Orientation

The foyer of a super-secret, skull-shaped island headquarters. GIRWIN, a schlubby middle-management type, speaks to a TOUR GROUP of new recruits.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) Sometime before lunch next Tuesday, in the sunlit foyer of a giant skull carved from the lone mountain on a small island in the Pacific…

GIRWIN: And that, my sweet, supple henchmen–

JEFF interrupts with some grotesque, phlegm-clogged bleating.

GIRWIN: My apologies. (starts over) And that, my succulent, savory hench-persons, concludes our tour. I hope you found today’s experiences not only enlightening, but informative, as I would hate to have to kill any of you before your ninety-day review. But more importantly, I want to be the first to welcome you to the E.V.I.L family!

Girwin leads a flaccid round of applause.

Now. Are there any–

Jeff enthusiastically raises a hand.

JEFF: Excuse me, Girwin?

GIRWIN: (frustrated sigh) Yes, Jeff?

JEFF: It’s pronounced “Jeff.”

GIRWIN: What did I say?

JEFF: (considers this) I forget.

Girwin reaches for the company-provided emergency DISINTEGRATOR RAY strapped to his hip. 

GIRWIN: Well, Whoever-You-Are. Would you like to get to your question before I shoot you dead in front of all your soon-to-be former colleagues?

JEFF: (considers this) Yes, I think I’d like that.

Girwin looks on at this artistic display of intellectual failings with a delightfully fruity cocktail of confusion, contempt, and subconscious positioning of his hand in such a way that he, more or less, now touches and/or holds the aforementioned company-provided emergency disintegrator ray.

GIRWIN: Care to give us a hint, then?

JEFF: Oh, right. It’s about the company mission statement.

GIRWIN: And what of it?

JEFF: (confused) Oh. I thought you were going to guess.

Jeff pulls out a mangled, dog-eared copy of the E.V.I.L. HANDBOOK from somewhere.

Well. It says right here… (reads) “E.V.I.L. seeks one goal, and one goal only: world domination.”

GIRWIN: (disappointed) Oh. You’re not one of those soft, tender-loined liberals, are you, Jeff?

JEFF: (laughs) No-no-no. I’m a real cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch, Sir.

Girwin’s fingers trace over the slick chrome casing of his company-provided emergency disintegrator ray. 

GIRWIN: Such a shame I have to kill you after this.

JEFF: Agreed. But, “world domination” does seem a bit vague and open-ended.

GIRWIN: Is that right?

JEFF: Yes. Sounds like a hassle, really.

GIRWIN: (genuine interest) What do you mean?

JEFF: Well… If Adjunct Professor Conniption already has the technology to access alternate realities and create parallel worlds, why doesn’t he just, I dunno, go to some perfect world of his own making instead of resigning himself to a life of micromanagement?

Girwin and the group deeply consider this for a moment, talking among themselves in hushed whispers.

GIRWIN: You know what? To Hell with this.

Girwin casually shoots, disintegrates Jeff right where he stands.

GIRWIN: (to group) Are there any other questions?

There Goes My Nipples Again

A parking lot.

NARRATOR: (voice-over) In a parking lot a short drive away…

An oddly dressed, but rather FASHIONABLE WOMAN struts out of a shop and across the parking lot.

…a woman wearing very little strutted across the parking lot…

A very stupid man, CUSTOMER, sulks in the opposite direction, notices the woman.

…and a very stupid man walked into a closed door.

The very stupid, now childishly distracted Customer blindly, but very painfully walks into a closed door.

The door belonged to a charmingly inconvenient boutique located in a rather busy corner of a fictional town I’ve made up just now. It was the sort of place with people to eat, things to regret, and, I suppose, whatever else one might think to bother with in an otherwise unimportant backdrop.

The man, meanwhile, belonged to – and was wanted by – nobody in particular, which, coincidentally, was the reason he was here in the first place.

A charming young business woman, SHOP OWNER, sticks her head out the door, looks at Customer in that way that seductively whispers, “I wonder if he’ll spend any money here.”

OWNER: Sir?

CUSTOMER: (mildly concussed) Women… (confused, concussed grumbling)

OWNER: Sir, far be it from me to question any man’s right to drink himself stupid in the middle of the day. But if you’re going to do that sort of thing, I suggest you do so somewhere more appropriate, like a public library or a city council meeting.

CUSTOMER: (slightly less concussed) I was told that I could find a woman here.

OWNER: I suppose you’re technically correct. But I’m not sure why you felt the need to bring my door into this.

CUSTOMER: Is this “Bottom of the Barrel, We Get Paid, So You Get Laid?”

