A treatment for Carrion

What follows is the most recent stage in a page-one redraft of Carrion. Yesterday I submitted this treatment to the Euroscript Screen Story Competition 2012 primarily because it gave me a deadline. I like deadlines, they focus the mind, give me reason to make a decision, and stop exploring the myriad of options available when developing a character and their story. When my partner read it, she thought “it’s very pro-drugs”. I don’t disagree, but I think it’s less pro-drug, and more anti-prohibition.

Carrion is a science fiction thriller about the cruelty of prohibition.

The last few years have been tough on ADAM LEIGH. First his marriage disintegrates. Torn apart by the rigours of army life. Then his parents die in a car crash. Leaving him sole guardian of a teenage sister he hardly knows. He tries to take care of CHRISTINE. Buys himself out of the army. Moves back into the family home. Takes a job with the police. But when growing pains amplify Christine’s grief into rebellion. He struggles to cope.

Outraged by her drug use. He becomes increasingly self-righteous. Until she escapes his tyranny. Finds solace with boyfriend JOHN QUAYS. Things between Adam and Christine come to a head when Adam has to sell the family home. Christine is furious. They fight. Adam snaps. Arrests Christine and John for possession.

Six months later. The war on drugs escalates. Swarms of drug eating insects are released by the government.

Seemingly unconcerned Christine and John still visit their dealer. Stock-up for the weekend’s party. They’re planning a two-fingered salute to new “Code 10” laws that will bar drug-user access to healthcare.

Meanwhile Adam arrives at the house of policeman ANTHONY REINER. His daughter is dead. Needle junked in her vein. It looks like an overdose. But when Adam finds evidence of a struggle. Suspects foul play. He does his job. And arrests Reiner.

That night. While Christine and John deal to their friends. Enjoy a hedonistic mix of music and recreational drugs. Adam questions Reiner.

By morning. An unrepentant Reiner admits he killed his daughter. Expresses an evangelical wish to see all junkies’ dead. A wish that might come true. Because when Christine and John arrive home. Rack out a two line nightcap. A swarm of insects attack them.

As the swarm rips through the city. Christine and John drag each other to the local hospital. Only to be turned away. “Code 10” laws prohibit their treatment. Threaten their arrest.

Out of options the pair hole up. Self-medicate on what’s left of their stash. But when John starts to spit blood. A desperate Christine goes to Adam for help.

Still trying to maintain the status quo. Adam puts the law first. And cruelly turns her away. But his loyalty is not reciprocated. Because later that day. The CPS judge there is “no case to answer”. And discharge Reiner. The murderer’s release leaves Adam feeling betrayed. Gives him a galvanising glimpse of the hostilities to come.

So when John delivers news of Christine’s arrest. Guilt drives him to the station where she is being held. Fighting through the riotous crowd of users. He argues with belligerent colleagues. Until they take him to see Christine. Horrified by the abuse she has suffered. He orders a doctor. But his pleas are met with threats of arrest. So when the rioters storm the station. Adam takes his chance. And helps Christine escape.

Desperately in need of pain relief. Christine persuades Adam to drive them north to their supplier. But all they find when they get there is a dead dealer. An eaten stash. And a gang of vigilantes who what to kill them.

They barely escape with their lives. Only to have John succumb to his insect infestation. When the swarm explodes from his corpse. Adam struggle to save Christine. Drags her free. Manages to contain the swarm in the car.

Devastated by John’s death. Confronted by her fate. She is inconsolable. Adam is forced to dig deep. Marshal every bit of empathy he has. And probably for the first time ever. Connects with Christine.

Determined to keep her safe. Intent on escaping the embattled city. Adam steals a car. But when they run into a police checkpoint. He defies the law. Behaves like a criminal. And flees the scene.

Pursued by the police. Hemmed in. They abandon the vehicle. Escape on foot. Find refuge at the home of Christine’s friend. But when her friends turn on Adam. Blame him for their troubles. He confounds their expectations by volunteering to go for help.

Chasing rumours there is a territory controlled by dealers. Adam leaves Christine with her friends. And heads south. Moving fast. He dodges the police. Evades vigilantes. Hides from an army patrol. Only to be captured by a gang of insurgents.

Desperate to get Christine the help she needs. He supplicates himself. Asks a junkie for help. SEXTON takes pity. Follows Adam back to the house. But as his gang triage the household. Administer doses of smack to those who need it. A police snatch squad rolls up.

The fire-fight that follows threatens to kill them all. But when Adam sacrifices himself for Christine. Runs interference with Sexton. Christine and the others escape.

When the police finally raid the house. Reiner is first to breach the barricade. First to discover their escape. First to give chase. But when Adam takes a stand. And fights Reiner. Fights prohibition. He wins a minor victory. And takes Reiner hostage.

With Reiner in tow. Adam and Sexton rendezvous with the others. Head south. Find they’re cut off by military lines. And have to take refuge in the Leigh family home.

As they plan their route through. Christine’s condition worsens. The insects inside her start to gnaw their way out. Adam watches in horror as she vomits blood. He does his best to comfort her. But he’s helpless. All he can do is cradle her in his arms. And watch her die.

Broken hearted. He reacts violently when Reiner mocks her death. Grabs a syringe of smack from Sexton. And sends Reiner to hell. Stabs him with the shot. Leaves him for the swarm of insects that explode from her corpse.

Overwhelmed by grief. Adam refuses to move. Until screams draw him outside. A woman pleads for her life as soldiers tie a noose round her neck. Loop it over a lamp-post. Yank her into the air. Adam snaps. Picks up a gun. And attacks the soldiers. When the shooting’s over. The soldiers are dead. The woman is saved. And Adam is an insurgent.

Humbled by her gratitude. Accepting solace from a junkie. He follows Sexton south. Past a defiant slogan daubed on the wall. “THEY DON’T WANT US. THEY’RE TRYING TO KILL US. WE’RE FIGHTING BACK.”


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