THE ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Final Draft, November 1996
© Brad McGann
SCENE 1.EXT HIGH COUNTRY FOREST DAY SCENE 1
We see two pairs of well-worn boots walk through the forest undergrowth.
A young boy (LITTLE MAN) walks beside his FATHER, through a thicket of trees on the edge of a high country expanse. The both carry sacks. They stop to clear a large hare from a trap. The father bends and releases the trap with expertise.
LITTLE MANA glacial wind whips up. The hare is placed in the father's sack. The father signals for Little Man to follow.
Dad says the shock of the trap kills em. Their heart stop
beating when they know they've been caught.
Little Man's attention is caught by a scuttling noise above him, a pine cone is knocked from a high branch.
LITTLE MANTITLE: POSSUM
Sometime a possum get caught too.
We see a small shack amongst trees. (Estab. shot)
SCENE 2A. INT. KITCHEN DUSK SCENE 2
A small butcher's axe chops meat on a wooden board. We see an unusual yet attractive girl in her early teens (MISSY) chopping up a small skinned creature.
SCENE 3. INT. DINNER TABLE EARLY EVENING SCENE 3
A small pair of hands carefully lay out a knife and fork on an old wooden table. A plate is placed between them.
Once in a while I set a place for Mum... so she won't go
In a sparsely decorated interior akin to a run-down cottage, a family sit at a table. A magpie sits on a perch at one side of the room, looking on.
Casserole is placed in front of each family member. The father sits at one end. On one side sits MISSY; opposite her sits LITTLE MAN. At the other end a plate is set for an invisible guest.
The father stares at the plate, as though recalling something.
Missy runs a finger around the edge of her glass creating a ghostly noise. Little Man looks at the plate of food before the empty chair, then to Missy who meets his eyes.
Missy sips her water and widens her eyes. Little Man smiles. The father gives Little Man a stern look.
DADLittle Man takes a mouthful and casts his eyes to the kitchen. Beneath a table amongst the shadows squats a young girl, KID, a feral looking thing almost half animal. She eats with her hands.
Kid's lucky. She didn't have to eat at the table.
Kid like to be left alone.
Missy scrapes the full plate of food into the stock pot.
SCENE 4. INT. KITCHEN EARLY EVENING SCENE 4
In the kitchen LITTLE MAN and MISSY are doing the dishes. An open window reveals a receding high-country landscape at dusk.
MISSYLittle Man bends down to retrieve what looks like a dog bowl from beneath the kitchen table. Kid is nowhere to be seen. Little Man passes the plate to Missy who gives it a quick token scrub.
Can you get her plate.
MISSYMissy slaps the plate on the rack.
She'll need a bath.
SCENE 5. INT. KITCHEN NIGHT SCENE 5
KID screams as LITTLE MAN struggles to get her dress off and take her near a copper bath.
LITTLE MANLITTLE MAN places KID into a steaming bath. Kid struggles and kicks trying to break free, making the job virtually impossible. Little Man clucks his tongue trying to calm her.
Kid don't like water. She scream an' scratch her nails.
No-one else go close...
He passes her the soap. Kid bites it. A small wooden boat floats on the water. Little Man pours water from a jug onto Kid's matted hair. Dirt flows in the water.
LITTLE MANKid kicks her legs, splashing water over the edge of the bath.
(voice of... con'd)
...scaredy cats, scaredy cats, that what I say to Kid. Kid
bites. When she bites, she bite hard.
Kid grabs Little Man's hand, causing him to drop the jug. She looks at the gap between his fingers, holding it close to her eye.
***For a moment we travel at blinding speed through shrub and bushes. Kid blinks, pushes his hand away. (Sound of spash.)
Little Man vigorously dries Kid's hair with a towel. He tries to comb her hair. In an old mirror he studies her reflection, puzzled by her other-worldliness. The state of the mirror accentuates her strange demeanour.
Kid got power of the howling wind.
SCENE 6. INT. BENEATH KITCHEN TABLE NIGHT SCENE 6
The pages of a large book turn as though blown by a light wind.
KID crawls under the kitchen table, taking refuge in the shadows. The magpie watches her, almost suspiciously.
Beneath the kitchen table KID emerges from the shadows and turns the pages of a large worn book on animal life. The etchings of animals are almost photograph-like.
