“Scars and Stripes Forever”
by Chris Pranger
-A tall, toned bald man, (For reference, looks like Jason Stathom), with a scar on his right cheek walks down the street, passing by a number of people as he goes, turning to look at some as they turn to look at him. Eventually he walks into a grocery store.
Narration: Ever wonder if the life you’re leading isn’t the one you’re supposed to? I mean sure, everyone gets restless now and again due to their job or school or any number of things. I mean, who hasn’t done the typical superhero stare upwards and asked themselves, “Why not me, too?” Sure, I’m no different than you or anyone else, but then again maybe I am. I just don’t know it yet. And excuse me if I say so, but neither do you.
-The man grabs a shopping cart and begins trekking around the store.
Narration: Yeah, we’ve all wandered the grocery aisle, hoping that around some corner a robbery will suddenly break out and you’ll be in the perfect situation to avert it. But how often does that happen?
-Man imagines seeing someone with a gun rush by him.
Narration: You almost begin to cry as you wish something special would happen. Everyone is just waiting for that call. Everyone wants to see themselves as some sort of badass.
-Man comes up to a woman with a cart blocking the way. The man gives her a stern look and pauses for a moment. He then breaks and looks helpless.
Man: Um…excuse me…
-Woman pulls her cart to the side and lets him pass.
Narration: But hardly anyone ever is. Most people are just too kindhearted to be that commanding. To be considered a true badass, you really have to be without a sense of morals to the point that nothing noticeably frightens you, and few people ever truly get to that point.
-Man is browsing the cereal aisle now.
Narration: The usual drag is where we normal people find our bliss, as well as our greatest anguish. In the moment when you realize that finding your favorite cereal on sale is the highlight of your day, you begin to contemplate whether there should be more than this. More than “Lucky Stars” or “Fruity Wheels” or some other generic copy of another generic copy. And you get angry and you want justice. You feel like someone should write a letter to someone about this and get something changed and you get fired up on the inside, a new passion burning to stick it to the cereal companies or the congress people that’d allow the cereal companies to do such a thing to the little guys and you come up with all sorts of wonderful ways to say “screw you” without actually having to be so simplistic and crude. And then what do you do?
-Man is at the checkout with a clerk scanning some cereal marked “Lucky Stars.”
Clerk: (Dull and bored). You know, these are my favorite?
Man: (Slightly too excited). Mine too! And they’re on sale!
-Man sadly walks out of the store carrying his plastic bags full of groceries. A woman and her child are arguing loudly at the check stand with the kid throwing a fit. He walks out the front door and gets a puff of smoke blown in his face from a man holding a cigarette.
Narration: It’s just too difficult to stir up trouble. Regular, good people aren’t willing to sacrifice peacefulness and regularity to pursue that life on the edge. Being the squeaky wheel isn’t worth it to them when they think about it long enough. “Squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Yeah, and sometimes the squeaky wheel gets replaced.
-Keeps walking down the street, accidentally gets bumped by a woman and drops a bag.
Man: Oh, sorry, excuse me.
Woman: Yeah, sorry yourself, pal.
Narration: It takes a lot to be that special someone. We all claim to want to be special, but none of us are prepared for the sort of work required to become something more than ordinary or even someone worthy of notice.
-People bump Man as they walk by him trying to pick up his groceries.
Narration: So just like you, I’m going to be a normal person with nothing overtly special about them. I’m going to be quiet and complacent and good. I’m going to go through my life starring upwards and saying “Yeah, that could be me up there,” but I’m never going to take the steps required to fly.
-Man finally gets up and keeps walking.
Narration: I’m probably not worth the time or effort to listen to, but maybe you’ll find something you can relate to. I’m a pretty nice person once you get to know me, albeit somewhat boring. Actually, you probably shouldn’t even bother. I wouldn’t if I were in your shoes. My name is Doug, and I’m about as worthless and ordinary as a person comes.
-Doug keeps walking down the street. A ways down his other bag tears open, forcing him to bend down and start picking up more groceries.
-A short, fat man, (for reference looks like Kevin James), passes Doug on the street as he’s picking up his groceries. The man is eating an apple.
Narration: My name is David, (Tosses his apple into an open convertible), and I’m &@$%#*! awesome.
-David keeps walking down the street.
Narration: I’ve seen about all there is to see in this world. I know what the sun looks like as it comes up in the middle of the desert. I know how the snow glistens at sunset on the top of a mountain peak. I know what the insides of a douche-bag looks like when he’s sputtering for dear life. And you know what?
-Shoves the same woman that bumped into Doug. She slams into the side of a building and sends her purse into the air, scattering all sorts of contents about. David just keeps walking, never changing his look the whole time.
Narration: I’m bored.
-David walks into the grocery store.
Narration: Trouble with doing everything is, once you’ve done it all, what the hell else is there to do? Exactly. Nothing. The trick is to make as much of your life as you possibly can. I find ways to entertain myself here and there.
-David sticks his arm out, knocking everything off the shelves as he walks down an aisle. A clerk sweeping the floor nearby gives him a dirty look.
Narration: Not everyone seems to find the humor.
-David walks up to the register holding a box of Nilla Wafers.
Narration: I could tell you stories that’d thrill your pants off in more ways than one. But right now I don’t feel like telling them.
