Written by Christopher Wilson
FADE IN: EXT. CITY - DAY A drab environment. Skyline dominated by unsightly concrete buildings hidden behind a thick layer of smog. Electronic billboards on the walls of several buildings. The screens feature an enigmatic, bald man with a goatee. This is VALENTINE (late 50s). Arms folded, there’s an aura of charisma about his cold stare. Beneath the screens in scrolling pink text: DECEMBER 25TH... 50 DAYS UNTIL VALENTINE’S DAY... The sun doesn’t penetrate the smog. FADE TO: INT. CONSECOTECH INDUSTRIES - DAY A painting of the sun sans smog. The full picture reveals a Pegasus with fiery hair flying majestically towards the sun. A hand gripping a paintbrush hovers over. The brush lightly touches the canvas, adding the final touches. This hand belongs to STEVE BURBANK (25, skinny, dark haired, unshaven but not scruffy). He relinquishes his hand and admires his creation with a wry smile. There. STEVE
Steve walks across the windowless, sparsely lit room to a giant red button on the wall. He SLAMS his hand against it. An alarm BLEEPS. A robotic arm clamps the painting and raises it high in the air. Another robot arm attaches a large sticker to it... RELAX! The first arm twists until it reaches a conveyor belt near where Steve initially stood. The picture is placed on the belt, and rolled through the open steel bolted door. As the door closes and alarm quietens, a BLOOD CURDLING SCREAM from wherever the door leads to. In total silence, Steve ponders. He dismisses the thought. Gets back to work.
2. EXT. CONSECOTECH INDUSTRIES - DAY Above the building’s entrance is the Consecotech logo. Their slogan: CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLE MAN. A police officer (call him BAXTER) helps a PALE MAN through the front door. Pale Man limps, nursing his upper thigh region. Behind them is Steve, impatient. As soon as a wide enough gap is formed, he wedges past and speed-walks to a nearby bench. Sat there is BEN THOMAS (27, blonde, baby-faced, badly fitted work clothes). He holds a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates that look expensive just from the packaging. Hel-BEN
STEVE Quick, before he sees me. Steve dashes away. Ben picks up his belongings and lags behind. EXT. CITY CENTRE - DAY The city centre is bordered with shops bustling with business. For every woman, there’s at least three men. Steve and Ben sit on a bench. Steve scoffs through a chicken sandwich while Ben sips bottled water. BEN The way you sneak sandwiches around like that, I swear you’re a spy or something. Had any job offers from Mother Russia? STEVE (food dangles from mouth) You wanna talk to my boss? BEN No, no. I’m good. Steve finishes his sandwich. He spots... STEVE Chocolate? Flowers? I know we’re friends, but not like that. BEN You know who they’re for. Got to keep the average up and all that.
3. STEVE I bet. (stands) Right, I’m off-BEN Before you go, I need a favour. A really, really big one. No. Please? STEVE BEN
STEVE I’m not dating any more of Sapphire’s friends. BEN The others weren’t that bad, were they? INT. PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE - FLASHBACK (NOTE: THE FOLLOWING FLASHBACK SCENES ARE FROM STEVE’S POV.) Girl #1 is REBECCA - blonde with pigtails, orange skin clashes with her neon pink outfit. Behind Rebecca is a plain white wall, so Steve only has his date to peer at. REBECCA Steve, I know this is our first date, but I want you to come home and meet my... She shoves a Polaroid of a POODLE in front of Steve’s face. REBECCA (CONT’D) (pet talk) Schnookums! Isn’t he adorable? Yes he is! Aww, I can’t wait to go home and give him lots of cuddles! INT. PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE - FLASHBACK Girl #2 is TYLENE. Same look as Rebecca except for her rather expansive chest. She moves a fork towards her mouth. Her hand slips. The fork descends and STABS her left breast, which HISSES and DEFLATES. Embarrassed, she covers it up to maintain her composure. Uncertain giggle. Composure gone.
4. INT. PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE - FLASHBACK Girl #3 is RITA (age and gender debateable). She looks like a cross between a stocky Clint Eastwood and a serial killer. Rita gnashes her teeth at Steve. Growls. INT. PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE - FLASHBACK And #4 is RICK, an effeminate man with a thin, twiddly moustache and sharp dress sense. RICK Don’t tell me, you didn’t like Sapphire’s girlfriends and now she thinks you’re gay? The POV perspective nods. RICK (mumbles to himself; analyses fingernails) Should tell her to stop setting me up. Fifth time this month... EXT. CITY CENTRE - CONTINUOUS Steve answers Ben’s question with a glare. BEN Point taken. But when Sapphire sets you up, it’s cause she wants you to have the same unbreakable bond she has with me. (pause) Also, she’ll dump me if you don’t come on a double date tonight. Steve sighs. STEVE What’s her name? What? My date. BEN STEVE
BEN Kaley, Kylie, Carly. Can’t remember. STEVE Pièce de Résistance, eight PM?
INT. PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE - NIGHT As well as blank walls, Pièce de Résistance has plastic plants, artificial one-hundred watt candlelight, and tables laid out in a jagged formation. Steve and Ben enter wearing smart clothing. With the roses and chocolates in his possession, Ben approaches the WAITER. BEN Table of four at eight for Thomas? WAITER Ah, yes. One of your party has already arrived. This way... Waiter leads them to a nearby table. SAPPHIRE BOOTH (28, dolled in make-up, large gold hoop earrings) is there, face like she’s eaten a sour gobstopper. Waiter senses the tension. WAITER (leaves) I’ll get the hard liquor menu. Ben goes to kiss Sapphire, but she snubs him. BEN Sorry we’re late. Traffic. Here, I bought you these. Sapphire’s face further crumples when presented with the roses and chocolates. That it? SAPPHIRE
She takes the gifts, dumps them on the table, and turns her nose away in disgust. Ben and Steve take their seats during a patch of uncomfortable silence. Then, Ben laughs. Extremely forced. BEN (badly acted) As if I’d only buy you that! Ben reaches into his trouser pocket and pulls out a jewelry box. The sound of the box CLICKING open grabs Sapphire’s attention. She spins around to see an Argos catalogue style golden bracelet caked in diamonique. She squeals in delight.
6. SAPPHIRE It’s beautiful! Sapphire gives Ben a hug. Head over her shoulder, Ben shoots a look of relief to Steve. SAPPHIRE Hey, there’s Caitlin. She breaks up the hug and waves towards the entrance way. SAPPHIRE Caitlin! Over here, girl. CAITLIN HENNESSEY (24, dressed in black, luscious scarlet lips) walks to the table. She nervously runs her hand through her hair. Sit down. SAPPHIRE
Caitlin does as she’s told, cracking an diffident smile. Before she can even blink, Sapphire pitches the bracelet in her direction. SAPPHIRE Look what Ben got me. CAITLIN (unsure how to react) That’s. Good. SAPPHIRE It cost... (to Ben) How much? BEN One hundred and fifty-three credits. Ben leans back, only to have his girlfriend stare daggers at him for some reason. SAPPHIRE Show her the receipt. Oh, sorry. BEN
CAITLIN There’s no need. SAPPHIRE Yes, there is. (clenches teeth) Ben?!
7. Ben fishes out a scrunched up receipt from his wallet and hands it to Caitlin. She reluctantly unravels the paper. Glances: ROSES - 6CR, CHOCOLATES - 8CR, DIAMOND NECKLACE 153CR, CONDOMS - 5CR. CAITLIN (to Ben) You must be in a great job. BEN I’m in telemarketing. CAITLIN What do you sell? BEN Telephones. Oh. CAITLIN
INT. PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE - LATER The only change in scenery is that drinks have been served four half-full glasses of red wine. Ben and Sapphire listen to Caitlin while Steve is distant. CAITLIN So Dad took me to Valentineland a while back. I didn’t like it - too plastic. Anyway, I escaped for the day and found this rural village about four miles away. BEN What was that like? CAITLIN Oh, it was so beautiful. I want to go back there when I finish university and do some paintings. BEN Wow, that sounds amaz-SAPPHIRE Well, me and Ben are doing something better than that. He’s gonna get promoted to management, then we’ll move into a yacht. BEN But I get sea sick... Sapphire THUMPS Ben’s leg under the table. The table jumps wine spills over their glasses.
8. Ben rubs his leg. BEN So Steve, how’s work? (to Caitlin) He’s an artist too. (long pause) Steve? In a world of his own, Steve gazes at Caitlin. She doesn’t notice, a good thing considering a tiny bit of drool slips out of his mouth. Steve! BEN
Steve snaps out of the trance and wipes his mouth. Ben, Sapphire, and now Caitlin look at him weirdly. STEVE Ben, I’m off to the bathroom. You coming? BEN (chuckles) And here’s me thinking you were kidding about the flowers and chocolates... He notices Steve’s stern frown. Sure. BEN
INT. PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE TOILETS - NIGHT A clean and sterile bathroom. Ben perches where the sinks are as Steve paces back and forth in a frenzied manner. STEVE I can’t explain it. I’ve never felt this way about a girl before. BEN Have you even spoke to her yet? STEVE No. I barely know anything about Caitlin and yet I think I love her. BEN Ask her out then. STEVE I don’t know how, I’ve never asked anyone out before. How did you get with Sapphire?
9. BEN She asked me. STEVE What did she say? BEN “Buy me a drink and you can touch my boobs.” And, well, you’ve seen them. They’re the type of boobs you could spend hours rubbing your face against. STEVE I doubt that’ll work. Might do. BEN
STEVE (cynical) Really? BEN Fine. How about you relax? Clear your throat, take a deep breath, walk up and say... INT. UNKNOWN STEVE Do you want to go out sometime? On the yellow 47BW APPLICATION FORM in front of Steve, he finishes writing Do you want to go out sometime...? in the comments section. Steve is in the STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS. He hands the form to a bored CLERK (21). Takes Clerk a millisecond to detect a problem. CLERK This is the wrong form. You need a 23GN to formally ask someone out. STEVE (points) But the lady over there said to fill this one in. CLERK This is the form to have a baby. STEVE Maybe I should keep this one. You know, just in case...
10. CLERK Then you better take this too. Clerk hands him a blue application: 68MZ BREAKUP FORM THINGS ARE GOING TOO FAST. STEVE Clerk humour. Hilarious. CLERK You should see the guys in the tear gas department. They’re a riot. Clerk fetches another piece of yellow paper, the 23GN form. The only difference to the 47BW one is the name of it. CLERK Fill that in. Steve gestures how the forms are the same. Clerk shrugs. He picks a pen up from the desk, scribbles out the 47BW, crudely scrawls 23GN next to it. Hands it back to Clerk. STEVE How long ‘til I hear a response? CLERK One to two working days. INT. CONSECOTECH INDUSTRIES - DAY FIVE WORKING DAYS LATER Steve stands at his easel. He shades a pencil outline of a tree onto an A3 canvas. His concentration is broken by his boss DANIEL HUXLEY (48, stocky, sweaty, permanent Cheshire Cat smile). A word? DANIEL
STEVE What’s wrong? DANIEL What’s wrong, sir. As a Consecotech crew member, I expect you to adhere to my working standards. That includes not bringing your bit on the side to work. Pardon? STEVE
11. DANIEL There’s some broad here to see you. Make it quick, you’re already skating on thin ice. Steve grumbles. STEVE For the last time, I was gone for ten minutes. It’s my right to have a lunch break. DANIEL No it isn’t. And if you don’t like it, move to a democracy. Hippy! Daniel slogs to the door and lets Caitlin in. He flashes a sleazy grin at her. She ignores it. He then busies himself by admiring her from afar. Caitlin approaches Steve. Hey. Hey. CAITLIN STEVE
CAITLIN I got your form and... I accept your request to be your girlfriend. STEVE Great! Great. CAITLIN (holds out hand) Put it there. Steve stares at Caitlin’s hand. Eyes widen. He precariously moves his hand forward. He misses the target - the handshake is limp. When their hands release, Steve exhales an embarrassed laugh. That’s when he notices Daniel, back arched, eyes level to Caitlin’s buttocks. Caitlin turns too, disgusted. Daniel stands upright and feigns innocence. Carry on. DANIEL
CAITLIN (to Steve) Can we talk somewhere else?
Steve coughs uncomfortably. STEVE So you wanna do something tonight? There’s a new rom-com out. I hear the mandatory love interest is kooky and quirky. CAITLIN (focuses beyond Steve) I don’t like the cinema... Caitlin admires Steve’s picture in progress. She runs her finger over it, smudging the pencil outline. CAITLIN Is this yours? STEVE Yeah, I’m an artist. CAITLIN I know. Ben said while you were drooling the other night. Steve blushes. CAITLIN What are they for? I guess a place like this doesn’t want artistry. STEVE I have no idea. I paint whatever picture I want, push a red button, and they’re sent away-CAITLIN What about drinks at O’Willy’s? About ten-ish? Uh, sure. STEVE
Caitlin heads to the exit when she remembers... CAITLIN Before I forget, I have to give you this. You know how it works? She produces a DEBIT CARD from her pocket. Its surface is digitised with animated pink and purple splotches and other CGI moving gently across. The centre of it says 0CR in bold, silver lettering. Steve takes the card.
