[INT. A HOUSE]
[TAPE CLICKS ON.]
[There’s the creaking air of a large house. A few drawn-out shuffles of movement. The groaning floorboards of languid motions as someone moves across the floor. Underneath it all, the obtrusive tick-tock tick-tock of a clock.]
[A static builds.]
[The movement stops.]
[When Martin speaks, his voice is just the slightest bit echoey.]
Oh! Hello. (bit of a halting laugh) …What are you? Do I – Do I know you? (heh) Can’t –
[The floorboards creak as he shifts.]
Can’t tell through the – fog, sometimes. You feel – n,not friendly. Familiar?
Shape of you in my hand. I talk to you, don’t I? We talk. What do we – do we say? (under breath) Can’t quite –
(normal) Th-There’s something there, but I just can’t see it.
Anyway. (slight sigh) Ni-Nice to sit down. Take a load off.
[He sits down in a chair with a scoot.]
Not a comfortable chair, of course. No-None of them are, here. I’ve – I’ve been all over this house looking for a nice place to sit. (unsure) I – think.
Is that what I was looking for? (remembers himself) Um. Ei-Either way, this place is so huge… so… empty, by the time you find your way to anything at all, you’ve probably earned a sit-down.
[He lets out a small laugh.]
[Then there’s a creaking sound – like a door opening? Or just the floor and walls again?]
(small laugh) I don’t think there’s anyone else here, I –
Pro-Probably never has been. Not that I can remember, at least.
[The wind/air begins to pick up.]
Is it my house?
It must be, right? It must be, ‘cause – why else would I be here?
You don’t just wander around other people’s houses alone; you don’t just…
You don’t just… just wander. (under breath, smaller) No…
[He trails off.]
(bit dazed) What, what was I saying? I don’t…
[A squeak – again, possibly a door – and some background rattling.]
(to tape) Do you remember? You store them, I suppose. Keep, keep stuff locked up in those little wheels. That’s memory, isn’t it? (movement) Computers used to be like you. Big, whirring things with loads of – uh, tape. They called that memory.
But it’s not – not, not really; it’s just numbers and… (trails off) (movement)
Maybe you’re blank as well, same as me.
Are you? Can you remember what I’ve already said, – (movement) – cause I – I, I can’t; the words keep creeping away? Like – like, like when I try to think back, to focus – um, focus on – um –
[He’s trying very hard to remember.]
(pleasantly surprised) Oh, oh! Oh. Hello! What are you; I can’t quite – see. You feel – familiar. Do I know you, do we talk?
I hope so. (slight laugh) It’s good to talk with people. It’s – hm.
Oh, I, I met someone; did I tell you? (movement) He’s – I, I don’t know. I like him. He doesn’t like me, though. Not really. I don’t blame him.
I don’t like me sometimes, and I am me. Plus he’s – he’s my, my boss? Is that right?
Ei, Ei,Either way, it’s probably for the best. Wouldn’t really be appropriate. You don’t need to worry; I’m not doodling his name on my desk or anything. (heh) His uh – his – his, um. His… name…
[Squeak, like a door opening.]
Wait, what is his name? (distressed) I don’t – (more distressed, sharper) Why, wha– Why can’t I remember his name?
His, his face, I don’t –
[More movement, and a thud. The door closing?]
[Martin steps into the next room.]
(still audibly agitated) Wh-Where am I? This, This isn’t my house!
I don’t like it here. I can’t see anything with all this –
[He moves something that sounds like a curtain on a metal rod aside.]
This fog; this – this is nothing out the windows, and it’s, it’s so cold.
[The rushing of the air increases in volume.]
(audibly shivering) The fireplace is dead and the curtains… there are mirrors but no…
No. Not mirrors.
Someone’s standing in them but I don’t, I don’t know who.
That face, who is… who is that? (under breath) I need to sit down.
[He walks to find a chair, his breaths coming slightly shakier and faster, though still soft in volume.]
[The chair creaks as he sits in it.]
[The clock ticks at a slightly different pace.]
[A static rises.]
(pleasant surprise) Oh! Oh, hello. (small laugh) Who are you, then?
Hmm. Hm. Can’t quite make out a – A tape recorder? (heh) Can’t remember the last time I used a –
Hm. Blast from the past! Familiar…
Well, it’s good to have someone to talk to. Otherwise you can go strange, you… I, I don’t…
Hm. What was I saying?
This… this chair, – (an *ugh* and chair scraping back) – really isn’t comfortable. I had a look-round for better places to sit – did I tell you that? – but it’s, it’s big house.
My house, I think. (heh) Nowhere comfortable. So I suppose this is it.
It is my house, isn’t it? Must be. Must be.
I don’t really remember. Just… so tired. It’s hard to think when you’re this tired, hard to… to focus.
