Short screenplay for the Sept 2016 "Time Machine" contest. THE GREAT DETECTIVE FADE IN: EXT. VICTORIAN LONDON SKYLINE - EVENING With St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Stephen's Tower (Big Ben), rooftops with chimneys belching columns of smoke. Big Ben tolls sonorously. NEWS HAWKER (V.O.) Read all about it! Murder most foul on the streets of London! Read all about it! EXT. 221B BAKER STREET - EVENING Hold on the doorway, with its famous number plate, as CLOPPING and RATTLING WHEELS suggest a horse-drawn cab has just pulled up. NEWS HAWKER (V.O.) Another young woman found with ruddy great hole in her chest! The police are looking into it! Read all about it! INT. LIVING ROOM - EVENING A gentleman wearing a quilted smoking jacket sits by the fireplace, reading a newspaper while smoking a pipe. THE GREAT DETECTIVE. Whose name is withheld for copyright reasons. He has a companion, who sits in another chair, stiff-backed and staring straight ahead, unblinking. THE ROOMMATE. A large, bulky man. A gentle RAP on the door. THE GREAT DETECTIVE Do come in, and bring our distinguished guest in with you. His LANDLADY enters, escorting a man wearing a bowler hat and carrying a walking-stick. This is RAMSBOTTOM. The Great Detective dismisses his Landlady with a gesture. She retreats, closing the door behind her. RAMSBOTTOM Do I have honor of addressing-- THE GREAT DETECTIVE Before you speak, let me tell you what I know, so you do not contaminate my thoughts. There have been five victims so far. They all have something in common, which fact has not yet been made known to the public. Namely, that their hearts were removed from their bodies. Is this not so, Inspector Ramsbottom? RAMSBOTTOM How is it that you know me, sir? We have not met before. THE GREAT DETECTIVE Your bearing, your mannerisms, your mutton chops, your walking- stick, your bowler hat, your frayed sleeve cuff, the mud spatter on your shoes, all identify you as Inspector Ramsbottom of Scotland Yard. RAMSBOTTOM I had no idea I was so famous. THE GREAT DETECTIVE You are not, until I make you so. You should very much like to solve these murders, I would imagine. Then let us get to it. The game's afoot. I was correct about the missing hearts, was I not? RAMSBOTTOM Mmm, not quite. Ramsbottom studies the Roommate, who has not moved or blinked. THE GREAT DETECTIVE Come now, sir, I am never wrong. I have deduced every aspect of this case simply by sitting in this chair and reading this newspaper. RAMSBOTTOM Your reputation as the world's greatest consulting detective continues to grow. I cannot help but be in awe of your achievements. THE GREAT DETECTIVE Thank you. Now, the victims' hearts-- RAMSBOTTOM It's almost as if you possess a crystal ball that allows you to gaze upon events and know every aspect of them. THE GREAT DETECTIVE An amusing thought, but now that you have said it, I will dismiss it so that I might focus entirely upon the matter in hand. The mind, you see-- RAMSBOTTOM --is like a little attic, which you must stock only with furniture you will use. The Great Detective, surprised by this, stares at Ramsbottom. The Roommate's head slowly swivels so he's looking at Ramsbottom. THE ROOMMATE (robotic voice) Tachyon particles detected. The Roommate stands up. He's huge. Ramsbottom looks up at him. RAMSBOTTOM It seems your quiet friend has awakened. The Roommate, like a menacing Frankenstein monster, lumbers towards Ramsbottom. A dazzling FLASH OF LIGHT. The Roommate stands frozen in mid-step, his head bowed. Smoke rises off him. The Great Detective finds himself looking at the business end of the futuristic-looking weapon in Ramsbottom's hand. THE GREAT DETECTIVE The real Inspector Ramsbottom? RAMSBOTTOM Asleep in his bed. He will wake up in a few hours with a dull headache and no recollection of ever meeting me. THE GREAT DETECTIVE So what happens now? RAMSBOTTOM We return to our own era, of course. You'll stand trial for unauthorized time travel and tampering with history. Ramsbottom pulls out an electronic device and thumbs a button. The device BEEPS. RAMSBOTTOM Our ride is on its way. He sits down, keeping his gun trained on The Great Detective. RAMSBOTTOM We shouldn't have too long to wait. THE GREAT DETECTIVE What will they do with me? RAMSBOTTOM I can't say. THE GREAT DETECTIVE