Below is the original feature film treatment I have written for The Ocean. This treatment was derived from copious notes and scribblings as well as a detailed point form version completed in March 2011. The treatment differs somewhat from the screenplay in that I had to stretch the story out to feature-length and remove dialogue or concepts that I believed to compromise the overall narrative.
Please be advised that this work is held under copyright. For more information about The Ocean, click here.
READ: THE OCEAN SHOOTING SCRIPT (THIRD DRAFT)
VIEW: THE OCEAN STORYBOARDS
WATCH: THE OCEAN FEATURE-LENGTH ANIMATIC
© 2013 by Andrew Dunlop, 1984.
A Feature Film Treatment
By Andrew Dunlop
© March 16 2013
At first only waves can be heard, crashing loudly against the vinyl sides of the life raft. One, after another, and another. The sound conveys a feeling of serenity and tranquility, until:
“Just stay the fuck away from me, Carter.” a harsh, tired voice cuts in, louder than the sounds of the crashing waves. “You got that?” Bowman appends to his demand. Bowman, a ragged-looking man in a dreadful physical condition, holds his trembling arm outstretched. At the end, in his thin hand, he wields a small knife, pointing right at the other passenger. Bowman can barely look straight at his companion: The glare from the water blinds him and the sun cooks his already burnt and bloodied skin. His breaths are short and steady, but barely there. Blood stains most of Bowman’s tattered naval attire. His left arm is clutching his right side, just under his ribs, where most of the blood appears to be emanating from. Bowman maintains this posture as the boat rises and dips with the waves. He smells like death; his flesh is beginning to putrefy.
Sitting comfortably across from Bowman in the raft is Carter, who appears less unkempt. Carter is also wearing a naval uniform, though stained with less blood. His stature is firm, suggesting he is not physically suffering in any way. The glare from the sun and the rising and dipping of the raft do not faze him: He has an arrogant demeanor, implying some sort of control over the situation, including the fate of Bowman. Carter stares wildly at him; hungrily scanning Bowman’s blood flow: Down the arm to the elbow, slowly, drip, drip, dripping onto the floor of the raft. Carter’s gaze returns to meet Bowman’s eyes as the stalemate continues. Tucked next to Carter’s leg, in a strategically sound position, is a canteen.
“Stop staring at me like that.” Bowman orders.
“Like that. Stop staring at me like that. Just…stop.” Bowman struggles with his words and his breath.
“Stop sitting in my field of view.” Carter counters as he leans forward to flash his menacing grin. Bowman shudders in terror, knowing full well what the grin means and how deep down it comes from the darkest parts of a desperate man’s psyche. “I just want to enjoy the scenery.”
“…Fuck you. You’ll enjoy the scenery in hell.”
“Is that so, Bowman?” Carter laughs. “Then at least I have something to look forward to!”
“Just don’t you dare try to touch me.” Bowman says.
“Or what? You’ll kill me? You don’t even have enough strength to hold up that fucking switchblade; your threats are worthless.” Carter looks around at the surrounding sea: The same waves rise and fall on all sides. He screws the lid off the canteen and takes two quick sips of water. “This is the last of it,” Carter screws the lid back on, “you know? I understand how painful dehydration is: The head aches, the blood thickens, the ability to maintain control of ones’ faculties, is gone.”
“Don’t you talk to me about controlling one’s faculties. You really think you had control over yours?” Bowman questions.
“And I still do: If I didn’t, you wouldn’t be here, sitting like that, threatening me with a knife.” Carter advocates, “See, I’m cold and calculating. I already know we’re not going to make it. But I’m counting on you to die first.” This remark leaves Bowman frustrating and shaking his head.
“Not a chance. I’ll throw myself to the sea before I’ll let you sink your teeth in me.” Bowman counters Carter’s claim. Carter’s face turns stone-cold.
“Bowman, I don’t think you fully understand the situation.” Carter directs his gaze at Bowman’s wound. “I know about your injury. You’re practically marinating in your own blood. How long do you really think you’ll last? Two days? One day? A few more hours?” Bowman winces. “I’m not stupid. I know you’re not either. And I’m quite sure we’re both aware you’re dying.”
“Yes, Bowman,” Carter smiles, “you’re going to die. You’re losing too much blood. You’re becoming more infected—”
“Shut up!” Bowman screams.
“Your wound will become infected without proper treatment. And when you die, you’ll be too toxic to do anything with.”
“If that’s what it takes to keep you away…”
“Or, you could give up now: Save both of our lives.” Carter’s eyes glow with a perverted excitement. “We both don’t have to die, you know.”
“The idea of you being the one who survives, sickens me.”
“Why? I could tell everyone what a hero you were: How you saved a half-dozen men from certain death, how you, ordered them, one by one, to sacrifice themselves for the rest of us.”
“Don’t you dare pin this on me!” Bowman exclaims with exhaustion. The sun continues to cook the two stranded men. “Don’t you dare act like this was my idea.”
“You did nothing to stop it, in a roundabout way, this makes you an accomplice.”
“No…” Bowman shakes his head in denial.
