#48

John Rocco
Thomas Disch Died Today

Thomas Disch died today.
He was a science-fiction writer
I read as a kid and when I
read his obit in the Times
I felt like I was reading one
of his stories, although his
stories were never this
crushingly real. Thomas
Disch shot himself after
what a friend called a
“sequence of catastrophes”:
his love died;
flood;
fire;
eviction.
It doesn’t seem fair to kill
a good writer with a lousy
reality plot like this.

 

Felino Soriano
Distressed Ascent

Misery hears the voice itself
a creak sly crawl up slight steps
toward the throat of exiting denigration.
Heard upon the tongue a simmer to
boil vernacular leaping with spinning
elbows ready to reveal the
reason of its causational rise.

 

 

Michael Lee Johnson
I Trip on My Poems

In the night when poems
are born, I search for no one
but the hidden words.
Conjunctions are just meeting places
like personal ads for wild women.
Even my lady friend criticizes me
for being uncreative, disconnected,
a time degenerate.
The secrets stretch inside my metaphors I
can not find them all.
I miss spell check;
grammar is a liar;
syntax is drug substance I refuse
to understand.
I am a trouble-free minded poet
with the training of an uncultivated monster;
I chew on my experiences, go back
to the prey, the kill, usually alone and spit.
But I have no sense of formality.
Even near my tender moments
when the images blossom into a rain flowers
I trip on stems cut my way lose to nowhere.
I go there to see what I can find.

 

 

Ash Hibbert
Zoo Station – The Island and the Lake

“You taught me language; and my profit on’t
Is, I know how to curse.”
— Caliban; The Tempest. Act 1, Scene 2

INT. SHUTTLE

A 3D picture rests on KIRKUS’ lap – he is an indigenous Australian, though his precise ethnic background is of no consequence. He struggles to see the hidden image. His uncle sits by, starring aft, beside him. They are against the side of the deck, facing inwards into the ship. Lined up on either side, and against the opposite wall, facing them, are their comrades. A mixed bunch – but at five KIRKUS is the youngest. Across the compartment is a young girl of a similar age who smiles to him unselfconsciously – this is CHRISSA. He timidly smiles back, uncertain, and glances around at the rest of the passengers as if he has not been around such a variety of people before.

KIRKUS: I can’t get it.

He looks to his UNCLE, who stares at a viewing port through which we see a static star-scape.

KIRKUS: What is it?

KIRKUS releases his grip on the image, and it slowly rises ‘upwards’ before him, spinning very slowly. It rises above his head, and as it slowly turns, we track it. In a moment of clarity, it becomes apparent what the secret image is – a space station, hovering against a nebulae backdrop. The child has been watching the movement of the sheet, entranced. His uncle reaches up, and deftly plucks it from the air, and as he pulls it away reveals the viewing port – which now contains more than just stars but a space station very similar to the one in the image.

UNCLE: That’s what it is Kirkus.

Without looking away, the UNCLE nods towards the growing blue green sphere that fills up the viewing port. The child watches too.

Cut to

INT. CARLOS’ ROOM

Near darkness – the sound of hands squeezing leather – a candle burns on a table. KIRKUS lies back on the couch.

KIRKUS: What’s happening?

CARLOS: It’s OK, Kirkus. You’re safe.

KIRKUS: Where am I? Uncle?

Cut to

INT. SHUTTLE CRAFT

UNCLE leans over and slides the postcard-sized image of Zoostation into the pocket of KIRKUS’ overalls. A necklace hanging around KIRKUS’ neck floats loosely in the space in front of him, though he is oblivious to it. KIRKUS looks up to his uncle with uncensored love. His uncle returns it with adoration. He tucks the amulet behind KIRKUS’ shirt, beneath his neck.

UNCLE: Keep it close to you, Kirkus. Let it remind you of whom you are, where you come from.

KIRKUS just nods, smiling.

KIRKUS: Is that our new home, Uncle?

UNCLE: Yes, that’s our new home Kirkus.

