Logline: A plantation owner promises to set a slave’s son free, but the promise comes with a price.
I wrote this in one week for round #1 of the NYC Midnight Screenwriter’s Challenge (2012). The writers in my heat had a week to write a horror short about a promise, featuring a slave as one of the characters.
Holy hell, another HORROR short! My writing has slowed down more than I’d care to admit these past few weeks (months?), and a horror script with a deadline is EXACTLY what I needed.
I deliberated on the parameters for all of five minutes before deciding to go with a more traditional setting. Despite the multitude of options for a slavery story (sex slave, slave to an addiction, cubicle slave, etc.), the first idea that took shape in my mind was of an African-American slave in the months leading up to the American Civil War.
I wanted this story to have a supernatural element, but I also wanted the horror to fixate on what people are capable of doing to one another. I chose to tell the story of Abraham, a married slave with a five year-old son. Abraham isn’t a brave man, but the rumors of Lincoln fighting to end slavery have instilled him with just enough hope that he considers taking his family and trying to escape. When the plantation owner makes Abraham and offer, the choice Abraham is presented with is very “one in the hand, two in the bush.”
When Abraham makes his choice, the horror ensues.
I ran the script by Cori and Justin, and I could tell by their reactions that I’d hit the mark. Cori wasn’t quite sure what to say after she’d finished reading, an indication that my attempt at an unsettling story was successful. Justin confirmed by suspicions by telling me it was both ‘disturbing’ and ‘unexpected.’ (Consider the treasure trove of horror knowledge stored inside Justin’s head, I took his statement as sincere flattery.)
If you’re a fan of horror, then I encourage you to download the script and give it a read. If you’re not a fan of horror, then I need to caution you: you won’t be able to “unsee” what your mind’s eye conjures up once you reach the end.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Download screenplay: Abraham’s Promise
UPDATE: ‘Abraham’s Promise’ placed 1st in its heat! Onto round #2…