13. STEVE Yeah, I’ve got to spend a certain amount on you every month. Or else. CAITLIN Every fortnight. STEVE Fortnight? Since when? CAITLIN Five years ago. (then) See you later. Caitlin exits. On her way out she passes Daniel, who cocks an eyebrow at her. She deadpans him again. Meanwhile, Steve puts a hand to his head in disbelief. STEVE (to himself) That went well. A deep well with jagged rocks at the bottom. He turns back to Daniel. Daniel has found a pair of binoculars from somewhere. He uses them to ogle at Caitlin while she walks away off-screen. Seedy laugh. He notices Steve eyeballing him. DANIEL (still wears binoculars) Back to work! INT. O’WILLY’S BAR - NIGHT The pub is packed to the brim - the consequence of New Year’s Eve. Balloons, streamers, used party poppers decorate the place. Awful dance music blares loudly. Steve and Caitlin squeeze through the tight crowd. They hop aside various PUNTERS swaying merrily. They reach the surprisingly quiet bar area. STEVE What’re you having? CAITLIN Gin and tonic. Steve signals for the attention of the BARTENDER.
14. STEVE Gin and tonic, and a lager? He hands over the debit card. Bartender swipes the card on the cash register. The pink and purple splotches explode gleefully as the 0CR fades into 3CR blipping like a computer in a 90s Hollywood movie. INT. O’WILLY’S BAR - LATER Steve and Caitlin sit at a small round table in the corner. Their glasses are full. STEVE So how do you know Sapphire? CAITLIN We went to primary school together. It’s funny, I hadn’t spoken to her in nine years, but three weeks ago I joined that Friends Forever website. She adds me and asks if I’m seeing anyone. STEVE And you said no? CAITLIN Eventually. I don’t remember her being so bossy. Sour too. STEVE
CAITLIN No wonder I felt awkward around her. Bad vibes, you know? Blessing in disguise though. I’ve been too busy with university to find a boyfriend. STEVE What course do you take? CAITLIN Business Studies. I wanted to do Drama, but Dad said that’d be a waste of three years. STEVE Isn’t that the point of uni? They laugh.
15. CAITLIN He’s the one paying for it, so... I hardly attend anyway. Last time I went was... What’s today? Friday. October. STEVE CAITLIN
Caitlin drinks. When the glass is placed back on the table FADE TO: INT. O’WILLY’S BAR - LATER Her glass - empty, joined by additional pint, tumbler, cocktail and shot glasses. Also empty. Caitlin and Steve are pleasantly tipsy. STEVE I believe before we’re born, there’s a machine in the clouds which let’s us choose our personality and looks and all that sort of stuff... Caitlin doubles over in high-pitched laughter. STEVE I’m serious. CAITLIN If that... (restrains laugh) If that were the case, explain... Explain your boss. Steve blinks. STEVE Good point. The bell at the bar rings. BARTENDER Ladies and gentlemen, it’s almost midnight. If you could make your preparations please. Commotion as the MEN in the bar unveil presents from various hiding places. The WOMEN stand in anticipation of what they’re about to receive. Steve and Caitlin, on the other hand, don’t move an inch.
16. Bartender switches the television on. A silent plain black and pink counter counts down: 13... 12... 11... WOMEN IN BAR Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Steve’s eyes glaze in fear - “oh shit, oh shit” - he’s forgotten all about this tradition. WOMEN IN BAR (CONT’D) Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year! The men hand their gifts over in a synchronised fashion. A crescendo of torn wrapping paper followed by... WOMAN 1 (O.S.) Oh, that’s lovely. WOMAN 3 (O.S.) Wonderful! WOMAN 2 (O.S.) Diamonds? How did you know? WOMAN 4 (O.S.) The fuck is this?
Steve places a hand on Caitlin’s shoulder. STEVE Oh Caitlin, I’m so sorry. I totally forgot. All I can give you is this. Steve pecks Caitlin on the cheek as if they were under mistletoe. He withdraws his head. Waits for a reaction. Time stands still. Caitlin gazes at him - poker-faced. Then, a smile. CAITLIN It’s perfect. Her head moves to his. Lips magnetise and connect into a long, passionate kiss. EXT. O’WILLY’S BAR - CONTINUOUS A dazzling fireworks display fills the sky. Emphatic WHISTLING precedes explosions of pink and green and orange. The electronic billboards maintain the same Valentine picture, but the text says: THIS FORTNIGHT’S COUPLE’S TAX AVERAGE: 191 CREDITS... WELL DONE... And in smaller text: HAPPY NEW YEAR...
17. EXT. ART GALLERY - DAY At the top of the stairs, the city is seen in its full smoggy glory. Steve and Caitlin have their backs turned from it. They make faces at the sign above the box office showing the gallery’s prices: SINGLES - 5CR, COUPLES - 15CR. Caitlin smirks. CAITLIN I have an idea. She approaches the box office, manned by a TEENAGER too into the music blaring from his MP3 player to pay attention. Steve goes to follow. Caitlin gestures at him to stay back. She produces a 5CR bill. Teenager grunts as he removes his headphones, so clearly overworked. CAITLIN Single please. Teenager presses a button. A ticket pops up. He tears ticket from the machine and hands it to Caitlin. Thanks. CAITLIN
As Caitlin heads into the gallery, she obviously winks at Steve. He nods back. Heads to the box office himself. STEVE Single too. Too? No, one. TEENAGER STEVE
Button pushed. Ticket pops up. INT. ART GALLERY - DAY The exhibition’s theme: the pictures are famous paintings with Valentine’s head stuck over focal areas. The room is full of couples wearing lime green wristbands. Steve and Caitlin hold hands. They admire unseen pictures. STEVE Legend has it, if you remove Valentine’s head, there’s someone else underneath.
18. CAITLIN No... Could you imagine these pictures without him? From another angle, they’re looking at doctored versions of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, Edward Munch’s The Scream, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. They move to the next piece: a self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh Valentine. CAITLIN I know, how about the park next? We can go on the swings. STEVE I haven’t fit in those swings since I was twelve. CAITLIN And you let that stop you? Hey! SECURITY GUARD (O.S.)
A SECURITY GUARD (36), authoritative and bulky, storms up. SECURITY GUARD Where’s your wristbands? Pardon? STEVE
SECURITY GUARD (re: nearby couple) All couples must wear those wristbands, and you’re not. We don’t take kindly to cheapskates. CAITLIN Just cause I’m a girl, and he’s a boy, it doesn’t mean we’re a couple. Security Guard sees Steve and Caitlin holding hands. He raises his head. Another explanation, perhaps? Mmm-hmm? SECURITY GUARD
CAITLIN He’s my pimp. Get out. MONTAGE. SECURITY GUARD
19. EXT. ART GALLERY - DAY Steve and Caitlin gallop from the gallery, laughing. Security Guard watches from the door in disapproval. EXT. PARK - DAY Steve and Caitlin come across a vacant children’s park. Beside the swings is a see-saw. They look at each other. Caitlin suggestively tilts her head in that direction. INT. APARTMENT (STEVE’S BEDROOM) - NIGHT They stand eye to eye next to a blank A4 canvas. Steve reveals a wet paintbrush. He dabs the canvas with a thick black line. EXT. BEACH - DAY Steve draws on the beach surface with a giant soggy stick. EXT. PARK - CONTINUOUS Caitlin sits in a swing. She sways side to side. Steve goes to sit in the one next to her, but it’s too narrow. He stands back up and examines it. EXT. BEACH - CONTINUOUS The drawing is of a love heart. Caitlin snatches the stick off Steve. She starts to scribble the drawing out. Steve playfully tries to reclaim the stick. INT. APARTMENT (STEVE’S BEDROOM) - CONTINUOUS Caitlin adamantly keeps hold of the paintbrush despite Steve’s jokey protest. She marks the canvas. EXT. PARK - CONTINUOUS Steve stands on the swing. He thrusts his body forward. The swing slips, and he plummets to the soft wood chipping below. While laughing hysterically, Caitlin mounts the see-saw. Steve gets to his feet. He sees Caitlin, who nods at him to join her.
20. EXT. BEACH - CONTINUOUS Caitlin refuses to let go of the stick so Steve wrestles her to the ground. They roll about on the sand. INT. APARTMENT (STEVE’S BEDROOM) - CONTINUOUS Steve drops the paintbrush. He grabs Caitlin. They tumble onto the bed. EXT. BEACH - CONTINUOUS As they roll, Caitlin finds her way on top. Their eyes meet. EXT. PARK - CONTINUOUS Steve and Caitlin on the see-saw. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Both giddy in delight. Nearby, an OLD COUPLE on a ‘posh’ horse and cart ride stare in repugnance. What they see is purely absurd. Steve and Caitlin don’t notice them. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. INT. APARTMENT (STEVE’S BEDROOM) - MORNING In bed together, Caitlin sleeps while Steve, arm around her shoulder, is wide awake. Wired. Wow. STEVE
Opposite them is the canvas. The painting: Steve and Caitlin hold hands in the middle of a field, back turned, glancing up at a strip of sugary pink sky. To the side is an upright house made of twigs and branches. Apart from the sky, the painting is uncoloured. END MONTAGE. INT. APARTMENT (STEVE’S BEDROOM) - DAY Resembles a university halls of residence. Objects strewn everywhere, crooked posters on the wall, used dishes and cutlery populate the coffee table. Ben has somehow found room to prop his feet on the table too.
21. Steve comes out of his bedroom with Caitlin. He guides her to the front door. Bye. STEVE
One last kiss and she departs. Soon as Steve closes the door, he bounces up and down in exuberance. Fist pumps the air. STEVE Guess what? I had sex last night! Ben is blind-sided by Steve’s bluntness. BEN That’s not the sort of thing you announce, but good for you. STEVE Best minute of my life... BEN Things are going well between you two then? STEVE She’s amazing. Simply amazing. She’s a great girl. Sweet, funny, smart. My life was dull before her. I can’t believe I was stuck in that same routine every day with nothing to look forward to. But now I do. I’m sure you know what I mean? BEN Nope. Life was no different before I met Sapphire. (looks at watch) Speaking of... Ben picks up the remote control, next to a white sock swamped in dirt, and changes the channel. ANGLE - TELEVISION A news channel. Cue unnecessary CGI EXPLOSIONS that lead into a swirling, silvery, monolithic graphic saying: FORTNIGHTLY COUPLES TAX REPORT. Another EXPLOSION transitions to the NEWS ANCHOR (late 50s, grey haired, droopy eyed, monotone delivery). NEWS ANCHOR The average Couples Tax for the fortnight ending January 14th is two hundred and thirty credits. (MORE)
22. NEWS ANCHOR (CONT'D) The legal minimum amount is five percent below average, which means you must have spent two hundred and eighteen credits this time. With Valentine’s Day only thirty-one shopping days away, the average will sky-rocket in the next month. BACK TO SCENE. Ben takes out his debit card. Fears the worst. He’s fine though: 264CR blinks on his card in congratulations. Steve reacts indifferently to his amount: 32CR. Oh well. Ben panics. BEN Thirty-two credits?! How did you only spend thirty-two credits?! STEVE We just love each other’s company. BEN You’re in big trouble! STEVE I’ll be fine. BEN Don’t you realise what happens? The police will hunt you down like a dog. They’ll give you a ticket, and tell you you’ll end up in court the next time you cheapskate on your girlfriend. Then the third time you break the law... (dizzily) I don’t know what happens, but imagining it makes me feel sick. Steve laughs. Really? Yeah. STEVE BEN STEVE
STEVE How do you know? Ben hesitates.
23. BEN I’ve had a ticket. Steve is stunned by this revelation. STEVE You?! You broke the law?! Why didn’t I hear about this? BEN That’s not the sort of thing I’d announce. (then) Totally my fault though. I bought Sapphire a two-hundred credit gold watch. But it didn’t go with her work outfit, so she returned it without telling me. I should’ve checked with her first before buying the damn thing. In the end, I was below average by two credits. Ben stands. He heads to his bedroom. STEVE Ben... Do you love Sapphire? BEN Course I do. I buy her many nice things. Dark expression on his face, Ben leaves the room. INT. STREET - EVENING With a field on one side and busy road on the other, Caitlin and Steve wander, deep in conversation. Their perkiness of late is distinctly subdued. As they walk, folksy music that starts faintly in the background becomes increasingly louder. STEVE I’ve never seen Ben like that. He knows Sapphire’s only with him for the money. Duh. CAITLIN
STEVE Promise me, if we become anything like them, let’s end it.
24. CAITLIN I’ll go one better: buy me anything as tacky as Sapphire’s earrings and I’ll cut your balls off. Steve’s smile is disrupted when he hears the music. STEVE Do you hear that? CAITLIN Let’s check it out! They charge into the field. EXT. FIELD - MOMENTS LATER Caitlin lights up in excitement. Woah... CAITLIN
The field is heaving with a couple of dozen HIPPIES. Couples hug around campfires, acoustic guitars, hacky-sack, other humble activities. Think Glastonbury except these folks aren’t estate agents fifty-one weeks per year. Come on... CAITLIN
She impatiently leads Steve into the thick of it. But as they submerge deep into the crowd... A POLICE HELICOPTER materialises from behind the trees! It directs a spotlight over the Hippies. On the ground, POLICE VANS and CARS appear. POLICEMEN pile out of the vehicles - their formation as they circle the Hippies clearly rehearsed. COP IN CHOPPER (O.S.) (through PA system) Attention cheapskates, this is the police. Please form an orderly queue. A RAGGED MALE HIPPY and his GIRLFRIEND walk by. RAGGED HIPPY Why us? Ooohhh! Ragged Hippy picks up a 5CR note from the ground. RAGGED HIPPY Guess we’re smoking tonight!
