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"Ships in a Bottle"

"Ships in a Bottle" is a light hearted time travel/computer adventure that pits 17th Century Carribean pirates against a team of engineers for control of their computer. "Ships in a Bottle" is copyrighted and registered with the Writers League.
                                          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.