-David pays the clerk and begins to walk out. A woman with her child sitting in a cart are having a disagreement as the child screams bloody murder.
Woman: What?! What am I supposed to do with you?!
Child: I don’t WANNA go to the store!
Woman: Well I can’t help that! Please, stop screaming!
-David walks by, stops in front of the cart, and slaps the child across the face. It instantly shuts up, more confused than hurt. David walks on.
Narration: There’s really only one thing that’s on my mind right now, and that’s finding where my other half went.
-David walks outside. Right outside the door a guy smoking a cigarette under a “No Smoking” sign blows smoke into David’s face. David grabs the guy’s cigarette, puts it out on the man’s face, and breaks his nose. David keeps walking, all still emotionless.
Narration: That’s a long story in of itself.
-David keeps walking off down the street as the man huddles over, clutching his face.
Narration: Maybe if you’re lucky I’ll tell it to you, but only out of sheer boredom.
Chapter 3: David is walking down a dark alley during nighttime, still eating his box of Nilla Wafers. He checks his watch.
Narration: It’s 10:03. Nearly my favorite time of day. And we’re here in a dark, depressing alleyway full of all manner of possible horrors. Nearly my favorite place to be at 10:03.
-A guy who looks like he’s on drugs stumbles out of the shadows shakily holding a knife.
Narration: Oh goodie, a coked-out thug needing his usual fix. Nearly my favorite person to meet in etc, at etc.
Coked-out thug: You know the drill, don’cha? Huh? You know what I need? Huh?
David: (Holds out his box of Nilla Wafers). I don’t suppose it’s a Nilla Wafer?
Coked-out thug: No no man, don’t be playin’ dumb.
-Little clock on the bottom of the panel ticks to 10:04.
David: Whatever, box is nearly empty anyway. (Turns it upside down, only crumbs fall out). Scratch that. My fat ass ate the last one. Many apologies.
Coked-out thug: I said stop playin’! Heh, hehe, just reach into your pocket, give me your wallet, and slowly, hah, just walk on outta here.
David: Don’t carry a wallet.
Coked-out thug: Then your purse.
David: Cute. That’s actually kinda clever for a druggie.
Coked-out thug: I said-
David: Yeah yeah, stop playin’. Heard you. (Checks his watch).
Coked-out thug: Then your watch. That worth somethin’?
David: (Still just looking at his watch). Nope.
Coked-out thug: Stop playing!
David: Hey, you remembered there are ‘G’s’ at the end of that word, huh?
Coked-out thug: Give me something!
-Stabs at David. The clock ticks to 10:05. The thug’s hand is caught by David’s.
Coked-out thug: What in the hell?!
-Panel reveals David to be in the body first seen on Doug.
David: Hey look at that. Looks like you’re %$@#&*, huh?
-Panel pulls back to a view of the building tops. A “KATHOOMP” is heard coming from the alleyway.
Narration: Ah, my favorite time of night.
Chapter 4: Dawn in Doug’s apartment. He slowly wakes up from bed in the same body we’ve seen him in previously. He stretches and walks into the bathroom.
Narration: I’m not one to complain over sleep. I absolutely love sleep. I’m a natural at it. Never have any trouble sleeping, which is odd since you see so many commercials promoting sleep-aides or something. “Have trouble sleeping?” “Have trouble waking up?” “Have trouble with bad dreams?” “Have trouble with good dreams?” “Have trouble with your bladder while sleeping?” “Sleeping with your boss’ wife?” With all these problems, I can’t decide whether I’m considered normal for sleeping so soundly…or if I’m the abnormal one.
-Doug turns the water on in the shower before dropping his towel and hopping in.
Narration: There is one strange thing about me. I always wake up feeling like I’ve been up all night. Not tired exactly, more invigorated. Almost like I’m still running off of adrenaline. And even more strange, I can almost see what I’ve been doing. Somewhat like dreams.
-Panels showing Doug doing all these things as he describes them.
Narration: I see myself running over rooftops and leaping around like I know what I’m doing. Not for any reason; just because I can. And getting in car chases. And fighting thugs in alleyways. Someone is living the exciting life I’d always kinda wanted to live. And it’s like it’s only at night.
-Turns the faucet off.
Narration: Dreams are kooky, huh?
-Steps out of the shower and over to the mirror. He wipes the foggy mirror with his hand, allowing him to see his reflection again.
Narration: There are still a few mysteries I have about myself, though. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m in excellent shape. (Flexes in front of the mirror, muscles pop).
Doug: (Smiles). Hah.
Narration: Strangest thing, I never particularly thought I’ve been all that good at working out or keeping a healthy diet. Must just be lucky.
-Walks out of the bathroom, next seen putting on a button-up shirt in front of the mirror again.
Narration: And then there’s the one thing I just can’t figure out at all. (Tilts his head, prominently showing the scar on his right cheek). I remember having this for years. Never been a bother, really. Just some scar on my right cheek. But the darndest thing.
-Tilts his head around with his hand, finally shrugging.
Narration: I have no clue where I got it. (Goes on dressing and walks out the front door in a suit and with a briefcase). You’d think with the scar being as prominent as it is, as clear and well defined, that it’d have to have been caused by some definite trauma. A fall, a car accident, a knife wound, something obvious. You don’t just wake up with a big ol’ scar on your face. And yet that’s exactly what it seems I did, because I have no clue, no fragment of a memory or anything, that would give me any idea as to where it came from and why.
