Monday, March 1, 2010

Cold Nostalgia


I wrote this a couple years ago. Just found it. I kind of like it.







COLD NOSTALGIA

By

Lily Gist

10/26/08
EXT. SNOWY FIELD DAY

Snowflakes drift through the air. The world is silent but for the tiny crinkle of each flake landing on the snow-coated ground. ERICA, 9, is making a snow angel. The snow is soft and feathery - perfect for sledding, but terrible for snowballs. 

Erica relaxes and lets the snowflakes caress her eyelids, melting the instant they make contact.

EXT. CITY BLOCK DAY

ERICA, 29, sits with her eyes closed in a chair on a busy block by a park in a heavy metropolis. The sunlight drenches her. A cool shadow passes over and she opens her eyes.

A giant humanoid walks by, genetically modified to have a huge and imposing figure. Along his waist on both sides, right below the ribs, are three large gill-like slits. He wears a scarf and winter hat and seems to be in a hurry, as are the dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions, billions of other people in this overdeveloped metropolitan world.

TITLE

EXT. CITY BLOCK DAY

     Erica sighs. She is sitting behind a large table filled with small metal sculptures, all rarely looked at and seen mostly with curiosity followed shortly by dismissal.

     The sun welds her skin to her bones. In the distance is a clocktower with a digital thermometer stating a temperature of 106 degrees. Next to it is a large billboard advertising Apex Algae Cakes. A man with vents in his side, wearing a winter hat, coat and mittens, notices her.

               COLD MAN
          Aren’t you freezing? It’s almost double digits
          here.

     Erica raises an eyebrow and looks at him. He notices the lack of vents in her side, raises both eyebrows and apologizes embarrassedly before heading on his way.

     Erica shakes her head and picks up a newspaper. In it is an ad with the text, “Raise your temperature tolerance by another fifty degrees with Apex Regulators!” In smaller text, “All people must be equipped by April 19, under health code 3.192c” Beneath the text is a picture of a happy family all with gill-like slits in their sides, and circles around the slits. To the right of the ad is a daily weather report. All sunny, with highs of 112.

     Over to her right, by a cart and mobile freezer stands RED, a fresh water vendor.

               RED
          Feel like getting cold, my finless friend?

               ERICA
          Sure thing, Red! Lemme at it.

     She smiles, hopping up, and struts over to the freezer, grabs a heavy ice block inside and drops it into his fresh water stand.

               RED
          I thank you. I do so hate wearing coats. First                     scrape is on the house!

     Erica smiles as he scrapes the ice into a cone. At the bottom of the cone is a thin plastic straw. Erica holds the cone up and takes a sip.

               ERICA
          Thanks!

     As she heads back to her sculpture stand, she notices Adam, 39, holding one of them. It’s an iron cast of a woman whose hair is being picked up in the breeze, and little leaves are flying by attached by a thin wave of iron. Adam is only slightly taller than Erica, and is thin with short black hair. Something about the way he carries himself gives him a sense of grace that seems out of place in a man of such humble status.

     She walks up to him suspiciously and is quiet for a moment, but then can’t resist.

               ERICA
          That’s one of my favorites. I made it last year.

Adam looks back at her, a bit sadly. He puts it down.

               ADAM
          No way I can afford it.

               ERICA
          How much have you got?

Adam backs away.

               ADAM
          Far less than it’s worth.

He turns and walks down the block. Erica blushes, and doesn’t notice she has released the straw of her cone, which empties of its fresh water, pattering on the sidewalk. Frustrated, she crumples the cone up and tosses it in the trash with the newspaper.

Adam turns and looks back at her, taking special notice of her lack of regulators. He also is without them. After a moment, he continues on his way.

Erica sits down in a huff. The sun presses into her skin, saturating her pores. She clacks her tongue, thirsty, and checks her purse for money. It’s empty. She glances over at the cone in the trash, and over at the fresh water stand man. She stands, but feels dizzy. The world is dancing, and the ground rushes up to meet her.

Dream sequence in which she’s surrounded by flecks of white light. She plays with the light, letting little spots of it land on her tongue like snow.

INT. HOSPITAL DAY

Erica awakens in a hospital bed. A nurse smiles at her and presses a button, and a moment later a doctor comes in with a grin.

               DOCTOR
          Heat stroke, in February! How could you have not 
          gotten your regulators yet?

               ERICA
          I.. ugh, I feel terrible.

               DOCTOR
          It will pass soon enough, though we will need to                keep you another day for observation. I pulled                some strings and got you your regulators while                you were out.