25. CAITLIN Steve, watch out. Steve doesn’t see a police officer (call him BOB) with a baton next to him. Bob prods Steve in the ribs and forces him into the orderly queue. Bob forces Caitlin to where all the FEMALE HIPPIES stand. Next to her is a Voodoo-Queen dressed lady. VOODOO QUEEN LADY Oh, how awful... CAITLIN (to Bob) What are you doing? BOB Surprise Couples Tax test. CAITLIN Buy why them? Bob scans Caitlin, head to toe. BOB Judging by those clothes, your boyfriend ain’t treating you right. In the queue, Steve is confronted by PETE (35) behind him. Despite the hippy look, Pete is enraged - an image enhanced through his frown lines and crooked teeth. PETE The way love is taxed is bullshit. The whole system needs to be brought down. I guess. STEVE
PETE I have a plan, me. My men will gut Valentine, choke him to death with his own intestines, and feast on his eyeballs as they pop out of their sockets. Pete manically laughs. Okay... STEVE
Steve turns to the man in front of him: JAMES TRENT (65, hippy, calm, collected, youthful for his age).
26. JAMES Don’t mind Pete. He’s the type they make anti-drug adverts about. Pete doesn’t notice this comment. He’s too busy punching himself in the face. STEVE I’m Steve. Steve Burbank. JAMES James Trent. STEVE Do you agree with him? Bringing down the system? JAMES Through non-violent means, yes. Out of all the things they could’ve taxed: pollution, inheritance, cigarettes for kids; they tax something you can only feel inside? STEVE It’s a crock. JAMES This the first time you’re in trouble? Yeah. You? STEVE
JAMES Ninth and counting. And I’ll continue breaking the law. They may’ve taken my manhood, but they can’t take away my feelings for my soulmate Linda. STEVE How do you-Next! I’m up. VOICE (O.S.) JAMES
STEVE Nice meeting you, James. James steps forward. Voice belongs to a police officer called LEE. Lee’s face brightens when he sees who’s approaching. LEE James... Again?
27. JAMES What can I say? I love you pigs. LEE And we love sweaty hippies. JAMES How’s Trudy and the kids? LEE They’re doing great. Gracie won a competition at school to design a Valentine’s Day parade float. Great! JAMES
INT. APARTMENT (LIVING ROOM) - NIGHT ANGLE - TELEVISION Run-of-the-mill car advert. Car drives down an open desert road at speeds that can’t be legally reached on a school run. The soundtrack is life affirming, wide-eyed, twee, indie sung by a knock-off Zooey Deschanel. BACK TO SCENE. Ben and Sapphire watch the advert. SAPPHIRE Aww, I love this song. (then) Buy me that car! Steve enters the apartment. He clutches a ticket scrawled with blood red writing; the word WARNING in clear view. STEVE You were right, Ben. They got me. Sapphire stretches her neck to see the ticket. SAPPHIRE (to Ben) Hey, remember when you got a ticket like that? So funny. STEVE What am I going to do? SAPPHIRE Spend more money. A girl must be spent on, darling.
28. STEVE I’d love to. Caitlin deserves the world. But I’m an artist. The difference between us and hobos is they don’t have to pay bills. Steve crouches down. Rubs his head and neck. BEN You have two options, I’m afraid. Steve looks back up. BEN Go to the Relationship Office, fill out the form, and end it with Caitlin for now. STEVE And the second choice? BEN Do something desperate. STEVE Play the lottery? BEN Something less desperate than that. INT. BURGERMANIA - EVENING Steve wears a Burgermania uniform: bright yellow hat, apron, shirt, trousers trimmed with red. Sat in the eating area, he views the induction video on a wheeled-in television. CUSTOMERS glare at him. ANGLE - TELEVISION A video of a colourful if basic animation, cute and childish. A large cartoon hand leads a small cartoon cow into a medium cartoon slaughterhouse. NARRATOR (V.O.) Here at Burgermania, our Burger-U’s and Burger-Roos are made from twenty-five percent beef, and seventy-five percent L-O-V-E. Hand herds cow into the slaughterhouse. Then the sound of RAZORS CUTTING and DISTRESSED MOOING. Quick scrolling text at the bottom: NOTE - L-O-V-E. IS A COMPOUND OF LIMONENE, OCTAFLUOROPROPANE, VIAGRA, and EPICHLOROHYDRIN. Text is hard to detect at full speed. BACK TO SCENE.
29. Steve stares in dismay. INT. BURGERMANIA - LATER Behind the counter, Steve miserably serves a CUSTOMER. He hands them their change. STEVE Have a Burgermanic day. When Customer walks away, SEBASTIAN (34) confronts him. You can tell Sebastian is the team leader as his uniform is marginally more dignified. SEBASTIAN I love the way you don’t make the customers feel welcome. STEVE Sorry, sir. SEBASTIAN This is supposed to be a positive experience. Adults and children work hard all day. They want to come to this place to relax and be in a state of elation. Not a care in the world. This is their daily dose of ecstacy. Long, long pause. STEVE What do you--? SEBASTIAN Smile, Steve! Smile! Steve forces a skewed smile, like Arnie’s in Terminator 2. Sebastian gives him a patronising thumbs up and heads into his office. Steve’s smile drops when he sees his next customer: Daniel. Daniel bursts out laughing, booming so loud that other CUSTOMERS stop what they’re doing. He laps it up still after he reaches Steve. DANIEL So this is why you rushed off after work... STEVE I need the money.
30. DANIEL Why didn’t you ask me for it? I have plenty of lawns to be mowed, cars to be washed, shoes to be shined... STEVE I still have my dignity. SEBASTIAN (O.S.) Steve, the milkshake machine’s clogged up again. STEVE (at Daniel; coldly) On it. Steve ambles to the milkshake machine. He pulls the lever despite the deafening feedback, nothing leaks out. He opens the machine up. Jigs about with the knobs and switches. Twists a plastic cog undone-Chocolate milkshake SPURTS all over Steve! It splatters his uniform and face. The colour and texture look like manure. Daniel uncontrollably laughs again. Sebastian steps out of his office. SEBASTIAN What’s all the-Sees Steve. Now he’s laughing too. Steve wipes milkshake off his face with his hands. He flings the excess sideways down. BEGIN SEQUENCE. INT. CONSECOTECH INDUSTRIES - DAY With bags under his eyes, Steve paints a new picture. It’s not beautiful - an open grave to be precise. Heavy emphasis on blacks, browns, and greys. He colours in the tombstone until his hand slips. A large squiggle goes beyond the sketch line. Steve grumbles. INT. BURGERMANIA - NIGHT Steve works the burger section. He hurriedly wraps a cheeseburger up. Slides it into the front display area.
31. He repeats the process two more times. However the packaging of the second burger comes undone. Splits apart on the display shelf. Cue Sebastian with the offending burger. Sorry. STEVE
SEBASTIAN Treat every burger like a baby. Be gentle, take your time. You don’t want to commit involuntary burgerslaughter and do a stretch, do you? Steve blinks in response. BLEEP! A new order. On the overhead screen: 11 BURGER-ROOS... Steve squints beyond his station at the counter. THREE OBESE PEOPLE (husband, wife, child) are responsible for the order. WOMAN ON COUNTER (O.S.) We need eleven Burger-roos. Steve grits his teeth. INT. APARTMENT (LIVING ROOM) - NIGHT Steve opens the door to see Caitlin. He wants to smile but he stoops over, withdrawn. Her initial enthusiasm drains as she steps inside. He presents a box of chocolates to Caitlin which, like Ben’s were, seem expensive just from the packaging. She raises a courteous smile. INT. BURGERMANIA - CONTINUOUS Sebastian scrutinises Steve, who grills burgers. An alarm BEEPS. Steve pops open the grill plate, grabs a spatula and flips the patties. The first few flips are fine, but the fourth one launches into the air. It SPLATS onto the dusty floor. A moment of indecision. Steve picks the burger up and approaches the bin. SEBASTIAN What are you doing with that?
32. STEVE It went on the floor. Sebastian storms forward. He snatches the burger off him and throws it back on the grill. SEBASTIAN The heat will kill the germs. Will it? STEVE
Sebastian takes Steve’s spatula. He presses the contaminated food with force, blackening the meat. SEBASTIAN Which one of us has been on a halfday hygiene course? (pause) Exactly. He scrapes the burger up and places it on a ready positioned bun. Slaps a slice of American cheese on top. INT. APARTMENT (LIVING ROOM) - CONTINUOUS Caitlin opens the DVD player disc slot. CAITLIN You’ll love this. It’s a documentary about-She glances over her shoulder. Steve has fallen asleep. He rolls over and traps his left nostril against the settee, causing a high pitched snore. INT. CONSECOTECH INDUSTRIES - CONTINUOUS Steve views the mistake on his picture. Daniel joins in with exaggerated tut-tutting. DANIEL Another screw-up? His employee pulls an angry face. INT. BURGERMANIA - CONTINUOUS A batch of twelve burgers ready for dispatch. Pay attention to the contaminated burger, marked with a red sticker for some procedural reason.
33. It’s the last burger on the display, sliding to the front when the Obese Family’s order is fulfilled. BEN (O.S.) One Burger-Roo please. Steve hears this. Steps to the front in time to see Ben receive the contaminated burger. Hey Steve. BEN
Before Steve can react, Ben has the burger out. He sinks his teeth into it - ketchup dripping to the ground. Relieved look from Ben. BEN Been starving all day. I’ll see you at home? Sure. STEVE
As Ben leaves the restaurant, he takes another bite. INT. APARTMENT (LIVING ROOM) - CONTINUOUS The lights are off. The only illumination comes from the television. Steve snores while Caitlin cradles her legs with her arms. She gloomily acknowledges her boyfriend. INT. CONSECOTECH INDUSTRIES - CONTINUOUS Daniel takes off his glasses, blows on them, rubs them using his shirt. For a moment, his beady eyes are seen. DANIEL Oh by the way, the million credit contract from the state came through. If you do overtime for the next few weeks, I’ll pay you ten times your normal wage. Steve doesn’t react. He knows what’s next. DANIEL Wait, you can’t! You’re too busy flipping burgers! Grating laugh from Daniel.
34. INT. APARTMENT (LIVING ROOM) - CONTINUOUS The evening is over. Barely awake, Steve dozily guides Caitlin to the door. She steps into the corridor and prepares for a kiss. Without thinking, Steve closes the door on her. INT. APARTMENT (CORRIDOR) - CONTINUOUS Caitlin stands there. Dumbfounded. END SEQUENCE. INT. FRENCH RESTAURANT - NIGHT This place is more upmarket than the Pièce de Résistance. Art deco design, reserved atmosphere, strict food portions... In a suit, Steve enters. Reluctantly behind him is Caitlin in a sparkling dress that doesn’t suit her personality, awkwardness etched on her face. CAITLIN (whispers) This doesn’t feel right. Steve ignores her. He flags down a FRENCH WAITER (40). FRENCH WAITER Would monsieur like a table? STEVE Monsieur would. Grabbing a couple of menus on the way, French Waiter leads them to their table. Steve’s urgency makes him walk side by side with Waiter. INT. FRENCH RESTAURANT - LATER At their table, Steve reads a menu as Caitlin glares at him. The tension between the two contradicts the upbeat classical music in the background. CAITLIN Can’t we go somewhere else? STEVE Why? This is a nice place. A nice expensive place.
35. CAITLIN This isn’t us. How about the arcade? That’s us. STEVE Do they still have the ski machine that eats up ten credits a go? No. CAITLIN
STEVE Then no. I have an average to meet. Caitlin drops the conversation. Silence. French Waiter appears again with a notepad open. FRENCH WAITER Ready to order? No-CAITLIN
STEVE Yes. I’ll have the lobster, the caviar, and your finest champagne. FRENCH WAITER (writes order down) How common. And for you, madam? Caitlin picks her menu up. Salad. CAITLIN
STEVE (to Waiter) With caviar. Her eyes narrow in anger. CAITLIN And a glass of water. STEVE (to Waiter) Make that red wine. What’s the most vintage on the menu? FRENCH WAITER Blackeux, circa Ninteen Ninety Eight. Not vintage, we just forgot the bottle was in the pantry. STEVE That’ll do.
36. CAITLIN (loud) What’s your problem?! Steve looks bemused. STEVE Nothing. Nothing’s the problem. CAITLIN Then why are you treating me like a high class whore? What? STEVE
CAITLIN Throwing your money around like it’s no object. This isn’t who I fell in love with. STEVE You don’t love me now? Caitlin rises from her seat and storms away. Steve immediately gives chase. French Waiter crosses out the order with a “humph”. EXT. FRENCH RESTAURANT - CONTINUOUS Caitlin stomps out of the restaurant, wiping a tear from her eye. Steve shadows her. STEVE Come on, there’s no need to cry. CAITLIN Isn’t there? STEVE I don’t know. Caitlin hails a taxi. STEVE Where are you going? CAITLIN Bed. I’ve had enough for one night. STEVE Great! You know, I’ve been slaving away at two jobs, being treat like dirt in one, crap in the other. I barely have the time in the day to eat - and it’s all because of you. (MORE)
37. STEVE (CONT'D) So stop acting so selfishly and get back in here. Steve pauses, realising what he just said. STEVE I’m... I’m sorry. I’m so stressed. A taxi pulls up. CAITLIN Goodbye, Steve. (to Taxi Driver) How much to Wayland Road? TAXI DRIVER (O.S.) Nine credits. Caitlin climbs into the taxi. It drives away. STEVE Wait a minute... Steve pulls the debit card out from his pocket. Flashes it high in the air. STEVE (CONT’D) ...Pay with this! Taxi heads far into the distance before it turns a corner. A rumble of thunder, followed by the heavens opening. Rain pelts hard on Steve as he looks mournful. INT. APARTMENT (LIVING ROOM) - NIGHT Steve enters, soaking wet. Vegged out in front of the television and chewing bubble gum, Sapphire nods at him. STEVE Ben still got food poisoning? Yup. SAPPHIRE
From the bathroom, Ben VOMITS. Steve heads to his bedroom when, with a sigh, he readdresses Sapphire. Sapphire blows a bubble, which obnoxiously pops. STEVE Sapphire, you’re a woman-SAPPHIRE (re: breasts) These ain’t sugar bags.
