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An Alien Burned the Church - an original short film

Author
Time
 (Edited)

An Alien Burned the Church

(v.o. over black)

“Breathe. Just breathe.”
“What if I don’t know how?”
“You’ll learn. In time.”

FADE IN

INT. CHURCH
A closed casket rests horizontal in the middle of the frame like a fallen monolith. We hear music, Ich Ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ by Bach, from the piano. The camera pans slowly to a young man sitting in the front pew of the church, he is the son of the deceased. The music plays out, and we cut to

EXT. BURIAL GROUNDS - MIDDAY
the young man’s face in the same place within the frame. A few more moments pass, many seated behind him stand to leave, some patting him on the shoulder as they go. Yet again, we cut to

INT. LAWYER’S OFFICE
The young man sits quietly as the will is read. He inherits his boyhood home and all in it.

INT. HOUSE - EVENING
The young man walks in, sits down in a chair next to a window that looks out to the backyard and the dilapidated swimming pool. Finally, the young man begins to cry, before drifting into sleep. As he rests, the camera pans around the room very slowly, showing old family photos and other relics of the childhood behind him.
Eventually, the camera makes it back around to the young man, who jolts erect, awoken not by sound or by light, but by a feeling that something is off somehow. He stands up and sees a stranger in his backyard, naked, away from the window and toward the pool.

EXT. BACKYARD - NIGHT
The young man walks out and calls to the stranger. As the stranger turns, we see his faceless form morph into a more human appearance.

INT. HOUSE
He runs back inside to grab a phone and make a call, but upon seeing the alien tilt his head, he hesitates, and puts the phone down.

EXT. BACKYARD
He walks to the alien, his eyes scanning him up and down, before stuttering a question.

BEN
“Who… w-what… are you?”

The alien stands silent for a moment, as if trying to remember the language, before answering slowly.

ALIEN
“I am lost.”

INT. HOUSE
The alien, his nakedness now covered in a blanket, sits across from the Ben, the young man.

BEN
“I don’t understand.”

ALIEN
“I am lost. I am without home. Home… planet distance away.”

BEN
“Why did you leave? Why come here?”

ALIEN
“I… do not remember.”

BEN
“You don’t rem-- well, shit.”

ALIEN
“Shit.”

BEN
“It’s a–”

ALIEN
“I am understand shit. I am understand much of your language, though language grammar difficult to make understand.”

The two sit quietly for a while, neither knowing what to say to the other, before finally Ben speaks again.

BEN
“Well, I’m going to sleep. You’re welcome to do the same anywhere you like.”

As Ben makes his way to the bedroom, the alien follows him. They both get into the same bed.

BEN
“Uh… there are other places you can sleep. You don’t have to share.”

ALIEN
“Where I come from, it is not good to sleep alone.”

BEN
“I… fine.”

The two lay down and go to sleep. Ben dreams. Before we cut away to the dream, we hear a voice.

FATHER (V.O.)
“Benny. Benny”

CUT TO
EXT. OPEN FIELD - DAY
Ben’s father occupies the center of the frame. He is sitting cross-legged. The sky is clear. All is well, it seems. The camera pans around the field and showcases the landscape, but we still hear the conversation as the camera moves away.

BEN (Child)
“Yeah, dad?”

FATHER
“Do you remember what we learned in church today?”

BEN
“Learned… to love God.”

FATHER
“That’s right.”

BEN
“Yeah”

FATHER
“Do you?”

BEN
“Do I what?”

FATHER
“Do you love God?”

BEN
“Yeah, dad.”

FATHER
“As much as yourself? More than yourself?”

BEN
“Wha?”

FATHER
“Do you love yourself?”

BEN
“No. I’m s’pos’ta love God aren’t I?”

FATHER
“Well, yes of course. But it’s not a zero sum game.”

BEN
“A ze-what?”

FATHER
“You can love both. You should love both.”

BEN
“I don’t… no…”

FATHER
“Benny…”

INT. BEDROOM
Ben is awake now. He rolls to face his new roommate and nudges the alien awake.

BEN
“I don’t have much food, but I have enough bread to make us a few slices of toast, is that okay? Is that gonna be enough or–”

ALIEN
“I can eat any food you give me.”

BEN
“Wow, you’re easy. Okay, great.”

Cut to
INT. KITCHEN
The two eat toast, and Ben drinks coffee. They sit silently for a while, the only noise a loud ceiling fan. Eventually, the alien speaks.

ALIEN
“Who is God?”

Ben nearly chokes, but pulls himself together.

BEN
“What do you mean?”

ALIEN
“I shared your dream. We mention a love of a man—God—more than ourself.”

