INT. DARKENED ROOM
All we can see is his face, cast in shadow and directed at the floor. This is JACK.
The Jessica Fletcher effect...
He looks up, slowly, showing his face to be gaunt, sickly and pale. His eyes are dark, sunken and staring straight at us.
You may know what it is. You don't know what it's like...
He looks away, frustrated by the insufficiency of words, but then he looks at us again, a glint in his eye.
But maybe I can show you.
Death. Frozen moments of people shot, stabbed, garotted, suffocated, blood, guts, wide-eyes made vacant by terror.
TITLE: 'The Jessica Fletcher Effect'
INT. MAXWELL'S HOUSE, hallway
MAXWELL COLLIER is at his front door, admitting smartly-dressed guests to his dinner party. Jack is amongst those being shown in. He hands Maxwell a bottle of wine before following the other guests into the living room.
INT. MAXWELL'S HOUSE, living room
Maxwell goes off to check how things are going in the kitchen. The guests commence mingling. Except for Jack. He walks through the room and up to the camera.
This is how it started.
Everyone looks to the door.
INT. MAXWELL'S HOUSE, hallway
Rushing down the hallway, Maxwell's wife - SONIA - can be seen standing in the kitchen doorway. Screaming.
Int. maxwell's house, kitchen
Maxwell lies dead on the kitchen floor, a knife buried in his chest, a pool of blood forming on the floor beneath him.
A camera flash illuminates the scene.
INT. MAXWELL'S HOUSE, KITCHEN
Maxwell's P.O.V. - a police photographer standing over him, her camera flash firing again. A gruff man steps up alongside the photographer. He's chewing gum and smoking a cigarette. This is INSPECTOR SMITH. He looks down at the corpse grimly as the body-bag is zipped up, making everything go black.
INT. MAXWELL'S HOUSE, dining room
Smoke curls up into blackness. It rises from Inspector Smith's cigarette. He's sitting at the dining table opposite Jack, chewing gum. His SERGEANT watches on from the door.
Smith sizes up the witness. He chews, smokes and chews some more.
Then he takes out his gum and twists it into the shape of a little dog that he sets down on the table.
Jack looks down at the dog, up at Smith, the down at the dog. At which point Smith's fist comes crashing down on the table, squashing the dog flat.
Now what the Hell makes you think this was anything other than a simple case of suicide?
Jack, caught by surprise, takes a moment before replying.
It was something Maxwell's wife, Sonia, said.
INT. MaxWELL'S HOUSE, KITCHEN
Sonia is kneeling over the dead body of her husband. Tears stain her cheeks and she is angrily pointing toward camera.
You killed him!
The crowd of guests in the doorway all look a little sheepish.
Yes, you Gordon Bailey! I know you wanted Maxwell out of the company in which you were both partners so you could accept that million pound buy-out offered by Thompson Textiles Limited.
That's ridiculous! Maxwell and I had been friends and partners for fifteen years and not once in all that time did I murder him. If anyone was going to kill Maxwell, it'd be you, Joan Pollock!
He tries to point Miss Pollock out, but she's squashed right up next to him in the doorway, which makes it difficult.
Why on earth would I kill him?
You and Maxwell were having an affair. When he refused to leave his wife, you swore that if you couldn't have him, no one would. I was outside rooting through your bins at the time, Joan. I heard everything.
You were sleeping with Maxwell?
Yes and he loved me, even if he wouldn't admit it. Or prove it. Or talk to me when we weren't having sex. But I didn't kill him. If anyone killed him...
Jack bursts through to the front of the crowd.
It was that psycho there in the corner!
His pointing finger directs everyone's intention to a giggling maniac huddled in the far corner of the kitchen with blood splattered over his shirt and face. He's running the blade of a carving knife across his forearm.
Murder, death, kill...
He suddenly becomes aware of the silent attention turned upon him. He smiles... and leaps forward, swinging the knife.
Screams go up from the guests and they all rush to escape the wild blade.
Sonia is the last to leave the kitchen, the madman at her back.
INT. MAXWELL'S HOUSE, HALLWAY
Following the rush of bodies, someone flings the front door open, but the path forward is blocked. People scatter left and right and Inspector Smith steps through the doorway and holds up his badge.
Detective Inspector Elwyn Smith, Balesley CID.
Sonia and the maniac hurtle down the hallway toward him.
The maniac swings the knife.
Inspector Smith produces a gun and blows his head clean off.
INT. MAXWELL'S HOUSE, DINING ROOM
Inspector Smith pops another pellet of gum in his mouth and takes another puff on his cigarette. He studies Jack.
Okay, say Maxwell's death was murder, least the guy who did it ain't going to be killing anyone else.
But how did he get in? Sonia never left the kitchen and remember she stood to inherit her husband's half of the company - worth a cool £500,000.
And there is that security camera footage of her breaking that guy out of the high security psychiatric hospital. Okay, Jack, we'll look into it, but here's a tip: Leave the detective work to the detectives. I'll be keeping an eye on you.
EXT. STREET - night
Jack walks home.
I thought that would be it. Getting caught up in one murder is enough for anyone.
He turns the corner and jumps in alarm. Inspector Smith is standing there.
Still got my eye on you.
Smith walks off, smoking and chewing.
INT. FLATS CORRIDOR - NIGHT
Jack walks wearily along the corridor to his flat. He passes his neighbour's door and hears shouting, but he thinks nothing of it. He's at his own door and turning the key in the lock when he hears:
No! Please God, no!
And the sharp crack of a GUNSHOT.
One murder isn't enough for The Jessica Fletcher Effect.
CAPTION: To be continued.