Category Archives: ScriptIssue5

Z Ambiguity – Vicky Martin

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                                                  FADE IN:

 INT. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY. CONFERENCE ROOM. MORNING     1

The red-tinged and wacky scientist, PROFESSOR ZACHARY, 52, marches into the noisy conference room. His presence attracts the attention of everyone. He takes out a bell from his bag and starts ringing it.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Today I want you to tell me a thesis. A thesis so ludicrous, that I’ll have to take you up on it.

A dashing blonde scientist, HENRIETTA STEEPLE, 32, stands up first and walks to the front of the room.

HENRIETTA

The seed of genetics is my thesis. A scientific prospect that allows us to manipulate and replicate chromosomes to our liking . . . even humans.

TITLE: “Z AMBIGUITY”

                            SUPERIMPOSE: “3 YEARS LATER”

 INT. GUINEVERE’S BEDROOM. MORNING                      2

GUINEVERE KENGSLEY, 26, wakes abruptly to her 9.30AM alarm clock. She reaches for her glasses on the bedside table, puts them on and hits the snooze button. Guinevere leans back into the pillow and notices a yellow sticky note beside her.

GUINEVERE

[reading]

“Didn’t want to wake you, I’m holding a conference today at 11AM for the anniversary at work. Wish I could stay warm in bed with you. See you when I get home, love Henri”.

Guinevere rolls out of bed and throws her lab coat over her wrinkled white buttoned shirt and black pants. She runs downstairs and picks up her handbag before heading out the front door.

 

 INT. LABORATORY OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, CAMBRIDGE. MORNING 3

Henrietta is pacing back and forth in her black dress and heels, fumbling over her prepared speech. She extends her jawline and starts humming to herself. As the door clicks open, she freezes mid-pace and shuts her mouth. Guinevere strides into the dimly lit laboratory, with rustled brown hair and her purple-framed glasses.

HENRIETTA

(surprised)

What are you doing here?

 

GUINEVERE

(smug)

Admit it. You’re happy to
see me.

HENRIETTA

I was going to come back
to your place later tonight, with the rest of the Chardonnay and a special gift for you.

GUINEVERE

I know, but you need me here for good luck.

Henrietta wraps her arms around Guinevere and rests her head on her shoulder.

HENRIETTA

(whispering)

I love you too.

GUINEVERE

(smiling)

I’ll be here when you get
back.

Henrietta kisses Guinevere on the cheek and takes the bottle of Chardonnay from her desk on exit. Guinevere falls back into Henrietta’s desk chair and accidentally knocks over a report, which is marked confidential.

Guinevere opens the report.

                                              DISSOLVE:

 INT. CONFERENCE ROOM. MORNING                          4

Thirty-odd members of the Medical Research Council (MRC) enter the conference room. The black suits and blue ties shake hands, indulge in the light refreshments and engage in small talk. Henrietta steps up to the podium and loudly taps the microphone.

HENRIETTA

Welcome friends and colleagues to our 52nd Anniversary at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

The room quietens and the gentlemen take their seats.

HENRIETTA

As you know we’ve got much to get through this meeting. But first, I would like to give a special thanks to Dave for administering MRC’s generous funds this year.

DAVID GREEN, 51, short and stocky, joins Henrietta on stage and accepts the bottle of Haute Cabrière Chardonnay.

DAVID

(laughing)

You’re far too nice, Henri. I’ll just keep this for myself.

HENRIETTA

Honestly Dave, I don’t
blame you.

A loud buzzing interferes with the microphone. Henrietta excuses herself and turns around to answer her mobile.

     INTERCUT – MOBILE CONVERSATION

HENRIETTA

(whispering)

You know I’m in a meeting.

GUINEVERE

(cold)

I couldn’t care less, you manipulative bitch.

HENRIETTA

(confused)

Guinevere . . . what’s
wrong?

GUINEVERE

I actually thought you gave a shit about me.

HENRIETTA

What the hell are you talking about?

GUINEVERE

Chromosome Z.

     END INTERCUT.

Henrietta stumbles down from the podium and runs out the door.

 INT. HENRIETTA’S OFFICE. DAY                           5

Henrietta bursts into her office, out of breath, and begins frantically searching through the files on her desk. She knocks over a lamp and spirals herself into a semi-tornado of paper.

Henrietta dials Guinevere’s number and meets a dead line.

PHONE OPERATOR

Your call could not be connected. Please check the number, and try your call again.

She collapses into her computer chair and buries her head in her hands.

KNOCK. KNOCK.

Henrietta snaps up from her desk to see the security guard, grimacing at her tantrum.

HENRIETTA

I’m terribly sorry about the mess, got into an argument with myself.

SECURITY GUARD  

(amused)

We get that a lot in the science department. You’re going to

have to clean this up yourself.

HENRIETTA

I’ll get right on it.

SECURITY GUARD

The dustpan and broom will
be outside your office.

HENRIETTA

Thanks.

As the security guard leaves, Henrietta quickly logs onto her computer and signs into instant messenger.

ON THE SCREEN:

Professor Zachary,

We have a problem with Test Subject A. I believe she’s seen the report. I need you to handle this for me.

BEEP. BEEP.

Henrietta checks her phone.

DAVID

(TEXT)

What’s going on? You can’t just leave without an explanation.

HENRIETTA

(TEXT)

Just take over for me, Dave. I’ll be back soon.

Henrietta opens the GPS tracking program, ’TrackStick Mini’ on her computer and transfers the data to Professor Zachary before logging off. She gets the broom and dustpan from outside and begins sweeping the mess on the floor.

 EXT. CAR PARK. DAY 6

Guinevere trudges through the wet car park, with tears streaming down her pale face. She is carrying a heavy box of lab equipment and the report. Once at the car, she places the box down and reaches into her lab coat for the car keys. She unlocks the car and drops the keys into a puddle. Guinevere curses to herself and yanks the keys from the ground. Before getting up, she notices a flashing red light in the reflection of the puddle.

GUINEVERE (V/O)

All this time . . . I’m such a freaking idiot. Why would she do this to me?

Guinevere pulls out the tracking device from underneath her car and crushes it with her boot. She scrapes her shoe on the ground and steps inside the vehicle.

 INT. CAR. DAY – TRAVELING                              7

The rain hammers down onto the car. Guinevere stops at the set of traffic lights and takes out the report from her handbag. Attached to the front page is an identical photo of herself, with a red stamp labelled ’test subject A’. On the back of the photograph is a small note.

GUINEVERE

(reading)

“Property of Dr. Henrietta Steeple for Project SoG: Seed of Genetics.”

A car BEEPS behind her and Guinevere slams her foot on the accelerator. She continues driving straight ahead, turns left at the next intersection and parks outside her apartment complex.

 INT. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY. HEADQUARTERS. DAY               8

Professor Zachary is swivelling around on his computer chair. The lanky man is far from the usual build of a top notch scientist. He has bright red hair, fair skin, a plethora of freckles and hazelnut eyes. On his desk is a hand-made DNA chain, titled “The Seed of Genetics”.

An instant message pops up in his browser from Henrietta. He skims through the messages and opens the tracking program to pinpoint the location of Guinevere. He notices that one of the two installed devices is still active. The destination on the map shows Guinevere’s car outside her apartment in Cambridge.

Professor Zachary opens his drawer and takes out a tiny tube of white powder. The tube is marked with a Z+.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY (V/O)

I think it’s time we introduce you to test subject A.

 INT. CONFERENCE ROOM. DAY                              9

Henrietta returns to a busy conference room, with David standing on the podium, preaching to his colleagues about the importance of MRC.

HENRIETTA

(flustered)

I’m sorry about the
disruption.

DAVID

It’s all good, Henri. I was just taking advantage of having the stage to myself.

MRC MEMBER #1

What kept you from the meeting?

HENRIETTA

It’s a private matter, which I’d rather not discuss.

MRC MEMBER #2

Are you good to continue
now?

HENRIETTA

(blushing)

I think its best we
reschedule this for next week.

DAVID

We’ll resume the celebration back at our office. Let’s get moving men.

The guests shuffle out of the room, each one gazing at a very distraught, Henrietta. David places his hand on her shoulder and leans in for a hug.   

DAVID  

(concerned)

Is everything OK?   

Henrietta shakes her head, with tear-filled eyes.   

