I put 15 different writing prompts in a blender, and this is the Epic, Silly, Touching, and Page-Turning Result

Yesterday, I used the Random Story Prompt Generators at Seventh Sanctum, and promised to put all the results in a single story synopsis. Here’s a rough draft of what such a disparate saga might look like— and on Thursday, as a bonus, you can also see a pretentious analysis of my silly storytelling!

The tale opens with a man lying in the desert, his legs crushed underneath a complex machine advertising “Free Deep-Fried Ice-Cream While U Waits!” Blood pools around his crushed legs, but the man doesn’t seem to notice; he’s singing a loud, bawdy song.

A wanderer notices this man, approaches, and demands that he shut up. This wanderer is Brooke Reynolds— tall, high forehead, hooked nose, voluptuous while still reminiscent of a lizard. She’s wearing a patchwork cloak that appears half-machine, with certain apparatuses storing water and others monitoring the temperature. She rescues the man from under the machine by cutting off what remains of his legs and bandaging up the rest. It turns out the man is named Shithead (pronounced, according to him, Shy-Theed), a resident of ©HappyLand. That’s just the place Brooke Reynolds emigrated from, and the last place she wants to be reminded of. Brooke’s about to leave him to his fate, until the blissfully oblivious Shithead starts singing a lullaby. This impacts Brooke, though for what reason is still unclear. She decides to carry Shithead to her aunt’s house, which is on the way to her true destination.

Continue reading “I put 15 different writing prompts in a blender, and this is the Epic, Silly, Touching, and Page-Turning Result”

Uncle Harlow is Dead: Part 2

A continuation of the short film. Part 1 here.

INT: Crammed attic. Day.

PALMIRA and AMANDA dig through boxes of old junk. They’re both sweating.

AMANDA

You said it’s in the striped box, right?

PALMIRA

I can’t believe this. This is pointless.

AMANDA

This is the last thing Uncle Harlow ever put on this earth.

PALMIRA

You know Harlow nearly ate your dad’s savings clean through, right? Just through hardcore couch surfing.

AMANDA

So?

PALMIRA

So? He was a useless hunk of meat! He never did anything! I could just as easily sleep or watch cartoons instead of helping you. Would you like that?

AMANDA

I like cartoons.

PALMIRA

Not what I meant.

AMANDA

Do you like cartoons?

PALMIRA

Keep it on the down low, all right? It’s embarrassing for my age. I’m not even sure why I like them, it’s just the same formula over and over again. Anyways, that’s the point. I may not like this, but it’s what family members should do. Uncle Harlow never got that. He probably wouldn’t even do his own scavenger hunt.

AMANDA

I think this is it!

AMANDA pulls out an intricate moon mobile out of a striped box. She also finds a note at the bottom.

AMANDA

“This was one of the many projects I made to communicate with other astronauts, like Buzz Aldrin. It was an attempted antenna. Neil told me very useful things, such as how to create this device and how to meditate and how to understand death.” Are you ok?

PALMIRA

I’m fine. Really.

AMANDA

Do you think Neil Armstrong really was talking to Uncle Harlow?

PALMIRA

How old are you again?

AMANDA

Ok. “But as I got older, I noticed that Neil wasn’t very good at telling me facts or predicting the future. He wouldn’t tell me why. So at 18, I ran away to ask him in person.”

PALMIRA

Because teenage runaways always make the best astronaut candidates.

AMANDA

I’m going to read the next riddle. I can solve it myself, ok? I don’t need your help, even if it’s hard.

PALMIRA

If you say so.

AMANDA

All right, here we go.

“My spaceship wants to land here.

What starts with ‘r’ and rhymes with ‘giver’?”

Dangit!

EXT: Calm River. Day.

AMANDA and PALMIRA dig up stones by the river.

AMANDA

So what do you do when you’re not studying?

PALMIRA

When you’re older, you really don’t get any free time. But you do fewer things to waste your time too.

AMANDA

Really?

PALMIRA

Well, I suppose I could make time. But that’d be wrong of me. If I can work, I should. “Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.”

AMANDA

Who said that?

PALMIRA

Have you ever heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson?

