The Witching Tree

The Witching Tree

Screen Play

James Luchte

nymph

I

Fade in

(Mother and young girl)

A beautiful woman and a little girl walk hand in hand past the Old Tree that has recently collapsed – and, has apparently died.
‘Why did the tree die, mummy?’
‘It was very old dear – that is the way of all things…’
‘Yes, mummy.

Fade out

II

(Shot in juxtaposition between a sumptuous wedding and a barefoot woman)

A most typical wedding of the local Aristocracy, buoyant, excessive colours, dresses, limos, a glorious summer day.
Barefoot woman staggering, treading upon, across wet grass – shot looking down from her face to her feet.
The crowds in the church smile in their Sunday Best.
The shot is still facing down from her eye as she roams, blood drops, and a stained, muddy, white uniform, a flash of her nametag…
The Groom stands with his entourage in front of the altar.
Church bells begin to ring as the shot returns with the staggering feet of the woman –
The Bride and her coterie appear in the back of the church with the her father.
There is an increased blood flow, drenching the uniform as she steps upon concrete.
All of the audience turn to gaze upon the bride.
She gasps hard, deep breaths, as she approaches the door –
(We see everything from her perspective, we do not see her or her face).
Pan of the church with the bells in full rapture –
The wedding, the bride walks down the isle, guided by her father.
The bloody woman claws at the door, grasps the ring, pulls the door open –

(Flash back/forward to the woman dragged through a graveyard, nearly subliminal, surreal scenes of her rape, the Old Tree – )

Her breathing is laboured, she cries at the door, blood streams from her mouth.
Faces turn to look – collective gasp – from the perspective of the barefoot woman, staggering, bleeding toward the altar.
The Wedding Picture – the bride, groom, minister, bridesmaids, best man, et al.
A blood-curdling scream in their faces, she falls upon her back on the altar.

III

(Mother and young girl)

Fade in

The woman and her daughter walk past the Old Tree, in the opposite direction as before.
‘If all is meant to die, mummy, does that include you and me?
‘Each of us arises from the earth, from the roots – we will return to the earth & with fate – be reborn from these roots that never die.’
‘That’s what I hope too, mummy.’

Fade out

IV

(This segment is a juxtaposition and collision between two worlds, that of a waitress in a late night diner and a gang of marauding lads from their abruptly ended bachelor party in a local underground strip club.)

A waitress working at a diner late at night – she pours coffee into empty cups –
‘Why don’t you put some whiskey into that coffee,’ a drunken man suggests –
‘I will give you the coffee, but I think you have had enough of the other –‘
The drunk patron vomits upon the counter, she places a wet cold cloth upon his forehead – when he can hold it himself, she grabs the mop and rag.
The lads are all there, at the steps of the strip club – groom, and his best man, the two runners up and father – five sure friends out for a night of pleasure…
They walk in – typical strip club scene –
The father stands in the back of a private room, smoking a cigar, as he watches the lads playing with the strippers – they drink thirteen bottles of premium champagne with their hostesses (a condition for the special treatment), and become noticeably agitated and aggressive with the girls until the first runner up, having a lap dance, grasps the stripper by her tits, and inserts a champagne bottle into her vagina. The other men laugh, pushing off their own girls, and commence to hold down the stripper. One of the other strippers goes out for help, while another screams, trying to pull the men away from the girl. The best man punches her in the face – she falls across a table knocking over a candle and several champagne glasses.

The waitress guides her patrons to the door, holding the drunk trucker by the waist.
‘You gonna be ok tonight?’ asks the waitress.
‘Sure I will – gonna sleep in my cab… you are certainly invited to come and warm up my bed…’ The waitress, having heard this come-on since she began working at the diner, laughs, ‘Now you fuck off now – we’ll see you tomorrow.’
In a sublime choreography, she closes the door, turns the sign, busses the tables, fills the shakers of various kinds, and mops the floor.