“Yes, absolutely yes, and that’s what the world will hear once you die and once I make it out of here alive.” Carter sits back against the side of the raft, his eyes glowing and his grin spread sharply across his face.
“You’re a monster.”
“No,” Carter stares straight at Bowman, “I’m a survivalist. I will do whatever it takes to survive. Just like you.”
“You’re wrong. I’m nothing like you.”
“You’re half correct: You’re dying; I am not.”
“More than that Carter, I would never eat someone just so I could live an extra few days.” Carter stares up at Bowman with a hesitant gaze.
“And there it is,” Carter looks shameful, “always back to the eating.”
“You’re fucking sick.”
“I tried to share.”
Bowman glares back at Carter with a look of disgust. “I would never, ever eat the flesh of another person.”
“You didn’t seem to have trouble watching me.” Carter says.
“I saw that look in your eyes,” Carter’s voice drops to an ominous whisper, “you enjoyed it.”
“Go to hell you son of a bitch.”
“Too shy to ask for a piece for yourself!” Carter breaks out into a laugh.
“I swear to God, if you don’t shut up—!” Bowman screams in pain as his anger becomes more animated and his muscles stretch beneath his chest wound. He closes his eyes and his arm wielding the knife weakens and lowers. More blood pools under him. Carter leans more forward than he has before, possibly in an attempt to attack Bowman.
“Get back!” Bowman barks, quickly raising the knife. Carter laughs and sits back down against the side of the raft.
“How many more times do you think we can do this little dance of ours?” Carter asks a suffering Bowman.
“As many times as it takes you to understand that there’s no chance in hell you’re getting any piece of me.” Bowman gasps repeatedly.
“What’s wrong?” Carter asks.
“I need water.” Bowman exhaustingly replies. “Carter, can I have some water?” Carter grins mischievously.
“Of course.” Carter says as he holds the canteen out across the raft. Bowman extends his left arm, the one being used to protect his wound just as Carter withdraws the water. “First, give me the knife.”
“Please, I need water.”
“I’ll give you all the water you want. But first, you must give me the knife.” Bowman shakes his head at Carter’s offer.
“I can’t give you the knife.”
“Then I cannot give you any water.” Carter says as he puts the canteen back behind his legs. Bowman’s posture sags with defeat.
“Goddamn you, Carter.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll be damned.”
“What do you have to lose by giving me water?” Bowman asks.
“It’s not a question of what I have to lose but what I have to gain.” Carter explains, “If I give you water for nothing, how does that help me?” Bowman shakes his head, unable to answer Carter’s query. “Exactly, it doesn’t. I have nothing to gain by helping you.”
“You want to see me suffer?” Bowman questions.
“Yes. I sort of enjoy it.” Carter replies.
“You want me dead…”
“No. You’re fresher if you’re alive. I just want to get you to a point where you can’t stop me from doing what I very much want to do with you.” Carter flashes an evil grin.
“I won’t let you eat me.” Bowman sternly states.
“We’ll see.” Carter grins once more, staring Bowman squarely in the eyes. Carter’s gaze is unwavering and unnerving, asserting his dominance in the standoff. The uncomfortable situation forces Bowman to continually break eye contact.
The waves of the ocean carry the raft across the great expanse of blue water like a lonely star in the sky. Not a square foot of land rests in any visible direction. The sun beams down relentlessly on the two men struggling to survive; there are no clouds to offer reprieve and little wind to cool their sunburnt skins.
Bowman is slumped over with half of his body against the side of the raft, and the knife still firm in his grip. Carter has been staring down at the floor of the raft between his legs to relieve his eyes of the bright glare from the surrounding water.
“So Bowman,” Carter starts, “is there any special lady waiting for you back home?” Bowman comes to life contemplating Carter’s question.
“What do you mean?” Bowman asks.
“Do you fuck girls? Or wish you did?”
“Oh.” Bowman gasps to articulate his response: “I don’t have a lady waiting for me back home.”
“Are you a fag then?”
“No.” Bowman replies. “And you?” Carter pushes his lips tightly together and shakes his head.
“Not really my thing.”
“No, I mean, do you have someone waiting for you at home?” Bowman elaborates. Carter takes some time to think of how to respond.
“I have a girl,” He says, “but I don’t think she’ll be waiting for me.”
“Because of the things you’ve done?” Bowman asks.
“Because it’s been twenty days, Bowman. Twenty.” Carter lets out a laugh. “Twenty days and not even a single plane has flown overhead. Do you really think someone is going to save us?”
“I’m not ready to give up.”
“Well maybe you ought to. You know as well as I do; 72 hours or bust.” Carter leans forward to emphasize his next remark. “And you may not feel it, but we’re already dead.” Bowman’s expression slumps with despair.
“I won’t stop trying to live.” Bowman adds.
“You won’t outlive me.” Carter retorts. “It’s just a matter of time.” He looks past Bowman out across the horizon. Waves ripple away and toward them at the same pace. “Did you know them well?”
“Who?” Bowman inquires.
“Stevens? Ishkara? That quiet one?”
“Ishkara; never met him before. I served with Stevens twice already.” Bowman replies.
