Glory To The Olives by Joey To

1. EXT. BACKYARD – DAY
A hand GENTLY LIFTS a few GREEN LEAVES.
Pull back and it is a white male, aged 22, INSPECTING a small OLIVE TREE in the backyard. This is SIMON PHIFER. Behind him is the HOUSE and a seated young woman, same age and hair color, READING A NOVEL. This is LEEZA PHIFER.
Simon TURNS and moves back towards the house. He and Leeza EXCHANGE SMILES as he walks pass.
 
CUT TO:
 
2. EXT. NEAR TOWN – NIGHT
Wide establishing shot of the TOWN and the surrounding QUIET COUNTRY.
SUPERIMPOSITION:

MID-WESTERN CONTINENTAL U.S.
AUGUST 2022

Two F-35s ROAR pass, flying low. In the distance, they DROP THEIR ORDINANCE over the town and…
 
3. EXT. TOWN, STREET — CONTINUOUS
…the SHOCKWAVES sweep through the street where a GROUP OF YOUNG SOLDIERS, mostly male, are pinned down by MACHINE-GUN FIRE.

Simon, a sergeant, PEEKS AROUND THE CORNER with his RIFLE and FIRES, then ducks back behind cover. Beside him is a Hispanic female. This is CPL GÓMEZ. “U.C.S.A. ARMY” can be seen on their uniforms.

GÓMEZ
Sir, did you tell ’em there’re still civvies in this town?

SIMON
Yeah I did.

A soldier runs and baseball slides to their position. This is CPL HARRISON.

HARRISON
Sir, we need more air support.

 SIMON
Too many civvies in town. Take Sanders, Thomas and Johnson and go left. Wait for me.

HARRISON
Sir, with respect: Fuck ’em. They’re western liberalists and they’re shooting at us!

SMALL EXPLOSIONS go off near them.

GÓMEZ
That’s generalizing a bit much, ya think?

The hostile machine-guns do not relent and they do not all sound the same.

SIMON
We don’t even know who’s doing the shooting.

A soldier is HIT nearby. He SCREAMS.

HARRISON
Does it matter?

SIMON
Go. Now.
(beat)
Medic. Bryce!

Harrison runs off to their left as a woman arrives. This is CPL BRYCE. Bryce pushes her rifle behind her back.

SIMON (CONT’D)
Covering fire.

Simon THROWS A SMOKE GRENADE up the street as TRACERS streak pass from the BUILDING AT THE T-JUNCTION UP AHEAD. The squad LAYS DOWN COVERING FIRE. Bryce runs out to the open and DRAGS the wounded soldier behind cover.

GÓMEZ
(grins)
God does love medics.

Simon takes another peek around the corner before he and Gómez leave their positions.
 
4. EXT. TOWN, T-JUNCTION — CONTINUOUS
Simon, Gómez and a few others rally at the side of the BUILDING where multiple machine-guns are inside, the TRACERS WHIZZING DOWN THE MIDDLE.

SIMON
Let’s do this the ol’ fashion way.

Gómez hurriedly makes the Sign of the Cross.

GÓMEZ
(softly)
Ave María Purísima, sin pecado concebida.

HARRISON
What’re you? – catholic?

Gómez ignores him.

SIMON
Grenades.

Harrison LAUNCHES SEVERAL GRENADES into the building. BOOM! A cloud of DUST cover them.
Simon and his team CHARGE TOWARDS the building…
 
5. INT. TOWN, BUILDING — CONTINUOUS
…and BREACH. They MOW DOWN the silhouettes behind the machine-guns. More ARMED FIGURES emerge from behind doors and wrecked walls. They RETURN FIRE… then quiet.

SIMON
Clear.

JOHNSON
Clear.

The squad inspects the BODIES. Some have NON-U.C.S.A. ARMY UNIFORMS. Others are in CIVILIAN CLOTHING. A few bloody figures MOAN.

SIMON
Crap, they’re all Americans.

HARRISON
Western Americans. But I know what you mean, sir. It was north versus south once-

SIMON
Yeah, history repeats itself.
(beat, sighs)
Get Bryce up here.

 
CUT TO:
 
6. EXT. U.C.S.A. FORWARD BASE – DAY
Wide establishing shot of the base with TENTS, TANKS and TRANSPORT GUNSHIPS.
 
7. INT. U.C.S.A. FORWARD BASE — CONTINUOUS
An ARMY CHAPLAIN is giving a sermon. Soldiers are gathered around him.

ARMY CHAPLAIN
…but we must do what we can to save what was once a great nation, to return to our…

Pan to Gómez and Harrison CHECKING THEIR RIFLES. Simon is TYPING ON A LAPTOP. Gómez subtly SHAKES HER HEAD.

SIMON
What’s wrong?

GÓMEZ
If you don’t mind me saying, sir, I’m just sick of this pseudo-fundamentalist baptist crap. Like having “God” in the constitution makes it right.

HARRISON
We do what we have to, don’t we?