AMANDA

No.

PALMIRA

(suddenly energized)

He’s this really cool astrophysicist. Now that I’m grown, I can study the stars, just like him.

AMANDA

You want to go into space? Like Harlow?

PALMIRA

Not exactly. But I have a better chance than he did. Did you know that Neil wanted to be an astrophysicist since he was 11? After living in the Bronx for most of his life, he was amazed to finally see the full night sky in Pennsylvania…

PALMIRA keeps talking as the sun lowers across the sky. By the time we look back, AMANDA is dead tired on the ground and PALMIRA is still talking.

PALMIRA

… and now he’s going to do a YouTube adaptation of StarTalk. Times are good for him. Pretty cool, huh?

AMANDA

I guess.

PALMIRA

You listening?

AMANDA

Yeah, yeah.

PALMIRA

So you see why I want to be him so much. He’s like another family member to me. I don’t know anyone else who has taught me more.

AMANDA

Would Tyson help us out with the scavenger hunt?

PALMIRA

Of course. Tyson’s main two goals are to know more than he did yesterday and to lessen the suffering of others. Why else would I do this?

Do you think it’s under the river?

AMANDA

One time I got angry at my dad, so I threw his iPad into the river and we found it a really really long time later.

PALMIRA

Your point?

AMANDA

It’d get washed away, silly.

PALMIRA

Question is, was Uncle Harlow that silly? It is a slow river.

PALMIRA puts her hands into the river, starts feeling around.

AMANDA

You think it might be deeper?

PALMIRA

Why should he start trying now? I got something.

PALMIRA pulls out a grimy Tupperware container filled with water. She opens it, pulls out a wet piece of folded paper and a round rock.

PALMIRA

Half of this is gone. “I found Neil at… astronomy club convention… went up to him… why don’t you recognize me… bodyguards smell sweaty close up… jail… never be an astronaut now… realization?” I think? The riddle looks ok.

“Fish answer to men whether they’re good or bad.

We put my only friend here; he was sad.”

The best he could do was rhyming ‘bad’ and ‘sad’? What the hell’s wrong with him? It’s like a swan song where the swan’s honking off-key.

AMANDA

He called everybody his ‘only friend.’

PALMIRA

And no one else in the family went to jail. It must be Finny’s old water tank. Which we sold. Can I go back to homework now?

AMANDA

You promised!

PALMIRA

To take you to the end. We can go there now.

AMANDA

No! We’ll just skip a clue!

PALMIRA

That’s not what Harlow wanted, I think.

AMANDA

When did you care? I don’t know what else to do. We can’t stop, we’re too far.

PALMIRA

We’d have to strip the house. You’re not serious.

You are serious.

AMANDA

WWTD.

PALMIRA

Huh?

AMANDA

What would Tyson do.

PALMIRA

Screw you. Wait, that’s probably not what he’d do.

INT: Various rooms of the converted farmhouse. Day.

Montage of house-searching set to “The Truth,” by Foster the People. Four hours later, AMANDA finds an old diary and begins reading through it. PALMIRA sees her.

PALMIRA

I though I had lost that forever.

AMANDA

Wow.

PALMIRA

Put that down.

AMANDA

Hey, what’s with this ‘mantra’ your book keeps-

PALMIRA

Give me that!

AMANDA

Wouldn’t Mr. Tyson tell me?

PALMIRA

Tyson wouldn’t’ve been stupid enough to come up with a mantra.

AMANDA

I’m sorry.

PALMIRA

Fine, it’s past.

AMANDA

So what is the mantra? What is a mantra?

PALMIRA

You promise not to laugh? Ok. You know how your mom and dad tell you when you’re young that you can do anything and be anything? I took that literally. I tried to make a mantra, a repeated phrase, that would let me walk through walls. At home, in class, at recess, I’d keep repeating nonsense words and walking my way into hospitals. My head smelled a lot like plaster those days. I didn’t see how stupid I was acting until about your age. I tried to change my name, I was so embarrassed. And then I started bullying to cover up for what a target I was, and that’s something we’re not getting into. I guess the point is that our family must be a little crazy. Or in my case, was.

