Strangers In Town 

screenplay copyright 1996 all rights reserved, T.J. Hardman, Jr.

no use of this work is permitted in any form whatsoever, other than
on-screen viewing while logged in to your internet access provider.

Derived from _Strangers In Town_, (c) copr 1987, 1992 all rights reserved
by T.J. Hardman, Jr. 


[credits] [credits fade out - fade in overlay on a worried looking guy
(Actor1) scribbling on a letter. Voice-over begins as he writes]

(voiceover is actor1)

Voiceover:	Sirs, I have a strange tale to relate. I was traveling to
		Washington, DC, on business. I was scheduled to be in town
		for some time, so I took a place in the suburbs.

[ cut shot to suburban townhome, actor walks out, casually shuts door behind
him, checks watch, strolls off. ]

Voiceover:	I ride the subway to work every morning, and home every

[ - cut shot, actor at bus stop. - cut shot, actor at suburban metrostation,
following shot of entering system. Following shot of Actor1 shuffling papers
at various offices downtown. Fast takes of Dupont-Farragut North- K Street
rushhour, Actor1 coming home. ]

Voiceover:	I'm riding on the subway, looking at my fellow travellers,
                categorizing them, and I see a very uncomfortable looking
                guy, obviously paranoid, judging from the way his eyes are
                flickering from passenger to passenger.

[ study of actor, doing all of the above. sweep shot of train interior,
closing shot to man sitting alone in back of train, looking paranoid. ] 

Voiceover:	A spy, maybe? No, a spy would be more cool... Just nuts, I
                guess, or a drug casualty.

[ Actor1 notices a little sound, a sort of snapping, scraping sound like
quietly snapping fingers ; reaction shot ] 

Voiceover:	Then I notice (I say notice, because I guess I've been
                hearing it all along ) a quiet snapping sound from behind
                me, and a little white dot goes zipping past me... straight
                towards this flaky looking guy. It hit him in the face, and
                he started visibly.

[ actor gives the geek an amused look, becomes scornful, somewhat, then does
a subdued double-take on the flying dot. - note, this might require some
digital editing. can do? ]

Voiceover:	I do not use drugs or alcohol, and this is not something I
		usually see.

[ Actor1 begins to look around the train to see where it's coming from. ]

[ effects sequence: snap zoom-in to hands of people flicking their thumbs
like kids flick marbles. (Might actually have to use marbles to get it to
film...) as one flicks past camera, track to impact (real or faked-acted) on
'geek'. Repeat as needed ]

Voiceover:	These guys are _good_ at this.

[ reaction shot on the geek, geek does all of the below. quick cut or two to
the actor who is starting to look concerned. ] 

[    He starts sneezing, wheezing, and rubbing at his neck like
it hurts him. He blows his nose, cranes his neck like he's trying
to adjust it. He never stops looking around at all of the other
riders. He looks mad as hell, getting totally paranoid... tendons
are standing whitely out on his hands. ]

Voiceover:	I wonder if he knows what's going on? I guess he does, he
		_must_... Maybe that's why he's looking around like that.

[ geek seems to sort of recognize the actor. the sequence might well be done
something like the recognition between the Cat-women in _Cat People_.
Otherwise, action is exactly as below. ]

Voiceover:	He seems to recognize me, perhaps mistaking me for someone
                he knows. Just for laughs...

[  Actor1 hangs his hand out in the aisle, and flicks his thumbs at the geek. 
   Geek glares at Actor1, a particularly venomous look, and stands up as the
   train pulls into a station. [(nice tracking composition shot
   opportunity!)] Geek leaves in what amounts to a huff, still looking at
   Actor1 like Actor1 is crazy or evil. The geek leaves the train train and
   everyone checks the time, and then they resume reading their papers.
   Actor1 looks completely clueless, shrugs. Thinks for a second, 
   turns around and asks the guy behind him (Actor2): ]

Actor1: 	Did you see that guy, what's with him?

ACTOR2: 	D'you mean the vampire-man?

[actor1 looks astonished]

ACTOR2:  	You must be new in town. 

Actor1: [nods] 	Uh huh. What do you mean, vampire?

Actor2: 	You know, El Vampiro. Goddamn bloodsucker. Dracula..

Actor1: 	What's this? [ flicking thumbs. ]

Actor2: 	You don't know? Where you from?

Actor1:  	Chicago. 

Actor2: 	OK... Diffenbachia, beta-carboline, and Soma.

Actor1: 	Huh? [looks confused] 

Actor2: 	You know... Soma. They sell it for headaches, but it's a
                muscle relaxer. That's mainly what he's got going for him is
                muscles and bone structure.

