Int. Tardigrade Trucking
Black. We hear a truck ignition and see headlights.
Shot - Truck’s cabin, a tight shot on the console radio. Next to the radio is a panel with a low resolution Atari-like screen and a mechanical eyeball. This is OTTO the Autopilot. He looks up as a hand comes in from off screen and turns on the radio. Music - “Cocaine” by Dick Justice.
Shot - Foot steps on the gas and the engine revs.
Shot - Tailpipes shoot blue flames.
Shot - Driver adjusts the mirror and we get our first glimpse of him.
Ext. Space, outside Tardigrade Trucking.
Music continues. The ship leaves the ship bay, flying by the camera so we see the company’s logo on the side of the trailer.
Int. Truck Cabin
Music continues. Cut in. We see BRACHUM in the driver’s seat. We only see Brachum’s upper body, but we can tell he’s a really big guy, which is further emphasized by the crampedness of the cabin. Brachum is an older man, mid 60s, and has a big moustache and beard. He looks like he used to be muscular at some point. He has a ring of hair around the back of his head, and covers up his bald spot with a trucker hat. He’s wearing a pair of sunglasses that seem to have a sort of technological capability, like a rearview mirror you wear on your face.
He takes up almost all the space in the cabin, but there is plenty of evidence laying around that the place is lived-in. Empty chip bags, used air fresheners, spare clothes, discarded mail - the place is a mess. The decor looks dated and futuristic at the same time.
Breaker 1-9, comin’ in soon. (indistinct chatter from headset) Yeah, yeah, I was gonna turn in for the night, but I think if I keep going I can squeeze in a few more deliveries. (more chatter) I know, I know, it’s gonna be a good quarter for me.
As he talks, we pan across the dashboard. The front console has lots of weird buttons and dials in addition to the dated-looking radio, including a healthy amount of wood paneling, but the biggest section is a tiny mechanical eyeball above a small screen. Text inlaid below it says “OTTO.” (Omnidirectional Truck Transit Operator) He’s running Windows 98. His tech looks just as dated as the rest of the truck, but it has more of a retro-future vibe than an Atari 2600 vibe.
There is a little more indistinct chatter on Brachum’s headset, and he scoffs.
That thing? I swear they’ve been pushin’ me to use automated systems for years. I’d rather fly through the night then let some robot do my work for me.
As he speaks, we cut in close on OTTO. He looks slightly offended. He beeps, and a message pops up on the screen.
Alright, alright, might take a quick nap but - Hold on. (turns to OTTO) Whattaya want?
Short pan down to OTTO’s screen. There is a U-turn icon and a message that says “wrong way!”
Brachum rolls his eyes.
You don’t know what yer talkin’ about, look - (rummages in car and takes out a paper map) We’re here, and we gotta get here, here, and here before tomorrow.
Close on OTTO’s eye, looking bored. Then, he seems to notice something. We see from his POV as he zooms in on the paper map to an interesting looking planet. OTTO replicates the map on his screen, adding a dotted arrow towards the planet. The path is winding and more fun-looking than Brachum’s map.
Brachum rolls his eyes again, then turns a dial next to OTTO. It changes the map back to the original path. He pats OTTO a couple times like a dog.
Why doncha power down for a little bit? We got a long way to go.
Music fades out. Crossfade into next scene. The ship flies across the screen, out a ways.
Int. Truck Sleeper
Cut onto a TV screen.
We now return to… The Real Housewives of the Trappist-1 System!
Cut out to Brachum, on top of the covers, still in daytime clothes. He drinks a cup of coffee. The circles under his eyes are emphasized in the light of the TV. We hear indistinct Real Housewives chatter.
The truck’s sleeper is marginally less cluttered than the cockpit, but it looks a little more cozy. There are windows at the head and foot of the bed, with dark curtains drawn. They are open slightly, though, so we can tell the truck is still traveling through space. A couple shelves and cabinets are on the wall behind him, holding clothes, snacks, and books/magazines. A couple postcards/posters are stuck up on the wall.
He watches for a couple seconds, then checks his watch. Then, we hear some harsh beeps from the cabin. He looks up, annoyed.
Int. Truck Cabin
Brachum pokes his head in from behind the curtain.
Cut to OTTO’s screen, which has OTTO’s preferred map on it. OTTO’s hand turns down the volume on the console before we quickly pan up to see his guilty caught-in-the-act look.
He clambors up into the driver’s seat. He reaches over to calibrate the map back.
I told you where we were going, you can’t just change what I-
OTTO changes the map right back, then looks at Brachum challengingly.
Brachum meets his gaze, a little taken aback.
Fine, you wanna be like that?
He presses a big red button next to the radio labeled “Override.”
Pull out. A panel opens up on the console. A paper coffee cup drops down and slowly fills with coffee as Brachum and OTTO stare each other down.
Brachum makes a frustrated noise, then starts pressing the Override button over and over.
Cut outside, we see the headlights blinking on and off.
Back inside, a super duper frustrated Brachum starts yanking on the steering wheel. It won’t budge, but OTTO slaps his hand away anyway.
