Black screen. Male voices, distant but getting louder, with even more distant sounds of a bar crowd beneath the voices.

          Male Voice #1:
Do you think she can see us from in there?
          Male Voice #2:
Naw-she's busy.
          Male Voice #1:
She's deep in thought, she is-but what could she be thinking about, do you think?
          Male Voice #2:
About the next word she puts her finger to.

Green light pixilating in the middle of the black screen, as voices continue, now with a light background sound of TYPEWRITER keys clacking.

          Male Voice #1:
How long's she been in there?
          Male Voice #2:
Seven days. I bring her food and drink. I take it out again. She's got enough paper in there to last another week.
          Male Voice #1:
Does she tip well?
          Male Voice #2:
Well enough. I don't mind her. She's no trouble. Not like you lot.
          Male Voice #1:
That's a rough thing to say.

Green light coalesces into a vertical crack against the black background, still with the sound of typewriter keys, as JANICE SHRIEK starts speaking:

          Janice Shriek:
They are beginning to annoy me. I cannot keep them out of the text. Everything around me is going into the text-every dust mote, every nick in the floor, the unevenness of this desk, the clouded quality of the windows. I cannot keep it out right now.

The vertical crack widens and within it an EYE, looking out, blinking. The voices continue, louder, and the crowd noises are almost gone.

          Male Voice #1:
Wasn't her brother the mad historian who went digging into the secrets of the gray caps? Didn't he go under the city?
          Male Voice #2:
He's there now, some say, along with the snails and the cursed gray caps.
          Male Voice #1:
What's she do, then?
          Male Voice #2:
She's an art gallery owner. Or was. Not much of anything now. Used to always be seen with that friend of hers-Sybel, I think.
          Male Voice #1:
What can she be typing so furiously?
          Male Voice #2:
The story of your life. A history of pubs and bars. How should I know?
          Male Voice #1:
Whatever it is, it must be important. To her.
          Male Voice #2:
Funny. That typewriter's like an echo. It falls away when we stop talking.

Brief pause, during which the green light continues to widen against the black screen and the eye fades and typewriter keys can be seen in the widening space, very close up. Then:

          Male Voice #1:
Yes, yes it does. Do you think she's...?

The typewriter keys become more visible and audible:

          Janice Shriek:
She's what? Typing your inane speech, perhaps?
          Male Voice #2:
Naw-I must be wrong. She's not typing us. Hasn't got anything to do with us.
          Janice Shriek:
My hands are cramping. My stomach growls. The clock on the wall tells me I've been here much longer than I thought. And I'm sick of these fools. Even ghosts can take a walk, so why not me?

All the sounds die away and the green light completely fills the screen. The typewriter appears in its entirety, covered in FUNGUS (shriek cover image?). To one side, words appear. The CHURCH'S soundtrack begins to play—a great up-welling of sound.


Direction & Cinematography: J.T. Lindroos
Script by: Jeff VanderMeer and Juha Lindroos
Music by: The Church
Janice Shriek voiced by Kathleen Martin
Janice Shriek played by Elizabeth Hand
Men's voices by Steve Kilbey and Tim Powles
Sybel voiced by Matt Cheney
Sybel played by Rick Wallace
Props by Dave Larsen
Photography by Dana Martin
Produced by Jeff & Ann VanderMeer
A King Squid Production

The credits fade, leaving just the green light and the typewriter. Most dialogue from here on out is by Janice.

I was beginning to sound like a character in a book. I had to escape the words. I had to get away. From the typewriter keys. From the faces staring through the green crack where the corridors come together to form a fracture of seeing. From the feeling that I had begun to parrot on these pages, blandly reciting facts.

The typewriter fades and the green light lessens as the screen opens up into a SERIES OF CITY SCENES, contrasting dark and light shots, vaguely based on what she's saying-STREETS, BUILDINGS, then COMMUNITY SQUARES, etc. A jumble of styles and approaches, but still coherent. There should be a definite sense of movement, and of progression.

So I went for a walk. But when you've lived in a place this long, no walk can occur solely in the present. Every street, every building, appears encrusted with memories, with perspectives that betray your age, your cynicism, your sentimentality, or your lack of feeling where you should feel something.

