Nomed’s Button – Story & Script

A few weeks ago someone asked me about writing scripts, so I agreed to post my only attempt at script writing. Nine years ago, I was asked to supply an amateur animator with a script. I wanted to start with something simple, so I selected an unpublished 2500 word story that I had written a few years earlier. I spent two weeks reading some old TV scripts I found in the library, just so I could get an idea of what needed to be done. I would soon discover that Script writing was not as easy as it appeared at first glance. When I started I thought the story could be converted within a couple of days, but it ended up taking me well over a week.

Unfortunately, other than recording the sound bytes, which was done in my office, the project was never completed. I am posting both the original story, and then the script, as a very basic example of the major differences between writing a story and writing a script.

Nomed’s Button – the unpublished short story

Nomed’s Button Sam was in an ugly mood. The vivid image of the driver’s smug grin, as he was hauling away Sam’s new pearl white Mercedes, just flatly refused to quit creeping back like a thief into his thoughts.

“Having a bad day?” the bartender asked after pouring Sam another shot.

The words barely registered as Sam picked up his drink. “Too drunk to drive anyway,” he grumbled with the glass poised beneath his lower lip.

“What’s that?” the bartender asked.

“Yeah, I’m having a lousy day, okay, so just let me finish my drink in peace.”

The bartender shrugged and went about his business, leaving Sam to ruminate on why he of all people deserved such a miserable life. Finally, overwhelmed with despair, he knocked back the drink in one swift motion, but his body rebelled in a series of coughs and wheezes when a portion went down the wrong way.

“Go easy on that,” a soft alluring voice chimed in his ear. “You will need a clear head to make a proper choice.”

The words belonged to a slender blue-eyed blonde perched on the next stool. She was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, so why hadn’t he noticed her before? Somewhere in his muddled, whisky-logged brain, Sam struggled to make sense of her strange comment. Blinking a few times to clear away the alcohol-induced haze, he set his empty glass aside to offer his hand.

“The name’s Sam.”

“Yes, I know,” the woman replied, with a broad yet sad smile curved across her full sensuous lips. “You may call me Legna.”

Such an odd name deserved inquiry, but Sam was too distracted by the sensation of her delicate fingers sliding across his palm. Her touch was colder than ice. Within seconds, the chill had ferreted into the remotest recesses of his body. He was shivering when she finally released his hand, but he was also stone-cold sober.

Stunned, Sam gawked in silence, until the sharp click of a hard object striking the bar’s brass footrest diverted his attention. A well-dressed man, with stylishly coiffed salt-and-pepper hair, was easing his lanky frame onto the next stool. When his eyes captured Sam’s, the man smiled. “Can I buy you another drink?” he asked. “You look like you could use one.”

“Sure, why not,” Sam replied, shoving his empty forward. Propelled by unfocused anger, the glass sailed across the bar’s wet slippery surface to tumble off the far side.

“Sorry,” Sam muttered, after an explosion of shards sent the displeased bartender in search of his broom. “Whatever I touch turns to crap. My old man was right. Never expect too much, because life’s a bitch and then you die. Guess I was just too dumb to listen.”

“That’s the spirit,” the man next to him said through a big toothy smile. “There’s no finer garnish for abject misery than a liberal sprinkling of self-pity.”

“Sam,” Legna whispered close to his ear. “Don’t let resentment poison your soul. You can find good in anything. All you need do is look.”

“The name is Nomed,” the man interjected, ignoring the young woman completely. Sam reached out to accept the man’s extended hand but instantly yanked his own back in alarm. It was like touching a hot tin roof. Nomed just smiled as if nothing had happened.

While Sam was dabbing his fingers in beads of condensation left behind by his last drink, the bartender was filling another glass. Sam snatched it up and downed the liquor without a second thought. It scorched his throat, but he managed not to cough this time.

Nomed pulled an object from his coat pocket and placed it on the counter. It was an odd looking thing, consisting of a black plastic disk about the size of a tea saucer, with a large red button dominating the center. “We’re running a little behind schedule,” he said. “So I’ll forgo my usual verbosity and get right down to business. It’s time to renew your contract.”

Sam laughed. “If you’re looking for money, get in line. The bank took everything, even my car. Paying my bar tab will clean me out.”

“What I have to offer is absolutely free,” Nomed replied. “Just push that button and all your troubles will be over. Trust me. I wouldn’t lie to you.”