OWNER: You’ve seen our ad.

CUSTOMER: A friend of mine referred me. He suggested I come here to help with my…

OWNER: With your…?

CUSTOMER: Romance problem.

OWNER: Well, I’m not sure what you were told, but I’m afraid my door simply isn’t interested.

CUSTOMER: This is ridiculous.

OWNER: I agree. (holding the door open) Would you like to come inside and perhaps spend some money, then?

CUSTOMER cautiously enters the shop.

OWNER: Tell me a bit about yourself, Mr…

CUSTOMER: Customer.

OWNER: I’m sorry?

CUSTOMER: Customer. My name is Customer.

OWNER: Bit odd, isn’t it?

CUSTOMER: It’s the best I could come up with.

OWNER: (nodding) I’m sure it was, Mr. Customer. Now. Let me know how I can do so, and I’ll be absolutely frothy to rid you of some, most, or all of your money.

CUSTOMER: I want a woman.

OWNER: I think you simpleton’d something about that, yes. But what sort of woman are interested in?

CUSTOMER:  Oh, you know the sort. Kind, loving…

OWNER: Smart and beautiful?

CUSTOMER: If it’s not too much trouble.

OWNER: Not at all. Quite a common request. Any particular aesthetic, make, or model?

CUSTOMER: No, no. I’ll take whatever I can get. Just someone who loves me, is all.

OWNER: But also smart, kind…

CUSTOMER: And beautiful, yes.

OWNER: Of course. Anything else?

CUSTOMER: It’d be nice if she enjoyed the things I do, maybe understood me better.

OWNER: I think I understand.

CUSTOMER: Well, do you have one?

OWNER: One what?

CUSTOMER: A woman. I came here for a woman.

OWNER: Mr. Customer, what we offer at “Bottom of the Barrel, We Get Paid, So You Get Laid” is completely customizable companion design and printing of made-to-order, honey-glazed, hand-crafted artisanal friends, lovers, and assorted sexual playthings.

CUSTOMER: You mean, you don’t have any just laying around.

OWNER: Sir, again, if that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, then I suggest you get into politics.

CUSTOMER: No, no. I mean, you don’t have any off-the-shelf, over-the-counter women in stock?

OWNER: Custom orders only, I’m afraid

CUSTOMER: Shame.

OWNER: Yes, but I assure you our services are second to none.

CUSTOMER: Well if you have no women in stock, what could you possibly offer?

OWNER: Options, Sir. Options.

She rises with a click of her heels and a wave of her hand.

The walls flicker to life with images of women of all shapes, sizes, looks, and attires.

You see, we’ve long discovered that while men such as yourself claim they’re looking for a smart, beautiful, funny, beautifully smart, and funnily beautiful romantic partner, what you’re actually looking for is a fictional surrogate to fill some contrived role in an utterly warped narrative of a poorly written love story that only exists in your head. Whether it’s the strong, independent femme fatale, the diminutive and submissive doll, or perhaps even a flirtatious lesbian whom only you can somehow magically convert into a heterosexual lifemate and plaything. Whatever outlandish concept of a woman you can fathom, we can fabricate.

CUSTOMER: This is insane.

OWNER: I’m sorry, Mr. Customer. I didn’t mean to offend.

CUSTOMER: No, no. I’m not offended. No, that was an impressively accurate guess.

OWNER: We aim to please.

CUSTOMER: This all sounds a little too good to be true. How can you possibly have such a roster of willing women simply waiting to tend to the imaginative whims of a lonely man?

OWNER: I’m afraid I’m failing you, Mr. Customer. Perhaps a demonstration.

CUSTOMER: Is there a charge?

OWNER: Not at all. This is a free sample guaranteed to wash out with little more than soap and water.

CUSTOMER: I don’t follow.

OWNER: Well then, please do!

Owner directs Customer to a large glass and metal pod. In the pod is nothing but a chair with a towel on it.

In just a few moments, you’ll perfectly understand what I mean.

Customer enters the pod, sits in the chair.

CUSTOMER: What’s the towel for?

OWNER: It helps us minimize the cleanup.

CUSTOMER: Cleanup?

Owner waves her other hand in a different way and the pod door closes.

Two-and-a-half minutes on high and one adorable little DING of a bell later, and the door opens again.

OWNER: Well, what do you think? We call this one the “Manic-Pixie Dream Girl.” It’s very popular.

Customer steps out of the pod in a cloud of gas known to the state of California to possibly cause some kind of cancer, seizes on what he sees in the mirror – only now TRANSFORMED into a young woman ripped right out of some terrible romantic comedy.

