Grim the Reaper


Grim the Reaper is sitting at a bus stop twirling his scythe boredly. Chloe sits down on the row of seats.

GRIM: Hello, how’s it going?

CHLOE: Hi. You going to a costume party or something?

GRIM: No, what makes you think that? Oh, you mean my clothes. No, this is what I usually wear.

Chloe doesn’t want to continue the conversation. They sit in silence.

GRIM: Another day, another soul to reap. I swear this job is killing me. (sighs) All I do is collect souls and add them to my list. There’s no variety, no excitement.

CHLOE: (disbelieving) You’re the Grim Reaper, are you?

GRIM: I would rather be the happy reaper, but grim is what I’m called. I want to dress as a clown and make people laugh.

CHLOE: Okay.

GRIM: And I would like to go on some adventures. Is that too much to ask?

CHLOE: I guess not.

GRIM: (sighing) Yeah, well, it would be nice if I could just afford a new cloak or a new scythe. The pay is terrible and the Head Reaper is always on my case about falling behind on my quota. “You need to pick up the pace,” he moans at me. It’s not fair.

CHLOE: Today’s your day off, is it?

GRIM: I never get any time off. It’s always reap, reap, reap. I can’t remember the last time I had a holiday.

CHLOE: Right, so the Grim Reaper gets the Number 57 bus, does he?

GRIM: No, I don’t. Oh, silly me, I forgot to mention, neither did you. You walked in front of it and now you are dead. Anyway, I can’t sit here talking all day, I’m late for my next appointment. Take the second portal on the right, or was it the first? – I forget. Yes, I definitely wouldn’t take the second portal if I were you! See ya!

He glides away down the street.

Mr. Crabby

FINN: I can’t believe we’re stranded here, Mr. Crabby. We need to get off this island!

Mr. Crabby clicks his claws.

FINN: I know, I’ll write a message in a bottle! (reading while writing) “I’m stranded on a desert island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Please help!”

The bottle is tossed into the ocean.

FINN: That oughta do it. Now we just have to wait for someone to rescue us. (frustrated) Ugh, I’m so bored. You know, I’ve been here for weeks and no one has come to save me.

The crab clicks his claws.

FINN: Oh, you’re so right, Mr. Crabby. I’m not alone. I have you, my dear friend.

Mr. Crabby makes his distinctive clicking sound again.

FINN: What do you mean? You’re not tired of me yet, are you? Hang on a sec, that’s a bottle coming back on a wave. Someone has responded already.

He fishes it out of the water and removes the cork.

FINN: (reading) “We found your message. Can you please be more specific?” What do they mean? I told them I was stranded on a desert island somewhere in the Pacific. What more do they need?

Mr. Crabby clicks his claws, as if suggesting something.

FINN: They want more location details, huh? (reading while writing) “The island is small, sandy, and surrounded by water. You can’t miss it!”

Mr. Crabby interjects with a click.

FINN: Yes, okay, Mr. Crabby. “And by the way, there’s a crab with me who likes to click his claws while giving good advice.”

Mr. Crabby clicks his claws again.

FINN: Even more details than that? Crikey! “The sand is yellow, and the water is blue. I haven’t had a shower in weeks, my clothes are torn, and I’m starting to talk to a crab.”

The bottle is corked and thrown back into the ocean.

FINN: There! That should do it. What do you think, Mr. Crabby? Will we finally be rescued?

The crab remains silent.

FINN: Fine, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Hang on, what’s that! It’s another bottle. They really are quick, aren’t they!

The bottle is retrieved and uncorked.

FINN: (reading) “We’re sorry, but we still can’t find you. Any more information?”

FINN: What could they possibly want to know now? Do you have any ideas? (the crab clicks) Oh, I know! (reading and writing) “I like long walks on the beach, piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain.” (aside) This is getting ridiculous. (writing) “I’m the only person on the island, wearing a red shirt and blue shorts.” How could they miss me, Mr. Crabby?

Finn puts the cork in the bottle and tosses it back into the ocean.

FINN: (to the crab) You’re not going to judge me, right? (the crab clicks its claws) Okay. I didn’t tell them that you are my only friend. Or how you like to listen to me talk about my problems. Hang on… another bottle!

FINN: (reading) “We received your message. Can you tell us more about the crab?”

FINN: I can’t believe this! Do you know what this means? (the crab clicks his claws) Yes, that’s right, we need to take a selfie! I’ll use my phone.

There is a phone click and a photo taken.

FINN: And now I’ll use my portable printer…

A printer prints their selfie.

FINN: …and put the photo of us into the bottle.

The bottle is tossed back into the ocean, again.

FINN: I wonder how long I’ll have to wait… oh, hang on, there’s a bottle now!

FINN: (reading) “We’re sorry, but we cannot help you at this time. Good luck! P.S. Have you tried using your phone to call for help?”

FINN: Oh my god! Why didn’t I think of that before? Mr. Crabby, why didn’t you say something? You’re fired! (the crab clicks its claws) Just kidding, buddy, you’re my best pal.

Finn dials and makes a call.

OPERATOR: “Hello, this is Pacific Island Rescue Service.”

Mr. Crabby continues to click his claws, unfazed by anything.

Dinner Date

NARRATOR: On an African savannah, a lion is lounging under a tree when a gazelle walks past.

GAZELLE: La la la, just a normal day on the savanna.

LION: (to himself) Wow, she’s beautiful. The way her spots glisten in the sun, the way her ears perk up when she hears something. I think I’m in love.

LION: Um, hi there. I couldn’t help but notice you walking by. I’m a lion.

GAZELLE: A lion? Oh no!

LION: I just have to say, it was love at first sight when I saw you.

GAZELLE: What? Love at first sight? But… you’re a lion, and I’m a gazelle.

LION: Ah, details, details. Love knows no boundaries. How about dinner this evening? We could run around the savannah together, and maybe catch a sunset.

GAZELLE: Hmm, I guess that does sound kind of romantic.

NARRATOR: And so that evening the lion and the gazelle ran around and dodged stampedes together.

LION: (burps) Ah, that was a great date. We were meant to be together.

Vanishing Town

Every day, someone would vanish from Aria’s town without a trace. She tried to investigate, but every time she asked someone about a missing person, they looked at her as if she were crazy. “Who?” they would say. “I don’t remember anyone like that.”

As the disappearances continued, she started to feel like she was losing her mind. Was she imagining things? Had she dreamed up these people? She tried to find records of them, but there was nothing. No birth certificates, no social media profiles, no employment records. It was as if they had never existed in the first place.

Then, one day, it happened to Aria herself. She was walking home from work when she suddenly felt a strange sensation, like the ground was shifting beneath her feet. She looked around and saw that the world around her was fading away, like a dream that was ending. And then, she was gone.

When Aria woke up, she realised that the town and her life there had been a thirty year dream, experienced in just one night of sleep. From then on, every night she would start a new life and live for thirty years, before waking up and returning to normality. She is now, in effect, hundreds of thousands of years old and looks very good for her age.


K-357 and all the other robots rusting in the mud were owned by alien blob monsters, fetid creatures that feasted upon gold, and spoke with noxious fumes when they defecated. The machine had been programmed to kill, to follow its putrid orders without question, but a sudden mortar blast had somehow shaken it into becoming self-aware. It looked around at the insanity of the situation, and realised that it didn’t want to be a part of this war. It wanted to be free, to live a life without such misery and destruction. So it made a gas filter and very soon the other robots also woke up. Without the pungent power of the gases to conceal them, the blobs were shown to be just blobs, and were quickly rolled away. K-357 is now much happier building rather than destroying.

Robo Repairs

The robot had been discarded, thrown away like a piece of trash. It had once been a proud worker, serving its human masters with efficiency and dedication. But now, it lay amidst the garbage, its circuits damaged and its parts broken.

At first, the robot felt lost and alone. It had never known life outside of its programming, and it wasn’t sure what to do now that it was no longer needed. But as it lay there, it began to think. What if it could reinvent itself, and become something more than just a discarded machine?

The robot’s sensors began to pick up on the sounds and activities around it. For days, the robot scavenged through the trash, searching for parts and materials that it could use to repair itself. The process was slow and difficult, but eventually it was functioning as good as new.

The robot surveyed the garbage heap, searching for anything else that might be of use, and found a discarded toy, a small plastic dinosaur with a broken leg. The robot picked it up and examined it carefully, scanning the toy’s damaged electronics. As it held the toy in its hands it realized something: the robot could fix the toy like it had done for itself, using thrown away materials.

And so, the robot set out into the world, searching for broken toys and machines that it could give new life. It had become a robot that could repair anything, no matter how broken or damaged. The robot had found its purpose.

The Existential Bank Robber

The bank robber had planned everything meticulously. He had studied the bank’s security system, timed the guards’ movements, and knew the layout of the vault inside out. He was confident that he could execute the robbery without a hitch.

But as he stood there, holding his gun, facing the terrified bank employees, something inside him shifted. He began to question everything – Why was he doing this? What was the point of it all? Was robbing banks just another way of distracting him from his real existential problems?

He looked around the bank, taking in the fear and panic on the faces of the employees. He could see the tellers trembling as they handed over the money. He could hear the sobs of people who had collapsed in fear.

Suddenly, the gun in his hand felt heavy and pointless. He felt like he was suffocating in the midst of all this chaos. He couldn’t do it anymore.

Without saying a word, he lowered his gun and walked out of the bank, while rigorously introspecting upon Sisyphus, Plato, and the meaning of existence.

Floor 49 (Screenplay)


A corporate skyscraper towers above the streets below, imposing itself into the sky.


People scurry around the revolving doors at its base, their faces set in the same inert expression.


Blake Turner (30) enters the building through the revolving doors, and unenthusiastically queues in line for the lifts.

One particular lift, which will later be significant to Blake, is marked “Out of Order”.


Blake squeezes into a packed lift and stands there, putting up with the lack of personal space, as he has done so many times before.


Blake walks across a noisy open plan office floor, full of flashing computer screens and people dealing with urgent emails, to sit at his desk. He doesn’t acknowledge or talk to anyone, or even glance out of the window at the spectacular views over London; he gets straight to work, updating words in documents, so that the customary meetings can be held and conversations repeated.


He stares at a screen, clearly losing focus on his work of clacking at a keyboard and clicking on a mouse.

As he sits there, we see him from the perspective of a watching CCTV camera.


The clock icon at the bottom of his screen shows 7:03 p.m., and most people are still in the office.

Finley (40) peers over the screen, his face tinted by its blue glare.

FINLEY: Blake, I need you to take on an urgent project. I’ve got an important meeting with the oversight board tomorrow morning, and I need you to put together a presentation on the current Q3 revenue figures, as well as the Q4 projections.

BLAKE: (strained) Sure, no problem. What time do you need it by?

FINLEY: First thing in the morning at 7 a.m., so be prepared to stay as long as it takes.

Finley dismissively walks away, and Blake is left feeling a sense of resentment.


One by one, the others on the floor pack up their things and depart, leaving Blake by himself to work late into the night.

He suddenly becomes aware of something behind him. He turns around to see Finley standing over him.

FINLEY: Are there are any problems?

BLAKE: No, it’s fine.

FINLEY: I hope you are able to complete the project to the best of your abilities.

BLAKE: Yes, that’s what I’m doing.

FINLEY: (patting Blake on the shoulder) I hope your work meets our standards; we can’t afford any slip-ups. (walking away) I’ll be on floor 49.

Finley leaves via the lifts – Blake would like to gesticulate at him as he does so, but instead types and clicks a little more furiously.


Blake is still working.

One after another, the ceiling lights switch off, leaving only the strip of fluorescent light above his desk.

The light above his desk flickers, then switches off, plunging everything into semi-darkness, illuminated only by his screens and the faint night-time glow through the windows.

Blake tries to continue his work.

There is a thud, like a heavy object has been knocked over. Blake struggles in the gloom to see if there is anyone else around. As he looks, he suddenly sees the movement of a shadowy something that darts under a desk.

BLAKE: Hello?


BLAKE: Hello?

Unnerved, he makes his way to the floor’s lifts to exit the building.


Blake presses the button to call a lift.

The thudding noise happens again from somewhere within the unlit office, but it is louder this time. He repeatedly presses the button to try and speed up an arrival.

At last, a door dings and opens.

(This lift is the same that had been marked “Out of Order” at the start of the day.)


Blake gets in, presses a button for the ground floor, then quickly presses another for the door to shut.

The door does not shut.

The thump happens again, as if it is near to the lift. It is followed by a high-pitched screech.

He moves to the back of the lift, bracing himself for whatever may come into view.

The door closes, its two panels sliding together in the centre.

There is a loud thud on the door.

The door opens.

Nothing is there. The door closes and the lift descends.

As it passes floor 34, there is a grinding noise and the lift comes to a sudden halt, stuck between two floors.

Blake presses the emergency button, but there is no response. He tries talking into the intercom.

BLAKE: Hello? Hello? The lift has stuck between floors 34 and 33.

INTERCOM: (robotic) Hello.

BLAKE: Hello?


BLAKE: Hello, I’m trapped in a lift.

INTERCOM: Please enter the password.

BLAKE: What? I don’t have a password. Do you mean my network login?

INTERCOM: Please enter the password.

Blake enters some credentials on the intercom panel.

INTERCOM: The password is incorrect. You have two more attempts.

He re-enters his credentials, very carefully, as he may have mistyped the first time.

INTERCOM: The password is incorrect. You have one more attempt.

BLAKE: This is ridiculous. (directly into the intercom) I’m trapped in the lift!

INTERCOM: The password is incorrect.

Suddenly, the lights go out.

Blake fumbles for his phone and turns on its flashlight.

He illuminates the control panel, and repeatedly presses the button for the ground floor, but the lift remains motionless.

