EXT. EMERSON PARKING LOT — MORNING
Leo comes to a quick stop in the parking lot at the old Emerson Elementary School, which sits in the middle of 8th street within walking distance of both the highschool football field and Mr. Kidderman’s house. Hannah pulls up as Leo and Rich get out of the car. She waves and starts to say hello, but she’s stopped short when Shelly parks between her and the others.
Shelly slams the door of her car when she steps out and steps towards Rich.
(eagerly displaying her
What’s going on?
(from the sidelines)
I guess that Mr. Kidderman
needs our help with something weird.
Rich shoots Leo a dismissive glance and turns back to Shelly.
means to say is that Mr. Kidderman
got ahold of me and asked if I
would help him with his dog. He thinks it broke
just like my old phone did when RJ…well,
you know what happened. And anyways, we got
ahold of you because we felt — right,
Leo? — we felt like we’re in this together,
and everyone deserved to know. So now…
(almost, but not quite,
distinctly to himself)
I sent the text to everyone…
texted everyone and —
You think that maybe we
could make a trade with Mr. Kidderman?
I mean, he’s a Hereafter rep and stuff.
Everyone is stopped cold by Shelly’s boldness. Shelly, for her part, barely notices their change in attitude.
You know…maybe we could offer to
fix his dog or something in exchange for dirt
(after a pause)
He might —
No way. That’s risky. Too risky.
But we’ve got nothing —
Just drop it, Shelly. No one wants to dig
into that whole…mess…right now.
Shelly looks at Rich and Leo, who, somewhat ashamed, are shaking their heads in agreement.
to cover our asses. That’s it. That’s all.
Rich shakes his head at Shelly, and Leo frowns. Both seem as set as Hannah, though guilty about the fear that drives them, on keeping the next hour or so as simple as possible.
For a moment, Shelly looks like she might storm away. Then Hannah steps closer.
Look, Shelly, I’ll help you later if
that works for you. That is, if you want me to.
I’ll do my best. I’ll try. I just —
(starting down the
sidewalk in a furiously
Cut the crap.
Rich, Leo, and Hannah follow after Shelly as if they’re following a spark they’d like to stop before it burns up all the fuse.
Let’s get this over with.
EXT. MR. KIDDERMAN’S HOUSE — MORNING
Shelly, Hannah, Rich, and Leo stand on the same porch that sheltered Mr. Kidderman and his entire extended family not a month earlier during the Persimmon Festival parade. The porch seems large, empty, and unfestive now. Only one unlit jack-o-lantern marks the approach of Halloween.
Rich rings the doorbell, and Leo nudges the jack-o-lantern with his foot. Hannah steps closer to Shelly — not to defend her, by the looks of it, but to contain her.
How’s he keep his jack-o-lantern fresh?
(glancing curiously at
the over-orange pumpkin)
It’s made of plastic.
Oh that’s — I guess you’re right —
The front door opens, and Leo clicks his mouth shut. Mr. Kidderman stands in the doorframe. He looks beside himself with something that is not quiet yet grief, since he has yet to completely believe in his loss; maybe you could call it concern. His eyes rove from one kid to the other until they finally settle on Rich.
(commanding but also,
somehow, asking for
I didn’t know there’d be so many of you guys.
Well, we were all together anyways,
and Hannah — remember her?
casual, turning to Hannah)
You’re the sad girl
who wound up in the hospital last month…?
Yeah, well, she’s really good at this stuff, too.
(again to Hannah)
Are you doing better now?
Hannah’s face twists up like a battlefield scarred by the war between the truth and a lie.
(glancing at Shelly)
Mr. Kidderman pauses for a moment. He puts a hand on the door as if he might close it, and then he steps aside.
Whelp, come in and take a look and see
if you can find what’s wrong. Lord knows I can’t.
INT. MR. KIDDERMAN’S BASEMENT — MORNING
Buster, barely resembling the robotic dog he is in this disassembled state, is spread carefully across Mr. Kidderman’s workbench. Rich sits hunched over a printed circuit board that is connected to the poor pup’s chassy like an electronic backbone. Hannah sits beside Rich, looking somewhat exasperated. Shelly, Leo, and Mr. Kidderman watch from over Rich and Hannah’s shoulders.
Rich finishes tightening a screw and takes up the probes of a multimeter. He places the red probe at one end of the circuit board and the black probe at another.
OK, Hannah, give it a go.
Hannah plugs Buster’s charger into a wall. The LEDs in its eyes flash briefly and then flicker out.
about it is, I never even saw
a single spark on the motherboard.
unplugging the dog)
if you weren’t probing the sensor A to D’s,
then yeah, I guess you’d see something. I mean…
Am I doing it wrong?
Let her try.
Rich spins around to give Leo an accusing look, but he hands the multimeter probes to Hannah nonetheless. Hannah takes them with the air of a surgeon receiving a scalpel, and she quickly goes to work.
Beam me up, Scotty.
Huh — what?
plug it in.
Rich plugs Buster back into the wall, and this time the multimeter flashes when the eyes light up. Mr. Kidderman leans in close to watch the multimeter display slowly drop to zero volts.
I don’t think that it’s the card
that’s broke. It’s like a software error killed
the operating system while it booted.
That’s what I thought as well…
Just thinking, here —
but have you noticed any software updates
getting pushed to Buster recently?
(cracking like an old vase)
No, but who the hell can really tell?
Mr. Kidderman starts to sob. He picks up the skeletal remains of his old dog, looking for something — anything — that might be an electronic safe in disguise, which, if he could only crack its code, would bring his companion back to barking life.
MR. KIDDERMAN (CONT’D)
There’s got to be something, you know…?
Rich and Hannah grace Mr. Kidderman with knowing, empathetic stares. Shelly puts a hand on his shoulder, and Leo looks like he might speak before pursuing his mouth shut.
MR. KIDDERMAN (CONT’D)
you know…it’s just, I feel so stupid, now.
I invited all you kids out here,
just so you could see…I’m sorry, just…
I thought that it would help, you know? When Rich
had that problem with his phone, we fixed it,
right? I thought that maybe if we worked
together just like that, then maybe we
could fix my Buster, but I’m all broken up…
Mr. Kidderman tries to wipe his nose and stop himself, but the sobs only get worse.
MR. KIDDERMAN (CONT’D)
Just promise that you won’t tell the kids at school…
Did you save Buster’s backup data?
Mr. Kidderman falls into an empty seat against the back wall. He cries, cradling Buster, and the others watch. After a moment, Leo, Rich, Shelly, and Hannah share a look and come to a silent decision amongst themselves.
(snuffling and catching
I’d do anything to get him back.
Mr. Kidderman…remember what
you said about fixing my phone just now?
It must have been a miracle, Rich. A real miracle.
And did you see the news about
the website that we built?
The stupid signatures…
(ignoring the critique)
It’s all connected.
I don’t know what you’re doing,
but don’t you go and make things up to try
and make a sad old man feel better.
We’re just —
We think that we can help.
I guess, but maybe make some sense of it.
What happened to my phone was weird. It was like
what Hannah’s dad was doing in Hereafter.
When they put him in, he started acting weird —
he caused her wreck.
Mr. Kidderman looks at Hannah, shocked but not unbelieving.
Is that true?
He really did. And then the RJ on
my phone got weird like that, and it broke
my phone just like you saw when I brought it here.
But when I left, remember, it was still broke.
We weren’t the ones who fixed it. RJ did.
Or maybe not fixed. It’s like it came to life…
And when that happened, RJ took me out
to Carpenter’s, and Shelly, Leo, and Hannah
were out there trying to fix her dad —
To kill him.
Do you remember Dirk? He’s my brother, the guy
who got kicked from school after he got
in that wreck that killed the girl? Well, he had her
sort of pirated onto Hereafter,
her name is Flori, and she was helping us —
Yeah, it was mostly her and Hannah who
did all of the work.
So Hannah wrote
some code with Flori, and RJ somehow knew
they needed us to help, and then we got
rid of Hannah’s dad, and stole his data,
and Hannah leaked it all, and then I made
the site with Leo to try and get some folks
to sign something to make Hereafter change…
Mr. Kidderman’s eyes widen through this onslaught of information. His mouth opens, and he looks speechlessly at the admittedly criminal group of kids gathered around him until he is pinned to the wall by Hannah’s firm, unflinching stare.
What happened was, I messed with Flori’s code
until she was a living virus. Then we used
RJ as a trojan horse to get
into Hereafter. Once we were in, Flori
replaced the afterversion of my dad
with a generic afterversion that
we built together. She took the evidence
his fucked up afterversion left behind, too.
All that is to say that things are weird,
and that what happened to Buster’s not your fault…
Mr. Kidderman sets the remains of Buster on the floor beside his foot and adjusts how he is sitting. He opens his mouth to speak, but Shelly beats him to the punch.
And that’s not all.
Hannah, Rich, and Leo spin towards Shelly. Their faces explain what they can’t say — that they suddenly realize it is too late, that they’ve pushed things too far and said too much, that they’ve enabled certain unwanted behaviors — and anyone who has paid attention so far, not even careful attention, can tell that Shelly is determined to have her say.
We think Hereafter’s after us. We think
that’s why Dirk is missing. He disappeared
three weeks ago, the night that Flori hacked
into their program to kill Hannah’s dad.
It’s been three weeks. The police said they’ll look
but no one’s found or heard a single thing —
But we don’t know for sure.
Shelly pulls the letter from Jason, which Dirk opened the night he disappeared, from a pocket on the inside of her purse. She hands the letter to Hannah, who reads it and, astounded, passes it on.
Shelly waits. After everyone has read the letter, even Mr. Kidderman, she takes it, folds it carefully, and puts it back into the pocket. She zips the purse up carefully, like closing a safe, and looks around the room at everyone.
There’s something else I think you need to see.
Missed MitcHELL the first time around? Read or reread the first half of the story here: