Project Top Hat

PROJECT TOP HAT

Cast:
[Opening credits – Olivia]
Landon Frost, TV show host
Pamela Frost, his wife
Fred and June
Doctor Plasmus, top researcher
Chambers, executive
Dill, less important executive

OLIVIA: Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it’s a Top Secret Lab, on the human side of the wall, in the world of zombies, can’t you tell?

MUSIC

SOUND: computer and lab noises

LANDON: [on TV] I’m Landon Frost, and tonight on “the Z word,” we’ll take a behind the scenes look at how zombies are used in the manufacture of your dog’s kibble.

FRED: How can they feed zombies to dogs?

JUNE: Ambulates make the food–prepare it. It’s illegal to terminate them without “just cause.”

FRED: As opposed to “just cuz”? [laughs]

JUNE: Hah. That’s what “the Z word” is about–exposing the ways zombies are exploited.

LANDON: [TV]: You’ll be watching this series throughout the holidays, and I’ll be tucked up at home with my family.

JUNE: He’s always busy. Hardly ever gets to see them.

FRED: Oh, boo-hoo. This Frost guy gets to fly all over the world, cussing on TV, and making zillions of dollars, and he wants sympathy?

JUNE: Don’t forget taking his shirt off… [chuckle] But he’s also a romantic–always talking about how he misses his wife Pamela.

FRED: So? He could retire.

JUNE: Helping improve “life” for ambulates is like a crusade for him.

SOUND: DOOR OPENS, CUTTING HER OFF

FRED: [muttered exclamation]: Oh shit!

SOUND: CHAIR SQUEAK, SCRAMBLE

LANDON: [TV]: I’ll be meeting my wife in secret at–

SOUND: SWITCH, TV OFF

DILL: [coming in talking]: We should be able to improve the bottom line.

CHAMBERS: And not expose Tammuz to any more…liability. We are just starting to get back to where we were before Mrs. Skray’s…

DILL: Unfortunate accident?

CHAMBERS: [grim]: Breakdown.

DILL: Ah.

CHAMBERS: I need your personal guarantee this won’t come back to bite us in the butt.

DILL: If it does, my butt will have your back.

CHAMBERS: What?

DILL: Uh…nothing. Dr. Plasmus is expecting us.

CHAMBERS: Plasmus? What kind of a name is that?

DILL: Dunno. I only know results, and the good doctor facilitated the “crickets”. Look what they’ve done to help us get back in good odor over the last 18 months.

CHAMBERS: [favorably impressed]: Mmm.

DILL: And now… [announcing] Project Top Hat!

SOUND: DOOR OPENS

SOUND: MUSIC SCENE CHANGE

TV DUDE [ON TV]: Do you ever have behavior problems with your ambulates?

ZOMBIE: Grr.

OLD LADY [pleased]: Cricket!

TV DUDE: Do they sometimes seem to have a mind of their own?

ZOMBIE2: [weird noise]

MAN [smug]: Cricket.

TV DUDE: Would you ever have them in the house without it?

WOMAN: Around my kids? Forget it!

KIDS: Just CRICKET!

TV DUDE: Yes, Cricket, the “behavioral reminder” implant that reminds zombies to toe the line.

TV DUDE: [quiet, rushed] Results may vary. Some side effects may occur. No guarantee of bodily safety is implied or express in the sale of this product. Not available in all areas. [up] Get Cricket today! Brought to you by your friends at Tammuz Corporation.

SOUND: MUSIC

SOUND: WALKING, DOOR SWOOSHES OPEN

SOUND: ZAPS and SQUISHY NOISES

PLASMUS: You’re early.

DILL: Uh, no. It’s–um–six?

PLASMUS: It is? Hmm. Well, just let me finish this, and–

SOUND: BIG ZAP

CHAMBERS: What are you working on?

PLASMUS: Shh!

DILL: [hushed] Sorry, the doc doesn’t multitask.

CHAMBERS: What?

SOUND: ONE FINAL ZAP

PLASMUS: Done. He means I do not work and talk. When you have worked directly in as many brains as I have, you begin to value each function for its own worth, and not merely as a gestalt whole.

CHAMBERS: Uh, right. So are you ready to gestalted [get started] now?

DILL: Gestalt isn’t–

CHAMBERS: I KNOW.

PLASMUS: It was a bit of a joke? [small dry chuckle] Am I right?

CHAMBERS: Yeah.

PLASMUS: I thought as much. I fear that the humor seat of my own brain has probably been left a wee bit underdeveloped. Oh well. Could be MUCH worse. I could have an atrophied hippocampus! [laughs riotously]

DILL: Uh, yeah. [toady laugh]

CHAMBERS: That would be unfortunate, indeed.