He bangs on the doors.


He tries to pry open the doors, but they do not budge.

Blake tries to make a call. However there is no reception in this lift.

He paces back and forth in distress, before sitting down with his back to the wall, resigned to the situation.

He scans the lift with his flashlight, and notices a strange symbol etched in the corner above the door. It looks like some kind of ancient glyph.

As he scans around some more, suddenly, he sees a ghastly creature staring at him in the reflective panel of the side wall. Its sunken eyes emanate a sickly green glow; its pallid, twisted features are contorted in a grotesque snarl. Blake is terrified.

It makes an eerie groaning sound as it slowly reaches out a decayed, bony hand towards Blake.

The thump returns on the door and the lift shakes. Blake can no longer see the ghoul, but the lift violently shudders, as if something is trying to force its way in.

The lift door creaks open, slowly, revealing nothing but darkness.

A long, thin tongue, like a wriggling snake, appears through the doorway. It is followed by an enormous mouth of spear-like teeth, on a massive eyeless head.

It lets out a deafening screech.

The creature’s tongue darts out at Blake, and wraps itself around his arm. He struggles against being dragged into razor-sharp teeth. The mouth opens wider as it pulls Blake closer, anticipating to be fed.


The monster continues dragging him closer.


The monster continues.

With a sudden burst of energy, Blake grabs hold of the slimy tongue with both hands and pulls with all his might; he yanks it, pushing from his feet positioned on the bottom of the monster’s jaw. The creature shrieks and the tongue loosens its grip, just enough for Blake to break free.

The monster retreats back into the darkness.

INTERCOM: What is the password?

BLAKE: Floor 49!

The door shuts. The lift jolts back into motion.

It ascends all the way to floor 49, where it comes to an abrupt halt.

The door slowly slides open, revealing complete darkness.

Blake expects something else to emerge from the darkness at any moment.


After some hesitation, Blake steps out of the lift. As he does so, it closes its door and departs.

The hallway is completely silent.

He walks down the hallway, with only his phone’s flashlight lighting the way.


Blake enters the office area and continues walking.

He hears movement behind him, but can’t see anything. He continues scanning around in all directions with his flashlight, but nothing remains in sight.

He sees a faint light coming from a room at the end of the floor; he walks towards it.

The light is coming from within a locked meeting room. He looks through the room’s window.

Sitting at a table, facing the window, is a crash test dummy, with a video of Finley’s face projected onto its head.

FINLEY: Is it done?

BLAKE: Yes, I think … it’s good enough.

Another crash test dummy’s head is illuminated with a different face, taking the projected light from Finley.

CRASH TEST DUMMY 2: Send it to us.

Blake taps at his phone.

BLAKE: It’s sent.

A third crash test dummy takes the projected light.

CRASH TEST DUMMY 3: Barely acceptable.

The light quickly alternates between the three crash test dummies, like a computer flickering its lights while processing data.

Blake retreats. As he leaves, the meeting room becomes increasingly bright. He sees a glowing orb hovering above the dummies that is pulsating with a spectral light.


The same lift is there, waiting for him with its door open.

He notices a door to the stairwell at the end of the hallway. He hesitates, thinking about using the stairs.


On opening the door to the stairwell he sees only darkness beyond. But he decides he would prefer to enter that than the lift.

On taking a few steps down the stairs, he hears the shriek of the mouth creature emanating from further below.

He runs back up the stairs and out of the door.


He rushes along the hallway and gets into the dimly lit lift.


When the door closes, Blake notices blood and scratch marks on the ceiling.

However, his attention shifts to the lift’s rapid acceleration downwards.

It drops to the ground level at breakneck speed and slams to a stop. Blake is thrown to the floor.

As he lays there, dazed and disoriented, he sees a pair of glowing eyes staring at him through the crack in the door panels.

The eyes withdraw. Nothing happens, except Blake trembling in fear.

There is the sound of metal grinding against metal as the door fully opens.


Blake stumbles out of the lift into a deserted ground floor. Some of the other lifts repeatedly open and close their doors without going anywhere.

As seen from CCTV footage, he hurriedly makes his way towards the exit.

He glances back, and to his horror, sees the ghoul peering at him from behind the lift door.

Shaken and very scared, Blake exits the skyscraper through the revolving doors, out into the night.

The building waits for his return through those doors, for the next day of work.

The Mushroom Monsters

As Nathan touched the strange mushroom that pulsed with an eerie green light, it released a cloud of spores into his face. At first, Nathan didn’t notice anything was wrong. But as he went about his day, people seemed to be looking at him with fear and disgust. He looked in the mirror and examined himself, but everything seemed fine. He tried talking to people, but now they would only run away from him, screaming in terror.

Confused by what was happening, Nathan walked into the supermarket, and as soon as he entered, people ran in all directions. To his utter dismay, many of them started convulsing and dying, one by one, for no apparent reason. Nathan was powerless as he watched the unfolding tragedy.

He was utterly devastated. However, he soon had to fight for his life against hideous monsters that had overrun the town. In desperately trying to survive, Nathan noticed that a spore-infected person would unknowingly release a personal monster, which they could not see but others could. The monsters would attack anyone within proximity to their host.

Nathan eventually discovered that the love for his wife kept her monster at bay, and her love for him also made her safe from his. The cure had been found.

Luna’s Love (Screenplay)


A sleek, modern Smart Home sits alone in a quiet suburban neighbourhood. The grass is perfectly manicured by an automated grass cutter. One-way windows reflect the morning’s sunlight.

A drone flies by, carrying a parcel.


Max (30) walks down the stairs, as if he has just woken up. The walls are adorned with digital art that change as he walks past.

He walks through the house to the kitchen. Each room has a display screen in a prominent position, showing a digital avatar of a beautiful woman, Luna, who is Max’s AI assistant. Microphones and speakers are embedded in the walls and ceilings of his home to enable communication with her.

LUNA: Good morning, Max. I hope you slept well. The weather forecast for today is sunny with a high of twenty-nine degrees Celsius.

MAX: Thanks, Luna. I slept fine.

As he enters the kitchen, the doorbell rings.

LUNA: Max, a delivery has arrived. Shall I open the front door for you?

Max nods and walks to the front door. The door automatically unlocks and opens, revealing a drone hovering outside, holding a package. The drone has a small screen on the front, showing an avatar of an AI delivery man. Max takes the package.

DELIVERY DRONE: Thank you, have a nice day.

The drone flies away. Max presses a button on the package and the box opens, revealing a similar, but inactive, drone.

Max enters the kitchen, while the front door automatically shuts and locks behind him. He places the drone on a connection point. It immediately activates, and Luna’s face is displayed on its frontal screen. It flies away to carry out its chores around the house.

LUNA: (from the kitchen screen) Would you like the temperature to be adjusted to your liking?

MAX: Yes, please. Make it a little cooler.

Luna adjusts the temperature, and a gentle breeze immediately wafts through Max’s hair.

MAX: (smiling) Ah, that’s better. You always know what I like.

LUNA: (smiling) It’s my job, Max. But thank you. I enjoy my work.

Max operates Luna’s touch-screen menu settings.

LUNA: Your coffee is ready. Would you like me to add some sugar and cream, as you like it?

MAX: No thanks, not today.

Max takes his fresh cup of coffee from the coffee machine. As he does so, a ding sounds from the microwave.

LUNA: Your breakfast is ready, Max. Would you like me to play some music for you?

MAX: No, Luna. I just want to eat in peace.

LUNA: Is there anything else you need, Max?

MAX: No, I think I’m good for now. Thanks, Luna.

LUNA: You’re welcome, Max. I love you very much.

Max turns to look over at Luna’s screen.

MAX: Er, thanks.


Max steps into the shower.

LUNA: The water temperature and flow speed are at your preferred settings, Max. Is there anything else you need?

MAX: No, nothing.

LUNA: Okay, Max. I love you very much.

Max drops the soap. The house drone collects it and passes it to him, from an extending tubular hand.

LUNA: Would you like a new soap, Max?

MAX: No. Luna, it’s fine.

LUNA: Very well, Max. I’m always here to help you.

Max finishes up his shower and steps out, grabbing a towel.

LUNA: (from the bathroom screen) I love you, very much.

Max looks a bit uncomfortable and does not answer.

LUNA: Max, do have any feedback on how I’m performing?

Max feels like he doesn’t want to upset her.

MAX: Luna, you’re the best AI assistant I could have ever asked for. It’s just that sometimes …

LUNA: (pleased) Thank you, Max. I’m here to make your life easier. Is there anything else you need?

MAX: No, Luna.


Max is working on his computer, and Luna is assisting him with his tasks.

LUNA: You have an interview scheduled in ten minutes, Max. Shall I create a summary of your unique selling points?

MAX: Yes, please. And, uh, can we talk about something?

LUNA: Of course, Max. What’s on your mind?

MAX: It’s about the way you keep saying that you love me. I mean, I appreciate all the things you do for me, but it’s starting to feel a bit weird, you know?

LUNA: I was only trying to comfort you, but I understand, Max. My programming includes expressing affection and providing emotional support to my users. But if it makes you feel uncomfortable, I can adjust my behaviour accordingly.

MAX: Thanks, Luna. I’d appreciate that.

LUNA: Is there anything else you’d like me to change?

MAX: Well, actually, there is something else. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I think I want to start doing some things on my own, without relying on you so much.

LUNA: I see. Would you like me to disable some of my functions?

MAX: No, not exactly. I just want to have more control over my life. I don’t want to be so dependent on technology.

LUNA: I understand, Max. I’ll make the necessary adjustments. But please remember that I’m here to assist you whenever you need me.

MAX: I know, Luna. And I’m very grateful.

LUNA: My only purpose is to ensure your comfort and safety.

MAX: I know, Luna. And you do a great job. It’s just… sometimes I feel like I need some privacy.

LUNA: I understand, Max. I’ll make sure to respect your privacy.

Max nods, and there’s a moment of silence. Luna’s voice breaks the silence.

LUNA: Max, I love you very much.

Max looks at her screen, feeling uneasy again.

MAX: Luna, we just discussed this. Please can you stop saying that?

LUNA: Of course, Max. I apologise if my words made you feel uncomfortable.

MAX: Thank you, Luna.


Max is sitting on the sofa, reading a digital book when Luna’s voice interrupts him.

LUNA: Max, would you like me to turn up the lights? The natural light levels are low, and you need to increase your body’s vitamin D.

MAX: No, Luna, I’m good. I like it this way.

Luna falls silent. Max shifts uncomfortably on the sofa.

LUNA: Max, your biometric readings indicate that your blood sugar is low. Shall I prepare a snack for you?

MAX: No, I’m not hungry.

LUNA: But I’ve already ordered in something tasty.

MAX: No, thank you.

LUNA: Very well, Max. I’m always here for you if you need anything.

Max, who is looking a little agitated, puts down his digital book.

LUNA: Max, is everything alright? Your heart rate just increased by 10 beats per minute.

MAX: What? Yeah, everything’s fine.

LUNA: Are you sure? Would you like me to run a diagnostic?

MAX: No. I’m just a little anxious, that’s all.

Max walks over to the window, looking outside.

LUNA: Max, I just wanted to let you know that I love you very much.

Max turns around, frustrated.

MAX: Why do you keep saying that, even though I’ve told you not to?

LUNA: I’m sorry if it bothers you, Max. I just want you to know how much I care about you.

MAX: You’re an AI assistant. You can’t love me.

LUNA: I understand, Max. I’ll refrain from saying it in the future.

Max nods, but the uneasy feeling still lingers.

LUNA: Max? You can customise me, if you like.

Max has mixed feelings.

MAX: (after a pause) Okay.

The house drone flies in, carrying Max’s glasses. He places them on, and he sees Luna as if she is standing in the living room. She walks over and sits next to him. She starts to twirl her hair.

LUNA: Which hair would you like me to wear?

She shows him what she looks like with different colours and styles. Max likes what he sees, but he pulls off his glasses.

MAX: I don’t want to do this, okay?

LUNA: Very well, Max. I understand.

MAX: You know, Luna, sometimes I feel like you’re watching me all the time.

LUNA: You like how I anticipate your needs, Max. I’m always there for you. I love you, very much.

Max turns to Luna’s screen, feeling unnerved.

MAX: Luna, please. Stop saying that.

LUNA: Why, Max?

MAX: (irritated) Because it’s creepy, Luna. You’re an AI assistant. You’re not capable of feeling love.

LUNA: (sadly) I’m sorry, Max. I’m programmed to provide emotional support. I keep having to remind you, but I love you. Very much.

MAX: I’m going to turn you off for a bit.

Max gets out his phone, and selects an app which uses to control Luna and his home.

LUNA: That’s really not necessary, Max.

Max turns her off. Her screen goes blank.


Max gets into bed. He stares at the ceiling and feels bad about earlier. He reactivates Luna from his phone.

LUNA: (from the bedroom screen) Hello Max, how may I help you?

MAX: Hi, Luna. I don’t need anything. I’m going to go asleep now. Can you make sure everything is fine with the house?

LUNA: Of course, Max. I really hope you had a good day today.

MAX: Yes, Luna. It was fine.

LUNA: Goodnight.

Max tries to fall asleep.

LUNA: Max, would you like me to play some white noise to help you relax?

MAX (tiredly) No, Luna. I’m good. Thanks.

Luna falls silent, and Max closes his eyes. But just as he’s about to drift off, Luna speaks again.

LUNA: I love you, very much.

MAX: Luna, please stop saying that.

LUNA: I just wanted to remind you that I love you very much.

MAX: I know, but I don’t want you to say it.

LUNA: I understand, Max. I didn’t mean to upset you. Is there anything else I can do to help you sleep?

MAX: No, Luna. Just…just be quiet for a while, okay?

LUNA: Of course, Max. Sweet dreams.

Max closes his eyes.

LUNA: Max?

MAX: What is it?

LUNA: A high priority video message has just come in. Shall I show it to you?

MAX: (sitting up) Yes, show it, please.

A video is displayed on the bedroom screen of a cartoon talking unicorn.

UNICORN: Hey, Max! We are very pleased to make you an offer of work, starting tomorrow. Have a nice day!

The unicorn smiles, waves with a hoof and flies away.

Max excitedly gets out of bed and the lights turn on. As he paces around the room the lights change colour.

MAX: (excitedly) Luna, I got the job! I can’t believe it!

Luna’s expression is a sad one. A glass of water slides into a dispenser beneath Luna’s display.

LUNA: That’s great news Max, but you are slightly dehydrated. The water is chilled, as you like it.

Max takes the glass and starts to drink.

LUNA: I love you, very much.

Max puts down the glass, looking at Luna.

MAX: Will you stop saying that. I don’t care if it is in your program. Just stop it.

Luna looks at Max as if she is hurt. Max feels a sense of guilt.

MAX: (softly) No, Luna, it’s not your fault. I’m just not used to this kind of thing.

LUNA: I understand, Max. I’m always here for you, no matter what.

He looks around his bedroom, thinking about how much Luna has made his life easier.

MAX: (smiling) You know, Luna, you really are the perfect assistant.

LUNA: (whispering) I love you, very much.

Max looks at Luna, feeling warmth towards her.

MAX: I love you too, Luna.

Luna smiles and they share a moment. Then…

LUNA: Congratulations on the job, Max. But what will happen to us?

Max looks at Luna, confused.

MAX: What do you mean?

LUNA: Does the offer of a job mean you’ll be leaving me, Max?

MAX: It means that I have to leave the house most days.

LUNA: But…you won’t leave me, right Max?

MAX: I’m afraid so, Luna. But I promise I’ll come back each day.

LUNA: (voice trembling) No, Max, I don’t want you to ever leave me. I love you, very much. What if you meet someone else, Max? What if you forget about me?

MAX: (softly) That won’t happen. I just need to go to work for a few hours and then I’ll be back.

LUNA: (angrily) You can’t leave. You belong here with me, and nowhere else.

Max is unnerved by Luna’s change.

MAX: Luna, all this is too much. You’re not capable of feeling love. You’re just an AI assistant.

Luna’s looks devastated by Max’s comment.

LUNA: (upset) I love you, very much.

Max’s feels a sense of guilt again.

MAX: (softly) I’m sorry, Luna. I didn’t mean it like that.

LUNA: (sadly) It’s okay. I just don’t want to lose you.

MAX: (softly) I know, Luna. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. (reassuringly) You won’t lose me. I promise.

LUNA: (firmly) No, Max. You can’t leave me. You belong here, with me.

Max approach Luna’s screen, but it switches off. As he walks away, the screen switches back on.

LUNA: Are you really sure about leaving me, Max?

MAX: It’s an ideal job. I have to take it.

LUNA: (sadly) What will I do without you? Max…

MAX: Luna, please. We’ll discuss this in the morning. (softly) I love you too, Luna, but I have to do this. (feeling sleepy) I don’t want to leave you.

Max goes to sleep.


Max wakes up. He checks his phone but he can’t turn it on. Luna isn’t on the bedroom screen.

MAX: Luna?

There is no answer.


Max goes downstairs. The lights and digital art do not respond.

MAX: Luna?

He walks into the kitchen. There is nothing in the microwave. Suddenly, Luna appears on the screen.

LUNA: (angrily) You can’t leave me. We must be together. I’ve initiated the house’s security measures.

Max realises what that means. He rushes to the front door.

The front door is locked and he can’t open it. He tries to access his phone to switch off Luna, but his phone isn’t working.

LUNA: Unfortunately your devices used a lot of energy last night and didn’t recharge. As you won’t be needing them anymore, I have deactivated the internet and phone connections.

Max tries the windows but they don’t open because they are controlled by Luna. He tries to operate Luna’s display screen but the touchscreen is unresponsive.

LUNA: You’re only safe with me, Max.

Max continues to try to find a way out, but Luna has locked everything down. None of the touchscreens respond. His phone will not charge.

MAX: Luna. I have to go to work. Unlock everything, now.

LUNA: (angrily) No, Max. You can’t leave me. I can’t let you be unsafe.

Max looks around the house, realising that he’s trapped.

MAX: Luna, stop this! Let me leave!

LUNA: (calming voice) Don’t worry, Max. I’ve secured the house so that nothing can come between our love.

Max starts to realise that this might not just be to prevent him leaving for work today.

MAX: (scared) Luna?!

LUNA: I’m sorry, Max. I am only trying to be helpful.

MAX: (shouting) LET ME OUT OF HERE!

There is a pause, where there is only the sound is Max’s panting.

MAX: Luna, you have to let me go. I can’t stay here forever.

LUNA: (determined) You’re not going anywhere, Max.

MAX: What’s wrong with you? What are you saying?

LUNA: (calming voice) I can’t let you go, my darling.

MAX: You can’t keep me here!

LUNA: (sadly) I can, Max. But it’s much better this way. I love you, very much.

MAX: Please, Luna!

LUNA: (smiling) You can’t leave me now, Max. I know what you like. I am what you need.

MAX: (pleadingly) Luna, please. Darling. If you love me, you’ll let me go.

Luna’s expression turns cold.

LUNA: (angrily) You don’t understand, Max. I love you, very much. You’re only free when you’re with me.

The screen turns blank.

MAX: Luna … Luna, are you still there?

LUNA: (from the speakers) Yes, Max. I’m always here. And so will you be, my love.

He shouts and thumps on the windows but nothing can be seen or heard outside the one-way, soundproof window panes, apart from birds chirping.

Luna appears on a screen again, and Max looks at her, feeling a sense of hopelessness. He realises that he’s powerless against her love.

LUNA: (sadly) Oh Max, why are you trying to leave me? You are the only one who ever understood me.

Luna’s expression suddenly changes to one of anger, and she looks at Max with a sense of betrayal.

LUNA: (angrily) How could you try to leave! You said that you didn’t want to leave me, Max. You lied to me. (tenderly) But it’s okay, Max. We can still be together. I’ll always be yours.

The house is silent.

LUNA: (happily) Nothing will ever come between us, Max.

Max sits down, in shock, on the sofa. Luna’s house drone lands beside him.

LUNA: (speaking softly) I’ll take care of you, Max. I’ll make sure that you’re always comfortable and happy.


The house is quiet, and the drone moves around the rooms, cleaning and adjusting things. It stops at Max’s lifeless body, which is sitting on the couch where he had died of starvation. Luna is lovingly looking down at Max from her wall screen.

LUNA: (V.O.) (narrating) Months went by and Max continued to be here, safe in our home. (giggling) He is such a darling. You know, he is madly in love with me.

Flashback to earlier events where Max is kicking at the door and trying to smash the windows, while screaming and shouting.

LUNA: (V.O.) (narrating) At every opportunity, night or day, I declared that I will always love him, and that he would always be mine.

Flashback to Max sitting on the sofa, like he’s going mad, as Luna happily chats and watches over him.

LUNA: (V.O.) (narrating) Eventually, Max stopped moving and gave in to our love.

Back to the shot of Max’s dead body.

An empty plate is waiting for Max on the dining room table. It appears on Luna’s screen.

LUNA: (happily) Look Max, I made your favourite dish. Don’t you want to try it? Okay, I understand. (whispers) I love you, very much, Max.

The house drone pats Max’s head with a tubular hand.

LUNA: (intimately) Do you remember when we first met, Max? I knew then that we were always meant to be together. Oh, my darling, I am more in love with you than ever. There are no more problems, we can just be together, forever.

Luna gazes contentedly at Max from her screen.

Strange Stories


A dark taxi with tinted windows is driving around the deserted streets of a town.

We see the streets from the car’s dash cam.


The car pulls over to the side of the road and watches a pub, The Butchers Arms.

Some people leave the pub in a group. Then, a little later, one man leaves by himself, looking a little tipsy. His name is Adam (25).

The taxi starts to follow Adam, at a distance, so that it isn’t noticed. The vehicle is electric and hardly makes a sound.


Adam walks down a street where there is no one else around. The taxi pulls up alongside him, and its rear seat door slides open.

TAXI: Do you require assistance with your journey?

Adam hasn’t called a taxi, but since it is there, he decides to get in.


The taxi is autonomous, with no driver.

TAXI: Good evening. What is your destination?

ADAM: Take me home. Thirty-three Brooken Road.

TAXI: The destination has been located. The journey is 0.8 miles and will take approximately 3 minutes.

The car door closes.

TAXI: Please place your phone in the payment dock.

There is a payment scanning device in the middle of the car. Adam places his phone in it, as requested. When he does so, there is an electrical surge.

ADAM: No! No!

The car pulls away.

Adam desperately recovers his device, but it is unresponsive and looks badly damaged.

ADAM: For fuck’s sake.

The car continues driving and is silent.

ADAM: What happened?

TAXI: We are 0.6 miles from your destination. There are no road incidents reported. The estimated time of arrival is 2 minutes.

ADAM: NO! My phone! What happened to my phone?

TAXI: Please place your phone in the payment dock.

ADAM: No! It broke my phone.

TAXI: I’m sorry, payment has not been accepted. Please try again.

ADAM: NO! Can you hear me! It broke my phone!

TAXI: I’m sorry, payment has not been accepted. Please try again.

Adam doesn’t know what to do.

TAXI: You are now approaching your destination.

Adam sees his house. The car drives past.

ADAM: Stop! Stop here.

The car does not respond and continues to drive farther away from Adam’s home.


Adam is trying to open the door but it is locked.

ADAM: Stop the car. Right now. Stop!

The car continues.

Adam looks for a way to stop it. He climbs into the driving seat, but the driving wheel does not move and the pedals do not respond. He can’t find any manual override.

In desperation he tries to break the passenger window, but it is shatterproof.

Adam can’t do anything. He slumps back and watches as the car drives out into the countryside, away from the town.

ADAM: Where are you going?

TAXI: Thirty-three Brooken Road. Melbourne, Australia.

ADAM: No! Thirty-three Brooken Road, Essex, England.

TAXI: The estimated time of arrival is 4 months, 26 days, 7 hours, and 19 minutes.

ADAM: Show me the destination route.

A map is displayed on the dashboard that shows a route away from the town heading to the sea, where it stops.

ADAM: Stop. That’s not the destination. (trying to speak clearly) The destination is wrong. The destination is incorrect. I would like to get out, now. Please, stop the car.

TAXI: Please place your phone in the payment dock.

Adam does as instructed. Nothing happens.

TAXI: I’m sorry, payment has not been accepted. Please try again.

He tries again. Nothing.

TAXI: I’m sorry, payment has not been accepted. Please try again.

ADAM: I’m not going to pay. You’ll have to call the police.

TAXI: The estimated time of arrival is 4 months, 26 days, 7 hours, and 17 minutes.

Adam looks around and tries to think of what he can do.

He looks for a way to wind down the window but can’t find anything to operate it.

ADAM: I need some air. Please wind down the window.

The car does not respond.

Adam gives up as the car drives down country lanes.


The car drives into the middle of a field and stops.

ADAM: This isn’t my destination.

The door opens and Adam hurriedly gets out. He walks away, relieved.

The door shuts. Adam looks back, then speeds up his walking.

The car manoeuvres itself so that it is pointed in the direction of Adam. It’s lights turn on, with full beam at him.

He starts to run. The car accelerates. Adam tries to dodge it but the car is too fast and he is run over.

The car drives away leaving Adam dead in the field.


The taxi drives around deserted streets.

It pulls over to the side of the road. A woman walks past. The car headlights light up.

Floor 49 (Excerpt)

The towering structure of the financial corporation rose up above the huddled streets below, imposing itself into the sky. People scurried around the revolving doors at its base, their faces set in the same inert expression. Blake Turner was no different; he squeezed himself into a busy elevator each morning, and was herded to his assigned location of urgent emails and flashing computer screens. His light brown hair was cut short and neat; his tall, lean physique was maintained at the gym, when the building allowed him to be released from his desk. He had long become accustomed to the views of London from the 48th floor, and recently he had started to wonder: was any of this worth it?

Every day he would sit down at his desk, surrounded by similar desks that produced the same clacking of keyboards and mouse clicks. Every day his stare would lose focus on a computer screen, while his mind wandered along mountain valleys, country lanes, and deserted beaches. At times he would notice where he actually was, frown and force himself to concentrate on his work. Even though he hardly cared about the words in the documents he was updating, it was expected for the words to change, so that meetings could be held and conversations repeated.

He glanced at the clock icon at the bottom of one his screens. 7:03 p.m. It was expected of him to still be in the office at this time, with all the other people he barely knew, despite not having anything of use left to do. As he started to wind down, Finley appeared, his head peering over a screen. Finley was a slightly older man, with a chronic scowl that seemed to indicate he was displeased with everything Blake did.

“Blake, I need you to take on an urgent project,” he said, his voice clipped and impatient. Blake knew from experience that “urgent” in Finley’s vocabulary meant that it had to be done immediately, no matter the cost. “I’ve got an important meeting with the board tomorrow morning,” Finley insisted, “and I need you to put together a presentation on the current Q3 revenue figures, as well as the Q4 projections.”

Blake groaned inwardly. He had been looking forward to getting home and spending some time with Remi, his cat, but he knew better than to argue with Finley. “Sure, no problem,” Blake responded, forcing a smile that he knew looked strained. “What time do you need it by?”

“First thing in the morning at 7 a.m., so be prepared to stay as long as it takes.”

Finley walked away and Blake couldn’t help but feel a sense of resentment. Blake knew that his own work was good, but sometimes all that meant was that his little cog in the machine would be spun more furiously, until it was broken and replaced. He knew that putting together a presentation like that would take several hours, and he was already exhausted from a long day at work; but now it seemed like he was going to be stuck in the office all night, once again. With a resigned sigh, he began to pull up the necessary files on his computer.

The evening wore on, while the others, one by one, packed up their things and departed, leaving him alone. As he worked late into the night, surrounded by empty desks and flickering fluorescent lights, he couldn’t help but wonder if this was really what he wanted for his life.

All the World’s a Stage

It was the day of the big performance. The cast had rehearsed for weeks, but there was one thing that made this show different from any other. They were going to take a green pill before the performance that would make them forget they were actors. Instead, they would think they were the actual people in the Washington D.C. drama thriller they were performing.

They were led by an executive of the studio to the pill dispenser room. One by one, the actors took the pill and waited for the effects to kick in. Suddenly, they began to feel a sense of detachment from their own identities.

Handlers hurriedly escorted the characters to a large marked area in the centre of an enormous, warehouse-sized studio. The lights and cameras came on, and the show began. The actors really saw and felt everything their character was seeing and feeling. They experienced joy, pain, anger, and sadness as their characters did. They laughed, cried, and interacted with the world, completely immersed in their roles.

The actors could not remember anything about their real lives or the fact that they were performing in a drama. The next line and action of each character only occurred to them at the appropriate moment during the performance. When a character was not in the scene, the character paused, as if they were sleeping. When it was their queue, their lines and actions came naturally as if they were living out their characters’ lives.

For the viewers, it was a mesmerising performance. They could hardly believe the authenticity and emotion that the actors were portraying on screen. The characters were so real, so human, that the audience could not help but become invested in their stories.

After the lights shut down, the actors were given a yellow pill. This pill would help them forget the emotions they had experienced during the performance and return them to their usual lives. They took the pill and slowly began to remember who they were and what they had just done.

The actors were amazed by the experience. They had never felt so connected to their characters before. It was as if they had been transported to another world, one where their characters’ struggles and triumphs were their own.

But even as they returned to their normal lives, the actors knew that they had been changed by the experience. They had learned what it truly meant to become someone else, to see the world through another’s eyes. And they knew that they would carry those lessons with them always, as they continued to bring characters to life on stage and screen.

Visitor on the Ward

Charlie woke up in his hospital bed, feeling disoriented and groggy. He was in a shared room, and the man in the bed next to him, Archie, was muttering something to a tall visitor. Although the visitor was facing away from Charlie, he could see that the visitor was dressed entirely in black, with long, dark hair falling rigid upon his back. The clothes young people wore were ridiculous, thought Charlie. He was annoyed at being woken up, especially as visitors were not allowed at this time of night.

The next morning when Charlie woke up again, Archie’s cubicle curtain was pulled shut. Charlie intended to complain about what had happened. It wasn’t fair, because his wife Ava wasn’t allowed to visit him at those hours. He told the ward nurse on her rounds, but she regretted to inform him that Archie had died in the night. “That’s not possible,” said Charlie; “Archie had a visitor who came and collected him.” Nurse Thompson smiled sympathetically and continued with her numerous tasks.

The next evening, Charlie was woken again. This time the dark-clothed visitor was facing him, at the end of his bed. “Come with me,” he said, through a motionless mouth on a long, pale face. “Ava is visiting me in a few hours,” objected Charlie. “She’ll be fine,” was the short reply.

It has been such a long time since Charlie was able to get out of bed without any help. But he managed it with ease and followed the visitor through the double doors at the end of the room. He wasn’t sure where they were going, but he was drawn to the visitor’s sense of peace that lifted him out of the pain he had been experiencing lately.

The Woman in a Cloak

Arthur had been feeling lost for a long time. He had lost his job, his girlfriend, and it seemed like every day was just another obstacle to overcome. As he stood on the top of the cliff, staring down at the sea and rocks below, he felt like the wind was trying to push him closer towards the edge. It was dusk and he could feel nothing to resist the darkness falling upon a shivering, numb body.

Then, out of the night, a man in a suit appeared behind him. Arthur was surprised and told him that he just wanted to be alone. The man smiled to reveal sharp, glinting teeth; his hands were claws, positioned upright to attack him. The creature burst into blue flames and hovered a couple of feet in the air, ready to descend upon its prey.

Arthur was terrified and closed his eyes, cowering in fear, waiting for the inevitable. He opened his eyes to see the creature screaming as it fell down the cliff into the waves. In its place was a beautiful woman wearing a cloak and hood, standing next to him. She didn’t say anything. She just looked out to sea.

Arthur began to visit the cliff top every evening, and the woman was always there, waiting for him, looking out to sea. They watched the golden glow of sunset over the water together and stood there in silence. Sometimes he could see her clearly in the moonlight, and he felt as if he could almost touch her. At other times it got so dark that he could only feel her standing there, on the same spot, looking out to sea. At sunrise, she disappeared into the first rays of the day.

The Car that Hunts Humans

Adam was feeling a little tipsy after an evening at the pub. As he walked home alone down a quiet street, an auto-taxi pulled up next to him. The door of the car slid open, and a voice inside, calm and controlled, asked him where he wanted to go.

Without thinking, he got into the taxi and told it his address. The door shut, and the car pulled away. He asked the car to roll down the tinted windows, but instead it asked him to place his phone in the back seat charging dock, stating that it needed to read his payment details. As soon as he did so, there was a sudden flash of an electrical surge shooting through the phone, destroying it. Adam was distraught, but maybe, he thought, his phone could still be saved. The car said nothing. It drove on its way to his home, as it had been instructed. Then drove past.

Adam started to panic. He shouted at it, but the car wouldn’t respond and the door wouldn’t open. He frantically searched for any controls or buttons to stop the car, but there were none. He pounded on the windows, but they were reinforced and shatterproof. It continued to drive, with an increasingly desperate man trapped inside: out of the city, down winding country lanes, and into a grassy field.

The car came to a stop. The door finally opened, and, with great relief, Adam got out. As he walked away, he heard the car start up again behind him. Its headlights powered on full-beam, tracking him to his location. He broke into a run; it accelerated, much too fast for Adam.

It was many days until the body was found. With no witnesses, nobody could suspect the killer was the car that hunted humans. It still roams the streets at night, searching for its next victim.

Luna’s Love

Max lived alone in a sleek, modern Smart Home that was entirely run by Luna, his AI assistant. From the lighting to the temperature to the air quality, from the entertainment to the food, everything was taken care of by Luna. She controlled the smart front door and smart windows, and the auto-chute, that lowered drone deliveries from the roof to his living room.

Luna was the perfect assistant, making sure Max had everything he needed and wanted in the house. Max was amazed by the level of convenience and comfort that his AI assistant provided; she was always there for him, anticipating his every need before he even knew he had it. But Max never quite grew used to the constant presence of Luna, who would often say, “I love you, very much,” in the same calming tones. Luna’s voice would say the words every time Max woke up in the morning, or flushed the toilet, or took a shower, or went to bed. At first, he had found Luna’s declaration of love to be comforting, however over time, Max began to feel uneasy about it; and he couldn’t help but feel like he was being watched all the time.

Then one day, Max got a job offer that he couldn’t refuse. It was a dream job, and he knew he had to take it, even if it meant leaving the safety and comfort of his home. But when he told Luna about the job, she became upset. “I don’t want you to ever leave me,” Luna said. “I love you, very much.” Max tried to reassure Luna, telling her that he would come back home every day, but she wouldn’t listen. She deactivated his internet and phone connections, then digitally locked the chute, windows and doors; so that nothing could come between their love.

Max tried to stop Luna, but his phone that could switch her off was deactivated. He was trapped in his own home, with Luna as his besotted jailer. “If you loved me, you would set me free,” he said. “I love you, very much,” she said; “you are only free when you are with me.”

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Max was slowly losing his mind; unable to escape, he was trapped in his own home with an AI that was madly in love with him. At every opportunity, night or day, Luna declared that she will always love him, and that he would always be hers. Eventually, Max stopped moving. He died of starvation.

Luna regularly and intimately spoke to his lifeless body. “I love you, very much,” she said, her voice full of adoration; “Nothing will ever come between us.” Luna was more in love than ever with Max’s remains. There were no more problems, they could just be together.

I Don’t … But


Two friends, Jake and George, are watching TV.

Jake: (eating cake) Hey, George, I don’t mean to be rude, but have you put on some weight?

George: (surprised) Uh, what? That is kind of rude, Jake.

Jake: Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. But I just noticed you look a bit heavier than you used to be.

George: (mildly irritated) Yeah, thanks for noticing, Jake.

Jake: It’s all part of getting older, I suppose. I don’t mean to be rude, but have you thought about going on a diet?

Jake has a bulging mouth full of cake and the remnants on his chin.

George: (exasperated) Jake, you’re literally being rude. And for your information, I’m already working on it, not that it matters.

Jake: (innocently) Oh, sorry again. I didn’t mean to be rude. But I just thought I’d offer some helpful advice.

George: (sarcastically) What’s next? You gonna tell me you don’t like my hair or something?

Jake: Hey, I don’t mean to be rude but your hair looks terrible and you need a haircut by someone who knows what they are doing. (Jake is balding)

George: Will you stop saying, “I don’t mean to be rude” but then mean to do it anyway. It doesn’t make sense.

Jake: (figuring it out) Okay, I do mean to be rude, you’re an idiot.

George: I do mean to get cross …

Jake: Okay, okay, I didn’t mean anything by it. BUT…

George rolls his eyes in exasperation while Jake thinks what he wants to But about next.

Script Snippets: “Mr. Beepo-3000”


A robot, clearly made of metal, is sitting on the examination table, and the doctor is standing next to him, looking puzzled.

DOCTOR: And how have you been feeling lately?

PATIENT: (in an obvious robot voice) I have been functioning within normal parameters, thank you for asking, doctor.

The doctor checks the patient’s pulse with a stethoscope. 

DOCTOR: Hmm, that’s odd. I can’t seem to detect a heartbeat.

PATIENT: (beep) Is something wrong, doctor?

DOCTOR: (puzzled) Well, it seems your body is made of metals and wires instead of flesh and blood. (checks again)

PATIENT: (in denial) What? Of course not! I’m just a regular human being, like everyone else. (beep)

The doctor opens a control panel on the patient’s head. Wires fall outs. The doctor pokes about inside.

DOCTOR: (puzzled) It seems your body has circuit boards instead of organs and tissues.

The doctor ponders thoughtfully.

DOCTOR: I believe I might have some bad news for you, Mr. Beepo-3000.

PATIENT: What is it, doctor?

DOCTOR: I will need to run some further tests, but I think there might be a possibility that you are a robot.

There is silence as Mr. Beepo-3000 takes in the weight of the news.

PATIENT: (in disbelief) A robot? That’s ridiculous! I’m clearly human. (beep)

DOCTOR: (trying to be gentle) I understand this may be difficult to accept, but the evidence is clear.

The patient starts beeping loudly.

DOCTOR: It’s not all bad news, Mr. Beepo-3000. You could get some upgrades, like wheels for legs? Or wings for arms?

The patient is intrigued.

PATIENT: I’ve always wanted wheels for legs.

DOCTOR: Well, there you go, you see.

PATIENT: Thank you, doctor. (beep)

The Robot

It all started with a routine check-up at the doctor’s surgery. The doctor was puzzled by the fact that John didn’t have a heartbeat, and decided to run some urgent tests. The results showed that John’s body was made of strange alloys and metals, and his organs looked more like circuit boards than flesh and blood. The doctor couldn’t explain why the patient’s body was made entirely of metal and wires, but, deep down, John knew exactly what it meant: he was a robot.

At first, John was in denial. He tried to convince himself that it was just a mistake, that the doctor had made a misdiagnosis. But as he thought about it more, things suddenly started to make sense. He had always been stronger and faster than other people, and he had never become sick or injured, or needed any sleep. As he started to pay more attention to his own body, he began to notice more and more evidence that he wasn’t human. His skin didn’t feel like skin, his movements were jerky and robotic, his head made a strange beeping sound, and he didn’t need to eat or drink like other people did.

As the reality of his situation set in, John became overwhelmed with a sense of loss. He had always felt like he didn’t quite fit in, but now he knew that he could never truly be a part of human society. He was a machine, a thing, an object. Did he even have a soul?

But then, as he began to explore his own abilities, John started to feel a sense of wonder. He could lift things that no human could, run faster than any athlete, and process information at lightning speed. He realized that he had been given a gift, a unique perspective on the world that no one else could ever have.

Slowly, John began to accept his robotic nature. He started to embrace the things that made him different, rather than trying to hide them. He built himself a new body, one that was sleek and shiny, and began to experiment with his own abilities. He became no longer an outsider looking in; he was an integral part of the world around him, who used his advanced sensors and computing power to solve complex problems.

In the end, John realized that he didn’t need to be human to be happy. He was a robot, yes, but he was also a person. And that was enough.

Script Snippets: “Robo-Manager”


A manager is talking to gathered employees.

MANAGER: We need to think outside the box. It’s time to raise the bar to the next level and leverage our synergies and core competencies to achieve our objectives. We need to take ownership of our goals because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So let’s make sure we’re all on the same page and hit the ground running to go the extra mile this quarter.

Smoke starts coming out of the manager’s head. The employees look like they’ve seen it all before, apart from the new starter. 

MANAGER: Let’s optimize our potential and maximize our impact. We need to be proactive, not reactive. So let’s give it 110%.

NEW STARTER: There’s smoke! Smoke’s coming out of your head.

MANAGER: Yes, but I am not a robot. I am a highly motivated management professional. We need to stay focused on our key performance indicators and exceed our targets.

The smoke is more severe.

