There was always something that I wasn’t quite happy with. I liked the vagueness of the narrative. I liked the dream like quality. I liked the open ended questions. But I thought I was done and those were just the doubts of every writer and I had to stop tinkering. So I wrapped it up and put it to bed and in time I convinced myself it was done
It seems it was not done with me.
A few weeks ago I met a new friend a potential partner in crime in my nefarious plan to turn my scripts into short films. or perhaps a comic.
We sat down in a cold pub on a cold day and chatted about what we liked and got on and he offered his take on my scripts. He warned me that he would be brutally honest and he was. Brutal. Indeed. The younger me would have been offended. I would have argued defensively but he had put a finger on some of the exact same issues I had and some that I was quite honestly unable to see. I agreed with some, argued with others. But it was good that I had met someone who would speak his mind and challenge the process.
Strangely this was one of the scripts we barely scratched. One of the scripts that seemed most complete. It was only when I was thinking about the others that I realised what was bothering me about this script. Strange how that works. You go for a walk to solve one problem and come back with a solution for a dozen others.
So this is the result of that. As some of you will know, I do listen. I do go back and tinker and tweak my stories from time to time. This one however, deserved a whole new post to it’s self. I will keep the old script here. For now.
I hope you enjoy this. I really feel this final <cough!> version closes the circle without losing the dream quality I love. It ads some little flourishes and a couple of pages but I’m sure you’ll find it a refreshing read.
Until the next time.
Artificial Stars in a Neon Sky
Recommended for 15+
What do you see? Do you see?
Yes Mamma. It’s beautiful.
FLASH/INSERT – A man having a terrible dream.
Nothing but darkness and the sound of that bad dream
FLASH The boy being soothed by his mother.
INTER-CUT with the Man…
Sssh you’re having a another bad dream.
INT. OURMAN’S APARTMENT – MORNING. VERY EARLY.
The small bedside lamp illuminates OURMAN as he tosses and turns in his cot.
MOTHER’s hand soothes his shoulder…
Ourman turns to face her…
But she’s just a dream.
WE HEAR a electronic bleep that announces his personal assistant A.I.
You have 23 minutes before your alarm goes off. Would you like me to dispense a mild sedative?
Would you like me to prepare breakfast?
Would you like to tell me about your dreams?
He looks around his tiny utilitarian flat. He realises he’s not going back to sleep now.
67.5 per cent of citizens surveyed indicated that participation in dream analysis improves personal well being and productivity. Do you want to talk about your dream?
He gets up and walks the three feet to the bathroom and enters.
His back protrudes out of the minuscule bathroom that is barely the size of a wardrobe and functionally looks like it was ripped out of an now defunct aircraft. The taps work almost as well.
Lights! … Damn!
WE HEAR plastic and metal being smashed.
WE SEE a flash, the glimpse of a bathroom illuminated like a startled deer in a photographer’s flash.
WE SEE another flash – this one the spark of an arc of momentary electricity as OURMAN electrocutes himself.
He falls back into his apartment…
On his back…
Slamming into the floor.
Slamming his head.
CUT TO BLACK:
There’s a long pause before… (ALL V.O.)
(like an old recording)
How many of them are there?
More than anyone can count.
Do you want to talk about your dreams?
You think we’ll visit them? … You think we’ll ever land on another planet?
WE HEAR a slight electronic ping.
Dialling local medical authority. Please stand by…
INT. THE MALL – DAY.
Ourman stands alone in a sea of busy people, rushing with purpose, alone in thought. Out of place but in the way.
He stands there obstinately refusing to go with the flow. The sea of people made up of those hustling along, all dressed differently but somehow the same.
On his head a small bandage. An insignificant bump.
Scattered around The Mall, Burly armoured security officers observe the traffic. Ourman observes one officer pick someone out the crowd and scan their ID.
Ourman turns and walks out of the river of hurried souls…
…to a shop window filled with discount delights.
He presses his nose against the glass,lost in thought staring through the toy shop window, staring at the blister pack of “glow in the dark stars”.
INT. THE BOSS’S OFFICE – LATER.
Ourman is standing on the weak side of THE BOSS’s desk, allowing the tirade of abuse to be thrown at him.
Ourman zones out so that the sweaty man’s rant becomes a buzz of mumbling gibberish.
The hum of the Air-con unit becomes a pleasant distraction.
The hum becomes a rattle.
Then it increases…
The screws vibrating themselves free.
The rattle becomes a violent vibration and the room starts to shake…
… As his Boss rants in silent slow-motion unaware of the dust and debris falling around him.