PLASMUS: [stops laughing suddenly] But you are not here for pleasantries. You are here to see what I have wrought!

CHAMBERS: Aha! So that’s the smell in here.

PLASMUS: What?

CHAMBERS: Rot?

PLASMUS: [laughs]

MUSIC SCENE CHANGE TO TV

LANDON: What the fuck do you think you’re doing? You can’t have rats in any ambulate work area, you moronic lavat’ry brush! They may not decay, but can still be damaged–do you want to be the one providing your workforce with replacement parts every time rats gnaw a bit off? Or perhaps rats are the only protein going in to your fucking kibble?

SOUND: MUSIC

DILL: So now the doctor will demonstrate–? [hint]

PLASMUS: Have you forgotten the name again?

DILL: [uncomfortable] No. no, I just was giving you a chance to, you know, take the glory.

PLASMUS: You should have warned me. [sigh] It is Project Top Hat for a very simple reason–

SOUND: METAL CLANK

CHAMBERS: It looks like a top hat. Original.

DILL: And what does it do…? [hinting]

PLASMUS: Stop doing that.

DILL: Sorry.

PLASMUS: [launching into lecture mode] The ambulate workforce is sturdy, capable–albeit slow–and cheap, since all they require is chum, unlike human workers who not only need food, shelter, sleep, etc., but also WANT things.

DILL: [muttered] Zombies want things too. That’s part of the problem.

PLASMUS: Shush. It is this volition which is the only real drawback to the use of ambulates for many sorts of work, and which gives rise to the various debates over ambulate sentience, to use an inexact phrase, over their “personhood”.

CHAMBERS: None of this is news.

PLASMUS: I am setting it up. So if there was a way to mix the useful qualities of the ambulate with the mindless diligence of, say, a computer, wouldn’t that improve their value?

CHAMBERS: [interested] Yessss….

DILL: Of course.

PLASMUS: So this mechanism will do that–replacing the corpse’s brain with a limited function computer, only able to obey commands.

CHAMBERS: You specify “Corpse”?

PLASMUS: [pleased] Ah, you caught that. [chuckles] Much like the pre-edict abortion debates, this idealization of ambulates leads to the nasty question of when, precisely, one goes from human, to dead human, to ambulate.

DILL: You’ve seen the courtroom reality shows.

MUSIC

COURT REPORTER: We’ll catch the plaintiff as she leaves. Missus Feinman, Missus Feinman? How do you feel about the jury’s ruling?

MISSUS: Act of god, my eye! My husband had a very clear “do not reanimate” clause in his will–but that doctor failed to catch him at the exact moment to remove the head and prevent reanimation, and now he’s stuck.

MISTER: [zombie moan]

MISSUS: I can’t even have him decently put down, what with the iffy legal status of zombies. [sniffles]

COURT REPORTER: [bland] You have our sympathy, I’m sure. In just a moment, we’ll speak to the doctor and his attorney.

MUSIC

PLASMUS: So we must catch them in that window–that tiny “between states” period when we can still legally treat them as objects.

CHAMBERS: And–?

PLASMUS: Remove the head. Once the head is gone, the body may yet convert, but does not move, as it has little sensory input to motivate it.

CHAMBERS: You remove the head? [Slowly gets it] And then you do–oh, ohhhh… The Top Hat.

PLASMUS: I see you are a quick thinker, Mr. Senior Executive. Yes. The unit replaces the so-called “mind”, by which we truly mean the physical brain, giving the animated carcass sensory input, all the while leaving complete control with the human controller.

CHAMBERS: Can the body re-animate, without the head?

PLASMUS: Do you know how the ambi-twist works?

CHAMBERS: The what?

DILL: [muttered] The T virus.

PLASMUS: No, no! That is a trademarked name and cannot be used without possible reprisal!

DILL: Sorry! That’s what most people [call it].

PLASMUS: I don’t want to hear it! Besides, the ambi-twist does not make ravenous beasts. Animates are gentle. Like kittens.

MUSIC

SOUND: COMMERCIAL – AMB GROCERY SHOPPING

SUSY: Gee, mommy, Rolf pushes the cart real well, don’t he?

MOMMY: That reminds me! We need to pick up some chum!

ROLF: [eager zombie noise]

SUSY: He knows THAT word!

ANNOUNCER: Of course he does, but can he tell the difference between Champion Chum and the bargain brand?

MOMMY: Is there a difference?

ANNOUNCER: Just ask Rolf!

ROLF: [sticky zombie eating noises]

SUSY: [laughing] Oh Rolf!

