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01/07/01: Welcome to the Fold (Part three)
by The Gline

INT. ELIASíS STUDY -- DAY                (MONTHS LATER)

The amount of paperwork has exploded.  Many more blowups and
copies from the graphic novel are pinned up everywhere.
Thereís been a lot of work done here in the past several
months.  Harunaís face is everywhere: peering out from
drawings, in blowups, and on and on.

Elias is clearly teetering into obsession.  Heís like a high
school kid decorating his room with photos of his
girlfriend.

Elias slides PAGES into an envelope, along with a DISK.
 

INT. RESTAURANT -- NIGHT

Elias hands the envelope to Sasha.
 
                         ELIAS
          The first piece of what I hope to be a
          long and fruitful series.
 
                         SASHA
          That makes two of us.  Congratulations,
          by the way.
 
                         ELIAS
          Oh, thanks. -- Iím still toying with
          where a lot of this is going to go.  I
          mean, I might reverse myself
          completely!
 
                         SASHA
          People love surprises.  Whatever you
          think will keep them reading and
          interested.  I trust your tastes.
 
                         ELIAS
          Thatís a good feeling.

They toast.
 

THE ENVELOPE IN SASHAíS HANDS

Is now being taken down a corridor by Sasha herself.
As she walks, she passes a SEAL etched into the floor, which
FILLS THE FRAME.  It reads:
 
                 DEPARTMENT OF ANTI-SEDITION
                   AND CULTURAL MANAGEMENT
 
                     "NOTHING IN EXCESS"
 

INT. OFFICES OF ANTI-SEDITION

It looks like a government office: desks, cubicles,
doorways, people rushing about and looking busy.  Sasha
smiles and says hello in return.  She knows exactly where
sheís going.  She has the brisk air of authority.

She works here.  This is her real job.
 

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM

Sasha is greeted at the door by a young-looking AIDE.
 
                         AIDE
          Weíre ready when you are.
 
                         SASHA
          Thanks.

She gets up at the podium at the front of the room and faces
ten rows of YOUNG RECRUITS.  All of them standing at
attention.
 
                         SASHA
          Be seated.

With a RUMBLE of movement and SCRAPING chairs, they sit
down.

Now begins a very rapid series of intercuttings:
 

ON A GRAPHIC DISPLAY -- ELIASíS "HARUNA" STORY

The first chapter APPEARS on a computer screen in CLOSEUP as
Sasha speaks OVER it.  Someone is laying out the story for
publication.
 
                         SASHA (V.O.)
          Ladies and gentlemen, the next six
          weeks of your life will be the most
          grueling time you have ever spent, and
          you will thank me for every second of
          it.
 

BACK TO SCENE
 
                         SASHA
          You are being charged with the
          responsibility of managing the cultural
          direction of this country  --  and, by
          proxy, the rest of the world as well.
          This will not be an easy job.
 

IN AN ALLEYWAY  --  HANDBILLS ON A WALL

In TIMELAPSE we see handbills pasted up advertising movies,
records, books; each of them fade over time, are torn down,
pasted over.  Again and again.
 
                         SASHA (V.O.)
          As Iím sure you all know, the motto of
          the Anti-Sedition Division is "Nothing
          in excess".  Meaning that we cannot and
          will not allow the monopolization of
          culture by any one set of thoughts or
          interests.
 

BACK TO SCENE

The recruits listen with serious faces.
 
                         SASHA
          Culture is too ephemeral, too anarchic,
          too slippery to be allowed to dictate
          the direction of civilization.  Only
          men of policy, not fantasy, can do that
          correctly.
 

A CROWD IN A MOVIE THEATER

Hooting and whooping at the screen.
 
                         SASHA (V.O.)
          Up until very recently, it was allowed
          to run more or less unchecked, and
          people were allowed to cultivate their
          interests freely.
 

ON THE THEATER SCREEN  --  A LAWYER DRAMA

A bit of courtroom-theatrics that has the crowd cheering.
 
                         SASHA (V.O.)
          Sometimes those interests provoked them
          to make changes in their real lives...
          whether or not those changes benefited
          society as a whole.
 

BACK TO SCENE

Sashaís face is composed and professional.
 
                         SASHA
          Eventually, we took the initiative, and
          started managing reactions to culture  --
          making sure that whatever reactions
          came about were localized and isolated.
 

IN AN ALLEYWAY  --  A SET OF COSTUME PLAYERS

Exiting a building slowly, tearing off their wigs and shirts
and flinging them into the trash.
 
                         SASHA (V.O.)
          Your work will involve directing the
          effects of cultural products  --  limiting
          their impact and defusing their
          ultimate importance.
 

A PILE OF PAPERBACK BOOKS FED INTO A SHREDDER

Each is marked: UNSOLD: TO BE DESTROYED.
 
                         SASHA (V.O.)
          Censorship  --  explicit control over
          thoughts and words  --  isnít needed.
          Censoring something explicitly fires
          interest.  Diverting interest to
          something else... thatís far more
          effective.
 

