Film Treatment: “Above Ground”
A man wakes up in a forest with no memory of how he got there or who he is. He is wearing a boiler suit with a random number on the sleeve. As it starts to rain, he walks around to find shelter and comes across a cave. He goes inside to wait for the rain to die down so he can go looking for help. He falls asleep and is soon awoken when a group of people wearing all black grab him, put a bag over his head, and throw him in a vehicle.
The vehicle stops, someone removes the bag and he finds himself standing in a presumably underground building that’s made of concrete. The same group of people that took him now drag him further into the compound while speaking a language he doesn’t understand. They drag him into a small room and sit him in a chair next to a woman wearing restraints. Soon, the door opens and a man in a black suit and tie walks in. He tells the amnesiac man that his name is David, and that he has caused a lot of trouble. The man in the suit gives David an injection in his neck and raises a gun to his head. Before he executes him, David has a flashback and remembers everything.
David wakes up in his small apartment, showers, and reports to work in the underground compound’s police office. He receives his duties for the day, which consist of monitoring people’s thoughts via a neural implant everyone is forced to get when they turn ten years old. In this compound, which is more of an underground village of sorts, a man who calls himself the President presides over everybody else. Having only one main entrance, people are forced to stay within the compound, and are told that the above world is toxic and hostile. They are forced to work long hours and punished for minor infractions. The president makes everyone receive the implant as a form of control and manipulation. People like David monitor their thoughts and memories, and report anybody thinking about escaping, rebelling, or not working.
This day, David is going through the thoughts of a young woman named Anna when he comes upon a memory of a homemade escape hatch that leads to above ground. Nobody has every successfully made it outside the compound, and based on the compound’s strict laws, this woman would surely be executed. Despite having a position of some power, David hated living in the compound. He makes a deal with Anna that if she takes him to her escape tunnel, he won’t report anything. She agrees and takes him to her apartment where she had dug through the roof up to ground level.
As he begins to hop up to the tunnel, Anna pulls out a gun and tells him that she was a plant by the president to lure him into a trap. Because there actually is a tunnel, David knew this was a lie and demanded the truth. She reluctantly agreed and told David how her memories had been discovered by a different monitor some weeks earlier. She had made a similar deal with that monitor and took him to the tunnel, but he changed his mind at the last minute and tried to arrest her. She killed him and managed to get the body above ground so nobody would find it.
Now that David and Anna established trust, they make their way up to the surface where David refuses directions to the nearest town in case a monitor finds memories of the woman giving David the instructions. Instead, he tells her to let all the regular people of the compound know about the tunnel so they too can escape. She returns underground to fulfill David’s wish.
Setting: Rural Town
The tunnel emerged into a field in the middle of nowhere. David sets off in search of a town or someplace to stay. After a couple miles he finds a road running alongside a stream, which he follows to a small town. He found the biggest building, which happened to be the inn, and entered. He approaches the bar while receiving suspicious looks from all the patrons in the lobby area. The innkeeper asks David where he came from and why he is dressed like he is. David, who forgot he was still wearing his compound work attire, complete with number ID on the sleeve, told him it was a costume and asked for a free room. The innkeeper quickly showed him to a room upstairs.
David is awoken from his sleep by a man wearing all black who is telling him that he has to leave right now. David says he isn’t leaving without an explanation, as it is night and he doesn’t know where he is. The man says that this town is part of the compound, and that everyone knows that he is responsible for all the recent escapes. Confused, David asks more questions. The man says there are more compounds out there like David’s that are all run by different presidents, but report to a central government. He also says that the town they are in is a sort of supply outpost and monitoring station for the compounds in the area. They have learned that David’s compound had a large number of residents escape recently, and arrested Anna to searched her memories. There is now a manhunt for David.
The man, who reveals himself to be a friendly guard who helped the people escape, hands David a pill that will deactivate the neural implant and wipe his memory to protect him from monitors. David leaves the town and heads for the mountains in the distance. Once he is far enough away for there to be no noise or light, he takes the pill and goes to sleep next to a tree.
Act one replays itself as David, having no memories because of the pill, wanders around looking for shelter. He is eventually picked up by guards and taken back to the compound. He’s led to the room, given the injection by the strange man, has a rush of memories flood into his head, and finally comes to with a gun in his face.’
David recognizes the man as the president and the woman as Anna. The president explains that because of David, the majority of the compound escaped through the tunnel after him. As a precaution, he had the remaining people rounded up and placed under the watch of armed guards. He explains that when David took the pill to deactivate the implant, it caused a small shortage that was picked up by the monitors, which led them to David’s location.
The president then offers David a deal. He says that if David helps him round up and capture all the escapees, everyone will live and David will only be imprisoned for the rest of his life. If he refuses, the president says he will kill everyone who didn’t escape, including Anna, and let David walk free. The president tells David that he has ten minutes to make a decision and walks out. David and Anna exchange glances and the film cuts to black.