Based on: "Equilibrium," starring Christian Bale and Emily Watson. Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer.
Summary: In a society where peace is the ultimate form of violence, who has the power to set us free? (An alternate scenario based on characters and situations from the movie.)
Disclaimers: As they say in Hollywood, 'inspired' by the 2002 genre film "Equilibrium." The characters are borrowed without permission, but I promise to return them safely. Consider this an alternate treatment where the lead female protagonist survives. Otherwise, the setting and the characters remain pretty much the same. Apologies to writer/director Kurt Wimmer and the studio in advance. As if anyone really pays attention to this crap anyway...
The first draft was a shadow. The second, a story. In between, there was an editor. Thanks, KW, for helping make this into the best it could be...
"Equilibrium" Plot Summary (from IMDB) -- In a futuristic world, a strict regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions. Books, art and music are strictly forbidden and feeling is a crime punishable by death. Cleric John Preston (Bale) is a top ranking government agent responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. When he misses a dose of Prozium, a mind-altering drug that hinders emotion, Preston, who has been trained to enforce the strict laws of the new regime, suddenly becomes the only person capable of overthrowing it.
"We are an impossibility in an impossible universe."
-- Ray Bradbury
They are ten days past her scheduled burning.
Mary sits in her cell and stares. Her eyes pick apart the minute imperfections in the concrete wall opposite her. She cannot understand why they are late. The Hall of Destruction is notoriously precise in carrying out its sentences.
She wonders idly if the Cleric has something to do with it. He seems to feel connected to her somehow, though why exactly, she does not know.
But she has heard he was arrested. The Underground maintains its network even within the internment. And the way it was told, he was taken sometime shortly after their last meeting together.
Mary frowns, relaxing her concentration slightly.
He should have known better than to touch her. Everybody knows that interrogations are carefully videographed. Off his interval, he was her last hope. A focus, a center -- a riddle that kept her brain sharp and her nerves intact trying to solve it. Now, he is gone.
She wonders again at the delay.
How could it have come to this? Twelve years of dedication and struggle -- of beating the system, of living -- reduced to a pathetic countdown of the last seconds of her life.
She will not fight them when they come. The Pentothal trips of the last week have taken their toll on her resolve. They didn't get much beyond a précis of William Gibson, which is as it should be. But Mary understands now that there will never be any escape from this ordeal. No freedom for her ever again. They have destroyed her life as she knew it. That is their victory.
Dying will be hers.
There is a murmur of voices on the other side of the door and her consciousness slowly expands. Perhaps they are here at last. Perhaps it is time.
She stands as the door swings open and bows her head, ready to meet her fate. They will want her to don the robes, she thinks. Ridiculous. Like the fucking Carousel on Logan's Run. One day, DuPont and the Council will wake up to the fact that they haven't had a single original idea in their entire existence. Maybe then Libria can come alive.
Mary raises her head. Time seems to stutter and stand still.
He is standing right there inside her cell -- a blurred silhouette against the twenty-four hour glare. John Preston, Tetragrammaton Cleric First Class. Come to collect her for...processing.
Her breath catches. She looks into his dark, fathomless eyes. The roar of her pulse rushes wildly in her ears.
So, the rumors were incorrect. Or they've changed the rules of the game on her yet again. Did they...could they have released him just for this?
She longs to ask the question, but he is, after all, a Cleric. She knows he will not answer.
Instead, he beckons to her with a gloved hand. She steps forward and he secures the manacles on her wrists. His touch is restrained. Maybe even gentle.
But his expression does not change, although she is staring openly at him now. Instead, he takes her elbow with a polite grip and leads her to the door.
"It's time to go," he says. His voice is flat. Somehow, she senses they are not going to the furnaces.
The Sweeper Rank and File does nothing but stand in silence as he escorts her from the building.
Mary watches him furtively as he drives. The washed out light of a leaden sky filters through the tinted windows. Dull vidscreens flicker as Father spews the Ministry version of lies.
Gray, she thinks. All gray, all the time. The colors are all gone. Their brave new world went mad long ago, and all that is left now is the gray.
Colors were something she was good at once. Even with the Prozium, she was aware of them always. Red, blue, yellow, green -- so rich she could taste them like the finest vintage on her tongue.
And now there is the Cleric. He is a study in contrasts -- dressed all in black, skin deathly pale. Whiter than the last time she saw him. Dark hair falls across his forehead in thick slashes -- not slicked back as it was before. His face is still as beautiful as she remembers. But he is thinner now. And his eyes are rimmed with shadows as deep as bruises.
He looks tired.
Mary cannot remember ever seeing a Cleric looking tired, but there it is.
What does he want with her? Why is she here?
Confusion throbs at her temples; the ache of returning sensation.
She is attuned to every move he makes as he steers his way through the horde. Heaven help her, she can hear his very breath. She can smell him in the closed space of the car. Flesh and blood and the crisp velvet silk of his uniform.
And something else, she thinks. Like alcohol...and wintergreen. It is nothing more than the antiseptic compound they clean up with during internment. Yet the sharp scent seems to suit him perfectly.
Her blood thickens with awareness. Until she looks at him.
The Cleric's eyes are lifeless. Colder than even the first time -- when he came with the Rank to arrest her. To tear down everything she has ever loved.
It is the Prozium, she reflects with a sinking heart. They've taken him and dosed him. And now they are using him to get to her.
Her jaw tightens as she lets the anger flow. After all, he is no Trinity. And the Council is deluding itself if they think she will follow the White Rabbit that easily.
"I won't tell you anything," she blurts.
Her words shatter like glass in the empty silence.
He looks at her for a moment. "What?"
"I won't tell you," she says again. "The chemicals didn't work. Neither will this. You think a stay of execution from this miserable society is a gift?"
He opens his mouth to reply, but she flips up a hand.
"Wait. I forgot. You people are dead already."
Mary looks for something. A contradiction. Some change of expression. Anything. But the Cleric's stare is as cold and remote as the moon.
She tips up her chin. "You'll never get anything from me about the Underground."
"I know," he says softly. "I already told them that."
"What else did you tell them?"
"As much as I had to."
Something terrible there, in the way he says the words. Dark, clotted. Like a spatter of warm blood across her face.
Mary wonders immediately if she has made a mistake.
He did come to her, after her arrest. Over and over again. Why? She gave him nothing he hadn't already guessed. And still he came.
The suffering in his eyes that last time cut through her defenses cleanly. He was off his interval and he was fucked. They both knew it. His desperation called to everything that made her who she was.
And then, he touched her.
In a heartbeat, she was vulnerable, exposed -- emotion unfurling too quickly for her to save herself. When he left her, she prayed she might never have to see him again -- to be laid bare to the enemy that way.
But she had. Thoughts of him had filled the grim, empty hours more completely than anything else.
There was more.
Mary recalls the days that followed -- the time when the techs threw her back into her cell after her final review. She lay sprawled, on the floor -- gasping, feverish -- strung out on a potent mixture of methylenedioxy and scopolamine, barely able to remember her own name.
He came to her then, the Cleric. In her dreams. Erotic visions -- dark and disturbing -- prowling unfettered through her mental landscape.
She can still summon every thought, every sensation.
And now he is next to her.
Does she affect him the same way? Does he feel her?
She cannot be sure. Because to feel the same, he must first have the capacity to feel.
If only he would give her something; some sign that he is still the human being she once glimpsed. But there is nothing.
In any case, they have reached his home at last.