38. Steve blinks. STEVE Anyway, I got into an argument with Caitlin tonight. She doesn’t seem to like the way I’m spending money on her even though I have to. What can I do? SAPPHIRE Here’s a tip for you, hon. When women say one thing, we mean another. Men are dumb so it’s our way to call you everything under the sun without you realising. For example: I think you’re a smart guy. Get what I mean? I think. STEVE
SAPPHIRE See? I just called you thick and you didn’t even notice. STEVE I’m off to my room... He goes to walk off. SAPPHIRE Don’t leave, I’m only playing. (then) Better example: if a woman claims sex doesn’t matter, it means you’re crap in bed. STEVE (thinks to himself) She’s said that too... SAPPHIRE When Caitlin goes on about money, she’s angry you’re only spending it cause you were issued with a warning. You should’ve spoilt her rotten from the start. Seriously? STEVE
SAPPHIRE Yeah. Why don’t you go round and sort things out? Here, give her this...
39. Sapphire picks up a GOLDEN BRACELET from behind a milk carton on the coffee table. It’s chunky and bling - looks as though it belongs to a hip-hop artist’s bodyguard. Steve takes it. Thanks! STEVE
With determination, Steve exits the flat. ANGLE - TELEVISION The news channel. Unnecessary CGI EXPLOSIONS that lead into a monolithic graphic saying: FORTNIGHTLY COUPLES TAX REPORT. Another explosion transitions to News Anchor. NEWS ANCHOR Before tonight’s report, here’s the story of Jake Trueblood who last week scooped the lottery, winning nineteen million credits. B-Roll of JAKE TRUEBLOOD (55) and his wife AMANDA (54). They wave towards the camera. NEWS ANCHOR (V.O.; CONT’D) Jake used the winnings to buy his wife Amanda the greatest gift of all: Barbados. Picture of the Barbados coastline before returning to Anchor. NEWS ANCHOR (CONT’D) Thanks to that, the fortnightly average has risen to four-hundred and thirty-seven credits, with the legal minimum at four-hundred and sixteen. Police reports indicate those beneath that will be arrested as soon as possible-BACK TO SCENE. A SWAT TEAM CRASHES INTO THE APARTMENT, SMASHING through the door and windows. Sapphire yelps in surprise as they enter, guns out, cocked for action. From the bathroom, Ben VOMITS. SWAT TEAM MEMBER (re: bathroom) In there. TWO SWAT MEMBERS go either side of the bathroom door. They RAM it clean off its hinges.
40. Inside the bathroom: the pathetic image of Ben, skin whiteyellow like brie, head halfway down the toilet bowl. They drag Ben into the living room and onto his feet. Delirious, head wobbling about, Ben could puke at any moment. SWAT TEAM MEMBER Where’s Steve Burbank? SAPPHIRE (reluctant) He left a minute ago. SWAT TEAM MEMBER Damn it! (to Ben) Let’s go. SWAT Team Member grabs Ben by the shoulder. He leads him out. BEN Sapphire... Help me... Sapphire folds her arms. SAPPHIRE (nose in air) Hmph... Where’s my Barbados? Ben’s cheeks expand as he’s forced away. EXT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE - NIGHT Caitlin’s house is a three storey mansion - a ye olde structure wrapped in vines. The garden’s greenery clashes with the concrete city. Steve’s awed reaction shows this is the first time he’s been here. He walks down the long, pebbled driveway. He’s about to knock on the door when it heavily creaks open. There in her pyjamas: Caitlin. Yeah? CAITLIN
STEVE How did you know I was here? She directs his attention to the top of the door, a shrub, and a plastic flamingo - security cameras attached to all. The flamingo’s eye whirs. CAITLIN Lucky I saw you first.
CAITLIN Why are you here? Or is trespassing another trait you hid from me? STEVE I want to apologise. Oh? CAITLIN
STEVE Do you know how many girlfriends I’ve had? One. And that was at primary school. Sexually I’ve had nothing. Well, my flatmates at uni claim I got hammered and slept with some girl called June, but I... Caitlin rolls her eyes. STEVE (CONT’D) Point is, I don’t ‘get’ women. But after talking to one, I know what every woman wants. I got you this... Steve pulls out the chunky gold bracelet. It shines dully in the moonlight. CAITLIN You don’t get it, do you? STEVE Isn’t it chunky enough? Caitlin PUNCHES him in the upper arm. Ow! STEVE
CAITLIN Take a look around, Steve! All my life; my Dad, my boyfriends they’ve treat me like a monster that feeds on material goods. Mistaking me for someone like... (re: bracelet) Sapphire. (then) They’ve never loved me, or bothered to get to know the real me. I thought I’d found someone different. Guess I was wrong.
42. STEVE But what about the Couples Tax? I must spend money. CAITLIN (sadly) I know. Caitlin closes the door. Rejected, Steve slumps back up the driveway. He places the chunky gold bracelet inside his trouser pocket. EXT. STREET OUTSIDE CAITLIN’S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS When Steve steps beyond the drive, a spotlight shines on him-It’s the police chopper! On the ground, a police car intercepts Steve. TWO POLICEMEN jump out and stampede at him-Steve holds his hands up without instruction. This doesn’t stop the Policemen as they grab their batons. They CLOUT Steve in his ribs and arms-- A STRIKE to Steve’s face. His top lip BLEEDS-He struggles to keep consciousness as he collapses to his knees-- A baton shot to his back-They handcuff Steve and push him down onto the pavement. Steve looks up. ANGLE - STEVE’S POV A Policeman’s boot slams towards his face-BLACK OUT. FADE IN: INT. COURT - DAY Traditional wooden design replaced with stainless steel. The witness stand is a rotting cage. No jury - just a PRESS PIT full of JOURNALISTS taking notes and photographs. Defendants Steve and Ben (still ill) stand in their section alone, prison uniforms over the clothes they were arrested in. They’re excessively handcuffed. TEN LAWYERS are prosecuting.
43. The JUDGE (56) sits in his normal position. Next to him: a replica of the Old Bailey statue, except its face has been replaced with Valentine’s. JUDGE I find the defendants guilty. Steve and Ben are astonished. Ben tries to cover his hand to prevent sickness, but the handcuffs restrict him. Thankfully it’s just dry heaving. STEVE But the case hasn’t started! Judge slams his gold plated gavel. JUDGE Mister Burbank, any more from you and you’ll be charged with contempt. BEN He’s sorry, your greatness. JUDGE Mister Thomas - the police say you were physically incapable of buying gifts due to illness. You’re free to go this time on the condition you’re not sick all over the courtroom carpets. A great weight lifts from Ben’s shoulders. JUDGE As for you Mister Burbank... I haven’t seen such cheapskatery in all my years. You were one-hundred percent under the spending average this past fortnight. STEVE In all fairness, many people were-The gavel slams again. JUDGE Not to your degree, Mister Burbank. Why, I ought to send you to the third stage now. But the law states you have one more chance, so I have no alternative but to-VOICE (O.S.) Maybe you can, your honour.
44. One of the ten lawyers stands up. He’s small in stature weedy, nasal, punchable face. Go on... JUDGE
LAWYER (to Steve) Mister Burbank, on what date did you receive your debit card? STEVE New Year’s Eve. LAWYER Correct, and the spending round ended on that day. Therefore you were obligated to spend up to the average then as well. STEVE I was never told anything. Surely that’s a fault with the system? LAWYER No, it’s your fault for not declaring it. JUDGE Mister Burbank, you’re charged with withholding money and fraud. Your relationship with Caitlin Hennessey is hereby terminated. You’re banned from having a relationship for five years, after which you’ll only use dating websites with this as your profile picture: Judge presses a button. Projected on the wall: an image of Steve red-faced, shirtless, inebriated, licking cheese sauce off his forearm. JUDGE I also sentence you to The Machine. Decisive gavel slam. Ben panics as Steve grows quiet. A GUARD grabs Steve by the shoulder and leads him away. BEN (hysterical) What? Is he sentenced to death? What’s The Machine? What’s gonna happen? What?! JUDGE Mister Thomas...
45. BEN (like a scolded child) Sorry sir. INT. HOLDING CELL - DAY Officer Baxter (he who accompanied Pale Man on page 2) leads Steve to a series of holding cells. Baxter opens the cell door to the left. Pushes Steve in. Slams the door shut. Wait here. Baxter walks away. Steve throws his arms up. He steps backwards and sits on the bench in there. Shields face with his hands, contemplating. That’s when an alarm clock goes off. In the cell next to him: a man sleeps on the bench - pillows, duvet and all. Man switches alarm off. He raises his arms, yawns, and sits up. It’s... James? STEVE BAXTER
James Trent rubs his eyes. JAMES Hey, if it isn’t Steve. It is Steve, right? Right. STEVE
JAMES How are you doing? STEVE I’m in jail, so not good. (then) Have you been here since the park thing? That was two weeks ago. JAMES (chuckles) Oh no... James climbs to his feet. He advances to the edge of the cell so he’s closer to Steve. JAMES (CONT’D) I’m three minor offenses removed from that. (MORE)
46. JAMES (CONT’D) This time it’s for distributing offensive materials. You heard of the Kama Sutra? STEVE Is that the one where the book store owner dates a movie star? JAMES Never mind. I’m guessing you’re here for The Machine? STEVE Hey, wait! You know! Tell me what The Machine is. JAMES I’m not doing that. Why? STEVE
JAMES Because you’re better off thinking the worst thing imaginable than knowing the truth. Trust me. STEVE The worst thing is death? James motions to his not-dead self. Not death. STEVE
Steve paces manically - his imagination open to all sorts of possibilities now. STEVE I’m scared. JAMES There’s nothing to be afraid of. STEVE There is. A million things. The regime for one... JAMES Pfft, I went to school with Valentine. We called him Mister Squeaky as he talked like a mouse. STEVE I didn’t know that.
47. JAMES He doesn’t matter. You and your girlfriend together - that matters. STEVE We’re... Not... JAMES Oh. I’m so sorry to hear that. I really am. Officer Baxter returns. He opens Steve’s cell and motions at him. Steve tightly grips the cell wall. Baxter steps in and pries Steve out with ease. As James gives Steve a gentle nod, Baxter produces a black blindfold. He wraps it over Steve’s eyes. Unable to see, Steve struggles. ANGLE - STEVE’S POV Total darkness. Let me go! STEVE
Footsteps indicate they are on the move. EXT. POLICE STATION (ALLEYWAY) - CONTINUOUS Baxter guides Steve down the alleyway next to the police station and into the building adjacent. STEVE Where are you taking me? INT. UNKNOWN ROOM - DAY ANGLE - STEVE’S POV A flurry of sounds: DOOR SLAMMING and LOCKING! RATTLING! SHUFFLING! CLUNKING! BELTS TIGHTENING! Steve exhales groans as he struggles to escape. BAXTER Hey, relax. Blindfold is removed to reveal... RELAX! Steve’s poster of the open grave and tombstone now completed, RELAX! slogan added. It’s stuck to the ceiling, like a poster found at the dentist.
48. BACK TO SCENE. Steve is tied to The Machine! An archaic contraption made of splintered wood, The Machine combines a rowing machine with a ducking stool and pulley system. Steve’s arms and legs are strapped down with belts. The Machine is wired to a big red button on the wall. Behind The Machine: a Perspex wall with a room behind it. TWO UNIFORMED OFFICIALS observe from within. Baxter stands over Steve. STEVE What’s going on? BAXTER It’s your right to have a demonstration first. STEVE I don’t want one. BAXTER It’s not your right to turn the demonstration down. Baxter lifts a part of The Machine in between Steve’s legs up. It’s a LARGE RUSTY KNIFE WITH CLAWS ON THE SIDE. For every inch the knife moves, Steve’s arms are drawn closer together to his thighs due to The Machine’s detachable parts. They hold him in place. The knife is brought towards Steve’s crotch. BAXTER Guess what the knife’s aiming for. Steve gasps. STEVE But I need that to make Steve Junior with! Baxter sets the knife back to the starting position. Steve pulls his arms to try to loosen the straps. The right strap ever so slightly comes undone. Steve concentrates fully on the right arm. His determination and desperation brings him close to tears. Too late. Baxter struts to the big red button. He salivates.
He presses the big red button! The Machine’s arms detach and shoot towards the thighs-Knife pelts at his crotch with immense speed-But when Steve’s arms press against his legs, Machine JAMS! The knife stands millimeters away from his crotch. Steve tussles with the right belt again. BAXTER What the--?! Baxter approaches The Machine. Analyses it. Steve wriggles his arm. The belt finally comes undone. He nurses the free arm. Baxter goes to Steve’s eye level, only to be PUNCHED in between the eyes. Baxter flops to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Yes! STEVE
The Two Uniformed Officials rush away from their Perspex box. Steve releases his left arm and works on untying his feet. Baxter gets up. He rubs his face in sheer pain. BAXTER You son-of-a-bitch! Right leg is loosened, which Steve uses to awkwardly sweep Baxter in the knees. Baxter wobbles backwards, off balance. Baxter fumes. Rolls up his sleeves. BAXTER If that’s how you want to play... He storms forward. Steve sticks out his foot. It takes Baxter by surprise as he trips and SMACKS head first on the edge of The Machine! KNOCKED OUT. Steve searches through his own trouser pocket. He fishes out the chunky gold bracelet. He looks back at The Machine. Puts two and two together.
