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The Skull
by Gavin Morgan (AudaciousDuck@gmail.com)

Rated: PG   Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy   User Review: **
Adapted from Philip K. Dick's short story of the same name, the Skull follows one Omar Conger as he travels back in time, attempting to stifle a religious revolution before it starts, with paradoxical consequences.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


Conger sits handcuffed to a chair, facing the Speaker. The
room is dark; only Conger and the Speaker are visible,
although soldiers may be percieved through the gloom. The
room is large, with a bit of an echo.
What is this opportunity, then? Go
on. I'm interested.
      (Leaning forward
Before you went to prison your
trading business was paying well –
all illegal – all very profitable.
Now you have nothing, except the
prospect of another six years in a
Conger scowls.
There is a certain situation, very
important to the Council, that
requires your peculiar abilities.
Also, it is a situation you might
find interesting. You were a
hunter, were you not? You’ve done
a great deal of trapping, hiding
in the bushes, waiting at night
for the game? I imagine hunting
must be a source of satisfaction
to you, the chase, the stalking –
All Right. Leave that out. Get to
the point. Who do you want me to
      (Smiling softly)
All in proper sequence.


There is no light anywhere along the street. A car pulls up
in front of a set of steps outside a great big church. Two
Soldiers stand on either side of the door.
Where are we? What is this place?
      (Taking Conger out
       of the car)
Come. Through that door.
Conger is led, by the soldier, to the steps. They are
followed by the Speaker.
I know this place. I’ve seen it
before. (He squints, then suddenly
becomes alert) This is –
Yes. The First Church. We’re
expected. (He walks forward)
Expected? Here?
      (Mounting the
But we’re not allowed in their
Churches, especially with guns!
      (To Soldiers)
All right? (They nod)
Inside, other Soldiers can be seen, looking up in awe at the
icons and holy images.
I see...
It was necessary. As you know, we
have been singularly unfortunate
in the past in our relations with
the First Church.


This won't help.
But it's worth it. You'll see.
They walk far in, into a small room. The Speaker pushes the
door open, and beckons Conger through. The room is dark,
incense burns in cups on the wall. There are stacks of
books, papers, and holy signs/images
In here. We have to hurry. The
faithful will be flocking in soon.
What’s that? The smell.
       crossing the room)
Cups on the wall. I don’t know.
According to our information, it
is hidden here by this –
Does my job involve anyone of the
Church? If it does –
      (Astonished, turns
       to Conger)
Can it be that you believe in the
Founder? Is it possible, a hunter,
a killer –
No. Of course not. All their
business about resignation to
death, non-violence –
What is it then?
I’ve been taught not to mix with
such as these. They have strange


                       CONGER (cont'd)
abilities. And you can’t reason
with them.
      (Studying conger
You have the wrong Idea. It is no
one here that we have in mind.
We’ve found that killing them only
tends to increase their numbers.
Then why come here? Let’s leave.
No. We came for something
important. Something you will need
to identify your man. Without it
you won’t be able to find him.
(Trace of smile) We don’t want you
to kill the wrong person. It’s too
I don’t make mistakes. Listen,
Speaker –
This is an unusual situation. You
see, the person you are after –
the person we are sending you to
find – is known only by certain
objects here. They are the only
traces, the only means of
identification. Without them –
      (He walks towards
       the Speaker)
What are they?
      (He opens a
       sliding wall, or
       box or something)
Look. In there.
A skull! A Skeleton!
The man you are after has been
dead for two centuries. This is


