Gate Bait | Script Revolution

Gate Bait

A crooked TSA agent finds a nasty surprise waiting for him
when he helps himself to the luggage of a mysterious passenger.

The story opens with Devin Tophet, a power-tripping TSA agent with a not so by-the-books sideline in parting passengers from their valuables.

We see Tophet at work, preying on weary and unwitting travelers who pass through his screening area with the zeal of a man harbouring some deep insecurities about his own station in life.

But Tophet’s rogue rummaging is about to take an unexpected turn when baggage belonging to the enigmatic Amar Stanfield trundles its way into his x-ray machine:


Stanfield retracts the handle of his case and lifts it up onto the conveyor belt.

Tophet looks Stanfield up and down. The corner of his mouth curls into a grin as he watches Stanfield’s bag enter the x-ray scanner.

Tophet watches the monitor and his eyes go wide. His grin becomes an ugly smiling gash and there’s a hint of drool from what he sees.

On the other side of the screening area, the conveyor belt transports Stanfield’s carry-on out of the x-ray scanner.

As Stanfield reaches for his bag, Tophet’s meaty hands slam down onto it.

This your bag?

Of course it is.

Gonna have to inspect it.

May I ask why?

Saw something suspicious on the monitor.

Really? Such as?

Not sure. But I’m gonna have to inspect it.

Well I’m happy to open it up for you
and we can go through it together.

Listen, pal. I don’t need you
giving me flack right now.

But I assure you I am --

-- I deal with a lot of you kind of people -
with your polite words and thinkin’ that
you’re better than me.

Sir, I don’t think that --

I’m inspecting your bag. Why?
Because I said so! And this…

He points to the T.S.A. Badge on his uniform.

Says that I can. So you need to back off.

Stanfield raises his hand and takes a couple of steps back.

Tophet drags the carry-on over the edge of the conveyor belt.

Be right back.

Tophet turns towards the inspection room.

Sir... SIR?

Tophet turns around. The entire top of his body turns with his head, like one fixed piece. He looks to Stanfield.

Careful with that.

But with his sights set firmly on the next score, the last thing on Tophet’s mind is being careful.  

After all, here in TSA world, Devin Tophet is top of the food chain.

…Or at least, he was…

Paul Grammatico’s Gate Bait keeps it simple yet effective, hooking the reader with the prospect of a much deserved comeupance before sticking the landing with a darkly comic payoff.  A fast-reading 11-pages that pull you along with a crisp visual storytelling that holds the attention to the end.

A handful of characters, minimal locations, and some potential for visual effects would make this a fantastic project for a filmmaker with some experience looking to hone their craft and make their mark with a sharply executed horror short.

About The Reviewer

Steve Miles's picture
Real name: 

Started writing scripts around eight years ago after realising his social life was vastly overrated. Enjoys writing in a variety of genres but leans toward raw, grittier characters and the worlds they inhabit - from the deadly serious to the darkly comic. Drinks coffee, owns an unhealthy amount of plaid and uses a calculator for the most basic of sums.Read more

About The Writer

Paul Grammatico's picture
Real name: 

Forbidden to see graphic films as a child and limited to edited TV movies, I received my horror information second hand through stories from older friends and siblings.  I also vacationed in a desolate cottage, raised in houses with creepy basements, and lived in an apartment with a “full torso apparition”.  Inspired by my experiences, I am a multi-award-winning screenwriter with an affinity of the weird and unexplained.Read more