INT. WESLEY CRANE’S DEN - NIGHT
Awards in a glazed cabinet, laptop set-up on a desk, reclining chair opposite. The walls are plastered in cover art from several thrillers with names like “Silent Kill” and “Whispering Death.” All have a mid-90’s feel to them.
Seated at the laptop is their author, WESLEY CRANE, early fifties. He’s well-groomed, but losing some of the luster he must have had in his heyday.
Wesley holds a cellphone to his ear.
Well, tell them they can keep the BMW. As collateral. Till I hand over the first draft. What? Sue? They can’t sue! Can they? Oh.
Wesley’s shoulders slump.
I’ll get it to you by Wednesday, how’s that? Fine.
He ends the call. And hurls the cellphone across the room.
He leans forward. Presses his forehead against the laptop screen.
God, I’d give my soul to--
The laptop whirs to life. Wesley leans back. And his eyes go wide. On the laptop screen, the cursor blips across a page, spewing letters, words, paragraphs. Faster now. Faster still. The display a blur at hyperspeed, as the flow of literature comes to an end.
THE DEVIL (O.S.)
Wesley looks up.
Sprawled in the recliner opposite, is THE DEVIL. Right now, he looks like a young executive - CEO of a software company, perhaps.
Look it over. You know. Proof-read. I think I’ve captured the essence of your... style.
Go ahead. I’ve got time. Lots of it.
Who the he--?
The Devil taps his wristwatch. Gestures toward the laptop. Intrigued in spite of himself, Wesley scrolls through the text. Hesitant, at first, he’s soon absorbed, and:
This... This is brilliant. Absolutely... magnificent. Best thing I’ve written since, since--
“Silent Kill?” I loved that one.
He gets up, and approaches the desk. Perches casually on the corner.
Well? Go ahead. What are you waiting for? E-mail that puppy, and get those whining publishers off your back.
I’m supposed to mail them a manuscript--
Doesn’t make. E-mail’s legal tender, now. You wanna be able to prove to them that you had your first draft. Finished. Before Wednesday, right?
Well, yes, but--
The book. Is. Brilliant. You’ll. Make. Millions. Doesn’t matter where it came from. Think of this as a... as a dream that you’ll never wake up from.
He looks at the cover art on the den walls. The award plaques in the cabinet. And e-mails that puppy.
Thattaboy. And all I ask of you in return is what you were prepared to give. In fact, what all good writers give to their art.
He rams his clawed hand deep into Wesley’s chest.
Your heart. And soul.
He withdraws the hand. Clutching Wesley’s still beating heart in his fingers. A luminous vapor trail follows it, as the writer’s soul departs his body.
Wesley’s corpse slumps over the laptop.
The Devil straightens up, and looks to his left.
A phantom Wesley stands there. Very unhappy. A ragged hole in his chest.
Hey, Wesley, why so glum? It’s not over for you, buddy. I have work for you. I can use a man with your skills. After all, I can’t be everywhere at once, now can I?
INT. ISABELLE LANGDON’S APARTMENT - DAY (SIX MONTHS LATER)
ISABELLE LANGDON, early thirties, sits at her desk, casting a critical eye over a mock-up of the cover art for her first novel. She scrawls a note on the border with a red pen. Nods.
Her expression darkens, as she flips through the latest pile of rejection slips on her desk.
...not what we’re looking for, at this time. And fuck you, too.
She slaps them down, hard. Then picks up a book by her laptop. It’s Wesley Crane’s farewell masterpiece, the back cover a fulsome eulogy to the great man.
Isabelle opens the book, scans the text for a while. Sighs.
God, I’d give my right arm if I could write like this.
Her laptop flips open, by itself. A flurry of words races across the screen.
I think I’ve managed to... capture your style.
Isabelle turns, and:
The months haven’t been kind to phantom Wesley. Maggots in the chest wound, general decay. He looks like... well, like someone who’s been dead for six months.
Fast, though. He’s across the room, in an instant. Right in Isabelle’s horrified face.
Of course, for this kind of work, there is a price.
Wesley’s claw-like fingers shoot out, clamping onto Isabelle’s right arm. Ripping in.
FADE TO BLACK
BIO: Desmond (Des) Nnochiri spent his early years traveling with his parents, and was educated in England, the USA, and the Republic of Ireland (Eire). He writes freelance now, and has taken his first steps into the world of screenwriting. He has contributed stories to A Twist of Noir, The Flash Fiction Offensive, and Powder Burn Flash. He blogs at Des Nnochiri’s Write to Speak.