Opening shot, a lighter being lit with a left hand.
Snow can be seen through the window behind it…
Camera pulls away to reveal Ash, pointing a gun at the camera with his right hand, while facing his Zippo-looking lighter and lighting a cigarette. (Note: All is in grey & white, but the flame is in colorful Orange with Blue Cobalt flame below)
His right hand, pointing the gun…is softly shaking.
“A case to end all cases.” we hear from a voice-over..as Ash lights his cigarette, though his eyes are watching where his gun is pointed.
Flash to the daytime. We see traffic moving terribly slow, from the street-level-perspective.. and we see the roads winding up, then down..leading to the city in the distance.
Closer, we see a panoramic shot of the dark city buildings, unidentifiable..as we pan down to see the web of highways and roads. there is white smoke scattered throughout the city, and we hear car horns honking.
“You know what I mean, Dina?”, we hear Ash ask. Suddenly, near the outside fire escape, we see “Private Investigator” written in cursive neon tubes..with a giant replica of a revolver below it…it is his sign for his business.
We glimpse at an antique clock, (with Roman Numerals) on it..and it is pointing to 3:36. “I used to think being a private detective was cool.”, Ash’s voice over continues. We see detailed maps of the city, dissecting it into grids on his walls. “..like Sam Spade, or Phillip Marlowe, right?”, Ash finishes…”..but there’s nothing ‘cool’ left to it.” We pan through his place to reveal it is messy, and the fridge is barren. Ash closes it. “On top of that, both my fridge..and my bank account are empty.” A phone rings..the camera pans to the right as we see old, old, old versions of cpu’s…with 2 separately mounted thin (breakable looking) monitors, and a stenographer-ish type writer wired into a board with a distinct ‘V’ shape. There are various wires and ‘peripherals’ if you will, hooked up to it. Much like an ‘operator switch board’. On these screens is a detailed map of the city broken down into sectors. We see two separate lights on the ‘V’ board flash, then stop, then the other flashes…Ash walks by.
He reaches for a rotary phone similar to the one in Thomas’ apartment. “Wait,”, he says with his hand above it, “..ok Dina..lets bet…” we see his room # is 201, reversed on the door behind him. The phone still rings. “…if it’s another suspicious husband, I’m out of this business forever.” Dina meows. She is a fluffly white cat sitting on the headrest of his desk chair.
“Hello?”, Ash says, as we get a shot of him with his window behind him…sitting on his desk. The fan blades slowly spinning give off the slowdown of time effect. “Mr. Ash….we have a job for you.”, a cold-monolithic voice calmly says on the phone. “…And you need me to check on your wife, right?”, Ash responds. There’s silence..we hear ‘beeps’ from the background noise. The voice continues, “I’m looking for a computer hacker, this hacker goes by the alias ‘Trinity’ and that’s all we know.” Ash looks to his cat…”Well, it looks like we’re still in business, Dina.” Dina meows. Ash finishes, “Fine..and who will I be working for?”..he asks. “I can’t say.”, the voice replies. Ash gets irritated. “You can’t say (sarcastic repeating),,well call me back when you CAN say, that’s not the way I do business.”, Ash harshly says. “It was a real pleasure chatting with you. (dry humor voice)” He takes the phone receiver from his ear, about to hang up. The voice from the phone says, “..Before you hang up..take a look at your bank account balance.” Ash looks quizically at the phone. He presses a button on what looks like an old personal computer terminal. On screen it says “Bank”..and there are 12 unlit squares. Suddenly along the bottom scrolls ‘800,000’. Ash’s jaw drops.
Flash to a shot from under a street-level Tram Car’s rails. Like a bumper car, but a train car, attached (above) to tracks going overhead. We hear the ‘clanging’ of the bells. We see city life hustling and bustling as usual.
Inside Ash’s office. “I didn’t get a good feeling about the case..” Ash’s voice over continues. We see him dial a rotary phone, right-handed, and when he hits the end of the dialer..the 4th light up on the ‘V’ board becomes lit. He lets the dialer go, and dials another number…this time, the 6th light up gets lit. In the background are the screens with the city maps on it. After dialing, the screens move their target..and we see the ‘view’ of it shift, and get closer. Ash’s voice over: ..”..but I had no ‘good reason’ to turn the guy down now.” We see Ash walking towards the camera, outside, in the midst of white smoke, city sounds, and random civilians walking by. with indiscriminate neon lights in the background from the city. The most notable is “HOLYDAY”, “POPCITY”, and “BIRDIE”..as well as one that says “Sweet S-” (the rest is blocked) Ash’s character is clearer than the rest.
Flash to his office again. Ash’s voice over as we see him navigating through his version of a computer….”This ‘Trinity’ was well-known in hacker circles.” We see Ash holding up a piece of paper and motioning to a man outside a store that says, “Buy, Sell, and Trade Computer Parts” across it. ..(Ash’s Voice Over continues)..”..a real ‘artist’ by the sound of it.” The man Ash was motioning to, waves his hand around, motioning that he knows nothing. (Voice over) ..”The cops were always one step behind him.” We see Ash’s two computer screens, one seeming to ‘fly’ ove the city..gridding everything out..and the other scrolling with text. There is a circle piece of equipment that has electricty coming from the center..and gently lapping the edge of that circle.
We see Ash standing on his fire escape, looking into the building-maze of a city. (Voice over continues) …”So I knew I could get THAT close..the question is..’could I get closer?’..” Again, we see Ash removing and replacing wires and connectors in his ‘V’ board in his office. (voice over) ..”I had a few tricks up my sleeve for getting the hackers.” Next we see Ash in a store that says “Anitique House” reversed on the window. There are lots of old clocks (like Ash has in his office) and Ash is pointing to a piece of paper, while the old man clerk watches his directions.
(Voice over)..”While I was searching…I found something….strange.” We see Ash’s office lit up from the glow of his computer..all else is dark. Camera pans down to reveal under the El Train again. Classic looking cars slowly go by. “…other detectives had been on the case, too.”, his voice over states, “..and their investigations had all been…lets just say…’troubled’.” Ash is driving, we see the city through his side window passing by. A sign says “LIGHTHOUSE” behind him.
Flash to a still scene of a messy house with wood boards everywhere. We see a noose hanging from the ceiling. (voice over continues..) ..”One of the guys killed himself.” Flash to an empty bed in an empty room with the window open. “Another…….disappeared.”…”an another..” we see a doorknob, surrounded by wooden planks that were messily nailed into place on the door….a barricade. ..”..went crazy.”
“So I paid the one that was left….a visit………..the crazy one.” We see Ash walking to his car…all is dark, but as we hear a train’s sounds…light creeps up in bars of 3, as if leading us to Ash on screen.
Next we see a man hunched over, in front of 3 windows, with “Find The Red Queen” written in sloppy red letters above the windows. Different, scared male voice…”Trinity…doesn’t exist, man…..He’s not real…he’s a…a figment…a cypher……..a jabberwocky.” The camera creeps up behind him. The next shot is from in front of him, revealing an African American male, clean cut with a mustache..we can see Ash standing in the background..the scared man finishes, “..And who am I…who the heII am I?” Ashes head looks down, and we get a shot from above. It reveals a giant 8 by 8 chessboard, drawn out on the floor of the room. The line dividing the squares are red like the message above the window. Ash is standing on the second square up, fourth from the right. (A Pawn position). The scared man is sitting in the seventh square up, fourth from the right. (A ‘almost’ Queen position). Note: The scared man is on the same column as Ash, and is directly 4 squares ahead of him, 1 square from the other side with the windows. (A Pawn trying to become a Queen?)
(voice over of Ash) “Did I mention he was crazy?” We see a sign reading “The World Is Yours” in yellow neon tubes. We see Ash, in his office, opening “Alice In Wonderland”. (voice over) “..Chessboards….Jabberwocky….’Red Queen’…” We see Ash’s computer screens starting off with a solid point on the city map..then spreading in 8 different directions (Trinity’s routes?)..the other screen is scrolling text, and occassionally highlighting one line. (voice over continues..) ..”I started searching all the usual hacker hang outs for someone with an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ M.O.”….we hear the old sold of a type writer’s keys being pushed…(voice over)..”..Hacker bulletin boards, anonymous mail boxes…chatrooms…and it was in one of ‘those’ that I picked up Trinity’s trail.” His computer screens are practically filling with information.
Cut to a side shot of Ash’s right hand pressing keys. We see his screen:
—- ## UNAUTHORIZED USER LOG ON: ——————————-
> Red Queen. Can you see me?
I am looking for Trinity.
I am told he is through the looking glass.
(camera zooms to the line..)
RED_QUEEN > No. It is you who is through the looking glass.
Ash is surprised, we get a shot from behind him as both his screens are in front of him. There are RED grids dissecting the city on one of his screens. He types:
WHITE_PAWN > How can I meet you? (we wait a second..)
RED_QUEEN > You’ll have to jump the first of six brooks.
I’ll be there at 20:05.
## USER LOG OFF RED_QUEEN ##
> SYSTEM ERROR SHUTTING DOWN.
Ash’s RED grid over his city map disappears. His screens go black. We see him despondant.
Flash to a shot from above, watching the snow fall down on a busy intersection surrounded by tall buildings. Various horns and chatter can be heard. Pan up to see, from the side, snow falling on the very dark city.
We see the “The World Is Yours” sign outside Ash’s window. He repeats to himself “Six brooks..I’ll be there at twenty o-five…” He is seen relaxing with his feet up in his dark office. The only light is coming from outside…and Dina, his cat, is sound asleep. Ash holds a magnifying lens to the Alice In Wonderland book. We see:
…suppose it said…….
…., One of the Knights….
…Eight square, we……
….feasting and fun!……..
Ash jumps out of his seat, his hat falling off. “Of course!”, he says. We see his computer screens highlighting various lines in his maps. “Crossing the 2nd brook takes her into the woods…”…..the computer is highlighting…”..Alice jumps the FIRST brook….” Ash stares at his screen. A Split is highlighted, flashing. He finishes…”..And then she boards a train.”
He grabs his coat, and runs out his office, down the stairs…outside, we hear a ‘meow’…Ash looks back, to see Dina holding his hat in her mouth..she tosses it to him out of her mouth..”Thanks!”, he jolts.
A train pulls into the station..and Ash rushes to catch up to it.
“Hey!….Hey!” he says out of breath, reaching for the rail. We see the train go snaking through the city. We see a door that says “Push”.
Ash walks in, and instantly aims his gun to his right. A gun is already pointed at him from the booth. We get an overhead, almost camera-like shot of Trinity, sitting, pointing a gun at Ash…he is standing, not facing her, pointing a gun back. We can see a bag in the corner of the room. “I knew this was some kind of trap.”, he says dryly. We hear Trinity’s voice calmly say, “There’s a difference, Mr. Ash…between a Trap..and a Test.”..Ash answers, “You were testing me?”…Trin responds..”You made it…I’m impressed.” We get a shot of the gun pointed at Ash’s right cheek, he says, “Flattery will get you everywhere.” Trin quickly and coldly says, “Im not here to flatter you Im here to save you.” She places the debugging machine directly on his left eye…we hear him grunting and wincing in pain. The bug hits the glass and goes limp. Ash lets out a moan of relief. Quickly, we see 3 passengers transform into Agents while still in their seats.
We see Ash up close, with Trin behind him. “What just happened?”, he asks. “Mr. Ash..dream of having an eye exam lately?”, Trin inquires. Flash to 3 men in white coats and square glasses looking at the camera with Ash in the foreground. A hot white light is shining on him. We then see a flash of Ash’s left eye, up close..there are 3 metallic arms holding his eye open..his other eye seems lazily sleepy. (back in the train car) Ash finishes..”Yeah..how’d you know?” We see Trin’s hand hold up the bug in front of Ash. “You’ve stepped to the edge of the looking glass.”, Trin calmy replies. Ash reaches with his right hand and takes the bug. “So that means…that I WASN’T dreaming.” Ash says out loud. We see the 3 Agents stand from their seats. Ash asks, “They hired me as a way to get to you, didn’t they?” We hear indiscriminate screams in the background..Trinity turns, opens the door, and looks out ..to her left, down the hallway. “GO!!”, she yells as she sees the 3 Agents standing there. Just as Ash sticks his head out..the 3 Agents begin firing their Desert Eagles..(right-handed)…glass shatters around Trinity as she rolls and slides around a corner…Ash while running back turns and fires 4 shots. He makes it to the next car..and bullets are heard and seen hitting the doorframe he just entered…he turns and fires once more before the door closes.
Ash unloads his revolver, “What the heII is going on here?”, he asks, as he reloads his pistol. He finishes.”..This is really crazy. Now I understand what happened to those other detectives…they went ‘nuts’.” We see Ash in the foreground, with a gun-ready Trinity standing by the door. We hear muffled, “Hey! What are you doing guy?” , in a random male voice. Trinity and Ash stand to go to the next car. “Well..”, he says, “I’ve gotten out of worse jams than this.” The door then opens to the next car. Ash is pointing his gun at the previous door. “I am NOT gonna let them get you.”, Ash says sternly. He and Trinity go to the next car. Next, we see Ash’s hands grab a chair. “Ugh!”, he exclaims. Trinity stops running to look. We then see Ash flash back and forth between himself, and an Agent body. Back and forth, back and forth. “What’s….happening…..to me?”..Ash painfully asks. We see him grinding his teeth as the Agent-oriented glasses flash on and off his face. Trinity’s face gets tight. Her eyebrows shake, then grow fierce. “I’m sorry…you didn’t make it Mr. Ash.” She points her gun at him. She fires into his right side..and as she does..the sound of code tumbling suddenly fades…and all we hear is the sound of the train on its tracks. Overhead, we see Ash slump in his chair. He’s panting.
Trinity continues walking to the next car. Ash, not looking at her says, “I wish…..I could go with you.” Trin stops and comes back to Ash..her face showing care. “I don’t blame you, you know..”, Ash says, as we see Trin’s back in the foreground, and a slumping Ash in the background, ..”…everything that happened, Trinity..it….it was all my fault.”, Ash proclaims. We get a close up shot of Trin’s face, and her features reveal that she is concerned. Ash finishes…”..All that ‘through the looking glass’ stuff….ugh…I …can’t get my head around it. Im old fashioned.” Ash grins. (old, like ‘antiques’? like his clocks and computers? heh.)
Trinity turns and faces the window. We hear her say, “There’s a difference, between a Test….and a Choice.” We can only see her back, and we witness her sigh. She finishes, “For what it’s worth..I think you could’ve handled the Truth.” Flash to Ash’s smirking face. “It was just a job.” We see Trin aiming at the camera (out the window) with Ash in the background. “Goodbye, Trinity.”, he solemnly says. “Good..bye”, Trinity painfully responds. She shoots out the window in front of her, and dives out…we can suddenly hear more loud noises of the train and the city it’s approaching. Flash to a stand still shot of the train passing us by…with the city small and lit up in the distance.
Next, the door separating the cars opens…3 Agents look around, and walk through. We see Ash’s hat in the 4th row…next to a broken window..the Agents approach the hat and window..to find Ash not there. Then, we see a gun pop up in the foreground..pointing at the Agents. (the old ‘go to another cubicle’ trick? heh). The Agents turn to wards the gun pointed at them. We see Ash, sitting, pointing a gun with his right hand while lighting his lighter in his left…he is attempting to light a cigarette. The gun in his (right) hand is shaking. We see the middle Agent get frustrated, and prepare to strike..when another Agent holds his arm across him..stopping him. From the perspective of behind the gun…we see it waver to each of the Agents’ bodies. Flash to the Zippo-like lighter, whose flame is noticeably brighter than before.
In a voice over, we hear..”A case to end ALL cases.” He lights his cigarette.