KIRKUS: Why are we moving there?

UNCLE: Imagine if the First Fleet actually succeeded in mutinying, and upon landing at Botany Bay decided to share with our ancestors what they had and to accept what we received. When those convicts turned away from their homes, imagine that they turned away from the ideas that made them exiles. Close your eyes, Kirkus. Imagine that. Then you will have imagined our future.

INT. ZOO STATION HABITAT

A huge glass domed habitat. A crowd of children run beside a lake, KIRKUS and CHRISSA amongst them, side by side. The children are oblivious to the magnitude of their situation. Adults stumble, bewildered, along the grassy meadows. In the starry sky above, the moon hangs. They run towards an entrance in the side of a grassy slope.

INT. OBSERVATION DECK

KIRKUS runs up to stand beside his uncle who stands in a kind of hemispheric glass bubble, not unlike a fly’s eye. It allows those who stand there to look both aft of the ship and forward – in this case, to see Earth as well as the direction they will be heading. He looks up. It is not his uncle, but a stranger – one who doesn’t belong on the ship. He wars a white lab coat and a stern expression, entranced by the view. This is CARLOS.

Cut to

INT. CARLOS’ ROOM

KIRKUS, lying on the couch, cries out in pain and bewilderment. He uprights himself, pulling his folded legs towards him – a hand reaches down from behind the couch, resting on KIRKUS’ shoulder. KIRKUS cries out with a start.

CARLOS: It’s all right.

KIRKUS: Who are you? Where’s uncle?

CARLOS: He’s safe – just where you left him. I’m Carlos – I’m a doctor.

KIRKUS is trembling.

KIRKUS: Am I sick?

CARLOS: No – you’re perfectly healthy, but you should sleep now. Go back to sleep. Dream – dream of your Uncle; dream Kirkus.

As if by a spell KIRKUS relaxes, and unwinds. We see a small cube behind CARLOS’ back, in one hand. He is caressing it slowly. It pulsates with a rich, deep red light. The beat slows. KIRKUS is asleep once more. CARLOS moves towards the window, gazing out at Jupiter. The giant spot, like an eye, gazes back at him, superimposed on the light reflection of his face on the glass.

CARLOS: How bizarre things must appear when reliving a memory as if it were the real thing. We of the living are so fortunate – at least when we dream, we are forced to suspend judgement of the absurdities of the dream. You, however, must endure them – you must hallucinate your own existence.

Cut to

DARKNESS

WOMAN’S VOICE (o/s):
Iron gryphon carries us to safety.
We rise into angry skies, subdued
Kirkus’ kin devoured by hungry moons.

INT. HABITANT – Night

KIRKUS sits in the centre of a labyrinth – the type where there is only one path into the centre then, and out again. He sits on a small stone bench. He holds a candle. All around the labyrinth in the habitat, candles burn. CHRISSA arrives beside him. He looks up from his feet. She shyly offers her hand. He takes it, and they walk out of the labyrinth together. When they reach the exit, she runs to her guardian, who stands amongst a group of adults all holding candles. KIRKUS stands alone. He moves towards the lake, down the hill, and crouches by the shore, placing the candle on a lily, and blowing it out into the lake. It floats off. One by one, the rest of the group follow KIRKUS’ footsteps and likewise release their candles on a lily, before moving off. KIRKUS remains crouching, watching the lake.

The reflection of the planet visible through the above dome ripples on the lake slightly. The entire planet is ocean bar a single green continent in the centre. The candles and their lilies drift across. The waves increase, until inlets of overflow from across the shore, water stretching across, wetting KIRKUS’ feet. In the centre of the lake, beneath the surface, the blue sphere floats in 3D, and in the ripples becomes eye-like.
The eye blinks.

Cut to

INT. CARLOS OFFICE

Ten year-old KIRKUS lies on his side on the couch, tears streaming down his cheeks blinding him. His gaze is unfixed.