DAVID  

I’m here, when you’re ready to talk.

HENRIETTA   

I appreciate that Dave.  

Henrietta watches David walk down the hallway, until he is out of sight. 

BEEP. BEEP. 

Henrietta checks her phone. 

PROFESSOR Z (TEXT)    

She is at her apartment. You know the place better than I do, so you can go and get her. 

                                          DISSOLVE:                            

INT. GUINEVERE’S APARTMENT. AFTERNOON – MONTAGE 10

MUSIC —303 vs 909, Canton Becker — plays through the scene.

-Guinevere bursts through the front door and runs upstairs.

-Guinevere hauls a suitcase from underneath her bed.

-Guinevere ransacks her wardrobe for clothes, tossing everything she can fit into the suitcase.     

-Guinevere heads downstairs with her luggage.

-Guinevere raids the kitchen pantry.

-Guinevere packs all of her food cans into the suitcase.

-Guinevere leaps out the front door and slams it shut.       

END MUSIC.

END MONTAGE.

                                                CUT TO:

 EXT/INT. GUINEVERE’S APARTMENT. EVENING               11

Henrietta bangs her fist on Guinevere’s door repeatedly.

HENRIETTA

(shouting)

Let me in right now!

No answer. Henrietta uses the key from her purse to unlock the apartment. She kicks the door behind her and heads upstairs. Henrietta wanders into the bedroom, tracing her hand along the bed before laying down.

RING. RING.

Henrietta answers her phone.

     INTERCUT – MOBILE CONVERSATION

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

What’s your progress?

HENRIETTA

Well, she wasn’t here when I arrived. You should’ve picked up on that.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Give me a break, she’s your problem. I thought you had everything under control.

HENRIETTA

(angrily)

 

Don’t lay the blame on me, she was bound to find out sooner or later.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

My gut tells me, she knows more than she’s leading on.

HENRIETTA

I should never have initiated any involvement with her outside of the classroom . . .

                                       BEGIN FLASHBACK:

 INT. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY CLASSROOM. AFTERNOON        12

The students pack away their notes and disperse in groups from the classroom. Guinevere remains seated, watching Henrietta extend her arm across the white board, wiping away any trace of the lesson from the day.

Henrietta turns around and smiles at Guinevere.

HENRIETTA

Anything I can help you
with?

GUINEVERE

(walks over to Henri)            

I want you to have this.

HENRIETTA

And what did I do to

deserve this?

GUINEVERE

I think you know, Dr
Steeple.

Henrietta opens the sealed envelope and takes out a laminated award for ‘teacher of the year’.

HENRIETTA

Thank you Guinevere, although I think you’re more deserving of an award. How can I ever repay you?

GUINEVERE

Dinner at my place tonight.

HENRIETTA

Sounds wonderful.

END FLASHBACK:

 INT. GUINEVERE’S BEDROOM. EVENING                     13

Henrietta reaches for the photo frame on the bedside table, of herself and Guinevere laughing together outside Cambridge University. She traces her finger over the two people and begins to cry.

     INTERCUT – MOBILE CONVERSATION (CONT’D)

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Don’t put this on yourself, Henri. She trusts you to take care of her, and that’s what you’re doing.

HENRIETTA

(sobbing)

OK. Just help me get her back.

     END INTERCUT.

Henrietta wraps herself under the bed sheets and closes her   eyes.

                                           JUMP CUT TO:

 EXT. CITY. NIGHT – TRAVELING                          14

Guinevere is driving in slow motion through the city, constantly stop-starting the car, because of gridlock traffic and numerous drunks wandering aimlessly on the   street. Further down the main road, she spots a small cottage hotel and parks on a side alley nearby. When she steps out of the car, she twists her ankle and stumbles to the ground. She tries getting up, but cannot balance herself.

At the end of the alley, a tall figure appears and moves closer to Guinevere. She remains fixated on the shadow, with her right hand at the ready for dialling 000 on her phone.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Are you alright?

GUINEVERE

(sarcastic)

Sure looks that way, doesn’t it.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

(uncertain)

Did you need any help . . . ?

GUINEVERE

What’s in it for you?

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

(sincere)

I suppose you’ve never felt an obligation . . . to help a stranger.

GUINEVERE

What’s your name?

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Zach.

 

GUINEVERE

Bring me and my luggage to the hotel please, Zach. I have a reservation to make.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Did you need to go to the hospital, perhaps get yourself checked out?

GUINEVERE

Just a sprained ankle, nothing to cry over.

The professor lifts Guinevere over his left shoulder, picks up her luggage and makes his way across the road to the hotel. Before he plants her on the ground, Professor Zachary sneakily injects the substance Z+ into her lower backside.

 EXT/INT. CAMBRIDGE CITY TENISON TOWERS. NIGHT         15

The duo stand outside the hotel, neither wanting to step inside. The cosy and extravagant hotel is swarming with tourists, holding pamphlets about the available bed and breakfast deals.

GUINEVERE

Thanks Zach for helping me
out, haven’t exactly had the best day.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Someone needs to look out

for you, especially on days like this.

GUINEVERE

(laughing)

That’s nice of you to say. Although, I can’t really count on anyone at the moment.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

You’d be surprised. Take it from me.

A beat.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY (CONT’D)

I better get going.

GUINEVERE

Thanks again.

Guinevere limps inside to join the lobby queue. She leans her head out of the long line and sneers at the couples and children standing in front of her.

GUINEVERE (V/O)

(annoyed)

Beginning to feel the tension.

RECEPTIONIST

Good evening, how can I
help you?

GUINEVERE

 

I’d like to book a room for three nights stay.

RECEPTIONIST

What room are you after?

GUINEVERE

(sarcastic)

The single and affordable
type.

RECEPTIONIST

 

Single room is fifty euros per night. How would you like to make your payment?

GUINEVERE

(hands credit card to receptionist)

On credit, thanks.

RECEPTIONIST

 

You’ll be in room thirty-five. Here is your key, Ms Kengsley. You can head upstairs now. We hope you enjoy your stay with us.

 

GUINEVERE

 

Is there a lift nearby? Kind of sprained my ankle on the way here . .

RECEPTIONIST

 

Take a left at the end of the lobby, the lift is on your right.

                                                CUT TO:

 INT. HOTEL ROOM. MORNING                              16

Guinevere wakes up to a burning fever, shaking in layers of sweat. She wipes her forehead and scrapes off her face a new batch of skin, which sticks to her fingertips. She rushes into the bathroom and screams at her reflection. The mirror shows patches of skin missing from her face. She runs her fingers along the gaps and begins grafting away at the dead skin, only to reveal a fresh layer of new skin.

Guinevere strips down. She finds pieces of her loose skin still sticking to her pyjamas. In a fit of panic, Guinevere takes a pair of scissors from the bathroom drawer and begins peeling off the old bits of skin hanging on her bare body.

She stares into the mirror, eyes wide open and on the verge of shattering. Guinevere wraps a towel around herself and picks up the hotel phone.

 INT. GUINEVERE’S BEDROOM. MORNING                     17

Henrietta, dreary-eyed and tired, rolls out of bed and into the bathroom. As she turns on the hot water for the shower, her phone buzzes. After a few minutes of cleansing, she steps out of the steamy hot shower wearing a white towel. Henrietta clears the foggy mirror with her right hand, and stares intently at her reflection.

Henrietta checks her phone and redials the unknown number from the missed call.

HENRIETTA

Hello?

GUINEVERE (O/S)

(scared)

What the fuck have you done to me?

HENRIETTA

Guin calm down. Where are you?

GUINEVERE (O/S)

(panicked)

 

I’m literally all over the place. I just fucking peeled my skin off like a snake, and am somehow still standing in my own flesh!

HENRIETTA

(shocked)

The reaction has begun . . .Listen to me Guin, I need you to stay put for me. Just tell me where you are and it’ll be alright.

GUINEVERE (O/S)

Cambridge City Tenison Towers.

Room thirty-five.

INT. HOTEL ROOM. DAY                                  18

KNOCK. KNOCK.

Guinevere stares at the door.

HENRIETTA (O/S)

It’s me.

She approaches the door and looks through the peephole.

GUINEVERE

 

I know. I just can’t see the same person.

HENRIETTA (O/S)

Guin, you’ve got this all wrong.

