View Full Version : Into the Ether

06-25-2010, 11:43 AM
Hi all...it's been a while. I originally had this posted in my fiction thread, but it was a bit buried. I'll just give it its own thread for now and we can merge them in a bit. The following is a treatment I wrote for a screenplay which I plan to develop at some point (soon). It reads different from normal prose, and doesnt focus too much on the details. It is more focused on the story and what happens to drive the plot. Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

Into the Ether

It is June in Appleton, Kentucky. David Dombowsky, a thirteen year old, who has spent years in foster care, has just returned from a juvenile work camp after being accused of slaughtering the dog of his middle school guidance counselor—a crime which he claims was actually committed by a high school kid named Slate Carter. Though now an outcast, even more so than before, he is taken in by Ms. Richmond, a large and surly woman who runs a local produce stand and regularly fosters children to help her in her flailing business. Only two days after his return, though, David is chased down by Slate, who is hungry for revenge for David’s unsuccessful attempt to point the crime at him. Slate beats him badly and warns him that if he doesn’t leave town, he will kill him. Just minutes later, Slate’s dreams nearly come true when David is struck by lightning. But, after being struck, David is not the only boy lying in the grass in need of medical attention. Another boy of roughly the same age is found lying next to him, having seemingly appeared out of thin air.

Both boys are rushed to the hospital but are okay, aside from some disorientation and contact burns. While it is widely known who David is, the other boy is a mystery. He says that all he can remember is his name: Echo. While the police try to figure out where he came from, Ms. Richmond steps in and agrees to let him stay with her. David is cautious around him at first, puzzled about how Echo could possibly have been hit by the same lightning bolt, when he was nowhere to be seen when David was hit. Echo doesn’t say much, performing his rigorous list of daily chores alongside David with barely an acknowledgement of David’s presence.

David becomes of the opinion that Echo must hate him like everyone else does, thinking David to be a “psycho”—the name many hurtful people around town have come to use for David as a result of the crime he was accused of, and also because of David’s father, who has been incarcerated in a mental hospital for half a decade. Then David is accused by Ms. Richmond of having stolen money from her purse, and Echo speaks up. He tells Ms. Richmond that David couldn’t have taken the money, because he wasn’t there during the time that it supposedly turned up missing—which David knows is a lie. Echo tells her she should check the pocket of the jeans that she wore the day before, because he remembered seeing her put something in the pocket. Ms. Richmond checks and finds the missing money. David begins to wonder if he might be wrong about the mysterious Echo.

The next day, though, Echo is back to his usual quiet self, ignoring David when he tries to talk to him. Angry, David throws down his shovel in the strawberry patch and storms off into the forest to sneak a cigarette. When he is only halfway through his smoke, though, he is set upon by Slate, who has been spying on him and waiting for a moment to grab him. Slate begins beating David badly and then pulls out a large hunting knife, the same knife that David saw him murder the dog with the summer before. Slate comes at David with the knife and is suddenly knocked off kilter when a rock smashes into the side of his head. David looks and sees that his savior is Echo. Echo walks over to the dazed Slate and steps on his wrist, and pulls the knife from his grip. Slate is angry, but also seems to be afraid. He was there when David was hit by the lightning, and witnessed Echo seeming to appear out of nowhere. Echo then proceeds to frighten Slate worse by recounting things that Slate has done, things which no one could possibly know. He lays out exactly how Slate framed David the previous summer in perfect detail and warns him off. Echo gives him back his knife and Slate retreats, beaten for now.

Having now gained David’s implicit trust, Echo finally opens up to him. He reveals to David that he has been faking his amnesia and knows exactly who he is and where he came from, but says that he is not yet ready to reveal it to him. He needs to know that he can trust David first.

A bit of time passes and the boys become friends, talking about their views on the world and finding that they share a number of interests. David even begins to reveal some of his troubled past and the animosity that he has for his father for the things he did before going to the mental hospital. The two boys go fishing one day, having worked extra hard for Ms. Richmond to earn some free time. They head down to the lake, but have to cross a wide creek on the way. The only way to get across, without walking far out of their way, is to cross a fallen tree that spans the creek. David crosses without event, but Echo slips and falls hard into the slow-moving creek. When he doesn’t immediately resurface, David goes in after him, diving frantically in search of his friend. Just when David thinks he may be too late to save his new friend, frightened and losing hope, David hears a voice behind him and finds that Echo pulled himself out and is standing on the shore, laughing. Though he is angry at Echo for the dirty trick, he cannot help but give him a hug.

When they arrive at the lake, Echo tells David that he needs to show him something very important. He begins to explain his origins, claiming that he comes from a different plane of existence—called Ether—and is a member of a society whose mission is to stave off the end of the world. Echo tells him that lightning is the only natural source of energy in the world powerful enough to bring someone over—when guided by an Ethereal—and he had been trying to bring David when the lightning hit. David doesn’t believe him initially and rails against Echo, calling him crazy—as crazy as his dad—but becomes a believer when Echo tells him a number of things he shouldn’t have knowledge of and places his hand over his face showing him a vision of the ethereal plane.