A box of tissues descends before him. CARLOS holds them. KIRKUS looks up at him, enraged. He grabs the box and throws it at CARLOS, who fends it off unaffected.

KIRKUS: Why?! Why did he die?

CARLOS: Why do any of us die? It is what happens – we all have a time we must bow-out and depart. Your Uncle’s time came when it had to.

CARLOS picks up the box, and hands it back to KIRKUS who is wiping his cheek with his leave. He slowly takes the box – calmer this time –and pulls out several tissues. He wipes his face, his eyes, blows his nose – and catches sight for the first time of the pulsating cube on the desk. It is slightly larger than last time we saw it. He looks up at CARLOS.

KIRKUS: What am I doing here? I … know you … you were on … the shuttle, when we came to the station in Earth orbit … and on the observation deck, you were there too. How … are you making this happen?

CARLOS: I don’t make any of it happens Kirkus. It is your story – I but write it down.

KIRKUS mulls this over for a while. He looks to CARLOS with a bit of fear and awe.

KIRKUS: Is this the Dreaming?

CARLOS: No – where you were, that is the Dreaming. That is the dream that all of us wish to walk. You are guiding us through it, Kirkus. You are taking us there.

KIRKUS: Guide you how? I’ve never been here before.

CARLOS sits on the seat near KIRKUS, placing his hand on the cube.

CARLOS: You have, Kirkus. You have been reborn into yourself. You – the last of your kind – your thoughts extracted from time like blood from amber.

KIRKUS is dumbstruck by this news.

KIRKUS: I … didn’t know.

A flap appears in the wall appears at ground level – it is a dog door. We know this because, with a little effort, a dog with a huge wrinkle problem squeezes its way through. This is a breed of dog, incidentally, that can only have pups through the help of a cesarean section. CARLOS catches sight of the dog, and calls it across.

CARLOS: Ah, how low this dog and its kind have fallen. Once its ancestors would have literally run with the wolves; and now – now the very dogs that it is crossed with would persecute it – can’t even breed without human intervention. Put it in the tundra and there’s no way it could survive. What an evolutionary-dead-end. Born inferior – but how cuddly?!

CARLOS pats the dog, beaming, and then looks up to KIRKUS.

CARLOS: Return.

KIRKUS is asleep. CARLOS moves forward to the table strewn with sketch paper. He picks up the top most. It is a charcoal drawing of KIRKUS crouching at the lakeside, gently releasing the lily into the lake.

KIRKUS is muttering in his sleep.

KIRKUS: It didn’t happen that way.

CARLOS: But it saddens you never the less.

CARLOS puts down the charcoal drawing, and picks up a writing pad and pen. He writes, and as he writes, we see Kirkus becoming very slightly transparent.

INT. UNLIT ROOM

A pitch-black room – a torch light flashes on beneath the face of a young woman. It is CHRISSA in her late teens. She smiles cunningly, looking slyly from side to side. Another torch flashes on, in front of CHRISSA. It is KIRKUS in his mid teens. They grin at each other. They lean towards one another in synchronicity, Eskimo-kissing one another. The lights click off, one after the other.

Cut to

INT. CHRISSA’S ROOM – Late afternoon.

An early-20s KIRKUS stands in the doorway to a small but efficiently used bedroom. Across the room is the door to a bathroom. Team seeps out – the sound of a shower.

A large and intricate mobile of mirror shards float in front of the window. The closed curtains move in the breeze. KIRKUS is happy. CDs litter the unmade bed, their reflective surfaces starring up. Bits of KIRKUS appear in the mirrors.

KIRKUS: Chrissa?

CHRISSA (o/s): I’ll just be a minute. You like the mobile?

KIRKUS: Yeah …

KIRKUS looks suspiciously towards the window, walks over, and pulls the curtains apart sharply.

Cut to

INT. CARLOS’ OFFICE

KIRKUS, in his early 20s, lies on the couch. His eyes snap open. CARLOS sits at his seat, the larger pulsating cube in his hand. He looks as if he is about say ‘I knew him well.’ He gazes into the cube’s depths. He does not shift his gaze.

CARLOS: Hello Kirkus.

KIRKUS quickly closes his eyes.

Cut to

INT. CHRISSA’S ROOM

KIRKUS pulls the curtains closed, stands in bewilderment, shock, incomprehension.

He pulls the window down hard, closing it. He catches sight of his face in one of the mirrors. He slowly moves towards it. His reflection turns away. Like a caged animal, he stalks out of the room, slowly closing the door behind him. He walks along the hallway, turns a corner, realizes he’s on a catwalk running along the side of a spherical chamber, domed above, a basin below. He looks behind him, then in front. UP ahead, there is a silhouette, an obscure shape hidden by steam projected from pipe valves, and bad lighting. He moves wearily forward, grabbing one handrail, then the other.

The image sharpens as the two approaches, revealed in the steam that shoots out sporadically. A shot of sustained steam cuts across the catwalk a few feet in front of KIRKUS. Within it, a reflection of him – more, a ghost, made up of light on vapour. KIRKUS reaches out to the figure that looks away and down, intimidated.

KIRKUS: How fragile an image – but a reflection of a mirage; do not shy away, friend – you are in good company.

The steam ceases, and the shade vanishes. KIRKUS leans back against the railing, clutching it tightly, his eyes squeezed closed, the anger clear.

KIRKUS: CARLOS! Where the hell are you?!

CARLOS (o/s): Right beside you, as always.

KIRKUS swings around, and then relaxes.

KIRKUS: I’m dreaming.

CARLOS: You’re always dreaming Kirkus. Only, when you see me, it’s a lucid dream – the painting starring back at the viewer … What are you thinking, Kirkus?

KIRKUS: I’m thinking … that this should be familiar. I’m in my own mind … after all, right? The question is …

Cut to

INT. CARLOS’ OFFICE

KIRKUS: What do you want with it?

KIRKUS sits upright. CARLOS smiles, and he turns to K, putting the cub aside.

CARLOS: I want your story, Kirkus. Now – would you like a cup of tea, a cigarette maybe; some jam? I have some marvellous methylated spirits for you if you like …

CARLOS sweeps his hand above the table, indicating very nicely laid-out stocks.

KIRKUS: I’d like some fresh air and food if that’s Ok … Also some privacy for a while. I need to rest.

CARLOS: Come again?

KIRKUS, agitated at CARLOS’ confusion, stumbles around the small black-walled, poorly lit room, feeling the walls, trying to open the door. CARLOS looks bemused, and points at the table again.

CARLOS: What else could you need – you’re not an animal, now, Kirkus. Try this – you’ll be fine.

CARLOS stands, pulling a rag out of a sealed plastic bag and holding it out towards Kirkus, who reels back in dismay.

KIRKUS: What is it?!

CARLOS: It’s a towel – doused in liquid fossil fuel – your substance of choice, our historical documents tell us. No …? All right.

CARLOS withdraws his hand, and moves back to the table. He sits down at the couch, and Kirkus wearily follows suit.

CARLOS: You have seen so much of the galaxy – more than everyone else on earth had ever seen in his or her entire life, until you all left. Don’t you think they deserve to know the truth? Of what went on in the Zoostation?

KIRKUS: You talk about it in the past tense … as if everything has already happened. Like you know the ending …

CARLOS: Yes – but not what joins beginning and end; you do! You’re our spokesperson for the crew and the animals. You can make the glass and metal of the ship itself sing.

KIRKUS attention drifts to the cube. He nods.

KIRKUS: It’s growing. As I grow … As I remember.

He shakes his head adamantly, vigorously.

KIRKUS: No, I grow … I grow as it remembers. What am I? What is it?

CARLOS hands the cube to KIRKUS who takes it gently. He too gazes into its depths.

Cut to

INT. THE CUBE

Beyond the obsidian-walls, beyond the glows of the pulsations, lay synapses – artery like labyrinth of ultra fine bands stretching through darkness. Racing along the streams, carried by pulses of energy, through what looks similar to a circuit board.

