The Nature of Fear
Directed by Brian Quakenbush With Laura Peterson, Norman Gee & Carmen Bush
Cast of Characters
Please note that the following characters were written without specified genders to allow greater casting flexibility.
Jessie: Executive Producer and Co-host of a popular weekly podcast. Strong willed and driven. Jessie has a dark secret but avoids acknowledging it.
Terry: Producer and Co-host of a popular weekly podcast. Sensitive and easily influennced. Shares the same secret as Jessie and is haunted by it.
Dr. Ladon: The personification of fear. Quite mysterious at first but soon becomes a more ominous figure. Dr. Ladon may resemble any horror or thriller movie villian.
Three people sit at a table with microphones and a laptop, ready to begin a podcast.
Jessie's head bobs to the theme song from the original Halloween film. Terry, in contrast, seems frightened by the sound. Dr. Ladon stares ahead. The music fades.
TERRY Hey everybody! Welcome to the Wednesday Night Podcast, brought to you by our sponsors, Mailpimp and Roundspace. This is Terry.
JESSIE And I'm Jessie. Hope you enjoyed tonight's intro music. Sound familiar? It should. It's the theme from the classic horror film, Halloween. That movie used to scare the crap out of me.
TERRY Metoo! Michael Myers gave me so many nightmares. You know his mask was based on William Shatner?
JESSIE Really? It’s not doesn't really look like him.
TERRY Google it if you don’t believe me. Anyway, I used to dream about Captain Kirk coming after me with a butcher knife.
JESSIE His phaser would have been more effective. God, it's been years since I saw that movie. Wanna watch it together sometime?
TERRY Not gonna happen. Just hearing that music again gave me chills. But if you want to watch a romantic comedy -
JESSIE No thank you! Those kind of movies are truly frightening. Speaking of which, we have a guest tonight who's an expert on the subject of -
DR. LADON I know nothing of romance or comedy.
Terry and Jessie exchange glances. Dr. Ladon continues to stare ahead.
JESSIE Okay, let me try a better segue. Tonight we're going to explore some frightening topics with our guest, Dr. J.K. Ladon, renown psychologist and author of the recently published book, The Nature of Fear.
DR. LADON I know much about fear.
TERRY That's no surprise. Thanks for joining us, Dr. Ladon. I gotta say, you're more attractive than the photo in your book would suggest.
Jessie examines the photo and then Dr. Ladon.
JESSIE Whoa! This looks like a completely different person.
DR. LADON No one is permitted to take my photograph.
Terry and Jessie look at each other again, confused by Dr. Ladon's demeanor.
TERRY Well, um...that's a shame because you seem very photogenic.
JESSIE Dr. Ladon, we've all been scared by a movie at some point or another. Why do you think people react with genuine fear to something they know is fake?
DR. LADON There are experiences in this world far more terrifying than any movie could depict.
TERRY So true. I've read intense stories in the news. People doing horrible things, like, way beyond what a screenwriter could invent.
JESSIE That why some horror plots are drawn from actual events. It’s shocking what humanity iscablable of.
DR. LADON Humans don't know what atrocities they're capable of until they've committed them (making eye contact with them for the first time)...as both of you are well aware.
Jessie and Terry's confusion becomes fear, but they try not to let it show.
JESSIE I'm totally aware of that - as a concept.
TERRY Yeah, it makes sense, I guess.
DR. LADON You both know much about fear. You feel it now but in the past you have caused it.
JESSIE Haven't we all? (with a nervous laugh)
DR. LADON Both of you saw fear in the eyes of your mentor, the one who used to host this wretched podcast.
JESSIE Hey! That's crossing a line-
DR. LADON But your ruthless face, Jessie, was the last image he saw before he died.
Jessie and Terry stare in disbelief for a second. Then Jessie knocks Dr. Ladon's mic off the table. Terry shuts the podcast down with the laptop, and then closes it. Dr. Ladon watches them impassively.
TERRY (to Jessie) The connection's cut.
JESSIE What the hell? Is this a prank?
DR. LADON You know very well that it's not.
JESSIE Then what is it? Say it, dammit! What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for?!
DR. LADON I know what you did the summer before last.
TERRY We didn't even touch him!
JESSIE Shut up, Terry!
DR. LADON You didn't have to touch him. You used his fears instead, made them a reality. You took advantage of his weakened heart. But crueler still is what you didn't do. You didn't save a man from dying right in front of you.
JESSIE You're full of shit!
TERRY How do you know all this?
JESSIE Terry, shut your mouth right-
TERRY You couldn't have been there. No one else was there!
DR. LADON How very wrong you are. Not only was I there, I was an accomplice.
JESSIE You're out of your mind!
DR. LADON I strained his heart and then it ceased beating.
TERRY Who are you? You're not Dr. Ladon...what are you?
The lights go out
DR. LADON I am fear manifested.
Terry's heavy breathing can be heard and then the sound of Jessie banging on a door.
JESSIE Let us out of here, dammit! Unlock this fucking door!
DR. LADON Hush, Jessie. You're upsetting your poor collaborator.
JESSIE (notices the hyperventilating) Terry, calm down. Where's your inhaler?
TERRY (gasping) My car....
DR LADON (a harsh whisper) I know what your primary fear is, Terry, and it's a not a masked maniac or knife wielding Starfleet Captain. It's much simpler than that and it's all around you.
TERRY (through labored breaths) Turn the...lights on. Please....turn them...on...
JESSIE (let's out a yell of rage) Terry's gonna die without that inhaler! And you call us murderers, you twisted fuck!
DR. LADON I said no such thing but if the shoe fits.
TERRY We shouldn't...have... done it...Jessie...
JESSIE Stop talking. Focus on your breath.
DR. LADON Do you smell that, Jessie? It's pungent. You didn't realize fear had an odor until right before your trusting mentor went into cardiac arrest. And then you smelled something else entirely.
(The heavy breathing stops. Terry can be heard slumping against the table.) Death.
JESSIE Terry? Terry, please get up! No! This isn't real!
DR. LADON You know that it is. Now, let's move on. Are you ready to face your primary fear?
JESSIE I can't...I can't do it. Please stop this! No more!
DR. LADON Come on, Jessie.
(The lights come back. Dr. Ladon now resembles a demon.) What's worst that could happen?