-Doug leaves his apartment building and walks down the street, whistling as he goes, smiling and looking mostly happy.
Narration: I like to think it came from a sword fight or an epic battle on the edge of a cliff. (Doug randomly goes into a sward-fighting stance in the middle of the street, dancing about and fighting some invisible foe). Or maybe from the shrapnel caused from a plane crashing just in front of me after I gunned it down. (Doug now pretends to take down a plane with a gun turret). Or my most favorite, it was from a lion as it jumped at me, clawing wildly as I clawed wildly back. It nearly took my eye, but I strangled it to the ground, only to stun it of course, before hoisting it onto my back and tossing it back into its cage. (Doug pantomimes this, too. Finally he realizes that there have been people watching him on the street. He seems surprised and embarrassed, then straightens his tie and keeps walking like nothing ever happened). But that’s just me daydreaming. It doesn’t take me long to realize that I probably got it as a kid from falling off my bike and konking my head so that I don’t remember it. Something silly and boring like that. At least I’m still allowed to fantasize. Might as well make the most of my boring hike to my boring office as a boring tech-support employee. Did I mention boring?
-Doug walks into a building with the company name “Regal Tech” on the door.
Narration: Well, sure promises to be a boring day then, huh?
Secretary: (Waves slightly as Doug walks in). Morning Doug.
Doug: (Politely smiles and waves). Good morning!
Narration: I’m ashamed to say, I have no clue what her name is.
-Doug walks past a few cubicles. A man with his jacket off carrying a coffee mug wanders by Doug.
Coffee Guy: Yo, Dougie.
Doug: (Smiles). Hey…don’t call me that.
Coffee Guy: Yeah no problem Dougie-anyway, got a bit of a favor to ask you.
Doug: I actually just got here. Can I at least go sit down first?
Coffee Guy: Nope no time-Dougie, I’m gonna be heading out of town this next week, (pulls Doug in close), you know, take the mistress out and Get, It, ON, youknowwhatI’msayin’?
Narration: I don’t actually.
Doug: (Faking he does). Haha…yeah…
Coffee Guy: (Back to normal, still with his arm around Doug’s shoulder). So anyway, gonna need someone to cover my extra workload and since you’re such a reliable guy…(Somewhat backs away, shrugging).
Doug: Uh…maybe I’m not getting exactly what you’re asking…? Humor me, please?
Narration: Sadly, this I do know all too well.
Coffee Guy: Dougie, I told the boss you’d pick up my slack since you’re the best worker in this place and he was all for it, so thanks man-knew you’d understand.
Doug: (Coffee Guy walks away. Doug looks somewhat perplexed). Ye-yeah, no problem. But my name’s…Doug…please?
Coffee Guy: (Turns back around and points at Doug). You the man Dougie.
-Doug shakes his head and walks over to his cubicle.
Narration: This happens to me all the time. I’ve corrected that guy more times than I know. It does give me some pleasure to also be oblivious to his name as well. He’s just some jerk I work with, and as it seems, some jerk I’m helping get a raise.
-Doug takes his jacket off, puts it on the back of his desk, and goes about typing at his computer.
Narration: That’s about all there is to my workday, or better yet, my day in general. You might as well stop talking to me now, because it’s not getting more interesting than this.
Scene 5: Daylight as David walks down the street, wincing from the sunlight.
Narration: I really hate mornings. I’ve never been a morning person, but after the body switch I’ve had new reasons to like mornings even less.
-David checks his watch as he walks down the street.
Narration: Great, it’s hardly 10 am. Which means I’ve got to get some food fast before I get the shakes and going into a diabetic coma.
-David walks into a coffee shop. Coffee Guy walks in right in front of him, still carrying his mug of coffee.
Coffee Guy: S’cuse me guy, I’m runnin’ a bit late at the moment.
David: Aren’t we all?
Narration: Some people just know how to push my buttons, though at this time of day it’s really not too difficult. Just look at this guy. He’s wearing suspenders. Who the hell wears those anymore? I haven’t worn those since my parents made me for church. I’d rather just go pantsless before wear suspenders. Granted, with my fat ass as it is, it doesn’t seem like much chance of my pants falling off.
Coffee Guy: (Standing right in front of David in line). Coffee, huh? Man, can’t get enough of this stuff sometimes.
David: Yeah, it’s almost like, I don’t know, you’re addicted, huh?
Coffee Guy: Hah, yeah it feels that way doesn’t it?
David: (Coffee Guy turns around). No you are addicted dumbass. I wasn’t being facetious.
Coffee Guy: (Turns around again, looking somewhat angry). Excuse me? Did you just insult me?
David: Not really. Calling you a dumbass is like saying a sphincter’s Sh*tfaced.
Coffee Guy: (Really confused). What?!
David: Yeah, I insulted you. I’ll leave it at that.
Coffee Guy: (Turns around). I don’t believe some people in this town…
David: Who the hell brings their own mug to a coffee shop anyway?
Coffee Guy: (Turns around again). Uh, maybe someone who enjoys their coffee hot and portable. Duh.
David: Like coffee’s not hot and portable otherwise.
