Parts 8&9 Christmas challenge

Hey readers,

So we have reached a turning point in the script so things get a little heavier here, but I promise I will still give you laughs. Also on the writing side, I'm at a stage, so close to the end I can taste it stage, where I like to stop and revise earlier bits to make them perfect before going on. But this is not a polished script challenge its a rough draft challenge, so I'm not letting myself. 😠 To that end I am not checking my running length, if its a bit long my nonexistent actors can just read fast! 😉 Aaron Sorkin fast! 😆 Oh and I quote a song, and I haven't looked up the exact rules about quotation levels in scripts so, shh🤫 

Can't wait to finish! 


Scene 8: Christmas Ghosts

Scene: Directly following 

COLEMAN meeting. 

Basement IT deserted elevator 

dings open. JACK and 


GABRIELLA crosses to desk 

Sinks heavily into seat. 

JACK follows. Leans over 

Cubicle wall. Beat. 


Come on. Grab your contest losing slicker and lets go join the fun.    
I think I’ll just skip the contest, and start work on this party.
And you think wrong. You keep missing all this nice stuff you’re doing for everyone. Take a break, enjoy it. Even Santa stops long enough to have a few cookies. 


Beat. GABRIELLA watches 



Its not a choice, you know. I mean this is, but I don’t wake up everyday and say to myself “how intensely can you commit yourself to your work today?” Or “make sure you think about it for hours when people slightly bump your pens.” I can’t loosen up. You’ve heard of OCD right? My case certainly isn’t the worst, but it isn’t mild either. That’s why I work here, not at my own company. I started one, this got in the way. 


JACK nodding along silently. 

Beat. Jack begins to grin.

Maybe you can’t relax completely. But you can lighten up a bit.


GABRIELLA sighs, frustrated.


JACK (undaunted)
When you were pranking me you were much more relaxed about other things.
Now you want me to prank you?
Absolutely! I was bummed not to be pranked today. Every day was an adventure. 
GABRIELLA (hissing)
That wasn’t relaxed. I was escalating, every day a little more. At first, yeah, it was fun, but even then I was intense. I spent the better part of my weekend writing code to screw with you. And the more fun I had with it the more I needed to do. It gets mean.
How mean?


GABRIELLA breathing heavily

Muscles clenched. 

JACK leans close. 

JACK (playfully goading)
Come on, tell me. How big a bite were you going to take out of my skin?
GABRIELLA (between teeth)
Valentine proposal fail.


JACK startles, stepping back. 

Looks horrified. 

GABRIELLA (uncomfortable)
I’m not…going to show it. I already decided not to show it. But…this isn’t relaxed.


GABRIELLA shakes out arms.


You broke my mother’s nutcracker, so(beat) (agitated) I needed to destroy a piece of you. 


JACK releases a shocked laugh. 

When I’m pulling a prank and you’re upset I’m fine. Even if its only a little upset. Then it gets quiet and I feel it materializing beneath my skin, I feel that nutcracker break, over and over like a ghost that lives inside of me. So I escalate, as if destroying you would kill the ghost. It feels right when I’m doing it. But when I say it aloud I can hear that its not (beat) normal. Normal people don’t need that kind of revenge. Its not proportional. I’m not in control, the ghost is. (laughs sadly)

Beat. GABRIELLA clenching fists.


JACK (curiously)
Whenever its quiet?
The ghost haunts you whenever its quiet? Like when we were in the elevator it was bothering you? And when you’re working? Forever?
GABRIELLA (cautiously)
Not every second. And not forever. At least not as prominently forever. But sometimes I’ll think I’ve gotten past something like this then suddenly, years later, it…(motions with hands)
Materializes again. (beat) Do you always take revenge?
GABRIELLA (slowly shaking head)
Almost never. 
So do it. Do your worst to me. See if it kills the ghost.
Are you crazy?
JACK (lightly)
Nah. But…you say you can never escape it. And I at least—
GABRIELLA (interrupting sharply)
Are just so well adjusted that nothing bothers you?


JACK laughs hard. 

GABRIELLA startles. 

Not even close. (beat) When Nicole dumped and humiliated me, and that video was just…everywhere I ran. (beat) I quit my job. I stopped talking to our friends. I completely erased my social media accounts (laughs) I thought. I ran away and it worked out fine. So what I have that you don’t is a certainty that I can escape if it comes to that. So…humiliate me. If I can’t take it, I’ll run away again and hide out for a few more years. 


JACK leans near 

Smiling softly. 

Hell, I’m pretty sure you are one of a kind. So I could probably hide forever next time. But the ghost I wouldn’t be able to escape(beat) (seriously) would be knowing that you were out in the world hating me, over something I truly am sorry for. So take it as far as you need to. Just promise in the end not to hate me. 


GABRIELLA stunned. 

Motionless several long 



GABRIELLA (whispers)
You are insane.


JACK shakes his head

Holds out hand.  


Lets go to the contest. You can prank me tomorrow. 



Hand in shock. Stands 

Free hand grabbing 

Slicker absently. Follows

JACK to elevators. 


