Short Drama Treatment
BRAIN DRAIN is a 20 minute breathless and tense short horror-thriller set in Kent countryside.
With Brexit negotiations drawing to a close and Britain set to restrict the free movement of EU citizens, the German government attempts to attract the best and brightest to its borders by offering all British university graduates German citizenship. This radical move proves popular with disaffected young Brits as huge swathes of 20-somethings board planes, trains and ferries for their new home.
Germany’s opportunistic poaching of young British talent - and so many students’ willingness to be poached - draws the intense ire of Nationalists, who form hostile picket lines outside airports, train stations and ferry ports across the country. Brimming with barely-contained rage, these picket lines become the physical embodiment of Britain’s partisan tensions…
…Left vs Right
…Leave vs Remain
…Uneducated vs Educated
…Old vs Young.
BRAIN DRAIN is the story of the underground civil war that is slowly sneaking up to us in Britain. Transcending class, gender, colour and creed…this is a civil war fought between ideologies. Neither of which is willing to listen to the other.
A frenetic montage of pickets across Britain. A war of placards, shouting and scowling. Rabid mouths spewing saliva and red faces leaking sweat.
We join an excited minibus full of boxes, bags and five university graduates racing down the M20 to Dover, desperately trying to beat the rush. German flags fly from its windows.
Medical graduate TOM (21) has made them late by trying (but failing) to share a goodbye with his disapproving bricklayer father who was nowhere to be found; self-nominated driver and athletic Engineering graduate ANDY(24) is not happy about the delay while Andy’s girlfriend and Politics graduate VICKI (21) acts as the minibus news anchor, giving them a running commentary on the situation across the country from her Twitter feed. Vicki’s best friend and Physics graduate POOJA (22) shows off her freshly-learnt German, whilst fighting against the overloaded phone networks to try and get hold of her brother, who is on the same motorway somewhere up ahead. Business graduate MARTIN (23) bores anyone who will listen (and the ones who won’t) with spurious tales of sexual conquests on previous visits to Germany.
As the inevitable happens and they join the back of an endless motorway queue, their excited speculation about their new lives in Germany turns to frustrated bickering. There is a whole mess of excited energy in this minibus which fuels Andy to do something outrageous…in a gleeful moment of reckless abandon he tears the minibus off the M20, up over the grass verge beside them and across a field.
Whooping and roaring with glee the minibus rips through the beautiful Kent countryside towards Dover, leaving a dirty muddy scar in its wake. Its passengers are bright, young and free…and enjoying themselves far too much to notice the two Land Rovers slowly gaining on them.
Just as Pooja manages to connect to her Computer-Science graduate brother SUNNY (26) somebody spots the sea on the horizon. They excitedly point it out, but it disappears behind some trees. Excited, everyone leans forward…peering out the windscreen…looking for the twinkling blue…They think the see it…just there…over that hill…as Andy spots something in the corner of his -
On Sunny’s end there is a horrible metallic crunch before the line goes dead. He tries to redial, but once again they have no signal…
…Andy opens his eyes. The world is hazy, bright and won’t keep still. There is a throbbing droning in his ears. Beyond that he can hear engines idling and voices arguing.
The minibus is on it’s side. Andy brushes small chunks of shattered glass off his chest and tests his aching arms. Instinctively he reaches for Vicki. Adrenaline snaps him alert as he spots the blood on her head. He grabs her; she’s conscious…but barely. Slurring some ineligible words of comfort he awkwardly extracts himself out of a crushed door and pulls her with him.
As they leave the van Andy notices that Pooja is already stood outside. She has her mobile phone in her hand, is hyperventilating and staring at something. Andy looks: Two Land Rovers have skidded to an abrupt stop and TWO DRIVERS are out of their vehicles gesturing wildly to one another in the midst of some kind of argument.
Andy squints and looks closer. Both Land Rovers are filled with angry men scowling out at them. He looks back at the van as Martin emerges; shaken and groggy.
A squat, muscular BALD DRIVER comes over the them. He is carrying a baseball bat. He looks at Andy, says something and puts his hand out. Confused, Andy goes to shake his hand. The driver angrily slaps his hand away and yells something that comes into focus:
Fumbling, Andy takes out his phone and hands it over. The Bald Driver goes around all of them, taking all of their phones. As he takes them he explains that they didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt, that they will make sure they get taken care of, they just don’t want anyone panicking and calling the police. They don’t want them to get the wrong end of the stick.
As he tries to take Pooja’s phone she sluggishly tries to resist. She slurs into it and presses a button but then gets grabbed by the throat. Martin shouts and moves towards the Bald Driver but is knocked out by one swift swing of the Driver’s baseball bat.
