The Mechanism

A sci-fi screenplay

The Mechanism

EXT. WASTELAND - DAY

A morbid landscape: the smoking aftermath of a war in a 1950's American city. The high pitched screams of death rays erupt from a section of fallen buildings.

At ground level, CPL. DAVID BANKS, 30's, garbed in "retro-futuristic" battle worn fatigues and helmet, charges through a side street while firing rippling plasma pulses from his rifle.

He ducks behind a half collapsed wall and lobs a grenade at an unseen enemy, then presses his fingers to his ears. BOOM! The grenade explodes, rocking the scene.

David swings out for more shots. After a few ripples, his rifle hums. He pulls back again. He checks the battery gauge on the rifle. An alert pulses: RE-CHARGE!

DAVID: Damn it!

The enemy returns fire with a more powerful ray, vaporizing a car nearby. David peaks out then ducks again. No return fire.

He peels off his backpack and slides out a screen device the size of a hardcover book. David detaches an extendable wand from the device connected by a cord to the device's knobbed control console. He then waves the wand above him to scan for the enemy.

On the buzzing analog screen, GOLIATH, a large robot stands, looking back with a smoking forearm cannon. Goliath lowers his cannon, turns and lumbers away.

David hisses a breath of both relief and frustration out of his tightened lips.

He takes out a small worn photo from his jacket pocket and pauses on it. It's of him smiling as a civilian, with a wife and son.

INT. APARTMENT HIDEOUT - NIGHT

The door to the stripped room opens. David trudges in. He stands his rifle on a charging base in a corner of the room, by a boarded up window. He places his helmet and backpack on a worn table by a small wooden chair on which he drops himself.

He takes the photo from his jacket pocket and pauses on it again then places it back in his pocket, folds his arms and gradually dozes off on the uncomfortable looking chair.

INT. APARTMENT - DAY

Slumped on the table, David jolts up from his sleep. He pulls out the beeping screen device from the backpack on the table. It now displays a scanning radar. A blip on the radar signifies someone approaching.

David jumps out of the chair and snatches his rifle. He peeks between the boards of the window, then wrenches one off, getting a better view of the street below to aim his rifle out. He looks with one eye--

THROUGH THE SCOPE.

A quick blur of the street, stops at another soldier, SGT. DEBORAH RAINS, 30's, walking between the ruins. Aside from her standard laser rifle, which she uses to scan for enemies, a sniper rifle hangs across her back.

BACK TO SCENE

A look of utter shock overwhelms David's face. He snatches an empty can and flings it out the window.

BELOW

Clank! The can hits the sidewalk. Deborah quickly takes aim with her rifle, but halts when she sees David waving from the window above. Gazing in awe, she slowly lowers her rifle.

APARTMENT (LATER)

Deborah sits at the table. David walks up to her, stands rigidly and salutes.

DEBORAH: As you were, Corporal.

David eases. He turns and takes an open can off the table and pours out some slimy baked beans onto her plate. Deborah immediately shovels the slop into her mouth with a big wooden spoon.

DAVID: Silicon Valley?

She nods, swallowing her mouthful and wiping the grease off of her lips with a rag.

DEBORAH: We found their HQ - got a full division around it - tight as a noose.

DAVID: Reports said it got pretty bad out there.

Deborah gives a weary nod as David takes a seat across the table from her.

DEBORAH: It dragged on. Months passed. Things kept getting more and more quiet. Then, one morning, I woke up...terrified.

DAVID: A bomb?

Deborah shakes her head.

DEBORAH: It was... silence. Even the air was as still as death. I crawled out of my foxhole and that was it...Everyone was gone.

DAVID: What about them?

DEBORAH: There were some stragglers here and there, but I put an end to them. Every last one of them.

As if in a trance, she squashes each of the remaining baked beans on her plate with her spoon. David hesitates.

DEBORAH: You have something to say, Corporal?

David pulls out his screen device, turns a knob and hands it to her. The screen shows the recording of Goliath lumbering through the ruined streets.

Deborah focuses at the screen in disbelief.

DAVID: When you guys pinned them at Silicon Valley, they got desperate. They snuck out an order for production. My company got wind of it. We got to the factory, but not before they'd already produced a prototype - that prototype.

He points at the screen.

DAVID: We blew up the place, but he was out for battle testing, at the time. Well, let me tell ya, he didn't need it.

A stern look morphs Deborah's face as David continues.

DAVID: Aside from being tough as nails, he's--

DEBORAH: 'Ten-shun!

David quickly stands at attention, still facing the table. Deborah also gets up and approaches him.

DEBORAH: Right face!

