Digital Ischemia

05/03/2017

Episode 5: Winter

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

Rotting Leaves starts at Episode 1: Staging.

SCENE 1.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2023, Winter, Day
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, WIND MOANS, TREES CREAK, FIRE CRACKLES
FENELLA: The land of the midday moon.  An endless skyfull of cloud hurr—rushes at me like I’m flying into a frac—fractal.  Gusts creak a tree branch like a seagull’s cry.
MAX: It was a dark and stormy night…
FENELLA: It hardly matters that it’s awful, does it?  No-one will hear it.
MAX: So why say it?
FENELLA: To express it.
MAX: Must you?
FENELLA: It’s all so painfully beautifully—ful and it’s almost gone.  My soul…
MAX: And we ruined it?  Paint away.  I could use a wallow.

SCENE 2.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Perthshire, Hill; 2022, Winter, Day
SOUND: WIND HOWLS, DISTANT HELICOPTER ROTORS CHOP
FENELLA: Do you see?  There!  A helicopter!
MAX: Yes!  Run up to the top!
FENELLA: They have to see us.
MAX: It’s not that dark.
SOUND: FADE HELICOPTER ROTORS
FENELLA: Oh, are they…  No!  They can’t be passing!
MAX: Perhaps they can’t stop – you know, land.
FENELLA: Maybe they’ll come back.
MAX: Perhaps…  Perhaps – I’m sorry – perhaps they weren’t looking for us.
FENELLA: What do you mean?
MAX: Perhaps they were just assessing the extent of the damage?  There must be some military somewhere safe.  If it’s as big as we think, they can’t save us.  Nowhere to go.  I’m sorry.
FENELLA: You’re right, aren’t you?  Millions of people, inevitable contamination; where would we go?  How?  Oh, just…
MAX: What?
FENELLA: Just please tell me they’re sorry?  Please say they’re not just automatons carrying on with Plan Whatever and jettison the collateral?
MAX: I hope.

SCENE 3.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Garden Shed; 2017, Winter, Day
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS
FENELLA: The winter sun rolls along the horizon then slips below.  An air-root claws the edge of a stone: one bony digit raised to latch on.  Wind tantrums around every feature, testing every tether.  The moon blurs with each chased wisp of cloud.  Or perhaps with the condensation on this window.  Cold is near, ice is abroad and snow, ah, numinous snow, could overtake it all with silent, still, soft death.  How long’ve you been there?
MAX: A very long time.
FENELLA: I really don’t have the mental energy for your layers of meaning.
MAX: I did hear about that.  Tough.
FENELLA: Come to analyse or to sympathise?
MAX: Neither.  I need your help.
FENELLA: Impossible.
MAX: I really do.  It wasn’t even hard to say.
FENELLA: No, I mean you can’t have it; not right now.
MAX: Too busy?
FENELLA: Don’t be like that.  I will fall out with you if you push at me.
MAX: I thought you’d like your mind taken off…things.
FENELLA: ‘Things’?!  My partner apparently abducted in Madrid and now who knows where?  The constant gut-wrenching terror of wondering what he’s going through each moment?  Of wondering if he’s still alive or just…a body?
MAX: Yes, exactly.  Here to help.
FENELLA: Yourself?
MAX: I know you have insight into some of the strategies that the big corporates are using – the psychology their marketers are applying to counter the mass awakening of citizens from the clutches of consum—
FENELLA: Stop, stop.  I lost it…
MAX: I thought I was quite eloquent.
FENELLA: Corporate psychology; run it again.
MAX: You could just rewind that thing and play it yourself.  Oh, fine.  The psychology that companies are using to distort the narrative as—
FENELLA: Hang on.
MAX: Have you no focus at all?
FENELLA: Look.
MAX: What?  The valley?  The road?
FENELLA: On the road.
MAX: A van?
FENELLA: Coming here.
MAX: Possibly.
FENELLA: It’s news.
SOUND: CLICK

