This is an excerpt (first 20 pages) of a completed screenplay.
"Night Surfer" - screenplay by Derek Paterson. FADE IN: EXT. EAST CHINA SEA - NIGHT Deathly still. The outline of several small islands on the horizon. A darker, more solid smudge of mainland faces the islands. Title: EAST CHINA SEA, PRESENT DAY. A MODERN WARSHIP speeds through the night, her bow wake a splash of white. No bridge lights or running lights, she's totally blacked out. No flag, either. Small and compact, she carries a 4-inch forward gun. BEHIND THE WARSHIP Three patrol boats of the People's Navy in hot pursuit. Their searchlights sweep the seas ahead, finally hitting THE WARSHIP stands out starkly in the searchlight beams. She swerves wildly but the beams stay with her. UP AHEAD Two more People's Navy patrol boats move to intercept. PATROL BOAT BRIDGE The CHINESE CAPTAIN raises his binoculars and looks ahead. CAPTAIN (in Cantonese) Man the deck gun. PATROL BOAT GUN DECK The GUN CREW man their stations and aim the cannon. PATROL BOAT BRIDGE The Captain lifts a radio mike and speaks perfect English. CAPTAIN (CONT'D) (into mike) American warship. Check your global navigation system. I think you will find you are in Chinese waters. Stop your engines and stand by to be boarded. THE WARSHIP Flares positioned along her length create a thick oily cloud of smoke that lies heavy on the water. THE PATROL BOAT CAPTAIN (CONT'D) (into mike) We have you on radar. This is the last warning you will receive. Cut your engines and heave to. THE WARSHIP makes no attempt to cut her engines. THE PATROL BOAT opens fire! A thunderous BANG shakes the night. THE WARSHIP is drenched in the wave from the EXPLOSION that erupts perilously close to her bows. The water strips away her smoke cover, exposing her. HER FORWARD GUN blazes as she returns fire! A defiant KA-BOOM. A patrol boat EXPLODES, showering flame and debris. PATROL BOAT BRIDGE The explosion illuminates the bridge interior. The windows SHATTER, flying glass strikes the Captain. He puts a hand to his face, covering one eye. Blood seeps through his fingers. A CREWMAN is also wounded and has to be helped off the bridge. CAPTAIN (CONT'D) (in Cantonese) All patrol boats open fire! THE PATROL BOATS open up with everything they've got, lighting up the night. THE WARSHIP is caught in the middle of a withering barrage. EXPLOSIONS rip her stern housing apart. Flames spread rapidly, the smoke adding to the smoke from the flares. PATROL BOAT BRIDGE CAPTAIN (CONT'D) (in Cantonese) All patrol boats are ordered to pursue and destroy! THE WARSHIP burning furiously, she makes for open sea, trailing a curtain of smoke behind her. EXPLOSIONS continue to bracket her, narrowly missing their target. COMMAND NET (FILTERED) (in Cantonese) We are moving into international waters. PATROL BOAT BRIDGE CAPTAIN (in Cantonese) Continue pursuit! THE WARSHIP is swallowed by the smoke screen. The fires raging along her stern burn angry red through the smoke. COMMAND NET (FILTERED) (in Cantonese) We have left territorial waters. The Captain opens his mouth to speak into his radio mike... then pauses... and lowers the mike. THE WARSHIP disappears into the night. PATROL BOAT BRIDGE CAPTAIN (in Cantonese) Break off pursuit. All boats break off pursuit. AN ANGRY VOICE takes over the Radio Command Net. COMMAND NET (FILTERED) You will lose your rank for this, Captain Liu! The Captain, LIU, half-blinded, stares out to sea after the American warship, hatred twisting his face. FADE TO BLACK: LAPPING WATER FADE IN: EXT. U.S. NAVAL SUPPLY BASE, MANILA, PHILLIPINES - DAY Ships of all shapes and sizes. Personnel numbered in thousands. EXT. HOSPITAL - DAY Among the many visitors, LT. JANE "LACE" LACEY, wearing her whites. She possesses a Marilyn Monroe beauty that turns heads and a depth of intelligence that frightens most men away. Lacey salutes the Marine SENTRY on her way in. INT. HOSPITAL RECEPTION - DAY Lacey shows her ID badge. LACEY Admiral William Lacey. The DESK NURSE consults her computer. DESK NURSE Second floor, follow the signs to North Ward. He's in Room Ten. INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - DAY Lacey marches around the corridor, oblivious to MEDICAL STAFF and PATIENTS all around her. She stops outside a door numbered "10." Takes a deep breath-- INT. ADMIRAL LACEY'S HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY A SILVER-HAIRED MAN lies in bed unconscious and hooked up to softly beeping life monitors. One of his hands is bandaged. A NURSE scribbles on