50. Baxter then groans, which motivates Steve to hurry up unstrapping his left leg. Does so. Steve then crouches over. Rummaging in Baxter’s pocket, he finds the key to the door. INT. CORRIDOR - CONTINUOUS Steve exits. His jaw immediately drops. Across the hallway, Daniel’s jaw also drops at the sight of Steve. Tense stare down ensues. Stop! Steve runs away. The Two Uniformed Officers chase right behind him. EXT. POLICE STATION (ALLEYWAY) - CONTINUOUS Unaware he was here while blindfolded, Steve takes cover behind a wheelie bin. The Two Uniformed Officers dash past into a CROWD OF PEOPLE. Steve takes a moment before his next move. EXT. CONSECOTECH INDUSTRIES - CONTINUOUS Behind the bench, Steve darkly stares at the Consecotech Industries building - confirmation he was just in there. Like a spy, Steve moves in the ready stance. Head shifts from left to right, body as tight to his surroundings as possible. Checks the coast is clear. It is. He casually stands up and walks away, whistling innocently. Whistling transforms to humming. STEVE (hums) Mm-hm-hm-mm... An ALARM. The electronic billboards above go from the Valentine’s Day countdown to a picture of Steve’s mugshot - caption of: WANTED DOA, D PREFERRED... Steve quietly shrieks. He takes cover back in the alleyway. UNIFORMED OFFICER 1 (O.S.)
51. EXT. POLICE STATION (ALLEYWAY) - CONTINUOUS Steve dashes down the alleyway. His foot comes close to treading on a RAT. This leads to... EXT. MAIN STREET - CONTINUOUS He hides behind a sign that says: VALENTINE’S DAY CELEBRATIONS... ROADS CLOSED BETWEEN SEPTEMBER 17TH AND APRIL 10TH... ACCEPT DELAYS... The street resembles a Thanksgiving parade. Makeshift stands have been constructed and pink/red decorations are hung up. There’s plenty of hubbub as a dress rehearsal takes place. Steve goes to stand. Aborts when a MAN DRESSED AS CUPID, with arrows made of SHARP FLINT, strolls past. When Cupid exits, Steve scuttles to the portable toilet. A GREASY MAN urinates (with the door open) wearing only his boxer shorts. His furry but unidentifiable costume leans against the toilet outside. Steve grabs it. EXT. CITY CENTRE - DAY It’s a non-copyrighted version of a Care Bear costume! Pink light projects from a plastic heart on its stomach. Steve hobbles along in the costume. He hands out leaflets to random members of the PUBLIC. STEVE (goofy voice) Don’t forget about Valentine’s Day! MEMBER OF PUBLIC Hard not to. STEVE Good point... (goofy voice) February fourteenth. Be there or incur a fixed thirty credit fine. A DRAINING NOISE. The pink light fades away. Steve inspects the problem. He pulls out a pink liquid capsule from the costume pocket. CLICKS open the heart like a door, places the capsule in the designated slot. It activates and the light comes back alive.
52. STEVE Ah, that should-He bends down for he has no neck. A SMALL CHILD hugs the costume’s leg. SMALL CHILD I wuv you Mister Lovebear! STEVE (goofy voice) And I wuv you too. (normal) Please let go. EXT. APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS Steve wanders to the unimpressive apartment block. One final pamphlet is handed out before he heads inside. INT. APARTMENT (LIVING ROOM) - MOMENTS LATER Another exciting day in the life of Sapphire and Ben they’re watching television. Steve enters in full costume, which confuses his flatmates. He removes the bear head. BEN Steve, what are you doing here? STEVE Had my punishment. I’m free to go. BEN What happened? STEVE It was horrible. I don’t want to talk about it. SAPPHIRE Why have the police been around looking for you again then? BEN Never mind that, you’re on TV! ANGLE - TELEVISION Steve’s mugshot flies around the screen in a hastily cut and demonic fashion - CGI devil horns and fire attached. Beneath, the screen flashes in bright red: KILL! BACK TO SCENE.
53. NARRATOR (O.S.) The Kill Steve Burbank Show will return after these messages... Steve? SAPPHIRE
STEVE Fine, I escaped. SAPPHIRE You can’t stay here. No way. BEN But it’s his house too. Ben’s voice trails off towards the end of the dialogue as Sapphire threatens to punch him. STEVE I have nowhere else to go. Sapphire exhales a sigh of dismay - very unsubtle. STEVE Oh, by the way... Steve retrieves the chunky golden bracelet from his pocket and hands it to Sapphire. STEVE (bitter) Thanks for ruining things for the rest of your gender. He winks dryly, and heads to his room. She over-expresses shock to Ben. SAPPHIRE Did you see--? Yeah. BEN
SAPPHIRE Can you believe that? BEN Yes--no. No. INT. APARTMENT (STEVE’S BEDROOM) - DAY Steve mopes on his bed, deep in thought. He would look melancholic if he weren’t in the bear costume. Silence for a moment.
54. He sits up. Sees the painting he did with Caitlin - the house made of twigs, the pink sky, them together... His eyes widen. Steve springs to his feet and goes to the easel. As he takes off the bear costume, a couple of pink liquid capsules fall to the ground. He picks them back up. He grabs a paintbrush. Turns to the canvas. EXT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE - DAY Steve rushes to the door, finished picture obscured under his arm. Having run all the way here, he pours with sweat. He knocks on the door. Puffs and pants as he waits. The door opens. Steve becomes horrified. You?! STEVE
Daniel Huxley stands at the door, the smuggest he’s been yet. He wears a dressing gown and smokes a pipe. Me. DANIEL
STEVE (stunned) Why?! What?! Daniel puts an arm around Steve’s shoulder. He slowly leads him back down the driveway. DANIEL I heard about your little predicament and... Well, I’m a kind man. A samaritan, in fact. Poor Caitlin, what if she’d died alone from a broken heart because of your selfishness? That would’ve been wrong. STEVE Who are you kidding? Daniel chuckles. DANIEL Okay, you got me. He grunts in satisfaction. Steve attempts to break away from him, but cannot.
55. STEVE We’ll see what she thinks. DANIEL Ah ah ah! I don’t think so. He pulls out a sheet of paper from his gown - a folded and dog-eared official looking document. Open it. DANIEL
Daniel hands the paper to him. Steve is baffled by what he sees: the letterhead shows this is from the STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS. STEVE Rebound Certificate?! Ah ha. DANIEL
STEVE (reads smallprint) “Rebound will be null and void in the inevitable case that the persons of the previous relationship fall back in love.” (then) Let’s go see Caitlin. EXT. STREET OUTSIDE CAITLIN’S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS By this point, they are stood beyond the driveway. DANIEL We could, but you’re a bit of a fugitive at the moment. STEVE That won’t stop me. DANIEL Ten credits says it will. STEVE Tell me, how much do you know about The Machine? Daniel grins. DANIEL Everything. I designed it. You could say it’s one of the two reasons I am where I am today... Now if you excuse me, I’m going to call the police. (MORE)
56. DANIEL (CONT'D) (calls) All cops are pricks! In the distance: TWO COPS. They’ve heard Daniel. They turn to see Steve by himself. EXT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS Daniel quickly waddles up the driveway. EXT. STREET OUTSIDE CAITLIN’S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS One of the Cops points at Steve. COP You! Stay right there. Steve runs away. EXT. APARTMENT - EVENING Head slumped, eyes to the ground, Steve miserably wanders towards the apartment. A POLICE SIREN CRIES OUT. When blue and red light drenches him, he instinctively leaps behind a wheelie bin. Waits. Nothing happens. He cautiously peers out. In the distance, a police car pointed at the apartment encircled by a group of excitable CHILDREN. They jump on the spot as the siren alarms again. POLICEMAN IN CAR Now run along - we’re on a stakeout. Awwww! CHILDREN
Steve gasps upon hearing this. He awkwardly scurries away, the canvas hooked under his arm. CRACKLING and FEEDBACK. POLICEMAN IN CAR (on sound system) And remember kids: you can always trust the police. The children wave at the car.
57. EXT. YEOMANS STREET BRIDGE - NIGHT The street sign YEOMNS STREET is grubby and missing an A. Steve shivers as the wind howls and rain pours. He surveys the bridge from afar. An inviting yellow-orange hum radiates from a fire barrel. He carefully steps down the muddy bank. Every footstep squishes and squelches. EXT. YEOMANS STREET BRIDGE - MOMENTS LATER Steve rests - back against the bridge wall, an indescribable mound of dirt for a pillow. Still shivering, he pulls the canvas over himself for warmth. He clamps his eyes shut. HOBO 1 What do you think? Eyes wide open again. Several yards down, TWO HOBOS loiter next to the fire. Hobo 2 presses a sketch against the wall. HOBO 2 Very good, but the body dimensions are disproportionate. HOBO 1 You’re being overly critical. Am not. HOBO 2
HOBO 1 Are to. Just cause I called your work antediluvian. HOBO 2 Moribund. You said moribund. As they get into an indistinct argument, Steve resigns himself. His eyes drift heavier until they close. EXT. FIELD - DAY A dream as signified by the floaty and fuzzy nature of the scene. Steve and Caitlin skip through the long grass. Behind, the sky is bright pink. They approach a house made of twigs and branches. They peer through the glassless window.
58. The layout is bare, just a twig table and two twig chairs. Steve and Caitlin see doppelgängers at the table, who hug each other. Steve climbs through the window towards their doubles. He beckons Caitlin to do the same. But she refuses. Outside the house, Daniel emerges with an axe. Laughing like an over-the-top, theatrical villain, he starts CHOPPING. CHOP. CHOP. CHOP. Zombified in movement and emotion, Caitlin stands at the window. Coldly stares at Steve. Steve runs to her, but he’s dragged back by... STRAPS. He’s suddenly tied to THE MACHINE. Daniel now stands on the inside, despite the sound of chopping still echoing outside. He pushes a RED BUTTON ON THE WALL. Outside, Caitlin shambles away. The house COLLAPSES in on itself to a crescendo of timber snapping. The RUSTY KNIFE SWINGS TOWARDS STEVE’S CROTCH. EXT. YEOMANS STREET BRIDGE - CONTINUOUS An empty can of beans SMACKS Steve in the crotch. Ow! STEVE
He sleepily sits up to see the two Hobos gawking at him. HOBO 1 Sorry, kid. (to Hobo 2) Now look what you’ve done. HOBO 2 What I’ve done?! You scoundrel! Hobo 2 captures Hobo 1 in a headlock. EXT. CITY CENTRE - DAY As the billboard says: 1 DAY UNTIL VALENTINE’S DAY...
59. Sapphire bends over at a shop window display. She treats a pair of white platform boots with sparkling barnacle-like gems on it with great reverence. Ben stands in the background. He clutches his wallet, tapping it impatiently against his hand. Waits for the inevitable. Lo and behold, Sapphire prowls to him. He hands his debit card over. According to the digitised surface, Ben has already spent 324CR. While Sapphire slinks into the shop, a small stone hits Ben’s coat. He doesn’t notice. Another stone hits his elbow. Ben swivels curiously. That’s when a pebble THWACKS him full-on in between the eyes! He staggers back in pain. Checks for blood. In the alleyway, a scruffy Steve cringes over hitting him. Ben sees and jogs over to him. EXT. CITY CENTRE (ALLEYWAY) - CONTINUOUS Steve? BEN
Steve guides Ben to a patch of heavy shadow, masking them. BEN You look terrible. Why didn’t you come home last night? STEVE Police are on the lookout there. BEN Oh. How did it go with Caitlin? STEVE I slept under a bridge. BEN Not well then? Steve stares at Ben sarcastically. STEVE The good news is, I know how to fix everything. But I need your help. BEN (gulps) You do?
60. EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - DAY For a single storey white cuboid building with spacious parking facilities, the State Office is quite ominous. BEN (O.S.) No way. Find another friend. Reveal Steve and Ben hidden behind the building’s sign. STEVE I don’t have any. BEN Too bad. I’m already a lawbreaker, the scourge of society, public enemy number one. But not anymore, you hear? I’m going straight! STEVE You broke the law once. BEN One and a half, at least. Helping you is at least another three. Ben becomes pale. BEN (CONT’D) The Machine... STEVE Please, I’m at your mercy. You’re my only hope. Deep in thought, Ben sways side to side in inner turmoil seemingly torn between a devil and an angel on his shoulders. He exhales anguish. Fine. Thank y-BEN STEVE
BEN On one condition: you must tell me what The Machine actually is. But why? STEVE
Ben threatens to walk away. STEVE Okay. Okay...
61. It’s Steve turn to fight conflicting thoughts. Silence as he musters the courage to speak. Steve runs a hand through his hair before he sighs. STEVE The Machine is... (then) It’s a rusty knife and... It cuts off your balls. Just like that. BEN It’s basically my relationship with Sapphire? STEVE (nervously snickers) Glad you said it. BEN It’s not that bad then. Steve frowns. STEVE Not that bad? BEN I thought The Machine would, say, scoop out your brain and replace it with a toad or something. Steve raises an eyebrow. STEVE So do you want to help? BEN Not really. STEVE Great! Let’s do this... INT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - MOMENTS LATER From a wider perspective, the office resembles both a post office and job centre. On the walls are bland promotional posters - token happy people smile above captions such as: FIND THE GIRLFRIEND YOU WANT... Ben shakily enters. The booths, desks, and customer areas are vacant bar one clerk (name badge: ANDERSON) at the far end. Ben twitches his head in every conceivable angle as he approaches Anderson, his nervousness blatant.
ANDERSON Surname, first name, and registration if you’re a returning customer please. BEN Uh... Thomas, Ben... Two, three, zero, zero, one, two, nine-(then) No, sorry: zero, zero, zero. Anderson inputs the information into a computer. ANDERSON What can I do for you today? BEN I’m here to enquire about... (points aimlessly) That. His finger points at a poster: COUPLES TAX PLUS... TWICE THE LOVE... Above the caption are men in suits. ANDERSON Great choice. Five percent of your fortnightly tax payment will go to the impoverished. Ben squints at the poster. BEN Are those chartered accountants? How are they needy? ANDERSON They need-de-posits for their villas. When Ben looks back at Anderson, he flinches as... Over Anderson’s shoulder: Steve infiltrates the far office through the back door. He creeps in. Tip-toes out of view. Anderson glances at Ben, who snaps back into concentration. BEN (forced) Please. Do tell more. INT. STATE OFFICE (FAR OFFICE) - CONTINUOUS A wall of filing cabinets tower over Steve.
63. One overwhelmed look later, he runs his finger past the handwritten labels: Aa-Am, An-Az, Ba-Bm... Finds Bn-Bz. Steve gently pulls the draw out, freezing at every slight noise made to ensure he’s not caught. The draw stretches out three yards before a mechanism stops it going further. He hurriedly scans through the end of the draw. Finds surnames Brooks, Brown, Butcher... Too far. Back one: Burbank, Steve. Tugs the paper folder out. Opens it to find a scruffy note written with a black marker pen: SEE COMPUTER. He cross references other paper files. One after another, they just say SEE COMPUTER inside them. He balances the files on the edge of the cabinet. Glances at the antiquated desktop computer beside him. INT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS ANDERSON By signing up, you would be required to pay double the average rate, a top-up charge every April, and attend charity fund-raisers. BEN For the chartered accountants? ANDERSON Don’t be stupid. For the CEO’s. Ben nods halfheartedly. SAPPHIRE (O.S.) Ben, why are you in here? Sheer horror from Ben. Sapphire staggers to the desk, feebly negotiating her new platform shoes. Ben doesn’t answer, rather he gapes at her as though she’s a ghost. Well? No response. He... ANDERSON SAPPHIRE
64. Ben jolts. He makes simultaneous gestures at Anderson shakes his head, makes a cut-throat sign, prays at him. ANDERSON (CONT’D) He is about to sign up to the Couples Tax Plus package. Ben slumps. Sapphire gasps in excitement. You are? SAPPHIRE
She sort of hugs him. SAPPHIRE Oh, Ben... This is so great, I might let you touch me tonight. Ben almost bursts into tears. INT. STATE OFFICE (FAR OFFICE) - CONTINUOUS At the computer, Steve clicks the mouse. A black and blue wireframe database with a touch-screen keyboard loads up on the monitor. A pop-up box commands him to ENTER NAME. He types STEVE BURBANK on the screen... Which comes out as STRBE BITNABK. Steve lowly grumbles. Glimpses down to see a tangible keyboard connected next to him. He uses that to type STEVE BURBANK properly. His profile appears on-screen. Blocky red writing next to every field labels him a FUGITIVE and CHEAPSKATE. INT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS Anderson slides a saffron 88DL APPLICATION FORM in front of a petrified Ben. ANDERSON Fill out this form. Sapphire forces a pen into Ben’s hands. With great hesitation, Ben journeys the pen towards the paper. The ballpoint touches. Then, a LOUD RATTLE of paper from the back office!
65. ANDERSON What in the divine name of Valentine was that? INT. STATE OFFICE (FAR OFFICE) - CONTINUOUS ‘That’ was the paper files falling from the cabinet. Steve’s eyes widen at the mess until Anderson charges into the room. He stares angrily at Steve. You! ANDERSON
(then) Wait right there. He storms away again. INT. STATE OFFICE (MEETING ROOM) - CONTINUOUS Anderson barges into the room. The remainder of the building is vacant because the DOZEN STAFF plus their MANAGER are crammed into the room for a presentation by a man in blue overalls (call him LATHAM). ANDERSON We have a security breach. MANAGER How dare you interrupt. But-ANDERSON
MANAGER Do follow procedure. I am. ANDERSON
MANAGER You’re not. You may only bring up your issue in the ‘Any Other Business’ part of the agenda. (to Latham) Sorry. Latham coughs. LATHAM As I was saying: it’s not a problem now, but it could be in the future. That’s why you should invest in... Pressing a button, his company logo projects on the wall.
66. LATHAM (CONT’D) Latham Security Solutions. INT. STATE OFFICE (FAR OFFICE) - CONTINUOUS Steve hovers the mouse pointer over the EDIT button. Has a sudden change of heart. He returns to the pop-up box command, types CAITLIN HENNESSEY, and presses ENTER. Caitlin’s profile appears, with a reference to Daniel Huxley right underneath. Steve clicks the EDIT button. Grows tense as the computer loads slowly. Finally, a list of administrative options. At the bottom of the extensive list: TERMINATE CURRENT RELATIONSHIP. He clicks the hyperlink. The hourglass icon agonisingly rotates. INT. STATE OFFICE (MEETING ROOM) - CONTINUOUS The short presentation has ended. MANAGER Any other business? ANDERSON Yes! Intruder! MANAGER Yes, quite. Well, I think we should discuss that at the next meeting, which will be...? Everybody minus Anderson exhibit their diaries. They casually flip through the pages. ANDERSON March Fifteen? Can’t. STAFF 1 STAFF 2 Fishing that day.
STAFF 3 Why not the day after? MANAGER Are you joking? That’s the day of The Great Feast. LATHAM Oh, that reminds me of a great story from last year’s Feast--
67. Anderson cracks his knuckles. ANDERSON If you lot won’t with this, I will. He surges out of the meeting room. Slams the door behind him, which makes the entire room shake. INT. STATE OFFICE (FAR OFFICE) - CONTINUOUS Steve gawks at the screen. WOULD YOU LIKE TO TERMINATE THIS RELATIONSHIP? Y/N With gravitas, he darts his finger towards the Y button... And hits nothing but table. An infuriated Anderson stands tall - keyboard clasped, angled high in the air, ready to deploy. Anderson’s teeth grit together. Skin transforms to a pinky-purple. ANDERSON You’re not getting by on my watch. Not when I’m up for promotion. STEVE Woah, easy there. Anderson swings violently. Steve barely dodges the keyboard. Swings again - same result. ANDERSON I’m gonna stick this so far up your backside, you’ll cough up the Escape key. Another swing. Anderson puts so much might into it, the keyboard slips from his grip. It SHATTERS against the wall opposite - loose keys scatter in all directions. As Anderson’s momentum carries him forward, Steve leaps at the monitor-In mid-air, he taps the touch-screen keyboard-And flops to the ground. Quickly refers to the screen. Anderson dives at him. Steve rolls out of the way in the nick of time. He stumbles back to his feet. Grounded, Anderson desperately snatches for Steve’s trouser leg. Steve slips away, and staggers out of the office - face plagued with defeat.
68. On screen: WOULD YOU LIKE TO TERMINATE THIS RELATIONSHIP? Y/N The letter H blinks underneath. INT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS Application half-written out, Ben is paralysed. Eyes glazed over. In a state of shock. Sapphire loudly sighs. SAPPHIRE Must I do everything myself? She guides Ben’s writing hand over the application. INT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE (DINING ROOM) - NIGHT Caitlin - despondent, losing the will to live - wallows in deathly silence. The sound gradually bleeds in to the unmistakable thundering laugh of Daniel. Daniel sits next to Caitlin, and opposite her DAD (56, slicked back hair, greying moustache). Daniel and Dad interact as though they’ve been best friends for years. He wipes a tear from his eye. DANIEL Oh, you crack me up. DAD You like to laugh, huh? DANIEL I love comedy - the edgier the better. Have you heard this latest fad: mother-in-law jokes? No? DAD
DANIEL Here’s one... Dad giggles in anticipation. DANIEL (CONT’D) Okay. What does a mother-in-law call her broom? DAD I don’t know. What? DANIEL Basic transportation.
69. They both erupt in laughter. DAD (fits of laughter) Because she’s a witch! It takes a moment for them to settle down. DANIEL Here’s another one: how many motherin-laws does it take to screw in a light-bulb? (then) None. She always get her son-in-law to do it. Another uproar. DAD So true. Isn’t that right, Martha? His ninety-year-old mother-in-law MARTHA has been sat at the table all along. She rolls her eyes. DAD (to Martha) Why don’t you make yourself useful for once and find out where your daughter is with dinner? Caitlin shoots to her feet. CAITLIN I’ll get Mum. She practically sprints out of the room. INT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE (HALLWAY) - CONTINUOUS Kitchen with its lights on to the left, stairs leading to darkness on the right. Caitlin contemplates both options. Daniel’s piercing laugh from the other room influences her. She gently creeps up the stairs. EXT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE - MOMENTS LATER The top right window slides open. Caitlin comes into sight. She props her legs over the windowsill, shuffles along, and grabs the vines on the side of the house. She swings. Her arms dangle from the greenery that, despite creaking, bears her weight. She digs her feet into the wall.
70. Caitlin climbs down. INT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE (DINING ROOM) - NIGHT From Martha’s shocked reaction, another joke has been had at her expense. Daniel and Dad are at the tittering stage. DAD So what are you getting my dear daughter for Valentine’s Day? DANIEL She’s had it, not that she’s realised. It’s called the Getinkitchen D-Five Hundred. Genuine look of intrigue from Caitlin’s Dad. DAD The Getinkitchen D-Five Hundred? DANIEL It’s a bracelet and a tracking device. If my lose my darling sugar plum, this will return her to me. Something catches Dad’s eye. DAD Lose her like right now? He gestures at a wall full of monitors behind Martha. It displays the angles of the previously referenced security cameras. Two of the blurry screens show Caitlin as she dashes down the driveway. DANIEL For example... He pulls out a remote control device attached to his keys. EXT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS Caitlin pratfalls. She searches behind to untangle whatever tripped her up. There’s nothing there. Yet when she moves further forward, a force pulls her back again. Caitlin notices the bracelet on her wrist. The centre of it blinks a scorching red outline of a shackle.
71. She claws at the bracelet, feverishly trying to remove it. Despite her mounting frenzy, she’s incapable of doing so. INT. CAITLIN’S HOUSE (DINING ROOM) - MOMENTS LATER Caitlin strops back to her seat at the dinner table. Without eye contact. Without a single word. DANIEL The best thing? It counts towards the Couples Tax total. DAD Superb! I need to buy one of those. One last gush of laughter from Daniel and Caitlin’s Dad. EXT. PARADE - DAY HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! The billboards explode pixillated fireworks behind the standard picture of Valentine. For this occasion, his image is overlaid with pink. The charismatic cold stare remains. On the ground: street and makeshift stands packed with PEOPLE. They cheer and wave flags shaped like hearts. Steve stands behind one section of the crowd. His eye level doesn’t surpass the crowd’s height. He hops up - still can’t see anything. STEVE (to himself) Where are you? He leans back against a building. Turns to see that the premises stretch six-storeys high. A smaller structure on top suggests an open roof area. EXT. OPEN ROOF - MOMENTS LATER Steve crouches behind the concrete wall. Peers over to the ground below. EXT. PARADE DAY - CONTINUOUS The Valentine’s Day parade is underway.
72. A float that mocks-up the State Office of Relationships. A papier-mâché couple hug, delighted as a mannequin solidifies their relationship by rubber stamping a form. This is done through robotics, so the mechanism is simplistic and rigid. Next is Cupid, satchel full of flint arrows. He doesn’t fire them for obvious reasons. Just waves instead. Behind him is a float of a man and woman in bed, ecstatic that a robotic stork has appeared. Stork carries a swag bag with CR printed on its side. Money spills out of the bag. The float is called TAX REBATE. After that, an army of CARE BEARS march in a militaristic manner. They throw paper love hearts at the spectators. They project rays of pink light from their stomachs. EXT. OPEN ROOF - CONTINUOUS This reminds Steve: he fishes out the pink liquid capsule from his trouser pocket. Drops it to the ground before he continues to search the parade. In the background, the exit door BANGS OPEN. Steve tracks back. Sees James Trent and his soulmate LINDA (Voodoo Queen Lady from page 25) there. Steve and James exchange confused looks. STEVE James? What are you doing here? JAMES I was about to ask the same thing. STEVE I’m searching for Caitlin. JAMES Not giving up, huh? STEVE Wish it was as simple as that. For a split second, James looks impatient. James? Hmmmm? STEVE JAMES
STEVE What was it like? Being subjected to The Machine?
73. JAMES It hurt. A lot. That happened six months ago now. Truth be told, I only got over it recently. It’s quite an adjustment having to live without... You know... STEVE Your penis? JAMES (coughs) Yes, Steve. My penis. (then) I’m lucky to have such a loving and understanding soulmate. He puts an arm around Linda’s shoulder. She smiles. JAMES Who knows what I would’ve done without Linda by my side? Without her, I’d have died inside. You know what I mean? I do now. STEVE
James and Linda step forward... JAMES Now if you-STEVE One more question. ...which stops them in their tracks. Shoot. JAMES
STEVE You’ve broke the law nine times. What happens after The Machine? JAMES That’s the beauty: the courts didn’t terminate our relationship, so I exposed a key flaw. There are no punishments after The Machine, just a fine here and there. (then) It’s about time other flaws in the system came to light. Steve sticks his head beyond the roof again.
