Fiction  •  March 7, 2002

The Scanner - Treatment for B-movie

Characters:

David Ostergaard lives in a tenament apartment in the East Village, New York. He is in his late 20?s. He is a good-looking man and is highly intelligent with an engineering degree from Columbia University. He works there as a computer programmer. His father was a prominent scientist and, because of it, his family moved frequently. He has lived in London, Amsterdam, Paris, as well as several major cities in the US. He then moved to New York to go to Columbia. His apartment is minimally furnished; no computers or high-end electronics. He does not have much life outside of work. To most people, he gives off unapproachable air. He has no friends or love interests, but he does not particularly ooze loneliness. He seems to be preoccupied with his own thoughts most of the time.

He is to be treated like a cool villain. Cold, calculating, asexual, cynical, and shows no emotion. The motives for his actions are not so much about his own gain; rather he does everything for pure amusement. It is as if he doesn’t even care about his own life. Life is nothing more than a series of amusement for him. A perfect Hollywood actor would be James Spader.

Rebbecca Westfield lives in the same apartment building, three floors below David on the opposite side. She is young (early 20?s) and attractive (of course). She is a web designer working for a web design company in the Flatiron District. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, and was raised in a happy home. After high school, she decided to move to New York to study graphic design. She graduated about a year ago. She is very sociable and has a lot of friends.

Her character is to be portrayed as naive, innocent, and happy-go-lucky. Her mental health is an accidental product of not having had any serious trauma or hardship in her life. Part of the story is to show how someone like her can easily fall apart if she is faced with a real trauma. However, she is not to be depicted as a dumb blonde. She is quite intelligent and has her heart in the right place.

Kevin Delmonte is Rebbecca’s boyfriend. He is also from Philadelphia, but they met in New York through their mutual friend. He is around David’s age, tall, and good looking, but in a very ordinary way. He studied architecture at NYU, and now works for a small architectural firm near NYU. He, like Rebbecca, comes from a happy home. He too is very sociable and likable, with lots of friends and connections. He also lives in the East Village but about 10 blocks away from Rebbecca.

His personality is very much like that of Rebbecca. A decent man who grew up without much difficulties in his life.

The Plot:

One day at work, David finds a radio scanner. He plays with it for a little while and by accident he comes across a cordless phone conversation. He gets fascinated by it and takes it home. He then quickly figures out all possible frequencies for cordless phones, and he programs them into the scanner. His methodical way of figuring out the frequencies should be given a substantial focus with a sense of suspense and excitement. Night after night, he listens to his scanner. He soon discovers that people give out all sorts of private information over the cordless phones: their names, addresses, phone number (food delivery), email address, mother’s maiden names, social security number, account number, credit card number, expiration date (from dealing with banks and credit card companies), their personal identification numbers are typed in with a touch tone phone which can be decoded by recording it and playing it back to a phone that has a digital readouts, their voice mail account numbers and passwords, etc..

One night he catches Rebbecca on the scanner talking to her boyfriend. This fascinates David. He starts taking notes: her name, frequency, job, name of her boyfriend, etc.. This continues on for weeks. Eventually he has pretty much everything there is to know about Rebbecca. He now knows which apartment she lives in. She lives on the second floor of the same building; apartment 2B. One day, as he was walking out of the building to go to work, he saw the door to apartment 2B open. He meets Rebbecca for the first time. David is not shy. He looks right into her eyes and says “Good morning.” She smiles and says the same without any suspicion or awkwardness. In the next few months, he strikes up a conversation every time he sees her. He talks simply like a good neighbor, and shows no ulterior motives in his expressions.

One Sunday afternoon, Kevin calls Rebbecca asking her to borrow a drill. He can’t come pick it up until around 7PM. She has to leave around 5PM to go meet a friend of hers uptown. So, she decides to leave a copy of her key behind the picture which is hanging in the hallway. She tells him to take the key with him after he takes the drill. They figured it would be safe, if the key is there only for a few hours. David takes this opportunity to take the key, make a copy, and to put it right back to where it was. Both Rebbecca and Kevin suspect nothing.

One weekend, one of Rebbecca’s friends invites them to her summerhouse on Fire Island. David finds out exactly when they are leaving and coming back. He goes down to Canal Street to buy all sorts of electronic gadgets. He constructs a wireless video camera with a mic. On Saturday, he goes into Rebbecca’s apartment. Knowing for sure that she won’t be back until Sunday night, he takes his sweet time to install the camera in her bedroom. He takes off the ceiling light, mounts the camera above the ceiling panel, pokes a small hole, taps into the electrical cable of the ceiling light (so camera comes on only when the ceiling light is on), puts the light back in place, and with the receiver he makes sure that the video signal is clean. He goes back home and hooks up the receiver to his TV. Since it is wireless, even if Rebbecca finds the camera, she would not be able to figure out who installed it or who was watching it.

