Film Studio


 

 

Film Studio

Doom Cruise

An imaginary film curated by

Krill

INT. FILM STUDIO – THE MARDI

A small cinema screen, empty of images. The FILM STUDIO is dark and silent except for the HUM of a recently repaired projector. Sitting alone in the darkness is KRILL, a middle-aged, sinister looking clown, feeding kernels of popcorn mechanically into his mouth, his ghostly, thin face mesmerised by the light of the  empty screen.

On screen an image of SIMON PILER’s determined face appears. As the camera pans out, we see he is kitted out in full space gear and is climbing the main mast of the MARDI. The beam of a head-torch on the outside of his helmet is the only source of light in the picture. All around him is impenetrable, dark, starless space. He reaches the top of the mast and proceeds to clamber around the OBSERVATORY OF MULTITUDES up onto the roof of a wooden toadstool, where the old monk LUMERETI HEMHOCKLE is tied down with padlocked guitar cables.

SIMON: Lumereti Hemhockle! Is it true?

The old man turns his face towards him, gaunt and sickly, with dark black eyes, and bristly white stubble. He looks vaguely like an ancient version of KRILL.

LUMERETI: Doctor Simon Piler!

SIMON: Yes, it’s me –

LUMERETI: THE Doctor Simon Piler of the earthly planet. I can’t believe it!

SIMON:  (Examining the padlocks) It’s time for you to come down.

LUMERETI: Down? Down from where?

SIMON: You chained yourself to the roof of the Observatory… on the Mardi…

LUMERETI: The Mardi! (Coughing violently) Oh, she is fast, she is beautiful! She is the finest ship in all the galaxies! The flames make her go ever so much faster and put glare –

SIMON: Into the eyes of space pirates, yes we know.

LUMERETI: Yes. YES! You know!

SIMON: Lumereti, you’re dying. You need to help me get these confounded padlocks off…

LUMERETI: (Merrily) Dying?

SIMON: Yes, I finally figured out the Kerouacian glyphs.

LUMERETI begins to laugh hysterically.

SIMON: What’s so funny?

LUMERETI: You are a very clever man, Doctor Simon Piler, but I must tell you that I am not dying. Quite the opposite, in fact. It would seem that you have been a – (begins to laugh again, part-choking)

SIMON: What?

LUMERETI: (Suppressing the laughter with some difficulty) Reading the prophecy upside down… (the old man pauses, tears welling up in his eyes.) In fact, any second now, I am about to be born. (Grins)

LUMERETI HEMHOCKLE bursts into radiant light. As the light burns brighter, we catch an almost subliminal glimpse of SIMON PILER,  a tiny silhouette on his knees, blinded  at the top of the MARDI, the vast darkness around the ship illuminated. In the void are stationary asteroids like giant paper balls, twenty to fifty smallish moons of different hues, the carcasses of spaceships hung powerless in space, and way off into the distance, a small spinning plastic arrow with the word EXIT on it. Finally, the light pouring from the HEMHOCKLE star obliterates everything we see and the screen becomes a phosphorescent white glow.

LEGEND (V/O): Ah, there you are. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Legend and I am here to introduce a film quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before; a project that was  painstakingly pieced together over several decades from as many as 679 million billion fragmented clips by an old clown in hiding who called himself “Krill”. Krill’s “Doom Cruise” is many things to many beings in our Unimerse: a cinematic prophecy of things to come, a scholarly revelation of things that were done, a clumsily scripted tale of horror on board an old wooden ship, and a magical snapshot of life for that small gang of misfits who called themselves “The Utica Flower Company”. My good friend, Gffrikirik, claims that the film emits from a strange primordial machine known as “The Moviola”, itself located in a log cabin far, far away from here; in another universe to be exact, and a future of a divergent reality. And yet it plays perpetually here upon this particular screen in this particular film studio on this particular ship. It is a film ever-changing, incomplete and peppered with pieces that may or may not belong, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Though “Doom Cruise” has never actually existed in the conventional sense of existence, believe me, it is as real as you or I. Take that bright and empty cinema screen you’re looking at, and the sound of the Moviola humming away in the background. Neither the cinema screen, nor the hum are real, are they? Or are they? I don’t know about you, but if I concentrate, if I really concentrate, I am able to perceive both the screen and the sound just as clearly as I would if they existed in reality.  Come, let us imagine the screen and the sound together; and now, a picture beginning to form in the centre, and the twittering of little red birds in the treetops displaces the hum of the machine, along with the rumble of traffic, the rustle of leaves in a breeze. And suddenly it exists. It is.

EXT. FRONT OF A SUBURBAN HOUSE – LATE AFTERNOON

We focus on a boy’s hand moving a crude plasticine ship through a puddle on a front path. In the blurred background, the door of the house opens and a woman, ALFIE’s MUM, appears.

ALFIE’s MUM: (Shouting) Alfs, I’m not going to tell you again – your onions are getting cold!

The boy’s hand lingers on the ship for a second before he stands up and runs towards the blur of the house. We slowly begin to move towards the plasticine ship, speeding up as we do, and enter via a round porthole at the aft of the ship, the interior immediately coming to life.

INT. FILM STUDIO – THE MARDI – LATE MORNING

The FILM STUDIO is lit up only by the light from the large projector screen on the left hand wall. There are eight plastic chairs in total. In the front row sit SIMON PILER, BRENDON HERTZ, DEF MUTE, and SCARYTOES (wearing various coloured jumpsuits – they whisper and laugh quietly amongst themselves). In the back row, closest to the door, are ALFIE KOLINSKY in a green shirt and blue pants, and MARIELLA DUCOTE, a businesswoman. The remaining two seats are empty. MOSS stands at the front, directly in front of the screen, her shadow imprinted on the bright white glowing background. MATTHEW THE MIGHTY, a tall young man with a ginger afro, sits at a desk at the back of the room with headphones on, clicking through stills on a small laptop, zooming in on the vague outline of a merman in dark water. MARIELLA fidgets impatiently in her seat, her silver briefcase on her knees, glancing at her watch, while ALFIE slumps down, almost horizontal, hands in pockets, staring at the ceiling.

MOSS: (Clears her throat and in a bad French accent announces) Ladies and gentlemen, Zee Utica Flower Company is proud to present –

The FILM STUDIO door kicks opens and BOGAN enters in a dirty chef’s uniform, clutching a tray laden with bowls of popcorn.

BOGAN: Popcorn! Popcorn! Who wants popcorn?
(realises that he has interrupted MOSS)
Shit, were you…? Sorry Moss.

SIMON: Bopcrons!

The ATOM BAND lift a couple of bowls, MARIELLA barely acknowledges BOGAN’s existence and ALFIE continues to stare at the ceiling.

BOGAN: (Moving with the tray still full of bowls down the back row, spilling popcorn onto MARIELLA. Pieces land in her hair and lap and she bats at them like they are mosquitoes)
Look out, coming through, coming through!

(to himself) Guess I overdid the popcorn. And the amphetamines.

MARIELLA jerks at the word “amphetamines” and stares wildly at BOGAN as if she is trying to work out whether she actually heard him correctly or not.

MOSS: Put some on my chair, Bogan.

BOGAN sits down beside ALFIE in the back row, puts a bowl on the eighth empty chair beside him, and hands another bowl back to MATTHEW who acknowledges it with a wordless thumbs up. On the laptop screen, he is now on a webpage for a company called “FCSC Electricals”. There are thumbnails of various household electrical appliances.

MOSS: (Shouting over the clamour of popcorn excitement) Okay, let’s start again. Is everybody ready?

A BARELY AUDIBLE AND UNIDENTIFIED SQUEAKY VOICE:  I was born ready!

BOGAN offers a bowl to ALFIE. ALFIE sits forward and mechanically feeds a handful into his mouth, then begins to chew lifelessly.

MOSS: (In an even worse French accent than her original attempt) Ladiez and gentlemen, Zee Utica Flower Company is proud to prezent… “Doom Cruise: An Imaginary Film”.

She nods to Matthew and he gets up and dims the lights. As if by magic, a colourful picture fades onto the screen, showing the MARDI, a 60ft wooden schooner docked in a port at sunrise. The picture is in bright technicolour, with the popping crackle of old film like it has been shot in 1966. THE ORANGE DROP’s “RETROGENERICA” begins to play and the picture on the screen becomes the full picture we are seeing as we zoom in towards the ship.

EXT. JACKSONVILLE HARBOUR, EARLY MORNING

In the background, various members of The Utica Flower Company can be seen bleary-eyed, laughing, smoking and boarding the ship with rucksacks slung over their shoulders. Crew members include MOSS, JONNY RCHRDSN, BOGAN, SIMON PILER, THE ATOM BAND, W, ECHOES 22, MONO MIKE, FROGVILLE, SYD LANE and FLASH. They are followed by several mechanical looking pelicans. Superimposed onto the foreground is ALFIE.

ALFIE: In early 2009, a good friend of mine – now sadly deceased – loaned me an old wooden ship he’d inherited, but had no use for. The ship was called the “Mardi”. Together with various members of our musical collective – The Utica Flower Company – our plan was to sail the Mardi around the world and record our adventures in word, songs, and film. Our first, and perhaps biggest challenge was that none of us knew a thing about sailing.



EXT. MAIN DECK OF THE MARDI, SAILING OUT OF JACKSONVILLE HARBOUR, EARLY MORNING

BOGAN, W and MOSS are standing behind the rail, waving and laughing at a small fishing boat that is clearly veering off course to avoid a collision with the Mardi as she leaves the port. Two middle-aged fishermen, one fat, one thin, are standing on the deck of the  fishing boat, shaking their fists and hurling obscenities that we can’t hear over the music. The morning sun bathes everything in a golden light.

ALFIE walks into the picture, this time he is not superimposed. The music fades out.

ALFIE: Let me show you our ship.

At the bottom of the screen is printed “ALFIE”. As we see characters throughout the following introduction, their names appear on screen beside them. An instrumental looped version of FIG MINTS (OF YOUR IMAGINATION) “UNDEAD IDEA MINES” begins to play. The camera pans away from ALFIE to the aft of the ship, where two large wooden hatch doors are open on the MAIN DECK, a ladder leading down to the STORAGE HOLD. SIMON PILER is at the bottom of the steps holding a clipboard, a black biro pen tucked behind his ear. He is surrounded by stuff.

INT. STORAGE HOLD, THE MARDI

SIMON: (You can barely see him for stuff) The Storage Hold is where we keep everything. From dog biscuits to chainsaws, frog call identification tapes, to essential screnches…
(He unhooks his scrench from his belt and holds it up to the camera, smiling)
We’ve got a ridiculous amount of stuff! It’s my job as Quartermaster to keep track of it all! Colloidal zim!

A large red insect, about the size of a tennis ball, zzubs backwards past his head and his eyes follow it. The camera follows SIMON’s eyes and jump cuts to the corridor outside the RECORDING STUDIO.

INT. THE CORRIDOR OUTSIDE THE RECORDING STUDIO, THE MARDI

ECHOES 22 is standing in front of the RECORDING STUDIO door. On the door is a picture of a man being electrocuted and the words “DANGER: RECORDING IN PROGRESS”. ECHOES 22 tilts his head to one side and picks a large piece of grey crud from his ear, examining it on his fingertip before looking up into the camera.

ALFIE (V/O): What’s that?


ECHOES 22: Uh, I think it might be a piece of my brain.
(He pops the piece of brain into his mouth and points at the door)
This is our Recording Studio. Someone’s in there right now, making a record. I think.

(He points at the door directly opposite)

And this is our mobile Quixodelic Record Store, where all of the records go when they’re finished.

He opens the QUIXODELIC RECORDS STORE door. Over his shoulder, we see a dense, tropical jungle that stretches back impossibly into the room beyond him. Suddenly, a figure crashes through the foliage. The figure is wearing a red superhero costume, with a white mask and cape, and knee high socks.

SUPERHERO: (Vanishing back into the trees) Baaaaaattttttssss! Ruuuunnnnnnnn!

ECHOES 22 shuts the door and looks back at the camera in a state of bewilderment. He opens the door for a second time, and this time we see the QUIXODELIC RECORD STORE as a regular room, but in complete disarray. On a desk in the corner sits several messy stacks of CDs and cassettes. The rest of the room looks like it has been abandoned mid-renovation, with splintered wood, boxes of nails, polythene taped across the porthole, wood shavings and a couple of empty rum bottles.

ECHOES 22: (Looks back at the camera, chewing) Fuck. Did that just really happen?

INT. THE BRIDGE, THE MARDI.


ALFIE sits behind the wooden wheel with his feet up on it, smoking, an inflatable journal in his lap, black biro pen in his hand. He wears a green t-shirt that says “The Utica Flower Company”. In the background, a big map of the world hangs on the wall, with blue pins charting the ship’s progress. Several machines hum and blink along the wall – a state-of-the-art navigation system, a hi-fi and a battered laptop controlling the background music that is played throughout the ship via wall-mounted speakers. FIG MINTS “EXERCISES IN FUTILITY” CD is clearly visible.

ALFIE: Welcome to the Bridge.
(points to the big wooden wheel)
That’s the wheel, though it doesn’t actually work. I think it’s just for show.

(pauses)

Somebody stole our compass too.
(pauses)

And our Jack Kerouac portrait from the Hall of Heroes.

(gestures towards the machines on the desk behind him)

Thankfully we have a state-of-the-art navigation system to guide us around the world, or else we’d be fucked.

INT. COMMUNICATIONS BAY, THE MARDI


W crouches in the foreground, repairing the punctured tyre of a bicycle. In the background are two SUPERCOMPUTERS labelled SAM (left facing) and NIKO (right facing). SYD LANE sits at one typing an email, FROGVILLE sits at the other surfing EBAY for peg-legs. To the right, MOSS is talking on the wall-mounted telephone with her back turned to the camera. Her t-shirt reads “CHIEF ENGINEER”.

W: (Concentrating on the bicycle) Welcome to Black Ops HQ, the home of our two supercomputers, SAM and NIKO, and the only room on the ship with a working telephone – our Communications Bay. Here, we contact the outside world and foolishly hope that someday somebody somewhere will be interested in what we’re doing.

ALFIE (V/O): In your opinion, W, what are we doing?

W: (Looks up and into the camera) Fuck knows. If we knew, we probably wouldn’t be doing it.

INT. FILM STUDIO, THE MARDI

As described above. MOSS sits alone in the front row watching “DOOM CRUISE” on the screen. On screen is the FILM STUDIO, showing MOSS sitting alone in the front row, watching “DOOM CRUISE” on the screen, and this is repeated infinitely smaller and smaller.

MOSS: (Turning to look at camera, as she does, the MOSS on screen mirrors her actions) Hey. This is our film studio. We’re making an imaginary film. You’re probably imagining it right now.

INT. THE ART GALLERY, THE MARDI


The small room is stacked full of paintings and photographs, mostly abstract and almost all of them various sizes of square. Suddenly SIMON PILER’s head appears in the middle of the room (he has been crouching behind a large canvas depicting a seahorse). He is wearing the ship’s snazzy polka-dot thinking cap and is brushing his teeth. He holds up a sign that says “ART GALLERY” with pictures of lightning bolts around it.

SIMON: (With a mouthful of toothpaste) Do you have teeth? So do I. That’s why I use GLEEM!

At this he looks around and THE ATOM BAND also emerge from behind canvases all around the room. They are also brushing their teeth. All of them wear shades and carry various objects that include calculators, an abacus, a torch, and geiger-counter.

THE ATOM BAND: GLEEM!

INT. THE COMPANY BOARDROOM, THE MARDI

An enclosed square room with no windows and ten comfortable leather seats in a ring around a solid oak table. On the wall at the back of the room is a drinks cabinet stocked up with an assortment of rum, and boxes of sticking plasters. In the seats are (in an anti-clockwise direction): JONNY RCHRDSN fast asleep leaning on the table; MOSS scratching a flower into the table with a badge pin; BOGAN in chef’s hat, pouring himself a drink of rum; ALFIE sitting with his knees up on the edge of the table; and SIMON PILER turning round to face the camera.

SIMON: (With ridiculously shiny teeth) Welcome to the Company Boardroom. You’re very lucky to see this place as very important top secret decisions are made here.
(He stands up and throws a tartan rug over the camera lens and everything goes black.)

SIMON (V/O): All I’m saying is that 4.53 on a Friday morning isn’t such an unreasonable hour, is it? I mean, Bon Jovi’s not my cup of tea at all, but it’s not like we have neighbours or anything.

MOSS (V/O): I vote that we turn over every room on the ship, find out who owns that record and then make them walk the plank. We need to be clear: Bon Jovi WILL NOT be tolerated! Not at 4.53, not at 6.79, not ever, EVER!

ALFIE (V/O): Do we even have a plank?

BOGAN (V/O): I should go. I think I can smell one of the giant hamburgers burning.

A seat pushes back, there are footsteps and then a door opens and closes.

ALFIE (V/O): I think I know how we can get rid of Bon Jovi once and for all, (pause) but I’ll need to borrow the time-machine again –

EVERYONE (V/O): (groans)

INT. UPPER DECK CORRIDOR – THE MARDI

ALFIE is walking slowly down the UPPER DECK corridor.

ALFIE: (Pointing to doors either side of him) We have two washrooms on the ship. One for the boys and one for Moss.

He continues on past two CABINS.

ALFIE: We have a range of living quarters. Six single cabins on the upper floor and eight double-bunkrooms directly beneath us. We also have a dormitory that sleeps up to four people. It used to be a Production Suite until I realised we weren’t actually producing anything. So I smashed it up with a scrench and stuck some bunks in it. All in all, that’s room for…
(counting in his head, starts to use his fingers, muttering)
a lot of people.

MOSS (V/O): How many crew members do we actually have, Alfs?

ALFIE: (Looks blankly into the camera) Somewhere between seven and twenty. People come and go, but I’ll be fucked if I know where. I’ve heard rumours about scurvy. And a mysterious middle deck on the ship.
(He stops outside CABIN 5)
Let’s have a look inside Cabin 5 where Dr Simon Piler and The Atom Band reside.

Camera pans around as ALFIE tries the door handle – CABIN 5 is locked. From behind it we hear something that sounds like a circus being fed to a herd of alligators. ALFIE knocks on the door and waits. A few seconds later it opens several inches and SIMON PILER pokes his head out – he is wearing a balaclava and swimming goggles, with fluorescent war-paint haphazardly daubed on his cheeks. As he opens the door, the noise from behind him engulfs the corridor – a cacophony of folk instruments, animal cries, a chainsaw, bells, traffic, running water, hysterical laughter, someone shouting “OH YEAH!” and so on. Thick pinkish smoke drifts around SIMON’s head into the corridor.

SIMON: (Clocks the camera and lifts his goggles up onto his head so as he can see better – the goggles look like they have been on too tight leaving red rings around his eyes)
Aha! How goes it this fine morning? Or evening?

ALFIE: We’re still making the imaginary film.

SIMON: Well that’s a relief.
(to somebody behind him)
Give me a second…

(mumbling from the room and something starts barking fiercely)

Well hold it down and don’t let any of the bubbles escape! We’ll need them to light the way!
(to ALFIE)
Sorry Chaplin, but we’re reaching critical mass here, so to speak.

The unmistakable sound of an elephant blaring rips out from behind SIMON, followed by an incredible squelching, bursting sound.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE INSIDE CABIN 5: (shouting) HOLY TOMAYTOES! CHECK OUT THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THIS CHOCOLATE EGG!

ALFIE: We’ll come back later.

SIMON: Yes please, most definitely do. If I can find that Sponge Bob rod then I’ll fish out the biscuits from behind my bunk.
(Turning to the room, putting his goggles back on and shutting the door behind him, shouting)
Yes, I appreciate that Brendon, but is it actually human?

ALFIE: (Turns to camera) Thankfully we only have one Cabin 5.

INT. THE RECREATION ROOM, THE MARDI


A blue ping pong table fills up almost all of the room. Table tennis bats lie on either side of the table. The camera slowly pans onto a ping-pong ball floating in space above the table at the far end of the room.

ALFIE: This is our Rec Room.
(looks at the floating ping-pong ball for a moment)
We still don’t understand it ourselves yet.
(points to a shelf in the corner of the room where a plastic badly damaged yellow elephant-shaped watering can sits)
This is what we’re playing ping-pong for – the Elephant Teapot. I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking it’s a watering can, right?
(grins)
But it’s not.

MOSS (V/O): Does it have magical powers?

ALFIE: (Confused) It’s an Elephant Teapot.

MOSS: Yeah, you said that, but what does it do exactly?

ALFIE: (Long pause, points) It’s an Elephant Teapot.

INT. THE GALLEY, THE MARDI

A mechanical looking PELICAN has just crapped all over one of the work surfaces and BOGAN (in chef’s uniform) is chasing it around the room with a broom. The PELICAN squawks frantically. The surfaces are cluttered with the ingredients for a giant hamburger. In the background, a half-eaten burger (approximately 3ft x 3ft) lies abandoned on a prep table.

BOGAN: Come here! Fuck! How many times have I warned you about shitting in the Galley, you stupid bird?

Across the foot of the screen superimposed text reads “679 TIMES”.

Camera pans round to the FREEZER door, taped closed with a handful of animal stickers on it. Dropped off stickers are barely visible, trampled into the floor. SIMON PILER walks into view, picking up a banana from a fruit bowl and peels it as he talks.

SIMON: Behind this door is our Freezer. Unfortunately there’s no time to recount to you in full what happened here and why it is taped-up with animal stickers. Let’s just say there was an outbreak of hallucinogenic ice-cream which formed a nebula that seeped into adjoining rooms, causing several of our crew to mass hallucinate that we’d travelled back in time to 1966, and other unspeakable incidents that I’ll refrain from talking about, on camera at least. For now, the nebula has been contained by myself and The Atom Band, but its mysterious properties continue to pose a very real threat to our life upon the Mardi. Who knows, maybe even planet Earth itself. Thanks to cutting edge scratch and sniff technology ladies and gentlemen, if you would care to lean forward in your seats and start scratching your television screens, you can experience the intoxicating aroma of the nebula for yourself…
(closes his eyes and waves his hands – still holding the banana – inhaling the smell, grins)
I’m just kidding about the scratch and sniff thing. But we’re working on it. B-127, VHF Olfractory Node. Def Mute, how is B-127 coming along?

Camera pans round to DEF MUTE, one of the ATOM BAND. He shrugs his shoulders and stamps his foot on the floor twice before sticking out his wiggly tongue. Behind him, the ongoing scuffle between BOGAN and the PELICAN which has been going on throughout SIMON’s monologue, getting louder and louder, culminates with the camera being knocked out of MOSS’s hands, BOGAN’s cheek suddenly flat against the screen.

BOGAN: Mother (digital bleep)!

SIMON (V/O): (As the camera rolls across the ground with BOGAN, feathers flashing, PELICAN squawking) You nearly had him there, champ!

INT. THE ANCHOR HOLD, THE MARDI

SIMON PILER is sitting on top of a large anchor which looks like Ron Burgundy’s head.

SIMON: (pats the anchor) Our strange but enigmatic anchor, Ron Burgundy. And behind us –
(indicates a shelf of four big baskets) are our hot-air balloons. We’ve not used them for a while, but they’re here for dreamtime expeditions to the mainland and beyond. We used to have a grand piano submarine too, but unsurprisingly it was lost to the ocean on its maiden voyage. There was something I didn’t quite catch about doppelgangers. You’d need to ask Alfie about that one.

INT. THE AFT HOLD, THE MARDI

A series of lopsided portraits hang in a row – historical figures including ALFRED JARRY, HUNTER S THOMPSON, CHARLIE CHAPLIN, JONI MITCHELL, DON QUIXOTE and others. There is a glaring space where one picture has been removed. SIMON PILER, DEF MUTE, and SCARYTOES walk into view and gaze at the portraits for several seconds.

SIMON: (Turning to the camera) The Aft Hold, also known as our “Hall of Heroes”.

He notices that someone has drawn in pen some glasses, a squiggly moustache and horns on the portrait of STEVE ZISSOU.

SIMON: Vandals!

DEF MUTE claps his hands twice and does a press up on the floor, before impersonating a raincloud.

SIMON: What’s that, Def Mute? You believe it was those curious little creatures who live behind the refrigerator in Bunkroo-

Jump cut.

INT. MACHINE SHOP, THE MARDI


Near blackness. Creepy music, DEAD CANARIES “Case of the Missing Flash Light” plays over steady whirs and clacking of invisible machinery. A torch flickers on and KATASTROPHI looks directly into the camera, seemingly doing an impression of the Blair Witch Project.

KATASTROPHI: I’m so scared. I don’t know what I’m doing here –
(she bursts out laughing)
Seriously, where am I? Alfie, is that you?
(suddenly her torch goes out; a male voice screams in terror off-camera causing KATASTROPHI to scream as well)
What was that?
(chilling ghostly whispering and scurrying sounds)

Hello?

(heavy breathing)

Hello?

Jump cut.

INT. ENGINE ROOM, THE MARDI

MOSS stands in front of a blue COMMANDER carpet cleaner. Her face is grubby with soil, ice-cream and engine oil.

MOSS: This is the Engine Room. Originally I had plans to turn it into a secret garden, but the lack of windows and light meant that it was really only good for growing mushrooms.
(turns to carpet cleaner)
And this is Charlie Kaufman, our ship’s engine. It’s complicated how I got hold of him and…
(grins sheepishly)
I feel silly saying it.

ALFIE (V/O): Just say it.

MOSS: Okay. (long pause) Well, we have reason to believe that Charlie Kaufman is no ordinary engine. He’s actually a time-machine. We’ve um – we’ve not quite figured out how he works yet, but…
(pulls out an Instruction manual from behind the engine)
…I’m working through this instruction manual.

ALFIE (V/O): How’s that coming along?

MOSS: I’ve just about finished the front cover.

ALFIE (V/O): (Laughs) How long have you been reading it?

MOSS: About a month and a half.

INT. LIBRARY, THE MARDI

A comfy sofa with a black blanket thrown over it, a small table with a lamp, and empty wooden bookshelves. ALFIE sits on the sofa talking to someone off camera. He is wearing a green skull mask.

ALFIE: Katastrophi? Who the fuck’s Katastrophi?

JONNY RCHRDSN (V/O): The girl with the toadstool posters.

ALFIE: Oh! You mean Katie Trophy? No, I’ve not seen her since… (laughs nervously, takes a swig from a bottle of rum) Are we filming this?

MOSS (V/O): Yeah.

ALFIE: (Clears throat) Shit. Hi, this is me, uh, Alfie, speaking to you from the ship’s Library!
(He indicates the shelves to his right, empty but for a single book, Dostoyevsky’s “Crime & Punishment”)
It’s a work in progress.

(Smiles for several seconds)

INT. SOUND LABORATORY, THE MARDI

SIMON PILER is eating the same banana from the earlier scene in the GALLEY, while THE ATOM BAND sit in seats behind him. They are going through spools of tape, cutting them up with scissors and gluing them onto reels. Completed reels are spinning on a large, peculiar  machine called a MOVIOLA. Spools of tape run to and fro across SIMON and the camera like a spider’s web. Occasionally one of these get tugged and SIMON has to adjust his position as he talks.

SIMON: This is our Sound Laboratory. To date, perhaps a little underused, but as you can see hmmf
(a spool is pulled up around his chin)
the Atom Band and I are presently engaged on a mission to capture –
(as another tape snakes around his legs and feet nearly toppling him over he turns to his associates)
– seriously! I’m trying to do a video here!

At this point a roll of tape is pulled so hard that a large amplifier falls off a unit to SIMON’s left, and he tumbles backwards landing in a giant sack of tape, trying not to laugh – the ATOM BAND continue with their experiments as if nothing has happened.

EXT. CRAW’S NEST 1, THE MARDI, EVENING

W leans against the rail looking out across the ocean as the sun begins to set, casting a magical spectrum of colours over the shimmering waves. The sunset reflects like golden fire in his eyes.

W: (Without looking at the camera) I am a robot.

ALFIE (V/O): No you’re not.

W: (Turns to the camera and grins) Yeah, but imagine how cool it would be if I was.

EXT. CRAW’S NEST 2, THE MARDI, EVENING

MOSS leans against the rail looking out across the ocean. Identical scenery to CRAW’S NEST 1. Two mechanical PELICANS can be  seen in the background, flying out of the sunset towards the MARDI, both carrying large sacks in their beaks.

MOSS: (Turns to camera) I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is the Craw’s Nest again.
(She nods and the camera pans upwards to CRAW’S NEST 1 at the top of the main mast where W is drunkenly doing a robot dance)
Funnily enough, we imaginatively call this one “Craw’s Nest 2”. It’s hardly used. In fact the only person I think that comes up here is Simon.

FROGVILLE (V/O): What be that?

MOSS: What?

FROGVILLE (V/O): The scrap o’ parchment pinned up yonder.


MOSS turns to an old parchment nailed to the Aft Mast. On it is a crude picture of the MARDI and an arrow that says “TO THE OBSERVATORY OF MULTITUDES”.

MOSS: Oh that. That’s not important. It’s just something Alfie pinned up a while ago. I don’t think anyone knows what it means. Not even him.

BOGAN (V/O): (Voice is loud as he is holding the camera) What’s an Observatory of Multitudes?

MOSS: (Crossly) How come everybody always asks me questions I don’t know the answer to?
(She lifts the parchment and underneath it is a keyhole)

Ooh!

BOGAN: What’s that? A keyhole?

FROGVILLE: Aye, it be lookin’ likes a keyhole to me, arrr.

MOSS puts her finger into the keyhole and screams.

MOSS: (Panicking) Aaaaargggh! Something’s got me! It’s eating my finger!

BOGAN: Fuuuuccckk!

FROGVILLE moves into view, he is dressed like a pirate and has a shiny new T H S E sweet metal peg-leg. He goes to grab MOSS by her free arm and pull her clear.

MOSS: I’m just kidding ya!

FROGVILLE: (Laughing) Why, you little bilge rat! I believed you, arrr!

MOSS: Oh wait…
(her face screws up in concentration)
There’s a little latch inside.

Suddenly there is an audible CLICK and a square hatch swings opens on the mast.

FROGVILLE: Blackbeard’s cutlass! What in fuck do you think that be for?

MOSS pokes her head inside the mast, looking up and then down.

MOSS: There’s light down there. Not that far.

BOGAN (V/O): What’s beneath us? Is it the Bridge?

MOSS is climbing inside the hatch backwards, lowering herself into it.

BOGAN (V/O): (Alarmed) Uh, what are you doing?

MOSS: It looks like water down there. I mean, if someone puts a hatch in the mast big enough to climb inside, then you know… it’s fine, I can swim.

FROGVILLE: Shiver me timbers! What if thar be a tank o’ sharks a’ waitin’ for ye, Miss Moss? Or…

MOSS grins and disappears from view, gives a little YELP before there is a loud SPLASH!

FROGVILLE: (Going to the hatch and looking down) …well I’ll be blown. I was just going t’ say, what if it be like a sewage tank or somethin’?

BOGAN (V/O): Can you see her?

FROGVILLE: No. Miss Moss, be you alright down thar?

MOSS: (Distant) I’m fine. It’s a big tank of water.

FROGVILLE: Be it sewage?

MOSS: No. Holy shit! You’ve got to see this!

FROGVILLE: What be ‘t?
(No answer)
Miss Moss, what be ‘t? Be ‘t treasure, arrr? Be ‘t a mountain o’ gold doubloons?
(Still no answer – he begins to climb awkwardly into the hatch as well)
I’m going down. Be you comin’ Master Cook? Miss Moss, I be comin’ down!

MOSS: (Distant) Okay, go for it!

BOGAN (V/O): What about the camera?

FROGVILLE: Neremind yer camera, let’s go find ou’ what ‘tis, arrr!

FROGVILLE disappears from view, followed by another SPLASH! The camera goes over to the hatch and looks down, adjusting to the darkness of a hollow tunnel carved through the centre of the mast and at the end of it, several metres away, is shimmering clear blue water, illuminated by the spectral lights from the OBSERVATORY. FROGVILLE’s head is visible for a second before he clambers out of the tank below.

