(please note: In the Checklist, it says, "You MUST enter a 'screenplay type' category, so the judges can see what type of writing you are presenting to them for judging. These include: Documentary (non-fiction), television series (book series) feature film (novel) or short film (short story)." There is no option here for this, but my submission is for a Feature Film.)
Freya Wilson adjusted her blonde wig as she glanced in the rearview mirror, making sure none of her own red hair was peeking through. She then focused on the long, winding road ahead as she drove through the dark in Unity, Maine.
The never-ending farm fields, barns, and back roads were draped in a soft white blanket, illuminated only by moonlight. The peaceful scenery was the complete opposite of the Boston skyscrapers and bustle that she was so used to.
Normally, she would have enjoyed the picturesque scenery, but right now, she was too preoccupied with just trying to survive.
She rubbed the large bruise on her upper arm hidden by her jacket. The dull ache was just one voice in a chorus of other battle scars from her latest encounter with her ex-fiancé. They marked her ribs, her back, and her arms. There was even one on her face, carefully concealed under makeup.
Hopefully, that was the last time that he would ever hit her—if he didn’t find her.
Now she was on the run. Everything she did was in an effort to escape Dean Hamilton, because if he ever found her, Freya was sure he would kill her.
The snow came down heavier on her windshield, and it was getting hard to see, especially since there were no street lights here. Soon, millions of snowflakes obscured her view, and she could barely see a few feet ahead, so she slowed down. She’d never driven in such terrible weather.
The start of her journey had been rough indeed, but it didn’t matter as long as the path she was going to drive on would lead her toward freedom and happiness.
She could barely see a few feet ahead of her, so she drove as slowly as possible. The road was covered in snow, and she gripped the steering wheel, which danced in her hands.
Looking around, Freya could not see any other cars on the road. She probably seemed like a madwoman who certainly had a death wish.
But she was used to the fear of death.
Maybe I should pull over somewhere and wait it out, but where? she wondered as she carefully turned a corner.
Suddenly, a horse stood in the middle of her lane, and she yanked on the steering wheel instinctively to avoid it. The car veered off to the left, wheels locking and screeching across a sheet of black ice. As the car careened out of control, her world transformed into a dizzying snow globe of swirling flakes and flashing scenery. Panic gripped her, clouding her thoughts.
Her headlights illuminated something. Was it the horse’s foal? A deer? She desperately tried to regain control of the car, but the steering wheel felt like a bucking bronco in her hands, jerking with a will of its own. No matter what she did, the car bore down on the amorphous form, seemingly intent on its target. At the last second, Freya screamed and braced for impact, instinctively attempting to tuck her head and raise her arms.
The vehicle slammed into the victim, and the airbags went off, then the car finally stopped. Tears streamed down her face as steadily as the snowflakes on her windshield. Her ribs and chest ached from the sudden restriction of the airbag and seatbelt, and her head was throbbing.
After several moments, she finally got the nerve to lift her head and look around. What did I just hit?
She gingerly opened her door, and the horse whinnied a short distance away. Freya looked up and saw a black buggy with another horse hitched to it, barely visible through the heavily falling snow and the darkness. Where was the driver?
She stepped around to the front of the car, not sure if she wanted to see the damage she had done to the poor animal. Clutching her churning stomach, she walked forward, pulling her jacket up over her chin against the biting cold.
It wasn’t a deer or a foal—it was a man. An Amish man.
She felt as though the blood was draining from her body as the horror of what she’d done set in.
She’d hit a man with her car.
“What have I done?” she cried out, falling to her knees beside him.
The man lay lifeless on the road, crushed by the front of her car, surrounded by a puddle of blood that was now mixing with the falling snow. The diluted red liquid began pooling around her knees and feet, and she stifled another scream with her mitten-covered hands.
“I have to do something,” she muttered, taking off her white scarf and wrapping it around his head to try to stop the bleeding, but the blood seeped right through the white material as though it was thin paper. She felt for a pulse on his neck and his wrist, but couldn’t feel a pulse. She tried CPR, not sure if she was doing it right as she pressed her hands on his chest, then felt for a pulse again.
He was dead.
“I am so, so sorry,” she whispered. “I tried to steer the car away from you, I swear…”
The man’s black hat sat in a crumpled heap under the fender of her car. She picked it up, dusting the snow off of it. Suddenly overcome with nausea, she scrambled to her feet and hurried to the side of the road as fast as she could without slipping. She retched in a bush twice, her stomach churning with guilt and the shock of what had just happened. She placed her hands on her knees, trying to calm her swirling thoughts. There was nothing she could do to save him.