ANNOUNCER: Every zombie, every day, chooses Champion brand chum!

MUSIC

CHAMBERS: They’re tame enough with the cricket. If they were naturally docile, we wouldn’t need it.

PLASMUS: And with the top hat, there will be no need for the cricket. Let me show you.

SOUND: CAGE OPENS

CHAMBERS: [horrified reaction] Oh!

DILL: ugh [bland]

PLASMUS: This stray dog was humanely euthanized, and the top hat was immediately attached–

SOUND: COMPUTERIZED BARK

PLASMUS: We had to use a fairly large dog, so the top hat unit wouldn’t overbalance it. It was designed for a human frame–

SOUND: COMMOTION OUTSIDE

PLASMUS: What is this?

SOUND: DOOR SLAMS OPEN

JACKIE: All of you! Over by the wall! [to june and fred] Get in there!

FRED: Right, of course.

JUNE: Excuse me. Just, um, going through.

CHAMBERS: Who the devil are you?

JACKIE: I’m the one with the gun! And I said over by the wall!

DILL: She means it. Move it! Move it move it move it….

PLASMUS: But the dog–

SOUND: COMPUTERIZED BARK

SOUND: GUN SHOT INTO CEILING

JACKIE: And don’t get any funny ideas. I’m not alone.

CHAMBERS: [reasonable and placating] Tell us what you want.

JACKIE: [almost a yell] I want you all over by that wall!

SOUND: COMPUTERIZED BARK

DILL: Already here!

JUNE: Me too!

PLASMUS: Allow me to– [take the dog]

JACKIE: Leave that poor thing!

SOUND: COMPUTERIZED BARK

JACKIE: That is exactly the kind of horrid monster we’re here to put an end to.

PLASMUS: Ah. Activists. [chuckling]

CHAMBERS: Don’t mock the woman with the gun!

PLASMUS: Oh. Of course.

JACKIE: And what’s behind here?

PLASMUS: No! Don’t! It’s not ready yet!

CHAMBERS: What IS it?

SOUND: CURTAIN OPENS

JACKIE: Mother of god!

MUSIC SCENE CHANGE, CROSSFADE

WUSSY POPSTAR: I know all of you have heard and most of you have enjoyed my hit single “walking away with my heart” about the plight of the ambulate.

ZOMBIE: [pathetic moan]

WUSSY POPSTAR: Too many of these poor once-human creatures are abused, neglected, and sometimes even abandoned to fend for themselves, forced to sell their bodies, bit by horrible bit, for the chum they need to survive. Can’t you spare just a little–the price of a cup of coffee–to help?

MUSIC

CHAMBERS: Just tell us your demands, and let’s get on with this.

JACKIE: [horrified] What have you done to this man?

PLASMUS: It is not a man. It is a corpse.

JACKIE: It’s moving.

PLASMUS: There’s no one there. As you can see, the computer has taken the place of its entire head, thus removing all chance of–

CHAMBERS: [hissed, annoyed] You didn’t say you’d already done this to a human. [correcting himself] A human corpse, that is.

PLASMUS: I simply hadn’t got to that part of the presentation, yet.

JACKIE: [distracted and horrified] But why?

FRED: Hi-YAH!

SOUND: THUMP, SCUFFLE

DILL: Wow.

SOUND: GUN GOES OFF

DILL: Stay back!

JUNE: [indecisive but encouraging] Get her, Fred!

SOUND: SCUFFLE ENDS

FRED: Got her.

PLASMUS: Can I have her as a specimen?

JACKIE: You can’t do that to me!

PLASMUS: Of course we could. We simply record that you died in an attack on our security, and your corpse will be…recycled.

JACKIE: NO!

CHAMBERS: That’s a bit much, isn’t it?

PLASMUS: [quiet] Drat. [up] Heh-heh. Of course. Just a bit of…intimidation. Hah. Hah.

DILL: Right.

PLASMUS: What this young lady doesn’t seem to understand is that there are many people who don’t wish to return as a shambling, slow, and stupid ambulate. Many would rather know that their mind, their “soul,” had been allowed to pass on.

JACKIE: How the hell do you think you’re doing that?

PLASMUS: Cutting off the head. The body is still useful, as you can see. It can be of service to the living.

JACKIE: The soul isn’t in the brain. The soul is–the soul. It will stay around no matter what.

PLASMUS: [derisive laugh]

MUSIC

SOUND: PARTY!

BRANDON: And we’re here on the dead side with the New Year’s crowd! They start a week early, since they know it’ll take ’em that long to arrive! Whoo!

ARIA: And the hottest thing this year is head swaps!

