14/04/2017

Perish Part V


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Let's finish...

INT. IRON LIVING QUARTERS - MORNING

Iron blows his whistle. Everyone salutes.

IRON

Let's go, fuckers. You know the drill.

Everyone starts getting changed.

Jim stands still a moment.

CUT TO:

INT. THE GORGE

Jim is stood back on the platform in the void. He stands alone with his blue sword practicing the maneuvers.

CUT TO:

INT. IRON LIVING QUARTERS - MORNING

Jim starts pulling his clothes on.

EXT. COURTYARD - DAY

Iron's men are lined up, shooting at the wall of bags with the targets painted on, silver powder cascading endlessly.

INT. TRAINING HALL - DAY

The men play a systematic game of C and I. Both teams work as units to defend and attack.

INT. TRAINING HALL - DAY

More death training, but the men are taking it in their stride. It still hurts, but they fight as hard as the can as to not show any pain.

Jim's features let nothing through, his face stone as he lies paralysed.

INT. RECREATION HALL - DAY

Jim plays dodgeball with the rest of the men. He plays aggressively and is deadly accurate.

With each hit he wants to throw harder. He wants to kill with the dodgeball and is frustrated each time he doesn't.

INT. THE GORGE

On the platform, Jim has defeated his creature. Its limbs are strewn all over the place. Jim is drenched in its blue blood.

He's not done with the creature though, he screams out in anguish and starts hammering at the dead corpse.

Soon his anguish fades into frustrated sorrow, he stops beating the dead creature, looking off to the distance, waiting for the telephone.

JIM

COME ON!

The handset flies in and knocks Jim off the platform into the blue abyss...

INT. IRON LIVING QUARTERS - MORNING

Iron blows his whistle, the men immediately salute and start getting dressed.

INT. MESS HALL - MORNING

Jim downs a shot of Elvish Liquor and slams his glass down.

CUT TO:

BAM

Another.

CUT TO:

BAM

Another.

CUT TO:

BAM

Jim downs another shot, the glass ringing from impact, his face vacant.

INT. IRON LIVING QUARTERS - NIGHT

Jim sleeps with the goggles on, eyes open, bloodshot and focused.

INT. THE GORGE

Falling, all emotion fades from Jim's face as the drop anaesthetises.

FADE TO:

EXT. COURTYARD - DAY

The courtyard is empty, all is calm. Over the wall rests a lush world of virescent life and azure lights.

A door opens up in the wall and in marches Iron's men.

They march in perfect synchrony and chant in anger:

MEN

(repeatedly)

I have not changed! I will not change! I cannot change!

Iron orders the men to stop. They stomp and salute.

IRON

Help me, Christ, these boys are starting to scare me! Rip! Step forward.

Rip steps forward and salutes.

IRON

Rip, can you smell that?

RIP

No.

IRON

You've gotten too honest. I'll ask again. Can you smell that?

RIP

Yes.

IRON

What is that smell?

RIP

Iron?

IRON

That's more like it. The smell that is thick in the air right now is death. Rip, who's dying?

RIP

Maybell.

IRON

Not yet, but we hope so. The answer is still that you do not know. You do not give two fucks. You haven't got a single fuck to give. Rip, you are on the precipice of an end. With you stands Perish Men and Maybell alike. Tell me this, Rip, who are you fighting for?

Rip shakes his head.

IRON

I won't be listening, but an answer would be polite.

Rip shrugs his shoulders, bewildered as always.

IRON

(exasperated sigh)

Get back.

(Rip does)

Jim.

Jim steps forward and salutes.

IRON

Jim, what are you fighting for?

JIM

That's none of your business, Iron.

IRON

Damn true, but I'm still asking.

Jim keeps his chin up, saying nothing. Iron grows frustrated.

IRON

If you had balls I'd rip them off and make bad soup with them. Give me an answer!

Jim shakes his head, no.

IRON

What!?

BAM

Iron slaps Jim across the face almost knocking his head off.

IRON

What's got you wound up so tight!? You want to scream some more!?

Jim says nothing.

IRON

Well!?

JIM

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGGG...

Jim screams as hard and for as long as he can.

The men look on unimpressed. Lolita sneers.

IRON

(screaming back:)

Step back into line.

Jim falls into ranks.

IRON

Muffin.

Muffin steps forward.

IRON

What's the story?

Reluctant...

MUFFIN

... my mother.

IRON

Your mother what? She thinks you're a throw away too? Is that why she sent you here!?

MUFFIN

I don't know.

IRON

I think you do.

Muffin shakes his head.

IRON

I think you do. Come on, tell me!

There's a long awkward silence as Iron waits for an answer.

INT. IRON LIVING QUARTERS - NIGHT

Jim watches Muffin in the corner of his eye as he sits on his bed and takes his boots off.

RIP

I can't wait to put this training into action, man.

JIM

You're not afraid of dying?

RIP

Not right now. Not whilst I wait. I'm telling you, every night I slay at least a dozen of those Maybell fuckers. I bet you ain't even seen one, let alone killed any.

JIM

You got me.

RIP

I'm telling you, man, I'm pumped.

Rip, clearly in much better shape than all those months ago, bounces up and down then opens his footlocker to produce his goggles.

JIM

Day ten.

RIP

Day ten? Never heard of it.

Jim lies back in bed.

RIP

Day ten? The Gorge don't work for you, man, the stuff is addictive. Yours must be broken.

JIM

They're fine.

Jim leans out of his bed and gets his goggles from his footlocker.

