'm not just talkin'
about you and me. I mean the kids,
our friends, your writing--just
            (MORE)

45.

                       LAINE (cont'd)
about every damn thing that's ever
mattered to you. How long?
                                                            
Tony appears partially deflated as he stares beyond his
wife's shoulder, still unable to center his eyes with her
own.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, PAIGE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
Paige is still on her bed, now wearing long flannel pajamas.
The room is dark, but Paige's face is illuminated by the
glow of her constant companion--her-
                                                            
SMARTPHONE'S SCREEN
                                                            
It shows a message to Steve: 'Can't wait until Friday. U R
so sexy. Love ya, me.' There is no displayed response on the
phone's screen.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Paige turns her head and checks the glow of her digital
alarm clock on her nightstand. The time flashes: 11:30 P.M.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (to herself;
       looking at phone)
C'mon, Steve. Where are you?
                                                            
Following a few seconds of restlessness and fluffing her
pillow, Paige springs out of bed and walks toward her
bedroom door.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, OFFICE - NIGHT
                                                            
Laine notices a copy of Tony's last successful novel, "The
Furious Ones", laying on the floor. She shifts to the side
of the chair and retrieves it.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (flipping through
       book's pages)
I remember reading this for the
first time. You gave me the
manuscript on our second date. Now
that's the writer I miss most of
all.
                                                            

46.

                       TONY
You mean the successful one who
had a promising future as a
best-selling novelist? Yes, I miss
him, too.
                                                            
                       LAINE
I'm talking about the passionate
one--the man who once believed in
himself. Does that version of Tony
Callister still exist somewhere
within you?
                                                            
                       TONY
      (despondent)
Only in fragments, Laine. I'm
afraid you can't salvage new parts
from an ol' wreckage.
                                                            
Laine shifts back in front of Tony and positions herself
between his knees. She tenderly pets his cheek.
                                                            
                       LAINE
You need to give us both a second
chance--starting now.
                                                            
Tony nods his head in agreement as he touches her hand with
his own. A curious smile curls into his expression as he
looks at the novel Laine holds.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (motioning to book)
You know, it's all kind of ironic
when you think about it.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (looking at the
       book)
What do you mean?
                                                            
                       LAINE
Did you ever think that I'd be at
my happiest while writing a book
called "The Furious Ones"?
                                                            
 
INT. KITCHEN'S ENTRANCE - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Paige pads into the kitchen in her bare feet. She flicks on
the light switch on the wall and sees -
                                                            

47.

THE ELF
                                                            
It seems to be gawking at her from behind the a cookie jar
on the counter.
                                                            
 
INT. KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Paige jumps a bit at first, but then paces over to the
kitchen's sink and grabs a glass from the cabinet. She turns
on the faucet and fills the glass, but her eyes remain
fixated on the toy.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (to the elf)
You really are kinda creepy.
                                                            
Paige places the glass to her lips and begins to drink the
water, when -
                                                            
SUDDENLY
                                                            
Laine appears in the kitchen's entrance.
                                                            
                       LAINE
What are you still doing up? It's
a school night.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Paige CHOKES on the water as it spills over the rim of the
glass and dribbles down the corners of her mouth.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (gagging)
Damn...you scared the crap out of
me, Mom.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (sniffling a bit)
Don't be such a drama queen. It's
gotta be close to midnight. You
should be in bed. So should I.
                                                            
Paige sets glass on the counter and then realizes that Laine
looks like she has been crying. She remains silent until
Laine joins her in front of the sink.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (a beat; reluctant)
Are you and Dad fighting again?
                                                            

48.

                       LAINE
      (shame-faced)
What do you mean 'again'?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Thin walls around here, Mom.
What's goin' on between you two?
                                                            
Laine clears her eyes with her fingertips and then reaches
for a cup on the counter top. She proceeds to open the
cabinet in search of something.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (scanning cubburd)
Have you seen the Tylenol?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I took the last two. You can't
fool me. Is dad cheating on you or
something?
                                                            
Laine lowers her head in shame and turns on the kitchen
sink. She fills it with water.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (after sipping
       water)
It's nothin' like that, Paige.
Your father and I are having some
problems, but we're trying to
figure things out. Okay?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Can I help?
                                                            
                       LAINE
No, but thanks for asking.
                                                            
Laine places the cup into the sink and gently touches
Paige's shoulder. Laine senses the concern in her daughter's
eyes.
                                                            
                       LAINE (cont'd)
Now get some rest, you hear me? I
don't want any more random phone
calls from your English teacher
tellin' me that you're sleeping in
class.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (glances at
       smartphone)
It's not my fault, Mom. Men suck.
Steve was supposed to call me over
            (MORE)

49.

                       PAIGE (cont'd)
two hours ago. He can't even shoot
me a text?
                                                            
                       LAINE
You remind me too much of myself
when I was your age. Don't be so
boy crazy all the time--it'll get
you into trouble for sure.
                                                            
Laine starts to leave the kitchen. Her eyes are still red.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (O.S.)
Hey, ya still need me to babysit
on Friday night?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (turning toward
       Paige)
As long as your father still wants
to go out. I'll let you know
tomorrow. Goodnight, Paige.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Night, Mom...oh,...
      (motions toward
       elf; giggles)
Aren't you gonna say goodnight to
Lil' Reffus, too?
                                                            
THE TOY ELF
                                                            
It is positioned behind the cookie jar, smiling with its
crimson mouth aglow.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.)
      (softly)
Sweet dreams, Lil Reffus.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. RILEYS' HOUSE - NIGHT
                                                            
SNOWFALL carpets the suburban bi-level's yard. The
residence's facade is trimmed with Christmas lights and
seasonal decorations.
                                                            
 

50.

INT. RILEYS' HOUSE, SAMMY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Sammy Nelson turns restlessly in bed where she sleeps. Her
WHIMPERS become increasingly loud before she suddenly LUNGES
upright with a furious burst of confusion and panic.
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (hysterical;
       thrashing pillow)
No...don't come near me...
      (sobbing;
       terrified)
P...Please don't hurt me!
Please...leave me alone!
                                                            
The room's blackness is fractured by a stream of light
pouring in from the -
                                                            
BEDROOM DOOR
                                                            
It flies open on its hinge, with Helen dashing into the
light toward Sammy's bed.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (afraid; shouting)
Sammy...what's wrong? My god, what
is wrong?
                                                            
BED
                                                            
Helen leaps on the bed and protectively embraces Sammy, who
is inconsolable. Helen attempts to awaken her from what
appears to be a night terror.
                                                            
                       HELEN (cont'd)
      (assertive)
It's okay, Sammy! You're going to
be okay...nobody is going to hurt
you! I'm here now...you're safe.
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (quivering; nearly
       incoherent)
No...No one is safe. He's going
to kill them all! I'm a good
girl...I'm a very good girl!
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 

51.

INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, PAIGE'S BEDROOM - MORNING
                                                            
Bright sunlight flits through the vertical blind of the
window. Paige is sleeping with a pillow folded over the top
of her head. She awakens to the MUSIC of an alarm clock on
her nightstand.
                                                            
THE ALARM CLOCK
                                                            
Its display flashes 7:01 A.M. in green neon.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (groggily)
God, I hate mornings.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Paige crumbles the remnants of sleep from her eyes and
clasps her smartphone from her nightstand. She then checks
the phone's screen.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (cont'd)
      (mumbling)
Such a jerk-off. Looks like
someone won't be gettin' Mister
Cinders for Christmas after all.
                                                            
Paige then glances beyond the foot of her bed, where a
neatly wrapped present is placed on a chair. She then sees
The TOY ELF sitting with its legs and arms akimbo on top of
the gift.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (O.S.) (cont'd)
Holy shit. How did you get in
here?
                                                            
 
INT. KITCHEN, TABLE AREA - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Colin is eating cereal from a bowl at the table. Laine pours
a cup of coffee into a mug with the writing on the side:
NUMBER 1 MOM.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Don't forget that I'm picking you
up at 3:15 from school today,
okay?
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (chomping on
       cereal)
Same time Dad always gets me.
                                                            

52.

                       LAINE
      (sitting at table)
I know. But Daddy will be out of
town today. He's got a meeting
with his boss in the city.
                                                            
Colin puts down his spoon and stares pensively at his glass
of orange juice.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (a beat; reluctant)
Mom, is Dad gonna get fired and
make us live on the street?
                                                            
                       LAINE
What? Where did you ever hear such
a crazy idea? Did your sister tell
you that?
                                                            
Colin nods his head sheepishly as he reaches for his glass
of juice.
                                                            
                       LAINE (cont'd)
      (irritated;
       balling fist)
Oh, that sister of yours. I
swear...one of these days....
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Paige paces toward the staircase with her book bag slung
over her shoulder. Tony walks into the corridor
simultaneously. Tony is dressed in a comfortable suit and
tie. They exchange awkward glances.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (motioning to Tony)
Hey, Dad. Gotta hot date or
something? What's with the fancy
getup?
                                                            
                       TONY
      (adjusting
       wristwatch)
Morning, Paige. I guess you're not
used to seeing me in a suit, huh?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (starting for
       stairs)
In your wedding album. That's
about it.
                                                            

53.