BRANDON: [prompting, not really questioning] Head swaps, Aria?

ARIA: That’s right, Brandon! You know how zombies can cut off and attach body parts? They recently discovered that they can swap heads! They say it’s totally the ultimate!

BRANDON: Unless they sew it on backwards! Man, that would be a pain in the ass!

ARIA Yeah, but at least you could see your ass!

BOTH: [LAUGH]

MUSIC

CHAMBERS: Where’s security when you need them?

JUNE: I just called them, sir. Apparently, they’ve had a number of…insurrections.

DILL: Must be how she slipped by.

JACKIE: You won’t get anything from me!

PLASMUS: I suppose you two will have to take her to the security office for detention.

FRED: Gotcha.

JUNE: Oh, me? Oh all right.

SOUND: SHE CROSSES

JUNE: What was it she was looking at, anyway? [horrified gasp!]

PLASMUS: What’s wrong?

JUNE: [too quick, very nervous] Nothing! I just thought it–he–it moved.

PLASMUS: Nonsense. I haven’t even woken the unit yet. Get along.

JUNE: [still nervous] Yes, yes of course! Come on!

FRED: What’s wrong?

JUNE: [growl] Post traumatic stress! Get moving!

SOUND: THEY LEAVE

PLASMUS: Some people simply cannot handle pressure. Come have a look at my human automaton.

CHAMBERS: [slightly suspicious] He looks…fresh.

DILL: Nice physique!

CHAMBERS: You didn’t, uh…kill him, did you, doc?

PLASMUS: [laughs flatly] No. He was killed in a car wreck, this afternoon. His legs sustained some damage, but mostly superficial, and his head was completely severed.

CHAMBERS: How did you get him so quickly? The notice to the family won’t even go through–

PLASMUS: [pissed] I could not wait for petty family concerns when this perfect specimen fell into my very lap! And he is perfect!

DILL: Ew.

PLASMUS: So I snatched him out of the hospital upstairs. Besides. He is an organ donor.

MUSIC

INSURANCE: Do you wonder about your insurance coverage? Concerned that you may some day cease to be human, and therefore void your policy? We here at Practical Undead National Trust can fix that for you. For only a few dollars a day, you, too, can have coverage that extends beyond the expiration of the body.

MUSIC

SOUND: HALLWAY, DOOR SHUTS, FOOTSTEPS

FRED: Whew. Should we go back, do you think?

JUNE: [still bothered] I–I don’t know.

FRED: Okay, what’s going on?

JUNE: Oh, Fred! This is horrible!

FRED: It was just a gun. I don’t think she would have shot either of us anyway.

JUNE: Not that.

FRED: Then what?

JUNE: That body back in the lab? That perfectly sculpted torso? Did you see that tattoo on the
shoulder?

FRED: Not my type. Sorry.

JUNE: [very important and horrible] That was…  [cut off with a gasp]

SOUND: DOOR OPENS

MUSIC

LANDON: [outside, loud over background noise] You would think this was a prime place for ambulates. Garbage reclamation.

SOUND: CRUNCHING EQUIPMENT

LANDON: They don’t mind bad smells, can’t catch diseases–and yet, most of the workers hired on at this particular municipal tip don’t stay. Let’s find out why.

MUSIC

CHAMBERS: [gritted teeth] What do we do if there’s a lawsuit?

PLASMUS: [shrug] If they push it, there is an incinerator in the basement, and as long as we first remove the computer unit, the organic evidence could be reduced to ashes in a matter of hours.

CHAMBERS: [annoyed, but not knowing] Do you even know who this person–corpse–is?

PLASMUS: [shrug] I read the driver’s license. Why?

DILL: [confident] We’ll fabricate records. Show it was cremated by mistake. Apologize. Give the widow some ashes and a check.

CHAMBERS: Sounds like you’ve done this before.

DILL: [smug] Things…happen.

MUSIC

BOB: Come on down to Big Bob’s Bob-o-Rama for the finest in pre-owned ambulates! We have ’em all from this big brute for heavy lifting–

ZOMBIE: [deep moan]

BOB: To this hot little number, [hinting] nice for in-house work.

GIRL ZOMBIE: [sexy moan?]

BOB: Come on down this weekend, and my own gramma, an ambulate herself, will be here with her special milk and cookies! Trade-ins are always given full greybook value.

MUSIC

NURSE: I’m so sorry. There’s been a little mixup. He’s…um…missing.

PAMELA: [low snarl] As god is my witness, if my husband’s body turns up somewhere, anywhere, on a celebrity zombie show, I will personally sue you, the hospital, Tammuz, and anyone else our lawyers can think of!

