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Subways and High Plains

New -- October 1, 2003

 Multiple Choice

Episode II

 

INT: ANCIENT SUBWAY TUNNEL

David enters amidst a rush of water into a deserted, trashed subway tunnel via an old covert.  The water ceases to flow just as he hits the ground, leaving him suddenly alone.  Shakily, he begins to pick himself up.  Then he glances around at the scene, one with all the ingredients of an environmental hell -- dirty, dark and dismal, chemical-laced water standing in occasional puddles, no other signs of life, and a deadly silence.  Davidís mouth drops open for a moment -- until he abruptly wrinkles his nose and frowns heavily.

DAVID

Ah, gee.  A stench to make a maggot gag!

With one hand over his nose and mouth, he peers into the darkness.  Everything in sight is decidedly rotten, decayed, and/or dying.  Leaks from the overhead are dripping onto the floor where they sizzle in the manner of acid being dropped into water.  Davidís eyes widen as he looks at the apparent chemical reaction, and then carefully moves away from the two or three, most reactive puddles.  He walks hesitantly, constantly looking around and occasionally tripping over debris.  Quietly, in a very low voice, he breaks the silence.

DAVID

Hello...?  Anybody home?  Anybody...?

The only sounds are the dripping and Davidís heavy breathing.  As he cautiously looks around, he shudders.  Then he begins walking down what appears to be a main tunnel -- taking great care to be quiet and not get caught in the scattered debris.  Rounding a small bend, he suddenly detects a movement in a darkened corner.  His first reaction is to freeze and step back.  But then, peering closer, he manages to glimpse a flash of long hair.  A bleak, hopeful smile of possible recognition crosses his face, as Cathy steps into the light.

DAVID

Oh, thank God!  Maybe now we can make some sense of what the crapís going on here!

Glancing upward and throwing his head back, David breathes a heavy sigh of relief.  Cathy seizes the opportunity of his not watching her to lunge at him, swinging a previously concealed, very large knife.  At the same time, she trips on an unstable pile of rubble, losing her balance, and just missing slashing Davidís midsection.  David, out of the corner of his eye, sees her attack just enough for him to instinctively dodge the knife.  She curses and readies herself for another attack, while David stares wide-eyed at his former lover.

DAVID

What the hell...!?

 

CATHY

Time for some meat, big boy!

David starts backing up.  He stumbles back upon some rusted pipe, and in a quick reflex grabs a short piece to use as a club.  He raises the rusted pipe as if to defend himself.

DAVID

I donít know whatís going on, Cathy, but...

 

CATHY

Howíd you know my name?

 

DAVID

Are you kidding?  Weíre lovers!  Or were...

 

CATHY

What!?

 

DAVID

Jesus!  Donít you remember?  Our cabin in the mountain, the...

Cathy stops in her tracks, looking at him askance.  Then she begins to smile again.

CATHY

Youíre trying to confuse me.  It wonít work.

She starts toward David again, her confidence returning as she parries with her knife.  A noise catches and divides her attention.  Glancing furtively from David to the direction of the noise and back, she speaks in a low, suddenly nervous, suspicious voice:

CATHY

A confederate of yours, perhaps?

 

DAVID

Trust me, Cathy.  In this neighborhood, I donít know anybody!

Out of the darkness, emerges UGLY DUDE, a huge, stench-ridden man, with absolutely no socially redeeming value whatsoever.  Cathy stiffens and switches to a defensive stance to fight off either attacker.  Then she glances at David and quickly whispers to him. 

CATHY

If we fight each other, the winner gets to tackle him.  But if we team up...

Davidís expression quickly becomes a subversive smile.

DAVID

Gotcha!  Make it look like weíre fighting.  Then when I say, ďNow!Ē...  Go for his gut!

Cathy smiles in agreement, and swings her knife at David, which he narrowly ducks, his expression one of surprise.  Ugly Dude moves toward them casually.  Cathy thrusts again toward David (slightly off angle) and he grabs her wrist.  Bringing his pipe down toward her opposite shoulder, he allows her to grab his wrist as well.  They begin to struggle: David holding her knife at bay, and Cathy avoiding his pipe.  Watching the momentary standoff, Ugly Dude abruptly smiles and walks boldly up to the others, raising his arms, both hands clutching a huge, deadly-looking metal rod.  David is glancing back and forth between Ugly Dude and Cathy, when suddenly he takes the initiative.

