To celebrate coming Runner Up in the 2016 Marion Thauer Brown Script Writing Competition we present the complete text of our award winning play ‘The House’ from our ‘Another Twist of the Tale’ series of short plays.
Below we present the complete text of The House; episode 7 of Another Twist of the Tale.
ANOTHER TWIST OF THE TALE
EPISODE #7 – The House
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Copyright 2013 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attritubution Non Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition .
This play is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) International license. This play may not be commercially reproduced, performed, or sold. Non-commercial production, performance, and reproduction is allowed under this license so long as attribution is maintained. No derivative content or use is allowed. It can be freely shared in its current form (without change) under this license. If you would like to purchase one or more copies of this work (for your own personal non-commercial use, or to help financially support the author) then please return to http://www.weirdworlstudios.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Other works by this author can be found at the author’s website: http://www.weirdworldstudios.com or through select, online book retailers.
Episode 7: The House
An ageing recluse is being forced to sell some of the most valuable land in town as a result of health concerns and a local real-estate agent thinks all his Christmases have come at once. But not all is as it seems.
ANOTHER TWIST OF THE TALE
NARRATOR: The Narrator
JEREMY HANCOCK: Real Estate Agent
MR WILCOX: Customer
MRS WILCOX: Customer
MRS SUNIL SINGH: Lawyer and Real Estate Developer
LUKAS DOOR: Wealthy Home Owner
SCENE 1: INT – OFFICE OF JEREMY HANCOCK, REAL ESTATE AGENT (JEREMY, MR WILCOX, MRS WILCOX)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME
- NARRATOR: (SPOOKY VOICE) Let’s face it, nobody likes a real-estate agent. To the tenants and buyers the agent is out to maximise commission. To the investor and owner the agent is out to minimize costs. In the circles of hell there is a special place reserved just for middle men… and after listening in on this conversation I’m sure you’ll understand why…
- SOUND: SHUFFLING PAPERS – LET IT FINISH.
- JEREMY HANCOCK: I’m so sorry. I know you had hopes for better but I just don’t think the market will support the price you are seeking at the moment.
- MR WILCOX: But Mr Hancock… You assured us we could expect $170,000 for the property. The sunset on our contract to buy the Wickham house expired yesterday. We only signed that contract because you told us we’d have no trouble raising the money from the sale of our old home to cover it.
- JEREMY: You’ll still be able to make the purchase. Your mortgage will be a little higher…
- MRS WILCOX: A little higher. You’re talking about $60,000 dollars. Our entire savings will be swallowed by this and we’ll be left in debt.
- JEREMY: Look, you’ll manage. And you’re not going to get a better offer than the one that’s on the table now. We’ve had dozens of buyers through the house and they’re just not willing to pay what you’re asking.
- MR WILCOX: But you never told us. Every time we asked, you said you were completely confident you could get the price we needed to support the new home purchase.
- JEREMY: What can I say? It just didn’t work out. I really don’t think you’ve got a choice at this point. The peak sale period is coming to an end and the market is cooling down for the winter.
- MRS WILCOX: (COLD ANGER) You’ve got us right where you want us, haven’t you? You’ve cheated us out of $60,000 and there’s nothing we can do about it now. We’ll sign. But I promise you this. If it is ever in my power to damage your reputation and business… If by act or omission it is ever possible for me to do you harm. I won’t hesitate.
- JEREMY: Now, look, I know this isn’t what you wanted, but it’s a fair offer and…
- MRS WILCOX: Shut up! Just shut up!
- SOUND: SCRATCHING OF PEN – LET IT FINISH.
- MR WILCOX: Max?
- MR WILCOX: Alright.
- SOUND: SCRATCHING OF PEN – LET IT FINISH.
- MR WILCOX: There. No. Don’t get up. We’ll see ourselves out. If I never see your face again it’ll be too soon.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS OF COUPLE LEAVING. DOOR OPENS AND SLAMS LOUDLY – LET IT FINISH.
- JEREMY: (HALF LAUGHING UNDER HIS BREATH) And don’t let the door hit you on your way out.
- SOUND: INTERCOM BUZZER – LET IT FINISH.
- JEREMY: (CHEERFUL) Heather, get me Sunil Singh on the line, will you?
- HEATHER: (TINNY, LIKE OVER A PHONE) Sure boss. You sound happy.
- JEREMY: We just made a killing. This’ll be the best commission we get this year.
- HEATHER: (TINNY, LIKE OVER A PHONE) Great. I’ll put the call through. Also, Lukas Door just made an appointment.
- JEREMY: Seriously? Lukas Door?
- HEATHER: (TINNY, LIKE OVER A PHONE) Ahuh. He wants to see you in half an hour.