After this section, a quick succession of images before settling down again into a slower progression… close in shot of AN ALLEYWAY, THE OUTSIDE OF A BUILDING, or whatever. anything plausible as both public and private for a tryst.

(In each of these next few individual shots, there should be something off-something not quite right, but not something that is necessarily obvious-whether it be odd fungus or whatever.)

Here, a fumbling moment of ecstasy.

A FOUNTAIN area or A PARK AREA or a scene near THE RIVER MOTH.

There, a farewell to a departing friend.

STONE BENCHES or some other outdoor area that could be a café.

A fabled lunch with an important artist.

The SIDE OF A WALL, covered in lichen and mushrooms, the suggestion of AN INHUMAN HAND trailing along it at a child's eye-level.

A reminder that we are never alone, that the mushroom dwellers live beneath us and among us.

Stills of PAINTINGS, which show GRAY CAPS and other SPORETHINGS, seguing to A GRAVEYARD scene...

Why, she said, her heart breaking a little, there are so many friends to visit, no matter where they are now.

A close-up of a SMALL MONUMENT in a COURTYARD. Etched into the side of the MONUMENT, the words: "In memory of all those unnamed souls lost in the War of the Houses."

And how, my friends, to know just who we lost in that war? There are ghosts that walk, or seem to, for a time.

The viewpoint curves/rises upward, shooting past the MONUMENT and up into the SKY and then cutting immediately to a general, far-away view of a CITY.

There are things we call scars that are actually wounds re-opening…whole cities that are nothing more than wounds.


BLACK SCREEN tinged with GREEN. WORDS appear, in newspaper script:

Who attacked us? In the end, it didn't matter. Soon enough, the chaos was impenetrable.

NEWSPRINT/TEXT fades like a watermark, replaced by scenes of CHAOS, strange juxtapositions of RAPIDLY GROWING FUNGUS, exploding, and the VOICES of people shouting orders and counter-orders, FLESH QUIVERING with infiltrating veins of FUNGI, which look oddly beautiful. Especially GREENS and VIOLENT REDS. We see Janice's HANDS in these odd hues.

Our enemies were patient and well-armed. They'd made a pact it was difficult to match or understand-with the people we'd driven underground to build our city: the gray caps.

Montage of GRAY CAP images. Some of them from the paintings in Janice's gallery.

They didn't want us here any more. They never had. And the weapons they gave our enemies were hideous in their intent. Beyond imagination. We began to live in a city more surreal than any canvas in my gallery.

Scenes of BUILDINGS crumbling under siege of DECAY SPED-UP-the normal erosion of a WALL, for example. All with GREEN LIGHT shining through. Interspersed with odd close-ups of INDESCRIBABLE THINGS. (All unusually alien-looking-could even be surgery footage tinged green; must look organic, damaged, slightly perverse.)

People did strange things to survive.

HAND prying rubbery-looking bullet out of flesh or a TRAY of BLOODY BULLETS being passed around.

The fungal bullets our enemies used stopped the heart, dried the veins in seconds, but then became inert...and edible.

Tracking shot, closing in on three PEOPLE hunched over a BODY in the middle of a STREET strewn with debris. They're doing something to the body.

They even tasted good. And yet, who knows how they changed us?

An ARM suddenly veined through with FUNGUS. A HAND against a WINDOWSILL, TENDRILS of some odd white FILAMENT slowly finding its way toward the HAND. At point of contact, the FILAMENT turns GREEN.

And despite all that had happened, there came a night still so terrible that no one dared name it. There came a night so terrible that no one could explain it.

Camera angle dives toward the HAND, then reverses, looking up at the HAND through WINDOW into a NIGHT SKY showing the aftershocks of EXPLOSIONS-STARS and SLIGHT MOON, but also RED HAZE.

On Festival night, we let down our guard. We let down our guard and suddenly we were all looking up at a sky that no longer seemed familiar.

Panning the NIGHT SKY, alighting on the SILHOUETTE of ROOFTOPS, etc. In the background, the sound of KNOCKING-a thready, odd KNOCKING, as if on a DOOR but not on a DOOR. It starts very low, almost like the BEAT OF A DRUM, percussive, but then gets louder.

The night was full of people fighting each other. And I was in my apartment with the manager of my gallery, Sybel. Sybel. He of the shocking blonde hair. The blue eyes. The penchant for getting into trouble. And getting me out of trouble.