Jack. I don’t hate you now. 
Good to know. 


Elevator doors open. 

Cut to conference room



I don’t know what just happened. 


GABRIELLA looks into distance

Hands resting stilly on lap. Long

Silence. Looks directly at camera. 


What just happened? I…Why would he do that for me? Literally no one does that.


Cut to Conference room



I definitely do not want that damned clip floating around again. I can just imagine the auto-tuning and memes and…just general hilarity guys like Cory and Angelo would have with it.  I hope it never comes out. I hope that my apology and voluntarily submitting to torture eases her out of the whole thing. But if not (shrugs) When she was talking about not being normal or proportional like either of those things is fixed. Or even real. And I could see that uptight part of her trying so hard to shove herself into someone else’s box of what normal looks like. I just couldn’t stand it. She’s sweet, and smart, and a little bit devious but in a cute way.  Why is she the one trying to fit? (shakes head) We look at proportion from a place of all things being equal, and they just aren’t. Maybe this is proportional for her. She’s going to feel it forever, so I should have to relive my greatest embarrassment. Its not (tilts head from side to side) entirely unreasonable. I can bend a bit for her.


Cut to conference room



GABRIELLA (smiling softly)
I don’t think I’ve ever felt this numb. Its quiet inside. Like…Like I’m curled up on my couch with a cup of cocoa and a favorite movie, and the storm is outside, far away from me type quiet. What if it works. (beat) What if it doesn’t work, and because he’s given me permission I’ve done this awful thing to him? And he’s the one left hating me. (beat) What if I can only stop if I stop now?     


Cut to elevator. GABRIELLA 

stares at JACK’s hand still 

held in hers. 


I won’t release the clip. 
JACK (casually)
Eh. Wait and see how it goes.



🎄  🎄  🎄     

Scene 9: Snappy Happy Ever After

GABRIELLA’s apartment living 

room the naughty and nice 

List is on an easel beside a

Fake fireplace. MARIA is at 

The kitchen counter back to 

Door, shoving things into a 

messenger bag. 


Great you’re back, I thought I would miss you. How did the contest go? Did you win?
GABRIELLA (absentmindedly) 
No. Pam won. She only used white and yellow paint, but she made a snow man. 
Say no more (turns) that would do…(spots JACK) it.





This is Jack, I work with him. We’re supposed to plan a Christmas party. This is my sister Maria. Come in Jack, make yourself comfortable. 
MARIA (suspiciously)
Yes, come in. So you’re Jack? Was it? 


JACK wanders around the

Room taking in all the 

decoration. Pauses at the 

naughty and nice list. Laughs.


Yep. Jack. The hunky broken piece of tin. 


JACK points to cartoon beside 

his name.


Did you do this Gabriella?
I did it.
Maria is an art student. She’s incredibly talented. 
MARIA (sarcastic)
Gee, thanks Mom.
Give me a second, I’ll get my laptop and we can get to work. Do you want any snacks, or something to drink? Maria. 


GABRIELLA waves at 

MARIA and the kitchen.

GABRIELLA exits down 



MARIA (nodding at cartoon)
Tin doesn’t handle cold especially well, so it was a mistake for the soldier to also have an icy heart. (beat) Our society is so inundated with depictions of violence that I feel we’re largely desensitized to it. However the juxtaposition of innately innocent images, i.e. a Christmas toy soldier with graphic death should still leave the viewer with a  startling visceral impact. 
JACK (chuckles)
You know I get this vibe from your family.
Is it warm and welcoming?
Thats not exactly how I’d describe it. 
MARIA (smirks, head cocked)
Great, sounds like you’re picking up what I’m putting down. Try not to break anything. 


MARIA exits following 


JACK (laughing out of shot)
Like my fragile tin neck?


Camera follows MARIA to 

hallway. GABRIELLA is 

exiting room with laptop in 

her arms.


MARIA (whispering)
What is he doing here? Did you get in trouble or something?
GABRIELLA (shaking head)
No, everything fine. But (grabs MARIA’s arm) told him about having OCD and feeling everything under my skin, and level twelve punishment, and (still dazed) he said to do it. He said to do my worst because he’d rather be embarrassed then have me hate him.


Beat. MARIA glances down hall

And back at GABRIELLA. Shakes

Head slowly.       


That’s…Well thats really sweet. Right? How do you feel?
I don’t know. I’ve never not known, but I don’t know. 
Okay. That’s…shit. I don’t know either. (laughs) That’s really very sweet of him. Do you think he’s into you? 
GABRIELLA (shaking head)
I don’t know. Maybe. 
Are you into him? (beat) Were you before he said that? Because its awesome and sweet and not to be ignored, but just because he feels a certain way about you, doesn’t mean you have to reciprocate. 
GABRIELLA (annoyed) 
Jeez Maria, what do you think I am thirteen or something? (hissing) I’m not here to sleep with him. We were assigned to plan the holiday party.
Everyone needs a reminder that their feelings are important sometimes. Everyone. Look I gotta get to class. I’ll be late, but just…be in the moment you know. If you aren’t sure what you feel don’t stress about that just be for a bit. 