SCENE 4.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2023, Winter, Evening
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, WIND MOANS, FIRE CRACKLES
MAX: Lucky he turned up in one piece.
FENELLA: Hardly.
MAX: Not lucky?  Or not in one piece?
FENELLA: Definitely not one piece, but who lucky fo—for whom..?
MAX: Well, ultimately me, I suppose.
FENELLA: Inevitably, but how exalt—exactly?
MAX: You would’ve been destroyed otherwise.
FENELLA: And I’m not now?
MAX: Not just—quite.
FENELLA: Soon enough.  Comes to the same end…point anyway.
MAX: Perhaps.  But the journey…
FENELLA: Oh, please.

SCENE 5.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge; 2022, Winter, Day
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, WIND MOANS
FENELLA: Tales should be spoken, not written, and definitely not typed.
MAX: Handy.
FENELLA: Native Australians tell a story as they walk the land, connecting the features as they pass, like a needle on a record.  Only sounds right at four miles an hour.  Look at all this ice, dust, shit.
MAX: Your record warped?
FENELLA: Someone put a pizza on my turntable.
MAX: Nasty.
FENELLA: Wrong format.

SCENE 6.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2023, Winter, Day
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, WIND MOANS, FIRE CRACKLES, APPROACHING STUMBLING FOOTSTEPS
MAX: Where’ve you been?
FENELLA: Uphill— the hill.
MAX: That’s just wasting energy!
FENELLA: I know.  I had…
MAX: There’s nothing growing there; we’ve been and we’ve looked.
FENELLA: I know.  I just—  I saw the sun.  It was so clouded by smoke and dust, it looked like the moon; a midday moon.
MAX: And, like a true loon, you grav-it-ated towards it?
FENELLA: …to where I was…
MAX: The quake?
FENELLA: The second warning.
MAX: With him?
FENELLA: We were watching the sun, saying farewell to sunnier…  Summer.  I never thought how long it could be.  One of his better days.  In the middle of that rare, precious, precarious joy and laughter: a flash, shaking that seemed to be at the same time.  The ground you depend on.  Without that security…  Where were you?
MAX: Different hill.  I knew right then…  That was that.  Do you know…  Half of me stayed up that hill, watching, while the other half pelted back to the house for…  Nothing.  Denial.  My other life, as you said.
FENELLA: She was still there?
MAX: Just until that moment. Then she knew I hadn’t come back for her.

SCENE 7.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2023, Winter, Day
SOUND: CLICKS, FAST THROUGH DIALOGUE AUDIO FILES
FENELLA: Where’s the rest of it? Oh, come on.  It has to be here somewhere.
MAX: Why’s that one so important?
FENELLA: Not record! Play you idiot device!

SCENE 8.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2022, Winter, Day
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, WIND MOANS, FIRE CRACKLES
FENELLA: It’s not that we couldn’t keep up with the changing herbscape—
MAX: Herbscape!
FENELLA: —It’s that the herbs couldn’t keep up with the changing climatescape.  In plant time it was the blink of a…stomata?
MAX: We didn’t do so well, even seeing it coming.
FENELLA: Did it help – knowing?
MAX: It’s always better to know.
FENELLA: I don’t know; I mean: knowledge and belief are so easily distorted.
MAX: I know about that.
FENELLA: Is that what happened with your marriage?
MAX: My marriage is absolutely… not…
FENELLA: Nothing is sacrosanct any more.  Give it up.
MAX: It was the victim of external forces.
FENELLA: Which means what?
MAX: Subject closed.
FENELLA: Anything to do with the lack of materialising children?
MAX: Did you hear me say I’m not talking about it?
FENELLA: We’ve never respected that. Maybe it’s a blessing: you wouldn’t want children facing this with you.
MAX: Don’t try to tease something positive from stuff you know nothing about.
FENELLA: Boring.  How about I tell you mine, then you tell me yours.
MAX: Still no.
FENELLA: I found him in the gulley, plastered with muddy rain, quite cold.
MAX: I know; you don’t have to relive it.
FENELLA: I didn’t tell you, though: I’ll never know if he meant to…
MAX: Die?
FENELLA: I was beyond autopsies and enquiries.  I just buried him in silt and stones.
MAX: From what you’ve said his head was pretty much melted.
FENELLA: He never got over – never had chance to get over – the abduction.  It felt like all the nastiness of human desperation and fear focused to a pinpoint and stabbed into him.  Him of all people! So grossly unfair.
MAX: I’m still not telling you anything.
FENELLA: I don’t care any more.
MAX: Don’t try your reverse motivation crap.  Knowing more horrible experiences you went through doesn’t make me want to share mine.
FENELLA: It’s not a competition.
MAX: I’m not even playing!
FENELLA: Fine.  You’re right: not my business.  I made my choice a long time ago.

