30/11/00: Welcome to
the Fold (Part six)
by The Gline
(Ladies and Gentlemen:
The management wish to express their sincerest apologies for an unfortunate
cock-up in the editorial department, to whit; the unfortunate and inaccurate
identification of last month's installment of the Gline's script as the final
episode. Needless to say, the Gline's epic saga of two-fisted authors, wrestling
motorcycle nuns, and orphan space-children from Beyond the Moon... yes?
Excuse me, Ladies and
Gentlemen. *sound of paper being unfolded*
The management wish to
further express their sincerest apologies for the unfortunate and entirely
inaccurate description of Gline's script to date as including motorcycle nuns
and space people. These radical and unexpected plot elements will not be
introduced until much later in the script. They will, of course, be hall-marked
by the sudden arrival of John Levene, the beloved Sgt. Benton from television's
'Doctor Who,' in the role of the autocratic King of Toyland. To speak more of
such surprises will, of course, ruin the thrill anticipation for you, our loyal
However, the management
wish to make amends for these unfortunate and ongoing mixups. As such, we are
pleased to offer, free to IMC users, a decorative hand-drawn photographic
replica of an official Canadian three dollar bank-note. Simply proceed to the
IMC Cafeterium and ask for your Commemorative Apologetic Banknote. We now return
to the Gline's script, which is already in progress.)
Stands next to them, her sword gripped tight in white-knuckled fingers.
She has just used it to sever the bodyguard's hand.
His mouth open in a scream, but we hear nothing.
He sinks to his knees.
Backed up against the couch once again, staring.
As Haruna raises her sword
once more and slashes at the bodyguard's HEAD.
As Haruna rises INTO
FRAME, spattered with blood. Breathing hard.
Elias is still in a daze.
We see only hints of the corpse at their feet.
Elias tries to stand up,
Haruna roughly helps him to his feet.
We've got to go. Now.
You just... oh, God...
We can't use your car. Get some cash.
Elias reaches for his
wallet, opens it with numb fingers.
The money spills out onto the floor. A corner of it is dyed RED from the
pool of blood.
God damn it!
She snatches up the cash
and drag-propels Elias out the door.
INT. HALLWAY TO ELEVATOR
Haruna continues to hustle
We got about two minutes to get out of here. If Slazenger has the cops in
his fist then we're in real trouble.
Slazenger...? Mister Death Threats?
His brain is slowly
starting to work again.
He's trying to make good on his promise, from the look of it.
Wait, where the hell are we going?
For Christ's sake, there's a dead cop in my apartment; we can't go running --
Haruna slaps him in the
face. He stops right there.
We now have one minute to get the fuck out of this building.
She pulls him into an
EXT. ELIAS'S APARTMENT
Haruna sticks her head out
and looks both ways.
The street's empty in both directions.
They're not here yet.
Yeah, "they". Real specific.
Haruna and Elias cross the
The rest of Slazenger's people. The cleanup crew. Probably disguised
as cops, knowing him. When they find the body of one of their own men up
in there, they will be appropriately pissed.
She sticks her arm out for
That "we give you sixty days" bullshit was just that: bullshit.
You had maybe ten days to live at most.
He's done this before?
You mean, lied through his teeth? Oh, yes.
A cab stops for
them. Haruna wrenches open the door and throws them both in.
INT. CAB MOVING
Dammit. I need to get to a phone..
Got to call my publisher. I had a meeting with her tomorrow. I guess
It's not going to matter.
What the hell's that supposed to mean?
She's part of the same machine as Slazenger. I have the feeling she wants
you dead, too.
Give me a fucking br--
Haruna puts her hand over
Sasha is not just some enterprising publisher. And Slazenger isn't just
some subterranean lunatic. They're all part of something a lot bigger and
more complicated. And that includes you.
She removes her hand.
I'm going to take you to some people who will make everything clear to
you. We've been fighting both of them, and fighting the machine they both
The system, the establishment that's what "I" always called it,
There's a sardonic edge to
her voice that jabs at him.
