Serpentine
IN THE CENTER OF DARKNESS, an ARC OF LIGHT slices through. We hear METAL GRATING AGAINST METAL as the arc expands, forming a CRESCENT. Again, we hear METAL AGAINST METAL as the crescent is peeled back, forming a DISK OF LIGHT.  INSIDE THE DISK, a YOUNG BOY’S FACE appears, peering down into a COBBLESTONE WELL.  
    
YOUNG BOY
Ewwwww!!

CUT TO:

INT. DESERT -- DAY

ANGLE ON A METAL WELL, protruding from the sand, with a cylindrical lid propped against its side. The same boy has his head inside. His name is SAGE -- 7, fretful, and a bloodhound for adventure.

SAGE
What’s that smell?!

Alright... let me introduce you to his mother.

CUT TO:

INT. HEMINGDALE WAY STATION -- PLATFORM -- CONTINUOUS

CLOSE ON SARCIA -- 28, stubborn as a bull, but loves her son unconditionally -- reading the ROMANCE NOVEL: FORBIDDEN LUST. We HEAR Sage in the BACKGROUND, SCREAMING into the well. We PULL BACK to reveal FREDRICK -- 21, pompous, and pretentious -- and his dark-skinned VALET DE CHAMBRE, 26. The three occupy a bench. Fredrick twirls an umbrella while his valet stares off into space. Silence between them, until--

FREDRICK
(to Sarcia)
The name is Fredrick la’ Dannon... and it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
Sarcia’s fixated on romance, unaware of Fredrick’s address.

FREDRICK (CONT'D)
I imagine your vexing with the implication that Shangri-la is ghastly and on the wrong end of the broomstick. Quite the contrary, my dear. Of course... the multitude of dreary taverns and infectious heathens thrusting their talons into the welfare of the prestigious can be a bore; but where on the globe can you find the famous... Candy Apple’s Lick And Stick.

CUT TO:

EXT. DESERT -- CONTINUOUS

Sage, with one hand pinching his nose, puts the other inside a trouser pocket, fishes, and returns with a coin. He inspects it for a moment, and then reaches back inside the pocket. After discovering another coin, he leans over the opening of the well, drops it inside, and waits for the sound of impact... Nada. 

SAGE
Hmm.

Sage, obviously bored, wanders from the well.

CUT TO:

INT. HEMINGDALE WAY STATION -- PLATFORM -- CONTINUOUS

Fredrick continues his rigmarole.

FREDRICK
Anyway... I’m usually tucked inside the confines of Shangri-la...

BEHIND FREDRICK AND SARCIA, Sage ambles across the platform.

FREDRICK (CONT'D)
But my dear uncle -- he’s the constable of Friaridge by the way -- had invoked my partition from under father’s heel to partake in the execution of the Hausner family.
(leaning close; smiling wryly)
The pauper swindlers had the shadow of the guillotine above their heads for quite some time. 

IN THE DISTANCE -- A KLAXON BLARES.

WIDER -- Fredrick and his valet turn their heads in unison.

Sage, whooping exuberantly, dashes to the edge of the platform.

Fredrick stands with a mechanical precision, withdrawals a TIME-PIECE from his breast pocket, takes a brief gander, and then saunters over to the boy, leaving his valet with a mound of TRAVELING BAGS. Sarcia on the other hand, remains attentive to her novel.

CLOSE ON SARCIA -- Flushed-faced; Mouth slightly agape. Her hypnotic trance abates when--

SAGE (O.S.)
(fevered)
Mama! Mama! It’s comin!

WIDER -- Sarcia leans over, grabs her SATCHEL, stuffs the novel inside, and places the satchel back beside the bench.
Sage and Fredrick, with hands above their brow, gawk at an OFF SCREEN APPROACHING OBJECT. Sarcia -- the valet stumbling closely behind -- walks to the edge of the platform. After Sage notices the presence of his mother, he embraces her with euphoric gratitude.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HEMINGDALE WAY STATION -- TICKET BOOTH -- CONTINUOUS

Cramped. Hazy. The TICKET HOLDER holds a Cuban cigar. CLUMPING FOOT STEPS draw closer.
SEEN THROUGH BOTTLE-GREEN GLASS: THREE SILHOUETTES approach. The GLASS BLACKENS.

TICKET HOLDER
(lacking enthusiasm)
Yeah... what do ya need?

VAGARY
Three two o’clock arrivals for Shangri-la, please.

TICKET HOLDER
(puffs on the cigar)
A tad behind the clock, ya?

FROM UNDERNEATH THE GLASS -- A HAND, mangled with protruding METAL FRAGMENTS, slides into the ticket booth.

REVERSE -- The ticket holder’s eyes, swimming in fishbowl bifocals, dilate to the size of tennis balls. 

VAGARY
(coldly)
Snapping our string of patience could prove worse to the health than that cigar.

Beat.

TICKET HOLDER
(feebly)
One-way, or round trip?

INT. HEMINGDALE WAY STATION -- PLATFORM -- CONTINUOUS

Sarcia, Sage, Fredrick, and his valet continue to gawk. IN THE BACKGROUND-- a DARK OBJECT, hunkered down in the SAND, SLOWLY APPROACHES the platform.

ANGLE ON SAGE AND SARCIA

SAGE
Do they have Caterpillar Crusade in Shangla?

SARCIA
(smiles)
It’s Shangri-la baby. And yes, they most certainly do.

WIDER -- Fredrick looks down at Sage.

FREDRICK
Young lad, if you crave excitement, the amenities along Tenacious Avenue should quench your thirst.
(chuckles)
Dames galore I tell you. And if you’re like me, you like ‘em sleazy.

SARCIA (O.S.)
(fervid)
EXCUSE ME!!

Sarcia steps in front of Sage. Her fists are clenched.

SARCIA (CONT'D)
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed or not... but my son happens to be seven years old!
Fredrick smiles sheepishly; Sarcia scowls.

WIDER -- Sage shakes his mother’s sleeve.

SAGE
Mama...
After a moment longer of hostility towards Fredrick, she turns to face Sage.

SAGE (CONT'D)
I wanna hold my ticket.

Sarah seems disoriented. She looks down at her side, then towards the BENCH and SEES--

THREE DARK FIGURES -- VAGARY, CAPRICIOUS, and WHIMSICAL -- shrouded in tattered ROBES, congregated around the BENCH like crows over roadkill. Inside the hoods -- DARKNESS prevails. VAGARY, holding Sarcia’s satchel, steps forward.

Sage moves behind Sarcia to observe from her hip.

Vagary draws closer. Sunlight glints across -- ENORMOUS AMBER-COLORED EYES.

ANGLE ON FREDRICK AND HIS VALET

Slack-jawed; Bug-eyed.

Vagary holds the satchel at his side. Sarcia awaits deliverance.

VAGARY

Prominence had whispered... the tote belongs to you. 

The KLAXON BLARES once again. CLOSER! LOUDER!  

SARCIA
Yes.

Vagary extends the arm that holds the satchel. Sarcia grabs the strap.

SARCIA (CONT'D)
Thank you.

After a moment of hesitation in his half of the transfer, Vagary relinquishes the satchel. 

Sarcia shoulders the pack.

Vagary stands motionless, watching, as Capricious and Whimsical fall-in at his side.

CLOSE ON SARCIA -- Aware. Her eyes ignite from a spark of intuition. 

WIDER -- Sarcia turns, wraps an arm across the nape of Sage’s neck and leads him farther down the platform.

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