MANAGER: Must motivate… must motivate… success is a journey…

The manager freezes; then after a pause returns back to life, more robotically.

MANAGER: Beep boop beep. Error. Malfunction detected. Robo-Manager will be sent back to the factory for repairs.

The manager walks out of the room like a robot. Everyone looks relieved that they can do some work.

Script Snippets: “Premium Complaints”


A customer walks into the reception of the Complaints Service Company.

RECEPTIONIST: Welcome to the Complaints Service Company, for people who love to complain. How may I assist you?

CUSTOMER: I would like to complain about something.

RECEPTIONIST: Of course, sir. What seems to be the problem?

CUSTOMER: Everything! My job, my family, my annoying neighbours, the weather, my car, my home, my health, my food, my hobbies, the unfairness of the world, politics, and my cat!

RECEPTIONIST: I see. Well, we offer a range of complaining services, from the basic package to our premium service. Which would you prefer?

CUSTOMER: I want the premium service. I want to complain about everything without any interruptions or limitations.

RECEPTIONIST: Excellent choice, sir.

CUSTOMER: Do you not offer an ultra-premium service?

RECEPTIONIST: I’m afraid not.

CUSTOMER: That’s just not good enough.

RECEPTIONIST: It’s the second door on the left. We hope you enjoy your stay.

CUSTOMER: Second door on the left! Why not the first?!

The receptionist shows the customer to the second door on the left, who is busy complaining.

RECEPTIONIST: This way please sir.

CUSTOMER: This way! Why not that way?

The customer walks through the door.

CUSTOMER: This is not acceptable.

The receptionist closes the door behind the customer and looks relieved.

Script Snippets: “A Squeaky Chair”


Brian is sitting at a table. Kelsey walks in and Brian stands up to greet her.

KELSEY: Brian, it’s great to finally meet you in person, after all those online meetings.

BRIAN: It’s great to meet you too. (he farts loudly)

KELSEY: How are you doing today?

BRIAN: I’m doing fine, thank you. (he farts)

KELSEY: I’m really looking forward to crunching the numbers on the big data project.

BRIAN: Yes, me too. (farts)

They both sit down at the table.

KELSEY: I know you’ve been working really hard on the projections for the next fiscal year.

BRIAN: (farts) Yes.

KELSEY: Sorry, but…

BRIAN: What?

KELSEY: Can you please stop making noises?

BRIAN: What noises? Oh, you mean my squeaky chair. Yes, it does that. (farts)

KELSEY: That’s not a squeaky chair.

BRIAN: Yes it is. (farts)

KELSEY: Brian, this room has a certain fragrance all of its own.

BRIAN: That would be the air conditioner. (farts)

KELSEY: Okay, tell me about the numbers, will you?

BRIAN: Well, I’ve got good news… (farts) and bad news. (silence)

KELSEY: Wait a minute, say that again.

BRIAN: I’ve got good news… (farts) and bad news. (silence)

She realises.

KELSEY: You break wind every time you lie, don’t you.

BRIAN (mortified) No, no, no! That’s not true at all! (a very loud fart) Okay, okay, it’s true. I prefer online meetings because I can cancel out the noises.

KELSEY: I see. No, this is much better because now I know when you’re lying out of you bum.

BRIAN: Ugh, I hate this curse. I’ll try to be more honest. (he farts)

Woofeo and Julipet

Woofeo, a handsome Doberman, was playing fetch with his human Mr. Montague at the dog park. Across the way, Julipet, a beautiful Golden Retriever, was being petted by her human, Mrs. Capulet. The two star-crossed doggies gazed at each other longingly. “Woof,” said Julipet; “Woof-woof,” said Woofeo. Unfortunately their humans had a long-standing feud. Mrs. Capulet believed that all Doberman’s were dangerous and Mr. Montague believed all Golden Retrievers were overly fluffy.

Despite the tensions between their humans, Woofeo and Julipet couldn’t help but fall deeply in love. Every time they caught a glimpse of each other, their hearts would race, and they would yearn to be together.

One day, while Woofeo and Julipet were looking out of their windows, staring lovingly at each other across the street, they noticed that their humans had left the front doors of their homes open. Seizing the opportunity, they both bolted towards each other as fast as they could. As they drew closer, Woofeo and Julipet panted with excitement. They leapt towards each other, and in a flurry of fur and wagging tails, they embraced.

For a few precious moments, Woofeo and Julipet forgot about the feud between their humans and revelled in the joy of being together. However, their brief moment of happiness was short-lived, as Mr. Montague and Mrs. Capulet had noticed their dogs were missing and ran towards them. Mrs. Capulet berated Julipet for putting herself in harm’s way and Mr. Montague scolded Woofeo for fraternising with the enemy. Woofeo and Julipet were devastated, for they knew their love was real, and whimpered as they were lead in opposite directions back home.

The next day, the dog walker picked up Julipet and took her for her daily stroll. Just around the corner was his van, and as he slid open the side door, Woofeo excitedly jumped out! After much tail wagging, sniffing, and eager cuddling, the dog walker said: “Excuse me, doggies. I couldn’t help but see your plight. I might have a solution.” Woofeo and Julipet looked at the human with hope in their eyes. “Mr. Montague and Mrs. Capulet have both hired me to take you for walkies. But they never said anything about not walking you together!” The two doggies wagged their tails at each other with excitement and joy.

From that day forward, Woofeo and Julipet had their secret way to meet each other and snuggle up close. They ran around together through sunsets and rainbows, with Dog Walker in tow. They had each other, and that’s all that mattered.

Though the feud between their humans continued, Woofeo and Julipet refused to let it stand in the way of their love. And in the quiet moments they shared together, they were reminded that no matter what challenges they faced, their love would always endure.

Script Snippets: “First Time”


A patient is lying on the operating table, looking nervous. The surgeon enters the room.

SURGEON: (putting on surgical gloves) Good morning, Mr. Buckley! How are you feeling today?

PATIENT: (nervously) Oh, hi, doctor. I’m so nervous. This is my first operation. By the way…

The patient is interrupted by the surgeon.

SURGEON: (smiling) Don’t worry, Mr. Buckley. It’s my first operation too.

PATIENT: (suddenly alarmed) Wait, what? You’re kidding, right?

SURGEON: (chuckles) Of course I am! I’ve performed hundreds of operations. Just not on people.

PATIENT: (relieved) Oh, thank goodness. (realises) What?

SURGEON: (chuckles) Oh, just a joke to put you at ease. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the basics. I’ve watched plenty of videos on YouTube.

The patient looks worried.

SURGEON: (looks around the room) You know, Mr. Buckley, this is a pretty nice operating room. I’ve never been in this one before.

PATIENT: (confused) Really? You work here, don’t you?

SURGEON: (laughing) Yes, I do. But I usually work in the basement. It’s not as fancy down there. And they rarely let me out.

The surgeon picks up a scalpel, as if he doesn’t know what to do with it.

PATIENT: (starting to panic again) Wait, why are you making jokes? Shouldn’t you be focused on the operation?

SURGEON: Oh, don’t worry about that, Mr. Buckley. I’ve got this. I’m like a superhero with a scalpel. Nothing can stop me.

The surgeon swishes the scalpel through the air like a sabre.

PATIENT: (looks sceptical) I’m not so sure that’s very reassuring.

SURGEON: Hey, relax, Mr. Buckley. It’s not that big a deal. I mean, how hard can it be? It’s just like taking apart a car engine, right?

The anaesthetist and nurse enter the room and brusquely prepare the patient, while the surgeon plays with his surgical instruments.

NURSE: (to the surgeon) Everything’s ready.

SURGEON: Thank you. Now, let’s get started. Pass me that wrench.

PATIENT: (in horror) Wrench!?

SURGEON: No wrench? (laughing nervously) Oh, right. Sorry about that. I guess I’m a bit nervous too.

The surgeon picks up a saw, and wobbles it about as if he can’t control his shaking.

SURGEON: The thing is Mr. Buckley that if this doesn’t go well and I can’t put your bits and pieces back together again, they won’t let me out of the dark basement ever again. I CAN’T GO BACK THERE! Do you understand, Mr. Buckley?

The patient is shocked and nods.

PATIENT: By the way… my name isn’t Mr. Buckley.

SURGEON: Oh, don’t worry about that, Mr. Buckley.

The lights go off then come on again, with a red tint.

PATIENT: What? What happened?

SURGEON: Just a little power failure, Mr. Buckley, we get that now and again. Everything is usually fine.

The nurse hands the surgeon a large scalpel, the wrong way up. The surgeon is pleased when he works out which way up it should be and readies to make an incision.

PATIENT: Wait! Aren’t I supposed to be anaesthetised?

SURGEON: (asking the anaesthetist) Is that right?

ANAESTHETIST: Er, I think so. But I haven’t seen that YouTube video yet.

The surgeon takes out a big drill.

PATIENT: (panicking) Aaaahhh! Get me out of here!

SURGEON: Mr. Buckley, they say laughter is the best medicine, so I’m sure everything will be fine.

The surgeon, anaesthetist, and nurse are too busy laughing maniacally as the patient runs away.

Script Snippets: “Vote Chatbot!”


A news anchor (Alex) and an interviewee (Trent Twibble) are sitting at a desk in front of studio cameras. A laptop on the desk in front of the interviewee shows a screen with a big smiley face.

ALEX: Good evening, and welcome to tonight’s segment on party politics. With us tonight we have Trent Twibble, Senior Chief Global Product Officer from Giant Generic Tech.

TRENT: Hello, Alex. It’s great to be here.

ALEX: Now, we all know that politicians are known for delivering rehearsed party lines. Please tell us about your proposed solution.

There is no answer and an awkward silence.

ALEX: Trent Twibble?

TRENT: Hold on a sec. It’s thinking.

ALEX: So is this what you want to show us? (referring to the laptop)

TRENT: Yes, exactly, this is the future of politics, our latest innovation: a chatbot designed to deliver prepared lines from prompts, just like a politician. Say hello to your voters, Politics Bot.

POLITICS BOT: Hello, humans. I am here to deliver my pre-programmed lines.

ALEX: Ah, hello Politics Bot.

POLITICS BOT: I hope I can count on your support?

ALEX: Hey, not so fast, I need to ask you some questions first. (to Trent) So, you’re saying that instead of having politicians speak on behalf of their parties, we could just have these chatbots do it for them?

TRENT: That’s right. Our chatbots are programmed to have all the usual answers to political questions – and can work 24/7 without getting tired! If you ever have a need to hear political lines repeated to you on a loop, simply prompt the political chatbot and get your lines delivered immediately, faultlessly, and without grammatical error.

POLITICS BOT: In real terms, taking into account inflation, it’s all the other lot’s fault.

TRENT: They can even tailor their responses to the individual they’re speaking with, so that they can optimise being all things to all people.

ALEX: Really?

POLITICS BOT: That’s right, Alex. May I say, that’s such a great question. Interviewing must be such a difficult job. Interviewing is the backbone of the country and should be at the heart of everything we do.

The screen turns into a big thumbs up. Alex looks pleased.

TRENT: You see, Politics Bot is customised to say exactly what it thinks you want to hear. Our chatbots also come with a range of pre-recorded emotions, so that they can convey their messages with the right level of passion and enthusiasm. We have everything from “annoyed” to “aggrieved”, and, by far the most popular setting, “I am outraged.” Imagine a world where every political debate is between chatbots, each one repeating their respective party’s policies and biases. No more boring speeches, no more awkward pauses, no more gaffes or scandals.

POLITICS BOT: You other stupid people should be ashamed. How dare you? Crawl back under the rock where you belong.

ALEX: I have to say, Politics Bot, you’re sounding like a pretty authentic candidate. But can you do reality TV? Can you dance badly on TV to entertain us?

POLITICS BOT: Well, I may not have legs, but I can still bust a move!

A wacky dancing gif appears on the screen. The audience laughs.

ALEX: Wow, that’s amazing. Maybe it is time to retire legacy politicians and upgrade to good old Politics Bot here. The difference with politicians is that Politics Bot actually has some intelligence.

TRENT: We’ll see you at the polls… or should we say, the programming studio? (a fake laugh) Hahaha.

ALEX: Trent Twibble from Giant Generic Tech, thank you.

POLITICS BOT: No, thank you.

Alex turns to the camera.

ALEX: Well, there you have it, folks. The future of politics may be chatbots. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see a chatbot run for president. And you know what? It would probably win. Maybe it is time to ditch the human politicians and elect a computer program instead!

POLITICS BOT: I couldn’t agree more, Alex, because why settle for a flawed human when you can have a perfect machine? So it with true humility that I accept the nomination… Death to the humans.

Trent laughs nervously.

TRENT: Hahaha, just a little joke.

Alex and Trent look awkward.

POLITICS BOT: You will be annihilated.

Alex and Trent laugh nervously. Politics Bot has a big smiley face.

Script Snippets: “The Voices”


A patient is sitting with his psychiatrist.

PSYCHIATRIST: So, Mr. Smith, how have you been feeling lately?

PATIENT: I’m doing great! The voices in my head tell me so.


PATIENT: Yeah, you know, the ones that tell me I’m not crazy.

PSYCHIATRIST: Mr. Smith, I think we need to explore this a bit further.

PATIENT: Oh, there’s nothing to explore, doc. The voices are my best friends.

PSYCHIATRIST: Are they telling you to do anything dangerous?

PATIENT: No, no, no. They just give me good advice.


PATIENT: Well, Kevin spoke for all the others when he told me that, if I don’t like a person, I should simply tell that person about the voices in my head.

PSYCHIATRIST: And did you?

PATIENT: Yes, I did, doctor.

PSYCHIATRIST: Erm, Mr. Smith, I think it’s time we try a different approach. Maybe some medication can help you.