               ERICA
          Wait, what? I don’t..

She sits up and lifts her blanket to look down. Slits line her sides.
               ERICA
          No! Take them out!

               DOCTOR
          What do you mean?

Erica grabs the regulators and feels a sharp pain. The nurse and the doctor restrain her.

               DOCTOR
          Careful! They’re going to be very sensitive for a 
          few days!

               ERICA
          But what if it snows?

               DOCTOR
          She must be delusional. Anesthetic.

The nurse holds Erica down while the doctor injects her IV with anesthetic. The world blurs and spins into darkness.

She returns to her dream of darkness and white flecks of light, but this time she’s freezing. She shivers and tries to keep warm, and the world around her erupts in flames and searing heat while the icy world compresses into a small sphere to which she has no access. She looks in and realizes with sadness that she no longer can exist in that sort of world.

When she awakens, she’s allowed to get up and leave. They give her a scarf and winter hat. She walks down the street, sadly. Feeling a bit of a chill, she puts on the scarf and hat.



She walks back to her table. RED is down the block, putting on his coat. He notices Erica and grins, taking his coat back off and approaching her.

               RED
          Erica! Might you be able to .. oh.

He notices her regulators. She squirms a little, feeling uncomfortable.

               RED
          Well. That ought not surprise me. It’s for the   
          best, yes?

               ERICA
          Yeah. I guess. Where’s my stuff?

               RED
          Oh, that gentleman that was with you has it.

               ERICA
          Who?

               RED
          He said he was a friend of yours, I can’t recall the name. Yea tall, black hair, was looking at that nice sculpture of autumn wind you –

               ERICA
          That guy? God, Red, I don’t know him! Said he was  
          broke! Did he give an address?
    
               RED
          He did.

He produces a note from his pocket. The name Adam is written at the top, and underneath is his address, 14 Olive St. Apt 14C.

               ERICA
          Thanks. Wish me luck.

               RED
          If you are without it, I should wish for his.

CUT TO:
INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE ADAM’S APT DAY

She knocks on the door. A moment passes. Adam pulls open the door, leaving the safety chain attached. He seems tired at first, but when he sees Erica he is excited. He closes the door to pull the chain off and opens it wide.

               ADAM
          Erica! Er, I don’t think we were properly –

He notices her regulators. He’s crestfallen.

               ADAM
          ..introduced. I am Adam. It is nice to meet you. Here are your belongings. I believe you’ll find they are all in order.

               ERICA
          Uh .. thanks. I appreciate it, really.

Glancing around his apartment, she sees dozens of scientific diagrams, a few magazines and a number of picture frames turned backwards. It’s an organized mess.

Adam picks up a box of her sculptures. One of them is on the table next to the box: the one of the girl in the autumn wind.

               ADAM
          I really do admire this one. I have a question,  
          though.

               ERICA
          I can’t give it away, I can’t afford to, so..

               ADAM
          Did you sculpt it?

               ERICA
          Of course I did.

               ADAM
          That’s all.

He puts it in the box, and hands the box to her. She turns to go.

               ERICA
          You know, they’re going to get you too if you’re   
          not careful.

Adam furrows his brow in confusion.

               ADAM
          Do you know of what you are speaking?

               ERICA
          You’re the first guy without regulators that I’ve seen in three months. Maybe the last guy in the city. Just be careful.

Adam puts a hand on her shoulder and she turns around.

               ADAM
          Did they force you to get them?

               ERICA
          It doesn’t matter.

Adam takes the box from her.

               ADAM
          It does! I never wanted this to happen. It was for extreme situations only!

               ERICA
          What do you mean?

               ADAM
          In order to genetically engineer your body regulators, fusion energy must be harnessed. The more potent the regulator, the more energy is required. Cold fusion is impossible, so all we can do is draw that fusion energy from the sun, which creates more heat than we can handle.

               ERICA
          So ..

               ADAM
          It’s cumulative causation, a feedback loop that feeds into itself. The hotter it gets the more we need to engineer regulators, and the more regulators we create the hotter it gets.


               ERICA
          You know an awful lot about this.

Adam is quiet for a moment.

               ADAM
          With your help, I think we can put a stop to it.

               ERICA
          Uh ..?

               ADAM
          Can I trust you?

               ERICA
          Trust me?

               ADAM
          Apex is doing nothing about their excess heat,  
          they’re deliberately overheating this world for           
          profit. But a filter is actually fairly                
          straightforward.

He clears his desk to show her a diagram of a round filter.

               ERICA
          How?

               ADAM
          It goes in their exhaust port.

               ERICA
          Well .. what’s kept you from doing it already?

               ADAM
          It’s .. complicated. The materials are hard to  
          get, and I need you to weld it together.

               ERICA
          And then what?

               ADAM
We’ll sneak it in. Erica, if you want to make a real difference, now is the time. They won’t know of it’s presence for months, maybe years, and the temperature will stop rising!

Erica looks at Adam, feeling slightly uncomfortable. She steels herself, and nods.

               ERICA
          Alright. I’m in.

CUT TO:

INT. ERICA’S STUDIO DAY

Erica puts a welding mask in place. She has the plans unrolled on her desk, weighted by random bits of metal to keep it flat. Adam stands nearby, watching and handing her equipment. The filter is a metal ring with a crystalline center and an inner ring that forms a spherical cage, over which a metal sphere is locked into place. They seem to be enjoying themselves. Erica shows Adam how to weld a perfect coin roll with her arc welder, and he’s a fast learner. He helps her with the last parts of the filter, with her guiding his hand.

When they are finished they drop the filter down on the plan, a perfect match, and they grin at each other.

               ADAM
          Get some rest, you. Tomorrow night will be tough.

               ERICA
          I’m so excited I don’t think I’ll be able to 
          sleep, but I’ll try! 

               ADAM
          Well.. might you like to spend the night with me?

Erica blushes.

               ERICA
          What? No, er, I mean, ..

               ADAM
          It’s okay. I apologize for my asking.

Adam moves to pick up the filter.

               ERICA
          Wait.

He stops. She rummages through the box next to her.

               ERICA
          Take this. I want you to have it.



She pulls out the sculpture of autumn wind.

               ADAM
          I couldn’t.

               ERICA
          She’s yours already. I couldn’t think of a better  
          person to have her.

Adam takes the sculpture, with a pained smile. He looks at it, and looks at Erica.

               ADAM
          I just couldn’t. You’ve done so much already.     
          Perhaps I will buy it from you some day.

Erica looks a bit hurt.

               ADAM
          Get some rest, tomorrow will be quite a day!

Adam grabs the filter from the table.

CUT TO:

INT. ADAM’S VAN NIGHT

Adam drops puts the filter down on the floor in the back of the van, then unrolls a map of the facilities. Adam looks exhausted, like he didn’t sleep at all.

               ADAM
          Okay. You enter here, bring the filter here and  
          it will be obvious what to do with it once you   
          get there.

               ERICA
          Aren’t you coming with me?

               ADAM
          I can’t. Wear this.

He hands her a heavy black hooded coat with holes on the sides for her regulators.

               ERICA
          What do you mean you can’t?

               ADAM
          Put it on.

She slides her arms into the coat and pulls it on.

               ERICA
          Jeez, it’s so hot!

Adam kneels.

               ADAM
          Do you trust me?

               ERICA
          Of course I do, but –

Adam stabs a knife into her side, right into the middle of her regulators. Erica gasps in shock. He pulls out a small, pulsing cluster, slices it open and squeezes, quickly stitches it back up and then stitches her back up. Suddenly, Erica is shivering cold.

               ERICA
          W-what did you do? I’m f-freezing! How?

               ADAM
          I helped develop the original regulators. I just  
          removed the bit that regulates the energy flow.       

Adam jumps out the back of the van with the filter. They’re by the water, which is boiling with heat, and a cliff wall with a giant pipe embedded into it. A large fence with razor wire prevents access to the pipe.

               ERICA
          What will that do to me?

               ADAM
          You’ll be fine. 

               ERICA
          Adam, this is too much, what are we--

               ADAM
          They forced you to get the regulators. It’s been  
          your choice to help get back at them.

He clips the fence and slides through, and Erica follows, tearing her coat a little.

               ERICA
          I’m not getting back at anyone! For God’s sake, I  
          just want to help keep the heat down!

Adam smiles at her.

               ADAM
          Do you remember how to get in there?

               ERICA
          I do.

               ADAM
          Then go, now, I can’t handle this heat. Use this  
          when you’re in the center.

Adam hands her a walkie-talkie.

               ERICA
          Adam..

               ADAM
          Good luck!

Adam rushes away, back to his van.         