No, no, no, no, not, not tiredness, just the – fog. I – can’t see through the fog, and it – it smells! (movement) (sniff)
What – (sniff) What is that? Damp, sort of – chemical, almost. (larger sniff) I don’t like it.
Why does my house smell like that, I – It can’t be my house.
[He starts walking again.]
No, no, no; my, (sniff) my – (sniff) My house doesn’t smell like this! My house smells… s-smells different. (pause) It’s sort of weird, isn’t it? Smell can trigger memory so… powerfully. Like this one, it, it makes me think of – (large inhale) Hm. (inhale) Hm. I – I don’t know. Is it a person? A place?
No, no; people – people don’t smell like that. Besides, I’m all alone.
I’m all – (movement) I’m all alone. (distressed) Why – Why am I alone? I, I shouldn’t be alone; there should be people! It’s such a – such a big house, my house – there mu– there must be other people! People who care!
[Opening and creaking of the door, more walking.]
[He keeps going. The door creaks behind him.]
[He keeps walking.]
All these rooms… I think they’re the same as this one. I, I don’t know why I’d decorate my house like this; I don’t like it! I like – (breaking off) Wh– I, It’s not my home; it can’t be. Do I have a home? This – this place feels like it’s all for me, I think, but I don’t –
[Door creaks open.]
(shaky) I don’t like it here.
It – It can’t be cheap living here, house this big. I really need a job.
Started lying on my CV; did I tell you that. I didn’t want to. I-I mean I tried to be a good person, but we’re really up against it, and I – and I – I know they’re going to find me out; I just know it.
They’ll ask something, or I’ll say something stupid, and then – and then they’ll know. They’ll know, and then – (shaky exhale) (under breath) Oh, [unintelligible] (normal) What am I doing; I can’t afford a place like this! I need money, not just for me, but for – for… (suddenly less agitated) Wait. Wait, no; it is – it is just me, isn’t it? It’s always been just me.
[The same static as always begins to rise from the background.]
No… No, no, no, that’s not right! I-I’m not alone, no! Not alone, there’s – there’s – J-J-John? John. (suddenly realizing) John! John!
[A thump. Martin starts walking.]
(suddenly to John, frantic) John? John, I’m here; can you hear me? I can’t – it’s – it’s this place, I – wh-where are you; I need you, I nee– (laugh, but humorless) – I need you, John.
[There’s an uneasy discordant tone playing in the background.]
Where – Where did you go.
[A couple more steps.]
(voice about to break) Please don’t leave me. I can’t do this on my own. Please. (inhale that could be a sob) I’m not enough on my own.
Alone. (small, shaky) All. All alone.
[He starts to cry, softly, as he walks on. There’s some rustled movement.]
[And then – the static rises.]
(pleasant surprise) Oh. Oh, hello. What’s this?
Wow, retro! What are you up to, little buddy; just – listening?
That’s okay. It’s nice to have someone to talk to.
Maybe you can keep a better handle on things than me.
It’s this fog, you know? Makes it so hard to see. (under breath) WhatwasIsaying? (normal) I feel like there’s somewhere I need to be. But no, no; this is my house; where else would I need to be?
I just –
I wish I had comfortable chairs. (inhale) Would be nice to have somewhere relaxing to sit down. Rest a bit when Mum’s asleep.
Did I tell you about my mum?
(half-whisper) We should try to keep quiet actually, you know. Make sure not to wake her. The drugs – they, they hit her pretty hard, but – if you make enough noise and she wakes up, and – (quieter) and yeah, it’s not good. (bravado) Not a good time!
I-I know she loves me; I-I know she does.
But that doesn’t make it easy. There’s always so much to do, and I’m always forgetting something.
I do try, you know? I mean, I really try to keep on top of things, but I’m just – I’m just so forgetful, and she – she –
Sometimes I wonder if I forget things on purpose. Easier not to think about them, I guess. Easier to just let them… slip away. They can’t hurt you if you don’t think about them; they can’t shout at you or call you names. (increasingly emotional) And I, I always think of Mum’s face when I’ve done something wrong, and I – (dead sober) Wait.
Wait, her face, I – I don’t – I don’t remember her face.
Did – Did she have a face? (berating) D-Don’t – Don’t be stupid, Martin; of course she had a face! (increasingly agitated) You just can’t remember it ‘cause – (breathing heavy) ‘Cause you’re a bad son; because you left you left her to rot in – (brief pause) (despondent)
Wh-Where did she go?
She didn’t like it; I didn’t like it. S-Smelled. It smelled like –
Where am I? This isn’t right; I shouldn’t be here; I should be –
Somewhere, someone that – there, there are people who trust me, people who love me, so why can’t I remember them? Why, why can’t I see them?
Sasha. Yeah! Yeah, yeah, I, I remember; there was – there was Sasha! I can see her face!