The lights in the bland office spark…
The Boss continues his tirade uninterrupted merely raising his voice to counter what sounds like an incoming train.
All of a sudden there is silence.
You hear me? Are you even listening?
A Chinese dragon flames lapping out of it nostrils, rips through the office wall and gobbles up his Boss and exits through the opposite wall. Leaving behind a cartoon-like bite out of the office space revealing hissing pipes, sparking power cables and a uninterrupted view of the night sky.
A single tear runs down the cheek of OURMAN.
EXT. BOOTLEGGERS MARKET – NIGHT.
Ourman is looking around the market amongst the filth and the dirt. The market looks for all the world like the hastily cobbled together stalls of a music festival that was abandoned decades ago, but now refuses to pack up and leave.
The people down here are not as well dressed as the mall people and have their own kind of hurry. Hungry and poor they do seem happier then the mall dwellers or maybe they just have a better sense of irony.
Out of nowhere, THE KID knocks into Ourman who doesn’t react, except to check his pockets as The Kid runs off.
The Kid joins his mate wearing a playboy bunny T-shirt (BUNNY). Together they perform an elaborate game of “steal the food parcel”.
Bunny plays obvious and loud.
The Kid plays it cool until he sees all eyes are on Bunny then he lifts the package, then both dart back into the crowd.
A GYPSY WOMAN calls out to Ourman. He ignores the gnarled woman and moves on.
But she doesn’t give up and follows like a bad smell.
She walks in parallel putting market sellers and their wares between them or is it Ourman putting in distance. She rushes ahead and blocks his path, planting a greasy hand on his chest.
I have what you want.
Ourman looks at her for a moment but doesn’t reply.
GYPSY WOMAN (CONT’D)
No point reading your future.
Ourman keeps walking. The Gypsy comes over to him, blocking his way and grabs his arm with a vice like strength.
GYPSY WOMAN (CONT’D)
The fat man has what you asked for.
INT. THE MALL – DAY.
Ourman carries a large brown parcel under his arm. He moves with the current of Mall Dwellers but is frustrated – now they move too slow.
The Kid appears out of nowhere and runs right in the path of Ourman and bouncing off Ourman sending the Kid Flailing to the ground.
Ourman steps out of the stream of people and goes to help the kid.
You can’t use it. You mustn’t use it.
Bunny snatches the parcel from Ourman and tries to escape with it, heading for an open vent. Bunny runs and dodges the crowd with the energy of his namesake on an early summer morning.
Ourman holds onto The Kid as he struggles to release himself from the Man’s iron grip. Bunny barely a metre away from an open vent, slides under the legs of his final human obstruction and disappears into the vent with the parcel.
Ourman turns to The Kid and for the first time we see real emotion in his face – deep anger.
A small metal canister sails over the crowd and bounces into the open vent.
WE HEAR the clink-clink of the grenade bouncing to a halt on metal grates.
WE HEAR a tiny BLEEP.
Smoke slowly bellows out of the hole literally smoking out the now choking Bunny, pushing the box out ahead of him.
Heavy black boots step into frame revealing their owner – a security officer in full riot gear.
Bunny starts to protest but a second security officer in identical armour Tasers the lad into a quivering semi-coma.
Ourman turns his gaze back to The Kid he’s still holding onto. The Kid’s bravado all gone, the Man releases his grip and lets the kid go whos dashes off without another thought.
FIRST SECURITY OFFICER
Hey you Citizen. Wait there!
The First Security Officer goes off after the kid. The Second positions a cordon around the Bunny and signals to Ourman to explain himself. Ourman doesn’t see this he just stares at the open, shocked eyes of the still twitching Bunny.
FADE TO BLACK:
INT. OURMAN’S APARTMENT – NIGHT.
OURMAN, barefoot, sits on his bed staring into nothing. The Parcel, unopened, next to him.
WEE SEE his studio apartment. Now fully illuminated. The underlying structure of the fixtures and fittings is utilitarian. It’s former life looks like it was once an office or something pressed out of a machine.
Here and there Ourman’s homely touches. A collection of cacti where your would imagine there should be a fire. Old plastic toys, framed national geographic pictures of magnificent Earth skies. Day, night – all beautiful. In the centre of the room a large fake wool rug holds the Man’s unlaced high-tops and socks.
Ourman gets up and tries the handle of his apartment, but it is locked. Behind him the view screen illuminates into life.
