Account Director Craven is the first to arrive in the office after the Christmas break. He unlocks his office and steps towards his ship-sized desk before noticing a folded piece of paper that has been pushed under the door. He stoops to pick it up. A scribbled note on the outside reads: I think you'll find we haven't let you down. R. & G.
Craven takes the paper to his desk, unfolds it and starts to read. It is a script for the proposed television commercial featuring two clients. Changing his mind, Craven stands up and crosses to his luxurious sofa, sits back and puts his feet up. He is still the only person in the quiet agency. Far down below can be heard the faraway drone of the traffic.
WE OPEN ON A BEAUTIFULLY MANICURED LAWN IN FRONT OF A MASSIVE NEO-COLONIAL MANSION THAT PROBABLY HAS ONLY ABOUT EIGHTY ROOMS. THE LAWN STRETCHES AWAY TO INFINITY WHERE IT IS EDGED WITH MASSIVE EXOTIC GARDEN BEDS. THIS SPECIAL PARADISE IS COSSETTED FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD BY A TEN-FOOT WALL THAT SURROUNDS THE ENTIRE PROPERTY BROKEN ONLY BY A MASSIVE SENTRIED GATE AT THE END OF A LONG GRAVELLED DRIVE.
A GENTLE PAN REVEALS AN IMMACULATELY DRESSED COUPLE SITTING AT A STUNNING IRON AND GLASS OUTDOOR TABLE-AND-CHAIR ARRANGEMENT IN FRONT OF A VAST SWIMMING POOL OF BLUE WATER THAT TWINKLES HAPPILY IN THE SUNSHINE. THE COUPLE - GENERAL AND MRS FROGATT - ARE IN THEIR LATE SIXTIES. GENERAL FROGATT IS TOYING WITH A DRINK. HE PUTS THE DRINK DOWN AND SPEAKS TO CAMERA.
GENERAL FROGATT: I made my money the old fashioned way. But Buffalo Finance trebled it, and all I have to do in life now (HE GESTURES TO THE GARDEN BEDS) is kill the snails. Everything else is taken care of.
WE SEE THAT THERE IS A PACK OF SNAIL-GO ON THE TABLE. CLOSE-UP ON SOME SAMPLE PELLETS IN A LITTLE DISH NEXT TO THE PACK.
AS HE IS SPEAKING, A UNIFORMED SERVANT HAS APPEARED LIKE AN APPARITION AND PLACES A TRAY BEFORE THE COUPLE. HE POURS TEA INTO TWO DELICATE CHINA CUPS, PLACES THEM BEFORE GENERAL AND MRS FROGATT ALONG WITH A CHINA SUGAR BOWL AND A SMALL JUG. HE THEN DISAPPEARS AS SILENTLY AS HE HAD APPEARED.
GENERAL FROGATT (ASIDE): Thank you, Ramos.
TO CAMERA: Since my wife contracted Alzheimer's Disease, my Buffalo Retirement plan has continued to fund her medical expenses without compromising my lifestyle.
MRS FROGATT INTERRUPTS, CROAKING WITH DIFFICULTY: One lump or two, dear?
GENERAL FROGATT (AS IF REPROVING HER FORGETFULNESS): Two, dear. We have been married forty-five years, you know.
INSTEAD OF LUMPS OF SUGAR, MRS FROGATT TAKES TWO SNAIL-GO PELLETS BY MISTAKE, PLACES THEM IN HIS CUP, STIRS THE TEA AND PASSES IT TO HIM. HE TAKES A SIP AND FALLS DOWN DEAD.
WIPE TO A TEN-MILLION-DOLLAR PENTHOUSE IN THE CITY, CRAMMED WITH SWANKY FURNITURE, RICH FABRICS, EXPENSIVE PAINTINGS AND GILT MIRRORS. WAY DOWN BELOW, CITY LIGHTS TWINKLE.
A MAN AND A WOMAN IN THEIR LATE THIRTIES, CHARLES AND CARMEN, ARE RELAXING ON A VAST, RICHLY UPHOLSTERED SOFA. ON A TABLE BEHIND THEM IS A FAMILY PORTRAIT OF GENERAL AND MRS FROGATT - CHARLES' MOTHER AND FATHER - TAKEN IN HAPPIER TIMES.
CHARLES SPEAKS WONDERINGLY, WITH THE RELIEVED SMILE OF SOMEONE WHO HAS WON THE LOTTERY, LOST THEIR TICKET AND THEN FOUND IT AGAIN: Daddy could have hung on for years, you know.
CARMEN PASSES A HAND IN FRONT OF HER FACE MOCK-DRAMATICALLY: Oh God, what a dreadful thought! But now, we'll never have to work again. Thank God for Snail-Go.
CHARLES: And thank God for dementia! Now Mummy's happily drooling away in a nursing home without power of attorney, so Daddy's cash is all ours, and growing at Buffalo's average 4.9% p.a. over the last ten years!
CARMEN (WHO NOW HAS A GREEN TINGE OF SOMETHING IN HER EYES THAT COULD BE ECSTASY BUT COULD BE SOMETHING ELSE. SHE TURNS TO CHARLES): Oh darling, take me in your arms!
WHAT CHARLES DOESN'T SEE IS THAT, AS HER ARMS CLOSE AROUND HIM, SHE REACHES TO THE SOFA TABLE AT THE REAR AND GRASPS SOMETHING FROM BEHIND THE PORTRAIT.
THE SOMETHING FROM BEHIND THE PORTRAIT GLINTS AND IS VERY LONG AND VERY SHARP. SHE TIGHTENS HER CLOSED ARMS AROUND CHARLES' NECK AND FALLS ON HIM, HEAVILY. HIS NECK IS IMPALED ON THE ICE PICK.
FADE TO BLACK.
VOICEOVER: Just like this commercial, life's unpredictable. So be prepared.
FADE UP FIRST GRAPHIC, WHITE LETTERS ON A BLACK BACKGROUND:
Buffalo Finance. Get rich.
FIRST GRAPHIC WIPES TO SECOND GRAPHIC:
Snail-Go. Just a few pellets and they're gone.
Craven is staring, apparently at nothing. The script is still in his hand. He has failed to notice his door has opened and someone has entered his office. The he notices, and the script falls out of his grasp and flutters to the floor.