Coffee Guy: Hey, I like doing my part to reduce waste and help save the environment, alright? What have you done lately?
David: I killed a guy and buried him in Central Park. Not only am I reducing an entire person’s worth of waste, but I’m assisting the trees with biodegradable compost.
Coffee Guy: (Turns around). Hah, yeah right.
David: (Taps Coffee Guy on the shoulder). No, we’re not done here environmental boy. I can’t imagine how much horse crap you talk about saving the environment, but I bet it’s exactly one hell of a lot.
Coffee Guy: (Rolls his eyes and turns around in a huff). Whatever guy. My skinny ass gets laid on a bi-nightly basis. I doubt you’ve even seen your dick in years.
Narration: That hurts.
-Flash of David in the shower in the morning. He looks down and in the panel all we can see is his stomach jutting out.
-David sucks in. We don’t actually see him look down again but we know what he’s done.
David: (Starts nodding and smiling, pleased with himself). Yeah hah, that’s what I’m talking about.
-We flash back to David currently staring Coffee Guy down.
David: Hey, let me see your mug for a second. (Reaches out and grabs Coffee Guy’s mug).
Coffee Guy: Hey what’re you doing?!
David: (Slams Coffee Guy across the face with the mug, breaking it and showering Coffee Guy with coffee). What a shame. (Everyone around him looks shocked and speechless). Dickwad… (David shakes his head and steps forward to the front of the line). Hi there. Gimmie an orange juice and a bran muffin, please.
Scene 6: Back in Doug’s cubicle, we see Doug busy at work typing again.
-Coffee Guy walks by, his shirt stained with coffee and his face bruised, no mug in his hand. Doug looks up and smiles.
Narration: Well, looks like fun things do happen at work sometimes.
Scene 7: David is walking down the street, eating his muffin and drinking his orange juice.
-David finishes his muffin, crumples up the wrapper and tosses it into a baby carriage as a mother passes by. David keeps walking, watching the park and a fountain in the middle of it.
David: (Checks his watch). And with all that, I’ve killed hardly twenty minutes.
-David looks up and sees a man in a suit and sunglasses walk by the fountain, staring at David. The guy touches his ear and stops for a second. David sees this and looks around, seeing another guy a little ways off do the same. They start to run at David.
David: Oh hell.
-David turns around and starts running. The two agents begin chasing him. David runs into the street, running across the street at a stopwalk. The red hand flashes but David runs anyway. A car honks at David. David turns to the car and slams his fist down on the hood, denting it.
Guy in Car: (Leans out his window). The hell man?!
David: (Shrugs). Shouldn’t have honked.
-David keeps running down the sidewalk. An agent appears in front of him, running at him. Doug jumps over a homeless man on the sidewalk and keeps running, throwing his orange juice at the agent who flails at this action.
-David runs back into panel, grabs the homeless guy’s quarter cup, tosses it at the agent, and kicks the homeless guy before running away again.
Narration: I’ve been good to keep myself from getting caught for a while now, and on a good day a year ago this wouldn’t have been a problem at all.
-David begins clutching his chest, wheezing and breathing extremely hard.
Narration: When I find the guy who has my body, I’m going to kick him in the throat.
-David keeps running. He passes the baby carriage again and tips it over. The agents chasing him leap over it.
-Several government cars and vans squeal into the area, surrounding David. David stops running and looks around, panicked. In the confusion, a van opens and several agents hop out as the agents chasing David come up behind and shove him into the van. The door closes and all the vehicles take off, leaving the scene as if nothing happened.
David: (In the confusion in the van. Several agents have guns drawn on him. David’s got his hands up. He doesn’t look scared more than just winded). Okay, you got me. All the government’s money and it took you almost a year to find my fat ass.
-One agent with a high number of badges on his chest and a grey mustache pushes himself forward.
Agent: Guns down everyone. He’s not going to give us any trouble.
David: Yeah I’m too tired for that.
Agent: See? Guns down.
-Everyone puts their guns down. David instantly looks at the smallest agent near him, slaps him, and takes his gun, pointing it at the agent. All guns go up again.
Agent: (His hands up, trying to calm everyone down). Ah ah ah, come on now. He’s just testing us.
David: (Looks around, a bit tense. He finally drops his guard, taking the gun apart in one swift motion before scratching the back of his head). Meh, it’s not worth it. (A few agents leap onto David and throw him to the floor of the van, flipping him onto his stomach and grabbing his arm behind him). Hey hey hey! Watch it there!
Agent: (Moves towards David, kneels down on one knee and bends down to David’s face). Are we going to be good?
David: (Scoffs). Yeah yeah, just let me up. (Agent nods at the other agents and David’s let up). So what d’you want?
Agent: You realize you’re not an easy man to track down?
David: Everyone says that. I’m no more difficult than most.
Agent: You look a lot different from what the files show.
David: (Rubs his face). Yeah, it’s taken some time for me to deal with that, too.
Scrawny Agent: (Looks David up and down, pulling down his sunglasses to squint). This is the guy we’ve been instructed to find?
David: Hey, I may not look like much but I assure you, I’m a badass.
Agent: This here is one of the most highly regarded agents ever to work for the United States government. Men, this is the famous Agent David Cuthbert.
-Everyone reacts amazed, some gasping and others whistling, all of them very impressed.
