THE YOUTH OF AUSTRALIA
EPISODE THREE: Too Clever By Far.
By EWEN CAMPION-CLARKE and DAMIAN SANCHEZ
1. OUTSIDE APARTMENT BLOCK
Dave turns the corner of the main street outside the apartment block, looking exhausted. As he approaches the block, he shows no awe of any kind, but merely continues past a guy being continuously sick and enters the lobby.
A bored-looking security guard sits at the front desk, reading an old hard backed book. He pays Dave not the slightest attention as our hero staggers over to the lifts. He presses a button and the door opens to reveal a very dusty, cobwebbed sign saying OUT OF ORDER. Dave sighs, not surprised.
DAVE: [OVER SHOULDER] Rick, are you ever going to fix the lifts?
RICK: Of course I am, David.
RICK: Before the universe implodes.
He lifts his head and thinks for a moment, then nods.
DAVE: And when will the universe implode?
RICK: I’ll let you know.
RICK: [ROLLS EYES] The lifts will be fixed! Honestly, David!
Dave scowls at him and trudges up to the doorway to the stairwell.
As Dave enters, he looks up. The staircase loops back on itself, coiling upwards until it has a vanishing point. Dave gives out a world-weary sigh and begins to walk up the stairs. We see shot after shot of Dave climbing a flight of stairs. He pauses for a breather and looks up. The end is as far away as before.
Dave glances down and we see a similar view going downwards. Dave coughs and tries to wipe the perspiration from his forehead. The plastic of his coat scrapes his face and he grimaces, mopping his face ruefully. Then, he crosses to the nearest stairwell door and pushes it open.
A bland, featureless corridor stretching away as far as the eye can see. On both sides are doors, marked with numbers. A sign by the stairwell says LEVEL NINETEEN. Dave sighs in relief and takes a step forward – immediately tripping over a barely-visible tripwire.
He tries to balance himself, but his shoes seem to be slippery and sliding. Finally, Dave manages to hurl himself upright and back away from the corridor.
Dave’s momentum pushes him backwards and he slams into the safety railing. He flips over it, somersaulting out of sight. We hear his distraught but incoherent yelp and then, six seconds later, a hideous crashing noise.
Hands finger the tripwire and then tug away in a business-type manner. One hand then strokes the floor, revealing it to be covered in a transparent, soapy-solution. We can now see the owners of the hands: Leopole Parker. He stares right at us and begins to chuckle the way only pure evil can.
RUN CREDITS SEQUENCE
The usual-format type room with a small en suite kitchen and two large wardrobe extensions that count as rooms. The whole flat is gloomy, with the light streaming in through grubby windows. The furniture seems one size too small, making the owners have to crouch uncomfortably in order to do anything. Most of the room’s space is taken up by two sofas and a round coffee table facing a halfway decent home entertainment complex.
Nigel is twisted in an uncomfortable pose right in front of the TV screen and we see he is playing an extremely realistic – if poorly designed – action adventure-type game were nubile heroes chase through mansions facing monsters at every turn. Nigel has let himself go – the bleach is almost entirely out of his hair and he is ghastly pale (quite a feat, considering he’s an Aboriginal). He wears a very ordinary pair of sunglasses that show his bagged and tired eyes and stubble covers his chin. He wears very basic clothes, nothing with logos or signs. His body language however, seems as normal as ever. But when he stops playing the game, he is like some one on the graveyard shift with insomnia, wracked by pain and unable to sleep. His voice is slurred slightly.
Andrew sits awkwardly on one of the couches, trying to stay upright as he works. His hygiene standards have slipped and he now boasts a shaggy beard and he wears a soiled tracksuit. He is bent over a deranged object – a fur-lined pole ending in a fluffy toy reindeer head – which has been dismantled. He is frantically trying to put it together with shaking hands. His overall demeanor is someone trying to starve themselves of heroin and failing miserably. He mumbles things under his breath and regularly shakes his head, as though trying to shoo away invisible bees that are attacking him.
We meet the final member of the gang – a strange, deformed animal called Pussy-Æter Jones (or ‘Pæje’ for short). A part-dingo that has lived off junk food its whole life and now is starving. We can see its ribs between folds of flab. Its lower jaw seems slightly too long and so its has a row of jagged teeth encircling its face. The dog seems ridiculous, ugly and sinister at the same time.
None of the occupants of this dingy, run-down apartment communicate with each other in any way, or even acknowledge each other’s existence. The only noise to be heard is the occasional gunfire from Nigel’s game. Suddenly, there is a low scratching of the front door as a key is inserted in the lock. The dog immediately starts to bark shockingly loud again and again. Nigel narrows his sunken eyes, trying to block this out. Andrew struggles to work on.
