THE STRAW THAT BROKE
A Film by Valentin Hennig
Screenplay by Tom Whalen
On My Origins:
An Interrupted Interview with the Encyclopedia Mouse
by Tom Whalen
INT – CLEA’S OFFICE – NIGHT
The screen is dark. An industrial, chthonic sound is present as ambient sound throughout the scene. A series of DISSOLVES brings us closer to the monitor in a corner of CLEA’s office. The room flickers back into a halflife-light.
On the monitor black and gray pixels rage, and through the storm, fading in and out (more DISSOLVES), we see the Encyclopedia Mouse, aka, EM.
Q: [Off, throughout] We’re talking from our studio in Los Angeles with the Encyclopedia Mouse. Welcome to the program and thank you for allowing this interview.
Q. As we understand it, you’re coming to us from the Binding Nexus Drive aboard
the Corpus Sanctus somewhere in deepest space.
EM: That’s about right.
Q: I’d like to begin with a few questions about your origins.
Q: Can you tell us how you came by your name?
EM: The old origin tale? Once upon a time, a little mouse, dass heißt ich, mich, selbst, EM, looked out from his hiding place in a laboratory outside Seattle’s Radiated Pile, and saw a young technician named Mary trip and spill her only vial of Water10, an experimental electrofludic—not that I knew that at the time. The young scientist let out a sob, dropped onto her knees, and released a tear into the liquid shimmering on the floor. Thirsty, I ran out, took a sip of the charmed water, and—hey presto!—became me, the Encyclopedia Mouse.
Q: I see. Can you tell us something about the film currently in production in Stuttgart, Germany, and being directed by Valentin Hennig, from a script by your amanuensis, Tom Whalen?
EM: Ah, Stuttgart. One of my favorite old stomping grounds. I remember when the Kommunales Kino resided in the Planetarium ...
Q: If we may get back to the film -- your task in it is ...?
EM: With the help of Claudia Weiß—dear, wonderful, most stressed colleague and friend, who, like me, finds herself at the limits of matter, meaning, and mind—she and I ... she and I ... [frantic] have to save us ALL from this blithering mess of a universe! [Calmer] That’s to say, with Claudia’s help, I must readjust the pitch of our fallings and failings and, by so doing, realign the universes’ trails and thus rewrite the multiverse and save ALL possible and impossible particles from annihilation.
Q: A task I’d say worthy of a Scheherazade.
Q: Have you met her?
EM: Yes, both the fictional and real storyteller.
Q: You met the real Scheherazade?
EM: Some of these encounters are Ur-memories made possible by the enhanced Water10 I drank, others occurred after I was [less calm now] ripped out of the Binding Nexus Drive and had my being fragmented to the five winds [now screaming] by the Harkons and Roithamer and the viral O-Cloud that’s eating everything in sight down to the quantum level ...!!!!!
Q: [Soothingly] And in the film, THE STRAW THAT BROKE, do you ...
[A high-pitch, elongated scream of umheimlich terror pierces the industrial, chthonic background sound.
The Encyclopedia Mouse looks left, looks right, and vanishes three seconds before the monitor blinks out.]
CUT TO BLACK