INT. Flat. Night.
Fingers are picking petals from a flower, a vision of bunch being held blooms into view, back to fingers crushing them in the dark, slowly, then in savage rage.
Music: Placebo, Running Up That Hill:
One petal falls to the floor...
A man stands bare chested before a mirror, young, handsome, with swollen eyes, dirt & emotion stain his body. He adjusts the military beret on his head.
He grinds a petal beneath his fingers.
He salutes his reflection in the mirror.
The glass shatters beneath his fist, against the mirror, long shadows are cast in the candlelight.
INT. Living Room.
The man is swaying hypnotically to music...
Music: Nirvana, Something in the Way:
Glass crumbles to the floor, he giggles...
Segue: Man pissing out of the window...
Between laughing and crying, he picks a shard of glass from the window, holding it over the flame of the candle. Once blackened, he removes it, reverently pressing it to his chest. He grimaces against the burning. Blood gushes out.
Segue: Grinding flower stem into the carpet:
He is in the shower, oblivious to the cold water, the shard of glass is one hand, a bottle of vodka in the other.
(Examining the glass)
This is my rifle...
(Examining the vodka)
... this is my gun...
(Slashes arm with the glass)
... this for fighting...
(Swigs the vodka)
... this is for fun!
His words echo, mixed with half-laughter, half-crying. He lifts his head up, gasping against the cold water.
EXT. Street. Night.
The man looks around, perplexed at his sudden change of scenery, he squints through the emptying vodka bottle, the location becomes distorted...
... Men in paramilitary gear shoot guns, bodies lie twisted and broken on the floor...
The man closes his eyes against the memory.
Evening darling, nice jacket.
Vision shows a haggard woman of indeterminate age, ghost of an alluring grin lingers on her face. He examines his jacket, a regimental coat, he itches his bare chest.
Would a brass take payments in brass buttons?
What's your name, soldier boy?
Oh? Come to rescue me then?
I can't even help myself, so you've got a snowball's chance in Helmand darling!
He staggers up, she grabs his arm.
Come on, indulge me. I do love a guy in uniform.
How about Old Bill? That's right, 'cos what you're doing is illegal ain't it!
He snatches his arm, a hand clasps him on the shoulder, a thuggish looking ape leers in his face.
Don't like my lady? Conversation is part of the service squaddie! Pay up or be put down!
Hero clasps the pimp's hand and twists it back, the pimp cries out. The pimp tries to swing a punch, Hero releases the first hand, clasps the pimp's second arm and twists it behind his back, taking him down to the floor. Hero drives his knee into his back as blue lights distort his vision...
EXT. Afghan Village. Day.
... Hero is in full army gear, patrolling. He stops at a stall in a small market place and examines the flowers. He selects a few and smiles to the stallholder. He ventures further into the village, outside, he approaches a small herd of goats and hands some flowers to an unseen figure.
I thought you'd like these.
A blast shudders everything around them, roars and screams erupt as if from the ground...
INT. Police Cell. Day.
Hero is retching over a toilet pan. Nothing else comes up, he slides onto the floor. Some time later the door opens and a Police Officer stands over him, almost angelic.
Time you were out of here.
EXT. Street. Day.
Hero shoves the paper work thoughtlessly into his pocket. Wrenching his hand free, pulling out a plastic toy soldier. He aimlessly scratches the plastic.
We all fall down...
... You ever gonna get back up, Sarge?
Hero turns, he is met by a stern, yet sympathetic man, around his own age, in Police uniform.
You're a wreck...
... So's the Titanic, it's still a legend.
... Yeah, legend. You were a bastion of heroism at Camp Bastion. But now, you're lost on maneouvres deep in the wilderness, with no radio back to base.
Wow, got a little philosophical behind a desk, have we?
All I'm saying is, somewhere behind those piss hole in the snow eyes and stench of stale cider, was a Squadron Leader me and every other lad in our platoon wanted to be.
He pulls out a tenner and slaps it into Hero's hand.
Just a small token of my appreciation. Use it towards scrabbling your life back together.
The Policeman retreats. Hero looks at the tenner, it transforms into a bottle of Scotch.
EXT. Seafront. Day.
A heavily consumed bottle of Scotch languishes at the hero's feet. His red eyes glare out at the thrashing sea, it has the land to take out it's fury on. Hero returns to scribbling on a notepad:
(Take Us to the Vets)
A soldier is entropy personified, Ordered vessel meting out chaos,
(Outside a club taunting bouncers)
Armies deal in maximum collapse, Laying waste to land, corroding culture,
(Vomiting on the beach, smashing a bottle on a breakwater, grinding glass into sand, it mixes with his blood)
The MOD's Model. Now you, the disseminator of death is done,
Music: The Doors, The End.
Ready to be flung, in the wasteland, A dump where the veterans flounder, The dead receive adulation as heroes, Even nothing is deemed too much for us ...