                       TONY
      (simpers)
Well, I hope my publisher
appreciates the formality as much
as your mother did.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Have you started a new book yet?
                                                            
                       TONY
No, but I'm warmin' up to the
idea.
                                                            
 
INT. KITCHEN, ENTRANCE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Paige and Tony enter the kitchen simultaneously. Paige
immediately cast a funny look at -
                                                            
COLIN
                                                            
He's still at the table gulping the last traces of his
orange juice.
                                                            
 
INT. KITCHEN, TABLE AREA - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Paige claims an empty chair at the table next to her mother,
while Tony retrieves his coffee mug from the dish drainer by
the sink.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Tony; flirting)
Lookin' pretty sharp there, fella.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (straightening tie)
It's just something I threw on.
Thanks, by the way.
                                                            
Tony glides over to the table, grabs the coffee pot, and
pours its contents into his mug.
                                                            
                       TONY (cont'd)
      (to Colin)
Morning, Champ. Ready for your
last day of school before break?
                                                            
                       COLIN
All ready, Dad.
                                                            

54.

                       PAIGE
      (interjecting; to
       Tony)
Why do you always call him
'Champ'? He's never won anything.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (admonishing)
Paige. That's enough, smart ass.
                                                            
Tony snickers as he sips his hot coffee. He then paces over
and stands beside Paige's chair, resting his free hand on
the chair's armrest.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (to Laine)
I probably won't be home until
late tonight. Don't worry about
dinner. I'll eat out.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Okay. Ummm...do you still want to
go to the Shiffners Christmas
party tomorrow night? Should be
fun. I just gotta let Darlene know
sometime today.
                                                            
                       TONY
Yeah. That might work out. What
about Colin?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (interjecting)
I'm watchin' him.
                                                            
Tony sips his coffee again, monitoring both of his kids'
tense faces.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (joking; to kids)
You sure you two can be left alone
without teasing one another to
death?
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (pointing at Paige)
It's her fault, Dad. All she does
is whisper mushy stuff on the
phone to her boyfriend...
                                                            

55.

                       PAIGE
      (interrupting)
Shut up, Creep Zone...and I told
you before to keep out of my room.
                                                            
Colin appears confused as Laine stands up abruptly from the
table and CLAPS her hands together twice.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (authoritative)
Okay that's the end of round one
and the end of the fight. Paige,
you're gonna miss your bus. Colin,
go get your boots on.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (glances at watch)
You kids better listen to your
mother. I gotta catch a plane.
                                                            
Tony leans down and plants a kiss on Laine's forehead. She
receives it warmly and sniffs the air around him.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Tony)
Mmmm...is that a new cologne
you're wearing?
                                                            
                       TONY
Yeah. You like it?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (smiling)
Masculine. I do like it.
                                                            
Tony flexes his arm as he exits the kitchen. After a few
seconds, Laine pushes herself away from the table.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (standing up)
Time to put our backsides in gear.
Let's get a-movin', guys.
                                                            
Laine proceeds toward the sink, staring momentarily at the -
                                                            
COOKIE JAR
                                                            
It remains untouched on the counter top, but the toy elf is
gone.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            

56.

                       LAINE
      (perplexed)
Colin, did you look for the elf
this morning?
                                                            
                       COLIN
Yep. I was surprised when I found
him hidin' in Paige's room.
                                                            
Laine appears distracted as she peers at Paige.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (confused)
Paige, the elf is in your room?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (scowling at Colin)
Yeah. Colin must've sneaked in
there after I fell asleep.
      (to Colin)
Don't you know the rules yet,
perv-o? You're not supposed to
touch the elf or his magic powers
will go away forever. Duh!
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (pounding fist on
       table)
I didn't touch the elf. Honest,
Mom. I wasn't even in Paige's room
last night. She's a liar.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (playing referee)
Okay, Okay. We'll sort all this
out later. I don't have time for
this right now.
                                                            
Paige and Colin exit the kitchen, leaving Laine alone to
stare at the cookie jar with heightened perplexity.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. POLICE STATION - DAY
                                                            
It's a small windowless interior, cluttered, noisy, and set
up for about seven working officers and three or four
dispatchers. A few POLICE OFFICERS go about their routine
business, paying no particular attention to Helen as she
strides up to Ross's desk.
                                                            
ROSS
                                                            

57.

He looks as unkempt as a homeless person. Loose, dingy
clothing hangs off his body in no particular order. He
remains unshaven, and a bit grayer around his temples. He
reclines in his chair behind a desk strewn with various
files, a pizza box, and Styrofoam cups.
                                                            
                       HELEN (O.S.)
Hello, Detective Anders.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Ross motions to a tattered empty chair near his desk.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (rising from chair)
Take a seat. Thanks for comin' in
to talk, Miss Riley. On the phone,
you sounded pretty anxious.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (cringing at empty
       chair)
I'll stand, if that's okay?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (shrugging)
Fine by me. What's on your mind?
                                                            
                       HELEN
You know what's on my mind--the
same thing that's been on yours
since the murders last Christmas.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (leaning toward
       desk)
Why do you want to help me solve
this case now, Miss Riley? Why not
eight or ten months ago?
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (a beat;
       frightfully)
Because Sammy's talking about it
now. The rest I explained to you
on the phone.
                                                            
                       ROSS
When can I see her?
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (gravely)
As soon as possible, Detective.
                                                            
 

58.

EXT. ROADSIDE DINER - DAY
                                                            
It is an old-time diner fashioned from a trailer. The
parking lot is fairly empty. Laine's SUV is one of the few
visible vehicles in the lot. Next to her car, a pickup truck
with the commercial name FOWLER LANDSCAPING is parked.
                                                            
 
INT. PICKUP TRUCK - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
A muscular, handsome man in his late twenties, KEN FOWLER,
sits behind the steering wheel like a cowboy straddling a
bronco. He is blessed with rugged good looks and dark wavy
hair. He looks disappointed with his present company. Laine
is positioned beside him in the truck's cab. She is
obviously nervous and trying to conceal her face from a few
PEOPLE passing by the truck.
                                                            
                       KEN
      (agitated)
I thought me and you had somethin'
pretty special goin' on, Laine.
Why do ya want to put an end to
this now?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (guilty)
Ken, you know why. I'm...married,
for chrissakes. This whole thing
has gotten way out of control. I
told my husband that I stopped
seeing you six months ago.
                                                            
                       KEN
But you don't love him. Ya told me
so yourself. Come be with me...
      (reaching for her
       thigh)
...you know how good I make love
to you. No man makes you feel like
I do. Don't you remember tellin'
me that, babe?
                                                            
Laine leans against the passenger door, attempting to avoid
his touch. She is tempted to embrace him, but holds back.
                                                            
                       LAINE
I know what I said, but it's not
real. We're not real. I just got
caught up in this crazy fantasy.
You're a great guy...really, and
awesome in bed, but...
                                                            

59.

                       KEN
      (interrupting)
But what? You're happier being
stuck in a bad marriage with a
dude who can't get it up half the
time? That don't make no sense to
me.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Look, I don't know what's gonna
happen between me and Tony, but I
got to try and make it better at
least. We have a family together.
                                                            
Ken sighs in frustration before clamping both hands around
the steering wheel with enough force to rip it from its
column.
                                                            
                       KEN
      (incensed)
So what am I suppose' to do? just
dry up and blow away like an ol'
ball of tumbleweed?
                                                            
                       LAINE
I don't know what to say. I'm
sorry. We shouldn't have let it go
on for this long. I should've
stopped it before we got caught.
                                                            
Laine reaches for the handle on the truck's door, and the
passenger door CLICKS open. She offers Ken a sorrowful gaze,
one that she hopes will be enough to soothe his temperament.
                                                            
                       KEN
Has he threatened you? Is that
what this is about? 'Cause I'll
take care of him, Laine...you
don't need to worry 'bout...
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (opening door)
It's not like that, Ken. Tony
isn't violent. This is my choice,
okay? Can you accept that?
                                                            
LAINE
                                                            
She steps out of the pickup and slams the door with a THUNK.
                                                            
                       KEN (O.S.)
      (bitterly)
Guess I got no choice.
                                                            
 

60.

EXT. RILEYS' HOUSE - DAY
                                                            
Ross's jeep is parked curbside. Another squad car is
positioned in the driveway. A light snow is falling on an
already whitened backdrop.
                                                            
 
EXT. RILEYS' HOUSE, FRONT PORCH - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Ross limps up onto the porch with a cigarette smoldering in
the corner of his mouth. Amy looks at him and then checks
her watch.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (disgruntled)
Are all your clocks broken again,
Ross?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (taking drag of
       cigarette)
Damn snow slowed me down. But I
knew you'd be as punctual as a
schoolmarm, Harden.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (sarcastic)
More flattery from the man I love
best.
                                                            
Ross exhales a puff of smoke into the cold air and flicks
the cigarette butt into a mound of snow. Amy proceeds to
turn toward the front door and KNOCKS three times.
                                                            
                       AMY (cont'd)
What makes you think she's gonna
tell you anything useful now?
                                                            
                       ROSS
As Quasimoto might've said, just
call it a hunch.
                                                            
 
INT. RILEY'S HOUSE, FOYER - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Helen, looking pale and tired, opens the front door.
                                                            
ROSS AND AMY
                                                            
                       HELEN (O.S.)
Thanks for coming over. Come in.
                                                            

61.