                       SPEAKER (cont'd)
all that remains of him. And this
is al you have with which to find
Conger ponders.
Soldier, take these objects and
have them carried to the car.
Don’t lose any part of them. (To
Conger) It is my hope that you
will demonstrate your loyalty to
us, now. There are always ways for
citizens to restore themselves, to
show their devotion to society.
For you I think this would be a
very good chance. I seriously
doubt that a better one will come.
And for your efforts there will be
quite a restitution, of course.
The two men look at each other.
I understand you. I mean, I
understand this part, about the
chance. But how can a man who has
been dead two centuries be –
I’ll explain later. Right now we
have to hurry. Come. They’ve
already discovered that we’ve
broken in here, and they’ll be
coming at any moment.
The First Church has an
interesting past. I suppose you
are familiar with it, but I’d like
to speak of a few points that are
of relevancy to us. It was the
twentieth century that the
Movement began – during one of the
periodic wars. The Movement
developed rapidly, feeding on the
general sense of futility, the
realization that each war was
breeding greater warm with no end
in sight. The Movement posed a


                       SPEAKER (cont'd)
simple answer to the problem:
Without military preparations –
weapons – there could be no war.
And without machinery and complex
scientific technocracy there could
be no weapons. The movement
preached that you couldn’t stop
war by planning for it. They
preached that man was losing to
his machinery and science, that it
was getting away from him, pushing
him into greater and greater wars.
Down with society, they shouted.
Down with factories and science! A
few more wars and there wouldn’t
be much left of the world. The
Founder was an obscure person from
a small town in the American
Middle West. We don’t even know
his name. All we know is that one
day he appeared, preaching a
doctrine of non-violence,
non-resistance; no fighting, no
paying taxes for guns, no research
except for medicine. Live out your
life quietly, tending your garden,
staying out of public affairs;
mind your own business. Be
obscure, unknown, poor. Give away
most of your possessions, leave
the city. At least that was what
developed from what he told the
The car stops.
                       SPEAKER (CONT'D)
The Founder preached this
doctrine, or the germ of it;
there’s no telling how much the
faithful have added themselves.
The local authorities picked him
up at once, of course. Apparently
they were convinced that he meant
it; he was never released. He was
put to death, and his body buried
secretly. It seemed that the cult
was finished.
The speaker smiles.


                       SPEAKER (CONT'D)
Unfortunately, some of his
disciples reported seeing him
after the date of his death. The
rumor spread; he had conquered
death, he was divine. It took
hold, grew. And here we are today,
with a First Church, obstructing
all social progress, destroying
society, sowing the seeds of
But the wars. About them?
The wars? Well, there were no more
wars. It must be acknowledged that
the elimination of war was the
direct result of non-violence
practiced on a general scale. But
we can take a more objective view
of war today. What was so terrible
about it? War had a profound
selective value, perfectly in
accord with the teachings of
Darwin and Mendel and others.
Without war, the mass of useless,
incompetent mankind, without
training or intelligence, is
permitted to grow and expand
unchecked. War acted to reduce
their numbers; like storms and
earthquakes and droughts, it was
nature’s way of eliminating the
Without war the lower elements of
mankind have increased all out of
proportion. They threaten the
educated few, those with
scientific knowledge and training,
the ones equipped to direct
society. They have no regard for
science or a scientific society,
based on reason. And this Movement
seeks to aid and abet them. Only
when scientists are fully in
control can the –
      (He looks at his
       watch, and
       quickly opens the


                       SPEAKER (cont'd)
       car door)
I’ll tell you the rest as we walk.
They step from the car.
                       SPEAKER (cont'd)
Doubtless you know whom those
bones belonged to, who it is that
we are after. He has been dead
just two centuries, now, this
ignorant man from the Middle West,
this Founder. The tragedy is that
the authorities of the time acted
too slowly. They allowed him to
speak, to get his message across.
He was allowed to preach, to start
his cult. And once such a thing is
under way, there’s no stopping it.
But what if he had died before he
preached? What if none of his
doctrines had ever been spoken? It
took only a moment for him to
utter them, that we know. They say
he spoke just once, just one time.
Then the authorities came, taking
him away. He offered no
resistance; the incident was
                       SPEAKER (still cont'd)
      (He turns to
Small, but we’re reaping the
consequences of it today.
The Speaker, Conger and his guard enter a building, into a
room in which the bones have been layed out on a table.
Soldiers stand around them, their faces intense. Conger
pushes past to look at the reconstructed skeleton.
So these are his remains. The
Founder. The Church has hidden
them for two centuries.
Quite So. But now we have them.
Coem along down the hall.