You are under 48 hour house arrest for aiding a criminal activity, pursuant to the outland citizen act of 2117. Any attempt to break house arrest will result in criminal proceedings. Penalties including a reduction in citizenship privileges, a fine representative of two years pay and a possible cryo-sentence of 3 to 5 years. Would you like to speak with a legal representative? You are reminded that doing so in no way implicates your guilt.
This message is brought to you by Monsanto-Smithkline, a family business. Have a nice day.
Another of A.I.MEE’s bleeps closes out the message and her tone immediately changes.
What you like a refreshment?
The screen watches him as Ourman goes back to the bed and looks at the parcel. There’s a large stamp on it that reads “Scanned for Possible Security Risk”.
The parcel has been opened and resealed without care for the contents. Ourman slowly unwraps the brown paper and reveals a solid plastic box.
A few dents and burns but the box is intact.
Ourman struggles to find a way into the box, but does so and finds crumpled up balls of paper protecting another box inside.
He takes the inner box out. This one too is wrapped in paper. Resealed too.
He takes this out and turns the box over. Gives it a little rattle. Nothing.
Again he takes off the paper, throws it onto the floor with the rest of the wrapping and opens the new box.
Inside…more paper…and another box.
This continues a few times until Ourman is left with a large pile of wrapping paper, balls of crumpled newspaper and 6 boxes all progressively smaller.
The last box he holds in his hands – a tiny cigar box.
Ourman opens the box and inside is a receipt. On the receipt is a hand written smiley face and a thank you.
Ourman angrily throws the box against the door, setting off the house arrest message.
Man walks to pick up the pieces of the box and starts to put the pieces back together. He stares at the piles of rubbish on the floor
…and sees something.
INT. THE FATMAN’S BAZAAR – NIGHT.
I gave you what you asked for?
Ourman grabs the FATMAN’s tie and slams his face down on the desk.
And you have my receipt?
Again Ourman slams the Fatman’s face into the desk.
You know without a receipt or the item in question the machine will not allow a refund…
Ourman goes to slam the Fatman again but…
No. No. Enough. Christ. This nose cost me a pretty fortune. Now it’s broken. I don’t understand. I gave you what you wanted and you lost it.
Ourman says nothing
Why would I risk my reputation and stiff you? I may be many things but my word is my business.
Ourman notices that everything has gone deadly quiet. Too quiet.
Help. He’s trying to kill me. Help me.
EXT. THE FATMAN’S BAZAAR – NIGHT.
Three Security Officers storm the bazaar to see the Fatman lifting his head up off the desk – nose all bloody. The curtain behind him flutters like someone has just left. Only an empty remains where ourman was moments before.
Two officers go after him – one stays behind.
Ow my nose!
The third officer stares with indifference at the Fatman.
Tell me the truth…is it bad?
EXT. BOOTLEGGERS MARKET – NIGHT.
Ourman runs through the crowd. Chased by the two Security Officers.
As he runs he pushes people over, throwing stalls, pots, anything to slow his pursers down in a desperate bid to get away. The Officers in their heavy armour find it hard to dodge the items, but they are still close behind.
The crowd opens up allowing Ourman a free run to an storm drain half buried in the ground. The crowd assists Ourman by throwing objects at the officers, momentarily slowing security down.
This works for a moment until the Officers start shooting Taser bolts into the crowd sending random bystanders into spasms of electrified convulsions.
Ourman slides into the exit tunnel, slams the grate behind him and is gone.
The security officers stop at the grate careful prodding the gate open, peering cautiously inside.
Both commit to the chase and start stripping their armour off.
WE HEAR their Comms bleep.
Yes Sir. He’s in the tunnels. Sorry sir? Yes sir.
Officer One looks to his partner.
OFFICER ONE (CONT’D)
We gotta report back. Call it off.
Call it off.
Officer Two is pissed. Really Pissed. He tasers a groggy bystander back to the floor but it doesn’t help his mood.
INT. OURMAN’S APARTMENT – LATER.
The door swings open and Ourman walks in barefoot, boots in hand, muddy and literally covered in shit. He goes to the tiny bath and starts washing the crud off himself.
Blood streams down his leg into the plug hole, mingling with the grime of the tunnels.
WE FLASH/INTERCUT to his’s daydreams of the night sky. Boy looks up at Mother as she stares through a telescope, ignoring the child.
She finds what she’s look for and guides the kids eye to the tiny white spot in the sky
The boy looks through the telescope.
You think we’ll ever get there?
Ourman looks at the dirt washing down the sink.
He takes a pinch and rubs it between his fingers.