Nothing’s changed between us.

GUINEVERE

I’m the seed in your experiment, a mutation in the process of unravelling, and you think nothing has changed?

HENRIETTA (O/S)

Please Guin, open the door for me and I’ll explain everything to you.

                                        BEGIN FLASHBACK:

EXT/INT. GUINEVERE’S APARTMENT. EVENING               19

KNOCK. KNOCK.

Guinevere opens the door in a sexy red dress and welcomes Henrietta inside.

HENRIETTA

(blushing)

I’m sorry, I didn’t think to bring a change of clothes to work with me.

GUINEVERE

Don’t be ridiculous. Can I get you a glass of wine?

HENRIETTA

Oh, yes please. You wouldn’t happen to have white wine?

GUINEVERE

Did you know I was making a pumpkin, chardonnay and mushroom risotto?

HENRIETTA

(laughing)

How did I get so lucky? You’re going to have to teach me how to make that someday soon.

GUINEVERE

It’s the least I can do for you,

Dr. Steeple.

HENRIETTA

(smiling)

Please Guinevere, call me Henrietta.

Guinevere retreats to the kitchen and comes back to the dining table to serve up the steaming dish, with sparkling white wine.

HENRIETTA

I have a proposition for
you.

GUINEVERE

 (intrigued)

I’m listening.

HENRIETTA

Next year I’m running a small side project with Professor Zachary, at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

GUINEVERE

Are you talking about the seed of genetics?

HENRIETTA

(surprised)

Yes . . . how did you know?

GUINEVERE

About a month ago, Professor Zachary sent an email to me, expressing interest in sampling my DNA for the experiment.

     END FLASHBACK:

 INT. HOTEL ROOM. DAY                                  20

Guinevere unlocks the door and pulls Henrietta inside. Henrietta places her hand on Guinevere’s face, tracing her fingers in a circular motion around the raw skin.

HENRIETTA

I’m so sorry, Guinevere.

GUINEVERE

What’s going to happen to
me?

HENRIETTA

I don’t know yet, but I’m not going to let this tear us apart.

GUINEVERE

You did that yourself, and I can’t forgive you.

Henrietta takes off her black jacket and wraps it around Guinevere. Guinevere pushes Henrietta onto the bed and attempts to strangle her. Henrietta grabs a pillow and forces it on top of Guinevere’s face. After a few seconds, Guinevere falls unconscious.

Henrietta cleans up the room; picking up dead skin off the floor, packing the luggage into her bag and taking back the report. She dresses Guinevere in her work attire and throws her over her shoulder, then carries her to the car outside.

 INT. CAR. DAY – TRAVELING                             21

Guinevere awakes to find herself strapped to the passenger seat of the car, unable to move and sitting next to Henrietta.

HENRIETTA

You need to trust me, Guin.

GUINEVERE

(angrily)

That’s fucking rich, coming from you!

HENRIETTA

Let me explain myself, for a second time.

GUINEVERE

Go ahead.

HENRIETTA

I didn’t plan on falling for you.

GUINEVERE

Now that there will be multiple versions of me, you can take your pick.

HENRIETTA

I don’t think you understand.

GUINEVERE

Just drive.

 INT. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY HEADQUARTERS LAB. DAY          22

In the lab is Professor Zachary, sitting at his desk. Henrietta enters the room with Guinevere, who is still tied up, and locks the door behind her.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Damn Henri, I didn’t expect you to find her so soon.

GUINEVERE

(confused)

I know you, you’re the man who helped me get to the hotel. Zach, right?

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Yes, I am. I’m also known as Professor Zachary, who you may know from the project we’ve been working on.

GUINEVERE

Mind explaining what the fuck is happening to me? This morning my skin felt like dirty clothes, waiting for me to rip off my body.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

You are a pivotal role in the seed of genetics. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to go through with the cloning experimentation.

GUINEVERE

Why me? What is so special about my DNA?

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

I think it’s best for your monitor to tell you.

Guinevere turns to Henrietta, tears jerking out of both their eyes. Neither speak for a few moments.

HENRIETTA

(guilty)

You’re the first student whose body has accepted the mutation we implanted. Chromosome Z transforms the body for cloning, which is what is happening to you.

A beat

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

With your consent last year, your body is ours to replicate, you will have no singular identity, and you belong to us here, as a product of science.

Guinevere faints.

                         SUPERIMPOSE: “3 HOURS LATER”

 INT. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY HEADQUARTERS LAB. AFTERNOON   23

Guinevere is laying down in a white gown, tied to the medical table. On the side of the operating table is a pair of surgical scissors, decorated in flesh.

Professor Zachary tends to test subject B. The skin transferred from Guinevere’s body is covering every inch of Henrietta’s naked body. Every limb, bump and wrinkle is aligned with the new layer, all but the pubic hair.

The professor injects Henrietta with a relaxant to soothe her muscles. In that instance, Henrietta lifts herself up off the table and stretches out. Professor Zachary holds a mirror in front of Henrietta, to reveal the transformation.

Henrietta puts on the clothes she took from Guinevere’s luggage and approaches test subject A.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

We’ll have to work on your voice and dye your hair, if you’re going to be Guinevere.

HENRIETTA

You have my full cooperation.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

I don’t think you’ll benefit from a prolonged goodbye. Make it quick.

Professor Zachary injects Guinevere with the same muscle relaxant and she awakes momentarily.

GUINEVERE

(disoriented)

What happened?

HENRIETTA

(smiling)

You did it Guin. I’ve never felt closer to you than I do right now.

GUINEVERE

(shocked)

Guinevere?

Henrietta kisses her on the cheek and then heads for the door, wearing Guinevere’s white buttoned shirt, black pants and lab coat. Professor Zachary pats the test subject on the head and places duct tape over her freshly peeled mouth.

PROFESSOR ZACHARY

Guinevere did this for you, so you’ll always be a part of her.

Guinevere violently shakes her arms and legs in chains, and tries screaming, but no more than a whisper escaping the duct tape.

The professor laughs, while turning the operating table around. Guinevere sees a wardrobe of coat hangers, each one holding the skin taken from her fragile body.

                                             FADE OUT:

Synopsis

Z Ambiguity is a short sci-fi thriller (17 minutes) about a ‘ludicrous thesis’ that joins together Professor Zachary and Dr. Henrietta Steeple, in a secret project to explore the Seed of Genetics (SoG). Over the course of three years of research and experimentation, the team find success with test subject A: Guinevere Kengsley.

Guinevere is a quick witted lab assistant and lesbian, who becomes sexually involved with her supervisor, Henrietta, during her studies at Cambridge University. On the morning of the 52nd Anniversary at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Guinevere discovers a confidential report, which reveals that she is test subject A, the carrier of chromosome Z for cloning and property of Dr. Steeple.

Outraged by the betrayal of her lover, Guinevere runs away from the laboratory and her apartment to a small cottage hotel, Tenison Towers in Cambridge City. Henrietta seeks the help of Professor Zachary to track down the test subject, while struggling to deal with her obligations at work and the downfall of her relationship.

Professor Zachary takes the opportunity, during a ‘chance’ encounter with Guinevere, to accelerate the reaction of chromosome Z with the stimulant, Z+.

The next morning, Guinevere wakes up at the hotel with a burning fever and new batch of skin. She calls Henrietta, hoping to get answers and come to terms with the experiment she’s become a part of.

 In the final act, Henrietta introduces Guinevere to Professor Zachary and reveals to her the reason why her DNA was chosen, to provide genetic material for cloning.

The short, Z Ambiguity, concludes with an ambiguous ending; Guinevere is no longer Guinevere, but a physical duplicate possessed by test subject B, Henrietta.

 

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Whitewash – Elizabeth Hobart

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                                             FADE IN:

  INT. PUBLIC INDOOR SWIMMING POOL. EARLY MORNING      1

The public pool is a harsh contrast of white and diluted blue. Three youths in their early 20s – ELLA, TEGAN and MAX – swim in the pool. Ella and Max race while Tegan breaststrokes alongside them.

                                              CUT TO:

  INT. PUBLIC BATHROOMS (FEMALE). EARLY MORNING        2

Pale blue light floods the public bathroom. A cubicle door slams. Jessie’s (17) fingers, wrinkled from pool water, fiddle with the lock. She breathes heavily before clasping her hand over her mouth. A skinny male, TRAVIS (22), enters with a black handgun dangling from his index finger. He wears only jeans and his hair is damp.