They go across the room to a door. The Speaker pushes it
open, revealing a room full of machinery. Technicians look
up. In the center of the room is a [Time Machine]. The
Speaker hands a "Slem-gun to Conger.
The important thing to remember is
that the skull must be saved and
brought back - for comparison and
proof. Aim low - at the chest.
      (Weighing the gun
       in his hands)
It feels good. I know this gun -
that is, I've seen them before,
but never used one.
You will be instructed on the use
of the gun and the operation of
the [Time Machine]. You will be
given all the data we have on the
time and location. The exact spot
is a place called Hudson's field.
About 1960 in a small community
outside of Denver, Colorado. And
don't forget - the only means of
identification you will have will
be the skull. There are visible
characteristics of the front
teeth, especially the incisor -
Conger listens absently, watching two technicians wrap the
skull in a plastic bag, and carry it to the [Time Machine].
And if I should make a mistake?
Pick the wrong man? Then find the
right one. Don't come back until
you succeed in reaching this
Founder. And you can't wait for
him to start speaking; that's what
we must avoid! You must act in
advance. Take chances; shoot as
soon as you think you've found
him. He'll be someone unusual,
probably a stranger in the area.
Apparently he wasn't known. Do
you think you have it all now?


      (Entering the
       [Time Machine])
Yes. I think so.
Good luck. We'll be awaiting the
outcome. There's some
philosophical doubt as to whether
one can alter the past. This
should answer the question once
and for all.
Conger fingers the controls.
By the way, don't try to use this
[Time Machine] for purposes not
anticipated by your job. We have
a constant trace on it. If we
want it back, we can get it back.
Conger activates the controls idly, still staring at the
plastic bag. As the machine goes to work, he picks up the
gun and holds it against his cheek. He practices moving the
Conger pulls a wad of cash out of his pocket, looks at it,
and returns it to his pocket. He walks down the road
towards town. He enters the library, looks around. Sits
down by a stack of magazines, then spots the newspapers. He
rushes over to them.
Prisoner hangs self...
unidentified man, suspicion of
criminal syndicalism... found
Finding it vage and uninformative, Conger frowns and carries
the paper back. He shuffles through the newspapers, finds
nothing. Then he finds what he is looking for.


      (Hands trembling)
December second! Man Arrested For
Unlicensed Demonstration!
Unidentified man who refused to
give his name... picked up by
special agents... recently
noticed, watched continuously.
Conger quickly heads back to the [Time Machine]. As he
walks down the street, a woman comes out of a building with
packages in her arms. He steps aside to let her pass, and
she stares, mouth open. He continues on his way, then stops
to look back. The woman is still staring, and has dropped
her packages. He turns a corner, goes up a side street.
When he turns around, she and another man begin to run
towards him. He loses them and heads out of town. Back at
the [Time Machine] he sets the controls and heads back to
A man lets Conger into the house. It's warm and "close."
      (Looking Conger
You better come inside. Out of
the cold.
A woman (Mrs. Appleton) enters. She and the man study him
It's a good room. I'm Mrs.
Appleton. It's got heat. You
need that this time of year.
      (Nodding, looking
You want to eat with us?


      (His brows knit.)
You want to eat with us? You're
not a foreigner, are you, mister?
No. I was born in this country.
Quite far west, though.
No. Oregon.
What's it like up there? I hear
there's a lot of trees and green.
It's so barren here. I come from
Chicago myself.
That's the middle west. You ain't
no foreigner.
Oregon isn't foreign, either. It's
part of the United States.
The man nods absently, staring at Conger's clothing.
That's a funny suit you got on,
mister. Where'd you get that?
      (Shifting uneasily)
It's a good suit. Maybe I better
go some other place if you don't
want me here.
They both raise their hands protestingly.
      (Smiling at Conger)
We just have to look out for those
Reds. You know, government is
always warning us about them.


