Mind Games by David George Richards by David George Richards - Read Online

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Summary

Matthew Hall has a simple theory. Take a patient who is considered to be ‘brain dead,’ or in a ‘constant vegetative state,’ and stimulate the neural cells of their brain. Do it enough times and in accordance with the brain’s own established pathways and the patient could be reawakened from their coma. All he needs to try out his theory is funding, a lab, and a patient.

The Corporation also has a theory. Take any ordinary person, render them unconscious, and stimulate the neural cells of their brain. Do it enough times and in accordance with their own very particular requirements and the person could be reawakened as a totally different person, a person who looks and is the same, but now has just the right allegiances and motivations. All they need is a young and gullible scientist with the right know how.

It is a marriage made in heaven.

The Corporation’s own scientists believe they understand Matthew’s theories and that it will work. They fund his research, doing their own experiments in the background. Now all they need is a test subject.

Jayne Middleton has been ‘killed’ in a car accident. Matthew believes that she is still a beautiful young woman who should be treated with respect. For the Corporation she is an expendable asset. But the Corporation’s own scientists are over confident. They make a mistake, and when the experiment proves successful and Jayne awakes, she is not alone. The other occupant of her brain is knowledgeable, sassy, and violent.

The battles that follow are not just fought with guns and knives in the real world, but with computers in the virtual world of Jayne’s mind, as the Corporation seek to erase their mistake while Jayne and Matthew not only seek to survive, but to get even.

(Includes both the narrative and screenplay versions for comparison.)

Published: David George Richards on
ISBN: 9781466011724
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Law...maybe

Foreword

Mind Games is a story that explores the effect of transferring one person’s mind into the head of another person. This isn’t a new or remarkable idea in the field of science-fiction, although the method of the transfer put forward in this version may well be. The story also has its analogies in many ghost stories where someone is ‘possessed’ by a ghost or demon. One such story, which may be considered to be the artistic muse that delighted me at an early age, was the Hollywood movie Wonder Man.

Made in 1945, and starring Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen and Steve Cochran, Wonder Man featured two identical twin brothers —both played by Danny Kaye. While one brother is a shy and quiet bookworm, the other is a nightclub performer. Unfortunately the more extrovert brother is murdered and his ghost then returns and appears only to his shy brother. The shy brother agrees to take his place in order to help bring the murderers to justice. But to be able to do this successfully, he must be possessed by his dead brother’s ghost. The story then revolves around the many comical events that occur as a result of this friendly possession. The film won an Academy Award for its special effects and was nominated for three other awards.

While Mind Games wouldn’t dream of being the same story, and in fact bears no resemblance to Wonder Man at all being a science-fiction thriller rather than a musical comedy, it does however feature a similar friendly possession. But there are no ghosts here. In Mind Games we are in high-tech science-fiction territory as we explore the realms of mind transference initiated by computer viruses.

The initial premise is simple: Take a patient who has suffered some kind of trauma and as a result is considered to be ‘brain dead,’ or in a ‘constant vegetative state,’ stimulate their brain rapidly and repeatedly to re-establish their original neural pathways and it might, just might, lead to their reawakening. Or at least that is how the young scientist behind the technique hopes it will work when he is approached by the apparently altruistic medical corporation willing to fund the initial venture. But the corporation has more than just philanthropy on its mind...

Mind Games features a shadowy secret and possibly government backed organisation, even more shadowy assassins, and a virtual reality tug o’ war for the mind of the heroine.

Originally written as a novella in 1998, Mind Games was the first part of a series of three stories entitled Manchester Tales. It was followed in sequence by another novella, An Affair of the Heart, and then by the full size novel, The Look of Love, both of which have been published separately. All three have been on my website since then. The link between them all, apart from the fact that they are all set in Manchester, is that each one finishes where the next one starts. So Mind Games finishes in the hospital which also features at the beginning of An Affair of the Heart, and this story in turn finishes in Debenhams Department Store, where The Look of Love begins. In 2000 I revisited Mind Games and adapted it into a screenplay. The reason was that I wanted to expand the virtual reality parts of the story, particularly where events occurred in the mind of the heroine. I had also written several other stories during the intervening years and had experimented in dual personality characters in my science fiction and fantasy stories, so I was unhappy with this aspect in the original narrative version. I was also interested in the idea of writing a screenplay to see if this was easier or harder than writing a story in the traditional narrative style. So rather than simply rewrite the story I modified it and then adapted it into a screenplay instead. Although it is the only screenplay I have written, as I prefer the traditional narrative style, I do think that the story is better suited to this format due to its fast and frequent scene changes. But you can be the judge of that.