Once he takes each of their phones he looks inside the van; Tom is still strapped in his seat driver’s seat. He is awake, but staring forward in a zombie-like gaze. The Bald Driver signals to his companion; a lean, sinewy, fierce ELDERLY DRIVER. Together they roughly extract Tom before the Bald Driver dumps the groups’s phones inside one of the Land Rovers.
As the others see Tom they gasp; he has an enormous, swollen, misshapen purple bump on his head. By now the most conscious of the group, Pooja goes over and ask him if he is alright. Tom rambles too quickly and quietly for them to understand then spots Vicki slumped against the wreckage of the minibus. Instinctively his Medical training kicks in and he bends to tend to her bloodied head. He parts her hair aside and sees a deep gash; he takes one of the German flags from the window and gets her to hold it to her head, mumbling about how much pressure she should apply. He then worriedly moves along the group, checking everyone is ok.
Tom reaches Andy and, as if in a trance, checks he is ok. Looking in Tom’s glassy, flickering eyes Andy knows something is wrong, that he is operating on some sort of autopilot fuelled by shock and adrenaline. Tom starts to wobble. Whatever is powering him is about to run out.
Andy supports him and pulls him over to the side of the stricken minibus. On the floor he spots a smashed wing mirror; he picks it up and holds it in front of Tom. Andy tries to get Tom to focus on his reflection, to get him to diagnose the bump on his own head, but he is fading fast. Andy slaps him (queueing more laughter from the Elderly Driver) and for a split moment seems to get a burst of lucidity from Tom.
“Fluid…build up…too much…pressure” Tom mumbles just before his eyes roll back and his body falls limp. Andy lies him down and asks the others if they know the recovery position. None of them do. They all try and put him a variety of different poses, squabbling about what is correct.
A Land Rover door opens and a burly EX-SQUADDIE bounds over to them, a hammer in his fist. As he reaches them they cower, but he simply bends down and puts Tom in the correct position. He stands back up, shaking his head in disgust at their lack of practical skills.
The Ex-Squaddie’s exit has signalled all the other passengers from both Land Rovers to do the same. They all stand menacingly; an OLD FARMER gripping a tarnished shotgun; a pair of YOUNG HOODED TEENS with cricket bats; a middle-aged rural RUGBY PLAYER with nothing but his giant fists. In front of them the two drivers stand.
The Bald Driver steps forward, clearly the leader. He tells them that they have called for an ambulance, they just need to sit tight and wait.
Andy angrily yells at them, telling them there isn’t enough time and that they will have to take Tom to a hospital themselves. He tells them that Tom is a Medical graduate who is starting a placement at a hospital in Munich and that he said something about fluid and pressure in his head. The Bald Driver is having none of it. He again tells them they have to wait and makes it clear that they are in no place to be issuing demands.
The Elderly Driver vehemently agrees and angrily tells them that they shouldn’t be leaving the country anyway, that they are traitors for not staying and helping their own country.
Always the sharpest tongue and most forthright, Vicki is gradually recovering her strength from her head wound and explodes into a rant, attempting to shame them for their actions. The Bald Driver laughs at her and her youthful, optimistic but overly-righteous attitude and accuse her of being a typical “loony leftie”. This infuriates her; she runs at him and lands one great blow on his jaw before the hooded teen dashes forward and slams her in the stomach with his cricket bat, dropping her to the floor and winding her.
Andy immediately tears toward the group but despite his athleticism is tackled by the Rugby Player. He is dumped on the ground and pinned until he submits. The Rugby Player then stands up and Andy cradles Vicki.
Smarting from the blow, the Bald Driver angrily tells the Elderly driver they need to hurry this up and asks “When is he getting here?”. Clearly there is somebody else in charge of the group's fate and they are simply holding onto them until this person arrives. As the drivers start to squabble about how long this third-party is taking to arrive, Pooja makes a snap decision and decides to bolt across the field. The group notice her immediately and laugh. She has far too much ground to cover to be able to get anywhere. One of the farmers raises his shotgun and fires.
In the middle-distance Pooja drops to the ground. Still winded, Vicki sobs breathlessly. Andy grits his teeth and gives the Bald Driver an icy stare.
The Rugby Player goes to collect Pooja. He reaches her, chucks her body over his shoulder and brings her back,
Pooja is laid on the floor beside Andy and Vicki…who are both shocked to see that she is absolutely fine, just very shaken. The Farmer who shot the gun comes over, laughs and explains how the calibre of his gun couldn’t hurt somebody at that distance, that it was just a warning shot.
As the Farmer ridicules them for watching too many films and not knowing anything about the real world, Tom’s unconscious body begins to spasm. Andy notices, runs over to him and tries to stop him.
