The sound of heavy rain falling against pavement.
EXT. DARK DYSTOPIAN CITY STREET – EARLY MORNING
High overhead, flying vehicles and dirigibles with bright spotlights shine down.
SAWYER DAWES, looks mid-twenties, dauntless, tall, with broad shoulders, stands on the corner of the street in the downpour. He glares at a giant clock that dimly reads 8:37 a.m.
Sawyer’s hair curls down the center and dangles in dripping ringlets in front of his dark rimmed eyes, the sides of his head are cleanly shaven.
A large metal spider clings to him from behind. Across its back is a red digital logo reading “JS Penitentiary” The body weighs heavily on his back. Two of its legs wrap over his shoulders causing him to slump, the other six legs curl around his torso.
Sawyer turns his gaze down the street and sees a MAN stop his hovercraft, dismount, and walk into a nearby shop, leaving the engine of the craft running. The spider wrapped around him constricts, and Sawyer hisses through his teeth in pain.
THE BOUNTY HUNTER, a nine-foot-tall female cyborg, appears mid-thirties, wears all black, approaches Sawyer from the curb and stands beside him. She has a slender build, and strips of metal embedded in her hollow cheeks. Dark circles rim her glowing orange eyes. On her hip is a holstered gun. She holds a small video device in her hand. She looks at the screen, her eyes squint, then she pockets it, and pulls out an umbrella from inside her coat. She opens the umbrella and holds it above her head.
Hey, I know you’re happy betraying me, but would it hurt to find your last inch of humanity in that hardware you call a heart, and maybe shield me from this rain?
The bounty hunter moves the umbrella so that it’s held over the pair.
THE BOUNTY HUNTER
You don’t need to have an attitude, Sawyer.
That’s funny coming from you.
Sawyer smirks, then grimaces as a gust of wind sprays rain into his face. The rain continues to hit him, and he looks up at the umbrella. The umbrella is held high above his head. It blocks nothing.
Sawyer glares at the bounty hunter but turns his gaze when she tries to meet his. He looks down the street into green fog. In the distance a muffled siren wails.
The bounty hunter places a hand on Sawyer’s shoulder, he shrugs her off and steps away, his face strains in pain with each step as the spider squeezes around him. He fights through the pain and reaches the curb of the street.
THE BOUNTY HUNTER
Sawyer, get away from the road!
A muzzled bear snout leans close to Sawyer’s ear, then growls.
Sawyer, get away from the road!
Sawyer turns quickly to face the speaker. BOBO, a giant black bear towers over him. Standing on two legs, the bear’s build resembles a human body and his barrel chest is also bound by a dark metal spider that stretches over him like armored restraints.
As if she’s got a right to feel sorry after turning us in!
Sawyer catches himself from falling over as Bobo sits down beside him on the curb.
You know? I bet we could make it if we tried to run, I mean, we both know she wouldn’t shoot us… Well, at least she wouldn’t shoot you!
Sawyer stares, looking out across the street.
Don’t be getting any ideas buddy, I know that look. I was joking, okay? These spiders would crush us before we even made it halfway.
Sawyer drops his face into his palms, then slowly lifts his chin until it rests on his fingertips.
I’m sorry… It’s my fault that we’re in this mess.
Sawyer sits up, then grumbles and kicks at the small stream of water flowing beyond the curb of the street.
It’s not so bad… I mean, we had a good run, exploring so much of the universe as we did. Don’t worry buddy, I don’t know why, but for some reason, I’ve got a good feeling about this.
The pair look anxious and meet each other’s eyes, which are the same pale green color.
The bounty hunter approaches from behind. She extends her hand to Sawyer, but not Bobo. Sawyer ignores her hand and straightens his posture, staring past her.
A thunderous rumble sounds from down the road, then eerie green lights, bright against the dark fog, break into view.
A long prison transport rushes towards them. Its paint is aging, its lights flash red, white, and yellow. Its breaks screech as it comes to a stop in front of the trio. Smoke bellows out from beneath it.
THE DRIVER, a large old man, wrinkled and scruffy, with sunken eyes, descends the slick black steps of the transport. Rain splatters from his balding head before he shields it with a cap. The driver barks his words.