David: Well I wouldn’t say I’m famous, but…yeah, I’m pretty famous.
Agent: Agent Cuthbert, we’ve got-
David: (Wincing at the sound of his name). C’mon, cut back with the “Cuthbert” alright? It’s impossible to say without sounding like you’ve got a lisp. Just call me David.
Agent: Fine. Agent David-
David: And that just sounds dumb.
Agent: (Frustrated). We have a situation that we need you for.
David: I gathered as much. What’s going on that you’d need me so badly?
Agent: Not here. I’ll brief you more when we get to the Pentagon.
Scene 8: Doug is sitting once more at his cubicle, tapping his fingers in bordom, his face resting against his hand.
Narration: So I’ve been at work for nearly three hours now. That places the time at just past 1 in the afternoon.
-Doug looks up at the clock, and then back to his computer, which is blank.
Narration: And I’m done with my workload for the day. In fact, I’m done with my workload for the week, and that includes the extra that that coffee-stained jerk dumped on me.
-Doug rolls his eyes.
Narration: Granted, that extra bit isn’t done very well, but…
-Doug gets up, walking over to the break room.
Narration: I’m actually caught up for the next few months, more or less. I’ve always been extremely good at focusing on a task at hand. And if you ask how much focus is required for my job, the answer is basically “not much.” If I worked at top efficiency, I could run this entire company myself, but who has that sort of ambition?
-Doug begins stuffing his face with donuts, drinking a soda, and munching on a cookie.
Narration: I’ll admit, with all the spare time I’ve developed somewhat of a sweet tooth. I’d feel guilty about it if I didn’t look and feel like I was in peak physical shape. And I’ve been to the doctor to ask about cholesterol and all that-
-Doug sitting in a doctor’s office, shirt off, his body completely ripped. The doctor looks amazed.
Narration: I’m healthy enough for seven guys my age.
-Back in the break room with Doug opening another soda, making the total cans sitting next to him 5. A whole box of donuts is nearly gone.
Narration: It’s just frustrating, you know? I always get the distinct feeling someone else is having all the fun in my life.
Scene 9: The inside of the Pentagon. David is walking with Agent, surrounded by a number of other agents tagging along. David is reading a briefing sheet.
David: (Not looking up from the report). David.
Agent: David, I’ll make this as simple as possible. Are you familiar with Lady Liberty?
David: The concept or the person?
Agent: In this case the person. Back in the 40’s the US government was waist-deep in Project Liberty Ladies, which is where Lady Liberty came from.
David: The person?
Agent: Yes. More than two dozen women were tested and engineered to become super soldiers.
David: Engineered? As in we’re dealing with robots?
Agent: Excuse me, I meant genetically engineered. They’re human.
David: Okay, keep going.
Agent: For whatever reasons all of them retired except for one.
David: They’ve all been killed, right?
Agent: No, not all. Some just decided to retire. Anyway, the last in the project, Liberty Lady Number 27, decided to go public with her abilities, donning the moniker “Lady Liberty.”
Agent: Well she thought she was.
David: So the point to this: where do I come in?
Agent: Lady Liberty has been missing for the past two weeks. She was last seen on the East Coast, though at this point she could be anywhere. For more than a few reasons, we need her back.
David: She’s a figurehead, she’s got secrets, and she’s property of the US government.
Agent: Precisely. As you can see, we’re in somewhat of a situation, aren’t we?
David: So she’s been missing for two weeks? And you just now contacted me?
Agent: We’ve been searching for you for some time, actually. As I said before, you’re not an easy man to find. The bodywork clearly helped.
David: Uh, yeah.
Agent: And no, we didn’t put all our hopes in you and only you.
David: So good, get someone else to do it.
Agent: Everyone else we’ve sent is either missing or dead.
David: How many-?
Agent: Seventeen, not including the three guys who came back with severe mental problems.
David: Well I don’t think I’ll be able to help you, much as this sounds so terribly entertaining.
Agent: (They stop walking). Oh I don’t believe I’ve made myself clear. This is non-negotiable.
David: I could have guessed, but I still can’t help you.
Agent: And why exactly is that?
David: (Squirming a bit). You know, it’s, you know…
Agent: No I don’t. Humor me.
David: (Sighs). Look, yes, I’m technically this famous agent that everyone believes me to be, but at the current moment I just need some time to…find myself?
Agent: Well we’re on a short time clock. You have three days to straighten yourself out. I hope you can “find yourself” by then.
David: Yeah, me too.
Scene 10: It’s finally the evening and the end of Doug’s shift. The office is mostly empty, save for Doug sitting at his desk, clicking his mouse as he plays a game of Mindsweeper.
Narration: So that’s basically my day. It’s nearly 9 pm, and that means I finally get to go home. Kind of a shame. I feel so behind today.
-Shot of the computer screen. Doug’s beat a full-screened game of Mindsweeper in 5 seconds.
Narration: I wasn’t able to beat my high score.
Boss: (A man in a suit walks by Doug, pulling his jacket on. He has glasses and is balding on top. He walks by, stops, and walks back to see Doug). Doug? You’re still here?
Doug: (Stumbling a bit, nearly falling out of his chair). Mr. Findler! I’m sorry, I didn’t know-
Mr. Findler: (Smiles). Doug, it’s okay. I’m not mad or anything. (Doug sits up and sighs a sigh of relief). You doing alright son?