ANDREW: Shut up, Pæje!
The dog continues to bark. The door finally opens and Dave limps in. His arm is twisted and awkward and his coat is shredded to pieces, segments hanging loose off him. He seems too tired to be angry with any of this.
DAVE: Pæje, shut up. Shut up!
NIGEL: [OVER THE NOISE] Hey, Dave.
DAVE: Hey, Nige. Pæje, it’s me. Shut up, Pæje! SHUT UP!
The dog continues to bark, mindlessly as Dave closes the door. Andrew suddenly convulses, flapping his hands around his head as if a mosquito is buzzing around him. His project drops to the floor and smashes to pieces. Andrew stares at it for a long moment, then grimly begins to pick it back up. The dog continues to bark all the time in the background.
ANDREW: PUSSY-ÆTER JONES! BE SILENT THIS INSTANT!
Beyond all reason, the dog continues its wailing. Andrew’s arm swings out, striking the dog, which begin to roll sideways, finally falling from its position on top of the sofa and out of side. It yelps slightly and there is silence. Then it begins to bark again. Andrew grabs the furry reindeer head and throws it over the top of
the sofa. There is a clunk and silence. Dave stumbles into view and collapses onto the sofa beside Andrew, who is frantically trying to collect the remains of his work.
DAVE: [MOANS] Oh, Gooooooooohoooood!!
ANDREW: So... how was work today?
NIGEL: That bad?
DAVE: Worse. I went to clock-off, but Maurice was under strict instructions to stop me leaving until some wanker turned up with their copy of Inspector Gadget 3! Four hours I was there.
NIGEL: He turn up?
DAVE: Oh, of course he did! He turned up yesterday, handed in the video and left! Maurice was lying in order to keep me there – more strict orders! Understand now?
NIGEL: Did Maurice confess?
DAVE: Eventually. Had to give him a trip of the Orient via some Chinese burns, though. Honestly, I finally find someone else from school and they treat me like... like...
NIGEL: Like things were exactly the same and you were still a loser everyone hated?
DAVE: Exactly! God! I can’t get away from him – no matter what I do, where I go, who I see, he’s always one step ahead of me! After all that, he laid out a tripwire to stop me getting onto this level! Nearly broke my fricking neck!
NIGEL: He’s running out of ideas.
DAVE: And I’m running out of heartbeats.
NIGEL: No, seriously. He used to be so much more... inventive. Remember last month? When he painted that cityscape at night on all the windows, so we all thought it was night and slept in – and then he docked you for the pay? There was a MIND behind that, man!
DAVE: [SIGHS] Yeah. A MIND out to get me! We still haven’t managed to get that paint off the windows, yet. [TO ANDREW] I thought you were mixing up a solvent?
ANDREW: [BUSY] So did I.
ANDREW: After the third mixing pot dissolved, I decided to call it a draw. From now on, I am dedicating my life to this. My last, greatest achievement... Well, it’s my first achievement, but my expectations are still pretty high, you know.
DAVE: That... drivel?!? What good is it? It’s useless!
ANDREW: [COLDLY] To YOU, maybe.
DAVE: What possible use can you have for an automatic reindeer? It’s useless! It can’t help us, it’s purposeless! Do something useful for a change!
ANDREW: First law of crisis, Dave. First law of crisis.
Dave is wretched. He’s on the verge of tears.
ANDREW: First law of crisis – panic about one thing at a time. Pæje needs to be dealt with, so I’m dealing with him. Once that’s out of the way, we can concentrate on [FALTERS SLIGHTLY] ...other matters. All right?
DAVE: No! Not all right!
ANDREW: YOU don’t have any better suggestions, so just shut up.
DAVE: Oh, mister automatic reindeer says *I* don’t have any suggestions! What next? An automatic pineapple? A clockwork orange? It’s nothing! NU-THING!
ANDREW: [ANGRY] What do YOU plan to do then, Restal?!?
DAVE: Oh, I don’t know! [SOBS] What can we do? We’ve lost...
Andrew feverishly shakes his head.
ANDREW: No. Not yet. Not now – not EVER!
DAVE: We’re not going to win. We can’t.
ANDREW: Shut up, you defeatist!
DAVE: [LAUGHS BITTERLY] ‘Defeatist’?
ANDREW: Give up, then. You’ve lost your right to survive.
Nigel’s jaw tightens and he concentrates even more on the game.