- JEREMY: I wonder if he’s planning to put that old place of his on the market at last. That would be a massive coup if we could snag that commission.
- HEATHER: (TINNY, LIKE OVER A PHONE) Well, I guess you’ll find out shortly.
- JEREMY: I guess so. (BEAT) Let me know as soon as you’ve got Mrs Singh on the line.
- HEATHER: (TINNY, LIKE OVER A PHONE) Sure boss.
- SOUND: BUZZ SIGNALLING END OF INTERCOM CONVERSATION – LET IT FINISH
- JEREMY: The old Door house has to be worth a couple of million. Now, wouldn’t that be something? We’d make a year’s commission from just one sale.
- SOUND: INTERCOM BUZZ – LET IT FINISH
- HEATHER: Boss, I’ve got Mrs Singh on Line two.
- JEREMY: Great, I’ll take it here.
- HEATHER: Sure thing.
- SOUND: INTERCOM BUZZ – LET IT FINISH
- JEREMY: Sunil, great to hear you.
- SUNIL SINGH: You too Jeremy. How’d you go with the Wilcox couple?
- JEREMY: It’s signed and sealed, just like I promised. I told you I’d be able to deliver the place at the price you were after.
- SUNIL: Well done. I’m pleased. We’ll be able to redevelop that property of theirs and put at least three dwellings on it. I’ll triple my money.
- JEREMY: They don’t call you one of the sharpest lawyers in town for nothing… but I just want to remind you about our little deal?
- SUNIL: Yes, yes. You have nothing to worry about. You’ll get your commission from me… and I assume from the Wilcox’ couple as well. You’re pretty sharp yourself, Mr Hancock.
- JEREMY: Good. Because I think I may have something else you’d be interested in.
- SUNIL: Oh? Do tell?
- JEREMY: You won’t believe it, but I swear it’s true. Lukas Door is coming to see me this afternoon.
- SUNIL: You’re joking. He never leaves that old place of his.
- JEREMY: So everyone says. But he’s coming here this afternoon. Are you interested?
- SUNIL: Absolutely. His property is a developer’s dream. It’s worth millions, and redeveloped, it’s worth tens of millions. How low do you think you can get him to go?
- JEREMY: Let me see what I can do. Assuming you’re willing to kick in with an appropriate gratuity… to compensate me for any loss in commission at this end.
- SUNIL: How does your standard fee sound?
- JEREMY: No good. At least not for this one. For this one, I’ll want a percentage.
- SUNIL: (PAUSE) A percentage of the profit? No deal. I’ll double the commission you’d normally get on the value of the property if you can squeeze him down to a third below market. How does that sound?
- JEREMY: Consider it done. Assuming that’s why he’s coming to see me.
- SUNIL: It’s a pleasure doing business with you.
- JEREMY: You too.
- SOUND: CLICK OF PHONE AND LINE GOING TO DIAL TONE – ESTABLISH AND FADE OUT.
- MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 2 – (INT) HANCOCK’S OFFICE (LATER) HEATHER, JEREMY, LUKAS
- SOUND: KNOCK ON DOOR THEN DOOR OPENS – LET IT FINISH.
- HEATHER: Mr Hancock? Mr Door is here to see you.
- JEREMY: Wonderful. Send him in Heather.
- HEATHER: Mr Door? Mr Hancock can see you now.
- LUKAS DOOR: Mr Hancock, thank you for seeing me at such short notice. I imagine you have guessed why I’m here?
- JEREMY: Please, take a seat. (PAUSE)
- SOUND: SEAT SCRAPING – LET IT FINISH.
- JEREMY: Since you’ve come to see me at my office, I can only assume that it has something to do with your property?
- LUKAS: Full marks, sir.
- JEREMY: And if I might hazard a guess… thankyou Heather.
- HEATHER: Yes Sir.
- SOUND: DOOR CLOSES – LET IT FINISH.
- JEREMY: Yes, if I might hazard a guess, I imagine there is a certain urgency about the issue. I can’t imagine what would entice you to come out in public, but it has to be singificant.
- LUKAS: Yes, I’m afraid so.
- JEREMY: Well, I’m here to help. What can I do for you?
- LUKAS: As it happens I’ve received some very bad news. I’m dying, Mr Hancock.
- JEREMY: Um… I’m sorry to hear that… how long have you known?
- LUKAS: I found out this morning. Oh, don’t look so stricken Mr Hancock. I’m old, far older than I look, and I’ve had a good run. The doctor tells me, however, that I am going to require a substantial amount of care and in no short order. Because of this I am going to need to achieve a quick sale, one which will afford me the ability to get the care I need while the disease takes its course.