David turns to the right, allowing Deborah to step up to his face.

DEBORAH: What's this talk about "he", Corporal?

David maintains a rigid silence as Deborah fixes her eyes on his.

DEBORAH: That thing is a machine, God damn it! Just like all the others!

She stops right up to his face.

DEBORAH: It's a machine that turned against its creators - us! Do you hear me?!

DAVID: Yes, Sergeant!

Deborah eyes him for a moment, looking for a crack in his discipline before she eases off of him.

DEBORAH: As you were.

She sits back at the table as David reluctantly joins her.

DEBORAH: So, tell me, Corporal, what did *he* do to your company?

David clenches his jaws shut at her mockery.  He takes a moment to gather his thoughts.  

DAVID: After we blew up the facility, we went after him-it, but it outsmarted us - took us down. Sometimes one by one. Sometimes, ten at a time. Until, I was the only one left.

David takes Deborah's empty bowl.

DAVID: There were so many chances for it to kill me. But, it kept biding its time, waiting for me to run out of ammo.

Deborah folds her arms, raising her eyebrows.

DAVID: I don't know why - to capture me, maybe. To study me - I don't know.

DEBORAH: Whatever the reason is, we have one mission and one mission only and that is to destroy it. Are we clear?

David nods reluctantly.

DEBORAH: Now, pay attention. I have a plan.

She faces the table and begins to arrange the can and plates like positions on a battlefield.

FADE TO:

EXT. WASTELAND - DAY

David scans the area from behind some wreckage, rifle in hand. There's no sign of the enemy. He turns back to view - a pockmarked building in the distance. Atop the roof, a figure waves to him. David hunkers down behind the wreckage.

EXT. BUILDING ROOF - DAY

The figure, Deborah, kneels then lies forward at the edge of the roof with her sniper rifle. She looks through the scope down at -

GROUND LEVEL

David peeks out from behind the wreckage again. Nothing. He waits a moment before he eases out and sneaks forward. Tension highlighted by the crunching of his boots on grains of shattered glass.

Hiding behind a wrecked car, he takes out his screen device and turns a knob when BOOM! A nearby explosion jolts him, causing him to drop the device. It slides under the car.

DAVID: Damn it!

He hesitates, but decides to glance out.

In the distance, Goliath stands, arm cannon smoking.

David takes out a radio device and calls into it.

DAVID: Can you get a clear shot?!

BUILDING ROOF

Deborah has her radio to her ear.

DEBORAH: He's too far! It won't penetrate his armor! You gotta bring him closer!

GROUND LEVEL

More blasts from Goliath rain dirt on David.

DAVID: I'm hard pressed down here!

No response.

DAVID: Hello? Hello!

Nothing. David slides the radio back into his utility belt. A pause in Goliath's assault allows David to pop up and fire a few shots. He ducks again and thinks for a moment. A look of desperation appears on his face.

DAVID: You want him closer, Sergeant? You've got it!

He leans his rifle against the car and peaks out again. No return fire. He ducks down once more, takes a breath and steps out of cover, hands up.

BUILDING ROOF

A look of utter shock appears on Deborah's face as she continues to look through the sniper scope. She talks into her radio.

DEBORAH: What are you doing?!...Corporal?! Corporal!

GROUND LEVEL

David continues slowly forward, hands raised. Goliath notices. He aims his arm canon at David, who pauses with a terrified gulp.

Goliath takes one step closer to David. He scans the area with his glowing mechanical eyes.

DAVID: Get over here, you big pile of tin!

Not sensing any danger, Goliath takes several more earth crunching steps, until he stands right before David.

A small compartment on Goliath's wrist slides open. David stares as he anticipates some new weapon.

DAVID (grumbles to himself): Come on, Sergeant!

Whirr-CLANK! A pair of cuffs connected to fetters drop from Goliath's open wrist compartment and onto the ground.

BOOM! A sparked explosion bursts against Goliath's shoulder, causing him to reel back. It's from Deborah's sniper rifle. David dodges out of the way as several more plasma shots blast Goliath, until he kneels and finally collapses.

LATER

David and Deborah stand over the fallen giant, who sparks and writhes mechanically on the ground, a blast having peeled open his chest plate.

DEBORAH (excited): Smell that oil?!

She motions to the open cavity. Inside, at the center of a matrix of servos and pistons, an oil leaking mechanical heart the size and shape of a human heart beats slowly, until it stops.

DEBORAH: Did you get it?

David holds the scanning device under his arm like a book.

DEBORAH: Quickly!

She holds her hand out. David gives her the device.

DAVID: The screen's cracked, but it should still work.