BACK TO SCENE

Sasha surveys the recruits.
 
                         SASHA
          Okay.  Canned speech over.  Now for the
          fresh meat: All of you have been chosen
          to assist me in possibly the single
          most important assignment that Anti-
          Sedition has come up with in years.

She touches a switch and brings up Eliasís face on a wall
screen behind her.
 
                         SASHA
          Elias Marloweís new book is currently
          being serialized in both print and
          electronic formats.  Iíve seen the
          first pieces of it, and itís guaranteed
          to stir up a great deal of interest.
          Your jobs are to make sure that
          interest remains safely dilute.
 

SPLIT SCREEN SEQUENCE

On the left half of the screen are the more "public" parts
of the Elias Marlowe Project, while on the right half, we
see the actual machinations of Anti-Sedition on each part of
that project.

LEFT: Elias in front of a crowd of fans, with COMING SOON:
HARUNA! posters behind him.

RIGHT: Sasha looks over the press releases for the
forthcoming book with an AIDE.
 
                         SASHA
          You leaked the uncorrected proofs to
          that guy who slammed his last book,
          right?  Iíd like to see if we can get
          him to publish a negative review, get
          some flames going between them before
          this thing even hits the streets.

LEFT: Rough sketches of Haruna costumes transform into the
real thing, worn by the costume players.

RIGHT: Sasha reads over an essay titled "Why I Am No Longer
A Costume Player".
 
                         SASHA
          See, the drive-by criticisms, the
          potshots from the outside, those never
          work.  You need to get disgruntled
          people, like this guy.  People whoíve
          walked out.  This is great!
 

INT. ELIASíS STUDY -- FIVE MONTHS LATER -- DAY

The pictures have been taken down from the corkboard.
A neat PACKAGE sits on Eliasís desk, labeled: "HARUNA THE
BRAVE, PART ONE".

Elias is in the bathroom, shaving with great care.
 

INT. DENKERíS -- AFTERNOON

Another huge crowd has crammed themselves into Denkerís to
hear Elias speak.  Signs read "PRE-ORDER ĎHARUNA THE BRAVEí
HERE!"

Arranged around the store are CONCEPTUAL DESIGNS of the main
characters -- Haruna, the Prince, her cohorts -- that are
close to what we saw in Eliasís fantasies.
 
                         ELIAS
          Actually, I was quite pleasantly
          surprised at how fast everything came
          together.  I guess when you know you
          can have all the time off, thereís no
          pressure, everything comes that much
          faster!

Laughter.  An audience member sticks up his hand.
 
                         AUDIENCE MEMBER
          Are you planning to oversee any of the
          costume-play clubs for HARUNA?
 

FLASH SHOT -- INT. DRESSING ROOM

Where dozens of COSTUME PLAYERS are garbing themselves after
the concept designs we saw.  Eliasís answer OVERLAPS:
 
                         ELIAS (V.O.)
          Well, Iíve generally taken a pretty
          laissez-faire stance with the costume
          players.  What they want to do is up to
          them, of course...
 

INT. SASHAíS OFFICE -- NIGHT

Sasha sits with FIVE OTHER SEDITION BUREAU MEMBERS.  On a
whiteboard behind them: "ĎHARUNAí COSTUME PLAYER STRATEGY".
 
                         SASHA
          David, the HARUNA concept design books
          are your job.  Louise, head up the
          Criticism Committee for this one.  I
          want at least two -- no, three pseudo-
          underground mags taking pot-shots at
          HARUNA and the costume players before
          the thing even gets to shelves.  Letís
          save ourselves a step and get the guy
          who made fun of the VALIS books.  Itíll
          fit perfectly.
 
                         ANOTHER AUDIENCE MEMBER (V.O.)
          Mr. Marlowe, have you heard about a
          magazine called "SCORPIONIC"?
 

BACK TO SCENE

Where Elias is still fielding questions.
 
                         ELIAS
          Iíve heard about it.  I havenít
          bothered to get my fingers dirty with
          it.
               (laughter)
          Itís just some loser guy thumbing his
          nose at me, saying I canít write, that
          my books are just a shill to the
          imagination of people who canít dream,
          something like that...

As Elias speaks, his words are OVERLAPPED INTO...
 

INT. GARAGE -- DAY

Where the editor of SCORPIONIC is editing his government-
sponsored fake anti-Elias fanzine.
 
                         EDITOR OF "SCORPIONIC" (V.O.)
          ...a shill to the imagination of a
          world of people who canít dream.  Live
          out our lives in your little tin boxes,
          people, and let Elias Marlowe do your
          dreaming for you.  He delivers escapism
          to a world where there is no escape....

OVERLAP INTO:
 

INT. SASHAíS OFFICE

Where Sasha is reading out loud the rest of the article.
The Editor smirks from across the table.
 