AMANDA

When I was real little, my mom tells me I kept shaking my piggy bank even when all the money was out of it.

PALMIRA

Thanks.

AMANDA

You’re really smart. My dad keeps saying you’re so smart.

PALMIRA

Not naturally. That’s the thing.

AMANDA

Uncle Harlow was naturally-

PALMIRA

He was naturally awful. Because he got what he wanted in the end. They teach at the Buddhist group I’m attending that desire leads to suffering. But he didn’t suffer for his desire. We did.

AMANDA

What is wrong with you?

PALMIRA

What?

AMANDA

You’re no better! You want to get out of this, and it’s hurting me! What did Harlow ever do to you?

PALMIRA

I told you. I know the end of this.

AMANDA

But the search isn’t over yet.

PALMIRA

“It ends in death. Death is best.”

AMANDA

What?

PALMIRA

That’s it. That’s his last nugget of wisdom. Ow!

AMANDA

You’re lying!

PALMIRA

Would I?

PALMIRA descends the nearby stairs.

INT: Drab basement. Day.

PALMIRA pulls out a slip of paper from behind the TV.

PALMIRA

“The Last Words of Uncle Harlow: It ends in death. Death is best.” Feeling queasy, huh? I never looked up to Harlow, but I didn’t think he was this shit. That’s what he wanted us to find out. That life can be ruined so easily that you should just wait for death on a couch. The stars are up there and you’re born down here, and there’s nothing you can do since death takes us all. That’s his final gift to you, kid. What a swell guy.

AMANDA, crying, runs back up the stairs. PALMIRA sighs, sits down, and returns to studying. Fade to black.

When the lights fade back up, we see PALMIRA holding her head in hand. The words of her book seem to run together.

PALMIRA

What would Neil do?

She sees the book that AMANDA brought in at the start of all this. She picks it up. It’s called How We Made It To The Moon.

UNCLE HARLOW

(V.O.)

“Congratulations, my ‘only friends’! This is the beginning of my posthumous scavenger hunt. As Bilbo would say, ‘If you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ They say beginnings are important because that’s where things begin.”

PALMIRA smiles, then realizes something.

INT: Disorganized study. Sunset.

AMANDA surfs through the bulky desktop computer, chin in hand, not really looking at anything. PALMIRA runs in.

PALMIRA

There’s more to the message.

AMANDA

Go away.

PALMIRA

I’m sorry about what I did to you.

AMANDA

That’s just what Tyson would say.

PALMIRA

There’s more to his final words. He put so much emphasis on beginnings in the intro letter. The beginning word of each riddle provides a clue. “This” “Is” “My” “Answer.” We don’t have the rest of the riddles, but we won’t need them.

AMANDA

So what?

PALMIRA

So his last words aren’t advice, they’re an admission. It was his realization in jail: that there aren’t any right or wrong answers in life. Not entirely true according to my Buddhist class, but he’s on to something. An easygoing message for an easygoing man. He didn’t need to become an astronaut or please his parents to become happy. For him, losing himself in sloth worked. He wants us to choose our own expectations for happiness.

AMANDA

It doesn’t add up.

PALMIRA

No, I mean-

AMANDA

Look at these. The fourth one doesn’t begin with “Answer,” it begins with “Fish.” “This” “Is” “My” “Fish.”

Silence. Then, PALMIRA and AMANDA share a long laugh.

AMANDA

Did you think of that all by yourself?

PALMIRA

Yeah.

AMANDA

You’re pretty smart.

PALMIRA

I guess so.

AMANDA

I like your answer better. Uncle Harlow was a dummy.

PALMIRA

Or maybe we just didn’t understand him.

AMANDA

Understand what?

PALMIRA

That’s the question. So now what?

AMANDA

What?

PALMIRA

Should we finish this? I mean, Harlow was a deadbeat, but he must’ve been severely depressed. Either way, I want him to stop sucking my energy. If we finish the hunt, we can bury him.

AMANDA

Because he wanted us to?

PALMIRA

This is my fish, remember? No, it’s because I want to. I’ve finally learned something from him.

AMANDA

This may be a bad thing to say, but I don’t think this is so important anymore.

