2000 AD Sampler Script

FUTURE SHOCKS

TITLE: Family Business

 

By Gary Simpson

 

PAGE ONE

1. We open with a small inset panel, a ‘mug shot’ of Alex Wheeler. White, late thirties, buzz cut black hair, square jaw – military through and through. Wearing combat fatigues and a helmet, he scowls at the camera.

CAPTION:

WAR IS MY FAMILY BUSINESS.

2. Ext, day. A wide vista cityscape of the future. A gleaming utopian metropolis. All our sci-fi dreams have come true. It’s a technological paradise.

CAPTION:

MY FATHER SERVED, MY GRANDFATHER BEFORE HIM.

CAPTION:

THINGS WERE DIFFERENT BACK THEN, SIMPLER. THESE DAYS WE LIVE IN AN AGE OF UNPRECEDENTED TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION AND SOCIAL ACCORD. WAR IS A THING OF THE PAST.

3. Ext, day. Establishing shot of a Victory, Inc. skyscraper. V.I. is a corporate multinational dedicated to the business of war. The building is like a bayonet jutting into the sky.

CAPTION:

JUST MEANS WE HAVE TO WORK A LITTLE HARDER TO GET TO IT.

4. Int, day. Inside the building. From an elevated perspective we look down on the Transportation Room, a vast hall that doubles as a large-scale time travel machine. Along with the various technicians busily calibrating the equipment, an army of roughly five hundred men is assembled. They’re dressed as fourteenth century English soldiers.

CAPTION:

TIME TRAVEL BECAME A REALITY TWENTY YEARS AGO. USAGE IS STRICTLY REGULATED, BUT THERE ARE WAYS AROUND IT.

CAPTION:

ESPECIALLY FOR MULTINATIONALS LIKE VICTORY, INC.

CAPTION:

FORMALLY AN ARMS MANUFACTURER, WITH THE ADVENT OF PEACE V.I. DIVERSIFIED INTO WAR’S NEXT BIG THING: CHRONAL CONFLICT.

5. Tight on Alex Wheeler, one of the soldiers. His attire is very different to his mug shot, but he offers us the same confrontational scowl.

CAPTION:

MERCS LIKE MYSELF ARE COMMISSIONED BY VESTED PARTIES TO GO BACK IN TIME AND FIGHT HISTORY’S BATTLES, TO NUDGE THE OUTCOME IN A CERTAIN DIRECTION.

6. Ext, day. We find ourselves in a field outside Durham, in October of 1346 – the Battle of Neville’s Cross. The final battle in Henry II’s unsuccessful bid to invade the north of England, roughly 12,000 Scottish troops face off against the same number of English. The backdrop is war, but this panel focuses on Alex in the heat of battle, delivering a mortal sword blow to one of the Scottish soldiers.

CAPTION:

WHICH IS HOW A BORN AND BRED TWENTY-SECOND-CENTURY JARHEAD FINDS HIMSELF IN A FIELD IN DURHAM IN 1346.

CAPTION:

THERE ARE RULES: JUST ENOUGH OF US TO TIP THE BALANCE ARE ALLOWED THROUGH, ONLY ERA-COMPLIANT EQUIPMENT IS PERMITTED, AND THERE’S STRICTLY NO FRATERNISING. WE TURN UP, DO OUR THING, AND GO.

CAPTION:

AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, EVEN IF WE LOSE, V.I. GETS PAID.

 

PAGE TWO

1. Tight on Alex, in a battle frenzy, his gritted teeth spattered with the enemy’s blood.

CAPTION: 

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DANGERS OF CHANGING THE PAST? AREN’T WE PLACING REALITY ITSELF IN JEOPARDY?

CAPTION:

REALITY’S MORE ROBUST THAN YOU MIGHT THINK. IT ADAPTS.

CAPTION:

AS DO WE. THERE ARE ALWAYS CHANGES WHEN WE RETURN, BUT THEY’RE ONLY CHANGES FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES US TO ADJUST.

2. Behind a Scottish soldier, who has been run through by Alex, still in the grip of his berserker rage.

CAPTION:

I READ UP ON THIS ONE. DAVID II SURVIVES THE BATTLE AND REIGNS AS KING OF SCOTS FOR THE NEXT TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.

CAPTION:

WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT.

3. A small panel. Looking up at Alex as he looks down at us, his expression one of sudden shock.

CAPTION:

MY GOD…

4. From Alex’s POV we look down at the dead Scottish soldier he’s just run through. It’s unmistakably Alex, only an older version of him, in his late forties, his hair flecked white and his features lined.

CAPTION:

ME!

5. Int, day. We are back in the Transportation Room of the Victory, Inc. building. Around him his fellow survivors strip off their muddy, bloody armour, while Alex is frozen, stunned by the magnitude of what’s just happened.

CAPTION:

I DON’T HAVE TIME TO DWELL. BEFORE I KNOW IT THE BATTLE’S WON AND WE’RE YANKED BACK TO THE FUTURE.

CAPTION:

IT’S DIFFERENT. HISTORY, POLITICS, SOCIETY, ALL OF IT SUBTLY ALTERED. I NEVER MET MAGGIE.

CAPTION:

HOW STRANGE. MY WIFE’S NAME IS CAROLINE.

6. Int, night. The living room of Alex’s futuristic (although still familiar) home. He sits on the couch, brooding. His wife, Caroline, a pretty brunette a few years younger than him, stands behind him, one hand on his shoulder, concerned.

CAPTION:

THEN EVERYTHING ADJUSTS AND IT ISN’T STRANGE AT ALL – IT JUST IS.

CAROLINE:

DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?

CAPTION:

I KILLED MYSELF. AN OLDER VERSION OF ME. IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?

7. Tight on Alex. He looks haunted.

CAPTION:

I TRY TO TELL MYSELF I WAS MISTAKEN, THE HEAT OF BATTLE. MAYBE HE JUST LOOKED LIKE ME.

CAPTION:

BULLSHIT. WHEN I KILLED HIM IT WAS LIKE AN ELECTRIC CURRENT PASSED BETWEEN US.

 

PAGE THREE

1. Int, day. The bathroom. Alex, wearing only a towel around his waist, his body a roadmap of scars, is shaving. Except he isn’t. He’s staring at his reflection in the mirror.

CAPTION:

I’M A DEAD MAN. MURDERED BY MY OWN HAND. I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.

CAPTION:

HAUNTED BY MYSELF.

2. Tight on Alex again. This time he looks resolute.

CAPTION:

THE ANSWER’S SIMPLE. DON’T GO ANYWHERE NEAR THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY. I CAN’T KILL MYSELF IF I’M NOT THERE.

3. Ext, day. Outside the city of Worcester, the year of our Lord 1651. We’re watching the final battle of the English civil war, the Battle of Worcester. Alex and his fellow mercenaries, fighting on the side of King Charles II’s Royalists, are in the process of rewriting history by defeating the Parliamentarians, led by Oliver Cromwell. In this large, gore-soaked panel, Alex does what he does best, and hacks an enemy soldier to death, while around him the battle rages.

CAPTION:

1651. THE BATTLE OF WORCESTER.

CAPTION:

A TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE OF WHAT WE DO. CROMWELL’S FORCES ARE ROUTED, JUST THE DREGS TO MOP UP.

CAPTION:

I LASH OUT, BATTLE-BLIND–

4. Tight on the ‘real’ Alex. Horror and incredulity cross his features as he realises what he’s done.

CAPTION:

THE SAME ELECTRICITY, THE SAME DREAD CERTAINTY THAT IT’S ME.

5. The dying Parliamentarian soldier. It’s another version of Alex, this one even older and more careworn than the last. But still recognisably Alex.

CAPTION:

I’VE DONE IT AGAIN. KILLED MYSELF.

6. Int, night. Alex is at home (a different home and a different living room to the last version, but broadly similar). In the foreground he drinks a large shot of whisky. In the background his wife, Helene, looks on anxiously. Helene is another pretty brunette, not too far removed from Caroline.

CAPTION:

MY WIFE HELENE  - I DO SEEM TO FAVOUR BRUNETTES – KNOWS SOMETHING’S WRONG. I TELL HER IT’S NOTHING.

CAPTION:

IT’S EVERYTHING. IT CONSUMES ME. WHAT’S HAPPENING? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE?

CAPTION:

A SANE MAN WOULD QUIT, FIND A HOBBY. BUT I’M OBSESSED. I HAVE TO FOLLOW IT TO THE BITTER END, DISCOVER WHAT IT MEANS.

 

PAGE FOUR 

1. Ext, day. North-eastern France, 1916. The longest and one of the most devastating battles of the First World War, the Battle of Verdun. We look down at a dead French soldier, lying in the blasted dirt of no-man’s-land. Again, it’s an older version of Alex, this one bald, in his sixties.

CAPTION:

THE BATTLE OF WILSON’S CREEK GOES WITHOUT A HITCH. AND THE BATTLE OF AD DECIMUM.

CAPTION:

AT VERDUN I KILL MYSELF AGAIN.

2. Tight on Alex, dressed as a German soldier. He’s visibly aged since we first met him, the horrors of war and the terrible pressure he’s under taking their toll, slowly driving him mad. He weeps.

CAPTION:

I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH MORE I CAN TAKE.

3. Ext, day. A small establishing panel of the Victory, Inc. building.

CAPTION:

THIS TIME I’M DIVORCED. TWICE.

CAPTION:

WAIT A MINUTE… I HAVE A KID. A SON FROM MY FIRST MARRIAGE. I NEVER HAVE KIDS…

CAPTION:

THEN IT HITS ME, A COSMIC REVELATION. I HAVEN’T BEEN KILLING MYSELF, I’VE BEEN KILLING MY KIDS. AND MY KIDS’ KIDS, AND PROBABLY THEIR KIDS.

CAPTION:

TOLD YOU WAR’S IN OUR BLOOD.

4. A figure materialises on the sidewalk. It’s a younger version of Alex – or, more accurately, one of Alex’s future relatives, the ones he’s been inadvertently killing. The kid, who is barely out of his teens, wears a miniature time displacement device on his wrist, and is carrying a pistol. His expression is grim.

CAPTION:

CONFIRMATION ARRIVES IN THE FORM OF MY GREAT-GREAT-GREAT… WHATEVER. FROM A FUTURE WHERE TIME TRAVEL IS EVEN EASIER AND LESS REGULATED.

CAPTION:

I DON’T KNOW HOW HE KNOWS. MAYBE HE FINALLY PUT THE PIECES TOGETHER. MAYBE MY OWN SUDDEN REVELATION PLAYED A PART.

5. Tighter on the kid. He fires the pistol at us, his face a mask of hatred.

CAPTION:

RIPPLES IN A POND.

KID:

FOR MY FATHER.

6. Alex laid on the ground, dying. For the first time he looks serene, at peace.

CAPTION:

AN ELECTRIC CURRENT PASSES BETWEEN US. IT’S NO BIG DEAL.

CAPTION:

JUST FAMILY BUSINESS.

 

DTP: THE END!