RIP

(tapping Jim's shoulder)

Sweet dreams.

Rip goes off to chat with Juels, Megatron and so on.

Jim waits for him to go then puts the goggles under his pillow.

The lights dim.

CUT TO:

Blinding white bursts.

The light soothes, a pure crisp blanket turning transparent.

Waves undulate below, oscillating lines pushing through the white light as a fabric pattern is revealed...

The pattern comes into focus, the criss-crossing texture of blue-white denim.

The seat of jean pants hit wood; a boy sat on the floor.

Looking past his ear, a blurred figure takes a seat on a chair before him.

Female hands come to a fret board. Her smile stretches...

... as does the little boys.

She starts playing, fingers gliding up the fret board effortlessly, strings letting loose their swift legato tune that changes tone as it descends, moving from light to sombre, slowing into a melancholic chord progression...

CUT TO:

Old hands grip the back of a checkered shirt.

A man's hand brushes her silver over her ear so he may inaudibly say a thank you.

The elderly lady's lips kiss the young man's cheek.

INT. WORK SHOP

Sand rests over the floor.

F-F-FRUMP

Dropped wood sends it into a billowing cloud...

A young man's hands clean the large blocks of wood, running cloth over the maple, the mahogany, the rosewood...

A motor sputters then roars to life.

A cheap bandsaw blade bites and a rugged sander grinds.

Pencil scratches marks over the light maple grain.

The lumber slides along the steel bed of the bandsaw, sawdust swelling as the blade cuts through the wood.

Calm, concentrated, the hands guide the wood, slicing clean sheets just under an inch thick

The mechanical sander grates wood into shape.

The teeth continue to eat through more wood...

CUT TO:

The woman's fingers pluck the strings, chords singing their sad tune.

CUT TO:

Glue glissades down a wooden edge.

Two thin, flat boards come together, edge-to-edge, glue squeezing up from their meeting seam.

The hands spin a vice closed.

Thin boards of mahogany are placed into a tub of water.

A pencil traces the outline of a guitar body over one pair of glued maple boards, then a second.

A thick tube of steel connected to a stand that's clamped to a table burns hot.

A jig is prepped. Internal clamps meet the external case the shape of a guitar body.

The mahogany boards are taken out of the tub.

TSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

The hands press the mahogany onto the piping tube, bending the lumber, water vapour wisping...

CUT TO:

Fingers transition through a pensive chord progression before fluidly sliding into more complex legato.

CUT TO:

The mahogany is placed into the jig, now the shape of an acoustic guitar's ribs.

The hands lace kerfing, wood with many incisions along its face to give it flexibility, along the inside of the shaped mahogany.

The teeth of the bandsaw chew on maple again.

The top sound board of an acoustic guitar and its accompanying back are sanded down and cleaned up.

A chisel hammers into the maple. A file grinds out a perfect circle in the sound board - its sound hole.

The chisel then goes to work around the hole, creating a rosette trench, one that's filled in with mahogany sawdust and glue.

Bracings are laid down over the sound board and guitar back to provide structure and tone.

A thin blade cuts into the glued-down braces, shaping them further...

CUT TO:

The woman's song slows toward a stop.

The jeans sat on the carpet begin to slide.

The figure the boy watches is masked with intensifying light.

CUT TO:

A guitar neck is whittled out of a new block of mahogany.

A thin slab of rosewood glides over the mechanical sander.

A spokeshave worked by the man's calloused hands gives a radius to the back of the guitar neck.

A chisel digs a channel along the flat face.

Files smooth out the forming neck, finessing the curve and shaping the heel that joins the neck to the body.

The sound board and back plate are glued into position on the sides of the guitar in the jig.

Mahogany binding is set along the ridges of the now almost formed body.

Fine teeth of a handsaw meet the face of the rosewood board, setting trenches for the frets.

A drill grinds out fret marker holes that are filled with small silver discs.

Fret wire is hammered onto the rosewood.

The heel of the guitar slots into holes on the top of the fully formed guitar body.

CUT TO:

The jeans continue to slide over the wooden floorboards, away from the intensifying light.

CUT TO:

Holes are drilled into the guitar's headstock for the tuning pegs.

The hands smooth out the entirety of the guitar body with sand paper.

A mahogany bridge is pinned to the maple soundboard.

Tuning pegs are fixed into the headstock.

Cloth runs lacker over the body and neck, the varnish leaving a warm glow on the wood.

Strings sweep through the bridge placements and over the saddle.

Their shadows bumps up finished fretboard.

The man's fingers spin the tuning pegs.

CUT TO:

Panicked, the boy gets up. He runs toward the receding light, its song gone.

CUT TO:

The elderly woman closes the young man's hand over a broken wrist band.

CUT TO:

The white light waned, the boy is left standing before the woman's guitar left leant against the stool.

He runs out of the room and after her.

INT. BEDROOM

The fabric wristband dangles from Jim's guitar. He sits on his bed, poised to play.

White socks, the feet of a young woman, stand before Jim. She sits, crossing her legs.

His eyes close.

CUT TO:

A spider crawls past the woman's guitar stood against the stool.

CUT TO:

The boy stands at an open door flooded with blinding light.

The elderly lady's hand grabs his arm.

INT. BEDROOM

The old hands still grip Jim's arm as he sits on his bed. They tug, yank and pull, but Jim refuses to respond.

CUT TO:

Jim stares out of his bedroom window, the old woman's hand on his shoulder.

Her mouth moves desperately, her words inaudible as she pleads.

He stares outward vacantly, numb.

INT. IRON LIVING QUARTERS - MORNING

Jim calmly awakens in his bed.

The room is static and empty, no one else is about.

He stretches and looks around, not sure if he's still dreaming.

Jim then swings his legs off the bed, his goggles falling to the floor.

He gets up and kicks them under the bed.

INT. MESS HALL - MORNING

Empty.

INT. GYM - MORNING

Dressed, Jim walks in, met by the light, cheerful chatter of about ten men.

Jim approaches Muffin who's lying on one of the bleachers talking to Wendy.

JIM

Hey, what's going on?

MUFFIN

Huh?

JIM

What's going on?

MUFFIN

Jim, right?

JIM

Yeah.

MUFFIN

You're one spaced out motherfucker. I don't know how you get away with that shit.

JIM

Yeah, well...

MUFFIN

This mother's out of the game, man.

He taps Wendy and they both laugh.

WENDY

Ain't got shit to do today, man. Tomorrow's final assessment.

MUFFIN

See what I mean? Spaced out as fuck. Hey, Jim, what's the date today?

Jim shrugs his shoulders.

MUFFIN

What month is it then?

Jim turns to leave.

MUFFIN

The year at least...

Jim walks out of the gym with Wendy and Muffin laughing to each other.

EXT. COURTYARD - MORNING

The courtyard is packed with men sunbathing, chatting in the light breeze.

Jim looks around for Rip but can't see him anywhere. He pivots, lost.

Without much else to do, Jim lies on the warm concrete and closes his eyes.

EXT. COURTYARD - LATER

Jim is awakened by dozens of men walking by him. They are all filing into the exit bay.

Jim gets to his feet and follows the crowd.

INT. MESS HALL - DAY

Jim walks in with the masses of excited men. They all scramble to get a seat at the conveyor belt.

Jim scans the room and finds Rip with an empty seat next to him, gesturing him over. He takes it.

RIP

Fucking chairs. I feel like a king, man. A fucking king.

Jim simply smiles in response.

Plates of roast dinners start pouring out on the conveyor belt. The men watch plate after plate of chicken, beef, turkey, potatoes, carrots, peas, gravy... pass, practically drooling.

An excited buzz fills the air. The plates start passing Jim and Rip, they watch in silence and with dire yearning.

The conveyor belt stops. The buzz instantly cuts out. The men dig in. The only sounds to be heard are of chomping, chewing and crunching.

INT. MESS HALL - LATER

The meal's coming to a close. Rip pushes around the last of the veg on his plate.

RIP

Hey, um... Lolita's been stirring. He's saying--

JIM

There's no need. I don't need warning, you don't need look after me.

Rip just leaves it at that, finishing the food on his plate.

Jim catches Lolita's eye across the room. Lolita menacingly (as menacingly as he can manage) nods his way. Jim nods back.

RIP

What you going to do?

Jim shrugs.

RIP

(sighs)

Either way, he said he wants to meet you...

INT. BATHROOM - LATER

Jim enters looking around. Lolita leans against one of the back walls. They stare at one another, Lolita trying to be as intimidating as possible again, Jim standing up to it.

JIM

What's your obsession?

LOLITA

I don't like you, man. Simple as.

He punches one of the stall doors and...

LOLITA

AAAAAAAAAAARRGG!!

... screams.

LOLITA

You don't hate me!?

Jim shrugs as if the question's absurd.

LOLITA

You're not one of those Jesus-Gandhi fucking liars are you? You care about world peace? Your fellow man?

Jim shakes his head, no.

LOLITA

One of those progressive, let it go, assholes?

Jim shrugs, indifferent.

LOLITA

What the fuck is your issue then, you slimy, cunt-dodging, fuck-worm?

JIM

Same as you. I got some prick thinking he's comparable to me.

LOLITA

I'm not good enough for your attention!?

BAM

He punches the door again. Jim doesn't flinch.

LOLITA (CONT'D)

Hey!?

JIM

If you've got an issue, come and face it. I'm here aren't I?

LOLITA

It wouldn't be enough, man.

JIM

What's gonna do it?

Lolita paces, his anger preventing the words from surfacing.

LOLITA

You fuck my face up! My mother cries when I tell her I'm doing good here. She saw my face and it went. No respect! What the fuck is that?

JIM

Hey... I'm not gonna come and hug you and shit. You're an asshole. No amount of mummy issues is stopping that.

Lolita stares at him, fuming. Jim goes to walk out.

LOLITA

That's not it! Fuck my mother. You know what I've learnt here? I don't like civilisation. I don't like democracy. I don't like social constriction. I'm mad. I wanna fuckin' fight. I want... something...

Jim turns back.

JIM

Yeah?

LOLITA

Fucking...

Lolita gets hyped up, actually smiling, growling as he jumps about, punching walls.

Jim's infected with the aggression. His face contorts. He nods, exhaling fury, murderous intent.

They go at each other, Lolita immediately throwing a hook.

BOOM

Jim reels away, slipping the next hook and tackling him into a stall door.

In a violent mess on the floor, Lolita grabs Jim's head and knees him in the face. Jim blocks, holding the knee in place, the two struggling.

Taking the dirty opening, Jim sinks his teeth into Lolita's thigh.

Yelling, Lolita punches his back, pulling away.

The two get to their feet, take a breath, then...

LOLITA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAA...

JIM

AAAAAAAAAAAAARRG...

... run at each other...