Included in this volume are both the original narrative and updated screenplay versions of the story for your comparison and delectation. Because I happen to think the screenplay version is slightly better, I have included it first, but you can read them in the order of your choice. If you would like to comment on your agreement or disagreement with my opinion, email me at my website at www.booksandstories.com.

DGR

THE SCREENPLAY VERSION

SCENE 1: INT. MATTHEW’S LAB. NIGHT

The lab is in darkness. MATTHEW HALL is sitting at his desk playing space invaders on his mini-computer. MATTHEW is English. He is twenty-four, of slim build, with brown hair and brown eyes. He is playing the game badly. He is bored. He is not paying attention and the game is suddenly over.

MATTHEW

(Surprised)

Shit.

MATTHEW sighs, and stares up at the ceiling. He is thoughtful.

MATTHEW

(Pleading)

Please, God, don’t hate me will you? But can you kill someone for me? Soon? Please?

CUT TO SCENE 2: INT. HOSPITAL ICU. NIGHT.

GRAHAM and AMANDA MIDDLETON sit on each side of JAYNE’S bed in the ICU. They hold each other’s hands across the bed, and hold their daughter’s hands as she lies between them. DOCTOR HUGHES stands nearby.

AMANDA

(Tearfully, and very sad)

I can’t do it, Graham. I can’t.

GRAHAM

(Swallowing, and just as tearful)

I know, love. But you have to remember what the doctor’s said. The spirit, the life, that thing that was Jayne, it’s gone. Once it lived in her head, but not anymore.

AMANDA squeezes JAYNE’S hand.

AMANDA

(Desperately)

But I can feel her, Graham! She’s warm, and she’s breathing! This can’t be right!

GRAHAM cannot answer. They sit in silence until DOCTOR HUGHES comes closer.

DOCTOR HUGHES

(He coughs and speaks nervously)

If you want to wait a bit longer, I can leave it until tomorrow.

AMANDA glances at DOCTOR HUGHES and her husband’s face. She closes her eyes shut, and shakes her head.

AMANDA

(With renewed strength)

No. We owe it to Jayne not to let this drag on any longer.

AMANDA squeezes JAYNE and GRAHAM’S hands even tighter.

AMANDA

(Whispering)

I’m ready.

CUT TO SCENE 3: INT. HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM. NIGHT.

JULIA CONNORS stares through the window into the Intensive Care Unit.

JULIA is English. She is thirty, tall and slim, with short blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She speaks with an upper-class English accent.

SAM RAWLSTON waits with her.

SAM is a black American. He is thirty-five, tall and well built, with short cropped hair and brown eyes. He speaks with an American accent from one of the Southern States. He lounges against a wall.

SAM is calm and confident, while JULIA is impatient and fidgety as she watches what is happening in the ICU.

JULIA’S POINT OF VIEW - CUT TO: INTERIOR OF ICU

GRAHAM and AMANDA are sitting by their daughter’s bedside, DOCTOR HUGHES standing over them. The three of them look very sad.

JULIA

(Impatiently)

What are they waiting for? You switched her off, she’s dead, now get out!

SAM

(Smiling)

You’ll never win first prize in a sensitivity contest talking like that.

JULIA glances back at SAM.

JULIA

(Sarcastically)

Oh, and I suppose you will?

SAM makes a face at JULIA, and she quickly turns away.

JULIA

Come on! Get out of there before she shrivels up!

SAM comes forward and stands next to JULIA. He stares into the ICU with her.

SAM

They’ve just switched off their daughter; give them a chance to cry before you kick them out.