PALMIRA

Of course it isn’t, he’s dead. The hunt’s for us. Let’s make it about us.

AMANDA

What’d you have in mind?

PALMIRA

Let’s take it slow, like he would. If we find another clue, so be it. But now, seems like taking a break to watch cartoons together would most befit his memory.

AMANDA

Yay!

PALMIRA

Only for a little bit, though. I’ve still got things to do.

As PALMIRA and AMANDA exit, we see that another note is half-underneath the computer.

UNCLE HARLOW

(V.O.)

“After leaving my cult, I knew my final lesson had to be lived and shared. So why put it in riddles and maps rather than telling you? My life was ruined too long ago to be an adventure. You still have a full life ahead. This hunt was a platform for your own adventure, your own unique way of discovering my wisdom. I hope you understand it. My last words are where I enjoyed my last few years.

If the beats of this journey come from you and your friends,

Where does your life begin and my story end?”

CREDITS

Uncle Harlow is Dead: Part 1

A few years ago, way back before I knew proper script formatting, I was asked by a classmate to write a short film script for his group. Events out of my control prevented me from sending this in on time, but I looked through it and decided it’s worth putting out there. Enjoy!

CHARACTERS

PALMIRA WEIGAND

Lines: 90

An overworked graduate student. Bitter and busy. She’s a huge fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, and is studying to be an astrophysicist just like him. She’s a try-hard, but please don’t tell her that.
AMANDA WEIGAND

Lines: 87

A dutiful 10-year-old cousin to Palmira. Loves her family. Takes matters seriously and expects to be taken seriously. Has little to no filter.
HARLOW WEIGAND

Lines: 2

A lazy man who tried to act wiser than he really was. Spent his time in the land of the living drinking, watching TV, and trying to hide his fat. Not appearing in this film.

SETTING

A spacious house in the countryside.

*********************************************

INT: Drab basement. Day.

PALMIRA WEIGAND sleeps at her desk, on top of her pile of astrophysics books and papers. Most of the room’s light comes from one window, a light that pierces the air over a large TV. PALMIRA wakes up and tries to read, but can’t keep her eyes open. She rests her head again, lightly pounding her book in frustration. We hear footsteps approaching down the stairs. PALMIRA wakes up and goes back to reading from her textbook. AMANDA WEIGAND runs in clutching a book by its cover.

AMANDA

I found it!

PALMIRA

I don’t have the time.

AMANDA

It’s the treasure hunt! It’s Uncle Harlow’s last wish!

PALMIRA

Oh. Wonderful.

AMANDA

You don’t even know what I’m talking about, do you?

PALMIRA

Yes I do. I know all about it. It’s wonderful. Now please, I’ve already lost half of spring break.

AMANDA

This is really important. I mean it this time. Please? I’ll leave you alone after this, I swear!

PALMIRA

I’m not trying to get rid of you.

AMANDA

You are! You told my dad I was too old to be babysat, and then you run off here to do your astriophissics or whatever!

PALMIRA

Ok, ok, I’ll listen.

AMANDA

Ok. You know when Uncle Harlow died, my mom looked through his will, where he says the last stuff he wants us to do and have…

PALMIRA

I know what a will is.

AMANDA

Well in the will, my mom found these instructions for a treasure hunt in this house. He said that if we complete the hunt we’ll ‘understand his life story’ and hear his last words. But we never found the first clue until just now! It was deep in his pile of old books.

PALMIRA

So if I finish this treasure hunt for you, you’ll let me study.

AMANDA

Yes!

PALMIRA stands up, reaches over the TV, and pulls out a sheet of paper from the tangle of cables resting there.

PALMIRA

Found it.

AMANDA

What? You cheated!

PALMIRA

I found it by accident two years ago. Look, “The Last Words of Uncle Harlow:”

AMANDA

La la la la la la la la la la can’t hear you!

PALMIRA

That was a good hunt. Thanks, Amanda.

AMANDA

C’mon, we gotta do this! It’s what he wanted!

PALMIRA

All Harlow wanted-

AMANDA

Uncle Harlow.