Ross nods and then he and Amanda walk through the front
door.
                                                            
 
INT. RILEY'S HOUSE, FOYER - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (rubbing hands
       together)
Gettin' kinda chilly out there.
They're sayin' a big storm might
be blowin' in tomorrow night.
                                                            
                       AMY
Another white Christmas.
                                                            
Helen appears disinterested in the smalltalk and instead
trains her thoughts to the matter at hand.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (to Ross)
Do you remember what I told you
down at the station?
      (a beat; to Amy)
I take it Detective Anders has
informed you on what's going on
with Sammy?
                                                            
                       AMY
      (to Helen)
He told me about your niece's
nightmares. I'm aware of the
situation, Miss Riley.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (sobbing)
I...I'm afraid she's gotten worse.
Maybe it's the approaching holiday
that's causing it. I don't know,
but I think she might crack up if
I don't get her some help.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (soothing tone)
Well, let's not guess. We'll just
sit down with her and see if we
can help sort things out. It's
good that she finally wants to
talk about what happened.
                                                            
Helen leads Ross and Amy farther into the tidy home. She
stops in front of a staircase and directs the detectives
accordingly.
                                                            

62.

                       HELEN
      (fretfully;
       looking upstairs)
She's in her room. Upstairs,
second door on your left. I told
her you were coming.
                                                            
 
INT. SAMMY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Sammy sits in her nightgown at a writing desk. She is
scribbling notes into a LEATHER JOURNAL with a pen. She is
nearly emaciated, with dark circles rimming her eyes. A
gentle TAP on her bedroom door doesn't distract her from
writing.
                                                            
BEDROOM DOOR
                                                            
Ross and Amy stand abreast in the opening, trying not to
appear confrontational.
                                                            
                       AMY
Sammy, may we come in for a
minute?
                                                            
SAMMY
                                                            
Sammy pivots toward the voice briefly and then resumes
writing. The girl's face shows no sign of cooperation; her
eyes flicker vacantly.
                                                            
                       ROSS (O.S.)
      (to Sammy)
We won't take too long.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Ross and Amy enter room without being formerly invited.
                                                            
                       ROSS (cont'd)
Are you workin' on something for
school?
                                                            
Sammy stops writing abruptly and SLAMS the pen down on the
desktop.
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (monotone)
I already know why you're here.
You want to talk about the
murders, am I right?
                                                            

63.

                       ROSS
We'll listen to whatever you want
to tell us, Sammy.
                                                            
Sammy turns from her desk and swipes her greasy hair off of
her forehead. Anger and fear overwhelm her expression.
                                                            
                       ROSS (cont'd)
Your aunt told us about the bad
dreams you've been having
lately....
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (monotone)
They're not dreams--they're
memories.
                                                            
Ross edges a bit closer to the desk, while Amy paces across
the floor to the unmade bed and sits on the corner.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (to Sammy)
We want you to help us understand
what happened on that morning last
Christmas. Can you do that?
                                                            
Sammy begins to quiver and her lips tighten.
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (whispering)
He killed my family.
                                                            
Ross and Amy exchange confused glances.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (to Sammy)
Who killed your family?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (a beat; shaking)
He is evil. He killed all of
them...except for me.
                                                            
                       AMY
Why didn't he want to hurt you,
Sammy?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (smiling; monotone)
Because only the naughty ones die.
That's the rule.
                                                            

64.

                       ROSS
Who's rule?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (hauntingly)
Lil' Reffus's rule.
                                                            
Amy briefly shifts her eyes away from Sammy's deranged
stare. Ross appears eager to learn more. He limps over to
Amanda and leans his head next to her ear.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (whispering; to
       Amanda)
Who the fuck is Lil' Reffus?
                                                            
                       AMY
      (softly)
Let me handle this, Ross...
      (to Sammy)
Honey, we're trying to understand,
but we don't know exactly what you
mean. Are you saying that someone
named Lil' Reffus killed your
family?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (monotone)
Yes. And he'll kill again if
someone doesn't stop him. He wants
to make all the naughty ones
suffer.
                                                            
                       AMY
Do you know where we can find this
Lil' Reffus' today?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (shaking head)
I don't know where he is now.
Maybe the North Pole. Isn't that
where all the elves go until
Christmas?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (whispering; to
       Amy)
Did she say 'elves'?
                                                            
                       AMY
      (quietly; to Ross)
She did. Maybe we should stop now.
                                                            

65.

SAMMY'S FACE
                                                            
The girl's eyes do not flinch. Her lips remain straight,
devoid of any definable emotion.
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (monotone)
Now you think I'm crazy, don't
you?
                                                            
 
INT. RILEY'S HOUSE, FOYER - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Helen escorts Ross and Amy toward the front door. They are
all visibly distraught. Helen senses their silent concern
for Sammy's health.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (to Helen)
Your niece is probably going to
need professional help. This is
out of our field of expertise.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (despondent)
She must've told you what she told
me. And you don't believe her. Am
I right, Detective Anders?
                                                            
                       ROSS
Miss Riley, did Sammy ever mention
anything to you about something
she calls Lil' Reffus?
                                                            
Helen clasps her hands together and lowers her chin. She
seems engaged in a deep mode of remembrance.
                                                            
                       ROSS (cont'd)
For what it's worth, your niece
thinks an evil elf slaughtered her
family. What the hell am I
supposed to do with that tidbit of
wisdom?
                                                            
Ross yanks open the front door, showing a pent up hostility.
Amy cups her hand on his shoulder to settle him down.
                                                            
                       HELEN
Sammy knew that people would think
she was crazy if she ever told her
story. They tried to blame her for
those murders. Even you, Detective
Anders, thought she was guilty.
                                                            

66.

Ross proceeds out onto the porch, followed by Amy. He is
attempting to contain his impatience.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (to Helen)
I'm not sure what to think, but I
know one thing: I'm damn tired of
finding dead bodies on Christmas
morning, and I don't want to deal
with this shit ever again.
                                                            
Helen closes the door and SOBS behind the closed frame.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, KITCHEN - DAY
                                                            
Laine sets her purse on the counter and is removing her
coat. Colin comes charging into the kitchen behind her and
tosses his book bag on a chair beside the table.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (excited)
Can I play video games until
dinner?
                                                            
                       LAINE
Do you have any homework?
                                                            
                       COLIN
Mom, it's Christmas break. We
didn't get any homework tonight.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Well...maybe after you clean up
your room you can play for a
little bit.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (running out of
       kitchen)
Cool...thanks, Mom.
                                                            
Laine plops down in front of the table. She is startled by
her cellphone BUZZING in her -
                                                            
PURSE
                                                            
Laine's hand reaches into the purse to retrieve the phone.
                                                            

67.

LAINE'S FACE
                                                            
cringes and then she rolls her eyes in frustration.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (agitated)
For the love of god, leave me
alone.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLIISTERS' HOUSE, UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Colin slows in his steps as he walks by Paige's bedroom. The
door is partially ajar. He presses his fingerstips slightly
on the door and nudges it open to see -
                                                            
PAIGE'S BEDROOM INTERIOR
                                                            
He scans the room until seeing -
                                                            
THE TOY ELF
                                                            
It is still sitting on top of the wrapped Christmas gift.
                                                            
                       COLIN (O.S.)
Peekaboo, Lil' Reffus. I'll see
you later.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, FRONT DOOR - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
An anxious, repetitive RAP vibrates against the front door.
                                                            
                       KEN (V.O.)
      (other side of
       door)
Laine, open the damn door. I know
you're there.
                                                            
Laine rushes anxiously toward the door; she has her phone in
hand and looks frazzled. She anxiously clutches the door's
knob and pulls it open to see -
                                                            
KEN
                                                            
He is standing in hulking form with his hands on hips,
breathing heavy and red in the cheeks.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.)
      (under her breath)
Jesus...what the hell are you
doin' here, Ken?
                                                            

68.

                       KEN
Did ya think you could just toss
me away like yesterday's trash?
You won't even answer your damn
phone.
                                                            
Ken then bulls his way forward and gets past the threshold
into the house. Paige only tries to stop him momentarily,
but then checks behind herself.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (nervous)
My son is upstairs, Ken. Don't do
this--not now. Please.
                                                            
Laine reaches out to gently hold Ken's arms, but he grabs
her wrists hard and pins her against the door's frame.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.)
      (erratic breathing)
Get...your hands off me. Are you
fuckin' nuts? You're hurting me.
                                                            
                       KEN
      (snickering)
Oh, now you suddenly got a problem
with my hands on you? You were
singin' a different tune in the
sack last week, weren't ya, honey?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (struggling to get
       away)
We're done. You understand me? I
don't want to ever see you again.
Now get the hell out of my house.
                                                            
Ken's eyes become infuriated, but he releases Laine and
steps back. His fists twitch. He makes a motion to punch
her, but then stops himself.
                                                            
                       KEN
Ah, you ain't worth it, lady. It's
women like you who make the world
what it is--a cesspool of rotten
whores.
                                                            
Ken lumbers out of the house, but his eyes are still
centered on Laine like hot daggers.
                                                            
                       KEN (cont'd)
You know, I actually feel sorry
for your husband. He's workin' all
day to put this fine roof over
            (MORE)

69.