The Government says they're all
around. We're supposed to report
anything strange or unusual,
anybody doesn't act normal.
Like me?
They look embarrassed
Well, you don't looke like a Red
to me. But we have to be careful.
The Tribune says...
      (To himself)
These people, so suspicious of
anything, will be buzzing and
gossiping and spreading the story.
All I have to do is lie low and
listen. (Out loud) Can I see the
Certainly. I'll be glad to show
it to you.
Conger walks around inside store, looking at frozen foods.
      (Smiling at Conger)
Can I help you?
Nothing. Just looking.
      (Whispering, her
       sharp face
       turning as if
Who's he? I never seen him


I don't know.
Looks funny to me. Why does he
wear a beard? No one else wears a
beard. Must be something the
matter with him.
Maybe he likes to wear a beard. I
had an uncle who-
Wait. Didn't that - what was his
name? The Red - the old one.
Didn't he have a beard? Marx. He
had a beard.
This ain't Karl Marx. I saw a
photograph of him once.
You did?
Sure. What's the matter with
I'd sure like to know more about
him. I think we ought to know
more, for our own good.
Conger walks down the road. Lora Hunt and Bill Willet drive
by, and slow down.
Hey, mister! Want a ride?
A ride? Sure.
Where you from?


From Cooper Creek.
Cooper Creek? That's funny. I
don't remember seeing you before.
Why, do you come from there?
I was born there. I know
everybody there.
I just moved in. From Oregon.
From Oregon? I didn't know Oregon
people had accents.
Do I have an accent?
You use words funny.
I don't know. Doesn't he, Lora?
      (Smiling at him)
You slur them. Talk some more.
I'm interested in dialects.
I have a speech impediment.
      (Eyes widen)
Oh. I'm sorry.
They drive along in silence.
I guess people from out of town
don't come here much. Strangers.
No. Not very much.


I'll bet I'm the first outsider
for a long time.
I guess so.
A friend of mine - someone I know,
might be coming through here.
Where do you suppose I might -
would there be anyone certain to
see him? Someone I could ask,
make sure I don't miss him if he
Just keep your eyes open. Cooper
Creek isn't very big.
No. That's right. (To himself)
Probably she is the boy's
mistress. Perhaps even his trial
wife. Or have they developed
trial marriage yet? But surely
such an attractive girl would be
someone's mistress by this time;
she looks sixteen or so. I'll be
sure to ask her, if we ever meet
Conger spots Lora in the soda fountain, talking with the
soda jerk, laughing. He walks in and slides into the seat
beside her.
I beg your pardon, am I intruding?
      (Shaking her head)
No. Not at all.
                       SODA JERK
What do you want?


      (Looking over at
       Lora's chocolate)
Same as she has.
By the way. You don't know my
name. Lora Hunt.
She holds out her hand. He takes it awkwardly, not knowing
what to do with it.
Conger is my name.
Conger? Is that your last name or
your first name?
Last or first? (He hesitates)
Last. Omar Conger.
(She laughs)
Like the poet, Omar Khayyam.
I don't know of him. I know very
little of poets. We restored very
few works of art. Usually only
when the church has been
interested enough - where I come
The Church? Which church do you
The Church.
(His chocolate arrives, and he
quickly starts to drink)
You're an unusual person. Bill
didn't like you, but he never
likes anything different. He's so
- prosaic. Don't you think that
when a person gets older he should
become - broadened in his outlook?


Conger nods.
                       LORA (CONT'D)
He says foreign people should stay
where they belong, not come here.
But you're not so foreign. He
means Orientals; you know.
CONGER nods, BILL WILLET enters.
Hello Lora.
(To Conger)
I didn't expect to see you here.
Something wrong with that?
No. Nothing wrong with that.
(After a moment of silence, Bill
turns to Lora)
Come on. Let's go.
Go? Why?
Just Go! Come on! The car's
Why, Bill Willet! You're jealous.
Who is this guy? Do you know
anything about him? Look at him,
his beard-
So what? Just because he doesn't
drive a Packard and go to Cooper
Sorry. I'll go.


