Virtual Apocalypse

by

Andrew Webster

awebsterkew@gmail.com

***

     [[Some of the action takes place in virtual
     environments. These virtual environments should be
     clearly adapted to their purpose. The call center
     should have minimal distractions, low light and subdued
     colour, an atmosphere of focus and concentration, just
     a suggestion of large numbers of fellow workers
     beavering away., part of a competitive team. It has no
     day or night character. The peronal entertainment
     virtual environments should be brighter and more
     vividly coloured, the sound more forward, textures more
     intense -fantasy dreamworlds ]]
 
\SC INT DAY THE CALL CENTRE
 
Frank is sitting at a desk in a dimly lit virtual call
center with other desks and their operators vaguely visible
in front and to the side. Assessments of his performance are
displayed as bright numbers and characters floating at his
eye level in front of him, together with details of the
client.
 
                      FRANK O.S.
          Am I speaking to Mrs Deirdre
          Watson?
 
Display: Warmth, 37% Conviction, 31%, P appeal 21% Prob 14%.
 
                      FEMALE CLIENT O.S.
                (suspiciously)
          Who wants to know?
 
                      FRANK
                (with forced enthusiasm)
          I have an exclusive offer here for
          a Mrs Deirdre Watson - from City
          Consumer Protection Services. Am I
          speaking to Deirdre now?
 
Display: Warmth 41% Conviction 42% Phys Appeal 26% Prob 16%
 
 There is a click of disconnection.
 
The bottom of the virtual display then shows his average
conversion rate in red as -17. FRANK glances to his right as
he waits for the system to make an active link. He can see a
young and attractive girl in profile next to him, perhaps
half looking in his direction across the narrow space
between the dimly lit desks, at the same time brushing her
long dark hair away from her eyes with her left hand. She
catches his eye, seeming to know him, and gives him a shy
smile before turning quickly back to work.Frank smiles back.
Frank's retinal display lights up strongly with new client
information.
 
                      FRANK
          Am I speaking to Mr Anton Hardacre?
 
Montage of Frank's calls to establish work over some hours.
 
From time to time a client's face floats in front of him in
the darkness, but mostly we see just the vague, dim
environment of the call centre with his scores superimposed
on it.
 
There are no positive client responses and Frank is clearly
losing any belief or enthusiasm, both in his voice and in
himself. His scores for tone go down and his average
conversion rate drifts steadily downward. On reaching -20 it
starts to blink from red to yellow.
 
He looks round again but the girl has gone and in her place
there is just a vague, anonymous, apparently male head
looking at nothing but the inline data on his retinas, no
different from the row upon row of dimly visible heads bent
over their call-desks on all sides, receding to suggestions
of shadowy lines in the darkened spaces of the centre.
 
The data readout showed 150 minutes remaining, counting
down. His scores drift lower, conviction down to the 20s. He
squeezes his eyes shut, refocuses on the info, takes a deep
breath and mentally clicks the next connection. A low buzz
can be heard behind the conversation.
 
                      FRANK
          Am I speaking to Mr. Josephus
          Saccary II?
 
                      MALE CLIENT O.S.
                (A high-pitched, fluting
                 voice.)
          This is he.
 
Display: scores drift lower
 
The interfering low buzz in the background resolves itself
into another voice, insectlike, faint but comprehensible.
 
                      MYSTERY VOICE
          ...the 6 and 7 hundred series are
          compromised and fail-safe legacy
          systems appear to be locked out"
 
                      FRANK
                (struggling to ignore
                 mystery voice)
          Mr Saccary, I have a personalised
          special offer for you from Fortress
          Home Security and Defense."
 
The mystery voice continues as a background buzz when anyone
speaks. 
 
Display: 'Conviction 22' and a downward arrow hihlighted
 
                      MYSTERY VOICE O.S.
          extending to bespoke systems based
          on the same family architecture...
 
                      MALE CLIENT O.S.
          I am not in the habit of responding
          to cold calling
 
F18 flashes up alone on retinal display
 
                      MYSTERY VOICE O.S.
          ...which are almost universal in
          infrastructure maintenance and
          control systems..."
 
                      FRANK
          Fortress are making this individual
          offer based on your unique profile
          and reputation, Mr Saccary."
 
                      MYSTERY VOICE O.S.
          ..means imminent shutdown in
          targeted, mainly public, areas of
          the power grid..
 
A click and the mystery voice stops.
 
                      MALE CLIENT O.S.
          I don't wish to appear rude, but I
          find that hard to believe.
 
Displa: only F12 very bright
 
                      FRANK
          "They are offering a 45% discount."
 
Display:conviction drops to 12% and F score fades out.
 
 A click of disconnection 
 
Dispay: F disappears, conversion rate dropping to -26 and
blinking between red and greyed out.
 
 Frank shows signs of despair.
 
Series of shots
 
The next details come up with a click. Frank struggles on
through his shift, making calls, his scores drifting ever
lower. Every calls is disconnected while Frank is still
speaking. No positive outcomes. Frank shows increasing panic
in voice and movement, voice sounding strained and breathy,
body restless and sweaty, expression increasingly disturbed.
 
Session ends
 
Display: We regret that we are unable to offer you further
sessions at this time. We will keep your details on our
records for future reference. You are responsible for the
equipment which will be collected by an agent. Thank you for
being part of the Mutual Benefit family.
 
     [[This is a transition from virtual to real world,
     first viewed from Frank's point of view]]
 
The retinal display winks out. The surrounding desks,
operators and the call centre itself fade out and are
replaced by a grey background with a large gold 3D logo of
MUTUAL BENEFIT. This fades and is replaced by a faint glow.
 
SCENE INT DAY FRANK'S FLAT
 
We see part of Frank's small living-room from his point of
view, white walls, blank screen, pale floor. and then Frank
sitting at a small table, wearing a VR headset. He
disengages from the set, carefully puts down the set on the
table, screws up his eyes and rubs them.
 
                      FRANK
          Shit shit shit!
 
Frank picks up VR set and examines it briefly
 
                      FRANK
          Not wasting any time, the bastards
          - powered the set down completely.
                (speaking to the room
                 apparently)
          Channel 13 on.
 
Frank looks expectantly at a large screen on the wall.
Nothing happens.
 
                      FRANK
          Screen on - Channel 13.
 
Frank gets up, crosses to screen and touches screen to bring
up controls. Nothing happens. He locates a physical on/off
button and presses several times. Nothing happens.
 
                      FRANK
          Main light on. Environment warm
          summer evening. Orchard view.
 
Frank waits for the lights and environmental controls but
nothing happens.
 
                      FRANK
          No power? Don't tell me there's a
          fucking  power cut as well! It
          feels cold in here.
 
Frank tries the physical light switch but nothing happens.
 
                      FRANK
          I must have credit- from that last
          session. Access bank account.
 
A retinal display, similar to the score displays in the
virtual call centre, comes up, appearing to float at Frank's
eye level.
 
"Insufficient Credit. Emergency services only."
 
                      FRANK
          Comms status please.
 
Retinal display: 'You are now offline'. Frank looks around
the small, plainly furnished room in despair.
 
                      FRANK
          No power, no comms. I thought that
          only happened to convicted cyber
          terrorists. How am I supposed to 
          contact the bank? I'll have to find
          a branch. No idea where that is.
 
Frank shivers. He stands in confusion, wondering what to do.
He makes a decision, crosses to the door and puts on a coat.
He is about to go out when he has an idea and crosses to the
small kitchen area of the room, opens cupboard, finds a
packet of biscuits, examines it and puts it in his pocket.
He returns to the door and is about to leave when he sees
the display on the door control panel.
 
CAUTION!
 
DEFAULT SECURITY MODE.
 
                      FRANK
          Bugger! No power outside either.
          How will I get back in?
 
After some hesitation he goes to the table, picks up the
virtual set and puts it in a small backpack that was by the
door. He puts on the backpack. He goes to the door, opens it
and watches carefully as it closes. It swings shut with a
resounding and permanent double click. He looks around the
room for something he can use to prop the door open, sees
nothing, goes into small bathroom alcove, finds nail
clippers, goes to the door, opens the door and tries to
insert clippers under the door. There isn't room.
 
He goes outside the flat and tries jamming the almost closed
door on the lever of the clippers. This appears to work,
though the powerful closing mechanism threatens to push the
clippers out of the way. He keeps his hand on the door as it
closes and then very carefully and gently lets it go. The
door stays very slightly ajar. He experiments with opening
and closing it - it seems to be a stable arrangement. He
leaves the door jammed open just a crack, the front of the
clipper lever only visible on close inspection.
 
SCENE EXT DAY THE CORRIDOR/BALCONY AND STAIRS OF THE BLOCK
OF FLATS
 
Frank walks away from the door of the flat along the
external corridor/balcony of the block. He stops frequently
and looks back to check how the door looks. From nearby the
door looks a little different from the other doors but from
further along the corridor it doesn't look obviously open.
Frank is clearly very anxious about the arrangement.
 
A drone arrives up the stairs, flies to a neighbor's door,
hovers, waiting, the door opens, the drone drops a packet
inside, retreats, flies off, the door closes. Frank arrives
at the lift. There is a notice on the lift doors.
 
"The lifts are operating on backup battery power and are
only available for ascents to floors 10 and above (except
for blue badge holders)."
 
Frank sighs and starts down the stairs, which are bare,
concrete, drafty and cold. He shivers again.
 
SCENE EXT DAY SEARCHING FOR THE BANK
 
Series of shots
 
Frank walking along various deserted minor city streets,
finding his way to Main Street. A cold, grey day with a
chill breeze - bits of refuse blowing about. He has to
retrace his steps once or twice, apparently not sure of
direction. He arrives at the main road and follows that
confidently down to the junction with Main Street with shops
and cafes, but it is also very quiet, almost nobody about,
many places closed or boarded up.
 
He hesitates, unsure which way to go. The wind is colder
here and he shivers.  He shrugs and chooses right or left at
random. He walks on looking for a bank branch. After a while
he notices the shops and cafes have disappeared, replaced by
office and apartment blocks. He decides he must be going the
wrong way and turns back. It begins to rain. He retraces his
steps and starts to go the other way up Main Street.
 
Eventually he recognizes the bank's logo displayed among
those of four other banks above a single frontage on the
other side of Main Street.
 
                      FRANK
          Finally!
 
He approaches the doors. There is a screen without power
with a number of buttons with different bank names under it.
A faded notice below reads
 
SELECT YOUR BANK AND ENTER YOUR ACCOUNT NUMBER WHEN PROMPTED
ON THE DISPLAY.
 
                      FRANK
          Nothing's working.
 
Frank examines the screen and door. He finds a notice giving
opening times for five different banks in alphabetical
order. His bank, Mutual, is open Wednesday 9.30 - 12.00.   
 
                      FRANK
          Typical. Only open on Wednesday
          morning. What's open today? Only
          First National.
 
At the bottom of the notice is this statement.
 
"If your bank is not open remember that all transactions can
now be carried out in virtual environments online."
 
                      FRANK
          Unless you have no fucking comms
          because the fucking bank has
          cancelled all your fucking credit.
 
Frank looks at the panel buttons and presses the First
National button. Nothing happens.
 
                      FRANK
          Shit!
 
Frank goes right up to the door and looks hopelesly at it.
It has a large decorative brass handle on the outide. Frank
shoves it angrily. There is a click and the door swings
open.
 
                      FRANK
          No security! What's going on?
 
 He enters. 
 
SCENE INT DAY IN THE BANK
 
There is only a small space inside with one empty counter
facing him and  an open door behind it. There are cameras
above the counter but they seem dead. Frank looks around,
confused. He coughs to attract attention. Nothing happens.
 
                      FRANK
          Excuse me! Hello!
 
 Through this door comes a rather surprised-looking and
flustered young man, wearing a winter coat and with some of
his hair disarranged and on end.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          What can First National do for you
          sir - something that cannot be done
          online? May I have your account
          number?
 
                      FRANK
          I'm afraid I'm not a customer of
          First National. I need to contact
          Mutual urgently. My credit has been
          blocked - so I've no other way of
          getting in touch with them.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
                (worried)
          Strictly speaking,sir, you
          shouldn't be on the premises - the
          security arrangements, I'm afraid.
          How did you get in?
 
                      FRANK
          The door was open.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Oh of course the power cut.
          Still,sir, I'm afraid Mutual is not
          open today.
 
                      FRANK
           What am I supposed to do? I can't
          wait until next Wednesday. I have
          no access to heating or even water.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Ah! Possibly you haven't had the
          most recent updates about the power
          outages. Technical problems, they
          say. That's why it's freezing in
          here.
 
He pauses, takes in Frank's disturbed state and seems
genuinely friendly in his next remarks.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          In view of the emergency I think I
          could get away with arranging
          virtual contact with Mutual for you
          - then it would be up to you.
 
                      FRANK
                (surprised and relieved)
          That's very kind of you. Thank you.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          If you'll just sit down at the
          table over there, sir, I'll bring
          you a set already connected to
          their account queries center and
          let you get on with it. On
          Wednesdays I am a Mutual Benefit
          Bank employee after all."
 
Frank sits down, thoughtful. The young man returns with a
headset.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Sorry to keep you waiting. Looking
          for one with a charged battery.
          Lucky we have a dedicated line.
 
                      FRANK
          What's going on with these power
          cuts?
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          They seem to affect public areas,
          not residential - supposed to be
          rotated district by district but I
          hear they're pretty random. I'll
          help you hook up.
 
The bank employee makes sure the contacts are all properly
paced on Frank's head and switches on.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          All set?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes, thanks.
 
     [[Change to virtual environment]]
 
The scene fades out and is replaced by a neutral screen. A
3D looking logo of Western Banking appears.
 
SCENE INT DAY MUTUAL BENEFIT BANK VIRTUAL HEAD OFFICE
 
The logo fades and Frank finds himself in Western's virtual
environment, an impressive space, all marble floors and
columns. He is faced by a wide line of tables, stretching
away into the distance, each with an adviser sitting on the
far side. All the chairs on the client side are occupied
except the one immediately in front of him. The adviser
sitting there gestures to him to sit down.
 
                      ADVISER
          How can I help you, Mr. Khan?
 
                      FRANK
                (anxiously)
          You have my details?
 
                      ADVISER
          Oh yes, sir. Your digital signature
          is unambiguous once you are
          connected.
 
                      FRANK
          I appear to have no credit - none
          at all. I can't even unlock my own
          front door.
 
                      ADVISER
          Just a moment, sir, while I see
          what's going on with your account.
 
Frank looks around at the other clients and advisers.
 
                      ADVISER
          Ah, I see the situation. You are
          temporarily unemployed, isn't that
          right?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes, but I should have credit from
          my last work session at least.
 
                      ADVISER
          Unfortunately that payment hasn't
          been remitted yet.
 
                      FRANK
          Why not?
 
                      ADVISER
          Apparently Mutual Benefit Services
          are waiting for the return of
          valuable equipment before they
          release it.
 
                      FRANK
          They said they would send an agent
          round to collect it.
 
                      ADVISER
          I'm sure they will. With the
          present power interruptions things
          can easily get delayed.
 
                      FRANK
          Can't the bank give me a temporary
          loan - I mean the money is there,
          waiting?
 
                      ADVISER
          I'm sorry Mr. Khan, considering
          your employment status and lack of
          collateral, bank policy would
          prohibit that.
 
                      FRANK
          Even though the money is just
          delayed - that doesn't seem fair.
 
                      ADVISER
          The bank has no way of knowing if
          the equipment will be returned or
          whether it is intact and your
          resources might prove insufficient
          to service a loan even if your last
          payment did come through in full.
          The bank has to act responsibly.
 
                      FRANK
          What am I supposed to do in the
          mean time?
 
                      ADVISER
          All you can do, I'm afraid, is to
          wait for Mutual Benefit Services to
          pick up the equipment and release
          the payment. It shouldn't be long.
 
Frank looks round at the other clients in the lines of
virtual desks receding to his left and right until they are
just a blurred suggestion. He thinks he recognizes the
half-obscured profile of the adviser three desks away to his
right as the girl he knew from the call center. As if
sensing his eyes upon her she half turns, brushing her hair
away from her cheek, seems to catch his eye and gives him a
trace of a smile, before turning back to her client - an
exact repeat of her behavior in the virtual call center.
 
                      ADVISER
          Is there anything else we can help
          you with?
 
                      FRANK
          What about my comms and net access?
          Surely I should have some credit
          left?
 
                      ADVISER
          Your comms credit plan is synced to
          your income schedule, I'm afraid.
          All credit expires at the end of
          the payment period.
 
                      FRANK
          That seems outrageous.
 
                      ADVISER
          It's standard practice, Mr Khan.
          Your comms and net credit will be
          renewed once your last payment is
          cleared. Was there anything else -
          there are other clients waiting and
          you are past the time limit for
          free access?
 
                      FRANK
          I think it's time I changed banks.
 
                      ADVISER
          That's your choice, Mr Khan - but
          finding a bank willing to open an
          account for you may prove difficult
          without an income stream. Is there
          anything else we can help you with?
 
                      FRANK
          Else? What do you mean 'anything
          else'? You haven't helped me with
          anything at all. Thanks for
          nothing!
 
Frank looks to his right and tries to get a clearer view of
the girl but she is busy with her client and the intervening
pillar means he can see only her nose, mouth and forehead in
profile - enough for recognition though.
 
                      ADVISER
          Thank you for contacting Mutual
          Benefit Bank!
 
     [[change from virtual to actual]]
 
The adviser and the pillared environment fade, replaced by a
list of options and the Western option on a uniform grey
field.
 
SCENE INT DAY BACK IN THE HIGH STREET BANK
 
From Frank's point of view the screen goes to black and the
table and bank employee fade in. The employee is standing
over him.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          "All sorted?"
 
The young employee is obviously waiting for the head set.
Frank begins to disconnect but then stops and sits slumped
in the chair for a moment. He starts to disconnect again and
the employee helps remove the contacts and collects the set.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Were they helpful?
 
                      FRANK
          They said that my last employer was
          withholding my pay until they got
          the headset back and they couldn't
          give me any credit. Thanks for
          trying to help though.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Who were you working for, if you
          don't mind my asking?
 
                      FRANK
          Mutual Benefit Services - bastards.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Oh dear, bank and employer the same
          - and they're one of the biggest.
          They can do what they like really.
          So they haven't collected the set?
 
                      FRANK
          No, that's why I'm here.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Very high quality equipment, their
          stuff. No surprise they want it
          back. Worth a lot - quite a black
          market in it.
 
                      FRANK
          Really? How much are they worth?
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Two or three thousand, depending on
          the model. They're easy to
          liberate, ideal for Kosmos 2 and
          the other top VR environments.
 
