ScriptFrenzy 2011: "Dead and Breakfast", pages 83-90

by Diane Duane

Dead and Breakfast poster

 

(back to pp 77-82)

[scrippet]INT. ORMONDE HOTEL BREAKFAST ROOM — MORNING

The aftermath of breakfast. Tables are pulled together. Joy and Harry sit over cups of tea with Gunter, Lorna and Pario. Joy’s cellphone and room key lie on the table. Doris moves by in b.g., carrying breakfast things, looking distressed. Joy looks after her sympathetically.

JOY
Still no George.

GUNTER
We must assume they have him.

LORNA
This is so horrible. Think of it — our people being snatched off the streets and stuffed into the chips that go into these.

HARRY
No wonder we manage to pack so much processing power into the things. We’re stuffing whole human minds into the electronics.

PARIO
I for one do not want to spend eternity running somebody’s apps!

JOY
Or in a landfill when the rest of the hardware wears out.

HARRY
(guilty)
No landfills. The chip’s recyclable.

LORNA
But what can we do?[/scrippet]

[scrippet]

Gunter produces the manual, riffles through it until he finds the right page: hands it to Harry. Harry reads.

GUNTER
I was looking through this last night. I do not understand all the terminology, but the small pentagrams used for capture all seem to derive their functionality from the big one. All the chips do, too.

HARRY
It looks that way, doesn’t it. If you could disrupt the big one…

GUNTER
It would take more than disruption. It would have to be destroyed. But its destruction would free every soul imprisoned in one of these chips.

HARRY
And every device with a chip in it would stop working.
(implications sink in)
And then Erickson Computers…

Joy looks at him with compassion, takes his hand again.

GUNTER
The question is to find out how.

Doris finally comes over to them, sits down in a spare chair. She’s been crying: every now and then she starts to leak tears again, and dabs at her eyes with a napkin.

GUNTER
No news.

DORIS
No.

HARRY
Shouldn’t we, I don’t know, call the police….

DORIS
Oh, yes, why don’t we do that.
(angry but with humor)
“I’m sorry, Constable, but Mr. Lewisham is missing. Yes, now that you mention it he did die five years ago, and now we can’t find him anywhere — ”

HARRY
They’d get you for wasting police time.

JOY
This is not a waste of time! This is a human life we’re talking about!

HARRY
“Life??”

Joy gets up and stalks back and forth, waving her arms.

JOY
It’s a human something! Harry, he gave you good racing tips, he taught me how to say “Chumley,” he was nice to me! Now he’s missing and you don’t even care??

HARRY
Of course I care, it’s just that —

JOY
It’s that Erickson’s mixed up in this, and you’re scared —

HARRY
That the company will go under, and I’ll lose my job, and in this market probably never get another one? Yes I’m scared!

JOY
Next to what they’re doing to all these dead people, does it matter? It’d be better to starve than to make money by slavery! That’s all this is! We abolished slavery, Harry!

HARRY
Someone else abolished it! I didn’t expect to have to do it again!

Joy’s eyes are on him.

JOY
We can’t just sit here. Life’s too short.
(glance at the others)
Sorry.

HARRY
I’ve got to get going. The show opens at nine thirty.

GUNTER
We’ve got to do something…

JOY
I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it by ourselves, though. We need help.

DORIS
From who?

GUNTER
Let me see what I can arrange.

He gets up, EXITS. Harry gets up too. Joy stops him, gives him a kiss, and a long close look, loving, but determined.

JOY
You have a good day now. See you tonight?

HARRY
Yeah. I’ll call.

A guilty glance at the cellphone. He EXITS.

Harry passes by the front desk just as Gunter is finishing a phone call. The two look at each other, not quite hostile, not quite certain, either.

HARRY
Listen. At first I was going to tell you, if you’re messing with my wife, you’re a dead man. So to speak.

GUNTER
(not offended: humorous)
I understand you. But if you were not married, and if I were not a dead man, you would have competition.
(beat)
The phrase is much overused these days, but she is very special, your Joy. The world looks new to her, even when it is not. This is a great gift.

HARRY
Sometimes it can be a great pain in the neck.

GUNTER
Yes. But whatever else may happen, you will never be bored.
(embarrassed)
I have said too much. But I have much to thank her for.
(glances at the clock)
You will be late.

HARRY
Not as “late” as you are.

GUNTER
Ow.

Harry smiles, EXITS.