Sorry. My recall isn't the greatest right now. And you know I didn't
even write the damn thing.
He looks out the window
and shakes himself.
Slazenger, in front of his
"video wall", picks up the phone and punches keys.
Jacquays. Where are you?
Jacquays and Foster in the
f.g., with a fake POLICE CAR behind them. Hanging limply out of the backseat is
the horribly battered form of the editor of "Scorpionic".
JACQUAYS (INTO PHONE)
Finishing up here. Just got to torch-and-scorch and we'll be done.
Move fast. You're needed.
Jacquays cans the radio.
They sling a FIREBOMB at the car. It's enveloped in FLAMES.
INT. WHITE ROOM
Slazenger presses another
Ying Quan, come back?
EXT. OUTSIDE ELIAS'S
Police and ambulances are
on the scene. Ying Quan speaks into her portable phone from thie shadow of
We have problems.
Police just went up into the unit. Elias and the girl aren't there, but
they pulled our man out. Cut to pieces. I think they got away.
INT. WHITE ROOM
Slazenger does his best
not to explode.
Leak what you can to the cops and then get back here with the rest. Now.
He cuts the circuit and
throws himself back in his seat, fuming.
Calls over his shoulder:
Looks like we're going to need some more of those toys of yours.
The VOICE of the MAN WITH
GOGGLES comes back from the Black Room:
MAN WITH GOGGLES
Just get started - and don't stop.
CLOSEUP -- A POLICE
Displaying Elias And Haruna's pictures, along with identifying information...
and the phrase "SUSPECTS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND EXTREMELY
DANGEROUS." Police CHATTER summarizes what we see.
EXT. THREE HUNDRED CONDUIT
DRIVE, PLAZA ZERO AFTERNOON
This is the place Haruna
mentioned the first time she spoke with Elias. It doesn't appear to be
anything except an ultramodern high-rise office block. Afternoon
after-work crowds mill about.
Elias and Haruna, faces hidden, clothes different, get out of the cab and hustle
up the stairs.
At the door she stands in
front of a RETINAL SCANNER and lets her eye be photographed. The door
BUZZES. She leads him in...
INT. BUILDING LOBBY
The lobby looks like something out of a palace from another century.
Gilt-edged rococo curves; dark wood; polished floors.
A FOOTMAN at a desk stands
and approaches them.
Good evening, Miss Haruna! You've brought a guest with you?
Jacob, this is Elias Marlowe.
The Footman bows to Elias.
A pleasure to meet you at last. Now, if you'll step this way, I can sign
Elias follows the
Footman's lead and steps up to another retina-printing system where his eyes are
You do this for everyone who comes here?
For our sake and theirs.
You're done, sir. Welcome to the Citadel.
Thanks, I think.
And now this way...
She leads Elias into a
wide-mouthed cage elevator, shuts the door, and throws the lever. The
To meet the Prince. He's my right-hand man and gets trusted with a lot of
the day-to-day operations.
Your right-hand wait, YOU run this whole thing?
I always have.
The elevator comes to a
stop; they step out...
And now we see what the
Citadel is really about. It's like a cross between a mall and a walled
city. Here, reproduced in microcosm, is the way of life we saw in the
Haruna fantasy sequences people milling about, shopping, talking, entering
and leaving each other's homes. The ceiling is at least four stories
overhead. It's all obviously artificial, but it's so skillfully done that
it's endearing. (We saw a TINY bit of this earlier, with Haruna. Now
we see it in FULL detail.)
And above this level are six more like it.
Elias has trouble getting
his jaw to work.
Haruna leads him slowly through the "streets".
Here and there people wave to her, smile, bow, say hello.
She's cordial in return as well.
This is the Costume Society? For real?
This is what we use the public faηade of the Costume Society to support.
Many of us also work other jobs and donate towards the upkeep. There are
enough of us who're full-timers to keep things rolling and we recently
bought the building outright thanks to a grant from an industrialist.
We've got a lot of influential people to call our own.
Elias peers into the
window of a clockmaker's.