JULIA

They can cry at home! We’ve got work to do. And I’m sure getting that doctor in there involved was a bad idea. We shouldn’t have told him.

JULIA AND SAM’S POINT OF VIEW - CUT TO: INTERIOR OF ICU.

DOCTOR HUGHES is comforting GRAHAM and AMANDA.

SAM

And what would you have preferred? That we approached the distraught couple cold?

JULIA

I still think he looks far too sneaky to me. I’ll bet he’s already spouting off about her death helping someone else to live. He’s probably got the papers in his pocket right now. By the time we get to the parents that body will look like a car that was left unattended in Moss Side overnight.

JULIA AND SAM’S POINT OF VIEW - CUT TO: INTERIOR OF ICU.

GRAHAM and AMANDA are coming out.

JULIA

(Excitedly)

At last! They’re coming out.

JULIA turns to SAM, pointing her finger at him.

JULIA

Keep out of my way, Sam. Okay? I don’t want you putting me off!

SAM

(Laughing)

No way! This I gotta see!

JULIA

(With annoyance)

Just don’t bugger me up! I’m warning you!

JULIA tries to push SAM away.

SAM

(Still laughing)

Here they come!

JULIA punches SAM.

JULIA

Be serious!

SAM stops laughing and regains control of himself. He is just in time as GRAHAM and AMANDA emerge from the ICU.

JULIA quickly approaches them, her manner now very grave.

JULIA

(Solemnly)

Hello, Mr and Mrs Middleton? My name is Julia Connors. I am so sorry for your loss, and I do hope you don’t mind me speaking to you now. I know it’s a bad time, but it is important that we act quickly. I represent a company called Medical Technology. I believe Doctor Hughes has already mentioned us to you?

CUT TO SCENE 4: INT. BEN’S OFFICE. DAY.

SAM stands before BEN’S desk. He is reading aloud from a report he holds. BEN WATKINS is sitting down, his back to SAM, listening carefully.

BEN is in his fifties. He is American. He is slightly overweight with receding fair hair and blue eyes.

SAM

Female, twenty-four, five-foot-eight, one-hundred and six pounds. Officially dead at 19:17 last night at Preston Royal Hospital, sir.

BEN

Cause of death?

SAM

Severe head trauma sustained in an RTA. But she was in a coma for three weeks before they finally pulled the plug on her last night, sir. The file says she was conscious and cognisant at the scene of the accident, but lapsed into a coma a few minutes later.

BEN

Perfect.

BEN turns to face SAM. He picks up the report SAM has now put down on his neat and tidy desk. He begins to leaf through it as he continues to question SAM.

BEN

Any problems getting permission from the deceased’s relatives?

SAM

No, sir. Connors excelled herself, sir. She was more than her usual best. She preyed on the parents fears that their daughter would be cut up, and used that fear to put them off giving their consent to any transplants. Instead she persuaded them into believing that leaving their precious daughter with us would be a much better way. She fed them that story about studying the effects of stress on the brain following severe trauma, and how that would help to save the lives of other people who have similar injuries as the one that killed their daughter. It didn’t take long to get them to agree after that.

BEN

(Questioningly)

And they understood and accepted the delay this would cause to any funeral arrangements for their daughter?

SAM

(Confidently)

Yes, sir. I think they were almost relieved. Connors got a month out of them.

BEN looks up at SAM. He still looks concerned.

BEN

Where is Julia?

SAM

She’s with the body, sir. She said she wanted to make sure that there weren’t any foul-ups.

BEN

What’s their ETA?

SAM

09:00.

BEN

Have her report to me as soon as she gets in. That will be all.

SAM

Yes, sir.

SAM leaves. BEN opens the report and begins to read JAYNE’S file.

BEN’S POINT OF VIEW - CUT TO: CLOSE SHOT OF THE REPORT.

