© MIRIAM ENGLISH, APRIL 2005
MAN IN BLACK - skinny, neat, nondescript. His black clothes are ordinary, inexpensive, worn and faded to an uneven grey. He doesn't speak at all.
PREACHER - large, but not quite fat, he has a rich, deep voice, loves the sound of it. He wears only the most expensive suits.
TV INTERVIEWER - attractive woman
SECURITY - doesn't speak.
Luxury hotel: two rooms (could use the one set), two corridors (could use the one set) and a lift (can be omitted).
|1.||INT. HOTEL ROOM. Day.||1.|
A room in a luxury hotel. Although daytime the room is only dimly lit by light from the window and a television.
The MAN IN BLACK is assembling something on the coffee table. It has a lot of parts and he is unrushed and methodical. A TV remote is also on the table.
He looks up from time to time to watch a report on the TV and when he does he usually pauses in his assembly. He sometimes takes a drink of milk from a glass, and occasionally a bite from a salad sandwich.
The TV show is some kind of current affairs program concerning a fundamentalist Christian PREACHER. He is being interviewed by an attractive TV INTERVIEWER.
(addressing the camera)
...will be delivering a talk tonight at a stadium of some twenty thousand people.
(TURNS TO THE PREACHER)
Will you tell us something of what will be the topic Sir?
Certainly Sara. I'll be speaking of something that concerns us all greatly: the rapture.
What do you mean by that?
The rapture is the end of this world. For some of us it will be the beginning of the new reign of our Lord and Saviour; for others it will be the beginning of eternal damnation. And it is just around the corner. The time has almost come.
Do you mean the Second Coming?
The preacher talks down to the interviewer, though pleasantly enough. We get the impression he is used to considering most people as inferior, because he's their shepherd, leading them in the right direction.
That's the one, yes Sara.
Can you tell us why you think this is imminent?
Well, yes I can, but if people want to find out all the details they should come along to the talk tonight. There are many signs given in the Bible that current events are leading up to the cataclysmic next stage in God's plan.
No offence Reverend, but many religions have been saying this for centuries. What makes this particular time special?
The faintest frown indicates the preacher's displeasure at being challenged this way, but he answers affably enough.
Well, for one thing it is the first time that world leaders in multiple countries have joined with the church in opposing the forces of Satan and working to complete God's plan here on Earth. Together we are eagerly looking forward to the coming day of Judgement.
Some are calling this the most dangerous time in history; that you are unbalancing a fragile peace in many places around the world.
The frown is a little more visible this time, but still only fleeting, and he still answers cheerfully.
It is a dangerous time for the unbelievers. The righteous will be saved and ascend into the light, leaving behind chaos and misery. But this danger has always existed for your eternal soul. It's just more visible now.
And the charge that the Christian right are unbalancing peace...?
This question causes him to show his annoyance and he clearly frowns at the interviewer.
No. Not at all. We are making a final effort to reach as many people as possible with the Word, before the end of days and this requires that we ignore so-called political and cultural conventions. This has annoyed many unbelievers, but we can't, in all conscience, help that.
Burning and bombing places of worship for other faiths, death-threats to prominent atheists, calling for invasion or destruction of all countries dominated by other faiths...?
He is starting to be worried about the turn this interview is taking, but he presses on... after all, he feels god on his side.
You have to understand we are running out of time. We have to save as many as possible before our Lord returns. We have a moral obligation to reach out and not be swayed by those who would prevent God's word reaching all of His children. We must use all the resources at our disposal to ensure the success of His grand design.
The interviewer looks concerned. She pauses for a moment to look at her list of questions.
Speaking of resources, Reverend, ecologists and green groups are furious that environmental laws are being weakened or even abolished...
He butts in and talks over her.
Godless ecologists and evolutionists have propagated an awful lie. As stated in the good Book, man has been given dominion over the Earth. God has ensured that there will always be resources aplenty.
She looks a little surprised.
We have removed 90% of the fish from the oceans...
The man-in-black has assembled the object, and it is a gun of some odd design. He holds it up and sights down it, aiming it at the preacher on the TV. His face is expressionless except for an appearance of tiredness. Then he puts it down on the table to begin its disassembly again. This is a much faster process.
Oh fiddlesticks! How can anybody really know that? What, did someone go out and count the fish? Let's be realistic here, the world's oceans are effectively a limitless resource.
The preacher chuckles, leaning back in his chair, looking like someone's amiable grandfather. The interviewer is a little flustered.