                       KEN (cont'd)
your head. And you repay him by
suckin' off the landscaper
whenever ya get an itch between
your legs.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (forcefully)
You bastard. If you ever show your
face around here again, I'll call
the cops. And don't even think
about stalkin' me or I'll have
your ass thrown in jail.
                                                            
                       KEN
      (smiling deviously)
You have yourself a nice
afternoon, Mrs. Callister, and
next time you want anything
plowed, you know the number to
call on the side of my truck.
                                                            
Laine SLAMS the front door and turns to see -
                                                            
COLIN
                                                            
He is standing on the stairs behind Laine, peering down at
her with skeptical eyes.
                                                            
                       COLIN
What did that man want, Mom?
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.)
      (embarassed)
Nothin', honey. Just a
misunderstanding.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       COLIN
He looked pretty mad.
                                                            
                       LAINE
How much did you see?
                                                            
                       COLIN (O.S.)
      (from stairs)
Enough.
                                                            
Laine closes her eyes and expels an exasperated breath.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 

70.

INT. RILEYS' HOUSE, SAMMY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
The room is nearly dark, but a thin line of light spills in
from the doorway. Sammy is asleep in her bed, seemingly
undisturbed by any nightmares. Helen is positioned in front
of Sammy's desk. She reaches down, picks up the leather
journal, and then hastily leaves the room.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. POLICE STATION - NIGHT
                                                            
Ross is hunched over his disorganized desk, trying to look
interested in the paperwork set before him. Amy approaches
his desk with her coat and bag already on.
                                                            
                       AMY
I'm ready to call it a night,
Ross. Roads are gettin' pretty
bad. Might snow past midnight.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (testy)
Couldn't have scripted it better
for the night before Christmas
Eve, huh, Harden?
                                                            
                       AMY
I think that Christmas bug is
crawlin' up your ass sideways
again. You best get it checked
out.
                                                            
Ross reaches into a pizza box on his desk and pulls out a
dry-looking, limp slice. He then takes a healthy bite.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (chewing food)
I gotta give you credit. You sure
do know my peeves.
                                                            
                       AMY
I oughta after workin' with you
for the past eight years, right?
                                                            
                       ROSS
True, eight years is a long time
for anybody to put up with me. But
it ain't a lifetime.
                                                            
Amy almost walks away, but decides she is still curious. She
sits down in the tattered chair next to Ross's desk.
                                                            

71.

                       ROSS
      (gesturing to
       pizza)
Don't be shy. Dig in.
                                                            
                       AMY
Uh, no thanks. I think I have some
dry cat food at home that looks
more appetizing.
                                                            
Ross continues to eat the pizza as Amy gathers her thoughts.
                                                            
                       AMY (cont'd)
You got any new ideas on where to
go with this Nelson case?
                                                            
                       ROSS
It looks like another dead end.
Let's face it, the case is staler
than this pizza. I mean where do
we look next? The North Pole?
Santa's workshop? Elves.com?
                                                            
                       AMY
I guess you're right. We got
nothing to go on. But I did want
to ask you about something else,
if that's okay?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (kidding)
I was wonderin' when you were
gonna pop the question.
                                                            
Amy chuckles reflexively and then becomes more rigid with
her posture and expression.
                                                            
                       AMY
Seriously, back at Helen Riley's
house this afternoon, when we were
leaving, you said something to her
that's been buggin' me.
                                                            
Ross swallows the last piece of pizza crust and brushes the
crumbs from his fingertips onto his desktop. He waits for
Amy to proceed.
                                                            
                       AMY (cont'd)
You said that you were
tired--'damn tired' I think were
your exact words--of finding dead
bodies on Christmas....
                                                            

72.

Amy pauses and gauges Ross's reaction. He flinches in his
chair and then averts her stare.
                                                            
                       AMY (cont'd)
      (soft)
I just got the impression that
this has happened to you more than
once--I mean more than just last
year.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (clasping hands
       behind head)
You're astute as well as cute,
Harden. I like that. But I've been
a cop for almost thirty years.
What did you expect? Apparently,
the Grim Reaper doesn't put up a
tree.
                                                            
                       AMY
You're right. I'm sorry for being
so naive. I guess when you grow up
in the suburbs, you live in this
fantasy bubble where ya believe
nothing bad ever happens to
anybody on Christmas.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (muttering)
I've known otherwise for a long
time now.
                                                            
                       AMY
Why, Ross? I mean, you couldn't
have always hated this time of
year. What turned you off?
                                                            
                       ROSS
A crackerjack detective like you
should already know that. You
really never asked anybody about
my past, did you?
                                                            
                       AMY
Didn't think I needed to.
                                                            
Amy remains silent as Ross rises to his feet with a stuffed
folder and hobbles toward a filing cabinet. He opens the
drawer and drops the file in the drawer.
                                                            
                       AMY (cont'd)
So tell me what happened.
                                                            

73.

ROSS'S FACE
                                                            
His eyes catch a reflection of the overhead light as he
ponders something from his past.
                                                            
                       ROSS
I hope you don't like happy
endings, Harden....
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO:
                                                            
EXT. HIGHWAY - NIGHT (FLASHBACK)
                                                            
A police car with SIRENS blaring and emergency lights
FLASHING speeds toward a house engulfed in flames.
                                                            
                       ROSS (V.O.)
Twenty-six years ago, just after
midnight on December 25, a 911
call came in...house fire on Route
46, just outside of West Mill...
                                                            
EXT. HOUSE - NIGHT (FLASHBACK)
                                                            
The house is almost entirely enveloped in FLAMES. A YOUNG
OFFICER ROSS dashes toward the burning structure, fighting
his way past several FIREFIGHTERS in the process.
                                                            
                       ROSS (V.O.)
The house went up like a
tinderbox...four kids and a father
trapped inside. When I got there,
it was already too late, but that
didn't stop me from wantin' to
make the morning papers.
                                                            
INT. HOUSE, DOORWAY - NIGHT (FLASHBACK)
                                                            
Ross is SCREAMING for someone to answer him, CHOKING and
shielding his body from the flames. A CRACK is heard and
then a charred crossbeam SMASHES down on Ross's leg. He
HOWLS in agony.
                                                            
                       ROSS (V.O.)
I got as far as the front door,
and then the ceiling came down on
top of me. It didn't pay to be a
hero on that Christmas, not for me
anyhow....
                                                            
Two FIREMEN in gear burst into the house and yank the beam
off Ross's leg with a fire axe. Ross is GAGGING as they tug
him out of the burning home.
                                                            

74.

                       ROSS (V.O.)
Being a young, cocksure guy, they
figured I'd recover, but not
fully. Now you know why I walk
with a limp. But I would've
willingly given both my legs if I
could've saved just one of those
kids that night.
                                                            
                                         DISSOLVE TO:
                                                            
INT. POLICE STATION - NIGHT (BACK TO PRESENT)
                                                            
Amy is sitting in her chair with her head lowered, while
Ross hobbles back over to his desk.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (somberly)
Now you know my Christmas story,
Harden. I sort of put the holiday
on the back burner ever since.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (mournful)
I'm sorry. I should've known. I
remember that fire now. I was only
young at the time, but I remember
my parents and neighbors talkin'
about it. I think they tore that
house down a few years later and
built a little fruit stand or
something in its place. Last time
I heard, some old lady was running
a gift shop on the premises.
                                                            
                       ROSS
I don't venture out there much
nowadays, but the property has
changed hands a few times. It's
best not to relive some things, no
matter what shape they're in.
                                                            
                       AMY
I can see why you might hold a
grudge against Christmas, Ross,
but didn't somebody survive that
fire?
                                                            
                       ROSS
The mother. Apparently, she wasn't
home when their Christmas tree
ignited. No one ever bothered to
ask her where she was after
            (MORE)

75.

                       ROSS (cont'd)
midnight on Christmas Eve.
                                                            
                       AMY
What happened to her?
                                                            
Ross crouches into his seat and arches his back to stretch.
                                                            
                       ROSS
I guess she did the smart thing
and moved away. As far as I know,
no one ever saw her again.
                                                            
                       AMY
Did you ever consider that woman a
suspect?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (a beat; pensive)
Back then? Probably not as much as
I should've. But I've since
learned that nobody is above
suspicion when it comes to murder.
Wickedness is all around us. Just
keep your eyes peeled, and you'll
find it. The trick is to find it
before it finds you.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
A pretty, curvy, thirty-something woman, DIANA, lies naked
between the sheets of a bed. The hotel room is lit by
candles on the nightstand. Diana slides next to her lover,
Tony and kisses his bare chest.
                                                            
                       DIANA
      (soft)
How much longer do we have to keep
sneakin' around like this, Tony? I
want us to be together like a real
couple.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (kisses Diana's
       forehead)
I know you do. It won't be too
much longer, babe. Just be patient
with me, okay?
                                                            

76.

