Interior, a Midwest Diner in the early 1940’s (perhaps filmed in sepia-tone to suggest this),
mid-morning, springtime. LINDA, a comely waitress, pours coffee at the counter
to a few grizzled regulars; SLIM, a potato farmer, JERRY, an Aluminum Siding salesman,
and KIT, a paperboy. Well, the paperboy isn’t grizzled, but you get the point.
There are other people at the tables eating their eggs, occasionally
LINDA makes her rounds to check on them. MARY, a little old lady,
sits in a window table of the diner and eats a bowl of oatmeal peaceably
Yeah. Already too hot to sell. I’ve been around the whole town, no one wants anything aluminum in this heat.
If we’re not careful the crops’ll burn in this blazing sunlight.
Good thing that what you got grows underground, right Slim?
A pause. Kit laughs nervously
Shut up, kid.
But he says it with a secret glower in his eyes – is he hiding something?
How’s the baby, Linda?
That’s real sweet of ya to ask, Jerry, she’s doin’ just fine. Still sleeping real intermittent-like, but me and Bud have been taking turns with her, and little Nancy’s been helping out, too. She’s just cute as a button, we can’t really fault her for havin’ some trouble sleeping. Especially in this heat.
That’ll all be over when the aliens come, dear.
They all laugh, she’s a crazy old woman
What’s that, Mary? What’ll the aliens do for Linda’s baby?
They’re going to zap her with their heat rays, instantly cooking her little flesh at a temperature higher than any God-Given stove, until she turns to a molten pile of blood and baby shoes right before our very eyes!
Well thanks, Mary. I guess then I’ll have less trouble getting her to sleep!
Big guffaws from the entire diner, interrupted by a foundation-shaking CRASH
What was that?
I told you they were coming.
This is ridiculous, Slim, let’s investigate this.
Wordlessly, Slim gets up and grabs his pitchfork. The entire diner follows
Um, guys? Guys?
EXT: The Good Times Diner, a cornfield outside.
A massive cylindrical aluminum structure lies smoldering in the scorched grass.
The occupants of the Good Times Diner crowd around it fearfully.
Cars are stopping on the road, a good-sized crowd has gathered in front
of this charred meteorite, which seems to be … shimmering in the mid-day heat.
What … is … that?
skinny schoolmarm type
Those news reports... about the strange explosions on Mars…
her pudgy husband
The ones they said proved the existence of sentient ..., and possibly …, hostile Martian life...
clinging to him in an anguished wail
Oh Herb! It’s them!! It’s the Martians!!! Don’t let them take me, Herb! I have so much life left to live!!
I’ll save you, Norah!
SAVE THE CHLDREN, HERB!!!!!!!
The group suddenly hushes from the melodrama of HERB AND NORAH,
as the metal structure shudders and the top slowly screws open
A lot of CLOSE-UPS on terror-ridden faces.
At this point the stage directions begin to be heard
in VOICE OVER by a passionate ERNST
The townspeople reel in unimaginable horror as out of the spaceship emerges a glistening, throbbing, tentacled, gelatinous mass of … purple, and pink, and green and sickly yellow … so indescribably horrible I can’t even describe it … for one hellish instance they look upon this otherworldly nightmare, and then …
A laser beam shoots out of the spacecraft and incinerates a housewife on the spot! Men faint! Women scream! It’s chaos!
Exactly what he says is happening is happening
A chicken coop has exploded in the madness! Chickens fly everywhere! They fly past the spaceship and are barbecued on the spot! The alien eats them, providing sauce of his own making. Everyone is covered in feathers!! The waitress rips off her top and tries to run through the crowd, screaming ...
I’ve got to save my baby!!!
People are being incinerated left and right in gigantic flashes of green light! Piles of ashes are everywhere, where the townspeople used to be. We hear a bone-chilling giggle from behind the crowd …
Mary, giggling like a schoolgirl, walks with open arms towards the spacecraft.
She is incinerated on the spot.
But the old lady’s laugh continues even after she is a pile of soot! The entire town is being leveled now, as clone spaceships fly in to demolish buildings with their laser beams.
We see the spaceships fly in and a few buildings fall, and then we DISSOLVE TO
INT: THE OFFICES OF BEYOND BELIEF, 1957
ERNST ROBEL stands on his desk, his beer belly bulging out of his
Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts, holding forth to his colleagues,
who are in various degrees of rapture. He is sweat soaked and possibly a little tipsy.
It is a sweltering New Jersey July, and fans litter the office.