“Ha,” Legna snorted. “Only because it’s against the rules.”

“You two know each other?” Sam asked.

“Oh, we’ve never actually met,” Legna replied, “but I’ve dealt with his kind before.”

“You might say we’re competitors,” Nomed offered.

“Okay,” Sam said. “So what happens if I push the button? Do I win the lottery or something? I sure could use the cash.”

“Oh, this is far more interesting, my boy,” Nomed replied. “You will travel back in time. One whole year.”

Barroom chatter filled the silence that ensued, until Sam finally found his voice. “Yea, right,” he replied with a sarcastic sneer. “Check please,” he added, waving his hand to catch the bartender’s attention.

“Wait a minute” Nomed said. “What’s the rush? Hear me out. I promise you won’t regret it.”

“Don’t listen to him,” Legna said. “Your best interests are certainly not his, but he is right about one thing. You can’t just leave.”

Sam’s eyes narrowed. “Why not?”

Legna was wearing that sad smile again. “People in your position are granted eleven minutes of divine clarity in which to make their choice.”

“Eleven minutes and six seconds to be precise,” Nomed amended while brushing a speck of fluff from his sleeve. “Just a formality, really. Won’t change anything in the end.”

“You both belong in the looney bin,” Sam said, “but I’ll play along for a while. So tell me what’s with this eleven and six thing?”

“Oh, I think it’s buried somewhere in the fine print,” Nomed replied. “Just one of the rules. A bit of entertainment, you might say. The boss has quite a sense of humor; it was probably one of his ideas.”

“This is no joke, Sam,” Legna said sharply. “Your soul is on the line. Move forward now, or continue to be a prisoner in your own past; the choice is yours.”

“Why take risks with an uncertain future?” Nomed said, waving away Legna’s words like pesky insects. “If you want another glorious year, just like the last one, then press that button. Think about it. The best year of your life just ended. It’s all gone: business success, gobs of money and Desirae.”

Nomed cracked a grin, winked and then prodded Sam in the ribs with an elbow. “Let’s not forget about Desirae, eh. I tell you Sam, your life’s a slippery slope from here on out. Failing health, loneliness, poverty, all culminating in a long drawn-out painful death. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.”

“So, are you saying I can change all that?”

“Nope, the past is carved in stone,” Nomed replied shaking his head. “But, you can relive it. At least that one good year. Come on, get it over with, you know you want it. Push the button.”

Sam remained unconvinced. “Why should I believe such a ridiculous notion?”

“What time is it?” Nomed asked.

Sam looked at his watch. “Minute past nine. Why?”

“Your understanding is limited to three dimensions, so I will put this in terms you can conceptualize. I come from another level of existence; the final dimension. In between your dimension and mine lies time. Resonating at a higher dimensional frequency, I can traverse time threads as easily as you could walk up and down the streets outside.”

With that, Nomed waved his hand over Sam’s empty glass and suddenly it was full again. “What time is it now, Sam?”

Sam’s eyes flicked back and forth between his watch and the glass. It was eight fifty-nine. “Okay, for argument’s sake, let’s say time travel is possible. The real question is, how could I possibly enjoy myself knowing it all ends up in the crapper?”

“That’s the beauty of it, my boy. You won’t know a thing. Push that button and you turn back the clock one year, no strings attached. Every experience will be like the very first time.”

“Sounds too good to be true,” Sam said, still skeptical. “So what’s the catch? There’s always a catch. What happens after the year is up? You suck out my soul or something?”

Nomed’s eyes glazed over as a wistful smile spread across his face for the briefest of moments. “Ah, those were the good old days, but no, one year from now we meet for you to choose again. Relive your year as many times as you like. It’s no big deal; you can quit anytime. Tell me now, where’s the harm in that?”

“What about new experiences,” Legna said grabbing Sam’s arm. He instinctively shrank away from the coldness of her touch. “You will only suffer the same loss all over again and be right back where you started. True existence is about change, Sam. Learning. Evolving. What he offers you is, is…”

Nomed’s waggling finger silenced Legna before she could finish. “Don’t pay any attention to her,” he said. “Very soon you‘ll see that everything I told you is absolutely true.” Nomed looked at his watch. “Starting right about now, as a matter of fact.”

The room grew dark as Sam’s life suddenly began to play in his head like a grade-B video in fast forward. Years of grueling fourteen-hour days, seven-day weeks and nothing to show for it. Then it happened. His big break. Suddenly Joseph Samuel Mires was a somebody: wealthy, respected and desirable.