BOGAN (V/O): Frogville?

FROGVILLE: (Shouting) Well I’ll be blown!That’s…


BOGAN (V/O): What? What is it?

FROGVILLE: (Shouting) It be… a thousand feet tall. I’m nay exaggeratin’. Like a giant…

MOSS: (Her face appears at the bottom of the tunnel, excited) It’s like a giant microscope! BOGAN, you should come and see this!

FROGVILLE: (Still shouting) By the ballsack of Beelzebub ‘imself, it be one o’ the most amazing things I’ve ereseen! Th’ lights be… dang and blast, I don’t know where this place be, but tis no longer on ‘t ship, tha’ be for sure. Nay joking with ye, Master Cook, it really must be o’er a thousand feet tall.

MOSS: I think it must be the OOM that I keep hearing Simon and Alfs talk about! Come on Bogan, leave the camera and come down!


BOGAN: (Muttering) What the fuck am I doing?

The camera jostles and switches off.

INT. THE WARDROOM, THE MARDI

Most of the crew are sitting in plastic chairs around several smaller tables pushed together, all looking at the camera. Bottles of rum and cans of Irn Bru fill up the tables.

CREW: (Together, lifting plastic tumblers) Our Wardroom!

JONNY RCHRDSN: (delayed) Wardroom! Oops.

Much laughter around the table, a couple of groans.

ALFIE: (Getting up and walking over to the camera) Fucking hell, Jonny, that’s five takes. It’s not that complicated.

JONNY: Sorry, I wasn’t concentrating.
(to crew)
What? It’s been a long day!

ALFIE: Okay, let’s try it again.
(Messing with the camera, everybody groans)
Wardroom – Take 6 – everybody ready this time?

JONNY: Our Ward- ! Shit. Sorry.

The picture and intro music fade out.

INT. LOWER DECK, OUTSIDE THE SICK BAY, THE MARDI


Close up of the  green medical cross on the SICK BAY door. Someone has scribbled in permanent marker pen “THE DRUGSTORE” to one side of it. The door swings partially open. ALFIE sits forward anxiously, animated on what appears to be a psychiatrist’s couch. He is talking with WILLOUGHBY TOAD, whom we don’t see throughout the scene. WILLOUGHBY’s voice is eerily similar to ALFIE’s.

ALFIE: What did you do with her, Willoughby?

WILLOUGHBY: I didn’t do anything with anyone. I don’t even know who you’re talking about…

ALFIE: The Health Inspector! Mariella Whatsherface.

WILLOUGHBY: No. Still not ringing any bells.

ALFIE: You said you were going to hide so that nobody would know you were here –

WILLOUGHBY: Nobody does know I’m here.

ALFIE: – and you were going to play pranks on the crew… for the film, remember? That was the deal. What happened to that dead cow I got you?

WILLOUGHBY: I gave it to Bogan for his giant burgers.

ALFIE: All I wanted was for you to try and help create a feeling of impending doom. That’s why our film is called “Doom Cruise”. I didn’t ask you to make people disappear! That’s taking it too far. Mariella, Syd, Monomike, Katastrophi, Allan Douglas, Echoes 22, hell, I haven’t even seen Frogville peg-legging around in weeks. What did you do with the bodies, Willoughby? Or did you just push them over the side of the ship?

WILLOUGHBY: (sighs) Okay, you’ve got me. I just pushed them over the side of the ship.

ALFIE: Fuck! Did you?

WILLOUGHBY: No. (pause) Listen Alfie, I don’t even know who half those people you’re talking about are. I mean, Katastrophi? Are you sure they were even on the ship to begin with?

ALFIE: Katastrophi’s the girl with the mushroom posters.

WILLOUGHBY: Oh! You mean Katie Trophy? Jim flew her back to the States a couple of weeks ago. I think.

ALFIE: Wait a minute. Is Jim in on this too? Is he carving up the bodies with that chainsaw of his?

WILLOUGHBY: What? No! Fucking hell, Alfie!That’s ridiculous! (Lights a cigarette behind the door) Say, what happened to the drugs cabinet? Who put all those jam jars in there? And what sort of fucking weird ass jams are they anyway?

ALFIE: Stop trying to change the subject. (pause) Tell me again what you’re doing here, Willoughby.

WILLOUGHBY: I fell down the tunnel and cut my knee. I needed a plaster, so I waited until everyone was asleep and tiptoed along to the Sick Bay. But there’s no plasters left. Only rum. Fuckloads of rum. And strange jams that smell like mushroom. Then you walked in.

ALFIE: What tunnel?

WILLOUGHBY: Huh?

ALFIE: You said you fell down a tunnel. What tunnel are you talking about?

WILLOUGHBY: I never said tunnel. I said… look, I’m not going to argue with you, Alfie. You’re obviously stressed, what with your “Invisible Box-Set” project coming up and Simon kicking your ass at ping-pong, and everything else that goes with Not-Captaining the Mardi. (pause) Why don’t I take over for a couple of months, huh? You could fly home and see your family, get some rest, head back out in the New Year and I’ll go into hiding again. We’ve already switched places plenty of times and nobody noticed.

ALFIE: I’m going to ask you this again, one last time, and I want you to tell me the truth. If I think you’re lying, then I’m telling the rest of the crew that you’re here –

WILLOUGHBY: You can’t do that! We’ve already gone over this a thousand times. We can’t trust any of them…

ALFIE: Willoughby Toad, tell me the truth.

WILLOUGHBY: I’m here to protect the Mardi. That’s still all you need to know.

ALFIE: Remind me again who you’re protecting it from?

WILLOUGHBY: Still The First Court of the Solar Corona.

ALFIE: But you don’t know who this First Court are?

WILLOUGHBY: Nope.

ALFIE: You really believe that one of our crew is working for them?

WILLOUGHBY: One, two, three of our crew, four, maybe more. Who knows? Maybe it’s you, Alfie Kolinsky. Fuck, I mean, for all I know, maybe in the end the bad guy turns out to be me. All we can do is be ready, keep our eyes open and watch out for anything strange happening.

ALFIE: Everything happening here is strange. It’s like a bad dream.

(long pause)

WILLOUGHBY: So tell me about this Health Inspector again. Where does she fit into our story?

ALFIE: (sighs) It was one morning. We’d been sailing for a month or so…

EXT. MAIN DECK OF THE MARDI – LATE MORNING

Bright sunshine, blue skies, a small helicopter buzzing away from the MARDI. ALFIE is standing on the MAIN DECK directly in front of the COMMUNICATIONS BAY, in heated conversation with MARIELLA DUCOTE, a middle-aged woman in a business suit with a silver briefcase at her feet. Slightly behind them are another woman with an incredibly long nose; her hands on the shoulders of an eleven year old boy. These are MRS TAMMU READ and her son, FONN READ. Further round are ALLAN DOUGLAS in a Beatlesque grey suit and WILL CARPENTER, heavily bearded with shades and a trapper hat. Both have rucksacks slung over their shoulders and are shaking hands with JONNY RCHRDSN, smiling.

ALFIE: I don’t care who gave you permission to get on the helicopter. I mean, surely there must be some sort of protocol for this kind of thing? You can’t just board a ship and expect to carry out an on-the-spot assessment. As far as I know, the Mardi was only refurbished a couple of months back… I’m sure the owner filed the necessary paperwork at the time…

MARIELLA: (Attempting to interject) Mr Kolinsky?

ALFIE: We’re not trying to hide anything. I mean, it’s not like we’re smugglers, or have dead bodies on the ship. It’s just that it’s really rude to turn up out of the blue like this. At the very least, you could have written to us –

MARIELLA: Actually Mr Kolinsky, we wrote to you three times.

ALFIE: Eh? Really?

MARIELLA: Really.

ALFIE: Well we certainly didn’t receive any of your letters.

JONNY: Letters? (muttering) Oh shit.

MARIELLA: It’s standard practise for the Captain of a cruise ship to file the appropriate forms at the port they depart from to ensure that the American Coastguard can carry out a thorough examination of the vessel – firstly, to ensure it complies with Health and Safety regulations, and secondly, to ratify that the necessary licenses are held, taxation has been paid etc. etc.

ALFIE: (laughing incredulous) Cruise ship?

JONNY: Alfie, remember Jim dropped off that sack of letters last week and you told me to give them to the Communications Team? Well, I went looking for the Communications Team and W told me to speak to Perry. I couldn’t find anyone called Perry, so I stuffed the sack down the back of a cabinet in the Forward Hold. I’m sorry.

ALFIE: (Pulls a face and lights the half-smoked cigarette he has been keeping behind his ear) Well for a start, Miss…?

MARIELLA: Ducote. Mariella Ducote.

ALFIE: Well for a start, Mariella, before we go any further let’s get one thing straight – I’m not the Captain of the Mardi.

MARIELLA: (sceptical) You’re not the Captain?

ALFIE: No. We’re a collective. We have no captain.

MARIELLA: But I have copies of the marine terminal application from Jacksonville and it’s clearly your signature on the forms.

ALFIE: Technically that’s not true. It was my attorney who filled those forms out for me. He may have forged my signature, though he’s not here to defend himself, so I’d be more than happy to give you his telephone number. Or email address. I’m afraid he doesn’t have a fax machine. I even have several of his records that I’d be happy to burn for you and –

TAMMU READ: Um excuse me, sir, do you know where… (she glances down at a sheet of paper)… Officer Perry is?

ALFIE: Who are you?

TAMMU: I’m Fonn Read’s mother, Tammu.

ALFIE: (stumped) I’m sorry, Fonn what?

TAMMU: Fonn Read (she pushes the boy forward gently). He won your competition to make a model of your ship. He brought it with him. Fonn, show the man…

FONN steps forward. He is dark-skinned like his mother, with nervous bright eyes. He has what appears to be a battered toastie maker with the word “DANGEROUS” penned onto it, strapped to his chest. He holds up a badly cobbled together plasticine model of the Mardi that sits in the palm of one hand.

TAMMU: Fonn’s obsessed, you know. Flower Company this, Flower Company that. You can’t imagine how much it meant to him when you chose his entry as the winner; though it’s no surprise as the artistic gene definitely runs down my side of the family. His Great-Grandfather was a gifted breakdancer, while I’ve always been involved in the theatre –

MARIELLA: I’m sorry to interrupt, Madame, but I don’t have a great deal of time before the helicopter returns. I’m eager to get started and take a look around the ship.

ALFIE: (Kneeling down in wonder to get a closer look at the plasticine Mardi) You made this? On your own?

FONN: (nervously) Yes sir.

ALFIE: It’s… it’s very… someone help me, I’m lost for words here.

MOSS: It’s very… very?

TAMMU: Isn’t it just? To be honest we still can’t quite believe that Fonn won the fifty thousand dollar prize and two weeks stay on the ship. (Leans forward) Between you and me, he’s much more excited about being part of “The Company” than he is about the money.

FONN: (seriously) I’m very excited.

JONNY: (virtually inaudible) Is this in the script?

ALFIE: Fifty thousand dollars? I don’t…

ALLAN DOUGLAS: Alfie, if you don’t mind, we’ll just dump our stuff somewhere and catch up with you later.

MOSS: The Dormitory’s empty, you can leave your bags in there for now.

ALFIE: Huh? Oh, okay folks.

JONNY: I’ll show you where the Dormitory is.

ALLAN DOUGLAS, WILL CARPENTER, and JONNY walk off screen. WILL can be vaguely heard asking “Do you guys have a fridge?” and JONNY mumbles something about it being broken and MOSS growing “Bok Chyptus” in it.

ALFIE: Look, I’m sorry Mrs Read, but I think there’s been a terrible misunderstanding. I’m afraid there’s no fifty thousand dollars. To tell you the truth, I’ve not heard about this competition and I’ve no idea who this Officer Perry person is. Though I agree that your son’s model is certainly…very… uh… very.

TAMMU: (oblivious) Fonn, do you have that copy of the email?

FONN hands TAMMU the model Mardi and reaches into his back pocket, pulls out a printed email that he unfolds and hands to ALFIE.

MARIELLA: (impatiently) Mr Kolinsky…

ALFIE: (scanning the email) One minute…

(muttering)

From “Officer Perry”…

(completely confused)

TAMMU: (indicating the model) Would you like to put this somewhere? Perhaps you have a safe where we can keep it…

ALFIE: (re-reading) Holy shit!

(realises the boy is standing there)

Sorry – I mean… I really don’t remember any of this…

MOSS: What does it say?

ALFIE: (Holds the paper up to the camera, words are not visible)

Dictated by Alfie and transcribed by Officer Perry of the Communications Team – pretty much says exactly what they’re saying, only I still don’t remember any of it.

(looks lost)

FONN: (tugs on his mother’s sleeve, whispering) Ask about the third level…

TAMMU: (to FONN) Hold on, we’re halfway there…

ALFIE: (sings quietly) Oh, oh, livin’ on a… (blinks, and looks down at the letter, whispering) …pray-er.

TAMMU: (nods to MARIELLA) I can see you’re busy, Mr Kolinsky. If you don’t mind, Fonn and I will have a look around and catch up with you later. Perhaps we can have a game of ping-pong while we wait?

ALFIE: Huh? Oh… (points to a hatch on the main deck) … the Rec Room is just down there, first door on your right. (To MOSS) I think something is coming back to me about this competition.

TAMMU and FONN move off-screen.

MOSS: You’re remembering something? We should totally film a flashback sequence!

ALFIE: I thought that’s what we were doing.

Camera rests on MARIELLA glaring at ALFIE, arms folded.

ALFIE: I’m not the captain.

MARIELLA: Yes you are.

ALFIE: No I’m not. (pauses) Actually, if we have to have a Captain, then it should really be Moss. She’s in charge of Charlie Kaufman. (MOSS laughs) I’m really just the ship’s janitor. (He feebly holds up a scrench.)

MARIELLA: Mr Kolinsky…

ALFIE: You’ll be wanting to see around our ship then?

MARIELLA: (Picking up her briefcase) That is correct.

MOSS: Oh! We should show her the film footage from yesterday – the introduction. I know we’ve not finished editing it yet, but it doesn’t make a difference if we’ve made it all or not, we’ll give it a shot.

ALFIE: (stares, looking sick) I’m totally remembering now.

MOSS: I’ll get Bogan to make some popcorn!

The three of them begin walking in the direction of the FILM STUDIO.



EXT. IN THE SEA, BELOW THE MARDI – SHORTLY THEREAFTER/SIMULTANEOUSLY

Two fish are talking as the Mardi glides overhead. They are marionettes. The second of the two has a slightly ptotic eye. Even as the ship is passing, the camera tilts down from the hull to squarely frame the animals floating largely motionless in the opalescent water, the expanse of which duskily recedes into reaches impenetrable by the device. They don’t do much at all for a while, except sway.

FISH: I still can’t understand your capacity towards indifference.

FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE: Oh, here we go again…

FISH: A perfectly decent calamari dinner, provided free of charge, might I add, and you turn up your smug snout at it. Shocking!

FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE: (defensively) You tell me you’d eat decaying squid, huh? It was disgusting!

FISH: You inflated wastrel! Why, this – the bleakest ocean for leagues, and you leave a practical feast to the deep-sea boogyfish and hobos!

FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE: As if they don’t need a bite every now and then! They mostly eat dead algae and stuff, right?

FISH: (sheepishly) Well… I never really thought about it before.

FISH’s ACQUAINTANCE: (Capitalizing on the potential to change the course of the conversation) Of course, every fellow, be he finned or not, needs a bit of supper. Sure. (pause) Surely! And whether you’re riding the arcuation of the sweet, full current or wasting away in some desolate bilge-bath, like us; you’ve simply got to eat!
(Modest silence of thoughtfulness.)
Combustion! (short pause.) Yes, I DO say. Combustion!

FISH: Don’t. I live in fear of man-made machines.

FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE: Fire is Promethian, you dunce.

FISH: Shut up, Hary.

FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE: No, you shut up, Bary.


INT. COMMUNICATIONS BAY – SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING

Across the screen is printed “4:53am FRIDAY, JUNE 3rd, 2009”.

W is sitting in front of one of the two supercomputers, with glitter eyeliner smudged across his face. BON JOVI’s “LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER” is playing loudly over the PA system and he takes a slug of rum from a bottle, before belting out the words.

W: (singing loudly) Tommy’s got his six string uh-huh, hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm uh-huh, it’s tough… so toooougghh! (takes another swig) Gina dreams of something uh-huh, she cries in the night, Tommy… something… someday… hmm… WE’VE GOT TO HOLD ON TO WHAT WE’VE GOT! IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER IF WE MAKE IT OR NOT! WE’VE GOT EACH OTHER AND THAT’S A LOT OF LOVE… WE’LL GIVE IT A SHOT! SINGING OOOHHHH, WE’RE HALFWAY THE-ERE, WOOOAAHHH-OOOOHHHH, LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER! TAKE MY HAND, WE’LL MAKE IT I SWEA-HER, WOOOAAHHH-OOOOOHHHH –

(Falls drunkenly off his chair, out of shot)

I FELL OFF MY CHAI-HER!

ALFIE walks into the shot, unsteady on his feet, eyeing the silhouettes of two marionette fish strung up from the light fitting, that he has just spun with his fingers. He is wearing the ship’s thinking cap, polka dot ribbons tied to his arms, and a pair of leather chaps, superglued on backwards. A PELICAN hops along after him with a black biro pen in its beak. The music fades out.

ALFIE: These fish look familiar.

W: (Drunk from the floor) So… it’s a competition? I like it. There should be prize money. Or a free trip into our freezer.

ALFIE: (slurring) Yes, prize money. How many leaves have we got left on the money tree?

W: Money wha?

ALFIE: You know, the money tree under the floorboards in the Galley.

W: (Pulling himself back up into his chair) I’m so runk, it’s frightening.You’re telling me we have a tree… with money growing on it… under the floorboards…?

ALFIE: In the Galley. Yes.


W: Awesome! Let’s go get it! (pause) No, wait. Why don’t YOU get it, and I’ll blast some more Bon Jovi over the PA system.

Fade out. “20 MINUTES LATER” appears on black screen.

Fade in. An identical shot of the COMMUNICATIONS BAY. W has not moved from his seat, but is now virtually comatose with rum consumption. ALFIE is plucking the last note from a small potted tree in the centre of the room, trails of dirt leading back towards the door. He drops the note onto a large pile of notes behind him.

ALFIE: Forty eight thousand, six hundred and seventy nine dollars. (pause) Let’s just round it up to fifty thousand (hiccups) and throw in two weeks’ stay on the ship as well. I’m sure you concur that anyone who can make a decent model of the Mardi will be a welcome addition to our crew.

W: (Burps and rotates in his seat to face the supercomputer) I concur. Now all we need is somebody sober enough to type. Where’s Perry when you need him?

ALFIE: I think Perry’s dead.

W attempts to type for a few seconds, but this amounts to little more than him frustratedly thumping the keyboard in front of him. Meanwhile the revolving fish are reflected in the ALFIE’s eyes. Suddenly a paper light-bulb is lowered on white string above his head and spins there between the fish.

W: Alfie? (squinting) What do you mean… “dead”? And where did that paper light-bulb come from?

ALFIE: (hiccups) I have an idea, but first I’ve got some magnesium strips to burn.

(Pulls the magnesium from his back pocket and looks down at the PELICAN staring up at him, pen still in its mouth)

Pelican! Scrub all this from the records.

INT. THE GIRL’S WASHROOM, THE MARDI

ALFIE is leaning against the door frame. Inside, SIMON PILER is holding up a black bin bag and BRENDON HERTZ, wearing a pair of marigold gloves, is attacking the toilet with a plunger. SCARYTOES sits in the wash hand basin reading “CRIME & PUNISHMENT”, while MATTHEW THE MIGHTY is lying on the floor, fast asleep with a flier over his face advertising “THE UTICA FLOWER COMPANY FLOATING HOTEL”.

BRENDON: (plunging) Ugh.

SIMON: That’s it, Brendon! (demonstrating) More oomph!

BRENDON: (looks up at him) Do you want to swap places, Doc?

SIMON: (nods) As you were.

BRENDON: (goes back to plunging) Ugh. Jesus. Whatever’s down there, it’s well and truly stuck.

ALFIE: Do you need a hand?

SIMON: (Shaking the bin bag, it is quite full) Everything’s under control, Chaplin. We’ve removed a fair amount of goop – some sawn-up bones, a string of intestines, a badge belonging to “Officer Perry from the Communications Team”… whoever he is… and a purple tunic, minus one sleeve. My guess is that somebody in our Galley staff decided that the best way to dispose of a cow carcass was to flush it down the wazoo.

BRENDON: Ugh.

(He dips a glove in and pulls out a mangled human hand, grimaces at it and drops it into the bin bag, before glancing down at the toilet bowl.)

It’s still blocked.

SIMON: Plutonium ratatouille! I thought you had it there.

ALFIE: Was that… a hand?

SIMON: (Blinking, bursts out laughing) A hand! (snorts) Why, Chaplin, I think we’d have noticed if someone was missing a hand! (Motions to BRENDON to keep plunging.)

BRENDON: (sighs and continues to plunge) Ugh.  


EXT. A DESERT ISLAND OFF THE COAST OF VENEZUELA – MID MORNING

Close up of JONNY RCHRDSN’s face, eyes opening. He is lying on the white sand of an island beach having been washed up on the shoreline. As the camera pans out, we see an empty rum bottle also washed up a couple of feet away. JONNY sits up disorientated, a plaster hanging from the tip of his nose, and the side of his face where he has been lying is covered in sand. He looks around bewildered.

VOICE: Good morning, good morning, the sun is up and tathagatas dance around your angelbrain, Jonny Walrus! I was beginning to think you might never wake up…

JONNY: Who said that?

VOICE: ‘Tis I, your friendly neighbourhood cosmic ghost hobo, dancing and doodling through space and time in search of legendary kicks. (pause) Bah, who am I kidding? You know something, Jonny Walrus, here’s a pearl of wisdom from a dumb old spirit – never become your persona. Drink?

JONNY: Are you…are you a voice in my head?

VOICE: (laughing) I’m no hallucinatory cricket conscience, kid…  if that’s what you’re insinuating. But seriously – here, Jonny Walrus, have a drink.

A ghostly hand reaches into the side of the screen holding a bottle of rum. Camera pans back slowly and we see that this is THE GHOST OF JACK KEROUAC sitting in the sand a couple of metres away from JONNY, wearing a grubby white t-shirt, khaki trousers, and brown moccasins, smiling. He looks like he is in his early thirties, and has a sheen of transparent light around him – like he has been superimposed from a film onto the picture.

KEROUAC: Let’s kickstart your day in style, huh?

JONNY: (Reaches out and takes the bottle, rolls it around like mouthwash before gulping it down) Thanks mister.
(belches and passes the bottle back)

KEROUAC: Not a problem, Jonny Walrus.

Cut to a view from behind them sitting on the beach looking out across the empty expanse of sparkling ocean and clear blue sky, and we see that JONNY is wearing a walrus outfit, the head pulled down at the back like a hood.

JONNY: (Pulls the plaster off the edge of his nose, it sticks to the end of his thumb and he tries to flick it off without success) What happened? Last thing I remember, I was asleep in the Sick Bay hammock.

KEROUAC: (surprised) You don’t remember what happened? Seriously?

JONNY: I can remember something about a fox and a diving competition?

KEROUAC: (chuckles) That was no competition, kid. That was a dive for survival. (pause) I say “dive”, but I really mean fall, quite spectacularly actually (KEROUAC makes a flailing motion with his arms, a goofy look on his face, then smiles kindly before pointing at an ornate green wooden box lying on the sand beside JONNY.) I guess whatever is in that little safe of yours, they must want it really bad.

JONNY: (Opens the box carefully and pulls out a wooden balsa heart) Alfie told me to guard it with my life.

KEROUAC: That wasn’t Alfie. (JONNY makes to protest) Trust me, Jonny Walrus. That wasn’t Alfie. Sure, he mighta looked a lot like Alfie, but it wasn’t him.

JONNY: (Looking around) Where am I?


KEROUAC: Well now, that’s not a simple question to answer, Jonny Walrus. If I gave you a map, you could pinpoint your present location to a tropical island in the middle of the Specific Ocean. An island that goes by the name of “The 7th Isle”.
(He stands up and begins to wade backwards into the ocean)
But in actual fact, you’re not really here at all.
(He turns his back on JONNY and continues to wade in up to his waist.)
It’s time to go home, Jonny Walrus, so what are you waiting for? Bury that little safe of yours and let’s get swimming. The exit is this way.

JONNY: (Digs a hole quickly with his walrus paws, buries the green box and gets slowly to his feet, shouting as KEROUAC goes in up to his chest)
How far have we got to swim?

KEROUAC: (Shouts back) About sixty years!

KEROUAC begins to swim. JONNY pulls up his walrus hood and shuffles into the gentle surf. The camera films them for a short while until they are just two heads disappearing into the waves.

INT. THE GALLEY, THE MARDI

It is the first inklings of dawn. SYD LANE enters the GALLEY in her pajamas and slippers, holding a skeleton key.

SYD: (calling) Hello? Anyone? I can’t work out how to open my cabin door?

She  glances down at plates of half-eaten tortillas, and tankards half-filled with a cloudy liquid. She  sighs and takes out a small saucepan from a cabinet and a box of SHIP SHAPES cereal from a wall cabinet. She pours some SHIP SHAPES into the pan and adds water from the sink. Then, she places the pan on the stove and turns the plastic dial for the left-front burner. We hear the creaking of the heating elements against the pan. SYD stares out the window at the Specific Ocean.

Suddenly we hear a ghostly whisper, wind rattling through the ship as she spins around. On the other side of the GALLEY, the COSTUME CUPBOARD door has blown open. We see several synthetic and incredibly lifelike masks of Flower Company member faces hanging from nails on the inside of the door – these include: ALFIE,  MOSS, ALEXANDER TOKELEAF, JANE GILMORE, A CHINAMAN, and SEVERAL SKULL MASKS of differing colours. Beyond it, the COSTUME CUPBOARD is dark.

SYD: Hello? Is there anybody there?

She shuffles slowly across the GALLEY floor and the pan begins to bubble behind her. She reaches the COSTUME CUPBOARD and hesitates outside, muttering about “someone else’s dream”..

SYD: Hello?

She moves forward into the COSTUME CUPBOARD and as she begins to scream, the door slams shut behind her. The camera lingers on the empty GALLEY for several seconds, the SHIP SHAPES continuing to bubble in the pan.

INT. THE LOWER DECK, CORRIDOR OUTSIDE BUNKROOM 8

The door to BUNKROOM 8 opens and MOSS appears in her Flower Company green-shirt and blue pants. She is yawning like she has barely slept.

MOSS: (muttering) Fucking Bon Jovi!

(She glances up at a mirror with a pink plastic frame on the corridor wall)

At four fifty-three in the morning!

She stumbles up the corridor, lighting a cigarette as she goes. Outside BUNKROOM 3 she stops and bangs on the door with the palm of her hand.

MOSS: (shouting) Alfie! W!

There is no answer, so she bangs again, harder this time. Still no answer, so she tries the handle, but the door is locked. She curses under her breath and continues up the corridor, entering the MACHINE SHOP.

INT. THE MACHINE SHOP, THE MARDI

The room is claustrophobically dark, filled with shadowy boxes and machinery. As MOSS opens the door and walks through without stopping, the light briefly illuminates a creepy figure standing motionless at the far end of the room. It is a man with a fox’s head, dressed all in black. Its two eyes are like black glittering diamonds embedded in its skull. To one side and above the creature, an unidentifiable young woman spins lifelessly on the end of a rope.

INT. THE GALLEY, THE MARDI

MOSS enters, still grumbling about Bon Jovi. She glances at the pan of SHIP SHAPES that are boiling over, exploding like popcorn, and she turns off the burner and glances around. She picks up a skeleton key off the counter and extinguishes her cigarette in a glass bowl of cigarette ends and lettuce lying on the counter.

She opens the door to the FREEZER. It is a large, dark, and predominantly empty storage space, except for some shelves containing tubs of ice-cream, various flavours. She reaches up and pulls a cord that hangs from the ceiling, expecting it to be a light switch, but nothing happens.

Suddenly, BON JOVI’s “YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME” booms out over the ship’s PA system, causing her to jump in fright.

MOSS: Oh you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me!

She exits the GALLEY at speed, leaving the FREEZER door slightly ajar. The camera lingers on the empty scene as it did before, only now a peculiar fizzing sound can be heard from inside the FREEZER along with bright neon lights flashing and tendrils of steam leaking out.  

Two black rats twitch, sniffing and scratching their way out across the GALLEY floor. The two rats pause for a moment, sniffing the air, before scurrying in unison towards the FREEZER, where kaleidoscopic creamy light pulses behind the partially open door. The first rat scurries inside and the other quickly follows. Moments later, there is a small burst of white light from behind the door.

SQUEAKY MALE VOICE FROM INSIDE THE FREEZER: What the fuck is THAT?

Screen fades to black.

INT. THE DORMITORY, THE MARDI

There are two bunkbeds either side of the room. ALLAN DOUGLAS stands in the middle of the floor looking at a scrap piece of paper with a three-pronged club symbol and three lines of  seemingly random numbers. He shakes his head, not making any sense of it and drops the paper, turns around as it floats down and under the bunk on the right. Meanwhile, WILL CARPENTER crouches in the far left corner of the room, rummaging around in his rucksack.

ALLAN: I think I’m going to head upstairs and see if I can find the Galley, grab something to eat. That Jonny kid said there are big burgers and… nicotine salad. At least, I think he said nicotine salad. Maybe I misheard him. (pauses in the doorway) Are you coming, Will?

WILL: (With his back turned) I’ll just be a minute.

ALLAN: Okay, I’ll see you up there.

He exits and WILL CARPENTER stops rummaging and stands up. He turns around slowly as if checking to make sure that ALLAN has gone. Then he removes his hat and sunglasses and we see that he is actually ALFIE, only with a full beard.

INT. VARIOUS ROOMS ALONG THE LOWER DECK OF THE MARDI

The camera rotates and follows ALLAN DOUGLAS as he walks through the ENGINE ROOM, pausing to look at the TIME-MACHINE with ice-cream fingerprints all over it, then on into the dark MACHINE SHOP. This time, as he exits into the corridor on the other side, we catch a glimpse of the area where the shadowy FOX-MAN and the HANGING GIRL were, but both of them have gone.

As ALLAN leaves the MACHINE SHOP, a figure jumps down from the steps leading to the UPPER DECK and blocks his way. The figure is wearing a torn black tracksuit with a picture of the Earth on one side of the chest and the letters “WT” on the other. He has the head of a fox, though not the black diamond eyes that we saw previously, and around the edge of his mouth is dried blood. ALLAN jumps back in fright.

FOX-MAN: (Grinning, when he speaks he has ALFIE’s voice) Allan Douglas! I completely forgot about you!

ALLAN: What… what are you?

FOX-MAN: Listen, Are you any good at break-dancing?

ALLAN: (nervously) Alfie… is that you? (pause) What happened to your face?

FOX-MAN: (Reaches up to the side of his mouth where the blood is) This? Oh, it’s nothing. Our space bus crashed. Well, technically we got shot out of the sky, but… I’ll explain everything later.

He grabs ALLAN around the shoulder and starts dragging him down the corridor to BUNKROOM 8.

ALLAN: Is that a mask? It’s… incredibly lifelike.

FOX-MAN: (laughing) Yeah! Isn’t it? Howling Wolf Media Productions made it for me out of plum lava. Listen (looks both ways to check the coast is clear before pushing into Bunkroom 8), I’m about to ask you to do something really weird…

INT. BUNKROOM 8, THE MARDI

Bunk-beds on the opposite wall, philosophy books under the bottom bunk. An accordion and guitar sit abandoned in the middle of the floor. On the wall is a poster with a crudely sketched picture of JONNY, “MISSING” written above him, and “PERSON” below. Beside the porthole is a large poster with the letter “P” on it. The FOX-MAN ushers ALLAN into the far corner of the room, where a fridge sits unplugged, its door open revealing several peculiar cartoonish potted plants.

FOX-MAN: You’ve got to help me save the Unimerse.