DAVID

Now!

David turns to swing his pipe at Ugly Dudeís face, striking it across the mouth and nose.  The surprise has the most effect, but the blow itself has minimal effect -- other than the rusty pipe partially shattering in an explosion of rusted dust.  Cathy reacts to Davidís attempt by going low and slashing Ugly Dude just below the waist line.  The knife has considerably more effect, as the manís expression quickly turns from surprise to one of acute, confused pain. 

David takes a second swing with his shortened pipe, this time going for Ugly Dudeís knee (and destroying the rusty pipe once and for all in the process).  David takes a quick, disconcerting look at his shattered weapon, as his victim reacts to the knee hit by staggering to one side, favoring his wounded leg, and simultaneously bending over from the effects of the knife slash.  In the process, with a disturbing look of anguish and pain on his ugly face, he slowly lowers his weapon. 

Cathy thrusts toward him, driving her knife directly into his ugly neck.  Everything stops as blood spouts out, some getting on Cathy, but even more on David.  As the Dynamic Duo step back, Ugly Dude gets this really surprised and terrified look on his face.  Then he falls forward, landing between his assailants.  David looks down at the dying hulk, and then back at Cathy.  Both of them are breathing hard.  Then David tries to smiles, gesturing to the body before him.

DAVID

If youíre looking for meat...

 

CATHY

Are you kidding?  Canít you smell it?  Itís chemo!  Deadliest stuff in the universe!

 

DAVID

Now what are you talking about?

 

CATHY

I used to be a nurse.  Trust me.  You eat this dude and his cancer will eat you.  Assuming the chemo doesnít kill you first!

 

DAVID

Oh, yeah.  Itís like the two cannibals eating a clown.  One turns to the other and asks, ďDoes this taste funny to you?Ē

David laughs half-heartedly, while Cathy just looks at him.

CATHY

I certainly have no intention of eating this piece of garbage!  But you, on the other hand, were a real possibility.  Unless, of course, youíre as crazy as Iím beginning to think you are.

 

DAVID

Actually, I wasnít planning on eating anybody!  Are you kidding me?

 

CATHY

So how do you get your protein?  You look healthy enough, plenty of meat on the bones.

 

DAVID

I eat meat and cheese... I guess.

 

CATHY

Right.  Down at the corner supermarket!  Yeah.  Thatís probably it.  Dementia.  You really are crazy.  The Collapse and everything that followed was just too much for your limited mind set.

Cathy begins to back away.  David takes a step toward her.

DAVID

Wait...!

Cathy quickly raises her knife in a defensive posture, continuing to back up.  David stops in his tracks, his eyes focused on her knife.

CATHY

Letís just you walk away, and Iíll walk away.  It was great doing business with you, but thatís all done now.  Okay?

David holds his hands open in a non-threatening pose, as Cathy keeps backing away.

DAVID

But weíre a team!

 

CATHY

With your rusted pipe?  I donít think so.

 

DAVID

Thatís part of my act.  I look like an easy mark.  Until you get close up...

 

CATHY

And then they discover you really are easy!

 

DAVID

But you could always finish them off.

 

CATHY

No thanks.

Abruptly, she vanishes into the darkness. 

DAVID

Wait!  Cathy!  Donít leave me!

David looks suddenly mournful, and in a lowered, pathetic voice adds a deeper sentiment.

DAVID

Not again, anyway!  Damn!

David signs heavily and turns away.  After a quick glance around, he begins exploring again.  Walking somewhat aimlessly, he moves along the main tunnel, glancing into small, dark secondary tunnels, but hesitating to go into any of them.  Until he finds a stairway leading upwards toward a flickering light.  After a cursive examination of the light, he smiles slightly and starts up the steps.  From the darkness, Cathyís voice is heard.

CATHY

Where the hell are you going?

David smiles as he sees his former lover slipping out of the darkness and into the light. 

DAVID

Cathy!  Couldnít leave me after all, huh?

