The Two Ericas

EPISODE #22: FACULTY PARTY ZOMBIE ATTACK — Part two

Previously, on The Two Ericas

Erica is hoping to get her dream job at Maxnome University, but is in despair thinking (rightly) that she will never be able to pass the drug test. Meanwhile, Erika has become fascinated with coworker Tall, Handsome Jim, but is unable to penetrate his passion for the poetry of Emily Dickinson. The solution to both their problems? Professor Stanhope’s Brain-Switching Machine! Yet even with each of their brains in the body of the other, danger looms in the form of those nightmarish products of science gone wrong, ZOMBIES! Confused? Well, just check out the first part. Trust me, it’s worth it for the theme song alone.

INT., A MIDTOWN COFFEE SHOP. BOOTHS, COUNTERTOPS, FORMICA, VINYL-COVERED SEATING. ERICA IS SEATED ACROSS FROM T, H JIM, WHO IS RUMAGING IN HIS BRIEFCASE, NOT PAYING MUCH ATTENTION TO WHAT SHE IS SAYING. BOTH HAVE COFFEE IN TO-GO CUPS IN FRONT OF THEM.

ERICA: Whew, good to get out of the office for a bit.

T, H JIM: Uh-huh.

ERICA: All those phones ringing and people asking you for things … things you don’t know the locations of … people you don’t know the names of …

T, H JIM: Uh, what?

ERICA: Nothing, just thinking out loud.

T, H JIM, HANDING HER A SHEET OF PAPER FROM HIS BRIEFCASE: Here you go.

ERICA: What’s this?

T, H JIM: The numbers. For the March promotion? I mean, that’s the reason we’re here grabbing coffee, right?

ERICA: The March promotion! Yes indeedy, that’s why we’re here. Erika — by which I mean myself, of course — wanted to plug them into a piece that looks something like this.

ERICA HANDS JIM A SHEET OF PAPER.

T, H JIM READS: …This is good. Really good. Hank didn’t say anything about wanting a compare with last year’s numbers, but you’re right, I think it really makes our case.

T, H JIM BEGINS MARKING THE PAGE UP WITH A PEN.

ERICA: I am? Well … good.

T, H JIM, DISTRACTED: Sure you are. You shouldn’t be afraid to show this kind of initiative, you know. It’s okay to stand out.

ERICA, QUIETLY: I hide myself within my flower,
That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too —
And angels know the rest.

T, H JIM, LOOKING UP: Uh, sorry? I didn’t catch that.

ERICA: Oh, just saying I can be shy sometimes, is all. Yessir, shy. Shy as an Amherst poetess.

T, H JIM, GOING BACK TO READING: Well, you should do what you can to work through that. Lots of good opportunities at Verybig Interweb if you just keep plugging.

ERICA: Well, “Even God permits industrious angels afternoons to play.”

T, H JIM, OBLIVIOUS: Well, maybe God does, but Hank sure won’t. Here, these are the only suggestions I have off the top of my head, but really I don’t think it needs much work.

JIM HANDS THE SHEET BACK.

T, H JIM, GLANCING AT HIS WATCH: Make the changes, plug in the numbers, and we should be good to go. Any changes on your end I’m sure will be fine. Listen, I hate to cut this short, but I’ve been running late all day. I really have to get back. Unless there was anything else?

ERICA, APPRAISING CAREFULLY: … No. No, I don’t think there is.

T, H JIM: All right then. I’ll see you back at the ranch. Good work, Erika.

JIM GETS UP, GRABS HIS COFFEE, AND HEADS OUT. ERICA SITS STARING AFTER HIM. SHE TAKES A THOUGHTFUL SIP OF HER COFFEE.

ERICA (VOICEOVER): I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable, — and then
There interposed a fly,

AS HER VOICEOVER PROCEEDS, WE SLOWLY PAN UP TO THE CEILING LIGHT. SLOW DISSOLVE TO A MATCH OF A VERY DIFFERENT CEILING LIGHT, A SINGLE, UGLY, FLOURESCENT BULB, A NUMBER OF FLIES BUZZING AROUND IT. AS THE DISSOLVE COMES IN AND THE VOICEOVER ENDS, UP VOLUME ON THE BUZZ OF FLIES.

ERICA (VOICEOVER): With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.

