Category Archives: Short script

Self-Extinction – Emerson Cassidy


FADE IN:

EXT. DESERT – ASTRONOMICAL DAWN                           1

An open, dry desert plain. Small, dry shrubs that cling to the ground make up the only life in sight. It is dawn and the sky is just beginning to lighten. Stars disappear from the horizon as the faint, glistening light of the sun slowly creeps into the sky. Apart from a soft whistle of wind as it races across the plains, not a sound can be heard. We see an abandoned gas station. Rusted old cars and fuel tanks decorate the scene.

BRIAN, mid-twenties, male, lean physic. He is dressed in a cloak with black goggles and gloves as he looks at the desert.

 

BRIAN (V.O.)

Immortality is a joke… When you’re alone in a ruined world.

 We see broken bottles, food cans, keys and a smashed iPhone. An old newspaper titled “Our end has come!” flicks open in the breeze.

BRIAN (V.O.)

Hunted by what remains.

 

CRUNCH. A boot appears, crushing the iPhone.

UNKNOWN POV

 

The surrounding landscape whips past as the unknown POV leaps over rocks and vaults over the gas pump outside the station. Heavy huffing can be heard. The unknown POV leaps several meters into the air. The surrounding landscape whips past.

 

SPFX: Brian turns to face the pursuer and sees a beast!

 

Standing on four feet. It is armoured, with crimson eyes that shine. A growl cuts through the silence and we see Brian sail through the air, towards a rocky canyon.

Brian lands hard on the floor of the rocky canyon.

Effortlessly, Brian stands, feet firmly planted at shoulders width apart. The beast lands in front of Brian and charges. Brian punches towards the oncoming beast.

FLASH. A brilliant blue light erupts from Brian, whiting everything out with light. The beast shrieks in pain and white noise blankets everything.

CUT TO:

EXT. DESERT – ROCK LABYRINTH – NAUTICAL DAWN              2

Brian stands in the middle of the rocky labyrinth. Open ground, with tall rocky walls either side surround unsettled dust. The sky can just be seen past the limestone walls. Brian is alone, bent over one knee and facing the labyrinth’s exit – a tall, blue-sky passageway squished between rocky walls. Growls come from the distance. Brian looks up, eyes still glowing.

 

SPFX/ SFX: Dozens of shadows appear above the canyon. Some have longer arms or stand on four legs. They lower their heads as much larger one steps into view and roars loudly.

They move towards Brian. Brian closes his eyes and reaches down into his pant pocket, pulling out a small vial. He grips it tightly in his left hand, spreads his arms and gazes into the sky. Light from the sun breaks through the dust cloud as the sun rises.

SPFX/ SFX: The shadows suddenly halt, and then retreat, squealing like pigs.

Brian keeps his eyes closed as his body goes limp and he falls sideways into the dirt. Quietly, he starts laughing… and sobbing. He pushes himself up from the ground, howling in despair. The rising sun can only just be seen past the shelves of rock that blocks this view.

Brian’s howl travels through the air.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. DESERT, CANYON – MORNING                             3

Moving out of the labyrinth, we see abandoned buildings, houses and broken brick roads. ANNA, an 18-year-old girl in tattered and raggedy clothes, wide-eyed turns towards the sound as the howl fades. Her skin is sunburnt.

Brian kneels in the dirt of the canyon. Sitting between curved rocked formations and smooth limestone walls, the sky can only just be seen past the shelves of rock that block this view.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. DESERT, CANYON – NOON                                4

Anna walks slowly towards the rocky labyrinth, gripping tightly onto a long piece of wood. She gazes at the dust cloud before heading straight into it. Passing through the labyrinth’s entrance, Anna tightens her grip on her wooden staff. She squints and constantly checks her surroundings.

A silhouette appears. Anna tightens her grip on her wooden staff and steps slowly forwards. As she gets closer, she raises her staff, ready to swing. The silhouette comes into plain view. It is nothing but and oddly shaped rock.

Anna lets out a sigh of relief. She lowers her staff, her shoulders relax. A soft CRUNCH sounds behind Anna. Anna spins around, bringing her staff up again.

Brian ducks.

Anna’s staff just misses crashing into his head. Anna stands in a combat stance, staff out in front, ready to fight.

Brian raises his hands and his eyebrows.

 

 BRIAN

Hey. OK, just wait. I’m not trying to hurt you.

 

Anna holds her ground, answering him with a glare.

Brian takes slow, steady steps towards her.

Still holding his hands out. Anna swings again. Brian steps back.

 

BRIAN

Hey! I said I’m not going to hurt you.

 ANNA

You’re not gonna take me. I’m not dying by someone like you or those monsters.

 

Anna rushes at Brian with a series of swings.

Brian easily dodges each swing. He leaps back, putting more distance between him and Anna.

Anna raises her staff above her head, and charges at Brian with a war cry.

Brian catches the staff with his right hand, unflinching from the impact, he rips the staff out of her hands.

Anna stumbles, but she quickly regains her footing. She holds her ground, keeping her eyes fixed in a cold glare towards him.

Brian watches her, glancing at her clenched fists.

BRIAN

(sternly)

Now listen.

(slowly)

My name is Brian. I’m not trying to hurt you.

ANNA

Oh really.

(raising her tone of voice)

Then care to explain what that light was? There is no one else around here, and I can’t see what’s underneath that cloak.

 

Anna straightens her posture and takes a small step towards Brian.

 

ANNA

Are you another kind of monster?

 

Brian lowers his head. He clenches his left hand into a fist. He looks up and tosses the staff at Anna’s feet. He turns and walks away.

 

ANNA

ANSWER ME!

 

SPFX: Brian stops. He takes a deep breath. His eyes shine briefly.

 

Anna notices the shine, and slowly reaches down to pick up her staff.

Brian turns around.

Anna freezes.

Brian starts removing sections of his outfit; gloves, goggles and reveals his face and arms. SPFX: Blue marks cover every visible part of his body – like vines that have grown onto his body – and they are glowing.

 

BRIAN

I’m not like them.

 

Anna has a look of astonishment and confusion clear on her face.

 

BRIAN

But we were born in the same fashion.

CUT TO:

EXT. CANYON – LATE AFTERNOON                                  5

Anna and Brian sit opposite each other in the empty bottom of the canyon. The day’s light has begun to fade. A small fire rages between the two. Anna watches Brian with caution. She clenches her staff tightly in both hands. Brian drinks from a military water bottle. Brian offers the bottle to Anna. Anna glances at the bottle for a second, before her eyes dart back to Brian.

 

BRIAN

Like I said

(speaking slowly)

I’m not trying to hurt you.

 

Brian shakes the bottle. The water sloshes inside.

Anna snatches it from his hands.

She gulps down what liquid remains.

Her eyes never leave Brian. She throws the bottle back to him.

Brian catches the bottle and sets it down on the ground.

 

ANNA

You said you’re similar to them.

Anna leans closer to Brian

 

ANNA

What does that mean?

 

Brian takes a deep breath, and sits up straighter.

 

BRIAN

We were both created as a long time ago. In an effort to create immortality… By your kind.

 

Anna looks at Brian, confused.

Brian holds out his right hand. He nods at the glowing blue marks.

 

ANNA

Alright. By why are you different?

 

BRIAN

I was a success… mostly.

 

SPFX: Brian removes his cloak completely. The markings are thicker and more prominent the closer they are to his torso. This is because his torso is covered with black marks that form a vest of scars, covering his chest.

 

BRIAN

Most of humanity was experimented on. I don’t even know if there are others like me.

 

Anna moves in. She gently touches his chest.

Brian breathes in through his nose as though it hurts where her fingers touch. Brian pulls away.

 

Anna looks sad.

 

ANNA

They were people. Those creatures?

 

BRIAN

They were my friends. Now they’re beasts.

(His voice turns guttural)

When I fight them, all I can hear, see and feel is their agony.

 

Brian buries his head into his hands.

 

BRIAN

(softly, out of earshot)

It’s always there, always clawing into my head. It never stops. It doesn’t get quiet. It won’t ever stop.

 

Anna steps, slowly, towards Brian.

Brian suddenly jumps up. He quickly pulls his cloak back on. Brian turns and walks away from Anna.

Anna raises her hand to his shoulder. Brian shrugs off her hand.

 

ANNA

Anna.

BRIAN

What?

ANNA

That’s my name.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. CANYON – LATE AFTERNOON                                  6

 

Brian and Anna walk through the canyon. The brown stone lightly streaked with shades of red and burnt orange. As the afternoon sun becomes darker, the light shifts to purple.

Anna keeps pace behind Brian.

 

BRIAN

So… Do I get to hear your story?

 

ANNA

I was in hiding. Until your little light show caught my attention.

 

Brian slows his pace.

 

BRIAN

And before that?

 

ANNA

Not much to tell. I’ve been alone out here for a long as I can remember.

 

Brian turns to look at Anna, continuing to walk.

 

BRIAN

No parents?

 

ANNA

I’ve learned to take care of myself.

Anna swings her staff over her shoulder. While a small grin appears on her face.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. CANYON/ABANDONED GAS STATION – LATE AFTERNOON        7

 

Brian enters through the abandoned gas station doors and begins rooting around the shelves. He tosses aside magazines, boxes, and checks an empty cigarette carton before also tossing that to the floor too. Anna moves behind the desk and finds a hooded jacket. She puts it on.

 

ANNA

Where are you going? There’s not much around here.

 

Brian continues rummaging through the junk. He does not answer Anna.

ANNA

Hey! what are you looking for?

Where are you planning on going?!

 

BRIAN

To the mountains. It’s got to be better than this place.

 

Brian grasps at the pocket that holds his vial and sighs.

Anna looks at him. She opens her mouth to speak; her lips quiver as she hesitates.

 

ANNA

How do you know?

BRIAN

(spits)

I don’t! But anything is better than this.

 

Anna frowns.

 

Brian stands up, holding onto a road flare. He turns to walk back out the door. Anna eyes him suspiciously. He moves his arm to cover the markings on his right wrist. Brian stops just outside the gas station entry. Anna, still inside, watches Brian leave.

 

BRIAN

(loudly)

Let me show you something.

 

Anna doesn’t answer, but follows Brian outside.

Brian moves over to a small patch of earth and kneels down. He puts his hands together.

 

BRIAN

These powers had an original purpose, Instead of killing those beasts.

 

Anna watches him closely.

 

SPFX/CGI: Brian closes his eyes and holds his palms together. A small orb of light appears. His blue-vein markings glow. Brian lowers his palms to the ground. As soon as the light touches the ground, it dissipates. Light travels through the ground like a pulse. Anna’s eyes follow the points at which the light vanished. Small blades of grass begin to grow from the ground. Anna looks at her feet, eyes wide and mouth open. She glances up at the gas station roof. Rusted edges of the gas station now have vines growing up the edges.

 

ANNA

Impossible!

 

SPFX: Brian moves out of Anna’s eyesight. He looks at his fingertips, which are now turning a sickly black colour. His hands have begun to age. They are wrinkled, grey-skinned and frail. Brian clenches his fists. His markings flash and his hands look normal again.

Anna watches Brian from the corners of her eye. She turns her head away as he stands.

 

 

EXT. CANYON – DUSK                                        8

 

Brian and Anna walk through the canyon. The canyon walls are darker now.

 

SFX: The sounds of their footsteps can be clearly heard.

 

Brian kicks a small rock. The sounds echoes.

Anna walks closer to Brian then before. She glances behind them warily.

ANNA

So what are you? Some kind of god.

 

BRIAN

Pfft…

I’m no god.

(Looking at Anna)

I don’t know. Interpret it however you want.

 

ANNA

You’ve killed those beasts?

 

BRIAN

It affects them differently.

 

ANNA

What about your chest? What happened there?

 

BRIAN

Not entirely sure…

 

Brian stops and looks at her, his brow furrowed with irritation.

Anna raises her eyebrows.

Brian turns. He is not going to continue. He walks on in silence.

Anna looks at the back of Brian’s head, eyes narrowed…

 

SPFX: Brian stops and doubles over, retching. His eye glow, darker than before. His body tenses up. He moans quietly. His eyes stop glowing as he stands up straight. Anna looks at him with unease, gripping her staff tightly. She jumps, eyes leaving Brian as growls can be heard in the distance.

Brian and Anna both look into the sky, then at each other, expressions worried/fearful.

 

BRIAN

We have to find cover. Fast.

 

ANNA

Where? We’ve wandered too far out to head back

 

BRIAN

Come here. Trust Me.

 

SFX: Anna opens her mouth to protest but is interrupted by a loud snarl from the b.g.

 

BRIAN

COME ON!

 

Anna immediately steps to Brian’s side. He grabs her arm and without warning, throws her over his shoulders.

ANNA

Hey! What are you going to-

 

-Brian takes off, running with the speed of a car.

 

 

EXT. CANYON – NIGHTFALL                                       9

Brian bolts through the canyon with inhuman speed. Anna holds tightly onto his back. The night leaves the canyon a dark, midnight blue.

 

SFX/CGI: Shadows are everywhere. CRASH. Rocks break apart either side of Brian and Anna. Loud growls travel through the canyon. Anna lifts her head to look behind them.

 

CGI: Shadowy beasts erupt from the darkness behind them.

They burst up through the earth and smash through the rock wall. There are dozens of them. They bite and snarl at each other in an attempt to get ahead. More growling shadows can be heard from above Anna and Brian.

Brian jumps onto a rock, still holding Anna.

 

SFX: The rock breaks apart as he launches off, into air.

Brian and Anna fly through the air, past beasts that leap at them. One of the beastly shadows tears into Anna’s back.

Anna screams in agony despite keeping her grip on Brian.

Brian lands on the top of the canyons edge, out of reach of the beasts.

 

SFX: Shadows amass below.

 

Anna’s moans of pain drown out their sounds.

 

BRIAN

Damn it.

 

Brian lays Anna facedown onto the ground to check her wounds.

 

ANNA

I’m fine.

 

She tries to push herself up from the ground, but the pain proves too much. Her arms give way to her body weight and she falls down.

 

BRIAN

You’re hurt.

 

A loud roar is heard.

Brian moves over to the ledge.

 

SPFX: The alpha beast is moving past the now-placid crowd.

It looks up at Brian and shows it’s horrid and mangled teeth in a sadistic grin.

Brian swallows loudly.

 

SPFX: The beasts’ start to claw and scale up the rocky wall.

Brian picks up the now unconscious Anna like a princess, her head resting on his chest. He shakes his head at her condition and starts running across the top of the canyon, towards the ruins of a once sprawling city. His confident footsteps pound the ground.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. DESERT/CITY – NIGHT                                  10

 

Brian passes by a wrecked plane, a convenience store and piles of abandoned, rusted cars. He enters the city, following a path of cracked pavement that separates crumbled buildings. Brian stops in the middle of an overpass.