The candle has set alight a long red velvet curtain upon the wall, flames dance up the curtain, as the door is broken open by four large bouncers, three of whom grab the lads, while the fourth tries to put out the flames. The three bouncers drag the lads out of the front door, pushing them toward a wall in an alleyway.
The flames grow more intense, everyone is evacuating the strip club, as the bouncer who was still inside calls to the rest for help.
The three bouncers warn the lads to stay put and run into the strip club, now quite ablaze.
The fire brigade and an ambulance arrive at the scene, as the bouncers retreat from the flames falling into the street outside.
The lads had long since escaped down the road.
The waitress hears the sirens close by as she locks the door to the diner. She says goodnight to the dishwasher, and walks down the night streets, lost in thought.
The flashing lights of the emergency vehicles cast a surreal aura as she smells the smoke which swirls through the streets in dancing spirals.
As the noise and the lights become more intense, the waitress traces the outlines of some others, coming out of the smoke. She sees five men, four out front, and one following in the rear. The waitress approaches the men, and with a startled look of concern, asks, ‘Whatever happened to you? Are you alright? What is going on?’
The best man laughs and turning to his mates, shouts, ‘And the lord doth provide!’ They laugh together, nearly falling down.
‘Do you want to know what happened, little angel?’ the second runner up lashed at the frightened girl – ‘Look, we got ourselves an angel, all in white, a virgin bride!’
‘And, who gets the virgin bride?’ the first runner up sneers…
‘The groom!’ – the groom laughs demonically – ‘The groom gets the virgin bride! And that is me, you sad muthafukas!’
The father stands in the background, smoking a cigar, watching the lads play with the girl.
The best man lunges in and grabs the girl’s arm, begins to drag her away, ‘I know the best place for a little working class whore like you – an angel? Far from it – let’s take her to the Old Tree!’
Having heard dark rumors about the tree and the fate of other girls, the waitress resists, she screamed once… the best man drags her by the hair with the second runner up holding her mouth, the others hold each of her arms.
They drag her through the cemetery and toward the path leading to the Old Tree.
‘You want to know what happened tonight?’ the best man shouts in the girl’s terrified face. ‘Do you know what happened? – WE HAPPENED!’
‘Yeah, we burned that strip club a bit too soon, I imagine,’ hisses the second runner up, ‘We could all use a release, especially since you are not a real bride – just another fucking waitress, working trash, a dime a dozen…
They approach the tree, dragging the girl along – the tree is like an ominous spider setting against the haunting sky, the moon shining through dark clouds.
The best man pushes the girl against the tree, and the first and second runner up secure her wrists and ankles to the branches.
The groom approaches (subliminal flash: a goat mask with horns) with a bottle of Vodka in his hand, ‘My virgin bride before my wedding! Let us make you a sacrifice for a good harvest!’ ‘Please, no…. let me go, please!’, the girl whimpers as the groom grasps her around the waist, thrusting forward into her. She resists, gasps, screaming – quickly blood trickles, then lightly streams down upon the soil at the base of the Old Tree.
‘Look mates,’ the best man exalts, ‘She is a virgin! She bleeds!’
(Crossfade to a shot of the waitress lying in a fetal position, having been left by the lads at the base of the tree surrounded by a pool of blood which is being soaked up by the earth. The blood intersperses throughout a vast vascular root network in the soil).

Fade out

V

(Mother and young girl)

Fade in
‘Look mummy, there is blood over here by the tree!’
‘Come child, quickly, this is no place for us to be!’
‘But, what is wrong, mummy?’
‘Something dark is afoot here, we must hurry!’

Fade out

VI

(Back to the scream at the wedding, and the aftermath)
The scene begins immediately with a close-up of the waitress screaming, as she had done in scene 2 – it is the same scream, but now we see her face. She twirls about, everyone in utter shock – keeping their distance – as she lands upon her back on the altar. Bloods streams from her onto the altar and upon the marble floor.

Amidst a surreal silence in which every gaze is upon her, she turns her head and struggles to point her finger toward the lads, ‘It was you – you…’ she faints….