                      FRANK
          I'd better get back. My room isn't
          secure and somebody from Mutual may
          come for the set.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          You didn't leave it there I hope?
 
                      FRANK
          No, certainly not.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
                (looking at backpack)
          You've got it in there?
 
                      FRANK
          Why do you ask?
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Very wise if you have, that's all I
          was thinking. Do you mind my asking
          how much time they owe you for?
 
                      FRANK
          Just a full session.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Ironic really - you'd get many
          times more by selling it.
 
                      FRANK
          Yes, and probably never work again
          and end up in prison.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          You'd be really unlucky. Their
          stuff is always fully insured and
          they don't often prosecute - costs
          them too much.
 
                      FRANK
          I must go. Thank you again for
          trying to help.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          I hope things sort themselves out
          for you. As you can imagine, I'm
          not exactly busy here - your visit
          has been the high point of my week
          so far.
 
Frank leaves the little bank.
 
SCENE EXT DAY CITY STREETS
 
Series of shots.
 
Frank returns to his room. The streets he walks through are
again almost deserted. The shops and cafes on the High
Street are unlit and many are closed. The weather remains
grim.
 
SCENE INT DAY CORRIDOR OUTSIDE FRANK'S ROOM
 
Frank arrives at the top of the stairs out of breath. He
looks anxiously along the corridor towards his door. The
door appears closed from this distance but it is too far
away to be certain. As Frank walks closer it becomes obvious
that it is fully closed and there is something lying on the
floor just outside. It is the nail clippers. Frank picks up
the clippers and throws them violently along the corridor.
 
                      FRANK
          Oh shit! Fuck it. How did that
          happen?
 
There is no keyhole or handle on the door but a small number
panel and a scanner. Frank looks at the eye of the scanner
on the door. He enters a number on the panel. Nothing
happens.
 
                      FRANK
          There should be a backup power
          supply. How am I going to get back
          in?
 
He hits the door savagely, hurting his hand, then stands
there at a loss.
 
                      FRANK
          To hell with them!
 
Frank sets off at speed towards the stairs, picks up the
clippers on his way and disappears down the stairs.
 
SCENE INT DAY INSIDE THE LITTLE BANK
 
Frank comes in, wet and cold. After a short wait the Bank
Employee enters, again as if he has been interrupted in
something.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Oh hello, sir. Do you wish to try
          your bank again?
 
                      FRANK
          No, I don't think so. I can't see
          the point.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          How can I help then?
 
                      FRANK
          I am not sure you can, the messs
          I'm in - I am locked out of my flat
          and still no credit.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Locked out? Oh, I see - a
          combination of lack of credit and
          the power cuts I suppose - though
          I'm surprised your flat should be
          affected.
 
                      FRANK
          Well it is. Nothing's working
          properly. There was a weird
          misrouted call in the background
          while I was in the Virtual Call
          Center. Whoever it was was going on
          about something wrong with all the
          systems running stuff like power-
          like a virus or something - except
          he said it was targeted. Sounded
          like a very worried IT specialist.
          And in the middle of all this chaos
          Mutual is still stopping all my
          credit because they haven't got
          their precious VR crap back. Is it
          really worth as much as you said?
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Oh yes, I should think so.
          Depending on the model and who's
          buying of course.
 
                      FRANK
          So there really is a market for
          them?
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          Perhaps we could discuss this
          somewhere more private. Would you
          like to come back into my excuse
          for an office?
 
                      FRANK
          Oh, ok, thank you.
 
The bank employee leads Frank into the back of the little
bank, behind the counter. They disappear through a door.
 
SCENE INT DAY LITTLE BANK INNER OFFICE
 
The Bank Employee comes into the office and hastily gathers
up a VR set lying on his desk and puts it onto a shelf
containing many others. Frank follows him in. There is only
one chair and the little office is very small. They remain
standing.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          This is my little domain - sorry
          it's so sordid and there's so
          little room. Take the chair - you
          probably need it.
 
                      FRANK
          Thank you. I am a bit frazzled.
 
Frank takes off his backpack and coat and sits down.
 
                      BANK EMPLOYEE
          My name is Derek. I don't really
          need to know yours - hope you won't
          be offended. So you're interested
          in the market in used VR sets
          operates?
 
                      FRANK
          Possibly.
 
                      DEREK
          How did you come to be locked out?
 
                      FRANK
          The door wouldn't have let me back
          in without any power from inside or
          out so I left it jammed slightly
          open. Somebody unjammed it.
 
                      DEREK
          Mmm, actually that could be useful.
          They might accuse you of negligence
          I suppose but in the circumstances
          you had little choice. Obviously
          anyone could have gone in and
          stolen the set.
 
                      FRANK
          Wouldn't they ask why I didn't take
          it with me?
 
                      DEREK
          You could say you were worried that
          you would be suspected of stealing
          it. Actually the police might well
          assume it was stolen if they found
          it on you.
 
                      FRANK
          And they're fully insured?
 
                      DEREK
          Oh yes. It's the insurance company
          that might investigate but you
          should be all right.
 
                      FRANK
          So what next?
 
                      DEREK
          Could I have a look at it?
 
                      FRANK
          Oh er yes, of course.
 
Frank opens his backpack, takes out the VR set and hands it
to Derek. Derek examines it carefully and gives it back.
 
                      DEREK
          A Kosmo3 - very nice.
 
                      FRANK
          What's it worth?
 
                      DEREK
          Look, I can put you in touch with
          someone. I can't say what they will
          offer but I think it's actually
          worth nearly 3000. Do you want me
          to call someone? You can always
          back out.
 
                      FRANK
          OK, go ahead,I don't owe the
          bastards anything.
 
BRAZIL STYLE CARNIVAL EXT DAY
 
[[THIS SCENE IS IN VIRTUAL REALITY. IT IS ENDED BY FRANK'S
DOOR TONES INTERRUPTING AND BREAKING THE REALITY ]]
 
Frank is in the middle of an exotic carnival, hand in hand
with a girl who looks very like the girl from the Call
Center and Western Bank virtual environments.
 
Collage of Frank moving through the throng of dancers,
musicians, masked men and women, all in lurid and sometimes
grotesque costume, passing floats and entertainers, food
stalls, fireworks and lasers in the sky, all accompanied by
carnival music.
 
Frank's virtual girl is leading him into a funfair area,
pulling him along and laughing. She is pointing at a huge,
glowing roller coaster ahead of them.
 
                      FRANK'S VIRTUAL GIRL
          Come on. I haven't been on one of
          those for ages.
 
The two arrive at the foot of the ride unrealistically
quickly and a wagon is waiting for them. They climb in. The
girl turns to Frank and kisses him passionately. The ride
begins. The girl clings to Frank and they embrace tightly.
She screams with the appropriate mixture of fear and
delight. As they go over the top of a terrifying drop an
insistent buzzing is heard. It grows louder and louder.
Virtual Frank and virtual girl pay no attention to it and
hurtle down the vertical drop.
 
     [[virtual to real transition]]
 
 A message comes up flashing urgently overlaying the virtual
scene- Front Door Entry Request. The virtual roller coaster
and virtul girl and virtual Frank dissolve into pixellation.
 
FRANK'S FLAT INT DAY
 
A shot of  Frank's room as seen by Frank sitting at the
table. As he looks around we see the walls of the room are
displaying backgrounds of the city from the virtual reality
scene. The lighting is exotic, say tropical sunset and there
are ambient noise effects.The door buzzer continues to sound
very loudly.
 
                      FRANK
          Who the hell can that be?
 
A big screen on the wall shows an inset image of a woman in
some kind of uniform, including a peaked cap.
 
"Entry Request"  on the top of the screen above the image
and
 
"Allow Entry?
 
Query requester?
 
Refuse Entry?"
 
below the image. Frank does something mysterious with his
eyes to enlarge the image on the big screen. It isn't
possible to see much of the face but the figure looks
similar to Frank's virtual fantasy woman - in fact to all
the women so far. Frank looks more closely at the uniform
and can just make out the logo of Mutual Benefit on the cap.
 
                      FRANK
          Oh shit!
 
The door buzzer continues to sound. Frank chooses "Query
requester" and another list of choices displays
 
"Query by voice or by text?". He chooses voice. "Audio
channel active" is displayed.
 
                      FRANK
          Hello? Who's there?
 
                      ANGELA O.S.
                (on large screen,
                 speaking to door mike)
          Oh I was about to give up. Mutual
          benefit sent me, Mr Khan. I am
          Angela MacGibbon.
 
She holds up an id card on large screen.
 
                      ANGELA O.S
                (on large screen,
                 speaking to door mike)
          Could I come in?
 
                      FRANK
          What's it about? They don't employ
          me any more.
 
                      ANGELA O.S.
                (on large screen,
                 speaking to door mike)
          It's about the stolen headset. They
          have to check in person for the
          insurance company regs.
 
                      FRANK
          I told them all I know about it in
          my report.
 
                      ANGELA O.S.
                (on large screen,
                 speaking to door mike)
          It's just a formality. I don't want
          to be a bother but it's very cold
          and dark out here and they will
          only send me back if I don't talk
          to you now.
 
Seen straight on through the door camera on the big screen
Angela looks very much like a somewhat older version of the
original virtual girl in the call center. Frank does a
double take as he looks at the screen.
 
                      FRANK
                (under his breath)
          Can't be her, can't be!.
                (to screen)
          Yes,sorry, reslly sorry to keep you
          waiting out there.
 
Frank turns off the screen and voice link.
 
                      FRANK
          Virtual link off please. Er - cozy
          evening ambience please.
 
The walls return to normal. The lighting changes to a warm
and relaxing. The sound effects stop. Frank opens the door
and lets her in. The outside corridor is very dark. Angela
looks very cold, deeply sheltering in her coat.
 
                      FRANK
          No lights at all. The power cuts
          are getting worse.
 
                      ANGELA
          It's spooky quiet everywhere out
          there. I had to take several buses
          because of the train situation. Do
          you want to see my id again?
 
Frank is finding it difficult not to stare at Angela because
of the likeness. He continues to sneak glances at her when
she is not looking throughout the conversation.
 
                      FRANK
          No, no. There's no need. Please sit
          down.
 
Angela is about to sit down at the table in her coat and
peaked cap.
 
                      FRANK
          Let me take your coat and stuff.
 
                      ANGELA
          Oh, thank you.
 
Frank helps Angela take off her peaked cap and her coat and
hangs them up. They sit down opposite each other. Frank
smiles at her. She smiles back.
 
                      FRANK
          So what do you want to ask me?
 
                      ANGELA
          I have a questionnaire I have to
          follow. It's on paper - the company
          is having trouble with its data
          systems.
 
Angela gets out a sheaf of papers and looks for the right
sheet.
 
                      ANGELA
          So if you just answer as best you
          can and sign at the end? They're
          mainly yes or no.
 
                      FRANK
          Ok, I'll do my best.
 
                      ANGELA
          Ok, here goes.
                (reading from script)
          Where were you when the Virtual
          Reality set was stolen?
 
                      FRANK
          I was at the multi-bank outlet on
          the High Street.
 
                      ANGELA
                (reading from script)
          Had you taken reasonable
          precautions to protect the set in
          your absence?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes
 
                      ANGELA
                (reading from script)
          What precautions did you take?
 
                      FRANK
          I put it in a cupboard behind a
          cereal packet.
 
                      ANGELA
          Good hiding place!
                (reading from script)
          Was the front door locked with an
          approved locking mechanism?
 
                      FRANK
          No.
 
                      ANGELA
          Oh, wait a moment. Ah,
                (reading from script)
          Why not?
 
                      FRANK
          Because Mutual stopped my credit so
          there was no power in my room and
          the power cut affected the building
          so the locking mechanism didn't
          work. I had to leave it just ajar,
          propped open with a pair of nail
          clippers - otherwise I would have
          locked myself out.
 
                      ANGELA
          Oh dear. Wait a moment! Oh I think
          I'll just put 'lock disabled by
          power cut' - I don't have to write
          all that, that you used the nail
          clippers and so on.
 
                      FRANK
          Will that be all right?
 
                      ANGELA
          You did what you could. Things are
          so strange at the moment - I think
          people tend to make allowances.
          Shall I go on?
 
                      FRANK
          Is there much more?
 
                      ANGELA
          Just a couple of questions.
 
Angela smiles at Frank. He keeps his response muted, not
trusting himself.
 
                      ANGELA
          Did you report the theft to the
          police within 24 hours?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes
 
                      ANGELA
          Is this a true account of the loss
          of Mutual's property?
 
Frank blushes.
 
                      FRANK
          Yes
 
                      ANGELA
          Ok, just sign here where it says
          'claimant's assignee or agent'.
 
Frank signs. There is a pause.
 
                      ANGELA
          Well that's all done. I'd better be
          going.
 
ANGELA makes no immediate move to go and gives a small
shiver.
 
                      FRANK
          Are you cold? It's warm enough in
          here isn't it?
 
                      ANGELA
          No, it's lovely and warm. It's just
          thinking of outside.
 
                      FRANK
          Would you like a cup of tea or
          something before you go?
 
                      ANGELA
          Would you mind? I'd love one. Give
          me the courage to go back out
          there.
 
                      FRANK
          Is it really that cold outside?
 
                      ANGELA
          It's not just the cold. Everywhere
          is the same - deserted and shut up.
          Nobody about. You'd think everyone
          had been struck down by plague or
          something.
 
                      FRANK
          I didn't realize it was that bad -
          I haven't been out in a while. I'll
          make the tea - or would you like
          coffee?
 
                      ANGELA
          Tea would be lovely. It's partly
          the power cuts - there's almost no
          power in the High Street and it's
          very dark everywhere.
 
Frank goes over to the cooking area and starts making tea.
 
                      FRANK
          Does sound spooky. Excuse me for
          asking, but have you ever worked in
          the Call Center?
 
Angela has a look that says she knows what's coming, is used
to it but still doesn't like it much.
 
                      ANGELA
          You mean the Virtual workplace?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes. I'm sure you or someone
          amazingly like you worked in the
          next desk to me during some of my
          shifts.
 
                      ANGELA
          In a way you're right. I agreed to
          let them have full rights over the
          virtual construct they created,
          using me as the base. I never
          actually worked there.
 
                      FRANK
          Oh I see. Did they pay you well?
 
                      ANGELA
          Not really - just a slightly higher
          rate for allowing them to construct
          the thing while I was working.
 
                      FRANK
          And then I saw you, I'm pretty
          sure, as an adviser in the bank.
 
                      ANGELA
          They can use my virtual construct
          where they like. As I said, they
          have full rights.
 
Frank comes back with tea. Angela gathers up the papers and
puts them in her bag. Frank puts the teas on the table.
 
                      FRANK
          Here you go.
 
                      ANGELA
          Thank you. It's very kind of you,
          considering I came here to hassle
          you with paperwork.
 
                      FRANK
          No worries. Had to be done.
                (hesitant, awkward)
          I suppose this must have happened
          to you a lot - being recognized by
          ex-Mutual workers.
 
                      ANGELA
                (a little upset)
          Yes, a lot. It's strange - having
          been a part of so many people's
          working life; many of them feel
          they have some kind of a bond with
          me as a fellow worker, a friend -
          even a possible girlfriend. It's
          embarrassing, really. I feel sort
          of flattered but more that I'm a
          sort of fraud, that I've cheated
          them.
 
                      FRANK
          It's not your fault. You didn't
          know how they would use you in
          virtual.
 
                      ANGELA
          I could have had a good guess and I
          could have said no - but I needed
          the money and I was flattered too I
          suppose. And now here's the real me
          checking up on the paperwork. I'm
          sorry.
 
                      FRANK
          No, don't be. It helped keep me
          sane, even if it wasn't real. I was
          happy to let myself be fooled. Of
          course once I saw you at the bank I
          knew for certain you were part of
          the virtual setup - but I must have
          realized before - just didn't want
          to face up to it.
 
                      ANGELA
          Oh dear.
 
                      FRANK
          Anyway it was a very nice smile -
          shy but warm. How did they model
          that I wonder.
 
                      ANGELA
          (blushing) I don't know. It was a
          long time ago.
 
                      FRANK
          Sorry, I'm embarrassing you.
 
There is a long awkward pause.
 
                      ANGELA
          Well, I must get going. Thanks for
          tea and everything.
 
                      FRANK
          Do you have far to go?
 
                      ANGELA
          Quite a journey by bus - right over
          the other side of town. I'm not
          going back to the office now.
 
                      FRANK
          I hope somebody's there to make a
          fuss of you when you come in from
          the cold.
 
                      ANGELA
          No, it's just me - but the flat is
          nice and warm - not so different
          from yours. I'll be fine.
 
Angela gets up, Frank brings her coat and cap, she puts them
on. They walk to the door.
 
                      FRANK
          I'd just like to say that it's been
          really good to meet you in the real
          world, quite the opposite of a
          disappointment.
 
                      ANGELA
          Thank you - and thank you for not
          minding about the questionnaire.
 
                      FRANK
          It feels strange seeing you leave -
          I never actually saw you do that
          online - you just weren't there the
          next time I looked. It didn't
          bother me - I imagined you'd just
          finished your shift and slipped out
          quietly. Don't mind me, wittering
          on about my unreal memories of you
          - at least they kept me happy. Now
          you're really leaving. I hope your
          journey back is O.K.
 
Angela looks a little troubled and doesn't reply but she
eventually smiles at him and he smiles very warmly in
return. There is clearly some chemistry between them. Angela
finally turns away towards the door and Frank lets her out
of the flat. Through the door the external corridor/balcony
of the block of flats looks very dark and cold.
 
                      FRANK
          Are you sure you're going to be OK?
          Shall I walk you to the bus stop?
 
                      ANGELA
          No, you're all right. I'll be fine.
 
                      FRANK
          Are you sure there are any buses.
          Everything seems to have shut down
          - it's scary out there. Will you
          come back if you are stuck? I can
          always sleep on the pull-out.
 
                      ANGELA
          That's very kind but I should be
          all right.
 
Angela shakes Frank's hand and walks determinedly out of the
flat. Frank closes the door.
 
                      FRANK
          What a strange experience. I was
          sure she wasn't real. I never
          thought of her getting older - but
          she was nice.
 
He shrugs, collects the VR set from the side, sits down and
connects up.
 
                      FRANK
          Virtual link on, please.
 
The walls again display the exotic city backdrop, the light
changes to romantic evening sunset and ambient sounds begi
again. Frank adjusts the set and the flat fades from view
and is replaced by Frank's arm round virtual younger Angela
lookalike and view from the the top of the same
roller-coaster drop that was interrupted. They descend,
younger Angela screaming happily, Frank holding her tight.
 
SC EXT NIGHT ANGELA'S ATTEMPTED JOURNEY HOME.
 
