HARSH REALM

HARSH REALM

"Labyrinth (v2x17)"

by Anthony J Fuchs

TEASER

TIGHT SHOT on a closed human eye. It flutters open.

CLOSE SHOT of its owner. We find a man, CHRIS, dressed in Republican Guard uniform, lying on a red-brick floor.

INT. RED-BRICK ROOM

Chris occupies a small room, ten feet square, built entire-ly of red-brick. There is an open doorway on each wall.

Slow and strained, Chris struggles to his feet, shaking his head. He looks around the room, confusion setting in.

CHRIS

What the...

He slowly starts out of the room, hesitant.

INT. HALLWAY

Chris pokes his head out of the room to examine the hall. He looks right, then left; the hallway stretches for what looks like miles to his left. He turns back to the right, venturing out of the room and heading down the hallway.

He heads down a few yards of hallway before reaching a junction with three options; left, straight or right.

CHRIS' POV: to the left, the hallway makes a right about ten yards in. Up ahead, the hallway makes a left not far from his current position. To the right, the hallway also makes a right, perhaps 20 yards down.

Chris tentatively heads down the hall to his left. Quickly covering the ten yards to the corner, he looks down the new

corridor to the right. He is surprised to find a solid hall with no entrance where there should be an intersection on the right wall. Confused, he heads back to the four-way.

Down the hallway he was just in, that ended in a left turn, he no longer finds a left, but rather a right turn. With ever-growing confusion, he starts down the corridor to his right. At about 20 yards, the corridor makes a right turn. Chris makes the turn to find another immediate left. He stops, looking at the new turn. He looks back, at the turn he just made, and the straight hallway behind it. With a look of apprehension, he starts around the new corner.

Immediately around the corner is another, this one a right. He turns, finding another immediate right. He presses on, turning corner after corner, finding more corners to turn.

CHRIS

(to no one)

Is there an end to this, or should

I just keep double-backing on myself

forever!?

He turns the next corner, finding a slight hallway that ends in another left. He reaches the left turn that immediately makes another left. He heads around the next corner, stopping at what he sees. We follow him around both corners to find what caused his desist; A DEAD END.

CHRIS

(frustration)

No...

He steps forward toward the wall, extends a palm to test the surface. His fingers brush the brick surface; it's real. He retracts his arm, backing away from the wall and turning the corner that brought him to it. What he finds makes his stop in his tracks again.

CHRIS' POV: a perfectly straight hallway, 100 feet long.

Chris cocks his head, confused. He sidesteps to look at the dead end he just encountered, and is equally stunned by what he finds there. Another long hallway like the first.

Chris's eyes go wide as he looks back around the corner into what should be an identical hallway, and is shocked to find the DEAD END that should be where the other hall is.

CHRIS

What the hell...is this place?

Chris starts down the hallway, slow at first, watching his steps. In a few yards and a couple of moments to get his bearings, he picks up his pace, starting a mild trot.

CHRIS' POV as he heads down the hallway. Up ahead on the right wall, the bricks DIGITIZE and a new doorway opens.

Chris skitters to a stop, stunned by the appearance of this formerly nonexistent doorway. He turns to backtrack, and runs SMACK into a brick wall that previously had not been there. He steps back, looking at the wall suspiciously. Slowly, cautiously, he extends his hand toward the wall.

Chris' hand pushes against the wall. It's real and solid.

CHRIS

(looking around)

Come on...get a grip, Chris...

He turns back around and heads for the new opening.

From around the corner, Chris turns into the new hallway.

CHRIS

...just part of a game...

Slow at first, quicker as panic sets in, Chris soon finds himself breaking into a full-out sprint down the corridor. He's running so fast that he doesn't even notice it when the space around him SNAPS, the effects of a GLITCH. He dashes down the hallway until he reaches a T-junction.

To the left is a dead-end, while the right takes him a few yards down to a left. Identical to the other end of the hallway, as if he's been turned back on himself. He snaps his head around to look back down the hall. The other end leads to a T-junction just like the one he's at now.

He slowly heads back down the hall, until he reaches the middle where the space around him snaps again. He stops at the feeling, recognizing it. He steps back, causing the same effect again. He reaches his arm out, watching as the rippling effect is triggered by his fingertips.

CHRIS

Damn glitches...

With those words, he turns away from the glitch, bolting down the hall to the T-junction where he darts around the right corner and sprints to the end of the new hallway, dashing around the left corner at the end of it.

In this new hallway, Chris' pace doesn't ease up as he sprints headlong down the corridor. Ahead, he sees the hallway being closed off by a wall that slowly appears.

BACK TO CHRIS, who picks up his speed.

CHRIS

Not this time...

Chris lays on all his strength and barrels down the hall the last few feet into the materializing wall. Only half-constructed and still translucent, the unfinished wall is no match for Chris' growing momentum. He forces his weight headlong, crashing through the wall in a burst of sparks.

TIGHT on Chris' face as he lays on the ground, not moving. After a moment, he coughs once, hard.

He pushes himself up, strained from the impact. He looks behind him to find the finished wall, unscathed by the encounter. He smiles, proud of himself for beating it.

He struggles to his feet, heading to the T-junction where he turns left, heading down another few yards of hallway before reaching a right turn leading not into another hallway, but to a doorway with white light streaming in.

Chris stops, relieved. His right arm is bent at the elbow and held up in a wounded position, but a smile still creeps across his face at the sight of the doorway. He slowly heads for the door, content not to rush his victory.

EXT. WHITE LIGHT

All that appears in the midst of the white light is the doorway, through which we can see the red-brick hallway. After a moment, Chris appears, tired, stepping through the doorway into the light. He blinks several times, trying to adjust to the light before taking a few steps out into it.

Slowly growing more accustomed to the brightness, Chris opens his eyes, basking in the glow of the light. A wide smile takes his face as he begins laughing.

CHRIS

I did it!! I beat the unbeatable maze!!

Suddenly, as though prompted by his words, the white space around him begins to PIXELLATE, a background emerging. The soldier's face is taken by an expectation.

As the background materializes, though, the expression on his face fades away, replaced by horrified disbelief.

CHRIS' POV: a large circular cobblestone portico, perhaps

30-feet in diameter, with walls about ten feet tall and topped with a large white dome. The room contains four doors, one of which the soldier is standing in front of.

BLUR PANS to see closer shots of the doors and where they lead. Through one is a green hedge; through the next is a mirror, reflecting Chris; through the third, a wood panel.

BACK TO CHRIS, in a spinning shot from knee level, as he starts breathing heavily, his face a twisted contortion of fear, anger and hysteria. Slowly, his expression cracks, and a hail of laughter breaks through. Not the happy laughter from before, but a crazed, maniacal laughter; the anguished sound of a mind slipping loose. The type of laughter that comes when insanity is half-a-breath away.

Chris collapses to the ground as we FADE TO BLACK.

INTRO CREDITS

COMMERCIAL I