BEN
“You shared my… what?”

ALIEN
“My people share sleep.”

Ben is visably confused, but, knowing he won’t understand the answer, he doesn’t ask how this is done.

BEN
“So you want to know God?”

ALIEN
“Yes.”

Ben sighs.

BEN
“Well… I can take you to church on Sunday, but I can’t personally tell you much about God.”

ALIEN
“Church. God is at church?”

BEN
“I’m told that’s the case, but I’ve never seen him. He and I don’t talk often.”

ALIEN
“O.”

The two finish their breakfast in silence.

Cut to
INT. LIVING ROOM
Ben sits on a couch and watches a news program on the television. The alien sits next to him. He looks at the alien for a moment, and then quickly turns his head away.

BEN
“You need some clothes. You and I are about the same size, you can grab whatever out of my closet.”

The alien stands up and walks away. After a minute, he returns.

ALIEN
“I want to thank you for accommodate me. You are kind.”

BEN, quietly
“I’m not kind, I’m lonely.”

ALIEN
“What mean you?”

BEN
“I… nevermind. You’re welcome.”

The alien sits down again. They sit together watching a talking head drone on about current events. Most of it is of little consequence and is inaudible, but eventually Ben starts listening, and increases the volume.

TALKING HEAD
“We move now to the scene of a great wildfire in the Appalachian mountains, where our reporter is on the ground in Gatlinburg.”

BEN
“Well, I guess the “Great Smoky Mountains” weren’t smoky enough.”

MOTHER (V.O.)
“O, but they were.”

We cut to a chair on the other side of the room. It is a different time, when Ben’s mother is alive.

MOTHER
“I remember, as a kid, waking up, seeing fog like blue smoke from the heavenly flame of sunrise.”

Ben says nothing. He just stares at the chair. She’s not really there, of course. Not anymore.

TV’S TALKING HEAD
“Now let’s look at the traffic before you head out to work–”

ALIEN
“Work?”

BEN
“Yeah, work. Most people have jobs, things they have to do.”

ALIEN
“Do you have job?”

BEN
“I am… between jobs at the moment.”

ALIEN
“Between… explain.”

Ben sighs.

BEN
“It’s a nicer way of saying no.”

ALIEN
“Ah, I am understand. Is bad for not have job?”

BEN
“Well… it’s all extortion anyway. You get a job so you can earn enough money to survive, but only just. The boss keeps the rest because he doesn’t want to give it away to the people who earned it. Capitalism.”

ALIEN
“I am understand. I am not understand how you survive without money?”

BEN
“Well, I had enough saved up to last a couple months if I only live on necessity, but now with you here too it may not last as long.”

ALIEN, sad
“I am understand. You want me leave.”

BEN
“No, no, you’re fine. Stay here. Please. I just…”

As his voice trails off, he puts his hands on his face.

BEN
“I left this town years ago. I came back for a funeral and only stayed because I inherited this house. I don’t have any friends, any family, anyone. So I let you stay. I don’t even know what the hell you are—some kind of damn spaceman or something sure but… anyway, I let you stay because you needed a place to stay just as much as I needed a reason to stay. And maybe it’s just part of your freaky telepathic stuff—like with the dreams—that I felt fine letting you, but you’re here, you mean no harm, and I like you. Okay?”

ALIEN, smiling
“I am understand. I am happy. I thank you.”

A few days pass.

EXT. CHURCH - MORNING
There was perhaps no worse day to go to church. The preacher, typically a fire-and-brimstone type already, has chosen a particular passage in Romans to read from today.

PREACHER
““God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:26-32‬. Folks, there are faggots out there. Deviants, sexual immoralators that seek to usurp the natural laws of God. These people are not righteous, they do not love. Only we have the love of God in us.”

Cut to
EXT. BACKYARD - AFTERNOON
The pool is filling with water from the hose. Ben’s feet can touch the rising water. His jeans are rolled up midway up his shins. The alien sits next to him, curled up and holding his knees.

BEN
“It’s all shit.”

ALIEN
“What is?”

BEN
“You wanted to learn about God, well you didn’t learn much that I couldn’t have told you already. Things I’ve known for years and haven’t wanted to say.”

ALIEN
“What?”

Ben sighs.

BEN
“God hates me.”

ALIEN
“I am… not understand.”

BEN
“The idea is that, when I die, I will go either to paradise or a lake of fire. It all depends on how much I loved God. There are certain things that, supposedly, are signs that people don’t love God. These are called sins. There’s a lot of mental gymnastics involved, but to make a long story short, my kind of sin is so… egregious, that I’m told that He hates me. He won’t forgive me. And I am on track to the lake of fire.”

