By Pallas-Amenah Morgan

BLACK FRAME

Soft sounds of seagulls can be heard. Wind. Waves crashing. Mosquitoes. The skittering of some small animal. Then a child screams.

Open to EXT Beach, Day 1, Sunset

Energy. Crowded. Camera pans across the scene. A woman unpacks a towel before yelling at a little girl to grab the cooler. An old couple purchases an ice cream and hot dog from a food stand loudly playing old 80s music. A man sets up his filming equipment before focusing a camera on the ocean.

A pair of screaming teens rush past the cameraman and run toward the beach. They dive in. Focus on breaking waves, a surfer coming up from the water to laugh with his friend. 

Track a child’s progress along the shore; he stoops to pick up a clam shell and drops it into an overflowing bucket.

Pan over to CAVE at the end of the beach. Close up of barnacles, algae, wet sand clinging to walls. Track HERMIT CRAB’s path up the slimy surface.

INT Cave

HERMIT CRAB has made its way through a hole and into the CAVE. Track CRAB scuttling along rocky surface. Its legs twitch and fall into crevices. It climbs over barnacles that block its path downwards. CRAB makes its way onto the floor. Focus on legs sinking into heavy moss, being spit back out as the ground shifts beneath its weight. 

Cut to a pool of water at center of CAVE. CRAB enters from left frame and submerges itself.

Aerial shot of surface of the water, unmoving. Low angle shot of roof of CAVE. Blur frame to focus on stalactites and pointed edges high above. Silence. 

Zoom in to a single stalactite. A drop of water carves a path along a crevice and falls out of frame. Pan up to base of the stalactite, tracking along roof of CAVE and focusing on a crack in the ceiling. A sliver of moonlight peaks through. It is now NIGHT.

Establishing shot of entire CAVE. We now see where the moonlight pokes through multiple holes in the ceiling. Water reflects off the walls. Pan down toward the shimmering pool, and we see a shape move in the water. Follow the ripples as they bleed into the shape, making it obscure. It appears distorted, large, and grotesque. Uncomfortable. But focus and we see CRAB reemerge from the water. Its shell looks purple in the moonlight. It is dirty, but it shimmers. 

Cut back to the stalactites on the celling, where another drop has made its way to the pointed edge. It drops out of frame. Cut to the pool of water below, where ripples echo out to its edges. CRAB has made its way to the pool’s rocky shore, where it scratches at the ground to pull itself up. Track CRAB as it picks along the mossy floor. CRAB is gathering shells. A meager pile forms. 

EXT Beach, Day 2, Sunset

Little BOY stuffs a clam shell into his bucket. It is full. Track BOY as he walks along the shore, looking at the ground. He stumbles onto the CAVE. Close up of BOY’s face as he studies it before climbing inside. Curious. Naïve. He pulls his bucket in after him. 

Wide shot of BOY inside CAVE. He looks down, and sees CRAB picking at the scattered shells on the ground. He reaches for CRAB, but CRAB scuttles away. BOY walks towards the pool of water and reaches inside. He finds more shells. He puts them into his bucket.

Cut to a large rock to BOY’s left. Pan up to the top and we see a CONCH SHELL embedded in the surface. Cut to BOY, who is staring up at it. He begins to climb. Some of the shells in his bucket spill out, and he throws it behind him, using both hands to get a grip on the rock. The bucket bounces across the ground, shells shattering and scattering. 

Cut back to BOY as he pulls himself up. He reaches for CONCH. Focus on feet as they slip against mossy stones. He falls. A child screams. Cut to black. 

EXT Entrance of Cave, Night

Sirens blare. A police car skids to a stop at CAVE’s entrance. People rush in. Yellow tape is drawn to block off the ENTRANCE. Camera is static. Energy. Crowded. 

INT Cave

Red and blue lights flash off of CAVE walls, breaking through water’s writing on the wall. BOY is being helped by a policeman. His arm is in a sling. 

Cut to CRAB, where it has drawn into its shell.


 

Pallas-Amenah will graduate from Ithaca College in 2019, with a BFA in writing for film, television, and emerging media. Amenah recently volunteered at NOAA Outreach in Washington, D.C., where she served as a videographer. She travelled with the Marine Sanctuaries team across the East Coast to document the group's efforts in preserving different oceanic sanctuaries. This summer, she will travel with them again, but this time as an intern. Through film, Amenah hopes to educate her community about marine ecosystems, the effects that drastic changes in the environment have on them, and what we can do to help.