her clipboard and notes the time. She looks up as Lacey knocks gently on the door and enters. NURSE Can I help you? Lacey takes off her hat. She stares at the man on the bed. LACEY I'm Jane Lacey. That's my Dad. NURSE Oh, I didn't know the Admiral had any family. Would you like to speak to the doctor? LACEY Mmm. The Nurse exits. Lacey moves to the bedside. She touches the Man's unbandaged hand, watches his face. No reaction. She drops her hat on the bed and takes his hand gently in both her hands. LACEY (CONT'D) Sorry I'm late, Dad. As always. Tears stream down her face. She wipes them away, then pulls up a chair using her foot and sits down, not letting go of his hand. She studies the monitors and stuff wired up to the frail-looking human being. A white-coated mature DOCTOR enters. He does a double-take at Lacey's profile and sucks in his gut. DOCTOR I understand you're Admiral Lacey's daughter. Lacey gets up. LACEY Yes sir. Lieutenant Jane Lacey. DOCTOR Sit down, Lieutenant. Let's drop the formalities. I'm Dick Harper. I've been looking after your father since he arrived. LACEY I'm scared to ask how he is. DOCTOR His condition hasn't worsened. He's comfortable. LACEY But he hasn't woken up. DOCTOR He's in a coma, yes, but scans are clear. Wouldn't surprise me if he opened his eyes and asked for his clothes. LACEY But he hasn't. DOCTOR Not so far but I'm a long way from giving up hope. LACEY Is it okay if I talk to him? DOCTOR Sure. There's every possibility he can hear you. If anything happens... press that button on the hand control. LACEY You mean if he responds to my voice? DOCTOR Why not? Look me up if you want to talk more. I'm on until midnight. He exits. Lacey sits down. LACEY I'm sorry I didn't come sooner, I... She stops. Tries to find the words. Can't. She sits silently holding his hand, and wipes the tears cascading down her face. INT. HOSPITAL LADIES ROOM - NIGHT Lacey washes her face at the sink. The same Nurse enters. NURSE We thought you'd gone. LACEY When do you give up on him? NURSE Never. If you leave your contact details with the desk we'll let you know. LACEY Thanks. Lacey towels herself dry while the Nurse hangs up her hat and unfastens her belt. NURSE Did you see the two officers? LACEY What officers? NURSE They were asking which room your father's in. INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - DAY Lacey exits the Ladies Room and comes face to face with COMMANDER HALYARD "HAL" WILLIAMSON and LT. TED "BIFFO" MAINE. Both late 20s, fighting fit and handsome with it. WILLIAMSON Officer on deck. They come to attention and salute Lacey. She grins at them, then stands on her toes and kisses both men on the cheek. Throughout their conversation she stands close and touches their sleeves. They're old friends. LACEY Another minute and we'd have missed each other. I'm so happy to see you both. MAINE We're sorry about your Dad. LACEY I know. You're in dock, or passing through? WILLIAMSON We ship out tomorrow. Thought we'd stop by and pay our respects to the Old Man. Are you staying on base? LACEY The Hyatt Regency. Just for once I wanted a mattress that doesn't leave holes in my spine. A shameful extravagance, I know. WILLIAMSON Maybe we can meet for cocktails? How does seven sound? LACEY 'Slong as we can get something to eat, deal. MAINE Somewhere cheap. LACEY My treat. I owe you guys a hundred good meals. MAINE Somewhere expensive. LACEY Seven it is. I have to report to the Base Commander. I'll see you guys later, okay? And thanks for stopping by to see my Dad. That means a lot to me. WILLIAMSON He means a lot to us. Lacey exits. Williamson and Maine watch her leave. MAINE It's a dirty trick we're playing on her. I'd like to register a formal protest here and now, Commander. WILLIAMSON So noted, Lieutenant. They turn and head along the corridor. INT. ADMIRAL LACEY'S HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY Williamson and Maine enter. They move to stand on either side of the bed, and gaze down at the sleeping man. WILLIAMSON What we discussed has become manifest, sir. We shall not permit them to disgrace your good name any longer. Those responsible will be exposed. MAINE Amen. They come to attention and salute the sleeping man. INT. BASE COMMANDER'S OFFICE - DAY ADMIRAL RODERICK looks up from his paperwork as an ORDERLY shows Lacey in. He comes around his desk to embrace Lacey. The Orderly is astonished. LACEY Lieutenant Jane Lacey reporting for duty, Uncle Rod. She kisses him on the cheek. He holds her at arm's