No – no, wait, no; not, not Sasha, some – something else. The thing that isn’t Sasha, that, that took her, and, and made her – something else, and her – face, her – her face, I can still see it; it’s – laughing.
[He’s breathing heavier, now.]
Telling me that there’s – there’s nobody else. I’m alone. The only people who could ever stand to be around me are gone. Even from my mind. (tearful) Where is this place? So cold. And I can’t see anything through all this – fog. (hm) I must have – left the window open. (struggles with the next word) L, L-L,Let the fog in.
Oh, my heating bills must be through the roof, stupid; can’t afford that!
At least I’ve got a job now; did I tell you I’ve got a job? I mean, the interview was weird, I-I don’t really remember the man who talked to me. Just his eyes.
They stared at me. Th-Through me, and – and I knew he knew what I had done.
God. I was so scared, but then he smiled, and shook my hand.
What was his name?
He said I ‘had the job,’ (heh) that he ‘looked forward to working with me.’
I was still so scared I could barely move my arm. I was so terrified I’d let him down.
[The static is once again starting to rise.]
And then I met John, and I – (realization) John – John! John! John? John, I’m here! John, I-I think I’m lost, I think – I don’t – (losing his grasp) John.
[But he’s losing his words again.]
[The clock ticks on.]
[The static rises again with a little squeak.]
(pleasant surprise) Oh, he-hello! What are you?
Huh. Didn’t even know I had a tape recorder. Do you still work, or…
[He taps on it.]
Yeah, seems like you’re running all right. (beat) Hey, I should do some poetry! You could give it a little, little bit of that funky lo-fi goodness! All the cool poets love a bit of tape hiss, right?
Maybe find somewhere different to sit, though.
[He scoots out of the chair.]
(under breath) Hate these chairs. Don’t even know where I got them.
Did I tell you I’ve been writing poetry? N,Nothing much really, just fragments, thoughts. Haven’t written anything like it since I was a teenager, – (small laugh) – but my new job’s a lot, and – I don’t know. Something about that place, it just – it makes me feel weird?
But – the sort of weird you just have to get out somehow.
Maybe I – Maybe I should do some open mics, or something. Just for me, really, I think.
Oh! You – You want to hear some? (heh) (movement)
Uh – yeah! Yeah, okay, sure; well, I can – No. No, wait, no that – (movement) Hm, they’re gone; that’s weird. I thought – I, I can feel them, but the words, they just – just wash away.
I, I m – I suppose that’s quite poetic actually, but – (sigh) Nothing else there.
I don’t like this place. (exhale) It’s so cold, and, and the logs in the fireplace are damp from the mist. I don’t know how I’d even light them, and they – they smell really bad, like they’re wet dirt.
Makes me think of – hm.
When I was nine, my grandad died. Did I tell you that? I went to the funeral, and the coffin was so – (small laugh) shiny. It was already sealed.
But on top there was a photo of a – young man. Someone who looked almost like my grandad, but – it, it wasn’t him. It wasn’t… finished? Not yet.
No, and – and I suddenly began to panic, because I was trying to remember what he looked like, his, his face, but I couldn’t do it. And I knew I’d never see him again.
He loved me and I couldn’t even remember his face!
(breathing heavy) It was – It was a horrid, drizzly morning, that day, and they put him in the ground and he – he smelled like earth. Cold, damp soil. (squeak, movement) What was I saying?
Ah – S, Sorry – (sorry exhale) It’s just this chair-
[Squeak and movement sounds as he gets up.]
– it’s so hard to concentrate when you’re uncomfortable, isn’t it?
[A few more creaks.]
[The static rises.]
Now, I think – Hey, hang on. Where did you come from?
Tape recorder. (heh) What, you want me to give you a statement, I –
[The static presses.]
(deadened voice) Why. The Eye has won. It can already see everything; it wouldn’t need a – w-wouldn’t need a –
[The static fades.]
(stuttering, stumbling) Well it’s just, nice to talk to someone, I guess. No one real ever really listens to me anyway.
Oh, they nod and respond and say ‘No, Martin,’ or ‘Not now, Martin,’ or ‘Leave it, Martin –’ but, funny thing is – (false bright) I didn’t ask them to do anything!
Just wanted to see if they needed a hand. (heh, but humorless) Is that me? (unsure) Is – Is that me? Martin? Martin. Maartin. (close to John’s pronunciation) Martin.
Doesn’t sound right. But who else would I be? (hm) Whoever owns this house, I guess. It certainly doesn’t seem like the kind of place that somebody called Maartin would live.
It feels like a small name. One that wants to be warm and happy. Not like here.
You know, I’ve wandered around all these rooms, and – they all just make me feel alone.
They scare me.
Even when I find someone else, I feel alone. Did I tell you?