Tony reaches for his watch on the nightstand and checks the
time.
                                                            
                       TONY (cont'd)
Shit. I gotta get goin', Diana.
It's after seven already.
                                                            
Tony springs out of bed and begins to get dressed.
                                                            
                       DIANA
      (playful)
Can't you stay and play for a
little while longer? Your wife
thinks you're out of town anyway,
right?
                                                            
Tony begins to button his shirt. Once finished, he leans
over and kisses Diana softly on her lips.
                                                            
                       DIANA (cont'd)
Is it wrong of me to think that
you'd be cheating on me if you go
home now and sleep with your wife?
                                                            
                       TONY
I don't know. Is that what you're
thinking?
                                                            
                       DIANA
      (guilty)
Sometimes. Call me greedy, but I
just want you all to myself. Your
wife has already cheated on you
anyway. So why not just end it?
                                                            
Tony stands up, stroking her cheek and shoulder lovingly.
She seems soothed by his touch.
                                                            
                       TONY
It'll be easier after the
holidays, okay? I'll try to make a
move then. You won't have to wait
much longer, honey, I promise.
                                                            
Diana falls back onto her pillow and sighs.
                                                            
                       DIANA
Maybe it's true what they
say...naughty girls really don't
get anything for Christmas.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 

77.

EXT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, DRIVEWAY - NIGHT
                                                            
Tony's sedan pulls into the snow-covered driveway of his
home.
                                                            
 
INT. TONY'S SEDAN - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Tony turns off the car's engine and checks himself in the
rear view mirror. He then removes a bottle of cologne from
his glove compartment and sprays it around his upper torso
and on his hands.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Laine and Colin are reclining on the sofa in front of the
television watching the MOVIE "It's a Wonderful Life." Laine
hears the front door UNLOCKING.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Hey, I think your daddy's home,
kiddo.
                                                            
                       COLIN
He works late sometimes, right,
Mom?
                                                            
                       LAINE
Sometimes, hon.
                                                            
A WALL CLOCK
                                                            
The clock's hands show: 9:15 P.M.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, FOYER - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Tony is dutifully brushing the snow from his overcoat and
hat. He then takes off his coat, and hears the MOVIE playing
in the adjacent room.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.)
      (calling out)
Tony, is that you? We're watchin'
T.V. 'It's s Wonderful Life' is
on.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (calling back)
Yeah...it's me. I'll be right in.
Just gotta make a couple quick
phone calls.
                                                            
 

78.

INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Laine adjusts herself into an upright position on the couch
and closes a magazine. Before Colin scoots away from her,
she touches his hand.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (softly)
Honey, remember what we talked
about before?
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (sullen)
You mean about that man who came
here today?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (quietly)
We don't want to upset Daddy, so
promise me that you won't say
anything about that man. Okay?
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (monotone)
I won't. I promise, Mommy.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE - OFFICE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Tony paces over to his desk with his briefcase in hand. He
opens the case and picks out a small mirror among some
scattered manuscript pages. He checks his reflection in the
mirror, carefully examining his neck and collar for any
remnants of lipstick or woman's makeup. Tony then notices
the -
                                                            
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPH
                                                            
It is in the same spot, but then he notices the TOY ELF
positioned behind the photo with its arms wrapped around the
photo's frame.
                                                            
                       TONY (O.S.)
      (thinking aloud)
She must know.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, PAIGE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Paige is sitting on her bed with her laptop, using SKYPE to
talk to her boyfriend, Steve. The anger is evident in her
expression.
                                                            

79.

                       PAIGE
      (crying; into
       computer)
You know, I thought you were
different from those other jocks,
Steve...but you're just a
cheatin', lying asshole like the
rest.
                                                            
COMPUTER SCREEN
                                                            
Steve is seen in his sweaty workout clothes. He appears
flustered.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (from computer)
Paige, I already told you that we
weren't doin' anything. I just
gave her a ride home from the gym.
I'm sorry I didn't answer my
phone. My battery died out on me.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (O.S.)
I don't believe you. Jada is a
ravenous slut. She'll fuck
anybody. You know that.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       PAIGE (cont'd)
      (wiping tears away)
Look, if you want to be with Jada,
just say so. But you're not gonna
be gettin' laid by me at the same
time.
                                                            
Paige stands up and plops the laptop on her bed. She then
positions the computer's screen so that Steve can see her as
she stomps on top of the gift she bought him.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (furious)
And this is what I think of your
fuckin' stupid Christmas present!
Good riddance to Mister Cinders!
                                                            
                       STEVE (O.S.)
      (from computer)
Jada was right about you. You're
really messed up in the head.
                                                            

80.

Paige finishes mashing the present until the box is
flattened. When she glances up at the computer screen, she
realizes that Steve is no longer visible.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. RILEY'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT
                                                            
Helen is seated at a table alone. A single light illuminates
the room. Melodic CHRISTMAS MUSIC plays from a radio in the
background. Helen is reading Sammy's Journal. Her eyes show
both fear and confusion.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (sorrowful)
Oh, Jesus. She knew everything.
                                                            
Helen closes the journal and rises from the table. She
proceeds to the counter, where she rifles through her purse
to find an old business card. She surveys the card and takes
her cellphone in hand. She then pushes the number into her
phone's keypad.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (a beat; into
       phone)
Hello...Detective Anders, this is
Helen Riley. I need to speak with
you as soon as possible....
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
Laine is lying in bed with the covers pulled up near her
breasts. She is reading a book when Tony enters the room.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Long phone call...you never came
out to watch the movie with us.
                                                            
Tony begins to undress, hanging his shirt on the back of the
door and folding his pants. He isn't facing his wife.
                                                            
                       TONY
Got held up. Trip didn't go so
well. My publisher is thinkin' of
dropping me unless I can produce
something within three months.
                                                            

81.

                       LAINE
Can you do anything by then?
                                                            
                       TONY
Nothin' worthwhile.
                                                            
Tony pulls back the covers and climbs into bed next to Laine
without touching her. He SIGHS heavily and looks at ceiling.
                                                            
                       TONY
My father was right. I should've
learned a trade.
                                                            
Laine places her book on the bed and turns to face her
husband in bed. She slides a little closer to him, then
winces when she smells the heavy cologne.
                                                            
                       LAINE
That's pretty strong cologne you
got on. Is that the same from this
morning?
                                                            
                       TONY
      (adjusts the
       covers)
I guess. What's the difference?
                                                            
Laine hangs her head for a moment, before raising her eyes,
now more determined to make eye contact with Tony.
                                                            
                       LAINE
I know things haven't exactly been
dynamite between us lately, but
can you at least pretend that you
have some interest in me?
                                                            
                       TONY
What do you want me to do, Laine?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (edging closer to
       him)
Do I really need to tell you?
                                                            
                       TONY
Oh, god. Look, it's not like I
don't want to make love to you.
I'm just tired. Maybe tomorrow
after the party. I'm just too
exhausted tonight. Let's just get
some sleep. Okay?
                                                            

82.

                       LAINE
      (low voice)
Okay, Tony. I got the message.
                                                            
Laine rolls over and FLICKS off the light on her nightstand.
                                                            
 
EXT. RILEYS' HOUSE, FRONT PORCH - NIGHT
                                                            
Ross is alone at the front door. He doesn't knock, but
instead waits for Helen to gently open the door. She allows
Ross to enter the house without uttering a word.
                                                            
 
INT. RILEY'S HOUSE, FOYER - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Helen stands before Ross TREMBLING. She is trying to compose
herself as she clutches Sammy's journal against her body.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (adamant)
Thank you for coming over so
quickly, Detective. I felt this
couldn't wait another night.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (concentrating on
       journal)
Where's your niece right now?
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (unnerved)
She's in her room--asleep. I
probably should've looked at her
journal sooner. I'm just so
ashamed. I don't know what to do
for her right now.
                                                            
Helen hastily gives Ross the journal. She attempts to keep
her emotions balanced.
                                                            
                       HELEN (cont'd)
      (whispering)
You need to read this and read it
carefully. Everything I told you
on the phone is in there.
                                                            
                       ROSS
Miss Riley, I appreciate what
you're doin', but don't you think
we should see that Sammy gets some
help? I can make a few calls. We
won't make a fuss about it.
                                                            

83.

                       HELEN
No, Detective. She's my niece, and
I'll deal with her. I don't want
her reputation ruined any more
than it already is. You promised
to take the journal and leave.
That's all I expect from you now.
                                                            
Ross concedes to Helen's plea as he turns for the door. He
walks outside and the door closes abruptly behind him.
                                                            
 
INT. ROSS'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
                                                            
It is a dingy, cluttered, four-room apartment that resembles
a hoarder's paradise. Most of floor space is occupied with
cheap furnishings from the 1970's. An empty eggnog carton
lays on a table near his chair. Album covers of various
rock-n-roll bands from that era cover the peeling wall
paint.
                                                            
Ross is settled in a recliner amidst this nostalgic
junkyard, unfazed by the small area allotted to him. He
opens the journal and begins to peruse each handwritten
page.
                                                            
MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Ross frantically yanks his cellphone from a pocket in his
pants and begins to index finger a number on the phone's
keypad.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (into phone)
Harden...it's Ross...Yeah, I know
it's late...but I think we got
something...
      (a beat; listening)
...I might sound like I've had one
too many eggnogs, but I think I
just found out where Lil' Reffus
is. Finish your cat food and meet
me at the station in ten minutes.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. POLICE STATION - NIGHT
                                                            
Amy arrives at Ross's desk, and to her surprise he is
already waiting for her. He appears anxious and is holding
Sammy's journal open in his hands.
                                                            

84.

