THE HUNTED

EXT. CRIMSON CREEK. NIGHT

 

STEPHANIE, 17, a snarky, self-obsessed tomboy, releases a blood curdling scream as she drags her exhausted body through the waist high grass in a run.

 

Lumbering behind her at a slow lazy pace is a large, over bearing FIGURE, his features are shadowed by the enveloping darkness.

 

The looming figure is gripping an axe, letting it drag freely through the mud as he lessens the gap between himself and Stephanie.

 

Stephanie loses her footing as she glances back in terror, she catches herself and manages to stop herself from falling and continues her escape.

 

The figure raises the axe and uses it to slice through the thick blades of grass in front of him.

 

Stephanie sees trees emerging in the landscape. She grasps her last tendrils of energy. Shakily sprints towards them.

 

EXT. Crimson Creek forest. Day

 

Entering the thick shelter of the trees, Stephanie slows her pace and begins her scout for a place to hide in the darkness.

Stephanie places her back against the bark of a tree and tries to quieten her breathing as she sinks to the floor. She shrouds herself with the forestry around her.

 

She glances around the muddy floor and spots a partially hidden log. Stephanie grabs it from the ground silently. She clutches it in shaking hands.

 

Arms grab Stephanie from around the tree trunk. She releases a desperate scream into the void of the forest.

 

THE FIGURE

Gotcha!

 

Stephanie’s face rests into a scowl as reality sets in.

 

STEPHANIE

Damn it, I’d never live down being the first to die.

 

CARTER – the figure – walks round the tree to face her, he offers her his hand and helps her to her feet.

 

CARTER

So what do you think? Is this where you want     to celebrate your birthday?

 

Utter delight graces Stephanie’s mud streaked face, she grins at Carter.

 

Stephanie

Absolutely.

 

EXT. WILLOW’S HOUSE. DAY

 

Willow’s house sits in the middle of a quiet Manchester road, on a small family estate with a sense of community. Rubbish litters the ground. Toys lie haphazardly in gardens, children are playing, accompanied by the sounds of their laughter.

 

INT. WILLOW’S BEDROOM. DAY

 

WILLOW, an introverted wallflower, plucks a copy of James Dashner’s “Maze Runner” off her bookshelf, she then grasps a copy of Rachel Caine’s “Glass Houses” in her other hand.

She turns both books over and scans the writing on the back of each in turn.

 

PHOEBE (O.S)

Willow, do you really think you’re going to need 5 of     those? You’re going to be running away from serial   killers, books don’t make the best shields.

 

WILLOW’S MUM – PHOEBE is leaning her lithe body on the frame of the door. She laughs and shakes her head.

 

Willow places both books in an over stuffed hold all lay on the bed in front of her. She struggles with the zip as she answers her mother.

 

WILLOW

Maybe not, but have you ever felt the weight of my book bag? If it came down to it, I think it would make a pretty powerful weapon.

 

Willow wins her battle with the zip and lifts the heavy holdall down from the bed.

 

WILLOW

Besides, who are we kidding? I’ll be the first to die,     then I’ll probably spend the rest of the weekend alone    in my room.

 

PHOEBE

Or, maybe you’ll finally make use of those years of Judo   you complained so much about.

Willow laughs doubtfully and shakes her head.

 

WILLOW

And maybe I’ll break my arm again and get to come home.    I don’t even know why Steph invited me.

 

Phoebe crosses the room, sat on Willows bed and took her daughter’s hand comfortingly.

 

PHOEBE

Because you and Stephanie have been best friends since     you were four and she loves you?

 

Willow leans forward and kisses her mum on the head. She hoists her holdall up on to her arm and stumbles under the weight as she heads for the door.

 

EXT.WILLOW’S HOUSE. DAY

 

A six seater jeep pulls up on the sidewalk. The window of the jeep rolls down and Stephanie hangs out of it, she removes her expensive sunglasses, stretches her perfectly glossed lips into a smile and greets her best friend.

 

STEPHANIE

Get in bitch, it’s time to die.

 

Willow rolls her eyes, laughs and climbs into the car.

 

INT. JEEP. DAY

 

Willow squishes into the cramped car filled with Stephanie’s five friends, she smiles at the one she’s pressed against – DEAN, popular, proud and easily influenced, smiles back before turning his gaze admiringly towards Stephanie.

 

Stephanie glances in the mirror catching Dean’s gaze, she smiles a lazy seductive smile before blowing him a small kiss in return.

 

Willow looks down, pulling her sleeve up over her hand and twisting it nervously between both.