[ Actor1 looks obviously baffled, lets it show on his face. ]

Actor2 [ continues after pause, then looks like painfully explaining
the obvious ] : If we relax the shit out of him, he's weak, he's slow, his
		liver gets screwed up. If he goes into overdrive, his back
                goes out, and then if he keeps it up, he tears himself
                apart. The Def, the Diffenbachia, you know, the
                Mother-In-Law plant, it makes his throat close up, makes him
                choke. The beta-carboline, it's a chemical that induces
                fear. Learned _that_ from the old Soviets.

Actor1: [ looks grim ] Jesus. That's goddamned cold.

Actor2: 	Yeah. [ grins savagely] -  As it should be.

Actor1: 	Why don't they just take him out and shoot him?

Actor2: 	He hasn't done anything.

Actor1 [ looks very baffled ] : So why do it to him?

Actor2 [ scowls fiercely, like the question is stupid. makes a 'racist
face'. ] : 

		He's a goddamned vampire! [ gives Actor1 an evil look ]
[muttered ]: 	El vampiro.

Actor1 [struggling to understand this craziness, but remain polite ] : 

		But you say he hasn't done anything.

Actor2: 	Nothing we can pin on him.

[ study shot on the second actor. He is well and fashionably dressed, like
almost everyone else in DC, wearing a long black trenchcoat. He also is black.]

Actor1: 	So what kind of work you do?

Actor2: 	I'm an attorney, for the [mumbles something like "MSDB"].
		But this guy, everyone knows about him...

Actor1: 	Isn't he watched closely?

Actor2 [ looks surprised that the other guy even has to ask ] :

		Of course... Not my job, but I hear he's pretty good at
                dropping tails.  Someone's killing a lot of people in this
                town, and there's less blood than there should be by the
                time the cops get there. [ first actor looks almost
                incredulous, still polite though - actor2 continues: ]
                That's right, one guy is doing it all. Here.

[ Actor2 reaches under his belt, slides a little folded paper packet out
from under his belt, hands it to actor1, who starts to investigate it,
Actor2 makes "don't be so obvious" gestures at him, whispers
conspiratorially: ] 

		Vampire repellent. Keep it under your belt. Oh, my stop.

[  He gets up, bracing himself against deceleration, holding on
to the rail on top of Actor1's seat. ]

[ snap zoom to Actor2's hands. [(makeup with latex if necessary)]. 

[ Description of Actor2's hands -: His thumb recurves. The knuckle closest
   to the hand is huge, arthritic looking, and sits well away from the hand. 
   From there, the long second leg parallels the metacarpals, and the
final joint bends backwards at almost 100 degrees. His nails are very broad,
greatly curved, and appear to be extremely thick.]

[ Action - train pulls into station as Actor2 strides faultlessly to the
door. He queues up first in line, and straightens his tie, collar and cuffs
and hitches his belt all in about one second. The door slides open, and he
strides out, barely allowing the doors to clear his wide shoulders, which he
holds quite well back. His posture, like his attire, is impeccable. ]

[ study shots of Actor1, obviously troubled, as he rides the train out of
town, he's obviously thinking. Varios fade-snap-cuts as he exits the system,
waits for a bus, gets on and rides away, gets off at the same bus stop near
home, etc.]

Voiceover:	I get off at the end of the line. I return to my security
		townhome, and firmly lock the gate, and set the alarms.

[ Enters the townhouse, locks the gate, sets the alarms, in contrast to the
casual way he left that morning. Inside shot as he throws the bolt. ]

Actor 1: 	Vampires. Jeeze.

[ takes off tie, etc, he goes about making dinner, still obviously troubled
and thinking deep dark thoughts. ]

Actor1: 	Undeclared race wars. Conviction without trial, cruel and
                unusual punishment of an individual who has reputedly done
                nothing prosecutable to anyone, all on the basis of
                _allegations_ that he is a _legendary or mythical being_? 
                How many amendments to the Constitution are we throwing out
                the window, Mr. Attorney?

[ Looks at faked copy of the Washington Post. Headlines are full of death
and violence, unsolved murders. He eats (short snap-cut studies of worried
man bolting cheesy dinner), and then hops in his car, heads for
downtown via the beltway, comes in by the eastern route, inbound up the
Southeast Freeway. - Lots of nice driving shots, his face a study in
unresolved dilemma - shots past his worried face across the Anacostia to the
War College, Navy Yard, Capital, etc, usual stuff.]