NURSE: But I–

DOCTOR: What seems to be the problem?

PAMELA: Are you the person I should be screaming at?

DOCTOR: Well, I don’t know about that–

PAMELA: Then you best point me at the right one, since some screaming is well overdue.

DOCTOR Just tell me–calmly–what this is about.

NURSE It’s her husband.

PAMELA: My husband’s BODY, you mean! [starting to move from anger into tears] I was informed of his accident, that he was declared [suppressed sob] dead at the scene, and when I come to claim him… [deep breath, furious snarl] He’s missing.

NURSE I’m sure it’s just a paperwork snafu.

PAMELA: And I know how some of you bastards are about selling celebrity corpses! Don’t think you can pull that crap on me!

DOCTOR Celebrity? What was–uh, is–your husband’s name?

MUSIC

SOUND: ZOMBIE MOAN

LANDON: This fucking pisses me off no end–look at that poor bastard.

SOUND: ZOMBIE MOAN

LANDON: Look at this hand. Three fingers gone, from a bloody hazardous environment. [up] They may not be human any more, but you sons-of-bitches still have to look after these beggars!

MUSIC

JUNE: Landon Frost!

FRED: What?

JUNE: I swear it was! It’s the snowflake on his shoulder. He got it for his wife!

FRED: Oh. That can’t be good. Should we … tell them?

JUNE: Well…he IS dead. Nothing’ll change that.

SOUND: DOOR OPENS, MANY FEET COME STORMING IN

PAMELA: I already have Landon’s private security at all your exits, and will personally go through each and every room until I find him–so you might as well hand him over.

DOCTOR But, but..

PAMELA: First, you are taking Big Bill here and I down to your bloody incinerator–and don’t try to tell me you don’t have one.

DOCTOR: Why?

PAMELA: So no one has access to destroy the [falters] the…evidence.

SOUND: DOOR OPENS, THEY PASS OUT AGAIN

FRED: Is that–?

JUNE: [fatalistic] Oh boy!

MUSIC

LECTURER: We must stop treating ambulates as objects and start treating them as people–people very nearly like you and me. With a bit of practice, anyone can speak clearly and slowly enough for a zombie to pick up on it.

SOUND: ZOMBIE MOAN

LECTURER: If we could only follow the moans and groans of a group of zombies, I’m sure complete and fascinating conversations are going on, right under our disinterested human noses.

MUSIC

DILL: [on phone] So soon? Well, I guess we move on to plan B. [pause] She is? [upset] oh.

SOUND: PHONE DOWN

CHAMBERS: What is it?

DILL: I–they–

PLASMUS: Quiet, please! Time to turn it on!

DILL: This may actually be a very bad… thing

SOUND: A COUPLE OF ZAPS

SOUND: RUSTLE

CHAMBERS: Is that it?

PLASMUS: Do you need me to shout “it’s alive”?

LANDON: [computer noise, not quite speech]

DILL: Ohhhh boy.

CHAMBERS: Does that thing make it able to talk?

LANDON: [machine, more gobbledygook]

PLASMUS: Ambulates have always been able to talk. They simply operate on a much slower scale than we do. It is something about the brain synapses, the ambi-twist simply cannot get them back to normal speed.

DILL: [prompt] They’re how much slower than humans?

PLASMUS: I said not to do that.

DILL: I was just asking,. Really.

PLASMUS: They operate somewhere between 20 and 50% slower than humans. That is why they have to be spoken to slowly.

LANDON: [machine] Fuck you!

PLASMUS: [chuckles] Or not.

DILL: [gasp] Is it supposed to do that?

CHAMBERS: I thought you said that removing the head should negate the personality.

PLASMUS: I’m sure it is just something programmed in. My computer expert has quite a sense of humor.

LANDON: [machine] What the hell is going on?

PLASMUS: [worried now] Or… not.

DILL: This was supposed to make it docile!

CHAMBERS: At least the thing is tied down.

SOUND: RIP OF RESTRAINTS

PLASMUS: [frightened] Or… not!

MUSIC

TEACHER: Turn to page 40. The chapter on the ambi-twist. Amy, will you start?

NOTE: These are grade school students, who read more or less well.

AMY: The ambi-twist was a genetic modification first pioneered by Tammuz Corporation.

BOBBY: With the best of intentions, this benevolent corporation was trying to help people.

CORA: To overcome the issues with tissue rejection and make transplants one hundred percent successful.

DESMOND: But the ambi-twist went a bit awry.

[pause]

ELLIE: [whispered] You have to read more.

DESMOND: nuh-uh. Not my fault it’s a short sentence.