Various PHOTOGRAPHS of SYBEL, one right after the other.

My poor darling, wonderful, pale Sybel. He and I were waiting for the darkness to be over.

An APARTMENT DOOR from the inside, from far away, but slowly, slowly closer. Over the KNOCKING, gurglings, shouts, screams, and the sounds of buildings collapsing-a dull, muted roar, then the sweet, exhausted sigh of wood or stone hitting the ground.

There were things out in the night.. No one controlled them anymore. No one controls them now.

Interspersed with the DOOR getting closer: ALLEY MOUTH, seen from the end of the ALLEY. Shadowy, hint of EXPLOSIONS in the sky behind, but beautiful. War should never look so beautiful. A fireworks display-juxtaposed with various types of fungus against the night sky. And then a PERSON'S SILHOUETTE, dragging their leg, as if wounded, across the ALLEY MOUTH. Followed a few seconds later by SOMETHING MONSTROUS leaping across the ALLEY MOUTH. (It must look as if it is lacking limbs or has too many limbs, and be in silhouette. Possibly, more dramatic to have the first person dragged back across the alley mouth.) The KNOCKING gets louder.

And there was something at our door. Waiting to get in.

Close-up of DOORKNOB being turned on Janice's LOCKED DOOR, from the interior.

And Sybel said to me...

Janice, I think we have to leave. Now.

A BANGING ON THE DOOR, which seems to bulge inward. A kind of HISS. A WET sound.

But where, Sybel? Where do we go?

Shot of JANICE's HAND holding a gun (like the beer label gun if possible) so tight the KNUCKLES are WHITE. Close-up of SYBEL'S EYES. Quick 360 sweep of the APARTMENT-hand-held, panicky-noting the APARTMENT DOOR, which is shaking from the knocking by the THING outside. Ending up looking at the BATHROOM and its WINDOW.

There. Out the window. Onto the roof.

          Janice (a bit unsteadily):
That thing can hear us right now. It's too close. It can hear us talking. It knows what we're going to do.

Close-up of JANICE'S HAND holding the gun like a CLUB. Her hand is stained GREEN.

          Sybel (holding Janice by the shoulders, whispering in her ear):
Listen to me. It's be dead now or be dead later. We go through the window. It's coming in here and it wants to kill us.

The DOOR begins to splinter, GREEN LIGHT entering the APARTMENT.

          Janice (genuinely terrified):
Oh my god. Oh my god.

Close-up of DOORKNOB again. It's partially coated in GREEN FUZZ. Can just see the REFLECTION in it of the THING at the DOOR. The KNOCKING is frenzied.

          The Thing (in a horrible moist parody of a human voice):
I have something. For You. You will. Like it.

          Janice (in a flat whisper):
It's going to kill us.

Shut up! Get to the bathroom!

Slow, long shot from the DOOR looking toward the BATHROOM WINDOW. As the camera focuses on the WINDOW, getting closer and closer, juxtapose that shot with a sequence of chaotic WAR SCENES, ODD FUNGUS, all with the SCRABBLING SOUND in the background of the THING trying to get in-splintering and rending sounds.

          The Thing (in its wet voice, shredding the door now):
I have something for you.

SYBEL and JANICE going through the BATHROOM WINDOW quickly, disoriented, hand-held camera. Sounds of their BREATHING. The sudden appearance of the NIGHT SKY again. The rush of FRESH AIR, distant SOUNDS OF BATTLE, sounds of FLAMES over a SILHOUETTE of ROOFTOPS. The night glistened with stars masked by clouds. Behind them, DOOR is being demolished. Shot from the front of SYBEL and JANICE emerging from the WINDOW or them already on the ROOF. Tumbling out onto the ROOF.

And now where ? Now where?

Follow me. Just stay calm!

Hand-held camera at NIGHT, rushing along the rooftop toward some kind of EMBANKMENT or SHED or whatever else on a rooftop might provide cover-camera JUMPING across it and behind it and thus LOOKING BACK across the ROOFTOP toward whatever might be coming.

          Sybel (breathing hard):
Okay, now I'm out of ideas, Janice. I don't know what to do next.

          Janice (whispering):
We stay right here. Out of sight.

It'll know we're here. Where is it now? I can't see it.

There! By the window. See it? It's coming out onto the rain gutter.

We need to get out of here.

Shhh! It might hear you.

I can hear it sniffing. It's enjoying this.

The sound of a HEAVY WEIGHT on the ROOF. Not sure what images would work best here. Could stay with Janice/Sybel's point of view, looking out at what's coming toward them, or could do it from the perspective of the Thing, which means you wouldn't have to show the Thing as much.

          Sybel (now totally losing his calm):
It knows exactly where we are.

          Janice (now oddly calm):
Just be still. Be calm like you told me to. Calm and quiet.

Sounds of the THING coming closer.

When I say, stand up and fire at it.

If I can...

Sounds of the THING coming close, but also the sound FADING, the music of the CHURCH paramount. A moment of calm before the action. Juxtapose JANICE's face looking up at the NIGHT SKY and the NIGHT SKY. Gradually, all the sounds die away.

          Janice as Narrator:
Funny, but as we sat there, our backs literally to the wall, the fear went right out of me. I couldn't feel it anymore. I just couldn't. I had no room for it. It had no room for me.

No sound, but the THING converging on them. Sybel getting ready to FIRE. The night sky again.

          Janice as Narrator:
I looked up at the few stars through the moonlight, the clouds, and the smoke that had begun to drift over the city. Such a cool night. I could feel the rough chill of the stone wall against my back.

NIGHT SKY, along with a MONTAGE of images from the first part of the film: COURTYARD, FOUNTAIN, GRAVESTONE, etc.

The seconds stretched out like hours. I had time to think about my gallery, to wonder if it would still be standing after the war. I had time to think about too many things. Regret-the usual kind. That I had never married, never had children, never led a "normal" life.

Abrupt, brutal CUT to the THING shambling across the roof. Still no sound.

You understand, I hope. As we waited there, I thought we were going to die.

All the SOUND comes back with a rush.

I have something for you for you for you for you for you for you for you.

Now! Do it now!

JANICE AND SYBEL rise up from their shelter and FIRE point-blank at the THING as it attacks them. Most likely given the budget, it should scream, with a close-up of claws or whatever, close up of part of a bloody body, bits and pieces of torn fungus. The THING is "dark as the night and yet transparent-you could see the stars through it when it got close. It was thick. It was thin. It had claws. It had fangs like polished steel. It had eyes so human and yet so various..."

The thing VEERS TO THE LEFT, STRIKES THE WALL in front of them. REARS UP as they SHOOT AT IT AGAIN. The shots GO RIGHT THROUGH ITS FUNGAL SKULL. It tries to COME UP OVER THE WALL and a final shot KILLS IT. It falls over the edge of the roof. Still TALKING.

The ROOFTOP is CALM, but for the DISTANT SOUNDS OF WAR and their BREATHING. Pan up on the NIGHT SKY. THE CHURCH'S MUSIC wells up again.

          Janice (as narrator):
Odd. To be there, on that roof, alive in that moment. To have conquered our fear, if only for a little while.

SYBEL and JANICE looking down at the body of the THING.

I don't want to keep running, Janice, but we have to get off this roof.

We have to get out of this city.

          Sybel (a bit of a smile in his voice):
That, too. That, too.

Extreme downward angle of SYBEL and JANICE climbing down a LADDER on the side of the BUILDING, leading down into utter DARKNESS lit by the occasional FLAME.

Off the roof and into the night. And how was that, you may ask? It was terrible. Terrible. It was an experience to inoculate you from horror forever.

Amazing quick succession of violent images, of terrible things being done in the shadows, with SCREAMS and SHOUTS and CRYING. Images of BUILDINGS BURNING, of PEOPLE BEING SHOT, of the FUNGUS COVERING EVERYTHING.


Sybel died that night. I was terribly injured by a fungal mine. I lay among the dead for hours with my eyes shut, hiding from the gray caps. No one thought I was alive. Neither did I, really.

Close-up of the WAR MEMORIAL, followed by fade to BLACK.

Did it really end? Has it really ended?


RAIN FALLING, hitting pavement. A swollen RIVER. A change in the CHURCH'S music, to something more wistful and strange. The RAIN sound mingles with the distant sound of TYPING.