Angela walks along the unlit external corridor/balcony
towards the stairs past a series of doors. A drone carrying
a packet flies over the balcony and hovers outside a door
just ahead of her. The door and the drone exchange
electronic chirps and the door opens, so that some light
spills out onto the balcony. The drone flies just inside and
flies out and away without the packet. The door closes
again. It seems even darker.
 
Angela looks after the drone and out towards the city; there
are surprisingly few lights. She reaches the stairs and goes
down; they are unlit and even darker, though there is a
little light coming from outside on the landings on each
floor. She slows down, placing her feet with care.
 
She emerges onto the street. The street lights are not
working and again any light comes from residential windows
so there are small pools of light and larger pools of
darkness along the street.
 
                      ANGELA
          It's getting worse. I hope the High
          Street is better.
 
She hesitates but then walks briskly along the street. As
she goes we see a small drone high above her. She takes a
turning towards the High Street. The High Street appears to
have some lights as there is a glow at the end of the the
street she is in.
 
She reaches the High Street. It is deserted but is better
lit by street lights on the opposite side from her. There
are traffic lights going through their phases of red, yellow
green but no traffic.
 
                      ANGELA
          That's better.
 
As she passes a street light on the opposite side, it goes
out. She is clearly disturbed by this but continues. The
same things happens as she passes the next. The High Street
is getting darker; there are almost no lights in the shops
and other buildings. She passes another street light and it
goes out.
 
She reaches a bus stop and looks at the screen which should
display times and routes of expected bus arrivals but the
display is dark. Opposite the bus stop she sees the multiple
bank outlet. Its live digital display screen can be faintly
seen on the wall beside the bank door.
 
Angela waits, shivers, clasps her arms around herself and
walks up and down to keep warm. The wind can be heard. Above
her, and unseen by her, a small drone hovers for a moment
and then disappears upwards into the dark and cloud cover.
 
LATER
 
Angela is still waiting. The weather is worsening, rain or
sleet and the wind is rising. There is no traffic and no-one
about. Another street light goes out down the road. Angela
shows signs of losing belief in the prospect of buses. She
taps her wrist and her retinal display comes up,
superimposed on her view of the street; she selects contacts
and the name of her boss at Mutual, Millie Harrison, legal
outreach coordinator. The retinal display shows the
following
 
Network error. The addressee could not be reached. Please
try later.
 
Angela tries the same contact again with the same result.
She scrolls down the contacts list and selects Journey
Planner with the same result.
 
                      ANGELA
          It doesn't even say no signal. What
          network error? What does it mean?
 
She looks up and down the road on both sides. There is a
little light from a distant street lamp and the traffic
lights. She sees a drone moving high above the buildings
some way up the High Street. She doesn't see the drone
hovering directly above her.
 
The street light goes out. The weather worsens. The traffic
lights go out mid-change. The scene darkens. The only faint
sign of life is the illuminated access panel of the multiple
bank opposite. Zoom out to establish Angela alone in
deserted street and city block - drones the only things
moving.
 
     First episode end?
 
     epsode 2
 
She crosses the empty road to investigate. The panel
displays the same list of banks as before. Angela hesitates.
She checks all the bank names again.
 
                      ANGELA
          Don't suppose it matters since
          they're bound to be closed at this
          time but I'd better try Mutual
          first.
 
She presses the name on the panel. A faint notice displays
'This branch of Mutual Benefit Bank is currently closed. We
are open every Wednesday from 9.30 a.m. until 12 midday. We
apologize for any inconvenience caused but would like to
remind customers that all transactions can now be
accomplished online.'
 
                      ANGELA
          Not getting off the street into
          some kind of shelter, you can't.
          Bugger. I'll just try them all.
 
Angela presses the top name. The panel displays the same
notice.
 
'This branch of People's bank is now....'
 
Angela presses the next name quickly with the same result..
 
She presses the next, First National. The panel dimly
displays
 
'Reduced service. Do you have the means to establish you
First National ID?'
 
Press here for YES or here for NO.
 
                      ANGELA
          I'll say anything to get out of the
          rain.
 
Angela presses YES. There is a faint click from the door.
Angela goes up to the door and looks at the big brass handle
and the secure-looking panels. 
 
                      ANGELA
          I hope I'm not getting myself into
          trouble..
 
She touches the door and it  opens. Angela is amazed and
relieved. She goes in.
 
SC INT NIGHT INSIDE THE BANK CUSTOMER SPACE
 
Angela comes into the small, dimly lit customer space,
facing the single stall empty counter. Her footsteps echo on
the stone floor. She stops and looks around, sees the closed
door behind the counter. She looks over the counter and sees
it has a seat attached to it
 
                      ANGELA
          (to herself) Maybe it let me in by
          mistake. (calling out) Hello, is
          anyone here?
 
She waits. There is a long silence.
 
                      ANGELA
          I've never been alone in a bank
          before. (Calling more loudly)
          Hello? Anyone?
 
She waits. There is a slight sound from behind the door,
some scuffling and creaking, then silence. There is another
long wait.
 
VIRTUAL REALITY SCENE EXT. DAY TROPICAL BEACH
 
Derek and a shapely young lady are romping together in the
surf of an absurdly beautiful island. There is the sound of
the waves and music in the background. Gradually through the
music comes the sound of an alarm and then Angela's voice
 
                      ANGELA O.S.
          Hello? Anyone?
 
                      DEREK
          Bloody Hell!
 
The virtual scene fades and is replaced by the tiny back
office of the grumpy looking Derek is removing the headset.
 
SC INT NIGHT INSIDE THE BANK CUSTOMER SPACE
 
Footsteps are heard and Derek opens the inner door and peers
out. He looks dazed, interrupted, then very surprised and a
little alarmed. When he sees Angela he registers possible
recognition as well as just surprise.
 
                      DEREK
          Good Heavens. Are you a customer?
 
                      ANGELA
          Not really. I am just stuck and
          very cold. I didn't think think a
          bank could be open now but I didn't
          have anywhere else to try. Why is
          it open?
 
                      DEREK
          Ah, well it shouldn't be but it is.
          What can I do for you?
 
                      ANGELA
          Well, I wondered if you knew what
          had happened to the buses?
 
                      DEREK
          The buses?
 
                      ANGELA
          Yes, there don't seem to be any.
          And my implant isn't connecting.
 
                      DEREK
          I did get a notification before
          things shut down - just that the
          bus service was temporarily
          suspended from 6.00 p.m. this
          evening.
 
                      ANGELA
          Until when?
 
                      DEREK
          They didn't say - then the network
          kept reporting an error - no comms.
          So you're stuck? Where are you
          trying to get to.
 
                      ANGELA
          North Hallerton.
 
                      DEREK
          Right up there! I don't even live
          in the city - I'm based nearly
          forty miles away.
 
                      ANGELA
          So why is the bank open?
 
                      DEREK
          Ah, well , as I can't get home,
          trains and things, I'm sleeping in
          the back office. If I let all the
          banks close according to the
          timetable, everything is turned off
          and I get locked out very securely
          until half an hour before the next
          scheduled opening time - so I have
          to keep one open.
 
                      ANGELA
          You said 'before things shut down'.
          What did you mean
 
                      DEREK
          Just that the network stopped
          working - as well as everything
          else. There's no mains power here
          either -that's why it's freezing
          cold.
 
                      ANGELA
          It's better than outside. How come
          the lights are on if there's no
          power?
 
                      DEREK
          There's a backup solar system with
          a large battery for the lights and
          the bank's native systems - it was
          just designed for temporary power
          outs , and this obviously isn't one
          of those.
                (pause)
          Look, we'll be a little warmer in
          the office. Why don't we go
          through? Be warned - it's very
          small though.
 
                      ANGELA
          Thank you - I am beginning to feel
          the cold out here.
 
Derek leads Angela through the door into the inner office.
 
SCENE INT NIGHT THE INNER BANK OFFICE
 
The room is scarcely more than a large cupboard. There is
one chair, a very small desk or table with a VR set and a
computer terminal on it, a crumpled up sleeping bag and
cushions on the floor along the far wall. Shelves along one
wall contains more VR sets and other equipment. Derek
removes the VR set from the table and puts it on a shelf. He
sits on the edge of the table and motions Angela into the
chair.
 
                      ANGELA
          Thank you. I didn't expect to end
          up in a bank manager's office this
          evening. What on earth is going on
          outside?
 
                      DEREK
          Well I don't know any more than you
          do - but I had a customer in here a
          few days ago - well, sort of a
          customer. Anyway he had
          accidentally heard part of a
          conversation between two computer
          boffins. They were saying that all
          the basic control systems had been
          affected. They sounded very worried
          according to him. It does seem to
          be affect mainly public areas and
          buildings, which is weird.
 
                      ANGELA
          Weird and spooky! But how did he
          come to accidentally hear something
          like that?
 
                      DEREK
          He was working in a virtual call
          centre - Mutual's I think - and
          there was some kind of electronic
          glitch, misrouting he called it. I
          think it really was accidental.
 
                      ANGELA
          What's his name?
 
                      DEREK
          Why?
 
                      ANGELA
          I think I may know him.
 
                      DEREK
          Look, maybe we'd better introduce
          ourselves before I start handing
          out information about other people.
          I'm Derek. I have the great
          privilege of managing six bank
          branches in one room, one for each
          day of the working week.
 
                      ANGELA
          Hi, I'm Angela. Thanks for letting
          me in. I actually work for Mutual.
          I'm a claims consultant.
 
                      DEREK
          Ah, that might explain it.
 
                      ANGELA
          What do you mean?
 
                      DEREK
          I thought I recognized you from
          somewhere. Were you on the bank VR?
 
                      ANGELA
          Oh goodness, you as well. Mutual
          used me as a construct base - on
          several platforms apparently -
          about 10 years ago.
 
                      DEREK
          If you don't mind my saying, I'm
          not surprised they chose you for a
          construct.
 
He smiles very warmly at her. Angela looks uncomfortable.
 
                      DEREK
           So now you're an insurance claims
          investigator?
 
                      ANGELA
          Not an investigator, no. I just get
          the paperwork done. Getting
          claimants' statements and
          signatures - so all the insurer's
          requirements are met.
 
                      DEREK
          Don't you report on claimants'
          stories to Mutual?
 
                      ANGELA
          No I don't do anything like that.
          After all Mutual is the claimant.
          They just want to make sure the
          procedure is completed properly.
 
                      DEREK
          They must investigate some claims.
 
                      ANGELA
          I suppose -  but they don't seem
          very bothered. I just get the story
          down with a signature so the claim
          can go ahead.
 
                      DEREK
          Oh I see - and you were
          interviewing someone round here?
 
                      ANGELA
          Yup, man who worked in Mutual's VR
          call centre, got laid off, had the
          set stolen. I just came from his
          place.
 
                      DEREK
          (cautiously) So did you get the
          paperwork done?
 
                      ANGELA
          Yes, all done.
 
                      DEREK
          And obviously you haven't been able
          to report back yet.
 
                      ANGELA
          I just have to hand over the signed
          statement, that's all -if I ever
          get there.
 
                      DEREK
          Did his story seem OK?
 
                      ANGELA
          Story?
 
                      DEREK
          How he came to lose the set.
 
                      ANGELA
          Sounded ok to me but I'm not the
          one making the decisions.
 
                      DEREK
          You mean they might not accept it?
 
                      ANGELA
          Don't see why not - especially with
          the special circumstances. He's
          already told them what happened -
          I'm just getting the signed,
          official statement. Was he the one
          you mentioned do you think - the
          one who overheard that stuff about
          the systems?
 
                      DEREK
          Can you tell me his name?
 
                      ANGELA
          I suppose - can't hurt really -
          Frank, Frank Khan.
 
                      DEREK
          Yes, that's him. He was round here
          contacting his bank - he was broke.
 
                      ANGELA
          He doesn't seem that short now. At
          least his room seemed very warm and
          comfortable compared to outside.
                (pause)
 
                      ANGELA
          It is cold in here, you're right.
          What on earth am I going to do?
 
Derek shifts himself along the table, slightly closer to
Angela.
 
                      DEREK
          You could stay here - as you can
          see it is very small but I am sure
          we could make it more comfortable.
 
                      ANGELA
          I can see there's only room for one
          in here really - and the front is
          horribly hard and cold.
 
                      DEREK
          You couldn't sleep in there. Apart
          from the cold and the stone floor,
          I don't know what the security
          system would do if you lay down -
          it might call the emergency
          services.
 
                      ANGELA
          It would have a job with no network
          coverage.
 
                      DEREK
          There's supposed to be a direct
          link. I wonder if that's working.
                (Too persuasively)
          Anyway I am sure we could manage in
          here - you could have the sleeping
          bag. I could make do with the
          cushions.
 
                      ANGELA
          I would make you very uncomfortable
          and possibly get you into trouble
          as well.
 
                      DEREK
          Almost no chance of that. Nobody
          ever comes here.
 
                      ANGELA
          It's very kind but I don't think
          it's a very sensible idea.
 
                      DEREK
          Come on! The world has gone crazy!
          I could do with the company,
          couldn't you? A bit of human
          comfort.
 
Derek moves an inch closer and smiles warmly at her.
 
                      DEREK
          There is a small toilet and basin
          out the back - cold water only, I'm
          afraid.
                (pauses)
          What else can you do? I'm not sure
          we have much choice, either of us.
          Fate has landed us together for the
          night.
 
Derek puts his hand on Angela's hand, which is resting on
the table. Angela gently removes her hand and edges away
from Derek slightly. Derek hastily stands up and moves away.
 
                      ANGELA
          Well, thanks again but Frank Khan
          did say I could stay at his if I
          had problems. He was quite
          concerned when I lef, very weet
          really - but I didn't want to take
          advantage of him. I'm beginning to
          think it may be my best option.
 
                      DEREK
          Oh, did he? Bit of a way to go in
          the cold, though.
 
                      ANGELA
          I've done it once so I can do it
          again. I think I'll have to do
          that; he does have enough room and
          I can't really force myself on you
          when you've got nothing but a
          sleeping bag and a corner of the
          floor for yourself.
 
                      DEREK
          Look, I'm sorry if I was out of
          order. I can take no for an answer,
          you know.
 
                      ANGELA
          That's OK - no harm done. I had
          better get going though if I'm
          going. Thanks for the company and
          the shelter - I needed that.
 
                      DEREK
          I think maybe I'd better walk you
          over there. You've done enough
          solitary night journeys for now.
 
                      ANGELA
          No, you're all right. I can manage.
 
                      DEREK
          I owe you that much. I don't think
          you hould be doing that journey on
          your own jut now and I'm not
          exactly buy - and I wouldn't mind
          having a chat with Frank about
          what's going on.
 
                      ANGELA
          Well it's kind of you - but you
          really don't have to.
 
                      DEREK
          I do I'm afraid- it's weird out
          there. I'm also interested to see
          what's going on out there.
 
                      ANGELA
          Nothing is going on out there -
          it's a deert.
 
                      DEREK
          OK, let's cross the desert together
          .
 
                      ANGELA
          What about getting back in? Won't
          the building close down and shut
          you out?
 
                      DEREK
          Yes, but I can reschedule the next
          opening for a couple of hours' time
          or so - as long as the battery
          lasts. I'll just do that now.
 
Angela and Derek go out through the door into the customer
lobby.
 
SC EXT NIGHT JOURNEY BACK TO FRANK KHAN'S FLAT.
 
Derek and Angela emerge from the multiple bank. Driving rain
is sweeping along the High Street which is very dark. They
look up and down and cross the road towards the bus stop
where Angela previously waited. They stop in the partial
shelter of the bus stop.
 
                      DEREK
          The traffic lights are out too.
 
                      ANGELA
          They went out just before I gave up
          and crossed over to the bank.
 
                      DEREK
          And no traffic, no sign of anyone
          fixing anything, no police - no
          services at all.
 
                      ANGELA
          And no network either. Jesus.
 
                      DEREK
          We'd better move on.
 
They start walking against the rain and turn off the main
road into a smaller, even darker side road. They do not see
the drone flying across the side road above them.
 
There are occasional dim pools of light from small windows.
The drainage system is failing and water is overflowing the
gutters and streaming down the sidewalk and over their
shoes.
 
                      ANGELA
          Let's cross over. It looks a bit
          drier.
 
                      DEREK
          Yes, but we'll have to wade through
          the torrent to get there.
 
They cross, trying to avoid the deepest bits. Even so the
water comes up to their knees at one point. Angela nearly
loses her footing and Derek grabs her but she pushes him off
and manages to recover. 
 
                      ANGELA
          It's OK, I can manage.
 
They arrive at the other side, which is drier under foot but
they are already soaked.
 
They arrive at Frank's block of flats. A drone flies quite
low overhead and disappears upwards. Another is hovering
near them to one side of the doors for some time. They are
both slightly startled by the drones but are focused on
getting in out of the rain. Angela tries the names panel but
it is apparently not working. She pushes the front door,
which swings open.
 
                      ANGELA
          Another thing not working.
 
                      DEREK
          At least we can get inside.
 
                      ANGELA
          Everybody else disappeared indoors
          long ago.
 
They go into the vestibule of the block. Outside we see the
hovering drone fly off.
 
SC EXT NIGHT THE BALCONY/EXTERNAL CORRIDOR OUTSIDE FRANK'S
FLAT.
 
Rain is being swept onto the balcony by the wind so Angela
and Derek have little shelter. They are clearly very wet and
cold. Angela presses the intercom/ visitor viewing panel.
The buzzer can be heard within. There is a long wait. Angela
tries again. There is another long wait. She tries again;
nothing happens.
 
                      DEREK
          He must be there. Where would he go
          in weather like this?
 
Derek knocks on the door. Angela tries the buzzer again.
Derek hammers on the door. etc.
 
Then the speaker comes alive and heavy breathing can be
heard but nothing else.
 
                      ANGELA
          Hi, Frank, it's me, Angela. I'm
          stuck - no buses. Can I come in -
          it's not nice out here.
 
                      FRANK O.S.
          (His voice is slow and thick) Hey,
          Angela. (pause)Great to see you.
          Wow - no buses eh? Er -is that
          someone with you?
 
Derek puts his face in front of the panel.
 
                      DEREK
          Hi - I brought her over. She's
          stuck.
 
                      FRANK
          Derek! Oh - OK. Just a sec. (pause)
          I'm a bit sleepy.
 
Sounds of movement and faint noises of things being moved
about. The door opens, Frank pokes his head out, smiling
warmly at Angela, looking uncertainly at Derek.
 
                      FRANK
          You are wet - come in.
 
Angela and Derek go in.
 
end episode 1?
 
start episode 2?
 