Doug: Me? Oh yes, I’m just fine. Just starting to get a little bit tired is all.
Mr. Findler: Well you’ve been at work a lot longer than any sane person should have to work. (Leans into Doug’s cubicle). You’re not insane are you?
Mr. Findler: (Laughs). I’m just kidding. C’mon, grab your coat; I’ll show you the door.
-Doug quickly grabs his coat and his briefcase before hurrying after Mr. Findler to the elevator. They pass by the receptionist first.
Receptionist: Night Mr. Findler.
Mr. Findler: Good night Wendy. Lock up and go home already.
Narration: Wendy. Remember, her name’s Wendy…
Mr. Findler: (Doug and Mr. Findler are now on the elevator). Doug, why are you still working here?
Doug: Uh…are you trying to fire me without actually firing me?
Mr. Findler: Hahaha, no, I’d hate to lose you. I know you’ve been covering multiple people’s workload. Haven’t you?
Doug: Maybe on occasion.
Mr. Findler: You don’t have to put up with it you realize. You are allowed to come talk to me if you’re getting bullied by anyone.
Narration: Is it just me or is this beginning to sound a little too “After School Special?”
Doug: Thanks I’ll…I’ll keep that in mind.
Mr. Findler: Let’s cut the crap here. Doug, why are you wasting your life working here?
Doug: Who me? I’m not wasting my life. At least…don’t think I am?
Mr. Findler: I’m a smart man, and you are. Trust me.
-Elevator reaches the ground floor. Doug and Mr. Findler step out and walk across the lobby.
Mr. Findler: Your mind is far too sharp to just do tedious computer work and Mindsweeper all day. If you’d like any vacation time, just let me know. You have a wife?
Doug: Well, fiancé. Soon to be wife.
Mr. Findler: Splurge. Go on an early honeymoon or something. Just do something to keep yourself from going crazy.
Doug: (They reach the door. Mr. Findler heads towards the parking garage). I’ll do my best. (Waves goodbye to Mr. Findler). I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow!
Mr. Findler: Go get some sleep. See you tomorrow! (Leaves).
-Doug begins walking down the sidewalk towards home.
Narration: So yes, I am engaged to a wonderfully beautiful Japanese woman by the name of Keiko. No relation to the whale by the way. We met on a-
-Doug stops, somewhat blank.
Narration: You know what? That’s not an interesting story at all.
-Doug keeps walking.
Narration: Anyway, we met, and that’s all that’s important. We’ve been dating for almost a year now, and basically we’re in love. Not even a fantastic story behind it all. We just met and fell in love. Sorry to disappoint. She’s very nice though. Very quiet as well, which works well enough for me since I’m rather dull. We match perfectly.
-Doug tries to hail a cab. They keep passing by him without stopping.
Narration: I apologize for not bringing her up sooner. You’d think that it’d be a pretty important detail to mention, but as I said, it’s just not that interesting to anyone but us. We just love each other. It’s not a passionate lustful romance that’d be interesting to hear. We haven’t even had sex, actually.
-Quick panel of Doug and Keiko huddled over a puzzle, smiling and laughing.
Narration: We prefer puzzles instead.
-Another quick panel of David and Keiko posing with tacky sweaters on, both with their eyes shut, their mouths wide with grins, and giving the peace sign.
Narration: One month we spent most of our nights knitting each other matching sweaters.
-One last quick panel of them sitting on a couch looking at each other over thick novels, giggling like little kids.
Narration: And mostly we just sit and read nearby each other. It’s amazing how close you can become when you hardly speak.
-Back to the street. Doug is getting more frustrated from being unable to hail a cab.
Narration: The wedding is in a few months. We’re pretty excited, but I’m sad to say I don’t even have a best men quite yet. I just…well I don’t know anyone who I’d want up there with me. Actually, I don’t really know anyone.
-Doug finally blasts a loud whistle in his frustration. A few windows behind him crack, unnoticeably to him. A cab pulls up.
Narration: Oh well, that’s not too important really. I’d invite you to come if you’d be willing, but I’m afraid it will probably be a very boring affair just like the rest of my life.
-Doug gets in the cab. He tilts his head up to look at the cabbie. A gun is pointed at his head. Doug’s eyes become wide, though his expression is relatively blank.
Man in Passenger’s Seat: Move and we shoot you.
Doug: Oh no.
Scene 11: David’s walking down the street while eating a salad.
Narration: Lady Liberty’s been kidnapped. ‘Bout 20 guys have already been lost in an attempt to find her. The government has no leads and no clue where she might actually be. And now they want me to find her.
-David keeps walks by an apartment building that has a big pink balloon tied to the railing and a sign that reads “Keiko+David Bridal Shower!!!” Keiko and several women are seen in the window, all excitedly opening gifts and the like. As David passes the balloon he pops it with his fork and just keeps walking, continuing to eat.
Narration: I’d have no problem doing this if I had my body and not this dumpy fat one. I’ve spent the last couple of months desperately trying to track this guy down, and I believe I’ve narrowed him down to this city. If I’m going to have any chance of surviving a mission like this, I’m going to need my body back. Given another month I have no doubt I could find him.
