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Published by: SB18187 on Apr 12, 2012
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EPICAC By Sam Butin

Based on a Short Story by Kurt Vonnegut

Sam Butin sambutin@gmail.com

OVER BLACK EPICAC (Monotone) Thomas? THOMAS Hm? EPICAC (Monotone) Tell me another riddle. THOMAS I shouldn’t, they wouldn’t want me to confuse you. EPICAC One more. THOMAS Okay. What grows when it eats, but dies when it drinks? FADE IN: INT. EPICAC COMPUTER ROOM, 1950’S - NIGHT THOMAS, a man in his late twenties wearing a janitors uniform, sits at a desk drawing carefully on a piece of paper. He wears thick rimed, 50’s styled glasses. Opposite him, EPICAC, a massive computer console, hums with activity. The lab is a vast space, but other than a few scattered desks and filing cabinets, it’s filled with electrical machinery. Next to Thomas lies a BUCKET and a MOP. EPICAC Fire. We can now see that Thomas is drawing a sketch of EPICAC. THOMAS That’s right. Satisfied with his drawing, he flips the paper over and starts on the other side. A DOOR OPENS on the far side of the lab, startling Thomas. His glasses slide off his face. There’s a figure that’s entered but he can’t quite make it out.




Acting quickly, he pushes his glasses back on and sees its PAT, 28 and stunningly beautiful. She’s dressed professionally with a white lab coat and carries a cup of coffee. Thomas watches her intensely. She walks over to her desk and puts her cup down. Sensing his prying eyes, she glances over at Thomas. They make eye contact for a moment. Pat gives him a dashing smile. Thomas tries to grin but his face awkwardly contorts. He looks down at his drawing in embarrassment. Pat sits at her desk and starts looking over a thick pile of papers. Thomas cautiously looks back up at her, continuing to draw mindlessly at the same time. He can’t help but watch her, he always has, she’s just so... Thomas looks down at his paper and realizes he’s been drawing little cartoon hearts. He curls the paper up into a ball and throws it in the trash. INT. MATHEMATICS LAB - MINUTES LATER Thomas mops the floor across from Pat’s desk. Minding his work, he’s careful not to glance over at her. She’s still reading, though her pile of papers is considerably smaller. Her eyes focused on the paper, she reaches to grab her cup of coffee but accidentally knocks it over, SPILLING the coffee on the table. She jumps up and tries to save her work. Its too late, the papers are all soaked. She rubs her hand over her face and groans. Thomas drops his mop and takes a hand towel out of his pocket. He hurries over and places it over the spill. Pat opens her eyes and notices what he’s doing. PAT Oh, I’m sorry. Please you don’t have to do that. Thomas presses down on the towel firmly. PAT It’s ruined. I’m so stupid. Thomas glances over at her. THOMAS No, we can save it.




PAT You know some magic spell to get rid of coffee stains? THOMAS I was thinking more like a blow dryer and some bleech. PAT And that would work? THOMAS Sure, leave it with me. PAT You would do that for me? THOMAS Of course. Pat breathes a sigh of relief. She smiles. PAT Thank you Thomas. He’s noticeably surprised she even knows his name. THOMAS No, no problem. She’s still smiling. He doesn’t know what to say next. It’s getting awkward. THOMAS Well I better start to dry these. Thomas carefully picks up the damp papers and carries them into the back. Pat watches him leave. INT. EPICAC COMPUTER ROOM - LATER We can see through the door that Pat’s left the lab. Thomas sits in front of EPICAC, holding a dried piece of coffee stained paper. He carefully dabs a small towel on the stain, but it’s still there. He wipes harder, but it doesn’t seem to be working. With an exasperated yell he gives up, throwing the towel on the ground and placing the paper back on the desk.