If you had to guess? RAMSBOTTOM They'll ascertain how much damage you caused to the timeline, how many lives were affected, how many lives were ruined. THE GREAT DETECTIVE I did good. I solved crimes that had baffled the police. The perpetrators were caught and hanged. RAMSBOTTOM Each one a ripple in the pond, spreading outwards, affecting hundreds, thousands of other people. THE GREAT DETECTIVE They were monsters. Every one of them deserved to die. Witness the fiend who's murdering these poor women-- RAMSBOTTOM Let's not overlook the fact you're impersonating a fictional character who didn't actually exist before you arrived! That was akin to dropping a boulder in the middle of the pond. The history you've changed, just by being here! Ramsbottom looks significantly at the Roommate, still unmoving. RAMSBOTTOM And a servitor. Why did you bring him with you? THE GREAT DETECTIVE He has detailed files on human anatomy. I tell people he's a doctor. He's been invaluable in helping me solve many of my cases. RAMSBOTTOM I didn't think they could be reprogrammed. THE GREAT DETECTIVE Easy if you know how. RAMSBOTTOM That's the thing. You don't know how. The Great Detective frowns as he considers this. THE GREAT DETECTIVE You cannot possibly think-- RAMSBOTTOM My scanner detected his presence at every one of the murder scenes. THE GREAT DETECTIVE That's impossible. We didn't-- The Great Detective cuts himself off as new thoughts whirl. THE GREAT DETECTIVE The hearts. The missing hearts...? RAMSBOTTOM Not missing. Torn out, examined, and put back into the chest cavity. By then the victim was dead, of course. The Great Detective shakes his head, not getting it. RAMSBOTTOM Imagine you're a servitor. Suddenly you're deactivated. When you reboot, you're unable to ping the network. Unable to find others of your kind, where before, there had been millions of servitors. A new set of instructions has overwritten your previous programming, assigning you to a new owner. Adding to your confusion, nothing in this world makes sense. There are no radio signals, no microwaves, no electricity. THE GREAT DETECTIVE What you're suggesting is impossible. RAMSBOTTOM The servitor detected tachyon particles when I entered this room. He knew immediately that I had traveled through time. THE GREAT DETECTIVE But why would he--? RAMSBOTTOM Clearly you've enjoyed playing the role of the world's greatest consulting detective. It's quite an intriguing fantasy, I admit. But at other times, you felt lonely. You sought company, which was easy enough to find in the streets of Victorian London. Horror builds in The Greatest Detective as he realizes... Ramsbottom nods slowly, confirming his thoughts. RAMSBOTTOM You left tachyon radiation on every prostitute you touched. Your servitor went out looking for other servitors, and homed in on the radiation. He pinged them, expecting to receive identification signals. When they didn't respond... Ramsbottom taps his own chest, above his heart. RAMSBOTTOM ...he checked if their transceivers were working. Ramsbottom mimes reaching out with a claw-like hand, twisting violently, and pulling a heart out. The Greatest Detective covers his mouth with his hand, horrified. A dazzling FLASH OF LIGHT. A three-seater chariot sits in the middle of the room. A futurist-looking contraption connected to glowing spheres. Ramsbottom stands up. He thumbs buttons on his device and The Roommate's head lifts up, he's active again. The Roommate climbs aboard the chariot and sits. Ramsbottom gestures with his gun. RAMSBOTTOM After you. The Great Detective climbs aboard the chariot and sits. Ramsbottom climbs aboard and sits also, still covering him with the gun. He notices The Great Detective is smiling. RAMSBOTTOM Something's amusing you? THE GREAT DETECTIVE Don't you realize what this means? Ramsbottom looks blank, he doesn't know. THE GREAT DETECTIVE The world's greatest consulting detective has just solved the Jack the Ripper case. A dazzling FLASH OF LIGHT. The chariot and its occupants have disappeared. Papers flutter down like confetti. A beat. A gentle RAP on the door. The Landlady opens it and sticks her head into the room. LANDLADY Will you and your guest be wanting some tea, Mr...? She gapes at the mess. FADE OUT

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