INT. BATHROOM -- MORNING
A dim light bulb hangs from an exposed wire. Crumbling walls,
water dripping from the ceiling, skittering roaches along the
APRIL, early 20s, pretty, in a threadbare brown uniform,
stares at the reflection of her clear brown eyes in the
broken mirror. She squares her shoulders, grimaces and speaks
to her reflection.
Pride is my enemy. Pride is my
weakness. Pride is my curse.
She pulls her hair into a severe bun. Forces herself to
Though forsaken, I am humble. Though
forsaken, I obey. Though, forsaken,
I die well.
Happiness is an allusion. Destiny is
my deserved darkness. Misery is my
She tenses, bites her lower lip. Intensely intones.
HELP me believe. HELP me to be truly
humiliated. HELP me to accept
misery. HELP me not to hope.
Hope is useless.
EXT. UNDERGROUND CITY STREET -- MORNING
Dim, grimy streets. Mud. Dripping water. Flickering lights
and flashing electrical wires. MEN and WOMEN staring at their
feet as they slowly and silently make their way to work.
They pass the moldy walls of a large, decrepit cafe. Its
flickering neon sign, half burned out, flashes its name -- THE
Along the walls, JOHN, 40s, long, greasy hair, in rags, sits
and stares up at April as she hurries up the sidewalk.
In his eyes, pleading.
April stops, surreptitiously stares up and down the street.
Just this once more.
Just wait --
-- there's always hope.
April looks anxiously around.
You can't say that. Dangerous.
There is, you know.
INT. THE FORSAKEN -- DAY
Stained walls. Dirty windows. Mud on the floor. Shuffling and
murmuring CUSTOMERS sitting at the tables and booths.
April is rushing, carrying several plates on her arms,
gliding as she maneuvers gracefully between the tables.
She riles the customers with her quick and "unseemly"
movements. Several murmur to one another.
A LARGE MAN stands. His voice booms.
Slow down, miss. Your efficiency
will make you proud and haughty.
April slows, shuffles to his table.
(sing song cadence)
Forgive me. Pride is my enemy. Pride
is my weakness. Pride is my curse.
Misery is our justified reward.
He nods. Satisfied with the response.
She bows her head to him, continues to the next table, now
purposely slow and deliberate.
INT. BREAK ROOM -- LATER
April, barely visible in the gloom, is sitting alone at a
rickety table, picking over a customer's plate of leftovers.
She's whispering her affirmations.
Pride is my enemy. Pride is ...
She trails off as a large rat emerges from a hole. Its
whiskers are twitching as it sniffs April's food.
April smiles, beaming.
Festus. Come. Eat. A feast. I
thought you had left us.
Festus allows April to stroke his back as he chews on the
April laughs out loud at him, forgetting herself.
Behind her, MABEL, the dour and elderly owner of the cafe has
crept in. She silently watches April preening the rat. She
smiles, but she's not beaming.
The rat jumps, scurries back into his hole. April turns, sees
Mabel, gasps ... then droops. She stares at the floor.
I'm so sorry. So sorry. Misery is my
justified reward. I --
-- Will receive your justified
reward. You will be reported to the
Please. Not again. Last time they
... Please --
-- Don't "please" me, Missy. I saw
that smile. I heard that laugh. Who
are you, of all people, to flaunt
the rules? A snot-nosed nothing!
I'm honestly trying to not to hope
... I can't ... I --
-- I DON'T care. Now have the decency
to shut up. You CAN do that, can't
EXT. POLICE STATION -- LATER
A big CONCRETE BUILDING, brightly illuminated with
non-flickering lights. POLICE OFFICERS in neat, clean
uniforms, sternly glare, as they survey the riff-raff
trudging along the city's grimy streets.
April, her head down, is herded up the stairs and through the
glass doors by a huge OFFICER.
INT. POLICE STATION -- CONTINUOUS
The Officer and April stand, waiting for an elevator.
Hopelessness is not too difficult to
muster now, is it?
INT. HALL OF PUNISHMENT -- LATER
Marble floor. Comfortable lighting. Green plants and water
fountains burbling in the background.
April and the Officer stand in front of the BENCH where
CALVIN, 50s, obese, dressed in a huge, gold embroidered robe,
ogles at April.
So, officer, she's here because she
laughed at a rat?
This is not her first offense.
For laughing at a rat you're asking
that she be OUTSIDED?
April's face is turned to the floor, as she shifts nervously
on her feet and wrings her hands.
There's more, but we don't wish to
compromise our informant.
(leering at April)
I'm sure there are "other" ...
Will you force my hand?
Calvin ignores the Officer. Stares at April.
As I was saying, there are, perhaps,
other "punishments" on the table.
Don't you think so, officer?
The Officer turns, signals to someone outside the door.
A TALL MAN with a scraggly beard, hair neatly combed,
casually dressed, strides up to the bench.
This is our informant. It is his job
to root out dangerous criminals,
like this girl, and inform of us of
So HE'S the one who saw her laughing
at the rat?
No, he's the one who heard this girl
Sedition? Please. Her?
April is still staring at the floor, but she looks up, sees
the MAN, recognizes him.
That's not my name.
Are you okay? Did I do something to
get you in trouble?
"John" as he's called Upside,
pretends to be a beggar, to find
those who would betray their
assigned positions to "help" him.
(looking at "John")
This criminal has, on several
occasions, approached "John" and
offered him food and words of
And these are offenses that will
lead to her being OUTSIDED?
Alone, they are serious offenses,
especially when repeated, but they
are not sedition.
Calvin brightens, rubs his pudgy hands.
So, other "options" are still on the
The Officer clears his throat, deepens his voice for dramatic
On several occasions, the criminal
has encouraged "John" with these
words, "there's always hope."
SURELY he misunderstood. Were these
words recorded? And if so, why have
waited so long to arrest this girl?
We were waiting to see if she had
accomplices ... Unfortunately the
recordings have been lost.
No proof, then?
She IS guilty!
April clears her throat. Speaks quietly.
I didn't disagree with him, sir. I
felt so sorry for him, cold --
-- You told him "there's always
April shifts nervously.
I didn't disagree, I'm trying to
overcome my doubt, but --
-- SHUT UP! Take her away, Officer.
She's obviously guilty. And stupid.
INT. UPWARDS TUNNEL -- DAY
TWO EXECUTIONEERS in PROTECTIVE SUITS AND MASKS, lead April
up towards the dim light at the top of the tunnel. They
roughly push her when she slips on the mud.
(muffled through mask)
Move, crazy b**. Supper's waiting.
You're keeping me from it.
April is shaking, cold and scared.
"Always hope," eh?
I don't think so.
EXT. OUTSIDE -- MINUTES LATER
They've arrived. Dark clouds. A wasteland of dirt and rock,
mounds of stones where buildings once stood. No plants, no
trees, just a persistent whistling, cold wind.
A STEEL STAKE, driven into the ground. The Executioners chain
April to it. She's shivering uncontrollably.
Here's to "hope."
April stares through his mask into his eyes, tears rolling
down her cheeks.
As they turn back to the tunnel.
There IS hope.
She laughs, almost giddy.
Executioner One turns on his heels and slams his gloved fist
into her mouth, knocking out teeth and causing the blood to
Now you can "hope" you bleed to
death before you freeze to death.
They laugh and leave.
EXT. OUTSIDE -- NIGHT
Pure darkness. April is barely hanging on. Suddenly A BEAM OF
LIGHT illuminates her. The wind calms. A BUTTERFLY, one wing
white, one wing blue flutters slowly down.
April smiles when it lands on her nose.
And then she is GONE. Two butterflies flutter upwards.
EXT. OUTSIDE -- DAY
The two Executioners stare at the empty chains. Two tulips
are growing beside the stake, one blue, one white. They try
to pull them up but they won't budge.
EXT. OUTSIDE -- CENTURIES LATER
Bright sun. Flowering prairie grass as far as the eye can
see. Trees in the distance. Thousands and thousands of blue
and white butterflies fluttering above the grass.
Over the hill, the laughter of CHILDREN as they play. They
appear from over the mound, find a red and white tulip, try
to pull them out of the ground...