The Possession of Edgar Poe
By Garner Simmons
EXT. BANKS OF THE RIVER JAMES – LATE AFTERNOON
The edge of winter. A leafless oak, gnarled and blasted by the wind, stands alone on the solitary riverbank. Upon its barren branches —
A MURDER OF RAVENS
Crouch together, clacking their beaks in discord as —
A CLOAKED RIDER
Makes his way across the empty field.
TITLE OVER: “The Dueling Ground – Richmond, Virginia – 1827”
Suddenly, a CRACK OF LIGHTNING sends the birds to flight. Reacting, the horse rears up. The rider —
EDGAR ALLAN POE
Age 18, attempts to rein him in. The horse dances sideways, turning in a tight circle, afraid of some unseen danger.
Regaining control, Poe looks around. Dark hair. A hypnotic stare. Nothing moves but the wind. Then a THUNDER CLAP…!
Followed by yet another FLASH OF LIGHTNING as the horse rears back sending Poe crashing to the ground.
CLOSER ON POE
Momentarily stunned, he tries to shake it off. Regaining his feet, he finds himself standing before —
AN ANCIENT GYPSY COACH
that wasn’t there a moment ago.
FOUR BLACK HORSES wait impatiently, snorting and pawing the ground. The wind picks up driving the RAIN before it.
BACK ON POE
Pelted by thick drops, he makes for the wagon. Climbing a short set of stairs, he enters –
INT. GYPSY COACH – LATE AFTERNOON
A withered CRONE sits at a small table casting runes. As Poe enters she speaks without looking up.
Beg your pardon…?
Come. Sit. The storm has just begun.
Who are you?
That is of no concern…
Her head still bowed so that WE CANNOT SEE HER EYES, the old woman extends her hand, palm up.
Hesitant, Poe slips into the opposite chair and places his hand in hers. Outside, the SOUND of rain.
TIGHT ON POE’S HAND
Cradling it in one hand, she traces the creases in his palm.
So many lines… for one so young.
CLOSE ON CRONE
As she raises her head at last, we see that she has only one good eye. The other has a bluish cast, obscured by cataracts.
I see… death… everywhere.
Here, in this place… You’ve come
to fight a duel.
Yes… that’s right. I don’t
The one you seek… has killed
before… many times. A soldier…
no, an officer.
You know him…?
Beware. Upon his neck is the “Devil’s
Lifting a silken kerchief, she exposes a DARK CRYSTAL ORB the size of a fist.
Transfixed, Poe is unable to turn away.
ON CRYSTAL ORB – POE’S P.O.V.
A prism of light and shadow. PUSH IN until it fills the screen revealing —
A STRANGE BIRTHMARK – THE DEVIL’S KISS
A pair of purple bruises lie side-by-side — goat-footed and dark.
…a birthmark like a cloven hoof.
WIDEN to reveal —
LT. JAMES LEE
Hatless in a blue Army coat, he raises a flintlock pistol and points it straight at CAMERA.
I’ll see you in hell…!
Blood pounding, veins standing out, Lee pulls the trigger.
Instantly sparks fly, his hand recoiling as the air fills with gunsmoke.
TIGHT ON LEAD BALL (VFX — OVER-CRANK CAMERA)
Tumbling through the air it comes straight for CAMERA!
True evil never dies… but finds
another path! Beware!
Suddenly the lead ball MORPHS into a RAVEN and is gone!
Staggers backwards stunned, uncertain what he’s just seen.
EXT. BANKS OF THE RIVER JAMES – LATE AFTERNOON
Spinning around, Poe finds himself standing alone in the middle of the field. Dark clouds fill the sky, but NO RAIN.
He looks around. The coach and Crone — both gone!
A growl of distant THUNDER causes him to turn again just as his friend and second —
LT. DAMON KORDA
Comes riding up, Poe’s horse in tow. Slightly older, he, too, wears the dark blue uniform of a U.S. Army officer.
My head… Must’ve struck it when I
(re: Poe’s horse)
Found him across the field. Looks
like he dumped you good and proper…
Sure you’re all right?
Fine. Nothing serious…
He looks around, but sees nothing.
The coach… the old woman…
He turns again. Still nothing.
Did you pass them?
What are you talking about…?
Realizing Korda didn’t see them, Poe averts his eyes.
Don’t tell me you’ve been seeing
Dismounting, Korda ties the horses to a fallen tree then takes a large, flat mahogany box from one of the saddlebags.
No… It’s just…
The dead… Sometimes it’s as if…
they speak to me.
Then maybe you shouldn’t listen.
More of your nightmares without the
night…? Who this time? Your
(glancing at the sky)
Must be the chill in the air.
(forcing a smile)
“So fair and foul a day, I have not
You and poetry… that’s how you
got yourself into this fix…
I stopped at Lee Manor.
Did you see Annabel…?
No. But I tried to try to talk your
adversary out of this… madness.
What did he say?
That yours was an affront to honor
and could not be pardoned.
Edgar, let it go. Ride away before
it’s too late.
Taking a LOCKET bearing a family crest from his pocket, Poe opens the clasp. Glancing at it, he holds it out to Korda.
And never see her again…?
Staring at the locket, Korda sees —
TIGHT ON LOCKET – MINIATURE OF ANNABEL
A portrait of a vivacious girl of 17. Dark hair and eyes.
She’s a beauty, I’ll grant you…
BACK ON SCENE
Poe closes the locket.