What's your business in town? What
are you doing here? Why are you
hanging around Lora?
      (Looks at Lora and
No reason. I'll see you later.
He turns, and freezes. Bill stands in his way. Putting his
fingers to his belt, he whispers to himself.
Half pressure. No more. Half
"The room leapt."
My God-
CONGER walks out the door without looking back. When he is
almost around the corner, Bill comes slowly out, staggering
like a drunk.
Conger, walking down the road at night, is stopped by a
flashlight in his face.
Who is it?
(Conger waits, tense)
Who is it?
It's me.
Who is 'me'?
Conger is my name. I'm staying at
the Appleton's place. Who are
The sheriff steps forward, revealing himself to be wearing a
leather jacket. There is a gun at his waist.


I'm Sheriff Duff. I think you're
the person I want to talk to. You
were in Bloom's today, about three
The fountain. Where the kids hang
(He comes up to Conger, shining
the light in his face.)
Alright. (The light flickers to
the ground) You were there. Some
trouble broke out between you and
the Willet boy. Is that right?
You had beef over this girl-
We had a discussion.
Then what happened?
I'm just curious. They say you
did something.
Did something? Did what?
I don't know. That's what I'm
wondering. They saw a flash, and
something seemed to happen. They
all blacked out. Couldn't move.
How are they now?
All right.
There is silence.


                       CONGER (cont'd)
Well? What was it? A bomb?
A bomb?
(He laughs)
No. My cigarette lighter caught
fire. There was a leak, and the
fluid ignited.
Why did they all pass out?
Silence. Conger shifts, waiting, his fingers moving towards
his belt. Sheriff Duff glances down, grunts.
If you say so. Anyhow, there
wasn't any real harm done.
(He takes a step back from Conger)
And that Willet is a
Good night, then.
(He starts past the sheriff)
One more thing, Mr. Conger. Before
you go, you don't mind if I look
at your identification, do you?
No. Not at all.
He pulls out his wallet, hands it to the sheriff. There is
a moment of silence while the sheriff looks it over, then he
looks up at Conger, and hands it back.
Ok. Sorry to bother you.
(The flashlight winks out.)
Conger lingers at the door. Mrs. Appleton does not look up.


Can I ask you something? Can I
ask you - what's the date?
      (Studying him))
The date? The first of December.
December First? Why it was just
Mrs. Appleton stares at him, suddenly he gasps.
                       CONGER (cont'd)
Thanks. Thanks.
(He rushes to his room)
What a foold I am. They still use
the twelve month calendar. Damn.
The Founder's appearance is
Conger stands and looks about the field. Then he pulls out
an object, fiddles with it, and brings the [Time Machine].
He smiles to see it appear, and sits in it. He picks up the
gun, then puts it down.
Better I should leave the gun
here, just in case I am approached
before the Founder comes. It
could be hours. When I see the
Founder coming, then I will get
the gun.
He picks up the wrapped skull, unwraps it, and turns it over
in his hands.
The skull of the Founder, who is
still alive, who will come here,
this day, to stand on the field
not fifty yards away... What if
he could see this, his own skull,
yellow and corroded? Two
centuries old. Would he still
speak? What would there be for
him to say? What message could he
bring? What action would not be
futile, when a man could look upon


                       CONGER (cont'd)
his own aged, yellow skull? A man
who could hold his own skull in
his hands would believe in few
causes, few movements. Rather, he
would preach the opposite-
A sound. Conger drops the skull and picks up the gun,
alert. He pushes the door open, gun raised. Lora stands
there. Silently, they look at each other. At last, Conger
lowers the gun.
What is it? What are you doing
Seemingly unable to speak, Lora points towards the field.
What is it? What do you want?
(He looks in the direction she is
I don't see anything.
They're coming.
They? Who? Who are coming?
They are. The Police. During the
night the Sheriff had the state
police send cars. All around,
everywhere. Blocknig the roads.
There's about sixty of them
coming. Some from town, some
around behind.
(She stops, gasping)
They said- they said
They said you were some kind of
Communist. They said -
      (Puts the gun away)
Thanks. You came here to tell me?
You don't believe it?


