This past week I’ve spent every spare minute (and even some when I was supposed to be working my full-time job) working on Draft #4 of the film script for True Surrender.
(Yes! For those of you who said that True Surrender would make an awesome Lifetime Movie – and I was surprised how often that came up – I’m finally taking the first step.)
It shocked me for the obvious reasons – the reasons everyone else was shocked. Namely, the sheer violence and – well, who can really be that sick?
But it is also eerily similar to a scene in True Surrender that I happened to be working on right then, when I heard about James Foley. (And yes, I probably would have watched the whole sordid video if I could have, trash basket nearby in case I felt ill.)
We don’t ‘see’ the violence in either the book or the film script of True Surrender, but in this scene, an American military officer is killed in a ‘snuff movie’ that is shown to our hero, who then tells the heroine about it.
The details are left vague (on purpose) but the reader/viewer gets the impression the officer’s throat was slashed because of earlier events in the story:
“I know what the doctor said about PTSD,” Holly said quietly. “And I know about the missing officer in Afghanistan.”
Aaron drew a sharp breath as bile threatened to rush into his throat. Unconsciously his fingers tightened against her jaw.
“Aaron?” She covered his hand with hers.
“There’s so much I need to tell you…”
“No more secrets,” she said.
“No.” He needed her to know; wanted to share his life with her.
“Promise?” she said.
He nodded. “We got a transmission yesterday—” His voice cracked.
“A message of unknown origin,” he said. “It was…ah…”
He had to choke the words out around a lump in this throat the size of a golf ball. “A snuff movie.”
“God, Aaron, you don’t mean…?”
Aaron nodded. “They videotaped themselves killing him.”
She couldn’t bring herself to ask for details. “Scott said it was similar to…to what you…”
“That could have been you,” she whispered.
“He has a wife and kids,” Aaron said. “Better I should have died over there than him.”
As much as I feel for James Foley, his family, and hell, the world… this event is morbidly fascinating to me as a writer. The above scene was written in 2010 or 2011, so way before this week’s media coverage of James Foley. Fictional characters like those in True Surrender are allowed to be tortured (both physically and mentally), and villains are allowed to be too awful to believe.
I wish it weren’t so in the real world.