TRAVIS

Come on out now, Angel. This isn’t a joke.

Travis creeps over to the closed cubicle door and then bangs it with both hands. Jessie sits down on the toilet seat, scratching nervously at her knees.

TRAVIS

(laughing)

I’m not gonna hurt you,

I promise, I promise. Well maybe.

Travis jumps up attempting to grab hold of the top of the door. He fails at first but then manages to hoist himself up. Jessie trembles.

JESSIE

Stop it, Trav, I don’t want to play anymore!

Travis climbs further so that his arms hang over the top of the door. He smiles.

TRAVIS

Tough luck.

Jessie chokes up. Travis points his gun down at her. His finger strokes the trigger and pulls. Jessie’s face is squirted with water.

                                         FADE TO BLACK:      

TITLE: WHITEWASH            

INT. PUBLIC INDOOR SWIMMING POOL. EARLY MORNING       3

The white plastic furniture of the indoor pool area is gleaming under the ceiling lights. A plastic clock on the wall strikes 7:00 A.M. The cafe window still has its steel roller shutters down. The three youths from the pool sit around a table. A close up of Ella’s face shows the previous night lingering under her eyes. An unseen male, Max, can be heard talking with a husky voice while Ella stares straight ahead.

    MAX

You’re my best girl, you know what I mean?

It can now be seen that Max is speaking across the table not to Ella, but another girl. The other girl, Tegan, rolls her eyes and lights a cigarette. On a wall behind them is a faded ‘No Smoking’ sign. The sound of a harmonica echoes from the nearest hallway. Travis emerges from the hallway, harmonica in hand. He is now wearing a baggy Jumper with his board shorts. He walks over to the table.

TEGAN

(To Travis)

I thought you’d never left.

TRAVIS

I’m never leaving.

Travis grins and kisses both girls on their heads before taking a seat. Ella raises her hand up to Travis’ cheek.

ELLA

Been trying on lipstick, have you?

Ella rubs her thumb against Travis’ skin. He brushes her hand away.

TRAVIS

When does the tuck shop open?

Tegan glances over to the other side of the pool where a male CLEANER picks up leftover towels from the night before. He stuffs them all into a laundry basket.

TEGAN

(To Travis)

We’ve been coming here for ages… You honestly don’t know the answer to that?

Travis shakes his head and blows into his harmonica.

TEGAN

(To Travis, nodding at cleaner)

Not ’til this bloke is done.

                                                CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL CAR PARK. EARLY MORNING     4

There are only two cars parked in the outdoor car park. A close up shows a decoration hanging in one of the cars, reading ‘JESSICA’.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC BATHROOMS (FEMALE). EARLY MORNING         5

The shower in the public bathroom drips repetitively.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). EARLY MORNING     6

The cleaner makes his way around to the other side of the pool where the youths sit. He continues to pick up leftover towels from the floor and seats.

MAX

Mor-ning!

The cleaner smiles shyly and accidentally drops a couple of towels from his basket. As he picks them back up, one towel appears to be wet with blood.

ELLA

Is that-

MAX

Jesus!

Tegan gags and Travis imitates her. She smacks his shoulder.

TEGAN

Stop, you know I’ve got a problem with-

She gags again and turns her chair around. Travis continues to mock her. The cleaner shrugs, picks up the towel and throws it back into the basket. A red smudge is left on the tiles where it had landed. The youths stare at it for some time.

   ELLA

 The shop is opening.

Everyone turns to see the cafe owner hoisting up the roller shutters.

   TRAVIS

 Thank the gracious gods.

   MAX

 Are you lot getting breakfast or just drinks?

TEGAN

I won’t be able to eat for a good hour.

TRAVIS

Suit yourself.

ELLA

Where’s Jessie? She took mum’s coin purse this morning.

They all pause in thought. Tegan takes another puff of her cigarette.

TEGAN

(Mumbling)

Well she just went to the bathroom, didn’t she?

They pause again.

ELLA

When was that?

Tegan shrugs. Max and Travis jump up and hurl themselves towards the cafe counter. Ella’s eyes land on the red smudge on the tiles. Tegan notices this as she exhales a cloud of smoke.

TEGAN

Don’t stress, people wander off sometimes.

Ella is quiet. Tegan rolls her eyes and puts out her cigarette on the table. Her chair squeaks as she stands up.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                      7

Tegan trudges down the white hallway of the public pool. Her sneakers scuff against the tiles.

TEGAN

(Calls out)

Jessie? Jess?

Tegan pokes her head around the female bathroom entrance.

TEGAN

(Frustrated)

You in there, Jess?

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC BATHROOMS. EARLY MORNING                  8

Tegan enters the female bathroom. All the cubicle doors stand open. One of the taps is dripping and Tegan twists it until it stops. She spots Travis’ water gun sitting between two sinks.

TEGAN

(Sighing)

Trav, you little shit.

Tegan leans over and picks up the water gun. She points it with both hands at her reflection in the mirror and shoots a few squirts of water. She smiles and puts the water gun down. She rubs her face and suddenly sees a smear of red down her cheek. There is blood on her hands.

TEGAN

(Gagging)

What the f-

She picks up the gun again and wipes blood off the handle with her thumb. Travis’ initials are scratched into the side. She gags again.

TEGAN

Fuck!

Glancing at Travis’ initials again, Tegan checks the empty cubicles. She hides the gun down beside a sanitary disposal bin.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                      9

Tegan rushes back down the hallway but stops outside the steam room. She hears a noise and peaks inside the door, cringing at the heat inside.

TEGAN

Oi, anyone here? Jessie?

    

She receives no answer. She turns around and jumps in surprise at the cleaner standing behind her.

CLEANER

Hey, are you done?

 

TEGAN

Done with what?

CLEANER

Talking to nobody . . .

TEGAN

I was looking for –

Tegan glances down at the cleaner’s right hand. It is bandaged.

TEGAN

What happened there?

CLEANER

What’s it got to do with you? Get outta here.

The cleaner waves her away and she heads back towards the pool. She turns around to get another look at the cleaner’s hand.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). EARLY MORNING    10

The clock strikes 7.30 A.M. The other three youths are still around the tables as Tegan returns to them.

TRAVIS

Eh, there she is!

MAX

Bloody hell, you took your time.

Travis casts Tegan a suspicious look.

TEGAN

I wasn’t gone that long.

TRAVIS

(Sarcastically)

Did you get lost, Tegan? That’s one big hallway for a little girl like you.

ELLA

Oh, shut up Trav.

TRAVIS

You’re right, you’re right. It’s tiny.

ELLA

(To Tegan)

Did you find Jessie anywhere?

MAX

I didn’t even notice she was gone.

TRAVIS

(Sarcastically)                                   

Maybe she got lost too.  

ELLA

(To Tegan)    

Did you find her?

Tegan shakes her head. Max grins and reaches out to playfully punch Travis on the arm.

MAX     

(To Travis)

Shouldn’t you know where she is?

ELLA

Why would Travis know where she is?

MAX

(To Travis)

Isn’t she your girlfriend, mate?

ELLA

What?

MAX

That’s what I heard.

ELLA

That’s bullshit, she hasn’t even finished school for God’s sake.

TEGAN

Is it bullshit, Travie?

Travis and Tegan exchange scathing glances.

TRAVIS

(Grins)

My private business, isn’t it?

ELLA

(To Travis)

Not while she’s my little sister.

TRAVIS

(To Ella)

Like what?

ELLA

(To Travis)

About you and Jessie.

TRAVIS

(to Ella)

Chill out beautiful, I’m sorry.

They sit in silence.

TRAVIS

(to Ella)

There’s enough of me for you too-

Max bursts into a fit of laughter. Ella stands and hits Travis on the arm.

TRAVIS

Hey, ow!(looking at his arm) Ow.

ELLA

(Taking out her phone)

I’ll try calling her.

Travis moves over to Tegan and squeezes her shoulder.

TRAVIS

(To Tegan)

Can I drag you off for a minute?

TEGAN

(To Travis)

Why?

TRAVIS

(To Tegan)

Well, that would ruin the surprise, wouldn’t it?

                                                CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                     11

Travis holds Tegan’s arm and leads her into the hallway. He heads towards the female bathrooms.

