Starring Charlize Theron.

*to be clear our protagonist is male
and in a wheelchair

A “minor” concussion m i n o r when I was.

and then just as that like you’re
always told you’re ”lways supposed to be out of the chai
r any day now like that pet rabbit you got
told “ran away”

You get it?

Compositionally:

How unlucky I was to be born when I was as I was, I hint at—get toward—in my brain. I’m no good at expressing. I scream. Am sweaty all over and my fingers rattle—anyways, but more now, given. Pulling, extracting, hints and pieces, little bits, never too much lest I leave a trace, being a mouse—nibbling on crumbs—a hacker, tip-tapping a keyboard. Voila voila; sparks fly because they have to, I built my own system. I had to, you know, these days you can’t without them getting involved.

The kid was triumphant and needed to be.

The ridicule was excessive, and malicious, to a kid that’s good-hearted and trying to help and in a wheelchair; gutless, they were. And his answer wasn’t even violent. He just wants to help. The room’s dark and cool, but that’s important, and its humid outside [higher sea levels, drastic rainfalls] which is a real wet blanket. A theater of experience in a dream world ruled by puppets; the kid had no strings to pull, and so he tried harder. Investigated and discovered: through trial & tribulation, at first out of curiosity, and then interest, and then lastly real research the ways and means to make a clone.

Why oh why is easy. It’s the future, you know? The technocratic wasteland paradigm fetish—and he’s a teenager. There’s reasons there—chemical reasons; I’ll prove it.

The scent of a woman, what about the sense of a woman, a genius, sheer, unadulterated mystic in approach, demure, but determined, and the presence too, and the prescience—her symmetry and brightness, and the first thing she’d said to me “why even try?” when I asked if she was competing in the science fair.

High and dry for nourishment; a parent hadn’t come home when they were supposed to and he stopped what he was doing to order his favorite: pizza.  His voice is gravel.

Drone delivered goodness in belly, he smiled at, gawked a little, at the newly synthesized blueprints: his opus; it’s hard not to be proud. His hovering assistant (jailbroken) congratulated him.

This and that; brewing a potion, but with more math and less liquids yields results here. By that, I only mean in absentia of a laboratory, I built my own. A ramshackled shack, spare parts a-buzz. The containment unit’s large enough to fit inside of, all made of mostly corroded metals, I can see the electricity, like something out of an old Tesla dream, it jumps blue between antennae, and I’d only just plugged it in.

A flash of light, coordinated heat lightning outside; then the shot is still, centered on the cloning chamber. Silence. The camera pans right, then stabilizes, moving the chamber to the left of the frame; its hatch door opens, the silhouette of Theron in a wheelchair emerges.

Floating in the air is the pale orange, encased in that comfortable-looking plastic orb that everyone has now instead of phones. Hums as it floats, waits for Charlize.

After she wheels out, *the score begins: she is followed by a standing, walking, clone.

They position side by side slightly in front of, and stage left of, the cloning chamber behind them, keeping in view the rest of the laboratory/boy’s room. They bow as credits roll. The assistant drone, named whatever you’d like to call it, just hovers there.

Scene 1: “How Do You Do?”

The clone and Charlize sit side by side on a couch in a basement room, watching footage of an old birthday on a projector screen. The clone turns to Charlize.

Clone: Do you love your mother and father?

Charlize hesitates and then…

Charlize (gaze unmoved from the screen): Yes.

Clone: And they love us, correct?

Charlize (after a longer pause): Yes.

Clone: Why?

Charlize: There’s a…chemical bond we share—and then there’s experience, the societal normativity of it, the intimacy we’ve shared; hell, there’s plenty of coherent explanations. I am of them, so why wouldn’t they?

Clone: Do you love me?

Charlize: (silent)

Scene 2: “Kumquat”

It’s dark: on the sidewalk, outside of Charlize’s house, stands the clone next to her. The rows of houses frame to the left and right and continue on seemingly endlessly into the distance. A black and white filter is used to effect, barring the faded orange tint kept true to the hovering orbish drone, always following Theron.

Charlize (close up, dialogue): I want you to follow me around tomorrow; from a distance, while I’m at school. Stalk me. It’s imperative that you stay out of sight. I want you to get a feel for how I am in the world and how the world will react to you, ok?

Clone: (nods)

Charlize: You’ll be in disguise.

Clone: (nods).

An electric, rounded at the edges, reminds-you-of-a-mechanical-cloud-looking car drives past on the street. It slows down after passing—tension, but carries on and deflates the anxiety.

Scene 3: “Magna Cum Laude”

His beautiful love interest: the camera zooms out from the centre of her face up toward the ceiling at the front of the classroom, facing the class and finally positioned up above behind the hologrammed instructor’s head. Charlize sits behind and two to the right of his [love] in the four by five row of desks, each equipped with an electronic tablet. A gaunt and garish-looking bully sits to Theron’s love interest’s right. Every other student’s outfit, demeanor fits in a more similar/contained palette/scope/range to emphasize the importance of Theron, his love, and the bully.