GÓMEZ
Well, why not go help the Christians in China or the Mid-East then?
(beat)
If so-called Christians actually did what they’re supposed to, maybe this mess wouldn’t be. That’s the funny thing with you baptists and other protestants: you write thick theology textbooks, you care more ’bout not swearing and being nice goodie-two-shoes than actually defending principle, you confuse love with ‘kindness’…

Simon is LISTENING, the words eating at him.

GÓMEZ (CONT’D)
…with your multi-million dollar mega-churches which don’t even look like churches.

HARRISON
Well, you strip down altars and run disco masses. And some bishops lie to cover for kiddie-fiddler priests while the so-called roman pontiff quits to play the piano even though he’s not meant to. And you olive-eating gangsters wear crosses while selling dope and shooting at your neighbors.
(beat)
Que?!

Gómez and Harrison EXCHANGE COLD STARES… then LAUGH.
A uniformed man, aged 40, approaches. This is CAPT PORTER. The young soldiers are about to stand but the Captain holds up his hand and they remain seated.

PORTER
Sergeant, just wanna say again, good job last night.

SIMON
Thank you, sir.

Porter notices that Simon is not entirely happy.

PORTER
I know it’s hard, shooting at fellow Americans, even if they’re shooting at us but you did confirm our suspicions… that the Chinese are further inland than we thought and the west are taking their gear whenever they can.

HARRISON
Sir, any intel on the west coast?

PORTER
Not much. You know the Chinese shot down many of our satellites. We’re fighting them further down south, the ‘West’ are fighting them in the northwest and we’re fighting each other here in the mid-west. There’re also reports of a few Russian units supporting the Chinese here.

SIMON
Aren’t they busy in Europe?

PORTER
Thank God they’re held up in France, mostly by the Spanish, Italians and Germans.
(beat)
Recon is due back soon. Be prepared to leave.

Porter walks away.

GÓMEZ
See? – we fight each other and the commies take advantage.

Simon is READING AN EMAIL.

LEEZA
(V.O.)
I hope they allow you to read this even though ‘East’ and ‘West’ are fighting. Just letting you know we evacuated and are heading east to avoid the Chinese. No, I’m not joining your crusade. Like I said, I don’t give a damn ’bout your religion. Maybe Jesus was a good teacher… whatever… as long as we act out of love and be good, what does it matter? But you’re one of those who has to have faith.
(beat)
As misguided as you are, you’re still my younger brother. By forty-seven minutes. Love, Leeza.
(beat)
P.S. The olive tree wasn’t doing too well when we left. Must be the Seattle weather. I tried. Sorry.

Simon lets out a SMILE.
Someone turns up the television where a grey-haired middle-aged man in a suit is speaking. The caption reads: U.C.S.A. PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES…

U.C.S.A. PRESIDENT
(on television)
…we extended an olive branch to our brothers and sisters in the West in the hope that we can together fight our common enemy. As we speak, the P.L.A. are spearing further inland and we cannot…

Harrison seems SKEPTICAL. Simon is STARING BLANKLY at the laptop.

U.C.S.A. PRESIDENT
(on television)
…contact with our European friends…

 
8. EXT. ‘NO MAN’S LAND’ – DUSK
Wide establishing shot of a CRATERED FIELD surrounding a HALF-DESTROYED TOWN. At the centre of the town is a TALL TOWER WITH A SPHERE AT ITS TIP.
Small missiles STREAM towards the tower but AIR DEFENSE SYSTEMS DESTROY THEM BEFORE IMPACT.
In the skies high above, FIGHTERS ARE DOGFIGHTING. Closer to the ground, various TRANSPORT GUNSHIPS UNLOAD TROOPS and provide GROUND SUPPORT from multiple directions.
 
9. INT. U.C.S.A. TRANSPORT GUNSHIP (AIRBORNE) — CONTINUOUS
Simon and his squad approach the battle. Outside, a U.C.S.A. transport gunship is hit by a missile.

SIMON
Thirty seconds. Keep in mind the Chinese, the ‘West’, us and civvies are at this party. The Chinese tower is our priority. Their equipment within a one-five-zero radius relies on it as a wireless power source. We take it or no one else does.

Gómez makes the Sign of the Cross…

GÓMEZ
(softly)
Our Lady of La Salette, pray for us.

…and GLANCES at her watch.
 
10. EXT. ‘NO MAN’S LAND’ — CONTINUOUS
The transport gunship TOUCHES DOWN. Simon and his squad DISEMBARK.
 
11. EXT. ‘NO MAN’S LAND’, STREET — LATER
EXPLOSIONS and VARIOUS WEAPONS FIRE can be heard near and far. Up ahead, the TOWER LOOMS LARGE.
Simon leads his squad up a street. Suddenly, different WEAPONS FIRE ERUPTS from and at multiple directions. Everyone DIVES for cover. Some return fire.

SIMON
(V.O.)
Leeza, glad to hear you made it out. You and dad should come further east. No, I don’t expect you to join but it may be safer. I love you but don’t patronize me. Having faith for the sake of it is like saying “I have faith in faith.” That’s nonsense. It matters what one has faith in.

