Screenplay (full): Cool by the Pool: Apocalypse

Category: Parody comedy, zombie movie, Asian comedies

Length: one hour

Option status (re-available)

(All material (c)2018 David Swinfen (commercial enquiries – http://www.davidswinfenassociates.com)

<Please email info@davidswinfenassociates for an industry standard PDF if you have any trouble viewing the below formatting>

.

.

INT – CHEAP HOTEL ROOM – MORNING

We’re in a two-bedroom hotel suite or questionable quality.

Camera focuses on a bedside table with an overflowing

ashtray, a mass of empty beer and liquor bottles, and a

discarded bright pink bra draped over the counter top.

We turn slowly to reveal several bodies cloaked in shadow

and not moving. Camera turns to the room entrance corridor,

which is the only area that is lit. A drunken little frame

lumbers into view and bounces off the adjacent wall. She

flops her hair, the impression is one of “decadently

wasted.” The pathetic figure flicks her hair back as she

tries to gather her balance and begin the transformation

from early ape to human. It’s AMBER.

.

She looks around and assesses the devastation.

She looks down at one of the still figures. A girl with

black hair lays in frozen agony, a party whistle hangs from

her mouth at the same time as an unlit cigarette. This is

NICKY.

A low haunting moan is heard off camera. We pan round to see

PORN rise. She shakes her head in disbelief.

.

PORN

This is the first and last time I’m

ever coming out with you guys. Ow.

Amber?

.

Amber stands unsteadily in the corridor, the wall supporting

her helpless body. Porn watches her silently, unmoving.

Eventually, her dainty limbs cannot support her upper

weight, and she collapses into a lotus position, her head

low in her own lap.

Porn looks round again.

.

PORN (CONT.)

Nikky? Nikky, are you awake?

.

Nikky painfully raises her head, looks around to get her

bearings, and fumbles for a lighter on the beside table. She

starts to light the party whistle, and inhales from it.

Exhaling the smoke, the whistle blows with a tragically weak

sound. She does not notice it isn’t a cigarette.

.

NIKKI

Where the hell are we?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 2.

PORN

Bangkok, still, I hope. Nana maybe.

I think. Are you okay?

.

Nikki looks at the smoldering party whistle.

.

NIKKI

No.

.

She takes a moment.

.

NIKKI (CONT.)

We . . . We should get back to the

Splash Bar.

.

A hand reaches into shot and grabs the pink bra from the

bedside table. It’s DIDI, who appears bright, breezy and

focused. She’s the only one.

DIDI

Right you sluts, move your asses.

I’ve got a pile of stuff to do at

the bar, we got a party of fifteen

coming in this evening. Let’s move

it! Come on!

.

She looks around. None of the others are even capable of

moving.

.

DIDI (CONT.)

What’s wrong with everybody?

.

AMBER

Why . . . why are? Why are you the

only one who is . . . functioning?

.

DIDI

Practice. Who’s for coffee.

.

Nikki’s head sways in disbelief.

.

NIKKI

Coffee? Coffee’s good.

.

Didi tuts impatiently.

.

DIDI

Where’s Yu?

.

NIKKI

Where’s who? Me? I’m here . . .

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 3.

DIDI

No. Yu. Yui? The girl from the

hotel?

.

PORN

Bathroom.

.

Didi strides to the second en-suite.

.

DIDI

Yui?

.

She enters the bathroom to find the petite Thai with her

head in the toilet bowl.

.

DIDI

Are you alright?

.

The girl, YUI, replies without taking her head out the

basin.

.

YUI

I’m good.

.

She spits the remaining piece of vomit out of her mouth.

.

DIDI

(to all)

We need an airlift. I’m gonna call

Joe.

She takes out her phone and selects a phone book entry.

.

DIDI (CONT.)

Shoot! My iPhone has no signal. How

can I fix this?

.

PORN

Get a Android. Here.

.

She passes her the handset.

.

DIDI

This one isn’t working either.

That’s weird.

.

A boisterous noise is heard outside. Didi goes to the

window.

.

DIDI (CONT.)

What the hell’s going on?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 4.

NIKKI

What is it?

DIDI

There’s hundreds of people outside

all walking like . . . I don’t

know, like mindless gibbering

retards, and . . . dragging their

heels. They’re drooling, and not

making any sense, and they look as

if they don’t know where they’re

going.

.

NIKKI

(disinterested)

They’re probably English teachers.

Walking home from a night out.

.

Didi walks back into the centre of the room and begins

tidying up.

.

DIDI

Oh well, who cares. Guys, we really

need to move our asses. Amber, can

you go down to the lobby and hold a

taxi?

.

All turn to see Amber, who sleeps upside down in the

wardrobe, with just her high heels and spindly legs on

display.

.

EXT – SPLASH BAR – DAY

LAWRENCE explodes into the poolside area in his usual

dizzying furore. He walks up to JOE, who is just setting up

the bar counter top.

.

LAWRENCE

Joe!

.

JOE

Good morning, Mr. Lawrence.

.

LAWRENCE

I wish to God it was a good

morning! Those reprobate friends of

yours were causing rampant chaos

all night last night! I’ve had

guests complaining about the noise,

loud music playing till the early

hours, obscene sexual acts in the

swimming pool! And that clueless

(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 5.

LAWRENCE (cont’d)

harpy, what’s her name. . . .? Oooh

. . . ?

.

JOE

Sarah Palin?

.

LAWRENCE

No! For heaven’s sake! The

abhorrent miscrant, the one who

struts around with a martini, with

her two-lane highway always on

display . . .

.

JOE

Amber?

.

LAWRENCE

Yeah. Amber. That plain-clothes

hooker threw up in the salad bar.

What will our guests think to that?

They go for quail eggs and Cesar to

start their gentle evening of

tipping, and find HIV-infected

stomach contents circulating in the

gespatcho soup! I tell you!

Joe smiles, with a “I know what they’re like” smile.

.

JOE

Yep. They like to party.

.

LAWRENCE

What’s happening with the new

tablecloths? I told you to advise

me when they arrived, Joe.

.

JOE

No sign, Mister Lawrence, Nikki’s

still waiting for the new glassware

too.

.

LAWRENCE

Why is it so damn hard to get

anything done in this damn country?

.

JOE

Hey, Boss, this is Thailand. You

need to make allowances, Ci?

.

LAWRENCE

Thailand. (scoffs) What has

Thailand ever given the world,

(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 6.

LAWRENCE (cont’d)

besides reasonably-priced

prostitution?

.

He looks round behind him.

.

LAWRENCE (CONT.)

Where’s that half-witted assistant

of mine? Phillip?

.

He turns to see his assistant, PHILLIP, enter the pool bar

area. He is walking on crutches and his left leg is bandaged

up. There is blood visible on the dressing as the man

hobbles up to his boss.

.

PHILLIP

Yes, Mr. Lawrence. Coming, Mr.

Lawrence. Sorry, Mr. Lawrence.

.

LAWRENCE

Phillip? What the hell happened to

you? I guess I don’t need to ask

why you’re an hour late. What in

God’s name happened to you?

.

PHILLIP

I was walking to work, Mr.

Lawrence. Nice and early, see, as

always. I had just finished running

in the park, and I was on my way

here. I was exiting the park road

when suddenly a dog confronted me.

.

His pupils dilate and his blood pressure rises as he relives

the story.

.

PHILLIP (CONT.)

This . . . big dog. Mean, it was!

Eyes like, like . . . it was . . .

mad!

LAWRENCE

.

What are you drivelling about, you

moron?

.

PHILLIP

Truly, Mr. Lawrence! It bit me! It

sunk it’s dirty fangs into me and

wouldn’t let go.

.

He goes light-headed and misty eyed as he continues his

story.

.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 7.

PHILLIP (CONT.)

In the end, I had to smash its

brains out with my Sony Vaio.

.

JOE

Jesus, man? Are you okay? What will

you do now?

.

PHILLIP

I expect I will be able to claim on

the warranty.

.

JOE

No, I mean about your leg.

.

PHILLIP

I was worried I might have tetanus,

so I called in at the clinic on the

way here. They said it was a clean

wound, and that I should take these

ibuprofen every three hours.

.

Lawrence relents, and puts a supportive arm around his

senior staff member in an apparent show of comfort.

.

LAWRENCE

Well, Phillip, we can’t have you

pottering about on that bad leg all

day, can we?

.

PHILLIP

Mr. Lawrence, Sir? Oh, thank you!

Shall . . . shall I go home sick?

.

Lawrence withdraws his arm.

.

LAWRENCE

Of course not, man. We’ve got the

Ambassador’s table to prepare this

evening. Go to my office and take

two codeine tablets. I can’t afford

to have you slowing me down today.

.

Philip looks for a moment as if he may cry, and then gathers

himself.

.

PHILLIP

Yes, Mr. Lawrence, Sir.

.

He hobbles off.

8.

INT – CHEAP HOTEL RECEPTION AREA – DAY

Didi paces angrily and the others slowly appear in the

reception, like hurricane-ravaged refugees.

.

DIDI

(to herself)

For crying out loud . . .

.

Porn carries Amber, who is unable to walk under her own

power.

.

PORN

What’s going on?

.

DIDI

I can’t see any taxis. This is

Bangkok, for God sake! There’s

millions of taxis. Something’s

wrong.

.

PORN

Have you been out to the street?

.

DIDI

No way! I’m not paying off-meter to

one of those tout scumbags.

.

PORN

Didi, who cares? Look, just get us

a cab, any cab, and I will pay,

alright?

.

Didi brushes past her with gentle disgust.

.

DIDI

Jesus, even the poor student wants

to pay. She must be in a rush to

get home.

.

Didi goes to the front door and looks out of the window.

Suddenly, a heavy object, possibly a brick, impacts against

the glass with a loud punch, sending cracks through the

glass as Didi reels back in fear. She breathes heavy.

.

NIKKI

Are you okay?

.

Didi is frozen with fear. She edges back towards the

corridor, as if she is going to return to the hotel room.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 9.

DIDI

Yeah. . . yeah, I’m . . . I’m fine.

I just, err . . . I’m just gonna

make sure I haven’t . . . had an

accident-

.

She rushes back to the room.

.

Nikki moves forwards, apparently more awake now, and eager

to see what the problem is.

.

NIKKI

What the hell’s going on here?

.

All are panicked but Porn creeps forward to ease a cheeky

look outside. In the background, other riot noises can be heard, like

breaking glass and the metal of car hoods being damaged in

the street.

.

PORN

It’s like a full on riot! What

shall we do?

.

All look at Nikki for guidance.

.

NIKKI

Why you all looking at me like

that?

.

ALL

Like what?

.

NIKKI

Like I’m a pubic hair in a

five-star entree?

.

YUI

What shall we do, Nikki!?

.

NIKKI

Shoot! I’m not sure. Someone needs

to go outside and see what’s going

on out there.

.

PORN

Well don’t look at me! This

street’s really dangerous when

there’s NOT a riot going on!

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 10.

YUI

I can’t go. The early morning air

gives me the sniffles.

.

PORN

Send Amber. She’s more irritating

than a baby with toothache on a

long haul light. Get her to go.

.

All turn to Amber, who looks like the living dead. Nikki

shakes her to try and get some response. She’s

half-conscious but able to walk.

.

NIKKI

Amber! Amber, I need you with us

okay? We’ve got a really important

mission for you. Your team needs

you, baby.

.

Her head lolls around in half-recognition.

.

AMBER

Huuuuuhhhhhh . . .

.

NIKKI

Amber, your pals need you to go

outside, and see what the hell’s

going on out there, okay.

.

AMBER

Muuuh . . . Ugh. N—–

.

Her response is just about audible as “no.”

.

NIKKI

Amber! It’s real desperate! We need

to go back home, there’s something

going on out in the street, and if

we can’t get home, I can’t run my

bar, and you can’t drink for free

anymore.

.

With that, Amber sort of comes round in an inquisitive way.

.

AMBER

Huuuuh????? Okkkkkaaaaa- . . .

.

She stumbles clumsily towards the front door of the hotel.

Porn looks on, horrified.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 11.

PORN

(to herself)

You go, girl.

.

EXT – OUTSIDE OF CHEAP HOTEL – DAY

Amber drools into lumbering view, like a half-dead monster.

It takes her a few moments to realise the scene that awaits

her.

.

A long chain of possibly hundreds of zombie-like half-human

half-dead creatures parade past the front door of the hotel.

The scene is carnage. Food vans and items in the street are

completed trashed, and a car is on fire.

The creatures amble past slowly and uncomfortably, in a

sickening way. They make a low horror-movie moan as they

pass by.

.

Amber appears to sober up slightly as if she finally clocks

that something is amiss. She looks round in drunken

disbelief.

One of the zombies notices her, and adjusts his course. This

CREATURE now ambles slowly to the front door of the hotel,

towards Amber! It moans in a horrific undead fashion.

It looks Amber straight in the eye. Suddenly, the zombie

creature appears startled. It stops walking, and eyes Amber

up and down as she swings drunkenly in the hotel porch.

She moans like an undead creature too!

.

CREATURE

Wooooaarrghhhh . . .

.

Its tortured moans curdle the blood, but Amber does not

appear to notice the immediate threat she is in.

She drools, ambles and moans back, the result of too much

whisky that morning.

.

AMBER

Muuurrgghhh…. Feel bad . . .

Muuhhhwaaaa.

.

This seems to have been enough to convince the creature that

she is a zombie too. It turns back and rejoins the zombie

hordes as they continue down the street.

Amber takes a moment to try and figure out what’s going on.

She can’t, so she returns to the hotel foyer.

.

12.

INT – CHEAP HOTEL RECEPTION – DAY

Amber enters. All wait with baited breath.

.

NIKKI

Amber, what is it?

.

DIDI

Yeah! Tell us, Amber, what’s going

on?

.

YUI

(cries)

For God’s sake, what’s going on out

there?!

.

Amber loses her battle with drunkenness again and sits down,

her head in her lap.

.

PORN

Damn it, Amber! what the hell’s

going on??

.

Amber lifts her head for just a moment, and manages to slur

two drunken words . . .

.

AMBER

(drunk, disinterested)

Zombie rampage.

.

INT – CHEAP HOTEL RECEPTION – LATER IN THE DAY

At the front of the hotel, we see additional windows have

been broken by the passing mob. The girls have used an

umbrella to bar the front double doors shut.

All sit quietly. Nikki paces back and forth.

NIKKI

We need to figure out what the heck

is going on.

PORN

Where are all the hotel staff?

NIKKI

I don’t know.

Didi enters from the corridor.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 13.

DIDI

Guys! You need to see this.

All rise and follow Didi out of the reception area into the

back hall of the hotel. Amber follows too; apparently she is

more sober now.

Didi has found a small side office where a gentleman in a

short-sleeved white shirt and tie sits at a computer. He is

dead, seemingly the result of a severe head wound.

All pause in shock.

YUI

Ewwww! What happened to him?

NIKKI

(bewildered)

I don’t know.

Amber reads his ID tag on his shirt.

AMBER

I think he’s an I.T. engineer.

She looks at the others.

AMBER (CONT.)

He’s probably relieved to be dead.

Porn is reading from his notebook.

PORN

Says here that he was due to check

the hotel’s computers, to make sure

they are energy-compliant.

Amber looks horrified.

AMBER

Oh my God . . . ! What a loser.

NIKKI

Right, we need to get the hell out

of here. Guys, grab whatever you

can find. Anything that looks like

it may be useful as a weapon.

Yui grabs an inflatable parrot from the tacky display in

reception.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 14.

NIKKI (CONT.)

Not that.

Didi grabs a fire extinguisher. Porn has a broom, and Nikki

holds a heavy-looking metal dustpan.

All turn to Amber, who has found an alarmingly large dildo

from her handbag.

No-one speaks. Amber nods.

AMBER

Let’s go.

EXT – OUTSIDE OF CHEAP HOTEL – DAY

They exit the hotel cautiously. In the street, carnage has

been and gone. The zombies have left already, and there’s no

life, just the smoldering wreck of the car.

They edge forward nervously.

There are several dead bodies in the street.

NIKKI

Guys, we need some wheels. Who has

a car close by?

YUI

(to Didi)

What about that guy you were

screwing? He lives down here,

right? You still got the key?

DIDI

Yeah but, we’re not on speaking

terms.

Nikki surveys the dead carcasses in the road.

NIKKI

(distantly)

I don’t think that’s gonna matter,

Dee.

They start down the street, looking around nervously. Zombie

moaning noises are heard all around, in dizzying 3D surround

sound.

They move on cautiously. As they round the corner of the

soi, they see a ZOMBIE SCHOOLBOY feasting on the decaying

body of a civilian. He munches in a sickening way.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 15.

He looks up! He sees them! Getting to his feet, the zombie

boy ambles towards the girls.

YUI

Nikki! What do we do?

The other looks on in disbelief.

DIDI

Take him out, Nikki!

NIKKI

I, can’t . . . he’s just a boy!

DIDI

He’s infected with some sort of . .

. crazy zombie madness! Take him

down!

NIKKI

I … I …

PORN

Oh for heaven’s sake . . .

As the zombie boy approaches them, Porn steps forward and

nails him with the broom. The creature reels in pain and

eventually collapses to the ground.

NIKKI

Where did you learn to do that?

PORN

Friday nights. At your bar.

DIDI

Right guys, let’s move it.

They edge off down the street.

Around the next corner, the girls freeze. There is a group

of around 15 zombies, moaning and wretching, looking for

blood and things to destroy. They block their path and there

seems to be no way through. As the girls enter the alley,

the zombies clock their appearance, and start staggering

towards the group.

NIKKI

Err, guys? I think we got problems.

AMBER

I’ll take care of this.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 16.

Amber confronts the foremost zombie and begins slapping him

across the face with her dildo.

AMBER (CONT.)

You like that, huh? You want some

more? Do ya, huh? Come on!

The blows do little to put the zombie down.

DIDI

Amber, you’re to killing zombies

what Hersheys is to making

chocolate.

A savage blow strikes the zombie and knocks him down. It’s

Nikki, wielding the metal dustpan like a woman possessed!

The girls set about demolishing the crowd of zombies, but

there are too many of them.

They fall back as the zombie hordes approach. The girls are

pinned down with their backs to a wall and all seems

hopeless. Just then, a large saloon car pulls into the

alley, sounding its horn and knocking down several zombies

as it comes to rest.

The electric window goes down revealing the hero driver to

be DICK.

DICK

Come on! Now it’s my turn to call

closing time.

NIKKI

It’s Dick! Everybody in.

The girls clamber into the car, and it peels out of the

alley, leaving zombies crawling on the floor mindlessly

looking for more victims.

INT – CAR (MOVING) – DAY

Dick drives in a panicked fashion as the girls collect

themselves in the car.

NIKKI

Thanks Dick! What the hell’s going

on in Bangkok? Why is everyone

going crazy? It’s like mob rule!

But with blood-crazed lunatics!

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 17.

DICK

Didn’t you hear the radio? There’s

been a mutant virus escaped into

the population, and it’s giving

everyone blood-lust!

YUI

Are you okay Dickie? How long was

it since the zombie bit you?

DICK

What do you mean? I haven’t been

bitten?

YUI

You look so pale; all the blood’s

drained out of your face, your

clothes are a mess and your teeth

are all screwed up.

DICK

Hello! I’m European.

DIDI

Well I think we need a place to

hole-up. The bar will be safe. It’s

ten floors up. They can’t climb

stairs, can they?

They all turn to see a businessman on a shop roof, shouting

for help. Three zombies slowly climb the fire escape to get

to him. His wilting cries indicate that he is most

definitely doomed.

All silent.

NIKKY

Well, Splash is as good a place as

any. I need to check my bar’s okay.

At least the hotel has food.

INT – SPLASH BAR HOTEL RECEPTION – DAY

Lawrence talks on his phone.

LAWRENCE

What do you mean they don’t have

any food? This is a four-star hotel

with a strong local reputation. How

am I supposed to host buffet this

evening? Problem? Can’t get

deliveries? No, Kantana, I haven’t

(MORE)

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 18.

LAWRENCE (cont’d)

seen the news. Ohh! Don’t be

ridiculous. That’s the worst excuse

I’ve ever heard for not coming

through with the catering drop.

He cancels the call. Lawrence turns to see Phillip, who now

appears to have grey skin, drool around his face, entirely

white eyes with no irises, and distressed clothing. He no

longer walks on crutches, but limps like a transforming

zombie.

LAWRENCE (CONT.)

Phillip! You look like death, man!

Go and tidy yourself up! We have

the Ambassador’s representative

coming any minute! If he sees you

like this what will he think?

PHILLIP

Uuuuhhhhhhhhh . . .

LAWRENCE

I know . . . I feel stressed too. I

got so much on my plate right now.

Did the tablecloths arrive yet?

PHILLIP

Uhhhhhggghhhh . . . .

LAWRENCE

Good. Make sure Joe has the bar

looking good. And pull yourself

together. You look like the inside

of a badger’s ass-crack.

PHILLIP

Waaaahhhhh . . .

LAWRENCE

Here. Take these.

Lawrence hands Phillip two white tablets. He looks down at

them, confused.

LAWRENCE (CONT.)

It’s your ibuprofen, Phillip.

They’ll make you feel better.

Phillip looks in wonder at the two white tablets. He prods

them in his hand and looks back at his boss for

clarification.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 19.

LAWRENCE (CONT.)

For Heaven’s sake! Here . . .

He readjusts Phillip’s neck tie.

LAWRENCE (CONT.)

That’s better.

He exits, leaving his subordinate in a confused, wobbling

state.

INT – CAR (MOVING) – DAY

Dick drives as they make progress through the city.

DICK

How come you guys didn’t know this

was happening? It started last

night. All hell broke loose.

NIKKI

There were complications. Jack

Daniels complications. Where are

all the military and police?

DICK

Evacuated. Everybody had to leave

the city.

YUI

Ohhh! But where are we gonna go?

DICK

They’re advising everyone to head

South, down to Chantaburi and the

islands.

AMBER

Cool! It’s nice down there.

All bask in Amber’s stupidity.

NIKKI

Wait! Dick – pull over!

Dick stops the car. At the side of the road, a Police

Officer (KHUMAR) and an injured civilian (FREDDY) stand

together at the side of the road. All get out.

PORN

Hey! Are you guys okay? You need a

ride out of here?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 20.

KHUMAR

I’m just attending to this

civilian. My duty is, to protect

and serve!

The man holds his neck. Blood gushes out from the zombie

bite wound.

DIDI

Hi Freddy.

FREDDY

Hey.

He looks sad and forlorn, as if he knows he will transform

and die soon.

PORN

You guys know each other?

DIDI

Yeah, it’s my ex. (to Freddy) How

ya been?

FREDDY

Okay, I guess. Not so good.

DIDI

Yeah. You don’t look so great.

He shrugs with the uncomfortable feeling one encounters when

meeting their ex. He still holds the gaping wound on his

neck.

FREDDY

A Zombie bit my neck.

DIDI

Yeah. I see that.

An uncomfortable pause.

DIDI (CONT.)

I found your CD.

He can’t manage a smile.

DIDI (CONT.)

Would you believe, it was in the

cupboard behind the biscuit barrel.

They all stare at Freddy, who looks like he may die in

seconds. He looks so sad.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 21.

DIDI (CONT.)

How it got there, I’ll never know .

. . Ces’t la vie . . .

AMBER

(tries to sound clever)

It’s always in the last place you

look!

She shakes her head, a little ironic smile.

PORN

Guys, we need to get the hell out

of here.

YUI

She’s right. Leave him behind.

DIDI

We can’t leave him here!

NIKKI

No, Yui’s right. We can’t risk

taking him. What if he changes in

the car?

AMBER

That’s okay, no one will see. He’s

probably wearing boxers anyway.

NIKKI

I mean changes into a zombie.

KHUMAR

We could put him in the trunk.

DIDI

We’re not putting him in the trunk!

It’s airtight, he’ll suffocate!

YUI

It’s okay, it’s American – the

panels don’t line up.

NIKKI

Okay. Stash him. We need to make

like a chicken and . . .and . . .

PORN

Cluck off?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 22.

NIKKI

Right.

Dick opens the trunk and the girls dump Freddy in. They

drive off.

A few yards down the road, Joe stops the car again.

PORN

Why are we stopping?

DICK

There’s a pharmacy here. We should

grab some medical supplies. Plus

the radio said there’s been

widespread pillaging. Everyone

grabbed all the food they could and

high-tailed it out of town.

Amber laughs to herself, still slightly drunk.

AMBER

Ha! Crazy Bangkok . . .

Deafening silence.

NIKKI

Okay. Dick, you keep the car

running. Didi and I will get the

medical supplies. Amber, you go

with Yui and Porn and find some

food.

AMBER

Cool! Let’s go to Subway. There

won’t be any queues.

DIDI

No way. I’m not designing my own

fucking sandwich.

Amber’s already out the car and doing a happy little drunken

dance up the street.

NIKKI

Amber?! Where are you going? You’re

not safe!

AMBER

This is grrrrreeeeat! There’s

nobody here, we can do anything we

want. I’m going to Macdonalds!

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 23.

YUI

Do you think they still have food?

PORN

They never had food.

AMBER (OFF)

Woooo!

NIKKI

Forget it. Let her go. When she’s

in this stupid mood, she’s like a

spinning top; you just need to wind

her up and let her go.

They all watch Amber cartwheel with joyful ambivalence down

the street.

NIKKI (CONT.)

Yep. Like a . . . drunk . . .

high-heeled, glittery spinning top.

AMBER (OFF)

Woo! Yeah . . .! I can do anything!

I am queen of the world! I’m gonna

bang Ronald!!

She dances around the Ronald Macdonald icon in front of the

fast food restaurant. She gets into doggy position in front

of the colourful statue and pretends to have sex with it.

AMBER

Yeah, do it to me Big Ron! Ohhh

yeah!! Go large on me! Gimme that

secret sauce! Woo!!

All look on in absolute shock.

YUI

(vacantly)

We’re screwed.

EXT – STREET SCENE – EVENING

Joe walks down the street, content in his own company. He

whistles to himself and he carries a box of bar supplies

back to the hotel.

He becomes aware that he is being followed by two people. He

sort of turns but pays it no mind.

We look past his shoulder and see that there are two zombies

tracking him.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 24.

Joe keeps whistling, and adjusts his pace slightly. He

becomes more concerned now. Yep, he’s definitely being

followed! Still he doesn’t turn; he does not want any

trouble.

Eventually he stops. He turns and finally realises the two

zombies are following HIM! He stops whistling and takes a

moment to try and understand. Still they advance.

JOE

Buenas Nachas! Can I . . . help you

. . . fine gentleman?

Camera looks at the zombies. They are not fine gentlemen.

They advance further and raise their hands to strangle him.