“Who was the other one?” Carter asks.
“The quiet one?” Bowman asks in response.
“Manley.” Bowman takes a moment to reflect. “His name was Manley. I only knew of him from the manifest. I never saw him before…before…”
“Before I ate him?” Carter says with a malicious smile.
“Before we sank.” Bowman sternly replies.
“Do you honestly believe me to be some kind of monster?” Carter asks Bowman, who is bewildered by the question.
“I’ve never known a man to not only lose control of his sanity so quickly, but to enjoy the process at the same time.”
“You think I’m insane?” Carter laughs.
“I think…there’s something wrong with you.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just a man, trying to survive, at any cost.”
“And what makes your life more precious than mine?” Bowman quips.
“On a large enough scale, absolutely nothing. But immediately, you’re close to death and I’ve got a fighting chance.”
“I could get better.”
“I remember when I was young,” Bowman starts, “I was bullied by this boy from school, Isaiah, I think his name was. Mean little shit; broke my arm once and he didn’t even get kicked out of school. I was the one deemed the troublemaker, had to relocate to an all-boys academy.”
“And what would you say to Isaiah, if he were here right now?” Carter asks, slightly feigning interest.
“…Sorry.” Bowman replies, thinking about the hypothetical situation.
“Sorry? That doesn’t sound like something you’d say to a bully. What would you do to Isaiah if he was here, now?”
“Feed him to you.” Bowman chuckles and Carter lets out a boisterous laugh. “After I was forced to relocate to another school, I didn’t fit in well. I never fit in no matter where I was, but this new school just brought me to a much darker place. I was alone, scared and becoming violent. And it was all because of that little shit.” Bowman, in his perpetual weakened state, has to catch his breath. “I ended up spending six months in juvie because of what I did.” Carter looks at him squarely.
“Did you break his arm, too?”
“I attacked him with a baseball bat as he was walking home one day. Like I said, I was in a dark place.” Bowman looks down. “So if he was here right now I’d say sorry, not because I feel guilty for what I did, but because I feel bad for what he had to endure from that moment on; how the other children bullied him for his disability.”
“I think I like this Bowman.” Carter states with a sly grin.
“That’s the don’t fuck with me Bowman.” Carter laughs at Bowman’s remark.
“So you regret your actions?” Carter asks.
“I do.” Bowman replies. “And what about you, Carter? What sort of regrets do you have?”
“I have no regrets.”
“Bullshit. Not one?”
“Not one.” Carter answers. Bowman shakes his head in disbelief. Carter adds, “What’s the point of dwelling on something negative?”
“Consequences shape who you are; who you’ll become.”
“Wrong: Consequences only paint you into a corner; in order to survive in this world you need to be constantly thinking several moves ahead of all your opponents and adversaries.”
“Is that what you do?” A frustrated Bowman asks.
“That’s what I’m doing right now.”
“Tell me, Carter, why do you want to know so much about me?”
“I just want to know where my food is coming from.” Carter grins mischievously. He and Bowman glare at each other as the standoff continues.
As the sun sets, a deep orange glow is cast over the endless horizon of the ocean, and onto the lone raft, delicately floating upon the surface. As the sun sets, Bowman and Carter realize that they are not only at the mercy of each other but at the mercy of the unforgiving sea.
Bowman wakes suddenly: His muscles tense and he eagerly raises the knife towards Carter. He had fallen asleep in a ready position. Bowman wipes saliva off of his face and straightens his posture. Carter lets out a short, animated laugh. Bowman catches his breath as he stares at the silhouette of Carter sitting comfortably against the orange-colored sky of the setting sun.
“Don’t worry,” Carter starts, “I’m on first watch.” He adds, in his own twisted humor. “You were sleeping like a baby.” Carter smiles as Bowman tightens his grip on the knife. Bowman then takes a deep breath: He knows he cannot let his guard down like that again.
The following day, the sun is again out in full force, cooking the two survivors alive. Carter is slightly standing, urinating over the edge of the raft into the water. Bowman is staring at him, wondering if he can push Carter over the edge. Carter’s balance wanes as he is urinating, tempting Bowman even more. He tries to move closer to Carter, however it seems that he lacks the strength and motility it will take to push Carter over the edge. Bowman winces in pain. Carter finishes urinating and drops back down into a sitting position.
“How’s the pain?” Carter asks.
“Everything hurts.” Bowman replies in agony.
“That’s because you’re dehydrated.”
“Why won’t you give me water?”
“Because if I gave you water,” Carter begins, “you’d live longer, and that’s not what I want.”
“What do you want?” Bowman asks.
“I want the knife.”
“I told you: I can’t give it to you.”
“Then I want to break your mind until you can.” Carter states. Bowman exhales with a deep sigh.
“There is no chance you’ll get it. I’d rather die first.”
“Which you will, soon.” Carter says.
“But until then,” Bowman says, “you’re getting nothing.”
“Okay, Bowman, I can see you’re unwilling to part with your little knife; perhaps there’s something else you can part with which I want.” Carter grins, “Which I, desperately want; much like the water, which you desperately want.”
“I have nothing to offer you.” A confused Bowman states.
“You have much to offer me: What I’m trying to get from you is but a small piece of what you have.” Carter says.
“What are you talking about..?” Asks Bowman.
“I want you to cut off a piece of your skin,” Carter explains, “and give it to me. And in exchange, I will give you some water.” Bowman begins to shake his head in anger at Carter’s sadistic offer.
“No way. Not a fucking chance.”
“Bowman, please, it’s a win-win situation: You get water, I get food, and you get to hold onto your precious knife.”
“You’re fucking sick, Carter. Do you know that? Do you have any idea how fucking sick you are?”
“Now you’re upset because it affects you. I think this is a good deal. We both get what we desperately want. Our entire way of life is based on wants and needs. I want your flesh. You need water.” Carter says as he leans closer to the middle of the raft, closer to Bowman.
“Don’t you dare come onto this side,” Bowman states as he raises the knife in an overhand position, “if you do, so help me God I will stab you to death.” Carter leans back against the side of the raft.
“I’m giving you a chance here. You may have the knife but I’ve got the strength and I can take you out in a heartbeat. Think about it, Bowman.” Carter says.
“How do I know you’ll keep your end of the deal?” Bowman asks Carter as his posture sinks.
“You don’t I guess,” Carter replies, “but I’ve got nothing to lose in the meantime if you refuse my offer. You, on the other hand, will die of thirst. An excruciating death, as I understand it.” Bowman shakes his head in disbelief.
“You can’t do this to me.” Bowman grumbles.
“Oh but I can; and I am.” Carter replies in a sinister tone.
“Please,” Bowman insists, “I’m begging you for help.”
“I’m not interested in helping you. Look where we are, Bowman!” Carter throws his arms wide open to illustrate his words. “We’re in the middle of the fucking ocean! And you’re pleading to me for help? I’m in no position to offer it and I have no desire to grant it. This whole time I have been looking out for one person and one person only: Me! So what the fuck makes you think that I am suddenly going to give a shit about your need to keep on living?” Bowman looks down in defeat; he has no counter argument to Carter’s stance or opinion.
“I can’t…” Bowman says.
“Yes you can,” Carter begins to entice him, “all you have to do is drag that knife along your arm, then just, push it a bit deeper…” Bowman grunts as he raises the blade to his left forearm.
“I can’t…” Carter pours water into the lid of the canteen and slowly reaches across the raft to pass it to Bowman. He drops the knife and cautiously takes the water from Carter; Bowman feverishly drinks the water from the cap until the last drop is consumed. He exhales a sigh of relief; he even smiles a little bit. “Thank you.” Bowman says.
“You’re welcome. Now, it’s your turn…” Carter insists.
“I did my part, Bowman, now you do yours.” Bowman stares down uneasily at his arm. He brings the knife up and rests it on his sunburnt skin. The knife glistens. He glides it down the outside of his forearm until midway to the wrist the blade begins to sink into his flesh. Bowman clenches his teeth and begins to breathe heavier and at a quicker rate. Blood flows out of his cut and down his arm, covering his hand and pooling below him. Like slicing an apple, he pulls the blade up and out of his arm, causing a small, thumb-sized piece of flesh to fall loose. Carter licks his lips in anticipation.
“Here…” Bowman tosses the flesh to Carter who eagerly devours it, licking blood off of his fingers. Bowman winces in pain as blood continues to flow from his open wound.
“You’ll want to cover that up.” Carter motions to the wound with the raising of his eyebrows. “It’ll keep bleeding, especially if you don’t put your arm higher than your—”
“Fuck you, I know first aid.” Bowman snaps at him. He rips a piece of his shirt off and wraps it around his arm, covering the wound. Blood quickly seeps through the bandage. He stares at Carter with a great deal of contempt and resentment.
“That wasn’t entirely bad, was it?” Carter asks, wiping some blood off of his chin.
“You’re enjoying this.” Bowman states. “Aren’t you? I won’t let you…”
“Oh, is that it? No more water then?”
“Do you think our little ritual was some kind of pass that gives you access to water?”
“You would have me do it again?” Bowman asks him.
“Think of yourself as…as currency.” Carter’s eyes light up as he replies.
“I don’t want to die out here.”
“Where else on earth would you rather die then?”
“Anywhere, as long as it’s far away from you.” As Bowman finishes he begins to choke on vomit; he grips his stomach and leans over to his left. Nothing comes out.
“You’re going to need more water if you want to keep from dry heaving like that. I can only imagine the pain…the muscles around your chest tightening; and with a rib sticking out…”
Bowman cuts himself again, without making a sound, for more water: Again, he plunges the knife into his skin, continuing along the same path below his bandage, quicker and with less concern. Carter pours some water into the cap of the canteen. Bowman then removes the flesh and flings it onto the floor of the raft in front of Carter, who quickly passes the cap across. Bowman drinks the water, slowly this time, savoring every drop. The small amount of water soothes him; appearing to clear his mind and focus his remaining energy onto Carter, who is rapidly devouring the flesh.
