THIS IS A DREAM, a one act sci-fi screenplay by Success Akpojotor

CLOSE ON: A book is received by a black hand, and ensconces on the decorated table.

INSERT. COVER PAGE

TIME PILL

BY

DAVID OYEWOLE

BACK TO SCENE

The black hand opens the novel’s verso page and inscribes a legible and beautiful autograph across it; and returns it, to the Yoruba woman, in her mid-thirties, who has given it to him for signing.

WOMAN
(in Yoruba)
Thank you.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. A HOTEL ROOM – DAY

TITLE: JUNE 27, 2017. 6:06 AM WAT

INSERT. iPhone 7 SCREEN.

Mentmorth Willer

BACK TO SCENE

–Meet DAVID OYEWOLE (27). Black. Handsome. Dignified. Sophisticated. Hurries out of the shower to take his call.

DAVID (INTO PHONE)
Daddy husband!

MENTMORTH (V.O)
Sweet Foxy! Pride is almost done.
And our son is going to be born
June 29 and–

DAVID (INTO PHONE)
–I didn’t forget. Just rounded
off book signing. Will deliver a
lecture at UNILAG in in an hour.
Will depart Nigeria today after
the lecture.
(beat)
Wait, Daddy husband, did you forget
that you’re eight hours behind me?

MENTMORTH (V.O)
Can’t wait to hold you in my arms.

DAVID (INTO PHONE)
Same here.

MENTMORTH (V.O)
(jokingly)
And be careful to not be lost in
the future like the hero in your
book.

DAVID (INTO PHONE)
(laughs)
Don’t tell me you believe the
sci-fi shit I braised.

MENTMORTH (V.O)
(chuckles)
I believe in the law of attraction.
(beat)
And don’t forget to take your meds.

DAVID (INTO PHONE)
Love you.

INT. BOEING 777 – EVENING

A seated and jet-lagged David on his red-eye. Weary and wasted. Yawns. Looks out the window, perceives a lot has changed. But thinks his present worldview is as a result of the jetlag. Turns right to his seat mate, who is fast asleep, and snoring. He signals the flight attendant’s attention.

BLACK.

–And then we hear RESTLESS VOICES. Talking androids and gynoids. The proliferation of countless struggling languages tells us we are stuck at…

EXT. SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – DAY

TITLE: JUNE 28, 2037. 10: 55 AM PDT.

We see a stunned David marveling at the sparkling and crystal air which occupies SFO’s firmament. He can’t believe his eyes and nostrils. Up above is sunlight that doesn’t emit heat. He wonders what magic the Administration he left behind has done since within the few weeks he has been away. Scoops out his iPhone 7 from the breast pocket of his white D&G suit. No signal. Paranoid. He throws it back in.

DAVID
(angrily)
Mentmorth should be waiting for
me. I ain’t accepting any
apologies this time. He’s fond of
this. Being a wet blanket.
(beat)
We agreed he isn’t going to be on
any movie set this Pride.

–David’s anger metamorphoses into fury as he drags his luggage.

–TILT UP, a gynoid, QWERTY, looks like a high-tech female mannequin…and donned in an American Flag Jumpsuit, walks up to him.

QWERTY
Hello, David Oyewole. I’m Qwerty.
A commissary of the United States
Intelligence Agency.

–David is taken aback at the voice which resembles that of a cybernetic organism.

DAVID
So, you’re part of Donnie’s
America?

QWERTY
Passport please.

A furious David reluctantly tenders his Passport.

QWERTY (CONT’D)
Expired. You–

DAVID
–Who’s this mannequin dre–

QWERTY
–David Oyewole. This is 2037.
You’re not–

DAVID
Mannequin wannabe or AI cloaked in
a mannequin, leave me be!

— QWERTY shoves her ID in David’s face.

QWERTY
U.S.I.A. You’re under arrest.

–Cable ties swing down and clamp David’s hands and legs. He can’t move. It’s like he’s stuck to earth. So are the other passengers.

–ALARMS SOUND. The entire ‘SFO’ goes into ‘LOCKDOWN’ as U.S.I.A Agents swarm David.

–David is confounded. Feels like he’s in a dream. As he’s pulled away, his expression tells us he has never cogitated a day as this.

–NIGERIAN AIRWAYS, or NA, FLIGHT #08 survivors have just been found.

INT. SAN FRANCISCO U.S.I.A COMMAND POST – DAY

A winded android, BROBOT (another high tech male mannequin) projects into an empty office space where PATTERSON WEAVER (50), ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF INTELLIGENCE, U.S.I.A gnaws blue cubes that taste and smell like grilled fish.

–Weaver can read Brobot’s mind and vice versa. He eventually can’t hold this one…

WEAVER
(flabbergasted)
How on earth is that possible?

INT. SECURITY NEST/U.S.I.A – SAME

Androids and gynoids stand before glowing control panels. The walls have become screens which depict various angles of David chained to THE AIR. Weaver is flummoxed.

