Unring The Bell [COMPLETE]

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8 -Bulgaria

Outside the Plovdiv Airport the sun lowers at the horizon.

Window air-conditioners linger out multi-colored buildings that tower the urban streets. Street lights burst over the faded streets. Expired industrial facilities squat in plats long zombified.

Shang gazes out of the car. She adjusts her “One-Punch Woman” Saitama imprinted shirt.

DeShawn dozes next to Shang. Shop lights illuminate their faces as they drift past. The driver keeps his eyes on the road. VASCO (54) has few teeth as he speaks.

VASCO

My father was a welder and blacksmith. I became a driver. It was honest work. No one pays any attention to the Roma people. They don’t give us a helping hand. Now we are working for almost nothing. If you are staying, do not go out at night.

Shang uses her phone to translate.

SHANG

Is it that bad?

VASCO

No. No. It is not safe for outsiders. We have a guardian angel that keeps us safe. We no longer fear.

Shang taps DeShawn to wake him.

VASCO

No cameras and no phones are allowed once we arrive.

Shang nudges DeShawn once more. He awakes groggily.

DESHAWN

We there yet?

SHANG

Almost. Trying to find the five star.

DESHAWN

Good. I need to carry you over the threshold.

SHANG

In your dreams lover boy.

DESHAWN

You already occupy them.

They grow silent when they witness an impossible sight.

Beds of red moss glow faintly. Every footstep CREATES expanding rings of light. DeShawn’s eyes grow wide. Shang’s eyes are intense.

Around communist-era buildings galaxies of shimmering pink bioluminescence undulate the sky. They move gracefully, soundlessly.

Life fills the urban landscape. PEOPLE sing and play.

DESHAWN

I thought this was the ass-end of hell?

SHANG

Another oasis.

They scan around.

SHANG

I believe she may be the one responsible.

Shang points to LALA (20). Lala dances with CHILDREN. Her hair bursts with sunlight, long locks whip with delight. Her bright red irises miss nothing. Lala looks to be the daughter of cosmic fire embodied. Pure joy is infectious with her smile.

DESHAWN

Another one?

SHANG

Yep.

A breathless Lala sits across from Shang and DeShawn at a café.

LALA

Care for Banitsa and coffee?

The two agents receive the meal with appreciation.

LALA

What brings you here?

SHANG

Truthfully? We’re wondering if you have certain... abilities?

LALA

Ha! In my hips and thighs!

Her laugh echoes with a chime.

DESHAWN

What’s your name?

Lala considers him.

LALA

Lala.

SHANG

Have you noticed that you can control your environment, Lala?

LALA

Look, my Asian sister. Around you, our environment has gone from the ghetto to a comfortable one.

DESHAWN

You’re the angel?

LALA

Me? No. My halo is held by horns.

Lala laughs from her spirit.

DESHAWN

This is some damn good coffee, hot as a mother--

Shang clears her throat, stopping DeShawn’s sentence.

SHANG

We love the atmosphere here.

Lala hands a CHILD (10) pieces of her meal. The child scampers away with giggles.

LALA

We are hospitable people. Gotta have passion.

The embers in Lala’s eyes flicker.

LALA

We’ve been in social hell for years after the war. Driven to the edge of desperation.

A BOY (14) comes to Lala with an unlit cigarette. Lala casually lights it with her fingertip. She returns to the conversation as if this was an ordinary routine.

LALA

When I was born. I guess I was an omen that brought hope to my community.

A sound system blares music down the street. A gathering of PEOPLE come forth full of merriment.

LALA

Do you see? Joy!

Lala rises and heads off to join the crowd. She speaks over her shoulder.

LALA

If you’d like, there are plenty of rooms free to stay in. Join us!

Shang exchanges concern with DeShawn. The agree in silence to take the offer for room and board.


DeShawn awakens to pieces of voices.

SHANG

You’ll be judged, I promise.

LALA

No. You’ll pay for what you did.

(pause)

Now.

Shang cries out in pain.

SHANG

I swear. We did not know!

LALA

Do you think we fools?

SHANG

No!

Shang screams.

LALA

You come. Bring us to talk, stay in our home, and bring infestation.

SHANG

I did not know.

LALA

For a woman of the world, you are blind. The oppressors kept spying on you from the tarmac to my door. You--

Another cry from Shang.

LALA

Brought the demons to us. I melted away my own father. He tried his way with me in his Dionysian fever and hid behind his cronies. I was a little girl. You. The spark and your dark kindling man. You come here. The salted wax melts where you tread.

Shang screams in pain.

DESHAWN

Shang!

LALA

Ah. He finally wakes.

Lala opens the door. DeShawn glimpse Shang bound and tortured.

DESHAWN

Let her go!

Lala wags her finger at him.

LALA

No, no, no. You two come. One night. Party with my people. You drink our beer. You ask questions. I allowed all of this because we are trusting people.

She runs her fingernails across his thighs. They glow as metal from a blast furnace.

He cries out.

DESHAWN

What do you want?

LALA

She knows.