Success was everything. No one cared anymore what Sam looked like or how he sounded. He was on everyone’s party list. Then came Desirae. A whirlwind three day romance ending in a Vegas marriage. She was way out of his league, but Desirae had expensive tastes that only large sums of Sam’s cash could satisfy. The money seemed endless too, until Desirae disappeared with his company’s assets and left Sam holding the bag.

As his life continued to unfold, Sam soon found himself in virgin territory. The future. He watched in horror as everything Nomed had predicted came to pass. His final hours would be spent alone in a hospital bed, a shrunken corpse-like creature with a tube up his nose, but wait, there was a man standing next to him. He was placing a plastic disk next to Sam’s pale skeletal hand. “Oh my God,” Sam gasped.

Nomed’s face turned sour. “Now, let’s leave him out of this shall we,” he said tartly.

“But, it’s all true.”

“Of course, my boy. I tell no lies.”

“It was you,” Sam said, looking at Nomed through new and enlightened eyes. “You came to me in the hospital.” He looked down at the button. “With that.”

“I can’t tell you what a warm feeling it is to be fondly remembered,” Nomed said. “Brings a tear to my eye.”

“Don’t let his silky words blind you, Sam,” Legna said. “He’s not telling you the whole truth. You need to move on. Living in your past forever is nothing more than…”

Once again Nomed’s waggling finger silenced Legna. “What forever,” he said. “Just one year. The one you yourself picked in those last few minutes, I might add, and just like I told you, in one short year you can choose again. No harm in that, right?”

“So it’s not permanent then,” Sam said breathlessly, his hand suddenly hovering over the button. “I can choose differently next time?”

“Of course,” Nomed said still looking at his watch, “but you better hurry, just twenty seconds left.”

“Listen to me, Sam,” Legna pleaded. “If you press that button, you will never know what could have been.”

“Fifteen.”

The sudden urgency a driving force, Sam glared intently into Legna’s cool beautiful blue eyes. “From what I’ve seen, the rest of my life isn’t worth squat. Can you promise me it gets better? Can you tell me anything at all?”

“Ten.”

Crestfallen, Legna stared down at her clasped hands. “No,” she whispered. “I can’t make promises and I can’t show you anything beyond what has already been revealed. You must have faith. I have no other answer for you, Sam.”

Nomed continued his countdown. “Five, four, three, two…”, but before he got to one, Sam’s hand slammed down on the button.

* * *

“Oh, dear,” Legna said as Sam vanished in a brilliant flash of purple light that no one else in the room seemed to notice.

“This must be your first purgatory assignment,” Nomed remarked as he snatched the plastic disk from the counter and swung his legs off the footrest. “I hate it when they send in greenhorns,” he added to the sound of cloven hooves clicked on the hardwood floor. “I like a challenge, you see, but in this case it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Sam is one of my best. Real dependable.”

“Don’t you feel even the slightest bit of pity? His soul is trapped. Frozen in time.”

“Look, sweetheart, I’m just doing my job.”

“Haven’t you ever made an exception?”

“Let me tell you something. Once, a long time ago, a Nomed gave some jerk a break. When the boss found out, he decided to make an example of him. As far as I know he’s still up to his nose in boiling crap. So no, they all get same treatment and I don’t play favorites.”

“There is something I really must know,” Legna said. “How many times has Sam pushed that button?”

A thick red book popped into existence in front of Nomed and he plucked it from the air. “Let’s see,” he said thumbing through the pages. “Ah, yes, here it is. Counting today, that would be nine hundred and eighty-seven.”

“Why in heaven does He allow this go on,” Legna whispered.

“Read the rules,” Nomed replied while glancing at his watch. “Free will. You gotta love it. Now if you will excuse me, I have a very important appointment in 1942.” Without another word, Nomed abruptly vanished in the same fashion Sam had moments before.

“I’ve sure made a mess of this one,” Legna said to Nomed’s empty stool, “but your boss isn’t as smart as you may think. No matter how many times Sam makes the wrong one, he only has to make the right choice once. Time is on my side. Perhaps next year.”

Another flash of light, and a single white feather resting on Legna’s empty stool was the only hint anything had happened at all. In the process of wiping the counter, the bartender leaned over and flicked it off with his cloth. “Wish to heck I knew how those darn things keep getting in here,” he muttered, and somewhere in the final dimension another Nomed laughed.