PALMIRA

All Uncle Harlow wanted was to watch TV 24-7. I bet all his clues ended up behind there.

AMANDA

You’re mean! Harlow planned this for us!

PALMIRA

I’ve got plans too. We played last Sunday. That was good enough for both of us.

PALMIRA starts taking notes in her book. AMANDA lets out a high-pitched screech, jolting PALMIRA’S pen. After a hyperventilation, AMANDA screams again.

PALMIRA

Christ! Grow up!

AMANDA

We’re doing this the right way, for Uncle Harlow. It’s what grown-ups do.

PALMIRA

Fine, fine, you’re right. I still reserve the right to walk out.

AMANDA

Yay! Ok, here’s what I found: “Congratulations, my ‘only friends’! This is the beginning of my posthumous scavenger hunt. As Bilbo would say, ‘If you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ They say beginnings are important because that’s where things begin.”

PALMIRA rolls her eyes, scoffs.

AMANDA

Stop that!

PALMIRA

Sorry.

AMANDA

“Members of the Weigand tribe, you are about to go on an important quest, and learn about your dear Uncle Harlow’s life. You may not be prepared for the truth, but it is my truth. Adjust your thinking caps, it’s time for a riddle!

This starts the last part of my last will.

Begin at the site of Jack and Jill.”

Hmmmm… I wonder… it could be…

PALMIRA

(disbelief over obviousness of clue)

It’s a hill.

AMANDA

Yeah, I guess so.

EXT: Hill within walking distance of the house. Day.

AMANDA and PALMIRA climb up the hill. PALMIRA carries a shovel.

PALMIRA

Wow, what hard work. Think of all of the precious seconds he sacrificed for that ingenious riddle!

Am I being too sarcastic?

AMANDA

Yeah.

PALMIRA

Ok, sorry, that’s beneath me.

AMANDA

You should be nice to Uncle Harlow. I try really hard on things too, especially art class since my brother says I stink at it. I showed everyone my painting of a big party and everyone else said it was good, so I’m gonna make more.

PALMIRA

I just don’t know what to do. We know how this ends…

AMANDA

You know.

PALMIRA

… and none of us liked him. It’s why we don’t send monkeys to space anymore. We know what happens and no one wants to clean up the mess. Do you remember when you used to call him “Smelly Uncle?”

AMANDA

He’s my smelly uncle.

PALMIRA

Barely. I’m not sure you caught on to this, but when he claimed he’d forgotten our birthdays on purpose so he could surprise us later? He was lying. He’d actually forget.

AMANDA

He gave me that collector’s edition Hannah Montana: The Movie, and he’d share all those spicy chips with me.

PALMIRA

He gave a little, I guess. I suppose I should be grateful too.

AMANDA

My teacher tells me that gratitude is the sign of civilization.

PALMIRA

Oh, that reminds me. Thank you notes for my interviewers. Another thing I should be doing.

The two girls reach the top of the hill.

PALMIRA

Now I’m not sure if you’ve gone digging before, but it’s not as easy as it looks. If he’s any good at this, then he probably dug it in deep.

PALMIRA sticks her shovel into the ground. It only goes in half an inch before hitting a loud CLUNK.

PALMIRA

Huh. Well, this is Harlow we’re talking about.

PALMIRA and AMANDA soon dig up the box from its shallow hole.

AMANDA

Ok, let’s go. I’ve done a bunch of riddles before, even though I needed my mom’s help with my riddle book. I bet that last clue was just a warm-up.

PALMIRA

Sure.

AMANDA

I’m serious!

AMANDA pulls out a note from the box, which is a rusty, space-themed vintage lunchbox.

AMANDA

“When I was young, I would run to this hill if I ever needed to be alone. One day, an eight-year old me ran up here and didn’t want to go back down. My parents wouldn’t let me watch TV, they wanted me to find a goal for my life. That night, the moon came up full. A voice in my head gave me a purpose: to meet this voice one day on the moon. I looked through the newspapers and concluded that this voice belonged to Neil Armstrong.”

PALMIRA

Sounds like the plot of some weird kid’s cartoon.

AMANDA

“Is a nest where birds find their rest?

