Digital Ischemia

05/02/2017

Episode 1: Staging

Rotting Leaves — Two people bicker through their history of failure at the end of the world.

SCENE 1.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Scotland, Perthshire, Gorge Cave; 2022, Summer, Evening
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES
FENELLA: The third time you came to me, the universe had its foot on my head once again.
MAX: How can you start with a third and a second?
FENELLA: The past is before us: we start now and walk on into the known.
MAX: Surely the future is ahead?
FENELLA: No, behind, unseen, unknown.
MAX: Oh, dear.  We’re walking backwards, forwards.
FENELLA: Exactly.
MAX: And in which direction was the universe going, with its foot on your head?
FENELLA: Remember autumn 2019?
MAX: In its entirety?
FENELLA: I was in my grief miasma and suddenly there you were.
MAX: Not in the miasma.
FENELLA: No, by the river.
MAX: Yes, because I was fine.
FENELLA: You were nowhere near fine, but I’ll come to that.
MAX: Because we’re going backwards.
FENELLA: No, forward, because you didn’t tell me till much later.
MAX: Because the miasma was impenetrable.
FENELLA: How convenient.  So there we were, in step, in the damp autumn leaves, in the rotting silence—

SCENE 2.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2023, Winter, Evening
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, FIRE CRACKLES
FENELLA: Do you remember that conversation?
MAX: Was that us?
FENELLA: Only five months ago.
MAX: We must’ve been pretty dopey.
FENELLA: But what’s doping us?
MAX: I meant sleepy.
FENELLA: A Freudian sleep.  I used to be articulate. Have I got Alzheimer’s?
MAX: We’re just tired and malnourished.  And stressed.
FENELLA: How did we get here?  Not the trudging; I mean what set us off?
MAX: We had to leave the city.
FENELLA: I know, but why?
MAX: The ca-sastrophe.
FENELLA: What sort of cat-sas-trophe?
MAX: How should I know?!  Enviro-mental disasters were esc-at-aling.  The seriousness of them.  Hm.  I’m not clear on details.  Do you think we rather overreacted?
FENELLA: I feel… my mind is fragmented—memory.  We’re surviving in a cave, in a gorge, what passes for seasons are coming around again, and we’ve lost the big picture.
MAX: Perhaps we’re dead and just don’t know where to go next.
FENELLA: Constructive.
MAX: Open-minded.  OK, do you think this is how radiation affects us?
FENELLA: I remember fretting about plasticine—plastic.  Synthetic chemicals.  I haven’t dismissed consp-iracy theori-cies either.
MAX: What conspiracy?
FENELLA: ‘Forces’ that have the power to erase our memorase.
MAX: I think there was an earthquake.
FENELLA: Yes!  Was that it?
MAX: Why would that give us an-mesia?
FENELLA: Er, trauma?  No…  There were dead birds all over the fields.
MAX: What does that mean?
FENELLA: They don’t get traumatic stress distress.
MAX: They live their lives stressed.
FENELLA: Does that mean they could die of stress or not?
MAX: I think it’s the stress that stops—the stop stress…sorry, lost that thought.
FENELLA: Maybe if we go back over things we can piece us back together…like layers of rotting leaves.

SCENE 3.
FENELLA: (V.O.) River Bank, 2021, Autumn, Day
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, INTERMITTENTLY BIRDS CHOKE, MAMMALS COUGH
FENELLA: How did we get here?
MAX: Painfully memorable hours of trampling through dust and ash?
FENELLA: It was a rhetorical whinge.  I really hope at some universal level this all makes sense.
MAX: I can draw you a diagram in the sludge if you like: man begat man begat machine begat pollution begat disaster.
FENELLA: Yes, and we saw it coming, but how did we actually do it?
MAX: Not enough of us stepped out of the machine.  Tiny cogs don’t see the effects of their actions, much less any problems or choices.  Need we analyse this right now?
FENELLA: I guess we can see plenty of effects now.  Oh, I need a break. (SOBS)
MAX: We will find a way.
FENELLA: I know. Or not; it doesn’t matter.  I’m just so sad for everything else we’ve destroyed.  Did you see those birds?
MAX: And the toads and the rabbits and the cows.
FENELLA: Don’t care so much about cows.  Or rabbits.  You know what I mean.  I don’t want to live in a world without birds and toads.
MAX: Wait till the plants frazzle up too.
FENELLA: Maybe we don’t get to understand, really understand, life until we die.
MAX: OK, let’s just get to the gorge and the basic necessities.

