INT. THE VOID
The screen is pitch black.
In the moment before Creation we begin to hear a faint, heterophonic melody. It becomes louder and louder, harmonious still, but a violent undercurrent begins. The melody divides in two. They alternate until they transform into a violent polyphonic cacophony.
At the pitch of the battle, a pulsating diminutive DOT OF LIGHT appears in the center of the screen. It grows and shrinks as if pulled by both melodic lines with each alternation. The ball of light is now stable, engulfing almost the whole screen. The music ceases.
Faintly the music resumes. Both polyphonic melodies are now a single, harmonious whole. The ball of light contracts to its original size as the music swells up, the ball expands and finally engulfs the whole screen.
INT. SMALL LIBRARY – DAY
An OLD MAN (90) wakes up with a jolt and lies still, EYES remaining closed. There is CIGARETTE in his hand, burnt to the filter and smoking still. A FLAT, ROBOTIC VOICE soliloquies over the man.
Do you require medical assistance?
Do you require medical assistance?
Over and over it continues.
The ASH TUBE falling unbroken. It softly disintegrates as it touches the floor.
The Old Man’s NOSE is bleeding profusely. He is sitting in a reclining CHAIR in a sterile-white looking apartment. It rocks with the violence of his sudden awakening.
The OLD MAN begins to stir his body, crumpled from long slumber atop his leather reclining chair.
Behind him, a Plexiglas wall reveals the chrome, spiraling utopia of the future. At each side of the wall, book-crammed shelves run the length from the floor to the ceiling.
Outside we see the futuristic city-scape. The buildings are made with the same material as the interior of The Old Man’s apartment, immaculate dull, solid white.
The CITY appears to heave and grow before our eyes. It is the work of GIGANTIC, HOVERING RINGS, which surround structures and transform them. The whole city is an upwards-growing Being.
The OLD MAN’S FACE
As blood drips from his nose, pooling scarlet in the contours of his wrinkled MOUTH. His EYES slowly flutter open as he wipes his face with the back of his sleeve. The BLOOD is smeared all over his face, the Old Man not yet realizing that what the liquid is.
The BLOODIED SLEEVE as it comes into clear focus.
The Old Man awakens as he realizes what has happened. With titanic effort, Old Man stands from the reclining chair and walks up to the transparent wall.
Call Dr. Bloomfield.
OLD MAN’S FACE in profile as he surveys the city.
INT. BATHROOM – DAY
The OLD MAN is bending over the sink, water is running from the faucet. He is cleaning his face with a white, WET CLOTH. When the blood has been cleaned, he closes the tap and looks in the mirror.
The Old Man takes his hands, still soaking wet, and pulls back his CHEEKS making the WRINKLES dissipate.
OLD MAN (V.O.)
I am too old. A man should never forget his mother’s face.
For a moment there is silence. The Old Man relaxes his grip and his FACE returns to its mountainous ruggedness. He levels his HANDS to the sink.
INT. WAITING ROOM – DAY
A ROW of waiting room seats crowded with beautiful people, extending beyond both sides of the frame. None of them look older than twenty five years and all dress as if it were the most important day in their lives.
The OLD MAN sits at the symmetrical center of the row; his restlessness is made more painfully apparent as every other person could easily be confused for statues. The Old Man holds in his hands a small paper square.
The piece of paper. In bold, jet black block numbers it simply states: YOUR TURN IS 170.
The Old Man tilts his head upwards to where a WALL-MOUNTED MONITOR displays: 88.
INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE
The Old Man sits opposite to his DOCTOR (25). Both are separated by a mammoth glass desk. On it a COMPUTER MONITOR rests. The Doctor is transfixed behind the computer as his hands CLICK-CLACK on a keyboard from somewhere under the frame. The Doctor is motionless. The Old Man fidgets in his chair, moving uncomfortably in anticipation.
The typing ceases, but the Doctor remains unflinching. A SMILE slowly draws itself across his mouth.
The Doctor’s EYES snap sharply to the left as he stares into the camera.
Total recovery is guaranteed.
And… the bleeding?
Broken capillaries due to the tumor’s growth. A
Nouvex injection will take care of the both of your problems.
What’s the other one?
Your age. The newer batches of Nouvex can restore you to a
graceful 25. Not like the grizzly thing you had 200 years ago.
Will it hurt? If I refuse the injection?
Painful, yes, but rather swift. A week or so.
There is also the matter of the Chapman Act of
2109. Refusal of the Nouvex under life-threatening
circumstances would constitute suicide.
I don’t want it.
Then we have to determine if you
are competent enough to make such a decision. Go home
and rest. No sudden movements. Someone will visit
you tomorrow for the psych evaluation.
Of Doctor Bloomfield, his eyes slightly upwards and looking beyond us. His SMILE betrays no emotion, except for sympathy and contempt, but only a little bit.
INT. SMALL LIBRARY – THE NEXT DAY
The LABYRINTHINE HAND of the Old Man glides over a piece of paper holding a black ink pen. Finished, the HAND retires to show
The birth all of creation was a war waged in The Void. It was the 25 of June, before Time had come into being. A music–
The Old Man pauses for a moment. He interlocks his FINGERS in front of his chest. His knuckles CRACK like thunder. He picks back his pen and as the SMOOTH, BLACKENED BALL POINT is about to touch the paper the Electronic Voice speaks and the hand retreats in haste.
Dr. White is here for your psych evaluation.
Let him in.
Her. And I already did.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY
Sterile-white and empty, a single, BLACK COUNTER TOP is in the middle of the room. It doubles as a table. The Old Man and DR. WHITE (25) sit across each other on slightly elevated stools. Dr. White is tapping into a TABLET with her right index finger. The Old Man watches the action in nervous anticipation.
Would you like some coffee?
Dr. White continues the insidious tapping. An eon of silence crawls. The Old Man, giving up, sighs and slouches, head bowed.
A SQUARE DEPRESSION slowly appears at the center of the table. TWO CUPS OF COFFEE rise from the cavity.
Dr. White ceases her activity and looks up.
Just water, please.
The Old Man incorporates himself. Leaning forward, he grabs the mug closest to him. He takes a sip.
The OTHER MUG disappears into the counter, to be replaced by a SINGLE, TALL, SWEATING GLASS OF WATER. Dr. White ignores it.
The Old Man becomes exasperated. He puts the mug down.
Look, I’m very busy today. Please.
You first generation never did have much patience.
The looming dread of mortality, a thousand generations of hard coded fear and all that.
I suppose so.
How old are you?
68, if you must know. But what does that have to do with anything?
It’s just that you people have too much time. Frankly, I miss urgency.
I guess that is what we are here to discuss. So tell me, why do you want to die?
The Old Man stands up, mug in hand. He motions to Dr. White to follow him with a wave of his HAND. The doctor begrudgingly stands up, takes the still sweating GLASS OF WATER from the center of the table and both walk out of frame.
INT. SMALL LIBRARY – DAY
The Old Man and Dr. White stand in the middle of the windowed wall looking through to the city. Both raise their DRINKS and sip at the same time.
Beyond the window, the city glistens under gentle sunlight. Like the first time we saw the city, the giant rings hover around husks, constructing the different structures in their hollow bellies.
OLD MAN (CONT’D)
I don’t want to die, Dr. White. It’s just that I don’t want to live forever.
Is that not contradictory? Considering that you do have the
option to live as long as you want–
The Old Man interrupts her with a dry chuckle. He takes another sip from his mug and continues.
It’s only living for a long time, not for as long as I
want, apparently. Hence your being here.
Hence my being here.
The Old Man turns and faces Dr. White. She takes a quick glance and does the same. Now, facing each other they continue while the city keeps growing in the negative space between them.
Dr. White, I know that the decision has already
been made for me. Have a good day.
The Old Man leaves Dr. White. He exits the frame while she remains, now looking at through the window. She bows her head, crestfallen. The Electronic Voice breaks the sun glazed spell.
Dr. White, do you require assistance in finding the door?
CUT TO BLACK:
EXT. OLD HOLLYWOOD PALAZZO’S POOL – DAY
We pan down from the searing white of the sun to see from
The CORPSE OF A MAN floating belly-down upon the middle of a pool, framed by baroque excessiveness. His BLOOD swells slowly, in a red cloud about him.
DEAD MAN (V.O.)
I’m afraid that you have arrived late to this little
shindig of ours. But… if you MUST know. The setting, 1946, Hollywood.
I have just been shot by a fading starlet that has discovered too
late that the stars above also burn out. I won’t grow old, no, but my son will.
A WOMAN (60) stumbles into frame, wrapped in black silk. She was beautiful once, but now her face is clouded by madness and years. She is not there, her eyes are wild. She falls on her knees, and by the side of the pool begins to SOB hysterically.
A BUTLER (75) approaches the Woman with a fast, steady pace. The TAP-TAPPING of his hard, leather shoes drown the assault of the wailing woman. He bends down behind her. He envelops her with his arms. His hands are forcing open her ARMS folded across her girdled, bony chest. The struggle continues until the Woman releases her grip and forth falls a SMALL HANDGUN.
The Butler rises, still holding the woman in his arms, forcing her up. He turns her around so she faces him. He opens her silk robe and with a deafening RIP, tears a strip of the slip underneath, exposing her withered frame.
The Butler bends down, grabs the GUN and with the piece of cloth wipes the body of the weapon thoroughly. He pockets the fabric while holding the gun in his left hand, finger on the trigger, pointing down.
The Butler stares into the Woman’s eyes. SIRENS begin to wail in the distance. She nods. After a second, he SLAPS her square in the face. The force knocks her down. He extends a hand and she stands up, taking it. They embrace.
They’ll never believe the lie. I’m too old. Faded.
Nonsense. You are as beautiful as the day I met you.
And besides, you always knew how to steal a scene. Any scene.
POLICE OFFICERS being to swarm around the pool and the old couple. The Butler throws the gun to the ground. Our gaze falls back into the FLOATING CORPSE, the red cloud has by now dissolved and dyed the water pink.