But surely you must consider a margin for error. What about the kind of world our children will inherit.
You see Sara, you are making the mistake of thinking like a secularist. After the great conflagration God will have done with this world. The believers will be with Him, and the non-believers... well, they will inherit what they have been warned they will inherit.
The interviewer is aghast.
...a world unfit for life?
Pleased, the preacher nods happily. No malice showing at all.
Exactly, my dear.
Clearly shaken, the interviewer concludes her interview...
Thank you for joining us today Reverend.
Cuts to her facing the camera,
TV INTERVIEWER (CONT'D)
And now to comment on that interview, which was recorded earlier today we have with us in the studio...
The man-in-black presses the TV remote control and the television switches off. He takes a few more moments to complete the disassembly. Then he sits back, contemplating the parts laid out neatly before him on the coffee table. They don't look anything like a gun, laid out like this.
Calmly, unhurriedly, he takes the pieces, and puts them in his pockets -- no more than a couple of parts in each pocket. He has several pockets. Lastly he lifts what is clearly a small, blunt bullet and holds it before him for a moment... then bends down and tucks it into the top of his right sock.
Now he stands, with the glass of remaining milk. He drinks it and replaces the empty glass on the table exactly where he picked it up from -- on the ring of water condensed onto the cold glass. He picks up what is left of the sandwich and walks to the window of the room. He silently finishes the sandwich while gazing out the window.
We look with him out the window. There is a sequence of images, mostly long distance views, but a few close-ups of birds, flowers, insects. All are very ordinary pictures, but pleasant and life-affirming. We see blue sky, clouds, seagulls, and pigeons, a butterfly, ants near a window sill, a dog playing. Long distance views of the city, possibly sailing boats on the water, a park with trees and lawns, kites flying... it all brings home to us just how many people live, play, and work here. Cars bustle and pedestrians go about their business far below. (Don't include any police, fire, or ambulance sirens in the sounds.)
When he's finished the sandwich he absently brushes his hands together, but continues to stand there. He closes his eyes. (The volume of the city noises increases as we listen with him -- radios, traffic, children's laughter, people's conversation. It would be good to add in the sound of the Apollo 11 moon landing too, to indicate it is not just sounds of the present, but remembered sounds too.) He listens for a while as if he was listening to far music. He looks very tired.
We hear a buzzing. He opens his eyes again. There is a wasp-like insect (perhaps a harmless, but scary-looking soldier fly, or maybe a similarly scary-looking, but harmless crane fly... otherwise a housefly will do) trying to escape through the glass of the window. The man-in-black opens the window and uses his hand to guide the creature out the gap to freedom. His face remains expressionless.
Suddenly he appears gripped by a terrible headache. Both hands go to his temples and he goes white, with sweat breaking out. He makes no noise -- leaning against the wall near the window, a little bent over in obvious pain.
Presently the pain eases and he straightens. He is trembling, but that, too, soon passes and he looks more relaxed again.
He rubs his face, walks back to the coffee table and picks up a small object that looks like an electronic remote key for a car. He doesn't pocket it, but keeps it in his hand. Now he walks to the door and through it into the corridor beyond. He doesn't bother locking the door.
We follow him down the corridor to the lift, where he presses the button and waits. Near the lift is a pot-plant. He touches it, rubs it between thumb and finger, feeling the texture of the leaves. He doesn't do this in a weird way; it is how a botanist might examine a plant when identifying it.
Ding! The lift has arrived. He steps in and selects the button for a higher floor. Doors close and up we go. There is a scrap of litter on the floor. He bends down, picks it up and puts it into the bin when he exits the lift.
He walks down a corridor similar to the one on his own floor.
There is a SECURITY MAN guarding a door ahead.
The man-in-black continues to walk toward the guard, and triggers the small device in his hand. Tiny coloured lights on it flash.
It is as if the security guy doesn't even see him -- looks right through him while scanning the corridor left and right.
The man-in-black simply walks past the security man to the door and opens it, unchallenged.
We follow the man-in-black into the room. He closes the door behind him. This room is brightly lit. It is essentially the same as his own room, though more luxuriously decorated and carpeted, with different furnishings and larger pictures on the walls. (Perhaps the walls are a different colour too.)
The room is occupied by the preacher who was being interviewed on TV earlier. He looks suddenly surprised, but the man-in-black presses his little device with the tiny flashing lights again and the preacher visibly relaxes and looks very pleased, with his face lighting up in a big smile. He welcomes the man-in-black, waving him into the room.