“I think I’m going to like this arrangement.” Carter implies. “See, we’ll both benefit from it. It’s a good thing that we have each other. Without you, Bowman, I’d starve to death. And without me, well, you’d—”
“I’d not know the meaning of true evil.” Bowman interrupts.
“I’m not evil.” Carter snaps back.
“You keep saying that, but your actions suggest otherwise.” Bowman counters. “If you weren’t evil we’d be helping each other, not trying to outlive one another.”
“I dare you to outlive me.” Carter suggests to him.
“I don’t believe you were always evil, at least, on the surface; but I guess being out here changes people.”
“The ocean,” Carter starts, “the ocean changes everyone.”
“Not everyone. Just the ones who are pushing too much below the threshold of sanity in their normal, everyday lives.”
“Well, well, well, Commander Bowman is a psychologist now.” Carter states in a condescending manner. “Tell me what else is wrong with me, won’t you? Maybe I want to fuck my mother? Maybe I’m a fractured individual trying to reassemble the pieces of my broken self? Or maybe, I’m an id, out of control?”
“This situation didn’t make you a monster: You were always a monster; just held back by rules and order.” Bowman pauses to catch his breath. “I’m not a psychologist, and I can’t diagnose your problems…”
“I see.” Carter interrupts.
“But,” says Bowman, “they are problems, not just reactions from someone trying to survive.”
“I hate it when you think you know what you’re talking about.” Carter says angrily. “You make me want to kill you.”
“Just try.” Bowman says while flashing the knife in his bloody hand.
“I was!” Carter replies. “And I will. Or if not me; the ocean will. One way or another, Bowman, you’re a dead man.”
As noon passes the sun rises high into the clear blue sky over the endless ocean; shadows are eliminated as the bright, hot light is scattered and reflected everywhere. Bowman and Carter keep their eyes partially closed to avoid the brightness, putting an awkward strain on their faces. Carter sniffs the air and catches a scent that makes him gag.
“Oh, shit, Bowman,” Carter says with a disgusted look on his face, “I think you’re starting to rot.” Bowman’s eyes open and his gaze shoots down to his abdomen. He moves his hand slightly to examine his wound and is himself repulsed by what he sees.
“It’s getting bad; really bad. I don’t have enough water.” Bowman says; his eyes begin to water slightly as if he is starting to cry. “I don’t want to die.”
“I don’t want you to live.” Bowman gasps at Carter’s reply, and tries to hold back tears and mucous and anything else that comes out of a person’s face when they cry.
“You’re a cruel man, Carter.”
“I’m not a man, remember? I’m a monster.”
“You’re killing me!” Bowman cries. He assumes a begging position, “Please, Carter, I’m begging you, please! Please! Please! Please! Please!” He erupts into hysterical crying. “I’ve got a lot of skin, Carter—I’ve got a lot to offer!”
“Yes, you do.” Carter sympathizes, “But right now, water’s in high demand, and naturally, in such a situation, the price will increase proportionally.”
“What do you want..?”
“I still want a piece of you; I just want a larger piece.” Carter replies.
“How much larger?” Bowman asks.
“I haven’t decided yet.” Carter toys with him.
“Well fucking decide already!”
“Fuck you!” Carter shouts back. “You are in no position to demand anything from me.” Bowman places the knife against the upper portion of his left arm, and begins to dig the blade into his flesh. “Bowman, wait!” Carter exclaims.
“What? You think I won’t do it?!” Bowman barks back at him. “You think I won’t do what it takes to survive?!” Carter raises his head and straightens his posture.
“Like I said, Bowman, the price has gone up.”
“And like I asked, what do you want for it?”
“Give me…” Carter takes a moment to think, “give me your finger.”
“Which one..?” Bowman asks as he swallows the lump in his throat.
“Whichever one you think I’ll enjoy. Whichever one you think is worth a drink of water.” Carter opens the canteen and takes a mouthful. He gasps and wipes his face after lowering the canteen, pressing his menacing stare on Bowman. Meanwhile, Bowman looks down at his left hand, because it is not his dominant hand. He wiggles his fingers around, contemplating which one he should remove.
“You’re just going to eat one of them…?”
“Yes,” Carter chuckles, “like a chicken wing.” Bowman closes his fingers into a fist. “Oh come now, Bowman, don’t tell me you’re too chickenshit to cut off a finger—and for water!”
“There’s got to be another way.”
“To what?” Carter asks.
“To overpower you.” Bowman sternly replies. Carter erupts into laughter. Bowman sets the knife down, close to him, and unbuttons his trousers. At first Carter is confused by his actions but then understands that Bowman is attempting to urinate into his own hand. Bowman struggles, as evident in his face. When he does begin to urinate he winces in pain.
“My, my, Bowman, it’s nearly all blood.” Carter says, referring to the color of Bowman’s urine. “You poor bastard; can’t even drink your own piss. If there is a God, he clearly has no sympathy for you.” Bowman drops to the floor of the raft, pushing his weight up against the side. He takes a deep breath and then begins to cut the smallest finger off of his left hand. Carter’s eyes glow with excitement, and Bowman screams at the top of his lungs; louder than the crashing waves. He cannot completely cut the finger off of his hand before the pain stops him. Blood is flowing all over his legs and onto the floor of the raft. Bowman rips the finger off of his right hand: Trembling, he hands it to Carter.