Actor1: 	Washington DC: highest rate of unsolved murders in the
		nation. All drug related. Yeah, right.

[ sudden realization on actor1's face ]

Actor1: [ looks worried, voice reflects this ]

	I wonder if that's really the case here in The Nation's Capital, the
        _center of control and administration_, where no one is allowed to
        carry or even own a handgun. A sleepy southern town which has no
        reason to exist except that George Washington wanted it across the
        river from his farm. If there really are vampires, or such creatures
        as could give rise to such legends, what could they be... 

[ sudden conjecture, tasting of truth ] 

	...other than a co-evolved species of hominid adapted to nocturnal
	predation upon other hominids? Perhaps with rapid healing abilities,
        superior strength and reflexes? [ muses ] Perhaps only a handgun
        wound to the head would be a certain defense for an unlucky human.

[ shot of him pulling into his parking lot, getting out of car. ]

Voiceover: [ as he does all of the following ]

[ tries flicking things. ]

		I've been trying to flick objects of varying sizes and
                densities at a target, a foot wide square of flypaper
                strips. Maybe if I'd learned young enough, or had been
                practicing for decades, maybe I could hit the center spot
                five times out often. I'm talking about from ten feet
[ does a snort of a teensy bit of 'vampire repellant', spends next few
minutes trying to pull his head off. Several snap cuts of suffering ought to
do it. ] 

Voiceover, continued:

		I tried a bit of this stuff on myself, and it is definitely
                some kind of nasty stuff. I spent the next twenty minutes
                with slow, powerful cramps twisting my spine, and for the
                next hour or so, I was seized by a nameless dread. When I
                was in college, I had heard of The Fear, a proscribed Soviet
                torture chemical mostly used in the dreaded psychiatric
                prisons. Nobody ever voluntarily uses it twice.

[ examined fingernails, sees lines deeply grooved in them. makeup w/ latex
if required. ] 

Voiceover, continued:

		A week later, I noticed the telltale fingernail striations
                of arsenic poisoning. 

[ Shots of Actor1 at a pharmacy counter, then at home mixing chemicals. ]

Voiceover, continued:

		I went to the drugstore and bought the components of Marsh's
                test, and tested the "vampire repellent". 

[ Silvery deposit forms on side of heated glass tube. ]

Actor1: 	Arsenic positive!  That would explain guy's complexion and
		his debilitated posture.

[ flash cut back to scene on train, zooming in on the accuracy of the people
flicking icky stuff. Voiceover with flashback - ] 

Voiceover, sounding astonished:

		Some of the folks flicking slow murder at a skinny,
                sickly-looking white boy were firing bank shots nearly
                thirty feet, rebounding shots that were all, or almost all,
                hitting the mark.

[ end flashback - cut to present. Actor1 sets tube down, and begins to put
things away. ]

Actor1: 	Cliches... - cliches come to mind. They can be old or trite
                - but they express complex thought in simple familiar terms. 
                This whole affair reeks of cliche... but which ones? I gotta
                go back downtown.

[ several diferent scenes, diffferent places, different people. All are
making strange gestures, not so weird as gang-sign, but definitely sorta
weird, unusual. ]

Voiceover:	People making strange gestures. Not any sign language I know
                of, and my mother was deaf, and taught the deaf. I sign
                rather well, myself.  Sign language between spies? Can't be
                that many spies in town. We're talking majority here. How
                long would spies last, anyway, against "vampires"?  Perhaps
                there really are no ordinary people in the espionage
                business. Or [ shocked sounding ] perhaps a capital
                populated exclusively by "vampires" would be a simple
                effective defense against penetration by Cold War enemies
                who were, after all, central European whites,
                indistinguishable from the majority of Americans. [ sounds
                stressed-out! ] But are they taking orders, or giving

[ he sees: DC officer ticketing a jaywalker twenty yards from a
crack corner. The out-of-towner is aghast, his New Jersey accent
strident above the noise of traffic. A cruiser pulls up. ]

The Jerseyite: 	Jaywalking's not an arrestable offense! 

Beat Cop: 	Yer right. It's not. You're creating a disturbance.