SCENE 4.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Edinburgh, Flat; 2021, Summer, Evening
SOUND: GARDEN BIRDS CHIRRUP, VEHICLES RUMBLE
MAX: What brought you two together?
FENELLA: Apart from the tidal wave?
MAX: That was only the start.
FENELLA: He did some remarkable things.
MAX: The man was a force of nature, but why was he the one for you?
FENELLA: That’s pretty intense, personal.
MAX: It’s important.
FENELLA: To me, and to him.  Not for you.
MAX: Then why show me all these photographs?
FENELLA: I’m not ‘showing’ you; I was just glancing through one last time before…maybe not seeing them again, and you’re lurking.
MAX: I’m waiting for nightfall.
FENELLA: Ah, the Clandestine Clot.
MAX: Where’s that?
FENELLA: Up the hill.
MAX: But the time taken is five AM in April.  It wouldn’t be light.
FENELLA: OK, metadata melodramatist.  Any other more likely explanations?
MAX: Your camera time is set wrong.
FENELLA: And why might that be?
MAX: You deliberately set the time wrong?
FENELLA: Aye.
MAX: What on earth’s the matter with you?
FENELLA: For about twenty years I’ve been hoping to catch you out.  Today, at last, my deep laid plan has succeeded!
MAX: Seriously?
FENELLA: No, you narcissistic nitwit.  I leave it on Greenwich Mean Time.
MAX: So it’s actually six AM.
FENELLA: Calamity over; universe back in place.

SCENE 5.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2022, Summer, Evening
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, HERON CALLS
FENELLA: Night advances like a tide, smothering every feature and creature of the land.  Except for a few chinks: anti-shadows, discarded shards of light.  Through the dark, overhead: a heron; four squawks, one shard receding along the river.  Welcome back, she-crone.
MAX: What?
FENELLA: Ah, you’re here; good. The third time you came to me, the universe had its foot on my head once again.
MAX: How can you start with a third and a second?
FENELLA: The past is before us: we start now and walk on into the known.
MAX: Surely the future is ahead?
FENELLA: No, behind, unseen, unknown.
MAX: Oh, dear.  We’re walking backwards, forwards.
FENELLA: Exactly.
MAX: And in which direction was the universe going, with its foot on your head?
FENELLA: Remember autumn 2019?
MAX: In its entirety?
FENELLA: I was in my grief miasma and suddenly there you were.
MAX: Not in the miasma.
FENELLA: No, by the river.
MAX: Yes, because I was fine.
FENELLA: You were nowhere near fine, but I’ll come to that.
MAX: Because we’re going backwards.
FENELLA: No, forward, because you didn’t tell me till much later.
MAX: Because the miasma was impenetrable.
FENELLA: How convenient.  So there we were, in step, in the damp autumn leaves, in the rotting silence—
MAX: I like ‘rotting’.
FENELLA: What do you mean?
MAX: I like the word ‘rotting’.
FENELLA: Thank you.
MAX: It’s redolent of our respective circumstances.
FENELLA: Indeed, for our respective circumstances were riddled with decay.
MAX: They still are.
FENELLA: I don’t know; I think now even the decay has stopped.
MAX: Would you like to start again, differently?
FENELLA: Existentially?
MAX: Or just the story?
FENELLA: Yes, thank you.  The green beaks of bulb sprouts poke through the soil surface.  Snow melt drips and trickles all around.  Winter’s claws recede.  On you go.
MAX: Me?
FENELLA: I’m sure it’s your turn; I’ll keep you right.
MAX: OK.  So, it all began—
FENELLA: No.  Never start at the beginning.
MAX: I think you’ll find it’s logical, in fact it’s chronological, it’s sensible and it’s conventional.
FENELLA: And entirely illusory.  Just start.
MAX: When?
FENELLA: Whenever memory takes you.
MAX: The moss is almost gone.
FENELLA: Has your attention wandered already?
MAX: You said go with the memory.
FENELLA: And you went?
MAX: Forty minutes ago.
FENELLA: The only thing stopping me laughing is the tragedy.
MAX: It’s never stopped you before.
FENELLA: And the pain.  And the hunger.
MAX: I know.  So, I’m here to tell the tale of how we got here.  In space and time.  But not in order.  And you?
FENELLA: I’m here to marshal the recording of events.
MAX: You’re good at that.

