search

for

something

Swipe left to keep

Kept articles are stored in your profile for you to read later.

Got it!

Black Mirror Comes to Fordham

movies and-tv

0
0
654
1

Fordham University

culture

- experimental

Black Mirror Comes to Fordham

Abandoned Black Mirror Script Promises Oddly Specific Existential Nightmare

Liam Semple

2.4.18

Read Time: 13 minutes.
Graphics by Claire Dillon.
An abandoned script for an episode that was to be included with Season 3 of Black Mirror has surfaced in a trash bin outside the Channel 4 London Office. One of our unpaid interns read the mysterious teleplay and has kindly forcibly provided this overview of its contents.

“An Entire Snap Story of You”

Written by Liam Semple
Based on concepts by Charlie Brooker
Imagine TRENT, a pudgy and slightly zombie-eyed New Jerseyan, played by Ed Sheeran from Game of Thrones. He’s smoking a blunt while his self-driving car returns him to Fordham following a relaxing winter getaway from the Bronx largely spent binge drinking in Manhattan. He is a senior, and boasts gaily on the phone to his cousin about his easy class schedule – two upper-level Gabelli classes and a liberal arts elective that 1) he can’t remember, and 2) he selected via dart while blackout drunk.

He glides up to the Fordham parking lot gate and pays the $3,936,256 monthly fee (so we know this is the near-future). He steps out of his car. While en route to retrieve his bags from the trunk, Trent’s car speeds away into the parking lot. Trent cannot retrieve items from his vehicle without checking it out early. All he has on him are his clothes, his phone (an iPhone V, a v-shaped phone that extends from his wrists like Spiderman’s web), a headphone dongle for his phone, his wallet containing $2600 (the cost of approximately eight Jägerbombs – again, near-future), and his blunt. Having already paid the parking fee, and extremely high off future-grade weed, Trent shrugs, and elects to return for his remaining clothes and books in a months’ time.

As Trent crosses campus, he sneakily tries to eye some of the women on campus, twitchily glancing up from his bowed head. Every single one of them is dressed in an XL grey Fordham sweatshirt and generic black yoga pants, with hair in a messy top-bun. Many watch their friends’ snap stories on their iPhone Vs, oscillating between laughs at the expense of drunk friends, and cursing under their breath, bemoaning the new Snap update.

Trent almost bumps into a girl while he’s keeping his eyes averted. She’s the only girl around wearing a cute top and jeans. “Hi!” yaps the peppy, overly-excited freshman, played by Victoria Justice from iCarly, Victorious, and Snow White and the Seven Thugs. “Hi.” Trent responds, backing away gently as if bracing to be hit.

The girl, TOREY, asks “Hey, since you bumped into me, could you tell me where Keating Hall is?”

“That’s the big one, with the bell tower. Are you new here?”

“Yeah!” She says with a whole lot of teeth. “Sorry, you must think I’m so dumb.”

“No, no, it’s, it’s cool. We were all new here, once, too.”

“Hehe, you’re sweet!” She touches Trent’s arm. His brow erupts like a volcano. “Hey, do you log onto the Mugz’s server when you go out? I heard some of the other freshmen talking about how cool it is.”

“Me? No, haha. I log onto Howl. They usually charge a $60 cover, but some of my friends go there eight or nine times a week so they all have VIP cards.”

“They have VIP cards for a bar?” She laughs.

“Yeah, they’re real alcoholics. They’d feel personally attacked if they heard or read me saying this somewhere.”

“Well, cool. Maybe I’ll stream myself there tonight.”

“Cool. I’ll see you.” And they awkwardly wave goodbye.

****

Trent goes about his day. He finishes his blunt on Ed, Edd, and Eddie’s Parade, he is assigned a kale-and-açaí smoothie at the Grille for lunch, and he straps into a leg-suit which runs his legs for him at the McGinley Activity Center. When he arrives at Walsh Student Hibernation Center, he returns to his room. The room is no larger than a Dealy office, and boasts only an L-Shaped Bunk Bed and a chest of drawers. The top bunk belongs to Trent’s roommate, CHUCK. They don’t talk much. He’s asleep on his stomach, a lit-up circular module attached to his temple. Chuck can spend all day on the Goose server.

Trent throws his jacket to the side and straightens out onto his back, staring at the ceiling. He thinks about Torey’s smile, and starts sweating again. He checks the time – 7pm. “Fuck it.” Trent attaches a module to his temple. It lights up, and he falls asleep.

****

Trent is standing across the street from Howl, smoking a cigarette. He’s spawned in next to a few of his friends. Well, not really his friends. They met while smoking freshman year and Trent hasn’t quite been able to shake them off. Besides, he likes the company. Trent checks his pockets. He has everything he had on his person when he connected to the server.