SCENE INTERNAL NIGHT FRANK'S FLAT
 
The lighting is low and warm. The walls are showing a
tropical shore with waves gently lapping. The waves can be
heard. A VR set is on the couch, a single red light glowing
on it. Angela and Derek are dripping all over the floor,
drenched.
 
                      FRANK
          Er -VR sync off. Oh - Ambient
          off.Jesus you're wet. Let me take
          your coats.
 
The light brightens, the wall scenes and sound effects stop.
Derek and Angela hand him their coats. Frank motions to the
couch and hangs the coats behind the door.
 
                      FRANK
          Sit down - don't worry about the
          couch - I'll bring towels. Shall I
          put the kettle on - or maybe
          something stronger?
 
Angela and Derek sit on the couch, Derek keeping a careful
distance away.
 
                      ANGELA
          Would you mind if I took my shoes
          off? They're soaked.
 
                      FRANK
          Go ahead. So - tea or alcohol?
 
Angela takes off her shoes. Derek looks a question at Frank,
Frank nods and Derek starts taking his shoes off.
 
                      DEREK
          Do you have whisky?
 
                      FRANK
          Scotch, yup. Angela? You look as if
          you could do with one.
 
                      ANGELA
          I definitely could.
 
                      FRANK
          Ice? Water? Neat?
 
                      ANGELA
          No ice thank you. Not after that.
          Neat would be great, Frank, thanks.
 
                      FRANK
          Derek?
 
                      DEREK
          Just the same thanks. Appreciated.
 
Frank brings two towels from the bathroom. He hands one
gently to Angela and drops the other on Derek.
 
                      FRANK
          There you go.
 
Frank then busies himself preparing drinks. Derek and Angela
mop some of the water off, keeping an awkward distance from
each other. Frank brings the drinks over.
 
                      FRANK
          So no buses or trains. What's going
          on?!
 
                      ANGELA
          And no network, no comms at all. Do
          you have any here?
 
                      FRANK
          No nothing here either. How did you
          two meet up, if you don't mind my
          asking?
 
                      ANGELA
          The bank was the only place with
          any sign of life, not something I
          often find myself saying. I just
          tried it as a last resort.
 
                      FRANK
          What were you doing there in the
          middle of the night, Derek?
 
                      DEREK
          No trains home. I was very
          surprised to see Angela. I had
          heard the buses weren't running
          before the comms went down.
 
                      ANGELA
          It was weird out there, everything
          shutting down like that.
 
                      FRANK
          Everything? What do you mean?
 
                      DEREK
          Things have gone out in stages,
          transport first, then power to
          shops and offices, followed by
          comms and net access, and by the
          time we came over  street lights,
          traffic lights, even drainage it
          looks like - and no-one about, no
          one at all.
 
                      ANGELA
          The only things moving out there
          are drones.
 
                      FRANK
          They're always about. Delivery
          drones are in and out of the flats
          all the time.
 
                      ANGELA
          These weren't delivering - just
          cruising high up.
 
                      DEREK
          And hovering. We saw several on the
          way over, two just outside.
 
                      FRANK
          Are you sure they weren't
          delivering? I've never seen them
          just hang around. They're
          programmed to save time and fuel -
          you know - direct route, optimised
          for fuel consumption, high altitude
          return.
 
                      DEREK
          We know that, Frank. These were
          definitely not doing their usual
          thing. It was almost as if they
          were watching us.
 
                      FRANK
          Oh come on - they're just delivery
          vans that fly.
 
Angela notices some tension building. She smiles at Frank.
 
                      ANGELA
          Honestly, it did seem spooky. We
          saw several with no packages
          attahed and in no  hurry to get
          anywhere. One of them was hovering
          above the entrance here when we
          arrived.
 
Angela manages to give Derek a warning look and he changes
the subject.
 
                      DEREK
          I don't understand what's going on
          at all.  That weird conversation
          you overheard keeps coming back to
          me, Frank. What did they say was
          the problem?
 
                      FRANK
          Well it was only one of them
          talking, as if he was reporting to
          the other. He said the AIs
          controlling the infrastructure
          systems were breaking down.
 
                      DEREK
          Didn't he say something about it
          being targeted at public areas?
 
                      FRANK
          He certainly said there were 
          breakdowns in public areas - wait,
          I think maybe he did say
          'targeted', yes, that was it
          'targeted at mainly public areas.'
 
                      ANGELA
          How can a power outage be targeted?
          Does that make sense?
 
                      DEREK
          Well, it's a computer systems
          malfunction, so maybe he just meant
          it was the type of system that
          controls the power for public
          places and devices.
 
                      FRANK
          Then why say 'targeted'?  Anyway
          surely only hospitals have
          separateshops and offices and
          street lighting.
 
                      DEREK
          You're right. I'm sure they only
          have separate supplies for the
          emergency services and maybe stuff
          like traffic lights.  But who would
          be targeting all the public places
          - terrorists? the Russians? Why
          would they?
 
                      ANGELA
          But also how are they doing it? How
          could anyone have such precise
          control of the systems - like
          turning off the supply to the
          outside of this flat but keeping it
          on in here. How could anyone do
          that?
 
                      DEREK
          Do we know that all the private
          places still have power? How about
          the other flats here? Maybe you're
          just lucky Frank. I don't remember
          seeing much in the way of lights on
          our way in.
 
                      FRANK
          You probably wouldn't - there
          aren't any windows onto the balcony
          - they're all at the side or the
          back.
 
                      ANGELA
          There's an apartment a few doors
          down that had power earlier - I saw
          a drone deliver something there -
          the door opened and there was light
          inside.
 
                      DEREK
          Did you see anybody?
 
                      ANGELA
          No - and I didn't see anyone at all
          on the way out or back up.
 
                      FRANK
          You don't often see anyone about
          here.
 
                      ANGELA
          I haven't seen anyone since I
          arrived here this afternoon.
 
                      DEREK
          It would be good to talk to some of
          the residents here - at least find
          out about the power situation.
 
                      FRANK
          It's a bit late to go knocking on
          doors. I don't know any of them
          really. Maybe tomorrow morning.
          Things may be back to normal by
          then.
 
                      DEREK
          I'd better get back to my little
          den.
 
                      FRANK
          You don't want to go out into all
          that - you haven't even dried out
          yet. There is room for everyone
          here. There's a spare mattress I
          can put on the floor in the bedroom
          and the couch converts. We could
          ask around in the morning if things
          are still bad.
 
Angela sees a little taken aback by this general offer. She
glances at Derek.
 
                      DEREK
          Thanks for the offer. I have
          programmed the bank to open around
          now so I can get back in. I'll just
          see if it's still raining, what it
          looks like out there if I may.
 
                      FRANK
          Sure. Suit yourself. I'll come out
          with you. I'm interested to see
          what's going on out there- maybe
          I'll see some of those drones
          keeping an eye on us.
 
Derek and Frank head for the door and Frank opens it. They
go out into the dark, laving the door open.
 
SC EXT NIGHT THE BALCONY/CORRIDOR OUTSIDE FRANK'S PLACE.
 
Frank and Derek walk together towards the parapet and look
out over the city. It is a wild night, heavy rain/sleet
driven by a strong wind even onto the balcony. The city has
even fewer lights than before. Angela comes up behind them
and joins them at the parapet. The light from inside Frank's
apartment is enough to show the rain falling and just make
out two drones hovering outside the entrance to the block.
 
                      ANGELA
          Look! Drones, two of them,
          hovering.
 
Frank and Derek stare into the darkness. The drones fly off
in different directions and immediately disappear.
 
                      DEREK
          See them, Frank?
 
                      FRANK
          OK OK I saw them. That's weird I
          agree - drones don't do that kind
          of thing.
 
The three of them go back into the apartment.
 
SC INT NIGHT FRANK'S APARTMENT
 
Frank hastily closes the door. There is some general wiping
of faces and hair, shivering, dripping and hand rubbing.
 
                      FRANK
          Unbelievable out there.
                (to Angela)
          I'll get another towel.
 
                      ANGELA
          Thanks. I think we could all do
          with one.
 
Frank fetches towels from the bathroom and hands them round.
 
                      DEREK
          So what about those drones now,
          Frank?
 
                      FRANK
          I don't like to admit it but they
          looked for all the world as if they
          were on watch.
 
                      ANGELA
          And they flew off as soon as they
          saw us.
 
                      FRANK
          If they can see, which I doubt very
          much.
 
                      DEREK
          Well - let's say became aware of
          us. Don't they have movement
          sensors?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes, I suppose they must. What are
          you going to do, Derek? It doesn't
          look too friendly out there.
 
                      DEREK
          I think I'll take you up on your
          kind offer. The bank won't miss me.
 
                      ANGELA
          Won't it be a problem it being open
          and unmanned?
 
                      DEREK
          I'll just be recorded as late or
          absent and it will close again. The
          bank will reopen at the next
          scheduled time. I'll be able to get
          in then.
 
                      FRANK
          Good. No point going out in that.
          I'll sort out the sleeping
          arrangements.
 
                      ANGELA
          Can I help?
 
                      FRANK
          Thanks. Give me a hand with the
          couch.
 
                      DEREK
          Anything I can do?
 
                      FRANK
          The spare mattress is under the bed
          in there. You could drag it out.
 
Frank points towards the bedroom. Derek goes into the
bedroom. Frank and Angela begin to convert the couch into a
bed. There is some accidental physical contact and they end
up close together. They don't move apart immediately. There
is some embarrassment from Frank but a smile from Angela.
Derek comes back and sees them together. They separate.
 
                      FRANK
          OK let's get some sleep. Maybe
          comms will be back in the morning.
 
SC. EXT DAY THE BALCONY/CORRIDOR OUTSIDE FRANK'S APARTMENT
NEXT MORNING
 
Frank and Derek are looking out over the city. The rain and
wind have stopped but there is still dark cloud cover Angela
is looking up and down the balcony counting the doors.
 
                      ANGELA
                (keeping count)
          7 to the right.
 
Frank turns towards Angela.
 
                      FRANK
          Still very, very quiet out there.
 
                      ANGELA
          And too quiet in here. And 5 to the
          left without us. That's 12 on this
          side.
 
                      FRANK
                (smiling)
          So why are you counting?
 
                      ANGELA
          Just to keep tabs on how many we've
          tried. So that's 12 with no answer
          so far. Where are they all?
 
Frank and Derek leave the parapet and join Angela.
 
                      FRANK
          I don't know how many are occupied
          even. I've seen people coming in
          and out of at least two of them
          quite recently. Some are definitely
          empty.
 
                      DEREK
          Some of them will be asleep with
          'do not disturb' on. Some probably
          got stuck somewhere, like you and
          me. Maybe some don't like the look
          of us.
 
                      FRANK
                (to Angela)
          Did you make a note of the ones
          with that oniony smell?
 
                      ANGELA
          Yup, put a cross - about 1 in three
          to four I think. That's all this
          level done
 
                      FRANK
          I think the lower floors are
          fuller. Let's go down.
 
                      DEREK
          Shall we split up - cover more
          ground?
 
                      ANGELA
          Let's stick together. Doing every
          third door is as efficient as any
          method and that way we'll all find
          out anything at the same time - if
          there is anything to find out.
 
                                             DISSOLVE TO:
 
Angela knocking on a door on a lower floor.
 
                      ANGELA
          Well, that's three buzzess and
          three knocks here - that's 18 doors
          so far.
 
Angela starts to move off but faint sounds can be heard
apparently from inside. The speaker comes alive and panting
can be heard.
 
                      ANGELA
          Frank, Derek, someone's here.
 
                      BOY'S VOICE O.S.
                (through intercom) Hello?
 
                      ANGELA
          Hi! Sorry to bother you. We wre
          wondering if you had any comms?
 
                      BOY'S VOICE O.S.
                (disturbed)
          I think there's something wrong
          with my mum and dad. Could you
          help?
 
Frank and Derek join Angela.
 
                      ANGELA
          Well we could try - if you let us
          in.
 
                      FRANK
          I live on the 9th floor - a
          neighbour.
 
The door is opened by a boy about 3 or 4 years old. He looks
frightened. He leads Angela into the flat. Frank and Derek
follow them in.
 
SC INT DAY LIVING ROOM IN THE BOY'S APARTMENT IN THE SAME
BLOCK
 
The mother and father of the boy are sitting in easy chairs.
The father has a VR set on but the mother has a set on her
lap with some of the electrodes twisted together. They
appear to be asleep.
 
                      BOY
          They've been asleep for ages. I
          can't make them wake up.
 
Angela goes to examine the mother. Derek and frank go the
father. Angela pick up the VR set from the mother's lap.
 
                      ANGELA
          Was your mum wearing this?
 
                      BOY
          Yes. I took it off her. I thought
          it might make her wake up.
 
The boy begins to cry quietly. Angela crouches down to the
boy's level, between him and his parents.
 
                      ANGELA
                (to the boy)
          I'm Angela. What's your name?
 
Frank makes as if to take off the father's VR set and looks
questioningly at Derek. Derek nods and Frank carefully
removes the set from the father's head. He doesn't stir.
Derek feels the father's pulse and places his palm against
his face.
 
                      BOY
                (through tears) Nick
 
                      ANGELA
          Let's go and dry the tears in the
          bathroom, shall we Nick?
 
Nick doesn't answer but he lets Angela lead him into the
bathroom. She closes the door.
 
                      DEREK
          Poor kid must be terrified. His
          dad's pulse seems extremely slow
          and his skin is very cold and
          clammy.
 
Frank crosses to the mother and carries out the same checks.
Frank looks at his watch as he takes the pulse.
 
                      FRANK
          I make that about 30 a minute. And
          her skin is unnaturally cold.
          What's happened to them?
 
                      DEREK
          I'll try the emergency services.
          Can't see that working though.
 
Derek uses his retinal implants to bring up a comms menu and
chooses Emergency Services. You are offline comes up
immediately.
 
                      DEREK
          No, nothing working. That's not
          supposed to be possible. It's a
          nightmare. Better power the sets
          down, I suppose
 
                      FRANK
          I'll turn this one off. 
 
Frank and Derek switch the sets off but they still have
various indicator lights glowing.
 
                      DEREK
          They get their power wirelessly of
          course; they are designed to hold a
          charge for quite a time - to avoid
          psychological shocks in case of
          power interruptions - but they're
          not supposed to stay active like
          that.
 
                      FRANK
          Should we try to wake them?
 
                      DEREK
          We don't know what's going on with
          them. If their son couldn't wake
          them I don't know what we could do.
 
FRANK looks at the two unconscious parents. He approaches
the father and takes one of his hands. He lifts his hand and
arm. He massages the hand gently, then more and more
vigorously.
 
                      FRANK
          Hello! Wake up! This is an
          emergency!
 
There is no response of any kind. Frank lowers the arm and
releases the hand. He raises his hand as if to slap the man
in the face. The bathroom door opens, Frank quickly lowers
his hand and Angela leads Nick out.
 
                      ANGELA
          Nick's mum and dad are obviously
          very tired. I think Nick should
          come back with us for a while to
          let them sleep. Ok with you, Frank?
 
Frank and Derek look at each other, trying to hide their
dismay.
 
                      FRANK
          Sure, if you would like to come,
          Nick. I have a game console you
          could use. Would you like that?
 
                      NICK
          I'm not allowed to talk to
          strangers.
 
                      FRANK
          I don't think neighbours count as
          strangers. We live just above you.
          We'll introduce ourselves so we
          won't be strangers. I'm Frank Khan
          from number 85.
 
Frank holds out his hand to Nick and waits expectantly. Nick
hesitates but takes his hand.
 
                      NICK
          My name is Nick Carter. I live at
          47 Lowood Tower, Alperton Rd.
 
Nick stops in confusion, looks on the verge of tears.
 
                      NICK
          I've forgotten the end bit.
 
                      FRANK
          That's ok - it's the same as ours.
          So now I am not a stranger, ok?
 
Nick hesitates, looks at his unconscious mother and father
and then nods.
 
                      FRANK
          OK I'll take you and Angela up to
          ours and find that console. Then
          maybe Derek and I can go and look
          for help.
 
They all leave, Frank leading, Angela holding Nick's hand
and Derek managing the door. Derek stays behind and does
something complicated with the door control panel just
inside the apartment and the closes the door.
 
SC INT DAY BACK IN FRANK'S APARTMENT.
 
Derek is standing alone in the apartment holding the VR set
that Frank had been using. Two indicator lights are glowing.
 
Angela and Frank come out of the bedroom, leaving the door
open behind them.
 
                      ANGELA
                (quietly)
          He's a big Dragonworld player
          luckily, poor mite, happy to lose
          himself in it.
 
                      FRANK
          I didn't know there were any kids
          in the block - it's not a family
          sort of place. Derek, what are you
          doing with that set?
 
                      DEREK
          I was wondering why it's still
          showing activity indicators after
          all this time.
 
Angela gestures to them to move further away from the
bedroom and puts a finger warningly to her lips.
 
                      FRANK
          (more quietly)Oh, yes, sorry.
          (Looking at the VR set) That is odd
          - like the ones downstairs.
 
                      DEREK
          Yup, exactly. I hope you don't mind
          me asking, but were you in virtual
          when we arrived last night?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes, I was actually.
 
                      DEREK
          We had quite a struggle attracting
          your attention. I hurt my fists on
          the door.
 
                      ANGELA
          It did take ages.
 
                      FRANK
          Are you suggesting the same thing
          was happening to me?
 
                      DEREK
          Do you think it was?
 
                      FRANK
          I do remember feeling very slow and
          confused - as if I was waking from
          a very heavy sleep.
 
                      DEREK
          Can you remember where you were,
          what you were doing - in virtual?
 
Frank looks embarrassed for a moment, then annoyed.
 
                      FRANK
          What's that got to do with
          anything?
 
                      DEREK
          I don't mean the content - I mean
          was it working normally, was it
          active?
 
                      FRANK
          Active?
 
                      DEREK
          Is there a gap in your memory of
          it? Was time passing normally? Was
          there any repetition?
 
                      FRANK
          It's hard to remember exactly. The
          early part of the session is clear
          - but after that, now I try to
          recall it, it's more dreamlike than
          usual, fuzzier - any details I can
          remember come from earlier. There's
          just a sense of the experience
          continuing happily.
 
                      DEREK
          I think it was lucky for you we
          interrupted when we did.
 
                      ANGELA
          Nick's parents were not so lucky.
          Is Dragon World safe for Nick?
 
                      FRANK
          It's self-contained VR for children
          - the set doesn't have any
          stand-alone connectivity.
 
                      ANGELA
          Stand-alone?
 
                      FRANK
          It can be connected to the
          apartment system - but it isn't.
 
                      ANGELA
          What are we going to do about
          Nick's parents?
 
                      FRANK
          Derek and I will go and look for
          help.
 
