I tweeted that yesterday around 3:30 in the afternoon. I was in the middle of working on a pitch, and thought it would be essential (and fun) to take a break from it. I find writing impromptu short stories a really good exercise in writing, not only to give your brain a break from what you’re doing, but also a chance to try new things out. To write from the hip, so to speak. And hey, practice never hurts. So I did just that, and I challenged anyone on twitter to do the same. Whether they did or not, I don’t know, but I felt like doing it, so I did.
I wrote a six-pager with no prior outline. I thought up a concept on the spot, wrote a bunch of bullet points, a very brief outline, then hit the scripting stage and worked it out there. It’s ugly, quick, dirty, I haven’t edited it or proofed it, and it’s probably not very good at all, but that’s not the point. It was an exercise and I had fun with it. Kind of like a micronanowrimo.
So here it is, a six-page comic script called STEM•SELL. Read it if you like. I encourage you to make these little challenges for yourself if you get the chance.
DEXTER walks with his back to us. He’s downtown. It’s the near future. It’s gritty and shitty and electric and too bright and entirely too dark at the same time. If the shittiest part of New York had a baby with the shittiest part of Vegas, and that city-baby grew up on meth but the one dead-beat parent still pumped enough change to keep the lights going, that’s the kind of city this is. 24-hour convenience stores that sell 3D TV’s next to 24-hour peepshow booths next to high-rise apartments with 250 square-feet and no drapes. Blade Runner meets Trainspotting.
CAP: I know a place.
We cut to a close up of Dexter. He’s young, probably twenty-three. Mildly unshaven, he’s about twenty pounds too thin. His clothes are decent though. His hair is longer than short, but not long enough to do anything with. It just kind of hangs there to one side. Deep sunk-in eyes.
CAP: Not many people know about it, but it’s there. I’ve been once before.
Dexter bangs on a big iron door set into a cobblestone wall. To anyone else it just looks like one of the many shitty doorways in any old shitty alley.
CAP: I’ve been saving up for today.
BEHIND DOOR: The fuck do you want?
DEXTER: I’m here for the two o’clock.
Cut to an aerial shot of the alley. The door opens and Dexter walks in.
We meet TRIGGER, the proprietor of this fine establishment, sitting at a desk in front of a chain-link guarded entrance. He’s a shrimpy, greasy, balding old man, with big glasses that magnify his eyes quite comically. He wears a white button-up oxford with sweat stains soaking through like oil through a paper bag. He runs this establishment.
TRIGGER: You’re late. The men aren’t too happy. We’ve cancelled appointments for less.
We move back a bit to see Dexter respond. Trigger has his back to him as he leads the way further into the establishment.
DEXTER: Give me a break, I’ve already paid.
TRIGGER: It’s a slow day, so you’re in luck. Follow me.
Trigger has led Dexter into a large, open, circular room. Futuristic, with high-wattage lights placed around the circumference. We focus on a chair, not unlike one you’d find at a dentist’s office, in the middle of the room, not far from a large cylindrical structure that extends from the floor to the ceiling. Television screens line the structure from top to bottom, three-sixty-degrees. The other side of the cylindrical structure, opposite the side with the dentist chair, has a half-moon shaped series of booths with soft seating. Static plays on the televisions right now. Trigger points to the chair.
TRIGGER: Go on and get comfy. I’ll tell the clients we’re ready to begin.
Trigger stands near an open door at the edge of the room. Fat businessmen in suits begin to herd into the room, each one sweatier and more porcine than the last.
TRIGGER: Gentlemen, gentlemen, please. Take a seat, settle in. Show’s about to start.
We move back out to see the whole room. Dexter is now in the chair, leaning way back, uncomfortably. The half-moon of couches that line the structure are now filled with sitting, porcine, sweating businessmen.
Trigger hovers over the chair with Dexter in it. He’s holding a very large, very industrial looking syringe that has a very long, very industrial looking rubber tubing coming out of it.
TRIGGER: You done this once before, you know the drill. I stick this right into you and start pumping in the juice. Ready?
DEXTER: Don’t skimp on the dose, I paid you extra.
We close up on Trigger’s hand, shoving this huge, barbaric fucking syringe into the side of Dexter’s neck. The skin on his neck puckers like a cat’s asshole around the needle that’s so big, it makes a turkey baster look like a q-tip.
TRIGGER: Like hot butter. That’s gotta feel like shit.
We cut to a large glass vial with the same rubber tubing coming out the bottom. It’s full of clear liquid that begins to bubble down.
TRIGGER: Aw shit, hold on to your piss, man.
We cut to the businessmen sitting on the couches. The televisions come to life, casting a light over them. Servers, men and women, walk behind the half-moon shape of couches, carrying trays of alcoholic drinks and drug paraphernalia. one of the less piggish men in a suit pipes up, leaning over to the skinny, anxious pervert next to him.