ALIEN
“I… am understand.”

BEN
“Yeah, well… maybe it’s all shit anyway. We don’t really know what happens after we die. It’s unknowable.”

The alien does not speak. Ben stands up and sighs before beginning to undo the button of his pants.

BEN
“The pool is filling up now. I’m gonna swim, but you do whatever you want.”

Ben, now completely naked, kisses the alien for several seconds before jumping into the water. The alien watches him swim.

ALIEN, quietly
“What is death?”

Ben does not hear him, but his previously grave tone makes the alien wary of asking again.

EXT. BACKYARD - EVENING
Ben sits on the pool deck, leaning back on his arms. Yes, he is still naked. He is gazing longingly at the alien. He sighs yet again before reaching over to caress the alien’s face.

ALIEN
“I am not understand, Ben.”

Ben jolts back in horror.

BEN
“I’m… shit, I’m so sorry. I’m so gross, I should have made sure it was okay to-- and, and I-- I don’t…”

ALIEN
“I think I am understand. On my world, the young are born without lungs. The lungs develop days after birth, and they breathe for the first time.”

BEN
“I… I don’t–”

ALIEN
“Breathe. Just breathe.”

BEN
“What if I don’t know how?”

ALIEN
“You’ll learn. In time.”

Ben sits still, breathing heavily, with terror still on his face.

We cut to a shot farther away from the two. We see lips move, but the words are inaudible. Eventually they move closer. They kiss, and touch each other gently. They continue for a few minutes as we zoom slowly in on them. They become more passionate at a similar speed as the zooming. Eventually, they stop, and Ben takes the alien by the hand to lead him back inside.

INT. BEDROOM - MORNING
Ben wakes up slowly. In his groggy state, he doesn’t quite remember the previous night. Eventually, he bolts upright and looks behind him. The alien is there, sleeping peaceful. He looks so innocent, yet Ben feels anything but. He leaps out of bed.

BEN
“What have I done, what the hell have I done…”

He runs out of the room. The alien doesn’t wake up for a few more moments, but when he does, he sees his partner has gone.

ALIEN
“Ben?”

He walks slowly through the house, looking for him.

ALIEN
“Ben?”

He keeps walking. The camera focuses on a portrait of a white Jesus.

EXT. BACKYARD - MIDDAY
The alien steps outside, and his search is over. Ben’s body is at the bottom of the pool, surrounded by a cloud of blood.

The frame is filled with blackness, but as the camera moves up, we see that this is a black coffin. The pianist plays J. S. Bach’s “Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” off screen. The camera lingers over this coffin, a monolith in the center of the frame.

CUT TO:
The modest audience of mourners sit in pews. One man stands out from the rest. He is about foot taller than the rest, and his skin looks almost grey. We focus on him, in the left third of the frame, but zooming very slowly closer to his face. The music stops, and he stands to leave his pew.

CUT TO:
The same angle of the coffin that we started with, now as the grey man walks up the alter steps and stands at the pulpit.

CUT TO:
The coffin is now horizontal at the bottom of the frame, with the grey man standing above.

ALIEN
“I have lived with you here for about one week now, and you have taught me many things about life. I thank you all very much for that. However, I do not understand death. Something he told me… I think I sent him to a lake of fire. That sounds nice. I hope he is warm."

CUT TO:
The stunned, silent mourners.

CUT TO:
The alien leaves the alter to return to his seat. This should be a shot from above, showing the coffin in the center of the frame again.

EXT. CHURCH - AFTERNOON

The service is over. Everyone is leaving, but the alien is not seen. Soon, flames begin to grow.

THE END.

The Drink in Question

Author
Time

I think you have the beginnings of a good story here. If you’re having trouble fleshing the story out, I suggest you write it as a short film first — just focus on the pertinent plot points. Then, if you feel there’s a bigger narrative still to be tapped into, gradually expand on it by filling in the gaps/adding finer details to what’s there already.

Arrivederci.

Author
Time

Some ideas finally clicked in my head this morning, so I’ll be starting this over soon. Wish me luck!

The Drink in Question

Author
Time

It’s over. I have a complete draft. I don’t know if I’ll ever make a new draft, or if this will ever see celluloid, but it’s something.

The Drink in Question

Author
Time

I’d love to write this out to possibly being a feature length work someday, but the plot is so… weak? that I just don’t see it happening. Also, I gave it to a few friends to read and they told me it was funny, so I’m glad they liked it, but they like it in a way that is not at all what I was going for. I’m not sure what to make of that.

The Drink in Question