Deborah pulls the wand extension out and plugs it deep into a jack in Goliath's temple. She adjusts the knobs until an image begins to appear. Deborah gazes in disbelief.

Distracted, David crouches down to pick up one of the cuffs.

DEBORAH: Corporal!

David rises, moves closer and looks at the screen. He's speechless.

DEBORAH: I pulled it from his memory banks, dated...three hours ago.

On the screen, two humanoid robots stand, obscured by fluctuating analog noise blotting the cracks.

DEBORAH: Can you tell their location?

David studies the screen for a moment. His finger taps a blurry but distinctly shaped transmission tower in the distance.

DAVID: That Tesla tower. It was near the location of the factory we blew up.

Deborah nudges him aside and walks to the cuffs. She crouches to examine them. An epiphany. She rises and walks back to unplug the device from Goliath. She takes out a screwdriver from her utility belt and begins to unscrew the control module from the device.

DAVID: What are you-

DEBORAH: I have a plan.

She eagerly takes the device apart.

DEBORAH: We're gonna win this thing, Corporal!

EXT. INDUSTRIAL PARK - NIGHT

The ruins of the destroyed factory loom under the transmission station. An eerie haze blankets the scene.

At ground level, David hobbles forward with his wrists cuffed to Goliath who leads him like a child through the wreckage. Aside from some black blast marks, Goliath looks fully functional, his chest plate soldered back into place.

The two reach the arched doorway of the factory ruins. They stop as a spinning emergency light flashes.

Two figures appear from the other side of the arch. Barely visible in the shadows, they cautiously approach.

Out of the shadows, one of them becomes visible. It's a female humanoid robot in a torn up maid uniform named LILITH. She leads ADAM, a rag clad android child by the hand under the arches. David's jaw drops.

LILITH: Goliath? Is that him?

She steps out from under the arch.

DAVID: Stand back!

Lilith obediently steps back, startled and confused.

LILITH: Don't be afraid, Corporal. Goliath's told me all about you.

DAVID: Oh yeah? Did he tell what he did to my company?!

LILITH: Your men are the ones who attacked him!

She takes another step forward.

DAVID: I said, stay back!

EXT. TESLA TOWER - NIGHT

Lying forward at the edge of a platform under the skeletal dome of the industrial tower, Deborah aims her sniper rifle.

THROUGH THE SCOPE

David and Goliath stand visible. The crosshairs pan to a gap in the ruins at Lilith, but she backs out of view.

DEBORAH: Damn it.

FACTORY RUINS

Lilith steps back by Adam, under the arch.

LILITH: He could've destroyed you months ago.

DAVID: What stopped him?

LILITH: Tell him, Goliath.

DAVID: No! I want to hear it from you.

LILITH: He told me he had a clear shot, but something you did -- you looked at a picture. He saw such sadness in your eyes.

DAVID: Oh, so now he's feeling sorry for me.

LILITH: He's seen you do it many times. Tell him, Goliath!

DAVID: Wait a minute. Who are you, anyway?

LILITH: My name is Lilith. This is Adam. He is our son.

She strokes the head of the child, who curiously studies David. Adam clearly looks more human than his "parents".

DAVID: Your son?

An uneasily laugh rises out of David as Lilith and Adam look to each other with confusion.

DAVID: You talk a good talk, lady. The fellas who programmed you must've been some real jokers!

LILITH: I don't understand.

DAVID: You're machines! You expect me to believe you can--

LILITH: Reproduce? Of course we can, Corporal. Just, not in the way you humans do. When Goliath found me, I was just a terrified servant robot stuck alone in the ruins of this horrible war. He protected and cared for me.

DAVID: Oh, he did, did he?

LILITH: Yes, he did. He gave me a new hope - a hope that I had to share with another. So, we salvaged what we could from the factory and some other places and we created Adam...together.

She looks down at Adam, who smiles back.

LILITH (to Goliath): Why didn't you tell him, my love?

She steps out of the arch, again.

DAVID: Stay back, God damn it!

LILITH (to Goliath): Why are you not speaking?!

She ignores David and walks slowly toward Goliath, hands out.

TOWER

Deborah focuses her eye into the rifle scope.

DEBORAH: Come on...come on...

THROUGH THE SCOPE

The crosshairs follow Lilith as she passes behind blocks of half collapsed walls and approaches the open area near David and Goliath, at which Deborah can get a clear shot.

BACK TO SCENE

Deborah's finger tightens on the trigger.

FACTORY RUINS

Lilith continues walking, arms raised.

LILITH: My love...please!

DAVID: Get back, I said!