The rain was never the same after the war. The thing we call the Shift began.

RAIN behaving oddly. FUNNELS in the sky. RAIN on one side of the STREET, not the other.

Odd things come with the rain now, out of the sky.


Things that seem like omens or portents.

Close-up of FISH and TINY SQUID and CRABS in a pile, with SEAWEED.

They lie struggling in piles of seaweed, as alien to the city as we are to the gray caps. We try to decipher what it might mean.

CROWD gathering around the strangeness, perhaps from shoe-level.

No one has seen a gray cap anywhere for years, and yet we feel them everywhere.

ALLEYWAY with a SHADOWY FIGURE. COURTYARD, empty but for an overturned CHAIR.

The Shift has made people different.

Scenes of PEOPLE acting in strange ways-slightly off. More RAIN.

A war will change you, but by how much?

A RUINED WALL. A devastated STREET, etc. (All could be stock footage from old wars.)

Strange life. Strange light. And yet how few people seem to see the change. Really see it. I saw it just taking my walk.

THE OUTSIDE OF JANICE'S GALLERY. Any gallery will work, probably, so long as it's not too identifiable as present-day here-and-now and it's run-down. And interiors should be easy to shoot. Also a good place to intersperse montages of Ambergris-related paintings. Using Steve Kilbey's art and also Hawk Alfredson, Scott Eagle, etc.

Saw it as I visited all the places that used to be my world, all the places I have been writing about in my little room with the green light. The dust-smudged window. Memories of floundering when you're already forever out of business.

Camera pans around the place, lingers on DETAILS (whatever is available)..

How could I not wind up at the gallery before I went back to my room? Sybel and I used to plan the next gallery show there. We used to talk about brushstrokes and who was talented who was just lucky.

Brief image of the TYPEWRITER, hands (tinged GREEN), ferociously typing away, but no sound of typing-just the GALLERY sounds. Background noise and the CHURCH's music. Montage of the images from the opening sequence after the beginning credit. Then back to the GALLERY scene. The GALLERY scene does not settle, does not become static. The camera lingers lovingly on all the details there, the WALLS, the PAINTINGS, everything. Perhaps even interspersed with how it was BEFORE, in the PAST-an overlay of people talking, even a ghost of PEOPLE WALKING through the gallery.

As I stood there, I thought: What strange creatures we are. We live, we love, we fight, we die, with such random joy and excitement and boredom, each of us as individual as a fingerprint and just as enigmatic. We make up stories to understand what's going on around us and then we tell ourselves they are true so we won't be scared anymore.

The camera stops, focused on the outside of the GALLERY as a whole, begins to pull back until the camera is pulling back not on the GALLERY DOOR but on the doorway filled with green light from the opening sequence, as if we are pulling back into the room where JANICE is typing.

To tell you the truth, I'm scared.

Back to TYPEWRITER. JANICE'S HANDS, a violent green. Close-up of JANICE'S HANDS, which seem oddly deformed.

I'm scared I won't finish this story of my life, this story of the city. I don't know if anyone understands how little time we have left.

Close-up of the PAPER she's typing on. The words she's typing are the word directly below, and the camera gets very close up, until only two words-"space" and "between"-are visible, and there's more white space than anything else.

I've put as many words between myself and the truth as I can, but it hasn't worked. There's a space between each word that I can't help but fall into, and those spaces are as wide as the words and twice as treacherous.

Looking out at the BAR PEOPLE, but they don't quite look human. The colors surrounding them are not quite natural.

Because the war didn't really need to touch us to change us, to hurt us.

The TYPEWRITER is stained by the green on JANICE'S FINGERS. There's the same KNOCKING SOUND in the background as during the war scenes. The BAR PEOPLE are even stranger now. JANICE'S EYE, darting, looking through the slit of green. Her HAND again, even worse. HER EYE. Looking out.

Tomorrow, or maybe, if I'm lucky, the next day, I'll be a different person. We'll all be different people.

Her EYE superimposed with the SKYLINE of the CITY in silhouette, a silhouette that is strangely organic and un-building-like.

And we'll walk out into a city that is nothing like the one we knew the day before. And we'll keep walking out. And the city will keep changing. And that might be all right. And it may not be…