ScriptFrenzy 2011: "Dead and Breakfast", pages 71-76

by Diane Duane

Dead and Breakfast poster


(Back to pages 65-70)


Gunter makes his way THROUGH THE BUILDING cautiously. Before entering a given space, he puts just enough of his FACE THROUGH A WALL to see in without being seen himself — a humorous but spooky effect. In this way he PASSES THROUGH several dark and unoccupied OFFICES: then PUTS HIS FACE THROUGH A GIRLIE CALENDAR on the wall of the downstairs security office and sees that it’s OCCUPIED. Gunter PULLS BACK quickly. NB: These through-matter passages make a tiny soft SOUND like an intake of breath, which can alert someone to them in a quiet place.

The GUARD in the office HEARS this little sound, GLANCES UP, sees nothing: goes back to his work. Note that most of the people working in this building have no knowledge of their company’s traffic in “residuals”, and so will be as frightened by ghosts as anyone normally would.

Gunter BACKS OFF and tries another way, heading toward the side of the building where the vans were entering. He passes through more OFFICES, a CLOSET full of janitorial equipment, a LADIES’ ROOM (with slight embarrassment): comes into a stairwell: listens — hears nothing in the stairwell itself, but downstairs, the sound of VOICES, faint.

Gunter goes down the stairs, then has to throw himself hastily through a wall to avoid being seen/run into by two TECHS throwing the “basement level” stairwell door open and going up the stairs.

Nah, it doesn’t bother me, it’s just the shapes they had when they were alive. They’re just sort of an ectoplasmic tape recording that plays itself over and over where they used to hang out. They can’t think, or feel anything.

I guess you’re right. It’s just the way they look, sometimes. That little girl…

I know…you hear them yelling, you feel bad at first. But it’s like lobsters when you drop ’em in boiling water, they can’t really feel pain as such…

Gunter’s head appears from the wall on hearing the line about the “little girl”. He looks angry. His face vanishes again.[/scrippet]

Another sequence of rooms: some dark and containing nothing but computer equipment. One of them is dark, but windowed, with Venetian blinds inside. Gunter peers cautiously out.

Below is the main “shop floor” which lies underneath Erickson Computing: a large, windowless, high-ceilinged clean room. Toward its street side, there’s room for vans to drive in (an open roll-up garage door at one side leads to the driveway the van went down). The loading / unloading area is separated from the clean room by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, with electric airlock doors. Two vans are parked here, and ND TECHNICIANS unload equipment from them, including two of the “portable pentagrams” as seen in the van earlier. They bring this equipment through into the clean space. Gunter looks down at it all in amazement and increasing horror.

Mein Gott, was ist das?

In the middle of the floor, protected by a low railing, is a fifty-foot wide version of the portable pentagrams’ circular “motherboard”. The complex design of this master pentagram shimmers and sparkles with rainbow light, and a deeper, dissonant HUMMING noise comes from it. At the bottom point of the pentagram “star,” nearest the office where Gunter hides, is more electronic equipment. Against the far wall is an assembly line featuring large and small machinery, and some large, industrial style, heavy-duty fuse-boxes up on the wall. More ND TECHS are loading the machinery at the left-hand end with small objects impossible to make out at this distance, and removing and packaging what seem like the same small objects at the right-hand end of the line.

One portable pentagram is brought over by a ND TECH to the equipment station near him, and mated to it. Switches are thrown, that HUM gets louder, and LIGHT AND COLOR FLOW from the portable pentagram into the main one. Gunter’s whole body is visibly PULLED OUT OF SHAPE toward the main pentagram. He he has to BRACE himself against the window to keep from being sucked in.

And suddenly the middle of the master pentagram is FULL OF PEOPLE. Young and old, male and female, in the clothes of many time periods, they stare in fear, then rush to the edge of the pentagram, HAMMERING to get out. But the light shimmering around the circle keeps them in.

At a larger control console, other switches are THROWN by another ND TECH. The lines of the star in the pentagram begin to GLOW. One by one, the people trapped inside are SUCKED toward those lines. As they SCREAM in horror, each person DISSOLVES into a whirl of SOULFIRE and is sucked into the pentagram circuitry. Each time a flash of LIGHT RUNS along the circuitry, out of the pentagram and down the cables and conduits leading to the “assembly line”.

Gunter, hanging on to keep from being pulled through the wall, watches as TECHS at the start of the assembly line feed in small CHIPS. Each is a smaller version of the pentagram design. Each time a pulse of light comes from the master pentagram, the machinery LASER-ENGRAVES the light and the soul trapped in it onto one of the chips. The chip then passes down the line to TECHS at the other end, who slip it into an anti-static envelope, then into labeled boxes: FOR ERICKSON SUPER*STAR PDA/SMARTPHONE, FOR ERICKSON STELLATION MULTICORE PC, FOR ERICKSON epsCETERA 360 SMART-SECRETARY, FOR ERICKSON MULTICASH INTELLIREGISTER, etc.

The boxes are put into larger packing cases and loaded into Erickson vans, which drive away, each stopping at the garage door to swipe a door-opener card.

The whole process goes on more or less continuously as emptied portable pentagrams are taken away and new ones slotted in.

