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Official website of Seattle-area actor and writer Nathaniel Jones

• Head Lake •

based on an old campfire story

A secluded cabin in the woods near Head Lake.
JAKE, TYLER, and RYAN, three college buddies, walk in laughing and horsing around. A moment later, CHASE, a freshman who is obviously not part of the other three’s clique, enters carrying piles of luggage and camping gear.

CHASE
Where do you guys want all this?

JAKE
Just toss it on the couch for now; you can figure out which things go in which rooms after you get the fire started.

CHASE
Ok. Hey, Jake, this is a really nice cabin. Thanks a lot for inviting me up here this weekend.

JAKE
Hey – what are friends for? You guys hang here for a minute – I’m gonna check on the firewood supply.

JAKE runs outside. TYLER and RYAN start digging around in the pile of bags.

TYLER
Hey Chase, what did you do with the cooler?

CHASE
It should be over there.

TYLER and RYAN find the cooler, open it and grab beers. RYAN grabs a second beer and shakes it hard, and then tosses it to CHASE, who awkwardly catches it. He is unsure if he should drink it – he’s never had beer before.

RYAN
To a great weekend!

TYLER
I’ll drink to that.

All three open their beers, and CHASE’s sprays all over him.

CHASE
Hey! What the heck!

TYLER
That was beautiful!

RYAN
Hey, sorry man, I had to do it. You should have seen the look on your face though – (imitates sound of can spraying in his face). Here – I’ll trade you beers.

RYAN tries to give CHASE his beer, but CHASE is clearly upset.

RYAN
Don’t take it so hard, man – I was just playing around. Here, take it.

CHASE takes the beer.

RYAN
Cheers.

CHASE
Cheers.

CHASE takes a taste as JAKE enters carrying an armful of firewood.

JAKE
Chase – what the hell do you think you’re doing, drinking my beer? Haven’t you ever heard of asking? Give me that – you’re too young for this anyway. That’s it, I’m calling your parents.

JAKE takes out his cell phone and starts punching numbers. CHASE is alarmed.

CHASE
No, Jake! I’m sorry, Ryan gave it to me so I thought it’d be OK! Seriously, here, I didn’t even want it, you can have it, just don’t call –

JAKE (on phone)
Yes, is this Chase’s mom? Yes, I was just calling to let you know that your boy is fraternizing with some very bad influences, and just now I caught him stealing and drinking liquor. Yes, I’m shocked too.

CHASE
Don’t! My mom will kill me!

JAKE
What’s that? You want to talk to him? Here, I’ll pass the phone over. (to CHASE) Here – it’s for you.

CHASE
Mom?

VOICE ON PHONE
…45 pm. At the tone, the time will be 10:46 pm. *beep*

CHASE hangs up the phone. The other three boys are laughing their asses off.

CHASE
That wasn’t funny.

JAKE
Come on, Chase, lighten up – that’s just the way we joke around. Here – drink up. After a few of these, you’ll think we’re hilarious too.

CHASE grudgingly takes the beer back and takes another sip. There is a moment of silence, broken loudly and suddenly by the shudders on the window slamming open from a large gust of wind.

TYLER
Oh my balls! That is some frickin’ wild-ass wind out there.

RYAN
And there’s some frickin wild-ass coldness in here. Somebody hurry up and get the fire going.

CHASE arranges the firewood in the fireplace, puts some newspaper in, and lights the fire. While he does that, JAKE grabs some storm covers and puts them on the windows to keep the shutters from opening.

JAKE
There – hopefully that should hold; that’s really some wild blowing.

TYLER
That’s funny – I said that same thing to your mom last night.

JAKE
Yeah, she told me about it. She just loves hearing those stories about your sister.

RYAN
Oh, let’s stop pretending Tyler has a sister. Everybody knows it’s just his brother in drag.

TYLER
Right – and he wants me to thank you for letting him borrow so much from your wardrobe.

CHASE
Anybody want to make s’mores?

JAKE
Heck yes I do.

The three guys join CHASE next to the fire, where he has s’mores ingredients laid out. All put marshmallows on skewers and begin to roast. After a moment, a loud crash is heard outside and the lights go out.

RYAN
Power’s out.

JAKE
You sure ‘bout that? Hold on, I’ll go get the generator running.

TYLER
Dude, wait – let’s keep the lights out and tell ghost stories.

RYAN
Welcome to fifth grade.