Brian looks quickly left and right. He gently places Anna on the ground. Brian grabs the vial from his pocket. It has a silvery liquid inside.

 

SPFX: A faint mist escapes from the vial as the cork is popped. Brian directs a silvery drop into one of Anna’s wounds. He quickly places his right hand on her back.

Brian’s blue markings glow. Anna starts to convulse and groan. She almost yells out, but Brian puts his hands over her mouth. His hands have aged again. His face now shows similar degrading features, becoming skeletal. Anna’s wounds heal. Her entire body regenerates itself; her sunburnt skin returns to its original, pale complexion, her red hair increases in saturation and her body becomes shapelier, curvier.

 

SFX: Roars echo from the distance.

Brian removes his hand from Anna’s mouth and he picks her up once again and starts running. Brian heads towards the closest building. He kicks the cracked glass of a window.

 

SFX: SMASH.

 

Brian ducks under the fallen, wooden pylons and steps carefully around piles of rubble.

 

SFX: Growls and snarls can be heard from outside. Brian continues to move through the building. CRACK. Brian stops in his tracks. He looks down. The floorboards creak loudly underneath his weight. A CRASH is heard from outside.

The shadowy beasts ram the outside of the weakened building with their combined weight. Some try to claw through the walls.

Anna wakes up. She yells incoherently at Brian, and starts to fight free from his grasp.

 

BRIAN

Don’t move. The floor–

 

SFX: CRUNCH. The floor breaks apart from underneath them and both are sent tumbling down into the darkness.

 

 

CUT TO:

INT. BASEMENT BUNKER – NIGHT                                  11

SPFX: Suddenly, a flash of red erupts from the darkness, illuminating the screen.

Brian struggles to his feet, holding the flare from earlier. Anna moves into the light.

 

ANNA

What happened to you?

 

BRIAN

(menacingly)

I saved your damn life. Now the voices are louder than ever…and they’re COMING!

 

Brian scurries about the room. Anna looks confused.

 

ANNA

WHAT HAPPENED!

 

Brian turns to her.

 

BRIAN

I gave you the gift. Now you’ll hear the voices. Only you won’t live until they consume your mind.

 

ANNA

What?

 

BRIAN

I’m going to kill them… and us.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. CITY/BUILDING                                        12

SPFX: Their building is being attacked. Dirt and debris fall from the rafters at the impact made by the beasts.

 

CGI: The beasts leave scratch marks against the stone, as they try to dig into the building. The large shadow leaps onto the building and digs its claws into the stone.

 

SMASH. It breaks through a window and starts pulling out various objects; rubble, desks and a table. It then moves inside, pulling itself over piles of rubble. It smashes the floor with both arms. The floor caves in. The shadowy beast proceeds to start smashing its way through the next floor, moving closer to Brian and Anna.

 

CUT TO:

INT. BASEMENT BUNKER – NIGHT                                  13

An old lantern, somehow still alight, illuminates the darkness of the bunker in which Brian and Anna now hide

 

SFX: Sounds are heard above a set of stairs, behind a door.

 

SPFX: The door bursts open, flinging Anna into the room. A faint red light illuminates from the direction she was tossed from. Brian walks in, his body is glowing a ruby red instead of bright blue.

Anna rises to her feet.

ANNA

(fearful)

You’re mad!

BRIAN

(yelling)

You don’t know what it’s like.

I’ve had to suffer this power for nearly two centuries. TWO CENTURIES of constant pain, endless voices, and having my sanity slip… day… by… day.

 

Brian falls to his knees. He pulls out the vial and stares at it crazily.

 

ANNA

Then why did you save me?

 

BRIAN

No one wants to die alone…

Anna rises to her feet, backing away from the crazed Brian.

 

SPFX: Anna’s hands glows, but she talks no notice.

Brian eyes her hands, a small grin spreading across his face.

 

ANNA

(desperately)

I’ve been alone for my whole life. I’m used to it!

 

BRIAN

Perhaps… But now we will stay and ignite these ruins with the powers I was punished with.

 

SPFX: Brian looks at the vial again. His markings glow faintly. He turns around and stretches his arms out – and grunts loudly. Brian looks down and sees a STEEL BEAM plunged through his chest. Anna twists the beam.

 

Brian falls to his knees, but doesn’t seem in pain.

Anna snatches the vial from his hand.

 

SFX: A roar shakes the darkness of the room.

 

SPFX: The red light still illuminating the doorway shows the shadow of the Alpha.

 

Anna looks at Brian with pity. Before she turns on her heel and escapes through the bunkers open air vent and into the darkness. Brian gazes after her.

 

BRIAN

One day you’ll see things my way.

Especially now that you possess it.

 

SPFX: The alpha approaches Brian. Its teeth gleam in the low light. The alpha’s crimson red eyes look into Brian’s.

Brian lets out a small smile before his eyes flash, and he screams at the top of his lungs.

 

CUT TO:

INT. BASEMENT BUNKER/BEAST TUNNELS – NIGHT               14

Anna runs blindly through a dark hallway. She trips over a wooden beam and falls into a hole, tumbling forward into a tunnel dug by the beasts. The tunnel is rough and the floor uneven. Bits of broken pipes and debris can just be seen poking out the tunnel walls. Anna rises, and keeps running.

 

SFX: Anna flinches at the sound of Brian’s inhuman scream.

 

SPFX: The light from an explosion appears behind her. Anna is swept up in the blast. Anna crosses her arm to shield herself from the explosion. A blue light glows. She moves her arms down. They are covered in glowing, blue markings. The yellow/white light from the blast fills the screen.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. DESERT – ASTRONOMICAL DAWN                           15

A pale white mist covers the ruins of the collapsed city.

 

SFX: A soft thump is heard from a pile of rubble.

 

SPFX: Anna bursts up from underneath the rubble. Her body is covered with the same markings that Brian had possessed.

She squints her eyes as they adjust to the light of day.

Anna stares at her arms with horror, before looking up and appraising her new surroundings. She turns, looking all around her, realizing that she is alone.

 

CGI: Anna looks down to the ground, where small green shoots are emerging from the rubble. Anna’s head slowly lifts up. The same growth is now reaching over the entirety of the destroyed city.

FADE TO BLACK

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Us In January – Steven O’Mara

FADE IN:

EXT. – CARPARK – DAY                                      1

 

Summer sun beats down on the bitumen. ALANA (26) and KATE (22) lean against the hood of a beat up old Corolla. Alana is taking drags from a cigarette.

They stare down the concrete monolith in front of them. An imposing building which says ‘Stillgrove Medical Centre’ on the glass sliding doors.

Alana scans the building, looking through the windows. Nurses rush around on some floors, some floors have rooms that appear more like offices. Alana makes eye contact with a man who has a shaved head and is wearing a hospital gown.

Guiltily she passes the cigarette to Kate, who takes a drag.

ALANA

Jesus.

 

KATE

Yeah, we should quit.

(beat)

 

Kate stamps out the cigarette butt on the ground.

 

KATE (CONT’D)

Look, I didn’t make you go in when Mum…

 

ALANA

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna do a runner. I just won’t get anything out of it.

 

KATE

You don’t know that.

 

Alana looks back up at the window. The man has gone.

 

 

INT. WAITING ROOM – DAY                                   2

 

 

Alana and Kate sit side by side in a packed waiting room.

Alana tries passing the time by leafing through well-worn magazines. Kate is peering around at the other patients in the room. They are a total cross-section across age, race, gender. Kate subtly points to a woman on the other side of the room.

 

KATE

(Whispering to Alana)

What do you think she’s in for?

 

ALANA

Kate, you’re actually despicable.

 

KATE

(Mock outrage)

How dare you? (Beat) I’m just trying to cheer you up.

 

SECRETARY (O.C.)

Alana Webster?

 

Alana gets up to leave. Kate pulls her back for a hug, and whispers in Alana’s ear.

 

KATE

I’ll text you pics of any gross rashes I see.

 

 

INT. THERAPIST’S OFFICE – DAY                                 3

 

A clock ticks, jarring the otherwise overwhelming silence.

Alana is slouched uncomfortably in a gaudy, pastel coloured chair. Across from her is DR. CAMPBELL (not much older than

Alana), reading paperwork for an exceedingly long time. No changes in expression, just the occasional tongue-click and head shake.

After an extended beat Dr. Campbell looks up at Alana and places down the papers, letting out a sigh.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

So you’ve indicated you don’t wish to pursue talk therapy outside of the consultation last week?

 

ALANA

I don’t trust people who profit off of other people’s suffering.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

If you think that, why continue seeking treatment at all, if you don’t mind me asking?

 

A text flashes up on Alana’s phone, a picture of an oozing rash with Kate posing next to it with a thumbs up.

 

ALANA

Uh, family.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

I see. Well with the symptoms we’ve identified, we can definitely start you on a regime to get your life under more control.

 

ALANA

So what do I have?

 

Dr Campbell hesitates – he’s young and still adjusting to blunt patients.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

The best we can do is identify collections of symptoms, even if the label doesn’t necessarily cover it all.

 

Alana sits patiently with her arms crossed. She won’t proceed unless he gives her a concrete, digestible label.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (CONT’D)

You’ve been diagnosed as Bipolar. Now with this regime there may be some side effects, but it’s really the best chance…

 

Dr. Campbell’s words begin to fade into muffled unintelligibility. Alana’s face gets closer and closer, to the point of claustrophobia.

Her eyes sink, her face drops expression. The colour in the world slowly desaturates. The physical dimensions of the screen start retracting and closing in to a pinpoint.

 

 

INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT                                      4

 

Alana and Kate are sprawled on a couch together, pizza boxes and an open bottle of wine in front of them. They’re watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

 

ALANA

I’m liking this sympathy.

 

KATE

Don’t get too used to it. It’s still your turn for bin night tomorrow.

 

They sit for an extended beat, the lights of the television projecting onto their face.

 

KATE (CONT’D)

It’s a good step though. Thanks for going.

 

Alana smiles back at Kate, without taking her eyes from the screen. The movie is at the point where Cameron’s father’s car goes crashing through the window.

 

ALANA

I love this scene.

 

 

INT. PHARMACIST – DAY                                     5

 

Alana is standing at a counter opposite a familiar looking

PHARMACIST (note: the same actor as Dr. Campbell), and once again the world is severely muted in colour. In front of them is a small line of a few pill bottles. Each has the name

‘ALANA WEBSTER’ emblazoned on the label, above some medical mumbo jumbo.

 

PHARMACIST

…once every three days but only between meals. Got that?

 

Alana snaps out of a haze. Normal colour returns.

 

ALANA

I think so.

 

Alana takes the pill bottles and attempts to stuff them into her handbag. They don’t fit. She begins unpacking the contents of the bag onto the counter – phone, purse, makeup mirror. But the items don’t stop coming, like the bag of Mary Poppins. More and more peculiar objects begin to emerge – a teddy bear, a knife, a mesh bag of marbles, an encyclopedia, loose cut grass. A small mountain of objects amass, but the pill bottles still don’t fit. Alana’s heart is audibly pounding as she tries to stuff them in the bag, her breaths getting shorter and more urgent.

 

PHARMACIST

Alana?

 

Alana’s head snaps up, remembering where she is. She looks down, at the pill bottles still in her hand and her handbag fastened shut. The mountain of objects is nowhere in sight.

She makes awkward eye contact with the pharmacist.

 

ALANA

Do I know you from somewhere?

 

PHARMACIST

…no? I only started here a month ago. Anyway, you should be sorted with these, contact your therapist or GP if anything arises.

 

Alana puts the pill bottles in her handbag, with the greatest of care.

 

ALANA

Thanks.

 

INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT                                      6

 

Kate is washing up the dishes, while Alana has lined up the pill bottles on the kitchen counter. One is in her hand, as she inspects the label.

 

ALANA

(reading)

Only take after meals. Got it.

 

Alana shakes out two triangle blue pills and chugs them down with water. Kate watches over her shoulder. She tries to ease the tension.

 

KATE

You fucking druggie.

 

Alana chokes down two oblong orange pills. She smiles at

Kate, who’s trying her best to look supportive.

 

ALANA

Go back to washing up, you might find a black pot and a kettle in there.

 

Kate laughs this off and flicks some soap foam at Alana.

 

 

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT – LATER                              7

 

Alana is asleep in the dead of the night. She is tossing and turning. She is covered in sweat – not Hollywood ‘glowing’ sweat. More of an aggressive, ugly sweat. Like an addict coming down off a binge.

 

A metallic, high-pitched whine begins to fade in.

 

Alana’s stomach gurgles, her eyes shoot open. Disoriented at first, she looks around at the room in the dark. Glancing down she sees the sweat that has formed on and around her.

Another gurgle.

 

The metallic screeching starts to crescendo.

 

Alana jumps up out of bed, with urgency and purpose. She takes two or three frenzied steps before clutching her back and crying out in agony.

 

Louder.

 

Alana bursts into the ensuite bathroom. She grips the sink, knuckles white. She looks up herself in the mirror. Bright red yet shaking as if she’s in the Antarctic.

 

For a sudden, brief flash, an alternate vision of Alana appears in the mirror. Pale white, blood flowing freely from both wrists, purple bruising around her neck. The figure stares back at Alana, expressionless.

 

This brief flash sends Alana into panic mode, clutching her own hands to make sure they’re really how she sees them, hyperventilating. A gurgle.

 

Unbearably loud. A climax.

 

Alana rushes over to the toilet, gets on her knees and flips the lid with reckless abandon. A short, sharp breath in. The screeching is replaced with the guttural sound of Alana emptying her stomach into the toilet. She flips her head up.

Uncomfortably close, Alana’s face fills the frame. Streams of tears have run past her bloodshot eyes. The sweat is tenfold, and evidence of the vomit has already started to crust around her mouth. Staying focused, we pull back to reveal:

 

(MATCH CUT TO:)

INT. THERAPIST’S OFFICE – DAY                                 8

 

Frozen, Dr. Campbell’s office materialises behind Alana – still in her nightwear and in the vulnerable state from moments ago.

Dr. Campbell is writing some notes in his typically drawn-out manner.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

So you say you experienced some nausea in the past week. Any other symptoms?

 

Back to Alana, who is cleaned up. A sundress, flats, subtle eye make-up, and definitely no vomit.

Not a trace of the night before.

 

ALANA

Um, I sweat a lot now, which is new. My anxiety attacks are still a thing. But they feel much worse.

 

Dr Campbell raises an eyebrow. He writes even more arduously slow notes. The clock ticks.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

Well with these symptoms, I can offer you an adjustment. Then we’ll see how you respond to it and keep trying and refining.

 

ALANA

This isn’t very precise, is it?

 

This strikes a nerve with Dr Campbell. Flustered, he answers.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

We don’t know exactly what causes deep, recurring disorders. The brain is mysterious, Alana. But our tools are strong. We can get you to a good place. We just have to find the path.