The bride screams as the church breaks out into utter pandemonium. ‘Calm, keep calm, my children! This is the house of the Lord!’ the minister pleads, until he drowns into a sea of riotous bodies.

The father whispers into his wife’s ear, and grabs the lads, smashing their heads together.

‘Listen you fucking nutters!’ he punches the groom across the ear, ‘Now, you had your fun with that little piece of trash – and look what it brought you! ‘ – the father looks again to his wife who is guiding the bride away to her chamber – ‘You gotta a fucking wedding here – and a damned important one, if we are going to keep our business – ‘ … the father grasps all of them tighter, pushing their faces together, ‘Now, take this bitch the fuck out of here and deal with her the way you should have done in the first fucking place!’

The lads grab the girl and take her out through the sacristy at the back of the church from which there is a door which opens onto the graveyard.
With the departure of the girl, the crowd begins to settle, as the father stands in front of the altar, ‘My friends –‘ he laughs, as he scans the faces of the audience, ‘Perhaps, this is a first for most of us –‘ he laughs and many others now join in – but, the father turns to a mock seriousness, ‘But let us keep this deranged vagrant girl in our prayers as she is someone’s daughter who has lost her way!’
‘Amen to that,’ the minister speaks uneasily, trying to straighten his glasses.

The lads drag the girl through the graveyard, back along the path toward the Old Tree.
‘Do you really think that you can come and fuck my wedding,’ the groom spits in her face and kicks her, ‘You fucking filthy white trash whore!’
They approach the tree, dragging her through the mud – they tie her up with the same bloody ropes– ‘This time will be your last!’ She curses from her delirium, muttering, ‘You will pay, you will all pay for this…’
‘Not now though bitch,’ the groom thrusts into her, as his mates hold her still and muffle her screams.
The groom grabs her neck, choking her, as he thrusts, she resists, but the last faint light disappears from her eyes.

The first and second runners up dig a deep hole at the base of the tree in the muddy ground. The groom and best man sit upon a large branch of the dead Old Tree – the girl is still tied to the tree. ‘I am confident that she is the right match for me – even despite all the money my daddy will soon get his hands on….’
(juxtaposition with the digging)
‘So, you love her?’
(digging)
‘She is – one of us, nice to look at, and has the right friends … to be honest, I am not sure what ‘love’ means anymore….
(digging)
‘None of that surely matters now, at any rate…’
(digging)
‘This world was surely built for us – we are as birds of prey, that girl tied to that tree over there – she is – the prey….’
(digging)
‘A household of predator and prey – how modern!’
The digging now complete, the lads cut the girl down from the tree and lower her into the hole. Water fills a third of the hole, she is partially submerged in the water and is stuck with roots from the broken soil. They fill in the hole and smooth it over with their shoes. The falling rain rapidly disguises the unmarked grave.

The lads walk away from the tree, their suits saturated by the rain, the groom throws the shovel over the fence to a community farm.
‘So, what in the fuck is going on with the wedding?’ asks the second runner up –
‘Tomorrow – they moved it to tomorrow,’ the best man puts his arm around the groom, ‘Tomorrow…’ as they walk up the hill.
‘Does that mean we get another bachelor party?’ pleads the first runner up.
‘Fuck yes, it does!’ shouts the groom, ‘It certainly does… but we will have to go to a different strip club! (they all burst out laughing)

Fade out

VII

(Mother and young girl)

Fade in

‘Look mummy, there is a new shoot growing from the Old Tree!’
‘Yes, darling – that is the eternal power of life, as the roots never die –
Something great will still come from this tree…’
‘Yes, mummy.’

Fade out

VIII

(The Awakening)

Quick chaotic juxtapositions, superimpositions between intimate, erotic scenes from the second bachelor party at another strip club: clichés, coke off the stripper’s back, shots out of her navel, lap dances, etc. – and the place around the Old Tree, at first the branches, the moon through the racing clouds, but increasingly the mud around the base of the tree – the rain falls harder and harder, thunder moans in the sky – a raven sets in a branch, oblivious to the rain –
The father gazes through a false window with a cigar in his mouth – he watches the lads as they ply the strippers with alcohol, coke, meth and ecstasy – the owner, a very old family friend, has given the bouncers the night off… ‘If you would have just let the lads get on with it, none of this fucking shit would have ever happened!’
The lads were guaranteed a good time.