WE ARE NOW INT., EXPERIMENTAL BIOSCIENCES LABORATORY. WE PAN DOWN TO THE ZOMBIE, STILL STRAPPED TO THE GURNEY. HE NOW HAS DUCT TAPE ACROSS HIS MOUTH, BUT IS STILL STRUGGLING GAMELY.

WE ZOOM IN ON A TINY RIVET THAT IS ATTACHING THE MAIN STRAP TO THE GURNEY. AS THE ZOMBIE STRUGGLES, WE SEE IT JUST BEGIN TO WORK ITS WAY LOOSE…

DR. GHAST WALKS PAST BEHIND THE GURNEY, AND THE “ATTENTION” OF THE CAMERA IS TRANSFERRED TO HIM AS WE PULL OUT AND UP TO MIDSHOT.

REVERSE ANGLE ON GHAST, SO WE SEE HIM FACE-ON. GHAST IS TALKING ON HIS CELL PHONE, HIS BACK TO THE GURNEY. WE CAN SORT OF MAKE OUT WHAT IS GOING ON BEHIND HIM PAST HIS SHOULDER. DURING THE PAUSES, WE CAN BARELY HEAR ON THE OTHER END OF THE CONVERSATION THE “WHA-WHA-WAA” OF THE FACELESS DEAN.

DR. GHAST: You don’t understand, sir, the work is in a critical phase and I simply cannot… He told you what? Well surely you don’t believe… Look, whatever evidence he may have produced simply does not matter. We’re on the brink of a discovery that will revolutionize… You called the CDC! Sir, there’s no need to involve… Tomorrow morning? What will they be impounding? … Everything!? Sir, you simply cannot —

CLICK FROM THE OTHER END OF THE LINE AS THE DEAN HANGS UP.

DR. GHAST: Sir? Sir?!

POCKETS HIS PHONE, SEETHING. DR. GHAST BEGINS TO MONOLOGUE HIS THOUGHTS. BEHIND HIM, WE SEE THE ZOMBIE SUDDENLY FREE ONE ARM, THEN THE OTHER, AND AWKWARDLY — BUT QUIETLY — CLIMB OFF THE GURNEY. AS GHAST’S SPEECH REACHES ITS CLIMAX, IT LURCHES UP BEHIND HIM.

DR. GHAST: Ruined! The entire experiment ruined! All because that fool Franklin lacked the vision to see what a watershed we’re at. Him. Him and that idiot dean. If the earth would only open to swallow the both of them whole. Wait… Swallow. With both of them gone, I would be the only person with any knowledge of the experiment. I could hide all the evidence and none the wiser. It seems, my foul-smelling friend, you may be getting those brains you’ve been hungering for after —

DR. GHAST TURNS. REVERSE ANGLE ON HIS REACTION AS THE SHADOW OF THE ZOMBIE’S HAND FALLS ACROSS HIS FACE.

DR. GHAST: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

Commercial break.

INT., THE TWO ERICAS’ APARTMENT. ERICA IS ON THE COUCH WITH HER BONG (TO HELP US REMEMBER IT’S HER), AND ERIKA IS JUST HANGING UP THE PHONE IN THE KITCHEN. SHE POURS HERSELF A GLASS OF RED WINE AND JOINS ERICA ON THE COUCH.

ERIKA: Well, Dr. Franklin was right. That was just the dean calling to invite you to the faculty party tonight.

ERICA: Will you please, please go? I want to get off on the right foot with these people.

ERIKA: I already said yes. I just wish I could go as myself. I think me and the good doctor shared a moment.

ERICA, GLANCING SIGNIFICANTLY AT THE DOOR TO THE BRAIN-SWITCHING MACHINE: Now Erika, remember the 30-hour rule.

ERIKA, BOTH HANDS UP IN A “I KNOW, I KNOW” GESTURE: Right, right, 30-hour rule. What did Professor Stanhope say would happen if we switched early again?

ERICA: Disastrous consequences.

ERIKA: That’s right. We should ask him some day to elaborate on that.

ERICA MOCK SERIOUS: Anyway, here you’re so busy making plans for yourself and your doctor friend you’ve totally forgotten poor Jim from the office.

ERIKA: The way you tell it there’s not much there to remember.

ERICA: Hey, I didn’t say he was oblivious to you, I said he was oblivious to the Dickinson. Acted like he’d never heard of her. But you, he seemed pretty into you, in a business-y sort of way. Loved your promo piece, thought you had a real future with the company. That sort of thing.

ERIKA: Gah! He’s all into poetry when I’m rockin’ my business savvy, and he’s all about the business when I try to get poetic. What’s with this guy?

ERICA: Well, maybe you should make a play for your doctor-fella. I’ll go along to the party so you can introduce yourself.

ERIKA: Keen!

ERICA: Well, in all fairness, I do want to meet these people I’ll be working with. And you may need me to bail you out of any post-structuralist conversations you get trapped in.

THEY TOAST EACH OTHER WITH THEIR RESPECTIVE INTOXICANTS.

CUT TO TWO WINEGLASSES BEING CLINKED TOGETHER IN CLOSEUP. THEY MOVE BACK OUT OF FRAME AND WE SWITCH TO MID FOCUS. WE ARE INT., THE BRILLIG LIBRARY. HIGH CEILINGS, MARBLE FLOORS, STACKS AND STACKS OF BOOKS. UP MUSIC FROM A STRING QUARTET, VIVALDI’S THE SEASONS.

MANY MEMBERS OF THE MAXNOME UNIVERSITY FACULTY MILLING AROUND IN BUSINESS-CASUAL WEAR. MANY LEATHER ELBOW PATCHES. SEVERAL WAITERS IN WHITE JACKETS SERVE DRINKS AND FINGER FOODS. AS WE PAN ACROSS THE SCENE WE NOTE (BUT DO NOT LINGER ON) A FOOD TABLE WITH CHAFING DISHES AND A PORTABLE BAR WITH LIQUOR.

AT LAST WE SETTLE ON DR. FRANKLIN, WHO IS GRABBING A STUFFED MUSHROOM CAP FROM A PROFFERED TRAY.

DR. FRANKLIN: Thanks.

HE TURNS TO THE LIBRARY ENTRANCE AND IS FROZEN, THE FOOD HALFWAY TO HIS MOUTH.

REVERSE SHOT, DR. FRANKLIN’S POV AS THE ERICAS MAKE THEIR ENTRANCE. THEY ARE, OF COURSE, STUNNING. THEY SOON SEE DR. FRANKLIN, WAVE, AND MAKE THEIR WAY TO HIM IN THE CROWD.

ERIKA: Dr. Franklin, I presume?

DR. FRANKLIN: Hello, Erica. Glad you could make it. And just call me Ben.

ERICA, UNABLE TO CONTAIN HERSELF: Your parents actually named you Ben Franklin?

DR. FRANKLIN: Yes, they did. My mother lost a bet.

ERIKA: Ben, this is my roommate and very good friend, Erica.

DR. FRANKLIN, LOOKING BACK AND FORTH: Two Ericas?

ERIKA: It can get very confusing at times.

THEY BEGIN MOVING, PAST THE STRING QUARTET TOWARD THE BAR.

ERICA: Hey! I remember reading about you! You were in a packet of stuff I was given — uh, by which I mean Erika was given — before my — that is to say, her interview.

DR. FRANKLIN, NONPLUSSED: You’re right, it can get very confusing.

ERICA: It said you were working with nanomachines to build artificial viruses — that sounds like something straight out of science fiction.

DR. FRANKLIN: Actually, it’s more like something out of a horror story.

BOTH ERICAS OPEN THEIR MOUTHS TO SPEAK, BUT BEFORE THEY CAN GET A WORD OUT, WE HEAR THE “DING DING DING” OF A KNIFE AGAINST A WATERGLASS CALLING FOR THE GROUP’S ATTENTION. CONVERSATION STOPS, AND ALL EYES TURN TO THE BACK OF THE ROOM.

JUMP CUT TO A VIEW OF THE BACK OF THE DEAN’S HEAD. WE ARE LOOKING OVER HIS SHOULDER OUT AT THE ASSEMBLED GROUP. IN THE BACKGROUND IS THE ENTRANCE TO THE LIBRARY. HE CLEARS HIS THROAT AND BEGINS A LITTLE SPEECH TO WELCOME THE ASSEMBLED FACULTY.

DEAN: Wah-wa-wha-wa-wa —

SUDDENLY THE LIBRARY ENTRACE BURSTS OPEN TO REVEAL THE ZOMBIE AND THE NOW ZOMBIFED DR. GHAST.

MID-SHOT, THE TWO ZOMBIES IN THE DOORWAY.

BOTH ZOMBIES: Braaaaaaaaaains!

REACTION SHOT OF THE CROWD. THERE IS A MOMENT OF STUNNED SILENCE, THEN PANIC! PEOPLE RUN IN ALL DIRECTIONS TO ESCAPE.

IN THE CONFUSION, THE PORTABLE BAR IS OVERTURNED. MANY BOTTLES OF LIQUOR SMASH ON THE GROUND.

DR. FRANKLIN: No! Dear God no!

ZOMBIE #1 GRABS A NEARBY WAITER AND DRAGS HIM TO THE GROUND WITH A BLOODCURDLING SCREAM. ZOMBIE DR. GHAST, PERHAPS ACTING ON MEMORIES OF HIS PAST LIFE, ADVANCES TOWARDS DR. FRANKLIN AND THE TWO ERICAS.

ERIKA: Ben, we have to run! If we run, they’re too slow to get us!

DR. FRANKLIN: This is my fault. I have to stop this!

HE ADVANCES TOWARD ZOMBIE DR. GHAST.

MEANWHILE, BACK BY THE ENTRANCE, ZOMBIE #1 STANDS BACK UP INTO SHOT.

ZOMBIE #1: Braaaaaaaaains!

JUST BEHIND HIM, THE NOW ZOMBIFIED WAITER STANDS UP, HIS WHITE JACKET STAINED WITH BLOOD.

ZOMBIE WAITER: Braaaaaaaaains!

ERIKA, MOVING AFTER DR. FRANKLIN: We have to help him!

ERICA, HOLDING ERIKA BACK: Erika, he’s not that cute!

DR. FRANKLIN, HOLDING A VIOLA LIKE A BASEBALL BAT, STANDS IN FRONT OF THE ERICAS AS THE GHAST-ZOMBIE ADVANCES UPON HIM. THEN THE GHAST-ZOMBIE STOPS AND TURNS TO LOOK AT THE ERICAS, TURNING FIRST FROM ONE TO THE OTHER WITH A PUZZLED LOOK ON ITS FACE.

GHAST-ZOMBIE: B…brains?

ZOMBIE #1 AND THE WAITER ZOMBIE SOON COME UP BEHIND HIM, AND THEY IN TURN BECOME VERY CONFUSED, STARING AT THE TWO ERICAS.

ALL ZOMBIES: Brains? Brains?

DR. FRANKLIN: There’s something about the two of you that’s confusing them!

ERIKA, IN AN UNDERTONE: They can’t match our bodies with our brains!

ERICA: That’s fascinating. Can we please run now? Very frightened.

ERIKA, POINTING TO HER LEFT: I’ve got a plan. You circle that way.

ERIKA TAKES OFF TO HER RIGHT. ERICA, AFTER A MOMENT’S PANIC, BEGINS RUNNING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

WE PAN ALONG WITH ERIKA AS SHE RUNS.

ERIKA: Ben! Get to the food table!

WE PAN ALONG WITH ERICA AS SHE RUNS.

ERICA, TO HERSELF: Very frightened very frightened very…

WE SEE THE ZOMBIES IN THE CENTER OF THE ROOM, SLOWLY REVOLVING AROUND AND AROUND, CONFUSED LOOKS ON THEIR FACES.

DR. FRANKLIN GETS BEHIND THE TABLE.

DR. FRANKLIN: What now?

ERIKA, STILL RUNNING: Tip it over!

BACK TO DR. FRANKLIN, WHO UPENDS THE TABLE. CHAFING DISHES CRASH TO THE FLOOR, FOOD SPLATTERS IN ALL DIRECTIONS, AND A SINGLE CAN OF FLAMING STERNO GOES ROLLING… ROLLING… RIGHT TOWARD THE ZOMBIES, WHO ARE, AS IT HAPPENS, STANDING IN A POOL OF SPILLED ALCOHOL.

ERICA, NEAR THE ENTRACE, COVERS HER FACE WITH HER ARMS AS SHE IS SUDDENLY ILLUMINATED BY THE BURSTING FLAMES.

ERICA: Eeeek!

REVERSE TO SEE THE THREE ZOMBIES, STILL SLOWLY TURNING IN THE FLAMES, AS THEY LIGHT ON FIRE AND ARE ENGULFED.

ERIKA AND DR. FRANKLIN JOIN ERICA BY THE ENTRANCE. THEY ALL STARE SOMBERLY INTO THE FIRE.

REVERSE SHOT OF THE ZOMBIES, NOW SLOWLY TURNING TO ASHES, AS THE LIBRARY FILLS WITH SMOKE.

BACK TO THE THREE OF THEM AT THE ENTRACE. THEY TURN AND HEAD OUT INTO THE NIGHT.

ERIKA: You know, you’re right. You do meet some interesting people at these things.

EXT., THE STREET OUTSIDE THE TWO ERICAS’ BROWNSTONE. THEY ARE A BIT SMUDGED FROM THE SMOKE AND FIRE. AS THEY ARE HEADING UP THE STEPS, THEY MEET PROF. STANHOPE, WHO IS JUST LEAVING.

PROF. STANHOPE: Why hello Erica, Erika. You look like you’ve been having a rough evening.

ERIKA: And how.

ERICA: We’ve been fighting the nightmares of science gone awry.

PROF. STANHOPE: Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear that.

ERIKA: Luckily, we had the edge we needed thanks to your brain-switching machine.

PROF. STANHOPE: Ah! I always knew entrusting those keys to your care was the right decision.

ERICA: Professor, you’re a man of science. What possesses a person to tinker with the foundations of existence when they know there might be — what did he call them again?

ERIKA: Disastrous consequences.

ERICA: Yes, disastrous consequences.

PROF. STANHOPE: Well, Erica, the only answer I can give you is to quote the words of Dr. Alonzo Osprey, just before he triggered the activation switch of his temporal displacement machine for the first time: “Having conceived it, I had no choice but to build it; having built it, no choice but to give it a whirl.”

THE TWO ERICAS TURN TO LOOK AT ONE ANOTHER.

ERIKA, TOTALLY DEADPAN: Men climb mountains because they’re there.

ERICA: Yep. Men do all kinds of dumb stuff.

PROF. STANHOPE, LAUGHING, MOVING ALONG DOWN TO THE STREET: Goodnight Erica! Good night Erika!

THE TWO ERICAS TURN BACK TO THE DOOR AND HEAD IN AS WE PULL BACK.

ERICA: Seriously, can you think of anything more exhausting than climbing a mountain? And I mean, once you get up there —

ERIKA: You’ve just got to climb back down.

ERICA: Exactly!

INT., A CLOSED DOORWAY. WE ARE EXPECTING TO SEE THE TWO ERICAS COME THROUGH THE DOOR BECAUSE WE JUST SAW THEM ENTER A DOOR, BUT INSTEAD WE SEE TALL, HANDSOME JIM. HE REMOVES HIS COAT AND THROWS IT OVER A CHAIR.

T, H JIM: Are you ready, Jim?

WE REVERSE TO T, H JIM’S POV TO SEE THE OTHER JIM, SITTING IN AN EASY CHAIR, READING A BOOK. WE ARE INT., THEIR DOWNTOWN APARTMENT. THE OTHER JIM LOOKS UP, THEN CHECKS HIS WATCH.

OTHER JIM: Thirty-two hours, ten minutes. Let’s go.

OTHER JIM PUTS HIS BOOK ON THE COFFEE TABLE AND STANDS. HE AND T, H JIM WALK AROUND A CORNER. WE DO NOT FOLLOW THEM. SOON, WE SEE COLORED LIGHTS FLASHING FROM AROUND THE CORNER, AND HEAR THE DISTINCTIVE SOUND EFFECT OF A BRAIN SWITCHING MACHINE IN OPERATION.

AS THE SOUND EFFECT REACHES ITS CLIMAX, WE PULL IN CLOSE ABOVE THE COFFEE TABLE. THE BOOK THE OTHER JIM HAS BEEN READING IS THE COLLECTED POEMS OF EMILY DICKENSON.

CUT TO BLACK, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDITS.

Commercial break.

ROLL END CREDITS OVER THEME SONG

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