Simon DODGES enemy fire, moves to another spot and FIRES A GRENADE at an enemy position. Gómez RELOADS and GLANCES at her watch.

SIMON (CONT’D)
(V.O.)
And Jesus wasn’t a good teacher. He claimed to be God. He’s either a liar, a crackpot, or exactly Who He says He is. There’s no room for anything else.
(beat)
What does “good” and “love” really mean without God? I know you mean well but we both know you like being good on your own terms. Sometimes that’s not enough.

A few of Simon’s men FALL. A bullet SCRAPES Harrison’s arm. Bryce CHECKS on him.

SIMON (CONT’D)
(V.O.)
Forget the tree. I have a mission in forty-seven minutes. No, I’m not kidding. If we live through this, we can plant another tree together one day.

 
12. EXT. ‘NO MAN’S LAND’, PARK — LATER
Simon’s squad moves from cover-to-cover, NEARING THE TOWER. Up ahead, they see the Chinese and the ‘West’ EXCHANGING FIRE across the park.

HARRISON
Sir, we could wait… let ’em kill each other off.

Simon ponders.

SIMON
We’re supposed to save this country.
(beat)
We’ll take out the P.L.A. position first.

In the distance, a Chinese gunship OBLITERATES A BUILDING before it is SHOT DOWN.
Simon’s men take their positions. Gómez KISSES her Crucifix and Scapular.

GÓMEZ
(mumbles)
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. Our Lady of Garabandal, pray for us.

Simon SIGNALS and they all UNLOAD at the Chinese troops.
Chase shot of Gómez RUNNING up to the TRENCH, then LEAPS IN. Others follow. An injured Chinese soldier RAISES HIS HANDS. Harrison HESITATES but then puts TWO ROUNDS IN HIS CHEST. Some ‘West’ soldiers CHARGE towards them.

SIMON
One o’clock!

They EXCHANGE FIRE… then STOP and TAKE COVER. Pan around as a CHINESE GUNSHIP IS APPROACHING FAST, FIRING ITS ROTARY CANNON at them. As it is almost on top of them, it EXPLODES. Up high, several J-20s fall out of the sky.
Gómez adjusts her scope and AIMS HER LASER DESIGNATOR AT THE TOWER.
Simon is stunned, CLUELESS.

SIMON
What?

Seconds later, MULTIPLE IMPACTS DESTROY THE AIR DEFENSE SYSTEMS… then more MISSILES HIT THE TOWER. The debris rains down and the structure COLLAPSES.
Several UNFAMILIAR FIGHTERS SCREAM pass as other UNFAMILIAR TRANSPORT GUNSHIPS approach. One HOVERS above them. Some ‘West’ soldiers emerge from their cover, their RIFLES POINTED DOWN.

SIMON
(smirks)
What’s goin’ on, Gómez? – if that’s even your name.

‘WEST’ SOLDIER 1
Who are these guys?

HARRISON
Well, they’re not firing at us so… that’s a plus.

Gómez smiles.

GÓMEZ
(to Simon)
Yes sir, I’m Gómez, Spanish Armed Forces. Sorry it had to be done this way. We planned to be here even before your president’s request.

‘WEST’ SOLDIER 2
Why?

GÓMEZ
To help the little that we can.

‘WEST’ SOLDIER 3
Great… more religious types.

GÓMEZ
Yeah, cos religion causes trouble and atheistic-communism didn’t kill millions. Why don’t you join the Chinese?

‘WEST’ SOLDIER 3
Please, like you catholics have done anything useful recently.

GÓMEZ
You’re right, we haven’t. But then again, the secular world’s been stripping down the Church’s influence since the French revolution, so don’t blame all your problems on us.

Explosions rumble in the background.

GÓMEZ (CONT’D)
(to all)
Tell your superiors to sort out your problems soon. Europe is paying the price again for turning our backs to God. The U.S. can still avoid what we’re suffering.
(beat)
And don’t think we’re too busy with the Russians. History repeats itself and Spain will return. We would like it to be as friends.

Simon WATCHES Gómez as she BOARDS the Spanish transport gunship, then looks at the DESTROYED TOWER and sees several TREES still standing in the background.
 
CUT TO BLACK.
 
END.

3 thoughts on “Glory To The Olives by Joey To

  1. Joey, I liked how beneath all the action taking place, you kept an undercurrent of family love flowing through the story. That was probably trickier than you made it seem.

  2. Joey this was a really interesting way to develop Jason’s original. I tried reading it on my phone first and lost the plot a bit, but once I had some page space it was fine. I particularly liked the sneaky Spanish coming through to save the day – never can trust those Europeans;-)
    Felt the olive tree was a good unifying motif…and particularly where it creeps into the President’s television speech.

    1. Thanks for the read, ladies.

      Amber – I didn’t have much of that in my first draft and felt it didn’t work so I changed it and gave Leeza the V.O. email. It was tricky to get it under the word count 😉 but I’m more-or-less happy with it.

      Debb – Haha, I’ve met enough Europeans and know enough European history to sense a bit of that. But then again, can we trust anyone nowadays?

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