Exterior of a rundown apartment building. Two figures, one male and one female, are standing at the front door. The male is dressed in a fine tailored suit, carrying an umbrella, and wearing a dapper bowler hat. The female is wearing a skin tight black jumpsuit. Instead of knocking, the man inputs a code into a keypad near the door.
There’s a whoosh and the door slides open revealing a much more industrial looking interior. Fluorescent lights run parallel along the upper trim of the halls. The two quickly cross the vacant lobby to an elevator and board just as swiftly. A badly done muzak version of “Don’t they know it’s Christmas time” plays as the elevator rises to the fourth floor. The pair depart and move to apartment 4G. The man raps his cane on the door. A muffled voice from the other side responds.
“Who is it?!”
The man answers with a smile, in a clear English accent.
“Collections. May we come in?”
The sound of stumbling and a young woman’s giggling can be heard. A few moments pass and the door is opened. The pair enter into a small apartment littered with fast food wrappers and discarded bottles of various alcoholic liquids. The walls are stained with food, presumably drink, and other unknown substances. A mattress has been laid on the floor where a couch would normally have sat. The owner of the apartment is a younger man wearing a silver costume and a plastic astronaut’s helmet. A sticker reading “Hello! My name is…” has been placed on the left side of his chest with “Major” written in the provided space. He backs into the room pensive and expectant of trouble.
The Englishman speaks up again in the same flat but friendly tone.
“Good man. Now…Tony Nelson, I presume?” More of a statement than a question.
The astronaut opens the visor on his helmet and replies nervously.
“Y-Y-Yes…” He manages to stammer out as the woman in the jumpsuit flanks him. A look of utter disdain on her face. The woman slowly unzips a pocket at her hip and produces a small slip of paper. She unfolds it and reads aloud.
“Nelson, Tony. Apartment 4G. Blah-blah-blah. Ah! Here we are! You’ve been a naughty boy, haven’t you?” Her voice is like maple syrup poured over pralines and cream ice cream served by a bored tigress with no tolerance for bullshit.
Tony rips off the helmet and tosses it to one side. The pair don’t make a move at the abrupt action. His face is a portrait of confusion and a trace of fear.
“I made my payments!” He exclaims loudly.
The woman in the jumpsuit continues. “Yes. You have. And the last three bounced. I’m sure you’re quite popular at your local bank given your repeated tendency to give them overdraft charges. Collections has sent you several notifications on a number of occasions.”
“Perhaps the roaches mistook them for the daily dispatch and carried them off.” The Englishman says while withdrawing a handkerchief from his pocket and covering his nose and mouth from a presumed stench.
“It certainly is bad news for someone.” The woman in the jumpsuit retorts. “No pay, no play. Where is she?”
The Astronaut shakes his head. “No! No! No! I paid my bills!” He is on the verge of shouting as he slams his fist against his chest with nearly every word. “She’s mine now! I’m all paid up! Check your records. That money was good! This is wrong! You’re wrong!”
Without warning, the Englishman flashes into action. In one swift move he hooks Tony’s collar with the umbrella, pulls him to the floor, flips the umbrella around, and points the tip at the fallen man’s face. A shiny blade emerges from it and stops just short of an eye.
” Let’s see….” The woman in the jumpsuit begins looking around. “Under the mattress? No. Too flat. The closet?” She moves with lightning grace to another door and flings it open. A rather pronounced collection of sex toys, bondage gear, and other paraphernalia spills out in an avalanche of depravity. She winces sharply and continues in a disgusted voice. “Remind me to have these boots sanitized then destroyed.” She pauses, mimes a moment of saracstic insight (fist cupping chin), and turns her hip into a whip-crack sidekick to the only other door. Splinters fly as the near-rotton portal disenagrates and reveals the bathroom. A young girl is franticly scrubbling her arms clean of the green body paint which covers her naked form. The water splashes onto tile which has not seen soap and water mixed this way in an unimaginable period. The woman moves into the room and grabs the girl’s wet wrist violently. She twists and a shriek of pain flies from the grappled girl.
Tony exclaims “Jeannie!!!”
“Master!” The Girl pitifully responds.