(JAYNE’S profile in the report:

Born in the maternity wing of Royal Oldham Hospital in December in 1974, Jayne had spent most of her early life in Oldham before moving to Liverpool. She had graduated in English at Liverpool University only a year before her death, and was hoping to do a Masters Degree at Lancaster. She had been on her way back from there when she had her fatal accident. Among her many other talents, Jayne could also speak French and Italian. She had travelled around most of Europe according to her Passport, and she was a very frequent visitor to a local sports club of which she was a member. She had obviously led a very active life. JAYNE’S photograph is included in the report. It shows an attractive young woman with long brown hair, brown eyes, and a vivacious smile.)

BEN

(Shaking his head)

A month. It better be enough.

CUT TO SCENE 5: INT. JAYNE’S ROOM. DAY.

Technicians are fussing around JAYNE, installing equipment and attaching her life support machines. They treat her badly. She is naked and hardly covered. BEN and MATTHEW are present. MATTHEW looks uncomfortable at what he sees.

BEN

(Puzzled)

You look surprised? I told you we would get you a suitable subject for your test, didn’t I? Were you beginning to doubt me?

MATTHEW stares at JAYNE in the bed surrounded by all the medical equipment."

MATTHEW

(He swallows, nervously)

No, it’s just that I didn’t expect it to be a woman, that’s all.

BEN

(Worried)

Does it make a difference?

MATTHEW

(Shaking his head)

No, not at all. It’s just that I didn’t expect it.

BEN

Does it make a difference to you?

MATTHEW looks away from JAYNE and now looks at BEN, his expression rather obvious.

BEN puts his arm around MATTHEW’S shoulder.

BEN

(Smiling and fatherly)

Look, Matthew, I know what you’re thinking, but don’t go soft on me. Planning all this was one thing, wasn’t it, but now that it’s for real, and now you’re suddenly faced with a real body, it’s shocked you, hasn’t it?

MATTHEW nods.

BEN

Well, alright. So this is a dead woman, officially anyway. But don’t let that put you off. All the papers have been signed and filed with the appropriate authorities, so she’s no longer a real person. She, it, is the field trial for your research. You knew that you would have to work with a human subject sooner or later. For God’s sake, you’ve been moping around the offices waiting for one for long enough. Now we’ve finally got one, you should be excited!

BEN points to the bed.

BEN

(With excitement)

This is what we’ve both been waiting for, Matthew! This is exactly what you asked for! The damage to her brain has been minimal, and she has been off the life support machines for less than thirty minutes. Everything’s ready.

BEN now shakes his head and looks downcast.

BEN

(In a more subdued tone)

But, if you’ve got cold feet. Well, all you have to do is say the word, Matthew, and we can call it all off, right now. I’ll get a pasting in the board room, and it could mean my job, but if you’re not sure....

MATTHEW starts to protest even before BEN has finished.

MATTHEW

(Eagerly, but still hesitant)

I want to go on, Ben! I do! I’m sorry, it’s just that, faced with a real person, a young woman, I—

BEN

Yeah, I know. You weren’t expecting it. You told me. But you were very clear on your requirements, and male or female wasn’t one of them. This was what you wanted, so this is what you got. That’s why it took us so long. Now, let’s leave these people to do their job while we go back into your lab and you can show me that implant.

BEN takes his arm from MATTHEW’S shoulder and leads him out of the room and into the corridor. MATTHEW looks back over his shoulder just before the door closes.

MATTHEW’S POINT OF VIEW - CUT TO: JAYNE’S ROOM SEEN THROUGH THE CLOSING DOOR.

JAYNE is still on the bed, and the MedTec technicians handle her too casually.

CUT TO SCENE 6: INT. CORRIDOR OUTSIDE MATTHEW’S LAB. DAY

As they walk towards his lab, MATTHEW suddenly stops BEN in the corridor.

MATTHEW

I can’t do it, Ben.

BEN

(Shocked)

What?

MATTHEW

(Smiling)

No, I don’t mean I don’t want to go on with the field trial! I mean I can’t just think of her as an object, a thing, you know?

BEN

(Sighing)

You had me worried there for a moment. Come on, let’s go inside your lab where we can talk in privacy.

They walk the few paces to the door marked ‘Mat’s Den’ and go inside.

CUT TO SCENE 7: INT. MATTHEW’S LAB. DAY.