What room in the house do I hold ABOVE the rest?”

PALMIRA

Oh come on. Attic.

AMANDA

Now let’s see… it’ll be on the upper floors of the house…

PALMIRA

Attic.

AMANDA

It’s near where birds build their nests…

PALMIRA

Attic.

AMANDA

He likes the room…

PALMIRA

I’ve found this one too. It’s in the attic.

AMANDA

Ok, fine! It’s the stupid attic! Jeez!

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2.

New Caveton: Part 1

The draft of a screenplay I’m working on. It’s about anarchists and other fringe members of society. Would love to hear what you think so far!

INT. MESSY BEDROOM, MADE BED- NOT EVEN DAWN YET

BIRD’S EYE

Alarm clock shrieking, kids yelling, babies crying, objects crashing outside the room. WATCH’s small eyes jolt open. Though the room around him is swarms with AARP magazines, infomercial exercise gear and computer tablets, the bedding below WATCH remains made. His wife, to his side, large yet barely noticeable, sleeps under her half of the covers, turns over and tucks in. WATCH rubs his flat nose, his smooth chin, his spiraling hair. Everything in his body emits the absolute dread for the day to come, bracing for what he’s about to do.

QUICK MONTAGE OF WATCH’S MORNING ROUTINE

1. He showers, too tall for the shower head.

2. He cleans up the various feminine bathroom products clotting the bathroom sink and cabinet.

3. He makes the bed. Wife has left it.

4. he dresses one of the babies, a boy.

5. he dresses one of the babies, a girl

6. he clears a path through the toy-stricken living room.

7. he makes three beds in one of the rooms

8. his hand cracks an egg on the kitchen counter

INT. Yellow Kitchen- DAWN

All the stovetops on the oven burn as WATCH flips eggs on four pans, each one a different style. To his side, bacon fries on a separate cooker. The news plays on a propped up tablet next to him.

ANCHOR

Protestors in New Caveton have surrounded the area’s police station and courthouse, while the world watches to see whether Officer Aaron Baak will be indicted for the death of Afra Abd Al-Rashid. Baak claims Abd Al-Rashid reached for his gun, but critics of this story ask why he responded with twelve shots into the Muslim woman and her cat. Most of the witnesses, comprised of minorities, have been jailed for unknown crimes. The protests remain peaceful, though no one can say for certain how long.

The news cuts to a protestor interview

PROTESTOR

As long as that police station thumbs its big nose at us, we’re reminded that this is a free country only for the rich and white. My friends, my brothers, will continue to protest with civil disobedience. But as long as these atrocities continue to emerge from there? It’ll only be a matter of time before uncivil disobedience comes to town.

The eggs are done. WATCH divides them into four plates, then carries the plates over to the table where the other five members of the family scream, chat, and shout. He sets down plates one by one.

His eldest son, when his breakfast is set down, pushes it off the table and laughs. While the boy’s mother begins an ineffectual scolding, WATCH bends down the clean the gooey mess off of the floor.

INT. MESSY BEDROOM, MADE BED- After breakfast

WATCH walks into the room with deliberate steps. He carries an envelope, which he places on his pillow. It’s thick with money. Attached is a note written with a chaotic, yet legible scrawl: “For the best.” WATCH walks out.

INT. YELLOW KITCHEN- DAWN (LATER)

WATCH, briefcase in hand and tie grasping him, stands to leave the mess of running kids, greasy plates, and strewn chairs. His wife kisses him on the cheek.

WIFE

Don’t die.

It’s a cute, inconsequential joke, and WATCH treats it as such. He opens the door and exits the house.

quick montage of watch looking at camera.

1. WATCH at a train station. his face is pale.

2. watch on a crowded train. his features are still.

3. Watch at a dirty bus stop. his breathing can’t be seen.

4. watch on a metallic bus. his skin is cold.

5. watch in a talkative and crowded elevator. his eyes are glazed over.

INT. CUBICLE FARM- OBNoXIOUSLY LIT

They haven’t answered WATCH yet. He holds up the phone tight to his ear, refusing to lean back and wrinkle his perfect collared shirt and tie. He turned 60 a month ago.

