Synapse

By R. Earle Harris
All rights reserved (c) 2015 (rearleharris@tuxfamily.org)


FADE IN:

EXT. MIRANDA'S FOOT - NIGHT

The lovely foot, golden chain around its ankle, of MIRANDA (twenty-year-old daughter of Prospero) who wears a wet suit in a small dark space. POV moves up the leg, waist, and torso as:

BARENAKED LADIES
(Singing)         
If I were you
And I wish that I were you
All the things I do
To make myself turn blue
I suppose
I'd start by removing all my clothes

POV reaches neck for the line:

BARENAKED LADIES (CONT'D)
(Singing)         
Tie my pantyhose around my neck.

EXT. MIRANDA - CONTINUOUS

POV rises to Miranda's face in close-up. She has high-tech gear attached to her head and wears slender dark goggles. Dwell on close-up for the lines:

BARENAKED LADIES
(Singing)         
I'll be that girl ...
You would be in clover

Then POV rises:

INT. DEPRIVATION TANK - NIGHT

Expand view to establish she is in sensory deprivation tank.

BARENAKED LADIES
(Singing)         
If I were the sun
You would be in shadow

POV continues to rise until--

EXT. DEPRIVATION TANK - CONTINUOUS

--we are above her tank. Her face is visible through the lid.

BARENAKED LADIES
(Singing)         
If I had a gun
There'd be no tomorrow
If you will not have me as myself,--

POV still rises and PROSPERO (properly named Julian, forty-six-year-old half-owner of Synapse and the technical wizard who engineered its virtual reality engine) becomes visible in the tank next to Miranda's.

BARENAKED LADIES (CONT'D)
(Singing)         
--Perhaps as someone else,
Perhaps as you I'll be worth noticing
Then even a eunuch won't resist
The magic of a kiss from such as me

POV closes on Prospero's face so that it fills the screen at the second occurrence of:

BARENAKED LADIES (CONT'D)
I'll be that girl.

Then, one minute and thirty-three seconds into the film and song, with a jarring crackle:

BLACK SCREEN:

Title Over:
               SYNAPSE

The movie's title bursts onto the screen and as quickly disappears.

BLACK SCREEN:

The sudden banging of a stairwell fire-door.

INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT

Synapse's floor of commercial building. Most of the lights are out. GONZO (hacker and trusted friend of Prospero -- overweight, bearded, in black T-shirt, jeans, red suspenders) comes in through the banging door, annoying ANTHONY (Prospero's brother, half-owner of Synapse -- a handsome bisexual, who represses both tendencies, wearing an expensive suit) and startling STEPHEN (Anthony's gay personal assistant -- young, casual-business attire), who are waiting by the elevators.

GONZO
Sorry.

ANTHONY
Let's just wait quietly.

STEPHEN
We're waiting here in the hall?

ANTHONY
Alex and his team will be here soon. I want to meet them here and take them straight in.

GONZO
(Disapprovingly)         
Alex. As in the owner of NerveWare?

ANTHONY
Yes. As in our prospective buyer. As in he who will cash us out.

GONZO
Prospero won't like this. He made Synapse.

ANTHONY
I'm sure my brother Julian will accept the sale of his company. He won't have any real choice, will he?

STEPHEN
Shouldn't we wait in the conference room?

ANTHONY
We won't be using the conference room.

GONZO
We're going in.

STEPHEN
In?

GONZO
The machine.

STEPHEN
Oh, no.
(To Anthony)         
I have plans for later.

ANTHONY
Then take your cellphone over there and cancel them.

Stephen takes his phone over to one side and makes a call. Elevator chimes.

EXT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

The elevator doors open. Inside are ALEX (owner of NerveWare -- fifties, confident, well-dressed), SEBASTIAN (Alex's gay lawyer -- forty, assertive, power-dresser), ADRIAN (Alex's son -- twenty, casually dressed),and YURI (Alex's technical consultant -- thirty, geeky, not attractive to women but, if cleaned up, perhaps attractive to men.)

EXT. HALLWAY - CONTINOUOUS

They emerge, Alex first, who shakes Anthony's hand.

ALEX
Anthony! Tonight's your night! In the morning, I will own all of Synapse and its headaches and you will own all the money it's worth. Isn't it a little dark in here?

ANTHONY
Thank you, Alex. Sorry about the lights; they won't turn on. I appreciate you coming along on this unusual meeting.

ALEX
I look forward to going into your brother's masterpiece and meeting him. I know that we will see the best Synapse has to offer.

Round of handshakes.

ALEX (CONT'D)
This is my son, Adrian.

ANTHONY
Adrian.

ALEX
And my lawyer, Sebastian.

Sebastian recognizes Anthony's bi tendency and sends his own predatory signals which are ignored by Anthony.

SEBASTIAN
A pleasure to meet you.

ANTHONY
And you.

ALEX
And my technical consultant, Yuri.

ANTHONY
Pleasure.

YURI
Mm.

ANTHONY
This is my assistant, Stephen.

Stephen and Sebastian trade gay signals -- Sebastian showing he is out of reach.

ALEX
Good to meet you, Stephen.

STEPHEN
Thank you, sir.

ANTHONY
And my brother's associate, our lead engineer in his absence--

GONZO
Gonzo.

ALEX
Good to meet you, Gonzo.

GONZO
Hey.

ALEX
You're not bringing a lawyer?

ANTHONY
I am a lawyer. Come, let us go.

Anthony leads Alex down the hall and the rest follow.

ALEX
Where are we going?

ANTHONY
I thought the quickest way to resolve this would be to go straight in.

SEBASTIAN
So we are really going into the Synapse engine? Wouldn't it be more convenient to simply bring your brother out?

GONZO
Yes. Why don't we bring him out?

Anthony ingnores Gonzo. All continue down the ill-lit hall.

ANTHONY
My brother Julian, or Prospero as he calls himself, is not entirely well and will not come out of his machine.

ALEX
Is he legally sane?

ANTHONY
I think so. Or ... I don't know. We tried to resolve that question but then he went inside and hasn't come out again.

ALEX
So we must go in to him.

ANTHONY
Yes. To transfer ownership.

ALEX
(to Sebastian)         
And all this is legal in the machine.

SEBASTIAN
The courts have ruled that transactions in virtual reality between real people are binding so long as they are conducted according to legal norms.

YURI
I understood that the Synapse engine's world was almost real--

GONZO
Realer than real.

ANTHONY
It is very realistic.

ALEX
Dangerous?

ANTHONY
I understand it can be. But the dangerous aspect of its reality is, of course, under our control.
(to Gonzo)         
Correct?

GONZO
Correcto. Synapse can be completely real--a bullet wound in the engine producing death in the player. Or it can be dialed down to nothing.

ALEX
And currently?

GONZO
Injuries will hurt. But death in the machine will just wake you up with a total-body hangover back here in the tanks.

ANTHONY
Can't we dial it all the way down for this meeting?

ANTHONY
Prospero won't let us. But then, we won't let him dial it up, either.

Cut to:

BLACK SCREEN:

Jarring crash of darkness. Sound of hall doors banging open.

INT. TANKS - NIGHT

With a burst of light, POV enters room with isolation tanks and control area.

INT. TANKS - CONTINUOUS

All enter. Adrian sees Miranda in her tank.

ADRIAN
Whoa! Who is that?

ANTHONY
My brother's daughter, Miranda.

ADRIAN
She's beautiful.

ALEX
She's in there with him?

ANTHONY
We thought it best. They are very close.

ALEX
Your brother does not look crazy.

ANTHONY
No. He does not.

Yuri is over by the controls.

YURI
And the safety settings?

Anthony nods to Gonzo.

INT. CONTROL AREA - CONTINUOUS

Same room. Gonzo walks over and brings up a user-interface on a screen with controls on it.

GONZO
Here are the reality settings. You see it is set just above halfway. Prospero keeps it there.

YURI
And this is safe?

Screenplay truncated at 500 lines.