PIGGISH MAN LEFT: The young ones always have the best shows. Could be good.
PIGGISH MAN RIGHT: Good. So good.
Trigger stands before the awful business men with his arms outstretched. The TV’s are glowing behind him, each one showing the same thing: Dexter in the chair, magnified.
TRIGGER: Gentlemen, I’ll leave you to it. You’re in good hands. Enjoy the show.
Close up on a businessman biting his lip. Behind him we can see others hooting and hollering.
Cut to a close up of Dexter’s face. His eyes roll back into his head and his mouth falls open to one side. The rubber tubing that comes out of the syringe in his neck is practically undulating with the sheer amount of drugs being pumped right into his body.
OFF-PANEL: I can see something…
OFF-PANEL: Quiet, it’s starting!
We see the men on the couch now, they begin jumping and drinking. One of the men is kissing a server. Another man is snorting coke. The televisions show what Dexter is tripping, like a direct line into his brain. We see what he sees. He’s having a crazy motorcycle fantasy. He’s racing a speed bike down a technicolor, futuristic highway.
Close up on Dexter’s face again. His expression changes from comatose to strained. His eyes shut tight, his teeth clenched. Beads of sweat run down his forehead and face. His skin goes clammy and grey, the circles around his eyes go darker.
OFF-PANEL: Get to the good stuff!
Cut to Dexter’s trip. We see behind him. He’s on a motorcycle, big, futuristic and red. He’s tearing down what looks to be a desert hill. The horizon line turns into the giant head of a woman with cherry-red lips and a black cat mask.
OFF-PANEL: Here we go, fellas.
Cut to a close up on Dexter. His face, while still sweaty and grey, is now more tranquil.
Close up on a pair of cherry-red lips, slightly open.
Close up on a sweaty, piggish, porcine businessman, his tongue wagging out like an over-heated dog.
Close up on a pair of high-heeled boots digging into someone’s back.
Close up on a sweaty, awful businessman. He’s straining and serious, obviously being lewd, but off-panel.
Close up on Dexter’s face, now smiling hard.
Close up on the woman in the drug trip. It’s the same face from the end of the motorcycle trip. She wears a cat mask and throws her hair back so it sticks straight up in the air. She holds a pistol while she blows a kiss.
We cut to the couch of businessmen. We see the scene from over the shoulder of one of the male servers, holding a tray, as he looks down on the sitting, sweaty businessmen. Clothes are now strewn about among empty bottles and silver trays of cocaine. One of the businessmen cranes his head around to look at the server. A sick sneer
Cut to close up of Dexter. His eyes pop open, his face stern as rock.
The woman tears her own flesh off to reveal Dexter inside of her. He peels her outer layer off, as if he was simply wearing her flesh as leotard.
Soaked in blood, Dexter holds up a samurai sword. Wild colors and patterns begin to emit from his body.
Cut to a busy city street. Dexter stands with his sword at his side while a crowd begins to run away screaming.
Cut to close up of Dexter slicing into the crowd. The sword cuts through the tops of three people’s heads in one swing. Blood and brains shoot out like geysers. Dexter is soaked.
Cut to an extreme close up of one of the businessmen in reality, an intense and painful expression on his face.
Cut to Dexter’s trip. He’s being a businessman, but the businessman has a pig face. Dexter’s sword comes down on the man’s shoulder, slicing him in half down the the hip, his body separating like a firewood log.
Cut to another extreme close up in reality, a skinny businessman’s eyes roll back.
Close up on Dexter in his drug trip. He stands, facing the camera, his sword by his side, his other hand clutching the air. He’s soaked in blood and smiling, panting. Only the whites of his eyes and his teeth cutting out through the crimson. An absolute slaughter.
We mimic the last panel, with Dexter standing soaked in blood, but now it’s reality. We’re in the establishment. Dexter is no longer in the chair. He stands in the middle of the room, though we can’t see anything else. He’s sweaty, and disheveled, and the syringe with the heavy industrial rubber tubing still hangs from the cat asshole on his neck. Just like in his trip, he’s soaked in blood.
We cut to an aerial shot of the establishment. Dexter stands in the center of the room. The TVs now just static. The businessmen lay in piles, dismembered and pooling blood, disassembled all over the place.
Back to Dexter. He winces as he pulls the unreasonably large syringe out of the cat asshole it made on his neck. One last spurt of the juice leaks out.
We move behind Dexter, over his shoulder. We see the carnage. Businessmen, servers, couches. All dead.
We cut to floor level. Dexter’s boot splashes in a pool of blood next to a severed head. A gold rolex watch ticking away next to it.
We’re back at the front of the establishment. Dexter walks out of the chain-link guarded in area by the front desk. He looks completely unfazed. Trigger sits at the front desk, counting money, not even looking up.
DEXTER: Same time next week?
TRIGGER: Same time. But not late this time.