STILL LIFE IN PANELS
A story of a bikecourier who turns out too fast and too two dimensional for this world. This was third ScriptJam on GCJ, and was written by Chris Moscardi.
Still Life in Panels
by Chris Moscardi
8 Script Pages
Page 1: 4 Panels
Panel 1. A bike courier rides through over-crowded city streets. He’s a tall, slim, wiry fellow with long hair that curls just below his helmet line. His legs are thick from biking day in and day out, and he deftly dodges the cars and pedestrians that block his route. His friends call him Zimmy.
CAP (ZIMMY): SOMETIMES I FELT TWO DIMENSIONAL. IT’S A WEIRD THING TO FEEL TWO DIMENSIONAL, BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT YOU’RE FLAT AGAINST EVERYTHING AROUND YOU. I COULD SEE MYSELF WEAVE IN AND OUT OF TRAFFIC, BUT I STILL FELT LIKE I WAS IRONED INTO THE GRIT OF MY SURROUNDINGS.
CAP (2): DOESN’T MAKE TOO MUCH SENSE JUST YET.
Panel 2. A map layout of the city, showing the various routes and avenues that wrap around the buildings. It’s a fairly large area shown on the map, roughly the span of two or three miles. There’s a red highlighted route running from one end of the map to the other, along streets and down back alleys, but it’s the most direct route from A to B.
CAP (ZIMMY): I WAS A BIKE MESSENGER, AND I WAS DAMN GOOD. IN FACT, I WAS SO GOOD THAT I COULD GET FROM ONE END OF DOWNTOWN TO THE OTHER, ROUGHLY A THREE MILE DISTANCE, IN UNDER A MINUTE. THAT’S RIGHT. UNDER ONE MINUTE. I WAS DAMN GOOD.
Panel 3. Zimmy is in an office at a receptionist desk. He’s handing over a package to the receptionist, who’s in turn signing her name on a manifest.
CAP (ZIMMY): I DIDN’T KNOW HOW I COULD DO IT, JUST THAT I COULD. NOBODY ELSE I KNEW COULD DO IT, THOUGH TO BE FAIR I DIDN’T ASK TOO MANY PEOPLE. FOR SOME REASON MY ABILITY TO TRAVEL THAT QUICKLY SEEMED LIKE SOMETHING I SHOULD KEEP TO MYSELF.
CAP (2): I RARELY DID IT, BUT SOMETIMES IT WOULD BE FUN TO WATCH THE EXPRESSIONS ON PEOPLE’S FACES AS A BLUR ON WHEELS SHOT PAST THEM AND DISAPPEARED IN THE DISTANCE.
RECEPTIONIST: THANK YOU.
ZIMMY: SURE THING.
Panel 4. Zimmy back on his bike riding through the crowded streets.
CAP (ZIMMY): SO I WENT ON WITH MY BUSINESS, PICKING UP PACKAGES, DROPPING THEM OFF, STOPPING FOR A SODA AND A SLICE IN BETWEEN. I NEVER REALLY THOUGHT MUCH ABOUT IT. SOME KIDS COULD PLAY THE GUITAR, I COULD ALMOST BREAK THE SOUND BARRIER ON MY BIKE. NO BIG DEAL.
Page 2: 6 Panels
Panel 1. Zimmy is walking down an alleyway, package in hand, looking for a door that he just can’t seem to find. Sitting hunched against the graffiti covered wall is a bum, wrapped in blankets and reeking of booze and city nights.
BUM: IT’S FOR ME.
Panel 2. Zimmy looks down at the bum, who is now taking a long swill from a bottle of liquor.
BUM: IT’S FOR ME. THE PACKAGE. I CALLED IT IN.
BUM (2): ASKED FOR YOU SPECIFICALLY.
ZIMMY: UH…ALRIGHT. YOU NEED TO SIGN FOR IT.
Panel 3. Zimmy hands the package to the bum.
BUM: WANNA KNOW WHAT’S IN IT?
ZIMMY: NOT REALLY.
BUM: WANNA KNOW WHY YOU’RE SO FAST.
ZIMMY: COULD YOU SIGN FOR–WAIT, WHAT?
Panel 4. Zimmy is staring at the bum, who’s getting to his feet.
Panel 5. The bum is now standing eye level to Zimmy, looking directly at him. His long hair and beard are dirty, he’s wearing the remnants of a straightjacket along with other assorted tattered garments, and he’s holding the package under one arm.
BUM: BET YOU WANNA KNOW WHAT’S IN IT NOW.