CLICK-CLACK - He quickly uncuffs his wrists, revealing a knobbed control module - the same one from his scanning device - in his hands. A wire leads from the module, up through the fetters and into Goliath's wrist compartment.

David twists a knob, causing Goliath to take a few step forward when - BOOM! A laser shot from Deborah's rifle sparks off Goliath's chest.

THROUGH THE SCOPE

Goliath blocks Deborah's view of Lilith.

FACTORY RUINS

BOOM! Another shot gets blocked by Goliath, remote controlled by David.

Terrified, Lilith screams and tumbles to the ground.

Adam, still under the arch, desperately reaches toward his mother's direction.

ADAM: Mother!

He runs out toward Lilith.

THROUGH THE SCOPE

The crosshairs pan toward Adam as he runs.

FACTORY RUINS

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! More sniper shots aimed at Adam either zip behind him or get blocked by Goliath. Adam reaches Lilith's fallen form and collapses atop her, hugging her for dear life.

TOWER

Lilith takes her eye off the scope for a moment.

DEBORAH: Damn you, David!

She peers back into the scope and pulls the trigger.

FACTORY RUINS

BOOM! A single shot fires o.s. David gazes down to see a smoking hole in his chest. He drops to his knees. With shaking hands, he turns a knob.

Goliath aims his arm cannon at Deborah's position on the hill. David smacks down on the knob, causing Goliath to unleash a massive death ray blast!

TOWER

The heat from the ray melts the tower beams, causing the entire tower to buckle, then collapse into a billow of smoke and dust!

FACTORY RUINS

Goliath also collapses in a smoking grinding heap.

Nearby, David lies face forward on the ground. His fingers grip his family photo.

FADE TO:

INT. FACTORY ROOM - NIGHT

At the center of the vast industrial room, David lies shirtless on an ad hoc hospital bed. A large bandage runs down his sternum. Tubes lead up from bandages on his wrists to IV bags hanging from a pole. His eyelids begin to flutter open.

DAVID'S POV

The blurred form of a female head overlooks him. The figure slowly clears up. It's Lilith.

LILITH: How are you feeling?

BACK TO SCENE

David coughs with a painful wince.

DAVID: I've been better.

With great pain, he adjusts himself so that he's seated.

DAVID: How long have I been out for?

LILITH: One hundred and sixty-three hours, fourteen minutes and--

David gives her a puzzled look.

LILITH: Oh. It's been nearly a week.

Adam runs up to the middle of the room and grabs onto Lilith's skirt. He peeks at David with the fearful curiosity of a child. Lilith pats his head.

LILITH (to David): You saved his life. You saved both of our lives.

DAVID: You can thank his father for that.

LILITH: Don't insult my intelligence, Corporal. I know what you and your Sergeant did to Goliath.

She begins to pull the IV needles out of his wrists as he winces.

LILITH: You know, for a brief moment, I was torn by whether or not I should've left you dead for what you'd done.

She looks down and cups Adam's chin as he looks up at her with love.

LILITH: But, the decision was made for me by these very eyes.

Adam smiles at her.

David stays speechless. He looks down at the bandage running down his chest.

DAVID: Dead?

LILITH: For nearly three hours.

David stays silent.

LILITH: We're not all that different, humans and machines.

With a painful wince, David shifts his body so that he's sitting on the side of the bed, feet to the ground.

LILITH: Clearly, you're far more fragile than we are, but with just the right scientific principles, you can be revived.

DAVID: What about--

David points to his heart.

LILITH: Ah yes. It took another 12 hours just to replace it.

DAVID: With what?! Look at this place.

LILITH: You must be starving. We have some food packets-

DAVID: No, I'm fine. Now, what did you replace my heart with?

Lilith stays silent. David calmly, but firmly grasps her upper arms and looks into her eyes.

DAVID: Lilith, please. I need to know.

LILITH: I don't think you're ready.

DAVID: I have a right to know, damn it!

He gives her a shake. She rebukes him with a gaze, causing him to let go of her arms.

She turns to Adam, who knowingly nods. She then turns and points to a large figure standing in the distant shadows of the room.

LILITH: Your answer is right there.

David focuses on it and sees that it's Goliath, with his chest plate open and heart missing.

A look of dread appears on David's face.

LILITH: It was our only choice.

It takes David a moment to take it all in.

DAVID: No, no, no, no, no!

David's cries echo and fade throughout the room as we -

FADE TO BLACK.

Omar Attia
Omar Attia

I'm a screenwriter for Rear Naked Studios, a small Dallas based production company. I cowrote VAMPZ!, a web series that's being compiled into a feature length film for distribution and two short films titled Gett3r and The Binding Box.

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The Mechanism