Trying something new this week: Over at Terrible Minds, writer Chuck Wendig posts a Flash Fiction Challenge each Friday. This week’s challenge was to genre-flip a familiar scene from a book or film. That is, take a well-known scene from a movie or book and rewrite it in an entirely different genre. In a word, my reaction to the idea was, “Shiny!”
I tossed around a few ideas: The bar scene in Good Will Hunting, the fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally. And then I woke up at 2 am this morning wondering what would happen if the crew of the Nostromo showed up to take care of the spider in Annie Hall’s bathroom.
So here you go:
INT. ANNIE’S LIVINGROOM Annie, looking slightly distraught. Opens the door to Ripley’s knock. Ripley, Parker, and Brett enter stealthily. Ripley motioning silence. Finger to her lips. Dallas, Lambert, and Ash climb through the window. Off the fire escape. ANNIE Oh. DALLAS (to ANNIE) You called. It was garbled, but we understood something was in your apartment. ASH We assumed it was a distress call. RIPLEY Mother was able to make some sense of it by applying Advanced Crying Filters. It sounded like a warning. ASH Or a distress call. ANNIE There’s a spider in the bathroom. LAMBERT No. No, no, no. BRETT A spider. Jesus. ANNIE A big black one. DALLAS (to ANNIE) And it’s in the bathroom. You’re certain? Annie nods vigorously. RIPLEY You got us out of hypersleep at three in the morning for a spider? ANNIE Well, you know how I am about insects. PARKER Kill it! For God’s sake. What is wrong with you? BRETT Don’t you have a can of Raid in the house? ANNIE (shaking her head) No. RIPLEY Protocol requires insecticide, Annie. ANNIE I know, I know. And a first aid kit. And a fire extinguisher. Tsch. ASH I think it would be better if it wasn’t killed. RIPLEY She put herself in danger. She put us all in danger. DALLAS Aw, she does what the company tells her to, Ripley. Same as all of us. RIPLEY You all can make fun of me all you want, but I’m the one who’s prepared. I’m always the one who’s prepared. LAMBERT Is it cold in here? ANNIE Would you like a sweater? I have a really cute one that might fit you. RIPLEY Can we just focus on the problem? Are we sure it’s still in the bathroom? It could be anywhere by now. DALLAS We’ll have to split up, search the apartment. Lambert. Ash. You’re with me. He and Ripley start moving. Arrive at the door to the hallway simultaneously. A moment of confusion. All six crew try to squeeze through the door at once. RIPLEY Hold it. Just stop. She gestures to Dallas, who steps into the hallway. She follows, and then the rest, zipper-fashion. INT. ANNIE’S LIVINGROOM - LATER Empty. Except for Annie pacing the center of the room. Ignoring the cat. A brief commotion at the hallway door again. Then several seconds of silence. Parker, Brett, and Ripley enter from the hallway. Dallas, Lambert, and Ash come in from the fire escape. BRETT What was that? What the Christ was that? ASH Parasteatoda tepidariorum. Referred to internationally as the American house spider. RIPLEY How do you know so much about that thing? ASH I am the Science Officer. It is my job to know. PARKER Did anyone else notice that it wasn’t alone? LAMBERT I did. RIPLEY Dammit. That means we’ve got another one. LAMBERT Yeah. And they’re loose. Who knows how many of them there are? DALLAS We’re going to have to catch them and eject them from the apartment. ASH Sounds great. But, how? DALLAS Room by room. RIPLEY That could take forever. ANNIE Guys? I do have to go to work in the morning. ASH And our supplies are based on us spending a limited amount of time out of hypersleep. LAMBERT We can’t kill them. They have acid for blood. It’ll eat right through the walls. RIPLEY Where the hell did you get that idea? Acid for blood. I mean, really. ANNIE Please don’t stain my Persian rug. PARKER I say we put on our pressure suits and blow all the air out of the apartment. That might kill them. ASH I hate to point this out, but there’s no way to evacuate all the air from the apartment. Everyone looks at Annie. ANNIE What? How was I supposed to know? Tsch. RIPLEY The longer we