ENABLED (synopsis by Vince Tourangeau

While the action’s happening in the visuals, Elizabeth tells the story of Edgar’s drug use in captions.
The visuals:
A shot of Edgar in silhouette sipping a glass of water. Then we have the standard Bondian expository-torture scene. In the top floor of an opulent office tower, a roughed-up Elizabeth is held hostage by a corporate villain named Archibald Cranston (who bears a striking resemblance to Richard Branson). They’re in a high-tech lab. He’s explaining his Master Plan: to use the  drug she invented to predict the future and seize control of the stock market. But since she kept the process for creating it, he has to get the information out of her so he can do so himself.
He’s about to inject her with a syringe full of scopolamine, a truth serum, when the syringe shatters – it’s been shot by Edgar. (Edgar looks a little dodgy, like he’s been on a bender for a week.) Realizing the jig is up, Cranston flees from the room while Edgar frees Elizabeth using a knife. They chase after Cranston and see him run down a long hallway. Cranston rounds a corner. Edgar throws his knife down the hall at what’s apparently empty space. Before it hits the wall, though, a thug appears carrying a gun. The knife hits his hand and he drops the weapon. The two heroes reach the end of the hall, and Elizabeth disposes of of the Thug with a left hook.
They round the corner and run up a short stairway. They find themselves facing a locked door with a 5-digit numeric keypad lock. It’s the access to the roof, and they can see Cranston on the other side, strapping something on. Elizabeth curses that Cranston will get away; Edgar says not to worry – there are only ten thousand possible combinations, so he can filter all of those futures to see the one where he enters the correct code, and reads the code from that one. He enters it and they get through.
On the roof, they see a glass-covered box which reads “In case of emergency, break glass.” Inside it is some jetpack-looking thing. Beside it is another such box, only this one has the glass broken and the jetpack’s missing. They run towards Cranston, only to see him take off with his jetpack. Elizabeth puts on the other one and is about to take off when Edgar stops her – and tells her that the jetpacks are faulty and Cranston’s will fail in just a few seconds. Closeup of Cranston as his jetpack fails and he plummets to the ground.
While travelling back to Holmes HQ, Elizabeth tells Edgar he looks worse than her, even though she’s been tortured. He needs to quit the drug. Edgar agrees, and says that he can’t take seeing all of the futures where things go wrong and he fails to save loved ones from dying in horrible ways. He hands a bottle of drugs to her.
The captions tell this story:
Elizabeth was working on a new intelligence-enhancing drug that was being tested on volunteers from Holmes Inc. By taking a drug extracted from a rare, seldom used, brain-boosting plant (let’s call it Bacopa Tiberius) and bombarding it with positrons [Note: This is total BS, of course, but I thought it would be neat to have antimatter in here somewhere since antiparticles can actually be thought of as regular particles travelling backwards through time] she created something that gave test subjects a bit of a boost in cognition, but had some nasty side effects: hallucinations, reported by all the testees except for one, terrifying dreams leading to insomnia, and showed signs of being highly addictive. The intelligence boost just wasn’t worth it. Shortly into the experiment, she shut down the trials due to the side effects. She held onto her notes, though, and tucked them safely away, and went back to the drawing board.
While still working with the same plant on a variation of the drug, she noticed that there was increase in the global demand for the plant it was based on, causing the price to spike. The timing seemed more than coincidental, and she suspected that someone might have gotten ahold of her notes. She tracked the new buyers for the plant down to a PO box in London, and there the trail went cold. She realized who was behind it, though, when she thought about who might have been able to find her notes and break the pseudo-random one-time pad used to encrypt them: the one test subject who didn’t report the hallucinations – Edgar. [I’m not terribly satisfied with this explanation for how she tracked him down, so any nudges in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.]
She confronted him. He was indeed manufacturing the drug on his own, and experimenting on himself because of the effect it had on him. Rather than causing hallucinations, he was able to see a few seconds into the future. At least for him, the hallucinations weren’t hallucinations at all – they were all possible futures, but using his great brain, he was able to figure out how to filter through them and use the knowledge to his gain.
He was able to use the effect it gave him, to save lives. But he had also become addicted. And the more he used the drug, the less of an effect it had on him as his body adjusted to it. Right now, it’s down to just a few seconds.
I want to combine Elizabeth saying something like “The problem with drugs is that no matter how good they seem, sooner or later… you crash” with the image of Cranston plummeting down to earth after his jetpack fails.
When Edgar hands her the bottle of drugs, she says that she wants to believe he’s going to stop taking the drug. But she has no idea how much of the stuff he has stashed away. She’s worried he’ll stay on the drug and his outlook of the future will get shorter and shorter.
I love the idea of the captioned narrative and the visuals mixing together in a pas de deux dance throughout the story, as you’re suggesting.  This will require finesse, but it’s a sound idea.  I like the “crash” line coming with the jet pack crash, and no doubt the “three seconds into the future” caption as Edgar throws the knife.  Do it right, and it’s poetry.  The epitome of the “incongruous narrative” form.  Lovely. It’s also a very intriguing story to think about for the readers, and I love the ending with his not wanting to see the futures that include people dying…nice.  BUT, speaking of that precog power….I have some nits to pick about the way it manifests itself: 

The gag about opening the lock by visualizing all the possible combinations, and figuring out which one is the correct future suggests Edgar actually can see into the future, like a bona-fide superpower. If you REALLY sell me on the antimatter,particles-anti-time quarks that are in the formula (which would take a fairly large particle accelerator to create in abundance, unless Artie has a pocket one.) and convince me of the precognitive powers as more than just Edgar being super-duper smart now, I’ll buy that scene.  BUT…it takes away from the idea that Edgar’s genius brain is the one aspect that is required to make the pre-cog pills work.  If it’s ALL the pill’s doing, because it has anti-time particles in it, it diminishes Edgar a bit…

Mr. Pincombe had this to add about adding more directly clever moments to the script:
I think we’ve lost the deductive aspect of the drug with all the ideas this story juggles. I have a much easier time believing certain areas of Edgar’s brain are functioning at a higher level and he is literally deducing the future a few seconds ahead as opposed to actually having future sight. It’s a smaller gimmie to me.
If we see some of Edgar’s  process, like his thoughts or a couple of lines of dialogue, the reader may accept it easier as well.  Then we have how Elizabeth tracked him and Edgar’s advance site as proof of the Holmesian smarts!

Now, that’s probably where I went wrong with the key-pad scene.  For me to believe Edgar could “deduce” a combination with a  1 in 100,000 possibility outcome,  required a different level of gimmie than knowing the jetpack would fail and the bad guy would come around the corner at the right time.  One is a super-power, the others are just amazing feats of deduction.

So:  As all writing is a form of communication, you’ll have to make clear to the reader whether or not this wonder drug is ACTUALLY allowing Edgar to peer into the ACTUAL future, or he’s just super-deducing likely outcomes at an alarmingly super-human level.  Make sure the reader knows which is which.   I’m happy with either outcome, but less happy if you mix back and forth between the two.  Ambiguity isn’t fun in a five page story, like it is in a two hour movie.


The “BREAK GLASS FOR JETPACK” gag is a bit too corny for the sophistication of the rest of the narrative.  Could you have them hidden in a secret closet or something, not available to anyone who wanders by.with a hammer?  If you’re wedded to the gag, convince me of it in a story map.

How does the Richard Branson character know about the drug?  If only Holmes family people knew of its manufacture, doesn’t that mean Branson-Man outsmarted them, or successfully spied on our heroes?  That needs dealing with, no?

As Rob said to me, there’s enough good ideas here to fill a full book, and that’s what I like to see.  It’s an editor’s job to help reign the ideas into the spaces available, but always the writer’s job to come up with as much as he can.  Have fun cutting it up into pages and panels, it’s most of the way there.  Cement out the workings of the pill, explain how Branson knew wtf was up, and have fun.  This is a terrific set of ideas that’s going to explode on the pages.

Ty the Guy

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