He zips his coat over his wide waist, then steps aside the door, and extends his hand as if to invite the pair in.
Neither Sawyer nor Bobo move.
THE BOUNTY HUNTER
You have to go… Get going!
She pushes forcefully, and Sawyer stumbles to a halt in front of the entrance.
Yeah, no need to worry, it’s only what? Ten years?
The driver laughs and brings a cigarillo to his lips, takes a drag, coughs, then glances to the bounty hunter for confirmation.
THE BOUNTY HUNTER
No, it will only be for nine.
Only that?! I’d assumed cause he went AWOL for so long… Heh, well ’suppose it can’t be helped.
Sawyer stares at the ground, and Bobo nuzzles his shoulder, guiding him up into the roaring transport.
INT. PRISON TRANSPORT – CONTINUES
They walk down the aisle, passing already full seats.
They pass both humans and non-human inmates. As the pair walk past them, curious, mean, tired eyes follow them.
Sawyer takes a seat near the middle of the transport. Bobo sits three rows behind him.
Sawyer pulls the window next to him down and looks out to stare at the bounty hunter. She rushes to where he is.
THE BOUNTY HUNTER
I’m sorry Sawyer… I really am. You know I had to take the job…
Sawyer sits back in his seat, he looks disappointed, and glares away from the window.
The transport rumbles to life and drives away.
Sawyer sits in his seat, and stares at a dim, yellow, flickering light.
He looks away and peers down the aisle, at the front of transport. The driver is hunched over the steering wheel, his grip held tight. The driver glances half-heartedly in the rearview mirror every few seconds. Sawyer watches this with anticipation.
The driver looks away from the mirror and back to the road. Sawyer makes his move, and quickly runs back three rows behind to Bobo.
Hey! No changing seats!
The driver’s eyes bulge and he huffs as he barks at Sawyer furiously.
The transport is brought to a rough stop on the side of the road.
The driver in frustration unbuckles himself and stomps down the aisle, his bulging sides hit the edge of each seat as he makes his way to Sawyer.
The driver grabs the back of the spider restraint wrapped over Sawyer and lifts him to his feet. Sawyer is dragged to the front of the vehicle by the driver.
The driver violently pushes Sawyer into the seat, grumbles to himself in irritation, then begins driving again.
Sawyer tries to turn his head into the aisle and look back at Bobo.
Keep your eyes forward!
Sawyer once again stares at the back of the worn out green seat, distraught.
INT/EXT. PRISON TRANSPORT – DAY
Sawyer see’s four towers, with fires burning at their tops.
Sawyer scoots to the edge of his seat and stares out the front of the transport.
A giant beam with flashing purple lights blocks the road and raises into the air as the transport approaches. The transport pulls through a high arching entrance. Sawyer looks out at the long chain link fence that surrounds the compound as the transport drives through.
The driver pulls into line behind several other transports, and shudders to a stop at the curb in front of the four towers.
A mass of choking smoke escapes from beneath the transport, temporarily blocking the view of the building, then the door screeches open and the smoke bellows into the transport.
Sawyer starts coughing and his eyes begin to water, he stands and turns to head towards Bobo.
A hand crashes onto Sawyer’s shoulder, his eyes quickly search for Bobo before he’s turned on his heels.
Sawyer is face to face with the driver. The driver lowers his face menacingly close to Sawyers.
You get off now!
The driver pushes Sawyer out the door.
EXT. PRISON – DAY
Sawyer stumbles to the ground. The rain falls in buckets, drenching him.
Beyond the towers is a sinister building with left and right wings extending outwards, creating a semi-circle around the four towers.
The dark thunder dome swirls in the sky above the building.
Sawyer walks hastily down the length of the transport, his hand is shielding his eyes, rushing to the still opened window.
He’s disheartened as he discovers the window’s shut, and the panes are fogged over.
The transport rumbles, and then creeps away from the curb.
Sawyer panics. He runs to the front. The door is closed. He’s hyperventilating and soaking wet.
The transport drives away, Bobo still on board. His face at the window.