“W—wa—water…” Bowman utters as he begins to shake and shiver from shock. Carter calmly pours the water into the cap of the canteen as he has before, and passes it to Bowman: He can barely keep the cap steady as he draws it towards his mouth; water pours over his fingers and down his lips; however the reward of cold, fresh water, is more than enough to take his mind off of the intense pain he is experiencing. Bowman keels over and his face lands in a puddle of blood. Carter pulls a small lighter out of his pocket: Flicking it twice, he begins to cook Bowman’s finger over the flame. Once Carter determines that the finger is cooked enough, he throws the lighter over to Bowman.
“Use it. Seal up your wound or you’ll drown in your own blood.” Bowman slowly grabs the lighter off of the floor and flicks it twice: The golden flame rises high above the lighter. He moves his hand towards it and pushes his small, open wound into the flame. Bowman does not utter a sound as his wound is cauterized.
“I hope you know that the longer you live, the higher the price will be to keep you alive.” Carter states as he finishes chewing the flesh off of Bowman’s small finger. All that remains is bone, which he sucks clean with an awful sound. Bowman watches Carter enjoy it, and then toss his finger bone into the ocean.
“Carter, I want you to know, that I’m going to kill you.” Bowman starts with a shaky voice. “I’m going to bash your stupid face in; then I’m going to strangle you to death and then I’m gonna rip you to pieces when I’m done.”
“That isn’t a very nice way to be talking to the man who’s keeping you alive.” Carter reiterates his delusion of benevolence. “Next time you need a refill, I might ask for more than just your fingers.”
“Fuck you, and fuck your water.”
“Oh Bowman, you really must have failed basic economics in high school,” Carter leans in, “because I’ll tell you: I possess the supply—the only fucking supply you need to survive and I will raise the price so high that—”
“That what?” Bowman interrupts, “So high that I’ll die? That I’ll be dead?” Carter leans back, defeated. “Your meat will go bad, Carter. You need me just as much as I need you.”
“For now.” Carter maintains.
“Yeah, for now. Soon I’ll have nothing to lose: You’ll be negotiating with a hopeless man—who knows what I’ll be capable of.” Bowman looks around at the blood-stained life raft. “Why did you eat the others? What do you get out of it?” Bowman attempts to outsmart carter by taking the power back; by pretending not to worry about his fate.
“The others were in worse shape than you. Their fates were sealed, like animals that were left on the side of a road to die.” Carter responds. “Except Manley of course, he was fine: But he jumped.”
“He decided he’d take his chances in the sea.”
“He was a fool.”
“No: He could tell what kind of a person you were before the real seediness crept through.” Bowman says as Carter gives him an annoyed look. “Manley knew that he’d have to kill you or be killed by you and couldn’t bear to live with either option.”
“You talk about these men as if I had no idea who they were.” Carter starts. “They were my fucking friends!”
“Your friends? You ripped your friends to bits!” Bowman screams. “You’ve already shit your friends out! Don’t try to convince me that your life is worth more than theirs, or mine.” Carter charges Bowman in a surprise attack. Bowman is caught off guard but quickly manages to raise his arms in defense, including the knife. Carter reaches for his throat before Bowman manages to stab him twice in the left side. Carter screams and grunts through Bowman’s frantic cursing.
“God damnit, Bowman!” Carter shouts as he lands heavily against his side of the raft. “I’ll fucking kill you!” Bowman gasps for air heavily, having come out of the confrontation uninjured. Carter bleeds heavily from the stab wounds which went straight into his abdomen without shredding too much skin or muscle. The pain forces him to clench his teeth.
“Not if I kill you first.” Bowman responds to his threat. “I warned you to stay away from me.” He wipes the blood from the knife off on his ripped pants.
“If you think you’re getting any of this fucking water now…” Carter continues to threaten him, “It’ll cost you a lot more than your fingers. I’m going to get your whole fucking hand.” Bowman swallows his apprehension at Carter’s remark.
“I’m not afraid of you anymore.” Bowman exclaims. Carter grits his teeth and stares at him with a ravenous glare.
“You will be.”
“No: I’ll stay alive as long as I have to until you’re dead.”
“We both want the same thing.” Carter says. “But I want it more. And I’ve been nothing but patient with you for days; I’ve offered you water—from my own canteen—that you’ve consumed without any gratitude whatsoever…” Carter raises the canteen to his lips. His eyes light up for a moment as he holds it in place.
“Not a single fucking, thank you Carter, after a generously poured a capful.” Carter clutches his wound and takes a single, deep breath. “You, Bowman, are an ungrateful son of a bitch.”
“I don’t believe this…” A confused Bowman mutters.
“I regret not eating you first.” Carter says with a spiteful smirk across his damaged face.
They continue to drift across the vast ocean underneath the hot, bright setting sun, with no islands or rescue vessels in sight. The blood staining the raft has hardened to a crispy-brown substance. Out of delusion and desperation, Bowman begins to sing a song. The lyrics are indistinct and the melody is off-key, aggravating Carter.