TEGAN

We’re not going in there.

Travis stops and turns to face her.

TRAVIS

Why not?

TEGAN                                              

I think you might know why not. Your gun is in there with-

Travis cups his hand over Tegan’s mouth and firmly pushes her against the wall.

TRAVIS

It’s a fucking water pistol, Tegan. Don’t be saying that shit where people can hear you.

He takes his hand off her mouth and releases her slightly.

TEGAN

What went on in there?

TRAVIS

What the hell are you talking about?

TEGAN

The blood, Travis.

Travis stares at Tegan in confusion.

                                          SHARP CUT TO:         

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL CAR PARK. EARLY MORNING    12

Jessie hurries through the car park with car keys in hand. She is flustered and wipes tears from her cheeks.

                                          SHARP CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                     13

Travis still holds Tegan against the wall.

TRAVIS

I don’t know what this is about.

TEGAN

(Hissing)

What do you mean?

TRAVIS

You can’t always protect Ella.

TEGAN

Yeah, well, her feelings about

you aren’t exactly the priority right now.

TRAVIS

(Distracted)

No, they’re definitely not…

TEGAN

(Beat)
What’s going on?

Travis rubs his brow.

                                           SHARP CUT TO:

INT. JESSIE’S CAR. EARLY MORNING                      14

Jessie drives her car up to an intersection with a stop light.

JESSIE

Fuck.

She lets her hands fall softly from the steering wheel to her stomach. She lifts her shirt and strokes the bare skin.

                                           SHARP CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                      15

Travis clenches his eyes shut for a few moments.

TEGAN

Tell me where she is.

TRAVIS

I don’t know where she is.

TEGAN

What do you mean you don’t know?

TRAVIS

I don’t! She must’ve left!

TEGAN

What did you do to her, Travis?

Travis pushes Tegan harder against the wall and brings his mouth up next to her ear.

TRAVIS

(Whispering)                                  

Igot her pregnant, Tegan. I got her pregnant.

Tegan is silent.

TRAVIS(CONT’D)

She’s got a kid in her belly and it’s going to grow like a seed,
Tegan.

Travis moves his head so that their eyes meet.

TEGAN

(Whispering)

She is a kid.

TRAVIS

But so am I, I didn’t-

TEGAN

Travis, is she hurt?

TRAVIS

I didn’t know-

TEGAN

Travis… Is she hurt?

TRAVIS

No! Why-

TEGAN

Then why is there blood on your gun?

TRAVIS

It’s a water pis- Wait, what?

TEGAN

Come with me.

Travis’ eyes are glassy as Tegan heads for the female bathrooms. He slaps his hand against the wall.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. JESSIE’S CAR. EARLY MORNING                     16

Jessie’s phone starts ringing on the seat beside her. She won’t look at it.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). EARLY MORNING    17

Max enters from outside.

MAX

Her car’s gone.

Ella presses the ‘End Call’ button on her phone.

ELLA

No answer.

MAX

(sighs)

Yeah, she never answers her phone.

ELLA

How would you know that?

MAX

(Hesitating)

Trav might’ve mentioned it.

 

Ella looks downwards. The cleaner enters the pool area again with a mop and bucket. He begins cleaning the tiled floor around the pool. Ella and Max stare at him for a few moments.

ELLA

Is he new?

MAX

(Mocking)

They’re always new.

Ella glares at Max. The cleaner gasps and releases the mop from his bandaged hand, cradling it. Ella looks up.

ELLA

(Calling out)

You’right?

The cleaner nods. He shakes the hand gently before returning to his work.

ELLA

What do you reckon happened there?

MAX

(looking around)

Where?

ELLA

To his hand, Max.

MAX

What’s wrong with his hand?

ELLA

It’s bandaged. Are you blind?

MAX

Hey, ease off. Why do you give a shit?

ELLA

Just looks pretty nasty.

Ella pauses. Her eyes widen as she studies the cleaner’s hand from a distance.

MAX

So, coffee?

                                               CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC BATHROOMS. MORNING (8:30 A.M.)          18

Tegan bursts through the bathroom door, Travis following closely behind. Tegan rushes into one of the cubicles and retrieves the water gun from its hiding place. She dangles it in front of Travis’s face, resisting the urge again to be sick at the sight of blood.

TRAVIS

Look at that…

He snatches the water gun from Tegan’s fingers and begins rinsing it under a tap.

TEGAN

What the hell are you doing?!

Tegan jumps at Travis to stop him but does not succeed.

TRAVIS

It’s fine, Tegan. Forget about it.

TEGAN

Something really messed up is going on-

The bathroom door opens. A middle-aged FEMALE   SWIMMER enters. She looks the pair up and down.

FEMALE SWIMMER

What’s going on here?

(To Travis) You, out!

TRAVIS

All good, I’m leaving.

TEGAN

(To female swimmer)

He’ll leave in a minute.

The swimmer glares at them both before shutting herself inside a cubicle. Travis looks back at Tegan, almost apologetically.

TRAVIS

I’ve gotta go . . .

TEGAN

Not until you tell me what’s going on.

TRAVIS

Nothing’s going on.

Tegan glances around at the cubicles, then back at Travis.

TEGAN

What happened in here?

TRAVIS

I swear to God-

TEGAN

You don’t believe in-

TRAVIS

I swear on my life-

TEGAN

All right-

TRAVIS

Everything is going to be okay.

TEGAN

But-

FEMALE SWIMMER 

(Calls from cubicle)

Get that boy out of here or I’ll report you both!

Tegan turns to the cubicles again in disbelief. Travis shrugs at her. He pats her on the head before grabbing the water gun and exiting.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. JESSIE’S CAR. MORNING                           19

Jessie continues to clutch her stomach while she drives. Her eyes well up with tears. She pulls over to the side of the road and calls Ella.

ELLA

(On speaker)

Yes, hello?! Jessie?

JESSIE

(On phone, croaky voice)

Hey, Ell.

ELLA

(On speaker)

What the fuck happened to you? Where are you?

JESSIE

(On phone, croaky voice)

I’m fine, I’m fine.

ELLA

(On speaker)

Jesus. Where are you?

JESSIE

(On phone, croaky voice)

It doesn’t matter-

ELLA

(On speaker)

Where did you go-

JESSIE

(On phone, croaky voice)

It doesn’t matter, Ella. I’m coming back. I’m coming back.

Jessie hangs up the phone. She turns on the car and makes a sharp turn.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). MORNING          20

The plastic clock strikes 9 A.M. Ella’s gaze turns from her ended call with Jessie to Max sitting opposite her. He tilts his head to get the last of his coffee before meeting her eye.

MAX

What are you looking at?

ELLA

That was Jessie! 

MAX

Where?

ELLA

On the phone, fuck.

MAX

Oh, shit, where is she?

ELLA

I don’t know . . .

                                                CUT TO:

INT. POOL HALLWAY. EARLY MORNING                     21

Tegan follows Travis down the hallway, trying to catch up with him. The water gun sits in his board short pocket. Tegan tries to grab his side. He cringes. They reach the pool area.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL (INDOOR). MORNING          22

Max spots Tegan and Travis emerging from the hallway. He nods and waves.

MAX

Hello there!

Ella turns swiftly to face them.

TEGAN

What did we miss?

ELLA

Jess just called back . . .

TEGAN

She did?! (Glancing at Travis) Where is she?

      ELLA 

Um . . .  

      MAX

She doesn’t know.

      TRAVIS

What do you mean she doesn’t know?

      ELLA

She hung up before I could get it out of her (pauses) But she’s on her way back . . .

Travis stares at Ella. Tegan stares at Travis. Max takes the lid off his coffee cup and inspects it for any leftover drops. Ella’s phone buzzes, catching everyone’s attention.

          ELLA

It’s a message from Jess – she’s parking.

          TRAVIS

I’m gonna go out there.

Travis begins heading towards the exit. Tegan follows after him. Ella follows them. Max sighs and runs after them.

                                                CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL CAR PARK. MORNING          23 

The four youths exit the public swimming pool into the car park. They see Jessie’s car and head towards it.

                                                CUT TO:

INT. JESSIE’S CAR. MORNING                           24

Jessie sees her friends approaching. She digs a pocket knife from her shorts and looks at it for a few moments. It is clean, yet she wipes it again, as if to be sure. She stuffs the knife into the glove box and exits the car.