LITTLE MANAs she slowly turns the pages Kid becomes fixated with the pictures, jerks her head slightly. Her hair is still wet and matted from the bath. She perfectly mimics the sound of each animal or bird. The sounds are haunting.
Kid know 'bout animals.
INSERT: Little Man is carefully laying out crayons in a straight row, evenly spaced. He looks up in the direction from where the sounds are coming.
LITTLE MANA pair of feet walk past the table. MISSY bends and peers into the shadows, watches kid with her book. A CAT sidles up along side her. She takes the cat and holds it out before her. The cat hisses at the presence under the table. The cat hisses again vehemently, and Kid backs away into the shadows. Missy stands and walks away.
She teach me the sounds of animals I've never seen.
Kid's face emerges from the shadows, she imitates the hiss of the cat.
Missy says Kid got a devil in her. She tell me to be careful.
...She says Kid stole mum's breath when she was born.
SCENE 7. INT. LIVING AREA NIGHT SCENE 7
DAD sits at the table fixing a trap. He turns to the kitchen table where the sound of a domestic cat growling can be heard. He stamps his foot. The noise ceases.
LITTLE MAN lies in front of the fire. He draws with crayons.
LITTLE MANThe fire crackles and glows in the grill. His drawing is slightly devilish, revealing a natural talent. Little Man draws in the eyes then looks in the fire. Glowing embers breathe, drift strangely up into darkness. A small ember explodes, momentarily startling the cat. Otherwise everything seems peaceful.
I like night-time before bed. In the fire, I see faces of the
spooks that live outside. They come down from the mountain
to keep warm in the fire.
MISSY enters in a night-gown and brushes her hair in front of the fire.
Missy glances at the picture.
MISSYMissy takes a crayon and scribbles over the eyes giggling. Little Man slaps her hand. A play fight ensues and she holds Little Man down, pretends to dribble on him. They both giggle, Little Man tries to avoid the spit.
Here, let me fix the eyes.
Dad tests the trap. It goes off. He looks at his children, as he stands.
SCENE 8. INT. HALLWAY NIGHT SCENE 8
Using a lantern, LITTLE MAN opens a hatch door in the floor boards. It squeaks on its rusty hinges. KID scuttles past him and through the hatch. Little Man looks into the darkness where Kid has disappeared. The distant sound of wind comes up from under the house. He lifts the lid to the hatch and closes it.
We are left in darkness for a split second.
SCENE 9. INT. LITTLE MAN & MISSY'S BEDROOM NIGHT SCENE 9
LITTLE MAN puts the picture on the wall behind the bed. He tries with a finger nail to remove some of Missy's crayon.
LITTLE MANHe blows out the candle, lies in bed. Rain runs against the windowpane casting a reflection on his face. He looks at the gap between his fingers, makes a shadow on the wall. The low sound of footsteps can be heard. The door partially opens and the FATHER looks in on his children. A shaft of light shines through onto the Little Man.
MISSY suddenly wakes, turns over and sees her father watching her. There is an exchange of looks. The door is pulled gently shut.
LITTLE MANLittle man relights the candle, places it on the floor. He settles back down in bed. His face warms in the light.
At night stray dogs come up under our house to lick the
(vo cont'd - whisper)
I lie awake listening thinking of names to name the
one... which could be mine.
SCENE 9A. UNDER HOUSE NIGHT SCENE 9A
Sinking below the floorboards, we see a rusty leaking pipe. A dark shape moves in the background (a DOG), whining softly to itself. We reveal Kid. She looks toward the light shining through the floorboards.
FADE TO BLACK.
SCENE 10. EXT BACK-YARD OF SHACK MORNING SCENE 10
LITTLE MAN is helping the FATHER roll skins into bundles. He runs his hand through fur. The FATHER picks up the pile Little Man is playing with and places it on top of the rest.
Has she had breakfast?
SCENE 11. INT KITCHEN/BENEATH KITCHEN TABLE MORN SCENE 11
We see a porridge bowl being turned over.
LITTLE MAN bends down to clean up spilt porridge under Kid's table.
Missy pushes open the kitchen window, idly braids her hair. She notices the mess Kid's making.
MISSYLittle Man wipes up porridge from Kid's book and opens it to the page of a tiger in an exquisite jungle surround. He runs his finger across the image almost caressing it. He runs his finger along the word accompanying the picture.
I've told you not to give her porridge.