-David finishes his salad and hands the empty bowl to a homeless man asking for change. The homeless man looks down at the empty bowl in his hands and becomes very sad as David keeps walking.
Narration: And the government’s giving me only three days to comply.
-David sighs and stops walking.
David: How the hell am I supposed to find this guys?! He could be anywhere!
-A cab drives by with Doug clearly in the window, a gun pointed at his head. David is turned so he can’t see any of this. David stops for a second and looks behind him. The cab has already driven off. David turns back and scratches his chin in comically deep thought.
Narration: I think I might just have an idea.
Scene 12: Doug is in the cab, a gun pointed at his head by the man in the passenger’s seat. There is another man sitting in the seat next to Doug.
Narration: This looks bad.
Doug: (His hands up). Listen, I don’t know why you’d want me; I’m not that interesting.
Passenger Seat Guy: Shut up.
Driver: Listen carefully. We’re going to take you to a little place uptown. Do you have any loved ones we should call?
Doug: I’ll never let you harm Keiko just to get back at me!
Driver: I don’t think you get this, (Turns to the man in the passenger seat), I don’t think he gets this. (Turns back to watch the road). This is a kidnapping. We don’t intend to harm your loved one; we intend to ransom you for as much money as possible.
Passenger Seat Guy: How much would that be, by the way?
Doug: Uh…not much…? (Looks over at the guy sitting next to him. He’s just staring intensely, not moving). Um…is this guy going to do this the whole time?
Driver: Don’t mind Mickey; that’s just his thing. Now keep quiet and we won’t have to shoot you.
Scene 13: David is sitting on the stoop of a building, checking his watch. It says 9:59 pm.
Narration: Alright, we’re coming up to my favorite time. Good, because I’m extremely curious to see if this plan works or not.
-David pulls out a small pouch and unzips it. He pulls out a blood sugar reader and pricks his finger, dripping blood on a strip sticking out from the machine. It beeps a few times before making a “ding” sound. David looks at it.
David: Blood sugar’s really high. How the hell do you get blood sugar that high from a salad…?
-David pulls a needle and a bottle of insulin from the pouch after putting the blood-reader back. He draws some insulin from the bottle and flicks the needle a few times while holding it upright.
Narration: I really hate this.
-Pulls up his shirt and sticks himself in the stomach.
David: The things I do to avoid going into Diabetic shock…
-David puts the needle and bottle back into the pouch and zips them back up. He then checks his watch again. It says 10:04 pm.
David: Okay, any time now would be nice.
-His watch changes to 10:05 pm. Nothing happens. David looks around, confused.
David: Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes it takes a little longer than usual.
-Sits and waits a bit, in different impatient positions from panel to panel, finally checking his watch again. It says 10:12 pm.
Narration: Now I’m worried. It never takes this long. Something must have happened to the guy.
-David looks up and around before looking straight ahead at the reader, a dry look on his face and half smile.
David: You wouldn’t by any chance know what’s going on, would you?
Scene 14: The ransom cab with Doug having a gun pointed in his face. Mickey is still staring at him.
Doug: (Points at Mickey). Is he really, really just going to do that?
Driver: (Still watching the road). As long as you don’t try and leap out of the car. You move and Mickey’ll do something you’d rather he not do. And then we shoot you of course. Possibly vice versa; depends on the situation.
Doug: Are we to the warehouse yet?
Passenger Seat Guy: Who said anything about a warehouse?!
Driver: (Turns slightly to the Passenger Seat Guy). D’you tell him about the warehouse?
Passenger Seat Guy: No! I swears it!
Doug: I didn’t mean to make trouble; it was just a lucky guess.
Driver: Yes, we’re about to the warehouse. Keep quiet.
-The cab pulls into a warehouse as the door closes behind it. One other guy in a black trench coat with black leather gloves and black glasses on is standing in the darkened space, leaning against a chair with rope hanging from it.
Driver: Alright. We’re going to move you to the chair. You gonna do anything funny?
Doug: (Confusedly looks from the driver to Mickey and back). Me or Mickey?
Doug: Did you point at me or Mickey?
Passenger Seat Guy: Alright wise guy. Outta the car.
-Mickey quickly opens his door and runs to the other side of the car to open Doug’s door, staring him right in the face as he exits, his hands still in the air.
Doug: Please stop that.
Mickey: No. (Doug smiles and points. Mickey drops his attitude and laughs as everyone seems to laugh). Uh…ah. Haha. (Instantly Mickey’s back to staring and everyone’s serious again).
Forth Guy: Many refer to me by the name The Black Glove. What shall I call you?
Doug: (Really confused again, looking back and forth from everyone). Is he talking to me? Mickey, is he talking to me?
Driver: Hostage, what’s your name?
Black Glove: And what shall I add at the end of Doug?
Passenger Seat Guy: How many S’s was that?
Black Glove: Seven. A good omen perhaps?
Doug: (Weakly smiles). Perhaps…?
Black Glove: No. (Pulls a silenced gun from his trench coat and holds it to Doug’s head). You now have seven seconds to tell me your full name, the names of anyone who can pay ransom for you, and an address where we can reach them.
Black Glove: One.
Doug: My name’s Doug, and…
Black Glove: Two.
Doug: I’m not worth anything, I swear.
Passenger Seat Guy: Three.