                                                CUT TO:

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL CAR PARK. MORNING          25

The youths and Jessie reach each other. Ella runs up to Jessie and hugs her tightly.

ELLA

Don’t ever do that again!

JESSIE

Calm down, Ella! I just went for a drive.

TEGAN

She has a right to be worried,

Jess. We were all pretty freaked.

MAX

Not me.

TEGAN

Stop talking, Max.

MAX

If I must.

Jessie grins at Max before her eyes land on Travis. He is staring at her.

JESSIE

Hey, Trav.

Travis walks over to Jessie and wraps his arms around her. She does the same but her hand lands on something underneath his baggy jumper. While the others are distracted, she lifts the edge carefully to reveal a couple of thin pool towels tied around his torso. 

JESSIE

(To Travis, softly)

Did I do that?

Travis hushes her and holds her head against his chest. She drops the edge of the jumper back down.

                                              FADE OUT:

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Becoming A Tree – Domenic Cuda

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                                               FADE IN:

TITLE:”Becoming a Tree”

  INT. CLASSROOM, COMMUNITY COLLEGE. NIGHT.      1

A group of 10-15 men sit in a classroom making shy, small talk with one another. Most of these men either have the appearance of an average Joe or a stereotypical dork. They all seem to be nervous or unsure about what they are expecting within the next hour. Two friends, Liam [24] and Sam [25] sit at the back quietly talking to one another.

LIAM

Hey. Um, thanks for coming with me to this.

SAM

Don’t worry ’bout it. I had nothing to do tonight anyways. So what
is this? Some kind of class.

LIAM

Even better, just watch.

While the small talk continues, another man wearing ostentatious clothing – Ed Hardy T-shirt,leather vest, tilted fedora – walks in with his chest stuck out; body language representing that he is the Alpha male of the room. The chit-chat stops as each of the men stare him. He takes out a pen and writes on the white board ‘BECOMING A TREE 2 BECOME A MAN — 4DANNY ‘NOVAX’ WILLIS’. He turns
to the class.

NOVAX

Pretty interesting, am I right?

Once again silence amongst the classroom of men, a few of them nodding their heads.

SAM

[Quietly]

Who the hell is that?

LIAM

[Quietly]

I think that’s the guy. The one that teaches this class.

SAM

[Quietly]

Why does he look like Criss Angel?

NOVAX

Glad to see that this many people came out here. Not the biggest class but it’s pretty impressive. First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Danny Willis or as most people like to call me, ’Novax’. Seeing as we’re all strangers at the moment you may call me that: Mr Novax or Professor Novax and nothing else. However, Like any good teacher-student relationship, as time progresses you may call me whatever you want. Now before I begin getting into what you guys came here for, let me ask you all one simple question. Why the fuck are you here?

The class member looks confused. Is this a test? Is it an Ice breaker? Is he baiting us?

NOVAX

Huh? Come on you guys, why are you here? Why did you guys leave
your houses or apartments on a Tuesday night to come to this shitty little classroom
and hear someone like me speak?

The class is still reluctant to speak, scared of Novax’s reaction. One shy young man puts up his hand. Novax snaps his fingers and points at him.

NOVAX

Yes, you!

YOUNG MAN #1

[Quietly]

Um. To get confident with women.

NOVAX

[Taunting]

What was that? It’s a big class sweetheart, you have to speak up.

YOUNG MAN #1

To get confident with women.

NOVAX

[Shouting]

Exactly! To get confident with women. Dames. Birds! You men are here because you feel that there is something missing in your life; something that seems so far out of your reach. But what you don’t know, is that it’s always been right in front of you, only none of you have the balls to go out and take it.

The classroom is taken back with Novax. He has attitude and aggression that puts each of them out of their comfort zone.

SAM

Dude this guy is pretty intense.

LIAM

I know righ? Dedication to the craft.

SAM

[Confused and annoyed]

The craft of wha-

NOVAX

[Speaking loudly]

Now, I am sure you have all seen this flyer, am I right?

Novax holds up a flyer which reads in big block letters ‘HAVING TROUBLE WITH WOMEN? WANT TO KNOW HOW TO SEDUCE THE LADY OF YOUR DREAMS? COME TO A FREE INTRODUCTORY CLASS AND LEARN HOW TO GO FROM DUD 2 STUD’, accompanied by an address and shots of various bikini models.

CLASSROOM

[In unison]

Yeah.

Novax slowly starts to walk around the classroom, asserting his dominance. Confidently looking in the eyes of each young man as he passes by.

NOVAX

And each one of you saw this as a sign that now – Right now, is the time to change your life. By looking around the room, I can tell that you guys need it now . . . [sniff] more than ever.

The classroom still sit in silence, including Liam. Sam has a look of insult on his face. While most people in class seem to find this interesting, they are unsure whether or not Novax is just pulling strings and messing around, or actually insulting them.

NOVAX [CONT’D]

What, you think I’m making fun of you? You think I’m gonna make fun of a bunch of people I’ve never met before? See what you don’t know is that I used to be just like you: Plain button up shirts, casual jeans, tennis shoes. Hell I could have been a fucking extra in Revenge of the Nerds.

Novax walks back to the front of the class, Sam puts his hand up.

SAM

Umm….excuse me? ‘You were one of us’? What does that even mea-

Novax turns to the man and interrupts him. He then turns to class and addresses them as if he is Martin Luther King Jr on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

NOVAX

Sure. You see us men. We were all born the same. Each of us started off as dirt with an opportunity to grow up and be something great. But some men, like most of you here today get buried under tonnes and tonnes of horse shit. Whether it be 8th grade girls refusing to hook up with you at the school dance, jocks & bullies making you feel insecure or people just generally not respecting you, your life is defined by being buried in horse shit. And we all know what happens to dirt under horse shit. It becomes grass.

YOUNG MAN #2

Umm doesn’t it need water to become gra-

NOVAX slams his hand on the table.

NOVAX

It becomes grass! You know who likes grass; who finds it
interesting? Fucking no one. And right now, guess what. You’re all grass. You’re all boring, you’re all uninteresting and you all have no use or purpose. Right now you’re either going to stay in the background growing longer or you’ll eventually die, and no woman with an ounce of confidence is going to be willing to fuck you. You’re grass. Just like I was.

NOVAX [CONT’D]

But you see the difference between you and me, is that I became aware of the fact that I was grass. So I went out and bought a shovel. I dug it up and ripped it all out, horse shit included. You know what happened next?

The classroom of young men now all lean in to hear Novax as he starts to speak very quietly, building up for dramatic effect and motivation. Liam and Sam both look at each other, trying to figure out what is going on; Sam mouthing the words “What The Fuck?”

NOVAX

I discovered a seed. And I planted it in the dirt. Over time I took care of that seed. I watered and nurtured it, watered and nurtured it, watered and nurtured it. After weeks and months, taking care of this seed over and over again, do you know what happened?

As the classroom waits in anticipation, Novax slaps his hands together, scaring his audience.

NOVAX

I became a fucking tree! When I walk into a room, people notice who the fuck I am! When I see a pretty little thing at the club with her friends, I don’t sip on my $3 beer and hope she comes over and talks to me. I seize the opportunity, look my fears in the eye and choke it to death!

As he is pantomiming choking someone, the classroom stays quiet, unsure how to feel. Should they be scared, or is this guy a joke?

NOVAX

Oh. You don’t believe me? Then do you believe in this?

Novax turns on a projector which shows his high school. It’s himself covered in acne, wearing braces and a shirt that says “Spock 4 President”. The classroom looks amused.

NOVAX

See that guy? That was me back when I didn’t care. I couldn’t care
about how I looked or how people perceived me. When people would point to me and call me nerd or geek or fag I would just hide in the background but after years of intensive training in the art of seduction – as well as the art of re-invention –  I went from that hunk of shit, or should I say hunk of grass, to this!

The projector now shows a screen shot of his Facebook page – Novax out at night clubs and pool party’s surrounded by women who, for lack of a better word, look like coke-whores.

NOVAX

Don’t worry fellas, most of them are legal.[Chuckles to himself].
See that’s why I’m here today. You boys should consider me your fucking saviour, because rather than just living my life as a master in the art of porn persuasion, I have decided to impart my knowledge onto you; to teach my ways, my methods in order to let you know that each of have the potential to re-plant the seed [pause] and become a tree. And for just a small payment of $220 a fortnight–

SAM

Um. I thought this was a free class.