Hero smears sand over his face, he runs along the beach, playing war games with memory, vision and hearing bombarded by gunfire. Barracks and beach blend, until Hero is on his knees, throttling a mound of sand. He collapses into it.
INT. Office. Day.
Hero glances around the Job Centre, confused. A nearby bunch of flowers wrench memory from his bile duct, bullets, dust and death. He stems the shakes from the all-seeing-eye "Job Advisor." She studies him like a disdainful vulture, impatiently waiting for it's quarry to die.
Have you been drinking?
We need to drink to survive, right?
(As the hero is forced on a work placement, in Poundland)
I am afraid you do not match recent changes to disability criteria. PTSD means you are still physically capable of work.
He encounters a cocky young boss, who thinks Hero is an easy target. Hero is transfixed on the shelves...
EXT. Village. Day.
... Everything moves in slow motion as our Hero, dressed as a soldier is in a standoff, gun aimed. Insurgents are holding a figure laden with explosives. They remove the balaclava, the soldier screams.
The soldier lifts a niqab from a woman's face, smiles, caresses her face (that we don't see) and leans in...
INT. Store. Day.
A sharp elbow brings Hero back to life.
These boxes aren't going to stack themselves are they?
He shoves Hero, he retaliates by chopping at the boss' windpipe...
Hero climbs over the fence, police lights vanish into the distance. He turns to see a boatyard and sneaks onto the nearest boat. He slumps against a rail of the bow, sighing, dousing his throat in vodka, eyes shut. Light disturbs his slumber, a luminescence from the water. It's shine increases with Hero's interest, a second sun imprisoned in the depths of the ocean. A silhouette emerges in the centre of the glare.
Set your pain free, set it free forever to sail upon the sea!
Hero turns, a young woman with tattered clothes and scraped up hair smiles sheepishly. Hero offers her the vodka...
Hero and THE LADY have polished off most of the vodka.
You ever gonna tell me why you're chucking that down your neck as though you were overboard gulping down brine?
Toasting a lady, she weren't allowed to drink... I'm making up for the many things she'll miss... Drowning's too good for me love!
Hero is on patrol through a dusty village. The wind blows up, blowing a woman over, knocking her veil and flowers to the ground. He picks her up and takes her to her hut, washing her cuts clean. They begin meeting in secret, at night, after this... Soon after, Hero is relaxing with several of his mates in their tent, they are disturbed by gunfire from insurgents. Hero is drawn to a figure, dressed as a paramilitary, clutched by two insurgents, all are strapped with explosives. They tear the central figure's balaclava off...
You always stop there! What are you holding on to?
He struggles, smashes the bottle, blood spurts from his hand.
The Lady pauses...
EXT. Afghan Village. Day.
A bullet goes through the woman's head. Hero roars, turns and opens fire, filling a fellow soldier with bullets. He freezes in horror. Facing his Afghan lover, their eyes lock as her consciousness fades. Life ebbs from her as everything goes white.
EXT. Boat. Night.
Hero grabs a shard of glass and lunges for his neck, The Lady grabs his wrist.
If she had never known me, If I'd have stuck to my duty. I wouldn't have taken all those lives, killed one of my men!
He presses the glass into his neck, they wrestle to stop and digging in. The Lady manages to pull it away.
She forgives you.
Hero breaks down...
EXT. Ship. Night.
Hero sobs in memory, the sea thrashes under his anguish. Hero is dozing on deck. The shimmering over deck grabs his attention again. He peers over, a mermaid thrashes in the water, a strange mixture of an alien and the woman he loved.
Set her free, let her see the sea...
The noise echoes in his head, he takes a deep breath and dives in to be with the mermaid... They swim around, the mermaid's face morphs from serene to his Afghan lover.
EXT. Afghan Village. Day.
He holds the Afghan woman. She is not bloodied or dying.
I wish we could stay together.
We will always be together. You must live your life, now let me swim free.
Hero and the shimmering mermaid kiss.
EXT. Boat. Day.
Hero leap awake. He stumbles up and looks out over the sea. There is no shimmering, the sea looks more magical. He ventures to the back of the ship. The Lady sleeps rouses as he nears, looking up, then leaping up.
Fuck off perv!
... I ain't fucking easy either!
She reaches into her pocket and takes out a knife, mumbling and whining to herself. A flower falls to the floor...
Hero brings his Afghan sweetheart a bunch of flowers identical to the one the floor of the boat...
EXT. Boat. Day.
... The Lady backs away, clutching her knife, muttering and whining. Hero remains where he is, hands raised, until she is ashore and gone. He stoops and picks up the flower. A spectral hand of his love curls around the bloom. His eyes sting with tears.
EXT. Shoreline. Day.
Hero squats by the shore. He reaches into his pocket and takes out the toy soldier. He puts the flower in the water and the soldier atop it. It drifts off into the distance.
You've finally seen the sea.
He stands, turns and walks into a brightening day.
Credits Music: Oasis: Some Might Say:
© Brad James (Bradley James Yellop) of Tombola Pictures, 2013.