She can't help it.
LITTLE MANHe looks into the shadows. We hear the low rumbling growl of a tiger. We see Kid's face in the shadows. The noise suddenly transforms into a screech of a chimpanzee, and the book is snatched from his hands.
LITTLE MANThe FATHER enters and scruffs his son's head, he is wearing a change of clothes. He puts on his hat, nods goodbye to his children.
Sometimes Kid didn't wanna teach me stuff.
FATHERLittle Man goes to the door and watches the father walk off into the distance. He is carrying a bag.
SCENE 12. INT PARENTS BEDROOM LATE AFTERNOON SCENE 12
MISSY and LITTLE MAN stand in the doorway to their parents bedroom.
Missy enters, Little Man follows. He looks about the room tentatively as Missy moves over to a dusty dresser. Se picks up a half burnt cigarette, lights it and places it back in the ashtray. Missy locates a hidden key under a candle holder, unlocks a drawer and takes out an old jewelry box.
Little Man approaches and watches his sister open the box. Inside are bits and pieces belonging to the mother including an old photo of her. She takes out a small scent-cushion, gives it to Little Man who takes a sniff. Missy passes the photo to Little Man, notices the way he is looking at it. Missy picks up a string of pearls and makes a crown out of it, places it on Little Man's head. She giggles at what she's created.
An old gramophone plays.
Little Man and Missy bounce on the bed with great verve, as they drink their father's whisky. With a high bounce Missy lands flat on her back. Little Man jumps about on top sipping from the small bottle. He gags and coughs.
Missy laughs as she pulls him down onto the bed, taking the bottle off him. She bends forward and kisses him on the cheek, the string of pearls hang over Little Man. She taps his nose.
MISSYThey look at each other.
Can't handle ya liquor, eh.
You're my little man.
When Dad goes off to sell skins,
Missy likes playin' games.
SCENE 13. INT KITCHEN LATE AFTERNOON SCENE 13
MISSY fishes under the table with the pearls. She gives small tugs.
MISSYThe CAT tries to steal the pearls and Missy pushes it to one side. On a second attempt a hand tries to snatch the pearls. Missy pulls them away. She does this again but this time Kid manages to whip them away.
Here kitty, kid, kid.
MISSYMissy hears a growl, reaches deep into the shadows, locates a foot and pulls.
Give em back.
KID begins growling and hissing like a wild cat as Missy grabs her legs and drags her from under the table into the kitchen area.
MISSYIn a desperate bid to break free, Kid breaks the string of pearls. They scatter everywhere. KID turns, snaps at Missy, biting her leg.
Give them to me.
MISSYMissy charges after Kid.
It bloody bit me.
SCENE 14. INT LIVING AREA
CONTINUATION OF ABOVE
LITTLE MAN watches as KID and MISSY charge about the place. Kid giggles, jumping about like a chimp. An ornament is knocked from a small table. Missy grabs a blanket and corners Kid.
Missy tigs the blanket like a bull-master. Kid runs her sharp finger-nails along the wall, goes to move. Missy lunges forward, captures her with the blanket.
MISSYMissy tries to suffocate Kid. The magpie shifts nervously on its perch.
You are not my sister.
Little Man suddenly reacts and tries to drag his older sister off Kid.
LITTLE MANThe three of them struggle against each other.
Kid breaks free, scuttles away. Misy glances at the blood trickling down her leg.
She bit me!
SCENE 15. INT FATHER'S BEDROOM NIGHT SCENE 15
LITTLE MAN pushes the door slightly ajar and watches his FATHER tend the wound with care. He dabs the wound with iodine. MISSY sees Little Man watching through the small gap.
SCENE 15A. INT LIVING AREA
The FATHER tosses the book of animals on a fire in the fire place.
Missy told Dad what happened... that night the devil came
into the house.
SCENE 16. INT UNDER HOUSE NIGHT SCENE 16
A hand takes hold of a lantern.
The FATHER disappears through the hatch under the house. He holds a sack in one hand and a lantern in the other. He passes spider webs, the leaking pipe. He turns to a noise.
Two marsupial eyes and pointed ears can be made out in the shadows. We hear a low growl. Dad puts the lantern down and bends forward with the sack.
SCENE 17. INT UNDER HOUSE NIGHT SCENE 17
DAD empties the sack onto a small bed. KID lands on the bed, curls up. A light above her swings back and forth. Kid tries to get under the bed, which Dad prevents.