TYLER
No, I’m serious. This’ll be awesome.

JAKE
I’ll go with it. You know any good ghost stories?

TYLER
…not really.

RYAN
Genius.

JAKE
Well I’ve got one. It’s not a ghost story, but it’s pretty scary. And, it’s true.

RYAN
Ooooo.

JAKE
As a matter of fact, it takes place in this very cabin. Exactly one year ago tonight.

TYLER
Let me guess – it was a dark and stormy night?

JAKE
Now that you mention it, it was. But first, some history. This cabin was built by my great-great-great grandfather Syrus. In fact, he was the first person to settle near this lake, and so he named it after himself. Syrus Lake.

CHASE
But it’s not called Syrus Lake – it’s Head Lake.

JAKE
I know – I’m getting to that. Just wait. Anyway, so he discovered this lake, and since there was nobody else living on it, he decided to settle here and start a town. And it looked like he would succeed, too, but after a while people started disappearing. And at night, people would hear strange sounds on the wind – the sound of unearthly screams.

As more and more people kept disappearing, people got more and more worried. And then, one night, a pair of teenagers who were skinny dipping in the lake noticed a funny smell coming from the water, like rotting meat. So they ran back to town as fast as they could, and the next day they dredged the lake, and found the bodies of everyone that had gone missing… but the really weird thing was that all of the bodies were there – but none of the heads.

CHASE
This isn’t really a true story.

JAKE
I swear to God – you can look it up when we get back to town. It’s in all the newspapers. Anyway, none of the heads were ever found – and that’s why it’s called Head Lake.

CHASE
And did your great-great grandfather lose his head, too?

JAKE
No. After they discovered the bodies in the lake, everyone packed up and moved out, but he refused to leave. But, as the years went on, and he kept living in this cabin, he started to hear things – the voices of the dead, trying to lure him outside the cabin. So he boarded up the windows and doors, and never left the cabin again, until eventually someone broke open the door and found his corpse, which had been rotten in this very room for years.

TYLER
Is that true?

JAKE
I told you – look it up in the papers.

CHASE
Ok, so that’s the history. What happened last year?

JAKE
Ok – last year. Now, remember, this is a true story. I was actually here for it. It was a year ago from today, and I was up here with my girlfriend.

RYAN
Courtney?

JAKE
I – no, after I broke up with her. Vanessa. But – not the point. Anyway, we were driving up here, and on the way in we stopped for gas at that little place – same place we stopped today. And when I told the guy at the counter my name, his face went completely white, and he said that he had been getting calls all night for me – calls from voices that didn’t sound human. And every one of the calls had said the same thing “Come to the cabin – Join Us.” And as I stood there at the counter the phone rang again. The guy picked it up, and said, you know, “hello?” and then he looks at me and says, pale as a ghost, “it’s for you.” So I take the phone, and I’m like “who is this?” and then I hear this crazy scream, and the phone goes dead.

TYLER
Oh man, if that happened to me I would have been out of that door so lightning.

JAKE
Yeah, I bet you would. But I didn’t – I made it to the cabin, with my head –

RYAN
And I bet you got some head, too.

JAKE
Yeah, but, again, not the point.  So we make it to the cabin, and the wind is blowing – exactly like it is tonight – and by this time my girlfriend is totally freaked out, and she’s saying that she wants to go, but you know, I mean, come on. So we stayed. And just in case, I boarded up the windows – again, exactly like I did tonight – and lit a fire, and bolted the door, and had myself a good little night.

TYLER
Oh baby.

JAKE
Right. But then, during the night, I wake up and come out to the living room, because I think I hear people talking. So I get out here, and I’m calling out “is anybody there?” and all these voices start talking at once saying “Come outside, Jake – open the door – come outside.” So I am pretty freaked out myself at this point. So of course I’m not going to go outside. But then I start to hear other noises – pounding on the windows, scratching at the door, footsteps on the roof – and then I hear a scuffling in the chimney. So I slowly walk over to the fireplace to see what it is.

As he is telling the story, he slowly walks over to the fireplace and acts out the actions in the story.

JAKE
And I slowly lean into the fireplace… and I see… a human head!

JAKE takes a log from by the fire and throws it at Tyler, who screams like a little girl.

TYLER
Oh my frickin balls on my ass! What the hell!

CHASE
Wait – who’s head was in the fireplace? Your grandfathers?

