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Screenplay fragment #1
Alchemy
_fustian



"ALCHEMY"
(A Screenplay)

Written by Jeremy







FADE IN:



THE SCREEN

is in inky darkness, slowly warming to a dim yellow-orange as light 
seeps in from at the bottom of frame. Close up we hear a WOMAN's
BREATHING, shallow and rapid. She is frightened.

Several rooms away and muffled to unintelligibility a SPEECHMAKER 
is delivering a rousing address in a broad Virginian accent, and
occasionally his small audience LAUGHS, CLAPS or STOMPS
appreciatively.

The BREATHING is slowing, calmer now.

Then FOOTSTEPS approach, and suddenly a doorway is torn in the
blackness.










INT. CONFEDERATE MANSION CORRIDOR - NIGHT

We see a brightly-lit corridor beyond.

Framed in the door is WILLIAM BUCKLEY, a bespectacled man in his 
mid-thirties, dressed as a footman. The WOMAN chokes off a high-pitched 
gasp.

The SPEECHMAKING and GENERAL CHATTER become louder and clearer, although 
they are still several rooms away.



 

               SPEECHMAKER (O.S.)
...Illinois court clerk thinks our resolve shaken
by his pious speechifying Thursday last, then he 
understands even less the high and noble spirit in 
which this land of ours was conceived than he seems 
to know about conception of a more earthly nature.


 

WILLIAM

leans forward, peering into the camera, then pulls back sharply and 
beckons O.S. to left as he swings the door closed again.

More BOOTSTEPS approach from the left. We hear brief, low-pitched and 
urgent WHISPERS from beyond the door.

THE DOOR

is opened again, and MAJOR STORMONT HARRISON and a uniformed Confederate 
SOLDIER have joined WILLIAM in the narrow corridor.

MAJOR HARRISON, an aging North Carolinian gentleman in civilian finery, 
turns from WILLIAM towards the camera, leans forward and braces on his 
legs, hands mid-thigh.




 

	MAJOR HARRISON
	(overlapping)
Why, hello missy. Fancy you being in there.


 

MAJOR HARRISON

straightens and turns again to WILLIAM, the expression on his face 
dissolving to a furious grimace.




 

	MAJOR HARRISON
	(soto voce)
Blast the boy! Go tell them; hurry now!


 

WILLIAM nods and sets off quickly to the left, while

MAJOR HARRISON

turns again and slowly lowers himself into a half-squat, peering into 
the dimly-lit space. His reassuring smile and tone is patronising and 
unconvincing.




 

	MAJOR HARRISON
It's dark in there, now isn't it? And you must
be awfully cold, dressed like that.


 

In the distance the sounds of the AUDIENCE are interrupted by sharp 
BANGING, as of a cane or cudgel on the wooden floor.




 

	WILLIAM (O.S.)
Gentlemen. May I have your attention, please.



	MAJOR HARRISON
        (overlapping)
We can't have you catching your death, now can
we?


 

MAJOR HARRISON

still smiling into the camera, extends his right arm behind him and 
SNAPS his fingers twice. 




 

	WILLIAM (O.S.)
Momentarily, you will hear a shot. Do not be
alarmed.


 

The SOLIDER places his pistol in MAJOR HARRISON's hand, and without 
looking away the older man swings the gun smoothly towards the camera.




 

	WOMAN
	(terrified moan)
Oooohhhh!


 

The camera angles up towards the ceiling and a single, very loud GUNSHOT 
rings out. The camera jerks once, sharply, THE SCREEN flashes deep red, 
and suddenly we are looking upwards inside the WALL CAVITY of the house,
dimly lit from below. O.S. we hear the DOOR close again.




INT./EXT. THE MANSION AND BEYOND - NIGHT (CONTINUOUS)

As the camera rises vertically in the wall-space, the OPENING TITLE MUSIC 
begins and the OPENING CREDITS begin to appear. The camera then drifts 
into the roofspace of the mansion, turns horizontally and passes through 
a rough brick wall into an attic crowded with strange objects and suffused 
in an unearthly radiance. As it moves along the length of the attic, 
slowly picking up speed and beginning to swing from side to side, 
creatures, floating glyphs and half-human faces emerge from the attic's 
contents like psychedelic hallucinations, increasing in intensity and 
becoming more animated as the camera progresses. Just as it seems the 
room must come to an end, the camera's swing-to-the-right takes it out 
through the roof itself, spinning dizzyingly, the mansion and countryside 
below barely glimpsed, into a night sky alight with stars.

Still turning, the camera arrows upward towards the supernaturally 
dazzling Milky Way, as the atmosphere thins and falls behind. The MAIN 
TITLES appear as the camera dives towards the heart of the galaxy, the 
distant stars approaching much too fast. Then suddenly the camera swoops 
upwards again in a long curve and begins to skim over what is now clearly 
a broad, black, still expanse of water with the stars reflected in its 
surface. Now the great, dark gash in the side of the Milky Way has become 
a long, narrow runway on the lake's surface, with an even blacker hole, 
a frozen whirlpool of night, waiting at its end. When the camera reaches 
this hole, it tips down into it, falling into an abyssal darkness as the 
final CREDITS run.

Far below, a twinkle of orange light appears, and grows quickly into a 
warm blaze of burning wood and coals. Just before the camera falls into 
this fire, it swings upwards once again and emerges from the hearth of a 
small smoking room where three men, one of whom is MAJOR HARRISON, shake 
hands and drink over a tableful of maps, ledgers and documents. The 
camera, moving like a small bird, circles the room before plunging 
through the wall above the door opposite the hearth, along the top of a 
short passage, through a second wall and into a well illuminated hall 
where a small crowd of men, nearly half in military uniform, sit or 
stand around a large oak table. They are in the process of a toast, and 
as the camera swoops and dives through the crowd, heading towards a 
corridor opposite, we hear:




 

	TOASTMASTER
...may that great event, precisely one hundred
years from this night, herald a true
Confederate Century of unprecedented...


 

Then it is through, halfway down the corridor, turning in a tight circle 
before the fourth door on the right, then through it and plunging down, 
down into the dark space beyond...




  • 1

Oh, Meester Hart..!

So much for LiveJournal's formatting options—too much damned whitespace. Still, I guess if you use preformatted HTML you've gotta expect problems. I'll probably fix this one day, but for now at least it's up there, placeholderish crap though it is. Sigh. This screenwriting stuff's a lot harder than it looks. I knew I was a humble editor for a reason!

Re: Oh, Meester Hart..!


Hey, how about an lj-cut as well? ;P

That said, it reads OK.

And 'hello', btw...

Re: Oh, Meester Hart..!

Done—although that mangles the formatting even more! :/

Thanks for the feedback. Of course, this fragment gives very little sense of the story itself (other than implying a Conspiracy originating in The South—the meeting in Harrison's house takes place on 22-Nov-1863, btw). I'll try to post some more relevant stuff soon.

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