- JEREMY: I see. Well, naturally, we would be honoured to handle your property… but…
- LUKAS: But why you?
- JEREMY: I don’t wish to look a gift horse in the mouth, but yes? Why us?
- LUKAS: You have a reputation as someone who can achieve a quick sale… and I’m afraid this sale will need to be very quick if I am to get the care I need in time for it to do any good. My information has it that you have a fairly close relationship with a number of property developers around town who would be interested in the sale. That makes you my best option right now.
- JEREMY: Of course, and I’d be very pleased to assist you. I think I know someone who would be interested. But I have to warn you, Mr Lukas, your eagerness to sell will make it very difficult for you to realise the full value of your property.
- LUKAS: I’m an old man with no close family for whom I need to preserve the balance of my estate. Beyond what it will cost to get adequate care I have little interest in haggling.
- JEREMY: Alright. I’ll get the paperwork drawn up. How do you want to go about this?
- LUKAS: I assume you’ll want to inspect the property and do a valuation?
- JEREMY: That would be our usual procedure.
- LUKAS: It’s been a long time since anyone came inside my house.
- JEREMY: Yes, and anyone who does go in keeps their mouths shut tight. I wasn’t even aware you were seeing a doctor… and very little escapes my attention that is going on in town.
- LUKAS: Yes, my people are loyal to a fault.
- JEREMY: Well, is there a time that would suit you?
- LUKAS: I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you come to dinner? Bring your potential buyer with you. You can tour the house and we can thrash out a deal on the spot.
- JEREMY: Um, that’s a little irregular isn’t it?
- LUKAS: Like I said, Mr Hancock. I simply don’t have time for the usual approach. I’d rather kill as many birds as possible with a single stone. Tomorrow night? Will that give you enough time to find a buyer from among your contacts?
- JEREMY: Um…
- LUKAS: Good. I’ll see you promptly at 7.00.
- JEREMY: Uh… Ok. Can I..?
- LUKAS: Don’t bother yourself. I’ll see myself out. Be sure to bring all the necessary paperwork with you. (BEAT) Good day.
- SOUND: CHAIR SCRAPING – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: AGED FOOTSTEPS, DOOR OPENING THEN CLOSEING – LET IT FINISH.
- JEREMY: (TRIUMPHANT LAUGH) Ha Ha! Well I’ll be! This is going to be easier than I thought.
- MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 3: (INT) THE DOOR HOUSE – EARLY EVENING LUKAS, JEREMY, SUNIL
- SOUND: KNOCKING ON DOOR – LET IT FINISH
- LUKAS: Hold on. I’m coming. I’m coming.
- SOUND: DOOR OPENS – LET IT FINISH.
- LUKAS: Ah there you are Mr Hancock… and you Mrs Singh. I’m pleased you were able to attend.
- SUNIL: Er…
- LUKAS: Oh, don’t look so surprised. I recognized you on sight. You’ve appeared in the papers numerous times, opening new housing estates and so on.
- SUNIL: I’m flattered.
- SOUND: DOOR CLOSES – LET IT FINISH.
- LUKAS: Hang up your coats and come through to the dining room. We’ll eat before we talk business.
- JEREMY: Thank you.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS – UNDER UNTIL END OF 123
- LUKAS: Think nothing of it dear boy. It’s a pleasure to have guests after the house has been empty for so long.
- JEREMY: It’s in beautiful condition, Mr Door.
- LUKAS: Yes. Yes, it is.
- SUNIL: And so large. I had no idea it was so big. A person could get lost in here very easily.
- LUKAS: Oh, I suppose so. It’s a very special house. Designed by Albrecht Gottring, you know?
- JEREMY: I’m afraid I didn’t know that.
- LUKAS: And you a real-estate agent. For shame, Mr Hancock. Gottring was quite mad you know… but a total genius. He gave this house a life of its own.
- SUNIL: Yes, I can see that. Are those stairs redwood?
- LUKAS: Yes, they are. Beautiful, aren’t they?
- SUNIL: Superb. And through there, that gallery looks immense. Surely the house isn’t as big as it appears?
- LUKAS: (AT A DISTANCE AND FADING) Oh that’s just a simple trick of perspective. Now if you’ll just make your way…
- SUNIL: (AT A DISTANCE AND FADING) Mr Door? Mr Door? Where are you? I can’t see…
- JEREMY: (AT A DISTANCE) Mr Door? Mrs Singh? I seem to have made a wrong turn somewhere. Hello?