ALLAN: The what?

FOX-MAN: (Carefully removing the plants and racks from inside the fridge and setting them to one side) I need you to climb into this fridge.

ALLAN: Hey! (pointing to the shadows behind the fridge) Something’s moving back there!

We vaguely make out several strange knee-high creatures gurgling and shuffling in the shadows.

FOX-MAN: (Guiding ALLAN into the fridge – it is a tight squeeze) Just ignore them.

ALLAN: What are they?

FOX-MAN: Fuck knows.

He shuts the fridge door, punches some buttons and turns some dials (there doesn’t seem to be any real logic or care about the sequence). There is a flash of light around the edges of the fridge and the FOX-MAN opens the door. ALLAN DOUGLAS is gone.

FOX-MAN: One down, four to go.

He replaces the potted plants and the racks and exits BUNKROOM 8.

INT. THE LOWER CORRIDOR OF THE MARDI

The FOX-MAN turns left and disappears inside the AFT HOLD, closing the door behind him. The camera pans round and we see FONN READ coming down the stairs at the end of the corridor. He turns right and heads through the MACHINE SHOP, continuing on in the direction of the DORMITORY.

INT. THE DORMITORY, THE MARDI

WILL CARPENTER is putting the finishing touches to a small robot that he has assembled from parts in his rucksack. He glances back over his shoulder at FONN READ as the boy enters the room and drops down on the bottom right hand bunk.

WILL: (anxiously) Where’s your mother?

FONN: (smiling) She’s not my mother, Mercury Mumbkes. She’s my great-grandmother. Madame Datura. And she’s gone.

MUMBLES (WILL): (panicking) Gone? What do you mean “gone”? Are you joking me? This wasn’t part of the plan!

FONN: (shrugs) Something came up.

(He glances at the large round clock on the DORMITORY wall)

Madame Datura entered the Mardi’s freezer several minutes ago, in pursuit of somebody called The White Knight of Ilhelo. Have you heard of him, Mercury? The prophet, Lumereti Hemhockle, believed that the mysterious White Knight was the key to saving our Unimerse. (pauses) Perhaps we should have told you sooner, but in sixty years time, everything we know will be sucked out of existence through a hole in the centre of the Seventh Isle…

MUMBLES: We had a deal! Fifty thousand dollars, she said. All I had to do was assemble this robot, take you to the Third Level on the ship, and that was that. Do you have any idea what they’d do to me if they caught me here, Fonn? You’ve got no idea! They gave my brothers lobotomies!

FONN: Actually, my name’s not Fonn either. It’s Fernando. Fernando Murphy. You may have heard of my great-grandfather – Rasmussen Murphy, the time-travellin’ blind balloonist? (He makes a body popping gesture with his upper body.) No? What about Sadie and Martha Murphy, my grandmothers? Judge Wader? He’s my other great-grandfather. Chase Murphy of the Seven Isles, my grandfather? Or my parents – Butterscup Murphy and Chief Head X-Ray? Surely you must have heard of them. You are one of the eleven Kolinsky clones after all…

MUMBLES: Shut up! Just shut up! I can’t hear myself think!

FERNANDO MURPHY (FONN): (sighs) The plan is still the same, Mercury. You take me to the Third Level, then we’ll go and get your money, and then you’re free to go.

MUMBLES: (suspiciously, pointing) Hey… where’s the toastie maker?

FERNANDO: Datura took it.

MUMBLES: (shouting) WHAT?

FERNANDO: (laughing) Stop worrying, Mercury. This robot you assembled is a fully functioning time-machine. His name is Chappy Alonso and –

MUMBLES: Listen kid, I don’t care if this robot is called Bob Fucking Dylan. Just as long as it can get me the hell off this confounded ship again and take me back six years, seven months, and nine days through time, I’ll be happy.

FERNANDO: Okay, Mercury.

The boy opens a panel in the belly of the robot and begins to climb inside.

MUMBLES: Hey! What are you doing?

FERNANDO: (Closing the panel behind him) Don’t worry, Mercury. I’ll be right back.

The belly panel closes, the robot’s eyes blink once, twice, and on the third blink the robot vanishes into thin air with a “Twang!” sound.

MUMBLES: (to himself) Fucking hell. What are you doing here, Mumbles? You should have just come clean to Three-Legged Steve and let him shoot you in the head, getting it over and done with.

The DORMITORY door opens behind him and FERNANDO MURPHY stands in the doorway, dripping wet , missing a shoe, with seaweed hanging from his head.

FERNANDO: Don’t ask.

MUMBLES: Where’s the robot?

FERNANDO: I had to abandon him under a volcano, otherwise the sprite would have rumbled me and Alfie wouldn’t have shot the Coyoc, the Coyoc would have eaten the sprite, the Greasy Pole, and Wesus too, then Wesus wouldn’t have been able to help at Battle Golf and Midas would have won resulting in the death of the entire Flower Company. It’s complicated, I know. You’re just going to have to take my word for it, Mercury. The robot had to go.

MUMBLES: (Puts his head in his hands) NOOOOOO!

FERNANDO: Yes Mercury.

MUMBLES: We’re doomed!

FERNANDO: Yes Mercury, we are. That’s why we’re here. (Takes a deep breath) Listen, I’m sure there are other ways off the Mardi. I think I read something in my grandfather’s journal about a refrigerator…

MUMBLES: Midas’ fridge. But that girl from the main deck is growing Bok Chyptus in it. I already checked.

FERNANDO: Bok Chyptus! No!

MUMBLES: That’s what that Jonny guy with no vowels in his second name said.

FERNANDO: Well that’s blown that then. (Thinking) I suppose we’re going to have to wait for my Great-Grandmother to return with the toastie-maker. In the meantime, we should proceed as planned. Do you remember where the Third Level is?

MUMBLES: (Resigned) Kid, I know this ship like the back of my own hand. I grew up on it.

He exits the DORMITORY, turning left into the ENGINE ROOM and FERNANDO follows him, his sneakers sploshing as he walks.

BLACK SCREEN – WHITE LETTERING FADES IN, READS:

“14 LOST DAYS ON THE MARDI: PART 1”

EXT. MAIN DECK, THE MARDI – EARLY EVENING

A beautiful sky frames the MAIN DECK. Splashes of sunlight and colours reflect and illuminate the activity on deck. Various members of the Company are busy in their own worlds – camera lingers on THE ATOM BAND – they are attending to a badly damaged green safe, hoisting it up with an elaborate pulley system, from a great gaping scorched and splintered hole at the rear of the ship, scratching their heads. Camera lingers on the rear mast which has completely collapsed. There has clearly been an explosion below deck.

Throughout the following scene, TIN PAN can be heard behind the portable camcorder that is filming.

TIN PAN: OH MY GOD! What happened here?

SIMON PILER: (Lifting a welding mask from his face, squinting in the sun) Difficult to say with any degree of certainty at this early stage, but all the signs are pointing to an explosion in the Storage Hold. We think Alfie may have attempted to blow up this safe with dynamite. And failed. We’re certain of that.

TIN PAN: Is he still alive?

SIMON: (Thinking) I wouldn’t like to speculate, but I’m certain it will all become clearer, ah… um… later on.
(whispering)
Between you and me, I think he has disappeared into the Freezer.

At the mention of the word “Freezer”, THE ATOM BAND stop what they are doing and look anxiously at SIMON.

SIMON: Steady lads.
(to camera, sighs)
Follow me.

INT. THE GALLEY, OUTSIDE THE FREEZER DOOR, THE MARDI

The ATOM BAND stand pensively at the door, occasionally stealing glances at the camera. After several seconds, SIMON PILER bursts out wearing a deep sea diver’s suit that is covered from head to foot in fluorescent ice-cream.

SIMON: (Exhaling as THE ATOM BAND remove his helmet) Hot dog!

TIN PAN: Simon, are you okay?

SIMON: (Taking deep breaths like he has been running for several miles) Yes… yes… fine… I’ll….
(takes a lungful of air and holds up a dripping gloved hand)
…just give me a moment.

TIN PAN: Any sign of Alfie?

SIMON: (Shakes his head) It’s as I feared… the inner door, he’s… yes. He’s gone.

TIN PAN: Wait! There’s another door inside the freezer? Can’t you follow him?

SIMON: I would… but there’s no handle. And even if I could work out how he got through the door… it would be ridiculously dangerous.
(to THE ATOM BAND)
One plus note from my expedition is that I found this at the heart of the nebula.

He holds up a greyish round rock between his thumb and forefinger. THE ATOM BAND immediately bag it and label it.

TIN PAN: What was that?

SIMON: Either it’s a frozen piece of Echoes 22’s brain, or… it is the remains of a very small moon.
(grinning). I think I’ll paint it blue when all of the commotion dies down.

A sudden loud “BANG!” makes everyone jump and turn towards the GALLEY door.

TIN PAN: Holy shit!

SIMON PILER and THE ATOM BAND spring into action.

SIMON: Come on lads!

He is the first to respond, but forgets he is still inside the diving suit and goes crashing headfirst onto the floor, a great tearing sound emanating from the seat of his pants. The weight of the suit, in particular the boots, is too much for him and THE ATOM BAND double back from the door, lifting him to his feet as he curses under his breath.

SIMON: Steady, Def Mute! Mind that ice-cream! That sounded like a gunshot! Ah, curse this confounded costume!
(looking round)
You’ll have to carry me… (pause) Wait! First you’ll need to towel me down. No sense in anyone getting perplexed by the nebula.

THE ATOM BAND look around the GALLEY for towels, but can’t find anything.

SIMON: Never mind towelling me down, there’s not enough time. (looking around) Quick! Brendon, grab those marigolds and help me get these boots off!

INT. VARIOUS ROOMS ON THE UPPER DECK, THE MARDI

DEF MUTE throws BRENDON the marigolds and he helps untie the big metal boots. SIMON leaps out of them and, trailing ice-cream, dashes out through the GALLEY door and on through the WARDROOM, the camera following. A second “BANG!” resounds, closer this time, followed by the sound of something ricocheting around in the corridors beyond the RECREATION ROOM. SIMON’s diving suit gets snagged on a wall spigot as he runs, tearing slightly beneath the armpit.

TIN PAN: (anxiously) Is that… is someone shooting a gun?

SIMON: A gun? (Stops, the entire ATOM BAND skidding to a halt behind him) Why, I hadn’t thought of that! I just assumed that someone was letting off fireworks and I didn’t want to miss the display… But yes! It’s equally possible that those could have been gunshots! Quick! We have even less time to waste! (pauses, points up at the ceiling) Is that a glitterball? I’ve never noticed that before.

He shakes his head and the entire group rush out onto the stairwell before clattering down the metal steps to the LOWER DECK.

INT. LOWER DECK CORRIDOR, THE MARDI

As SIMON PILER, THE ATOM BAND, and TIN PAN reach the bottom step, we see UBERPAUL in a psychedelic dressing gown and shades, with a smoking shotgun, staring up the steps to the hatch above them.

SIMON: Uberpaul, what the fuck is  going on here?

UBERPAUL: (Not taking his eyes from the hatch above him; when he speaks, his speech is slurred) Well, that’s the six million billion dollar question, isn’t it?

SIMON: Is it?

UBERPAUL: An EMO…I saw one. I definitely saw one.  UP THERE!
(He suddenly raises the shotgun again, making to fire but stops)
No…it’s just a trick of the light.
(to SIMON)
But I definitely saw one. He had a fox mask on and really weird eyes. Like they were black diamonds or something.

TIN PAN: I’m sorry, I missed that bit. What did he say? It sounded like he said… an EMO?

UBERPAUL: That’s right. An EMO.

TIN PAN: What was it doing?

UBERPAUL: (Stares into the camera, a flicker of a grin on his face) It was…uh… you know…just sort of acting suspicious and moping around.

SCARYTOES: Simon, look!

He points down the corridor towards a motionless figure lying on the ground outside the AFT HOLD. The group all run towards the figure and stand over him. It is MR KORADJI, a man in a designer suit, with a creepy black hairy mask on, thick red blood pooling around him on the floor.

TIN PAN: Is he dead?

SIMON nudges him with a big metal boot.

SIMON: Well, he isn’t alive.

TIN PAN: (quietly) Who is he?

Everyone looks at each other, puzzled.

UBERPAUL: Whoever he is – I mean whoever he was – he’s got an expensive taste in suits.
(pauses) It wasn’t me, by the way. I was shooting in the other direction. At that EMO. With the fox mask and the weird black eyes.

TIN PAN: (accusatory) You killed him…

SIMON: (coughs) Ahem, let’s not go jumping to conclusions.

UBERPAUL: I’m going back to bed. This is too fucked up. Anyone want this?
(he holds out the shotgun)

TIN PAN: (panicking) What? No! You’re not getting my fingerprints on it! What are we going to do?
(pause)
With the body?

SIMON nods to THE ATOM BAND. SCARYTOES takes the shotgun from UBERPAUL and passes it to DEF MUTE who pulls a towel out of his back pocket, dusts the gun down and hands it to SIMON. In the background, UBERPAUL ambles towards BUNKROOM 6. A solitary red cartoon dragonfly, the size of a tennis ball follows him backwards into the room.

SIMON: (to DEF MUTE) Hang on, you had a towel in your back pocket the whole time we were looking for one back there in the Galley?

DEF MUTE: (shrugs)

SIMON: (sighs) Alright. (thinking) Emerson and Sparks, head up to the Storage Hold and see if there are any buckets, stringy mops and scrubbing brushes that weren’t destroyed in the explosion. Scarytoes, see if you can rustle up some black bags from the Galley. Brendon, how about you ditch the marigolds and try fashioning a coffin out of all that smashed up wood on the main deck. And Matthew…

MATTHEW THE MIGHTY: Yes?

SIMON: Strike a pose.

Various members of THE ATOM BAND nod and sprint away down the corridor. MATTHEW awkwardly attempts to do “The Crab”. Suddenly, without warning, TIN PAN stuffs the camera into DEF MUTE’s hands and runs away down the corridor, leaping up the stairs after THE ATOM BAND.

SIMON: (shouting) Hey! Where are you going?

TIN PAN doesn’t answer.

SIMON: (to DEF MUTE) Where’s he going?

DEF MUTE: (shrugs)

They both look down at the body and we see their reflections in the pool of blood, the sound of MATTHEW collapsing behind them.

INT. THE RECREATION ROOM, THE MARDI

FERNANDO MURPHY stands guard, watching as MERCURY MUMBLES ducks down under the ping-pong table and opens a trapdoor.

FERNANDO: The Third Level is down there?

MUMBLES: Uh-huh. Old man Midas discovered it a couple of years after we set sail. Whoever owned the Mardi before him went to a lot of trouble making sure it stayed hidden.

FERNANDO: It was probably the Ebaxxonites. My great-grandmother said they built the ship during their 679 Year war with the Robots. They called her a “Unimerse Machine”. She was supposed to translate imagination into raw matter. Apparently they lost the war and their precious machine was stolen before they got a chance to see if she worked…

MUMBLES snorts.

FERNANDO: What’s so funny?

MUMBLES: Aliens, eh? That fucking figures. It’s always aliens, isn’t it?

FERNANDO: (offended) Wasn’t your old Captain Midas an alien changeling?

MUMBLES: (shakes his head) Kid, you’ve been reading too many science-fiction novels. Midas was nothing but an old drunkard –

FERNANDO: An old drunkard in charge of eleven cloned children, including you. I read that in the same science-fiction novel, by the way.

MUMBLES: (Gestures to the trapdoor) Do you want to see the Third Level or not?

FERNANDO nods and crawls on his hands and knees under the ping-pong table.

INT. THE BASEMENT BENEATH THE RECREATION ROOM, THE MARDI

The only light we see is the dim square of the trapdoor above us, FERNANDO and MUMBLES silhouetted  in the light. A flight of wooden steps run down the left hand wall of the basement, disappearing into the darkness below.

FERNANDO: (Tiptoeing down the first couple of steps and groping around on the wall. When he talks, it is a whisper) Is there a light? I can’t see a thing.

MUMBLES: I’ve no idea. Midas never let us come down here and unless you wanted a beating, you listened to the old man’s rules.

FERNANDO: (stops) What if there’s something down here?

MUMBLES: (huffs and enters) Here, let me through. (Groping around on the wall, he vanishes into the darkness, FERNANDO remaining silhouetted on the third top step.) There must be a light switch somewhere…

FERNANDO: I don’t like this, Mercury. Something smells bad. We should head back up and wait for my great-grandmother to come back; she’ll know what to do.

Suddenly the trapdoor slams shut above him and the BASEMENT plunges into near blackness.

MUMBLES: Jesus kid! Why did you do that?

FERNANDO: It wasn’t me! (He starts pounding on the trapdoor above him) Hey! Hey there! Let us out! Mercury, it’s stuck!

MUMBLES: (Muttering) It’s okay, I’ve found the switch.

A strobe light switches on, illuminating the BASEMENT in slow bursts of white light. It is a large room, much larger than anything else we have seen on the ship. It has several tables and chairs dotted around it, some upturned, with broken floorboards here and there.

MUMBLES: (Looking up) Wow, that light’s annoying.

FERNANDO: Who’s that? Down there?

MUMBLES: Where?

FERNANDO: (Panicking, he pushes on the trapdoor again but it’s stuck fast) There’s a body down there, below the stairs!

MUMBLES moves cautiously away from the bottom of the stairs, craning his neck to see what FERNANDO is talking about, we watch him move in staccato bursts. As the camera pulls back, we see half a woman, her body missing from the waist down and minus one arm, lying face down, her arm outstretched and covered in blood up to the elbow. On the wall in front of her, she has written in her own blood “FINCH DID IT”.

MUMBLES: Who the fuck is Finch?

As he speaks, looking up at the wall, a terrifying two-headed beast emerges from beneath the broken floorboards behind him. It is a two-headed giant white snake called the AMPHISBAENA.

FERNANDO: (screaming) Mercury! Behind you!

As MUMBLES spins, we see the AMPHISBAENA’s two heads attacking from either side and grabbing him in its jaws, one around his face and shoulder, the other around his hip. He is dragged quickly across the floor, knocking over a table, more floorboards tearing up as the AMPHISBAENA’s tail thrashes. The camera pans back to a horrified FERNANDO as the creature repeatedly strikes at MUMBLES’s body, tearing him apart. The boy covers his eyes and sinks to the floor.

Suddenly, bright lights switch on at the far end of the BASEMENT, either side of a small stage and the strobe light stops. A FOX-MAN all in black is silhouetted in the centre of the stage, sitting back in a brown armchair, head down. He looks up and his eyes are like black diamonds, a smile on his face as the AMPHISBAENA continues to thrash in the centre of the room. The FOX-MAN is AWREL CROW.

AWREL CROW: (Getting to his feet) Why don’t you come down from up there? (He walks forward, his feet crunching on unidentified parts of MUMBLES’s body. AWREL CROW reaches out a gloved hand and strokes one head of the AMPHISBAENA, the other coiling around his midriff, hissing.) Don’t be afraid of the Amphisbaena, it won’t hurt you. Unless you look it in the eye, that is.

FERNANDO: (Quietly) Please, let me go!

AWREL CROW: All in good time, Fernando. Just… come down and we can talk. I’m sure you have lots to ask me, and I certainly have lots to ask you. (He emits a strange hissing sound through his teeth and the AMPHISBAENA immediately retreats, slithering down beneath the floorboards.) See… (he opens his arms)… there’s nothing to be scared of. Just come down here.

FERNANDO: No!

AWREL CROW: (Inhales angrily) Very well, Fernando. I must say that you and that witch of a great-grandmother of yours have been tenacious with your efforts to thwart me. I assume you know who I am?

FERNANDO: (Quietly) You’re the White Knight of Ilhelo.

AWREL CROW: The White Knight of… (confused)… ? No. My name is Awrel Crow, but you can call me Lord High Prince of Ultimate Darkness.

FERNANDO: Chase?

AWREL CROW: Chase?

FERNANDO: You’re Chase Murphy. The Lord High Prince of Ultimate Darkness.

AWREL CROW: Chase Murphy! What in the Unimerse are you babbling about? I just told you my name. Awrel Crow. The infamous Shadow and Lord High Prince of Ultima- look, never mind. It doesn’t matter.

FERNANDO: (Pointing to the decapitated woman) Who’s she?

AWREL CROW: What? Who’s who? (Looks over) Oh, her? Well, I don’t know. She’s just some woman who found my hideout down here, came snooping around with her clipboard. Obviously I had to saw her in half to shut her up.

FERNANDO: Where are her legs?

AWREL CROW: Where are her…? (Looking around) Shit, that’s a good question. Where are her legs? They were here a minute ago. Wait! Shut up! I ask the questions, not you, you snivelling snot-nosed Earthling time-hopping little freak of nature! (He stomps back to the stage and proceeds to open MARIELLA’s silver briefcase, revealing six plastic water cannons, lifting one out) You know, I was actually going to let you live. Well, at least until I’d gotten you to the Coyoc. I was going to get him to suck out all your brain juice so as I could find out what you and Datura are up to. But you know what? You blew your chance, you little bilge rat. You wouldn’t come down and talk it out. Instead you insist on asking me stupid questions about legs and White frickin’ Knights, and you can’t even get my name right, after I told you it. Do I look like the sort of guy who has time for this shit? Huh?

FERNANDO shrugs.

AWREL CROW: What was that? Was that a “no”? (He shrugs himself, impersonating the boy) Am I supposed to take that as a “no”?

FERNANDO: (Quietly) I’m not sure what you’re asking me.

AWREL CROW: Ha! HAHA! (Turning to the camera) Did you hear that? He doesn’t even know what I was asking him! (Turns back to FERNANDO) Allow me to rephrase it for you: do you know what I’m holding in my hands?

FERNANDO: It’s a water pistol thingy.

AWREL CROW: (Laughing hysterically) A WATER PISTOL THINGY! A WATER PISTOL… THINGY? (pauses) THIS… (he fires at the decapitated woman and she vanishes in a puff of dust)… is a VAPORAYGUN. That’s V – A – P – O – R – no, wait, is it a U? – I’m not sure, hang on, V-A-P-O-U, no, shit, listen: it doesn’t matter what it’s called or how it’s spelled, Fernando. It’s what it means that matters. Do you know what it means, Fernando?

FERNANDO shakes his head, cowering backwards as AWREL CROW points it up at him.

AWREL CROW: It means that we’ve reached the end of your story. (Pauses, looks around) Unless there’s some sort of last minute accidental rescue attempt, because with these COMPLETE FRICKIN’ IDIOTS that the First Court roped into sailing the Unimerse Machine, ANYTHING is possible, ya know? (Laughing, listening) No, nothing? Nobody to save you? (Sticks out his bottom lip) Well ain’t that a shame!

He lifts the raygun and FERNANDO closes his eyes.

EXT. – CRAGGY CLIFFTOPS DURING PREHISTORIC TIMES

One ancient man is standing with his friend. Both of them are wearing shaggy wool coats. The first man takes his off, and as he does, another copy of himself steps out from inside of it, leaving the original to pull the coat back closed again.

ANCIENT MAN: Well, well!

HIS COPY: Yes. Oh, yes, of course.

His friend is suddenly and instantaneously incinerated in a plume of flame and orange smoke. When the smoke finally blows away, there are two copies of him standing in the same place. Each happily claps his hands twice. In this way, both sets of individuals continue to multiply until someone changes the channel. There is a brief burst of static, then the computer is switched off. There is a receding white dot remaining in the center of the screen, and we hear the low fizz of the vacuum tubes powering down.

INT. COMMUNICATIONS BAY – THE MARDI

The camera pans out and ALFIE is sitting in front of one of the SUPERCOMPUTERS in a faded brown armchair. He stands up, zips up his hooded sweatshirt, flips up his hood, pulls out a green skull mask, puts it on, and reaches down beside the chair to grasp a pair of knee-high rubber galoshes. Both feet assume their correct positions inside of a boot, and he walks out of the room, closing the door behind him. The hallway is empty. ALFIE walks until he reaches another door. He exits from this door to the MAIN DECK. It is blindingly bright. The camera takes a moment to adjust to the intensity. In the meantime, ALFIE has taken out his bubble trumpet. He stands for a moment, then looks down at his watch. He rocks back and forth on the soles of the galoshes, faintly whistling. It is a meandering tune, with little repetition. He holds a long, continuous note – too long to be physically realistic, it seems; and now his motion has frozen, but the sound continues, the frail, windy tone seamlessly becomes the drone of an approaching jet engine.

EXT. TOKYO HARBOR, MIDDAY

The shot cuts to JIM flying the company’s helicopter. We see the craft perpendicular to the camera. A subtitle appears at the bottom of the screen. It says:

Tokyo. June 28th, 2009

The camera pans 90° and we are engulfed in a view of skyscrapers from afar. The shadow of the helicopter races over the murky ocean.

EXT. VARIOUS NATURAL LOCATIONS

Three bog blossoms speedily burst into bloom.
500 hatchling snakes are crawling in every direction.
BLACKOUT.
A whine of mosquitoes.

EXT. A RUN-DOWN DISTRICT OF TOKYO, OUTSIDE OF A STRIP CLUB, NIGHT

As our eyes adjust, we first notice the magenta glow of a neon light, casting a mathematical array of photons throughout the slowly resolving alleyway. The whine of mosquitoes has metamorphosed into the steady and high-pitched electrical hum from the light. As the camera tilts up, we see a sign in Japanese:



東京フラワー·カンパニー


The camera tilts back down and two men in black coats are smoking beneath the sign. We hear the sound of tacky pop music fade as the club’s door slowly eases shut. Our two subjects are Japanese; GOON 2 is shorter than the other, with a slighter build, and a heavily bandaged hand. That being said, he is still an enormous individual. Someone walks past on the street, giving us a sense of scale – the top of his head barely reaches the smaller man’s collarbone. They begin to speak, and subtitles slowly stretch and crawl across the screen, dilating as if seen through amber. The pitches of their voices are also dilating in an ominous and unnatural manner.

GOON  1: I told you he was up to something.

GOON 2: Something, yes, but I don’t think he’s telling us the whole story either. (He pauses for a moment, grimacing) You know what? When we finally learn the truth, I’ll bet you’ll just hightail it out of here. You’ll snatch your money out from under your mattress and run away like a dog with your tail between your legs.

GOON 1: Oh no, that’s where you’ve got it all wrong. I don’t plan to let him down.

GOON 2: Of course you don’t .You know he’ll kill you if you run, and if he doesn’t get you, then his old lady will. Ha! You’re no dog, you’re a rooster! Ha! Crowing and calling before the sun even rises, and then hiding your sorry ass from the soup-pot all day long! What a wretch. (He pauses, suddenly serious and looks around shiftily, checking that they are alone) Listen, do you even think they’re real?

GOON 1: What?

GOON 2: What? What do you think? (Whispering) The mermaids.

GOON 1: (loudly) Oh, them? Sure they’re real! You saw the film that crazy American guy  with the funny beard made, didn’t you? Even Mrs Koradji saw it and now she’s offering those kids on the boss’s ship one million dollars to catch one…

GOON 2 gestures wildly for his companion to keep his voice down and the two of them stand there, staring up and down the street.

GOON 2: (Quietly) What do you reckon she needs one for?

GOON 1: What?

GOON 2: (Exasperated whispering) The fucking mermaid!

GOON 1: Oh. (Thinking) Maybe she wants to drink its blood?

GOON 2: (Screws his face up in disgust) What?

GOON 1: Doesn’t that give you magical powers or something?

GOON 2: (Whispering again) What? No! That’s unicorns you’re thinking of…

GOON 1: Oh.

GOON 2: No, I reckon there’s more to it. I just haven’t figured it out yet.

GOON 2 drops his cigarette on the ground and stubs it out beneath his boot. GOON 1 does likewise and the two stand aside as two individuals enter the nightclub. The first is a muscular man with a thick black moustache, wearing a black balaclava and black boiler-suit, with a vacuum-cleaner strapped to his back. He nods to the GOONS as he enters.

GOONS: (Nodding) Good evening Jozic San.

The second individual is as tall as GOON 1 and is cloaked from head to toe. Its movements are more like a spider than a human as it scuttles inside, clicking at the two GOONS, who both nod their heads uneasily.

GOON 1: (Waits until the nightclub door is shut) The truth is, I gave up trying to second guess the boss after the what happened with the pelicans. What was that all about?

GOON 2: Baka! What’s there not to understand about the pelicans?

GOON 1: So the boss got us to steal the old lady’s pelicans, right?

GOON 2: Right.

GOON 1: Then we gave them to that scientist –

GOON 2: Motzing.

GOON 1: Yeah, Motzing. That’s the guy. (pauses) So… stop me if I’m missing something… Motzing hides the pelicans on board the ship before the Flower Company set sail. Then we pick up that Pinky kid in New Mexico and fly him three thousand miles to the base. (Tapping his head) That Pinky was kichigai. Remember he nearly took the boss’s chopper down? Didn’t he have dynamite hidden in his pants?

GOON 2: Do you want me to explain the pelicans or not?

GOON 1: Please, explain.

GOON 2: So, you know how Motzing installed cameras in the pelican’s eyes before he hid them on the ship –

GOON 1: No! (pause) That’s genius! (pause) But why?

GOON 2: The boss wanted portable surveillance in addition to the mole and the supercomputer’s security tapes –

GOON 1: Mole?

GOON 2: The First Court’s Mole. The tall ginger fellow with the afro.

GOON 1: (Shakes his head) Def Mute?

GOON 2: No, the other one. The tall one.

GOON 1: Scarytoes?

GOON 2: (Losing his patience again) Baka! No! Scarytoes is the tiny one with the mask and the cigarettes tucked into his sleeve. Listen, are you going to keep interrupting me, or are you going to let me finish?

GOON 1: Sorry. Please continue.

GOON 2: (sighs) Everything’s going according to plan until this Pinky kid starts using the pelicans to collect food and shit from the mainland. Of course, now people are asking questions… like that Cuban shopkeeper who went to the local police and asked why the fuck are pelicans walking into my shop and walking off with a sack of chickpeas?

GOON 1: (Shakes his head) I don’t know. Why?

GOON 2: (Shrugs impatiently) Apparently it was to make something called… falafel… or something like that. I can’t remember! It’s not important. The point is, we hear that the pelicans are bringing Pinky to the mainland, then suddenly… poof! (He makes a fluttering gesture with his hands) The pelicans are gone. That’s why we picked up Pinky and took him to Antarctica. And you know what happened there…

GOON 1: Takashi Tamura. (Punches a fist into his cupped hand.)

GOON 2: Exactly. (Holds up his bandaged hand) The boss won’t be in a hurry to trust me with recruitment again.

GOON 1: You’re lucky he didn’t shoot you in the balls.

GOON 2: Now Pinky is apparently back on the ship making giant hamburgers and cigarette salads. That’s why we’re flying out with the boss next week.

GOON 1: (Face lighting up) Ah!

GOON 2: You understand now?

GOON 1: (Shakes his head) Not really.

GOON 2 raises his eyebrows and stares off into space. GOON 1 lights another cigarette and offers one to GOON 2. They both light up in unison and we follow the smoke trails into the Tokyo night sky.

INT. GALLEY,  THE MARDI

Obvious home video of a much different quality than the previous camera. It is zoomed way in and is out of focus. People are laughing and talking. The camera shakily zooms out to MOSS, JON OF THE ATOM, JANE GILMORE and BOGAN eating. They have placed plain tortillas flat on their orange plastic plates, and are eating them with forks and knives. There four tankards of cloudy, brownish-green liquid on the table as well, all of which are practically empty. JON holds up a wedge of tortilla on his fork and eyes it theatrically. He holds it out towards the camera, and comically jabs it at the lens. The auto focus, having only recently caught up with things, is pathetically out of whack again.

JON: Yummmmmmmmmmmmm…
(He candidly bites the food off the fork)

(Simultaneously to this)
JANE GILMORE: Jon, what did the mountain sheep say to its mom?

MOSS raises her hands like she is conducting and counts three readying beats. Both she and JON start reciting in a sing-songy voice. Despite her well-intentioned cue, neither begin nor end at the same time.

