Voyagers! Pilot, Part Five

(The two continue bumping down the road in the ramshackle truck. We switch between views straight on through the windshield and from the side through driver windows.)

PETE: Are you kidding me?!

PHINEAS: Would I kid about something like this?

PETE: I don’t know! I just met you!

PHINEAS: Do people joke about mass death in your time period?

PETE: Well…

(PHINEAS sets his jaw and makes a hard turn)

PHINEAS: Barbarians!

(They go over a nasty bump. PETE hits his head on the roof and pulls a face.)

PETE: (Angrily) Ow!

PHINEAS: Oh, don’t be such a baby. I was once clubbed on the head by an Aztec priest, and I can assure you I didn’t say “aaaow!”

PETE: (rubbing his head) What did you say then?

(a pause as PHINEAS gets very tense)

PHINEAS: Well, I ruddy well couldn’t say anything! I was out cold!

PETE: Cool story, Mr. Wizard.

PHINEAS: I don’t suppose you could tell me if you’ve been feeling ill in the past few weeks?

PETE: Uh… I was coughing a little last week, but I thought I was over it…

PHINEAS: Coughing a little? Oh, damn!

PETE: You now, you keep saying that. Aren’t you from, like, the future?

PHINEAS: Yes.

PETE: And don’t you, like, travel in time and stuff?

PHINEAS: (in a mocking tone) Like, yes… and stuff.

PETE: Then why don’t you ever say anything cool when you swear? You sound like my Mom when you just say ‘damn!’ all the time.

PHINEAS: Would you prefer I say something suitably alien to your 21st century sensibilities? Perhaps I should be cursing you out in a Martian dialect, or say something charmingly anachronistic like, oh, I don’t now… Bat’s Breath?

PETE: Bat’s Breath? What’s that mean in the past?

PHINEAS: Nothing… but have you ever smelled a bat’s breath?

(PETE goes silent and looks a little confused)

PHINEAS: We’re here!

(The jalopy lurches to a stop outside a period pharmacy, bathed in the last glimmers of the evening sun. A wispy, balding man in an immaculate white coat is about to close up before PHINEAS barges through the door.)

PHINEAS: (As he bowls the pharmacist over) My apologies, sir, but we are in dire need of your establishment!

(PETE stops to help the man to his feet)

PHARMACIST: Wh-wh… what? Who?

PETE: I don’t get him half the time, either, don’t worry.

(PHINEAS is hard at work scavenging the shelves like he’s preparing for a hurricane. He takes intermittent glances at the Omni as he busies himself clearing out the inventory. PETE goes to invesigate.)

PETE: Do you mind if I ask what the he–

(PHINEAS rounds on him and throws a cocktail of pills into his mouth. PETE recoils as PHINEAS sets upon him, tilting his head back and greasing the way for the pills with a strange black liquid he pulled from a vial inside his vest. PETE is understandably troubled, coughing and hacking after he manages to swallow the lot.)

PETE: What the hell is wrong with you?!

PHINEAS: There. You’re inoculated and should prove no more biological damage to the timeline.

(He glances at the pills left in his hand, and then to the Omni.)

PHINEAS: And this should be sufficient for Mr. Wright. Off we go!

PETE: Ugh. I feel like I just tried to eat my grandma’s parakeet.

(He makes to leave, but the pharmacist, who has been watching all of this with morbid wonder, stops him.)

PHARMACIST: Hey, you! Look at my store! You’d better pay for all of that!

(PHINEAS stops and pivots on his heel, pulling a massive handful of gold coins from his pocket and dropping them into the pharmacist’s hands…and clattering them to the wooden floor.)

PHARMACIST: Are these… gold?

PHINEAS: Dubloons, actually. Don’t spend them all in one place.

(He immediately turns to leave, ignoring the PHARMACIST’S yelps of joy)

PHARMACIST: I… I could retire with all this!

PHINEAS: (responding while exiting, not turning back and waving dismissively over his shoulder.) Then happy retirement!

(They return to the truck and try to return to Wilbur & Orville’s shop. However, the pharmacist jumps in front of the truck as they try to speed away.)

PHARMACIST: STOP!

(they hammer on the brakes, and PETE’s head thuds comically against the dashboard.)

PETE: (rubbing his forehead) I never thought I’d say this, but… I can’t wait for someone to invent seatbelts.

(the PHARMACIST comes around to the driver’s side door, where PHINEAS is not in the mood to chat)

PHARMACIST: Sir, I’d suggest you not go just yet…

PHINEAS: If you’re trying to create some sort of elaborate apology, don’t. Just let us go on your way and enjoy your gold.

PHARMACIST: But, it’s dangerous out there!

PHINEAS: In my experience, it’s dangerous everywhere.

PHARMACIST: But, you don’t understand, sir! You, and your assistant… especially your assistant!

PHINEAS: Yes, that’s fascinating, thank you!

(the truck speeds off, leaving the Pharmacists in the road, shouting)

PHARMACIST: It’s a sundowner town! Sundowner town!

PETE: (looking back at the pharmacist)  What do you think he was yelling about?

PHINEAS: (very focused) Probably something about bear grease and nerve tonic, no doubt.

PETE: He kept saying “sunflower,” or something. You know what that means?

PHINEAS: Perhaps he enjoys the work of Mr. Van Gogh.

PETE: You’re really not thinking about it at all, are you? Why?

PHINEAS: When you’ve been doing this for as long as I have, you learn when people’s worries are simply archaic, and when they matter.

PETE: ‘as long as you have?’ What are you, like thirty?

PHINEAS: Twenty-seven.

PETE: So…

PHINEAS: It’s different in the future.

PETE: Ah. So you don’t think that there’s any…

PHINEAS: (finally taking his eyes off the road and turning to PETE) No, I don’t think that there is any reason why I should worry on a cold December night in nineteen hundred and three in North Carolina.

PETE: Well… what about me? Didn’t he say he was worried about me more than you?

PHINEAS: I can’t imagine why.

PETE: So if you’re not in trouble… and I’m not in trouble… then why is there a roadblock up there, and why do those men have torches?

(PHINEAS whips his head back round to the road, where a small mob is waiting to intercept them. He turns again to PETE, his eyes wide.)

PHINEAS: What are you?

PETE: Excuse me?

PHINEAS: You’re not Caucasian, are you?

PETE: What?

PHINEAS: You’re not WHITE, are you?

PETE: Well, my Dad was white…

PHINEAS: Oh, damn.

(He hits the brakes and attempts to turn the truck around. The mob begins to slowly advance, faces ghoulish in the torchlight.)

PETE: What? What’s wrong?

PHINEAS: He wasn’t saying “sunflower,” Mr. Rodney… he was saying “Sundowner.” This is a Sundowner Town, which means anyone who looks like you and who isn’t out of the city after the sun goes down…

PETE: (his eyes growing wide) What do you mean? They’re gonna… kill me?

PHINEAS: If we’re lucky.

PETE: How did you not now this was gonna happen? Didn’t you know I was black?!

PHINEAS: To be honest, I never noticed!

PETE: HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW?!

PHINEAS: FUTURE!!!

(They manage to get halfway turned around before the mob finally starts to close in, and they can’t go any further. Lots of closeups and zooms on worried faces and creepy faces in torchlight as the Sundowners close in on the truck. This might be a good place for a “TO BE CONTINUED” if you’re into that sort of thing.)

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