Jerseyite: 	[ points at rockboys. ]

		Look at these guys, tell me they're not doing something

[ cop shows a lot of nice teeth, grabs him under the armpit and throws him
in the cruiser. Violently - grabs him under the armpit, bangs his head
against the door on the way in, etc. Blood splashes. The cruiser speed off,
zoom in tight but thrashing to see the cops in the cruiser doing...
something... to the man. It doesn't look like first aid. The Beat cop walks
on. The crack dealers grin... showing teeth most of the way back to their
small pointy ears. Actor1 does a fade. Cut to him boarding bus. ]

[ scenes from U street at night. best-of series of shots, corresponding to
voiceover. ] 

Voiceover:	There are as many people on the streets at night as there
                are during the day, all young, all hip, all well and
                fashionably dressed. Even in the dimly lit bars their pupils
                barely dilate. They are very hard to see in the dark
                corners... and in the light, they are often rather pale.
		There is something strange about their hands.

[ best-of series of shots, show close-ups of people with weird hands, diong
weird things with their weird hands, unusual finger postures, etc. ]

[ lots of shots of 'different'-looking people ] 

Voiceover:	Many, if not most of the non-tourists in town have very
                strange thumbs... and a powerful ridge of muscle to operate
                the little fingers. There is something... variant... about
                the shoulder structures.

		A lot of the people here walk that cocky homeboy strut. 
                Others glide silently by me as I eat my burger in Dupont
                Circle at high noon, light glinting off of their
                UV-protected mirror shades... and their predatory gait
                reminds me of well-fed lions... 

[ tight action shot of person using a blinding laser on another person , who
acts a bit dazed and then - ]

Voiceover:	I also saw what was evidently a modified version of the
                popular quarter-watt infrared-laser cigarette lighter... 
                pointed directly into the side of a man's eyes... when the
                man turned in that direction, the other was already walking
                away with the device pocketed... an excellent sleight of
                hand routine, but fearfully practical, too much so for my

[ tight correspondence on voice and action as dazed blinded man walks in
front of a bus - snap cut with dubbed impact-sounds, bus flies by right in
front of camera, show bloody dead guy on side of road in front of One
Dupont Circle. ]

Voiceover: 	I saw the man walk into a moving bus, which sped through
                suddenly conspicuously absent traffic, coming directly out
                of his conveniently-placed new blind spot.

[ Looks around for the guy with the cigarette lighter laser, and sees him
smiling as he looks at the dead guy. Actor1 starts to look openly paranoid.

[ He buys some mirrored wraparound sunglasses from a sidewalk vendor... who
makes a sign to the guy with the laser. Actor1 doesn't see it. ]

[ sees all of the below actions.... voicover in synchrony with
observations.] [ will need some special effects! ]

Voiceover:	On the train today, I saw more signing and silent
                lipspeech... like my mother and I often used to communicate
                when signing might not have been polite... I caught some of
                it... and looked at the man next to me. He was regarding me
                calmly, but my pulse quickened, for he was looking directly
                sideways at me - without turning his head. His eye was
                rotated at more than 90 degrees from the forward plane... In
                the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king, and this
                man could get his one eye focused directly where I have
                limited peripheral vision at best. 

[ back to some "best-of" shots of "different"-looking people... the
seriously weird. Especially film some "stapled necks". ]

Voiceover:	Now I can no longer ignore the unusual zygomatic arch
                placement I've seen so often here in the Nation's Capitol. I
                can also no longer ignore the variances in the location of
                the foramen magnum, nor in the temporomandibular joint, nor
		in the way that some people look... modified... as if their 
		necks have had surgery to conceal their differences. 

[ note on the special effects on the weird-guy's eye:

	"His eye was so strange... as I looked away I thought I
	glimpsed his cornea, which had been greatly curved, flattening as
	if he were able, by some muscular action, to change the curvature,
	using it as a secondary lens, and it seemed to change colors, even
	as I watched." ]

[ more interior of train shots. watches the below. film several incidents of
the below-described, and then flash-cut through them. ] 

Voiceover:	On another train, I saw a -(I don't know what I saw; I can
                no longer think of these beings which seem to have occupied
                my Nation's Capital as human)- ...person purse his lips,
                revealing a short piece of drinking-straw which he blew
                through, firing a small dart of some sort into the neck of
                the man (this one _was_ a Man) who absently scratched his
                neck, and shortly thereafter fell into a deep sleep. The
                person who had fired the dart gave me an amused look, as if
                _daring_ me to do anything about this activity of his.