A few weeks later, David is watching Rebbecca and Kevin on TV. They are being playful. Kevin takes out a camera from his bag, and starts taking pictures of Rebbecca. He signals her to take her clothes off. She gradually strips naked. Then Kevin takes his clothes off. She takes the camera away from him and snaps a picture of Kevin trying to jump on the bed. They eventually have sex, and afterwards she makes him promise that he would never show the pictures to anyone. Kevin swears to God that he would never do that.

Several days later, Kevin visits her again. David is watching them on TV. Kevin takes out several pictures from his bag. He says, “Here, these are your copies. I got double prints.” She says, “I don’t know if I want naked pictures of myself.” She looks at the pictures and giggles. She decides to hide them in her file cabinet. She asks where the negatives were. He told her that they were at home. She makes him promise again not to show them to anyone.

Several weeks later, they were invited to Fire Island again. David takes this opportunity to sneak into her apartment again. He takes the stack of nude photos from the file cabinet, and takes them to his work where he scans all the pictures. He then adds a line of text to every picture that says, “My lovely Rebbecca.” Then he uploads the pictures to various news groups on the Internet. He goes back to Rebbecca’s apartment and returns the pictures to the file cabinet.

About a week later, at work, Rebbecca receives an email from a friend of hers. Attached to the email was one of the pictures. The email says, “Rebbecca, I hope you are aware of the fact that these pictures are all over the Internet. If you are, then it’s no big deal (I’m just being nosy), but if you are not, then you may have a problem here.” Rebbecca turns pale. She quickly closes the email, look around to see that no one saw it, and runs out of the office. From outside, she calls Kevin on her cell phone, accusing him of lying and betraying. She is crying profusely. Kevin denies the accusation and tells her that maybe it was done by the people who processed the film. But Rebbecca tells him that if it were so, how would they know that her name is Rebbecca? Kevin has no answer.

In the next few weeks, Kevin tries to remedy the situation, but with no success. Rebbecca tells him that it’s over, and that she never wants to see him again. Kevin in the end becomes furious at her. One day, at work, she receives an email from one of her male co-workers with the picture attached. The email says, “Is this you, Rebbecca?” She then noticed that a lot of people at work were looking at her funny. A few days later, she decides to quit her job.

She decides to get a job at a relatively small print design company, hoping that they won’t be so Internet savvy to find the pictures. David, from the scanner, finds out the name of the company, and from that, he finds the email address. He sends the pictures to the general email address of the company. The owner of the company calls her into his office and shows her what he received. She runs out of the office crying. She suspects that it is Kevin who sent the email. She then remembered that she took one picture of Kevin on the same night. She takes out the stack of pictures, scans it, adds his full name, address, and phone number to the picture, and prints a whole bunch of them. She sends copies to his work. She goes out pasting the pictures everywhere on the street, especially around where Kevin lives.

A few days later Kevin is standing around near her apartment building waiting for her to come home or come out. He eventually finds Rebbecca and drags her by the neck, and says, “You evil, stupid bitch! What the hell you think you’re doing?” She spits in his face. He gets furious and punches her in the face. She starts crying and Kevin runs away. She runs home and takes out a knife. Then she runs to Kevin’s apartment. Via the intercom, she says, “Kevin, this is not right. We have to stop this. Let’s talk about it.” He lets her in to the apartment. As soon as she is in, she takes out the knife and stabs him in the stomach. He falls on the floor. She keeps stabbing. Eventually she realizes what she has done. She drops the knife and runs home. On the way home, she tries not to be seen by anyone. Her hands and clothes are drenched with blood. She finally makes back to her apartment building, when she was trying to open her door, someone suddenly taps on her back. She turns around in fright. She sees David. He looks at her up and down and asks, “What happened?” She looks at herself and the blood drips on the floor and the stairs. She starts crying and collapses on the floor.

A few days later, another neighbor of David stops him outside of the apartment building. She is another attractive young girl. She asks him, “So, what happened with the girl in 2B? I heard that you found her drenched in blood.” David replies, “I don’t really know. The police didn’t tell me anything.” He continues, “By the way, my name is David, what’s yours?”