WE SEE a FLASH of a memory as he remembers sand squishing between the toes of the boy.
He goes to one of his shoes and looks inside.
Pours out a little yellow sand into his hand.
Like when he was a boy.
He looks around his apartment and sees the cactus in its pot.
The boy having a bad dream – his Mother soothing him.
The kid doesn’t answer her, doesn’t waken.
Shh my Baby boy.
The bright eyes of the Dragon hurtles towards us, smoke bellows from his nose. Teeth razor sharp.
EXT. OURMAN’S APARTMENT – NIGHT.
He marches out of the apartment with a bag strapped to his back.
We see little of his environment some kind of tenement block. Like old school Kowloon.
He keeps his head down avoiding the gaze of Black Clad Security.
He turns a corner and…
EXT. THE LOWERS – CONTINUOUS
Ourman looks around WE SEE what he See’s a mini construction site.
It’s cordoned off.
There’s a pile of material repairing a cement wall.
Including a pile of sand.
Ourman going to and fro – the pile of sand.
The bag getting heavier on the way back.
We do this a few times.
And a few times more.
The night increasingly becomes day.
EXT. OURMAN’S APARTMENT – MORNING.
Back at his door Ourman fiddles with his pass key.
His nosy NEIGHBOUR pokes her head out.
He ignores her.
His bag has a hole.
And it’s leaking.
He sees that she sees.
He find his pass key and lets himself into his apartment.
INT. OURMAN’S APARTMENT – CONTINUOUS.
Ourman showers in the cramped bathroom.
Eyes open now.
He steps out of the shower and runs his hand over his newly shaved head. Clean at last.
His room is now a mess. All his stuff that was once neatly arranged is now pushed to one side of the room.
He looks down at his feet a pile of old newspapers and magazines and the empty box.
In the corner of the room a large pile of sand.
He stares at it all for a long time.
Then in the mess of his room, he sees something…
He studies the paper a little and it reveals itself to be a newspaper clipping.
Something about it upsets Ourman and he turns to slam it on the wall now covered in the scraps of paper from the boxes.
THE BOX which is now open ended facing him.
A collage of articles stuck to the wall all are about various ecological disasters, nuclear accidents, man made catastrophes. We don’t focus. It is there, subtle, in the back ground if you’re really watching.
The Video screen comes on.
You seem to be experiencing unusual emotional activity. Would you like to talk about it?
Ourman looks at the box.
Would you like to talk about it?
The empty box.
The open side deep and dark.
Mute. … Shutdown.
I really think you should talk about it?
Ourman’s gaze is now diving into the box.
Mute. … Shutdown.
It would help. Can I recommend a health care professional sub-routine?
He turns to face the screen…
I am… worried about you…
FLASH of a MEMORY…
The screen flickers up a moment with Boys face.
Man picks up the cactus and throws the plant pot at the screen.
For a moment he is shocked…
but only for a moment.
He begins to smash up his room.
INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE MANS APARTMENT – SHORTLY AFTER
They are all the same.
Rows upon rows of identical cubicles, rundown and stacked together like mismanaged jenga pieces.
Neighbours either side of his apartment and all along the landing poke their head out of their rooms to see what the noise is. A door swings open and broken bits and pieces of Ourman’s apartment fly out and crash onto the walkway.
Then it all stops.
The neighbours lean in.
Another item careens out of Ourman’s Apartment and another…
The violent excommunication of Ourman’s property continues until there seems to be nothing else that can be thrown out.
Including bits of A.I.MEE.
Ourman walks out of his apartment. The Nosy neighbour steps forward.
Are you throwing this stuff out?
INT. THE SHOPPING MALL – NIGHT.
Ourman, hidden in the shadows, watches the sealed off vent where Bunny was gassed out.
The angle of the vent exactly like the empty box.
A night Security officer, less armoured much older and fatter than previous examples, walks past as Ourman retreats into the darkness a little more until security has gone.
WE SEE the vent rattle a little. Something inside pushes the vent out – struggling with it unable to budge it.
Tiny little fingers push through the mesh and violently fight with the mesh to no avail.
The fingers disappear and WE HEAR muffled swearing.
A swift kick of a boot kicks the grill out clattering onto the malls walkway.
Two arguing kids push out the box – the original box and quickly head over to where Ourman is hiding.
Ourman retreats into the darkness and back into the corridor only to have his exit blocked by a gang of kids headed up by The Kid.
Ourman looks at the gang weighing up whether he could take them all. He turns his attention back to the The Kid.