INT. BEDROOM

The curtains dance around Jim, an elderly lady at his back, hand on his shoulder, trying to get his attention.

With peaceful resolve, Jim turns his eyes from the window and to the hand on his shoulder.

The young man's hand takes the elderly lady's.

EXT. COURTYARD - DAY

Jim, bruises swelling across his face, sleeps in the sun next to Rip who drones on about something.

INT. IRON LIVING QUARTERS - NIGHT

Jim lies awake in bed. Each and every other man flinches in their sleep with their goggles on.

He looks to Lolita's bed, he sleeps soundly, equally bruised.

Jim lies back, features placid, mulling things over.

INT. IRON LIVING QUARTERS - MORNING

Iron blows his whistle and the men wake, stood up.

They salute and then get dressed.

EXT. COURTYARD - DAY

All two-hundred men stand in new armour, it's slick and light, padded with black fabric, with their gloves and swords equipped. Iron and the nine other team leaders stand before them.

IRON

Honour and distinction. From whose eyes are you honourable? And from who are you distinct? Two questions you men must ask yourselves. Pessimistic and optimistic existentialism are the source of all emotion. Happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger and disgust. What makes us feel is our capacity to open and close our eyes. You men should know no happiness, surprise or sadness. Keep your eyes open and let anger, disgust and fear guide you. Nobody survived a battle when sad, happy or surprised. Maybe you'll learn that today.

(beat)

We'll do this in our teams, so follow your team leader.

Iron starts marching toward the door opening up in the wall surrounding the courtyard, his men follow. Behind them comes Spit and his team and so on.

Jim marches in formation, weapons equipped, bruised features hard.

EXT. BEYOND THE WALLS - DAY

Through the doors Iron's men emerge into the tunnels cut through the dense forest, very little light getting through the low canopy, the air thick and humid.

There's a divergence in the tunnel, on one side is a marker reading mile zero, on the other there is no sign. Iron takes this path.

After a few twists and turns the men come to a clearing. In the middle of the clearing is a metal shack that goes under ground.

The doors open up and Iron walks into the darkness. The men file in behind him two at a time.

INT. TUNNEL

Jim enters with Rip.

As soon as Jim is in, Rip's engulfed in complete darkness.

He daren't stop though. Unsure, he marches on.

A dull light signals the end of the tunnel, an opening into the forest. Jim speeds up into a jog.

EXT. FOREST

Jim emerges from the tunnel to find his team, no Iron, in a circle around a small light stuck in the ground. He quickly joins them, exchanging neutral nods with Lolita as he comes, and squats in silence as a few others join.

Jim's eyes wander:

The forest they're in is not the one outside Perish's courtyard. The trees are tall, the air is warm and open, allowing him to peer quite a way through the trees until darkness eventually shrouds.

Turning his eyes upward, Jim's eyes scan the hazy sky. He blinks then rubs his eyes. Peering up again, the sky remains out of focus, the weak sun seemingly translucent.

Soon there's twenty men squatting in a circle.

PAN

Is everyone here?

Everyone looks around.

RIP

I think so.

MUFFIN

All right, how are we going to do this?

WENDY

Four teams of five? North, east, south, west?

RIP

That makes sense. We move out from this beacon about a quarter of a klick and establish perimeters. They should be moving to this point any time soon.

PARAMECIUM

Are you sure we shouldn't stick together as a unit?

PAN

Fuck defence!

RIP

Yeah, fuck defence. I say we go on the attack. Meet them head on and smash the fucking life out of them.

WENDY

Everyone agreed?

Nobody shakes their head, but some nod.

RIP

(standing)

All right. We follow procedures, three-two-three in alpha-Yaga. We cool?

Everyone nods.

RIP

Ok. Split. I'm going north.

Rip pulls a compass out of his pocket and starts off northward. Jim and three others follow: Paramecium, Megatron and Juels.

They all stay in a line, keeping their distance from one another and their eyes open.

Each team disperses.

EXT. FOREST - LATER

Rip's troop walk in the same formation, their guards slightly down. Looking up through the branches, Paramecium wanders closer to Jim.

RIP

Keep yourselves spread out.

Paramecium and Jim distance themselves.

PARAMECIUM

Rip?

He makes brief eye contact.

PARAMECIUM

What's the deal here?

RIP

We retake the forest.

JIM

(to himself)

It's hardly infested.

PARAMECIUM

I mean--

All the light is sucked out of the forest, the blue sky above gone, leaving nothing more than a few metres ahead visible.

RIP

Shh...

Paramecium, Megatron, Juels and Rip move closer to one another. They try and peer as far into the darkness ahead as they can.

Jim follows as they trudge forward, watching their backs.

From somewhere in the darkness pushes forward a squeaky inhalation that sounds like a finger being run down a window.

Paramecium, Megatron, Juels and Rip point their fingers around in the darkness before converging their aim to some place they presume the sound originated from.

Jim stands still, not entirely afraid, curious.

Another inhalation.

The troop grow fearful. They have no idea where the sound came from, but daren't vocalise their unknowing.

Jim turns in circles.

All that can be heard is the sound of his footsteps as he turns.

RIP

(whispering)

Be still.

Jim stops.

RIP

Shh...

There's a long, awkward silence, fingers pointed, no one confident of why.

RIP

(whispering)

Ok. Now listen... we're about a minute's marching distance from our quarter-klick P-O-D.

(point-of-destination)

We'll stop here, so move into formation. Break.

Without a blink Paramecium and Rip move left to a nearby tree. Megatron and Juels get into cover by another tree to the right, leaving Jim to squat behind tree just before him.

Gloves at the ready, each man kneels silently in cover, trying to get a sense of what lurks in the darkness.

Stiff shadow shimmers against stiff shadow as gazes track, but, nothing moves.

Rip waves to get the attention of Juels on the left. He then signals with his hand a zero then a V (zero visual). Juels signals back with a 0-V.

Rip touches his finger to his forehead then taps his tree twice. Juels nods then whispers into Megatron's ear. Rip signals an ok to Jim to make sure he saw the message. Jim signals ok and Rip runs, Paramecium at his back with one hand on his shoulder and another on his sword.

They stop after they pass two trees and squat for cover.

Seeing the two stop, Juels and Megatron make their run, past two trees and into cover.

Jim leans out from behind his trunk, seeing them in position, and is about to start forward when--

A breath breaks the silence, another squeaky inhalation from the gloom.

Rip signals for Jim to halt.

Everyone leans out of cover, gloves pointed, finger-tips glowing, searching...

Paramecium's lips tremble as he mumbles to himself...

Silence...

The creatures breathes again, closer.

Stricken with fear, Paramecium mouths 'bang'--

B-BOOOOOOOOOOOOM

A tree trunk explodes, blown to pieces...

BOOOOOOOOOOOOM

... and falls with Earth-shuddering force.

Silence...

RIP

(whispering)

Did you see anything?

Paramecium doesn't answer, just keeps his guard up.

Juels waves to Rip then holds his finger and thumb in a circle over his eye, asking if there was a visual.

Rip holds his closed fist, palm faced outwards to Juels, to his chin and moves it right, signalling, no.

Shadows shift ahead. Megatron sharply whispers garbled nonsense to get everyone's attention.

Everyone's eyes turn toward the pitch black.

Jim looks on from about a dozen feet back, only hearing faint movement:

Footsteps of a heavy, six-legged creature trace back and forth at an ambiguously close distance from the four men at the front.

MEGATRON

(whispering)

Maybell.

Petrified eyes follow the footsteps in the darkness, widening as they slowly recede.

Jim waves, trying to get someone's attention. Paramecium looks over his shoulder. Jim signals, asking is there's a visual. Paramecium just turns back.

Confused, Jim tries to get his attention again, but he's just ignored.

Paramecium's eyes are riveted on the shadow-drenched trees ahead...

As are Megatron's and Juels...

Everyone just watches as the footsteps fade away, soon lost.

Silence again...

The men look to each other, no one sure what to do.

Juels holds his finger to his forehead, but Rip doesn't know how to respond...

Jim waves, trying to get someone's attention again.

RIP

Fuck it.

(to Paramecium)

Alpha-Yaga.

Signalling Juels, Rip touches his finger to his forehead then taps the hilt of his sword, before drawing it and charging after the departing footsteps.

THUNK-THUNK-THunk-thunk...

The green glow of his blade quickly fades into the shadow.

JIM

(under his breath)

What the fuck?

He grips his sword, but does not brandish it.

Juels and Megatron expectantly look to Paramecium. Panicked, he pulls his sword and crouches in cover, eyes lit by the pale orange glow of his blade.

Rip's footsteps completely lost, silence consumes all...

JUELS

(whispers)

Get ready.

Juels then Megatron pull their swords. Frustrated, Juels signals for Paramecium to move.

Jim moves out of cover, preparing to run after Rip.

Paramecium stands, breath pounding from his chest, about to run--

RIP

AAAARRRG!

SLASH

Something slices through flesh in the darkness ahead...

KATHUMP

... a heavy body hits the ground.

Paramecium, Juels and Megatron apprehensively look at each other.

Jim, bewildered, calls from the back:

JIM

Yo?

JUELS

Ay-Yay!

Juels, Paramecium and Megatron run after Rip, swords at the ready.

Jim's caught on the back foot, but scrambles from tree to tree as he moves forward, keeping in cover as the three ahead of him move blindly to Rip's aid.

He's quickly left behind, cautiously moving forward, apprehensive, grip on the hilt of his sword stressing.

Congratulations and camaraderie suddenly burst forward.

RIP (O.S)

Jim?

Jim pulls his sword and starts off less cautiously.

After a few steps there's another squeaky inhalation behind Jim.

He spins around but does not raise his sword, instead keeps the light as low as possible. He moves to the closest tree for cover, calling in warning:

JIM

Six. Cover now.

RIP (O.S)

Ay-Yay.

JUELS (O.S)

Ay-Yay.

PARAMECIUM & MEGATRON (O.S)

Ay-Yay.

Before he can question anything, something zips right past Jim and...

B-BOOOM

... blasts against tree a few dozen feet away.

Jim throws himself to another trunk for cover.

The tree groans...

BOOOOOM

... and smashes to the ground.

There's more zips over Jim's head and...

B-B-BOOOOOOOM

B-BOOOOOOOOOOOOM

... destruction in the darkness until...

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKK

... an ear piercing shrill cuts through the air.

The zips stop as excited footsteps thunder towards Jim, crouched in cover, bewildered.

Without any exchange, Jim is picked up by Rip, who ran for the blue light, as the four men rush past. He keeps with them as they sprint after the shrill.

Before they can reach the source there's a multitude of inhalations from the darkness around.

The troop judders to a halt. Before anyone can question:

RIP

Break!

Rip takes a sharp b-line towards the closest enemy.

Paramecium, Juels and Megatron follow his lead, scattering away from one another and towards trouble.