Lala nods to Shang. Shang is barely conscious.

DESHAWN

Knows what?

LALA

Why my government and hers are gathering.

DESHAWN

What do you mean?

LALA

You are bewildered by her you did not see. Let me light your mind.

She trails a finger down his cheek. Burn scars follow her movement. DeShawn holds back his yell.

DESHAWN

Lala. We only come to help. There are others.

Lala opens the curtains. Drones zip the air. She opens the window. Sounds of MILITARY vehicles and personnel bursts in.

DESHAWN

We had nothing to do with--

He SCREAMS this time as she slaps him. Her palm glows orange.

LALA

Liars!

DESHAWN

I swear!

The world goes INSANE. Explosions blend with screams of dying people. Lala runs out.

DeShawn struggles with his bindings. A gas round leaps into the room. A BARRAGE of gunfire FLASHES. DeShawn SCREAMS.

DESHAWN

Shang!

His eyes stream with tears. He coughs.

DESHAWN

Shang!!

Inside the building, it is a burning HELLSCAPE. Flames roar to devour the world. PEOPLE scramble to get outside.

DESHAWN

Shang!!

Lala appears out of the smoke in front of DeShawn. She raises a finger and --

The binds smolder then snap. DeShawn looks down to see his hands free, He meets her eyes.

LALA

You said you came to help. I’m afraid it is too late. Now, go.

DeShawn cuts Shang free. He grabs her and they RUN.


Lala runs barefoot. Her clothes cast a fiery orange-red glow. Shang leans on DeShawn as they exit the building.

Fireflies swirl the air as cherry blossoms in a wind. Dead and dying bodies litter the ground. Military gunfire continues. The crunching of mechanized vehicles is heard.

Shang peers through the haze to see Wu. He stands alongside a local GENERAL (57) and a battalion of SOLDIERS. They oversee the community’s eviction and extermination.

Shang stumbles to Wu.

SHANG

Sir? What is happening?

WU

I’m trying to protect our nation from torment and destruction.

SHANG

These children are my nation.

WU

No. They are dangerous.

SHANG

Why? Because they are not controlled? They thrived in their pocket of the world.

WU

Here? People thrive with guanxi. These “children” do not live with this value.

Shang shakes her head.

SHANG

Who are you to speak of this?

WU

I am an ambassador for our great nation. If they cannot come under our umbrella, then they shall be moved.

She is visibly outraged. DeShawn steps to her and in a husky whisper speaks.

DESHAWN

(in flawless Chinese: subtitled in English)

Extraordinary impatient Buddha does not care for this stupid son of a drooling whore and a monkey. Do not let him lose focus.

She shuts her eyes for a moment and deeply inhales.

SHANG

You’re right, Wu.

(pause)

I will stand down.

WU

No. You are censored. Return home, Shang. Be with your parents.

Shang drops her head in silence. She bends over slightly, tears in her eyes, and her hair hangs down in messy locks.

WU

And you, a foreigner. You must go to your home. Leave her. She is Chinese, of great value.

DESHAWN

She is not property!

WU

No. She is a woman. From our lands. Pray you have not despoiled her. We let you join her on the mission. That is all.

Wu tilts his head and smiles sadistically.

WU

These... people are delivered to us as acts of providence. We have the right to use that power to balance our world.

A Godzilla nuclear pulse sound reverb the area. All eyes turn.

Lala continues to walk. Barefoot. She resembles Captain Marvel of Gypsy descent embodied with the Phoenix Force. Concrete sloughs into slurry beneath her feet. Metal hits the melting point. She’s pissed.

LALA

You come to my home.

A firing squad MELTS at under her gaze.

LALA

You dare to chain a gypsy.

Two armored vehicles implode as lava poured on them. The MEN inside does not escape the heat.

LALA

You bring dogwitches to our homes.

A rocket streaks toward her. It explodes a meter away from her.

LALA

Foreigners violating our hospitality.

She strides toward Wu and the military forces behind him.

LALA

You strike against forces you do not understand.

Shang raises her palms. Lala inhales deeply.

SHANG

Lala! Please. Do not prove them right.

Lala exhales as a ring of fire appears around her.

LALA

At the danger?

The flames grow larger each time Lala breathes deeply.

DESHAWN

There are others like you!

LALA

I know. We are the drums woven with silk, stars, and blood. Within each, a secret is hidden.

A SOLDIER fires a weapon. She flicks her eyes at the attempt. The soldier EXPLODES from their boiling blood.

SHANG

What is that?

LALA

We are amplifying our birth.

That’s when they SEE for the first time. Lala is pregnant. Early stages.

WU

Do you see, you fools? They must be stopped!

Wu fires a handgun at Lala. She turns. Stares at them.

The world goes white.


TELOPHASE


Shang stands behind her mother at the park. Mrs. Hua sits on a stool. An array of papers sprawls at her feet. CROWD mingles. Shang appears embarrassed and ashamed. Her obedience was frozen in her eyes.

LI HUA

Hello, sir. My daughter is well educated and will bring honor to your family. Is it your son that you are seeking a match for?

The MAN (57) business suit crinkles as he kneels to retrieve a paper from Li Hua.

MAN (57)

My nephew. Trying to find him a homemaker.

LI HUA

Oh? Shang is a very good girl. She is clean and can do all domestic duties.

MAN (57)

That is taken care of by our Pinay maid. I’m seeking a woman that is good on her back, doesn’t speak dishonor or disrespect, and does everything she is told. She doesn’t have to clean or cook. Only be seen and not heard when he tells her to.

Li Hua is stunned. She composes herself. Shang’s look of disgust remains obvious, but she bites her lips.

LI HUA

Sir. I’m sorry, but I don’t feel my daughter...

He interrupts her.

MAN (57)

Does she have a working vagina or not?

LI HUA

Sir! That is uncalled for. My daughter is not a plaything or property. She is respectable. She is honorable. She is more than any man like your son would EVER deserve. I’m sorry, but Shang is no match for your son! Goodbye.

The man lets the wind carry away the paper. He walks away disgusted. He mumbles under his breath. Li Hua turns to her daughter.

LI HUA

I’m sorry daughter. That was--

Shang hugs her mother. She looks over Li Hua’s shoulder. A black man strolls in their direction. The sunlight winks in her eyes and she lose sight of him.

She stands up and scans the area.

LI HUA

We’ll find the right match, Shang. When will your job file the termination?

Shang is distracted but responds.

SHANG

Don’t worry, momma. I have lots of benefits saved. I can find new work easily.

LI HUA

As long as it’s not under the heel of disgusting men.

Shang continues looking around.

SHANG

I know momma. Only the right man can--

Her breath catches. She sees a statuesque African woman with pine green hair and rosewood eyes. Several meters away she spots, for a few moments, a European woman with locks of sunkissed hair and blazing phoenix fire eyes.

Shang quickly leveled her gaze around her. The bright sunlight making it difficult to discern the crowd from a potential threat.

SHANG

Mom?

LI HUA

Hmm?

Shang spins around.

SHANG

When I say “run”, I need to go as fast as you can.

LI HUA

Is there something wrong? I’m an old woman. My body can’t move like it used to.

Shang catches the gaze of a hardened American man with white curly hair that contrasts his ebony skin and deep silver eyes.

SHANG

Mom?

LI HUA

Is it that man again?

SHANG

No.

LI HUA

Then what is it?

SHANG

I need you to get up mom. Please don’t give me trouble.

LI HUA

What? How dare you --

Shang gently touches Li Hua’s elbow.

SHANG

Mom. I’m serious. Something is wrong.

Li Hua gazes where Shang stares.

LI HUA

Oh! What exotic-looking people. Is it part of that Comic-Con you speak of so much?

Shang spins about. The crowd blurs except for those special ones. The Bulgarian. The Chicagoan. The African.

Several others she does not recognize. A Middle Eastern woman with electric-blue eyes and bald. Electricity sparkles around her in a subtle and subdued manner.

A Pan-Asian woman with midnight hair and obsidian-colored eyes. The air dances around her.

A South American man with eyes ocean blue and sea-green hair. He stands in a hypnotic way like the ocean. Aquaman would be envious.

An Inuit man. An Indian woman.

All frozen as the world speeds around them. All staring at Shang.

Shang self-conscious does a once over of herself. Her eyes say it best when she squints at the choice to wear a “Brightburn” movie shirt.

LI HUA

Shang? You’re scaring me.

SHANG

Yeah. I’m scared too.

LI HUA

Who are they? Part of your job?

SHANG

Wu let me go, remember?

LI HUA

Then what do they want from you?

DESHAWN

They trust her.

Both women whip to the sound of DeShawn’s voice. Shang burst into a smile.

SHANG

How did they get here? In China?

DeShawn strides to the paper pile. He picks a sheet and scans it.

DESHAWN

Do you actually make that much money?

SHANG

I did. But my suitors don’t need to know I’m between jobs.

DESHAWN

They did you wrong.

Li Hua watches the two banter in English. She doesn’t understand the language.

DESHAWN

(in fluent Chinese: subtitled in English)

My apologies. I worked with your daughter, collaboratively. I see she needs a partner. I am not Chinese, but as a Westerner, I have control over my tongue and I bring a dowry that can uplift the family.

Li Hua stares suspiciously at DeShawn.

DESHAWN

(in fluent Chinese: subtitled in English)

I see that when we are elders she will grow more beautiful with each passing year.

This catches Li Hua’s interest.

LI HUA

How do you know Chinese so well?

DESHAWN

(in fluent Chinese: subtitled in English)

When one falls in love, they can do the impossible.

Li Hua smiles.

LI HUA

Romantic. What about practical?

DESHAWN

Hmm. That will not be a problem. You see, the world is about to change. If Shang will have me, we will see it together.

DeShawn motions to the pregnant bellies of the ladies of the world. He looks into Shang’s eyes. Her hands clamped over her stomach. Her eyes flash golden.


CYTOKINESIS

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