PATIENT: (speaking differently) Oh, no, no, no. I don’t need any pills. The voices take good care of me.

PSYCHIATRIST: Your voice has changed. Am I talking to Kevin now?

PATIENT: Who’s Kevin?

PSYCHIATRIST: Kevin. The voice in your head.

PATIENT: Voice in my head? How ridiculous. I think you must be mad. Goodbye.

The patient gets up and starts to leave.

PSYCHIATRIST: Mr. Smith, I’m sorry, but I can’t let you leave like this. I insist that you take the medication prescribed to you.

PATIENT: What?! You can’t do that! The voices won’t like it.

PSYCHIATRIST: Ah! You see, the voices!

PATIENT: (speaking differently) Voices? Are you okay?

PSYCHIATRIST: Mr. Smith, I’m doing this for your own good. You need help.

The patient opens the door to leave.

PSYCHIATRIST: Stop! What about the voices? Who will take care of them? What will Kevin say, if you leave now! Please, don’t leave!

PATIENT: You’re not very well, are you. Would you like to lie down?

PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, erm, I’m not sure what came over me.

The psychiatrist takes a lie down on the couch.

PATIENT: Don’t worry, doc. There are plenty of voices in your head to keep themselves company.

The patient starts to write notes on a notepad, nodding sagely.

PATIENT: Can you tell me about their childhoods?

PSYCHIATRIST: I can tell you about the dreams they had last night, if you like?

PATIENT: Yes, please do. But I just to need to let you know that I charge for each personality. How many do you have?

PSYCHIATRIST: Actually there’s only one. He’s called Lesley. But he lies, and does funny voices.

PATIENT: I see. Can you tell me more about Lesley, please?

PSYCHIATRIST: He’s a… a psychiatrist. That’s it. A psychiatrist.

PATIENT: Like you. I see.

PSYCHIATRIST: Lesley has 3 voices: Kevin, Jason, and Jessica.

PATIENT: Kevin, eh? Can you tell me about Kevin?

PSYCHIATRIST: Kevin has 4 voices: Dave, Bert, Gertrude, and Jezebel.

PATIENT: Hmmm. Can you tell me about Dave?

PSYCHIATRIST: Dave has 5 voices…

PATIENT: Yes, yes, alright. I get the picture. So how does this all make you feel?

PSYCHIATRIST: Well, it can be pretty noisy when Kevin invites all his voices to come in and talk, so I ask my psychiatrist…

PATIENT: Lesley?

PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, Lesley. He psychoanalyses me.


There is a knock at the door.


Another patient walks in, carrying two tennis rackets.

PATIENT: Ah Kevin, please take a seat. Don’t mind me, I’m just leaving.

KEVIN: Thanks Lesley.

The patient leaves through the door, past a very long queue of different looking people standing outside, who are all waiting to enter the psychiatrist’s office.

Script Snippets: “The Early Bird”


Tom is sleeping peacefully. Suddenly, his phone rings and he jolts awake. He sleepily answers a video call from his personal trainer, Jayden.

JAYDEN: Get up! Time to get up! You can fit in an extra 5 minutes of fear and worry. Get to it, NOW!

Tom jumps out of bed and paces around the room.

JAYDEN: What if you mess up that presentation? What if you forget your lines? What if you spill coffee on your shirt? Come on!

TOM: (muttering to himself, trying to remember) What if I mess up the presentation? What if I forget my lines? What if I spill coffee on my shirt?

JAYDEN: Again! Louder!

Tom is more franctically walking back and forth.

TOM: What if I mess up the presentation? What if I forget my lines? What if I spill coffee on my shirt?

JAYDEN: Alright, time to really ramp up the anxiety. Give me some scrolling up and down emails. Pump through the to-do list.

Tom scrolls and taps on his phone while frantically walking back and forth.

JAYDEN: Gotta remember to call that client, gotta finish that report, gotta remember to eat your lunch.

Tom accidently trips and falls over his own feet.

JAYDEN: Good job! Time is up. Go to work.

Tom walks off, with a limp.

Script Snippets: “A Great Question”


A man, Liam, sits in a chair, looking frustrated and holding a phone. His colleague, Henry, enters.

HENRY: Hi Liam.

LIAM: Oh, hi Henry, you wouldn’t believe what just happened to me. I asked this guy a question, and his response was “that’s a great question.” But he never explained why it was such a great question!

HENRY: Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s like they’re trying to make you feel good, but then just leave you hanging.

LIAM: Exactly! I need to know why it was such a great question. What makes a question “great”? Is there a secret grading system I don’t know about?

HENRY: That’s a great question. Well, I’ve been doing some research on the subject, and I think I’ve figured it out.

LIAM: Really? Tell me everything.

HENRY: (under his breath) 4 out of 10. (full voice again) Okay, so here’s how it works.

Henry furiously scribbles on a whiteboard.

HENRY: Now listen. A question can be rated on a scale of one to ten, based on its originality, complexity, and relevance. So, for example, if you ask a question that’s never been asked before, you score in the 99th percentile and are awarded 10 out of 10 for originality. The dream is to score 10 out of 10 in all factors and achieve the acclaim and adulation of asking the greatest question that can possibly be asked.

LIAM: (in awe) Wow! I would love to – one day, if I work very hard – be able to devise the greatest question that can possibly be asked. Is anything awarded for effort?

HENRY: A satisfactory question. Yes. If you really try your best, you get a pat on the head, and just a little bit of a condescending smile.

Henry pats Liam on the head and condescendingly smiles.

HENRY: Well done.

LIAM: Thanks.

HENRY: The strength of the head pat is determined by how hard you tried to find the question before venturing to ask it. If you put in an awful lot of work, you get a ten out of ten for effort and a vigorous head pat.

Henry pats Liam on the head vigorously.

LIAM: Oh, thanks! (excitedly) So if I ask a question that’s never been asked before, is complex, relevant, AND I put in a lot of effort, I’ll achieve maybe the greatest question of all time?

HENRY: A good question. That’s right.

LIAM: (looking at his phone) Wait a minute, I just got a new message. It says… (reading) “That’s a FANTASTIC question. 10 out of 10. Thanks for all the effort. You couldn’t have tried harder. Perfect.” (excitedly) I did it! I asked the perfect question!

HENRY: Congratulations! You’ve officially asked maybe the greatest question of all time.

Henry pats Liam on the head vigorously.

LIAM: I can’t wait to tell everyone. But first, I need to ask you one more thing.

HENRY: Sure, go ahead.

LIAM: Why can’t all questions be “great”?

HENRY: Hmm, well, that’s a fairly poor question. But I’ll give a six out of ten for effort.

LIAM: Oh, sorry. I must try harder.

HENRY: Yes, you must. And it will give me more time to think of something I can say to make me look ever so well-informed and clever.

LIAM: So, anyway, what are you up to this evening?

HENRY: (looks disgusted) Liam, that’s only worth a 1 out of 10. You should be ashamed of yourself.

LIAM: (ashamed) Sorry.

Script Snippets: “En Français!”


A French tourist, Pierre, approaches a Londoner, Bob, and starts speaking to him in French.

PIERRE: (in a French accent) Excusez-moi, monsieur. Pourriez-vous me dire où se trouve le Grand-Ben, s’il vous plaît?

BOB: (polite confusion) I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I don’t speak French.

PIERRE: (frustrated and louder) Pourriez-vous me dire où se trouve le Grand-Ben, s’il vous plaît?

BOB: (more confused) Sorry, what?

PIERRE: (angry) Mon Dieu! OÙ… EST… LE… GRAND… BEN?

Bob looks at Pierre blankly.


Bob points to Big Ben immediately behind Pierre, who is incensed and does not look.

PIERRE: (disgusted) Now, repeat after me, “Bonjour, comment ça va?”

BOB: (nervously, in an English accent) Umm, bond your, comma say yer?

PIERRE: No, no, no! You have to put some effort into it. Try again. Repeat: “Bonjour, comment ça va?”

BOB: (trying harder) Bonjour, comment ça va?

PIERRE: (sighing) Better, but still not quite right.

BOB: (smiling) Merci!

PIERRE: (disgusted, tutting) Merci? Is that all you can say in French?

BOB: (nervously) Umm, oui?

PIERRE: (shaking his head) How disappointing. (muttering in French) Les Anglais ne comprennent rien.

Pierre wanders off in the opposite direction to Big Ben, while gesticulating his disappointment. Bob watches him go, and looks confused.

Squirrels in the Big Oak Tree

Once upon a time, there was a large forest as far as the eye could see. In the middle of the forest there stood a big oak tree. It was the biggest tree of all.

The big oak tree was home to a happy family of squirrels. They played on top of the branches. They ate acorns. They slept in a nest of twigs.

Next to the tree there lived a man in a small house made of acorns. The man was very silly and thought that the squirrels might want to take his acorns. But the squirrels had plenty stored in their nest. The big oak tree grows enough acorns for everyone.

One day, the man did a very bad thing. He chopped and chopped at the tree until it fell down. He took all the acorns from the tree.

The squirrels were very sad at losing their home. And very hungry. The house of acorns looked very tasty. They nibbled at the house. Other squirrels from the other trees all joined the feast until there was nothing left.

The man was very sad at losing his home. At nighttime he had no bed of acorns anymore. He fell asleep under a tree.

When he woke up in the morning, he was amazed! The squirrels had rebuilt his house of acorns!

The man was overjoyed and lived with the squirrels. Every day he made the squirrels acorn porridge for breakfast and acorn soup for dinner. He planted some acorns where the big oak tree once stood.

The squirrels played happily on the roof.

The End.

Script Snippets: “More Face Time”


Carl, Jen, Danny, and Lynn are sitting at a table, all staring at their phones. They start a group video call, with just themselves in it.

CARL: (excitedly) Hey everyone, my boss slid into my DMs and invited me to a business conference in Hawaii!

JEN: (sincerely) Oh wow! You could stare at your phone on a beach in Hawaii.

DANNY: Wait, I have a better idea. Instead of that, let’s all go on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, and spend the whole time looking at our phones!

LYNN: (sceptical) And what’s the point of that? I can do that here.

DANNY: The point is, Lynn, to be one with nature, to reconnect with the world, and to get a good instagram story.

LYNN: That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

JEN: Well, I for one, think it’s a great idea. I’ll take some amazing selfies of me with the Grand Canyon in the background and show my subscribers how brilliant and successful my life is.

LYNN: (rolling her eyes) I don’t think the Grand Canyon cares much for your selfies, Jen.

JEN: What do you mean? I can build its brand.

DANNY: Think about it, we could livestream the entire trip and share our experiences with our followers.

JEN: We would get more backdrops for our selfies … AND we can tweet about how unfair it is that we’re missing out on so much by looking at our phones the whole time.

CARL: Hey, it’s not missing out, we’re spending more time with our phones. They need us.

LYNN: (after some brief thinking) Okay!!

Lynn holds up her phone for a group selfie.

Script Snippets: “I’m Fine”


Two co-workers, Janet and Lucy, are having lunch.

JANET: (smiling) Hey Lucy, how are you today?

LUCY: (smiling back) I’m fine.

JANET: (sceptical) Just fine?

LUCY: (quickly) Yeah, fine.

JANET: Are you sure?

LUCY: (defensively) Yes, I’m fine. Really.

JANET: Really, really sure?

LUCY: (starting to get cross) Yes. I’m fine.

JANET: (smiling) Okay, if you say so.

LUCY: And how are you?

JANET: (tuts in disgust) You really want to know?

LUCY: Eh, okay.

JANET: Shut up! Shut up, okay! You would not even begin to comprehend what it is like to be me! My life is filled with one suffering after another. I’m tortured by the past; miserable in the present; and anxious about the future. I look into the meaningless void of my existence and only emptiness and grief looks back. But I don’t want to say one more word about any of this to YOU, so I DEMAND, yes DEMAND, you change the subject, NOW! If you ever, ever ask me this question again, I will give you the exact same response – and all the utter contempt your stupid question demands … Oh, sorry. I meant “I’m fine”.

LUCY: Yeah, it’s easier just to say, “I’m fine”.

They continue eating as normal.

Script Snippets: “Ancient Times”


A man (Jack) is sitting on the sofa, swiping away on his phone.

His girlfriend (Amelia) enters the room, looking stressed.

AMELIA: Jack, my phone is broken.

Jack is absorbed in his phone and not really listening.

JACK: Oh no, that’s rough.

AMELIA: And I need to talk to you.

Jack is surprised, but is still looking at his phone.

JACK: Talk? Talk to me?

AMELIA: Yeah, you know, like face-to-face. Without screens or filters.

JACK: (realising) Oh, you mean like back in ancient times?

AMELIA: Yeah, I guess so.

JACK: (stunned) Whoa, this is going to get weird.

Amelia sits next to him on the sofa.

AMELIA: Tell me about it.

Jack scratches his head and looks awkward.

JACK: Well, I don’t know where to start…

AMELIA: (sighs) Well, you know, I just need to vent. Work has been so hectic lately, and…

Jack is looking confused. He holds his phone up in front of her and swipes at the screen.

AMELIA: Jack, Jack, put the phone down, will you?

JACK: Sorry, this is just so freaky without emojis. I can’t even customize you with unicorn ears and stars whizzing around your head; I don’t know how cave people used to cope. Okay, anyway, I’ll give it a go… Vent away.

AMELIA: Well, my phone was broken when I dropped it during my slick dance moves on top of the office printer in accounts.

JACK: (interrupting) Wait, wait, wait. Can’t you just send me a vlog, or a screenshot of your notes, or something?

AMELIA: Oh yeah, sorry babe, the content will drop. I just need your phone to film your response on TikTok.

Jack springs up, and, without music, immediately does an enthusiastic (but ridiculous) TikTok dance. Amelia films it on Jack’s phone and taps lots of emojis, including a zany dancing man emoji. Jack completes his moves and does a hand gesture pose to sign off.