Black Glove: No I’m counting. You don’t count.
Passenger Seat Guy: I was just trying to help.
Black Glove: Have you learned the ancient art of numerics such as I? I think not. Four.
Doug: Can we come to some middle ground here?
Black Glove: Five.
Doug: You can have my wallet, will that be enough?
Black Glove: (Shakes his head and cocks his gun). Six.
Doug: (Closes his eyes). Dear Lord please look after me in my time of great need…
Black Glove: Seve-
-As The Black Glove begins to pull the trigger on his gun, Doug reaches out and grabs his foe’s wrist with his right hand, palm-striking The Black Glove’s elbow with his left hand, breaking the arm.
Black Glove: ARAAARG!
-Doug quickly pulls The Black Glove around and uses him as a human shield just as Passenger Seat Guy starts shooting.
Black Glove: (The shots hit him, tearing up his coat and revealing a bulletproof vest). Cease fire! You fool!
-Doug immediately reaches around and grabs The Black Glove’s gun-hand, moving it towards Passenger Seat Guy and shooting, knocking the gun from his hand. The Driver has pulled out brass knuckles at this point and is making a move towards Doug. Doug grabs the gun completely out of The Black Glove’s hand and takes it entirely apart before pushing The Black Glove into the Driver and palm-striking the Driver in the nose. The driver goes down with The Black Glove on him.
-Doug does a quick roundhouse kick to the side of Passenger Seat Guy’s face, knocking him to the ground as well. He begins to get up, but Doug leaps down with a heel-strike onto Passenger Seat Guy’s back.
-Mickey has leaped at Doug at this point, practically foaming at the mouth. Doug wrestles with him briefly, getting caught from behind in a chokehold. The Black Glove has gotten up by now and pulled a knife from his sleeve, advancing on Doug.
-Doug grabs hold of Mickey’s arms, kicking forward at The Black Glove’s face, stunning him. Doug then slams his head into Mickey’s face, backflips behind Mickey, and grabs him in a hold, flipping him head-over-heels with a suplex into the concrete floor. Mickey rolls over, konked completely out.
Black Glove: (Shaking his head, clearing his vision and regaining control). You have made a most grievous error on this day. You have made the fatal mistake of becoming the enemy of The Black Glove!
-Black Glove runs at Doug with the knife out. Doug kicks his leg out sideways, grabbing the chair with the rope on in and pulling them both to him. He slides the chair forward, knocking the Black Glove’s legs out, making him fall face forward towards Doug on the chair.
-Doug swings the rope quickly, lassoing The Black Glove. Doug wraps him up again and again, then pushes him off the chair again with his foot before grabbing the chair and breaking it over the side of The Black Glove’s face. The Black Glove falls down, K.O.ed.
-Everyone is on the ground groaning and unconscious as Doug remains in a ready stance before finally taking a deep breath and shaking his head.
Doug: Whoa. Where did that come from? (Looks around, nervous). I’ve gotta get out of here. (Turns around and runs as hard as he can out of the warehouse).
Scene 15: David’s still sitting on the stoop. His watch reads 12:45.
Narration: In the past year I’ve never encountered an instance like this. This is the latest I’ve ever had to wait. On weekends I expect it around 11:05 instead, but I’ve never had it this late. It’s not Daylight Saving Time is it?
-Doug looks around again.
Narration: I’m ashamed to say I’ve finally become afraid of what this might mean. For all I know my body was involved in some sort of fatal accident.
-David shakes his head.
Narration: No, no. I can’t think that way. Clearly my body’s just getting laid or something. It makes sense that’d it’d happen eventually. Guy’s gotta eat after all.
-David walks into the street and off at a view of the city.
Narration: I just wish there was something more I could do. What’s happening out there? What’s going on?
David: Where are you?!
Scene 16: Doug is running completely out of breath, finally reaching the doorstep of his apartment.
Narration: I honestly have no idea what happened back there. I remember being kidnapped, but after that, I felt like I had no control. I’ve never been in a situation like that before, but my body was responding as if I had. How did I manage to do half that stuff? I don’t know how to do a backflip, so why was it so simple to do one just an hour ago?
-Doug fumbles around his pockets for a key, realizing that his pockets are empty. He frantically looks around, seeing a fire escape. He leaps at it, grabbing the bottom rung and pulls himself quickly up, bounding up seven stories like a circus act before stopping at a window. He looks at his hands and then back over his shoulder at the ground.
Narration: I’m not believing this. This has to be a dream. There’s no other explanation.
-Doug looks back at the window and smashes it with his elbow. He crawls inside and walks into his bedroom before slumping down on the bed, dead asleep.
Scene 17: David is jogging down the street, panting desperately and about to pass out.
Narration: I may not be able to do anything, but sitting in one place definitely isn’t helping.
-David finally stops, stooping over from exhaustion, struggling to catch his breath.
Narration: I hate this stupid body.
-Suddenly David changes into Doug. David stops panting before standing upright, looking his hands over. Finally David lets out a sigh and wipes his brow.
David: Well that’s a relief.
-David cracks his neck before taking a small sheet of paper out of his pocket.
Narration: Okay, time to put my plan into motion.
-David rolls up the small piece of paper and slips it up his nose.
Narration: God I hope this works.
To Be Continued…