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Preston Dirges and The Theory of Induction

Int. Security Room – Morning

Preston and Valerie sit on a row of plastic chairs.

PRESTON: I hate waiting. I’m going to get on with something else.

VALERIE: No you don’t. The security guy said we had to sign the forms together. If you want something to do, give me the induction talk you promised.

PRESTON: Alright. Which one do you want? The official induction to Leading Edge, the leading suppliers of cable leads, or my personal hypotheses on how to succeed at work, life and everything else?

VALERIE: Start with the official induction. Then, if there’s still time, you can cover everything else I might ever need to know.

PRESTON: Fine. Here’s the official induction. 1: Don’t sleep with anyone you work with. 2: Seriously, don’t sleep with anyone you work with. Even if you like them, even if you want to marry them, even if you want their baby, even if you think you’ll get a promotion, don’t do it. Office affairs are quite bad for the company and really bad for messing with your head. In the unlikely event you meet your soulmate here, first resign, then fuck them.

VALERIE: Okay. (Pause) Okay, I get it. Don’t sleep with work colleagues. But there’s no need to use the f-word. Now what about the rest of the induction?

PRESTON: The rest of it? Don’t steal, print on both sides of the paper, get out if you hear a fire alarm. Common sense stuff.

VALERIE: What if the alarm is a test?

PRESTON: Get out anyway. When it’s the real thing, you won’t have time to wait.

VALERIE: Thanks for the induction. I feel really inducted now. I wonder how long that guard is going to be.

Preston sits silent, then looks at Valerie. She smiles back.

VALERIE: Go on then. Tell me the secret formulas for success.

PRESTON: They’re hypotheses.

VALERIE: Okay, tell me the hypotheses.

PRESTON: Do you really want me to?

VALERIE: Yes, please. I can’t go on, not knowing. (Encouraging) No, come on, tell me. You know you want to. (Pause) But not if you don’t want to.

PRESTON: Well, as I have to wait here anyway.

Int. Crowded Office Floor – Day

Preston sits motionless amidst an open-plan office floor. He looks at the camera. He is in colour; everything else is monochrome. People move, work, and talk, but very slowly.

PRESTON (V.O.): Proposition 1: In the big scheme of things, nothing ever changes.

The camera tracks back. It exits the office window, showing the building from outside. It flies back across a city, over countryside, over sea, through clouds, into space to see the planet, out of the solar system, out of the galaxy, back until all galaxies merge into a single dot. The words “you are here” are scribbled, with an arrow pointing to the dot.

PRESTON (V.O.): And nothing you do is of the slightest significance. So you needn’t worry about anything.

Int. Security Room – Morning

VALERIE: How many propositions are there?

PRESTON: Seven.

VALERIE: And they’re not meant to be motivational?

PRESTON: They’re motivational. They just don’t motivate the same behaviours as other motivational techniques.

Ext. Children’s Playground – Day

Preston is dressed as a boy, in shorts and a Superman tee shirt. He runs around and plays on a climbing frame, with a lot of other children.

PRESTON (V.O.): Proposition 2: Work turns children into adults because it gets in the way of what we really want to do. We slowly kill our childlike passions in return for an income.

Int. Security Room – Morning

VALERIE: I can’t imagine you in shorts.

PRESTON: That’s funny. I just imagined you imagining me in shorts. Anyway, I still wear shorts sometimes. (Pause) I do.

Int. College Lecture Theatre – Day

Preston has long hair. He wears shorts and a Stone Roses tee shirt. He sits on the back row, leaning back, fast asleep.

PRESTON (V.O.): Proposition 3: Learning from mistakes is the most common form of education.

The lecturer writes on a blackboard, his back to us. His hair is cropped; he wears a polo shirt. He turns, revealing himself to be Preston, and speaks to camera.

PRESTON: Not learning from other people’s mistakes is the most common form of tragedy.

Int. Security Room – Morning

PRESTON: Did you really study marketing?

VALERIE: Marketing and fine art, joint honours.

PRESTON: That’s interesting. I didn’t know you could do that combination.

VALERIE: Fine art because I love art. Marketing so I could still get a job afterwards.

PRESTON: I think you’ve already proven Propositions 2 and 3.

VALERIE: I don’t understand, but maybe I’m starting to.

Int. Animal Cage – Day

We see an extreme close up of Preston’s face, in profile. He runs hard; his head bobs up and down. The camera tracks back to reveal he is running in a giant hamster wheel.

PRESTON (V.O.): Proposition 4: There are no winners in a rat race, because there is no finish line.

Int. Security Room – Morning

VALERIE: Preston, you know I’ve just started my career, right?

PRESTON: It’s never too early to hear the truth. You don’t want to discover the truth when it’s too late to do something about it.

Ext. Graveyard – Day

The camera moves through a graveyard. Preston sits in the distance, his back to a headstone. The camera comes closer to him. The headstone reads: “[Insert Name]”.

PRESTON: Proposition 5: Death is scary because we can’t imagine a world that we don’t inhabit.

Int. Security Room – Morning

VALERIE: What’s the moral? Get on with life? Yet here we sit, doing nothing.

PRESTON: That’s why I hate waiting. I’m not counting on reincarnation.

VALERIE: Then don’t make me wait for Proposition 6.

Ext. Heavenly Clouds – Day

Preston is Cupid. He is naked, apart from a blindfold and wings. He continuously draws arrows with heart-shaped points, firing them from a bow, in random directions.

PRESTON (V.O.): Proposition 6: Love is confirmation bias.

Int. Nightclub – Night

A man in loose skater clothes drunkenly bounces around with friends on the crowded dance floor of an up-market basement nightclub. People bump elbows and wriggle past each other.

VALERIE (V.O.): What’s confirmation bias?

An arrow lands between the shoulderblades of the man. He shouts in agony, though we cannot hear him over the music. Nobody else reacts or seems to notice.

PRESTON (V.O.): That’s what they call it when you make a decision and you keep looking for reasons to convince yourself it was the right decision…

The man reaches for the arrow but cannot grab it. He twists around, bumping into a chic young woman. She turns to push back; she is Valerie. Their eyes meet; he is transfixed.

PRESTON (V.O.): …whilst ignoring the overwhelming evidence that it was the wrong one.

Valerie is angry. The man leans in to charm her.

NIGHTCLUB MAN: I’m very sorry. Are you alright? It’s so busy in here – and maybe I need to work on my dance moves.

An arrow lands in Valerie’s foot. She hops around in pain.

NIGHTCLUB MAN: What’s wrong?

VALERIE: These shoes.

She puts a hand on his shoulder, and slips off her shoe. She looks up at him, and is transfixed.

NIGHTCLUB MAN: Does the slipper not fit, Cinderella?

VALERIE: Even so, I shall go to the ball. Come, Prince Charming, take me from this dancefloor and find me somewhere to sit. You can buy me a drink on the way.

She holds her shoes in one hand and the man’s arm in the other, leaning on him, and leading him off the dancefloor.

Int. Security Room – Morning

VALERIE: Confirmation bias? That does sound like every relationship I’ve had – in hindsight.

Preston tilts his head to one side. An arrow strikes the wall behind him, where his head was. He pays it no heed.

VALERIE: But I don’t see what that’s got to do with work.

PRESTON: 19% of couples meet at work, even though it’s a terrible idea.

VALERIE: I see your point. What about the seventh proposition, the final one?

Int. Department Store – Day

Preston walks down a hectic city street. He passes a teenager sat on church steps, playing a video game. An old couple step out of a sex shop in front of him.

PRESTON (V.O.): The world is getting more complicated every year. People look for solace in different kinds of places.

Preston walks into a department store.

PRESTON (V.O.): Some find comfort in material possessions.

He walks into the television section. The screens show a rowdy talk show, a property development show, a political debate, and footballers arguing with a referee.

PRESTON (V.O.): Many have questions, and many offer answers, but there’s one rule everybody should follow more often.

Preston watches the televisions, his eyes jumping around.

VALERIE (V.O.): What is it, Preston?

PRESTON (V.O.): Proposition 7…

Preston turns from the screens, and talks to the camera.

PRESTON: If you can’t talk sense, then shut the fuck up.

All the people on the televisions go silent, and look directly at Preston.

Int. Security Room – Morning

There is a long pause before Preston turns to Valerie.

PRESTON: Well that’s that.

VALERIE: I don’t want to say anything, in case I end up breaking proposition 7 by accident.

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