Abandoned, flummoxed, Jim watches them separate, then turns toward an open direction.

He stares with apprehension...

CUT TO:

INT. THE GORGE

Composed, Jim stares into the pale void in wait of the telephone.

CUT TO:

... nothing but trees and gloom ahead, Jim starts forward.

His boots patter over the dirt and shrubbery...

... his open, gloved hand palming past trees...

... sword skimming across the ground...

... head swirling...

... eyes searching...

... breathing dampened...

Movement.

The boots stop. The tip of the blade comes to rest on a fallen leaf.

Jim's hand finds a tree trunk, pushes his shoulder against it and presses into cover.

Movement again.

Jim raises his sword to his shoulder, ready to strike.

The movement clarifies...

... footsteps. Six pounding legs somewhere close.

His blue light pushing into the gloom, Jim's boots creep forward, the heel...

... ball...

... toe...

... of his sole silently rolling over the dirt as he sneaks towards the circling footsteps--

PARAMECIUM (O.S)

AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGG!!

The footsteps pound.

Jim's face is contorted with fear...

SLASH

... he strikes...

BAM

... his sword battering a tree.

The footsteps scuttle away.

Jim doesn't give chase. He catches his breath, turning toward the scream behind him when again:

PARAMECIUM (O.S)

AAAAARRRGG!!

The creature gone, Jim turns and runs.

He moves swiftly through the trees, Paramecium's screams intensifying--

B-BOOOOOOOOOOOOM

A tree collapses nearby.

Still running, eyes on the nearby tree tops, Jim gets ever closer to the haywire melee ahead, no more than a few steps away from a visual.

PARAMECIUM (O.S)

AAAAAAAA--

Jim is brought to a stop by the stabbing scream.

Dead silence...

Jim waits for a slice or screech...

... but nothing.

He presses forward, blade lighting the way...

... a figure is illuminated.

Paramecium lies, sprawled.

His right thigh has been stripped of all flesh, attached in tatters to his kneecap, the bone shining bright white.

His sword has been stabbed up through the heel of his palm, up the length of his arm and through his shoulder, the tip gored into the temple of his head.

Unblinking, Jim's eyes trace the deep laceration running from his right hip to his left shoulder that exposes several ribs, splaying his guts.

The body is bathed in a mire of both silver and red blood.

Jim keeps his distance, quietly looking at the scene with abhorrence.

CUT TO:

INT. THE GORGE

Jim still stands in wait.

CUT TO:

Footsteps approach, Jim doesn't take notice.

Rip, Megatron and Juels appear out of the darkness, hurdling the fallen tree, flustered, panicking.

Upon seeing Paramecium, Megatron and Juels fall to their knees and start wailing.

Rip runs over to the body and cradles it, sobbing and moaning.

CUT TO:

INT. THE GORGE

The handset starts to sail in, a blue spec growing in the white void...

CUT TO:

Jim backs away from the scene, engulfed by the darkness.

Through tears and slobber:

RIP (O.S)

New P-O-D established... we defend this point in Tri-Yaga...

EXT. FOREST - LATER

Jim haphazardly moves from tree to tree, sword sheathed, eyes on the ground.

CUT TO:

INT. THE GORGE

Arms spread, a look of pure release painted over his face, Jim stands on the platform.

His boots the leave the ground.

The blue spec pronounces itself, the handset hurtling forward.

CUT TO:

INT. BEDROOM

The white sock of a young woman sat down on the wooden floor shakes to a beat.

CUT TO:

INT. THE GORGE

Jim, suspended above the platform, closes his eyes.

SWISH

The receiver passes through his body.

CUT TO:

Jim stops, holding his chest, hand reaching for a nearby tree...

SWISHH

... his hand passes through, leaving him to stumble then fall to his knees.

Looking over his shoulder, Jim catches a glimpse of the tree disappearing.

Getting to his feet, Jim's hands push against the ground with a squelch.

Stood, Jim's crumpled gaze turns from the absence of a tree and to his palms.

They're covered in blue blood.

He looks to the ground, seeing a pool of blue liquid. His eyes follow the meandering sliver that leads away from the pool and across the forest floor, into shadow.

Jim pulls his sword.

Silence...

Jim presses forward, following the trail through tress until something illuminates a spot in the distance.

He looks around himself, then gets into cover, thinking...

CUT TO:

EXT. FOREST - EARLIER

The group of men squat, having just came out of the tunnel. Jim stares at the light in the centre of the group - the beacon.

CUT TO:

Jim moves from tree-to-tree quickly approaching the lit clearing, relieved but trudging haphazardly.

Escaping the haze of shadows and trees, Jim sees the light source of the clearing:

A blue telephone box, the trail of blood snaking towards it.

BBBRRIIIIING

The telephone rings.

Stopped, Jim's face is flushed with a bitter, cold and moist texture of fear.

Juddered breath pulsing from his open mouth, he back-pedals...

BBBRRIIIIING

He turns on his heels and sprints.

Dodging trees, sidestepping, fumbling, Jim staggers relentlessly as the ringing fades--

SNATCH

--Jim's torn off his feet, losing a grip on his sword.

BAM

He hits the ground, blindly scrambling from his weapon with his left hand. Gripping it, he realises the blue wire coiled around his other wrist. Forcing his way to his knees, he tries to yank his wrist free--

S-S-SNATCH

More wire shoots from the direction of the telephone, binding to Jim's limbs as he gets to his feet and struggles forward...

... the taught wire of his wrist slips, coming loose...