                      DEREK
          Local hospital, police, there must
          be someone around.
 
                      ANGELA
          I'll have to stay here with Nick. I
          don't think I'll pass the time in
          Virtual, though. That's the oddest
          thing of all.
 
                      DEREK
          What?
 
                      ANGELA
          That Virtual is working fine. No
          comms at all and everything
          shutting down but all that huge
          stream of VR data is getting
          through no problem.
 
                      DEREK
          Of course some of it may have been
          downloaded before.
 
                      FRANK
          True, but Angela's right. Most of
          it has to be a live stream needing
          big bandwidth. That's really weird.
 
                      DEREK
          You're right. Anyway we'd better go
          - I didn't like the state of those
          two downstairs. If their bodies get
          any slower or colder ....
 
                      FRANK
          Yes, we need to find a doctor or a
          hospital for them. We'll be needing
          food supplies too.
 
                      ANGELA
          If we had a car we could take them
          to a hospital.
 
                      DEREK
          It would be quite a job - two
          unconscious bodies that size and
          all those stairs. I do have a car
          but it's parked near my station
          outside town.
 
                      FRANK
          We'd better go. Will you be OK here
          Angela?
 
                      ANGELA
          I'll be fine but try to get some
          help. I'm worried about what'll
          happen when Nick wants to go back
          home.
 
                      FRANK
          We'll try. One of us can always
          come back to let you know what
          we're doing.
 
Frank and Derek leave the apartment. Angela goes back into
the bedroom.
 
end of episode 2
 
episode 3
 
SC. EXT DAY THE HIGH STREET.
 
There is an army jeep parked in the middle of the crossroads
and two soldiers standing by it, one with a rifle and the
other with a sub-machine gun. Derek and Frank appear round
the corner and stop and look at them. There is an occasional
car, but no buses. The traffic lights are not working.
 
                      FRANK
          I suppose we'd better ask them.
 
                      DEREK
          They ought to know what's going on
          at least.
 
Derek and Frank walk across the road to the jeep. The
soldiers watch them approach in a neutral manner.
 
                      FRANK
          Good morning. I wonder if you can
          help us. We found some neighbours
          of ours in a bad state but we have
          no transport. They need hospital or
          at least a doctor.
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          I'm afraid our orders are to remain
          here, sir, and make sure the area
          is secure.
 
                      DEREK
          You mean you have comms access?
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          Fraid not, sir. We have two way
          radio communication with our
          command post but that's all.
 
                      FRANK
          Do you know what's going on?
 
The soldiers look at one another. The second one shrugs and
looks up at the sky. A drone is hovering above them.
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          We were told there had been a cyber
          attack affecting a lot of stuff,
          but no more than that.
 
                      DEREK
          So what are you doing here?
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          Well a cyber attack could be a
          preliminary to other threats.
 
                      DEREK
          You mean like terrorists?
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          That's one possibility.
 
                      FRANK
          These neighbors of ours really need
          help. They're both in a sort of
          coma.
 
The two soldiers look as if comes as no surprise. They look
at each other again.
 
                      SECOND SOLDIER
          I don't think I'm breaking the
          official secrets act if I say that
          there are a lot of people in the
          same state. All we can do is direct
          you to the nearest hospital.
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          If you go down the High Street half
          a mile you'll see it signposted to
          the left. Don't get your hopes up
          though.
 
                      FRANK
          Can't they help?
 
                      SECOND SOLDIER
          Some of their staff have been
          affected too - and there are just
          too many people.
 
                      DEREK
          Is the army OK - I mean are any of
          your people in this weird coma
          thing?
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          Yeah, some. We are short handed in
          the unit - don't know when our
          relief is due.
 
                      FRANK
          There isn't much traffic.
 
                      SECOND SOLDIER
          We noticed - so far it's only one
          or two really old vehicles without
          the auto drive stuff.
 
                      DEREK
          Nothing seems to be open.
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          There's been no power for several
          days now. Places with intelligent
          doors are in security lockdown -
          nobody can get in.
 
                      SECOND SOLDIER
          And a lot of people are like your
          neighbours, we reckon. It's a
          massive breakdown. Sorry we can't
          be more positive.
 
                      FRANK
          Ok we'll try the hospital. Thanks.
 
                      FIRST SOLDIER
          Good luck!
 
The second soldier looks up at the sky. Two drones are now
hovering above them.
 
SC INT DAY AT THE HOSPITAL RECEPTION
 
The reception area is crowded with trolleys containing
unconscious patients. A man in a dressing-gown/robe is
manning the reception desk. There are no doctors or nurses
in the area. A tired woman is leading a small group of
children out of the hospital. Frank and Derek look around in
confusion and approach the desk, joining a small crowd
there.
 
                      DRESSING-GOWN MAN
                (raising his voice)
          As you can see, the hospital has
          nowhere to put anyone any more. The
          few ambulances running are queued
          up outside, full of patients. The
          doctors tell me they have no idea
          yet how to treat this - so all in
          all there is no point trying to
          bring anyone in this condition here
          at the moment.
 
A number of people try to speak to him at the same time and
they start shouting.
 
                      DRESSING-GOWN MAN
          I will try to deal with everyone
          going from my left to right. Please
          stop shouting. If you have a
          different medical emergency, one
          which the hospital can treat, you
          have priority. If you are just
          reporting cases of coma I will only
          take a note of names and addresses
          after dealing with other
          emergencies.
 
                      FRANK
                (to Derek quietly)
          This looks hopeless. What are we
          going to do?
 
                      DEREK
          We might as well ask him about the
          child.
 
                      FRANK
          What can he do?
 
                      DEREK
          He might have some advice. I wonder
          who he is - in his dressing-gown -
          a patient?
 
The dressing-gown man has got round to them.
 
                      DRESSING-GOWN MAN
          Coma?
 
Derek and Frank nod.
 
                      DRESSING-GOWN MAN
          How many, names and address, any
          medical complications.
 
Dressing-gown man is recording everything on a handheld
device.
 
                      FRANK
          Mr and Mrs Carter, apartment 47,
          Lowood Tower, Alperton Rd, SW14
          4JB.
 
DRESSING-GOWN MAN is moving on.
 
                      DEREK
          What are we to do with the their
          three year old boy?
 
DRESSING-GOWN MAN looks at them sharply.
 
                      DRESSING-GOWN MAN
          Look after him! If you can't do it,
          find someone who can. You're lucky
          you have only one.
 
DRESSING-GOWN MAN pauses and raises his voice.
 
                      DRESSING-GOWN MAN
          My advice to you all is to get
          together with your friends and
          neighbors to help each other and
          anyone who else who needs it. No
          one else is going to do it at the
          moment. There appear to be many
          young children in need of care.
 
There is a disturbed and angry reaction to this announcement
from the small crowd.
 
                      ANGRY MAN
          Can't you give us any medical
          advice - how to wake people up?
 
                      DRESSING-GOWN MAN
          Hospital staff are working hard to
          find effective treatment but in the
          meantime the only advice is to make
          sure those affected are safe and
          comfortable - and wait. Do not try
          to give them food or drink as they
          may choke and asphyxiate.
 
DRESSING-GOWN MAN moves on to next person. Derek and Frank
look at each other. Derek makes a head signal suggesting
they leave. Frank nods. They make their way through the
trolleys of unconscious people to the exit.
 
SCENE INT DAY FRANK'S FLAT
 
ANGELA and NICK come in from the bedroom.
 
                      ANGELA
          I think there are some biscuits
          somewhere. Do you like biscuits?
 
                      NICK
          Yes, most of them.
 
ANGELA goes to the fridge and pours a glass of milk. She
puts it on the table.
 
                      ANGELA
          Here's your milk. Come and sit
          down. I'll find those biscuits.
 
Nick sits down and drinks the milk. Angela finds some
biscuits and puts some on a plate.
 
                      ANGELA
          They're not very exciting. No
          chocolate or anything.
 
                      NICK
          I'm not allowed chocolate. It makes
          me hyper.
 
NICK eats some biscuits. ANGELA watches him with a smile.
 
                      NICK
          Do you think mummy and daddy are
          still asleep?
 
                      ANGELA
          I don't know. They were very tired,
          weren't they?
 
The flat door opens. Frank and Derek come in in coats,
looking cold and full of bad news. Angela gives them a
warning look, nodding towards Nick.
 
                      ANGELA
          Hi! Nick is just having a bit of a
          rest from battling Dragons while he
          refuels.
 
                      NICK
          The dragons are my friends. We
          fight together. Can I go back now?
 
                      ANGELA
          Back?
 
                      NICK
          I'm in the middle of a game.
 
                      ANGELA
          Of course. Have you had enough
          biscuits?
 
                      NICK
                (as he runs back into the
                 bedroom)
          Yes thanks.
 
                      FRANK
          He seems OK.
 
                      ANGELA
          He was just asking about his
          parents.
 
                      FRANK
          What did you say?
 
                      ANGELA
          Just that they seemed very tired.
          You couldn't find any help?
 
                      FRANK
          The hospital is affected too - and
          overwhelmed. We left their name and
          address.
 
                      ANGELA
          Wasn't there anyone else? Police?
          Passers-by? Helpful motorists.
 
                      DEREK
          There were two army blokes and a
          jeep in the High Street. They were
          under orders to stay there.
 
                      FRANK
          They were very depressing.
 
                      ANGELA
          Why? What did they say?
 
                      FRANK
          They'd been told it was a cyber
          attack but the coma thing's
          affected their own unit - and the
          hospital staff.
 
                      ANGELA
          So what are we going to do about
          Nick and his parents?
 
                      DEREK
          The only advice we got was from a
          bloke in a dressing-gown at the
          hospital - look after him ourselves
          and/or get together with friends
          and neighbours.
 
                      ANGELA
          Oh great! The poor boy can't go on
          playing DragonWorld forever - he's
          going to want to go home to his mum
          and dad. Can't we try to revive
          them?
 
                      DEREK
          We went in to them again before we
          came back. They're the same - or
          even deeper in, cold, pale,
          extremely slow but steady pulse,
          breathing almost imperceptible, not
          responding to anything. I wouldn't
          know how to set about reviving
          them.
 
                      FRANK
          And the advice was to wait for
          expert help. Touching them gave me
          the shivers.
 
                      DEREK
          Yes, and the bloke at the hospital
          said the doctors hadn't found a
          safe way to wake people.
 
                      ANGELA
          We must be able to do something.
 
                      FRANK
          We could try to find people not
          affected. That was dressing-gown
          man advice - get together with
          friends and neighbours.
 
                      ANGELA
          Not more door knocking! And what
          will we do with Nick?
 
                      DEREK
          Take him with us.
 
                      ANGELA
          I can't see him being very happy
          about meeting more strangers.
 
                      FRANK
          I'm sure you could persuade him
          Angela - or else Derek and I could
          leave the two of you here but
          anyway I think we need to do what
          dressing-gown man said - find other
          people, help each other.
 
                      DEREK
          If there is anyone around not
          hovering between life and death.
 
Nick opens the bedroom door. It isn't clear if he heard
Derek's last remark but he looks unsettled.
 
                      NICK
          I've reached level 3 Dragon Master.
          Could I have a biscuit?
 
                      ANGELA
          You certainly could but have a
          glass of milk with it, OK?
 
                      NICK
          OK.
 
Frank gets milk from fridge and hands it to Angela. She
pours a glass, puts two biscuits on a plate. She places it
all on the table.
 
                      ANGELA
          Here you are, Nick! Sit down at the
          table.
 
Nick sits and eats.
 
                      ANGELA
          Nick we're going to see if we can
          find anyone in the block who can
          help. Would you like to come with
          us or do you want to go back to
          Dragons
 
                      NICK
          I don't want to stay here on my
          own.
 
                      ANGELA
          No, of course not, I'd stay here if
          you wanted to play some more.
 
                      NICK
          I think I need a break. If don't
          want to go down to level 2 again.
 
                      ANGELA
          So you'll come with us?
 
                      NICK
          Where?
 
                      FRANK
          Just round the block - on the other
          floors - finding neighbours.
 
                      NICK
          Finding neighbours to help?
 
                      ANGELA
          Yes, that's right. Neighbours
          should help each other, If you've
          finished your milk we can all go
          together. Let's put coats on.
 
Angela goes to collect Nick's and her own coats.
 
SC INT DAY A DIFFERENT APARTMENT.
 
There is a large package attached to an inert drone on the
floor just inside the door. The apartment living-room beyond
the entrance way is quite dark and it is unoccupied.
 
                      FRANK O.S
          Hello? Anyone home?
 
Frank comes hesitantly in through the front door. He looks
at the broken drone in surprise. He sniffs and makes a face.
 
                      FRANK
          Hello? The door was unlocked - I'm
          a neighbour.
 
FRANK listens - there is no sound. he examines the drone
briefly.
 
                      FRANK
                (calling to Derek
                 outside)
          There's a damaged drone with a
          package here and that smell is very
          strong. No-one in the living room.
          I'm going to look in the bedroom.
 
                      DEREK O.S.
          Do you want me to come in?
 
                      FRANK
          No, stay there - we don't want them
          to think it's a burglary or an
          invasion.
 
Frank walks carefully across the living room, opens a door
at the far side and peers in. He gives a sharp intake of
breath and goes into the bedroom, leaving the door open.
After a a few seconds he comes out again, looking shocked.
 
                      DEREK O.S.
          Anyone there, Frank?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes but you might as well come in.
          Where are Angela and the boy?
 
                      DEREK O.S.
          They're round the other side. They
          should have several doors to go
          yet. Why?
 
Derek comes in. He stops and looks at the drone and sniffs.
 
                      DEREK
          I think that smell is coming from
          the drone.
 
                      FRANK
          They're dead, a couple lying in bed
          together. They must have died in
          their sleep - they still look
          asleep.
 
DEREK looks at Frank in shock. Derek goes quickly into the
bedroom. Frank stays in the living - room near the bedroom
door. Derek comes out again.
 
                      DEREK
          They're certainly dead - recently I
          think - I mean there's no smell.
 
                      FRANK
          What about rigor mortis?
 
                      DEREK
          You can touch them if you like.
 
                      FRANK
          I was just asking. I don't suppose
          when is that important.
 
                      DEREK
          We can't do anything about them.
          We'd better look at the drone.
 
Frank and Derek go to the entrance way. Frank squats down
and examines the drone. There is a broken rotor on the top.
Frank bends down further and sniffs the package.
 
                      FRANK
          You can see - it broke a rotor
          somehow. That smell is coming from
          the package though - sniff.
 
DEREK crouches down and sniffs the package.
 
                      DEREK
          Ugh, yes. Let's open it.
 
Frank and Derek work together to get the package open
quickly. There's a great deal of padding but nothing else
except a packing slip which Frank picks up.
 
                      FRANK
                (looking at packing slip)
          Just a long number. I think the
          smell is coming from all this
          packing and from the material of
          the container. It's giving me a
          headache.
 
                      DEREK
          And me.
                (sharply)
          Let's get out of here.
 
DEREK gets to his feet and pulls Frank up with him. They are
unsteady and stagger a bit.
 
                      ANGELA O.S.
          Hey Frank, Derek - are you two in
          there?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes, don't come in! We're on our
          way out.
 
Derek and Frank go out through the front door in a hurry.
 
SCENE EXT DAY BLOCK BALCONY/WALKWAY FLOOR 4
 
Angela is standing in front of the door to a flat, Nick
behind her. Frank and Derek come out of the door quickly but
clumsily. Derek collides with Angela, who stagger back on
top of Nick until Frank catches her. Angela gives Derek a
cold look and seems happy enough being supported by Frank.
Frank and Derek are gulping fresh air.
 
                      DEREK
          Sorry, Angela - clumsy.
 
                      ANGELA
          What's the matter with the two of
          you, rushing out like....
                (she hesitates, glancing
                 at Nick)
 
                      ANGELA
          Rhinoceroses?
 
Nick laughs. Derek and Frank are still taking in gulps of
fresh air.
 
                      FRANK
          Sorry. It was just that strange
          smell - it's stronger in there.
 
                      ANGELA
          What about the owners?
 
                      FRANK
          Nobody at home.
 
Frank is secretly and urgently mouthing something at Angela.
Angela looks alarmed but clearly can't understand..
 
                      NICK
          Did they forget to lock the door?
 
                      DEREK
          No Nick. I think a drone delivered
          something and then broke down in
          the doorway.
 
                      NICK
          My Dad says drones never break
          down. He says they're a marble of
          engineering.
 
                      ANGELA
          Marvel, I think you mean, Nick. But
          he's right - they are. I've never
          heard of one breaking down in
          someone's home before.
 
                      DEREK
          It must have happened from time to
          time - but I agree it's rare. This
          one had a broken rotor.
 
                      FRANK
          Nick, have you had enough door
          knocking for now? It's a bit boring
          when nobody answers.You could go
          back to DragonWorld.
 
                      NICK
          We heard people in number 46 -
          moving about - but they didn't open
          the door.
 
                      DEREK
          Is that right? Did you knock loud
          enough?
 
                      NICK
          We both shouted our loudest and
          Angela knocked with her shoe.
 
Derek and Frank look at Angela questioningly.
 
                      ANGELA
          Maybe they had headphones on.
 
                      DEREK
          No response at all?
 
Angela shakes her head.
 
                      ANGELA
          What do you say Nick? Back to
          DragonWorld, orange juice and
          biscuits or more door-knocking?
 
                      NICK
          Do you think I could start the next
          level now?
 
                      ANGELA
          Why not? Let's you and I go back
          up.
 
                      FRANK
          We'd better come with you, don't
          you think Derek?
 
Derek nods.
 
SC INT DAY FRANK'S LIVING-B ROOM
 
Frank and Derek are standing together near the door. Angela
comes in from the bedroom and closes the door behind her.
 
                      ANGELA
          So what's going on?
 
                      FRANK
          The couple in 48 were dead, lying
          in bed together. I couldn't see any
          sign of injury or illness.
 
                      DEREK
          And that smell comes from the
          package and the packing. Smelling
          it made us both pretty woozy -
          that's why we came out so fast.
 
                      ANGELA
          And nearly killed me and poor Nick.
 
                      FRANK
          What about number 46?
 
                      ANGELA
          That was weird. It sounded as if
          there were at least two people in
          there, marching manically up and
          down.
 
                      DEREK
          And they didn't respond at all?
 
                      ANGELA
          Never even paused. Just went on
          marching, one, two, one two, about
          turn.
 
                      FRANK
          Didn't that scare Nick?
 
                      ANGELA
          It scared me - Nick's beyond
          finding things strange I think.
 
                      DEREK
          So our search for help has achieved
          what? Apparently the residents of
          the block are either in a coma,
          dead or manically wearing out the
          carpet - all behind locked doors.
 