 

CATHY

Donít flatter yourself!

Cathy stares at him, her knife still in her hand, but held in a less-threatening position.  David glances at the knife, his momentary smile vanishing.  With his head, he gestures.

DAVID

I was heading for the light up there.

 

CATHY

But thatís topside, you idiot!

 

DAVID

So?

 

CATHY

Itís toxic!  Jesus, you really are demented!

 

DAVID

Look.   I just want to go home.  Preferably with you.  I really donít need all this crap.

 

CATHY

Too late.  There is no home.  Not anymore.

 

DAVID

What are you talking about?

 

CATHY

The toxic wastes, you moron!  The acid rain, the chemical poisons in the ground water, the radiation from terroristsí attacks, the...  Jesus!  Where have you been?

 

DAVID

Toxic wastes!?  Hey, wait a minute!  Itís not my stuff.  I mean, like I recycled and all that.

 

CATHY

Now, what are you babbling about?

Abruptly, creaking noises are heard, followed by different shades of dust falling from the ceilings, and then the ground beginning to shake, rapidly increasing in intensity. 

CATHY and DAVID

Shit!

Cathy takes off running, with David following her, some twenty feet behind.  She goes down the tunnel, dodging pieces of metal, concrete and rock as they fall into the underground world.  David dodges his own falling debris, as he attempts to follow her path.  Cathy suddenly veers from her course and heads for a small concrete inset in the tunnel wall.  There she quickly disappears into the darkness.  David runs after her without any hesitation or the slightest degree of slowing down.  Just as he reaches the inset, however, he hears the sound of water cascading down a tunnel.

DAVID

Ohhhhh... Shit!

Before he can react further, a roar of water hits him and he once again phases.

 

EXT: HIGH PLAINS OF NORTHWESTERN NEBRASKA -- FUTURE

David is sliding and then falling head-over-hills down a steep, snowy slope.  He lands in a drift and after a frantic struggle, manages to get his head and shoulders out of the snow.  He quickly takes a deep breath, only to put one hand on his throat as the intense cold air almost freezes his innards.  At the same time, he collapses back into the snow bank, where he reacts to the suddenly cold, moist surroundings.  Quickly, he grabs a nearby snowshoe and begins to use it as a crutch. 

After managing to stand up, he shakes off the snow from his more exposed parts, and begins to frantically brush off the rest. With the snow removal under control, he begins to inspect his clothing -- a ragged, heavy winter garb.  Then he looks at the snowshoe he had used to help himself off the ground.  He holds it up, visually examining it and the fact itís tied with a long leather strap to his ankle.  Looking down he sees a second strap on the other ankle.  Pulling on the strap, he drags a second snowshoe, slightly damaged, out of the drift.  He begins inspecting the second one, just as Aris arrives from a different direction, moving at a fast clip and using her snow shoes with considerable skill.  She stops when she sees him casually turning to look in her direction.

ARIS

You okay?

 

DAVID

Yeah.  No problem.  I think...

Aris shrugs her shoulders and looks away.  David frowns as he watches her.

DAVID

Disappointed?

 

ARIS

No.  I mean like youíre a good lay, but some real meat would have been nice.  You understand:  Youíd just be part of me then.

 

DAVID

I donít fucking believe this!

 

ARIS

Itís not like Iíd have killed you for a meal, Hun.  But if you were already dead... 

 

DAVID

If I were dead, what?

 

ARIS

Well you know the drill.  Itís survival.

David shakes his head in disgust, drops the snowshoes down, and steps into them.

ARIS

Look... Weíd better get moving.  Weíve got to cover the perimeter in good time, or Jeremiah will have our heads.

 

DAVID

For lunch, no fucking doubt.

Aris watches him, as David begins to stomp his way in her direction.

 

EXT: WINDSWEPT PLAINS OF NORTHWESTERN NEBRASKA

David and Aris are moving at a good clip against a desolate, bleak, treeless, snow and ice covered backdrop.  Their ability to move rapidly on snowshoes is demonstrably excellent. They are breathing steadily, but deeply, their out breaths quickly fogging in the icy cold.  

DAVID

This is crazy.  If I donít figure out what the fuckís going on, and whoís on whose side... Or better yet, what... or whoís for lunch...!