                       AMY
This must be important, otherwise
you wouldn't be here yet.
      (gesturing to
       journal)
You've got my attention, Ross.
What's up?
                                                            
                       ROSS
I've never kept a journal before,
Harden, but I presume that those
who do often write down their
secret thoughts. If that's the
case here, Sammy Nelson had a lot
of dirty tales to tell about her
family.
                                                            
Ross hands the journal to Amy. She flips through the pages,
scanning over the handwriting briefly and recording a few
mental notes.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (studying journal)
Looks like she took her time
writing half of it...some entries
are dated. The last portion looks
rushed. So what do you make of it?
                                                            
                       ROSS
Evidently, Sammy was devastated by
something she found out about her
father. It looks like Helen Riley
and Mr. Nelson had a fling goin'
on the side. Naturally, Mrs.
Nelson found out that her husband
was porkin' her sister and she
wanted a divorce. So at least we
know why Miss Riley wanted to keep
her niece quiet.
                                                            
                       AMY
I'm still confused, Ross. You said
something about Lil' Reffus on the
phone. Does Sammy explain what
this means?
                                                            
                       ROSS
She does. Last winter, Sammy got a
part-time job selling toys and
trinkets at a local business.
Apparently, the owner gave her a
gift before last Christmas. It was
a toy elf. She called it Lil'
            (MORE)

85.

                       ROSS (cont'd)
Reffus.
                                                            
Amy returns the journal to Ross. There is disbelief brewing
in her eyes.
                                                            
                       AMY
So are you seriously tellin' me
that we're lookin' for a toy elf
that kills people?
                                                            
                       ROSS
I know. It sounds like a bad
horror movie in the makin'.
                                                            
                       AMY
Wait, Ross...did Sammy mention the
name of the place where she
worked?
                                                            
Ross refers to a slip a paper in his hand that has some
additional notes on it.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (referring to
       paper)
Yeah...I wrote it down. A place
called 'Millie's Attic'. You ever
hear of it?
                                                            
                       AMY
      (a beat; shocked)
Ross...you're not gonna believe
this, but I think that's the gift
shop where the fire was that you
told me about before. I remember
seein' the shingle out front as I
drove by it a few weeks ago. Shit,
Ross, that's kind of creepy.
                                                            
Ross is distracted in his thoughts as he limps toward his
desk and balances himself on the corner of the desktop. He
peers fretfully at Amy.
                                                            
                       AMY (cont'd)
      (checking watch)
Do you want to head out there
tonight?
                                                            

86.

                       ROSS
It's too late. Shop's probably
closed, and it's not a good idea
with all this snow. We'll get out
there first thing in the morning.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (muttering)
On Christmas Eve.
                                                            
                       ROSS
Welcome to my nightmare, Harden.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, MASTER BEDROOM - MORNING
                                                            
Laine and Tony are in bed, just waking up. They are turned
away from one another. Laine opens her eyes first and props
her head upright on the pillow. She looks toward the bed's
footing and sees-
                                                            
THE TOY ELF
                                                            
It is positioned in a sitting position at the end of the
mattress, flashing a maniacal, red smile.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.)
      (thinking aloud)
How'd that thing get in here?
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Tony rubs his eyes and glances in the direction where his
wife is looking.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (groggy)
Oh, it's that damn elf again...I'm
startin' to get sick of seein' it
around here already.
                                                            
                       LAINE
One of the kids must be messin'
around. I hid it behind the
Christmas tree last night.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (rising from bed)
You did? What time?
                                                            

87.

                       LAINE
I don't remember exactly. But it
was before you got home. Around
eight o clock, maybe.
                                                            
                       TONY
Really? It was in my office when I
was on the phone last night. I
thought you might've put it in
there as a joke.
                                                            
                       LAINE
No, I don't see any humor in that.
                                                            
                       TONY
      (snickering)
Well, I guess that narrows it down
to two suspects then, huh?
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, KITCHEN - DAY
                                                            
Colin is at the table eating his breakfast, while Paige
hunches in the chair beside him with her head lowered. Laine
joins them at the table with a cup of coffee. Laine sets the
cup in front of Paige.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (to Paige)
Here. You need this more than me.
Looks like you're not gettin'
enough sleep.
                                                            
Paige SIGHS miserably, but doesn't bother to lift her head
up.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Why do guys have to be such jerks,
Mom?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (a beat)
They're not all that way. You just
have to find yourself a good one.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (interjecting)
Like you did, right, Mom?
                                                            
Laine remains conspicuously quiet, while Paige props her
head up and shoots Colin a scowl.
                                                            

88.

                       PAIGE
      (to Laine)
Steve was gonna come over tonight,
but we're fighting. I think he's
cheatin' on me with Jada Williams.
So it looks like I'll be spending
Christmas Eve alone.
                                                            
                       COLIN
Hey, I'll be here too.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (rolling eyes)
My point exactly.
      (grabbing cup)
I don't know why I went out of my
way for him in the first place. I
can't believe I spent forty bucks
on that piece of crap dragon.
                                                            
                       LAINE
You can always return it. I'm sure
that old lady will refund your
money.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (to Paige)
I'll take Mister Cinders if you
don't want him.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Too late, dork-wad. I stomped it
in to three pieces last night.
                                                            
Colin returns a dirty look to Paige and continues to CRUNCH
his cereal.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (looking at Colin)
As long as we're on the subject of
toys, I wanted to ask you two
about something...it has to do
with Lil' Reffus.
                                                            
                       COLIN
I saw him hidin' behind the
Christmas tree last night, Mom.
                                                            
                       LAINE
I did too, Colin, but he was in my
bedroom this morning, and your
father's office late last night.
Now, I think I already reminded
you not to touch the elf, am I
            (MORE)

89.

                       LAINE (cont'd)
right?
                                                            
                       COLIN
I didn't touch him, I swear.
                                                            
Laine then pivots her attention to Paige, who appears
thoroughly bored by this conversation.
                                                            
                       LAINE
Paige, did you move the elf?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (sipping coffee)
Seriously, Mom. I've got better
things to do than play hide-n-seek
with that stupid elf. I never
touched it. If you want the truth,
it gives me the creeps.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (angry; to Paige)
Don't talk that way about Lil'
Reffus! Santa won't bring you
nothin' for Christmas if you do
that again. You're being very
naughty.
                                                            
Paige lowers the cup and stands up from the table. She walks
away briskly.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (to Laine)
I gotta get out of here. If ya
need me for anything, I'll be up
in my room.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (to laine;
       monotone)
Maybe Lil' Reffus hides in more
places than the other elves, Mom.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (sullen)
Or maybe I'm just crackin' up.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 

90.

EXT. GIFT SHOP, PARKING AREA - DAY
                                                            
Ross DRIVES his jeep into the snow-covered parking lot of
Millie's Gift Shop. The snow has stopped, and the sun is
reflecting off the untouched snow. Amy is in Jeep's the
passenger's seat.
                                                            
 
INT. JEEP - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
                       AMY
Place looks closed.
                                                            
Ross turns off the jeep's engine and stares at the gift shop
with some reservation.
                                                            
                       ROSS
I haven't been back here in almost
twenty-six years. Somehow, nothin'
has changed. It still gives me the
creeps.
                                                            
Amy and Ross exchange nervous stares and then exit the jeep.
                                                            
 
EXT. GIFT SHOP, FRONT ENTRANCE - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Ross and Amy track through about five inches of snow,
leaving a trail of bootprints to the front entrance of the
rundown shop. Ross grabs the front door's -
                                                            
BRASS KNOB
                                                            
He tries to turn the knob.
                                                            
                       ROSS (O.S.)
Figures. It's locked.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       AMY
      (peering through
       shop's window)
It's dark inside. Nobody's here.
So what's plan B?
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (a beat; thinking)
I guess we'll go back to talk to
Sammy. She might know where this
old lady lives.
                                                            
Ross and AmY turn and hurry back toward the jeep.
                                                            
 

91.