DAVE: You know how important this coat is to me, Maddog?
ANDREW: Remind me.
DAVE: My mum made this for me. She slaved away for three months before her accident. It’s all I’ve got and now it’s in shreds because of that... that... fuckwit Parker! So don’t you tell me I’ve got no right to survive. Vengeance – it’s all he’s left me with!
ANDREW: [CHUCKLES] When planning revenge, dig two graves.
Nigel frowns and looks up.
NIGEL: Why? Will it hurt twice as much?
ANDREW: No, you moron! It’s because you’ll end up as bad off as your victim. It never works. That’s why we’ve got to plan carefully.
NIGEL: Carefully. Hah.
He goes back to the game. Andrew rises to the bait.
ANDREW: You want to say something, Nigel? Don’t let me stop you.
DAVE: We’ve been under siege for eight weeks. How much longer are you going to sit their cogitating before we actually get round to doing something, huh? Or are you scared of the other guy, hmm?
ANDREW: Scared? I’m bloody terrified – and that’s why I’m still alive. The second you give in, the moment you let him know he’s won, he won’t care any more. There’ll be nothing left for him.
DAVE: Oh, boo hoo. We wouldn’t want that, would we?
Andrew puts down his things and stares at Dave.
ANDREW: Try not to be stupid. You know what he’s like, what he’s capable of... If he wanted to, he could take us out like [SNAPS FINGERS] that! That’s why we’ve got to keep fighting, to keep being important enough for him to want us alive and suffering. As long as we keep on keeping on, the pressure’s on HIM! HE’S the one who has to spend every hour of every day working to break us down.
DAVE: [LAUGHS] What? You think he’s going to crack under the pressure? Your great plan rests on the Antichrist out there having a nervous breakdown?
ANDREW: No. His attacks against us will be the diversion we need to get back at him. But I need time to think and I can’t think while my dog is acting like a motion sensor.
NIGEL: Hence the automatic reindeer.
DAVE: Oh, what is this crap?!? This is useless! We’re screwed!
ANDREW: Sit down. Shut up. Now.
Dave lunges at Andrew and grabs him by the lapels.
DAVE: You scum-sucking pile of ---
Andrew bitch-slaps Dave, who spins and crashes to the floor. He clutches his face, apparently in shock. Nigel looks up.
NIGEL: Oh, that was a bit harsh.
ANDREW: [FOLDS ARMS] There are two classical ways to deal with hysteria, Nigel. You didn’t expect me to kiss him, did you?
Dave spring up from the floor and tackles Andrew. They both fall to the floor, fighting like animals and having lost all reason. Nigel finally tears himself away from the computer game and sees what is happening. He leaps to his feet and crosses to the others.
NIGEL: Hmmm. Must be 3 o’clock already.
He kicks out. Dave screams and flies across the room. Andrew groans, trying to get up.
ANDREW: [PAINED] Thanks, Nige. Man, I thought he was go--
Nigel kicks out again and Andrew is knocked out. He crosses over to the floored Dave, and kicks him until he loses consciousness. He then turns and crosses back to the computer game.
NIGEL: There was NO part of that that wasn’t enjoyable.
He sits down and picks up the controls when the doorbell rings three times in quick succession. Nigel’s pleased expression drains away and he looks very ill. He turns to look at the doorway, frightened. Andrew and Dave sit up and follow his gaze fearfully.
Parker rings the doorbell in the same sequence. The door opens slightly and the reindeer head emerges. Parker is slightly freaked out by this, but stands his ground.
PARKER: Ah, hello?
Nigel speaks in a muffled, accented voice.
NIGEL: [VO] Zorry! Not today, tankyoo.
PARKER: Nigel? Nigel, is that you?
NIGEL: [VO] No. I am a Brazilian peasant. From Russia. Go away.
PARKER: [SOFTLY] Don’t make me lose my temper.
A short pause. The reindeer retreats inside the door.
ANDREW: [VO] What do you want?
PARKER: I’ve just come here to see if everything’s... all right.
DAVE: [VO] Oh, well, everything’s fine. Thanks for asking.
PARKER: Let me in, please.
The apartment. The guys are huddled around the doorway, looking rather the worse for wear and all unbearably tense. They exchange a sad nod and open the door. Parker strides in, like he owns the place. As he moves around the apartment, the guys go out of their way to avoid him.
NIGEL: And, er, what can we do for you, Leopole?
PARKER: Please. Call me Parker.
ANDREW: Fine. What do you want now?
PARKER: Why, Andrew, my boy, I just came in to see if everything was all right. What concerned neighbor wouldn’t?