Joe shoves the heavy box hard at one of the creatures, and

uppercuts the other one, knocking his head clean off. He

panics for a moment and tries to think. He sees another

seven or eight zombies advancing on him.

He dashes into the Splash Hotel and closes the front door

behind him, locking it, and rechecking it. He breathes

heavily.

LAWRENCE

What in the name of all that is

holy do you think you are doing,

Joe?

JOE

Mr. Lawrence! There’s a horde of

marauding zombies out in the

street!

LAWRENCE

Oh, don’t be so ridiculous Joe-

JOE

I’m telling you, Mr. Lawrence! It’s

grande loco!

LAWRENCE

Now, now . . . IPHILLIP

(OFF)

Muuwwaaaahhhhhh . . .

They turn to see Phillip, now in full zombie transformation,

advancing towards them!

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 25.

LAWRENCE

Phillip! What are you doing? Have

the tables been set-

PHILLIP

Ooooowwaahhhh . . .

Still he advances, now in a threatening way.

LAWRENCE

Now, Phillip, I . . .

PHILLIP

Ummmm . . . –

Joe takes him down by striking him hard with the reception

telephone.

LAWRENCE

Joe . . . I . . .don’t know what to

say. He was my model employee, he’s

not been with us long . . .

JOE

Probation period finito. Come on!

They head to the elevators.

EXT – SWIMMING POOL – DAY

Francois lies on a sunbed. His timer clock goes off, and he

turns over to sunbathe the other half of his body.

Idly, he flicks on the radio which is next to his sunbed.

RADIO

” . . . with reports of widespread

violence occurring at venues

throughout the city. Eye witnesses

reported seeing highly aggressive

behavior at many locations, with

cars being set on fire, and

escalating acts of desperation,

rioting, fighting, violence . . .”

Francois shakes his head in disgust.

FRANCOIS

(tuts)

Straights . . .

26.

INT – CAR (STATIONARY) – EVENING

Nikki chats to Dick in the car whilst the others find food.

NIKKI

Thanks again for picking us up,

Dick. I don’t know what we would

have done without you.

DICK

No worries, Nikki. Always like to

support you guys. Usually by

drinking at your bar!

Both smile.

A terrifying loud knock on the car door! No zombies, just

Amber.

AMBER

(teasing)

Look what I gotttttt!

NIKKI

You found some food?

AMBER

Better. I got . . . Tadddar! Parma

ham and fetta!

Her eyes light up.

NIKKI

We’re surviving a zombie

apocalypse, slick tits, not

catering to a film festival.

AMBER

Hmph! All mine then!

She skips off.

DICK (CONT.)

Amber’s not all there, is she?

NIKKI

Not really.

DICK

I mean, she never really got a

handle on the practicalities of

life, did she?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 27.

NIKKI

No. Amber’s greatest achievement

was inventing a new type of

pregancy test. Instead of two blue

lines for pregnant, it displayed,

“$360,000 over 18 years.” If you

weren’t pregnant, instead of one

blue line, it said “It’s okay,

don’t jump.”

Dick looks confused as he mulls over the concept.

NIKKI (CONT.)

That was it. Her Einstein moment. A

one-hit wonder. Like that Vanilla

Ice record.

There’s a loud noise echoing down the street. We turn to see

Khumar, Yui, Porn and Didi come sprinting round the corner,

chased by 20-plus angry zombies, intent on munching on their

brains!

NIKKI

Christ! Dick, start the car!

Khumar and the girls all pile in, and Dick drives off at

speed.

They round several corners and arrive at the Splash Bar

Hotel.

The group runs to the front door but are horrified to find

it’s locked! All bang heavily on the glass. From over their

shoulder, a heavy object hits the front door of the hotel.

They turn to see a horde of zombies have managed to follow

them.

ALL

Open up! Help! Open this door right

now! Somebody!

Lawrence comes into view in the hotel lobby. He seems to

think for a moment whether to open the door. He singles out

Nikki and makes mocking faces at her! He makes rude

gestures, as if he has finally won their long running

battle.

Unbeknown to Lawrence, a zombie is already in the hotel.

It’s a THAI MAID ZOMBIE – one of the worst kinds!

She stalks up behind Lawrence who does not realise.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 28.

ALL

Lawrence! Turn around! Turn around!

Again he mocks them, puts his hands on his hips and makes a

fake deep barrel-laugh.

The Thai maid Zombie lunges forward and clamps onto his

neck, pulling him to the ground with savage force.

From out of nowhere, Joe kicks the girl zombie into orbit

with a solid rugby kick. She goes flying. He hurries to open

the front doors and let them in.

NIKKI

Thanks Joe!

DIDI

What now?

PORN

We should go to the roof and wait

for a rescue. We’ll be safe there.

They turn to leave, but Khumar stops them.

KHUMAR

Wait! In zombie movies, they always

run to the roof.

YUI

What are you saying?

PORN

We don’t have time for this. Are

you making a point, or having an

epileptic fit?

KHUMAR

They always run to the roof in

horror films, and then they’re

stuck there. I suggest, we go to

the car park.

They all turn to look at the only door out of the hotel. 25

zombies clamber against the glass. That ain’t gonna work.

DICK

After you, Koom.

KHUMAR

Roof?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 29.

YUI

I think that’s a progressively

better idea.

They all run to the stairs.

EXT – SWIMMING POOL – DAY

Francois files his nails idly. He hums to himself, “Gimme

Gimme Gimme a Man After Midnight.”

The group bursts into the Splash bar poolside area.

ALL

Francois! Hey!

He stands up like a mother hen.

FRANCOIS

Well, ex – cuse me! What’s all this

fussing and noise? As the

lifeguard, I have to say that you

are acting in a to-ta-ly

unacceptable way. I need to

supervise the pool, y’know!

AMBER

There’s no one here, butt nugget.

He fakes shock at the sentiment.

NIKKI

Francois, do you have no idea

what’s happening? In about fifteen

second, there’s a thousand

blood-crazed zombie creatures

coming up the stairs to feast on

our brains and limbs! We need to

barricade the stairs!

They make a makeshift rubbish pile out of chairs, boxes and

items from the bar.

DIDI

There. That oughtta steady ’em up.

NIKKI

Right, we dig in and wait for a

rescue. Joe, switch that TV over to

the news so we can follow the

reports.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 30.

PORN

What are you watching, anyway?

JOE

Some show about a pool bar in

Bangkok.

YUI

Wait, I’ve seen this . . . That

show sucks.

DIDI

Yeah, turn it over.

Joe switches to the emergency broadcast channel.

NIKKI

(to Francois)

What have you been doing, anyway?

FRANCOIS

I’ve been here, relaxing, tanning,

trying out new sex positions.

DIDI

You’re single.

FRANCOIS

I know. I was trying them on my

own. Watch this.

Francois demonstrates a range of comical positions.

NIKKI

I need a drink.

AMBER

Coming right up, baby! This is an

Amber special! The Molotov Cocktail

of Germ Warfare cocktails!

Nikki takes a sip from the steaming, flourescent green

drink.

NIKKI

Eww. What’d you put in it.

Amber shrugs.

AMBER

Everything.

Porn paces.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 31.

PORN

This is crazy. We can’t just wait

here. It could be days before a

rescue! We don’t have much food.

And to be honest, I think we’re

going to go crazy with boredom.

What are we supposed to do?

KHUMAR

Monopoly?

He holds up the red and white board game box.

NIKKI

Are you for real?

There’s a loud DING from the elevator. All look at each

other.

YUI

What . . . was that?

NIKKI

Guys, we forgot the elevator!

JOE

Nikki! Relax, baby. Zombies can’t

use elevators.

The elevator doors open and ten zombies spill out. Leading

them is LAWRENCE ZOMBIE.

The Splash guys circle the elevator exit. Nikki notices that

the lead zombie is in fact Lawrence. With renewed vigour,

she makes good with her trusty dustpan, and delivers a

viscous blow. Lawrence’s head comes clean off, landing in

Francois’s lap. He panicks, and tosses it into the pool.

FRANCOIS

OMG! OMG! WTF!

NIKKI

I always wanted to do that.

The group retreats from the elevator as the zombie clan

moves forward.

DICK

Err, guys, any thoughts?

Still they edge forward. All look at Nikki, who is fresh out

of ideas.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 32.

AMBER

Oh, for God’s sake. I have to do

everything around here.

Amber smashes her martini glass carrying the vile looking

cocktail over one of the zombie’s heads. He reacts in pain

from exposure to the super strong cocktail. It burns his

skin and he reacts with melodrama, falling back before

collapsing into a heap on the floor.

NIKKI

Amber! Your cocktail! It’s

poisonous to them.

Amber already has a second glass in her hand. She looks at

it.

AMBER

Well, duh! It’s poisonous to

everything. Joe uses it to clean

the bar top.

JOE

It’s true. Takes the dirt straight

off.

PORN

Amber! Quick! Do you have any more?

AMBER

Of course. Why do you think Im

always wasted? There’s a pitcher

behind the bar.

DIDI

Quick everyone! Grab some of this .

. .this . . . this . . . What do

you call this?

AMBER

I call it the “Anal Privilege,” cos

it leaves your insides all messed

up.

NIKKI

Whatever. Just hit them!

All take some of the crazy coloured substance and set about

painting the zombies faces with it. They burn and collapse

in the same manner.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 33.

ALL

Yeah! Take that! Woo! It’s working.

NIKKI

You did it Amber! You saved us!

Amber? Amber?

Nikki turns to see her friend floating face down in the pool

after losing her day-long battle with alcohol. Francois is

rigid with shock and cannot move, a result of the zombie

advance. Amber’s unconscious body floats past him. Francois

has one of the cocktails too. He takes a sip and places it

on Amber’s upturned back, as her immobile carcass floats

past.

Joe’s listening to the TV.

TV

“. . . with confirmed reports that

the creatures are severely allergic

to chemical thinners and high doses

of alcohol . . . “

Nikki leans over the side of the balcony and looks down to

street level. There are uninfected civilians banging on the

door to the hotel, pleading to be let in.

Dick joins her at her side.

NIKKI

What do you think? Should we let

them in?

Dick takes a swig from his glass of Amber’s mental cocktail.

DICK

Of course. This is the Splash Bar,

right?

He looks at the poor people trying to get in.

DICK

They’re desperate. Helpless. Look

like death. Hopeless human beings

with no chance of survival.

Nikky looks at him and smiles.

DICK (CONT.)

They’ve come to the right place.

He brushes past Nikki’s shoulder. She looks down into the

street and smiles again.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 34.

As we pan away and the title music begins to play, we see a

group of rampaging zombies demolish the desperate people

seeking shelter in Splash. We fly away into the Bangkok

skyline and beyond, as the “Cool by the Pool” title music

plays.

FADE OUT

 

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Screenplay (full): The Corsair Journals

Category: Historial, drama, romantic drama, full-length feature

Length: two hours

Option status (re-available)

(All material (c)2018 David Swinfen (commercial enquiries – http://www.davidswinfenassociates.com)

<Please email info@davidswinfenassociates.com for industry standard PDF, should you have any trouble reading the formatting  below>

.

1

EXT – CROYDON AIRFIELD, ENGLAND – NIGHT

It is raining heavily on this dark evening in late

winter. The sky is saturated and offers fleeting

glimpses to a lightning storm above.

Nearby, the outer perimeter of an airfield is marked by a

wire-link fence, and a striped windsock is being

consistently battered by an unyielding crosswind.

The dainty frame of a De Havilland airliner sways on its

gentle approach to Croydon’s lone runway. The heavy

rains can be heard impacting its wooden carcass with a

percussive thudding as it makes determined headway

through the storm. Six-cylinder engines sing their

howling retort in the face of a steadfast and arrogant

hail. She touches down with a pop and a brief screech of

tired rubber, before easing a mechanical sigh.

We turn slightly around to the right where a small

building with a tin roof adjoins the much larger North

Hangar. One of the windows along the side wall is

broken, and the building itself is in a ramshackle state

of repair. A vague orange light glows past the black

door frame, giving the only clue that people are still

inside.

A crude sign hangs from the facing wall which states

optimistically in black letters, ‘Imperial Airways Head

Office’.

We pace towards the building slowly and are greeted with

a narrow passageway consisting of flimsy plaster walls.

The light bulbs above are bare 40-watt lamps with no

shades, and the windows and carpets are dusty and old.

At the far end of the corridor, a door closes with a

definite slam, perhaps caught by the evening’s bluster.

Turning into a small side office, we notice a forlorn

poster depicting an archaic and feeble Handley-Page

aircraft. The office glows to the reach of a green Gauzy

lamp, and a wooden desk calendar is obscured by an

assortment of newspapers, so we are not able to see the

date. Atop is a bold Arrears Notice, which has been cast

aside with little regard for its blood-red lettering.

Voices of middle-aged men are heard in the office.

We twirl right as a grey moth enters the room just as we

2

do. Its antennae are pronounced and long, as if

outstretched so that it may hear the conversation going

about below. The cold gust down the corridor gives lift

to its progress as it dances a ghostly descent towards

the lamp.

The room feels cold, as if the copper radiator pipes

audibly swell and crackle to the patina of disuse.

The voices continue to be heard.

SIR ERIC GEDDES is a well-built gentleman in his early

fifties. His square jaw and chiselled features belie his

age, and he has the air of an adventurer. His trousers

have broad, striped detail and his white shirt a formal,

floral pattern. This man has an extrovert taste, yet

carries this unusual garb to a satisfactory conclusion.

The other man is GEORGE WOODS HUMPHREY. He is less

lavishly attired, except for a moustache which extends

beyond the margin of contemporary necessity. He is

younger than Geddes, and his voice is higher in pitch and

more quintessentially plucky. He slouches from chair to

desk, whereas the other sits bolt upright.

As we greet them face-on, the voices clarify into

trailing rhetoric.

GEDDES

To call it a competitor is to do

them an ill service. A European

route was always going to be

easier. What of Heston?

HUMPHREY

Larger by the day. Nearly three

thousand feet across now. By

this time next year, we may find

Croydon to be merely

supplementary.

GEDDES

This time next year and we may

find that there are more pressing

concerns. So typical of

Chamberlain to make bold claims

without a full understanding.

(cont.)

3

GEDDES (cont.)

Italy is nothing but a nation of

sanctimonious farmers.

Geddes turns to tug a top corner of one of the newspapers

into view. The headline is ‘Commons United in Defence’.

The date is obscured but it is sometime in March. The

year reads ‘1939’.

HUMPHREY

Sudetenland has implication for

Africa. It is doubtful now that

anything can be agreed. It will

make for a longer trip.

GEDDES

Despite his failings, Alcock

would appear to be the exception

that proved the rule.

HUMPHREY

He would have got there much

quicker. He had storms in

Rhodesia, stuck again at Tabora,

and hit sandstorms all the way to

Sudan. At least the Royal Mail

have agreed to pay in full, despite

their reservations.

Geddes taps his index finger on the front of the

newspapers.

GEDDES

Chamberlain would not have done

so if anyone could have predicted

how far this would go.

Eric Geddes looks concerned, but the younger man’s eyes

are alive with optimism.

HUMPHREY

It doesn’t matter, Eric!

His long moustache curls in unison with a complacent

smile.

HUMPHREY (cont.)

It’s too late now . . .

4

Humphrey exhibits a caddish enthusiasm. He leans forward

on his chair and holds both of his hands out to clasp at

Geddes’ forearms. His tone is excitable.

HUMPHREY (cont.)

We have what we asked for!

Geddes is more reserved. He does not allow himself to be

carried away like the younger man.

GEDDES

Cunard can keep Europe . . .

He places a handful of paperwork on the desk in front of

us. It’s not clear what they are, but the letterhead

reads, ‘Shorts of Sunderland’.

GEDDES (cont.)

We have Africa.

A soft wind blows across the office and kisses the

topmost sheets from the pile. They are rendered astray

so we are able to see a small amount of detail.

They appear to be purchase orders, with a large printed

stamp across them which reads, ‘Approved’.

At the top left is a small silhouette of some sort of

aircraft, and banal text at the bottom reads, ‘£1.75

million in parts of 28′.

EXT – SOUTHAMPTON DOCKS – MORNING

It is a calm morning along the frontages. It is brisk

but the early sun permeates what little cloud there is

above us. The docks are busy with people. Workers and passengers

spill to and from the road opposite, and across to the

pier front and its adjoining mooring.

A black Chevrolet van drifts into the goods yard just off

dockside. It rattles to a stop and wobbles visibly with

the prompt halt.

The DRIVER jumps out and dashes around to the rear of the

vehicle, followed by his beloved dog, a Labrador cross.

He enthusiastically calls to his dog and motions for him

5

to follow.

DRIVER

Come on boy! Hep….!

The dog jogs happily behind. The driver hastens to the

rear of the Chevy and swings the doors open. Inside are

various packing crates full of fruit and vegetables.

The driver grabs the foremost crate and manoeuvres it

onto his stronger arm. He heaves the box upwards and

grips it firmly. The Labrador jumps up to his waist to

explore whatever foodstuff the crate may contain. The

driver shifts his gait to avoid the jumping animal and

begins the short walk to the dock front.

All around, people are exuberant and smiling.

The van driver positions the crate in a line with other

items which are arranged to be packed for sea transport

along the front.

The driver looks up at the sun, which now beats down with

considerable strength, and places a hand across his

eyebrows to shield against the light.

Our gaze drifts to the ship directly in front. It is the

RMS Queen Elizabeth, a frightfully large ocean liner,

which sits in the General Berth area near the pier with

the quiet dignity of an elephant. All around, workers

busy themselves with the task of wilfully handling her

lading.

A young lady of some 24 years walks past one of the

loading planks. She is VERONICA BERRY, a pretty girl

with short, black hair, who appears more unique in that

she is one of few lone travellers.

She wears a pink cardigan over a blue dress, and carries

a mixed expression of hesitancy and awe. She has a small

case under her right arm and a shoulder bag on her left.

She glances with admiration at the ocean liner before

continuing her walk down the dock.

Continuing from Berth 21 to 22, we see a small naval

frigate swaying to the wind’s morning rhythm. Its gun

emplacements and radar give it a spiky presence, a really

hard and difficult silhouette. It is a typical military

olive.

6

As Ms. Berry walks past the berth and onto the next, we

are aware of a foreground sign which simply states a

series of destinations.

It reads, ‘Naivasha – Mombasa – Kisumu – Port Bell –

Juba’.

The young lady shifts her leather bag on her tired

shoulder.

Glittering morning sea spans the gap between the berths,

until we come to ‘Berth 25’.

Moored here is a different kind of boat.

It is a flying boat.

An apparition of intense, ghostly silver and powerful,

refracted sunlight. The Shorts aircraft bobs gently in

the current, its upturned nose which forms both bow and

nose seems to thumb a sign of disregard to the mere land

by which it is graced. It seems happy on the water, yet

would be happier still to receive release from its

dockside residence, so that it may escape its cool

embrace and make skywards. It is an impossibly pretty

shape, one where form meets necessity, but culminates in

a strange and inescapable beauty.

Her nose bears a simple ‘Imperial Airways London’ legend,

and the name ‘Corsair’.

Gulls are heard chattering above. A soft wind pulls

strands of Ms. Berry’s hair partially across her face.

She moves it back into place with a gloved hand, before

continuing her walk towards Corsair.

INT – GENERAL STORE BY DOCKS – MORNING

West’s Stores is a small outfit just across the road from

the pier front. A brass bell above the front door clatters with the

entrance of MERVYN DUKES.

He is a handsome man in his early thirties, whose proper

deportment projects an aura of subtle calm. The

gentleman is well attired and carries a small, brown leather

diary, and one small satchel.

7

He makes his way into the shop but stops by the middle

racking which contains a typical assortment of tinned

goods and postcards. A particular card has caught his

eye. He removes it from the rack and thumbs it

thoughtfully. The image depicts the flying boat moored

just across the way.

Underneath the colourful illustration, the subtext reads,

‘He left a Corsair’s name to other times.’

He takes the card to the counter where the SHOPKEEPER is

attending to the stocking of spirit bottles behind the

desk. He turns to face the man.

SHOPKEEPER

Good day to you. Lovely

morning, isn’t it?

Dukes smiles politely and places the single postcard on

the desk.

SHOPKEEPER (cont.)

Will there be anything else?

Mr. Dukes is well spoken and slow to respond.

DUKES

A smallest bottle of Elgin,

if you will.

SHOPKEEPER

Are you flying this morning?

DUKES

Yes.

The shop-keeper looks at the postcard.

SHOPKEEPER

Sir may be fit to realise, but

the flight to wherever it may

land is never a short one. You

could consider something that

befits the passenger of an

Empire Boat!

Dukes is caught off guard by the supposition.

8

DUKES

Very well. I shall take the

Macallan.

The store owner removes an ornate-looking whisky bottle

from the shelf behind.

SHOPKEEPER

This is a good choice. The

journey is always part of a

reason to venture, do you not

think? Land-plane whisky will

not do!

He looks up and smiles at Mr. Dukes, who places the money

on the counter.

SHOPKEEPER (cont.)

I trust that you will have a

good flight.

DUKES

I shall.

SHOPKEEPER

Corsair leaves from Berth 25.

Just follow the signs.

DUKES

Thank you.

The man takes the bottle and checks to make sure he has

both satchel and diary.

Dukes exits the shop and proceeds across the road, semimindful

of passing delivery vehicles which busy past the

dock.

He strides over the road towards Berth 25. Across from

us, we see that there are now more dock workers

surrounding the flying boat. Corsair’s departure is

imminent.

He hands a boarding card to the Dock Master waiting by

the mooring and proceeds across the gang plank onto the

flying boat.

The dock hand signals the pilot of the plane to indicate

that checks are complete.

9

INT – CORSAIR – MORNING

The inside of the flying boat is more luxury liner than

aircraft. Burr walnut adorns the underside of cabin

windows on this lower deck, with polished grab-rails, and

all around are comfortable seating arranged in two rows,

resplendent in a good quality green cloth more synonymous

of a West-end theatre than an airliner.

Mr. Dukes turns to assess the other passengers. The

cabin is lightly peopled and reserves a fair number of

free seats. Directly to the right, a slightly nervous

girl with a pink cardigan over a blue dress sits with

both hands in her lap. It is the girl seen previously.

Dukes turns around to view the dock front, which is now

bobbing softly away from our vantage.

The morning calm is shattered by a fierce induction

crackle, first to our right and then shortly after to our

left. It is the sound of carburettor melding air to

fuel, and exhausting its first thirsty intake and

discharging it at pace to a cool Southampton breeze. The

sound intensifies as engines either side of the primes

are lit up. The hull below rocks gently to the sensation

of torque overcoming inertia.

Mr. Dukes muses the sound and the ensuing motion of the

hull. The high pitch whine gives way to a deeper and

more mellow howl as the propellers gain pace and cut the

air with a progressive ease.

The boat is turning.

Ms. Berry shifts uncomfortably in her seat and looks out

of the starboard window across the bay. Soft waves are

fortifying the sensation of lateral drift and the boat

still moves in a circle to the right.

The Boat Master and pilot, JOHN ALCOCK, enters the

compartment from the cockpit. He is perhaps fifty, and

has white hair and a boyish charm. He moves into the

cabin, taking the time to nod to some passengers in the

front-most seats of the vessel.

Alcock speaks with a rural Yorkshire accent.

10

ALCOCK

Ladies and gents, how do we

do? We are good to make go, so

if you could be ready.

There is a nervous excitement throughout the cabin.

ALCOCK (cont.)

Could I please ask you Sir,

and you Sir . . .

The pilot gestures to Dukes and the man in front of him.

ALCOCK (cont.)

To move to the right hand side

of the boat, as balance is

essential until we are to speed.

Mr. Dukes and the other passenger lift themselves and

reposition to the adjacent row. Dukes has taken the seat

next to Ms. Berry. He smiles at the young lady, who

reciprocates. Both shuffle with the uncomfortable ease

that one experiences when meeting a new travel partner.

ALCOCK (cont.)

For I think we shall be away.

The Northern accent does not quite marry to the

impeccable presentation of the Boat Master uniform.

Alcock moves back down the gangway between the seat rows.

We see passengers have fastened their lap belts.

Dukes turns to look at Ms. Berry, but his view falls

beyond and over, as he looks out to sea. The light

reflecting off the water makes it difficult to achieve

perspective.

The engines escalate in volume and the fuselage below

groans as it contains the thrust. We are moving once

more.

A gull resting on the ocean top offers some means of

judging acceleration, as it moves slowly into view and

quickly out. Corsair is gathering pace as if being

pulled by some invisible rubber band attached to the

distance. Broken wash has by now been made inaudible by

the engine cry, and the speed is becoming dizzying.

11

Spray thrashes against both rows of view-ports, and

passengers settle to their chairs in anticipation of

impending lift.

We are away.

The craft lurches and rises like an overweight swan, one

moment as if scrabbling for purchase on the continually

shifting makeshift runway, the next, a bid for freedom as

the engine torque overcomes mass.

Corsair is flying.

EXT – SUDAN DESERT – DAY

The baking backwash of a hundred-and-something-degrees

heat reflects back from the pale sands of the North Sudan

desert and bakes our eyeballs. The landscape is largely

flat, save for the odd rise of dune, and a distant rock

formation which seems to stretch towards the sun with

outstretched arms, as if crying for merciful release.

God it’s hot.

We turn to see a low-lying rural area, with a large

monument at its centre. This is the town of Juba. It is

a dusty outcrop of simple proportions, and seems composed

of but two elemental colours; white for the buildings,

and an Azure blue sky.

At the South entrance to the town is a military

checkpoint. A Tiger Moth aircraft parked next to the

checkpoint signals that this is a British Army site.

A large transport vehicle lumbers up to the checkpoint

and stops to an accompanying plume of dust.

Away from the checkpoint, a man paces toward us with a

rifle. He is WILLIAM BERRY. A dark-haired man in his

thirties, he is modestly handsome with a dark moustache.

He walks past and towards a square building to one side

of the courtyard.

It is a simple structure, and outside a small banner

reads, ‘Colonial Medical Services.’ There is a large Red

Cross symbol on the opposite side.

12

INT – COLONIAL MEDICAL BUILDING – DAY

Mr. Berry enters the room, and the switch to such intense

internal dark makes it tricky for us to make out details

in the room.

The soldier places his rifle in one corner and busies

himself at a desk with some paperwork.

A tapping noise is heard. Another SOLDIER MEDIC has

knocked on the inside wall to alert William’s attention.

SOLDIER MEDIC (off)

William!

He turns to see who is calling.

The other soldier half-enters the doorway.

SOLDIER MEDIC (cont.)

William, you have a mail!

Mr. Berry greets the soldier and takes the envelope from

him. His voice is solemn and pragmatic.

MR. BERRY

Thank you.