 

Alana shifts uncomfortably in her seat. She begins scratching at her arm. We stay focused on this.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (O.C.) (CONT’D)

Let’s figure this out, try the adjustment.

 

Alana stops in her tracks and the screen rushes towards her face, like we’re travelling through her eyes to…

 

 

Cut to:

INT. VARIOUS LOCATIONS – DAY                              9

 

MONTAGE: Alana goes about her day to day routine, with differing adjustments to her medication affecting her world.

An experimental, jazzy underscore.

Alana is lying in bed. She is acutely conscious.

 

SUPER: Adjustment 1.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

I’m having trouble sleeping now.

 

Alana’s eyes slowly start to close. The moment they shut, the alarm clock next to her buzzes. She punches it.

 

CUT TO:

Alana is in the kitchen making herself lunch. She attempts to open a jar of mayonnaise. She can’t open it.

Jump forward in time to her using a towel to grip the jar.

Not useful.

 

Further forward. The jar is jammed between her legs as she uses both arms to try open the lid. The jar slips out from between her legs and smashes on the floor. She stares at it.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

My muscles seem weaker too. Alana walks out of the kitchen.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (V.O.)

Okay, we have your second adjustment configured.

 

CUT TO:

Alana is lying in bed again. This time she’s alone, fast asleep with the alarm clock buzzing incessantly next to her.

 

SUPER: Adjustment 2.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

Now I’m too tired.

CUT TO:

 

Alana is having her morning shower when her stomach gurgles.

A panicked look in her eye. She quickly runs out of the shower and embraces the toilet bowl like earlier.

CUT TO:

 

Alana is grocery shopping, staring down the fresh produce section. Her shopping trolley is empty.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

My nausea is getting much worse. My appetite is completely gone.

 

Alana walks out of frame to keep shopping.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

Yet I’ve gained weight, which is total bullshit.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (V.O.)

Third adjustment…

 

CUT TO:

SUPER: Third Adjustment.

 

Alana is sitting watching television at night with Kate. She scratches her arm again. She pulls up her sleeve to reveal a deep red rash that’s blistering. Kate looks on concerned from the background.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

…skin problems…

 

DR. CAMPBELL

Fourth adjustment.

 

The underscore starts picking up speed at a frantic pace.

Cuts become more frequent. All the voices blend into each other to form an unholy choir. Again, the world is literally losing colour throughout. As Dr. Campbell lists off the adjustments, the words appear and fly off the screen.

 

Dr. Campbell’s voice becomes more uncertain with every adjustment, to the endpoint of a question-asking, permission-seeking tone.

 

CUT TO:

Alana roars down a highway in her Corolla, cigarette in mouth. Moments later, the car is stationary on the side of the road, Alana is crying and having a meltdown in the driver’s seat.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

Mood swings.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (V.O.)

Fifth adjustment. Sixth adjustment.

CUT TO:

Alana is brushing her teeth when the same alternate version of her from earlier appears again in the mirror. She shrieks.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

Visions. Suicidal thoughts.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (V.O.)

Seventh adjustment. Eighth adjustment. Ninth…

 

Alana’s world is now crashing together. Past symptoms. Dr. Campbell’s voice is counting upwards and repeating over itself. Rapid fire cuts. The music indecipherable, distorted and unbearably loud.

 

QUICK CUTS:

Alana’s rash.

 

The broken jar.

 

Excessive sleep.

 

Vomiting naked with the shower still running.

 

The mirror vision.

 

 

Crying in the car.

 

SMASH CUT TO:

END MONTAGE

 

INT. KITCHEN – DAY                                        10

 

The world has only the slightest hint of colour, and the noise from milliseconds ago is replaced by the most still of silences.

Alana stares down the lineup of pill bottles on the kitchen counter.

 

A long beat.

 

She picks up one bottle and unscrews the lid. Two square orange pills fall into her palm. She inspects the label, which fills the screen.

“ALANA WEBSTER. TAKE ONCE DAILY BETWEEN MEALS. ACTIVE

INGREDIENTS…”

 

Alana looks down at the pills in her hand. She crosses the room and defiantly throws them down the kitchen sink, followed by the whole bottle.

She grabs the other bottles and empties their contents too.

She takes the empty bottles and heads upstairs.

The world returns to colour.

 

 

INT./EXT. THE WEBSTER HOUSE – VARIOUS LOCATIONS – NIGHT   11

 

Kate pulls her car into the driveway. She enters the house with a bouquet of petrol station flowers.

 

KATE

Alana? I’ve got something for you!

 

Kate walks into the kitchen, pulls out a vase and fills it with water.

 

KATE (CONT’D)

(quietly muttering to herself)

Now, where are the scissors?

 

Kate turns around and one of the drawers is already flung open. She makes a quick face, but grabs the scissors and continues on her way.

 

KATE (CONT’D)

Alana?

She sets the flowers down, and takes a beat to admire them with pride. Realising there’s no answer, she walks around to find Alana.

The messy living room. No Alana.

The sterile laundry. No Alana.

She makes her way upstairs and into the bedroom. No Alana.

She knocks on the ensuite door, then opens it.

Alana curled up in the corner of the dry bathtub, an empty pack of cigarettes and two empty wine bottles in front of her.

Kate coughs through the remaining smoke in the room. She looks over at the garbage bin on the other side of the room.

She notices the empty pill bottles and panics.

 

KATE (CONT’D)

Fuck, Alana. Have you taken al-

 

ALANA

No, I just got rid of them.

 

Kate gingerly walks over to Alana and gets in the tub with her. They sit quietly for a beat.

 

KATE

Why did you throw them?

 

ALANA

I always either felt worse than before or numb. Which they call ‘stable’. It’s no way to live.

 

Kate holds Alana’s hand, as Alana puts her head on Kate’s shoulder.

 

FADE TO:

INT. THERAPIST’S OFFICE – DAY                                 12

 

Both Alana and Kate are in the office this time. Outnumbered,

Dr Campbell is visibly intimidated.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

This is highly unorthodox.

 

ALANA

I can’t do this again without her here.

 

Kate smiles over at Alana.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

I’m not just talking about her. You want to go completely off the regime? You were making solid progress Alana.

 

Both Kate and Alana pull the crossed arm routine from earlier

- it runs in the family.

 

Dr. Campbell sighs.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (CONT’D)

Alternatives are few, especially considering you won’t pursue talk therapy. And you began developing symptoms of a treatment-resistant disorder.

 

KATE

So what do we do?

 

Dr. Campbell shifts uncomfortably. He hesitates his words.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

Electroconvulsive therapy is the standard in cases like these.

 

Alana and Kate share an extremely worried look. They clasp hands, both with white knuckles.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (CONT’D)

It sounds scarier than it is. It’s effective for more than 50% of patients with your particular disorder.

 

ALANA

…and the other half?

 

Dr Campbell considers engaging, but pulls back. He is extremely measured with his response.

 

DR. CAMPBELL

Either you receive the treatment, with its risks and benefits taken into account…

 

Kate looks over to Alana.

 

DR. CAMPBELL (CONT’D)

…or you can suffer your symptoms for a few more years until they snowball.

 

INT. HOSPITAL – NIGHT – DAYS LATER                            13

 

Kate is at Alana’s bedside. She’s reading over a pile of medical paperwork.

Through her eyes, we see some of the pages:

By signing off I recognise the inherent risk in the procedure, including and not limited to the known side effects of: Memory loss, jaw pain, weakening of heart tissue, inability to process information...”

 

Kate puts the clipboard down.

 

KATE

What. The. Fuck.

 

Now the roles are reversed, Kate is anxious about what’s going to happen and Alana tries to lighten the mood.

 

ALANA

Hey, when I get out of here we should download One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

 

KATE

Not funny.

(beat)

A little funny.

 

Alana motions for Kate to come over to her. They hug and Kate lies on the empty space on the bed next to her. A still, silent, perfect moment. The Kate pulls out her phone.

 

KATE (CONT’D)

This is going on my Snapchat story.

 

 

INT. SURGICAL WAITING ROOM – LATER                            14

Alana is conscious, but a bit out of it. A SURGEON is nearby, trying to be reassuring. This surgeon, like all the other medical personnel we’ve encountered, looks oddly similar to Dr. Campbell.

 

ALANA

You seem very familiar.

 

SURGEON

(with a heavy Spanish accent)

I get that a lot.

 

ALANA

Will it hurt?

 

SURGEON

It’ll mostly be confusion. Patients only record a small amount of lost memory.

 

ALANA

How do I know the amount of memory loss if I’ve already lost it?

 

A beat. The surgeon chuckles, conceding her point.

 

A crackle of inaudible, distorted words through an intercom system. Nurses on either side of Alana spring into action.

Cannulas get inserted into her arms, electrodes are placed onto her head.

 

SURGEON

Do you have a history of seizures?

 

ALANA

 No.

Alana goes to elaborate, but is intercepted by another nurse fitting a breathing apparatus. The sound of mechanical breathing fills our ears.

 

 

INT. OPERATING THEATRE – MOMENTS LATER                    15

 

Alana is in the middle of the room, with a number of identical doctors hovering around her.

 

Suddenly we’re seeing the room through Alana’s eyes. Masked faces drift in and out of frame.

 

SURGEON

I’m going to get you to count backwards from ten, okay?

 

The screen nods up and down.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

Ten, nine,

 

The sound of static appears faintly, like an old CRT television warming up.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

eight, seven, six,

 

Edges become soft, light becomes dim.

 

ALANA (V.O.)

five… four…

 

FADE TO:

A VOID – OUTSIDE OF TIME                                      15

 

Extended blackness.

 

A visible waveform with the sound of lightning.

 

A flash of the pills going down the sink.

 

A spark. Back to nothing.

 

A flash of Alana driving down the highway, carefree.

 

Two frames of Alana’s first meeting with Dr. Campbell.

 

 

Alana and Kate as children. Their mother still around. But only for a fleeting second.

A hundred unrecognisable memories appear at once for a second.

Then nothing.

The sound of breathing appears.

 

INT. HOSPITAL – NIGHT                                     16

 

Kate is sitting in a chair, watching the mounted TV on the wall. Next to her is an unconscious Alana in bed.

 

Kate has either just woken up from a nap or has been awake for an excessive amount of hours. She’s frazzled.

Alana’s eyes flicker open. She stares at her surroundings, her wrist tag, the gown. The world is more saturated in colour than we’ve seen before.

Kate looks over at Alana. Careful not to overwhelm her, Kate approaches and smiles.

 

KATE

Hey sleepyhead.

 

A nurse enters and gives Alana a plastic cup of water. Her hands tremble lightly as she drinks. Kate motions over to the corner table.

 

KATE (CONT’D)

Look at what I got for you.

 

There’s a giant, gorgeous bouquet of chrysanthemums sitting in an ornate vase.

 

ALANA

Chrysanthemums – my favourite.

How’d you know?

 

Alana seems genuinely confused as to how she would know this, but Kate just smiles and holds Alana’s hand.

 

Alana looks down at their hands, confused. The trepidation in

 

Alana’s eyes gives Kate pause, who lets go.

 

ALANA (CONT’D)

And you are…?

 

Kate stops dead in her tracks. Her face drops. Alana’s face also changes, feeling bad for seemingly offending this unknown woman. The nurse leaves to get a doctor.

They stand there in silence. Alana looks up at the television on the wall. There is the familiar scene of an expensive red car crashing through a window as Ferris Bueller, Cameron

Frye, and Sloane Peterson look on.

 

FADE TO BLACK.

 

 

THE END.

 

 

Download a PDF of ‘Us In January’

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Z Ambiguity – Vicky Martin

                                                  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.

 

Whitewash – Elizabeth Hobart

                                             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:

Becoming A Tree – Domenic Cuda

                                               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:

The Artist, Ashley Ward

 

1. INT. CLASSROOM – AFTERNOON

An American HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM occupies rows of small, vacant desks. A groomed TEACHER with a striped tie enters with two teenagers and a magazine under his arm. SIMON, a teenage lanky thing with large round glasses, heads to a desk at the back of the room. He sits, submissively. A high schooler with a ‘Go Bulls’ hat, JEREMY, attempts to follow, but is stopped by the teacher.

TEACHER

I don’t think so! I want you up the front.

Jeremy looks at Simon. Smirks.

TEACHER

I won’t condone interruptions during my lessons. Is that clear?

BEAT.

TEACHER

That goes for the both of you. I’ll be right back… If I hear anything coming from this room, you’ll both be back here tomorrow, same time after school.

The teacher leaves. Jeremy takes off his NIKE sneakers one by one. He throws them over his shoulder. One almost hits Simon. Flinches. He stands up and sits on top of a desk next to Simon. Jeremy begins to taunt him.

JEREMY

Pick it up.

Simon hesitates.

JEREMY

I said pick it up, faggot!

Simon doesn’t move.

JEREMY

Don’t make me hit you, aye!

Simon bends down and slowly picks up the shoe. Hands it to Jeremy.

JEREMY

That’s what I thought.

 CUT TO:

2. EXT. SUBURBAN STREET – NIGHT

Stars hide in the evening fog. Lampposts illuminate an EMPTY STREET beside a high school. We see Simon leaving the school. He drifts down the street, breaking stride to adjust his backpack every now and then. Jeremy lurks close behind. Simon, oblivious to him, cuts around a corner street and arrives at home.

3. INT. SIMON’S HOUSE – Moments later

A large front door cracks open, catching on a folded towel. An excited PUPPY bounds towards Simon as he pushes the door open.

SIMON

Helloo?

VOICE (O.S)

Simon? Careful of the towel! Maxi’s peed again!

Simon shuffles into the living room where SIMON’S MOTHER, a forty-something brunette woman, slurps noodles in front of a T.V screen. The house is comfortably messy.

SIMON

Sorry I’m late. I had swim club practice.

MOTHER

…On a Tuesday?

BEAT.

SIMON

Is there a plate for me?

MOTHER (jokingly)

In the dungeon, where you belong!

The two share a smile.

4. INT. CLASSROOM – DAY

The sun shines through a cracked classroom window. Inside, the room is stuffy with teenage angst. Tapping feet, shifting eyes, and creaking desks. At the front of the room, a middle-aged high school ITALIAN TEACHER stands slouched near a chalkboard. Her skin is cinnamon coloured, toughened by the sun. Written on the chalkboard is the word “I BREAK” underlined. The teacher addresses the class.

ITALIAN TEACHER

Can anyone give me the Italian translation for this?

Jeremy chimes in to answer. He gives the wrong answer accompanied with a ridiculous Italian accent. A symphony of laughter from the class follows. Lucy sits at a desk in the back of the class, drawing. Definitely not laughing. Simon cuts in.

SIMON

It’s Rompere

BEAT.

SIMON

… You then have to conjugate it from the infinitive ‘to break’ to the first person… So, ‘I break’ would be io rompo.