NIGEL: [CAREFULLY] What makes you think something’s wrong?
DAVE: Maybe someone tied a tripwire over the door to the stairwell.
PARKER: No doubt. This building seems to be becoming more dangerous by the hour. Everywhere is a deathtrap waiting for victims.
ANDREW: Three guesses.
DAVE: IF you need them.
NIGEL: And the first two don’t count.
PARKER: [SMILES CRUELLY] You’re not planning to seek other accommodation, are you? I might take such an action... the wrong way. An insult, in fact. I’m sure we understand each other.
DAVE: Only too well.
Over the next dialogue, Parker crosses to the water cooler, which is the only undamaged item of furniture we have seen so far. As he talks, he turns to face the others but we see him empty a tiny vial of bright orange crystals – like orange sherbet – into the water tank. The stuff swirls and dissolves, leaving the water clear. When the final speck is gone, Parker moves away from the water cooler.
PARKER: I was just curious about all the noise from in here.
NIGEL: Well, we’re sorry about that.
PARKER: You will be. You will be.
ANDREW: [SIGHS] There’ll be no further interruptions, sir. Go back to your room. We... apologize... profusely... for the interruption.
Parker smiles slightly and crosses over to Andrew, who avoids his gaze. Behind him, Nigel points at Parker and makes the sign language symbol of ‘Dickhead’. Dave smirks slightly.
PARKER: I... accept your apology, Andrew. But, please, do something about that dog of yours. Or I may have to.
Andrew looks up at last, a smile on his face that doesn’t reach his eyes. He speaks with raging insincerity.
ANDREW: I’ve been working on that problem for a while now, sir.
PARKER: I suggest you make better progress.
ANDREW: True progress requires absolutely NO interruptions.
Dave and Nigel react to this. Parker’s face is devoid of expression. He steps worryingly close to Andrew, who flinches slightly. A long, long pause as the threat hangs in the air. Finally, Parker chuckles.
PARKER: But of course. If I may have your leave, Andrew, I will go. Good luck with your... progress.
Parker turns and strides straight for the open door. Once outside, he turns to face the others and mockingly salutes them. The door swings shut, apparently of its own accord. Andrew covers his face in his hands and collapses onto the couch.
NIGEL: [ANNOYED] What’s the matter with you, Andrew? You’ve got a death wish or something?
ANDREW: [RUBS EYES] Not at all.
DAVE: That’s not what it looks like to us. You remember what happened the last time you spoke to him like that...
Andrew looks up at the others, angry.
ANDREW: Yes. Yes, I do. He tortured Pæje and reduced him to... to that! [INDICATES] And then he was the nerve to come round here and complain about my dog...
NIGEL: There’s still no point stirring up trouble!
ANDREW: Isn’t there?!
NIGEL: Look, if you want to get brutally murdered, just attack him and get it over with!
ANDREW: I might do that.
DAVE: [WORRIED] He’ll tear you to pieces!
Andrew rises, stretching.
ANDREW: Really. Well, let me tell you – I intend to live forever.
He moves away from the others, crossing to the water cooler. He collects a tray and three glass mugs. He fills them with what seems to be perfectly ordinary water.
ANDREW: Or die trying.
NIGEL: Well, I don’t. I hate all that lingering. I tell you, if I have any say in it, I’ll just [SNAPS FINGERS] switch off.
DAVE: Oh? How old would you want to be?
NIGEL: Uh, 940.
Andrew enters, carrying the tray.
ANDREW: Come on, you lot. Refreshments!
They each take a glass and sip it.
DAVE: Andrew, man, what are we going to do?
ANDREW: Bide our time, Dave. We bide our time.
NIGEL: ...as the man said, falling off Centre Point tower.
Nigel, ridiculously amused at this, laughs uproarishly before falling off the couch. His laughter stops suddenly. Andrew frowns and moves to get to his feet. Suddenly, he grimaces, dropping his glass. It smashes to pieces as Andrew collapses back into the chair. He gives an apologetic look at Dave, before his eyes roll back in his head and he slumps back, unconscious. Dave blows out his cheeks, looking slightly bewildered.
DAVE: Must be the... bloody cryptosperidium in the water again...
He drops the glass and, swaying unsteadily, gets to his feet. Very, very carefully, he makes his way over to the front door. Suddenly, his legs fail him and he collapses onto the ground by the door. With all his strength, Dave manages to roll over onto his back, then he dozes off. The door clicks open, to reveal Parker. He smiles evilly. We gradually blur out of focus, mixing the shot to:
To be continued...