He was gone.
She’d killed a man. What if someone drove by and saw what she’d done? What if it was reported to the police? He’d find her.
Far off in the distance, the glow of headlights illuminated the powerlines and the trees lining the road. Panic set in once more, and Freya rushed to her car, fumbling to get inside.
She looked up at the buggy and the two horses.
She had killed an Amish man. An innocent, pure-hearted Amish man.
Certainly, the hottest circle of hell was waiting for her after this miserable life.
No one could know of this. If she was arrested or questioned, her name might come up in the public records or the news, and her ex-fiancé would use his connections to find her.
And he would kill her. In a panic, she dropped the hat onto the passenger seat, threw the gear into reverse, and sped away.
Earlier that day...
Dark winter clouds hovered above Freya’s Victorian house as if predicting a tragedy. Though Freya had inherited the house, her fiancé, Dean, ruled over it.
“Dean, what happened to all the money?” Freya asked as they sat down at the table to eat breakfast. She’d prepared eggs, bacon, and pancakes cooked to perfection, just the way Dean liked them. The table was set with the fine china that she’d also inherited from her dear friend.
“What money?” Dean asked, slicing into his pancakes. He paused, squinting down at his plate. His black hair was cut into a short, military-style haircut, and he had a carefully trimmed beard. His muscular arms were covered in tattoos, something that had intrigued Freya when she’d first met him.
“The money I inherited from Shirley. Where is it all going? I mean, I know you said you needed some to pay off your dad’s medical bills, but it says in the bank statements it’s going to the casino. Are you gambling away my inheritance?” she demanded.
Though her voice sounded confident, she tried not to squirm in her seat. Her questions could make him angry, but she couldn’t let him squander Shirley’s money. She had plans for that money—she wanted to save it for her future children, maybe even buy another property to rent out. Now the money was dwindling away so rapidly she knew those plans would never happen.
Dean set down his fork and knife and stared at her. “Don’t question me. It’s none of your concern what I decide to do with our money. We have a joint account, remember?”
She almost spat out the drink of water she’d just sipped. “Excuse me? Shirley left me that money when she died. It’s actually my money, and it’s not meant to be gambled away.”
Adding Dean to her bank account had been a huge mistake. She realized that now.
Dean pushed back his chair and came toward her with a raging look in his eyes.
The fear of the pain she knew was coming shivered down her spine. Bruises from the most recent attack still marred her body. Her mind automatically shut down and went into survival mode as she protected her face and vital organs as much as she could with her arms.
Please, God, let him run out of anger before he does any serious or permanent damage, she prayed. If you spare me, I’ll do everything it takes to get away from him and make sure he can never hurt me again.
He yanked her from the chair she sat in and threw her against the wall. Blood burst out through her nostrils, causing red spots to splatter on Freya’s yellow shirt. She fell to the floor.
Dean looked at her as if he wanted to kill her right then and there.
“It’s my money now, you understand?” he screamed.
Freya struggled to scream for help as her survival instinct kicked in. He grabbed her throat with both his hands and slammed her head against the wall as if it were a wrecking ball. Freya fell to the floor, her head throbbing with pain. She could not see straight anymore, defenseless in front of a man who looked like he was willing to end her life with his bare hands right then and there.
She still had the signs and bruises on her hands and face from a few nights ago when Dean had attacked her.
“If you dare to say a word to someone about this, you are dead! You know I’m friends with several of the officers at work, and they would take my side!” he roared. He looked down at the red splotches of blood on his crisp, white shirt and gray tie. “Ugh. Look what you did to my shirt. Now I have to go change.” He stomped away.
His words rang in her head like a church bell. They were the last words Dean said to her before he drove off to work, probably with a smile on his face, as if he had won some great victory.
Dean was a bounty hunter now, but he had been a police officer for a short time. He didn’t make his one-year probationary period as an officer, but he made a lot of friends while he was on the force by going out and drinking with them after work. Because he didn’t follow department policy on arrests and was overly violent, he was terminated early on. So, he became a bounty hunter instead, so he could be his own boss. However, he swore his friends would do anything to help him, even lie for him.
He held that over her head every day.
Dean would find reasons to start a fight in almost everything. The most random, insignificant situations enraged him.
She had nowhere else to go. This was her house, and now that she’d stupidly let him move in a few months ago, she couldn’t get him to leave. She’d tried to leave him before, and she had the scars to prove it.