[ follow him exiting the Metro system, struggling to not run, trying to
remain calm. He's blatantly paranoid, and people are starting to bother him
wherever he goes, starting to flick stuff at him. He mutters almost constantly, usually inaudibly, but
sometimes speaking aloud. Lots of snap cuts and flash cuts to whatever he's
muttering about, illustrative of disordered thinking. ] 

Actor1: 	Cliches! Damn... Mr. Attorney. Hah! cliche... him and his
                story... damn.. that was _rehearsed_! done it before? 
                Cliche! which cliche? "Hatchet job!" Innocent until proven
                guilty? Attorney my ass. Hands like damned monkey and he can
                tell some well-thought-out-lies... and that grin! Cliches... 
                and more cliches. I've been thinking, and thinking... 
                Cliches. I know which cliches! Red Herrings. Stalking-horses. 
[sneering]      Mr. Attorney with the hatchet-job: pots calling kettles
                black. It all makes sense now! These people think in
                cliches! And what cliche applies to me here? I know; I'm
                being thrown to the wolves.

[ massages neck, has a cramp, grimaces, he's developed a facial tic too. ] 

Actor1: 	God, my neck hurts.

[ someone uses a clear plastic hose to blow powder right up his nose. He
starts to choke, and cramp more, and looks terrified. ]

		Damn, it's getting harder to breathe... damn, there's got to
		be a way out of here... so afraid...

[ He lurks around town, and people point at him. He gets on a few busses,
tried to hide in the crowds, people stare at him openly (as seen through the
camera, hostile looks at the camera. ] 

Bus Driver1:	Hi Bob.

[ later, another bus ]

Bus Driver2:	Hi Bob.

[ later, another bus ] 

Bus Driver3:	Hi, Bob.

Voiceover [ show all of the below ] :

		I've been around town, in and out, and the bus drivers all
                call me by name, and the foreigners all point and whisper
                when they see me board. I've seen something totally new,
                some sort of crystalline injector that look like clear
                monofilament, inserted into people's scalps, necks, wrists
                or elbows, which seem to result in some sort of suggestible
                state, though once I thought I saw someone drop stone dead
                after the application of such a device. Will I be next? Or
                do they have something more sinister in store for me?

[ show him looking at his hands again, lines on fingernails are really deep,
he's got (makeup) ugly looking warts and stuff, a fingernail falls off. Show
him shopping, people treating him very rudely, showing him pins and needles,
reaching for his back, all of the usual jive. ]

Voiceover:	The striations on my fingernails have deepened, and my food
                in my locked security townhouse tested positive for arsenic
                for a week, and then didn't test positive. In the meantime,
                I've been eating out of cans, or I was until I saw that
                nobody in my usual store was buying any canned goods.  As I
                picked out a can of tuna, several... individuals turned and
                smiled at me. They let me see a lot of teeth, anyway. I
                bought the tuna, not wanting to look suspicious... I thought
                I saw something like a dark-colored hypodermic vanishing up
                the sleeve of the cashier as she weighed my bag of

[ tight close up on prestidigitation (use a stand-in for the close-up)
injecting oranges, rubber band pulls hypo back up sleeve ]

		oranges. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a very
		small amount of food that I am afraid to eat.

[ show him trying to test his food for poison, doesn't work. ] 

		I used the Marsh's test on some arsenical rat poison I had
                bought, and it didn't indicate, so I can't even get a
                reliable test in this town. My skin has taken on a
                grayish-white tone, and in the sunlight, I look like a dead

[ he watches on the train, crouched against the back seat, as he tries to
lip-read a conversation he can't quite make out, as Actor2 and other people
all flick "vampire repellant" at him, as some guy, acting just like Actor1
did when he first saw the geek, grins, flicks his thumbs at him, and turns
to listen to Actor2 as he starts to tell the same story again. ] 

Voiceover:	Today, I watched, terrified, on the train, as they flicked
                their slow poisons at me, and watched an out-of-towner
                listen credulously to a tale told of me and my crimes... and
                on the street today, pointed fingers followed me, and so did
                the whispers... whispers saying: "El Vampiro... Vampire/Man."

[ as he wanders off of the Metro, hostile eyes follow him everywhere, people
point, people whisper, young toughs finger knives, pretty girls spit and the
camera tracks lipreading saying "dracula" "el-vampiro" "vampire" "man"
vampire-man" fading in and out as the Actor1 fades in and out as he wanders
and closes up ] 

Actor1: 	I hope I can be brave... gotta hold together hold together -
                hold together long enough to think this through... I think
                they may know I've been thinking. I think, oh god they know
                I'm thinking oh god.  I'm thinking of leaving the country. 
                I wish I could leave the planet.

[ cut to credits , roll them fast. ] 

Cut to Actor2:	And don't forget to send more tourists to Washington, DC. 
                The last ones were right tasty. And we particularly find the
                way they squirmed to be most amusing. Oh, and thank you for
                continuing to vote.

[ cut and wrap ]