OTTO wags his finger at him tauntingly, and the camera zooms into his screen. Some jagged shapes are getting closer to the ship icon. A foreboding steel guitar sting plays.
Brachum, alarmed, looks out the window. Sure enough, they’re approaching an asteroid field. Music - “Keep Your Shirt On, John” by Hal Lone Pine and Betty Cody. Brachum turns back to OTTO, frantic.
OTTO, give me back control of the ship-!
A seat belt flies out of the seat and straps him in, and they’re off.
Cut out. The ship ping-pongs around, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the giant space rocks. We cut in to see Brachum screaming and holding on for dear life. Cut in to OTTO’s screen, which looks like a game of Asteroids on Atari, complete with those wind tunnel sound effects. Cut back out, more asteroids. Finally, the ship makes it to the other side of the belt. Music fades out.
Brachum sinks down in the seat, clutching his chest. He looks over to OTTO, ready to really let him have it. OTTO looks sheepish for maybe a second, but then there’s a loud, steady beeping. They both notice that the ship’s fuel is almost on empty.
Ext. Space Rest Stop
Music - “I Really Want You to Know” by Betty Cody. Crossfade to a gas station, which is a floating, bubbled platform in empty space. A sign in the foreground says “Last Gas Station for 50 Light Years.” Brachum’s ship zooms into the shot, then through the airlock and into the station.
Cut in closer, now inside the bubble. The ship lands heavily next to a gas pump.
Int. Truck Cabin
Brachum tries to open the car door, but it’s locked. He sighs, annoyed.
Open the door, please.
OTTO gives him one of those “I got my eye on you” gestures and unlocks the door.
Ext. Gas Station
Outside, the music sounds more echoey and tinny. Brachum bumbles out of the truck. He crosses to the gas pump. A couple aliens give him weird looks. He pumps his gas, then looks for where to insert his card. Then, he notices a sign - “Pay Inside.” He looks over at the small convenience store, Laika’s.
Brachum walks into the convenience store, pausing to pet the lizard dog outside.
Inside, we pan across the store. The inside is very cluttered, as it should be for the last convenience store in 50 light years. It’s reminiscent of the only store in a remote northern Maine town in the middle of the woods - everything is tacky. It seems like if you look hard enough, you’d find anything.
Behind the counter is a squid alien wearing a polo shirt. His nametag reads SQUIDNEY. He looks like he doesn’t want to be there.
Brachum approaches the counter. Squidney doesn’t look up from his magazine.
Brachum hesitates, then his eyes wander over to the snacks.
Ah, hold on.
He starts rummaging, and Squidney looks very put upon. Brachum settles on a Space Junk candy bar and is about to pay when something catches his eye.
It’s an Autopilot Genie, which looks like a real world Game Genie (a device that lets you hack your NES games.) On the package, it says things like “Bypass your ship’s factory settings!” and “Regain control of your electronics!”
Brachum takes one out of the box and deliberates.
You gonna buy something or what?
Int. Truck Cabin
Crossfade. Brachum clambors in, grocery bag in hand.
Thank you for your patience.
He unwraps the candy bar, but suddenly the ship takes off. He fumbles and drops the bar. Music fades out under the noise.
Now back flying in space, he gets his bearings and grabs the bar off the floor. It’s covered in carpet dirt and hair.
OTTO laughs. Brachum is not amused. There is a series of tense close ups of OTTO laughing, Brachum’s angry face, the map on the screen, and the Space Junk bar. Brachum quickly reaches back into the grocery bag and gets the Autopilot Genie. He shoves it into the tape deck.
OTTO’s screen scrambles into a glitchy mess, then turns off. Brachum settles back in his chair. Long, quiet moment. Brachum takes out the paper map and looks at it, then lowers it to look out the window. We see the vast emptiness. Music - soundalike to “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” by Blind Willie Johnson.
Cut out further and further until all we see is empty space.
Music fades out. Picture fades back in on OTTO as he turns back on,. Disoriented, he looks around and then sees Brachum sheepishly smiling and holding the Autopilot Genie.
OTTO smacks it out of his hand, then starts yelling at him with robot noises. Brachum takes out his paper map, then tears it in half. OTTO is gobsmacked. Brachum sighs.
Where d’you wanna go?
Ext. Planet from the Map
Music - “Don’t Believe Everything That You Read About Love” by Betty Cody. The ship flies toward the planet.
Cut back inside the cabin. We watch with Brachum through the window s the ship lands. He looks back at OTTO, confused.
Ext. Clearing in a Really Nice Forest
The ship sits at the edge of a clearing next to a lake. Mountains are in the distance. Brachum gets out of the ship and walks forward, looking around.
He looks out over the lake to see a fantastic sunset. He looks back toward the ship.
Cut back inside, OTTO in the foreground, as Brachum jogs back over and leans through the open door.
OTTO, I- I just, I- uh-
OTTO reaches over and grabs a pillow and a sleep mask. There’s a pause. Brachum takes it.
… Thank you.
He exits the frame, then we cut back in to OTTO, closing his eye. Real quick, he changes the song on the radio to “Cocaine” by Dick Justice.
Cut back out to Brachum, sleeping on the grass. Credits.