Cause And Effect


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Scene Title Cause and Effect
Synopsis Cause and effect is a relationship between events or things, where one is the result of the other or others. This is a combination of action and reaction.
Date April 8, 2019

A pair of dim headlights cut through a low-lying ground fog. It's a warm night, one of the first warm nights since the end of winter. The rumble of a pickup truck's engine cuts through the otherwise silent marshlands surrounding what used to be Staten Island's Greenbelt region. Now everything is the Greenbelt in one way or another, an island overgrown with trees and waist-high grass, where buildings are consumed by nature, unless you count the distant neon glow of the Rookery, blooming in the fog.

The humid, cool night air blows through the pickup truck's open window, and spilling out from inside are the synth beats of the Alan Parson's Project. The truck's driver drums his hand against the side of the door, arm hanging out the window, gooseflesh on his forearm from the satisfying chill in the damp air. As he bobs his head along, he looks over to an old atlas spread out across the passenger seat, a shovel laid across it along with a pair of work gloves. When he looks back up to the road, his headlights illuminate the pale silhouette of a woman standing in the middle of the road.

What goes up must come down

He screams, jerking the wheel to the right and careening off the road into a culvert. Brakes do nothing on wet grass except tear muddy furrows in the soil. The truck fishtails, sideswipes the treeline in a riotous crash of metal. The passenger's side window erupts in a shower of glass, scattering down on the atlas across the passenger's seat and the shovel goes rattling down onto the floor. An oblong shape once carried in the bed of the truck has been slung out of the open tailgate, now resting in a tangle of black plastic in the wet grass.

What must rise must fall

The driver exhales a breath, ears ringing, world spinning even though the truck has stopped. He looks in his rear view mirror, sees that the bed of his truck is empty and fumbles several times with the door handle before finally forcing his way out of the truck, wobbling, and immediately crashing onto his side in the grass. "Fuck, fuck," he hisses, fingers finding purchase in the soft soil, pulling up brown grass as he tries to get back onto his feet. It's only then that he notices a faint greenish glow coming from the sky, where wandering motes of jade colored light are dissipating like smoke.

And what goes on in your life

"Fucking fuck this fucking island." His radio is still playing in the background as he stumbles toward the plastic-wrapped parcel he'd been carrying. Halfway there he remembers why he spun off the road and looks up the embankment to see a tall woman standing on the roadside, watching him. Panic sets in and the driver begins hustling back to his truck, even as the woman on the side of the road starts hastily coming down the embankment on bare feet.

Is writing on the wall!

"Hey!" She shouts, "Hey, wait!"

If all things must fall

The driver, bleeding slightly from the side of his head where he struck the door, crawls back into his truck and pops open his glovebox, pulling out a handgun. "Sir! Excuse me, sir!" He can hear the woman calling out behind him as he turns around, pistol out and trained on her. She freezes in place, hands up and eyes wide.

Why build a miracle at all?

Pausing as he stares at the woman, the driver tenses his finger around the handgun's trigger. He recognizes her. But there's no recognition in her eyes.

If all things must pass

"You work for Black, don't you?" He asks, but he already knows the answer. She does, and her expression solidifies it as recognition. Fog rolls slowly from the treeline, and there's only one headlight cutting through it now.

Even a miracle won't last

"I don't know what's going on," she says, looking reflexively over to the dark shape of wrapped plastic and regretfully seeing a bare arm sticking out from the wrapping. She closes her eyes, takes in a sharp breath,and then flicks her attention back to the driver with a growing tension in her shoulders.

What goes up must come down

"Really sorry," he says with a twitch of his brows, "nothing against you or Mr. Black, but you weren't supposed to see th— "

What must stand alone

He fires the gun, but not at her center mass. He doesn't even get to finish his sentence before his arm is broken in three places. Ulna and humerus are shattered, his wrist is dislocated, the gun is bent at the barrel and he is thrown back into his truck so hard it dents the side and rocks it up onto two wheels. The driver falls to the ground, an unconscious and bleeding heap. The woman stands over him, breathing heavy, and looks into the truck to spot the shovel and atlas, then back to the man now laying at her bare feet.

And what goes on in your mind

Long-legged strides carry the blonde woman across the grass toward the black plastic, where that pale arm sticks out in the dim light cast by the glow of the truck's one headlight. She comes to a stop, now able to see the pallid, dirt-smudged skin covered in bruises, cuts, and scars. Her chest tightens, eyes become glassy, and her face flushes a violent red. The woman's corpse that she sees twisted in the plastic has ligature marks at her wrists from rope, one eye a bloodshot mess, the other missing. A bullet hole in her forehead.

Is turning into stone!

Long-legged strides carry the blonde woman back to the truck, where the driver is slowly trying to move with an agonized groan. He can't even feel the pain of his broken arm through the concussion and the shock. She comes to a stop over him, wide-eyed and enraged, and lifts one of her feet up and brings it down as hard as she can onto his face. The driver's skull ruptures like a split melon. his jaw breaks at his front teeth and most of the mess is held together by the elasticity of his skin. She screams, the brutalized corpse beneath her heel gurgles once, fingers twitching.

If all things must fall

With a shuddering, confused breath she steps back and scrubs her foot clean against the grass. Her stomach turns, adrenaline and rage turning it into a boiling pit of acid. She turns, retching into the grass, little more than bile and spit. She hadn't realized how hungry she was until that moment, hands trembling.

Why build a miracle at all?

She allows herself a moment of emotion and confusion.

If all things must pass

One more.

Even a pyramid won't last


How can you be so sure?

She's quick to rush to the driver's body, pull off his boots and slide her feet into them, lacing them up tight enough that they'll stay on. She reaches across the seat, pulls his wallet out of the center console. Money is stripped from the wallet and the rest discarded into the blood pooling around her shoes.

How do you know what the end will endure?

She looks down to the corpse, stuffing the money into her tattered slacks, notices she's wearing a pair of suspenders, a blood-stained white dress shirt. Where the fuck have I been? The nightmarish question is raised as she turns from the truck and starts jogging up the hill.

How can you be so sure

As she reaches the road, she stops, music still audible at her back from the truck. To her right, there's the distant lights of the Rookery, to her left, the darkness of a long and winding road.

That the wonders you've made in your life will be seen

Hands trembling, she takes her first step onto the broken asphalt.

By the millions who'll follow to visit the site

Where have I been?

Of your dream?

Then another.

What goes up must come down

Not to the Rookery, but down the road less traveled, into the darkness…

What goes 'round must come 'round

…to an uncertain future.

What's been lost must be found


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