On the cheek. 


We’ll talk later. Love ya. 


MARIA spins around, throws an 

annoyed look at camera crew. 

Waves them back, moves out 

Through the livingroom. 

JACK examining list.


Bye, Jack. Nice to meet you.


MARIA exits 

JACK (amused)
Yep. You too. 


GABRIELLA enters with laptop

Open. Typing code as she walks 

Sets computer on the table. 


Okay, heres my computer. You can start looking at the notes I had on Secret Santa for inspiration, while I grab us some snacks. 
How long was that password?
GABRIELLA (raised eyebrows)
Twenty-three characters.
JACK (amused)
Letters and numbers?
Are you trying to do, guess my code?
Oh, definitely. 
The computer is already unlocked, just don’t let it go to sleep.


Beat. GABRIELLA awkwardly 

moves to kitchen. 


I have water, orange juice, tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. 
Hot chocolate sounds good. Put us in the festive spirt. 


GABRIELLA moves around the 

Kitchen gathering snacks. 

JACK skims thigh GABRIELLA’s 



You have seven different files about this. (laughs)
GABRIELLA (mildly defensive)
I’m intense.
Yep. And thorough and way too full of ideas. Build your own toboggan rides, snowman building contest, team gingerbread dollhouse building. Snow ball fights, winter wonderland. Over half of these have to do with snow. (laughs) How would you even going to make the snow man contest work?
I don’t know for certain. I had lots of ideas, fake snow. Have actual snow brought in and do it first thing in the morning before it has time to melt. Or do it with food, donut holes, frosting and sprinkles could work. I may not even do it. I already did the paper snowmen. I just thought people might like to decorate them themselves. 
Yeah. People have really gotten into your DIY Christmas stuff. It feels oddly unforced.  Somehow it just makes sense and takes away some of the stress of the year end. 
GABRIELLA (enthusiastic)
I know. Its even gotten to me. Its like remembering the magic from when you were little. When the whole world is getting lit up and it feels like somehow its all about you. Even though it definitely isn’t. It just…it makes you feel like magic is real. (beat) (forces laugh) Before you grow ups and realize all the people running around are ridiculously stressed —


JACK stands walking slowly


GABRIELLA tenses up. 


GABRIELLA (continues)
And the lights and decorations and special drinks are just tricks to get you to spend more money. 
Oh, Santa. Don’t break my heart. You can’t be a cynic. We cynics need you to keep the magic alive for us. 
Seeing the bad and the good isn’t cynical, its realistic. 
JACK (shrugging)
Maybe. But the magic isn’t in the realism, is it? Its in that childish belief that the holiday is all about you.


JACK reaches past 


GABRIELLA holds breath.

JACK lifts the snacks. 


Let me help you with these. 


JACK crosses to couch

Sets plates down on the 

table. GABRIELLA breaths

Out. Shakes herself.

Pours water into Christmas 


What’s made you feel that way now? I mean you were completely making fun of me for decorating early. “believing in Christmas like a six-year-old” (imitating JACK’s voice snidely) Why the turn around?
Your pranks.


GABRIELLA raises a brow.

Seriously, they were annoying, but fun. And I kept getting the group gifts. (shrugs) I keep getting these weird impulses to decorate and…I don’t know. I guess you’re just a good Santa.


GABRIELLA stares incredulous. 



You’re screwing with me somehow. I just know it. 
Nope. I’m totally serious. Its like you believe enough for twenty people and the rest of us needed it.




Well…I just hope I can figure out what to do about the last gifts. I can’t think of anything I can get that will feel better than just the cash. 
   So quit worrying about pleasing everyone. 
GABRIELLA (sarcastic)
I take it you’ve given a lot of gifts in your life.
Cute. I mean (beat) Don’t make it a gift. Make it an experience like the rest have been. Something that ropes them in and helps them forget how cynical they feel because the world is so insane. 


GABRIELLA slowly spreading 

smile. Lays a cup in front of 

JACK. Holds onto her own 

Lifting a candy cane to stir. 


Like the song. 
 Which one?
“Need a little Christmas.” It’s so jaunty its easy to miss the lyrics. (slow-sing-song voice) Grown a little sadder, Grown a little older (beat) Need a little music, need a little laughter, Need a little Christmas now. 
JACK (eyes locked with GABRIELLA)
I think I forgot some words in there.


Long charged silence. 

JACK looks away grinning. 

JACK (brightly) 
Do you know whats really torturing me though?


GABRIELLA shakes head. 


You’ve got a file labeled Jack’s punishments and I’m just dying to click on it and see my future. 
GABRIELLA (taunting)
Go ahead.  
I can’t! Don’t you get it. Its killing me, but I can’t spoil the surprise. Coming to work these past few days was the closest I felt to Christmas morning excitement since I was like…fourteen. 


GABRIELLA giggles.


Just promise you’ll do something.


GABRIELLA smiles secretively.



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