 

ARIS

Whatís the problem?  Jeremiah on your case?

 

DAVID

Jeremiah!?  Who the hell...!?

 

ARIS

Come on, David!  Weíve talked about this before. We desperately need a strong leader. With Jeremiah, weíve managed to survive for four years since Launch Day.  This is when millions of others, even after surviving the war, have ended up dying from radiation, or starving, or freezing to death!  Most of them didnít last more than three months!

 

DAVID

Survival?  Look.  Thereís got to be more to this than just fucking surviving!

 

ARIS

Youíd prefer to freeze to death?

David stops in his tracks.  Aris stops as well, and then turns back toward him.  As he stares straight ahead, she watches him, trying to gauge whatís on his mind.

DAVID

I donít know what the fuck Iíd prefer!

 

ARIS

Iíll admit this constant struggle is hell, Hun.  Living off the remnants of what we had before, never increasing our supplies, hanging on by our fingertips. It doesnít encourage optimism.  And itíd be a lot easier to do a Hawkinsí thing and just walk out into the blizzard and freeze your self to death.  Frankly, my dear; Iím tired too!

David turns to study Aris, looking at her intently.

DAVID

So tell me:  What keeps you going?

 

ARIS

You mean besides having sex with you?

 

DAVID

Yeah.  Besides that.

 

ARIS

I donít know.  Maybe itís like somehow I chose this state of affairs...  Like Iíve got to somehow prove myself, if only just to me.

 

DAVID

Well, I suppose things could be worse.  And

probably will be in the very near future.

 

ARIS

Whatíd you mean?

 

DAVID

This may sound strange, but Iím glad you... Iím glad somebody included me in their ďstate of affairsĒ.

 

ARIS

Thatís a strange statement.  Itís not like we have a long history together.

 

DAVID

Are you sure?

Aris takes a long, puzzled look at David, who moves a few feet further along before turning to glance back at her.  Then her eyes widen, as she looks just beyond him and a small ridge they had been climbing.  Panic spreads over her face.

ARIS

Oh, my God!  A Blowout!!!

David turns to see a virtual tidal wave of snow being whipped by the winds and moving rapidly in their direction. For a moment he is frozen, staring wide-eyed at the sight.

ARIS

Run for it, David!

David turns to find Aris already turning her snowshoes, end-over-end, and heading with a near-panic speed in an angled direction down from the ridge (and at an angle of some sixty degrees from their original path).  David does the same end-over-end skiing trick and heads after her. 

They continue at the same frantic speed until they come over a second ridge and see before them -- some two hundred yards away -- their snowbound camp (with all manner of wind energy generators and mechanical artifacts).  People at the camp are in the process of preparing for the coming hurricane winds, rapidly tying gear down and moving other items indoors. One turns toward David and Aris, and pointing in their direction, excitedly yells something which canít be heard above the roar of the approaching blizzard. 

Aris looks back and momentarily stumbles, but manages to keep her feet.  David stops to look back, his expression almost instantly transformed to awe and fear.  The tidal wave of windblown snow is almost on top of him.  He turns and attempts to dash after Aris, who is now going at her full speed, having shed her snowshoes and begun to run on the hard-packed ice near the camp.  David sheds his snowshoes as well, and begins to run with everything heís got. 

Ahead, everyone is dashing for the shelter of the campís interior.  Jeremiah, standing like the Captain on a sinking ship, looks in their direction, as he massages the front part of his neck.  Pursing his lips in dismay, he turns to Cathy who is standing beside him and who had been watching David and Aris as well.  Cathy looks at Jeremiah, shakes her head slightly from side to side, turns, and heads for the shelter.  Jeremiah frowns and follows her, and with one last glance at David and Aris, pulls the door closed behind him. 

Aris and David continue their dash for relative safety, but the snow flurries and wind-blown snow rapidly increasing in intensity are all around them.  The visibility quickly fades to zero, and David staggers, turning slightly until the snow is blowing directly into his face.  Simultaneously, the scene phases.

 

Episode One -- A One Night Stand

Forward to:

Episode Three -- Five Sided Buildings

 

               

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