As soon as they are inside, MATTHEW explains his feelings and his fears.

MATTHEW

I guess I was being naive. I was too detached. I knew I needed a human guinea pig, but I didn’t really think of the consequences until I saw her in that bed. She’s still a person, Ben. To me, she’s not dead. She’s living and breathing, and she’ll have to be fed and looked after.

BEN

My people will do all that, don’t worry.

MATTHEW sits down at his desk as he continues.

MATTHEW

But I do worry, Ben, because they think of her the way you do. They’re just technicians, not nurses. I saw the way they touched her and treated her. They didn’t care about her feelings, or her dignity.

BEN

(Forcefully)

But she’s dead!

MATTHEW

(Just as forcefully)

No she’s not! Not to me anyway. For my experiment to have any success at all, I have to believe that she’s still alive. If at any time I begin to think of her as dead, then it’s over. Do you understand?

There is a pause while BEN considers.

BEN

(He takes a deep breath)

Okay, I’ll talk to everyone. I’ll make sure that she’s treated properly.

MATTHEW

(Relieved)

Hire some proper nurses, don’t just leave it to the technicians. And does she have to be naked?

BEN

You’re right.

BEN slaps MATTHEW on the shoulder.

BEN

(Smiling wryly)

You’re absolutely right. Maybe it’s me that’s got too detached. I’ll see that a proper nurse is hired to look after her, and that the surgical team carries out the operation this afternoon using the correct medical practices. From now on she’s a patient and not just a subject for the field trial.

BEN is thoughtful for a moment.

BEN

(With sudden resolution)

Her name’s Jayne. I’ll have her complete file sent over to you so that you can learn all about her. Okay?

MATTHEW

(Hesitantly)

Jayne.

MATTHEW nods slowly at first, and then more strongly.

MATTHEW

Yes. Thank you, Ben. I know it might cost a bit more money, but it means a lot to me. Thank you.

BEN smiles brightly.

BEN

And the success of your work means a lot to me! Come on, show me that implant that cost me so much. I’d like to see it before the surgeons put it into Jayne’s head.

They turn to the equipment strewn around on MATTHEW’S desk. MATTHEW quickly retrieves the implant in it’s box, and begins to discuss it with BEN.

CUT TO SCENE 8: INT. JAYNE’S ROOM. DAY.

JAYNE is in bed, her head is bandaged and she is now dressed in a hospital gown. Tubes attach her to the life support machines. A cable emerges from under the bandages around her head and goes through a hole in the wall to MATTHEW’S lab next door.

MATTHEW is sitting at his desk which has been positioned next to her bed. He is holding her hand.

MATTHEW

(Sighing)

Well, here goes....

MATTHEW lets go of JAYNE’S hand and types on his keyboard.

MATTHEW’S POINT OF VIEW - CUT TO: CLOSE SHOT OF THE VDU SCREEN.

(The VDU screen shows:

C:\MINNIE\WINDOWS>run MAPPING

MAPPING RUNNING

CRAY 1 = 5%

CRAY 2 = 0%

The percentage figure for Cray 1 increases rapidly.)

CUT TO SCENE 9: INT. MONITORING ROOM. DAY.

It is the end of the first week. BEN paces about the room while JULIA sits at a desk which is laid out like a nurse’s station. She is wearing a nurse’s uniform. There is a CCTV monitor on the desk that shows the interior of JAYNE’S room.

BEN

(Impatiently)

What could possibly keep two Crays buzzing for a week at almost maximum capacity with so little result? With computer power like that, she should be orbiting Mars by now!

BEN walks over to the monitor screen and points at it.

CLOSE SHOT OF THE MONITOR SCREEN SHOWING JAYNE’S ROOM.

JAYNE is still lying in her bed, MATTHEW sitting at his computer next to her. He is typing.

BEN

(In exasperation)

But look at her! If you and that other nurse didn’t move her about each day, she’d still be in the same position she was on the first day!

JULIA is unconcerned, and is twiddling a pencil.

JULIA

"She is in the same position she was on the first day. If you ask me she’s as dead as a door nail, but not yet quite as stiff."