DAVID
(shouts)
This is unfair. I’m supposed to
meet my husband Mentmorth. We’re
expecting our son tomorrow. I want
to speak with my attorney.
(beat)
Is this what America has turned to
in just seven days. What happened
to Pride month?

–Weaver is stunned as he watches David like a goldfish in a jar.

WEAVER
Christ! It really is he.

QWERTY
Came in with a briefcase full of
antiques. An outdated Apple device.
Dollar bills. Even Tenofovir DF.

WEAVER
Perhaps, he’s not aware that
cancer, HIV and Hepatitis were
destroyed fifteen years ago.

BROBOT
Many photographs of he and POTUS
are on the antique device.

QWERTY
He and POTUS?

BROBOT
Of course yes.

Weaver looks at Qwerty and Brobot. Remembers they are partly human. Looks away and fixes his gaze on David.

–An android, BOLT, winds in…

BOLT
The survivor is still poz. However,
his viral load was suppressed before
the Boeing 777 disappeared.

WEAVER
Alert CDC. Tell them we’ve got a
survivor who needs the AIDS
antidote.

–Qwerty breathes into a WATCH on her left wrist.

–David seems strong from inside his cell…

DAVID
I need to take my meds. I attained
viral suppression six months ago.
God help you if there’s a rebound.
I’ll sue and take every dollar
bill you’ve ever worked for.

INT.SECURITY NEST/U.S.I.A – MINUTES LATER

David watches androids escort a gynoid, OFOROID, donned in a lab coat into his cell. Oforoid loads a small capsule, the size of a grain of dust, into a digital syringe. Injects the capsule into David’s right arm.

OFOROID
(to David)
In thirty seconds, you will become
HIV negative.

— David drifts into unconsciousness.

FADE OUT

FADE IN:

INT. A CONFERENCE ROOM SOMEWHERE – DAY

TITLE: MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 2037. 7:00 AM PDT

–The GOLDEN GATE CITY SKYLINE is clean and clear outside the window, the charm of the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE in the faraway distance.

–PULL BACK and PAN ACROSS a nondescript office conference room

–Weaver sitting before DIRECTOR OF THE U.S.I.A. CHELSEA BILL (45). She looks terrible because she is honest.

WEAVER
We can’t give POTUS a distraction.
We need him to focus on fulfilling
his electoral promises.

CHELSEA
(taken aback)
And deprive him of the truth?
(beat)
I refuse to believe you’d do this
in 2037.

WEAVER
We–

CHELSEA
–This is the United States
Intelligence Agency. Need I remind
you.
(beat)
FBI. CIA. NSA and the Police
and all other agencies gone.
Merged into ‘this’. If you
really don’t want–

WEAVER
–I can’t!

DOOR OPENS. A SWARM OF ANDROIDS cuff Weaver and take him away.

WEAVER (V.O.)
I was protecting my country.

DOOR LOCKS.

INT. SECURITY NEST/U.S.I.A – AN HOUR LATER

Androids and gynoids escort Chelsea into David’s cell. She breathes into a watch on her right arm.

A GYNOID VOICE
Good morning Director Chelsea.
This is the White House. Who do
you want to connect with?

CHELSEA
Mr. President.

A GYNOID VOICE
The President is offline. He’s
with his husband. Will revert to
you as soon as we get a signal.

CHELSEA
Thank you.

–A paranoid David looks at Chelsea with derision.

DAVID
What the hell is going on?

CHELSEA
Fear not, David. I feel your plight.
I know how it feels to have twenty
years taken from your life. We can’t
explain. Your flight’s been missing
for twenty years now.

–David thinks she is foolish. He wishes his husband will come and rescue him ASAP. He attempts to appease the woman.

DAVID
My husband and I are expecting a
baby boy today. Please, let me go.
I have committed no crime.

CHELSEA
Of course, you aren’t a criminal.
I’m on your side.

–David tries to believe.

CHELSEA

DAVID
Is Donnie still President?
Of course not. He’s vacationing in
a zero-grav. Zero-grav is the new
fantasy spending.

–David has so many questions…

DAVID
Ok. Let’s assume I buy your story.
Who is POTUS?

–Chelsea breathes into her wrist watch, and the four corners of the cell’s glass walls come alive with a video. David is stunned beyond measure as we hear a VOICE. Inspiring. Touching. With AUTHORITY:

PAUL AMBODE-WILLER (V.O.)
It’s hard to believe that my
husband is the Democratic Party’s
Presidential Candidate. But it will
be a sweet and graceful thing to
have him serve America.

–APPLAUSE. SHOUTS. WHISTLES.

PAUL AMBODE-WILLER (V.O.)
Tonight, I come here as a man
who is blessed with a brother who
is my mentor, my protector and my
life-long friend.

–APPLAUSE.

