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Jim Isbell Copyright 1996 Austin Texas USA FADE IN EXT. AN ANCIENT SAILING SHIP AT SEA - NIGHT An ancient galleon at sea. A fierce storm blows, wind tears the sails from the masts. The ship pitches about helplessly totally out of control. INT. BELOW DECKS AT THE BRIG - NIGHT A 17th century sailor, GABE, bearded, scruffy, tries to open the lock of the brig. The pitching of the ship makes it difficult for him to get the key into the lock. There are two men, CURLY and JACK, scruffy bearded sailors, and a girl, MARUSHA, 25, pretty but dirty, in a peasants dress, in the cell. Gabe fumbles with the lock. GABE The ship is sinking! They've left us to drown. The bastards have left us to drown. The lock comes open and the three prisoners escape. The group heads up the passageway onto the deck. EXT. ON DECK - NIGHT On the deck they run about as if searching for something. Finally they find it. There is one longboat still hanging from a divot on one end. The other end has fallen to the deck. The four get the boat lose and over the side into the water. They jump into the water and climb aboard the boat. Just then, before the longboat can pull away from the ship a bolt of lightning hits the top of the mast and sets the uppermost sails afire. A blue aura overtakes the entire ship and the longboat from the top down. The sea suddenly calms and a haze settles over the scene. The longboat pulls away from the ship as it lies sinking and burning in the background. EXT. THE MOTHER SHIP - DAY IN THE NOT TOO DISTANT FUTURE The "Mother Ship" is a company composed of a group of buildings made of a terra cotta colored adobe clustered along a short street separate from the rest of the town near a small lake and field of reeds. The fronts of the buildings are decorated like store fronts and are the homes of each of the different departments of the company. EXT. STORE FRONTS - DAY The names on the fronts of the "stores" are "Go Cafe", "Fiddle", "Ships Store" and others. The names are in neon in some cases and in others are painted on the glass fronts. The whole scene has the effect of a small town in New Mexico in the late 50s (Art Deco). EXT. FISHING VILLAGE - DAY Some distance from the Mother Ship toward the small (about 25 acres) lake is a small cluster of buildings that look like a fishing village. They are right at the edge of a field of reeds and Cat tails. The wooden exteriors are gray and weathered and the several store fronts seem to be selling crafts and fishing supplies. The cables from all the offices of the Mother Ship all lead to this cluster of fishing buildings. From here they lead into the reeds to a small cluster of duck blinds that have many dish antennas aimed overhead. INT. THE MAIN OFFICE AT THE MOTHER SHIP - DAY On the desk is a huge glass bottle lying on its side. Inside the bottle is a model of an old sailing ship that is made of computer chips and electronic components. The wiring of the circuit makes up the rigging and a large black umbilical cord comes out the otherwise sealed mouth of the bottle. The umbilical cord goes into a fitting on the wall nearby. JIM, 50's, gray, dark slacks and white shirt, ROGER, 35ish, dark slacks, white shirt, COL. MARTIN, 60ish, three piece dark suit and BILL 20s, blue jeans and tee shirt, mild British accent, are in the room. JIM Well, there it is. Jim waves toward the bottle on the desk. JIM We just were able to fit it into the bottle. Every circuit needed to control El Paso is in there. Looks great doesn't it? ROGER I would have liked the steam ship model better. It really represented the technological progress we've made on this system recently. But it does look good, I'll give you that. COL. MARTIN On another subject, you two guys are the Gurus on this project and I need some of your expertise in Greenwich. Jim turns to look at Bill. JIM Bill is pretty well versed in this project. He speaks English too. Not American, but real English. He spent two years in Salisbury, just outside of London, studying Stonehenge. Jim pauses JIM Damned if I can figure out how you could spend two years looking at a bunch of rocks, but he did learn the language. COL. MARTIN Yeah, I know but he just doesn't have the confidence of the stock holders and we have to keep them happy too. JIM Damn the stockholders, we have a job to do. COL. MARTIN Well we need someone who can teach those Limeys a thing or two. They just don't understand our technology. ROGER You know,... one of those idiots wanted us to make fog. Hell, that's why we started this whole thing in the first place, to eliminate smog and fog. JIM I think Bill is a good choice too, but if you need one of the two of us I guess one of us will have to go. ROGER I really don't think I can leave here. This system is an evolving, living, thing. JIM If I'm away for any length of time, even just a month, I'll be unable to catch up to its evolution. ROGER I think that we should alternate. First JIM goes then I'll go. We could alternate every two weeks. BILL If you're through with me, I'll get back to the bench. Bill leaves the room. COL. MARTIN I think that's a perfect solution. Since you thought of it, Roger, you can go first. ROGER Maybe we should get the rest of the board to look at it first. COL. MARTIN Hell no, if we let them discuss this it would be six months before they made a decision. By then London would be destroyed. Jim turns and looks at Roger. JIM Do you know what those Limeys did last week? They let it rain for 4 hours at 3 inches an hour on Clappham South. It flooded the subway. COL. MARTIN And the resulting short on the electric utility blacked out the entire city. It was worse than the Blitz! JIM I had one old man call me and say that he thought we had done more damage in two days of incompetence than Hitler did in two years of bombing. Roger looks depressed. ROGER Okay, when do I leave? COL. MARTIN In the morning, the tickets are on the way up now. By the way, you'll like the Greenwich office. It's patterned after an old sailing ship down at the docks. JIM Looks something like this. Jim jerks a thumb toward the computer. INT. MARY'S OFFICE AT THE MOTHER SHIP - DAY Roger and Jim talk with Mary. Roger looks very self-conscious Jim is