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.



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.


Hunted by what remains.


CRUNCH. A boot appears, crushing the iPhone.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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


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.



Now listen.


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


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.



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.





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.



I’m not like them.


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



But we were born in the same fashion.


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.



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.



You said you’re similar to them.

Anna leans closer to Brian



What does that mean?


Brian takes a deep breath, and sits up straighter.



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.



Alright. By why are you different?



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.



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.



They were people. Those creatures?



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.



(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.







That’s my name.



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.



So… Do I get to hear your story?



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


Brian slows his pace.



And before that?



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.



No parents?



I’ve learned to take care of myself.

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





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.



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


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


Hey! what are you looking for?

Where are you planning on going?!



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.



How do you know?



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.




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.



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.





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.


So what are you? Some kind of god.




I’m no god.

(Looking at Anna)

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



You’ve killed those beasts?



It affects them differently.



What about your chest? What happened there?



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.



We have to find cover. Fast.



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



Come here. Trust Me.


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





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


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.



Damn it.


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



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.



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.



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.




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.



Don’t move. The floor–


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




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.



What happened to you?




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


Brian scurries about the room. Anna looks confused.





Brian turns to her.



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






I’m going to kill them… and us.



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.



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.



You’re mad!



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.



Then why did you save me?



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.




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



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.



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.




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.



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.


Download a PDF of ‘Self-Extinction’

Us In January – Steven O’Mara


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.





Yeah, we should quit.



Kate stamps out the cigarette butt on the ground.



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



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



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.



(Whispering to Alana)

What do you think she’s in for?



Kate, you’re actually despicable.



(Mock outrage)

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



Alana Webster?


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



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.



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



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



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.



Uh, family.



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



So what do I have?


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



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.



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.



I’m liking this sympathy.



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.



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.



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.



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


Alana snaps out of a haze. Normal colour returns.



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.





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.



Do I know you from somewhere?



…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.





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.




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.



You fucking druggie.


Alana chokes down two oblong orange pills. She smiles at

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



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.




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:



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.



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.



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.



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



This isn’t very precise, is it?


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



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.



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.



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.



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.



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



Okay, we have your second adjustment configured.



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.



Now I’m too tired.



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.



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



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


Alana walks out of frame to keep shopping.



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



Third adjustment…



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.



…skin problems…



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.



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.



Mood swings.



Fifth adjustment. Sixth adjustment.


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



Visions. Suicidal thoughts.



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.



Alana’s rash.


The broken jar.


Excessive sleep.


Vomiting naked with the shower still running.


The mirror vision.



Crying in the car.





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 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.





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



Alana? I’ve got something for you!


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



(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.




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.



Fuck, Alana. Have you taken al-



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.



Why did you throw them?



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.



INT. THERAPIST’S OFFICE – DAY                                 12


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

Dr Campbell is visibly intimidated.



This is highly unorthodox.



I can’t do this again without her here.


Kate smiles over at Alana.



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.



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



So what do we do?


Dr. Campbell shifts uncomfortably. He hesitates his words.



Electroconvulsive therapy is the standard in cases like these.


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



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



…and the other half?


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



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


Kate looks over to Alana.



…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.



What. The. Fuck.


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



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



Not funny.


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.



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.



You seem very familiar.



(with a heavy Spanish accent)

I get that a lot.



Will it hurt?



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



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.



Do you have a history of seizures?




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





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.



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


The screen nods up and down.



Ten, nine,


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



eight, seven, six,


Edges become soft, light becomes dim.



five… four…



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.



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.



Look at what I got for you.


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



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.



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.








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