The Morningsider (Issue 1 – Act 3)

The Witch’s Castle

exterior –
Morningside Park.
The playground at 123rd St.
day

A college-age, Caucasian girl sits on one end of a bench by the playground at 123rd. She wears trendy clothes and has short, brown hair. She glances around at different people, looking for someone.

overhead shot

Our perspective moves up, as if from the view of a bird in one of the trees above the playground. A group of middle school, African-American boys play basketball within the fenced area. We can see the girl on the bench on the other side of the basketball court.

over-shot
behind boy

Our perspective shifts to stand behind one of the boys playing basketball. He has stopped, still holding the ball, and notices the girl on the bench.

group shot
of all the boys
playing basketball
BOY
(passing the ball to a teammate)
Keep playing. I’ll be right back.
several panels
showing the following

The boy leaves the fenced area and nervously (but trying to look casual) makes his way over to the bench where the girl sits. He looks about 12 years old and wears a basketball jersey from his middle school as well as long shorts and basketball shoes.

BOY
(standing by the opposite end of the bench from the girl)
Are you her?
mid shot
of girl at a low perspective
from the waist up
GIRL
Yeah. So you’re the one who called the hotline?
wide two-shot
taking in both of them
on the bench
BOY
(sits down. sheepishly)
Do you think I’m crazy?
GIRL
I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t think there was something going on here.
BOY
But like ghosts and witches and stuff? Do you believe in all that?
GIRL
I think there are things out there… Have you seen a ghost?
BOY
I think I saw a witch.
GIRL
Here in the park?
BOY
Yeah. It went into it’s castle.
close up on the girl
GIRL
(with an “are you serious” look on her face)
The witch has a castle?
mid shot
both of them
on the bench again
BOY
You live in Morningside, and you never heard of the Witch’s Castle?
GIRL
Show me where it is.
BOY
For fifty bucks.
GIRL
(perturbed and insulted)
Don’t hustle me.
BOY
Alright. Twenty, then.
waist-up shot
just the girl

The girl slips her hand into her pocket surreptitiously. She obviously came to this meeting expecting to have to pay money for the information she wants.

slightly wider frame than the last,
showing boy leaning in from his side
BOY
Not here, stupid! You want people to think I’m pushin’?
pull back to
several frames
at a slight distance

The boy gets up and heads up the stairs toward Morningside Drive/122nd St. The girl follows him. When they get halfway up the stairs to a place where the weeds grow high on either side of the steps, he turns around to her with his hand out.

wide two-shot

The boy and girl stand opposite each other on a level part of the sidewalk between two flights of steps.

GIRL
(glancing around)
Where is it?
BOY
Give me the money first, here where no one can see us, and then I’ll take you.
close up
hands exchanging money

The girl hands him a folded $20 bill.

several panels at quite a distance
that show their progress on the path

The boy leads her up the steps to the path along the retaining wall. Eventually, they come to the buttress with the iron-gated opening at the bottom. The boy points at the dungeon-like gate.

mid over-shot
from behind the boy
GIRL
(incredulous)
I paid you twenty bucks to show me a rock wall?
mid over-shot of boy
from behind the girl
BOY
(glancing a little nervously at the gate)
It went in there. Last night.
pull back a little wider
BOY
(he points to the sassafras grove)
I saw something in the trees down there. I thought it was one of the coyotes or a turkey or something, but then I heard talking. I think the witch was casting a spell or something. I hid behind that rock, and then I saw it go up here to its castle and go inside.
close up on girl
GIRL
Talking? … What did the witch say?
back to
mid shot of boy

The boy shrugs.

several wide and mid shots

The girl walks over to the gate and tries it. It doesn’t budge on its rusty hinges, and we see her straining with effort to no avail.

close up of girl

She inspects the hinges and notices that some fine rust powder has piled up on the ground beneath them, indicating that someone opened the gate sometime in the not-so-distant past.

GIRL
(dusting off her hands)
Do kids ever go in there?
BOY
(off frame)
No! Are you crazy? Everybody knows the witch lives in the castle.
knee-level shot

We see the trash inside the gate on the other side of the boy’s and girl’s legs and feet standing next to the gate.

GIRL
So who left all that trash in there?
BOY
I guess homeless dudes ain’t scared of no witches.
cut to
two-shot
GIRL
Have other kids seen it?
BOY
They talk about it.
GIRL
Tell your friends that if anyone gets a picture of this witch, I’ll give them twenty dollars. Call the hotline and ask for Ellie but don’t say what it’s for.
wide shot
from behind the boy

The girl walks off south toward the stairs at 116th St.

BOY
(calling out)
You still pay for information about the turkeys and coyotes and stuff too, right?
wide shot

Ellie has walked halfway up the stairs.

ELLIE
(calling back, not turning around)
That’s what the hotline’s for.
END SCENE
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