                      FRANK
          It's not quite that bad - some may
          be away and many of the apartments
          could be empty.
 
                      DEREK
          Not going to provide much help
          either way.
 
                      ANGELA
          But there is Nick don't forget - if
          he's unaffected there should be
          others.
 
                      FRANK
          So we go on looking?
 
                      DEREK
          I suppose so - but if we do find
          someone, how are they going to
          help? Raise the dead? Open a home
          for lost boys?
 
                      ANGELA
          They could take turns looking after
          Nick at least - I suppose I'd
          better stay here with him for now.
 
                      FRANK
          If we don't find anyone here we can
          search around. More than anything
          we need to get in touch with
          someone who knows what's going on,
          the police or someone in authority.
 
                      DEREK
          If there is anyone left. OK, let's
          have another go.
 
                      FRANK
                (to Angela)
          We won't be more than two or three
          hour, Angela. Is that OK?
 
                      ANGELA
          Nick and I will be fine.
 
Derek and Frank put on coats and leave.
 
SCENE INT NIGHT FRANK'S APARTMENT
 
It is the middle of the night. There is a single light from
the bathroom giving a dim light. Angela is asleep on the
couch. Nick is sleeping on an arrangement of sleeping bags
and pillows on the floor next to her. We can hear their
breathing.
 
After a while there is a slight click and the front door
silently opens. There is a faint whirr as a drone flies in
with a package attached. It deposits the package on the
floor with a small bump, which makes Nick stir in his sleep,
and it fliesout . The door closes again with the same click.
 
The only sound is the breathing of Nick and Angela. The
packet sits near the door. Fade-outs and Fade-ins suggest
time going by. At one point Nick becomes restless turns
over, opens his eyes but goes back to sleep.
 
Later. The bedroom door opens and Derek comes out and goes
quietly to the bathroom. He doesn't see the package. He
returns and closes the door quietly behind him but trips on
something inside, swears before apparently going back to
bed.
 
This disturbance has woken Nick, who slowly sits up and sees
the package. Thrilled, he gets up and goes to examine it.
this wakes Angela. She sits up and sees Nick near the door.
 
                      ANGELA
          What's the matter, Nick? Can't you
          sleep?
 
                      NICK
          There's a package on the floor. It
          looks interesting.
 
                      ANGELA
          What?
 
                      NICK
          It wasn't there before!
 
Angela gets up in a hurry and joins Nick by the package.
 
                      NICK
          It smells bad, like onions.
 
                      ANGELA
          It's not a very nice package I'm
          afraid. It smells so bad I'm going
          to put it outside. You go back to
          bed, Nick.
 
                      NICK
                (reluctantly heading back
                 towards bed)
          Can't we open it?
 
Angela picks up the package in her arms, manages to open the
door, which has been relocked, and takes it outside.
 
                      ANGELA
                (coming back in)
          I don't think we should. We can
          decide in the morning, Nick. Get
          some sleep.
 
Angela closes the door carefully and makes sure it is locked
again. She goes back towards Nick's and her bed.
 
                      ANGELA
                (giving Nick a goodnight
                 kiss)
          Good Night again Nick. Sweet
          dreams.
 
Nick turns over to go to sleep. Angela sits down on her bed
and puts her head in her hands.
 
After a while Angela sits up, bends over Nick, making sure
he is asleep. She gets up, tiptoes to the bedroom door,
opens it.
 
                      ANGELA
                (quietly)
          Frank! Derek! Can I come in? A
          drone delivered a package. That
          smell!
 
                      FRANK O.S.
          What? Where?
 
                      ANGELA
          Shhh!
 
                      FRANK O.S.
          Come in!
 
Angela goes into the bedrom ans coed the door.
 
SCENE INT DAY FRANK'S APARTMENT
 
Angela is standing over Nick at the table, helping him draw
a picture. The front door buzzer goes. Angela goes to the
wall panel expecting to see Derek and/or Frank. The screen
shows a small old woman wearing a hat.
 
                      WOMAN IN HAT
          Hello? Is anybody there?
 
                      ANGELA
          Hello?
 
                      WOMAN IN HAT
          Oh hello! I'm so glad to find
          someone. May I come in? I live on
          the 10th floor. My name is Marjorie
          Banks.
 
                      ANGELA
          It's not my flat actually but never
          mind. Come in, please.
 
Angela opens the door, letting the woman in. She is a
vigorous old woman in conservative clothes with a floral
hat. She is talking as she comes in.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Oh thank goodness! I was beginning
          to think there was nobody in the
          whole block. I've worked my way
          down, knocking on every door.
 
                      ANGELA
          Hi, I'm Angela and this is Nick,
          who lives downstairs at number 47.
          He's staying here.
 
Angela makes a warning face at Marjorie, who acknowledges it
immediately and turns to Nick.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Which dragon are you drawing Nick?
 
                      NICK
          Alghonkera
 
                      MARJORIE
          Isn't he the one who protects the
          magic mountain?
 
                      NICK
          Yes, he is. He isn't evil but he's
          very fierce.
 
                      MARJORIE
          He looks it.
 
                      ANGELA
          Nick, could you finish your picture
          in the bedroom while I get Marjorie
          a cup of tea? I'll help you move
          it?
 
                      NICK
          OK
 
Angela and Nick gather up paper, pens etc. and take it into
the bedroom. Marjorie walks over to the shelf where the VR
set is an examines the set. Angela comes back, closing the
bedroom door.
 
                      ANGELA
          So why were you so desperate to
          find someone in the block?
 
                      MARJORIE
          I am trying to work out what's
          going on. I have no comms, not even
          emergency services, my companion
          hasn't turned up. I walked to the
          High Street- there was no traffic, 
          nobody about, traffic lights not
          working, everything closed, an army
          jeep abandoned at the crossroads.
 
                      ANGELA
          It's been like that since Tuesday
          I'm afraid.
 
                      MARJORIE
          What do you mean?
 
                      ANGELA
          There's a power out in public
          places and a complete comms
          blackout.
 
                      MARJORIE
          No, I've noticed all that. You said
          'since Tuesday'? - today is
          Tuesday.
 
                      ANGELA
                (gently)
          No, Wednesday, I'm pretty sure. Not
          sure of much at the moment but I do
          know Tuesday was yesterday.
 
                      MARJORIE
          If you're really that sure then
          that means I must have slept for
          more than - er - 30 hours. I went
          to bed around 11.30 on Monday. I
          can't believe I could have done
          that. I may be old but I'm not
          either ill or gaga.
 
                      ANGELA
                (quietly)
          I think you should know - Nick's
          parents are two floors down in a
          coma.
 
                      MARJORIE
          What? How?
 
                      ANGELA
          It's happened to people all over.
          It seems to be something to do with
          VR - Nick's mum and dad were still
          plugged in to their sets when we
          found them.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Bugger me!! I was only testing out
          a prototype set on Monday evening -
          perk of the job. I must have fallen
          asleep wearing it, very unusual,
          but it had lost all connectivity
          when I woke up in the chair this
          morning. Can I really have slept in
          that chair for 30 hours - it would
          explain why I was so stiff.
 
                      ANGELA
          I think you were lucky that set
          stopped working. Are you feeling
          ok?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Fine. Exceptionally well rested! So
          tell me about this VR coma thing.
          How many people are affected?
 
                      ANGELA
          We don't know. The problem is
          without any comms at all, with no
          net feeding internal or external
          screens, there's no information.
          The local hospital is overwhelmed
          though.
 
                      MARJORIE
          How do you know?
 
                      ANGELA
          The boys went down there.
 
                      MARJORIE
          The boys?
 
                      ANGELA
          Oh sorry - the owner of the flat
          and a friend of his. As I said, I'm
          just staying here.
                (Angela blushes)
          They're out trying to find out
          more.
 
                      MARJORIE
          So I've woken up in an end of the
          world scenario - no comms, no
          public power - how is that even
          possible? - and there's a mass coma
          epidemic.
 
                      ANGELA
          I'm afraid that's not all. If a
          drone delivers a package to you get
          rid of it immediately!
 
                      MARJORIE
          What? Why?
 
                      ANGELA
          The boys came across an apartment
          door left open because a drone had
          broken down after delivering a
          package. The couple in the bedroom
          had died in their sleep. The
          package had a very strange smell.
          It made the boys dizzy and sick -
          they nearly knocked us down rushing
          out.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Jesus! Did they examine it?
 
                      ANGELA
          It was empty - just packaging and a
          delivery slip.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Just the one apartment though.
 
                      ANGELA
          Well, yes, but we noticed the sweet
          oniony smell outside quite a few -
          nearly a third by my count.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Not good! Anything else I should
          know about this brave new world or
          is that it?
 
                      ANGELA
          Well, the drones have been weird.
 
                      MARJORIE
          You mean apart from delivering
          lethal packaging?
 
                      ANGELA
          I think they're watching us.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Really?
 
                      ANGELA
          A lot of hovering and flying around
          near us - all without packets.
          There were two that looked as if
          they were waiting for us to go
          inside when I arrived - almost
          shepherding us.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Great Adaptive Appetitive
          Algorithms! I never imagined
          anything like this.
 
Angela looks at Marjorie in astonishment. She is about to
ask a question when the door opens and Frank walks in. He
stops and looks enquiringly at Marjorie and Angela
 
                      ANGELA
          Frank, this is Marjorie from
          upstairs. Where's Derek?
 
                      FRANK
          He's helping out at the hospital,
          driving an army lorry around
          picking up victims. He'll probably
          come for Nick's parents as he knows
          where they are. Nick OK?
 
                      ANGELA
          Fine. Drawing a dragon - Algon
          something
 
                      MARJORIE
          Alghonkera
 
                      ANGELA
          You've got it. Any more news?
 
                      FRANK
          The police station is closed. The
          soldiers have been told nothing new
          and are waiting for overdue relief.
          The hospital says it is operating
          on emergency generator power and
          has no comms except a direct line
          link to its trust head office, but
          only two junior staff are there.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Any drone activity?
 
                      FRANK
          Yes, one hovering high up over the
          crossroads and I think I noticed
          several more in the distance. So
          you know about the drones?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Only what Angela has just told me
          -but I don't think this is a cyber
          attack - at least not in the normal
          sense.
 
                      ANGELA
          You know something about all this,
          don't you! There was that weird
          thing you said just now - something
          about appetite rhythms?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Appetitive algorithms - just an AI
          buzzword. I have a theory - a very
          wild and scary one. I should
          explain that I worked on the
          intelligent distribution systems
          before I retired. I helped to write
          some of the early code.
 
                      FRANK
          What do they do?
 
                      MARJORIE
          They predict demand and adjust
          supply - power, comms bandwidth,
          drone availability - whatever. They
          are learning systems that acquire
          data, including user data, patterns
          of human behaviour, to help in
          their predictions of demand.
 
                      FRANK
          That doesn't sound too dangerous.
 
                      MARJORIE
          No, though they are allowed to cut
          off supply as an emergency measure
          to prevent total system collapse.
 
                      ANGELA
          So what's your theory?
 
                      MARJORIE
          When I retired we were working on
          algorithms for the systems to
          predict causes of their own
          breakdown or failure and take all
          steps necessary to avoid it. I was
          worried about it.
 
                      FRANK
          Why?
 
                      MARJORIE
          I felt it was equivalent to
          incorporating instinctive drives
          into control systems that already
          resembled AIs. These systems learn
          from experience. Add to that
          imperatives for survival and
          avoidance of threats to the supply
          system and how can you anticipate
          their behaviour?
 
                      ANGELA
          So how does that explain anything?
 
                      MARJORIE
          What causes the supply system to be
          stressed or to fail?
 
                      FRANK
          Increased demand?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Correct! Demand by whom?
 
                      ANGELA
          Us. People.
 
                      MARJORIE
          So what better way of avoiding
          supply system failure than managing
          the source of demand, i.e. people?
          Cut down on human activity, on
          human population even, and you keep
          the system safe.
 
                      FRANK
          Jesus. You mean they're trying to
          kill us.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Only as a means to an end.
          Everything that's been happening
          cuts down demand - cutting power to
          public places, so shepherding the
          population into their homes, where
          they are quietly inducing
          inactivity, coma or death where
          possible, no demand there.
 
                      ANGELA
          But that's insane. They'll reduce
          demand to zero and have no reason
          to exist.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Totally insane by human standards
          but there's no reason why a
          collection of self-regulating
          algorithms should be sane.
 
                      FRANK
          But what could have suddenly made
          them behave in this way? They must
          have been working OK until three or
          four days ago.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Some perceived threat to the system
          I imagine. Possibly the very severe
          weather increased demand to levels
          that that the system couldn't cope
          with.
 
                      ANGELA
          There have been endless warnings
          about supply shortages and power
          outages for years. The government
          has done nothing much about it.
 
                      FRANK
          What can we do?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Turn them off.
 
                      FRANK
          Easy as that!
 
                      MARJORIE
          Not so easy. We need to find where
          they are hosted, where the physical
          servers are. I can't help thinking
          that self-preserving systems will
          have taken steps to protect
          themselves.
 
                      ANGELA
          How?
 
                      MARJORIE
          By distribution and concealment I
          imagine. They have access to the
          net and apparently complete control
          of it. They could be hosted
          anywhere by now.
 
                      ANGELA
          There has to be a physical link
          between these distribution systems
          and the generators?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Actually there is both a direct
          cable and a wireless link between
          them and the generator control
          panels, even in the oldest
          stations. We'd have to turn off
          both links in each power station
          and take control manually. That
          would take a very long time.
 
                      FRANK
          We need control of the net.
 
                      MARJORIE
          That's right. We need access and a
          team of hackers to track down and
          disable the servers.
 
                      FRANK
          How have they managed to shut down
          all comms but leave the VR streams
          running?
 
                      MARJORIE
          The net is in the process of
          changing from host-based routing to
          information-centric networking. VR
          moved straight over to the new
          system -ou t of necessity -but
          other services are still mostly
          carried on the legacy systems.
 
                      ANGELA
          I don't think I understand any of
          that. What are we going to do?
 
                      MARJORIE
          We might be able to use the VR
          network to trace them. They are
          clearly using it as a weapon,
          altering content in some
          extraordinary way. How they do that
          I cannot imagine! I have some stuff
          at my place we could use - though
          I'd need a connection to a standard
          VR set, which I see you have.
 
Marjorie glances over at the shelf where Frank's VR set is
lying.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Could I borrow the set? It would be
          easier than bringing my equipment
          down.
 
                      FRANK
          Of course.
 
                      ANGELA
          But isn't using the set dangerous?
 
                      MARJORIE
          It obviously is, but I need the VR
          stream to be active with normal
          feedback from human implants if I
          am to sneak in with my trace
          equipment. Do't worry - I will
          monitor whoever goes into the
          stream to make sure they don't slip
          into coma.
 
                      ANGELA
          Oh so it won't be you using the
          set?
 
                      MARJORIE
          No. I wish I could trace the stream
          while in it just using my implants
          but the feedback would be obviously
          wrong and quickly noticed. I need a
          volunteer.
 
Angela and Frank look at each other.
 
                      FRANK
          Angela has to stay here for Nick. I
          can do it.
 
                      ANGELA
          He gets on OK with you, Frank.
          He'll be fine without me. I think
          it's tine I did something more than
          look after Nick.
                (to Marjorie)
          Is that OK?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Absolutely fine.
 
                      FRANK
          Hey, hold on. This could be really
          dangerous.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Not very - I'll make sure she
          doesn't drift off.
 
                      ANGELA
          Frank, it's ok. I have to do
          something positive. I'll let him
          know we're going and you're
          staying, ok?
 
                      FRANK
                (to Marjorie)
          Are you sure you can keep her safe?
 
                      MARJORIE
          It's just a case of preventing her
          drifting off - won't be a problem.
          Anyway we have to try this.
 
                      ANGELA
          Exactly - we have to do something.
          And I think it will help that I
          really dislike Virtual.
 
                      FRANK
          Maybe. Let's hope. OK, then, I'll
          come into Nick with you.
                (to Marjorie)
          Help yourself to the set, over
          there - on the shelf.
 
                      ANGELA
          I'll be back out in a moment and we
          can go straight up.
 
As Angela , and Frank head for the bedroom Frank puts his
hand on Angela's shoulder. She stops.
 
                      FRANK
          Be careful, Angela, please.
 
                      ANGELA
          Don't worry. Marjorie won't let me
          get too deep.
 
Frank and Angela go into the bedroom. MARJORIE picks up the
VR set and heads for the door, where she waits for Angela.
 
SCENE INT DAY MARJORIE'S FLAT.
 
Marjorie's flat is similar in layout to Frank's but it has a
great deal more in it. There is a rich and exotic decor but
this is largely hidden by the very large amount of
electronic equipment everywhere.
 
Angela is sitting in a simple, upright chair wearing the VR
set but there are extra leads from her head to a complicated
array of interconnected equipment and more leads from there
to a heath-robinson looking headset Marjorie is wearing.
Throughout the next conversation Marjorie is altering
connections, focusing on internal readouts and keeping an
eye on Angelafrom time to time.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Look around you! Tell me what you
          are experiencing. Keep talking to
          me!
 
                      ANGELA
          I'm at a very grand dance -
          glamorous but sort of warm and
          dreamy.
 
                      MARJORIE
          What kind of music?
 
                      ANGELA
          It's very flowing, a dreamy rhythm.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Of course it's 'dreamy'. Be more
          specific - stay awake! Is it a live
          orchestra? Can you recognise any
          instruments playing? What about the
          tune?
 
As Angela speaks the scene around her fades and is replaced
by what she is trying to describe - a huge,grand, dimly lit
ballroom, pillars receding into the distance, fuzzy
impressions of other couples whirling around. Angela is
being whirled about by an elegant, tall partner in a dinner
jacket. His face is never clear, just hints of refined good
looks. The music is waltz-like, a heavy slow rhythm,
hypnotic, disturbing. The whole scene is soft focus,
indistinct, dreamlike.
 
                      ANGELA
                (Her voice becoming
                 increasingly soft and
                 slurred)
          I recognise it but I can't remember
          the name. I've known it for ages,
          it keeps repeating over and over,
          and we keep twirling round and
          round to it, round and round, it's
          lovely, round and round we go, the
          two of us.
 
                      MARJORIE O.S.
                (sharply)
          We? Who are you dancing with? Who
          is he? Describe him.
 
                      ANGELA
          What? Oh - tall, very good dancer.
 
                      MARJORIE
          How tall? Eye colour? Hair?
 
                      ANGELA
          I can't seem to focus, he's turning
          around me, turning me around him,
          never still, never facing me -
          we're turning all the time, we're
          going round and round, I feel a bit
          dizzy but I'm so happy.
 