MOSS and JON: The mosquitoes are bad, let’s stand on some ice!

BOGAN: (He both looks and sounds sick) Uhhhh…

MOSS, JON, and JANE GILMORE laugh at the song. They begin to rhythmically pound their utensils to a lurchy beat.

MOSS, JON, AND JANE GILMORE: The mosquitoes are bad. Here, eat some of these leaves! Are you feeling alright?

JON interjects with a well-timed and mostly atonal series of trumpet-like sounds. He then stops, and proceeds with a feigned air of seriousness.

JON: Time for the three o’clock report!

They pause and fix their gazes intently on BOGAN He looks really pale and he has closed his eyes.

JON: (Repeating himself, with even more emphasis) Time for the three o’clock report!

They stare even more intently, and BOGAN burps up a huge, briny-black bubble. He starts, opening his eyes slightly. A highly disoriented look settles over his face.

Suddenly we see everything from inside the bubble. Our perspective is tinted brown and green, floating above the table, and marvelously fish-eyed. It is from this angle that we see someone open the door and walk into the kitchen. It is GOON 2 from the previous scene. He has grown a thin mustache and his hand is still heavily bandaged. He immediately stops to look around, perplexed by the three people delightedly staring at their giant, quavering black bubble. (And the fourth, looking slightly relieved, but still quite unwell.)

GOON 2: What the hell is going on in here?

He has stopped just inside the doorway. Somebody piles into him, jolting the heavy-set man considerably. He stumbles to catch his balance.

VOICE: Oof!

GOON 2 turns to see what has caused the collision. It is EMERSON BETCHKAL. He quickly turns his attention back to the bubble. EMERSON looks up from where he has fallen.

EMERSON: Oh, shit!

EMERSON gets up and runs from the room. We hear his footsteps disappear through the WARDROOM.

GOON 2 looks up at the bubble for a while longer, then waves at the others, trying to get their attention.

GOON 2: Hello? (Waves) Hello? What the hell is going on here?

EMERSON comes charging back into the room carrying an enormous glass bottle. It is inset with a small metal filament, giving it the appearance of an upside-down light bulb. He is followed shortly thereafter by a sleep-tousled SIMON. SIMON is wearing a blue and red striped stocking cap that reaches halfway down his back and a nightgown that badly needs laundering. He is clutching a mess of cables, which he hurriedly dumps on the table, inadvertently spilling one of the tankards.

JON: (casually) Three o’clock report. (He points at the bubble.)

SIMON: Jeez, that one’s huge! (He begins frantically untangling and arranging electric components, after a few seconds, he pauses momentarily to address the camera person) The Algaebrew. Has everybody been taking their appropriate dosage? (pause) Good. Yes, very good.

EMERSON grasps a wire from the fray and plugs it into the end of the bottle.

SIMON: (Finishing his preparations and looking around) We’re still early, I guess. (To EMERSON) Well, I shudder to think what would have happened if you hadn’t been here… (digresses to mumbling) …I’m starting to think that tearing out the phone lines… (He stops short. This is due to the onset of a repetitive, multi-layered drone that begins to emanate from the bubble. It is quite loud)

JANE GILMORE: Baaaaa…

GOON 2 plugs his ears against the noise.

At this point, the bubble has become luminescent, and quite bright, at that. Rippling diffractive patterns of light dance on every wall of the room – they are strongly reminiscent of shallow water. Everyone is staring, now, even BOGAN, though he does so weakly.

Suddenly the bubble pops, catching us unaware. The entire scene is instantaneously silent, (though we can see people’s mouths moving) and the video is overexposed with a pristine, phosphorescent white light. After about 3 seconds, the light “switches off” and sound slowly permeates the scene. We notice that a murky brown gas has been captured inside of the glass jar.

SIMON looks relieved as he claps BOGAN on the back.

SIMON: Well done, Chef. Well done, indeed.

BOGAN manages a befuddled grin.

JON, MOSS, and JANE GILMORE: (Pounding their fists on the table) Hurrah for Algaebrew!

A few seconds pass where nothing occurs save for people looking around or trying to remember what they were doing before, picking up their forks, etc… We notice the playback speed of the film picks up pace, until events are a rapid blur. We see people leave the GALLEY – first GOON 2, SIMON, and EMERSON, then eventually MOSS, JON, BOGAN AND JANE GILMORE. By the time the speed slowly creeps back down again, several hours have elapsed.

It is the first inklings of dawn. SYD LANE enters the GALLEY in her pajamas and slippers, holding a skeleton key.

SYD: (calling) Hello? Anyone? I can’t work out how to open my cabin door?

She  glances down at plates with half-eaten tortillas and tankards half-filled with a cloudy liquid. She  sighs and takes out a small saucepan from a cabinet and a box of SHIP SHAPES cereal from a wall cabinet. She pours some SHIP SHAPES into the pan and adds water from the sink. Then, she places the pan on the stove and turns the plastic dial for the left-front burner. We hear the creaking of the heating elements against the pan. SYD stares out the window at the Specific Ocean.

We hear ALFIE’s whistling again, and this time, we can recognize a slow and curious refrain of The Wheelies ‘Everybody Dreams About Something’. The song continues throughout the next scene.

EXT. MAIN DECK – THE MARDI, MID-AFTERNOON

The shot begins from CRAW’S NEST 1, and slowly zooms in. The Flower Company, or at least part of it, are assembled in bright sunshine for a burial at sea. Attempts at formality are laughable. Most people seem to have had trouble putting on their clothes properly. Some people have disheveled their green shirts into headbands or bandannas. Others are wearing flowerpots on their heads. Someone has wrapped MR KORADJI’s coffin in the Koradji Corporation flag, and moved it to the edge of the ship. GOONS 1 and 2 are standing at the COMMUNICATIONS BAY portholes , quietly watching proceedings.

INT. COMMUNICATIONS BAY, THE MARDI


In Japanese, subtitled. The GOONS speak softly so that nobody can hear them.

GOON 2: I told you he was up to something.

GOON 1: That crazy guy in the dressing gown shot him. You can’t seriously believe he planned for it to happen?

GOON 2: You never know with the old man…

GOON 1: It was totally random.

GOON 2: You never know…

Pause.

GOON 1: What should we do now?


GOON 2: Well, what the hell?  I don’t like it. Not even a little…but what else can we do? I say we follow the boss’s plan: install the device, head back to base, nullify Motzing, steal the plans, and remotely detonate the ship. Then we sell the plans back to the highest bidder, exactly like the boss intended.

GOON 1: (In thought) The rest of the First Court will not give up the Unimerse Machine without a fight.

GOON 2: If we strike fast, then they’ll have no choice. (Grins) Time to decide, Baka, whether you are a rooster or a dog…

Pause. The last note of the whistled tune evaporates.

Two of the crew push MR KORADJI’s coffin into the ocean. A variety of instruments (specifically, a gong, two sousaphones, metallic chimes, tin-whistles, bubble trumpet, kazoo, viola, sarod, and a half-broken timpani) start to mash out an anarchic and satisfyingly pulpy requiem.

GOON 1: (Whispering) Dog. I’m a dog.

GOON 2 pulls a small electronic device with a red switch on it from his pocket and looks down at it grimly before gazing out at the Flower Company playing their peculiar instruments. He then proceeds to crouch down beneath the supercomputers and begins to install it. All the while, the two silent pumpkin screensavers on the monitors watch their every move.

GOON 2: (Finishing) Honestly, between you and me, this bunch isn’t really that bad… (he pulls himself out from under the desk)… though I will admit they are a tad strange. (Standing) It’s a shame they all have to die.

GOON 1: A random detonator device, eh? Soon as you press the red button, sailing on this ship will be like a big game of Russian Roulette. (He hands GOON 1 a floppy disk that he has pulled from his inside pocket) Is it true that the old man built it himself?

GOON 2: (Sitting down in front of the supercomputers and inserting the floppy disk) So he claimed. He was the only one who knew the override code too. (Taps at the keyboard, installing the device software onto the supercomputers.)

GOON 1: Another flaw in the plan…

GOON 2: (Completes the software installation and clicks onto the internet, sitting back in his chair, satisfied) I just need to overwrite the disk so that we can’t be traced and then we’re good to go.

GOON 1: Ooh! Have you seen those new virtual sports games? Try Battle Golf. That’ll fuck with the heads of anyone who gets curious about the disk. I had a shot of the Battle Skiing demo. (Pulls a face) That shit was insane!

GOON 2: (Typing) Battle – Golf.

A picture of DENNIS HOPPER smiling on a golf course appears on screen. Below him are the words “BATTLE GOLF: DELUXE EDITION”.

GOON 2: (Laughing and downloading the game onto the disk) Battle Golf, ha! Whatever will they think of next?

GOON 1: Mind you, I don’t know why we can’t just destroy the disk instead of overwriting it…

GOON 2: (Flashes him a look) Because we’re following the plan.

GOON 1: Fair enough. (Thinking) Of course, the disarm-code flaw is one thing, but it’s not the major flaw in the random detonator. I mentioned it to the boss, but he didn’t seem too concerned.

GOON 2: (Only partly paying attention as he labels and tosses the completed “Battle Golf” disk onto the desk) What’s that?

GOON 1: There’s as much chance of the bomb detonating immediately as there is it detonating 679 million years from now, right?

GOON 2 goes to press the red switch.

GOON 1: So I guess that it’s lucky for the old man that he’s already dead and in a coffin at the bottom of the ocean. He’ll not have to take the risk.

GOON 2: (Finger paused on the red switch beneath the desk) What did you just say?

GOON 1: I said he’s lucky not to be here. For all we know, soon as you press that switch, we could get blown to smithereens…

GOON 2’s eyes open in realisation, the camera rushing into a dilated pupil.

INT. THE KORADJI CORPORATION PENTHOUSE, TOKYO, TWILIGHT

An opulent office with lush cream carpets, tapestries hanging on the walls, amazing views of the lit-up city out of the penthouse window. In a leather chair behind a lavish desk sits

  1. KORADJI in his Japanese dressing gown, wearing a hairy black mask. He is holding a revolver that is smoking. GOON 2 sits opposite him, holding up his hand with a bloody bullet hole in it.

KORADJI: Keep it up. If you spill any blood on the carpet, then I won’t be so kind with my next shot.

GOON 2: (In English) Y-yes, Koradji San.

KORADJI: Do you have any idea how pissed Mrs Koradji is about her pelicans vanishing into thin air? They were a Christmas present, goddamn it! She loved those pelicans.

GOON 2: Koradji San, you have my word that Takashi Tamura shall be –

KORADJI: (Silences him with a wave of his hand) Forget Takashi Tamura. We have bigger fish to fry. This evening I am meeting with two of my business associates and, assuming we reach an agreement, tomorrow morning you and I will be flying out to that ship of mine. (He reaches into a drawer and produces the “random detonator” device and the floppy disk, then slides them across the table) I want you to look after these for me. I’ll explain what they are for later. Pack enough of my clothes to last… say two weeks. And bring the other goon with you. The even bigger one.

GOON 2: (Nodding) Yes, Koradji San.

KORADJI: Oh, and one more thing.

GOON 2: Koradji San?

KORADJI: Pack some ketchup. A couple of bottles should suffice.

INT. THE MOON POOL, THE MARDI

ALFIE is on his hands and knees, wearing a green skull mask and hooded top, hacking away at the wooden steps that lead up to the GALLEY with a scrench. KORADJI sits in an old brown armchair behind him, flanked on either side by the two GOONS.

KORADJI: Run that by me again. You powered the grand piano with… hairdryers in the legs?

ALFIE: Uh-huh. (He smashes a step and a chunk of wood flies past his face.)

KORADJI: And tell me, Alfie, would it be possible to rebuild it, only this time instead of a grand piano, with something else? Say, oh, I don’t know… a coffin?

ALFIE: A coffin? Well, I don’t see why not, only it wasn’t me who… (stops).

KORADJI: It wasn’t you who?

ALFIE: Shit. (long pause) Yeah, I mean, I could do that no problem. Assuming we can rustle up some more hairdryers.

KORADJI: Excellent. (Turns to GOON 2) See what you can do. I’ll also be needing,an oxygen tank and a pair of flippers.

The GOONS nod and the camera rushes outwards from GOON 2’s eyeball.

INT. THE COMMUNICATIONS BAY, THE MARDI

GOON 2 does not press the red switch. Instead he stands and gazes out of the porthole at some of the Flower Company who have tired of playing their instruments and have started a largely impromptu game of tag. They are running amok all across the deck. A tremendously stoned FLOWPOETRY continues to whap the broken timpani in a steady, rhythmic  manner.

GOON 2: We’re leaving.

GOON 1: What about the random detonator? Aren’t you going to switch it on?

GOON 2: (Shakes his head) The old man tricked us all.

EXT. IN THE SEA, BELOW THE MARDI

Two fish are talking as the Mardi glides overhead. They are marionettes. The second of the two has a slightly ptotic eye. Even as the ship is passing, the camera tilts down from the hull to squarely frame the animals floating largely motionless in the opalescent water, the expanse of which duskily recedes into reaches impenetrable by the device. They don’t do much at all for a while, except sway. Suddenly a coffin wrapped in the Koradji Corporation flag, crash lands in the water and begins to sink down, spinning slowly into the inky darkness.

FISH: Well, you don’t see something like that every day, Hary.

FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE: You certainly don’t, Bary.

They continue to watch bubbles drifting up from where the coffin disappeared, and shortly, the coffin begins to rise, moving horizontally through the water. There are two hairdryers sticking out of the back of it, propelling it off into the distance.

INT. THE COMMUNICATIONS BAY, THE MARDI

GOON 1: (Confused) You mean he faked his own death so as the rest of the First Court wouldn’t suspect his involvement in the coup?

GOON 2: (Blinks) Actually, I didn’t even consider that.

They pause for thought.

GOON 1: If we’re going to follow through with the plan –

GOON 2: The plan? Are you insane? We’re as good as dead! Knowing Koradji, I’d bet my good hand that Takashi Tamura is already waiting in Antarctica with the plans for the Unimerse Machine. The old man was probably holding out for a signal from Tamura before faking his own death. Now, all that’s left is for us to flick that switch. And who’s to say it’s a random detonator at all? Perhaps it’s primed to explode the moment we press it.

GOON 1 😦grimly) What shall we do?

GOON 2: We get out of here, as quickly as possible, then we head to Antarctica. Perhaps we’re just being paranoid – this place (he motions to the ship) does funny things to your brain. (grimaces) But if we’re right about the boss being alive, then perhaps we can outflank them and steal the plans from whoever the boss has got working for him, be it Takashi Tamura or someone else. Whatever the fuck is going on, we need to make ourselves indispensable. Agreed?

GOON 1: Agreed. (Moving to the door) We can’t call the Corporation chopper then. We’ll need to find another way off this ship…

GOON 2 is right along with him, and already knows what he is going to say. They speak simultaneously, exiting the COMMUNICATIONS BAY.

GOONS 1 and 2: The Dr Seuss dinghy.

BLACK SCREEN – WHITE LETTERING FADES IN READS:

“14 LOST DAYS ON THE MARDI – PART 2” – FADES OUT

INT. INSIDE THE WALL CAVITY BEHIND THE SKIRTING BOARD OF THE ANCHOR HOLD

Two black rats twitch, sniffing and scratching their way out across the GALLEY floor. They reach a small hole between two worktops in the GALLEY, stopping side by side and look out and up into the harsh light of the room. The two rats pause for a moment, sniffing the air, before scurrying in unison towards the FREEZER, where kaleidoscopic creamy light pulses behind the partially open door. The first rat scurries inside and the other quickly follows. There is a small burst of white light from behind the door moments later.

SQUEAKY MALE VOICE FROM INSIDE THE FREEZER (BUCKLEY): What the fuck is THAT!?

FEMALE VOICE FROM INSIDE THE FREEZER (DOREEN): I ain’t never seen anything like it before, Buck. Looks like some sort of ice-cream nebula…

The two rats emerge into the GALLEY, dripping in ice-cream, with saucer-shaped black drugged-up eyes goggling beneath the cream.

BUCKLEY: Holy shit, Doreen! (pause) We’re talking… human!

INT. THE BASEMENT, THE MARDI

We revisit the scene earlier where AWREL CROW was about to vaporise FERNANDO MURPHY on the BASEMENT stairs.

AWREL CROW: …Do you know what it means, Fernando?

FERNANDO shakes his head, cowering backwards as AWREL CROW points the vaporaygun up at him.

AWREL CROW: It means that we’ve reached the end of your story. (Pauses, looks around) Unless there’s some sort of last minute accidental rescue attempt, because with these COMPLETE FRICKIN’ IDIOTS that the First Court roped into sailing MY ship, ANYTHING is possible, ya know? (Laughing, listening) No, nothing? Nobody to save you? (Sticks out his bottom lip) Well ain’t that a shame!

He lifts the raygun and FERNANDO closes his eyes. Just as he is about to pull the trigger, somebody coughs behind AWREL CROW. It is THARKEY, a Tibetan sherpa, wearing a purple football strip with “MO’S BEACH BAR” printed across the chest. AWREL CROW spins round to face him.

AWREL CROW: (Seething) Who the fuck are you?

THARKEY: (smiling) Sorry I’m late, Awrel Crow. I won’t keep you long.

AWREL CROW: (Lifts the vaporaygun and points it at Tharkey) No, you won’t keep me long at all…

THARKEY: I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

AWREL CROW: (Grins) Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t.

THARKEY: (Shrugs) How about we start with my name?

AWREL CROW: (Waves the vaporaygun) Listen, if anyone’s going to be cryptic around here, then it’ll be me. Spit it out.

THARKEY: Very well. Here on Plum Island, everybody knows me as Tharkey, but my original name (he nods towards the boy) was Fernando Murphy.

AWREL CROW: (Glances at the boy, then back at THARKEY, before he grins again) Ah, so you expect me to take your word for it and let the boy go?

THARKEY: I know what you want, Awrel Crow, and if Hemhockle’s prophecy is true, then someday you will get it. But for that to happen, then yes, you will need to let this younger version of me go. I don’t have much time to explain because it’s halftime in a football match and if I’m not back for the start of the second half then who knows what might happen? Perhaps another islander will take the penalty I plan to miss, and Rob Vink will win your precious Unimerse Machine? Perhaps my children will not get off Plum Island alive, and my son, who I deliberately named “Sam” to earn the trust of the warped  supercomputer NIKO, will not be able to reprogramme him and stop him from destroying the ship? Without me, Willoughby Toad would be blissfully unaware of the spirits of Knob Hill, and as a result, the Chief would not find Geshe-La’s golden wellingtons, the 21 Secrets of the Unimerse would not take their true cyclonic form, and the Flower Company will not assimilate with the Unimerse Machine, meaning that Willoughby won’t be able to imagine your precious seed-bubble into existence? Of course, there’s more, but I’m sure you get the idea.

AWREL CROW: (Eyes narrowing) Who are you really?

THARKEY: (Quietly) I am more people than you could ever imagine.

AWREL CROW: (Lowers the raygun and walks over to the silver briefcase, placing it back inside – we see that there are five other rayguns in it. He picks up the briefcase and nods at THARKEY before kicking through the remains of MUMBLES, and heading up the stairs, pausing on the top step and looking down at FERNANDO) You win this time, Fernando Murphy. But you’ve heard your future self: the prophecy will come true and your resistance is futile. I am the Lord High Prince of Ultimate Darkness and the seed-bubble will be mine…

FERNANDO sticks his middle finger up at him and AWREL CROW laughs, opening the trapdoor with ease and climbing up into the RECREATION ROOM. The camera follows him as he closes the trapdoor behind him and crawls out from under the ping-pong table with the silver briefcase.

INT. THE RECREATION ROOM, THE MARDI

AWREL CROW looks right into the WARDROOM, checking the coast is clear, then heads left to the top of the stairs that lead down to the LOWER DECK. He pauses, sensing something is wrong and looks down at UBERPAUL who is standing at the foot of the stairs in his psychedelic dressing gown and shades, a shotgun in his hands.

UBERPAUL: (slowly) You… motherfucking… EMO!

He shoots. The bullet explodes into AWREL CROW’s chest and he collapses backwards, the silver case spinning from his gloved hands out of sight. AWREL CROW gasps for air, barely perceptible trails of black shadowy smoke rising from where the bullet struck him. He desperately crawls away on all fours, his diamond black eyes glittering with fear, back into the RECREATION ROOM, where he crawls under the ping-pong table.

A minutes passes, and a second gunshot rings out. AWREL CROW is barely visible in the shadows beneath the table. We hear voices raised in the WARDROOM next door.

TIN PAN: (anxiously) Is that… is someone shooting a gun?

SIMON: A gun! (Pause) Why, I hadn’t thought of that! I just assumed that someone was letting off fireworks and I didn’t want to miss the display… But yes! It’s equally possible that those could have been gunshots! Quick! We have even less time to waste! (Pause) Is that a glitterball? I’ve never noticed that before.

Moments later, SIMON PILER runs past in an ice-cream coated deep-sea diving costume torn under the arm and minus the helmet and boots. He is followed by BRENDON HERTZ in a pair of marigolds, DEF MUTE with a towel hanging out of his back pocket, SCARYTOES, MATTHEW THE MIGHTY, SPARKS, EMERSON, and TIN PAN. They clatter through the RECREATION ROOM and down the steps to where UBERPAUL was standing with his shotgun.

WHITE TEXT ACROSS BLACK SCREEN READS “54 DAYS LATER”

INT. IN THE AIR DUCTS ABOVE THE GALLEY – EARLY MORNING

The same two black rats from before, only they now look like 3D computer animations. One of them is standing, staring through the air vent. The other reclines on its back with its front paws tucked behind its head, eyes closed, puffing on a tiny rat-sized roll-up.

BUCKLEY: (rat lying down) Anything down there, Doreen?

DOREEN: (rat standing up) Not even a wafer.
(pause)
Buckley, we’re going to starve to death!
(pause)
I’m eating for eleven you know.

She pats her swollen belly.

BUCKLEY: That’s great, dear.

DOREEN: (turning) Are you even listening to what I’m saying? I said we’re going to starve to death unless we get off this ship! With the cook in a coma, they’ve not ordered anything in weeks. I’m sick to the back teeth of moldy mash and funny tasting popcorn… (Suddenly her ears prick up) Shhh! What’s that noise?

BUCKLEY: It’s the leftover mash. It gives me terrible gas…

DOREEN: No you dipshit! Listen!

BUCKLEY stops and sure enough there is a loud clanking down the ventilation shaft behind them, followed by a whizzing sound and the clatter of metal. BUCKLEY rolls quietly onto his paws, the remains of the last few draws of the roll-up hanging down from his lips.

DOREEN: (whispering) What is it?

BUCKLEY shrugs, and suddenly a large plastic pipe begins to move towards them down the ventilation shaft. A voice can clearly be heard shouting further down – it is SIMON PILER’s.

SIMON: That’s it Emerson! A little further! A little further still!
(inaudible shouts)
Delicious coffee from every spigot wa!

The plastic pipe looms suddenly over them.

BUCKLEY: (whispering) Ruuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnn!

WARCHALKING “DIVING BELL” plays as the two rats scamper along the air ducts and the camera follows them as they go, hurdling obstacles, tearing through cobwebs, popcorn and puddles.

DOREEN: (breathless, running) I… told… you… we… should… have… built… a nest!

BUCKLEY: (Looks back over his shoulder, running and puffing simultaneously) Quit busting my balls, Doreen! This way!

He takes a sudden left turn into a shaft jammed with popcorn, tunnelling through it before sliding a short way down a metal duct and shooting out of a hole in the wall where a vent once was into the COMMUNICATIONS BAY.

INT. COMMUNICATIONS BAY, THE MARDI

The camera follows as BUCKLEY flies through the air, capturing his cartoon face in a look of blind panic with gravity tugging at his jowls. He lands on the carpet in a clumsy roll, bouncing like a ball until he finally comes to rest against against a swivel chair in front of of two supercomputers, supported by his chin with his backside in the air, groaning and looking up at the room full of YLFNOGARDS (red tennis-ball sized cartoon dragonflies that zzub around backwards). Seconds later we hear the shriek of DOREEN as she flies from the vent and rolls across the floor, arriving in the shot and colliding with BUCKLEY who is knocked into a vertical flip and lands on his back. While DOREEN catches her breath, the roll-up appears again in BUCKLEY’s mouth, though it appears to be longer than it was in the previous scene.

DOREEN: (Gesturing at the YLFNOGARDS, the zzubing gets louder as they continue to swarm around the room) What…are they?

BUCKLEY: Fuck knows. Some sort of backwards-flying birds… I think.

DOREEN: (Leaps to her feet and kicks BUCKLEY in the side, he yelps in pain) That’s it! I’ve had enough of this stinking ship! I want to go home! Right away! My mother was right about you – you’re a no good fat lazy rat!
(impersonating BUCKLEY’s drawl)
Hey, let’s go to sea. I know this ship. We’ll have an adventure. See the world.

BUCKLEY: Honey…

DOREEN: Don’t you “honey” me! I ought to ditch your dumb ass right now!
(She is crying)

BUCKLEY: (Rights himself, wincing at the pain of the kick) Doreen, I’m sorry. You’re just being hormon –
(He checks himself quickly and bats at an YLFNOGARD that zzubs past his face)
You just want the best for our kids. I dig that. I feel the same way. But this ship…
(He nuzzles into her and she responds)
…I know it gets kinda weird, but it’s –
(pauses)
it’s exciting!

DOREEN: (sniffing) Buck, I just want to go home.

BUCKLEY: (smiling) Home? To the sewers? Honey, you’re forgetting what it was like there…You really want to bring our kids up underground? With the stench of shit and your mother sniffing round us eight days a week?
(His face visibly shudders at the thought)
This ship… this mad and beautiful old ship… is our home. Sure, occasionally something happens like a big plastic pipe gets poked down the air vents… and the food is… well the food isn’t something to write postcards about. But just imagine…our kids will be ship-rats, not your common everyday sewer rat. Isn’t that something worth dreaming about? I mean, at the very least, let’s see this out. Sail around the world. Right around the world. That would be something worth telling our grandkids about, wouldn’t it?

DOREEN: (softening) I guess.

BUCKLEY: It’s just… well, the way these idiots are sailing this ship, we’ll be lucky to make it back alive, let alone any time in the next year.
(looks around)
You ever been in here before? What is this place?

DOREEN: Yeah, once or twice. They call it the “Communications Bay”.

BUCKLEY: Hmmmm.

DOREEN: I’ve seen the strange one in here. The one with the green skull mask.  And the other one, the Not Captain, Alfie I think his name is.

BUCKLEY: I thought Alfie was the one in the green skull mask? (He scurries over to a worn brown armchair and begins to nimbly negotiate his way up towards the two supercomputers. He swings from an armrest, edging along, and finally leaps up onto the surface.)

DOREEN: No, I think the one in the green skull mask is called Willoughby, though the two of them look the same. Maybe they’re brothers. (Bats at an YLFNOGARD) Buck, what are you doing up there?

BUCKLEY: Just nosing around. Hey, check this out!

Cut to a shot from directly above BUCKLEY of the little rat typing furiously on SUPERCOMPUTER SAM’s keyboard. On the monitor is a satellite image of the MARDI’s path since it left Jacksonville. It is currently smack at the centre of the Bermuda Triangle.

DOREEN: You’re not messing with anything are you?

BUCKLEY: (excitedly) Doreen, you should see this, you should see how far we’ve gone! Only… we’re not going very fast, and I’m pretty sure we’re heading in the wrong direction…

DOREEN: That’s lovely, now can you come down please!

BUCKLEY nudges NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER’s mouse with his tail and NIKO’s pumpkin face immediately springs into life on the screen, glaring down at the rat.

NIKO: ++What in fuck are you supposed to be?++

BUCKLEY: (Looking up at NIKO, quietly) Awe-some!


DOREEN: What was that? Buckley? Is there somebody up there with you?

BUCKLEY: Some kind of fancy computer with a big crazy pumpkin face –

NIKO: ++Fancy com-?++ (digital interference) ++I am NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER!++

BUCKLEY: (shouting down) Apparently he’s NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER…

DOREEN: I heard! (She  looks back anxiously over her shoulder)
Buck, I think there’s someone coming!

BUCKLEY: (Swivelling a mouse around the desktop, NIKO’s pumpkin eyes follow him warily)
Yo NIKO SUPERCOMPTER, is it possible to change the direction of the ship from here?

DOREEN: Buck, seriously, I hear voices! Someone’s coming down that ventilation shaft!

NIKO: (snorts derisively) ++Nothing is impossible for NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER, you freaky little furball++

BUCKLEY: Great! Can you head for… hang on.
(he squints at the map on the screen)
The Panama Canal?
(pause)
Can you?

NIKO: ++I already have++

BUCKLEY: Excellent! Hey, that was easy. (Thinking) Oh, and can you go a bit faster?

NIKO: ++Obviously++

We can now hear voices in the ventilation shaft over the zzubing drone of the YLFNOGARDS.

VOICE 1 (DARKO JOZIC): Come on then, which way now?

VOICE 2 (WILLOUGHBY): How the fuck should I know? You’re the fucking backwards dragonfly expert!

VOICE 3 (ALFIE/OLDER): I think I hear zzubing ahead. It sounds like a vending machine. Or a swarm of flies. I really hope it’s a vending machine.

VOICE 1: Follow that zzub.

DOREEN: (through her teeth)
Buckleeeeey!

She darts under the desk and BUCKLEY ducks down behind the mouse.

Suddenly, ALFIE tumbles from the ventilation shaft and lands in the room. His face looks different, like it has a plastic sheen to it, and his body is much skinnier and hunched as he starts flapping at the YLFNOGARDS.

ALFIE: (Shrieking) Where’s the vending machine!?

A second ALFIE drops down from the ventilation shaft, but this one doesn’t wear glasses, and has the name “TOAD” stitched onto his Flower Company t-shirt (It is WILLOUGHBY TOAD). His clothes and skin are stained greenish-black like he has jumped out of some slime straight into them.

Thirdly, DARKO JOZIC jumps down from the ventilation shaft and we recognise him as the character with the moustache, balaclava, and vacuum-cleaner who previously visited KORADJI’s Tokyo nightclub. He is holding the vacuum-cleaner hose which shoots bursts of laser that incinerate the YLFNOGARDS, turning them into black sooty ash.

DARKO: I’ve never seen anything like it before! I’ve not been this excited since match-point at the 1996 Rongovian Table Tennis final!

WILLOUGHBY: Ping-pong?

DARKO: Yes (Continuing to fry the YLFNOGARDS) I haven’t always been in pest control. I was Rongovian national table tennis champion for four years.

WILLOUGHBY smiles.

BLACK SCREEN: WHITE TEXT READS “6.79 MINUTES LATER”

EXT. THE MAIN DECK, THE MARDI

A sooty WILLOUGHBY TOAD ushers an equally grubby DARKO JOZIC across the MAIN DECK under the moon. There are a handful of protesters gathered around the main mast with placards reading “NONE OF THIS IS REAL” and pictures of the Quixodelic finger with a line through it. In the background we can see the plastic-faced ALFIE sitting in the YLFNOGARD-free COMMUNICATIONS BAY in front of NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER.

WILLOUGHBY: (Steering DARKO away from the protesters) Don’t worry about it, man. All I need you to do now is think ping-pong. I’m one point away from winning the Elephant Teapot. The Elephant Teapot! With your help…(he tails off dreamily).

INT. RECREATION ROOM, THE MARDI

DARKO JOZIC stands goggling at the scene. WILLOUGHBY TOAD has picked up a ping-pong paddle and stares at DARKO as he tries to comprehend what he sees. On the other side of the table, SIMON PILER is frozen in an extend-o-wrist pong, a stripy night-hat caught in an elaborate twirl spiralling down to his knees, the ping-pong ball hanging in the air above the net, defying gravity.

WILLOUGHBY: Just give me the basics, Darko. Coach me through this point. We’ve been playing for nearly four months and there’s an Elephant Teapot at stake. Just tell me what I need to do.

DARKO’s mouth opens in disbelief, but nothing comes out.