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Note: The only deviation from the sample scripts in my research was the (L1), L2) notations I added to identify the 83 sound bytes individually read by the actors in my office. The sound bytes were all submitted to the animator along with the script. For example, the file name for the first sound byte was ‘Page1-L1′.

Nomed’s Button – the unedited script

Script for Nomed’s Button
Copyright © 2011, David Korinetz

The cast:
Sam – A average sort of guy in his mid thirties. Not tall, but not short. Okay looking but not handsome. Self absorbed feeling sorry for himself and angry. He had everything and it was all taken away in an instant. Very self absorbed and not paying attention to his surroundings.

Tow Truck Driver – Twenty something in dirt orange coveralls.

The Bartender – Typical stereotype, rolled up sleeves, white shirt, black vest, wearing a white apron like in a 1930’s bogie movie. Nondescript, overweight, balding, middle-aged, with a slight eastern Canada accent. Keeps a cloth over his should that he used to continually wipe the bar and polish glasses.

Legna – Slender blue-eyed blond, good looking, sultry, but a little sad. She is very concerned but has seen too many people make the wrong choices and suffer a lot of pain.

Nomed – Slick black hair and well trimmed goatee, peppered with grey. Think of the God ‘Pan’, but in a three piece suit. Nomed is very confident and almost always will be smiling, showing his perfect, sparkling white teeth. He has long pointy fingernails. He has no doubt at all that he will succeed.

The Location:
The entire story takes place in a dimly lit cosy bar. The theme would be a place that is an odd mix of both 2012 and the 1930s. ie: the world outside is 2012, but inside it’s still 1930. A few tables and a handful of occupants talking with each other. The background noise is a low hum of conversation that fades in and out for effect. Once again, think of dingy bar in a Bogie movie. There always seems to be little pools of moisture on the bar. Spillage and condensation from the glasses that the bartender can never seem to completely eradicate with his cloth.

The Opening Scene
The story opens with Sam sitting in the bar and staring at an empty shot glass. There is no one else sitting at the bar. He has a blank look on his face.

After a few moments the scene changes to outside, as Sam remembers what happened earlier in the day. We see a tow truck driver getting into his truck. Sam’s pearl white Mercedes is on the back. There is a yellow wheel boot on the front wheel. The tow truck driver looks back and displays a smug grin before driving off. Sam raises his middle finger.

(L1) Sam: “Stupid Jerk!”

The scene returns to a close up of Sam’s face back in the bar. He is staring down at his glass. It pans back to show the bartender looking at Sam as he refills Sam’s empty shot glass with Scotch whisky.

(L2) The Bartender: “Having a bad day?”

Ignoring the bartender Sam picks up his drink. It remains poised beneath his lower lip.

(L3) Sam: (grumbling almost to himself) “Too drunk to drive anyway.”

(L4) Bartender: (His eyebrows rise) “What’s that?”

(L1) Sam: (Eyes slowly rising up to look at the bartender and obviously annoyed) “Yeah, I’m having a lousy day, okay, so just let me finish my drink in peace!”

The bartender shrugs and goes about his business, polishing a glass, which leaves Sam to wallow in thoughts of self pity.

(L2) Sam: (His lips do not move but we hear his thoughts as he looks toward the ceiling) “Why me God? Why do I, of all people, deserve such a miserable life?”

There is a moment of silence. Then, overwhelmed with despair, Sam knocks back his drink in one swift motion. His body instantly rebels in a series of coughs and wheezes because the drink has gone down the wrong way.

(L3) Legna: (We do not see her yet, just hear Legna’s soft alluring voice) “Go easy on that. You will need a clear head to make a proper choice.”

Now we see that Legna is sitting on the barstool to Sam’s right.

(L4) Sam: (Sam looks at Legna and blinks a few times to clear away the alcohol-induced haze from his mind. We hear his thoughts. Lips do not move) “Holy cow. Drop-dead gorgeous. Where did she come from?”

(L5) Sam: (Setting his empty glass aside, Sam offers Legna his hand) “The name’s Sam.”

(L6) Legna: (Legna offers Sam a broad, sad smile with full sensuous lips) “Yes, I know. You may call me Legna.”
(L1) Sam: (Sam reacts to Lena’s icy touch with a shiver. He lets go of her hand and no longer looks drunk. Once again we hear his thoughts) “Weird name, and her hand was as cold as ice. It chilled me down to my toes.”

Stunned, Sam gawks at Legna in silence until his attention is diverted to his left by a sharp click of a hard object striking the bar’s brass footrest. On Sam’s left a well-dressed man, with stylishly coiffed salt-and-pepper hair, is easing his lanky frame onto the next stool.

(L2) Nomed: (When Nomed sees Sam staring he smiles) “Can I buy you another drink? You look like you could use one.”

(L3) Sam: (Sam shrugs his shoulders) “Sure, why not?”

Sam shoves his empty glass forward, but propelled by unfocused anger, it sails across the bar’s wet slippery surface to tumble off the far side with the sound of breaking glass.

(L4) Sam: (As the bartender reaches for a broom, Sam frowns and shakes his head) “Sorry.” (A short pause) “Whatever I touch turns to crap. My old man was right. Never expect too much, because life’s a bitch and then you die. Guess I was just too dumb to listen.”

(L5) Nomed: (With a big toothy smile) “That’s the spirit. There’s no finer garnish for abject misery than a liberal sprinkling of self-pity.”

(L6) Legna: (Leaning in close to Sam and whispering in his right ear) “Sam. Don’t let resentment poison your soul. You can find good in anything. All you need do is look.”

(L1) Nomed: (Ignoring Legna’s comments and extending his hand awkwardly over the bar) “The name is Nomed.”

Sam reaches out to accept Nomed’s extended hand but instantly yanked his hand back in alarm.

(L2) Sam: (We hear his thoughts) My God. That was like touching a hot tin roof.”

Nomed smiles as Sam dabs his fingers in beads of condensation left behind by his last drink on the bar’s surface. The bartender places another shot glass full of whisky on the bar. Sam snatches it up and downs the liquor without a second thought. He wipes his lips with the back of his hand.

A more serious look creeps onto Nomed’s face as he pulls an object from his coat pocket and places it on the counter. It is an odd looking thing, consisting of a black plastic disk about the size of a 45 record. There is a large red button dominating the center, like a Staples that-was-easy button.

(L3) Nomed: (in a business like tone) “We’re running a little behind schedule. So I’ll forgo my usual verbosity and get right down to business. It’s time to renew your contract.”

(L4) Sam: (After a short barking laugh) “If you’re looking for money, get in line. The bank took everything, even my car. Paying my bar tab will clean me out.”

(L5) Nomed: (Nomed smiles again) “What I have to offer is absolutely free. Just push that button and all your troubles will be over. Trust me. I wouldn’t lie to you.”

(L1) Legna: (Begins with a short snorting sound) “Ha. Only because it’s against the rules.”

(L2) Sam: “You two know each other?”

(L3) Legna: “Oh, we’ve never actually met, but I’ve dealt with his kind before.”

(L4) Nomed: (Nomed’s smile falters as he leans in close to Sam’s left ear) “You might say we’re competitors.”

(L5) Sam: (Sam’s eyes narrow as he glares suspiciously at Nomed who gives Sam a little space) “Okay. So what happens if I push the button? Do I win the lottery or something? I sure could use the cash.”

(L6) Nomed: (Nomed smiles again) “Oh, this is far more interesting, my boy. You will travel back in time. One whole year.”

Barroom chatter fills the few moments of silence that ensue as Sam looks Nomed in the eye.

(L7) Sam: (With a sarcastic sneer as he turns back and waves his hand to catch the bartender’s attention) “Yea, right. Check please.”

(L8) Nomed: (Placing a restraining hand on Sam’s left forearm) “Wait just a minute. What’s the rush? Hear me out. I promise you won’t regret it.”

(L9) Legna: (Placing her hand on Sam’s right forearm) “Don’t listen to him, Sam. Your best interests are certainly not his,
but he is right about one thing. You can’t just leave.”

(L1) Sam: (His eyes narrow as he looks at Legna) “Why not?”

(L2) Legna: (Wearing a sad smile as she removes her hand) “People in your position are granted eleven minutes of divine clarity in which to make their choice.”

(L3) Nomed: (removing his hand and brushing an unseen speck of fluff from his sleeve) “Eleven minutes and six seconds to be precise. Just a formality, really. Won’t change anything in the end.”

(L4) Sam: “You both belong in the looney bin, but I’ll play along for a while. So tell me what’s with this eleven and six thing?”

