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“Emails from the Other Side”
Treatment, August 4, 2012
1. INT. SAMANTHA'S HOME OFFICE - NIGHT
SAMANTHA, 30s or 40s, pours herself another GLASS OF WINE and is disappointed when seeing she has emptied the BOTTLE. Tipsy, depressed and drunk, shy grabs a pill bottle then staggers to her DESK, sitting in front of her lit up PC. While popping a small handful of pills in her mouth and washing them down with wine, she writes, “To those of you who might wonder why I would do this when I seem to have everything in the world to live for; why a beautiful, wealthy and extremely successful defense lawyer would kill herself.” Her justification - defending “slime” has become too easy; so easy that she even got her own “slimy 3 strikes plus 2 more ex-fiancé Dale off before the idiot could officially acquire his 6th strike by getting electrocuted while stealing copper wiring from a power plant. Bottom line, she’s bored with her job, bored with the system, bored with being beautify; bored with life. With a flourish, she signs her name, tosses back more pills and takes a swig of wine. Satisfied, she smiles before her head drops on the desk with a THUMP. After a beat, the computer lights up and announces, “You’ve got mail!” Samantha raises her head and squints at the screen. “Shit. It’s an email is from my dead slimy ex-fiancé. Hmm. Interesting.”
Intrigued, Samantha opens the email. “Dear Samantha, I am sending you this email from the ‘other side.’ Hell. My trial is coming up. I’m hoping to get myself released, but my prosecutor is the devil himself.” Dale knows that if anyone can win a case against the devil, it’s Samantha. He pleads with her to “have a heart for once” and take the case. A smile crosses Samantha’s face. This could be just the thing she needs to feel alive again; a real challenge. Just then a pop-up box appears on the screen. It reads, “If you would like to help Dale press this link...” Without a thought she does. Another pop up appears which leads her to another link which leads to another, which all seems to lead nowhere. Finally, she sees a number for customer service in Hell - (555) 666-6969. She dials and gets a “phone tree.” A devilish male voice walks her through one annoying step after another. It instructs her to speak answers but says it can’t make out her answers and has her repeat over and over again. “This is Hell,” she shouts at the phone. After an excruciatingly long time, she is given an appointment.
3. INT. SAMANTHA’S CAR – NEXT DAY
Samantha is stuck in rush hour traffic. She searches the radio for a traffic report but only finds RAP MUSIC, then TALK RADIO, with loud antagonistic people (imagine being forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh for an hour!). Drivers honk their horns. And it’s hot, and getting hotter and her air condition seems to be on the fritz. As she loosens the collar on her blouse, she looks over at the car next to her, also barely moving. The annoying fellow driving leers at her, making obscene gestures with his fingers and tongue. Then he licks his window. Frustrated, Samantha leans on her horn with everyone else, shouting, “This is Hell!”
4. INT. DMV-TYPE OFFICE – CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK AREA – LATER (DAY)
Samantha sits in an uncomfortable chair trapped between people having annoying, loud conversations on cell phones. The CLERK at the customer service desk calls out the number 85. Samantha looks at her number - 367 - and sighs, “This is Hell.” She pulls out her cell phone but can’t get a signal. She covers her ears as the Clerk drones on, STAMPING FORMS and calling out numbers, speaking like that teacher in Ferris Buhler’s Day Off (“Class, class, class”). TIME LAPSE DISSOLVES move us along and her number is finally called. “State your reason for seeking admittance to Hell,” the clerk asks. “I’m due for a trial,” she answers. His expression is the same; his tone is the same; his words are the same - “State your reason for seeking admittance to Hell.” “I’m a lawyer,” she yells. He smiles, “A lawyer, eh? Some think that should get them into Hell automatically. But there are always exceptions. And more forms to fill out.” She says, proudly, “I am here by special invitation.” The clerk takes a closer look at her form and says, “Ah, so I see.” Suddenly the unbearable sound of fingernails on a chalk board are amplified in the room. Samantha covers her ears, looking toward a FLAT SCREEN TV on the wall behind the clerk, where we see the image the fingernails on the board. The desk clerk looks toward the TV with a blissful smile, saying, “Every time you hear fingernails on a chalk board, another soul has been purchased.” The image of the blackboard is replaced by a quick glimpse of a soul being cast away (a politician taking a bribe; a boss asking for a sexual favor from a female employee in order for her to get a raise; a slob throwing his fast food garbage out of the window of his car and onto the street, etc.). Throughout the following dialog, we will hear the fingers on the chalkboard and see another glimpse of a soul being discarded.
Looking over the paperwork, the clerk says, “So, you’re under the impression that you’ve only just arrived?” Samantha grows annoyed, snapping, “Of course I’ve only just arrived. The email led me to the ridiculous pop-ups which lead to the phone call and that annoying phone tree where I finally got an appointment, but got stuck in rush hour traffic, which got me here, where I waited forever in line. You really make it hell, don’t you.” He says, “That’s the whole idea.” Samantha levels the clerk with and annoyed look. He smiles and suddenly she recognizes him. “Wait a minute. I know you. You’ve been with me this whole miserable journey.” We see a series of FLASH FLASHBACKS - a montage of images as Samantha recalls the face and the voice … the same voice from the phone tree, the same face from the driver of the other car, licking his window, the voice from the radio, the people sitting on either side of her talking on cell phones (all in various disguises). And now the clerk looks as he should – with horns and pencil mustache and goatee and horns. There is the sound of fingernails on a blackboard again. Samantha looks toward the TV. This time she sees a quick montage of herself, making backroom deals, plotting to ruin a colleague’s reputation, cheating on her taxes and, finally, swallowing pills to commit suicide. The devil raises a bottle of pills and shakes them, saying “You took enough to kill half a dozen race horses. If you ever read the bible, you’d know that suicide is a sin, too.” She trembles, saying, “You mean, I’m dead?” He smiles, saying, “Don’t you remember what were you doing in between the emails, the phone tree, being in the car, and being here? Do you remember getting into your car; do you remember coming into this place? Of course you don’t. You only remember the parts that seemed to you to be Hell. Well, Samantha, in this place, every day is your worst day … over and over again.” Samantha is shocked as she hears, “You’ve got mail.”
SMASH CUT TO:
5. INT. SAMANTHA’S HOME OFFICE - NIGHTSamantha POPS IN, again sitting in front of her PC, which has a blinking mail icon. She looks around, hopefully saying, ‘Maybe it was just a bad dream.” Then her PC repeats, “You’ve got mail.” She looks at the screen as an email from her ex-slimy boyfriend arrives from the “other side.” She says, “Oh no, here I go again."