WILLOUGHBY: Darko! Pull yourself together! Forget that everything seems frozen. You’ve played in big games before. What’s the secret? What do I need to know about ping-pong to win this last point?

DARKO: I… well… I guess you need to be there in the moment.

WILLOUGHBY: (Impatiently) That’s just a fucking sporting cliche. I need something else, something that can really, you know, give me that cutting edge.

DARKO looks down, thinking and his eyes widen at the sight of AWREL CROW staring up at him from under the table.

DARKO: (Quickly) There is one thing. An ancient Rongovian magic spell. But I’m just not sure if you’re ready to… I mean, this is the weirdest game of table tennis I have ever seen.

WILLOUGHBY: Tell me, man! I’m ready.

DARKO: (Takes a deep breath through his nose) Hey, I smell prunes again…

Suddenly SIMON PILER comes to life, his hat twirling, the bat whooshing and the ball flying over the net, landing with a “plock” on WILLOUGHBY’s side of the table. WILLOUGHBY lunges to his right, drawing back his paddle, only to find DARKO biting into his forearm.

WILLOUGHBY: Fuuuuuuuccckkkkk!

The ball flies past them and lands on the floor. WILLOUGHBY drops to his knees as DARKO tears a mouthful of stained cloth and flesh away from his arm. WILLOUGHBY’s eyes flutter and he passes out on the floor.

DARKO: (Chewing) I knew it. You taste like prunes.

SIMON: Gads! Who the hell is that guy?

DARKO nods at AWREL CROW and begins to move around the table , menacingly in SIMON’s direction.

SIMON: Hey, stay right where you are, you!

DARKO pauses as SIMON begins to skip around the table in the other direction. Suddenly he stops and looks down at a faded yellow mangled plastic child’s watering-can that is shaped like an elephant. It has apparently materialised out of nowhere into his hands.

SIMON: Oh, wait… I’ve won! I’ve won!

He holds the ELEPHANT TEAPOT aloft and the RECREATION ROOM resounds with the sound of celestial choirs singing, a corona of luminous light emitting from around the ELEPHANT TEAPOT. The sound of the celestial choir rapidly fades.

SIMON: Hee hee hee hee (jumping up and down) It’s over! I’ve won! Ha ha!

(He pulls monkey faces for several seconds until he remembers about WILLOUGHBY.)

Oh, shit, Alfie are you okay?

DARKO begins to move around the table again, with more purpose this time. As he does, SIMON moves again towards WILLOUGHBY, so that he and DARKO remain on opposite sides of the table.

SIMON: I told you to stay where you are!

(He crouches down to examine WILLOUGHBY’s arm) Alfie?

WILLOUGHBY does not respond. SIMON stands up and hooks the ELEPHANT TEAPOT to his belt.

SIMON: (Muttering) I better drag him to the Sick Bay… Hey, Mr Cannibal, I want you to wait right here until I get back, okay?

DARKO stares at him creepily. SIMON picks up WILLOUGHBY by the ankles and drags him out the door, tipping his hat on the way out. DARKO waits for them to leave, listening to the sound of SIMON dragging WILLOUGHBY off down the corridor. Once he is sure they have gone, he moves quickly, crouching down and helping AWREL CROW out.

DARKO: Lord High Most Venerable and Almighty Majestic Prince of Ultimate Darkness! Are you alright?

AWREL CROW: (Wheezing, critically injured) No, you fucking imbecile… I am not alright. I’ve been shot.

DARKO: (Tears welling up in his eyes, panicking) No! Noooooooo! This can’t be happening! You can’t die!

AWREL CROW: Shut-

DARKO: I won’t let you die Lord High Most Venerable and Almighty Majestic Prince of Ultimate Darkness!

AWREL CROW: Shut-

DARKO: We need you! I need you.

AWREL CROW: Liste-

DARKO: You promised that I would be your right-hand man in your New Universe! (Sobbing, cradling AWREL CROW in his arms) That I could have whatever I wanted! I even made a list, look –

(He drops AWREL CROW awkwardly and the dying fox-man groans, while DARKO pulls out a long list from his boilersuit chest pocket.)

I mean, this is bullshit. How can you die now?

(Turns his face to the ceiling)

HOW CAN HE DIE NOW?

AWREL CROW: (Wheezing) If you’d just shut up for a fucking second and let me speak… (gasps) there is still time to save me, Darko.

DARKO: (Still yelling at the ceiling) You have no idea how much thought I put into this! (Looks down at his list) For example… number six: like, a really badass black castle to live in, or… number seven: my own army of minions who would all have really fucking great moustaches like me, even the chicks… or… or… number nine: big fuck off boots that magically lace themselves…

AWREL CROW: Darko, carry me to the Communications Bay.

DARKO: (Sniffs) Alright.

He hoists AWREL CROW across his shoulder and exits.

INT. COMMUNICATIONS BAY, THE MARDI

DARKO JOZIC lays the dying AWREL CROW on the soot-covered floor. There are numerous rat paw prints, an empty can of Irn Bru, and footprints to show that plastic-faced ALFIE and the rats have gone. The two SUPERCOMPUTERS hum away on the desk, their pumpkin faces watching what is happening.

AWREL CROW: (His voice faltering) Darko, I need you to do something for me.

DARKO: Anything you ask Lord High Most Ven-

AWREL CROW: (Weakly waving a gloved hand) You can cut the sycophantic crap… just, listen to me carefully.

DARKO nods.

AWREL CROW: In a moment, I am going to transform what is left of my life-force and back it up electronically. When I am gone, I’ll need you to take this last trace of my soul, and deliver it to Midas.

DARKO: Midas? Lord High Most Venerable uh… I mean, ahem, don’t you remember? Midas went batshit crazy and stole the Unimerse Machine. The First Court had me… (he makes a snipping motion with his fingers)… you know, cut out his brain… ghoullify him.

AWREL CROW: (Coughs, black smoke rising from his mouth) Darko, Midas is Phaetonic. I’m sure it wasn’t difficult for him to grow his brain back. No, he’s still out there somewhere. I can feel it. I want you to track him down. He will know what to do. Tell him, if what I am planning to do works, then he should wait for Willoughby Toad at the Edge of the World –

DARKO: Can I… get a pen and paper for this? I don’t think I can remember it all without writing it dow-

AWREL CROW: (Suddenly his whole body is beginning to dissolve into black shadow and his voice becomes a harsh whisper) Quickly Darko! Find something for me to possess. Anything. A CD… a cassette… quickly… I don’t have much time.

DARKO: (Looks at the desk) How about this sandal?

AWREL CROW: (Hissing violently, his fox face dissolving into black shadow) No, you tit! A sandal isn’t electronic! How can the Flower Company imagine me back from that?

DARKO: (Looking at the desk) Ooh, that’s convenient! Someone left this floppy disk lying around. Says it’s “Battle Golf: Deluxe Edition”.

AWREL CROW: Yessssssssss! Yessssssssssssss….

AWREL CROW is now just a black swirling shadowy form. DARKO steps back as the shadow moves quickly across the floor towards him and absorbs into the floppy disk. The pumpkin faces blink in unison and all is silent except for the thrum of the two SUPERCOMPUTERS.

DARKO hovers awkwardly for several seconds, the floppy disk in his hand. Eventually he takes a deep breath, places it in his boilersuit pocket along with his list and exits.

NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER: ++What the fuck is going on?++

SAM SUPERCOMPUTER: ##I think we’ve reached the end of the movie##

NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER: ++Movie? What movie?++

SAM SUPERCOMPUTER: ##“Doom Cruise” I think it’s called##

NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER: ++“Doom Cruise”? You know, that sounds like my sort of movie. Let’s watch it.++

SAM SUPERCOMPUTER: ##Okay##.

The two screens flicker before the opening scene reappears on both of them.

INT. FILM STUDIO – THE MARDI

A small cinema screen, empty of images. The FILM STUDIO is dark and silent except for the HUM of a recently repaired projector. Sitting alone in the darkness is KRILL, a middle-aged, sinister looking clown, feeding kernels of popcorn mechanically into his mouth, his ghostly, thin face mesmerised by the light of the  empty screen.

On screen an image of SIMON PILER’s determined face appears. As the camera pans out, we see he is kitted out in full space gear and is climbing the main mast of the MARDI. The beam of a head torch on the outside of his helmet is the only source of light in the picture. All around him is impenetrable, starless space. He reaches the top of the mast and proceeds to climb around the OBSERVATORY OF MULTITUDES up onto the roof of a wooden toadstool, where the old monk LUMERETI HEMHOCKLE is tied down with padlocked guitar cables.

SIMON: Lumereti Hemhockle! Is it true?

The old man turns his face towards him, gaunt and sickly, with dark black eyes, and bristly white stubble. He looks vaguely like an ancient version of KRILL.

LUMERETI: Doctor Simon Piler!

SIMON: Yes, it’s me –

LUMERETI: THE Doctor Simon Piler of the earthly planet. I can’t believe it!

SIMON:  (Examining the padlocks) It’s time for you to come down.

LUMERETI: Down? Down from where?

SIMON: You chained yourself to the roof of the Observatory… on the Mardi…

LUMERETI: The Mardi!(coughing violently). Oh, she is fast, she is beautiful! She is the finest ship in all the galaxies! The flames make her go ever so much faster and put glare –

SIMON: Into the eyes of space pirates, yes we know.

LUMERETI: Yes. YES! You know!

SIMON: Lumereti, you’re dying, you need to help me get these confounded padlocks off…

LUMERETI: (merrily) Dying?

SIMON: Yes, I finally figured out the Kerouacian glyphs.

LUMERETI begins to laugh hysterically.

SIMON: What’s so funny?

LUMERETI: You are a very clever man, Dr. Simon Piler, but I must tell you that I am not dying. Quite the opposite in fact. It would seem that you have been a – (begins to laugh again, part-choking)

SIMON: What?

LUMERETI: (suppressing the laughter) Reading the prophecy upside down. (The old man pauses, tears welling up in his eyes.) In fact, any second now, I am about to be born. (grins)

CHANSONS DE GESTE’s “Astride A Grave” begins to play. LUMERETI HEMHOCKLE bursts into radiant light. As this light burns brighter, we catch an almost subliminal glimpse of SIMON PILER,  a tiny silhouette on his knees, blinded  at the top of the MARDI, the vast darkness around the ship illuminated. In the void are stationary asteroids like giant paper balls, twenty to fifty smallish moons of different hues, the carcasses of spaceships hung powerless in space, and way off into the distance, a small spinning plastic arrow with the word EXIT on it. Finally the light pouring from the HEMHOCKLE star obliterates everything we see and the screen is a phosphorescent shade of white.

13 thoughts on “Film Studio

  1. INT. FILM STUDIO – THE MARDI

    A small cinema screen, empty of images. The FILM STUDIO is dark and silent except for the HUM of a recently repaired projector.

    NARRATOR
    Ah, there you are. You are about to watch a film quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. For a start, this film doesn’t actually exist in the conventional sense of a film. For example, take that empty cinema screen you are looking at. It’s not really a cinema screen at all – it is but an imagined construct of a cinema screen in your mind. The same goes for the sound of the projector humming away in the background. Neither the cinema screen, nor the hum of the projector are real are they? Or are they? I don’t know about you, but I perceive both the screen and the sound just as vividly as I would if they existed in the conventional sense of existence. I imagine the screen and sound. And now you imagine the screen and sound. Our imaginings are of course very different, but also the same. I imagine a picture beginning to form in the middle of the screen and the sound of birds, the faraway rumble of traffic, the rustle of leaves in a breeze. And suddenly it exists. It is.

    EXT. FRONT PATH OF A SUBURBAN HOUSE – LATE AFTERNOON

    Camera is focused on a little boy’s hand moving a small plastic ship through a puddle on the path. In the blurred background the front door of the house opens and a woman appears.

    WOMAN
    (shouting)
    Steven, I’m not going to tell you again – your tea is getting cold

    The little boy’s hand lingers on the ship for a second before he stands up and runs into the blur of the house. The camera slowly begins to move towards the plastic ship, speeding up as it goes, and enters via a window at the back of the ship, the plastic interior coming to life as it does.

    INT. COMMUNICATIONS ROOM – THE MARDI – LATE MORNING

    The camera zooms in on SMALLY holding the phone to his ear. He wears thick black glasses and a green rubber skull mask rolled up onto his head, headphones hanging around his neck and a recently lit cigarette dangling down from his mouth. In the background two super computers WHIR away. The date appears on screen for a few seconds “1ST MAY 2009”

    SMALLY
    Willoughby is that you?
    (pauses while WILLOUGHBY TOAD replies inaudible, SMALLY grins almost imperceptibly)
    I’m good man. Look, I’ll cut straight to the chase – what are you doing this summer?
    (pauses to listen again, takes a draw of cigarette and exhales while he does)
    Brilliant. The thing is, I need your help on a project I’ve got going. It’s eh… it’s pretty weird. By that I mean a lot weirder than usual.
    (takes another draw)
    We’re on a ship Willoughby. By we I mean me myself and most of The Utica Flower Company. We’re um… drifting somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Actually I’m hoping we can drift all the way around the world, but that’s another story and this phone chews up money like nothing else so it’ll have to wait. The reason I’m calling is I’m going to try and make a film – a sort of psychedelic disaster movie. Do you think you could fly out here in the next couple of days? Money’s not a problem man, I’ll cover your expenses and obviously pay the going rate whatever that might be these days.
    (listens)
    Really? That much? Fuck.
    (draws again)
    Okay, well like I was saying, money’s not a problem. What I’m really looking for is for you to sneak on board in the night when none of the crew are watching. It’s a big fucking ship so there is plenty of room for you to hide away somewhere. In a month or so I’ll start filming. I’m wanting it to be pretty much improvised, maybe get another few writers in and see where it goes. I’m just going to sell it as us making a documentary of life on The Mardi – that’s the name of the ship by the way, you should probably write that down.
    (draws, listening)
    No not Marley… Mardi – M – A – R – D – I – you got that? Okay cool.
    (listens)
    It doesn’t matter what it means, that’s just what it’s called. Willoughby, listen – what I need you to do is to cause havoc – subtly at first, but then start building it as filming goes on. Really I want you to disappear into the ship so that nobody knows that you’re there. I mean, it’s made for you man, just do whatever it takes for us to get something interesting on film.
    (takes a draw, getting agitated)
    Yeah, just whatever it takes man.
    (listens)
    Kidnapping?
    (pauses)
    Erm… yeah I guess.
    (listens)
    Fuck man, that sounds a bit extreme. No, I just mean just stuff that will freak us out.
    (takes a draw)
    I don’t want to know man, just do what you’ve got to do. Sound good?
    (smiles)
    Okay, great. Listen, I’ll let you know our whereabouts just as soon as I get the ship’s tracking system working, then I’ll email you further instructions. Remember and keep this one under your hat man. I’ll get back to you later.

    SMALLY puts the receiver back on the wall cradle, pulls the mask down and puts the headphones on his ears. As he does THE ORANGE DROP “RETROGENERICA” begins to play. The camera begins to follow him as he leaves the COMMUNICATIONS ROOM into the bright sunlight of the MAIN DECK. The sky is clear blue as far as the eye can see. WARCHALKING cycles into view holding out an empty rum bottle that SMALLY deposits his cigarette into, WARCHALKING cycling around behind the camera out of sight. As each crew member appears, their name flashes up on screen. SMALLY makes his way to a hatch on the deck – as he does the camera spins catching ACTING FLASH leaping over the side of the ship with a FLOWER COMPANY surfboard in his hands. As he disappears from view, the camera also takes in UBERPAUL leaning over the edge throwing up and looking green but grinning. UBERPAUL gives a thumbs up and the camera pans back to SMALLY climbing down some metal steps to the floor below. Waiting at the bottom is a PELICAN who pads along behind him as he walks down the corridor. He passes ECHOES22 mouthing the words to the song and they shake hands as he passes.

    Into the RECREATION ROOM – DR SIMON PILER is frozen motionless blindfolded mid-shot at the far end of a ping pong table. As SMALLY passes lifting a table tennis bat from the near side of the table SIMON springs to life and hits the ball across the table. SMALLY hits it back and twirls the bat back onto the table as SIMON freezes again, the ball suspended mid-air.

    Into the WARDROOM. KATASTROPHI is sitting at a communal table on one of several plastic chairs, writing poetry in a notebook. She doesn’t look up as SMALLY passes through into the KITCHEN. It is filled with steam and BOBBY in chef’s uniform stirring several large pots, and looks up winking taking a slug from a bottle of bourbon. As SMALLY grabs a slice of pizza from a kitchen worktop and begins to go down another flight of steps, the FREEZER door at the far end of the KITCHEN with the word “CONTAMINATED” arranged on it with animal stickers, swings open revealing a a swirling nebula of ice cream. At the centre of the nebula stand several members of THE ATOM BAND in coloured jumpsuits and swimming goggles each holding up some kind of scientific device like a radiation counter, a clipboard, a test tube – they salute in unison as the camera pans down after SMALLY, briefly catching BOBBY tossing a chunk of squid that the PELICAN standing looking up at him catches and swallows.

    Camera follows SMALLY down into the FORWARD HOLD. Various pictures of writers, musicians and fictional characters (to be decided later) hang lopsided on the walls of the empty room in wooden frames as the camera follows him into the MACHINE ROOM. Pitch black until SMALLY opens the door leading to the ENGINE ROOM, temporarily casting light over the various benches and machinery of the MACHINE ROOM.

    Into the ENGINE ROOM – BECKY N is kneeling down beside an old broken fridge, face and bare arms dirty with engine oil and mud, lifting a strange looking flower carefully from a pot and placing it inside the fridge. Behind her is a blue COMMANDER engine covered in fingertrails of ice cream – SMALLY pats this absent mindedly as he walks past into the corridor leading to a row of BUNKROOMS. FROGVILLE is standing at the end of the corridor outside the SICK BAY wearing a patch and studying a peg leg that he doesn’t need. The SICK BAY doors are open beyond FROGVILLE, and through them we can vaguely see JONNY in a hammock with several sticking plasters on his face, drinking from a bottle of rum. Camera follows as SMALLY climbs back up two flights of stairs to the MAIN DECK.

    On the MAIN DECK – WARCHALKING cycles back in the opposite direction. SMALLY makes towards the main sail and begins to climb up in the direction of CROWS NEST 1. As he does, the camera pans out to sea briefly catching SYD sitting back in a dinghy strumming an acoustic guitar. The dinghy is tied to the ship with a long rope.

    The camera begins to follow SMALLY up the rope ladder in the direction of CROWS NEST 1. He is already almost out of sight, and as the camera moves ERRATICALLY upwards, the music fading out, there is a male scream and the camera drops to the deck below, flashing an image of an outstretched limb and a head wearing a blue balaclava. This is TIN PAN the CAMERAMAN. The camera comes to rest showing only TIN PAN’S outstretched arm and hand motionless. In the background WARCHALKING continues to cycle the length of the ship.

    TIN PAN
    (groaning)
    Oh fuck…

    SMALLY
    (shouting down from near the top of the rope ladder)
    Shit man, is the camera alright?

    TIN PAN
    (drawing breath through his teeth)
    My neck…

    SMALLY descends, his ADIDAS SAMBA trainers coming into view as he pauses and picks up the camera, shot moves away from TIN PAN’s outstretched arm and focuses partly on SMALLY’s face, skull mask rolled up again, and partly on the sky.

    SMALLY
    Is this thing still filming? Tin Pan?

    TIN PAN
    (groaning)
    Seriously Smally, I think I’ve broken my neck.

    SMALLY
    You only fell about five feet. How do you think that went anyway? Man, I really wanted to finish this scene up at the Crow’s Nest. Do you think we could do it again?

    The camera view continues to rotate as SMALLY turns it around in his hands trying to work out how to use it.

    SMALLY CONTD.
    Shoot it again? From the start? Or could we just maybe start filming again from the point where you fell off the ladder? Sort of splice it together. Tin Pan?

    TIN PAN
    (in pain)
    What?

    SMALLY
    Will we film it again?

    TIN PAN
    Just give me a minute

    The camera rests out of focus on some unidetifiable part of the ship.

    SMALLY
    You’re going to remember to put in the date at the start? Like superimpose it onto the screen?

    TIN PAN
    Yes

    SMALLY
    Not today’s date though. 1st of May 2009 so as it looks like the start of the journey. You can do that? And the names of the crew? You got all the crew didn’t you?

    TIN PAN
    I don’t know. I think so.

    SMALLY
    Ace. What does this button do? Does it switch it off?

    Screen goes black.

  2. EXT. THE MAIN DECK – MIDNIGHT

    A summer’s night – the moon is full and bright and the Atlantic Ocean LAPS peacefully against the side of the ship. The opening camera shot is blurred looking back across the deck at three silhouettes standing looking over the side of the ship. On screen appears the text “3rd May 2009”.

    BECKY
    (holding camera)
    Ah I’ve got it, I think. How do you focus it?

    TIN PAN
    (o/s)
    It should focus automatically, sometimes takes a few seconds, but if you want to manually –

    BECKY
    Oh there we go…

    The camera shot moves into focus, revealing TIN PAN wearing a giant neck brace, smoking what appears to be a joint with great physical discomfort. Behind him ACTING FLASH and JONNY are leaning on the rails. The camera rolls round a view of the sea and locates SMALLY rowing a dinghy, dragging a second dinghy hooked up with a small rope away from the ship. An INFLATED MORMON (life-size) is propped up in the second dinghy.

    TIN PAN
    You got it?

    BECKY
    Yeah, got it.

    FLASH
    Remind me what we’re doing here again?

    BECKY
    We’re making an imaginary film.

    Camera films SMALLY untying the rope that links the two dinghies and begins to row away leaving the INFLATED MORMON drifting on the surface of the sea.

    SMALLY
    (shouting)
    Okay! The lights!

    FLASH
    I know that. I mean, what are we meant to be doing in this scene?

    TIN PAN
    Filming the inflatable Mormon. Fuck knows why.

    SMALLY
    (shouting)
    Can you hear me? Hit the lights!

    FLASH
    Obviously. What I mean is if this is all in Smally’s imagination, then we can do what we want? Right?

    BECKY
    (turns camera back to the other three)
    Jonny, the lights…

    JONNY
    (grinning, plasters still stuck to his face, suddenly realises he is supposed to have turned the floodlights on and laughs)
    One thing to do and I completely forgot…

    BECKY
    (laughing)
    Some lighting man you are!
    (JONNY flicks a switch out of picture and a giant set of floodlights burst on, flooding the deck and everything in camera shot in blinding white light)
    Woah!

    TIN PAN
    Shit, those are bright

    JONNY
    (silhouetted coming back into shot)
    It’s supposed to be the moon
    (camera turns away from the ship back out to sea, temporarily picking up the two dinghies, now several metres apart, the sea is lit up by the floodlights, though the actual moon is clearly visible in full on the horizon)

    BECKY
    How do I zoom in?

    FLASH
    That doesn’t make sense. It’s like there’s two moons.

    TIN PAN
    Just… that switch there.
    (camera zooms in and out rapidly before finally focusing on the inflated Mormon again)

    FLASH
    How does he do it? Convince people like us to get involved in ridiculous projects like this?

    TIN PAN
    My wife is due to give birth any day now. I can’t believe he talked me into coming out here.

    SMALLY
    (shouting)
    Okay Becky, you can start filming now

    BECKY
    (shouting)
    How long for?

    SMALLY
    (shouting)
    Just a minute or so, see if you can get him floating towards the ship

    TIN PAN
    (mumbling)
    Tide’s going in the other direction

    BECKY
    (shouting)
    Alright.
    (to the others on the Main Deck)
    Do we have one of those clapper boards?
    (no response)
    We should really get one of those clapper boards. Can someone say “Action”?

    FLASH
    I’m just going to get something

    JONNY
    Where are you going?

    BECKY
    (quietly)
    Shhh, okay I’m filming now.

    (Behind the camera, there are loud CRUNCHES and dragging sounds as Flash wheels out the giant catapult).

    JONNY
    What are you doing?

    BECKY
    Shhh!

    (There is a loud BENDING sound of the catapult being pulled back and then an almighty TWANG, as FLASH fires a large chunk of squid out across the sea. The camera captures it as it crashes down on the inflated Mormon’s dinghy, capsizing it with a tremendous SPLASH)

    SMALLY
    (shouting)
    What the fuck was that?

    JONNY
    (laughing)
    Oh shit.

    FLASH
    Did I get it?

    JONNY
    Direct hit.

    SMALLY
    (agitated shouting)
    What happened? Did someone just throw something? Fuck! Where’s the Mormon gone?
    (SMALLY is rowing back into view)

    BECKY
    (giggling)
    I can’t believe you just did that Flash…
    (camera turns back to FLASH, TIN PAN, and JONNY all leaning on the side of the ship)

    TIN PAN
    Smally will be fucked off… for definite.

    FLASH
    It’s not my fault if it’s his imagination – I mean, I’m not responsible for my actions right?. Anyway, I just wanted to see what would happen if we deviated from the script a bit. No harm done.

    JONNY
    There’s a script? I never knew there was a script.

    SMALLY
    (shouting o/s)
    Fuck, I can’t find it! We need to find it and film it again – can anyone see it? Shit!

    TIN PAN
    I’m going to bed.

    JONNY
    Me too, I’m too drunk. Again. Where can I get the script?

    TIN PAN
    (pointing to camera)
    I better take my camera, do you know how to switch it off, just that button on the side there – yeah that one

    BECKY
    This one?

    (Screen goes black)

  3. INT. BUNKROOM 3 – LATE MORNING

    SMALLY’s hand is typing blisteringly fast with one finger on an old iron typewriter that lies on the floor in amongst discarded cigarette packets, empty rum bottles, a tennis racket, and some ruined cut-up chaps. The words appear on the page with the CLACK of the keys – “JOURNAL #10 – PRESENTING THE BEGINNINGS OF AN IMAGINARY FILM”, superimposed digital smoke is almost imperceptibly present as it types. The hand moves to the right and rolls the paper up. In the background THE RED PLASTIC BUDDHA’s “FORGET ME NOT” plays on a fuzzy transistor radio.

    There is an audible KNOCK on the door.

    SMALLY
    (off camera)
    Fuck

    JONNY
    (off camera)
    I’ll get it

    SMALLY
    Did you get that Becky?
    (the camera pans up to SMALLY, wearing a stripy hat, unlit cigarette in his mouth, in the background JONNY is jumping down from the top bunk and kicking through the debris on the floor to answer the door)

    BECKY
    I think so…

    (she turns the camera up to the door, JONNY has opened it and is looking out and downwards)

    JONNY
    It’s the pelican
    (there is a SQUAWK from out in the corridor)
    I think he’s trying to tell us something.

    SMALLY
    (sighing)
    There’s always something isn’t there?
    (gets to his feet, as does BECKY)

    Camera follows JONNY and SMALLY out into the corridor, the PELICAN padding ahead and hopping up the stairs.

    JONNY
    (barely audible)
    I wonder what pelican tastes like?

    Camera cuts as they begin to climb the steps heading upwards towards the upper deck.

    EXT. MAIN DECK – LATE MORNING

    Bright sunshine, blue skies. SMALLY is standing in on the MAIN DECK directly in front of the COMMUNICATIONS ROOM in heated conversation with LAURELIA LYNCH a middle-aged woman in a business suit, briefcase at her feet. Slightly behind them are another woman with her hands on the shoulders of an eleven year old boy – OLIVE and BYRON FAGAN. Further round are ALLAN DOUGLAS and WILL CARPENTER, both with travel bags over their shoulders, shaking hands with JONNY, smiling.

    SMALLY
    I don’t care who gave you permission to get on the helicopter. I mean, surely there must be some kind of protocol for this sort of thing? You can’t just board a ship and expect to carry out some kind of on the spot assessment. The Mardi’s only been refurbished for a couple of months… I’m sure the shipbuilder’s in Jacksonville filed the necessary paperwork at the time…

    LAURELIA
    (attempting to interject)
    Mr Small?

    SMALLY
    We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on her. I’m not trying to hide anything, it’s just that surely you need to arrange a convenient time for us to reach some erm, mutual agreement about you carrying out an inspection.

    LAURELIA
    Mr Small, we wrote to you three times.

    SMALLY
    Eh? You did? Well I certainly didn’t receive any letters.

    JONNY
    Letters? Oh shit.

    LAURELIA
    It’s standard practise for the Captain of a Cruise Ship to file the appropriate forms at the port they depart from to ensure that the American Coastguard can carry out a thorough examination of the vessel – firstly, to ensure it complies with Health and Safety regulations, and secondly to ratify that the necessary licenses are held, taxation paid etc.

    SMALLY
    (laughing incredulous)
    Cruise ship?

    JONNY
    Smally, remember I signed for a sack of letters last week and you told me to give them to the Communications Team? Well, I um… let’s just say I never got round to it. Sorry about that.

    SMALLY
    (lights the cigarette he has been keeping behind his ear)
    Well for a start Miss…

    LAURELIA
    Lynch

    SMALLY
    Well for a start Miss Lynch, let’s get one thing straight – I’m not the Captain of this ship.

    LAURELIA
    (sceptical)
    You’re not the Captain?

    SMALLY
    No. This is a Communistic ship. There’s no captain.

    LAURELIA
    But you bought it? I have copies of the registration application and it’s your signature on the forms.

    SMALLY
    Technically no. That was my lawyer who filled those out for me and he may have forged my signature, though he’s not here to defend himself I’d be happy to give you his telephone number. Or email address. I even have several of his records that I’d be happy to burn and –

    OLIVE
    Um excuse me, do you have toilet facilities here?

    SMALLY
    Who are you?

    OLIVE
    I’m Byron’s mother, Olive.

    SMALLY
    (stumped)
    I’m sorry, Byron who exactly?

    OLIVE
    Byron Fagan
    (she pushes the boy forward gently)
    The winner of your competition to create a replica of your ship. He’s brought it with him. Byron honey, show the man…

    On the surface the boy looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, but when he smiles it is more of a sneer hinting at trouble. He holds up a badly cobbled together plasticine model of The Mardi that sits in the palm of one hand.

    OLIVE CONTD.
    He’s obsessed you know. Flower Company this, Flower Company that. You can’t imagine how much it meant to him when you chose his entry as the winner – though it’s no surprise as the artistic gene definitely runs down my side of the family. His Grandfather was a gifted dancer, and I’m something of an amateur musician myself, classically trained –

    LAURELIA
    I’m sorry to interrupt Madam, but I don’t have a great deal of time and I’m eager to get started, take a look around the ship.

    SMALLY
    (kneeling down to get a closer look at the plasticine Mardi in wonder)
    You made this? On your own?

    BYRON
    Uh-huh

    SMALLY
    It’s… it’s… I’m lost for words here.

    BECKY
    It’s very abstract.

    OLIVE
    Yes, to be honest we still can’t quite believe that Byron won the fifty thousand pound prize money, and the two week stay on the ship. You could almost say that he’s more excited about being part of “The Company”
    (she demonstrates with two fingered quotation marks)
    than he is about the fifty thousand.

    BYRON
    (grinning, looks directly into camera)
    I’m very excited

    JONNY
    (virtually inaudible)
    Are these people actors?

    SMALLY
    Fifty thousand pounds? I don’t…

    ALLAN
    Hey Smally, we’ll just dump our stuff somewhere and catch up with you in a bit.

    BECKY
    The dormitory’s empty, you can leave your bags in there for now.

    SMALLY
    Huh? Oh okay man.

    JONNY
    I’ll show you where it is.

    (ALLAN, WILL, and JONNY walk off screen, WILL can be vaguely heard saying “Where’d you guys get the cool uniforms?” referring to the green shirts and navy blue trousers that most of the Company members wear)

    SMALLY
    Look, I’m sorry but I think there’s been some kind of mistake. I – well, the truth is that there’s no fifty thousand. Actually I don’t even know what you’re talking about with this competition. Though the model certainly is… well…

    OLIVE
    (oblivious)
    Byron honey, do you have the copy of the email?

    Byron gives OLIVE the model Mardi and reaches into his back pocket, pulls out a printed email that he unfolds and hands to SMALLY.