74. STEVE (distracted) Yeah... EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS The inflatable balloon portion of the parade. A blimp declares this fortnight’s Couples Tax average: 340CR. NEW VALENTINE’S DAY RECORD... it blinks afterwards. EXT. OPEN ROOF - CONTINUOUS Steve gasps. EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS CAITLIN. She wanders alone. Like at the French restaurant, she is uncomfortable by her surroundings. An invisible force tugs her. As she leers at her wrist, Daniel grabs her. He leads Caitlin somewhere. She offers little hostility. Daniel mouths something to Caitlin while they weave through the crowds. Chatty, casual, but a one-way conversation. They come to a hot dog stand below Steve’s position. Daniel holds up his index finger and waits for the VENDOR to serve the order. This is actually a DIAMOND NECKLACE STAND. Vendor uses a pair of plastic tongs to pull out a necklace from within his stall. Daniel forks over the debit card. He presents the gift to Caitlin. She rolls her eyes. EXT. OPEN ROOF - CONTINUOUS Steve rushes past James and Linda. Got to go. STEVE
He exits. James and Linda collectively sigh in relief. They rush to the door. As Linda nails a wooden plank across the closed door, James reaches for an object out of view. LINDA I thought he’d never leave.
75. JAMES The youth of today... James reveals a large, faded green, circular weapon. A BAZOOKA! EXT. PARADE - MOMENTS LATER From within the six-storey building: footsteps clatter down a set of stairs. Steve exits through the side entrance. He’s about to dash forward when he sees... Two members of security in uniform (call them DEREK and ROGER). Backs turned, they don’t notice him. Caitlin walks past, unaware. Steve sprints down the entrance into an... EXT. ALLEYWAY - CONTINUOUS A pile of cardboard boxes stacked to the side - the dirty bins and other paraphernalia belonging to a restaurant. Steve slams through them like a 1970s cop car. Continues on to... EXT. STREET PASSAGE - CONTINUOUS The coast is clear at the end of the passage. Steve stampedes back towards... EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS Steve puts his hands on his knees, tired. He looks to the left - Caitlin is across the street, hidden behind the operators of a blimp manoeuvring the strings. DANIEL (O.S.) Hello Steve. Steve spins around in fright. Indeed, Daniel stands in front of him. Steve opens his mouth to speak. Nothing comes out. It takes him a moment to conjure up basic words...
76. STEVE You! What-DANIEL Now, now. Case you haven’t noticed, it’s advantage me. STEVE Please... Don’t call the police. I’ll give you anything you want. You name it. DANIEL Let’s see, I make more money than you. Have a nice car. Nice house. And I’ll be porking Caitlin when she stops acting so fussy. Nope, you have nothing I want. Daniel thinks for a moment. DANIEL Although... Although? STEVE
DANIEL I can offer you something. I have contacts. How about a clean record and your job back? Even better, a promotion. What? STEVE
DANIEL What, sir. You could become my P.A. - mowing my lawn, washing my car, shining my shoes. The pay is less, but the prestige of working personally for me is priceless. Oh and by accepting you’ll give up Caitlin forever. Agreed? N-STEVE
DANIEL That... (re: Derek and Roger) Or we’ll get those nice gentlemen involved. Your choice. Steve clenches his fists. STEVE Fine. Okay. Deal.
77. DANIEL Great! One more thing, you’ll get your own Company Girlfriend. Like a company car, except... Well, more like a company truck really. (looks around) There she is. Daniel waves to Rita (from page 4)! Distracted by the parade, even Rita’s half-wave back has a hint of murderous intent to it. DANIEL Introducing the other reason I am where I am today: Rita. (glum) The boss’ daughter. STEVE (quietly) We’ve met. DANIEL If you could hurry up with an affair so I can divorce her, that’d be fantastic. As Steve cringes at the thought, Daniel holds out his hand. A moment of reluctance from Steve. They shake on it, to the evil delight of his boss. Little does he realise Steve’s fingers are crossed behind his back. And little does Steve realise that Caitlin is watching them from across the street. Distraught, she races away. EXT. OPEN ROOF - CONTINUOUS James communicates on a walkie-talkie. JAMES (to walkie-talkie) Valentine’s speech is in T-minus ten minutes. Repeat, Valentine’s speech is in T-minus ten minutes. Over. Disconnects. He aligns the bazooka against the concrete wall.
78. Meanwhile, Linda spots an object on the floor: the pink liquid capsule. She retrieves the capsule and plops it in the bazooka’s barrel. She shrugs at James. Why not? LINDA
James grins before he faces the parade. JAMES Time to go down, Mister Squeaky. EXT. SIDE STREET - CONTINUOUS Between two buildings, Caitlin - whose mascara runs determinedly wedges her bracelet against the wall and ground. She picks up a rock next to her. Wraps the diamond necklace around it. Against the smoggy sun, it partially glistens. Caitlin STRIKES the bracelet. WHACK. WHACK. WHACK. With an exhaled grunt: WHACK. The bracelet splits at the clip. BALD MAN (O.S.) Yeah! Rock and roll! In front of her: a BALD MAN, an improbable three-hundred pound cluster of fat and muscle. EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS Steve glances across the street - Caitlin has gone. Daniel watches with a self-congratulatory smirk on his face as Steve, dejected, skulks into the distance. He turns away. A game plan forms. Grabs the remote control attached to his keys and clicks the button several times in succession. The crowd grow distracted across the street. They goggle towards the floor, or get on their toes to check an unseen development. Laughter from some. Daniel jaywalks.
79. EXT. SIDE STREET - CONTINUOUS As Daniel cuts through the crowd... DANIEL There you are, my diamond. Daniel splutters on his own words when he sees the epicentre is actually Bald Man on the floor. Bald Man has the bracelet wrapped around his wrist. Bald Man stands. Overshadows Daniel. DANIEL (nervous) You’re not my girlfriend. Not that you can’t be... Uh, I mean I’m flattered but the paperwork for single gender relationships is just too much... He sees Caitlin in the distance. She crawls beyond the crowd, constantly checking back to see if Daniel spots her. DANIEL (nervous to Bald Man) Bye now. Daniel hastily squeezes back through the crowd DANIEL (shouts) Caitlin! This leaves Bald Man red-faced. Bald Man growls and rips the bracelet off his wrist effortlessly. EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS Caitlin bolts. But Daniel catches her by the arm. CAITLIN Let go of me! Caitlin... DANIEL
Daniel get down on one knee. From his pocket, he produces an engagement ring! Caitlin looks horrified.
80. DANIEL You will marry me! What? Right now! CAITLIN DANIEL
Caitlin exerts greater resistance as Daniel pulls her along. Heels scrap against the pavement. CAITLIN No... No... (screams) STEVE! This grabs Steve’s attention, and everyone else’s in close proximity. An OLD COUPLE warmly gaze at Caitlin and Daniel. OLD WOMAN Look at them. Isn’t it beautiful? STEVE (yells) I’ll save you-Two more attentions grabbed: Derek and Roger’s. They recognise Steve. DEREK Burbank! Freeze! In one direction: Derek and Roger chase Steve away. Random crowd members dodge out of the way of the pursuit. Another direction: Caitlin forced away by Daniel. And in another: rapturous applause fills the air as a limousine with HEAVIES covering every direction slowly rolls towards a makeshift stage with a podium on. Finally, VALENTINE! Valentine steps out of the limo. He looks significantly older and shorter than the billboards suggest. With aged caution, he wobbles against the limo. He waves to the masses with a twisted smile. EXT. SIDE STREET - CONTINUOUS The hoopla from the crowd gives Steve the window to lose Derek and Roger. He ducks within a sea of people, behind a homemade WE LOVE VALENTINE banner.
81. Derek and Roger run the other way. A moment later, Steve rises. He searches for Daniel and Caitlin. Nothing. ROGER (O.S.) There he is! Steve shrieks and exits the other way. EXT. OPEN ROOF - CONTINUOUS With calculation, James configures the bazooka in regards to what’s going on below. Linda watches from another angle. It’s time. Yes, dear. LINDA JAMES
He stands up and removes the bazooka from its stand. PING! James drops the weapon. An unknown entity has shot a bullet through the lip of the barrel! JAMES They’re onto us. He slides over to his wife. Creeps his eyesight over the edge of the roof, where he sees... ANGLE - JAMES’S POV A gathering of POLICE at the building’s entrance. In formation, they charge inside. EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS Valentine walks up the several steps to the podium with great effort. He salutes the crowd as their adulation quietens. He’s all by his lonesome on stage. But another angle reveals TWO GUARDS in front of the stage, THREE at the back, ONE at the stairs, and SEVEN in the general vicinity. Not to mention SNIPERS in the buildings behind. Glasses on, he removes a prepared speech from his pocket - a crumpled piece of paper that he irons out with his hand.
82. VALENTINE Thank you for the kind reception. Valentine’s voice BOOMS, a commanding digital baritone. Like a hundred foot tall Darth Vader. VALENTINE You know, after so many years doing this, I wasn’t sure if you’d all be sick of me by now. What should be a courteous laugh from the audience is actually loud and forced. Valentine reacts pathetically to it. He’s trained them this way. VALENTINE But we come back every year cause one theme runs throughout our society - love. We’ve transformed it into a beautiful thing. Thanks to the Couples Tax system, men and women know where they stand with each other. None of this emotion that once crippled the human spirit. EXT. OPEN ROOF - CONTINUOUS Valentine’s speech continues inaudibly. A second wooden plank added to the exit door, James dashes back to Linda. The door BANGS. The second wooden plank tumbles straight away. Linda hurriedly hands the bazooka to James. He hoists it over his shoulder and steps on the edge of the building. Looks down. It’s a long drop to the ground below. EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS Back to the speech. VALENTINE Soulmates. Togetherness. They’re archaic terms. How can you base a relationship on concepts that don’t physically exist? That’s why we’ve evolved to this. A system so powerful, the economy relies on it. That’s something to be proud of.
83. EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS End of the parade trail, floats and CAST MEMBERS have parked up - the ominous white State Office building behind them. Daniel drags Caitlin along as Cast Members passively look on. Caitlin thumps him a few times in the arm. He exclaims pain but not enough to let go. DANIEL Come on. No need to be like that. Up yours! CAITLIN
Caitlin STOMPS Daniel’s foot, heel digging between his toes. Daniel finally loses his grasp. She doesn’t get far before Daniel coils back her in. Creep! CAITLIN
Somebody grabs her left arm. Heads dart in that direction... Steve! CAITLIN
Steve stands, dogged, with a deadly serious look on his face. STEVE (to Daniel) Let go. DANIEL No, you let go. CAITLIN Will both of you let me go? Steve reluctantly does. No. DANIEL
Just as he drags her along again, CAITLIN DRILLS DANIEL IN THE FACE. He flops to the floor HARD! Nice one. STEVE
CAITLIN Oh no. You’re not going to waltz in here and act like the hero after your behaviour. (re: Daniel) I saw you shake his hand.
84. STEVE It was a trick. I had my fingers crossed and everything. Caitlin stares sadly at the ground. STEVE You have to believe me. EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS VALENTINE And that’s why we must strive to raise the spending average. With love, we can finance wars. JAMES (O.S.) (shouts)
Valentine, and by proxy everyone else, looks up to James’ position. From a long way away, nothing about James is recognisable - just a silhouette with a tube. JAMES (shouts) You wanna know what love really-James wobbles as the wind picks up. He teeters towards the edge. Linda holds him back. JAMES Woah... (shouts) You want to know what love really looks like? Try this for size! James AIMS the bazooka right at Valentine. The crowd GASPS. EXT. OPEN ROOF - CONTINUOUS A GUNSHOT FROM THE BUILDING ACROSS. It misses James, ricochetting inches from his feet. Several more bullets FIRE and miss. He changes tact as he jumps backwards and crouches behind the concrete wall. The door finally gives way! This is it. A DOZEN POLICEMEN barge in, guns loaded. James aims the bazooka at Valentine. Then reroutes towards the sky.
85. He squeezes the trigger! The missile cascades high into the atmosphere like a launched rocket ship. It’s A BALL OF LIGHT, tinged with the pink liquid capsule. EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS Ben and Sapphire gaze in awe, along with other spectators. As do Valentine’s Security Guards. The pulsating pink light reflects in their sunglasses. EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS Caitlin, Steve, and Daniel in the same positions as before frozen. Gobsmacked by the missile. EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS Valentine too observes. Though his eyes track every movement of the light’s journey, he stays unemotional. Thanks to the distraction, nobody notices Pete and another hippy (DRAKE) invade the stage! They stand behind Valentine. EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS The pink ball ascends higher and higher. EXT. SKY - CONTINUOUS The point of view of the missile. Burning in energy, the light shows no sign of slowing down. The mix of ethereal colours make for a beautiful spectacle. Until a crow gets in the way, anyway. “CAW!” Missile versus crow... EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS Missile wins. MASSIVE EXPLOSION! The sky fills up - dullish smog overcome with a sickly pink. Exactly the same pink as in Steve’s drawing and dream.