INT. GIFT SHOP, WINDOW - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Millie stands hidden from view behind a black curtain. She
leers at Ross and Amy as they leave. A satisfied grin
consumes her expression.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. GYM, WEIGHTLIFTING MACHINES - DAY
                                                            
Steve is working out, lathering up a discernible sweat. JADA
WILLIAMS, an athletic 18-year-old girl, strides over to him
wearing her Spandex-tight gym attire.
                                                            
                       JADA
      (flirting)
Hey, Superman, be sure to save
some energy for me tonight.
                                                            
Steve sets the barbell down and straddles the bench. He then
towels off his face and chest, unintentionally flexing his
well-toned arms.
                                                            
                       JADA (cont'd)
      (moving closer to
       him)
Mmmm...you look so hot when you
workout. I can't wait to get you
under my mistletoe again.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (a beat; softly)
Look, Jada, I've been thinkin'
about things. What happened in the
car the other night--it was a big
mistake.
                                                            
Jada's smile disappears and her demeanor changes
dramatically as she stomps closer to Steve.
                                                            
                       JADA
      (teary-eyed)
What are you sayin', Steve, that
you just used me?
                                                            
                       STEVE
C'mon, you know it's not like that
between us. We're friends. That's
it. We just took things too far.
                                                            

92.

                       JADA
Do you usually fuck your friends
in the backseat of your car?
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (embarrassed)
I was gonna tell you tonight. But
it's not fair to Paige...
                                                            
                       JADA
      (interrupting;
       angry)
That little whore stole you away
from me to begin with. She knew I
liked you months ago.
                                                            
Steve stands up from bench and hovers over Jada. He is
trying to keep his voice pitched low.
                                                            
                       STEVE
I thought you were happy that
Paige and I were goin' out. She
never did anything to hurt you.
                                                            
                       JADA
Are you really that stupid? I've
hated that bitch for a long time.
Do you think she's prettier than
me or something?
                                                            
                       STEVE
It's not that, Jada. You know, if
you didn't like her, why did you
want to help her find a Christmas
present for me? She actually went
to that shop where you work and
got that dragon for me.
                                                            
                       JADA
No kidding. That's what I figured
she'd do. Besides, Millie wanted
to meet her in-person.
                                                            
                       STEVE
The old lady you work for? Why?
                                                            
                       JADA
I told Millie all about us, and
how Paige was tryin' to break us
up. Millie said she had a way to
deal with those type of girls.
                                                            

93.

                       STEVE
      (disgusted)
You told me that old lady was in
to witchcraft. Is that why you
wanted Paige to go there? You
thought this ol' woman was gonna
put a curse on her or something?
                                                            
                       JADA
      (a beat; sly)
Maybe. Some people really deserve
to be cursed. I think I might add
you to that list, douchebag.
                                                            
Steve lowers his head and turns his back on Jada. He then
walks away from her.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (yelling at Jada)
Don't ever call me again. Lose my
number, bitch. Or should I say
witch!
                                                            
                       JADA
      (enraged)
Go to hell! You ain't all that
anyway...after last night, I can
tell you take steroids.
                                                            
Steve doesn't turn around. He raises his middle finger and
thrust his hand into the air. Jada's eyes narrow with rage
as he walks away.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. JEEP - AFTERNOON
                                                            
Ross DRIVES his jeep into Helen Riley's driveway and parks
it.
                                                            
 
INT. RILEY'S HOUSE, FOYER - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Helen greets Ross and Amy. Helen is unnerved by the legal
paper Ross displays to her.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (sobbing)
You didn't need to bring a
warrant, Detective. I already gave
you Sammy's journal. You know all
our shameful secrets now. There's
            (MORE)

94.

                       HELEN (cont'd)
nothing left for you to find here.
                                                            
                       ROSS
I'm afraid there is, Miss Riley.
As it stands, your niece may have
been involved directly or
indirectly in the murders of her
family.
                                                            
                       HELEN
      (shocked)
You're really going to arrest her?
Didn't you talk to that old lady?
She must know something.
                                                            
                       AMY
We tried, but we couldn't locate
her. Your niece is gonna need to
come with us.
                                                            
Helen lurches over to the nearest wall and begins to cry.
Ross and Amy stand by silently until -
                                                            
SAMMY
                                                            
appears on top of the staircase in front of them.
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (monotone)
It's okay, Aunt Helen. I'm ready
to go with them now.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, PAIGE'S BEDROOM - LATER
                                                            
Paige is at her computer desk, trying to bend the pewter
dragon back into presentable shape. Laine is beside her,
looking over her shoulder.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (eyeing the dragon)
It doesn't look too bad. Steve
won't even notice Mister Cinders's
newest flaws.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I still have to glue its green eye
back in and re-wrap it before he
comes over later.
                                                            

95.

                       LAINE
      (touching Paige's
       shoulder)
You see, this is why you find out
all the facts before you make
accusations. It seems like there's
more than one green-eyed monster
in this room.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (turning toward
       Laine)
Maybe so, but don't you ever get
jealous, Mom? I mean, when dad
works late some nights...did you
ever wonder if he was really
workin' late?
                                                            
Laine hesitates in her thought and then strides away from
Paige. She is troubled by the notion Paige instilled in her
mind.
                                                            
                       LAINE
You really think that your father
cheats on me, Paige?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Your bedroom is right next to
mine. Remember what I said about
thin walls?
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (embarassed)
Oh, come on. You don't hear
anything goin'on between us in
there.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (low voice)
I know, Mom. That's the problem.
                                                            
 
EXT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, FRONT YARD - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Colin is building a small snowman in the front yard with
Tony. Tony sticks a carrot in the snowman's face, signifying
their creation's nose.
                                                            
                       TONY
There...how's that lookin', Champ?
                                                            

96.

                       COLIN
      (pointing to
       snowman)
Great. Its nose is almost as big
as yours, Dad.
                                                            
                       TONY
Very funny. Now let's get inside.
It's gettin' dark and Santa is
comin' tonight.
                                                            
Tony leads Colin through the snow toward the house. He hears
a car ENGINE approaching and looks toward -
                                                            
THE STREET
                                                            
A BLACK car with TINTED WINDOWS coasts slowly past the
Callisters' house. It stops briefly in front of the house
and then continues up the street at a methodical pace.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (looking at Tony)
What's wrong, Dad?
                                                            
                       TONY
      (watching the
       street)
Nothing...come on, let's get
inside and have some dinner. Your
mom's makin' baked zitti.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS
                                                            
Laine checks the oven to make sure the food isn't burning.
Tony comes up behind her and grabs her waist. She leans
against him, but he pulls back suddenly.
                                                            
                       TONY
Dinner smells great, Laine. When
will it be done?
                                                            
                       LAINE
This is for the kids. Did you
forget that we're goin' to a
dinner party at Darlene's?
                                                            
                       TONY
Oh...that's right. I almost
forgot. What time are we supposed
to be there?
                                                            

97.

                       LAINE
      (peturbed)
Sevenish. Look, if you don't want
to go, I can call and cancel. I
just thought it might be fun for
us to get out for a little while.
                                                            
                       TONY
No, don't cancel. I"ll go. It is
Christmas Eve, but we can still go
out for a bit. We'll just put the
presents under the tree after the
kids are asleep.
                                                            
Laine swings away from the stove and faces Tony. She seems
reluctant to ask him something.
                                                            
                       TONY
Me and Colin were just outside
building a snowman. You should see
the size of its nose. I'm gonna
take a quick shower and get
changed. How's that sound?
                                                            
                       LAINE
Sounds great. Why don't you try
puttin' on some of that spicy
cologne you were wearing last
night.
                                                            
                       TONY
Sure. I might even splash on a
little extra.
                                                            
Tony chuckles and waits for a similar response from Laine.
She doesn't offer him anything but silence. Tony then leaves
the kitchen.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER
                                                            
Laine walks stealthily into Tony's office. She quietly moves
toward his computer and desk. Laine taps on the keyboard
first and checks the -
                                                            
COMPUTER'S MONITOR
                                                            
The monitor flashes and asks for a PASSCODE.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            

98.

Laine continues to inspect the desk, now searching through
stacks of blank paper on the desktop, and then through
various drawers. She then opens a -
                                                            
BOTTOM DESK DRAWER
                                                            
The TOY ELF is in the contents of the drawer. Its arms are
wrapped purposely around a folded slip of paper.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Laine reaches slowly into the drawer and pulls out the elf
and folded paper. She sets the elf back in the drawer and
opens the paper in her TREMBLING hands.
                                                            
THE PAPER
                                                            
It is a receipt from a MARRIOTT hotel room from the night
before. The date is clearly indicated on the top: 12/23.
                                                            
                       LAINE (O.S.) (cont'd)
      (whispering)
That dirty rotten son-of-a-bitch.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Laine EXHALES deeply and folds the letter and puts it in the
pocket of her jeans. She then returns the elf to the desk's
drawer and closes it.
                                                            
 
EXT. POLICE STATION, CONFERENCE ROOM - LATER
                                                            
The small room contains a square table and four chairs.
There's no windows and just a single bare light bulb in the
ceiling. Sammy sits on one side of the table, while Ross and
Amy occupy the other side. The table top is empty except for
Sammy's journal.
                                                            
                       ROSS
If this is a game you're playing,
Sammy, you know it's gonna end up
costin' you, don't you? So why
don't you just come clean and tell
us what we should've known a year
ago, okay?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (emotionless)
You've already read my journal.
Haven't you figured it out by now?
                                                            

99.

                       ROSS
I know that you worked for an old
lady...Millie, I believe that's
her name. And according to you,
she gave you something--an elf. I
presume this is a toy of some
kind?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (evil tone)
Lil' Reffus is not a toy. He's
alive.
                                                            
Ross and Amy exchange awkward glances.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (to Sammy)
Alive in what sense? Does he
breathe, walk, and talk like a
person?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
Not like us. He's much too clever
for that.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (frustrated;
       hitting table)
Look, just tell us where the
goddamn thing is! Does the old
lady have it? We went out to her
shop this morning. No one was
there. So let's stop the bullshit
right now. If you didn't kill your
family, I'm gonna assume that
Millie did.
                                                            
Sammy entwines her fingers and calmly folds her arms on top
of the table. Her eyes are mysteriously vacant.
                                                            
                       SAMMY
Millie doesn't hurt anyone, not
anymore anyway.
                                                            
                       AMY
What do you mean? Has she hurt
people in the past?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (calmly; looking
       at Ross)
Uh-huh. You must've heard about
it. Years ago, she burned her
husband and four children alive in
            (MORE)

100.

                       SAMMY (cont'd)
a house fire on Christmas morning.
They never found out who did it.
                                                            
Ross's face becomes pallid as he leans away from the table.
He is unable to speak.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (softly; to Sammy)
Did Millie ever tell you why she
killed her family?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
She said they were all very
naughty. Especially her husband. I
think she told me he was having an
affair with one of the neighbors.
He wanted a divorce and custody of
their children. I guess Millie
didn't like that idea.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (horrified)
Why didn't you ever tell anybody
about what she did?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
Because I didn't want to be the
next one to die. Millie always
assured me that I'm a very good
girl. For as long as I'm good,
Lil' Reffus will leave me alone.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
Paige lounges on the couch beside Steve. He has unwrapped
the dragon figurine she has given him, but he doesn't seem
too keen on accepting it.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
What's wrong? Don't you like it?
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (studying the
       dragon)
No, I do...it's just that I feel
kinda funny about taking it now.
                                                            

101.

                       PAIGE
Why? Because of Jada? Forget about
her. I'm sorry I thought you were
messin' around. Okay?
                                                            
Steve leans forward and places the pewter dragon on the
coffee table in front of him.
                                                            
                       STEVE
Look, Paige, it is sorta about
Jada, but not for the reason you
think. I don't trust that girl, or
the old lady you bought that
dragon from.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
What's the difference who I got it
from? It's just a piece of metal.
                                                            
                       STEVE
Yeah. Well, what if it's bad luck
or cursed or something? I already
told you that I think that lady is
a witch. And Jada might be, too.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Oh, come on, Steve. You're not
being serious, are you? I didn't
think you believed in that sort of
hocus pocus crap.
                                                            
                       STEVE
I'm not saying I do, but just to
be safe, why don't you get rid of
it? And you should throw out
anything else you bought in that
shop.
                                                            
Paige is distracted by the noise of Colin padding into the
room in his candy-cane-covered pajamas. He has a quizzical
expression.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (to Colin)
It's gettin' kinda late...you
should go to bed now.
                                                            
                       COLIN
I will. But I'm lookin' for Lil'
Reffus. I can't find him anywhere.
Did you see him?
                                                            

102.

Paige doesn't answer Colin. She just stares at Steve in
silence.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. POLICE STATION, CONFERENCE ROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
Ross stands up from the table with a cigarette smoldering in
the corner of his mouth. Sammy perches in front of Amy in
her chair as Ross paces to and fro, checking his watch.
                                                            
                       ROSS
      (puffing on
       cigarette)
What I need to know from you,
Sammy, is when was the last time
you saw or spoke to Millie?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
I haven't seen her since last
Christmas. That's when she came
and took Lil' Reffus away from me.
                                                            
                       AMY
      (interjecting)
Wait. Are you sayin' that Millie
came to your house on the morning
of the murders?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
      (nods chin)
Uh-huh. Technically, Lil' Reffus
didn't really belong to me. Millie
loaned him to me until I...I mean
he was finished.
                                                            
                       ROSS
And Millie never spoke to you
again after that time?
                                                            
                       SAMMY
No. I figured she might've brought
him back to the gift shop, and I
almost went there a few weeks ago.
But then I heard Millie hired
another girl who went to school
with me.
                                                            
                       AMY
What other girl? What's her name?
                                                            

103.

                       SAMMY
      (a beat)
Her name is Jada. Jada Williams, I
think.
                                                            
Ross and Amy lock eyes; they appear invigorated by this
news.
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, COLIN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
Colin sits on his bed in his SUPER HERO themed room. His
expression is blank as he pulls back his bedspread and sees
the TOY ELF hiding beneath his pillow.
                                                            
                       COLIN
      (whispering)
So there you are. I was lookin'
all over the place for you.
                                                            
Colin lies down on his bed so that he is facing the toy elf.
He is silent as he peers into the toy's MESMERIZING EYES.
Colin takes the toy in his hands and begins to inspect it
more closely. He turns it over in his hands.
                                                            
THE ELF
                                                            
The back of the toy's head has a concealed button beneath
its red and green hat. Colin's thumb pushes the button.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
Colin's eyes widen as a CLICK sounds off-screen.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE - NIGHT
                                                            
While sitting in the passenger's seat, Laine anxiously
presses her cellphone to her ear. Tony starts the vehicle's
engine.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (ending the phone
       call; to Tony)
She's not answering. I've been
calling the house all night.
                                                            

104.

                       TONY
      (pulling SUV onto
       road)
Well, we're only fifteen minutes
from home. I'm sure they're fine.
                                                            
Laine appears visibly annoyed as she drops the cellphone
into her lap. She forwards an audible SIGH that projects her
agitation.
                                                            
                       TONY (cont'd)
I've been gettin' this cold vibe
from you all night. Did I do
something wrong at the party?
                                                            
Laine remains silent for a moment, seething in her thoughts.
Ultimately, she can't contain her emotions.
                                                            
                       LAINE
      (staring at Tony)
I know I haven't been the best
wife in the world, but you've been
playin' the victim long enough,
don't you think?
                                                            
                       TONY
I don't know what you mean, Laine.
                                                            
                       LAINE
I'm not gonna have this
conversation with you right now,
not while you're drivin'. We'll
talk about your fuckin'business
trips after we get home.
                                                            
Laine swings her head toward the passenger window, while
Tony continues to drive amidst the encroaching tension.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
                                                            
Paige and Steve recline on the couch. The film "A Miracle on
34th Street" plays on television. Steve kisses and caresses
Paige. She stops him after hearing her smartphone VIBRATE
faintly in the background.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
      (searching for
       phone)
Shit...hold on a sec, Steve. I
can't find my phone.
                                                            

105.

                       STEVE
      (kissing Paige)
Forget about your phone right now,
okay? Besides, I'm already here.
                                                            
Paige shifts away from Steve and checks between the couch's
cushions. She then hears the smartphone VIBRATING again from
another part of the room.
                                                            
                       PAIGE
I must've left it in the basement
on the dryer...my mom has probably
been callin' like crazy....
                                                            
Paige then glances at Steve coyly, while he adjusts his
sweatpants.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (cont'd)
You wanna be my chivalrous knight
and go get it for me?
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (British accent;
       kidding)
Right away, my lady. Whatever ye
wish.
      (pointing to his
       crotch)
Shall I use my lance?
                                                            
                       PAIGE
Only after you get back, Sir
Steve.
                                                            
Steve smiles and playfully slaps Paige on her butt.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (walking out of
       room)
More like 'Sir Retrieve'...I'll be
right back.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. JADA'S HOUSE, FRONT DOOR - NIGHT
                                                            
Ross and Amy anxiously await for the front door to open. The
glow of POLICE LIGHTS flash against the door. When the door
opens, Jada and her PARENTS stand nervously in the entrance.
                                                            
JADA AND HER PARENTS
                                                            

106.

                       ROSS (O.S.)
      (forcefully)
Jada Williams...We have a few
questions we need to ask you.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. CALLISTERS' HOUSE, BASEMENT - NIGHT
                                                            
Steve descends the steps leading into an unfinished
basement. He walks toward the washer and dryer WHISTLING the
tune "JINGLE BELLS".
                                                            
THE WASHER AND DRYER
                                                            
A smartphone is placed on top of the dryer near a bottle of
laundry detergent.
                                                            
RETURN TO SCENE
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (to himself)
Who says chivalry is dead?
                                                            
Steve proceeds across the concrete floor, advancing three
steps, when -
                                                            
SUDDENLY
                                                            
The basement's overhead light bulb flickers and goes dark.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (to himself)
Ah, fuck. What else can go wrong?
                                                            
Steve fetches his own phone from the pocket of his
sweatpants. He clutches his phone and turns it on, using it
as a light to survey the surroundings.
                                                            
                       PAIGE (O.S.)
      (yelling aloud)
Hey, what are you doin' down
there, Steve? The power just went
out up here.
                                                            
                       STEVE
      (under his breath;
       then yelling)
No shit...hold on. I'm tryin' to
see what's goin' on.
                                                            

107.

                       PAIGE (O.S.)
      (yelling)
Okay...I'm gonna check on Colin.
                                                            
Steve flashes the light of his cellphone in the direction of
the washer. He is distracted by a JINGLE of a bell and
motion other than his own in the darkness.