So what do you guys do here besides play dress-up and buy and sell stuff to each
We live. You just described what most people spend their whole lives with
anyway. We just have more fun doing it. We do it our way.
Haruna takes him by the
elbow gently and continues leading him.
Okay. Why? Why this way?
Because no one else will let us.
The source of the voice is
THE PRINCE yes, it's an exact replica, detail for detail, of the beau we saw
courting Haruna in the fantasies. He bows slightly to Elias.
It's good to meet you again.
Right the, uh, Costume Society ball.
He shakes the Prince's
hand, still amazed.
I hope Slazenger and his people didn't cause any permanent damage.
I'm still taped up and sorry if I sound hard, but it's gonna be tough for me
to get any better if I keep getting dragged around like this.
My apologies, Mr. Marlowe. Come with us and I'll make sure you're set up
with the best accomodations we can provide you with. Based on the limited
information I have, it seems you may need to stay here for a while.
Elias freezes up.
Elias, remember what I said.
How long are we talking about?
As long as it takes for us to remove Slazenger from the "machine", and
for the machine itself to collapse.
A HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE
actually, it's a pony-drawn carriage stops next to them. Haruna helps
Elias into it; the Prince climbs on board.
A crack of the whip and
INT. THE PRINCE'S
A luxurious set of rooms
overlooking the third "floor" of the Citadel. Elias, drink in
hand, peers out through the window. Haruna and the Prince are seated.
Well, I'll give you credit for ambition.
It's been thirty-five years in the making, Elias, in one form or another.
Thing is ... how you folks plan to "change" anything by holing up in a
hollowed-out office building and playing dress-up is beyond me.
This is about more than outfits and appearances, Elias. You know that from
having talked to me.
This is a voluntary construct. Everyone who comes here to fulfill a role
in the Society a role you've provided in the richness of your work they
do so of their own free will.
I know, I know. Oh, yeah. Haruna, he doesn't know, does he?
Haruna looks at him, then
shakes her head slowly.
This is either going to be the smartest or stupidest thing I ever did.
He digs around in his
jacket and pulls out volume one of the original Haruna books, and slides it
across the table at the Prince.
That was written about thirty years ago, best I can guess. I'm gonna go
out the room for about half an hour, and when I come back in we'll talk about
it. Maybe you can understand why I don't really want to hang around for
He steps outside and
closes the door.
Haruna and the Prince
The fact that he was able at all to find another copy of the original amazes me.
He found it through a friend, or so he claims. A book-dealer.
Perhaps he simply got lucky.
The Prince opens the book
and thumbs through it idly.
It's better-preserved than the ones we have. Well I've said it
before... he may be a plagarist but he's certainly got good taste.
He's got tastes that coincide with our work. That's what's
important. And if we can protect him long enough, we may even be able to
get him writing again.
The Prince looks at her.
He stole all this because he had writer's block?
He admitted it to me in so many words. He quit writing the VALIS books for
the same reason, apparently.
The Prince sighs heavily
and lets the book close in his hand.
What a hell of a job.
But we have to make this happen. As far as everyone else is concerned, he
is the author of HARUNA. Because if he doesn't rise to the occasion and
find a new ending for the story something that won't send all our work back
onto the scrap heap then our trouble's only started.
Our trouble began the minute we agreed on this particular course of
action. But I couldn't agree more.
I'll see what I can do to motivate him..
The Prince just watches
her, then nods.
Slazenger is quietly livid.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are hitting what could be politely called a "choke
point." In plainer English, we're fucked.
Everyone else looks
Where's Elias? Where's the girl? Want to tell me what happened to
your man, Quan?
Ying Quan says nothing at
Evidently she was armed.
The Man With Goggles
emerges from the Black Room.
MAN WITH GOGGLES
Evidently she was armed with a functioning replica. I can tell you right
now I never made any such thing.
It's not very hard to make a functioning replica of a sword. It's a
fucking three-foot kitchen knife!
MAN WITH GOGGLES
The gun's not part of the --
Slazenger raises his voice
to a shout.
