SAFE: Script by Aaron Feldman (with notes)

SAFE
Script by Aaron Feldman

Page 1

Panel 1: Exterior. A hot day in arid texas. A YOUNG ELIZABETH (age 9 or so) is running on an obstacle course, similar to those seen in army movies during the boot camp montages. At this stage she is leaping over a wooden hurdle. Watching her is her father, JOHN WATSON (late 40s early 50s).

CAPTION: Texas, USA. 20 years ago…

YOUNG ELIZABETH: Aconitum. Also known as Wolfsbane or Monkshood. Plant from the Ranunculaceae family. Lobed leaves, with blue or white flowers.

YOUNG ELIZABETH: Target dies about 2 to 6 hours after being administered a lethal dose.

Panel 2: Closeup of Jack Watson’s stern face. Reflected in his sunglasses, you can see Young Elizabeth crawling through a trench.

JACK WATSON: Very good.

JACK WATSON: Art of War. Lines 18 to 25.

Panel 3: Young Elizabeth is now out of the trench and running headlong towards a chain-link fence in her path.

YOUNG ELIZABETH: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive.”

YOUNG ELIZABETH: Uh…

YOUNG ELIZABETH: “When we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when we-”

Panel 4: Young Elizabeth grabs hold of the fence, ready to scale it, and is rewarded with a painful electric shock.

SFX: ZZZCKP!

YOUNG ELIZABETH: Nnn!

Panel 5: Young Elizabeth is now lying at the foot of the fence on her back, cradling her injury. Jack Watson stands above her. If not already shown, I’d like to get a clear shot of his gun, the Smith and Weston variant, holstered at his belt.

JACK WATSON: “All warfare is based on deception.”

JACK WATSON: Had the fence hooked up to a generator last night.

JACK WATSON: Always be aware of your environment, Elizabeth. Never stop looking for clues.

Because next time, it might not just be 50 Volts. The next time could be your life. Do you understand?

Page 2:

Panel 1: Young Elizabeth still lying on her back, cringing in pain.

YOUNG ELIZABETH: Y- yes.

JOHN WATSON: Yes what?

Panel 2: Parallel panel, only now Elizabeth is 20 years older (so, late 20s). She’s in a similar position, wearing her Holmes incorporated suit, which is badly torn. No longer in Texas, she appears to be lying in a jungle clearing. Her left leg appears to be broken (though not grotesquely). Blood trickles down the side of her mouth for effect.

CAPTION: “Yes, dad”

Panel 3: Pull back to reveal her lying not too far away from the wreckage of the crashed Deerstalker. Bits of flaming debris are strewn about, trees in the Deerstalker’s path have been knocked over, etc. No other bodies can be seen besides Elizabeth.

CAPTION: Now.

TITLE CREDITS

Panel 4: Elizabeth, face hard, manages to roll onto her front.

ELIZABETH: *gnuh!*

ELIZABETH (CAPTION): Get up.

Page 3:

Panel 1: Elizabeth starts to crawl out of the clearing towards the shelter of some trees, her left leg dragging behind her.

ELIZABETH (CAPTION): Left leg broken. Crawl. Get to safety.

ELIZABETH (CAPTION): Keep moving. Stay awake.

ELIZABETH (CAPTION): Stay alive.

Panel 2: Now under the shade of a large tree, she pulls herself up by a branch into a sitting position. At her wrist (or wherever we think an intercom should be located… earpiece?) a voice crackles to life.

NUMBER 2 (ELECTRONIC): *fshz* -beth, are you there? Elizabeth? What’s going on!?

Panel 3: Elizabeth is now breaking off the branch.

ELIZABETH: I’m here, 2. Deerstalker destroyed by unknown source. Crashed into the jungle. Mission failure. Nothing learned about the abduction of every left-handed child from San Vicenta.

NUMBER 2 (ELECTRONIC): Never mind the mission. What’s your status?

ELIZABETH: Alive, for the moment. Broke my leg and at least one rib. Sustained a concussion. I’ll need medical attention when I return.

