EXT. BUSY NEW YORK CITY STREET – DAY
MARCO SAMSON, a disheveled man in his 40’s, sits crumpled on the sidewalk, his back against a high-end electronics shop window. He has a black crop of hair and a rough beard sprouting grey. He has a sign in front of him scrawled on re-used cardboard; JOKES 4 $. People keep walking by. Some drop coins at his feet. Marco scrambles to pick them up, chasing rolling coins. Nobody in New York stops. A four-year-old girl reads Marco’s sign and tugs at his father’s hand. The father keeps walking and tries to keep his daughter at bay, but she lets go and approaches Marco. She pulls a quarter out from her pocket and holds it up in front of Marco. The father stops and watches this play out.
Tell me a joke please.
Marco reaches for the coin. The girl snatches it back.
Put in my place by a four-year-old. Nice.
Okay, okay. Knock knock.
Marco Samson who?
The girl screws her face up.
That’s not funny.
Marco smiles broadly. The father takes his daughter’s hand and pulls her along. He shoots Marco an ugly glare.
Gee, somehow it always cheers me up.
As her father takes her away the girl flicks her coin to Marco. It lands on the pavement and it rolls towards the road. On his hands and knees Marco dodges pedestrian feet to chase the coin. Marco throws out a hand just missing the coin as it rolls off the sidewalk and straight into the sewer grating. Marco stops defeated, and stares down into the sewer.
I wasn’t always like this. In fact, if you saw me a year ago, you wouldn’t have believed it. Me, Marco Samson, living on the street and chasing after quarters? I still don’t believe it myself sometimes. Like one day I’ll wake up and this horrible nightmare will be over.
CAPTION: One Year Earlier
INT. MARCO’S OFFICE – DAY
A much cleaner looking Marco sits behind a fancy desk while on the phone. His hair is jet black. He is clean shaven and wearing a grey suit and cheerful polka dot tie. He looks at least fifteen years younger. The office is located on the twenty-eighth floor and behind Marco lies a stunning view of New York.
Dianne, who is my two o’clock?
Yes, I know I can look up my appointments on my computer. But I need the comfort of a woman’s voice, like the good old days.
I am well aware I can get a female AI to read to me, but–Thank you Dianne, that will be all.
Marco hangs up the phone and places it in its dock. A knock sounds on the office’s solid oak doors.
In comes DUSTIN, a scrawny girl in her 20’s. She is wearing skinny jeans and a heavy metal band t-shirt. She has a pink stud in her nose and short bleached hair. She sits down at the seat in front of Marco’s desk.
You’re Dustin, lead designer on WarTime III?
Who were you expecting?
Dustin nervously adjusts his tie and sounds hesitant pronouncing her name.
I was expecting you of course … Dustin.
Why have you called me up here? We are two months away from shipping. Every minute is precious right now.
See that’s the thing Dustin. I don’t like the … direction of this title. WarTime is about giving virtual guns to the everyday American to give them the power to take out our insurgents–to unleash their pent-up rage on towel heads. They don’t want to blow up fellow Americans.
Sir, I’ll be frank. You’re completely wrong on this. We’re moving away from being one-sided. And why now, when we’re so close to the end?
My investors noticed the disturbing footage in question on some Internet forum. They are not happy.
Shouldn’t you be more involved in the process? You are CEO.
I’m management Dustin. The ones and zeroes? That’s your job.
Don’t you see the potential here boss? We don’t just have to be another sequel with more guns and new levels. We can have a message. There’s beauty in that.
What, that war is bad? If war stops who will buy our games? You know what Dustin, I’m sick of your radicalism. Pack up your things, you’re gone.
Dustin stands up with a start.
Real mature. You know what Mr. Samson? You think you’re invincible sitting behind your fancy desk in your great big fancy office. Well we’ll see how powerful you are when you let our game die. Who will buy your games then?
Dustin storms out of the office and slams the door behind her.
As you can see, I was a bit of a prick.
This work by Michael J. Gray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License