SWISH

... sliding off, but taking Jim's glove with it.

Unbeknownst, Jim continues to struggle against the pull of the wire--

S-SNATCH

But, reams continue to fire, wrapping around his torso, arms, legs and neck as he strives forward, outstretched hand gripping his sword reaching for support that's just not there--

BAM

Jim hits the ground, the wire around his legs constricting, dragging him across the dirt, meandering through trees, back to the telephone.

Watching the box sail closer, Jim tries to sit up, re-griping the sword in his weak left hand, raising it above his head--

BAM

BAM

BAM

He hacks at the wire by his feet. It quickly frays, allowing Jim to kick loose and start running.

Frantic, chest pounding, constantly looking over his shoulder and ripping blue wire off of himself, Jim moves as fast as he can, snaking through trees.

His boot stomps over his glove and trail into gloom.

Anticipating more wire, Jim switches his sword to his other hand, but it doesn't light.

JIM

Fuck!

BBBRRIIIIING

He glimpses over his shoulder--

Wire shoots.

--Jim holds his sword up in defence as he sprints--

CLANG

It's torn clean out of his hand.

Palming tree trunk to tree trunk, Jim keeps his head down and bum rushes his way further from the ringing box.

Outstretched palms suddenly lost, Jim finds himself in a clearing, watching the ground beneath his boots glide past.

Gaze pivoting up, Jim eyes hit the gaping hole in the clearing.

He skids to a stop, kicking dust into the hole, and with no time to think gets up and runs parallel to the bottomless--

BAM

A gigantic telephone receiver batters into Jim...

... sending him flying into the sable trench.

INT. BEDROOM

The white socks of the young woman still move to a beat, tapping on the floor, hands clasped over her shins.

The socks stop tapping.

The hands move with questioning gestures.

The young woman stands.

She runs toward the door, toward a cloud of hazy, white light.

EXT. HOLE

Jim hangs, suspended from a branch, inches from the ground, by blue wire attached to his ankle. He's got no sword or glove.

Sat in the spotlight of a hole dozens of meters deep hangs a leafless and dying tree.

Its twisted branches begin to quake as Jim comes to.

Eyes rolling forward from the back of his head, Jim realises his position. He looks down the length of his body to see the wire around his ankle.

Squirming, trying to gather the strength to reach up toward his foot...

SNAP

... the cord breaks...

BAM

... leaving Jim in an awkward contorted pile.

Ankle blistered and torn to shreds, spine crumpled and beaten, Jim just lies on his back, gazing through the mesh of branches up toward the white light illuminating the mouth of the hole.

Eyes struggling to find focus, Jim blinks, slowly recognising the network of string laced across the shaft above:

Thick webbing clings to the walls, masking the shoot entirely.

Beyond the webs, a dark figure breaks shadow into the white disc of light, peering down. With hope Jim tries to call for help, but can only croak:

JIM

... help... he...

Up top, fingers curl over the rim of the hole.

Rough, leathery skin has been pulled tight over the chin and mouth region of the figure.

However, the skin begins to break as the jaw opens. Lips tear through the laceration...

... liquid metal heaves down the spine of the figure as its perched looking down the hole...

... bloodied bone juts from the metallic torso of the creature - signs of a ribcage...

... flakey skin patches the eight bristled limbs...

... the newly formed lips on the creature's face peel back over jagged teeth...

... a tongue stabs free from the mouth, a glob of drool, glissading down its length...

... and drips...

The bead of saliva convulses as it falls, gliding through the silver silk strands, before...

SPLASH

... sending a wave of tremor across a silk beam--

CUT TO:

A dark figure in a doorway, Jim's silhouette foregrounds the searing yellow light.

The white socks patter over wooden floorboards, stopping behind Jim.

He turns around to face her.

She raises a hand, fingers coming toward Jim's chest...

... the silhouette topples backward and away from the reach.

CUT TO:

Jim falls in a pale orange void.

CUT TO:

An ocean of sand and water churns.

CUT TO:

The web of silk trembles. Jim stares up as the vibration settles, features vacant.

A bolt of pink light flares--

BAM

It drives into the ground mere feet from Jim's head.

His focus snaps to the shaft above, eyes widened, quivering fingers finding ground, arms heaving weight, legs scrambling for footing, driving him into cover of the tree.

More lights arc into the darkness...

Jim can only hug the tree tighter.

... the blades soar through the webs, raining towards the tree branches, ricocheting, slicing, hammering--

SLASH

A red blade scathes Jim's back, splaying open his armour. He screams--

TH-TH-TH-THUD

--white knuckling his hold in cover until all the blades lay scattered around him.

In the break of cease fire, he turns to count the fallen blades...

... seven.

Looking up through the bony canopy, he leans against the tree with an agonised groan.

A shadowed figure peers down on him.

Through grit teeth:

JIM

Fuck...

He pushes off the tree, leaving a crimson sliver dripping through the cracks of the bark so he can pull the nearby pink blade out of the ground.

Jim grips, but the blade fades to a lifeless steel shade. Disparaged, he lets go, hoping for a re-ignition of colour, but nothing.

He looks up...

... the figure's gone.

Jim scrambles for the closest blade--

--as soon as his finger touches the hilt, the green light sparks away. He goes for another--

--the blue luminescence dies.

JIM

No.

Keeping hold of the dead blade, he pushes back into the cover of the tree and looks up.

His unblinking stare reflects the looming opening of the hole.

CUT TO:

Piercing light washes over Jim's pupils, forcing his eyes closed.

>CUT TO BLACK

From the darkness pushes forward a silver strand. It extends over and beyond our POV, a continuous strand zipping in from the darkness ahead.

The strand begins convulsing, spiralling as undulations propagate down its length.

The material contorts, liquifying, blowing out into a thick tube.

A mesmerising kaleidoscope of semi-solid silver dances in the pitch with increasing pace until...

SNAP

... the material splits in half, dancing a furious collage of movement.

Slowly, the strands calm, returning to a simple spinning helix before solidifying.

The metal beams slowly straighten, moving in-parallel to one another.

The dark void fills itself in. A gravelly texture paints ceiling opaque just above the metallic beams. Wooden beams push through the ceiling, stopped underneath the bars.

Train tracks have materialised.

Our POV shifts...

... realising wooden boards...

... the platform...

... the vacant train station.

A simple bench sits outside the waiting room.

CUT TO:

A man's shoulders, beyond, the train tracks, beyond that, a sea of sand.

Jim sits on the bench at the platform.

Two shoulders, two figures, sit either side of him as he waits.

Jim's fingers rap on the side of the bench.

An old palm rests on his agitated hand before taking it. A tattered wristband is closed into Jim's fist.

He turns toward the old woman, eyes on the ground. He lifts his gaze then turns to the other figure--

EXT. HOLE

The network of webs above violently quiver. The walls pound. Strands snap. Thunder resounds in the tunnel before...

BOOOOOOOOM

... silence.

Broken silk strands float through the twisted branches, coming to a decorative rest.

Jim, back to the bark, stares ahead.

The figure breathes heavy, shrouded in gloom it looms ambiguously.

The light illuminating the tunnel dulls.

Darkness.

A pressuring vacuum of silence lingers.

Light.

A blue flash illuminates Jim's face as it contorts, twisted with malice.

Unheard in the vacuum of silence, he bellows, charging forward.

The blue light welcomes the pitch abyss.

INT. TESTING CHAMBER - DAY

Jim awakens in metal chamber, goggles on, stood in formation with the one-hundred and ninety-nine other men.

They are stood before the ten team leaders.

The men... Rip... Paramecium... Pan... Flower... Lolita... all awaken one by one, taking off their goggles and waiting patiently for a command.

Jim looks around at the silent scene, still trapped in the soundless vacuum.

Every man awake, Iron starts to speak.

Jim hears none of it. He stares, vacant.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

On the way back to the courtyard in the tunnel of trees, Jim walks in formation, zombie-like.

EXT. COURTYARD - DAY

Jim is completely unresponsive to Rip's pokes and prods as they head for the exit bay.

INT. CORRIDOR - DAY

The men file into the assembly hall, lead by the team leaders.

Jim breaks from the line and leans against the wall next to the blue telephone.

He watches the men pass. Nobody takes notice of him.

Soon they're all in the assembly hall, Jim left alone in the corridor with the telephone.

Jim just stares at the box...

Large yet confining, bright with the only light sources being the high windows - outlets to no more than plain blue skies - the corridor looms above Jim.

He inches toward the phone, apprehensively picking up the handset and holding it to his ear.

Breathing heavy, filled with anxiety, Jim starts to dial...

Jim shifts from side to side listening to the...

BOOP-BOOP...

BOOP-BOOP...

BOOP-BOOP...

BOOP-BO--

Someone picks up.

Jim listens, stunned, unable to respond.

He catches his breath and:

JIM

Hello?

(response)

It's... It's Ji--um, James...

Jim listens for a moment, tears welling in his eyes, lost in disbelief.

JIM

I know, I know, but I've just been busy.

(response)

I'm sorry...

(response)

There's no excuse, I...

(more)

I'm so sorry...

(more)

Good.

(response)

No, no. It's all fine.

He listens, fingers glancing over his eyebrows, lip quivering, shifting uncomfortably on the spot, holding back tears as best as he can.

JIM

Not everything, there's too much. When I come home.

(response)

Soon.

(response)

I can't promise.

(long response)

Well, I don't know... in one word... crazy.

(response)

No, I told you, I'm fine.

(more)

No, it's not like that.

(more)

None of that happens here.

(more)

Trust me, don't worry... How have things been?

Jim bursts into tears as he listens.

He has to hold the receiver away from his face so his cries aren't heard on the other end...

He puts the receiver back to his ear and tries to regain some composure.

JIM

No, no. I'm here. Go on.

(response)

No, it's fine.

(response)

You can't get me in trouble.

(more)

All right. If you have to go.

(response)

Wait... Just before...

(more)

Yes, but just listen. I just want to tell you that maybe things will be better when I can come back.

(response)

I'm going to make them better.

(more)

Yes.

(more)

There's been a lot of big things going on. And... you know... it just makes me feel small... you know...

(response)

Small world, yeah, I know.

(response)

No, don't cry.

(more)

Well, leave that to me then. I'm doing enough for the both of us. Just... just take care.

(response)

I wish I were there. I know things are hard...

(more)

Well, I mean, you're like super -

(response)

Yeah, I know. I love you. Just keep on doing what you're doing.

(response)

I will.

(more)

All right, all right. I love you.

(last words)

I love you.

Jim puts the phone down.

Without hesitation, without straightening up, he walks into the assembly hall, head held high and smiling, tears streaming down his face.

The doors swing closed.

Silence...

The dulled sound of a dodgeball game finds its way down the corridor, resounding in the emptiness.

>FADE OUT

END




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