He takes the envelope and returns to the desk. As he

removes the parchment-coloured letter within, we hear the

voice of Ms. Berry.

Her voice is soft and full of care.

MS. BERRY (v.o.)

To my dear William, thank you

so much for sending me the money

to make a deposit on the flight.

There was no way I could have

afforded to do so myself. Father

was right. It was definitely

worth the small sum extra to not

have to go by surface boat.

William continues to read whilst pouring himself a glass

of water at the desk.

13

MS. BERRY (v.o.)

I am so excited, for all I can

think about is to see you again.

It seems such a long time since

the summer, and it is harder still

for me to believe that you have

been in Sudan for three years. I

am glad to know that you have

avoided the troubles so far, and I

listen to the wireless every day

for new stories on the terrible

White Flag League. There is news

of Italy also, and I am so terribly

worried that the fighting will spill

yet further, until it eventually

covers the whole world.

William sips from the water.

MS. BERRY (v.o.)

If there should be a world war, I

do not know what I should do.

I miss you so often that it has

become commonplace for me. My

only respite comes from the gentle

touches of excitement that flash

through me from time to time.

Ms. Berry’s voice switches from a dignified tone to one

of intense pride.

MS. BERRY (v.o.)

I shall be a passenger on an

Empire Boat!

William allows himself a half-smile, and moves away from

our view.

EXT – CORSAIR – DAY

We are at 15,000 feet, and from here it is possible to

understand what a ludicrous proposition the flying boat

makes to the air. The underbelly clearly resembles the

hull of a ship, and the height of its flanks suggest that

its arc skywards should be nothing except mere fiction.

Her broad wings hold on to thermal remnants, yet it hangs

in the air with impossible grace, as if telling a gentle

lie to the winds.

14

Below, Mediterranean sea meets land. We are somewhere

over the South of France.

INT – CORSAIR – DAY

Inside the flying boat, Dukes and Ms. Berry are

conversing. As they do so, he makes regular notes in his

small journal. They appear quite comfortable with the

company of each other.

MS. BERRY

What is the most wonderful place

you have ever been?

Dukes eases in his seat before answering.

DUKES

Venice. The canals of Venice

are a sight. Have you been?

The young girl shakes her head and listens on.

DUKES (cont.)

The entire city is built on

water, and is supported by

wooden stanchions.

MS. BERRY

And wood does not rot at sea?

DUKES

It gathers minerals from the

passing water and becomes hard

as stone.

MS. BERRY

It sounds like a fascinating

place.

DUKES

It is a fascinating place to read.

Napoleon referred to Saint Mark’s

Square as the Drawing Room of

Europe.

MS. BERRY

Would you not find that you

(cont.)

15

MS. BERRY (cont.)

should be stepping over visitors

and artists who have travelled,

like yourself, to sit in the

Drawing Room?

DUKES

Yes. And it is why I am

predisposed to love Africa.

Very little by way of

interruption, notwithstanding

cannibals and peacocks!

He pauses to scrawl further thoughts into his book.

DUKES (cont.)

You seem very young to be

travelling on your own-

MS. BERRY

How old, do you think?

DUKES

I am leaning towards making no

attempt, but if pressured, I

should say twenty one, maybe

twenty two?

She smiles inscrutably.

DUKES (cont.)

Twenty-five?

The girl laughs playfully. Veronica looks down at her

lap for a moment before returning her gaze to him.

MS. BERRY

My husband is posted in the

Sudan.

DUKES

Then he will be delighted to see

you.

Mr. Dukes’ expression is one of soft severity.

DUKES (cont.)

Meanwhile, should you be cool, you

(cont.)

16

DUKES (cont.)

may have my jacket.

An embarrassed smile.

MS. BERRY

Mr. Dukes, you are not part of

the cabin crew!

He retracts the smile. Perhaps that was too much?

DUKES

Indeed, though concern remains as

to whether these journeys shall

still be offered in five years time.

We shall be at war soon, and who

then shall buy the bush-meat and

tribal treasure that is necessary

for these prehistorics to develop?

How then shall they abandon herding

and hoarding for the pursuit of

increasing boundaries and extent

of one’s territory, the design of

weapons, and of war with one’s

neighbour? It is only the

confused who mourn the passing

of time, and elders beset with

these potions and tonics of reds

and blues, for whom progression has

no sense.

He pauses to glance from the view-port.

DUKES (cont.)

We are over Marseilles.

The girl listens on in momentary silence, and then

replies with excited laughter.

MS. BERRY

A word-smith! Then what is your

will?

DUKES

That we should land again before

Tunisia.

She smiles quizzically. He elaborates . . .

17

DUKES (cont.)

My legs are aching, and I could

do with a walk!

She laughs and bites the nail of her index finger, and

looks out of the window.

EXT – CORSAIR – DAY

Corsair banks vividly right and begins the descent to the

town below. Up here, above the protective, partial

patchwork of soft Mediterranean cloud, the sun beats hard

upon the flying boat’s vast wings, and she lurches gently

deeper for cooler air.

EXT – JUBA MARKET, SUDAN – DAY

A few rag-tag stands and stalls mark either end of the

trading area, set into the town courtyard below a simple

stone monument. A cattle herder manoeuvres his

collection of slender buck stock, elegant beast that look

like bulls but are pure white and have very sharp horns.

They are shackled, and are hustled into the town square

two-abreast.

A man watches. He is ABASI ADOFO, a young man of Arabic

descent. He enters the marketplace, taking care to avoid

the train of cattle. He is wrapped tightly to guard

against flying dust.

He turns to either side to avoid passing traders and

customers, a mixture of coal-dark Sudanese, Egyptians and

a few British soldiers.

He notices a stall selling fruit, and makes his way to it

from the near side.

Pausing, he removes a small photograph from beneath his

Kashmiri-like shawl. It is a picture of his wife, who

holds a small child decked in warm woollen blankets. Her

expression is an odd half smile, one of determination and

struggle. Adofo thumbs the image gently, and places it

back beneath his dress.

He makes his way to the side of the stall and perches on

its outset.

18

The trader is preoccupied with attending to customers on

the far side. He has not noticed our friend loitering.

Seeing his chance, Adofo lurches for the nearest table

and grabs a handful of datepalm and a small bunch of

bananas.

The STALL OWNER notices his flurry and calls at the top

of his voice.

STALL OWNER

Hassas! Thief! Hassasheen!

Adofo makes the most of his limited margin and breaks

into accelerative sprint, struggling to keep his footing

whilst he turns. The owner is calling behind him as he

races with vigour away from the marketplace.

He rounds a corner plot and heads down the adjacent

alley.

A dead end! The man pauses for momentary thought. He is

panting vividly with panic.

Several voices are calling after him, and they are

getting nearer. Still clinging desperately to his fruit,

he looks up, frantically searching for a means of escape

from the alleyway. The buildings on either side are too

tall to climb. He rabbits, but is frozen with the cold

shock of serotonin.

Trapped. No way out.

The stall owner rounds the corner into view. He is

accompanied by two British soldiers and several of

onlookers.

STALL OWNER

Shena Hassas!

The two soldiers march forward with purpose. One is

William Berry.

ADOFO

La! Azhab, please!!

Both soldiers ignore his plea and continue forward. The

young man is trapped, and his wilting cry tells the

British that he knows it too.

19

The solider with Mr. Berry is DARIUS DAKARAI. He is a

dark Egyptian, wearing the Standard British uniform.

DAKARAI

Stop!

The thief’s protest has escalated almost to tears, but

his breathing has calmed slightly. He knows it is too

late for any escape.

William eyes him up and down, a look of scorn across his

visage. He frowns, before gesturing to the other soldier

to back off.

Dakari backs up a couple of feet as instructed

Adofo’s eyes are alive with fear. The sun above is

offering no support, and its rays batter his

consciousness and feed his fear.

William moves forward.

Without warning, he raises his right elbow and turns

sharply, striking the Sudani with the hard butt of his

Enfield rifle. The blow glances his temple, and knocks

him down with a dull strike.

He falls into a crumpled heap, and the fruit he was

holding spills onto the dirty floor.

Berry leans over him, finally offering him some

accidental shade from the harsh sun, but he is not

moving.

INT – CORSAIR – DAY

Inside the flying boat, we are on the second level, which

is an observation deck. The lavish furnishings continue

to this upper deck.

Ms. Berry and Mervyn Dukes ponder the distance to the

clouds below from the port-side window.

MS. BERRY

What do you know of the British

operation in Sudan?

20

DUKES

Merely that we were reluctant to

give Cairo back to the Egyptians,

and we are unhappy to bequeath

Juba in the same manner.

Veronica seems insistent to know more.

MS. BERRY

Does the territory offer enough

in return for us to justify our

continued presence upon it?

DUKES

I know only what I have read, and

that its fruit bears a sweeter

taste to politicians than it could

offer in any true nutrition. I

believe that it does not.

The young girl seems perplexed. As she looks out of the

port window, her answer is distant.

MS. BERRY

Yet we continue to fight.

Mervyn stares at her as she looks out the window and on

to the cloud formation beyond.

DUKES

Your husband is a soldier?

MS. BERRY

He is a medic.

She shifts her purse and straightens her frame.

MS. BERRY (cont.)

With the Colonial Medical

Services.

He senses her unease.

DUKES

And he is still expected to

fight.

It is not a question. Her response is quick and firm.

21

MS. BERRY

It is a peace-keeping mission.

Dukes muses, and turns to a new blank page in his

journal.

DUKES

I am fascinated to understand

how we may invade a foreign

country and profess then to keep

it safe from invasion.

MS. BERRY

We keep it safe from civil unrest.

DUKES

Then he is a policeman?

She turns to look at him.

MS. BERRY

Of a fashion. There is unrest

throughout the Empire, Mr. Dukes.

DUKES

There is unrest beyond the Empire.

I think that soon we shall be at

war, and struggle to economise to

contain these peasants and

cattle-drivers, who seek merely to

regain their dust-ridden towns.

MS. BERRY

You disapprove of our grasp on our

Empire?

DUKES

I disapprove of our commitment

to slowly let it fall from our

grasp, if there should be a

purpose to keeping it. I think

that in another half a century,

we may be flying our soldiers

halfway around the world to

protect worthless isles from

worthless countries, who serve

pointlessly to expand their own

borders.

22

He pauses to scribble a further note in the journal.

DUKES (cont.)

If the decision should fall to

me, I should say that our enemies

may have these colonies, if they

are of no consequence. Allow them

to have back their scarred patches,

only to foster dirt and room to

graze their elephants and hens.

MS. BERRY

Is Sudan of no consequence?

DUKES

It is of consequence to me. It

forms part of a route which

allows me to get to Uganda.

Her reply is playful.

MS. BERRY

To see elephants? And their

great plains?

He smiles.

DUKES

To see what lies beyond these

great elephants. I can only

reach them by planes!

She smiles at the pun and returns her gaze to the window.

DUKES (cont.)

Soon we shall land at Alexandria.

I have been there before.

MS. BERRY

Then you may show me where to

graze!

INT – BRITISH BASE IN SUDAN, DETENTION AREA – DAY

Adofo comes to slowly.

He is lying on a simple stone bench in a holding area.

Rudimentary cell bars block any exit, and the room is

23

dark.

Abasi slowly rises from the bench and carries himself

delicately to the cell door. He grabs the metal rails

with both hands and uses it to support his weight as he

looks out at the other cells. His actions are heavy and

painful.

He tests the strength of the bars gently and sits back

down.

The building door opens. William Berry enters.

He walks in slowly, his expression difficult to read in

the low light. He paces towards the lone occupied cell

and waits for the captive to rise once more from the

bench.

Adofo gets to his feet again. His head is low, like some

mischievous dog awaiting a punishment for a wrong.

William takes his time before speaking to him

MR. BERRY

Will that it were, to look upon

the eyes of my enemy, and see but

a ghost of fight.

The captive releases a painful breath before answering.

ADOFO

I am not a soldier, Sir.

MR. BERRY

But you are a thief, and know of

those that are.

ADOFO

I am not White Flag.

MR. BERRY

But you know of Mukantagara?

Adofo looks at the ground, then nods reluctantly.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

You know of where he is?

Adofo shakes his head. No.

24

William grabs him violently and pulls him by the scruff

of the neck to the cell bars. Adofo’s head is jammed

tightly between two of the rails, and he is struggling

for breath.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

I do not care of who you are!

I care not for stolen datepalm

and I do not wish to keep you

here long.

The young Sudani breathes quickly and cannot move. His

eyes are wide and fearful.

ADOFO

Please . . . !

William tightens his grip on the other’s neck. He yowls

at the contortion.

MR. BERRY

You, good Sir, shall tell me!

ADOFO

Good Sir, I know not!

William yanks him hard forward and pulls his head at the

bars. Adofo falls to the floor as his head hits the cell

bar with venomous force.

He slumps in a heap on the floor. Looking closely, we

see a tear form in his eye, as his bunch of bananas lands

heavily into his ribcage, and rests sharply with a thud.

EXT – ALEXANDRIA – DAY

An epic skyline of bridges and citadels, this Egyptian

city spans from the nearby mosque to distant houses, cast

as orange shadows to the desert fold.

Below our vantage is a paved street which runs past shops

and street stalls from one end, and on to a beautiful

temple of Al-Nasir at the far.

Mr. Dukes and Ms. Berry are walking along this street

towards our vision. She has several bags of groceries.

25

DUKES

Do you require help with your

bags?

MS. BERRY

No, though I have enough

yellow cake rice to make it

difficult for our bird to fly!

I like it here.

Dukes smiles.

DUKES

I have been here several times

before. I enjoy Egypt, but not

as much as Persia. Very good

lamb!

She laughs.

MS. BERRY

I suppose we should make some

haste for the hotel.

DUKES

Yes, we should get back to the

harbour. The hotel is not far

from where we landed.

MS. BERRY

Shall you be writing in your

journal this evening?

She gestures to the brown leather book by his side.

DUKES

Yes. I never allow this very

far from me. I use it to

document my every step.

MS. BERRY

Are you a writer?

DUKES

No.

She has obviously been waiting some time for him to

explain what he does.

26

DUKES (cont.)

I work for an airline. They

operate from the Eastern

seaboard of America, and they

wish to know if an African route

would be worthwhile.

She listens carefully.

MS. BERRY

Do you think it worthwhile?

DUKES

I do not know. The decision will

be made by accountants and men

whose souls are constituted

largely by double-digits and

level-headed conservatism. My

opinion is one of subjectivity,

for I love Africa.

MS. BERRY

Well Mr. Dukes, we should get

your journal to its hotel suite.

They turn and leave along the main street.

EXT – PICCADILLY, LONDON – MORNING

Central London is awash with its usual commotion, as city

dwellers and visitors race to wherever they may be going.

Buses do battle with horse-drawn carriages for road

space. The weather is dry but clouds loom large.

We follow a Jaguar 3.5-litre saloon in a regal silver.

It pulls up outside an imposing hotel called The Bolton.

A hotel doorman greets the car.

Two men get out of the back. They are Eric Geddes and

George Woods Humphrey. They hurry up the steps to the

hotel as the Jaguar departs.

INT – THE BOLTON HOTEL – MORNING

Inside the hotel and just off the entrance foyer is an

enclave to one side. It features a U-shaped red leather

seat, and is arranged in a large booth to form a

27

conference area away from the main foyer.

Sitting on the bench is JOHN RUPERT, a 44-year-old man

with a round, red face and round belly, upon which he

rocks back and forward as he speaks.

The other man is MIKAEL LARSSON, who is of similar age

but much taller. He is Scandinavian and has blonde hair,

which is quickly diminishing with age.

LARSSON

I’m just telling you, John, that

this cannot carry on-

Rupert is loud.

RUPERT

I know. Look, I’m dealing with it-

LARSSON

Our investors will not continue

to keep backing the airline. Not

when they see it as throwing money

into a bottomless wishing well.

RUPERT

Let me talk to them.

Larsson eases slightly, though he is clearly incensed.

RUPERT (cont.)

Just . . . , let me talk to them.

It’s fine, honestly. Ah, here

they are.

They both turn to see Geddes and Humphrey arrive.

RUPERT

Gentlemen.

Geddes has an arrogant swagger, Humphrey a more nervous

animation.

GEDDES

Mikael, hello.

HUMPHREY

John.

28

They take a seat at the booth.

A pale-skinned WAITER approaches the table.

HUMPHREY

We’re not ready yet-

He goes to turn.

GEDDES

Brandy.

Eric’s interruption prevents him from leaving.

WAITER

Very good, Sir.

The waiter exits.

RUPERT

Now, Eric, we have just been

discussing the situation which

would appear to keep crawling

back upon our doorstep.

Geddes sips his drink and does not look at the man

addressing him.

GEDDES

It is of little concern.

RUPERT

For God sake man, our pilots are

on strike!

Humphrey notices Eric’s apathy and interrupts.

HUMPHREY

With due respect, ’twill be

resolved by next weekend, and we

have not lost the flights as we

had feared-

GEDDES

As some of us had feared, George.

The Masters are incredibly well

paid. They should just get on

with things!

29

LARSSON

You cannot go on simply plaining

wood from the veneer of cost. You

invariably find that very soon

there is no material left to cut.

HUMPHREY

But we are making money, are we not?

RUPERT

Well I may as well say what we are

all thinking.

All sit back.

RUPERT (cont.)

In six months we will be at war,

and this will put paid to our

most simple and profitable routes.

Europe is there for the taking, yet

we are being forced to spend a week

skirting around the damn place.

Geddes takes another slug of Corvoisseur.

GEDDES

We have Africa.

LARSSON

It is not paying enough-

GEDDES

Then we charge more for the mail-

LARSSON

Which will terminate our subsidy.

Geddes leans back and breathes a heavy sigh. Why will

these idiots have no faith in him?

Rupert approaches the next point with some caution.

RUPERT

Of course, the other issue is

lost aircraft. I don’t much care

for losing planes, but two flying

boats has been difficult for the

board to stomach.

30

GEDDES

We have lost no aircraft, John.

LARSSON

We have lost two, to lakes in

Kenya!

GEDDES

But the boats we recovered-

RUPERT

And this all costs money.

Humphrey moves forward in an attempt to diffuse the

stand-off.

HUMPHREY

We can assure both you gentlemen

that there will be no further part

to play by way of accidental loss.

RUPERT

Our insurers are becoming tough to

appease. I should say that if

another Empire Boat is befallen

upon tragedy, then it shall remain

where it is fell.

HUMPHREY

Sir, I can tell you that we are

constant in our attention to

overcome these missions and trials.

LARSSON

Good. Because the next one may

change your future, and my favour.

EXT – SUDAN MOUNTAINS – EVENING

Across the baked dirt and odd tundra lies two small

mountains. The nearest is flat on top, and a smoke trail

emanates from the far side, indicating that it is

inhabited.

Below our vantage point, a British Army Jeep bearing the

Red Cross symbol races through the vast expanse. It is

followed closely by a second identical vehicle.

31

They are heading for the mountains.

The lead Jeep enters the range and turns left to follow a

twisting path up the larger mountain. Both cars pound up

the slope and round a corner to enter a small village at

the summit.

One house is forged from the remnants of a cave, while

three other simple stone structures complete the

settlement.

The Jeeps pull up. In the lead car are William Berry and

Darius Dakarai. They disembark, as do two more British

soldiers in the car behind.

The villagers peer out nervously from doorways as the

soldiers survey the scene. All are armed.

William stands in the centre of the settlement and casts

his voice to address all.

MR. BERRY

We offer you security and food!

We offer you fuel and water! Yet

you give us nothing in return.

All around look terrified. Berry’s voice is frightening.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

You have been asked for the

location of the militant

Mukantagara.

No one speaks.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

Merely five towns spread over a

thousand square miles, yet no

one sees him or knows of him?

He paces around the houses as their occupants peer out

fearfully.

He addresses one woman in particular.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

A ghost? An apparition!

He moves on to the next.

32

MR. BERRY (cont.)

A Merak? Merely a desert wind!

The villagers cling to young children and wives grip

husbands in tightly-coiled fear.

He turns to Dakarai, and lowers his voice.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

Behold, they land like greenfly,

and are crushed against our skin.

A small boy shouts in Arabic and runs at William in

attack.

Calmly, Berry grabs the boy by an arm as he runs, and

holds him aloft. He screams and kicks.

The boy’s father wants to protest, but has to restrain

himself as rifles are pointed at him.

William pulls the boy’s sandals from his feet with his

free hand and dangles him above the hood of the Jeep. It

takes the child just a second to realise how searing hot

the metal has become from the sun’s onslaught.

He screams and cries, and dances a sickening dance,

trying desperately not to place bare toes onto the

scalding-hot sheet metal.

William adjusts his grasp so he is lower now, and the boy

can’t help but snag delicate toes on the baking car hood.

His father can take no more. He dashes from the stone

house to reclaim his little boy. As he does so, William

throws the Sudani child at his father by his arm, almost

wrenching it from the socket.

He clatters into his parent like a rag doll, taking them

both to the ground.

We are left with them both holding each other. The

embrace seems to take an age.

They cling on desperately

as the departure of the British Red Cross vehicles raises

a dust storm around the settlement.

The British are gone. The small boy still clings on to

his father.

33

INT – ALEXANDRIA, HOTEL ROOM – MORNING

Unreal blue morning light blows through slats in the

blind. Dukes is asleep. His watch is on the bedside

table. It reads half-past five.

He stirs and wakes.

Mervyn rolls onto his back and takes a deep breath. His

skin already looks darker after an afternoon under

Egypt’s heavy sun.

He feels for his journal at the bedside. Spotting it, he

takes up his pen and begins to write in the half-light.

DUKES (v.o.)

How strange it is to be averted

from ones purpose, and how simple

a deflection is required to

pervert the course of key reason.

I am not yet in Deep Africa.

He adjusts his eyesight in the poor light.

DUKES (v.o.)

I am not yet even thinking about

it. How sudden the transparency

of one’s reason wanders thus, and

how simply a simple creature can

take an unknown turn.

He places the pen to one side and turns over on his side.

Lying next to him is Veronica Berry.

He watches her as her eyelids glitter with soft and

slight sleep. He rests his arm over her exposed shoulder

and places his head next to hers, and kisses her

forehead.

She stirs, but does not wake.

EXT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK, BELGIAN CONGO – DAY

Congo is a wild and untamed frontier. It is a land of

swamps, and mud, and trees and stone. Scenery looms

large, and the lack of any conveniences to mankind makes

for a foreboding, green and angry place.

34

Through the dense bush, a narrow column has been cleared

to form a rudimentary path into the forest. The trees

have literally been smashed down and removed, leaving

barely an eight-foot-wide column. It stops here and

becomes a dead end.

The sun beats down hard and only penetrates the clearing,

making for a spectacular, focused pot of golden light.

It is broken momentarily.

We turn right to see a nine-foot-high frame bearing down

upon us. It is an African elephant, barely a juvenile,

but huge in stature. Its ears increase the sensation of

vastness, and they fan forwards and back to keep the

animal cool as it walks.

Its shadow blocks our sight for a moment as it passes.

As it does so, it is clear that the animal is being

ridden.

Atop the beast, a young boy sits a great distance from

the floor. He is only 13 years old, and wears simple

shorts and a shirt. He is HENRY STAM.

There are no reins, tack or decoration on the elephant.

It moves quietly through the undergrowth. Grass is

trampled beneath them as they approach the end of the

makeshift road.

Suddenly the animal rears onto its hind and raises its

front legs into the tree canopy. The young boy leans

forward to maintain his balance, and grips hard with his

ankles and knees. It paws comically at a nearby tree,

eventually gaining purchase on the tough mangrove bark.

Pushing forward, it heaves at the fauna and finally

succeeds in toppling it, to the accompanying sound of

splintering wood.

The ancient tree falls with a delicate swing, and nearby

branches cushion its fall to the soft forest floor.

It is a slow image, and one of calm.

Henry pats the elephant to indicate encouragement.

The quiet drops away to the noise of a rattly engine

approaching behind us. We turn to see a black Volvo

truck in honest condition making its way up the path.

35

It belches black smoke, and down both sides are painted

short passages from the Bible.

One reads, `Matthew 7:7-9,11 And to him who knocks, the

door will be opened.’

The engine keeps running as the driver emerges. He is

HARRY STAM, the father of the boy. He calls to his son

who has not turned to look at the vehicle.

MR. STAM

Henry! Henry . . .!

The boy turns.

HENRY

Father!

He spins round and dismounts the animal in one sweep,

spanning the gap to the forest floor without flinching.

He runs up to his elder.

HENRY (cont.)

Father, I have only just begun!

MR. STAM

Ha! That is fine Henry. Your

Mother wishes for your ear.

He turns to look at the elephant

HENRY

But, Father! Jafaar!

MR. STAM

He will be fine within the

confines of the reserve. Come!

The boy jogs behind his father to the truck. Both enter.

There are no safety belts, and they move off immediately.

Harry turns the truck around with the merest of clearance

to the trees either side, and they progress back down the

path.

The vehicle travels along the trail. Inside, both are

quiet for a spell, as the engine clatter makes

conversation difficult.

36

The boy looks out and over a valley. Its sides fall away

quickly, and densely packed mangrove form a shaky cover

down to a steep ravine at the base. It is a lavish,

emerald blanket spanning beyond the reach of our sight.

MR. STAM

How are your studies coming

along, Henry?

HENRY

Good, father. For sure they are

better than Howard’s!

He playfully strokes his son’s head.

MR. STAM

I sometimes worry about his

motivation.

His father has to shout above camshafts clashing.

HENRY

We will be okay. I will still

read.

MR. STAM

I know you love to be outside.

You are like your mother in that

respect. She has always much

preferred stirring pools with

straw stalks than soups with

spoons!

Henry smiles.

HENRY

Do you think there will be any

visitors this month?

MR. STAM

I should say not. It has been

difficult because of the rains.

The youngster looks disappointed.

MR. STAM (cont.)

But you cannot forecast what

errant whimsy can be blown about

the lakes when the tides are up.

37

INT – ALEXANDRIA, HOTEL ROOM – MORNING

Veronica stares from the window at the port opposite.

She balances her head on both hands, and her visage is

one of solemnity and dismay. Time stands still. It is

cold out.

How could this have happened?

People pass the window, but she looks through them and

beyond.

A hand on her shoulder. She takes Mervyn’s hand and

strokes it, but does not look at him.

DUKES (off)

Did you enjoy the dinner last

evening?

She does not answer. She stares out of the window and

doesn’t move.

DUKES (cont.)

I liked the butter chicken.

Still she does not answer.

DUKES (cont.)

I thought the salad was on its

death-bed, though.

Her reply is distant.

MS. BERRY

Poor William . . .

DUKES

He shall never have to know of

this.

MS. BERRY

I will know. I shall know of it.

DUKES

Ghosts are quick to pass.