SCENE 9.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Edinburgh, Office; 2013, Winter, Day
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS, TYPING
MAX: How do you feel about the continent of North America?
FENELLA: Ambivalent.
MAX: That was… underwhelming.  Would you like to try again?
FENELLA: No.  I’m not going.
MAX: Yes, you are.
FENELLA: No.  I’m resigning.
MAX: I don’t understand.
FENELLA: I’m sorry.  I need to stop.
MAX: But you’ve been stopped!  We’re about to restart.
FENELLA: I know.  It hasn’t been enough.  I need to do something else.
MAX: There isn’t anything else.
FENELLA: There must be.
MAX: Like what?
FENELLA: I don’t know either.  I feel like I’m letting down my entire gender by spending my professional life and much of my personal life running around after men.  Man.  You.
MAX: Really?
FENELLA: Something like that.
MAX: Well, that’s that, then.
FENELLA: They’ll have another assistant in place for you well before you set off.
MAX: There won’t be any setting off.  And you were never my assistant.
FENELLA: Yes, that’s exactly what I was.  And I don’t mean you made me feel in any way demeaned; I just need to be doing something myself.
MAX: I didn’t think this is how it would end.
FENELLA: It’s not ending!  I’m just stepping off.  The wagon train is still going with you at the helm.
MAX: Trains don’t have helms.
FENELLA: See?  You need a new assistant.
MAX: Not funny.
FENELLA: OK, I’m not dragging this out.  You know I’ve had the time of my life. I’ll see you… sometime.
MAX: Right, I’ll have to come back to you.  I need time to process.
SOUND: DISTANT DOOR THUMPS CLOSED