                         SASHA
          "...where there is no escape, except
          into whatever pre-approved government
          glory hole has been drilled for you."

Sasha looks up, grinning.
 
                         SASHA
          I wish I could write like that.
 
                         EDITOR
          Hey, I had an idea.  Díyou think you
          could arrange some kind of trouble for
          me to get into over this?
 
                         SASHA
          What kind of trouble.
 
                         EDITOR
          You know -- get busted, knocked around
          a little, couple of letters from jail.
          Doesnít have to be about this
          specifically.  But it adds some spice,
          you know?  Adds realism.
 
                         SASHA
               (smirking)
          Iíll see what I can work out.
 
                         EDITOR
               (also smirking)
          That is just too cool.
 

ELIASíS FACE, ON A VIDEO DISPLAY

As he answers another question.
 

WIDER -- "THE WHITE ROOM"

Drenched in antiseptic bone-white light -- maybe through
fluorescent tubes behind plastic panels, or arc lights
diffused through synthetic fabric sheets hanging floor-to-
ceiling from the walls.  A place of incredible psychic
coldness.

We see that the display is part of a GANG OF EQUIPMENT,
watched by unseen eyes.  No, not unseen: somewhere in the
WHITE-OUT BLUR that is the rest of this room we can make out
vague, out-of-focus smudges that might be people...

A side door GAPES OPEN to BLACKNESS, and we plunge
through...
 

INT. "THE DARK ROOM"

For moments we see nothing -- and then from the top of the
screen we see MOLTEN RIVULETS OF METAL DRIPPING DOWN, taking
shape in a MOLD.

It takes a full thirty seconds or so for the hot metal to
assume shapes that donít look familiar.  And then they do.
A GUN.

The red glow glints off the EYES AND FACE of A JOWLY, HEAVY-
SET MAN, standing to one side and observing as the metal
flows into place and cools.  His name is JONAH SLAZENGER:
old, taut, with a skullcap of white hair and a chiseled
Roman profile.

He speaks to a YOUNG MAN WITH GOGGLES at the mold.
 
                         SLAZENGER
          Answer me honestly... Do you ever think
          about going back to making toys and
          costume-play props and things like
          that?
 
                         YOUNG MAN WITH GOGGLES
          Well, sure.
 
                         SLAZENGER
          Howís it stack up to this?
 
                         YOUNG MAN WITH GOGGLES
          They never let me make guns, thatís for
          damn sure.  Especially not working
          ones!

They both laugh together.
 
                         SLAZENGER
                         Itís a good thing you donít miss it.
                              (beat)
          The votes are back in.  Itís four to
          one with one abstention.  When the road
          is clear, we move to bring Mr. Marlowe
          into the fold.
 
                         YOUNG MAN WITH GOGGLES
          Who abstained?
 
                         SLAZENGER
          Canít tell you that, and you know it.
 
                         YOUNG MAN WITH GOGGLES
          Well, it wasnít me.
 
                         SLAZENGER
          So you can draw your own conclusions.
          Weíve got a world of important work
          waiting for us, and we canít get
          distracted with petty squabbling or,
          uh... unapproved actions.

FLASH SHOT of the gunman being blown away by the cops...

Goggle Man sighs and returns to his work as Slazenger re-
enters:
 

INT. WHITE ROOM

Where we can now see the other members of this little crew:

JAQUAYS (30s, male, Euro) -- slender, wide-eyed, pale.
YING QUAN (20s, female, Asian) -- willowy, languid, an
insolent mouth.
FOSTER (30s, male, black) -- chunky, heavy jaw, slightly
clumsy.

Ying Quan and Foster are the two we saw in the garage and in
the restaurant earlier.

All turn from the monitors as Slazenger re-enters.
 
                         SLAZENGER
          How is our intelligence?
 
                         FOSTER
          Anti-Sedition doesnít have enough
          pieces to be dangerous yet.  We took
          out their weak link the other night,
          anyway.
 
                         SLAZENGER
          You thinking about gunning for Miss
          Sasha on top of it?
 
                         FOSTER
          No, sir.
 
                         SLAZENGER
          Good, because you donít even think
          about it without my say-so.  Whatís the
          lady up to?
 
                         YING QUAN
          I understand they already have their
          cross-propaganda machines rolling.  An
          editor of some fake scumbag underground
          newspaper, among other things...
 
                         JAQUAYS
          I can remove him.
 
                         SLAZENGER
          Good.  Jaquays, thatís your homework.
          Foster, Ying Quan, Iíll need you for
          when we go to pick up our new...

ELIAS, on the monitor, laughs in response to an unheard
joke.
Slazenger eyes the image.
 
                         SLAZENGER
          ...obstacle.
               (beat)
          The fuse is lit, people.  Snap to it.

They move.
 

Gline's script is certainly shaping up much better than his previous screenplay effort, "Sex Slave Sysops against the Love Gods of Gor."