Tuesday, June 30, 2009

1,000 Words for Charity - Nicky

Title: The Captain
Three words provided: zombie, martini, dirigible
Word count: 1,000
Fun fact: I pictured this as an animated short and attempted to write it as one.

Scene: The control room of the dirigible Righteous Liberty. The air is filled with the low hum of electrical equipment, emanating from the various polished brass dashboards arrayed in the background, and black swivel chairs have been placed strategically around the room. White fluffy clouds are visible through a floor-to-ceiling window at the right side of the camera frame.

In the foreground a zombie, facing the camera, is sitting with his feet resting on the bottom of a large, wooden steering wheel with a captain’s hat perched jauntily on his head. Black, straggly hair is bursting from underneath the crimson cap with a large gold star emblazoned on its front. The zombie has a martini glass in one hand and a microphone in the other.

Into the microphone: Ladies and gentlemen, this is a message from your newly… appointed captain, Zoltin Papp.

Zoltin pauses to sip his martini. A wan smile flickers across his face but vanishes before he places the glass on a metal ledge to his right and continues.

I realize that my rise from janitor to captain is unprecedented but I can assure you all that I am, if anything, overqualified for my new position. This thing practically flies itself, really. But enough about that; I have a few things I would like to take care of before I allow you to return to your afternoon festivities.

To begin, I would like to address the unpleasant rumors I’ve heard recently that our previous captain, Sir Tobias Wagner, had a head full of rocks. I would like to assure you all that…

The camera zooms out to find a man wearing a black captain‘s uniform seated on the floor, slumped against Zoltin‘s chair. The top of his head has been ripped open, his chin is resting on his chest, and his tongue is lying heavily upon his bottom lip.

Zoltin leans over and dips two fingers into the dead captain’s skull. He brings the fingers, covered with a dark viscous fluid, to his pale lips and sucks noisily without bothering to move the microphone away from his face.

… this is entirely untrue.

I would also like to take this opportunity to dispel some of the unfortunate… misconceptions circulating the ship about folks such as myself. Firstly, we are not the slow, dragging our feet everywhere we go, arms outstretched all the time types we have been made out to be.

He pauses to prod the captain with a bare foot.

Just ask old Toby here how fast I can be.

Secondly, we are not mindless, ravenous creatures, always hunting for more food. One body can sustain us for three or four days - a week if it is particularly corpulent. I think now is as good a time as any to remind you good folks that the all-you-can-eat buffet is now open 24 hours on deck three.

Zoltin plucks the aviator sunglasses sitting crookedly on Captain Wagner’s nose and places them reverently on his own face. Moments later he takes them off and flicks them off screen with a look of complete disdain.

Finally, as for the idea that we are poor public speakers: well… given my tendency to ramble on, I think the less said concerning that the better, don’t you? “Brains… brains…”? I mean, really now – that’s insensitive and insulting.

Before continuing on, may I ask the control room crew to please return to their stations? There are an awful lot of poorly labelled buttons down here and my curiosity is starting to get the better of me.

Zoltin pulls a cigar from Wagner’s shirt pocket and bites the end off, his uneven, red stained teeth revealed to the camera ever so briefly. He spits the piece onto Wagner’s lap and produces a book of matches from his own shirt pocket. After successfully lighting the cigar he lets it hang out of the left corner of his mouth and returns to his address.

Actually, while I’m at it – a quick note to Tomas, the head bartender. My glass is getting dangerously low right now and I’m still quite parched. Would you get… Johnny to bring me another? He’s a smart young fellow, good head on his shoulders. Two olives this time. Thanks.

I’d like to remind everyone that it has now been five short days since we set sail from Boston and we are still on schedule to arrive in two weeks at our final destination: Paris, The City of Lights.

He places two fingers into Wagner’s skull and stirs them in a lazy circle while staring absent-mindedly out a window which is off screen to his left.

I want the good travelers aboard this airship to be on their best behavior during our visit to this magical city. Try not to embarrass your good country more than your military, government, and previous tourists already have, alright? If word gets back to me about any obnoxious behavior, the offenders will not be stepping back on board my ship – except, perhaps, to be used as sustenance for yours truly.

A door opens along the back wall and control room crew members, dressed in matching pale brown shorts and button-up short-sleeve shirts, begin to slip back into the room one by one. They press their backs against the window and inch their way to their work stations, a mix of revulsion and terror on their faces.

In closing, thank you all for your undivided attention and I look forward to a comfortable, safe voyage for almost all of you. This is your new captain, Zoltin Papp, signing off.

As the screen begins to fade to black, Zoltin looks to his right, a wide smile splits his face in half, and his eyes glow with a dark hunger.

Ah, Johnny, perfect timing! Have a seat, won’t you? I have no earthly idea how these wonderful concoctions are made and I’d love to… pick your brain… on the matter.

The screen goes black and the credits begin to roll.


Greg said...

Well done! Lovely evocation, and I can picture this as an animation as well. I really liked the idea that the zombie would be using the Captain as a larder and was still continuing the voyage as though his mutiny had never happened.
How much fun you must have had writing it comes over slightly too, the humour is deliciously black and understated.


Marc said...

Thanks very much Greg, that's greatly appreciated.

And yes, I did quite enjoy having a go at black humour. I shall have to do some more of it, me thinks.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Ooh... That made me squirm a bit more than I'd normally like... But I liked muchly! I'm not a huge fan of dark, twisted humor, but I really liked this; I'm not sure if it was the apparent irony, or the fact that the situation was insanely bizarre, or something else.

I wonder if, later in, Doc Esco'll get that twisted. I'm kinda half-hoping so... cough cough prodding!cough ^^

Crazy Mo said...

Wonderful, Marc. I particularly enjoyed the cigar moment. The entire 'movie' was vivdly running through my head as I read this piece. I do hope someone animates this! I can see it in a gritty black and white.

Marc said...

g2 - hehe, yeah. That's pretty much the reaction I was going for :)

Crazy Mo - oh, thank you so much! I'm glad you liked the cigar bit, it was one of the last things I added in.

And I hope so too - perhaps I'll polish it up a bit and see what can be done with it :)

Anonymous said...

Tell to me, please - where to me to learn more about it?