“Christ, Bowman, you’re losing your mind.” Carter starts, looking at Bowman with a pitiful gaze.
“I need some water.” Bowman replies in several exhausted breaths.
“No, I’ve changed my mind.”
“What do you mean?”
“Remember that shit you pulled? When you thought you could take the power back?” Carter says. “Well I’ve decided that to punish you, I won’t be giving you anymore water.” Bowman stares at him in disbelief.
“You’d let me die?”
“I wanted you dead to begin with! Mine as well just wait it out now!”
“You’re Bowman!” Carter exclaims.
“Carter! Please! I’ll—I’ll give you my hand!” Bowman shouts as he readies the knife on his wrist; the blade already slicing into his skin.
“Bowman! Stop!” Carter yells. “You’re not getting any! Understand? Nothing! The price is too high for you now.”
“What’s the price?!” Bowman anxiously shouts.
“Your life.” Carter insists. “I want your life. I want you to be dead, and I want to be sucking the flesh off your bones. Get it?”
“You’ve—you’ve eaten people before…”
“Yes! I ate everyone! Everyone in this boat except for you—but when I sink my teeth in you, Bowman, I’ll really know what it feels like to be a survivor rising up amongst the weak: I’ll know what it feels like to be a god.” Carter winces in pain as his excitement has caused his wound to tear. Blood spills out of the cuts and onto the floor of the life raft.
“You’re insane, Carter. You really think that by eating me you’ll somehow survive all of this?” Bowman motions with his arm to the never-ending ocean.
“Well, no, but I’ll survive longer than you.” Carter replies. “We both can’t be survivors, not after what we’ve been through. And just remember that if you kill me, you won’t have anywhere to go. You’ll be lost at sea forever—you’ll never reach land. Never. I promise.”
“That means you won’t either.”
“True. I’ve already accepted my fate.” Carter replies as his gaze shifts from a deadlocked stare to the rippling waves of the ocean. “What a cruel irony—for you—to be surrounded by an endless expanse of water and be unable to have any.”
“There’s some right there.” Bowman nods toward the canteen.
“I already told you, this water is not for sale at this time.”
“How come you’re not drinking any? You haven’t touched the canteen in—in hours.”
“It’s called, rationing, moron. I’m saving it for when I really need it.”
“What’s the point?” Bowman asks. “If you’re so certain you’ll outlive me and so certain you’ll be stranded at sea indefinitely, what’s the point in saving any?”
“I didn’t say I was saving it for me. I’ll continue to use the water, however I want, to get whatever I want, from you.” The sun begins to set below the horizon; the few clouds in the sky glow hot orange and then pink as the light fades from above. Carter secures the canteen next to him and rests his head on the side of the raft. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
“You trust me enough to go to sleep?” Bowman asks him.
“I trust that you’re not strong enough to do anything to me if I do.” Carter replies, his eyes still closed shut. “I’m a light sleeper.” Carter drifts into sleep after his words. Bowman is left alone and awake, staring at him. He carefully shifts his weight to assume a more comfortable position. Bowman watches Carter, looking for any sign that he may move or feign sleep.
Carter does not move or flinch or open his eyes: He just continues to breathe consistent, shallow breaths. The repetitiveness and calmness of Carter’s sleep begins to send Bowman into a sleep: He feels it is safe now, with Carter out, to finally rest.
And Bowman is out.
Bowman wakes suddenly from a deep sleep with a jolt: His muscles tense and his lungs draw in a full breath. His eyes scan the darkness and acclimatize to the lack of light. He is still in the raft. He is still on the ocean, though he cannot see any water in the dark. He is still in a standoff with Carter—who remains asleep. Bowman keeps quiet as to enjoy the peace and reprieve from Carter’s terror. He takes several breaths, staring at Carter sleeping, thinking he could take him, easily, while he is asleep. As the ocean waves roll the raft up and down, Bowman notices a bit of Carter’s blood moving beneath him. Could he be dead? Bowman wonders; he quickly spots his chest rising and falling. Not dead.
Bowman again eyes the blood on the floor of the raft. Carefully and quietly he musters the strength to push himself up and slide to the other side of the life raft—towards Carter. Bowman moves within inches of him; Carter remains asleep. His nose flinches at the putrid smell of Carter’s festering wound; this draws him closer. Bowman seems to enjoy the smell—possibly recognizing or confusing it with the smell of food.
Bowman leans in closer. He sees the canteen of water resting against the wall of the life raft and Carter’s side. Now is his chance to take the water—take the power out of Carter’s hands. Or kill him. Or both. The canteen is just sitting there, unguarded, full of precious water that will without a doubt give him another few days of life.
He leans in closer. The smell of Carter’s blood draws him nearer. In the darkness Bowman finds his wound and delicately licks the blood surrounding it. Carter moves—but remains asleep, not noticing Bowman drinking his blood. Realizing the ravenous obsession taking over, Bowman has to pull himself away from the wound; blood stains his lips and teeth.
Now is his chance: He pulls the knife from his belt, blade pointing at his sleeping victim. He leans closer to Carter, carefully controlling the position of the blade against the rocking and swaying of the raft. Carter does not wake. Bowman places the knife against Carter’s neck and delicately drags the blade along his throat. Bowman’s eyes fill with a look of murderous rage and excitement: This is it—the moment he takes control and ends Carter’s reign of oppression over him. Before Bowman slashes Carter’s jugular vein open he eyes the canteen one more time, sitting openly beside him. With one hand on the knife Bowman reaches for the canteen and secures it in his hand. When he looks back up Carter is staring right into his eyes.
“Fuck.” Bowman mutters as Carter lunges forward, tackling him to the floor of the raft. The knife and canteen go flying; Carter screams as he attacks and Bowman clenches his teeth. Carter repeatedly hits Bowman in the side as all he can do is defend himself on his back. Realizing he has no chance of reprieve, Bowman hits back, knocking Carter in the eye and jaw several times. Carter stumbles backwards as he chokes on blood.
“Come on, asshole, you want me?!” Bowman exclaims. Carter again lunges forward and the two of them hit the side of the raft. Carter claws at Bowman’s arms as Bowman hits and punches and smacks Carter across the head and face. Blood splashes to and fro as the brutal fight continues. Carter sticks his fingers into Bowman’s abdomen wound causing him to shriek in pain. Bowman’s smashes Carter’s face and violently kicks him away. Carter collects himself on the other side of the raft, staring Bowman down with that menacing, malevolent grin—even chomping his teeth at him. Bowman wipes a smattering of blood off of his face and regains his composure. He looks around for the knife.
“What’s the matter, Bowman?” Carter asks, “Can’t even kill me with your bare hands?” Bowman makes the first move and thrusts for Carter’s throat. Carter cannot move quickly enough and before he knows it Bowman has his neck in his grip, furiously scratching at the already damaged skin. With another punch Carter’s face is broken and he falls to the floor. Bowman reaches for his throat with the other free hand and Carter begins to bite with the last bit of strength he has. Bowman hits Carter’s head and then they both fall over, with Carter in a stranglehold. Bowman tightens his grip on Carter’s throat. Carter cannot breathe and struggles to gasp for whatever little air he can get. Bowman squeezes harder, clenching his teeth as he kills Carter. Carter slowly stops hitting back as he runs out of oxygen.
“I did it.” Bowman mutters.
“What?” Carter asks in a deathly quiet gasp.
“I outlived you.” Bowman tightens his grip one last time on Carter’s throat, crushing his wind pipe, strangling him to death. He holds this position for a few moments to ensure Carter is dead.
Releasing his grip, Bowman pushes Carter only slightly away and gasps for air, trying to slow his heart rate down. He glances around and at first cannot find the canteen for it is too dark. Eventually he spots it on the other side of the raft. He pushes Carter’s body off of him and against the side of the raft. In a second step, after a deep breath, Bowman hoists Carter’s body over the side and into the ocean.
“See you in hell, Carter.” Bowman slouches against the side and feeling too exhausted and knowing that Carter is dead and gone, finds comfort in being able to sleep without worry.
Bowman wakes slowly with the bright hot sun beaming down on his damaged body. He opens his eyes and peers around, assessing his situation and that he is still stranded in the middle of the ocean, and that his one and only adversary has been defeated. Blood covers most of the raft—evidence of the violent struggle he is piecing together in his memory. He sees the knife sitting close to him, clean and bloodless. Then he sees the canteen, on the other side of the raft, spattered with blood. The canteen he fought so hard for—he killed for—is only several feet away. Bowman peels himself off of the floor of the raft, out of a puddle of blood, and crawls for the canteen. His mouth waters and his eyes explode with desperate excitement.
Bowman grabs the silver canteen, quickly unscrews the cap and hoists it over his head, over his dry, sore mouth. Not a drop of water empties from it. He holds it steady—nothing. Bowman shakes the canteen—it is bone dry. With disappointment he lowers the empty canteen, staring into space, realizing how devastating this discovery is.
“Carter, you son of a bitch.” He whispers to himself. How long has the water been gone? Bowman contemplates; his eyes shifting wildly as he ponders how long he was duped for and what he expects will happen next. Was there ever any water in the canteen? He cannot recall with certainty. Bowman throws the canteen down and falls against the side of the raft. He looks exhausted, peering out at the infinite ocean, the rolling waves, he gasps for air; his eyes sink and his posture weakens. Understanding that there is no way out and that the current will carry him forever, deeper into the sea, Bowman keels over, landing against the bloody floor of the raft. He looks tired, worn-out and defeated. Tears roll out of his eyes, even as he tries to hold them back by shutting them. Bowman’s cheeks tense up and he erupts into full-on crying. He is crying because he knows he is going to die out here: Alone, beaten and bloody. Bowman sniffs his tears back and closes his eyes.
An unknown amount of time passes as the aimlessly drifting raft approaches the shore of a small island or land mass. Wave after wave the raft creeps up to the shore, eventually landing against the soft sand on the brief beach. The raft comes to a rest, even as the ocean waves repeatedly splash against it: The raft does not move from this position.
The raft is empty.