The Ex-Serviceman tells Andy to leave him alone, but Andy refuses. As the spasms get worse the Ex-Serviceman goes over to Andy and drags him away. Andy balls his fists and prepares himself for another futile fight when the Ex-Serviceman tells him that if somebody is having a fit the safest thing to do is let them go through it safely, if you try and hold them still then they are likely to injure themselves.
At that moment a third vehicle pulls up; a white transit van with a St. George’s cross painted on the bonnet.
Andy’s mouth drops open…he would recognise this particular van anywhere. Vicki sees the look of recognition and dismay in his face and gasps as she realises…
A middle-aged man - PETER (51) - steps out of the van. He is tall, stocky, with a big beer belly. His cargo shorts reveal pasty white legs with a British Bulldog tattooed on his left calf and an Arsenal emblem on the right. He strides straight towards the two Drivers and angrily asks the what the fuck is going on. He spots the Farmer’s shotgun and asks him why the fuck he brought that with him, tears it from him and tosses it aside.
They nervously explain the situation to him and he tells reminds them that they are not to use force first, that they have to let the others get violent first THEN they can do what they like. He alludes to the fact that they want the press and police on their side, that they will be painted as patriots so long as they follow his rules of engagement. The Farmer protests that the minibus had driven through three of their fields and ruined his crops and Peter softens, aware that they can use that in their defence.
Turning away from his ‘colleagues’ Peter walks over to look at the victims. He sees a terrified Pooja and unconscious Martin and shakes his head disapprovingly. He then looks at Andy and Vicki with a suspicious frown…convinced that he has seen them before somewhere…
…And then for the first time sees his son Tom, having a muffled fit on the warm grass in the middle of the other broken graduates.
Peter shits himself and flies down by Tom’s side. He holds him and pleads with him, apologising for what has happened. The Bald Driver interrupts him and tells him he shouldn’t touch him and Peter tears into him for the mess they’ve caused.
As Peter’s rage nearly boils over he notices the damp spreading across Tom’s jeans. Tom’s body is shutting down and he has wet himself.
Distraught, Peter begs somebody to do something. Vicki suggests taking him to a hospital. Peter agrees and asks if anyone has called for one; his colleagues admit that they haven’t, they were waiting for him to arrive. Peter demands that they call one immediately…but none of his colleagues has any signal. The Rugby Player retrieves all the phones from the Land Rover. Looking through them only one has any network signal - Pooja’s. The phone is locked with a PIN number so he tosses the phone to Pooja and asks her to phone for an ambulance. With a wavering voice she takes the phone and begins to dial.
Andy tries to tell Peter that there isn’t enough time. They will have to do something to relieve the pressure themselves or it will be too late. Andy explains the scrap of information he had managed to get out of Tom before he passed out, that there is too much pressure in the bump on his head, that it is filled with fluid. He describes an engineering process for safely removing excess fluid and suggests they might have to cut into Tom’s head. The Ex-Serviceman agrees and tells them he had seen something similar done before in Iraq.
Peter quickly agrees and demands that one of them does it. A penknife is produced by the Hooded Teen and thrust to Andy’s. He sits beside a still-spasming Tom and holds the knife to his forehead in a terrified, trembling hand. He takes a deep breath and goes to press the knife in when Tom has a particularly big jerk forward. This scares Andy who sits back, drops the knife and tells them he can’t do it.
Frantic Peter demands that the Ex-Serviceman does it. The Ex-Serviceman picks up the penknife, kneels beside Tom and coldly begins to press the knife into the bump. As a small slit is made and fluid starts to appear Tom begins to foam at the mouth.
Convinced that he is hurting him Peter pushes the Ex-Serviceman aside and takes the knife. Barely containing his tears he holds the knife to his son’s head and slowly presses the blade into his skull.
As watery blood seeps out of the bump Tom’s stiff body relaxes and the spasms stop. His breathing becomes more regular and Peter breathes a sigh of relief. Peter looks up at Andy and opens his mouth -
Suddenly a small red cloud explodes from the top of Peter’s head and his lifeless body slumps forward, landing beside Tom.
Behind him stands Sunny…the Farmer’s shotgun smoking in his hands.
In slow motion the group simultaneously react in horror, revulsion and sadness.
The Bald Driver closes his eyes and turns his head away.
The Farmer takes off his flatcap and clutches it to his chest.
The Rugby Player turns and throws up.
The Young Teen turns, stumbles then runs.
The Elderly Driver scowls and spits.
Martin still lies unconscious.
Pooja's quivering hands drop her phone. The call is still connected to Sunny.
Sunny drops the shotgun by his side, confused.
Andy grips Vicki tight and the two can no longer keep back his tears.
Tom and Peter lie lifeless.
Two generations dying side-by-side.