PAUL AMBODE-WILLER (V.O.)
I come here tonight as a husband
who loves my husband and believe he
won’t just be an extraordinary
president but the man that America
and the world need for such a time
as this…

INSERT. ON THE GLASS WALLS

TITLE: PAUL AMBODE-WILLER 2036 DNC SPEECH

PAUL AMBODE-WILLER (ON THE GLASS)
This is such a fundamental moment
for our nation. And I know that
Mentmorth is equipped for this.
(beat)
I remember twenty years ago. That
fateful Friday of June 30 when
Mentmorth lost his husband in the
NA Flight 08. I had also lost my
two sisters to Boko Haram
insurgency in Nigeria. But
Mentmorth offered solace. Despite
his pain and loss.
(beat)
That is the kind of man we need in
the White House.

CROWD
(chat)
Go Mentmorth. Go Mentmorth.

PAUL AMBODE-WILLER (ON THE GLASS)
I’m aware of the burning question
in the minds of every American.
There is this cry that machines –
Automation and Artificial
Intelligence – are creating a
large scale job loss. And I–

BACK TO SCENE

–David slaps his face. He thinks this is a dream. It’s not.

–Chelsea, breathes into the watch again. It’s like she is tuning TV channels.

INSERT. ON THE GLASS WALLS

TITLE: UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: GOOGLE NOW ANNOUNCES MENTMORTH WILLER AS THE NEXT PRESIDENT-ELECT.

–A bustling crowd jumps for joy as Mentmorth Willer levers into the podium.

MENTMORTH WILLER (ON THE GLASS)
Thank you. Break a leg, if you
want. The victory is ours, for
every American.
(beat)
Once more, I want to assure you that
digital technology, Automation and
AI in particular, has not come to
eliminate employment. Instead, it
has come to spawn global competition
and prosperity. And what I will
ensure in my first 30 days in office
is that every American will start
signing up for the Universal Basic
Income.

–APPLAUSE.

BACK TO SCENE.

–Chelsea breathes into the watch again. Walls go blank, then quartz and alluring.

–David sheds tears and sobs…

DAVID
This is a dream.

–Androids and gynoids come in and take David away.

BLACK.

INT. WHITE HOUSE – LINCOLN BEDROOM – DAY

David is brought in as PRESIDENT MENTMORTH WILLER (58). White. Having a daddy-body. Runs to hug David. Paul is green with jealousy.

DAVID
Daddy husband! What’s going on?

PRESIDENT MENTMORTH WILLER
Our son’s birthday is today. Even I, sometimes, think, this is a dream.

–Meet DAVIS OYEWOLE-WILLER, (20). Handsome. A hybrid of David and Mentmorth. From behind shouts “Dad” as he runs to hug his long lost father he has never met, since birth.

DAVIS (TO DAVID)
I’ve read your works. In your
time, you were one of Amazon’s
best-selling authors. I read Time
Pill over and over. I brag about
it on social media.

DAVID
You’ve read Time Pill?

DAVIS
Yes dad. I even have it on my
Kindle reader.

–Davis slid out a white handkerchief from his breast pocket and breathes on it.

AMAZON ALEXA
Welcome Davis Oyewole-Willer. What
book do you want to read?

DAVIS (INTO HANDKERCHIEF)
Time Pill by David Oyewole.

AMAZON ALEXA
You will be reading this book for
the three hundred and seventh
time. Thank you for saving trees
by choosing to read on Kindle.
Nature doesn’t need us. We need
nature. Happy reading.

–Davis passes the opened white handkerchief to David.

–David can’t wrap his head around this. He needs help. He thinks he does. He thinks this is a dream.

–Davis retreats to his room. Records a poem which he titles “THIS IS A DREAM” on his smart watch.

–Returns to David who wonders how much longer this dream will take. BUT NO, he is stuck here.

DAVIS
Dad, please listen to this poem.

–He breathes on his watch, and…

DAVIS (V. O)
To you I’m grateful/ They said in
you no full/ Me to them is folly/
I jettison the fiction jolly
(beat)
They: you will come to inactivity/
For the select to see the city/
Built in the far air/ Just to see
the beardie’s hair
(beat)
Yes, my mansions are here/ No,
their mansions are there/ Yes, I
hate the illusion/ No, they love
the delusion
(beat)
You’re all there is/ I’m here for
your kiss/ I weep for their feel/
They will take to their heel
(beat)
I’d waited for so long/ Only with a
positive song/ Now, I see the silver
beam/ Maybe: this is a dream

Tears stream down David’s face as he hugs Davis. But Davis thinks of a future with his other father. He knows David will be rehabilitated and integrated rapidly into the new America because his other father is POTUS. David needs more than four years to blend into 2037. And Davis’s fear is that by 2040, the Electoral College will be Artificial Intelligence, as President Mentmorth has proposed. He hopes his father–the President–will find favor with androids and gynoids.

–Mentmorth and Paul watch through the glass. Mentmorth hugs Paul. Maybe this is a dream. They think.

END

 

 

***

Success Akpojotor was born in Benin City, Nigeria, and writes poetry, prose, and theatre. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Nigerian ObserverPoets Reading the News,  Tuck MagazineWax Poetry and Art, and Mounting the Moon anthology, among others. He holds a honors degree in History from the University of Benin.

What’s HFR up to? Read our current issuesubmit, or write for Heavy Feather.

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