Jeremy slouches back in his chair. Shamed and angered. His knees bounce anxiously together. He places a textbook on his lap. Simon glances to the back of the room at Lucy. Their eyes meet – his more eager than hers – and she adjusts her skirt. You can see his heart beat through his neck. School bell rings.

5. INT. BATHROOM – LATER

Simon washes his hands, and pauses. The tap continues to flow. He gazes at his reflection with somewhat needy eyes.

SIMON

Hey Lucy… That notebook new? …. What’s up Lucy? You have nice breasts… Wanna go out with me?

 

The bathroom door flings open. In an instant, we see Jeremy’s fist forcefully swoop in to punch Simon.  Clutches his stomach.

JEREMY

Not so smart now aye, faggot!

 He grabs Simon by the shoulder of his jacket and hauls him out of the bathroom.

 6. EXT. SCHOOLYARD – CONTINUOUS

Jeremy steers Simon to a seedy schoolyard behind the classrooms. He pushes Simon against a wall covered in graffiti. A small gang of TEENAGE BOYS skulk around the corner. Some of them have matching white beanies. Others have more style. On a NEIGHBORING STREET, Lucy meanders towards home. She stops and watches for a moment. Jeremy and the bullies torment Simon. One of the bullies snatches Simon’s backpack. He unzips it and shakes it upside down.

BULLY

Aw sorry bro, was that yours?

SIMON

Common, man… Cut it out.

JEREMY (to Simon)

What are you gonna do?

Lucy continues home at a slight quicker pace. One of the bullies shoves Simon into a nearby dumpster. He falls to his side. Cheek to cement. Some scattered rubbish and a blue SPRAY PAINT CAN lay close to his face. Especially the spray can.

 

7. INT. SCHOOL LOCKERS – DAY

Students are herding through a box-sized hallway. School bells RINGS. Lucy idles at her locker shuffling her books. Background conversations fill the hallway. Two girls talk behind her amongst the herd of students.

GIRL 1

Did you see what they painted behind the school? ..A sky mural or something?

Lucy pauses to listen.

GIRL 2

I heard that geek from Italian did it!

GIRL 1

Oh my god what a loser. Cry for attention much?

Girl 2′s giant handbag scuffs Lucy’s shoulder. She looks at Lucy in disgust.

GIRL 2

Excuse me!

Lucy’s gaze falls down and she apologizes.  She grinds her teeth, dressing her anger with a half smile.

 

8. EXT. BUS STOP- NIGHT

Simon waits at a bus stop near the side of the school. In the distant foreground, we see the same wall he was pushed against. A painting of a BLUE SKY with MELTING DIAMONDS covers the wall.  Simon looks at a sign with a bus timetable. He glances at his watch. Sighs.

9. EXT. STREET PAY PHONE – MOMENTS LATER

Simon feeds the machine some coins and dials. Ringing. A soft voice answers.

V.O

Hello?

SIMON

Mom! The buses have stopped running. Can you pick… -

A hand reaches behind Simon and ends the call. Simon turns around, where Jeremy stands with his unfashionable gang. His eyes widen.

JEREMY

Did you do that painting?

BEAT.

SIMON

Why?… Did you… like it?

Jeremy nods in thought.

JEREMY (CONT.)

You ever tag anything before?

Simon’s fingers brush his bluish purple chin.

SIMON

Here and there…

Simon breaks eye contact in anxious spurts. Jeremy holds out a spray paint can to Simon.

 

10. INT. CAR – NIGHT (DAYS LATER)

A white van occupies an empty street by the high school. Inside, Jeremy, the thugs, and Simon all cluster in a circle. A heavy bass blares through speakers in the background. Jeremy exhales perfect circular smoke rings. His eyes tango between his burning joint and Simon. He holds out the joint to Simon.

SIMON

Oh, I don’t smoke…

The group laughs.

SIMON

I mean… I don’t like it spun…

There’s a BEAT before Simon takes the joint. He takes a deep draw.

VOICE (O.S)

So we ready for tonight?

Jeremy looks at Simon, who’s coughing smoke.

SIMON

Y…yeah!

11. INT. LIBRARY – NIGHT

Books line the shelves of an empty library. At a large white study table, sketchbooks are sprawled messily. Lucy’s hand moves fast, scribbling and erasing in a frantic rhythm.

 

12. EXT. SCHOOLYARD – NIGHT

Outside a familiar schoolyard, a wire fence rattles. Simon climbs up and over the fence. He peers back through the diamond-shaped wire gaps. Jeremy and his gang merge into the darkness behind the fence. Tosses a can of spray paint over to Simon. Simon drops the can, and fumbles nervously. He arrives at a familiar blue wall with painted stars and melting diamonds.

 

13. INT. LIBRARY – CONTINUOUS – NIGHT

Lucy continues to scribble. A round-bellied LIBRARIAN at the help desk assists an ELDERLY WOMAN with a large book. They talk about this and that. And probably Dancing With the Stars. Lucy’s pencil punctures through her drawing paper. ZOOM IN on a perfect replica of the diamond painting on the school wall. Except Jeremy is in it, holding Lucy’s hand under the melting sky. She tears the paper in half.

14. EXT. SCHOOLYARD – CONTINUOUS – NIGHT

Simon smiles at the sky painting on the wall. Sirens sound, WHOOPING closer and closer to the schoolyard. Jeremy and his gang disperse. Flashlights shine on Simon and his spray can. An OFFICER holding a flashlight approaches him.

OFFICER

Hi there.

Simon squints, frozen in panic.

SIMON

Hi…

 

OFFICER

Do you realize this is school property?

C.U. on Simon nodding and smiling simultaneously.

 

15. INT. SCHOOL OFFICE – NEXT MORNING

A neatly arranged office with the occasional potted plant detains a row of students. Simon fidgets amongst them on the end chair. Biting his nails to the skin. Jeremy sits at the end of the row, glancing over at Simon periodically. Lucy enters, rushed. It’s apparent she’s late. Her handful of books and loose sketches fall scattered along the floor. A sketch falls near Simon’s shoe. He fumbles nervously.

SIMON

Uhh… Here let me!

Simon picks up the drawing of Lucy and Jeremy. Stares at it. Shocked. Hands Lucy the sketch.

LUCY

A…actually… this is for him.

Lucy motions to Jeremy. Biting her lip seductively. Simon glares at Jeremy through the corner of one eye. Stands up to confront him. Tight clenching fist. And then…WHAP! The boys fight.

CUT TO:

16. INT. CLASSROOM – AFTERNOON

C.U on Jeremy’s bruised cheek. ZOOM OUT to see rows of small empty desks. Except two. And a teacher reading a magazine at the front of the room. Jeremy sits at the back. Head down. Simon’s at a desk in the front row. He takes a blood stained tissue out of one nostril. Examining his busted knuckle with pride. There’s a crack in the glass that splits the penetrating afternoon sun on separate parts of his face. Simon continues to look forward despite the sun in his eyes. He doesn’t flinch. Not even once.

 Download a PDF of The Artist

 

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Charge, Jonathan Pastolero – Yin

1. EXT. STREET PATH. DAY
Rushing rain hits the pavement.

Dark clouds cast a shadow over the entire suburb.At first, the street seems desolate. A bicycle light fading on and off can be seen making its way up from the distance of the footpath.

NORA, a sixteen year old girl, breathes heavily as she pedals her bicycle with her bulging school bag strapped behind her. She has a silver helmet on and is dressed in her bright green summer uniform.

CUT TO:

2. INT. NORA’S BEDROOM. DAY
FLASHBACK:

A futuristic digital clock rings: the time is eight twenty -five. A caption reading,  ‘History exam first period’ flashes under the displayed time.

Nora in her pyjamas springs out of bed with her history textbook falling off her face. She brushes back locks of her straight hair. She looks towards the digital clock on the side of her bed and rushes to a window displaying a night sky that becomes transparent by the touch of her fingers.

She sees the school bus leaving her street in the pouring rain. Nora drops her head down and gasps.

3. EXT. STREET PATH. DAY
Raindrops pour down her exhausted face. As she pedals she looks at her digital watch and sees that the time is eight fifty-nine. Her mouth is wide open; she inhales and exhales. A red car speeds past Nora, sending a wave of gutter water splashing all over her. She takes a hand off one of the handle bars and raises it towards the air.

NORA
Hey! This is a forty zone, jerk!

She bows her head, huffing and puffing.

Her watch flashes: the time is nine o’clock.

Wiping her wet face, she pedals faster.

Growing in the distance is the faint sound of lightning getting louder.

Nora slipstreams through the rain at a steady pace.

A bolt of lightning strikes Nora. She is sent flying along with her bike over a nearby hedge.

Everything goes black!

4. EXT. STREET PATH. ONE HOUR LATER
Nora’s eyes open, the rain has stopped, and all she sees is grey sky. Her uniform is intact, but it is ruffled around the edges.

She turns to her side to see her bike smelted black.
She frantically gets up and takes off her helmet. Her straight hair is now all fuzzy. She runs her hands around her body; her expression shows relief that she is in one piece.
She looks at her watch.

NORA
Shit!

The display of the watch shows an array of flashing digits. She shakes the watch as the display emits a blue light blinding Nora and causing her to shield her eyes. She unbuckles her watch and throws it out to the road. As it hits the tar the flashing screen dies. She jumps over the hedge and breaks into a run.

5. INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY. DAY 5
Nora’s face is flushed red. With her head down she gasps for air as she walks along the marble white concave corridor, unaware of the fading florescent lights she
walks under.
She passes by a LED poster that animates the following: ‘Relax, & enjoy your exams!’ A smiley face appears.

The LED screen fizzles out; the smiley face turns into a sad face and the screen goes black.

Nora comes to a halt. She turns her head facing the doorway to her history room. She takes a deep breath and before she can place her hand on the button that opens the door, it slides open.

The school bell rings.

A sea of STUDENTS exit out of the room weaving their way around Nora who manages to stand still. She examines their faces which are full of relief and joy. Some of the students take a quick glimpse of Nora while the majority give her long stares upon seeing her fuzzy hair and the state of her uniform.

Three girls, MANDY, SHARON, and CASSANDRA giggle past Nora. Their summer uniforms are sleeveless, they wear loose bangles, and their cheeks blush of pink makeup.

Nora’s fingers clench, her eyes shut.

CASSANDRA (O/S)
Looks like someone left the hair dryer in the sink.

 

Her eyes open. She gasps aware that her fine, radiant locks are now all fuzzy. She strokes her hair trying to straighten it out.

GABBY (O/S)
Nora, about time!

GABBY emerges from the room and approaches Nora.

NORA
Well… There were some complications along the way.

Nora sees JASON from within the classroom as he is about to finish his conversation with MR HISTORANT. She sees Jason heading out. She stops pulling her hair and fixes her scrunched uniform. She extends her hand and shows Gabby her open palm.

NORA (CONT’D)
Gabby, quick! A comb!

Gabby turns around and does an, ‘Oh’ expression.

Jason exits the room and walks towards their direction.

Gabby turns to Nora, giving her a wave and then walking off.

Nora places her hands by her side.

Jason walks towards her.

Nora sways from side to side smiling. A strand of fuzzy hair falls over her forehead. Her eyes roll up as she blows the strand away.

NORA
Jason.

JASON
Hey, you look… fresh.

NORA
Uh, thanks.

They both stare at each other awkwardly. Jason lifts the collar of his uniform while Nora whistles.

He takes a deep breath as if he is about to say something.

CASSANDRA (O/S)
There you are!

Cassandra loops her arms around Jason giving Nora an envious smile. He looks uncomfortably at Cassandra, then looks at Nora with a blank face.

CASSANDRA (CONT’D)
So, we still good for this afternoon?

Jason tries to fidget out of her grip. But she holds on to him smiling, her pristine white teeth showing, her mascara eyes gazing into his.

JASON
Huh? Cassandra, did we arrange…

Nora looks on with her teeth clenching. She raises her hands in protest, but is cut off by the squealing of Cassandra who is now jumping with joy.

CASSANDRA
It’s a date!

She pulls him away further down the hallway. Nora can only stand still as she looks on. The fluorescent light above her fizzes.

6. INT. HISTORY CLASSROOM. DAY
Nora stands before Mr Historant by his table.

MR HISTORANT
Woke up on the wrong side of the bed, did we?

NORA
Not quite…

Mr Historant crosses his arms.

MR HISTORANT
Your habit of coming in late isn’t doing you any favour, Nora.

Mr Historant points his fingers at her as she starts to cringe.

MR HISTORANT (CONT’D)
I’m going to have to fail you.

Nora’s body stiffens.

NORA
You can’t! I mean, I would have come in five minutes late anyway if I wasn’t…

He places his hands on his temples rubbing them.

MR HISTORANT
Let me guess, you caught the wrong bus?

Nora opens her mouth, but Mr Historant stops her by hissing.

MR HISTORANT (CONT’D)
You missed the bus? No, wait! I got it, the bus didn’t come on time!

Nora drops her shoulders.

NORA
I was hit by lightning!

He raises his hands in the air.

MR HISTORANT
Wow… Out of all my years in teaching, this has got to be the first.

NORA
I swear, it happened. I’ve got my bike to prove it! I just have to get it back…

The lights around the room flicker frantically as Nora says this. They both look around the room and then lock eyes.

Mr Historant pulls out a form and places it on the table. Grabbing a fountain pen from his pocket, he hands the pen over to her.

MR HISTORANT
I want you to sign this.

Mr Historant fixes his eyes on Nora, his face is tense.

NORA
No! I’m not signing anything!

A crackle of thunder is heard.

MR HISTORANT
Do you want to be suspended? Is that what you want?

Nora bites her bottom lip. She lets out a sigh and grabs the fountain pen. Mr Historant falls to the floor.

Nora shouts and drops the pen. It hits the floor as electrical currents jump out.
She bends down and performs CPR on her teacher. She does a compression which causes Mr Historant to violently jolt from the ground.

She stands up with her hands across her mouth.

CUT TO:

7. INT. HISTORY CLASS ROOM. THRITY MINUTES LATER
Mr Historant is lying on a stretcher as a group of PARAMEDICS roll him out of the classroom. Nora watches as PRINCIPAL ALICE stands next to her.

PRINCIPAL ALICE
Nora, I am so proud of you! Most students wouldn’t have known what to do. You should be very proud of your actions.

Nora bites her bottom lip.

NORA
I guess.

8. INT. MEDICAL BAY. DAY
Nora sits on the edge of the bed. DAHELPER is wearing latex gloves as she shines a torch on Nora’s left eye.

DAHELPER
So, you say you were electrocuted?

Nora nods her head.

Dahelper shines the torch on her right eye.

DAHELPER (CONT’D)
And, you’re not feeling any numbness or a headache?

Dahelper turns the torch off and places it in her pocket.

NORA
Nope, but I got this feeling pulsating through me, like this great mass of energy running through my veins.

Nora claps her hands.

NORA (CONT’D)
Ready to burst!

She does an explosion gesture with her two hands.

DAHELPER
Uh, huh…

Dahelper takes notes on her clipboard, and then turns to the drawer on her side pulling it open. She takes out a couple of pink pills and hands it over to Nora.

DAHELPER (CONT’D)
You’re still recovering from the shock dear, this should settle you down.

Nora looks at the pills with an expression of surprise.

DAHELPER
Plus, seeing your teacher collapse must have been traumatic for you.

Nora clasps the tablets.

NORA
I think I caused him to collapse.

She opens her fist to reveal pink powder.

DAHELPER
A stroke Nora, he had a stroke.

NORA
Because of me.

DAHELPER
We sometimes say things that may allude to other problems, like at home maybe?

Nora’s mouth opens as if she is about to say something.

DAHELPER (CONT’D)
Do your parents make you feel like you’re being blamed for everything you do?

Nora gets up dropping her arms. The crushed powder in her palm sprinkles to the ground.

NORA
No! What are you talking about? Nothing’s happening. My parents love me dearly.

 DAHELPER
Just calm down, we can talk this through…

NORA
We won’t. Because you don’t believe me!

CUT TO:

9. INT. GIRLS’ BATHROOM. DAY
Nora looks into the mirror staring at her own reflection.

NORA
You’re not crazy.

She takes a deep breath.
She reaches for the tap but draws back in shock as soon as her fingers touch it.

She rubs her zapped fingers with her other hand, staring at her actions in the mirror.

NORA
I’ve lost it.

10. INT. ROBOTICS CLASSROOM. DAY
MR TINK TOP has his back to the class while drawing schematics on an illuminated digital board. The room is surrounded by various robots ranging from mechanical arms, sensory cars, self-controlled flying gliders, etc.

Nora approaches a green metallic glider placed on the work bench that is on the side of the room.

She turns to her right and sees Jason working on what appears to be a robotic hand. She smiles, but that smile soon vanishes as Cassandra stands next to him.

Nora sticks her tongue out.

She looks down at her machine and reaches for it with one of her fingers as she shuts her eyes.

The tip of her finger touches the metallic casing.

Her eyes open.

She rests her entire palm on the glider and while doing this, Nora blows a sigh of relief.

She starts pulling away the metallic casing. Before her is a complicated circuit board with a bunch of wires criss-crossing everywhere.

She turns an eye and sees Cassandra caressing Jason’s arm. She focuses her attention on the circuit board while pulling the wires frantically and rearranging them.

Jason tries to look over his shoulder towards Nora, but his view point is blocked by the gleaming gaze of Cassandra.

Nora pulls more wires and blows a strand of hair that falls on her forehead.

She turns her head to see that Cassandra is provocatively leaning over Jason.

Sparks fly out of the circuit board and zap Nora’s fingers.

NORA
AH, FUCK!

The whole class stares at Nora. She looks in silence, with a blank expression on her face. Jason and Cassandra look on, her hand placed on his cheek.
From the front of the room Mr Tink Top crosses his arms.

MR TINK TOP
Watch that mouth of yours!

NORA
Sorry…

Nora bends her head down and looks at her glider. Students around the room gradually get back to working on their own robots.

Jason looks at Nora, her hands are on the edges of the bench with her head bowed down. Cassandra clings on his shirt.

CASSANDRA
She has issues. You know that, right?

He takes a step towards Nora with Cassandra still clinging onto him. Gabby approaches Nora and seeing this, Jason takes a step back.

Nora turns her head towards Gabby.

GABBY
Can you at least show some signs of normality?

NORA
Normality? There is nothing normal about this day!

Behind Nora, the exposed circuit of the glider sparks, making a faint hissing noise.

NORA (CONT’D)
How can I, when it’s been nothing but one disaster after another?

The red light on the nose of the glider flashes.

GABBY
Are you on drugs?

Nora cringes her nose and clenches her fist.

The glider hovers its way up.

NORA
No! How long have you known me? Why would I be?

The glider is now above Nora’s head.

GABBY
Uhh… you had difficulties getting your glider to fly, right?

NORA
Yeah, so?

Nora turns around and sees the glider, her expression is that of awe.

NORA (CONT’D)
What the?

MR TINK TOP (O/S)
Shut it down, Nora!

The eyes of the entire class are on Nora. Gabby moves away. Nora takes a step forward and jumps with her two hands stretching out. She grabs the glider pulling it down. She struggles to settle the glider down as it violently sways to and fro. Her face is that of anguish.

NORA
Why won’t you come down?

Sparks fly out of her palms and flow through the exposed circuit board of the glider. The glider makes a hissing malfunctioning noise and zooms out of her hand.

Shrieks fill the room. Students duck for cover as the glider flies in low and then high.

Nora looks with an open mouth.

CASSANDRA
You’re such a screw up!

Nora turns to look at Cassandra.

Jason clings on to Cassandra trying to calm her down.

NORA
Oh, would you just shut up!

Nora sees the glider approaching her.

NORA (CONT’D)
Oh, no!

She ducks. Cassandra turns around and quickly follows suit. Jason jumps to the side knocking over a nearby female student. The glider flies above them releasing bolts of electricity that fly into Jason’s mechanical arm. The mechanical arm springs to life grabbing Cassandra from behind and pulling her up from the ground.

Cassandra screams as the arm pulls her up higher and higher. She looks out the window and sees a group of male students staring under her skirt with their mouths wide open.

CASSANDRA
AHHH! GET ME DOWN!

Jason pulls her down and they both collapse on the floor.

More sparks fly out of the glider as it circles the room activating the other robots scattered around the class.

Various robots lined along the work benches spring to life. A robot frog jumps on a girl’s head as she runs screaming.

A student with an Afro hair style runs from a chasing helicopter. The helicopter flies upside down, flying over the boy and cutting half his Afro hair off.

Gabby runs to the door as a tank situated on a workbench fires foam bullets at her.

The lights of a robotic car spring to life as it jumps off the workshop bench and down to the floor, zig zagging its way past running legs and past the legs of Mr Tink Top who runs around.

MR TINK TOP
Everyone, out!

Everyone scrambles out of the room. Jason pulls Cassandra to her feet and clings on to her as they run towards the exit.

Nora runs to the door, her glider comes swooping down striking the back of her head. She falls to her knees. Mr Tink Top runs grabbing her by the arm. He pulls back shaking his hand.

MR TINK TOP (CONT’D)
Come on, Nora.

Nora slowly gets up grunting. Mr Tink Top sees the glider swooping down towards them again. He takes Nora by the arm and as he does this he screams in pain. They exit out of the room. The sliding door shuts.

11. INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY. DAY
Mr Tink Top is lying on the floor. Nora looks over him rubbing the back of her head. They are surrounded by the rest of the class.

NORA
Please, tell me you’re okay?

He opens his eyes as he slowly he gets up.

MR TINK TOP
I think so…

Gabby approaches Nora.

GABBY
How could you ruin all our designs?

The student with the cut Afro brushes along Gabby, in his hands are curls of his own hair.

STUDENT
AND MY HAIR!

Nora takes a step back.

MR TINK TOP
Now calm down, you can’t blame her for a faulty spark in her glider.

Cassandra dashes out, her face raging red.

CASSANDRA
Did you see the humiliation you caused me?

The class start shouting at her and blaming her.

NORA
You think I wanted this to happen?

Jason looks around and sees faces full of anguish.

JASON
Guys, calm down!

Nora covers her ears and shakes her head. She screams. She runs down the hallway with each florescent light she runs under exploding with sparks.

The class panics. The fire alarm rings. All the sliding doors in the hallway open as students flock out.

Jason leaves Cassandra’s side and runs after Nora weaving in and out of students.

12. EXT. PARK. DAY
Nora sits under a lone maple tree crying her eyes out. She rests her head against the tree and shuts her eyes.

Red petals dance their way around the park with the help of the brewing wind. The petals fly around the tree Nora sits under. One of the petals lands on the tip of her nose and slides off. She opens her eyes.

Electrical currents circulate around the petals as they stop swirling around the tree and remain still. She turns her head to either side. Her head drops. The electrical currents swirl the petals around the tree. The maple tree can be seen up from a high distance as petals burst out from all directions.

Nora looks at the petals that scatter around the park. Petals fall down slowly as the residue of electrical sparks slowly smother them to ashes. Nora looks down her lap and picks up a lone red petal, the same one that fell on her nose earlier. She examines it and blows it away. She closes her watery eyes.

The red petal hits Jason on the cheek. He touches his cheek putting the petal in his hands.

JASON
There you are.

Nora opens her eyes.

NORA
Leave me alone. Haven’t you got some other girl wrapped around your arms already? I’m sure she’s missing you right now.

Jason bites his lip and clears his throat.

JASON
Nora… I like you!

She looks away from him then hesitantly turns her head towards him.

NORA
Well, you shouldn’t. I’ll only end up hurting you.

JASON
I’ll take my chances.

NORA
I’m serious Jason, stay away from me!

Nora gets up and turns her back against Jason. He places his hand lightly on her shoulder trying to stop her from running away.

Nora shuts her eyes at the touch of his hand.

Her eyes open, an echo of an explosion is heard.

Nora turns in shock, but that expression goes away once she sees Jason with his head turned. She turns her head seeing grey smoke fuming out of their school building out in the distance.

NORA
The robots…

She places a hand over her mouth.

NORA (CONT’D)
This is all my fault! I have to stop this.

JASON
Nora, this is crazy. You want your head to be chopped off this time?

Nora runs towards the school building looking back at Jason.

NORA
No, because it won’t happen.

He scratches his head and runs after her.

13. INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY. DAY
Various robots zoom across the hallway, smashing into lockers, breaking hanging trophy walls, and breaking down class windows.

Nora walks down the hallway. The busted fluorescent lights she walks under spark brightly. Nora raises her arms across her chest creating an X symbol. Electric currents surround her entire body, her eyes glow electrically blue. She unleashes her arms as sparks fly out.

The sparks hit all the robots in the hallway as they malfunction and cease to operate.

Nora’s glider flies through from down the hallway charging down at her. She takes a side step avoiding the glider which flies across the hallway only to turn back and target her once more. Nora’s eyes glow statically brighter. The glider charges down at Nora only to come to halt an inch away from her nose. It falls to the ground. Nora does a sigh of relief, and with that the electricity surging around her body vanishes and her eyes stop glowing.

Jason stands behind Nora, she turns around and she sees him.

His expression is that of awe.

They approach each other.

Jason smiles.

JASON
You’re, awesome you know that?

Nora smiles and starts walking down the hallway as Jason follows.

NORA
Yeah, I know.

Jason scratches his head.

Nora looks down.

JASON
Can I walk you home?

Nora brushes her hair to her side and looks at Jason smiling.

NORA
I’d love that.

Their hands touch.

Jason recoils back in shock.

Nora laughs as he shakes his hand.

He looks at Nora and joins in the laughter.

The tip of their fingers touch once more. Their individual fingers mesh against each other as they hold hands.
Jason turns his head.

JASON
So what else can you do?

Nora smiles as her eyes glow electrically blue.

NORA
You’re going to like this one!

FADE TO:

Black.

Sparks of electricity is heard.

THE END.

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Fallibility, Benjamin Hutton

1. INT. PRESENT DAY ROGER’S HOUSE. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

The living room is dark with intermittent light from the old
CRT television showing THE TIME MACHINE.

Dust covers old family PHOTOS that line the walls. They feature a young man with his wife by his side and daughter on his shoulders. Another photo is of the young man by himself holding an award for an innovative invention. A
framed degree and awards from the scientific community, such as a WOLF PRIZE, hang askew and neglected.

Empty bottles are strewn around the room.

A bottle of Jack Daniels drops to the floor spilling its contents.

A limp hand follows the bottle to dangle over the edge of
the RED ARMCHAIR. ROGER (senile old man, with dirty stubble
and wearing yesterdays lunch on his sweat stained shirt) is
asleep in the armchair beginning to dream.

 

2. DREAM SEQUENCE INT. 70’S ROGER’S HOUSE. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

Roger sits in the red armchair. The living room is the same but well lit, homely, and tidy but some of the awards aren’t present. No dust or bottles clutter the room.

From the kitchen banging and clattering noises issue. Roger goes to investigate.

 

3. INT. KITCHEN. CONTINUOUS

Roger steps into the light of the kitchen. Old food is scattered over the bench top with plates piling high in the sink. Roger runs is hand over a DRAWING on the fridge of a man and a child holding hands in front of a rocket ship, an arrow singling them out as Daddy and Ella.

More banging from a staircase leading down into the basement draws Roger downstairs.

 

4. INT. BASEMENT. CONTINUOUS

The basement is crowded with paraphernalia. Scientific experiments abandoned lay haphazardly about: beakers and
test tubes bubble idly away emitting green gases, a headless robot intermittently flashes and sparks, half concealed
under a dusty cloth is a big contraption surrounding a red armchair.

In the middle of the room, hunched over a desk, working under the light of one lamp is a young version of Roger (early 30’s with a mustache and goofy hair characteristic of the 70’s).

Roger makes his way behind Young-Roger who can’t see or hear him. “Roger reaches out to a post-it note right in front of Young-Roger. It reads: “pick up Ella from school at 3.15.” Roger looks at the time: 6:05pm.

Simultaneously, Young-Roger jumps in the air whooping with excitement while the front door upstairs crashes open and a woman yells.

YOUNG-ROGER I’ve got it!

ROGER!

WOMAN (O.S)

Roger freezes and glances at the time and the post-it note.

YOUNG-ROGER
Shit.

Young-Roger runs up the stairs two at a time and room starts to darken and diminish around Roger.

He glances at the algorithms left behind that flutter in an invisible wind.

ROGER
It wasn’t worth it.

Upstairs a yelling match begins.

CUT TO:

 

5. INT. KITCHEN. CONTINUOUS

A YOUNG-ROGER stands in the middle of the kitchen. SHERYL (Young-Roger’s fiery red-headed wife, in classic 70’s female attire) stands opposite him.

Old Roger instantly appears behind Young-Roger but he is invisible to both of them.

Sheryl picks up a whiskey bottle and launches it at
Young-Roger. It narrowly misses and hurtles towards Roger.
He is caught unawares and can only begin to shield himself
but the bottle passes right through him and SMASHES against
the wall.

Sheryl raises a frying pan.

SHERYL You left her…

Young-Roger rushes at Sheryl.

YOUNG-ROGER Put that down!

Young-Roger wrestles the frying pan out of Sheryl’s hand and sets it on the bench.

Sheryl recoils from Roger’s touch.

SHERYL
She’s a child Roger! A child!

YOUNG-ROGER
I lost track of time Sheryl I’m
sorry but I discovered something…
Huge. The Big…

SHERYL
I don’t care what you think you
discovered Roger, I had to pick
her up from the police again. One
more time and we could lose her
Roger!

The argument between Sheryl and Young-Roger continues but
Roger tunes it out.

Roger slowly moves through the kitchen in a dream-like trance, passing right through the arguing couple as if they weren’t even there.

He stops at the door to the kitchen staring at something…

 

6. INT. ENTRANCE WAY / STAIRCASE. CONTINUOUS

ELLA (all goodness and innocence), Roger’s 6 year old daughter, holds a teddy bear while she sits on the stairs in her school uniform and listens to her parents argue.

She looks right at Roger almost as if she can see him. He is frozen by her stare, silent tears rolling down his cheeks.

A long silence in the argument breaks Roger’s reverie of his daughter. He tunes in again.

 

SHERYL (O.S.)
I’m done Roger. I can’t do it
anymore.

A second later Sheryl walks right through Roger into frame and sees Ella. Roger just watches on knowing full well what happens next.

SHERYL
Oh Ella baby, I’m sorry you had to
hear that.

ELLA
Why are you angry at daddy mommy?
I’m all right.

Sheryl kneels in front of Ella.

SHERYL
I know you’re all right sweetie,
you always are. We’re gonna go
visit grandma for a little while.

Sheryl picks up Ella, grabs her keys and coat.

Roger rushes to Sheryl and Ella trying to get their attention.

ROGER
Don’t go! Please don’t go!

Roger’s head is whipping back and forth between stopping them and getting Young-Roger.

He runs to the kitchen door…

 

7. INT. KITCHEN. CONTINUOUS

Young-Roger has his head down clutching the edge of the tabletop.

ROGER
What are you doing! Go after them!

Young-Roger doesn’t respond.

 

8. INT. ENTRANCE WAY / STAIRCASE. CONTINUOUS

Sheryl has Ella in her arms. She opens the front door.

Ella stretches her arms out towards Roger, her eyes big as saucers.

ELLA
But I want to stay with daddy.

ROGER
ELLA!

The front door SLAMS.

Roger slides to the ground, head in his hands staring at the door.

An ENGINE STARTS.

There’s a CRACK of a bottle lid been twisted open from the kitchen.

Head-lights shine through the glass of the front door as the car backs out of the driveway.

ROGER
10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2….1

When Roger reaches zero a horrible sound of SCREECHING TYRES followed by a huge COLLISION shatters the silence.

Young-Roger bolts for the door right past his older self.

 

9. EXT. FRONT YARD. CONTINUOUS

Young-Roger hares onto the street and disappears out of sight. NEIGHBOURS dressed like middle-class suburbia in their dressing gowns emerge from their neatly manicured houses.

Smoke rises over the suburban landscape in the direction
Young-Roger ran towards.

Roger lags behind, dragging his feet.

 

10. EXT. STREET. CONTINUOUS

The street is crowded with a blur of faces rushing towards a flaming wreckage at the end. A small crowd has already gathered there.

Roger walks down the middle of the road, stepping in and out of pools of light cast by street lights. Ahead of him Young-Roger reaches the crash and pushes through to the front.

SIRENS wail in the distance.

The fire is reflected in Roger’s eyes.

Roger walks through the crowd to stand behind Young-Roger who is on his knees clutching Ella’s teddy bear. Two cars are a flaming mess ahead of them.

ROGER You stupid fool.

END DREAM SEQUENCE

 

11. INT. ROGER’S HOUSE. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

Roger wakes from his dream to his living room illuminated by the TV.

He licks his lips and searches for a drop of alcohol.

He upends a Jameson bottle into his mouth, draining it. He stares at the bottle in his hands.

Visions of cars on fire and screams haunt Roger in flashes. He hurls the bottle across the room.
Roger focuses upon the television that’s playing THE TIME MACHINE. Guy Pearce is hopping into a time machine made out of a RED ARMCHAIR identical looking to the one he sits in now. Roger watches transfixed, slightly swaying and squinting, by the idea and the resemblance to his own RED ARMCHAIR.

ROGER You can change it!

Roger picks up an old picture of Sheryl and Ella.

ROGER
I’m gonna make this right, I
promise.

Roger rifles through a draw and withdraws a pen and paper. He moves like a man possessed, feverishly drawing his own design of the Time Machine.

Equations and numbers cover the page, but are ripped up and thrown away in frustration.

Roger seems to hit a wall, gets up and exits frame through the kitchen.

MOVEMENT, GRUNTING and REARRANGING noises can be heard from the basement. Roger emerges dragging a drawing board with bottles of whiskey under each arm.

MONTAGE

Roger unscrews the whiskey, takes a pull, and begins
drawing his own TIME MACHINE, pinning pieces to the board as
he goes.
The only indicator of time is how much whiskey he drinks. The living room is cleared of furniture except for the
photos, he leaves them. Then it is turned into a workshop
with tools and scrap metal everywhere.

Three quarters of the bottle of whiskey is gone. Roger looks old and frail but somehow he is building this massive contraption. His eyes are bloodshot and feverish.
Sparks flash across the living-room as Roger welds. Roger’s time machine takes shape around his red armchair. Screams of frustration and howls of joy punctuate the
hammering and welding.

END MONTAGE

Roger picks up the bottle and steps back to admire his work, taking a gratuitous swig and swaying heavily.

Roger’s TIME MACHINE is an exact replica of Guy Pearce’s. Shiny metal wraps around the Red Armchair with two giant fans at the front and back.

ROGER
No time like the present, to change
the past.

Roger slips his watch off his wrist and puts it on a stand in front of the Red Armchair. Taking one last pull of the whiskey he slumps into the Time Machine.

He reaches for the watch but checks himself and leans out to grab the PHOTO of himself, Sheryl and Ella.

He winds back the date on his WATCH, to this exact day, SEPTEMBER 14TH, only forty years earlier.

At first nothing happens…

Roger clutches the photo, his knuckles turning white, and screws his eyes tight shut.

He sees FLASHES of light through his closed eyes. There’s a cacophony of birds chirping, cars honking, hammers and saws as if time is passing. Over it all the thrum of fans punctuates until its the only thing that can be heard.

 

12. INT. 70’S ROGER’S HOUSE. LIVING ROOM. DAY

Roger’s eyes open to a fan spinning away on the ceiling. He checks his surroundings.

He’s in his living room, sitting in the red armchair with no Time Machine around him. Everything appears the same but there is no dust on the family photos or bottles strewn around. He reaches out for a photo and stops mid reach to stare at his HAND, a hand of a man in his prime.

Roger runs over to the sideboard and stares at himself in the mirror, pinching his skin in disbelief.

He is in the body of Young-Roger. He has a mustache and skin that sticks to his skull, sunken eyes, but the same blue eyes.

He jumps in the air, punching and kicking with excitement. He stops and grabs his wrist pulling the sleeve down to check his WATCH: The time is 3:35.

ROGER Shit! Ella.

He races from the living room.

 

13. INT. ENTRANCE WAY / STAIRCASE. DAY

Roger enters frame from the living room door, and begins frantically searching for the car keys. Upending the
contents of the draw and throwing coats out of the closet in his search.

ROGER Where are the keys!

He opens the door that leads to the garage.

 

14. INT. GARAGE. DAY

Roger bursts into the garage. It is cluttered, the sides piled high with junk but it is empty and open to the street. He kicks at a box.

ROGER
Dammit Sheryl, I’m trying to save
you!

With a roar Roger bolts out of the open garage door into the brilliantly sunny afternoon and turns down the street.

 

15. EXT. SUBURB STREETS. DAY

The streets are average Sydney suburb streets, quiet in some places with lots of traffic as Roger gets closer to the school.

SERIES OF SHOTS:

-Roger checks his watch: 3:59

-His legs pump hard along the pavement

-A gang of school kids come round the corner and Roger has to leap to the side to avoid them, tripping over his feet and then falling.

-He pulls himself up and keeps running, checking the TIME:
4:06

-Roger doesn’t check for cars as he emerges from bushes
onto the pedestrian crossing. He gets blindsided by a slowly
moving car and slams up onto their bonnet. He rolls off the
hood. The DRIVER (average male citizen) hops out of the car
to help him but Roger has already pulled himself up. The
Driver is about to speak before Roger cuts him off.

ROGER
Can’t stop mate, got history to
write.

Roger hobbles off, limping into a run leaving the driver bewildered

-Roger checks his watch: 4:25. Straightening his shirt and flattening his hair Roger strides into the grounds of ST. MARY’S PRIMARY SCHOOL

END SERIES OF SHOTS

 

16. INT. OFFICE ST MARY’S PRIMARY SCHOOL. DAY

Roger knocks on the office door and enters. There’s an OFFICE LADY (late 50’s, officious looking) busy at work with her back to Roger. She doesn’t hear the knock. As he steps in Ella spots him.

Daddy!

ELLA

She leaps from her seat behind the Office Lady’s desk and throws herself at Roger.

ELLA
I told them you’d be here.

Ella’s shout and sudden movement gets the Office Lady’s attention.

ROGER
Of course I’d be here baby girl.

OFFICE LADY
Mr. Pen rose, we were about to call
the police to pick up Ella.

Roger puts down Ella and motions her out the door with a smile.

ROGER
Wait outside baby girl, I’ll just
be a minute.

Roger squints at her NAME BADGE and attempts to pronounce her name

ROGER
Miss Gretzka? Greezker?

OFFICE LADY
Mrs. Greeska, Mr. Pen rose. The very
same lady who looked after your
daughter last week and the week
before when you failed to pick her
up.

ROGER
Three weeks in a row?

OFFICE LADY
Five weeks if you count the two
your wife had to pick her up from
the station.

ROGER
Wow, I was a terrible father. If
it’s any consolation I will make
some game-changing discoveries. Did
make… Am going to–

The Office Lady curtly cuts him off.

OFFICE LADY
It’s not. This is your daughter Mr.
Pen rose. She is six years old.

ROGER
I know Mrs. Grezka…

The Office Lady stares disapprovingly at him messing up her name again.

ROGER
I know now what’s at stake and I
know I’m never going to let them go
again.
Roger chokes up at the thought of losing his family again. The Office Lady softens at the sincerity displayed by
Roger.

OFFICE LADY
It’s all well and good to say that
here and now but it’s your wife you
have to convince not me. She’s
desperately unhappy surely you must
know that.

ROGER
You can’t tell her about this–

Roger grabs hold of her shoulders in desperation. (CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 12.

ROGER
Please, her life is relying on
that.

OFFICE LADY
I’m sorry but it’s policy to inform
both caregivers after half an hour.

Roger’s head slumps to his chest and he slowly releases his hold on her.

Thank you.

ROGER

Roger turns his back on the confused Office Lady and leaves the room.

 

17. EXT. SCHOOL PLAYGROUND. DAY

Ella sees her dad looking sad as he exits the office and runs into his arms. His face briefly lights up.

ELLA What’s wrong daddy?

ROGER
Nothing for you to worry about baby
girl. What do you want to do?
Ice-cream?

Yeahhhh!

All right.

ELLA

ROGER

 

18. EXT. ROGER’S HOUSE FRONT YARD. DAY

Ella and Roger enter the front yard laughing and playing together. There is a car parked on the front lawn but they don’t notice it. Ella jumps at Roger who swoops her up and spins her around. He hears the front door open, and on their next spin sees his wife emerging from the house.

SHERYL
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ROGER!

The laughter and spinning dies and Roger puts Ella down, and bends down to kiss her on the forehead.

ROGER
Go inside now sweetie.

She whispers to him:

ELLA Good luck daddy.

And then hugs her mother as she passes her. This takes some of the steam out of Sheryl but not much.

SHERYL
You didn’t pick her up.

Roger walks to Sheryl and embraces her in a hug that says more than words how sorry he is.

ROGER
I’m sorry honey. For everything.

Sheryl is taken aback by the tenderness of her distant partner. She gently pushes him away.

SHERYL
I can’t do this anymore Roger. I
just can’t.

ROGER
Wait, just let me explain–

SHERYL
It’s too late Roger.

Sheryl turns to the car but Roger spins her around.

ROGER
You can’t leave, you can’t. You’re
gonna die if you do. You and Ella,
in a car crash I’ve lived it
before. Please I can change.

SHERYL (sobbing)
Roger please just let me go.

Sheryl tries to wriggle out of his clutch.

ROGER
NO! I won’t let you go again.

He grabs hold of her and tries to wrestle her inside kicking and screaming.

SHERYL
Let go of me! Get off me! Let me
go.

As Roger pulls her onto the doorstep Sheryl grabs a pot plant and smashes it over Roger’s head.

He lets go of her as he collapses to the ground. His vision blacks in and out and as he struggles to get up he sees Sheryl jump in the car and shoot out the driveway.

ROGER
NOOOOO! Sheryl come back.

Roger’s eyes shudder closed and a cacophony of noise assaults his ears, loud screeches and sirens and over the top a steady BEAT pounds, low at first until it becomes unbearably loud.

 

19. INT. PRESENT DAY ROGER’S HOUSE. LIVING ROOM. DAY

Roger wakes up as an old man once more, thrashing in his Time Machine. It is dark in his living room but with rays of morning light breaking through the covered windows.

Someone is incessantly pounding on the door and a muffled voice can be heard but Roger doesn’t answer it.

Roger unleashes a tortured howl. He sets about destroying his Time Machine.

The banging on the door becomes a massive thudding after
Roger’s outburst.

Roger is yelling and crying, throwing parts of his time machine across the room, destroying whatever he can lay his hands on.

The door busts open. Light from outside floods the room. Into the chaos steps a NURSE (late 20’s, female, RED HAIR).

Roger’s Time Machine is revealed to be just pillows and blankets around a Red Armchair with two giant fans behind it whirring away. The pillows are mostly all torn up now.

Roger picks up a PHOTO of Sheryl, Ella and himself and goes to smash it but stops himself, clutching it to his chest instead as he drops to his knees.

The nurse rushes to Roger’s side. As she bends down to pick him up there is a glimpse of her NAME BADGE. Her name is Ella.

THE END

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The Morbid Paintings, Mat Groom

1. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, HALLWAY. NIGHT

ELIZABETH (mid 40s, immaculately presented) walks down a hallway, decorated with only a small table with a minimalist vase on it, and a cross hanging on the wall above. She has a basket of clothes in her arms.

RICHARD
(o/s)
Liz! Come to bed, honey!

ELIZABETH
Just a minute! I just need to find Virginia’s uniform so I can throw it in the wash!

 

2. INT. OPULENT INNER CITy APARTMENT, VIRGINIA’S BEDROOM. NIGHT

Elizabeth turns into Virginia’s room, which is quite dark, lit up only by the soft lights of the city coming in through the bedroom window. VIRGINIA (mid-to-late teens) is sleeping in her bed, snoring loudly. Elizabeth moves quietly to Virginia’s bag, and starts carefully pulling out the contents. Virginia rolls over suddenly, startling Elizabeth, but promptly starts snoring again. Elizabeth returns to the bag, and quickly comes to a cardboard tube.

Elizabeth hesitates for a moment, then pulls the tube out of the bag and moves out of the room -

 

3. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, HALLWAY. NIGHT

- and back into the light of the hallway. She opens up the tube and pulls out several large, rolled up paintings and lays them out on the floor.

Elizabeth stands over the paintings, looking at them with both interest and apprehension.

They are water-colour paintings, slightly abstract in nature, swirls of dark reds, purples and blacks, depicting various scenes of death, despair and dread. One of the paintings depicts a tall, cloaked figure choking the life out of a small girl, another features small children being crushed under the weight of an immense slab of stone.

RICHARD enters the hallway from the master bedroom. He is in his pajamas, and is looking weary.

RICHARD
Everything okay, dear…?

Elizabeth jumps, startled, and then spins to face him, putting herself between Richard and the paintings, attempting to obstruct his view.

RICHARD
What is…

ELIZABETH
Nothing. Nothing. Just some – from – uh. Elizabeth’s school stuff. Go back to bed, I’ll be there -

Richard has gone from weary to alert, and he stares Elizabeth down.

RICHARD
Move aside.

ELIZABETH
Go to back to bed, Richard.

Richard simply reaches out and slowly but firmly pushes Elizabeth to the side. Her moment of defiance is over, and she steps out of the way, sullen.

Richard gazes down at the paintings on the floor and his eyes go wide.

CUT TO TITLE: THE MORBID PAINTINGS

 

5. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, MASTER BEDROOM – NIGHT

Richard storms into the bedroom, raging, and Elizabeth follows him in.

RICHARD
(furious)
I knew it!! I knew that class would – we’re withdrawing her from that art class! Tomorrow! She’ll go back to real classes, she can pick-up another economics class! This isn’t how we raised her, this – she – THIS IS A CHRISTIAN HOUSEHOLD.

ELIZABETH
I know, Richard, I know, but don’t you think -

RICHARD
What?

ELIZABETH
They’re very striking! The composition – it’s impressive work, Richard! I mean, they’re very dark, I’ll grant you, but she’s just -

RICHARD
No. No. This stuff, this culture…

Richard waves his hands about, trying to articulate his perceived ridiculousness and moral bankruptcy of teen culture, but succeeding only in making uninterpretable, frenzied gesticulations.

RICHARD
(CONT.)
- you have to stamp it out immediately, pull it out at the roots. I will not lose our little girl to this darkness!

ELIZABETH
I know why you might think this is worrying, but it’s artistic expression, Richard, it doesn’t mean anything sinister.

RICHARD
We’re pulling her out of the class, Liz. Straight away. I’ll hear no more of it.

ELIZABETH
She loves that class, it’s all she talks about now. I haven’t seen her this happy in so long…

RICHARD
Nothing that produces this -

Richard points a finger at the paintings, accusingly.

RICHARD
(cont.)
- this rot… can be beneficial for our girl. And since I pay for the classes -

ELIZABETH
Fine, fine. I’ll talk to her when she gets home from school tomorrow.

RICHARD
I will do that.

Elizabeth looks at Richard with a piercing stare, as Richard he gets into the bed.

ELIZABETH
No! If you’re going to insist on taking this away from her, then you’re going to have to – at very least! – let me be the one to break it to her.

Richard pauses for a moment, considering.

RICHARD
Very well. But you better handle this, Elizabeth, or I will.

And with that, Richard claps his hands firmly and loudly together, and the lamp goes out, plunging the room immediately into total darkness and putting an end to the conversation, and leaving Elizabeth to find her way to the bed in total darkness.

 

6. INT. Opulent inner city APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM. DAY

Elizabeth sits on the living room couch, still and silent. Lost in thought. After a few beats, she rises, and moves purposefully over to the cupboard under the stairs. She opens the cupboard, and begins to pull out the contents. The first thing she pulls out is a large canvas with colourful hand prints all over it.

 

7. EXT. GARDEN. DAY

Elizabeth and YOUNG VIRGINIA (six years old), hands covered in paint, are making the hand prints on the canvas, which is laid out on the grass. Elizabeth beckons to Richard, who is standing nearby, to come over and join in. Richard shakes his head.

Young Virginia runs over to Richard and pulls him by the sleeve, trying to get him to come over, but the paint on her little hands come off on the sleeve of his suit. He scowls, and walks off.

 

8. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM. DAY

Elizabeth brings the hand print canvas out into the lounge room and places it against the wall. She next pulls out paddlepop stick model vaguely resembling a dinosaur.

 

9. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, STUDY. DAY

Young Virginia (nine years old) is at a desk, trying to assemble the paddle-pop stick model, but is struggling, with glue going everywhere and the half-finished model barely clinging together. Richard and Elizabeth watch from the door. Elizabeth quietly pushes at Richard’s back, nodding with her head towards the sad looking Elizabeth.

Richard hesitates for a moment, but then goes over to the desk to help his daughter.

 

10. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM. DAY

Elizabeth places the paddle-pop stick model dinosaur on the coffee table.

Next, she retrieves from the cupboard a very strange small black sculpture, carved from onyx. It looks like it might be a person, but it’s very abstract.

11. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM. DAY

We’re in the same lounge room now, but there a few more photos on the wall, the room is less barren. Young Virginia (twelve years old) hands Elizabeth a wrapped gift, while Richard sits next to her.

Elizabeth unwraps the gift – it is the onyx sculpture. Elizabeth looks confused at first, and glances over to Richard, who shrugs and looks the figure disapprovingly. Virginia excitedly gesticulates at the sculpture, though, clearly enthusiastic about it, and Elizabeth smiles, and lifts the sculpture up to look at it closer, examining it from all angles, trying to figure it out.

 

12. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM. DAY

Back in the present, Elizabeth looks over the sculpture, still a little confused by it, and places it on the coffee table.

Through a series of quick cuts, we see Elizabeth take more paintings done by young Virginia and blu-tack them to the walls, take out strange play-dough figures and paper-craft models and arrange them around the room, take out cheap looking and odd mother’s day gifts and birthday presents, some with gift tags reading ‘To Mum, Love Virginia’ still attached. After this frenzy of movement has finished, the once spartan and monotone is transformed into a colourful mess.

Elizabeth is slowly walking around the room, inspecting the items and starting to tear up. She returns to the cupboard one final time and pulls out a box, and it’s clear from the look on her face that she doesn’t recognise it.

She opens the box, and it is filled with plain manila folders. She pulls the first one out of the box, and it says ‘Accounts April 2012 – June 2012′ on it, and opens it up.

It is filled with blank paper.

Confused, Elizabeth reaches deep into the box, and pulls out another. This one reads ‘Accounts February 2004 – March 2004′ and opens it up. She enraged by what she finds, and throws the folder down onto the coffee table, and the contents spill out. It’s smut, photos of women pleasuring other women, older men with suspiciously young looking girls, and group sex with a large number of participants. There folder has dozens and dozens of photos in it, and they cascade across the table and off the side of it.

 

13. INT. OPULENT INNER CITY APARTMENT, KITCHEN – DAY

Elizabeth sits at the kitchen table, taking long, slow sips from a cup of coffee. She’s looking tired.

There’s a small thump as the front door (down the hallway) opens, which makes Elizabeth jump. Soon, Virginia is in the room, in her school uniform, school bag hanging over one of her shoulders. She moves through the room in a whirl, dumping her bag on the floor, moving to the fridge for a snack.

VIRGINIA
Hey, Mum. How’s -

Virginia looks over at Elizabeth and comes to a sudden stop, sensing something is wrong and stopping mid-sentence.

VIRGINIA
…what’s wrong?

ELIZABETH
Come sit down, Virginia.

VIRGINIA
Oh no. What – is Dad okay? What is it?

ELIZABETH
Just come sit down.

Virginia nods slowly and sits down opposite her mother at the kitchen table.

ELIZABETH
So, uh…

Elizabeth hesitates, but then, rather than speaking, simply pulls the rolled up paintings up from under the table and lets them unroll onto the top of the table.

Virginia’s eyes go wide in terror.

VIRGINIA
I’ve been looking everywhere for those! You – I – you had no right! You can’t -

Virginia hides her face in her hands.

VIRGINIA
Shit. SHIT! Does Dad know?

Elizabeth simply nods.

VIRGINIA
SHIT!

ELIZABETH
Language, Virginia!

There’s silence between them for a few moments, and then Virginia raises her face from her hands, and we see that she is crying.

ELIZABETH
Your father wants you to drop the art class.

VIRGINIA
Please… no…

ELIZABETH
You’ve got to understand what seeing images like this makes us think.

VIRGINIA
They’re just paintings…

Elizabeth puts on a strict tone, but she is clearly working to keep the disapproval in her voice going.

ELIZABETH
Paintings of some pretty despicable things, young lady!

Virginia’s tears increase, and she struggles to speak.

VIRGINIA
I know. I KNOW, ALRIGHT? I just – they make me feel better, they – I don’t know why. But they help.

ELIZABETH
They help with what?

VIRGINIA
With -

But instead of continuing, Virginia just burrows her head into her arms.

ELIZABETH
What is it, honey? You can talk to me.

Virginia’s face emerges once again, now a mask of furious anger.

VIRGINIA
Can I?! That’s not my understanding! That’s not how this works. How this works is, Dad makes the rules, and you just – you just – I don’t know, what do you even do?

ELIZABETH
That’s not fair, I -

VIRGINIA
DO NOTHING! YOU DO NOTHING!!

The outburst stuns them both into silence. The incredible tension hangs in the air for a few moments, before Virginia breaks down.

VIRGINIA
I’m sorry, Mum. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to -

ELIZABETH
No. You’re right. The way your father treats you doesn’t make you happy. And that’s what is most important. Your happiness. I’m sorry I haven’t supported you. It’s time for that to change. Time for you to live a real life.

VIRGINIA
Does that mean -

ELIZABETH
Yeah. You can keep taking the art class.

VIRGINIA
Will Dad…?

ELIZABETH
Let me worry about that.

Virginia bolts out of her chair, around the table and embraces to her mother, resting her head on her mother’s shoulder.

VIRGINIA
Thank you, Mum. Thank you so much.

 

14. INT. HIGHRISE CORPORATE CORNER OFFICE. EVENING

It’s quiet in the office, no other sounds can be heard except for Richard tapping away at a very sleek, thin laptop at his non-descript desk.

The door to the office opens, and Elizabeth enters. She just stands there, barely into the office at all, as the door closes with a thump behind her, and the sound makes Richard finally look up from his computer.

RICHARD
Elizabeth! What are you doing here?

Elizabeth doesn’t respond, just stares at him fiercely. Her eyes are red, she had been crying earlier, but not any more.

RICHARD
Things didn’t go well with Virginia, I take it? I know it must have been hard, but -

ELIZABETH
I told her she could keep the class.

Red hot anger flashes across Richard’s face, and his right hand starts to shake lightly as his visibly tries to control his rage.

RICHARD
You – you – I knew this would happen. This is why I wanted to handle it. I knew you didn’t have the strength.

Elizabeth moves closer to the desk.

ELIZABETH
It’s not strength, Richard. This isn’t making her happy. Our girl deserves to be happy.

Richard sneers.

RICHARD
She deserves to be safe. You might think you’re doing the right thing, but these are sensitive years, if we don’t protect -

ELIZABETH
You mean control.

Richard slams his hand down on the desk.

RICHARD
Call it what you want! She’ll thank us in a few years, when our guidance has paid off.

There’s a slight pleading tone in Elizabeth’s voice now.

ELIZABETH
She’s miserable, Richard. It’s not worth it. She needs her freedom.

RICHARD
I’m sick of this argument already. I’m going to go tell her to drop out of the class, or I’ll ring the school – in fact, I know the principle, I can give him a call RIGHT NOW -

Richard reaches for his mobile in his suit jacket pocket.

ELIZABETH
NO!

Any pleading or bargaining in her tone is gone now, and this loud roar of dissent from Elizabeth startles Richard, and this only enrages him further.

RICHARD
YOU DO NOT RUN THIS FAMILY! THIS IS NOT YOUR DECISION! I AM IN CONTROL HERE!

Elizabeth takes a moment to calm herself, then shakes her head, and smiles just a bit despite herself.

ELIZABETH
Such a goddamn hypocrite…

RICHARD
What are you -

ELIZABETH
I found your stash, you idiot.

RICHARD
Stash?

Richard starts to look worried.

ELIZABETH
The ‘accounts’ box in the living room cupboard.

RICHARD
Ah, fuck.

Richard’s head drops.

ELIZABETH
Yeah, ‘fuck’.

RICHARD
Look, okay, I probably shouldn’t have that stuff -

Elizabeth shakes her head.

ELIZABETH
You know what? I don’t even care about that, really. I don’t give a fuck, you’re not perfect. But the fact that you’ve been keeping that box and holding this strict ‘Christian’ code of conduct over our daughter’s head – making her feel SO GUILTY – at the same time…

RICHARD
I just want to prote-

ELIZABETH
No. No more. I’m tired, I’m so tired of going over this with you, of you pretending you’re some moral crusader. You just want to feel superior, you want control – you fucking disgust me.

The shock of those words hangs in the air for a moment, and it looks like they shocked Elizabeth as much as Richard.

ELIZABETH
This marriage – I know how your circle of ‘friends’ work – you need to preserve this marriage, for your sake, your business’ sake – so you’re going to start treating our daughter right.

Richard is meek now, barely audible.

RICHARD
Yeah. Okay. I’ll work – I’ll try harder.

There’s another long, strained pause.

RICHARD
I lov-

ELIZABETH
NO! Don’t even – just get out.

Richard reluctantly gets up from his desk, and leaves the room. Elizabeth moves over to the desk and sits in Richard’s chair, and slumps on the desk, exhausted, her head resting on folded arms.

The night time cityscape buzzes behind her, but Elizabeth remains still, and quietly starts to cry.

END

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Black and Blue, Matthew Worboys

FADE IN
1. INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT (OUTER ORBIT, 2028)
A double bed bisects the otherwise bare room. The body of a woman occupies one half of the bed. The covers are drawn high over the other half, concealing another body. On the woman’s side, a digital alarm clock emits a soft green onto the girls face. The screen goes from 2:33 to 2:34. As if in response, the girl stirs from her sleep.
She opens an eye. Her pupil grows large in response to the light.

She looks over at the clock. Being careful not to disrupt the body next to her, she slowly swivels her body up, until she sits with her legs over the side of the bed.

The girl, SHARI, is only 24, and she looks it. She has straight brown hair, mid-length, and a face that would be beautiful a few more moments separated from the trauma of waking.

She stands up and undresses. She puts on jeans, a shirt and a jacket, quietly. On the right hand side, she presses a small button. As she does this, the door of the room makes a gentle hiss as it slides open.
Shari exits.

MAN (O.S.)
Wake up. Wake up.

2. INT. WHITE HOUSE BEDROOM – NIGHT (WASHINGTON, 2023)
Black.
MAN
Come on, Shari. Wake up.
Shari opens her eyes. A man stands above the bed. He has his arms on her shoulders. He gently rocks her into waking. The man shaking Shari, CRAIG, looks as young as her. His tight curls hang down over Shari as he bends over her bed.
CRAIG
It’s time to get up.
“5 years earlier” appears on screen.

SHARI
Craig?
CRAIG
Where are your clothes?
SHARI
What are you doing here?
Craig ignores the question. He steps back and turns around. He spots a nearby cupboard, opens it hastily, and looks at its contents.
Shari barely notices. She wipes her eyes.
SHARI (CONT’D)
God, what time is it?
CRAIG
5:30.
Shari squints.
SHARI
You can’t be here, Craig. If my dad finds out…
Craig leans into the cupboard and draws together a handful of clothes. He drops the pile into a large suitcase laying open on the floor.
SHARI (CONT’D)
Craig.
Craig loses his concentration, and looks over at Shari. His face softens.
CRAIG
I’ll explain everything soon, I promise. Get dressed.
Shari looks at him, not convinced, but after a moment, she gets up and runs into the ensuite bathroom, closing the door behind her. Craig continues to search the room. Every now and again he’ll find something, socks, a dress, a photo frame, and throw it into the bag.
SHARI (O.S.)
This surprise better be good. I didn’t get in ‘til three last night.
Craig doesn’t respond.
SHARI (CONT’D)
How dressy should I go?
Beat.
SHARI (O.S.) (CONT’D)
You do remember we have my Dad’s event tomorrow night, right?
Craig puts the finishing touches to the bag, throwing in as much underwear as he can reach. He clicks the bag closed as the door to the bathroom opens.
Shari’s changed into comfortable jeans and a blue top, with a hooded jacket over it.
SHARI (CONT’D)
President’s daughter wags inauguration to sex up boyfriend on weekend away? Imagine the scandal.
CRAIG
He knows I’ve got you.
SHARI
I thought he’d been acting odd the last few days!
CRAIG
We have to go.
SHARI
I haven’t done my makeup y–
Shari turns to go back into the bathroom, but Craig grabs her arm.
CRAIG
Shari. We have to go.
Shari’s brow furrows, but she nods.

3. INT. GYM – NIGHT (OUTER ORBIT, 2028)
Shari sits on a bench, pumping weights. She is breathing heavily and exhales with every rep she does.
Despite the time, she isn’t the only person in the gym. Two other women, KAREN and DEBRA stand on parallel walking machines, chatting. Shari tries not to listen, but they speak loudly and obnoxiously.

KAREN
I’m not saying it won’t be a shock.
The other woman nods, her face red and blotchy.

KAREN (CONT’D)
But an opportunity like this… We can’t just go back to the way things were.
Shari pulls the weights up, once. Twice.
KAREN (CONT’D)
We finally have a level playing field. Ready to build whatever we want.
The other woman takes a drink from her water bottle.
KAREN (CONT’D)
I mean, the circumstances are horrible, I’m not saying they aren’t, but we have a collection of the smartest people ever, right here, and a much smaller pool of competition in any field.
DEBRA
I’m a teacher, Karen.
The first woman scoffs at this reply.
KAREN
A great teacher. You earned your place. That’s more than some on board. At least you didn’t steal a seat.
Debra looks over at Shari, who pretends not to be listening.
DEBRA
Karen…
Karen looks to Shari. She turns up the speed on her treadmill.

 

4. INT. CAR – MORNING (WASHINGTON, 2023)
Craig sits in the driver’s seat, while Shari occupies the passenger side.

SHARI
My God, It’s hot.
Shari goes to put down the window, but Craig locks them from the drivers side. Instead, he turns the air conditioning on. Shari is put off for a second, but doesn’t think twice about it.
SHARI (CONT’D)
You know, I’ve always wanted a Summer wedding.
Craig smiles, another defeated smile.
CRAIG
I remember.
Shari nudges him, playfully.
SHARI
I’d say yes, you know.
Craig doesn’t look away from the road. The car begins to drive up a very large hill.
CRAIG
I know.
Shari smiles, and looks over to Craig. She ponders his face for a second.
SHARI
I need to tell you something.
The car is getting to the apex of the hill now. Craig looks at Shari closely.
CRAIG
What’s up?
Shari looks at him for a second before looking away. The car goes over the top of the hill and starts it’s descent. Shari gasps.
SHARI
LOOK OUT!
Craig slams on his break, hard. The car grinds to a stop. In front of the car is a huge mass of people, seemingly on the verge of rioting. The car has stopped just before impact.
CRAIG
It’s worse than I thought.
Shari is distracted. She’s looking into the sky.
SHARI
What the hell is that?
A giant, pulsating fireball is suspended in the sky, as if a second sun.
Craig puts the car in reverse, backs up about 20 metres, and then stops the car.
CRAIG
Time to go.
SHARI
What the hell is that in the sky.
CRAIG
We’re walking.

5. INT. CAFETERIA – NIGHT (OUTER ORBIT, 2028)
Shari sits at one end of a long table. She holds a grey bowl, filled with what looks to be mushy oatmeal. She places it onto the table, and begins eating.
From behind her, the door to the cafeteria opens. A man, FRANK, enters the room and picks up a bowl. As he places it under a nozzle connected to the wall, the hidden machine begins to whir, and out of the dispenser, the same grey mush pours.
FRANK
Can’t wait to get back to solids.
Shari doesn’t respond. She takes a spoonful of the porridge and eats it. Frank pulls out the chair next to Shari and sits down.
He is tall, well-built, with dark skin. He wears a suit, perfectly fitted to show off his arms and chest. He has a kind smile, which he shows to Shari.
FRANK (CONT’D)
Can’t sleep?
Shari returns his smile halfheartedly.
SHARI
How long now?
Frank looks at his wrist. A golden watch hangs loosely from it.
FRANK
Nine hours off. Maybe ten.
Shari nods.
FRANK (CONT’D)
How’s–
He motions with his head to the door.
SHARI
Fine. Can’t wait to get off the ship, I think.
FRANK
That makes two of us.
Shari smiles, and goes back to eating her porridge. Frank takes a few more mouthfuls. The silence builds up between them. Frank breaks it.
FRANK (CONT’D)
You look frazzled.
Shari looks over at him, her eyebrows raised.
SHARI
It’s nothing. Just something Karen said.
FRANK
Don’t listen to her. The amount of shit that comes out of her mouth sometimes. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ate out of her ass.
Shari laughs, but distantly.
FRANK (CONT’D)
What did she say?
SHARI
Nothing.
Beat.
FRANK
Well for what it’s worth, I think you were put on this ship for a reason. Like the rest of us. You both were.
SHARI
Says the Nobel Prize winning doctor.
Frank laughs sweetly.
FRANK
When all of this settles down, we should get something to eat.
SHARI
We are eating.
Frank dips his spoon into the bowl, raises the contents and turns over the spoon, causing the grew mush to slop back into the bowl. Frank doesn’t respond, but rather looks deeply into her eyes, waiting for a real response.
His face goes from hopeful, to slightly let down.
SHARI (CONT’D)
I should go and get some–
Frank nods, sadly.
FRANK
–Yeah yeah. No. Tomorrow’s gonna be one hell of a day.
He stands up, and without taking his bowl, he leaves the room silently, leaving Shari sitting at the table alone.

6. INT. STREET – MORNING (WASHINGTON, 2023)
The mass of people surrounds Craig and Shari, but Craig fights through them. His hand is wrapped strongly around Shari’s, as he pulls her through the crowd. In Shari’s other hand, she carries her overstuffed suitcase. In Craig’s other hand, a mobile phone, which he holds up to his ear.
CRAIG
(into phone)
We’re 5 away.
Shari struggles to keep up with Craig.
CRAIG (CONT’D)
(into phone)
We’ll meet you there.
Craig hangs up the phone.

SHARI
Craig.
Craig doesn’t stop walking.
SHARI (CONT’D)
Craig. Stop.
He still doesn’t. He pushes past another lot of people.
CRAIG
Keep your head down.

SHARI
STOP!
She pulls her hand away from Craig’s. Craig spins around to look at her, almost angrily.
SHARI (CONT’D)
Tell me what’s happening this instant, or I’m not going any further. This isn’t funny.
Craig’s glare softens almost immediately.
CRAIG
I can’t. You can’t know yet.
SHARI
Please.
Craig sighs, giving in.
CRAIG
Fine, but we have to keep walking. Put your hoodie up.
Shari does as she’s told. She lifts the hoodie of her jacket over her face.
CRAIG (CONT’D)
Come on.
Shari looks over at all of the people around her, pushing at her, pushing at each other. They all seem frightened and anxious. Many are parents, with children either on their shoulders, or following behind them.

CRAIG (CONT’D)
That thing in the sky. It’s coming and It’s going to hit in… soon.
Shari listens intently, with eyes wide. They never stop moving.
CRAIG (CONT’D)
There isn’t much hope.
SHARI
That’s impossible. We… I. I would have heard.
CRAIG
NASA told the Government, and the Government told no-one.
SHARI
Why wouldn’t they–?
CRAIG
–Because they weren’t sure. Not One hundred percent. They didn’t know whether it would hit us, or not.
SHARI
But they didn’t tell anyone?
Craig sighs.
CRAIG
They didn’t want to end the world before… you know…
SHARI
I don’t.. I can’t believe y–
CRAIG
–So instead, they built a ship. A ship big enough for a hundred, two hundred people.
SHARI
A spaceship?
CRAIG
The ship would sail out on the brink of space for as long as it could. As long as it could last. And then it would come back, after the dust had settled.
SHARI
What does that have to do with me.
CRAIG
Because the ship is here.
SHARI
Did dad tell you this?
Craig nods. Shari looks around at the large crowds of yelling people.
SHARI (CONT’D)
Are all of these people–?
Craig nods again.
SHARI (CONT’D)
And will they–?
Craig shakes his head.
CRAIG
There’s just no room. Two hundred of the worlds best and brightest were chosen in secret and told to be here on this day.
SHARI
And us?
Craig smiles at her, sadly.
CRAIG
Being the president’s daughter has its perks, I think.

 

7. EXT. DOCK ENTRANCE – MORNING
They reach the police block. At first, they are denied entry by a uniformed officer, but a man in a black suit approaches them. He flashes his badge at the officer.
MAN IN BLACK
Don’t worry, officer. I’ll take it from here.
The officer stands aside.

MAN IN BLACK (CONT’D)
If you’d be so kind as to step this way.
Shari steps forward over the police barricade. The man in black helps her over. Shari pulls at Craig’s hand, to help him over as well, but he doesn’t budge.
SHARI
Come on. We have to find my father.
Shari pulls again, but Craig stands strong.
CRAIGS
Shari.
SHARI
What?
CRAIG
Your father decided to stay. He’s off being president somewhere.
Shari’s eyes begin to well up.
SHARI
I don’t understand. Why didn’t you bring any luggage?
CRAIG
There was only one place. A place for your father.
Small tears begins to fall on Shari’s cheeks now.
SHARI
No. I won’t.
CRAIG
He gave it to you.
SHARI
I won’t. I don’t want to.
CRAIG
You don’t have a choice.
The man in black places his hand on Shari’s back.
MAN IN BLACK
It’s time to go, miss.
Thick, mascara-laden tears now stream down Shari’s face.
SHARI
No. Please. You have to come.
CRAIG
There’s no room for me.
SHARI
(screaming)
Take it. Take my seat. I don’t want it.
Craig looks at Shari for an extended second. He looks into her eyes. He then looks at the building behind her, and straight back to her.
CRAIG
Bye.
MAN IN BLACK
I’m sorry. It’s time to go.
Shari attempts to climb back over the police barricade, but the suited man stops her by placing both his hands on her shoulders.

MAN IN BLACK (CONT’D)
I’m sorry.
SHARI
(screaming)
No. No. I won’t go. NO!
Her cries are loud and heavy now. She’s fighting with the man holding her, but he’s just too strong. He lifts her up and begins to walk into the building.
SHARI (CONT’D)
(screaming)
No!!! Please don’t make me. I can’t do this without you. Please! We need you!
Craig looks on as the distraught girl begins to cry louder and louder, screaming for him. His eyes begin to well up. The man walks up the stairs, undisturbed by the writhing girl in his arms. The door to the skyscraper slides open, and the man walks through it, with Shari still in his arms, fighting to get back to the man she loves. She never makes it. The door closes behind them.
CUT TO:
BLACK.

 

8. INT. SHIP LOOKOUT – NIGHT (OUTER ORBIT, 2028)
The interior of the lookout is metal and more metal. Shari stands on a grated surface looking out of a large thick glass window. Outside is nothing but space and stars. In the centre of the view though, is a large blue planet, with specks of green and brown. It looks like a floating jewel suspended in nothing, sparkling in the sun’s rays.
Shari looks out at it coldly, with no emotion. She’s lost in thought.
The sound of a sliding door echoes off the walls behind her. She doesn’t turn around at first.
Two pairs of walking feet clink on the metal grating. One pair hard, the other soft. A young girls voice sounds.
YOUNG GIRL
Mummy!
Shari turns around.
KAREN
There you are.
Karen stands at the door next to a small child, who appears to be about four, with long dark brown hair. The girl wears a night gown far too big for her. Shari wipes a her wet eyes and sniffs. She clears her throat.
SHARI
Yeah, honey?
KAREN
I found your little stowaway wandering the corridors.
YOUNG GIRL
I couldn’t sleep, mummy.
Shari holds out her arms, and the girl runs into them. Karen walks up behind Shari. Shari looks at Karen sternly.
SHARI
Thank you.
Through pursed lips, Karen makes a noise of disapproval. She puts her hand on Shari’s shoulder and pushes down softly.
KAREN
Keep a closer eye on your daughter, Shari. The fates brought her here. They could take her away.
Karen begins walking out the room.
SHARI
Stay here, baby.
She puts her daughter down, and spins on her heels, walking after Karen.
SHARI (CONT’D)
Karen.

 

9. INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT (OUTER ORBIT, 2026)
Karen turns around.
KAREN
Yes?
With all of her might, Shari SLAPS Karen across the cheek. Karen looks back at her, horrified. Her cheek stains red.
SHARI
I’m done with people telling me what to do.
Karen whimpers, and turns around. She limps away, holding the cheek with her hand.
Shari watches her go.
10. INT. SHIP HULL – NIGHT
Shari enters the room again, and walks over to the girl. She picks her up as before. The girl’s eyes are transfixed on the giant blue-green gem in the sky. Shari is as well.
YOUNG GIRL
Is that where we are going?
Shari nods slowly.

YOUNG GIRL (CONT’D)
Have you been there before?
SHARI
(quietly)
Once. A very long time ago.
YOUNG GIRL
Is it nice there?
Shari looks through the glass at the blue planet. She wonders.
FADE TO:
BLACK.
FADE OUT

THE END

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