length. RODERICK Sight for sore eyes, Lace. Take a seat. Get you something? LACEY I'm fine. Roderick shoos the Orderly out. They sit down. LACEY (CONT'D) You're looking well. RODERICK This weather suits me. Not so many aches and pains in the morning. I was over seeing your Dad yesterday. LACEY The way the doctor spoke, you'd think he'd stubbed his toe. RODERICK Did he give you his "I haven't given up hope" speech? LACEY Almost word for word. RODERICK He means it. He could wake up at any moment. Sure he took a knock but there's no visible damage and that's a big plus. LACEY What happened, Uncle Rod? No one could tell me a damned thing. RODERICK It's classified, Lace, and I'm not kidding. Lacey turns her face away and looks out the window. LACEY Can you tell me what my assignment is, or is that classified too? Roderick presses a buzzer on his desk. The Orderly enters, places a file folder on the desk, then exits. Roderick opens the folder and reads. RODERICK The powers-that-be think the best way to utilize your skills is to stick you aboard a survey boat bound for the Antarctic. LACEY You have got to be kiddin' me. RODERICK New computer system needs a shakedown. Your file says you're the best geek in the business. Do you agree? LACEY Modesty prevents me from admitting that is the case, sir. RODERICK I could tell them to send someone else. LACEY I can't ask for special consideration just because I'm the Admiral's daughter. I learned that a long time ago. RODERICK Your boat weighs anchor tomorrow midnight. You'll report for duty no later than sixteen hundred hours. Doesn't give you a lot of time with your Dad. I'll see you receive daily updates on his condition once you're at sea. LACEY Thanks Uncle Rod. I don't want to keep you back... She gets up. Roderick gets up with her. RODERICK Are you free tonight? LACEY I bumped into a couple of friends at the hospital. We said we'd meet for drinks and dinner but I can give them a call, take a rain check. RODERICK How about breakfast tomorrow? Katy will be mad with me if you don't drop by and say hello before you ship out. LACEY Breakfast sounds good. RODERICK Let's say oh-nine-thirty, God willing and hangover permitting. He opens the door for her. She kisses him on the cheek. LACEY Oh-nine-thirty it is. INT. ORDERLY'S OFFICE - DAY The Orderly looks up as Lacey walks by, and twists his neck to follow her out the door. INT. HOTEL BAR - NIGHT Lacey enters and looks around. She's ditched her uniform and wears a Cantonese style silk dress with diamond earrings. She draws admiring looks from several CUSTOMERS. She takes a stool at the bar. The Barman comes over. LACEY Mai Tai please, Benny. CUSTOMER ONE Let me buy that. He's 30s, confident, bronzed. He slides a twenty across the counter. Lacey slides it back to him. LACEY Thanks but I'm a big girl, I pay my own way. CUSTOMER ONE The day comes when I can't buy a beautiful woman a drink, I don't want to live on this planet any more. LACEY I hear NASA's looking for recruits. CUSTOMER ONE Now I regard our meeting like this as fate. If Bogart were still alive they'd cast him in my role. LACEY Of all the gin joints, right? CUSTOMER ONE It's a crime to see you sitting here alone, that's all. What say you and me grab a table? An intimate corner table with soft lights. Then you can tell me all about yourself. LACEY I'm waiting for a couple of friends. CUSTOMER ONE Who haven't shown up, which is beyond understanding. Tell you what, why don't I keep you company until they get here? And if they don't, well, that's my good fortune. LACEY Okay, plain English. I'm waiting on a couple of foreign guests who pay very well for the kind of services I provide. Frankly, I don't think your wallet will stretch that far. Customer One, and his twenty dollar bill, disappear. The Barman brings Lacey her drink. BARMAN That's a mean trick. LACEY Sometimes it's the only one that works. Lacey sips her drink, looks around the bar, and becomes a target for CUSTOMER TWO, 40s, James Bond suave. CUSTOMER TWO Is this a gay bar? That's the only reason I can think of to explain why you're on your own. LACEY Actually it is a gay bar. I came here to get some cosmetic surgery done, if you know what I mean. CUSTOMER TWO You're kidding me, right? LACEY I'd like your honest opinion. I'm not sure if the breasts are big enough. Doctor Mawapa said I could come back and he'd enlarge then if that was what I wanted-- But Customer Two is a blip on the horizon, heading out. BARMAN You gonna chase all my customers away, Lieutenant? LACEY I'll be a good girl, I promise. DISSOLVE TO: FOUR empty glasses are lined up on the bar. Lacey's on her fifth M.T. She slugs it back like a pro and bangs the glass down. The Barman stares at the empty glasses. LACEY (CONT'D) Leave 'em. I'm gonna build a pyramid. Keep 'em coming, sport. CUSTOMER THREE makes his move as the Barman brings Lacey another drink. CUSTOMER THREE Quite a coincidence. LACEY You're building a pyramid too? CUSTOMER THREE Meeting you here. You don't remember me, do you? LACEY Don't think so. Where did we...? CUSTOMER THREE In my dreams, last night. LACEY I get around, don't I? Take a ticket, you're Number 14. I'll call you when it's your turn. CUSTOMER THREE There must be some way I can get to the head of the queue. LACEY Sure. Offer me some sage advice. CUSTOMER THREE Well, I'll try my best-- LACEY Explain how come I'm sitting here getting plastered while my Dad's in hospital with wires coming out his head. Explain that and you're at the head of the queue, guaranteed. She blitzes the Mai Tai in one, puts the empty glass with the others. Customer Three takes the hint and exits. The PHONE rings. The Barman answers. He listens, looks at Lacey, listens some more, then nods "Okay" and hangs up. BARMAN Lieutenant Maine called. Sends his apologies. Says he can't make it. LACEY He give a reason? BARMAN Sorry. You want another? LACEY Forget it. Wha'd'I owe ya? CUSTOMER ONE watches Lacey pay the Barman and exit. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Lacey unlocks her door, steps inside. She closes the door behind her. A beat, then Customer One appears at the end of the hallway. INT. LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT She throws her purse on the bed, kicks off her shoes, takes off her earrings and puts them on the bedside table. She walks to the balcony and opens the sliding door. (She doesn't turn on the lights; there's light from outside.) EXT. LACEY'S BALCONY - NIGHT An impressive view over Manila Bay, ablaze with lights. Lacey leans against the rail, closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. INT. LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT A MAN DRESSED IN BLACK and wearing a hooded mask exits the adjoining bathroom. He looks at the balcony. Lacey has her back to the room. The Man In Black creeps to the door. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Customer One looks up and down the hallway, then knocks on the door. INT. LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT The Man In Black stops and backtracks to the bathroom. EXT. LACEY'S BALCONY - NIGHT Lacey doesn't react. She hasn't heard the knock. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Customer One knocks louder. EXT. LACEY'S BALCONY - NIGHT This time Lacey hears the knock. She goes back inside. INT. LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Halfway to the door, Lacey glances at the bedside table. No earrings. She bends down and scoops up one of her shoes without breaking step. She opens the door. CUSTOMER ONE You're not a hooker. LACEY I failed the exam. CUSTOMER ONE Why'd you tell me you were? LACEY I was waiting for some friends. CUSTOMER ONE But they didn't show. LACEY Must've had a reason. He holds up a bottle. CUSTOMER ONE Night's not over yet. LACEY I'd like to get some sleep. Big day tomorrow. CUSTOMER ONE Ah come on, I had you down for a party girl. LACEY Bad timing. City's full of pretty girls. Go find one. CUSTOMER ONE Thought I had. He shakes his head with disappointment and exits. Lacey closes the door-- --And spins as the Man In Black exits the bathroom and tries to push past her. WHAP, she cracks him on the head with her shoe heel. He collapses like a rotten tree and lies there, stunned. Lacey picks up a BAG the thief dropped. She fishes out her earrings, a gold watch, pair of panties, silk stockings. LACEY You stole my panties!? She kicks him in the gut. Man In Black MOANS and curls up. CLUNK! Customer One's bottle makes fleeting contact with her head. She sprawls over Man In Black, senseless. Customer One rolls her over, pulls Man In Black to his feet. Man In Black sways and holds his head, MOANING. MAN IN BLACK Bitch hit me-- Customer One hussles him outside. INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT They run and limp down the hallway. DISSOLVE TO: INT. LACEY'S HOTEL ROOM - NIGHT Lacey sits on the bed, attended by a DOCTOR and the hotel MANAGER. The Doctor parts her hair and examines her head while the Manager looks around the room. HOTEL DOCTOR There's contusion and swelling, but the skin is unbroken. MANAGER You're sure you didn't fall? A LOUD KNOCK at the door. The Manager opens it. Four SPs in uniform led by a fresh-faced LIEUTENANT. MANAGER (CONT'D) There's really no need for this-- LIEUTENANT Are you all right Miss Lacey? LACEY Nothing a bottle of Aspirin won't cure. LIEUTENANT Did you see your assailant? LACEY Yes and no. The guy who broke in was wearing a mask. Not your Lone Ranger mask. More like Zorro, a cloth square with eye holes. LIEUTENANT Local or American? LACEY He had a suntan but so does everyone else around here. The guy who actually hit me, from behind, was American. He came to my door looking for a good time, I sent him away. The Lieutenant takes a moment to take this in. LIEUTENANT And you struck the masked man. LACEY Clobbered him with my shoe. He went down. She dips her hand, making the motions of a crashing plane. A sudden pain makes her wince. She touches the back of her head. LACEY (CONT'D) Didn't know he had backup. Dirty trick. LIEUTENANT (to Doctor) How is Miss Lacey? LACEY Miss Lacey is fine, although she really ought to be addressed by her rank. LIEUTENANT I beg your pardon. Doctor, how is Lieutenant Lacey? HOTEL DOCTOR Her skull must be X-rayed. LACEY Ah come on, I'm okay. LIEUTENANT Sorry Lieutenant, you have an appointment at the base hospital. (to Manager) I'll want to speak to all staff members on duty tonight plus the guests on this floor. MANAGER You should know that she was drinking in the bar this evening. Alone. The Lieutenant looks at Lacey. Is this true? LACEY I had my fair share, but I'm a long way from drunk. She stands up, balances on one foot, closes her eyes and touches her nose with her fingertips. LACEY (CONT'D) Draw a chalk line on the floor, gimme six oranges and stand back. MANAGER (to Lieutenant) She is clearly intoxicated. LACEY I wish. The Lieutenant indicates the bag and stuff on the floor. LIEUTENANT This is what they tried to steal? LACEY Yeah, my panties, fer cripe's sake. Lay a hand on them, I swear you'll be looking for a new arm. LIEUTENANT Wouldn't dream of it, Lieutenant. Nice watch. Diamonds look real. LACEY They should. Gift from an ex. He asked for them back when we split. As if. The Lieutenant signals to one of the SHORE PATROLs who steps forward with a camera. He takes snaps of the loot, then moves around the room. The Manager watches warily. LIEUTENANT (to Manager) I'd appreciate if you didn't discuss this with anyone else. You'll receive a formal request in writing from the Base Commander's office first thing in the morning. If you have the bill ready, we'll take care of it. LACEY Hey I can pay my own bills. LIEUTENANT My men will pack your suitcase, Lieutenant. Maybe you'd like to pick up your panties yourself? INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT The same Doctor as before shines a flashlight into Lacey's eyes. The Lieutenant waits by the door, arms folded. LACEY There's really no need for this. You're wasting your time. DOCTOR I'm a doctor, it's my job. LACEY I thought you got off at midnight? DOCTOR Lucky me, someone called in sick. LACEY Oh the irony. DOCTOR Say "ah." LACEY I have a sore head, not a sore throat. DOCTOR I just want you to stop talking for a moment so I can think. A NURSE enters with X-rays. The Doctor pins 'em up on the light board and examines them. LACEY Just give it to me straight, Doc. Will I ever play the piano again? DOCTOR There's no evidence of fracture but you have a lump the size of a baseball. LACEY No kidding. How about some pain killers? DOCTOR I think we can arrange that. I'd like you to stay in overnight so I can keep an eye on you. LACEY Take a ticket, you're Number Fifteen. I'll call you when it's your turn. DOCTOR How much have you had to drink? LACEY Somewhere in between too much and not nearly enough. How's my Dad? DOCTOR Resting peacefully. (to Lieutenant) Can your business wait until morning, Lieutenant? LIEUTENANT Yes sir. Just wanted to make sure the Lieutenant was okay. (to Lacey) Goodnight, Lieutenant. LACEY G'night 'tenant to you too. The Lieutenant exits. LACEY (CONT'D) He's a nice boy but he worries too much. DOCTOR I'm going to ask a nurse to find you a bed. She'll give you something for the pain. LACEY I was supposed to meet some friends. They didn't turn up. I felt lonely. DOCTOR If that's a problem I can ask the psychiatric counsellor to pay you a visit. LACEY Does he like Mai Tais too? End of excerpt.
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