Short Stories. The Healing Bullet.

 

This is as screenplay – Final Draft format.

INT or EXT = Interior/Exterior.

Named Caps = characters.

VO = Voice over

Opening scenes from my screenplay, factual account of Howard Florey and Penicilan.

INT. FIELD HOSPITAL WW1 – DAY

France WW1

Outside the noise from powerful Guns firing is deafening.  Screams from injured soldiers is muffled as Shells explode on impact in the waterlogged quagmire, shaking the ground. Amid the horror, the battlefield is strewn with corpses.

Seriously wounded BRITISH soldiers lie everywhere. THREE SURGEONS in white overalls smothered in the blood cannot cope as more casualties are stretchered in. One young surgeon ALEXANDER FLEMING speaks in a broad Scot accent to a colleague as he draws the sheet over the dead soldiers’ head.

FLEMING. It’s not the wounds that are killing them. It’s bacteria, and until we find what kills them. More men will die.

Fleming stares at a SOLDIER’s shattered leg. GRANT a confused surgeon unsure what to do about it, looks at Fleming for an answer.

FLEMING. That leg has to come off, get him ready and I’ll show how we do it in this hell hole. First, I’m going out for a cigarette.

The other surgeon relieved…….? stares at Fleming.

GRANT. I’ll join you.

FLEMING. You don’t smoke.

GRANT. It stops me spewing up. Grant dashes outside hand over his mouth.

A phalanx of assorted squirming BACTERIA smothers the screen.

BACTERIA are seen multiplying in a single drop of water, contained in small circular dish.

DEATH CERTIFICATES float down onto the dishes.

INT. HOSPITAL. AUSTRALIA – DAY

Melbourne, Australia. 19…?

A near-naked Australian aborigine called WANDERER dressed in only a loin cloth is stopped by a security MAN in the entrance.

SECURITY. Can I help you?

The aborigine stares around the high ceiling building,

ABORIGINE. Where can I find Sir Archibald?

SECURITY. He’s a busy man, you got an appointment?

He doesn’t hear the man.

SECURITY. Hey, you mate. he’s a busy man. Hop it.

The security man grabs his arm, Wanderer wrenches it away, pushes the guard to the ground, and dashes to the first door he sees and opens it.

INT. OFFICE -DAY

Professor DAY sits writing at his desk, he looks over his reading specs. The guard struts in rubbing his head, as Wanderer moves alongside Day, he gets up.

DAY. What’s all this about? Who the hell are you, and what do you mean barging in here like this?

The guard tries grabbing hold of Wanderer who stands his ground, deterring the guard momentarily.

WANDERER. Can.  to see the man in charge. Is that you?

SECURITY. Yes, so what do you want before I have you arrested.

Wanderer unties some rolled up leaves from his animal skin belt. He opens it and lays it on the desk.

WANDERER. This works magic for us, cures snake bites and wounds.

Resting in the leaf is a small pile of muddy brown powder. Wanderer walks to the open door where he stops and turns.

WANDERER. You should try it.

As Wanderer exits, Day stares at the powder and smirks. Sir……? drops the powder and the leaf in his rubbish bin.

As the powder drops into the bin we SEGUE to WWI battlefield as dirt is blasted over the screen.

When the dirt clears we see a hospital tent. Fleming – masked is bending over a casualty.  He works away at the man’s wounds and when done, tears his mask off his face and storms out of the tent.

FLEMING. Oh what’s the bloody use of saving them if they are going to die from infection anyway!  It’s wrong, wrong, wrong!

He sits down, holding his head, on an overturned crate.

FLEMING. I. Or someone has to find a way to stop the bloody infections.  God give me strength.

ON SCREEN:  AUSTRALIA 1918

EXT. HOSPITAL – DAY

A young man, HOWARD FLOREY runs across the grass to where a young lady MARY REED is lying on the grass studying.

FLOREY. Mary!  Mary!

Mary looks up and smiling closes the book as Howard throws himself down beside her.

FLOREY. Mary, I got it!  I got the Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford!

Mary’s face shows her excitement then a fleeting sadness.

MARY REED. So when will you be leaving?

FLOREY. As soon as possible.

MARY REED. How are you ever going to pay for the journey over?

FLOREY. Don’t you worry your pretty head about those kinds of things, I have it all planned.  I’m going to work my way over as a ship’s doctor.

Instead of sharing his excitement Mary looks crestfallen.

Howard gently takes her in his arms and holds her close.

FLOREY. Come on, buck up.  You know this is my dream, to do research, and where better than Oxford, in Bloody Old Blighty, heh?

Mary snuggles into his arms and looks up at him teary-eyed.

MARY REED You’ll never come back to Australia, I just know it.

Howard looks down at her a loving smile on his face.

FLOREY. Maybe not, but what’s to stop you coming over to England?

Mary looks at him and sits up.

MARY REED. For what?  I’m not through with my studies yet.

FLOREY. Well, I’ll have to find my way around, get some money to keep me going and while I’m doing that you can finish your studies and then we can get married.

Mary looks at him incredulously.

MARY REED. Married?  Are you proposing?

Howard stands up laughing, pulling her up and enclosing her in his arms.

FLOREY. I guess I am!

They kiss passionately.

EXT. STREET.DAY

Four happy young men burst on to the pavement from a bar. One ALAN HOBBS accidentally nudges a middle-aged lady. Florey steadies her.

FLOREY. Sorry Maam, there we are, no harm done.

The woman is angry. She glares and approaches them.

WOMAN. My husband died for the likes of you lot. Get a uniform, kill the Germans. I see none of you have. the brass badge that says your wanted here. So none of you are. Go and fight, you bloody cowards. Here… you.

She tugged a feather from her pocket and pressed it in Florey’s hand. He started at it aghast at the white feather.

WOMAN (CONT’D). All of you want one. Now push off and do something useful for a bloody change.

INT. FLOREY HOUSE. NIGHT.

Mr. and Mrs FLOREY talk to Howard; he holds the feather.

MRS. FLOREY. You’re only eighteen Howard. You have lot of work to do here.

  1. FLOREY. His mind is made up mother. He’s done well to be selected as the ships doctor

INT. LABORATORY. DAY

London 1922 (Month known)

Fleming stares at several dishes.  He takes one and slots it under the microscope. Accidentally sneezes over it. He curses, wipes his stuffy nose, decides to leave it all because of a heavy cold. The next day, he sees a mould had developed and the mucous bacteria had gone. Further tests showed the fluid in which the mould grew is antibacterial. He added notes to his bulging file. Its title LYSOZYME

EXT. DOCKS. DAY.

DATE REQUIRED. 1922 poss., December.

Florey and Alan Bates talk as an announcement blats over the area.

LOUDSPEAKER. All those going aboard, do so now.

Ships siren hoots several times.

FLOREY. You’ve only got to do that last year again Alan. Come on mate, we need good surgeons. Maybe you’ll get to England.

BATES. Take care pal. I know you’ll make good. Sort out these bugs. You can do it. Good luck.

EXT. DECK OVERLOOKING TOWN. DUSK.

Florey stares toward the town and hills beyond. A CREWMAN approaches.

CREWMAN. Doctor Florey. A note to you, someone needs your help. Follow me please Doc.

The ship leaves the harbour.

EXT. DOCKS-GERMANY NIGHT

A cargo ship pulls up an anchor. Painted on the bow.

HAMBURG.

EXT. SOUTHAMPTON DOCKS. MORNING.

Date Req.

A lone figure stands alongside a suitcase. He tugs the coat collar around his neck, swings his arms, as he looks around the deserted area. His name is ERNEST CHAIN.

A man approaches, it’s his driver.

DRIVER. Excuse me sir, Professor Chain?

CHAIN. Yes, that’s me.

The driver lifts the case and extends his hand. Chain shakes it.

DRIVER. I’m Charles, your driver. Let’s get you up to Cambridge, I’ve got a car behind the barrier. Good to have you aboard sir. Let’s hope the Germans don’t get across that strip of sea. Not a good place for folk nowadays.

CHAIN. Particularly for us Jews Charles.

 

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