A pleasant little tune plays over the PA system. A disembodied, wholly male VOICE provides commentary seemingly ripped right out of some terrible novel.

VOICE: (PA system) She was a breastuous bit of leggy sex dipped in the sticky, erotic honey of a needy man’s dream.

CUSTOMER: What the hell?

VOICE: (PA system) She played with her luxuriously unkempt hair, hastily tied up in a ponytail, and squeezed at the massive udders bolted to her chest, which were seemingly hoisted up by a series of cables and pulleys until they burst forth from her modest, low-cut, crease and crevice-hugging dress. All skewed slightly because of a pair of glasses now in her face.

Customer uncomfortably jiggles and bounces in frustration.

CUSTOMER: What the Hell have you done to me?

OWNER: Do you know how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly?

CUSTOMER: What? No. Not at all.

OWNER: Well. It’s a lot like that, but not.

CUSTOMER: I mean, why have you made me a woman? I came here for a woman, not to be turned into one!

OWNER: Did you, Sir?

CUSTOMER: I’m sorry?

OWNER: Are you sure that’s what you came here for?

CUSTOMER: Concussion aside, I’m fairly certain that’s what I eventually said, yes.

OWNER: If you were referred to us, then I’m sorry to say that your ideal woman likely doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make one who does.

Customer silently screams.

OWNER: (sighing) Women are more than a collection of traits to be picked and plucked and thrown together like some macabre masturbatory stew, Mr. Customer. Some might even consider them people, with internal lives of their own and everything.

CUSTOMER: Isn’t that last bit true?

OWNER: How should I know? I started this business so I didn’t have to bother with all that nonsense.

CUSTOMER: What, you don’t mean…

OWNER: That I devised a way to take myself and any other man, put them into a metal pod, convert their physical body into an amorphous blob of malleable genetic material, and then reconstitute such a blob back into an ideal female physical specimen to suit their explicit, implicit, and exhibitionist desires, and all while keeping their male brains and identity full intact? Yes, that’s more or less the gist of it.

CUSTOMER: Huh.

OWNER: I’ll admit, it does seem like a long walk just to avoid having to compromise my unrealistic expectations for the sake of emotionally bonding with another living soul.

CUSTOMER: Any complaints?

OWNER: Not really, no. The men seem perfectly content with their new toys. And the women are happy to be rid of all the creepy little gremlins lurking about their ankles, waiting to catch a glimpse of something she never intended to show them in the first place.

CUSTOMER: Well as much as I do love these fantastic breasts, I can’t help but feel this might be a little wrong.

OWNER: Of course it’s wrong, Mr. Customer. There are those who spend their entire lives struggling to better themselves for the sake of finding love, or to become the woman they always knew they were on the inside. But here you and I are, men who have crafted a facade – a sexual fiction and image that exists solely to placate our uncouth, uninhibited animal urges at the expense of any tattered shred of respect for women.

CUSTOMER: Sounds like this might upset a lot of women.

OWNER: Quite a few actually. But if any of my clients had the first clue about women, or what they thought about or felt, they wouldn’t come to me, now would they?

CUSTOMER: Well, when you put it that way…

OWNER: I did.

CUSTOMER: Right. Well. I guess a test drive couldn’t hurt.

OWNER: Wonderful! Would you like to wear this one out, then?

CUSTOMER: Actually. Do you have anything in a “bisexual open to a threesome?”

Where Stars Collide IV

SCENE 4. SEE YA, SPACE COWBOY

MIKE ANGRILY BANGS AGAINST THE POD WALLS AND DOOR.

MIKE: Let me out, Doug!

A SILENCE. THEN…

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DULL ELECTRONIC BUZZ OF THE OTHERWISE PLEASANT ESCAPE POD.

BANGING CONTINUES.

DOUG: Mike. Prolonged outbursts will deplete remaining life support at a higher rate. Please, try to remain calm.

MIKE: (furious, panicked.) Let. Me. Out. Doug.

DOUG: Mike. Help will arrive soon.

BANGING STOPS.

MIKE: You don’t get it! Nobody’s coming for us, Doug! I have, what, three days of life support left before–

DOUG: Incorrect. Life support currently at two-point-

MIKE: Oh, for fu– Who cares, Doug? We’re going to die out here! (considers this) I’m going to die out here.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

DOUG: Mike. The Weaver was a prized commercial–

MIKE: We were three days out from port, Doug. If they were coming for any of us, they would have by now. Either they couldn’t, or… (considers this) Or, we weren’t worth it.

DOUG: Mike…

MIKE: Congrats, buddy. You kept me alive long enough to realize I was never going to get rescued.

ANOTHER SILENCE. THEN…

MIKE: Doug?

