Category Archives: Uncategorized

Self-Extinction – Emerson Cassidy

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

Download a PDF of ‘Self-Extinction’

Self-Extinction – Emerson Cassidy

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

Download a PDF of ‘Self-Extinction’

Tagged , , ,

Gaymergate, James Renshaw

 

Get triggered by my bara-tiddy worship,

a can’t-unsee in your rule34 search –

the SFM McHanzo ship too stronk

for a bronze-tier tinder dudebro. Yeah

I’ll find someone like you raging on

a dell fit for CS:GO.

 

You’ve programmed me to be a lurkr,

an NPC following custom Dank Souls

rules, forever fucked in the faget spam –

teabags with the hacker’s headshot

(git gud) (deal with it), and

crackles of your e-peen playback

from a booth-babe Razer headset.

 

Are you in a monochrome cult classic

closed convention for the nerds who

grew up gains, and for those devolved

into fedora goblins – pimple neckbeards –

double-teaming G.I.R.Ls just so long

as you can common ground the cleavage

of Lara Croft’s supple poly prisms?

 

(I’ll bet you’d find them moist)

 

I can just feel your hands now: sticky –

bad handling of the pre-cream n’ tissues –

glossed over with the dirt of Doritos

and a fine Mountain Dew finish,

ready for some low-key ERP

STR8 hero fapfests in a hetero World

of Warcraft –

 

your fantasy; you know we’re living

a testosterone conundrum:

dat male blood-elf ass barrage,

all deez beefs and swole, and waves

after endless waves of orc cock

capping your daily quest logs.

 

But you’re salty. You can’t even

reality; butthurt that Bioware bitches

can warp the conversation wheels

and mod a man from your head

canon into the nope-depths

of the online dark side.

 

Welcome. Login

to the Grindr app crossover –

your sacred mancave backdoor’d

by the furfags and double rainbows;

you know what it means. ParTy up

and protect your fragile masculinity

from my emoji raids, encrypted:

1. SMiley2. Eggplant3. point4. OK

inb4 the Tumblrina cries, inb4

the Reddit downvote karma-fire,

before the 4chan trolls swarm,

doxx and DDoS with unsolicited

rootkit dick pics. GTFO

or get rekt.

 

 

Tagged , , , ,

Vainthrow, Nicolas Fuentes

The takeover was swift and precise. It only took three days for the Liberstats government to impose their rule over the citizens of Vainthrow. All it took was a firing of flares and the power fetish of one man, the ruthless dictator President Kithgo. October 28th of 2057 marked day one, the beginning of a new period for the city’s citizens. Vainthrow – a city marked by its obsession with technology, where street signs are holographic, and goods are distributed through self-service kiosks. Fronted by Kithgo, once a Lieutenant of the tactics division within the military, the Liberstats announced their plans for the city’s future. To ensure civility and compliance with the new regime, Kithgo deployed the disciplinarians to patrol the streets. They represented the regime’s most faithful adherents and were to occupy their thoughts with one sole aim – guard Kithgo’s revolution. Equipped with a precision rifle, Vainthrow’s citizens were coerced into compliance by the disciplinarians.

On the large digital screen attached to the skyscraper of Titan Industries, the pale face of the President appeared. In a repressed compliance, those being held captive in the plaza looked upward at the screen with looks of horror. Drones filmed the central plaza address to ensure that viewers at home would not miss this pivotal moment in Vainthrow’s history.

 

‘People of Vainthrow,

What you just witnessed was my fireworks display to you. A heartfelt welcome to you and the new era of civilisation we are about to embark on. In close alliance with science giant Titan Industries, we have developed a new system of living. It will alter you both physically and psychologically in a way that is, simply – better. Remain calm and follow the instructions. Let the disciplinarians be your guide…’

 

*

 

Richard is an elderly man. He lives life on his lonesome after his wife fell victim to a deadly brain tumour. Richard longed for an extension of his life, for he felt that his time had been misspent. He devoted his entire life to working as a risk analyst inthe finance department of Titan Industries. He would often clock sixty-hour working weeks, spending too much of his time inside the office at the expense of seeing his grandchildren grow up. On the day of the takeover, Richard was at home pruning the weeds of his home’s garden bed. The violent explosion startled him and caused him to drop his hedge clippers and turn his attention to the smoke trail rising in the distance. Grabbing his cane, Richard hobbled his way into their modest sized home and switched on the daily news on his television. On the screen, Richard set his eyes on the following address by Kithgow:

 

‘… A turn of events, my people of Vainthrow. The Liberstats have partnered with Titan Industries, the forerunner in scientific innovation. As we both only want to advance human welfare, we created a dual-system of sorts…’

 

Richard had a vague idea what this was about. During his employment at Titan, he had overheard conversations about controversial tests being conducted in the Labyrinth. While biological ethicists had expressed their concerns, the financial and political might of the Liberstats was far too strong for the dissenters.

 

‘…The transfiguration pods – these capsules give you the power to control your physical appearance. They are also designed to add anywhere between sixteen and nineteen years to your life. For your convenience, we have organised courtesy trams to the GRIDS, the sites where these pods are placed. Upon completing this mandatory transfiguration, all citizens will be distributed an iD-Chip, a handheld device that must be possessed at all times. Please proceed to the GRIDS immediately. Failure to do so will result in forced evacuation.’

- K

 

Richard stared at the television screen in disbelief. What had his city become? He had several questions, yet the state of limbo he was in delivered him no answers. He knew of the atrocities that Kithgo had committed in the past. Whether it was the Grand Massacre that took place during the War of 2042, or experimentation on the debilitated at the close of the war, stories of Kithgo’s war crimes were common folklore in Vainthrow. Staring on, Richard observed the imagery captured by the flying drones. The plaza was unidentifiable. The fountain which once rhythmically spurted out water at the plaza’s centre had been covered by smog. He vaguely made out faces of desperation as they stood helplessly at the behest of individuals dressed in a khaki green. To Richard, this entire event resembled a military coup. He looked onward at the screen to see the disciplinarians holding necks in headlocks and small children being dragged without care. Bodies were being ushered into semi-trailers and driven to a place unknown to him. The media outlets reported the following:

 

‘MASSACRE AT VAINTHROW: LIBERSTATS RULE BY FORCE’

 

*

 

Richard’s eyes awoke to see the GRID site. He had been smothered and taken there after a disciplinarian knocked at his home’s door. Surrounding him were people seemingly embracing the idea of transfiguration by the pod. The CPU, on the pod’s exterior, allowed people to choose their new appearance. Each veiled by a thick white tarp and manned by a Liberstats disciplinarian. Those that waited their turn were not permitted to see their neighbours during the process. They would wait in confinement bays, fed glug and water by the authorities and instructed to wait patiently, sometimes days. Upon leaving the pod, people were given their handheld iD-Chip and sent back to their homes via the trams. From there, citizens had to follow the instructions on the iD-Chip’s screen and continue living their days.

Richard was called to one of the pods. ‘Richard… Alright, old man, you get one shot. What’s it going to be?’ Dressed in the khaki colours and proudly displaying the freedom stars of the Liberstats, the disciplinarian talked down at Richard’s frail stature. Richard fixed his eyes on the CPU screen and attempted to make sense of the prompts. ‘Just press the features you want, old mutt. You telling me you don’t know tech?’ Ignoring the reproaches, Richard perused through the list of features he could select for himself. A large part of him was curious about the process, reasoning that at last there was some excitement in his otherwise empty life. HAIR: luscious golden locks, or perhaps a simple, slick back? His hair was silver and thinning so he could do with a younger look. TORSO: a broad set of athletic shoulders, that ought to do it. After finalising all the essentials, Richard arrived at the most important consideration – AGE LIKENESS. ‘Hurry up old timer! We’re on a tight schedule here, and you ain’t got any special privileges to be taking longer just because your hair is falling out’.

With caution, Richard typed 3-5 into the CPU and waited for the avatar of him to emerge on the screen. Projected on the CPU screen was a digital Richard, five decades younger and sporting a neat, slicked back hairdo. The squiggly indents on his forehead had disappeared, and his frame appeared reasonably muscled. While Richard felt deeply anguished by the political state of Vainthrow, a tiny fragment of his was thrilled with the prospect of added years. At this point, his curiosity had taken over, for he had not yet seen how people were emerging on the southern side. Standing behind a thick steel slab, Richard stripped himself of his clothes and placed them in a bucket labelled “CLOTHING DEPOSITS”. He lethargically carried his bony frame into the confined space of the pod. Numerous suction pads attached to dangling wires hung from the pod’s ceiling. On the pod’s back wall were fastened platinum shackles, one at the neckline and two presumably for the wrists. Lastly, there was a heavy leather belt that appeared to belong to the waist line. ‘Alright old man, you ready yet?’ Called the disciplinarian. Richard responded with a croaky affirmation. Richard was ordered to stand at the back wall. The disciplinarian affixed each suction pad to his body, one at each of his droopy nipples and one at the sternum. The belt was fastened tightly around his waist and, at disciplinarian’s press of a button, the neck shackle loosely pulled his throat to the wall. It wasn’t far off from a strangle hold. ‘We will meet again on the southern side, old man.’

 

*

 

‘Greetings, #471, welcome to your new life, a world of possibility. All you need to rememb — or – shall I say, do, is to follow the prompts on your viewfinder. Here is your ID-Chip, with compliments from President Kithgo and the Liberstats’. Richard was handed a handheld device with a screen. He noticed that the digits “471” were etched onto the plastic. He ignored a prompt on the screen to follow an introductory video, putting it aside for later. These GRID encampments were on the desolate outskirts of Vainthrow and all that Richard could see was the barren land on the horizon. They were a one-hour tram ride from the city centre which allowed for enough secrecy and continual surveillance. A faint call was heard in the distance to return to the tram station. Richard sluggishly followed the marked signs and returned to the arrival point, an area which he had no recollection of. Confusion immediately overcame him as he tried to make sense of his surroundings in a trance-like state. He felt blank, and it seemed that, at this point, that was all he was capable of feeling. As he entered the tram, he was met by the stares of unfamiliar people. Fellow human beings, but he had no label for them. It was as if he was processing information for the first time.

On the way back to the city centre, an announcement began to play through the loudspeaker inside the tram. Richard perplexed alongside the convoy of bodies left in waiting, listened attentively to the words spoken. ‘It is normal to feel dazed. This is new territory for you. Once you arrive home, get some rest. The turn of tomorrow will come and a new day awaits. Further instructions will appear on your iD-Chip.’ Richard looked down at his iD-Chip with its confusing list of functions and operations. The tram moved at its forty kilometres an hour as Richard sat idly staring out the tram window into nothingness. It seemed that everyone in the tram shared his confusion.

 

*

 

The tram re-entered the residential district of Vainthrow and began to disembark the Vainthrow citizens. Each seated passenger looked out the glass window as the disciplinarian led each passenger back into their home. The return journey from GRID was made in complete silence. In between curious glances at the unfamiliar outside, passengers fixed their sights on screens of their iD-Chips. Recurring footage of turmoil and suffering met them. There were moving images of yelping mothers crying out for their infants, as well as a frame of an elderly woman trapped in the firm grip of a disciplinarian. It was difficult to bear the images of these people squirming for their survival. The subtext reeled at the bottom of the viewfinder screen:

‘THE EMANCIPATION: LIBERSTATS’ FIGHT TO VICTORY’

Richard mused over the tragedy of it all. He could only hope that he would never have to encounter anything like it in his lifetime.

 

*

 

The tram pulled up on Richard’s Street. He was led back inside his family home by a Liberstats disciplinarian. He opened the front gate and walked down the narrow strip of asphalt that led to the front door. Still rattled by his surroundings, Richard asked the disciplinarian ‘Where are we and what are we doing here?’ The Liberstats guide told him not to worry and commanded him to enter the dwelling. He explained that the only thing that Richard ought to worry about is following the instructions on the iD-Chip’s viewfinder. ‘This is a prosperous time. Consider yourself fortunate, #471.’ Richard could not understand why he should feel this gratitude and, more importantly, what this iD-Chip even was. He entered the home and scanned the first room. His eyes met an impressive mahogany bookshelf positioned in the far left corner. Richard sluggishly moved over to the bookshelf to examine it. ‘#471, we recommend you rest your body. You ought to lie down and shut your eyes.’ The digits 4-7-1 echoed in Richard’s mind.

Images faced him as he approached the bookshelf. On the upper timber shelf lay a bundle of photos. Richard perused through them, processing the information contained therein. An image of an elegant lady, approximately in her mid-thirties, wearing a silky white gown. The silken fabric left a trail and extended behind her. It was the most beautiful image he had seen in his lifetime. She was clenching a bundle of flowers; a feature he had observed while walking into his home only moments ago. He wondered why she would pluck them from his front lawn. Beneath the image of the elegant figure lay another. He saw a man and a woman standing side by side, one with its arm extended around the shoulder of the other. They stared back at him with a joyful expression. Flipping the image on its back, its reverse side read:

 

Wilma and Richard – 50 Year Wedding Anniversary at Vainthrow Cottage

21st February 2057

 

Richard put both photos into his trouser pockets without the disciplinarian noticing him. His eyelids had become heavy and were beginning to close in on themselves. He determined the carpet to be a suitable resting spot and so without hesitation; #471 dozed off.

 

*

 

Awoken by the sound of the iD-Chip, #471 rose from a deep sleep cycle. An announcement came through the viewfinder and the face of President Kithgo propped up on the screen. ‘As you have hopefully read by now, it is government policy that you maintain a faithful record of the places you visit and the people you interact with. Use the camera inbuilt to the iD-Chip. Data collection makes us better.

An hour later, #471 ventured out of the unknown dwelling. The sun shone brightly, and the streets filled with others walking with their eyes immersed in their viewfinder. #471 remembered Kithgo’s instruction and took out the iD-Chip. The two photos he snatched earlier emerged as well. #471 withdrew them and curiously studied them. His eyes gazed at the two figures dressed in their formal attire, a male wearing a suit and tie with his arm around the shoulder of what appeared to be his wife. Something seemed strange in these images. Upon leaving the front walkway, as instructed, he switched on the iD-Chip’s camera to record his daily events. #471 pondered the photograph again. Wife…

He aimed the lens at the street and took a snapshot of the holographic street sign. Instantaneously, the iD-Chip assigned a default label to the photo:

 

No. 471: Memory #1

Download a PDF of ‘Vainthrow’

Tagged , , , , ,

Excerpts from Teagan’s Notebook – Age 15, Elizabeth Claire Alberts

 

Writing

 

My grandma tells me I’m crazy

for writing poetry,

she tells my parents they’re crazy

for running a bookshop,

for home schooling me,

for letting me waste time

collecting words in spiral-bound notebooks.

 

But I don’t care what Grandma Hartigan thinks

because I know that I would die if I couldn’t

put pen to paper, that my organs and my bones

would actually implode, and my muscles and skin

would cave in, and I would be nothing but

a twitching puddle of guts and gore.

 

So that’s why I’m writing now:

bedroom door shut, toes curled

into my blue cotton bedspread,

writing fast feelings for Jon,

this guy who took me out

never returned my calls, the creep

said my dark curls needed

something stronger than hair gel.

 

I’m searching for the right words,

the right rhythm, the right form

when my door bursts open.

My pen streaks

across the page.

 

My mom, palms pressing into narrow hips,

meets my eyes with a glare.

 

You’re supposed to knock, I yell,

slamming my notebook shut,

shoving it under a pillow.

 

Didn’t I ask you to help me

wash dishes, Teagan?

 

Hang on. I’ll be there in a sec.

 

Dad would never intrude on me like this.

He knows writing is more oxygen to me

     than air.

He knows the web of quiet I need

     to spin around me.

 

He understands my dreams

     of writing a full collection of poetry,

     of seeing my poems published

     in a glossy covered book someday.

He’s the one who tells me

     to keep hold of my dreams

     as he lives his own dream

     of owning and running a bookshop.

 

No hang on – now, Teagan, Mom says.

You know your responsibilities.

 

Before I can whine another word,

Mom whips around and goes,

leaving my door open,

  scattering

       my thoughts

away.

 

 

Where We Live

 

Crystal Tower Condos

The Perfect Place

For You and Your Family.

That’s what the billboard sign says

near the entrance by the pool

 

Perfect for some people I guess

perfect for pressed-suit professionals

who work overtime

perfect for well-to-dos

who own another home in the suburbs

perfect for people who hire

dog walkers and nannies and cleaners

but not so perfect

for

us

 

Grandma Hartigan bought this place

for Mom and Dad before I was born

two bedroom

one and a half bathroom condo

on the fifth floor of a high rise tower

in Arlington, Virginia’s Crystal City

just south of downtown Washington DC

 

Perhaps it would be perfect for us

if we weren’t home all the time

Mom and Dad have home schooled me

since I was eight

taking turns teaching me
(Mom in the morning

Dad in the afternoon)

while the other works

at Hooked on Books

our family-owned bookshop

 

Perhaps it would be perfect

if the traffic ever stopped

on the street below

if the other high-rise tower didn’t block

the mid-day sun

if the air conditioner didn’t always break

if our books didn’t overflow

the shelf space

 

Don’t get me wrong

there are things I love

about our home

the nearby metro stop

the long wide balcony

that stretches into the sky

the fact that Mom and Dad have let me

decorate my room with posters

and pictures and dream catchers

that they never make me

tidy up my books and clothes

 

But sometimes I dream of a yard

rooms like run-on sentences

windows that open on four sides

 

We’ll get out of here soon

Dad always says

But soon never comes

and we are always

still

here

 

 

Last Bookshop in Virginia: A Syllabic Poem

 

I hurry out to help Mom,

darting down the hall, whirling

around the frayed and sagging

tan linen couch, where Dad sits

 

staring into his laptop,

looking like he’s trying to

read some book written in a

language other than English.

 

Mom greets me with a tight-lipped

look. You wash. I’ll dry, she says,

handing me a soggy sponge

and two yellow rubber gloves.

 

I dunk plates and forks and knives

into the soapy water,

scour grease and veggie scraps

from the oily frypan.

 

I am washing the last thing –

the tin Mom used to make bread –

when Dad clunks down his laptop

and staggers to the kitchen.

 

He leans into the counter

above the sink, and at first

he doesn’t say anything.

But then he draws in a breath

 

as if he were trying to

suck all the wind from the sky.

I just read the news, he says.

Read About It is closing.

 

What? You’re kidding, Mom breathes out.

letting her blue-plaid tea towel

drop to the floor. Even I

stop what I’m doing, gulp in

 

air. I don’t need to ask what

this means. I already know

that independent bookshops

in this country are dying

 

faster than summer mayflies.

I know Read About It was

the only other indie

bookshop in all of DC,

 

and that our bookshop is now

the last one in Virginia,

the last one in DC, and

probably one of the last

 

in the whole United States.

I hold in my breath, hold in

my words, stare at the crinkles

caked in Dad’s forehead, and scrub.

 

Why Bookstore Business Blows in 2014

 

Dad blames our location on a too-quiet corner on a not-so-busy street in Arlington, Virginia, the cracked and bumpy sidewalk, the bad parking, our rusty Hooked on Books sign, the non-stop traffic, the techno music blasting from the shop three doors down, the oak tree that blocks our entrance with its green-gold leaves, Ruperto, our Pilipino landlord, who won’t let us break our lease so we can move the bookstore somewhere else, and of course the big Barnes & Noble store nearby and the online book stores (although Mom says they’re not doing well, too).

Mom accuses the U.S. economy, the world recessions, how everyday things like bread and apples and toilet paper and shampoo have all shot through the roof, not to mention that it’s almost cheaper to go on a luxury Tahitian cruise every week than to own a car, and the pesky new carbon tax that’s made printed books extra expensive which is probably why we never see our once-loyal customers like Mrs. Benson and her three daughters and the school librarian Mr. Edwards who used to buy hundreds of dollars of books, and of course those Kindles and Nooks and iPads which have made it cheap as buying McDonald’s French Fries to download e-books.

The Channel 9 anchor woman reports a different story, of rising illiteracy, changing values, how recent studies have shown that Americans in 2014 now have approximately two and a half minutes per day to read since we’re too busy with multiple jobs and overtime and how we get caught in traffic jams and crowded trains just to come home to a dusty house, dirty dishes, drippy children, bills, laundry, and even kids are more stressed these days, with studies showing that average homework loads have doubled in the past twenty years. And besides, the anchor woman says, pulling out a white handkerchief from the inside pocket of her Chanel suit jacket to wipe the sweat off her brow, Who even wants to spend all that time filling our heads with made-up stories and ideas, when our heads are full enough as it is?

 

Download a pdf of Excerpts from Teagan’s Notebook – Age 15

Tagged , , , , ,