He looks around and smiles, because he’s the only one in the office who’s not surfing Reddit or snoozing off or contemplating hanging himself on a doorknob. He is a responsible man, and proves it with each deliberate motion.

But the phone rings. And rings. And rings. And rings. And rings. And his desk is neat: he has no work to catch up on.

So he grabs a pen and throws it at the ceiling. The pen sticks for a while, then falls into WATCH’s hand.

INT. CUBICLE FARM- FROM THE FLOOR

We see a woman’s sensible business shoes traverse across a spotless floor. From here, the whiteness of the cubicles is nearly overwhelming.

INT. CUBICLE FARM- WATCH’S SPACE

WATCH has made an ‘A’ with a crescent on its side out of the holes his pen dart imprinted on the ceiling. The pen falls again into WATCH’s hand, the same hand checking a pocket watch. He throws the pen back up.

OFFICE LADY, the same woman with the sensible shoes, arrives and stands right underneath the stuck pen. She’s higher up on the corporate ladder than him, but in a different field of work, not that she cares.

OFFICE LADY

We need to talk.

WATCH

It’s my final call before lunch.

OFFICE LADY steps forward and presses the receiver button on the landline phone’s base. As she steps back into place, the pen in the ceiling wobbles a bit.

OFFICE LADY

I’m concerned for you. And because I’m concerned for you, I reported your behavior to Mr. Fring. I would like an apology.

WATCH

What shall I apologize for?

OFFICE LADY

When you’re a part of the Public Relations team, there are certain sensibilities, which means attitudes, one must convey at all times. You should have them in your notes. They are: constant cheer, unwavering loyalty to the company’s message, and the focus on our product. We are a team, and that means deferring to the decisions of others, no matter what you may think is a better route to take. When that woman sent her suicide bombing threat on our Facebook page, Tom replied with the same proactive spirit (that means can-do spirit) and company-focus that represents who we are as an enterprise. When you interrupted his dialogue with the woman to give the number for a suicide hotline, it sends the wrong message. We are a feel-good company, and we focus on the product so we can then help our customers through the product. This is what Tom established with his exchange with the woman, and you interrupting to send an off-message missive, which means-

WATCH

It wasn’t about the woman.

OFFICE LADY

I beg your pardon?

WATCH

The longer that message train got, the worse it made us look.

OFFICE LADY

The point is that this isn’t an aspect of the situation that you were allowed to take into your own hands. Tom has complained to me several times about how this makes him look to both the woman and the company. And I found out that that number does not lead to a suicide hotline.

WATCH

It’s my number.

OFFICE LADY

And putting your own number-

WATCH

I can’t trust just anyone to help her. She came to us first.

OFFICE LADY

Mr. Guillory, you cannot put out information that separates you from our Facebook page. Doing such a decision shows a manner of irresponsibility that ill fits the company, especially when it’s not even the correct number.

WATCH

I know about feeling helpless.

OFFICE LADY

Mr. Fring has suspended your administrator privileges on the Facebook page. You need to apologize to Tom for superseding his authority, apologize to Mr. Fring for violating company policy, and apologize to me for bringing me in to sort an issue that you must know better about.

WATCH

Yes.

OFFICE LADY

Yes what?

WATCH

I will apologize.

SILENCE. OFFICE LADY looks expectant at WATCH. The pen in the ceiling begins to slide.

WATCH

The sooner I apologize to the others, the sooner I’ll apologize to you. If you’ll excuse me.

OFFICE LADY

Good day, Mr. Guillory.

OFFICE LADY walks further down the hall, then turns a corner. WATCH stands up, and exits the cubicle. The pen falls on his neatly shaped hair, but he ignores it.

Close up of watch:

WATCH walks down the hallway, his face as blank as before. OFFICE LADY steps out of the room. This is when the bomb goes off. With the BANG, we see the flash and the flying debris from the same enclosed room OFFICE LADY just walked out of. She falls, then scurries away. The screams begin. With smoke comes fire alarm and the shower from the sprinklers.

WATCH keeps walking. His expression does not change.

He enters the nearby elevator.