wait, the greater the chance that those things will spread out and we’ll have to find them again. LAMBERT And what do we do when we find them? DALLAS Trap them somehow. BRETT If we had a really strong, very fine net, we could bag them. I could put something together. LAMBERT Why do we listen to you, exactly? DALLAS He might be right. Annie hands him a paper cup. DALLAS Or we could use this. INT. ANNIE’S BATHROOM Dark. Parker and Brett move silently. Ripley ahead, carrying a flashlight. RIPLEY Nothing. Tell me again why we’re looking for spiders in the dark. Ripley pans the beam around the room Stops on Annie’s cat, sitting on the side of the tub. Startled, it arches its back and hisses Falls into the tub with a splash. Scrambles over the side of the tub. Darts out of the room. BRETT She must have been getting ready for a bath. PARKER Cats are always giving them— BRETT Not the cat. Her, you idiot. RIPLEY Shut up, both of you. (to Brett) Go get it. We’ll keep looking. BRETT Right. Ripley and Parker continue. Searching the bathroom by flashlight. Brett moves into the hallway. Following the wet trail left by the cat. He moves across the hallway to the bedroom. INT. ANNIE’S BEDROOM Brett walking carefully across the darkened room. Looking for the cat. Nervous. BRETT Jones. Here, kitty. Come on, kitty. Jones. Goddamn it, cat. A soft thump. The blind flies up, bathing the room in eerie half-light. Silhouetting the cat on the window sill. It uses a paw to hold something against the window. Something moving. The cat lunges. An arm reaches for Brett. He screams. A sudden shadow in the doorway. The lights come on. Parker is holding Brett’s elbow. Ripley stands in the doorway, her hand on the light switch. RIPLEY Quit screwing around. BRETT Oh, Christ. Is that what I think it is? They all follow Brett’s gaze. Looking at the cat. A spider leg hangs out of its mouth. PARKER That’s... BRETT Disgusting. PARKER The size of a Buick. RIPLEY Well, one down, one to go. Annie appears in the doorway. ANNIE Ew. Would anybody like a glass of chocolate milk? Disbelief. RIPLEY Do we look like kids to you? ANNIE (touching Ripley’s chest with the palm of her hand) I got the good chocolate, Ripley. RIPLEY Yeah. There’s still another spider. ANNIE Are you sure? It really is good chocolate. Hey, don’t squish the spider, okay? Even if it might not have acid blood, I’d rather not risk it, you know? Just flush it down the toilet, okay? And flush twice? RIPLEY I know the protocols for killing spiders, Annie. Ripley disappears across the hall, returns almost immediately. RIPLEY Big spider. Very big. She snatches the cup out of Parker’s hand. Returns to the bathroom. A shout. Parker and Brett high tail it to the living room. A flush. Then another. Then several more, staccato-style. Ripley returns to the bedroom. Annie is sitting on the bed, her face in her hands. RIPLEY Problem solved. What’s wrong? ANNIE Don’t go, Ripley. Please? RIPLEY (sitting down next to her) What do you mean, don’t go? None of this makes sense. ANNIE Oh, I don’t know. I mean don’t go, I miss you. Tsch. Ripley puts her arms around Annie. RIPLEY That could be a problem. ANNIE Oh, yeah. (they kiss) Oh! Ripley! RIPLEY What? Ripley is tender now, wiping Annie’s tears. ANNIE Was there somebody in your room when I called you? RIPLEY What? No! ANNIE Why did the whole crew show up, then? RIPLEY Protocol. Your distress call met certain parameters in Mother’s programming and she woke us all up. Annie looks dubious. RIPLEY Also, I had the television on. ANNIE (accepting this) Oh. Ripley pulls her close and they kiss again. INT. HYPERSLEEP VAULT Seven hypersleep beds. Dallas, Lambert, Ash, Parker, and Brett are all settled in. Waiting for sleep. Ripley paces. Dressed only in a T-shirt and underpants. She is holding the cat. RIPLEY What could possibly be taking so long? DALLAS I’ve never seen you so agitated. RIPLEY I don’t... There are no protocols. DALLAS Sure there are. RIPLEY There must be a problem. The bathroom door opens. Annie stands for a moment in the doorway. Her attire matches Ripley’s. ANNIE Ripley, there’s a spider. It’s kind of a big one. FIN