ICE BOX By Christopher Durenberger
INT. DARK ROOM - NIGHT The room - Dark. Cold. Bare. The main traits of this room are it’s absent features. Those include windows, light fixtures, stairs, entrances or exits of any kind, save for a door. A door without a handle. AUBREY has a bruise on her cheek. This small blemish happens to be her only imperfection. Her body, fully matured but only just. Aubrey shivers. MARTHA’s fingers gently examine the mar. Her motions are slow yet confident. Her entire being seems filled with the stuff lesser people have less of. It’s the stuff that makes the mother and she plays the role well. MARTHA It’s nothing child. AUBREY (near tears) Did I fall? I don’t remember falling. MARTHA Nothing’s nothing and should be treated as such. Don’t think another thing of it. AUBREY You know what I think. It’s his smell. She gestures her head toward a dark corner in the room. MARVIN festers in the corner. He scratches himself and looks over. His skin looks whiter than pale. Borderline blue. Aubrey and Martha’s conversation slides to a whisper. AUBREY (CONT’D) Smell can cause a bruise cant it, if it smells bad enough? MARTHA That’s more than nonsense, talk like that will make it worse, trust me, and what’s more he can’t help himself. It’s past his time is all and there’s nothing to MARVIN (O.S.) Past who’s time?
Martha and Aubrey turn. Marvin has risen and moves toward them slowly. MARVIN (CONT’D) Your time’s coming Martha. (to aubrey) Your time’s next. BRIAN (O.S.) Marvin, Back to your corner. Now. BRIAN lays off to the side. He slowly rises, revealing his great height. He has aged well. His firm demeanor, his sculpted form. Every part of him hardened by time and an invisible fire. MARVIN And what about you Brian? I mean you have been here the longest. What’s your secret, huh? Why aren’t you long gone? MARTHA I’m sorry Marvin. I spoke out of turn. We’ve all been waiting here so long, last thing we should do is say things that need whispering. (beat) There will be an illumination soon. MARVIN You’d like that wouldn’t you? AUBREY We all would. Would we?
Aubrey shifts her eyes down in hopes that it will miraculously make her invisible. Marvin approaches her. Steps real close. Aubrey gasps. Covers her nose, shielding herself from his stench. She can’t help it. Marvin takes a step back. Genuinely hurt - then angry. He continues toward her. MARVIN (CONT’D) Let me see that bruise Aubrey.
MARTHA Oh Marvin leave the girl be. Marvin gently holds her face. Aubrey lets go of her nose, then gags. MARVIN Aww look at that. Look at that little thing. You really are perfect. You know that. For most of us it’s hard to tell what day we are at our peak, but not you. For you it’s easy. It’s today. Aubrey is terrified. Her eyes clasp shut. Marvin is far to close for comfort and still moves closer. BRIAN Leave her alone Marvin. MARVIN Shame about this bruise really. How long, how long do you think till it spreads, digs in, makes you rotten to the core?! Marvin Presses into it. Aubrey SCREAMS. Brian wrestles him away from her. Brian strikes Marvin’s face with a solid punch. Marvin collapses. Holds on to Brian’s shirt. Brian pries Marvin from him, who plummets to the ground, leaving a large tear in Brian’s shirt. All attention on the tear, then Marvin cracks up. He starts pointing at it, laughing harder. Shock hits Martha’s face, then solemnness. Aubrey wipes a tear. Oh Brian.
Brian looks down at the tear. A mossy green patch has fused to his skin. Brian removes his shirt, revealing a large line of thick mold up the waist and toward the chest.
Brian, no. How long?
BRIAN Martha. Martha listen to me. I’m all right. MARTHA We must pray. It’s not to late for you, we must pray for an illumination. BRIAN Truth is I don’t care anymore. A wellspring of emotion floods through Aubrey as she dashes away from the group toward the door. Marvin brakes into a COUGHING FIT, hacking up a pool of clumping milk. Aubrey’s harsh pounding RATTLES the entrance. Her SCREAMS slowly recede to sobs. Martha, shaken, gets down on her knees. Clasping her hands together she prays. Brian squats next to her, resting his head on her shoulder. MARTHA (slow, shaken) Lord... Lord. Bless us with your illumination. Rinse and pluck out our imperfections, that we may enter into you as one flesh. Through the prayer Marvin’s eyes drift from his discharge to Brian’s back. His eyes widen. Mouth gapes. He slowly crawls toward him. Marvin’s hands gently touch Brian’s back as the prayer ends. Brian swivels around, pinning Marvin to the floor, planting his face in the milky stew. No words. Just breathing. Then Martha sees what Marvin saw. She rises over Brian, slowly rubbing his upper back. Brian looks up at her. What?
Then we see it. Across Brian’s shoulder blades. A long tattoo reading: EXP: 2/09/11 MARTHA Symbols. Imprinted on your back. Did you know? BRIAN What are you talking about. He releases Marvin. Marvin squirms up, removing his shirt as well. MARVIN Me! Me! Do I have them? Marvin swivels around and sure enough, on his back: EXP: 2/28/11 Brian squints at Marvin’s back. BRIAN What do you suppose they mean? Marvin and Brian look at Martha. Her shirt pulls up, revealing: EXP: 4/30/11 INT. DARK ROOM - LATER Aubrey, exhausted, scrapes at the door. She talks to the door. Begs to the door. AUBREY Please. Please. What do you want from me? Brian, Martha and Marvin sit in a circle, tracing the lettering on each others backs in a desperate search for meaning. AUBREY (O.S.) (CONT’D) This is all I got. I’ll try to keep it safe for you until light comes but it won’t last for long.
INT: FAMILY HOME - DAY A Beautiful home with all the trimmings. A house of Comfort and warmth. The front door opens. The lights turn on. A Husband and Wife enter the house. They all carry luggage, boxes and bags. All signs points to this being the return from a very long trip. AUBREY (O.S.) Please. I’m ready now. Hold me in your hand. Consume me. Devour me. I want you to. I am begging you. The Husband places his bags down and plods to the kitchen. He opens the fridge. INT: DARK ROOM - CONTINUOUS The door flies open, consuming the room in a blinding light. Aubrey, blown back by the lights very presence. Martha, Brian and Marvin stand up to face it. Marvin shields his eyes. Brian dips his head. Martha clasps her hands together. Aubrey smiles. INT: FAMILY HOME - CONTINUOUS The Husband looks at the fridges contents. An Apple in the front. A loaf of bread, a half gallon of milk and packaged meat rest further back. He covers his nose. BOY Honey, the milk’s gone bad. MOTHER Toss it. Toss everything that’s bad out, we’ll go to the store. The bread THUDS in the trash can. The milk GLUGS as it pours down the sink. The boy sniffs the meat. Shrugs. Tosses it. Picks up the apple. Sees the bruise.
A long sharp knife slowly cuts the blemish away. The Husband takes a bite. FADE OUT.