Sawyer starts to run after the transport. The spider constricts around his body, crushing against his spine. He stops.
A pair of hands grab him by either arm, and a GUARD pulls Sawyer away from the road. Sawyer struggles as he’s dragged to the building.
This way. Come on!
Two wide doors slide open, and Sawyer is forced through them, though still facing the road. His eyes desperately searching, then the doors slam shut.
INT. PRISON COMPOUND – DAY
Sawyer is lead down a sterile white hallway, under a series of bright ceiling lights. Loud clacking heels are heard.
ARDID, 30, pushes horn-rimmed glasses from the center with her index finger up the bridge of her thin nose. She wears a tight ponytail that pulls her brows up, and paired with her scarlet rimmed smile, she appears joyful.
Sawyer walks in a line of other inmates being led by Ms. Ardid. Each one of them is burdened by a similar metallic spider. A long glowing rope chains them all together.
The shuffling group halts, Sawyer does not notice and bumps into the back of a large inmate. The inmate, a giant TROLL-LIKE WOMAN, turns and faces him. Sawyer jolts in shock, releasing a tiny yelp in horror.
Watch it twerp. Do that again and I’ll kill you.
At the front of the line, Ms. Ardid faces the prisoners, and gestures to the wall on her right.
The sound of air releasing is followed by a wall panel sliding to the side. Ms. Ardid then claps her hands twice and motions for the line to move forward and pass through.
Sawyer walks forward. Sawyer watches the heels of the person in front of him. The large feet turn and disappear, and a pair of pointed black boots come into view. Sawyer looks up.
Ms. Ardid is smiling at Sawyer, then cocks her head to the side, her brows lower, her smile remains.
Well? What are you waiting for? Go on, take a seat.
Sawyer quickly passes through the doorway, then halts upon entering and looks around.
INT. PRISON ROOM – DAY
The room is warmly lit, with tables and chairs set in several rows. The walls are made of grey stone, with holograms of words in unknown languages projected on them in evenly spaced squares.
Arrows flash on the ground beneath Sawyer’s feet, indicating that he continue forward.
Most of the tables are already filled with other inmates. Sawyer searches for where the troll-like woman sits, then moves to the opposite side of the room. He shuffles past many of the others towards a seat closest to the window.
He tries to sit but stops as the spider on his back begins to shake. It releases its grip around his torso, its legs retract into its body, then drops to the floor, its shape morphs into a small metal cube before hitting the ground silently, then flies into a tiny cubby in the wall nearest him.
Sawyer arches his free shoulders and extends his arms. He makes fists with his cracking fingers, opening and closing them. He looks to the doorway eagerly.
Ms. Ardid steps through and the panel slides out behind her, sealing them all inside the room. Sawyer is in despair.
Sawyer looks around but keeps his gaze low. He pauses on the troll-like woman who sits backwards in her seat, talking to two others, one human, one fish-like with a water apparatus wrapped around its neck.
The troll-woman turns and meets his gaze, glaring into him. She rises to her feet.
Do you have a death wish or something?
She begins to push her way towards him when an ear-splitting ringing fills the room and all the inhabitants shudder, grab their ears and look to the front of the room.
Ms. Ardid stands still, unfazed by the high pitch blaring from the bell on the wall behind her.
Sawyer falls into his seat and presses his head against the table, his eyes watering.
The sound stops. Sawyer slowly lifts his head and wipes away any trace of water from his eyes.
Ms. Ardid smiles sweetly, though her eyes appear hostile.
My name is Ms. Ardid, and that is what you will call me. I’ve overseen this unit for twenty years now and have produced some of the greatest successes this institution has ever seen. But, to become one of my esteemed successes, you must follow the rules. Rule number 1…
Sawyer turns his head and the voice of Ms. Ardid fades away. He looks out the window and sees a wide dirt field, laden with fog. The top of the metal fence sparks along the perimeter, as blue electricity surges through it. On the other side of the fence, a forest of tall green tubes and pipes rise from the fog and cast a dark shadow over the compound.
Sawyer peers into the dark fog when a faint honking sounds. His eyes search for the source as the honking grows louder and sporadic.
EXT. PRISON COMPOUND – DAY
There’s a loud crash, and an explosion of blue flames shoot into the sky. Chunks of metal fencing fall to the ground. Sawyer’s eyes grow wide in shock as the transport roars through the flames, horn blaring, and Bobo behind the wheel.
Behind Bobo is a tail of flashing police hover crafts, and above a spotlight follows him as he speeds over the muddy earth. Sirens wail, and Bobo honks the horn louder as he draws closer to the compound.
INT. PRISON ROOM – DAY
Sawyer jumps to his feet, knocking his chair backwards as he does. He rushes to the glass and presses up against the large window, waves his arms, and laughs with disbelieving delight.
Here! Here! I’m over here!
Sawyer jumps up and down, shaking his arms, and grins.
INSIDE THE SPEEDING VEHICLE
Bobo grins back at him.
Bobo yells out to Sawyer. Sawyer struggles to make out the words, and shakes his head, his smile fades. His arms still wave.
Bobo shouts more violently, when suddenly the words become clear.
Sawyer! Sawyer! Sawyer Dawes!
An eight-year-old Sawyer turns his gaze from the window and looks at Ms. Ardid.
THE PRISON ROOM IS NOW A CLASSROOM.
The boy’s shoulders sink, and he takes his small hands away from the glass, then quickly shuffles his lanky frame to a wooden desk.
An eruption of giggles, and enthused whispers erupt from the others in the room, all children. Sawyer sinks into his chair and pulls the hood of his jacket over his head.
Ms. Ardid commands the classroom of children to be silent, then paces over to stand at the front of Sawyer’s row of desks.
Sawyer Dawes, I know you’ve had a rather carefree education up until now, but this is a real school. Here we prefer serious attention and respect to be given towards adults when they are speaking.
Sawyer pulls his hood back and looks up at Ms. Ardid, he shifts uncomfortably as all eyes are on him.
Please refrain from ever having such outbursts while you’re in my classroom again.
Sawyer grabs a pencil from a colorfully painted tin can set at the corner of his desk, then begins to trace the eraser on the desk.
Am I understood, Mr. Dawes?
Sawyer’s left arm stops moving, and he takes the pencil into both hands, twists it until an etched #2 is visible at the top, then looks again to Ms. Ardid.
Ms. Ardid smiles at this, and her chin tilts up slightly, though her gaze remains held on Sawyer.
Very good. Now, come to the front of the classroom and please introduce yourself to your new peers.
Sawyer hesitates to leave his desk, then, with his eyes lowered, walks to the front of the room. He stands in silence, his arms locked at his side. Slowly he lifts his head and looks out over the crowd of faces, a mixture of amusement, intrigue, and anticipation.
H-hello everyone, my name is Sawyer Dawes, I’m eight years old… I’ve lived in this town for my whole life. I was being home schooled, but my mom had to get a job, so now I’m here. I’ve never been to a real school before… and I-I um… I guess that’s it.
As soon as Sawyer finishes speaking, the other students start to chat excitedly among themselves.
Ahem! Silence, please everyone. Thank you, Sawyer, you may return to your seat now.
Sawyer scurries back to his seat, keeping his eyes to the floor.
INT. CLASSROOM – EARLY AFTERNOON
Sawyer sits at his desk, his chin rests in his right palm, his left hand scribbles on a piece of lined paper. He stares furtively out the window. At the front of the room Ms. Ardid is writing in white chalk on a long blackboard.
Sawyer watches as the now overhead sun shines, breaking through the fog and casting a golden beam of light over the tall trees out beyond the chain link fence.
As Sawyer looks, the trees begin to shake, and birds fly out into the sky. The disturbance in the forest cuts like a line, the trees spread as it moves. The movement draws closer, then stops just inside the edge of the forest.
Sawyer shifts in his seat but doesn’t get up. He glances at Ms. Ardid, then back to the forest outside.
Just within the darkness of the forest, two glinting eyes appear, the same pale green as Sawyer’s.
As Sawyer’s eyes meet them, the hint of a smile pulls at the corner of his mouth.