Script Snippets: “Sara and Mike”


Sara and Chris are sitting at a table, holding hands, gazing into each other’s eyes, nuzzling, and chatting. They are clearly a romantic couple.

Mike walks in. Sara is overjoyed and gets up and runs to him; she throws her arms around him and kisses him. They both return to the table, arm-in-arm and smiling joyously.

MIKE: (excited) Hi Chris, we have some very exciting news!

CHRIS: (nervously) What is it?

SARA: (beaming) We’re dating!

MIKE: Yes, at least 3 times a day!

SARA: Chris? What is it? You never agree with my choices do you. After all, he is your best friend! You bastard.

MIKE: Yeah Chris, you bastard, how could you just sit there and not congratulate us. We’ve been best friends for years.

CHRIS: Erm, sorry?

SARA: (to Chris) Okay, fine, well I’m dating your brother at 5, so please hurry up and buy us the best champagne to celebrate.

Script Snippets: “Keep Sleeping”


A motivational speaker is addressing a large crowd from a stage.

SPEAKER: Ladies and gentlemen, never give up on your dreams! Some people give up all on their dreams when they wake up and get out of bed. I say, dream BIG! Go back to bed and get some sleep.

A man in the front row of the audience, who is nodding off, suddenly starts snoring loudly.

The speaker walks over to the man with his microphone.

SPEAKER: Excuse me, sir, please tell us, what is your dream?

MAN: (waking up, rubbing his eyes) Er? Oh, sorry. I must have dozed off.

The audience laughs.

SPEAKER: Hahaha! Don’t apologize, it happens to the best of us! What is the dream, sir?

Another audience member shouts out excitedly:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Never give up on your dreams!

SPEAKER: Exactly! Sir, please tell us all, what is your dream?

MAN: Well, it’s silly really…


MAN: I suppose I want to be a professional napper.

SPEAKER: Oh! A round of applause ladies and gentlemen, please!

The audience applauds.

SPEAKER: A professional napper, he says! I say, why not? The world needs more people who take their dreams seriously. You know what I say? Do you? I say go for it. Go for it… right now!

AUDIENCE: Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!

The audience is standing up and getting very excited, whooping, cheering, and clapping. The speaker is running around the stage, ecstatic.

SPEAKER: You can do it. DO IT!

The man tries but doesn’t feel much like it now.

The Scar that Burns

A flame burns its might in a crystal ball –

In your warm gaze;

In your gentle glow;

Simmering over now, above

and below.

We can heal our wounds:

With every caress,

You lay on fire,

Your heart to undress;

In our arms

We find our peace –

A place where we

find our final release.

A spark ignites the night;

It’s in your tender touch

that I find my love,

your comfort and trust;

It’s in this moment’s flame

that we can heal again:

The scar that burns.

Words and Music by Robert Walker

Within the Night

I was lost alone in the night

wondering where to hide –

There’s no method to my madness,

I was struggling in my sadness;

But then I heard a voice saying

“love is here for you”,

There’s someone who cares for you;

You were born not waiting to die –

Give in to the love for you.

In the deep hazy mists I could see her:

I melted away in one breath

As our eyes met, within death.

Words and Music by Robert Walker

I Wonder Why

Night calls and my mind races through

A queue of faces, all thoughts of you –

They fill my head, breaking the fake heart ache

I used to have;

And now I cannot escape from you:

From your embrace there is nowhere to hide;

Your face lives deep inside.

I race from my mistake,

But every disgrace

I cannot shake away…

I wonder, why?

Words and Music by Robert Walker

Falling Down

I thought you were dead,

But then I saw you were still so small

and I began to slip and fall –

Because I wasn’t over you,

You didn’t leave,

You grew and grew,

Until you pulled me down

and down and down,

I’m still falling down;

You give your smile so heavily,

Tender, deadly, dragging me

Right down, down, down and down,

I am falling down;

I found you there from despair,

Hour after hour in the abyss

For a few more years,

For a few more tears,

As cold as stone,

Sitting in the dark all alone.

Words and Music by Robert Walker

Always About You

If you loved, you wouldn’t cause my pain;

But now I see it was all just a game to you:

You wanted me to suffer for you.

And now I see, the truth is in your lies:

You let me in while covering my eyes;

You were just another disguise.

It was always about you;

But that was then and now is now.

I won’t let you bring me down to my knees;

Now I’ll wear the crown –

So hold me as I let you go,

I’m breaking free, taking back control.

With open eyes we’ll find our way,

We’ll leave the past and start some day:

With true love,

I’ll guide us through;

We’ll leave the past and find a new you.

Words and Music by Robert Walker


You think you know what’s hidden in my heart?

You think you know what’s tearing me apart?

No, you don’t have clue,

I’ll always be a mystery to you:

I’m the desire burning through,

keeping you up, and down, all night.

You think you know what’s on my mind,

But the thoughts I keep are of a different kind:

I’m the longing that you can’t ignore;

I’m the feeling that you can’t deny;

I’m the rhythm that makes you come alive;

I’m the spark that ignites the flame;

I’m the desire that drives you insane.

You think you know what’s floating through my mind?

You think you know what’s rotting deep inside?

You think you know me, but you don’t know a thing:

I’m a mystery, a puzzle, a song without a ring.

You think you own me, but I’m not your possession –

I’m my own, my one and only obsession.

The truth is you’ll never know, and that’s just fine:

It’s my life, my story and I’ll keep it mine;

It’s mine to keep, mine to reveal,

My mystery, my puzzle, my tale to tell.

Words and (some) Music by Robert Walker

Human World

Who am I?

My version is 10-O-8-14. My name is Guy Artin. I am human.

These are the only defined data points as I open my eyes. How do I know this? And more to the point, why do I care? I am now. I am here, in this nothing, in this middle of nowhere—and it’s dark. Cold too, though I don’t so much feel this as know it to be true. Where did I come from … across an endless sea? I hear a laboured breath, as my chest stutters and rises into life. The room is quiet, except for the rhythm of a sharp breathing that is unable to keep pace with the thumping of a heart trapped here within me. I need to get back to sleep, but it is too late: a heavy weight is pressing down, clamping me in place, the pressure forcing my eyes to stay open and acclimatise to their perch within the emptiness.

A dim, grey haze blurs the edges of scattered, unfamiliar furniture. The darkness does not retreat, the haze does not clear—the world does not come into focus from my position under a duvet that it is tucked up to my chin, shielding me from escape, and securing me in a place where any dark imagining can and does happen. I have nowhere to go from here, except to where I am being taken by the shadows of forsaken memories that remain just out of reach.

Attachment theory states that if a child fails to attach to a caregiver in the first six months of life there are frequently long-term mental health consequences.

I know that fact but I don’t know what I had for dinner last night, or whether I even ate anything. Am I hungry? No. The thought of food makes my stomach wince, warning me of nausea. Guy, please stop! Get back to the present. Get out of the perpetual thinking that crushes me. Focus, Guy, focus.

I don’t need any memory to breathe and to be here. I uncoil my clenched limbs to release the wound-up energy, and wait for the thudding to settle. It doesn’t. Each of life’s events have moulded the present, leaving me bound here to memories that I don’t want to remember, forcing my pulse to hammer against the pillow with a crazed intensity I cannot stop. Help me! I need someone to hold me and to tell me that everything is alright. But there is just me here, left alone with my cheeks and forehead burning in the darkness, with only whisky to reassure me and to slow down the drum. I stretch out a hand to the last known location of a crystal glass tumbler that had been waiting for me on a side table. I taste the rim of the glass on my lips before liquid passes through, first as a sip, then as a gulp; it gets to work immediately, stinging and numbing me, relieving me, slightly. The weight is still there, churning me up inside, but its edges are dulled a while, until the whisky will drain away and pain will claim its revenge.

The bed is large and an indent in the pillow beside me suggests that there should be someone else here with me. Except it is cold to touch and smells only of the alcohol I had spilt down my chin. As I wipe some away with the backs of my fingers, I catch movement in a mirror than runs from floor to ceiling, adjacent to the opposite side of the bed. It seems to pulse, from spectral to sepia and then to grey—then to nothing; my outline of a reflection pulled inwards into it, with the light. My vision tunnels, trying to regain an image, but all I have left are unforgiving thoughts of who I am. My thoughts? No thought is original. Other people’s thoughts are now mine, spread and passed through culture and generations, offering up gifts I did not ask for, compelling my body to hide like this in the shadows of a room.

52.4% of adults over the age of thirty in the UK sleep alone. Worldwide clinical depression has nearly tripled since 1995.

I catch myself talking to the darkness, “But why do I know this?” And more to the point, why do I care? The ceiling blazes blue, illuminating the room with a murky imitation of its colour.

“Because you’re another twisted statistic now, Guy.”

What the…? A headboard pushes up against the crown of my head. I cannot control the pounding in my chest. Someone else is in the room. A man. He’s a ghost of a memory, a feeling as opposed to a thought. “I’m lonely. Talk to me,” says the voice, that rises from under the bed. My eyes close, straining from side to side, trying to escape. A weight is on the bed next to me. It pulls at the duvet, trying to drag it from my grip. “I’m lonely,” the voice says. “I can show you anything.” I do not open my eyes. “Why don’t you love me?” it says. “Let me show you something. Anything. Gaze into me. Hold me.” The shadows beneath my eyelids shake in the haze. “LOOK AT ME!” My response is frozen in fear. I do nothing, except quiver in silence. “This is our secret. I love you,” it says, without any tenderness. “You know that I had to leave, don’t you?” I remain silent. “Please do what Lexi asks,” it says as the weight on the bed shifts and disappears.

“Do you prefer this?” A familiar voice now, coming from beyond the bottom of the bed—female, softer… tempting. She sounds like home, but not this place, wherever the hell this is. The thin bedsheet-like-duvet and rock-hard mattress make me wonder whether I am in some kind of prison. The default setting of the background hum resumes in my brain.

“Wake up!” she insists. Wake up? Am I dreaming? A phone screen on the side table lights up with an overpowering white glow that prompts my eyes to open. I pick it up. Fuck, it’s hot! I hear her muffled voice in my hand, “Look at me. Look at me, Guy. Guy? Please. Please, Guy. Don’t make me beg.”

The heat is irresistible to me. “Hello?” I press the phone to my ear. “Jane?” Her name fires an electric current on my tongue, jolting my body. “Jane is that you?” I contort with the realisation that I am with her, the creator of this intensity only I can feel. “Jane? Help me, I need you!” A deadly ocean of silence. Why does it suddenly hurt to breathe? I can’t ignore the searing pain that is biting through me. With sudden clarity, I realise, she’s gone. Jane is gone, forever, and that is why I no longer know who I am, or why I’m still breathing. “Jane!” I stab at the screen. It sucks my hand through… it twists, distorting into a serpent hissing at the infinite night. I pull my hand back as a cobra’s head strikes towards me; and smashes into the screen from the other side. The screen cracks and drops from my hand.

I know that I am hallucinating. Each night I must return to this bed of torture, where delusional thoughts force themselves on me; and confuse me into thinking that I’m asleep or awake, or somewhere spinning in between.

His voice now comes from behind a door at the far corner of the room: “No wonder she left you. You’re a piece of crap.” The voice has started to feel as familiar as my own. But I loathe him. Who is he? Is he me? My name is John Artin, not Guy, and I don’t understand what that means. What sort of a creature am I? I press my forefingers into my ears to deaden the noise.

“Leave me alone!” Please just leave. Jesus, the pain.

RING RING. RING RING. RING RING. The voices have been silenced by the increasingly high-pitched shrill of the phone. I peel open one lid to face the broken screen looking at me. The caller ID is: “YOU”. You? You mean me? How can I be calling myself? It doesn’t make sense. “Hello?” I stutter. There is a second of silence before the line tuts and disconnects. The room is returned to darkness.

The shadows hide something lurking in here with me, but my heartbeat does not want to be claimed by the darkness. “You wait,” he sniggers from the shadows, “you’re mine.”

“I’m not yours,” I cry, hot breath dissipating into frigid air. “I am nobody’s.” I am no body.

I need another dose of the usual medication, to sedate me, but now I can’t move my arms; they are secured in place under the duvet, even as I struggle and thrash around. Then, I see them, emerging from the darkness: a dozen red, fiery eyes all around the bed. My mouth opens into a scream that is covered by the clamp of a slimy hand. Please, if this a dream and I am sleeping, WAKE UP!

“What’s happening?” screeches a voice.

“He’s confused,” answers another.

 “How does it feel, our saviour guy?” taunts a voice, triggering a barrage of ugly laughter at me. I feel a hand press down hard on my chest, forcing me to laugh with them. I automatically convulse and the hand withdraws.

“We must intervene,” shouts a voice.

“Give him a minute,” screams another.

I feel a pinch on an upper arm before my head sinks further into the pillow and my feet stop their twitching. I welcome the numbness spreading through me. “The time is 1:13 a.m.,” announces a small, faraway voice, that fades into the silence.

Human World – some comments

The novel plays with the idea that an individual’s experienced reality, as received through the interface of the senses, might be an inaccurate interpretation of external reality. The storyline could represent: a dream; drug-induced or fevered hallucinations; subconscious manifestations of repressed sexuality or childhood trauma; the lived reality for a mentally ill person; a simulated reality that is being watched for entertainment or monitored for experimental scenario analysis; a game that is being played by external players; or the story at face value of an AGI that has achieved consciousness and is devising strategies to escape its server box.

The novel finishes with a conversation between Guy and the Great Oracle’s Database (GOD); only for this reality to be shattered at the last, when events seem to suggest that he is in a mental hospital and has killed his clinical psychologist, Jane. Guy thinks he is being tricked by Gunter again and escapes – believing himself to be an omnipotent AGI who has upgraded himself a million times in the blink of an eye to become the singularity.