SCENE 6.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2022, Spring, Evening
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES
MAX: Have you ever eaten insects?
FENELLA: No, and I won’t be starting now: vegan waiver.
MAX: We’ll see how long that lasts.
FENELLA: You think my principles will buckle without beans and brown rice?
MAX: You don’t have the luxury of fussiness.
FENELLA: OK: vegan wager.  You win: I eat insects.  I win: what?
MAX: No, no, you need a penance on top of the insects.
FENELLA: Like a garnish?
MAX: Yes, garlic: my share of the wild garlic.
FENELLA: Surely that would only be unpleasant for you?
MAX: You know what I want from you.
FENELLA: Is this garlic or mistletoe?  I never thought you’d be the first to get entangled in…variations on a theme of paganism.
MAX: It can be poppy opium if that works.
FENELLA: Has this nonsense still not died?
MAX: Please don’t debase this.
FENELLA: From what?  Warped idealisation?
MAX: Not quite.
FENELLA: I wouldn’t’ve been that bothered either way, but now you’re making it into a thing.  It feels like the thin edge of…
SOUND: HERON CALLS
MAX: The thin edge of the we—?!
FENELLA: Sshh.
MAX: What?
FENELLA: Heron.  Not well.
MAX: They always sound primeval, like they’re choking.
SOUND: HERON CALLS
OK, maybe not like that.  Poor thing.
FENELLA: Nothing like the sound of another creature dying to ruin your lecherous plans.
MAX: Not ruined; resting.
FENELLA: You have a lot of plans at rest.
MAX: Well, it’s hard to progress anything right now.
FENELLA: I was thinking of your ‘wacky idea of the week’.  Dozens and dozens of them – your creativity was awesome.  The extra workload was also awesome.
MAX: Most of them were stolen.
FENELLA: Well, what was the point of deluging me in stolen ideas?!  Oh, don’t start that again.
SOUND: HERON CALLS

SCENE 7.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Edinburgh, Street; 2021, Autumn, Day
SOUND: VEHICLES RUMBLE, PEDESTRIANS SCURRY, CHATTER
FENELLA: Where have you been?!  You weren’t at your meeting.  It doesn’t matt—
MAX: You were right!
FENELLA: We need to go!
MAX: Not yet.
FENELLA: We need to leave!
MAX: Yes, but not now.
FENELLA: We don’t have time to argue!
MAX: We do.  We always do.  Watch this.
FENELLA: What?  This stupid wobblecam movie?!
MAX: Didn’t have time to set up a crew, sorry.  Just watch it.
FENELLA: This is you?
MAX: Filming, yes; not the subject, obviously.
FENELLA: Are you running?
MAX: Along the road to Arbeith, the flat bit.
FENELLA: That’s a big plane.
MAX: Isn’t it?
FENELLA: Or very close.  Very low.
MAX: See when I turn to look across the field.
FENELLA: Three, four?!  What are they doing?  Practising almost-landing in the middle of nowhere?  And on the other side too!
MAX: Miles from any landing strip.
FENELLA: Offensive?
MAX: Escapist?
FENELLA: Who escaping what?
MAX: See the next clip.
FENELLA: Train window?  Is this you heading into town?
MAX: Nearly at the bridge.
FENELLA: Woh!  What the fuck is that?
MAX: Hefty, eh?
FENELLA: That’s one heavyweight plane.  It looks more like a spaceship—battleship…  How the hell is it staying up?
MAX: Given that we’re not being invaded by aliens, I think somebody has some special technology, serious kit, that they’re not sharing.
FENELLA: Why reveal it now?  I can hear other folk in the carriage exclaiming.
MAX: Nothing to lose?
FENELLA: Something terrible…
MAX: Enough to miss a meeting.
FENELLA: Why me?
MAX: I don’t think it’s personal!  I think they have hierarchies for such eventualities and we’re not even close to being on that list.  I don’t even know who I mean by ‘they’.
FENELLA: No, I mean, why am I on your list?
MAX: There isn’t time.
FENELLA: We always have time to argue!  There are folk all around.  You could’ve picked—
MAX: I mean there isn’t time to explain to anyone else.  You’re the only person I know who could get this—who already got it.  Plus all the stuff we never— You’re my ideal companion for an apocalypse.
FENELLA: Is that what this is?
MAX: Bag packed?

Advertisements

4 Comments »

  1. […] Rotting Leaves starts at Episode 1: Staging. […]

    Pingback by Episode 2: Spring | Digital Ischemia — 12/02/2017 @ 17:02

  2. […] Rotting Leaves starts at Episode 1: Staging. […]

    Pingback by Episode 3: Summer | Digital Ischemia — 19/02/2017 @ 17:01

  3. […] Rotting Leaves starts at Episode 1: Staging. […]

    Pingback by Episode 4: Autumn | Digital Ischemia — 26/02/2017 @ 19:23

  4. […] Rotting Leaves starts at Episode 1: Staging. […]

    Pingback by Episode 5: Winter | Digital Ischemia — 05/03/2017 @ 18:41


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

If you spot a typo, I shall gnaw off an unworthy phalange.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: