The Checkerboard Wars

February 28, 2015 — Leave a comment

T H E    C H E C K E R B O A R D    W A R S

Screenplay by Marcus Allen Steele

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Kids’ VOICES, LAUGHING and JOKING. Drawers and cupboards OPENING and CLOSING, the CLINK of a knife in peanut butter and jelly jars. Bread EMANCIPATED from cellophane, PLOPPED in a toaster. Plates and glasses SET on the table. A refrigerator door exuberantly SLAMMED shut.

racism-and-discrimination

FADE IN:

INT. PACER HOUSE – KITCHEN – SAN LUIS OBISPO – 1990 – DAY

A whirlwind of movement. Three children prepare their lunch. SARAH and SAM PACER, 13 and 12, are sister and brother who actually get a kick out of one another. They’re white. KATE, 13, the last of the fearsome threesome, is Sarah’s best friend. She’s black. They all sit down.

SARAH

Sammy, let Kate grab the first one.

 Sam is reaching, but stops short.

SAM

I’m starving.

KATE
(to Sam)

You must have worms.

(pause)

It’s okay Sarah, you go first.

SARAH

Awright already. Where’s the juice?

SAM
(enthusiastically)

I got it.

Sam heads for the refrigerator…

FATHER (O.S. – off screen)

Sam! Get your butt in here.

Continue Reading…

When I decided to excerpt my screenplay The End of Man for this blog two months ago, I was asked if I had any experience writing screenplays.

For a short time I lived in Hollywood living the life of a starving artist. During that period, I wrote my first screenplay. Ultimately, that effort landed me representation by the head literary agent at one of the top agencies in the world. And in time, we had an Academy-award winning producer attached to make my movie. But it never got made–typical–and I needed to get back to work. Therein the tale of many who try to make a go in a brutal business.

But I have to admit I miss those creative moments of linking scenes to ultimately tell a story.

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So what is The End of Man about? Within the context of a murder mystery, I touch upon important issues of our time–geopolitical intrigue, fanaticism, space exploration, war,  and Middle Eastern oil dependency among others.

But most importantly, this is one man’s journey. Our hero, who’s spiritually bankrupt in the beginning, develops a spiritual awareness as the plot progresses. As events unfold and he encounters the genius of God, he ultimately becomes a man of faith.

How long does it take to read a screenplay? It’s actually equivalent to watching the movie itself–less than two hours. So for those who would like to read my second movie from start to finish, all the excerpts are below. Additionally, at the end of each I’ve provided the link to the next one. Seamless, I hope. So enjoy. And if anyone would like to comment, please do.

The End of Man – 1

The End of Man – 2

The End of Man – 3

The End of Man – 4

The End of Man – 5

The End of Man – 6

The End of Man – 7

The End of Man – 8

The End of Man – 9

The End of Man – 10

The End of Man – 11

The End of Man – 12

The End of Man – 13

The End of Man – 14

The End of Man – 15

The End of Man – 16

The End of Man – 17

The End of Man – 18

The End of Man – 19

The End of Man – 20

The End of Man – 21 (Conclusion)

The End of Man – 1

The End of Man – 20

EXT. WASHINGTON MONUMENT – DAY

President Burk watches the Gulfstream flare and touchdown 2,000 feet away.  As the crowd around him gets anxious, the jet continues its fast roll out.  It then veers to the left, hops the curb blowing a tire, cruises up the hill and finally skids to a stop in the grass just in front of the President.

The engines shut down but Davis sits in the pilot’s seat staring at both the President and Rutter.  He then disappears into the cabin.  The F-22s depart.

The door opens, ladder-steps advance to the ground, and Davis steps out alone.  He walks towards the President and stops three paces away within earshot of Shelby and Olivia.  News organizations everywhere are covering this live.

PRESIDENT BURK

Very dramatic.  You have your meeting. Now, let’s have ‘em.

Davis looks around taking in the incredible scene.

DAVIS

First you’re gonna tell me what you and Rutter are up to.

DR. RUTTER

We’ve had this discussion.  Get over it.

DAVIS

Enlighten me, Mr. President.  C’mon.  You want more microbes.  Rutter probably has some hidden.  And the rest of the world doesn’t have any.  High stakes, don’t you think?  And so you play from the dark side.

No answer.

DAVIS (cont’d)

This was never about history, was it?  It wasn’t about humanity.  It was always about power and greed and oil.

Continue Reading…

The End of Man – 1

The End of Man – 19

INT. NASA MISSION CONTROL – DAY

Minor confusion in Control.  Everything looks perfect from their perspective.

DAVIS (cont’d)(V.O.)

Control.  Ah, George?  We took a vote.  Thanks, but no thanks.  We’re not goin’.  Out.

Now major confusion.  TRACKING notices the “radio off” light.

TRACKING

(to George, quiet shock)

He turned off the radios…

GEORGE

What the hell?!