                      MARJORIE
          I've traced 14 ip hops but there
          are more to go. Keep dancing and
          keep talking to me. How big is the
          room?
 
Angela doesn't reply.
 
                      MARJORIE
                (sharply)
          How big is the room?
 
                      ANGELA
          Big, so big - columns stretching
          into the distance, fading away into
          the darkness, in every direction, I
          can see them as we turn and turn,
          turn and turn, turn at turn....
 
The ballroom scene fades and is replaced by actual scene of
Angela in the chair and Marjorie working on tracing the VR
inal. Angela has gone physically slack, her arms and head
have dropped. Marjorie is preoccupied, working feverishly,
not noticing.
 
                      MARJORIE
                (muttering)
          Can this be the origin? Only 15
          redirections? Doesn'to go anywhere
          else.
 
Marjorie turns to Angela.
 
                      MARJORIE
                (excited)
          OK I think I've got the first
          one...
 
MARJORIE breaks off, seeing Angela apparently asleep.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Angela, wake up! I think I've
          traced the primary address,or one
          of them.
 
ANGELA doesn't respond. Marjorie gets up, trailing wires,
and rips the VR set off Angela's head. Angela's head flops
back and forth unresisiting.
 
                      MARJORIE
                (shouting)
          Wake up Angela! Wake up!
 
ANGELA makes no response.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Fuck me, that was unbelievably
          fast!
 
MARJORIE pinches Angela hard on the wrist, no resonse, slaps
Angela harder in the face -she doesn't respond. Marjorie
pinches Angela's nose closed with one hand and places the
other firmly over her mouth. She waits.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Forgive me! Kill or cure.
 
After a considerble time Angela begins to move, twisting her
head and body in the chair, fighting for air. Marjorie takes
her hands away and Angela takes a first great rasping
breath, then a series of rapids, panicky breaths, then
shrieks and starts to shake violently.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Thank the Lord! I was afraid I was
          going to have to live with letting
          you into slip into a coma and then
          asphyxiating you.
 
                      ANGELA
                (spluttering and faintly)
          I must have drifted off.
 
Marjorie begins disconnecting herself and removing her
makeshift headset.
 
                      MARJORIE
          More plunged into the depths. From
          dreamy prattle to coma in a few
          seconds. Unbelievable! I'm hoping
          you'll forgive me letting you slide
          into what could easily have been
          final oblivion when I tell you I
          may have traced one server.
 
                      ANGELA
          That's good news isn't it?.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Yes but they'll have lots of
          servers - we need to know the
          location of as many as we can. If
          whoever's connected starts going
          into permanent coma before I've
          traced even one it'll take forever
          - and they'll probably switch.
 
                      ANGELA
          I'm sorry - I might be better next
          time but I'm not sure I'm up for it
          just yet.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Doesn't have to be you next - and
          we'll have to manage better
          safeguards. Probably safer with at
          least three people but it'll be
          very slow. Are you feeling OK?
 
ANGELA gets up slowly and takes a deep breath or two.
 
                      ANGELA
          I'm fine. No ill effects.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Then let's go down and report to
          Frank and Nick, have a cup of tea
          and do some planning.
 
Marjorie leads the way out of the apartment.
 
SCENE EXT DAY HOSPITAL EMERGENCY AMBULANCE PARK
 
Derek and another man (Ralph) emerge from behind an army
lorry, carrying a stretcher with an inert body on it. They
head for the doors of the Hospital Emergency department
ahead of them. A nurse opens the doors for them as they
approach.
 
                      NURSE
          How many more?
 
                      DEREK
          Three - not including this one.
 
                      NURSE
          You'll have to put them on the
          floor along the first floor
          corridor between Waverly and
          Richmond wards.
 
We follow Derek and Ralph into the hospital emergency
department. Bodies are stacked everywhere, a few on trolleys
but most on the floor, on stretchers or just on coats or
cushions or nothing. A doctor is setting up an intravenous
drip apparatus for a very young coma patient.
 
                      DOCTOR
          How many?
 
                      DEREK
          Another 4
 
                      DOCTOR
          Christ! We can't even keep the ones
          we've got hydrated - haven't got
          the equipment - they're dying.
          We're turning into a giant morgue.
          Where are you taking them?
 
                      RALPH
          Corridor up between Waverly and
          Richmond. Is it really that bad?
 
                      DOCTOR
          Well, they do have extremely low
          metabolic rates so they die slowly
          - and we are managing to squeeze
          some fluid into many of them
          somehow - but we still haven't
          found a way of bringing the deeper
          sleepers out of it safely. I don't
          fancy your new arrivals chances. 
          Christ! We can't even keep the ones
          we've got hydrated - haven't got
          the equipment - they're dying.
          We're turning into a giant morgue.
          Where are you taking them?
 
Ralph and Derek look at each other, raise their eyebrows and
we follow them as they carry the stretcher into a lift. They
manoeuvre the stretcher inside and close the doors.
 
                      RALPH
          He didn't seem too happy.
 
                      DEREK
          They've lost many of them I think -
          some in the attempt to wake them
          and more just drifting down from
          coma to death..
 
                      RALPH
          What did he mean by deeper
          sleepers?
 
Derek presses the lift button to the first floor.
 
                      DEREK
          It seems the longer they are under
          before they are found, the deeper
          the coma and the more dangerous it
          is to try to revive them. Some of
          the younger ones are different
          though; they've been successful
          with quite a few.
 
                      RALPH
          When did they run out of beds - and
          trolleys?
 
                      DEREK
          Ages ago.
 
They arrive at the first flooor, carry the coma victims
along the corridor and stop between the wards.
 
                      DEREK
          Here's as good as anywhere I
          suppose.
 
They lower the stretcher carefully onto the floor. We can
see the pale, slack face of the coma victim.
 
                      DEREK
          After we've brought the others up,
          the evening group starts their
          rota. Rest time.
 
                      RALPH
          I could do with it. What are you
          going to do?
 
                      DEREK
          Well I'm not going to spend it in
          my bank cubby hole, that's for
          sure. I'll go round to those
          friends I mentioned. Don't suppose
          you want to go back to an empty
          flat in an empty block either, do
          you? Want to come along?
 
                      RALPH
          Would that be OK?
 
                      DEREK
          Sure. They'll be only too happy to
          see someone else surviving. We'll
          bring some food and stuff.OK?
 
                      RALPH
          Yes. Thanks.
 
They head back towards the lift.
 
SC. FRANK'S FLAT. INT. NIGHT
 
The door buzzer sounds. Frank comes out of the bedroom and
looks at the door monitor.
 
                      FRANK
          Oh Hi. Glad you're back.
 
FRANK opens the door and Angela and Marjorie come in, Angela
rather pale and shaky, carrying the VR headset. She puts it
on the table.
 
                      FRANK
          I'm a bit worried about Nick. I
          think DragonWorld is wearing a bit
          thin; he asked when he would be
          going home.
                (Frank notices Angela's
                 appearance)
          Oh, how did you get on?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Well I think I've back-traced one
          server - at the cost of almost
          losing Angela.
 
                      FRANK
          My God, what happened?
 
                      MARJORIE
          I took my eyes off her for too long
          - overexcited by finding the last
          hop - she had gone under, induced
          coma.
 
                      FRANK
          You were actually unconscious? - in
          a coma? - a coma like all the
          others?
 
                      ANGELA
          Well, I was only unconscious for a
          few seconds-
                (to Marjorie)
          wasn't I?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Only three or four - I hope.
 
                      FRANK
          How did you get her out of it?
 
                      MARJORIE
          I first tried pinching her and then
          slapping, no effect at all, so I
          cut off her oxygen.
 
                      FRANK
          How?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Nose pinched shut, hand firmly over
          mouth - waited for you to fight for
          breath.
 
                      FRANK
          Jesus!
 
                      ANGELA
          My nose is still a bit sore and
          it's one of my nightmares, not
          being able to breathe.
 
                      MARJORIE
          I'm sorry - but it worked.
 
                      FRANK
                (to Angela)
          Are you OK? You look shaken up. Sit
          down. Would you like a cup of tea?
 
                      MARJORIE
          For heaven's sake, give her a hug
          and break out the spirits. We could
          all do with a drink and we do have
          the beginning of a fightback
          strategy - worth celebrating
          perhaps.
 
FRANK goes to Angela and puts his arm rather tentatively
round her shoulders. She turns towards him and buries her
head in his chest, trembling and possibly tearful. Frank is
visibly startled and upset and stands there rather frozen.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Where's the gin, Frank?
 
                      FRANK
          Oh, sorry. I'll get it.
 
FRANK and Angela separate a little reluctantly. Frank goes
to the kitchen and Angela takes a deep, shaky breath and
goes to sit down at the table.
 
                      ANGELA
          I'm OK. I just feel a bit shivery.
 
MARJORIE sits down next to her.
 
                      MARJORIE
          I don't know what it does to the
          central nervous system but nothing
          at all good. You're in some kind of
          shock - something just tried to
          shut you down, put you on permanent
          standby - take the recovery slowly
          and steadily.
 
                      FRANK O.S.
          Are you sure you wouldn't rather
          have tea? Isn't it supposed to be
          best for shock?
 
                      MARJORIE
          I'm not in shock and anyway that's
          an old wives' tale, put about
          because it's cheaper. Bring some
          fucking booze!
 
                      FRANK O.S.
          I've got Scotch or Vodka?
 
                      ANGELA
          I don't like Scotch much. Have you
          got any mixers?
 
                      FRANK
          Let's see. Lemonade? Orange squash?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Something with sugar in for Angela.
          I'll have Scotch - neat - please.
 
                      FRANK O.S.
          OK
 
FRANK comes in carrying 2 glasses. He puts them down on the
table.
 
                      FRANK
          Vodka and orange for Angela.
          Straight Scotch for Marjorie.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Nothing for you, Frank?
 
                      FRANK
          Don't want to breathe alcohol fumes
          all over young Nick.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Very worthy.
 
                      FRANK
          Actually I'll just go and check on
          him.
 
Frank goes into the bedroom.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Drink! Sip it, wait for it to do
          its job and then sip again! Hearty
          sips - if you'll pardon the
          oxymoron.
 
Angela sips her drink. Marjorie drinks. Frank returns from
the bedroom
 
                      FRANK
          He's ok for now actually - about to
          crack a level. So Marjorie what
          does it mean, what you've found?
 
                      MARJORIE
          That we have one target out of an
          unknown number.
 
                      FRANK
          So do we attack it?
 
                      MARJORIE
          No, not yet. We need to wait until
          we can attack many, preferably
          most, of the host servers -
          otherwise we'll just alert them to
          the danger and they'll move from
          the one attacked anyway.
 
                      ANGELA
          Could they find us?
 
                      MARJORIE
          If I can trace them then they can
          certainly trace me. They exist in
          the medium; we just invented it.
 
                      ANGELA
          What could they do?
 
                      FRANK
          Cut off our power?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Quite right Frank. Easy, quick and
          effective.
 
                      ANGELA
          What could we do? Move?
 
                      FRANK
          Must be plenty of places not being
          used.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Yes we would have to go on the
          road. Ideally we'd need an
          independent power source - a
          generator- and mobilise some of my
          equipment.
 
The door buzzer sounds. Frank goes to the scanner.
 
                      FRANK
          It's Derek and someone younger I
          don't know.
 
                      DEREK O.S.
          Hi. This is Ralph. We brought food
          and drink.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Let them in!
 
Derek opens the door. Derek and Ralph come in carrying bags
of shopping. There is much welcoming and deliberate
including of Ralph, who is shy. Ralph does a double take
when he sees Angela but does his best to hide it.
 
                      ANGELA
          How are things out there?
 
                      DEREK
          Not now, please! We'll tell you
          later. I see you're all drinking
          already. May we join you?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Bad as that,is it? OK what have you
          brought?
 
                      DEREK
          Mainly tins, drink and chocolate.
          Most of the fresh and frozen stuff
          has gone off.
 
                      RALPH
          We brought some frozen that's seems
          OK - needs using very soon though.
 
                      ANGELA
          OK - let's get it all in the
          kitchen and plan a meal.
 
                      DEREK
          And pour some drinks.
 
                      ANGELA
          I hope there's something suitable
          for Nick - he ought to have a break
          from DragonWorld.
 
                      RALPH
          Who's Nick?
 
                      DEREK
          An 8 year old we picked up.
 
                      RALPH
          Well, there's pizza.
 
                      ANGELA
          He ought to like that. I'll go and
          tell him - see if he'll take a
          break.
 
Angela goes into the bedroom.
 
                      RALPH
                (very quietly)
          Angela - it's weird but I'm sure
          I've seen her before. I know her.
 
                      FRANK
                (very quietly)
          She did VR for Mutual and various
          other companies. She's very
          sensitive about it.
 
                      RALPH
          Oh, OK. Sorry.
 
Angela and Nick come back in together.
 
                      ANGELA
          Where's that pizza? Nick likes the
          sound of that. You'll help us get
          the meal ready, won't you, Nick?
 
                      NICK
          OK
 
Montage of domestic activity. Helping to clear the table
Nick picks up the VR set, looks at it curiously and moves it
onto a shelf or bookcase next to the bedroom door.
 
LATER
 
Everyone is seated at the crowded table, the meal over.
 
                      NICK
          May I leave the table?
 
                      ANGELA
          Of course, Nick. Have you had
          enough?
 
                      NICK
          The pizza's finished.
 
                      ANGELA
          There are more chips and things.
 
                      NICK
          No, I'm full thank you.
 
                      ANGELA
          Off you go,then.
 
Nick hurries back to the bedroom. He sees the VR set,
hesitates and then picks it up, unnoticed.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Time to talk. What news?
 
                      DEREK
          The body count is appalling.
 
                      FRANK
          But they're not dead, are they?
 
                      DEREK
          The doctors are saying that many of
          them are as good as. They can't
          wake them without killing them.
 
                      ANGELA
          Nick's parents?
 
                      DEREK
          Still in the coma as far as I know.
          At least they're in a ward bed as
          they were one of the first. What
          have you been up to?
 
                      FRANK
          Marjorie has managed to trace the
          address of one of the servers but
          Angela nearly went into coma in the
          process.
 
                      DEREK
          Jesus! How did that happen?
 
                      MARJORIE
          She was keeping the VR channel open
          while I traced the IP address hops.
          It worked but I almost left her too
          long.
 
                      RALPH
          How will knowing the address help
          us?
 
                      MARJORIE
          There is a feedback channel, in
          effect an upload channel back to
          the server; it stays open as long
          as there is a human client neurally
          reponding on the primary VR
          channel. We should be able to use
          that channel to attack the servers.
 
                      DEREK
          Only a bit?
 
                      MARJORIE
          One step at a time. If our attack
          is disruptive enough they will lose
          some control of the infrastructure
          and we might be able to start
          restoring the lost services.
 
                      FRANK
          'Might be able to' so it may not
          work at all and we nearly lost
          Angela on the first attempt.
 
                      MARJORIE
          There's alot wrong with the method
          - the rapid slide into coma makakes
          it very dangerous and horribly slow
          but it's the only way I can think
          of to get any control back - and I
          am hoping we will get better at it.
          I'll get quicker and we'll all
          learn how long we can safely stay
          under.
 
                      RALPH
          We have to do something - anything
          is worth a try.
 
                      FRANK
          Do you want to volunteer - to use
          the set next?
 
                      RALPH
          Yes OK, I will. I think the risk is
          worth it.
 
                      DEREK
          I agree. Marjorie is right - it's
          the only chance we have.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Yes, that about it. I don't know of
          any other way of reaching our
          enemy.
 
                      RALPH
          So shouldn't we get on with it? I'm
          ready.
 
                      FRANK
          Maybe we should have a system - a
          rota.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Well if Ralph goes next you and
          Derek can sort it out between you -
          and then we'll just go round again.
 
                      FRANK
          Do you think it's safe for Angela?
 
                      ANGELA
          Frank, nothing happened to me
          really - and I'll be more on my
          guard and so will Marjorie. I'll
          take my turn.
 
                      MARJORIE
          OK Ralph, let's get started.
          Where's the set? I can't see it.
 
                      ANGELA
          I think I put it on the table when
          I came in.
 
                      FRANK
          Somebody will have cleared it off
          there before we ate. Anyone
          remember where they put it?
 
Everyone starts looking for the VR set. Ralph stops,
remembering something.
 
                      RALPH
          I think maybe Nick moved it off the
          table but I thought he left it
          somewhere over there.
 
Ralph points towards the bedroom. Everyone looks over there.
 
                      ANGELA
          I think I saw it over there by the
          bedroom door - where's it gone? I
          think Nick must have picked it up -
          Nick! Nick!
 
Angela rushes towards the bedroom followed by Marjorie and
Frank, the others standing staring. Before they get there
the door opens and Nick comes out, wearing the VR set, which
is clearly active. Angela stops before she collides with
Nick. Nick smiles at her uncertainly.
 
                      NICK
          I've been flying; I'm a fighting
          dragon.
 
Angela reaches Nick and is about to snatch the set off his
head but Marjorie stops her, holding her arm.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Angela, wait! He's obviously fine.
          This is very interesting. Nick, are
          you online now?
 
                      NICK
          Yes, sort of.
 
Ralph, Derek and Frank have all joined Marjorie and Angela
near Nick so Nick is at the centre of a rather intimidating
circle of adults.
 
                      MARJORIE
          So you are still a dragon but
          you're Nick too?
 
                      NICK
          I don't understand.
 
                      MARJORIE
          You are in Dragon World but you are
          here talking to us too.
 
                      NICK
          Yes I suppose.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Isn't that rather difficult and
          confusing?
 
                      NICK
          Not really.
 
                      MARJORIE
          How do you do that Nick, talk to us
          and stay in Dragon World?
 
                      NICK
          Dragonworld sort of fades a bit
          when I'm talking.
 
                      ANGELA
          Why did you take the VR set, Nick?
 
                      NICK
          I just borrowed it 'cos nobody was
          using it.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Did you go straight into Dragon
          World when you put it on?
 
                      NICK
          No, I was floating on the sea at
          first. It was a bit boring.
 
                      MARJORIE
          So what did you do?
 
                      NICK
          I made it change to Dragon World?
 
                      MARJORIE
          I don't think there's any point
          asking him how.
 
                      FRANK
          Nick, you didn't feel sleepy or
          tired t all?
 
                      NICK
          No, it was exciting.
 
                      MARJORIE
          What about at the beginning,
          floating on the sea?
 
                      NICK
          It was just a bit boring and samey.
 
                      ANGELA
          Nick, I think you'd better give it
          back, don't you?
 
                      NICK
          OK
 
Nick starts to take off the VR set.
 
                      MARJORIE
          It would make a huge difference if
          I could carry on IP tracing without
          having to stop to pull people out
          of coma every few minutes.
 