- LUKAS: It’s fine, dear guests. As I was saying, Mr Gottring imbued this house with a life of its own. One might even say an appetite if one was so inclined. But you didn’t know that, did you? No, all you have been interested in is the money you are going to make. Or at least, that was all you were interested in. I’m willing to bet that right now, however, you have more important things on your mind. Did you ever really imagine you might one day find yourself thinking about something more important than money? Ironic really? Because right now, I’m as certain as I can be, that you are thinking about survival.
This house is very much alive you know? Alive and hungry. And right now it is eating you. Can you feel it? You are being devoured by the house. By me really. Since I’m just an extension of this house, a way inside. And you aren’t just being eaten. You’re being erased. As I feast on your stunted little souls, I am removing you from reality. It will be as though you never existed. Your entire worthless little lives are being are being blotted out of history. Devoured to keep me sated. Your offices will lie empty. Your wealth will be gone, in the hands of others. No one will remember you or notice your absence. But that spark of life, that consciousness that is you, that thing you are so desperately trying to hang on to? That will be gone. Soon. So very soon.
And then someone else will come along. In a month, maybe three, some enterprising fool will notice this town “needs” a real-estate agent. They’ll wonder how the town has managed to get by for so long without one and they’ll set up shop… and I’ll get to feed again. Another stunted little real-estate agent’s soul just like yours (often moving into the same office space). And so it will go on… and on… and on…as the years go by.(BEAT)
- JEREMY: (TERRIFIED PAIN FILLED SCREAM) Aaaaarghhh!
- SUNIL: (SLIGHTLY OVELAPPING TERRIFIED PAIN FILLED SCREAM) Aaaaarghhh!
- LUKAS: Oh… and there we have it. You’re gone!
- (LOUD BURP).
- NARRATOR: (SPOOKY VOICE) And there we have it, indeed. A house devouring those who wish to possess it, over and over, until the end of time. A house that sends middle-men to the oblivion they deserve. Mwahahahaha.
- MUSIC: CLOSING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
CASTING SHEETS — MAJOR CHARACTERS
NARRATOR: Hello, I am your spooky voiced narrator. I introduce the cold stormy nights on which our stories take place, the dark alleys, and darker personalities who inhabit the lonely city. It is my job to set the scene and establish the serious tone of suspense and intrigue that will carry the story forwards. I do this with a creepy laugh and ghoulish enthusiasm for the misery that is about to be unleashed upon the characters.
JEREMY HANCOCK: I know how to make a buck. Buyer beware is the old saying, and I live by it. Is it my fault that in a small town there aren’t that many options for people. I didn’t get into business to stay poor, so they can just like it or lump it.
MR WILCOX: We’ve been cheated. There’s nothing we can do about it, but we’ve been cheated. $60,000 may not seem like a lot to Hancock and his ilk, but it’s a fortune to us. And the law won’t help us. Everything was perfectly legal.
MRS WILCOX: I feel so… beaten. We couldn’t defend ourselves. We just couldn’t. All because we trusted Hancock. We’ll no better next time… but when are we ever going to sell a house again. I’d kill him if I could. At the very least I’ll never miss and opportunity to do him harm.
HEATHER: My boss is a pig. He pays (barely), but he’s a pig. Every day I come to work. I smile. And I get paid. Then I go home and take a shower.
MRS SUNIL SINGH: I’m a lawyer and I know every loophole. The law isn’t about justice. It’s about what you can and what you can’t do. It’s a tool. And if you know how to use it, the law can make you rich. I’ve proved it.
LUKAS DOOR: My name’s Lucas Door. Most of you have never seen me. But all of you have heard of me. I’m that old man who lives in the house up on the hill and never seems to come out. The most valuable land in the whole region, from what I’m told.
The thing is, though, I don’t like people. I don’t want company and I have a well deserved reputation for being hostile to those who try to enter my house uninvited. Only necessity makes me leave the place, and today… today, necessity is upon me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Craig Robotham grew up in a house full of books and has held numerous jobs as a teacher, computer programmer, graphic and web designer, e-learning consultant and, most recently, writer. He currently lives in Victoria, Australia with his wife and two sons. When he was younger and fitter he enjoyed martial arts, but in recent years his hobbies have tended towards more sedate fare (board games, movies, books, and role-playing games).
He is extremely grateful for the encouragement he receives from his biggest fans — his wife and two boys — all of whom read and enjoy his scripts and, in general, make his life worth living.
You can contact the author regarding performance rights (or simply to say hello) through his website: http://www.weirdworldstudios.com.
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This post and all its content is copyright © 2013 Philip Craig Robotham and has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. This play cannot be reproduced, shared, or performed commercially without the written permission of the author. The production of derivative content, merchandise, or creative works and materials is expressly forbidden under this agreement. However you may share, reproduce, and perform this play freely so long as authorship is acknowledged, no money changes hands, and the play is not modified in any way.