Gunter, horrified, has decided on a plan of action. He MELTS through the wall of that room into the next as a new portable pentagram is slotted into place and a TECH starts throwing its switches.

Unseen, Gunter works his way around through the walls of the surrounding offices toward the assembly line. The “decanting” process starts again, but only a few people appear in the main pentagram. Gunter looks at it as he appears out of the concrete wall near the garage door, then REACTS with horror. In the middle of the pentagram, terrified, is Sarah.

(sotto; horrified)
Ach nein!

Gunter RUNS runs out into the loading space, toward one of the small panel vans with a side door open; inside is an open TOOL KIT. Gunter grabs a WRENCH and SINKS down into the floor so that only the hand with the wrench sticks up. With great effort, like someone submerged in molasses, Gunter makes his way through the solid concrete behind a TECH who’s carrying in another portable pentagram. The Tech never sees him. Gunter stays close behind the Tech, following him in through the airlock and the barrier.

On the far side the Tech goes one way, and Gunther’s hand and the wrench another, off behind a BIG MACHINE. In the middle of the room, more Techs prepare for the transfer of the souls to the chip-making machine. Gunter HAULS HIMSELF UP out of the floor, looking terrible — even a dead person has trouble going through so much solid matter in a hurry. Once on his feet, Gunter looks up at the big fuseboxes. They’re high up. But there’s a ladder hanging near a wall-mounted box that says FIRE and has other emergency equipment. Gunther grabs the ladder, puts it up against the wall.

From behind, a TECH tries to grab him — and FALLS THROUGH him. Gunter turns, and without the slightest hesitation hits the Tech backhanded with the wrench. The Tech goes down.

(“sorry”, but not very)
‘Schuldigung —

Gunter scrambles up the ladder, hauls the door of the first fusebox open, SLAMS the wrench into it. SPARKS fly. Most lights go out. The “assembly line” stops, goes dark. But the main pentagram is still bright.

More TECHS now swarm in to pull the ladder out from under Gunter. They quickly succeed, since Gunter doesn’t weigh anything. But as he drops to the floor, Gunter pulls off a second Tech’s amp meter (slung over his shoulder in a pouch) and CLOUTS him with it, then spins and with great accuracy swings the meter up between a third Tech’s legs, CONNECTS. The poor guy SHRIEKS and goes down.

‘Schuldigung — ‘Schuldigung —

He ditches the meter, picks up the fallen wrench, regains the ladder and puts it up next to the next, bigger fusebox. Up the ladder Gunter, HAULS the fusebox door open — when more TECHS pull the ladder out from under him yet again.

Gunter clutches the fusebox door, DANGLES off it, trying to hit the circuitry inside the box. On the shop floor, a SENIOR TECH yells, points at another ND TECH.

It’s a residual! Boost the gain! Just boost the gain!

The ND TECH does something at the panel. The HUM gets louder, the light of the main pentagram gets brighter. Gunter is STRETCHED out of shape, pulled toward the main pentagram. He hangs onto the door of the big fusebox, and swings back and forth, FIGHTING the stretching effect. But it’s winning —

In a last desperate effort, Gunter HITS the circuitry in the fusebox hard with the wrench. It SHORTS OUT with sparks and smoke and the ROOM GOES DARK. Only the pentagram retains a faint glow, as if there’s power in the design itself.

HUBBUB AND CONFUSED SHOUTS in the near-total darkness. Gunter falls, crouches gasping on the floor, the gets up and SPRINTS toward the pentagram, where Sarah still stands.


He GRABS her by the hand and runs, PULLING her with him. They run out of the clean room and through the wall as ALARMS start behind them and DIM LIGHTS come on.

Hurry up! We’ve got loose residuals! We’ve gotta clean them up!


In front of the coffee shop, Joy stands and waits. Gunter and Sarah RUN to her.

You’re back! Sarah! Are you okay, honey?

I’m fine.

We must get out of here, right now. Have you figured out how?

There aren’t any cabs here, and even if we called one, it would take time to get here.

Joy looks down the street toward the little bus depot. A double-decker “Routemaster” London bus stands there idling with its door open: its driver is in the next-door shop (outside the shop, a sidewalk sign says NATIONAL LOTTERY — 23 MILLION THIS WEEK!).

We could take a bus…

Then Joy’s EYES LIGHT UP with a wicked idea. Gunter gets the same idea simultaneously.

We could take a bus!

Gunter and Sarah and Joy run to the bus, DIVE into it just as —

ALARM LIGHTS start flashing on the outside of the Erickson building. Gunter throws himself into the driver’s seat, hurriedly looks over the controls.

Do you know how to drive this?

I flew a Junkers Eighty-eight bomber! How hard can this be?

Now security people from the building RUN OUT toward them.

Gunter SLAMS the bus into gear. It LURCHES out into the road, scattering the security people. Joy and Sarah clutch desperately to the rails or straps in the bus.[/scrippet]

(To pages 77-82)

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ScriptFrenzy 2011: “Dead and Breakfast”, pages 77-82 | Out of Ambit April 17, 2011 - 2:07 pm

[…] (back to pp 71-76) […]

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