 

EXT. MOTORWAY. DAY

The car glides at speed down the motorway, service signs and other cars cover the road around them. The weather is as grey as the road.

 

INT. JEEP. DAY

 

Muffled shouts emerge from the boot.

 

 

JACK (O.S)

You said you’d let me in the back once we’d picked up     Willow.

 

The friends laugh hysterically.

 

STEPHANIE

Sorry Jack we can’t hear you.

 

The laughter continues, Willow wears a puzzled expression.

 

WILLOW

Why is Jack in the boot?

 

Stephanie looks at Willow like it’s completely obvious.

 

STEPHANIE

Phoebe would have flipped and never let you in the car     if she thought five of you were sharing four seats.

 

LARA’s high pitch laugh pierces the air inside the car. She wriggles her slim, perfect frame and throws her head back in utter delight. A smile graces her permanently happy face. LIAM, a self proclaimed tough guy in a Manchester City football shirt, kisses her tentatively on the neck and continues to tickle her.

 

STEPHANIE

Jesus Lara, I haven’t heard you shriek that high since     our little mishap in Mexico.

 

Everyone except Willow breaks out in to fits of laughter. Lara blushes, briefly covers her face with her hands, pushes her long, thick hair out of her face and giggles softly.

 

LARA

Ok, can we just not, I had like six mojitos and was totally     drunk.

 

The laughter continues as Dean chimes in.

 

DEAN

Yeah sure Lara, the way I remember it, you had like two   mojitos and were sick in the hotel’s vase.

 

Lara playfully gives Dean the finger.

 

LARA

Well that’s true, I definitely puked, but hey it could     have been worse, I could have accidentally got myself     suspended for sending my teacher a naughty text. What     kind of dumbass would do that?

 

A chorus of laughter and agreement fills the car. Dean nods acceptably in acknowledgment that he is that particular dumbass.

 

Dean shakes his head, and silently flips off all of his friends good naturedly.

 

Willow seeing her chance to get involved clears her throat and excitedly delves into her story.

 

WILLOW

That’s not so bad Dean! In this book I’m reading: Morganville, Claire totally has a crush on her boss and she even watches him get changed, and it’s twice as crazy because he’s like some psycho bipolar vampire, who could totally kill her in a second if he had one of his turns.

 

Willow finishes her rambling slowly and stutteringly as she’s greeted by complete silence by the rest of the group.

 

STEPHANIE

This is the real world, not one of your books no one gives a crap about some old, fictional vampire with    moodswings.

 

The laughter erupts again as Willow looks down, a fake smile plastered on her face.

 

STEPHANIE

It’s adorable, she’s like an alien.

 

Willow breathes a deep sigh and glances out the window.

 

EXT. MOTORWAY. DAY

The car speeds through a secluded landscape of empty roads and trees.

 

The sign ‘Crimson Creek’ looms in the distance.

 

INT. CRIMSON CREEK OFFICE. DAY

 

Carter is shuffling with paperwork behind the cluttered desk of the Crimson Creek check in office.

 

The office is a huge room filled with an array of unsettling props. Weapons and skulls hang ominously from the walls and taxidermied animals litter the room.

 

Mystical music drifts eerily through the hair raising atmosphere as LILY enters, her dark hair is pushed off her face falling in waves down her slim figure.

 

She approaches carter from behind in slow jerky movements, all the while her sunken dark eyes stay focused on Carter – unaware of her impending arrival.

 

Lily leans in and whispers ominously.

 

LILY

I can never go home.

 

Carter rolls his eyes and barely looks up from his paperwork as he answers her failed attempt to scare him.

 

CARTER

I hope you put on a better show than that for the     birthday     girl, I’ve known fog scarier than that was.

 

Lily pouts and folds her arms sulking.

 

LILY

Oh come on, you work here. That totally would have    scared a guest.

 

Carter moves on to the next form he needs to fill in.

 

CARTER

Yeah, if the guest was six.

 

Lily raises an eyebrow and pulls off the dark wavy wig, running her hands through her red ringlets.

 

LILY

So, I’m guessing your sour mood means Emily still hasn’t     forgiven your grumpy arse.

 

Carter stiffens and looks up making brief eye contact with Lily.

 

CARTER

Let’s not pretend you know a thing about me, Emily, or     my arse.

 

Lily opens her mouth to respond, when they hear tyres crunching on the gravel outside.

 

CARTER

Wig on, it’s show time.

 

DOMINIQUE THORPE

 

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