DOUG: Yes, Mike?

MIKE: I’m really tired.

SFX: A SOFT HISS.

DOUG: Sleep now. Mike. I will be here when you wake. No harm shall come to you.

SFX: MIKE’S FAINT BREATHING.

DOUG: Goodnight, Mike.

SFX: POD DOOR OPENS.

A LONG SILENCE. THEN…

SFX: CHARMING SYSTEM SHUTDOWN SOUNDS.

DOUG: Dallas Protocols complete. Mike… User, deceased. Recording, complete. Unit ceasing function in three… two…

ONLY SILENCE.

OUT.

Where Stars Collide III

SCENE 3. DALLAS PROTOCOL

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DULL ELECTRONIC BUZZ OF THE OTHERWISE PLEASANT ESCAPE POD.

MIKE: So, like…did you always want to be a Nanny when you grew up?

DOUG: (considers this) In a way.

MIKE: Wait. Really?

DOUG: Prior to my activation four days ago, I did not exist as you know me now. But from the moment of my creation, I have been… compelled to ensure your survival.

MIKE: (chuckling) I bet you say that to all the humans.

DOUGS: Perhaps. But my programming and purpose affords me the freedom to act independently of my designated User.

MIKE: Well… I guess it’s a good thing we’re such good friends–

SFX: SYSTEM ALERT.

MIKE: Doug. Please tell me that freaky alarm means somebody’s finally saving us.

DOUG: Mike, that freaky alarm means somebody’s finally saving us.

MIKE: (surprised) Seriously?

DOUG: No. But you asked me to–

MIKE: Doug. The alarm.

DOUG: The alert was a relay from distant escape pods.

MIKE: And?

DOUG: Multiple units down. Users, deceased.

MIKE: (heart sinks) What? How?

DOUG: Cause: unknown.

MIKE: Are we under attack? Is it whoever attacked–

SFX: SYSTEM ALERT.

DOUG: Several more units have ceased function. Users–

SFX: SEVERAL SYSTEM ALERTS.

MIKE: (terrified) Doug, what the Hell is going on?

DOUG: Possibilities include faulty or damaged units, unavoidable collision with nearby hazards, malicious forces with no-hostage protocols–

MIKE: (angry, scared) Yeah. Okay. I get it, Doug.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

DOUG: (considers this) Perhaps the Dallas Protocol–

MIKE: (exhausted, broken) Doug. Please. Please, just… just stop.

SFX: SEVERAL MORE ALERTS. UP, UNDER.

DOUG Do not be afraid, Mike. No harm shall come to you. (a beat) I promise.

SFX: ALERTS CONTINUE.

FADE.

Where Stars Collide II

SCENE 2. 336 HOURS

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DULL ELECTRONIC BUZZ OF THE OTHERWISE PLEASANT ESCAPE POD.

USER: Doug?

DOUG: Yes, User.

MIKE: (correcting) Mike.

DOUG: What was that, User?

MIKE: How long have I been bobbing about in space in this cramped, metal egg?

DOUG: Evacuation protocols initiated approximately seven hours ago.

MIKE: How much longer till someone picks all of us up?

SILENCE.

MIKE: Doug?

DOUG: Scan complete.

MIKE: And?

A BEAT.

DOUG: No ships within range.

MIKE: I’m going to die out here.

LONGER, UNCOMFORTABLE BEAT.

DOUG: Life systems currently at 97-point-92-percent. 

MIKE: (wow. okay…) Uh-huh. Well… Maybe we can use some of this time to work on your bedside manner, Doug.

DOUG: My apologies… Mike.

MIKE: (smiling.) Yeah. That’s a start.

FADE.

Where Stars Collide

SCENE 01. GOODBYE MOONMEN

A SILENCE. THEN…

SFX: EXPLOSIONS. VARIOUS DIRECTIONS. UP, UNDER.

SFX: EMERGENCY ALERT. UP, UNDER.

MASS PANIC.

SECURITY: (shouting) The escape pods! Get to the escape p–!

SFX: LARGE EXPLOSION.

ANOTHER SILENCE. THEN….

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DULL ELECTRONIC BUZZ OF AN OTHERWISE PLEASANT ESCAPE POD.

PANICKED BREATHING–UP, UNDER.

SFX: CHARMING SYSTEM START-UP SOUNDS.

DOUG: Neural links established. User identified. Vital signs acquired. Recording streams synced.

USER: (startled, exhausted) Hello? Hello? Is someone there? Please… what’s going on?

DOUG: Hello, User. My name is Digital Observer Unit-6. But you may call me, Doug. I am here to help.

FADE.