CUT TO:

EXT. VENT NIGHT

Erica gulps and climbs into the vent. Behind her the ocean boils. The walls give off a slight glow, casting a strange shadow on her figure. As she progresses it gets hotter; the walls are brighter and the wind stronger. She turns left and the breeze catches her off guard. She’s sweating. She puts down the filter and puts her foot on it, and pulls off her coat. It flies off down the pipe. She wipes her brow, picks up the filter and the sphere in the middle pops open, exposing a strange device. She looks at it. It’s made of wires and tubes. She bites her lip, puts it back in and decides to keep going. She makes it to the center, where the exhaust pipe leads up into the ceiling, but it’s still way too wide for the filter to fit. She pulls out her walkie-talkie.

                    ERICA
          Adam? I’m here, but the filter won’t fit   
          anywhere.

The walkie-talkie is melting. She closes her eyes for a moment, then presses tries the walkie-talkie again.

                    ERICA
          Adam? Hello?

The air is stiflingly hot. The walls are glowing brightly. Her walkie-talkie makes a distorted clicking sound. Its components are unable to take the heat.

                    ADAM
               (distorted)
          ..I’m sorry.

Erica winces, looks up the vent above her and throws the filter up in the air. It explodes, the fire engulfing her, seeping into her overloaded regulators.


FADE TO:
INT. ADAM’S HOUSE

Adam sits by his TV, watching the news. Newscasters are in a panic.

                    ANCHOR 1
          ...predicting a ten degree drop in the first  
          month, due to particulate saturating...

Click. He changes the channel.

                    ANCHOR 2
          .. panic in the streets, as people try to   
          make sense of ...
 
Click.

                    ANCHOR 3
          Already, tens of thousands line the hospitals 
          seeking to get their regulators removed...

Click.


                    ANCHOR 4
          ... seems to have come from within the     
          factory, leading many to question the technology                     being used for ...

Click. Adam gazes somberly at the welding handbook Erica left on his table.

                    ANCHOR 5
          ... video surveillance, it is suspected that Adam   
          Gentile, a key inventor behind the Apex
          Regulators, may be responsible for the blast.

Adam sits up, staring at the television.

He reaches under his chair. In his hand is a small revolver. Adam stares at the tv a moment more.

                    ANCHOR 5
          This footage taken moments after the blast shows  
          a van, registered to Adam Gentile, speeding away   
          from the laboratory’s main ventilation port.   
          According to sources, Adam mailed a letter to    
          Apex earlier today. It read, “Fiat justitia ruat  
          caelum”. 

Adam spins the cylinder, holds the revolver up to his head and cocks the pin.

The door bursts open. Erica, her skin black, red and blue, crashes into the room. Her clothes are soaking wet and blown to shreds. She stumbles and supports herself with the table. She looks ready to kill him, but collapses instead.

Erica dreams of darkness again; white flecks of light dance around her, like snowflakes. The world is cold, frigid, and she is coated in ice. She moves her arm, and the ice cracks. Flakes of ice break off from her, disintegrating away as the world around her grows warm again.

When she awakens, Adam is sitting beside her, dripping with sweat. Two electric radiators are pointed at Erica, and she is covered in thick blankets.

Barely coherent, Erica opens her eyes to see Adam.

                    ERICA
          God, it’s hot in here.

                    ADAM
          Erica!

                    ERICA
          Adam.. you tried to kill me.

Adam switches off the heaters and opens a window, then sits back down.

                    ADAM
          Stay in bed. While you were unconscious
          I removed your regulators, but you nearly froze to death           getting here. I was worried you’d die on me.

                    ERICA
          .. You tried to kill me.

Adam is quiet for a moment.

                    ADAM
          I had to take that chance.

Erica painfully sits up and forces herself to stand.

                    ADAM
          Don’t .. don’t hurt yourself.

                    ERICA
          I saw you, with the gun to your head. I’m sorry I
          interrupted.

She staggers to the door and leaves.

     FADE TO:
EXT. PARK – DAY

Erica sits at her sculpture stand, wearing summer clothes. Most of the people on the street are wearing scarves and hats. Someone passes out from the cold, and an ambulance picks him up. The temperature is 106 degrees. Gradually, the people change into people wearing summer clothes, and the temperature drops to a nice 78 degrees. Then the temperature drops further, and everyone starts to wear winter clothes again. It starts to snow.

She looks up at the sky and watches the snow.

4 comments:

  1. I'll read it tonight when I have time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice bit of apocalyptic sci-fi!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks! I find myself thinking about it a lot today. The ending leaves an impression.

    ReplyDelete
  4. yeah, it's a good twist at the end!

    ReplyDelete