Mankind’s only hope in the midst of this rubble is Kit, the plucky newsboy! He stands, covered in burnmarks but still standing, clutching a sobbing, voluptuous young girl, and shouts into the laser-riddled air. “I will SAVE THE EARTH from you, ALIEN DEMONFLESH!!! We will SAVE THE EARTH FOR LINDA’S BABY!!”
A dramatic pause
a Ukranian ice-princess, perched on a desk
I thought Linda’s baby was dead already.
It doesn’t matter. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the greatest story I’ve ever photographed for Beyond Belief. Entirely my idea. It swamped New Jersey.
who is reclining upside-down in his office chair, like a weasel
At least the parts of New Jersey who HADN’T heard War of the Worlds the year before
That Catholic cocksucker stole that story from ME!! We were drunk in a bar together in 1937, and I TOLD him that story. Not my fault he had the hoity toity “actor friends” to pull it off before I DID. If I ever get my hands on that rotten, fake Limey sonovabitch I’m going to…
He is interrupted by a knock on the door.
CUT TO: INT: THE HALLWAY OUTSIDE THE OFFICE
KYLE DERWENT; handsome, fresh-faced, idealistic, twenty-something,
out of breath from climbing the stairs, stands
readying himself outside the door of the Beyond Belief offices
Okay Kyle Derwent, boy reporter, you’re gonna wow ‘em in there. You’re gonna revitalize journalism for ever.
The door opens to reveal the voluptuous LINA
(gulps) Um … ma’am? Let me introduce myself, my name is Kyle Derwent, and I just graduated from City Journalism College. I was wondering if I could speak to your editor.
Enjoying her hormonal effect
Oh sure, boy. He’s right in here. Why don’t you come on in?
INT: THE OFFICE
LINA parades her new catch through the desks as ERNST, MARCO,
AND MANDY throw ideas around from semi-reclined positions.
ERNST sits on his desk, his feet swinging jauntily under his belly.
MARCO remains in his upside-down weasel position.
MANDY sits at her desk like a human being.
Well, it doesn’t matter who came up with that story. What matters is what stories are we going to print tomorrow.
We could always do a Bigfoot story. “Sighted in Prospect Park – Creates Strange Urban Crop Circles”. The moon is in Sagittarius right now, these sort of things happen.
We’ve done 20 Bigfoot stories in the last month. I’m reusing stock footage. Unacceptable. Think of something else.
There’s always “Footed Monkey Men Loose in Jersey City.”
“There’s Always Footed Monkey Men Loose in Jersey City.” We’re writing headlines in the infinitive now? How is that news, if they’re always there?
Marco doesn’t get the grammar joke
Suddenly we hear a snarling voice booming out of the Editor’s office. It is KIRBY.
NO MORE BIGFOOT STORIES!! NO MORE CROP CIRCLES, NO MORE PHONEY MONKEY MEN!! I AM TIRED OF SITTING HERE AND LISTENING TO YOU YAK ABOUT THE SAME OLD BAD IDEAS. I HIRE YOU PEOPLE TO BE CREATIVE, AND YOU GIVE ME THIS SHIT? I PRACTICALLY WRITE THIS ENTIRE DAMN NEWSPAPER BY MYSELF! NOBODY’S GOING TO BELIEVE US ANYWAYS, NOW STOP PUSSY-FOOTING AROUND, AND GIVE ME SOMETHING INTERESTING, OR I’LL RIP EVERY LAST HAIR OFF OF YOUR BODIES, ONE BY ONE!
What was that?
That’s our editor. Time to meet him now.
CUT TO: INT: KIRBY’S OFFICE.
Papers, coffee cups, broken pencils and beer bottles litter the floor of this office,
the inhabitant of which clearly seems to practically live in.
Hunched behind a too-small desk like a hungry pitbull is
KIRBY; 54, Veteran of the Pacific Theater in WWII (not that she’d admit it),
alcoholic (which she’d gladly admit),
slightly more put together than a character from a Bukowski novel,
but not by much, the Editor of Beyond Belief. She snarls at LINA without looking up.
What d’ya want, woman?
I have someone to see you, Mr. Kirby.
If it’s that no-good accountant again, will you please tell the sonovabitch that I will pay my darling ex-husband his alimony when I can fuckin’ get around to paying his fucking alimony, and not one second earlier, no matter how many times he sends his goons over to squeeze me.
It’s not the accountant, Mr. Kirby.
He looks up
Well, who is it, then?
She notices Kyle in his starched new suit
Aw, shit. Who’s suing me this time?
No one’s suing you, ma'am. My name is Kyle Derwent, I just graduated from City Journalism College, and I’d like to work for your newspaper.
Excuse me, you’re name is Kyle Derwent, like the pencils?
Um, I guess so, ma'am. I never knew about the pencils, it’s an English name…
Okay, so you’re named after a fine writing utensil, you just graduated from fucking journalism school, and you want to work for my newspaper?
Confused and taken aback
Um … yes, ma'am. I have a resume right here.
You must have the wrong building, honey. This isn’t a newspaper I run here, it’s a Den of Sin and Iniquity
Excuse me, ma'am?
We publish a worthless rag full of sensationalist bullshit that sells for five cents to bored housewives at the supermarket. Stories about Bigfoot. Titillating the unwashed masses, teaching them nothing. Unworthy to wrap your fish in. This is no place for a journalism student.
A suprising reserve of courage
Excuse me, ma'a,m, but I think on the contrary I’d be quite helpful to your newspaper. I was a creative writing minor in college, I have four younger siblings at home, all of which I made up stories for, and journalism school taught me to put this creativity into a fresh, solid article, which, quite frankly, ma'am, it seems you could use.
KIRBY is unimpressed.
Oh, you part of the revolution? You been to school in the big city, you read your Ginsberg and now you’re gonna change the way the world reads?
Why are you desperate?
KYLE is uncomfortable
It’s all right. We’ll get to dark secrets in due time.
KIRBY stands and stretches her cramped arms
The coffee pot’s in the corner of the main office, Kyle. Make us a fresh pot. Looks like it’s time to check on the troops.
THEY GO OUT THE DOOR TO
INT: THE MAIN OFFICE.
MARCO has shifted his position to being upright in his chair.
All other positions are the same.
Okay, whattaya got?
A man with bat wings terrorizes Wayne, New Jersey.
So like Batman, but fucking stupid?
What about a bat-boy?
Raised by bats in the wilds of Transylvania. Somehow developed prehensile wing-like structures. Now terrorizes cities because he never had … All American, Maternal Love?
That I can do.
Hopping off the desk.
Well, Lina, put on your “terrorized citizen” makeup. We’ve got some shooting to do.
The office settles in to bustling work.
KIRBY looks at KYLE and smiles
We start around 8 in the morning. Welcome to the family, Baby Kyle.
Gesturing to his suit
Get yourself some new threads.
KIRBY returns to her office and slams the door in a satisfied way
LINA cozies up to KYLE
Welcome, Baby Kyle. You are, how we say in the Old Country, “cute”.
He stares at her as she follows ERNST to the door.
Without looking up from her typewriter
I would be careful with that one.
What are you talking about?
Leaning back in her chair.
First thing you learn when writing a tabloid, if something looks too good to be true, it's probably playing dumb in hopes you'll drop some incriminating information about why you're here. You seem like a nice kid, and I don’t want you getting burned.
Back to her work
That’s all I’m gonna say. Welcome to Beyond Belief, Kyle. Nice to have you around.
Thanks, um …
He realizes he hasn’t learned her name
Extending her hand
Mandy Woods, feature writer. Nice to meet you.
Kyle Derwent, um …
Boy reporter? Don’t worry, we’re all strange here.
He smiles, then goes to make the pot of coffee. She resumes her typing
A book falls out of his jacket pocket in front of her desk.
CLOSE UP, book on floor
It is a well-loved dimestore paperback with a lurid painting of a spaceship on the cover.
The title, Spiders from Mars is written in bright red script across the cover.
The author is M.A. Wood.
Kyle grins embarrassedly
Just something to read on the subway. Market research, you know?
But it’s clear he has read this book more times than he’s taken the subway.
He picks the book up and stuffs it back in his pocket.
In his chagrin he does not notice that MANDY is white-faced. She manages a smile.
Yeah. I know.
CUT TO: INT, KIRBY’S OFFICE
KIRBY sits at the desk,poring over a mock up of the next day’s layout.
We hear a high-pitched whine, increasing in intensity, as KIRBY grimaces and crumples at her desk.
She closes her eyes and we see a flash of green light.
Back in her office, KIRBY’S hand gropes blindly in her desk drawerfor a small glass decanting
bottle of clear liquid and an eyedropper.
She manages to get the bottle open, forces the eyedropper in
and, struggling, brings the eyedropper to her tongue.
CUT TO: INT, MAIN OFFICE
WE HEAR A KNOCK ON THE DOOR
CUT TO: INT, HALLWAY, FACING DOOR
MANDY opens door
CUT TO BLACK