Echo says that he needs David’s help; there is a method he knows that will allow him to return to Ether, but it requires a special kind of suit that hasn’t been invented yet. He thinks that he can build it, but will need David’s assistance to have it ready in time. There is a massive storm coming in late July, he tells David, which will have just the right type of lighting for it to work; but it is only three weeks away and he hasn’t even started yet. David asks Echo if he can go, too, but Echo says that it won’t work for him, since he is not an Ethereal. David cannot just go, he has to be taken—invited. But Echo does promise that he will come back for him, a promise that he can only keep if David helps him get home first. David says it’s a deal. Though neither of them knows it, Slate is hiding and witnesses the entire conversation.

The two boys begin working on the suit, which Echo calls a transport suit. They get permission from Ms. Richmond to use an abandoned outbuilding on the far side of her property for their project, though they tell her that they are going to build a go-kart. They labor hard early in the day in Ms. Richmond’s garden—much to her approval—and toil long into the night on the transport suit. Many of the items that they need are specific types of metals, which aren’t easy to find. Locating those metals and then melting them down makes up a large part of their labors. As they work their friendship grows ever stronger.

One day, Echo goes ahead to the outbuilding after their chores are completed, and David goes back to Ms. Richmond’s house to get a rivet gun that they need to start the first assembly of the suit’s pieces. When he gets to the house, though, he finds that Ms. Richmond has a visitor. It is David’s father, Don. Dumbfounded and shocked, David stands like a zombie as his father explains that he has been released from the mental hospital and that his mind is as healthy as ever. David has an angry outburst at the man who caused him so much pain, and then retreats. When he gets to the outbuilding, he refuses to tell Echo what is going on, though Echo can tell that he is clearly upset.

The next day, David is stopped by Ms. Richmond from going to his chores. She tells him that he is taking the day off to go spend time with his dad. He argues, but she is adamant. The argument comes to a quick halt when his father pulls up in front of the house, and persuades David to come with him and give him a chance, if only for one day. They spend the day together. It is awkward at first, but things lighten up a bit as they talk and open up to each other. Don reveals that he learned a lot about his particular psychosis through therapy, and that it all seemed to originate from a specific event in his childhood. He tells David that he once had a brother, three years older than he, who was killed when Don was ten. The brothers had been arguing about a television show and had begun wrestling with each other. In the course of their struggles, the television was accidentally broken. Though it was Don’s fault, his brother Timmy took the blame and the punishment. Their father would give them beatings with an old hickory stick when he deemed them necessary, and he always gave the beatings in a shed in their backyard. Timmy went out to the shed for his beating and screamed bloody murder as he was punished, and then went silent. He never came back in, and Don’s father claimed that he must have run away the next day. The police came by a few days later and Don backed up his father’s story, frightened that he might make a trip to the shed himself if he didn’t. The guilt of that lie ate him up inside, and eventually drove him mad.

While David is with his father, Echo is left alone in the fields doing double the work, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Slate has been watching and waiting, and sees this as an opportunity to get rid of Echo. While Echo is picking squash, Slate attacks him from behind with a 2x4, knocking Echo to the ground. He goes in fast and starts kicking Echo in the ribs, taking his wind. He tells him that since no one knows who the hell he is, he doubts he will be missed, and starts dragging him into the woods. Just as he is about to be safely out of sight, though, Ms. Richmond arrives to check on Echo and sees Slate. Slate drops Echo and runs away.

When David arrives back from his day with his father, he finds Ms. Richmond patching up Echo, who has some scrapes and bruises, but is otherwise okay. He begins to tell David what happened, but is interrupted by a knock on the door. It is Slate, his head hung low and his eye blackened, accompanied by his father, who is a sheriff deputy. Ms. Richmond had called him right after the assault. The deputy starts to apologize for his son, when Slate tries to out Echo for who he really is. He tells everything that he overheard at the lake, but didn’t count on how crazy it would sound to his father and Ms. Richmond. His dad gives him a hard slap and makes him go wait in the truck, and apologizes again to Ms. Richmond and to Echo.

The next day, David and Echo get up early and complete their chores before noon. They race to the outbuilding and begin the endgame of building the suit. David, completely caught up in the project, forgets that he was supposed to meet his dad for ice cream that afternoon. Realizing too late, he takes a short-cut through the forest to the ice cream shop only to find that his dad isn’t there. Pissed off at himself, he starts down the sidewalk, headed back toward Ms. Richmond’s house. About a block down from the ice cream shop, he finds his dad sitting on a bench quietly weeping and talking to himself. His first reaction is anger—falling back on his resentment of Don’s insanity—but he softens as he realizes that his father is upset because he forgot where they were supposed to meet in the first place. Don’s medication can make him forgetful. David sits with him and holds his hand, trying to calm him down. He reveals that he made a friend, and tells him all about Echo—leaving out the secret of his supernatural origins. Instead he tells him about the non-existent “go-kart” they are building. This soothes Don, and David walks him back to the motel where he is staying.