THIS IS SUCH BULLSHIT. WHY ARE YOU STANDING THERE LOOKING AT ME? GET
OUT AND START DOING SOME WORK!
He grabs a travel bag and
starts throwing bits of equipment into it. Everyone else leaves.
INT. GUEST ROOM IN CITADEL
Elias sits on the edge of the bed. Face blank.
The Prince enters.
Haruna filled in many of the details for me.
I guess you're about ready to punch me..
No, actually. Not at all. But I need to make you... aware of certain
things. The responsibility you've undertaken, for one.
What, keeping up the fakery so I don't get lynched by the Taffeta Mob out there?
No continuing the work you started, but in a different vein. May I
show you something?
He stands and leads Elias out.
INT. PRINCE'S STUDY IN
Rich oak, big bookshelves, a giant desk. Maps on the wall.
The Prince leads Elias
over to a platbook. Opens it.
It's more maps of cities around the world and finally the world
itself. Here and there on the maps are bright GREEN DOTS.
The Prince talks as he
As Haruna and I have shown you, the community you see here is the real reason
for the existence of the Costume Society and its associated circles. We've
been consolidating our presence worldwide for a little over two decades now.
To build this place.
Half right, actually.
Elias frowns at him.
The Prince opens to a map of their own city, which FILLS THE SCREEN. The
dot representing their building is dead center.
THE PRINCE (V.O.)
Three Hundred Conduit Drive is the prototype for many other environments we are
in the process of setting up, both in this city and elsewhere.
We go WIDER and WIDER on
the map, slowly, as more and more GREEN DOTS populate the map.
THE PRINCE (V.O.)
We asked ourselves why do something of this magnitude, of this importance,
if we weren't going to carry our work "all the way home"? We'd
wanted to change the world; this was the way to do it without violence, or
loss of decency.
There is now more green on
the map than anything else.
THE PRINCE (V.O.)
Eventually, there would be more of us in the game, playing out our elected
roles, than there would be outside of it.
The whole map is finally
We PULL WIDE FAST and show the WORLD MAP is going green.
THE PRINCE (V.O.)
That's the goal - to get everyone in on the game. And then...
BACK TO SCENE
The Prince is smiling. Elias is stunned.
...we all win. And then we all just keep playing. We make life into
an adventure, rather than a chore with borders.
Elias gropes for a chair behind him. Sits down.
Haruna and I have been spearheading most of the work, but once you get things
past a certain point, it tends to be self-perpetuating --
Could I ask a really, really dumb question? Just this one
question? What if I don't want to play? What if I think this whole
game arrangement is the dumbest fucking thing I've ever seen in my life?
The Prince's expression remains carefully neutral.
Because if you ask me, it's just trading one set of flags for another.
This is no less arbitrary or contrived or stupid than what you're trying to
But more fun. And more humane.
Suppose I don't see it that way?
That would be a shame. Because you're urgently needed.
That's right. You need someone to keep writing your new non-sectarian
Elias's bitterness is undisguised.
We need someone to continue the story of our lives without an ending that
invalidates everything we've done.
A ghostwritten happy ending. Fine. Go find Miss Ravanna Francoeur.
FLASH SHOT of "Ravanna
Francoeur" being deleted.
She's been dead for decades. And even if we did you're the
author. As much of the author as there ever will be now.
You're going to have to get someone else. And I'll give you three good
He ticks them off.
One. The whole reason I stole HARUNA in the first place was because I
couldn't think of anything. VALIS was the one book I had in me; I
stretched it to seven.
Two. You may not like the story as it ends right now, but you know
something? It's the only ending that makes sense. There are no
heroes, and you're not going to make them real by dressing up and playing
House! And three --
-- you're all out of your fucking minds!
He wrenches open the door and almost collides with Haruna.
She's got the sullenly wounded expression of someone who overheard all the wrong
Elias stares at her, then pushes past her.
She follows him.
Leave me the hell alone.
SNIK. The sound of
the sword being drawn.
Elias freezes as he feels the point of it in his back.
You know, the script
makes a heck of a lot more sense now, dunnit?