Cut to

INT. HALLWAY

KIRKUS races along a hallway lined with door He pulls opens the first door he comes to, and inside sees himself walking through a bar, and sitting heavily on a bar stool. He closes the door, runs on, and opens the next – he stands beside CHRISSA as they dice up vegies at a kitchen bench.

KIRKUS: I’m lost in my own memory cathedral …

He pulls the door closed, runs a distance down the hallway, and opens a door. Inside, he finds an arid landscape – an elderly aboriginal stands on a hill top, arms raised, as a raging herd of buffalo-like creatures consumes him. He slams the door shut, squatting, hands covering face.

KIRKUS: I’m not ready!

He looks up, and finds that the door has transferred into that of CHRISSA’s bedroom. The door swings open. Inside, he sees a number of himself standing around CHRISSA’s bedroom as she takes a shower. One walks in the entrance to the room. Another looks at the reflective mobile. Another crouches at the bed, looking at the CD labels. Another stands in the doorway to the bathroom, leaning against the frame.

KIRKUS steps in, moving up to the mirrors, into the copy of himself standing there; he spins the mobile. He walks over to the bed, crouches down into the copy, and turns some CDs over. He stands, walking over to the bathroom doorway into the copy. He stands in the steam, eyes closed with head resting against the frame. He looks down at the steam at his feet, and then looks up at the ceiling.

Fade to

EXT. DESERT – Midday

A mandala forms from sand pours from a tightly clenched fist. Cut to moments throughout its development. Patterns interlace with other patterns, layers upon layers. It becomes complete – a circle of dust, revealed as lying on a stretch of sand. A sudden wind picks up the skin of the mandala, and strips it bare.

Fade to

INT. CHRISSA’S ROOM

KIRKUS turns and walks to the window. He pulls the curtains open, holding them apart, and gazes out.

INT. BAR – Night

KIRKUS sits at a stool, a bottle before him, a glass of red lowered from his lips. He gazes into the contents, inquisitively, searchingly.

Cut to

Flashback – swirling angry sea; a young KIRKUS gazes down from rising shuttle, cries out as he watches his UNCLE consumed by the sea. His uncle’s face is expressionless as he looks up.

Cut back

Bar – KIRKUS takes a deep swig from the glass. A hand falls on his shoulder.

CHRISSA: I’ve been looking for you.

KIRKUS shrugs.

KIRKUS: Had some ghosts to tuck back into bed, sing some stories to.

Self-consciously, he tucks the amulet back under his shirt.

CHRISSA: The anniversary of your Uncle’s death; I can’t begin to understand how much a part of your life he was.

KIRKUS sips form the glass.

KIRKUS: He still is.

Cut to

INT. CARLOS’ OFFICE

CARLOS gazes out of the window patiently into space. KIRKUS jumps to his feet, stalking towards CARLOS, enraged.

KIRKUS: You told me you wanted my story from me. But that’s a load of crap. What can you get from me? Why do you appear so eager to render my life to a series of etches on paper?

CARLOS: Don’t you understanding? In the beginning, there was the word – and in the end, there will be the word.

KIRKUS: But these are not words! These are echoes, memories, memories of memories. Some of it isn’t even mine. My uncle’s death … the near-ambush on Deneb 4 … None of it’s real. It’s just fill-in.

CARLOS: Fill in derived from a collection of poems.

KIRKUS: Poems? Chrissa’s Poems? You dig up these remnants as if they’re shells on the beach. You persecuted my people; you forced us from our homes, hunted as across the galaxy, destroyed out ship and sifted through the ashes to salvage some ornaments for a museum.

CARLOS: And …?

KIRKUS: And what?!

CARLOS; Well, a simple ‘Thankyou’ would suffice.

KIRKUS: You raped our world and you raped its people!

CARLOS: You see it’s from that kind of anti-social opinion that you had to be saved from.