INT. EXPLORER FLIGHT DECK – DAY

The shuttle door is open, the astronauts are gone.

EXT. LAUNCH COMPLEX 7 – DAY

Attached to the launch tower is the emergency exit system for ground abort.  Two slide wires extend from the tower to the entrance of an underground bunker 1,200 feet away.  One steel basket hangs on each wire.

Franklin and Shelby have jumped in one basket, Davis and Olivia in the other.  Davis climbs up and simultaneously releases the brakes.

Franklin/Shelby’s basket releases and goes flying on its thirty-second ride.  Davis/Olivia go nowhere as he pounds and pounds on the brake release.  Finally, it releases.

Continue Reading…

The End of Man – 1

The End of Man – 18

INT./EXT. NASA GUEST QUARTERS/DAVIS’ ROOM – NIGHT

On his bed staring at the ceiling, Davis answers the phone.  It’s George from Mission Control.

DAVIS

Yeah.

GEORGE (V.O.)

Tomorrow morning.  You’re a “go.”

DAVIS

I don’t think so.

GEORGE

(beat)

I’ll send a car.  And bring Olivia.  Someone wants to talk to you.

Davis hangs up.  He looks over to the couch, where Shelby is sleeping.  Her hand is handcuffed to the radiator.

EXT. LAUNCH COMPLEX 7 – CAPE CANAVERAL – NIGHT

The new revolutionary redesigned EXPLORER is bathed in floodlights.  A black Jaguar pulls up next to a parked car.  Rutter and two big guys get out of the Jag.

Davis and Olivia get out of the parked car, leaving the driver.  Wary, suspicious, not trusting, Davis waits for Rutter’s move.

DR. RUTTER

Spectacular sky, don’t you think?

(no response)

I’m aware of your problems with me, Commander, but tonight they’ll be no talk of shady deeds or conspiracies.  There are other matters.

Continue Reading…

The End of Man – 1

The End of Man – 17

INT. NASA GUEST QUARTERS/DAVIS’ ROOM – DAY

Early morning.  Davis is laying on his bed, barely awake, channel surfing.  His neck is severely bruised.  Asleep, Olivia’s arm is draped over his body.

TELEVANGELIST

Stay on the righteous path.  For if you stray, if you succumb, you will be struck down on your path of sin.  As Hebrews twelve twenty-nine says, “For our God is a consuming fire.”

DAVIS

Fire…

He reaches for the phone and punches 411.

DAVIS (cont’d)

Yes, operator… Good Shepherd Catholic Church… Perhaps there’s a residence number.  I’m looking for a Father Cook.  Thank you.

Waiting for an answer, Davis admires Olivia’s soft skin.

FATHER COOK (O.S.)

Yes, hello?

DAVIS

Is this Father Cook?

FATHER COOK

Yes it is.  Who’s callin’?

Continue Reading…

The End of Man – 1

The End of Man – 16

INT. HOSPITAL MORGUE HALLWAY – NIGHT

Olivia is slouched on a cold bench outside the morgue entrance.  Davis walks up and hands her a cup of coffee.  He sits down beside her, blows on his coffee to cool it.  The environment is dismal, their mood worse.

DAVIS

Did you call Matthew tonight?

OLIVIA

Not at all.  Why?

DAVIS

He thought you did.

OLIVIA

I don’t know why he would say that.

Davis stares off, seeing nothing.

OLIVIA (cont’d)

Y’know… when I told the President about your sabotage theory, he listened politely and then reminded me that theories need to be proven.  He wished me luck, told me to stay the course and hung up.

DAVIS

What an ass.

OLIVIA

Listen.  This morning I received a coded e-mail about an emergency meeting of the National Security Council.

DAVIS

What’s the meeting about?

Continue Reading…

The End of Man – 1

The End of Man – 15

EXT. SWAMP TREE HOUSE – SUNSET

The boys having a cold one, legs dangling from the deck.  The natural sounds of the swamp are increasing in decibels.

DAVIS

Are they working you hard in the simulator?

MATTHEW

Let’s not talk about work.

DAVIS

Sure.  I’ll count frogs.

Matthew gets up to flip the steaks on the grill.  Has something on his mind.

MATTHEW

I finally figured it out and I think you’re stupid.

DAVIS

Which “it” are we talking about?

MATTHEW

The car accident.  Y’know, tragic… parents killed… Davis and Matthew go live with strangers… remember?

DAVIS

Which reminds me, it wasn’t Lake Havasu, it wasn’t Lake of the Ozarks.  There wasn’t a drop of water anywhere.  It was Las Vegas.  I’m tellin’ you we were going to Las Vegas when a rock smashed our windshield.  It wasn’t a bird.

MATTHEW

Details.  We still crashed.

Matthew slaps a steak on a plate and hands it to Davis.  He grabs his, sits down and for a bit, they eat in silence.

DAVIS

So why am I stupid?

Continue Reading…