Novax slowly turns back to the young man and politely snaps at him.

NOVAX

The introduction is free. This is just a sample. In order to
become true masters in the art of seduction, it’s going to cost a bit of pocket change, but you know what? For an opportunity to change your life, $220 a fortnight over 8 weeks [speaking quickly under his breath] cash payments only, no refunds [returns to normal slow speech] it’s practically a bargain.

Once again, the class looks slightly sceptical about Novax’s offer; $185 Seems a bit too much for wolf tickets.

NOVAX

O.K. how about this? You pay for a $65 trial lesson, tomorrow night, and then after that we can meet in my office and talk about future payments. Seriously, what do you have to lose? I mean you guys could leave here right now, go home make yourself some Easy Mac, play video games and cry yourselves to sleep.

All eyes are on Novax now; he has them in his clutches. While these young men may not like the person who they are seeing, they seem to be interested in the promise of changing their lives, but are reluctant to see what he has planned. It may or may not be a waste of money, but it’s an experience they will never forget. Novax reaches out his arms and has a smirk on his face. He has their trust now. All but one.

NOVAX

So gentlemen; shall we begin?

LIAM

It’s a bargain man.

SAM

We’ll talk about this.

 INT. BAR NEXT TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE. NIGHT.      2

 Liam and Sam are sitting at a bar, watching a game and drinking beers. Sam has a look of concern on  his face.

LIAM

So what do you think? The guy is great, right?

SAM

Umm no. This guy does not seem O.K.

LIAM

What are you talking about?

SAM

It’s bullshit man. The mantra, the shtick; it’s all crap. I mean, please tell me your smarter than that?

LIAM

Well, O.K. so maybe the guy is a little bit eccentric.

SAM

Little bit?I think it’s safe to say that the guy is a total hypomaniac and narcissist. I mean who the fuck does he think he is telling people they’re losers? He had a leather vest and wore a fedora indoors, like some kind of gay Indiana Jones nightmare.

LIAM

OK, fine he is very, very eccentric. But you know what? Maybe that’s the key to his success; his ability to show the world that he’s not afraid.

SAM

What? Dude, that doesn’t make any sense. First off, dressing like that doesn’t make you look confident. It makes you look like a tool. And secondly, who the hell has he had success with?

LIAM

You know, when he showed us before? His transformation photos.

SAM

You’re basing his success off of that? Off of photos of him with women who obviously have serious daddy issues?

LIAM

No, dude. It isn’t about the women. It’s about the ability to change your life. I mean, look at us. We’re in our mid 20’s and we have zero confidence when it comes to this sort of stuff.

Liam notices a couple of young ladies also enjoying casual drinks. He points them out to Sam.

LIAM

I mean look at those girls over there. Why are we sitting here like a couple of schlubs not interacting with them?

SAM

Because we’re over here.

LIAM

Yeah but why aren’t we over there trying to take advantage of an opportunity?

SAM

Who gives a shit? We didn’t come to this bar for the sole purpose of hooking up. We came to drink beer, watch the game and talk. You know, guy crap. I mean, if you want to go talk to them then go for it. There’s nothing stopping you.

LIAM

Yes there is. It’s the process that we haven’t been taught yet. The idea that in order to truly talk to those women, or any other women, we have to start replanting the seed and ‘becoming a tree’.

Sam stops drinking his beer. Now his attitude has gone from mild annoyance to disgust.

SAM

No. No, no, no. Tell me that you don’t believe in that new-age magical bullshit.

LIAM

Who said anything about magic? It’s not magic. Its motivation.

SAM

No dude. Just stop right there O.K.? I will not be a part of this rebuilding yourself, motivational crap. You don’t need some coke-head at a community college to teach you that.

LIAM

How do you know that was coke? It could have been a cold.

SAM

It’s March, Liam. Summer ended four days ago, and by the way, if this guy was such a success and so powerful, then why isn’t he teaching this in like a massive hall in front of hundreds of people instead of a shitty little community college?

LIAM

Who cares where it is?

Awkward silence across the bar. Liam and Sam look at each other.

SAM

You know what? Fine. Go ahead. Waste your money. Do whatever the fuck you want but just do me this one favour. Tonight when you get back home: go online, look up Tony Robbins, look up Ross Jeffries, look up everything you can on hard selling and cold reading. Educate yourself at least, before you decide to ‘become a tree’.

LIAM

Fine. I will and on top of that I’ll let you know how well my progress is going. While you continue to spend countless nights trying to jerk off to lesbian porn without crying, I’ll be enjoying this new life changing experience.

Sam finishes his beer, steps out from his chair and puts his jacket on. 

SAM

Fine.

Sam leaves Liam at the bar alone, as Liam orders himself another beer and looks over at the two women from before.

 EXT. OUTSIDE BAR, NIGHT      3

Sam starts walking outside to find public transport. As he walks down the street, he comes across a small building with a red light out the front of it and sees Novax coming out the door. Both catch each others attention. 

NOVAX  

Hey, even Tiger Woods needs to practice his swing. Am I right?  

Novax points and winks at Sam as if to say to him ‘please don’t tell anyone you saw me here’. Sam nods his head and walks off.

NOVAX  

[Yelling out to Sam] 

So I’ll see you in class tomorrow night bro.

SAM

[Quietly to himself] 

Unbelievable.  

 INT. CLASSROOM. COMMUNITY COLLEGE. AFTERNOON    4

Once again the classroom is full of young men awaiting Novax’s arrival. Each of them have notepads and laptops out, ready to take notes. Liam walks in late to class and tries to find a seat. He has a look of slight skepticism on his face. The men around him yesterday had no ambition, no gusto, no nothing. Now their eyes are filled with excitement at the possibility of realizing their potential as men. Although why now? Novax walks in; eyeballs bloodshot, hair messy and looking like crap.

NOVAX

So[coughing and sniffing], how is everyone doing today?

CLASSOOM

[In unison]

Great.

NOVAX

So let me ask you gentlemen something. Who here is ready to do some muthafucking landscaping? Am I right? Who here has a shovel? Who here has a bucket and pale? Who here has a book on horticulture, because now is the time we plant the tree!

Everyone in the classroom jumps up from their chairs and starts screaming. The classroom is now a   zoo. Liam reluctantly gets up and tries to join the fun. However he just isn’t feeling anything. He feels lost in a group of men who he doesn’t understand; being run by a man who’s identity is so far from reality that Liam is starting to question himself. The classroom lunacy stops as people start to sit down and Novax takes centre stage.

NOVAX

Finally. You know what? Congratulations gents. Every class I teach, I always wonder who actually wants to be a successful man and who just wants to appear to be a success. And I’m proud to say that tonight I have my answer. You see, tonight gentlemen, we start planting the seed and –

LIAM

Excuse me? Didn’t you say the first thing we need to do is remove grass or something?

NOVAX

No. Well yes but – um. The grass has already been lifted out just by you coming here tonight.

LIAM

– But we don’t know anything yet. Like, aren’t you supposed to offer us some motivational advice or something? I mean surely we can’t just all of a sudden learn this stuff now? Right?

NOVAX

Sorry what did you say your name was?

LIAM

Um, I’m Liam.

Novax starts to draw his attention to Liam instead of the classroom as a whole.

NOVAX

You see gentlemen, Liam here is trying to learn the soft way. The light-hearted, sensitive flower way. Liam is still holding onto the belief that in order to change yourself, you need to treat life as if it was a marathon. We’ll I’ve got news for you my friend. Life ain’t a marathon; It’s a sprint!

LIAM

I’m sorry that doesn’t make any sense.

NOVAX

It doesn’t make any sense to you now but it will. Anyway fella’s, this is actually a three step process that we will be working on over the next few wee-

LIAM

Um, sorry but if the process of completely re-inventing ourselves is just three steps then why can’t we just learn this stuff on our own?

NOVAX

O.K. Lachlan, buddy –

LIAM

It’s Liam actually.

NOVAX

Whatever, look, have you spent the last several years mastering the art of seduction and then developing it into a simple three step plan so you can help your fellow man? Well? Have you?