KIRKUS: Fragments … All fragments. Didn’t you ever consider consulting the families of the other hijackers – the ones who stayed behind? Didn’t you ever try to understand what drove us the rest of the crew to do what we did, and why we stayed on board, never leaving as a trickle but waiting for the flood?

CARLOS: But what I’m doing – it’s scholarly research! What you’re suggesting is censorship!

KIRKUS: But surely, you know it’s just shadows on a cave wall? Look – look!

CARLOS: Please stay calm, Kirkus. This isn’t at all constructive.

KIRKUS: Stay calm?! You killed me and my family and you’re asking me to stay calm?! Now look at the wall!

KIRKUS point towards the silhouettes dancing on the wall from the tea candles.

KIRKUS: Which one am I, Carlos? Which one? – None! None of them are me. They’re just the left-behind whispers of ghost.

CARLOS sighs, drops his head.

CARLOS: They’re all we have.

KIRKUS: Well – now you have nothing.

CARLOS looks up. KIRKUS holds the cube tightly in his fist. He pulls his arm back and throws it towards the window.

CARLOS: No!

The cube spins slowly in space, before smashing against the window. CARLOS shelters his head with his arms, then slowly lowers them, and looks around the room. There is no one else.

Cut to

DARKNESS

WOMAN’S VOICE (o/s):
Our eldest dies
Embracing death on mountain
The beasts drink our tears.

EXT. ARID PLANET – Dawn

KIRKUS, in his 90s but moving with grace and skill, leads an away mission. Flanking him are other variously aged members of the away team, several of which are half-aboriginal. On KIRKUS’ back is a sack-like arrangement carrying an Aboriginal boy. The rest of the away team aren’t all completely human. Some are outright alien, but most are bipeds. They trek a prairie, scorched by the bright sun – high up in the sky, a pterodactyl-like animal glides; KIRKUS stops, and drinks deeply from a canteen. Behind a dark, large visor, his intense eyes gaze across the landscape, at home, content.

He crouches, stirring his hand through the earth, lifting a handful of dirt up and watching it drizzle down between his fingers. He pauses, puts his hand flat on the ground. He slowly stands, looks around. A few of the other team have stopped as well. One pulls out a pair of binoculars, and points them towards the horizon. Rising over and above the distant prairies – a rampage of huge creatures, like bison, elephant, and buffalo – heading straight for them. They all react quickly: KIRKUS deftly lifts the sack from off his back, and swings the sack and child over the shoulders of one of the men. All of them – seasoned runners – begin jogging swiftly across the land towards a crevice in the distance. The bobbing child gurgles, amused, as he watches KIRKUS jog alongside. The child gazes, bemused, as KIRKUS moves up beside him, lifts the ornament from around his neck, and places it over the child’s head. The bearer of the child looks around, inquisitively, as KIRKUS places his hand on his shoulder before slowing down, and stopping. The bearer slows down, looking alarmed at KIRKUS, but an entirely peaceful KIRKUS nods him on, encouragingly. The bearer nods, and turns, running again, the child on his back bobbing away, the ornament safe around its neck.

KIRKUS slows down, not looking behind him, still walking, watching the rest of the away team as they move closer to the crevice, the front most already climbing down its rocky edge to shade and safety. KIRKUS turns around, inhaling deeply, grinning madly as he looks around at the world, and at the dark mass, surrounded by dust, that approaches. He stands, waiting. The herd nears. He raises his arms up high, head swung back, eyes closed, and for a moment the sun catches him and he glows, like a copper or gold engraving; then he is engulfed by the herd – darkness – dust – shadows – rumbling.

Fade.

EXT. ORBIT

A small Terran battle group appears out of hyperspace near the same planet that Zoostation serenely orbits.

INT. TERRAN FLAG SHIP BRIDGE

The bridge appears like a Submarine’s – hostile, hard, and badly lit. Everyone is in very tight military uniform. Wearing a rather pompous uniform is the CAPTAIN.