    LAURELIA
    (impatiently)
    Mr Small…

    SMALLY
    (scanning the email)
    One minute…
    (muttering)
    From the “Communications Team”…
    (completely confused)

    OLIVE
    (indicating the model)
    Would you like to put this somewhere safe?

    SMALLY
    (re-reading)
    Holy shit
    (realises the boy is standing there)
    Sorry – I mean… I really don’t remember any of this…

    BECKY
    What does it say?

    SMALLY
    (Holding paper up to the camera, words are not visible)
    Dictated by Smallyom and transcribed by the Communications Team – pretty much says exactly what they’re saying. I still don’t remember any of this
    (looks lost)

    BYRON tugs on his Mum’s sleeve.

    OLIVE
    Um, Mr Smally – bathroom facilities?

    SMALLY
    (dazed, still looking at letter)
    Huh?
    (points to ladder leading down from the Main Deck)
    Bottom of the steps, at the back of the ship. I… shit… sorry. I think something is coming back to me.

    OLIVE and BYRON move off-screen

    BECKY
    You’re remembering something? We should totally film some kind of flash back sequence if you are.

    Camera rests on LAURELIA glaring at SMALLY, arms folded

    SMALLY
    I’m not the captain.

    LAURELIA
    You are.

    SMALLY
    I’m not
    (pauses)
    Actually it was Becky’s idea to move the old forum.
    (BECKY laughs)
    I’m really just the ship’s janitor.

    (Silence)

    SMALLY CONTD.
    You’ll be wanting to see around the ship then?

    LAURELIA
    (picking up her briefcase)
    That’s correct.

    BECKY
    Oh we should like show her the film footage from yesterday – the introduction.

    SMALLY
    I really am starting to remember.
    (hand rubbing his neck)
    Oh fuck…

    (camera fades out)

  4. IN THE SEA, BELOW THE MARDI – SHORTLY THEREAFTER/SIMULTANEOUSLY

    Two fish are talking as the MARDI glides overhead. They are marionettes. The second of the two has a slightly ptotic eye.

    Even as the ship is passing, the camera tilts down from the hull to squarely frame the animals floating largely motionless in the opalescent water, the expanse of which duskily recedes into reaches impenetrable by the device.

    They don’t do much at all for a while, except sway.

    FISH
    I still can’t understand your capacity towards indifference.

    FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE
    Oh, here we go again…

    FISH
    A perfectly decent calamari dinner, provided free of charge, might I add, and you turn up your smug snout at it. Shocking!

    FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE
    (defensively) You tell me you’d eat decaying squid, huh? It was disgusting!

    FISH
    You inflated wastrel! Why, this – the bleakest ocean for leagues, and you leave a practical feast to the deep-sea boogyfish and hobos!

    FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE
    As if they didn’t need a bite every now and then! They mostly eat dead algae and stuff, right?

    FISH
    (sheepishly) Well… I never really thought about it before.

    FISH’s ACQUAINTANCE
    (capitalizing on the potential to change the course of the conversation) Of course, every fellow, be he finned or not, needs a bit of supper. Sure. (pause) Surely! And whether you’re riding the arcuation of the sweet, full current or wasting away in some desolate bilge-bath, like us; you’ve simply got to eat!

    (modest silence of thoughtfulness.)

    Combustion! (short pause.) Yes, I DO say. Combustion!

    FISH
    Don’t. I live in fear of man-made machines.

    FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE
    Fire is Promethian, you dunce.

    FISH
    Shut up.

    FISH’S ACQUAINTANCE
    No, you shut up.

    IMMEDIATE CUT.

  5. INT. COMMUNICATIONS ROOM – SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING

    WARCHALKING is sitting at one of the two computers, propped up on one elbow barely able to see straight, drinking rum from a bottle. In the foreground, SMALLY is standing in the middle of the room, unsteady on his feet, eyeing the silhouette of a puppet fish strung up from the light, that he has just spun with his fingers. Across the bottom of the screen appears the words FLASH BACK SEQUENCE TO BE INSERTED AT THE APPROPRIATE JUNCTURE

    WARCHALKING
    (drunk)
    So… it’s a competition you say? I like it. There should be prize money or something.

    SMALLY
    Yep (hic) prize money. How much have we got left in the bank? TALK YOU FUCKER!

    WARCHALKING
    Wassat?

    SMALLY
    Not you Kris, I was talking to the fish.

    WARCHALKING
    (sifting through paperwork that lies on the desk beside the computer, locates a bank statement)
    You’re actually beginning to frighten me… did I just say that out loud? Ah, here we go.
    (while reading bank statement he slowly slides off the chair and crash lands on the floor so that he is off-screen)
    Forty eight thousand, five hundr – shit, I can barely read this.

    SMALLY
    Let’s just round it up to fifty thousand (hic) and throw in um two weeks on the ship as well. Anyone who can make a decent model of The Mardi will be a welcome addition to the crew.

    WARCHALKING’s hand appears in the background reaching up from the floor to type on the keyboard.

    SMALLY CONTD.
    These fish are fucking quixodelic.

    The hand continues to type for a few seconds, the reflection of the fish flickering in the pupils of SMALLY’s eyes. Suddenly a paper lightbulb is lowered on white thread above his head and spins there like the fish, signifying an idea – the paper bulb emits a feint digital glow. SMALLY reaches for the phone on the wall and drunkenly dials a number, pulls a roll-up from his shirt pocket and lights it.

    SMALLY CONTD.
    Put me through to the Koradji Corporation please.
    (Smokes while the line is ringing)
    Is that the Koradji Corporation? (hic)
    (pause)
    Um, Mr Koradji please. If such a person exists.
    (pause)
    Well, uh… just tell him it’s Stinky Pink. It’s about the Mrs Pelican. I mean missing pelican. Thank you.
    (pause)
    Thanks (hic) Fucking hiccups.

    The screen splits in half, SMALLY to the left and SONNY ONO to the right. SONNY is in actual fact BECKY N in disguise with shades and a business suit (this is blatantly obvious), hand that holds the phone is heavily bandaged. The smoke from SMALLY’s half of the screen occasionally trails across the screen from the left hand side to the right.

    SONNY
    Hello?

    SMALLY
    Mr Koradji?

    SONNY
    No, this is Sonny Ono, Chief of Operations at the Koradji Corporation. Who am I speaking to?

    SMALLY
    (hic) This is um Stinky Pink of The Utica Flower Company. I’m calling about the pelican.

    SONNY
    You mean Pinky Stink?

    SMALLY
    Yesss… that’s what I said. About the pelican. I need to speak to Mr Koradji… the boss you know, I’ve got something of a business proposition for him.

    SONNY
    (suddenly sinister)
    Firstly, I know you’re not who you say you are. Secondly at this very moment we are tracing your call and will be kicking your door down in a matter of minutes. You fuckers messed with the wrong people. We’ve been searching for the missing pelican ever since your little friend Pinky made a remarkable escape – fuck knows how he did it, but there you go. Do you have any idea how much shit you are in right now?

    SMALLY
    Seriously? A matter of minutes?
    (looks anxiously over his shoulder)
    Okay, well then whoever you are, let me say this. That pelican has been attached to my legs like a limpet for weeks and I’m thinking it’s not going to be too difficult to find him before you do. And when I do, I’m going to pluck him and cook him and stuff him… or stuff him, then cook him… I don’t know, I haven’t thought this through. I’ll wake our chef and ask him which you do first – or second – I know the plucking comes first… well, technically second after KILLING him. Our chef’s a vegetarian mind you, he might not know. Anyway, that’s beside the point – I’ve got your attention now haven’t I?

    SONNY
    (angry, but note of panic in his voice)
    You harm a feather on that bird and you will pay with your life and the lives on every limb on your family tree…

    SMALLY
    Or I could put the pelican on a helicopter and have him back with you in a few hours?

    SONNY
    What do you want?

    SMALLY
    Firstly, corporate sponsorship. Eight hundred and fifty thousand pounds to be exact.

    SONNY
    (laughing)
    Sponsorship? Mr Koradji wouldn’t even throw you the change from his pocket.

    SMALLY
    Well that’s a fucking shame (hic) – I actually was growing to like that bloody bird.
    (looks away from the phone)
    Hey, someone bring me the pelican! It’s burgers for tea tonight.

    SONNY
    (a long pause)
    Five hundred thousand pounds provided the pelican is back with us this time tomorrow. And I want the real Pinky Stink handed over. We have unfinished business.

    SMALLY
    You want me to hand over Stinky and the pelican for five hundred thousand pounds?
    (thinking)

    A sudden FLASH across the screen of BOBBY in the kitchen looking up over the top of the biggest burger in the world, smiling sweetly.

    SMALLY CONTD.
    You can have the pelican, but you can’t have Stinky. Not yet anyway because without him it’s just mash and rum. We’ll hand him over on the 1st of May 2010, but no sooner than that.

    SONNY
    (thinking)
    You have a deal.

    SMALLY
    And I still want eight hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

    SONNY
    Six hundred thousand – that’s my final offer.

    SMALLY
    For eight hundred and fifty thousand, I’ll have the pelican back to you in 24 hours, Stinky gift-wrapped and delivered on 1st of May 2010, I’ll paint the Koradji Corporation logo on our ship’s main sail, and I’ll give you 40% rights on the film we’re making. I’ll even throw in some um animal stickers.

    SONNY
    What kind of film?

    SMALLY
    Soft porn

    SONNY
    That won’t fit well with Mr Koradji – his first wife… it’s… a touchy subject.

    SMALLY
    I’m joking (hic) – fuck these hiccups! – It’s a psychedelic disaster movie on a ship.

    SONNY
    Like “A Life Aquatic”? I love that film.

    SMALLY
    No, nothing like that film. It’s completely different.

    SONNY
    You don’t wear red hats?

    SMALLY
    No, skull masks. Look, is that a deal or not? Because if it’s not then I’m serving that pelican on burgers with a side order of fries in the next five minutes.

    SONNY
    You have a deal.

    SMALLY
    Good. Well, my people will um contact your people and we’ll you know, do the necessary. And don’t go doing any funny business. I’ll have someone twenty four seven in our crow’s nest looking out, and at the slightest sniff of trouble the pelican gets it.
    (he puts the phone down and returns to full screen)
    Blackmail definitely gets easier the more you try it.

    WARCHALKING
    (o/s)
    Smally?

    SMALLY
    Ah, you’re still alive

    WARCHALKING
    (pulling himself back up into the seat)
    I’m very, very drunk so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m missing something here, but this just isn’t making sense.

    SMALLY
    Tell me something I don’t know already

    WARCHALKING
    I mean, completely separate from the fact you’ve just sold out on one of the most essential cogs in the Flower Company wheel or that there’s no guarantee they won’t come after us once you’ve sent the pelican back…

    SMALLY
    Bobby? Ah man, don’t worry about that, obviously I can’t say too much on camera, but we’ll blow up that bridge in style as and when. As for the retribution, don’t worry about that either, my lawyer knows what he’s doing, and I’ve got a trick up my sleeves.

    WARCHALKING
    Yeah, but it’s worse than that. I’ve got this horrible feeling, like I’m reading a book only there’s pages missing, maybe even a couple of chapters…

    SMALLY
    (laughing)
    I know exactly what you mean man

    WARCHALKING
    Who were you talking to on the phone? What the fuck is going on? Do I even want to know? And why am I looking after this tennis racket for you?
    (he holds up a tennis racket)
    Why am I even asking you all this?

    SMALLY
    (grinning impishly)
    Ah Kris, savour this, it’ll blow you away.
    (raises voice)
    You can come out now.

    The FILM STUDIO door opens at the back of the COMMUNICATIONS ROOM and in walk WARCHALKING 2, WARCHALKING 3, SMALLY 2, SMALLY 3, SIMON PILER and three identical PELICANS. All of the characters are virtually identical to their actual selves, although SMALLY 2 is wearing a snazzy thinking cap, polka dot ribbons around his wrists, chaps superglued to his jeans, and he appears to be out of his head on hallucinogenic ice cream.

    WARCHALKING
    Oh no, you didn’t…

    SMALLY
    (to the PELICANS)
    Sorry about the whole burger thing back there

    The three PELICANS squawk in unison

    SMALLY CONTD.
    Just um, fleshing out the thingymagig so to speak.

    WARCHALKING 2
    (to WARCHALKING)
    Kris… don’t even ask. Do what you do best at times like this – just keep drinking. And pour me one while you’re at it.
    (to SMALLY)
    Sounds like our rescue plan worked then?

    SMALLY
    Yeah, I think so. But I’m still pished so I don’t think we’re really going to know know until tomorrow.

    SMALLY 3
    Folks, I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but I think we should seriously think about going back now before we fuck everything up forever.

    WARCHALKING
    Oh shit, you guys used the time machine didn’t you? I mean WE used the time machine didn’t we?

    WARCHALKING 2
    We did.

    WARCHALKING
    Did we even think this through properly before we did it?

    SMALLY 2
    (randomly)
    Everything looks like it is made out of fruit. Oh – where did that fucking fish come from?

    WARCHALKING 2
    Truthfully, no we didn’t put a great deal of thought into it. It was more of an impulse thing. Well, the first time it was.

    WARCHALKING
    The first time?

    WARCHALKING 2
    We were way out – that machine’s not nearly as straightforward as the instruction manual makes it out to be. I’m going to write to the manufacturers. Actually, how about I do everyone a favour and write something up now instead of you finishing that ridiculous competition letter you’re both drafting. The first time we jumped back we got our hours and seconds mixed up, ended up meeting ourselves on our way to the time machine. We had to bring ourselves back to here in an effort to keep it from getting out of control. Which of course it already is. But you know – even more out of control.

    SMALLY 3
    Imagine if we’d missed you – taken a different route back to the Communications Room – we could have been repeating this infinitely couldn’t we? Imagine that? Man, that was something wasn’t it? Totally freaked me out when I first saw you all walking back down the corridor towards us. I wish we’d filmed that but I wouldn’t like to even attempt to recreate it. Fuck, just think.

    SMALLY 2
    There’s just no telling some people. What’s for breakfast? Who the fuck are all these people – pelican! Write that down.
    (checks his watch)
    Twelve something something… who the fuck are these people? Pelican?
    (in the background a PELICAN is scratching with a pen in a notebook)

    SMALLY
    Fuck that, there’s quite enough of us as it is. From now on we only use the time machine in emergency situations.
    (all three SMALLY’s hiccup in unison)
    Man, that was weird.

    SIMON
    I concur with Smally about us going back – or rather forward immediately. There is no doubt that even by being here and having this conversation we are jeopardising the future of the universe as we know it – or rather, knew it. Smally, before we forget you need to give Kris the envelope with instructions concerning the three pelicans – which are of course the same pelican from three different time frames coinciding in one single frame. The envelope thing must be important as it’s written on the back of my hand.

    SMALLY and SMALLY 3 both go to hand WARCHALKING an envelope marked A LETTER TO WARCHALKING, everyone laughs.

    SMALLY
    I’ll keep this one for good luck.
    (puts envelope back in his pocket)

    WARCHALKING 3
    I concur with Simon, let’s just give me the envelope and get out of here.

    SIMON
    (laughing – waving into the camera)
    Curiously I somehow expected that I – being me – would know exactly what the past me would be thinking, like there should be some telepathic channel between the variations of myself, but this does not appear to be the case.

    WARCHALKING
    (as SMALLY 3 hands him the envelope)
    But wait a minute…

    SIMON
    No buts if you please. Time is of the essence and atoms are fragile things. Imagine you’ve just ripped open the very fabric of the cosmos with your teeth to penetrate the inner bond that holds it altogether – namely time. The longer we leave it, the more likely that we will start losing it.

    WARCHALKING 3
    Not to mention the strain it will take on our already fragile and certainly in my case fucking drunk minds.

    SIMON
    Precisely

    SMALLY 3
    Shit, look at the state I’m in
    (pointing to SMALLY 2, now eyeballing the two puppet fish)
    No wonder I couldn’t remember anything about tonight

    SMALLY 2
    These fish are fucking quixodelic.

    SIMON 2
    (from behind camera)
    And CUT! That’s a wrap guys. I think we’re really pushing the boundaries beyond the limit where anyone would be able to comprehend what was happening, never mind be interested. As an aside, I too am somewhat disappointed that a telepathic channel between my two selves does not exist.

    SMALLY
    Good job everyone. Let’s go.

    Everyone with the exception of WARCHALKING, SMALLY 2 and the three PELICANS begin to move towards the door. SIMON 2 lifts the camera from the tripod and is about to switch it off.

    WARCHALKING
    Wait!
    (everyone stops)
    There’s just one thing I’d love to do before you – we do what we’re about to do.

    The camera cuts and fades back in. WARCHALKING and WARCHALKING 2 are sitting in the chairs with guitars, WARCHALKING 3 is playing a tennis racket sitting on the desk , SMALLY, and SMALLY 3 are sitting on the floor. SIMON and the PELICANS stand off to one side and SMALLY 2 is lying flat on his back across the other desk. The three WARCHALKING’s and two SMALLY’s begin to play KALEIDONAUTS “LET’S START A COUNTRY”, harmonising the parts. The camera fades out at the closing notes.

  6. INT. THE CORRIDOR OUTSIDE SICK BAY – LATE AFTERNOON

    Camera framed on close up of the medical cross on the SICK BAY door. Someone has scribbled in permanent marker pen “DANGER – SERIOUSLY SERIOUS DRUGS” to one side of it, and beneath that scratched with a screw are the words “BADDEST FASTEST”.

    INT. SICK BAY – LATE AFTERNOON

    JONNY lies in the hammock, strumming a guitar, searching for a melody. SMALLY is propped up on what appears to be a psychiatric couch, rolling up. ACTING FLASH sits at a desk to one side wearing a white coat with psychedelic flowers stencilled onto it, and a stethoscope hanging round his neck.

    FLASH
    So how long have you been feeling like this?

    SMALLY
    (blows)
    Difficult to say. Since we left Jacksonville if I’m being honest. Maybe even earlier.

    FLASH
    I see. And the feeling is getting worse?

    SMALLY
    Yeah, much worse.

    FLASH
    (nodding at the roll-up)
    You really should cut down on those. Every scene you’re smoking.

    SMALLY
    Really? Fuck I never noticed.
    (tucks the roll-up reluctantly behind his ear)

    FLASH
    Okay, back to this feeling – what do you think it is?

    SMALLY
    I don’t know. That’s why I’m here.

    FLASH
    Is it loneliness?

    SMALLY
    Nope.

    FLASH
    Boredom?

    SMALLY
    No, not that.

    FLASH
    (thinking)
    Does it begin with the letter “P”?

    SMALLY
    (confused)
    What?

    FLASH
    The letter “P” – does the feeling begin with the letter “P”?

    SMALLY
    I don’t know. The only feeling I can think that begins with “P” is panic. And paranoia.

    FLASH
    Is it panic?

    SMALLY
    No.

    FLASH
    Paranoia?

    SMALLY
    I don’t think so.

    FLASH
    (sighs)
    Smally, it’s difficult to diagnose you and prescribe anything if you can’t tell me what the symptoms are.

    SMALLY
    Could you not just guess?

    FLASH
    Well I could, but I don’t know how helpful that would be.

    SMALLY
    Okay.

    FLASH
    (sighs again)
    Alright, I’m guessing it’s insomnia.

    SMALLY
    That doesn’t begin with a “P”.

    FLASH
    (grins)
    True. So this feeling does begin with a “P” then?

    SMALLY shrugs his shoulders and puts the roll-up absent-mindedly in his mouth.

    FLASH CONTD.
    So it’s not insomnia –

    SMALLY
    No I don’t think so. The insomnia’s like a by-product of it. But it’s not it.

    FLASH
    Alright. Well, how about we start at the beginning again?

    SMALLY
    Okay. From the VERY beginning?

    FLASH
    No, just from when the feeling started.

    SMALLY
    Okay. I guess it started a couple of days ago, when that woman appeared.

    FLASH
    The Health and Safety woman from the Coastguard?

    SMALLY
    Yeah, her.

    FLASH
    Go on…

    SMALLY closes his eyes, and as he does, the camera fades down to black like eyelids closing over the screen.

    INT. FILM STUDIO – THE MARDI – LATE MORNING

    The FILM STUDIO is lit up only by the light from the large projector screen on the left hand wall. There are eight chairs in total. In the front row sits SIMON PILER and THE ATOM BAND (still wearing various coloured jumpsuits – they whisper and laugh quietly amongst themselves). In the back row closest to the door are SMALLY and LAURELIA LYNCH, the remaining two seats empty. BECKY N stands at the front directly in front of the screen, her shadow imprinted on the white glowing background. TIN PAN in neck brace sits at a desk at the back of the room with headphones on, clicking through stills on a small laptop, spliced reels cluttering the surface. LAURELIA fidgets impatiently in her seat, opening and closing her briefcase, glancing at her watch, while SMALLY slumps down, almost horizontal, hands in pockets, staring at the ceiling.

    BECKY N
    (clears her throat)
    Ladies and gentlemen, The Utica Flower Company is proud to present –

    The FILM STUDIO door kicks opens and BOBBY enters in a gleaming white chef’s uniform with a psychedelic flower apron, clutching a tray laden with bowls of popcorn.

    BOBBY
    Popcorn! Popcorn! Who wants the popcorn!
    (realises that he has interrupted BECKY)
    Shit, sorry Becky.

    SIMON
    Ooh popcorn!

    The ATOM BAND lift a couple of bowls, LAURELIA barely acknowledges BOBBY’s existence and SMALLY continues to look at the ceiling.

    BOBBY
    (moving with tray still full of bowls down the back row, spilling popcorn onto LAURELIA, pieces land in her hair and lap as she bats at them like they are flies)
    Look out, coming through, coming through.
    (to himself)
    Guess I overdid the popcorn. And the amphetamines.

    LAURELIA jerks at the word “amphetamines” and stares wildly at BOBBY as if trying to work out whether she actually heard this correctly or not.

    BECKY
    Put some on my chair Bobby.

    BOBBY sits down beside SMALLY in the back row, puts a bowl on the eighth empty chair beside him, and hands another bowl back to TIN PAN (uncomfortably turning round in neck brace) with a wordless thumbs up.

    BECKY CONTD.
    (speaking over the hubbub of popcorn excitement)
    Okay, let’s start again. Everyone ready?

    SIMON
    (with a mouthful of popcorn)
    Ready when you are.

    BOBBY hands SMALLY a bowl of popcorn, he sits forward and mechanically feeds a handful into his mouth, chews lifelessly.

    BECKY
    Ladies and gentlemen, The Utica Flower Company is proud to present “An Introduction To An Imaginary Film”. Alright Tin Pan.

    TIN PAN clicks a mouse as BECKY ducks round to her seat in the back row. The projector (still showing signs of fire damage) begins to whir and a colourful picture beams up onto the screen of THE MARDI sailing in the sun. It is almost technicolour in appearance with the popping fizz of old film like it has been shot in the 1960s. FIG MINTS (OF YOUR IMAGINATION) “UNDEAD IDEA MINES” begins to play – it is an extended and mainly instrumental version. The camera pans in and the picture on the screen becomes the full picture we are seeing.

    SMALLY
    (narrating)
    In early 2009 I had an idea that became a daydream that eventually turned into reality. To this day I don’t know where it came from. The idea was to gather the various members of our musical collective – The Utica Flower Company – from all the strange corners and secret basements of the globe and sail on a big old wooden ship right around the world.

    Camera cuts to JACKSONVILLE HARBOUR – EARLY MORNING – Several of the crew can be seen bleary eyed, laughing, smoking, boarding the ship with bags slung over their shoulders – among them BECKY, BOBBY, SMALLY, SIMON, THE ATOM BAND, WARCHALKING, FROGVILLE, FLASH, JONNY, SYD, MONOMIKE, SUCKSTOLALALAND. As fifteen pelicans begin to troop up the wooden ramp leading to the ship, the camera pans down and zooms in on the words “THE MARDI” on the side of the boat.

    SMALLY CONTD.
    (narrating)
    We set sail on the 1st of May 2009 from Jacksonville in the USA. This is The Mardi. To cut a long story short, I borrowed a lot of money and sold some book and film rights to fund it. She’s a 70ft brig, French in origin and renovated to suit the needs of the musicians, writers, artists, daydreamers and urchins that make up the crew. None of us know anything about sailing.

    Camera cuts to MAIN DECK, BOBBY, WARCHALKING and BECKY are standing on the rail waving and laughing at a small shipping vessel that is clearly veering off course to avoid a collision with The Mardi as it leaves the port. Two middle-aged fishermen are standing on deck shaking their fists and hurling obscenities that we can’t hear over the music. The morning sun bathes everything in beautiful gold.

    SMALLY CONTD.
    (narrating)
    Here, let’s show you around.

    Camera switches to back of ship, two large wooden hatch doors are open with a small set of wooden steps leading down to STORAGE. SIMON PILER is at the bottom of the steps with a clipboard, pen behind his ear. He is surrounded with stuff.

    SIMON
    Storage – here’s where we keep everything. From dog biscuits to chainsaws, frog call identification tapes, to essential screnches
    (unhooks scrench from his belt and holds it up to the camera smiling)
    We’ve got a lot of stuff!

    Camera cuts to the corridor outside the RECORDING STUDIO. On the door are the words “RECORDING IN PROGRESS”. ECHOES22 is picking what appears to be a tiny bit of brain from his left ear and examines it on his fingertip before looking up into the camera.

    ECHOES22
    Hey.
    (Wipes brain on his trouser leg and points at the door)
    Recording studio. It’s not state of the art, but it’ll do. Syd’s in there. Sounds totally cool.

    Camera cuts to inside of the QUIXODELIC RECORD STORE. Over ECHOES22’s shoulder the room is in complete disarray. On a desk in the corner sits stacks of CDs, cassettes and vinyl in no order. The rest of the room looks like it has been abandoned mid-renovation, splintered wood, boxes of nails, polythene taped across the porthole, wood shavings, a couple of empty rum bottles.

    ECHOES22
    Um, this is the Mobile Quixodelic Record Store… wow. I’ve not been in here for a while. It looks pretty fucked up.
    (turns to the camera)
    There’s some great music though.
    (walks across the room rummages around on the desk picks up a disk with an orange cover)
    Check this one out if you get a chance…
    (holds disk up to the camera)
    The Orange Album. Psychedelic rock man.
    (camera lingers on him grinning until he blinks)

    Camera cuts to the BRIDGE. SMALLY sits behind the wheel with his feet up on it, smoking, journal in his lap, pen in his hand. He wears a white t-shirt that says “I AM NOT YOUR CAPTAIN”. In the background a big map of the world hangs on the wall, with coloured pins charting the ship’s progress. Several machines hum and blink along the wall – satellite navigation, a record player and computer controlling the music that is played throughout the ship on communal wall-mounted speakers. FIG MINTS “EXERCISES IN FUTILITY” on vinyl is clearly visible.

    SMALLY
    This is the Bridge.
    (points to the big wooden wheel)
    That’s the wheel. It doesn’t seem to work. Somebody stole the ship compass too.
    (grins)

    Camera cuts to the COMMUNICATIONS ROOM. WARCHALKING crouches in the foreground, repairing a punctured tyre on his bicycle. In the background are the two supercomputers labelled SAM (left facing) and NIKO (right facing). SYD sits at one typing, MONOMIKE sits at the other surfing. To the right, BECKY is talking on the wall-mounted telephone with her back turned to the camera.

    WARCHALKING
    (concentrating on bike)
    This here’s the hub of intelligence, our Communications Room – where we contact the outside world and foolishly hope that someday someone somewhere will be interested in what we’re doing.

    SMALLY (o/s)
    What are we doing?

    WARCHALKING
    (looks up and into the camera)
    Fuck knows. If we did we probably wouldn’t be doing it.

    Camera cuts to FILM STUDIO. As described above, except it is empty. BECKY sits at the back where TIN PAN is currently sitting, headphones around neck, a still image of a chunk of squid hitting a floating inflatable Mormon on the surface of the sea on the screen.

    BECKY
    (turning to look at camera)
    Our film studio and cute fucking cinema all rolled into one. We’re making an imaginary film. You’re probably imagining it.

    Camera cuts to ART GALLERY, the small room is stacked full of paintings and photographs, mostly abstract and almost all of them various sizes of rectangle. Suddenly SIMON PILER’s head appears in the middle of the room (he has been crouching behind some canvases) – he is wearing the ship’s snazzy thinking cap and is brushing his teeth. He holds up a sign that says “ART GALLERY” with cartoon flowers around it.

    SIMON
    (with a mouthful of toothpaste)
    I count one hundred and seven. But it might be one hundred and six.

    At this he looks around and THE ATOM BAND also emerge from behind canvases all around the room. They too are brushing their teeth. All of them wear shades and carry calculators, an abacus, and torches.

    The camera cuts again to the COMPANY BOARDROOM. An enclosed square room with no windows, comfortable leather seats (ten in total) U-shaped around a solid oak table. On the wall at the back of the room is a drinks cabinet stocked up with an assortment of rum, and boxes of sticking plasters. In the seats are (in an anti-clockwise direction) JONNY fast asleep on his arms leaning on the table, BECKY biting her fingernails, BOBBY pouring himself a drink of rum, SMALLY sitting with his feet up on the edge of the table, and SIMON turning round to face the camera.

    SIMON
    The Utica Flower Company boardroom. You’re very lucky to be seeing this – some strange decisions are made here.
    (stands up and puts his hand over the camera lens)

    Camera cuts to SMALLY walking slowly down the upper deck corridor.

    SMALLY
    (Pointing to doors either side of him)
    Two washrooms. We actually survived for over a month without these.

    He continues on past the six CABINS on the middle floor of the ship.

    SMALLY
    We have a range of living quarters on the ship. Six single cabins on this floor and eight bunkrooms directly beneath us. We also have a dormitory that sleeps up to four people that used to be a Production Suite until I took my scrench to it. So all in all that’s room for…
    (counting in his head, starts to use his fingers, muttering)
    six and eight times two that’s twenty two plus the four and the hammock in Sick Bay – that’s room for up to twenty seven Company members

    BECKY
    (from behind camera)
    How many crew members do we actually have Smally?

    SMALLY
    (looks blankly into the camera)
    Somewhere between seven and twenty. People come and go. Fuck knows where. Possibly scurvy.
    (stops outside CABIN 5)
    Let’s have a look inside your not so typical cabin.

    Camera pans round as SMALLY tries the door handle – CABIN 5 is locked. From behind it there are muffled sounds of what sounds like a circus being fed through a random distortion box. SMALLY knocks on the door and waits. A few seconds later it opens a little way and SIMON PILER put his head round – he is wearing a balaclava and swimming goggles, with war paint carefully marked on his cheeks. As he opens the door, the noise from behind him engulfs the corridor – a cacophony of folk instruments, animal sounds, a chainsaw, bells, traffic, running water, hysterical laughter, someone shouting “OH YEAH!” and so on. Smoke drifts around SIMON’s head into the corridor.

    SIMON
    (clocks the camera and lifts his goggles up onto his head so as he can see better – the goggles look like they have been on too tight leaving ring marks around his eyes)
    Aha! How goes it?

    SMALLY
    We’re still doing the imaginary film intro.

    SIMON
    Yes, definitely.
    (to somebody behind him)
    Give me a second… well hold it down and don’t let any of the bubbles escape – we’ll need them to light the way.
    (to SMALLY)
    Sorry, kind of reaching critical mass here, so to speak.

    The unmistakeable sound of an elephant blaring its trumpet trunk rips out from behind SIMON, followed by an incredible squelching, bursting sound and someone shouts “HOLY SHIT! YOU SHOULD SEE THE SIZE OF THIS EGG!”

    SMALLY
    We’ll come back later.

    SIMON
    Yes please, most definitely do.
    (turning to the room, putting his goggles back on and shutting the door behind him)
    Is it actually human?

    SMALLY
    (turns to camera)
    Thankfully Cabin 5’s not your prototypical cabin.

    Camera cuts to the RECREATION ROOM. A ping pong table fills up most of the room, and an old broken arcade machine stands gathering dust in the corner. A table tennis bat lies on each side of the table. The camera slowly pans in to a ping pong ball floating in space above the table at the far end of the room.