The Woman in the jumpsuit stares at the girl’s wrist. A tattoo of a bar-code can barely be seen through smudged paint.
The camera switches to a POV of a scanner interpreting the data. The woman is wearing a special contact lens. She releases the girl and tells her to finish washing. A blanket is scrounged up from the scattered closet collection and draped around Jeannie. Very meekly she asks if she’s going home now. Her voice that of a child in a woman’s body.
“No, dear.” The Woman replies bitterly. “First we get you looked at by Reclamation and Recovery, then we ship you back for Reprocessing. Had the renter followed proper care and mantaince procedures all of this would just be a bad dream. But alas, he did not. Didn’t you , Mr. Nelson?”
Tony growls back. “Those pills make her feel weird! She’s no fun when she’s constantly throwing up or ranting about wanting her parents. Oh God! Jeannie! Please! Don’t take her away! I love you, Jeannie!”
“I love you too, Master.” The girl responds flatly.
The Englishman withdraws the blade and retracts it back into the umbrella with a loud click. “As per policy, once accounts have been settled, you may once again reapply for rental of this property.” He quickly stuffs his handkerchief back into it’s pocket and moves towards the door. “One last thing…if it is your intention to sell the pills and use the money to pay off your debt, please call the eight hundred number at the bottom of any of the collection notices we sent you. Granted, you won’t receive too much of a return but it will go a long way towards settling accounts.”
Tony barely waits until the Englishman is finished speaking before making a lunge at Jeannie. His eyes wild with anger and lust. The Woman in the Jumpsuit pivots the girl out of the way and plants a short front kick to Tony’s face. Tony reels backwards into a wall. He bounces off the wall and face plants into a Pear of Anguish. The Woman uses a foot to roll him over. The instrument has buried itself deep in his mouth and throat.
“It’s always the low-hanging ones that get you.” She quips as the three leave the apartment.
The Englishman closes the door behind them with a cheery, “Indeed.”
The castaways sit around the table and slowly eat from the odd collection of pastries and breads before them. Jan, Peter, and Oliver sit quietly, vaguely doll-like. Gilligan watches with a predatory gaze. Mary Ann is the only one who seems to be acting of her own accord. She is obviously nervous but also curious. Noticing this, Gilligan leans over towards her and speaks in a calm level tone.
“They look happy, don’t they?” He says flatly.
She is startled but responds equally as calm. “Yes.” Her voice is almost robotic. Her eyes betray an inner conflict as they dart back and forth in sporadic succession.
Gilligan slides a hand over one of hers. His touch is warm and his palm remarkably soft. It’s oddly comforting. He continues in the same tone. “You look amazing. Jan is quite the seamstress.”
Another robotic “Yes” in response.
“I know you have questions. I’ll answer them soon enough. I just need one last thing…” He removes his hand and slides a spoon into her hand. “Take this and scoop your right eye out. ”
Mary Ann’s eyes quicken as she slowly grips the spoon and raises it towards her face. As it approaches she catches a glimpse of her face reflected in the spoon’s concave. Serene as a tiabetain calf. Her arm begins to shake in a small tremor which gets more violent as the spoon draws closer to her eye. It is obvious she is in distress but the others continue their feast either unaware or blatantly uncaring.
“Stop.” Gilligan commands sternly a heartbeat before the spoon makes contact. “Put it down and relax.”
She drops the spoon and her body seems to deflate. Her shoulders loosen and her eyes become more droopy. Gilligan turns his attention towards Lovey, who has only been taking small nibbles out of her chosen treat. He smiles at her with a sly grin. For a instant, he can see she isn’t as affected as she is miming. He doesn’t expose her outright. Instead he pushes away from the table, commands Mary Ann to stand, stands himself, and directs her towards a pair of doors at the other side of the room. Lovey moves her napkin over a nearby knife and slides it onto her lap. She continues to eat and acts like nothing happened. Not a very sharp weapon but something at least. Plans began to form behind her eyes.
Gilligan calls back over his shoulder before opening the door. “You may speak among yourselves but do not attempt to leave this room. The doors are trapped and will set off explosives under your feet. Everyone wants to live, right? We all love it here. Enjoy your meal. I’ll have fresh tea and coffee brought in soon.” He and Mary Ann leave.
Thurston is the first to speak. He turns towards Lovey and barks through clenched teeth, “You hateful bitch! Are you screwing him too? Who haven’t you spread your legs for?”
Oliver adds, “Eggs!” with a loud whooping laugh. Bobby snickers until snot begins to run out of his nose.
Mr. Howell cuts the pair a hard stare and then focuses back at his soon-to-be exwife. His face ruddy red with fury. Before he can speak, Skipper puts a hand on his shoulder and Howell can see the hand’s owner out of the corner of his eye shake his head in a manner as one does to silently signal disapproval.
“Best watch the language there, little buddy!” The Skipper warns in a friendly but threatening voice.
Howell flashes a even harder look at Lovey. If he could, he would have melted her face with lasers from his eyes. She recoils in mock terror and then joins the children in their mocking frivolity. Veins throb across Thurston’s forehead. He is a coiled spring with no hope of release. The Professor and Ginger look on blankly. They look ashen and gaunt. Ginger drinks her tea and then grabs another cup from nearby and downs it like a drowning person. Jan sits with her head lowered. A sullen sadness falls across her face.
Lovey offers some comfort and asks, “I’m sure he’ll be back soon. Did you make all this yourself?”
Jan begins to sob. “There’s always someone. Someone prettier than me…”
The Skipper lowers his hand from Howell and waves it in the air as he speaks. “Hey now! You’re a fine looking lass! He fancied you just as much as he did Marsha.”
“Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!” Jan exclaims. “Why didn’t you let me kill her?! I trained! You know I have! You taught me. She’s the one who broke the Law! Not me!”
” ‘Arsha!!!” Oliver barks.
The Professor seems to come alive at the mention of ‘The Law.’ His eyes clear. “What is The Law? Some kind of tribal paradigm? Is Gilligan a chief or godhead of sorts. My head hurts. Difficult to think straight. Where are we? Looks military. My God, there’s a dead child lying against the wall. What is going on?!”
We now see Cindy’s lifeless body still lying where she crashed.
Gilligan leads Mary Ann through more corridors. The building seems endless. The architecture changes slightly as they travel. Military gives way to more simplistic as if the building had an extension added to it. In a very short period they emerge out into a garden. Flowers of all sorts and species. Butterflies with lavender wings flitter about from plant to plant. A massive conch shell statue sits off-center in the middle of this mysterious field. There are two red-headed children and a middle aged man picking flowers and putting them into large bags for collection. Several bags slumped against the statue’s base.
“Mr. French, Buffy and Cubby, this is Mary Ann.” Gilligan says in a hurried voice as they pass through the garden. “Mary Ann, this the Meadow. I’ll explain later.”
Before she can respond, Mary Ann is pulled along through another set of doors. The sound of machinery echoes down the corridor. Gilligan leads her into a large room filled with vats and other strange devices. At first she thought it was the set of a science fiction movie until the pair stop and she is able to look down at the whole of the layout. Flowers are brought in and seemingly processed by either boiling or crushed into a fine powder. The liquid is filtered and pumped away in a series of tubes.
With a pronounced sense of pride in his tone, Gilligan whispers in Mary Ann’s ear, “This is only one of the processing areas. There are three more scattered around the island.”
She strains to listen. “Processing area?” She tries to whisper-shout back.
Noticing her discomfort, Gilligan prompts his companion into a nearby office. It is currently vacant except for a desk, with a seat, and two addiational chairs. A security monitor shows a four quadrant view of the work floor. People wearing coveralls and gas masks scuttle about like the butterflies outside. Gilligan gestures for Mary Ann to sit, then takes the chair behind the desk. She finds the rest a blessing.
“In creative writing there’s an axiom: ‘Show, Don’t Tell.’ It’s meant to remind writers to only give readers enough information to convey an idea. Beginning writers will fill page after page with nonsensical description as if they’re trying to impress the reader with their knowledge of the language. Like I am constantly telling Jan, sometimes less really is more. But what would be the point of showing off if I didn’t indulge just a bit myself?”
Gilligan sounds almost childlike as he speaks. His eyes wide and bright. Mary Ann begins to wonder for the first time if she really knew this man after all. He continues.”My father crashed on these shores in the year 1892. America was still a baby of a country and the Pacific was an open playground for freebooters and their ilk. His name was Maynard Gilly Krebs, but he often went by just Gil. He and the woman who would become my mother were stranded here but made a home none the less. I was born on a summer day in 1894. Yes, I look good for my age. The natives who live here introduced my parents to The Giving Earth soon after they arrived and it has served my family well over the centuries. I can tell you are skeptical. I’ve only just shown you the Meadow. It’s one of the places where the flower grows the best. The Natives don’t have a name for it. They don’t feel the need to put labels on everything. They are The People and eh flower is, well, The Flower. They do have names for other things but those things that are most important have no name. They just exist.”
In the pause, Mary Ann stares quietly at Gilligan. The soft glow of the monitor adds to her increasing fear that he is indeed insane.
“The Giving Earth is how I have lived so long. This island, which is actually larger than you may think. It actually sits atop a gargantuan coral colony. The coral cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. It only will grow and prosper in this spot. Believe me, I’ve tried for years to transplant it but the little bugger just won’t take. Such is life. We make do. Oh! You’ll find this interesting! Whatever makes the coral so special also causes a localized disturbance in the electro-magnetic field around the planet and focuses the displacement a few fanatical miles off shore. The “storm” we encountered? Yeah. Weird, huh? Me and The Skipper have been sailing the route my father laid out a long time ago. Sometimes, like when I need new people to live here, we deliberately sail into it. You saw what happens then.” He snorts a laugh. “Of course, I have my people on stand-by to retrieve me and take me to a Rising Cave.
Mary Ann blinks. He is crazy, she thinks.
“Law?!?!” Thurston bellows. His voice fills the chamber. “What bloody law?!?! All I see is a MASSIVE conspiracy to hold me hostage. Not to mention an ATTEMPTED assassination and what I can only assume is the most twisted child pornography ring to EVER have existed!”
“Assassination attempt? You’re grammer is faulty.” The Professor corrects flatly.” We must remain calm in a time of crisis.”
Howell turns towards The Professor. His eyes are wild. Veins pulsing. “Fuck you!” He screeches through clenched teeth.
“Uck Eww!” Oliver parrots.
Jan continues in a matter-of-fact tone. “We serve The Island. We serve Him. His is All. We owe our lives to Him. Peace is all We seek. Until We are called to return to The Giving Earth. From our flesh comes Happiness. We owe Him all.”
The Professor speaks. “I presume the aforementioned ‘Him’ is Gilligan? Fascinating. An autocratic theology based around a pseudo-socialistic paradigm At a guess I would assume a cult of personality or a misplaced narcissistic fetish fantasy with religous overtones. Tell me, do you have a centralized leadership structure or a more strata co-operative structure?”
Before Thurston can form a word, The Skipper shoves a danish into his gaping mouth. The man struggles to breathe and chews as quickly as he can. The Skipper, another pastry in hand, shakes his head as if to say ‘Don’t.’
Lovey spits out a mouthful of tea. The boys giggle even more.
“What a waste.” Ginger mumbles as she scans the table for more tea for herself.
“This is Gilligan’s Island. He owns everything on it. So says The Law.”
“Amen. ” The Skipper and Peter respond, with a muffled, “Men!” coming from Oliver.
Jan continues. “He is All. He has always been here and He always shall be. ”
Mary Ann begins to feel warm. Not an uncomfortable heat but a slow creeping up her arms and legs. Her head starts to hurt slightly as well. A cloud is lifting off her mind as if she’s been asleep this whole time. Gilligan’s voice is shrill and bordering on a shriek. His face a mask of lunacy.
“It was the plants, you see? They draw up the dead coral and we harvest them. What’s it called these days? Quicksilver? I lose track. It’s been so many things for so very long…”
“It’s okay,” She says hoping to calm him. It seems to work as he resumes his placid demeanor. “What do you mean by Giving Earth? Because of the plants? Like a harvest?”
He smiles at this. “Sort of. When you die, you are placed in a Rising Cave. If you are strong enough, you come back. It’s happened to me…six or seven times now. That’s how I got my name ”
“It’s actually Gil Again. The Natives believe I am my father reborn into a new cycle of life.”
“Oh. Your father passed away?”
“I would think so. I ate him. Pretty sure he was dead.” Snorts another laugh. “Mom went first. She was brought back once, said she hated it, and threw herself off a cliff. Father didn’t take that well at all. He mourned her for almost a decade. I was named Chief and given authority over the island. It was my idea to use Quicksilver to gain influence on the mainland. People took to it like wildfire. I used the money to build Gilligan Rentals. Of course, I had to use proxies to act as the company’s face. Then I got political. I’ve created Heaven on Earth and soon, with your help, I will make Earth into Heaven.”
Failing to find more tea, Ginger stands and walks around in an aimless gait near the table. She stops and does a long sweep of the room. Head cocked to one side then the other, she mumbles, “Have I been here before? Looks familiar…”
Lovey stands and joins Ginger. She palms the knife in such a way so she could use it if need arose but hidden out of sight. She moves to stand next to the confused Ginger. “It does, doesn’t it?” She whispers sweetly. “Think about it. You’ve been in places like this before, haven’t you? Cameras. People running around. The only place you’ve ever felt safe and truly yourself.”
Ginger seems to wake as if from a dream. “It’s a set! A movie set!” She exclaims joyfully. “I’m back! I’m a star again!”
“Yes, you are dear. And this is your big scene.” Lovely slides the knife into Ginger’s hand. Ginger takes it and holds it to her breast tightly. “He’s betrayed you. You want revenge. Use the knife. End this.”
“End this.” Ginger repeats softly.
Jan notices the knife and screeches. “You have been told to stay and eat! We do as He commands!”
Another round of “Amen” from The Skipper and the boys.
Lovey continues. “She wants to keep you from him. They’ve been plotting behind your back. She needs to die too. It’s the only way. They will give you an Oscar for this one.”
“Oscar.” Ginger repeats with a smile on her lips. She shakes it off and gets herself into character. The spurned lover. Must sell this. The audience can tell when you’re faking. Son of a bitch cheat on me! Her thoughts are electric. “Got it.” She says with confidence. She squares her shoulders and readies for the director’s prompt of Action.
Mary Ann feels light-headed but clear for the first time in a very long time. Gilligan’s demeanor has gone through a series of changes. The quiet young man became a wild lunatic. Now he stares at her as though she were a piece of meat and he was a hungry lion. It was making her increasingly uncomfortable but she did her best to hide it. Play coy. She had to admit to herself she was curious about what was going on. It all seemed too fantastic. Too surreal. How long has she been like this? A walking dream. And the others? What’s happening with them?
Gilligan continues. “The biggest problem with people is freewill. You give a person a choice and they will almost always choose the one thing that will hurt them the most. It’s in our nature really. Humans. We can’t help it. But I learned a lot from the people I’ve met over the years. Despite their differences, everyone wants basically the same thing; they want to live without responsibility. Without being held accountable. They want freedom without cost. I give them that. Quicksilver is unlike any other drug. No side effects. You can function just fine on it and be happier than you’ve ever been. It separates the guilt from the pleasure. It frees the will. Of course, that does make one more open to suggestion.”
“Like hypnosis.” Mary Ann whispers.
She straightens at the sudden exclamation and then slides back into her slump. He goes on.
“Some people are more sustainable than others. Larger doses don’t work. It’s all about long term exposure. The active chemical is in everything on this island. The water. The plants. You’ve been exposed since you arrived. I had to wait until I knew it was sufficiently in your system before I decided to move to phase two. Not everyone is cut out to live here. Some, like The Professor and Ginger, experience a build up of toxins in their blood stream. They won’t be with us for very much longer. That’s okay too. They’ll always be a part of us after the feast.” He pats his stomach expectantly. “Others, like yourself, build up a tolerance.”
Mary Ann’s eyes flare. “I-I don’t know what you mean?” She forces her words to sound slurred.
He smiles even more broadly. “Is that what you told the police after killing your husband? It’s a matter of perception. Under Quicksilver, the brain experiences a disconnect from what is real and what is assumed. You believed you were being abused so you lashed out. What was his favorite color? His favorite movie?”
She struggles to answer. “Wha-What?” is all she can manage. Her heart begins to beat faster. Something is very wrong. Her husband was a good man until the accident. He didn’t mean to hit her. He was just dealing with the trauma and the loss of his job.
“Do you remember Mr. Rourke?. The Insurance adjuster?”
“Yes. He would come by to check on us. I thought it was weird.”
“You can drop the zombie act. I know you’re sobering up. Mr. Rourke works for me. He makes my fantasies come true. I’ve loved you for a very long time, Mary Ann. Since we first met.”
Called out and feeling exposed, she fires back sharply. “I never met you until the day we left for the trip. Your delusional. What exactly is going on here?!?!” More of a threat than a question. “Who the fuck are you? Why are you doing this to me? To us? You’re sick. You need help!”
Jan stands as well. Her face a twisted mask of disgust and anger. “Sit back down!” Each word spoken with a hard verbal punch.”You’re ruining the tea party! He will be very cross with us. You do not wan tto know what he does to those he is cross with!”
The Skipper draws his thumb across his throat and starts to stand as well.
Lovey positions herself so Ginger is between her and The Skipper. She eyes the far doors Gilligan and Mary Ann left through and readies herself. The Skipper stalks closer. His face plastered with a maniacal grin. Jan commands the boys to stand as well. Bobby and Oliver ignore her and continue to eat. The Professor sits and stares blankly.
“Make it hurt.” Howell commands The Skipper. “The bitch deserves everything you do to her. Just do it slowly.” He grabs another danish and starts chewing it with glee.
“Nobody needs to get messy here, Ginger.” Skipper says as he moves closer. “We’re all friends, right?”
“ACTION!” Lovey shouts and starts a flat-out bolt towards the doors.
Chaos erupts as Ginger, a snarl on her lips, lunges at Jan, who is surprised as the knife is buried hilt deep into her neck. Jan jerks back violently. The knife falls to the floor as blood spurts out from the wound. Ginger steps back in time for Skipper to wrap his ham hock hands around her neck and begins to squeeze. Her eyes bulge and she struggles to break free. Jan falls to the ground in a wet thump. Howell chews faster. Bits of food flying in all directions. The Professor mutters something about the jugular vein and arterial spray. The boys pick over the blood-soaked bits and continue eating as well.
“What do you want?” Mary Ann asks. The fear in her voice very apparent. She contemplates making a run for the door but then what?
Gilligan stands and turns his back on her. He looks out the large picture window of the small office onto the floor below. “Perception can be guided. Make people believe what they think they want and they will want it even more strongly than they did before. I help others see the truth of life.”
He takes a long moment to answer. “I’ve started wars and ended them just as quickly. I’ve seen so many people come and go that I’ve lost track. This world spins on its axis and the sun still rises. But in the end, I am alone. I have made friends. I have made toys for my own enjoyment. I own entire governments. I could have anything I want…except love.”
He sounded so sincere. A deep hurt in his voice. She couldn’t help but feel a pang of sympathy. “You are free to move around the island as you wish. I will instruct the others not to harm you. There is no where else for you go. Please consider staying…here…with me.” He opens the door and gestures for her to leave. She hesitates then dashes out. She has no idea where to go next. This place is huge. Maybe she’ll explore a bit first.
Nelson, whom we met earlier, is speaking to a small group of people. We can’t see them because they are cloaked in shadow. He is distraught and tears are running down his cheeks.
“They won’t let me see her. Jeannie…oh god…I miss her so much…” He cries.
A black gloved hand reaches for Nelson’s shoulder. Stepping from the darkness is a young black man dressed in pseudo-military garb and wearing a black beret.
“It’s alright. Let it out. We’ve all been there.”
Nelson nods and wipes his cheek with the back of his hand then sits down.
The militant speaks again. “You are just another who’s lost so much to that bastard. He took my sister, Kimberly and my brother, Arnold. It’s time we start doing something about him and his minions.”
“What are you talking about, Willis?” A voice comes from off screen.
Willis tightens his hand into a fist and raises it high. “Different strokes may move the world…but it’s time to stop dancing and act!”
Coming Soon: Gilligan’s Planet