CAPTAIN: Surrender your ship at once or we will assume you are a hostile force.

EXT. ORBIT

There is no significant pause – the Terran battle group open fire, slicing Zoostation, which slowly into pieces, before it explodes. In the debris, we follow the fragments of a book, scorched yet intact.

INT. TERRAN FLAG SHIP BRIDGE

Stepping out of some shadows is CARLOS! He is quite humble in this military setting – the only inhabitant of the bridge whose uniform is a white coat.

CARLOS: Captain, I suggest that we send out probes – there may be survivors we can help. We should also try to locate the black box.

The CAPTAIN nods.

CAPTAIN: Make it so then – and bring aboard whatever parts of the habitat are still salvageable.

Fade to

DARKNESS

KIRKUS (v/o): ‘But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth.’

INT. MUSEUM – Evening

A crowd walks through a very realistic mock-up of the Habitat, stopping to read plaques that explain various sections. Amongst the crowd, walks 90 year-old KIRKUS, smiling as he watches the simulation.

Throughout the museum, there are slides, monkey bars, robotic lions licking the hands of tourists, and the lake has waves utilised by boogie-borders. In fenced-off areas there are ‘shows’ of aliens dressed up in suits and ties talking with humans, shaking each other’s hands. The hippie crewmembers are wearing ‘traditional’ Hawaiian-dress. The maze remains however – grown greatly since KIRKUS walked through them as a child – though many people are stuck in it, or turn back. All of the actors of the ship’s inhabitants are wearing masks.

Cut to KIRKUS crouching besides a calm shore of the lake, looking down at his reflection. He stands up, and turns away, smiling sadly.

A big-screen plays a muted contemporary film. It’s an obvious clichéd and predictable Hollywood flick. However, there are regular interruptions of the moving image where a narrator outlines the plot, and simplified subtitles of character’s dialogue immensely appear. In the bottom-left corner of the screen there is a mute symbol – the muting of the sound is deliberate. The audience are getting visibly restless.

A couple stand up from a wooden seat beneath a tree, to let KIRKUS sit down. He folds his hands on his laps, and lets the crowd take their fill. Soon, they are filing out, and the main lights along the path winding around the mock-Habitat turn off, leaving on a few ground-based lamps. He stirs, awakening fully as if from a long nap. He stands, and begins down the slope, towards a tall hedge.

Cut to the now empty labyrinth. He carries a candle before him, but he knows the path well.

Cut to grove – KIRKUS sits at the stone bench, candle sitting beside him, and Chrissa’s journal – the same that we saw earlier drifting through space – in his hands. He stars down at his feet, at the laces of his shoes. One is loose. He leans forward slowly, and with controlled movements relaces them. A presence is nearby. He looks up. It is CHRISSA in her 90s, smiling confidently, loving, down to him. She reaches out a hand. He smiles back, and quickly collects the candle beside him before taking her hand. They exit the labyrinth.

At the exit, she tactfully steps aside, to join the arc of people around him. They clap, and cheer. He smiles, overjoyed. He and CHRISSA walk to the lakeside, and he releases the candle into the lake. As it drifts away, he stands and without pulling his punches throws Chrissa’s poetry out into the lake. We watch it pierce the liquid skin, and sink in the dark water.

KIRKUS: ‘And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book.’

CHRISSA: My book.

A band of children runs past, silently but energetically. One of them is KIRKUS as a child. Follow him. They run through an entrance.

Cut to

INT. OBSERVATION DECK

The children run into the metallic lounge and mingle. KIRKUS walks up to the glass, and stares up at his uncle, who smiles, and continues to watch the Earth spin lazily below them. KIRKUS pushes his face up against the glass and blowfishes. Those around him laugh approvingly. Then abruptly, the stars stream on either side, sucking Earth away. Everyone cheers, and all the children move to the forward view – watching the incoming stars. In time, the uncle pats KIRKUS on the shoulder, and the two of them walk together with the crowd.

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