Vehicle headlights pan in from the bottom of the screen, illuminating a two-lane coastal highway that seems to stretch infinitely into the dark night. The rumble of a motor precedes our view of the hood of a sedan, then the dashboard from inside the vehicle. We’re in the passenger seat.
SEPTEMBER REED, the driver, stares vacantly out at the road ahead of her, lost in thought. She’s still dressed in her volleyball uniform from school, her dark brown ponytail messy after playing hard at the game. She is athletic and feminine. If she hadn’t gone out for volleyball, she could have been a cheerleader.
September reaches for the radio. The time on the clock reads 8:03.
As the car rounds a bend, something white billows in the wind at the edge of the headlights’ reach. The movement catches September’s attention. She slows the car, and pulls over toward the shoulder, squinting to see through the darkness.
The billowing white is actually silver-gray hair. An old woman sits on the ground, leaning weakly against a large rock. She is dressed in black from tip to tail. The old woman lifts a hand toward the car, then drops it weakly into her lap.
September looks around, suspicious that this could be a trap with someone nefarious lurking in the shadows. Despite her concerns, she gets out of the car, palming her keys and locking the car behind her. She grips her phone in her other hand.
EXT. THE SIDE OF THE ROAD
The old woman grows weaker, losing blood through an injury at her side that glistens with the wetness in the headlights.
September approaches and kneels next to the old woman, casting a shadow over her.
Are you alright?
Do you need help? Should I call 911?
Are you hurt?
She hasn’t seen the old woman’s injury yet.
I’ve seen better days.
The old woman clutches at her wound. September notices the blood there.
Is that blood?
September unlocks her phone and begins to dial 911. Faster than should be possible, given her age and potential injury, the old woman is on her knees in front of September and grabs the younger woman’s wrist in a steely grip. September tries to step back, but the old woman is too strong.
You’re hurting me.
The place where the old woman holds September’s arm glows red like hot coals. September looks around frantically for a way to get away until her gaze settles on a shiny, silver dagger in an ornately filigreed sheath clipped to the old woman’s belt. She freezes. The old woman lets go and falls back against the rock.
I had no choice.
The old woman’s hands drop to her lap, and her eyes close. A deep breath heaves through her, then rattles into an exhale. Her body gives a small shake, then two, and then she goes limp.
Did you just die?
September looks like she’s going to throw up as she carefully leans in and plucks the woman’s wrist from her lap, checking for a pulse with timid movements. The old woman’s jacket sleeve rides up with the movement, revealing a black tribal-style tattoo. After a beat, she lets the woman’s hand drop to her lap with a soft thud.
September lurches to her feet, but immediately bends over and retches into the nearby brush. After vomiting, she races back to her car and locks herself in. She looks out across the expanse of the headlights. The old lady is lying there, looking almost peaceful. September dials 911 with visibly shaking hands.
The phone rings once, then clicks with the connection.
911. What’s your emergency?
September looks back up at the woman. She’s gone, no evidence remaining that she was ever there.
Hello? 911. What is your emergency?
September hangs up and lets the phone fall into her lap. She drops her head onto the steering wheel.
You’re not crazy. You’re not crazy. You’re not—
September’s phone buzzes, making her jump. She looks at the screen. 911 is calling back. She hesitates, then answers.
Hello. This is 911. We received a call from this number. Are you experiencing an emergency?
I… uh… no. Sorry. I… butt dialed.
Are you or anyone else with you in danger or under duress?
(under her breath)
Just in danger of needing to be committed.
No! No, I’m fine and I’m alone.
September looks back to where the old woman disappeared.