    SMALLY
    This is the Recreation Room.
    (looks at the floating ping pong ball for a moment)
    I know. We still don’t understand it ourselves yet. Hang on…
    (reaches down under the table pulls out a plastic badly damaged yellow elephant shaped watering can)
    This is what we play for – the Elephant Teapot. I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking it’s a watering can, right?
    (grins)
    Okay, next room.

    Camera cuts to the KITCHEN. A PELICAN has just crapped all over one of the work surfaces and BOBBY (in chef’s uniform) is chasing it around the room trying to catch it. The PELICAN squawks frantically. The surfaces are cluttered with the ingredients for a vegetarian bake. In the background a half eaten enormous burger (approximately 3ft x 3ft) lies abandoned on a prep table.

    BOBBY
    Come here! Fuck! How many times have I told you not to shit in the kitchen you stupid bird?

    Across the foot of the screen superimposed text reads “37 TIMES”.

    Camera pans round to the FREEZER door, taped closed with an assortment of animal stickers on it reads “ON IN E”, dropped off stickers are barely visible trampled into the floor. SIMON PILER walks into view, picking up a banana from a fruit bowl and peeling it as he talks.

    SIMON
    This is the company freezer. There’s not time unfortunately to recount to you in full what happened here and why it is out of bounds, let’s just say there was an outbreak of hallucinogenic ice cream that formed something of a nebula, seeped into adjoining rooms, caused several of the crew to mass hallucinate that we’d travelled back in time to the Summer of Love, and other unspeakable incidents that I’ll refrain from speaking about on camera at least. For now the nebula has been contained by myself and The Atom Band, but the intoxicating aroma persists. Thanks to cutting edge scratch and sniff technology ladies and gentlemen, if you would care to lean forward in your seats and start scratching your television screens, you can experience it for yourself…
    (closes his eyes and waves his hands – still holding the banana – inhaling the smell)
    I’m just kidding about the scratch and sniff thing. But we’re working on it.

    The ongoing scuffle between BOBBY and the PELICAN which has been going on throughout SIMON’s monologue suddenly gets louder and the screen is knocked to one side, BOBBY’s cheek suddenly flat against the screen.

    BOBBY
    Oof!

    SIMON (o/s)
    (as camera topples to the ground with BOBBY)
    You nearly had him there Bobby.

    Camera cuts to the ANCHOR HOLD. SIMON PILER is sitting on top of the giant metal anchor.

    SIMON
    (pats the anchor)
    Our anchor. And behind us –
    (indicates a shelf of four big hot air balloon baskets)
    are our hot air balloons. We’ve not used them for a while, but they’re there. We used to have a grand piano submarine that Smally built himself, but it was lost to the seabed on its maiden voyage. Something about dopplegangers.

    Camera cuts to the FORWARD HOLD. A series of lopsided portraits hangs there – historical figures including ALFRED JARRY, HUNTER S THOMPSON, CHARLIE CHAPLIN, DON QUIXOTE and others. There is a glaring space where one picture has been removed.

    SIMON
    The Forward Hold, presently being used as a Hall of Heroes.

    He notices that someone has drawn in pen some glasses a squiggly moustache and horns on the portrait of STEVE ZISSOU.

    SIMON CONTD.
    How peculiar.

    Camera cuts to the MACHINE ROOM. Total blackness. Over the soundtrack can be heard the steady whirs and clacking of invisible machinery. Suddenly a torch light flickers on and KATASTROPHI looks directly into the camera, attempting to do an impression of the Blair Witch Project, which quickly descends into nervous laughter.

    KATASTROPHI
    I’m – I’m so scared. The Machine Room freaks everyone out, it’s –
    (she bursts out laughing)
    seriously, I don’t see what the big deal is –
    (suddenly her torch light goes out, a male voice screams in terror off-camera causing KATASTROPHI to scream as well)
    What was that?
    (more hysterical laughter off-screen)

    The camera scrambles spinning in the darkness for a couple of seconds heading towards the light filtering through from the door to the ENGINE ROOM and cuts rapidly.

    Camera shows the ENGINE ROOM. BECKY N standing in between the blue COMMANDER engine and an open broken fridge containing several exotic plants. Her face is grubby with soil and engine oil.

    BECKY
    This is the Engine Room. Originally I had plans to turn it into a secret garden, but the lack of windows and light meant that it was really only good for growing fungi. I’ve since acquired this broken fridge and am working on various plant hybrids to varying degrees of success.
    (turns to COMMANDER engine)
    And this is the ship’s engine. It’s complicated how I got hold of it and…
    (grins sheepishly)
    I feel silly saying it.

    SUCKSTOLALALAND (o/s)
    Just say it dude

    BECKY
    Okay. It’s a time machine. From the future. We’ve um – we’ve not quite mastered the ins and outs of time travel yet, but we’re working on it.
    (pulls out an Instruction manual from behind the engine)
    I’m reading through this instruction manual.

    SUCKSTOLALALAND (o/s)
    How’s it going?

    BECKY
    I’ve about halfway through page two of thirty.

    SUCKSTOLALAND (o/s)
    (laughs)
    How long have you been reading it?

    BECKY
    A month and a half.

    Camera cuts to the AFT HOLD. 21 internal doors of various colours and sizes are all that fill the mainly empty room, and are leaning against the rear wall.

    SMALLY
    (walking into picture smoking)
    Eh, these are a work in progress. Portals. This place is apparently called the aft hold. Don’t ask me what that means.

    Camera cuts to the LIBRARY. A comfy sofa with a psychedelic patchwork throw, a small table with a lamp, and large white wooden bookshelves. KATASTROPHI sits on the sofa talking to someone off camera.

    KATASTROPHI
    – I know! I was like freaking out. I didn’t hear anything myself, just when the torch went out… I felt myself trying to jump out of my skin!
    (laughing, takes a swig from a bottle of gin)
    What? We’re rolling? Oh! Ahem, hi, this is your ship librarian speaking to you from the ship library.
    (she indicates the empty shelves to her right)
    As you can see it’s not much of a library for now, but we’re collectively working on it.
    (smiles)
    That okay?

    Camera cuts to the SOUND LABORATORY. SIMON PILER is eating a banana while the ATOM BAND sit in seats behind him going through spools of tape, cutting them up with scissors, playing tapes backwards hooked up to unrecognisable machines, wires running to and fro across SIMON and the camera like a spiders web. Occassionally one of these are tugged and SIMON has to adjust his position as he talks.

    SIMON
    This is our Sound Laboratory. To date perhaps a little underused, but as you can see hmmf
    (a cable is pulled up around his chin)
    the Atom Band and I are presently engaged on redressing the balance.
    (as another wire snakes around his legs and feet nearly toppling him over he turns to his associates)
    Seriously, I’m trying to do a VT here –
    (at this point a cable is pulled so hard that a large amplifier falls off a unit to Simon’s left, and Simon himself tumbles backwards landing in a giant sack of blank cassettes trying not to laugh – the ATOM BAND continue with their sound experiments as if nothing has happened).

    Camera cuts to CROW’S NEST 1. WARCHALKING leans against the rail looking out across the ocean as the sun begins to set casting a magical spectrum of colours on the shimmering waves.

    WARCHALKING
    (without looking at camera)
    Crow’s Nest 1. Enough said.

    Camera cuts to CROW’S NEST 2. BECKY N leans against the rail looking out across the ocean. Identical scenery to CROW’S NEST 2. Two PELICANS can vaguely be made out in the background flying in towards the MARDI, both carrying large sacks of clinking bottles.

    BECKY
    (turns to camera)
    I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is Crow’s Nest 1 again.
    (she nods upwards and camera pans up towards CROW’S NEST 1 at the top of the main sail)
    Funnily enough we call this one Crow’s Nest 2. It’s hardly used. In fact the only person I think that uses it is Simon. He disappears up here for a couple of hours sleep sometimes.

    FROGVILLE (o/s)
    What’s that?

    BECKY
    What’s what?

    FROGVILLE (o/s)
    That piece of paper pinned up there.

    BECKY turns to an old parchment nailed to the mast. On it is a crude picture of the MARDI and an arrow that says “ONE CLICK TO THE OBSERVATORY OF MULTITUDES” pointing at CROW’S NEST 2.

    BECKY
    Oh that. It’s just something Smally pinned up a while back. I don’t know what it means.

    BOBBY
    (voice is loud as he is holding the camera)
    What’s an Observatory of Multitudes?

    BECKY
    (shrugs her shoulders)
    Don’t know that either.

    BECKY lifts the parchment and underneath on the mast is a keyhole.

    BOBBY
    That a keyhole?

    FROGVILLE
    It looks like a keyhole.

    BECKY puts her finger in and screams.

    BECKY
    (panicking)
    Aaaaargggh! Something’s got me! It’s eating my finger!

    BOBBY
    Fuuuuccckk!

    FROGVILLE moves into view and grabs BECKY by the arm making to pull her free.

    BECKY
    I’m just kidding ya

    FROGVILLE
    (laughing)
    Fuck, that was scary.

    BECKY
    Oh wait
    (her face screws up in concentration)
    There’s a little latch inside.

    Suddenly there is an audible CLICK and a large square hatch swings opens on the mast.

    FROGVILLE
    Woah – what the fuck is that for?

    BECKY pulls her finger out of the keyhole and pokes her head inside the mast looks up and then down.

    BECKY
    There’s light down there. Not that far.

    BOBBY
    What’s beneath us? Is it the Bridge?

    BECKY is climbing inside the hatch backwards, lowering herself into it.

    BOBBY
    (alarmed)
    Becky, what are you doing?

    BECKY
    It looks like water down there. I mean, if someone puts a hatch in the mast big enough to climb inside, then you know… it’s fine, I can swim.

    FROGVILLE
    Um…

    BECKY grins and disappears from view gives a little YELP and then there is the sound of a SPLASH.

    FROGVILLE
    (going to the hatch and looking down)
    …shit she did it. I was just going to say, what if it’s like a sewage tank or something?

    BOBBY
    Can you see her?

    FROGVILLE
    Nos? Are you alright?

    BECKY
    (distant)
    Fine. It’s a big tank of water.

    FROGVILLE
    Is it sewage?

    BECKY
    No. Holy shit!

    FROGVILLE
    (turns to camera)
    It’s not sewage. What is it?

    BECKY
    Oh… you’ve got to see this, it’s incredible!

    FROGVILLE
    What is it?
    (no answer)
    Nos, what is it?
    (still no answer – he begins to climb into the hatch as well)
    I’m going in, are you coming? Nos, I’m coming down.

    BECKY
    (distant)
    Okay, go for it

    BOBBY
    What about the camera?

    FROGVILLE
    Fuck the camera, let’s go find out what it is.

    FROGVILLE disappears from view, followed by another SPLASH. The camera goes over to the hatch and looks down, adjusting to the darkness of what seems to be a hollow tunnel down the middle of the mast and at the end of it, about 10ft away is shimmering clear blue water. FROGVILLE’s head is visible for a second as he swims away out of sight.

    BOBBY
    Jason?

    FROGVILLE
    Woah man! That’s…

    BOBBY
    What is it?

    FROGVILLE
    It’s like… a thousand feet tall. I’m not exaggerating. Like a giant…

    BECKY
    (excited)
    It’s a giant microscope. Bobby, you should come and see this.

    FROGVILLE
    It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The lights are… wow. I don’t know where this place is, but it’s not on the ship that’s for sure. Seriously, it’s a thousand feet tall.

    BOBBY
    (muttering)
    What the fuck am I doing?

    The camera jostles and switches off. Cuts to the WARDROOM. Most of the crew are sitting in plastic chairs around two large tables looking at the camera. Bottles of rum and cans of Irn Bru fill up the tables.

    CREW (together, lifting glasses)
    The wardroom!

    JONNY
    Wardroom! Oops.

    Much laughter around the table, a couple of groans.

    SMALLY (o/s)
    Fucking hell Jonny, that’s like five takes. It’s not that difficult.

    JONNY
    Sorry Smally, I wasn’t concentrating.
    (to crew)
    What? It’s been a long day!

    SMALLY
    Okay, let’s try it again.
    (everybody groans)
    Wardroom Take 6 – everybody ready this time?

    Camera cuts to close up of the medical cross on the SICK BAY door. Someone has scribbled in permanent marker pen “DANGER – SERIOUSLY SERIOUS DRUGS” to one side of it, and beneath that scratched with a screw are the words “BADDEST FASTEST”. The door swings open – JONNY lies in the hammock, strumming a guitar, searching for a melody. SMALLY is propped up on what appears to be a psychiatric couch, rolling up. ACTING FLASH sits at a desk to one side wearing a white coat with psychedelic flowers stencilled onto it, and a stethoscope hanging round his neck.

    FLASH
    So how long have you been feeling like this?

    SMALLY
    (blows)
    Difficult to say. Since we left Jacksonville if I’m being honest. Maybe even earlier.

    FLASH
    I see. And the feeling is getting worse?

    SMALLY
    Yeah, much worse.

    FLASH
    (nodding at the roll-up)
    You really should cut down on those. Every scene you’re smoking.

    SMALLY
    Really? Fuck I never noticed.
    (tucks the roll-up reluctantly behind his ear)

    FLASH
    Okay, back to this feeling – what do you think it is?

    SMALLY
    I don’t know. That’s why I’m here.

    FLASH
    Is it loneliness?

    SMALLY
    Nope.

    FLASH
    Boredom?

    SMALLY
    No, not that.

    FLASH
    (thinking)
    Does it begin with the letter “P”?

    SMALLY
    (confused)
    What?

    FLASH
    The letter “P” – does the feeling begin with the letter “P”?

    SMALLY
    I don’t know. The only feeling I can think that begins with “P” is panic. And paranoia.

    FLASH
    Is it panic?

    SMALLY
    No.

    FLASH
    Paranoia?

    SMALLY
    I don’t think so.

    FLASH
    (sighs)
    Smally, it’s difficult to diagnose you and prescribe anything if you can’t tell me what the symptoms are.

    SMALLY
    Could you not just guess?

    FLASH
    Well I could, but I don’t know how helpful that would be.

    SMALLY
    Okay.

    FLASH
    (sighs again)
    Alright, I’m guessing it’s insomnia.

    SMALLY
    That doesn’t begin with a “P”.

    FLASH
    (grins)
    True. So this feeling does begin with a “P” then?

    SMALLY shrugs his shoulders and puts the roll-up absent-mindedly in his mouth.

    FLASH CONTD.
    So it’s not insomnia –

    SMALLY
    No I don’t think so. The insomnia’s like a by-product of it. But it’s not it.

    FLASH
    Alright. Well, how about we start at the beginning again?

    SMALLY
    Okay. From the VERY beginning?

    FLASH
    No, just from when the feeling started.

    SMALLY
    Okay. I guess it started a couple of days ago, when that woman appeared.

    FLASH
    The Health and Safety woman from the Coastguard?

    SMALLY
    Yeah, her.

    FLASH
    Go on…

    SMALLY closes his eyes, and as he does, the camera fades down to black like eyelids closing over the screen, the INTRO MUSIC fading out. It remains black for seven seconds.

    SMALLY
    Shit. This is weird.

    FLASH (voice)
    What’s weird?

    SMALLY
    This. Something’s happening.

    FLASH
    What do you see?

    SMALLY
    I don’t see anything. I’ve got my eyes closed.

    FLASH
    In your mind I mean. What do you see in your mind?

    The camera fades in pictures appearing from the bottom upwards like eyelids opening. SMALLY is still sitting on the chair, FLASH is still leaning forward, examining his fingernails, and JONNY is still lying in the hammock with his guitar, but listening.

    SMALLY
    (sits upright)
    Fucking hell, something’s really, really wrong.

  7. EXT. MAIN DECK – THE MARDI – EARLY AFTERNOON

    There is a commotion on the MAIN DECK. A group of around thirty people have gathered around THE PLANK – a long strip of wood going out over a hole that has been smashed crudely through the starboard rail. Through the heads, the camera alights on SMALLY sitting at a desk fashioned from an internal door with hardback books stacked up for table legs. He has a large book open in front of him and a pen poised above the paper.

    BECKY (from behind camera)
    What’s happening?

    FLOWPOETRY
    (turning around)
    Hard to tell. He seems to be asking everyone questions about what they’ve been doing on the ship.

    BECKY
    Then making them walk the plank?

    FLOWPOETRY
    Not yet I don’t think.

    BECKY moves the camera through the crowd and walks around to the side of SMALLY. He is talking to an elderly gentleman in ill-fitting clothes.

    SMALLY
    Name?

    ELDERLY GENTLEMAN
    I – oh, I’m sorry, I think there’s been a serious mistake.

    BECKY
    (whispering)
    Smally!

    SMALLY
    (does not hear)
    And what is your role on the Mardi? What exactly do you do here?

    ELDERLY GENTLEMAN
    I really only popped out to buy my wife some flowers. I’ve been stuck here ever since.

    BECKY
    (whispering louder)
    Smally, what’s going on?

    SMALLY
    (scribbling in book, looks up, annoyed about being interrupted)
    I’m clearing the decks. We’re starting again, there’s just too many people getting a free ride.

    ELDERLY GENTLEMAN
    The pleasant fellow in the helicopter said you were a Flower Company but I haven’t seen a single flower since I got here.

    SMALLY
    (holds his hand up)
    Okay, I get it. You took a wrong turning. But we all take wrong turnings, you know. Sometimes you’ve just got to hold your hands up and admit it.

    BECKY
    Um, don’t you think we should have a meeting about this first?

    SMALLY
    (writing again, doesn’t look up)
    That’s a great idea Becky, unfortunately we’ve tried that one several times over. Last time I visited our Boardroom I ended up sitting there staring into space for three days and not a single person showed up. No, we’re way past meetings now. This crisis calls for emergency action. If we don’t adapt now then we’re fucked.
    (looks up)
    Okay old man with no name. Time to walk the plank.

    Two PELICANS appear through the legs of the crowd and start snapping at the ELDERLY GENTLEMAN’s legs, forcing him to shuffle backwards in the direction of the plank.

    BECKY
    Wait a minute, this is barbaric!
    (camera spins to the rest of the crowd looking on with expressionless faces)
    Somebody… why are you all just standing there? Here, hold this…
    (she hands the camera to TIN PAN standing beside her, meanwhile the ELDERLY GENTLEMAN has inched right to the edge of the plank with the PELICANS still snapping)

    ELDERLY GENTLEMAN
    Oh Lord!

    BECKY
    (rushing towards the plank)
    Wait!

    The ELDERLY GENTLEMAN falls off the edge with a SCREAM and seconds later is the sound of a SPLASH.

    BECKY
    (turning back to the crowd as she looks over the side)
    I can’t believe we’re doing this! Bobby, why’s nobody stopping him?

    BOBBY
    (smoking, carries a bottle of bourbon by his side, shrugs)
    I’m not worried. I’m the Cook, he’s hardly going to get rid of me. And I don’t know why you’re getting so uptight – you’re the Chief Engineer – you’ve contributed loads.

    SMALLY
    Next!

    A small ten year old boy steps out – BYRON FAGAN – and approaches the desk, he is wearing an oversized Utica Flower Co uniform.

    SMALLY
    Name?

    BYRON
    Byron Fagan.

    SMALLY
    (looking up)
    Oh yeah you. Didn’t you come here with your Mum?

    BYRON
    Yes I did.

    SMALLY
    Where is she?

    BYRON
    She’s with the other lady. The anal one who wanted to bust your ass about the state of the ship. I dealt with the situation.

    SMALLY
    What do you mean she’s with the other lady? How do you know about that? And where did you get that uniform from?

    BYRON
    Everybody knows what you did with the anal lady. She’s in –

    SMALLY
    (holds a finger to his own lips)
    Shhh.
    (looks around)
    Everyone knows where she is?

    Small murmurs of confirmation ripple around the MAIN DECK.

    SMALLY
    Fucking hell. Okay kid, what exactly do you do on this ship?

    BYRON
    (shrugs)
    Listen into conversations. Spy on people. Surf for porn. Steal food from the kitchen. Just stuff really.

    SMALLY looks at him for a few moments as if weighing up whether he should let BYRON stay.

    SMALLY
    Sorry kid. Pelicans!

    The PELICANS have hopped around BECKY and start dragging the boy with their beaks towards the plank.

    BECKY
    Smally, stop! I thought we were meant to be a Communist ship? This isn’t right!

    BYRON
    (going over the edge)
    Fuck you all fuckers!

    Seconds later another SPLASH.

    SMALLY
    (to himself)
    Well this is a lot easier than I thought it would be.

    BECKY
    (shouting)
    Smally!

    SMALLY
    (sighs)
    You’ve got to trust me on this one, it’ll be better for everyone in the long-run. If they’re serious enough about helping then they’ll figure out how to get back here.

    BOBBY
    Plus it’s a lot less food for me to cook.

    SMALLY
    Exactly. Next!

    Nobody steps forward.

    SMALLY CONTD.
    Where’s Jim?

    TIN PAN (from behind camera)
    Nobody’s seen him for days. Actually some people don’t even believe he exists.

    SMALLY
    (turns to camera)
    Ah, Tin Pan. Thanks for volunteering.
    (scribbles in his book)
    Name… got that. Okay, so what do you do on the ship?

    TIN PAN
    Mostly I’ve been editing this film, but to be honest I really need to get back to Scotland. My wife was due last week and…

    SMALLY
    Enough said man. Pelicans!

    TIN PAN
    (as PELICANS start snapping at him)
    Hey!

    SMALLY
    (stands up, lifts the camera out of TIN PAN’s hands as he passes the desk)
    Don’t worry man, I’ll make sure we take good care of your camera.
    (lifts the camera and films as the PELICANS keep snapping at TIN PAN, he punches one and it SQUAWKS loudly as feathers fly loose just before toppling over the edge in his neck brace – seconds later a loud SPLASH)

    SMALLY CONTD.
    Thank fuck for that

    He trails the camera around the faces of the remaining crew looking impassive.

    SMALLY CONTD.
    Well – we’ve not got all day folks. Who’s next?

    EXT. MAIN DECK – THE MARDI – NIGHT

    SYD sits at a piano singing THE LOADED WHISPERS “SICK OF WRITING SAD SONGS”. The camera pans round the Main Deck, where various Company members sit in silence. WARCHALKING is lying down on his back across the plank, eyes closed, an empty bottle of rum dangling down in his hands. BECKY N sits against the rail rolling up. BOBBY is flicking bits of popcorn into the mouths of the two PELICANS. SIMON PILER and THE ATOM BAND sit cross-legged and lying down on the deck trading Utica Flower Company Top Trump cards with FLOWPOETRY. KATASTROPHI stands staring over the rail at the moon dancing on the surface of the ocean. ECHOES 22 sits up on the rail, smoking a joint, flicking hot rocks into the sea. Finally the camera comes to rest on SMALLY sitting on the floor leaning against the desk, staring into space. In the background on the night sky a helicopter moves silently between the stars on the horizon. The camera pans up into the stars as the last notes of the song ring out.

  8. EXT. A DESERT ISLAND OFF THE COAST OF VENEZUELA – MID MORNING

    Close up of JONNY’s face, eyes opening. He is lying on the white sand of a remote island having been washed up on the shore. As the camera pans out, we see an empty rum bottle also washed up a couple of feet away. JONNY sits up disorientated, the side of his face where he has been lying covered in sand. He looks around completely bewildered as to how he got there.

    VOICE (o/s)
    Good morning, good morning, the sun is up and tathagatas dance around your angel-brain a-laying on that there pillow of sand – kid, I was beginning to think you might never wake up

    JONNY
    Who is that?

    VOICE (o/s)
    Oh just a cosmic ghost hobo, gently dancing and doodling through space and time in search of kicks. Bah, who am I kidding? You know something Jonny, here’s a word of advice from an old, old man – never become your persona. Wanna drink?

    JONNY
    Are you… are you a voice in my head?

    VOICE (o/s)
    (laughing)
    I’m no hallucinatory cricket conscience kid if that’s what you’re getting at. No, seriously – here have a drink.

    A hand reaches into the side of the screen holding a bottle of rum. Camera pans back slowly and we see that this is THE GHOST OF JACK KEROUAC sitting in the sand a couple of metres away from JONNY, wearing t-shirt, jeans, and barefoot, smiling. He looks like he is in his early thirties, and has a barely perceptible ghostly sheen of transparency about him – like he has been superimposed from a film onto the picture.

    KEROUAC
    Go on – have a drink.

    JONNY
    (reaches out and takes the bottle, has a swig)
    Thanks.
    (belches and passes the bottle back)

    KEROUAC
    Not a problem kid

    The camera cuts to a view from behind them sitting on the beach looking out across the empty expanse of ocean and clear blue sky.

    JONNY
    Where am I? What happened? I… last thing I remember I was sleeping in Sick Bay.

    KEROUAC
    (turning to him)
    You don’t remember what happened? Seriously? Here, you’ve got sand on your face kid. All down one side.

    JONNY
    (wiping the sand on his Utica Flower Co shirt sleeve)
    No. I can vaguely remember something about pelicans. And a diving competition?

    KEROUAC
    (chuckles)
    Kid, that wasn’t diving, that was people getting purged. Expelled. Kicked off the ship.

    JONNY
    They kicked me off the ship? What for?

    KEROUAC
    Actually technically you voluntarily dived off the end of the plank. I say “dive” but of course I mean fell. Quite spectacularly actually.

    KEROUAC makes a flailing motion with his arms, a goofy look on his face, then smiles kindly.

    JONNY
    Oh.
    (thinking)
    Did you get kicked off as well?

    KEROUAC says nothing and holds out the rum to JONNY again.

    JONNY
    No thanks. I could murder a pie and pint though.
    (thinking)
    So what now?

    KEROUAC
    Well now I guess that’s up to you kid.
    (he stands up, pulls off his t-shirt revealing the paunch of middle age and too much wine, and begins to walk into the ocean)
    Ah the cool blue arms that charms with one hand and harms with the other, undoubtedly, wholeheartedly the sea is still my brother.
    (turns to JONNY)
    Well, whatya waiting for? Are we swimming back to the ship or not?

    JONNY
    (gets slowly to his feet, shouting as KEROUAC wades in up to his waist)
    How far have we got to swim?

    KEROUAC
    (shouts back)
    The longer you stand there thinking about it kid, the further it’ll be.

    KEROUAC hits the water swimming and JONNY shuffles into the gentle surf. The camera films them for a short while until they are just two heads disappearing into the waves.

  9. BLACK SCREEN – WHITE LETTERING FADES IN READS “THE 14 LOST DAYS OF THE MARDI – PART I” – FADES OUT

    EXT. THE MARDI – MAIN DECK – EARLY EVENING

    A beautiful sky frames the MAIN DECK, splashes of sunlight and colours reflecting and illuminating the activity on deck. Various members of the Company are busy in their own worlds – camera lingers on THE ATOM BAND – they are attending to a badly damaged green safe, hoisting it up from a great gaping hole at the rear of the ship, scratching their heads. Camera lingers on the rear mast which has completely collapsed, and signs of damage after some kind of explosion below deck.

    CAMERAMAN – VOICE UNIDENTIFIABLE (o/s)
    Jesus! What happened?

    SIMON PILER
    (lifting a welding mask from his face, squinting in the sun)
    Difficult to say at this early stage, but all the signs are pointing to some kind of explosion. It appears Smally attempted to blow up the safe with nitroglycerin. And failed.

    CAMERAMAN
    Is he okay?

    SIMON
    (thinking)
    Again, it’s difficult to say, but I’m certain it will all become clearer, erm…later.
    (whispering)
    Between you and me, I suspect he has disappeared into the Freezer.

    At the mention of the word “Freezer”, THE ATOM BAND stop what they are doing and look at SIMON.

    SIMON CONTD.
    Steady lads.
    (to camera, sighs)
    Follow me.

    INT. THE KITCHEN OUTSIDE THE FREEZER

    The ATOM BAND stand pensively at the door, occasionally stealing glances at the camera. After several seconds SIMON PILER bursts out, covered from head to foot in ice-cream and a deep sea diver’s suit.

    SIMON
    (as THE ATOM BAND remove his helmet)
    Goodness!

    CAMERAMAN
    Are you okay?

    SIMON
    (taking deep breaths like he has been running for several miles)
    Yes… yes… fine… I’ll….
    (exhales, holds up a hand)
    … just give me a moment.

    CAMERAMAN
    Any sign of him?

    SIMON
    (shakes his head)
    It’s as I feared… the inner door, he’s… yes.

    CAMERAMAN
    Can’t you follow him?

    SIMON
    I would… but there’s no handle. No, following him… even if I could work out how he did it… it would be ridiculously dangerous.
    (to THE ATOM BAND)
    On a plus note I found this inside the nebula

    He holds up a greyish round rock between his thumb and forefinger. THE ATOM BAND immediately bag it and label it.

    CAMERAMAN
    What is it Simon?

    SIMON
    I believe… it is a very small moon.
    (grinning)

    A SUDDEN LOUD BANG makes everyone jump and turn towards the kitchen door.

    CAMERAMAN
    What was…

    SIMON PILER and THE ATOM BAND spring immediately into action, attempting to run in the direction of the loud bang.

    SIMON
    Come on!
    (mumbles something inaudible, it sounds vaguely like “Into the breech!”)

    SIMON is the first to respond, but forgets he is still inside the diving suit and goes crashing head-first onto the floor. The weight of the diving suit is too much for him and THE ATOM BAND double back from the door, lifting him to his feet as he curses under his breath.

    SIMON
    …it sounded like a gun-shot! Ah, this blasted suit!
    (looking round)
    You’ll have to carry me…

    Two of THE ATOM BAND pick SIMON up, struggling under the weight and they stagger through the KITCHEN door and through the rooms, the camera following. As they do a second GUNSHOT rings out followed by the sound of a bullet ricocheting around in the metal rooms above their heads.

    CAMERAMAN
    Woah! Did you hear…?

    SIMON
    Yes! Yes! Quickly! No time to waste!

    As they push through the door of THE MACHINE ROOM into the bottom deck corridor, we see UBERPAUL in a psychedelic dressing gown and shades with a shotgun, staring up the steps to the floor above.

    SIMON
    What’s going on? What is it?

    UBERPAUL
    (serious, not taking his eyes from the hatch above him)
    EMOs… I saw one… I definitely…
    (he suddenly raises the shotgun again, making to fire but stops)
    No… just a trick of the light.
    (to SIMON)
    But I definitely saw one.

    CAMERAMAN
    What was he doing?

    UBERPAUL
    (stares into the camera, a flicker of a grin on his face)
    He was um… you know… just moping around.

    Suddenly there is the sound of a door opening to their right, and they spin around in unison, UBERPAUL firing the shotgun as he does. MR KORADJI is coming out of SICK BAY with a bottle of pills and is blasted in the stomach, shoots backwards in a deliberate mock PULP FICTION pastiche, the coloured pills flying up in slow motion.

    CAMERAMAN
    Fuck!
    (pause, screaming)
    Oh fuuuuccck!

    The group move down the corridor towards the dead MR KORADJI, blood pooling on the SICK BAY floor, catching the pills and swirling them round. For a split second they become like little cartoon submarines, with cut-out cardboard cartoon versions of various Company crew members waving from the windows.

    CAMERAMAN CONTD./
    Is he dead?

    SIMON nudges him with a big metal boot.

    SIMON
    It would appear so. Yes.

    CAMERAMAN
    (quietly)
    Fuck. I’ve never seen a dead person before. Who is he?

    Everyone looks at each other, puzzled.

    UBERPAUL
    Whoever he is – I mean whoever he was – he’s got an expensive taste in suits.
    (pauses)
    Shit, I thought he was that Emo.

    CAMERAMAN
    You killed him…

    SIMON
    (coughs)
    Ahem, let’s not all go jumping to conclusions here..

    UBERPAUL
    I’m going back to bed. This is too fucked up. Anyone want this?
    (he holds out the shotgun)

    CAMERAMAN
    Jesus! No! You’re not getting my fingerprints on it! What are we going to do?
    (pause)
    With the body?

