Three years ago, I collaborated with a friend of mine, the comedian/magician Sam Macy on a one act play. We tossed around a lot of ideas, eventually settling on a horror story set during The Great Depression, specifically in the rural midwest, the dust bowl.
The end result is The Harlan House, the story of a woman (Darla Kane) who hasn’t been home in years. When she returns to her aging family farmhouse she finds that her brother has folded under the pressures of economic and agricultural collapse. He believes himself to be possessed by a demon and everyone in her brother’s life is convinced that an exorcism is requires and Darla is the only one who can approve of or stop this action.
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2 W, 4M.
Darla and her husband Sam have arrived at the farmhouse and question the local priest, Father Thomas.
Darla: Has he been to seen a doctor? Some professional?
Father Thomas: There is no medicine for your brother’s affliction. He is suffering from a plague of the spirit, not of the body.
Sam: It’s a disease of the mind, Father. He’s disturbed, and it’s not safe to keep him here. He needs help.
Father Thomas: No, Mr. Kane, it is we who need help. Based on all that I have heard and witnessed, I have come to believe that the soul of David Harlan…is possessed.
Darla: Possessed? What do you mean, possessed?
Father Thomas: I know this is difficult to hear, but a demon now resides inside of your brother.
Sam: And on what authority did you make this diagnosis?
Father Thomas: The authority of the Catholic church.
Sam: We aren’t Catholic.
Thomas: I have been informed, at great length, of Mrs. Kane’s conversion, but the Lord watches over all, even those who do not accept they are among his flock.
Sam: He needs help, from a professional!
Thomas: I am an ordained priest, and secular or not, you must see the danger inherent in this.
Darla: Oh, I think we’ve seen enough. (Stands) I should like to see my brother now.
Thomas: In time, but you must understand, he is a danger to himself and others.
Darla: You are swimming in very deep water here, he is a human being, and he needs help.The key, father.
Thomas: My judgement here-
Darla: Is in very serious question, you and my brother’s wife have endangered everyone in this house. Now are you going to show me to my brother?
Thomas: No, not at this point in time. I cannot risk him getting loose from the restraints.
Sam: Restraints? You’ve got him tied up and locked away? For how long?
Thomas: A necessary precaution, every measure-
Darla: How long, Father, has he been tied up in that room?
Thomas: (Reluctantly) Today will be the fifth day.
Darla: (In disbelief) You’ve had him tied up for five days?
Thomas: Be watchful, for the devil prowls like a lion, seeking to devour.
Darla: Enough, father. If you don’t unlock that door we’ll…we’ll…
Sam: We’ll break it down.