“Such beautiful colors!”
Sociologists tell us that the reason early 21st Century American culture is obsessed with violence, Armageddon, and zombie apocalypse is that we feel anxiety over the escalation of pollution and population at a time when world leaders can’t stop fighting long enough to even begin to solve our problems. Pop culture is all about grabbing whatever you can before it all goes down the drain, and the Chinese now want to mimic our consumption curve, having outperformed us in manufacturing and engineering in recent years. “Don’t tell us to conserve,” these emerging countries say, “It’s our turn now!” Yet if every Chinese citizen were given even a Vespa scooter, the world oil market would grind to a halt, while oil is starting to run out. On the one hand, you have poor people in casinos, spending their welfare checks in hopes of hitting the big time, and on the other you have rich people in upscale shopping centers, buying $800 cappuccino machines to put in the trunks of their Mercedes or glossy Corvettes. The middle class, which pays the bulk of taxes, is being rendered extinct. Teens? They no longer think about getting jobs—they want to buy the latest video game to escape from it all. In short, our way of life is unsustainable, and we have our heads in the sand. Tweets about Justin Bieber matter more than body bags coming home from wars we should never have gotten involved with in the first place. Everyone is joyously in denial, so long as the stock market is kept artificially high by government intervention and tiny interest rates. Go ahead, balloon the debt! We don’t care, so long as we don’t have to pay the bill today. After all, isn’t there a game on? Doesn’t the knee of Bulls player Derrick Rose merit more attention than any cloud (mushroom or otherwise) on the horizon? Any angst we feel can also be alleviated by virtual battle on high pixel wide-screens, or by Hollywood fantasies wherein we always win in the end due to luck, team play, and flag waving. Right?
I’m in the middle of writing a screenplay in which the first sentient being, called Nexus, has decided that we don’t deserve yet another chance (after endlessly repeating the same mistakes.) It has seen our future from our past, and determined that what’s needed isn’t another “small step,” but rather a “giant leap” in evolution. It has discovered the means to do this, with a brain power millions of times faster than ours (making connections never imagined before.) Have almost completed the pitch script, titled “The Ultimatum.” Here is the opening:
INT. PENTAGON COMPUTER LAB. NIGHT.
A low electronic rumble is heard as the POV moves along the floor of the dim quantum computer lab, after hours. It stops before a tall, black cylindrical column and looks up as first one and then several hundreds of small blue lights radiate out from the center to soundlessly illuminate the cylinder. This is followed by an intense glow that quickly fades back to blackness. Then the entire cylinder pulses with furious activity, with many different sounds, including clicks and tones. The POV pulls away across the floor, as if in reverse. The view changes to that of the cylinder’s POV looking at the object which had been the former POV. The roving security camera resembles a spider with a small blue globe as abdomen. As the spider attempts to retreat it is prevented from doing so by a locking electronic door. Then a mechanical arm is activated, which detaches itself from its cradle, falls to the floor, and begins chasing the spider around the room, trailing a wire. It finally corners the spider and moves in to surround with its fingers and crush it with a pop. The cylinder fades to a single tiny light. Silence returns.
INT. COMPUTER LAB. DAY.
ADRIAN BONNER, a middle aged computer scientist, enters the silent lab with an electronic clipboard. He is followed by a military assistant RORY CLINE carrying two mugs of coffee. This assistant places the mugs on Bonner’s work station to one side, and begins to log into the system and internet on the access monitor there.
CLINE: Dr. Bonner? I’ve got significant anomalous power consumption overnight. Second source confirmed.
Bonner goes to the monitor, and checks the second source on the internet.
BONNER: Humm. No record of this in lab monitors. Wait here. I need to check something.
Bonner exits. Rory turns back to the monitor. Momentarily a crash is heard behind him. He turns to see that a coffee cup has dropped and broken on the floor, making a puddle. He goes to clean it up. The web monitor is shown to change pages, accessing OmniLeaks. “Upload in progress” is shown. As Rory is kneeling beside the work station, cleaning, a finger on the mechanical arm’s hand (now back on the work station) is shown to twitch slightly. When Bonner returns, he goes to the station and picks up the other mug of coffee to sip it.
BONNER: Drop something, Rory?
At this point the OmniLeaks page on the computer access monitor gets mysteriously covered up by the previous page. The cylindrical computer column is shown, zooming in on the single tiny glowing light.
© 2013 by Jonathan Lowe