SCENE 10.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2022, Winter, Night
SOUND: ICE CREAKS
MAX: Turns out hell isn’t an everlasting volcano; it’s penetrating, unremitting cold.  Total absence of energy.  All life smothered by a blanket of ash and darkness.  Just like when you leave me on my own.
FENELLA: Ouch.  Is that snow?
MAX: It’s the most pathetic snowfall I’ve ever seen.  It’s not even frizzle.
FENELLA: Frozen drizzle of what, though?
MAX: Who knows what poisons are floating about overhead?
FENELLA: Without our canary heron we’re in the dark.
MAX: In a shrinking oasis in the middle of a circle of death.  No-one’s coming in; we can’t get out. The doughnut of destiny.
FENELLA: I’m glad we saw it, though. I feel sorry for the folk who had no idea; the power, everything just stopped.  I guess they found out eventually.  Other countries must still be operating, but anyone too far away to see and too close to escape… It must be hell.
MAX: This is hell enough.
FENELLA: How did we end up…
MAX: Effectively the last two people alive?
FENELLA: It’s all dire chance and fateful fuck-up.
MAX: I beg your pardon: I came for you!
FENELLA: When there was no-one else left.
MAX: Why are you always trying to diminish us?
FENELLA: We had a good, really good, working relationship – fantastic rapport.
MAX: Fantastic reductionism, thank you.
FENELLA: Well, why muddle that with drama and over-stretched significance?
MAX: Because we’re the last two fucking people left alive!
FENELLA: One: your arse.  Two: it’s not like all the history of the planet has been leading up to this point.  And three: even if either of those were true, we don’t matter one bit.
MAX: When we’re all that’s left, we’re all that matters.
FENELLA: Only to your planet-sized ego.
MAX: Pax?
FENELLA: Pax. And, by the way, I think you were right about getting away from town.
MAX: Shame no-one else did. And not that it matters, but when I said ‘I came for you’ I meant the other time.
FENELLA: Which?
MAX: Both.
FENELLA: Evil overlord!
MAX: How?
FENELLA: Just as you think you have the heroic protagonist at check-mate, you feel an irresistible urge to relate your entire back-story, including, especially, admitting all your crimes and explaining exactly how you committed them.
MAX: We are rather at check-mate.
FENELLA: So, ‘fess up!
MAX: This is not the time for the ‘heroic protagonist’ to start using youth slang.
FENELLA: You came for me with Europe, and you came for me—
MAX: Yes, yes, the pouncing-on-the-recently-widowed inappropriacy award goes to: me.
FENELLA: What was it when he was just abducted?
MAX: That’s in poor taste.
FENELLA: I hardly think it matters; I don’t see many etiquette adjudicators.  Let’s get it all out!
MAX: That was testing the water.
FENELLA: Are you serious?
MAX: No, I’m not serious, you moss-encrusted melodramatist!  It’s much worse: I was testing myself, to see if I was capable of being…normal with you.
FENELLA: As opposed to?
MAX: Two fucking decades of torturous adolescent infatuation.  Well?  Say something.  Express your enumerated objections.  We actually don’t have all the time in the world.
FENELLA: Well, OK: one: I don’t believe you; two: you addle-minded narcissist; and three: you really think you’re going to seduce me before we either starve or freeze to death?
MAX: It’s not the worst idea.  Once again: not serious!  I haven’t the strength.

SCENE 11.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2023, Winter, Day
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, WIND MOANS, FIRE CRACKLES
FENELLA: You know, I did have a passion for you for about six minutes one time.
MAX: My ego isn’t that desperate for…
FENELLA: Your ability to…organise facts to suit the audience…
MAX: You’re teasing me with professional respect?
FENELLA: Is that enough or shall I carry on?
MAX: Please.
FENELLA: You know I love you, don’t you? In a strange, powerful way that defies…
MAX: I’ll take it.
FENELLA: Shall we digest the story so far?
MAX: Again?
SOUND: CLICK

SCENE 12.
MAX: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2023, Winter, Day
MAX: No, not again. End.
SOUND: CLICK

SCENE 13.
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES
MAX: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2023, Winter, Day
MAX: Hey! I found more moss!  Don’t pretend you’re not excited.  I remembered one of the trees that was dead before the winter.  I climbed it and ta-dar!  Come on!  This deserves more than one of your unimpressed icy stares.
SOUND: CLICK

SCENE 14.
FENELLA: (V.O.) Gorge Cave; 2022, Winter, Day
SOUND: WATER TRICKLES, WIND MOANS, FIRE CRACKLES
MAX: Stop wandering away.
FENELLA: It’s picking you up fine.
MAX: Do you really think this’ll work?
FENELLA: Bound to.  Layering the recordings might turn into a bit of a mishmash but who the hell cares?
MAX: It won’t explain anything.
FENELLA: It might.  Transformed like old parchment, like layers of rotting leaves.
MAX: The battery won’t last.
FENELLA: It might.
MAX: But, do we really want to invest our time in this?
FENELLA: What could go wrong?!  One of us pegs it and the other one’s left to perform live in sync with the recording?
MAX: I hadn’t thought of that.  How—
SOUND: CLICK

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

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: