Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: We Share Our Mother’s Health

It had been a whirlwind couple of months. If she’d been told that rainy night when she’d left their – Anton’s – house to go to Nick’s stupid party that she would never return, she wouldn’t have believed it. Yet here she was now in her own office with the lights off just in case, snatching notes out of her file cabinets and looting her own chemistry bench. Anton wasn’t in the office. Sally checked with Betty, his secretary, to make sure he’d be out at a lunch meeting when she came to collect her things. The absolute last thing she needed was for him to catch her here making off with company property. She tossed everything – gently, in the case of the chemicals – into a single banker’s box on her desk.

She only needed one last thing. Sally yanked open the fourth drawer of the last file cabinet and pushed the hanging folders back to reveal her new Joy formula notes lying hidden at the bottom of the drawer. She’d finally perfected it a couple months ago and had started using it herself, but she hadn’t told Anton. Her mother had always been so worried about Sally’s ability to keep a man around, but Sally had also learned that it was prudent to have a backup plan in case one needed to rid themselves of a man too. This new Joy formula was hers.


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: Sinneslöschen, Pt. 10

September 6th, 1964

Haworth made concerted efforts not to get comfortable with his life in the glass cell. Getting comfortable was dangerously close to getting lazy. Getting lazy would leave him unprepared to take an opportunity as it presented itself. So every morning, he dressed in his full attire just as he would have were he at home – or as if he had full intention of leaving Haworth Labs that day – before Dr. Hughes came around to dose him with Coconut.

Some mornings, though, he woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

When the lights flicked on overhead today, the light filtering in under the blanket he always pulled up over his head as he slept exactly because the lights flicked on so abruptly, Haworth eased into wakefulness and an oppressive gloom. He woke with that feeling often so he got out of bed like he always did and dressed before his usual morning audience arrived in spite of it.

Sometimes the Coconut would help, pushing the dreary feeling into the background. By the third day of the same dosage, however, the odds were in favor of the morosity winning out. He’d been in a sour mood since yesterday’s visit with Verloc, brief moment of fun working out that code with Gemma notwithstanding. His patient notes had really said it all. Admitted November 10th, 1960, the day his entire world inverted on itself.


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: A Knowledge to Match His Eyesight

“I could put some hinges on it, maybe. Or install a knob,” Corporal Hardy said. The only thing Hardy’s skill set as a joiner and that of a shipwright had in common was carpentry work. Fortunately or not, Hardy managed to get the wooden part of General Byng’s boat in working order weeks ago, but that left him with no other improvements to report now. Despite his admitted lack of ability, though, this was a good post to have so he made a symbolic show of looking busy by polishing a smudge of the battered yet shiny hull. “Aside from that, I don’t think there’s much else I can do for it. The engine’s rusted over, but I don’t know the first thing about motorworks.”

“If we was meant to be in boats, we’d be the Home Navy, now wouldn’t we?” Corporal Cheeseman groused. He’d been sent to check on Hardy’s progress in this foolhardy endeavor. “Where does the General think he needs a boat to get off to anyway?”


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: Sinneslöschen, Pt. 9

September 6th, 1964

Gemma felt better today. Not by much, but enough to think there was some improvement. Or maybe she was growing used to the discomfort that it was fading into background noise. As she pulled her blanket tighter and sipped her chicory, she assessed her condition. The headache and fever both persisted, but she found they didn’t take up all her mental energy when she was alone with no one to focus her attention on.

Lucky thing too, as Gemma felt she’d made enough progress with Verloc to proceed into the compliment phase of Mary Ann’s interview tactics. She’d need more to talk about than his hair though, she thought as she bit into her apple. She’d probably played that angle out as far as it was going to go, but she was coming up empty on anything else to praise Verloc for. Gemma couldn’t see what Sally ever saw in him, and her theory that their relationship was only ever a facade on Sally’s part was starting to look a lot more likely. Still, if Sally had managed to stick with him for three years, there had to be something admirable about Verloc that Gemma could use to flatter him into submission.


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: Sinneslöschen, Pt. 8

September 5th, 1964

Freshly gassed with Coconut, Haworth waited at the end of his bed for the mist to settle and his breakfast to be brought in. When his door opened at 8:00 o’clock sharp – contrary to most employers who had to grant some leniency with time once Joy had been introduced, Verloc insisted that the daily schedule be maintained with exacting punctuality – a new nurse he didn’t recognize came in with his morning meal.

“Oh! You’re a new face,” Haworth said, slipping into his tried and true harmless old man act. “And a pretty one too! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any brighter in here.” While he usually acclimated to his increased dosage of Coconut by the second day enough as to be in more deliberate control of himself, this was an act he’d perfected over his years in here so well that he no longer needed cunning to perform it. He could play it entirely on instinct now.

“Don’t try to sweet talk me, Dr. Haworth,” the new nurse said. Her tone was brusque and her posture guarded. She kept a close eye on him as the door closed behind her. “The others warned me about you.”


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: Lady Faraday’s Objection

It turned out the robots weren’t actually equipped to troubleshoot faulty programming in a human being. It was not a matter of simply opening a file, looking over the code, and editing broken logic. Humans didn’t work that way. The only way to interface with them was to explain the correct logic and hope they understood and would amend the errors in their programming themselves.

Nonetheless, after being made to observe the robots in their own world, Dr. Faraday had to acknowledge the evidence suggesting the robots did possess more emotional range than lobsters at least. Once she conceded that point, then she could admit that perhaps it was unethical to kidnap and enslave them.

The one point on which Dr. Faraday was adamant was that it was not wrong to force them to feel happy. On this matter, she simply would not concede.

The robots had made their terms clear however: a portal would be opened only once more and any parties who did not cross at that time would remain in their world thereafter. If Roger and James wanted to take Dr. Faraday home with them – and everyone agreed that it was in everyone’s best interest that they do – she would need to acknowledge the robots’ feelings about being reprogrammed in full.


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: Sinneslöschen, Pt. 7

September 5th, 1964

The fever had set in today, and Gemma oscillated back and forth between sweating like a pig and being chilled to the bone, but at least the headache finally seemed to plateau. It still cut a sharp, persistent throb in her sinuses and eyes, but served to distract from how cold Gemma felt. She kept her blanket pulled around her tightly, even as she left the bed to eat her breakfast, making herself into a puffy marshmallow shivering at her tea table.

After breakfast, Gemma sat herself on the bed with her back to the wall with the window into the next cell, bundled up in her blanket, and waited for Dr. Verloc. When he arrived, they shared the space, but neither spoke. He didn’t even announce himself or greet her today. He simply let himself in, leaned against the wall by the door, and favored her with a glance every so often. Gemma sincerely wondered what these visits were meant to accomplish. Verloc did not seem the least bit interested in her or her condition or how she was adjusting to the switch between Blackberry and Coconut.

“What are you actually doing in here?” Gemma asked finally, her voice weary. “I can’t imagine you’re finding out much just standing there.”

“I’m observing,” Verloc said tersely.

“Have you observed anything interesting yet?” Gemma asked, trying to put on some of her flirtatious charm but her tone faltered midway through and she came off snappy instead. She felt too sweaty and shivery to convince even herself that she was up to that approach in this condition.


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: The Politics of Dancing

“There’s been a change of plans,” Haworth said as he straightened his loose notes. “We’re meeting Miss Byng today, not the General.”

Verloc frowned. “Is he sending her instead as a message?” he asked.

“I don’t believe so. I think he’s just giving her more responsibility over the Executive Committee’s liaison with the labs so he can pull back on his,” Haworth surmised. “All us old guard are making our plans, aren’t we?” he said, regarding Verloc fondly. “Miss Byng is obviously his. She lives in the Village so she’s better positioned to keep more regular tabs on us than he is.”

“We might have already solved the supply problem if we didn’t have to take time out to give them progress reports so often,” Verloc complained.

“They’re under just as much pressure to deliver as we are,” Haworth said as he took a small flask from his jacket pocket. “We’re all on the same deadline.” Verloc eyed the flask reproachfully, but Haworth didn’t notice as he was too busy unscrewing the cap. He took a quick swig and screwed the cap back on, wincing at the bitterness before a look of inordinate delight sprung up on his face.

Just then, the intercom on his desk beeped and a woman’s voice said through the crackling static, “Miss Byng is here for your two o’clock appointment.”

Haworth stuffed the flask back into his pocket, pressed the button on the intercom, and said, “Right on time! Send her in, Dottie.”

“Make sure to smile,” he whispered hurriedly before the door opened. Verloc forced his own face into a too wide grin for the occasion.


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: Sinneslöschen, Pt. 6

September 4th, 1964

“How are you feeling, Harry?” Verloc broached from his established spot by the door.

“Like a caterpillar smoking hashish,” Haworth declared in a lazy drawl. He sat on the edge of his bed, at the foot so as to be far enough away that Verloc couldn’t inspect him too closely from his corner.

The morning after a Crash Day was a mixed bag. He ate well at breakfast so he wasn’t hungry or irritable as he had been the previous two days, but he always ended up doing something on Crash to earn a higher dosage of Coconut the next day. On an otherwise clear head, the increased dosage left him feeling loopy and not in as much control of himself. It was as though he were operating on a stream-of-consciousness auto-pilot, speaking without thinking through his words and relying on the feelings behind them to dictate how forthcoming he should be. While he couldn’t claim to be happy the way his own Joy formula had made him in the past, he was at least content on Coconut. If he’d incurred an injury as he had this time, though, Verloc would want to look it over.

“What?” Verloc said, troubled by the oddness of Haworth’s answer and chancing a step closer. Though Haworth had spoken so cryptically with the intent of worrying Verloc, the note of it in his voice put a point on the fact that there wasn’t anything actually keeping Verloc in the corner. Saying things that made him sound like he might be concussed would make Verloc want to come closer.


Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: Sinneslöschen, Pt. 5

September 4th, 1964

“Did you poison me?” Gemma asked. She hadn’t bothered getting out of bed for Verloc this time, feeling entirely too miserable to even bother, and instead just lolled her head to the right to stare in his direction.

“No,” Verloc said. He leaned against the wall next to the door, looking bored like he was merely biding his time in here. He hadn’t asked her any questions about how she was feeling, which Gemma found strange given the purpose of his visit, but not out of his character. “Blackberry withdrawal is difficult and unpleasant. Didn’t Sally tell you that?” He didn’t ask in a spiteful tone; he sounded as if he thought that wasn’t like her not to have been thorough in her warnings.

“She did, but she didn’t say death would be preferable.” The headache that started yesterday had only grown sharper and more insistent, and today it had been joined by the vague, itchy heat of an impending fever on her back. That morning’s dose of Coconut had added a generalized feeling of anxiety that she couldn’t put a cause to and was now working to ignore. “You have to have Crash here, don’t you? Wouldn’t it make more sense to test your Joy formula without the Blackberry interfering with it?”