(L5) Nomed: “Oh, I think it’s buried somewhere in the fine print. Just one of the rules. A bit of entertainment, you might say. The boss has quite a sense of humor; it was probably one of his ideas.”

(L6) Legna: (Her tone touched for the first time by anger) “This is no joke, Sam. Your soul is on the line. Move forward now, or continue to be a prisoner in your own past; the choice is yours.”

(L7) Nomed: (Annoyed, Nomed waves away Legna’s words with his left hand like pesky insects) “Why take risks with an uncertain future? If you want another glorious year, just like the last one, then press that button. Think about it. The best year of your life just ended. It’s all gone: business success, gobs of money and Desirae.”

(L1) Nomed: (There is a pause as Sam stares blankly at Nomed, who suddenly smiles, winks, and then prods Sam in the ribs with an elbow) “Let’s not forget about Desirae, eh. I tell you Sam, your life’s a slippery slope from here on out. Failing health, loneliness, poverty, all culminating in a long drawn-out painful death. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.”

(L2) Sam: (Looking hopeful) “So, are you saying I can change all that?”

(L3) Nomed: (Pursing his lips and shaking his head) “Nope, the past is carved in stone, but, you can relive it. At least that one good year. Come on, get it over with, you know you want it. Push the button.”

(L4) Sam: (Still unconvinced) “Why should I believe such a ridiculous notion?”

(L5) Nomed: “What time is it?”

(L6) Sam: (Looking at his watch) “One minute past nine. Why?”

(L7) Nomed: “Your understanding is limited to three dimensions, so I will put this in terms you can conceptualize. I come from another level of existence; the final dimension. In between your dimension and mine lies time. Resonating at a higher dimensional frequency, I can traverse time threads as easily as you could walk up and down the streets outside.”

There is a pause as Sam frowns in disbelief. Nomed waves his hand over Sam’s empty glass and we see a close up of the glass at it is suddenly full of whisky again.

(L1) Nomed: (Smiling) “What time is it now, Sam?”

Sam’s eyes flick back and forth between his watch and the glass. A close up of the watch shows it is 8:59.

(L2) Sam: “Okay, for argument’s sake, let’s say time travel is possible. The real question is, how could I possibly enjoy myself knowing it all ends up in the crapper?”

(L3) Nomed: “That’s the beauty of it, my boy. You won’t know a thing. Push that button and you turn back the clock one year, no strings attached. Every experience will be like the very first time.”

(L4) Sam: (Still sounding skeptical) “Sounds too good to be true. So what’s the catch? There’s always a catch. What happens after the year is up? You suck out my soul or something?”

(L5) Nomed: (Eyes glazing over as a wistful smile spread across his face for the brief moment) “Ah, those were the good old days, but no; one year from now we meet for you to choose again. Relive your year as many times as you like. It’s no big deal. You can quit anytime. Tell me now, where’s the harm in that?”

(L6) Legna: (Grabbing Sam’s arm again even as Sam reacts to the coldness of her touch and leans away) “What about new experiences? You will only suffer the same loss all over again and be right back where you started. True existence is about change, Sam. Learning. Evolving. What he offers you is, is…”

(L7) Nomed: (Waggling his finger to silence Legna before she can finish) “Don’t pay any attention to her, my boy. Very soon you‘ll see that everything I told you is absolutely true.”

(L1) Nomed: (There is a slight pause as Nomed Looks at his watch) “Starting right about now, as a matter of fact.”

The bar room grows dark for a series of flashbacks. A 15 year old boy reading a computer book changes to twenty year old version of Sam working on a computer. A newspaper spins in with a picture of Sam on the cover at his current age. The headline reads: The Next Steve Jobs – Years of Hard Work Pays Off For Samuel Mires. Sam is at a cocktail party talking to a beautiful red haired woman. Next the same red head is in a wedding dress arm-in-arm with Sam. Then another newspaper spins in. The headline is: Samuel Mires Bankrupt – Partner Runs Off With All His Money And His New Wife.

Sam sitting in the bar again, but only briefly, to establish that we are moving from the past to the future. The scene changes to Sam, now with wrinkles and grey hair, laying alone in a hospital bed. He is a shrunken corpse-like creature with a tube up his nose. The beep-beep an pump sounds fo hospital equipment in the background. Suddenly there is a man standing next to him. It is Nomed. We do not see his face. He was placing a plastic disk next to Sam’s pale skeletal hand.