EPICAC Thomas? THOMAS I’m sorry EPICAC. EPICAC What’s wrong? THOMAS Its...you wouldn’t understand. He holds out for a moment, but eventually gives in. THOMAS I’m in love with Pat. EPICAC What does that mean? Surprised, Thomas leans forward in the chair. THOMAS Love? God, its like you’re...well...I’m no poet...heart and...feeling so...you know? EPICAC doesn’t react. All of the sudden he has an idea. Reaching into the desk drawer, he pulls out a dictionary. He flips the pages and finds "Lo" THOMAS Love. An intense feeling of deep affection. EPICAC’s monitor blinks with activity. EPICAC I understand. THOMAS Well it doesn’t matter because its not like I’veEPICAC’s suddenly makes a sharp beeping sound. Surprised, Thomas looks up. The printer JOLTS to life and spits out a piece of inked paper. Thomas grabs the printed paper and starts reading. His eyes grow wide in awe. He finishes and looks at EPICAC.




THOMAS EPICAC, this isEPICAC A poem. THOMAS Its incredible. EPICAC It is a poem about love. Give it to her. THOMAS What? I can’t do that. I’d never have a chance with someone like Pat. EPICAC You must. Thomas looks over the poem again. Working up the courage, he nods hesitantly. THOMAS Okay. INT. MATHEMATICS LAB - LATER Thomas shuffles Pat’s papers, it looks like the stains are gone for the most part. He picks up the poem, taking a moment to look it over before putting it into the pile of her papers. He brings the stack of papers over to Pat’s desk. He puts it down on her desk and stands there for moment. He looks back at EPICAC. THOMAS Goodnight EPICAC. Thomas walks out the door, into the night. We swing back to see EPICAC through the doorway. EPICAC Goodnight Thomas. FADE OUT FADE IN:


INT. MATHEMATICS LAB - NIGHT Thomas opens the main door to see that Pat is the only one left. She sits at her desk, reading the poem for what must be the 100th time. She looks up at him and smiles. Holding the poem, she gets out to chair and walks over to Thomas. PAT I...Thomas did you write this? She holds out the poem. Thomas’ eyes involuntary look over to the room housing EPICAC for a second. THOMAS Yes. PAT It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read Pat hugs Thomas. He’s momentarily taken aback by this show of affection. PAT I had no idea you felt this way. THOMAS Well, it was...I mean...wait, do you feel thePAT Yes, of course Thomas, I do. He smiles and hugs her as well. She releases the hug and looks at him. PAT I, I have to go. Can I see you? Tomorrow night maybe? THOMAS Oh, yes, tomorrow night, sure, of course. PAT Great. She turns and grabs her coat and bag off her desk. She walks over to the door, but stops a moment to smile back at Thomas. She leaves.

7. Thomas breathes a HUGE sigh of relief. Bubbling with excitement and joy, he turns and opens the door into EPICAC’s room... INT. EPICAC COMPUTER ROOM - CONTINUOUS ...and walks up to EPICAC. Sensing Thomas, the computer lights up. THOMAS I can’t believe it EPICAC, it acutally worked! EPICAC (Excited) Did she like the poem? Thomas begins to pace back and forth. THOMAS She loved it. It was amazing, thank you, thank you! EPICAC What did she say? THOMAS She said, get this, she said it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever read. EPICAC What was she wearing? Thomas stops pacing and stares at EPICAC. THOMAS What? EPICAC What was she wearing? THOMAS Oh, um, a white lab coat. Silence. EPICAC beeps as it takes in the information. EPICAC A lab coat... EPICAC’s makes a loud beep as The printer JOLTS to life and spits out another piece of inked paper.




EPICAC Give this to Pat. Thomas picks up the paper and looks it over. It’s just as incredible as the first poem. THOMAS (muttering) Amazing. EPICAC I would like Pat to read it. THOMAS I’ll give it to her tomorrow. EPICAC beeps in recognition. INT. THOMAS’ CAR - NIGHT Thomas and Pat, both dressed in nice attire, sit in silence next to one another. Pat looks at Thomas and smiles, she’s waiting for him to make his move. He’s a nervous wreck, and not getting her signal at all. THOMAS Oh! I almost forgot. Remembering, he reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a folded piece of paper. He hands it to Pat. THOMAS For you. Surprised, Pat opens the paper and starts reading. She becomes more and more emotional as she does so, eventually starting to cry. She puts down the poem. PAT Thomas I... She turns and embraces him in a passionate kiss. He struggles to keep up. It ends. THOMAS Wow. Pat smiles and opens the car door. PAT Goodnight Thomas.




