Interior. A large-ish kitchen, with plastic shit everywhere. A seating area runs the length of one wall, and on the end of it, by a window, sits a middle-aged woman (MAW). (Or perhaps it’s a member of the Bay City Rollers, the silly hair-do is confusing). She is looking at her laptop and talking to someone.
MAW: ...so, you know, it’s fine. Well sort of fine. I’m managing. Well, sort of managing. Like I was just saying, I just need to get out of the house soon or I will lose my mind.
(We then see it’s a Skype call, and pan to the person she’s talking to. A fresh-faced woman (FFW) stares somewhat nervously back from the lap-top. She has the air about her of someone who wishes that she never accepted the call, and is now wondering how she can disconnect it without appearing rude. We hear her think: “Will she ever SHUT UP about leaving the house... Surely there’s a button I can press so that ‘We had to disconnect you’ message pops up?”)
FFW: Um, right. So how was your birthday?
MAW: Oh God it was hideous. Horrendous. The worst ever. I had lots of lovely things planned, then she went and got sick, and I haven’t slept, and I swear, if I don’t get out of the house soon I’m going to kill someone...
Suddenly the call ends and we see that the FFW’s Skype status has changed to Offline.
Interior. A cramped, dusty office. The same cramped, dusty office we visited back in April. Files are piled even higher on the floor. The door bearing the plate marked “Death” remains closed. Two enormous bearded old men are still perched on stools at their desks, muttering and flicking through files, sucking on cigarette butts, and tipping the ash on their respective nameplates: “Pestilence” and “Famine”. A third enormous old man is standing near the desk marked “War”, furiously kicking a shockingly large file at his feet.
Famine: What’s that?
War: Fucking Syria. STILL. I’ve been working on this file FOREVER and it just NEVER ENDS. Christ, I didn’t leave my job in the law firm for this. I need some light relief. Anyone got anything?
Pestilence: This is up for review if you want to play around with it a bit. I’ve put in some suggestions already.
He throws a fairly thick file at War, who allows it to fall open on his desk.
War: Ha! I was just thinking about her the other day. How’s she doing with the new arrival? (Scanning the file) Holy cow, not so badly. Whooda thought??
He reads on, then looks back up at Pestilence who is doodling distractedly on a pad.
War: You can be an evil bastard sometimes. I thought he’d said (he jerks his head towards the closed door) to lay off toddlers in the run up to Christmas?
Pestilence: Oh for goodess’ sakes; it’s just a bit of bronchialitis. She gets it every year. It’s not like she’ll have to be hospitalised or anything. A few nights of mild – at this, Famine gives a large snort – discomfort, a refusal to eat for a week, some drugs, and she’ll be back tormenting everyone with her pissy attitude.
War: Fair enough. Although... (he quickly reads another page) ...I think there’s an opportunity here for something more emotionally destructive...
He grabs a red pen and, grinning manically, marks up the most recent memo before tossing the file back to Pestilence. Pestilence reads it and blanches. Famine grabs the file off him.
Pestilence: What about the Christmas embargo?
War: It never said anything about babies... AND she keeps banging on about never leaving the house. That should do it.
Famine: (Writing something else on the memo, before throwing it back to War) That’ll teach her to go posting photos online of her looking so fat and healthy and happy...
War: (Reading what’s just been written) Nice!
Pestilence: Anything else before I send this off?
Famine: While the Man’s away. Just in time for the Boy to break up from nursery for the holidays. Perhaps even encompassing Christmas day?
Pestilence and War (together): NICE!
Exterior: Ariel shot of Central London. We see the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and then swoop over Hyde Park, down Oxford Street – twinkling under Christmas lights – and up to a non-descript building close to another park. The camera rests on a window in that building, through which we see the MAW, even more dishevelled than usual, talking to an authoritative-looking man in a suit, with a stethoscope around his neck. It is obviously a hospital room, and we can assume he’s a doctor.
Doctor: ...so the tests show conclusively that it’s bronchialitis, which is, as you know, a viral infection. The increased temperature suggests, however, the possibility of an additional bacterial infection, so as well as the feeding tube and the oxygen, I’d like to insert ain intravenous line to administer anti-biotics. Just as a precautionary measure.
MAW: (Flatly, as if the life force has finally been drained out of her) Fine. Are you able to tell how long we might be in here?
Doctor: Realistically, you won’t be going anywhere until her oxygen levels go up on their own, and she can feed normally. At least 4 days, probably longer. The main symptoms – the coughing, sore throat, mild fever – will likely linger for a few weeks.
MAW: (Sounding like she doesn’t mean it at all) Thank you.
They shake hands and he leaves the room. We then see, for the first time, the tiny bundle in the cot in the middle of the room. There are tubes and wires spreading from it to beeping machines, and as we get closer we see a tiny grey face beneath a sea of tape and gauze, its little button nose stretched with tubes. We can hear the rasping of her breath and the occasional whimper. MAW kisses her head, then sits down beside her. Her (prehistoric) phone beeps, and she takes it from the table, opening a message. We see her grin, and she puts the phone down and goes over to the baby again. The camera zooms in on the message on the discarded phone.
“Look on the bright side – at least you’re out of the house...”