He places her back on the bed. LITTLE MAN and MISSY watch from their beds.
DADHe unbuckles his belt and pulls it through the rungs of his pants. Dad fastens Kid to the bedpost, by her hands. Kid squeals, bangs her head against the post. Dad turns out the light.
From now on you'll sleep in a bed.
SCENE 17A. INT BEDROOM MORNING SCENE 17A
LITTLE MAN approaches KID. Shadows dance on the wall.
Kid rocks violently, unaware of him, or avoiding eye contact.
Little Man brings his head down to Kid's level, trying to make eye contact. Kid keeps rocking her head. Little Man unbuckles the belt.
Kid stops rocking and looks Little Man in the eyes and for a brief moment it's as though an invisible language passes between them.
Kid looks beyond Little Man, and points at something with a smile. He turns to follow her stare. In the tree outside the window, a POSSUM scratches it's way up a tree, lit by a clear moon.
Kid makes the noise of a possum.
She stands in the cot and twirls in small circles, obviously enjoying her freedom. Her dress spirals around her legs.
SCENE 17B. INT BEDROOM MORNING SCENE 17B
LITTLE MAN wakes with a start.
Little Man stands by Kid's empty bed. Kid had disappeared. The father's belt lies at the foot of the bed. Little Man looks out the window at the landscape. In the distance, low cloud cuts off the mountain. The scene is misty, mysterious.
SCENE 18. EXT BACK-DOOR EVENING SCENE 18
LITTLE MAN clucks his tongue three times, signalling Kid. We hear a distant dog howl. He looks at his FATHER who looks into the night with concern. Little Man places Kid's ratty toy on the doorstep.
Kid didn't come back that day. She went off to be with her
frien's for a while.
SCENE 19. EXT HIGH-LAND FOREST DAY SCENE 19
LITTLE MAN walks along the edge of trees with his FATHER. They both carry sacks. Little Man stops in his tracks. KID lies motionless ahead of him. The father moves forward bends down, his lips part as he takes a breath.
We see a child's leg caught in a trap. Dry mud covers the ankle.
We see KID's eyes, lifeless and fixed. The father stares at his daughter and we see the realisation in his eyes. He turns to look at Little Man.
SCENE 20. INT EDGE OF FOREST DAY SCENE 20
The FATHER spades dirt onto a wooden box.
Through the above motion we see LITTLE MAN and MISSY watching.
The father gives the mound a tap.
Missy and the father walk off, leaving Little Man alone.
Little Man bends and looks at the grave before him. He reaches over and pulls the stick out of the soil which marks the grave. As he does this he hears a noise in the forest. With a start he looks above him. We hear a scuttling noise.
Little Man runs with all his might through the trees. In POV we move through tussock and bush. He runs out across expanse of tussock.
DISSOLVE: to two vista shots (passing of time).
Dad said Kid had gone to be with mum. He said it was for the best.
That night we had roast for dinner.
MISSY flicks her glass with her finger nail. The sound seems to resonate in the silent room. She looks at little Man. As if trying to console him, she goes to make the noise (from Scene 3) - runs her finger along the top.
Little Man lightly shakes his head.
The family eat in silence.
SCENE 21. INT BEDROOM EARLY EVENING SCENE 21
LITTLE MAN stares through the window into the dusky landscape. We follow his stare.
SCENE 21A. INT BEDROOM NIGHT SCENE 21A
Little Man kicks off his boots. On his bed he dusts off the cover of a book.
Little Man looks through the burnt book of animals (which he salvaged from the fire). Most of the pages have been damaged. He turns a page to a lithogram of a tiger, another page to an eagle, then turns another page to a possum.
Little Man lies back on his bed and looks at his hand. He puts his arms behind his head and stares at the ceiling. We see his pictures on the wall behind him.
LITTLE MANIn his mind's eye, we see the point of view of a creature running at blinding speed through the bushes, dead wood, paddocks of tussock, up a tree outside a run-down cottage. The accompanying score builds.
Sometimes I wonder where she is, where she goes...
LITTLE MANThrough the window we see the POSSUM in the tree, taking it's place on a branch. It peers through the window at Little Man, the two marsupial eyes glow with reflection.
At night I leave my window open for her... just in case.
The music echoes into the distance.
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