‘Two Little Boys’ – My First Short Screenplay

A quick note on screenplay notation: INT = interior, EXT = exterior, V.O. = voiceover, O.S. = off-screen

INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

Small, cosy living room with classic décor. Two brothers, MATTHEW, 9, and ANTHONY, 7, sit on the CARPET by the lit FIREPLACE. Next to the fireplace there is an old CHAIR. They are playing with TOY TRAINS. The adjacent kitchen is visible through a doorway where MOTHER and FATHER can be seen moving about as they prepare dinner. Their idle chatter is heard but unintelligible.

Anthony has made a tiny working circuit of railway. He watches the train go round.

ANTHONY (whooping)

I did it! Look, Matty, loo-

MATTHEW (irritated)

 What?

Anthony sees that Matthew has made a monstrous system of interlinking circuits and raised bridges, with several trains controlled by a complicated-looking series of switches.

ANTHONY

Nothing.

 The boys’ GRANDFATHER enters the room quietly. The brothers don’t notice.

ANTHONY (muttering)

At least mine is prettier.

MATTHEW (glancing over contemptuously)

Yours is tiny!

ANTHONY (defensively)

Hey, it’s bigger than it used to be.

MATTHEW

Well, mine is bigger than yours.

Grandfather snorts from behind them and both boys jump. Both brothers forget their toys and watch him walk to the chair by the fireplace.

GRANDFATHER

Don’t you worry lads, you’ve got plenty of living to do before you have to stress about disappointing the ladies.

He sits and starts warming himself by the fire.

GRANDFATHER

You get to a point where you no longer feel the need to compensate.

He takes out a RIDICULOUSLY LARGE PIPE and starts to smoke. Matthew and Anthony share a confused look.

ANTHONY

We were just playing with our trains, Granddad.

GRANDFATHER (smiling)

I can see that, Anthony. What a gorgeous track you’ve made! And Matt my boy, such intricacy!

They grin with sheepish pride.

GRANDFATHER (CONT.)

I wonder… have I ever told you about my train story…?

MATTHEW

Yeah Granddad, the one with the French girl in one carriage and the Spanish girl in the next carriage-

GRANDFATHER (interrupting)

NO, Matthew, not that one, and please don’t ever mention that in front of your mother. The story I’m talking about was a long, long time ago, on a freezing wintry night like this…

EXT. SNOWY FIELD. NIGHT

Fade to black, which becomes the night sky, pinpricked with hundreds of tiny stars. A forest and snow underfoot become visible.

GRANDFATHER (V.O.)

I was just a tiny young lad then, like yourselves…

YOUNG BOY 1, around 11, becomes visible. His cheeks are a rosy red from the cold.

GRANDFATHER (V.O.) (CONT.)

There was another lad there, a great friend of mine, and we were heading out to the railway tracks for an adventure.

Young Boy 1 is joined by YOUNG BOY 2, 9, and both race downhill through the snow to the railway.

INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

GRANDFATHER (CONT.)

In those days, the snow used to get so bad that trains couldn’t run unless they swept it all aside with great machines, which left these terrific piles of snow everywhere – absolutely humongous, they were.

EXT. RAILWAY. NIGHT

Young Boy 1 races along the track, gives a war cry, then dives into a mountain of snow. Young Boy 2, laughing, follows. The two wrestle in the snow.

GRANDFATHER (V.O.) (CONT.)

We were always told never to loiter on the railways, but we had ourselves a curiosity, so we decided to go exploring.

Young Boy 1 jogs along the track, kicking up flares of snow around. Young Boy 2 looks around, worried, but runs to catch up shortly after.

GRANDFATHER (V.O.) (CONT.)

We came to a place where the railway went straight through a hill. Couldn’t be bothered to go round the great thing, and it weren’t tall enough to warrant a tunnel, so they just carved the bleeding thing right in two so the train could squeeze through a gap in the middle.

Young Boy 1 and 2 run through the gap. On both sides are steep cliff faces where the hill has been dug through. Further down, a GATE is visible leading to a walkway out.

GRANDFATHER (V.O.) (CONT.)

Of course, the snow doesn’t settle on these cliff edges on either side – which mean that the piles of snow are twice as high here as they were before.

 INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

GRANDFATHER (CONT.) (to children)

We get right to the middle of this absolutely ginormous stinking hill where the snow is biggest, and you know what happens next, don’t you?

ANTHONY (mouth ajar)

What happens?

MATTHEW

A train! A train comes, doesn’t it, Granddad?

GRANDFATHER

You’re absolutely right. We hear it first, a rumble…

EXT. RAILWAY. NIGHT

Young Boy 1 is panting, lying in the snow. After a few moments, a distant rumble slowly becomes audible. He looks at Young Boy 2. Snow starts to shake on the rails. They scramble up and Young Boy 2 attempts to scale the cliff edge, but it is an impossible task and he keeps slipping.

