CUT IN:

A BLACK AND WHITE TELEVISION SCREEN shows an overflowing crowd of frantic MEN and WOMEN falling off a rocky cliff and into a roaring SEA OF FLAMES.

INT. OFFICE

Covering an entire wall, A VIDEO SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM depicts different angles of people being burned alive.

In the foreground, writing behind a CLUTTERED DESK in a CLUTTERED ROOM, sits JOHN, crowned with a tuft of silvery white hair and dressed business-casual.

STEPS can be heard just outside the HEAVY, RUSTED, STEEL DOOR opposite John’s desk. There’s a courtesy knock before DANIEL enters, revealing an ASCENDING STAIRCASE behind him and a CRIMSON NUMBER 1 PAINTED ON THE FRONT OF THE DOOR.

Daniel’s FADED AND SLIGHTLY BURNED SUIT hangs off his pale and scrawny body. A NAME TAG is pinned to the lapel of his jacket, which simply reads: 2

Without looking up, John motions for Daniel to sit.

With NO CHAIRS and hardly anywhere to walk, Daniel moves a stack of ancient books and scrolls to one side and gingerly sits on a small, rickety coffee table.

After stuffing some papers in a folder, John finally looks up, beaming.

DANIEL
Would it kill you to have a
chair in here?

JOHN
Takes up too much space.

DANIEL
Didn’t you say you wanted to
get rid of some things?

JOHN
I want to get rid of a lot of
things, I just haven’t had the
time. The holidays are fast
approaching.

John turns to his surveillance system and admires the video feed for a moment.

Daniel tries to position himself better on the table.

JOHN (CONT’D)
But, I’m finally going to have
that time. I’m going to have
all the time in the world.

DANIEL
(casually)
What world?

John turns back around and holds up a FILE, grinning mischievously.

JOHN
The next world.

John tosses Daniel the file. Daniel skims through the papers inside.

JOHN (CONT’D)
Timing is important. Read me
the first one.

Daniel wipes his face and clears his throat.

DANIEL
Michael of Tennessee, has in
his possession an airborne and
highly contagious super-virus.
Michael, a chemical engineer,
was fired from his job shortly
after his wife of ten years left
him. He has become a fervent
reader of the Book of Revelation
and a staunch believer in the
End of Days.

JOHN
He has good taste.

DANIEL
Next: Gabriel of New York, killed
a man last night in a drunken brawl.
He fled the scene and there were
no witnesses. A bike messenger–

Daniel looks up from the file.

DANIEL (CON’T)
Is that right? Gabriel?
A messenger?

John nods gleefully.

DANIEL (CONT’D)
Gabriel now sleeps on his
sister’s couch, guilty, paranoid,
and drinking himself deeper
and deeper into despair, blah,
blah, blah…

JOHN
Skip to the bottom.

DANIEL
Gabriel will die. In three days.
(beat)
So?

JOHN
Gabriel is the key. The virus
is the means. Michael will
connect them.

DANIEL
Why am I here?

JOHN
You’ve been naughty.

DANIEL
I mean, what’s the job?

JOHN
To spread the virus.

DANIEL
Hasn’t that been tried? A lot?

JOHN
Not with our very own messenger
of death. He’s on a different
kind of ledge than the carrier
of some deadly plague. He has
blood on his hands. He feels
responsible. Depressed. Scared.
Hungover. His soul is ripe for
this kind of project.

Daniel seems skeptical.

JOHN (CONT’D)
As you very well know, some of
the world’s worst offenders
weren’t evil or even deranged,
they were just terrified.

Daniel closes the file and fans himself.

DANIEL
How’d you get this?

JOHN
(smirking)
I have friends in high places.

DANIEL
That’s still not funny.

JOHN
Oh, relax, you’re basically just
escorting a mentally unstable man
from Tennessee to New York. What
you should concern yourself with
is the virus: Michael must give
it to Gabriel himself, this is
key. And he must accept it.

DANIEL
How do I get him to do that?

JOHN
I’ll be persuading Gabriel
myself.

DANIEL
You’re going up? Be still my heart.
Then what happens?

John sticks his hand out, Daniel reluctantly offers back the file.

JOHN
Gabriel will then take it from
there and all will unfold naturally.
Also: If we don’t want to run
into any heavenly obstacles we
must follow the rules. Minimal
residual presence.

Daniel ponders the matter while wiping his forehead.

JOHN (CONT’D)
Daniel, this is the big one.
The one I’ve been waiting for.
This will finally change things.
All faith will end after this.
In anything. Ever.

Daniel raises an eyebrow.

JOHN (CONT’D)
It’s our ticket outta here.

DANIEL
I’ll buy that.

John and Daniel stand.

JOHN
As far as Michael goes, remember,
no force, this is an unstable
man you’re dealing with. He’s
had a few priors. If he decides
to spill the virus early for
some reason, all I’ll have is
some cheap, containable, medical
emergency with a few thousand
dead, if that, and all this will
be for nothing.

DANIEL
Duly noted. May I carry a gun?

JOHN
What did I just say? This has
to run smoothly. We’re also on
a tight budget.

DANIEL
Nice surveillance system.

Ignoring Daniel, John opens a drawer, takes out a CELL PHONE, and tosses it at him.

JOHN
But you can use this!

Daniel feigns excitement.

JOHN (CONT’D)
(smiling)
See you in New York.

CUT TO BLACK

 

Luis Cordoba is an SVA graduate from the Screenwriting Department. He currently works at the Writing Resource Center.