INT. ELEVATOR- STERILE

The elevator doors close on WATCH. The moment he’s alone, he loses composure, holding his ears and pain and crying out.

WATCH

Son of a bitch that hurts!

INT. OFFICE BUILDING LOBBY- NOON

“Comfort Eagle,” by CAKE, plays as the elevator doors open and WATCH walks into the lobby with big sunglasses on. He runs a hand through his hair to mess it up.

EXT. BIG CITY- NOON

A hand pulls out a car key and presses the button. The lights flicker on a white van labeled FRING ELECTRONICS REPAIR in faded bright colors. WATCH clutches the keys tighter and walks towards it.

He sees a piece of gum on the sidewalk. With the smoke of the building behind him leaking into the big white sky, he picks up the gum and walks down the block to put it in a trash can.

EXT. GRAFFITI-COVERED ALLEYWAY- NOON

TIE’s name comes from the impossibly black tie around her teenage neck and in front of her loose t-shirt. She’s talking with a police officer and gesturing to the big red anarchist ‘A’ recently sprayed onto the wall next to them. TIE looks concerned. The cop takes diligent notes, absorbing every word she says.

Suddenly, there’s a HONK. The cop turns to see the FRING ELECTRONICS REPAIR van in the alley.

When he turns back, TIE sprays him with a can of paint. She runs to the van. As the cop screams and clutches his face, we see the paint’s the same shade of red that makes up the big ‘A’.

The cop finally takes his hands off his face, and looks up to see the van. The van begins chasing him down the alley.

EXT. Synagogue- noon

CANE is so named because he walks around with a wooden cane with a  vulture head, and only seems partially aware how to support himself with it. He looks way too young for it. He speaks into a bullhorn, holding up a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Behind him is a table covered in copies.

A Jewish man grabs his table by the side and flips it over, sending books everywhere.

CANE turns to face him, and we see the swastikas tattooed on both of CANE’S backhands.

Just then, we hear a HONK. The van arrives. CANE gives a wave goodbye to the Jewish man, a wave that looks suspiciously like a Nazi salute, then runs toward the van.

A hobo walks by and picks up a book, then gets immediately swatted at by the Jewish man.

EXT. CIty SIDEWALK- Noon

They call her NECKLACE because of the long necklace of animal figurines that goes the length of her teenage torso. She watches two women argue by the crosswalk. One of the women has a dog on a leash that keeps pulling away from her.

NECKLACE pulls out a dog treat from her pocket and gives it to the hungry dog.

She sets another treat a few meters away, then pulls out scissors and cuts the leash.

The dog runs to the treat. By the time the dog owner notices, NECKLACE has picked up the dog and is running to the open door of WATCH’S van.

EXT. MOUTH OF ALLEYWAY- Noon

BEARD, at the age of 16, has already grown an impressive and long black beard. He prostrates on a mat, praying to Mecca.

A heavyset man with a gold cross necklace looks over BEARD, then takes one of the many bags by BEARD’S side and makes a run for it.

BEARD looks up, smiles, then pulls out a remote.

The heavyset man turns the corner.

BEARD presses the remote.

We hear an explosion. The heavyset man runs back, screaming and on fire. He’s no longer carrying the bag.

BEARD waves to him, grabs the other bags around the mat, and tosses them into the open door of the van that just pulled up.

EXT. DIFFERENT CITY SIDEWALK- NOON

MANIFESTO carries a huge stack of papers wherever he goes. He is tall, and big-boned, and glossy-eyed.

A girl on the street offers him a leaflet about opposing capital punishment. MANIFESTO punches her.

He sees another man, who just took a leaflet form the girl. As he approaches, the man runs, leaving the leaflet behind.

MANIFESTO takes the leaflet and puts it on the same stack of leaflets by the crying girl covering her nosebleed. He mouths “You’re welcome.”

The van has pulled up. MANIFESTO lets the wind blow back his hair, then slowly walks inside. The door closes, the van pulls away.

Ext. double lane highway- day (LATER)

The van travels down the sparsely-populated highway. There’s green on all sides of them. We hear the inhabitants of the van laugh.

“Comfort Eagle” fades out.