WRITING SAMPLE 1 – from Mindgame
By Ron Hendricks
EXT. KUWAIT CITY SCRAP YARD -NIGHT
Not long after the first Gulf War two shadowy figures sneak along a chain link fence.
DIMITRI holds up the bottom of the fence so MICHAEL can slither under. Next it is DIMITRI’s turn, but his butt is too big. MICHAEL slides out and they try it in reverse order. Success…
I think it’s this way…
MICHAEL and DIMITRI approach an old yellow school bus half hidden with canvas. They force open the door and climb inside.
MICHAEL and DIMITRI flip on their flashlights and look around. All but the driver seat is removed and there are a few empty crates in the corner. Keys dangle from the dash and a padlocked panel is cut into the floor.
Well… what have we here?
Dogs begin barking in the warehouse office. MICHAEL and DIMITRI freeze. Foreign shouting is heard over the dogs. A door opens and the dogs get louder and closer!
Do you suppose they’re friendly?
I’m not waiting to find out!
MICHAEL leaps into the driver seat, grabs the lever arm handle and slams the door shut just as two Dobermans lunge. Their slobbering jaws and snarling teeth leave streaks on the dirty glass.
MICHAEL turns the key and pushes the starter button. It cranks slowly. Rrrr… The GUARDS are getting closer. Rrrr…
Come on, come on…
The old engine purrs to life. MICHAEL throws it into second and takes off. DIMITRI is launched onto the floor. MICHAEL cranks the wheel left and heads for the padlocked gates.
MICHAEL double clutches and grinds through the gears. He can barely see out the front window because of the canvas. It flaps, billows and snags on scrap metal as the bus picks up speed. Junk flies everywhere.
DIMITRI attempts to secure a seat on one of the empty crates. He holds on for dear life as the crate slides back and forth.
The GUARDS fire warning shots with their automatic weapons. Running back to the warehouse, they leap into a humvee with a distinctive LOGO on the door. The humvee engine cranks over several times before starting. They peel out.
Another GUARD is yelling into the telephone. He slams the receiver down and races out the door. He is nearly run over by his compatriots in the humvee! He curses at them and then jumps into a second vehicle to give chase.
Ke-rash! The bus hurtles through the locked gates. A large chunk of canvas shreds off onto the barbed wire. MICHAEL turns right and heads for the deserted streets. Screee… the bus tilts sideways as it careens onto the pavement.
I/E YELLOW SCHOOL BUS -NIGHT
With the guards in hot pursuit, the bus barrels into the night. Up ahead, a few VENDORS are setting out their wares and preparing their stalls for the day’s market.
Where are the damn lights??
MICHAEL frantically toggles the light switch, but to no avail.
Do you want to drive??
MICHAEL lays on the horn. The VENDORS look up just in time to leap out of the way. Their stalls are demolished and their wares go flying. DIMITRI stumbles to the back window and calls out.
More vehicles join the pursuit, firing automatic weapons. DIMITRI dives to the bus floor and slithers up front.
They’re on to us!
Ya think so??
The chase continues through empty streets, down alleyways, around corners, up onto sidewalks, etc. At the outskirts of town the pursuers suddenly lose interest. Up ahead there is a hand-lettered sign.
I think it says MINES!…
They look at each for a second and then MICHAEL jams on the brakes. The bus halts in a cloud of dust. Nobody breathes for a long exaggerated moment. Then they both exhale loudly.
Pulling out his gun, MICHAEL trains his flashlight on the padlocked access panel. He takes aim.
What are you doing comrade?
Shooting the lock off! I’ve seen them do it in movies!
Why not just use key?
Key? What key?
DIMITRI points his flashlight at the bus dashboard. Dangling from the ignition key ring are two other keys.
I thought those were just extras.
Let us find out!
DIMITRI grabs the keys and bounds to the padlocked access panel. He kneels on the bus floorboards and tries a key in the padlock. It doesn’t fit. He tries the other. It does.
MICHAEL gets up, strides to DIMITRI and grabs his hands.
Wait a minute!
Suppose it’s booby-trapped!?
Comrade… We just drove half dozen atomical bombs through city at ten times speed limit with no lights going and guns chasing us. We are in field of mines with no way out.
I hope it is booby trap!
Okay… since you put it that way…
DIMITRI turns the key and pops the lock off. MICHAEL grabs one side of the access panel with his fingernails and DIMITRI grabs the other side. They look at each other and slowly lift.
The lid falls backwards with a clang. MICHAEL and DIMITRI shine their flashlights into the storage compartment. It is empty. They sit back against the bus walls and say nothing.
Finally, MICHAEL breaks the silence.
I wonder if they hang bus thieves in Kuwait?
Let’s get those lights fixed and have a look around.
MICHAEL and DIMITRI stand and dust themselves off. MICHAEL gingerly steps out of the bus. Hugging the sides, he makes his way to the front to inspect the lights.
DIMITRI sits down and flips the light switch. Nothing happens. He shines his flashlight under the dash and spots two dangling wires. He touches the bare ends together. The lights come on and then…
KA-BOOM!! The bus explodes in a ball of flames.
On Sunday, May 1st we found ourselves in Yangshuo. In a word, fantastic. Karst mountains pop up out of nowhere (take a look at the photo). Like waking up in a fairytale. When we got off the bus from Guilin we started walking in the right direction. Wrong. We learned later that the Bamboo House Hostel is just a short walk from the depot. When we reached the edge of town we spotted three other lost foreigners. Two from France and one from Germany. Forutunately, the young French girl speaks excellent Putonghua (Mandarin) and was able to negotiate a ride in a tricycle truck for only four times the going price. But then there were five of us and it was getting hot. After taking us over hill and dale and cutting through every back alley in Guangxi Province we finally arrived at our destination. A vacant lot. The driver couldn’t get his trike to haul our fat asses any further so we had to carry our suitcases to the hostel. Anyway, I cut the original price of 20 yuan down to 10 and ended up only paying twice the price.
After checking in, a cold shower and a nap we had supper at Cafe China on West Street. Now let me tell you about West Street. As far as I’m concerned it is the coolest street that I have found in China so far. Yes, still a little dirty, (a clean street by Chinese standards) but lined with cool shops and great bistros and bars. Foreign languages everywhere with people to match. Wonderful Chinese and Western food. Young backpackers, families, tour groups and tons of Chinese hoping to practice their English. We joined up with a group of travelers from, uh let’s see, Holland, Germany, Israel, Canada and one USAlien (yours truly). Most of us were teaching English either in China or Japan, but a few of us had real jobs and a few of us had no jobs. Oh, okay, professional tourists. Anyway, it was fun.
The next morning (closer to noon) we rented a couple of bikes and took the self-guided tour. Actually, we spotted a couple who had hired a guide for the day and we sneaked along behind them. They finally eluded us somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. But it was cool. No, actually it was getting hot. I spotted a river that had a few local boys bobbing in it and I dove in. I dove out again fairly quickly because the current was stronger than I thought. It was enough to cool down though.
The next day, for some reason, we got on bikes again. Now, let me just say that it is one thing to ride a bike the next day when you are young. It is quite another to ride a back the next day when you are, umm, chronologically challenged. I sat on one cheek, then the other, then I stood on the pedals and then I got off. We were with “the Yangshuo Gang” so I wasn’t able to lag “behind” for too long.
That’s all for now.