Panel 4: Number 2’s control room. This can just be his desk, but I’d like to have some monitoring equipment, intercoms, and video surveillance for the purposes of this story. An idea I thought of was showing a screen of the interior of one of the Deerstalkers, where Artie is riding with other members of Holmes inc. Another screen, which should be showing Elizabeth’s Deerstalker, is just registering static. Number 2 is leaning into his intercom.

NUMBER 2: Help is on the way. I’ve sent another Deerstalker to your location. They should be there within the hour and get you to safety.

Panel 5: As Number 2 ends the conversation, one of the video screens comes to life with Artie looking at the camera.

ELIZABETH (ELECTRONIC): Roger that. Will stand by.

SFX: Click!

ARTIE (ELECTRONIC): Holmes Inc. Are you there?

Panel 6: Number 2 facing Artie.

NUMBER 2: What is it, Artie?

ARTIE (ELECTRONIC): We just picked up a distress call on the Deerstalker. There’s a hostage situation in the UN’s Geneva headquarters. It’s looking to get real ugly, real fast.

ARTIE (ELECTRONIC): We could probably handle it, but it’ll take a few hours to retrieve Elizabeth.  Do you want us there as soon as we rescue her?

Page 4:

Panel 1: Number 2 looks hesitant, as if he is wrestling with a difficult decision.

NUMBER 2: I…

NUMBER 2: No. The hostages come first.

Panel 2: Jungle. Elizabeth is in the same spot, only now she has fashioned the branch into a splint over her left leg, using shreds of her shirt as cloth. She’s finishing up tying the thing together as the intercom comes to life.

NUMBER 2 (ELECTRONIC): Elizabeth. This is Number 2. I’m afraid there’s a situation that needs our immediate attention. Relief won’t be coming for a few hours at least.

NUMBER 2 (ELECTRONIC): It was a difficult decision to make, but I don’t regret it for a moment.

Panel 3: Elizabeth has a concerned look on her face as she notices something in the distance.

NUMBER 2 (ELECTRONIC): You’ve always been the strongest of us. You will survive this. And I’ll be here beside you for as long as-

ELIZABETH: Sorry, 2. Could you hold on for one moment?

ELIZABETH (CAPTION): “Always be aware of your environment, Elizabeth. Never stop looking for clues.”

Panel 4: Close up on a small yellow rose.

ELIZABETH (CAPTION): Harison’s Yellow. A cultivar of Rosa Foetida. Native to North America.

Panel 5: Close up of one of the trees, which are growing almond nuts.

ELIZABETH (CAPTION): Almonds. Prunis Dulcis. Aren’t in season in this region until late August, at least 4 months from now.

Panel 6: Elizabeth rises to her feet, obviously looking for something.

ELIZABETH: “All warfare is based on deception.”

NUMBER 2 (ELECTRONIC): I’m sorry?

ELIZABETH: I know where the missing left handed children are.

Page 5:

Panel 1: Elizabeth limps over to a cluster of bushes, still searching around. One hand is clutching her ribs.

NUMBER 2 (ELECTRONIC): The children? Elizabeth, I told you-

ELIZABETH: Listen. This entire jungle is artificial. It must be some sort of base of operations. The children must have been brought here.

ELIZABETH: For what, I’m not sure yet, but off the top of my head I can think of fourteen tasks that would favour the motor skills of a left-handed individual.

Panel 2: Elizabeth brushes aside the bushes to reveal a metallic ventilation shaft leading into the ground, one just big enough for her to squeeze through.

ELIZABETH: All of them incredibly dangerous.

Panel 3: Interior of the bunker. A little girl is operating a complex device. Based on Rachael’s designs, it is clear that the device requires a dextrous left hand. As she works, someone is talking off-panel.

MALACHAI (OFF-PANEL): I’m telling you not to worry. We’ll have the products ahead of schedule, satisfaction guaranteed. It’s like our motto says…

Panel 4: Wider shot. We see it’s quite a large factory, with large crates. Dozens of upset Central American children are hunched over similar complex machinery while armed guards look on. In the middle of it all is MALACHAI, a white slaver (half rugged good looks, half weasel) talking on a cell phone.

MALACHAI: “Putting the TLC in IEDs”. So can I put you down for a hundred more units?

MALACHAI: Thought so. Kisses!

Panel 5: Around a crate in the upper balconies, Elizabeth spies on what’s going on.

MALACHAI: Attention, everyone! After taking out that plane, I’m afraid our timetable has been jumped ahead.

MALACHAI: Once they finish this shipment of explosives, we’re through here. Kill all the boys…

Panel 6: Malachai runs his fingers down the hair of one of the girls at the work benches. She is crying softly.

MALACHAI: …but leave the girls alive. They’ll come in handy later.

Panel 7: Elizabeth, face hard, spits blood on the ground and unholsters her gun (the same one from page 1).

SFX: ptew.

Page 6:

Panel 1: One of the guards is shot in the kneecap. Others turn wildly in surprise.

SFX: BLAM!

GUARD: AARGH!

CAPTION: “A victorious army opposed to a routed one, is as a pound’s weight placed in the scale against a single grain.”

Panel 2: Another guard shot in the hand, as more guards shoot wildly in many directions.

SFX: BLAM!

CAPTION: “The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep.”

Panel 3: Shot of Elizabeth limping forward slowly, deliberately, gun held steadily in front of her. It fires again as bullets whiz wild around her.

SFX: BLAM!

Panel 4: All the guards are now disarmed, cradling their various injuries. Elizabeth stands in front of Malachai, who is on his knees with his hands clasped behind his neck, sneering.

MALACHAI: You think this means something? You think you’re actually accomplishing anything?

MALACHAI: You have no idea who I’m connected to. My brother-in-law’s the freaking President of this country. Just watch; in 24 hours I’ll be up and running again.

Panel 5: Elizabeth calmly places her gun against his forehead, face neutral.

ELIZABETH: I guess you’re right.

Panel 6: Malachai, gun against his temple, starts to sputter, losing his confidence.

MALACHAI: W-What? You won’t… you can’t do that! Holmes Inc. doesn’t kill people.

ELIZABETH: You’re not talking to Holmes Inc. You’re talking to me.

Page 7:

Panel 1: Number 2’s control room. He is dark, contemplative as he listens to the intercom.

MALACHAI (ELECTRONIC): Holmes Inc. will find out what you did! You’ll never get away with this!

Panel 2: Number 2 reaches across and turns off the intercom.

MALACHAI (ELECTRONIC): Do you hear me? You’ll never-

SFX: click!

Panel 3: Number 2, now in silence, thinks about the weight of his decision.

Panel 4: Back at underground headquarters. Elizabeth looks down at Malachai, a touch of sadness in her expression.

ELIZABETH: <Children, please turn away.>

Panel 5: She pulls the trigger. I see this being tastefully shown, perhaps in silhouette.

SFX: BLAM!

Panel 6: Elizabeth stands over Malachai’s body. The guards and children have a look of fear.

ELIZABETH: <It’s okay, children.>

ELIZABETH: <You’re safe now.>

 

—————————————————–END—————————

NOTES:  There’s hardly anything to say about this but EXCELLENT STUFF!  The pace, the plot, the loose ends, the drama.  Yikes this is good.  I’m so glad this is our last seven pager, giving the book a solid home stretch as we head towards the end and the ethereal story Draake’s got lined up.

I ask for TWO more lines, somewhere:  ONE LINE establishes that Holmes Inc. doesn’t kill, early in the story.  I don’t want the first time that’s introduced is merely seconds before it’s disproven.  Keep that in the mind of the readers for a couple of pages before you break that rule.  So something early about “no killing”.  One line will do it.  ALSO :  I want a line about who they’re selling the IEDs to.  Vague nefarious IED building is good, but a tossaway line about how “General Mutubah, or Valesquez or Chang” is paying for these, just so we know this is an evil business and not a hobby or genuine revolutionary.

Those two lines, placed where you need ’em and this story is literally perfect.  I mean perfect.  Every blade of grass is in place.

Ty the Guy

  1. Rae Wells
    March 17, 2011 at 3:02 am

    this is the kind of gun she’ll have. Her grandfather would have used it in WWII and handed it down to her father, and then to her. I’ll figure out something cool for the grip to make it more distinctive.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_%26_Wesson_Model_27

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