(L2) Sam: “Oh my God!”

(L3) Nomed: (Nomed’s face turns uncharacteristically sour) “Now, let’s leave him out of this shall we.”

(L4) Sam: “But, it’s all true.”

(L5) Nomed: “Of course, my boy. I tell no lies.”

(L6) Sam: (Looking at Nomed through new and enlightened eyes) “It was you. You came to me in the hospital.” (Looks down at the button) “With that.”

(L1) Nomed: “I can’t tell you what a warm feeling it is to be fondly remembered. Brings a tear to my eye.”

(L2) Legna: “Don’t let his silky words blind you, Sam. He’s not telling you the whole truth. You need to move on. Living in your past forever is nothing more than…”

(L3) Nomed: (Once again waggling his finger to silence Legna) “What forever? Just one year. The one you yourself picked in those last few minutes, I might add, and just like I told you, in one short year you can choose again. No harm in that, right?”

(L4) Sam: (Breathlessly with his right hand suddenly hovering over the button) “So it’s not permanent then? I can choose differently next time?”

(L5) Nomed: (Still looking at his watch) “Of course, but you better hurry, just twenty seconds left.”

(L6) Legna: (Pleading) “Listen to me, Sam. If you press that button, you will never know what could have been.”

(L7) Nomed: “Fifteen.”

(L8) Sam: (Sam glares intently into Legna’s cool beautiful blue eyes) “From what I’ve seen, the rest of my life isn’t worth squat. Can you promise me it gets better? Can you tell me anything at all?”

(L9) Nomed: “Ten.”

(L1) Legna: (Crestfallen, she stares down at her clasped hands and speaks softly) “No, I can’t make promises and I can’t show you anything beyond what has already been revealed. You must have faith. I have no other answer for you, Sam.”

(L2) Nomed: “Five, four, three, two…”
Sam’s hand slams down on the button and he disappears in a brilliant flash of purple light that no one else in the room seems to notice.

(L3) Legna: “Oh, dear.”

(L4) Nomed: (Snatching the plastic disk from the counter) “This must be your first purgatory assignment.”

Legna makes no reply.

(L5) Nomed: (Swinging his legs off the footrest so that his cloven hooves are visible as they both click onto the hardwood floor) “I hate it when they send in greenhorns. I like a challenge, you see, but in this case it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Sam is one of my best. Real dependable.”

(L6) Legna: (her eyes narrow) “Don’t you feel even the slightest bit of pity? His soul is trapped. Frozen in time.”

(L7) Nomed: “Look, sweetheart, I’m just doing my job.”

(L8) Legna: “Haven’t you ever made an exception?”

(L9) Nomed: (looking serious) “Let me tell you something. Once, a long time ago, a Nomed gave some jerk a break. When the boss found out, he decided to make an example of him. As far as I know he’s still up to his nose in boiling crap. So no, they all get same treatment and I don’t play favorites.”

(L1) Legna: “There is something I really must know. (a short pause) How many times has Sam pushed that button?”

Nomed snaps his fingers and a thick, red, open book pops into existence right in front of him. There are tiny flames dancing along it’s upper edge. He plucks it from the air and begins thumbing through the pages.

(L2) Nomed: (Placing a finger on a page) “Let’s see. Ah, yes, here it is. Counting today, that would be 997.”

(L3) Legna: (Speaking softly) “Why in heaven does He allow this go on.”

(L4) Nomed: (The book disappears and Nomed glances at his watch) “Read the rules. Free will. You gotta love it. Now if you will excuse me, I have a very important appointment in 1942.”

Without another word, Nomed abruptly vanishes in the same fashion Sam had moments before.

(L5) Legna: (Talking to the empty space where Nomed had been) “I’ve sure made a mess of this one, but your boss isn’t as smart as you may think. No matter how many times Sam makes the wrong one, he only has to make the right choice once. Time is on my side. Perhaps next year.”

Another flash of light, and a single white feather settles down to rest on Legna’s empty stool. The only hint anything had happened there at all. In the process of wiping the counter, the bartender leans over and flicks it off with his cloth.

(L1) Bartender: (Shaking his head) “Wish to heck I knew how those darn things keep getting in here.”

(L2) Nomed: The fading sound of Nomed’s demonic laughter

THE END

The credits
Screenplay: David Korinetz
Animation:
Music:
Cast:
Sam –
Bartender –
Legna –
Nomed –

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