Prime Minister! How nice of you to visit. I wasn't expecting you till quite a bit later. I must say that my words will carry further with you there too. Thank you so much for coming.
He strides across to the man-in-black and holds out his hand. He smiles and nods as if the man-in-black has shaken hands with him, though they never touched.
The man-in-black walks into the room looking around him. He gets an apple from a fruit bowl and takes a bite, then walks back to the middle of the lounge room. He doesn't move in a self-important way. He appears casual and modest. He seats himself before the coffee table, places the apple on it and begins taking the gun parts out of his pockets. He lays them all out before him in neat order. Now he begins assembling the gun, unhurried and methodical as before.
The preacher is striding about the room, pleased as punch.
This is a great day! Can I offer you a drink?
The man-in-black shakes his head, not bothering to even look up.
No, of course not. A clear head for a head of state, eh?
He chuckles at his little pun. He is restless and paces constantly.
I think I'll get a little nerve soother for myself though. I always become somewhat revved up before a large sermon.
He goes to the sideboard and gets a drink for himself, then goes to the fridge in the kitchenette and gets some ice cubes for the drink.
Yes sir, this is an important time. We are about to change history.
To end it, in fact. To bring about the Kingdom of our Lord, where the lion will lay down with the lamb and the saved will dwell in bliss forever.
Talking his talk gives him courage and he begins to swell with pride. He returns to the main room with his drink.
I feel the Lord within me, giving me strength. Ours is an arduous road, if not a long one, filled with obstacles and tests at every turn. For instance I was interviewed by that miserable woman at the television studios early this morning. I would be grateful if you could do something to bring pressure upon that wretch if you can. I don't suppose you can get her fired, but it would do well to show people what comes of heresy.
He fumes at the thought of her interview.
You would think she would jump at the chance to help to fulfil God's plan, but she tried to criticise it. She even calls herself a Christian! She will reap a burning world very shortly and, with all the other unbelievers, will wish she had taken the light when it was offered to her. Perhaps you'd like to see the interview Prime Minister? It should be on soon...
He consults his watch.
Oh! Missed it. Too deeply in prayer and thinking about the things I'll be speaking of tonight. The Lord, in His wisdom, doubtless intended for me to remain undistracted.
He has finished the drink and is nervous again. He paces some more.
He walks to the window for a few moments, his position reminiscent of the man-in-black earlier in his room. He almost sneers as he looks down at the city. He pounds the windowsill with his fist, and his face fills with undisguised hatred.
Fools and sinners! Unsuspecting citizens of Gomorrah. A cleansing fire is coming, and only the righteous will be spared His wrath. Justice will be His. None will be omitted from His judgement. All your false gods, the idolatry, your science and technology -- what will it avail you in the end, when your Creator does His final accounting?
A small fly or gnat buzzes near him. Without so much as a thought he swats it.
He leaves the window and resumes his nervous pacing.
Forgive my nervousness, Prime Minister. I am always thus humbled before my Lord when I have been called to do his bidding on such important occasions.
He walks over to a chair and stands behind it, hands on its back as if at a pulpit. The confidence returns.
And this is a most crucial time. We have been charged by the Most High with the responsibility of bringing about the last steps to Armageddon. We must not fail in these, the final days. The Rapture will soon be upon us and His Light will guide us Home. (RAISES A HAND AND LOOKS UPWARD.)
Unseen by the preacher the man-in-black sighs and rolls his eyes at the insanity playing out before him. He doesn't pause in his assembly of the gun.
We, the believers, must hold firm against the infidels, now more importantly than ever before. We must hold fast to our faith in the one true God. There will always be naysayers, doubters, demons in disguise, but we have a divine task to perform: to make the world ready for the next phase in our Lord's Plan.
The man-in-black puts his hand to his forehead, then suddenly drops the partially completed gun on the table and presses both hands to his temples as he bends in pain. The preacher notices, and concerned, asks,
Are you alright Prime Minister? Headache? Would you like an aspirin? You'll be well enough to present your opening address to the audience at the sermon tonight, won't you?
The man-in-black breathes heavily, looking pale and sweaty. His eyes are clenched shut in a grimace of pain. He reaches out with one shaking hand, fumbling for the small device with the lights again. When he locates it he presses it, and immediately the preacher relaxes and smiles.
Oh, good. You look much better. Must have been a momentary twinge. They can be quite unpleasant, I've heard.
The man-in-black is not looking any better, and in fact looks worse. His hands are shaking badly and he is looking very pale and sick, as if he might faint. He takes a few deep breaths and forces himself to relax. It seems to work and the trembling slows, and finally stops. He is still leaning over the coffee table and he notices blood is dripping from his nose. He takes out a handkerchief and presses it to his nose till the flow stops, then cleans the pool of blood on the table.
The preacher doesn't see any of this.
Hmmm... an important point for tonight's talk: no ill health, no failings of the flesh, when we ascend with our Maker. We will have eternal health and happiness when we are welcomed back into His arms to live as one in his glorious magnificence. Hmmm... good.
The preacher is pleased with that. He goes to his expensive, leather briefcase near the dining table, opens it, and takes out some sheets of paper. He gets a gold fountain pen out of his jacket's inner pocket, and writes a few things on the paper. He re-reads what he's written and nods, satisfied.
Meanwhile the man-in-black has got up and gone to the kitchenette to carefully rinse out the handkerchief then wipe over his face and the back of his neck with it, till he looks refreshed. He wanders to the window and stands for a while looking outside again appearing very tired, but somehow relaxed and peaceful. Presently he walks back to his seat by the coffee table, sits, and takes another bite of his apple. He stays, chewing and enjoying the apple for a while before resuming assembly of his gun... slower now. Almost done.
The preacher has taken up his pacing again.
We who are the chosen must prove ourselves worthy of the great gift to be bestowed upon us. Eternal life! What a gift!
Finally the man-in-black is finished. He rests back on the seat looking at the completed gun on the table. He checks his nose again to ensure the blood flow has ceased, and satisfied, looks up at the preacher who is standing behind the chair across the room again, as if at a lectern, continuing his preaching.
We must not question or allow others to cast the poison of doubt over what our Lord requires us to do. We must hold firm to our purpose. It is God's desire that we... hmmm... no that doesn't work.
Looks down at the chair for a moment...
We must unquestioningly and unflinchingly do what our Holy Father requires of us in these difficult last days.
The man-in-black reaches down and takes the bullet from his sock. He sits back and ponders it for a moment. He reaches for the gun and loads the bullet into it.
After a short time he wearily stands. Holding the gun in one hand and the little box in the other, he walks over to the preacher. He hands the little box with the coloured lights to him. Puzzled, the preacher takes it and turns it over in his hands.
He looks up at the man-in-black again to see him aiming the the gun at him. The preacher's jaw drops.
Wha-- Who are you? How did you get in here? Where's the Prime Minister?
The man-in-black watches the preacher for a moment in silence. Presently he deliberately turns the gun a little aside and fires it. A vase on the dining table behind the preacher shatters and water and flowers fly across the table.
The preacher jumps with shock.
The man-in-black remains, standing there with his gun arm out, not pointed at the preacher, calmly waiting. He is impassively watching the preacher.
...as he grabs the motionless gun-hand of the man-in-black. But instead of struggling, they both stiffen momentarily.
[Camera fx: A wave of brightness spreads out along their bodies from the point where the two characters contact. It passes over them leaving everything apparently as before.]
The preacher now looks calm and in control, and pockets the small device. He releases the man-in-black who staggers backward to sit on the floor, still holding the gun. The man-in-black tries to say something but nothing comes from his mouth, which is opening and closing like a landed fish's. His eyes are bugging in astonishment as he looks from the preacher to his own hands (one still holding the gun) and back to the preacher. He looks horrified as the security guy races into the room, latches onto him, and yanks the gun out of his hand. He struggles fruitlessly as he's handcuffed.
The security guard raises him roughly to his feet, hands cuffed behind his back.
The preacher steps forward to him, and puts a hand on his shoulder. With a gentle look he says softly to the man-in-black,
I'll bring a message of love instead of hate; hope instead of fear. I'll work to make the world a paradise for future children instead bringing about an evil hell.
I'm sorry about the broken shell you're left with, but that is what you were going to do to all humanity.
His voice is not loud and preachy, but soft with feeling and compassion. Not syrupy like a guru, just a nice person... just the guy next door.
(to the guard)
He's not likely to be dangerous anymore. Please be careful not to hurt him; he's ill and deluded and needs help.
The preacher watches the security guard take the unresisting man-in-black from the room, then he turns and walks to the window. He speaks almost in a whisper, looking out the window to the city below.
Peace, happiness, heaven on Earth... no easy answers, just lot of work to be done, starting with replacement of all those who love power.
--- END ---
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