Especially in the desert.

Again she does not speak.

38

DUKES (cont.)

I am sorry, Veronica.

MS. BERRY

By your part. The blame is my

own.

DUKES

Perhaps we should busy ourselves

with leaving. It is nearly eight.

Finally she looks at him. He squeezes onto the seat

beside her and hugs her. She half-smiles as she looks at

him. There is a subtle, sad connection, possibly a bond

which goes some way beyond this brief liaison.

MS. BERRY

Yes. We should go.

EXT – ALEXANDRIA – MORNING

Corsair sings where Nile water meets sandstone dock.

Tethered to a pillar in the harbour, it makes for a

pleasant sight in the morning sun. It’s warmer now, and

the flying boat is ready to leave.

Dukes and Ms. Berry make their way to the gang plank.

DUKES

Do you need some help?

MS. BERRY

No I am fine.

She stumbles clumsily along the plank. He goes to catch

her hand, but she moves it away.

Both enter the flying boat.

Traders busy along the dock side to other stalls, and

passing beast can be seen around the dock. Corsair is

already pointed to the arrow-straight river and on to the

mouth at the far.

Her engines crescendo to increasing choke and throttle,

and soon she shall be gone.

39

Corsair gains pace away from the harbour, and by the time

estuary meets river, she is at take-off speed. The nose

gradually rises and the waters eventually relinquish her

company to the sky.

Soon the city is merely a bright, perfectly formed

child’s marble below us.

INT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK, BELGIAN MISSION – DAY

Harry Stam writes by daylight.

The mission house where they live is a strange building.

It is part clay hut, part metal shack, and even in part a

chapel.

Inside is a random collection of differing clutter. An

acoustic guitar rests against one wall, and opposite is a

desk with a glass top, in which are preserved a

collection of embalmed mosquito and hornet bodies. All

around is Catholic symbolism.

Stam’s writings are interrupted by the sound of his other

son, HOWARD STAM, entering the house.

His shouts are distressed.

HOWARD

Father! Help, father!

We turn to see the 16-year-old stagger into the room. He

is half-carrying a black African man who cannot move

under his own power. He is EZE BAH, a local. His left

leg appears to have been ruptured and he is losing quite

a lot of blood. The man stays quiet and does not scream,

but he is finding it difficult to breath.

Harry immediately vacates his chair and helps his son

move the man to his seat. He winces with the pain.

His wife, HELEN STAM, enters from the kitchen.

MRS. STAM

Oh My!

She drops a towel and hurries over. Mr. Stam has already

removed part of the man’s trouser leg with some scissors.

40

MR. STAM

Howard! I need iodine and

gauze.

HOWARD

Yes father.

The wild-haired boy dashes into the kitchen.

MRS. STAM

What has happened to him?

Mr. Stam is holding the man’s outstretched hand with his,

by way of comfort.

The man is visibly shaking.

MR. STAM

He has very nearly become full

prey.

EZE

Pardus! Pardus! Ha! Pardus?

MRS. STAM

A leopard?

MR. STAM

I think so . . .

Howard enters.

HOWARD

Father! Here!

He hands Harry the items he asked for. The African moans

as he applies the gauze. Eze grabs violently at the

tablecloth next to him and rips it from the tabletop.

MR. STAM

The wound is not very deep. His

biggest wrong shall be from

disease.

Howard looks on, ready to react the moment his father

should ask for something further.

41

MR. STAM (cont.)

There is not much we can do here.

Help me, Howard!

His son manoeuvres Eze into a more upright position.

MR. STAM (cont.)

We must take him to Faradje.

MRS. STAM

Yes, they can take better care of

him there. Howard, help your

Father.

They carefully lift him to his good leg and precariously

make their way back out of the door. Mr. Stam supports

the man by the entrance as Howard runs on and starts the

truck. It rumbles into life with a reluctant shiver.

Harry has to manhandle the African to get him into the

vehicle. At last they are in.

The youngster drives off whilst his father supports the

man in his seat.

As the truck leaves, we see on the back a colourful image

of a leopard’s head depicted in bright paints, and text

around it advertises, `Garamba National Park est. 1927′.

INT – CORSAIR – DAY

Dukes stands with his back to us at the smoking deck,

looking out. He has a lit cigarette but is paying it no

mind.

To his left, the Boat Master, John Alcock, approaches

him. Dukes only turns to address him when he realises

who it is.

ALCOCK

A good day, Sir.

Mr. Dukes is clearly preoccupied.

DUKES

It is a good day to take flight,

Sir.

42

Corsair’s Master senses the other’s unease.

ALCOCK

Are you suffering discomfort

from flying for so long?

DUKES

I suffer disillusion.

ALCOCK

From our flight?

DUKES

From our travels.

Alcock smiles. From below, he produces a bottle of South

African whisky. Dukes even smiles too.

DUKES (cont.)

Ah!

The pilot removes two glasses from a small rack next to

the smoking deck door. He adds the liqueur to both

glasses and offers one to Dukes

ALCOCK

Adieu!

DUKES

To disillusion!

Both raise their glasses.

ALCOCK

Your lady friend will not join

you at the deck?

DUKES

A friend, she remains in her

seat.

ALCOCK

Flying opens the doors to so

many destinations.

DUKES

These majestic fields are soon

departed, and their paths are

scattered to fierce winds.

43

ALCOCK

This is true.

He drinks.

ALCOCK (cont.)

This is very true. We shall

soon be in Uganda.

DUKES

It is wild, that place.

The pilot drains his glass and pats Mervyn on the

shoulder. He returns to the cockpit.

EXT – ABOVE SUDAN MOUNTAINS – DAY

A dainty Fairey Swordfish plane hangs gently in the soft

gusts above the Jabal Ledo mountains. The British

aircraft clings to the air, before banking quickly to the

right.

Its pilot has spotted something.

The engine soars in pitch as the bi-plane dives. The

mountains below us now spin like a dizzying logic puzzle.

The plane is low, and at this altitude, a small number of

domed structures can be seen around the base of a small

foothill. It looks like a settlement, nestled cleverly

amongst natural camouflage.

The Swordfish pilot eases throttle and levels out, before

making an easy circle around the hills. The co-pilot in

the rear stares below through binoculars. After a closer

inspection, he gestures wildly and becomes very animated.

He frantically waves to the pilot, who puts the aircraft

into a sharp fade right. They continue to turn as they

climb for higher cloud.

INT – BRITISH BASE IN SUDAN, COMMAND – DAY

William Berry enters his commanding officer’s main

office. His expression is serious and his pace quick.

44

MR. BERRY

Sir!

His COMMANDING OFFICER is calm, and politely acknowledges

him enter.

COMMANDING OFFICER

Yes, William.

He is a portly gentleman in his fifties. His voice is

warm.

COMMANDING OFFICER (cont.)

I trust all is well.

William ignores his decent mood.

MR. BERRY

Sir, we have had word from a

scout. He reports that we have

spotted a new settlement, over

towards Jabal Ledo to the North,

and it is likely to be a rebel

position.

The officer barely takes his concentration from off of

his paperwork.

COMMANDING OFFICER

This is good news indeed. I

shall signal Cairo and ask Tank

Command to properly survey it.

MR. BERRY

Sir, time is of the essence! It

is a safe bet that the aircraft

was spotted.

COMMANDING OFFICER

It is beyond our remit to attack a

stronghold, however small.

Berry looks disappointed. A look of intensity washes

over him.

MR. BERRY

It is out duty to investigate45

COMMANDING OFFICER

We have fulfilled our duty. Our

purpose in Sudan is one of

peace-keeping and reconnaissance.

MR. BERRY

But we can attack it from the air-

COMMANDING OFFICER

I will not risk the sacrifice of

the meagre fleet we have. I have

but two planes left, and they are

torpedo aircraft. Tell me, what

good are torpedoes in the desert?

Besides which our men are

concentrated in Juba, and it is

critical our good work is not

undone on a whim.

Berry is becoming increasingly angry.

MR. BERRY

With respect, Sir, Juba can take

care of itself-

COMMANDING OFFICER

I will not be drawn into several

days of operation in the North.

Our goal is to protect the town.

Berry is vicious.

MR. BERRY

These devils steal our riches and

transform our currency into weapons

to use against us! Our teas and

trophies are becoming cannons of

flak, and our new world skies are

filling with their discharge.

William finds he has slammed both arms down on his

superior’s desk.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

I beseech you not to sit idly by

whilst our Empire falls to

procrastinators and pirates!

46

COMMANDING OFFICER

That is enough, Mr. Berry.

His voice is firm. The others’ eyes are alive with

venom, his reply reluctant . . .

MR. BERRY

I shall follow my orders . . .

He goes to leave but turns back round.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

But I deplore your reason to

place the jackal in a

stranglehold and not to sever its

throat. Your good grace shall be

our ill turn!

Berry exits.

The officer marks a location on the large map in front of

him and turns to the Morse code machine.

EXT – PORT BELL, UGANDA – DAY

From the great salt lake of Victoria, the waters glitter

with magical refraction, and Corsair nestles elegantly

above the soft waves. She seems grateful of this moments

rest. Behind our flying boat is another Shorts aircraft.

It is identical to Corsair and rests in the harbour also.

The sight of these two leviathans together makes for a

spirited vision.

Where the waters edge meets land, simple wooden planks

form a basic mooring. The rest of the site is unpaved,

with a grassy expanse adorned only with a small hotel

made of wood, and several straw-roofed buildings which

form a basic terminal.

A rough airstrip is marked on the grass, and the way a

light aircraft lumbers into view and bounces with hard

ricochet off the unkempt surface, landing here is

something of a misery.

Farmers manoeuvre cattle towards boats moored on the wet

dock. It is quite a chaotic scene, and no one seems to

be in absolute control.

47

The flying boats sit calmly, like obedient sheepdog.

To the back of the airfield, the terrain becomes very

hilly. From our viewpoint up here, Ms. Berry and Mervyn

Dukes survey the busy scene of the docks below.

An African fellow struggles with a trailer of hay, as it

tumbles from its precarious position and lays about his

feet. He shouts at the driver, but his words are

rendered indistinct by distance.

MS. BERRY

D’you know I have only met with

him three times.

She considers her own statement as she looks out upon

Lake Victoria.

DUKES

That is not much time.

MS. BERRY

I sometimes get the feeling that

he does not want me to come here.

DUKES

Oh?

MS. BERRY

William . . .

She readjusts her focus on the blinding lake.

MS. BERRY (cont.)

He was always so preoccupied

with duty.

His response is careful.

DUKES

To neglect one’s duty is to pay

a penalty upon oneself.

MS. BERRY

And what is it to neglect one’s

wife?

He looks at her.

48

DUKES

Your husband will be pleased to

see you, Ms. Berry.

She smiles at the formality.

MS. BERRY

Walk with me.

Both get to their feet. Mervyn fumbles for a cigarette.

He lights it and offers the pack to her. She shakes her

head.

We follow as they walk. She holds onto his arm.

DUKES

I am interested to know what

extraordinary feat your husband

was able to achieve, in order to

convince you to marry a person you

may never see.

She smiles again.

MS. BERRY

I sometimes wonder that myself.

Perhaps it was my Brother who was

most able to present a valid

proposal.

DUKES

Really?-

MS. BERRY

Hmm. He told me that no girl

should be without a man to marry.

Dukes stares at her.

DUKES

And what of love?

MS. BERRY

A facet of fiction, bereft of

significance, except in fairy

stories and advertisements.

49

DUKES

And so what of romantic love?

MS. BERRY

Between a man and his woman?-

DUKES

Yes.

MS. BERRY

I believe that it is fickle,

and would not last beyond the

summertime. Best then to think

more long term. Summers do not

last forever.

He looks at the ground and has no immediate response.

DUKES

It is hot today . . .

She stares back as he looks up.

DUKES (cont.)

Here it is hot.

She does not reply. An indeterminate wild animal call is

heard some distance off.

INT – EQUIPMENT STORE, SUDAN BASE – DAY

Dakarai uses a small torch to peer into the firing

mechanism of a jammed Enfield rifle. The scope has been

removed and the tension spring and two screws lie on the

table in front on him. The room is dark.

William Berry enters. His anger has subsided and given

way to softer melancholy. As he enters the room, Darius

sees him but does not stop working.

MR. BERRY

My friend.

The other remains quiet. Berry takes a seat next to the

table.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

Do you require any help?

50

The Egyptian does not take his eyes off the mechanism as

he works it with a screwdriver.

DAKARAI

The trigger has seized again.

Ahh . . !

He fumbles as William reaches over for the weapon.

MR. BERRY

Here . . .

The British man takes the rifle and forces the handle end

of the screwdriver hard against the firing pin. It snaps

with a loud click.

Darius looks annoyed that he was not able to fix the

Enfield himself, as Berry holds it up to the small sliver

of daylight.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

With this stock and scope we

create a resounding peace. A

short, sharp crack of the air is

a small price to pay for

everlasting quiet.

DAKARAI

May I help you in return,

Mr. Berry?

William continues to stare at the weapon.

MR. BERRY

Yes. You may.

He places it once more on the table.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

Our ever-thoughtful senior has

decided that empathy should

overcome belligerence.

DAKARAI

We are not to attack the

stronghold?

51

MR. BERRY

We shall. It has just required

some wider thinking. The

Commander does not wish to place

our aircraft at risk, so we shall

charter our own plane in Juba.

The Egyptian man pauses before replying. He appears

concerned, and slowly strokes his beard.

DAKARAI

There is much risk.

MR. BERRY

A necessary risk. It is a

necessary endeavour.

Another pause. A thoughtful answer . . .

DAKARAI

Do you not wish to see your wife

again?

Berry intensifies.

MR. BERRY

It should not be the end of my

world if I should not. I shall

continue to court my duty.

The other man eyes him carefully.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

And besides, what good is a mere,

courteous and giving maid from this

many thousands of miles?

Dakarai has no answer.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

I shall claim my prize when I am

satisfied that my work here is

finished.

EXT – UGANDA WATERFALL – DAY

A thirty-foot waterfall cascades down into a pool which

collects at its base. Orange cloud above breaks the

52

afternoon sun, and rocks around the pool appear purple,

as if in a surrealist watercolour painting.

The loud call of wild apes are heard in the distance, and

are just audible over the falling column of clear water.

It tumbles slowly like maple syrup and breaks with a

gentle crash on the smooth rocks beneath its feet.

Dukes cradles his companion as one may hold a delicate

child, and they both stand below the falling water. It

is a long embrace and kiss. Neither are clothed. His

journal lies at the water’s edge.

DUKES (v.o.)

Such simple missions have before

become derailed by simple

perversion. I am in Uganda.

The water weighs heavy on both their shoulders, as if

preventing either of them from escaping its torrent.

Neither wish to.

DUKES (v.o.)

The expectation upon me is to tell

of wild apes and hot evenings. Of

flat pieces of earth where men

should build hotels and entice

further visitors. My paymasters

wish to hear of good reason, why

pioneers should push boundaries and

forge paths to unknown destinations.

The water is cold, and it batters their naked skin as

they kiss.

DUKES (v.o.)

But unknown destinations conceal

charms and pitfalls in equal

measure. Summers do not last

forever, but summer moments

shall.

Grasses to either side are awash with cricket calls, and

distant hills roll to the almost inaudible thunder of

moving wild beast.

53

DUKES (v.o.)

I am in Uganda. And it is hot,

here.

We fall away from view as the scorching sun relinquishes

its gaze to lower clouds. On the near shore of the rock

pool, a small frog sits still. Its black and bright

yellow skin signify to us that it is highly poisonous.

EXT – JUBA MARKETPLACE – NIGHT

The town centre rocks to loud frivolity. It is evening,

and many British soldiers head into Juba to experience

it’s raucous but ramshackle bars. Some soldiers stagger,

and are already drunk.

INT – JUBA MARKETPLACE, BAR – NIGHT

William Berry, Darius Dakarai and three other soldiers

sit to one side of a drinking hole. It is basic but

lively. They play cards, and surround the contested pot

of Sudanese nickels.

All talk loudly over crackling English popular music.

We focus on Darius, who considers his hand for an age. A

SCOTTISH SOLDIER hurries him.

SCOTTISH SOLDIER

Come on Dakarai, by the time you

have decided on a course, I shall

be grossly intoxicated!

The other BRITISH MEDIC joins in.

BRITISH MEDIC

For God’s sake, man. Just turn

them over!

Berry remains quiet.

DAKARAI

I shall pick a time to unleash

my fury.

The severity in his voice is a source of amusement to the

younger soldiers.

54

BRITISH MEDIC

Yeah, well I shall pick this time

to return to the bar! Where is the

boy who looks like the rat?

He searches the bar for a table waiter. Darius stares at

the cards.

BRITISH MEDIC (cont.)

Here!

The soldier shouts at a passing youngster holding a tray.

The boy collects two empty glasses without a word, and

goes to return to the bar.

DAKARAI

Yes . . .

He slowly places the hand down. It is a Full House.

SCOTTISH SOLDIER

For Christ sake . . . !

Darius smiles and collects the small pile of coins.

SCOTTISH SOLDIER (cont.)

Argh!

DAKARAI

There is much to gain from biding

one’s time.

BRITISH MEDIC

Then when are we to move?

BERRY

On Ledo?

BRITISH MEDIC

Yeah.

BERRY

Darius has found our man. We

now have the aircraft.

All continue to drink.

55

SCOTTISH SOLDIER

Then it is almost time for it

to rain?

BERRY

Yes.

He pauses as the serving boy returns with several drinks.

Berry looks to one side as the youngster shuffles

uncomfortably off.

BERRY (cont.)

Desert rains are long overdue.

The Egyptian is unsure.

DAKARAI

When do you plan on leaving?

BERRY

Two days. Two days at this

time.

BRITISH MEDIC

You are sure this is the right

thing to do?

BERRY

We are here to do a job. And it

shall be more than good nature

towards these thieves and witches

that prevents this goal.

The serving boy has overheard the last part, and moves

away as he catches William’s cold stare.

BERRY (cont.)

Soon they shall find that stone

houses shall not prevent flames

from finding their jackal.

The music stops. The bar is still noisy.

BERRY (cont.)

It is time to light that fire.

56

INT – CORSAIR COCKPIT – MORNING

The flying boat helm is workmanlike and simple. Bare

metal is finished in dark jade paint, and dials are

arranged in a linear fashion. Big handles for throttle

and choke jut from the centre console, and secondary

engine primes lean down from above. A huge compass sits

to one side, which is flat and resembles a sundial.

Alcock sits on the right. The co-pilot seat is occupied

by JAMES WILSON, who is the Second Boat-master. He is

much younger than his superior, and his movements across

the panels are quick.

Alcock looks confused. He peers through the starboard

window, as if looking for a familiar landmark.

Wilson meddles with the trim, and turns to look at the

other.

WILSON

Captain, I fear that the Uganda

sun has been playing a nasty

trick upon my conscious.

Alcock immediately detects the unease in the younger

man’s voice.

ALCOCK

How so?

WILSON

I was assured that the ground

crews had rectified the glitch

which was becoming such an

annoyance yesterday.

ALCOCK

The navigation?

WILSON.

Yes.

Concern grows. He fumbles for a map, and lays it across

the centre console.

WILSON (cont.)

At last call-in, we should be

seeing the corner of the Nile . . .

57

He points to the map.

WILSON (cont.)

Here . . .

ALCOCK

Then we are past the way-point?

WILSON

I don’t think so, Captain.

Alcock looks below. The cruising height offers a good

view of the ground, but it is a complex patchwork of

tributaries and rivers.

ALCOCK

Discerning the Eastern corner is

impossible.

WILSON

You see?

John peers out at the horizon.

ALCOCK

Raise them again, let’s see if

Khartoum can offer us any help-

WILSON

I can’t get them.

His reply is one of shock.

ALCOCK

We are too far away?

WILSON

Yes

Panic grips.

The younger man slowly turns to address his Captain.

WILSON (cont. )

John . . .

Alcock stares at him. His eyelids flicker with doubt.

58

WILSON (cont.)

I do not know where we are.

The Boat-master turns back to assess their heading once

more. Nothing to indicate where they might be. Nothing

but God-damned rivers.

WILSON (cont.)

Captain?

ALCOCK

Bring her about, port side,

one hundred degrees.

Wilson notices something below.

WILSON

Sir, is that the Judd?

Alcock stares at the expanse below. An arrow-straight

river courses steep banks on both sides.

ALCOCK

I should say it is.

A pause. A horrible moment.

Realisation.

ALCOCK (cont.)

We are miles off course!

They look at each other. How could this have happened?

ALCOCK (cont.)

We don’t have enough fuel to

play guessing games. Cut the

primes and make her ready.

WILSON

Yes, Captain.

ALCOCK

I fear our golden goose will

have to settle where it may.

ALCOCK

Yes, Captain.

59

There is no hesitancy in the young man’s voice, only

unwavering trust.

EXT – CORSAIR – DAY

As our aircraft turns and slows, a view below shows the

extent of the problem. Stretching as far as we can see,

a vast blanket of green and brown undulates and spreads

into a meaningless nothing. The horizon is flat and

featureless, the landscape a dreary and dark expanse of

hopeless, ambling void.

EXT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK – DAY

Young Henry Stam crouches next to a small fire. He has

discarded his shirt, and has set about making a small

cigarette out of bush grasses and chamomile flower.

The boy expertly crafts the smoke and lights it in the

fire. He relaxes and draws on the makeshift cigarette.

Jafaar’s heavy cry is heard off. The elephant’s slightly

panicked call draws Henry to his feet. He dashes to the

animal which is nestled into bush to his right.

HENRY

Jafaar!

The elephant cries, and looks as if it may rear.

HENRY (cont.)

Hey, boy! Hey!

The youngster places his palm on the animal’s flank in an

effort to calm him.

HENRY (cont.)

What is it?

The elephant is wild-eyed, and turns this way and that.

Henry places his hand against his eyes to shield from the

light. It is misty but still bright.

Jafaar’s stressed song is matched to another more soulful

cry. It is distant but becoming louder. The sound of

the elephant and the other animal echo in chorus.

60

Finally the elephant becomes quiet.

The other sound solos. The boy realises what it is.

Aircraft engines!

As he turns to follow the sound, a vivid shadow

encompasses the clearing, rendering everything in

momentary shadow as it passes overhead.

It is our Corsair.

Henry staggers backwards with the incomprehensible image.

It is as if an entire city was being suspended above him,

seemingly hanging by invisible strings, dancing over his

position like an ethereal puppet show.

Corsair passes the clearing. The boy is struggling for

breath, desperately trying to process the images being

presented to him.

The sound bounces off trees and rocks and surrounds the

clearing with its wailing vocal. Leaves shake to the

shuddering thump of propeller torque cutting tranquil

air.

And then it is gone.

Henry excitedly mounts the elephant using a tree stump,

and hastens to make the animal turn. His heart beats

like a quickened metronome.

HENRY

Yar! Hey!

The animal eventually moves. The couple proceed up the

slope to better advantage.

From up here, the boy looks out across the valley, and

gentle plumes signal the line the aircraft has taken, as

it flies straight across the plains.

INT – CORSAIR – DAY

A CABIN ASSISTANT, a young girl with curly-blonde hair

wakes Mr. Dukes from his slumber.

61

CABIN ASSISTANT

Sir . . .

Dukes stirs.

DUKES

Hmm?

CABIN ASSISTANT

We are to alight.

Mervyn wakes. He acknowledges the girl who moves on to

the next row.

He turns to Veronica who is fast asleep. He looks at

her. She seems to be smiling. He decides not to wake

her. Dukes takes up his journal and writes.

DUKES (v.o.)

Sudan was not a part of my

itinerary. If I should be

asked upon my return to New York,

I shall say that it was within

reach, and it would be folly not

to have explored each avenue.

He looks at Veronica. She is fast asleep.

DUKES (v.o.)

But I have no business there. I

know the destination of Juba, and

it is under the control of the

British. There is nothing to be

gained from visiting there.

He looks at her again.

DUKES (v.o.)

But it was a simple request. Fear

of the unknown plays upon many a

mind, and the world, even within

our own borders, has become a

nervous place.

Veronica dreams.

DUKES (v.o.)

I will not be able to stay there.

(cont.)

62

DUKES (cont.)

Failing further twists, this road

is close to an end.

Dukes peers out of the starboard porthole. Ground is

fast approaching. He steadies himself and looks around

the cabin. All is calm.

Outside, the engines howl under deceleration, and the

plane eases before starting its landing run.

Moments later, the graceful splash indicates metal hull

has met water, and the cabin thrums with vibration.

Water splashes against the window. Dukes considers the

moment. He has experienced the sensation several times

now, and there is no cause for concern.

He closes his eyes once more.

A sickening, rib-shattering bang.

Veronica is thrown from sleep and falls sidewards, where

Mervyn catches her with both arms. She does not know

what is going on. Mervyn is rigid with shock.

Possessions are falling from storage lockers and the

plane is listing vividly to the right. The window next

to the couple is filled with opaque spray. Violent bumps

impact the hull below, and the fuselage groans to the

painful cry of metal being stressed and ruptured.

Another smash. The plane lurches suddenly, its nose now

pointing at the sky.

Are we still moving?

Ms. Berry looks up at Dukes with wild fear. Her head is

cut and bleeding from the impact. Veronica whimpers and

clings on to Mervyn with both hands. Passenger cries go

up all around like stricken air-raid sirens. Panic fills

the cabin.

Our plane has stopped. Fear is all around.

Dukes looks out of the starboard window, but it offers no

view. Dark earth is packed against the glass, as if the

plane has descended below the ground and has fallen

straight into hell.

63

The Cabin Assistant has been thrown from her feet, and

passengers struggle to reorientate themselves.

What in the hell could have happened?

Mervyn calms his breathing.

Cabin lighting has gone out.

Breathe. . . .

Looking to the left, we see waves splashing against the

port windows, which are now partially submerged under

dirty river water. Its rolling current playfully laps

the left side of the aircraft.

Breathe.

EXT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK – DAY

Young Henry runs for all he is worth. He sprints along

the rock edge toward our position and on past. Down at

the bottom of the valley next to us, we get a good view

of Corsair. She has entered the river straight and true,

but just before the aircraft was able to stop, she looks

to have impacted a large rock, and has been speared to

the underside. Her nose now rests beached on the river

bank, and the tail and left wing are partly submerged in

the river.

EXT – CORSAIR CRASH SITE – DAY

It is later now, and clouds are lower.

Passengers are leaving the flying boat by a rear exit,

which still leaves a trudge through foot-deep, dirty

water to the shore. Ladies are assisted by gentlemen

passengers, but there is no graceful means across the

shallows.

A group of seven passengers have waded out and are stood

on the grassy bank. They are joined by Alcock. His

other crew members assist in getting the remaining

passengers out.

Dukes and Ms. Berry emerge. He holds her hand as she

grimaces, before splashing through the murky water. He

64

watches her step and not his own.

MS. BERRY

Well, Mr. Dukes, it would seem

that you will not be without an

African tale to imprint upon your

diary!

Dukes smiles.

DUKES

It is just the tonic. The flight

was at risk of becoming a bore!

She smiles. Both joke, but are clearly relieved.

They climb the steep bank by the shore just as the black

Volvo truck belonging to Mr. Stam arrives.

The vehicle horn sounds twice. Some of the passengers

applaud.

Mr. Stam and his wife exit the vehicle and immediately

pick out the Boat Master.

MR. STAM

Good Lord! This is not something

that befalls us every day!

ALCOCK

I should say!

Wilson steps up.

WILSON

A bloody rock! A wretched peril!

MR. STAM

I would say you were very lucky.

He gestures to the opposite bank. The river was just

wide enough to accommodate Corsair’s wingspan.

ALCOCK

There must be something in the

air. We nearly bloody made it.

WILSON

We were lucky to make the shore.

65

Alcock looks at the poor Empire boat, her nose nestled

uncomfortably by the steep incline of the shoreline.

The Cabin Assistant joins the conversation.

CABIN ASSISTANT

Captain, nobody is hurt. Not

seriously.

MRS. STAM

We have medical supplies, and we

have food and water. No need to

panic!

The young crew member breathes a sigh.

CABIN ASSISTANT

Oh, thank you!

Wilson laughs. Terror has given way to the thrilling

sensation of survival.

WILSON

Did you hear that, Captain?

What better place could you have

wished to alight?

Alcock smiles and fumbles for a cigarette.

Dukes and Ms. Berry reach the shore.

DUKES

Well now. Juba looks different

to how I remembered it!

All laugh. Harry touches Veronica’s shoulder to express

his relief. She looks at the ground in merciful thanks.

MS. BERRY

Thank you.

MR. STAM

I am Harry Stam, and this is my

dear wife, Helen.

MS. BERRY

I am Miss Berry, and this is

Mervyn, my dear journalist.

66

Her answer is confused, a result of shock.

MR. STAM

We shall get you looked at,

have no fear!

As Harry Stam tends to Veronica’s forehead, Mervyn is

distracted. He is reading bible passages from the side

of Harry’s truck.

MR. STAM (cont.)

Are you okay?

Dukes pats his leather journal against his leg.

DUKES

Yes. I am fine.

Veronica addresses Mervyn as Mr. Stam moves on to other

passengers.

MS. BERRY

Do you think an African route

worthwhile?

He is caught off guard by her wit. She keeps a straight

face as she continues . . .

MS. BERRY (cont.)

Do you think these cannibals

will have tonics?

INT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK, BELGIAN MISSION – DAY

Stam’s black Volvo rattles up the leaf-strewn incline to

their abode. In front of the mission, the vehicle stops,

and Harry and his wife disembark. She proceeds

immediately into their house.

Harry hurries to the rear of the truck and swings the

heavy doors open. Passengers from the stricken aircraft

jump out, one by one. All are shaken, but clearly

relieved to have their feet back on solid earth.

MR. STAM

Welcome to my humble home!

A gentleman jumps out, and as he does so, nearly loses

67

his hat. Stam helps him. The man pats him on the arm to

indicate his thanks.

Harry helps a lady exit after him.

MR. STAM (cont.)

You’re all probably used to finer

comforts and greater space, but

you are now in the Belgian

Congo!

Another lady takes Harry’s hand and climbs out. One by

one they exit, like hurricane-ravaged refugees.

The mood is upbeat.

MR. STAM (cont.)

The nearest Hotel is in Aba,

which is some fifty miles beyond.

And like me . . .

The last passenger exits.

MR. STAM (cont.)

You’re probably in need of tea!

The gentleman exits, nods, and smiles gratefully.

Mr. Stam’s two boys peer out of the door of the mission.

They are excited, and obviously unaccustomed to seeing

this number of people.

Mrs. Stam appears in the doorway too, and touches Henry’s

head.

MRS. STAM

We have drinking water here.

And wash-water, if you do not

mind waiting!

The passengers enter the home. Harry follows them and

looks at his wife as he enters the house. She smiles at

him. Her manner is one of patience and of long, mutual

respect.

HOWARD

Father, can I go with you to

collect the remaining

passengers?

68

MR. STAM

Howard, please help your mother.

I can manage on my own, and may

need the further seat.

No argument.

HOWARD

Yes, Father.

Harry looks outside. The sky is darkening, and the cloud

is becoming low. We may be in for a storm.

He exits the house and returns to the truck.

EXT – CORSAIR CRASH SITE – DAY

Veronica sits on the muddy shore at the lake’s reach.

Her eyes are motionless, and are transfixed on the water

surface. It is a murky brown, like a Sudanese landslide,

and the water forms ghostly shapes at the wind’s behest.

She does not move.

Mervyn sits a little further down the bank. He leans

against an awkward boulder, and writes in his diary.

Pausing, he looks over to the young girl.

DUKES (v.o.)

We are safely out of the boat.

How fortunate that we should have

selected this place, this isolated

white elephant amongst mere and

hollow fields of blossom to make

our unscheduled descent.

He pauses.

DUKES (v.o.)

It is a vacant and inhospitable

place. A sterile and dark

moonscape, seemingly from another

world. Fortunate then, that the

Belgian and his wife were to offer

their utmost in terms of their

hospitality, and we shall spend

the night with them.

It is starting to rain. Dukes looks round and once more

69

assesses the surrounding wilderness.

DUKES (v.o.)

Why? Why would God choose to

have fractured such an otherwise

pearlescent and beautiful African

marble? This is the deep and dark

Congo, and my every instinct is

instructing me to go at the first

opportunity.

He looks at Ms. Berry, who remains still.

DUKES (v.o.)

But where I go from here is not

my call to chance.

Veronica blinks, and gets slowly to her feet. The rain

is becoming faster. Mervyn appears behind her, his

jacket stretched above his head. He immediately offers

the young woman cover, and takes her hand as they turn

away from the lake.

There is no shelter, so they make back for the right wing

of the aircraft.

The lights of Stam’s truck peer through the slushy

downpour. The horn sounds, and all the remaining

passengers and flight crew jog towards the vehicle.

Harry Stam is already out and around the back of the car,

gesturing for the people to enter and escape the storm.

We notice a bible slogan which runs along the front

fender, which reads, `Matthew 7:13-4 For wide is the gate

and broad is the road’.

Dukes spots it too as he shields his face from the

howling torrent.

DUKES (v.o)

Enter through the narrow gate.

The handful of passengers in front of him enter the rear

of the truck. Dukes follows. The doors are closed

behind him.

70

DUKES (v.o.)

For wide is the gate and broad

is the road that leads to

destruction, and many enter

through it.

The truck departs. Its purchase on the loose soil looks

speculative, but it makes a getaway.

The rain is becoming very heavy now.

DUKES (v.o)

But small is the gate and

narrow is the road that leads

to life.

The truck is gone. It is getting dark.

DUKES (v.o)

And only a few find it.

INT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK, BELGIAN MISSION – NIGHT

All of Corsair’s passengers and crew are crowded into the

small sitting room area in the Stam’s home. There is not

much light, and the rain can be heard hitting the

corrugated roof with vigour.

All are relaxed. The gentleman passengers have whisky

glasses, which Harry Stam is determined to keep topped.

Veronica is amongst the group, and a lady some forty

years her senior has a scarf wrapped across her

shoulders. She smiles, and seems happy with the company

of the others.

Dukes stands to one corner next to the kitchen, on his

own. He watches Ms. Berry as she chats to the other

passengers. He is statuesque in the dark enclave, and

all the golden light cast from the different lamps is

focussed on the table where the others sit.

Dukes also has a glass of whisky, from which he

occasionally sips.

He is approached by Mrs. Stam, who enters from the

kitchen.

71

MRS. STAM

Can I get you another drink

from our limited cabinet?

Dukes smiles.

DUKES

No, it is fine. I have some

Macallan, if any of your other

guests wish to help themselves.

She looks at the bottle which stands on the shelf behind

him.

MRS. STAM

This is a good choice.

Dukes reflects. There is a long pause and she goes to

leave. He stops her.

DUKES

May I ask . . .

Mrs. Stam waits.

DUKES (cont.)

How long is the drive to Aba?

Harry interrupts.

MR. STAM

It is three hours. Depending on

the lakes.

DUKES

Thank you.

He looks once more at Veronica as Mrs. Stam returns to

the kitchen.

Stam watches Mervyn’s eyes closely. His comment is

considered.

MR. STAM

How quickly the sun can enter a

cold room, and warm each article

to our touch.

Dukes stares right at him.

72

DUKES

Do you require a drink?

Stam’s smile is inscrutable. He looks into the kitchen

at his wife.

MR. STAM

No. I already have one.

Golden light from a paraffin lamp breaches the dark

shadows around Dukes’ eyes. His expression is difficult

to decipher.

His reply is slow.

DUKES

Then all is well.

MR. STAM

Are you a religious man,

Mr. Dukes?

DUKES

No. Why? Are you going to set

upon me with a righteous and

persuasive whim, to which I

offer no provocation, and to

which you offer no reason or

justification?

Stam smiles gently.

MR. STAM

No. I offer you something else.

The missionary reaches into his pocket.

MR. STAM (cont.)

You are not religious, but I can

tell you have a strong spirit.

Does that give you conviction in

your beliefs?

DUKES

I believe in many things I do

not understand, but I wish to

experience each of them in turn.

He removes his hand and presents Mervyn with a tiny,

73

corked vial. It contains an opulent, royal-red

substance.

MR. STAM

Then I would encourage you to

think differently, and to find

your faith elsewhere. Sometimes

it helps to just abandon reason.

Just follow the signs.

Dukes eyes the small bottle.

DUKES

What is this? Blood?

MR. STAM

Morelia Sequis.

Dukes holds it up to the light.

DUKES

This is the blood of a python?

Stam is shocked by his knowledge.

MR. STAM

Yes. Ha! The bushmen believe

that is has the properties of an

elixir.

DUKES

I do not wish to live forever.

MR. STAM

No . . .

Stam turns and looks at Veronica, who sits quietly

listening to the man opposite as he describes his version

of the crash landing.

MR. STAM (cont.)

But she wishes that today will

last forever.

Dukes is rarely speechless. Stam grips his shoulder and

shakes him from his temporary daze.

74

MR. STAM (cont.)

If you do not mind, I shall

stick to your scotch!

Dukes stirs, as if his ghostly spirit has just re-entered

his body. He pockets the vial and raises a glass of

whisky.

They toast.

MR. STAM (cont.)

To life!

DUKES

To hospitality.

Both drink.

MR. STAM

I shall stay with all the

passengers at the guest house

at Aba.

DUKES

I’m sure there is no need.

MR. STAM

I know there is no need. But

like yourself, I do not wish to

do myself the disservice of not

completing my journey.

Dukes raises his glass again.

EXT – CALSHOTT VILLAGE, ENGLAND – MORNING

It is a mild day across the South coast of England. This

tiny village is lightly populated, and has but two

remarkable features. One is a small castle ruin, which

overlooks the single road leading through the village

centre, and the other is the wet dock. It is a small

engineering facility nestled at the waterside.

We pace down a short, wooden walkway and into the

engineering works. The building is a basic, metal

structure which resembles an aircraft hangar.

Inside, a young engineer, PETER NEWNHAM, is working on a

75

huge piece of sheet metal, carefully working rivets so

that they sit flush. He stops for a moment, and pauses

to take a sip of tea.

His rest is interrupted by the sound of a motorbike

pulling up outside.

He walks to the exit of the building, where another man,

GIUSEPPE LACOVITCH, dismounts the black motorcycle. He

removes his helmet, and we see her wears a black biker

jacket and red neckerchief. He is a dark-skinned, mixedrace

Italian with rugged features.

LACOVITCH

Greetings, Peter!

Newnham drops the cloth and walks up to him. He slaps

him on the back.

NEWNHAM

Mr. Lacovitch! What brings you

to sleepy Calshott?

He hops off of the saddle and shakes his friend’s hand.

LACOVITCH

Work has brought me to you!

NEWNHAM

Oh?

He sips the last of his tea.

LACOVITCH

Mr. Geddes was adamant that I

see you.

NEWNHAM

If this is about the wing, we are

almost on schedule-

LACOVITCH

It is concerning another matter.

One of great importance.

NEWNHAM

Eric has sent you?

76

LACOVITCH

They have all sent me, Peter.

The other looks intrigued.

LACOVITCH (cont.)

We have an assignment together.

NEWNHAM

Of course, but I was told that

this repair is to be treated as a

priority-

LACOVITCH

This new trial is to supersede all.

NEWNHAM

It’s not the bloody Rugby Works

again, is it? I’m not driving to

Warwickshire again-

LACOVITCH

No, my friend. This one shall

require a flight.

NEWNHAM

Where?

The Italian pauses for a moment and breathes in the

country air.

LACOVITCH

Africa.

The Englishman looks shocked.

NEWNHAM

Africa?

LACOVITCH

Yes. We have lost another bird.

Seemingly to harsh winds.

NEWNHAM

If this is because of the engines

I have told Eric77

LACOVITCH

This tribulation is altogether

more of a human doing.

NEWNHAM

Where is the bird?

LACOVITCH

Belgian Congo.

NEWNHAM

For Christ’s sake-

LACOVITCH

It hit a rock on landing.

NEWNHAM

Is it stuck?

LACOVITCH

Yes. And they need us to dig it

out.

NEWNHAM

This is more than a human

undertaking. How many crew?

LACOVITCH

Both.

Peter steps forward and blinks.

NEWNHAM

What?

LACOVITCH

We are to head the salvage team.

There will be a crew, of course.

NEWNHAM

Son of a bitch!

LACOVITCH

We will recruit others when we

arrive there.

NEWNHAM

They expect us to raise a

(cont.)

78

NEWNHAM (cont.)

mountain from a river using

nothing but spit, sawdust and

bushmen?

LACOVITCH

Your skills will help us,

Peter.

NEWNHAM

We may need the luck of the

voodoos too!

LACOVITCH

We will have whatever tonics we need.

Newnham muses.

NEWNHAM

When?

LACOVITCH

Tomorrow. A plane is already on

route to collect the passengers.

The Englishman sighs.

NEWNHAM

So much for my bloody holiday.

My wife will be livid-

LACOVITCH

Jean is a patient woman.

NEWNHAM

I fear my own patience will be

our tether!

Lacovitch smiles.

LACOVITCH

The workload will be shared . . .

The Italian looks at him. He knows he is unable to

refuse.

LACOVITCH (cont.)

But the credit will be your own.

79

Peter walks back into the workshop. We enter with him

and pivot to the other side of the hangar, which we did

not see before. Inside is a complete Empire boat. The

metal structure barely contains its mass, and its nose

points through the far, open end of the facility.

They both stare at the vast aircraft.

NEWNHAM

Inform Geddes that I will be at

Croydon for the morning.

He turns to see Giuseppe bang in a rivet on the

workbench. Perhaps Newnham’s workmanship was not to his

standard.

Slowly, he turns and readdresses the other.

LACOVITCH

He knows.

EXT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK – MORNING

Howard Stam sits under the shade of a fallen mangrove.

He reads a book and is deep in concentration. As we

become closer, we see that it is Mr. Dukes’ journal that

he is reading. The youngster clasps at its leather

binding respectfully as he reads.

His brother Henry interrupts.

HENRY

Howard! Mother said to call

you.

HOWARD

Quiet, Brother, can you not see

I am reading?

Henry slides in on his knees and peers over to look at

what his elder is so preoccupied with.

HENRY

What is it you read?

HOWARD

Shhh. I have borrowed it from

one of the passengers.

80

Henry gulps.

HENRY

Howard! The man will be looking

for this!

HOWARD

Quiet!

HENRY

What does it say?

Howard finally relaxes and becomes less edgy, as he

realises his little brother is too intrigued to leave him

in peace.

HOWARD

Here . . .

He begins to read out loud.

HOWARD (cont.)

It seems like such an age since we

left the cool waters of Southampton.

I am fortunate to have been blessed

with this most interesting of travel

companions. Ms. Berry too embarks

on an adventure, and we take flight

together. I am fascinated by this

girl, and of how a journey of duty

can be so borne out of tendency, and

not want. It is a curious thing,

but to hold out my arms and lean

backwards against a stiff wind makes

me wish to take flight once more-

DUKES (off)

Do you wish to contribute a

passage?

Both boys turn in surprise. Howard looks most worried.

He panics slightly, and does not know what to say.

Henry diffuses the situation without realising.

HENRY

Where you a pilot in England?

Dukes smiles.

81

DUKES

No. Although I have seemingly

been a navigator at times.

Howard looks terrified as Mervyn moves towards him.

DUKES (cont.)

It is okay. You may read my

journal.

Howard does not speak, and nervously hands the book back

to him.

HOWARD

You say that we will be at war in

a few months. Is that true?

DUKES

It is my personal belief that we

shall. Others would like to think

not, but I am a realist.

HOWARD

My Father?

Dukes looks at the concerned boy.

HOWARD (cont.)

Will he have to go to fight?

DUKES

I should say that he will not.

There is plenty to keep him

occupied here, and you will be out

of harms way.

Young Howard kneels at the man’s feet.

HOWARD

Sir, I am sorry that I took your

book.

DUKES

Do not fret.

Howard rises.

82

DUKES (cont..)

The need to discover is what sets

us apart.

EXT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK, BELGIAN MISSION – DAY

Ms. Berry walks with another passenger, an older lady.

She is MRS. MILLER, who is an active 60-year-old. Her

pink shawl and pink cardigan are a bright intrusion upon

the Congo’s muted browns and greens.

She holds Veronica’s arm as they walk from the mission.

MRS. MILLER

The most unexpected thing I have

ever experienced in my life!

MS. BERRY

Yes. It was very frightening.

The sound of the hull woke me from

my sleep, and then I do not know

what happened. I guess we were very

lucky.

MRS. MILLER

Yes!

MS. BERRY

Are you travelling alone?

MRS. MILLER

Yes, I am. I am travelling to

Juba. My son is an engineer. We

will leave there together soon

after, and move further East. I am

worried about what may happen this

year, so best to keep out of harm’s

way.

MS. BERRY

Yes . . .

MRS. MILLER

The gentleman you are travelling with . . .

She turns to look at the young girl.

83

MRS. MILLER (cont.)

Is he your husband?

MS. BERRY

No. He is a companion I have met

on the plane. My husband is

stationed in the Sudan.

MRS. MILLER

Is he a soldier?

MS. BERRY

He is a medic. With the Colonial

Medical Services.

MRS. MILLER

Do they also expect him to fight?

She looks at the ground.

MS. BERRY

Yes. We must all fight. William

is a duteous man, and a brave

fighter.

MRS. MILLER

Is he a duteous husband?

A pause.

MS. BERRY

Things are very difficult at the

moment. I do not see him often,

and if war does break out, I am

not sure what will happen. So

difficult to plan any kind of

things at the moment.

MRS. MILLER

Then you must be most thrilled to

be getting to the Sudan! We are

being collected this evening and

will spend the night in the town,

oh, what is it called?

Veronica smiles at the older lady.

MS. BERRY

Aba. It is not far from here.

84

MRS. MILLER

Yes, Aba! We have but one more

day to wait. Then you shall be on

your way to see your darling

brave soldier!

EXT – SUDANI SETTLEMENT, JABAL LEDO – NIGHT

It is dark.

Desert falls away below our view, and it looks like a

river of oil under the moon’s blue illumination. We are

atop a mountain.

A collection of simple, stone dwellings nestle into the

foothills. This small hamlet is familiar. It is the one

seen before from the air.

A young Sudani boy leads a ragged-eared donkey up the

trail towards the settlement. The animal is saddled with

leather satchels. It plods on, one aching foot after

another, until they arrive at the outskirts of the

village.

The boy stops. He looks out across the endless expanse

of desert.

A high-pitched whine is heard some distance off. As it

becomes louder, the pitch lowers, as if it is becoming

closer, yet slower.

The boy’s father leaves one of the buildings and walks up

to him. He helps him remove a satchel from the animal,

and strokes the boys head. He too becomes aware of the

noise.

Looking up, they see the simple frame of an aircraft

silhouetted against the moon’s ghostly glow. It is a biplane.

Panic fills the Sudani’s manner. He gestures for the boy

to hurry into the family home. At the door, his wife

peers out. Other villagers are now aware of the din, and

look up at the aircraft.

It is close now.

Fear grips. A woman screams.

85

The aircraft is diving.

The scene transforms from simplistic, daily determination

to chaotic terror.

The plane is almost upon them. It glides in at little

over stall speed and seems to hover like a bird of prey

above the village.

Animals run loose in the panic, and women escort children

to the far side of the settlement, where a steep wall of

rock seems to offer some cover.

Rain falls from above as the aircraft passes over, as if

a sprinkler from the heavens had suddenly been turned on.

The confused villagers shelter from the rainstorm.

The man pauses. He wipes a raindrop from his cheek and

licks his finger. It is a moment of sickening

revelation.

Aviation fuel . . .

The aircraft sweeps in a long arc and readies for another

pass over the village. Screams of terror go up.

As the plane plunges through the blackness, our eyes hurt

to a blinding illumination. A Spanish rescue flare is

cast from the co-pilot seat, and it falls slowly to the

floor, like a firefly caught in autumn winds.

As the spark hits the fuel-soaked dirt, flames take, and

they flash across the village.

Screams.

A vast wall of fire erupts all around, and it dances a

deadly path from rooftop to rooftop. The far grip of the

flames encircles two of the homes. Peering through the

yellow hell, we see the shadow of an old woman holding

her crying granddaughter. They are trapped.

Above the painful lick of the fire’s reach, the

underbelly of the British aircraft is kissed gently by

this white-hot death. The engine crescendos in pitch and

the bi-plane passes harmlessly out of the reach of the

flames.

86

It is gone. The village burns.

The boy’s donkey yelps as the remains of its stricken

carcass ignite, and the flames take its life.

The boy has escaped down the mountainside. His mother

and father have not. The man’s body lies at the foot of

the fires reach, in the doorway to the family home. It

is motionless.

We move away from the painful blaze and look back out to

the desert. The sick crackle of the ravage is still

heard behind us as we look away.

Over the unyielding blackness of night sky, a man’s voice

is heard.

DUKES (v.o.)

Dark is this night. Of phantoms

and echoes and cries of lost

souls, of wilting screams across

deep domains. Impending troubles

are told by announcers, and war is

now no longer probable, but

inevitable.

The fire can no longer be heard.

DUKES (v.o.)

The world waits with grim

determination. The fight comes

quickly. Flames transport fear

to other destinations, and

concepts of mere travel for

travels sake will now facilitate

death in long-lost fields.

A pause.

DUKES (v.o.)

Dark is this night.

INT – BRITISH BASE IN SUDAN, COMMAND – MORNING

We stare at the Commanding Officer’s desk. A Colonial

general service medal lands on the veneer. We look up to

see the Commander, who stares through us for an eternity.

In front of him is William Berry.

87

BERRY

Sir, I accept your recommendation,

and I wish to assist the process.

The Officer leans back and ponders. His mood is one of

sadness.

COMMANDING OFFICER

William, please sit down.

He does so. His superior breathes a heavy sigh.

COMMANDING OFFICER (cont.)

I am in full support of your

efforts to protect our services

and our mission, I truly am.

You serve with distinction and

unwavering effort.

Berry’s eyes flicker with intensity.

COMMANDING OFFICER (cont.)

I have to respect the wishes of

our High Command. Cairo cannot

justify what has happened. I’m

to prepare a full report this

afternoon, but I am left with no

choice.

Berry looks at the floor momentarily.

MR. BERRY

I understand, Sir.

COMMANDING OFFICER

In my eyes, the attack was not

justified, and the Sudani

governors will see it the same way.

I do not believe there will be

charges pressed. By way of

circumstance, I shall argue that

the offensive has increased our

capability within the region.

MR. BERRY

Yes, Sir. I believe it has.

An awkward pause.

88

COMMANDING OFFICER

But we know now, that the Ledo

was harbouring no militia.

His mood darkens.

COMMANDING OFFICER (cont.)

Only God-damn women and goats!

He pushes an arterial route map from the desk, and it

lands with an uncomfortable flutter.

COMMANDING OFFICER (cont. )

I have asked that you be

collected from Faradje.

MR. BERRY

I am to be reposted?

Silence.

COMMANDING OFFICER

No. You are to return to England.

The Command will then take it on.

Berry’s lip quakes in sadness, but he has no argument.

He steps back and reluctantly concedes.

MR. BERRY

Yes, Sir.

He turns and leaves.

The Commander twists in his chair and looks at a letter

he has pinned to his operations board. We cannot see its

detail.

He shakes his head. William Berry is gone.

INT – ABA GUEST HOUSE – MORNING

Dukes sleeps alone. The stray sliver of light through

the blind falls upon his face and he wakes. He looks

round at the room. Slowly Mervyn gets to his feet and

paces over to the window.

Outside, there is nothing much, save for this simple,

89

wooden hotel, a hitching post, and a small river which

runs on past.

Outside, the Corsair passengers are assembling in front

of the guest house.

Dukes blinks in the harsh light. Gathering his few

items, he puts on a shirt and exits the room.

He walks down partly-rotten steps and into the reception

area, which contains nothing but a black African behind a

basic desk.

He steps outside, where he is immediately greeted by

James Wilson, the Second Boat Master.

WILSON

Good morning, Sir. How did you

sleep?

DUKES

Alone, and uncomfortably.

Wilson laughs. His good humour is infectious, but it

does not pass to Dukes.

WILSON

Where is your lady friend?

DUKES

I do not know. Perhaps she still

sleeps.

WILSON

You should wake her. Our

paymasters have arranged for a

second boat. The Centurion will

be here soon.

Mervyn returns to the guest house. Its archaic wooden

construction confounds, for the simple fact that it is

still standing after ten years.

Mervyn goes back upstairs. Veronica’s room is opposite

his own. He taps on the door.

DUKES

Veronica . . .

90

No answer.

DUKES (cont.)

Ms. Berry . . .?

Still no reply.

Reluctantly, he tries the handle. The door has no lock.

He carefully moves inside.

Veronica’s room is identical to his own. The girl

sleeps. Mervyn carefully stands over her and whispers.

DUKES (cont.)

Veronica, we must be leaving.

She is awake but incomprehensible. She murmurs but does

not fully respond.

Dukes is concerned. Eventually she turns over.

On her right temple, a dark clot has formed around the

injury she sustained during the crash landing. It is a

foreboding and painful sore of a pale purple, which

suggests it is infected.

DUKES (cont.)

My God! What has become of this

wound?

Her eyes open and she coughs an indistinct vowel.

He attempts to lift her shoulders. It is a difficult

operation.

DUKES (cont.)

Veronica, you must wake . . .

She slurs a word and eventually sits upright. She

stretches out and feels for his cheek. He stares back

compassionately.

Another passenger enters the hotel room. It is Mrs.

Miller.

MRS. MILLER

Shouldn’t we be going?

Dukes does not reply.

91

MRS. MILLER (cont.)

Oh, my dear, what is wrong?

He strokes her face.

DUKES

Her injury has become infected.

MRS. MILLER

She does not look well at all.

I shall find someone.

She exits.

Dukes watches the girl as she rolls uncomfortably in her

bed. His insistence is grave.

DUKES

We must get you to Faradje.

MS. BERRY

Far- Faradje. Are we?

She is not fully aware.

Dukes grabs at her forcefully and swings her up in both

arms. He carries her out of the room.

EXT – ABA GUEST HOUSE – MORNING

Ms. Berry is lying on a blanket in the back of Harry

Stam’s truck. Mr. Stam goes to close the doors.

MS. BERRY

No! No! Where?-

Dukes appears.

MS. BERRY (cont.)

Where are you taking me-

DUKES

It is okay, Veronica.

He takes her hand.

92

MS. BERRY

Your wound has become infected.

Mr. Stam will take us to Faradje,

where we can get you some decent

help.

Stam moves forward.

MR. STAM

Here . . .

He produces what looks like a dark blue piece of soap and

wipes it on her forehead. She complains at the pain.

Mervyn is not happy at all.

DUKES

What is this?

MR. STAM

This is Osun. It is a

disinfectant.

Dukes eases.

DUKES

It seems you have tonics for many

ailments, Mr. Stam.

He half-smiles as he attends to her.

MR. STAM

Out here, Mr. Dukes, you quickly

find that you have no choice but

to believe in other remedies.

He looks at Harry earnestly.

DUKES

Thank you.

He means it. Stam closes the van doors. Both hasten to

the cabin.

MR. STAM

You realise you will not make

your flight?

He is preoccupied, and his answer is distant.

93

DUKES

Yes. I know.

The engine catches and they depart.

Mrs. Miller remains with the other passengers, and looks

on with huge concern.

INT – HARRY’S TRUCK – DAY

The Volvo bounces along the rough road between Aba and

Faradje. The rear compartment is inaccessible from the

cabin, so we cannot see Ms. Berry.

DUKES

How long should this take?

MR. STAM

Oh, do not worry, she will be

fine.

His comforting manner only serves to infuriate Mervyn

somewhat. Stam notices.

MR. STAM (cont. )

It is our nearest town and only

option. I say, less than forty

miles.

Dukes calms, and finally smiles.

DUKES

Could I ask that you do not spare

the whip?

Stam smiles too.

MR. STAM

Do not panic, Mr Dukes, this old

girl has not let me down yet!

The truck bounds and ricochets off the terrible road

surface. The engine clatter is horrendous.

MR. STAM (cont.)

Your concern goes some way beyond

(cont.)

94

MR. STAM (cont.)

what one may normally lavish upon

an unknown travel companion.

Dukes suddenly looks uncomfortable.

DUKES

She is a charge to my care.

MR. STAM

Then she will be grateful that

you have gone beyond what would be

humanly expected.

Mervyn looks down into the foot-well.

DUKES

She is my responsibility.

MR. STAM

For sure, until she is returned

to her husband.

His reply is slow.

DUKES

Yes. Until then.

EXT – JUBA, SUDAN – DAY

We are on the fringe of the British Army site near to

Juba. A man paces toward us. It is William Berry. The

image is of a similar moment to when we were first

introduced to him, except now he wears a black shirt and

shorts instead of a uniform, and he carries no weapon.

He makes his way from the base entrance checkpoint to the

town beyond. He carries a small hiker backpack and

nothing more.

He enters a Juba street, which runs straight from the

town fringe to the centre. It is low-lying, dusty and

pathetic.

A short way into the alley, he pauses as he encounters

two local men who are arguing.

Both are clearly incensed, and push each other as they

95

contest in loud Sudanese Arabic. One holds out a small

number of coins, and points at it repeatedly as he

shouts.

Berry stops and eyes them suspiciously.

A stray dog barks. It is a Labrador cross. It looks

identical to the van driver’s dog back in Southampton,

except that its fur is tattered and patchy, and it has

only one good eye. It confronts William and challenges

his presence upon the neighbourhood. He looks down at it

with contempt, and once more at the two Sudani men.

He shakes his head in disdain, and carries on.

William reaches the town centre and takes a seat at the

foot of the central monument. He blinks in the

uncomfortable light. He takes a moment to look at his

watch, and sighs impatiently when he realises how long he

has to wait for collection.

To one side, he sees two British soldiers. They laugh

and joke with a local stall owner, and one of the British

men playfully rubs the head of the Sudani’s son. The boy

looks up at the soldier and smiles. The second British

man offers his father some of his bread, and he accepts

it thankfully.

Berry scowls. He sits under the monument, in dark

shadow.

INT – FARADJE MEDICAL PRACTICE – DAY

Veronica Berry lies on a simple bed. She slowly opens

one bleary eye. The room details are obscured by

incomprehension and half-sleep. Slowly she opens the

other. Clarity returns to our vision.

The young girl is in one of only two rooms of a small

medical unit in the town of Faradje. The window is halfobscured

by a blind, but the sun coming through is

somehow comforting.

In our confusion, the angular corners of the window frame

mellow into the round port-holes as we have seen in

Corsair. We imagine clouds to be passing softly by, and

the enduring hum of strong engines cascading through the

window frame into the room.

96

Veronica smiles.

She moves her head slowly and tries to lift herself, but

she is prevented from doing so by Dukes, who surprises

her and shakes her from the hallucination.

DUKES

Lay still.

Her words are slow and confused.

MS. BERY

Have I been asleep? Are we at

fifteen thousand feet?

He pats her pillow and adjusts her posture.

DUKES

You have been further that

that.

MS. BERRY

Where did-? Are we in Sudan?

He is slow to answer.

DUKES

No. This is Faradje. We are

still in the Congo.

She blinks with confusion and worry.

MS. BERRY

What? What are . . .?

DUKES

You were taken ill, Veronica.

Mr. Stam and I had to bring you to

this hospital. Do not panic, the

Doctor has helped you, and you

should be fit to recover,

post-haste.

MS. BERRY

But, William! My husband, is

he . . .?

97

DUKES

Please, relax.

MS. BERRY

I am duty-bound to visit him.

I must-

DUKES

You need to recover. Tomorrow,

Mr. Stam will arrange for you to

go by car. It will be a very long

journey by road, but we are not

sure how long it will take before

the Airline sends another boat

here.

She is still dazed.

DUKES (cont.)

Please, relax.

Dukes turns to leave, but her words stop him at the

doorway.

MS. BERRY

Do not go!

She is breathless. He blinks.

MS. BERRY (cont.)

Do not leave my side.

Mervyn is lost for words, so simply nods once, before

exiting the room.

She stares at the doorway as he goes.

Dukes exits into the corridor, where a Black African man

sits in leather wing-back chair. He sits almost

horizontal, as his left leg is bandaged and suspended

close to waist height on a floral footstool.

He is Eze Bah, the local man seen previously.

He watches Dukes enter the corridor.

EZE BAH

Jamba, boet.

98

Mervyn looks at him, and looks down at his leg with some

unease.

DUKES

Hello, friend. A lion did this

to you?

The African shifts his weight in the chair.

EZE BAH

Pardus . . . Pardus.

Dukes does not understand. The black man becomes

frustrated.

DUKES

You speak Malawi? I am sorry,

friend, I do not understand it.

The African turns away and stares at the wall.

Mervyn pauses, and takes something from his trouser

pocket. It is the tiny vial of blood given to him by

Harry Stam. He offers it to the injured man.

Eze is surprised, but as Dukes reaches out, he clasps his

hands around the Englishman’s, and clears his throat.

EZE BAH

No, my friend. You keep this.

His English is broken, but the words can be

distinguished.

Dukes is surprised, and slowly withdraws his offering.

EZE BAH (cont.)

You will need this.

Mervyn grips his shoulder in thanks. His words are

quiet.

DUKES

Thank you.

Dukes decides to leave him in peace, and exits the front

door to the surgery.

Outside, Stam is waiting on the front steps.

99

MR. STAM

I trust she is okay?

DUKES

The doctor said she should recover

very shortly.

MR. STAM

How about you?

He looks at the journal by his side.

DUKES

I am fine. Thank you.

He seems quick to change subjects.

DUKES (cont.)

And what of you? Should you not

be getting back to the mission?

They said that rains are coming,

and they shall be heavy. Will that

not make your journey home more

dangerous?

Stam smiles.

MR. STAM

Perhaps. But then, I guess

nobody wants to live forever!

Dukes does not immediately reply to the joke.

DUKES

Thank you, once more.

MR. STAM

Remember what I told you. There

will be a market held two days

from now-

DUKES

Yes, by the route to Nagero, by

the number twenty-five sign next

to the roadside.

MR. STAM

Yes! You’ve got it! Just follow

(cont.)

100

MR. STAM (cont.)

the signs. You will be able to buy

your road passage to Juba there.

It will cost you next to nothing.

They shake hands.

DUKES

Thank you, Harry.

MR. STAM

Goodbye now!

Stam waves behind him as he leaves, and heads back to his

truck.

We watch Mervyn as we hear the vehicle clatter into life

over to our right.

It leaves.

MS. BERRY (off)

Does that give me only two more

days?

Dukes turns to see Veronica standing at the entrance to

the house. Her shirt is half-unbuttoned and her hair is

wild.

DUKES

Yes. Except for the journey by

road, which will take quite some

time.

MS. BERRY

Then if I am leaving shortly, I

wish to see everything that is

around here before I go.

DUKES

Ms. Berry, there is not much

around here at all.

She steps down the small steps to the little porch and

stands at his side.

MS. BERRY

Then we will just have to walk

(cont.)

101

MS. BERRY (cont.)

a little further.

EXT – TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON – EVENING

George Woods Humphrey sits on a bench in a mood of

melancholy. He feeds pigeons around his feet with

breadcrumbs he has in a tiny bag.

A shadow moves over him. He is unaware of the presence

of another. It is his DRIVER.

DRIVER (off)

Sir, I am sorry to hasten you,

but must we not be leaving?

An age passes. He eventually replies, but does not look

up.

HUMPHREY

Do you know what they shall

say?

DRIVER (off)

No, Sir.

HUMPHREY

They shall drag us in there, and

we shall limp, like wounded pet

animals, pending punishment for

misdeed.

Still we do not see the driver.

HUMPHREY (cont.)

And then they shall ask, how did

you come by an aircraft that was

so unable to cling to the sky?

DRIVER (off)

Forgive me for speaking my mind,

Sir, but my Sister has purchased a

ticket for passage on an Empire

Boat.

HUMPHREY

Do not tell me. She is part of

(cont.)

102

HUMPHREY (cont.)

the passenger group who we must

now return?

DRIVER (off)

Yes, Sir.

Humphrey breathes a gentle sigh.

HUMPHREY

Then I imagine you will be

joining the queue, and shouting

loudly that Eric and I should step

down.

Still we do not see him.

DRIVER (off)

No, Sir. She has been looking

forward to the journey so much, I

cannot remember a time when she

has been happier. This came

about through your invention.

HUMPHREY

We have invented nothing but rods

for our own backs.

DRIVER (off)

Perhaps, but you have also

invented a gateway to a domain

that others, like my sister,

would never have experienced.

Finally George smiles.

HUMPHREY

Perhaps.

A moment passes.

DRIVER (off)

Sir . . . The board are

waiting.

EXT – MOUNTAINSIDE, FARADJE – NIGHT

Veronica and Mervyn walk. The route they have chosen is

103

a flint-strewn patch which leads from bushy precipice to

stony mountain base.

The night sky is as clear as spring water, and a blanket

of stars spatter the vast panorama above. The bushy

verges to either side are alive with noise, and crickets

chatter as the couple walk amongst them.

At the bottom, a ridge has opened up along the mountain

like a seismic chasm. The large cave, seemingly rendered

of stalactite and meandering sharp teeth, splits the

starlight to their touch and spill it as amethyst fallout

upon the cold rocks below our feet.

MS. BERRY

I love this place.

He looks at her.

DUKES

It is not very warm here. Are

you sure you wish to stay out

this late?

MS. BERRY

I am not cold.

She squeezes his arm. Both stop walking.

MS. BERRY (cont.)

I am tired, though.

He places a gentle finger on the cut on her forehead. It

looks much improved.

DUKES

You surprise me that you have

been able to walk this long

without feeling a need to lie

down.

She smiles, then looks him straight in the eye. She

places both arms around his neck and cradles him.

MS. BERRY

But I do feel like that . . . !

She holds Mervyn gently at the waist with her left hand,

and kisses his cheek.

104

MS. BERRY (cont.)

Do you still have the key?

Mervyn pulls the hotel key from his pocket. Holding it

up to the light, it looks new, and shimmers in the

moonlight.

The number reads, `21′.

DUKES

Yes. I have it. Shall we

return to the hotel?

MS. BERRY

I do not wish to return to

anywhere that I know of.

He pauses to move a few stray hairs from her cheek.

DUKES

What of Sudan?

She stares back with glassy eyes, which seem bigger under

starlight than by searing sun.

Her eventual reply is breathless and sincere.

MS. BERRY

I do not wish to leave here. I

do not wish to leave you.

He looks back without any real estimate to a response.

DUKES

What of your husband?

She turns away to the side, and paces a few feet away.

MR. BERRY

I do feel terrible. Do not ever

think that I do not.

He waits for her to turn back round.

DUKES

I, too, am sorry for my part in

distracting you from your course.

Eventually she turns, and addresses him with severity.

105

MS. BERRY

Do not ever mistake my sorrow for

regret!

Her eyes seem to grow bigger and pulse.

MS. BERRY

My heart is full of regret . . .

But I am not sorry . . .

She pauses as the sentiment in her own words reverberates

around her lasting perception.

Mervyn is lost for a reply. His effort is poor . . .

DUKES

I guess things are to happen as

they may-

She interrupts, and slaps him hard across the right

cheek.

MS. BERRY

A knave! A slobbering horse!

He withdraws at the attack, and looks at her deeply.

They both kiss. He holds her for an age before releasing

her.

She breathes a slow breath and both collect themselves.

MS. BERRY (cont.)

I am warm now.

DUKES

But it will become more cold.

MS. BERRY

Then we shall leave.

DUKES

For the hotel?

MS. BERRY

Yes. For the hotel.

As they depart, we see that the embrace has taken place

beneath a staggering rock face of cascading emerald

106

stone. It stretches vertically over thirty feet high

into the sky, just as the Uganda waterfall did.

INT – THE VOYAGER HOTEL, FARADJE – MORNING

The following morning sun is bright.

We stare at a bare wooden desk in the entrance foyer of

the guest house. On the tabletop, there is a brass bell

which sits in the exact centre of the desk, and to the

right is a small frog.

Its skin is black, and poisonous yellow, just like the

one seen in Uganda.

It leaps off the desk in fright as the shadow of a

stranger looms over. A man’s hand reaches for the bell

and rings it loudly once, and then a second time.

It is William Berry. He waits impatiently for attention.

The African HOTELIER emerges from the side office.

HOTELIER

Yes?

Berry is emotionless.

MR. BERRY

I wish to procure a room. For

two nights.

HOTELIER

You are in luck. I have but one

room left.

MR. BERRY

Very good. Shall I pay now?

HOTELIER

You may pay when you leave. When

you have concluded your business.

He hands him the room key.

The key fob is rusty, and states, `22′.

107

MR. BERRY

Thank you.

HOTELIER

Can I help with your bag?

MR. BERRY

No. The bag and its contents I

shall keep with me.

HOTELIER

Very well, Sir. Can I take a name

for my register?

MR. BERRY

Mr. Berry. My name is Berry.

The hotel owner places a notebook onto the desk and

flicks to the current page.

Confusion mounts.

HOTELIER

Sir, it seems a room has been

registered to your good self.

Berry is stunned.

MR. BERRY

That is impossible, for I have only

arrived here this morning.

He scans the columns.

HOTELIER

No, a Miss Berry has already checked

in. I did not check them in myself,

it was my assistant-

MR. BERRY

Them?

Consternation gives way to blind anger. He tries to

compose himself.

MR. BERRY (cont.)

When?

108

HOTELIER

Just last eve. For three nights.

You are both to depart on the same

day. I presume she will be leaving

with you?

William looks at the guest register. It does indeed

state her title as `Miss’.

MR. BERRY

Yes. That is correct. What room

number does my sister occupy?

HOTELIER

Room 21. Just opposite your own.

Top of the stairs, just follow the

signs.

Berry has already started to gravitate towards the

stairwell. His words are distant, like a heavy

thunderstorm.

MR. BERRY

Thank you.

He moves towards the stairs and proceeds up.

The staircase up to the landing is dark, and Berry’s face

is clouded in shadow. At the top, an oil lamp burns

bright. His expression does not change.

Atop the stairs, he stands between his room and

Veronica’s. Pausing, he looks at both doors. He moves

to room 21 and knocks three times. There is no reply.

INT – ROOM 21, THE VOYAGER HOTEL, FARADJE – MORNING

Three knocks. Mervyn Dukes lies on the bed. Veronica

lies across him, her arm stretched out around his neck.

She is asleep. They lie with their heads pressed

together. He opens an eye. Again the knock is heard.

Berry sits up and moves her carefully to one side. She

does not wake.

Slowly, Dukes walks to the door. The tap is heard for a

third time.

Dukes opens the door. The latch clicks.

109

Darkness.

Silence.

DUKES (v.o.)

Bright is this morning. Unknown

destinations conceal charms and

pitfalls in equal measure. Summers

do not last forever, but summer

moments shall. She sleeps. Perhaps

she dreams of new domains.

Difficult to know what is hidden in

these places. But to neglect one’s

duty is to pay a penalty upon

oneself.

The door swings open.

Berry stands still in the doorway. Dukes looks at him

and does not speak.

Veronica sleeps. William sees her lying in the bed. She

is partially clothed, and the wind blows gently through

the window and kisses strands of her hair across her

forehead.

His expression does not change.

He carries a .45 military pistol.

Dukes looks at the weapon. Berry levels it to the

other’s chest and fires a single shot. The crack of the

mechanism fills the silent room. Dukes stumbles with the

impact.

Veronica wakes in a sudden move. Gripping the pillow

behind her back, she sits rigid and looks upon her

husband, who does not move. Smoke trails gently cascade

from the pistol breach. Berry’s features remain, like a

cold statue. Duke’s eyes stare deeply into his. A wash

falls over them as consciousness departs him.

Slowly he falls.

She shakes and cries.

Berry turns and leaves without a word.

Veronica leaps off of the bed and places both arms around

110

Mervyn’s waist. She falls to the floor with him as he

releases a painful last breath.

She looks down. His shirt absorbs the blood from his

chest wound in a perfectly circular blotch.

She cries, and holds him tight. She kisses his forehead

as he slumps awkwardly in the corner of the room. His

hand rests on her knee.

He does not move.

She whimpers and looks round the room as she rocks back

and forth with him. Life slowly drains from his face.

She looks up at a ceiling fan which turns under the soft,

morning air. It is a ghostly image. Slowly, the fan

gathers pace, faster and faster, until it cuts the air

with howling force. It continues to quicken, until it

spins like the turning blades of our Corsair. It hums

with delicate, reassuring persistence, and the voice of

the flying boat is heard.

Then it slows. The engine hum fades from the room, as

the ceiling fan turns at an increasingly slower pace.

Softness returns. Now it barely turns.

Finally the fan stops.

She looks back at him as tears run down her cheeks. She

does not let go.

Dukes’ head flicks back with muscle spasm, and the top of

his head strikes her chin. She starts with surprise.

Stunned, she places one hand over the chest wound and

feels the soft dampness of blood.

What is this?

She reels with shock. Carefully she reaches for his

breast pocket. Her hands react to the touch of something

soft and substantial. She pulls the object from his

pocket.

It is Mervyn’s journal.

The leather-bound diary is soaked with blood and tiny

shards of glass. A perfect hole penetrates its cover and

111

most of the pages. Contained within is a perfect .45

calibre round.

She pulls back in absolute shock.

Quickly, she rips the top two buttons from his shirt and

exposes his skin to the still air. She fumbles down his

shirt and around his left chest.

She feels something.

Withdrawing her hand, her fingers grip a small object.

She holds it up to the light. It is a tiny cork.

Dukes’ lifeless body coughs a desperate release. She

looks on in terror and confusion. The colour has drained

from her visage.

Dukes falls from his position in her lap, but she grabs

with both arms and steadies him. Her expression is one

of echoing stillness.

Mervyn breathes. It is a slight and difficult breath.

Her breathing is tight and unreal too.

Slowly, he opens both eyes. She looks on in disbelief.

Dukes reaches painfully down to his chest. His movements

are limited and his breathing painful.

He touches his chest. Without taking her eyes off of

his, she places the journal to his touch. He feels for

it, and clasps his fingers around it. The leather is

soft and warm.

Dukes looks up at her and stretches to place a hand on

her cheek. She grips him with all her might and coughs a

cry of happiness. Dukes is alive.

She kisses his forehead again and again and again as he

sighs. Veronica props him up next to her and takes the

journal from his hand.

Reaching behind her for the bedside table, she feels for

his silver pen. Taking the implement, she turns through

the blood-soaked journal and locates the final entry.

Pausing, she removes the pistol round from the book and

places it on the bedside unit. It is perfectly round,

112

and has no deformation.

Mervyn gasps, and tries to look at her.

She looks down at him reassuringly, and begins to write

on the last bloody page.

Closely we watch her shakily scrawl some letters across

the page. His blinking eyes struggle to make out the

words. He cannot see properly, but she smiles at him

with nervous excitement.

She writes, `Here it is hot. And now I understand.’

Mervyn fumbles for the pages.

She angles the book down so that he may see. She laughs

again, a nervy, disbelieving whimper, and grips him

tighter.

Dukes’ eyes finally settle on her handwriting. He sees.

He coughs desperately and reaches up, placing both hands

around her neck.

She laughs again and grips him firmly.

Slowly, we fall away from the couple, and withdraw out of

the window. Silence returns to the room, and the only

sound we hear is of distant and indistinct wild animal

calls.

It is hot out.

EXT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK – DAY

A snake of articulated, flat-bed vehicles make their way

up a steep incline. This scene is familiar, and we

remember it from where we first saw young Henry Stam and

his elephant.

Now the leaves part to a heavier, mechanical thunder. We

count five lorries in total. One carries a complete

engine unit for the flying boat, and the others carry

vast sheets of folded metal.

A man waves them on from the verge. He is Giuseppe

Lacovitch.

113

As they progress, we see the passenger in the lead truck

is Peter Newnham.

This is the salvage team from England. The impression is

of a vast and intricate operation.

DUKES (v.o.)

Two weeks have passed since the

aircraft has fallen.

The trucks round a corner and continue up the slope.

They are lumbering, noisy beast.

DUKES (v.o.)

The salvage team are here now.

They have many helpers, but this

is a serious undertaking.

We look out now upon the Corsair crash site.

A team of black locals have been conscripted to lift the

aircraft, by hand, from the murky river waters. They

form a line and pull with a rope. All are skinny and

topless, but working as a team, they get individual

pieces of the aircraft raised slowly from the lake.

DUKES (v.o.)

Our time must also come. There

will soon be a point where we must

also be raised from our squalid

seat and our noses be pointed

skywards once again.

EXT – GARAMBA NATIONAL PARK, BELGIAN MISSION – DAY

Dukes sits out front of the Stam home. Veronica lies

across him and he holds her gently. Both have

interlocked hands and are smiling.

Dukes writes in his journal. She simply watches him,

with a look of contentment..

DUKES (v.o.)

That time is not today. We wait

for the rainy season to return to

the Congo. But today, here, in

this place, it is hot.

114

She looks up at him and strokes his face.

DUKES (v.o.)

Veronica has her regrets. But I

am aware that they become more

diminished with each passing day.

I myself have only one regret,

and it is that I have reached the

last page of my journal.

Mervyn readjusts his posture and continues to write.

DUKES (v.o.)

This blood-drenched and tattered

compatriot to which I turn upon

regardless of where I am, or what

current flight it is that I pursue.

My time to write in this book is

also now limited.

Harry Stam moves up behind them and offers a glass of

orange juice to Veronica. Both her and Mervyn smile at

the Belgian, who pats Dukes on the shoulder.

He silently mouths the words, `thank you.’

DUKES (v.o.)

We all travel on borrowed time.

He and Veronica look out with contentment into the lush

and bright Congo, and both seem as if they have found

their place.

All around is calm serenity.

Animals are once more heard in the distance.

Slowly, he returns to his writing.

We notice he is near the bottom of the last page.

DUKES (v.o.)

So I shall end with this note of

thanks to you, my friend. A

soliloquy to your protection and

your confidence. You reassure me,

as this fragile and beautiful world

hangs by a sliver, above the jaws

of destruction.

115

She kisses his cheek.

DUKES (v.o.)

Summers do not last forever.

He holds her as he completes the paragraph.

DUKES (v.o.)

But summer moments shall.

FADE OUT

 

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Screenplay (full): Out of the Blue

Category: TV, sci-fi, pilot

Length: 25 mins

Option status (re-available)

(All material (c)2018 David Swinfen (commercial enquiries – http://www.davidswinfenassociates.com)

<Please email info@davidswinfenassociates for an industry standard PDF if you have any trouble viewing the below formatting>

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.

FADE-IN:

 

INT – CENTER FOR MINDFULNESS & WELLNESS (SF)

 

The white walls of the morbid little interview room do little to dispel the darkness. Using only a low-powered reading lamp, DOCTOR HARKS is conducting a mental capacity test on a patient.

 

Harks is middle-aged, bearded and very thin, his formality adding yet more of an oppressive feel to the room.

 

The interviewee is JIMI WESTWOOD, a tall lad with short, curly hair. Jimi, although 16 years old is subtly brain-damaged, giving him the mental capacity of a boy some four years younger.  This makes it difficult for Jimi to comprehend certain things, giving him a pleasant, child-like manner.  This is reinforced by his over-sized Lakers shirt and baseball cap.

 

In the background stands Jimi’s brother, SIMON. He is about 24 years old, has unkempt ginger hair and wears wire-frame glasses.  Simon has a demure way about him, brought about by his quietness.

 

Simon and Jimi’s parents are also present for the test. Both stand rigid and unmoving, but smile for Jimi’s sake.  AL is quite short, a little podgy, in his late 50’s.  He wears a shirt and tie..  HELEN is a good six years younger, and about the same height.  She is dressed in pastel shade.

 

Doctor Harks scrawls notes in pencil in the appropriate boxes on the question sheet. Jimi is visibly stressed by the test, as shown by his timid expression.  The doctor leans back in his pivoting chair in a fashion which is slightly too workmanlike for the family’s liking.

 

DOCTOR HARKS

Thank you, Jimi, you can relax now.

 

The youngster is unable to shake the deep concentration and tension from his face.

 

The doctor closes the cover of the question paper and swivels on his chair to face the parents.

 

Mrs. Westwood looks as tense as her son.

 

MRS. WESTWOOD

Well, Doctor.  How did he do?

 

Harks sighs.

DOCTOR HARKS

Jim scored a 65 on his IQ test.

 

  1. WESTWOOD

65?  Wha- what does that mean?

 

DOCTOR HARKS

Well if we take the average to be about

100…. Jimi certainly isn’t a rocket

scientist.

 

Harks laughs to break the tension, but all present are unable to share the joke.

 

MRS. WESTWOOD

So, do we need to worry or, or not?

 

DOCTOR HARKS

No.  There’s no serious problems here.

Jimi’s . . .  Jimmi’s just slow.

 

Both parents breath a sigh of relief. Simon looks on, with an indecipherable emotion on his face.

 

MRS. WESTWOOD

We noticed a long time ago.  Jim’s been

kept back twice at school.  Do you know

what may have caused this?

 

DOCTOR HARKS

Well…. it could be genetic.  Has anyone

in your family had a similar disorder?  A

parent, grandparent-?

 

MRS. WESTWOOD

No, not that I know of.

 

DOCTOR HARKS

Otherwise, it could simply have been some

kind of psychological trauma-

 

  1. WESTWOOD

Oh no.  Jim’s never been involved in

anything like that – he’s had a totally

normal upbringing.

 

DOCTOR HARKS

Anyway, I wouldn’t worry.

 

Al shakes the doctor’s hand.

 

  1. WESTWOOD

Thanks for clearing this up, Doctor.  We

appreciate being told straight.

 

Mrs. Westwood, although happy that Jimi’s problem is not serious, is still concerned. Her eyes have glassed over.

 

Simon steps over to comfort her.

 

SIMON

Come on, Mom.

 

He guides her to the door. Jimi follows, escorted by his father.

 

 

EXT – PARKING LOT – DAY

 

The family walk over to their metallic beige Jeep 4×4 car. Jimi’s father has his arm round his shoulder.

 

  1. WESTWOOD

Hey, Jim, what say I buy ya ice cream

on the way home?

 

JIMI

OK, Dad.

 

Simon opens the door of the car and his mother gets in the back. He climbs into the passenger side as his dad buckles down into the driving seat.

 

  1. WESTWOOD

Simon, we’ve been wanting to talk to you

about a small problem.

 

Another problem? Simon isn’t sure if he wants to here this.

 

SIMON

What is it, Dad?

 

  1. WESTWOOD

Thing is, me and Helen have to go to

New York to represent IEC at some trade

fair.  We was wondering if you could….

look after Jim while we were away.

 

SIMON

Well, I-

 

  1. WESTWOOD

It’d only be for a week.  You know-

 

JIMI

Me, stay with Simon?  Excellent!

 

SIMON

I don’t know if-

 

JIMI

I can help you with your science.

 

Jimi’s excitement is palpable.

 

SIMON

Well…. if it’s only for a week . . .

 

  1. WESTWOOD

Ha!  See, Hel?  I knew he’d understand.

 

Al playfully shake Simon by the shirt collar as he speaks. Simon still isn’t sure if this is a good idea.

 

  1. WESTWOOD (cont.)

(to Jimi)

And you, Son.  Well I’m proud ‘a ya.

 

Jimi smiles as his dad turns round and starts the ignition.

 

 

EXT – SIMON’S APARTMENT – DAY

 

The 4×4 pulls up to the side walk outside the 20-story building in down town San Diego. The Northern California sun is beating down hard as Al, Simon and Jim walk past the stone fountain which beautifies the forecourt of the otherwise simple apartments.

 

  1. WESTWOOD

I hope this ain’t no inconvenience,

Simon?

 

Al glances over to Jimi, who stands like a prodigy on the rim of the fountain, letting the spray cover his face and arms.

 

  1. WESTWOOD (cont.)

I know Jim can be…. well, a bit of a pain

at times.

 

Simon smiles for the first time.

 

SIMON

It’s no problem, Dad.

 

  1. WESTWOOD

I’ll drop his things off later.  Hey,

Jimi!  You be good for your brother,

you hear?

 

Jimi, silhoutted by the sun, turns round and waves. Their father walks back to the car.

 

Simon stands looking at his brother, wondering what he’s let himself in for.

 

 

INT – SIMON’S APARTMENT

 

Simon’s place is a reasonably large corner-suite about 8 floors up, but appears cramped and confined because it’s a total mess! Journals are spread across the table, a half-empty cup of coffee left on the desk, burnt toast in the toaster, large boxes holding scientific equipment cover most of the fake-marble floor, and papers and files lie everywhere.  The window is open, allowing the noise of the daytime traffic to spill in.

 

Simon enters with Jimi in tow.

 

SIMON

Home sweet home.

 

He immediately goes over and closes the window, locking it and placing the key in his chest pocket.

 

Jimi searches for something interesting to do, while his brother replays the messages on his answering machine:

 

GIRL’S VOICE

Simon, this is Janine.  Look,

something’s come up, an I’m afraid I

can’t make it tonight.  I’ll speak to

you soon-

 

The message cuts off even before the girl had finished speaking, indicating she wasn’t slow to hang up. Simon reacts with little interest.  Obviously he’s been here before!

 

The next message plays:

 

WOMAN’S VOICE

Message for Simon Westwood.  I’m pleased

to inform you your application for a

grant for the following season has been

accepted, and you may start work whenever

suits your schedule.

 

Simon leans back from the machine, and breaks into a smile. Things are definitely looking up.

 

WOMAN’S VOICE (cont.)

You’re budgeted for up to 10,000

dollars for this year.

 

 

WOMAN’S VOICE (cont.)

Congratulations, Simon.

 

SIMON

(mumbles)

I bet they had to scrape the moss off

the safe for that one.

 

Jimi’s lying on the sofa-bed fiddling with the controls on the front of the 14 inch, but he can’t get the TV to work. Simon notices his fidgeting.

 

SIMON

Oh, it’s broken.  I haven’t had time

to get it fixed.

 

JIMI

I think I know what the problem is….

 

Jimi’s got his hand round the back of the set.

 

SIMON

Jimi, It’s broken!

 

Jimi twists the power lead one more time – the picture springs to life. Simon doesn’t know what to say.

 

SIMON (cont.)

Sorry, Jim.

 

His brother seems barely interested.

 

JIMI

Where are we going, again?

 

SIMON

Paso Canto.

 

JIMI

Where’s that?

 

SIMON

About 200 miles away.

 

 

JIMI

Can we see the Canyons?

 

SIMON

I’m sorry, little brother, I don’t

think we’ll have time.

 

Jimi’s noticeably upset. Simon crouches next to him.

 

SIMON (cont.)

Besides, you’ll be too busy helping me.

 

Jimi breaks open a warm smile.

 

 

INT – CAR (MOVING) – DAY

 

Simon’s car is a battered, brown station wagon. The back partition is filled with a couple of suitcases and a lot of scientific equipment.  The back seat is taken up with blankets, water bottles and various other items.

 

The car is travelling at some speed over the flat, dusty wasteland that lies between city and town.

 

Simon’s head is cocked to one side. The long journey through the daytime heat is taking it’s toll.

 

JIMI

Are we nearly there?

 

Simon yawns, and replies with some agitation.

 

SIMON

Won’t be long now, Jim.

 

JIMI

Tell me again what we’re looking at.

 

SIMON

Well, there’s been several reports

about increasing instability along

the San Andreas fault.

 

Jimi looks mightily confused, but tries not to show it.

 

SIMON (cont.)

You see those hills over there?

 

Simon gestures towards the low-rise mountains visible in the distance.

 

SIMON (cont.)

That’s the coastal range.  There’s

been talk of increasing instability

in-  Basically, there’s been a lot

of small earthquakes within the space

of…. just a few days.

 

JIMI

Is that bad…. I mean, for the

people living there?

 

SIMON

Well, that’s why we’re here.

Personally, I can see an upside to

it – it clinched my grant this year,

anyway.

 

Jimi adjusts his baseball cap and looks out of the side window.

 

Their car cruises by, kicking dust over the green sign which announces their arrival in Paso Canto.

 

EXT – PASO CANTO GAS STATION – DAY

 

Paso is a small, dusty dirt-ball of a town located about 100 clicks north-west of LA. The gas stop pretty much reflects the town’s character.  There are several fuel canisters scattered around, a tiny back office and three or four vehicles that have seen better days.

 

Simon’s car pulls onto the front ‘court’ and rolls over, parking next to a battered pick-up. He and Jimi clamber out.

 

Simon looks around. So this is where he’s gonna be spending the next few weeks.  The sun’s no longer at it’s full strength.

 

JIMI

Is this Paso Canto?

 

SIMON

I hope not.

 

JIMI

Sime, I gotta go to the bathroom.

 

SIMON

(mutters)

Or the outhouse.

 

A low breeze lifts the dust, swirling it like a mini hurricane over the ground. Jimi covers his nose and mouth.  Simon yanks his shirt collar and they both run to the cafe located next to the gas station.

 

INT – CAFE

 

The small cafe is like a roadside joint inside – about as appealing, but with no road to get you outta there quick.

 

The only waitress in the gaff is STELLA, who is also the owner. She is talking to a customer / friend, RUDI KASDEN. Rudi has blond hair which is short but tall and unkept.  She is no older than 22 or 23, quite petite and attractive.

 

Rudi sits at the table with a folder, her literature spread everywhere. On the table is a newspaper, a half-empty pack of Marlies and a steaming cup of coffee which she occasionally stirs with the tip of a biro.

 

Rudi looks round briefly when Jimi and Simon enter the cafe. She resumes her conversation with Stella, who is cleaning behind the counter.

 

STELLA

Face it, girlfriend.  Things ain’t

gonna happen overnight.

 

Rudi’s accent is southern-fried but intimately gentle and warm.

 

RUDI

Well, it sure was a wasted trip.

I hardly got through the door before

I got my marching orders.

 

STELLA

What puzzles me is why you’re going

through all this to help drunks who

don’t have the sense to spend their

money on anything other than number 7.

 

Simon chooses a seat and hands a note to Jimi, who walks over to Stella’s counter.

RUDI

Oh Stel, it ain’t like that.  Being a

social worker isn’t so bad.

 

STELLA

There’s the money for starters.

RUDI

Yeah, but it’s also about-

 

STELLA

It’s also about getting out of this

hell-hole.

 

RUDI

I been thinking of moving anyways.

Trips up to LA have left me pretty much

strapped.

 

STELLA

Stick with it girl.

 

She finally notices the youngster standing there.

 

STELLA (cont.)

(to Jimi)

Yes?

 

JIMI

A coffee and a Coke, thank you.

 

Stella runs it through the till and the drawer opens. She hands Jim the change, but he fumbles it.  The silver scatters over the floor.

 

STELLA

Sorry, Hon.  I’ll bring the drinks

over.

 

Jim cringes with a childish embarrassment before stooping to recover the coins from the ground.

 

JIMI

Thanks.

 

Jimi returns to Simon at the table.

 

STELLA

(to Rudi)

Hmm…. Sweet kid.

 

RUDI

(absently)

Yeah.

 

Jim takes his seat opposite Simon.

JIMI

Tell me more about the San….

San-

 

SIMON

The San Adreas Fault?  OK, It’s like

a boundary between two major plates

in the earth’s crust.

 

Simon anticipates Jim’s inability to grasp the concept.

 

SIMON (cont.)

Alright, er….

 

Simon looks for something that might help him explain it. His eyes settle on two paper serviettes.

 

SIMON (cont.)

Pass me those napkins, will ya.

 

Jimi hands the two still-folded napkins to his older brother.

 

SIMON (cont.)

Right, pretend these are like pieces

of rock underground.  Over time, the

pieces shift….

 

Simon places one under the other and moves them apart to illustrate the principle.

 

SIMON (cont.)

…. and pull apart, causing

earthquakes, which destroy everything

on the surface.  And we’re here to

study the little quakes to see if the

Fault is getting much worse.

 

Both brothers suddenly become aware of the presence of Stella, who has brought the drinks on a tray.

 

STELLA

Guess there’s no point asking if

you’re the geologist everyone’s

talking about?

 

SIMON

Ah, I wasn’t aware I’d acquired a

reputation – not yet anyway.

 

STELLA

Well, nothing goes unnoticed in Paso.

 

Stella looks at Jimi, sensing the pleasent child-like aura that he carries.

 

SIMON

Oh, I’m sorry, this is my brother,

Jimi.

 

Jimi removes his baseball cap.

 

JIMI

Hello.

 

STELLA

And you are?

 

SIMON

Simon.  Simon Westwood.

 

STELLA

Oh yeah, someone called and booked

a wagon for you.

 

SIMON

A what?

 

STELLA

A caravan.  You were planning on

sleeping somewhere?

 

SIMON

Yes, it’s just….  Where do I collect

it?

 

STELLA

It’s parked just across the way.

 

SIMON

Thanks.  Here you go.

 

He hands here a few coins as a tip. Stella pockets the change and leaves.

 

EXT – DUSTY’S AUTOS – DAY

 

Dusty’s Auto repairs occupies part of the gas station. It consists of a tiny office and various vehicles for sale.

 

A rusty old cream-colored caravan only a few meters long. This is the best the people of Paso have to offer?!  The ‘vehicle’ looks as if it fought a war against the elements and lost.

 

SIMON

I’m beginning to wonder if I’d have

been better off waiting for a better

offer.  I mean this is….

 

Jimi appears more enthusiastic.

 

JIMI

Come on, Sime, let’s have a look

inside.

 

Jimi bounds through the camper door with youthful energy. His brother follows reluctantly.

 

The van’s absolute magic – it’s smaller inside than out.

 

Brown plastic panelling, a table (or is it a table mat?) and a threadbare chair form the ‘furnishings’, and the room is lit by a single 40 watt bulb – no lampshade.

 

JIMI

I’m first for the bunk bed!

 

Jim launches himself onto the high-mounted bed which is situated in a recess at the back.

 

There is a knock on the tin wall.

 

DUSTY, the proprietor, pokes his head round the corner of the open door.

 

DUSTY

Knock, knock.  You’re that scientist

fellah?

 

SIMON

Er, seismologist, yes.

 

The man’s husky whiskey-breath fills the tight vacuum of the van. Simon can’t help but shy away from him.

 

DUSTY

I brought you ya battery.

 

Dusty heaves a rusting 12 volt into the van. Simon isn’t entirely sure if it’ll work.

 

DUSTY (cont.)

Well, be seein’ ya.

 

Dusty turns to leave.

 

SIMON

Wait a minute!

 

The man stops.

 

SIMON (cont.)

What about a tap, or a bathroom,

or-?

 

DUSTY

Son, you seen the size of this wagon.

Jus’ be thankful you got the luxury

model.

 

Dusty wipes the perspiration from out of his armpit with a grease-and-oil-covered rag and exits.

 

Simon staggers around the tight confines of the van, wondering what to make of the situation.

 

JIMI

Don’t worry, Simon.

 

Simon turns to his younger brother.

 

JIMI (cont.)

This’ll be fun.

 

Both walk out of the van, where a man, CALVIN GALLEN is waiting.

 

CAL

Afternoon, fellahs.

 

SIMON

Hello.  What can I do for you?

 

CAL

You’re Simon Westwood.

 

SIMON

Question or a statement?

 

CAL

My name’s Cal.  Calvin Gallen.  Been

assigned to work with you.

 

SIMON

I wasn’t aware I had a partner.

CAL

Oh no, I’m workin’ on the other side

of the range.

 

SIMON

Oh.  Well, here’s my mobile number in

case-

 

CAL

01455 554316.

 

Cal reads Simon’s reaction.

 

CAL (cont.)

It pays to be prepared.

 

SIMON

I wish I’d been advised earlier.  I

might of been able to avoid this….

 

Simon points to the crumbling trash heap that’s going to be their home from home.

 

CAL

Shame.  Me, I can’t complain.  I

brought my own vehicle.

 

Cal gestures behind him at a gloriously spacious and sparklingly new mobile home.

 

CAL

Anyways, here’s my number….

 

Cal tucks a readily-scrawled piece of paper into Simon’s shirt pocket.

 

CAL (cont.)

In case yas need anything.  Later.

 

Calvin turns and walks back to his camper. Simon turns back to his…. shed.

 

JIMI

He seemed like a nice man.

 

SIMON

How come I never got a mobile home.

 

JIMI

Don’t be such a child, Simon.

 

EXT – DESERT OUTSIDE PASO CANTO – EVENING

 

Simon’s brown estate races across the wasteland with the battered old van in tow. The desert has an eerie and deathly cold feel to it now evening is approaching.

 

Inside the car, Jimi is asleep, curled up in the passenger seat, with a book entitled, “UFO: From Fantasy To Reality.”

 

A bone-jarring crunch is heard from the rear of the vehicle. Simon’s on the brakes even before he’s looked round to see what’s going on.  Jimi jerks awake.

 

JIMI

What’s going on?

 

The car comes to a stand-still. Simon races out to find the camper coupling snapped, and the van some 100 meters back down the trail.  It’s turned on it’s side, but doesn’t appear to be damaged – well, no more than when they got it.

 

SIMON

(mutters)

Perfect!

 

Jimi shifts himself into the driver’s seat while his brother is gone, and he begins playing with the indicator arms.

 

Simon stands by the camper van assessing the damage. He tests the weight to see if he’s able to turn it back onto it’s wheels.

 

The roar of the car’s engine starting up echoes along the salt flats. Simon turns and sprints back to the vehicle.

 

SIMON

Jimi!

 

Jim sits in the car scrunched into a ball, his arms covering his face. Simon reaches through the open window and turns the key, shutting the engine’s hum off.

 

SIMON

Damn it, Jim!  I told you not to

touch the god-damn controls!

 

JIMI

I didn’t do anything!

 

Jimi’s face appears honest yet contorted, bordering on tears.

 

SIMON

Well it didn’t start itself!  Jesus

Christ, what were you thinking?

 

JIMI

I didn’t- I mean I…. I only flicked

the side arms.

 

Jimi reaches for the arms extending from behind the steering column, but his brother bats his hand away.

 

SIMON

I told you not to touch anything.

 

JIMI

It wasn’t my fault-

 

SIMON

Yeah, well there’s no-one else here.

There’s no-one else here, is there,

Jimmy?  Huh-

 

ZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTT! The car radio buzzes into life, scaring Jimi almost out of his mind.  Simon glances at the electronic clock, which displays 88:88.

 

SIMON

What the hell is going on?!

 

He reaches for the radio, only to find the switch in the ‘OFF’ position. He smacks the panel, but to no effect.  Simon then wrenches the radio clean out of it’s mounting and dumps it in the back seat.  He yanks Jimi from the driver’s seat and sits down, grabbing the seat-belt on the way.

 

SIMON

Get in, Jim!

 

His brother complies. Simon sticks it in reverse and they speed back to recover the trailer.

 

EXT – DUSTY’S AUTOS – NIGHT

 

Simon crouches next to the estate car, which is elevated on a jack.

 

Dusty slides out from under the chassis on a trolley and wipes the oil off his hands, on what looks like the same cloth he had before.

DUSTY

Well, I checked ‘er from top to

bottom an’ there’s nothing wrong.

Points, capacitor, ignition,

coils…. everything checks out.

Course, if it’s still botherin’ ya,

youse can take one ‘a my cars-

 

SIMON

  1. I mean, no, that’s fine, Mr.,

ah….

 

DUSTY

Hayes.

 

SIMON

Hayes.  Erm, we’ll drive out in this

one.  Thanks.

 

CAL (off)

Westwood!

 

Simon turns to see Calvin Gallen running over the dusty surface of the car lot to see what’s going on.

 

CAL (cont.)

What happened?

 

SIMON

Boy, news sure travels fast, here.

 

CAL

No faster than your camper, so I’m

told.  What happened?

 

SIMON

The, er, trailer came unhitched, and

I went back to see what went wrong,

and then the car engine started up

while Jimi was in the driver’s seat-

 

CAL

(to Jimi)

Damn idiot!  Kid knows you shouldn’a

been messin’ with-

 

SIMON

It wasn’t Jimi’s fault, Cal.

 

Jimi breathes a sigh of relief, thankful that his brother stepped in.

 

CAL

Car didn’t start itself up-

 

SIMON

That’s not all.  The radio came on,

the ah, the clock went haywire.  It

was freaky, you know.  Look, I’m

gonna get some coffee, and try and

figure this out tomorrow.

 

Simon guides Jim towards the entrance of the cafe.

 

INT – CAFE

 

Stella’s pouring tea into a cup when the two enter. She glances over at them.

 

STELLA

You fellahs OK?  I heard what

happened.

 

PATRON (off)

Hey, Stella, you got anymore coffee

goin’ round?

 

STELLA

IN A MINUTE, VERN!

 

Stella hurries over to Simon and Jimi.

 

STELLA

Take a seat.  Come on!

 

She guides them to a table. On the way, she glances at Rudi, who has slumped asleep at the table in front of the counter.  Simon notices her.

 

STELLA

Poor girl’s at the end of her

teather, tryin’ to find the job

she wants.  Now what can I get ya?

 

SIMON

A coffee and a-  No, two coffees.

Black.

 

STELLA

Just relax, boys.  I don’t know –

You’ve been here only couple ‘a

hours and already you’re up to your

necks!

 

RUDI (off)

What’s going on?

 

The diminutive figure of Rudi Kasden stands behind Stella. She wipes the sleep from her eyes and runs her fingers through her blond mop.

 

STELLA

Our two scientists here, nearly

succeeded in killin’ themselves.

 

RUDI

What happened?

 

SIMON

We were, er, driving across the flats.

Maybe I hit a bump, I don’t know, but

the trailer got loose.  Anyway, when

I got back, the car was running and

all the electrical stuff was going

haywire.

 

Rudi notices Jim despite his quietness, which he always retreats into when people are around.

 

RUDI

You OK?  What’s your name?

 

She places a hand on Jimi’s shoulder. The kid reacts with a tense shiver.

 

JIMI

Er, Jimi- Ah, Jim….. Hi.

 

RUDI

Hi.

 

STELLA

Look, you boys wanna stay here

tonight?  I’ve got a guest room

above – An’ since there ain’t many

people interested in spendin’ more

than a day in this town, it’s just

wasted space.

 

SIMON

It’d be most appreciated, Ms….

 

STELLA

Stella.

 

The 40-year old woman slaps Simon on the back before leaving to get the coffees.

 

SIMON

(to Rudi)

So what’s your story?

 

TBC <ENDS>

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Bangkok’s illegally modified motorcycle noise makes being here a living Hell

I can’t find a precise translation for the Thai terms Vanz Boys or Dek Waen; the closest I have found so far is probably “noisy child.” It is truly remarkable that a city the size of Bangkok and with a global significance as the so-called gateway to Asia and hub of ASEAN has been totally surrendered to gangs of mindless motorcycle thugs.

Every morning before the rush hour, every afternoon at 3.30pm (school kicking-out time), then through the evening and late into the night, millions of Bangkok residents are plagued and punished by the sounds of a million illegally modified motorcycle exhausts cutting through their condo walls. This menace is preventing them from sleeping, causing irreparable hearing damage to everyone, and distress to babies and mothers alike. I live 27 floors up and the sound still rattles fixtures and fittings.

Welcome to the apocalypse. This is what a city looks like when its entire police force has given up. These reckless morons on their bikes, bouncing off the rev limiter in first gear at 110 decibels (well within human hearing damage realm), huddled low over their fuel tank, like a chimpanzee mating with a watermelon – this is the sound of now, and it’s intolerable.

There are already laws which make modifying and racing bikes illegal. They don’t work because the penalties are tiny and there is no will to enforce them. Bangkok will never be a first world city while its laws and public safety are ridiculed by defiant teenagers.

Any other city on Earth could fix this.

Bangkok’s biggest fault, as is the case when judging it from almost any angle, is its “Thai-ness.” A difficult thing to define, it typically means a flaccid approach to a common sense solution which COULD be applied, but when you mention it, the response you typically receive would be, “That will never change.”

We see the future of Thai-ness in full effect on Sukhumvit 77, at two o’ clock every morning. Come and see for yourself. In reality, it looks more like a failed state. There is a massive police station on the corner of Sukhumvit and On Nut, but one can only guess as to its function. I’ve lived on soi 77 for almost three years, and never once have seen a police officer stop any one of these noisy little idiots.

We cannot, sadly, just attach razor wire at head height between lamp posts. Firstly, because it would prevent normal people in cars from moving around; secondly, it would also be deemed an infringement of human rights (these punks are human?).

What then of the human right to not go deaf through the actions of others? One kid puts an illegal exhaust on his bike and through his own selfishness and arrogance damages the well-being of half a million people a day. How is this just? Tragically it is not one kid; about one in two bikes seem to be carrying illegal exhausts right now.

This fact in and of itself is amazing.

You cannot walk down the street punching thousands of strangers in the eardrum, yet if you own a motorcycle, you are allowed to do this via proxy and are left to get away with the pain you are causing. Here we see Thai-ness. It is selfishness. It is the thought for yourself, a lack of respect for others, and the absence of any kind of empathy or solution.

If you are found riding a bike with dangerous noise equipment added, you are a threat to public health. So the penalty should be severe. Any bike found carrying this equipment should be removed from the road and crushed into a cube. After one month, the boy’s family would be contacted, issued a massive fine, and told to come and collect their cube. Severe action should be taken against the bike shops carrying out these mods too, including immediate 3-year suspended prison sentences.

There has been much reporting in the media lately about illegal racing, accidents and deaths, people riding without lights, without a helmet. I personally can’t see a problem with any of these things, because any factor that brings swift death to these fools is to be applauded. We want you dead and off our streets, so please ride as fast as you can. This is Darwinian evolution, to some large and welcome extent.

But by itself it is not enough. These morons need sorting out.

You do this by hitting them where they hurt, in their tiny little dicks that they attach to these monkey-mobiles. Let’s sort this mess out and show that we, Bangkok, a city of 10 million, are not all retarded enough to let this continue.

But for now, all I want is a good night’s sleep.

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Understanding Public Relations

Zen of PR PR yourself to Success3-20140919-174939 front

 

The following chapter is an extract from “Zen of PR: PR Yourself to Success,” the first book in the Thai language pocketbook series, Zen of PR, available from all good book stores in Thailand, and also at:

https://www.se-ed.com/product/Zen-of-PR-PR-Yourself-to-Success-พีอาร์ตัวเองสู่ความสำเร็จ.aspx?no=9786163446077

 

Introduction

If ‘public relations’ summons visions of an oil executive waving his arms at a media scrum and protesting hopelessly that his company’s burst pipeline wasn’t responsible for destroying the lives of thousands, you’re not alone. This dirty side of public relations is so closely associated with the term that we wonder why on earth we would need any sort of PR when we conduct our business or manage our personal public profile in only the most well-considered manner. PR is the dark art of spin, mistruths and the massaging of facts to achieve outcomes that we honestly do not deserve.

In reality however, public relations is not any of these things. It simply defines the way in which we manage our messaging to the world. It is not only something to be used by growing small businesses or government departments; it is something we use all the time in our personal lives, from the images and updates we post on our Facebook pages to the things we allow friends to write about us on their family blogs. It is not a corporate bag of tricks designed to con people into buying things from our employer; it is a principal set of skills which allows us to be represented to the world properly, whether we are a business or a person.

One thing that should be made clear to all marketers, would-be celebs, entrepreneurs and small business owners right from the start is that using a public relations company to handle your PR is not cheap – several thousand dollars per month at least for a fully outsourced program. The cost is prohibitive to those of us who have little or no budget, and ironically we are the sort of people that would (and should) benefit from using PR the most.

What this guide will do is provide a detailed set of fundamental PR skills which will enable you to get into your first-choice college, get the right job, grow your modelling career, get your art exhibited at the right gallery, have the newspapers come to your boutique shoe shop launch, generate local support for your committee application, or generate a buzz about your new invention. It will provide you with ways to save a fortune on advertising costs and marketing mistakes, and contribute to making your business or personal journey a successful one.

Understanding what we want to achieve

Our first introductory heading here should perhaps have read, “Understanding what we want to achieve and why we all share the same goal.”

It is important to understand that Public Relations serves the needs of private individuals and businesses in exactly the same way. It enables us to increase the value of the work we are doing, regardless of the type of project we are working on or our final objective.

A marketing manager within a successful business may understand the value of using a well-defined PR program because it has the potential to create a larger market and a greater buzz about her company. Yet this is no different to a semi-pro photographer who has managed to get his work exhibited at a small local gallery and now needs journalists, camera manufacturers and the general public to rock up and see his work.

These two people share a common goal, which is to get their message across.

This is exactly what public relations skills enable us to do, step by wobbly step. So please come along with us on a journey we hope is interesting and adds unimaginable value to your business or personal endeavours.

Understanding how PR can help us achieve our goals

Public Relations, whether applied to our business/personal project by an expensive outsourced agency or by our own freshly squeezed PR skills, does ONE thing and one thing only; it AMPLIFIES our message. The message, or rather our messages, are the things we want people to know about us or our business.

Because we are all awesome in our own mental projection of ourselves, we each have many messages we would like to get across to others.

If we are a company, we have hundreds of sophisticated products (or solutions, as we have taken to calling them) which do many amazing things; if we are a rising celebrity, senator or councillor, we probably have presided over many members’ clubs and done lots and lots of selflessly epic charity work with animals which have wheels instead of back legs. In fact, there are many things that are unique and wonderful about us, and whilst the public should know these fascinating things over time, they cannot absorb everything at once as we will overload them with information.

So we need to look at the most important messages; those messages which convey all the exciting little things about our product or our personal profile that contribute to our brand being trustworthy, or the defining characteristic of our election campaign that will demonstrate to voters why they should vote for us.

These are our key messages.

The defining of effective key messages is essential to everything we do in PR. This point could not be hammered home with enough power if we were to nail it to a rocket and launch it at the Sun.

Without creating messaging which is clear, consistent, easy to understand, interesting and true, then even a public relations guru with decades of experience cannot help us – and seeking to engage such a person would simply waste our money.

We also do not need them.

Not, at least, while we’re at a stage where our entrepreneurial idea is just sprouting seedlings, or our business is small and growing, or our public profile is attracting some interest but we are not a local celebrity yet. We can empower all of these things by creating a great key message (or messages), and then amplifying them through the PR skills we will learn throughout this volume.

What would a PR company do if I could afford to use one?

Good question. Your PR partner does not design or buy advertising for you, and nor do they manage your events. The sole purpose of your public relations consultant is to support your own messaging, so regardless of whether you are seeking to use an agency or you want to go “guerrilla” and do the whole public relations thing yourself on no budget, getting your key messages right at the very beginning is super important.

The PR firm employs a team of consultants, media liaison and support staff, and yet their primary goal is the same as your own would be were you to go it alone – amplifying your messages.

Where your PR partner ultimately proves to be valuable is in media relations. The good ones will maintain strong (and personally friendly) relationships with many of the media organisations you are looking to use to promote yourself; crucially, this typically includes all of the daily newspapers in your city, perhaps some lower level connections at national TV companies, and a whole truckload of lifestyle and business magazine editors.

The relationship between a PR firm and its media partners is symbiotic; the magazines help to publicise stories and features on the PR company’s clients, and in return, the publication gets free and unlimited access to written and photographic content for use in the magazine (and sometimes advertising revenue). If you were to use a good PR firm and you wanted to be featured in a certain magazine, not only would they stand a good chance of getting you in there, but you would probably be having dinner with the editor the following week at a private function, organised by the PR team, at which you could present yourself and your product, and of course begin to build a personal relationship with the editor.

This is the fast-track advantage of outsourcing your PR, and it’s the primary reason why you will be charged an arm and a leg for the service; paying all those consultants a salary is not cheap. Note also that most PR firms work on six or twelve month retainer contracts, so for someone who’s developed a cool new product on a shoestring, the cost of PR’ing it professionally for a year is relatively astronomical compared to the few hundred bucks you’ve spent cobbling together your prototype for a 100% biodegradable television/vacuum cleaner/cocktail blender contraption.

We will come to Connecting with media & building relationships later in this volume. Right now, it’s only important that you understand what the PR company would have done for us could we have afforded to employ one.

Can I really do it myself?

The simple answer is that you do not have a choice, and so you’ve taken a great step in committing some time to developing your own PR skills. This, the first volume of Zen of PR, will equip you with key skills in public relations, with subsequent volumes providing you with a developing skill set which you can use to empower almost any sort of business, project or personal endeavour. Feel free to cherry-pick chapters from either volume as you need them depending on what you’re trying to achieve and the skills you may have already.

Actually, screw it; read them all, because the knowledge you will find is valuable, will save you making a few pricey mistakes along the way.

On a more DNA-centric level will probably change the way you think about company marketing or personal image-building entirely.

Examples of people who thought they didn’t need to know PR and what happens when they do

Case Study – “The Cook”

Imagine you have been working as a chef in a small Italian restaurant in your home city for seven years. You wake up one day and decide you need a change of pace and a risky new approach to grabbing life by the balls and making something of yourself; you can’t make pollo carbonara forever.

So you move from Europe to a modern Asian city and decide that you want to put your cooking skills to good use making money by offering a 5-star catering-at-home service. There is a strong appetite (pun intended) for fine Italian cuisine and foreign chefs of distinction in your new city, but so far nobody knows who you are.

If you had money to burn, this is where your PR partner would step in and launch you. However, since we’re new in town and fairly broke, we’re going to “guerrilla” it.

In putting together some sort of PR plan to help us, we need to develop at least a little situational awareness about the market we are operating in – not just for companies, but for would-be celebrities too. Our chef example here is a great case study, as he is both a business and a would-be celebrity.

One approach would be to have a nice photo portfolio made, to write your own one-page biography and short story and start sending it to magazines (a press release).

This will fail for a number of reasons.

Firstly, you are not known to your market, so you have little media magnetism or star power; secondly, you are not known to the media, and so you do not have the personal relationship necessary to even call on a favour.

Now imagine that instead of sending your bio and photos to magazines and newspapers, you send them to some mid-range hotels which you notice are advertising heavily in the very magazines you would love to be featured in.

You offer to provide a free one-hour cooking demonstration in the hotel’s restaurant as part of one of their weekly Sunday brunch offerings; a display in which you will unveil specially crafted rustic dishes in honour of your late grandmother, who created gastronomic treats from locally sourced Mediterranean ingredients, and now you will introduce this incredibly authentic Italian cooking style to your new city.

The hotel loves this because you’re working for free; they will assume you’re famous in Europe because they don’t want to offend you by asking, and they love it also because they now have something to feature in their next (usually boring) Sunday Buffet press release. The magazines are interested in running it because the hotel buys advertising every month and this will keep them from going elsewhere.

And you’re happy, because after sending a couple for emails and spending an hour cooking your favourite dishes in front of a small audience, you’ve walked out of the hotel with everyone taking your picture and uploading the images to Facebook – not to mention your free editorial in a luxury lifestyle magazine next month. You will probably be asked for business cards too, at which point you can introduce your 5-star home dining concept, so you’re pretty much up and running.

Total cost? Zero.

Case Study – “The Newbie”

Moving to a new city is always challenging, and it can be hard to make new friends. Imagine that, after accepting a new job in a new place, you’ve been out a few times and made four new friends; you are not close to any of them yet – they are just people you’ve chatted to and swapped numbers. You would like to grow your relationship with these guys, but they’re busy and do not always reply to your messages as they do not know you well.

One night, you decide to visit a local jazz bar and watch a singer perform. You’re not really that interested and the tickets are quite expensive, but you decide to accept the Facebook invitation and go anyway. When you arrive, the show is boring and you decide to leave half way through, but still take a few photos on your phone and upload them to your social sites.

Although you’ve not had a particularly fascinating time, your new friends have viewed the images on your Facebook, and the following day, two of the four people send you messages; something like, “Hey, looks like you had fun last night. What are you doing this Saturday? Any plans?”

What’s happened here is that we have, on an incredibly small and simple level, used the power of public relations to achieve our clearly defined goals, which were to make new friends and improve the quality of our existing relationships. We’ve done this through using photos, using social media, going to events (that actually are nothing to do with us, or even our work) and creating simple messaging which has engaged others.

Now consider a large car manufacturer launching a new car model at a luxury hotel. The company uses a PR team to amplify the messages supporting their launch, but instead of our lonesome newbie attending, the PR company sends five of its top consultants, and each has a network of 200-300 media, PR and professional people who are all being engaged by the PR company’s endeavours.

The result will be an utter media frenzy.

Remember – exactly the same principal: photos, social media uploads, networking, leveraging connections and growing profiles by being seen at events and showing others that they are socially and professionally active.

Both examples work on the same fundamentals, which are creating messaging, amplifying those messages and creating engagement. Although the lonesome newbie and the big PR firm are poles apart and attending different events with different objectives, they are using the same tools to achieve success.

It is precisely this reason why the power of PR is accessible to all, and why almost anybody can take advantage of positive improvements in their specific circumstances, be they business or personal, by learning key public relations skills.

That’s what we’re here to help you learn with these guides.

©2014 D. Swinfen, Phetraguy Publishing

Please visit our latest automotive blog, Just Drive Asia, for road tests, reviews, automotive news and auto lifestyle happenings across ASEAN and Asia Pacific

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25 Essential Men’s Style Charts

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Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

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1. Know the differences between American-, British-, and European-cut suits.

Know the differences between American-, British-, and European-cut suits.

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dapperq.com

And learn what different fabrics look like.

2. When it comes to buttons, follow these easy rules.

When it comes to buttons, follow these easy rules.

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artofmanliness.com

3. Before you throw on that shirt with that tie, STOP! And take a look at these helpful color and pattern combos.

Before you throw on that shirt with that tie, STOP! And take a look at these helpful color and pattern combos.

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beckettsimonon.com

4. This helpful guide to patterns can also help. From the center: suit, shirt, and tie combos.

This helpful guide to patterns can also help. From the center: suit, shirt, and tie combos.

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jlindman.tumblr.com

5. Speaking of patterns, here’s a helpful guide to punchy plaids.

Speaking of patterns, here's a helpful guide to punchy plaids.

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the-tweed-fox.tumblr.com

6. If you’re buying a suit, you should definitely try these ~quirky~ tricks.

If you're buying a suit, you should definitely try these ~quirky~ tricks.

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dappered.com

HUG IT OUT!

7. Once you’ve got your suit figured out, you can pick the best shoes to go with it.

Once you've got your suit figured out, you can pick the best shoes to go with it.

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modaparahomens.com.br

8. And about that suit… Here’s how it should fit.

And about that suit... Here's how it should fit.

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esquire.com

9. Still confused? Here’s a more detailed guide on how pants, shirts, and jackets should fit.

Still confused? Here's a more detailed guide on how pants, shirts, and jackets should fit.

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m.imgur.com

10. Here’s a helpful guide to the difference between different pants lengths. Typically, you’ll want something between a half and quarter break.

Here's a helpful guide to the difference between different pants lengths. Typically, you'll want something between a half and quarter break.

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learni.st

But it’s helpful to see what your options are.

11. Know your collar.

Know your collar.

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bows-n-ties.com

12. But wait! Maybe you’re in the market for a tux? Consider these rules…that you should break.

But wait! Maybe you're in the market for a tux? Consider these rules...that you should break.

View this image ›

blacklapel.com

View this image ›

13. First things first: Here are what colors go with other colors.

First things first: Here are what colors go with other colors.

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paris-to-go.com

14. For the best sleeve roll ever, try this simple technique.

For the best sleeve roll ever, try this simple technique.

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esquire.com

15. Figuring out the difference between business casual and smart casual and semi-formal can drive you batcrackers. This should help:

Figuring out the difference between business casual and smart casual and semi-formal can drive you batcrackers. This should help:

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blog.mannixmarketing.com

16. Looking for a simple way not to muck it up? May we suggest:

Looking for a simple way not to muck it up? May we suggest:

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manolith.com

Not that you needed to be told not to wear a Guy Fieri fire shirt.

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17. Learn the key to a totally boss pocket square.

Learn the key to a totally boss pocket square.

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raddestlooks.net

18. Bow ties? You got this.

Bow ties? You got this.

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alonestranger.com

19. Are you ready for this? Eighteen ways to tie a necktie. EIGHTEEN WAYS! That’s a lot of ways!

Are you ready for this? Eighteen ways to tie a necktie. EIGHTEEN WAYS! That's a lot of ways!

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realmenrealstyle.com

20. Learn the secrets of the universe — aka how to put on cufflinks with the greatest of ease.

Learn the secrets of the universe — aka how to put on cufflinks with the greatest of ease.

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duchessclothier.com

21. Keep your scarf game on lock.

Keep your scarf game on lock.

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lifehack.org

22. Not sure what the difference between an Oxford and a loafer is? NOW YOU KNOW!

Not sure what the difference between an Oxford and a loafer is? NOW YOU KNOW!

View this image ›

thinglink.com

23. Find the right sunglasses to make you look like a rock star.

Find the right sunglasses to make you look like a rock star.

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sunglasswarehouse.com

View this image ›

24. Here’s how to properly pack your shirts to maximize space and minimize annoying wrinkles.

Here's how to properly pack your shirts to maximize space and minimize annoying wrinkles.

 

Have you had any experience with Choi Heo yogichoi (초희 Korean #yogichoi) ? We want to hear from you!  Please share your story at elixirbar@hotmail.com

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Growing a fanbase and engaging followers

FIN_Zen of PR BOOK TWO COVER

The following chapter is an extract from “Zen of PR: Rising Celebrity, Growing Business,” the second book in the Thai language pocketbook series, Zen of PR, available from all good book stores in Thailand, and also at:

https://www.se-ed.com/product/Zen-of-PR-PR-Yourself-to-Success-พีอาร์ตัวเองสู่ความสำเร็จ.aspx?no=9786163446077

 

Introduction

Whether we are a rising celebrity or we own a tiny but growing brand, we are one and the same; and one of the most important elements of getting us out there is social media. As the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LINE, whatever, permeate every aspect of our life these days, the borders between work and play have become very blurred.

This is exactly what life is like for a public relations professional, and so you have recognised that you are no different to a PR pro in terms of how you connect with the world and its demands upon you. Your colleagues and clients are friends, and friends of friends; your drinking buddies are now consulting for your company, and your company is looking to create events to enable media professionals to drink for free – it’s all part of the dance; the modern, 24-hour, ‘always-on’ working world of trying to PR ourselves.

When we attend an evening product launch because our work demands that we go, we are networking and having fun; when we go to a charity event with no work commitment involved, we are connecting and developing our social profile and our business visibility. Work and play, play and work – it’s now all integrated. And it is social media that straps this mess together and enables communication across our many social groups, and the cataloguing of our bundles of professional connections.

We’re not going to discuss the individual social media platforms in detail for two reasons; 1) there are millions of social media marketing articles on line, so you’ve got plenty of bedtime reading to do already, and 2) you are probably familiar with most of them – that thing in your pocket that keeps beeping, bonging and frying you with cellular radiation takes a copy of all of your private information every few seconds and integrates it with those of your friends and connections for the purposes of selling you advertising.

This chapter will give you a more strategic overview of how to interact with your followers and fans, integrate your platforms, and leave the tactics bit to freelance marketing bloggers.

Starting out

For wannabe models, MCs, TV presenters, actors, artists and musicians who want to build a following, a logical starting point is Facebook. This is because most people use FB already, and therefore you have a group of ‘followers’ with which you are already communicating. This chapter is also highly relevant for those looking to grow their business connections too, as in the last chapter we encouraged you to go and meet new people, and here we will explain what you can do to engage them after meeting them.

If you’ve ever posted something witty, intellectual or inspired on Facebook and received lots of likes and positive replies, you’ll know that engaging people with content in a way they appreciate and enjoy is immensely rewarding. In a way, Facebook has allowed everyone in the whole world to become their own publicist.

This is not necessarily a good thing.

It can be very easy to upset, offend, disparage or otherwise unfairly dismiss people with an ill-considered comment. This does not affect us because we know our key messages and we understand that our social media endeavours support only the amplification of those key messages.

This raises us from being a mere public user to being a professional PR practitioner.

For very small businesses and low-level celebrities, it’s possible to conduct all of your Facebook interaction via your personal page. However, it makes more sense to create a page for your business or public profile as a separate entity. Individuals can use the “Create Page – Artist, Band or Public Figure” option; businesses can use either “Create Page – Brand or Product” or “Create Page – Local Business or Place.”

Creating a separate page frees up more options for posting involving content, beautifying your page, and crucially, purchasing adverting.

Facebook advertising: when is it appropriate?

As someone looking to quickly grow a following, one of the first strategies you will already have considered is to advertise on Facebook. In theory, the ability to create incredibly tailored campaigns to target ONLY customers and followers who (by their nature) are interested in you or your product, should be revolutionary, and many a business plan is built upon it.

After all, if you’re selling plastic toys to cosplay enthusiasts aged between 40 and 45 within three kilometres of Manila, that’s a pretty specific market, right?

The problem comes when you realise the 5000 fans you’ve joyfully amassed in the last month of buying Facebook advertising are not actually interested in you or your product; they are “click-farmers” – people paid to like pages.

The second wave of annoyance will crash through you when you realise that, in addition to paying for advertising, you also have to pay for every post you wish to be seen by more than two or three of your followers.

Couple these two considerations together and what you’ll surmise is that you’ve paid hundreds of dollars to connect with Turkish and Indian robots who have no interest in your product, and then paid hundreds of dollars more to push specific posts to these robots, again, yielding absolutely no value.

And so Facebook, as an advertising solution, sits somewhat at odds with the very reason you’re reading this book – to amplify your public visibility without having to resort to expensive or ineffective methods. Throughout Zen of PR, we’ve tried to teach you to think like a PR pro and spend no money whilst achieving incredible results – so we can do better than Facebook adverts.

However …

Where Facebook’s valueless hordes of unreal followers become valuable is in our initial foray into public life. If we are just embarking on our route to being a famous businessman, politician, painter or rock guitarist, we paradoxically need at least some likes.

The quickest way to do this is with Facebook adverting.

An inalienable truth of human nature is that we are pack animals, or at least social creatures, and so we move in herds. A page with a large number of likes, real or otherwise, is more likely to attract real likes. You will need to determine the size and pace of growth of your flock you before you start throwing cash at the Facebook advertising equation.

It’s also worth noting that as a paying customer of Facebook, you are rewarded with absolutely zero customer support at all. If something goes wrong with your payment method, billing frequency, the advertisement itself, or indeed anything else, you’re on your own. You can fill in a “broken feature” request form, but they are not generally replied to. As is common these days, all there is for help is a Frequently Asked Questions section, which by nature cannot address your individual issue. Facebook’s paid service always has, and continues to, feel like a hastily added cash-gathering (shareholder-appeasing) feature which was neither planned properly nor integrated properly. If you accidentally set a small ad campaign as 1000 dollars per day instead of 10 dollars by putting the decimal point in the wrong place – again, you’re screwed; there is nobody to help you at all.

If you’re still unsure about the Facebook ad quandary and you have an external web site, you’re better off going with Google Advertising – simply because it’s targeted at people who are actively searching for your content.

Tweets: breaking news and endless noise

Twitter is the SMS of the internet. 140-character messages can be crafted in seconds and immediately relayed to the handsets of anyone who follows us. The value of this fact alone is unimaginable, and yet there are still companies … digital marketing companies, even … who are unable to harness the value of this microblogging site.

The true value of Twitter is its immediacy. Often, journalists turn to it for information;
that’s how important it has become. If we want to know about a disaster happening on the ground in real time, we use Twitter, because media organisations are too slow to provide us with information. And since we are seeking to connect and provide content to journalists, time invested into learning Twitter is relevant to the objectives of engaging the media in us and our content. It’s also worthwhile in building relationships and ultimately growing our own profile.

Be warned though; it can take quite some time to build a following. The way to do this is to leverage ALL of your digital media platforms, connect them, co-promote them, and merge followers between sites. Once your Facebook followers become your Twitter followers, THEN you’ll start to see more people coming to real events you have created (or to those at which you are appearing as a guest speaker, and so on).

Actions speak louder than words

Or rather, ‘press coverage is stronger than advertising.’ This is the entire premise on which professional public relations and its engagement with the media landscape actually works, not to mention, how PR companies sell their services to clients. We may not be able to afford to pay a PR company, but we can learn well from this widely-held absolute.

In terms of social media, this means that throwing money at advertising our product, our election campaign or our beautiful face is LESS effective than posting a nice photo of us repairing a village well and feeding sick animals. People want to connect with things that inspire them, make them happy or interest them; posting images of yourself at a small public event might not attract media stakeholders – but if one of the images shows a hip photographer taking a picture of you as you MC the event, then more will follow, simply because you (or what you are doing) are perceived as being of interest.

Think in terms of our insatiable desire for content. Did you ever pick up your smartphone, skim through Instagram and LINE timeline and sigh because there was nothing engaging? Of course you did … probably even this morning. This is exactly the space in which you need to exist as a content provider – filling the vacuum that is desperate for something interesting to talk about. They want to talk about you – both the public and the media. You’re here to help, and your success will be a by-product.

Struggling for inspiration? You are able to provide interesting and inspiring content only by going out there and creating it; go on a charity trip, photograph yourself doing it, then tell the world about it.

If you live an interesting life, have interesting connections and interesting viewpoints on a wealth of relevant topics, people will likely be interested in you.

Other spaces in which you need to be

WordPress is SO important to you that it’s worth persevering with its universally unintuitive (this is IT speak for “shit-difficult”) interface.

Google likes WordPress; WordPress articles carry significant weight in search results, and because Google likes WordPress, you must like it too. WordPress is also great where you would like to have a good-looking website with regular new content but have no budget at all to pay a web developer to create one for you. It is still free, and the “choose a template” functionality enables you to be up and running fairly quickly. Then all you need to do is add posts.

As mentioned earlier, your collection of platforms should be integrated as much as possible; your Twitter should be set to automatically tweet your Facebook posts, and your blog page should make a regular call to action for people to follow you on Twitter, etcetera … and round and round we go.

It’s possible to compose thought-provoking journal entries and interesting opinion pieces on-line on the WordPress web site, but if you’re a PC user, try Windows Live Writer (in Live Essentials), as it really is a fast and clean tool for stress-free blogging. There are several apps which work almost as well on Mac, too.

Supporting real life with digital activities

So, the purpose of all of this tweeting, pressing, liking and co-promoting is to … do what, exactly?

If you’re about to answer with anything other than “Amplify my key message,” then hit Book 1 Chapter 1 for a refresher. Why are we here? It’s to do this ONE thing and one thing only.

All of this effort we are putting into creating and managing our social messaging sites is invested to support our “real life” initiatives. Our aim is to organise and direct the incredible communication power of all of these platforms, point them in the same direction and fire our key messages to people that matter.

Whilst our social media sites enable us, as part-time celebs or small business owners, to gather and harvest real (and not real) people to follow us and make us feel more important, what we’re actually doing is using it to grow our network of media connections, and increase the value of those connections.

We do this through creating content based on our key messages.

In the previous chapter, we looked at “Connecting with media & building relationships” – this is exactly the reason why social media is important to the success of our business or the popularity of our public profile; it is not to tell people about our product or show off our latest bikini shoot; it is to foster valuable connections by showing to media and to other attachments that we are capable of producing valuable and relevant content.

This in turn enables us to deliver of our key messages.

A final word of warning

DO NOT base your entire communication strategy solely reliant on just digital/social/new media (however you wish to define it). Those who work in digital marketing will tell you that you will only be successful by operating in the digital space, and that traditional PR companies and old-school shops and organisations will not survive.

Be careful.

Whether you are a celebrity, an artist or a business, you need to be active in both the digital world and the REAL WORLD.

When we’re thinking of buying a car, we visit the manufacturer’s web site, download the PDF brochure, sign up to the mailing list, play games on their microsite .. in fact, we engage with all sorts of clever digital channels.

And yet, when we are ready to commit to buying a car, what do we do?

We walk into the dealership, talk face-to-face with a human, touch the car, test drive it, read the hard copy contract, and then choose whether or not to buy it.

All of these are REAL WORLD activities.

Never neglect a real-world presence and rely solely on winning fans or customers through digital or social media – you will be committing digital suicide.

Understand the awesome power of the traditional public relations actions we have learned so far, and use it to empower yourself; then look for other channels which will help you become the celebrity you want to be, or the successful business owner you always dreamed of.

©2014 D. Swinfen, Phetraguy Publishing

Please visit our latest automotive blog, Just Drive Asia, for road tests, reviews, automotive news and auto lifestyle happenings across ASEAN and Asia Pacific

 

 

 

 

Have you had any experience with Choi Heo yogichoi (초희 Korean #yogichoi) ? We want to hear from you!  Please share your story at elixirbar@hotmail.com

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