Bubbles start to emerge from the muddy grave – lightning strikes the tree – the bubbles become waves, jutting out, the mud erupts as a hand, an arm emerges, grasps hold, the top of a head, she pulls herself up, clutching at the ground, she slithers out of the hole with a swell of muddy waters.

The lads, running around now with their trousers off and with their ties around their heads, each with a bottle of champagne in hand, have been molesting the strippers for the best part of three hours. One is handcuffed to the pole, while the two others have been tied to the tops of adjacent cocktail tables.
‘I’m getting bored, let’s say we take one of these back to the Old Tree,’ the groom smiles, realising, with the help of the coke, his own utter genius.
‘Yes, that is exactly what we should do!’ the best man rejoined… ‘But, let’s do all three – a triple sacrifice – shit that fucking tree might just come alive yet!’
‘Fuck yes! ‘ the first runner up shouts, high-fiving the second, ‘Now this is living!’

She moves away from the tree, up the hill, and through the grave yard. As she blasts onto the street, we see her in the light of the street lamp – bloody, with dark eyes – naked, but covered over with a thin layer of dried and wet mud. She stalks the street, smelling the air as she seeks out the lads –

The lads have formed the strippers into a chain gain, with rope, as they plan to walk them to the Old Tree on the groom’s last night of freedom. Quite drunk as they are, they are having a difficult time carrying the bottles of champagne and holding the reins to the girls – the bottles drop, one by one, the girls resist and try to pull each other apart, everyone becomes entangled and falls to the ground.

A brief burst of laughter is annihilated by the explosion of the door as she enters – those upon the ground squirm out of the rope and initially away from the strange visitor. She walks past them, and onto the stage…
‘Now that is at least something new! – and we were about to sacrifice three young girls to a tree!
She dances angelically upon the pole – and performs erotic ballet upon the floor of the stage….
The lads, no longer afraid, and unable to recognise her due to the muddy disguise, move toward the stage, enthralled by her seductive dance.
She grabs the two heads of the first and second runner ups and kisses each of them, inserting a black tongue down their throats. The two are soon choking, spitting blood which turns black like tar.
The groom and the best man lunge in opposite directions as she spins upon the pole, flying off and clutching the best man’s neck between her inner thighs – she cracks his neck and rides him gracefully to the floor.
By this time, the mud has flaked entirely from her, and the groom, standing with his back against the door, recognises her.
‘But, you are dead! I killed you!’
She walks seductively, though aggressively, up to the groom and pushes him by his neck against the door.
‘Well maybe I wanted some more of your loving!’
She grabs hold of his cock and rips it off, holding it before his eyes,
‘I like it rough!’

She turns away from the dead bodies of her rapists and limps toward the door – she will return to the ground, to the Old Tree.
As she walks through the door – suddenly, the father stands in her face – he grabs her by the neck and pushes her against the door frame.
‘I don’t care if you did rise from the dead – there is no way a little white trash whore like you is going to ruin a wedding – and kill my son and his friends! Bitch, you’re gonna die – and this time for real!’
The father pushes her to her knees, shoves his cigar into her mouth – holds it in, clasping her face.
She begins to quake, and against all resistance, stands – the father takes a step back as she glares at him with the cigar in her mouth. She snarls and inhales the whole cigar as she bites the black head of the snake and swallows – there is a growling cry from the depths as she spews out fire which sets the father aflame.

IX

(Mother and young girl)

The mother and the young daughter walk past the Old Tree, where, upon each branch, is slumped one of the lads… one of them is still smoking.
‘Why are the men hanging in the tree, mummy?
‘They were evil, darling – they deserved to die!’
‘Yes, mummy.’
‘Look dear, there is a lovely flower…
‘Yes, mummy – she is beautiful!’

THE END

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