quite at ease. The two men are like two stags trying to impress the young female. ROGER All I have to do is make some changes in the config.sys file and it should work. MARY How do you figure out what parts of the file to change? Jim grins. JIM He just guesses. Roger shows irritation with a frown. ROGER No, there is method in my madness. I have a good idea of what it should be doing. Roger trails off. JIM Really its quite simple. You just eliminate all the lines you know are not needed immediately.... Mary interrupts Jim. MARY Is this going to be real technical? JIM No, its real easy. after you find the right line then you figure out what is wrong with it. Simple, right? Jim leans on the desk and looks intently into Mary's face. JIM Computers really aren't too hard to fathom. Just takes lots of experience for it to be natural. MARY Well, they have always seemed somehow like magic to me. JIM Those of us who are "Gurus" like to keep it that way. We like being the Merlin's of our society. MARY You aren't keeping it a secret. JIM No, but then, just as Merlin, I am a sucker for an attractive woman. Roger throws his hands into the air in a gesture of victory. ROGER Eureka, I've done it. I don't think you'll have anymore problems with it now. Roger swivels around in his chair to face the other two. ROGER One of the drivers was installed too early and it was stealing time from every clock cycle. MARY I'm really impressed. JIM Well, for a young kid he did Okay, but he needs more years before he becomes really good at anything. ROGER What are you doing here anyway? JIM Oh,.... I just came by to see what the schedule was. The Chamber of Commerce is planning a picnic. MARY Here's a schedule for the next two weeks. JIM They're planning a picnic for Saturday afternoon in the park at Jaurez. Can we hold the rain to the north side of the city until after 5pm? Jim turns toward Mary. JIM I'd like to take you to the picnic if you're free. Jim takes her hand and kisses it while bowing in a very exaggerated way. Mary pulls her hand back quickly. MARY Hey, you can get germs that way. EXT. THE PARK IN JUAREZ - DAY Jim and Mary spread a blanket on the grass. There is a wicker picnic basket nearby. MARY I wish Roger had been able to join us for the picnic. Jim shakes out the blanket and lays it on the ground. JIM Yeah, its too bad that equipment I ordered was coming in this afternoon and needed his signature. I should have thought about that when I ordered it. MARY Do you think we should be so far from the rest of the crowd? JIM Trust me, I know Jaurez and I can tell you that this is the best location in the park. Mary and Jim situate themselves on the blanket and open the picnic basket. Jim withdraws a bottle of wine with no label. JIM I made this myself. I have a huge Mustang grape vine in the front yard. With an exaggerated movement he reaches into the basket and withdraw a white linen towel to wrap around the bottle then finds a cork screw and carefully screws it into the top. JIM You have to be very careful when you open home made wine. Jim pours wine for Mary and himself then spreads out a small table cloth and covers it with a spread of food of all kinds. Mary's eyes open wide at the display. MARY I have never seen so much food. Where did you learn to cook. JIM I did it in self defense. When I lost my wife,..... Jim puts on a mock sorrowing look as if he is about to cry. JIM it was either cook or starve. EXT. THE GREENWICH FACILITY - DAY Roger arrives at the Greenwich facility. The ship is a very good replica of a genuine sailing vessel. It is tied up at the dock. There are real cloth sails tied to the yardarms and real longboats hang from the davits. The only thing to give it away is the group of dish antennas on the foredeck. Roger walks up the gangplank and straight into the front office. INT. THE MAIN OFFICE AT THE GREENWICH FACILITY - DAY SEAN, 30ish, very English accent, is seated behind a desk watching a small TV screen on the corner of the desk. Roger walks into the office. ROGER What the hell are you doing? Don't you know there's a fog alert at the airport? Sean sits up removing his feet from the desk. SEAN Yes, and it will last for another 20 minutes. Who the hell are you? ROGER Your boss. SEAN Oops, you must be Roger Michaels. ROGER You got it! Now lets get this fog cleared up and we'll discuss protocol later. SEAN (mocking drawl) Circle up the wagons, Partner. ROGER First I want to know why all the fog? SEAN That's what people want, we have always had it. ROGER Did you ever take a poll? How do you know that's what they want? SEAN Well, its the way we have always done it and I don't see any reason to change it. ROGER You weren't on that airplane when we came in to Gatwick in 'zero-zero'. SEAN They say its safe, as being in your mothers arms. ROGER I know computers too well to trust them. I think if you've gotta have fog you should keep it away from the airport. SEAN I happen to like fog, and besides the computer is doing it without any help from me. I say let sleeping dogs lie. ROGER Like the sleeping dog that lifted its leg and pissed on Clappham South last week? SEAN We've seen worse in London. I don't see why we should get all excited over just a computer glitch. ROGER That's the problem with you Brits, you never see any reason to get excited. SEAN Life is to short to get excited over every glitch and bump. ROGER Life is too short not to get excited. ... Which reminds me I brought over a case of Wick Fowlers Four Alarm chili. SEAN Not again? We did that once. ROGER We're gonna have a party and I am gonna show you guys how to eat, none of that boiled lamb. SEAN I happen to like Lamb just as much as I like fog. ROGER Well, were gonna have real Texas style chili, tortillas to scoop it down with and Lone Star beer to wash down the pipes. SEAN I'd better warn the chaps. Some of them are still seeing their gastroenterologists from that last visit. ROGER The trouble with the English is they don't know good food when they eat it. SEAN The trouble with Americans is that they think everyone has a cast iron stomach. You chaps have stomachs that will digest tin cans. ROGER It comes from a discerning diet. SEAN It comes from living with those Indian savages for the last 300 years.