Scorch: A Folktale [Screenplay Excerpt]

Scorch: A Folktale

Written by

Nadia Carmon

EXT. WOODS- NIGHT

The scene: Once upon a time in an African landscape.

In the dead of night a campfire glistens, surrounded by a thick forest.

The fire crackles to the sound of faint RHYTHMIC DRUMMING coming from somewhere far off in the distance.

After a moment, THREE PAIRS of hands come into view, stretching up and over the fire.

Children’s hands.

They linger there a moment.

CUT TO: The gaze of the STORYTELLER on the other side of the fire greets the forest; his back towards the children.

He lifts his head as if from a deep sleep, and opens his eyes, SMILING

and CHUCKLING; yet producing what is more a grunt than a laugh.

STORYTELLER Ah ah ah!

CHILDREN Gasps

Hastily, the children remove their hands from the fire.

STORYTELLER Do not think that I do not know what you are doing just because my back is turned.

As the Storyteller turns around, the children slowly inch away from the fire.

STORYTELLER (CONT’D) Have you all forgotten the story of the fire lover….. or the thief

and the blind man?

The cacophony of the raging fire rises from the silence.

STORYTELLER (CONT’D) Fire shall be tonight’s lesson…and it is always waiting to strike.

A slither of flame escapes the fire and dances in the air

above the STORYTELLER, barely missing his face. It produces a crackle.

STORYTELLER (CONT’D) Ha! Do you see the way it mocks me? Fire knows its strength but is always waiting for you to doubt it…To get close to it. Only a fool wants to quicken his own demise by entering the stomach of the beast.

The children glance at one another, fearful and confused.
The Storyteller concentrates his gaze on one in particular.

A young girl.

STORYTELLER (CONT’D) Knunu, why don’t you recount the tale of the fire lover for us? To refreshen our memory…

KNUNU Yes, Storyteller.

She hesitates a moment…

Suddenly a YOUNG WOMAN appears from the woods. She holds her arms as if she is getting cold.

She is unaware of the others; even as they focus their gaze upon her.

The story begins.

KNUNU (CONT’D)…..Once upon a time a young woman was walking through the forest.

KNUNU (CONT’D) She forgot her way back to town. And so, as the night drew on, the

weather got colder…And the young woman was still lost.

The YOUNG WOMAN makes a small fire that grows and grows out

of control into a bonfire.

KNUNU (CONT’D)

So she made a fire.

CHILD 1 AND CHILD 3

(Chanting) What happened when she made the fire?

A handsome man appears in the midst of the flames.

KNUNU The God of Fire appeared.

CHILD 1 AND CHILD 3

(Chanting) What did he want with the young woman?

KNUNU It’s said that he thought she was beautiful and longed to be with her. So he reached out to her from his prison of flame.

The fire god extends his long hand towards the woman. It is unscorched. Human.

CHILD 1 AND CHILD 3

(Chanting) What did she want with him?

KNUNU The young girl was taken with the fire god. So she took his hand.

Suddenly, the YOUNG WOMAN’s flesh begins to sear, turning black as she is roasted alive.
She falls dead to the ground.

After a moment the fire god disappears, with neither a trace of remorse or malice on his face.

He leaves a trail of smoke left in his wake.

We return to the Storyteller and the children standing

fireside.

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