Panel 6. Same as Panel 5, but Zimmy is now holding a two way radio up to his mouth.
DISPATCH (THROUGH THE RADIO): GO AHEAD.
ZIMMY: I’M GONNA TAKE LUNCH.
DISPATCH: NO PROBLEM. RADIO IN HALF HOUR.
Page 3: 5 Panels
Panel 1. Zimmy and the bum are sitting in a diner, both with plates of food in front of them. Zimmy’s food is untouched, whereas the bum is going to town on his plate. He’s also just finishing up what seems like a rather long story.
BUM: …SO I GOT OUT OF THERE AS QUICK AS I COULD. I MEAN, OF COURSE THEY’RE GONNA THROW ME IN THE BIN, RIGHT? RUNNING AROUND YELLING WHAT I’D FIGURED OUT TO ANYONE THAT WOULD LOOK MY WAY.
BUM (2): BUT I REALIZED, THAT’S NOT THE WAY TO DO IT. THERE ARE ONLY CERTAIN PEOPLE THAT WOULD REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT I UNDERSTAND. ONLY CERTAIN PEOPLE WITH A …PREDISPOSITION TO BELIEVE ME.
Panel 2. Still chilling in the diner.
CAP (ZIMMY): THERE WAS NO WAY THAT THIS GUY WASN’T CRACKED. HE HAD TO BE CRACKED. IT WAS SCARY JUST HOW CRACKED THIS GUY HAD TO BE.
BUM: LIKE YOU. I’VE SEEN YOU RIDE. THE WAY THAT WITH EACH PUMP OF YOUR LEGS YOU ALMOST ROCKET YOURSELF INTO OBLIVION. NOBODY ELSE SEES IT. BUT I DO.
CAP (ZIMMY): WHAT WAS SCARIER WAS THAT WHAT HE WAS TELLING ME ALMOST MADE SOME KIND OF LOONEY BIN, TWILIGHT ZONE BIT OF SENSE.
Panel 3. The bum has stopped his eating binge and is looking across the table at Zimmy now.
BUM: TOUGH PILL TO SWALLOW, EH?
ZIMMY: UH. YEA.
BUM: WATCH THIS THEN.
Panel 4. Zimmy is now sitting in the booth alone, looking in astonishment at the empty space where the bum sat not a second before. The bum left his food and the package sitting idly on the table.
CAP (ZIMMY): HOLY…
Panel 5. It’s now night, and the last shift is cleaning the small diner. Zimmy is still sitting at the booth, staring at the nothing where the bum was sitting. The food is still on the table, untouched since the bum’s disappearing trick, along with the package.
CAP (ZIMMY): I NEVER SAW HIM AGAIN.
Page 4: 4 Panels
Panel 1. We are now in a small, one room studio apartment. It’s a tight living space, the kind that one would imagine a bike courier to be able to afford. Zimmy is sitting on the bed, which pulls out of the wall, with the package in his lap, staring at it. There are no lights on in the apartment. Only the city lights from outside offer some sort of electric solace to the otherwise dark scene.
CAP (ZIMMY): SOMETIMES I WOULD FEEL TWO DIMENSIONAL. I COULD LAY ON MY BED AND FEEL MYSELF FLATTENING DOWN, MERGING WITH THE OBJECTS UNDERNEATH ME; THE BED, THE FLOOR, THE MILES THROUGH THE CENTER OF THE EARTH TO CHINA.
Panel 2. Zimmy begins to open up the package, tearing the tape from the seams of the box.
Panel 3. Zimmy is staring into the open box, though we still can’t see what is inside of it. He has a slight smile on his face, like he’s just realized some sort of obvious irony in the box’s contents.
Panel 4. Looking down, over Zimmy’s shoulder, into the open box. Inside it’s cardboard walls is housed several comic books, old and tattered. The one on the top of the stack is The Flash, an old issue that proudly proclaims The Flash as being ‘The Fastest Man Alive.’
CAP (ZIMMY): THEN ONE DAY THIS CRAZY GUY TOLD ME THAT I WAS.
Page 5: 4 Panels
Panel 1. Aerial shot of Zimmy, laying on his bed staring at the ceiling. The comics that were in the box are now strewn across the bed, and the issue of The Flash that was on top is now laying idly open on Zimmy’s chest. The box has been discarded to the floor.
CAP (ZIMMY): WHEN I WAS SIX YEARS OLD MY FRIEND TOLD ME THAT THE REFLECTION IN A PUDDLE WAS ACTUALLY ME, AND THAT I WAS JUST MY REFLECTION. SO IF I MOVED I WOULD CEASE TO EXIST.