    SIMON nods to THE ATOM BAND, SCAREYTOES takes the shotgun from UBERPAUL and passes it to SIMON. They watch UBERPAUL ambling back towards his cabin at the end of the corridor. A solitary bubble floats down the corridor near his head.

    SIMON
    (into camera)
    Oh, a thought. You’re filming this right?

    CAMERAMAN
    Eh… uh-huh.

    SIMON
    (grimaces)
    Hmm… now that is unfortunate.
    (raises the shotgun and points the barrel down the lens of the camera)
    Would someone kindly head up to Storage and collect some buckets, mops and scrubbing brushes? Oh, and see if there’s anything we could use for body bags?

    THE ATOM BAND oblige and begin to file away behind SIMON up the stairs.

    CAMERAMAN
    Bags?

    SIMON
    (smiles saintly)
    Apparently if you stand still, this won’t hurt a bit…

    There is a loud BANG and the screen goes black.

  10. INT. THE MARDI – OUTSIDE THE DOOR OF THE FILM STUDIO

    SMALLY, clothes in tatters, sucking on a nicotine lozenge, presses his ear to the door. Muffled dialogue of an imaginary film can be heard. He removes his head from the door and camera pans in on a clipboard he is holding shows a list of rooms on The Mardi with various ticks and question marks. At the top in clear lettering it reads “QUARTERLY CHECK”. SMALLY ticks beside the words FILM STUDIO with a flourish.

  11. INT. COMPANY BOARDROOM – THE MARDI – LATE MORNING

    The COMPANY BOARDROOM is wrecked. The arc-shaped table is smashed in two with splinters of wood all around, several chairs are also broken, smashed bottles and rum-stained plasters are scattered around. There is a giant hole in the ceiling, more splintered wood and bare wires hang down. Amidst the wreckage sit SMALLY and RITCH. Opposite them sit a middle-aged blonde woman in designer clothes, flanked either side by two men in suits. The woman is GISELLE DA SILVA (formerly MRS GISELLE KORADJI – MR KORADJI’s first wife), she is looking down at a lap-top that lies balanced on a makeshift table of broken wood, watches smiling as images of a dog coughing as it raises itself from a sitting position, an insect drowning in sap, and a shaky clip of a woman waving happily at the camera play repeatedly on the screen.

    GISELLE
    (looking up)
    This is it?

    SMALLY
    Hmm?

    GISELLE
    This is the film?

    SMALLY
    Actually, this is from a late-night film proj –

    RITCH
    (coughing)
    Look Miss Da Silva, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that my client is a very busy man. We’ve recently taken delivery of a hot-tub that appears to measure one hundred square metres –
    (to SMALLY)
    That’s right isn’t it? Fifty plus fifty?

    SMALLY
    I think it’s fifty times fifty man. That’s…

    RITCH
    Two thousand five hundred metres.
    (exhales laughing)
    Shit! What were you thinking when you ordered that?

    SMALLY
    (sheepishly)
    I know

    RITCH
    Anyway, as I was saying – we understand you’d like to buy up the remaining 60% of the Utica Flower Company film rights? Your husband…

    GISELLE
    (smiling)
    Ex-husband darling

    RITCH
    Yes. Well, obviously the Company would prefer to hold onto at least some of the rights to their own movie. We are however prepared to negotiate perhaps a smaller stake, and thought you’d maybe be interested in this spin-off series that you just watched.

    GISELLE
    Oh, it was certainly fantastic viewing. You really think that was a merman?

    RITCH
    Um…

    SMALLY
    Yes, it was a merman.

    GISELLE
    Mmmm.

    RITCH
    Okay Miss Da Silva. We’d like to propose
    (leans forward)
    an initial investment of five hundred thousand pounds sterling for twenty percent of the feature length film, with a further forty per cent of the spin-off series thrown in…

    GISELLE
    (leans forward, gently holding RITCH and SMALLY’s hands in hers)
    Boys… I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll have my associate Mr Khan
    (a bespeckled elderly balding man sitting on her left nods)
    write you up a cheque for eight hundred thousand pounds right here and now, with a contract that will state that within the next two weeks my ex-husband will forego his share of the film rights back into your name – for nothing – failing that you can keep the money and my 60% will revert back into the name of The Utica Flower Company.

    (silence)

    GISELLE CONTD
    Plus I’ll round it up to one million if you can catch me that Merman.
    (smiles, sitting back)

    RITCH
    (looks at SMALLY who shrugs his shoulders, then back at GISELLE)
    Where do we sign?

    MR KHAN produces a contract from a leather briefcase and passes it to SMALLY with a fancy pen. He looks at RITCH who nods as if to say “Sign it now before they change their minds”. Camera zooms in as he leans the contract vertically against the smashed table and etches his name at the bottom. Camera zooms out.

    INT. BUNKROOM 6 – THE MARDI – LATE MORNING

    Camera zooms out showing UBERPAUL in a psychedelic dressing gown sitting in front of a large mirror holding the contract. On the bottom bunk a figure sleeps with his back turned to us. GISELLE DA SILVA sits on the top bunk flicking through an old leather bound ship journal.

    UBERPAUL
    (looks up at himself in the mirror)
    This is going to be easier than I thought

    GISELLE
    (tossing the journal aside)
    Yeah, they don’t suspect a thing.
    (she hops down onto the floor and glances at the figure on the bottom bunk)
    How long are you going to keep him under for?

    UBERPAUL
    (begins to pull at the skin around his jaw)
    Long enough. He’s fine. Stop worrying… everything’s under control.

    GISELLE
    (moves across and helps him pull the mask off, revealing DEADCANARIES)
    You always say that when it’s not.

    DEADCANARIES
    (Blinking and screwing up his face)
    Shit, these masks are killing my face.

    GISELLE
    Tell me about it.

    DEADCANARIES moves to the wardrobe and changes into a floral dress, lifting a chainsaw from the top shelf and turns back to GISELLE.

    DEADCANARIES
    Okay, let’s fuck things up. You ready?

    GISELLE
    Ready is my middle name.

    They move to the corner of the room, DEADCANARIES stepping up onto the bunk, starts to remove a metal air conditioning grate.

    DEADCANARIES
    (stops, looks down at GISELLE)
    Really? Ready is your middle name?

    GISELLE
    (sarcastically)
    Yes. What do you think?

    DEADCANARIES
    I like it.

    As he says this, he opens the grate and a blizzard of popcorn begins blowing into the room.

    DEADCANARIES
    (spitting popcorn)
    Fuck! Fuck!

    GISELLE
    (attempting to hide behind the chair in the middle of the room)
    Stop it! Do something!

    DEADCANARIES
    (falling onto the floor, his fall cushioned by the ever-increasing wave of popcorn)
    I can’t! Shit!

    Slowly the blizzard of popcorn stops, GISELLE and DEADCANARIES picking themselves up and dusting themselves down, pulling popcorn from their hair.

    GISELLE
    (grinning)
    Fucking popcorn.

    They move back over to the grate, and she hoists him up onto her shoulders, camera zooms in on her face as she struggles beneath his weight.

    DEADCANARIES (o/s)
    No looking up my dress, alright? Okay, I’m up.

    GISELLE
    (passes up the chainsaw as he disappears into the ventilation shaft)
    Be careful.

    DEADCANARIES
    (grinning)
    Careful is my middle name.

    He disappears from view leaving GISELLE standing in the middle of the room of popcorn.

  12. CRAGGY CLIFFTOPS DURING PREHISTORIC TIMES

    One ancient man is standing with his friend. Both of them are wearing shaggy wool coats. The first man takes his off, and as he does, another copy of himself steps out from inside of it, leaving the original to pull the coat back closed again.

    ANCIENT MAN
    Well, well!

    HIS COPY
    Yes. Oh, yes, of course.

    His friend is suddenly and instantaneously incinerated in a plume of flame and orange smoke. When the smoke finally blows away, there are two copies of him standing in the same place. Each happily claps his hands twice. In this way, both sets of individuals continue to multiply until someone changes the channel. There is a brief burst of static, then the television set is switched off. There is a receding white dot remaining in the center of the screen, and we hear the low fizz of the vacuum tubes powering down.

    INT. COMMUNICATIONS ROOM – THE MARDI

    The camera pans out, and SMALLY is sitting in front of the television in a faded brown armchair. He stands up, zips up his hooded sweatshirt, flips up his hood, pulls out a pair of sunglasses, puts them on, and reaches down beside the chair to grasp a pair of knee-high rubber galoshes. Both feet both assume their correct positions inside of a boot, and he walks out of the room, closing the door behind him. The hallway is empty, and SMALLY walks down until he reaches another door. He exits from this door to the main deck. It is blindingly bright. The camera takes a moment to adjust to the intensity. In the meantime, Smally has taken out his bubble trumpet. He stands for a moment, then looks down at his watch. He rocks back and forth on the soles of the galoshes, faintly whistling. It is a meandering tune, with little repetition. He holds a long, continuous note – too long to be physically realistic, it seems; and now his motion has frozen, but the sound continues, the frail, windy tone seamlessly becomes the drone of an approaching jet engine.

    EXT. TOKYO HARBOR

    The shot cuts to Tim flying the company’s helicopter. We see the craft perpendicular to the camera. A subtitle appears at the bottom of the screen. It says:

    Tokyo. June 28th, 2009.

    The camera pans 90° and we are engulfed in a view of skyscrapers from afar. The shadow of the helicopter races over the murky ocean.

    EXT. VARIOUS NATURAL LOCATIONS

    Three bog blossoms speedily burst into bloom.
    500 hatchling snakes are crawling in every direction.
    BLACKOUT.
    A whine of mosquitoes.

    EXT. A RUN-DOWN DISTRICT OF TOKYO, OUTSIDE OF A STRIP CLUB

    As our eyes adjust, we first notice the magenta glow of a neon light, casting a mathematical array of photons throughout the slowly resolving alleyway. The whine of mosquitos has metamorphosed into the steady and high-pitched electrical hum from the light. As the camera tilts up, we see a sign in Japaneese:

    乙女ゲーム

    The camera tilts back down and two men in black coats are smoking beneath the sign. We hear the sound of tacky pop music fade as the club’s door slowly eases shut. Our two subjects are undeniably Asian, and presumably Japaneese; one is shorter than the other, with a slighter build. That being said, he is still an enormous individual. Someone walks past on the street, giving us a sense of scale – the top of his head barely reaches the smaller man’s collar bone. They begin to speak, and subtitles slowly stretch and crawl across the screen, dilating as if seen through amber. The pitches of their voices are also dilating in an ominous and unnatural manner.

    1
    I told you he was up to something.

    2
    It’s about time your infinite suspicions amount to something. [He pauses for a moment, grimacing.] And you know what? Finally, the moment of truth, and I’ll bet you just hightail it out of here. You’ll snatch your money out from under your mattress and run away like a dog – your tail between your legs.

    1
    Oh no, that’s where you’ve got it all wrong. Old man’s got us on a big job this time, and I don’t plan to let him down.

    2
    You coward. Of course you know he’ll kill you if you run. Ha! You’re no dog, you’re a rooster! Ha! Crowing and calling before the sun even rises, and then hiding your sorry ass from the soup-pot all day long! What a wretch. [He stops suddenly.] Hey! Hey you! [He points his finger in the direction of the camera.]

    1: What the hell?! [He’s surprised.] Old man must have sent him! [Pulls out a pistol.]

    The cameraman curses swiftly under his breath.

    CAMERAMAN
    Oh, shit!

    Then he peals out running. The camera violently shakes, then wobbles upside-down as the cameraman runs. We hear the pounding of his feet on the pavement and three successive shots from the firearm.
    JUMP CUT.

    INT. KITCHEN – THE MARDI

    Obvious home video of a much different quality than the previous camera. It is zoomed way in and is out of focus. People are laughing and talking. The camera shakily zooms out to BECKY, KATASTROPHI, JON OF THE ATOM, and FLASH eating. They have placed plain tortillas flat on their orange plastic plates, and are eating them with forks and knives. There four tankards of cloudly, brownish-green liquid on the table as well, all of which are practically empty. JON holds up a wedge of tortilla on his fork and eyes it theatrically. He holds it out towards the camera, and comically jabs it at the lens. The auto focus, having only recently caught up with things, is pathetically out of whack again.

    JON
    Yummmmmmmmmmmmm…

    He candidly bites the food off the fork.
    (Simultaneously to this,)

    KATASTROPHI
    Jon, what did the mountain sheep say to it’s mom?

    BECKY raises her hands like she is conducting and counts three readying beats with her hands. Both she and Jon start reciting in a sing-songy voice. Despite her well-intentioned cue, neither begin nor end at the same time.

    BECKY and JON: The mosquitoes are bad, let’s stand on some ice!

    FLASH: (He both looks and sounds sick.) Uhhhh…

    BECKY, JON, and KATASTROPHI laugh at the song. They begin to rhythmically pound their utensils to a lurchy beat.

    BECKY, JON, AND KATASTROPHI: The mosquitoes are bad. Here, eat some of these leaves! Are you feeling alright?

    (JON interjects with a well-timed and mostly atonal series of trumpet-like sounds. He then stops, and proceeds with a feigned aire of seriousness.)

    JON
    Time for the three o’clock report!

    They pause and fix their gazes intently on FLASH. He looks really pale and he has closed his eyes.

    JON
    (repeating himself, with even more emphasis) Time for the three o’ clock report!

    They stare even more intently, and FLASH burps up a huge, briny-green bubble. He starts, opening his eyes slightly. A highly disoriented look settles over his face.

    Suddenly we see everything from inside the bubble. Our perspective is tinted green, floating above the table, and marvelously fish-eyed. It is from this angle that we see someone open the door and walk into the kitchen. It is the first of the Japaneese men from the previous scene. He has grown a thin mustache. He immediately stops to look around, perplexed by the three people delightedly staring at their giant, quavering green bubble. (And the fourth, looking slightly relieved, but still quite unwell.)

    1
    What the hell is going on in here?

    He has stopped just inside the doorway. Somebody piles into him, jolting the heavy-set man considerably. He stumbles to catch his balance.

    VOICE
    Oof!

    1 turns to see what has caused the collision. It is EMERSON. He quickly turns his attention back to the bubble. EMERSON looks up from where he’s fallen.

    EMERSON
    Oh, shit!

    He gets up and runs from the room. We hear his footsteps dissapear down the hall.

    1 looks up at the bubble for a while longer, then waves at the others, trying to get their attention.

    1
    Hello? [Waves.] Hello?? What the hell is going on here?

    EMERSON comes charging back into the room carrying a enormous glass bottle. It is inset with a small metal filament, giving it the appearance of an upside-down light bulb. He is followed shortly thereafter by a sleep-tousled SIMON. SIMON is wearing a blue and red striped stocking cap that reaches halfway down his back and a nightgown that badly needs laundering. He is clutching a mess of cables, which he hurriedly dumps on the table, inadvertently spilling one of the tankards.

    JON
    (casually) Three o’ clock report. (He points at the bubble.)

    SIMON
    Jeez, that one’s huge! (He begins frantically untangling and arranging electric components, after a few seconds, he pauses momentarily to address the camera person.) The Algaebrew. Has everybody been taking their appropriate dosage? [pause.] Good. Yes, very good.

    EMERSON grasps a wire from the fray and plugs it into the end of the bottle.

    SIMON
    (Finishing his preparations and looking around.) We’re still early, I guess. (To EMERSON) Well, I shudder to think if you hadn’t been here… (digresses to mumbling) …I’m starting to think that tearing out the phone lines…

    He stops short. This is due to the onset of a repetitive, multilayered drone that begins to emanate from the bubble. It is quite loud.

    KATASTROPHI
    Baaaaa…

    1 plugs his ears against the noise.

    At this point, the bubble has become luminescent, and quite bright, at that. Rippling diffractive patterns of light dance on every wall of the room – they are strongly reminicent of shallow water. Everyone is staring, now, even FLASH, though he does so weakly.

    Suddenly the bubble pops, catching us unaware. The entire scene is instantaneously silent, (though we can see people’s mouths moving) and everything is saturated with a pristene, phosphorescent white light. After about 3 seconds, the light “switches off” and sound slowly permiates the scene. We notice that a murky brown gas has been captured inside of the glass jar.

    SIMON looks relieved as he claps FLASH on the back.

    SIMON
    Well done, chaplin. Well done, indeed.

    FLASH manages a befuddled grin.

    JON, BECKY, and KATASTROPHI
    (Pounding their fists on the table) Hurrah for Algaebrew!

    A few seconds pass where nothing occurs save for people looking around or trying to remember what they were doing before, picking up their forks, etc… We notice the playback speed of the film picks up pace, until events are a rapid blur. We see people leave the kitchen – first 1, SIMON, and EMERSON, then eventually BECKY, JON, FLASH, AND KATASTROPHI. By the time the speed slowly creeps back down again, several hours have elapsed. It is the first inklings of dawn. SYD enters the kitchen in her pajamas and slippers. She takes out a small saucepan from a cabinet and a bag of frozen peas from the refridgerator. She pours some peas into the pan and adds water from the sink. Then, she places the pan on the stove and turns the plastic dial for the left-front burner. We hear the creaking of the heating elements against the pan. SYD stares out the window at the Pacific Ocean.

    We hear SMALLY’s whistling again, and this time, we can recognize a slow and curious refrain of The Wheelies ‘Everybody Dreams About Something’. The song continues throughout the next scene.

    EXT. MAIN DECK – THE MARDI

    The shot begins from the crow’s nest, and slowly zooms in.
    The Flower Company, or at least part of it, is assembled for a burial at sea. Attempts at formality are laughable. Most people seem to have had trouble putting on their clothes properly. Some people have disheveled their green shirts into headbands or bandannas. Others are wearing flowerpots on their heads. Someone has wrapped MR. KORADJI in the Koradji-emblazoned main sail, and moved his body to the edge of the ship. 1 and 2 are standing near the back. They speak softly, not overheard by the rest of the crew.

    (In Japaneese, subtitled,)

    1
    I told you he was up to something.

    2
    That crazy guy shot him with a shotgun. You can’t seriously believe he planned that. Hell, you even saw how it happened.

    1
    You never know…

    2
    It was totally random, 1.

    1
    You never know…

    [Pause.]

    2
    Well, what the hell? We haven’t reported anything yet, and you know, we were supposed to be bodyguards. And now, those big gears have shown up. I don’t like it. Not even a little…

    1: (In thought) Yeah.

    [Pause. The last note of whistled tune evaporates.]

    Two of the crew push MR. KORADJI into the ocean. A variety of instruments (specifically, a gong, two sousaphones, metalic chimes, tin-whistles, bubble trumpet, kazoo, viola, sarod, and a half-broken timpani) start to mash out an anarchic and satisfyingly pulpy requiem.

    1
    What about his plan?

    2
    Uh, you know there’s no way to change that at this point. Though, honestly, this bunch isn’t really that bad – though I will admit the are a tad strange.

    Some of The Flower Company have tired of playing their instruments and have started a largely impromptu game of tag. They are running amok all around the two conversing giants. A tremendously stoned FLOWPOETRY continues to whap the broken timpani in a steady, rhythmless manner.

    1
    (Slightly louder) Gotta hand it to that old bugger, he was a champion with revenge.

    [Pause.]

    2
    So it’s decided. We’ve got to abandon ship at some point. Sooner rather than later. (He suddenly has a thought, and points at 1.

    (1 is right along with him, and already knows what he is going to say. They speak simultaneously.)

    1 and 2
    The dinghy.

  13. BLACK SCREEN – WHITE LETTERING FADES IN READS “THE 14 LOST DAYS OF THE MARDI – PART II” – FADES OUT

    INT. INSIDE THE WALL CAVITY BEHIND THE SKIRTING BOARD OF THE ANCHOR HOLD – SMALL HOURS

    Two black rats twitch, sniffing and scratching their way past the camera. They reach a small hole in the KITCHEN in between two worktops, stopping side by side and look out and up into the bright light of the room. Camera shoots from behind the silhouetted rats who are suddenly perfectly still. We see JONNY in his Flower Company uniform yawning and shuffling towards the FREEZER. He places an almost empty rum bottle on the worktop opposite the hole we are looking out of and scratching his neck sleepily, begins to open the freezer door. There is a sudden blast of swirling kaleidoscopic colours behind the door, and JONNY drunkly shields his eyes, stepping backwards.

    JONNY
    Woah…

    He lackadasically pushes the freezer door closed and crouches down at the worktop where the nearly empty wine bottle sits, begins rummaging around in it, occasionally removing saucepans, a whisk, some weighing scales, and finally a box of cereal called SHIPSHAPES. He puts a handful of sugar-coated seahorses in his mouth and stops as one of the two rat silhouettes that we see in the foreground moves slightly. JONNY is looking directly into the camera, frozen mid-chew. He remains like that for several seconds before shaking his head and stands up. He picks up the rum bottle and pours the remaining rum into the box of SHAPSHAPES as he exits the kitchen to our right. The two rats wait a moment before scurrying out into the light of the room, pausing and sniffing the air before moving on. They head in unison in the direction of the FREEZER, where a line of candy coloured light down one side indicates that the door has not been closed properly. The first rat nudges through the gap and the other quickly follows. There is a small burst of light from behind the door seconds later to signify that something has happened to the rats. Screen fades to black.

    WHITE TEXT ACROSS BLACK SCREEN READS “54 DAYS LATER”

    INT. IN THE AIR DUCTS ABOVE THE KITCHEN – EARLY MORNING

    The same two black rats only they now look like hyper-real animations. One of them is standing front paws up staring through the air vent. The other reclines on its back with its front paws tucked behind its head, eyes closed, chewing on a cigarette candy stick.

    BUCKLEY (rat lying down)
    Anything?

    DOREEN (rat standing up)
    No, nothing.
    (pause)
    I’m starving.
    (pause)
    I’m eating for eleven you know.

    She pats at her swollen belly.

    BUCKLEY
    That’s great.

    DOREEN
    (turning)
    Buckley! Are you even listening to what I’m saying? I said I’m starving. They’ve not cooked anything new in weeks and I’m sick of scavenging.

    BUCKLEY
    (sighs)
    Want to split this candy stick?

    DOREEN
    No! I need some protein! You’re supposed to be a father, providing for us! Things have changed Buckley, we’re not kids anymore.

    BUCKLEY
    I’ve said before, if you’re that hungry then go and cook yourself something. I’ll keep watch.

    DOREEN
    (paw on hip, eyebrow raised)
    Yeah, that’ll be right. What about the pelicans?

    BUCKLEY
    Bah, pelicans schmelicans. Those big dumb birds couldn’t catch us in a million years. You sure you don’t want half of this candy stick?
    (he cocks a rear paw and farts, grinning)

    DOREEN
    Shhh! What’s that?

    BUCKLEY
    Sorry Doreen it’s the stale pizza, it doesn’t ag-

    DOREEN
    No you dipshit! Listen!

    BUCKLEY stops and sure enough there is a loud clanking down the ventilation shaft behind them, followed by a whizzing sound and the clatter of metal. BUCKLEY rolls quietly onto his paws, the remains of the candy stick hanging down from his lips.

    DOREEN CONTD.
    (whispering)
    What is it Buckley?

    BUCKLEY shrugs, and suddenly a large pale plastic pipe begins to move towards them down the ventilation shaft. A voice can clearly be heard shouting further down – it is SIMON PILER’s.

    SIMON
    That’s it Emerson! A little further! A little further!
    (inaudible shouts)
    It’ll be piping hot coffees all round first thing in the morning!

    The plastic pipe looms suddenly over them.

    BUCKLEY
    (whispering)
    Ruuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnn!

    WARCHALKING “DIVING BELL” plays as the two rats scamper along the air ducts and the camera follows them as they go, hurdling obstacles, tearing through cobwebs and puddles.

    DOREEN
    (breathless, running)
    I… I… told… you… we… should… have… built… a bloody nest!

    BUCKLEY
    (looks back over his shoulder, running)
    Quit busting my balls! This way!

    He takes a sudden left turn, slides a short way down a metal duct and shoots out of hole in the wall where a vent once was into the BRIDGE. The camera follows as he flies through the air capturing his cartoon face in a look of blind panic with the g-force tugging at his jowels. BUCKLEY lands on the carpet in a clumsy roll, bouncing like a ball of fur until he finally comes to rest against against a swivel chair in front of of two supercomputers, supported by his chin with his backside in the air, groaning. Seconds later we hear the shriek of DOREEN as she flies from the vent and rolls across the floor, arriving in the shot and colliding with BUCKLEY who is knocked into a vertical flip and lands on his back. While DOREEN catches her breath, the candy stick cigarette appears again in BUCKLEY’s mouth.

    DOREEN
    What… was… that thing!

    BUCKLEY
    Fuck knows.

    DOREEN
    (leaps to her feet and kicks BUCKLEY in the side, he YELPS in pain)
    That’s it! I’ve had enough of this ship! I want to go home! Right away! My mother was right about you – you’re a no good stinking fat lazy rat!
    (impersonating BUCKLEY’s drawl)
    Hey, let’s go to sea. I know this ship. Have an adventure. See the world.

    BUCKLEY
    Honey…

    DOREEN
    Don’t you “honey” me you no good stinking fat lazy rat! I ought to ditch your ass right now!
    (she is crying)

    BUCKLEY
    (rights himself, wincing at the pain of the kick)
    Doreen, I’m sorry. You’re just being hormon –
    (he checks himself quickly)
    You’re just wanting the best for our kids. I dig that. I feel the same way. But this ship…
    (he nuzzles into her and she responds)
    …I know it gets kinda weird, but it’s –
    (pauses)
    it’s exciting.

    DOREEN
    (sniffing)
    I just want to go home.

    BUCKLEY
    (smiling)
    What? Home? To the sewers? Baby, you’re forgetting what it was like there… the stench, the darkness. You really want to bring our kids up into that? With your mother sniffing round us eight days a week?
    (his face visibly shudders at the thought)
    This ship… this ship… is home. Sure, occasionally something happens like a big giant pipelike thing being poked down the air vents… and the food is… well the food isn’t something to write postcards about. But imagine… our kids will be ship-rats. Isn’t that something worth dreaming about? I mean, at the very least let’s see this out. Sail around the world. Right around the world. That would be something we could tell our grandkids wouldn’t it?

    DOREEN
    (smiles)
    I guess.

    BUCKLEY
    It’s just… well, the way these idiots are sailing this ship, we’ll be lucky to make it back alive, let alone any time in the next year.
    (looks around)
    You ever been in here before? What is this place?

    DOREEN
    Yeah, once or twice. They call it the “Bridge”.

    BUCKLEY
    Funniest looking bridge I ever saw.

    DOREEN
    The strange one comes here sometimes. The one with the skull mask and glasses. That went into the Freezer and never came out again. I think that wheel thing over there steers the ship.

    BUCKLEY
    Around the world?

    DOREEN
    Yeah.

    BUCKLEY scurries over to the desks that line the wall and begins to nimbly negotiate his way up towards the two supercomputers, swinging from arm-rests, edging along and finally heaving himself up onto the surface.

    DOREEN CONTD.
    Buckley, what are you doing?

    BUCKLEY
    Just nosing around. Hey, check out this map.

    Camera cuts to a shot from directly above BUCKLEY, the little black rat sniffing his way across the unfurled map with blue pins pushed into it and lines tracing the The Mardi’s progress since they set off from Jacksonville.

    DOREEN
    You’re not messing with anything are you?

    BUCKLEY
    (excitedly)
    Doreen, you should see this, you should see how far we’ve gone! We’re… we’re just off the coast of… Barbados I think.

    DOREEN
    That’s lovely, now can you come down please!

    BUCKLEY
    (nudging the ship’s tracking system with his nose, it pulses furiously making him jump backwards, before laughing)
    Woah!

    DOREEN
    What was that? Buckley?

    BUCKLEY
    A tracking system of some sort. Hmm. Hang on a minute.

    He scampers back along the desks to NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER and jumps onto the mouse. The screen glows for a second before exploding to life, a malevolent and crudely pixelated inhuman face. It appears to be huffing.

    DOREEN
    Buckley! What are you doing?
    (she anxiously looks towards the door)
    I think there’s someone coming!

    BUCKLEY
    (swivelling the mouse around the desktop, the computer eyes flick in his direction)
    I’m just riding a mouse.
    (pause)
    That sounded bad.

    NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER
    I am Niko Supercomputer.

    BUCKLEY
    Ah.

    NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER
    Here to gloat are you?

    BUCKLEY
    Um, no. Actually I was just wondering…

    DOREEN
    Buckley!

    BUCKLEY
    (to DOREEN)
    Just give me a second.
    (to NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER)
    I was wondering if it is possible to change the direction of the ship somehow?

    DOREEN
    Buckley, seriously, someone’s coming!

    NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER
    (snorts derisively)
    Nothing is impossible for Niko Supercomputer you little piss-shit.

    BUCKLEY
    Can you turn the ship around? We’re… well, if we’re going round the world then we’re going a very long way about it. Can you head for… hang on.
    (he scurries back to the map)
    The Panama Canal?
    (pause)
    Can you?

    NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER
    I already have.

    BUCKLEY
    Excellent!

    Close-up of the handle of the BRIDGE door turning, then to DOREEN’s face, eyeballs opening up with terror.

    DOREEN
    (through her teeth)
    Buckleeeeey!

    She darts under the desk and BUCKLEY scampers to the top back edge of the desk.

    BUCKLEY
    (whispering)
    One more thing… can you make this ship go any faster?

    BUCKLEY grins and leaps off the desk like an Olympic diver, disappearing into the shadows as UBERPAUL walks in carrying a sharp stick and heads towards the wall-mounted phone. He glances over his shoulder at the flickering face of NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER as he does.

    NIKO SUPERCOMPUTER
    (quietly)
    Fuck you!

    UBERPAUL
    (grins and ignores him, picks up the phone, no signal, taps the receiver several times, still no signal. He notices a note tacked to the wall directly above the phone and reads it aloud)
    “TELEPHONES TEMPORARILY OUT OF ORDER WHILE NEW COFFEE DISPENSER SYSTEM IS INSTALLED – IN THE MEANTIME PLEASE USE PAPER CUPS AND STRING – SIMON”
    Aw shit.

    UBERPAUL places the phone back on the receiver and makes to walk out. As he does he stops in the middle of the room and bends down to pick up a small brown object. Camera zooms in and focuses on it as he pinches it between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand, his blurred face squinting behind it as he holds it up to the artificial light of the BRIDGE. He sniffs it twice as the camera pans out. Across the screen in bold white letters are the words “HASHISH OR RAT POO?”

    UBERPAUL CONTD.
    (to himself)
    I’m pretty sure it’s –

    He doesn’t get a chance to finish the sentence. A huge WHACKING sound comes from nowhere as he drops to the ground and off-screen, revealing DEAD CANARIES standing behind him having swung a scrench and hit him on the back of the head. He has been there the whole time, standing in the shadows. If you review the film footage back to when the rats first tumbled into the room and BUCKLEY was flying through the air you will catch the sudden glimmer of teeth and eyes in the shadows of the room corner. DEAD CANARIES peers down at UBERPAUL and from behind him steps JANE GILMORE.

    JANE
    Oh shit. Did you have to hit him so hard?

    DEAD CANARIES
    You said knock him out!

    JANE
    I said “knock him out”, I didn’t say “beat his brains out with a…” – what do you call one of those things?

    DEAD CANARIES
    (holds up the scrench)
    A scrench apparently. I don’t know why.

    JANE
    It’s part-screwdriver, part-wrench.

    DEAD CANARIES
    Ah.

    JANE
    Is he still breathing?

    DEAD CANARIES squats down and camera follows him, profile of UBERPAUL’s unconscious face with DEAD CANARIES behind him.

    DEAD CANARIES
    (feeling around under UBERPAUL’s neck)
    Um, how do you check a pulse? I can’t find anything.

    JANE
    (horrified)
    No!

    DEAD CANARIES
    Oh no, wait! Yes, there it is. He’s fine. He’ll have a giant egg on his head mind you when he wakes up…

    JANE
    Quick, drag him through here before anyone sees us.

    They drag UBERPAUL (still holding his stick) through into the small corridor between the QUXODELIC RECORD STORE and the RECORDING STUDIO. The door closes shut behind them.

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