BEN

(Angrily)

I didn’t ask you!

BEN suddenly smiles, coming closer to JULIA, and leans over her.

BEN

(Softly and with menace)

But if this does all go wrong, I’ll make sure that everyone knows who picked the subject for our field trial.

JULIA throws the pencil down and stands up, pushing BEN away.

JULIA

(Her voice is raised)

You’re not pinning this one on me, Benjamin! I’ve worked my butt off tending to sleeping-corpse-face in there! ‘Keep close to her’ you said, ‘Keep an eye on what Matthew is doing.’ Bullshit! I’ve spent most of my time in the sluice room! I’ve done better sitting in here! This isn’t what I’m paid for! I’m a Field Agent, not a nurse-maid! I’ve put too many good years in for the Corporation to lose it all now! And if you think I’ll just stand by and take all the blame just because one of your fancy ideas is going down the toilet, then you belong on that bed in there next to Nefertiti!

BEN backs away as JULIA speaks, spreading his arms wide in an expression of detachment.

BEN

It’s no use complaining to me, Julia dear. You know what Grant’s like. He won’t just flush me, he’ll flush the whole kit and caboodle. Me, you, Rawlston, Matthew in there, even this whole office, we’ll all disappear overnight, never to be seen again. And it won’t matter whose fault it is. It’s happened before. Don’t tell me you haven’t heard about Santa Monica?

JULIA stares at BEN, her anger gone, but doesn’t answer.

BEN

(Nodding)

Yeah, you’ve heard! Did you also hear about how the guy in charge had ‘left the company’, and how overnight, half of his staff had ‘left the company’ with him? Yeah, that’s right! What’s the bets you won’t be bumping into any of them, or their families down at the mall!

JULIA

(Calmly)

Why don’t you go in there and talk to him?

BEN now also calms down.

BEN

(Sighing)

Yes, why not? Since I’m paying for it all, the least Matthew can do is explain to me why nothing’s happening.

BEN heads for the door.

JULIA

And don’t forget to remind him that he only has three weeks left.

BEN nods and leaves.

JULIA sits down again at the desk and watches the monitor screen. She turns up the volume on the monitor and waits. She begins twiddling with the pencil again.

JULIA’S POINT OF VIEW - CUT TO: CLOSE SHOT OF THE MONITOR SCREEN SHOWING JAYNE’S ROOM.

MATTHEW looks round as BEN walks in.

CUT TO SCENE 10: INT. JAYNE’S ROOM. DAY.

JAYNE is still comatose. MATTHEW is sitting at his desk. BEN has explained his worries to MATTHEW, and MATTHEW is amused.

MATTHEW

Why didn’t you tell me you were so worried?

BEN

I thought you knew. All of this, the expense, everything, was on my say so. So, if there are no results to show for it all at the end of the field trial, I’m for it. I thought that was obvious, even to you.

BEN pulls up a chair and sits next to MATTHEW at his computer. MATTHEW grins at him but doesn’t reply.

BEN

(Annoyed)

You’ve only got three more weeks, you know that, don’t you?

MATTHEW

(Still smiling)

Three more weeks will be fine, Ben!

MATTHEW turns back to his computer, and begins typing on the keyboard.

BEN

(Even more annoyed)

You don’t seem to understand—

BEN stops when something catches his eye.

CLOSE SHOT - BEN’S POINT OF VIEW.

JAYNE’S arm slowly rises from the side of the bed and holds up three fingers in an obvious sign. BEN stares at it, wide-eyed.

MATTHEW continues to type and speaks over his shoulder.

MATTHEW

Three weeks to go, you said. Or, if you prefer, one week gone.

JAYNE now lowers two of her fingers and BEN is left staring at her raised middle finger.

BEN finally tears his eyes away from JAYNE’S raised hand and stares at MATTHEW in awe.

BEN

(In a subdued voice)

How long have you been able to do that?

MATTHEW glances over his shoulder at BEN and smiles once more.

MATTHEW

Oh, since about yesterday morning. But that’s nothing, watch this!

MATTHEW types on his keyboard again, then rummages about in the drawer