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What Quality of Life?

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SOYLENT GREEN: REWRITTEN

December, New York City, 2072

Population: 40,000,000

We are introduced to our characters as we pan into their shared office/apartment. Robyn Thorn is a feisty young detective who is quickly making a name for herself within the force. Sol Roth is a tall scrawny man in his late-30’s, though his wisdom makes him seem much older. He is Thorn’s “Book”, a job that requires him to do hours of research, meticulously reading any and all resources he can get his hands on. Neither Thorn nor Sol knows what life is like without so many people inhabiting it, it is only a written fairytale to them. As we pan into the building, we can see piles of people all over the building. Although it’s December, it is still around 70 degrees outside on the warmer days and the colder days, the littered bodies across the city seem to miraculously disappear overnight. 

 

THORN

I hear it’s supposed to get rather cold tonight. You think we have enough to make it through the night?

 

SOL

It is going to be fine, from what the other books told me at least. We have plenty here to keep warm throughout the winter but as more time passes the more these weather trends worry me. 

 

Sol moves from his table, with bookshelves surrounding him, all filled to the brim with books. There are books littered across the floor stacked high, reaching around the height of the desk. Sol travels the short trek from his office to the small window at the opposite end of the apartment, he moves the curtain ever so slightly to reveal the streets of New York. There are people sitting in nearly every little cranny they can squeeze themselves into. Thorn joins him to peek out the window.

 

SOL

What really concerns me, in all honesty, is what will happen to all these people in the next couple of weeks. Despite the climate not being as it used to be, it still gets cold here. There are people in this city who will die without even realizing it, what will happen to them? What about their lives? Their family? The life not only they live, but even the more fortunate like ourselves, the life we live can hardly be called quality. 

 

THORN

Come on Sol, what can we do about it, there is nothing that we can do at the moment! I mean, for heaven’s sake, we can barely take care of ourselves! 

 

Sol looks at Thorn in a disappointed manner, Thorn shifts nervously, before looking at Sol regrettably and sympathetically. Thorn moves away from the window and to Sol’s desk before gently placing her right hand on an open encyclopedia. Thorn sighs.

 

THORN

I should rephrase, in our current position, as a young upcoming investigator, (She gestures towards herself), and her book. (She gestures towards Sol). What can we do? We’re simply not high enough up on the food chain to do anything, no matter how much we may want to. We have to remind ourselves of our own situation…. it’s grim, Sol. It’s grim.

 

INT. POLICE DEPARTMENT - THE NEXT MORNING

We have been shown the streets as Thorn walks to work in the morning. The night was a light colder than predicted, and all those who were known to live on the streets couldn’t be seen. For once in decades, the city seems quiet, it seems unpopulated. Thorn enters the police department to see her coworkers in the usual frantic, busy bustling for the newest assignment from the chief, or the newest report for their case. Inside her office sits the chief of police in obvious distress as she looks at an array of reports laid out on her desk. Thorn walks over to the chief’s office and lightly knocks on the door frame. Thorn is beckoned in.

THORN

Mornin’ Shirl, you’re having quite the morning aren’t ya?

 

SHIRL

Very funny Thorn, in here.

 

Thorn shuffles from the door frame from where she was to inside the office where she shuts the door behind her. She sets her coat down on the chair positioned nearby Shirl’s desk, however, she continues to stand and rests her hands on the back of the chair.

 

THORN

It seems we all made it through the night. Though, on my way in, it was so quiet. Not a single person I knew of on the streets was there. Once it got cold enough I assumed they moved inside, but I hardly saw anyone leave their buildings.

 

Shirl looks at Thorn in concern and an indisputable look of sympathy, Shirl knew the truth behind why these people had gone missing. Shirl breaks her eye contact and begins to mess with paperwork lying on her desk, finally, with a sigh, she begins to speak.

 

SHIRL

They’re dead Robyn, got cleaned up early this morning. Figured you’d have put two an’ two together by now, ain’t you supposed to the smartest we have on the force?

 

Shirl doesn’t look up, Thorn stands still near the desk as a range of emotions flood through her. Confusion, questioning, a realization, empathy, and most starkly, regret. Shirl chuckles softly, still fiddling with her work.

SHIRL

I mean, seriously, you expect all those people to miraculously survive through that harsh weather? Ha, yeah right.

 

Thorn shifts where she stands, not knowing what to say in response. No, she didn’t really think all those people would make it through the night, but she certainly hoped they would. After her talk with Sal, there was an indisputable reality that those on the street wouldn’t likely survive the upcoming winter, but all those people, gone in one night alone. One question continued to plague her mind…

 

THORN

Wait, “cleaned up”, by who, or what exactly?

 

SHIRL

Thorn, I think you would know, more so than anyone else, I don’t have all the answers. 

 

THORN

Well, you know that they were “cleaned up”, as you put it, so you must have some idea, some working theory, right? Where do all these dead people go, how on earth can half of the living population of New York die and disappear in one night? Who has that kind of power to make it appear that they were never here in the first place?

 

SHIRL

That’s your answer, ain’t it? Someone with power? Look into that if you want, but no one with a right mind in the city of New York is gonna bother running to us to look for more people. It just ain’t the time we live in nowadays.

 

Thorn doesn’t respond, instead, she grabs her belongings. She begins to walk toward the door as she puts her coat back on, stopping just as she reaches for the doorknob.

 

THORN

You know, Sol an’ I argued about this yesterday evening, I told him that there was nothing we could do for the people on the streets, I knew that people were going to die… there’s just nothing we can do. We’re barely more than scraping by ourselves, and it’s just the two of us, there’s nothing we can offer. He was disappointed in me, I could tell, just by that look in his eye, I regret it now. I can think about more than a dozen things I could’ve given out that could have saved them, more than a dozen people I could have saved. He was right, Shirl, I should’ve been thinking of their quality of life, not just mine.

 

INT. SOL & THORN APARTMENT- MIDDAY

Thorn climbed over the people occupying the stairs of the apartment building as their homes, excusing herself whilst trying to get into her room. When she finally enters after quickly fidgeting with the lock, with a worried and panicked tone she calls out for Sol.

 

THORN

Sol! Sol, you were right! We could have done something, we should have done something, anything, to help those on the streets yesterday. Think about it, there are millions upon millions of people in the city of New York and no one bothers to help the other, how is that any form of living a substantial life? It’s not and you’re right, others quality of life it’s-

 

SOL

Thorn, Thorn listen to me, it's alright, nothing we can do to change the past. 

 

Thorn takes a deep breath, Sol is sitting at the desk in their apartment, books open and scattered around him, clearly deeply invested in the newest topic on his mind. Thorn leans against the countertop adjacent to the desk to debrief Sol on what she learned this morning whilst talking with Shirl.

 

THORN

I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but there is hardly anyone sleeping on the streets, at least that was there last night anyway. When I went into work, obviously, it was the first thing I mentioned to the chief, it was odd not seeing all those people in the morning. I was trying to be hopeful, but it dropped much colder than predicted, there is no way all those people made it through the night and just walked away. They’re dead, but the question is, where did all the bodies go then, would we not have seen all those people seemingly still “resting” on the street? Where are they? Who has the power to do such a thing, where do the money, to get rid of all those people, without even leaving a trace?

 

SOL

In all honesty, I was thinking the same thing when I woke up this morning, it was so much quieter than normal, and there were clearly fewer people walking around, I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was wrong. So, I did a little digging. 

 

Sol grabs one of the encyclopedias next to him and begins flipping through pages, cross-referencing with what he had written down in a small notebook. 

 

SOL

I couldn’t think of where to start, so I started from the basics, the tides, and the ocean, which heavily affect our climate. It is much colder than it’s ever been, so something must be missing, right? This Oceanography Report shows that not only have the ice caps continues to melt substantially but it’s also killing the organisms in the ocean because they can’t adapt to how quickly the ocean is changing. One of the organisms that have been affected by this, Ocean Plankton.

 

THORN

Ocean Plankton? Isn’t that what Soylent Green is made out of? Why would they lie…

 

SOL

Think about it Thorn, they have the power, the money, the status, to make any action they do disappear, they provide nearly all of our food, why would anyone oppose them?

 

THORN

Sure, but what would they need all those dead bodies for? What would the Soylent Corporation gain out of it?

 

SOL

You’re the detective, aren’t you? Why don’t we find out?



EXT. SOYLENT COMPANY WAREHOUSE - NIGHT

Thorn and Sol have tracked down a Soylent Corporation truck, and ride along on the top of the truck to the factory. There they see hundreds of other trucks that have all picked up the dead of New York throughout the day. Trucks being unloaded of dead bodies, others being loaded with the newest shipment of Soylent Green.  Thorn points towards the building and points out an open door closest to the truck they hopped off of.

 

THORN

There.

 

Thorn and Sol run off into the building, careful to make sure they are not seen as they enter. Inside the factory there is machine upon machine processing the bodies, trailing the entire factory. Sol and Thorn follow the machines careful to not be caught by any workers.

 

SOL

What is happening here? There is just an endless amount of machines messing with these people? Why are there so many chemicals being used?

 

THORN

Sol, look.

 

The pair suddenly see a conveyor belt with familiar green squares on it. They start to walk closer towards the machine, it’s up higher than the ground floor, almost as if it’s too precious to be with the rest of the factory. 

THORN

Could it be?

 

SOL

I suspected as much once I learned about the ocean plankton, and after what you told me, I became more suspicious, but to think it’s actually true… it’s despicable.

 

THORN

It’s Soylent Green, it’s people.