Goodbye Nightflower: The Shining City

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Haphway There | UnHuman Hub | Yeren Back Again (Coming Soon!) ➢

SCENE: The Shining City

1 B-Roll: Shots of the wasteland, vast and empty. You can practically feel the heat radiating off of the footage. Two small creatures get in a fight over food. V.O.: The Wasteland is thought to be inhospitable. Desolate. Barren. Lifeless. A place where only the toughest can survive.
2 B-Roll: Time passes and the oppressive sun sets, giving way to a beautiful skyline with twinkling stars and a glorious moon. V.O.: But this is a false perception. The wasteland is beautiful and forgiving. And it is far from empty.
3 B-Roll: The camera makes its way to the top of a hill, where the world itself seems to open up to the glory of Haphway. The camera cuts quickly between shots of interviews of the Haphway residents (Candela, Lily, Gradius, etc.) and incidental shots of Haphway: Candela leading Mio down the street, various residents have a picnic in the town square, Lily tends to her garden, a mech walks past a hybrid building. Music: Bold, exciting, and friendly music plays.
4 Interview: Candela talks in a cozy room in her home Candela: I think of Haphway as the oasis of the wasteland.
5 B-Roll: Candela walks around Haphway, greeting citizens of all kinds along the way. The citizens greet her back with some familiarity, often smiling at her appearance. Candela: It was created and maintained as a haven for all kinds of life, and as its custodian I've done my best to uphold that legacy. Everyone is welcome here, and we don't have a high tolerance for… well, intolerance.
6 B-Roll: Time passes at the edge of town, where a distant sign seems to read "Welcome to Haphway." V.O.: Haphway is the first settlement we came across in our journey. Haphway is built on the foundations of towns from the old world, often literally, but looks towards improving the lives of the people that live in it now under the leadership of its custodian.
7 Candela Interview Candela: You'd be forgiven for thinking that being the town's custodian is being its leader. And it's not that that's an inaccurate description so much as it goes well beyond that, and it's a duty I take very seriously.
8 B-Roll: Candela has a discussion with a lich, nodding thoughtfully as they talk, she watches over a game and makes calls on it, she sits in her office, looking for the right paper. Candela: Being the custodian of Haphway is about maintaining harmony. It's resolving disputes, it's maintaining the town physically, socially, and spiritually, it's knowing every single individual not just by name but by their desires, and working to see Haphway can meet those desires. Custodians are chosen democratically and, historically, by consensus. Any resident of Haphway can be a custodian, so long as the rest of the town agrees they would be best for the job. The last custodian was my mother, so it's kind of a big point of family honor for me.
9 Candela Interview Mio (O.S.): So you basically inherited the position?
Candela: I mean, I was democratically elected like my mother before me. And I'm honored the citizens believe I've maintained the city as well as my mother.
Mio (O.S.): But is it what you want to do?
Candela: …Haphway is where I'm safe. And I'm here, I need to try and make it safe for others. Otherwise… Otherwise I think I'd be doing something wrong.
10 B-Roll: Focus on the welcome sign. It now clearly reads "Welcome to Haphway. When you're halfway home, Haphway is home." Candela: I'm just trying my best to make Haphway the best home for everyone.

Town Hall Footage Transcription

A handheld shot; many people sit in a large room facing one direction. At the front of the room, CANDELA holds a sheet of paper, discussing its contents with the room.

Candela: …Now onto the next order of business. Unauthorized graffiti was found on the side of a building on Spirit Way, just off Oak Hill road. The building in question is under the jurisdiction of Belos de Beelz and the tenants within, but de Beelz et al wished to bring it up at the town hall for reasons he will explain. Belos?

[A tall man stands up, turning occasionally as he talks to address the room.]

Belos: Thank you, Candela. Now, as most of you know, unauthorized graffiti is dealt with by the whoever has jurisdiction over the building, going to town hall only if no custodian or tenant is available for comment. As long as I’ve lived in Haphway, I’ve kept the building on Spirit and Oak Hill free of graffiti, with the blessing of the other tenants. But today’s graffiti was something else. And we felt we should bring it to the rest of town before speaking for all of you.

Candela: The graffiti in question takes the form of a short essay, written in blue paint in a slightly messy script. It appears to be written in English, but seems to be able to be read by all regardless of translator status. The graffiti reads:

In the past, my past life, I considered myself an artist. I fell in love with art at a young age and soon sought to create it in any way I could. I thrived on this title, the prestige, the superiority I felt it gave me. I was an artist. That was all I needed to be. My art was challenging, provocative, it was meant to create an impression, to make people react. I always loved transgressing, surprising people by going where they assumed I would not. My art was not new, nor revolutionary, but the public that viewed my work generally did not know this. Of course my colleagues knew, but their art was the same: derivative, shocking, and affecting a greater importance than they ought to have. I was riding high, the toast of my shows. I thought it would never end.

And then the unthinkable happened.

Suddenly seemingly alone, I did the only thing I knew how to do: make art. But without an audience it felt hollow and off-kilter. It felt wrong. It became manic, a primal scream emanating from the depths of myself, but with no one around to hear it, it felt pointless. So I gave up. I became a scavenger and mourned the death of an artist that hadn’t truly left. I wasn’t dead, and neither was the world. It’s just that my priorities had shifted, as had the world around me.

And then a second unthinkable thing happened: I stumbled upon this place, this shining city, Haphway. And I fell in love with it, in a way I’d never fallen in love with anything else except for art. And I wondered how two completely different things could move me in the same way. And it took me some time to realize: Haphway is art. I’d always assumed art was transgressive based on my experience with it, I’d never been able to see how art can be harmonious. The city, the world around it, and the people living in it make art better than anything I made daily, often without realizing. Haphway puts the art I did to shame.

I wasn’t "cool yet", I was never going to be cool, because I’d build my art on a broken foundation without second thoughts. If my knife breaks skin for a reaction, the blood won’t dry simply because others have stopped watching, it doesn’t matter if the blade was pointed away or back at myself. My art was built on a wound, infected, festering, and bleeding out while bystanders looked on with mild disdain. I thought this was art; Haphway assumes different. If there is a wound, Haphway seeks to heal it before anything more takes place. And sometimes art is built on top, but the scar is still there, a reminder of past trauma but also of the effects of kindness. But the additional art is not the point, because Haphway does not care if others are watching. Because kindness is art; caring for others is art; hospitality is art, and it is an art greater and more beautiful than anything I made, and I dare say Haphway’s form of art is more important than any art made before the calamity. And it has inspired me again.

Thank you, Haphway.

It ends there.

Belos: My residents and I are torn. Some of us really do want to keep it up, but the text is long and rather wordy, and we understand if other feel it would distract from the property. Therefore we would like to put it to a vote.

Candela: The proposition: keep the graffiti on the building at Spirit and Oak Hill in its current form until further notice. Discussion may begin now.

[A large spider-creature begins speaking]

Identified by Candela as
Dominic Arania: I find this piece compelling, but there seems to be a fundamental mismatch between the message regarding transgression and the method by which this piece was shared with Haphway.

Lily: I think the mismatch is intentional. A sort of jab and final farewell to the artists past life. Despite the artist’s seemingly newfound disdain for transgression in art, art is often transgressive; it’s only when building on the assumption that art is inherently transgressive that I believe there starts to be a problem.

[A man who appears to be missing a hand stands up.]

Blanier: There’s something deeply moving about this piece. I think I’d be lying if I said it didn’t resonate with me, and I suspect I’d be lying if I said I thought others felt no resonance.

[The camera shakes as it turns to a woman with cybernetic enhancements]

PrischA: But is it a sentiment worth displaying for all? What will visitors to the town think?

Reynix (Offscreen): Why should we base our decisions around what outsiders might think of this? Haphway is our home.

PrischA: But isn’t the goal of Haphway to make everyone feel at home, even visitors? Shouldn’t we put our best face forward to outsiders, so to speak.

Lily: In that case, I’d like to hear the thoughts of the outsiders. Nitro, Sebastian, Mio, Gabi?

Mio (O.S.): Oh, I shouldn’t— I mean, I’m just… here.

Gabriella (O.S.): It affected me. Deeply. It made me understand the inner world of a conflicted individual in a way I’ve never been able to do before.

Sebastian: Agreed. I felt seen, but also like I had seen its creator.

Nitro: …It… it hits pretty hard.

Candela: Mio?

Mio (O.S.): …If you’re asking my opinion, keep it up.

Candela: Thank you for your candor. Now, unless anybody else has a comment, let’s vote. As a reminder, the proposal is to leave the graffiti unchanged. All in favor? …Right, and all opposed? Okay. By unanimous vote, the graffiti on the building on Spirit and Oak Tree will remain unchanged indefinitely.

[Footage Ends]

Sebastian Interview Transcription

The shot is a stable shot of SEBASTIAN sitting inside Candela's house. The room is full of natural light, making the room feel wide open even as Sebastian's giant form seems to barely fit. The interior is decorated with a combination of materials; there's some brickwork that seems to be quite old, but most of the side seems to be made with hardwood, but the unique combination feels both classic and modern. Okay, enough editorializing, we get it, you like architecture. Let's just transcribe this.

Mio (O.S.): So, Sebastian, have you been to Haphway before?

Sebastian: Yes! I mean it's been some time, admittedly, but I've always enjoyed this town.

Mio (O.S.): And how much do you know about the town?

Sebastian: Well, not as much as Nitro. But I've learned a lot about the town if I can remember it.

Mio (O.S.): You met the previous custodian, right? [Ey nod.] What was she like?

Sebastian: How to explain María… she was good at reading people, good at knowing just what to say, and she often used this to her advantage.

Mio (O.S.): So she was manipulative.

Sebastian: I wouldn't say that, with the connotations it's— María was good at getting what she wanted, and what she wanted was the betterment of Haphway and it's citizens. I'm not sure she ever once thought of herself. Her name is… her name should remain untarnished. It's a good name.

Mio (O.S.): Literally or metaphorically?

Sebastian: Both. I've been thinking about names recently, with the explanation of Nitro's name. Like my own. Why Sebastian?

Gabriella (O.S.): Well, it comes from a film. There's a crab in it named Sebastian that seeing you just kinda made me think of.

Sebastian: Interesting. Like, you had parents that gave you names, right? Do you know why they named you the way they did?

Gabriella (O.S.): Well in my case, they didn't. When I was born I was named something else.

Sebastian: Fascinating! Did you have to change it so others could pronounce it too?

Mio(O.S.): Nah, just didn't suit her.

Gabriella: Once I realized I was a girl my name just didn't seem right.

Sebastian: I mean, Gabriella really suits you. How'd you come up with it?

Gabriella: You know, it just came to me.

[Nitro passes through the frame for a moment, on his way to a different room.]

Nitro: Knowing you, I would've expected it to come from a movie.

Gabriella (O.S.): You're not part of this interview!

Mio (O.S.): It did.

Gabriella (O.S.): Et tu, Mio?

Sebastian: So we're both named from films. Does your name come from the same film as mine?

Gabriella (O.S.): No. You know, I don't really remember what movie Gabriella is from.

Mio (O.S.): It was from a campy teen musical.

Gabriella (O.S.): High School Musical is high art and you know it.

Mio (O.S.): Aside from the obvious, what interests you about names?

Sebastian: I'm not fully sure. Something about the way we represent ourselves to others. A name is how people refer to you in conversation. I just got used to not having one for so long. It's just… nice to be recognized. I guess.

Mio (O.S.): Why didn't Nitro ever give you one? Seems like he should've cared enough to do that.

Sebastian: He cares about me. He does. [Ey lower eir voice] Okay, he'd probably never admit this, but he's tried for years to learn my real name. And it's never worked.

Mio (O.S.): Really?

Sebastian: Yeah. I think it might be physically impossible for humans to say. I think with Nitro it was— well, okay, it was partially pride, trying to say my name right. But it was also a big deal about respect.

Mio (O.S.): How? Isn't not referring to you by name for years incredibly disrespectful?

Sebastian: I don't think that's how he sees it. I think he sees using anything less than my real name as disrespectful. That's why he never gave up trying. That's why he's hesitant to call me Sebastian.

Gabriella (O.S.): Be honest… do you like the name Sebastian for yourself?

Sebastian: Absolutely! I love it! It's nice to be referenced and honestly I'm not sure I could've chosen a better human name myself. Nitro is just hesitant to change.

Mio (O.S.): Maybe he'd be more open to the change if you told him you wanted him to call you that.

Sebastian …maybe.

[Footage ends].

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