                      ANGELA
                (taking the headset from
                 Nick and standing
                 protectively near him)
          I don't think we can take that
          risk, Angela. It's not fair.
 
                      DEREK
                (looking at Nick)
          Let's not discuss it right now.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Priorities - we're talking about
          survival. We're losing a war here -
          the machines have brought
          everything down in just a day or
          two.
 
SCENE INT DAY MARJORIE'S FLAT
 
Nick is sitting in the upright chair with the VR set on.
Marjorie is connected up to the VR set and her equipment,
trying to trace another originating IP address. Angela is
tanding beside Nick
 
                      ANGELA
          Keep talking to me about what's
          happening in your world.
 
                      NICK
                (after a pause)
          I'm on a quest to find the stolen
          crystal. I'm flying over the misty
          mountains.
 
The scene fades and is replaced by Nick's virtual reality.
Nick is apparently flying over tremendous mountains, his
dragon wings visible as they move. To one side of him
another Dragon is flying.
 
                      ANGELA O.S.
          Good boy - keep telling me what's
          happening ok?
 
                      NICK
          OK
 
Nick and his companion dragon are descending towards a
sunlit sea on the other side of the mountains.
 
                      MARJORIE O.S.
          Almost through to another server
          address I think.
 
                      NICK
          We're going down.
 
                      ANGELA O.S.
          Is it getting dark or very quiet?
 
                      NICK
          No, it's very bright and can ear
          the sea. Big waves!
 
                      MARJORIE O.S.
          That's it I think. That's five more
          in the last hour.
 
The brightly lit and coloured virtual scene changes abruptly
to black and then visual noise. The virtual scene is replacd
by dimly lit Nick in the chair in Marjories's flat throwing
up his arms as if flying and trying to control his flight.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Bugger, bugger, bugger. They've
          found us and cut off the power.
 
                      NICK
          I thought I was falling into the
          sea. What's happened?
 
                      ANGELA
          It's OK Nick - it's just a power
          cut. It must be a shock. Are you
          feeling all right?
 
Nick starts to cry. Angela puts an arm round him.
 
                      MARJORIE
          He will be disorientated - it's a
          shock to the system.
 
                      ANGELA
          I suppose it'll be the whole block
          and it'll get dark soon.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Which means we'll all have to move.
          Bugger, bugger, bugger.
 
The door buzzer goes. Marjorie opens the door to let Derek
in.
 
                      DEREK
                (out of breath)
          I came up to say there's a power
          cut.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Here too, I'm afraid. I've got a
          lamp and candles. I'll just collect
          them.
 
Marjorie collects a packet of candles and a camping lamp
from a cupboard. Nick has stopped crying.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Here Nick, you can carry the
          candles.
 
Marjorie hands a packet to Nick and they all leave the
apartment, Marjorie carefully locking up.
 
SCENE INT DAY INSIDE THE ARMY LORRY
 
The lorry is moving, reasonably smoothly but quite noisily.
There are benches down each side. The lorry is canvas
covered with low metal sides and tailgate. There are chunky
and obviously added power points from which there are wires
to Marjorie's equipment and the VR set on Nick - plus many
more connecting everything together. Angela is sitting
directly opposite Nick on the other bench and Marjorie on
the floor near him, working with her equipment, also on the
floor. The panel to the driver compartment is open and we
can see the back of Derek's head as he drives.
 
                      ANGELA
          Tell me where you are, Nick, in
          Dragonworld.
 
                      NICK
          I'm diving into the sea. Now I'm
          swimming under the sea.
 
                      ANGELA
          And where are you really?
 
                      NICK
          Um - here, in the bedroom - no, I
          mean in the lorry..
 
                      MARJORIE
                (to herself)
          Another alias! How many hops back
          this time?
 
                      ANGELA
          That's right, Nick. Can you see me?
 
Nick turns towards Angela.
 
                      NICK
          Yes.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Don't overdo the interruptions,
          Angela. We don't want the feedback
          looking too unusual.
 
Marjorie types something rapidly, looks at a screen, types
again, hits return emphatically, then stops.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Damn.
                (shouts) Derek, you've
                 come out of the zone. No
                 signal - can you turn
                 round?
 
                      DEREK O.S.
          OK, I'll turn as soon as I can.
          Hold tight!
 
The lorry suddenly swings round to the right. Derek almost
falls off the bench onto Marjorie. Marjorie is rocked back
on the floor but recovers.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Whoops. That's it -it's back. Try
          to stay in the zone near the
          buildings.
 
Marjorie starts working feverishly on the equipment and then
stops in triumph.
 
                                             :
 
                      MARJORIE
          Yes, got the bugger! That's another
          genuine origin. Derek, back for
          lunch, ok?
 
                      DEREK O.S.
          OK!
 
ANGELA gets up and moves to Nick, puts a hand on his
shoulder.
 
                      ANGELA
          OK Nick, time for a Dragonworld
          pause. Can you disconnect yourself.
 
Angela takes Nick's right hand and places it on the VR
headset controls.
 
                      NICK
          Oh OK! I am exploring the
          underwater city. Can I come back
          after lunch?
 
Nick disconnects himself a litle unwillingly.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Another server - I think without
          those crazed programmes being
          aware,thanks to Nick.
 
                      ANGELA
          How close are we to mounting our
          attack?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Close. I reckon targeting the ones
          we know so far with an overload of
          inconsistent feedback data would be
          disruptive enough to
                (looks at Nick)
          muck them up - but our array of VR
          sets and attached computers isn't
          nearly large enough - we need more
          helpers.
 
                      ANGELA
          Ralph should have wired up some
          more units by now.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Let's hope so, but it depends where
          he can get in.
 
                      NICK
          I'm hungry.
 
                      ANGELA
          All that flying and swimming - I'm
          not surprised.
 
The lorry brakes suddenly and comes to a complete stop.
Every one is thrown about.
 
                      MARJORIE
          What's up, Derek?
 
                      DEREK O.S.
          Sorry - three army types with guns.
 
                      1ST SOLDIER O.S.
          Please get out of the cabin, sir.
 
Two soldiers appear at the back of the lorry.
 
                      2ND SOLDIER
          Everyone out, please.
 
One of the soldiers waves an automatic rifle at them. Derek
appears at the back of the lorry with 1st soldier behind
him.
 
                      MARJORIE
          You're interrupting valuable work.
 
                      1ST SOLDIER
          And you're joyriding in a stolen
          army vehicle. I'd say that's
          looting, wouldn't you, Mo?
 
                      2ND SOLDIER
          Lookss like looting to me, Sue.
          Everyone know the penalty for
          looting? All of you out - now!
 
Marjorie and Angela climb out. Angela helps Nick down. At
sight of Nick the soldiers become less aggressive in
posture, guns pointing away.
 
                      NICK
          What's looting?
 
                      DEREK
          I was asked to drive this vehicle
          by our local hospital, Grove Park,
          to bring peope in for treatment.
 
                      1ST SOLDIER
          And so now you're driving your
          friends about in it. Is that what
          they had in mind?
 
                      ANGELA
          We're trying to fight back.
 
                      2ND SOLDIER
          By riding round and round the
          houses with a VR set?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Actually, yes. We need a mobile
          power source. We've traced a large
          number of the servers they use. You
          can see my equipment there.
 
                      1ST SOLDIER
          Means nothing to me. You'll have to
          come along with us and explain to
          our C.O. - our C.O. isn't a very
          trusting man. Get backin the back,
          all of you.
                (pause)
           Mo, could you let them know we're
          bringing in a suspected looting
          group.
                (to Derek)
          Give that one the keys.
                (Gestures to 3rd soldier)
 
Derek shrugs and hands over the keys. All four of them climb
into the back of the lorry. 3rd soldier goes round to the
front and climbs into driver's seat.
 
The jeep and lorry go off in convoy.
 
SC INT DAY AN ARMY BARRACKS HUT
 
A middle-aged army captain is sitting at a desk, looking
rather harassed and depressed. Derek, Nick, Angela and
Marjorie are lined up in front of him. 1st and 2nd soldier
are standing on either side.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          So what were you all doing in one
          of our lorries? And why with this
          very young man?
 
The captain points to Nick. Derek and Marjorie hesitate so
Angela answers.
 
                      ANGELA
          Marjorie here is a top computer
          guru. We've been helping her track
          down the sources of the coma thing
          - process.
 
                      MARJORIE
          I've been using the VR streams to
          track down the servers hosting the
          hostile algorithms and control
          programmes. We've made some
          progress.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
                (To 1st soldier)
          Martins, could you get Corporal
          Phillips here. Straight away
          please! And after that there's no
          need for either of you to be here -
          go back to your patrol duties
 
1st and 2nd soldiers leave the hut.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
                (To Marjorie and others)
          I don't know much about this stuff
          but Phillips seems to. Can you
          explain why you have a child with
          you and why you needed our lorry
          for this tracking process?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Nick is resistant to the coma
          induction code - or more likely he
          doesn't trigger it. The lorry is
          because they cut off our power -
          they tracked our IP address,
          located us and shut down the whole
          building. We have to have an
          independent, mobile power source -
          your lorry works well.
 
1st soldier and Corporal Phillips enter.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          Ah, Phillips, we need your computer
          know-how. This lot's story is that
          they're driving round in one of our
          lorries trying to track down some
          servers.
                (to Marjorie)
          Is that right?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Yes. I have equipment and software
          that tries to trace the IP hops of
          the coma inducing VR stream back to
          its true host server.
 
                      CORPORAL PHILLIPS
          Isn't there a danger that the trace
          will be traced so the servers are
          moved and you get shut down?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Yes, they did that and cut off
          power to our building - that's why
          we are in your lorry.
 
                      CORPORAL PHILLIPS
          Any success?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Yes, I think so. I've got a long
          list of ip addresses.
 
                      CORPORAL PHILLIPS
          And they haven't switched servers?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Not yet or at least not much - I've
          kept the trace algorithm very fast
          and light and I've managed to embed
          it in the VR feedback stream - sort
          of camouflage.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          So I take it this all makes some
          kind of sense to you, Phillips?
 
                      CORPORAL PHILLIPS
          Yes sir, mostly.
                (To Marjorie)
          Who or what is doing this, running
          this stuff?
 
                      MARJORIE
          I'm only guessing, but I believe
          it's the computer systems we set up
          to control supply and demand for
          power and other services - the
          regulators. I don't think it's the
          Russians or anybody.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          That would explain why it seems so
          widespread - Russia and the U.S are
          certainly affected.
 
There is general interest at this statement and Derek and
Angela try to speak at the same time.
 
                      DEREK
          Sorry, Angela, you go ahead.
 
                      ANGELA
          So you have comms?
 
                      MARJORIE
          They have satellite links I
          imagine.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          Correct, several links, supposedly
          hardened and certainly encrypted,
          but we are having problems with
          them.
 
                      CORPORAL PHILLIPS
          Something is interfering with the
          satellite bandwidth allocation - we
          get locked out more and more often.
 
                      MARJORIE
          That doesn't surprise me. I'm
          amazed you still have any access at
          all.
 
                      ANGELA
          But then you must know what's
          happening in the rest of the world
          - Europe, America?
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          There's nothing official or
          verifiable - only local units
          reporting conditions around them.
          They sound a lot like here I'm
          afraid.
 
                      MARJORIE
          I'm hoping you can help us mount an
          effective attack on the servers
          we've located.
 
                      CORPORAL PHILLIPS
          You're thinking of DDOS attacks?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Probably.
 
                      CORPORAL PHILLIPS
          We could help. We have an
          independent power supply at least -
          though fuel is growing short.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          OK, I'm satisfied you had good
          reason for using our equipment and
          I must apologise for detaining you.
          You're free to go - and keep the
          transport for now.
 
                      MARJORIE
          More important by far is getting
          your help.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          I was coming to that. Phillips, I'd
          like you to go with them, assess
          this strategy and if it seems
          viable, find out how we can help.
 
Captain Allyson pauses and looks around the group.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          I'll leave it up to you how you
          organise that. He is at your
          disposal. Phillips, understand what
          they're doing and report back to me
          - let's say not later than tomorrow
          afternnoon roll call.
 
                      FRANK
          We need to get back to Frank and
          Ralph - and lunch.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          Phillips, take rations for yourself
          and some to spare for this lot.
 
Captain Allyson scribbles on a form, signs and hands it to
Corporal Phillips.
 
                      MARJORIE
                (to Phillips)
          You'd better ride in the back with
          me and the others so we can talk.
 
Captain Allyson gets up and they all move to the door
together.
 
                      CAPTAIN ALLYSON
          Believe me, if there is a chance of
          regaining some control by your
          method I will make sure that all
          our resources are available to you.
          We do have radio communication with
          other units so, with some
          organisation, we could be a real
          help. Tell Phillips everything you
          can and what you need and he'll
          report back to me as soon as he
          knows enough.
 
All leave except Captain Allyson who slowly goes back to his
desk.
 
SC INT DAY A LARGE MILITARY SPACE LIKE A CONVERTED HANGAR OR
BARRACKS.
 
There are perhaps 100 people in groups of 4 or 5, each group
containing one child, sitting around 20+ tables containing
electronic equipment similar to Marjorie's but smaller and
neater. Each child is holding or wearing a virtual headset.
Each tables has an identifying letter. Angela, Derek, Frank
and Nick are at one of the tables. Marjorie is standing at a
microphone facing the groups. Corporal Phillips and two
others are going from group to group checking equipment.
Captain Allyson and a very senior officer are standing near
Marjorie. Behind them is a large screen.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Just remember, our enemy is not
          truly intelligent or conscious -
          but is capable of learning and
          adjusting its responses in order to
          survive and keep control - so speed
          and coordination are vital.
 
The brigadier come forward and turns to point at the screen.
 
                      BRIGADIER
          So we've done the practice drills -
          now it's time for action. The
          screen will display the IP address
          in red of any confirmed server
          under attack from us. The address
          will go black when it goes down.
          It's OK to cheer when that happens
          - we all deserve a morale boost in
          these times. Good luck to all of
          us.
 
                      MARJORIE
          Remember - the slightest sign of
          disorientation or sleepiness among
          our young frontliners, pull the
          plug. Just because it never
          happened to Nick, doesn't mean it
          can't happen to one of you.
 
                      BRIGADIER
          OK Marjorie? Can we get started?
 
Marjorie looks over at the table with Nick and the others.
They look back expectant. She smiles at them rather
nervously and then nods to the brigadier.
 
                      BRIGADIER
          Right. Headsets on. Power up.
          Companions and IP searchers at the
          ready.
 
IP addresses in red start to appear on the screen with a
letter corresponding to the table or group. Angela is
talking to Nick at their table. We see the letter of their
table.
 
                      ANGELA
          Would like your Dad to join us,
          Nick? He's just watching at the
          back of the hall.
 
                      NICK
          He'll make me nervous if he's too
          close. Mum isn't here is she?
 
                      ANGELA
          Not yet, but I think she'll be out
          of hospital in a day or two.
 
                      FRANK
          We'd better get started. Are you
          ready Nick?
 
                      NICK
          I'm already in.
 
                      ANGELA
          OK, we'd better catch up.
 
The group get busy with the equipment, Angela monitoring
Nick. On the big screen we see more red IP addresses come up
including one with Nick's letter. The room is very busy as
all the tables get to work. After a time one of the IP
addresses wavers and goes black. There is a big cheer. Then
two more go black almost together, followed by a bigger
cheer. A cascade of successes follows and an atmosphere of
triumph, relief and euphoria quickly builds. Finally every
address has gone black.
 
                      BRIGADIER
                (Standing with mike on
                 platform)
          I have just heard that power has
          returned to several city public
          areas and that traffic lights and
          street lights are working there.
 
                      (HUGE CHEERS)
           There are also reports of patchy
          internet and comms access in the
          same areas. This is a splendid
          victory you have won - the first
          victory in a war we have up to now
          been losing. I am sure it is the
          first of many.
 
SC INT DAY  A SUBTERRANEAN DATA AND COMPUTER INSTALLATION
 
A very  large, sterile, low-lit white-walled space. There
are long rows of server racks stretching into the distance.
On one side at the near end aremassed  banks of computer
hardware. There are no winking lights or any sign of power
or activity.
 
Marjorie comes in, followed by Angela and Frank. Angela and
Frank look around with interest.
 
                      MARJORIE
          We think this is where it started.
          These AIs were designed to balance
          the power supply against demand.
          They initiated the coma strategy,
          though the actual VR coma program
          was adapted from popular  medical
          and entertainment programs with
          help from the specialised AIs that
          ran those.
 
                      ANGELA
          So are those AIs still active?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Many of them are but they shouldn't
          be a danger on their own.
 
                      DEREK
          So is VR safe now?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Well I won't be using it. We need
          to examine the role of AIs and
          control the way they
          intercommunicate -and sometimes
          prevent it.
 
                      ANGELA
          And are these AIs here completely
          deactivated?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Totally. To an extent I don't
          believe was either necessary or
          wise.
 
                      ANGELA O.S.
          What do you mean?
 
                      MARJORIE
          They have dismantled the
          architecture and wiped the memory
          core - so now we can't study them.
 
                      DEREK
          Do we need to?
 
                      MARJORIE
          Well we can't anyway.  It would
          have been useful to learn how, for
          the first time, machines developed
          the ability to go beyong theit
          programming, find original
          solutions, make their own decisions 
          and cooperate on a new strategy.
 
                      ANGELA
          So you're afraid it could happen
          again?
 
                      MARJORIE
          If it happened once it could happen
          again - but it's not just the
          danger. In some ways it's a
          wonderful development and it could
          be a power for good.
 
                      DEREK
                (shudders)
          We've seen how that works.. 
 
                      ANGELA
          Yes, we've all had enough of AI
          aims and methods. Never again.
 
                      MARJORIE
          You can't stop development, what is
          really evolution, not permanently
          -it's better to understand it and
          try to control it.
 
                      ANGELA
          Anyway this lot have been stopped.
 
Angela gestures towards the computer banks.
 
                      MARJORIE
          They have been annihilated. I can't
          blame people for seeing them as
          monsters but I am sad about the
          loss of a species on the cusp of
          sentience. 
 
                      ANGELA
          A new species which tried to kill
          us all.
 
                      MARJORIE
          They wren't trying to kill us. They
          were designed to keep the lights on
          at all costs. When their
          predictions showed the grid failing
          they took steps to reduce the
          demand for power - killing us was
          just collateral damage.  Nobody
          told them that our survival was
          more important than the power
          grid's.
 
                      DEREK
          So they weren't our enemies?
 
                      MARJORIE
          They weren't quite intelligent or
          human enough to be enemies. They
          were our mistake, our misguided
          children.