CAP (2): I STARED INTO THE PUDDLE FOR HOURS.
Panel 2. Same shot from above. Zimmy is now looking intently at us, as if he’s noticing something he’s never seen before.
CAP (ZIMMY): SO WHAT IF I DON’T EXIST? WHAT IF I’M JUST A SERIES OF IMAGES, LIKE PHOTOS SNAPPED IN SEQUENCE? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Panel 3. Now Zimmy is starting to get up, still looking intently at us, never breaking his staring match with the reader.
CAP (ZIMMY): WHAT IF THERE’S SOMEONE WATCHING ME RIGHT NOW? READING MY THOUGHTS.
CAP (2): RACECAR.
CAP (3): DID YOU GET THAT?
Panel 4. Now Zimmy is standing on his bed, looking straight at us. It’s a close up on his face as he stares right back.
CAP (ZIMMY): SO DOES THAT MEAN THAT EVERY LIFE ON THE PLANET IS JUST A PANEL IN A COMIC BOOK? OR DOES IT MEAN THAT WHEN I’M NOT AROUND SOMEONE, WHEN THEY’RE NOT IN MY PANEL, THEY DON’T EXIST?
CAP (2): IT WAS TOO MUCH.
Page 6: 6 Panels
Panel 1. Outside Zimmy’s apartment building now, he’s unlocking his bike from the rack out front.
Panel 2. He’s mounting his bike.
Panel 3. In a whirlwind of leaves and litter he’s gone, sped off into the night. There’s a massive crack like thunder as Zimmy breaks the sounds barrier.
Panel 4. He races past cars on the highway.
Panel 5. He races along deserted country roads.
Panel 6. He races through the desert.
Page 7: 4 Panels
Panel 1. Close on Zimmy’s eyes, shut tightly against the daylight trying to pour in.
CAP (ZIMMY): I DON’T REMEMBER MUCH. I BLACKED OUT SOMEWHERE IN NEVADA I THINK.
CAP (2): I WAS TOLD THAT WHEN THEY FOUND ME, I WAS NAKED AND MY SKIN WAS VICIOUSLY WIND-BURNED. WHEN THEY ASKED ME WHAT I WAS DOING AND HOW I GOT THERE, ALL I COULD SAY WAS…
Panel 2. Zimmy is sitting in an asylum, in a group therapy session. He’s in a white hospital gown, as are the rest of the patients around him. He looks worn out and disillusioned.
ZIMMY: …HI, I’M ZIMMY. I LIVE IN A COMIC BOOK AND NONE OF THIS IS REAL.
Panel 3. Shot of the nurse overseeing the session.
NURSE: OK, SO WHO WOULD LIKE TO TELL ZIMMY WHY WE ARE ALL REAL?
Panel 4. Back to Zimmy and the patients around him. He’s still hunched in his chair looking forlorn. The patients around him are all raising their hands with answers to the question posed by the nurse.
Page 8: 4 Panels
Panel 1. Aerial shot of Zimmy laying in the hospital bed, looking up at the reader much like the scene in his apartment.
CAP (ZIMMY): I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN STILL RIDE THE WAY I USED TO. I HAVEN’T BEEN ALLOWED TO USE A BIKE FOR A LONG TIME.
Panel 2. Zimmy is getting up, still maintaining his stare with the reader.
CAP (ZIMMY): I OFTEN WONDER WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BUM. HE TORE MY WORLD APART AND THEN DISAPPEARED, PROBABLY TO TEAR APART SOME OTHER POOR SAP’S WORLD.
Panel 3. Zimmy is putting his hand up to the frame of the panel, his palm blocking out most of the picture but for the slivers seen between his fingers. We can still see one of his eyes though, and it’s still holding its stare with the us.
CAP (ZIMMY): I OFTEN WONDER WHERE I’D BE IF I’D NEVER DELIVERED THAT PACKAGE. I WONDER IF I EVER WOULD HAVE FIGURED IT OUT FOR MYSELF. I WONDER HOW HE FIGURED IT OUT. I WONDER IF I WANT THIS MIND NUMBING KNOWLEDGE THAT I’VE BEEN GIVEN.
Panel 4. The frame is completely black, covered by Zimmy’s hand.
CAP (ZIMMY): FUNNY THING THOUGH, I DON’T EVER FEEL TWO DIMENSIONAL ANYMORE.
Written by Chris Moscardi on 9 October 2005