I – found someone else, wandering around. They were all – thin and grey. Faded. Like they’d been here for ages. I think they’d been – crying, but it’s so hard to tell through the fog.
I tried to talk to them, but it was just – just difficult! I asked who they were, and they – looked at me like they had no idea what I was talking about.
“What’s your name?” I said, “Your name? You must have a name!” but they just – shrugged, and I – and – (movement) And they gestured at me. Like they wanted to know my name, and I – th– I couldn’t tell them! I couldn’t remember!
“Is this your house?” I asked, and they said, they said yes. But – then they stopped, and shook their head. And, and then they started to laugh.
Quietly, for a bit, and then they cried. And they wouldn’t stop. I – I –
They asked me who they were, if there was anyone looking for them. If there was anybody left who even cared, but I – I didn’t know. I, I didn’t know, and I –
[His voice is shaking. He’s clearly emotional.]
(tearful) I ran away – I had to run away! (sob) I, I had to go and have a sit-down, okay? I just – (creak, movement) I just wish I had thought to buy some nicer chairs.
Still. Not like I’ve got guests coming, is it? (shaky breath) The house is empty, and, and honestly? I – I can’t think of anyone in the world who would care if I lived or died.
[The clock ticks on, insistent and unyielding.]
(sob, quiet) I-I-I’m scared. I think this fog is doing something to me; I can’t – (movement) I’m losing myself, and I – and I don’t know if I mind?
Maybe I deserve it. (shaky breath) So much of what’s behind the fog hurts. So much of it just makes me wanna curl up with pain and embarrassment and –
Maybe the fog’s here because I want it here.
Is that why I opened the windows?
Maybe I asked the fog to come. (beat) No. No, no – no, no, no, that’s not true, I – I remember! Hundreds, thousands of lost souls, wandering the halls. Hollow memories, with eyes full of tears.
I’ve seen them. (shaky) They’re all trying to remember. T-To recall, to picture someone, anyone who loves them, and their hearts are all full of fear.
Afraid that those people are gone forever. That maybe – maybe they never existed at all. (agitated) Why am I here?
I-I fell behind. I was – I was too slow, and, and, and the fog caught up; I was following. Al-Always following, never leading. Never leading.
Why did he leave me behind? D-Did he? Who are – Wh– Who are you? Who am –? (realization, movement) J-J-John.
[The static kicks in again.]
John, John. Yes. John, I remember him. (shaky exhale) I need to, I need to keep him here. If he can find me, I – he, he knows enough; surely he Knows enough to find me, but I can’t – (struggling) If I forget him, if, if I forget – me – maybe – maybe there’s nothing left to Know. No one to find.
Talking helps. I got you all here to listen; (tap) Just, just don’t stop talking.
You – You are Martin Blackwood. Yes. You, you didn’t choose to be here. John is coming. (stronger) I am Martin Blackwood, and I am not lonely anymore; I am not lonely anymore. (voice shaking with effort) I want to have friends; I – no, I have friends. I-I’m in love. (heh) I am in love, and I will not forget that; I will not forget. (stronger) I am Martin Black–
(far off, calling) Martin!
Wai– wh– John?
(getting closer) Martin! Martin?
John! John, over here!
[And the static is growing louder.]
Oh! Martin, hold on, I, I, I’m coming; I just –
ARCHIVIST (ON MIC)
(relieved) Oh, Martin; thank god, I – I was –
[And it sounds like he’s embracing him]
I, I thought you were behind me.
[Martin lets out a soft oh.]
I thought you’d left me behind. Gone on without me.
No, never. N-Never, I, I just –
[He pulls back from the hug.]
I, I didn’t want to – Look too h– I,I,I promised I wouldn’t Know you, and, and with the fog, and, and all the rooms, I, I just – I lost you; I’m – (inhale) I’m sorry.
[A beat of just their exhales.]
No, I – I tried to use the – (sigh) to Know where you were, but it was – you, you were faint. It was so strange; it took me so long just to find you.
John, it’s – okay. I promise, it’s okay. This place tried; it really did, and honestly, I – (inhale) I wanted to believe it.
But I didn’t.
This… place, i, it –
[The static increases.]
[The static fades.]
M-Martin – if you – did. I,If you wanted to forget a,all of it, stay here and just – escape.
[The wind rushes in the background.]
I-I would understand.
N,No. It’s comforting here, leaving all those – painful memories behind, but – (slight movement) It’s not a good comfort, it’s – i,it’s the kind that makes you fade, makes you dim and – distant.
(barely a whisper) Okay. (pause, normal) Okay, good; I – (fortifying breath) I wanted to make sure you knew what this place was.
It’s the Lonely, John. It’s me.
[Martin makes a pleased little hm.]
No. (long inhale) No, not anymore.