I don't know.
Did you come alone?
No. Joe brought me in his truck.
From town.
Joe? Who's he?
Joe French. The plumber. He's a
friend of dad's.
Let's go.
They cross the field quickly to Joe's truck.
You the one?
Yes. Thanks for warning me.
I don't know anything about this.
Lora says you're all right. It
might interest you to know some
more of them are coming. Not to
warn you - just curious.
More of them?
Across the field, a small crowd of people is seen picking
thier way towards the center. Including: Bill Willet, The
Appletons, Ed Davies, the woman from the street.
People from the town. You can't
keep this sort of thing quiet, not
in a small town. We all listen to
the police radio; they heard the
same way Lora did. Someone tuned
it, spread it around-
Even Ed Davies...


All curious as hell. Well, I
guess I'm going back to town. I
don't want my truck full of holes.
Come on, Lora.
Lora is staring up at Conger, wide-eyed.
                       JOE (cont'd)
Come on. Let's go. You sure as
hell can't stay here, you know.
There may be shooting. That's
what they all came to see. You
know that don't you, Conger?
You have a gun? Or don't you
(He smiles a little)
They've picked up a lot of people
in their time, you know. You won't
be lonely.
      (To himself))
I care alright. I've got to stay
here, on the field! Can't afford
to let them take me away!
(Out loud)
I care. You go on back to town.
Take the girl with you.
Lora gets stiffly into the car, frightened now, Joe starts
the engine.
Look at them, standing there. Like
Vultures, waiting to see someone
get killed.
Conger Rushes back to the time machine, reaching for the
gun, notching it up to full power.


The Slem-gun will take care of
them! THe chain reaction from it
would flatten them all, the
police, the curious, sadistic
people! They won't take me! I'll
get away, escape. By the end of
the day they'll all be dead, if
that's what they want, and I-
He looks at the skull, freezes. He puts the gun down, picks
up the skull. He looks at it, and walks to the mirror. He
presses the skull against his cheek, and bares his teeth.
I'm the Founder...
He puts the skull down, sits down, and plays with the
controls idly. Outside, the sound of men and engines can be
I could escape, of course... But
here it is, my own skull, yellowed
with age. Escape, when I've held
it in my own hands? What does it
matter if I put it off a month, a
year, ten years, even fifty? Time
is nothing! I
ve sipped chocolate with a girl
born a hundred and fifty years
before my time! I can't really
escape! No more so than than
anyone else had ever escaped! But
I've held it in my hands. My own
bones, my own death's-head. They
had not.
He stands up and walks to the field. Someone throws a rock
at him, he looks down at it, and smiles.
Come on! Don't you have any
bombs!? Throw a bomb! You with
the beard! Throw a bomb! Let 'em
have it! Toss a few A bombs!
They begin to laugh, Conger smiles and puts his hands on his
hips. Seeing that he is about to speak, they fall silent.
I'm sorry. I don't have any


I have a gun. A very good one.
Made by science even more advanced
than your own. But I'm not going
to use that, either.
Why not?
Conger spots a woman watching from the edge of the crowd. He
recognizes her as the woman who chased him in the street. He
grins. A police car pulls up to the edge of the field. The
people retreat a little. Conger raises his hands.
I have an odd paradox for you.
Those who take lives will lose
their own. Those who kill, will
die. But he who gives his own
life away will live again!
The crowd laughs nervously, the police walk towards him.
Conger is still smiling.


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From James Date 7/15/2006 *1/2
Found it a bit easy to follow and figure what is next. Work the dialogue a bit. Overall it is good but needs some TLC.

From Brian Chidueme Date 7/8/2006 **
You need to edit the master headings a bit. Remember: INT. Interior of Church = does not make much sense, because there already is an interior. Also, do some more corrections.

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