Joy comes out, stuffing the room key into one of her skirt’s secret pockets, the cellphone into an outer one.

JOY
So?

GUNTER
About noontime we must go to a meeting.

JOY
Of dead people? Where?

GUNTER
(slight smile)
Where no one will notice.

EXT. SPEAKER’S CORNER — DAY

The famous corner at Hyde Park. Various groups of tourists, etc, stand listening to enthusiastic crazies of differing kinds. We see several of these groups — flat-earthers, anti-immigration nuts, “Rights for Roaches” — and then the last group, gathered around amost unusual speaker, without a soapbox: Joy. A pair of BOBBIES walks right past her and the peculiar group of LISTENERS — some most oddly dressed, apparently from all kinds of time periods. Just one more group of nuts, and they’re not making any trouble….

JOY
You have to do something! Stand up for your rights!

ND DEAD PERSON
What rights? We’re dead!

JOY
See, that’s exactly the mindset that’s got you where you are. You don’t just wait around for someone to give you rights! You have to assert yourselves! And you’ve got to help your fellow, uh, previously living types.

ND DEAD PERSON
But if we go in there, we’ll just be caught the way all the others were. Better to leave things the way they are. Maybe they’ll never find some of us, if we keep quiet.

ND DEAD PERSON 2
If we make ourselves noticeable, they’ll start hunting us down!

JOY
They’re hunting you down now. And they’re doing it faster all the time to keep their company growing. If you don’t do anything, who’s going to do something when your turn comes?

GUNTER
(ironic, angry)
What was it they said? “When they came for the gays, I didn’t speak up. When they came for the Jews, I didn’t speak up. When they came for the Gypsies, and the Catholics, I didn’t speak up. When at last they came for me, there was nobody left to speak.”

People look sad, but no declarations of support are forthcoming. Joy and Gunter exchange a glance, disappointed.

Then the group REACTS to a new arrival, bowing or curtseying and getting out of the way as a YOUNG WOMAN in her late thirties, with elaborately styled red hair and wearing a rich light-colored gown and jeweled ruff, walks through the crowd. Joy STARES as she recognizes QUEEN ELIZABETH THE FIRST from the Gheeraerts portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.

ELIZABETH I
What’s this? A meeting called without my countenance? Manners hereabouts are changed of a sudden.
(to Joy)
Or missing entire. Hast no courtesy for your Queen?

JOY
(awestruck but holds her ground)
Sorry, my people don’t do queens. But some of them we remember, because they were just hot.

ELIZABETH I
(an evaluatory beat)
True respect’s worth a hundred false bows. We’ll let it pass. Is it true, what rumor tells? You’ve found where my lost people are taken?

GUNTER
(with a slight bow)
Some are not your people, Majest├Ąt.

ELIZABETH I
If their souls are bound to my England, they are my responsibility. If they are in danger, I must protect them. What villain’s to blame?

JOY
A guy named Erickson.

Elizabeth moves into the center of the gathering, and the dead gather around her: it’s plain who’s running this show.

ELIZABETH I
Some renegade baron? We’ll settle his case. Where are his forces assembled?

GUNTER
Down by the City.

ELIZABETH I
Then gather our folk and we’ll away.

ND DEAD PERSON
But madam, what can we possibly do?

ELIZABETH I
We can make a plan, and fight! Too long our people have been stolen away. Now we know why. But living or dead, there’ll be no slaves in my country! Worse than dead I’d be if I stood idly by while such evil was done to those around me. All must be free in a free land!

A STIR goes through the crowd: faces look more involved —

ELIZABETH I
We must seek out the miscreants and fight for our people, fight the evildoers wherever we find them! We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them in the streets; we will never surrender!

A CHEER from the dead (and approving NOD as the bobbies pass again). Joy gives the Queen a look.

JOY
The speech sounds kind of familiar.

ELIZABETH I
He’s not here to complain. And ’twas a good speech. Now lead on to where we may talk. We’ll lay a plan shall make this dastard Erickson rue that his mother bore him.

JOY
First thing we have to do is get you some clothes.

ELIZABETH I
(a not-amused look)
I have clothes.

JOY
Something less splendid. A disguise.

ELIZABETH I
Ah! Lead on.

The group EXITS past the bobbies, who watch them go as they walk on about their rounds.

BOBBY 1
Some re-enactment society?

BOBBY 2
Suits me. Bring back those old-fashioned values, that’s the ticket.
[/scrippet]

(to pages 91-95)

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2 comments

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