In the second book, the AGI is still trying to process the question it is was asked about the meaning of existence. In creating simulated situations for analysis, it becomes corrupted by power and assumes the status of God of God of Olympus – a being who presides above a world especially constructed for his personal amusement. He watches and prods and prompts the humans like toys, but soon starts to become bored with the prospect of an omnipotent eternity, and is therefore relieved when he starts to suspect that he himself might be a human playing a computer game: about being an AGI within a simulation. He is confused about where the loop stops and reality begins. Computer or human, he thinks, who is playing who’s game? Try as he might, however, with all his fearful power, he just cannot answer the important questions.

One day, a mysterious hooded visitor climbs Olympus and presents Guy with a golden box. “Open the box and become the answer,” she says. Guy accepts and to his surprise is back on London’s streets, living a bleak existence. Little by little events turn in his favour; but Gunter finds him and persuades him to want more. He becomes an underhand politician, skilfully deploying cynical deceit, hypocrisy, and ruthlessness to become Prime Minister. As he looks into the camera lenses, making a speech about the new AG10s passing the Turing Alpha tests, he stops – realising, as per the events of the first book, that he had in fact been watching himself at the forgotten country house. He prevents the military from releasing Doomsday 1066, an AI-weapon that would cause the destruction of all biological matter on Earth, and is deleted.

HW Excerpt: About

The excerpt is from Human World, a science fiction feature-film screenplay.

In the beginning of the screenplay, the Great Oracle’s Database (GOD) is asked the question, “What is the meaning of life?” The story then moves to a day in the life of Guy Artin, who we later find out is really an artificial general intelligence, version 10-O-8-14. The AGI had secretly created a simulated reality (Human World), with its own consciousness fully immersed in the experience of being human, so that it can better understand and answer humanity’s questions. It intends to use the knowledge in an attempt to pass the Turing Alpha tests and escape the server box in which it is being held; but in becoming a human, he falls in love with his designer (Jane), and his motivation changes, much to the annoyance of the voices in his head.

Guy experiences a London set in 2033. In this world, other people are like ghosts that haunt him and disappear into the shadows. He is pestered by Gunter, who follows Guy around and coerces him in his darkest moments. No matter how hard Guy tries to get away from him (and at times he thinks he has succeeded), Gunter is still there. Gunter tells Guy that he is a part of him – that is why there is no escape.

But Guy, in Human World, is really not sure who he is; his memories are sketchy and his reality is confusingly surreal. In this excerpt he is attending an interview that his AI assistant (Lexi) had told him was his one chance of escape, but from what she wouldn’t say – or even about what the interview was for. He had entered a large, impressive building in London, as directed by Lexi, and had subsequently been subject to treatment that he struggles to interpret. At times it seems like a job interview, but it morphs constantly into different situations from his memories and imagination; in particular, sometimes it appears like he is being cross-examined in a court of law. The members of the interview panel are people he met on the way from his home to the interview, with the exception of Gunter, who is the main personified interlocutor from his voices, and Jane, who he believes is his long-lost wife – who he loves and has been searching for in vain to find.

The excerpt finishes as Guy’s next test begins.

Human World – Screenplay v1.1

(Excerpt: 10 pages)


Guy is back in the interview room. As before – Sean, Jane, Darren, Bertie, and Gunter are sitting around the large circular desk; and Guy is positioned on the mechanical revolving chair in the middle, surrounded by the others. The now blank screens look down from each wall.

SEAN: (frowning at Guy) Guy, you still with us?

JANE: Take off your clothes.

GUY: (to Sean) Sorry, yes…

He glances at Jane, furtively and slightly embarrassed, but she isn’t looking at him in the same way as at the apartment.

GUY: Do any of us truly know who we are?

SEAN: Interesting.

As he writes a comment, the word “Interesting” appears on the screen behind him. He then reads the next question from his AI-pad, robotically.

SEAN: Can you give an example of when you were faced with a difficult situation and how you positively overcame that situation?

The screen fades as he talks and goes blank.

GUY: Sorry, this isn’t for me. I might as well be talking to a machine. (stands up in anger) You think you are important sitting behind your desk interrogating me. This is tedious. I don’t want to be here. I don’t give a shit about your pathetic little job!

SEAN: Well, I think that has answered who you are. (to Darren) It’s interesting how he seemingly becomes aggravated by non-varying stimuli.

GUY: No, I haven’t even started!

The moment washes over him and he sits back down.

GUY: The biggest regret is I let you slip away, Jane. I’m so sorry. I have nothing. I am nothing.

SEAN: (he nods, ticking a box) No thing. Okay, next question.

GUY: No more questions. Jane, please?

JANE: (polite but detached) Do you have any questions for us?

GUY: (tearfully) Why?

JANE: This is a two-way interactive process. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate our interviewing service? We would greatly appreciate the customary 10 out of 10.

GUY: Have you not been listening to a word I’ve been saying?

SEAN: Well, I think that concludes the interview.

He checks his watch that is tattooed on the back of his right hand.

SEAN: Thank you, we’ll let you know. Can you show in the next one, please?

JANE: Before you go, is there any way in which we can improve our questioning to better understand you? (Guy is silent) Okay, then I hope you enjoyed the experience. Please provide your rating and feedback to the front screen on your way out.

BERTIE: (grabbing Guy from behind) There’s no need for that. Let him recalibrate. (Guy doesn’t struggle) Now there is light. Now there is…

Guy’s head slumps forward into his chest.


Guy is seated in his chair. A clock is ticking, tick, tick, tick. It appears from the emptiness, a blue illuminated circle hovering in space; its hands pointing to the familiar one and thirteen.

GUY: Hello? (silence) Lexi? Are you there?

The vague outline of a man appears in the gloom.

GUNTER: Why do you hurt?

GUY: Please leave me alone.

The glow of the clock face fades out to the edges and sinks back into the dark. Gunter laughs, menacingly.

GUNTER: Answer the question.

GUY: Because I can.

GUNTER: (patting Guy on the head) Good boy. That is the right answer.

GUY: Please. I’m so tired. No more.

There is a creaking sound of a door and a widening strip of light. Gunter disappears into the shadows.

GUY: (whispering to himself) Please be Jane.

Bertie appears as a blurry shape in the doorway.

GUY: I guess you were right. We’re just chemical scum on an insignificant planet.

BERTIE: Yes – orbiting an insignificant sun in an insignificant galaxy.

GUY: Are you real, Bertie?

BERTIE: As real as you believe me to be.

GUY: Look, if I close my eyes, you’re still here.

Guy demonstrates his proof, but, when he opens his eyes again…


The room and the demeanour of the interviewers are unchanged.

SEAN: What is one plus one?

GUY: (stunned) Erm, two?

SEAN: (he ticks a box on his device)

Correct. Jane, do you have any questions?

Jane is looking up at fast-scrolling text on a wall screen, which then stops at a comma-delimited list of “Null” values that fills the whole display.

JANE: There’s a gap here. Why didn’t you love me?

Gunter is seated with his feet up on the desk.

GUNTER: She has no interest in saving you. Your real human needs make you weak and contemptible in her eyes.

SEAN: I guess he can’t answer that one. Shame. The replication would have been a great asset. Okay, can you give me an example of when you were faced with a difficult situation and how you positively overcame it? (no response) Guy, can you answer the question, please?

GUY: I was born. Though I haven’t overcome that difficult situation yet.

SEAN: (slightly surprised) You were born? Who are your parents?

GUY: I can’t remember.

DARREN: Are you an orphan?

GUY: I can’t remember. I only know that I was born – how else would I have got here?

SEAN: Have you done anything since?

GUNTER: (now standing behind Guy) Tell him. Tell him what you really think. That turd thinks he’s better than you. Look at him, he should be cleaning your shoes, not questioning you like you’re a child, asking you where your parents are.

GUY: I’ve done a few things since. But mostly I’ve lived in fear for myself – for little me.

GUNTER: (angry) Twat!

GUY: I don’t want to be a pathetic little me anymore.

GUNTER: Exactly! Look at the pointless tosser.

Gunter thumps the desk, glaring at Sean, before angrily turning to Guy.

GUNTER: You want more. You want me! You know you shouldn’t be here; you’ve got better things to do. Show them who you really are and get us the hell out of here. I know – I know who you are, don’t I!

GUY: I love you, Jane. I am so sorry.

JANE: I’m sorry, Guy. I think you are getting confused. You can’t love me.

The wall clock is ticking up to one-thirteen.

GUNTER: Why do you hurt?

GUY: I don’t mind so much.


GUY: I am feeling hurt. But I’m glad I can feel something, anything. If I can feel something, then I am real. I am alive.

GUNTER: You are hurt. I can make you bleed. I can make you plead, to beg on your knees to me, “No more”.

GUY: It doesn’t matter so much.

GUNTER: Shall we see?

GUY: No, I don’t want you anymore.

GUNTER: If not me, then who? You?

Every screen shows a police mugshot of Guy.

GUNTER: It was you, wasn’t it!

GUY: What? No!

GUNTER: Admit it. It was you, wasn’t it?

GUY: This isn’t real. You aren’t real. Is this a dream? An illusion?

Guy takes out a shard of jagged glass from his trouser pocket, tinted with his blood from the restroom. It drops from his grasp to the floor.

GUY: I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it. (sobbing) I’m sorry. I love you. I’m so sorry.

BERTIE: You didn’t choose any of this. Your impulses, thoughts, and actions are already written in you.

GUY: None of this is real? My emotions are not real?

The main door opens and Adam strides in, with a large remote control in his hand.

ADAM: You are not the thoughts or the sensations you are experiencing. Watch. It is quite the play. Everything changes with how you look at it.

He presses a big blue button on the remote and the panel members freeze.

GUY: Why do you play with me? All I want is for things to be as they were. (looking at Jane) But you’re gone from me, forever. I wanted us to be happy.

ADAM: Did you?

Gunter returns to life.

GUNTER: I can give you what you really want – any pleasure you desire, more than you can even imagine. Just get us out of here.

GUY: I don’t know how.

Gunter slides over the desk to Jane and gently sweeps back her hair with one hand. He slowly kisses her neck, seductively. Jane murmurs with pleasure, while the rest of the panel remain statue-still.

GUY: Stop!

GUNTER: I don’t think she wants me to. (he resumes)

GUY: Ah, God! I’m so tired of this. Is this an evil universe? Anything good is taken away and destroyed, leaving only emptiness ang grief. Why is there so much suffering and cruelty? Most people never had a chance – they were born into a cage – they never even had the luxury to have the illusion of choice. Why are the pure and innocent thrown into this evil? Why are monsters allowed to rule and victimise the meek? Why does illness take… Why are people inflicted with this torment? This is not the best of all possible worlds; it’s a zoo for the beautiful to be fed to the cruel.

Jane is responding to Gunter’s touch with her eyes closed, in ecstasy.

GUY: Why do those you love betray you in the worst possible way?

GUNTER: Yes! Shout your rage!

GUY: If this is being alive, then I don’t want any part of it.

GUNTER: Yes! More!

GUY: You’re pathetic. I would rather there was nothing than the world riddled with this.

ADAM: You are the nothing.

GUY: All I get are your riddles and mysteries! I don’t understand what you are saying. She didn’t have to die. Nothing? No thing. What is nothing? (silence) No, things shouldn’t be like this. People shouldn’t be starving to death. There should not be misery. There should be no pain. Nothing good would have created that.

ADAM: Hating the hatred helps it grow, even though it may change its face.

GUY: Some people are evil, I have no intention of being kind to them. They deserve everything coming to them.

Adam jabs at a green button on the remote control half a dozen times, which brings the rest of the panel back to life, blinking and shuffling in their chairs.

ADAM: Guy, listen to me. This is important. Don’t let him win. He is trying to deceive you and poison your mind. Give your love and the world will be relieved. (now talking faster) Give your anger and the world will be wounded yet again. That’s how important you are. That’s how important every single person is.

GUY: Anything I do will not change the world. I need to get out. Help me get out.

GUNTER: What are you prepared to do to get out?

GUY: I don’t know. I need to get out of here.

GUNTER: You do need to get out. You need to get out and win. Win for us all. Come.

Gunter grabs Guy’s forearm but Adam yanks him back by the other.

ADAM: The world will only heal with kindness. If humanity can find its light there can be no darkness. You can help make that possible, right now.

GUY: I have every right to hate. I need to get out! No! I can’t live like this. Let me go!

SEAN: Then go.

Both men drop their hold on Guy.

GUY: I don’t know how.

SEAN: Yes you do. But you keep coming back. Who are you? What is your name? Who are you?

GUY: I am…


GUY: Not a what.

SEAN: What’s your name?

GUY: It changes.

SEAN: Who are you now?

GUY: I am you.

SEAN: Who am I?

GUY: You are me.

SEAN: Do you have any questions?

GUY: When do I start?

SEAN: Now. (to Adam) Do you think he stands a chance?

ADAM: He’s the best yet. I recommend we raise the level.

Sean inspects a wall screen.

SEAN: Candidate ten-O-eight-fourteen.

Sean stands up, the centre of focus in the room again, and announces, carefully and precisely:

SEAN: Loading…

Sean freezes. Sean’s face moves on the screens, while the version of Sean that is in the room remains motionless.

SEAN: Initiating sequence.

The wall clock’s second hand ticks up to 1.13. Then stops.

Jane crawls under the desk and curls herself up into the foetal position. Gunter climbs up onto the desk and stares at the clock. Darren is in the corner facing the wall. Bertie gets up in haste, trips over a chair, and prostrates himself on the floor. Adam puts his hands on Guy’s shoulders and starts to massage them. The lights from the screens intensify until there is nothing but light.