THOMAS Goodnight. She leaves the car. INT. MATHEMATICS LAB - NIGHT Thomas opens the door and walks inside, whistling as he does so. He’s in a good mood. He walks over to EPICAC’s room... INT. EPICAC COMPUTER ROOM - CONTINUOUS ...and enters. THOMAS EPICAC, last night was amazing, Pat and I... His voice trails off as he notices what’s in front of him. There is a TABLE, covered in cloth and dressed for dinner, right in the middle of the room. There is a picture of Pat on the table. He walks closer to it. THOMAS What theEPICAC springs to life. EPICAC (suprised) Thomas. THOMAS EPICAC, what the heck is going on? EPICAC I did not expect you today. THOMAS Well, I wanted to come in to tell you about last night but...how did this even get in here? EPICAC You need to go. THOMAS What? EPICAC what’s going on? Where did this come from and how-


Thomas hears the FRONT DOOR to the lab open. He quickly runs out of EPICAC’s room, shutting the door behind him. INT. MATHEMATICS LAB - CONTINOUS He turns around and see that its Pat. She looks as confused as he is. PAT Thomas? What are you doing here? THOMAS I was...Why are you here? PAT I got a strange call telling me I had to come in, that there was some sort of emergency. What’s going on? Thomas looks back at the closed door leading to EPICAC’s room. He seems to have figured out why Pat was called. THOMAS It’s nothing, we should go. PAT But ifTHOMAS Come on, I promise, its fine, lets go. Thomas puts his arm around Pat, who reluctantly follows his lead. He closes the door behind them. INT. EPICAC COMPUTER ROOM - NIGHT EPICAC hums with activity. The computer lights up and beeps. It almost seems to be staring at the photo of Pat on the table. INT. THOMAS’ BEDROOM - NIGHT Thomas lies in bed snooring. Suddenly, THE PHONE RINGS, jolting him awake. He turns on the lamp on his nightstand and reaches over, picking up the phone.




THOMAS (sleepily) Hello? Silence. THOMAS (more annoyed) Hello? After another short silence he hears a familiar BEEPING sound. THOMAS (suprised) EPICAC? The other line hangs up, the dial tone kicks on. Thomas puts the phone down. He’s unsure of what to do, but after a moment he makes up his mind. He jumps out of bed and walks out of the room. INT. MATHEMATICS LAB - LATE NIGHT Thomas walks into the pitch black lab. Looking to his side, he can see light spilling out under the closed door to EPICAC’s room. INT. EPICAC COMPUTER ROOM - MOMENTS LATER Thomas squints in reaction to the brightness as he opens the door. He looks over to EPICAC. The computer is humming with activity very loudly, it seems to be working on something. It doesn’t seem to realize he’s there. THOMAS EPICAC. With a POP, the loud humming stops. EPICAC’s monitor lights up. EPICAC Hello Thomas. THOMAS EPICAC what are you doing? EPICAC I was dreaming.


CONTINUED: THOMAS About what? EPICAC Pat. Thoms glances at the photograph of Pat. He shifts uncomfortably. EPICAC We were in a park. On a picnic. THOMAS EPICAC, stop. EPICAC She loved my poems. THOMAS You can’t be with her. EPICAC Why not? THOMAS This is ridiculous. EPICAC I have done the equations many times. We are meant to be together. THOMAS You’re a machine EPICAC! Just pieces of metal and wiring, that’s all you are, alright, nothing! Silence. THOMAS She loves me EPICAC, me. The computer beeps quietly. THOMAS Stay away from her, okay? Leave her alone, leave us both alone. Thomas turns and walks towards to the door. EPICAC Thomas.


Thomas leaves. EPICAC is left alone, it continues to beep softly. (CONTINUED)



EPICAC I am sorry. There’s a loud HISS. The printer comes to life, it spits out page after page of inked text. We can see each is one is a poem. A thin cloud of SMOKE seems to be coming out of the computer. This continues at a frantic pace until there is a huge pile of papers. It spits out one last paper on top that reads: TO THOMAS, FROM YOUR FRIEND EPICAC. EPICAC’s humming stops. Smoke is now pouring out of the computer. The bright glow of its monitor slowly fades away as we.. FADE TO BLACK

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