The day of the storm has come, but rather than brimming with excitement, David is distant and distracted as they complete their chores. Echo inquires after his behavior, but David will not let on what is bothering him. As the long work day ends, the two friends head to the outbuilding. When they get there, David tells Echo what is on his mind. David says that he can’t run from his life anymore, that no matter who hates him or how much his past haunts him, he has to start living in the present. His dad has no one without him, and he needs David if he is going to survive outside of the mental hospital. David makes Echo promise that once he gets back to Ether, he will not come back for him.

Echo promises, and tells David that the suit is ready. He explains the basics of how the suit works: it will attract lightning to whoever wears it, and once he is struck he will be transported back. He explains that it only works for Ethereals, who have been conditioned to that much electric energy; it would kill a normal human. Echo takes the suit—which is made up of pieces, like a metallic baseball catcher’s pads—and shoves it all into a backpack. He is just zipping it up when the door of the outbuilding flies open.
Don, who was directed to the outbuilding by Ms. Richmond, caught Slate spying through the window. He shoves Slate through the door and begins to explain how he found him, and then loses all color when he sees Echo. Inciting the name of his dead brother, Timmy, Don has a breakdown. Screaming wildly, he runs. Echo—who seems to know Don, much to David’s surprise—chases after him. In the chaos of Don’s outburst, Slate is freed and sneaks up behind David, hitting him over the head with the rivet gun. Everything goes black as David loses consciousness.

Echo finds Don at a deserted house on the other end of town; it is the house where Don grew up. Don is crying in the shed in the backyard, where he believes his brother was killed. But Echo appears to be his brother; long lost Timmy, looking just as he had the day he vanished. Don refuses to believe he is really his brother, writing him off as a delusion. Echo puts his hand on Don’s forehead, just as he had with David, and shows him the past. Don sees that Timmy/Echo left the shed after being beaten, but was too afraid to go back into the house, because their father was drinking. So he ran into the forest in the middle of a storm, and was struck by lightning. When the bolt hit, he vanished. Don, now understanding and believing, sets out with Echo to save David. Echo says he knows just where he is, and there isn’t much time.

Slate has bound David in a tarp and taken him through the forest into a field of rolling hills. He binds David to the ground using tent stakes, as the lightning storm approaches. Slate brought the suit with him, and is going to use it to kill him, remembering what Echo said about humans not being able to survive the blast of energy. Don and Echo show up and Don attacks Slate. While they are fighting, rather than untying David, Echo actually makes sure the suit is on him tight, which baffles David. In the course of the fight, Slate stabs and kills Don with his hunting knife and sets upon David. Climbing on top of him, planning to slit his throat, Slate is stopped when he and David are both struck by a massive bolt of lightning.

Slate is killed, but David survives. Echo reveals that the suit was never actually intended to transport anyone anywhere. It was designed to protect its wearer from being killed when struck by lightning. Echo—being an Ethereal—knew that all of these things would happen and devised the suit to protect David.

Having mourned his father, David is walking down a dirt road with Echo after the funeral, talking about the events that have occurred. He wants to know why Echo came in the first place, if he never intended to take David. Echo tells him there were three reasons: he had to correct a mistake, prepare for a new mission on the earthly plane, and he had to mentally prepare his replacement in Ether. Just as David asks what he means by “replacement,” he is struck by a bolt of lightning and vanishes.

06-25-2010, 04:09 PM
My thoughts...I've never read anything by you I didn't love. This will have to wait untill the morning (it is my boss's fault I can't read it now. <_<, but I can hardly wait. :)

06-26-2010, 08:21 AM
Thanks, Brice. Just think in terms of film when you read it, as though someone is explaining the basics of what happened in a movie that they just saw. To put the atmosphere in a bit more context, the tone and pacing will be similar to Sling Blade and Stand by Me.

If you like this, I can post scene rundowns for both the beginning and the ending, though the end is slightly different than how depicted here because I wrote it before I wrote the treatment.

06-27-2010, 10:58 AM
bears hate it when prose is written in the present tense (film or no film)... but they loved everything else about the story!

then again, Black House was written in the present tense, too...........


06-28-2010, 06:48 AM
Thanks, Jean. I know that present-tense prose seems a bit off, but the class that I wrote this for demanded it. >< I appreciate you taking the time to read it. :)

07-15-2010, 05:12 PM
Wow. I really enjoyed reading this. Nicely done. :)

07-20-2010, 06:23 AM
Thanks! :dance: