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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1923914-Break
Rated: 13+ · Script/Play · Mystery · #1923914
A few coworkers take their breaks, and realize they have some missing information.
INT. OFFICE - DAY?

              Wage slaves toiling away in a typical American cubicle farm.
              We settle on one in particular, SMITH.  As he types, his
              watch alarm goes off.



              ON WATCH: COUNTDOWN TIMER STARTS AT 15 MINUTES.

              SMITH stands.

                                  SMITH
                        Time for my break.

              JOHNSON, SMITH's coworker, looks at his own watch as it goes
              off.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Me too.

              The two walk off to...



              INT. BREAK ROOM - CONTINUOUS

              The break room, currently with one coworker sitting alone at
              a table, reading a magazine and eating a microwave burrito.
              SMITH and JOHNSON get their food from the fridge and sit.
              After several seconds, SMITH speaks.

                                  SMITH
                        So, don't tell anyone, but I am
                        going to start looking for a new
                        job.

                                  JOHNSON
                            (scoffs)
                        Good luck.  Better be careful not
                        to let management find out.

                                  SMITH
                        I don't care.  I gotta get out of
                        this place, even if I don't find
                        another place first.

                                  JOHNSON
                        How do you think you'll pay your
                        bills if you get fired?

                                  SMITH
                        I can make it work from savings
                        until I find something new.  My
                        rent is only...

              He stops and furrows his brow in confusion.  JOHNSON looks
              up.

                                  JOHNSON
                        What?

                                  SMITH
                        I don't remember how much my rent
                        is.

                                  JOHNSON
                        That seems like an important detail
                        to remember.

                                  SMITH
                        Yeah, it does.  How much is your
                        rent?

              JOHNSON thinks for a second.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Hm.  Come to think of it, I can't
                        remember, either.  Is your place
                        nice?  Maybe you can figure it out
                        from that.

                                  SMITH
                        I... I'm not sure.  What about
                        yours?

                                  JOHNSON
                        You know, I can't actually picture
                        my... apartment?  House?

                                  SMITH
                        I'm pretty sure I have an
                        apartment... and a roommate.
                        Maybe.

              The other coworker, WILLIAMS, has taken notice of the
              conversation.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        I think maybe I live with my
                        parents.

                                  SMITH
                        Maybe I do, too.  Maybe the person
                        I thought was a roommate was my
                        father.  Or mother.  I can't seem
                        to remember what they look like.

              JONES, English, walks into the break room.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Hey, do you remember the place you
                        live?  Or your parents?

              JONES stops.

                                  JONES
                        I think I have two?  Parents, not
                        places that I live.

                                  SMITH
                        Well yeah, everybody has two
                        parents.

                                  JONES
                        Right... right.  But I mean, I
                        think they're both still around.

                                  SMITH
                        Well that's good.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Ok, doesn't it strike anyone else
                        as strange that we don't remember
                        these things?  I mean, these are
                        pretty major details about our
                        lives.  We're certainly going to
                        have to know where we live when we
                        get off work.

                                  SMITH
                        When do we get off work?

              Everybody falls silent.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Well, we get off work at the end of
                        the day, right?  Standard work day
                        is nine to five, so... we get off
                        work at five?

                                  WILLIAMS
                        That seems reasonable.  What time
                        is it?

              SMITH looks at his watch.

                                  SMITH
                        My watch just counts down until my
                        break is over, then it counts down
                        until my next break.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Mine, too.

              The others all make general noises of agreement.

                                  JONES
                        Maybe there's a clock in here.

              They all look around, but there are no clocks in the break
              room.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        The computers don't have clocks.
                        What about cell phones?

                                  JONES
                        I don't have one

                                  JOHNSON
                        Neither do I.

              More agreement walla.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Ok, that is definitely weird.  I
                        mean, this is the 21st century, I
                        think, and we all know that
                        everybody in the 21st century has
                        cell phones, especially young white
                        collar workers in America.

                                  SMITH
                        Are we in America?

                                  WILLIAMS
                        I assume so.  We're all speaking
                        English, and we have American
                        accents.

                                  JONES
                        Not me.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        That's true.  But every office has
                        one non-American worker.

                                  JONES
                        Hey, I am an American citizen, I
                        think!  I was just born in another
                        country, probably, although I can't
                        remember which one.

                                  JOHNSON
                        England, probably.  Because of the
                        accent.

                                  JONES
                        That makes sense.

                                  SMITH
                        So, we are probably in America,
                        right?  And we can probably safely
                        assume it's a city, because that's
                        where most white collar jobs are.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Our accents, most of them, are
                        fairly non-regional, so that's no
                        help.

                                  JONES
                        Let's check our pockets!  Maybe we
                        have something that will tell us
                        who we are.

                                  SMITH
                        Well, we know who we are, we just
                        don't know where we live... or
                        where we're from, or... any details
                        about our lives.
                            (beat)
                        But we know our names.  Right?

              Everybody falls silent.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Of course we do.  My name is...

              More silence.

                                  JONES
                        Let's check our pockets.

              They all empty their pockets onto the table.  Each of them
              has exactly one thing: a company ID.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Mine says "Williams".  That's all.
                        No first name.

                                  JONES
                        "Jones".  No wonder I couldn't keep
                        up with myself!

                                  SMITH
                        "Smith".  Aw come on, really?!

                                  JOHNSON
                            (chuckled)
                        "Johnson".

              BROWN walks in.

                                  SMITH
                        Hey you!  What's your name?

              BROWN fishes his company ID out of his pocket and looks at
              it.

                                  BROWN
                        "Brown".

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Don't you think it's weird that you
                        had to look at your company ID to
                        see what your name is?

                                  BROWN
                        I don't know, man, I just want to
                        eat my sandwich and get back to
                        work.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Well, where do you live?  Where are
                        you from?  What's your parents'
                        names?

                                  BROWN
                        Look, you guys can have your
                        conversation, just leave me in
                        peace.

              BROWN goes to a separate table.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        This doesn't make any sense.  We
                        don't have anything else in our
                        pockets.  No wallet, no gum.  No
                        driver's licenses.  I mean, how did
                        we get here without driver's
                        licenses?

                                  JONES
                        Maybe we took public
                        transportation?

                                  WILLIAMS
                        All of us?  And we don't have any
                        money.  And no transit passes, or
                        day passes.  Even if we took public
                        transport here, how are we going to
                        get back?

                                  SMITH
                        How can we answer that when we
                        don't even know when we get off
                        work?

                                  JOHNSON
                        When did we start work?

              The group looks at each other.  BROWN is increasingly
              annoyed, trying to ignore the conversation.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Guys, I don't remember ever being
                        anywhere other than here, either at
                        my desk, or here in the break room.

                                  JOHNSON
                        I remember a supply closet once.  I
                        think.

              BROWN looks up at the mention of the supply closet.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Ok, I'm getting a little tired of
                        all this "I think" business.  All
                        we have to go on is what we
                        remember.  In the absence of
                        contradicting information, we
                        should just assume that what we
                        think our lives are like is the
                        truth.

              They all express their agreement.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Does anybody remember the start of
                        the work day today?  Or, the day
                        they were hired?

              Nobody does.

                                  SMITH
                        My earliest memory is of working
                        here.  And I'm sure that in that
                        memory, I'd already been working
                        here for a while.

                                  JONES
                        And not just working here, but
                        actively on the job...

                                  JOHNSON
                        ...or on break.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Well, we can probably figure out
                        how long we've worked here.  I
                        mean, we take a fifteen minute
                        break every four hours, so... how
                        many breaks have we taken?

              Everybody thinks.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Four?

                                  SMITH
                        You think so?

                                  JOHNSON
                        Does that seem high?

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Or low.

                                  JONES
                        I was thinking two.

                                  SMITH
                        It's definitely more than that.

                                  JOHNSON
                        They all kind of...

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Blend together.

                                  SMITH
                        Brown!  Do you know how many breaks
                        we've taken?

              BROWN sighs.

                                  BROWN
                        I told you, I don't want in on
                        this.  I just want to earn my
                        paycheck.

              WILLIAMS eyebrows go up at this.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Do you even remember ever getting a
                        paycheck?

                                  BROWN
                            (beat)
                        Just leave me out of it.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Do any of you guys remember getting
                        paid?

                                  JOHNSON
                        All in all, payroll disputes seem
                        like a pretty petty grievance, in
                        light of our general predicament.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        No, think about it.  If we've been
                        working here, steadily, for as long
                        as we can remember - for all
                        practical purposes, for our entire
                        lives - but have never received a
                        paycheck... We've been working our
                        whole lives for no pay.  You know
                        what that's called.

                                  SMITH
                        Yeah, "America".
                            (high-fives JOHNSON)

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Guys... we're slaves.

              BROWN stands up and goes toward the fridge.

                                  BROWN
                        You guys are going to get into
                        trouble.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        There you go!  What kind of people
                        get in trouble for asking
                        questions?

                                  BROWN
                        You're rocking the boat.  Rocking
                        the boat is how good employees get
                        fired.

                                  SMITH
                        Oh, God.

                                  JOHNSON
                        What?

                                  SMITH
                        I remember people.  People who got
                        fired.

                                  JONES
                        You don't even remember how long
                        you've been here.

                                  SMITH
                        No, but I do.  I remember people.
                        I think.  I'm sure.  In the absence
                        of contradicting information, I'm
                        sure I remember people who got
                        fired.  Good people.  People I
                        liked.  They were my friends.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        What were their names?

                                  SMITH
                        I... I don't... remember...

                                  JOHNSON
                        Ok, so they got fired.  So?

                                  SMITH
                        It's like Williams said.  If this
                        is all we ever remember doing... if
                        this job has been our whole life...
                        what does it mean to be fired?

              Something drops noisily to the floor behind them.  They look.
              BROWN has dropped a yogurt cup and sunk into a chair.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Brown?

              BROWN stares into space, stricken.

                                  SMITH
                        What's wrong?

                                  BROWN
                        I remember.  I remember a girl.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        What girl?  Outside?

                                  BROWN
                        No.  Here.  She worked here.  A
                        couple cubicles over from me.  We
                        started out giving each other
                        little glances around the walls.
                        We flirted in the break room.  It
                        escalated.  We took to making out
                        in supply closets.  I think I loved
                        her.  I think... we loved each
                        other.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        You think?

                                  BROWN
                        In the absence of contradictory
                        information... we were in love.

                                  SMITH
                        What was her name?

                                  BROWN
                        I don't remember.

                                  JOHNSON
                        What happened?

                                  BROWN
                        She got fired.  Management found
                        out about our relationship, and
                        fired her.

                                  JONES
                        Why just her?  Why not you?

                                  BROWN
                        I told them.  She didn't want to.
                        She said she was pretty sure there
                        were rules against office romances.
                        But I said, maybe there isn't.  We
                        don't really know anything about
                        this place.  We noticed all the
                        things you guys have noticed.  I
                        said, even if there is a policy,
                        maybe there's a special exception.
                        Maybe we could fill out a form.  I
                        said, we should be honest, and they
                        would reward that.  They would
                        reward our honesty.  She begged me
                        and begged me not to tell them.  I
                        told her I wouldn't.  I promised.
                        But I did tell them.  They didn't
                        seem to care.  I asked them not to
                        let her know.  They said it would
                        be our secret.  I went back to
                        work, and she was called up.  She
                        never came back.  They called me
                        back in and said they fired her,
                        but that I would be kept on.  As a
                        reward.  For my honesty.

              Several seconds of solemn silence pass.

                                  BROWN (CONT'D)
                        I forgot about that.  Forgot all
                        about it.  Forgot it ever happened.
                        Forgot she ever existed.  I went
                        back to work, knowing that if I
                        kept my head down, didn't ask
                        questions, and did my job, I would
                        forget about her.  And I did.
                        Until now.  So thanks.

              BROWN goes back to sit at his table in silence.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Hey, I just realized.  I think I'm
                        gay.
                            (beat)
                        You guys are cool with that, right?

              The rest half-heartedly nod yes.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        This is all very... Kafkaesque.

                                  SMITH
                        What does that mean, "Kafkaesque"?
                        I think I've heard it before.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        It's... kind of like "Orwellian",
                        but more... metaphysical and
                        philosophical.  Not as political.

                                  JONES
                        Something bad is happening here.
                        You guys all know that, right?  We
                        need to... do something.  Find a
                        way to stop it.

                                  JOHNSON
                        There's just one problem with that.

                                  JONES
                        What?

                                  JOHNSON
                        Do you remember your last break?
                        Do any of you?  I don't.  Who's to
                        say we haven't had this
                        conversation before?  Maybe we have
                        this exact conversation every
                        break.

                                  JONES
                        Well... maybe we do.  But that
                        doesn't make it any less true.  We
                        need to remember, and we need to
                        fight.

                                  SMITH
                        He's right.

              Everybody nods.

                                  WILLIAMS
                        Ok, so, what ideas do we have?
                        Maybe we can hack the company sys-

              WILLIAMS' watch alarm goes off.  He looks at it.

                                  WILLIAMS (CONT'D)
                        My break is over.  I have to go
                        back to work.

              WILLIAMS starts to leave.  SMITH grabs his arm.

                                  SMITH
                        Williams, don't go out there!  We
                        need to fight this!

                                  WILLIAMS
                        My break is over.  I have to go
                        back to work.

                                  SMITH
                        Ok... ok, Williams, go back to
                        work.  But whatever you were about
                        to say?  Try to hold that in your
                        mind.  Remember it.  Hack the
                        company.  Remember that.  Bring
                        them down.  Remember that.
                        Remember this conversation.
                        Remember us, Williams!

              SMITH lets WILLIAMS go.  WILLIAMS goes back to the cubicle
              farm.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Guys, I don't want that to happen
                        to me.

                                  JONES
                        None of us do.  We can't forget.

                                  SMITH
                        But what can we do?

                                  BROWN
                        I'll tell you what I'm going to do.
                        I'm going to get myself fired.

                                  SMITH
                        Brown, don't.  You know what...
                        what that means.

                                  BROWN
                        Maybe.  Maybe not.  We're just
                        assuming.  None of us knows
                        anything.  If getting fired just
                        means losing a job, it means I can
                        leave this goddamn building.  I can
                        find out what my life is really
                        like.  Find out who I am, where I
                        live, where I'm from, who my family
                        is.  Or, failing that, I can start
                        building those things.  And I can
                        find her.  And if getting fired
                        means... well, then it's still
                        better than this.  Whatever is on
                        the other side, even if it's
                        nothing, it can't be worse than
                        this.  But if leaving this job has
                        even the slightest chance of
                        letting me find her... I've got to
                        take it.

                                  JOHNSON
                        You don't even know her name.

                                  BROWN
                        No... but I barely know my own
                        name.  Maybe "Brown" isn't even my
                        real name.  Maybe it's just a
                        convenient placeholder.  So, I'll
                        think of a convenient placeholder
                        for her, too.  "Susan"... I'll call
                        her "Susan".  And I'm going to hold
                        on to that.  And I'm going to
                        remember her face.  And the way she
                        felt.  And I'm going to get fired.
                        I'm leaving this place.  I hope you
                        guys... I hope you find your Susan.

              BROWN stands up and starts toward the break room door.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Brown.  Good luck.

              SMITH and JONES nod their concurrence.

                                  BROWN
                        You, too.  All of you.

              BROWN leaves.

                                  JONES
                        Now what?  I have no ideas.

                                  SMITH
                        Take a number and get in line.

              JONES lights up.

                                  JONES
                        Number!  I think I remember a phone
                        number!

                                  JOHNSON
                        Outside?!

                                  JONES
                        Possibly... yes!  I'm sure of it!

                                  SMITH
                        There's a phone out in the hall!

                                  JONES
                        I'll go try it!

              JONES turns to leave.

                                  SMITH
                        Don't lose yourself out there!

                                  JONES
                        I won't.  I'll keep you guys in my
                        head.

              JONES leaves.  SMITH and JOHNSON are left alone in the break
              room.

                                  JOHNSON
                        You're not gay, are you?

                                  SMITH
                        I don't think so.

                                  JOHNSON
                        Too bad.  You're very attractive.

                                  SMITH
                        Thank you.

              Their watch alarms go off.

                                  BOTH
                        My break is over.  I have to go
                        back to work.

              They both exit the break room.  The camera follows them, then
              drifts away through the cubicles.

                                                        FADE TO BLACK.
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