DEAD MAN (V.O.)
It’s not that nobody ever questions why the dead guy
can tell tales, see? It’s that they never get to tell their own.
My son should write tales for a living…
INT. SMALL LIBRARY – DAY
The Old Man sits in his reclining chair, he is slouching over a small desk, writing. The contents of the desk are composed of two reams of paper divided into columns, and a single page in the middle. The left stack holds the written pages. At least, three hundred. In the center, the half-written page the Old Man is now filling, and to the right, the impossibly white paper, waiting its turn.
The Old Man leans back on his chair. With his LEFT HAND he massages his right hand, PEN still in it. We can now see what is written on the top page of the middle stack. It reads:
This is how my father would have loved to die. A grand spectacle of a thing…
The Old Man puts the pen on top of the single page. He stands, propping himself up with the armrest of his chair. Midway he stops. He tries to sit back down, but his ARM slips and he collapses on the floor, between the little desk and his chair. He sits, his back against the chair. He raises his HANDS in front of his face. They are trembling violently.
With a quivering hand, he fishes out a single CIGARETTE from his right pocket. He places the cigarette in his mouth. From the same pocket, he produces a small square of a LIGHTER. The Old Man holds it with both hands, but the trembling does not cease. Flipping the cap open, he tries to light it but he fails after the fourth time. His arms collapse at his sides.
As he says this, the Old Man’s nose begins to bleed.
Of the Old Man as his vision begins to fail. Everything shifts out of focus and swims as he wipes the blood with TWO FINGERS and holds them in front of his eyes.
Calling emergency servi–
OLD MAN (feeble whisper)
He says this as he begins to slide completely onto the floor. Now, lying there, on his side, he closes his eyes.
OLD MAN (CONT’D)
I just need to rest for a while. Finish my book. Please
notify my publisher to pick up the manuscript tomorrow.
Then Dr. Bloomfield?
Then Dr. Bloomfield.
He dozes off, his vision dissolving.
FADE TO BLACK.
INT. SMALL LIBRARY – LATER
The Old Man is lying on the floor. Blood is crusted around his nose and mouth, tracing a small, red-black trail down his cheek, pooling on the floor. Groggily he opens his eyes. The CIGARETTE comes into focus, it lies resting a few inches in front of him.
He extends a HAND, grabbing the cigarette as he sits up. His hands have stopped shaking. He searches for the lighter and finds that he is sitting on it. The Old Man climbs back into his chair, cigarette lit and smoking from the FAT, RED CHERRY at the end. Picking up his pen, the Old Man resumes his work. We read as the words appear.
My mother would learn of my father’s death two days later. She hadn’t heard from him after his West Coast escapade, a fool’s hunt, truly. A prospector joining the gold rush after all the brooks dried out. But right now her concerns lay elsewhere…
MONTAGE – VARIOUS
A) INT. DELIVERY ROOM – DAY
The room is a 1940’s chalk-white utilitarian wasteland, the WALLS barren, dull chromate hospital equipment lies next to the bed, almost ornamentally.
A SOON-TO-BE MOTHER (19) lies on a gurney, legs spread as the violence of birth is under way. HEAVY GLOBULES OF INCANDESCENT SWEAT run down her strained face. A NURSE stands by her, checking the gauges of her IV drip. A DOCTOR crouches between her legs, waiting for the child.
B) INT. BATHROOM – NIGHT
The faucet is spewing hot water, fogging the MIRROR on the bathroom’s wall. The Old Man wipes it clear then washes away the dried blood from his face.
The Old Man stares at his reflection until the mirror fogs up again and his FACE disappears.
C) INT. MATERNITY WARD – DAY
The Nurse places the BLOODY BABE, crying its first gasp of air, on the heaving chest of the Mother. Her countenance is severe, but a smile crosses her LIPS.
END OF MONTAGE
INT. SMALL LIBRARY – NIGHT
Of the Old Man’s desk. Where there were two stacks of paper there remains only one in the middle. The top page is blank until his HAND scratches furiously in the middle of the page
The Many Lives Before
The Old Man picks up the pages and slips them into a THICK YELLOW ENVELOPE and seals it off. He walks to the front door and collapses in front of it, manuscript in hand.
Calling Dr. Bloomfield. Your book can wait.
INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – NIGHT
We see our former Old Man, now a robust 25 sitting on a hospital bed, a semi-hovering cocoon-shaped contraption anchored to the left wall the only thing in a vast, white-empty room. He looks at his own reflection on the far window. Beyond his reflection, the city glimmers slightly, the ever present RING BUILDERS float on, erecting their buildings in silence.
He walks up to the window, and while intently looking at his own reflection, he grabs the sides of his face and bunches the taught skin into a MYRIAD OF WRINKLES.
FADE TO BLACK.
Born on the island of Puerto Rico, Yamil Maldonado has a B.A. in Philosophy and Comparative Literature. He writes sometimes. You can follow him on medium.com/@yamilmaldonado.