LIAM

No but – 

NOVAX

So how about this? You let the teacher [pointing at himself], do the teaching, O.K.? This shit’s not supposed to make sense now ’cause you’re the rookie and I’m the pro.

Novax returns his attention back to the class as Liam starts to straighten up his posture.

NOVAX

Now. Like I was saying, in order to achieve success you must learn and implement these three steps into your life. Step 1: Dress to impress. Step 2: the mantra money shot. Step 3: ain’t no time for pussies.

Novax pulls up his projector screen and opens up a powerpoint presentation; the first slide containing a picture of a peacock surrounded by animals in the wild.

NOVAX

Now let me introduce you gentlemen to step 1, and the beauty behind the concept of peacocking.

Novax then changes to the next slide which features the same photo of the peacock next to a photo of himself dressed in ostentatious clothing.

NOVAX

You see what I’m wearing people? What do you think it says about me?

YOUNG MAN #1

That you might be rich.

NOVAX

Incorrect. You see a fella’s, money is not the statement I’m trying to make by dressing the way I want. The statement I am trying to make is: ‘Hey, I don’t give a fuck what you think about what I’m wearing.’ See all of that up there? The shirt, the vest, the bling? This is known as the art of peacocking; designed to get attention in any busy, distraction filled environment. Just like a peacock.

YOUNG MAN #2

Um, how do we know that will work?

NOVAX

How do you know? Well [sniffing] let’s say you’re at a night club. You and your friend walk in. One of you is wearing a suit and tie, while the other is wearing a studded t-shirt, cowboy hat and glitter jeans. Who do you think women are going to notice more?

LIAM

Probably the second one, but that doesn’t mean its a go-

NOVAX

Exactly! The second one and you know why? Because he has the balls to stick out; because he doesn’t care what he looks like or how other people perceive him. He has the power to look social pressure in the face and say ’Fuck You!’ By doing that he becomes the alpha male of the room. You have to remember something fella’s. The modern day woman is a very hormonal creature. She is attracted to bright and colourful things, just like a peacock.

LIAM

Hmmm. Um, excuse me.

NOVAX

[Annoyed]

Yes Lucas, what is it?

LIAM

Once again, its Liam.

NOVAX

Liam, Lenny, Lester, it doesn’t matter. What. Is. Your. Question?

LIAM

Can’t anyone just buy these clothes? Like, it doesn’t really change anything.

NOVAX

Didn’t you just hear what I said? The clothes change people’s perception of you, thereby changing your attitude.

LIAM

Right but how? Like, it’s clothes. It’s material. People won’t understa-

Novax quickly snaps his attention back towards the classroom, while he is interrupting Liam.

NOVAX

Anyway, back to the task at hand!

Liam now looks more annoyed. The bullshit is starting to unravel but he still wants to see where this goes. Novax changes to the next slide which reads ’STEP 2: THE MANTRA MONEY SHOT’. It is accompanied with two photos: one of new age guru to the stars, Deepak Chopra shaking hands with Oprah Winfrey, and the other actor/rapper Jaden Smith looking of into the distance as if he just said something profound.

NOVAX

So, now that we have attracted the female species with our outward appearance, it is time to hit them with what’s on the inside. Now those two men, up there on the big-screen. Deepak Chopra and Jaden Smith. Two of the most prolific motherfuckers the 21st century has ever seen.

Novax changes the slide to reveal inspirational quotes from Chopra, and tweets from Jaden Smith. Each line reads along the lines of: ‘Understanding is the healing of purpose, and of us’, ‘School is the tool to brainwash the youth’, ‘Green, White & Blue make dreams come true’ and ‘Love can only   blossom with a return to innocence.’ Novax turns back to the classroom.

NOVAX

Women. Eat. This. Shit. Up. It’s literally amazing what you can say to a girl, in order for her to believe that you’re the mystical man she has been searching for all her  life. The best part is there is tones and tones of this crap being produced every day. I personally use the last before I go in for the first kiss. So in order for you to become one with this mantra. Find these guys online, print out a few quotes onto flash cards, revise them till your eyes bleed, and guess what? Oh My God, someone just became the ultimate source of enlightenment in the eyes of anything with a pussy. Now onto the third and final ste-

LIAM

Excuse me.

Classroom moans and groans, Novax once again acts annoyed.

NOVAX

O.K. I know we’ve been through this before…but I still don’t know your name, so just say what your gonna say and once again for the millionth fucking time, I’ll respond.

LIAM

This mantra stuff. It isn’t sincere at all. Your just repeating a bunch of words that don’t make any sense, they just sound impressive. Isn’t that misleading?

NOVAX

Well duh. I mean, what do you think? A woman is gonna fall head over heels for sincerity? How’s that been working out, huh?

Panning shot of the classroom, as some of the interest in the room starts to change. Novax changes   to the slide which says “AIN’T NO TIME FOR PUSSIES”.

NOVAX

Now, for the third and final step. In order to fully understand this concept, you need to understand how to use your manliness to control a woman’s view on sexuality. You see gentlemen; the world is constantly changing its social standards of what is considered acceptable. What may be looked at as fine one day, may be deemed as sexist the next.

Novax continues to walk around the room, as each class member looks at each other uncomfortably.

NOVAX

See I have no problem with all this equal pay, civil rights bullshit. That, I can get down with but it’s this idea that a woman should have control over who she dates and sleeps with; using her lady bits & this feminist ’my body is a temple’ ideology as a sexual strategy. So for us men, we need to change our sexual strategy to become more aggressive in the eyes of women and let them know who’s boss. Let us make the decision to determine who we sleep with and under what circumstances. The best way to do that is with these three rules: Put them in their place so they know their position, show her how the physical laws of gender work, and don’t take no for an answer.

Cut to a close up shot of Liam’s face as his jaw drops. There’s an awkward silence throughout the room.

NOVAX

That gentlemen completes the process of becoming a tree. Now for the next class I would like everyone to go –

Liam stands up out of his seat.

LIAM

Dude. Did you just promote rape?

NOVAX

What? No. That’s ridiculous.

LIAM

You totally told us to go out and rape.

NOVAX

Hey class, did I say anything about rape?

Once again the classroom sits in awkward silence.

LIAM

You said put them in place. Act physical and don’t take no for an answer. Am I crazy or does that sound like rape?

NOVAX

Well when you say it like that, of course it’s gonna sound like rape. But the point is to go out and take what’s yours, hence the strategy title ‘Ain’t no time for pussies’.

Liam starts walking towards the door. He doesn’t want any part of this.

LIAM

I don’t think this class is for me. I mean, I thought this would help me out, turn me into a better man: the clothes, the philosophies, the bullshit strategies. I just can’t become this. You have ruined any faith I had left in becoming an alpha-male. You guys can have this gimmicky shit. I’m out of here.

Liam walks out of the door. Novax yells out after him.

NOVAX

You know what? Fine. Go ahead, quit. Conform to your old ways, be a pussy, remain grass for all I care! The rest of us are gonna be fucking trees! Am I right guys?

Novax turns back to the classroom, each young man silent and judging him with their eyes.

NOVAX

Right?

                             SUPERIMPOSE: 3 MONTHS LATER

 EXT. ALLEY-WAY BEHIND NIGHT CLUB. NIGHT      5

Three big burly bouncers throw Novax [now skinnier, dressed more ostentatiously] head over heels near trash cans. Novax gets up and tries to defend himself.

NOVAX

You guys don’t get it, she said that alligator skin looked nice on me. So what if I accidentally followed her into the bathroom and showed her my johnson – she seemed into that! Don’t your morons know anything about women?

BOUNCER #1

Whatever you say sweetheart.

Bouncers move in to deal out justice. Novax cowers in fear.

NOVAX

No! Not my face. I can’t seduce without my face. That’s the only thing I’ve got going for me, man. Noooooooo!

We zoom out, and see a silhouette of Novax getting beaten in the foreground. In the street, Liam and a young lady are holding hands and walking side by side.

LIAM

So there is this 6 week horticulture course coming up. I’m thinking of taking it.

YOUNG LADY

Horticulture? That seems unusual for a guy. Why that?

LIAM

I kind of have this weird relationship with nature. I wouldn’t mind understanding the beauty of it again. You interested at all?

YOUNG LADY

Sure. Wign me up.

                                    SUPERIMPOSE: THE END

                                              FADE OUT:

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