ELLIE: Fine! [ahem] The ambi-twist altered the genetic makeup of the intended cells, yes, but it did not stop there, instead running amok through the entire body and giving the cells a life of their own.

FRANK: Most of the population now carries the ambi-twist virus, which has little to no effect on them … during their lifetime.

DESMOND: [spooky noise] ooo-OO-oo

EVERYONE: [joking zombie groans]

MUSIC

NOTE: LANDON IS COMPUTERIZED FROM HERE ON OUT

LANDON: Why so gob-smacked? Where the fuck am I?

SOUND: THUMP GETTING OUT OF BED, FOOTSTEPS

PLASMUS: This is very bad.

DILL: It’s coming over. Let me guess, it can see and hear through the computer unit too?

PLASMUS: [wry] Of course. What use is a unit that bumps into walls and can’t follow orders?

LANDON: Is anyone planning to answer me?

CHAMBERS: Look, you. You’ve died and are now property. Just lay back and shut up.

DILL: Oh boy.

LANDON: No, you look here, you lump of festering dog turd! If I were dead, and I don’t believe it for a minute–I have very specific contingencies in my will.

PLASMUS: [chuckles] Speaking of contingencies–

SOUND: SHOTGUN RACKING

PLASMUS: I would call this experiment a conditional success.

SOUND: SHOTGUN BLAST

MUSIC

HUSHED MC: [gareth bowley] And the ambulate “Gracie’s darling” is now approaching the steps. This is a level three hazard, since it typically takes an ambulate several tries. Oh! She’s on the first step! Very nicely corrected a stumble and managed to stick the second step. Ah, but she’s faltering — Momentum can only carry one SO far, and this is where balance truly comes into play.

MUSIC

SOUND: DOOR SLAMS SHUT

CHAMBERS: Holy cow!

PLASMUS: [gleeful] Did you see how fast it was?

DILL: You mean when it walked off with your shotgun? I thought we were done for!

CHAMBERS: Looked like it nearly took your hand off, too.

PLASMUS: [dismissive] It’s broken, It’s fine. [up] We must follow it!

CHAMBERS: Get security on all the doors!

DILL: On it.

PLASMUS: Try not to hurt it!

CHAMBERS: Belay that order. Take that thing down at all costs. And definitely before it leaves the building!

MUSIC

SURVIVALIST1: I don’t care how many times they take this feed down and report me–I ain’t gonna stand by and let them goddamn walking dead take over. Since every one of us as dies turns into one of them, ain’t no way we can keep ahead unless we thin the herd a bit.

SURVIVALIST2: Hell yeah. Now on the chart behind me, you see a human–

SURVIVALIST1: Or zombie–

SURVIVALIST2: Right, “or zombie,” body with various areas marked in red. Those are your standard targets, right there. The head is, of course, the primary, since the bastards won’t stop walking without that being gone.

SURVIVALIST1: Even that don’t put ’em down right away, but if you can get it GONE–

SURVIVALIST2: Sure is funny to watch them bump into walls, in’t it?

BOTH: [laugh]

MUSIC

SOUND: AMB HALLWAY

SOUND: ALARMS, RUNNING FEET IN DISTANCE

JUNE: Why do I suddenly feel like a job change?

FRED: I’ll help with the resume. Let’s scat.

SOUND: RUNNING FEET APPROACH

JUNE: Oh shit! [dragging him out of the way] Over here!

LANDON: Run, you little buggers! I’ll blow your fucking pop stand wide open!

FRED: Holy crap!

JUNE: Ssh! Maybe it won’t notice us!

LANDON: What are you looking at?

FRED: Too late!

JUNE: Please don’t hurt us!

LANDON: Hurt? HURT? I’m going to ruin you snotty little gits!

FRED: Ruin, I can live with.

SECURITY: Stop right there!

SOUND: ASSORTED ZOMBIE MOANS

JUNE: Sock troops!

LANDON: [machine] Is this some kind of a sick joke? Turning THEM against ME?

SECURITY: Lay down the weapon and come along quietly, Top Hat.

FRED: Top hat? What is he, a Batman villain?

MUSIC

MOVIE ANNOUNCER: He was a normal boring man.

NORMAL MAN: Hey honey – be late tonight.

MOVIE ANNOUNCER: With a normal boring life.

NORMAL MAN: Yes, sir, I can get that done for you this afternoon.

MOVIE ANNOUNCER: Until the day he died.

NORMAL MAN: Excuse me–I feel…my chest…urk.

SOUND: THUMP, DROP PHONE, ERROR TONE

MOVIE ANNOUNCER: Now he was to work his way back to the top, against all odds… Coming soon–

NORMAL MAN: [zombie moan]

MOVIE ANNOUNCER: A NORMAL MAN starring Justin Bieber and an undead Jim Carrey.

MUSIC

JUNE: [up, yelling] We’re not with him!

LANDON: Toady.

JUNE: We DO work at Tammuz.

LANDON: This is Tammuz?

SECURITY: You have a count of 5 to put down the shotgun. ONE. [continues] TWO. THREE. FOUR.

FRED: Haven’t you noticed the logo everywhere?

LANDON: My vision is … strange. [musing] Tammuz. The one place I could never get into…

FRED: Not surprising.

SECURITY: FIVE! Get him!

JUNE: They won’t shoot in here–too many things might blow up.

LANDON: What? Helping me?

JUNE: I love–loved your show.

LANDON: Don’t be surprised if I’m back on the air soon.

SOUND: HIGH PITCHED WHISTLE

FRED: Ow!

JUNE: What the heck?

SECURITY: I said get him, you maggoty turds! Why are you stopping?

LANDON: Huh. Funny how I knew to do that.

MUSIC

NOTE: Ad also plays, under, at very slow speed – for the ambulates watching.

EDNA: Edna’s chum on the go! Whenever you’re out and about, and no time to get home and feed the ambulate in your life, drop round to Edna’s Chum. We have the best quality, tastiest chum around–hot and fresh, just like mother might have made. Available for dine-in, drive through and even delivery!

MUSIC

PLASMUS: They have him cornered in sector five, west corridor! Checkpoint X-14. I must reclaim the unit after they take the body down.

SOUND: PHONE RINGS

DILL: I’ll catch up. You guys go on ahead.

CHAMBERS: Hah! You’re not weaseling out that easily.

DILL: One sec [to phone] Yeah? Oh brilliant. That’s just the cherry on top.

SOUND: HANGS UP CELL

DILL: [annoyed] Guess what?

PLASMUS: [threat] I have a taser here somewhere–

DILL: Okay! Okay! There’s a woman upstairs demanding her husband’s body. And because this night isn’t deep enough in the shit, I have a feeling she’s related to–

CHAMBERS: Oh is she? [chuckles] We might be seeing daylight. Come on.

MUSIC

NIGERIAN SCAM: With reverence I am contacting you. I hope you will overlook my poor typistry. I am a recently deceased individual that managed to conceal a large sum of money before joining rank one of the walking dead.

MUSIC

SECURITY: Tell me you saw that, too.

FRED: You mean how he just, like, whistled and all the zombies trotted off after him like the pied piper of Hamlet?

JUNE: Hamlin.

SECURITY: Yeah, that. Good. Now when I make my report, you two can back me up.

FRED: Oh, uh– We were actually leaving.

SECURITY: I don’t think so.

JUNE: Not Leaving leaving. We have to get back to our–uh–posts.

SECURITY: That’s different. I’ll give you an escort.

FRED: Oh, boy.

SOUND: DISTANT FOOTSTEPS

PAMELA: You! You there! I want a word with you!

FRED: Us?

JUNE: Him. you.

SECURITY: Oh, me. Yes ma’am?

PAMELA: You look like someone in charge here. You will tell me where my husband’s body is!

JUNE: Oh that. He went thataway.

PAMELA: WHAT?

MUSIC

ZOMBIE LIB: If you can understand this, you are one of us, my zombie brother or sister. Come to the house with three crescent moons over the door, and we will guide you safely to our side of the wall. Liberty for all!

MUSIC

SOUND: SHOTGUN SHOT INTO CEILING

LANDON: I’m done fucking around. You let us past, or the next shot brings you to OUR bloody side!

COP: I can’t! I– the door is on autolock! Please, uh, mister – I got a wife and kids–

LANDON: You stupid little shit! I have – had a wife to, but whatever genius did this–

PAMELA: [off a bit] Landon?

LANDON: Oh my god. Pamela?

PAMELA: What did they– [more concerned than panic] Your head!

LANDON: It’s some insane experiment. I’m dead.

PAMELA: You can still see and hear me? [wonder] But you’re not slowed?

LANDON: Yes, I–

[REMEMBER STUPID ZOMBIE DOG ALL THIS TIME]

COP: Sorry, sir, but I have to–

SOUND: SHOT

ZOMBIEDOG Leaps in the way of the bullet, body drops and hat goes flying

COP: Oh, shit.

LANDON: Give me a minute, dear.

PAMELA: [furious] Give me your gun.

LANDON: No need.

SOUND: WHISTLE

ZOMBIES [attack]

COP: I was – I didn’t – oh!

