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By admin | January 22, 2008

The Disciples of Apollo

A screenplay by Josh Lacey and Eric Brown

Interior: day.

A doctor’s study.

Two men are facing each other across a desk.

Doctor: I’m sorry…

Maitland: How long?

Doctor: At least six months, perhaps even as many as nine.

Maitland: How will I know when…?

Doctor: For two days beforehand you’ll feel drowsy, lethargic-

Maitland: And pain?

Doctor: I can assure you that your condition is quite painless.

Maitland: I suppose I should be thankful for small mercies.

Doctor: There’s a retreat for sufferers of the Syndrome. Because of the highly unusual nature of the disease, you’re advised to spend your final weeks there. Of course, you can go before then, if you wish. Your family will be able to visit you-

Maitland: I have no family.

Doctor: Then Farrow Island might be perfect.

Interior: day.

The front room of a big house. Maitland stands amid piled packing cases. He picks up a book from an open box and leafs through it. His lips move as he reads a poem. He slips the book into his pocket and looks around the room with an air of great sadness.

Exterior: day.

Maitland stands on the desk of a ferry, leaning on the rail and staring across the sea. He is surrounded by fellow passengers. A child shouts and is chased by another. Maitland turns to watch.

He sees a bitter looking woman leaning against the rail a few feet away and catches her eye.

Maitland: Are you going to Portland House?

The woman stares at him as if horrified. She looks around for her children, grabs them and drags them away. Maitland watches them go, something dying in his eyes.

Exterior: day.

A quayside. The passengers disembark from the ferry. Among them is Maitland. He sees a big car parked on the cobbles, with a grey-haired, middle-aged woman standing beside it. She is Dr Masters. She lifts a hand to acknowledge him and he crosses towards her. They shake hands.

Dr Masters: Pleasant crossing?

Maitland smiles but says nothing.

Dr Masters gestures for him to climb into the passenger seat. Maitland hesitates, looking back towards the ferry.

Maitland: Aren’t we waiting for the others?

Dr Masters: Others? The other passengers are Islanders. You’re my only new resident this week.

The car draws away from the quay.

The car drives through leafy lanes.

Dr Masters: You’ll find all you need at Portland House, Mr Maitland. We’ve been caring for sufferers of the syndrome for almost two years now. We’re the only specialised facility in Britain.

Maitland nods and says nothing.

Exterior: day.

A huge mansion in rolling lawns. The car pulls up before the steps. Dr Masters and Maitland climb out and climb the steps.

Interior: day.

We see Masters and Maitland in various rooms: a dining hall, a library, a day room. These rooms are populated by a broad cross-section of citizen, men and women of all ages, races.

Interior: day.

Maitland stands before a big window, staring out. Men and women stroll across the sunlit lawn.

Dr Masters brings him a cup of tea and stands beside him.

Maitland: I must admit, it isn’t anything like I imagined it might be.

Dr Master: What did you imagine? Some appalling Victorian institution? Screaming inmates?

Maitland: I don’t know… They all seem to be… well adjusted, I suppose.

Dr Masters: We have extensive counselling sessions, one-to-one and group therapy. We’ll go over your treatment once you’ve settled in.

Maitland: Treatment? You make it sound as though there might be a cure.

Dr Masters: No cure, Mr Maitland. Only psychological assistance, I suppose you might call it.

Maitland turns away and stares through the window.

Int day.

Maitland sits alone in his bedroom. A book of poems is open on his lap. He stares at the words without reading. He is weeping.

Exterior: day.

Maitland is marching down a country lane, away from Portland House.

Exterior: day.

Maitland walks down the main street of a small village. He notices that people cross the road to avoid him.

Interior: day.

Maitland is standing at the bar of a public house, waiting to be served. People enter and are served before him. Others cast him suspicious glances. The publican comes around the bar and whispers something to Maitland. We see Maitland consider replying. Instead, he turns and leaves.

Interior: evening.

The dining hall. Maitland is seated at a table with ten other people. He eats quietly, saying nothing, but listening to the conversation around him.

First woman: We’re chosen, of course.

Second woman: Mary is right. We are chosen. We’re special. Why else would our God decide to create the syndrome, if not to select those he considers special?

Diners around the table nod and murmur agreement.

Across from Maitland, an old man who looks like a retired Major, catches Maitland’s gaze and raises his eyes to heaven.

Major: So we’re selected, are we? How nice. But selected for what, exactly? Far as I can see, we die like every other Tom, Dick or Harry on the blessed planet! Only difference is in the manner of our going.

The other diners murmurs protests and look shocked.

First woman: We are selected, major. We are the Disciples of Apollo. There is a reason why have the syndrome. We will find out that reason when are finally taken-

Maitland: There is no reason for what we have. It’s a freak, an accident, a cellular mutation. We’re just as likely to be disciples of the Devil as we are to be the chosen ones of your God. In my opinion we are neither.

Major: Here, here!

The first woman stares at Maitland.

First woman: But how can you continue, Mr Maitland? How do you manage to live from day to day if you believe in nothing?

Maitland shakes his head and leaves the table.

Interior: day.

The library. Maitland is sitting alone, reading. He is reading the same book that he brought from his house.

Dr Masters enters the room and take a seat beside him.

Dr Masters: Have you given any thought to the therapy sessions? We have experts who can help.

Maitland: Help? How? How the hell can you help me regain what I’ve never had.

Dr Masters flinches.

Dr Masters: If you’d care to talk about it?

Maitland: No, no. I’d rather not. It’s too late, now, don’t you think?

Dr Masters: It’s never too late. It would do you good to mix a little more with the other residents. We all need the company of others.

Maitland turns away and regards the window.

Maitland: I need no-one.

Interior: day.

The dining room. Maitland notices a young woman at the table. She seems alive in a way that none of the others are. Her manner is bright, vivacious. She smiles and laughs.

Interior: day.

Maitland is in the library, staring out. He sees the young woman again. She is striding across the lawn. She sees him and waves. He half lifts his hand in a wave, then lets it fall to his side. He resumes his chair and takes up his book of poetry.

A shadow falls across him. He looks up.

The young woman points to a chess board on a nearby table.

Young woman: Can I give you a game?

Maitland looks surprised.

Maitland: Well…

Young woman: I play, you know.

Maitland smiles.

Maitland: I’m sorry.

They set up the chess pieces and play.

Maitland: Who are you visiting?

Young woman: Excuse me?

Maitland: I saw you talking to the Major. Are you a relative?

The woman looks at him. She shakes her head.

Young woman: I’m a resident. I’ve been diagnosed with the syndrome.

She reaches out a hand.

Young woman: I’m Caroline. Call me Carrie.

Maitland looks stricken. After a second he takes her hand above the board.

Maitland: Maitland. Daniel Maitland.

Carrie: Mind if I call you Dan, Dan?

Maitland smiles.

They continue with the game.

Carrie: You’re not like the others. You’ve not given in…

Maitland smiles and shakes his head.

Maitland: How do you know I haven’t given in long ago?

Carrie: Not you. There’s something about you… The other fools have given in, one way or another – gone stark staring mad or joined that crackpot cult.

Maitland: And how do you cope?

Carrie stares at him.

Carrie: I don’t.

Exterior: day.

Carrie and Maitland are walking across the lawn, talking.

Carrie: I was a nurse in the real world. You?

Maitland: A teacher, for my sins. English.

Carrie: I saw you reading. I’m a great reader. I love poetry.

Maitland stops and stares at her.

Maitland: You do?

They continue walking.

Interior: night.

Maitland’s room. He is sitting in an armchair, reading. He hears a knock at the door. It opens. Carrie appears, timorously.

Carrie: I hope you don’t mind. I couldn’t sleep. I need to talk.

Maitland: Of course.

She stares at him from across the room. Maitland stands, and Carrie rushes into his arms.

Interior: night.

Carrie and Maitland lie in bed, holding each other.

Carrie: I’m so bloody frightened, Dan. I don’t want to die.

Maitland: Shh…

Exterior: day.

Carrie and Maitland stand side by side on the lawn, looking out to sea, their arms around each other. It is cold. They are both wrapped up well, against the biting wind.

Maitland: Winter’s on its way, Carrie.

Carrie: I could never have survived without you.

Maitland kisses her.

Exterior: day.

Winter has arrived. The lawn is snow covered. Two figures emerge from the house. Maitland is limping. He is supported by Carrie.

They cross the virgin expanse of snow.

They pause. Maitland turns and stares at their footprints leading from the doorway. He stares ahead, at the unspoilt snow before them. He smiles.

He points ahead, to where a small, stone-built shelter looks out to sea. Slowly, they make their way towards it and sit down.

Exterior: day.

In the shelter. They sit side by side, holding each other.

Maitland: You should go back.

Carrie: Shh…

Maitland: You still have months to live…

Carrie: As if I could live without you!

Maitland rises his hands, stares at it as if in wonder.

Maitland: I can feel it. The heat.

Carrie takes his hand and kisses it.

Carrie: Years ago we wouldn’t have known we were ill. We wool have… gone, suddenly, without all these months of-

She breaks down and cries.

Carrie: Why? Why did they have to tell us?

Maitland holds her closer.

Maitland: Modern medicine. They can diagnose it now. They know when it’s going to happen. Given that knowledge, they have to inform the sufferer. Otherwise we could go at any time, anywhere, endangering others besides ourselves. There are many more of us now. The Syndrome has reached almost epidemic proportions.

Carrie: Oh, Dan. If things could have been different. If only we could have met years ago.

Maitland: I thought you were doing rather well.

Carrie: I was so scared, Dan. The only way I could stay sane was to pretend I wasn’t affected. Being seen as unafraid by others gave me strength, confidence. Can you understand that? Then I met you and found someone who wasn’t afraid…

Maitland looks pained.

Maitland: I was afraid, Carrie. You were what gave me strength…

They embrace.

Exterior: twilight.

The snow-covered lawn, with the shelter. There is a sudden roar of flame, and a flare of orange light, illuminating the snow.


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