86. The crowd expresses wonderment. Specifically: “Oooooo...” EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS A tear in Caitlin’s eye. CAITLIN (to Steve) This is like our picture. STEVE I know... (to himself) I must retrieve that from under the bridge sometime. CAITLIN What was that? Nothing... STEVE
She rushes over and bearhugs Steve, the strength of which surprises him. Caitlin follows up with a kiss on the cheek. Then their lips set course. As they painfully slowly aim towards each other... DANIEL Excuse me, I do believe she’s mine. Daniel drags Cupid to the ground and snatches his bow and arrows off him. He aims an arrow between Steve’s eyes, one slip away from instant death! CAITLIN Daniel, no! EXT. OPEN ROOF - CONTINUOUS With the bazooka smoking, James drops it to the ground. Bazooka lands with a dull THUD. The dozen Policemen lower their weapons. One stands forward and makes a hand gesture. FRONT POLICEMAN He’s unarmed. You know what to do. Several Policemen pin James and Linda to the ground. The handcuffs are prepared. James struggles with all his might. A PUNCH to the face soon eradicates that.
An unused Policemen looks over the edge towards the podium. Colour drains from his face. He physically stutters - voice backfiring several times. STUTTERING POLICEMAN G-G-Guys. We have another problem. EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS Valentine coughs. VALENTINE As I was saying... PETE It’s time for a revolution! Pete fist pumps. Valentine nonchalantly rotates to them. Mockingly applauds. VALENTINE Stage invasion... Well done! You do realise you’re surrounded by snipers, don’t know? Drake crosses his legs. DRAKE Please, we’re non-violent. PETE Speak for yourself. An unseen sniper FIRES A WARNING SHOT - on target as it penetrates a section of stage next to Pete. VALENTINE There will be no incursion. Tell your other hippy friends to reveal themselves. DRAKE There are no others. (then) There were, but they’re hippies. They’re probably busy travelling some funky cosmos right now. From behind, Valentine’s Security Guards tackle Pete and Drake. Drake submits, while Pete gets a kidney punch in before being fully restrained.
88. VALENTINE (re: James’ direction) Bring the others here too. EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS As before, with Steve frozen in fear. CAITLIN (to Daniel) What are you doing?! DANIEL Offing your lover, what does it look like? There! DEREK (O.S.)
Derek and Roger appear. They show determination to arrest Steve, only to be taken aback by the current situation. ROGER (to Steve; unsure) You’re under arrest? Derek draws a gun. But who to point it at? EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS Drake and Pete are on their knees, hands behind their head. Four Security Guards clutch guns beside them. The Policemen from the roof carry James and Linda. They roughly hurl them on stage. A Guard instructs the two to line up with the others in the same stance. VALENTINE This is what happens when you don’t show the spirit of Valentine’s Day. The Security Guards march around. They elevate their guns and point them at the Hippies’ heads. Lest we forget about the thousands of people in the audience. They stand silent, mouths open wide enough to fit bowling balls in. EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS Derek points the gun at Steve.
89. CAITLIN Are you nuts? DEREK (re: Daniel) This man is doing a great duty for the state. I think. The various laws say he is, anyway. Daniel stands up. He childishly gestures at Caitlin - an expression of “HAHA, I am right, you are wrong!” DANIEL Does this mean I can... Y’know...? He simulates letting the string on the bow go. DEREK It does not-Caitlin shoves Roger into Derek! Derek tumbles to the concrete floor, which makes his gun trigger... The bullet hits a Care Bear costume, thankfully vacated. Daniel distracted, Steve wrestles the bow and arrow away from him. Throws them to the ground with a METALLIC CLANG. Steve’s position leaves him wide open. Daniel bites him on the arm! Steve SCREAMS in pain. Steve pushes Daniel’s face back, releasing him from his jaws. EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS Ready... VALENTINE
Valentine holds up his arm. The Guards cock their guns. Linda and James hold hands. Their heads collapse into each other. Tears form. This is the end, but at least they’re dying together. EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS Steve pushes Daniel backwards. With a PRIMAL SCREAM, he shoulder-barges Daniel. Daniel’s chunky body hurtles towards... THE PARADE’S RAMSHACKLE POWER GRID.
90. Daniel lands on the grid like an elephant landing on a coke can. Crushed. Sparks fly everywhere. DRAINING. EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS Draining sound faintly in the background. VALENTINE (in normal squeaky voice) And... Uh. Silence. A moment of self-realisation. Valentine’s mouth gapes open. Did the audience just hear his natural voice? Yes. The audience are shocked. Ben lets out a single CHORTLE. Which triggers an infestation of UNCONTROLLABLE LAUGHTER. People keel over and roll on the floor as they laugh so hard. The uproar is DEAFENING. VALENTINE Stop it! All of you! EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS As the power grid CRACKS and FIZZLES, Daniel picks himself up from the wreckage and dusts his clothes down. Derek grabs Steve and contorts his arm behind his back in a hammerlock. DEREK You’re coming with us. Roger witnesses the audience laughing in the distance. Uh, boss? ROGER
EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS The laughter goes on... And on... And on. Valentine’s panicked eyes resemble a game of ping-pong. VALENTINE Cease this laughing now. No compliance.
91. VALENTINE (to Guards) Shoot the hippies. SECURITY GUARD (mock high pitched voice) Shoot the hippies. The Security Guards and Hippies guffaw. Both sets of people roll on the floor in stitches. Without warning, audience members fling cards at Valentine. One strikes him on the nose and lands on the podium. It’s a DEBIT CARD. Four other cards also land on the podium. VALENTINE Stop it. This is insanity! Have you all gone mad? Am I the only sane man here? MALE VOICE (O.S.) You don’t sound like one! The laughter starts all over again. EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS Derek’s moment of indecision ends as he releases Steve. Daniel chokes on air. DANIEL What are you doing? DEREK Look what’s happening. I seriously doubt he’ll have any charges to answer for come tomorrow morning. Daniel exacerbates disbelief. DANIEL! RITA (O.S.)
Rita’s voice makes Daniel go pale. Godzilla-like, she stomps into the scene, enraged beyond belief. CAITLIN Who’s that? His wife. STEVE
92. CAITLIN (to Daniel) You were going to have two wives?! WHAT?! RITA
Rita POUNDS Daniel in the stomach - the sheer force of the blow makes Derek and Roger wince. Daniel falls to his knees, doubled over in pain. The pain seems to subside when Derek grabs him. DANIEL What are you doing? DEREK You’re under arrest. DANIEL Hey! What about having no charges to answer to tomorrow? DEREK Polygamy is illegal in any country or regime these days. Apart from America, but they’re weird. Daniel struggles as he’s cuffed. EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS The crowd disperse. All that’s left behind are empty plastic cups, burger wrappers, and debit cards. Valentine desperately grips the podium. VALENTINE Come back and respect me, you fools. If you don’t abide the Couples Tax, the whole economy is in the toilet. You hear me? As Pete, Drake, and the Security Guards go their own way James and Linda stroll to Valentine, arms linked. JAMES Damn shame the system ran on fear than respect. It would’ve been less fragile, you know? EXT. PARADE - CONTINUOUS Next to Sapphire, Ben bites his upper lip. He elevates and lowers his toes anxiously in anticipation. This is a big moment for him. He prepares by strongly coughing.
93. BEN Sapphire, the last few years have been horrible. Yeah, you heard right. That’s why I’m-SAPPHIRE The Couples Tax thing is over then? BEN Yeah, but-SAPPHIRE In that case, I’m leaving you. Bye! Sapphire nonchalantly waves at Ben and walks away. This leaves him stupefied. BEN But it was my time... Sapphire approaches a stranger nearby, who is too busy analysing his order at a burger van to notice her coming. This happens to be Sebastian. She taps Sebastian on the shoulder. You’ll do. What? SAPPHIRE SEBASTIAN
She lays one right on the lips. Sebastian firstly struggles. Then assimilates. SEBASTIAN (muffled) Let’s go violate every health and safety regulation possible... Still watching, Ben nearly throws up. BEN But... But... But... EXT. PODIUM - CONTINUOUS Remain with Valentine, James, and Linda. VALENTINE I’ve always hated you. Since year six P.E., I knew you’d be the bane of my existence.
94. JAMES You lost, Valentine. It’s time to move on. Maybe you should try some new things in your life? LINDA Like getting laid! The flawless note to end on - James and Linda stroll away, leaving Valentine alone. Valentine boots the podium out of anger. Hurts his foot. EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS Roger and Derek hook either side of Daniel’s arms. They slowly but surely heave him away. Rita walks by Steve. STEVE If you’re so mad at Daniel, why did you go on a date with me? RITA I CAN DO BETTER TOO! He holds his hands up in innocence. STEVE Woah, okay... As Rita stomps away, Steve shyly addresses Caitlin. STEVE So... Are we... Sort of.. CAITLIN Back together? STEVE That’s the one. CAITLIN Oh, I don’t know... After everything that’s happened... STEVE I promise if you take me back, I’ll give you everything you want. Caitlin sighs. Face to the ground, she frowns. This was the problem in the first place. STEVE (CONT’D) In a collaborative sort of thing.
95. She chuckles. CAITLIN That’s what I love about you. You’re so imperfect, and you never say the right thing. (then) If you did, it’d be quite boring. Yes, then? STEVE
Caitlin kisses Steve. In a world of their own, the moment is sweeping, glorious, magnificent. Absolutely perfect. A dreamy, everlasting gaze as they withdraw. Yes. CRASH! Stop! DEREK (O.S.) CAITLIN
Daniel has slipped away from Derek and Roger. Enraged, he stomps towards the happy couple. Stops halfway as he spots an object on the ground. Daniel grabs the loaded bow and arrow! Aims it. Steve has no time to react. Caitlin gasps. Daniel twangs the string. The arrow soars in the air. Its target: STEVE’S CROTCH. The arrow flies... Flies... Flies... A sadistic look from Daniel. The arrow swoops-BLACK OUT.
96. THUMP! STEVE AAARRRGGGHHHHH!!! SMASH CUT TO: EXT. STATE OFFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS - CONTINUOUS The arrow has PERFORATED STEVE’S LEFT FOREARM, literally inches away from his crotch. He blocked it just in time, in a certain sense anyway. As Steve and Caitlin eye the wound in horror... Derek and Roger tackle Daniel. They ground him once and for all - lay in a few extra punches for good measure. INT. APARTMENT (LIVING ROOM) FOUR WEEKS LATER ANGLE - TELEVISION The news channel. A COMMENTATOR runs around the CTU-esque set as though he’s on crack. He makes goofy expressions. COMMENTATOR Wwwooaaahh! As Valentine rebuilds his reputation, the economy grows stronger as our troops capture another South American country’s gold supply. Which country, I hear you ask? Find out after the break. Or as Valentine would say: (high pitched) Find out after the break! Transition to a soothing video of puppies, flowers, and sunshine. The wispy graphic on top states: THE WAR REPORT. It then goes to the familiar dry News Anchor at his desk. NEWS ANCHOR Also after the break, find out how severe the punishment is now for imitating Valentine. Here’s a clue it involves rats. See you then. Cut back to Commentator, who shits himself. BACK TO SCENE. Ben sits on the settee. Since Sapphire left, the living room has - impossibly - become messier.
97. Arm in a sling, Steve appears from his bedroom. Ready? STEVE
INT. ART GALLERY - DAY Valentine’s pictures are in a bargain bin - 2 FOR 5CR (OR BEST OFFER). A couple of the faces have peeled away... Turns out the Mona Lisa was somebody else after all. Steve stands with Caitlin in front of a red curtain on the wall. Their audience: the usual GALLERY AUDIENCE, Ben, James, Linda, and a few Hippies. STEVE Thanks for coming. This is Caitlin and mine’s first of - I hope many paintings. This is called Untitled. Caitlin, if you can do the honour. Caitlin pulls the tassel. The curtains draw back to reveal the picture of them holding hands, turned to the pink sky, beside the house made of twigs. It is now coloured and dirtied with mud. The canvas is covered in shrink-wrap. Everyone in the gallery CLAPS. They then part away into their own conversational groups. Steve walks through the crowd, past James and Linda... LINDA Lovely picture. Nice one! Thanks. ...and up to Ben. STEVE What do you think? BEN It’s great. Though why did you put it in shrink-wrap? STEVE It’s supposed to represent stuff like the, you know, the symbol of-(then) We did it cause it looked cool. JAMES STEVE
98. BEN Thought so. Ben sighs. BEN That picture reminds me of Sapphire so much. I can’t believe I was involved with someone like that. So hollow. So fake. And-(jaw drops to floor) Hello there... In a trance, Ben approaches a FEMME FATALE nearby at the buffet table. She oozes sexuality as she smokes a cigarette. Hi! BEN
FEMME FATALE Buy me an expensive drink and I’ll acknowledge you. Okay! BEN
Back with Steve, Caitlin joins him. STEVE Everyone likes the picture then? CAITLIN Course they did. I was the one to perfect the painting for... (re: Steve’s arm) Obvious reasons. Moment of silence. CAITLIN Do you think we’ll have a happy ending like in the movies? STEVE I thought you didn’t like the cinema... CAITLIN I don’t. But the sentiment - that moment in time where the stars align, where everything is perfect... This is it. Do you think it’ll last forever? STEVE This isn’t Hollywood. There’s this moment, sure, but there’s also the moment we get married. (MORE)
99. STEVE (CONT'D) The children. The kids leaving home. Retirement. Dying. The slices of mundane in between unworthy of a Polaroid picture. That’s the time I’ll relish the most. CAITLIN (romantically) Yeah... STEVE And as this moment is about to pass, maybe we should swing to the next one? CAITLIN You mean... Get married? STEVE Well, what do you think? CAITLIN Are you kidding? Do you know how expensive weddings are? Steve and Caitlin chuckle. EXT. CITY - DAY A drab environment. Skyline dominated by unsightly concrete buildings hidden behind a thick layer of smog. The city is illuminated by the remnants of pink light. THE END.