Give me the box.
Really? Give me the box? Can’t have it not yours. Property of the revolution now.
Ourman just looks at them – This is the revolution?
THE KID (CONT’D)
You fucking people make me sick. Consume and devour that’s all you know. Fucking arseholes. Look around. Look at the world you created. You happy?
No answer from Ourman.
THE KID (CONT’D)
It’s your generation’s fault that we’ve ended up here. Trapped like rats. Subdued by your ego and your endless dissatisfaction and greed. Pushing your crap down the line til the line ran out.
Ourman is unmoved.
THE KID (CONT’D)
Why you want the box? You can’t use what’s inside. You know that don’t you?
THE KID (CONT’D)
Fuck you old man. I should drop you where you stand.
Give me the box.
No pleases or thank yous? Give me one good reason why I should even entertain the idea of giving you the box.
Ourman leans in close to The Kid – putting “The Revolutionaries” on edge. The Kid signals them to be be cool.
Ourman then whispers to kid.
His words unheard to us,
But understood by the kid.
THE KID (CONT’D)
You can’t use it old man. You know that don’t you.
Ourman doesn’t care.
THE KID (CONT’D)
(To his henchman)
Give him the box
THE KIDS HENCHMAN
Give him the fucking box.
The Kids’s henchman does so and Ourman leaves.
THE KIDS HENCHMAN
Why’d you give him the box?
The Kid watches Ourman leave.
You can’t fix what’s broken.
Ourman keeps walking.
THE KID (CONT’D)
When it’s finished with him, we won’t need it anymore.
INT. THE APARTMENT – SOME TIME LATER
On the floor, Naked with his back to us, Ourman solders the last component onto the unseen device. A wisp of solder smoke snakes up towards the smoke sensor in the ceiling. Before it has a chance to set of the sensor a polystyrene cup is slammed over it – the layers of tape, crushed lip is held in place until a new temporary fix can be applied.
WE SEE the room is now stripped bare.
The sand pile all but gone. Spread out across the floor.
WE HEAR the door alarm go off and on the broken plexiglass split screen CCTV images of a Pair of Security Officers and Ourman’s nagging Neighbour bending their electronic ears about her “Horrible neighbour”.
Ourman doesn’t answer. Security 1 pushes The Neighbour back as she continues to rant – He speaking into his radio for instructions. Security 2 impatiently bangs on the door.
WE SEE the apartments door has been welded shut and two gas bottles standing by the door.
Ourman gets up ignoring the banging and sticks another glow-in-the- dark-star to the black ceiling where it joins a myriad of other stars – all of various shapes and sizes.
He wiggles his toes in the sand and smiles.
Ourman takes the still unseen device and plugs into the jumbled guts of cables now spilling out of the apartments wall onto the floor.
Carefully he positions the device to face him and he switches it on.
He steps back into the furthest corner and waits.
XCU almost macro of tightly wound coil of slowly warming wire. Inert Black turns white as decades of dust and neglect are burned away.
Slowly we begin to DOLLY OUT in time with the gently warming coils. The smoke ends and the now white blue steel becomes a dull red.
WE HEAR the analogue PING of components and cold metal come to life as the dull red becomes brighter and brighter.
As we continue to DOLLY OUT the three bar electric heater comes to life. The bright warm glow and heat illuminating Ourman’s apartment and body and WE SEE wonderful vibrant colours spread as the room heats up.
We didn’t notice it before but everything was so mute. Almost monotone. Now we see colour like we are seeing colour for the first time.
Ourman closes his eyes and we now see Ourman is standing in his own replication of a desert morning. The Stars Glow above. The walls are not black but deep blue of the most beautiful skies. The electric heater as it warms, mimics the rising of the sun.
We continue to Dolly out past Ourman, as the walls of his apartment seem to disappear. We get lost in his fantasy as he gets lost in his desert. A Desert of his creation.
We keep going and going. The “sun” keeps rises. The stars move across the sky making room for the sun until all we see is desert. We are transformed. and the room melts away and truly become what he imagines.
And as we pull back he slowly shrinks into the expanding desert and we see just how beautiful it all is.
And we pull out.
Through the Plexiglass window of his apartment.
One of many.
But only his so radiant.
And we glide out reveal more of this apartment block…
Only it’s not…
WE SEE we’ve been on a space station the whole time. Ourman’s city block just one arm of a giant spoke in an even greater wheel watched over by a ravaged Earth.
And there, from where we came from, a now tiny explosion bellows into space.
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