Hologram Instructor (glitches now and then): And remember, this coming weekend, we will all assemble at 3 pm in the gym to compare and admire one another’s scientific achievements! How wonderful, how wonderful.

A bell rings; camera cuts to the front of the faded green hologram of a hoarse old man just before it disappears. Students start to walk past in the peripheries of the frame. A song borrowed from the Virgin Suicides soundtrack by Air begins to play. Cut.

Charlize, when moving past his love interest’s desk, who to this point has yet to move, stops, and asks: “Hey I was just wondering if you were competing in the science fair?”

Love Interest: Why even try? Everyone knows you’re going to win.

The bully steps into frame beside the love interest’s desk and in front of Theron, looking down on him—imposing—camera angled up.

POV shot from Charlize’s perspective: suddenly, he is lifted up, brought to eye level with the bully, and then cut to an establishing frame showing two boys on either side of Charlize’s chair; having lifted him up, they set him on top of a desk. Cut back to Charlize’s POV, the camera shakes violently; sounds of the desk’s legs rattling, screams of protest from the love interest.

Scene 4: “Derivative”

The clone came home damaged. Not that the boy knew yet; he’d had to hide in his room. To keep up appearances, minus the one change. All day, he yearned to know how his bipedal debut would go. How his clone would fit in. Was he nervous? Certainly, physically sensitive to it. Given his wheelchair was “by choice”—he did find and restore the chair itself, and his paralysis was psychologically based, as he’d been told; the boy figured it was about time that at least his clone showed people what it’d be like if he really finally could walk. And boy, was he in for an unpleasant surprise.

Boisterous laughter from downstairs: Theron has her ear pressed to her door.

Father: What a miracle this is, son; absolute miracle. Celebrations are in order. Celebrations! We’re going out, let’s pick your mother up from work.

Clone: Should (muffled) we do something about (muffled)

Father: No way, your mother will get a kick out of it!

Cut.

The clone closes the door to Charlize’s room/laboratory behind him. Charlize wheels over into frame, visibly agitated. It’s been all day and night he’s been waiting to hear results. The clone has a severely swollen black eye and mangled upper lip.

Charlize: What happened?!

Clone: The boy who bullies you…he hit me.

Charlize closes her eyes in a wince of disappointment—then a black screen audio: And I hit him back.

A POV shot of Charlize’s eyes opening to look at the undefeated clone.

Three long days, longer, 74 hours now and counting I’ve waited in my lab. Waited for the right time. And I’m so, so close…said—this is hardly a gauntlet of being indoors, an unimpressive house arrest so far on my part, a necessary one for the experiment’s sake—nobody else can know, not until tomorrow.

Scene 5: Science Fête

Clone (strings playing) [wounds healed] close up: I was just a detailed husk of a person—your person—as much an android as any, but with veins instead of wires—until you made me, freed me, for a moment. And so, in exchange for these past few days, you do what you want.

It looks like Charlize has been crying; he has a gun aimed at his clone.

Charlize: You’re so pure. You’re too innocent. And it isn’t fair.

He fires. The clone falls to the floor. Cain was able.

Scene 6: Fin

The science fair, booths set up in aisles, future technologies and students beside them, all in a big gymnasium-turned-assembly hall. Charlize wheels around empty-handed and alone, largely unnoticed.

***

For all installments from 30 Birds, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. “Velvet” by the Bloody Eyes
  2. “Subtle” by Yukio Mishima
  3. “Geronimo Sunset!” by Jun. 27
  4. “My Hero” by Annie Wonoffate Million
  5. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 1
  6. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 2
  7. “Eel Dogs ‘Til Stupid” by Jun. 27
  8. “Pleasant Town” by Jun. 27
  9. “Daffy” by Herman Barker
  10. “Classic, Ecstatic, and Shocked (My First Kiss)” by John Robert Barnes
  11. I Would/Would I?/Wouldn’t You?
  12. “Fabled” by Jun. 27
  13. “Simpatico Starring Matthew McConaughey” by Harrison Ford
  14. “Tarantella” by Jun. 27
  15. “That Time a Toucan Was in Our Backyard/The Very First Thing I Can Remember” by John Robert Barnes
  16. “Gutwrenching (Sadism in Palindrome)” by the Bloody Eyes
  17. “Maraschino” by John Robert Barnes
  18. “Church and God” by John Robert Barnes
  19. “And a Phanta?smagoria” by John Robert Barnes
  20. “Velvet (Cont’d)” by the Bloody Eyes
  21. “Magnanimous Magpies” by the Bloody Eyes
  22. “Amusical” by Jun. 27
  23. “A Decorated Soldier” by John Robert Barnes
  24. “A Love Poem” by John Robert Barnes
  25. “Parable #2 (A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words) — Red Herrings” by Jun. 27
  26. “XYZ Affair (Rawhide)” by the Bloody Eyes
  27. “Le Faites de la Fête” by Jun. 27