She hated the thought of leaving this house behind after she’d inherited it from her friend Shirley, who had been like a grandmother to her, but now she was seeing no other way out of this toxic, dangerous relationship.
Dean’s threats crept under her skin, haunting her very existence.
Outside was below freezing, but she couldn’t stand to be in the house a moment longer. As soon as she heard Dean’s car leave the driveway, she went outside.
Freya’s tears froze on her face before they even fell to the ground as her ears started to sting, then turned numb like the rest of her body. Her brain was too busy conjuring up a way out of this living hell to notice anything else. Her senses were shut down, her aching heart drowning out everything else, yearning for the days when she did not have to worry about staying alive.
For the first time, she clearly understood. Yes, her life was in danger. She had always wondered why nothing she did seemed to please Dean in any way. For so long, she’d thought it was her own fault. She’d thought she wasn’t good enough, caring enough, or attentive enough to him. She’d thought she wasn’t fast enough at anticipating what he wanted and providing it, soothing enough to divert his anger once aroused, strong enough to fight, quick enough to escape, or smart enough to end any argument before it got out of control.
Freya sat down on the front steps and lowered her head in her hands, defeated. Now she saw it for the first time. It wasn’t her. It was him; no matter how hard he tried to convince her, it was all her fault. Dean was a monster dressed in a man’s skin that seemed to have been sent straight from hell to terrorize her very existence.
Snow crunched under somebody’s feet. A shiver sped down her spine. Had he come back to finish the job? She didn’t even dare lift her head to see.
She felt a gentle touch on her shoulder. Her immediate reaction was to jolt backward—an automatic reaction. She had no idea if and when Dean was going to hit her, so her brain was under constant stress and fear.
A kind voice pierced through the cold. “Don’t be scared, child. I just saw you crying all alone here in the snow, and I came to see if you were all right.”
She slowly lifted her head. It was Victor, her kind, elderly neighbor.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me,” she said while trying to wipe her frozen tears off her face.
Victor was the embodiment of the typical middle-class elderly man. Always careful with his house, his car—even if it was older than Freya—and his property. During the summer, his lawn would look impeccable, and he would trim the hedges near the sidewalk. Freya had noticed that his brown dog was his only companion.
“You don’t look fine to me at all,” Victor replied, pushing his wire-rimmed glasses up on his nose. “You are crying all by yourself out here in the cold, and you aren’t wearing a jacket. You know, I’ve heard the shouting and things breaking. I was the one who called the police before.”
Freya looked down, remembering the times the police had come to Freya’s house, asking if anything was wrong, and Dean had always had some explanation to make them go away. She was not about to contradict him to the police. Before they left, she would always insist she was fine.
“I know he’s hurting you,” Victor pressed.
Tears stung Freya’s eyes. There was no getting around it—he knew. She didn’t know what to say to him. Why deny it? She didn’t want to lie, but she didn’t want to put him in danger either. Who knew what Dean would do to him if he found out that Victor knew the truth?
“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry,” she murmured, trying to walk away, but her feet were too frozen for her to be able to make a single move. “I should not get you involved in this. I am fine, trust me. I had just come out to get some fresh air.”
“And cry out here in the freezing cold?” Victor insisted. “And you have bruises on your face and neck. It’s obvious something is wrong here. I can help you get away from him, you know, if you don’t want to go to the police. I can help you with anything you need. Do you need a car to get away from him? Money for gas or a plane ticket?”
Freya turned her head away from Victor, trying to avoid his eyes. But he was not there to judge her, rather to offer a hand to a person in need.
She did not know what she felt or how to react anymore. In her head, there was a storm smashing and crashing everything in its path, and it was fueled with fear and despair. All she knew was that if this man helped her, he was as good as dead, and she couldn’t have his death be her fault.
“I’m fine,” she insisted as she finally managed to get up. She was planning on going inside, but something in her heart told her she should wait for another minute and hear what this old man had to say.
There she went again, following her same old patterns of hiding her injuries when it only protected Dean, not her.
“You can say whatever you like to me right now, but I am old enough to know that you’re most being abused,” Victor replied with a kind voice. “I’ve seen it before with other couples. I was happily married for fifty-three years, and I know what being married truly means. I know that fights are inevitable, but they shouldn’t happen like this. What is happening to you, my dear, is just wrong.”
She looked at her Victorian house that she had inherited from her friend, Shirley. It used to be filled with good memories, but on the inside, now it was a horrific prison.