Trent enters Howl. The student body is unrecognizable; the languid zombies of the classroom spawn in as restless barstool maniacs. Trent sees many of the same girls he saw on campus, now wearing variants of Christmas-gift-designer-tops and "borrowed" outfits from former roommates.

Trent orders a pitcher for himself. He dances to Bruno Mars and gives aggressive hugs to people whose names he never learned but sees around enough to recognize. He gets more and more drunk, dances to worse and worse Chainsmokers songs, until he feels a familiar tap on the shoulder.

“Hiiiiiiii! How aaaaaaare yoooooouuu!” It’s Torey, arms held open for the hug of a near-stranger. Trent asks her to dance, and she squeals. The servers don’t go down until 3am, and the giddily inebriated Trent and Torey are among the last-call crew. Torey invites Trent back to her room on the Alumni South server, and they make love.

****
Trent awakes in his room at 10am. He pulls the module from his temple and tenderly rubs where it was attached. The Howl server takes a toll on the brain, leaving the player dehydrated and groggy. He drags himself across campus, where we see thousands of shambling zombie-students, wearing only the most apathetic groutfits. He rolls, almost literally, thirty minutes late to his 10 o’clock elective – which he discovers is SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS. Piece of cake.

That night, Trent returns to the Howl server, where he once again drinks to excess, and once again meets Torey, also in somewhat of a half-blackout.

****

The following day, Trent has a difficult time focusing in school. His endurance for his professors’ bloviating is at an all-time low (he is, after all, a second-semester senior), and their words bend and bleed together like a suspect LimeWire rip. He forces down his assigned kale-and-açaí smoothie, and doesn’t even bother with the Activity Center. Freshman fifteen, meet Senior forty.

When he returns to his room, he discovers, to his sincere surprise, that Chuck is not only not asleep, but nowhere to be found. Trent allots several drums of his fingers on his chin to this quandary, before shrugging and lying down for the night. Noting his reduced attention in school, he silently resigns himself to a night of natural sleep. 12am rolls around, and a restless Trent recalls that it has been five weeks since he last fell asleep sober. The rest of his weed is still locked in his car, so he considers his options: either confront insomnia, or log onto the Howl server for drinks and (in all likelihood) another passionate night with Torey.

Trent giddily submits to his temptations, and logs onto the Howl server. He meets with and goes home with Torey again. She maliciously asks “what are we?” but Trent stealthily wiggles his way out of a straight answer. Torey, annoyed but no less infatuated, meets his bullshittery with tepid enthusiasm.

****

Over the following week, Trent’s attention continues to worsen, until his Professors’ lectures closer resemble a bout of tinnitus. In fact, the only clarity Trent seems to find is in his adventures on the Howl server with Torey.

One morning, a Saturday after the second Friday of classes, Trent asks Torey, “Do you ever get, like, hardcore déjà vu?”

“I don’t think so. Like what?”

“Like…. I feel like the last week has just been Howl. Like I haven’t even gone to class.”

“Sure, I get that feeling sometimes.”

Trent rolls eagerly onto his side to look Torey in the eyes. “You do? Because I’ve been feeling that a lot this semester. Every night I log onto Howl and get drunk and hook up with you, even though we’re not dating.” Torey emits a sad, but almost imperceptible sigh. “And every day I wear the same clothes and sleep through class and….” He trails off, first with his words before his eyes.

“What?”

“Shit, I’m supposed to be looking for a job.”

****

The next day plays much the same for Trent. He can hardly remember the day of the week or which classes come at which time. Upon returning to his room in Walsh Hibernation Center, it dawns on him that Chuck has still not returned from whichever vacation coincided with the start of his final semester. Trent purses his lips thoughtfully, this time genuinely intrigued as to the whereabouts of his roommate.

Curiosity piqued, Trent attaches his module and logs onto Howl, this time with a suspicious observant eye. Scanning around the packed bar, a few fewer drinks in him, he awkwardly, momentarily locks eyes with three different people – a tall blonde volleyball player, the guy with the beard from his freshman Macro class, and a one of the bouncers - all taking snap videos of him on their iPhone Vs. Torey’s familiar tap on the shoulder startles him. She apologizes, and they leave Howl before midnight for an early night on the Alumni South server.

****

The following day, Trent is unusually irritated. He daydreams in class, conjuring scenarios in which he uncovers a sort of grand Truman-Show-esque conspiracy orchestrated by the student body to his detriment - but that would be ridiculous, surely.

On Howl, Trent notices the same three people – the volleyballer, the beard guy, and the bouncer – taking snapchats of him. Just as he notices, he is startled by the familiar tap on his shoulder. He sleeps with Torey on Alumni South.

The next night, the same three people – the volleyballer, the beard guy, and the bouncer – all taking the same snapchats of the same chaotic Howl simulation. This time, Trent carefully examines the faces of the people around him. Could it be the same people logging onto Howl with him every night? That shoulder-tap.

Next night, three people – volleyball, beard, bouncer – same snapchats. Same people drinking. Trent socializes a little more tonight. He asks around who recognizes who and who was in whose Texts and Contexts class, and so on. All second-semester seniors. Except for Torey, and her little tap on the shoulder followed by the hug and the hook-up.

****

The next morning, Trent awakes in a panicked sweat. Chuck still hasn’t returned to their room at the Hibernation Center, but someone has swung through to collect his things.

After class, Trent stood out on Ed, Edd, and Eddie’s Parade, impatiently tapping his foot, and pulling back the sleeve of the jacket he’d been wearing for three weeks to check his watch, and darting his eyes around in search of the peppy, overly-excited freshman played by Victoria Justice. At last he spots her, wearing her unmistakable cute top in situ of the expected XL sweatshirt.

Trent runs up to her. “Hey!”

“Hey!” She smiles, genuinely happy to see him.

“Listen, do you remember everything that happens on the Howl server?”

“Well, not everything, but—”

“Have you noticed the same people snapchatting us every night? Or that the same people are on Howl every time we’re there? I think somebody’s watching us.”

“Trent, you’re not making any sense--“

“Torey, listen to me. I think we’re in someone’s snap story. Think about it.”

She thinks about it. She looks around. So many people on their iPhone Vs, some number of them sending snapchats at any time, some number of those recording Trent and Torey.

The freshman nervously follows along with Trent’s plans. Every night he takes Torey away from the Howl server. They go to the Manhattan Bars server, the Brooklyn Bars server, they even try the Bergen County House Party server, each to no avail. The snapchatters follow them everywhere they go, and curiously they always find themselves rerouted to the Howl server before night’s end.

They gather on the Parade every day, and after so many days of running from snapchatters she cries to him “I don’t understand, is the Howl server a Snap Story? Or is everything? God, this doesn’t make any sense!”

With wobbly hesitation, he says “I’ll make sense of this, Torey, I’ll figure it out. I get my car back tomorrow from the parking lot and we can have it drive us upstate and we’ll get away from the bars and we’ll—”

“Trent!” A cheery, automated voice interrupts them. A PUBLIC SAFETY ANDROID - a silver, metallic, humanoid robot that maneuvers via metal heelys - has wheeled itself beside Trent and Torey. “I’ve been sent for you by the Director. He wishes to have a word with you about your slipping grades this semester.”

Trent gives Torey a kiss goodbye, the kind where his hand rests around her warm cheek, and her hand on top of his.

The Android leads Trent up the labyrinthine stairs of the McGinley Center for Student Evaluation, past the golden nameplate that reads STUDENT DIRECTOR.

The Director's chair spins around. Empty. Trent has but a moment to nervously telegraph his confusion before a noise emerges from the walls around him:

“We need to talk about your behaviour.”

****

A FLASH OF LIGHT

****

DIRECTOR RODGERS, head of the Central Fordham Student Hatchery and Conditioning Center, peers down his nose at an iPhone playing a Snap Story of Trent sitting across from him in his office. The video ends, and the story vanishes.

The Director lowers the phone onto his broad, ivory desk. He peers up at a timid-looking RA. He shakes his head. “No good. He wastes his second-semester senior year drinking, having sex, and falling asleep during class. Remove the clone from Heat Conditioning at once, and I will notify his parents their son has been rejected from Fordham University.”

After an anxious pause, the RA asks “Director, if I may ask a question.”

“You may ask one question.”

“What will you tell his parents?”

“That their son does not uphold my Jesuit Values.”

Our Jesuit Values, surely? Director?”

“Hm? Yes, did I say something different? Go deal with the Jersey boy, RA, I’ve got a presentation to prepare for.” The RA nervously vacates the office.

A clone of Trent, a wee freshman, sleeps in a heated hyperbaric chamber in his Loschert dorm-room, a module attached at his temple. Snow falls outside the open window. The RA looks up and down the hopeful young boy and, crying, pulls the plug on the Trent clone’s chamber. He freezes to death while his mind remains prisoner in the simulation.

****

At a modest, suburban home in Hillsdale, New Jersey, an eighteen-year-old Trent excitedly tears open a notice from Fordham University. His eyes soak up the words “We regret to inform you…” and he tosses it with a dejected sigh into the garbage.