JAKE
No, there wasn’t actually a head in the fireplace. I took that from one of those “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” books. But – the rest was all true.

RYAN
He’s right – that’s a true story.

CHASE
… Yeah right. I’m not that gullible.

JAKE
Uh oh – that fire doesn’t look like it’ll last much longer. Hey guys – let’s go out and grab some more wood.

CHASE
Hold on – let me put my jacket on.

JAKE
Uh – actually, I think it’d be better if you stay here and keep an eye on the stuff. Don’t want anybody sneaking in and stealing anything.

TYLER
I’ll stay here – no way I’m going out in that wind.

JAKE
Uh, Tyler, I really think you want to come and help us carry some wood.

TYLER
Oh – right. Yeah – Chase, you hold down the fort here.

CHASE
I know you’re trying to pull something on me – but it’s not going to work. Just to warn you. So – might as well stay out of the cold.

RYAN
Pull something? Us? Would we ever do anything like that?

JAKE
Come on fellas – we’ve got a lot of wood to bring in.

TYLER
That’s what I said to your mom last night.

JAKE, RYAN, and TYLER walk out, leaving CHASE alone in the cabin. Chase sits around for a minute, and then goes and tries to bring more life to the fire. It’s still cold, so he grabs his sleeping bag, and snuggles up in it as he tries to make another s’more. After a few more minutes, he starts to hear voices from outside the cabin.

JAKE
Chase! Come outside the cabin!

TYLER
Join us!

RYAN
We want your head!

TYLER
That’s what she said.

RYAN
Shhh!

TYLER
Come out, Chase! Come out of the cabin!

CHASE
Guys, could you be a little more immature?

The guys continue to say spooky things. There is pounding on the windows and the door.

CHASE
You’re not scaring me – you’re only getting on my nerves!

After a little while the pounding and hollering go quiet.

CHASE
Guys?

CHASE slowly walks up to the door up the cabin and places his ear up to it.

CHASE
Guys?

All of a sudden the pounding at the doors and windows begins again.

CHASE
I can’t believe I just fell for that! That’s it guys – fool me once, you’re not gonna fool me again!

CHASE goes to his pack and pulls out an ipod, puts in his earphones, and ignores the sounds of the pounding on the cabin. He continues to be ignorant of the sounds, until one huge thud slams against the door hard enough cause the wood to splinter.

CHASE
Ok, what the hell was that?

CHASE gets up and opens the door a crack.

CHASE
Guys?

Nobody is outside, but a strong gust of wind tries to push the door open. With all his strength he manages to get the door closed and bolted, and he then drags the couch from across the road to block the door. More slamming continues on the door, but the couch holds firm. Screams are heard from outside the cabin.

CHASE opens takes off one of the storm covers from the window, picks up a large torch flashlight and shines it out into the woods.

CHASE
Hey guys – this isn’t funny! Get back in here! Guys!

He shines the light around but sees nothing, so he closes the window and replaces the storm cover. As soon as the cover is on, a loud slam hits against the window, knocking CHASE back.

And then for a moment things are calm – until the scratching begins. Sounds of scratching come from the doorway, as if some animal is trying to claw its way in.

The scratching gets louder and more intense. By now the fire has died down, and the only light comes from CHASE’s flashlight. The clawing sounds continue, as CHASE, growing more terrified by the moment crouches in the corner shining his light on the door, and at the windows, wherever the sound is coming from. After a while, the flashlight goes dead, and we’re left in complete darkness with only the sound of scratching and clawing amidst the noise of the wind.

Sound fades out, and then we have lights up for

SCENE TWO – the next morning.

CHASE is asleep in the corner, in the same position he was at the end of scene one. There’s a knocking at the door.

CHASE gets up, moves the couch away from the door. Once the doorway is cleared, he opens the door. The outside of the door is covered with clawmarks and blood. A POLICE OFFICER stands outside.

OFFICER
What the hell happened here last night?

CHASE
What? What happened?

OFFICER
We received several calls telling us to come to this cabin, and when we get here we find three dead bodies on the porch, their hands worn down to bloody stumps from clawing at the door.

CHASE
Oh my God – this can’t be happening. Where are they?

OFFICER
The bodies have been taken to get autopsied. At least – all we could find of them.

CHASE
All you could find?

OFFICER
We still haven’t been able to find the heads.

END



2009 - Nathaniel Jones