LANDON: Poor stupid animal.

PAMELA: If not for that thing, you’d be dead.

LANDON: I’ll take this.

SOUND: PICKS UP TOP HAT

CHAMBERS: [coming in] No, we’ll take that. Both of them, in fact.

MUSIC

ZOMBIE MAN: Look at me. Now look at your zombie. Now look back at me. Your zombie will never look as good as me, but it can smell as good as me, with special deodorant soap from–[danar?]

MUSIC

FRED: [quiet] back away, quietly.

JUNE: [quiet] If we can just get past the corner…

LANDON: Who the fuck do you think you are?

FRED: Helps that he’s keeping their attention.

CHAMBERS: We’re the owners of that gadget you’re currently wearing, and we want it back. YOU, on the other hand, are expendable.

LANDON: And you think I’m afraid of your gun? If anyone knows how durable the undead are, I should bloody well think it was me.

FRED: [quiet] I’m clear!

JUNE: Just a bit more…

SOUND: GUNSHOT

CHAMBERS: The next one goes into HER.

JUNE: [off] Her? [gasp, then relieved] Oh. Her–his wife.

LANDON: You wouldn’t.

PLASMUS: You might want to consider–

CHAMBERS: Shut up–this is all your fault anyway.

PLASMUS: But–

LANDON: Get behind me, dearest.

PAMELA: He can’t be mad enough to shoot me!

CHAMBERS: Oh, I’m flipping furious, lady!

LANDON: She doesn’t mean that kind of “mad”, you festering moronic baboon!

MUSIC

INTERVIEWER: We have an interview with someone actually on the scene. What precisely was going on?

JUNE: It was pandemonium! The ambulates were just walking away after the…uh, stranger.

INTERVIEWER: Like the pied piper of hamelin?

JUNE: Or like Spartacus.

FRED: And when Mr. Chambers–I mean the defendant–shot Mrs. Frost–

JUNE: We’re not supposed to talk about that!

FRED: That’s why they’re pixilating our faces, isn’t it?

JUNE: That’s next week’s interveiw–this one is live!

FRED: Oh shit. Oh!

INTERVIEWER: Now that you’ve started, you might as well finish. What happened next?

JUNE: [exasperated sigh] There goes our exclusive!

MUSIC

SOUND: GUNSHOT

LANDON: Bastards!

SOUND: HIGH PITCHED WHISTLE

SOUND: ZOMBIE MOANS IN RESPONSE

LANDON: [snarl] Bring me THAT one!

PLASMUS: Which? Oh!

CHAMBERS: Stay back!

PAMELA: [expiring] Landon? It hurts!

LANDON: Hold on, dearest. Keep breathing.

SOUND: GUNSHOT

SOUND: ZOMBIE MOANS

CHAMBERS: Get out of my way, you maggots!

FRED: Come ON, June!

JUNE: I have to see how it ends!

SOUND: GUN SHOT

JUNE: [gasp] Or not!

SOUND: ZOMBIES MOAN

PLASMUS: Let go! don’t touch me! Ew! Does anyone have some purell?

PAMELA: [very weak] Landon? What… [gasp] What are you thinking?

LANDON: Is it hard to implant the top hat device?

PLASMUS: It’s quite simple really–the connections are made remotely inside the wiring, so the longer it is on, the more enmeshed the interfaces become–

LANDON: Take this.

SOUND: CLANG OF DOG’S UNIT

PLASMUS: What do you–? [realizing] Oh.

MUSIC

INTERVIEWER: But the zombies didn’t harm Mr. Chambers?

JUNE: He wanted – Landon wanted for him to stand in a human court for trial.

FRED: He said something about rotting in hell, but his accent was getting really thick.

JUNE: He was crying!

FRED: He’s a computer. I mean, the voice, at least, is computerized. Why would it get choked up?

INTERVIEWER: [to camera] Even now, Chambers is standing trial for the murder of Mrs. Pamela Frost. While the videographic evidence is very convincing, the lack of an actual body has been a point hammered on by the defense.

MUSIC

SOUND: CRACKLE of STATIC, THEN FOCUS

SOUND: [both are clearly computerized]

LANDON: Can’t broadcast too long, don’t want you to trace us.

PAMELA: We want to reach out to everyone who has been affected by the blight that is Tammuz.

LANDON: Know this–relief is coming soon. For now, just walk away, wherever you are. We’ll find you.

PAMELA: And Merry Christmas, everyone.

SOUND: HIGH PITCHED WHISTLE

SOUND: ZOMBIE MOANS FILL SOUNDSCAPE

END