YOUNG BOY 1 (pointing)

The gate!

Young Boy 2 sprints and gets to the gate first, pushing it. The train becomes a roar.

YOUNG BOY 2

IT’S FROZEN STUCK! IT WON’T OPEN!

Young Boy 1 runs to his side as Young Boy 2 continues to push. The train has become visible as a monstrous black void against the stars.

Young Boy 2 gives a cry of despair, but Young Boy 1 makes a running charge at the gate and knocks it open with his shoulder. Young Boy 2 slips in his rush to join Young Boy 1 through, but Young Boy 1 grabs his hand and pulls him through just as the train blasts pass.

Young Boy 2 looks at his saviour in terror and awe. For a moment only their panting is audible as the noise of the train recedes. The two then get slowly to their feet and wonder out of the railway and into a dark forest.

INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

GRANDFATHER

And that, chaps, is why you should always be careful playing with trains.

He winks.

GRANDFATHER

Although mine was markedly bigger than both of yours.

MATTHEW

Wait, Granddad, what happened in the forest? How did you get home?

GRANDFATHER (smile slips)

Ah. That is a story for another time, perhaps.

ANTHONY (shocked with the thought of missing out)

No! Please Granddad, what happened next?

MATTHEW

Yeah, what happened? We really want to know.

Grandfather gives a very long, soft sigh.

GRANDFATHER (unsmiling)

We had to walk home through that forest.

MATTHEW (impatiently)

And?

GRANDFATHER

And…there was a bear.

EXT. DARK SNOWY FOREST. NIGHT

Young Boy 1 and 2 both stumble through the forest, too shocked and tired for words. For the longest time the only sound is the crunch of their feet in the snow and the sight of menacing shadows of trees in wicked shapes. Both are very obviously afraid.

Young Boy 1 stops suddenly.

YOUNG BOY 1 (whispering)

What was that?

YOUNG BOY 2 (still shaken)

What was what?

YOUNG BOY 1 (grabs him)

Shh!…There’s…listen, there’s… a noise.

Very faintly, in the distance, there’s a crunching sound of footsteps. Silence, then a crash as snow falls from a tree to the ground beside them. Young Boy 2 yells in fright but Young Boy 1 stifles it quickly with his hand. More silence.

YOUNG BOY 1

It’s probably nothing… still…

They slowly start to wonder through the forest again, even more cautious than before, now holding hands. Eventually they come to a stop at hearing a curious heavy mewling noise.

YOUNG BOY 2

What -

He cuts off as one of the tree shadows nearby begins to move and separate. The shadow is of a BEAR CUB in the tree. Young Boy 1 and 2 look at each other. A rhythmic crunching begins behind them and gathers in intensity. They turn to see a huge MOTHER BEAR running towards them. She roars and they run, separating.

The bear closes ground fast on Young Boy 2. He stumbles. The bear rushes in, roaring again.

YOUNG BOY 1 (throwing rocks)

HEY! OVER HERE!

One of the rocks hits the bear square on the head. Furious, she turns towards her attacker. Young Boy 2 scrambles up a nearby oak.

Young Boy 1 is now in a clearing with nothing around but the bear lumbering towards him. He looks around him desperately.

YOUNG BOY 2 (screaming)

CLIMB UP THE TREE!

Young Boy 1 sprints flat out, looping round to Young Boy 2’s tree. He hits a snowdrift but somehow keeps his feet. The bear stumbles momentarily but shakes itself off and restarts its charge with renewed vigour.

Young Boy 1 approaches the tree just as the bear is closing on him. Young Boy 2 hugs a branch with his legs and holds his right arm out for Young Boy 1 to grab. Young Boy 1 jumps -

INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

MOTHER (O.S.)

BOYS! TIME FOR DINNER!

MATTHEW

Wow! I can’t believe you fought against a BEAR! How cool is that, Anthony?

Anthony is completely stunned and wide-eyed. We hear mother enter.

MATTHEW

What happened next?

MOTHER

BOYS! Come on! It’ll get cold.

All leave, apart from Granddad, who rises out of his chair slowly. He pulls back his right sleeve and gives another huge sigh that finally shows his age. We see that his right arm is slashed in the thick scars of a bear claw.

Covering it again, he leaves the room.

FADE OUT.

NOTE: I’m thinking it might be a little hard to visualise in text, but the original story stemmed from the idea that seeing the flashback, under traditional assumptions, you would think that the Grandfather figure is the ‘Young Boy 1′ character whereas by the end it seems likely he is actually ‘Young Boy 2′

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